Rock of Ages Review

September 16, 2011 by  
Filed under PC, Playstation 3, PSN Arcade, Reviews, XBLA, Xbox 360

As the tower-defence genre continues its invasion of online marketplaces, Rock of Ages from Atlus is another game that presents the genre in its own weird flavour. Being different can, however, either lead to success or massive failure; so let’s see how Rock of Ages does.

You take control Sissyphus, who gets fed up with pushing a boulder up a mountain repeatedly and decides to use that boulder to break free. After breaking free, you travel along history fighting various historical figures. This storyline is told by hilariously quirky cutscenes before each level, which are one of the highlights of the game.

As you can see, the storyline definitely isn’t one of the selling points for this game. So we’ll move on to the more important gameplay, and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of its differentness either. Unlike a lot of tower-defence games, this one gives more importance to attack than it does to defence. Also, unlike a lot of games, it isn’t the traditional tower-defence game with turrets and waves of enemies that get stronger and bigger.

In Rock of Ages your main defensive units include a variety of towers (which don’t shoot), catapults, cows, elephants, wind-machines etc. And what do these units try to stop? They’ll be stopping the opponent’s boulder from destroying your gates. You also get to attack using boulders which you control past your opponent’s defence down slopes along various tracks; you can steer them or make them jump. Once you crash a boulder into your opponent’s gate, you have to wait while another boulder is made and you can use this time to strengthen your defences.

The defence will do its job mainly by weakening the boulder or by pushing it off the winding tracks. Weakening the boulder means that it causes less damage to your gate and hence your opponent needs more boulders to destroy your gate, while pushing the boulder off the track wastes a few precious seconds which means that you get your next boulder rolling before the enemy.

All this sounds great in theory, but in reality the defensive part of the game is undercooked. The fact that your boulder can jump renders a lot of the opposition’s and your defences useless; and the game turns into a race to see who can hit the enemy’s gates first. Most of the time you only need 3 boulders to do the job. You can also buy different types of boulders, which cause greater damage. But this is superficial in the end, as you more often than not need 3 boulders.

There are also boss battles, but most of the entertainment from these comes from the stupidity of the battle rather than its difficulty, as these levels are very very easy. You also need to collect a certain number of golden keys before these battles, but this is a pointless formality as you manage to collect enough keys without really trying.

You can also test yourself against human opponents online or offline, but this is affected by the same flaws and doesn’t feel a lot different to the campaign mode.

The graphics won’t wow you, but they won’t disappoint either; however the quirky art-style does suit the theme of the game, as do the paper characters of the game. There’s virtually no speech in the game, but the sound effects used during the cutscenes make them hilarious; while the background music suits the game very well, and it speeds up in the final parts of each level to complement the frantic scramble towards the enemy’s gates.

The ideas behind the game are great, but the execution is a bit disappointing. There’s a lot of wasted potential that will hopefully be made full use of in Rock of Ages 2 but, as it stands, ROA is a decent game if you’re looking for something that isn’t too intense but can provide a few laughs.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War Review

September 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

The online stores/marketplaces are littered with tower defence games, ranging from the brilliant to the ridiculously bad. Toy Soldiers, the series, presents its own flavour of tower-defence. With a lot of third-person shooting and vehicular action, Cold War hopes to improve upon its disappointing predecessor.

The game is obviously set during the Cold War, but don’t expect any historical accuracy. You take control of US forces and have to prevent waves upon waves of enemies from entering your Toy Box.

The main part of your defence will be turrets of various types, including machine-guns, anti-tank cannons, anti-aircraft batteries etc. These turrets can, however, only be placed at certain pre-designated locations around the map. These turrets will continue to take out enemies without your interference, but aren’t really that effective under the AI’s control and you’ll be letting a lot of enemy units through if you leave it to the AI. If you want a job done properly, you’ve got to do it yourself; and fortunately in this case, you can take control of your turrets.

