Archive for the ‘Genres’ Category

Any fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies will love this game! I will admit I was already a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean but playing this game just made me want to see all the movies again (preferably with Lego characters instead of the actual actors).

Lego games have already become very popular around the world due to the likes of Lego star wars, Lego batman; Lego Indiana jones and even Lego harry Potter. So what makes this game different to any of them? Well in all honesty not much. This Lego game is pretty much the same apart from it being pirate rather than wizards or batman etc.

Lego Pirates of The Caribbean Cover Art

Lego Pirates of The Caribbean is available on X-Box 360, Playstation 3, Sony PSP, PC and Nintendo Wii

The Lego “movie clips” like previous ones are rather comical, for example, before the menu comes up on the screen you get an opening movies sequence which like the start of the movie is Will being pulled on board the ship and Elizabeth realising he is a pirate. In the Lego sequence she punches his parrot, throws away his eye patch and throws away his hook whereas in the actual movie she just hides his pirate medallion. After this opening movie sequence you get taken to the main menu which gives you the option of Story Mode of Free Play (unfortunately you can only play the Free Play once you have completed story mode since the Free Play mode allows you to go back over the levels you have played).

Story Mode takes you through the movies from the start with a lot of added comical movie sequences. Of course if you don’t want to watch the movie sequences you can just skip them and pay the game but I personally would recommend watching them as they are very funny.

For those of you who have played the Lego games before the gameplay is exactly the same. You can change between the characters around you to get different parts of the task done and build up broken Lego models around you too.

My favourite thing about this game was the way they have made the Lego Jack Sparrow just as brilliant as the actual character from the movies (the Lego version even walks the same as him). Clearly a lot of thought has been put into this game to keep the little Lego characters as close to the real characters as possible.

Lego Pirates of The Caribbean Screenshot

Graphically impressive regardless of it being a Lego game

So why play this game? Well really it is for anyone who is a fan of the Lego games and/or a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean. If you enjoyed previous Lego games I would really recommend playing this one too as it kept me hooked from the start.

This game deserves a high score for the thought of characters and because I really enjoyed it but for the originality I will be making it down as it is the same gameplay as previous Lego games (the only difference is the storyline).

If you haven’t played any Lego games or are still a bit unsure if you would enjoy it then download a free demo of the game now from the PlayStation Store, from Xbox Live or you can go on the Lego Videogames website to download a free demo for your PC (not available for Mac).

Game Score: 8/10

Review stolen from a bilge rat and soaked in rum by rainbow

Buy Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (Wii) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

With today bringing news that sexist commentator Andy Gray has been axed from the next instalment of Fifa 12, I thought this was the best time to start talking about a hotly tipped, high impact, yearly franchised game such as…..well…..Fifa 12.

Fifa 12 Cover Art Concept

Fifa 12 has vast changes not just commentators

So yes Andy Gray has gone, but don’t worry the answer as to his replacement is at the bottom of this review. The other goodish news is that you can choose to have Martin Tyler and his new associate or you can have the comedy commentary of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Now that is a shocker (Unless you owned previous Fifa’s) But onto the actual review

So other than the above statements what has changed in Fifa 12, well we will start with just about everything. The ‘Press’ button has been removed and that now makes defending an actual skill, no more will people be able to hold down a button and a defender nipping the ball away from Messi with virtually no skill needed. Attacking has also been altered with the ability to hold up the ball, closer control with dribbling has also been implemented and more importantly than all those put together is the new ‘Impact Engine.’ In the past a collision would send body parts into an almost laughable manor of limbs going through players, tackles not making a difference how hard you tried to destroy Christiano Ronaldo and you get the idea. Now tackles will make a difference, actual injuries will be made if you try and snap someone’s leg, a collision system that should detect even the best of bumps and concussions.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys

Andy Gray gets dropped by Sky first and now EA. What next?

