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Showing posts from February, 2012

The True Face of Mass Effect

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Mass Effect 3 arrives in Europe on 9th March. With it comes a personal dilemma of intergalactic proportions: to play the closing chapter of the trilogy on the PS3 or the 360. I bought a replacement 360 two years ago for the sole purpose of playing Mass Effect 2 and I bloody loved every last minute of it. Although it went multi-platform shortly after, I don't regret my purchase as it allowed me to play my favourite game of 2010 (tied with Red Dead Redemption) at a time when I most needed an RPG in which to lose myself and un-wind of an evening, having just moved back to the UK, desperately searching for a job in a shit economy, looking for a property to rent and also trying to organize wedding.

I have just over a week and a half to decide whether to continue with the ME experience on the 360 or transfer this space epic to the PS3 - my console of choice for multiplatform releases. If I stay with the 360 then I ensure continuity and can expect a range of easter eggs. However, by st…

PS Vita Impressions

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I wasted far too much time on Tuesday logging in and out of Amazon, hoping for updates on my yet to be dispatched PS Vita. I was getting rather wound-up by ever changing delivery estimates, which at one point had me missing the launch entirely. I had all but given up when, just before sitting down to dinner, my Vita and games were dispatched on a journey across the breadth of England.
As promised, Wednesday morning brought a Vita and two separate deliveries of games, all of which arrived within a pant-wettingly exciting ten minute span. I was so excited that I would have kissed the couriers if they weren’t so damned unattractive. Since taking delivery of the artist formally known as the NGP, I have spent much of my free time fiddling with the hardware, features and games, going to bed the last two nights with Lumines induced headaches. Overall, I have been very impressed.
Once I had un-wrapped the new arrivals and gotten over my bout of courier passion, I proceeded to do what is expecte…

Falling by the Wayside

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I prefer my games shiny and new. Once I’ve got my hands on the latest console I begin to snub its predecessor and associated software, only renewing my interest once it has become suitably retro or HD’d up. My PS Vita arrived this morning and I have already locked away my PSP and fed my UMD library to a gaggle of greedy geese. Crisis Core who?

In the fast moving world of gaming hardware – by the end of 2012 we will have had three brand new systems in the space of 20 months – there will always be older games that fall by the wayside, made redundant by the coming of a new generation as my interest is re-directed to the latest, prettiest releases.  With a constant stream of quality new games there just isn’t enough time to experience everything I’d like. Even when newer systems offer backward compatibility, the odds are still stacked against older titles unless they are given a new lick of paint (see ICO & SOTC) or are an old favourite that I’m revisiting for a nostalgia fix (Final…

Cover Star

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I have followed Binary Domain closely since first being impressed by a demo and extended trailer at Tokyo Game Show 2011. My take-away-gift, Binary Domain biro has sat at the base of my PC monitor ever since, serving as a constant reminder of the imminent arrival of Toshihiro Nagoshi’s latest and my love of themed pens. Subsequent trailers and a re-run of the TGS demo on PSN and Live have further fuelled my desire to play BD. Unfortunately, my excitement has been tempered by one of the worst front covers in recent memory.
Never in a million years would the uninitiated pick up a copy in a bricks and mortar store and think to themselves: “This looks like a quality game. I’ll buy it!” The cover art gives the distinct impression of bargain bin fodder, even if the game inside still looks very promising.
When it comes to atrocious cover art, Binary Domain need not stand alone. A quick search through my collection and a spot of Googling turned up the following blots on the gaming landscape.

1. …

Nary a Space Marine in Sight

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"This city needs more giraffes". I have lost count of the number of times that I've thought that to myself whilst walking the streets of Tokyo. With the exception of the giant crows that prey upon rubbish bags and bleary eyed clubbers, central Tokyo isn't exactly teeming with animal life. The closest I got to Tokyo nature was the day I discovered that cockroaches can fly, as one specimen the size of a hatch-back flew into my face as I attempted to study it at close quarters. For all its charms, central Tokyo is the most un-natural of places, or at least that’s how it felt to this country boy, raised by wolves in the English wilderness.
It would seem that Sony C.A.M.P and Crispy's share my concern for this lack of wildlife, having seen fit to re-populate the city with all manner of animal life. Tokyo Jungle is a forthcoming PS3 exclusive, set in a near future Tokyo, purged of human life and re-populated with wild animals. From domestic creatures to more exotic zo…

Musings of a Gamer XIV

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1. Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing 2

Sonic and Sega All Star Racing was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of 2010. It was easy to jump into and rewarded continued play with a bevy of unlockables. Many of the characters and levels harkened back to SEGA's glory days – the racers ranged from Sonic to Ryo Suzuki and tracks from House of the Dead to Jet Set Radio - providing extra impetus to keep playing and access everything on offer. The single player was deep and varied and it also boasted a robust multiplayer that rounded out an excellent package.

