Review FIFA 13

Saturday, 16 June 2012 | 0 comments

 

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  • Platform:   Xbox 360
  • PEGI Rating: Ages 3 and Over
  • Media: Video Game

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Review Call of Duty: Black Ops II (with Amazon-exclusive Black Ops II Wallpaper pre-order bonus)

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Game Information

  • Platform:   Xbox 360
  • PEGI Rating: Ages 18 and Over
  • Media: Video Game

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REview Awesomenauts

Thursday, 7 June 2012 | 0 comments


REview Awesomenauts

4.0 stars Excellent
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The good: Ridiculous Saturday-morning cartoon characters and presentation
Deep customization options for individuals and teams
Easy, accessible controls
The bad: Occasional online connection and balance issues
The bottom line: Awesomenauts is fun and frantic, and a great introduction to a typically unfriendly genre.

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Multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, is a genre of games that are well known for their intimidating learning curve and dense knowledge-base requirements on the PC. They're about as friendly to novices as an algebra problem is to a first grader. That's not the case with Awesomenauts, a console-based 2D MOBA that serves as an excellent introduction to the genre for the uninitiated and is a fun spin on familiar tropes for MOBA veterans. It's also got a French chameleon with a robo-laser sword for an arm, which ranks pretty high on the awesome scale.

Awesomenautsscreenshot
You'll find a lot of variety in the characters, from a French lizard assassin to a robot with a metal mohawk.
You play as one of six Awesomenauts on a mission to mine solar, a galactic fuel source and currency. Unfortunately, another group of Awesomenauts wants the solar too, and so you must fight to control the precious resource. The premise and plot are as absurd as a monkey with a jetpack, but Awesomenauts isn't about telling a story; it's about battle. You pick your hero, join two others (or AI-controlled bots), and slug it out against another team of three on one of a few symmetrical maps. Your goal isn't to kill other players, but to reach and destroy their solar core. While killing opposing heroes helps, this is not a game of 2D team deathmatch, and playing it as a straight team deathmatch game is a recipe for frustration. Success in Awesomenauts requires teamwork, strategy, and smart upgrade decisions.
You need your teammates to get to the solar core, which is housed behind layers of heavy-duty turrets. To aid you in your efforts, your solar base cranks out a never-ending stream of droids. They whittle away at the turrets, providing you cover to stand behind so you can blast them with your more powerful weapons. You battle back and forth, in a constant struggle to press forward into the opposing base.
It might sound like a plodding war of attrition, but the setting and crazy characters turn every match into a frenetic clash of strategies. It feels like you're always just one button--one quick decision--away from death or domination. The maps have multiple levels filled with jump pads, a couple of environmental hazards, and some local creatures you can kill for health. There's plenty of space to duke it out while your droids bop along on their paths of destruction. It's a dead-simple concept made more complex by the three player-controlled hero characters on each team.

Awesomenautsscreenshot
Taking on a turret alone is a very bad idea.
There's a lot of room for customization in Awesomenauts, both as an individual and as a team. The heroes blur the lines between traditional battle roles, like tank, healer, ranged, and damage dealer, thanks to a diverse set of upgrade options. As you fight, you earn solar, which you can use to buy upgrades and abilities. There are more than a dozen upgrades per hero, some passive and others active. Seeing them all listed before you can be overwhelming early on--this isn't a simple loadout choice like in a team-based shooter.
The upgrade path you follow can have a huge impact on a match. For example, you could go full-tilt tank with Clunk the robot and upgrade his bite ability so that it steals health and lengthens his health bar with each successful bite. Or you could be a bit of a glass cannon and dump points into his missile launcher and self-destruct ability. The former build makes him last longer, while the latter does more damage but could lead to more deaths, which costs you precious solar. Awesomenauts gives you wiggle room to shape characters to your style of play. Like with a good fighting game, in time, your favorite character will feel uniquely yours.

Review DiRT Showdown

Tuesday, 5 June 2012 | 0 comments


Review DiRT Showdown

4.0 stars Excellent
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The good: Varied deformation models make for satisfying destruction
Sharp presentation and smooth visuals
Wide range of event types
Online racing is masses of fun
Easy-to-master arcade handling
The bad: Single-player campaign lacks a proper career to nurture or narrative to follow
Cheesy commentary wears thin quickly
The bottom line: Dirt Showdown is a satisfying mix of driving tricks and destruction wrapped up in the slickest of presentations.

