Archive for February, 2011

Picture the scene; two kids in a playground having the argument almost everyone has at one point in their lives:

“Iron Man could so beat the Hulk”
“NO! Hulk can throw chunks of earth at Iron Man”
“Iron Man can fly! And shoot lasers!”
And so on…

Normally these sort of disputes are rarely sorted, but Capcom’s newest fighting game could go some way to sorting out these arguments; Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds. This is Capcom’s latest attempt to beat the living daylights out of a bunch of well-known characters from a particular franchise. Previously, they laid the beat down on SNK, though they mostly just used characters from Street Fighter, with one or two from other games. Now, to take on the giant of comic superheroes, they’ve brought in characters from many more of their games, including Devil May Cry, Darkstalkers and Megaman.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 - Developed by Capcom and noted to be the fifth installment in the acclaimed Marvel vs. Capcom franchise

The game itself is about Dr Doom (from Marvel’s Fantastic Four series) and Wesker (of Resident Evil fame) joining forces to bring together the greatest super-villains from both dimensions.  Of course, the heroes from the world of Marvel and Capcom join forces to put a stop to this.  I’ve never felt beat-em-ups needed a plot; just hit buttons and beat the other guy, end of story.  Also, the plot is never really shown in the game apart from the little paragraph in the manual. Guess the developers needed a reason for Captain America to punch Ryu from Street Fighter in the face.

The gameplay is quite simple in this game; you have a light attack, a medium attack, a heavy attack and a special attack (used to send the enemy in the air).  These attack buttons are used in any order to deliver a variety of combos.  Each character has a number of signature attacks too, activated with simple button combination (e.g. Ryu’s Hadoken is used by pressing down, diagonal, forward, attack).  There are also “Hyper Combos” which are extremely powerful multi hit signature attacks. Each are specific to every character, so Viewtiful Joe (from… well, Viewtiful Joe) won’t have an attack similar to any other character.  What is good about this control scheme is it feels free and easy to handle; you can use any button combination to pull off different attacks.  It doesn’t feel as restricted as, say, Tekken, which has a long list of moves for each character, but not much in the way of actual freedom to move around as you see fit.  With the ease of controls in Marvel vs Capcom 3, you now select your characters not by who is easiest to control, but whichever ones are your favourites.  In a game like SoulCalibur 4, you’d normally choose a character by how easy it is to use them.  But think about this; would you rather have a character you’re not too fond of, but with an easy move set, or pick your favourite characters you like playing as, with a simple control layout, that allows for a multitude of combos?

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 - X-Box 360 Cover Art

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds - X-Box 360 Cover Art

Graphics wise, it’s top notch; each character looks and move perfectly, with vibrant colours, and very smooth animations.  And don’t think it’s just the playable characters that got the works; even the stages are beautifully rendered.  One example is The Daily Bugle stage.  The background seems to stretch far into the distance, with no indication of it ending.  Looking closer, you’ll notice that while you’re fighting, two photographers are following you and taking pictures; one even leaps in the air to take a photo when you pull off an air combo. It’s the little things like that which I like, and makes me think that Capcom and Marvel have done something not many game developers do nowadays; put actual effort into their games.  It’s nice to see a company put a lot of time and effort into making a game the best it can be (but I’ll go into that in another blog maybe).

The characters in the game all look like they’ve been individually handcrafted; by this I mean they all have their mannerisms and personalities captured perfectly.  For example, Deadpool (debuted in New Mutants #98) is known to be unpredictable, wise cracking, and has a tendency to break the 4th wall.  Capcom capture this very well in the game, making him jump around, have an erratic fighting style, and even talk to the player when he wins the round.  Depending on which characters you pick, and whoever your opponent is, the fighter’s intro speech changes.  When Iron Man enters the fight at the very start, and if a woman is his opponent, he will start to flirt with her.  Again, it’s the little things that add to the fun of this game.

If I have to mark the game down for something, it would have to be the difficulty curve.  Take this scenario; Arcade mode, normal difficulty, stage 5.  Everything is going great, and the player manages to win no problem. Stage 6… complete annihilation from the computer.  The difficulty seems to jump up after a certain point. This is even apparent in the mission mode, where you need to input a particular move to advance; after mission 5 it all gets a bit too hard a bit too soon.

