Archive for the ‘Adventure’ 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

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

It has taken a lot of willpower to write this review, if I’m honest. Not because I didn’t want to write it, but because I was engrossed in a particular game I found on the Xbox Live Arcade. A game where I go, “Alright a quick five minutes” and find myself still playing 6 hours later. And what game is the culprit? Torchlight. Well you’d already know that if you read the title, but I digress.

It’s essentially a 3D adventure game, with RPG elements thrown into the mix. You start the game in the mining town of Torchlight, and travel deeper and deeper into the mines, completing quests and strengthening your character. In this world, there is a supernatural mineral found in the earth, called Ember. It’s this Ember that gives people and objects their magical abilities.  However, Ember is like a double edged sword; while it can imbue magic, it also has a corrupting influence.  And this is when you enter the scene. I don’t want to give too much away for fear of spoiling the plot.

Torchlight available for PC and now X-Box 360

Torchlight available for PC and now X-Box 360

You choose from a selection of three different characters, each with their own strengths; the Destroyer, a melee specialist, capable of delivering deadly attacks to his enemies, the Alchemist, the master of magic, and a lover of steampunk, and the Vanquisher, the token female of the trio, and an expert in ranged weapons. Like most RPGs with character classes, you choose the one that suits your style; whether you prefer to pick off enemies from a distance, or get stuck right in, swords blazing. There is some strategy when it comes to suiting up your warrior, as while there is a huge array of weapons and armour to find and buy, sometimes just buying the sword with the highest attack is not the best tactic. While one weapon might have 50 attack power, and the other one has 45, the latter might also have extra enhancements.  This can range from additional poison damage, to extra mana, or a boost to character stats. So it pays to think ahead and customise your combatant to fit your fighting style. Other RPG elements include applying skill points to your statistics, and using points to learn new skills.  While players new to the RPG world may think this is all too complicated, I can say it’s really easy to get used to; you only have four stats to enhance. These are Strength (how hard can you punch a critter in the face), Defence (how well you can take a punch in the face), Magic (how powerful your spells are when they hit a critter in the face) and Dexterity (how effectively you can shoot a critter in the face).  Keep those four high enough and you’ll be smooth sailing.

The controls are nice and simple; one attack button, 4 buttons to assign your skills to, and an interact button. That’s it. So even the newest of newbies can battle hordes of zombies without having to remember complicated button commands. Your mapped abilities are even displayed on the bottom of the screen, so you always remember what skills you have at your disposal.

For an Xbox Arcade game the graphics are not bad; the individuals are all modelled like a cartoon, with over the top body proportions. This includes huge muscular chests, Popeye like forearms, and for the vanquisher, nice big… hair. The environment is nicely rendered. The bold colours and details in the levels give it that dark and foreboding atmosphere, like you’re unsure what’s going to come next. This atmosphere is also enhanced with the background music. It’s not over the top; it has subtle tones that give this impression that anything can appear and fly right at you.

Screenshot from Torchlight

Torchlight recieved rave reviews when released in 2009 on PC. Can it emulate those reviews in 2011 on XBLA?

One addition I liked in this game is the option of what pet you want to take with you on your adventure. You have a choice of a dog, a lynx or a dragon (an Xbox exclusive). These creatures will follow you round, dealing damage to your enemies, and acting as a pack horse for your extra items. If your inventory is full, just swap some junk over to your pet to lighten the load. What makes the pet invaluable is their ability to return to town at your command. If you have a surplus of items or weapons you need to sell, you’re not forced to backtrack to the exit, sell your gear, and then trundle all the way to the dungeon. You just load your pet with the excess baggage, and command them to return to the village while you carry on exploring, returning to your side a minute later. I have been very thankful for this feature, as I loathe walking miles and miles back to the nearest town just to pawn a few daggers. It breaks the flow of your exploration. I wish to go forward, not forward a bit, then go back again.

If I have to mark it down, it would have to be the lack of a multiplayer feature. The experience would be better if you had a friend or two accompanying you on your quest, each with a different character, to enrich the journey. Now I have to say many people have complained about this too, and Runic Game have said they are going to include the multiplayer in the sequel, so I can’t really give them too much negativity.  Another thing is something called “Unidentified Items”. Now as I said some weapons will have extra features, like poison attack, or a resistance to a particular element. Sometimes when you pick up an item it is shown to be unidentified, meaning the character doesn’t know the objects abilities, and therefore you can’t equip it. To find out you need to buy or find an identity scroll.  This annoys me, as I either have too many unidentified items, and no scrolls, or when I do identify it, the item is too weak to use. So this renders the process redundant.

