True English Gent Reviews: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review!
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review!












THE FORCE IS INDEED STRONG WITH THIS ONE!

Star Wars is huge, if you didn't already know. I don't think there is one person on the planet that hasn't heard of Star Wars, maybe one or two small tribes in the deepest areas of the Amazon rainforest but I'm sure even they have heard of Luke Skywalker. Who hasn't? so its no surprise that this endless money making Star Wars Universe as appeared in a huge number of games. I couldn't tell you them all as there have been simply to many and I'd probably bore you to death. But theres been a lot, and sadly only a few of these Star Wars games have been worthy of praise. For me, when I ever think of a Star Wars Videogame I think of the amazing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series of games by Bioware Corp and Obsidian Entertainment. But for many gamers out there its Star Wars: TIE Fighter for PC. But whatever your favourite Star Wars game is, its fair to say that there have been very few top quality games related to the universe Director George Lucas created. I had lost hope in seeing LucasArts create a worthy Star Wars game again, until I saw The Force Unleashed. It's fair to say that The Force Unleashed is one of the best Star Wars games for a good long while, even with its bumps and scraps along the Dark roadside!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed puts you in the robe of Starkiller (Galen Marek), Darth Vader's Secret Apprentice. Starkiller is taken as a young boy after the evil Vader attacks and kills his Jedi father on the planet of Kashyyyk. You are then taken to Starkiller as a young man doing the work of his master Darth Vader. It's worth stating that TFU as a very solid story that works very well in not stepping on any known facts from the actual films. Set between Episode Three and A New Hope, the universe sticks very much to the original films both by art style and atmosphere. This is nice to see considering LucasArts recent up session with the more recent prequel films with all it's colourful worlds and characters, its pleasant to see the darker dirtier feel that the classic Star Wars films did so well. That's not to say that TFU is a dirty ugly game, infact it's a stunning experience. The game as a fantastic art style which is to be expected, but everything looks sharp and as a great sense of real material and form to them, creating worlds or levels if you wish, that are consistent throughout the game and provide a Star Wars fan's wet dream. A lot of the talk around the game concerned the engines physics which were originally shown over a year ago now, they are outstanding but defiantly not the best aspect to the games graphically look. Of course, as to be expected the game as it's good amount of glitches and some of the actual level designs could have been better considered. To many times I found myself getting stuck in an odd area of the surface or simply falling of the edge of a cliff while taking down a stormtrooper or two. They are frustrating level design issues, but won't spoil your overall experience of The Force Unleashed.

He looks a nice enough fellow!
He looks a nice enough fellow!
Unlike a lot of the more recent new Star Wars characters added to the universe, I actually found Starkiller a very interesting figure and although aspects of his story are commonly found in Star Wars (the whole evil becomes good and vice-verse) material theres still something about Starkiller that makes him one of the best Star Wars Videogame characters since Bastila Shan. He struggles between good and evil but throughout it feels as if there is a deep dark soul within him that is ready to attack if triggered. He is a troubled figure and superbly voiced by Sam Witwer who was also used as the appearance of Starkiller. The game features some top quality voicework and the overall sound quality of TFU is superb, everything sounds as it should do in the Star Wars Universe. Lightsabers sound like lightsabers and blaster fire sounds like blaster fire, all of this is to be expected from a Star Wars game though so we shouldn't be surprised. But it's still fantastic to see it done right and with quality, and The Force Unleashed does it with style, sometimes making you feel as if your watching one of the actual Star Wars films. It also helps that the games soundtrack is as superb as you'd expect, there are some very familar tracks from the works of John Williams and even some newer pieces that do brilliantly to help you emmerse in the universe the game offers.

The Force Unleashed does a lot of things well, but it's also continually hit by small gameplay issues and graphical glitches. The game uses the much talked about Eurphoria Engine found in Grand Theft Auto 4, and although its not as overall impressive as it was in GTA4. It still adds a lot to the game, even if characters (including yourself) can go flying across the Starship floor a little unrealisticly from time to time. That said, you'll defiantly have those 'WOW' moments as you force push a group of Stormtroopers into a starship window and see them get sucked through into deep dark space. Speaking of the force, one of the games biggest issues comes from using the power of the force. The games targeting system can be pretty poor at time, and although its possible to eventually master the system using the camera in the right method. It is still frustrating considering so much emphasis was put on the games use of force powers in advertisements and you'll lose patience with it when the targeting system causes you to die once or twice. But, I eventually did get use to it. The trick involves using the camera the correct way and simply requires you to do a little extra work in getting things at the correct angle for you to use force grip on an item or character. A much better system could have easily been worked into this game so such a system is disapointing to see. It also doesn't help that the target symbol can be hard to see on certain levels so your never totally sure what your targeting.

Another odd aspect of The Force Unleashed is lightsaber action, even though it looks great. You won't be doing one hit kills like the films might have you think. As I said in my preview of the game a few weeks back, you'll have to take down certain enemies using a variation of your force powers. You can of course use your lightsaber but some enemies require a little more thought to trully master them in battle. The game also includes a nice combo system that simply requires some button pressing, as you develop Starkiller through force levels you'll be able to access new powers and combo attacks so you can customize him to your style of play. For instance I found myself using force lightning quite often, so I decided to master that and it payed off later in the game against the much tougher enemies and machines you run into. But you can customize the character to your own personal play style, prefer using your lightsaber. Then simply concentrate your force points on new battle combos, you will unlock some combo's as you play through game so it does some of the growth for you automatically. But its a simple and nice system, some may find it a little to simple while others won't even want to mess with it. Sadly, The Force Unleashed is filled with one to many loading screens. It's a pain when leveling your character as you need to suffer a loading screen twice and it ends up removing you from the universe for a little to long. I can understand loading screens for cutscenes or certain other events but accessing my characters data and powers should be as simple as a single press of a button.

Another area that as recieved some criticism from the gaming media and gamers alike were the boss fights in which there are numourous. Some of that critism is more then fair and overall they will be a little hit or miss for most gamers. I personally thought most were a lot of fun and felt great, past games have shown that it's not exactly easy to do lightsaber battles right and for the most part, The Force Unleashed does more then a fine job. Some of that credit is due to the games amazing soundtrack featuring some of those classic Star Wars tunes we all know and love. You simply can't help but get bumped when John Williams's 'Dual of Fates' starts up on your surround sound system, that song would make painting a fence epic. It's fair to say that some boss levels will frustrate, such as taking down the Star Destroyer which took a little bit of time to actually figure out and wasn't the most satisfying experience I've had in gaming. But there are some great battles, one in peticular against a familar Star Wars face which I'll let you play the game to find out who. One aspect of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that could very much possibly leave a bitter taste in your mouth are the timed action button pressing cutscenes, you know the type as we have seen it in many games since first really being introduced in the PS2 hit God of War. The cutscenes are pretty amazing, especially the lightsaber battles but the fact that they are even required lets the game down. They take you away from the experience of the game and the fact that you need to keep an eye out to see which button to press next means you can easily miss those spectacular battles in cutscenes. Its a gameplay feature that could possibly be a game breaker for some, personally I got use to them and enjoyed them at certain areas of the game. But it's a system that is starting to already feel outdated and it's odd that we haven't really found a more modern gameplay system that would see the gamer more involved in the action on the screen.

Star Wars: The Forced Unleashed features a large amount of collectables on every level, I will admit I didn't find them all but some of the Force Holocubes are often right in front of your face and easy to find, which is important considering they are required to find new items, build up your force points and a number of other things can be found in these yellow glowing cubes. There are also combat for of these, which give you a number of different enhancements including health drain which drains the health of nearby enemies and invincibility which makes you immune to damage for a short time. They defiantly help, especially in the later harder levels. Starkiller is also one smart dresser, as the game features a large number of different costumes for Darth Vader's Secret Apprentice. Every level Starkiller can be found in a new costume and you can also change Starkiller's cloths anytime during gameplay through the Select menu. I'd also say that the game requires multiple playthroughs to obtain all the costumes found in the game, the same can be said for the many lightsaber crystals and lightsaber powers obtainable throughout the game. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed isn't a long game, it'll last your around seven to eight hours. But the experience on offer is one of the best we have seen from a Star Wars game for a good long while, since the Knights of the Old Republic games I'd say and that's counting the game story aswell. You could easily playthrough mulltiple times but if your looking for a quick Star Wars fan run through then I'd recommend renting the game instead of paying the full retail price due to the shortness of the game's story. But I'm sure some Star Wars fans will happily purchase this game and from early sales reports I'd say that the game as done very well already. But I personally found that the game didn't offer enough worthy of it's full price tag.

