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Preview: Binary Domain

When I first heard of Binary Domain, I had that silly smile on my face, being a software/web developer myself. I thought, "another game of hackers saving the world". But I was totally wrong. Then, I thought it would be a mediocre game, although I was following it, but my expectations were not high. Again, I was wrong. Having just finished playing the demo, I can safely say it's exceptionally good.

Binary Domain takes place in 2080 Tokyo, in an era where machines dominate and humanity struggles to survive. You are in control of Dan, a British soldier, and your squad must consist of 3 people, Dan included. You get the options of various team members, such as "Big Boy", an African-American heavy machinegunner, and Charles, a British Spec-Ops soldier.

You be trippin', bro?

The whole game has a Vanquish feel to it, from the environments and the interface to the background music. That's not a bad thing to say; I enjoyed Vanquish, and it was a fine game that sales didn't do justice for. While you play Binary Domain, you will feel that the control scheme is pick-and-play; you won't have to look through the control scheme screen, you'll know, more or less, what each button does by the time you pick up the controller.

Gunplay is surprisingly tight, and thoroughly enjoyable. You get a futuristic Desert Eagle variant with infinite ammo as your side-arm, an Assault Rifle, a slot for weapon purchase/pickup and a slot for grenades. All these are mapped to your d-pad. I talked about weapon purchases... The game features a shop that's accessed during missions through terminals. There, you can upgrade your weapons or buy new stuff, some of which might be compatible only with a specific character. The game's currency is, the usual, Credits. You get Credits by performing good in combat, and by doing special feats, such as bashing your opponent to death, up close and personal, instead of sniping from behind cover.

What's worth mentioning is that the battle system is also very, very fun but also needs you to think. The fact that you downed an enemy robot and it looked dead for a while doesn't mean it is. It might start crawling or limping its way towards you guys, or just shoot while on the floor. Be sure to make sure they're dead before walking away. Also, you can tactically cripple your enemies. For example, you can shoot off a robot's head, and it will act like a headless chicken. You can shoot a leg off and watch it limp and try to keep the fight up. If you get too close, it might try to roundhouse kick you, but not if it's missing a leg or two. That way, you can play and be a lot more tactics-oriented, and try to cripple the enemies instead of mindlessly shooting at everything that moves.

Also interesting is the Consequence System, that's even built within the battles. For example, if you accidentally (or purposely) shoot a teammate, they will kindly ask you to stop, but if you do it repeatedly, they will like you less and less each time, resulting in them refusing to follow your orders, or not doing well in battle. Outside battles, you can answer to chit-chat to continue building or destroying trust within the team. After a good battle, you can tell your teammates they "did a good job", or that "you were craptastic". Apart from combat affections, Consequence System will also affect storyline. An interesting system that I can't wait to see in its full form.

The graphics are brilliant, especially the character and weapon models. There's enough detail and diversity in the environments that make you overlook the, sometimes, cheesy dialogue you'd expect. Let's not forget, I said it's Vanquish-stylε, and that game was good but cheesy. While it's set in a futuristic landscape, where you'd expect tons of grey and white, the developers decided to color them a bit. You'll see screens, plants, and other props that make the scenes colorful instead of plain boring.

What I can say I disliked is the music part. Under a Japanese developer (Yakuza Studio), there's all that electronic arcade music that will sink through your skull and turn you psycho. At least, that's what it does to me. It's not that it gets in the way of gameplay, by distracting you or anything, but it's just that it's what you'd expect for this kind of game from the Japanese. I'd much prefer some orchestrated sound to electronic music, but I might just get used to it once the full game is released. Apart from that, the gun sounds, voice acting and general sounds are well-made, and will not leave you down - at least based on the demo.

All in all, Binary Domain looks like a successful game to me, and is definitely a day one purchase. To accompany you after you've beaten the campaign, Yakuza Studio has added online competitive modes, pitting a maximum of 5 people versus 5. Based on what I've played and seen from the gunplay, online, if populated enough, will be a blast. Binary Domain is due for a February 28th release.