But for me the best is yet to come, finally the Pro Player Intelligence system that ‘supposedly’ was implemented in Fifa 11 is apparently ready and waiting. So for instance, Peter Crouch will be ready to head the ball into the net, Messi will be able to closely dribble the ball, Drogba will have the strength to hold off opponents, and John Terry will be able to hit on friends girlfriends – Just like in real life.

Well the last one you may not be able to do, but you get the point. But all of this comes at a price, and that price is that if you fell in love with Fifa 11 you have to get used to a whole new different ball game (Pardon the pun). So what do you think? Looking forward to the challenge? Or do you expect a difficult relegation battle? Judging from previous years, I’m making Fifa 12 the bookies favourites and expecting Pro Evo to be relegated to the Bargain bin almost instantaneously.

P.S. The person who is replacing Andy Gray is Alan Smith discuss…

Fifa 12 will be available to purchase on 30th September 2012 for Microsoft X-Box 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and PC

Use these Pre-Order links and get 18 Gold packs (3 packs per month for 6 months) to build your dream club in FIFA 12 Ultimate Team.

Pre-Order FIFA 12 – Special Edition (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Pre-Ordre FIFA 12 – Special Edition (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

After months of saying “No, I’m not going to review Killzone because everyone is” I got handed a copy of the Killzone demo and hence this review.

Let me first say this, I have never played any of the Killzone games, I found them to be either juvenile or games that juveniles would play. And me not being a juvenile I thought that this game would not get a fair review, so I went into this review with the clear and indefinite thoughts that I would not enjoy it.

The last first person shooter I played was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and even when I played COD I never played it for too long because I found it fairly boring. I can safely say that Killzone doesn’t have this effect on me, yes you read right, doesn’t. “But you said you were going to hate Killzone 3” I said I was going to try to, but playing this game made me realise what I possibly have been missing in life.

Killzone 3 Screenshot

With graphics that are this good, it;s hard to wonder why I didn't review it before now

The gameplay was fantastic, took me a while to get used to it, but my god when I did get the hang of it, It was awesome. The graphics are absolutely amazing, graphics that, in my opinion would give LA: Noire a run for their money.  And whilst the in-game graphics rival anything in its field, the cut scene graphics are out of this world. I cannot actually give the graphics its comeuppance because they are just a delight to look at. The control system, whilst not easy to just pick up and learn along the way, has buttons for everything. I mean seriously there is probably a button to make my tea; I just haven’t found it yet. Some may be put off by the thought of too many buttons, but after playing it (And dying quite a bit I must admit) for fifteen minutes you understand how it all works.  It also has compatibility with the move controller, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to review that, but you can almost guarantee that it’ll be similar to every other shoot ‘em up game that uses the PS Move (There’s also a 3D version, but knowing my love for everything 3D why don’t we skip past that).  The game also comes with a co-op mode, which I’m quite sure may get people to stay in on a Saturday night and have a Killzone party. If I had friends I too would probably do that.

Killzone 3 Inlay / Cover Art

Killzone is available now on Playstation 3 Only

Obviously the game does have a rating of 18 which is understandable considering all the blood and gore that is complimentary in the game. Not to mention the fact that your killing….things with big guns and you actually get complimented on your shooting by your “Partner” (I can’t see many parents saying well done to their son or daughter for shooting someone in the head with a big machine gun can you).

If there was going to be a con it was that the control system, at first is very sensitive and has too many buttons and actions then are genuinely needed. That’s it, I can’t think of any other cons, this game is absolute genius, and I’m not a person who is known for playing games like this, that have “teh big guns”

So for what has to be the first time since starting to review games, I can fairly say that I was wrong to criticise this game. Whilst the storyline seems rather farfetched, the gameplay, and even to a certain extent the control system, more than make up for it. So if this game is criticised for being juvenile, then I too must be a juvenile. Just makes me sad that I haven’t played the first two, but I am happy in the knowledge that if I want too they are going for really cheap on the regular auction sites. This will be going on my shopping list, definitely.

