Posts Tagged ‘Review’

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Review – Bioshock 2

February 23, 2010

Available on: Xbox 360, PC, PS3

Version Reviewed: PC

2K Marin have also done the PS3 version of Bioshock.

A great scholar once said, “Right here on the ocean floor, Such wonderful things surround you, What more is you lookin’ for?” What more indeed, many people will come to Bioshock 2 launching criticism like a juiced up splicer hurling bees, ‘Rapture doesn’t feel new’ they’ll scream, ‘I’m not squashing people under my size thirteen’s’ others will moan, ‘Buying this game didn’t get Sarah to notice me at lunchtime’ Timothy from Massachusetts will strangely allege.

Final absurd point aside these ‘complaints’ aren’t without reason, but did you expect Rapture to feel all that new? An invitation back to one of modern entertainments more interesting locales should be embraced not dismissed as for all its similarities the team at 2K Marin have re-created and expanded Rapture beautifully without losing any of its unique charms, What more is you lookin’ for?

Daddy Issues

Filling the oversized boots of Prototype Big Daddy ‘Delta’ the game’s opening sees you rudely separated from your Little Sister companion by the game’s villainous figure, Sophia Lamb. It turns out that Lamb was one of Andrew Ryan’s main figures of opposition and a key figure in the downfall of Rapture, an addition that may irk some fans however Lamb’s morally ambiguous objectives and soulless delivery create a character that only serves to foster questions throughout the game as you struggle to reclaim the sister she took from you, moulding a story that manages to holds its own against the first game’s Pulitzer Prize quality scribe.

Rapture is in an even worse state than the previous game.

Progression through the game is linear to a degree, you’re free to explore each individual area though roughly until you decide to progress the plot, which is for all intents and purposes the same system as the first game. This new system works to the game’s advantage however, walls will come crashing down on your face, forcing you to plod along the sea bed to a new area or you’ll have to fight your way out of a flood that threatens to seal you in a watery grave, the frequency and impact of setpieces has been turned up to eleven.

The Gameplay has also been improved greatly through the simple addition of dual wielding a gun and plasmid power at once, no longer must you sacrifice playing around with telekinesis for the sake of having a firearm at the ready. The weapons unfortunately feel like Big Daddy ‘versions’ of standard armaments and many of the plasmids are returning favourites however a few of the late additions to your arsenal are well worth waiting for.

Aside from you being able to shoot better, those that want to plug some bullets in you tend to come in a larger array of flavours, normal and Houdini (invisible) splicer opponents return alongside the hulking Big Daddies but they are accompanied by the unwieldy Brute who will happily throw the nearest heavy object your way, and the frightfully nimble and screamy Big Sister who will act unkindly to anyone who tampers with the Little Sisters roaming a level, these fights alone are worth the entry fee.

n'yaw, innit cute?

It’s not all praise however, the initial hours will feel like a re-tread of Bioshock; plasmid introduction and progression will cause Déjà vu moments a-plenty for all but the most forgetful of players and Little Sister protection can become an exercise in monotony. That said the game only manages to improve itself throughout with the final hours offering an arguably better experience than anything in Bioshock, you can live in confidence that while the first game peaked early the second is always accelerating to its nuclear explosion of a final act.

Under the Sea

It’s plot isn’t as intelligent as Bioshock, and the location won’t re-introduce your jaw to the floor like it’s 2007 again, but as a return to Rapture it improves itself as a video game; your moral decisions have a larger impact, the tweaks to gameplay make it simply more fun to play, and having more nooks and crannies than a Parisian back street means the investigative player will double, perhaps even triple their playtime over a straight six hour run.

Add to this brilliantly realised single player a surprisingly interesting and unique multiplayer, plasmid powers and tight interior fighting helps it stand out from the modern warfare seen elsewhere, and 2K Marin have created a more complete package than the first game offered. It’s not the bravest of sequels to come out recently but, as that great scholar once said, “Darling it’s better, Down where it’s wetter, Take it from me.”

