Need For Speed: Undercover

September 22, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Need for Speed: Undercover

Release Date: Nov 18th 2008 (NA) Nov 20th 200 (AU) Nov 21st 200 (EU)

Developer/Publisher: EA Black Box & Firebrand Games (DS) / EA

Genre: Racing

Platform[s]: PC, Playstation 2/3, Playstation Portable, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS

Storyline

You star as a expert police driver, trying to infiltrate a gang of car smugglers, so your task is a simple one, go deep undercover using your skills on the road to convince them that you’re a street racer and gain their trust so you can gain information and stop the gang in their tracks. The action takes place in the 80 miles of road, highway and alley ways of the Tri-City Bay Area – a fictional city made for the game based on several American cities.

Your main tool to gain the gangs trust, is to take place in various street race events, wheel jobs and to avoid the police at all costs, since your fellow police officers will hunt you down as a common criminal, since you’re in so deep undercover.. Your only contact in the police is Chase Linh played by Maggie Q and she is one tough cookie.

So hit the open world and hit the highway at speeds close to and over 180 miles an hour, and bring that gang to its knees… featuring over 55 licensed cars, a brand new Heroic Driving engine, which for the first time puts your car under a new cutting edge physics driven control method, perform amazing driving actions at high speed, and battle improved AI and push yourself to the limit..

Start your engine, turn up the music, and hit the road..

Need for Speed Undercover

Gameplay

The game as a whole seems to be aimed at the more casual player, right from the get go, just after the title sequence starts to roll, your dumped behind the wheel of the starting car [you have no choice in the car or colour ] and let loose in the Tri-City Bay Area, a huge and expansive open world. Being the 12th game in the need for speed series, undercover really needed to deliver something fresh to the series, which is the new physics based driving, which sounds great on paper, but can be a little tricky to handle at excess speed, but the driving aspects are never less than fun.  The first chase in the game really gets the blood pumping, and is a great taster for the game to come.

Anyone who has played Most Wanted will be at home with the Police chases, however this time, they have supposedly better AI and also some more daring tactics to hunt you down, such as pike strips so your job of losing the police, who can start chasing you at any point, is made slightly harder – however the ‘Pursuit Breakers’ are also back, which are items on the map that if you collided with them in just the right way will force any pursuing police to stop and deal with the  problem, however other units will engage you until you can hide and wait out the alert status. Adding to the cars, are also helicopter units that also seem to have been upgraded, these now dart under bridges and are much harder to loose, so watch the skies as well as the road!.

The many races and events are littered across the large open world, but can only be accessed via the in game map or handy downward push on the d-pad, which instantly launches the next rate so unlike other open world racers, such as Burnout Paradise, you can’t drive around finding them – so this does seem a bit of a backwards step, and ultimately limit’s the amount of fun had exploring the world considering the whole open map approach.

Races and events range from simple point to point races, with plenty of time to show off to other gang members to full on highway battles with not only other cars to race, but road traffic and police – so there’s a nice mix of different events and styles of driving, some will require you to have pixel perfect driving so you will be happy to know that the ‘speed breaker’ – a quick button press will slow time down to a crawl for a limited period- returns and is as helpful as ever, for both making tricky turns and avoiding police road blocks and spike strips.

As you progress through the game, towards the ultimate goal of bring the gang down, you also ‘rank up’ and gain driver points which are tallied to your cars specs, at seemly random points, however as the game can be incredibly easy to handle, depending on the car used, you’re never in any real need of them. You will also be able to unlock upgrades and new cars, which will need to be brought, to use, but the performance tuning in the game, is very in depth – from simple paint jobs – to full body kits and transfers there’s enough to keep all but the hard core car tuners happy – with some really great looking cars being able to be made.

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Another handy show off feature, is photo mode – your able to take a ‘photo’ of the car in action at any point in the game, simply hit pause, select ‘photo mode’ and line you your shot – the simple controls can produce some interesting shots, which are in turn uploaded to the NFS website, for viewing and sharing with your friends – a small addition to the game, but one that will be well used by car fans, since the game contains over 55 unlock able fully licensed cars, ranging from the Mercedes CL55 to the Audi R8 – there’s sure to be something to suit both your style of driving and also your look.

Up to 8 players can complete online, in either Sprint – simple point to point races, circuit races or the much more exciting new Cops N’ Robbers mode, where two teams of four take turns being either the Cops or the Robbers. During this new mode, the Robbers have to collect money and drop it off at a certain point on the map, while the Cops pursuit and try to take them down at any cost. This game mode can be very heated with the teams fighting it down to the last, and is a great bonus and building on the single player campaign by giving you a chance to play the ‘good guys’

Graphics

As soon as the games starts your treated to full screen video that sets the scene nicely, with some great acting as well as some really bad acting later in the game, but as a whole – it provides just the right feel.

When you hit the roads however, you may be slightly disappointed by the lack of detail on the streets of the Tri-City Bay Area, there is a total lack of people and any sense of ‘life’ in this sprawling city, and traffic even on the highways is a little thin on the ground, and lacking detail close up. You may also notice on coming cars fade into view, which can be a little off putting at 180 miles an hour.

The sense of speed is good, with blur effects and wind streams when you hit the 100’s – however there are some problems with the frame rate at times, more often than not with a strange stutter that happens every so often, much like in Most Wanted – where you could be tearing down a road at a rate of noughts only to seem a split second pause in the action. There’s also some nasty pop up on buildings etc and installing the game to the Hard drive did not seem to make this issue disappear – but did help slightly in the loading times of events – and being about 4.8gb it’s a fairly small amount of space to loose.

The cars are all nicely detailed and deformable, which you will notice after a few minutes of driving on the highway – with trucks that seemingly like to pull into your lane at the last second, but unlike Burnout, the crashes seem a little tied to the ground, so no exploding cars to be seen here.

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Sound

Over all the sound is well mixed and very realistic, from the growls of the higher performance cars to the clunk of the gear changers – if you like your racing games loud and proud – this game is for you.

Music in the game is also very fitting, ranging from some quite slow tracks to pumping techno tracks that add to the sense of speed on the road – one thing you may miss is the ability to choose the EA Trax, since in this game – you have no choice over it.

Police CB chatter is also very clear and also well voice acted along with being extremely handy – since not only do you know when they are looking for you, but you can also hear just where and when they want to set up a road block or a spike strip, so keep a ear out for important messages coming over the air waves.

The whole sound track mixes in to an exciting experience one which should be played LOUD.

