At times I almost feel guilty for enjoying Deadpool, it's not exactly a bad game it's just flawed and generic in a way that seems almost fitting for the source material for which it's based. Deadpool, Marvel's hapless goon won't be converting those who already hate his endless fourth wall breaking jokes and stupid humor, yet every now and then I couldn't help break a smile. But maybe that's just me, maybe I enjoy fart and flatulence jokes more than I'd like to admit... that's sort of worrying.
Developed by High Moon Studios, the studio behind the reasonably well received Transformer games of the past few years, Deadpool is your typical copy and paste third person hack and slash affair. You've seen it before and you've most probably played better. That said, at least High Moon didn't take the easy route by simply implementing Batman: Arkham Asylum style combat like so many beat-em-ups appear to be doing these days. Combat is quick, responsive and more than passable, despite a camera that often hinders the action. It's Deadpool's often crass and child-like humor that tries to spice up this familiar formula, so if endless game-related jokes aren't your thing, then stay away from this one.
Deadpool wants his own game, so calls upon Mr Nolan 'voice of everything' North and High Moon Studios to make it happen. Yes, he literally rings them up to get things going. This most likely won't come as a surprise to anyone with at least some knowledge of the character, fourth-wall breaking is sort of his forte and Deadpool: The game ain't no different. To be fair to High Moon, I have to give them some credit for their dedication to pulling off some of the larger jokes within Deadpool, even if most end up being rather lame. Maybe that's why I ended up enjoying parts of Deadpool, whilst it's the sort of game most of us have played before, I couldn't help but be charmed by High Moon's willingness to go all in with the game's numerous jokes, even when they fall flat (which they often do).
While Deadpool occasionally attempts to change things up as the story develops, it's a beat-em-up throughout it's short campaign of a couple of hours. Combat does vary a little thanks to upgrades and new weapons that can be accessed by spending points earned in battle, earning better combos earns you more points to spend on new weaponry and new skills. It's a simple system, but one I enjoyed at the very least. There is no multiplayer to speak of, except a set of challenge rooms which see you alone tackling waves of enemies in a number of stages taken from the campaign. So as you can tell, Deadpool is somewhat short on content.
In all honesty I can't think of what else High Moon Studios really could have done with Deadpool. His fourth-wall breaking humor can only take you so far and whilst a selection of familiar Marvel heroes and villains make appearances, it's not the most memorable campaign. But what else could they do? Combat is solid enough and there's a decent amount of progression, maybe that's the problem here. Deadpool was always going to be at the very best, a passable solid beat-em-up. That's fine if that's exactly what you're looking for. Fans of Deadpool will enjoy the ride, hell even I got some satisfaction from the short ride and I know little of Deadpool the comic book character, so I guess High Moon Studio's did their job.
So I'm divided on Deadpool: The Video Game. It's not broken (at least in regards to the PC version), it looks decent enough, combat is enjoyable and the story, while forgetful, as it's funny moments. I'm not sure if this says more about me than it does the game, do I actually like Deadpool's simple humor more than I ever realized? maybe I do. But even with that in mind, there is no escaping the fact that Deadpool is as generic a game as they come. It's not terrible, nor is it particularly memorable and that I sense is the problem here, come a few weeks time, Deadpool: The Video Game will be forgotten, even by those who've played it.
The Last of Us paints a grim, depressing picture of a future where a fungal infection as run riot on the populace of the world. Highlighting humanities need to survive at any cost in a way so very few games have attempted to, let alone achieved. Let's get one thing straight, this isn't simply Uncharted with zombies, it's a new IP from a developer looking to challenge their own rules and methods of game making.
Set twenty years after a dramatic outbreak of a virus which causes mass chaos, The Last of Us tells the story of Joel, a survivor who's already lost a great deal in the years since. Living in a quarantine zone in the city of Boston, he and his companion Tess simply survive the best they can, by trading, bargaining and surviving each day as they come. They're soon tasked with the guardianship of a teenage girl called Ellie, who must be helped out of the city parameter and to the safety of others within a group known as the fireflies. This is Naughty Dog's take on the zombie apocalypse and it's one where story is at the heart of what makes The Last of Us so memorable.
The Last of Us is a very different beast to Naughty Dog's previous works. Tense and exciting for entirely different reasons, it's an adventure in survival and willingness to do anything to simply keep on living in a world surrounded by death and destruction. Cities are empty shells and kindness for your fellow man is a rare sight indeed. But despite this grim even depressing setting, there are moments of beauty scattered here and there. Nature as spread throughout these cities in striking ways whilst forests and life itself as continues on in the world outside the broken and desolate cities. We know what ND can accomplish on the Playstation 3 with the Uncharted games, and while The Last of Us almost brings the PS3 to its knees now and again, this is one truly beautiful game.
Going guns blazing will most likely get you killed in The Last of Us. Ammo, weapons and supplies are scattered throughout the world, though not in large quantities so strategy, stealth and skill are at the forefront of combat. Joel can listen in on his surroundings, giving him the ability to see where danger might be lurking. Whilst at first this can seem like an unfair advantage, you quickly realise how essential this ability is, as Joel can't take more than a few hits before dying. Finding supplies allows you to craft a number of useful items, such as medical kits, shivs (which are helpful in combat and accessing locked rooms) and even more powerful items for combat, such as molotov cocktails and nail bombs. Many of these craftable items rely on the same components, often requiring you to choose what you want to craft at the expense of another. Using the tools at your disposal is what makes the combat in The Last of Us work so well.