Gears of War 3: It was epic, Epic (Finished, reviewed)

Hello everyone, I got my Gears of War 3 Limited edition last Tuesday, finished it on, technically, Thursday's early hours, and I've been playing online since then. Now, I've found the time to review it, and give my views on it for everyone who's checking it out. My opinion? It's a great game, one of the best my X360 library has to show off, together with Alan Wake. But as a Gears, what is it? It's the best Gears ever made, up to point. It takes the best out of the previous two games, and ends the trilogy in the best way, gameplay-wise. But the story, it just wasn't as satisfying for me, for a simple reason: when a franchise starts as a game, I expect it to wrap up major plot details in the games, and provide a lot of backstory and other points of view on the events in the books. Gears? It just left things afloat, forgetting about things that were crucial in previous games, like they weren't ever mentioned nor happened. And what do some people say? "It's in the books". Well, I have the two Assassin's Creed books, the Mass Effect books, and a God of War book. All of them, I got after I finished the games, and still, I perfectly understood most things in the story, and the story didn't hype me up for a finale that would let me down, unless I "read the books'. The books flesh out the characters, depict past events, events in between... but a series of books based on a video game that contain the main plot? That's bad writing for the game. Anyway, without further ado, you can go ahead and read my review, and get a detailed look in the game, what it offers, and what you should know about it that can decide your purchase. Have a nice day!

My theory on the FPS genre

It's true that most FPS games look alike, but that's expected. You always see a floating gun, and occasionally a pair of legs. How much can games differ from one another if this is a standard they can't change? Most times, it's the first thing the player gets to see when the game allows him to take control of the character, so that's the first thing that also gets stamped on his mind. I think we've all thought about Halo not feeling like walking when you walk because everything stays completely stable, or about Killzone making you think that you're really moving. About the gun barely moving when hip-firing, or about the gun going out of control when doing the same thing. About some over-encumbered HUD, or about a lacking HUD or non-existent HUD. It all depends on mechanics and what the game is offering based on its concept. The question should not be if FPS games look alike, but if they offer the same, recycled thing over and over again, and I'm sure they're not. Well, franchises are franchises, and I'm obviously talking about comparing different franchises.

I can't really compare these, can I?

For example, Halo has its perfect hip-firing system combined with a lot of killing in space, whereas most other games don't rely much on it, and I'm glad to be honest but that's another story. Killzone has that weighty feel to it, and each gun works in its own way, making them "feel" better for the player. Resistance has that crazy alien technology for the player to use, and that's where the game's fun in shooting is hiding at for me. Brink has that parkour, fast-paced action stylε that rewards the player for having a coordinated team. Battlefield relies on the Frostbite engine, making you use your head more occasionally than your trigger, because of bullet drop, thinking whether to destroy something that would later provide cover etc. Call of Duty is that arcade, pick-and-play game we all know, with not a big learning curve for someone to be an average player. Duke Nukem Forever has that retro feeling, simplistic aim-and-shoot action with some explosive goodies along the way, its highlight being the Duke's sense of humor. Homefront relies on how the player will accumulate points in order to reinforce his arsenal with more deadly means of destruction. Crysis makes you use your suit to its best, push it to its limits, in order to complete your goal with efficiency - makes you think you are in the suit. What pattern did you see here? I pointed out the main thing that characterizes each game mentioned. Maybe not what it's advertised as, but surely something that can describe the game without much thought put in it. Try crossing out each name and just reading the following sentence; you'll see that you'll understand which game I'm talking about, well, provided you do know the game exists and have taken a look at its basic, defining mechanics.

I'm sure that this is not the same as...

... this! See my point?

They are all so similar, yet so different, but we fail to see it because each month a new FPS is thrown in the mix, making the player's mind keep the most basic concept out of all the depth a game might have; aim, shoot, kill, repeat - with this making them not really appreciate what the game is offering, and how it's trying to differientate itself from the other competitors. I believe there's still a lot of life in the FPS genre, but I hope it doesn't get sucked away by incompetence, recycled themes and mechanics.