Taking control of the turrets also allows you to use certain perks that the AI won’t. Such as being able to remotely control the rockets you fire to manouevre them around obstacles. Another plus, when it comes to controlling turrets, is that taking out a lot of enemies quickly gives you unlimited ammo for a limited period of time and unlock Barrages (which I will cover a little later). All this makes your defence a lot more effective, and of course fun.

You will also be able to supplement your defence with the use of vehicles, of which there is atleast one in every map. These range from tanks to helicopters to jets. They are extremely powerful and are good for taking out the tougher units. They are limited by battery power though, and they explode once they run out of batteries. To be able to use them again, you need to wait for them to be fully charged which takes quite some time.

Barrages are awards you earn for either killing a large number of enemies in a short time, or for personally killing an enemy marked with a red star. These awards range from artillery strikes to air support to tactical nukes, all of which are very good at eliminating whole waves at once. The most interesting of the Barrages is probably the ‘Commando’; which lets you take control of a commando with infinite rockets and bullets, who, at the same time, shouts a lot of cheesy lines at the enemy.

Additional to the single player, there are also co-op and versus modes. While the co-op isn’t a lot more enjoyable than the single-player, ripping each others defences apart in the versus is a lot of fun. There are also a number of mini-games, but they don’t offer any kind of excitement; and the survival mode is good for a couple of plays.

The game does a very good job with the visuals. The 80s setting and the toyish-nature of the game is complemented very well by everything from the surroundings, to buildings within maps, to the character models and art-style. There is an occassional drop in the frame-rate when a lot of action is going on, but it is very infrequent.

The devs have done equally well with the sound. The background music complements the game, and the sound effects, from your machine-gun to the constant explosions, all sound realistic. The very little voice acting, coming almost entirely from the commado, is purposefully cheesy and quite humourous.

Overall, this game is a vast improvement over the previous one, and is probably the best tower-defence game out there. It doesn’t have much replay value, apart from the multiplayer, but it is a game I definitely recommend as an action or tower-defence game.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team Review

July 26, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

Warhammer 40k: Kill Team, meant to be an appetiser for Space Marine which arrives later this year, adopts the classic dual-stick shooter genre. But does it leave us drooling for the main course or end up with gamers losing their appetite, let’s find out.

You don’t need to have played any previous games from the Warhammer world to understand what this game’s story is about. Basically, an Ork Kroozer is approaching your planet and your job is to raid it and destroy it before it gets to its destination; nothing too complicated there.

The controls aren’t too complicated either, with the left analogue stick used for movement while the right controls the aiming and shooting. You melee using A, and special-attacks are controlled through LB. You’ll spend most of the game smashing those buttons trying to fight off hordes of Orks, while walking along corridors.

Unfortunately the gameplay doesn’t evolve much beyond that. Whether it’s the first or the last level, 95% of the time you’ll find yourself running along a corridor, with enemies emerging out of regularly spaced doors, and the objectives almost always revolve around you shooting an object till it’s life meter runs down. I’m not saying that the gameplay is boring however; the sheer number of enemies and the satisfaction of mowing them down provides a lot of enjoyment, and the increasing strength of the enemies makes it quite a challenging game.

Some more variety would’ve been welcome though. There is an attempt to make the game more interesting through the unlockable weapons and perks. For each of the 4 space marine classes that you can play with, there are 2 increasingly powerful weapons that you can unlock. The unlockable perks have effects such as extra health, faster special-attack charging, more damage etc. You can pick 2 perks when starting a mission and can change these during the mission via loadout stations. These perks and weapons are great to have as they make the fighting a lot more easy, but you never really feel any incentive to go out there and gain points just to unlock those perks.

The campaign’s 5 missions can be completed alone or with a friend in local-only co-op. The co-op is a much more enjoyable experience due to the much higher number of enemies, along with the ability to share power-ups and revive each other; making the gameplay even more frantic. Online co-op would’ve been a great adittion, especially when it comes to survival mode where you must fight off hordes of enemies for as long as you can; hopefully online gameplay in some shape or form will be present in Space Marine.