Uncharted, Naughty Dog's other current gen IP became known for it's stylish cinematic storytelling and it's carried over brilliant in The Last of Us. Throughout the world is communicated to you in subtle ways, be it in the chatter between Ellie and Joel to the stunning soundtrack composed by Gustavo Santaolalla. It all combines to create a world that feels eerily real, one that always brings across the dire situation humanity finds itself. Troy Baker yet again proves he's deserving of praise with his performance as Joel and Ashley Johnson's performance as Ellie is the standout performance of the entire game. It's rich throughout with top quality performances, which only goes to sell the world even more. The Last of Us isn't scared to pull any punches with it's storytelling, reminding me a great of Telltale Game's The Walking Dead adventure games of the past year. Both games go out of their way to tell the stories of specific people in a world that's clearly gone to hell, instead of focusing on the bigger picture, resulting in two of the most memorable stories in video games of recent years.
Factions is the name for the multiplayer mode of The Last of Us and provides an interesting take on the slower paced gameplay found in the game. Instead of your typical deathmatch multiplayer mode, Naughty Dog have put some thought into how best to implement multiplayer in a game where patience and careful use of ammo/items is so important. So as a team of either hunters or fireflies you must take the opposing team down, simple as that right? Not quite, as combat is far from simple. Whilst it's interesting to see the combat mechanics brought over, it won't be for everyone in a multiplayer environment. In many of the matches I played, I found I wasn't having a whole lot of fun, especially in the mode which doesn't provide respawns. That said, it's better than you might expect and I can really see this taking off for many people looking for something different. Plus Naughty Dog deserve credit for not simply going the easy route. I might add it was disappointing to see no co-op mode, with the co-op mode in Uncharted 2 and 3 provided some of the best multiplayer fun I've had in years.
It's rare for a developer to make one genre defining franchise in a console cycle, but to make two genre-defining IP's in one console generation is special indeed, and only goes to reinforce how talented the folks at Naughty Dog are. In the Last of Us they've created a world that uniquely it's own, at a time when so many zombie apocalypse inspired games feel the same. If this is indeed the last hurrah for the Playstation 3, than it's ending on a real high note. It's how refreshingly different to The Last of Us compared to many of Naughty Dog's other work that makes it so memorable, it's a different tone to the likes of Uncharted and a fascinating take on the zombie genre, one I hope is an influence in games to come.
The next generation is upon us... well sort of. At least we have some sort of idea what Microsoft and Sony have to offer us in the next five to ten years at least. That is as long as the gaming consoles are still a viable options in a landscape where more and more folks are going mobile, and more and more gamers are turning to their PC's to satisfy all their needs. Still, you get the sense that both the Playstation 4 and Microsoft One will have a home in many peoples living rooms for a good while to come.
But, what to make of these mysterious and fantastical gadgets of entertainment. Whilst I don't want to ramble on endlessly about specifics here, I feel my views are pretty much inline with the vast majority of people who sat and watched both the Sony and Microsoft press conferences. Before we go jumping to absolute conclusions, it's best we all wait and see what E3 as to offer us. Yes Microsoft screwed up the reveal of the Xbox One, in a pretty substantial way I might add, but there's potential in Microsoft's new console. Even if that potential isn't exactly aimed at me, I wonder if Microsoft can entice me to watch any television at all with what they've shown, other than live Motorsport. What they've shown so far hasn't exactly captivated me on a TV standpoint, but I'm willing to give them a chance and see what they have in store for E3 in a matter of weeks.
However Microsoft seem conflicted on who exactly uses their console. While I'm sure a majority of Xbox 360 users were satisfied with the very forgettable coverage given to Call of Duty and EA Sports, many including myself felt that the inclusion of both felt rushed and pointless. With E3 just a matter of weeks away, maybe it would have suited Microsoft best to make this reveal event an entertainment focused only spectacle, instead of shoehorning video games in as poorly as they did. On that note I wasn't particularly impressed by EA Sport's offering either. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty damn excited to see the next generation of FIFA titles but the video they showed off looked strangely fake and cartoon-like. Almost like it, dare I say, it wasn't actually gameplay at all.
So whilst it's fun to bitch and moan about Microsoft's reveal of the Xbox One, I'll personally wait and see what E3 2013 as to offer. As things stand right now the Playstation 4 excites me a great deal more and I suspect that will probably be the case after E3. However they too have questions that must be answered, especially surrounding the heated debate of used games. But as things stand, Microsoft will almost have to do some damage control when they next take to the stage. But whatever happens, there's no denying that E3 2013 is going to be one exciting ride.
