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Cyberpixie Blog

Plain Sight Reviewed - What are you doing Dave?

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I've not made a blog entry for a longtime now, not had the time. Parkour has really been eating up my spare time! However, I've been doing more game reviews and figured I'd draw attention to my latest piece.

Actually got given this to review back in May but was over in the states and unable to test it properly. Happy to say though that Plain Sight is an excellent indie multiplayer game and comes highly recommended!

It's quick read this one so please have a look!

Plain Sight screenshot

Heavy Rain - Review

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After playing Heavy Rain, I really hoped that I'd get to do a review for Console Obsession. Lucky for me, this is indeed the case! Granted it's taken several drafts to cut my 4000 word critical evaluation into something more digestible, and much needed feedback from my editor (thank you Kat!), but here it is. For your reading pleasure.

heavy rain uk cover

Heavy Rain Review

As always, if you like it please rate it on the Gamespot copy

Ta!

And now, I'm off down south for a much needed holiday. Oxford, Efterklang, Bangface (inc. Venetian Snares) here I come!

Operations and The World Ends With You

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So, I've not been around much recently. The reason for which is fairly reasonable I think. I went in forcorrective jaw (orthognathicsurgery) to sort out my protruding lower jaw (I had a Klass 3, 11mm) on the 13th of January. Recovery has taken best part of 2 months while I've been able to do stuff the low energy and psycological state has kept me away from gaming a fair bit. First few weeks had me in considerablepain, coughing up blood and nose bleeding, swelling (basket ball head) and generally looking like I've had the crap kicked out of me. Liquid diet still sucked (but occasionally tasty). Never realised how much I'd miss texture and being able to actually "eat". Still have a lot of feeling missing from my lower chin and lip but it's coming back gradually.

This is basically what they did:

All of the surgery is done through the month so there is no scarring on the outside. They cut through the mandibula in pretty much the same places in that diagram, except the lower jaw has a larger gap inbetween the break. Yes, I shall have titianium in attached to my skull for the rest of life, fine by me!

That was all 10 weeks ago now, coming up for 11 this coming Thursday and I've made an excellent recovery. However, after going to see my surgeon today it turns out I need one final op.I did mention it to him a few weeks after the operation that my nose didn't feel right, but he reckoned it was probably just caused by the swelling. Never disregard a scientist!

Anyway, should have it done in a few weeks, will be relatively straight forward with a week of discomfort/recovery. They need to shave a bit of bone off the maxilla where the nasal septum sits (I think that's right). He'll have do all the cutting through the month again so nothing external. The thing I'm least looking forward to is the post-general anaesthetic brain fuzz, man I hate that stuff.

This is all besides the point though. Most of you probably don't care and that's fine. This is sort of more a record for me. A mile stone that I've placed out in the vast ocean of the Internet. Having got back to my research, getting things sorted for my research placement at Cornell, got myself back to work and even back to Parkour training; I'm as close to 100% recovered as I need to be.

And to mark this occasion in this odd real/virtual world, here is my latest review:

The World Ends With You- You'll get my screenshots and comments here but if you want to rate it please go here

I've been meaning to review this brilliant game for some time, and submit it to the site I write for: Console Obsession

I guess it's part of my healing process to get some of these tasks out of the way. In this respect, I've also in the last few weeks finished some games which I'd been putting off including Valkyria Chronicles and Shadow of the Colossus. The former being disappointing and the latter awe inspiring, reviews possibly to come at a later date.

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

Hasbro Family Game Night DS - Review - There is no excuse for this

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This is possibly the worst game I've ever had the misfortune of playing and certainly of the list I've reviewed. I wonder what the suicide rate is amougst people working on these kinds of titles? I've made it entertaining to read to the best of my ability however so give it a spin, won't take long. :) Is on Gamespot too if you want, but nay screenshots like.

Hasbro Family Game Night DS - Review

Left 4 Dead 2 PC Demo - Thoughts and screenshots

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Now, the angry interent men have had their chance to play L4D2, I suspect most will NOT be thinking this, but it seems some still do. For example, a friend of mine in relation to L4D2:

Looks equally as repetitive.

I'm confused by this statement. You see, L4D is 1st person shooter, which has it's primary focus on co-op play between 4 players. You are working together as a unit to defeat the computer which in itself almost always bares different results in every game. The versus mode which sees 8 human players face each other as survivors and infected, is even more so. Granted the versus mode in L4D suffers from a few hitches such as the maps generally being too long and the Director being too soft/harsh fairly randomly, but overall, it's delivers a strong tactical (on higher difficultly levels) and action packed game. Remembering that Counter-Strike for example went through many balance changes and tweaks before achieving dizzying heights should be noted.