Score: 9/10

Review done whilst riding a black swan by: parkergordon

Buy Killzone 3 – Move Compatible (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Killzone 3 in 3D with Dual Shock 3 (Jungle Green) Wireless Controller – Move Compatible (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Those who have read my two articles on DW6 and the preview on DW7 will by now know my opinion on the series; bit tedious at times, but still has a degree of enjoyment. While I enjoyed playing DW6, I felt it was starting to stagnate. Now I’ve played the 7th game, is it going to be the same deal this time around?

Dynasty Warriors 7

For the first time in the history of the game Dynasty Warriors now has a Story Mode

The plot is the same as all the other Dynasty Warriors games, which is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms; you watch the unfolding story of the three kingdoms of Chinaas they wage war for complete control. The new addition to the new game is the inclusion of the 4th kingdom; Jin. These are formed during the downfall or Wei, Wu and Shu, and strive to unite the land. I always wanted to see how the story progressed after the final battle of Shu and Wei, as I felt the games ended rather abruptly.

In DW7, they’ve thrown out the two usual modes that have been present throughout the whole series; Musou and Free Mode. These two were basically the same thing, though Musou mode did try to tell the story of the Three Kingdoms. Unfortunately, it wasn’t told very well. Now, in the new game, they’ve included two new modes to play; Story mode and Conquest mode.

Story mode is the replacement to Musou mode, and a good replacement too. In Musou mode, you played as each individual character, playing pretty much the same battles over and over again. Now, in Story mode, you play as the kingdom, following their campaign to ruleChina. Instead of playing as one character throughout the story, you control a different character at the beginning of each act, or battle. On some occasions, you switch characters in the middle of a battle. I like this new change, as it means playing the story doesn’t feel repetitive.  The cut scenes play out really well, and do very well to convey the character’s emotions, and what’s happening at that moment in time. There’s a scene where Dian Wei sacrificed himself to save his lord Cao Cao. I was shocked to see him riddled with arrows and collapsing to the floor. That’s never happened before. Previously the cut scenes just felt shoe horned in, and just got in the way of the actual game. In previous games, when you were in the middle of a battle, you be treated to a sudden blackout followed by a pretty pointless cut scene, before resuming your march. These used to get in the way of playing, but that’s changed in the new DW. Cut scenes and game play flow fluently between each other, and feel integral to the whole experience.

The second mode included is Conquest mode. This is like a campaign acrossChina, completing different missions in different battlegrounds. These missions include escorting the commander to the escape point, storming a stronghold, and helping with an army’s defence. Each mission can vary in length, but they do not feel drawn out. It’s not like you have to sit for hours completing conquest mode; you can play a few battles in bursts and take a break. There are also legendary battles thrown into the mix. These let you take control of each character and take part in different scenarios. These can either be historical battles they took part in or what-if situations. For example, Zhang He, the ‘fabulous’ warrior of Wei has two legendary battles; one is defeating Cao Cao, and the other is convincing other generals to join his dance troupe. Yes… a dance troupe. These battles are quite varied and fun as well. These two modes are a huge improvement to the previous games, as they make the experience much more enjoyable.

Each battle plays out in a similar fashion; defending the main camp, while pushing the opposition back. You are usually given a particular task to complete, in order to carry out the army’s strategy. Previously, these felt tiresome, and I felt obligated to complete them, just because I didn’t want to lose the battle, and start over again. But this time it feels different. I felt motivated to carry out the missions. My reasoning is that the cut scenes and the story were presented so admirably, they gave me a reason to progress further, and achieve victory.

The controls have gone back to the classic layout, and abandoning the Renbu system. The classic controls involved the use of a light attack button and a strong attack button. Both can be use to deliver different combos, such as light-light-heavy. I liked the idea behind the Renbu system, but you were basically pressing one button for hours, which just felt tiresome. Visually it’s pleasing, but that’s about it. The classic system works a little better visually and doesn’t feel as tiresome. The Musou attack still hangs around, and of course that’s been given the old nip/tuck. Instead of the characters just swinging their weapon around, they have an over the top technique that can obliterate a huge crowd of soldiers. Huang Zhong launches his enemies in the air to deliver a barrage of arrows, Jia Xu releases a vortex of fire, and Sima Yi engulfs his victims in web, before blowing them up, to name a few. It always brings a feeling of satisfaction to see hundreds of soldiers fly around after one little button press, which is one of the reasons I love this series.