When it comes to visuals, Kill Team will by no means awe you with it’s textures or character models but the art-style and palette suit the game very well, and make it a good-looking game in the end. Animations in the game are below par, and the slow-mo scenes show that killed enemies show no sign of damage at all while blood just consists of random red flashes around enemies.

The game doesn’t do much better when it comes to sound. The music and sound-effects do a decent job, but I found the voice-acting and dialogues quite annoying; the cheesiness is evident with every one of your actions, even walking a few feet down a corridor, being asked to be done in the name of the emperor. This annoyance is compounded by another slightly unrelated issue: being unable to skip the cut-scenes which seem to drag on forever, with little or no information being conveyed to the gamer at times.

Overall, the game is not technically the most brilliant out there and has its fair share of flaws. By doing the basics well it does manage to be fun, but is it fun enough to compensate for those flaws? I don’t think so.

F.E.A.R 3 Review

July 19, 2011 by  
Filed under PC, Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

Playing a well-executed horror game is an experience not many other games can match, while a poorly made one can seem like painful comedy. Fortunately, over the past few years we have seen many great horror games, and the genre has done well thanks to healthy competition between the likes of Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill, F.E.A.R and most recently Dead Space. All these games have their own varying styles of gameplay, and this review talks about F.E.A.R 3, an FPS.

The plot revolves around stopping a pregnant Alma, an evil and incredibly powerful psychic, from having her child due to the fear of how powerful this baby may be. I won’t spoil the story for you by telling you all the details, but basically you spend most of the game shooting and blowing up enemies to accomplish this and there aren’t many twists along the way.

You take control of Point Man on your first playthrough of the game. Point Man is your generic protagonist, however he has super-quick reflexes that allow you to slow done time. You can also replay any of the game’s 8 levels with a different character called Fettel. Fettel is a bit more interesting than Point Man, as he has the ability to take over the bodies of enemies from afar. This, as you can imagine, can create a lot of havoc and is a lot of fun.

If you were allowed to use these abilities in tandem with each other, you could come up with many imaginative ways of destroying hordes of enemies; and that is exactly what the co-op allows you to do. The co-op allows you to play the campaign online or locally, with one player controlling Point Man and the other Fettel. Thanks to the limitless ways in which you can combine your powers, you can play each level several times without it getting boring.

Apart from these psychic abilities your characters possess, the gameplay is the same as pretty much every FPS out there. The shooting mechanics are quite solid, aiming is smooth and your weapons have a feeling of brutality about them. The grenade-throwing does feel a bit wonky however, and it seems that there’s no way to judge accurately where your grenades will land.

So the shooter part of the game seems pretty good, but as a horror game it’s got to be…. scary. Unfortunately, you won’t find too much to fear in F.E.A.R 3. There are odd moments where you might feel a bit spooked out, but there’s nothing that’ll give you nightmares.

Apart from the campaign, there’s the online multiplayer; and this is where you will probably spend most of your time. It consists of 4 game modes, and each mode only allows 4 players in a match. However these 4 game modes are quite unique. F***ing run has you and your 3 team-mates running from a wave of deadly fog, while fighting through hordes of enemies. In Contraction the 4 players work together to fight off waves of enemies. In Soul King you must possess enemies to kill each other while in Soul Survivor you have to possess enemies to kill the other players turning them into spectres like yourself.

All this is supplemented by a well-implemented points system, which has you unlocking different perks and abilities as you level up. You gain these points by completing various tasks, in the campaign or multiplayer. This helps hook you into the already solid multiplayer.

One place where the game does disappoint are the visuals. The graphics are far below the standards we’ve come to expect from this gen’s games. While graphics are not the be all and end all for any game, in this case the poor visuals ruin the atmosphere, which is so important for any horror game. The game does redeem itself to a large extent with the audio side of things. While the voice-acting is decent, the sound-effects and music are brilliant and do a great job of creating an eerie ambience.

Overall this game is a FPS with a small touch of horror, rather than a full-fledged horror game. The single player of decent length, along with the unique multiplayer make this a solid game and one that you can put a good amount of time into without it getting monotonous. So if you’re looking to buy F.E.A.R 3, you’ve got nothing to fear.