9

For your consideration – Download-tastic! 2K have already announced an incoming multiplayer expansion that sounds a touch dubious but there is single player content promised, and with Delta’s story all but done here’s looking forward to some interesting ‘episodes’ in Rapture’s future.

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Zero Gear Review

January 14, 2010

Nimblebit have also done: Nothing, this is their first game!

It’s unfair to label Zero Gear as an attempt to give PC gamers a Mario Kart (as may be the first reaction from many people) because it has not got much in common with Nintendo’s drift happy, uber weapon friendship destroyer and compares more favorably to the once legendary Micro Machines games.

The game is a very straight forward racer, with wide accommodating tracks and very sticky handling, there is a hop button for angular turns but no corners require any great deal of control dexterity to traverse meaning pretty much anyone can stay on track and enjoy themselves.

And yes it’s got weapons but they demand more skill to use and cause less problems when they strike, and whilst it’s possible to be spun around the game does all that it can to bring you back into the race without causing the player in first an aneurysm.

All racers also earn boost that can be deployed with the shift key, this all-important nitro can be gained by spinning in the air, racing right behind someone, and through clearing checkpoints. It’s these checkpoints that show a spark of genius as your relative position to the race leader dictates how much boost you gain, meaning a player lagging a couple of seconds behind will be drowning in the stuff whilst only a trickle will be gifted to the race leader, keeping the proceedings tight and entertaining for everyone without anyone contracting Blue Shell shock.

The game also has a fun sense of its physics; the chunky karts bounce around with a sponge like tenacity that ensures to raise a smile on anyone’s race, especially when racing as a maustacioued, monocle-wearing turtle. It’s actually a shame that this sense of fun doesn’t come across as you race on account of the turgid handling that feels odd against the fun physics.

It's got a kind of cutesy Trackmania look to some of it.

But this brings us to the way Zero Gear manages to notch things up, the sporting events. Were it simply racing I’d end here with a ‘it’s alright, if you have the money lighting a fire in your pocket then go for it’ but the sports are highly entertaining. There’s football, Hockey, Tag, and a form of darts to name a few but once the silly racers get off tracks and start bouncing around in the sports the sense of fun shines through, and really makes the game easy to recommend. They’re hard to play yes, but that sense of anarchy adds to the humour they induce, great party like gaming.

It’s a shame the tracks aren’t that challenging or have a miniature golf style sense of fun but as a half way house between Micro Machines and Mario Kart, with some flashes of originality, Zero Gear is an entertaining enough racer/party game that is great fun with friends and should be a fun wind down after another failed attempt at Left 4 Dead 2’s Hard Rain on Expert. The achievements should raise a wry smile as well.

7

For your Consideration: Zero Gear is a PC game, and there are methods of creating custom tracks, ergo I could find my complaints about nothing too taxing remedied pretty soon.

*Note* Zero Gear is free to try this weekend on Steam (14/1/10 – 17/10/10) so load it up and check it out.

It’s unfair to label Zero Gear as an attempt to give PC gamers a Mario Kart (as may be the first reaction from many people) because it has not got much in common with Nintendo’s drift happy, uber weapon, friendship destroyer and compares more favorably to the once legendary Micro Machines games.

The game is a very straight forward racer, with wide accommodating tracks and very sticky handling, there is a hop button for angular turns but no corners require any great deal of control dexterity to traverse meaning pretty much anyone can stay on track and enjoy themselves.

And yes it’s got weapons but they demand more skill to use and cause less problems when they strike and whilst it’s possible to be spun around the game does all that it can to bring you back into the race without causing the player in first an aneurysm.

All races also earn boost that can be deployed with the shift key, this all-important nitro can be gained by spinning in the air, racing right behind someone, and through clearing the checkpoints. It’s these checkpoints that show a spark of genius as your relative position to the current leader dictates how much boost you gain, meaning a player lagging a couple of seconds behind will be drowning in the stuff whilst only a trickle will be gifted to the race leader, keeping the proceedings tight and entertaining for everyone without anyone contracting Blue Shell syndrome.

