Category: 360

Deadpool review

Deadpool               GmP Gaming   image logo 1Sling your web Spiderman and go sharpen your claws elsewhere Wolverine, Deadpool smashes into view with all the finesse as any of the crass anti-hero’s one liners in this comic book caper turned videogame. But is this to be just another case of a hastily developed movie cross over cash-cow, or has Deadpool got what it takes to turn itself into a main starring role from best supporting actor? Let’s discover all in the latest GamesMediaPro review.

For those games not up to speed on their superhero’s, or getting the lowdown on the latest anime, then lets just explain the personae behind the blockbuster as we announce ‘Deadpool’ to the uninitiated. If you have seen the Hugh Jackman movie marvel that is ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ then no doubt you will already have come across the man behind the mask, and may even recognise him from his original moniker of ‘Weapon X’?  If you haven’t seen any of the X-Men spin-off’s, or read the myriad of accompanying comic book’s, then nothing but a short history of the motor mouth character will suffice.

Wade Wilson was the wise-cracking wag who, as portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie anyway, was a duel katana wielding sociopath with a tongue that spat obscenities almost as fast as his blades could slice an enemy into Sushi. Part of the original strike team put together by US army Major William Stryker who is looking into the possibility of utilising the varied talents of mutants, before ultimately having the misguided notion of extracting the DNA from each of the most desirable specimens, such as Logan’s ability to regenerate, the now you see me, now you don’t teleportation talent of John ‘Kestrel’ Wraith, as well as a dazzling array of lethal attributes from the entire team assembled by the shadowy Stryker.

It is because of Stryker’s almost dogged pursuance of the ‘ultimate soldier’ that he begins to use the harvested DNA from captured mutants in the vain attempt at encasing all of the combined powers in one ‘vessel’.  Naturally the road to success is littered with the corpses of failed experiments, and it is not until the regenerative abilities of Logan/Wolverine are added to the ‘genetic soup’ that the misguided major is able to finally harness the all of the assembled mutated DNA at the tenth attempt, hence the original title for Wade’s character: Weapon ‘X’.  This blending of the blood is what grants Deadpool not only the donor mutants powers, but that his benefactors have also passed along to him their mother tongues making Deadpool multilingual in not just English but Spanish, German and even Japanese.

Deadpool               GmP Gaming   image 2Running alongside the ” Merc with a Mouth’s ” amazing skills come his honed harbingers of doom: The twinset of deadly katana’s with which our reluctant hero brings the pain to friend and foe alike, depending entirely, of course, upon just who is picking up his pay cheque for that particular job? But it’s not just with his duel wielded swords that Deadpool comes equipped, as the masked merc also comes with an attractive arsenal of available weaponry. ‘Our hero’ is able to take advantage of spectacularly accurate firearms handling, supplied in an endless display of varying ordnance by his magical satchel of infinite ammo, as well being second to none with  his feet and fists.

Of course, this background is mainly depictive of the comic book version of Deadpool and, as with other super hero and anime characters from other cartoons and movies, when taken across to the videogame format there is inevitably some of the process lost in translation, if you will. However, that being said, the developers at High Moon Studio’s have done a sterling job at bringing Deadpool to life in a digital world that see’s our motor mouth action hero sticking firmly to the facts and looking more like his comic book counterpart than a great deal of his caped kin.

With that we join up with our crass crusader as he enjoys a relaxing period of R&R in his hometown hovel…erm,  rather lets just call it his ‘apartment’. In a brief introduction to not only Deadpool’s juvenile humour bur also the control format which will form the basis of your entire play through, gamers will get to take the ‘Caped Calamity’ around his ‘nerve centre’ in a brief whistle-stop tour of button presses and command prompts as the developer gives you some comic moments to help you get through this videogaming staple.

So, snigger-fest completed we now move on to the opening mission in this ‘Tart with a Heart’ tale of the Motormouth Superhero as he takes on Dr Sinister in his quest to get High Moon Studio’s to make a game of his exploits. Art imitating art imitating videogames, then?  Or something a little more deep and transcending, although let’s be honest here, this is Deadpool, so lets just ease up on the ‘deep and meaningful’, shall we? Instead why don’t we just run with what the character and the developer really love about this game, and themselves, and that is…well, ‘themselves’.

Deadpool               GmP Gaming   image 3Shameless name-dropping, blatant product placement gone postal, and outright bare-faced cheek are the order of the day, and if this was any other character but Deadpool then, no doubt, we would be ripping the masked megalomaniac a new one. But this ‘is’ Deadpool, and because it is him both he, and High Moon Studio’s manage to pull of the self adulation and adoration with some aplomb.

Gameplay-wise, because lets face it Deadpool isn’t exactly setting the bar for hack and slash styled beat’em up’s of the future, but what it does do, it still does very well. Fast, slick and highly acrobatic, the action in Deadpool comes at players thick and fast once the initial tutorial section has been mastered. Equipped with an absolute arsenal of armaments that range from the standard issue sword right through to the more murderous, and somehow strangely satisfying pistols, Deadpool is more than capable of standing up to even the more powerful of foes as he slices and dices his way through the hugely entertaining storyline.

One thing that has to be mentioned is the tongue-in-cheek humour that permeates from every frame in this laugh out loud title that is packed with wall-to-wall nods to fellow superheroes such as Wolverine, Batman and many more besides. The question does remain, however, if Deadpool is, in fact, a title that is suitable for younger children, and given its dubious references to drug-taking, sexual innuendo and over-the-top comic book brutality one has to say, ‘probably not’. Although, that’s not to say that Deadpool is strictly an ‘Adults Only’ affair should your teenage son or daughter have a hankering for some full on mayhem with cheeky wit as an optional side dish.

Ground-breaking it may not be, but Deadpool is still one of the best action titles from the entire sub-genre of superhero fighting games, and one that should not be overlooked by any fan’s and devotee’s of the animated sub-culture. Deadpool is a sterling example of just what can actually be achieved if developers do not try to rush out a related movie-cum-videogame-cum-crossover title just to cash in on a related flick currently wow’ing audiences at the box office. Here’s hoping that is a lesson that is learned by the myriad of other studio’s currently tinkering with their own caped crusader homage.

number-7-pool-ballAll told Deadpool is a solid hack and slash title with a good measure of action styled beat’em up gameplay thrown into the melting pot to spice up the proceedings.  The graphics are more than adequate, and the gameplay keeps the madcap storyline of narcissistic overtones running smoother than the costumed ones hooded ‘dome’. One-liners litter the tale like confetti, and Deadpool is all the more entertaining because of it. A fantastic romp and one that will, hopefully, rightfully earn the developer a sequel for this crazy crime fighter/  Deadpool scores a truly worthy 7 out of 10.

 

Developer:                  High Moon Studio’s

Publisher:                   Activision

Version Tested:         Xbox360

Pegi Rating:               M for Mature

Price:                           Gameseek                     £35.70   ( Xbox360 )                 £30.70           ( PS3 )

Rating:                         7 out of 10

Grand Theft Auto V review

GTA V            GmP Gaming                 coverart 1It’s finally here. Turn off the cat, unplug the dog, put the wife and kids out and attach intravenous fluids and a catheter…you may be staying for some time. Grand Theft Auto is back. And much like the humour in another controversial cartoon caper its ‘bigger, longer and most definitely uncut’.

Regardless of what you think of the ‘Marmite’ that is Rockstar Games open-world title, the fact of the matter is that no other videogame in the history of the entertainment industry has ever caused such outright loathing and hatred, whilst at the same time producing such elated sensations of joyful lust and admiration. On the one hand you have the fan’s of the GTA franchise: pro-‘right to play’, and dogged in their defence of the all-action title. But, there are also those encamped on the opposite side of the battle lines of no man’s land that vehemently despise everything that this series has come to represent. Where do GmP stand on the subject? Which camp do we plant our flag in? Read on, good GmP gamers, and decide for yourselves at the end of this in-depth review.

Never one to shy away from publicity, be it negative or positive, Grand Theft Auto V launched amidst a blaze of hype and high-expectations on September 17th, 2013 to a flurry of the now somewhat predictable knee-jerk reactions from the more morally  ‘superior’ types around the globe, who, rather oddly, still feel that it is perfectly fine for teenagers to murder and maim in the name of corporate entities looking after shareholders and private individuals interests, just as long as they don’t earn points doing so in a videogame.  So, it’s  all well and good for your children to trot off to war for oil, gold, diamonds or religion, and pretty much anything else that the ruling elite currently have their heart set on, just as long as they don’t do it in cyberspace with avatars. How very decent of them.

Of course, the haters don’t stop there. Citing everything and anything in their bitter insults regarding Rockstar’s latest game, up to and including misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, anti-establishment anarchism, the Black Death, the Spanish Inquisition, Rabies, Chicken Pox and even quickscopers and campers in Call of Duty, or so it would seem. Such is the level of ridiculous abuse heaped upon the GTA franchise, as a whole,  by the bigoted legions of conservative ‘Holier Than Thou’ types and bleeding-heart liberals from Tyneside to Timbuktu.

It may come as no surprise, then, that whenever a new release Grand Theft Auto title hits the shelves that there is, oddly enough, an influx of ‘news reports’ making headlines around the World that all indicate the sudden upsurge in ‘copy cat’ styled videogame inspired crime waves. In England alone there were no less than four ‘headlines’ in as many days all about gaming related criminal activities. The fact that this is utter and complete nonsense, however, has never got in the way of a good story to your everyday run-of-the-mill tabloid hack., and so with that in mind the ‘furore’ around GTA V will continue to ire Guardian and Daily Mail readers right across Middle England until such time as a new ‘immigration crisis’ distracts their attention back to the natural enemies.

GTA V                  GmP Gaming    image 15Meanwhile, back in the world of the sane, GTA V continues to run rampant across both the Xbox360 and PlayStation 3 formats, especially as of October 2nd, 2013 when the online portion, ( the reason why this review was delayed until today for publication ), was launched. So, ever onward then in this review of the videogaming industry’s latest and greatest open-world extravaganza, ( minus personal opinions regarding morality ).

Irrespective of your position in relation to to the hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, one thing has to be universally accepted by any gamer who has spent any time at all racing or running around the highways and byways of Los Santos, Blaine County, and that is that Rockstar Games have created a truly remarkable piece of interactive epicness.

The sheer magnitude of the undertaking is, quite frankly, more than likely to be lost on anyone other than more ‘in the know’ gamer with a rudimentary understanding of just what it takes to build a ‘world’ with such vast rich environments packed to the proverbial gunwale’s with diversity and content.  No small thing, in its own right, is the incomprehensible scale of this latest GTA venture with its highly detailed and painstakingly created graphical presentation, where players can literally just stand in open-mouthed amazement at this mammoth realm with its living colour vibrancy.  We can think of no other title, from any developer up to and including Rockstar Games themselves, who have managed to create a world so intensively and comprehensively realistic.

Rockstar have always been the trendsetters as opposed to the ‘dedicated followers of fashion’ like many of their rival studio’s, and Grand Theft Auto V, even on the recently launched current generation hardware,  has proven that, once again, this band of dedicated developers are just a cut above the rest when it comes to the open world environments.

Head and shoulders above the competition in everything from gameplay to graphics, storyline to character creation, GTA V has stepped into the ring carrying the belt of the heavyweight champion of the world before the first round bell has even sounded, but is this game the knockout blow to its rivals that many have already proclaimed it to be, or is it just more of the same, but with added razzamatazz and a new soundtrack for the grand entrance….well, to be fair, it is probably a little of one, and a huge hulking great chunk of another.

Grand Theft Auto V ‘is’ worthy of the high praise and adulation that many other websites, cyberzines and publications are already proclaiming it to be, but there are more than a couple of issues that we experienced with Rockstar’s masterpiece.

GTA V                  GmP Gaming    image 14First off we have to admit that we thoroughly enjoyed every moment that we spent inside the world of Los Santos, in any one of the three main characters of Franklin, Michael or the psychotic Trevor. But if some of you out there are having one of those Matrix-style ‘black cat’ moments of Deja Vu, then we have to say that we wholeheartedly have to agree with you on that one.

As players set out on their GTA V saga the game opens with  retrospective look back at the life of one of the games prime anti-hero’s: ‘Michael’, as players get to grips with the opening tutorial mission. In a nice touch Rockstar has granted the player a back story insight into the former criminal career of Michael as he takes part in a robbery with two friends. This allows players to get to grips quickly with the game’s control set up right from the word go, whilst at the same time shedding some light on the former lifestyle choice of one of GTA V’s interactive trio of playable characters.

All is going swimmingly at first, with players getting to learn the subtleties of the targeting system, weapons handling and movement and mantelling, thanks to the introductory levels’ fast pace and balls out action. However, just when you feel that you have the controls mastered, and just when you see light at the end of the tunnel along comes Officer Dibble to take a giant leak on your current bonfire and throw your best laid plans right out of the nearest window.

So, one quick bank robbery gone wrong later and you suddenly find yourself in a death or glory shoot out with the local rozzers before tearing off headlong down the nearest highway in a recently *ahem* ‘borrowed’ vehicle from a passing member of the public. Cue much gunfire, screeching of tyres and one spectacular car crash later our ‘hero’, Michael, now finds himself out on foot and having to once again fight for his life, and the life of his injured partner in crime, as he defends his position from a rapidly encroaching flurry of fuzz. Naturally everything goes more than a little ‘Pete Tong’ and Michael is left solo looking for an escape route….cue the music, roll the titles…Grand Theft Auto is back, baby!

From these chaotic beginnings comes the greatest game of this entire generation, but let’s call a spade a spade here….its not just GTA that is back, but ‘Matrix Cat’ is also putting in more than the odd cameo or three.

Right from the off we are once again greeted with the said same mechanics of combat that were so finicky and sluggish during the last outing for the highly acclaimed series. The only difference this time around is that instead of fine tuning the control system to compensate for the reported sluggish feel of Grand Theft Auto 4, Rockstar have simply slid the slider to the other end of the scale with the result that your character now tends to run around  in circles or jump around like a jitterbug before ultimately settling on the direction that you intended for him to take in the first place.

GTA V-PS3                              GmP Gaming  Bundle  6On more than one occasion whilst simply trying to turn Michael to the left or right we were left with looks of bewilderment on our faces as he did a Rick Astley hip-shake before taking to his heels with PC Plod hot on said pedicured appendages. Of course, we put that down to merely getting to grips with the games’ new control format, but it has to be said that it never left us even when we had finished the solo campaign and idly sat twiddling our thumbs s we awaited the launch of todays GTA Online service. ( that issue, in itself, will be addressed later in the review ).

Next up we come to the games’ main storyline, that sprawling mission of massive magnificence that stretches out before the new player like a very stretchy thing. Why we had to return to, pretty much, the same damn street and near enough the same indentikit house as we lived in during our time inhabiting the body of ‘ CJ ‘ during the last outing to Los Santos with Rockstar North’s epic GTA San Andreas is, frankly, beyond us?