Special mention should be given to the weapons on offer, since there’s a new feature; the weapon switch. You now equip two weapons to take with you, and can switch between them at will. It now brings more opportunities to slap some goons around. You have your regular, run of the mill weapons to choose from; swords, spears, axes, pike, arm cannons, bows… wait… arm cannon? Never knewChinawas that advanced to have a hand held cannon. And somehow they invented a lance that doubles as a drill. It’s classic ancient weaponry, with that usual Tecmo Koei over-the-top style. Even a harp can be used as a weapon. Who knew?

Dynasty Warriors 7 Case Artwork

Dynasty Warriors 7 is available now on the PS3 and the X-Box 360

If I had to mark it down for something, it would have to be the skill point feature they’ve implemented. You level up your character by defeating enemy generals, and gaining skill points to spend on new abilities; from an extra attack, to a new musou attack. Now it’s a good idea, but the points are only given to the character that killed the generals. Any characters you don’t use don’t gain skill points. This can lead to difficulties later on. For example, if you haven’t used a warrior until you play their legendary battle (maybe because you haven’t unlocked them until then), then they will be pretty weak, and only able to perform basic attacks. This means they will be susceptible to getting wiped out with a few hits, which can get frustrating. My opinion would be to have a ‘pool’ of skill points to use on all the characters.

Secondly, with all the new characters, you never really get to use them in story mode. I would like to see the origins of some characters, like Ma Dai of Shu, and Cai Wenji of Wei. If you’re going to include new additions, an origin story would be nice. But these two little flaws don’t really get in the way of the game.

I was thoroughly impressed with Dynasty Warriors 7. It feels like an actual sequel, with noticeable upgrades, and a better playing experience. DW6 was good, but number 7 is much better. This is the sequel I was waiting for, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Score: 9/10

Review written with the help of Sun Tzu by: Satchel

Buy Dynasty Warriors 7 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Having spent a fair amount of time enjoying the delights of Virtua Tennis 4 I thought it would behove me to review the other additional tennis simulations that are going to be available and for that I had to really review its competitor which is Topspin 4.

Anyone who remembers my review (Insert review post here) will remember that I greatly appreciated the rather simple and casual gaming style of Virtua Tennis 4. And if I had to give these games a real life comparison Virtua Tennis would be Rodger Federer and Topspin 4 would be Andy Murray. Why you all gasp? The reason is simple, Virtua Tennis is (And for me always will be) a tennis great, it’s intuitive, easy to pick up and play, enjoyable, and is always going to do well. Topspin 4 is also intuitive (Maybe too much so) not as easy to pick up and play as Virtua Tennis, doesn’t go into too much details during it’s “World Tour” mode and will only surprise you actually follow tennis. Now that we have that analogy over with it’s time to properly review the game.

Top Spin 4 Screenshot

Top Spin 4 does indeed look good, but is that important in comparison to gameplay?

First thing to mention is that the control system is fairly easy to us (Although it has a lot more shot options then I would ever need to use) and even tells you if you have hit the ball early or late and, obviously as would be expected, this alters the movement of your shot. This control system however seems to nurse you too much, and whilst you can turn it off, it’s still there as a back though that the creators 2K Czech need to implement this into the game. I mean it is a good thing, if you’re playing a practice match or training this is a must have, but when playing in a competition it’s not really necessary.

Secondly the control system seems a little slow, there doesn’t seem to be any real power in the shots, and since this is trying to simulate real life, they should have given the game a little more oomph. Even the character I was playing as (Federer) seemed to hopelessly flap at the ball when if he’d of actually tried to hit it he could have. The game really seems unpolished, which after three years of waiting for a sequel, is very much unexpected.