OVERALL

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed as it's problems, glitches and gameplay issues. But it's still one of the best Star Wars experiences found in the form of a videogame for a good long while. Not all is perfect, but it's all very solid despite some of the weird gameplay choices. The story, characters, sound and Star Wars atmosphere are all here and done superbly. The boss battles will be hit or miss depending on what type of Star Wars fan you are, but it defiantly as those Star Wars special moments and does great fan service throughout the experience. Graphically it looks great and sticks more to the art style found in the original films, great credit must be given to LucasArts for doing so and gameplay is a lot of fun helped by the games amazing physics system and beautiful graphics. Areas of the game can feel a little flat but for the most part there is a lot to like here if your a Star Wars fan or not. But it defiantly helps to be one.

GRAPHICS (4/5)
Overall, the game looks simply stunning. Everything keeps to it's original Star Wars source and is a great tribute to the fantastic world George Lucas originallty created in the first set of three films. But some of the level design choices must be questioned as you'll find youself falling off one cliff to many and there are some frustrating graphically glitches throughout the world that can often affect gameplay. 

GAMEPLAY (4/5)
For the most part Gameplay feels great, it's fast and enjoyable. But like a lot of aspects to TFU, it can be troubled by other issues surround the game such as the level design and targeting system which can take a bit of time to master and get use to. But theres still a lot of solid areas to point out, most importantly it's fun to pick up and play which is the most important of all when you think of what a videogame should provide. Boss battles will be hit or miss but are still pretty enjoyable and a better system could have been used instead of the action timed button pressing cutscenes found through the game but it's nothing that destroys your enjoyment of the game. 

SOUND (5/5)
What can I say, simply stunning. You'd expect no less from LucasArt's considering there history of sound in films and TV, but there are some amazing classic Star Was tunes that only add to the experience. Voicework is wonderful throughout the experience with special mention to Sam Witwer who does the voice of Starkiller and also I believe Emperor Palpatine. He does a fantastic job to help bring Starkiller across to the gamer. It's hard to critise the sound, eveything sounds like it should do and in the right surround system can be simply brilliant.

VALUE (3/5)
It's kind of hard to justify paying the full retail price for The Force Unleashed, but if your a Star Wars nut then you've probably already payed the cash and bought it. But for those on the fence I'd recommend renting it instead, the game only lasts between seven or eight hours and although there are reasons to playthrough again because of the extra collectables and the game overall. It's still hard to justify the overall retail price compared to what you get from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED (360, PS3) GETS 4 STARS OUT OF 5.


Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (True English Gent)
The Classical Fashioned Man.
The Classical Fashioned Man.

2 Comments

Blog 3: The Next Next Gen Console Talk & Playstation HOME!

Coming from an Island in the Sea!
Coming from an Island in the Sea!












Hello My Fellow Giantbombers!

I hope this blog finds you well, its been a good while since I wrote up my last gaming/personal blog here at GiantBomb.com and I have a few reasons for that. One, I've been busy playing a good few games of late so when I have had the time to write they have been in the form of reviews or previews and two, well I haven't been doing to well with my Arthritis these past two weeks so my mind as been occupied with that. Anyway, as I may have said previously I only like to do a gaming blog on matters that need discussing and today I have a good mix of topics. First of all I'll be discussing the matter of all this 'Next Generation' console talk currently hitting the gaming media. It seems theres a lot of Halo 4 talk going about and whose actually developing the game and if it is actually being developed for some brand new Microsoft hardware we haven't seen yet. I'll also be taking a look at Playstation HOME and give my own personal view on it as we hopefully get nearer its launch sometime this year. 


THE NEXT NEXT GENERATION OF CONSOLE.... ALL A LITTLE TOO SOON!

So as you may have read these past few weeks, there as been some talk about the possibility of the next generation of consoles revealing themselves in the very near future. Well at least from Microsoft's end there is. A lot of this talk seems to have appeared from rumours concerning Microsoft's much loved Halo series originally created and developed by Bungie Studios. But what's next you ask for this money making console FPS? well if you are like me and thought the series had seen its end you must have been as dumb as a very poorly designed doornail as it appears Microsoft still want to see Halo games (of all forms I suspect) hitting the gaming market in the years to come. Of course we all know about the surprisingly unhyped Halo Wars hitting XBOX 360 and PC sometime first quarter 2009. But after the somewhat dispointing Halo 3 Single Player Experience we shouldn't be trully surprised to hear that Microsoft are looking to continue the series and see it launch their brand new console sometime in the coming years. But the question on the media's lips is who would be developing the next installment in this hugely successful (both financially and critically) series of games. Of course Bungie Studios are understandly off to make other games and I can't blame them. I enjoyed Halo 3, but it was painfully clear that Bungie wanted to start something new and fresh then do yet another Halo game. So it makes perfect sense that Microsoft would look to some solid studios who would simply jump and even kill to get their hands on an I.P like Halo with its huge fanbase. Early rumours were stating that Gearbox Software were developing the game for a brand new console for Microsoft. In fact to be fair these rumours concerning Gearbox Software and something 'Huge' have been around for a good while now so its no surprise that the media put one and one together to get a news article where they could finally put up that picture of Randy Pitchford as a Halo soldier wannabe. 
Randy Pitchford.... Prepared for Battle!
Randy Pitchford.... Prepared for Battle!

I will admit that I'm a big fan of Gearbox Software and there games. Especially their Brothers in Arms series which in my own personal opinion is one of the most underated and underappriated franchises currently in gaming. Everyone seems to think that because it's set in World War Two, it would be some same old FPS game and they don't look at the fantastic Brotherhood storyline Gearbox are telling with the series and the fantastic gameplay on offer. Anyway, so the rumours began that this 'huge' game being developed by Gearbox Software was indeed Halo 4 for Microsoft's new XBOX. Whatever Microsoft are going to call their new system is for future discussion but already rumours are circulating that big M's recent ownership of the trademark 'XBOX PURE' as lead many to believe that this is infact a new name for this so called new XBOX system. Of course its to be expected that Microsoft are working on a new system for the next generation of consoles, the same can be said for Nintendo and Sony who I'm sure are hard at work right at this moment developing new hardware. Its how gaming consoles have grown over the many years and I don't see why it should be any different. But the big question as to be asked, are we ready for a new console generation?

My own personal opinion is a big fat NO! simply because it still feels as if there is so much more to come from the currently avaliable consoles on the market. I guess its understandable that Microsoft's future consoles are the first to be rumoured and discussed considering they were the first to launch a brand new console in this current generation with the XBOX 360 which was launched in 2005. But even with that it still feels a little to soon in my view. Plus, the all important costs of these consoles must be considered when talking about future consoles. There are still many folk out there who simply can't afford the consoles currently avaliable and for those that did purchase them, are still feeling the burn in their wallets from the overall cost. I know for a fact that I paid over the odds for both my Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii but I still don't regret purchasing either as both clearly have a long live cycle in them and thats where this debate gets a little tricky.

Sony famously predicted a 10 year life cycle for their Playstation 3 system, now I agree with them to a certain degree. I do infact believe that this current generation of consoles still have a lot to offer us and I'm pretty sure a lot of developers would agree with that to. Its a gamers nature to want to discuss the future of gaming so these types of rumours are to expected. But it still feels as if there is so much we still haven't seen from the consoles of this generation. The Wii is still yet to meet its ambition for perfect motion controlled gaming and there all sorts of the PS3 we have yet to see to its full potential. Its only this past year or so that the XBOX 360 as started to show its limitations with the most recent discussion being about id's RAGE Engine that will appear on the 360 console next year if all goes to plan. id have stated that the 360 is holding its RAGE Engine back and that the game will have to be distributed on two disks due to the 360's limited Harddrive space. Now you maybe thinking ''but can't you upgrade the 360's harddrive?'' and you'd be right. But of course you have take into account that not everyone as upgraded their harddrive due to the expense of doing so. For example, I payed £60 for a 320GB HDD for my Playstation 3 console yet I at to pay over £100 for Microsoft's 120GB HDD. Currently, there are still many gamers using the original 8GB HDD found on most 360 consoles nowadays. 

All of this means that at one point in the future a turning point will be made where the 'next generation' will come into focus, possibly for all three of the major companies. Even if Sony might not be ready to discuss a Playstation 4 I suspect Microsoft will force them to discuss it with whatever they unveil in the years or so to come. Of course its also important to remember that games consoles take time to be developed and most commonly find a year later release from first being showed to the outside world. Its possible that next year we could see the first signs of the advertising bandwagon from Microsoft as they get set to show the world whats next for the 360 fanbase and the gaming media alike. I do honestly believe it will be Microsoft who will be the first to unveil a future console, I was never totally sure if they felt the same about their console as Sony feel about theirs. I don't believe Microsoft see a 10 year life cycle in the 360 at all, though I'm sure it will still sell well even after the launch of a future console due to its solid mixture of titles avaliable for the system. There are already signs of this happening with the recent 360 price-cuts around the world, though I'm still not sure if I am ready for the next generation of consoles. I'm not even sure if I'm ready to talk about the next generation of consoles, even though I'm doing so now! But Gaming being as big as it as ever been, who knows what the future might show? so many questions are to be answered, but I'm not totally sure that I want the answers just yet.