Overall Score & Replayability

Even if the game seems to be aimed at the more casual racer – from the handling of the cars down to the easy race starts, the game is still a worthwhile play. The only downsides to it are the few graphical issues, such as the frame rate, pop up and lack of street detail which if your not that fussy is not a major factor, since some the police chases are some of the best seen.

I say ‘some’ since some of the police chases especially later in the game, are very, very basic with the Police fully intent on ramming you off the road, and that’s what they will try and do, some of the later missions are really a test of your stamina to put up with the crashing and bashing, and looking out for the pursuit breakers – which sometimes are very fair and few between.

It’s a shame that there is not more to do in the open map, with races just appearing on the map and selectable by clicking on them, or pressing down on the d-pad, there’s no real need to explore the city, unlike Burnout paradise – which expected you to find events. Not to say you cannot have fun just driving around, since many a time the police will lock on to you, and a great five or six minute pursuit can ensue.

Another slight letdown is the Heroic Driving – when you are racing or being pursued there’s not really enough time to pull any fancy moves – so even though the game will reward you if you’re able, many people with just forget about it, and put their foot down.

If you can handle that lack of a real need to explore, and are looking for a fun racer, then Undercover is a good choice, however with the likes of Burnout paradise and Midnight Club  LA already released, it has some strong competition.

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Rock Band 2

September 22, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Rock Band 2

Developer/Publisher: Harmonix & Pi Studios / MTV Games

Genre: Rhythm Game

Platform[s]: Xbox 360, Playstation 2/3, Nintendo Wii

Storyline

As with Rock Band and just about every other music rhythm game on the market, the aim of the game is to hit the coloured notes as they travel down the ‘Highway’ – hit these notes at the correct time, and your onscreen instrument will play the correct note, make a mistake, and not only does the music suffer, but your score. Hitting certain special notes flawlessly will allow you to go into ‘Overdrive’ a mode where your score is doubled and the crowd cheer even more!

Unlike other music games, Rock Band was the first franchise to take the normal guitar based game and add in a new dimension – a complete [or near enough] band – up to four players can become part of your band, either offline on a single console, or via the magic of Xbox live.

Not only do you have the choice of playing lead guitar or bass, but also for the first time in a single game your able to pick up a microphone and sing, or play the drums with your friends or alone. Of course the options open to you depend on the controllers used, without any – you can only sing, via a Xbox live headset but add in a USB microphone or drums and guitars from other Xbox 360 music games [ which will all work on Rock Band 2 to differing levels of usability  - and you have a complete band..

There have been minor improvements to the game in general over Rock Band - but the fundamental game play dynamics remain the same - play gigs to earn money to spend on new items, such as instruments or outfits, and progress unlocking new songs along with venues until you reach super stardom

There are over 80 new tracks in the latest instalment [not including the free 20 tracks via the code inbox - and any tracks you already brought - since unlike other games the older RB1 tracks you have paid for and downloaded work in RB2], that coupled with the ability to export most of the songs from the first game disc, [over 60] for a fee of 400 Marketplace points and the promise of new downloadable songs every week, it will be a while before you are bored of the set list.

Time to get your Rock on!

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Gameplay

After connecting your instrument of choice, or the normal pad and a headset, you jump in creating your onscreen rock god [or goddess] – the process is basically the same as in the previous RB game, but this time your onscreen character is not locked to an instrument, so your free to change your role in the band at any time and carry on using the same avatar – this is very handy if you enjoy playing a few different instruments, since your core and money is pooled into one pot.

After that you’re able to choose a few training modes, quick play modes [basically a quick play version of the game] or world tour.

The training modes offers up a practice mode which allows you to practice sections of tracks, or the entire song, without the pressure of failure – you can also slow down the speed the track is played at – which can be handy for tricky parts

The tutorials offer a few basic skills, some Rock Band specific ones that you will need to know, tailored for the instrument you have plugged in. While this may be old news to fans of the games, there are a few special Rock Band moves you will need to learn, if you’re new to the series such as guitar solos, and drum fills. So it’s a good idea to check out the training tutorials, especially if you’re a drummer, since not only does RB2 have a drum beat trainer- allowing you to prefect many standard drum beat patterns, but there’s also a drum ‘freestyle’ mode – this allows you to jam along with any music that you have on your Xbox 360 hard drive, or external USB device. While this is a slight gimmick, the drum kit used has several ‘kits’ you can select from a roomy kit to a electronic ‘bee bop’ pop kit – so jamming along to some classic tunes from your HDD or ipod, adding in drum fills and beats, can keep you amused for a few hours.

Quick play has a few modes, Quick play – solo is unchanged from the first game, as before you can only choose from a small selection of tracks when you first start the game, with songs added as you progress through the ‘World Tour’ mode – but this mode allows you to just pick up and play either on your own or via multiplayer menu with friends on the same console or via Xbox live.

  • Quick play – band allows you and up to 3 others to play on the one console, in the same way as above each taking the role of drums, vocals, lead guitar or bass – you can choose preset characters and just jump in and start rocking.
  • Quick play – tug of war allows 2 players to battle it out, against each others skill at playing sections of the track, one after the other – try and hit more notes and keep the crowd on your side to win
  • Quick play – Score Duel does exactly what it says on the tin, both players play the same instrument, and at the same skill level and see who can rake in the most points.

World tour is the main meat of the game for most people, either once again solo or with others in a band, via one console or Xbox live, if you choose to go it alone – then your instrument you have connected at the time is the choice of your role, so if you need to swap to singing, you will need to connect a pad and microphone for example. Unlike the older game, you have friends who wish to play on the same console, they do not need a profile, they can simply jump in to the band, and choose a preset character – and get playing, this is a small but very welcome addition.

After making your onscreen persona [or one you created for quick play etc] you can name and design the logo for the band, or just choose a random name/ logo, after that you’re into your first gig. Unlike the first game – in offline tour as you go from place to place you can now earn [and lose] fans, a small addition, and one that adds a little to the game – at certain points your able to hire promoters to help boost your fan base, or hire and fire AI members of the band. You also can hire other people that may unlock new venues, so once again, this adds to the overall gameplay.

One of the new additions is the new ‘challenges’ which can pop up between venues / songs – these add another level to the game, since these can be from your downloaded content, so you sometimes have no idea of the song your being asked to play. You can also choose to play a challenge at any time from the main tour screen.

From the main tour screen you can also choose to play a ‘battle of the bands’ these are challenges set by other players and bands, via the rock band website with not only a set list but some also have rules and goals. This does add a little to the game, since these are updated regularly so offer new and exciting challenges every week.

