Archive for the ‘Arcade’ Category

(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

Like many children of the 80’s I loved Ghostbusters and vaguely recall running around the playground at school with my backpack on pretending I was in fact Dr. Egon Spengler (Because of the glasses). So with memories of those days in my head I turned on the new Ghostbusters PSN downloadable arcade game Sanctum of Slime.

The first thing to remember and this is something I had to remind myself over and over again is that this is an arcade game. Graphics weren’t going to be awesome, gameplay wasn’t going to be amazing, and there were bound to be things wrong with it.

The first thing to say about this game is that it is a top down shooter, no first person or third person malarkey going on here.  You play as, what can only be described as a tribute act as opposed to the original crew from the movies, which is fine for those who haven’t seen the movies. And basically you have to rid the world of ghost.

Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime Screenshot

Possibly the most impressive part of the game is getting to drive the Ecto-1

Now, my first criticism is that you don’t get to play as the fab four (Not the Beatles) but instead you get to play as their understudies. This immediately made me think that Atari, who produced the game, weren’t going to be able to make this game as enjoyable as all the previous Ghostbusters games before this. The gameplay is rather monotonous and easy, you move with on stick, whilst with the other you aim your weapon. There is also a choice of weapons, there is of course the proton blaster, theirs some weird yellow frequency unity thingy-ma-bob and various other weapons and upgrades as you go along your merry way.

Secondly, the production value looks cheap, and it’s presented in a comic book style fashion, which is great if you’re into the comics, but personally this for me isn’t a selling point, and nor is it the 50’s. People want more than just a bunch of text on the screen, and sadly that is part of this game that is lacking.

Thirdly, the AI is pretty terrible, in the earlier stages they are quite valuable, as they can heal someone quicker than a human can. But in my view, they rarely use the right weapon (Weapons are coded to correspond with the nasties you have to destroy) they always try and heal you when clearly they don’t have the time, and I’m pretty sure, on more than one occasion they got themselves cornered, which meant inevitably they’d die.

Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime

Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime is available now on PS3, X-Box 360 and PC

And lastly, we move on to the multiplayer which is just plain buggy at best, and at worst impossible to play. On the PC you can only play local multiplayer, which is fine if you have loads of mates who have copies of this game and fancy a LAN party, but for those who like playing your games online, you have to purchase a PS3 or a 360. Possibly the worst thing is that you can’t join a game that’s going on, and if you drop out you only have the AI to help you, which after a while, become so useless you just wish that he wasn’t part of your team.

Plus points – you get to drive the Ecto-1 (I haven’t gotten this far, but screenshots from elsewhere prove that you do) and that’s pretty much it. Oh no wait a minute, there is one other plus point, go to the main menu and you will hear Ray Parker Jnrs classic, but I’d rather buy the tune from I-Tunes, because a) It’d be cheaper and b) Less annoying then this game inevitably gets.

Throw into the mix the lousy sound effects, the terrible, unrealistic gameplay (I mean for gods sakes have Atari actually watched the movies, you cannot cross the streams!!) and the unresponsiveness of some of the weapons, and I cannot actually advise anyone to purchase this.

The only reason it’s getting such a high score is because of my love for Ghostbusters.

Score: 6.5 / 10

Review written in the back seat of the Ecto-1 by: parkergordon

Ever wanted to see WWE legends like The Rock, The Ultimate Warrior and Stone cold Steve Austin fight against Triple H, Randy Orton or even Sheamus? Well now you can!

Macho Man and John Cena Image

I'm not too sure about the likeness or that John Cena's muscles are that big but there you have it

You can make your favourite legends fight against the latest wrestlers from the WWE Smackdown and Raw roster in many epic battles. You can play Exhibition mode which is a single match and choose either a basic 1v1 match or maybe you fancy putting your wrestlers in a steel cage match, a fatal 4 way or even an extreme rules match.

There are a wide range of modes and many different wrestling rings for you to play on this game and if you like you can even create your own superstar.

I have played a few of the Smackdown vs. Raw games over the years but i was never a big fan of them but i actually enjoyed playing WWE All Stars. I found All Stars a lot easier to get the hang of, especially with the controls, and i loved the hints that would pop up beside my life bar (hints such as how to get in and out of the ring, how to climb the ropes etc), these are very helpful for beginners such as myself.

I liked the fact that this game is very Arcady – you can just pick it up and play as and when you want, you do not need to sit for hours playing and trying to get into it.