But whilst we are on the subject we will also ask why it was deemed necessary to alter the introduction so that we did not begin the game as Michael, but rather as Franklin, ( think CJ but with added ‘flava’ and a few more ‘bitch’s’ and ‘muthafucka’s’ in his vocabulary and you’ll get the picture ), this is something else that, we here at GmP, feel was something of a step backward as opposed to the more progressive move such as the one taken in GTA 4 with the new character and interesting plot change delivered up by the introduction of East-Euro War immigrant Niko Belic.

Franklin may well be a fun character to play, but in truth he offers up nothing new to the franchise, and instead comes across as little more than a crowd pleaser for the ‘would be’s and wannebee’s’ who litter online services chanting and chirruping stereotypical ‘urbanite’ curse words before invariably ending their rant with the predictabley tired ‘Bitch’ slogan. Franklin sums up this same feeling of ” here we go again ” whenever he opens his mouth to banter with friends or even chat with strangers. If anything it just gives the impression that Rockstar had run out of idea’s when it came to delivering up a criminal.

With that we then come to the two other main players of the piece: Trevor and Michael, who, to be perfectly honest with you, look more like Kane and Lynch on a diet of pasta and meatballs and spaghetti sauce ‘justa like Mamma used to make’. But unlike  the two Square Enix rogues, however, Rockstar have split up the talents of the terrible twosome, and instead allowed players to select either one, ( once they have been unlocked during the games main storyline ).

GTA V-PS3                              GmP Gaming  Bundle  2Michael, much like Franklin and Trevor, ticks all of the stereotypical boxes of the perceived misconceptions of an Italian-American ‘hood’. Everything from the way the guy walks and talks right down to the way he dresses comes straight out of the Soprano’s Big Book of Bad Men. But, then again, that is not to say that it doesn’t work, we just feel that rather than have yet another return to the land of the ghetto gangsta’ that Rockstar could well have just stayed with Michael as a solo story and the game would not have suffered a single blip for it. Of course, there is the added bonus of the games new ‘drop in/drop out’ mechanic which allows players to literally ‘Quantum Leap’ from one body to the next, often at the most inopportune moments. ( or opportune, depending on which way you want to look at it? ).

The all-new ‘leap’ feature has been much-lauded by the world’s gaming press, and rightfully so, it does bring a new dimension of interactivity and freedom to the gameplay, and it does add some truly golden moments of comedic brilliance. But, again, this is something that we feel could have worked just as well between Franklin and Trevor without the need to return to 2004 with gangsta-boy Franklin.  For shizzle.

Putting aside our gripes with the games move back to the land of the Los Santos gangbangers, we come now to the undoubted high point of any Grand Theft Auto title: the  gameplay.

Once again Rockstar have made their game a veritable treasure trove of bonus missions, extra content, mini-games, side missions, co-op quests and online multiplayer mayhem. The diversity of the tasks and available activities for each of the three main characters ranges wildly from taking part in drug wars and gangland slayings right through to the more modern day mundane of visiting psychiatrists to vent your emasculated frustration at your wife’s covert couplings with her tennis coach, as well as letting off steam about your brood of ingrate offspring that walk around in a state of constant teenage angst whilst all the while having their hands out for ever-increasing demands on your wallet.

Again, however, we do feel that in amongst this cracking collection of commotions and available mini-missions that there is a distinct lack of anything more than the mere titillating. Yes, there may well be a great deal to do, but leaping into a pair of whites and giving mid-life fist pumps because we won a point in a tennis match was not what we imagined  we would be doing when we anticipated the gameplay in Grand Theft Auto V.

Naturally, though, the predictable cookie-cutter races are there once again to satisfy the ‘boy racers’ of the world, but all in all the controls are not exactly your best friend when playing through any one of the night-time street wars, so much so that a F1 2013-esque ‘Rewind’ has been installed into the format, but instead of being able to scroll back to the moment just prior to your latest RTA, players are instead able to slow down time so that they may better control their erratic vehicle as you plough through stop signs and pedestrians with reckless abandonment.

GTA V-PS3                              GmP Gaming  Bundle  4Next we come to the games’ combat, and boy is there a lot of it! Players can put the smack down all around town, if that is their wont, and when it comes to doling out the beatings GTA V is not one to be found wanting by any stretch of the imagination. The new combat mechanics have been fine tweaked, but again thanks to the ‘flighty’ controls it does happen on more than one occasion that instead of attacking a target that you plant a haymaker right on the kisser of some random who just happens to be strolling by. Either that or you do a complete ‘air punch’ and end up spinning around like a dog chasing its tail as you flail wildly in all directions searching for your quarry.

Of course, the hand to hand combat segments pale into insignificance once you get your hands on your first ‘gat’, but again, when you do manage to whip out your weapon like some kind of digital Dirty Harry you will quickly notice the shadow of a passing Matrix cat off in the distance.  So, then, what’s the problem this time? Well, we will tell you shall we?

For those of you out there unfamiliar with Rockstar’s method of targeting in their GTA titles, and let’s face it, it is pretty much the same format right throughout their entire library, then all we have to say is that we hope you all have perfect 20-20 vision because the targeting reticule is so minute that more often than not you will just be squeezing off the trigger in a blind panic ‘spray and pray’ action, as opposed to genuinely aiming down the sights.

Just why Rockstar have not taken the time to correct this is just one more thing that is beyond us, as it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most annoying things in the entire gameplay. ( for us, at least ). The reticule that players must use as an aiming aid is little more than a tiny black dot that ‘apparently’ turns red when it is locked onto a target,. We say ‘apparently’ because the ‘dot’ is just so small that to spot the damned thing against anything other than a white or highly visible background is a painful affair that will undoubtedly leave players with that all too familiar rage quit sensation tingling down their spine.

In one of the game’s opening missions, and indeed the first mission for players as Michael, you are tasked with recovering your son and yacht from the evil clutches of a gang of thieves, who are currently making good their escape with said maritime model and morbid moaning progeny, down one of the cities many highways. During the ensuing chase scene Michael must control his car as well as target the ‘bad guys’ on the speeding trailer that is transporting his stolen vessel. All of this must take place within a set time frame and their must be no injuries to either Michael’s’ annoying son or newly acquired partner in crime, Franklin. Good luck with that.

If there is ‘genuinely’ someone out there who managed to accomplish this mission on their first, or even second or third outing, without either killing Michael in a head on collision with another speeding vehicle coming in the opposite direction, or murdering their own son with an inaccurate burst of automatic fire from their pistol, or better still, if they managed to avoid killing Franklin in any one of the myriad of teeth-gnashingly frustrating ways: such as the one that befell our foul-mouthed gangsta when he tumbled from the bonnet of our car and under the wheels of a following tanker truck, then all we can say is this:  you are a liar, sir!

GTA V-PS3                              GmP Gaming  Bundle  9Yes’, GTA V may well be an open-world marvel, and ‘yes’, GTA V may well be the most mesmerizing game we have had the thoroughly enjoyable pleasure of playing through this entire generation, but let’s not sprinkle glitter on a turd and call it a gold-plated iPhone, shall we? There ‘are’ issues, of that there is no doubt. But, and it is a Jennifer Lopez sized ‘butt’ with more ‘jelly in the trunk’ than a ram raider who has just sped away from the scene of his latest assault on a Rowntree’s factory, the reason that GTA V still scores so many ‘Perfect 10’s’ and high-ranking review percentages across the board, in comparison to other open-world games who commit similar errors in format, is a simple one:  Grand Theft Auto does so much other stuff so well that you simply gloss over and forgive the glaring issues that you may have with small niggles during your time spent playing it.  There is a lesson to be learned here by so many other developers.

Rockstar have managed to create a franchise where even the mediocre is heralded as ground-breaking: let’s face it, the mini-games are not ‘that’ innovative nor or they anything particularly new., and God bless’em for it. So they may have used a few area’s from previous titles and re-skinned them for GTA V? So what!  So they may have revisited previous story lines and even characters and locations in their crafting of this foray into a fantastical realm? So What!  So the game may have a few niggles with the handling and the targeting? So what!!  These are all small prices to pay for what is quite simply put the greatest game ever created to date, without exception.

There is even the glaringly shoddy detail of the fact that we couldn’t even review the game in its entirety because the multiplayer section of the game was not even ready for launch day, ( and we still do not understand how so many of the ‘so-called’ big websites managed to publish their own reviews when they could not have played the game through in all its modes ). Something that, lets be totally honest here, if this was a game like, say, Call of Duty would be absolutely berated by the world’s gaming press. The same said journalists who are positively gushing over Grand Theft Auto V would have held down a game like Ghosts and put its own Glock to the back of its neck whilst they put it our of its misery with a well placed Coup De Grace. But, because its GTA V? Oh no, this is something that is utterly acceptable, so much so that everyone from Gamespot to IGN, Videogamer.com to Now Gamer merely overlooked this omission from the format and instead concentrated on just how ‘awesome’ everything looked.

But, here’s the kicker….they were right to do so!

Grand Theft Auto V is a game that you ‘should’ take full advantage of during the first weeks following its launch as you soak up all that this masterclass of videogame design and development has to offer for you in the solo campaign. The multiplayer, correctly, is viewed as little more than an added bonus for those people looking to continue their unbridled admiration for this masterful title.

Grand Theft Auto Online has now launched, and it has again exceeded all expectations, ( if that is even possible considering that this is a game that has now netted the developer well in excess of a truly staggering £1 billion ). With a community that is as hardcore as any on the planet GTA Online looks all set to be the surprise multiplayer smash hit of the year, and certainly has created a headache for the aforementioned Call of Duty and titles of its ilk such as Battlefield 4, as these games must now look to up their game considerably if they are to tempt away the many millions of players spending hour after gaming hour enjoying this multiplayer marvel.

When you add to all of this the added bonuses of the ever encroaching PC and next-gen versions, ( you just ‘know’ they are a-coming ), then it has to be said that whoever it was at Bioware this week who made the ridiculous claim that AAA budgets for the next-gen were unlikely, must now be feeling like an utter twunt as Rockstar Games once again break the mould and dictate the future for the videogame industry.  GTA V is ‘the’ benchmark title from which all future titles should take their business model, and from which all development teams should learn.  If you want your games to sell, and sell well, then make them enjoyable to play. It really is that simple.

GmP Editor ChoiceGrand Theft Auto V is the perfect example of this. When every other title is looking to trim the fat of their solo section as they chase that ever elusive multiplayer moolah,  Rockstar, once again,  show them all that the way to a gamers wallets is through their hearts as they deliver a true single player master piece that just happens to have a bonus mode that is multiplayer Heaven. Gamers are tired of being ‘told’ what they want and what is going to be the best for them in the future. Rockstar did the complete opposite and actually listened to their fans and to the videogaming community as a whole,and gave us all what we love over everything else, and that is a single player game that will make us feel like it was £45 well spent.  For that reason alone GTA V should get a glowing review score, but when you add on to that the simply fantastic online and the outstanding core gameplay all wrapped up in one perfect package…well, what other score could we possibly have given it?      10 out of 10    Editors Choice

 

Developer:                ROCKSTAR NORTH

Publisher:                 ROCKSTAR GAMES

Version Tested:        Xbox360

Rating:                       M ( mature )

Rating:                       10 out of 10

Price:                          £42.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Planet 3 review

Lost Planet 3                 GmP Gaming image boxart 1In a surprise move developer Spark Unlimited has gone all out and absolutely shredded the blueprint for Capcom’s Lost Planet with their own interpretation of the sci-fi  universe. Fresh as a daisy, albeit an iced over one, this is one title that will have players the World over constantly reaching across to check and double-check the box art to confirm that the game they are playing through is, in fact, Lost Planet 3 and not some entirely new IP altogether.

The decision to farm out failing franchise Lost Planet to an American studio, as opposed to the former ‘in house’ teams at Capcom themselves, was quite a bold move. Especially after considering that with said studio’s track record being far from anything but glittering with such howlers in their back catalogue as our own personal favourite for the worst game of the entire generation ( Turning Point Fall of Liberty ), then fans of the former Capcom flagship were understandably worried about the games future as a AAA title.

So, then, fast forwarding to the games’ launch and we now come to the proof of the pudding, so to speak, as we install our copy of the game to the Xbox360 and put the latest offering from Legendary developers, Spark Unlimited to the test. Was the fear surrounding the choice of studio unfounded? Was the decision to follow up the less than successful second offering in the Lost Planet series with yet another ‘change of direction’ for the format going to be the final nail in the coffin? Well, that is just what we are here to find out. Let’s strap into the driving seat of our hulking ‘mech’ and stride out once more across the frozen tundra’s of E.D.N in our Lost Planet 3 review.

The latest outing for Lost Planet fans still see’s the game take place on E.D.N III, just like the first and second games, but rather than returning to the already established outpost at Coronis, players now find themselves leaping into the working man’s boots of one Jim Peyton, a contractor who has grasped the opportunity to be amongst the first humans to push back the frontiers of E.D.N. III, whilst at the same time making huge great wads of cash to send  home to his wife and child.  Peyton is employed by none other than, insert ‘dan  dan da-a-an’ revelatory sound bite here, NEVEC (the Neo-Venus Construction Company). These are the same bunch of…ahem, ‘guys’  who have been the main antagonists throughout the entire Lost Planet series, so this snippet of info must point to a time frame that reveals this latest title being a prequel to even the original Lost Planet. Although it has to be noted that at this point in the past, however, they appear relatively innocent enough, even with the eyebrow-raising voice messages and files that our hero finds littering the zones as he progresses throughout the game which eventually uncover a far more sinister undertone.

Lost Planet 3                 GmP Gaming image 1In stark contrast to previous titles in the series,  Lost Planet 3 concentrates its efforts not on all out mecha-combat and action by the barrel load, but instead opts for a far more sedentary pace which allows the player to gain much more focus on plot and dialogue, as well as exploration and character customization and upgrades, than ever before. This may appease die-hard fan’s, although unlikely, but the more realistic scenario for the Spark Unlimited version of events is that it may well appeal to an entirely new audience of players who have no previous experience of the E.D.N. III home world. But considering how the franchise has suffered a somewhat torrid time of it from its fans in recent memory, maybe that is what was required, and what Capcom was going for with the new direction in studio and format all along?

Graphically Lost Planet 3 is a far finer affair than previous titles, even the prettily polished Capcom second outing pales in comparison, but then that is no great surprise when you consider the leaps and bounds made technologically since the launch of the first two titles in the series. The in-game play is smooth and highly crafted with no issues of screen tearing or lag throughout the entire first or second play-through’s, even in some of the more challenging moments when there are a multitude of carnivorous plants all looking to feast on man flesh.

