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Showing posts from April, 2011

WWE All Stars - Review

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This review can also be found at criticalgamer, where you will find an abundance of video game news, reviews, previews and articles. WWE All Stars attempts something a bit different with the wrestling genre and the WWE license. An arcade style brawler, it pits a roster of past stars against some of today’s finest and simplifies the more realistic move-sets of games like Smackdown vs. Raw. Concerns such as body proportions and gravity have been discarded, resulting in impossibly beefed-up wrestlers leaping ten feet in the air and tossing each other around like rag-dolls.  WWE All Stars is as colourful as its roster of wrestlers, which includes past greats such as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Stone Cold as well as current day stars like John Cena and Randy Orton. There are a handful of unlockable characters and more are promised as DLC. Both sides of the roster are well balanced, with no discernible advantage in choosing the legends over the current pretenders, or vice versa. No m…

Project Café - What Can We Expect?

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The public reveal of Project Café, the current codename for Nintendo’s follow up to the hugely successful Wii, will be here before we know it. Nintendo has confirmed that they will demo their new home console at E3 in June. However, a recent shareholder address revealed that it will not be released during the current fiscal year (April 2012), so don’t go throwing out your balance boards and nunchucks just yet.
Concrete details of Project Café are few and far between, but the information we do have is more than enough to excite an industry and audience unsure of what to expect from the eighth generation, and has raised the question if we are yet ready to finish with the current.
Here are a few of the key issues and questions facing Nintendo in the coming months.
I. Can Nintendo convince the Wii casual crowd to upgrade?
With a vast library of family friendly games, and motion controls that removed the hurdle of the traditional controller, the Wii won the battle for the family living room…

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait – Weekly Recommendations 25/04 – 01/05

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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.
The Last Guardian, one of the most hotly anticipated PS3 exclusive of 2011, has been delayed indefinitely. Intended as a Christmas 2011 release, it has been pushed back into 2012. Whilst the realists amongst us were half expecting this delay, we couldn’t have predicted a hand-in-hand postponement of the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection. The spiritual predecessors of The Last Guardian, the HD collection was due this spring and there is no indication as to how far back it has been pushed.

Fumito Ueda, Team ICO creative director,  has reasoned that the postponement of The Last Guardian is down to provi…

Musing of a Gamer II

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1. Sonic Generations
Here we go again. Is this another opportunity for the SEGA faithful to have their hopes dashed, or is it the next step towards a true return to form following on from the last two solid Sonic titles (4 Episode 1 and Colours)? Only time will tell. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, Generations features a collection of levels from its past, starring both classic and modern Sonic and presented in 2D and 3D. The optimist inside tells me that by returning to its roots SEGA are putting themselves in a great position to recapture former glory and that they haven’t forgotten what made Sonic great in the first place. The pessimist is quick to recall werehogs, bestial relations and Sonic's current and deserved standing as a second class citizen. 
The first gameplay trailer was released this week, which along with the excellent choice of music (Kele - Tenderoni) caused me to become entirely irrational and over-hyped. To calm myself down I quickly read …

Yakuza 4 - Review

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Yakuza 4 can be rather overwhelming, even for the most adventurous of gamers. From the outset you are invited to explore every nook and cranny of Kamurocho - a city filled to the brim with sub-stories, side-missions and mini games which can easily keep you occupied for the best part of 100 hours. It is a distinctive game, one that will delight the converted but fail to win-over critics of the series thus far.

Picking up the story one year after the events of Yakuza 3, we return to Kamurocho, Tokyo for the vast majority of the game. Kazuma Kiryu, reformed Yakuza and hero to many is back to cracking skulls and protecting his kin, only this time he is joined by three other playable protagonists. In a series that has stuck religiously to formula this ranks as quite the change, and it is one for the better.
Shun Akiyama is the well-meaning loan shark and man about town who, despite not being Yakuza, has plenty of dealings with the mafia. Taiga Saejima is the imposing gangster who is serving…

NBA Playoffs - Weekly Recommendations 18/04 – 24/04

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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.
The NBA Playoffs are upon us and it promises to be an exciting two months of high calibre basketball, even if my beloved Phoenix Suns will not be participating. There are no shortage of interesting sub-stories, with a collection of up-starts and stalwarts and several legitimate contenders, making it unusually difficult to predict who will end up on top. That won’t stop me from trying though; LA over OKC in the West and Heat over Bulls in the East, then Lakers in 6 for the Championship.
The NBA and basketball in general are well represented in video games. From straight-up simulations (NBA Live, 2K series), arca…

Video Game Industry Trash Talk

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"Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those."
Those are the words of Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton, speaking to CNN last week. As well as laying into Nintendo he also took some calculated shots at Microsoft, which caused a bit of a stir. Such trash talk and bravado is common place in the video game industry, as it seems that not a week goes by without someone opening their mouth and releasing some verbal gold. With some vigorous Googling and the use of a number of website resources (1UP, Edge magazine, Gamesradar, Wikipedia, IGN, Kotaku and gamesindustry.biz) I have gathered together some of my favourite gaming barbs. They are a mix of blistering attacks - some misguided others spot-on - as well as some quality unintentional comedy.

1. Which team are you on? "I really didn&#…

Burnout! - Weekly Recommendations 11/04 – 17/04

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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 would appear that a new Burnout game is in the works. Early last week the Australian Classification Board’s website revealed that a Burnout Crash is under development in the UK – home of series creator Criterion Games.
Due to its name, it is widely speculated that it will see a return to the crash-based gameplay of earlier Burnouts – requiring the player to cause a high speed pile-up whilst attempting to cause as much monetary damage as possible. It has also been suggested that it could be a downloadable title, intended for PSN and XBLA. Criterion has neither confirmed nor denied the rumours.
I have zero inte…

Video Game Missed Opportunities

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A collection of some prominent video game missed opportunities.


Middle Earth & Video Games
You don’t have to look very far to see J.R.R Tolkien’s influence in video games, as fantasy RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age proudly display their debt to Middle Earth. Yet competent video game adaptations of Tolkien’s works, in particular The Lord of the Rings, are few and far between
The Lord of the Rings offers developers a well-established universe and a huge fan-base, so it is quite surprising that so little has been done with so much. Time and time again disappointing efforts have left gamers unsatisfied and increasingly wary of future attempts. EA have done little of note with the license, including their unimaginative movie tie-ins, and Warner’s recent Aragorn’s Quest failed to wow the critics. Snowblind is the latest studio to have a crack at it, with a more mature and violent approach in the forthcoming War in the North, though you will have to excuse me if I don’t hold …

A Day in the Life of Kazuma Kiryu (Yakuza series)

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I was a late comer to the Yakuza series, missing the first two entries entirely and playing Yakuza 3 for the first time earlier this year. Suitably impressed, I picked up Yakuza 4 soon after release and have been enjoying it ever since. Although it differs from the rest of the series by offering a playable ensemble cast, Kazuma Kiryu is still unquestionably the star of the show – the barometer by which all his peers are measured.
There is never a dull moment for Kazuma. He is a kind-hearted soul who dedicates his life to running an orphanage, but also an ex-gangster who is all too easily drawn back into the world of crime and violence he claims to have left behind. He has much in common with Red Dead Redemption’s protagonist John Marston – an ex-outlaw who walks away from his life of crime, yet is unable to fully extricate himself from it.
Much like I did for John Marston last year, here is a tongue-in-cheek entry from the diary of everyone’s favourite stoic Yakuza, the Dragon of Dojima…