Something else caught my attention, and that is the number of character in this game; there are 36 character altogether, with a further two announced as downloadable content. This doesn’t seem too bad, but in the previous game, there were 56 characters. The only theory I can come up with is that they were wanting to put a lot of detail into the game, so taking out some fighters might have made that a bit easier.  In my opinion, it’s better to have a few distinct and detailed characters, than a lot of potentially similar fighters.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been able to nail down a great recipe for “pick up and play” fighting games.  I thoroughly enjoy playing this game, and it’s one of the few that’s a joy to play online as well as offline.  If they altered the difficulty curve a tiny amount, to make it a bit more gradual, then this would be a near perfect game.

Score: 9/10

Review attached to the side of a goat by: Satchel

By Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

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Mario hammering Donkey Kong

Mario this time using tools (Such as hammers) to defeat his foes.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you mix Mario with Lemmings? Well this game is just that.

In each level you have a few mini Marios that you need to get safely home, but of course, it is not that simple, there are a series of obstacles you need to get your Marios past.

Using your DS touch screen you can make your Mario walk, jump or go back to stationary, but be careful, if a moving Mario bumps into a stationary one both will start moving in different directions. This can cause a lot of chaos in the game especially as I tried to press a Mario to make him stop moving and then he bumped into another Mario and they were all just running anywhere.

When playing this game you will notice a letter in each level and if you collect them all they spell out ‘minimarios’ at the top of your touchscreen in each world. Collecting all of these letters will unlock a mini game at the end of the world for you to play before moving on to battle against Donkey Kong.

Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis Cover Art

A mini adventure? Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis

This game is good I do like it especially since you can just pick it up and play it for a long or as little time as you wish but I do feel it requires quite the level of concentration, you really need to think about what route to get your Marios home and how to overcome the obstacles.

Although this game is only just being advertised now it has actually been available since 2006!

Admittedly the mini Marios are cute but it would be better if you could pick a different character (perhaps mini Yoshis?) and I feel the battles with Donkey Kong are not much of a battle. In the first world, for example, you fire your little mini Marios at Donkey Kong and that is pretty much the battle. A bit too simple for my liking.

There is a lot that could be improved in this game, but for anyone who just likes a puzzler this game is perfect. For those who like Mario but don’t fancy thinking about the game, I would recommend just sticking to Mario Kart.

Score: 7/10

Review by: Rainbow

Buy Mario Vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (Nintendo DS) from Amazon.co.uk

For those of the PS1 generation, Lara Croft was a stable of life. Admittedly the game play was little bit questionable, and the physics engine was quite primitive even by the standard of the day, but what made it worth while was the legend that grew up around Lara. Now the legend is back in a franchise reboot.

Lara Croft from Playstation 1 Era

How times have changed. Here is what Lara Croft used to look like.

Lara Croft on the Playstation 3

And now she looks almost real. Sorry for the quality but as mentioned this game is Top Secret

Details are being kept under wraps, however we do know it will be set round a much younger and more fragile Lara croft than we are used to. The story is based around Lara being on board a research vessel which crashes into a small island off the coast of Japan. Lara then has travel from one side of the island to another in the normal Tomb Raider fashion of survival, and problem solving.

Some of the features include an adaptive environment. What this means is that rather than going from “A to B to C”, with everything handed to you, you will have to scavenge and adapt everything you find. This game will also allow you to choose your fighting style as either the hunter or the hunted. Finally, in a potentially extreme departure from tradition, you will not start with the signature dual wield pistols. There appears to be a much larger emphasis on hand to hand combat. However for those who prefer to use guns, there will be a collection of weapons, including most exciting of all for the hunter in you, a bow and arrow.

There currently is no release date shown yet, except for a vague reference to 2011, however given all the info and screen shots on the website http://tombraider.com/ I think that this will be a game worth watching, and I haven’t even got to the best bit. It’s being published by Square Enix. Given their success with the Final Fantasy series, and shooting titles like Parasite Eve 1 and 2 I think we may have something pretty special on our hands.

More details to follow

Review by: Big Dave

There are shooting games that are for the serious gamer; every shot must be perfect, and anything less is failure. There are those that take you on an experience with a gripping story and deep characters. And then there’s Bulletstorm; a game that puts the ‘laughter’ in slaughter.

Before I go on, I would like to point out that I am aware the game is not even released yet, so I am writing this review purely on what I gather from the demo on the Xbox 360.  So be calm my reader (readers, even?).