The overall difficulty of the game has been tweaked slightly – so people looking for a challenging game should be very happy with some one the harder levels / tracks – and those new to the series or genre can even add in a ‘no fail’ from the option menu – this allows you to just enjoy playing a song without worrying about the score – this mode does disable saving and online – but it’s ideal for parties or a late Friday night session!

The entire main core game play has been tweaked slightly but remains true to the original, with the addition of a few new items

Online versions of all of the modes work in basically the same way as offline, but using Xbox live your other band members can be anywhere. These mode works well with minimal lag and can be a great deal of fun, the main aim of this mode remains the same, but the added bonus of Xbox live leader boards, so careful choices need to be made if you want to hit the top spots fro fans etc. if your friends also have the game, this might be the mode you may well spend the most time in, this along with leader boards and DLC, will keep this game popular online for many months to come – much like Rock Band 1.

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Graphics

As a music game goes – the game looks great – from the new 3d style menu system to the updated venues there’s only so much that can be done, but the background animation and effects look slightly better than before, with new video effects and lighting adding to the polish.

The notes are clear to see, without fading into the background of the ‘highway’ – which could happen on some other games, with plain background used as a base, unlike games such as Guitar Hero, where sometimes the highway can look a little busy.

Animation of the onscreen band is done well, with lips and body actions, such and strumming and hitting of the drums, matching the sound track perfectly along with a few special effects added when you hit certain parts of the track.

Sound

For a music game this is the most important part – and Rock band 2 delivers by the truck load. From classics like, American Woman to Living on a prayer – the set list is very good, with the added bonus of adding in most of the RB1 tracks – there’s expected to be nearly 500 songs to play – including DLC by the end of 2008

Each track is instantly recognisable [if you’re a fan!] and the punchy 5.1 sound track makes for a truly epic band experience. Adding to this the crowd singing along with the song, if you’re doing well, and you can really feel as if you’re playing a gig in one of the venues.
Sound effects for missed notes and special items, such as over drive being earned, add to the overall effect, but the effect of going into overdrive, which adds in reverb and echo really does get the blood flowing if you hit it at just the right part.

Overall Score & Replayability

Great update of an already great title, adding in a few new modes and minor tweaks to the difficulty level, has made the game slightly better than the older RB1 game. Add in the ability to export almost the entire track list from the first game for 400 MSP – you lose a few due to copyright issues – and you could well end up with well over 150 tracks to play without any downloads – but the fact that any DLC you have got from RB1 works with it, is the icing on the already very tasty cake.

Drum freestyle mode, even though a tiny addition is also great fun, but the main core game is still at the top of the list if your after a ’music and rhythm’ game, even though it’s completing against Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band 2, has the slight edge of a slightly better base set list – but the ability to export songs from the older titles and still play DLC from it as well, may just be the thing that makes this title the winner.

Dead Space

August 20, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Dead Space
Release Date: October 14, 2008 (US) October 24, 2008 (EU) October 23, 2008 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: EA Redwood Shores Studio/Electronic Arts
Genre: Survival Horror
Platform[s]: Pc, Playstation 3, Xbox360

Storyline

Set many hundreds of years into the future Dead Space, the new survival horror game for EA Redwood Shores, it’s a time in which the earth has run out of all of it’s own resources. To stop the human race from dying out completely companies were formed to find these much needed supplies, and the only place left to find these minerals and metals, is in deep space,  rather than use old time mining,  they do it by ripping planets apart and mining the remaining chunks of ex planet. This is were the USG Ishimura fits in, which will be your new home for the length of the game, it is nick named a ‘planet cracker’.

Before the planet crack can be ‘cracked’ a planet a small team of miners are sent to the planet in advance of the ships arrival to prepare the planet, and to see if they find life signs, normally there’s nothing of note on these dead planets. But this time… both the mining team on the planet and the crew of the USG Ishimura fail to report in, and a repair crew is sent to investigate the communications blackout

If you want an insight as to just what happens on the planet and what was found – watching the Dead Space Animated comics on the Xbox Market Place will fill you in on the details (believe me, they are well worth a watch).

When you first start the game – you play the part of Isaac Clarke, just a normal run of the mill Engineer, on a repair mission, simply there to repair a radio array and a few lights… turns out you also hope  meet up with your girlfriend Nicole who was a crew member on the USG Ishimura. You have with you a small team including  Kendra Daniels, a technology expert and Zach Hammond, the senior security officer.

After coming out of hyper-space you find the planet has already been ‘Cracked’ -  and the USG Ishimura is running dark – no signs of lights or life, apart from a few garbled radio messages, after you finally make it on board you find there is something much worse than a few faulty lights…

It appears when the planet was ‘Cracked’ something got loose… some kind of Alien virus capable of re-animating dead tissue, these are the Nero-Morphs who you will come into very close contact with onboard the USG Ishimura!

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Gameplay

From the outset it’s familiar territory for anyone who has played the Resident Evil series, more so  number 4, the over the shoulder view point works well for this type of game, making aiming and more importantly running easy to do in the confines of the mining ship.

You main duties in the game are to repair and restart the various ship systems, some are easy – just flicking a switch will do it, others have simple puzzles to solve and all are to try and get the USG Ishimura back online and get home in one piece. This along with the combat is the core of the game, and as such does get a little predicable, since you know if you fix one system, something else will brake – but you are an engineer, so like Bob the Builder in space – you have to fix it!,

There’s also a lot of backtracking through the same areas,  however these do look slightly different depending on when you do it, and new hazards can and do get placed in your way. Both lack of Air and Zero-G in certain areas not only add to the urgency but also add some mini puzzles into the game, the lack of air can be combated  either by using a can of air, either found or brought from the store, or using Air recharge points that are scattered in some areas. The Zero-G areas are great fun to navigate and add new gameplay dynamics to the normal steady walking, or running found in other areas of the game.

The Necro-Morphs, which you will have to fight from the outset of the game come in many shapes and sizes and all have one thing in common, they all want you dead. To stop this from happening, you will need to ‘kill’ them first, I say kill, but since they are already dead, seems a little confusing… you can either waste ammo by simply shooting them repeatedly or  by using the games ’Strategic Dismemberment’ system – which is a more effective way of dealing with them, you can  remove various limbs and appendages’ to stop them in their tracks, but don’t think that just cutting their legs off will stop them, it wont.  They also have a nack of using the ships ventilation duct system to great effect, darting into to one in front of you, only to re-appear sometime later when you least expect it.