My point however is that L4D is more than just shooting hordes of enemies. It's about the experience of surviving each level with you friends (or strangers, not as preferable), working together as a team, learning each others way of play and co-coordinating yourself to function as a well oiled, 'infected' killing machine. The game is repetitive in the sense that you do not have a 'End Game' scenario, where the game is complete. You do play the same maps everytime, and shoot the same infected enemies everytime, but the experience you have is always unique. My argument against this is that overtime yes, the campaigns can become familiar, the choice in weapons lacks, and the difficultly level is no longer an issue (unless you like playing on expert all the time.) Ultimately you are just shooting human shaped targets, but I can think of many games which have this as your main mechanic....

What L4D 2 offers as Neil has already outlined in detail is not the same game. Sure, it's the same deal in almost every way, 4 players, hordes of infected, progressive campaigns etc but some of the changes are balls out game changing. For one, the number of infected that are now on screen is terrifying, you will genuinely feel that you're being over run and on the harder difficultly levels of the demo, it's almost too much. Other technical changes such as the damage system for the infected is also mind blowingly messed up. On one of my first plays of the demo, I winged an infected woman with my shotgun, which torn off her arm, a bloody stump dripping around the broken bone. After regaining her balance she continued to run at me, at full speed the other arm thrashing, which I proceeded to blow off as well. She kept coming and ended up in my face as I pumped another round into the chamber, which was hastily put in her glowing eyed, screaming face. On a separate occasion, I witnessed one of my mates blow a hole through an infected guy as he spirited towards him. To my horror, and amazement, the blast had caught it in the belly exposing it's organs and torn through to it's back. The blast had pulled the intestines out, which spooled out in a long bloody trail as it chased after my friend. The second blast tore it's arm off, and kept coming until a final shot took it's head off. And also, pipebombs have to be seen to be believed. The fact that you can visually see how your weapons are destroying your targets, yet they still give chase, makes them even more frightening.

The introduction of melee weapons in an interesting part of the game as it allows more tactics for the survivors to play with. They replace you pistol slot as your 'infinite' weapon, and do considerable damage to the infected, at the cost of being close to the them. As I mentioned earlier, the hordes are much larger this time round so running in with a machete while amusing on 'normal' is suicide on anything above that. They seem to be most effective when used in corridors or doorways were you can control their numbers more easily. The new selection of weapons with minor differences between them is also a welcome addition. Generally the weapons 'feel' better and the selection lets you pick something that fits you and your teams tactics. The dual pistols and shotguns in particular are suitably meaty. Oh and the magnum, it's kinda awesome.

The new special infected really mix things up. The charger is particularly deadly as it makes little noise after sighting the group and moves in like a rattle snake. Which weights about 25st and hits with the force of a battering ram. I agree with Brian that the spitter is a bit weak at present, but I think that's more down to the levels. The dark levels will likely play better for it, and in situations were the survivors try to turtle. The jocky is perhaps the most deadly due to it's small size and player controlling ability. It's going to be hellish in multiplayer. The wandering witch is a fantastic change but I've not experienced it properly yet.

The director being able to effect the level more directly is interesting as well. After many play throughs, certain areas were opened and closed, weapon drops changed consistently, horde placement changed a lot and generally made the game difficult for you. You can see were they were trying to go with the new campaign setup in 'Crash Course' and it really looks like it's going to be excellent.

Finally, the gauntlet is also really big change due to the larger horde sizes as well. Being chased down a set path with infected streaming after you, over fences and building is eye popping scary and frantic to boot. I don't agree with people saying that the 'daylight' makes it comic or less scary, far from it. The attention to detail in the new common infected is outstanding and the variation along with the intensely sick (but oh so satisfying) damage system makes playing in broad daylight quite an experience. It's intensely in your face, there is nothing being hidden in the darkness, it's all around you, bloody claws and teeth constantly in view, relentlessly uncensored.

L4D was both a dynamic and passive story experience as well as a shooting game. L4D 2 is more than an add-on, it's a sequel. Roll on the 20th of November!

Anyway, it's almost release time, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite screenshots from playing the demo. In native res. Hope you like. For 18+ only!.

