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[MY TOP 30 GAMES]
Here is a list of my top 30 favourite games of all time - with the names of the gaming platforms I played them on and the scores I gave them, on a scale of 1 to 10. This list has been edited, games have been added on and knocked off (not to mention that this started out as a top 10 games list) and it is obvious that, given time, it will keep changing as it always has.
30) BioShock 2 (PS3) 8.5
29) Heavy Rain: Move Edition (PS3) 8.5
28) Star Wars: Republic Commando (PC) 8.5
27) Dragon Age: Origins (PC) 8.5
26) Killzone 3 (PS3) 8.5
25) Resistance 3 (PS3) 8.5
24) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC) 8.5
23) Mass Effect (PC) 8.5
22) Fallout: New Vegas (PC) 8.5
21) Gothic 3 (PC) 8.5
20) Call of Duty [Deluxe Edition] (PC) 9.0
19) Crysis (PC) 9.0
18) Far Cry (PC) 9.0
17) Halo: Combat Evolved (PC) 9.0
16) Civilization [Whole Series] (PC) 9.0
15) The Witcher [Enhanced Edition] (PC) 9.0
14) Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) 9.0
13) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion [GOTY Edition] (PC) 9.0
12) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC) 9.0
11) S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC) 9.0
10) BioShock (PS3) 9.0
9) Mass Effect 3 (PC) 9.0
8) Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (PC) 9.0
7) Metro 2033 (PC) 9.0
6) Batman: Arkham City (PS3) 9.5
5) Red Dead Redemption (PS3) 9.5
4) Mass Effect 2 (PC) 9.5
3) Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven (PC) 9.5
2) Aliens Versus Predator 2 (PC) 10
1) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings [Enhanced Edition] (PC) 10
On March 6th, 2013, I missed my fifth anniversary of being a member on this once glorious gaming site. It's been a few months since I logged on here to write a blog post and I see nothing has changed. I see the content from the UK branch and Kevin VanOrd's reviews are still stellar, but the website doesn't seem to be under any of the promised overhauls. The communities I used to be a part of are still dead. It's a shame.
What's up with me? Not much. I'll be leaving school in about two months - off to college and then university. Can't be bothered to talk here about non-gaming related stuff, so I'll say I finally got a proper gaming PC and leave it at that. What's everyone else been up to?
MASS EFFECT 3: LEVIATHAN - (DLC) For PC - Review by Bamul
Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it.
Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line: "Too short"
Ever since Electronic Arts acquired the Canadian RPG developer, BioWare has become known for supporting its games post-release with DLC of mixed quality. They tested the grounds with Mass Effect first by providing players with two uninteresting downloadable content packs, each of lackluster quality - especially so when compared to the capacity of the original game. Then came Dragon Age: Origins and BioWare flooded it with optional DLC packs, most of which were equally dull. Mass Effect 2 stepped up the game by offering more free downloadable content and additional paid options. However, even that wasnt perfect, as the free things werent of the best calibre and even though Lair of the Shadow Broker was stellar stuff - It was too short for its price. Mass Effect 3 had a very poor start with the shocking on-disc DLC From Ashes, but BioWare has otherwise been keeping the game updated with a lot of decent and good quality content for free ever since. Leviathan is the first of the promised storyline DLC packs delivered by the company, so lets see how it fares.
After the ending of Mass Effect 3, many players were left underwhelmed and unable to make sense of what happened. Everyone wanted to know more about the Reapers, their origins and what came before them - if not just to understand what the last 5 or 10 minutes of the game were all about, then simply out of a fans curiosity to learn more about the fascinating lore of the series. What Leviathan does marvellously is give players more insight on these issues, without spoiling too much and still managing to keep much of the mystery, and doing so through a superbly written and well-designed story. Leviathans plot starts with a message from Admiral Hackett, who has been running black ops on the pursuit of an evasive creature, known only as the Leviathan, recognized for killing Reapers.
Everyone in the Systems Alliance command who has been informed of the subject is well aware of its potential strategic value in the war against the Reapers, but no one has been able to track down the Leviathan. A human scientist, called Dr Bryson, has been investigating the matter for years and has recently come across something that could lead him right to the Leviathan. Hackett requests that Commander Shepard meet with Bryson and assist him in any way possible. Upon your arrival at the scientists lab on the Citadel, the situation takes an unexpected turn of events and leads Shepard on an exciting journey across a new part of the galaxy in search of the elusive Leviathan.
As we have come to expect from BioWare and the Mass Effect franchise, the writing here is stellar. Any fans of the series will likely find themselves hooked into this DLCs plot from the beginning, and it only gets more interesting after that. In traditional RPG fashion, the player is given plenty of choice during dialogue throughout the entirety of the adventure. Unfortunately, this choice does not affect the outcome or direction of the plot - which is understandable due to the importance of Shepards objective (though still a bit disappointing) - but it does affect the characters around Shepard and their fates. Speaking of which, all of the characters are well-voiced and an exceptional performance is given by Anthony Skordi. Even though the story content of Leviathan is brilliant, it is quite surprising that so much important game lore has once again been kept secret in order to later become available as paid DLC. Leviathans story really is great, but this should have been in Mass Effect 3 from the get-go and available to all for on additional cost.
From a gameplay perspective, Leviathan doesnt wander too far into the uncertain territory of novelty. The combat missions are fairly standard fare and match what youd normally expect from battles with Reaper forces after playing Mass Effect 3. There are some interesting detective like sections of gameplay where Shepard (with a bit of help from EDI) has to examine a safe area for clues and leads as to where she or he needs to head next in the search for Leviathan. These unusual gameplay segments are interesting, but it does seem like BioWare should have explored them further and in greater detail, so they end up being slightly disappointing in the long run. A very brief fragment of gameplay takes place underwater. Its a joy to play through and should have been longer, but excess length would have likely diminished its effect.
Even if Leviathan doesnt add that many new features to the already exciting gameplay of Mass Effect 3, it does create atmosphere exceptionally well. During the three main missions included in Leviathan, we get a chance to see some really spectacular environments. A mining colony on an asteroid protected by immense force fields, a desert wasteland with skies dominated by Harvesters or a planet covered entirely by oceans - all of these environments are created with fantastic attention to detail and highly impressive visuals, as well as a lot of jaw dropping dynamics. Each is also backed up by a stunning soundtrack and characters with convincing voice acting to create an amazing atmosphere for all of the locations in this DLC pack.
Lets summarize everything Leviathan has to offer:
GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10 (Great)
Leviathan doesnt add a lot to the gameplay formula, but it tries enough new approaches to keep things fresh and interesting.
STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
My computer crashed once whilst playing this DLC, but this could have been just a random error with my hardware instead of the game. Other than that, there are no bugs beyond the usual, occasional glitches of Mass Effect 3.
STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
The plot answers many questions and creates a dozen new ones; it is well-written, well-presented, important to the series lore and backed by good characters.
GRAPHICS - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Each environment seen in this DLC looks spectacular, the visual style of Mas Effect 3 is further refined with new atmospheres and many new creative ideas.
SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
The soundtrack consists of thrilling and diverse music that fits the action, the characters are all well-voiced and the audio effects are of a great standard.
LONGEVITY - 4/10 (Unsatisfactory)
This short DLC can be completed in a substandard time of 2 to 3.5 hours of gameplay and dialogue, depending on just how much you do in each area. Technically, this does double or triple if you plan to play through it with more than one character, but not everyone will.
BioWare has repeated the same mistakes that they have previously made with Lair of the Shadow Broker. Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it. Leviathan can only last for a maximum of around 4 hours on the medium or higher difficulty settings from a completionists point of view, and that really isnt enough for the price of 800 BioWare points (around 6 UK pounds or 9.50 US dollars). If you are a big fan of the series, if youre dying to know more about the Reapers and their predecessors, then Id say go ahead and buy it when you have some spare money. Leviathan is a very well-made DLC and its worth it for a hardcore fan. However, there is very little content in it for such a high price, so if you think you can resist - then perhaps its best to avoid BioWares DLC altogether.
OVERALL RATING - 8/10 (Impressive)
I'm really finding it hard to sit down and write these reviews lately. Once I'm into it and writing, it's a piece of cake and I enjoy it but it just takes a bit of time. And finding the time, then the will, to sit down and write a review is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It's pretty much become almost like a chore, which is a shame - but I'll keep writing them, because I'm usually happy with the result and it helps to develop my reviewing and writing skills. I might need those in the near future, especially since this is my last year at secondary school.
Anyway, if you liked this review, please give me a thumbs up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/mass-effect-3-leviathan/user-reviews/806762/. As always: thanks very much for reading and have a nice day!
HEAVY RAIN: MOVE EDITION - For PS3 - Review by Bamul
If you're searching for an emotional, thrilling, deeply involving, truly unrestricted, interactive movie - this is it.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Underappreciated"
When Heavy Rain first came out for the PS3 in early 2010, I was not sure what to think of it. Some praised it, while others nefariously dubbed it "Quick Time Event: The Game". Whatever it appeared to me as at the time, it was definitely different to anything I've ever seen before in gaming. A supposed psychological thriller that really made the player think about the plot and her or his actions in the game. I watched a few videos showcasing some of the gameplay on YouTube, but I still wasn't entirely convinced whether the content of the game was worth the expensive price tag of a new release. When the game was updated to support PlayStation Move motion controls in late 2010, it made no difference to me. Finally, when I got Move as a present during Christmas of 2011, I realized that Heavy Rain: Move Edition was a great opportunity to try out this new peripheral. When the price dropped considerably, it was time to test my theory.
The first thing that you notice when looking at a game are its visuals. Heavy Rain's visuals could have been a mixed bag, but there are some very strong redeeming qualities that bring the whole product into the territories of greatness. The graphics themselves are good for a 2010 console release, but there are some technical inconsistencies that sometimes disrupted my experience with the game. It's no secret that the PlayStation 3 holds some immensely powerful technological prowess for a console that was first spotted on store shelves in very late 2006, but due to the difficulty of coding for the platform - few developers have the ability and experience to tap into that potential. Usually, it is the developers of Sony exclusive games that manage to do this best (such as Naughty Dog or Guerrilla Games), but unfortunately the team at Quantic Dream is not among them.
Heavy Rain is, from time to time, plagued by serious screen-tearing issues. At times, the problem was so persistent and severe that it almost completely broke the immersion for me and distracted me from the core experience of the game. Fortunately, tearing does not occur at every step taken in the game's world and - bizarrely enough - sometimes it is completely absent from the screen. Even with this occasionally infuriating visual anomaly, the good qualities of Heavy Rain's visuals remain triumphant over their hindrances. The attention to detail in each and every environment seen in the game is striking and the facial expressions of characters are almost lifelike (which makes me all the more curious about what the game could have looked like had it utilized the incredible MotionScan technology that debuted in L.A. Noire).
However, even Heavy Rain's good-looking graphics come at a price. In almost every scene (especially at later parts during the game), the textures of environments, objects and characters take enough time to load that the delay and texture pop-in becomes noticeable, sometimes even annoying. It's not a major problem, but also something that should have been fixed. Even so, although Heavy Rain may not appear as visually amazing as Killzone 3 and can be easily classified as a console game from a technological point of view, it still looks great - especially considering the fact that the over 30000 unique animations used in the process of its making manage to keep the whole experience looking fresh and always impressive, except for a minor hiccup here and there.
With games that rely almost completely on narrative to engage the player, it can be difficult to overcome the looming problem of ludonarrative dissonance; the problem when there are conflicts between a video game's narrative and its gameplay. Thankfully, Heavy Rain shelters itself from this exceptionally well by linking story aspects with how the game is controlled. It is not an open-world game, but it's also not linear. You can't go wherever you want, but you are given a lot of freedom when it comes to the decisions that characters take during difficult situations. It is this choice, this open-ended plot that keeps the player immersed and emotionally involved, whilst the unusual controls keep you engaged and physically involved with the entirety of the experience.
The vast majority of movements and activities done by the protagonists of the game have to be carried out by the player through specific button presses and analog stick actions. This works even better with PlayStation Move controls, where the player has to literally push and pull doors, twist keys and wave their hand about with the motion controller, just as you would do those actions in real life. Moreover, and more importantly, these prompts are always designed in a way to make the player feel what the character on the screen is feeling; fast button presses represent effort and strain, sections where the player has to hold down multiple buttons at the same time in awkward positions represent anxiety and disorientation, and so on.
Many of these are timed and thus can indeed be dubbed as "quick time events", but it is the time limits on these situations that add to the tension and authenticity of the experience. When a man armed with a gun is chasing you, you wouldn't take your time with the running and evading, would you? In addition, quick time events in games are used as tools for linear progression and to mix up the action by providing the player with something different to do - a break from the normal gameplay. With that said, Heavy Rain has less quick time events as most of its button/action prompts do not appear individually, but in numbers to give you choice. Also, the PlayStation Move motion controls can't really be classified as "quick time events", because they require direct movement of the player's arms. This adds to the immersion.
The plot of the game itself is non-linear and quite complicated. Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that it is about a murderer called the Origami Killer, who kidnaps ten-year-old boys. Their bodies are later found dead from drowning, with an orchid on the chest and an origami dog in the hand. The player is given control of four main characters: Ethan Mars (an architect that lost his first son in a car accident and now has to complete a series of trials in order to save his second son, who has been kidnapped by the killer), Madison Paige (a young photojournalist and insomniac who becomes involved in the latest Origami Killer case), Norman Jayden (an FBI profiler sent to support the local police force with the investigation) and Scott Shelby (a former police officer and marine - now working as a private investigator employed by the families of the victims).
Each of these characters is a believable persona and their stories often intertwine with each other to form one grand tale about love, death, murder, depression, sex, drugs, romance, crime, family and life in general. Of course, its main theme is also the game's message; the impending and frightening question: "How far would you go to save someone you love?" The story is obviously very well constructed and, at times, even emotionally touching. What makes the experience so outstanding and personal for the player is the freedom of choice offered to you - be it the actions during an intense scene or choices during dialogue. Just like it's written on the back of the box, "your every move can make a difference". Your choices will directly and/or indirectly affect the direction of the narrative, the lives of NPCs and ultimately the outcomes of the whole story. Even the protagonists can die during the plot on a number of occasions, but the plot will keep going regardless and evolve accordingly.
In this kind of game, music and audio are very important. They make up at least 50% of what the player is feeling and add a lot to the emotion that is expressed through visual images on the screen. Heavy Rain's soundtrack is memorable and does everything that it should excellently - be it a quiet, mellow tune on the piano to highlight the emotional value of a sequence, or the use of frantic bowing on the violins to fuel the player's energy during a chase scene. Actors specially selected for each role have also done their jobs well, providing each character with the feelings and persona they need by excellently speaking their well-written lines of dialogue with no excess drama and performing the required actions using motion capture appropriately.
Now that you have a general idea of what this game is like, it is time to summarize its best and worst points:
GAMEPLAY - 9.5/10 (Incredible)
A combination of gameplay mechanics interwoven with narrative works exceptionally and surprisingly well, especially so with PlayStation Move controls.
STABILITY - 8.5/10 (Great)
There are no apparent graphical glitches or bugs; the game runs smoothly and the motion controller failed me only twice, but there is a bit of screen-tearing.
STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
The pinnacle of interactive storytelling, emotionally gripping narrative, character development and freedom of choice in gaming.
GRAPHICS - 8.5/10 (Great)
Heavy Rain's visuals are great, but they suffer from some minor inconsistencies which make it look more like a multiplatform game rather than a PS3 exclusive.
SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Admirable performances from actors, a fantastic soundtrack that enhances the experience and sound effects that make all of it feel authentic.
