Showing posts from November, 2011

Musings of a Gamer X

1. Counting Colossi
I'll keep this short, as I hope to write about Shadow of the Colossus in far more detail next month, but suffice to say I have been blown away by this PS2 re-master, in spite of the same impossibly high expectations that sunk my experience with ICO. It is stunning, from the towering Colossi to the remarkable HD transfer that frames one of the most desolate yet memorable world maps I’ve ever seen. It takes all the best bits of ICO (atmosphere, sound and setting) whilst doing away with all its less enviable traits, with the exception of the camera which is still a bit shit. I'm up to the fourteenth colossus and, although I feel certain of what the end will bring, I can't wait to see it through to its conclusion.
2. PS VITA and the UMD
A lot of people seem to be getting their knickers in a twist about Sony's abandoning of UMD media for the forthcoming Vita, and their initiative to give consumers the option to transfer their PSP games from physical copies …

Awaiting Adaptation

These last six weeks, I have been enthralled by HBO's Game of Thrones. A TV adaptation of the first book in George R. R. Martin's Fire & Ice fantasy series, it is essential viewing for anyone who likes their drama bleak, bloody and full of compelling characters. I have been watching weekly repeats of the first series and seem to be nearing the end of what has quickly become my favourite show on TV.

The production values are extremely high, and in its scope and ambition it reminds me of the short-lived, but equally brilliant Rome. Sean Bean is perfectly cast as the unwilling protagonist Lord Stark, and there are some great turns in the supporting roles. The visceral nature of the show - you rarely go more than ten minutes without spying guts or muff - is never to the detriment of the layered narrative that succeeds in being in three, or sometimes more, places at once. I can't wait for the second series in 2012, and yesterday I took advantage of Amazon's Black Frida…

Doing it the Hard Way

In the last two weeks I have completed both Uncharted 3 and Modern Warfare 3 on their highest difficulty settings. I didn't do it for the praise, though do feel free to applaud me, but because playing them on Crushing/Veteran is actually rather good fun. This is something that I have done for every Uncharted and each entry in the Call of Duty series since MW1 (CoD 4), and will continue to do so until it no longer entertains or my motor functions betray me.

Completing these games on a higher setting offers a sense of personal achievement, as well as a badge of honour by way of the shiny trophies that flash each time I do something worthy, letting everyone know that I am not a man to be trifled with. For the most part, Uncharted 3 and MW3 do not allow the ramped-up difficulty to lessen the core experience and do not fall back on frustrating and cheap methods of punishing the player. Instead, they demand that you think and act slightly differently than in a normal playthrough, and th…

An Evening in the Life of a MW3 Gamer

I am currently in the midst of my annual FPS pilgrimage to the world of Death Match, by way of Call of Duty. I have finished and thoroughly enjoyed Modern Warfare 3’s ridiculous single player and have now turned my attention to the ever-addictive multiplayer. I’ll keep plugging away at it for the next couple of weeks, until I eventually lose interest and move onto something else (Skyrim?). But for now, I’m in deep and struggling to tear myself away from the on-screen carnage.

As I have done in the past with John Marston, Kazuma Kiryu and a Helghast grunt, I thought I’d compile a Day in the Life of… diary for MW3, only this time with a bit of a twist. Instead of coming from the perspective of a fictional character, this one is all about me as I embark upon on a (slightly) exaggerated evening of mindless fragging.

10.00 pm - Right, tonight I am definitely playing the last hour of ICO. I shall put it off no longer.

10.02 pm - At the Modern Warfare 3 main menu.

10.04 pm - I'll start off …

Xbox at Ten

The Xbox is ten years old. I have no history or sentimental attachment to this particular collection of wires and plastic, but you don’t have to have been an Xbox gamer to appreciate its profound influence on the industry and how we play games today.

Back in 2001/2, I was quite content with my PlayStation 2 and paid little attention to the competition. As far as I was concerned, the Xbox was an unsightly block of black and neon that only Americans were interested in. Microsoft was the name I saw each time my outdated PC wheezed into action and was certainly not a company I equated with fun. Halo was a silly game about a man in a motorcycle helmet lollygagging in space, and why on earth would I need online multiplayer when I already had a multi-tap and more controllers than I had use for. The Xbox was entirely superfluous and I had no intention of making space for it under my TV.

