Before it's too late

The news of Ryan's devastating passing has hit me like the loss of a very close friend. Despite never meeting him in a person I, like the majority of the people that visit this fantastic website, felt like I knew him. It takes a talented man to make something like the Bombcast, which is recorded for thousands of people, feel personal.

I loved Ryan's contributions to the site, whether him and Jeff were riffing off each other and throwing obscure rap references around which flew straight over my head or if he was watching Vinny "play" Sleeping Dogs or if he was chastising Brad for sucking at whatever game he was playing. The rapport he almost instantly developed with Patrick when he joined is testament to his friendly, likeable and fun nature.

Ryan's death was a tragic reminder that the things that we love can be taken away from us in an instant and it's with that in mind that I want to thank everyone that has made Giant Bomb what it is today.

Jeff - Thanks for being weird and recording videos of yourself drinking from a jar.

Brad- Thanks for being bad at games.

Vinny - Thanks for not taking games too seriously.

Drew - Thanks for the endless hours of video you've edited, you're an inspiration

Matt - Thanks for being a human piece of shit.

Patrick - Thanks for being willing to put yourself out there in terms of the content you make.

Alex - Thanks for the snark.

Alexis - Thanks for just wandering into live streams.

Dave - Thanks for the vest top.

There are plenty of other people who deserve our thanks, whether they be former employees at Giant Bomb or Whiskey Media, industry personalities or just Karen. Each of these people has contributed to Giant Bomb in their own special way.

I also want to thank the community for providing me with as much entertainment as the crew themselves do. Animated Bombcast segments, creepy photoshops and Quick Look Best Ofs are just some of the things I've spent a ridiculous amount of time laughing my arse off at.

Lastly I want to thank Ryan, I'm sorry I never got to say this while you were still with us but you were amazing. It's going to be strange without you but I'm sure we'll all carry on. I hope that's what you'd have wanted.

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Before it's too late

The news of Ryan's devastating passing has hit me like the loss of a very close friend. Despite never meeting him in a person I, like the majority of the people that visit this fantastic website, felt like I knew him. It takes a talented man to make something like the Bombcast, which is recorded for thousands of people, feel personal.

I loved Ryan's contributions to the site, whether him and Jeff were riffing off each other and throwing obscure rap references around which flew straight over my head or if he was watching Vinny "play" Sleeping Dogs or if he was chastising Brad for sucking at whatever game he was playing. The rapport he almost instantly developed with Patrick when he joined is testament to his friendly, likeable and fun nature.

Ryan's death was a tragic reminder that the things that we love can be taken away from us in an instant and it's with that in mind that I want to thank everyone that has made Giant Bomb what it is today.

Jeff - Thanks for being weird and recording videos of yourself drinking from a jar.

Brad- Thanks for being bad at games.

Vinny - Thanks for not taking games too seriously.

Drew - Thanks for the endless hours of video you've edited, you're an inspiration

Matt - Thanks for being a human piece of shit.

Patrick - Thanks for being willing to put yourself out there in terms of the content you make.

Alex - Thanks for the snark.

Alexis - Thanks for just wandering into live streams.

Dave - Thanks for the vest top.

There are plenty of other people who deserve our thanks, whether they be former employees at Giant Bomb or Whiskey Media, industry personalities or just Karen. Each of these people has contributed to Giant Bomb in their own special way.

I also want to thank the community for providing me with as much entertainment as the crew themselves do. Animated Bombcast segments, creepy photoshops and Quick Look Best Ofs are just some of the things I've spent a ridiculous amount of time laughing my arse off at.

Lastly I want to thank Ryan, I'm sorry I never got to say this while you were still with us but you were amazing. It's going to be strange without you but I'm sure we'll all carry on. I hope that's what you'd have wanted.