I'm playing Dota 2. Never thought I'd actually say that. A month ago I wouldn't have given Valve's Dota 2 a second thought, but thanks to Brad's recent adventures into the world of creeps, heroes and ganking, I too have found myself venturing into this rather frightening world. Now the last MOBA I played was a night of League of Legends with a friend, an experience that left me with a particularly nasty view of MOBA's and the LoL community in general. From the aggressively offensive users who we were matched up against, to the downright racist comments spouted at an Asian based player participating in one of our matches, ultimately left me never wanting to play a MOBA game ever again. I wish I could say these were just one offs, but in the night we played pretty much every match had something that turned me off the game. Look, I'll be honest here when I say I don't quite get why so many MOBA veterans choose to be so hostile to new players, but I guess I'll just blame it on the internet being the internet.
Now I'm sure there are many nice, friendly and kind players of League of Legends, and certainly this sort of attitude isn't solely found within MOBA's. But it doesn't do the genre any favors whatsoever. Valve have attempted to ratify this with a number of players based tools which allows other players to report bad behavior and more importantly, reward those who help others in-game. It's difficult to tell if this system is really working for Valve but my own personal experiences in Dota 2 have generally been pleasant ones. Yes there's always one player who thinks he's better than everyone else, so gets angry because the players in this co-op bot match aren't super familiar with the mechanics of the game, but for the most part things have been reasonably pleasant. That said, that hasn't stopped racist players being rather racist, which is a shame. Least we have the tools to report such players and Valve seem pretty good at tackling this rather sour part of the community.
But I'm playing Dota 2 and that scares me because I can see how and why you'd end up spending ridiculous amounts of time invested in this game. Hell, I've only been playing for a week at most and already I have spent 25+ hours playing, I'm not even sure where those 25+ went. That said, right now I'm mainly playing co-op bot matches with other players and I can sense that either I'll go even deeper down the rabbit hole of Dota 2 or I'll reach the point where I won't get anymore enjoyment out of simply playing the game. That time might be coming up fast and I'm somewhat scared to jump into public matchmaking because I really don't want to let a team down. So who knows how my Dota 2 playing will develop, but the fact that I'm even playing in the first place is something I never thought would happen. Oh and Riki is pretty darn fun to play.
Ready to go hunting on the plains of Pandora? Well you should be, why aren't you? Come on we haven't got all day, those scaylions aren't going to hunt themselves you know. Now that you're finally ready let me introduce you the continent of Aegrus, a land filled with creatures that are as varied as they are dangerous, and that's not to forget the local tribe of savages that call this striking and beautiful continent home. Sir Hammerlock with weapon in hand, as asked you to go along with him to hunt all sorts of viscous creatures. But is this one hunt to good to refuse or might you be best to look elsewhere for more gentlemanly hunting?
Set in the rather beautiful continent of Aegrus, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt is the third piece of downloadable content for Borderlands 2 and provides a refreshing change from the usual scenery of Pandora. Aegrus is a land filled with a variety of creatures, many of which would happily eat you alive if you gave them the chance. Luckily for you, your most likely not exactly short of weapons to defend yourself with, let alone hunt the greatest and most dangerous creatures the land as to offer. When you first take in the sights of Aegrus, you'll welcome this change of scenery. It feels refreshingly different to the rest of Pandora, which usually consists of deserts and dilapidated towns. This is a continent that consists of wide open plains, misty swamps and cliff-sides that every so often forced me to stop and take in the views. This is a land that doesn't need any in depth description or convoluted explanation, it's rather beautiful in it's own way and this is something I appreciated from the moment I took my first steps into this new and unfamiliar land.
It helps that your time in Aegrus is well spent, with a collection of fun and challenging quests that never over stay their welcome. Yes you'll still be killing countless creatures, including the hordes of savages (the only human population of the continent) that throw themselves towards your gun barrel. But these enemies never feel repetitive thanks to the greater challenge they provide and the extra varieties in enemy types that will require you to actually think about how you use your characters skills instead of aimlessly shooting enemies from point blank range, in the knowledge that they have no chance of taking you down. From the Giant Spores that float through the skies to the Wetland Drifters that walk the plains, it's a welcomed change for those who've become accustomed (and dare I say bored) with the usual psychos and goliaths of the base game. Unlike Pirate's Booty and Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage which I felt were a little to easy, Big Game Hunt provided a challenge that I welcomed till the very end. Though of course much of this might depend on what level your character is when they first venture forth.
Meet Professor Nakayama, a self-important scientists who as an all to creepy appreciation for his idol, Handsome Jack. He's the main antagonist here and provides many of the more amusing moments throughout the five main missions. Though of course there are numerous side missions to earn yet more experience and loot. Big Game Hunt is rather funny in spots, providing comedic moments that are pulled off in a less forced manner than much of Borderlands 2's usual sense of humor It's a more memorable experience to, thanks to a strong start that never really falters throughout it's three to five hours of content. There are other goodies to enjoy including a brand new vehicle in the form of the fan boat, which while welcomed is a little too restricted to specific areas to be of any huge significant use. There's new bosses to face up against, including a brand new raid boss for real multiplayer challenge. New skins and heads for every class and of course new weapons to loot. All this results in a piece of downloadable content that certainly isn't short on content, and it's good content at that.