SONY WANT YOU TO FEEL AT HOME ON THE PLAYSTATION 3!

Remember Playstation HOME, you probably do but not for the right reasons I suspect. Sony's much hyped new virtual world is still yet to be released despite being in Beta for what feels like an enternal lifetime. Despite being in development since 2005 it might not surprise many when I say that its got a huge possibility of falling flat on its face. Simple fact is Playstation HOME is a huge risk for Sony, but the question is if the risk is worth it? I think so, Sony are desperate to make their console different to current competitors on the market and when you consider the money Sony have piled into this project its no surprise to see Sony give it 100% considering its so far down the line. Now recently Sony have told the gaming media that HOME will indeed be seeing a 2008 release, and maybe sooner then we think as rumours speculate an October Release of HOME Version 1.0. which seems very realistic considering they have just reopened the HOME Beta to a much bigger audience of Playstation fans. Your True English Gentleman as sadly missed out on getting a HOME Beta code, though he as been keeping a close eye on developments as the beta as progressed. HOME as seen a lot of changes this last year or so, and most for the better I'd say. But as I have seen HOME develop and grow, I can't removed that spec of doubt in the back of my mind.

When taking a closer look at HOME, its hard not to compare it to the Online Virtual World Second Life. Even though they are appearing on two different platforms they are offering a very similar experience. Except hopefully HOME won't run at two frames per second like my experiences with Second Life, a virtual world which I didn't enjoy visiting. Thankfully the signs for HOME are much better, even though it won't be as open to experimentation (or abuse, depends on how you see it) and will be a more Sony driven experience. I don't see why that should be such a bad thing. Concerns and questions about HOME are understandable, is this really what Playstation 3 users want? and how will it expand to actually be beneficial to the experience of the user to spend the time and visit HOME. It could turn out in one of two ways, it will either be a surprise success and become the must have feature for all future consoles or it could be a simple feature that will be forgotten and maybe even abandoned by Sony in a years to come. Its hard to tell at the moment, But one thing is for sure and thats that the experience of HOME will totally depend on the users found in this virtual space. I can't personally see myself spending a whole lot of time with friends in HOME, its not because HOME wouldn't work its more because I don't see the point. If I want to hang out with mates I'll hang out with mates in the real world, not some virtual world with my virtual self being. Of course there may be friends that live overseas where this feature might be nice to have, but yet again the question must be asked if the PS3 really needs this? and does it have much of a future. A lot will depend on HOME's first couple of months when it launches sometime soon, if it offers a chilled out environment for PSN Friends to hang out, talk about the lattest games or play a good round of Resistence Multiplayer then HOME could possibly be a surprise to those that have continually doubted it. But if it starts with a bug infested experience then it'll do nothing but provide more paper to add to the fire of Anti-HOME gamers.  
Surely that's a flood risk?
Surely that's a flood risk?

I still don't know what to fully think about HOME. I would love to see it work, and in all honesty the foundations are there for it to be a unique experience on any console. But that spec of doubt continues to get bigger and bigger as time goes by, I haven't even discussed the fact that you'll need to pay for 'virtual' items with 'real' money. Its another concept that doesn't sit well with me and shouldn't even be in there. But I'm sure folks will still buy virtual furnishings for their HOME Appartment. Maybe I'm just a tight fisted English Gentleman, who knows!! its just that theres far more opportunities for HOME to fail then there is to succeed. There does seem to be a lot riding on HOME, and although I'm not convinced it will please the masses of PSN users out there. I'm pretty confident it will find a nice place in the heart of some PSN users looking for a more unique experience then they'll find on any other console currently on the market. 

The actual future of HOME is a little more foggy. Will we see paid expansion packs? Will we see developers actually making games for use only in HOME? and will folk actually spend real life cash on virtual items? in fact quickly returning to virtual items, the more I think about them the more it reminds me of the DLC avaliable for most music rhythm games. Whats the difference between a Downloadable Song on Guitar Hero and a chair on Playstation HOME? There both virtual items and they both don't actually physically exist so maybe I need to rethink my view on purchasing virtual items with real life money when HOME Launches. Maybe its not as mad a sounding idea then I first thought. 

Both Sony and HOME fans are hopeing HOME will be a success. As I have already said a lot of it will depend on how its viewed in the first couple of months, and I will indeed be taking a closer look at HOME when it launches as its a concept that as interested me ever since I first saw it unveiled sometime ago. At the moment the gaming media enjoy seeing Sony fail with there many concepts and ideas, for Sony I hope HOME is a success because I still feel the PS3 is a console that needs to prove to people that it can be up there with the 360 when you consider the Hardcore audience of gamers. I won't go into details concerning my own opinions of specific features found in HOME, I'll do that when the feature officially launches in the coming months and I think I've spoken enough concerning the matter.

Hopefully my next Gaming Blog will be sooner rather then later, though I will be busy these next two weeks with a few real life matters (including some less then joyful Hospital appointments) so I'll be updating my page as much as I can. I hope to get around to finishing some games off so I can get around to writing up my reviews on them. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. I do greatly appriate people reading them and please add me to your Friends Network if you wish, I'm currently in the phase of accepting anyone due to the fact that the friends network bug seems to have quiet. 

Thanks for Reading and Keep on Gaming!!
True English Gentleman!
For Queen and Country!
For Queen and Country!


1 Comments

True English Gent Reviews: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames!

MERCENARIES 2: WORLD IN FLAMES REVIEW!
MERCENARIES 2: WORLD IN FLAMES REVIEW!












MERCS 2 AS ITS FAULTS, BUT THERES STILL A WHOLE LOT OF FUN TO BE HAD WITH THIS SOLID SEQUEL 

For those of you who have ever experienced Pandemic Studios's Mercenaries: Playground Destruction then you'll know what to expect from its sequel. This is because so much of Mercs 2 feels similar to its Predecessor in so many ways and although in areas this is not indeed a bad thing, it is when you compare it to so many other open world games currently avaliable on this generation of consoles. Its fair to argue that aspects of what Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction offered was ahead of its time, but deep in the vains of Mercs 2 you'll find the blood of the last generation of gaming consoles and sadly its these issues that let Mercs 2 down because even though its still a fun game to pick up and play and you'll find still find a lot to like about this game, its hard not to notice the games many faults, glittches and issues as you try to enjoy the experience on offer here.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames lets you take control of one of three Mercenaries who simply want to get paid for their ''destructive'' work. You can play as Mattias Nilsson, Chris Jacobs and Jennifer Mui. All do offer a variation of options when it comes to going into battle for instance Mattias regenerates Health much quicker then the other two Mercs avaliable but you can't help but feel you'll still be using them for the same destruction everytime and the game doesn't really reward you if you try to be stealthy or precise. Its better to go in all guns-a-blasing and hope to survive. All three of the Mercs do have their own attitude to things and there is some nice dialog to be found throughout the game. The game is set in Venezuela and sees you helping a local drug lord by the name of Ramon Solano. He gets you to help rescue a captive VZ general. But rather then pay you for your hard work he decides its actually best to kill you (thats the good old Drug Lords for you). You escape and end up getting a bullet in your butt so begins a story of wanting revenge as you look to get your hands on Ramon Solano. The Story does help the experience but feels a little flat for the most part as all you'll trully care about is blowing stuff up, something Mercenaries 2 does very well. Compared to the original, it is in fact nice to have a story act like a spine to you being in Venezuela in the first place so for that it is to be credited.

Look... Stuff Blowing Up! Something Mercs 2 does better then any!
Look... Stuff Blowing Up! Something Mercs 2 does better then any!
When I said that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames felt similar to the original I meant it, because theres many aspects of the game that we have seen all before. The game generally controls exactly as its original, though thats not a bad thing as the controls were one aspect of Mercs: Playground of Destruction they got very right. It still feels responsive and very active, the only complaint to be found there is the slow turning the system seems to have. It can feel like it takes ages to turn your character 360 degrees and when in the middle of a heavy fire fight that is something that can easily cause death. But controls a more then solid and do a great job, with a game like Mercs its important the controls don't get in the way of the total destruction of Venezuela. Vehicles for the most part control perfectly well, Helicopters have a nice feel to them and although Tanks can take a bit of time to adjust to its all good and will be easy for anyone to pick up and play. 

