Saturday, 22 October 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops [PS3] [QUICK&SHORT]

A First-Person Shooter where you retrace the actions of a special forces operative throughout the 1960's, carrying out controversial missions in Vietnam, Cuba, Russia and the Arctic circle. The complete plot is explained very slowly through fairly graphic and violent cutscenes, as well as through the playable elements of the game.

Major Points
Controversial. See my review of COD: Modern Warfare 2 for issues I had with a previous game in the series - in this game there is some genuinely controversial story lines covered and offensive material - people blown, ripped, stabbed, burned and shot to bloody death right before your eyes, often by your own hand.
Blockbuster title - Lots of massive set pieces and explosive action to keep trigger jockeys happy, although some of the sequences can get a bit "overkill" whereby you can't see what the bloody hell's going on.
Shit-Hot Multiplayer - Takes all the fun and customisable elements of the previous games and adds to it tenfold. Here you can add your own clothes, dogtags, online name, clan, attachments and patterns for guns, extra weapons, perks and killstreaks. Each of these has to be earned through online play and is remarkably satisfying to keep you going ("...just one more level before I can colour my name pink and have a purple heart dogtag!").

Good all-out-action fun - if you are looking for no-nonsense explosive death adventure you won't be disappointed with this. 
Perhaps a bit too overkill for what it claims to be - "Black" operations normally don't involve dozens of U.S. Army helicopters firing rockets and a massive ground force moving in. This also can blind you from the action and drama involved - animations of people writhing in agony lost in a blur of explosive blasts.
Lots of stuff here to keep you playing - the online games are truly great and there's also Zombies mode for a couple of extra hours of fun with mates. Single player will keep you going for 10 to 15 hours anyway so you do get a lot of bang for your buck.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Costume Quest [QUICK&SHORT] [PS3]

It's Halloween and you play the role of Reynold, a young boy off trick-or-treating 
wearing his best robot costume with his twin sister in tow. Suddenly, a monster attacks from out of nowhere and kidnaps your dear sibling and it's left up to you to save her - and the rest of the town - from alien monsters!

Major Points
Novel Concept - the unique selling point here being that as you put on new costumes you take on each costume's powers. This works well and gives a nice variety of options to go into battle with (Turn-Based-RPG/Quick-Time-Event style).

Cute, but Adult Cute - yes, it's colourful and inoffensive and you're a young kid playing dress-up but it's that type of cute which is clearly written with adults/semi-adults in mind (a la Spongebob). Subtle humour and pop culture references bounces off childrens ears with no harm done while adults giggle (ashamedly).
Much, much, much too bloody short and easy - fine, maybe I'm asking too much for a game I got free and is probably aimed at children but I was done with this in 5 hours (practically 100% too) and I didn't feel desperately challenged once I'd got my costume/abilities set-up how I wanted it.

A nice (though annoyingly short) romp with an charming quirkiness that is present throughout the game. It really is nice to see a game that sticks to a strong theme in every element.

The game is both accessible and functional meaning that a non-gamer could come in and pick the game up fairly easily, with all usual RPG-stat-studying out the window.
Sadly, this means that for a regular gamer the difficulty level never picks up and ends rather promptly - either because it hopes you'll fork out more for extra missions or perhaps simply because it ran out of steam and funky ideas.

*By the way, this was one of the games I got FREE (see for more info). As such I can't really complain that much but would certainly say that you should not under any circumstances pay more than a tenner for this. If you do, you'll beat the TV screen to pieces once you find yourself at the end credits before the pot of tea has brewed.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Killzone 3 [QUICK&SHORT] [PS3]

You are part of a marine squad sent to a planet at war with Earth, the planet Helghan. Played out as a first-person shooter, you watch in horror as Helghan's most devastating weapon is aimed at Earth - and you have no way of making contact to warn them.

Major Points
Satisfyingly colourful - weirdly enough I feel obliged to mention how happy I was that less than 25% of the single player story is drudgy brown or grey. And that makes up about 80% of multiplayer maps.
Enjoyable story - for a gung-ho romp it's quite fun. Muscled men, one-liners, explosions, the usual bollocks.
Nearly the Playstation Move blockbuster I was looking for - the motion controls aren't quite good enough to play through the story on Normal difficulty comfortably and crouch-aiming requires 3 hands (which I no longer have). Oh, and it's got 3D....which I also do not have.

Better than a lot of the pap around. Colourful and fun enough in single player with the story to go with it - if only the single player was a little longer!
Sadly, multi player (although offering randomly changing and adaptive objectives) comes off rather bland and I was bored within a couple of hours.
With a longer story, better multi player maps, options and refined Move controls this could have been spectacular. 

LittleBigPlanet 2 [QUICK&SHORT] [PS3]

Side-on view platformer (a-la Sonic) where you control a customisable "Sackboy" figure through a widely-varied and puzzling World. 
The quirk is that you can make your own levels, games and so much more using the in-game tools - pretty much anything you see in the main story you can use!