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UK REVIEW: There's a spectacle to Dirt Showdown that flies in the face of racing tradition: the jumps, the drifts, the squealing doughnuts, and the blinding flash of fireworks. With each crumpled bumper and shattered windscreen, a vast arena crowd roars, eager to be wowed not with the shaving of valuable seconds from a lap time, but with pyrotechnic-laden displays of driving that are as much about showmanship and destruction as they are about skilful precision. It's an intoxicating mix that forgoes the difficulty of simulation for a thrilling and beautifully presented arcade ride.

DiRT Showdownscreenshot
There's fireworks aplenty in Dirt Showdown.
The biggest difference between Showdown and its predecessors is that the handling is surprisingly forgiving. You can whip your car around the tightest of corners without ever easing off the accelerator, while even the most dramatic twirls of the steering wheel don't send you hurtling headfirst towards a barrier like they used to. But there's still a balance to be found. The skill lies in the timing of your turns and the judicious tapping of your hand brake and boost to perform impressive drifts and show-stopping doughnut rings. It's a dramatically different feel, but one that lends itself beautifully to the events at hand.
Some, like the Hoonigan events, are all about precision and showmanship in licensed cars. The destructible blocks of Smash Hunter are intricately arranged to reward delicate turns and tight drifts, while a timer for high scores keeps the pressure on, and your speed up. There's more challenge to be had in Trick Rush events, where drifts, doughnuts, and jumps are scattered throughout cleverly designed environments. With each trick your multiplier climbs ever higher, resulting in a mad dash to rack up points before the timer runs down.
Most challenging are the head to head Gymkhana events, where you take on the mighty Ken Block in a trick-filled arena course. The turns are tighter, the jumps larger, and the pyrotechnics even wilder. But while the bright, neon fireworks and explosive confetti cannons certainly add excitement to the proceedings, it's the process of improving bit by bit, drawing ever closer to success and perfection that makes such events so entertaining and incredibly addictive.
But there's another side to Dirt Showdown, one that sheds the skill for mindless and supremely satisfying displays of destruction: Demolition events. The licensed cars are ditched in favour of made-up machines that are turned into crumpled heaps of scrap as you're launched into the centre of an arena to ram, slam, and boost your way into opponents, doing everything you can to whittle down their health bars and to score points. Enclosed arenas give you barriers to ram them against, while open arenas mean mistimed boosts send you spiralling out of control onto the surrounding sandy ground.

DiRT Showdownscreenshot
T-Bone: apparently not just a delicious steak.

Review Men in Black

Monday, 4 June 2012 | 0 comments


Review Men in Black

1.0 stars Terrible
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The bad old days of movie tie-in games are back. MIB: Alien Crisis is an on-rails third-person shooter that is boring to play and ugly to look at. The musty dialogue fails to reproduce any of the charm of the movie franchise, and you can see everything the game has to offer in the span of an afternoon. This creaky relic of the past retails for full price in the present, making it one of the most shamelessly exploitative games in recent memory.
6379813NoneShooting aliens and performing psych evaluations.
You play as a disgraced archaeologist turned art thief turned man in black, Agent P, who joins the agency after stealing an alien artifact for the villain, the improbably named Emilio Chauncy. Agent P's sardonic attitude is clearly modeled after Agent J (played by Will Smith in the movies), but his attempts at witty irreverence fall flat. The by-the-book female agent you pair up with is a bland foil for jokes about authority and increasingly flirtatious banter, but the hackneyed writing utterly fails to capture the humorous juxtaposition of nonchalance in the face of the bizarre that serves the movies so well.
With the hope of humor dashed, you are left to rely on spectacle and gameplay. Alas, Alien Crisis is an unattractive game that would have looked dated years ago. Homely character models waggle their mouth holes during cutscenes, and the barren backgrounds offer precious little distraction. Action sequences are a visual mess of bright, blurry projectiles and explosions, and your clumsy-looking alien enemies are covered in a milky sheen.
There's nary an echo of the slick visual style of the movies, and so you are left with the gameplay. As in most light-gun shooters, you progress automatically to the next point in the level when you defeat all the enemies at your current point. At any given location you can jog between two or three cover positions or just hang out in the open and fire away. Moving is a good way to avoid grenades and get a better angle on some enemies, but you can usually clear most foes from a stationary position.