I enjoy the FPS genre, and I'm glad that I can play each game for what it is. I occasionally enjoy the criticized Brink for its hectic action combined with parkour; I play Call of Duty with my friends because it's simple to boot and doesn't require much in-game coordination; I play Battlefield Bad Company with a microphone when I feel like I have to make my mind think a bit more on the strategies; I play Duke Nukem Forever when I want to have some goofy fun; I play Homefront when I want to have that feeling of "survival" that rewards me with points; I play Halo when I want crazy action in space. I play Crysis when I want to combine superpowers with smooth action. Whatever floats your boat, but I hope you got to understand my point, and why my opinion is that the FPS genre is not just oversaturated by new releases, but also misunderstood - maybe a side effect of the aforementioned situation? We'll get to understand some day, but till then, I hope we enjoy each and every game brought out, and support the makers of it. Have fun!

Long time absence... Can I make up with this Alan Wake review?

Well folks, it's been a while since my last blog post, mainly due to university making my free time a living hell; not bothering to play or go online due to tireness etc. But I was on vacations and just came back today, in time for my nose surgery this Thursday, and life seems to roll smoothly again. Anyway, I suppose you're not here to read about my life since it's a gaming site, so here's your promised review! I'll copy and paste it below, and I'll also link you to the review so you don't search around. Here it goes!


Having written quite some reviews, I considered making them more close to Gamespot's, i.e. adding Pros and Cons on top of the review. This is the first of my reviews to include this, and it is also my first review of an Xbox 360 game.

- Terrific story, plot pacing and story-telling
- Memorable cast of characters
- Attention to detail, such as woolen clothes etc
- Voice-acting is top notch
- Ability to manipulate light and use it as a defending mechanic is something unique and finely tuned
- In-game optional collectibles (such as watching the TV shows or listening to radio podcasts) are worth finding
- Great animations and battle system

- Lip-syncing, apart from Alan Wake, is way out of place
- A pretty basic variety of enemies and weapons
- Car controls could be better
- Some sparse difficulty spikes

Arriving in May 2010, Alan Wake was heavily advertised, as one of Microsoft's gems and one of Xbox's most promising exclusives. Truth is, this game was exactly what it was advertised to be.

Set somewhere in America, best-selling author Alan Wake decides to go on vacation with his wife, Alice. Reason for that break was some tense between the couple, generated by the author's stress about not feeling like he can write a new book, something called "the writer's block", and his muse's pressure which was intended to be for his own good. The young couple sets off for a quiet small paradise, called "Bright Falls", hoping Alan's fame would not ruin their vacation by having them both under the spotlight for their whole stay. On the ferry to Bright Falls, an old man greets the couple and recognizes Alan's face, but Alan asks of him not to reveal his identity for the aforementioned reasons, and the old man cooperates but asks for Alan to be a guest to the local radio show, where he was the host. Having departed from the ferry, the couple starts searching for the man who was to give them the key to their lakeside cabin, and does so by selecting the local diner as their first destination. There, a seemingly obsessed with Wake girl goes crazy after recognizing the famous author, ruining the diner's quiet atmosphere. Wake decides to go to the WC room to get refreshed, but is bugged by the dank corridor leading to it, and almost jumped when an old lady told him to "beware of the darkness". A step before the bathroom's door, another old woman dress in black, most probably because of her being a widow, greets the writer in a disturbing, mysterious voice that reflected her appearance. After some short talk, she gives Wake the key to their cabin, and Wake sets off to it immediately without even visiting the bathroom. Shortly after departing in their car, the man who originally was to give the couple its cabin's key rushed out of the toilet, and holding a key, he said "Mister Wake! Your key!"... From there on, all hell breaks loose gradually. The successful writer now has to fight what he was writing about, as it comes true in the real world; or did he write about it? The game is playing with your mind just as much as it plays with the protagonist's mind, and all that unfolds inside a well-illustrated and beautiful world, with lots of different landscapes and lots of exploration to be had - let's not forget, Alan Wake was first intended to be an open-world adventure, but due to a handful of reasons, plans changed.