I'm confident in saying that Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt is the best additional Borderlands 2 content yet, and whilst there's more to come in the near future, this foray into the lands of Aegrus provides everything you want. It's a refreshing change from the rest of what Borderlands 2 as to offer and does more than just provide extra content, it provides a much need change of scenery and challenge that I've felt as been lacking in the two previous pieces of downloadable content. It's still might be Borderlands at the end of the day, but thanks to the change in setting, varied enemies and greater overall challenge, it feels like something new and most certainly worth a return to Pandora to experience for yourself.
Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage is more content for Borderlands 2, not that I'm complaining. Gearbox Software's stupendous loot driven shooter was one of my favorite games of last year and I welcome any chance to return to Pandora, hell I never left. This time round your vault hunting hero is tasked with becoming the champion of the campaign of carnage, a violent and savage tournament set up by Mr Torgue, founder of the weapons manufacturer of the same name. This being Borderlands there's still a vault involve somewhere, you are a 'vault hunter' after all and we all know what vaults mean... showers of beautiful, gorgeous and thrill inducing loot.
Being downloadable content one shouldn't expect anything out of the ordinary and whilst Gearbox attempts to create something memorable here, it's nothing we haven't seen before. You'll still be blissfully shooting psychos in the face with all manner of crazy weapons and collecting all sorts of awesome loot of so many varied varieties, it isn't anything new or radically different from the familiar Borderlands formula, but it's still just as wonderfully satisfying as it ever was. So, if Borderlands hasn't quite scratched your lust for loot, loot, loot. Mr Torgue's Campaign for Carnage isn't going to change anything. However if all you're looking for is more Borderlands, than it might just be worth your time and attention.
There's certainly some worthwhile moments to Campaign of Carnage to. Whilst the humour in Borderlands 2 came across a little forced, the back and forth between Mad Moxxi and Mr Torgue caused me a good chuckle here and Mr Torgue is a wonderfully over the top figurehead, think Randy Savage with unhealthy levels of anger and adrenaline flowing through his body and you just might get the idea. As you visit the Badass Crater of Badassitude (Hopefully at this point you're starting to get the picture) and it's neighbouring areas, you'll discover some fun and challenging quests some of which have multiples tiers of difficulty for extra challenge, experience and loot. That said, Campaign of Carnage is less memorable than Pirate's Booty thanks to mostly forgettable boss battles and a lack of personality to the new areas for which you'll be exploring.
So I have mixed feelings towards Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage. It's not quite the crazy balls out addition I'd hoped for or as the potential to be, but fun can still be add. It's still Borderlands 2 after all and it's still unashamedly addictive. There are few extra things worth mentioning, for example the new Torgue tokens which can be earned via quests or looted off specific badasses and spent in the new Torgue vending machines for kick-ass weaponry. The sound design is great too with some pretty kick-ass battle music and guitar tracks accompanying you on your journey to tournament domination. Though on the presentation side of things I did suffer some strange frame rate problems in specific areas, an issue that plagued Pirate's Booty but wasn't occurring in the base game, so it might be an isolated issue or poor optimization (as was the case in one area of Pirate's Booty), I just can't be sure. Voice-work is still top notch, but this time accompanied by some of the more humorous and witty dialogue seen in the whole game, there's even a rather nice homage to video game reviewers in there too which is pulled off rather well.
So Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage isn't the most recommendable piece of downloadable content for Borderlands 2, unless you're looking for more reasons to play Gearbox's fun and frantic shooter (as if there weren't enough already). The Badass Crater of Badassitude is a welcomed addition to the season pass but one that isn't an essential purchase for those looking for something more worthwhile, it's still worth checking out if you have the season pass but hopefully there's better to come. If you must purchase a piece of Borderlands 2 DLC I'd still recommend Captain Scarlett and the Pirate's Booty over this, that's just my opinion and as we all know, on the internet everyone as an opinion.
Resident Evil 6, what positives can I take away from a game I was so desperate to see the back of. What hope is there that I can praise the very few moments of actual quality amid the flood of mediocrity and frustration. Resident Evil 6 is a bad game, let's just get that out of the way. But it's the fact that it's bad because of decisions made by Capcom's development choices rather than any technical or performance issues that makes it an even tougher pill to swallow.
The main campaign of Resident Evil 6 is split into four chapter, with each section covering the events from the different perspectives of the games four characters, these being Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong and Jake Muller, who wouldn't you know, is Albert Wesker's son (I know right, who saw that coming). Unfortunately this is where the problems start rearing their ugly head. Whilst the idea behind laying out the campaign in such a way might have sounded like an interesting idea at some point, in the end it comes across as a weak attempt to please those looking for Resident Evil 4 feel to those wanting the more action orientated feel of Resi 5 and everyone in between, resulting in a game that fails miserably to please any of those camps.
Leon Kennedy's chapter tries to reignite the old familiar Resident Evil feel with it's slower pace, though thanks to Resident Evil 6's more responsive control scheme it fails to thrill, scare or even remind you of what the franchise was once beloved for. Whilst Chris Redfield's campaign (by far the worst of the four) is a weak attempt to mix Resident Evil 5 with splashes of (dare I say) Call of Duty. Both Ada's and Jake's campaign sit somewhere in between, which does the overall campaign no favors whatsoever. There's niggling issues throughout, from the unnecessary use of co-op doors, fetch puzzles that are repeated under a different guise and boss battles that go on and on and on and on... god why don't they just end. At this point, you're probably getting the picture for why I was desperate to see the end. As stories go in Resident Evil games, there isn't much to say other than another virus breakout has occurred... yep, that's all. Of course co-op plays a role throughout all four chapters, with the key figures of the game being joined by characters new and old who don't add a whole lot to the story and basically come across as filler. Co-op isn't anything new or refreshing either, which is a shame.