To help combat these monsters you have the tools of the trade, be that a simple curb stomp move, melee or choosing from a range of simple, yet effective tools, plasma cutter – to force guns, and even a few military weapons,  like the pulse rifle and flame thrower. Weapons are not picked up, apart from the starting tool the plasma cutter, you buy weapons from the stores that are scattered around the ship, after finding the schematic for it first, so you can’t simply buy the most powerful weapons, you have to find the schematic as well. The weapons / tools and your suit can all be upgraded – but only a ‘benches’ – work stationed in certain areas on the ships levels, you also need to  find the upgrade nodes to action the upgrades… so the hunt for those should be a major concern.

You will also get a few ’tricks of the trade’ as you progress though the first few levels – Stasis which will allow you to freeze items in space and time, also works very well on the Nero-Morphs allowing you to pick the part of it you wish to remove but it does have a limited amount of ’ammo’, which has to be carefully monitored. The other ability is Kinetic which allows you to pick up items and move them from a distance, Kinetic also doubles as puzzle solver and a weapon, since you can pick up items and fire them at the approaching monsters.

Ammo, money and first aid kits are either in glowing crates, boxes, and lockers or dropped by defeated Nerco-Morphs, since as you will find out from the various audio logs and vidio logs scattered about, the Necro-Morphs are what is left of the crew.  Ammo does get a little shot in supply depending how far into the game you get.

Save points are also scattered about the ship and levels, and thankfully these allow you to save as often as you like, something you will learn to do on the later levels is save, and save often!

Replay value could be a sticking point for some, the AI is very good and they never react the same, but since the puzzles remain the same, but the hunt for audio logs and upgrades could push you back into the game. One point to note, you can’t restart the game on a different difficulty level from the one you complete it in, and keep your weapons and upgrades. This is the only disappointment.

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Graphics

Right from the introduction, the graphics are upto the high standards already set by other games, such as Bioshock, and in some respects they are similar, but are also original at the same time. There’s a realness to the places and items you find and see, they are all built with outstanding attention to detail, from drinks cans to logos on dead crew members jackets, everything is there for a reason.

The over all design for the ship has it’s roots in gothic design, and also has hints of HR Geiger,  famous for the Alien Designs, and as such, the ship takes on it’s own personality one which is just as eerie and unsettling as the Nero-Morphs. There are also some very nice lighting effects, and strobes along with steam and haze effects in the many corridors and room that the game take place in, and  these remind you to keep checking the corners and vents for monsters. There are several moments that are really visually outstanding, and you do get a few seconds to take them in, before the action starts up again in earnest.

Speaking of monsters – the Necro – Morphs come in many types, and all are very well rendered, from the smaller ones to the largest, they all have a slimly look to them, and you can tell that some of these things were once the crew. You will catch sight of a human eye, as it comes racing towards you, but you still have to deal with them. When you dismember one, there’s a very graphic display of blood and gloop – and you will also catch sight of squirming tentacles from the wound, which shows there’s some thing inside driving them on. The animation on the creatures, is well done and to see them try and crawl there way towards you after you have removed their legs is quite amusing the first few time, after that – you learn to quickly finish them off.

Any pick up you find or stumble across will flash up on screen showing off the Hologram in game displays – this is a great addition to the game, since all the menus, video displays, maps, and even your ammo count hang in mid air in front of you,  and you still have complete control of the game,  so can still make a run for it at anytime!

The first time you rotate the camera and see the back of the menu system, or incoming video transmission you will wonder why it has took so long to integrate such a system, but that is yet another game play element that makes Dead Space unique.

Sound

Voice acting in this game are of a very high standard, even if the players character, has a lot in common with Gordon Freeman, in that he remains mute for the game, the other people you stumble across and the audio logs are also very well done, adding to the whole experience

The musical sound track to this game is really hard to describe, it does have music, but the environmental sounds, and other effects mix into a sound scape that’s completely original and eerie to say the least.

It uses the best Hollywood scare tricks from the outset, from jets of steam to disembodied whispers, the overall effect is never less than disturbing especially when you then mix in the sounds of the Necro-morphs and the tell tale audio ‘stings’ used to jar your senses when one attacks, the over all sound is quite similar to the TV series Lost – but not a direct copy. There is off key strings, screams and voices, which all mix into an outstanding sound track.

Weapons have a solid sound to them, the reload sounds also have a nice cluck to them and you always feel satisfied letting a few rounds off into a Necro-Morph and hearing them scream in pain, and death gurgle.

 This is one game you need to turn the 5.1 up and enjoy it

Overall Score & Replayability

I was expecting a great looking, scary game, and Dead Space delivered.  It’s hard for a new series to get a foot hold, after the classic RE series etc, but EA have done it.

It plays well, looks great and has amazingly atmospheric sounds and music. The only downside to me is the lack of any co-op or online play, and the fact you can’t play the game again on a higher difficulty level and keep your inventory.

The game as a whole plays like a mix of resident evil 4 meets doom 3 with hints of classic sci-fi horror films like the Alien series, in fact the fist time you hear the female computers voice, you get an uneasy sense of familiarity. The fixing the ship plot can seem a little mundane, but the journey is so exciting

From the first level to the last -  the plot expands with cut scenes and audio log into a very moving one, and one that I hope continues. The scares come fast and strong, even if you think your not easily scared, I would suggest you at least rent this game.

Fight Night, Round 4

August 20, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Figh Night, Round 4
Release Date: June 23, 2008 (US) June 26, 2009 (EU) July 2, 2009 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: EA Canada/Electronic Arts
Genre: Sports
Platform[s]: Playstation 3, Xbox360

Storyline

The follow up to the ‘smash’ hit, Fight Night Round 3, Round 4 follows the impressive prequels basic game plan, which sees your low ranking fighter climb the ladder of success and become a World champion. Building not only on the success of the previous game, the latest installment, improves on just about every feature, and also there’s some fundamental changes ahead for the die hard FN3 fans.

Fans of boxing should relish in playing and fighting some of histories greatest fighters, from the cover stars Ali and Tyson to some not so well known contenders there’s almost certainly someone in the game you may have heard of, failing that download a friends or make your own – with the new and improved creation features.

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Gameplay

The basic gameplay of FN3 remains  – two men slug it out to see who will drop to the mat first, or win on points – winning on points can be the only option in some later fights, so blocking is nothing to be ashamed of.

In the all new Legacy mode – which is FN4’s main single player campaign – see’s you starting out as a young hopeful preset boxer or a boxing legend (who is yet to rise to stardom)  or a custom created one with special mention to the addition of the Live Vision camera – so now at last you can map your own face onto your boxer – some results can be slightly scary same as in other face mapping titles, but considering boxers are not really supposed to look ‘too good looking’ we can live with that. You can also use your own music for your entrance to the ring, so get thinking about what your boxer would use – please no Britney.