MX vs. ATV Alive Review

July 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

I’ve always been a big fan of racing games, no other genre can match the precision and skill required by these games. However Motocross, probably the most challenging racing sub-genre, has been relatively overlooked by developers; many games being sub-par and not fulfilling the great potential available. Developed by THQ, MX vs. ATV Alive is the 4th game in its series, and can hopefully put in a performance the genre deserves.

I’ll start off discussing the most important part of any game, especially a racing game, the game mechanics. The weight and handling of each of the vehicles feels just right, and definitely doesn’t give you that feeling of pushing a toy-car you get from some games. The racing surfaces have also been modelled really well to give realistic and varied grips; and an aspect that really impressed me was the change in the surface as a race went on. Not only did the appearance change but there was a marked change in the behaviour, which makes races much more unpredictable and challenging.

An important part of the game mechanics when it comes to Motocross, is controlling the weight of your driver. In MX vs. ATV Alive, you control your weight using the right analogue stick, and this plays an important part when it comes to jumps and corners. It also has a vital role when it comes to preventing wrecks, where you’ll have to quickly push the stick in a specific direction to prevent yourself from falling off and losing precious seconds to your competition; you’ll be doing this quite often as the game promotes physical aggression between drivers.

However, there is virtually no help from the game regarding the clutch, locking the suspension, weight of the driver etc. All this can be mastered by playing the game, however there is a steep learning curves for people new to Motocross games.

You’ll be doing all this racing on 12 longer tracks or 4 shorter ones; while there are also 2 free-play areas. The number of tracks is very disappointing, considering the short-tracks and free-play areas are not good for much other than a quick mess about. You’ll only have 2 long tracks available at the beginning, and the others have to be unlocked through an XP system similar to many RPG games.

I’ll describe the system in one word: “broken”. You unlock tracks at level 10 and 25, until then you have to race on the same 2 tracks again and again. It sounds bad, but it is much worse. In between, you unlock different accessories, parts and perks but none of this provides any feeling of satisfaction and seems a bit superficial.

A lot of the monotony can be avoided by playing online instead, which is a lot of fun. But once again, it’s not as good as it could be due to there being only one game type.

The graphics are quite good; the tracks and the wear and tear on them are rendered really well, though there is some texture pop-in and pixellation during multiplayer races. The game does decently as far as sound is concerned, using reasonably realistic SFX for the engines and a soundtrack that is decent but nothing special.

Overall MX vs. ATV Alive lacks a bit of life. The game mechanics are great, but there’s just not enough to keep the gamer satisfied, and this is made worse by the bizarre XP system. It feels like the game has gone backwards compared to its predecessor, and is just another name in the growing list of motocross games that fail to deliver.

Brink Review

June 15, 2011 by  
Filed under PC, Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

With the commercial success of games such as Call of Duty, developers have started to give the online aspects of games more and more attention. Too much attention, some might say, considering how the overall length and quality of single player campaigns has quickly diminished. Brink, from Bethesda, looks to continue this trend by ‘blending the single and multiplayer modes into one seamless experience’.

Brink is set on a floating man-made city called The Ark, where a civil-war between two factions called The Security and The Resistance is taking place.

You start off the game by creating a character, and according to the devs there are 102,247,681,536,000,000 different characters you can make. You can change everything about your character from facial features to tattoos to scars, however most of it is superficial.

Something that will have a significant effect on the game, however, is the body type you choose. You can make your character lightweight, normal or heavyweight; with each ‘type’ having its own perks thanks to a unique system called SMART. With SMART, pressing the sprint button allows you to go into a free-running mode where you can climb walls, jump over obstacles, slide etc. and therefore rain death upon your opponents from all directions. The different body-types mean that with lightweight you can conquer much larger obstacles than the heavier body-types, while the more heavy characters will be able to carry larger weapons and absorb much more damage.