It's not like it's even worth trudging through all this for the story anyway. Let's be honest, Resident Evil as always had a very B-movie feel to it, but at least been of some interest, pushing the story along. There are moments in Resi 6 that feel meaningful, but they are very few and far between. What makes it worse is that for the most part, Resident Evil 6 is a great looking game, especially on the PC. Cut-scenes are well produced (when they're not throwing QTE's at you) and there's a sleekness to the overall presentation that I rather admire, it's clear that great care has been given at least on the presentation side of things. Yes the over-exaggerated animations can be the death of you on occasions, but I'd argue they're part of what makes Resident Evil, Resident Evil. Just as animation priority is part of the charm of say Dark Souls. The PC version runs wonderfully to, with almost no slow-downs or technical issues to speak of.
There are other positives to, the reworked inventory system works wonders compared to what we at to deal with in Resident Evil 5 and the more responsive controls make it an easier game to pick up and play. Sadly that's where the praise ends. Remember the weapon upgrade system from Resident Evil 5? Well that's been replaced by skill sets similar to perks that can be purchased with skill points, picked up when you go shooting and kicking mutated bad guys in the face. It feels like a real downgrade from the weapon upgrade system because I couldn't help but think it was an afterthought and while it does require you to use all the weapons at your disposal instead of the investing time and money into only a few specific weapons, I couldn't help but miss the reward that came with slowly upgrading weapons till they were good enough to kill a boss with one shot, I dunno but there was something great about that.
Resident Evil 6 is a sad reminder of how lost the franchise is. One might argue that whatever Capcom did with this latest entry wouldn't be good enough to capture the love and passion fans had for the franchise back in the days of the PS1. That said, the largest faults and criticisms laid at it's feet are all developer based. It can't be blamed on technical issues or performance knocks, it's all down to choices made in development by Capcom, be it the decision to split the campaign into four chapters to the infuriating quick-time events which all too often catch you off guard. There are moments that might have redeemed it, but the flood of frustration running through my veins right now leaves me with one simple statement to say,
Welcome to Columbia, a floating city in the sky that's as fascinating and mysterious a place as anything that has come before. As you walk its streets, travel it's skylines and breath in the atmosphere, it's clear that a loving amount of care and attention has been given to every small detail of this beautiful city. It's a familiar experience that warms the heart, yet at the same time rips your heart to shreds with the unfamiliar, bizarre and unpredictable. Bioshock Infinite is a difficult game to describe, one that tackles mature subjects that are often seen as no-go areas in gaming, such as racism, slavery and religion. It's brave, brash and beautiful, and most certainly worth your attention.
On the face of it, one might not be blamed for jumping to the conclusion that Ken Levine and Irrational Games were 'playing it safe' with Infinite. There are noticeable similarities to their previous works throughout, especially in regards to gameplay. You are Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent whose debts have forced him to take on a task most challenging, that being the rescue of a girl called Elizabeth, locked up in the floating city of Columbia. The city is ruled over by Comstock, worshiped by the more privileged of the city and who finds himself at odd with the less favored citizens, most noticeably the Vox Populi, lead by Daisy Fitzroy. It is here where the player (DeWitt) finds himself. What develops is a story filled with intrigue and mystery, one worthy of sitting side by side with the greatest tales told in any form of entertainment and proof enough that video games are a viable source of mature storytelling.
Combat will feel familiar to those who ventured into the underwater world of Rapture, with the basics of gameplay consisting of vigors (similar to plasmids) functioning on the left trigger while guns are operated on the right trigger. So it's nothing out of the ordinary and it doesn't need to be. Whilst combat is standard, it's still fun, frantic and at times challenging, especially at the higher levels of difficulty. Vigors might not be as new nor exciting as they were when we were first introduced to plasmids in Bioshock, yet they're still fun to experiment with and provide a nice variety of ways to tackle combat situations and I certainly found myself experimenting more with what's on offer. That's not to say there aren't any niggling issues with combat, it can be a little too easy on the medium difficulty (though if you're coming for the story, than medium will more than suffice) and some of the weapons whilst varied are less useful than you feel they should be. Weapons can be upgraded by visiting mechanical vending machines that are scattered around the world, allowing you to upgrade ammo capacity, the power of a weapon and the scatter of the shot, so once you've found your preferred choice in weaponry, you'll most likely upgrade and stick to it, though certain moments in combat require you to experiment now and again.
So whilst combat feels familiar, it's not to say there aren't some thrilling memorable moments throughout the games satisfactory length. Elizabeth will contribute to combat as well, providing helpful support though not in an offensive manner. She'll throw salts (used to fuel vigors), ammo, med kits and even cash your way as you travel and battle your way through richly detailed Columbia. Speaking of travel, another are of note are the skylines, these being rail like systems that Booker and his enemies can glide on to reach destinations. They speed up the frantic pace of combat, providing a useful method of escape when overwhelmed by enemies or giving you the chance to attack from high if need be and to be honest, there just a blast to glide around on. now if only we can get a rollercoaster version of the skylines and we're all set.