Bulletstorm Cover Art for PS and X-Box 360

Bulletstorm is due for release on PS3 and X-Box 360 in the UK on 25/2/2011

Upon starting the demo, you’re treated to a video giving you a brief description of the game’s premise… and I really mean brief. The games main character, Grayson Hunt, talks about how his ‘pirate crew’ crash landed on a different planet, and must somehow escape. That’s pretty much it for plot. Hunt (who I should add looks like he went to the Wolverine School of style and etiquette) then goes into vivid detail about what the game was really made for; “Kill with Skill”.  Whenever you kill an enemy you receive points, depending on how skilful you took the guy down. A simple flurry of bullets is worth very little, so running around running around going, “Bang, bang, bang, you dead” is not the recommended approach.  You need to be clever with your kills; give the enemy a kick to the chest, stick a grenade to them in mid air, shoot them in the head, and let his corpse blow up, taking out his comrades… That will get you a whole heap of points.  And that is the essence of Bulletstorm.

From watching the video, it’s immediately apparent the game is focused more on the game play and the points system, than any actual story; it’s basically, “Blah, blah, blah pirates.  Blah, blah, blah new planet.  Blah, blah, blah… Now shoot that guy in the face and send him flying”.  The video comes across as no nonsense and over the top; and I have to say I always smile when I see the video, just for this crudeness.  It makes a nice change to all the serious First Person Shooters, like Call of Duty.

Now after the video you get to play the Collapsed Building level; a nice little playground to test out the controls and game play.  The detail in the scenery is amazing; vibrant, crisp, and rather atmospheric.  Clearly, there’s been some real effort has been put into this game.  Once you’ve taken in the view, you come across some enemies, and the game play really shines.

You can blast away with as many guns as you like, but your two best tools are the leash, and your boot.  The leash can be used to drag enemies towards you, Scorpion style, and leave them dangling in mid air for a few seconds.  This gives you ample time to have your fun with the helpless goon. Head shot? Go ahead. Bullet to the baby makers? Be my guest. Boot them into spikes with a grenade tied to them? Nothing stopping you. It’s very easy to be creative with your killings, which is what makes this game enjoyable.  While most games make you think about tactics, like how to flank an enemy and avoid snipers, Bulletstorm makes you think how a giant man eating plant can be used to your advantage (yes, there’s a man eating plant. Watch the video at the end of the level).

Bulletstorm makes no bones about what it is; it’s crazy, crude, doesn’t take itself seriously, and ultimately, a lot of fun.  Even when Grayson insults you at the end of the demo (“Hey Dick-tits, This Game isn’t going to pre order itself) you get a taste of how blunt he is. The kind of guy that’ll use fists before words… then more fists.

If you need to have your shooters to be always realistic and humourless, then look for another game (which I’m sure Grayson would say, plus extra coarse language), but if you want something that’s the equivalent to kicking a giant glowing ragdoll around, I highly recommend this game when it comes out.

Score: 9/10

Review hastily written on a napkin by: Satchel

Buy Bulletstorm (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Sackboy is back in his biggest adventure yet! After much anticipation Little Big Planet 2 is finally here. Little Big Planet creators, Media Molecule, have managed to take the excitement of Easter, Christmas and a trip to Disneyland and put it altogether into one game.

With the return of Stephen Fry as the narrator play story mode and use sackboy to battle your way through the levels and save the planet from the evil Negativitron. You will go through worlds such as Da Vinci’s Hideout, Victoria’s Laboratory, Avalonia and many more. In each world you will find levels for your sackboy to venture through alone as well as a few multiplayer levels so your sackboy can play games with his friends.

Little Big Planet 2

Little Big Planet 2

As well as playing story mode you can build your own levels to play or take your sackboy to the online community as play levels that you and others have created, and either play them on your own or with other sacks from around the world.

I personally love this game. I like the fact that I can either sit and do story mode if I have a lot of time or can just go online and pick a level to play if I just want to mess around for a short while.

It is nice to be able to play a game that is not the same old football, car racing or fighting game. Although Little Big Planet is a great game I found that I was more drawn into the levels on the sequel rather than on the original, the levels just seem more fun and exciting and due to people playing and creating levels on the first game the community created levels are a much greater quality than those of the first.

This game will keep you wanting more. Let us just hope that a third one is on the cards!

The Little Big Planet world may seem crazy to some but the saying ‘let your imagination run wild’ has never been truer.