Graphically Mercs 2 looks impressive when you order that air strike in to blow up that row of beautiful Ancient buildings for no good reason but your own personal sick pleasure. But the world itself, or Venezuela to be precise. Can look a little iffy in spots with some game textures either looking blurry or downright ugly. The game runs well enough and I experienced very little slow down through my play. There are some graphical glitches to be found throughout the world though and theres also a lot of pop in and pop out of objects of the world. These are to be expected with open worlds like this though there often can be to many to be excused and I defiantly ran into some of these moments while playing Mercs 2. But to be fair, it does its job fine and looks solid enough, as I have already stated Explosions look superb and have a real impact feeling to them. The much talked about ''total world destruction'' that developers Pandemic Studios hyped is debatable as not everything in the world is destructable. But I would say about 80 to 85 Percent of the world can be destroyed by some means. So for the most part Mercs 2 looks solid and runs well. Grand Theft Auto 4 showed that its hard to make a game look pretty all over the board when your building a game around an open world without any loading screens while traversing that world. Sadly my experience of the PC Version was less then great, it should be mentioned that at this moment the PC Version seems to lack higher resolutions for bigger monitors which is very disapointting but hopefully can be patched. Graphically the PC Version looked identical to the 360 and PS3 Versions of the game.

Many of the familar missions found in the original return, most noteably the obtaining of a targeted individual and either killing them or capturing them to get your pay from your customers your working for. Its simple but still a mission type that works well even if it can get a little repetitive from time to time. Repetition can sadly affect Mercs 2 in a big way, I learnt with the original that if I got a little bored I would stop playing and come back to it another time. This plan as worked again with its sequel as areas of the game can feel a little like the same old job from time to time and will lower peoples view on the experienced offered. Unlike my experience with Assassins Creed, I didn't find myself fasinated by the world itself to keep playing on even if I became frustrated at the mission types on offer here. But saying that, there is still a solid mix on offer that will no doubt please fans just as long as you don't try to play through the game on day one. There are a number of other aspects such as the common find and pickup mission modes where you can obtain spare parts for your own personal engineer to build custom vehicles. I couldn't help but feel that if the world of Mercs 2 had more detail and heart the experience would have been a much better package then the one we have ended up with.

Who doesn't love a good old explosion or two..... or maybe three.... or 700 more!!
Who doesn't love a good old explosion or two..... or maybe three.... or 700 more!!
Despite its problems, Mercenaries 2: World In Flames is a very appealing game. Instant action and enjoyment, not to mention the fun Co-Op on offer here. Yes, you heard me right. Mercs 2 offered Co-Op action with a friends and its a lot of fun. Infact its fair to say depending on your tastes, you might find Mercs 2 a whole lot more fun when your blowing stuff up with a friends rather then blowing stuff up on your own. Personally for me I do enjoy playing this game by myself, though I have played quite a bit of Co-Op on 360 and some on PC with friends. It seems to run pretty well, though with the PC Version the game seem to crash more often then not. But these are things that can be easily fixed with a patch or two, but the princeable is these things simply shouldn't be found in the so called 'final' version of the game. On the XBOX 360 though, the Co-Op ran well and was easy to pop in and pop out off. A lot of that is due to the superb XBOX LIVE system found on Microsoft's console which defiantly makes things oh so much easier to play Co-Op in. Though I haven't played the PS3 Version, I would suspect its runs aswell as the 360 version in both Co-Op and Single Player. 

Like a lot of aspects to Mercenaries 2, the Co-Op isn't perfect. The game doesn't do a Bionic Commando: Rearmed and adjust the difficulty level of the A.I when a friend pops in to help blow up half of Venezuela making the game feel often to easy. Areas of the game when played alone can feel way to easy so to make the game even easier in Co-Op feels a little silly. It would have been great to find that enemies were of a larger number to fight against, not to mention tougher to beat. But thats not to be and its one area of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames that left me disapointed. But you can still have fun playing, anyone who doesn't love blowing up building and getting virtually paid for it isn't human in my eyes. So your bound to have some fun in Co-Op even if it won't be as challenging or unique as you'd hoped it would be. Thankfully the game runs perfectly well from my experience in Co-Op and I didn't see any huge graphically fallout from having a second player in the world, everything still looked solid enough and explosions still looked as spectacular..... oh the explosions! 

Speaking of explosions! to create these explosions you'll need weapons and Mercs 2 as enough to please most folk, you'll always have your trusty RPG that often feels more like a machine gun then an actual RPG as you'll find enough ammo to keep your long necked beauty prepared to fire on that oh so tall tower and let destruction commence. Most of the weapons feel solid enough, though some weapons felt a little useless. Maybe it depends on your playing style but I hardly even touched a sniper rifle and when I did I felt as if they were some sort of afterthought. But I'm sure they can be of use to a different gamers style of play. Your character can only carry two weapons (usually the RPG and a Machine Gun of sorts) and they also have access to grenades and the ever so useful Satchet Pack for blowing stuff up. Like the original, there is a sick pleasure in strapping a few satchet charges to a vehicle and driving it into a enemy base for a huge explosion to occur moments later. It looks spectacular and feels great at the same time..... what else could you ask for. 

The game world also features a variation of vehicles. A hell of a lot more then the original and driving actually feels pretty solid. Its no GTA4 but cars handle a hell of a lot more realisticly then the original and special mention goes to the bikes found around Venezuela. The Bikes handle well and are a lot of fun to ride though not always the best choice of transport. There are also many military vehicles to be found (this is a warzone afterall) such as the mobile AA gun and the usually fun tanks to blow stuff up with. Infact everything about Mercenaries 2 drives you towards blowing something or someone up. I'm not saying thats a bad thing though. But its clear Pandemic Studios wanted to offer a satisfying experience to gamers who want a quick adrenaline rush or two and Mercenaries 2 will do that with passion. But for those looking for a deeper maybe even longer experience will be disapointing as the game doesn't totally feel as if it was worthy of its many delays in production when you consider the many bugs and glitches found throughout the game. I came across a good number of glitches including one where my character got stuck in an animation loop while climbing a ladder. I have also ran into some issues with the games foliage, while running if I hit a bush I would get slowed down by the weird animation of the bushes and trees around. Basically it seems to have a weird hit system that is hard to describe, but was very frustrating. Also not a lot of great things can be said about the games A.I. it can often act a little silly and slow, if at all. I ran into a good few enemy soliders who simply didn't even shoot at me. There not that much of a challenge neither, though in large number they can cause you more of a battle and require you to think a little better, But its to inconsistent to give it due and dissapoints for the most part. In this current gen gamers expect a little more from the A.I then what we find in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. 

OVERALL!

Pandemic Studios have done a solid job in pleasing fans who were looking of a current gen Mercenaries game. But the game could have been so much more and could have been generally better developed. Some gameplay aspects feel old gen while other areas that do work well are more then often affected by general game faults and glitches. It looks solid enough and does explosions better then any other game out there. But Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is the perfect example that explosions don't always equal success as gamers nowadays ask for so much more then that and looking at it as a whole, you can't help but feel that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames as failed to live up to the hope of fans who were looking for the perfect Mercenaries experience.

GRAPHICS (3/5)
Generally looks solid enough, colourful with some nice touches here and there. But some blurry textures and ugly pop-in and pop-out object issues affect the general look to the game. Explosions looks great though as does the games three main Mercenaries. Its just sad that amount of detail couldn't be carried throughout the game. It runs well, even in Co-Op and doesn't seem to take a heavy hit when a second player enters your own personal Venezuela. But the actual country can feel a little plain and lifeless and doesn't seem to have much of a character when compared to another open world game like Grand Theft Auto 4.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)
Not a lot as changed from the original Mercenaries Gameplay-wise. Not to much of a bad thing though as even today the gameplay feels solid enough and shows what a great forward thinking game the original was. Characters generally move with great response even if the turning degree speed of your Merc is a little to slow when in heavy action. A.I is to inconsistent and you'll come across a gliched enemy or two. Vehicles are solid enough and some are even quite enjoyable to drive, though tanks can feel a little strange at first and require some practice. But Helicopters handle well and aren't a chore to control like they are in many other games. 

SOUND (3.5/5)
The game sounds fine for the most part, with only two really worthy mentions being the great impact sound heard when you blow up a building or when those fuel tanks finally explode and the sound of gunfire which while probably not being the mode realistic out there, still sounds surprisingly good and in surround sound is defiantly one of the high points for the games sound. Other then that its nothing special, cars and bikes can sound totally odd and unrealistic but nothing to bad, remember this really isn't a Driving simulation game so such issues can be forgiven. But theres nothing to special on offer here and you get what you'd expect.