LONGEVITY - 8.5/10 (Great)
The game takes around 5 to 15 hours to complete depending on how much you do, but the open-ended story offers hours of replayability along with the bonus content included with the Move Edition, as well as trophy support for completionists.
Heavy Rain is the definition of non-linearity and open-ended gameplay in a mostly small-scale and heavily-scripted environment. It affects the player (especially if she or he is a parent) on an emotional and personal basis. It tells a story and puts YOU - the player - in the middle of it all like very few other games have ever done before it. It shows that motion controls can be used in ways that have never before been possible, in ways that never get repetitive and annoying even for hardcore gamers. Obviously, if all you want to do is shoot more faceless enemies, then this game won't appeal to you. On the other hand, if you're looking for something completely different - an emotional, thrilling, deeply involving, truly unrestricted, interactive movie set in a real world with no supernatural aspects, then I doubt you will find a better candidate released before this game.
Either way, Heavy Rain: Move Edition is a great package with more than enough bang for your buck and plenty of unique content to offer. With PlayStation Move controls, this really is a brilliant game with no equal in its genre.
OVERALL RATING - 9/10 (Outstanding)
I know, it's not the review of Red Dead Revolver that I promised. But hey - things rarely go according to plan. I bought a lot of indie and older titles from the Steam Christmas Sale, gotplenty of games (for PS3 and PC) as presents and I also have started playhtroughs of Red Dead Revolver and Demon's Souls. I honestly don't know what review will come next.
Anyway, if you liked this review - please give me a thumbs-up at: http://uk.gamespot.com/heavy-rain-move-edition/user-reviews/805332/ Thanks very much for reading and have a great day!
ALPHA PROTOCOL - For PS3 - Review by Bamul
An impressive RPG thats better than most say though it lacks polish in all departments except for story & persona.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Ambitious"
The video game development company Obsidian Entertainment has always been known for developing sequels to great games and - most of the time - its products were considered to be inferior to their predecessors and lacking in technical stability. Whilst I agree with the latter statement, I tend to belong to the minority of people who often find Obsidians sequels to be just as good, if not better than, their precursors. Perhaps due to the infamy they have gained for apparently ruining game franchises, the poor folks at Obsidian decided to start anew with their own original IP. This was realized in 2010, with the release of Alpha Protocol - the very first game from Obsidian Entertainment that isnt a sequel of (or a spin-off from) someone elses series. The critics have generally given the game mixed reviews, with many wandering slightly into the positive areas of 60% and 70%, but not much more than that. Now I will tell you what I personally think of this game, by presenting to you my own opinion regarding many of its features.
Alpha Protocols setting is that of a modern day world, plagued by tensions between national superpowers and huge corporations. Initially, the plot is quite simple as it revolves around the player character (Michael Thorton) and his recent induction into Alpha Protocol; a top secret American intelligence organization, designed for operations that cannot be linked to the US government due to the political pressure that may potentially occur as a result of such actions. After a few unconventional training sequences, Agent Thorton is sent on his first professional mission as a member of Alpha Protocol - the aim of which is to assassinate Ali Shaheed (the leader of the terrorist organization called Al-Samad) after an attack on a passenger aircraft in the Middle East.
Things seem fairly simple until a surprising plot twist happens, which Im not going to spoil. Suffice it to say, things get very complicated as it turns out that Halbech Corporation had more to do with the missiles and the attack than anyone could have foreseen. From there, Thorton has to go to Moscow, Rome and Taipei to follow the tracks left by the disturbing company. Overall, the story of Alpha Protocol is really quite amazing and one of the best Ive seen in any video game in a while. This is a sure contender with the likes of BioWares titles and maybe even The Witcher series.
Furthermore, the game sports a brilliant cast of diverse, likeable and detestable characters. Since the game has plenty of RPG elements, the player can choose what she or he wants to say in every single conversation in the game, using the famous dialogue wheel from Mass Effect. Surprisingly, whilst the choices dont have much of an impact on the whole plot of the game, they do strongly affect the relationships that Thorton has with every character and the lines between ally and foe change drastically depending completely on your own choices during dialogue. Moreover, the plot has so much more to it than can be discovered during one playthrough. There are plenty of secret facts and alternate options that can be revealed only by completing the game more than once. The replay value for narrative purposes is stunning.
On the box of the game, it is stated that Alpha Protocol is the first modern-day espionage RPG. How much does the gameplay of the title match this claim? Totally! However, just because it is well advertised does not mean that the game itself is fun to play. In reality, its not always entertaining - Alpha Protocol manages stealth and third person shooter gameplay with varying degrees of success. The structure of the environments during missions is usually quite linear (with some exceptions), and so is the progression towards objectives, but there are always different ways to approach a certain situation. It is completely up to you whether you want to use lethal force or not. Yes, that means you dont have to kill anyone throughout the whole game. Even after you defeat an antagonist, you are always given the choice to finish them off or let them live.
The best part of Alpha Protocols gameplay is actually the padding of the content and the RPG elements on the side, rather than the centre of it all; the shooting or stealth itself (which is both good and bad). There are plenty of gadgets, protective clothing and weaponry - all of which can be customized in many different ways - to craft your own perfect loadout for each mission. In traditional RPG fashion, there are stats, skills and abilities that work behind each and every move you make and piece of equipment you use, but they work more like the levelling system of Mass Effect, rather than something like The Elder Scrolls, so there is about as much action in the gameplay as there are RPG elements.
The mechanics of the gameplay itself work well most of the time, but not always. For example: the shooting cannot be compared to Red Dead Redemption, Gears of War or even Mass Effect 3. It is decent, but nothing extraordinary and doesnt feel quite as powerful as it could. On the other hand, the stealth system put in place is quite inconsistent in quality. It isnt broken or completely unfair, so lets just say that sometimes enemies spot you under the same circumstances under which they previously failed to notice you. In this case, Alpha Protocols main problem is that it tries to be a stellar third person shooter and a fantastic stealth game at the same time. It concentrates on trying to do both so much, that it does neither as well as do its contenders from both genres.
Alpha Protocol definitely isnt a game you play for its graphics. Although it does have plenty of variety in its environments, characters, weapons, items and pretty much every single part of its visuals, the game simply doesnt look quite good enough (from a technological perspective) to be considered up to the standards of a game released in 2010. This wouldnt be so bad if the game had a distinct visual art style that it tried to present to the player through unusual graphics, but that is not the case. The game tries to look as realistic as possible. While the attention to detail is admirable, the technology shown in the game just isnt up to the job. Once again, this could be alright, but it isnt because the console versions of the game have even more problems.
When playing the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the game, you will notice plenty of screen-tearing, a ton of texture loading and some drastic drops in frame rate during the more action-packed sections of the game. Do all of these problems hinder the overall experience? Yes, but they shouldnt stop you from enjoying the best parts of the game - the story, choices, consequences and characters.
How is the audio department of Alpha Protocol? The voice acting of the characters is what takes it into the impressive territory, as the excellent performances, given by the diverse cast of actors, express the emotions of each character well - even if they are partially limited by the aged facial animations. Everything else (the soundtrack and all of the sound effects) is good too. In fact, some of the awesome boss battles in the game make great use of unique and/or licensed music. A fine example of this is the fight with Konstantin Brayko; a young Russian mobster, who is obsessed with the western pop culture of the 1980s. The song played on the speakers of Braykos disco during combat is a very unoriginal 80s tune that highlights the epic feeling and fast tempo of the battle.
Now that youve read an overview of what the game is like, lets summarize Alpha Protocols best and worst features:
GAMEPLAY - 7/10 (Decent)
Its great when it works, but can get very frustrating when it doesnt.
STABILITY - 7.5/10 (Good)
Except for various graphical glitches that can break the immersion quite often, it seems that most of the bugs have been ironed out by patches since release.
STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
One of the best video game storylines I have experienced in a long while; the amount of choice given and the consequences that come afterwards are astounding.
GRAPHICS - 6.5/10 (Passable)
The graphics arent bad, but they do suffer from some terrible problems and are almost unacceptable for a 2010 release.
SOUND - 8/10 (Impressive)
The performances of each voice actor are the standouts here; everything else in the audio department is good, but not much more than that.
LONGEVITY - 7.5/10 (Good)
Although there are many reasons for you to return and play through the game again without the need for a tacked-on multiplayer component, its still a short RPG at around 20 hours max if you carry out all of the optional objectives and missions.
In the end, Alpha Protocol really isnt as bad as many people make it out to be. In truth, its not bad at all. Most of the bugs that people complained about since release also seem to be fixed. Its an impressive role-playing game that does choice & consequences better than BioWare, but tries something new with its gameplay and doesnt do that well enough, which is where it slips and makes some mistakes. Still, Alpha Protocol should be enjoyed by most fans of the RPG genre for its brilliant story, even if nothing else.
OVERALL RATING - 8/10 (Impressive)
I know, I know - I said I'd post a review for Red Dead Revolver after my Resistance 3 review, but I decided to do this one instead. The next one should be of either Red Dead Revolver or Demon's Souls. If you liked my review of Alpha Protocol, please give me a thumbs up here. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
PS: Yes, no apostrophes in this review - the terror of GameSpot's hunger for apostrophes has returned, as after I pasted my review into this post, all apostrophes disappeared. I can't wait for the day that the GS staff get their crap together and fix this.
RESISTANCE 3 - For PS3 - Review by Bamul
Resistance 3 truly is a grand game, capable of satisfying fans of both the first and second entry in the series.
Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Best in series"
Resistance: Fall of Man was Insomniac Games' first FPS game, and one of the founding fathers of the fantastic quality of games that PlayStation 3 exclusives are now known for - released at launch, in Japan and North America in 2006 - landing on the shelves of European gaming shops about a year later. It was followed up with a different, but still great sequel in late 2008. Resistance 2 took many by surprise; some claimed it was an improvement of the Insomniac shooter formula, whilst many hardcore fans of 'Fall of Man' said that it strayed too far from the original idea of the first game. By the latter half of 2011, Resistance 3 was released, with Insomniac Games promising that it returned to the classic formula of the original part in the series, whilst retaining the positive aspects of the sequel. How did it all turn out?
Let's begin by analysing the graphics, and just how much the series has progressed in terms of the visual aspect of its level design. In Fall of Man, we had to fight through some very gloomy environments with a depressing atmosphere. It worked for the game's setting, but got tedious by the time we had seen so much of the same colour theory. The game was set in an almost post-apocalyptic England, so they definitely got the horrible weather right. In Resistance 2, we had to fight off hordes of monsters in the US. We were met with a generally more colourful environment and more diverse level design. It was definitely a step up from the first game, but it also forgot that it was meant to tell a sad story through its visuals too (as it predecessor did) and felt a bit alien when compared to FoM. It seemed like the series was struggling with finding its own identity, especially so when the tie-in game Resistance: Retribution for the PlayStation Portable returned to the more forbidding visual style of Fall of Man.
Resistance 3 finally gets it right, by combining the diversity and vibrancy of Resistance 2 with the dark and sorrowful flair of the first game. In addition, everything in the graphics department is improved from a technical point of view, as well as its artistic equivalent. Resistance 3 starts off in the southern states of the USA, with a mostly brown and orange palette. As the protagonist journeys further north towards his objective, the environments around him change to darker and colder scenery - which signifies both the shift in climate and the main character's increasing solitude. So, in short: his surroundings look stunning. Everything is also shown in a much grittier and realistic way, since the game finally shows the survivalist civilian perspective of the Chimera invasion, rather than that of the military liberator one. However, it is not just the environments and their atmosphere that have been modified to a better standard, but the characters, weapons and animations too. Simply everything looks better than it ever has before. Is the game as beautiful as Killzone 3? Maybe not from a photo-realistic standpoint, but it is still definitely one of the best looking games on consoles and quite special in its own way. Insomniac have finally given the Resistance series its own atmosphere. Much like with BioWare and their Mas Effect series, it took them three games - but both of them eventually got there, doing so in style.
The Resistance series has always been set in an alternate cold war background, where the world is invaded by hordes of monsters known as the Chimera - originating from Russia and rapidly tearing their way through the entirety of Europe, all the way to the Americas. The plot of the third game is a bit different to that of its brethren, as we no longer play as Nathan Hale, but one of his former squad members; a hardened man named Joseph Capelli. For reasons obvious to everyone who has played the previous game, Capelli has been dishonourably discharged from his duty. He vowed to stop fighting for as long as he could, fell in love, started a family and tried to survive by hiding from the Chimera. Four years later, the monstrosities attack Joe's town, after being unintentionally led to it by Dr Malikov - a Russian scientist who used to co-operate with Hale's squad of Sentinels. After a massive plot to freeze the entire planet is revealed by Malikov, Capelli bids farewell to his wife and son, having to embark on an epic journey to New York City in order to stop the Chimeran scheme.
Overall, it is an interesting tale - though not as interesting as that of its predecessor, even though more emotionally moving and with plenty of strong characters. There is nothing quite as surprising and unexpected in the game's story as there was in Resistance 2's ending, but there is one killer plot twist which comes close to it. Each personality is very well tailored, though there are a few side characters that could have been explored further. Some of the plot's elements are ripped straight from Half-Life 2, as are some of the game's levels, but Resistance 3 still manages to retain its own identity throughout, even if losing a bit of innovation in the process. Although the story of this game is slightly above average for a shooter, it is still quite standard fare, strengthened by some very likeable characters and its protagonist. As always, in traditional Resistance fashion, the backstory of the game and its setting are fleshed out through optional, collectible journals. The desperation of the battle for survival of the human species in a post-apocalyptic environment is captured just as well as it is done in Fallout 3, but not quite as strongly as it is in Metro 2033.
Of course, as with any atmosphere, the visuals alone cannot always hold it all up. A suitable component in the audio department is needed to back it up and enhance the ambience. Insomniac does this very well by incorporating a stellar soundtrack with its own unique melodies, distinct from those of the previous games in the series but matching in essence. Each piece of music fits the part of the story it is assigned to, be it a rhythmic thudding during a chaotic gunfight or a mellower tune played in the background of a calmer moment. The sounds of various guns and explosions used in the game are well-recorded, now giving the game a distinct sense of recognisability. The same applies to the voice acting, as each NPC and the protagonist are backed by convincing performances from their respective actors. On the whole, the quality of Resistance 3's audio design lives up to the rest of the game's features.
As it is has been with most of Insomniac's games (from Ratchet & Clank, right up to now), Resistance 3 shines the most with its gameplay and very clever weapon and enemy design. So, what makes Resistance 3 so special? What makes it stand out from the sea of all the other clichι shooters out there? Firstly, the health system - in that your health does not regenerate and you have to collect health kits yes, that's right, a truly classic gameplay mechanic that is generally not used in most modern shooters. Time and time again, it has proved to be an important ingredient of creating a challenging experience. Here it does so as well, making Resistance 3 a much more exciting game to play than many of its young relatives in the FPS genre.
Secondly, no limit to how many weapons you can carry. Once again, good old classic stuff; why should a game that doesn't try to be realistic ever limit you to carrying just two weapons? Well, Resistance 3 doesn't, and it only benefits from this. This is especially important when a game's arsenal is as massive and innovative as that of each part in the Resistance series. Moreover, the game doesn't treat you like a baby and assumes you're smart enough to take cover by yourself. There is no broken cover system put in place to hinder your progress.
Thirdly, it's the diversity in the game's design. Insomniac used to be known for their platformer series. One of the things that have always made the Resistance series great are the mechanics Insomniac have learned to use from their R&C series, then applied to the shooter formula. Here, it is the fantastic enemy design. There are various distinctive types of Chimeran troopers. From the generic, yet fearsome Hybrids - to the advanced Steelheads; from the fast and creepy Grims - to the terrifying, giant arachnid-like Widowmakers; some of these are new, some of these are old, but there has never been any shortage of variety in the fearsome adversaries of the Resistance series, and its third iteration is no exception. Instead of having just one boring type of opponent who shoots back at you, the game mixes it up with a range of organic (as well as some larger mechanical) hostiles who employ different tactics and utilize different weaponry to fight you. This ultimately makes the game more thrilling.