The combat is a sweet blend of futuristic weaponry married with a current day styled firearms mix that works extremely well thanks in no small part to the easy to operate control set up, and that more than responsive targeting system. As third-person shooters go Lost Planet 3 is a cut above even some of its more accepted rivals that operate a more military styled system, such as Socom and even Gears of War. In third-person titles it always feels like you are constantly having to play catch-up with your quarry, and that rather than just turning left or right to face and fire upon your target that you almost ‘side step’ and fire from the hip like some  kind of space cowboy, as opposed to feeling like your character has shouldered his weapon correctly and brought the sights to bear on your enemy before letting loose an accurately positioned volley of shots. Thankfully, however, Lost Planet 3 does not respond in much the same manner, but rather your character sweeps round quickly to confront your enemies. This is very likely down to developer Spark Unlimited’s background with their most successful project: Call of Duty Finest Hour, but whatever it is we commend and congratulate them for a job well done in the combat system.

The hardware on offer to Peyton varies from small arms weapons such as his unlimited ammo sidearm, right up to bolt-action rifles, shotguns and assault rifles. Of course, the mech suit is there, but this has been reduced to little more than a mode of transport for players to traverse the harsh terrain of E.D.N III, and not as a previous title option of a ‘battle droid’.

Lost Planet 3                 GmP Gaming image 3Thus we come to one of the games most debated points: The Mech’s.  Fan’s of the original game are up in arms over this reduction in the suits functions as a fully armed ‘war bot’, but it is justified? If players took the time to investigate and pay attention to the story of the latest Lost Planet then maybe they would pick up on some of the finer points subtlety hinted at throughout the games’ dialogue with NPC’s such as Peyton’s quartermaster and technical ‘go to guy’, and generally all round mechanic/armourer/chief pot and bottle washer ‘Gale’.  ( yes, it is a girl’s name, but please pay attention to the spelling as opposed to the pronunciation. This is ‘Gale’, as in a strong blast of wind leading to a hurricane, in comparison to ‘Gayle’, the popular name for female offspring ).  But then, maybe this is one of those area’s in gaming that has shown its true colours in recent year with the small minority of more vocal types in a titles fanbase shouting louder and longer than other more, shall we say, ‘stable’ gamers.  A perfect example of such nonsense would be the latest furore from the Call of Duty ‘fans’ who spat such foul venom and filth at developers Treyarch over nothing more than an in-game patch.

So, is it just a case, then, that the voices we are hearing louder than others in their detraction of Lost planet 3’s new format are little more than the dissenting minority? Well, yes and no. There is some truth to the fact that fans of the original game are a bit more than peeved at Capcom’s pull away from what they were expecting to see in the latest excursion to E.D.N.  III, but in the same sentence it must be pointed out that this is a far better game than most of those fans will ever give it credit for, and so because they didn’t get their own way they will spread their propaganda against Spark’s title across every social media forum and Youtube, for example, making it seem that legions of fans were disappointed in the game, when nothing could be further from the truth as most players are actually quite enamoured wit the new format and game play style.

Yes, the mech has been removed almost fully from the game as a combat tool, but when you follow the story in-depth and ‘listen’ to the conversations between Peyton and mechanic/armourer Gale, or any one of the NPC’s from rival at work ‘ ‘ and base commander ‘ ‘, then you will soon cherry pick snippets and sound bytes that indicate that particular style of ‘Arma Mech’ has not yet been constructed and that the mech’s we see in Lost Planet 3 are exactly what they were supposed to be in little more than transport tools for the miners and explorers of off world planets to get around inhospitable environments with. There is even one conversation in the games cut scenes where the topic of munitions and extra firepower being added to the company bots is debated, but then again, when are fanboys ever to be found guilty of paying attention to anything so tedious as ‘facts’.?

Lost Planet 3                 GmP Gaming image 1Do as we do, on this game at least, good readers, and pay no attention to ranting Youtuber’s who, at the end of the day, are going to dump on everything and anything from a great height because that is what brings in the viewers and repeat hits for that Youtube cheque, as both sides return to condemn and defend their titles whilst the trolls sit back and watch the cash pour in.  Be aware of this fact, and only visit neutral and non-syndicated channels for honest video reviews and reporting. Hell, while we are on the subject, just pay close attention to the same format of courting controversy for cash in even some of the biggest videogaming websites.  ( positive reviewing just doesn’t get the viewing figures of taking a giant dookie on everyone and everything )

Okay, back to E.D.N.  III with us. Players will also notice how there is now a greater customization and ‘levelling up’ system put in place, that means that you should get out there and earn as much of that precious XP as possible before advancing too far into unexplored regions for fear of stepping into a hornets nest of fire-spitting foes or hungry herbs looking to harvest humans for lunch.  This can be achieved in any number of ways, killing the aforementioned plant life with extreme prejudice being the main and most obvious one, but there are also the more every day tasks and chores that a ‘space miner’ would have to undertake to contemplate. These can be mining ores, searching out lost pieces of machinery, uncovering rich new veins of the much sought after ‘Thermal Energy’, which has replaced actual cash and credits to become the currency of E.D.N III.

With this format in place,  Lost Planet 3, has taken on an almost RPG style of game play, and truth be told it hasn’t suffered for it. More over it would seem, judging by the first weeks sales figures anyway, that gamers looking for a worthy alternative to the plethora of third and first-person shooter clones currently plastered all across retail shelves, that the game has been ‘preferred’ in this guise of a slower more thoughtful title, rather than  a madcap linear styled shooter that just has you running from objective to objective killing bad guys, reaching a checkpoint and then rinsing and repeating until the end credits begin to roll.

Of course, the crazy Japanese monsters and enemies all make a welcome return to the Lost Planet fold, so expect to see some truly epic boss fights and crazy seat of your pants action when you are facing down a horde. But. lets face it. It wouldn’t be a Japanese styled science fiction shooter at all without some mammoth monster with four heads, eight tentacles and breathing acid if it wasn’t, now would it.

One such nod to more traditional Japanese RPG styled formats has to be the new way that your character can interact and converse with NPC’s to uncover XP earning side quests and mini-missions. These all play a vital role in the upgrading of your character, as well as, more often that not, providing hints to the sinister under current that sweeps beneath the feet of Peyton with every step he takes on E.D.N.  III.

There is a multiplayer, with four modes of varying involvement from the 5×5 all out warfare and Team Deathmatch, to the more objective based Scenario, where players will face off on opposite teams with one side attempting to plant bombs and the other trying to prevent said bombs from exploding. Players also get a second objective based mode with the excellent Extraction: this see’s the opposing players fighting to get their hands on as much thermal energy as they can before the ‘extraction’, the winner is based on ore mined.

But, it has to be said the jewel in the Lost Planet 3 crown just has to be the outstanding, and totally addictive ‘Akrid Survival’ , ( not ‘addicting’  please do not quote this review using the word ‘addicting’.  Just a pet peeve…carry on!  Ed. ). Players are thrown into wave upon murderous wave of Akrids as they battle with ever depleting ammunition to reach the check point of a body count reaching zero before that dreaded ‘Dead Mans Click’ confirms their greatest fear and they suddenly find what its like to become the organic equivalent of ‘Baby Bio’ as a five foot plant comes over and bites their head off!  Mental as anything and totally and utterly brilliant!

But this sums up Lost planet 3 in a paragraph, really. There is something for everyone, whether they be fans new or old, whether they be 14 or 64. This sci-fi franchise may just have been given the digital version of life-saving CPR by Sparks Unlimited, and in turn, the developer may well have just restored their reputation after a couple of stinkers.

number-8-pool-ballLost Planet 3 is a very good game, maybe not Game of the Year, but it is still a very entertaining and very good game, all the same. With a deeply involving storyline that will see players spending a good 30+ hours, should they play on a tougher difficulty and try to grab everything and every achievement on offer. The replay factor is also there, thanks to the thoroughly enjoyable multiplayer. Yes the format has changed, yes this is a time before the mech’s carry guns, get over it.  If sitting in a mech suit and grabbing bad guys by the throat is what defines a great game for you, then good news…buy yourself a Ps2 and go grab a copy of that shocker Aliens and knock yourself out.  Lost Planet 3 is has far more to offer than merely mech combat., and we highly recommend that you nip on over to your local UK retailer and purchase your copy to show your appreciation to the developers and publishers now!  Lost Planet 3 scores a worthy 8 out of 10

 

Developer:                Sparks Unlimited

Publisher:                 Capcom

Version Tested:       Xbox360 

Score:                         8 out of 10 

 

 

 

 

 

Splinter Cell Blacklist review

Splinter Cell Blacklist       GmP GamingSam Fisher returns to give a towering performance in the latest title from the best-selling Splinter Cell series. Silent but Deadly never looked so good as the stealthiest operative in videogaming takes on the ‘Engineers’ in Blacklist.

Three long years in the making and packed with more heart-pounding moments than a James Cameron blockbuster, Ubisoft Toronto throws a flashbang into the psyche of gamers the World over as they burst through the locked door of the UK games chart and clear away the competition with a well-timed cacophony of silenced shots to their collective heads, before stealthily ascending the stairs of the Top Ten and rightfully claiming the Number One spot.

Splinter Cell ‘is’ back, and boy oh boy! Does it ever look and play absolutely fan-friggin’-tastic!

Packed to the gunwale’s with more content than you could waggle a Playstation Move controller at, both refreshing loyal to the Splinter Cell traditions whilst at the same time adding more than a mere soupcon of ingenuity and invention with some of the more spectacular new additions to this first-rate franchise, Splinter Cell Blacklist has exploded onto the videogaming scene like a veritable H-Bob as it blows away its rivals and leaves nothing standing save itself and the games legions of devoted fans.

Whether you are a complete novice to the many unquestionable delights contained within any one of the Ubisoft Splinter Cell games which, as the original 2002 title so rightly declared, ‘Redfined Stealth Action’. Or if you a staunch veteran of the series who has been with Ubisoft from the word go, enjoying title after top-notch title with likes of the supremely entertaining ‘Pandora Tomorrow’, or the simply magnificent ‘Double Agent’  right through to the most recent stellar offering of ‘Conviction’, ( and everything else in between ), one thing is assured when delving into the massive guilty pleasures contained within any and all of these genre-defining titles, and that, good readers, is a stealth action shooter experience that may have been imitated and duplicated many, many times over, but never, ever has it been bettered.

It is with a happy heart, then, that we are able to bring you the full review of the latest Splinter Cell title safe in the knowledge that any fears of tampering or tinkering with a format admired and adored by gamers around the globe has, not including new and welcome additions to the gameplay, been left untouched and unspoiled by developers hands.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 3Blacklist is a ‘Tour de Force’ by any rational players estimations, but when you consider the amount of sequels of much-loved franchises that have left gamers around the World groaning into their hands and reaching for the ‘eject’ button as their shake their frustrated heads in unison at some truly unfathomable decisions by studio’s and story tellers, it makes the admiration for Ubisoft Toronto grow in stature as you tip your cap in respect to the team behind Blacklist who stuck to their guns, and the games’ stealth driven background, as opposed to following the tired examples of every other game developer in recent memory as they try to turn their own titles into some kind of Call of Duty multiplaying cash-cow clone.

Splinter Cell Blacklist enters into the fight for freedom with very big boots to fill after the rip-roaring success of its predecessor, ‘Conviction’, but, after sampling all that is on offer to players in only the opening tutorial mission, it is plain for all to see that even this early on into the game that the outcome never really looked in any doubt.

First off we will explain that we reviewed Blacklist on the Xbox360, and in that regard it was necessary, although not mandatory, to install a ‘textures pack’ by means of an additional second disc. Does it make it difference? Is it any great hinderance, or hassle? Not in the slightest. But just to point something out to any possible detractors we would only say that in this day and age if you are not already in the habit of installing every title you purchase directly into the console HDD, then why not? This is something that should become as second nature as reaching for your controller as you settle in for a gaming session of any length of time.  Failure to do so may lead to early termination of your units lifespan. Upon installation of both discs it is now time to prepare yourself for the most entertaining stealth action to be found anywhere in the videogame industry. Bar none!

Following on from the explosive events which occurred in the previous title, Conviction, the elite operative team of Third Echelon has since been disbanded by President Caldwell. The now defunct unit, however, has other idea’s in mind rather than retirement as they morph into the shadowy counter-terrorist unit we now know as Fourth Echelon. Taking orders directly from the Commander-in-Chief, who is granted that wonderful term of ‘deniable plausibility’ thanks to his seeming destruction of the previous covert unit,  this small band of dedicated special forces operatives is the only thing which stands in the way of a new series of devastating terrorist attacks aimed directly at the US by a mysterious group who call themselves ‘The Engineers’. It is now up to ‘you’, as Sam Fisher, to step in and put a stop the Engineers before they can carry out their plan of concerted attacks on American citizens and personnel around the globe.

The Engineers have drawn up a scheme to cause as much pain and confusion to the US as is Humanly possible, and whoever so’s name appears on their database is in for a torrid time of it unless Sam Fisher and his crew of dedicated ant-terrorist agents can put at end to their scheming. But first, they need to know who is being targeted. Now that the story is set and you have an outline of the mammoth task in front of you, its time to don that black ‘tac suit’ and grab your night vision goggles as we get deep down and dirty with the ‘Boys from the Blacklist’.

Tom Clancys Splinter Cell       Stealth Action Redfined GmP GamingSplinter Cell has, historically, always been a very strong title graphically, regardless of the generation of hardware its games have been designed for. Ubisoft Montreal has always maintained an immensely high standard for the Tom Clancy inspired titles, and Blacklist is no exception to this traditional rule of thumb. Whether or not you chose to install the additional content on the textures disc is, at the end of the day, up to you, but even if you don’t then it is plain for all to see that the Splinter Cell franchise is clearly a labour of love for the talented team of men and women that make up the Canadian branch of the gaming industry giant.

Naturally the game looks even more polished in its full twin disc version than its un-textured sibling, if such as thing is possible, but for those players lucky enough to be enjoying the Ubisoft flagship on an HD TV, then all we can say is be prepared for some jaw-dropping visuals with some truly incredible clarity. For the purpose of all of our GmP reviews we conduct said play tests on a Samsung 7 series and we have to say that it is when you witness all that the ‘Montrealers’ have devised for your digital delectation then it is more than likely that a balaclava may be needed to be support your jaw during play to combat the amount of times your gaping jaw will dangle loosely on its hinges as you stare almost incredulously at the stunning images on your screen.

Crystal clear and with lines so defined you sometimes forget that what you are actually in control of is a digital representation of a Human, as opposed to being in command of a fully functioning undercover agent, Blacklist simply outperforms any other stealth title of this or any other generation of videogame. The entire production just oozes quality from every artificially created pore, and the gameplay is silky smooth not only throughout the entire Solo campaign, but also during the many alternative modes on offer to players such as the outstanding Co-oP and Merc -Vs- Spy sections.

