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Friday, 29 March 2013

Assassin's Creed 3 Review




 Assassin’s Creed.  It’s a captivating series that has been drawn out over numerous games. Sadly the fifth instalment is quite a letdown. With a tiresome and dull main protagonist, frustrating tree climbing mechanics and another slow attempt to continue Desmond’s main storyline, Assassins Creed 3 struck well below expectations for this great series.

Beginning in a short and succinct cut scene to fill in the back story, excellent graphics and integration pieces together the story so far. The gist of the Assassin’s Creed storyline is about saving the world from a largely unexplained threat, whilst ensuring freedom for all. The age old enemy the Templar’s vaguely seek the same goal, but believe to ensure peace the world must be ruled with an iron fist. Soldiering through the initial opening sequence and levels brings forth what this does best: the action and combat. These certainly did not disappoint me, many a sword swipes was blocked, enemy disarmed and musket fire dodged.   
                     
The more of the game that is played the more you grow to like the characters and storyline. Haytham Kenway for example is certainly an entertaining character and as you explore further into the game there are some interesting plot twists that prove the competence of Ubisoft’s writers. But when the majority of the game is reached with gameplay as Conner, he proved to be an unemotional, detached and unlikable character; his irritating decisions infuriates at every turn. Although you can manage to endure Conner enough to thoroughly enjoy the finer aspects of the game, his personality is certainly a downer. 

The combat and control mechanics were slightly changed from previous titles, with adjustments to the sprint and counter system. This took a while to get used to, but added the requirement of more timing and finesse to successfully take out an opponent. The addition of pistols and muskets added further difficulty creating enjoyable fight progression as you take down bad guy after bad guy; in style. There were huge improvements to so many aspects of the free running world, with a huge expanse of land called the Frontier, which is 1.5x bigger than Rome in brotherhood and another 2 cities to explore, there is huge potential for fun. Being a largely unpopulated area, there is little opportunity for the awesome free-running experience offered by buildings. Although Ubisoft have tried to cover it up with a tree-climbing mechanic, the system still needs a lot of work and is frustrating at times. It still holds the possibility for awesomeness though with the introduction of the rope dart, which can be used to hang, stab and trip others.

As you pass further through the game you are introduced to the homestead, essentially a hub for you and all your allies. Here you can engage in fun and exciting homestead missions, or launch off in your very own ship, the Aquila. At the ships store you can spend some of your otherwise useless money on upgrades, than embark on missions that seriously improve this game. Whether you are chasing down Templar ships or clearing out a pirate vanguard, naval warfare is downright amazing. Managing the speed of your ship, navigating through fields of jagged rocks and firing broadsides at your enemies makes an amazing experience. Although lacking in a full campaign of missions, there is a good variety of escort, fort assault and sea battle tasks.

The environment and lore of this game is expansive, a history book in itself. You might spend hours engulfed in the database, intrigued by its secrets. The rich historical record is accompanied by an extremely detailed replica of Northern America’s cities and frontier; the expanse and detail of the world can captivate anyone. It is also possible to exploit its rich wildlife with the hunting system, setting traps and using your bow you are able to hunt down deer, rabbits and other animals. This detailed world of full of wonder and fun is what makes assassin’s creed games great, unlike the many other games full of mindless killing, you have meaning and purpose.

The multiplayer, although having existed in previous titles is still a relatively new and exciting part of the game, offering seven individual game modes, several playable characters and multiple abilities to use. After some quick games I slowly picked up how to play and it established itself as an important part of AC 3. The wanted game mode for example shows the amount of skill required to fully utilize the combat system. One player skulks around, hiding in groups of people, whilst the hunter follows silently preparing to strike. This can prove to be exciting and intense if played correctly, but can be frustrating and wearisome at times as well.

Assassins Creed 3 is a great game, glitch and bug ridden, but still a great game. Whether  sneaking up behind unsuspecting soldiers, running across precarious rooftops or taking in the beautiful landscape, it’s loaded with fun. It may be a step down from the pioneering precursors, with repetitive tasks and little variety in assassination, but Assassins creed 3 still shines through as an superb game, which gives it an overall score of 7/10.

Halo 4 Review




The Halo series is an action packed and exciting saga, so does the newest title of this amazing line up live up to its predecessors? I believe so, with detailed visuals, an intricate and emotional storyline and respectable game play, 343 industry’s Halo 4 ticks all the boxes. Picking up where halo 3 left off, the epic saga of Master Chief continues as he faces more than just the physical threat of the covenant.