Thankfully, the assortment of guns given to the player to confront the packs of Chimera is just as varied and powerful. Older weapons return, like the HE .44 Magnum (a revolver that fires explosive rounds), the Bullseye (an alien assault rifle which can 'tag' enemies), the Auger (a weapon that can shoot through walls), the Marksman (a three-round firing carbine, which deploys an automatic turret with its secondary fire) and many more. A few new weapons are also introduced. Among them are the huge sledgehammer and the Mutator - a chemical, man-made weapon that fires a biohazard which causes bulging cysts to appear on an enemy, effectively turning them into flammable land mines. There are many other firearms, all just as creatively designed as we have come to expect from the great minds at Insomniac.
What of the game's multiplayer component? In recent years, everyone has come to expect that every singleplayer shooter of up to 10 hours in length has to have great online multiplayer, but that is not the case with Resistance 3. For some bizarre reason, the awesome competitive multiplayer of Resistance 2 that allowed up to 64 players to duke it out on large maps has been completely changed for the worse. Now we have more close-quarters maps that allow only 16 players to play on each map. The gameplay and stat progression, as well as almost everything else about the MP, has been completely CoDified. It's a step backwards for the Resistance series, in terms of its online features. There are a few unoriginal game modes and generally nothing that great to stand out from the generic Call of Duty clone. Even the extensive co-op features of Resistance 2 have been critically reduced.
Thankfully, PlayStation Move support has been put in place to increase replayability. How well does it work? Well enough. There are some awkward moments if you want to do some of the other actions besides shooting and moving, but the motion controls are very responsive and it's very fun to use the motion controller, especially so if you have a gun accessory that allows you to point and pull the trigger as you would on a real pistol or rifle.
Now the time has come to summarize what makes or breaks Resistance 3:
GAMEPLAY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
An awesome singleplayer campaign that mixes plenty of classic gameplay mechanics, great level design and stunning set pieces is more than enough.
STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
Everything runs at a mostly consistent frame rate, with no screen tearing or graphical glitches and only a few gameplay bugs; two of which forced me to load my game.
STORY - 7.5/10 (Good)
It is an interesting tale, with a relatable protagonist and supporting characters, but nothing quite outstanding enough to stand high above other shooter stories.
GRAPHICS - 9.5/10 (Incredible)
Some very well crafted graphics, a developed art direction and an engaging atmosphere make Resistance 3 one of the best looking Sony exclusives.
SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
A soundtrack that reinforces the strong atmosphere and gives the game its identity, captivating voice acting and believable sound effects add up to make outstanding audio.
LONGEVITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
The campaign takes around 7 hours to complete (though that can easily stretch to 20 hours for completionists, spanning multiple playthroughs) and although the disappointing online multiplayer will not keep you entertained for long, there are optional co-op features and full PlayStation move support that extend the game's life.
Ultimately, Resistance 3 is an outstanding game. It begs for an even higher rating, because its singleplayer is truly amazing, but is denied a 9.5/10 due to its forgettable multiplayer and short campaign, as well as some very few but still noticeable hitches along the way. Furthermore, it lacks originality in its level design. It really does return to the classic formula of Resistance: Fall of Man, whilst keeping most of the good aspects of Resistance 2 - but at the cost of great online multiplayer. How does it compare to its main competitor on the PS3, the amazing Killzone 3? Well, it's certainly not as polished but more ambitious. It is better in terms of story and singleplayer, but worse when speaking of multiplayer and graphics. Overall, it stands on an equal footing with Killzone 3. It truly is a grand game, capable of satisfying fans of both the first and second entry in the series.
OVERALL RATING - 9/10 (Outstanding)
I hope you enjoyed reading this review. If you thought it was good, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/resistance-3/user-reviews/802969/. The next review I will post will be of Red Dead Revolver for the PS2. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
I know, it has been a while since I blogged or reviewed, but I've been busy. I'm still writing my book, I turned 16 on the 27th of October and I got plenty of cool prezzies.
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM - DAWNGUARD - For PC - Review by Bamul
Dawnguard gave me a reason to go back to Skyrim, which was enough for me to accept its flaws and embrace its strengths.
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Surprisingly good"
Bethesda Game Studios have always been known for their great, open world, role-playing games with massive worlds to explore and plenty of things to do while you're there. However, the tracked record of quality of the downloadable content that they have released for some of their games is mixed. From the glorious madness of the Shivering Isles to the ridiculous absurdity of paying for horse armour, Bethesda have both succeeded and saddened time and time again. As if it wasn't already huge enough, the developer has decided that the world of Skyrim has to be expanded through more DLC. Originally, they had planned expansions comparable to that of Shivering Isles - so you can imagine how disappointed I was to hear the word "DLC" coming from the mouth of Todd Howard. As always, I refused to succumb to the seduction of Bethesda's promises, and my wallet thanked me for it at first. Funnily enough, I received The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard as a birthday gift. Now that I have been given a chance to experience its quality (or lack thereof) for myself, let's see if it is truly worth the price of £14 or $20.
The story revolves around the return of Vampire Lord Harkon, the leader of clan Volkihar, who seeks to end the sun by using the Elder Scrolls; executing an ancient prophecy, thus creating a world where vampires dominate all. As soon as the main quest of this DLC begins, the player is introduced to the Dawnguard - a reformed order of vampire hunters who strive to destroy the bloody menace of Harkon and stop the prophecy from turning into reality. Once the first introductory sequence of questing is completed, two important things happen: firstly, we are acquainted with one of the best characters to appear in any Bethesda game - and secondly, we are given a choice whether to join the pureblood vampires (therefore becoming one of them) or continue working for the Dawnguard.
Either way, the plot itself - although very interesting - is nothing extraordinary. However, Serana (an NPC and companion who plays a crucial part in the story regardless of whose side you pick) and her constantly evolving relationship with the protagonist makes everything even better. This is also one of Dawnguard's biggest stumbles - as the quest itself ends very abruptly & suddenly, Serana's unique dialogue finishes in a similar manner and her fascinating relationship with the player is not taken any further.
Assuming the player has chosen to ally her or himself with Harkon, she or he will turn into a pureblood vampire just like her or his bloodsucking brethren. This is something completely new in the Elder Scrolls lore, which has not appeared in any of the previous games. As a pureblood vampire, the player can change into a Vampire Lord, where your appearance, stats and powers are all affected. In Vampire Lord form, the protagonist is transformed into a tall, grey, muscular and gargoyle-like figure with wings. As a Vampire Lord, the player can hover above the ground or walk, by using the sneak key to switch between the two modes of movement. When hovering, you can use two spells; one for draining life energy and the other for reincarnating dead enemies to serve as your minions. When walking, you can use the Vampire Lord's deadly claws to rip your enemies to shreds. There is also a perk tree for these new vampiric powers, which comes with some additional bonuses.
Werewolves are also treated to their own perk tree, but it's no secret that the Vampire Lord is the star of this DLC, so doggies don't get anything else. This may sound very disappointing to gamers who play as werewolves, and it is, but fortunately there are plenty of opportunities for the player to switch from lycanthropy to vampirism. Yet even if you choose not to do so, you can still experience most of this DLC's spoils - including the entirety of the quest and adventuring with Serana, but from the Dawnguard's point of view. Still, improving the Werewolf transformations would have certainly been a welcome feature.
Another important element added to the world of Skyrim by the Dawnguard DLC is the inclusion of crossbows. Crossbows are fantastic weapons that feel more powerful & satisfying to use than normal bows, with their own unique set of animations. At the beginning of the quest, you are given a crossbow and a few bolts as ammunition. If you side with the vampire slayers, you may choose to pursue a series of side quests from a member of the Dawnguard, which will eventually yield the most powerful iterations of enhanced crossbows and exploding bolts. Crossbows have not been seen in a Bethesda game since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, so they are a welcome addition to the world of Skyrim and definitely one of the DLC's stronger points.
Things that made me enjoy playing through Dawnguard very much were its environments. As it was with most of the DLC released by Bethesda in recent years, many of Dawnguard's locations are located outside the boundaries of vanilla Skyrim's map. However, unlike Point Lookout or Mothership Zeta, Dawnguard tries to integrate itself more with the default gameworld - so the quest may even take you to places you have already been to. Be that as it may, the completely new locations separate from the open world of the original game are the most exceptional.
The Forgotten Vale is a perfect example of that; it is a smaller open world cut off from the land of Skyrim. It shows you the remains of an ancient civilization, with some extremely beautiful sights, and allows you to battle with two dragons at the same time - introducing a new gameplay mechanic, where the dragon dives underwater (breaking through the icy surface) and ruptures through at a different part of the lake. Lastly, the Forgotten Vale contains within itself an interior setting with possibly one of the best & most dynamic boss fights of any Bethesda game. Apart from this, Castle Volkihar and Fort Dawnguard are both spectacular structures of stunning size and awesome architecture. Each of these locations has a set of new NPCs; some unique, some filler; some friendly, some hostile. With all of this also come new items and equipment, though nothing quite powerful enough for level 50+ characters.
Here comes the final question: is Dawnguard really worth the money it costs? Well, that's a tough one to answer. Dawnguard does many things right: it finally gives the player a worthwhile reason to turn into a vampire, introduces an amazing character with clever and entertaining dialogue, brings back crossbows and does so in style, offers a quest of decent length and shows us some gorgeous environments. However, for almost everything that it does well, there is an area where Dawnguard stumbles: werewolves are treated unfairly, both the quests and the relationship with Serana come to an unsatisfying end, plus there is not much to reward higher level players with besides the experience itself. Furthermore, the quests provided by the DLC do not take that long to finish. Depending on how many of the side quests you will want to finish, Dawnguard might take anywhere from 5 to 15 hours to complete.
In the end, the fact that Dawnguard gave me a reason to go back to Skyrim was enough for me to accept its shortcomings and embrace its strengths, but that may not be enough for some.
OVERALL RATING - 7.5/10 (Good)
If you liked this review, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-dawnguard/user-reviews/802431/Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you want to. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.
Before I get on with this, can I just say that I'm really a bit angry that no one posted on my last blog post. Okay, I know it was long, but it was... special. It was mentioned on the Chalk Talk community feature (because, apparently, it was so great). I'm really proud of that, but no one else seems to care, which is... kinda depressing. I think I may also be the only person who read other peoples submissions for the feature.
Anyway, enough about that. I played Slender and it was so unexpectedly bad that I had to write a review of it... Yes, I'm serious. So here it is; below that line. Enjoy!
SLENDER - For PC - Review by Bamul
How can a boring, badly executed and predictable game even hope to scare me when I know what is going to happen?
Time Spent:10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:"Boring"
Just a quick notice: this review is slightly different from my usual work.
Like many other people, I heard about this game when it was recommended to me by a friend. He wanted me to play it and see my reactions, assuming that it would be hilarious to watch. I thought it was a good idea, agreed and downloaded the free indie title called Slender. I thought Id launch it up and play it once before recording anything - just to see what I actually have to do, what Im up against, etc. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed with what I experienced. My expectations were not that high; I know that an indie game, made by one person, has certain disadvantages due to resource & budget limitations. Sadly, this game has almost no redeeming qualities. However, if you really want to try it because youre wondering if it could scare you, then feel free to read on and find out if it will.
The gameplay of the game is a rather simple idea that has plenty of potential, but ends up being terribly executed. You play as I dont really know who you play as, but that doesnt really matter. You play as someone, and that someone is stuck in a forest during a pitch black night. The only item you have with you is a flashlight, yet even that has its limitations. Your goal is to collect eight pages of notes scattered throughout this woodland area, whilst trying your best to evade a dark entity known only as Slenderman. For those who dont know: Slenderman is a mythical creature that was formed by the dark depths of the internets, as part of a photoshop contest which aimed to scare gullible individuals using digitally altered photos with disturbing backstories behind them. It was later twisted into many different and hilarious memes, but many still reinforce its dark roots of fictional horror.
The gameplay itself is not very well thought out. The walking speed of the player character is slow, sluggishly-paced and unrealistic. Its like the protagonist is constipated or both of his or her legs are broken. Obviously, it was put in to make the game more challenging and frightening, but in the end it just doesnt work and ends up being an annoying & unnecessary feature. Although there is an option to jog, it is surprisingly relaxed and somehow pulls the light beam of your flashlight down to the ground, where it remains steadily poised for the duration of the slightly-accelerated-walk. Therefore it is just as frustrating, since you cant see where you are going. Your flashlight gradually loses power depending on how long it is turned on, but this is barely noticeable and has almost no effect on the gameplay. It feels more like a feature that was put in for the sake of just being there, even though its almost non-existent in practice.
At the beginning, your enemy does not chase after you or reveal himself properly until you find the first page (or take too long to find it); things really only start getting a tiny bit tense after you find two pages. With each page found, the music gets creepier and your pursuer gets more obnoxious. This sounds like a good idea on paper, but it is horrendously executed. Basically, whenever you turn around & look back, Slenderman will probably be behind you. Chances of him being there increase with each page of scribbles you collect. The longer you stare at him, the more static appears on the screen until he eventually moves closer and kills you. Game over. If you take your time searching for the next note, there is a chance that the camera will forcibly turn towards Slenderman and you will die again. Occasionally, when you turn around and dont expect him to be there, Slendy will appear - a short and frightening tone of music will play resulting in the famous, so-called jump scare; the cheapest type of fear available. However, most of the time when did this happen unexpectedly, I thought there was more humour than terror in it because (in this game) Slenderman looks like he is made of Plasticine.
In the end, its not hard to realize after playing it that Slender is a fairly easy to complete, uninspired and generally more boring & frustrating experience rather than a fun horror game. There is nothing entertaining or terrifying about it. Its not the fact that its an indie game which pulls it down. It is the fact that its a promising idea which is badly fulfilled and designed. Its a shame that this is an independent production, because its low development values provide no redeeming qualities. Actually - other than the idea around which it is based on - this game has no saving merits. Then is it worth the download? While its true that many people found Slender creepy, I honestly dont know why. This game simply isnt scary... at all. If some friends are coming over to your house and youd like to see if you could MAYBE scare them by using Slender, then feel free to download it. After all, its completely free. If not, then its best to not waste space on your hard drive with an application that fails to do what it aims to do.
OVERALL RATING - 3.5/10 (Bad)
If you liked this review, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/slender/user-reviews/800087/platform/pc/. Don't hesitate to leave a comment, if you want to. Also, I would really appreciate it if more people could go back and check out that previous blog post of mine (it cost me a couple of sleep hours before a school Friday). Anyway, thanks for reading and have a nice day!
Greetings, fellow GameSpotters. I thought it was about time to get involved with GameSpot's exciting new community feature - the Chalk Talk, and so here it is... I bring you: the first manned exploration of music in video games. Well, maybe not the first, but hopefully (after you have finished reading this short editorial) you will walk away with some additional knowledge about how much of an impact music can have on what we experience whilst playing games and will realize how boring some things are without anything playing in the background. Also, please note that most of the examples I have used throughout are fairly modern games. This was done to ensure that as many of you - the readers - can identify what I'm talking about and recall some of these moments from your own experiences. Enjoy!
Firstly, lets analyse the most basic use of music in creating atmosphere; which is setting the scene. It is crucial to set the scene properly, so that the player knows what type of game they have paid for and sat down to play. Of course, it is similarly important to hook the player in at the very start - but without giving too much away. If a developer manages to craft something truly unique and worthy of merit, then their game will most probably have our undivided attention for the duration of the entire introductory sequence. Irrational Games manage to do this exceptionally well in one of their games, namely BioShock. We see pretty much the whole game from the first person perspective of the protagonist and the first section is no exception.
