Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

January 7, 2010 by Susan Taylor  
Filed under PC, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

 

Title: Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

Release Date: 26th May 2009 (PC) / 26th Nov 2009 (EU Xbox 360) / TBA (NA Xbox 360)

Developer/Publisher: Frogwares / Focus Home Interactive

Genre: Adventure

Platform[s]: Microsoft Windows (PC), Xbox 360

**Please note: I am reviewing the Xbox 360 version of this game**

Storyline

 

The year is 1888, the location is the East End of London. An evil madman is running loose around Whitechapel, preying on women of the night and murdering them in cold blood, mutilating their corpses in the process. The police are turning over every stone in the area, but the elusive Jack the Ripper keeps slipping through their grasp. It is up to the famous Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, to unmask the fiend and put an end to his dastardly deeds.

Gameplay

 

Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper can be played in either first-person mode or third-person mode. I will admit that I groaned upon starting the game and being faced with this hellish, zoomed out third-person view that I knew would see me repeatedly talking into walls and missing doorways by metres. I internally jumped for joy  when the option came up, through a handy tooltip, that by pressing X the camera would change to first-person mode. Phew! I played the whole game in this view and would definitely recommend it, but it is all down to personal preference and I am impressed that Frogwares put some thought into how people like to play their games.

Unlike other games within the crime genre, Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper steps outside of the point-and-click domain and offers up a nifty little adventure game which sees the player taking control of both main characters and wandering down the streets of London seeking out clues. Throughout the game you will face different tasks and challenges which requires you to play as either Sherlock Holmes himself or as Dr. Watson.

A Sherlock Holmes game would not be complete without puzzles and you will not be left disappointed. You will come across skill puzzles and a lot of logic ones; from fixing a broken pipe to cracking a safe by translating Yiddish to English, from learning how perfumes break down to mastering a rather trick sliding puzzle! I found these puzzles to be very entertaining and some of them requiring me to sit back and really give the objective a good think before attempting to tackle it. No doubt there is an extensive walkthrough online for those who find the puzzles a tad too difficult.

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One of the most interesting factors about Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is the way the developers chose to handle the gruesome reality of the murders. For those who are not away of the truth behind this game, Jack the Ripper was an evil murderer who took great pleasure in mutilating his victims in the most gruesome manner – This included abdominal/genital and progressive facial mutilation and even the removal of internal organs (a kidney, more than one uterus and even a heart). Frogwares rightly decided to keep in the gory details behind each murder and even allows the player to inspect each crime scene in detail. The smart decision on their behalf was not to present the victims in a vulgar manner, but to have Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson inspect detailed “chalk drawn” images of the poor women, which can be inspected quite closely.

As this is a Sherlock Holmes game, there is a lot of deducing to be had! Holmes likes to be thorough in his investigations and throughout his home at Baker Street you will find the place getting more and more overwhelmed with timelines to put together, storyboards to complete regarding each murder and even a board for possible motives! This game really has it all!

Graphics

 

The visual side of this game, while not overly impressive, does not lack in a way that would cause someone to shudder in despair. While the characters are quite wooden-looking, especially when it came to their speech, the environments definitely make up for this. While walking the streets of Whitechapel, you definitely get the feel of London in the late 1800’s.

Not to mention the eery feeling creeping up the back of your neck as you wander down a dark back alley all by yourself..

Audio

 

The musical score of Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is very well suited to the time era and overall theme being portrayed, lots of piano and violin scores. I found the music certainly adds to the ambiance of the game.

I am definitely on the fence when regarding the voices of the characters themselves. While I realise that Sherlock Holmes is a man of science and thus holds a rather cold exterior, the voice behind the character is very monotonous and he shows absolutely zero emotion throughout the entirety of the game, even when he is clearly upset. Watson, on the other hand, was voiced rather well and I found his character to be very likable in the game. Although, his puking scene was a little overplayed. Learn from this Frogwares!

The other voices in the game were quite typically Upper Class vs Cockney, with a bit of Yiddish accent thrown in. I found some of these to be quite believable, whereas otherwise were totally cringeworthy. Especially the man outside the brothel, yeesh! Grow a pair of balls man!

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Overall & Replayability

I scored this game quite high as it was a real breath of fresh air when compared to other games within this genre. You weren’t confined within X rooms with just a point-and-click action as your only means of playing the game. I enjoyed the fact that Frogware mixed fact (being Jack the Ripper tale) in with fiction (being Sherlock Holmes) and found the two complimented each other extremely well. As a huge Jack the Ripper buff I was very excited to see how the writers interpreted the tale of England’s most notorious serial killer and was pleasantly surprised to find just how well they had researched the history into it.

I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the crime genre, likes point-and-click games or is a fan of Sherlock Holmes or even Jack the Ripper.

If only there was going to be a sequel.. Sigh!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

November 20, 2009 by Jeff Barker  
Filed under PC, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

 

Title: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
 

Release Date: 10th November 2009 (Worldwide)
 

Developer/Publisher: Infinity Ward/Activision
 

Genre: Shooter
 

Platform[s]: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Storyline

 

Set five years after the death of Imran Zakhaev (Call of Duty 4’s main antagonist), the Ultranationalist party has taken control of Russia and starts attacking the US. A terrorist called Makarov (one of Zakhaev’s former generals) heads up the attacks, and it’s down to Soap and a host of new characters (along with an old favourite) to hunt Makarov and shut him down. Kicking off in Afghanistan and taking in many locations around the world from Washington D.C. to the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an epic tale of battle, honour and betrayal that will – quite simply – blow your socks off, put them back on and then blow them off again, just for a laugh. And you will love every single bloody minute of it.

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Gameplay

First of all, the basics: MW2 plays exactly the same as CoD4, and despite a change to the HUD everything else remains the same. In case you haven’t played CoD4 (apparently there’s still a couple of you out there), LS controls movement, RS is the “look” function, RT is your (often hair) trigger, LT aims, LB and RB launch differing types of grenade, and the face buttons reload and switch weapons. MW2 also employs the same squad-based FPS action as the first outing, using increasingly impressive set-pieces and situations to move the action along – which, being honest, left a lot of gamers wondering if things could get any better after Zakhaev had been dispatched and, as it stands right now, let me be the first to tell you that things are precisely 153% better. Let’s get this straight, MW2 rocks. Not just in the “oooh, that’s quite good” way either, this is full-on-rock-and-roll “Ozzy Osbourne just jumped on stage with Kurt Cobain and Keith Moon and nailed a 20-minute long rendition of the best bit in Stairway To Heavenrocks.

The game starts with the standard training level, but instead of treating you like the newcomer, you’re instructing a group of new recruits at an Army base in Afghanistan. Wandering around the base post-training, the attention to detail becomes clear – soldiers play basketball, fix trucks, smoke and trade small talk, adding to the level of realism and helping you feel like you’re actually part of a living, breathing unit. This follows throughout the main campaign, and with increasingly hair-raising moments thrown at you (sometimes relentlessly), coupled with the sound of gunfire, Hans Zimmer’s superb soundtrack and your comrades voices backing you up in your headset we can honestly say we’ve never experienced anything quite as epic or immersive.