The basic goal of the game is to try and get your lowly boxer who dreams of greatness, to the heights of glory, Your ranking is from  ‘Bum’ to the ‘Greatest of all time’ which can seem slightly odd playing as Mike Tyson, who looks just like he does at his current age and having to fight his way to greatness, but it is still a long process and enjoyable process.

To help you achieve this, your AI trainer will help you plot out your ‘Fight Calendar’ and build your speed and strength with one of the rather enjoyable mini games and sparring fights until your ready to fight the bigger names. The training and sparring matches do add a lot to the game, helping you feel as if your really shaping your fighter – and after training / fights your boxer now has to have ‘recovery time’ so once again another realistic addition, but you can always simulate them if you would rather skip through to the action.

Speaking of action the controls this time are purely with the analogue sticks -the ‘Total Punch Control’ system has dropped any button bashing for this fighter. The removal of the button controls, may be a problem for a few FN3 players, but the sticks are responsive and the boxer reacts with realistic weight behind each of the different types of attack – both sticks are used to control the movement and attacks of your boxer, along with the triggers and bumpers to mix up attacks and defensive moves. This can be confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will be ducking and swaying out of the way of incoming punches with ease, ready to land a powerful counter- attack.

Countering moves, is an important skill to learn – since a counter punch can stun a opponent and leave them totally open to a knock out punch. In fact with a few powerful counter punches – a fight can be over very quickly – but doing so relies on very good timing.. so it’s an important skill to master.

When your fighter take’s a bashing – after the round and you return to your corner, your able to patch him up a little – or allow the AI to do it for you – it’s important to remember even a battered fighter can win a match if he is able to get a knock out or two – so it’s important not to underestimate your foe.

The whole game play has a more ‘instant’ feel thanks to the new and improved controls – and even the addition of onscreen displays of stamina and health – so you can see how much damage your punches land – adds to the feeling of playing as a one man fighting machine.

The Legacy Mode is a great step forward – from FN3’s somewhat disappointing single player campaign, and should add a lot more to the offline game, and make it more of a worthwhile buy.

Along with the normal player matches – which are easy to set up and play, which is the norm for most games,  there’s a whole host of updated features, not only is there an online world championship – where players compete to be the best in the world but your also able to download other peoples boxers and fight replays. Downloading boxers alone can be hours of fun – seeing some of the freaky designs people use.

Online is smooth and lag free for the most part – and can extend the life of the game somewhat – the online championship alone should keep avid boxing fans busy for months.

FNR4-Screen

Graphics

The first game set a bench mark for boxing games, one that has been hard pushed to be beaten – the sequel however appears to have done so.

The boxers are animated in a very realistic manor, using it would appear,  a psychics based system to animate the swing of the punches, so they connect or deflect in a totally believable way. Beads of sweat run down their faces and explode into the air when a hit connects – and skin textures, as always, look totally convincing even in close up.

Special mention must go once again to the replays when you finally get a knock out – these are very well done.. seeing your glove hit someone’s face and the ripples wave out across it, all in slow motion, is a joy to see.. and almost cinematic in quality – plus you can watch the knock down again and again with different angles.

Crowd scenes and the bigger venues are well rendered, with decent animations, but the fighters should as always be your main focal point, and apart from the odd looking head / face on one or two – they all look like their real life counter parts and all look as if they could flatten a cow.

Sound

Any one familiar with EA games knows that EA love to mix games and music together - FN4 is no different. The EA Trax on this game is an interesting mix of hip hop / RnB / rap and most of the tracks are enjoyable, if that style of music appeals to you – they do not tend to repeat  too much, which is a bonus. The commentaries and advice from your trainer is done well, if a little repetitive at times, while they do not detract from the experience, they can grate after a while.

The sound of the crowd, the entrance music and the whole sound scape of the game just works, from the sound of a killer punch landing, which varies depending on the type and amount it hits – to the stunned and dazed effects, there is really nothing to complain about – unless you really dislike the taste of music used – in which case, as always, you can just use a custom sound track – I expect Eye of the Tiger on repeat will be many peoples first choice.

Overall Score & Replayability

For many Xbox 360 boxing fans, FN3 was the bench mark by which other boxing games are judged, so I am happy to say FN4 builds on the gameplay of the original and expands on it in a few ways. From the longer more involved single player campaign, which was FN3‘s minor flaw, to the custom boxer sharing and design, there should be something to keep die hard boxing fans happy for months. That along with the almost never ending fights on Xbox live, the game is a great game for fans.

The only downside I can see is that the Controls may turn into a stumbling point for fans of FN3 – but give it time and with practice you should be right at home with the ‘tweaked’ version of ‘Total Punch Control’.

If your a fan of boxing and want a game to play for many months to come, you can do a lot worse than picking this up. For others, boxing games can seem a little basic, but once you peer deeper you soon realise that it’s not about button bashing to win..  The gameplay  has just the right amount of trickiness to begin with, but give it time and learn the basics and you may soon be the greatest fighter of all time, if only on the Xbox 360.

Gears of War 2

August 20, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Gears of War 2
Release Date: November 7, 2008
Developer/Publisher: Epic Games/Microsoft
Genre: Third Person Tactical Shooter
Platform[s]: Xbox360

Storyline

Set 6 months after the events of the first Gears of War game,  which saw Marcus Fenix and the rest of Delta Squad fighting the Locust Horde, a shadowy life form that dwelt underneath their home planet Sera. This epic battle saw the humans prevail by detonating a ‘light mass bomb’ – a weapon of mass destruction – in the heart of the planet Sera. The humans hoped it would wipe out the majority of the locust forces and stop them from killing every surface dwelling human .

They where wrong.

Gears 2 as Gears Of War 2 shall be referred to from now on see’s the human race with their backs firmly to the wall, as whole cities are being ‘sunk’ all around their last strong hold, a  city called Jacinto. The locusts have rebuilt their forces, and spurred on by the humans attack – set about the destruction of the entire human race.

Add to this epic battle, the search for Maria, the missing wife of Dom, one of the main characters, and you not only have the making of a great war game, but one that delivers a much more personal emotional story than the last.. Can the humans survive this battle, and take the fight back to the locust’s home ? – only time will tell…

GoW2-Screen-2

Gameplay

Anyone who has played the first Gears game will be right at home with the controls and basic gameplay of Gears 2. Controls are identical to the first game, from the curb stomp move, which has a few new weapon specific displays of violence to head actions that finish off downed enemies, right up to the ‘active reload’ which if timed correctly, will not only speed up the time taken to reload, but will also add extra damage to the rounds reloaded.