Score: 9/10

Review handcrafted by: Rainbow

Buy LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

So, once again during my dinner break I came across this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12446924

My first opinion is why would we buy it, especially if you already own a PSP? I once owned a PSP and hardly used it. Perhaps it was because I didn’t have the time, maybe I prefered to play on a big screen TV whatever the case was I sold it less than 12 months after buying it.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Handset

The future of gaming? The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play handset

Yes, of course if you needed a new phone then this would kill two birds with one stone. But whilst most people were wondering if Sony were going to release a PSP phone, i doubt this is how many people thought it was going to happen.

The first major downfall is that you’re not going to be able to play just any PSP game you like. As a matter off fact the likelihood is that you will only be able to play games that Sony wants you to. Secondly, they’re marketing this product as ‘The first gaming smartphone’ May I remind Sony that just about any phone that is considered a smart phone has the ability to play games. Some companies, such as Apple as an instance have a huge library of games, most of which are or have free versions available. And of course lets not forget the Nokia N-Gage, whilst it was technically not a smartphone, it did have real video games on it and eventually it became a gimmick, a fad if you will.

So will I be getting one? The short answer is no. I have a Nintendo DS and if I had the real need to play games on the move, then a quick game of Paper Toss is more than enough to keep me going. However, if my next phone contract offered me an ‘Xperia Play’ I may take up the offer just for the fact that I would have the ability to pay PS1 games if I wanted to.

What do you think? A gimmick? Is Sony trying to bite off more than it can chew by adding yet another gaming product to an already busy marketplace? Whats your thoughts?

The rule of thumb when it comes to sequels is to expand on the previous game; adding many new features, plots points, and generally improve the series. However, one gaming series seems to ignore this rule. Dynasty Warriors is the culprit, and their first next gen game, number 6, shows how little has changed since their PlayStation 1 debut.  And with the 7th game due for release, now might be a good time to have a look at this franchise.

The whole game series is set in China, around the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms Dynasty.  Three opposing factions (Wei, Wu, and Shu) wage war with each other to gain full control of china.  The story is told usually in small cut scenes, or via a narrator explaining the events that lead up to the next stage.

Dynasty Warriors 6 Cover Art

Dynasty Warriors 6 posted on gamingbytes.wordpress.com by Satchel

The stages are usually the same; huge battle grounds for two armies to beat the living daylights out of each other for an hour.  The player takes control of a general, and must basically defeat the commander of the opposing army, while protecting their own. Each general is based on a real figure from Chinese history, with their own back story and allegiance to a particular faction.

Now that the basic premise is out the way, it’s probably a good time to take a look at how DW6 plays out.

Each level plays out very much the same; run around, smack enemy soldiers in the chops, run around some more, beat an enemy general, more running, defeat the commander, win, rinse, and repeat. There may be the odd variation, such as assist a castle siege, or escort a target, but it’s pretty much the same. No matter how much KOEI changes the layout of each field, there’s no real variety.  Combat is pretty easy to understand in the game; mash the X button (on the Xbox), and the Square button (on the PS3) until the crowd of 200 enemies are killed or retreat. You get the opportunity to use a wide range attack, but you will always return to the quick endless attack button. Smack around enough enemies and you can use what’s called a “Musou attack”, which is a stronger combo.  Each individual Musou attack looks nice, but it’s all very samey, no matter which character you use.

Now while I may be playing DW6 to give this review, you could technically apply this to any of the previous games; just cross out 6 and write 2, or 4, or whatever. The biggest flaw in this game ism, and will probably always be, the lack of variety, and the lack of new developments. One great example is, in DW6, you can now climb ladders; a feat which was alien to the character in previous games.  Oh how groundbreaking (!)

It’s repetitive, and samey… but I have to admit I have a soft spot for this game. While you may read about me point out the flaws, when you play it, you will be able to experience the satisfaction of laying waste to over 1000 soldiers in one level.  Seeing the entire army run at your presence can give you a warm sense of glee… until you send them flying off a cliff. Then that glee turns to cruel enjoyment.

It really is a love hate relationship when it comes to Dynasty Warriors; love the whole getting stuck in with the fighting, but hate the lack of new developments.  If KOEI can give the 7th game in the series (not including the add-on games, of which there are at least two per game) a good overhaul, they can redeem themselves. If not, maybe they need to consider taking DW round the back with a shotgun, and lay it to rest.

Score: 7/10

Review cobbled together by: Satchel