Horde in progress - Check the magnum!

Post-horde in the kitchen

Bar stand off - love the lighting here

Intestine trail

Ground headshot is messy

Pipebomb goes BOOOM!

Gore tastic

Coach getting mauled by the Charger

Stylistic pistol shot

And my personal favourite, this kind sums up the demo for me

Pixie's Top 10 Video Games of 2008

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So here we are. It's the 15th of October, another year has shot past and I'm still caught in the tail wind of 6 months away from gaming. My main game the last year or so has been catch up and hence this rather late, top 10. Fingers crossed the next one shan't be this time next year. :) Anyway, without further a do, I present to you the finest video games of 2008, from my humble pixie point of view.

10. The World Ends With You – DS

What? A Square-Enix game, without Chocobos?! Indeed, and it's all the better off for it. TWEWY is probably the most original JRPG of recent times and narrowly whisked 10th place from the bold and inspiring Valkyria Chronicles (sorry Sega). Set in modern day Shibuya, Tokyo you play a spikey haired dolt suffering from memory loss and a messed up sense of **** It seems he's ended up in an alternative reality and must take part in a "game" of survival with a partner. To start, the strong visuals are fresh and interaction with a nice combination of point-'n'-click adventure with RPG mechanics is oddly endearing. The story is engaging, well written and avoids many of the stereotypical setups commonly seen while the combat is inspired. Action packed battles are real-time using a combination of D-pad, touch screen and mic inputs to control 2 characters (one per screen) delivering an exciting but tactical experience. There is so much to do in this game, from item collection to the frantic dual-screen combat its flawless and beautifully integrated. The only downside is that it's surprisingly hardcore, meaning the first few hours are a tough hurdle to overcome for some, but I assure you it's worth your time. A truly brilliant game.


9. - Metal Gear Solid 4 – PS3

Not being a massive Metal Gear fan (just a wee one like), I never really felt like I was invited to this party. The prospect of playing a largely uninviting game which would likely openly insult me for not getting every in joke and reference was as appealing as going to a disliked old friends birthday party. I took it on the chin though, and marched in with my head up high expecting to regard it with cold discern and aptly leave. Imagine my shock and initiual guilt for staying until the very end and loving every melodramatic, explosive minute of it. It's a shame because I suspect that many uninitiated with the previous titles will lack the courage to tackle MGS4. It truly is the rare experiance of gaming at it's finest, delivering an emotional, action packed, tension wrought journey like nothing else out there.

8. - World of Goo - PC, Wii

Goooooooooooooooooo! Yaaaaaaayyy! Mostly because I can't really express the cute, huggable little blingters in any other way. Rarely have I had the pleasure of indulging in a game of such charm, with maybe the exception of Darwinia (and 2008's unfortunately under played Multiwinia). Technically speaking a physics based puzzle game, but at its heart World of Goo is a much more enterprising beast. It's organic feeling, consistently evolving game mechanic with you manipulating this stuff, the personality of it all, the music and world ****art design and it's ability to move you. Most important game since Portal? Very possibly. Puzzle games our are past, and most importantly our future. Fingers crossed there is more to come.

7. - WipeOut HD – PS3

Nothing new granted in many respects. It's essentially the same formula that's made previous WipeOut games so successful. What is so special about this one you ask? Well, if you have played it or seen it in person, you would not be asking that question. With it's superb presentation and impossibly beautiful ****the game oozes futuristic anti-gravity, hi-octane arcade racing into your eye balls as nothing has done before. It doesn't stop there. The controls, superb use of 5.1 DolbyDigital sound, clever track design, range of play modes, great online support, massively adjustable difficulty to suit all skill types and BLEEDING BEAUTIFUL GRAPHICS make this "the" arcade racer to have, play, love and obssess over. End of line.

