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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Best & Worst Video Games of 2011

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Here we are at the end of yet another excellent year of gaming. Much like in 2010, (you can find last year’s awards here) a constant stream of games have kept my wallet light and given me plenty to write about in this, my first full year at blogspot.
2011 was a great year to be a gamer, as it offered one of the deepest collections of games in recent memory, spread across a wide range of genres. A handful of titles managed to stand out from the crowd, though I do think that 2011 lacked a truly great game. For all the excellence that was on offer, I’m not sure that there has been any one title that I’ll be getting all nostalgic about come the end of this generation. Still, the overall level of quality has been astounding.
I played a wide range of games this year, mostly on my PS3, though my 360, Wii and portables all got a look-in. Here are the current gen releases that have graced my consoles over the last twelve months.
PLAYED:Angry Birds, Batman Arkham City, Battlefield Bad Company 2, B…

Gaming at Christmas

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Video games are as much a part of Christmas as loosened belts, mince pies and family brawls over a round of Trivial Pursuit. They have long been an integral part of present wish-lists and just thinking about the games of Christmas past puts me in the most festive of moods. These games have rarely been Christmas themed - Christmas NIGHTS is the only worthwhile xmas game - but they will forever be linked to this time of year by association and my desire for nostalgia.

My very first console came at Christmas, back in the early nineties. The Mega Drive was for the older boys and was a bit too expensive, but I was happy to settle for a Master System II bundled with Sonic the Hedgehog, a black carry case that I quickly filled with plastic guns and turned into my special agent briefcase, and a built-in copy of Alex Kidd in Miracle World. To this day, I can still remember settling down to my first session of Sonic and stumbling upon a chaos emerald nestled behind a false wall.
The Mega Drive…

2011 - Missing Games

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It is inevitable that each year a handful of games will get lost in the shuffle. Some of them will find their way into my shopping basket only to be sent straight to my backlog pile upon being purchased, momentarily put on hold but guaranteed an eventual play. This year's collection includes Assassin's Creed Revelations, Deus Ex Human Revolution and Red Faction Armageddon, which will soon be bolstered by Sonic Generations, Dark Souls and Saints Row the Third thanks to the bringer of games, St Nicholas.

Other titles are not quite as fortunate, left unclaimed in Amazon baskets and unlikely to ever get a chance to impress. Come the traditionally quiet periods (late winter/early spring and mid-summer), and depending on price and what else I have lined up, I may finally buy them. If not, they will fade from memory as they fall off the bottom of hastily scribbled wish-lists, destined to be missed entirely.

2011 has seen a number of games pass me by that, money and time permitting,…

2011 - Wishes Unfulfilled

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It’s that time of year where we all start casting a critical eye over the last twelve months – I’ll be posting my best and worst of 2011 sometime next week – as well as looking forward to what's in store for 2012. Whilst looking for some inspiration for my end of year extravaganza, I had a gander at my blogs from this time last year and stumbled upon a post all about my gaming wishes for 2011, which I thought I’d revisit to see how they turned out.

Overall I didn’t fare particularly well, though I can’t really complain about one of the deepest years in recent gaming history, though not necessarily the best (2009 for the win). Anyway, without further ado, here is the outcome of my gaming wishes for 2011.


"The PSP2 builds upon the success and failures of the PSP"
Obviously it’s a bit early to be making judgements, as the VITA has only been available for three days in Japan and is still two months away in the West, but we do already know plenty about what this portable does …

Musings of a Gamer XI

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1. Video Game Awards
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance aside, there were a number of other interesting developments at this year's VGAs, the most enticing of which was The Last of Us. The pre-show cryptic teasers only revealed zombies (insert snarky comment) and a post-apocalyptic setting (insert something witty and derogatory); not exactly the most innovative or stimulating of combinations, as its existence had already slipped my mind come the VGA weekend.
Although I am still concerned about the unimaginative setting, I was intrigued by the trailer and very pleased to see that this will be a Naughty Dog game. I had been hoping that ND would shift their significant talents to a new IP and save their next instalment of Uncharted for the next generation, which is now looking like a strong possibility. I am also rather impressed that they managed to keep this game so tightly under wraps, and if anyone can make zombie survival interesting again, then it’s Naughty Dog.
There was also a shiny…

Revengeance is Not a Word

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Raiden has always been a controversial character. His debut performance in Metal Gear Solid 2 was at the expense of a protagonist, Solid Snake, who was well loved by gamers. With his flowing, golden locks, androgynous appearance and a sneaking suit that hugged his buttocks far too tightly, Raiden was the antithesis of the chain smoking, rugged and gravel voiced hero that we were pining for. Hideo Kojima teased us with the tanker prelude where Snake took centre stage, only to whisk him away and relegate him to background character for the majority of the game.
Reaction to Raiden's surprise inclusion was overwhelmingly negative, and alongside a narrative that was at times incomprehensible he helped sour many on what was still an excellent game. Even Kojima Productions couldn't pass up the opportunity to mock Raiden, parodying him in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with Raikov, a Russian major, to whom he bore a strong resemblance and who happened to be Colonel Volgin's secr…

A Need for Mead - My First Week in Skyrim

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My first week with Skyrim was certainly an eventful one. I have been on all manner of adventures, both virtual and real, since first attempting to generate a Sean Bean/Eddard Stark doppelganger at the character select screen. Stark and I have been caught up in all sorts of mischief from murdering wealthy wedding guests to transforming into a werewolf (in-game),  taking in sights both beautiful - aurora lights viewed from the peak of a snowy mountain - and bizarre - a drinking party sat on invisible seats and a breakdancing corpse.
Despite being aware of the problems that plague the PS3 version, I still plumped for a Sony copy and so far have avoided the glitches and debilitating slowdown that have ruined the experience for some gamers. As is now common knowledge, PlayStation is my console of choice for multi-platform titles and I therefore decided against the 360 version, despite it being the safer choice. Windows was never an option, as the mere suggestion of Skyrim would have probabl…

A Strange Partnership

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Obsidian Entertainment, the team behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas are to develop an RPG based on the long running TV show, South Park. The creators of the hit series, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, approached Obsidian directly, confident that they would be able to create a game that remains faithful to the source material whilst allowing the pair to remain hands-on throughout.

I can't say this news particularly excites me, as I haven't watched South Park for the best part of a decade and I prefer my games to be without debilitating glitches, but the announcement did catch my attention as Obsidian seem like an odd choice for a South Park game, being that they are best known for sprawling and detailed RPGs. From what I can gather, this is the exact reason why they were chosen for a game that will attempt to make us forget all about earlier cash-ins based on the show, most of which were of questionable worth.
Obsidian's take on the foul mo…

Wrestling with Giants

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - Review

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Call of Duty is a peculiar series. Each year it shifts millions of copies and is greeted with near unanimous critical praise, yet it also attracts a special kind of hatred from a vocal segment of the gaming community that consider it a microcosm of everything that is wrong with modern gaming.  If Call of Duty is to be an acquired taste, then with Modern Warfare 3 it's one that is more refined than ever.
The single player campaign is exactly what we have come to expect from Modern Warfare: a relatively short rollercoaster ride, punctuated by memorable set pieces. The narrative doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original Modern Warfare, but it succeeds in telling an engaging story which revisits familiar characters like Captain Price, Soap and villain extraordinaire Makarov. It’s fun controlling these violent men, but war is never glorified in this dark tale that focusses on a bleak near-future, where life is cheap and atrocities par for the course.
There is a lot of jumping aroun…