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Beating the Backlog: Volume 1

The list

Games I played this week

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Dark Souls

Games I finished this week

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

A Waking Nightmare

Alan Wake’s second, smaller adventure feels as much like an interesting experiment as it does a compromise of sorts. In recent weeks, Sam Lake, lead designer of Alan Wake posted a video on Youtube explaining the fate of Alan Wake as a franchise. He essentially stated that, while he feels strongly about the character and universe he and the team at Remedy had created, Microsoft did not have confidence in the business feasibility of a sequel. This means that Alan Wake is not dead, just dormant. This casts American Nightmare in a slightly different light. The game itself is fun enough, retaining a lot of the elements which made the 2010 game so unique, particularly the combat, but you can see clearly the areas where time or budgetary constraints have cut into the game’s quality.

Due to the downloadable nature of the game the experience is condensed and this leads to enemy encounters at almost every turn. Combat is basically the same as the original game with a few new enemy types which help to keep things interesting although it is a little on the easy side. I played through the entire game without dying and I only came close to death at the very end of the game. The game also features the franchise’s trademark collectibles in the form of manuscripts, T.Vs and radios, all of which serve to create a better picture of the universe and its characters. Specifically, if you bother to find the collectibles, you will learn a lot more about Alan himself and his doppelgänger Mr Scratch. Manuscripts also play a more direct role in the game by providing access to weapon crates scattered throughout the games three environments.

The premise of the game is that Alan Wake has somehow become a character in one of the stories he wrote for Night Springs, Remedy’s equivalent to The Twilight Zone. He must stop Mr Scratch by altering reality itself using instructions gleaned from a mysterious, extra-terrestrial signal. Reading that back it sounds kind of hokey, that’s probably because it is. A lot of that seems intentional on Remedy’s part and the story and narration feel like they could have come from an episode of Night Springs or its real world counterpart. The twist in the game comes about a third of the way through when, after attempting to alter reality, Wake is thrown back to the start of the game. Things have changed slightly and the characters you met originally seem to be aware of the strange shift in time. Remedy, however, cleverly change things your second time through so that it doesn’t feel like you’re doing the same things twice. This happens once more, later on, meaning you end up running through the same three environments three times each, while this in an interesting concept it also feels like Remedy are desperately trying to squeeze as much content out of these relatively small areas as possible. It can get a little tedious towards the end but the process of progressing through the environments is streamlined enough by the end that you should be able to get through the last stretch in less than an hour.

The environments are interesting but perhaps a little lifeless and the characters you meet are well written but the actual models look last gen in comparison to Wake. This leads to a clear contrast between the areas where Remedy was able to reuse assets from the previous games and where they had to create new ones on a much tighter budget. There are also some inventive uses of music dotted throughout the game which help add some intensity and, in some cases, levity to proceedings and it is that juxtaposition which is key to Alan Wake as a whole. The original game had genuine moments of suspense and tension but it was also permeated with a good sense of humour and self-awareness, American Nightmare follows that same formula. On one hand you have the creepy video diaries of Mr Scratch which and on the other you have the light hearted radio interviews with the aging members of Old Gods of Asgard, the balance between the two is what gives the franchise its unique flavour (Read: Mouth feel).

If you want more Alan Wake, and keep in mind this may be the last we see of him for a while, then I heartily recommend you go out and buy this. It’s not the best Alan Wake experience out there but it’s certainly no slouch either.

In the Depths of Darkness

Apart from guiding a troubled novelist through a nightmarish episode of a TV show that he wrote, I also found myself back in Lodran after a brief visit their some months ago. I had previously played 3 hours or so of a friends's copy of Dark Souls and I had also played a decent amount of Demon's Souls so I thought I knew what I was in for. I found my character standing in front of a fog door, the door led to a battle many Dark Souls players will be familiar with. After traversing the white light I was greeted by a Bell Gargoyle, an ugly creature with an axe three times my size, who was upon me before I could even remember what the block button was. Needless to say I was quickly killed and transported back to a nearby bonfire. It was a brutal return to Dark Souls but I would not, could not, be rebuffed so easily. After fighting my way through some lesser, but still challenging foes, I was back at the fog door. This time I was prepared. I strafed around the Gargoyle, slashing wildly at his tail. His health was halved almost instantly, I was going to kill him and it was going to be easy. I was so focused on destroying this boss that I was caught completely unawares when his companion hit me with a wave of fire from behind. I was staggered and that was all it took for the Gargoyle I had so nearly killed to turn and strike me down. I was dead. Again. One Gargoyle had been difficult, two of them seemed nigh on impossible.

