Category Archives: Reviews

Xbox One and Wii U: Impressions from Eurogamer Expo

With Eurogamer Expo 2013 wrapping up and the dust settling to what was a frenzied first day, I have recovered from the shell shock to make an attempt to put down what I experienced in writing. As Joe mentioned the show was not the best when it came to organisation, pushing English sensibilities to their limits with far too much queuing and even a little kettling for old time’s sake, but putting that all aside, it’s the games that we their for.

Splitting our focus, I went for the Xbox One area to get some hands-on with Microsoft’s new machine. First up Forza Motorsport 5, but before I go on about the game I should mention the console and control pad as it was my first hands on. The console itself is really something you will want to hide under your TV as it is not the most beautiful looking piece of kit. Whereas in the past the Xbox 360 had its curves, this has more in common with the old top loader VHS players in bulk and presence. The Kinect also is pretty large; how this will fit on top of some of the thinner TV’s out there is anyone’s guess. The controller on the other hand is a vast improvement on previous iterations; the control sticks are very responsive as are the well placed trigger and bumper buttons and the size, though it is smaller, manages to fit well even in my spade-like hands. Back to the game itself and a bane of any new console quickly rears its head, loading times. They are everywhere, frequent and long, selecting your car then selecting your colours, each area leads to a long and impatient wait just to get to the track and even when on it I have to say I was a little underwhelmed, OK the cars look fantastic but the tracks and environments in the background felt a little “digital”(not helped with Gran Turismo 6 across the room that looked stunning). The controller was yet again the saving grace, offering tight controls and the rumble feedback being the best I have experience for a long time, really making it feel like you are working hard for those corners.

Next up was Ryse: Son of Rome, a game that after the recent expo’s didn’t get the best reaction Miscrosoft could have hoped for; thankfully with a hands on this now looks like it can be a real contender. The apparently overused button bashing moments have been put aside for a more God of War feel, this time with the game taking us through a two player co-op colosseum, fighting for the pleasure of the amassed crowds, with the visuals really showcasing what the Xbox One can do, taking in the scenery of the towering spectator areas before spotting the incoming warriors, looking to prove their worth by spilling your blood. The fierce action is quite simple in execution with you swapping from attacks and shield blows before wearing down the enemy for one of those visceral slow motion finishers. In co-op you need to keep an eye on your partner, teaming up to fight the many incoming enemies whilst also negotiating the many traps that litter the sand and blood strewn floor. Though not explained there was a crowd meter in the top corner that appeared to rise when you got into more fights or lower when you just wander around looking for something to do, possibly linked to a scoring system. With numerous objectives popping up during this huge battle and an awful lot to take in, the colosseum mode looks like it will be a treat to play come its final release.

Killer Instinct was also playable at the Expo, this hyper fast fighting game teaching me many types of humiliation, my arse being handed to me on numerous occasions with the games signature combos and over the top visual style looking great on the screen, the same can’t be said for my fighting skills. The overly large arcade fighting stick was however a treat to use and something I am sure dedicated fighting fans will want to get their hands on for future tournaments; will this replace the Street Fighter series? Only time will tell.

At this point the disorganisation began to wear my patience thin, with queues that did not want to move for Dead Rising 3, or a go on World of Tanks that was a five minute wait in an in game lobby, the worst experience has to go to Fable Anniversary, a game that’s even though not finished, to meet the 2014 release and have a good game seems an impossible dream, playing like a ten your old game with slow and sluggish controls and graphics that look like they had just covered the old ones with a few new HD threads. The actual gameplay didn’t really showcase the game with a running battle though an enemy camp that got boring very quickly, just swinging your sword over and over again in different directions, now I can see why there was not a queue for this game.