The game's story, and the way it's being told, will overwhelm you and make you feel emotions for everyone around you, but the game doesn't stop at that. Solid gameplay mechanics, and second to no glitches, will guarantee that this trip is unforgettable. The game plays like a typical third-person shooter, having the camera behind Alan when walking or using the sprint action, and moving it over his shoulder when aiming a weapon or the flashlights. What's not typical though, is Alan's defences against the forces of Darkness. To defeat this monsters, you must first weaken them by exposing them to light, be it your flashlight or anything else that generates strong light. After they've been weakened, they're vulnerable to normal gun ammunition and get killed just like normal men - well, apart from some special cases. Aiming your flashlight doesn't drain up any battery power; however, there's a mechanic that allows you to boost the light's power in order to inflict more damage, and there's how battery gets drained. You can have a maximum of 20 batteries on you, but that doesn't mean you'll use them all before you get the chance to resupply, unless you always use that power boosting mechanic. The game's weaponry is pretty basic, since it doesn't revolve around the shooter genre more than it does around the adventure genre. You get a pump-action shotgun, a revolver, a flare gun and the like in order to help Alan battle through the hordes of enemies throughout the game. Also, the guns control pretty well, and gunplay doesn't become a chore but rather something you can easily get used to, and it also has its amusing moments. Everything that has to do with sound throughout the game has been taken good care of. From the licensed soundtrack, which is just as good as the original one, to how fleshed out the characters feel when listening to them, everything adds up to create that great, one of a kind experience that Alan Wake is. What will disappoint you though, is looking at the characters when they speak. Apart from Alan, lip syncing didn't get much love, but it's not a game-breaking experience; rather, it bugs you, but like everything, you can get used to it. Another complaint would be the way cars are responding. There's not a huge amount of times you get to drive a car, thus it's not something crucial to the game, but they could be better and I'm sure of it. Don't get fooled though; the graphics of the game won't disappoint you. Although enemy variety is not what I'd call a "variety", they, at least, look great and I felt like I should forgive the developers for not including more. The character models look neat, with attention to small details, like mud or wool on Alan's jacket. Realistic environments take the stage now, with thousands of trees throughout the world, mixed with fine-looking water along with its effects, the sky, the beautiful countryside buildings and cabins in the mountains, all help create that atmosphere that sucks you in before you realize it. You will also witness some of the most absorbing lighting effects you've ever seen in a video game, since light effects have been taken great care of too - the game's based on light and dark anyway -, since the flares or general lighting are all beautiful to look at, even when they are reflecting on a surface, which also looks great. Framerate is also really stable, not stuttering even if you try to take off the dark veil of the most enemies the game's biggest lantern can handle. The game is over in about 13-14 hours on a normal playthrough, without the ton of collectibles that is around, but that's always dependent on the player and their playing stylε.

All in all, Alan Wake is something that should be in your library, and not just on the shelf, but also inside your console so that you get the most out of this trip into insanity. How can you not be tempted, if you have played at least a small portion of the game and have experienced by yourself how solid it is? The star of this game is its plot, and I'll say it once again: it's outstanding, and it feels like you're reading a book - and a well-written one - but you can also control the protagonist through his journey, making it an interactive marvel. Alan Wake is a gem among games, not to mention its value among Xbox exclusives. If you don't have it, and like what you read, go out and buy it right away, since it should be around 20-30$ brand new by now. And remember: "it's not a lake... it's an ocean". Thanks for reading!

Japan Tsunami Appeal - Playstation Store

Hello everyone, it's been a while since my last blog post, and this one is not about gaming, so the next with the previous will still have a big difference between the time posted. Confusing, but anyway, off to the main topic.

The 5€ donation image straight from the PlayStation Store.

Playstation Store and the British Red Cross have started a disaster relief charity about Japan. You can donate 2€, 5€, 10€ or 20€, and in exchange, you receive a Japanese anime-themed Playstation 3 theme which says "Thank you for your donation" on the bottom left corner. I donated 5€ last night, I wouldn't use them anytime soon, so I couldn't see why not give them to the people who actually need them more than me now.

So if anyone has any spare money in their account, even 2€, and they do not intent to use them any time soon, consider donating them and help the victims of that tragedy!