The game also has a fun sense of its physics; the chunky karts bounce around with a sponge like tenacity that ensures to raise a smile on anyone’s race, especially when racing as a maustacioued, monocle-wearing turtle. It’s actually a shame that this sense of fun doesn’t come across as you race on account of the turgid handling that feels odd against the fun physics.

But this brings us to the way Zero Gear manages to notch things up, the sporting events. Were it simply racing I’d end here with a ‘it’s alright, if you have the money lighting a fire in your pocket then go for it’ but the sports are highly entertaining. There’s football, Hockey, Tag, and a form of darts to name a few but once the silly racers get off tracks and start bouncing around in the sports the sense of fun shines through, and really makes the game easy to recommend. They’re hard to play yes, but that sense of anarchy adds to the humour they induce, great party like gaming.

It’s a shame the tracks aren’t that tight or really have a sense of fun but as a half way house between Micro Machines and Mario Kart, with some flashes of originality, Zero Gear is an entertaining enough racer that is great fun with friends.

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Dragon Age: Origins Review

January 4, 2010

Version reviewed – 360 (with wank controls)

Also available on – PS3, PC

Bioware have also done – Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect.

A long time ago…

Talk to anyone old enough to remember ‘proper’ RPGs (they probably have a beard) and they will wax lyrical about epic five hundred hour quests, compelling characters, thrilling inventory management and pouring over statistics pages longer than Gene Simmon’s tongue. Finding one of these people may be hard now however as Bioware seems to have kidnapped them all to work on Dragon Age: Origins for the past twenty years.

DA is an obese game, it’s belt is about ready to ping off with all the content that’s been rammed into every last byte available, but be warned; it can be a slog if you’re not used to the games DA:O is aping. Sections another game would squeeze into thirty minutes, DA:O stretches into suffocating two or three hour campaigns as you waddle around ancient halls looting every last pot and bookcase, slaying hundreds of dudes, and running out of inventory space.

The game does its best to avoid sections becoming a chore, interesting set pieces are sprinkled refreshingly frequently throughout the dungeon crawls which range from the standard Bioware staring contests (conversations) to some light puzzling and other, slightly off kilter experiences, whilst party members will share genuinely interesting conversation on a whim. Oh and the frequent combat is fun as well, if unfathomably punishing.

Yes, along with the social life threatening length of the game it’s also a punishing affair even on the apparently ‘normal’ difficulty and unless you save frequently a misjudged manoeuvre on your part could mean getting thrown back an hour by a cheeky group of wolves.

Something old, something new.

Whereas frequent checkpoints are something that didn’t sneak in, other modern game elements have, for better or worse. Regenerating health is on such offender and whereas it makes every fight more immediately challenging as the developers have been able to tailor each fight to a fully healed party, traps become negligible thanks to your health returning immediately, rendering what is normally a demanding hazard in these types of RPGs a throwaway annoyance.

But all this critical analysis is froth on the surface because Bioware kidnapped those bearded wise RPG players to make a game to satisfy the very people that enjoy dungeon crawling, loot grabbing, the company of pointy eared folk and dialogue and art stolen from Tolkein’s secret giant tree lair (he doesn’t seem the sort for a volcano).

So if you’re the type who dreams of sprouting a forest from your chin, swigging a ‘flagon’ of ‘mead’, and carving up legions of gribbly demons with a glowing broadsword then tell your friends they won’t see you for a few weeks, Dragon Age is the game for you.

8

Recommended version – PC

For your consideration – Bioware have stated that Dragon Age is in for the long haul, they’re talking ten months of DLC and with some out already and the ‘return to Ostagar’ set for a January release they aren’t kidding, and this is only part one of a proposedtrilogy (isn’t everything) so if you like it, it may be the only fantasy RPG series you need for a few years.