I’m happy to hear that Sega's karter will be getting a sequel, most likely later this year. Being a hopeless devotee to all things Sega, upon hearing this news I immediately started day dreaming about the characters I'd love to see on the roster. Kazuma Kiryu would be great, decked out in his best eighties suit and visiting super violence upon Alex Kidd's massive face and setting fire to Sonic's eyebrows. S…

Licensed for Sound

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When I think back to my days playing Grand Theft Auto IV, one aspect of that game stands out above all else: the soundtrack. As much fun as I had orchestrating drunken drive-bys, getting curb side blow jobs in a convertible (with the top down) and firing off conveniently placed stunt ramps, these activities just wouldn't have been the same without the accompaniment of licensed tracks. Spread across a range of genre spanning radio stations, there was something for everyone in GTA IV. The music brought character to Liberty City and infused the polygon streets with life; it was the pulse of a city that was never more alive than when the radio was on.
It didn’t take me long to settle upon some favourite tunes and stations, and to this day I can't hear Kanye West's "Flashing Lights", Ne-Yo's "Because of You" or Alexander O'Neal's "Criticize" without being transported back to Liberty City. Drug deals, murder and extortion had to wait un…

PS Vita & Arguing with Myself

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The best thing about arguing with yourself is that you are bound to win. Well, most of the time anyway.
The PS Vita is only two weeks away and I’m still agonizing over whether or not to buy one at launch. The following heated conversation took place in my head, not more than an hour ago.
Me: I think we need a PS Vita.
Me: Are you taking the piss?
Me: No. It looks great.
Me: But we never play portables. We have stacks of PSP and DS games that we have barely touched.
Me: Hang on a second; I'm playing Resident Evil Revelations as we speak. Having a 3DS is already paying off.
Me: Pull the other one. What were you saying to me the other day about the Circle Pad Pro's battery life?
Me: I don't rightly recall.
Me: Spit it out you mute.
Me: OK! "480 hours? I'll never have to change the battery in this thing". So what? 480 hours is a long time to play anything.
Me: We played Skyrim for 100 hours in the last two months alone. Fuck, we played Final Fantasy XIII for 110 and did…

Going Portable

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A year and a half late, three years removed from discovering the PS3 original and now priced at only £7.95, I felt it was high time that I bought Valkyria Chronicles 2. SEGA's strategy RPG is one of a handful of home console franchises that have seen my interest wane with a move to portable devices. It seems I wasn't alone in being hesitant to follow VC across to the PSP, as poor sales in the West ensured that the third entry has been confined to Japan. This shift to the PSP certainly made sense for the Japanese market, where the 3DS/DS and PSP reign supreme, but over here it served only to kill off what was already a niche series.
Like Valkyria Chronicles, Metal Gear Solid has gone the portable route in recent years, but it fared much better than VC outside of Japan. Portable Ops and Peace Walker, and to a lesser extent the Acid spin-offs, were critically acclaimed and relatively well received at retail. However, as much as I enjoyed Portable Ops I was still unwilling to com…

Noughties

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When we were kids, my brother and I tried our hand at a number of different professions. We ran a Boglin protection agency which, despite our best intentions, quickly became an excuse to shoot imaginary mercenaries in their imaginary faces as the helpless rubber gremlins looked on. For a while we were wrestlers, but no matter how many Speedo sponsored pay-per-view events we organised, we just couldn't attract an audience. Our singing career also went tits up, as the world just wasn't ready for our dub-step, country hybrid.

For a while we fancied ourselves as authors. We tended to ape the format of the Point Horrors that were all the rage, but occasionally we would branch out with topics that felt closer to home, such as cyborg cowboys and time travelling zombies. Unlike our other early ventures, this one endured.

I would take pride in creating a gruesome font cover for my pulp horrors, usually featuring a mixture of blood, axes and teen-hunting corpses. Once I had finished my …

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Review

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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a rather difficult game to review. It is one of the most immersive titles of any generation, one that has demanded over one hundred hours of my time in arguably the most competitive stretches in gaming history, but it is also an experience that is plagued by shoddy design and glitches that would earn most games a critical panning. Skyrim is able to addict and infuriate, entice and repel; it represents everything that is wrong with the "release now, fix later" development model, yet manages to emerge smelling like roses. Skyrim is a difficult game to review, but a great one all the same.
From the outset, Skyrim’s saviour is yours to mould. From a Sean Bean look-alike to a feline magician, you dictate everything from their fighting style to the shape of their eyebrows. However, no matter your cosmetic choices you will remain the Dragonborn: a prophesised slayer of dragons able to manipulate the Thuum - a deadly shout - and consume the souls of the anc…