Right from the inspiring intro showing the desperate war your stepping into – you immediately feel your back home on the planet Sera, but this time with a few new extra toys. Your weapons now feel a little more powerful, thanks to the new ’stopping power’ – if you shoot a stampeding locust, the bullets have more of an effect on them, they stumble more, allowing you to have some breathing space, a feature that was missing from the first game, and one that may make all the difference.  Roadie run is still here – and works well, it’s a way of covering a bigger distance, at a greater speed – but you loose being able to aim accurately while the camera view shifts to a lower angle and looks almost like a hand held camera, with it shaking and bobbing around.

Other improvements that you will find in the first few minutes are one or two to the cover system, pressing a button will ‘stick’ to any piece of cover and allow you to fire from it in relative safety – some cover is destroyable, so watch out. The cover system seems more fluid than in Gears 1 -  you don’t just ‘stick’ as you run past an object so now you are able to move about in roadie run with much more freedom before latching on to a wall etc.  these improvements along with the new skill of being able to use dropped shields – which are carried by some of the new foes in the game , and downed, but not dead locusts as meat shields, is not only great fun to do, it is also a skill to master, since you are protected from enemy fire by the slowly dying body of a locust held firmly in front of the player.
Add to this a few new weapons, from a flame thrower, that is lethal at close range, a mortar and a full on mini gun that needs to be mounted to cover to fire effectively and you have the makings of a great war game.

Just like before in Gears of War your main weapon the Lancer has not only impressive stopping power and range, but a under slung chainsaw, in the position used in most games for a grenade launcher. The chainsaw is an effective weapon at close quarters, and has new animations for slicing and dicing the locusts – you can now slice them from bottom to top from the rear, as well as the normal front, top to bottom slice.. These moves are very gruesome, as you would expect, and the shower of blood and gore is sometimes over the top, but never less than satisfying.

As in the previous gears game, you will run into locusts using Lancers, presumably from dead Gears, and these sometimes lock blades as you try to chain saw them – this leads to a frantic button bashing mini game, to see who wins this fight. It’s a good addition, to what was previously luck, and timing as to who won a dual.

As you walk about the levels – you will come across some great open vistas, this time Gears2  has a more epic feel,  with the larger levels not only on foot but with drivable vehicles, which pop up a lot more often than in the first game. In fact vehicles make a very early appearance, on the second level, with you riding on the back of a huge vehicle called a ‘derrick’ – basically a huge transporter – these levels have a huge sense of scale, and also open up the world we have seen so far.

Gone are the  Cog Tags which you could collect from the first game – which are the Gears dog tags- now you have to collect information, from posters and newspapers scattered about the levels. This add some replay value, as you hunt for every single one.

As you battle across and under the planet Sera, you will encounter quite a few new enemy types, from small exploding tickers to huge boss creatures, and  all of them just fit the world so perfectly, this game has not just picked random ‘aliens’ – but they have made a whole society of Locusts with each type fitting neatly into it.

Co- Op play  is 2 player only – not the much rumored 4 and it follows the story line of single player identically right down to the cut scenes. A new feature of this is both players being able to set their own difficulty level, so you can play with someone who is new to the game, on casual , while you play on hardcore for example, it works by  the game altering the amount of damage done to and by the players depending on the skill level they have  set – so you both fight the same amount of enemies and this seems to work well, and can make a world of difference, since before you both had to play at the same skill level, and this could put players off joining your game. As before it works as a ‘drop in – drop out’ system for the second player, so you they can leave at any point.

Online, the first major improvement that you will notice is the increase from 8 players to 10 – a small jump – but it does mean  more people to kill! The classic Gears online modes are here, along a full set of maps and five extra remade maps from the first game,  Canals, Gridlock, Mansion, Subway, and Tyro Station all of which have had a face life, not only in textures, but the amount of detail on the map has improved as well, some look completely different under the new lighting and environmental effects. Canals for example is now set in the winter time, and the water is frozen over, and like the others, these all play as before, so Gears 1 fans should be right at home on these, they are available by a download token in the box, so don‘t throw it away. All of the features from single player transfer over to online multiplayer – like the cover system and active reload, as well as the new additions, like human shields, using either your own downed team mates or the enemy, to the new weapon based ‘curb stomps’. The chain saw duals also carry over from single player, and should end the frustration seen in Gears of War online, when it seemed to be pot luck, as to who won a chainsaw dual.

If you get down but not out, you can now try and crawl away to safety – unlike the original, so you can now hammer the button and try and crawl behind cover before you bleed out. This works well, if your downed at a distance, but in close up fights – the enemy will just follow your blood trail, and finish the job, unless your team mates get to you first.

Another improvement over the first title, is the camera when you die. Rather than having a static camera that follows your team mates – you now have control of a few fixed cameras, and one flying free roaming ghost camera. This ‘ghost’ camera can zoom about the map so you never get bored watching someone else’s back. There’s also a new photo feature, which allows you to take in game pictures of the action, and upload them to the Gears of War website for sharing, this is a handy addition for people to brag with.

The full list of multiplayer modes are as follows

War zone – classic team death match, 5 vs. 5 basically kill the other team, without dying first and you win the match – you have no respawns – but if you get downed, but not out, your team can revive you, if they get to you in time. It plays just as well as the first game, but the extra person might catch you out, since most people are used to only facing 4 players on the other team.

Guardian  – 5 vs. 5 – this is a slightly altered version of ‘Assassination’ from the first game. one member of each team is the ‘leader’ – It’s the leaders job to stay alive, while they are, you have respawns – so it’s in his team’s best interest to protect him, since if the leader dies, you lose your respawns – and when either team is completely wiped out, the other side wins. This is a great game type – makes your team work together and protect the leader, so could turn out to be a firm favourite in Gears 2

Wingman – a new game type -  5, 2 player teams fight against each other, until one team reaches the winning amount of points. You have to get one shot kills or close range to kill the other players, points are awarded for kills and winning the round, so winners can sneak up on you – so eliminate them as soon as possible. For this mode both players in the one team have the same character – so it’s easy to spot the enemy team – if you split up.

Submission – another new game type- in this mode,  5 vs. 5 battle in a game which was originally called ’Meat Flag’ it is a twist on capture the flag and sees a an AI controlled flag – armed with a gun running around the map – both teams compete to down this ’flag’ and drag him back to their flag zone, and hold him there for a set time – however he can escape, so be careful. Team that reaches the points needed to win first, win!

Execution – 5 vs. 5 fight each other similar to warzone, however you can only kill an opposing team member in close up or with a one shot kill, if they are downed – they revive automatically, so get stuck in and finish the job!