WWE All Stars Cover Art

WWE All Stars for Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, X-Box 360 and Sony PSP

The moves in this game are easy to do but you need to get close enough to the person you are wrestling to be able to pull them off, i also found that sometimes when i would be trying to do a move i would end up doing a completely different one without even knowing how i did it.

The main thing in this game that I’m not a big fan of is the fact that the wrestlers are all very bulky and have a lot of muscles. I know some wrestlers do have quite a few muscles but not as much as there is on them in this game. Most of the wrestlers look wrong because of it. I also felt that the ring entrances were a bit short. It just seemed to last a few seconds as the wrestlers ran to the ring and got into it, so I wasn’t very impressed with that.

If you are still not sure whether this game is for you then you can download the demo free on both Playstation 3 and on Xbox 360 now. In the demo you can only play as either Ray Mysterio or Ultimate Warrior but you still get a good tryout of the game – well enough to decide if you like it or not.

I will recommend this game although i do not believe it is worth the £39.99 price tag. I would say wait a few weeks to get this when the game decreases in price a little bit as the game is good but not brilliant and not worth spending loads of money on.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy WWE All Stars (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy WWE All Stars (Wii) from Amazon.co.uk

After being left quite bored of new releases recently I found myself on the Playstation store looking for things to keep me entertained and that’s when I noticed that once again one of the greatest (If not the greatest) film trilogy of all time is back on our PC monitors and other gaming paraphernalia.

Screenshot of Back to the Future: The Video Game for PC/PS3/I-Pad and Mac

The Infamous DeLorean DMC-12

So a small download later (around 400Mb if playing on PC) and I was playing episode 1. If like me you’re a shrewd investor you will want to download the demo first.

On first play you find yourself with the Doc in an abandoned mall parking lot faced with the awesome DeLorean and Einstein (the dog, not the pot smoking inventor of apples or whatever)ready to travel back in time. Everything looks normal the DeLorean gets up to 88 mph and said dog and car go back in time.

You stand there and you think wow a dog has travelled back in time, but what’s this there’s a problem. Einstein doesn’t return and the Doc goes invisible and BANG it’s a dream you wake up and guess what you’re late. But not for school this time, your late and are meant to be helping your dad sell off all of Docs possessions from his clock shop.

I won’t go into anymore detail of the episode for two reasons 1) I’m only slightly further ahead than this and 2) I imagine some people are already at home saying stop it don’t tell me anymore; so I won’t instead I’ll review the gameplay.

Back to the Future: The Video Game

Back to the Future: The Video Game - Featuring our favourites Marty McFly and The Doc

The graphics look very good, however Marty looks a little like he’s made out of plastic. The camera angles are rather poor and if you don’t like them you can’t change them. The gameplay itself is quite intuitive, but very simple one click stuff, obviously appealing to a different type of gamer than me (Or does it?) If you don’t know/haven’t seen the movies you may be lost with the plot of who they are and why Marty and Biff don’t get along etc. But the biggest and possibly the worst thing about this game (Depending upon if you own a PC, PS3, 360 or Wii) is that it is only available to PC/Mac and PS3 owners. (And I-Pad if you’re going to be pedantic)

But saying all of this I was drawn into the game, and after around 5 minutes (Which is just about what you get in the demo) I was finding myself wanting to play some more, and have downloaded the first episode for the PC, which brings me nicely round to the plus sides of the game.

They have managed to get the actor of Doc (Christopher Lloyd) which adds some authenticity to the game. They (Telltale Games) also have written this game with the co-creator and writer Bob Gale. So as far as authenticity goes you’ve got it all there. (Apart from Michael J. Fox) Other plus sides are that you meet up with old favourites (or not) from the movies such as Biff, the Browns and all the rest of the McFlys and Tannens.

So is this game worth the £15.99 (For five episodes) price tag. Well that is hard to answer, whilst the game is quite fun, it lacks any real longevity. I can’t see you playing this game over and over again, there’s no multiplayer mode and the price might put some people off. (It is for all intents and purposes an arcade game) And not to mention, as I said earlier on, if you haven’t seen the movie it may be hard to get your head around the characters and the concept. This really is a game you have to try before you buy. (Which really sucks ‘cos the demo really is very short)

In closing try and get a mate to buy it, try it on his PS3 and then think whether it’s worth it or not.

Episode one available to download for the PC from http://www.telltalegames.com/bttf. PS3 owners can get it from the PS3 store. X-Box gamers can get it by going to the high street and buying a PS3.

Score: 7/10 (Or 8/10 if you love the Back to the Future movies)

Buy PlayStation Network Card – £20 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

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

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