The Multiplayer


Halo 4, as with previous Halo titles contains the all admired multiplayer mode, dubbed ‘war games’. These games are generated as you and your fellow Spartans plug yourselves in for a realistic, but harmless combat situation where you are pitted to the death. New changes to the multiplayer system have introduced Load outs. This allows you to configure what you would like to go into combat with from a restricted choice of weapons and perks. Whilst receiving some criticism as to how it might turn Halo 4 into another Call of duty game, it kept its boundaries from the other popular franchise. Many new weapons were also introduced, including the storm rifle, rail gun and various promethean weapons which have been established by the newest race to the Halo franchise. Along with these saw the return of the battle rifle, DMR and other time-old Halo weapons.
Halo 4 also returned with new and old armour gadgets, allowing players to jet pack over objects, sprint at lightning speeds or even use x-ray vision. These have added complexity to combat, changing the way Spartans fight, but for the better or worse?

With these new upgrades to multiplayer comes a flashy new lobby screen, whilst slightly more confusing and frustrating at times it has a much nicer look and better integration. There are plenty of playlists to choose from, consisting of the classic slayer, capture the flag and oddball, with some new ones like dominion and Flood (Zombie) mode. Whilst hanging around in the lobby waiting to join a match you can set up your personalized load outs, configure your settings and customize your looks. Player customization has became an integral part of the halo series, switching up helmets and colours to get your personal look makes the game all that more special.

There are two general types of Halo 4 game modes, based on whether you’re trying to complete an objective or just straight out killing. I prefer both, which is offered in regicide. A player from each team is assigned king depending on how well they are playing, and each team must protect their own king, whilst trying to take out the other. This is great fun as you can mix up your play style from hiding away your king, to blasting the other team off the face of requiem.

Another playlist, slayer, tasks you with eliminating other players either as a team or Free For All. This can prove an interesting experience whether you are jumping in with friends chatting through your Xbox live party, meeting new people or perhaps even trolling. Whatever you are doing, there are many game modes to try with 343 industry’s enjoyable take on Halo’s multiplayer.


Another great aspect of what 343 has done with the game is the addition of Spartan Ops, an added feature that expands the Halo universe to more than just master chiefs story. Released by free DLC in season packages, it details the operations of Crimson team as they return to requiem 6 months after the end of the Halo 4 campaign. You are match made with a maximum of three other players for an awesome co-op experience. Unlike the campaign Spartan ops features more generic wave fighting, meaning you camp out most of the mission taking out hundreds of bad guys. These can be great fun to play with some mates, coordinate your defences, load up with some gear and see how many you can take down with you.


The Campaign



Once again, the story of John 117, the Master Chief, proved to be an engaging experience. Those who are familiar with the series have formed strong bonds with John and his AI Cortana, making the game an emotional tale as well as your standard FPS. This emotional side is strengthened by Cortana’s rampancy, a part of her AI stage of life where she literally thinks herself to death.

Beginning where you left of in Halo 3, aboard the UNSC Frigate Forward Until Dawn you make your way through the levels with sheer determination; what will happen next? Can I save Cortana? As you venture further into the game you will uncover more than you bargained for, revealing new races to the Halo universe as well as some old ones. The game brought a sheer sense of nostalgia as I remembered back to the original Halo games, the weapons, the characters and the epic legend of the Master Chief. No other franchise can capture that deeply instilled emotional bond with a veteran fan and that is what makes the Halo series so great.

Halo 4 registered high on my list of all time greats, including a genuinely interesting and compelling storyline, fun and exciting game play and a wide range of content choices, it is certainly a hot choice for game of the year. I look forward to further titles from 343 industries and to more Halo games, awarding Halo 4 with a mighty 9/10! Huzzah to Halo!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Infinity Blade 2 Review


The epic story of Siris is continued in the epic sequel to the original, Infinity Blade 2. With complex, captivating visuals, deep, meaningful gameplay and excellently written story, Infinity Blade 2 smashed my expectations and provided hours of fun on the quest to defeat the deathless beings. Epic games, the developer of the Infinity Blade series have obviously placed much effort towards making the game what it is, not some second rate effort to rip off their fans, but a well composed and genuine effort to make a good game. This game always mesmerized me and being wrapped in so many layers during the development its hard not to. But with all these graphics, sounds, story developments, concepts and ideas, Infinity blade 2 still pulls in on what’s important, the gameplay, a component that should be at heart of any and all games.

First and foremost, the most important part of Infinity Blade 2 is the gameplay which pure genius in concept and execution, albeit a little repetitive at times. Placing you right in with the swordplay, your swipes can deflect, dodge and block anything your opponent throws at you and if your skilled enough you can chain together powerful combos of attacks to deal huge damage. Your first aim as a player is to improve you dodge and parry reflexes, If you cant stay alive you can’t win right? Different enemy’s have different attack patterns and the key is to learn all of them, recognize the animations and prepare a defence, once you’ve got this down pack you can move onto striking back. Infinity Blades combat works in a ‘sort of’ turn based fight with seamless integration, meaning you have to block as many attacks as you can, than take your turn at dealing some damage. If you attack before your ‘turn’, than only a minute amount of damage is dealt. All these components piece nicely together to create an enjoyable experience. The combat does have a few flaws, with parry swipes missing for no reason and some bad lag at points, but overall the system is fairly clean of glitches and bugs. The one part of the gameplay that really ticks me off is the elemental damage, once you get a little deeper in the game these elemental additions to opponents render a shield virtually useless, forcing you to dodge and parry everything to stay alive. Why have a shield if it can’t block damage? This can be countered with elemental protection gems, but with such a diversity of elements, it is nearly impossible to protect against them all.