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Although the game suffers from the tried and tested “CoD respawning enemies” factor, Infinity Ward have reworked the AI so your quarry will now actively hunt you down and attempt to push you towards the next checkpoint – although at times it’s all too easy to become pinned down and overwhelmed by the sheer number of bullets flying at you, and popping in and out of cover to take your foes down usually ends in death from an opposite angle. It’s usually impossible to take out every enemy in a section (unless you’re particularly skilled), and running away is sometimes the best form of defence. Which begs the question, where did the 20-odd guys who were just trying to shoot your face off disappear to after you ran into the next street?! It’s a minor quibble however, as the next street is usually full of more enemies, and the action can be so frantic you really need to keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings in order to progress.

It is possible to just blast through the game in as gung-ho a manner as possible, but in order to stay alive you need to adapt tactically to each situation, and we’d actively encourage you to do so in order to get the most from the game. Dying over and over again in the same place for the same reasons can get old rather too quickly. For instance, in one stage you’re pitched into darkness without night vision, and the area fills with bad guys with laser sights on their weapons – firing at the source of multiple red dots and keeping your location secret is a tough call and requires a bit of subtlety and a keen aiming eye to pull it off, whereas just steaming in will get you torn to shreds. It’s the knowing which tactic to employ in each situation that’s the kicker, and from time to time things can descend into a little bit of trial and error, but it keeps the campaign fresh and exciting and the whole thing will keep you on your toes until the final (shocking) stages of the game.

Each stage is distinct and memorable in it’s own right, asking you to provide predator missile support whilst defending a Burger Town restaurant in one or zipping down the side of a snowy mountain in a skidoo in another, and the set-pieces are sometimes ridiculously epic…I know we just mentioned about the closing stages of the game being shocking, but we can’t enthuse about MW2’s story and diversity enough. It’s a rip-snorting adventure that careers you from situation to situation in a fantastic fashion and it’s all too easy to become wrapped up in its “filmic” qualities.

But we do feel that the Single Player game might be slightly overlooked in favour of the (albeit superb) Multiplayer option. Building on the perks system of the original, MW2 offers a heap of new perks (including ‘pro’ versions), callsigns, emblems, attachments and killstreaks to mess around with – and all can be customized to suit you and your preferred playing style. These are unlocked by completing challenges or getting to a certain rank in multiplayer, and for every kill, condition met or game won you receive XP, adding to your overall ranking level. All the usual Team Deathmatch and Free For All match types return, but IW have thrown in some new games in the form of Moshpit (a randomly selected ‘playlist’ of three games), Team Deathmatch Express (offering a shorter time in the lobby between games) and a new Third-Person mode in the Free For All and One on One games, which pulls things out of the standard FPS view and means you can see your CoD character on screen for the first time. Although it sounds like it shouldn’t work, it does – and it manages to keep the same fast pacing as the rest of the multiplayer options and offers another fresh aspect to the game.

Added to this is the new Special Ops mode, a series of challenges that can be tackled singularly or in co-op, and range from Horde style endurance tests to protecting your comrades with an AC-130. It’s a brilliant addition to an already stellar package, and we guarantee you’ll want to rinse the mode to get the max amount of stars for each mission, and the kudos from your peers, of course!

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Graphics

If CoD4 is the attractive older sister, then MW2 is the drop-dead gorgeous younger sibling you just knew would turn out to be way more attractive. The levels are varied and beautiful, and in HD they are glorious. Dust kicks up in sunlight, gun barrels flare and things catch on fire, causing a heat haze to rise. If things weren’t so hectic it would be quite easy to spend a fair bit of time wandering around exploring and seeing all the little touches each level has to offer (such as the Army base in the opening training section or the chickens frantically thrashing about in their cages during the Rio De Janeiro stage), and some of the vistas on offer are stunning. The characters look chunky and individual, and the lip-syncing and motion-capture is absolutely spot on. The only minor complaint we have is the dodgy “bobbing” animation NPC’s seem to have when running up stairs in the main campaign, but strangely enough this either doesn’t happen or isn’t noticeable during Multiplayer. You can really tell that Infinity Ward have stepped up their graphics engine for this one, and it’s hard to believe our faithful grey boxes haven’t given up the ghost processing all the beauty.

Audio

Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer provides the musical score for MW2, and it compliments each situation magnificently. From points of relative serenity to the most frantic of shootouts, Zimmer’s accompaniment adds an extra layer of sheen on to an already polished title. At points it’s both beautiful and poignant and makes some of the more dramatic set pieces a completely emotional experience. The voice acting is superb – every character you come across feels like a real person, and never once is the script clichéd, stereotypical or hackneyed. If MW2 had been pitched as a film we suspect Hollywood would be fighting amongst itself for it – and with all the old cast reprising their roles and some of the new guard (Lance Henriksen, for example) providing vocal duties you will find yourself caring about each and every character within the game. You will notice incidental noises like explosions, bullet ricochets and birds singing in the trees during a particularly frantic battle scene and you’ll wonder just how much there is going on that you really haven’t noticed.

Overall Score & Replayability

Modern Warfare 2 is the most hotly anticipated game of 2009 – if not the decade – and judging by the success of CoD4, it’s not hard to imagine Infinity Ward have attempted to pull out all the stops to go one better by making MW2 an even more epic, enjoyable and immersive experience. While we all knew IW would pull it off with ease, there has always been the small voice in the back of everyone’s mind saying “What if it’s rubbish? What if it doesn’t live up to the hype?”, and I’m pleased to say that that voice is now well and truly silenced by an M4A1 with an ACOG Sight.

Despite the general shortness of the excellent main campaign (on average it’s taken the VGR team around 5 ½ hours to complete), it’s so ridiculously epic that it doesn’t feel like you’ve been cheated at all. Add to this the enemy intel items you need to hunt down in each level and the Veteran difficulty mode to unlock, you won’t mind returning to it again and again. However, Multiplayer is the real jewel in MW2’s crown, with its refined customization options and sheer addictiveness; we can see it holding us over until MW3 inevitably rears its wonderful head. Don’t look at MW2 like another FPS or another instalment in the CoD series – look at it as it deserves to be: a beautiful piece of modern interactive entertainment. Purchase instantly.