VALUE (4/5)
Despite its problems, you can still have a lot of fun with Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. If you enjoyed the original you'll defiantly find more to like about its sequel as it generally offers more to do and see. Co-Op is fun and does what it says ont the tin. Without Co-Op the game would recieve a lower score but not many games do Co-Op to well and for the most part Mercenaries 2 does a fine job and you'll find a lot to enjoy here. The games longevity depends on the gamers playing style as you may find you play each character different and I guess its fine to consider some gamers will indeed do that. But my own personal view on that is that my own playing style would find me attacking the same situations the same way other ever i am play as. But the world itself is still interesting enough to enjoy and there is a good amount of value found in the Mercenaries 2 package. But you can't help but feel that this game could have done multiplayer perfectly, GTA4 showed that you could so why couldn't Mercenaries 2?

MERCENARIES 2: WORLD IN FLAMES (360, PS3, PC) GETS 3.5 STARS OUT OF 5


Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (True English Gentleman)
Toodle Pip my friend!
Toodle Pip my friend!

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True English Gent: FIFA 09 Demo Impressions!

WILL THE DEMO SCORE YOUR PREORDER CASH OR SCORE AN OWN GOAL

I can still recall playing FIFA 96 on my Sega Megadrive System. That game was indeed my first ever true game for one of my favourite consoles of all time. I can still recall the first match I ever played on that Christmas morning, it was England Vs Jamaica and despite my eager determination to win, I would go on to lose 1-0. Maybe it was me being young, but I remember that game being quite tough when it wanted to. Yet its fair to say that EA Sports got lazy and was left in the dust by Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series for many a good year. I to found myself only spending cash on PES and often not even considering EA Sports FIFA series as an alternative . How things change, but those things have only trully changed these past two years or so as EA Sports have got their act together and Konami seem to be stuck finding it hard to move to the new generation of consoles in the right way. So with another set of Football (Soccer to you yanks) on the way these next few months, demos were to be expected and the FIFA 09 Demo hit our consoles as hard as Zinedine Zidane's Headbutt in the World Cup Final. Heres what I thought of it.

Rooney in a FIFA Game... NEVER!
Rooney in a FIFA Game... NEVER!
Before I go into the details of how the demo felt, I wish to give great credit to EA Sports Uefa Euro 2008 game which hit just before the actual tournament started over the summer. The game showed the first true great improvments in actual gameplay that FIFA 08 often lacked and the majority of Football fans agreed that it was a great leap forward. Its fair to say that FIFA 09 builds on the improvments made in Euro 2008, as actual gameplay is the best I've felt in a FIFA game for god knows how long. Things can still feel a little weird at times but I'd say 80% of the weird scripted feelings to actual gameplay as been improved. The gameplay flows well with great animation and passing that in my personal opinion matches that of past PES games.

Of course this might be a small detail with most other games, but with Sports games its a must have and so many out there get animation and gameplay flow oh so wrong. FIFA 09 Demo feels great to play and its also fair to say both your teams A.I and that of your opponents is smarter then ever, they make more runs through the defense or use their brains when they are attacking your defense. The A.I in FIFA 08 could be challenging, though it showed way to many issues in certain situations including sleeping defenders and the occasional keeper bug or two. FIFA 09 by the demo alone looks like the right improvments have been made in the right troublesome areas, and its a great sign of what to expect from the series if EA Sports actually listen to the fans.

Another worthy mention is the improved graphics on show, things look a lot sharper and generally cleaner with textures looking smart and consistent on a good HD Screen. Player faces can still look a little ape-like but things generally look a hell of a lot better to what we have seen from FIFA since the series hit current generation consoles, and with the much better animation on offer, its clear fans will enjoy having the extract bit of polish. In all honesty FIFA hasn't really had anything to worry about when it came to graphics as the PES series still seems to be struggling to find its current gen feet when it comes to getting the games graphical style. FIFA 09 is an improvment over 08 graphically and you'll definatly notice it when you play the demo.


The Demo itself offers a number of the usual teams to play as including Chelsea, A.C Milan and Real Madrid. Theres also Toronto F.C in there for the yanks/Canadians who might actually like their Soccer/Football. Of course FIFA still as the full license so you'll find your favourite football teams here with updated kits and players when the game gets its actual worldwide release. There are some very exciting new features on there way to, such as the ability to download weekly changed stats of all the players depending on that week of actual real life performance. so say Gareth Barry had a bad game for Aston Villa then you'll see his stats lower then the weeks previously. Its a nice new feature that will be hit or miss with fans, but its defiantly nice to see new features being offered by EA Sports. Another feature we finally get is the ''Be A Pro'' Campaign which will allow you to create a player and play for your favourite team over a couple of seasons. This is something I have wanted since we first saw ''Be A Pro'' back in 08 and should be a huge plus for the game. Of course thats not it, 10 vs 10 online matches will no doubt be amazing if it runs well online and many more new features on offer. in fact this is one of the most exciting FIFA games for a hell of a long time with some of the new features to be offered to fans of the beautiful game.

For the demo itself, well I very much enjoyed it. There seems to be improvments made all over the board when it comes to actual gameplay, and I'm sure anyone who enjoyed last years installment will find many things to like from the demo alone. The game is set for release this October and can expected to be in the top 10 for a good long while. How will it compare to its rival we are yet to know. But the signs are good for FIFA 09 which could possibly be one of the best FIFA games the series as seen to date. I reconmend you check the demo out on XBOX LIVE or PSN now. I'll also be reviewing the game when it gets releasedd in October.

From the Impressions of a True English Gent.
TrueEnglishGent.

Now for some cake!
Now for some cake!









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True English Gent Reviews: Castle Crashers!

SOMETIMES THE CASTLE DOES INDEED CRASH, BUT ITS STILL A FANTASTIC ARCADE GAME

So the eagerly anticipated new game from developers The Behemoth finally reached out XBOX 360's this week in Microsofts Summer of Arcade games. This LIVE Arcade game as been on the lips of many a gamer and its great to finally get our hands on this old school styled game. In many respects Castle Crashers does indeed go old school, for us folks who love their games its clear that The Behemoth drew from many classic games of old. Castle Crashers features a fantastic looking 2D art Style that keeps to the tradition of their first forray into game making with the superb Alien Hominid. The art style is all down to the superb work of Dan Paladin who as become reknowned for creating a number of stunning games on both console and PC in the form of flash games. Castle Crashers is no different, theres a lot of humour in this game and its everywhere. Sometimes it'll pop out of nowhere when you least expect it and the game deserves great credit for being as funny as it is. The game defiantly aims more towards groups(4) of gamers, but before I go into co-op I just wanted to state that this game doesn't require 4 players to have a blast with, infact at moments I'd even say playing the game single player is as much fun as its still the exact same gameplay that you find in co-op. Its just that you need to be more cauitious and understand that healing potion is your best friend. As you play one of the four characters you will build that knight up through levels, each level offers two experience points which can be spent on Attack, Defense, Magic and Agility. Attack and Defense are easy to understand, as is magic. Agility allows you to jump higher and also shoot your little bow a little further then before. As you also gain levels new combos appear that allow you to do some ace looking mid air Devil May Cry styled attacks. Each character is of his own, there are four all together. Red, Blue, Orange and Green. Each as a different magical power. You also level them up seperately, for instance I have mostly been leveling with the Red Knight so I now have him a much higher level with better attacks and better equipment on hand to do more damage. You can also play as extra characters from the main campaign, which is also a nice little touch and keeps you playing, though I have found no reason to stop playing yet.
The Knights who say....... Nothing at all!
The Knights who say....... Nothing at all!
The game sees you saving princesses, its a basic storyline but Castle Crashers isn't about the actual storyline, its all about the gameplay. In which it does a fantastic job for the most part. Combat feels great and the artistic animated style looks fantastic. When your surrounded by endlessly enemies fighting with everything, slashing and cutting you get that excitment feeling you use to get back in the days of the NES and thats what Castle Crashers does best. It is a great tribute to the classic games of old, and shows that these types of games still work today, they just need to have that somthing special rather then being another genetic mess. There are Numourous weapons for your knight to use, with different hit points and many will often increase or decrease specific stats of your Knight. For instance the heavier weapons will decrease your agility but may offer 2 + damage dealing. This as of course been seen in games before but its still a feature that works great in Castle Crashers and shows that the game as surprising more depth then you'd expect. Co-op is defiantly where a lot of fun is in this game, though I haven't had a great experience with it at all. For some odd reason the game seems to enjoy crashing at odd times in co-op and theres a number of bugs within the game. Some of these bugs are small, while some do destroy your enjoyment of the game overall. Which is disapointing considering what a great game it is and I can't help feel that it affects my score of the game in a big way. I have noticed some weird bugs such as totally getting stuck behind an object on the map to the game even freezing, requiring me to restart my console. Strangely when playing the campaign with a single knight I have come across very few problems and had a great experience. But considering this game is advertising itself on 4 player co-op fun, then to not have it run perfect is disappointing, also considering some fo the delays the game as had through development. It is a bit of a letdown when you consider the bugs, but there is still a lot here to make the purchase of Castle Crashers worthy of your Microsoft points with or without the bugs, but it may be a good idea to wait a few weeks till a patch as been released if your cautious about spending your 1,200 MS Points on it till its been all fixed up.