The multiplayer consists of 8 maps, and a number of different objectives. Then you also have two different types of matches, Objective and Stopwatch. During Objective, one team attacks while the other defends, and during Stopwatch, the teams try to complete the objective in less time than it took the other team. The game implements an XP system where doing anything from watching a tutorial video to killing an enemy gets you XP, which can be used to unlock skills. While the game is fun to play, it does quickly get bland as doing the same thing over and over again takes its toll.

There are 4 classes, Solider, Medic, Engineer and Operative, and each has its own abilities. They are well balanced, as they offer no overall advantage over the other, however sometimes it feels like they are too similar. With each class you can have a positive impact on the rest of the team, and therefore encourages people to take up different classes and work as a team.

Multiplayer also plays a large part in the campaign mode. You can choose which side, Resistance or Security, to take in the campaign and can re-play it for the other side if you wish. Each campaign consists of 6 levels + 2 alternate-scenarios and take place on the same maps as the multiplayer ones. The levels can be played against other people, with any empty slots filled with bots. Unfortunately this is ridiculously short, even by today’s standards, and the storyline is virtually non-existent.

The game does redeem itself to a small extent when it comes to graphics, it does look brilliant at times. However, it also suffers from occasional bugs and glitches which have been reduced to a large extent by recent patches but still rear their ugly head from time to time. The game also does well in the sound department, capturing the cold brutality of the weapons very well while employing a decent soundtrack too.

To sum up, unfortunately this game seems like a half-hearted attempt to cash-in on the recent COD-frenzy. Even though it does do some things well, such as the new SMART system, it is also far too monotonous and not varied enough to succeed. The foundations for a great game are there, they just need to be built upon much much more.

Portal 2 Review

April 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

The first Portal was brilliant. It was a great idea executed with the precision Valve is famous for. Well-written, funny, challenging, unique, everything you’d want in a game; but it never felt like a full game. It felt more like a short story than a proper novel, I certainly didn’t think it would be the beginning of a series. Portal 2′s here though, and Valve had a job on their hand. To develop the sequel, while avoiding a regurgitation of the original.

The effects of our actions at the end of Portal become evident as Chell wakes up. The once immaculate Aperture Science Facility is now little more than obsolete equipment and overgrown plants. This is also where you come across Wheatley, a robot that teams up with you to escape the facility. Now he may seem like the cliched side-kick, but his role in the game is far far greater. He provides a continuous dose of witty comedy through some of the best written and voiced dialogues. Wheatley is the main source of entertainment at the beginning, when the action is slightly dull.

This underlines another point. Portal 2 places a much larger emphasis on character development than its predecessor. While the original did have the notorious GLaDOS with her lethal sense of humour; Portal 2 has many more characters, each’s past, present and personality plays a significant part in the game. This also applies to the plot which is now much more complex, in fact there are moments where it seems like the plot is slightly too intense.

I won’t spoil the game by going into details regarding the story. But what I will tell you is that GLaDOS, a little pissed off from your attempt to kill her, does play a large part in the game. She’s not the only thing that carries through from Portal though; the game mechanics are, unsurprisingly, pretty much the same. For those who haven’t  played the original; you can create a maximum of 2 portals at once, jumping into one portal leads to falling out of the other. Pretty straightforward, and the game leads you through the basics anyways.

There are some new toys to play with though, including bouncy goo, light-bridges and tractor beams. All these add extra-dimensions to each puzzle, and you’ll have to quickly get the hold of using each one on its own as well as combining them; especially as the levels go from the familiar test chambers to massive areas that take a lot of time to wrap your mind around.

However, if you haven’t played Portal before, this is not your usual puzzle game that you can play with one hand while sipping a cup of tea. As much as it requires puzzle-solving skills, it also needs fast reactions to be able execute the solution; when you’re zipping through the air, a few milliseconds can be the difference between placing a portal correctly and placing it above certain death. And unlike many games, Portal 2 doesn’t cheat. The challenges have logical solutions and stem from ingenious design, rather than having you decipher the game’s poorly designed levels.