Annex – 5 vs. 5 fight to capture rings at set points on the maps – hold those rings to get points, once all points have been allocated, a new ring will appear on the map, repeat this process, and hit the points target to win.

King of the hill 5 vs. 5 capture the ring, but this time you need to stay in it to score points, execution rules apply, so close range kills and one shot kills only. King of the hill has only one capture point per round. Team to hit the target score first, win.

And finally a brand new co-op mode – Horde  a 4 player team take on wave after wave of steadily increasingly harder Locust, with the aim of trying to survive for as long as possible. Weapons are scattered around the map, as well as ammo – these supplies respawn before each wave. The goal of the game is to clear the map of all locust, before they kill you – downed players respawn before the next wave, or you can revive them while in the middle of a fire fight. This is one of the more anticipated game modes, and lives up to the hype, it’s great fun to play – if a little hard at the higher skill levels, all in all a great ‘bonus’ mode!

GoW2-Screen

Graphics

From the outset the stunning Gears of war’s graphics appear to be back, but they are not.. This is an updated unreal engine 3 game and it shows,  graphics are more detailed than in the first game, showing much more levels of details the more you look , there’s more colour,  and more feeling.. The old adage of ‘destroyed beauty’ returns with some stunning vistas and amazing models.

As you progress further into the game and encounter the new locations and enemy types, of which there are many, ranging from very, very large ’things’  down to the small ‘tickers’,  you are never left with any doubt this is a triple A title. Sun glints on metal , blood splatters on walls and floors, flesh wobbles – and it’s all done in stunning quality – there’s the odd graphical glitch that have rolled over from the first title, such as texture’s slowly loading at the start of a level /match – but hopefully the NXE’s New Xbox Experience install to hard drive, will speed this up, and there’s also a small amount of clipping to be seen, but these are not game breaking or too major, and none detract from the stunning design and artwork used for the graphics.

There is a new violence filter which when turned on, removes the blood AND dismemberment, adding in sparks for blood and making enemy’s shake when chain sawed – so if you get woozy at the sight of blood – this option may be the one for you!

Gears of war is back, and it’s never looked so good!

Sound

From the main opening theme, to the voice acting, your in for a treat. Music is stirring and moving, and really does set the scene for the battles ahead, classic gears themes run through out, but with new arrangements and twists, which all add up to a rather rousing sound track. Voice acting is as good as ever, if a little cheesy in parts, such as Doms ‘I’ll shoot you in the asses’ comment early on – but it’s to be expected from a Gears game. The AI also talk a lot more now, shouting out directions and enemy locations, as well as the odd bit of smack talk – word of warning, there’s quite a bit of swearing – which can be removed by the ‘swear filter’ in the options screen – but why would you? The locust also seem to have had voice lessons as well, since they have a much wider range of sounds, depending on the type, and the ticker, well speaks for it’s self!

Weapons also sound much more beefy, with the new chain gun the ‘mulcher’ sounding like it should belong in the old Arnie film Predator, each of these sounds, reinforce the graphical display of power, and as a whole work really well, adding to the game a lot.

Overall Score & Replayability

If you’re a fan of Gears of War 1  you will love this, it’s basically more of the same, with a few minor tweaks, here and there, but the old adage ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ springs to mind. This is not only a visual upgrade – Gears of War 2’s levels of details are a lot higher than the original, from the suit’s the player wears to the walls, rocks and locusts – everything in Gears 2 seems to have had a full makeover. Add to this the new features in single/player and co-op, and you will have a game that is worthy of game of the year. Some have said it’s a little short an approximate 10 hours for single player – but the online side of things will continue to entertain you for many months to come.

Speaking of multiplayer – there is  the dreaded host advantage, which still rear’s it’s ugly head a few times, but it’s not as bad as in the first game. Online is fluid, once you get into a game – but the menu system to set up games etc, can be a little confusing at first. So take you time and learn what button does what.

Call Of Duty: World at War

August 20, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Call of Duty: World at War
Release Date: November 11, 2008 (US) November 14, 2008 (EU) November 12, 2008 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Treyarch/Activision
Genre: FPS
Platform[s]: PC, PS2, PS3, Nintendo DS, Xbox360, Wii

Storyline

In Treyarch’s newest addition to the Call of Duty franchise, it may seem as if they have been watching ‘back to the future‘, since where as Call of Duty 4 placed you  squarely in the boots of a modern day solider, in the latest game, we travel back in time to World War 2.

The single player/co-op story is based both in the Pacific, fighting the Japanese army and across Eastern Europe, fighting the Nazi’s and both story lines encompass the gritty real life feeling of war, unlike any other WWII game has managed before.

From the tropical jungles of the island of Makin, to the rainy streets of Berlin, you will visit many varied places, each reflecting a real life battle, that has made the history books..

Now it’s your turn to step into that history, and make a difference.

WaW-Screen-2

Gameplay

Using the game engine from the award winning Call of Duty 4 : Modern Combat, Treyarch has been given a great starting point, but they have not just ‘re-skinned’ the older game. There are many advancements in not only game play but graphics, from the new dismemberment of enemy troops with either weapons or grenades, to the campaign co-op mode, which has been increased  from two to four players, it has also has been built from the ground up for this release, featuring not only normal game play, but also a new completive mode, which each player getting their own XP points for kills and objectives, these points also count towards your online ranking.

The basic game play remains unchanged in the series from day one, your role in the game is to complete objectives, killing the enemy in the process, and helping your troops move closer to winning the war. During this, you will play the normal ’ run and gun’ style levels as the Americans, or more a few more stealthy levels as a Russian sniper, in scenes similar to the film ’Enemy at the Gates’ – these sniper missions help break up the very intense close quarter battles, since now in the Pacific you face a new type of enemy, one that will try and kill you at any cost.. Even their own lives.

You also have the chance to not only ride on tanks, but also control them, in several sections you are either in control of or in a vehicle of some kind, ranging from driving a tank, to manning guns of a flying boat for a level.

The vehicle sections do make a change from the very intense fighting, and even though your AI friendly troops will appear to help you out, your mostly left to shoot the majority of the enemy yourself,  which can be a little over whelming on certain levels, so remember to use cover and grenades to your advantage.

On completion of the single player campaign, you will unlock a hidden bonus mode, called ‘Nacht Der Untoten’ or Night of the Undead.. Which places up to 4 players (via Xbox live co-op) up against a seemingly never ending waves of Nazi zombies.

