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Showing posts from February, 2011

Killzone 3 & First-Person Shooters – Weekly Recommendations 28/02 – 06/03

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Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own.Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
Last week saw the release of another entry in the Killzone series, Sony's much ballyhooed first-person shooter. This best-selling franchise has never been short on hype and despite being consistently very good, has always fallen short of being great, not quite making good on its substantial promise. Killzone 3 has been met with positive reviews, but by all accounts has once again not quite lived up to its significant hype.
It's easy to appreciate why Sony pour so much money into the series, being that the FPS genre is as lucrative as it has ever been, and having provided a number of killer apps, console …

Shenmue - Better Late Than Never?

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"Matt-san."
"Matt-san" came the voice again. I ignored it, aware that I was dreaming.
"Do you kNow where... icanfind any sailors?" It was a broken American accent with no concept of where to pause or place emphasis.
"Ryo, is that you?" I replied, now conscious of being sat on a fork-lift truck, solitary, floating in darkness.
"Why have you forsaken me, Matt-san?" asked the bodiless voice
"I’m sorry" I pleaded. "I intended on playing lots of Dreamcast games when I bought the console last year, but lots of other things came up". Images of Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood flashed before my eyes.
"You must help me avenge my Father'" came his stern retort.
"Sailors" he whispered, to no one in particular.
Before I had the chance to reply, he was gone. And I was awake, imbued with a new sense of purpose. I would hook up my Dreamcast and finally start Shenmue.

**…

The Day The Music Died – Weekly Recommendations 21/02 – 27/02

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Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own.Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
In one fell swoop, Activison Blizzard recently did away with their rhythm game portfolio, axing the Guitar Hero franchise and cutting FreeStyleGames, the studio behind the DJ Hero series. It was a drastic, if not entirely unexpected move, as the last few years have seen the rhythm genre fall from grace and severely underperform at retail.
Despite being well received by the press, games like DJ Hero 2 have not sold well, with consumers apparently losing interest and becoming increasingly reluctant to shell out on the expensive peripherals that were once the toast of the industry. You only need visit your local e…

Striking a Balance - Video Game Difficulty

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Take a glance at any video game message board and you will see a plethora of topics along the lines of “xxx is too difficult” or “Why is xxx so easy?”. Video games walk a fine line when it comes to difficulty levels, something which I touched upon in a recent set of Weekly Recommendations . Make a game too easy and gamers may shun it, yet make it too challenging and you risk alienating the casual gamers, who make up a large portion of the market.

One argument that has been flogged to death is that older games are much more challenging than those of today. Of course, this is a massively sweeping statement, but one that many gamers hold true. I have no intention of discussing the validity of that argument here, but I think the most interesting aspect of such a discussion is the implicit suggestion that more difficult equals better.

To consider this argument, one must look at the different types of difficulty. For example, some games are difficult in a way that make them challenging, a…

Love is in the Air - Weekly Recommendations 14/02 - 20/02

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Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own.Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.

It's that time of the year when we express our fondness and appreciation for the special person in our life, no matter how cold and unloving we may be for the other 364 days a year. The gaudy Valentines cards and trinket shop tat will soon find its way into the dustbin, but the gesture will not be so quickly forgotten.

For all their charms, video games are not the most romantic of medium. Yet love is a central theme in many, and there is no shortage of touching and unusual romances to be found in our favourite games.

So here are three recommendations with romance, no matter how unconventional, at their cor…

NBA Live '97 - A Gaming Memory

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NBA Live '97 may appear an unusual subject choice for a blog post, but it has provided me with as much entertainment as any game before or since. I had owned and thoroughly enjoyed a Master System and Mega Drive years before the arrival of NBA Live '97, but this was the first title that inspired extended gaming sessions and sewed the seeds of what would become, in later years, a passion for video games.
I first bought this particular installment of NBA Live on the SEGA Saturn back in 1997, from my local HMV. The release date was constantly being postponed and I had all but given up on having the opportunity to play it on my beloved Saturn. I remember calling game shops every week to confirm when exactly it was coming, but they were as ill-informed as I. Then one day, when perusing the shelves of my local HMV, there was Mitch Richmond, the cover star, staring back at me. I almost lost control of my bowels. Even the £44.99 tag didn’t dampen my spirits; a ludicrously high price i…

Dark Souls & Difficult Games - Weekly Recommendations 07/02 – 13/02

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Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own.Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
As anyone who has ever hurled a controller across their living room knows, some games are harder than others. Demon’s Souls is a perfect example, a modern classic that tests the abilities and patience of those brave enough to venture into its dark world of knights and demons. Last week, From Software gave Demon’s Souls spiritual successor a name - Dark Souls – and provided a first look at what promises to be another excellent and frustrating adventure, due before the end of the year on the PS3 and 360.

When it comes to degrees of difficulty, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. Some of us enjoy a challeng…

Where next for Assassin’s Creed?

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Assassin’s Creed has been entertaining us since 2007 with its unique take on history. Chronicling an age-old struggle between a brotherhood of Assassins and the powerful Templars, it tells of mortal enemies who fight and die for control of mysterious and powerful artefacts, known as Pieces of Eden. We have been transported from the Middle East of the Third Crusades to Renaissance Italy by a potent mix of historical fact and nonsense, featuring real life figures such as Richard the Lionheart, Leonardo Da Vinci and Rodriguo Borgia co-existing comfortably with fictional assassins, jumping back and forth between the past and (almost) present day.
Three entries deep on home consoles, and bolstered by a number of portable tie-ins, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, one of my favourite games of 2010, left the series at an interesting juncture, hinting at a shift in focus from the escapades of long deceased assassins to our contemporary, Desmond. I must admit that I don’t particularly care for Desm…

Sony's NGP Reveal - Weekly Recommendations 31/01 – 06/02

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Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own.Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
From what we saw last week, The NGP (New Generation Portable), the successor to the PSP, is far more impressive than its unimaginative, and hopefully temporary, name would suggest.
At its Tokyo event last week, Sony finally presented their new portable to the press. Larger than its predecessors, it boasts a high resolution, touch sensitive screen, dual analogue sticks, tilt controls and a touch sensitive back panel. As expected, Sony has done away with the UMD format and will use a new digital storage device. WiFi is built in, and some models will include 3G connectivity.
Sony has claimed that the NGP is as power…