Using the analog stick or the Top Shot Elite, you slide your reticle around the screen to target your weak alien enemies (Note: There is no in-game way to invert your aim, but it will honor your Xbox profile preferences). Your small arsenal consists of a few unremarkable guns (the iconic noisy cricket being an explosive exception), as well as a few attachments that add a bit of variety. You can freeze an enemy and shatter him, use an antigravity grenade to lift a group of foes into the air, or slow down time temporarily. The most versatile attachment lets you encase enemies or innocent bystanders in a bubble that you can then shoot it to make it bounce around the area and kill foes.

Review Dragon's Lair

Sunday, 3 June 2012 | 0 comments

Review Dragon's Lair

2.0 stars Mediocre
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The good: A heavy dose of nostalgia
Attractive animation holds up even today
The bad: Frustrating cooperative play
Kinect mode often unresponsive
Memorization more important than skill
Too short
The bottom line: This new port of Dragon's Lair brings Kinect support and leaderboards to the classic game, but its gameplay hasn't aged well.

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Considering that the Xbox 360 has been around for over six years, it's a little surprising that we haven't seen a port of the 1983 classic Dragon's Lair until now. Not only is it one of only three games accorded permanent exhibition status at the Smithsonian Institution (along with Pac-Man and Pong), but it has also managed to worm its way onto everything from the Commodore 64 and NES to the iPhone in the intervening 29 years. Most of these were uninspired rehashes that brought almost nothing new to the experience, but this latest incarnation's leaderboards and Kinect support at least mark a step toward variety. Unfortunately, that's still not enough to make it worth your time.

Dragon's Lairscreenshot
Get used to seeing this shot. A lot.
Dragon's Lair was a colossal hit back in the days when visuals in video games were first evolving from wads of pixels to recognizable and iconic sprites such as Mario. Its appeal lay in its novelty. Harnessing the talents of celebrated animator Don Bluth, Dragon's Lair marked an ambitious attempt to jump over 10 years into the future, chucking the standard digital conventions of the day and being based entirely on animation.
At the time, it worked. In an age when Mario still wasn't "super," arcade goers could laugh at the antics of the goofy knight named Dirk the Daring on his quest to rescue the sultry Princess Daphne from the clutches of the dragon Singe. Instead of deaths that just knocked the hero offscreen, you saw poor Dirk subjected to snake strangulations and rib-cracking impacts. And instead of saving some generic princess, you won the hand of Princess Daphne, whose Playboy-inspired model turns heads as easily now as it did back then.
Even so, its animated focus demands simple gameplay even by the standards of its era. Indeed, little more than an interactive movie at heart, it's best understood in modern terms as the direct ancestor of the quick-time events (or QTEs) sprinkled throughout countless modern action games. Then as now, the entire game revolves around knowing when to press one of the four directions on a D-pad to move Dirk out of the way of danger, and using a button to slash your sword. Miss one of the lightning-fast prompts, and you find that death comes easy and often in Singe's domain. Unfortunately, such a setup means that success relies far more on memorization than true skill. The resulting trail and error is even more disappointing upon the realization that some of Dragon's Lair's 29 scenes repeat throughout Dirk's brief journey.

Dragon's Lairscreenshot
This sequence is anything but better with Kinect.

Review FIFA 12 xbox

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 | 0 comments


Fifa 12 - It will make you laugh and cry!!
I haven't played a Fifa game for about 4 years (preferring usually the Pro Evolution franchise) but this year I decided to give it a whirl owing to ever more positive reviews for EAs footy installments. When I first started playing I was very happy about a number of things, and, unhappy about some others. This review does not include online play, I am only reviewing what...

VS

Multiplayer excellent, single player frustrating
For me, the basic mechanics of the gameplay in FIFA 12 are probably the best they've been in the FIFA series for some time. The passing and movement is a lot sharper, especially if you speed up the gameplay in the settings menu. It's about as close to old school PES as the Xbox has got in my opinion.

While playing friends is great, however, I really find...
FIFA 12 (Xbox 360)
 
 
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