We are flying over the Atlantic Ocean on a passenger plane. As the first thirty seconds of the game are gone and Jack finishes his speech, the plane crashes. The screen fades to black. Then we are immediately thrown into a chaotic scene, as the main character struggles to save his life and swim up to the surface. We see many things happening on screen. Some luggage, a high heel and a necklace (among other items that were once personal belongings) are swaying in the water; an airplane propeller is violently spinning towards us and a fragment of the airplane's wing is speeding down to the seabed. As we desperately emerge from the waves, we hear explosions. There is fire all around us, as we witness the remains of our transport blowing up. We hurry to the only piece of solid ground... a mysterious lighthouse, in the middle of the ocean. Amongst all this mayhem, we hear no music - only the sound effects of events happening around us. Now imagine if all of this had a modern soundtrack with electric guitars and drums, as we are accustomed to hearing during the action-packed parts of blockbuster movies or many shooters. This would have completely spoiled what we are experiencing in this moment and would not have created any of the disorientation that it does. More importantly, our attention would not be fully dedicated to what we are seeing but also to what we are hearing.
As we get out of the seawater, walk up the stairs of the structure and enter through its steel doors, the silence is broken. Bright lights illuminate the interior and a mellow, 1930s-themed tune starts playing. This place feels alien and the music being played disturbs us even further. We step into an old-looking bathysphere, which seems like the only way to go forward. Pulling a lever causes the bathysphere to descend underwater. As it goes down, our view through the glass is obscured by a sheet of paper and a presentation is projected. We hear the sound of a man's voice, who introduces himself as Andrew Ryan. He tells us about his views of world society and that he decided to choose something different. Violins start playing subtly in the background. They speed up and become frantic as Ryan's speech reaches its main topic. The music makes us anticipate what will happen next, it gets us excited and then it definitely doesn't leave us disappointed. The image disappears; we are once again allowed to see through the glass. The music reaches a high point, and then bursts into the power of an orchestra. It slows down but does not stop. What we see before us is amazing - the melody only reinforces this serene, unknown and mysterious beauty. Rapture is Andrew Ryan's dream, an underwater city. However, the sorrowful and unsettling music tells us that something is not right. Later we find out the brutal reality of this dystopian place for ourselves.
Do you see how many different techniques Irrational used to emphasize the various feelings the player is supposed to feel at the game's opening? It is like they have complete control over us. Obviously, the stunning visual art style and plot that also helps in setting the scene is present in BioShock and not all games have that. But imagine how badly this could have been executed if none of the audio was used at those times, or a completely different soundtrack was picked. Irrational Games manages to hook us in from the very beginning, but they don't reveal almost anything. The game has so much more to offer beyond its grand introduction. However, it is not all about the first few minutes. Once the developer makes such a huge impression on us, we expect a comparable standard of quality from the remainder of the experience. BioShock does that fantastically as well, but we are going to move onto another example that uses slightly more unconventional methods of keeping the atmosphere throughout the whole game. S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.
It seems that people have immensely contrasting opinions on what is or what isn't music. Some people say that there has to be a melody, whilst others simply dismiss anything they don't like as garbage that isn't worth of being labelled with that title. The truth is that there are many vastly diverse types of music. GSC Game Worlds (R.I.P.) used ambient music in their games, or filled most areas with different sounds instead of any melodies. The only songs you ever hear in the game are those in the radios at different stalker camps and in the credits after finishing it. Everything else is just a mixture of various noises, worrying sound effects and the occasional bit of the quiet soundtrack in the background. It's a very unusual combination that actually works. Clearly, this is because of Stalker's unique setting - the almost post-apocalyptic site of the Chernobyl Disaster, in an alternate world where the zone is expanding and many strange things are happening in it. This is quite possibly one of the very few games which use almost only ambient music and pull it off well. A frighteningly real and distressing atmosphere is created thanks to this very careful use of subtle sound design.
Naturally, most open world games use music to guide us on our journeys through their locations and in order to make exploring feel more adventurous or immersive. Unfortunately this does not always work; The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a perfect example of that. Oblivion is a great game and probably the most accessible open world RPG of its time, but it does not handle music as well as it should. Firstly, the soundtrack is basically divided into three sets of music: exploration, dungeon and others (the last category is used for cities, combat or special events). It's not the music that's bad, since it all sounds quite swell and suits the series. So there wouldn't actually be any problem, if each of those categories was filled with loads of varying soundtracks of different content. Sadly, they're not. What we got instead is a few, well-composed, but overly repetitive sound tracks that are supposed to belong in a game that is meant to be played for tens or hundreds of hours. If you played Oblivion for 100+ hours, then you probably understand what I mean. You can no longer tell any difference between any of the melodies, they all sound boring and it feels like there's a loop of one long type of music that never changes. Fortunately resorting to using almost only ambient sound effects (which is even more difficult to pull off without making the experience tedious) is not the only option. Other developers have managed where Bethesda have failed many times. In fact, they do in most cases. Two Worlds or other games of its kind may suffer from the same problem. Yet, on the other hand, there are sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption which manage to keep the open world gameplay and the appropriate atmosphere by using stellar music, without ever feeling repetitive in the audio department.
It is generally easier to create a more unique and involving soundtrack for a linear game than it is for an open world game (which is one of the reasons why BioShock was such an enormous success). Let's take a look at Metro 2033. Here we have a video game that is divided up into levels/missions/areas or whatever you want to call them. Some of them are strictly linear and leave the player almost no freedom (usually during parts where the plot, characters and narrative take priority) whilst others allow for truly non-linear gameplay and so many ways to tackle problems in a linear environment. Music plays a huge role in Metro, since it is one of the game's best qualities and it is put to good use. The soundtrack changes accordingly to what happens in the plot. This gives context to pretty much any situation in the game, strengthening everything else that is already excellent about the title. The music can slow down, speed up, change tone, change atmosphere and have an almost completely different structure at various parts since it is a linear experience - so everything can be crafted in a unique way for where the player currently is in the game.
Alright, I guess that will be all. I have only scratched the surface of what there is to say about music in video games. Music can do many things across a multitude of media, but gaming is a particularly interesting playground for composers (that goes especially for those who know more about the games they compose for). I wish I could discuss the impact music has on our emotions during the saddest moments of Metal Gear Solid and Mass Effect, or how an outstanding soundtrack can even make the mediocre story of Killzone 3 an enjoyable action flick. Unfortunately, I don't have the time. I hope you have learned something from this. Remember how much of an impact music can have on us and pay closer attention to what you hear next time you play a quality game... you never know what you might discover. Music could give you a wholly new perspective on what is happening on that screen.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
It's a shame that so few people have read my review of Space Marine, but I guess some games just aren't popular enough. Maybe this review will get more attention from yous - seeing as how Two Worlds has such a bad reputation. Speaking of which, the massive box that is the "Royal Edition" of Two Worlds II arrived at my house few days ago, so that's why I'm finally posting my review of Two Worlds - which has been ready for a while now. Enjoy!
TWO WORLDS - For PC - Review by Bamul
Hidden behind all the bland characters, unoriginal storytelling and technical problems, there is a really solid RPG.
Time Spent:20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:"Mixed reactions"
In 2007, a very small Polish developer released a video game called Two Worlds. Part of its marketing campaign was to make players think about buying it by comparing the video material in its trailers to the universally well-received RPG "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion". For a short while, Two Worlds was known as "Oblivion on steroids" soon after release - it became infamous for this reason (among others). Nowadays, many claim that it is the worst role-playing game of all time. But is it truly so? If you want to know the truth, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn what Two Worlds is really like and how drastically different the Xbox 360 and PC versions are respectively, which in turn lead to a lot of confusion after enquiries regarding the game's quality were made by gamers. Naturally, since this title is very similar to games like "Gothic 3" and the aforementioned Elder Scrolls IV, I will make plenty of comparisons between Two Worlds and these two games throughout this review. So, without any further ado, let's get to it!
Let's start analysing this game by looking at its most obvious and easy to describe feature: the graphics. Let me tell you already that Two Worlds is no technological boom. Both Oblivion and Gothic 3 were released a year earlier and look much better. Let's not forget that Crysis also came out in 2007. With that said, Two Worlds has dated visuals - at best. The PC version looks and runs much better than its Xbox counterpart, but it seems that the draw distance we are accustomed to on console games was left in the PC version with no way to alter it through the game's options menu. This is really disappointing and spoils the game's good-looking areas, sometimes even having a negative impact on the gameplay. Seeing foliage, better-looking versions of trees and enhanced environmental textures magically appearing around you as you travel onward is just a really ugly visual limitation that no one with at least a decent computer had to put up with for years now, but when you're riding a horse and a mob of enemies spawns right in front of you - it's then that this issue stops being a minor annoyance. Thankfully, the latter doesn't happen that often.
Character models, horses, creatures, monsters, weapons, armour and everything else look dated in one way or another. I'm not saying that it looks bad, it does have some good points, but it certainly does look like a game that was released by a studio with a very limited budget and small development team. On the bright side, there is plenty of variety in your surroundings. Environments change going south from the north of the map, starting at snowy mountains and rocky peaks, to woodlands and expansive grasslands. Head slightly west and you'll discover a dense bamboo forest, as well as a city, inhabitants and architecture of which were inspired by old Chinese culture. Going back on track and heading southeast, vast regions of the desert await exploration. There's even more to be found for the most determined adventurers. All of this has the usual fantasy charm with some unique Two Worlds atmosphere, but all the little details (such as some of the animations and most character models) look nowhere near as impressive. Fortunately, the PC version of the game has none of the performance issues that plague it on the Xbox 360.
The story isn't the strongest point of Gothic 3 or The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but this applies even more so to Two Worlds. The game is set in the realm of Antaloor, which doesn't really need a lot of description since - much like its environments - it's your mostly typical fantasy RPG land. The plot revolves around fallen gods and kidnapping. Well, to put it simply. You play as a nameless man; a tough mercenary whose sister is abducted by a bunch of mysterious bad guys. It's good that what a personal matter is for the protagonist turns into something much larger and is connected to his ancient heritage. Shortly after, it is revealed that your sister's captors are seeking to resurrect the evil god Aziraal. This story isn't actually that bad, but the game doesn't do much in order to introduce any original form of narrative (or make you care for the good guy's sister). Of course like with any decent open world RPG, there is much to discover and many side quests to complete beyond the main storyline.
When it comes to the good old type of adventuring we have seen in other action role-playing games (where you slay mighty beasts and pick up loads & loads of loot), Two Worlds really does shine. Although it has been compared to Oblivion the most, it actually feels a lot more like Gothic 3. There is an optional first person mode, but the game is best played from a third person perspective and when you engage in combat, the camera switches to a view behind the back of your character anyway. The combat system itself is very well-developed. There are various categories of melee weapons, each dealing a different kind of physical damage. You can also dual-wield any one-handed weapons that you find (something that was certainly missing from Oblivion). Ranged combat with bows feels a bit underdeveloped, but it can be effective as well. Weapons can be enchanted in many ways and no recharging is required. Magic is definitely the most powerful of the three kinds of combat (and there really are some nice spells, much more awesome and less generic than a lot of the spells I've seen in Oblivion or any of the Bethesda games for that matter).
The map of Two Worlds is very large, definitely comparable to that of its two competitors but not necessarily bigger than either of them. Like I've said earlier, it's not all boring green hills, and each area has its own few enemy types. This is something that reminds me of Gothic 3 quite a bit, since that game had achieved amazing environmental variety (both with its flora and fauna), and it seems that if Two Worlds followed Gothic's example even more closely - its set of creatures and plant life would have been even more diverse & impressive. Instead, there aren't that many enemy types but there are some that roam in particular places, whilst others are exclusive to other areas. Something that is very unusual about this game's world is that its enemies do not respawn. Few games do this. Now you may be thinking that the world must feel quite empty after a few long adventures in Antaloor, yet surprisingly that is never the case. Two Worlds has such a densely-populated map that it still feels alive even after many hours of play but that one camp of bandits you remember destroying will now always be desolate. So it's a nice system that still leaves plenty for you to do, without making you feel like your battles have no impact on the game's world.
As expected, you will want to discover ways of speeding up travel and there are two different options for this. One: get a horse, and two: use a teleport. Horses can be a big part of your experience with Two Worlds, but only if you want them to be since they are completely optional. This is good, because horse-riding feels a lot more realistic that it ever did in Oblivion (but that also makes it a lot less convenient). It takes time for your horse to reach its full speed and it also can't stop instantly before slowing down first like a real horse would. Your horse also won't ride up or down overly steep slopes (once again, simply because a real horse would be incapable of doing so). So, for once, they've made an RPG where it feels like you are riding an actual animal and not some robot that is controlled by your mind. Of course, some will not like this since it can potentially limit exploration, but I thought it was handled very well and much more originally than most other games in the genre did it. One last thing about horses: mounted combat. Yes, you can now feel like a proper warrior as you ride past enemies on horseback; slashing at them as you pass them. It makes you feel badass and it works unexpectedly well. It's also worth noting that this feature was absent from Two Worlds' nemesis: "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion".
Exploration and questing bare the most resemblance to Gothic 3, as do the game's conversations. But the stories and characters that are associated with each side quest are almost always quite bland and uninteresting. It's even worse when the voice acting comes into play, though not the absolute worst I've ever heard in any game. Every NPC speaks using a fairly believable mixture of Old English and the modern language. This wouldn't be so bad if the characters didn't sound ridiculous or too monotonous. Fortunately, the rest of Two Worlds' sound effects are decent to say the least. Music stands out among the game's other unimpressive audio features, as it suits each area very well and feels somehow unique to this game rather than being overly similar to that of others as many of its other features do. What a shame then, that Reality Pump made the exact same mistake which was made by Bethesda when they were creating Oblivion, as there are few different soundtracks and not enough to prevent them from feeling repetitive after you have spent ten or more hours exploring Antaloor.
By now, it should be fairly obvious to you that most of Two Worlds' features are either mediocre or worse - and one of its few redeeming qualities is the gameplay itself (which thankfully makes up the majority of the game). It's not just the combat and the exploration though, but the management of loot as well. You will find a lot of stuff in this game; definitely much more than you'll ever need. If you are into all this loot malarkey like me, then you will want to carry as much junk as you can and sell it all for gold. Two Worlds gives you plenty of options for this.
Obviously, like with most RPGs, the amount of weight your character can carry increases as you level up. In addition to this, you can use your mount as a means of carrying more. One very cool feature is how the game lets you merge two objects of the same type together, in order to create a more powerful version. Physically it makes absolutely no sense, however from a gameplay standpoint it's an awesome feature which not only lets you carry more second-hand goods for trade, but also keep the coolest looking gear by upgrading it and not having to switch to something else as often as you normally would in other RPGs. Unfortunately, if you're determined enough, it can be quite easy to make yourself overpowered with this useful tool. This game also has an awesome alchemy system, which allows you to mix all the different ingredients you have gathered on your travels to create potions and traps. Saving recipes for later and naming your creations is really fun and very useful.
I almost forgot to mention another very important way in which Two Worlds mirrors Gothic 3, which is the fact that it's a classless action role-playing game. Unlike in Oblivion, there are no classes to limit you. This structure has already proven to be superior to a class system, since it gives much more freedom to the player and allows you to play in more unique ways without being restricted to a certain style. Attributes are still here though, so - traditionally - strength dictates your bonus to melee damage dealt, willpower affects the amount of mana available for casting spells and so on. Passive skills which increase your effectiveness in fights and active abilities which dish out even more damage or trap hostiles can be learned as well; be it from trainer NPCs or when levelling up. All of this would have worked even better, if the game was built to be more challenging.