The Xbox didn't hang around for too long, as by 2005 Microsoft were eager to get a head-start on the …

Give it a Rest

God of War I and II were brilliant games and two of my favourites on the PlayStation 2. Like most PS gamers, I was disappointed that it took three years for the series to debut on the PS3. It was a puzzling delay, as at the time the PS3 was in desperate need of the excitement and mass appeal that this exclusive franchise would bring, as it found itself lagging far behind the competition.
When God of War III finally arrived in March 2010, I was a little underwhelmed. It was certainly a very entertaining game and brought the trilogy to a satisfying end, but it did feel a little too familiar. It attempted almost nothing that its predecessors hadn't already nailed in the previous generation, merely applying a new lick of paint. Viewed alone, GoW 3 is very repetitious, and when held alongside the first two entries it feels rather stale. I was still able to enjoy it, as there was a lot to like, but as I said at the time (see my God of War III Review) I felt that I would lose interest e…

Musings of a Gamer IX

1. Seeing Out 2011

I currently have my hands full with Modern Warfare 3 and Uncharted 3, which between them should fulfill all my multiplayer needs well into the new year. I also picked up a copy of Deus Ex Human Revolution for a price that I couldn't resist - new for £11 - and am far more excited to play it than I thought I would be. With three consecutive weeks of new purchases behind me (Arkham City - Uncharted 3 - MW3) it is probably time to give it a rest. As much as I would like to keep spending, I'm hoping to limit myself to just one more new game before Christmas. Skyrim and Assassin's Creed Revelations are the candidates, but I am undecided as to which I will plump for come December. I'll most likely pick up the other in January, that is if I haven't already caved and bought them both.

Like the man-child that I am, I will be answering "video games" when my wife and family ask if there is anything i'd like for Christmas, in the hope that I'…

The Unfortunate Life of a Video Game Animal


Monday Spotlight - The PlayStation Portable

In 1990 SEGA released a high-spec portable, the Game Gear, in hopes of out-doing the wildly popular Game Boy. It was a Master System in the palm of your hand, featuring full colour output, a backlit screen and impressive visuals. Technologically, it was light years ahead of the Game Boy, yet it failed to challenge Nintendo’s dominance as it was beaten on price, quantity and quality. The Game Gear disappeared for good in early 1997 with plans for a touchscreen enabled successor falling by the wayside.
Fourteen years on from the Game Gear’s launch, and a decade removed from the Game Boy's last serious competition, another major console manufacturer prepared to do battle with Nintendo by way of a technologically superior and more expensive portable. Sony looked to claim its own significant share of the market with the PlayStation Portable and beat Nintendo and the DS at its own game. Although it may have shed the Game Boy brand, the DS would benefit from customer loyalty and familia…

A Moment of Brilliance

The following post concerns a cut-scene early on in Uncharted 3, containing character names and plot details from the opening third.
Messrs Drake, Sullivan and Cutter, joined by the delightful Chloe, are gathered around a table in a small loft apartment somewhere in London town. They are poring over a map and notebook, trying to decipher ancient riddles and find their way to a hidden city of riches – an Atlantis of the sands.

Their rough and ready appearance belies their intellect, with each dropping historical names without the need for explanation. Conversation moves from TE Lawrence to Queen Elizabeth and her court, including Nate’s presumed ancestor Sir Francis Drake and the mysterious occultist John Dee. However, the conversation slows at the mention of Dee, as Sully pleads ignorance and Cutter, a man who has already drawn groans for his referencing 007 and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia at inopportune moments, revels in bringing him up to speed. Sully shoots a pained glance in …

Failing to Contain my Excitement

*This post is spoiler free*
I went to bed Sunday night convinced that I would not be receiving my copy of Uncharted 3 in time for the UK launch on the 2nd November. My pre-order had still not been despatched and I had consigned myself to another two or three evenings of Arkham City Challenge Maps; not a bad substitute, but still not quite Drake. However, my prospects of having a copy in hand come 02/11 drastically improved when, early Monday morning, I checked my emails to find a despatch notification for Uncharted 3.

My fortunes continued to improve when later that morning I received a text from my wife regarding a welcome arrival. Uncharted 3 had been delivered - my wife was all too aware of how excited I was and understood that I must be informed of its arrival at any cost - and a full two days before its official release. Ways of shutting the office and getting home early occupied my mind for the rest of the day, but I manged to temper my excitement and remain at my desk until 5pm…

The Horrors of Gaming

Frightening horror games are few and far between. The Resident Evil series, despite its moniker of “survival horror”, has never been particularly scary, and as uncomfortable as Dead Space is to play, the overwhelming sense it conveys is desperation, not terror. Unlike film, the medium to which it is so often compared, you always have some measure of control over your character’s fate in a video game. This power takes away from the feeling of helplessness that comes with a good horror movie, where you are left to watch the victim’s messy demise, powerless to intervene. In most horror games, a trusty shotgun or the option to restart offers comfort in even the darkest of corridors.

However, there are still plenty of things that frighten me about gaming. From the freaks that inhabit the towns of Professor Layton to the frightful design of the 3DS twin-stick attachment, video games can make you hide behind the sofa and soil yourself. So on this All Hallow’s Eve, allow me to present the dark…