Now to the ‘meat of the main course’ after the appetizer of the sublime visuals. After an amazing initial reception at E3 2012 many fan’s of the Splinter Cell series of games were worried that the game was making too many moves away from the core gameplay that has been the backbone of the franchises undoubted success, often citing such things as the emphasis on more open gun play in ‘Conviction’. These fears, however, we can certainly allay as we guarantee to you all here and now that if what you wanted to see was Ubisoft return Sam Fisher to his stealthy best, then you will in no way be disappointed by the outright covert atmosphere that resonates from the entire Blacklist plot and gameplay.

Don’t get us wrong, if you want to enter into the missions, scenario’s and situations like some kind of Call of Doody fanboy, or a Battlefield ‘hero’ then by all means be our guest. Just don’t come crying to us in the comment section and on Twitter asking why you suddenly find yourself out of ammo and gadgets and surrounded by lethal enemies after taking only two steps away from your opening check point. If open warfare and all guns blazing is what you are looking for from Ubiosft then we highly recommend that you do as we all do here at GmP, and that is count the days feverishly as we stare longingly at our office calendar in the hope of one day counting down to the next Rainbow Six launch.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 10Blacklist is not, repeat ‘is not’ that kind of game in the slightest. You wanted stealth? You wanted subterfuge, underhanded, dirty tricks and gadgets and gizmo’s that would leave Q Branch looking little more than Dixon’s on a Bank Holiday bargain basement sale, then prepare yourself as Ubisoft deliver in spades your wish list.  Blacklist is so much more than a mere twitch shooter clone.  This is a game that could have been released at any given moment in Splinter Cell history and had its fans stand up in a rapturous ovation as they chant in unison, their pointing fingers of scorn aimed firmly at devotee’s of titles such as Hitman, even, whilst treating them to a football terrace-like chorus of “We are top of the league” and “you’re shit and you know you are!”

But what’s more, they would be right! Blacklist could well have been called ‘Back to basics…er, ‘list’ and it would have hit the nail so squarely on its head that said nail would need immediate cranial surgery for massive blunt force trauma to the skull and a bleed on the brain. Nothing that we have seen from any stealth based title this entire generation has come even close to Blacklist for the masterly blend of stunning graphics and simply scintillating gameplay. It is, quite frankly, head and shoulders above its rivals.

The Solo campaign reinstates Sam Fisher as the character to play if you are looking for a title to test not only your gaming mettle, but also your grey matter, decisions making skills and tactical nous. One of the new inclusions to the proceedings will also task players with not only working out how to tackle their Human counterparts, but now potential operatives are also charged with taking care of the dreaded ‘drones’. So, you may feel like you have the guards movements and patterns down to a ‘tee’, but what to make of the artificial intelligence housed inside the remote drones is quite another story.

The gameplay itself, analysing it from the ‘ground up’ so to speak, is that welcoming familiar sight of a dark and brooding third-person action adventure game that just happens to have some shooting in it. We describe it in this way, as opposed to merely labelling this master class in videogame design as little more than a third person shooter, something Blacklist most certainly is not.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 8Concentrating on Sam’s dogged determination in tracking down and the disposing of his assigned targets, rather than personal issues and family problems involving his daughter, Sarah, and her kidnap last time out, Blacklist has come full circle as Ubisoft return the series to the very thing that made it so great in the first place, its core tactical gameplay and stealth pedigree. That’s not to say Ubisoft Montreal have totally foregone the ‘Human Touch’ in Blacklist as Sam is still able to contact Sarah throughout the entire Solo campaign with intermittent phone calls home during missions breaks and briefings.

This is actually a rather ingenious way of keeping the player grounded to the reality that Sam Fisher is still ‘just a man’, and not some super hero or indestructible half man-half machine cyborg. It allows the player to form a more emotional connection between this hardened killing machine and his more day-to-day role as a loving parent who wants nothing more to build a safe environment for him to raise his daughter in. It almost seems apt that the location of the handset Sam uses to call Sarah is sited in the ‘infirmary’ where the logo of a large medic styled cross is emblazoned upon the wall, and this clearly indicates that giving Sam this much-needed connection to his family is almost part of the man’s healthcare, in that this lifeline to his child  is his centre, and his focus for staying fit and well both mentally and physically so that he may continue to fulfil his role as a father.

Of course, a game steeped in the latest military hardware and technological wizardy has to have a few surprise goodies for the gaming public, and once again Blacklist never fails to impress. Bursting at the seams with all of the ‘usual suspects’, such as the sticky camera, ( now upgradable with plastique and stun capabilities ), the standard issue flashbangs and smoke grenades as well as the unsung heroes of the gadget world: the noise makers, players will be more than pleased to now see some spanking new additions to Sam Fisher’s arsenal of available gizmo’s.

We couldn’t help but mention, of course, the wonderful Tri-Rotor drone which players are equipped with fairly early on in the game. But then, depending on how you approach your initial play through of Blacklist is to determine, pretty much, just how early all of these, and a whole host of other, technological marvels become available to you. But more on that in a moment.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 11The Tri-Rotor has to be one of the more interesting ‘new toys’ for Sam to play with. Its capabilities are upgradable, as are most of the tools and weapons at Sam’s disposal, but even though its range is somewhat limited to only relative short distances it is, nevertheless, an essential piece of kit in various missions and sections of the Solo and Co-oP campaigns.

The firearms on offer to Sam vary from pistols to SMG’s, shotguns and sniper rifles to the eponymous assault carbines such as the G36C and other such instruments of lethality. Players are able carry two of any weapon types, although not two of the same, as they construct and customize their rigs prior to each mission, dependant, of course, entirely upon what Sam is required to do for that particular objective.

Each weapon has its own set of attachments and add-ons, such as silencers, as well as a good range of  beneficial bonuses in the form of high grade parts and ammunition. Sam’s fetching ‘tac suit’ is also fully customizable with everything from the basic colour of the uniform right through to Kevlar Weave’s, night vision goggle sonar upgrades as well as stealth or assault choices for your preferred style of play being on offer.

This brings us nicely to the heart of the game, that being the way Sam handles the problems and objectives in his own inimitable style. Of course, the silent treatment will undoubtedly always be the safer, and best, option in any Splinter Cell title, but there are now three paths that an operative may choose when approaching his or her mission in the form of the Ghost, Panther and Assault play styles.

Each of these three main ‘styles’ will require a slightly differing approach to the others in that Sam is required to complete certain tasks and mini-objectives, such as locating a ‘Dead Drop’ to recover a USB left by a contact to grant further insights for Fourth Echelon from the data they recover. There are also the opportunities to earn many a bonus in each of the styles by locating and hacking lap tops, finding and then ‘Bagging & Tagging’ an HVT, or ‘High Value Target’, as well as in play requirements such as bypassing guards without killing them, or completing levels without anyone ever knowing you were even there to earn the ultimate Ghost award for being a perfect unseen agent.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 9As we mentioned earlier there are many upgrades Sam can purchase from his fellow team members as you progress along the games storyline, but for those operatives with a little more stealth savvy than most, then they will soon discover that far from being the usual linear style of Splinter Cell, Blacklist is by far and away the most option friendly and almost open world styled title in the series.  Sam is now able to interview NPC’s, ( not wanting to litter the review with spoilers we will omit names and scenario’s ), and glean information from them from which you may take part in special side missions that may, or may not, be of benefit to your cause as time goes on.  These can be anything from outright wave spawning survival types to sneak-fest ‘hack-a-thons’ were Sam must enter and exit a location to obtain information, crack a database or steal vital files without so much as a turn of a head from a passing Doberman Pincer guard dog.

Players may also fully alter and arrange Sam’s ‘tac suit’, as well as the outfits sported by their avatars in the Mercs and Spy camps. Split into sections gamers may decide to ‘mix and match’ the best parts of, say,  a stealth set up tunic, complete the stealth boots and gloves, and top it all off with an assaults troopers trousers and the colour enhanced night vision goggles.

All of the varying upgrades and skills are purchasable from the members of your Fourth Echelon team,  from department head ‘Grim’, the feisty femme fatale with the no nonsense approach to power shoulder pads. Then there is also the newcomer to the group in quartermaster ‘Charlie’, a ‘hacktivist’ recruited into Fourth Echelon after they learned of his skills care of his online boasting, and finally there is ‘Briggs’, another all action kind of guy who is an outstanding marksman and a back up/extraction man for main hero Sam.

Without wanting to ruin the surprise for Splinter Cell fan’s there is also a ‘blast from the past’ in the shape of an NPC that will be more than familiar to those players intimate with previous games in this sizzling series. But that is all you are getting!

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 1We couldn’t finish the upgrades list without mentioning  the cracking collection of fully customizable options for the Splinter Cell flying fortress ‘Paladin’. This high-tech aircraft is already brimming with more instruments panels and computers than an E3 expo, and has some of the most amazing touch screens that are so large it is reported that Samsung have been in talks regarding a possible collaboration.

Tweaking the on board systems of Paladin will allow players to gain further data via the enhanced radar and tracking systems, but there are also more, ahem, ‘restrictive’ upgrades, shall we say, that will allow for not only greater customization of the aircraft and its attributes, but also players will gain access to Black Market weaponry and hidden missions.

So, then. At last, you have your suit set up just the way you wanted it , so much so that you even have the colour scheme and goggle lenses matching your current objective surroundings. You have your primary weapon and back up all kitted out and ready for action, and you are carrying more kit than a Maplins travelling salesman. Now comes the ‘really’ tough choice facing all Splinter Cell Blacklist players, what mode to play first?

Do you kick everything off with a swift bout of the Solo campaign, and then wait until you know what Blacklist has in store for you before you return for a second walk through on ‘Realistic’ difficulty setting and then go for every side mission, mini-objective, bonus pick up, laptop and dead drop location?

Or perhaps you decide you want to forego the Solo section, ( a strange and somewhat baffling decision, but one that is on offer to you, nonetheless ), and opt instead to take on the entire challenge of all that the Solo story line has to offer, only with a friend or partner in either local, split screen or online Co-oP? Something that, we have to say, is an absolute ‘pearl’ of a mode with everything that you have in the Solo mission, but with the added incentive of Co-oP only missions, hidden area’s and objectives that are only ever accessible when two players are in the game zone.

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 6Alternatively, you could decide to jump right in at the deep end and go for a round or four of the truly magnificent multiplayer with the marvellous Mercs -Vs- Spy’s. This online only action mode is where players from all across the globe will come together and display their silky stealth skills as either one of the heavily armed, and equally heavily armoured Mercenaries, or as the hack-tastic Spy’s, complete with some of the coolest looking tac suits and gadgetry in the entire game.

The choice may well be yours but no-one ever said it was going to be an easy one.

Take the Co-oP Mode as an example. This can be played on or offline, LAN or split screen connected. The sheer unbridled joy of the partnered part of Blacklist comes with the feeling of a ‘job well done’ that you get at the end of an objective as you watch your points tally rack up and your rating hit dizzying heights thanks to the perfect team work performed by you and your partner.

Don’t get us wrong, though, with greater rewards being available in the Co-oP Mode there is no doubt that there is also greater risk involved. Enemies are tough and ruthless in their pursuit of intruders, and make no mistake, if they even get a whiff of your aftershave then they will not give up the pursuit until one of you is being zipped into a body bag .  The emphasis during all of the Co-oP missions is, undoubtedly, ‘teamwork’.  Success without it is highly unlikely, particularly in the higher difficulty sessions.

In a nice touch Ubisoft have also made certain segments of the Co-oP Mode just that little unsettling, as just when you get  used to having your team mate there at your side, and just as you get used to relying on them watching your back, just as you watch theirs, an objective may require that one or the other players may have to venture off into the uncertain night whilst the other guards, or clears a path, with one of the drones. This sudden sensation of loneliness and solitude can be disturbing, to say the least, in that the AI during the Co-oP story is by far and away superior and the enemies much tougher in Co-oP than  in the entire Solo version.

Now we come to the multiplayer. That twisting, turning hot bed of bad tempers and frustration where gamers the world over throw tantrum after hissy fit as their long-suffering families have to listen to them howl obscenities at the screen in their teeth-gnashing ire.

We would begin this section of our review with a small warning to those players who read the above statement with a wry smile as they recognise traits from their own behaviour. That warning reads like this:

“Splinter Cell Blacklist is NOT a twitch shooter, and therefore those quickscoping, Halo-bouncing, corner hugging tactics that you use in every other shooter will not work here. So when you are screaming sentences such as ‘The system is too unbalanced! at the TV screen, what you should be doing is learning to play ‘this’ game better, instead of trying to force alien tactics on a format that bears no similarity to the title you are attempting to transport them across from. This is ‘Black LIST, not Black Ops!”

Splinter Cell Blacklist                          GmP Gaming    image 7Leaping into the fight on Xbox Live we were greeted with a full lobby in literal milliseconds, and we have to say that it was a blessing that the game was not populated with a gaggle of foul-mouthed racists spitting venom at every player in the room. But then again, the same can be said, pretty much, for most of Ubisoft’s multiplayer titles, Rainbow Six always was a breeding ground for the more serious gamer who enjoyed the challenge, not the chat.

So, then, into the first online match we go, and we kick off the proceedings with a round of gameplay that left us all with smiles a mile wide, thanks in no small part to the updated version of the classic 2-on-2 mode of previous Splinter Cell titles, that now see’s four players on each team with Spies trying to hack terminals and the dreaded heavily suited Merc’s trying to prevent them at all costs.

The premise may, in fact, seem a little simplistic to some, but that is why it works so very well. You have two teams, you know what you must do, now just get out there and get on with it. But don’t forget to take your sack full of upgrades and goodies for good measure.  Once again players will find that everything that was upgradable and that could be tinkered with in the Solo and Co-oP Modes, can once again can be played with in the Multiplayer Mode.

All of this amounts to a staggeringly good title that is full to the brim with top drawer quality. The first and second playthrough’s of your opening Solo campaigns alone should keep you going for a good 16+ and 18+ hours should you decide to up the difficulty in your second session and to attempt to locate every item and compete every mission. Add on top of all of the single player perfection the unadultered bliss that is the Co-oP Mode and what you have is more of the same top-notch action, only bigger, longer and most definitely uncut.

The replay factor was already reading off the chart by this time, and that is even before we add the massively popular multiplayer to the melting pot, just for good measure. So, you see, good GmP readers, Splinter Cell ‘is’ back, and as we said at the beginning of this lengthy tome, ‘the return to form was never really in any doubt’. Ubisoft have done a magnificent job in recapturing the Splinter Cell essence, that Je Ne Sais Qua that the original titles all had,  and bringing it bang up to date with Blacklist. Everything about this game just screams out ‘quality’ at players from every direction, and you should show your support for this job well done in a retail purchase that is worth every penny of the asking price.   This could well be the shooter Game of the Year for an audience tired of twitch type titles and are looking for something just that much more thought-provoking and in-depth.   number-10-pool-ballSplinter Cell blacklist scores a perfect 10 out of 10.