The single-player lasts around 7 hours, and then you can go onto the co-op. Now the co-op isn’t just a replay of the single-player. It’s actually a completely different set of levels, with a continuation of the plot and is arguably better than the single-player. You and your partner take control of two robots, each with a portal gun, each being able to shoot 2 portals. 2 + 2 = 4. Now I know you can count (I hope), but the possibility of 4 portals changes a lot.

Not only does it allow for an increased complexity in puzzles, but it forces you to work as a team. Now this may be easy when your friend is within punching distance, but it’s a lot harder online. Apart from the annoying possibility that the person on the other side is a 10-year old playing from his dad’s account, there is a problem with getting your ‘friend’ on the same wavelength as you. To help with this, you are able to place markers around the level or activate countdown timers. This comes in handy on the more difficult levels; and when your carefully devised plan works, it is very satisfying.

The online revolves a lot around Steam. It allows you to play PC players as well as PS3 ones, saves your games on its servers and gives you access to your Steam friends. While all this is a great addition to the game, it doesn’t make a game-changing difference.

Where a large difference has been made, however, is in the visuals. Even though the original was pretty good in terms of graphics, Portal 2 wastes no chance to show off its great visuals, capturing the quirky art-style of overgrown plants, cracks, falling machinery etc. in high detail. The soundtrack supplements all this well, while the voice acting is some of the best you’ll find in games.

I thought Valve would have a tough time making this something other than Portal with a bunch of different levels, but I was very wrong. Without having the player fire a single bullet, it has produced one of the best FPS’s to date.

Gears of War 3 Beta Hands-on

April 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Features, Spotlight, Xbox 360

I’ll start off by admitting that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Gears 2 multiplayer. It had the potential of being great fun, but it never fulfilled that potential for me. From a gameplay perspective it was brilliant, but while the poor match-making was annoying; the extreme host-advantage due to the p2p nature of the game made it unbearably frustrating.

I got the Gears 3 beta, expecting these issues to be resolved but at the same time not expecting too much from a beta. Before even an ounce of virtual blood had been spilled, I liked what I was seeing. The dedicated servers have made a massive difference, with connections being made quickly with the dreaded connection error a rarity. And once you’re in a game, you’ll seldom notice lag and the host advantage is eliminated.

The match-making was still a little iffy, mainly because the system treated the bots as equivalents to high ranked players; even though the bots were in reality, simply cannon fodder. This is a relatively minor issue though, and not exactly unexpected in a beta.

There’s also been chopping and changing going on with the game modes; Team Deathmatch features shared lives, while King of the Hill has you chasing after rings that appear randomly across the map and Capture the Leader is about hunting down a member of the other team who is relatively superpowered.

Another criticism of Gears 2 I had was that its maps were too similar, almost all of them with a central battle-zone and a side-corridor allowing flanking. While Gears 3 also has a couple of maps following the same formula, I feel that the overall level-design is much better and varied. Each map has super-weapons scattered around that can give your team a massive advantage.

Speaking of weapons, there are quite a few new toys to rip apart your opponents with. The lancer is now the retro-lancer with a knife instead of a chainsaw, the One Shot lets you vaporise enemies from afar, the Digger Lancer shoots underground rounds that can hit enemies behind cover and many more. Then there’s the sawed-off shotgun, a ridiculously overpowered weapon that will dismember anyone unfortunate enough to be within 2  meters with one shot. The developers must’ve tried to compensate for its tank-like power by giving it a water-gun-like range, two wrongs don’t make a right though; it’s a weapon that needs to be fixed fast.

The grenades have also been revamped; the ink grenade now stuns as well as poisons, grenades can explode on impact and the new incendiary grenade blows up into a devastating ball of flames. You’re allowed to change your weapons before respawning, a welcome addition.

Small changes in the gameplay have also been made here and there. The characters move with much more fluidity, the characteristic heaviness is still there but it’s much less cumbersome. Picking up ammo and reviving allies is done differently too, holding X picks up ammo while tapping X revives a friend. It should be the other way around though, as picking up ammo now leaves you vulnerable to being slaughtered.