Major Points
Fun. Very fun. Absolutely bags of fun. And cute. If you don't like cute, you might not like this.
Massively creative - Love the tools added in this sequel (mainly the game programming/logic board tools).
Massively upsetting - when you go on-line and look at what people with too much time on their hands have created. Oh, the penises.

A really awesome package, a clear step up from the first (which was pretty good itself). 
Lots that can be done with this, you can spend days creating stuff with this one.
Very cutesy and there is still a lot of Stephen Fry - if you don't get on with either of these two you'll be pressing "eject" pretty sharp-ish.

Dead Space [QUICK&SHORT] [PS3]

A third-person shooter/sci-fi survival horror where you are Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent into deep space to try and establish what catastrophe struck the USG Ishumura - a deep space mining vessel.

Major Points
Very good use of tension and atmosphere - you are in the heat of the moment at all times, including while using menus (a-la Doom 3). Some good thrills and jumps, nice story threading it together. Excellent dismemberment of alien nasties with your upgradeable weapons. Slightly tedious running back and forth on this huge ship with actually not quite enough to shoot.

Very good and in many ways both pays homage to and adds to the genre. 
The setting, storyline and many other elements are nicked from other films and games.
However, the overall presentation is spot on and the fun on offer in the form of stamping aliens into squishy goo can't be denied.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Review Update - 7th October 2011

Reviews Backlog
Well this month I have had very little time to play games but similarly have also had very little time to write reviews so I guess that all cancels out, eh? 

Er... wait... no I've got a backlog of about 50 reviews to get through. Bugger. 

O.K. - Plan B: Got a good idea to get through a load all at once. I'll do a series of quick-fire reviews of only a few lines each - giving an overview of the game and my feelings and nothing more. Most of these will be games that I'm not extremely impressed with but really they deserve less of my time anyway..... so there.

Aha! A Plan! Genius! Expect some half-arsed lazily-written crap to appear on here in a few days time.* 

*They will complement the half-arsed lazily-written crap that was already on here.

Upcoming Full Reviews
On the games that I am extremely impressed with, expect full reviews in a week:
  • ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD [PS3] - due end Feb 2012
  • From Dust [PS3 DLC] - due start Mar 2012
  • Swords and Soldiers [PS3 DLC] - due end Feb 2012
and, I am ashamed to admit:
  • a "Kingdom Hearts" Special - watch this space!
(it's OK. I didn't have any self-respect left anyway)

Site Additions
I'm working on a few extra pages for the site, some just adding in a bit of background and help (glossary, guides etc.) but also some specials such as a homage to some of my favourite video game series.

These are works in progress but I'll put them up in their half-built form for people to look at. As always - feel free to add comments or suggestions and I'll try to work them into my stuff.

I depressingly also did a bit of a catalogue of my games. The half-complete list is up on a separate page now. So that's where all my money's been going. 

Free(ish) Games
My final point to add to this update is a small thank you to games companies for all the free games I've had recently.

O-ho! Illegally downloading were you? Naughty Naughty.

No, actually. This is what happened:

I needed the benefits of a "Playstation Plus" Membership to have the online save files options. This is so that if, or rather when, I upgrade to a low-power 320GB console I can simply download all of my save files and pick up where I left off. This was on offer for something like £32.99 for 12 months. As an unexpected advantage of this, I have in the past month or so downloaded for FREE and to KEEP:
  • Costume Quest [Full Game]
  • Plants Vs. Zombies [Full Game]
  • Crash Commando [Full Game]
  • Streets of Rage 2 [Retro Update]
  • Altered Beast [Retro Update]
  • Comix Zone [Retro Update]
  • Resident Evil - Director's Cut [Retro Update]
  • Arc the Lad 1 [Retro Update - Japanese Import]
  • James Pond 2 - Robocod [Retro Update]
  • Rayman [Retro Update]
  • 1000 Tiny Claws [minis - small downloadable Playstation games]
  • Speedball 2 - Evolution [minis]
  • Street Smart [minis]
  • The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character [minis]
  • BABEL: The King of Blocks [minis]
  • Jelly Pops [minis]
  • Kaleidoscope [minis]
  • Guerrilla War [mins]
  • OMGZ [minis - by the way the title stands for "Oh My God - Zombies"]
  • Bashi Blocks [minis]

Now half of these I certainly would never have paid money for but look at some of them: 
Resi 1!
Plants Vs. Zombies HD and Coop!
Costume Quest! (Tim Schafer RPG involving kids putting on costumes to gain their power)
Streets of Rage 2! (Megadrive classic)
Altered Beast! (another Megadrive classic)
Comix Zone! (one-of-a-kind genius)
James Pond 2! not....

And also Nintendo stepped up to the mark and offered a multi-player and DS-tailored version of The Legend of Zelda: 4 Swords Anniversary Edition which is so far absolutely great fun....for less than a penny!

So, in short, thank you for meaning that I blow less of my money on your crap games. Just keep slippin' me a few free ones and I'll keep coughing up for the better ones.

Speak Soon!