6. - Etrian Odyssey II – DS

How can Atlus's old-school dungeon crawler even compare to the might of MGS4 or the charm of World of Goo? Well, because it does something games (and their developers) are terrified of doing. This game is so hard, so brutally uncaring that it makes Shadow of the Beast look like a puppy dog nightmare (awww, so cute!). Getting beaten to death by a group of pink butterflies in the opening stages is the norm and getting eaten alive by huge "Foes" only a few floors down is inevitable. This game is not afraid to kick your ass and tea-bag your corpse for having not planed your attacks fully or even just because you took one step too many. It doesn't even care about story or characters, it just wants to kill you. So why is it fun? Etrian Odyssey is such a masterpiece because it is challenging, cerebrally involving and well presented to boot. Drawing out your own map as you explore, planning every move, the excitement of pushing just a little further into the dungeon, your resources low but with just enough to deal with a few more eneimes, that Diablo **** "just a bit further" mix of excitment and fear. It's gripping stuff, not everyone's cup of tea I can appreciate though. This RPG is not about wheeling characters from one dull preset conversation to the next padded out with bland battles and item collection. This game is about survival. It's about taking on the demon, finding it's weaknesses and exploiting them. It's about delving into the darkness (or cute anime forrest in this case) not knowing if your expertly crafted team of warriors and mages even stand a chance. Be afraid, be very afraid.

5. - Mass Effect – PC

In complete contrast to the brutal combat dungeon crawl of Etrian Odyssey, Mass Effect presents a compelling story and strong focus on character development and interaction. It is an epic space opera complete with ****c sci-fi inspired visuals and a stunning soundtrack from video game music composer veteran Jack Wall. Shades of Blade Runner blink in the seedy underbelly of the Citadel, Dune looms it's head in the shape of vast alien landscapes and huge worm like creatures. It's all wrapped up in a seriously hard sci-fi world reminiscent of an Iain Banks novel with lovingly detailed alien politics, social structures and technology. The seamlessly integrated 3rd person, firearm and psi-power fuelled tactical battles are exciting and never outstay their welcome. While combat never takes a back seat, the story is the focus of the game and the choices you make throughout are well realised and never feel forced unlike many other attempts. You genuinely have very real, impact making actions to make with actual consequences. Mass Effect is a marvel of what video games can achieve despite it's flaws and shows that gaming is as valid a medium as any other in telling a great story.

4. - Rock Band 2 – X360, PS3

No doubt this title needs no introduction, most people having rocked out and made arses of themselves on plastic instruments with Guitar Hero. The greatest party game ever? Oh, aye. The only game I possibly think of that can contend it's title would be Bomberman for sheer hilarity, but that's not what Rock band is about. It's about having fun with your mates, drinking beer, listening to great music, consistently hitting the Band Unision Power, nailing that guitar solo in Highway Star, finishing Boston's Foreplay/Longtime drum part on expert and being saved by your mates when you more likely fail. That's because of the drink though I tell you. Everything that was annoying about the original Rock band has been ironed out, and all that is left is this unique, silky smooth game experience. Oh, and Guitar World Tour is pants in comparison, so, yeah, don't buy it.

3. - Penumbra: Black Plague – PC


In a word, WOW! Penumbra: Overture was excellent and easily one of the best PC games of last year and Black Plague takes it to new heights. Exploration of the game world is unlike anything else out there, essentially being a 1st person point and click adventure. No combat, no weapons, just you, your torch and your noggin. Probably one of the scariest games ever made drawing up along side ****cs such as Silent Hill 2 and Thief: The Dark Project. Not only is the atmosphere dripping off your monitor but it's running into your ears as well, a dark room and headphones is highly recommended. The plot twists and turns coming to a conclusion worthy of the original and also possess the most terrifying villain since Shodan. I can't recommend this game anymore highly than that, I think.

2. Left 4 Dead – PC

We all run down the airport escalators, the infected have mostly been cleared out. The slick sound of boots on steel punctuated with brief gun blasts as we explode infected heads like carrion filled balloons. The arrivals bag collection is now eerily quiet, a silvery light coming through the windows above the locked up main doors. Corpses litter the floor, slumped against the walls, draped awkwardly over uncollected suitcases.

"Right guys, here's the plan. We need to get through the metal fence here to get through to the terminal, so if we drive that van through here………"

Somebody hits the ignition, the van tearing off towards the fence.

"Not yet!!! Oh SHHIIIIITTT!!!!"

All hell breaks loose, the van smashing through the fence before veering off into a wall. The engine and general chaos has alerted a horde, they come spilling out from the offices above us, screaming and howling down the escalators, a furious wave of flesh and bone. Chaos ensues. People are shouting, shooting in all directions, infected are running everywhere, blood and limbs flying through the air as we leg it into check-in. A pipebomb goes out turning the infected into a stupefied scrum as they chase the beeping device before it explodes, a cloud of blood and torn flesh in it's place. We're almost through, a molotov is thrown turning the entrance into a inferno death trap as the last survivor charges through. Suddenly, Phizz cries out in pain, a long appendage has snapped out through the flames, wrapping itself tightly round his body and neck. Before we can respond he's dragged away through the flames as bodies continue to charge through.