CSI: Deadly Intent

November 16, 2009 by Susan Taylor  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: CSI: Deadly Intent

Release date: PC/Xbox 360 – Oct 13th DS/Wii – Oct 20th

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS

Genre: Point-and-click Adventure

Developers/Publishers: Telltale Games / Ubisoft

**Please note: I am reviewing the Xbox 360 version of this game**

Storyline

It’s time to pick up your bottle of Luminol once again and show the team of CSI Las Vegas what you are made of. As with the previous CSI games, you are the new kid on the block, but this time you are no longer a rookie. As a seasoned investigator, each case sees you working alongside one of the main characters  from Season 9 of the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Nick Stokes, Greg Sanders, Catherine Willows, Riley Adams and Robert Langdon. There are five cases that need to be cracked and it is up to you to get your hands dirty, work out who is lying through their teeth and put the criminals behind bars.

Gameplay

It will not take you long to realise that the gameplay has not changed much (if at all) since the first CSI game as Telltale Games have continued down the rather limited route of the “point and click” genre. From the first person perspective, you will be investigating crime scenes, examining the evidence in two separate labs, getting warrants at Jim Brass’ office, hearing about your victims at the morgue and giving suspects  the third degree in the interrogation room.

So expect to click, click, and click some more as you move between locations, review case files in your inventory, search for clues, use the lab equipment to examine and enhance your evidence and initiate conversations with your team, witness and suspects.

Graphics

I was not expecting much from the graphics and I am glad I kept my expectations low. While there is an increase in the quality of the graphics over the last few games, it is not a significant improvement and looks very out of place compared to other next gen games.

Environments are very basic, the character models are very outdated, although I will say that the main characters do look similar to the actors they are supposed to portray from the TV show.

Audio

The soundtrack seems to have been recycled from the previous game, with very few minor changes to the songs themselves. The music does fit in with the TV show however and fans of the show will enjoy the soundtrack.

The voice acting is good though and it should be; Telltale Games have got the cast from the show on board to voice their game counterparts. I was a little more impressed with the emotions displayed in the game compared to the previous games, the witnesses/suspects actually sound like they mean what they are saying.

Overall & Replayability

This is a rather short game (I completed it in under 8hrs, with 100% achievements obtained) and would only recommend renting this game if you are a fan of the series and/or the point-and-click detective genre. Having said that, it is not a bad game by any means and I could not put the controller down once I started the game.

Borderlands

November 12, 2009 by Jeff Barker  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Borderlands

Release Date: Consoles: 20th October 2009 (North America) & 23rd October 2009 (PAL). PC: 26th October 2009 (North America) & 29th October 2009 (PAL)

Developer/Publisher: Gearbox Software Inc/2K Games

Genre: Shooter

Platform[s]: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Storyline

Borderlands is all about treasure. The Vault is a fabled place lying dormant somewhere on the distant planet of Pandora, said to contain immeasurable wealth, power and long-forgotten Alien technology. Taking control of one of four mercenary/treasure hunters, you set about relieving Pandora of its indigenous life-forms in a quest for The Vault, helping out the locals, slaying bandits and making an all-round nuisance of yourself to anyone who gets in your way.

Gameplay

Let’s get straight to the point here, a lot of ‘hoo-hah’ has been made about Borderlands’ supposed melding of our beloved FPS and RPG genres – promising an RPS (Role Playing Shooter, fact fans!) experience like no other, featuring infinite combinations of weaponry, enemies and missions. At first glance, it appears that Gearbox Software has managed to pull it off rather successfully, with elements from both genres clearly both present AND correct. RPG fans will be bowled over by the sheer amount of items there are to collect, buy and sell and FPS aficionados will be happy with the run and gun gameplay that lies at the heart of the title. But, upon further inspection (and after a lot of man hours invested), the cracks begin to show and you realize that the experience isn’t as deep as you’d been led to believe which, for a game that offers 160 quests, is quite a worry.

Now, don’t get us wrong – Borderlands has a lot to offer, and there’s plenty to see and kill on the way. For starters, the game has a random weapon generator that (at last count) offers anything up to 17,000,000 different combinations of ammo, barrel length, colour and size. So, every time you see a crate that looks like it has something interesting in it, the need to crack it open and get your hands on whatever lays inside is too much to bear. Handguns that fire shotgun shells, sniper rifles that cause your prey to explode into flames and machine guns that fire cats (we made that last one up) are some of the best examples we’ve come across so far, but for every exciting new kind of weapon there’s another humdrum revolver or bottom-end shotgun ready to clog up your inventory until you find a shop ready to take it off your hands.

These shops take the form of vending machines (a bit like those in Bioshock), stocking the usual health packs, weapon upgrades and shields that appear to be de riguer in any FPS worth it’s salt nowadays, as well as a “bargain of the day” that’s only on offer for a limited period of time – sometimes so tantalizingly expensive that you do all you can (without selling what you already have) to get the cash together to purchase it before returning and finding that you’re too late.

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Cash can be gleaned in a number of ways, from cracking open the myriad safes, toilets and piles of dung (yes, you read that right) that litter the landscape, to prising it from the cold, dead hands of your foes. When we say “prising”, we actually mean “button pressing” – instead of automatically collecting something when your character wanders over it, you have to stop and look at the item in question and then press X in order to retrieve it. It’s overly annoying and can easily disrupt the flow of the game, especially when you’re caught in a massive firefight with a group of bandits and run out of ammo: life would be so much easier if you just picked items up automatically instead. There is an alarming amount of stuff to be harvested however, and practically everything you kill either drops cash or ammo, and it appears to be relevant to the weapons you’re carrying at the time, meaning you’re never far from a full clip somewhere along the line.

Killing things earns you XP (experience points, for the non-initiated) which you use to level up, as does completing quests – which (in some cases), you need to do pretty quickly in order to progress through the story mode. When a quest is presented to you it tells you what level you need to be at to stand a chance of completing it, and most of the time you need to grind in order to do this. Unfortunately, most of these quests feel non-descript and samey, requiring you to “go here, kill him, collect this” in varying orders and it all gets rather repetitive rather quickly. Even the story-led missions lack emotion or anything worth remembering, and with little or no dialogue between you and the NPC’s (save the odd sarcastic comment when you kill something) it’s hard to build up a strong connection to your character. It’s like Gearbox read a list of all the things normal gamers care about (decent storyline and attachment to your character, for example) and got it mixed up with all the stuff we don’t instead. This may indicate a leaning towards old-skool gaming values of old, but without the core gameplay to back things up it just feels like urinating in the wind.

Graphics

Looking like a cross between Prince of Persia and Afro Samurai, Borderlands follows the underused cel-shading method, which at least gives it a unique comic book style feel. The landscapes are vast, and there’s a real sense of scope and distance all around you. Unfortunately, most of the terrain looks like the same arid desert landscape you visited earlier and save the odd bandit camp or wind turbine it could very well be. Likewise, the enemies on offer are quite varied, from the mutated canine Skags to the highly amusing Psycho Dwarf fraternity, but despite the odd random variant (Level 12 Corrosive Skag, anyone?) they all look and act exactly the same. Texture pop is also an issue, with it being glaringly obvious in some places.