It took many attempts and a host of different strategies for me to beat the two Gargolyes atop the church in Undead Parish but eventually they were dead and I could ring the bell they had been protecting. My story is probably not unique. While the Gargoyles are certainly not the most difficult enemies I faced in my 28 hours of Dark Souls, they are probably two of the most important. They taught me to never take anything for granted and to always be vigilant. It may not be the Gargoyles that provide this lesson for every Dark Souls player, it might be the Slime in the depths or the Mimic in Sen's Fortress, but it is a lesson that will eventually be learnt.

Now I can list Ornstein, Smough, and the Four Kings as some of the other enemies that I have vanquished on my journey to finish Dark Souls. As far as I can tell these are considered to be difficult encounters but I do not consider myself to be good at Dark Souls (or games in general). This leads me to surmise that Dark Souls is not a hard game, it's just different. It requires an approach which many games do not, it asks for patience and it asks for persistence.

P.S Thanks to @chavtheworld for the "awesome" banner art.

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Beating the Backlog: Volume 0

I used to pride myself on my ability to complete games no matter their quality or length. If I started a game I was going to finish it, no matter what. Slowly, as my tastes broadened and I started buying more games, I realised I no longer had the attention span or, in some cases, the time to complete a lot of the games I’d bought. Soon, I got into University and found I had even less time to play games, especially those that required a significant investment into either the story or the mechanics to be fun and I eventually found myself playing 1 or 2 hours of a game and then putting it back in its box (or digital locker) and never picking it back up again. Now, I’m done with University, 3 years of my life that I’ll probably look back on with a lot of fondness. I’ve got time to burn and I intend on doing just that. So, with that out of the way, I present to you my Pile of Shame. (There are no Steam/PC games here because I don’t have a PC capable of running a lot of them)

1. Alpha Protocol (PS3)

2. Dragon Age 2 (360)

3. Lost Odyssey (360)

4. Resonance of Fate (360)

5. Warhammer 40000: Space Marine (360)

6. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (XBLA)

7. Darksiders (360)

8. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (360)

9. God Of War 3 (PS3)

10. Persona 3: FES (PSN)

11. Fatal Frame/Project Zero (PSN)

12. Condemned 2 (360)

13. Demon’s Souls (PS3)

14. Beyond Good and Evil (XBLA)

15. Dead Nation (PSN)

16. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (XBLA)

17. Swarm (XBLA)

18. Splosion Man (XBLA)

19. Dark Souls (360)

20. Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)

21. Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X (360)

22. Alone in the Dark (360)

Beautiful, isn’t it? I’m not 100% sure how to approach this if I’m honest. I was considering doing them in alphabetical order or perhaps as they are listed here (which was completely random, I just listed games as soon as I remembered them), however I may just end up hand picking games just so that I don’t get stuck with 3 ridiculously long RPGs in a row.

Whichever way I end up choosing what to play, I intend to finish each and every one.

I decided on a couple of rules which should make keep it interesting for myself and you, the reader, if you choose to continue reading my blogs on this endeavour.

Rule 1: If I start a game I must play it at least once every day until it is finished

Rule 2: I can start any number of games and play them simultaneously but Rule 1 still applies for each of them

With all of that said I sincerely hope you join me for next week’s edition where I’ll have chosen my game selection method and have started at least one of the games on the list.

P.S If any super cool dudes want to provide a banner image for this that would be awesome, I don't have photoshop and even if I did I doubt I could produce anything that I'd be happy putting up here.

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God Of War and the final say on Alan Wake and Fallout New Vegas.