The basic gameplay is to hold the building you start in, and defend it for as long as possible – with a short amount of time to rebuild defences, and rearm between waves – it plays like a horror versions of Gears of War 2’s hoard mode, but with the added need to bar windows and doors, to stop the Zombies from entering the building.

Online multiplayer remains mainly unchanged from the basic’s of Call of Duty 4, but with a few WWII twists…  First thing you will notice is the player limit has risen to 18 players on certain modes, and the weapons and perks have also been altered to fit the era, so while you may at first be unfamiliar with them, most are almost identical to modern combats sets, just the names are slightly different, and as always practice will reap rewards.

Prestige mode also makes a return, with the levels capping at 65 this time, and 10 prestige levels will keep many players going for months. Also different this time is the award of one extra custom slot for your weapon load out each time you prestige and the award of a gamer picture on second and tenth prestige levels.

Weapons and perks unlock as you play the online modes, as before, or via the new competitive co-op mode,  but when you first start, you also have a small selection of game types to play, so time needs to be invested in the game to rank up to a level that allows you to play some of the more advanced game types, such as hard core and search and destroy.

New additions to online game modes and making a welcome return from CoD 3, are tanks, which though powerful, can be blown to pieces with a little team work. Although they do not appear on all maps, these tanks are very much needed on some of the new maps – there are some simply huge maps, ranging from the battered streets of Berlin, to lush farm lands – each with plenty of hiding spots for snipers, or tunnels for tunnel rats.

Kill streak perks also return, but with the added WWII spice, 3 kills in a row will grant you an ‘Recon Plane’ which when activated, will highlight enemy positions using the on screen mini map (providing they are not using certain perks) – 5 kills in a row will allow you to launch a pinpoint artillery strike on any place on the map, so choose with care, or after a Recon Plane. And finally maybe the most debated perk..

The dogs.

7 kills in a row, will allow you to call in the attack dogs, which will proceed to hunt down and kill the enemy for you, or if you like you can follow them and pick off a few easy kills, while the unfortunate enemies battle the dogs. While this addition may at first seem odd, while playing the single player campaign, you will learn that dogs where used a lot during the war for many roles, so having them in the multiplayer is a welcome addition, to some.

WaW-Screen

Graphics

From lush jungles to the gritty streets of war torn Berlin, the graphics are never less than impressive, there is a slight loss of texture detail, compared with other games, but the over all scale and visual style remain very, very good.

Only a few times was there noticeable slow down, but this is mainly when large explosions are happening, or several peoples limbs fly off in different directions, yes limbs…

New to the series is the feature of dismemberment when you score direct hits with grenades and some of the more powerful weapons in the game, sniper rifles can remove arms, legs etc and grenades, if placed correctly, can produce a blood fountain, with limbs flying off into the distance..

New fire effects are also put to good use not only in the backgrounds, but also in some of the weapons, such as the flame thrower – which in single player is as lethal for the user, as the people getting hosed with it – due to the explosive nature of the gas tanks, a well placed shot will detonate the tanks, and the resulting explosion of flames and blood will be one of the moments you remember from the game, yes it’s gory, but in keeping with real life.

All of the new visual effects merge with the ones we expect from the CoD4 engine, such as shards of light, with floating specks of dust catching the light.. Models are detailed, yet textures seem slightly lower than in CoD4 – maybe due to the size of the levels, but at no point does the game look anything less than impressive in single player.

Online multiplayer , the graphics still looks very good, with slightly lower texture detail than the previous game, but only very slightly but considering the size of the levels and amount of detail, they can not be faulted, indeed some maps seem twice the size of the largest maps from CoD4, when you include the tunnels etc.

Special mention should go to Nacht Der Untoten with the Zombie Nazi’s looking very impressive, not only can you blow limbs off them , and they continue to drag themselves towards you,  but you can also see internal organs etc with repeated hits to the chest. It may only be a small bonus game, but the graphics on it have still been given a lot of care.

There where a few minor glitches with textures etc, and arms / legs coming through walls, but none that really could be said as game breaking.

Sound

From the roar of planes over head – to the famous actors voicing some of the major characters you will run across during the game, sound effects and voice acting is second to none, with stars such as Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman staring as major support roles.

The score is also very well done, there is some slightly strange fusions of styles, with rock guitars punching their way though some of the more traditional themes, but the mix is very well done, if a little rock heavy but adds a breath of fresh air to the genre.

As you battle your way through the game, your AI comrades will shout out enemy positions and smack talk as you battle your way to victory. The enemy troops also are very vocal, and early in the game, you will fear hearing certain things from the hidden Japanese troops.. Such as ‘ banzai!’
Shots ring out with a great sense of power, especially the sniper rifles, which reverb around the surroundings, bullet hits on flesh and walls are also convincingly done, in fact your never in much doubt of when you obtain a headshot – since the sound of it is quite distinctive. The audio in the game all mixes into a very impressive 5.1 sound track, with enemy weapon fire easy to pin point, if like previously said, a little heavy on the electric guitar, considering the time scale.

Overall Score & Replayability

If you’re a fan of WWII games, from the moment the game starts – from the first slice to the final gunshot, you are in for a thrill ride, since this one of the finest games to show the conflict and scale of one of the most brutal wars. The new blood and dismemberment can seem a little over the top at times, but the general look and feel of the game is one of a top class title, Call of Duty: World at War – is one of , if not the best WWII first person shooter on the market at present. The warning about containing graphic war footage, one would assume also refers to the many bits of news reel footage used in the level intro’s which set the scene for the battle ahead, these scenes can be very graphic, but not more so than any War Documentary seen on TV.

The new pacific setting, and the Japanese troops who will run past soldiers to bayonet you, add a new dimension to the normal run of the mill game play, never again can you simply rush though open sections, since many times the enemy are waiting.

The single player campaign is a worthy successor to the other Call of Duty games, with two very interesting story lines, which this time, do not intertwine. It can seem a little short as a single player game at the lower skill levels, however veteran skill level returns and is as frustrating as ever on later levels, and will give a few hours more should you need it. Online co-op also adds to the fun, with not only competitive campaign, but Zombie Nazis to shoot, what’s not to like?

As with the previous games – there are some really stunning set pieces through out the game, and some truly amazing moments, which are equal to if not surpassing the previous games in both scale and drama.

Multiplayer is as good as ever, as long as you can make the backward leap from the modern combat of the previous game. The online game is equally as good to play as single player with  weapons and perks as rewarding as they are powerful.

The many online game modes and maps will have fans of WWII returning week after week, how many fans of CoD4 move to the older setting remains to be seen, however for some the gameplay of World at War may suit you more, since the mix of weapons, large maps,  perks and tanks is  a winning formula.