Maybe I’m being too harsh as I am a real lover of the new Virtua Tennis series, but this game does have its good points.

Top Spin 4 Cover Art

Top Spin 4 available now on Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and Nintendo Wii

It has several different difficulty settings, so someone like me can easily start off on medium and the die-hard tennis fan can get into the nitty gritty expert level straight away. It has advanced control systems for serve and all of its other shots, but if you’re feeling a little tired you can let the computer automate your shots and serve as well. It has amazing graphics, probably on par with Virtua Tennis 4 and its new player animations are very realistic and well presented. It has an all new TV broadcast quality, which although is seen in other tennis sims, is very well replicated and maybe even better then Virtua Tennis. But these are all novel, and very cosmetic plus points and in no way can compete with its nemesis Virtua Tennis 4.

So to summarise what I summarised at the beginning this game really is the Andy Murray of the tennis video games. It may be a very good game for those who played Topspin 3 as it keeps some of the glory of that game and takes away all that was bad and terrible about it. But with a very dull world tour mode, (No side quests like meeting fans, signing autographs etc.) very slow and seemingly powerless shots, and did I mention the lack of depth in the “create a superstar” mode this really is Andy Murrays Wimbledon…… unwinnable.

Score: 6.5/10

Reviewed by the IRS before submitting by: parkergordon

Buy Top Spin 4 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Top Spin 4 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

The Gears of War series and I have a strange relationship. I was badgered into buying the first two by an ex, mainly so we could play in the Xbox online. Now I did enjoy playing the games, but I didn’t get as into it as most of its fans. I barely played the online multiplayer, since every time I did I took two steps and was shot in the head from behind. So I had a tendency to RageQuit, and avoided the online mode like a growling bulldog. When I pre ordered the third game (again, persuaded by an ex) I received a code to try the multiplayer beta for a limited time. I thought, ‘it would be a waste to not use it, and it might make for a good review’ so I decided to keep it and jump right in. Do I regret it? Let’s find out…

Gears of War 3 Screenshot

Gears of War 3 promises to be one of this years best selling games

Upon starting the game, I had a quick browse at the multiplayer options. At first, you only get access to four characters. Two of those are the COGs (the good guys); Marcus and Dom, two guys who couldn’t be any more butch if they had testosterone for sweat. The other two are Locust, the bad ‘Guys’. I use the term loosely, as I cannot tell them apart.  You can also choose what two weapons you wish to take with you on your quest to perforate anything made of flesh. Your primary weapon can be either the trusty lancer (assault rifle with a chainsaw on the end… Not over the top at all), the hammerburst (A machine gun that fires as fast as you can pull the trigger), and a new addition to the weapon roster; the retro lancer. The different between this gun and the lancer used in the previous games is the retro version has no chainsaw attachment. Instead it’s equipped with a bayonet, meaning you charge forward and impale your target. The secondary weapon is your spread shot gun. This can be the gnasher (from the first two games) or the newcomer, the sawed off shotgun; an incredibly powerful but slow gun.

I’ve used all these and they all handle very differently. This is good as you can cater your weapons set to suit your own play style or tactics. As a rule of thumb, if you’re new to the Gears series, I recommend using the default lancer/gnasher setup. The lancer has a good rate of fire and accuracy, and the gnasher holds 8 rounds per clip, so you can unload a few shots if you need to be up close and personal. More advanced players are better adept with the hammerburst and retro lancer. The retro lancer is stronger than the regular gun, but the bullets are less accurate, and charging with the bayonet is a big risk since there’s a chance your adversary can empty a clip into your face before you even graze him. The sawed off is the hardest to use, as you need to be so close to the enemy you can see the whites of their eyes.  Additionally, there is an option to customise the look of your weapons; instead of everyone using guns that look similar, you can apply skins to change the visuals. For example, my lancer has the Gears logo painted on, and I’ve seen other players using lancers with a flame skin. It might not seem much, but imagine this; slicing someone with a lancer is all well and good, but picture slicing someone open with a lime green or a hot pink lancer. To me, that brings a chuckle or two.