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Audio

Sounding like a cross between a twangy Ennio Morricone Soundtrack in places and Deliverance on LSD in others, Borderlands screams “old skool Western movie” – most of the NPC’s have faux-texan accents and sound like every cowboy cliché extra you’ve ever heard in a Clint Eastwood movie. The bad guys really all sound the same, and tend to spit the same token insults and taunts, with only the high-pitched giggling of the Psychotic Dwarves providing any real giggles. The gun sounds are quite convincing however, and the explosions have some real meat behind them – but why are the vehicles so quiet?!! They look beefy, but make little or no sound at all…the track over the opening movie is fantastic, though!

Overall Score & Replayability

As scathing as this review may seem, Borderlands does have a quirky charm – it is quite unlike anything available on the market today and we can’t quite put our fingers on what that something is. It could be the overall annoyance and complete lack of satisfaction you get when playing the game (the effort/pay off ratio is very low on this one), or it may be the unique graphical flair and the fact that Gearbox have tried to create something a bit different and, to some extent, have succeeded. The FPS and RPG elements mould into each other quite well but (and I’m paraphrasing here) neither are remarkable enough to achieve an outstanding final product. Nevertheless, the time we spent with Borderlands was quite enjoyable and it’s easy to whittle away a few days on Pandora’s sandy vistas – just don’t expect anything life changing.

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Lips: Number One Hits

October 22, 2009 by Laura Broome  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Lips: Number One Hits

Release Date: October 23rd 2009

Developer/Publisher: Microsoft

Genre: Music

Platform[s]: Xbox 360

Storyline

Lips: Number One Hits is a karaoke game which can be played on your own, with friends and family or over the net. Rack up as many points, medals and stars as you can by singing your heart out, the better you sing the higher you score. If you cant sing aim for stars or get medals by shaking your mic for percussion and putting on a great performance. The higher your score the higher you rank, the higher you rank the more trophies you get and the more achievements you unlock. Pretty simple but actually harder than it appears!

Gameplay

If you love singing and/or making a prat of yourself then Lips is the way to go! The original Lips was a good sturdy karaoke game but in my mind it was not as good as Sing Star for the Playstation. However this game was a lot better and much improved which I was not expecting, not only do you get 40 new songs but you also get a re-jigged version of the game. Suddenly everything is brighter, clearer, easier to understand and much better to play. You can see your rank changing as your score gets higher, you have more interesting things to do with your mic during the instrumental parts and now in the co-op mode you don’t have to fight over who gets to sing which part of the song as both people get equal chances. The menus are easier to scroll through as well although the marketplace does not seem to have improved too much and is still quite slow. Using your own music via ipod, PC etc is a lot quicker now though, and the videos they put with them are better and match the music in a stronger fashion. The music you have already downloaded for Lips 1 is still playable however if you want to sing a song from the Lips 1 disk you have to put that in to sing it then swap back to Lips Number 1 Hits to get your score and carry on which does get annoying after a while.

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The game makes hours feel like minutes and is highly amusing to both sing yourself and to watch others having a go. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a serious gamer or not, anyone can play this, although I am not sure I should have given my dad the mic as his rendition of Barbie Girl is currently giving me nightmares. Two pieces of advice though, you may think you are better after a few drinks but trust me you are not and secondly have a camera near by cause it often produces perfect footage for You Tube!

Graphics


The graphics are definitely better than the original game as everything is much clearer to understand. There are added incentives such as winning trophies for good performances and the different videos that are available in all of the modes are much more fun and interesting. I enjoy the fact that you can have the original video while you sing the song but it is also good to use the other modes as well.

Sound

The sound quality is excellent you have options available to adjust the volume of your voice as well as changing the songs so that a lot of the original background singing is cut out. The response from the mics is excellent as well as there is no obvious delays. The percussion is fun when you are doing it but when you get someone messing about in the background it can be annoying so just hide your controllers and/or spare mics!

Overall Score & Replayability

All in all I think this is excellent and a massive improvement on the first game which I was not expecting, the fact that the songs you have downloaded for the first work in this one and that you can download more which are available every weeks keep this game fresh. I find that often you don’t feel like playing it but once you start it is hard to stop. It is also quite fun if you want to play but your friends are not interested because if they are anything like mine you start playing on your own and then suddenly they do want to play after all.

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Halo 3: O.D.S.T

October 8, 2009 by Dave Burns  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Halo 3: O.D.S.T

Release Date: October 22nd

Developer/Publisher: Bungie / Microsoft

Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)

Platform[s]: Xbox 360

Storyline

In a break from the trend of Halo titles you play a Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) and you specialise in situations too extreme for the average marine.  We begin the game on-board a star ship just outside of Earth’s atmosphere preparing to drop into action to battle with the Covenant as they invade the city of New Mombasa, located in Africa some years from now.  What’s different from other Halo titles is you are Human, no more dual wielding weapons, no more jumping into the sky and more importantly no more health regeneration.  Health is available throughout the game in the form of medical dispensers located throughout the city but they are few and far between so instead of the traditional run and gun method that you are used to with previous titles, you will find yourself taking on more of a stealthy approach.

Now its a pretty hard task summing up the storyline without giving too much away, basically you will have to find your way throughout the city finding clues which provoke flashbacks of your team mates as they were scattered throughout New Mombasa after the drop, these flashbacks however are controlled by you.

Gameplay

As mentioned before the game plays a little different because you are human and you can get hurt very easily, you will find yourself getting killed and returning to check points time after time again!  Other than that the games plays surprisingly well.  I am not a Halo fan and I probably will never be one, I am however impressed by the subtle changes to the system that make the game play fairly differently to any title I’ve touched before from the Halo universe.

From the start I found myself getting nervous before turning every corner or spending ages calculating my route through the city to find my objective, its not that I’m scared of being ambushed by the Covenant, its more to do with the fact that I’m probably going to get my arse kicked into oblivion by the weakest of enemies, this coupled with sparse ammo and health makes ODST different to most games I play, it’s very intense at the best of times and requires a fair amount of planning and a lot of dying.

Graphics

Only minor tweaks have been made to the engine since the release of Halo 3 but the saying goes “If it’s not broke then why fix it?” and I think Bungie have certainly proved this with both Halo 3 and ODST.  Although at times you sit there and think £40 is a lot for something that was originally planned as an expansion to Halo 3 you can see that it is indeed well worth the money when you first sit down and play this title.  One of the new features implemented is a special visor that on the ODST’s have, this highlight enemies as red, friendly’s as green and it also has a neat night vision ability.  The visor also highlights objects and areas of interest, whether this be a health dispenser, a flashback item or a collectible that unlocks audio clips from the initial invasion of New Mombasa which include clues to what actually happened.