 

Developer:                       Ubisoft Toronto

Publisher:                         Ubisoft

Version Tested:               Xbox360

Rating:                              10  out of 10

 

 

 

 

Magic 2014 review

Magic 2014                  GmP GamingTwenty years is a long time in any business, but in videogaming and technology terms its a veritable ice age. Will Wizards of the Coast be able to keep the fires of the The Gathering burning? Or will it be anything but planeswalking and plain sailing for Magic 2014? Let’s find out together in the latest review from GmP.

The annual launch for the Magic Card/Videogame has arrived once more, but this year see’s a double celebration as not only do we throw our hands up in unified glory for the release of the latest edition of the spectacularly successful card game turned video hit, but we also offer up congratulatory handshakes all round to the developers and publishers following two decades of unmitigated joy thanks to this magnificent series.

For those gamers out there scratching their heads in bewilderment at this sentiment we ask them to consider this:

It’s almost double the length of time that Master Chief has been blasting lumps out of space aliens and flirting with Artificially Intelligent vixen. Its Three Times as long as Modern Warfare has been chasing mad Russians around the globe, and franchises like Uncharted and the critically acclaimed Borderlands are mere toddlers still padding the nursery floor in nappies by comparison. For this, and this alone, you should show reverent respect to a franchise that has been outstanding in its performance and presentation for such a long time that the videogame Activision was pushing the day of Magic’s debut launch wasn’t Call of Duty but Return to Zork.

But, after such an inordinate length of time the question that remains at the forefront of the mind when pondering this latest launch has to be, ” But is Magic still relevant in the current videogame market of shooters, action titles, RPG extravaganza’s and the upcoming mobile revolution? ” The answer to this is a simple one, and it begins with the letter ‘Y’, ends in ‘S’ and rhymes with…erm, “Yes!”  ( poetic talent laydeez and gennelmen )

Magic has never looked, or played, quite as good as it does in its anniversary year. The interface is sharper than a stick sharpened by Sharp Jack McSharp, and the gameplay remains as true to its real world originator as it ever has securing the adoration and attention of millions of fans the World over the moment it hits the shelves. Magic has always been popular, and its community grows with each successive year, but it has to be said that this latest edition looks all set to take the franchise into the outer atmosphere, let alone the stratospheric.

Magic 2014                  GmP Gaming              image 1The gameplay is still the same tried and tested, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” brilliance that it has always been. Meaning that both fan’s and newcomers to the series alike can expect to see the same high standard of addictive card-playing action that has captivated the gaming World’s imagination ever since its initial launch way back in the salad days of videogamings golden age back in 1993.

Magic 2014 follows all of the same rules as its real-world counterpart, and in a way it is because of this seamless transition across to the digital from the physical that the game has always done so well. Put forward in layman’s terms: , Players go head-to-head against each other as they attempt to chip away at their opponents opening tally of 20 hit points, ultimately reducing the count to zero by summoning monsters and casting spells with which they do bitter battle. This explanation may come across as an extremely over simplified version, though, as there are a staggering amount of differing card types, characters, moves and modifiers which allow for many different strategies and tactics to be played out by opposing gamers.

Players do have a new twist on the well-established gameplay, however, with the new  ‘sealed deck’.  Magic 2014 is still very ‘real-world’ and ‘poker-faced’ based, making it so that players can then enter into the ‘single player campaign’ as they begin to construct their own decks in preparation for the war of attrition all set to take place when they bring their talents into play against the many computer powered foes all lining up to kick your card playing posterior.  Of course, with 25 of the digital duelists all looking for a piece of the action the game is always fresh and never stale, with the difficulty being upped between rounds and opponents for that added extra ‘oomph’.

Naturally there is a good deal more to Magic 2014, such as the cracking challenge mode, the customization and profile options allowing for some excellent real-time stat tracking, as well as the true home of the title: ‘multiplayer’.

Thanks to the simply superb, longstanding community of dedicated gamers and gamerettes, Magic has always had a substantial and fiercely loyal following, and it is because of this fanbase that the online sections and modes of the award-winning title that Magic 2014 has a ready-made audience of committed community members just awaiting your arrival, whether this is your first experience of the best-selling franchise, or whether you are long-term veteran.

Magic 2014              GmP Gaming    image 2Yes, the card game will always have its strong supporters, and purists may well claim that it is the ‘true version’ of the game, but unless you have an unimpeded lifestyle that allows you access to almost unlimited funds and the time needed to track down and procure some of the more elusive cards to populate your deck then Magic 2014 is the game for you. As good for the newbie to kick of their card-playing career as it as ever been, but still thoroughly engrossing enough for even the most ardent devotee of the series to be more than happy with magic 2014 is an outstanding addition to an already stellar line up of previous editions.

This fourth outing for the digital version of the Magic franchise is a cracking, deeply involved experience which will see players honing all of the required tactical skills required to conquer the solo mode of the game, before transporting their finely tuned talents across to the online version of the game and taking on their Human opposite numbers. Don’t for one moment think, however, that the six opponents that the computer has in store for you are anything other than mere training bots. To go into a match with that attitude is to walk away bare-chested and red-faced as you lose your shirt and your self-respect to your AI foe. But once you do get to grips with the subtleties and nuances of the gameplay then you are better prepared to take your newly acquired skills, sealed deck, and new character cards into the online arena and challenge other players.

All told Magic 2014 is the anniversary edition that every fan of this fantastic franchise could have hoped for. Inventive and showing great ingenuity with the new additions that meld perfectly with the already established gameplay, Magic 2014 ticks all of the right boxes as its settles in to rub shoulders with its esteemed brethren in the Wizards of the Coast library. A time-honoured classic given new features, characters and tweaks to the format that will have every Magic fan smiling from ear to ear.  Magic 2014 scores a scorching 8 out of 10

 

 

number-8-pool-ballDeveloper:            Wizards of the Coast

Publisher:             Wizards of the Coast

Price:                      800 Microsoft Points

Version Tested:     Xbox360   ( XBLA )

Rating:                    8 out of 10

 

 

GRID 2 review

GRID 2     logo 4                                     GmP GamingLook out Gran Turismo, take care Need or Speed and watch your back Forza Motorsport the middle ground between super-serious and arcade racer has just been resurfaced and is ready for petrol head’s everywhere to take to the track  in a blitz of tyre-squealing, wheel spinning mayhem. Codemasters return with the powerhouse that is GRID 2.

Say what you want about off-roading, its fun and fast and just what boy racers the World over look for in a motor sport moment. But when you transport the world of the gravel soaked B-Road for the test tracks of some of the more hallowed venues of conventional motor ‘racing’, well, that’s a whole new audience you are tempting away from their usual fodder.

GRID 2 has broken with its own rally cross pedigree and stepped out onto the circuit in direct competition to the ‘big boys’ of videogaming’s respected racing titles, but does it have the ‘oomph’ of a Gran Turismo or a Forza? Well. let’s find out shall we?

Looking every inch the perfect polished package GRID 2 has long teased gamers and racing fans everywhere with its cracking collection of in-game trailers giving players a tantalising glimpse into just what awaited them upon the titles launch. Sizzling soundtracks, sublime visuals and engines revving so loudly that the rumble pack in your controller will loosen your grannies false hip screws, GRID 2 makes no apologies for it’s in your face attitude from the moment you slip into the plush driving seat.

One thing of worthy note has to be the definite tip of the hat toward the more arcade styled racer as opposed to the fully fledged simulator, which now allows for a far more fun-filled afternoon’s mayhem of the motoring type should you be that way inclined? No longer bounds by the restrictions of the real world rules, GRID 2 takes gamers on a rip-roaring romp across a rare collection of racetracks and outbacks as players experience everything from grit and gravel to tarmac and concrete under the squealing rubber of their smoking tyres.

GRID 2 makes no apologies for its shunning of the detail hungry sim crowd, and nor should it when it produces an action-packed fun-filled experience such as its current iteration? Codemasters have done a sterling job at keeping the madcap and the mischievous in their latest launch, whilst at the same time sticking two fingers firmly in the air to the stuffed shirts of the Gran Turismo’s of this world who may painstakingly recreate every ‘bobble’ of bloated rubber on a tyres tread, or the dazzling manner in which the sunlight refracts upon the highly polished surface of a Ferrari’s bonnet., but Codemasters have learned, much as Activision did with their FPS franchise Call of Duty, that it is only a very tiny minority who actually pay attention to the way that a games aesthetic detailing looks when you are either hurtling past a checkpoint at warp factor 9 in the latest ‘Satsuma X-9 Turbo Bastard’, or, as in the case of Call of Duty in the shooter wars with Battlefield, the fact that the daisy’s sway in the breeze as you hurtle past them in pursuit of your next fragging target in a game of Team Deathmatch. It is with this realization that GRID 2 has won over many millions of new fans, and yet at the same time remained true to loyal die-hard’s who have been with the series from conception.

GRID 2     image 4                                     GmP GamingThe gameplay is as you would expect from a racer title that has more akin to Burnout than Brands Hatch, with fast, fun-filled action that is as frantic as it is frenetic. The AI makes for interesting opponents along the way, as they will send your own vehicles careening off into the advertising hoardings and ending up as a twisted pile of metal with the merest glancing caress of your passing car, but thanks to the inclusion of five ‘flashbacks’,  allowing the player to rewind the most teeth-gnashing segments of the race where you feel unjustly bounced off the track by a racing line hogging AI driver, players will then be able to rewind and alter the offending fender-bender so that they may replay the section incident free.

Of course, being that the emphasis is on racing fun as opposed to realism means that players can expect a great deal of high speed shenanigans such as power sliding and drifting like a Vin Diesel clone every time that you even waft a tentative digit in the vicinity of the brake button. But, it has to be said that regardless of your position on the debate between fans regarding the purity of the sim-racer being better than its more arcade styled competitor, one thing is assured…and that is what Codemasters do they do extremely well, and that makes for a fantastic time when gamers log in to any one of the marvellous manic modes in GRID 2.

Naturally there are the ‘usual suspects’ as in any racing title, such as free play, arcade and the rather excellent career mode, for players to put their skills to the test in, and with the promise of additional DLC packages extending not only the life of the online sections of the game but also the solo experience, GRID  2 seems to have nailed it in terms of the replay factor.

The new features and social functions of the Facebook ‘Like’ button and the ability for players to auto-share their racing prowess via Youtube are also massive feathers in the GRID 2 cap, but ultimately these pale in comparison to the depth that is found in the GRID 2 career mode as opposed to other arcade styled franchises such as EA’s Need For Speed or even Microsoft’s Forza.

number-8-pool-ballGraphically GRID 2 is exceedingly well put together and perfectly presented with an eye for detail that is usually only to be found in racing franchises such as the aforementioned GT series, NFS or Forza Motorsport, but as we said earlier; with this latest title from Codemasters the developer has taken a definite step towards making the racing genre a four-horse race in the future.   GRID 2 scores 8 out of 10

 

Rating:                         8 out of 10

Developer:                  Codemasters

Publisher:                    Namco Bandai

Version Tested:          Xbox360

Peripherals Used:      Mad Catz Force Feedback Steering Wheel

Mad Catz Triton Warhead 7.1 Gaming Headset

Mad Catz MLG Pro Gamer Controller

 

 

 

Dead Island Riptide review

Dead Island Riptide                       GmP Gaming    image    coverart 1Deep Silver return to the idyllic setting of their Pacific archipelago to take players on another nightmare adventure of epic proportions as the outbreak that sprouted forth in the original title spreads to the surrounding islands. Dead Island Riptide will take you on a journey, alright, but will it be to the pleasure palace or the house of pain? Let’s find out together as we review the latest zombie slasher to grab gamers by their ‘ghoulies’.

Make no mistake Deep Silver have managed to run one of the most eye-catching marketing campaigns in recent videogaming memory with their Dead Island franchise.  Who here was not captivated by the heart-rending trailer of a young family, on a supposedly island paradise, fighting for their lives against the blood thirsty hordes of salivating undead to the haunting sound of a mournful piano? It offered up the promise of a survival horror game quite unlike anything that gamers had previously experienced, but would the reality of the gameplay hold up to the successful campaign run by the accomplished publisher? Well, yes and no.

Depending upon who you talked too Dead Island, the original title, was a corker of a game that ticked all of the zombie slasher title boxes but which also brought in definite overtones of a more RPG styled format, with its use of XP to build your characters skills and attributes, as well as the crafting of weapons and the myriad of mini-objectives, tasks and quests set forth for you by the developer in the lush verdant open wold setting. The action was fast paced, even across the great distances involved during some of the missions, and the storyline, though not quite the emotional rollercoaster portrayed in the award-winning trailer, was still  more than capable of capturing the players attention and keeping them ‘on track’, even after thirty or forty hours of head-splitting combat.

However, there were some players out there who felt almost ‘cheated’ by developer Techland. After watching ‘that’ trailer, and after being sucked into the heart wrenching tale of a family torn apart by this nightmare scenario, players installed their game only to discover that the actual gameplay resembled something more along the lines of a standard  hack and slash title, with little to nothing relating to the trailer that sold the game to its audience other than maybe its surroundings, as opposed to the thought-provoking plot and promises made in the stunning CGI trailers.

So, what to make of the second instalment in the survivalist series? Will Riptide right the wrongs of a title that was, in all honesty a good game with passable graphics, but that had split its audience into camps of the satisfied and the despairing. Again, it’s a yes and no.

Riptide does a great job of sticking to the story of the previous title with the game progressing on the same path from the opening scenes as you are treated to a short recap of past events, told in the narrative style by one of the characters lucky enough to escape the Hell of Banoi, and make it onto the helicopter to freedom. So, after the short retelling of the original tale we find ourselves aboard the ‘chopper’, ( insert Arnie imitation here ), and making off toward the relative safety of a naval aircraft carrier anchored around the island cluster as a part of the blockade by the government.

We say the ‘relative safety’ because as you can already guess, as with anything dealing with corporations, conglomerates or governments in videogames, they are the ‘Big Evil’ and, as such, immediately live up to that stereotypical pigeon holing as they set to arresting our band of reluctant heroes, although it has to be said that the native girl ‘ Yerema’ does put up the best struggle giving one of the burly marines quite the ‘love bite’ as a keepsake of the occasion.

It’s during this enforced invitation to tour the ships brig that we are introduced to a new fifth character, John Morgan, who, even though he is the ships cook has still, nevertheless, managed to train himself in the art of hand-to-hand combat…quite handy really considering that without this homebrew talent John would be hard-pressed to do little more than knock up a zombie omelette, or maybe an undead soufflé.

Dead Island Riptide       GmP Gaming     image 3The reason behind the ‘banging up abroad’ of the new five main characters? Well, that’s an easy one to explain away as they are all immune to the current infection from Banoi, and the corporations want the antidote for themselves so that they can get squiffy rich off the back of misery of millions. No change there then.