Once I had a play around with the menu, I opted for the team deathmatch game, to see what Gears3 will be like. While waiting to jump into a game, I was anxious, since my experience with the last two Gears played out like this:

“OK, I’m ready. Let’s do it”

*Takes 3 steps forward*

*BOOM!*

*Shotgun from behind… Dead*

“OH YOU SON OF A-”

*RageQuit*

This happened a lot. Even when I kept close to another player and tried some strategy, I just couldn’t manage a single game. This time, though, I ran for cover, and started to find the nearest enemy. I popped a couple of shots in before my character was killed. I thought about quitting there, but I carried on regardless. Second attempt went a bit better; I managed to down an opponent, and even killed them. From then on, I scored a good number of kills before I was blown to bits by a sawed off. I wasn’t so disgruntled, since I did manage to score a few points, so I kept going. It wasn’t until the third round, however, that I had an epiphany… I was having fun playing online. I… enjoyed it. This came as a huge shock to me, and even when I was stabbed by a retro lancer, I laughed it off. I was having too much fun to care. Now, when I scored a kill, I didn’t think ‘Oh thank God for that’ I thought ‘Oh Hell yeah!’.  I even gave myself a pat on the back when I snuck up on someone and impaled them on a retro lancer. RageQuit is now a thing of the past.

The beta handles very well. For a multiplayer game that’s still in development, I saw no problems at all. My character moved and handled smoother than the previous two games, and there was never a hint of lag anywhere. They’ve kept the controls from the previous titles, which is great, as the layout was always simple to memorise and become accustomed to.  What I found surprising was another new feature; the ability to share ammo with other players. All you do is aim at a teammate and press the Y button. This is handy in cases like playing Horde, or if you don’t have time to scavenge for ammunition.

Gears of War 3 Cover Art

Gears of War 3 is available for the X-Box 360 only from the 20th of September

So far, there’s only been 4 maps available to try online; Checkout, Thrashball, Trenches andOldTown. Each map is completely unique, in terms of looks and layout, and all have a different style of play. Checkout is set in a ruined shopping centre, with debris littering the floor, and opportunities for cover everywhere. This one is quite confined, as the debris covers most of the map. There’s little chance to move about, so you will end up going toe to toe with an enemy frequently. The gnasher here is your best friend. Thrashball takes place in a stadium for the fictional sport… well, Thrashball. Sports equipment and other objects are turned into walls for COGs and Locust to hide behind. This is more of an open map, which can see the opposing teams on either side of the map taking part in an old fashioned shootout. This is my favourite map, as there’s little place to hide from the mayhem. OldTownis based in an old town (surprisingly).  It’s a broken market town, with the main square in the centre, and alleys on either side, for flanking opportunities. This is the biggest of the maps I think, so finding the enemy will be difficult, particularly if they’re down to their last few guys.  Trenches drops you in a mining outpost, littered with mine carts.  The gimmick of this map is the siren that sounds off at random times. When you hear it, ten seconds later a thick layer of dust settles rendering visibility to nil for a brief period of time. Also, on the hill in the lower centre of the map, there is an incredibly powerful sniper rifle, called the Longshot. It’s basically a Barrett M82 which has been given the Gears workout. One shot will obliterate anything. No bodies collapsing; they just burst like a watermelon. Smarter players will seize this gun and stay hidden, taking potshots at everyone. This is the only map that has the opportunity for someone to ‘camp’; staying in one spot and taking out the enemy from a distance. I hate campers, and I’m glad the method can only be achieved in one out of the four maps.