Thats one angry..... thing??
Thats one angry..... thing??

Castle Crashers is leveled base as you chase and rescue the Princesses, the game uses a map system similar to those of Super Mario games and theres also shops scattered around the map which allow you to purchase new weapons, healing potion, bombs and even more. The game also features some cool Arenas for you to develop your Knight and just have some mindless killing fun, and thats what Castle Crashers does best. Mindless sword swinging fun that is hard not to love. The game also features a great soundtrack, with some fantastic almost happy go lucky tunes that you can't help but kind of fall in love with and suit the games artisitic style fantastically. Castle Crashers is mindless fun, but does have some depth to it that would make some of those classic NES games proud and it clearly shows that such games are still deeply loved by gamers who don't require deep storylines or over the top graphics to have a lot of fun. The Behemoth have met the expectation that Alien Hominid set for Castle Crashers, and despite some of the simply frustrating bugs the game seems to currently have, you can't help but fall in love with whats generally on offer here. When you consider some of the great games currently avaliable on XBOX LIVE Arcade your spoiled for choice when it comes to quality, and to stand out from the crowd you need to do something or have something that very few if any games have. For the most part Castle Crashers does everything it should do, and I can't help to battle in my mind over what score this game deserves because as much as I love Castle Crashers. The bugs surrounding mainly co-op ae simply down to poor final testing of the game and I shouldn't remove that from my score just because I am really enjoying whats on offer here. Such bugs are always going to end up spoiling a gamers fun and I'll be brutally honest when I say that co-op lost much of its appeal to me after the problems I had with the game. But then again I just start playing and the music kicks in, I suddenly forget about the games bugs and throughally enjoy my time with Castle Crashers, a game that almost reaches Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 for overall addiction and fun. But as a honest English Gentleman and a honest reviewer I feel its only right that I critise Castle Crashers for the bugs currently inflcting The Behemoths newest project. As you can see my head is currently spinning on my final thoughts about this great game. I'm confident is will sell well on the Arcade if Bionic Commando: Rearmed is anything to go by and I do hope it does because its clear from playing that The Behemoth put in so much sweat and possibly ''blood'' into this game and for that it deserves at least a trial look at by my fellow gamers.

OVERALL!

The Behemoth have done it again, even despite its bugs Castle Crashers as surpassed its younger brother in Alien Hominid. Some of the best artistic stylings around, fantastic addicted gameplay that offers a surprisingly amount of depth and some trully happy tunes makes Castle Crashers one of those Arcade games that MUST be in your collection. You just may want to wait a week or so until the bugs have been removed though.

GRAPHICS (5/5)

Castle Crashers features more fantastic work from Dan Paladin, and its clear that everything in the world as been painfully drawn to perfection. Everything as a honest feel to it and its just a absolute pleasure to play in this world The Behemoth have created. Some fantastic humorous artistic touches are found throughout the game and will give you a good laugh or two. Theres simply no artistic style like it anywhere.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

I'll be honest here, Castle Crashers would have easily have gotten a 5/5 if it weren't for some of the painful bugs currently affecting the game. Castle Crashers plays great with a nice control scheme that is easy to pick up to play, but offers depth that if your willing to search for will reward you greatly. Plus those mid air Devil May Cry Styled attacks across the screen look way to good not to consider. Its just sad the bugs in co-op affect it so badly.

SOUND (5/5)

The game features a fantastically done soundtrack with some great happy go lucky tunes that you can't help but not fall in love with. They also suit the general artistic styling of the game aswell. Sound affects are solid and there are some nice touches to be found if you hear hard enough. It does more then a solid job and will please any music loving gamer.

VALUE (4/5)

Value wise, Castle Crashers needs to be compared with the also recently released Bionic Commando: Rearmed which sold for 800 MS Points and in general gameplay modes on offer simply offered more. Castle Crashers sells for 1,200 MS Points at the moment and for the most part is value for money. Though its hard not to compare it with Bionic Commando: Rearmed, but when you consider the hard work clearly put in the artistic style alone you do forget the price a little and theres defiantly many less impressive games on offer which are selling for the exact same price. So its all up to the individual gamer I guess.

Castle Crashers (XBOX LIVE Arcade) gets 4 Stars out of 5.


Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (TrueEnglishGent)
Thats Me!... Honest!
Thats Me!... Honest!

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Demo Impressions!

THE FORCE GETS UNLEASHED AS DEMO HITS OUR CONSOLES!

Well we finally got our sweaty Star Wars eager hands on one of the most interesting Star Wars games for a long time when Star Wars: The Force Unleashed hit our Playstation 3's and XBOX 360's this morning. After playing through the demo a numbe of times I wanted to tell folk of the impression I got of the game through what the demo offered. It was in honesty a small demo but there was more then enough in there to enjoy and to keep eager fans happy as we get closer and closer to its release date. LucasArt's newest Star Wars games puts you in control of Darth Vader's secret apprentice, also codenamed 'Starkiller' and as Starkiller you do the evil Sith Lords bidding. You probably already know the story so I won't go into any deep detail, but it does honestly sound like one of the most interesting Star Wars related stories since the Knights of the Old Republic games a few years ago. Of course being Darth Vader's 'Secret Apprentice' means that the character isn't seen as such an openly out there character and works in the shadow if you will. Not like a Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader himself, so in interest the story works in that form and there is a lot of possibilities that LucasArts will work around when it comes to working with the original Star Wars Trilogy. Of course what I truly want to talk about here is the demo, as I said the demo is pretty short but its nice to finally get our hands on the much anticipated game which was first truly shown as Tech Demo mainly concentrating on the material physics and of course the now famous Eurphoria engine that was seen in Grand Theft Auto 4.
Now that looks like fun!
Now that looks like fun!

The Demo level takes place on a Tie-Fighter Manufacturing facility under attack by a Jedi, that Jedi is the target for Starkiller after Darth Vader gave him instructions to kill everyone on board and leave no evidence. The level sees you fighting both Stormtroopers and soldiers of the Republic who are themselves fighting between themselves. You can use many of the powers avaliable to Starkiller such as his forcegrip and Force Electricity. The demo also features a quick force grip control tutorial which I reconmend if you are about to play the demo for the first time and even shows off some of that material physics in actions with th breaking of glass that looks very realisitic. Anyway, the demo for the most part is perfectly fine, its a little unspectacular in places but being a demo thats to be expected and I'm still looking forward to its release in September with a little more eagerness which as to be a good sign of a good demo. The force powers are fun and you do feel like a very powerful member of the Sith Order, of course its to be expected that some powers will be unlocked as you play the full game but the ones on offer in the demo are fun to play with and will do the job to please the fans who have been waiting patiently to play the game. The game in many respects does feel very much like the original trilogy of films as the whole atmosphere is darker and industry based. This is the first game to really offer such a thing for a good long while, the Tie Fighter Facility looks fantastic and really suits the Star Wars universe. Speaking of force powers, the force grip controls are first feel a little unconfortable and untidy, but after a few playthroughs you'll soon learn to master it. At least master the force grip powers avaliable in the demo. You control objects or enemies under your force grip using your two analog sticks on your XBOX 360 Controller, Though I have yet to play it I would be guessing the controls system is the same for the PS3 with it also using the two analog sticks. Lightsaber fighting is solid and yes, enemies take multiple hits. To be fair it was asking a lot to have one hit kills and probably would have affected the enjoying of the game a great deal. As I said, graphically The Force Unleashed is looking great. There is a real original styled feel to everything, even Starkiller himself as an almost Altiere (Assassins Creed) look to him that suits the character well. The physics system runs very well in the demo and though the new material physics that the tech demo showed are seen on only one or two occasions it does look like it will play a part in the full game once released. The level was mainly metal based so its to be expected. Anyway, the Europhia engine continues to look great. You can see enemies grab onto pieces of the environment in an attempt to survive and it defiantly adds some extra A.I to the enemies you face. Sound wise the game as a very Star Wars feel with some Star Wars orientated music in the background and the enemies sound perfect to the original source. Voice acting is sounding superb, Starkiller comes off as a soft spoken almost kind individual in the main cutscene yet you can't help but feel that is darkness, anger and pain in his words. Though he shows great loyalty to Dath Vader. Vader is also superbly voiced by Matt Sloan in the cutscene, for those wondering Matt Sloan does the voice of Vader's brother Chad in the brilliant Chad Vader videos and his voice sounds fantastic in the short cutscene. Lightsabers sound like lightsabers and blaster fire sounds like blaster fire. Everything as you' expect. I won't go into any real deep impressions just yet until I have of course played the full game through and experience the potentially fantastic story. But the demo was very enjoyable and though I'll admit it takes about three times playthrough to truly get the game, its worth it because its that The Force Unleashed shows great promise. I have today preordered my copy, though to be honest I was going to preorder it anyway. But the demo did a fine job at edging up my excitment for the game once it hits release next month. Theres potentially a lot to lookforward to and in my own opinion Starkiller is already looking like a great Star Wars character. But the demo is enjoyable and I reconmend you check it out if you haven't already. Of course there are one or two moans I had at first but after playing through three times they were almost forgotten as I finally got into the flow on offer with The Force Unleashed. I look forward to it and will have a review up once completed. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is released the 19th of September (European Release Date) so check it out.