However, after only mere moments of being brought below decks all Hell breaks loose on board the aircraft carrier  and players are immediately thrown into the fray once more. Gamers are then tasked with escaping the brig and lower decks before ultimately attempting to save the ship from breaking its back on the rocks of a neighbouring island. As you can imagine its a fruitless labour that leaves players washed up on the golden sands of Palanai. From here on in its business as usual for the rag-tag bunch of survivors as they must stay alive by any means at their disposal.

Graphically, Riptide has seen a great deal more polish and panache added to its visuals. The environments are as lush as they are expansive, even though the detailing is not too exacting but is perfectly adequate enough to make a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the player unless, of course, you are of the mindset that whines and moans that each blade of grass that you pass, as you fight off hordes of blood thirsty brain munchers mind you, does not look realistic enough as they gently sway in the Pacific breeze? We are not of that ilk, and so we ultimately praise the efforts by developer Techland.

The characters are all decent enough, with the usual brand of repertoire that comes with machismo laden storylines of bashing the Hell out of your enemies, and even the NPC’s are decently animated. There was absolutely no issue with lag, screen tearing or stuttering throughout our entire first playthrough, something that, we have to say, did surprise us all somewhat considering that there has been much said about the graphics in Dead Island Riptide already.

The gameplay is where the real strength of the series lies, however, even though the visuals are adequate enough for the task at hand and the storyline is pretty much better than a great deal other titles in the same genre. Speaking of ‘genres’, you can always tell, pretty much, just when a title is going to be interesting, to say the least, by the way that games’ journalists have a little trouble when trying to categorize the title into any one genre. Dead Island as a franchise does this perfectly. Just look at how Wikipedia label this action-packed zombie fest:

         ” Dead Island is an action role-playing survival horror video game “

Dead Island Riptide       GmP Gaming     image 4With this short statement readers should be able to pick through the wording to see at least four or five different genre’s that have been touched on by Dead Island Riptide. We ourselves do not necessarily refer to Dead island as a ‘shooter’ series, but more often than not we view it as a hack and slash title, adding yet another feather to the Techland cap, and regardless of what some of the more negative naysayers of the videogame press would like you to believe Dead Island Riptide pretty much nails every one of them.

The ‘action’ comes at you thick and fast, and whether you are attempting to complete one of the many side missions or NPC induced tasks, all of which offer up a helpful insight into the difficulty level of the given quest thanks to the handy mission brief that comes up on-screen as you decide whether or not to accept the offered assignment, you will encounter a staggering amount of shuffle-steppers along the way, all of which are intent on separating your spinal column and making a kebab out of the dripping appendage.

Combat, although some have cited the brutal bashings doled out at the hands of any one of the five main characters as being ‘repetitive’, a claim we find a little laughable to be perfectly honest as these are the said same ‘ree-voowers’ who sing the praises of titles such as Battlefield 3?  ( although they must be firing different assault rifles and machine guns to us here at GmP if every round they shoot is different to the last? ).

But, we digress, back to the action, as it were. Dead Island Riptide is quite literally chock full of undead monsters every corner and hiding behind every palm tree as you tentatively creep through the jungle in search of survivors, quest items and booty.  Naturally there are many differing varieties of night-crawlers for you to do battle against, ranging from the more slow-moving ‘standard’ zombies through to the extremely tough ‘thugs’ and ‘brute type’ bosses, but there are also the ‘spitters’ and the ‘butchers’ with their own brand of death and destruction for you to get re-acquainted with. Of course, there are also a couple of new additions to the undead legions but not wanting to spoil the surprise for you all we would rather that you ‘enjoyed’ all that these current killers will bring during your own time spent on Palanai.

Traversing the massive playable area’s has also been improved with the use of boats meaning that gamers are now allowed to island hop and swamp-skim around the maps with relative ease, although it must be noted that the zombies are able to attack you when you are aboard your water line craft so be fully prepared to do battle with the brain-boffers as you steer your skiff around the many islets and waterways.

Dead Island Riptide       GmP Gaming     image 2The format of the gameplay is one that stays true to the original, in that players must amass XP in order for their character to progress and grow, and for their very differing skills and attributes to be upgraded via the ‘skill tree’ system.  There are new inclusions to this also, as now players are able to decide if they would like to complete a certain mission or task as any one of the main characters whose skill sets would best benefit from the particular rewards being offered up by the mission giving NPC, and this is particularly useful for when players take advantage of the excellent ‘drop in/drop out’  Co-oP system that may see you leaping into a friends game as any one of the characters.

Each new level that you pass, as you progress through the game, has its own gratuity on offer to you, also, as you get to select one ‘skill’ to upgrade. But be warned, in your first play through of Riptide you will not be able to fully enhance all of your available attributes, so take the time to study each of the ‘trees’ and the bonuses that they provide, and make sure that the upgrade you are improving best suits your own particular style of play, otherwise it could well be that you have idly wasted valuable points on skills that you will never really take advantage of.

The missions are vast and variable, ranging from locating and rescuing lost family members of the desperate bands of survivors holed up in some village fortress or long forgotten WWII bunker, and there are enough of them to quench the appetites of even the most ardent RPG fan.  But its the games’ main storyline that will hold most of your attention throughout the entire 40+ hours that you spend foraging the surrounding foliage and filleting the local fetid’s in this open world extravaganza. Dead Island Riptide, we think, seems to be coming in for some undue criticism, and its as well that we have waited until we have fully completed the game, ( as is the norm for all GmP reviews ), so that we may better deal with some of the more scathing comments and remarks being levelled at Techland and Deep Silver.

Citing such ludicrous statements as the game ‘lacking direction’, ( no, we didn’t quite understand that one either? ), and pointing a scornful finger at ‘repetitious combat’ or even poking a derisive tongue at loot drops are, in our humble opinion, nothing more than feeble attempts to justify their woeful summing up and scoring of this entertaining title. More often than not launch day reviews are completed not by ‘gamers’ but more so by ‘journalists’ looking to cash in on the view count and the controversy seeking return views from readers arguing it out in the comments section. Do not fall into these traps.  Do not give these sites and channels your views. They are not deserving of them. If they cannot be bothered to take the time to complete the game that they have been asked to review then how can they even attempt to offer to you any kind of educated opinion for which you may base a decision whether or not to purchase the game upon?

Dead Island Riptide may not be Red Dead Redemption. It may not be Call of Duty Zombies. But it doesn’t try to be. Dead Island is what it is, and enjoyable romp through a survival horror action game with role-playing elements that produce a deeper, more meaningful experience as you derive much satisfaction from the excellent ‘hack and bash’ styled combat.

Dead Island Riptide       GmP Gaming     image 1Top all of that off with what has to be one of the more genuinely enjoyable Co-oP modes, in any zombie title, and what you have is a game that gives much more value for money as you blaze a trail through the storyline with your friends. How some of these so-called ‘journos’ can even look themselves in the eye as they whine and moan about nonsensical complaints such as ‘the weapons degrade too quickly’, or even ‘…how is a Japanese sword is even in a Pacific archipelago? ”  ( we kid you not ), is just beyond us.  But, just to give the bright spark at Videogamer.com the answer to that ‘sword conundrum’ we think we should point out that it may have been dropped there during a minor incursion during the Forties called….oh, what was it? World War 2! Either that or it could be that its there because, just like the zombies themselves, ‘its only a game’ and it’s not really happening.

With videogaming journalism increasingly coming under the spotlight of late, thanks in no small part to talentless hacks and non-gamers by the dozen attempting to ‘cut their teeth’ as it were in our chosen industry, is it any wonder, then, with ridiculous reporting and reviews such as these that more and more readers are choosing to venture away from the more established publications and websites in favour of the independent cyberzines? At least there the reviews and the news is brought to the subscriber by an actual ‘gamer’.  Its strange, then, to see that some of these said same ‘gamers’ who have brought you the review of Riptide have just also scored the Star Trek travesty  as high as 8, 9 and even 10. Who’d a thunk it?

But, truth be told, this is the ‘crux of the biscuit’, as it were. Or the ‘apostrophe’, according to the late, great Frank Zappa. Gamers, ‘real gamers’, will absolutely love Dead Island Riptide, whereas casuals may be deterred by its lengthy gameplay, difficult missions, tough enemies and intricate upgrade system. That being said, we are more than happy to report that the multiplayer mode is veritably teeming with players from all corners of the videogaming arena. Casual, core and hardcore are all there, enjoying themselves, and once you strap on your electrified club and get among the action we are more than confident that you will too.

The graphics are easy on the eye, the sound more than enhances the suspenseful atmosphere, as well as granting the player some delicious thuds, squishes and crunches as you bash, hack and stamp your way through the undead hordes, and the game play lasts longer than a Rowntree Fruit Pastille, in stark contrast to how many other games of late that seem to be getting shorter and shorter for the single player as every man and his game designing dog chases after the multiplayer dollar.

number-8-pool-ballSo, will we recommend that you spend £40 of your hard-earned shekels to get your copy of Deep Silver’s latest zombie title? You bet your sweet ploughman’s pickle sandwich we do! Dead Island Riptide may not exactly be the ‘War and Peace’ of the videogame industry, but nor does it ever claim to be. What you get is a whole lot of gaming goodness for not a great deal of money, especially when you compare it to the recent shambles of titles such as The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.  Dead Island Riptide may well be the ‘Marmite’ of gaming, and players may well ‘love it or hate it’, but one thing is assured and that s if you liked the first game then you are absolutely going to love this!    Dead Island Riptide scores a worthy 8 out of 10 

 

Developer:   Techland

Publisher:    Deep Silver

Version Tested:   Xbox360

 

 

 

 

 

Bioshock Infinite review

Bioshock Infinite           GmP Gaming   image   logo 3Irrational Games reunite with long time partner and publisher 2K Games to bring the third instalment in the best-selling survival thriller franchise with the critically acclaimed Bioshock Infinite. But is this a ‘rapturous’ return to a fan favourite? Or has the memory of Bioshock been ‘infinitely’ tarnished? Read on to discover all in the latest GamesMediaPro review.

Rarely does something hit the nail on the head twice.  It’s usually the case with sequels that there is always some spanner thrown into the works that causes the whole engine to collapse and crash at some point in the proceedings. Take just about any movie franchise as an example of this and we can, more or less, guarantee that the second outing in the series is to sequels what concrete and lead are to parachute manufacturing. , ( Star Wars and Indiana Jones are not exempt from this phenomenon ,even though Stephen Spielberg is a well-known enigma and freak of nature ), You don’t think so? Okay, then,  try this little lot on for size….

…first on the list in this ‘Hall of Shame’? Well that dubious honour just has to go to that travesty of movie history Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Just what the director and producer were thinking when they gave the green light to this garbage is, frankly, beyond us but one thing is for certain and that is Hollywood should start introducing random drug testing for its higher echelon.

Second in this ‘proof of the pudding’ table of torment? Blues Brothers 2000. This absolute cash-cow shocker of a movie was not just one of the most insulting sporkful’s of rancid gibbon shit that ever defecated on the memory of the late great John Belushi, but it actually managed to tarnish the original for a whole generation of younger viewers who, when asked if they would like to watch the first Blues Brother’s films afterwards, said that they would rather have their eyes chewed out by starving weevils.

Point made, we now move on to the videogame industry, the latest Mecca for entertainment hungry citizens the World over, and as we ponder the veritable graveyard of shoddy second outings that we have had to endure, with titles such as  Super Mario Bros 2, Devil May Cry 2 and the out and out shocker that was Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty immediately springing to mind, and what we have are some of the most blatant cash-ins this side of a Nike convention.

Now, to make matters worse, let’s take all of that ill-fated dross from the second time around brigade, wrap it all up in a pretty pink bow and deliver it in a shiny new DVD case complete with sexy new ‘3’ logo inserted sneakily into the games title for the third, and ultimately most disastrous, expedition into the videogames sales charts. Driv3r anyone?

Now, every once in an indigo and violet Moon there comes along a ‘maverick’. A complete anomaly to this tried, tested and proven ‘formula of fail’, that throws the rule book out of the window and bucks the trend with so much equine panache that Bobby Kotick reportedly tried to purchase the rights of Buckaroo just in case.

Bioshock is just such an anomaly.

Bioshock Infinite                               GmP Gaming    image season passNot content with offering up some of the most imaginative story telling and incomparable game play for just one of his titles, the wunderkind that is Irrational Games’ Ken Levine has now followed up his initial title with twin smash hits that have stunned, astounded and captured the attention and imagination of the entire gaming world as a whole. Bioshock 2 quite literally broke the mould when Levine took us by the hand once more and led us all back into the murky depths of the ruinous Rapture, but in this third and latest outing for the 2K Games and Irrational Games flagship franchise, it is as if the mould itself was not only shattered into a million fragments once again, but that each individual scrap was then painstakingly located and recast into a new format for success. Bioshock Infinite doesn’t just break with the traditions of terrible sequels, it tears down the walls and pounds the rubble into dust under the stampeding feet of the legions of dedicated fans racing to their local game stores to snare their copy of this masterclass in videogame design.

Looking breathtaking in its panoramic approach, Bioshock Infinite has done the unthinkable, in terms of the entertainment industry at any rate, and managed to stay as fresh as the proverbial daisy with a storyline that will keep you on the edge of your Rocker. Quite what goes on inside the mind of Ken Levine is anyone’s guess when he is able to produce such stimulating and enthralling tales as this, but who cares when he consistently delivers with games that are as good as Bioshock Infinite.

Sticking to our usual formula of composing spoiler-free reviews, a challenge in itself when giving the low down on a magnificent title such as ‘Infinite’, and what we can tell you in relation to the games’ plot is this:

You start the game in the shoes of a private detective named Booker DeWitt in turn of the Century 1900’s. Now, as ‘heroes’ go, in the normal ‘traditional’ sense of the word, then DeWitt is not ‘exactly’ who you would have pictured as the man who has destiny has  come ‘a knock, knock knocking’ on his door to offer the role too. Well, maybe if the first choice was off sick with the mother of all ‘man flu’, and if his stand in had appendicitis? ‘Then’…and only then….perhaps?

Um,  maybe?

But, anyway, you get the picture, yes? Okay, then, moving forward:

Following the contractual agreements arranged by a pair of dubious looking ‘master race’ types Booker finds himself in a familiar scene for all Bioshock fan’s, that is to say floating in a small boat heading towards a craggy lighthouse in the middle of the ocean, but for the oblivious Booker this is as new an experience as  From here on in the similarities are plainly evident in the art style, but everything else is as new to the player as it is to the unaware DeWitt, as he is paddled to a waiting rickety pier.

Irrational Games have created yet another beautiful realm that is more Pratchett than pre-pubescent Disney. The strange twists and takes on ‘real’ worlds’ events are reflected with such a disturbing slant that it almost seems as if Ken Levine is offering up an alternate universe to explain away the past 400 years of American history in such a way that it is a conspiracy theorists wet dream.