The beta gives you three games to try out; team deathmatch, king of the hill and capture the leader. I’ve played the first two, and I can say both play out very differently. Team deathmatch is a new addition to the Gears franchise, and each team has a pool of lives. When a player is killed and respawned, that team loses a life. Once they are depleted, it can get quite tense when both sides are down to their last few teammates. It soon turns into something from theAlamo, and if the weaker team wins, it gives you a real sense of victory. Not many games can pull that off, and I play this mode the most. King of the hill is a points building mode. Teams must seek out and capture floating rings that appear in different locations. After a certain amount of time the ring moves somewhere else and must be recaptured. This mode focuses on defence and tactics, since I’ve seen teams bunch up on threes to defend rings. Team deathmatch can see you in a full on assault, but king of the hill sees you planning a surprise attack or an ambush. They’re really varied modes, and I was surprised to see that. My impression of online gaming was everyone either shoots everything that moves, or just camps somewhere, no matter what type of mode they are playing. But Gears makes you think about problem solving.

Now guns and grenades are all good, but most of the time they just make your target drop to their knees and crawl around. In the previous games your character crawled around until they bled out and died, or if someone revived them. This time, it’s a little different. When you fall to the floor, you can mash the A button to crawl away and find a team mate to give you a pick me up, or if you’re really lucky, you revive yourself and carry on. Kind of a Monty Python ‘Tis but a scratch’ deal. This must be because players were getting annoyed about bleeding out with no means to get back up. It means the game can last longer, and in turn, be more about fun. That doesn’t mean you have to leave an enemy bleeding on the floor, you can ‘put them out of their misery’… with executions. They vary depending on what weapon you have equipped, and how long you press a certain button. Tapping the Y button delivers a satisfying curb stomp to the victims head. It might be wrong to enjoy it, but it is a lot of fun. Holding down the Y button lets you carry out a more brutal execution. The retro lancer makes you stab the jugular, and gnasher is used like a golf club, and the head is a golf ball, and so on. It’s only a small feature, but it’s worth mentioning for its humour factor.

In conclusion, I am thoroughly engrossed in this game; more than I though I would be. It doesn’t feel as serious as the other two, and it’s much easier to handle. I cannot wait for the full game to be released.  A full review of that will follow.

Score: 10/10

Review carved into a Locust’s chest by: Satchel

P.S. One more thing I must want to add… Carmine must die. Those who have read the Gears of War website will know what I mean when I voice this opinion.

Pre-order Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

(Caution: May Contain Slight Spoilers)

If you’ve been living under a rock recently, or if you’ve been doing something productive, rather than play video games, then you’ll know about a new sequel to a very popular title. A title that won several awards, and was credited as one of the most influential games of the first decade of the 21st century. And the name of this title? Well, Portal of course. That little puzzle game that came bundled in The Orange Box proved so popular it’s managed to get its own sequel; Portal 2.  With so much hype generated this title is worth a look. So let’s dive into the blue portal, and fly out the orange one, and see if lightning can strike twice.

Portal 2 Screenshot

How does Portal 2 measure up to the original Portal?

Portal 2 is set after the events of the first game. It doesn’t tell you how long after though. You wake up in a seemingly normal looking hotel room, with an announcer’s voice asking you to perform simple tasks, like look up down, stare at art, and listen to music. You are then told to go back to sleep. 5 seconds later you wake up to the same room… which now looks like a bomb site. Looking around you are then introduced to your only friend; Wheatley. He’s a tiny robotic sphere with a single eye, dangling from a ceiling rail, and is kind of a guide and an assistant to help you get through Aperture Science.  This is where your adventure begins. What I like about the storytelling, and the pacing is that there’s no narrator telling you the tale, or an internal monologue spelling everything out for you; you find out by exploring, by thinking for yourself. By allowing the player to think for themselves, they become more immersed in the experience, and enjoy it more when plot twists occur.  One good example is returning to the chamber where you destroyed GLaDOS. When I saw her crumpled mass all over the floor, I just thought, ‘Wow… I did all this?’ while my mouth was open. And when you see her slowly revived, I was swearing (a lot) in my head, and getting quite intimidated. If the game spelled out what you should be feeling, I bet the scene wouldn’t be as effective.