Thanks for reading, I hope you give even the slightest you can, if you can. :)

Dead Space 2 Review & 1100 Trophies

Hello everyone, I finally finished this great game. I also reviewed it, since I wanted to share my experience with other people who are thinking of buying it. The review is located here, and I think it's much helpful. I also reached 1100 trophies, with #1100 being "Made Us Whole" - Dead Space 2, complete the game on any difficulty. :D
Thanks for reading, good gaming peeps :D

2010 Video Game Awards

Alright, I'm a bit against Gamespot for its mindless giving of awards to Red Dead Redemption on many occasions, for example Best PS3 AND X360 Game? Seriously? Why not exclusives only? So, I decided to put my own choices on each category. Note that I haven't played all of the games mentioned, for example the Nintendo DS ones, so my opinion in such cases is based upon what I've seen, read, and most rarely, played through their demo. Remember, they represent my choices through my experience on 2010's releases, and none of them is a random pick.

So, without further ado, here goes the Crash Video Game Awards 2010! No sponsors, unfortunately.

Platform Awards

Multi-Platform Game Of The Year - Mass Effect 2

Best PS3 Game - Heavy Rain

Best Xbox 360 Game - Halo: Reach

Best Wii Game - Super Mario Galaxy 2

Best PSP Game - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Best Nintendo DS Game - Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Best PC Game - Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Genre Awards

Best Action/Adventure - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Best Thriller/Mystery - Heavy Rain

Best Horror - Alan Wake

Best Shooter - Call of Duty: Black Ops

Best RPG - Mass Effect 2

Best Platformer - Super Mario Galaxy 2

Best Fighting Game - Super Street Fighter IV

Best Racing Game - Gran Turismo 5

Best Sports Game - Pro Evolution Soccer 2011

Best Puzzle Game - Limbo

Best Rhythm/Music Game - Rock Band 3

Best Strategy Game - Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Best Downloadable Console Game - Dead Nation

Best Piece of Downloadable Content - Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker

Best Expansion Pack - Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening

Special Achievement Awards

Best Story - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Best Ending - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Best Graphics, Technical - God of War III

Best Graphics, Artistic - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Best Atmosphere - Call of Duty: Black Ops

Best Sound Design - Mass Effect 2

Best Original Music - Heavy Rain

Best Licensed Music - Rock Band 3

Best Voice Acting - Mass Effect 2

Best Writing & Dialogue - Red Dead Redemption

Best Competitive Multiplayer - Call of Duty: Black Ops

Best Cooperative Multiplayer - Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Best Original Game Mechanic - Rocket sliding, Vanquish

Best Boss Fights - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Best New Character - John Marston, Red Dead Redemption

Best Use Of A Creative License - Epic Mickey

Best Original IP - Heavy Rain

Most Improved Sequel - Red Dead Redemption

Most Surprisingly Good Game - Vanquish

Most Memorable Moment - Russian roulette, Call of Duty: Black Ops

Best UK Developed Game - Fable III

Dubious Honors

Most Surprising Game to Make It Past Aussie Censors - Splatterhouse

Most Disappointing Game - Final Fantasy XIII

Least Improved Sequel - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Flat-Out Worst Game - Fighters Uncaged

Best Game No One Played - Vanquish

Worst Game Everyone Played - Final Fantasy XIV Online

Worst Piece of DLC - Tatooine Mission Pack, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Game of the Year 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Succeeded in making a new universe for the Castlevania franchise, with new characters, plot, setting, but with references to characters and events from other games. Had outstanding graphics, voice acting, soundtrack, minimal glitches* and a great experience. And to prevent any moaning, no, it's not a God of War clone. It might be similar to it, but God of War itself is a clone actually. So get away fanboys and haters! Thanks for reading, and I hope you mostly agree with me!

*Only one occured to me once, fell through the floor but I restarted from the checkpoint and everything was okay.