 The Wrath of Kratos 
 
If there is one thing I take away from my long and frustrating journey with the first installment in the God of War franchise it's that time is kind to very few games and Kratos' original adventure is no exception. If it were to be released today the game would most likely be criticised for it's poor story, basic gameplay and it's inability to direct the player. On Friday night I found myself stuck on the aptly named Cliffs of Madness trying to find a certain red necklace. Eventually I gave in and searched for a FAQ and sure enough the FAQ read 'it's quite likely that this is about the first sentence 99% of the people using this guide have read because all they want to know is where the hell to go '. This at least made me safe in the knowledge that it wasn't just me. It seems almost ridiculous now that a game which has considerable adventure sections has no map, compass or objective marker, not even a hints system. But maybe that's what people mean when they say games were harder back then. Kratos is a weird protaganist for the sole reason that he is a complete twat. More specifcally he is mass murdering coward who killed his own wife and child then blamed it on the person that saved his life, that sort of twat. Some might see this as a bold move by the developers but I just do not care for Kratos, he is unredeemable in my eyes. In a way God Of War would have been a much better game if it had ended 5 minutes earlier however Sony decided it was better not to rule out a sequel so a silly little epilogue was tacked on. There are also other little bits of jank which build up over the course of the game. Firstly, if you find yourself dying repeatedly in the same section the game suggests that you knock down the difficulty, this may seem helpful to you and it appeared that way to me but I decided I would resist the temptation and just plough through. There is one major flaw with this system, if you die you find yourself hitting X repeatedly, to get right back into the action, but if the prompt pops up you hit 'Yes' and you are dropped into Easy you CAN'T CHANGE THE DIFFICULTY BACK FOR THE REST OF THE GAME. It seems slightly harsh judging God Of War now considering how much games have evolved over the past few years but maybe it's good to have a look back every once in a while, mainly to make sure we don't repeat past mistakes. 
 
Alan Wakes Up (maybe) and the courier's journey finally ends (maybe) 
 
It's rare that a game has an ending which leaves me feeling as if the plot hasn't been wrapped up. Alan Wake feels almost unfinished and the DLC just feels like a big narrative circle and you end up exactly where you started. The DLC in particular feels almost insidious, preying on the desire to see closure. You are given two chapters which provide almost no story progression and by the end of it all I was left pretty much clueless as to the fate of Alan and what exactly had been happening over the past 10 hours but this didn't actually take away from my enjoyment of the game. It was rollercoaster ride which left me confused but knowing that I had just had a lot of fun. So from one polished game we go to one of the roughest games that I have ever played. New Vegas is broke in every sense of the word, crashes, glitches and game changing bugs plague this game and threaten to destroy it. One bug forced me to massacre a bunch of dudes, which I was very much against, another caused me to be stuck in VATS for an eternity the only respite being the sweet release of the 360 power button and one freeze lost me 3 hours of progress. Maybe it speaks to New Vegas' strength as a game that despite all these problems I still look back at my experiences with it favourably and I am considering going back in for a second playthough but I can't understand how this game was released like this. I don't like to see people lose their jobs but that whole QA branch needs fired or maybe, and this could be the real problem, listened to. 
 
Disclaimer: If this blog reads like a 7 year old's book report it's because I am tired as hell and I'm writing this in bed. Also sorry for missing last week I had work for university which took up most of my time.

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Killzone 3, Fallout New Vegas (again) and more.