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Sound

Like typical Halo games the game includes an excellent classical score which reflects the mood and sombre of the game, the only irritating thing with the music is, unlike other games, the score doesn’t change in battle scenarios, the music will stay intense even after you have cleared an area of Covenant so it leaves you with the feeling there are more bad ass aliens lurking around every corner that you turn.  As a games reviewer I try to scrutinise every aspect of the game and previously I used to be a sound designer so obviously if there was a fault I would find it, that being said the only fault I could find is with the dramatisation of the classical backdrop of music.  The fire fights are intense and the whole surround sound is balanced perfectly!  I used both a Turtle Beach headset and my Gaming Chair to test the sound and I found both delivered excellent, high quality effects that your grandmother would even approve of, even if shes deaf.

Overall Score & Replayability

Overall the game consists of a fairly short campaign mode that can be completed in around 4-6 hours but with higher difficulty settings and the use of co-op you could probably find yourself playing the campaign several times over.  Firefight mode (Think ‘Horde’ from Gears but with Covenant) will probably keep you playing this game for the foreseeable future with a wide range of levels and of course skulls!  If your a legendary Halo fan then your collection will not be complete without this title but for the average gamer you probably would play this a few times and trade it in, that being said the game should be on everyone’s want list even if your not a fan of the Halo IP.

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Forza Motorsport 3

October 8, 2009 by Jeff Barker  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Forza Motorsport 3

Release Date: October 22nd – October 27th 2009

Developer/Publisher: Turn 10/Microsoft Game Studios

Genre: Racing

Platform[s]: Xbox 360

Storyline

Forza Motorsport needs no introduction. Microsoft’s flagship racing simulation has been the Xbox answer to Gran Turismo since the first installment hit the original console back in 2005. Boasting a large number of licensed cars and realistic damage modeling, Turn 10 honed the experience in it’s first 360 outing with Forza 2, offering an increased number of vehicles, more impressive physics and the much loved customization section where petrol heads could tune their vehicles to within an inch of their lives, and artists could create amazing paint jobs and sell them to the Xbox Live community. Now, with Forza Motorsport 3 they have created perhaps the definitive current-gen driving experience, hoping to attract everyone from six year olds to seasoned petrol heads and realize their vision of “Car Lovers into Gamers, and Gamers into Car Lovers”.

Gameplay

At first glance, Forza Motorsport 3’s gameplay has most of the same features as most other racers out there, until you delve beneath the surface and dig up one of the deepest and most rewarding console racing experiences known to man. Starting with the assists, newcomers and seasoned pros alike can tailor the gameplay to suit their ability. From the standard Green Line that guides you around each track to the assisted braking system, you can tweak the experience to suit your driving style, turning options on and off as you see fit. Turn 10 actively encourage you to switch these assists off by rewarding you more points when you finish a race (which I bet you cannot get in video poker online). Completing a race earns you Experience Points, leveling you up and raising your rep, unlocking further races, discounts on bigger and better parts for your chosen beast(s) and more cars for you to buy, trade, paint and tune.

Spread over two discs, there are well over 400 cars for you to choose from – the 1984 Golf GTI nestles lovingly next to the Bugatti Veryon, alongside classics like the Ferrari Dino 246 GT and the 1961 R-Type Jaguar. Each and every one of them drives differently, affected by your upgrade options and how you wish to tune each vehicle. Tuning options range from tyre pressure to how much down force is applied to bumpers and tails – and again, you can either tweak them to within an inch of their life or leave them well alone, with neither decision costing you any ounce of enjoyment. Upgrades come in over 75 forms, from engine mods to cosmetic adjustments (such as bodykits and the like) and you can choose to install these manually or let the computer optimize your vehicle for you before you start a new race. Again, depending on your level of interest in how the car performs, you can bring metadata up on screen that shows you how each facet of your vehicle is holding up during a race – tyre temperature and telemetry is all there, should you wish to view it, and if a particular car feature isn’t doing it’s job you can go back and tune it until it does (or gets worse, depending on your level of understanding of these sorts of things).

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Racing is a joy, as improved opponent AI now reacts completely differently to any other racer out there (read our Dan Greenawalt interview for a further insight) – meaning that the other drivers on the road don’t stick to the race line and jostle like bumper cars, the aggressive drivers now actively try and shut you down if you get all up in their grill (so to speak) while timid drivers will back right off and avoid you like the plague. Added to this is the rewind feature – something seen recently in DiRT2 – where, if you hit a corner too fast and stack it, you can rewind the action back and cruise smoothly around the corner without so much as an ounce of drift. However, should you wish to use the feature to ram your AI opponents more than once in the same place, they will only let you get away with it once or twice, before swerving out of your way on the 3rd rewind/ramming attempt.

The game will also automatically configure depending on the vehicles you have in your garage, meaning that as you buy, sell and earn cars you will have new races offered up to you. So should you prefer your American muscle cars to your German five-door hatchbacks, the game will feel tailored to suit your needs, and it’s little features like this that show Turn 10 has not only paid attention to the Forza community’s feedback, but are looking to raise the bar on the racing games in general.

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Online and the Forza community has always played a big part in the franchise (with particularly talented members now hired onto the Turn 10 staff), and Forza 3 is no different, with improved Multiplayer options where you can tailor a race to whatever petrol-based fetish you require and the all new storefront and auction house firmly in place for online trading when the game launches.

Graphics

Forza 3 is gorgeous. Each of the 200 tracks have been lovingly crafted and, in most cases, recreated to the exact specification of their real-life counterpart. With over 60 gigs of data collected on each (including road surface changes, camber imperfections etc), the pit lanes, trees, billboards and viewing areas are all exactly where they should be. The cars themselves have been lovingly recreated, with cockpit view available in all of them (where even your rev counter and speedometer look and react differently) – as well as realistic damage modeling, with scrapes and dents appearing as and when you nudge an opponent or tyre wall. Some of the vistas in the tracks are so beautiful that, on first play through, we ended up crashing on more than one occasion after being distracted by their beauty.

Tyre deformation is a big part of this new installment, as not only can you see your tyres bending in response to the different terrain you dive on (which, if you have a large screen television set, looks amazing) it also affects your driving.

The only graphical downside are the spectators, as seems to be the case with sports that attract hundreds of different people in real life, developers never really seem to be able to nail the diversity of a crowd of people watching a race, reacting differently, for most of them appear to look the same, and have the same “waving arms in the air at random points” animations. This is a very minor quibble however, and 99.9% of the time we guarantee you won’t notice.

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Sound

According to Dan Greenawalt, Turn 10 tried to realistically sample as many of the cars as they could – giving the game an overall feel of authenticity and adding to the experience of actually driving these vehicles – and for those they couldn’t, they consulted with as many companies as possible to tweak sounds they already had to ensure they got as close as possible, and it shows. Each car sounds unique and as you’d expect it to, and skids and crashes all sound suitably chunky. There are a few in-game licensed tracks to help get the adrenaline pumping during a race, with Pendulum proving a particular favourite in the VGR/Xboxer360 clubhouse.