Moving away from the Xbox One area I finally gave Nintendo some attention, with the new Super Mario World 3D on the WiiU looking fantastic, with four player co-op returning for some multiplayer mayhem, the standard platforming shenanigans making for familiar but fun gaming with plenty of new powerups to learn, with the cat power up looking particularly good, with Mario donning a cat suit that enables him to scamper up walls and unleash a claw attack. Mario Kart also gets an inevitable and long awaited Wii U title, incorporating many of the recent changes like hang-glider and underwater elements but also adding some F-Zero ideas with racers able to ride along walls and even go upside down on certain parts of the tracks, creating real rollercoaster races. Even with all of the new ultra powerful next gen consoles on show it goes to show that even having the lowest spec console on the market does not mean the Wii U can’t create some stunning visuals.

Not one to sit in a queue for too long and opting for an over the shoulder approach to the final few games, Dark Souls 2 looks like more of the same punishing action as the previous games, with most of the players coming to some grisly ends and Destiny, Bungie’s new title having a standout running demo that looks like everything that made the Halo games great, but with even more.

Queuing and disorganisation aside it’s the games that shone at Eurogamer Expo 2103, giving us all a glimpse of what to expect over the next twelve months and getting us all hyped up for what will surely be an insane and expensive November 2013.

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GTA V Review Round Up: The reviews go live

GTA V Review Round Up: The reviews go live

While we’re all waiting on GTA V to arrive on our doorsteps, how about distracting ourselves with what the critics think? We only received our review copy yesterday so not had chance to do ours of yet.

In the meantime though, scores are starting to appear around the internet from some of the other sites.

We’ve posted a good few of these scores below, although if you have a review you’d like to point out then please add it in the comments field below.

GTA V Review Round Up

CVG – 10/10
Destructiod – 9/10
Edge – 10/10
Eurogamer – 9/10
Joystiq – 4.5/5
IGN – 10/10
Polygon – 9.5/10

Luigi’s Mansion 2 Review

Luigi in a game without Mario? What madness is this? And just how does the Italian plumber becomes a Ghostbusting hero anyway? Only in the world of Nintendo can we see such tales and I guess that’s why this particular publisher and it’s latest 3DS title, Lugi’s Mansion 2 is so unique.
The story behind Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a bit of a strange one. Mad Professor E Gadd from the original Luigi’s Mansion has been spending the time since the first game researching paranormal activity, however when his supernatural subjects turn on him and shatter the Dark Moon, he calls on the only man he knows to fix it, Luigi.
Luigi is a rather reluctant hero and doesn’t really seem very keen on taking up the role of ghostbuster, however given there is no listing on checkatrade for paranormal battling plumbers, he’ll just have to do. So, with the Professor having convinced his friend that he’s the man for the job, Luigi heads into the first mansion to find the first of his ghostbusting equipment. Accompanied by spooky music and strange paranormal activity, it’s enough for him to bite his nails to the bone, however he gets through the job like only a good tradesman knows how.
The five mansion’s which Luigi finds himself wandering through are fantastically designed, with plenty of nooks, crannies and secret compartments playing host to hidden coins and life giving hearts. There are also plenty of cracks, from which Luigi can peer through and watch ghosts comically playing out cutscenes. Throughout the game Luigi only really has two pieces of equipment to fight off the ghosts: a Dark-Light torch attachment which reveals illusions and hidden objects, and the Poltergust 5000 vacuum. The latter is mainly used to capture ghosts using a mixture of the analogue stick and the face buttons, however you can also use it to solve puzzles and open otherwise hidden compartments. The flashlight too gives access to doorways and reveals otherwise hidden ghosts.