The earn XP and gain unlockables system has also been implemented. You can unlock skins, weapon-skins, executions etc. None of this gives you an advantage in battle, but it does make the game more addictive. The new executions are brutal, and include beating someone to death with their own arm to melting their insides with a flame thrower. You can prolong many executions to make it twice as humiliating for the onlooking opponents.

Playing this game, one forgets that it is only a beta. Epic has done brilliantly to not only address the network issues that the predecessors suffered, but to improve upon the gameplay of an already great game. All this with 5 months of polishing still to go…

Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed

April 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

The lack of “Need for Speed” in the name of this game shows how far this it deviates from the original series. Starting off as a street racer with and arcade feel, now the game tries to make a name as a racing sim; facing stiff competition from heavyweights like Gran Turismo and Forza. While it’s predecessor was well received, Shift 2 still had a lot of ground to cover to match the level achieved by the others.

Since I’m already discussing the competition between Shift 2, GT and Forza; I’ll get straight to it, and talk about the most important aspect, the driving physics and gameplay. Some of you will breathe a sigh of relief, while some of you won’t be so happy when you read this; but the physics, even with the Elite mode, are not as precise or realistic as GT or Forza. There is still very much an arcadey feel to the game. Sometimes it is a bit too unrealistic for a game wanting to be acknowledged as a racing sim.

The cars feel a bit too light in many cases, and it feels like pushing a shopping trolley at times. Crashes have minimal affect on your car, and in some ways knocking cars off the track is encouraged. This has probably been done to appeal to a wider audience; and it achieves that, not being unrealistic enough to be called an arcade game while not doing enough to be called a racing sim either.

In terms of realism, something that Shift 2 does do well is the implementation of the in-helmet camera. The name is pretty much self-explanatory, and it behaves just like a driver would; rotating to view upcoming turns, getting jostled during crashes etc. Even though I’m someone who prefers to stay away from in-car views, I loved it and think that the others should take a leaf out of Shift 2′s book.

The career mode is nothing revolutionary; it’s the usual win races and unlock stuff though it does allow a degree of flexibility by letting you focus on your strengths if you’re finding a discipline difficult. It incorporates some RPG elements too; you gain points for not only winning races but for maintaining good lines, high speeds, drafting etc. Levelling up unlocks more stuff. Some might bemoan this as making the game even more arcadey but it rewards good driving, so it’s not as bad as it may sound.

Crysis 2 Review

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Spotlight, Xbox 360

Crysis will always be remembered as the game that brought PC’s to their knees with its technological demands, so much so that the first achievement one gets on Crysis 2 is ‘Can it run Crysis?’. However, Crysis 2, being multi-platform, restricts how far Crytek can go in terms of graphics, so there will have to be a greater emphasis on game-play.

As soon as you start the game, the differences between Crysis 2 and its predecessor will be very evident. While Crysis was set in a lush jungle, Crysis 2 takes us to New York city under the siege of an alien race. You take control of Alcatraz, who is entrusted with the Nanosuit to fend off the alien invasion. There are a couple of twists along the way, but the plot is typical of what’s found in most FPS games these days.

The game-play revolves a lot around the Nanosuit and its abilities, which include invisibility, armour, power-jumps, sprints etc. The suit also gives you a lot of info on your surroundings, and mastering it is key if you want any kind of success in the game. However it also has a few flaws, the most annoying one being that it allows you to almost cheat your way through the game, invisibility helps you avoid a lot of the difficult battles for example.

Speaking of flaws, another glaring issue with the game is its AI. There will be occasions when an enemy within touching distance will not see you, but there will be just as many occasions when someone at the other side of the level will somehow spot you and ruin the stealthy progress you’ve made. That’s nothing compared to seeing enemies and your allies happily standing next to each other, or enemies who are oblivious to your bullets. All this is frustrating during the first hour or so, but is unnoticeable once the real action begins.

The bland beginning does become exciting quickly, and the true quality of the game begins to shine through. Due to great level design the battles, against enemies ranging from the slow and heavy to ones who use ledges to attack from above, never have the scripted feel that you get from many other games. The firefights develop differently each time you re-play them, and occasionally the AI can actually be intelligent.

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