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Showing posts from March, 2012

Time is of the Essence

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*This post contains minor spoilers for Mass Effect 2*
I was helpless. I could only watch as my flirty PA was pulped, fed through a blender and processed into a human paste. Now a fleshy milkshake for the dastardly Collectors, Kelly Chambers was a victim of my tardiness and desire to fully explore the Mass Effect universe.
I had always presumed that Kelly’s fate was sealed the moment that the Collectors boarded the Normandy and whisked away the non-combatant crew, while Shepard and co were out on a mystery team-building exercise (paintballing on Eden Prime, I believe). I had accepted her messy demise as being outside of my control and was able to continue with the mission with a clear conscience, managing my team through a battle they had no business surviving.
That was how it went for my first playthrough of Mass Effect 2, back in 2010. Replaying it the last few weeks, I once again found myself looking on as the lovely Kelly was splattered inside a test-tube, only this time I paid more …

A PS3 Anniversary

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Last Friday was the fifth anniversary of the PlayStation 3, European launch. Despite an extortionate price point of £425 and a significant delay - five months after the Japanese and US launches, due to a critical shortage of thingamabobs – the crowds gathered on March 23rd 2007 to throw their money at Sony. In the UK, the PS3 shifted 165,000 units within two days, with Resistance and MotorStorm leading the software charge. The rest is history.
I had decided to hold-off on buying a PS3 until the arrival of Metal Gear Solid 4, though my excitement would eventually get the better of me as I jumped the gun by a couple of months. In the spring of 2008, I took my hard earned cash to Yodobashi Camera in Yurakucho, Tokyo where I bought-in. Along with my fat console, I picked up copies of Resistance and Ridge Racer 7 along with an extra controller with which to convince my wife to join in the gaming. She was not particularly impressed when I suggested that she contribute to the cost of the extr…

The Value of a GAME

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Yesterday, the Game Group - owner of GAME and Gamestation stores - filed for administration. For those of you outside the UK/Europe, GAME and Gamestation are our equivalent of Gamestop and if they disappear entirely, then the UK will be left without a nationwide, video game retailer. The chain has been made redundant by the competition, hampered by a business model that stresses second hand sales and had duplicate stores on the same street. They failed to adapt in an ever evolving industry and uncompetitive pricing made it surplus to requirements for most gamers.

GAME is notorious for sticking to its high prices, with new games sometimes twice as expensive as the competition (Binary Domain was £39.99 in GAME last week, but around £23 at a number of online retailers). When I went to my (three!) local stores two weeks back to check their clear-out sales I found very little that I couldn't get cheaper elsewhere. The first game I spotted in-store was Uncharted: Golden Abyss for a lu…

Asura's Wrath - Review

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Asura’s QTE-based anger knows no bounds. Betrayed by his fellow deities, he shouts and punches his way to exhaustion in a quest for vengeance, one that is more interactive story than video game.
Asura’s Wrath is rather unique; a heady mix of action game and anime that is short on gameplay but unmatched in spectacle. The tale unfolds through quick-time-event laden cut scenes, where player involvement often feels like an afterthought and an interruption to a story that is well told. Think Heavy Rain, only in space and featuring muscle-bound, shouty demi gods. JASONNNNNN! Yes, just like Heavy Rain.
Wearing its anime influences on its sleeve, it makes the most of its episodic format, featuring regular recaps, teasers and credits that serve to constantly remind you that this is not just another action game. These stylistic elements add to the charm and perfectly suit an outing that is concerned first and foremost with telling a story, not offering a traditional gaming experience.
Thrust into …

Where's My Gun?

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I have fond memories of pointing plastic guns at TV screens, rolling around the living room and doing my best impression of Bruce Willis. Unfortunately, these activities are now very much a thing of the past as I can’t remember the last time I wielded a light gun outside of an arcade. While the on-rails shooter has had a mini resurgence over the last few years, largely thanks to the Wii and PS Move, it is no longer the vital part of my gaming routine that it once was.
My first experience of a home console light gun was the Menacer for the Mega Drive (Genesis). It was far too large, much like Nintendo's Super Scope, and had to be assembled before use. My friend was the only person at school cool enough to own one - the rest of us played with sticks and pig bladders - and I remember us all piling into his bedroom to shoot criminals and keep cockroaches away from pizzas. It was our Vietnam and those bugs were ruthless in their quest for pepperoni.
As kids, my brother and I were never s…

Play it Again, Commander

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A never ending supply of quality new games and an increasingly affordable, but broken pricing model has ensured that I'm never short of something new to play. In fact, I have too many games and a backlog that stretches as far back as last autumn. With this ever present embarrassment of riches, I will rarely find the time or motivation to play a new game twice. Mass Effect 2 is a notable exception.