Lastly, the game has a multiplayer component. This is where you can create a more unique character, since you can play as a female here and are not limited to just a male lead. In theory, playing an open world role-playing game sounds awesome but unfortunately, it is not executed as well as it could have been. What you end up with is a mini MMO. You get the same gameplay as you had in the singleplayer, though on a smaller map with only some random fetch & kill quests. The game's online features are basically just a lot of wasted potential, since you don't see many developers even trying this with their RPGs and what we see here isn't as good as it could have been. I wish I could go into more detail about the free roam multiplayer mode in Two Worlds, but sadly I did not get a chance to experience it at its fullest because there's barely anyone playing it anymore.
In conclusion, it's time to rate each of this game's elements and give a final verdict:
GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10
Various features that were taken from other games and some completely new ones make for a fun & addictive experience.
STABILITY - 7/10
Although the worst technical problems have been fixed by patches, there are still plenty of minor annoyances to bother you.
STORY - 5/10
Bland characters only worsen an already uninteresting story, but it's still not the worst I've seen out of the generic fantasy types.
GRAPHICS - 6.5/10
For 2007, this game's graphics look dated at best and the crappy draw distance carried over from the console version plagues the charm brought by its diverse & interesting environments.
SOUND - 7.5/10
The voice acting is really quite bad (with only very few exceptions), but the music is definitely the redeeming quality here.
LONGEVITY - 8/10
It has decent length for an RPG of its kind, but the multiplayer won't keep you around for much longer than that.
Saying that Two Worlds is the "poor man's Oblivion" or the "poor man's Gothic" would be a good way of summing it up. However, it should be noted that developer Reality Pump's team consists of no more than 45 people (according to the company's Wikipedia article), and that Two Worlds was their first role-playing game. Both Bethesda Game Studios and Piranha Bytes have more experience in the genre and more money for their projects (the latter applies especially to Bethesda). So, not all that hate for the poor folks at Reality Pump was necessary. In the end, Two Worlds is a decent RPG that could have been a lot better. There are many superior games of this type out there, but since it's cheap and has plenty of content to offer, Two Worlds might be worth checking out for gamers who have ended their adventures in Tamriel and Myrtana as long as you buy the PC version, of course.
OVERALL RATING - 7/10 (Decent)
If you think this review is good and/or fairly accurate, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/two-worlds/user-reviews/799393/Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
So we got the internet back today and, as promised, below is my review of Space Marine.
WARHAMMER 40,000: SPACE MARINE - For PC - Review by Bamul
This is the thrill of being a Space Marine; seen from the bloodthirsty viewpoint of a frontline trooper.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line: Rocks
Relic Entertainment are a renowned developer on the PC, partially thanks to their commercially and critically successful Dawn of War series - set in Games Workshops Warhammer 40K universe. To this day, there have been very few attempts made by other studios to create their own Warhammer 40K video games, but not only because Games Workshop looks after its licence, also for the reason that no other Warhammer 40K game was ever deemed as successful as what Relic made. It comes as no surprise then that the newest game set in this violent franchise was left to those who do it best, and that new game is called Warhammer 40000: Space Marine. So, have Relic lived up to their title as the best developer in this branch and does Space Marine match the good standard of quality we have seen in their Dawn of War series?
As with most of my reviews, I often like to describe the games visuals first and thats exactly what Im going to do here. To put it simply: Space Marine is a gritty, technologically stable, good-looking game with impressive graphics. Going into more detail, its worth pointing out that there certainly are more beautiful games out there, but it should also be noted that the amount of enemies and the action you will see on screen in this game is both frantic & enormous; meaning that some of the more advanced visual effects had to be put to the side, if the game was to run with a steady frame rate on all three platforms. With that said - PC gamers should not worry about receiving a consolized port of a game, as that is obviously not the case here. Relic must obviously remember their roots as a PC developer, since Space Marine is exceptionally well-optimized for a multi-platform game on the PC. Actually, it is so well-crafted that most mid-range systems should be able to run it on maxed out settings without any problems whatsoever.
However, its not just Space Marines technological fidelity that stuns - its environments, characters, weapon effects, in-game objects and animations all look fantastic as well. Everything has the very distinct art style of the 40K universe, but the game doesnt try to create its own unique take on the appearance so its all still quite believable and theres a certain amount of realism in the visuals that only immerses further; at the cost of a more original form. Character facial animations are surprisingly complex for a third person action game with so much chaos on-screen, but theyre obviously not anything quite like the spawn of L.A. Noires extremely lifelike motion capture technology. Also, I have to say that this game has the best and most accurate depiction of the Space Marines power armour suits damn, they look badass.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. After all, believe it or not, there is a plot to all of Space Marines glorious mayhem and gore. Graia is a Forge World of the Imperium of Man (in other words: a planet that is devoted entirely to the production of military weaponry for the Human Empire). It is here that some of the Imperiums most prized weapons (the skyscraper-sized war machines called Titans) are made in the Manufactorum Ajakis. Unfortunately for the Empire, hordes of Orks launch an attack on Graia. The Liberation Fleet cannot risk the loss of an immensely valuable military asset such as the Titan Invictus, but their estimated time of arrival suggests that they may not get there in time. Thus, super soldier Space Marines of the Ultramarines chapter are deployed as the vanguard of the Imperiums might, in an attempt to weaken the enemy forces before the main fleet lands and to ensure the security of Invictus. Among them are Captain Titus (who is also the protagonist of the story and the player character), his trusted Sergeant Sidonus and a rookie marine named Leandros. Of course, the plot thickens when the Inquisition gets involved and a new enemy enters the scene.
To be absolutely honest with you, I was genuinely interested in this games narrative and its characters - which is much more than I can say for some other titles in the action genre. Also, it is obvious that the Space Marines are quite stiff as characters - but it should be remembered that the Ultramarines have always been known to be especially so, yet Relic have somehow managed to turn these soldiers into likeable personas. Some of the other characters are also very interesting, such as the initially mysterious Inquisitor Drogan and - of course - the star of the show: Lieutenant Mira of the Imperial Guard. She is undeniably one of the best supporting role female characters shown in recent games. She is strong, able to pull herself and her soldiers together even in the most difficult of situations, isnt shown as weaker than any of her comrades and isnt used as a love interest for any of the male characters.
But enough about the games plot, since we all know that Space Marines best element is its gameplay. Ive heard many angry fanboys claiming that this game is a copy of the famous shooter created by Epic Games, called Gears of War. Let me tell you already that what theyre saying is complete and utter rubbish. Firstly, the games dont even run on the same engine. Gears of War is powered by the Unreal Engine, whilst Space Marine runs on the Phoenix Engine - which is a heavily modified version of the same technology that was used to make Darksiders. Furthermore, power armour and the chainsword have been around since 1987 when Warhammer 40000 tabletop games first hit the shelves Gears of War was released in 2006.
Moving on, Space Marine is the exact opposite of GoW in terms of gameplay; since in it you play as the ultimate badass and you do not need rely on cover. Thats right, theres no need to hide behind objects to regenerate your health. Sure - you have some shields that restore when not attacked by hostile forces - but once those are down, you have a health bar that does not magically refill itself when you run away. Actually, Relic encourages players to stay in the battle and use the might of Captain Titus to its fullest. This is because the only way to replenish your health is by performing brutally satisfying executions on stunned enemies. However, its not all about mindless slaughter as it is crucial to perform these distinct killings at the right time (preferably when you are down to the last few and weaker or slower enemies), since every time an execution is carried out, Titus is still vulnerable to all other attacks. Surprisingly, this mechanic works exceptionally well. It combines the best of both worlds: the convenience and reliability of a renewing shield, with the challenge of restoring your health through some less traditional means.
Okay, so what about the combat itself? That seems awfully similar to Gears of War, doesnt it? Well - no, it does not. The Epic Games shooter is just that; a shooter. Space Marine, on the other hand, gives you the option to shoot your enemies, but melee combat is just as important and sometimes even more effective. It is also the best means of crowd control when you are overwhelmed by hordes of bloodthirsty, axe-wielding Orks. Gears of War does not put such an emphasis on fights that are up close and personal, whilst Space Marine concentrates mostly on combat that happens at short-to-medium range. In the end, it is this amazing mix of ranged and melee warfare that makes this game feel so unique and sets it apart from all other third person action games out there.
Lastly, any claims made to suggest that Space Marine rips off Gears of Wars visual style are also completely invalid. It seems that those annoying fanboys have got their argument the wrong way around. You see, its not Space Marine that profits from looking similar to Gears of War its Gears of War profiting from taking so much from the visual art style of the Warhammer 40K universe. Now I think we can all agree on the fact that Space Marine is not a clone of Gears and, if anything, its Gears of War that borrows a huge amount of elements from Space Marines original source material. Dont get me wrong; Im not hating on Gears, but saying that Space Marine is a rip-off is MADNESS - especially when theres so much evidence against that statement.
Nowadays, it seems that any shooter out there feels incomplete without a multiplayer mode because developers are so convinced about making short singleplayer campaigns. Space Marine has a fairly short campaign of no more than around 8 hours - plus a few hours more if you want to get all the trophies and in-game collectibles called Servo-skulls (which give some nice background on how the Ork invasion happened). The pacing and momentum of the singleplayer seem almost perfect, but thats still a fairly short campaign. Thankfully, some very addictive multiplayer modes have been put in place to engage the player for hours on end long after the credits roll.
First, however, lets talk about player progression and customization. Like in most other multiplayer shooters, players gain XP by playing online matches. As these experience points are gathered, players gain levels. Each level usually has some nice unlocks (such as a new weapon, loadout slot or perk). Customization is absolutely brilliant in Space Marine. Since in most modes you get to choose between playing as a Space Marine or Chaos Space Marine, you can modify the appearance of each one of your playable characters. Most armour is unlocked through playing competitively and carrying out armour challenges. Some absolutely badass options can be unlocked here and the colour of each and every piece of armour can be changed to suit your taste. Some additional perks can also be unlocked through these challenges.
The online part of the game is divided into two main categories: Versus and Exterminatus. Versus is a collection of various competitive multiplayer modes that we all know and love. Its mostly standard stuff, though the real hitter here is Seize Ground, which is your fairly ordinary battleground like mode where each team has to capture specific points on a map and hold them to receive points. Its nothing original, but its extremely well executed and somehow feels fresh.
On the other hand, theres Exterminatus which is a co-op horde mode. This one is also nothing new in the genre, but it is so well-crafted that it is most probably the best horde-based game mode that Ive seen in any action title so far. Players team up in a group of up to four players to hold their ground and carry out simple objectives on a chosen map, whilst armies of Orks are being thrown at them in waves. Every five waves, a new arena is introduced so theres always a nice change of environment to keep things fresh. This goes on until twenty waves are completed. After that, bonus waves are introduced - which throw even more crazy enemy types at you and your brothers-in-arms.
Overall, both Versus and Exterminatus add up to make one fully-featured package thats completely worth your money and will very likely have you playing the game for a long time. The only problems I really have with this part of the games design are how the Versus modes are not very accessible to new players and the occasional bugs in some game types. Its not the modes themselves that arent accessible, its the competition. Some of the unlocked weapons can give you a considerable advantage over newcomers. Still, those who stick around just a bit longer will unlock the same stuff anyway so its not that much trouble. As for the bugs; they are quite rare, though sometimes severe enough that youll have to quit the match and lose all the XP you gained during it.
Finally, it is time to summarize what Space Marine offers:
GAMEPLAY - 9.5/10
A seamless and masterfully shaped mixture of solid third person shooter elements and astonishing melee combat make it a blast to play.
STABILITY - 8/10
It seems that there are some minor glitches in the multiplayer from time to time, but the singleplayer is fully stable and otherwise theres nothing to be concerned about.
STORY - 8/10
Although its not master storytelling, Space Marines plot is a generally interesting tale with likeable characters that will probably make you wish for a sequel.
GRAPHICS - 8.5/10
Its no technological marvel like Crysis, Killzone 3 or Metro 2033, but its still a great looking game for this genre and it has plenty of aces up its sleeve.
SOUND - 9/10
Powerful voice acting, grand music and some very believable sound effects make up Space Marines audio elements; all of it is quite outstanding.
LONGEVITY - 9/10
A short yet satisfying singleplayer campaign, plenty of trophies and achievements to pick up, some really addictive multiplayer modes and a lot of rewarding unlockables will make you stick around for plenty of time.
All things considered, I have to say that Warhammer 40000: Space Marine is an action game like no other. Its unique blend of visual style and incredible gameplay makes it somewhat original and different from other games in the genre. Fans of Warhammer 40K - look no further. If you have been searching for a game that lets you experience the thrill of being a Space Marine, however for once not from the tactical and strategic aspect of the commander but the bloodthirsty frontline trooper viewpoint, then there is no better video game out there to fulfil your desires. Now if only we could see more species from the Warhammer universe in this game
OVERALL RATING - 8.5/10 (Great)
If you liked this review, please give me a thumbs-up at the following link:http://uk.gamespot.com/warhammer-40-000-space-marine/user-reviews/799002/platform/pc/I will post my Two Worlds review in a few days so that those who follow my blog get a chance to read this one first. Thanks for reading and have a great day.
EDIT: I apologize for the lack of apostrophes (again). GlitchSpot ate them (again).
Privet, GameSpotters! Unfortunately, we could not pay for the internet at my house anymore. I've been stuck without it for more than a few days now (that's why you probably noticed I haven't posted anything anywhere on the site). It's a shame this had to happen right at this time, with the Chalk Talk feature happening right now; I really hoped to get involved with that. I have no idea when we will get the internet again - but when we do, I'll inform you since I'll be able to resume my regular posts. At this moment, Im at a local library with my moms laptop and leaving soon.
So what have I been doing all that time without the net? Well, I got back into Two Worlds and finally finished it. I played a lot of Gothic 3 and found that I won't ever be able to 'finish' the game, because some of the characters who had the fire chalices are dead in my playthrough and have been so for a while now. I started learning (unprofessionally) how to read and write Cyrillic (it's really much easier than it seems). I've also went back to a book I started reading a long time ago, finished it just a few days before today. It's part of the "Metro 2033 Universe" series, a project started by the author of novels: Metro 2033 and Metro 2034 (which I have both read), which allows amateur/less-known writers to get known, by writing books set in the Metro universe and getting them released by Dmitry Glukhovsky.
The one I got is one of the few that were also translated to Polish, called "Piter" (when you translate the title from Russian). Its a fantastic novel which I loved even a tiny bit more than the original Metro books. This also inspired me to start writing my own book set in that post-apocalyptic world. I've already written five chapters (which consist of over 10000 words, according to MS Word). I'm really enjoying it so far and my mom is helping me with grammar and spelling errors... what? I know it's my first language, but I left Poland (and haven't been to a Polish school) since I was nine years old! I'm planning on writing 20 chapters in total, then translating the whole thing to English. Hopefully, it will be the first book that I've ever finished and it's going great so far.
Before getting back to my book, I've also managed to write two new reviews (one for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and the other for Two Worlds). Sadly, I won't be able to post either of them here until I get the internet back at my house. Until then - do svidaniya, comrades.
PS: I would type the greeting and the last bit in proper Russian, but GameSpot doesn't recognize foreign characters like these and they'd only show up as question marks.