The Redemption of Rico Velasquez 
 
Killzone 3 is one of those games that can be looked at in one of two ways. One group of people will look at the game and pass it off as a barely improved sequel that is not worth their hard-earned money whereas others will see it as more of something they enjoyed the hell out of. I'm pretty sure I fall into the latter group. I only finished the campaign yesterday so I might not have had enough time to let the whole experience sink in but it reminds me a lot of when I finished Call of Duty 4 for the first time. The pacing is almost perfect, the story I can take it or leave it and the action is just as explosive. I hate to use the term but this game is a thrill ride in almost every sense of the phrase. It also has to be one of the best looking games I have ever played and the stealth mission which takes place near the start of the game showcases this perfectly. The flora and fauna of Helghan seen during this mission is, in equal parts, weird and wonderful. The fluorescent  reds and oranges look like something you'd see in a deep sea nature programme. The only disappointment is that you only really see this sort of wildlife once, but that's not to say that the rest of the game is ugly, the final sections of the game are another graphical exhibition. The facial animations are great as well, you can really see the characters smiling, wincing and raising eyebrows. I think one of the main improvements from the previous games people wanted to see was the characters, they were underdeveloped and could have been ripped from any low-grade action movie. Another problem was that Killzone 2 created one of the most hated characters in video game history in Rico. He was an over-confident, gung-ho bastard who got teammates killed and couldn't stop himself from swearing with every other word. It seems Guerrila took onboard some of the criticism of this particular aspect of the previous game and decided that Rico shouldn't get away with his order disobeying ways without a bit of ribbing and most of this comes from the gruff presence of Captain Narville. Although many people, including myself, were hoping Rico might meet an (un)fortunate end in KZ 3 this feels like the biggest compromise Guerilla could have made without people questioning their integrity and in the end Rico does sort of redeem himself. With that potential hurdle passed Guerilla now had time to let the story take the driving seat and hopefully finish the game strong. As I said previously the story is pretty average and it's not helped by the intro sequence debacle. The intro to the game starts you out as what you think are two Helghast soldiers going to execute a pair of ISA soldiers, you walk through a mountain top facility and learn the basics of the controls and finally reach the execution chamber where Stahl (played with glee by Malcolm McDonald) hands you a ridiculouly large gun and is shocked to have it turned back on him by what is revealed to be main character Sevchenko. The game then hops back 6 months earlier to just after the events of KZ 2. The problem arises when you play through this section again later in the game but events don't happen as they did originally. The main parts are there but the details are completely different. I can understand why Guerilla changed it, it have been boring to play through the same tutorial twice and it may have raised suspicions if you had heard Rico's and Sev's voices in the intro but this raises the question; why have that intro sequence in the first place if they knew they were going to have to change it? This the only real gripe I have with the game and isn't that important but it would be nice if they had a little more respect for the fiction. However, and this is a big however, this game has an amazingly brave and well executed ending, probably one of the best I've seen in a long time. 
 
The adventures of the silent courier continue 
 
Last time I wrote about Fallout: New Vegas I had only played about 2 hours and it had made a strong impression on me in that short time. Writing this now I have played about ten times that and, while I'm still enjoying it, the game's problems have begun to rear their ugly head. I rarely experienced the bugs which plagued Fallout 3 so when I read about them I counted myself lucky and hearing that New Vegas suffers from just as many glitches I hoped my lucky streak would continue, unfortunately this was not the case. To date I have suffered nearly 10 hard crashes and have encountered one bug which has kept me from completing a quest. Personally I can't see how it's possible for a game to be released in this state but maybe it's just the engine itself that's broken. Technical problems aside the game still has some issues that I'm not sure about. Firstly, it seems as if all the damage being done is coming from Rex my cyber dog companion. Stronger enemies such as Deathclaws are impossible to kill due to the low damage coming from every gun in my possesion and the fact that they brush Rex aside with ease. I'm level 23 (I think) and my weapon's DPS is usually in the mid 80s but it seems that the strong enemies just absorb this with their Damage Threshold. I don't know if there are any Fallout: New Vegas experts in the community but any help would be greatly appreciated. I hope by the end of my Fallout experience I will have overcame these problems because I really, really like the universe and the complex story threads that Obsidian have developed. 
 
'Epic' Games 
 
Bulletstorm and to a slightly lesser extent Gears of War occupy a part of the gaming spectrum which is vilified by certain 'gamers' which see these sorts of games as being immature and only furthering the sterotype of the average game playing person (I refuse to use the word 'gamer' twice in the same sentence if I can avoid it). It seems Epic excels in creating or being involved in the creation of these games and it has me wondering whter these games still have a place in this modern era. I think the problem with these games is not their content but the way it is marketed. Everything is 'awesome' and 'badass' and this belies the depth that some of these games have, not in the story telling but in the gameplay. Gears of War singlehandedly created a genre in their adapted cover system and the multiplayer is probably one of the best online experiences to be had the 360 but people can't see past the silly image attached to the games. There is something to be said for dumb action but it doesn't need to be shoved in our faces every two seconds. Please Epic don't just appeal to the lowest common denominator, you have talents beyond developing the best way to chainsaw ugly ass aliens.