Having played it originally on the 360, last month I made the decision to transfer the series to my PS3 in time for Mass Effect 3. I wanted save-file continuity so I sought out a second copy of Mass Effect 2, this time on the PS3, at the same time as purchasing ME3. I have spent the last week and a half re-living this intergalactic romp and am very happy with my decision to look back before looking forward. The simple premise of searching the universe for potential squad members to take on a desperate mission remains as satisfying and wonderful as it was back in February 2010.

It’s not …

Musings of a Gamer XV

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1. American Creed
Last week saw the much-hyped reveal for Assassin's Creed 3. Set during and just before the American Revolutionary War, it follows a new Assassin, a half English half Mohawk by the name of Ratohnhaké:ton, otherwise known as Connor (!). The trailer puts him firmly on the side of the revolutionaries, though it has been suggested that his allegiances are not quite that straight forward and that the Templar, Assassin divide will not necessarily run straight along British, US lines.
I am both intrigued by and wary of this shift in continent and time period. We must bid farewell to the sprawling and rather beautiful cities of Renaissance Europe that provided the cathedrals, ruins and minarets and that were the perfect climbing frames for our nimble assassin. The tree climbing shown in the trailer seems to offer a replacement, out in the expansive wilderness that stretches between settlements. AC does not strike me as a series that will benefit from large, unpopulated open…

Uncharted: Golden Abyss - Review

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Despite a new platform and developer, Golden Abyss feels like a true Uncharted. Naughty Dog may be absent, but Bend have proven themselves a capable stand-in, careful to preserve the essence of the series while also making worthwhile additions of their own, resulting in a game that will be remembered long after its fellow launch titles have faded from memory.

Golden Abyss sees charismatic treasure hunter, history buff and lovable serial killer Nathan Drake up to his old tricks or, more accurately, new tricks as GA is set before the events of series debut, Drake's Fortune. What starts off as a routine trip to a South American excavation site quickly descends into something far more serious and Uncharted-like. Racing towards a lost city of gold, Drake must rescue new friends and battle old ones, as well as taking on the remnants of a revolutionary guard - just another day in the antiquity business then.

The faux-historical backdrop is rather confusing and at times dull, but then the…

Vita Heaven & Hell

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I am now approaching my third week with the PS Vita and am happy to report that all is well. I'm still getting plenty of mileage from it and remain utterly clueless as to what I'm supposed to be doing with Near. I finished my first playthrough of Uncharted Golden Abyss last night - check back later this week for a review - and although I'm still plugging away at Lumines Electronic Symphony, I'm becoming increasingly reluctant to put in the time needed to boost my high scores. On Saturday I played Voyage mode for a solid hour only to miss my high my 2000 bollocking points!

I still have Rayman Origins to keep me busy and though I very much doubt I'll get the platinum (fucking Black Market nonsense), I do like the idea of playing through Golden Abyss one more time on hard/crushing. Super StarDust Delta is the only remaining launch title that I have any real desire to play, and I'll probably download it later this month. Once they are all out of the way, there is…

Ezio the Elder

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The last three Assassin’s Creeds have seen Ezio Auditore da Firenze mature from a cocksure ladies’ man into the Mentor and elder statesman of the Assassin family. The series has grown alongside him, developing from an entertaining but seriously flawed debut into a highly polished romp through Renaissance era Europe, garnering a large enough following and critical clout to justify annual releases.

Last week, I completed the latest in the franchise: Assassin's Creed Revelations. I enjoyed yet another stunning recreation of a city and period of great historical importance and, unlike in previous entries, I came away satisfied by a finale that offered closure for the assassins of antiquity. The decision to bring Altair back into the fold was well implemented and never overdone, casting him, convincingly, as a man of huge significance and not just the blank canvas from the first AC.
Constantinople is vast and detailed, and there’s plenty on offer for even the most adventurous of gamer…