Overall Score and Replayability

Forza Motorsport 3 is a triumph. Turn 10 have taken one of the best racing sims out there and given it a fresh lick of paint and sheen that most gamers didn’t think would be possible, but not only that, they’ve managed to craft a game that can be as arcade or as simulation as you want it, without ever compromising on quality and enjoyment. The features we’ve spoken about in this review don’t even come close to scraping the surface of what’s available in game, and we guarantee you’ll have a hell of a lot fun finding them all out just like your journey for the ever sought best online casino bonus. We simply urge you to rush out and purchase it as soon as you can, because you will find not better racer on Microsoft’s grey box. Win.

King of Fighters XII

October 6, 2009 by Thomas Burley  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: The King OF Fighters XII

Release Date: 25th of September 2009

Developer/Publisher: SNK/Ignition

Genre: Beat’em Up

Platform[s]: Xbox 360 / PS3

Storyline

Anyone who has played a The King of Fighters game (KoF) will know that  a story mode included in the game and for a beat’em up is a great achievement. Unfortunately this time round there is no story mode at all. However there is something that does come close and that is the arcade mode which consists of 5 time trial fights of 3 v 3 with very short cut scenes – One with a women behind a desk explaining the rules and another of a news report talking about the excitement of the final rounds.

There’s no ending for any characters at all so many fans will find themselves very disappointed by this factor. I myself assumed there would be a lot more and in today’s standard a game with no story will always make you feel like you’ve been short changed.

Gameplay

With the lack of any story mode, KoF XII needed to add extra depth to the combat while still being balanced, to be able to redeem itself in my eyes. Though many games have struggled to do this, the KoF series has mastered the 3v3 battles, rather then 1v1 like standard beat’em ups. This means individuals have to master all three of their characters, which certainly adds more to the gameplay.

I felt as though the fighters themselves needed a little bit more fine tuning with their available attacks and even in attack damage. There does, however, seem to be a very good balance of differing styles, so not everyone will have the same teams online.

2Players have 22 characters, which a lot of people would think is a big roster, however true KoF fans will know the series tends to have well over 40+ characters, so this is a big cut from what normally is seen in KoF games. Some of the bigger names  missing include,  Rugal, Geese, Orochi and even Mai (which is a massive fan favourite). They seem to have cut the character list to focus more on the feel of the game. With this being the first High Definition version of a KoF game the combats great and the gameplay really is one of the best for a beat’em ups.

One the down sides is the fact that there are only 6 levels in total, one of (which is used twice). This again is not what fans are use to or expect and will leave a lot of people wondering what they are getting for their money.

KoF XII has no real single-player aspects at all, so you’ll find yourself finishing arcade mode in less then 10 minutes. The achievements are quite easy to beat, some are achievable in less then 8 minutes, 6 minutes and even 3mins 30 seconds – It goes without saying that the arcade mode is very short the only reason you’ll replay it is just for the achievements.

There are no boss battles in KoFXII, and the fans of the series will feel this should have been including into the game as it has always been a big aspect of the series. There aren’t any unlockables or any secret characters either, which kills any replayability for the offline aspects of the game.

Though there’s a lot of reasons why this game lets down to the fans of the series, KoFXII certainly isn’t a bad beat’em up! In fact it’s very enjoyable when you are playing with friends or even just online. While playing offline you can pick  a “Simple” command mode once characters have been chosen, this mode means all you have to do is press a direction and then a button to pull off a special move, rather than a combination of various different button moves. This is great for beginners and helps to pull your mate up to your standard even if they haven’t played a KoF game before. Be warned though, you can’t use this online so if you’re going online.

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Two new combat  mechanics in KoFXII “are guard attack” and “critical counter”. Guard attacks are attacks which act like parry moves and counters with an attack knocking your enemy to the floor. Whereas critical counters are a gauge under your life bar that fills as you take damage and deal damage. Once full it will automatically activate and start to lower and in this time you have to counter your opponent with a hard punch or kick to activate critical counter, once pulled off this will temporarily immobilise your opponent, activating a close up and a green like circle surrounds you, now you’ll be able to deal normal attacks, special moves and even super moves as a barrage of attacks  acting like a powerful  combo and dealing massive damage.

The critical counter mechanic is great  and the advantage of dealing massive damage means experts are going to try pull these off but the one good thing is that a beginner may also turn the table around on them.

Though critical counter is a great feature I feel that the guard attack feature is a little bit of a waste and brings a bit of a problem to the combat, as guard attack is very easy to pull off and yet players gain such an advantage it always feels as there’s a low risk to pulling them off while gaining a massive advantage as your enemy is knocked down, so I can see them being used a lot by experienced players.

The online fighting in KoFXII is quite a mixed bag, in my experience the game runs smoothly sometimes while others will lag so bad it’s unplayable. Online game mode consists of:

  • Arcade Mode -  Gain battle points rankings, through fighting other individuals.
  • Ranked Mode -   Pairs you against someone who has the same TrueSkill ranking.
  • Player Mode – Where you can take on anyone without the fear of losing ranking points.

5Arcade mode and player mode matches consist of rooms were up to 8 individuals can wait to take on the winner or loser (depending on room settings) with the winner staying on, this mode is great for a large group of friends online but otherwise it can feel like a big wait for a match that could  lag out and become unplayable. Room settings can be changed so that players can complete in either 1 v 1 or 3 v 3. In 3 v 3 players can either set them to control every player or have another individual control the other guys so therefore making it 3 v 3 players, but you’ll have to wait for your team mate to be defeated before you join the match. It’s a good feature and once the online lag is sorted it could be the games saving grace, lets just hope it’s patched soon. Ranked matches can only be played 3 v 3 but the player has to control all three of there characters, the grade system is a letter system and defeating more players online will improve your ranking from F all the way to A, then you continue till you reach the top rank of SSS.

Though there is a lot of things that should have been included, the combat is still very good and once you play online  the matches become very technical and very quick as well, so individuals wont feel as though it a complete let down to the series as the core factors in a beat’em up is the combat and are pulled off very well.

Graphics

KoF XII is the first KoF game in the series to be put into full HD and with it still being a 2D fighter instead of a 3d fighter (like most have done) the graphics were always going to be an aspect the game had to excel in. The choice of manga-like art style is very fitting to the game and players wont be disappointed. The backgrounds too are amazing and have fantastic detail!

It’s great that they have reworked some of the character model, the shades and shadowing on the characters  is very impressive and wont disappoint fans. The fact that they’ve reworked the look as well as characters adds an extra quality to the graphics. Though the graphics are really good there are two big factors that really annoy me – The first being the outline of the characters, they look good when the camera doesn’t zoom in but once it does the characters outline becomes very blurred and pixelated. The second is the explosions during attacks, they look very outdated and even “last gen” games had better explosion graphics.

Sound

The sounds of KoF XII are great and really add intensity to the fighting. It is a shame that the characters don’t talk, just grunt, but it is forgiveable in a fighting game. The background music and sounds are also very impressive everything just seems to fits so well together, it is one aspect of the game they’ve really done justice with.