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Alan Wake, Fallout New Vegas and more.

Yes I am as suprised as you are, a second edition. Something must be wrong with me because this is more effort than I have put into anything for a while. 
  
 

Old Gods of the Edler Children of Asgard 
 
 

Very rarely does a game tread the thin line between tounge in cheek satire and serious drama with such grace and balance. Alan Wake is one of those games, at least that's the impression I have got with about 6 hours of playtime. The game starts serious enough with our titular protaganists wife being 'taken', for lack of a better term. The game then throws you a bit of a curveball and makes everything you've seen so far slightly less clear. It's typical pyschological horror stuff but it works well and Alan's narration, though not perfect, helps us empathise with him and shows he as confused as you are. Early on we are introduced to Barry, Alan's bumbling PR man, who ends up being comic relief mostly. This is the mains stumbling block for me. In a way he is annoying as hell and some of the stuff he says just isn't funny but when he works it's great and perfectly counters the dark themes of the main plot line. The best comedic stuff is a result of the ageing metal band members and their farm-based pyrotechnics show. The sequence which takes place at the show is one of the best in the game and managed to make me smile ear to ear for the duration of it. The actual action is relatively standard 3rd person stuff but the enemies have a sheild of sorts which has to be destroyed via a lightsource, usually Alan's torch or flares, before conventional weapons can be used. This is a clever addition which helps to add a layer of difficulty and strategy perhaps lacking from similar games such as Resident Evil 5. It could be said that games such as Alan Wake and the aforementioned RE 5 are part of a growing trend of modern survival horror games, namely ones which remove most of the survival and horror elements, and that these games are also part of the problem. Sure, there are parts in Alan Wake you're low on ammo or you get spooked by an enemy coming up behind you but these moments are few and far between and are nothing like the early RE games. But does anyone really want those games back? I recently played through Resident Evils 1 through Code Veronica and those games admittedly  have their high points but the gameplay just does not stand up. It's not about difficulty, it's about dumb contrivances. Why does the game rely on stupid camera angles to provide shocks? Why can't I aim properly? Why do I have to collect ink ribbons to save my game? In the end, it's not a problem it's simple evolution. I'm sorry to say it but survival horror as we knew it is dead and for good reason. 
    
 

Welcome to the greensih-brown expanse of the Mojave Desert 
  

As you may be able to tell from my hilarious subject title Fallout: New Vegas isn't much of an improvement on Fallout 3 at least in terms of it's looks. The same colour palette is apparent as soon as you set foot on the irradiated earth of New Vegas and in my short time I've seen little variety which suggets things will change. I enjoyed the opening of Fallout 3, it had it's own little plot arc which played out perfectly in around half an hour and was a perfect introduction to the strange parallel universe in which Fallout takes place. New Vegas pretty much scraps this in favour of a narrated sequence of images which eventually leads to you witnessing your own failed execution and waking up in a small township. From here you're thrown almost head first into the wasteland, but not before you indulge killing some post-apocalyptic mutants and criminals. Fallout 3 almost certainly had the better opening but it's not Obsidian's fault, they couldn't really top that intro and if they'd copied it people would complain so this feels like the best way it could have turned out. Now I've only played a couple of hours of New Vegas but it seems like the only way to describe it so far is as a Fallout-ass Fallout game. (Thank you Jeff) This is most certainly not a bad thing, I really liked the open-world, crazy stuff from 3 even though I had problems with the critcal mission line. So, with fingers-crossed, I will take on the challenges that the harsh landscape of the scorched West Coast of America throws at me in hope that this game is as fun if not more so than it's predecessor  . 
  