From the Impessions of a True English Gent!
SaitenMar.
Thats Me!
Thats Me!
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Blog 2: So-Called Soul Calibur Perversion & Geometry Madness.

Hello My Fellow GiantBombers!

How nice it is to speak with you again, I hope that everything as been well. Over here in the UK the weather as been hot and unconfortable for most though some folk seem to be enjoying the weather. I have no problem with that, its just that when I see a shirtless fat man walk into Asda Supermarket with Sunglasses on, I remember why I hate the hot weather so much. Despite being born in the Summer (August 2nd) I have grown to hate this time of year, I hate being hot, sweaty and unconfortable, and would much rather be in the freezing cold anyday compared to a summers burning hot day with no breeze to chill you out. Even my trusty fan as had a hard time of it these past few days. Thankfully this heat hasn't affected me from visting GiantBomb.com and have started getting into the Editing Mood that as filled all GiantBombers. I hope to do some more editing when I get the time and its a great method of involving the sites fans in everyway. Anyway, lets get onto what I want to discuss in Blog 2.

SO-CALLED SOUL CALIBUR PERVERSION!

With the excitment of Soul Calibur 4's release this Friday, its no surprise the game is being heavily talked about by both fighter fans and gamers in general. But strangly enough, most of the talk doesn't suround the fact that Star Wars Characters are playable in the game (though it as caused some unrest for even the most hardcore fans) but the fact that many feel the Developers have taken the female form to new levels of Perversion. I have read many different comments concerning this matter and have been somewhat surprised at the fact that most of the anger is coming from Male gamers. It's perfectly fine to have a view on the female form, and its kind of nice to hear that fans feel there is a limit you can go with these types of things and hopefully some developers will understand this. Yet I can't help but feel its a little bit of a pathetic arguement to put forward. I bring before the court 'Ninja Gaiden 2' which could be as criminal finger pointed at for the same matter as much as Soul Calibur 4 as been of late. For those that have experiene Ninja Gaiden 2, you'll know what I am refering to when I speak of the huge assets some of featured ladies have. Yet I don't recall a great outcry when that game was released a few months back, it's an odd thing yet maybe its because folk have come to expect that from Team Ninja who of course also do the famous Dead or Alive games, which includes those somewhat desturbing beach volleyball games. So thats one of the reasons why I find this arguement a little on the pathetic side. I have never recalled female gamers I have played with getting upset about seeing a huge breasted women jumping around, be it a tomb or an arena. Lara Croft is a fine example of this, in the 90's she became a Icon for both men and women. 'Women wanted to be her, Men wanted to be with her' was a common line when refering to Ms Croft in the 90's and it probably still holds true today and she is still seen as one of the most strong iconic women in gaming. You can't doubt that Lara had some very nice assets and it became one of her charms, at least it did for me as a growing teenager (but we won't get into that) But we aren't here to talk about the Tomb Raider games, we are here to discuss the fact that quite a large amount of the Soul Calibur fanbase got a little upset about how big Ivy's assets had become when the game was first announced back in 2007.

Perversion or Beauty?
Perversion or Beauty?
I'll happily admit that a change as been made to the breast sizes of some of the lovely Soul Calibur ladies, yet I still found it strange that such a responce came when Ivy was first seen when the game was announced. Being a 19 year old myself, I wouldn't say I would be on the frontlines picketing for the game to be changed as it doesn't make a huge difference if big breasted women are in a game or not. But as a happy male I see no wrong in seeing a little bounce here and there, the Dead or Alive series as been doing it for a good while now and as often been an interesting topic of discussion with fighter fans. It's also worth mentioning that the women in Soul Calibur have always been strong representations of the female form. Characters such as Taki, Sophitia and Ivy are all powerful figures throughout the series and are great rolemodels for female gamers. Yes you could argue that large breasts are simply not needed in a fighting game, or any game to think of it. Yet there will always be a crowd to please and this small change is definantly aimed towards that audience, the kind of audience that leave comments like 'wow, look at her big boobies'. The respect for women is important, but when it comes to virtual women things change a little. This is why I don't agree with many fans calling it perversion because it simply isn't, if your to bring that arguement forward then why not bring forward female abuse because the game allows you to use a male character to beat down on a female character. The argument as no grounds and I find it hard to agree with the majority who have left hate comments towards it, are the male gamers speaking out just to sound sensitive and impress a lady friend or two? Why Soul Calibur 4 when Dead or Alive and the Ninja Gaiden games have had it for sometime now. There will be those that may find it a little unconfortable, and I don't doubt some females will be a little angry about seeing such figures and bouncy physics in action when the game gets release. But for the most part I find it hard to bring a worthy argument to agree with those that say it is perverted, it simply isn't and your a little to late to bring that arguement forward when you look at a number of other games that have featured large breasted women. I find it odd that a game which presents such strong, tough and hard fighting forms of women gets so much stick yet the Dead or Alive Beach VolleyBall games are seen more as a joke. I also find it hard to believe that many of the men who bring up this point truly feel this way, because I don't know many men who hate the idea of large breasted women in a game or two. So is this all a little silly, well in my personal opinion the female form is a beautiful thing, and for instance ivy's figure in the new Soul Calibur game is art. Thats exactly what it is, Art and Art should be admired. So admire these beautiful figures of art and stop acting like you care about how women feel about it. I'm sure some female gamers will play Soul Calibur 4, but I'm also sure most if not all will just ignore the fact that some of the female characters in the game have had their breasts expanded a bit. The female form should be admire not argued about.

THE GEOMETRY WARS CONTINUE!

When the XBOX 360 Launched theres no denying that the so called 'XBOX LIVE Arcade' was pretty average at best. I only recall Uno being of great worthy mention when that game was released and its fair to say that it was one specific game that made everyone stand up and take notice, both gamers and developers. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was a updated HD Version of the popular MiniGame found in Project Gotham Racing 2 for the Original XBOX. Retro Evolved was a deserving name for it evolved the classic 2D Shooter style that was once famous in the arcades and evolved it in graphical ways. The game kind of came out of nowhere and was a huge hit on the Marketplace, and is still to this day one of the most played LIVE Arcade games to date. The gameplay is both simple and dynamically challenging, though I have personally never been peticulary great at Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. I have always loved it as a game, its addictive and can easily suck you into the experience, not to mention the fact that with a nice piece of your favoured music can become a quite relaxing experience. That is great credit to the game considering there is only two modes in Retro Evolved. Retro Evolved is one (the HD Updated Version of the PGR3 Minigame) and Retro Mode (the classic Minigame which was found on the PGR3 Disc). Its gameplay saw you using your little ship to travel around the square arena and destroy coloured pixel icons that travelled around and often came straight at your little mini ship, you controlled movement with your left analog stick and you controlled firing your weapon in different directions using your right analog stick. It works perfectly and is a blast to experience, and in my own opinion made the game oh so much more fun. Retro Evolved was also popular for its outlandish art style, on a full HD TV it can look spectacular as you go around destroying ship to ship. Often the action can become intense, the game will often throw large amounts of enemies your way and the skill to getting high scores in Retro Evolved is to understand how the game works.
Geometry Wars 2 in Action.
Geometry Wars 2 in Action.