STAR WARS JEDI KNIGHT: JEDI ACADEMY - For PC - Review by Bamul
Jedi Academy has absolutely amazing gameplay, a forgettable story and a baffling multiplayer mode.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: Worth playing
In 1993, a revolutionary game came out - it was called Doom. Its style of gameplay and visuals were so unique & innovative, that most other shooters that were released after it and were similar to it were instantly dubbed as Doom clones. It actually took a few years for people to replace the term with first-person shooter, and a new genre was invented shortly afterwards. Dark Forces was a Star Wars FPS, released two years after Doom in 95. It was one of the first few games of its kind that managed to improve the original Doom formula, whilst rising above the infamous title of clone and managing to be a great game in its own right. Then came a sequel, known as Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. It added lightsabers and an optional third-person perspective to the mix. Then LucasArts released another game, this time developed by Raven Software, called Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast - apparently the best game in the series. Well, unfortunately, I missed all of those games but I have picked up the latest entry in the series - Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, released back in 2003, and here I am reviewing it in a very retrospective manner.
To start off, its worth noting that in JK 3 you no longer play as Kyle Katarn. Instead, you take the role of his newest padawan; Jaden Korr. At the beginning of the game you get to customize your character. There are plenty of options, including species & gender - a well as some different selections of heads, torsos and legs. Fans of Jennifer Hale should rejoice, since she is the one who voices Jadens female version. Once you finish creating your character, you are briefed on the current situation through the usual Star Wars crawl intro. Ten years have passed since the Battle of Endor at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The New Republic has been formed whilst the remnants of the Imperial Army are trying their best to tip the balance of power in their favour in a desperate attempt to continue the fight. Luke Skywalker has opened his own Jedi Academy, to bring the Jedi back to their rightful place as the peacekeepers of the galaxy and restore their former glory.
Jaden, along with a number of other promising initiates, is on a shuttle to this academy to start his training and become a Jedi Knight. As fate would have it, the shuttle crashes not far from its destination. Whilst travelling to the academy on foot, Jaden discovers a new conspiracy against the Jedi that involves a cult of wannabe Sith. The plot thickens later on, but as youd expect from an action game set in the universe of Star Wars, its a fairly standard tale of good versus evil. The writing is decent and most of the characters are likeable, but in the end - the story just isnt quite as epic as it could have been, even though it does set the scene for some awesome set pieces and gameplay elements.
Whilst the game doesnt really shine in its narrative, its gameplay is absolutely extraordinary. Jedi Academy starts with a few short tutorial-like and introductory missions. Once you have completed those, you are given a little bit of freedom - in that a selection of different missions on various planets are offered to the player, which can be done in any order. These are mostly about Jaden investigating the cult and its associates. Once the majority of those are done, you are given the chance to go on the one remaining mission and continue later, or carry on through to the next main story mission right away. This is repeated twice until the end of the game, so its like the game is split into three acts of levels. Its nice to see some choice be given to the player here, but its how different some of these missions are that makes the game so great and how well each & every one of them is designed.
At one time youll be sent on a rescue mission to save some survivors of a starship that went down on a highly dangerous planet, yet upon crash-landing there you will find yourself stuck on a desert where giant worm-like beasts dwell under the sand. You will be forced to jump from one piece of debris to another, picking up a part needed to fix your ship and returning to insert the required object, and then back out into the madness to collect another piece - whilst trying your best to not lay a foot on the sand for longer than a few seconds. Sure, the setting isnt very original as the monsters are very similar to those encountered in Dune, but the whole situation allows for some nice and unique gameplay segments that involve no fighting but have all the intensity.
Other missions involve puzzles that require you to use different force powers to succeed. Stuck in an area? Use force sense to find the marked objects that are the clue to discovering your exit. You might need to pull some bricks out of a wall using the force; to create a way up. Or maybe its just something as simple as pulling a hidden lever or finding the enemy officer who is wielding the security key needed to open the door. None of these small problems are too difficult to solve, but they do break up the action nicely and add some diversity to the usual combat. Even if a mission involves nothing but fighting, the setting is usually exciting enough to keep you invested regardless. For example, in one level you have to make your way down to the front of a tram that is carrying a bomb as its cargo of course, the long vehicle is speeding through the skies of Coruscant; flashing past enormous buildings, and there are numerous armed mercenaries out to stop you.
Actually, in a way, its the combat that keeps you engaged in each mission - because its so fantastic. Like its predecessors, the game mixes third-person lightsaber combat with first-person shooter gameplay (though the player can also switch to a third-person perspective when using firearms). At the beginning of each level, the player is given his or her lightsaber along with a blaster pistol as armaments. The game lets you choose the two other firearms you want to bring with you, and what type of explosives you want to use on the current mission. More weapons can later be found and picked up; the game lets you carry as many of them as you want. Also, at a later point in the story, you have to select what type of lightsaber you want as the new one. You may choose to still carry just one saber but change your fighting style, or select a double-bladed one like Darth Mauls or even use two standard lightsabers instead. The hilt and colour of each blade can be customized as well.
There is a wide array of ranged weapons in the game and how they work varies quite a bit. Range, rate of fire, type of projectile, damage dealt and sound varies with each gun. Some of the iconic Star Wars arsenal is in included, such as the E-11 blaster rifle or the Wookiee bowcaster. There are also some completely new weapons, whilst others have appeared in previous games from the series. Ranged combat works the same way as it does in most shooters that run on the id Tech 3 engine. That doesnt mean its bad in any way; its still very solid but overall not that special or original. On the other hand, lightsaber duels with other force users are a completely different story. These battles can be jaw-dropping.
First of all, the acrobatics are even better than what weve seen in the movies. Lightsaber-wielding enemies will often roll over on the ground, jump onto higher platforms, run up walls or jump off of them and back to the fight, etc. Whats even better is that Jaden can do all of this as well. Furthermore, its not just how dynamic these duels are but how realistic they can be. Most of the strikes you make with your lightsaber are often parried or meet your opponents defensive blade. However, one well-timed and well-placed attack during that one second when your enemys guard is down can kill the opponent instantly. Its the best, most believable and accurate portrayal of lightsaber combat ever seen in video games.
Everything gets even better when force powers, such as choking your enemy or unleashing a chain of lightning on them, is added to the mix. In addition, there is an awesome sense of progression. At the end of each completed mission, the player can spend one point on a new ability (or to improve one that was chosen earlier). There are also some basic powers that improve naturally, after each act of the plot is completed. So as you are playing through the game, you will be able to pull off even more impressive stunts and perform even better moves with your lightsaber. It really does feel like Jaden starts off as a mere student and eventually becomes an immensely powerful Jedi Knight (or Sith Warrior, depending on one crucial choice that must be made at a later point in the story).
Okay, its time to summarize what this old title offers:
GAMEPLAY - 10/10
An almost perfect combination of first person shooter, third person action and platforming gameplay elements makes this game an absolute blast to play through.
STABILITY - 9/10
The patched version of the game has only a few insignificant bugs and some mostly minor graphical glitches that dont affect the experience as a whole.
STORY - 7/10
Its standard Star Wars hero & villain stuff, which shouldnt bother fans but may be a bit cheesy and could use a more complicated and original plot.
GRAPHICS - 8/10
With games like Max Payne 2 and Knights of the Old Republic being released in the same year, its no surprise that Jedi Academy didnt have the best graphics of 2003 - but its still a very good looking game.
SOUND - 9/10
From the voice acting and classic Star Wars soundtracks to the awesome sound effects that will send a chill down any nerds spine, the audio is outstanding.
LONGEVITY - 8/10
There is a multiplayer mode, but the singleplayer probably wont take much longer than 10 hours to complete on a first playthrough; though its possible youll want to play it again, as a character of the other sex and to make the other choice.
In conclusion, I have to say that it is the story that limits this games greatness. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy could have been a brilliant game had a more complex narrative been implemented, but everything else about it is great and its story isnt bad - its just quite clichι and nowhere near as outstanding as most of its other features. It is also worth pointing out that this game doesnt do a lot of new things, but instead tries to refine what previous instalments in the series have accomplished. In the end, any Star Wars fan will most probably love it and those of you looking for a break from the hordes of not-so-impressive new releases will likely find this game much cooler, in an old-school kind of way.
Also, the multiplayer well, Im not sure what the heck its all about. Maybe it became completely inaccessible to new players over the years, but I guess its good that theres someone still playing it.
OVERALL RATING - 8.5/10 (Great)
Thanks for reading; if you liked this review, please leave a comment and give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/star-wars-jedi-knight-jedi-academy/user-reviews/798158/platform/pc/ Thanks again and have a nice day!
EDIT: GAMESPOT Y U EAT MY APOSTROPHES?!
SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD - For PC - Review by Bamul
One of the most ridiculous, immature, entertaining and funniest games I have ever played.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line: Just plain fun
Saints Row 2 was one of the craziest games Ive ever played. While its plot had a serious tone, its diversions were hilarious and bloody, often disgusting. It was a generally awesome game that was loads of fun to play. Now developer Volition comes along with a direct sequel - Saints Row: The Third - thats even more bizarre. In this game, its not just the side missions that are silly, but pretty much everything else as well. Its characters are even more over-the-top, as is its plot. The Saints Row series has started out as something that tried to replicate the Grand Theft Auto style of gameplay, but with its own little twist added to it. With Saints Row: The Third, the trilogy has finally found a true identity of its own which is to be one of the most messed up games out there; and thats precisely what makes it so great.
In traditional Saints fashion, we get to create our own character. There are plenty of choices to be made here, but its not that important - as everything can be changed at a plastic surgeon after the game starts. Some of the options we get are which race we want our character to be and what gender. Unfortunately, this time we cannot go somewhere in between like we could with SR2, and we just have to stick with male or female. Instead, however, we are given a sex appeal slider that enlarges certain parts of your characters body - depending on which gender was chosen (the rest should be pretty easy to figure out). Theres no shortage of options to customize your characters face and body, though it does feel like theres slightly less of everything than there was in the games predecessor - yet its all adequate and still allows you to craft a unique-looking person or shiny, metallic thing.
Once you are finished playing around with sliders in the face and body sections of the character creation menu, you can go on to personality. Here we can select the main characters taunt & compliment (both of which can later be shown to NPCs in the game) and voice. There are three voice options for each sex, and then theres also the zombie - for those who want their character to answer everyone with moans and growls. Whats interesting is that your choice here will have an effect on what your character will say to other people in the game during conversations apart from the zombie, of course. Once you finish creating your character, you are thrown back into the games wild opening sequence (consisting of action-packed gameplay and cutscenes) that just speeds through and doesnt slow down for the first one or two hours of gameplay. Its a very exciting way to start your adventure in Steelport.
Thats right; the plot has the series protagonists venture into a completely new city. After the Saints have taken complete control over Stillwater (both physically & commercially) in Saints Row 2, they have become celebrities and pop culture icons. They decide to rob a certain bank, not knowing that it is owned by the Syndicate - a powerful criminal organization that controls gang life in one way or another in most cities. Pierce, Shaundi and the Saints boss (who is the player character) end up in the city of Steelport, the home of the Syndicates three main gangs and leader. As they are stuck in a new location with their bank accounts hacked, they have to start from the bottom and work their way up to the top to avenge a fallen friend and take control. But, as always, they will cheat.
It is unfortunate then that after the first couple of hours the game slows down to an almost sluggish pace. Its good that the developers took their time to introduce newcomers to the basics of a Saints Row title, show them around the place and present the various activities that can be done - but its a shame that it takes so long and those of you who played Saints Row 2 will likely find yourselves desperately wanting to get back in the action. Thankfully, the time the game takes to familiarize the player with its elements isnt that bad after all - thanks to its colourful characters (such as the pimp Zimos, whose spoken lines of dialogue are always auto-tuned; resulting in comical interactions between him and others). However, the pace is ramped up to an even higher level than it was at the beginning of the game once you reach a specific part of the main story. And once you reach that part, the game doesnt slow down once; its a romp right up until the very end of the plot.
The missions past the games introduction time are also exceptionally well designed, and this is where the game truly shines. There is a whole city open to freely explore with all sorts of optional activities to engage in, whilst the plot still offers the epic scripted events and set pieces of a linear title. Saints Row: The Third combines these two styles of gameplay almost flawlessly and leaves you with an absolutely awesome creation. Moreover, even though Im not a fan of pop/techno/rap music, I felt that the games use of songs from these genres was fantastic - it suited the events of each mission greatly and made some parts significantly more epic than they otherwise would have been (especially during that one part when you jump out of a helicopter and onto the roof of a penthouse, to Kanye Wests Power).
Like with most open world titles, your experience with this game doesnt have to end even long after youre done with its story; mostly thanks to the amount of customizable vehicles in the game and the numerous diversions available to the player. Some of the latter return from the previous game (such as: Tank Mayhem, where your goal is to cause damage to the environment and its inhabitants using a tank; or Insurance Fraud, where you have to throw yourself in front of speeding vehicles to sustain as many injuries as possible before the time runs out). Then there are also some new activities, like Trail Blazing (a racing mini-game ripped straight from Tron), or my personal favourite: Professor Genkis S.E.R.C. (Super Ethical Reality Climax) - an obstacle course filled with deadly traps and mascots that are out to kill you. If these and many other diversions are not enough to occupy you for tens of hours, then you may want to check out Whored Mode yes, thats right, W H O R E D, not the usual horde mode we are accustomed to in other games. Or even better: why not join a friend and start some chaos with him or her in the entire open world of the singleplayer game but with online, two-player co-op.
Alright, lets go over everything SR3 gives us:
GAMEPLAY - 9.5/10
The way the game is played is very similar to previous titles, though its new missions and madness to the max make everything even better & more fun.
STABILITY - 7.5/10
There are some occasional bugs which may cause you to restart a whole mission and some frame rate drops every now & then, however this is a mostly stable game.
STORY - 8/10
The plot and the characters are so over the top that its their absurdity which makes them so awesome and entertaining to watch.
GRAPHICS - 8/10
The games visuals arent anything special considering what weve seen on the PC before, but they still look great and are a definite improvement over Saints Row 2.
SOUND - 8.5/10
Most of the tracks used in the game arent my taste, but its the way that they are used and add to the experience which makes it all sound so impressive.
LONGEVITY - 9/10
There is tons of stuff to do for everyone, though chances are that you have played Saints Row 2 and most stuff beyond the main missions may seem a bit too familiar.
So, in the end, is Saints Row: The Third better than its predecessor? Well, its hard for me to say this considering the fact that Ive spent over 200 hours on Saints Row 2 - but yes, this sequel is overall the more unique game that has finally found its true identity as the king of everything that is sexual in the video game world. It is also a generally better designed game, both technologically (especially when compared to Saints Row 2s bad PC port) and in terms of its mission & character design.
If you are bored of all the serious macho stuff, those apparently realistic shooters or dark role-playing games - you just want to sit and relax in front of a game thats fun like no other - then as long as you are not offended by profanity, violence and kinky sex, there is no better candidate for you than Saints Row: The Third just dont go in expecting a piece of art or anything, because its the exact opposite of that in a good way.
OVERALL RATING - 8.5/10 (Great)
Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment and give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/saints-row-the-third/user-reviews/797916/platform/pc/. Have a nice day.
EDIT: Great, it seems that all the ' in my review were not replaced with ? this time, but completely devoured by GameSpot (or GlitchSpot). When are they gonna fix all this formatting crap?
STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC - For PC - Review by Bamul
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 100 or More Hours
The Bottom Line: Highly Addictive
The best Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game for anyone who is interested in story and characters.
I was so excited when I heard that BioWare were making a new game in their version of the Star Wars universe, set 3000 years before the movies. I?m not a fan of the MMO genre, but I loved the Knights of the Old Republic so much that I quickly got over the fact that Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced as an MMORPG - especially after I heard that every single line of dialogue in the game would be voiced and there would be a strong story supporting each player character. I?m also not a fan of monthly fees, so it took me two years until after the game?s release to make my mind up and finally buy it. I?m telling you all of this, so that you know you are reading the experiences with this game of someone who adores Star Wars, role-playing games and BioWare. I followed this game?s progress from the moment it was first announced and right up until it was released, so there was plenty of hype to deal with.