 

The Red Giant 
 
 

Due almost entirely to the volume of chat surrounding Super Street FIghter 4's release by the Giant Bomb crew I decided to pick it up, having zero experience with the franchise. I decided also to main Hakan because he was new and so was I. After rocky beginnings I eventually grasped the basic level of SSF4 skill and was winning matches a lot more often however I eventually lost interest with SSF4 and moved on. Now I've thrust myself back into the mix due almost entirely to the volume of chat surrounding Marvel vs Capcom 3 and I have one thing to say, HAKAN STILL FUCKING ROCKS. Now I know he's been vilified by the pros and is pretty much shunned by the whole SSF4 community but I love that fat-ass red and blue turkish oil wrestler and he loves me. This guy greases you up then squeezes you from between his legs if you can't imagine how awesome that is I'll provide you with a visual representation (0:45 onwards): 
 
 
  

  

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Dead Space 2, Vanquish and more.

Inspired by JJWeatherman’s new (hopefully) weekly blog I decided I would give it a shot. What’s great about this is that is win-win for me, if this blog completely fails then no one will notice but if it’s a success then…well…it’s a success.

 
Creepy Nursery Rhymes

 
The original Dead Space didn’t make into my hands until late last year when I picked it up for almost nothing. I had been reluctant to buy it simply due to the   fact that I’m not a big survival horror fan the fact my friend had been so cold on it. I now realise my friend is an idiot (mostly) and that this game is for me and that everyone who likes good games should at least play through it. My main problem with Dead Space though was that it was too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for 12 hour campaigns but only if they’re warranted. In the later sections of the game I felt like I was seeing the same places again and again, I was getting sick of fighting the same enemies and by the time I reached the end I was actually happy to see the credits roll. So it was with some trepidation that I bought Dead Space 2 fearing that I had had enough of Isaac and his necromorph pals. Luckily for me I realised my fears were unfounded a few hours in. The setting of Dead Space 2 really helps to make the campaign much more enjoyable and varied. No longer do all the corridors look the same and the pointless late game fetch quests have been sent through the air lock into the abyss of space. DS 2 is also intelligent, one section later on in the game plays on your fears from the original exceptionally well and it also serves as a great call back to the first game. Dead Space 2 is the definitive Dead Space experience, taking pretty much every annoying aspect of the first one and trashing and improving on others.

 
Press X to smoke

 
Vanquish is a silly game, in fact it’s a very silly game. Simultaneously harking back to both the ridiculous action movies of the 80’s and the crazy ass Japanese games of the 90’s, Vanquish takes the elements which made these things great and blends them into an almost perfect mixture. You take the role of Sam Gideon, a wise-cracking, cigarette-smoking DARPA agent who is also testing out a prototype suit which basically grants him the power of ROCKET KNEES and other less awesome things and you’re on a mission to crush those commie bastards and their stinkin’ robots. Vanquish takes a lot of inspiration from the original 3 person cover-based shooter (someone needs to come up with an acronym for that), Gears of War, you take cover, you pop out, you shoot, you go back into cover but somehow makes it feel fresh and exciting. You’re nearly always in the centre of some giant battle with bullets and explosions and robots filling the screen and this helps to lessen the monotony of the basic gameplay. In terms of the story there isn’t much here to look at but, and this is coming from a big fan of narrative in my vidja games, it really doesn’t matter. There’s no half-baked romance or dumb ‘I’ve got to find my wife’ sub plot there’s just robots and guns and ROCKET KNEES. If you watched Commando and thought ‘This is boring, where’s all the robots?’ then buy this game, NOW!

 
R.I.P Gary Moore

 
The great Gary Moore died 6 days ago. For those of you who do not know of him he recorded with my favourite band Thin Lizzy and other legends such as B.B King and Albert King he also had a great solo career. He was a phenomenal guitarist and it’s a sad loss to music so here he is at his peak playing with half of Thin Lizzy in 1979:   

  

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The fantastic football face-off! (2011 edition)

This year, like the year before it and the year before that one and so on, saw the newset iterations to both the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer franchises. In recent years FIFA has dominated PES in both sales and critical acclaim but this year Konami has upped it's game significantly and this year is the tightest between the two games that it's been in years so I decided to compare both games in one handy bite sized portion, enjoy!  
  