But combat isn't what makes Bioshock Infinite so memorable, so delightful and so forward thinking, it's all down to how everything Infinite as to offer in some way contributes to the story. It's never quite what you expect, small details in the world reveal truths and revelations and it's forever surprising you in fresh and exciting ways. Audio contributes an essential role in how the story is told with a wonderful sense of sound throughout, from the cheerful jolly music that plays throughout the city to the eerie yet beautiful music that scatters the darker tones of the story. Voice-work is outstanding to, with Troy Baker (DeWitt) and Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth) both putting in great performances that helps sell both the characters and the world around them. There are other performances worth mentioning, but than I'd most probably venturing into spoiler territory. Needless to say, I've found myself listening to the sounds of Bioshock Infinite a great deal the past few days.
The world of Infinite is a beautiful one, in Columbia you have a city that often leaves you breathless with it's expansive views and architecture that's as rooted in some bizarre reality as it is fantastical. There's such care given to the small details that sometimes you just have to stop and take it all in. On PC Infinite runs smooth, though loading causes some stuttering here and there which can be a tad off-putting, but it still appears to be the version to go with in regards to performance, though I cannot speak for the console versions. Needless to say, Infinite is a gorgeous looking game, one whose art contributes to making Infinite such a richly detailed world and keeps you in awe throughout.
Ken Levine and Irrational Games always faced a challenge to surprise and excite players who were purposely expecting surprises, yet somehow they have done just that, surprised us all. Many said they wouldn't be able to recreate the atmosphere and intrigued that made the original Bioshock so beloved, they were wrong. In Infinite they've creating a world just as rich and fascinating as anything seen in the underwater city of Rapture, whilst also molding an experience that feels both familiar and yet so very strange, toying with your expectations till the very end. Bioshock Infinite is a game that'll be talked about in weeks, months, if not years to come. It's an experience that will leave you knowing that you just plays something very special indeed.
Look, I wouldn't criticise you for turning your nose up at Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed. The idea of a Mario Kart-like racer featuring Sonic, his Sega friends and a few bizarre cameos doesn't exactly sound like fun personified, but don't jump to conclusions just yet.
Developed by Sumo Digital, Transformed is the sequel to the 'better than it had any right to be' Sega and Sonic All Stars Racing released back in 2010. Now I'll admit, I appreciate a good karting game every so often and it's unfortunate that our most recent offerings have either been flawed (LittleBigPlanet Karting) or the same old thing we've seen and done a hundred times over (Mario Kart 7). That's not to say Transformed does anything radically different, it's still a reasonably simple karting game after all. But it's how much fun it is to play that makes Transformed one of the few excellent karting games I've played in recent years.
Transformed isn't short on content either, with a variety of modes including a campaign featuring a range of race variants and characters to unlock, to grand Prix and time trial modes, add to that a collection of memorable tracks all based around iconic Sega franchises. It's a colourful, bright and delightful game that you can't help but appreciate for it's cheerfulness and optimism, a reminder why we still need karting games today.
With twenty plus characters to choose from, there's a healthy collection in all, from the more familiar Sonic and Sega figureheads such as Tails, Knuckles and Dr Robotnik, to the more bizarre additions such as Nascar's own Danica Patrick, Shogun dude and yes... Football Manager guy (those two, along with a Team Fortress kart being exclusive to the PC and Steam versions). Look, I could ask why they went and included karts for the Shogun and Football Manager franchises, but then I'd be questioning what makes Transformed so weirdly charming in the first place.
On the racetrack Transformed is a typical kart racer, you can drift, collect power ups (to use both in attack and to defend) and you can pull of air flips to earn bursts upon landing, with of course the ability to transform into a car, boat and plane. It's all rather typical really, but the fact that all these mechanics are all well gelled together results in a racing game that's challenging, well balanced and fair throughout. Even the power-ups are neither too overpowering or too weak to be of any use, with players still able to defend themselves when rockets or ice are fired your way. Rubber banding, often the most hated of features in racing games is carefully implemented and not so intruding.
Each character/kart as their very own characteristics and as you advance in levels, which are separate for each individual character, you unlock extra mods which help you customize the feel of the kart. These mods can be of importance if or when you need to complete events on the tougher A levels of difficulty, allowing you to be that little bit faster or more agile on track. There's even Sega inspired console mods to be unlocked (my favourite being the Saturn mod) which can dramatically change the handling of a kart.
It's worth noting that the console versions of Transformed suffer from some unfortunate framerate hiccups throughout and while the game's still playable, we all know that when it comes to racing games, framerate is king. With that in mind, I'd wholeheartedly recommend you check out the PC version instead, which runs buttery smooth and is a considerable step up visually compared to the console versions. It's worth it to, because Transformed is a charmingly bright and colourful game that looks and plays great on the PC. But if console be your only option, you'll be more than satisfied despite the few technical hiccups. Stay away from the 3DS version however.