Let?s start from the beginning; where most MMOs let you create your own character, choose your class and customize your appearance. The Old Republic is set 300 years after BioWare?s KotOR games. The Sith Empire has returned, annihilated large parts of Coruscant (including the complete destruction of the Jedi temple) in a surprise attack and - to everyone?s surprise - ceased fighting after signing a treaty with the Galactic Republic. Obviously, here you get to choose if you want to ally yourself with the Empire or the Republic. This choice dictates on which first few planets you will be able to level up your character and which classes will be available to you. Each faction has four classes, with an overall total of 8. To keep the experience balanced and fair, each four classes on one side are a bit like twisted reflections of the four on the other side.
For example, the heavy ranged archetype of the Republic is the Trooper, whilst the Empire has the Bounty Hunter instead. A lighter ranged build is the Smuggler (who works for the Republic) and the Imperial Agent. The heavy melee classes are the Jedi Knight and the Sith Warrior, whilst their lighter versions that concentrate more on using the force rather than the lightsaber are the Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor. What?s great about these classes is that each offers a very distinct style of combat. Some are specialized in using heavy armour, whilst others use medium or light. Some can wield two lightsabers, others use a double-bladed one. Some use a sniper rifle; others use two blaster pistols etc. Each class also has its own unique story, and the style of storytelling varies with your choice. The Jedi Knight is your most typical Star Wars hero tale, so the Sith Warrior is a dark & twisted mirror image of that. The Bounty Hunter travels the galaxy for credits and competition, whilst the plot of the Imperial Agent is that of a spy movie and so on.
What?s absolutely amazing about these stories is that not only every single bit of communication is actually voiced - as promised, but you can also choose what to say in these conversations using BioWare?s well-known dialogue wheel selection; first used in Mass Effect. These choices also spread beyond your class story, to side missions. Things get even more interesting when you are in a group with other players, questing together. Everyone gets to pick what they want during conversations with NPCs, but only the person who rolls the biggest number will say what he or she has chosen. This is great and it doesn?t even break the alignment system. Since some choices will give you ?light side? or ?dark side? points (which is basically good or evil, in most cases), you won?t get penalized with the points of the opposite alignment if, for example, a dark player wins a roll when you chose a light option - you will still get the points for whatever you chose, even if you lost the dice roll.
Most of these choices aren?t that big. They won?t affect the next whole chapter of your class story, but you often get to decide the fate of some mostly insignificant side characters and this almost always changes the next one or two lines of dialogue. In side missions, your choices can have an even bigger impact and change the quest?s outcome. Even though these choices can?t be compared to anything as complicated as we have seen in The Witcher games and there almost never are any consequences, they help to develop your character?s personality thanks to the voice acting and make many tedious ?fetch? or ?kill x number of y creature? tasks much more entertaining and complicated than they would be in any other game from this genre.
Traditionally, BioWare has included companions here as well. Unfortunately - due to this game?s nature as an MMO - you don?t get to talk to them anywhere near often enough, unlike in BioWare?s singleplayer RPGs, though here they have a slightly different role. Their main purpose is to assist you in combat, but they can also be sent on missions to bring you crafting materials. This is very useful and quite original. They are a lot like ?pets? in other MMOs, but have so many more uses and everyone gets them. What?s even better is that they have some deeply developed personalities. Sadly, we never get enough time to talk to them properly apart from a few conversations aboard your starship and a couple of short & relatively easy side quests (which are unlocked once each companion?s affection is high enough). You can even start romantic relationships with some companions, but once again - it would have been even better if we could see more of that in the game.
Although the story, characters, dialogue, choices and classes make the game stand out from any and all competitors, its base gameplay remains very similar to World of Warcraft and its numerous clones. What sets it apart from those in this area is just the fact that - very much like WoW - The Old Republic takes the successful elements that were used in previous MMOs and refines most of them exceptionally well. There is still some content for those who have reached the level cap of 50 (which will be even better with future updates), but even if you feel that there?s not enough, then the varied stories and gameplay of the other classes should give you enough reasons to come back to the game long after you?ve finished all three chapters of one class quest. There?s even a pretty neat feature called ?Legacy?. You are allowed to create a name for your legacy (which is then shared amongst all characters on that server as their surnames) and form family or friend & foe trees connecting your characters in numerous ways. Once you unlock this ?Legacy? feature, you will start getting legacy XP along with your normal experience points. As you level up your legacy, you can reveal new bonuses (such as special abilities) that all characters in your legacy will receive, or even unlock new species to play as with all classes.
Of course, Star Wars would not be what it is without its awesome space battles. Fans may be surprised to hear that the interstellar conflicts in this game are rather? disappointing. With that said, they?re not bad either. They look absolutely spectacular; some of the most beautiful scenes are shown during these dogfights. Furthermore, these missions get more challenging and offer greater rewards as you complete & unlock more of them. This can be made a bit easier by upgrading your starship. So, that?s all swell, but what makes it disappointing? Well, every single one of these space battles is an on-rail shooting gallery. You have no control over where you?re flying; all you basically have to do is shoot, evade enemy fire & obstacles, let your shields regenerate and sometimes escort a transport shuttle or destroy the critical points of a space station using missiles. All of this makes it pale in comparison to the epic intergalactic wars we witnessed from the cockpit of a starfighter when playing Battlefront II, for example, where we were allowed to soar the cosmos freely - as long as we stayed in the designated area of fighting.
Nevertheless, those space battles can be quite entertaining, offer a nice break from the typical MMO gameplay and look utterly stunning. Everything in this game actually looks very good for an MMO of such scale. Each planet is a wholly different world, offering plenty of environmental variety and, well, it seems like there?s something for everyone. The red rocks & ancient Sith ruins of Korriban, the cyberpunk city night-life of Nar Shaddaa, the sparsely populated deserts of Tatooine, the frozen & desolate wastes of Hoth and so much more. The generally stellar soundtrack plays a large part in creating an original atmosphere for each place you visit. Hoth was definitely the most amazing region I?ve ever been to in an MMO. It?s a shame then that most of these planets are not truly open world. They are more like the environments in Dragon Age: Origins, though somewhat less constricting. However there are some exceptions to this, such as the uncluttered Dune Sea of Tatooine, or the vast expanses of Hoth? yes, I loved Hoth.
Okay, it?s time to sum up everything that this game offers and make a verdict:
GAMEPLAY - 8/10
There are some inventive touches here and there, but for the most part it?s just taking the standard elements of the MMO genre and refining them.
STABILITY - 8/10
Things may have been different at launch, but at the moment there are only occasional graphical glitches and that one annoying map bug that forced me to log out and back in to play every time it happened; no crashes.
STORY - 8.5/10
The plot can?t really compete with The Witcher, Knights of the Old Republic or any other RPG classics that are somehow similar, but the characters make it great.
GRAPHICS - 8/10
Visuals are unquestionably outstanding for an MMO, but shouldn?t strain any high-end or most mid-range machines so it?s not a technological revolution of any kind.
SOUND - 9/10
Some of The Old Republic?s best features are its soundtrack, voice acting and the usual Star Wars sound effects we all know and love.
LONGEVITY - 9.5/10
There?s loads of content to complete for everyone - although it may not be as much as some other MMOs, this might soon change with more expansions & free updates.
What it all comes down to is that Star Wars: The Old Republic is a great Massively Multiplayer Online game, and one of the very best ones out there that I?ve ever played from this genre. It?s the fact that for the first time you can say that you?re playing an MMO for its story and not get laughed at that makes it stand out from the others so much. Sure, many things that were present in Star Wars Galaxies (such as player housing or free roam space combat) are absent here, but - when all is said and done - the main problem I have with this game is that it?s what it is. How much more could have been achieved in terms of storytelling, if BioWare decided to create Knights of the Old Republic III? We could have all that brilliant & addictive content without having to stand the tedium of an MMO.
Nonetheless, being able to create your own character and play as him or her in the Star Wars universe with others is always fun. If you want to do that, not only is this game now your only option (seeing as how official SWG servers have been shut down), it?s also the best MMO for anyone who is interested in narrative and characters over boring statistics.
OVERALL RATING - 8.5/10 (Great)
Please don't hesitate to leave a comment if you want to and if you liked this review - I would appreciate it if you could give it a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/star-wars-the-old-republic/user-reviews/797647/. Thanks for reading and have a great day!
What's up, how's everyone doing? Today I just had my last exam for this school year, so I'm happy about that and also quite proud of myself that I managed to do more revision than I thought I would (though it was pretty damn painful). I have a review of Undead Nightmare for you today, enjoy!
RED DEAD REDEMPTION: UNDEAD NIGHTMARE - For PS3 - Review by Bamul
It's funny, camp, unoriginal, packed with content and quite repetitive.
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Surprisingly good"
Before getting on with this review, let me tell you now that I wasn't happy when Undead Nightmare was first announced. Red Dead Redemption was and still is a brilliant game. It had that almost perfect mix of intense gameplay, strong narrative, interesting characters, plenty of content and open terrain to explore. When I heard that they wanted to put zombies in it, I started raging. "Who would spoil one of the best sandbox games I've ever played, by dumping hordes of the undead into it?! That's a terrible idea." After playing this DLC, I am glad I was so wrong?
As soon as the game starts, it is easy to see what direction the developers decided to take - the classic zombie flick, with all the humour and camp, but set in the Old West; or, to be more precise, Rockstar's take on the Old West. John Marston returns to his home on a stormy night to be greeted by his beloved wife and son. It only takes minutes for the narrative to become cheesy and throw the first zombie at you. Of course, Abigail and Jack (Marston's wife and son) are the first to get bitten and become infected. Marston hogties his family, fortifies his estate and leaves to embark on a journey to find a cure for the plague. That's basically what you will strive to accomplish for the rest of the game.
The game's campiness continues throughout its story. One ridiculous persona is introduced after another, including even more twisted reflections of characters returning from the original game. I say 'ridiculous', but I mean it in a good way. Red Dead Redemption was an awesome game, though it was pretty serious with the exception of Rockstar's usual comic relief every now and then. Undead Nightmare is a completely different tale. It doesn't take itself seriously, it's a parody of itself and the zombie genre, yet it is also a critique of America - shown in a very subtle way. It will make you laugh during its hilarious cut scenes more than a few times.
What about the gameplay? Well, the core mechanics remain similar - it is still a third person shooter that utilizes the same engine as RDR. However, some new elements are thrown into the mixture. Firstly, the most common new enemy is the zombie? and to kill zombies, you "gotta shoot 'em in the head". In addition to this, there are no open shops left in the frontier, so ammo is much scarcer and must be obtained through other, more dangerous and adventurous means. To progress through the main story missions and lower the general population of the undead in a specific area, graveyards must be cleansed at certain times during gameplay. This is done through burning coffins (whilst fighting off groups of walking corpses).
Each town or settlement of any kind is now almost devoid of people, with the exception of a few survivors in each zone. These are known as safehouses, but they must first be liberated from zombie control. Even then, it is best to keep them from being overrun every time the undead return to attack; as these safehouses are the only method of fast travel and manual saving available to the player. There are also two fortress-like safehouses, which are surrounded by high walls and can never be overrun. All of this is a nice way of introducing some slightly more survival horror oriented gameplay features, but since the zombies don't shoot back, another important mechanic from the original game: cover, has become completely useless (unless you wish to fight survivors, which isn't really beneficial to anyone but your enemy - the hordes of the undead).
I'm glad to see that Rockstar has successfully managed to transform its beautiful representation of the old American Frontier into a deadly, rotten, carcass-ridden, frightening and remote place, plagued by a zombie apocalypse. After all - the original RDR had a very strong atmosphere, so it was vital for this DLC to develop its own if it was to be successful. Thankfully, it does this exceptionally well. In Undead Nightmare, the world is much less populated. Furthermore, it isn't just the humans that have turned into zombies. You can now find undead animals and undead mounts in the Wild West. Even the random world events have been changed to suit the game's new setting. You may now find strangers sitting around camps, eating the flesh of deceased others; relatives crying over the bodies of their loved ones, only to wait for the corpse to rise and feast on them; competitive hunters who found a new hobby and are willing to bet ammunition that they will shoot more zombies in an area than you will; and much more.
As for the audio - everything is still superb, though not as great as that of the original game. Voice acting remains impressive and the writing is really quite humorous to say the least. Red Dead Redemption has a phenomenal soundtrack, and whilst Undead Nightmare tries to preserve this astonishing quality in its own way, it ultimately fails to do so. Don't get me wrong, the music is still very good. It is actually nice to see that instead of just leaving the old soundtrack (which would have been unfitting for the change of climate), Rockstar tried to remake it with a twist of the horror atmosphere in it. It does sound quite spooky at times and matches what this downloadable content is about, but it also removes a lot of the epic melodic pieces of the original background music, leaving the player with a much less remarkable aftertaste.
So, where does it all go wrong? Well, thankfully, it doesn't all go wrong. But Undead Nightmare ends up being a fairly repetitive add-on that isn't quite as entertaining as the initial material. Missions are much less diverse and action-packed (some of them are nothing more than fetch quests). Side quests are enjoyable, but there are nowhere near enough of them to fully satisfy anyone's desires. Distractions, such as the hunting and sharpshooting challenges of RDR, return and also have their own little twist added to them - but they are much fewer in number and ultimately less engaging than the original content. Characters are funny and the plot doesn't take itself seriously - which is good, considering what this DLC is supposed to be - but this leaves little room for anything innovative or vastly different to other zombie shooters to flourish.
Let's go over this DLC's offerings:
GAMEPLAY - 7.5/10
Whilst the fun gameplay system from Red Dead Redemption remains partially intact, new mechanics are overused in ways that soon get tedious.
STABILITY - 8/10
Some of the problems of the game's engine are still here, but overall, Undead Nightmare doesn't suffer from that many technical issues at all.
STORY - 5/10
The humour and campiness of the whole situation are executed exceptionally well? this and the characters are the only things that save the game's plot from feeling too simplistic and unoriginal.
GRAPHICS - 8.5/10
Red Dead Redemption was spectacular. This DLC hasn't added in a lot of changes, apart from an overall darker tone and a gloomy yellow sunset. Some more new visual features would have been nice.
SOUND - 8/10
The voice acting remains great, although much more cheesy this time around and the changes to the music are creative, but fail to surpass the first soundtrack in quality.
LONGEVITY - 7/10
The main story won't take you much more than seven hours to complete; if you want to do everything, there's around a good twenty hours of content here for you - as well as some additional multiplayer modes to enjoy. Although this sets a new standard for DLC, it is much less than what we got in Red Dead Redemption and less than what full expansions for other games have brought us in the past.
In the end, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is a good addition to the RDR formula - but it also saddens me to say that it isn't much more than that. Rockstar Games obviously tried something new with this, and their experiment is successful - as they have managed to deliver a fun experience that is different to their usual products. It gives you bang for your buck, but there are some flaws packed in there as well. The Undead Nightmare Collection is a single, stand-alone retail disc that bundles together the "Undead Nightmare", "Liars and Cheats" and "Legends and Killers" DLC packs. It doesn't require a copy of Red Dead Redemption to play, but if you haven't played that yet, then you should go back and do so before buying Undead Nightmare. When all is said and done, Undead Nightmare is funny, camp, unoriginal, packed with plenty of content and quite repetitive.
OVERALL RATING - 7.5/10 (Good)
I actually finished this review a while ago, but with all those exams I just couldn't get around to posting it earlier than today. Anyway, if you thought this review was good, please give me thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/red-dead-redemption-undead-nightmare-collection/user-reviews/795770/. Also, don't hesitate to leave a comment - if you want to. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.