If you have played the original LIVE Arcade game to death then I have great news for you, although you probably already know this. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is coming this Wednesday the 30th of July. Quick I know, its a rarity for a game to  have its release date bought forward but its welcomed none the less. Geometry Wars 2 was actually announced at Microsoft's E3 Press Conference and is looking great. For 800 MS Points the game will offer quite a few extra modes including some co-op modes. Sadly tho, Bizzare Creations (developers of the game) have confirmed that there is no online co-op. That seems insane to me, not to have any co-op in a Geometry Wars 2 game is a downer but we have faired well enough so far with the original and to be fair the argument that it would be to much for LIVE to handle is understandable with everything blowing up so beautifully, it would cause hell for the LIVE servers.  Speaking of Beautiful, its fair to say that the newest Geometry Wars is looking even better then the original. What can only be called as a  'special extra effect' as been added which gives the game more of a colour glow feel and looks great especially in action.  Its hard to see this game being nothing but a huge success on the market, will it be as successful as the original LIVE Classic who knows? but I suspect it will become a much loved game. The Arcade currently as some real gems that I have only started to experience of late, and with games such as Mega Man 9 on the way we have every right be excited about what LIVE Arcade will have on offer in the coming year or so. I'll try and get a review up of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 up once I have spent a good amount of time with the game. I am also getting a Pyromat Sound Rocker S2000 Chair this week hopefully if delivery goes well so I'm looking forward trying that out properly after only experience a short time with it at my local PC Hardware store. Should be great and I might discuss that a little in a future blog. As for Geometry Wars 2, well look forward to that on Wednesday the 30th of July (aka, This Wednesday) and I already predict you must download it.

EXTRA NOTE OR TWO!

This Saturday seems me turn 20, I'll admit I hate birthdays with a passion since I've got older though I still know friends who act like 4 year old kids when there birthdays come around. I hate being the centre of attention so I hate birthdays. Also it comes at a bit of a bad time. My Birthday will probably get in the way of me playing Soul Calibur 4 in my new chair which is never a good thing. Probably won't do anything although some friends have put a few ideas forward. Probably won't do any of them tho, I don't drink or smoke so to my friends I'm a bore in many ways. But I'm content, happy and not to bothered about turning 20. I'm sure when I look back I'll regret a thing or two. Its just I hate doing things that just don't interest me. If I have time I also hope to get some more editing done on the site, sadly submissions are still taking ages. Not sure where people got the 48 hour length from as it took a whole week for my Broken Sword Images to be submitted. Though this delay is understandable considering how busy the site must be right now.

So thanks for reading Blog 2, please leave a comment if you wish and have a great week.
SaitenMar - True English Gent.
True English Gent!
True English Gent!
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Blog 1: 360 Dashboard Redesign & Microsoft's New Vision.

Hello There My Fellow GiantBombers!

This being my first blog for this cool, hip and happening new site I wanted to talk about a matter that recently got my blood boiling. For those of us who love our Video Games, you will have no doubt tuned into the the widespread media coverage of Gamings key Event, E3. Though its fair to say that for the most part E3 was pretty average this year, there were a number of key talking points from Final Fantasy 12 coming to the 360 to Nintendo's below average press conference. But for the moment I want to concentrate on one specific announcement made by Microsoft in their press conference. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, the much debated New 360 Dashboard Redesign. Now I'll happily admit that the current 'Blade' system as had its day, its become slow with the influx of content found on the Marketplace and its style had become a little average for most 360 users. Yet despite these problems, the current 360 Blade Dashboard is still generally loved by a good amount of users, but theres no denying the system needed a redesign. Especially when you compare the system to Sony's XMB (Xross Media Bar). But did we truly expect such a change when we feasted our eyes on Microsoft new vision for its Hardcore orientated console, it depends on the user I guess. Its clear the general feeling of fans for Microsoft's new vision is mixed, but I guess its a 60/40 split. From doing my research (a fancy word for just looking around on the web and reading gamers views on the matter) I'd say 40% of 360 users do like the new Media Centre-like redesign, while around 60% of 360 users simply do not. Of course, these are my views from traveling around the World Wide Web and are not at all scientifically proven. I'll admit I place myself in that 60% of users who simply do not like the new redesign, I usually like to give these types of things a chance and now its been over a week since it was first announced, and I've read, watched and listened to articles concerning the new design I still stick to my first impession. The old 'Never Judge A Book By It's Cover' line doesn't fit with the new Dashboard design, simply because my view of it hasn't changed a great deal since first being seen at the Microsoft Press Conference. It's not a case of me not liking the general style, or simply hateing the concept of LIVE Avatars. It's more to do with my overall feeling of what kind of audience plays the XBOX 360 Console, its fair to say that Microsoft have since the original XBOX been aiming for a more Hardcore Audience of Gamers. The audience that would rather cut up a creature of Hell with a chainsaw then play motion controlled tennis or play a tough action packed online shooter with mates then play short mini-games with the family and Grandparents. You get my point, but maybe I was wrong in thinking this way. Microsoft seem to think I was wrong, from the feeling I got from the Press Conference. Are Microsoft aiming for the Nintendo dominated audiences? Are they after the casual family friendly gamer who just loves playing the endless mini-games the Nintendo Wii system seems to have nowadays. I suspect they are!

New Dashboard Design
New Dashboard Design
I wish to note that I mean no hate towards the Nintendo Wii, I'm just making my point. When you compare the two consoles side by side and take a good look at what they offer, you'll find that both consoles suit two very different tastes. From the Wii's family friendly games catalog (Wii Play, Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii) and physical motion controls, to the 360's often heavy hardcore orientated game catalog (Gears of War, Halo 3, Bioshock, GTA4) and superb Online Multiplayer Gaming features and you can clearly see that both please two very different tastes. Of course the argument can be made that many gamers prefer a bit of both occasionally, I for one own the Nintendo Wii system and although I have only found a few games on the system truly fun and interesting to experience, I still found it an enjoyable console to play despite my preference to the 360 and PS3 consoles. So cleary that arguement can be bought forward, but you can't argue with the fact that the new LIVE Avatars haven't been placed in to please the Hardcore Audiences because I have never recalled 360 Users asking for a Mii based Avatar system for their 360 consoles. This is where my blood starts boiling, take a look at some pictures of the new system and if your like me. You'll no doubt feel that some of the 360's soul as gone missing, the soul that the Blade System created in my opinion. Though even despite the clumsy slow feel to the Blade system these past few months it still does its job fantastically well, with a pretty simple to use Marketplace and blades that are easy to navigate and use for those new to the system. As I said eariler, its totally understandable for Microsoft to feel a redesign was needed and my final judgement on the new Dashboard will be made when it launches this fall. But I still feel a little sick when I think that I'll have to create my own little Mii for the 360 that'll sit happily, smiling and generally looking somewhat childish on my Dashboard for all to see, not to mention the fact that the LIVE Avatars even resemble their Nintendo brotherin. That is exactly what I speak of when talking about Microsoft's new vision for its system, the picture to the right is a fine example. Maybe its just the Transformer picture I don't know, but it looks wrong to me. Looks bland and the Gears of War 2 theme looks pretty poor. Though its nice to see that Microsoft aren't getting totally rid of Gamerpics (which as always been perfectly fine for me). But I also asked the question, will it be any better then the Blade system we already have?



I'm not convinced it will, of course we know it'll run better then the current system and without seeing the whole New Dashboard Package as a whole its hard to say for sure. But there still keeping many of the same Dashboard pages the same as they currently are with the Blade system, just with a different look and I'm still unsure why we need a special box (or whatever there being called) to tell us what game disc is currently in our system. Of course, its also important to remember that changes will probably be made as we get nearer to the Fall Updates release and I do hope that some of the bland, dull looking graphics get a bit of colour. I have always been a fan of the colourful Blade system on offer because it looks so darn good on an large HDTV. I also want to mention the new partnership Microsoft also talked about in their press conference, the new Partnership with Netflix which will mean 'US' users will be able to download movies as usual but also do a number of other interesting features such as watch a movie with a friend together at the sametime. I'm sure you were as confussed as I was when you first heard that, why do we need that? if I want to watch a film with a mate I can just ask him over and we watch the movie (probably a Die Hard film) together. That made little sense to me, much like quite a bit of  what Microsoft said all through the press conference. Anyway, this partnership with Netflix recieved very few cheers and although I don't know a great deal about Netflix it means even less to me because European simply won't get this at all (what a great surprise there) and I have read that despite the thousands of films on offer with Netfilix, only a certain amount of them are actual Film hits. Though I suspect I'll never be happy with the LIVE Avatars, I do believe I'll come around to likeing the new Dashboard redesign and even though I find it sad that Microsoft are clearly moving slowly away from continually pleasing its hardcore audiences and aiming for a middle ground between the Hardcore and the family friendly gamer. I also suspect that some features of the new design will change. Lets be honest, everyone as their own views on Microsoft's New Dashboard and the general feeling of their Press Conferene. This was just mine, and this being my first ever blog on this fantastic new GiantBomb website. I felt it was only right to share out my views. For the most part you probably don't agree with most of it, but it wouldn't be much a debate if you did would it? I'll have an updated view on this once we get nearer to release with the Fall Update and keep checking for future blogs I do.

Thanks to GiantBomb and Whiskey Media for Creating a Fantastic New Gaming Home for us Gamers!
True English Gent!
True English Gent!
True English Gent!









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