If you played the first Portal, you’ll be instantly used to the gameplay in the second game; it’s the same basic mechanic. For those who are confused about how portals work here’s a quick explanation. Chell, the main character (you) has the use of a ‘portal gun’. It can fire two portals of different colours; blue and orange. These are link to each other, so you can enter one portal, and exit the other. So if you were to shoot a portal at the floor, and one on a nearby wall, you can jump into the floor and appear by the wall. The first game really tested your intelligence, challenging you to use these portals to reach the exit. The second game does that just as well, but it also ramps up the difficulty by introducing extra items to use. The weighted cubes return, but you also need to make use of lasers, coloured goo (which can either bounce you higher, make you run faster, or allow portals to be placed anywhere), gravity fields and light bridges. These challenges cause you to think so far out of the box it’s in another room. In another house.

Portal 2 Cover Art

Portal 2 is available now on Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and PC/Mac

What I liked about Portal is the emotions it invoked. One particularly notable section was when Chell discovered an opening behind some panels. Inside was drawings and pictures from other test subjects who had failed. When looking around, I honestly got the feeling like I shouldn’t be there; like I was outside of the game. And that was a genuine thought as the game didn’t need to explain to you that you didn’t need to be there. When I played Portal 2 I was wondering if they would do something similar. Wandering through all the levels I was beginning to wonder if they’d do anything like in Portal. By the time I reached what I thought was the end, the game carried on to a new section of the game. After a particular scene, it made me think the game should’ve ended; I should have beaten the game. But I was made to traverse even more obstacles. Usually that would be a negative, but the way the story played out means it became a good pivoting moment in the plot.

Even if you manage to beat the solo campaign (and I mean barely beat) there’s the multiplayer cooperative mode to try. This time you don’t play as Chell, but two robots who must work together to complete GLaDOS’ tests. These robots are known as Atlas (because his blue body is the shape of a globe) andPeabody(the orange bot with the thin torso).  They both have a portal gun each, and both shoot two different portals; Atlas can fire blue and purple portals, whilePeabodyuses Red and yellow.  Neither can talk, so can’t tell the other partner what needs to be done to solve the puzzle. Instead, they make use of aPingtool, which allows either robot to indicate where the attention should be drawn to. Usually in a co op campaign both players can just talk to each other, but this use of the ping tool is quite clever; it means players must think more about how to communicate their ideas and work together. Portal 2’s co op is not about rushing ahead of your partner blindly; it’s about taking the time to look at your surroundings, formulate a plan, and exercise perfect teamwork. It makes a nice change to usual online gaming, which is run ahead and shout at anyone who isn’t as good as you.  I had a partner to help me with the co op mode, and asked for his opinion on the game. ‘Connorsts94’ says that the Co op is well thought out, and it provides quite a challenge having to place 4 portals correctly. He also enjoyed the solo mode’s story and humour, which is just like the first Portal.

Special mention should be made to the two biggest characters in the game: GLaDOS and Wheatley. The voice acting is brilliant in this game, especially Wheatley. He is played by Stephen Merchant, which came as a huge surprise to me… as I thought he was hilarious. I usually avoided him for his association with Ricky Gervais, but Merchant’s voice acting was top notch. GLaDOS is, as usual, excellent in her acting skills. She retains the wit from the first game, while showing even more emotion when it’s needed (you’ll see why when you play the game).

If I did have to mark it down, it would be the levels of frustration that appear when you get stuck on a particular puzzle. There will be times you’ll wander round the entire section, and become angrier and angrier with each second. And on some occasions, when I found the solution at a distance and in a hard to miss spot, I found myself shouting, “Oh come on!”. Sometimes you feel like you’ve achieved something solving the puzzles, other times you just feel glad you got past the level after 2 hours of running through portals.

At the end of the day though, I really enjoyed playing Portal 2. It’s clever, challenging, and makes for a great game to immerse yourself in. Is it better than Portal 1? Oh yes, but don’t count out the first game. This is one game that’s worth the hype.

Score: 10/10

Review found on a desk at Black Mesa by: Satchel

Thanks to Connorsts94 for putting up with my dim attempts to solve the co op levels.

Buy Portal 2 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

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