2011, Heroes and Villains, and 1000+1 trophies

Hello everyone, and a happy new year too! :D

First blog post for 2011, so I'd like to make it somewhat special. So, this one goes with a question:

We've all come to adore some video-game characters, some for their awesomeness, some for their stupidity, some for their way of thinking, but either way, we all got at least one of them. Who is your favorite video-game hero, and who's your favorite video-game villain? Who's your most hated villain, and who's the most awkward guy you saw become a hero? I'm posting mine below.

  • Favorite hero: Gabriel Belmont
    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

    This man went through every kind of unpleasant experience one can live in an age of swords and sorcery. Ultimately being betrayed, played and used, Gabriel managed to stand on his feet again and face his destiny, only to emerge victorious from the battle. An epic character in an epic game.

  • Favorite villain: Ocelot - Liquid Ocelot
    Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty & Substance, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

    The ultimate badass, and could outsmart anyone. Who can forget his tripple-crossing on MGS3?! He deceived everyone, yet no one could blow his cover. In battle, he was the only person to be using a 6-round revolver in 2014, where everyone used at least an M1911. Truly badass in every way.

  • Most hated villain: Diablo
    Diablo, Diablo II, Diablo III (supposedly)

    You don't wanna do battle with this guy. Nor do you want to see what has he unleashed upon the earth. When killing him in the Diablo games, you'll understand what I'm talking about. You'll get that feeling of achievement, victory over something of much greater power than yours. And that's how the fourth wall is broken, ladies and gentlemen. Video games swallowing the player in. But that's a story for another blog post.

  • Most awkward hero: Abe
    (Oddworld) Abe's Odyssey, Abe's Exoddus, Munch's Odyssey

    He truly came out of nowhere, and with his share of funny moments, he managed to save the Mudokons from the Glukkons' grasp, as well as himself. Reminiscing those old, great games which brought me into video-gaming feels nostalgic, and with Oddworld having announced that Stranger's Wrath will become available for PS3 through the PSN, a spark for a new game featuring Abe is born. Well, time will tell!

You can post yours, and with a short explanation, like I did! :D

And for the last part of this blog, concerning the last part of its title: today I reached 1000 trophies, 1001 to be exact since the one that made me reach 1000 was also the last one that I needed to unlock another one.

My 1000th trophy was: Complete all trials (Chapter XI) on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Thanks for reading, waiting for yours!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Last game finished for 2010

As the title says, I finally finished Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a great game that I loved from very early stages. I also am around 58% through its trophy set, and I'm aiming for its Platinum, though the trials will make my life difficult there. Anyway, this game is completely underrated, and I can't even imagine how smart the Gamespot critics are! They say that the game "doesn't feel like Castlevania", for not following Castlevania's central plot. Okay, agreed. But it was released as a reboot and not as a main installment, confirmed even by the developers and the publishers! That's plainly dumb, ain't it? This game has a lot to offer to gamers, and gives some fresh air for all the hack-and-slash, plot-lacking games out there, maintaining its values from the first to the last second it lasts. If you want to get deeper into it, which I strongly recommend, you should try reading my review and get a greater insight of this great title.

Closing with, best wishes for 2011, and hope everything goes well with everyone's lives and jobs, since we're going through difficult times! May 2011 bring you all what (good) 2010 didn't, and see you soon! :)

Gamespot Achievements & Demon's Souls Review

Hello all, I've finally managed to synchronize Gamespot with my PSN, apart from my X360, and my trophies are finally showing up. The number is still away from the current one, but it's rapidly adding more. I've got 963 trophies (if I'm right) right now, and it's showing 730 I think. Anyway, thing is that with that, I got 2 new Gamespot achievements:

Game Expert: Here to save the day! Game Experts are knowledgeable and skilled masters in at least one game and have proven this by unlocking at least 75% of the achievements available for it. If you've ever got a question, a Game Expert's usually a good person to ask.

100% Club Member: The best of the best of the best, sir! Unlocking every achievement available for a game is a task that only the most dedicated of players complete, and for that we salute you.

As the achievement titles say, I can give help about a lot of games, gladly! I think that my experience allows me to anyway, and if not, it's always good to learn new things!

Now, about that review... My Demon's Souls review can be found here, and you can always check my other reviews at: Contributions -> Reviews. Thanks for reading and/or commenting! :)

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