So, after stepping into Infinite’s version of the Rapture ‘Bathysphere’, a sort of cross between a barber shop chair and ‘Old Smokey’ from Sing Sing Prison, our reluctant hero is catapulted skyward at a rate of knots, his face been pulled to distorted angles as his life below becomes an ever decreasing dot in the distance. After clearing the clouds we get our first glimpse of the latest Dystopian nightmare hatched in the mind of Irrational Games’ chief literary talent: Welcome, dear traveller, to ‘Columbia’.

BioShock-Infinite1As city’s in the cloud’s go, and this is exactly that, Columbia is what every gamer dreamt and daw in their mind’s eye when they were children. Huge hulking monuments, great towering buildings constructed of almost Gothic and Renaissance styled architecture, all made with such elegance and grandeur that Gotham City is left feeling a little dejected in its shadow.

However, there is an underlying and fundamental flaw in the make up of this so-called Paradise. For Columbia is not ‘as near to Heaven as you will ever get’, as one resident claims to a gaping Booker DeWitt, but rather it is a Hell for anyone daring to be born different to the Aryan purists of the ruling upper classes. Blacks, Chinese, Irish and pretty much anyone not a member of the ‘master race’ are considered little more than ‘untermencsh’, and as such are destined for a life of servitude and sterility as the are denied everything from employment and housing to education and healthcare.

Enter in the mix DeWitt, complete with disbelieving eyes and outraged soul  as one who fought against such tyrannies in the American  Civil war. But whereas the world below may have put aside such notions following the bloodshed and atrocities committed by both sides in the terrible conflict, it would seem that the true bigots of that bygone age have retreated to a life of ‘White Supremacist’ bliss amongst the stars.

Naturally there is a small underground movement of resistance to this disgusting treatment of the minorities who go by the name of the Vox Populi, but even they see the good that DeWitt could do for their cause, regardless of the fact that Booker is only in Columbia seeking to complete his own murky agenda tasked to him by the odd couple who asked little more of him other than ‘bring us the girl and all debts will be paid’. So, in a story akin to Rapunzel we are off to rescue the girl, Elizabeth, from the tower.

From here on in the choices Booker will have to make will be yours to decide, and ultimately the fate of this nightmare will be in your hands. But will you side with the downtrodden masses, or the misguided ‘Founding Fathers’?  Your quest awaits….

Graphically, Bioshock Infinite is, as is only to be expected from this simply spectacular series of titles, quiet outstanding, particularly if you are playing through the game on PC? But, fear not console owners as your own versions of the game can more than hold their own in the face of their DX11 powerhouse siblings. The world that Irrational games have created for you to explore I massive in its area, and brilliant in its colour and detail. Nothing has  been rushed or left to chance. Flawless in its delivery and silky smooth throughout the entire story with not a single example of glitching or twitching to be reported, Infinite is a breath of fresh air in a stale genre that merely churns out repetitive dross year after God forsaken year.

The gameplay is, without a shadow of a doubt, second to none, and Bioshock Infinite is very possibly at the top of gamers favourites list for 2013 with little more than a third of the year gone. New enemies, new weapons, new powers, new zones, new characters and new storyline keep the entire game running on a steady even keel from the opening sequences right through to the revelatory final scenes.

Speaking of all things new in the ‘friend or foe’ department brings us nicely to the excellent collection of ‘bad guys’ that you will face as you bring death and destruction to the deluded racists of Columbia. Mirroring earlier Bioshock tales we have the Handy man taking the place of the Big Daddy, and the Splicers have been replaced by a myriad of murderous maniacs such as the uniformed grunts of the Columbian Guard right through to ‘Klu Klux Klan’ lookalikes that you will delight in pounding into mush.

Bioshock Infinite    eBook cover daisy image 1      GmP GamingBut our favourites, and there were quite a few of them , just had to be the Firemen, armour plated nutters shooting veritable non-stop rain of death around your ears with the all new ‘Hail Fire’ gun. Then there are the cracking calamities that are the clockwork killers that make up the ranks of the Motorized Patriots. These artificial assassins are built as almost replica’s of former US presidents and Founding Fathers, so expect to do battle with minigun wielding effigies of George Washington for example. Following swiftly on the heels of these mechanical monstrosities come the Heavy Hitters. Without wanting to ruin the surprise for readers all we will say is that these maniacal mayhem bringers will be a challenge to even the most experienced of players as they sow the seeds of violence and chaos with their mystical powers and massive weaponry.

A point worth noting, however, is that Levine himself has stated that even though players will take on five different styles of Heavy Hitter during their play through, that there is possibly still more to come in three planned future DLC’s for the game.

Of course, there are still the enigma’s of the Songbird and the Siren to be faced down at some point during your story, but, as you already know, we are not here to mar your enjoyment of Irrational Games masterful title, so what we can tell you is that be prepared….and very, very afraid.

Moving on to outline some of the powers that you will acquire during your time in Columbia, and we know come to the Vigors and Salts. These are the Plasmids and Tonics are past titles, but they have been given a new direction in ‘Infinite’, much like the history of the great nation of the USA. Players will be able to access any one of eight new powers from a ‘wheel’ format, taking advantage of two at any one time by the deftest touch of the left bumper button. here are some truly remarkable new additions to what players already thought they had seen all before, and we have got to admit that the ‘Possession’ Vigor left us openly laughing out loud at some of the ways that victims will commit suicide once the effect has worn off on them.

Weapons come thick and fast, but as is the case with most modern shooter based titles players are only able to carry two at once, meaning that once you find your own particular weapons of choice then it is best to probably stick with them. Although we have to agree with Levine when he states that mixing it up with the entire arsenal available to you is absolutely great fun.

The combat is fast and frenetic, but can be played out suiting whatever style you favour personally. Should you be more capable as a cover based shooter, then simply attach yourself to the nearest wall or outcropping and then happily pop in and out until you are confident enough to lead a charge towards your enemies. But if you prefer instead to simply assault your opposite numbers like some kind of whirling Dervish then feel free to grab your guns and Vigors and go out all guns blazing.

Completionists and achievement hunters will be relishing the fact that there is no multiplayer, ( yay! ), and that instead Irrational Games have opted to put all of their considerable talents into bringing what is, simply put, the best solo experience in videogaming this year. Expect to be hunting all manner of collectibles and ‘Voxophones’, which take the place of Raptures tape recorders, as you scour the ruins of this once great floating Utopia for everything from bullets to rations.

As we stated at the beginning of this review, to bring you al the low down on Bioshock Infinite without revealing too much of the gameplay or the secrets it contains, is something of a mini game all of its own, and once you have bought your copy, ( and we cannot recommend to you enough that you buy this game first hand to how your support for the developer and publisher ), then you will fully appreciate how difficult this has been as all we want to do is sing the praises of this magnificent title from the rooftops.

GmP Editor ChoiceBioshock Infinite is a return to the good old days of gaming. When developers weren’t being bullied and cajoled by publishers and financiers to tack on an ill-fated multiplayer as they chased that ever elusive cash cow. Here’s hoping the Irrational and 2K Games have set a precedent for other developers and publishers to follow by the undoubted success of a solo experience that is all set to smash the sales of previous games in the series, as well as taking the coveted Games of the Year crown.

number-10-pool-ballEverything you loved about gaming is back, and in this title. Great visuals, an eagle’s eye for detail, silky smooth gameplay and a genuinely original and engaging storyline. But best of all…? It’s all just for you! It is single player bliss of the highest order. Bioshock Infinite has been drawing praise from every corner of the gaming market. Journalists the world over are pouring over it in their droves and the adulation shows no sign of stopping as this game heads straight to the number one spot in country after country around the world. And rightfully so.  10 out of glittering 10 and Editors Choice

 

Developer:   Irrational Games

Publisher:     2K Games

Version Tested:    Xbox360

 

 

Gears of War Judgement review

Gears-Of-War-JudgementWith the war against the Locust a distant memory, and Marcus Feenix and his squad of tough guys packed off to a cottage in Burnham-on-Sea to live out their days in rural seclusion and sedentary solitude, it now falls to the prequels to keep alive the content rich back plots of the untold tales of the Locust wars.

Enter into the mix the services of one freshly promoted Lt. Baird along with his rag-tag collection of vagabonds from a variety of now defunct battalions, and a healthy dose of storytelling ingenuity, and what you have is one of the finest sci-fi saga’s ever to grace your Xbox360.  For a first foray into the realm of the CoG soldiers and the razor-toothed Locust we have to say that new developer to the record-breaking series, People Can Fly, have done a simply stellar job of reinventing a franchise that had, in effect, closed its doors with the exit of Cliff ‘Cliffy B’ Blezinski and Epic Games.

The storyline produces enough interest to keep the player firmly glued to the screen with its tale of a group of grizzled veterans and handful of raw recruits trying to survive against all the odds in the face of an overwhelming alien invasion, unknown technologies that are far superior to their own weaponry and some of the coolest collection of ‘bad guys’ to be found in any shooter title. But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, and just to make matters positively worse for our band of brothers, our reluctant heroes have to suffer the stiff upper lip of the ruling officer class of the CoG along with their tantrums and petty petulant protruding lower lips, jutting out from below their aquiline noses much like some kind of spoiled 7 year-old who has grabbed his ball and is making off towards home after being signalled for a goal scored whilst offside.

Naturally there is a good deal more to the story than we are revealing here, but rather than give our readers any kind of spoiler, as well as preferring to let the games mechanics, graphics and audio speak for themselves, we prefer, instead, to leave the reader to enjoy all of the undoubted gaming pleasures that await them in this stunning title. In our humble opinion it is much more preferable to leave the plot of Gears: Judgement to unspoiled eyes and minds when you load up your game and install it to your hard drive. We may have the right to inform you all of just how sizzling a title Gears of War Judgement really is, but we feel that what we do not have, regardless of what others may print or publish, is the right to spoil your enjoyment of £50 of your hard-earned cash.

So, then, ever onwards as we describe, without destroying the delectable digital delights, contained within Gears: Judgement.

Visually the franchise has never looked as good as it does with this latest instalment in the best-selling series. Often criticised for its lack of colour, and given the moniker ‘Greys of War’ by critics the World over, Gears has often been called out for its detailed, but drab, backgrounds that were more monochrome in their outlook that multi-coloured. This new title in the franchise has obliterated those past put downs with a bright new take on a universe racked by war.

Gears of War Judgement            GmP Gaming     image 31With this fresh new outlook, and a healthy splash of vibrant colour, Gears: Judgement makes the move away from its ‘Greys’ insult and out into the brilliant blinding sunshine that illuminates the world around you and reveals a depth of clarity not previously seen in any of the three past titles in the critically acclaimed series. Vivid laser blue hues clash perfectly with the contrasting blood-red glow of a world in flames, as the developer brings to life a shattered and ravaged planet whose Human population face total annihilation from the Locust invaders.

The added sparkle afforded to the entire storyline, as it plays out across a series of flashbacks with the gamer stepping into the role of whichever trooper is ‘telling’ the relevant section, is almost tangible thanks to the added drama and realism this altogether more polished approach has delivered. It is almost as if one should sit a little further away from your television screen for fear of the hairs on your arms being singed by the searing heat following any one of the massive explosions detonated by the Locust Horde, or that players should take added care when their character leaps and bounds from cover to cover among the ruins of this once verdant planet for fear of rasping one’s knuckles on the decimated brickwork of a thousand former homes.

If nothing else, but thankfully there is so very much more, the developers at People Can Fly have managed to create a spectacular realm for gamers to inhabit and explore as they take the campaign, whether it be the spectacular solo option  or the cracking Co-oP, or whether they choose to indulge themselves in any one of the magnificent multiplayer modes on offer to them. Speaking of the modes on offer brings us nicely to the gameplay in Gears of War: Judgement.

Some may be forgiven for assuming at first glance that People Can Fly  have introduced a more ‘first person shooter’ format in a ‘third person shooter’ style of game, they would be right, in some aspects, but very wrong in others.

Gears of War Judgement            GmP Gaming     image 9This latest outing for Lieutenant Baird and his ‘motley crew’ of miscreants has many traits associated with any number of top rated titles from Call of Duty to Microsoft’s other flagship franchise: Halo, However, if you assume that just because the new Gears limits players to only be able to carry two weapons at any one time, and that because the button format may well have been altered to better help gamers adapt to the far faster and far more explosive atmosphere and action on offer during the solo and multiplayer sections, then all we can say is that perhaps getting too set in your ways, and expecting each title to be nothing more than an extension of the previous edition with little to no innovation, is something that the minority are happy to settle for, but the vast majority of gamers we have come across are far more accepting of new idea’s and new concepts which breath new life into a series of titles that was, for all intents and purposes, brought to a conclusion by the previous developer.

The Gears: Judgement gameplay has been altered to produce an altogether more speedily paced format better suited for the action that comes at you thick and fast, but when you consider that you are no longer restricted to merely the gruff character of a banadana sporting Marcus Feenix, although there may yet be a surprise or three in store for long time Feenix fans?, then in a way the twin weapon limit for your current avatar is probably just about right considering that should you have been able to transport a far greater arsenal about your person, then no doubt, when you change to whichever CoG veteran or rookie is currently the target of the next chapter in the storyline, it would have been a case of all change anyway for the armaments being carried by your latest character and the whiners and whingers would then have come out with yet more gripes about ‘how you lose all your guns after every level’?

Gears of War Judgement            GmP Gaming     image 4Poor People Can Fly, they try to bring a bit of variety and spice up the proceedings to a long familiar format by incorporating a Tarantino-like touch to the proceedings with their tale being told in a series of flashbacks by varying characters and what do they get?  Damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

But should you able to ‘push through’ the ‘pain and suffering’ caused by carrying only two weapons and being forced into pressing a different button for your grenades then maybe, just maybe, you will actually get beyond the thin crust of complaints made by finicky types and see this truly memorable game for what it is, and that’s a corking romp through some of the most challenging gameplay of any Gears title to date.

With a wealth of new idea’s being added into and already successful formula, for us, there was only ever going to be one way that Gears: Judgement could go, and that was ever skyward. So, leaping into the fray that is the chaos surrounding Baird and the rest of Kilo Squad, we take on the mighty Locust led by Karn as they batter and pound Halvo bay into dust. Grab your Gnasher and your Lancer, people, you are gonna need them! ( both! )

Right from the off players can sense there is something ‘different’ about Gears of War: Judgement, and we don’t just mean the stunning visuals or scintillating audio, wither.  Judgement allows players to have the experience that want, when they want it. Meaning that now, because the game play is set out across any number of flashbacks told from varying members of Kilo Squad’s populous, what you get is the opportunity to either just run through the story in a point A to Point B format, or if you are a little more daring, and a lot more inquisitive, then you can always stroll across to the large red CoG skull glowing on a nearby wall and activate its ‘declassified’ mission parameters. The choice, as they say, is yours.