Obviously the most fun to be had in Luigi’s Mansion 2 is the ghostbusting. It’s brilliant. Using your flashlight you can stun the enemies, before hoovering them up. In order to do so you’ll have to pull them in your direction using the analogue stick, although failing to do this properly will result in them pulling Luigi around the room, causing damage as a consequence. You also have to be careful to stun the ghosts quickly, otherwise they’ll give you a thump. It’s best to be careful because if you fail a mission you are sent straight back to the start of it, which is probably the most frustrating thing about the game, however once you get a hang of the controls this doesn’t happen too often.
 The level design in Luigi’s Mansion 2 is absolutely fantastic, you’ll spend an age trying to find hidden coins, keys and more. The only frustrating thing about it is that the game isn’t completely free to explore, as once you complete a mission you’ll get beamed back to the Professor’s studio, before once again heading back into the game to take part in the next mission. This will see you exploring more than one room on more than one occasion, however the game does mix things up a little, so you won’t notice this too much.
Another interesting addition to the game is multiplayer. There are three modes in all which send you into a randomised mansion in a group of two to four players. You can stick with your companions throughout the 25 levels, with a boss level every five levels helping to mix things up even more. The multiplayer is fun enough, although not strictly a necessary addition in order to make the game worth paying for.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 offers a nice little change on the 3DS. For one, it’s not Mario, and secondly it’s actually quite different from any other game out there. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is wonderfully designed, quite humorous and a lot of fun to play. If ‘bustin’ makes you feel good’, then you are going to love this game.
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God of War Ascension Review

Many feel that God of War is a series which may soon be coming to an end. “Nothing changes,” they say, and while that may be true to an extent, this time around Sony Santa Monica has been listening, adding a brutal multiplayer experience to the already stellar single player campaign. There is no denying that while past games in the series may have lacked a little substance, they certainly made up for it with both good looks and brutal combat. The same can be said for God of War: Ascension, except this time it’s more brutal and better looking than ever.

The campaign, which we clocked in around eight hours, sees Kratos out to seek redemption for past sins and break the bond that Ares has placed on him. The game is set six months after Kratos was tricked into murdering his wife and child and about ten years before the original. Unusually for the series, throughout the game you’ll see a more human side to Kratos as he delves into his past in order to understand just what happened to him. Don’t worry though as he’s still as brutal as ever, which the three fury’s who are standing between him and the path to breaking his bond with Ares will later find out.

While the story is an interesting distraction, to be honest, Ascension is all about the combat and would you have it any other way? Throughout all of the game’s 30 chapters one of the most striking things you’ll notice is the sheer scale of everything around you. Throughout the entire game you’ll find Kratos making his way through some of the most impressive environments on consoles today, with all that’s standing between you and the end being plenty of enemies and a whole load of bloodshed.

As is usually the case, when it comes to combat Kratos is fairly lightweight at first, only having his Blades of Chaos to rely on in order to take down the enemies which stand in his path. To make up for this he can pick up other weapons from the environment such as swords, spears and hammers, which when combined with the blade attacks help him to dispose of the enemies a little quicker. These environmental weapons also have their own little bonuses, allowing you to use spears to stun or swords to harvest red orbs, which certainly comes in handy when it comes to upgrading Kratos’ main weapons. As you progress Kratos will, of course, find the powers which make the Blades of Chaos a force to be reckoned with. These powers include the ‘Fire of Ares,’ ‘Ice of Poseidon’, ‘Lighting of Zeus,’ and ‘Soul of Hades’. As you kill enemies and find red orb chests you’ll be able to upgrade each of these abilities, making not only for some powerful melee attacks, but also allowing Kratos to cast some powerful and devastating magic based on the power of your choosing.

It has to be said that Ascension’s combat does retain a sense of familiar, with Kratos constantly spilling blood and guts over the environments. There is however a sense of improvement to it all. Combat just feels slightly slicker and quicker, almost as if you are dancing the enemy to its death. It’s great to see that Studio Santa Monica has taken time to smooth out combat, because although it was hardly bad in previous games, the time taken to make things smoother helps God of War: Ascension feel a lot more fun to spend time with.