Whilst most of the equipment and titan models are just re textured versions of the first games, the layered and absorbing graphics help to draw you into the game and create a great IOS experience. The background is utterly jaw dropping, a fountain flows behind you as you take down a giant monster, ancient structures surround an arena as you take down a huge beast and a massive tower dominates the land, the centrepiece of the whole game. I still don’t understand why so much content was recycled from infinity blade 1, sword, shield and armour models where simply re-textured and given different attributes. With so much time on their hands for amazing graphics, it would have been nice to see some new models from epic games. The graphics are accompanied by some cleverly crafted sound effects, clangs and clashes come from everywhere as you fight it out neck and neck, you can hear the jingling of chain mail, the movement of hinges and the grunts as you lift your huge sword. The entire game can be intensified or calmed with on the dot music, matching the emotions of your character throughout the entire experience
Infinity Blade 2 is a complete game with few flaws drawing away from its awesomeness, with an equilibrium of enjoyable gameplay, graphics, sound and story. The game is surely worth the price and any gamer can expect hours upon hours of fun, this game is certainly not your typical old sidescroller or angry birds clone, its a genre in its own, something never before seen in IOS gaming.

Terra Incognita – RPG goes Retro style with this upcoming Game.



Terra Incognita is a forthcoming RPG that is heavily inspired by Retro games, an epic journey drawing concepts and ideas from games like Suikoden 2 and final fantasy. As is with many aspiring Indie projects, Terra Incognita began with kick-starter, asking but a meek €500. But typical kindness, generosity and delight to see a new indie project pop up accumulated to a total of €3,650, meaning Dan will be adding loads of extra content to the game. Drawing concepts and ideas from games like Suikoden 2 and Final Fantasy, Terra Incognita is set to release December this year for PC, with later dates for Ouya, Android and Wii U.


1 - The combat system in early development.



Terra Incognita will consist of many different elements, with quests, dungeons and main and secondary storylines.
 Dan hinted in his kick-starter page that the game will include:
·         A gripping storyline 
·         A Vast World Map with lots of towns/cities/dungeons and more!
·         Tons of side-quests!
·         Items/ weapons/ equipment, Magic, Potions, Spells and more!
·         Lots of recruitable characters that are not story critical but can be used as battle party members!
·         Every character has their own special technique learning section. As well as learning Magic spells and other abilities.
·         Each party member’s statistics vary, depending on their class.  
·         Lots and lots of dungeon crawling, looting and monster hunting away from the main story, IF you're into that sort of thing (Of course you are!)


Character Sprites.

For a two man team a lot of effort has been and will be put into this game, I truly hope that Dan can meet his standards and produce for us an amazing Retro Inspired game which will take us back to the days of final fantasy and those other classic RPGs. If you’re feeling charitable donate or pre purchase the game from www.terraincognitarpg.net, and help this Indie Project be the best it can be. All the best to Dan with Terra Incognita, It’s great to see lots of interest in his game and with a bit of luck it will continue to grow into an epic game.

The Walking Dead Review: An Emotional Thriller From The Apocalypse



The Walking Dead, a popular comic and television series, got its game adaptation back in April 2012. Released in stages as episodes throughout the year, it finished up in November last year with its retail hard copy soon following.
The Walking Dead has its exciting, fast action moments as well as in depth dialogue where you get the constant feeling of anticipation, waiting for the moment when you’re going to have to make your move. You take the role of lee, a convicted murderer who is caught in the chaotic world of zombies, survivors and guns, lots of guns.
For those that have not entered The Walking Dead universe before, I will set the scene. The world has been struck by a deadly virus, spread through scratch or bite. First the victim contacts a malevolent fever, from which they quickly die, but soon after they begin to walk, searching for food and people to strip of their scrumptious body parts. This leaves the survivors to survive by any means possible, morals are out of the question for some.
Bandits, walkers, the sane and the insane, survivors and the dead, The Walking Dead makes for a thrilling and emotionally intense game. The detail into not only the comic like graphics, but also the story continues to amaze and that is why it is a smash hit throughout the industry. This point and click adventure truly expands the boundaries of the genre, more of an interactive movie in itself. If you haven’t tried it out yet, head over to the app store and try out the first episode for free, the Walking Dead is something that you must experience.