Selecting the ‘Declassified’ option will introduce the player to a far more trickier prospect, whilst at the same time possibly unearthing a few hidden secrets along the way, but it is in the game play itself that this new addition to the Gears format gets the true benefit of what is, in effect, a bonus difficulty setting for those players considering themselves veterans or capable of withstanding a far more intense assault.

Declassified will task gamers with conditions to attaining its end of level treasures,  the arcade styled ‘star system’ but more on that in a moment, where players must endure all manner of additional constraints such as only being permitted to use a particular weapon, or perhaps you will be asked to complete the level in a set time before the whole place goes up in a blaze of brilliant blue light? Whatever the stipulation, Declassified does add a far greater sense of urgency and commitment to the game play as it tests even the most ardent Gears players’ skills to the very limit of their abilities.

Gears of War Judgement            GmP Gaming     image 13The aforementioned ‘Star System’ is not some fleeting reference to a passing Heavenly body, but instead is the levelling up format for Gears: Judgement’s new outlook.  Players are rewarded for performing everything from execution style finishers, each different from the last and depending on which weapon is currently being carried, as well as reaching and securing objectives, reviving downed comrades or being revived yourself. Working off a three star format it allows players to be richly rewarded for performing daring deeds of heroic activity, such as blowing an enemy to pieces ‘a la Gib’, but similarly what it gives for heroism it takes away for errors. Be warned of you are chasing that perfect level score on a higher difficulty setting, this has been the cause of many hairs being ripped from Gears players heads at three in the morning.

Naturally the weaponry on offer to you to aid you in your task has been selected from the traditional collection of CoG firearms, so expect to see such familiar faces as the Lancer, Retro Lancer, Gnasher Shotgun, Sawn Off and the like, but there are a whole host of new ‘toys’ for you to play with, and all mightily impressive in the destructive lethality. But we must make not of the particularly excellent ‘Tower Defence’ moments during the campaign when Baird and his band of bro’s must defend an area, and so are treated tom placing turrets and auto cannons for protection as they fight off wave after wave of ever increasingly difficult foes. Just brilliant!

As well as being a few friendly ‘faces’ in the arsenal room there are also a few decidedly ‘unfriendly’ fella’s making a return journey also. The Locust Horde has once again been populated by a veritable legion of drooling brutes and looming Berserkers, but just when you thought you had mastered every trick in the invaders handbook People Can Fly have thrown in a few new hulking monsters for you to come up against, and let’s just say that things may not go quite according to plan if you expect to best these big guys with the same tactics that you used in Gears 3, for example?

Moving swiftly onto the available modes in Gears: Judgement brings us to the simply outstanding collection of corkers such as the staggeringly good Co-oP, and the rather excellent Multiplayer.  Co-oP takes players on a four man tour of the solo campaign with each player taking up the role of a member of Kilo Squad, naturally. Nut it is in the upscale of the games intensity and action that is most noteworthy as the enemy combatants come thick, fast and full of fury in their murderous intent at breaking through your well placed defences and ripping your spinal column out of your neck.

Multiplayer is made of memorable modes such as the obligatory Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, ( Co-oP as well as multiplayer, of course ),  but there are also two new additions to the menu that will have fans of the franchise grinning like loons thanks to its wonderful game play.  The first up is Overrun, a kind of non-stop heart pounding thrill-a-minute that has players fighting off wave after wave of advancing Locust troops in what has to be one of the finest new additions to the Judgement title. The second is Survival, which vans of the series will no doubt recognise as Horde. This is basically the Co-oP version of Overrun, with the same format of waves of enemies all making a mad dash in their bid to be the first one to claim your scalp, albeit in a Co-oP only setting. Both are outstanding!

Gears of War Judgement            GmP Gaming     image 27jpgWith that in mind maybe, then, those few detractors complaining about having to now make a decision, on such ‘taxing’ options as which weapon to carry and which to relinquish in favour of a preferred firearm, or perhaps even the brow-furrowing problematical poseur that is having to re-learn how to press ‘X’ instead of ‘Y’ to achieve a desired result, should leave games to contemplate what they would have been doing over the last 48 hours should People Can Fly have not bothered to bring their own brand of magic and digital manipulation to the CoG Conflict?  There always Kinectimals? Maybe that would suffice? But, then again ‘no’, that would involve having to learn how to play yet another new game with an entirely new set of control options, and that just will not do!   Apparently?

We actually laughed hard and long at one individual’s aimless ranting on Youtube as he spouted forth such immortal one-liners, complete with foaming mouth and trembling accusatory finger, as he proceeded to inform all and sundry on how ‘This is no longer a true Gears game, because I can only carry two weapons now,  it makes it harder, and I keep dying a lot more ‘.   We kid you not!

As you may have been able to glean from our sentiments here at GmP, we are not among the gaggle of doe-eyed detractors currently waving their fists at the TV screens and cursing like a sailor about the ‘horrors’ of the new Gears format to anyone who will listen. ( and let’s be honest here, there aren’t that many ) People Can Fly have come along and managed to re-ignite the fires that once burned so fiercely and brightly in the boiler room of one of the finest sci-fi ‘ships’ ever to leave the ‘Port of Microsoft’. Gameplay so intense it positively sizzles as it builds to a thunderous crescendo at the spectacular finale. Graphics so smooth that French Polishers were seen to be actually weeping outside the Oxford Street branch of GAME.  Audio so realistic it’s almost like having the entire crew of Industrial Light and Magic camped in your spare room as they experiment and tinker with their equipment as they create the sound effects for Star Wars VII.

And you want us to score this marvellous title down just because you have to judge between shotgun or sniper rifle,  or learn to redo an action with ‘X’ button or ‘Y’?  No, dear foul-mouthed fatalists, it is not Gears of War that has changed, it is you! You have, somewhere along the way, lost your love and passion for innovation in gaming,  and desire for more from an industry at the very height of its game. Where once you thrilled at the prospect of a new game being placed into your console, veritably shaking at the prospect of sinking your digital ‘teeth’ into the meaty contents awaiting your salivating taste buds, caring not about having to master a new set of controls any more than you cared about the cost of the game, or even the fact that you had just queued for 6 hours straight in the pouring rain outside a wind-swept store in Bradford just to get your hands on the damn thing. The only thing that mattered was the sensations it produced as you marvelled at its magnificent content. If such paltry issues such as only being able to tote two types of blunder buss or the fact that the developers have changed the grenade toss from left bumper to left trigger are the deciding factors over how much you enjoyed playing their game? Well, let’s just say that we feel sorry for you. A passion that one gave you so much pleasure has, it seems, slipped from your grasp.

number-9-pool-ballGears of War: Judgement is a fantastic title, and one that will stand the test of time regardless of what naysayers attempt to convince you of. The action is exemplary and the visuals are flawless. But as a replay prospect its value is enhanced considerably by its simply outstanding Co-oP and Multiplayer Modes.  Do not waste time listening to half-baked fanboyish rants trying to convince you that this game is something it’s not, or you will miss out on one of the years greatest third person shooter titles. People Can Fly have rekindled the dying embers of a fire almost extinguished by the exit of Epic Games and Cliffy B, give them the credit they deserve and go out and buy this game now, and indulge in all its many delights for what they are, not what other people fail to perceive them to be.   Gears of War: Judgement scores a worthy  9 out of 10

 

Developer:   People Can Fly

Publisher:     Microsoft Game Studios

Version Tested:    Xbox360 Exclusive

 

 

 

HISTORY Legends of War: Patton review

History Legends of War Patton                   GmP Gaming    image logo 1PQube launch their latest top down strategy title as players step into the esteemed shoes of one General Patton now less. But will this be a hit or miss for the tank battalions of the Third Army? Let’s find out in the GamesMediaPro review of History Legends of War: Patton.

Never one to miss out on a military shooter of any description we were pleased when the review code for PQube’s strategy based tank blaster History Legends of War: Patton arrived at the office. ( regular readers will already know that the reason the review has not be released already is due to the fact that we actually complete the full game on the highest difficulty settings before we publish )So, after strapping on our tank commanders outfit and climbing into the turret of our Sherman we kicked the thrumming engine into gear and headed for the battle. Next stop…Berlin!

Rather than this being a glowing account of Patton’s military career, after all this is a review of the game not the general, we have opted to dive headlong into this capable console strategy title, and all of the cover based action that it contains therein.

History Legends of War: Patton is a very different beast to what most console players will have grown accustomed too. ‘Yes’, the action is there, and ‘yes’, there is a competent campaign made up of a staggering amount of missions and objectives, but it is in the way that the developer has managed to avoid the basic mistakes of most other consoles-based strategy titles that  is worthy of note.

Instead of merely streamlining a complicated PC control system down to its basic functions for the Playstation, Xbox360 and PC, PQube have, instead, managed to bring an impressive amount of the original functions across to the console players in this very impressive port. Naturally there are still some area’s where an extra button press may well have been a welcome bonus, but there is no glaring ‘deal breaker’ poking its head out from cover waiting to pop a sniper round at your head as it looks to take you out in unceremonious fashion. Rather, what the developer has managed to accomplish is a smooth set of controls that will leave the player in no doubt that due diligence and attention to detail was impressed upon the development team at Maximum Games.

History Legends of War        GmP Gaming   image 1Graphically the game is a stunning rendition of the horror and destruction of the biggest conflict the world has ever seen. But even in the build up to some of the impressive action, the way that the developer has managed to show the beauty of the Normandy countryside before it is turned to a sea of blood and bodies, is quite remarkable.  If you have watched any of the trailers on our Youtube channel in the build up to the game, and lets face it of course you did, then you will have no doubt been suitably enamoured to the brightly lit gameplay zones and the stunning backdrops that ply host to the devastation that you unleash upon your enemies in the foreground.

Visually sublime, and with an eye for the minutae that is sometimes lost on the strategy genre, History Legends of War: Patton has entered into this challenging arena with a strong opening salvo with this first in an undoubted series of turn based wartime titles.

The back story to the game plays out across a war-torn European campaign that see’s Patton leading his post D-Day assault on the Axis troops with his distinguished 3rd Army. Make no mistake, all that you have heard, and all that you know of the outspoken general and his upstanding men, is true. This was no ordinary battalion, no hotchpotch of conscripts and nondescript’s thrust into the theatre of war against their will as that sat cowering in fox holes dreaming of loves labours lost back home. Oh no! This was an elite fighting force of extremely capable men who followed their general, as he led from from the front, and obeyed his every command as if it were the word of God, and it is because of this undying devotion and unswerving loyalty to Patton that his best laid plans were able to pulled off with such swift and devastating precision.

With that in mind you step into the well polished cavalry boots of the esteemed Patton and assume his role before leading your crack fighting force into the Devil’s Cauldron that was France in 1944. The historical accuracy transported across to their title by Maximum Games is incredible in its completeness, as you lead the  3rd Army in an almost ‘blitzkrieg’ fashion against the cream of the Waffen SS Panzer Divisions and German armoured defences before steamrollering your way across France and into the heartland of a beleaguered Germany. Particular praise has to be shown to the developers as they have ‘flowered up’ little in this exemplary historical heavy hitter, rather letting the explosive realism of a world in flames speak for itself and provide all of the action necessary to leave gamers pausing for breath.

History Legends of War Patton                   GmP Gaming    image 2Split across 21 varying missions and locations, the vast majority of which can all be traced back to Patton and the 3rd Army’s progress, the story moves along at a steady pace, and forces players to utilise every scrap of intel and gleaned piece of knowledge about the upcoming battlefield, such as weather conditions and terrain, if they are to command their men to yet another rousing and moral boosting victory. Cover is imperative, and to make the best use of every ounce of broken ground, shattered building and burned out vehicle is to keep as many of your men alive as possible. Remember, you have large boots to fill as Patton had a thirteen-to-one kill to death ratio throughout his WWII campaign.

Gameplay-wise, History Legends of War: Patton ticks all the right boxes of what a turn based military strategy title ‘should’ be, and then adds impressive visuals, stunning backdrops, realistic audio, and simply outstanding action into the mix to complete the mash-up.

Although PC players may, of course, be claiming that they have the game in its purest form, considering the amount of key presses and mappable controls that they have at their fingertips, for once console gamers can now actually hold their heads aloft when getting into the conversation on a multi platform RTS title. Maximum Games have done a sterling job of granting the consoles a complete control format that will never once leave the player wishing for extra fingers, buttons or menu’s as they prepare for battle.

Controlling an 8 ‘man’ unit, players must use everything at their disposal, from men to snipers, armoured personal carriers, troop transports and tanks, with which to make a tactical advance against a highly mobile and thoroughly experienced opposition force. Patton learned very early in his career that to merely ask a soldier to ‘wear his uniform and kill the enemy’ as they charged headlong into the fray was not the way to win victories, let alone the hearts and minds of his men. This careful approach was often overlooked by Patton’s detractors as the general often ignored the advice and wishes of superiors and colleagues alike, earning him a ruthless reputation that is somewhat against the grain when you consider that as a leader of men he brought more of his troops home to their wives and children than any other military commander. This thoughtful outlook, with an emphasis on meticulous preparation and planning, led Patton to a string of famous victories and is something that gamers must adhere to if they too are to follow in the footsteps of one of modern military histories greatest leaders.

History Legends of War Patton                   GmP Gaming    image 1You may choose to just lead an all assault on the enemy positions, much in the style of a Napoleonic frontal attack with your men thrown to the wolves, so to speak? Of course, there will be a lot of resets, starts and checkpoint returns as you are constantly butchered by the well dug in German forces. Or, you may choose to actually use what is on offer to you and position your men behind appropriate cover and carefully plan each barrage of fire before bringing up your armour to mop up the positions?

The controls will aid you in whatever decision you ultimately choose to make, but there is only so much the game can do for you, and so ultimately to must plan your strategies well if you are to avoid the fitting for a pine overcoat before too much longer?

In a nice touch the game has made good use of the upgrade system, allowing players to unlock bonus items and previously unavailable units after each mission. Naturally, however, these ‘unlocks’ will only become open to you should you have managed to complete the required mini objective along the way? Of course, there are a whole host of additional extra’s such as the amount of cash which players are rewarded with after the expected completion of designated task.

Of course, there are moments of repetition but they are hardly enough to warrant even scant attention, such as the over use of soldiers names and the like. All told this first outing, for what is surely to be the beginning of a new series of military based strategy titles from Maximum Games and publisher PQube, has won over far many more actual fans than reviewers it would seem. Although, as ever, we are to be the exception to the rule, it would seem?

number-7-pool-ballHistory Legends of War: Patton is a competent and very capable RTS title with some striking visuals, excellent use of in-game audio and some surprisingly adept controls. If you are a fan of the genre, but have always been deterred from playing a strategy game on consoles for fear of the usual collection of calamities that make up the control system, then fear not, as developer Maximum games have alleviate the need for frowns and turned them upside down with a simplistic approach that is a breath of fresh air. Pick this up today and follow in the footsteps of a true war hero.   7 out of 10

 

Developer:   Maximum Games

Publisher:   PQube

Version Tested:   Xbox360