Watched this yesterday, so I thought I'd write up a quick review of it and upload it here... my first movie and video review (so cut me some slack!) Feel free to read it below, or watch the video version here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppg4r_zsF4Y
PROMETHEUS - (2012) - Review by Bamul
I just came back from watching Prometheus at the cinema. What were my reactions? They were mixed, yet overall very positive. I'm really glad to see that this movie didn't have to rely on Alien's old glory, but managed to stand on its own. With that said - I was a bit disappointed to find that the film put action before suspense & atmosphere a bit too many times. Still, it was frantic instead of suspenseful, which is good. Why good, you ask? It's good because it didn't try to be a carbon copy of the first Alien; it was its own movie (even though there was quite a lot of self-referencing; perhaps even a bit too much of it, at times).
I sat down in that screening hall not knowing what to expect, since I did no research prior to seeing the film - I only watched the trailers and knew it was a prequel to the first Alien movie. However, I definitely wasn't expecting something that was going to top one of Ridley Scott's first masterpieces (from 1979), and I was more than happy with what I received in exchange for not putting my hype up too high. In my opinion, that is the best way to watch this movie. Don't watch or read any summaries of the plot - even if they claim to have no spoilers. Don't read anything that even tries to explain the plot before watching it yourself. Furthermore, don't expect it to beat Alien or Aliens... that's just daydreaming.
This brings us onto another important topic the plot. What was it like? Well, it was decent. No master storytelling can be found here, but a clever and very well-written script that sets the scene for the events that take place in the film. Like I said before, Prometheus is different to Alien. It has a much faster pace. It has the mystery and some of the atmosphere, but much less suspense and serenity. This is probably another disappointing aspect of the movie. It just tends to rush onwards too much, leaving pretty much no time to show the audience just how foreign and enigmatic the cosmos still is to us, and likely always will be. Yet it still manages to create a masterful atmosphere surrounding the origin of the human race and their apparent extra-terrestrial creators. In the end, some of the questions that many of the old fans had are answered - with a dozen new ones to replace them.
When looking at the characters, I have to say that their qualities are uneven. In traditional Alien fashion, we have another strong heroine stepping in to take Ripley's place. Her name is Elizabeth Shaw. She shows some dexterity and amazing endurance throughout the events of this scientific trip; her character is well-developed and Noomi Rapace delivers a captivating performance to show this. On the other hand, we have a woman like Meredith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron) that is a slightly villainous and, although predictable, a quite interesting personality. She also shows everyone that she won't be bossed around by anyone. These two very important characters give the whole film a slightly feminist tone. Now this I am glad to see - especially considering the fact that we are living in such a sexist society.
Don't get me wrong; whilst those two female characters are great, they do not overshadow Michael Fassbender's stunning performance as the synthetic crewman David. His behaviour is so unpredictable and strange that it is fascinating. Unfortunately, all the other characters apart from those three are rather one-dimensional. Sure, there are those two English guys that provide some funny & occasional comic relief. Then there's also the pretty cool captain of the ship. But apart from that, the rest of the characters fall flat. Thankfully, they are all quite human and most of them are given just enough time before the end of the film to develop their personalities (even if only a little) for most of the audience to feel sorry for them when or if something would happen to them.
Then what about the effects? Well, you see, one thing that I love about many old cinema classics is the use of actual props and the building of physical sets. You know the actual stuff that actors can touch and see when the film is being made. Surprisingly enough, there is a lot of this in Prometheus. In addition to that: filming took place almost entirely on practical sets and on location in England, Iceland, Spain, and Scotland. Of course, this is all enhanced by some great editing. Also, more than a few special effects have been used as well - but they are not intrusive. Some look spectacular, others just fit in with the rest of the film astonishingly well. It's good to see that not everything is CGI these days, and when there is some of it, there are still people out there who know how to not overuse it.
The complete design of creatures and environments utilized in the film is fantastic. Giger's work & its influence can be clearly seen here, but the designers added their own little twist to it. What you end up with is a new vision of the Alien mythology that isn't quite as spectacular as Giger's original design, but manages to stand on its own and offers plenty of disturbing scenes.
You may be surprised to find out that Prometheus was shot entirely using 3D cameras. So it was designed as a primarily 3D movie. I'm glad to say, that unlike so many other new releases, it used 3D as more than just a gimmick. Mind you, I wouldn't call it amazing - but it definitely does enhance the experience by more than just a bit. As soon as you have the chance, get out there and watch it in 3D at the cinema. It really is worth it, since you probably won't be able to see Prometheus like this at your own house. 3D Televisions are overly expensive. I guess that's also just another valid point to my review which suggests that what I'm saying is not entirely balanced... after all; I only finished watching a screening of the film on the big screen, in 3D, with loud audio just a few hours ago - so the "wow" effect is still wearing off.
The first Alien movie had an amazing soundtrack. It was very atmospheric and always held you by the throat, if you know what I mean. With Prometheus, things are a little bit different. Since the movie is much more action-packed and fast-paced, a much less remarkable soundtrack is put in place. Whilst this one is also very nice and has its own little atmosphere, when all is said and done, it just can't live up to Jerry Goldsmith's original work of genius from 1979. However, all of the sound effects are top-notch.
Alright, I guess it's about time that I come to a conclusion.
Overall, Prometheus is a brilliant film that doesn't reinvent anything - but is a shining beacon which shows us that new movies can still aspire (and even get close to) beating old classics... and it also shows us that when you have a lot of experience and a mind like Ridley Scott, you can make a fantastic motion picture even at the age of 74.
It feels really weird hearing my own voice, especially since it sounds so much lower when recorded & played back, than in real time. Well, I hope I don't sound too stupid. Thanks for reading and/or watching - hope you have a nice day!
Exam practice and revision have stopped me from making the planned introduction to my video reviews, so no news on that yet - sorry. But I do have a new review for you, which I've started working on a few weeks ago but only now got the chance to finish and post it.
Surprise, surprise... this one is too long to fit in here with the blog text as well. Oh well, please click on the link below to have a read of it.
If you liked this review, please don't forget to leave a thumbs-up at the review page and (if you want to) leave some feedback here. I'd really appreciate both. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.
PS: Remember my last blog post, where I needed help deciding which new game to buy? Well, things didn't go as planned. I ended up ordering Far Cry 2 (PC) and Read Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (PS3) - looking forward to both, but I'd preferably start ArmA II (like I should have ages ago) before playing them.
Hey everyone! Sorry - I've got no video reviews for you yet. I wanted to start making them a long time ago, but revising for upcoming exams has been taking up most of my free time lately. Despite of this, I'm trying to get some gaming time in breaks too, though it isn't easy. I come home tired and end up wasting time, revising a lot, and then wasting some more time. I have a few games I should finish and still haven't, yet I already want to pick one new game for this month. It's been a while since I played on my PS3, so I decided to go for something on this platform. What should I pick? I'm stuck between InFamous 2, Dead Space 2 and Resistance 3. All of these are from series that I've played before, and as much as I'd like to have all of them now, I can afford only one for now (along with an album from one of my favourite bands). Which one should I pick? Or do you have any better suggestions, that are no more expensive than 15 quid?
Sorry guys, but I think I won't be making video reviews after all... or at least if I will, I'm going to need more advice about it. But more on that later; first - please check out my review of Mass Effect 3, which I've posted below. I put a lot of effort into it and I just couldn't be bothered to wait until the "Extended Cut" DLC is released to upload my review. Enjoy!
MASS EFFECT 3 - For PC - Review by Bamul
Yeah, I know this is quite lame - I usually poszt my review here, but this one was actually too long to be included in a blog post. Which is funny, since my Skyrim review was even longer (though I think I may have to simply link to that one as well). Anyway,I've put a lot of effort into this, so please give me a thumbs up at the same link as I've posted above.
Okay, now onto the video reviews thing. So, basically, I've been thinking of just reading my reviews (whilst recording my voice) and using gameplay footage from trailers as videos. But now I've realized that this would be pretty boring - reading from any sort of script can end up sounding monotone - especially considering the length of some of my reviews. In addition, if I want to do that, I could just as well list a few links to my reviews on YouTube. If anyone wants to read my reviews, then they can... so what's the point of reading it for them?
However, since I've already made a logo for my videos (it's quite simple, but at least there will be no problems with copyright) and I also received loads of support from you guys when I first mentioned it, I think I still want to do this. So I thought that maybe I should just make a few notes for each video review, then just naturally talk from memories of my own experiences with each game (with those notes to remind me of what I wanted to say). This would mean that I'd actually be doing different reviews than my written reviews - though I could always use those a reference - and the video could also end up being much more entertaining. What do you think?
Obviously, I will continue doing written reviews - I love writing, why would I stop? But I'll make these less analytical video reviews after each written review (as well as doing videos for games I've previously reviewed here). Please leave a comment about what you think of this; thank you for reading and have a nice day.
Sorry, no video reviews yet - I have to sort out a few things before I start doing those, which probably won't happen until the end of this week/weekend. But I do have a written review of FEAR for you today, enjoy!
FEAR - For PC - Review by Bamul
In the end, FEAR is just short of becoming that absolutely outstanding game which everyone has been talking about.
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Almost, but not quite"
Supposedly, in late 2005, a first-person shooter like no other was released. Monolith Productions was the studio behind that project. The title was considered so amazing by the public that many compared it to classics like Half-Life. Some people look back at this game, describing it as one of those that changed the whole genre of shooters and revolutionized the way video games are made. That game is called FEAR and, with the insight of someone who has played it for the first time almost seven years after its initial release on the PC, I am going to review FEAR's success and determine its quality for myself.
Let me begin by saying that FEAR truly was (and still is) a technological marvel. It runs on Monolith's own "Lithtech Jupiter Ex", whilst using the well-known "Havok" engine for physics. Most of the stuff you get to see in this game looks quite incredible for 2005. Sharp textures, volumetric soft shadows, surprisingly detailed character models, realistic environments (with displacement mapped environmental destructibility) and its beautiful slo-mo bullet mode, which allows you to shred enemies to pieces in some disturbingly bloody & satisfying ways. Also, the amount of mayhem that can be caused in each place is astounding - FEAR really did create a wholly new definition for the term "dynamic environment", back in the day, and it even puts some modern games to shame.
Then again, there always has to be a disadvantage, hasn't there? In this case, FEAR's graphics are no exception. While they are every bit as technologically stunning as they have been described, they simply lack their own artistic style to be described as anything more than "realistic" (for the time of the game's release). Furthermore, FEAR suffers from another problem on the visual side: the recycling of environments. Whilst this isn't a major flaw because it doesn't occur often enough to have a significant impact on the whole experience, it remains a minor annoyance that could have been easily dealt with by the developers.
Many critics praised this game for its interesting plot and story. With this, I can agree completely. Most of FEAR's good points, in this area, come from its overwhelming mystery. At the beginning, the character which you play as is described only as "Point Man" of F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon), a secret spec ops group commanded by the US government and well-trained to deal with paranormal threats. The protagonist is said to have unbelievably fast reflexes (thus the slo-mo option during combat is available). He and his squad are tasked with the termination of Paxton Fettel, a man who has telepathically taken control of a whole battalion of super soldiers. As the game progresses (and the villain eludes your squad numerous times), the Point Man is plagued with visions and sometimes life-threatening hallucinations of a little girl dressed in red.
Questions like "who is this girl?", "what happened to her?", "where is she now?", "is she real?", "what is Fettel's main goal?" and many others haunt the player throughout the game - as the unknown is gradually explained (though never in full) by the game's clever plot devices. Moreover, these visions put a spin on the otherwise quite standard shooter, turning it into a scary horror game every now and then. Unfortunately, the terror is dropped in favour of a more action-oriented experience later on in the game - only to return once in a while, with more expectable outcomes. The fact that FEAR's terrifying potential is never fully realized in the game is even more disappointing. However - overall - everything that is supposed to be scary and is in the game has the intended effect on the player and succeeds in making the experience even more fascinating than it already is.
In terms of gameplay, FEAR is quite like Aliens Versus Predator 2 - Monolith's previous flagship, from 2001. The structure feels very familiar: the plot is mysterious, nothing is ever fully explained, the characters are likeable, there is some humour for those who wait around a bit longer to listen to conversations, and messages which expand upon the backstory can be found throughout the game. These similarities are by no means a bad thing. If anything, they may enhance the experience for those who played AvP2 earlier. However, there is one major difference: the construction of each environment.
Unlike in AvP2, where there were some quite open spaces from time to time - allowing the player plenty of freedom to wander around, FEAR is much more like a corridor shooter. This gives place for some spectacular scripted events and very clever level design, but also limits exploration and replay value by quite a bit. Is it a good change? Yes and no. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, it's about what each player prefers.
Something that has also been taken into consideration is the impact that each weapon has on your enemies, and their generally shifting tactics. Their behaviour changes as you pick off the members of each hostile squad one by one. They try to adapt in order to survive the situation for as long as possible. Each opponent shows some very realistic AI packages, making the whole of the singleplayer campaign even more immersive, atmospheric and entertaining (as if it wasn't fun enough, with FEAR's large arsenal of cool weaponry available to the player).
Speaking of which, FEAR offers you plenty of awesome guns to use. The collection is surprisingly quite big and varied; from dual pistols to SMGs, assault rifles to shotguns, multi-rocket launchers to plasma rifles - and more. In addition, most of these weapons have some nasty impact on the flesh of your enemies. This gives you the disturbing sensation that it may feel similar to shooting real meat.
In order to fill FEAR with extra content, Monolith has included online multiplayer modes for those who are hungry for more? but unluckily, this is what they failed at the most. Although playing this game with others can be fun for a while as it offers some mindlessly chaotic entertainment, it really doesn't have anything to offer for those who are looking for a deeper, more unique and original online experience. FEAR offers you the basic deathmatch-based game modes that have been used by countless games before and after it, giving anyone with better things to do little reason to stick around for longer to play this game's multiplayer more than a few times - unless they are a hardcore fan of its gameplay.
Now that we have covered pretty much everything that needs to be said about the game, let's summarize all of FEAR's features:
GAMEPLAY - 9/10 (Outstanding)
The game offers a very nice mix of shooting, horror and atmosphere; all packed into a cunningly designed, linear, FPS singleplayer campaign.
STABILITY - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Apart from the odd glitch or two and the occasional inconsistency in frame rate, all of FEAR's bugs have been ironed out with patches.
STORY - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Clever use of great plot devices and mysterious vibes, along with likeable characters and believable personalities, creates an interesting story.
GRAPHICS - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Back in 2005, most PCs couldn't handle running this game even on medium settings and it shows even today? as does its lack of artistic development.
SOUND - 8.5/10 (Great)
Some of the voice acting is average and the music is good but nothing extraordinary; other than that, everything else in the sound department is great.
LONGEVITY - 6.5/10 (Light on content)
The singleplayer is too scripted for more than a maximum of two playthroughs for the average gamer, the multiplayer is really quite disappointing when compared to the quality of the core game and there's pretty much nothing to make you come back to this game.
In the end, FEAR is just short of becoming that absolutely outstanding game which everyone has been talking about. It doesn't use its potential to the fullest and isn't quite as worthy of the praise it gets as some of Monolith's previous titles should be getting. On the whole, though, it's still a great game. It was definitely an ambitious project that had an impact on the FPS genre that no one can deny, and it should still be enjoyed by all the shooter fans who missed the opportunity to play it back in 2005.
OVERALL RATING - 8.5/10 (Great)
If you liked this review, please don't forget to give me a thumbs up at thislink. Also: please don't hesitate to leave a comment if you want to, telling me what you liked about the review and/or how I could improve my writing... or just what you thought about the game instead. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!