"Leave him!", someone screams.

"NEVER!!" as I charge through the flames, gunning down infected as I go. I catch up with Phizz now in the grip of the Smoker, "you ugly motherf**ker!" a yell as my M16 turns it into a blast of blood and smoke. Choking, and coughing I escort the now limping Phizz as we quickly head back to he others, rifle fire covering our retreat.

Then a tank appears.

Awesome. Best co-op game ever? Very possibly….

1. Little Big Planet – PS3

Now this is a turn up for the history books, not only is my favourite game of 2008 a console game but it's also a platformer. Yes, I've findly lost it. Or have I? The game is beautiful, inventive, strange and damn right ball busting at times. The levels created by Media Molecule are a delight to romp through, particularly with friends but the wealth of excellent user content is equally stunning. Mutliplayer really lets the game get it's groove on, four players trying to manoeuvre impact explosives with jetpacks is just one of the scenarios that had me in stitches (pun intended). Turning my pod into the Arcadia from Bioshock then watching (and screaming), in horror as my friends start showering crap all over it, before exploring the fan service level online. Oh, and the whole while dressed up as a blood soaked bunny in a dinner suit, complete with lightning ball in hand….I also have grand plans for my own level (currently in pre-production stages). Did I mention that Stephen Fry does the narration? Or that The Go! Team, Battles amoung others are on the soundtrack?

Normal platformer? No, a bit more to it? Yes. Constantly charming, seemingly endlessly entertaining and one of the few games I've played to deliver an exciting, new experience every time I boot it up. Little Big Planet is a triumph both as a game, a social experience and creative outlet, and I love it.

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So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed, and if you didn't, why are you still reading? A quick recap:

Top 10 2008

  1. LittleBigPlanet – PS3
  2. Left 4 Dead – PC
  3. Penumbra: Black Plague - PC
  4. Rock Band 2 – PS3, X360
  5. Mass Effect - PC
  6. Etrian Odyssey II - DS
  7. Wipeout HD – PS3
  8. World of Goo - PC
  9. Metal Gear Solid 4 – PS3
  10. The World Ends With You - DS

Cheers!

Wipeout HD Photos

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Just a quick post for my current favourite time-waster, Wipeout HD. Having recently achieved the Elite Campaign Legend trophie, I figured it was about time I posted some of my photos. If you fancy a race, give me a PM and I'll add you. I just bought Fury as well so likely be playing it a fair bit over the next coming weeks. Enjoy. :)

Piranha banking onto the straight on the Sol Platform Beta

EG-X taking the lend on Sol 2's unit 204

Auricom and Goteki battling it out leaving Sol Station

Goteki vs. Auricom again on Sol 2

Goteki vs. Auricom close-up

HD skinned Icaras running the Serptel Overpass at Moa Therma

AG taking the inside on Piranha through the Unit 203 on Sol 2

Close-up in black and white

Batman, the human stealth bomber

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Only played it on the PS3 so far, will try it on the PC too. It really has it's own unique feel stylistically and looks every bit as good as the screenshots suggested. The environments are suitably detailed conveying the dark, grimy atmosphere of the comic material. The group combat reminds me a bit of Urban Chaos, a little of Oni, but MUCH tighter, easier, incredibly visceral and very satisfying. Stealth take-downs have been well implemented and are necessary as Batman is very prone to swiss cheese impersonations in a matter of seconds.

All of Batman's movement is brilliantly captured and feels "right", adn oh that cape! He has the manoeuvrability of a ninja coupled with the stopping power of an artic lorry. Taking a goon out from above, leaving the sod hanging by his feet before swinging across the room to observe is executed fluidly with no complications. Observing his rightfully nervous mate (detective vision shows peoples BPM) stumble up to his friend while The Joker (Mark Hamhill) cackles away in a suitably omnipresent and creepy manner teasing the poor guy, "he's only a man, like you, in a bat suit!". The poor dude is put out of his misery when Batman silently glides across the room like a human stealth bomber, planting both boots into his face, a sickening crunch as his head cracks off a steaming pipe.

The demo doesn't really show off any of the puzzle elements of the game, and it's a bit short, however......I'd recommend playing it. The is very possibly "the" Batman game some of us have been waiting for.

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