Combat aside, the puzzles in God of War actually stand up to their name this time around. In past series there has never really been any head scratching moments, however this time, thanks to the inclusion of some pretty clever powers, I actually had to use my power of logic. Three new powers have been added in total, ‘The Amulet of Uroborus’, ‘The Oath Stone of Orkis’, and ‘The Eyes of Truth’. These powers all add some interesting elements to the game, for instance ‘The Amulet of Uroborus’ allows you to decay or heal parts of the environment. This results in some mind bending puzzles as you try to mend bridges and large mechanisms in order to progress further. There was certainly a few moments when I just didn’t have a clue how to proceed, although perseverance eventually helped me through. The same can be said for ‘The Oath Stone of Orkis’, which allows Kratos to split himself in two (handy for escaping enemies) and also ‘The Eyes of Truth’ which allows Kratos to break through an otherwise unbreakable darkness. These three powers really add a lot to the game and prove that Ascension is more than just blood and guts, although to be fair the majority of it still is.

There is so much more to say about the single player, be it the massive boss fights or the moments where your jaw just hits the floor thanks to some of the sights you will see throughout the game, however this is a review, not a walkthrough and given the positive nature of what I’ve have written so far, I’m pretty confident that you’ll want to find out more for yourself.

Away from the single player campaign, in a series first, God of War: Ascension dips its toes into the bloody waters of multiplayer, but far from being a tacked on clone of a game, God of War’s multiplayer is as fun and brutal as the main game itself. In a way the multiplayer does mimic the classic God of War style, using moves identical to the campaign with light and heavy attacks, blocking, counters and parrying, though rather than an easy to figure out attack pattern from an AI you are now fighting against unpredictable human players online. Starting with the weapon and powers ordained to you by your God of choice, you are more than welcome to swap between others once you have leveled up and unlocked them. You are also party to some other more powerful attacks, allowing you to make use of the powers of your chosen God to cast havoc down on those who stand in your way.

The modes on offer include a whole mixed bag of goodness, from the Favour of the Gods which sees four players or a team of four versus four head into some very different arenas. Many of the four player matches I took place in were based in the Forum of Hercules, a simple round arena with spikes on the walls where Hercules watches over you. The aim is simple, keep on killing the rivals until you earn enough souls to win. There are plenty of other arenas too, many of which you can use to your advantage to knock your opponents into pits, off the edge or onto the aforementioned spikes on the walls, resulting in an instant kill. You can even hitch a ride and take control of spawning enemies on occasion, allowing you to cause carnage in the arena.

Elsewhere, other modes involve Match of Champions which is a Free-for-All mode in which every kill earns favour. There is also a classic Capture the Flag mode, while co-op fans will also be happy thanks to the inclusion of Trial of the Gods, a two player co-op mode which has you racing against time, with kills being your only ally to keep the clock on your side.

As mentioned you will be able to upgrade your character thanks to a very deep and rewarding experience system which has you earning points for many different reasons like kills, winning or just participating. With each rank you achieve you’ll be able to earn new items such as lower and upper body armour and also helmets, items, magic and relics. This will allow you to equip your warrior with powerful items which can help turn any match in your favour, especially if you aren’t the greatest fighter in the arena.

It has to be said that the multiplayer feels even more brutal than the single player at times. The action is very frantic and often you’ll find yourself in a brutal and fast paced fight to the death. It’s absolutely fantastic if truth be told and a brilliant introduction to multiplayer in the God of War series.

Strikingly beautiful is perhaps not the description you’d often associate with the bloody and brutal world of Kratos, but it’ll be as good a description as any once you witness the magic that Sony’s Santa Monica studio has once again worked on this aging series. Yes God of War is back with a bang and Kratos has never looked so serious. I don’t know what it is with these games, but as soon as I picked up God of War: Ascension for the first time I just couldn’t put it down until the credits rolled. That’s the sign of a great game and Ascension has great written all over it.

Pros
– This is one stunning looking game
– Brutal fast paced action
– Brilliant original feeling multiplayer
– Excellent use of weaponry
Cons
– Can feel a little repetitive at times

Off Topic Discussion Board

We expect to get a lot of comments on the blog & know that you all enjoy having a chat.  We thought it’d be a good idea to create a post where you can all have a chat, allowing us to keep any stories we write firmly on topic.

We already have a post in which you can swap Gamer ID’s and this has worked well, so we are hoping that this post will also prove popular.?
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