Gameplay  
Ever since FIFA graced the next generation of consoles it's developers have strived to bring a more realistic and simulation-based football game to fans of the series and it seems Konami have attempted to go in the opposite direction with their more arcadey approach. This year however the games are as similar as they have been for a while. No longer will Messi dominate defences practically unchallenged and Ronaldo won't be scoring from ridiculous ranges as often as before in Pro Evo and the same could be said of FIFA however there is one key difference between the games, passing. In Pro Evo passing is snappy and responsive on the other hand FIFA's passing has been slowed considerably due to the complaints from the community of 'Ping-pong passing'. In this sense PES is superior to FIFA, counter attacking is a major risk due to the swiftness with which the ball can move and relying on such attacks for goals is a legitimate tactic. But this is not to say that PES is without flaws. I am no games designer but I think it is fair to say that the AI in PES is, for lack of a better phrase, border-line retarded. 'Keepers will fail to save shots directly at them or dive and miss extremely slow moving balls, defenders will rarely stay in position allowing the attacking team to score easy goals and players will sometimes ignore the ball altogether. To be honest the game just needs polish and I can understand this, Konami has just revamped the series in about a year, expecting the game to have no quirks or bugs on release isn't realistic. So FIFA should have no excuses, it's been developed in same mould since about '08 and therefore it should be jank-free, right? Well not quite. EA have erradicated the terrible goalkeeping of '10 but defenders have problems with positioning and just general awareness, too often will a defender sprint over to close down a centre foward leaving them man they were marking completely free with no input from the player. This is my only real gripe with the gameplay though and for that reason the tried and tested FIFA formula shines through once more.  
Gameplay: FIFA WINS! (JUST)
   
Features
EA has had to dedicate little time to modifying their gameplay recently and this has left them with time to increase and refine their feature set. Last year FIFA's main features were the Be a Pro mode and Manager mode and EA have decided to group these features under one heading, Career mode. Career mode allows the player to start a career as either a Player, a Player-Manager or a Manager. In addition EA have added the ability to play as the goalkeeper. I don't know if this is just me but I found myself playing Manager mode and playing online. Be a Pro does not interest me in the slightest and this year is no different. PES offers almost identical modes albeit with different names; Become a Legend and Master League. I won't bother comparing the Legend/Pro modes however I will say that I prefer FIFA's manager mode just because the quality and the depth is just right for someone like me who likes tinkering with formations and buying and selling players but does not want to go for a full-blown management game. Online functionality seems fine in both games however PES still suffers from some lag issues and I have experienced weird bugs with FIFA's online. 
Features: IT'S A DRAW FOLKS!  
  
Audio and Visuals   
If there is one thing that even the most die-hard PES fan will admit is wrong with their cherished game it's that the commentary is awful and I'm happy to say Konami have half-fixed the problem. I say half fix because they have replaced Lawro's commentary (which was terrible) with Jim Beglin's (which is great) however Jon Champion still remains and that means we are treated to great/horrific lines such as 'GUESS WHO!!!!' or 'FREE KICK!!!!!!' (which he says after you take the free kick, not when it is initially given) in fact, here's a link (this features commentary from previous games but you get the idea). EA have perfected the art of commentary and Martin Tyler and Andy Gray's delivery is perfect and so are the lines. It's clear that Tyler and Gray were given a lot more freedom to say what they wanted to say instead of reading lines written by someone with no where near as much insight into the beautiful game as these two have. Visually is probably where to games are most differing. Each game has a distinct style and it's hard to make a decision on which is better, play likenesses in both games are startiling and stadiums look decent but there is little else to say however PES does suffer from some stiffness when it comes to animations. Whereas FIFA is a fluid looking and feeling game in PES it is much easier to see the hard transition between animations and it is slightly off-putting 
Audio and Visuals: FIFA WINS!  
     
Conclusions   
So it would seem that FIFA is all conquering and the only football game to play this season? Well yes and no. If you hated last year's edition of FIFA this year's will do little to impress you but PES is such a vastly different game than it was 2 years ago that don't think FIFA fans should dismiss as easily as they did previously and there is no doubting that PES is a quality game but if you asked me which was better I would always, for this year at least, say FIFA. Please comment below on you're footy game of choice and remember if I missed anything out it's because I didn't play it or I forgot.

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