Torchlight really is a simple yet addictive game; customising your character, completing quests, exploring deeper and deeper underground to uncover the mysteries of Ember, it draws you in, and holds on. If I had to liken it to another game, I would say it’s like Borderlands; the customisation features are very similar, so fans of that game will enjoy this. If you plan on playing this game, I advise you never to think, “Oh just a couple of minutes while I have nothing to do” because those minutes will build up. Torchlight may be a pick up and play type of game, but it could also be a pick up and don’t put down game too.

Score: 9/10

Review forged with the help of Thor’s hammer by: Satchel

 

So here we are on the latest edition of Pokémon and what we find is that very little has changed…….But that’s not necessarily a bad thing

I remember when I was a little person I used to love playing Pokémon, I went to all the trading fairs, bought all of the merchandise and even owned a Pokédex. That’s right I was poke fanatic.

But this was in the age of Ant and Dec being on TV early in the morning on a Saturday, when they had programs called SM:TV Live and CD:UK and I used to sit down and enjoy a Saturday feast of Pokémon action

Of course now I am an old person and games like this don’t excite me anymore……..right……..wrong!

Pokemon Black UK Case

Pokemon Black UK case

On first glance of this game it seems as though it’s a new game, the graphics have been tarted up to look like it’s a different game, but underneath all of that there is a game that I have been eagerly awaiting. Whilst most people eagerly anticipate the new COD or the new FF game, I and my 7 year old child inside are desperate to get their hands on this game.

The gameplay is as easy as it has ever been, and has had very few changes made to it which makes it a game that’s worthy of telling the kids to go to bed. As a matter of fact it’s worth telling them that they’re grounded and not allowed to play on their DS until they’ve learnt their lesson.

You start off in the brand new region of Unova, which, unlike previous versions of the game, isn’t based on a location in japan. Anyways, as per usual you start with a Pokémon and try and catch ‘em all. Those of you who like change will be happy to know that there are some for instance, along with day and night cycles in the game there are also seasonal changes. Rather than sticking with the Gregorian calendar changes the season changes every month on a four month rotation. Some Pokémon will be able to be caught in winter and others in summer, spring or fall. The C0-Gear replaces the Pokétech and allows the player to control the various wireless capabilities of the DS and the game itself and include the new ability to video chat with a friend. (So long as you and your friend have a DSi or 3DS) There are also two new battling systems called Triple Battle and Rotation Battle. In triple battle you and your opponent send out three Pokémon each and take it in turns to battle each other. However, the Pokémon can only battle the corresponding Pokémon; so for instance your first Pokémon could only attack their first Pokémon and so forth. Rotation battle is different in the fact that you still both choose three Pokémon and play a 1-vs-1 style game until the person left standing is the winner.

Pokemon Black and White Starter Pokemon

The three starter Pokemon Oshawatt, Snivy and Tepig (Left to right)

You can also transfer Pokémon from older games (Such as heart gold and Pokémon diamond) which integrate a mini game where you must throw poke balls at the Pokémon to try and catch it. There are countless new modes for new gamers to be interested in, but if you’re like me you just want to get down to the nitty gritty and become a Pokémon legend.

So with all of these new features, is this game a game that the older generation of Pokémon lovers can play? I would say so, I don’t particularly care for the new features and hardly any of them will I use. But Pokémon is Pokémon and the gameplay has stayed the same, it still shares the same ideals as in the past, and it still makes me reminisce about when I was barely able to cook my own dinner.

Is it worth £30? Of course it is, haven’t you been reading? Whilst this game is great, there are still things that could be changed. For instance I don’t want to waste 30 minutes having some new professor (Prof Juniper BTW) telling me what a Pokédex is. I know what it is I used to own one remember. Maybe some sort of quick start mode would be a great addition for those who have played Pokémon before.

And if I were to poké (get it) holes in to the game it’s that they have changed it. Apparently the old adage don’t fix what isn’t broken doesn’t make sense to Nintendo, but the changes don’t actually make a massive change to the gameplay.

Other issues include that Nintendo’s demographic is younger children. (Although I spent most of last year playing Pokémon Heart Gold) That and the fact that you really need to spend a lot of time to get anywhere, especially if you’re trying to train a Pokémon up to level 100. Of course that is an issue with most games these days, and those that like Final Fantasy know that levelling up will take time.

Other than that this game ticks all of the boxes whether you’re new to Pokémon or not there’s plenty for all ages to enjoy and I think I probably will.

So to summarise, Pokémon Black is great for adults and kids alike, whether your 30, 13 or 3 (Well 3 maybe pushing it a little) But in either case it’s an easy game to just pick up and play when  you have five minutes. The gameplay hasn’t changed, the graphics have gotten better, and whether you used to play this when you were younger or your new to Pokémon this game has it all.

Score: 8/10

Review rushed through by: parkergordon

Buy Pokémon Black Version (Nintendo DS) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Pokémon White Version (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