Overall Score & Replayability

4I have played other games in the KoF series, so when I was asked to review Kingdom of Fighters XII, I was really looking forward to it. However I hold a real mix of feelings towards the latest in the series -  The combat is great and the simple command feature will help keep competition alive, with friends that are new to the series, but on the other hand the fact there’s no story mode or any real single player aspect makes you feel like if doesn’t deserve the full price tag its given. I can’t help but feel that anyone without the internet is really going to miss out on the good aspects of the game, and just feel resentment for buying KoF XII, as the arcade mode can be done in around 10 minutes the first time round, it is such a waste they’ve took out story mode.

The online modes are what’s going to keep the game from a really bad set of reviews but as things stand at the minute with my experience the game needs patching as the lag issues make the game unplayable and you never know when its going to happen as lag affected about 3 in every 10 games I played, but when it works it works great I cant deny that.

My recommendations is that wait until it drops in price as there is no way the game deserves the full retail prices it given and if you don’t have the internet stay away all together unless your a big fan of the series and play with friends very regularly you’ll never play the game enough to get value for your money and with many great beat’em up’s already I can see this being a big hit like some of the games in the series have been its a a shame it just feels a little rushed.

Wolfenstein

October 6, 2009 by Susan Taylor  
Filed under PC, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

 

Title: Wolfenstein

Release Date:18th August 2009 (NA), 19th August 2009 (AU), 20th August 2009 (EU)

Developer/Publisher: Raven Software, id Software, Pi Studios & Endrant Studios / Activision

Genre: First Person Shooter

Platform[s]: Microsoft Windows (PC), Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Storyline

 

The SS Paranormal Division (based loosely on the Ahnenerbe) are back in full swing and so are you Agent Blazkowicz (aka B.J). You’ve conquered Return to Castle Wolfenstein, so now it is time to take control of your sequel, Wolfenstein, and stop those damned Nazis and their supernatural ways….again.

The tale begins when you come to hold a special medallion of great unusual power. You are sent deep undercover to the town of Isenstadt to learn more about what you discovered. Your cover is quickly blown and you soon release that the town has been overrun by your German foe who are intent on obtaining powerful crystals that are needed to access the “Black Sun”. Thankfully you have allies in many shapes and forms in Wolfenstein; the Kreisau Circle, a group of resistance fighters who want the Nazis out of Isenstadt; the Golden Dawn, a collection of scholars who study the occult and hand their knowledge of the “Black Sun” and the “Veil” over to you; the Black Market, a self-explanatory band who are useful when you need to purchase upgrades and ammo.

It is up to you, Agent B.J, to help free fictional German town of Isenstadt from the clutches of the Nazis, their inhuman creations, and to put an end the madness, once and for all.

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Single-player

Wolfenstein is a very smooth first-person shooter. At lot of FPS games can feel quite stunted in movement and feel very “sluggish”, but like the top games of out shooting generation (name Call of Duty), Wolfenstein is very much up there. You can freely explore the town of Isenstadt through scaling walls, jumping across rooftops, exploring the sewers, sneaking through houses or just walking the streets with your gun at the ready.

Isenstadt is very much the main area of the game. As you progress through the story you are loaded onto vehicles and cast off (through the powers of a loading screen) to a variety of locations such as a dig site, a church, a hospital, a farm, the SS Headquarters, a Paranormal base, a General’s home, an airfield and a large Zeppelin. All of which are very linear-based and generally “Get from Point A to Point B to achieve Objective X”.

Wolfenstein offers up an arsenal of eight weapons, five of which you will find in the history books, three of which are supernatural and, unfortunately, non-existent in the real world. The history-book weapons include an MP40, an MP43, the Kar98k (my personal fave), a Panzershreck and the Flammenwerfer. The fictional weapons include a Particle Cannon, a kick-arse Tesla Gun and the Leichenfaust 44 – the ultimate weapon of destruction and mayhem.

Aside from your array of weaponry, you also hold the Thule Medallion. Through this you can enter the Veil, a barrier between our dimension and the elusive “Black Sun” dimension that your Nazi adversaries want to master so badly. With this you are given four new abilities, which unlock as you progress throughout the game and that can be upgraded through collecting material that I will explain later and heading to the Black Market to part with your hard-earned gold.

Veil Sight – The ability to see hidden pathways, doorways and secret treasures. Once upgraded you can also see through walls.

Mire - A very useful skill that allowed you to slow down time.

Shield - Very handy to have when up against a wave of bullets. Once upgraded those bullets will bounce back.

Empower - This talent gives you a significant increase in the damage caused by your weapons.

wolf3All of the above will become very important to you once you realise just the type of enemy you are up against as you move through Wolfenstein. Gone are the days of taken on just human soldiers, you are now facing a powerful army of specialised foe. There are assassins, who are invisible; scribes. who can shield themselves and non-supernatural soldiers, and large brutes wielding powerful weapons (which you can pick up upon killing them).

The pack-rats of the gaming world will love the collecting aspect of Wolfenstein. Throughout Isenstadt and the various other locations you must conquer, there will be Intel, Gold and Tomes of Power for you to find. Gold is an obvious collectable and without it you would not be able to upgrade your weapons/powers and purchase ammo when needed. Intel provides you an interesting background to the story, plus weapon unlocks. Tomes of Power unlock Veil upgrades.

Multiplayer

Eight multiplayer maps are offered up with three modes for you to choose from.

Objective - You have an attacking team and a defending team. The one on the offensive has to achieve certain objectives to win.

Stopwatch - Both sides take turns in trying to complete the listed objectives, the team that does it in the least amount of time wins.

Team Deathmatch -  You should all know this one by now. Team A versus Team B – Have at it!

There are three classes available, the Soldier, the Medic and the Engineer. Each class has a specific role to fill, such as the Engineer who can rig/disarms bombs. Each class also have their own Veil Powers, for example the Medic has the “Healing Aura”, which would replace “Mire” which is found in the single-player. Your weapons and Veil Powers can be upgraded the more you play the MP side of Wolfenstein and the more experience you earn (which is converted into money).

As for playing as a Nazi or a Resistance Fighter? It does not really matter as there are no noticeable differences between the two sides, which is very disappointing to say the least. Each side has the same weapons and the same classes. I would be a lot more excited if the developers decided to mix things up a little and give each side something unique.

Graphics

 

The single-player graphics are very much on par with what we picky gamers demand from our games these days. I have to admit I was not expecting this, but from the moment I had control of Agent B.J, I was very impressed. Nothing is jagged or pixelated, running water looks very realistic and even affects your vision if you stand underneath a stream of it. The physics are top-notch in the SP side of the game and really add to how impressive this game is.