With online support, a surprising amount of content and some of the best kart racing I've had for a good few years, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed *takes breath* is easy to recommend. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't do anything new or even unique to this style of racing, but it doesn't need to and it's how well all this comes together that makes Transformed so much fun to play, without it feeling cheap or unfair. I don't know about you, but that ladies and gentlemen is what I look for in a fun wacky kart racer. All in all Transformed is easy to recommend to anyone who either loves themselves a bit of karting now and again or to those with past affection for Sega, if you sit in both camps you're in for a treat.
Since its announcement DMC Devil May Cry hasn't been short on controversy. Long time fans of the hack and slash franchise have called foul, shouting from metaphorical rooftops (internet forums) in disgust and anger because Capcom went and changed their blonde haired hero and the world around him. Passing the torch onto a new developer in Ninja Theory, this revision of Dante and his demon filled world is one that on first inspection rides close to being tacky, tasteless and even laughable. All I have to tell you is that angels and demons are fighting a bloody war and you should get where I'm coming from here. However in the hands of the folks who brought us Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, one of my favourite games of 2010, I had a little more faith in Ninja Theory to deliver.
But of course, how about the gameplay? Well say what you will about the storytelling in past Devil May Cry games, one area in which it as most excelled is in gameplay, and this 2013 reboot is no different. DMC offers various levels of challenge, whilst never feeling unfair or cheap. Stylish whilst at the same time having depth that rewards experience and skill, the combat in DMC is some of the best I've experienced in the genre. Even when I was getting my backside kicked in it was always in the knowledge that I wasn't honing my skills to the situation or the button masher in me was taking over, so my mistakes were paid for in a game over screen once I'd run out of golden skulls, the item which allows Dante to jump back into the fight. This makes the outrage and controversy surrounding DMC even more baffling, because deep down this still feels like Devil May Cry, where skill and expertise is rewarded.
It's also one hell of a stylish game, with some of the most memorable boss encounters I've witness in a good while. On the default difficulty (of which there are numerous to choose from) the boss battles aren't particularly challenging but the way in which they are presented are something to be seen. I won't go spoiling anything here, but it's obvious the folks at Ninja Theory wanted to leave their mark when they created the world in which Dante, Vergil and new sidekick Kat inhabit. From the over the top set pieces to the powerful mix of it's dubstep and heavy metal soundtrack, it's a style that will rub some the wrong way, but will most certainly provide some memorable moments.
The new Dante is... well how do I put it, a bit of an arse at first. It's not exactly the fault of the story but more to do with his silly one liners and cocky attitude. But having had no attachment to the 'old' Dante it's hard to know how well he'll eventually go down with long time fans. That said, Ninja Theory have a proven track record of being able to create characters with emotion and (dare I say) depth, in this Dante isn't such an awful guy. As the story develops you start to see Ninja Theory's trademark motion capture work at... well work. From the slight facial movements to a level of realism that only real actors can pull off, the story of DMC Devil May Cry ends up being more memorable than it has any right to be on paper.
Style is key to getting the most from skills and upgrades for Dante and his many angelic and demonic weaponry, the stylish the kill the more points you'll receive to upgrade various areas of Dante's arsenal. This has been rooted in the DMC formula since the original and it's a system that still works wonders. There's a simple thrill from completing some awesome 20+ hit combo and it looks so damn good. Experimenting with weapons and new skills is one of the real highlights and Ninja Theory were nice enough to throw in a training mode to help you hone your skills. All in all it's a combat system that holds up through multiple playthroughs, one which had me excitedly anticipating the next combat scenario throughout it's 8-10 hour long campaign.
Speaking of multiple playthroughs there's a number of higher difficulties on offer for the hardcore and boy, are those levels difficult. Thankfully Dante enters with the weapons and skills you've unlocked from previous playthroughs, so it's basically a new game plus. It's here where long time fans, skilled at all areas of hacking and of slashing will excel and face a real challenge, honestly it'll take time and practice for me to beat even the next level up from the default difficulty. But it's great to see that Ninja Theory have taken to heart one of the key appeals of the DMC franchise, the level of difficulty and challenge that made it a fan favourite in the first place. Just be prepared for one hell of a challenge. Though now I've gone and said that, I'm sure I'll have people telling me 'it's not difficult, not like the old Devil May Cry games, you're just crap at games'. Fair enough!
If this indeed is the new direction for the DMC franchise, than I for one look forward to what we see next from Ninja Theory and Capcom. While long time fans will never be truly satisfied, they and Capcom must know or realise that spitting out the same old DMC game every year or two simply doesn't work and in that regard this 2013 reboot has been able to attract an audience of gamers who might have entirely ignored it if it were just another same old DMC game. Ninja Theory haven't just gave the franchise the care and attention it deserves, but have been able to leave their very own mark with style and some of the best combat in gaming today. Give it a chance, who knows, you might love it.
Better late than never, right? Whilst I had intended to write this up around New Years, certain things occupied my time so my inevitable list of games that made 2012 all super and that, is finally here. Now I'll be the first to admit, I've gone off the idea of calling one specific game my game of the year, so instead of a numbered order you'll find a selection of games that made 2012 a year to remember for those of us who do love our video games Yes most of the games on my list are boringly predictable (Damn them, for being so darn good) but I hope there's one or two that you might agree with or might even be worth your future consideration. I'm not sure what it is about creating a list at the end of each year, it's like something we have a deep driven urge to do. Anyway, shall we begin?
