Posts Tagged ‘x-box 360’

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

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Details are sketchy at best but Forza 4 is looking like it will go at the very top of my Christmas must have list. The game builds on the success of the Forza Motorsport franchise and reportedly adds lots more cars, lots more courses and appeals to hard-core drivers as well as the more casual gamer. But one has to ask the question if it isn’t broke, why are you trying to fix it?

Yes there were a few annoyances in Forza 3, but these small ‘annoyances’ were just that small. I mean honestly I didn’t hear many people complaining about the game, what I did hear were a lot of Sony fans complaining that GT5 had still not been released.  So if they are going to increase its popularity or release a ‘polished’ version of Forza they were going to have to pull something out of the bag.

Forza Motorsport 4 Cover Art

The cover car Ferrari 458 Italia is a slight change from the usual

As I said earlier, details are very sketchy, but a leaked internal only video has been on YouTube for us to all look at and analyse as much as possible. Firstly, it looks as though Microsoft are trying to entice those casual ‘Sunday drivers’ with the Kinect system. Basically it allows those who maybe don’t like to use the controller to control the car using just your hands (Ideal if your 12). That’s not all you can do with the Kinect though, this time you can actually look around the car, or even get in the car and look at the superb details that you’re obviously going to be noticing when you’re speeding through the desert doing 200MPH. Also when using the Kinect system and driving you can view your side mirrors to see who is behind you or to your right, useful, but really not going to appeal to the hard-core gamer.

So, if you are a hard-core gamer, what’s in it for you, well……. Not a lot. You can now play online with up to 16 mates in an all new online racing system, perfect so long as no-one hacks X-Box Live. More than 80 manufacturers are also going to be available in-game for you to tune and hone to your hearts content. There also appears to be more fully featured F1 support, although this may get overlooked as an addition that is not necessary, especially regarding the new-found love for the increasingly popular F1 yearly series of games. Other improvements are a supposedly new career mode, active aero on specific cars, and the exhaust pops when you decelerate quickly – amazing improvements!

Another noticeable addition is that of the Top Gear team, who along with aiding Microsoft in their development of the game have also seemingly given the rights to reproduce the Top Gear Test Track (Good Microsoft copy something else from Sony) and the Transfagarasan Road in Romania that was featured in the show.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

Okay admittedly that looks impressive - The game is due for release in Autumn of this year

However, all in all I don’t see any major upgrades for the hard-core driver/gamer. I loved Forza 3 because it had ground breaking graphics and was as good a driving simulator as you could get for the 360. And whilst I will be buying it (I love my racing games) it will only be bought because Forza 3 is getting old and I have practically finished Gran Turismo 5. But at first glance (Which is what this is) I am fairly un-impressed.

Check back after E3 when hopefully more details will come to light and hopefully I will have changed my mind. For those of you who want to see the leaked trailer it is available via this YouTube link. Remember, its low res and Microsoft have stated that ‘The video in question was not intended for public distribution and may not accurately reflect features and functionality that ship in Forza Motorsport 4.’

The game will be available late 2011 (In time for Chrimbo)

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

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