Wolfenstein’s environment has great attention to detail and you really feel as though you are in a war torn German town. From the multitude of propaganda posters through the town to destroyed tanks scattered throughout, you can tell that the developers really put effort into creating a believable world.wolf10

There is a downside to the pretty eye-candy. I found that the game could be a tad laggy at times, even the loading screen would lag ever so slightly on occasion. This is easily overcome however by downloading the game to your hard drive. I had no lag issues with the single-player of Wolfenstein, and it’s purdy graphics, once I’d it was on my 360’s hard drive. I cannot comment on the PC/PS3 versions of the game.

Having read the above praise, you may be saddened to hear that the amazing graphics of Wolfenstein do not carry over to the multiplayer. The quality drops significantly and your world suddenly becomes very blurred and quite choppy. Unfortunately we are not going to see an improvement in the look and feel of the multi-player as the team behind it was quickly laid off soon after it’s release.

Audio

 

I am always very nervous when it comes to voice acting in games as it can be the make or break for a title. Thankfully the voice actors hired did good and Wolfenstein has successfully jumped a difficult hurdle. You have a mixture of accents throughout the game – American, German (speaking German & speaking English) and Russian. All NPCs will talk back to you, when you are in a group there will be commands shouted out to you and even the Intel you pick up has a voice over, which was a nice surprise and adds a nice element to the game.

As for the musical score? There is nothing noteworthy about the music of Wolfenstein, which is a shame. I really enjoy games which have a soundtrack that will create anger, instil fear into you and get your heart racing. Although I love the work of Bill Brown, of Rainbow Six and CSI: New York fame, there is a lack of atmosphere from the music. It can really get lost in the background and is very unnoticeable.

52627_Wolfenstein-07_normalOverall & Replayability

 

I have to admit, I did not get my hopes up with Wolfenstein, but I was pleasantly surprised and will be the first to say that it is a very enjoyable game. The single-player is sexy, smooth and perfect for any FPS fan looking for a solid game to get their teeth into.

Wolfenstein was severely let down by it’s lack of attention to the multi-player aspect, but all it needed to do was look at any Call of Duty review to realise that multi-player is extremely important nowadays.

 

As for the achievements/trophies? They are pretty typical of the latest FPS games – Kill W amount of people using X weapon or in Y fashion, complete campaign in Z mode, and so on and so forth. The achievements seem split 50/50 between the single player campaign mode and the online multiplayer.

In conclusion, a very solid single-player FPS game which I would recommend to any FPS fan (or lover of the Wolfenstein series), but do not purchase if you are looking for a game to jump online with.

Wet

September 30, 2009 by Jeff Barker  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Wet
Release Date: 15th September 2009 (NA) / 18th September 2009 (EU)
Developer/Publisher: Artificial Mind + Movement/Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Action & Adventure, Shooter
Platform[s]: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Storyline

Tarantino meets Tomb Raider in this highly stylized third person action adventure title, with the player taking on the mantle of vicious gun for hire Rubi Malone. Sent on a globe-trotting mission to retrieve crime boss Mr Ackers’ son, Rubi gets inevitably double crossed and sets about exacting revenge in spectacularly bloody fashion…

Gameplay

Wet’s gameplay is fun, fast, frantic and varied – based around gun and sword attacks which can be chained together with devastating effect, QTE’s, on-rails sections and the super-stylish “Rage” mode (which we like lots). Harking back to the days of Max Payne, bullet time is triggered automatically when Rubi fires off a shot during a jump or some kind of Tomb Raider-esque acrobatic lunacy (of which there is a fair bit), giving you more time to take out your enemies, but also granting you the ability to target two enemies at once. One is automatically locked onto for you, while you’re free to move the left stick around at will to take out any of your other nearby enemies. It takes a while to get used to, but with Rubi’s full 360 target capabilities it’s a hell of a lot of fun once you master it, and you’ll soon be swinging on poles, sliding down ladders and wall-running whilst cracking off head shots with the best of them.

The majority of your play time will be spent moving around each level, disposing of your enemies before entering a main “arena” style section which sees you shutting off enemy entry points and collecting score multipliers. These parts offer up more acrobatic combo opportunities than usual, and we’re sure some gamers will have great fun learning the quickest and most stylish route around as you leap from wall to ledge to pole and back again. At the end of each level you’re offered a score based on your performance (how quickly and stylishly you completed the level, and how many kills you successfully chained together), which is then translated into RPG style experience points that you can spend on upgrading Rubi’s skills, abilities and weapons strength.

Despite the main levels being largely linear and rather samey, Artificial Mind + Movement have done a great job of breaking up the monotony by throwing in some cracking on-rails levels, one of which sees Rubi leaping from car to car whilst capping bad guys in a Matrix style freeway chase, as you would have seen if you’ve downloaded the demo currently available on Xbox Live. One level in particular is especially inspired (we won’t spoil it by telling you why), completely ruined by the most frustrating collision detection and trial and error gameplay we’ve seen for quite some time.

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Finally, Rubi’s “Rage” mode: only available during pre-set parts of the game (with seemingly no attachment to the main story), it echoes the Crazy 88 fight in Kill Bill, with the screen taking on a cartoon-esque black and red hue. Using Rubi’s heightened senses you have to clear the area as quickly as possible, with points accrued for large amounts of kills chained together. It’s a wonderfully stylish idea executed marvelously – although we’re deducting points for the fact that you can’t earn the right to trigger the mode once a set amount of kills are achieved during the main game, for instance.

Graphics

Drawing on Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse movies as inspiration, Wet mimics the grainy, scratchy camera style they made famous brilliantly – coupled with the over the top action, constant blood spatter and stylized characters it gives the whole game a cult 70’s action flick feel which really makes the game stand out from the pack. The camera imperfections can be switched off however, which does make some of the poorer graphics stand out – for instance, some of the incidental characters are badly detailed and look china-dollish next to Rubi, Ackers and crew. The environments are varied and interesting to look at and (despite the mediocrity of the opening levels) fit in well with the rest of Rubi’s universe.

The characters are well animated, and although the hack and slash action isn’t quite up to Afro Samurai’s limb-removing standards, the blood spatter is satisfying and some of the cutscenes are particularly wince-inducing.

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Sound

Boasting the vocal talents of Eliza Dushku (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) and Alan Cumming (X-Men 2), a sleazy rockabilly soundtrack to rival Dusk ‘til Dawn and some of the snappiest in-game dialogue we’ve ever heard (penned by Duppy “24” Demetrius), Wet sounds amazing – and we guarantee you’ll be humming “Insane” by The Arkhams for days to come.

Overall Score and Replayability

Wet is a rare game, one that dares to be different and despite the odd graphical glitch here and there and linear and repetitive levels it manages to pull off enough quick fire, enjoyable gameplay a lot of titles seem to be lacking these days to warrant a spot in your “to play” pile indefinitely. With a couple of unlockable challenge modes once the main game is completed, a heap of toy monkeys to find in game and the chance to better your previous scores on the arenas Wet has definitely got a lot to offer.

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