List in no particular order (also lists are boring!).
Of all the games I played in 2012, none quite scratched that meaningless itch of constant loot and shooting dudes in the face than Gearbox Software's outstanding Borderlands 2. Having had a distant appreciated for the original Borderlands, while at the same time a deep rooted hatred for how downright boring shooting guys in the face was, I watched Borderlands 2 with a tinge of caution and anticipated thrill, fuelled by a need for loot, loot and even more loot! Thankfully in pretty much every way, the fine guys and gals at Gearbox Software didn't just iron out all the rough edges found in the original, they went and made a hell of a fun shooter, one of the best in years even. Having already invested 70+ hours into one character already (no where near as much as some folks I know), having only just started to mess around with the downloadable content and having yet got around to playing the new game plus, guarantees I'll be playing Borderlands 2 for many months to come. I love it!
Oh SSX, it's most probably ironic that the whole selling point of having 'realistically mapped out' mountains in your game ended up hurting the final product. Don't get me wrong, the amount of 'drops' is stupendous and delightful, but when a great many of those drops are sort of... well boring and infuriating it's a damn shame. As is the games split personality, neither gritty realistic extreme snowboarding game nor SSX Tricky reborn, it didn't really know what it wanted to be. Though the Mount Eddie DLC was proof enough which I prefer, more SSX Tricky, less Deadly Descent please. So okay, SSX had it's problems, but that's not to take anything away from the fact that SSX was bloody good fun and the return of a franchise that should never stop being part of the release calender. Let's hope we see more SSX on the horizon... *cough*Tricky*cough*
Yes, the so called Japanese Gears of War. In the year in which I played both Sega's bizarre futuristic robot murdering third-person shooter and Epic Game's manly, shouty lambent murdering third-person shooter, I know which I'd prefer to chatter on about. Binary Domain was created by Toshihiro Nagoshi, the man behind the equally awesome Yakuza series. But unlike the Yakuza games which have a tendency to drag on until your eyes explode, Binary Domain was able to hook me until the very end with a story that surprised me with intrigue and characters that were both equally irritating and awesome... at the same time. Seriously, have you not seen Cain, the French speaking robot who kicks-ass. Then there's Big Bo, who deserves a honourable mention in his own right. In many ways it was the games Japanese-ness (is that a word? It is now) that I adored the most. Does Gears of War 3 stop you in the middle of a mission to protect a party member who needs to use the bathroom facilities whilst being attacked by robots programmed for murder? I think not, and that's why I love Binary Domain, cause it's SWEET!
Why do I play video games? I've asked this question many times over the years and I've never been quite sure of the answer. Some play to rack up high scores, others to achieve rare feats or prove they're the best. Me? Well for me it's all about the experience. Now putting the whole games are art debate to one side, I'm not quite sure what to say about Thatgamecompany's stunning, beautiful and spectacular PSN exclusive game Journey that hasn't already been said. Breathtaking visuals, twinned with one of the greatest soundtracks I've ever had the honour of listening to (a bazillion times). Journey is a game that speaks for itself, a game I fell in love with and still adore even after experiencing it for the seventh or eighth time. It's still as magical as you randomly meet up with a strange fellow player and communicate through simple chirps and skiing down sand dunes. It is without a single doubt, one of the greatest experiences I've had in video games and if this list were in order of awesomeness, I think it's fair to say that Journey would be in my top two. Journey is proof enough just how magical games can be, touching you on an emotional level few games can hope to achieve.
I hate zombies! So if you'd have said to me a year ago that Telltale's The Walking Dead would be in my list of games of 2012, I'd have most probably grumbled some inaudible speech in disapproval. Yet here it is, The Walking Dead. Despite having had no interest in the television show after season one and my aforementioned hatred of all things zombie, The Walking Dead was a wondrous achievement. Coming off the back of the simply awful Jurassic Park game, there wasn't a great deal of faith in Telltale's ability to turn The Walking Dead into anything other than another familiar point and click adventure game. Yet somehow, some way they were able to create one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the year... no of this generation. It's not a technical wonder, it certainly had it's flaws on all systems, but that's not really the point. The Walking Dead proves the power of good storytelling, something so many games choose to ignore these days. From the emotionally charged relationship between Lee and Clementine to the gut-wrenching decisions you have the make along the way, The Walking Dead pulls at your very heartstrings constantly until it makes you weep like a baby. Telltale did a superb job of creating a constant stream of tension, the never knowing what might happen next, always leaves you on the edge of your seat. Then there's that ending... oh that ending! Simply spectacular. While I have a dislike for lists, I'd be happy to call The Walking Dead my game of 2012.
So there it is. Five games might not be a whole lot and I certainly played a great many more, some of which might have deserved to be on this list. But I dunno, I feel there's something more natural about picking the five games that meant the most to me and while 2012 wasn't quite a spectacular year for video games, it certainly had it's fair share of memorable releases. So I hope you enjoyed it to. Roll on 2013... wait we're already here... dammit!