Category: PS3

Pacman and the Ghostly Adventures 2 : Review

Pacman ATGA 2                        GmP                          image  2

Pacman ATGA 2                        GmP                          image  Xbox360 boxart 1Nostalgia abounds as Bandai Namco takes gamers to the wonderful world of that pill-munching maniac in Pacman and the Ghostly Adventures 2.

We don’t know about you guys but we always have something of a mixed bag of emotions when we get into a Pacman title.  The juxtaposed problem of controlling a soul forever destined to be tormented by demons and ghouls as he hungrily amasses as many ‘pellets’ as he can before his ultimate demise.

This unfortunate happy soul who finds himself endlessly chased around a manic maze of masochistic design eternally trapped in his Groundhog Day of Doom, destined to endure all manner of frantic endeavor’s as he desperately attempts to collect the ‘pills’, ( for what is anyone’s guess? Perhaps he some kind of cyber ‘doctor without a border’ and is delivering the much needed medication to sick and injured Pacmen and Pacwomen all across his brightly lit galaxy? we may never know? ).

One thing we do know, however, is that this melancholy memory of Pacman, forever tormented by his incessant pursuers, is still one of the most poignant gaming experiences from our childhood and to this day brings us warm fuzzy memories of arcades filled with cheerful kids all clutching their shiny coins as they waited their turn to deliver their own brand of mental torture to this lovable character.

With that you can imagine the unadulterated levels of glee that greeted the arrival of the latest Pacman adventure from Bandai Namco.  Fever pitch comes to mind.

Leaping right into the action, after the mandatory PlayStation install, we are greeted with the sprawling urban cityscape of ‘Pacopolis’. This vast concrete jungle is to be the home of Pacman’ls latest outing as we kick off things at the young ‘pill poppers’ school.

To get you all up to sped on the games storyline, which is set prior to the massive fame of Pacman’s original outing, we take on the role of the happy yellow chappy when he is still a ‘teenager’ and pounding the corridors of Pacopolis High School. Of course, this also means that because these events are set before the madcap antics of the original title that Pacman’s one time enemies, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde – the four-pronged attack from the poltergeist brigade, are now actually Pacman’s friends and instead of trying to gobble you up, the foursome would rather engage in more mundane matters such as a chat. ( its good to talk )

Moving on we come to the point where we discovered, much to our dismay, that Pacman is still catering towards a younger audience, ( although it has to be said that the secret ‘big kid’ inside was thrilled nonetheless ), and whilst this is great for the kiddie gamers it does leave rose-tinted old fools like myself longing for the salad days to return. Alas, they cannot, and do not.

In some respects it is ridiculous to think that the game was going to be anything other than it has always been, a fun fuelled romp for the younger players, and though the fans who enjoyed the original game all those long years ago may well have grown into adults..well, most of us anyway…it is inevitable, then, that disappointment would abound for those looking for something more challenging.

Pacman ATGA 2                        GmP                          image 1So, looking at Pacman The Ghostly Adventures 2 from the perspective of the audience it was designed to impress, the under tens, we have to be fair and say that it does just that; ‘ impress ‘.

The dialogue, whilst some may argue is a little light for the more adult players, is just interesting enough to hold a child’s attention without distracting it from the job at hand, and in that respect it does exactly what the developers set out to do.

The gameplay is extremely simple for adults but, ( again ), extremely entertaining for children. The 3D environments offer up excellent opportunities for free roaming styled exploration and enjoyable experiences gobbling down ghosties and ghoulies, and whilst there are, inexcusably from a more experienced adults point of view, a few glitches and hitches along the way it is still nothing that will put a dampener on a seven year-old’s enthusiasm. Though it has to be said there were a couple of apopleptic moments when we fell through the map during a frantic chase scene returning us to the games Pac Hub.

However, if you thought that this latest version of the munching machine was going to be just a top-down emulation of a thirty something year-old game, then think again. Ghostly Adventures brings with it a whole wealth of brand new features ( new to us ‘oldies’ but part and parcel of just ‘how the game is‘ for the new audience ).

Included in the new additions to the more traditional style of Pacman gameplay are the outstanding use of ‘morphing’ abilities that permit Pacman to transform his shape after ingesting a particular ‘pellet. The new found powers come in extremely handy when traversing the varied zones and environments. For example, after downing a certain tablet Pacman evolves into a giant ‘boulder’ which can quite literally crush his enemies and flatten walls and obstacles blocking his way. Then there is the chuckle-fest ‘chameleon’ which allows Players to alter the shape of their giant yellow ball so that he can use his elastic tongue to grab passing posts and signs in order to swing around them like some demented Tarzan…er, or not…?

Of course, the fun isn’t limited to merely tearing off ramps as a giant rock, rolling over bad guys or swinging on a lamp post like a big yellow Gene Kelly doing a digital rendition of ‘Singing in the Rain’.Not by a long chalk.

Pacman can now also inflate himself and float around Pacopolis as he is carried around the zones on the air currents gently blowing you here and there. He can also turn invisible to avoid being spotted under the ever watchful searchlights.

Naturally your new found abilities also play a vital role in the games combat system, and when you combine your new found skills and mix them up with a little of the fire and/or ice, which are used not only as weapons but as environmental aids, then Pacman sure does give those pesky ghosts a good pasting as he races, floats, bashes and dashes around the gameplay zones.

Pacman ATGA 2                        GmP                          image  2All of these new additions to the way that Pacman is played have their individual uses, and they are all necessary at some point or other during the games progression, but purists will not doubt howl and gnash their teeth at this ‘blasphemy’, yet nevertheless the kids will scratch their heads and look at them like they are crazy because, overall, they add new flavour and dimensions to the gameplay.

Level design has been constructed purely with the young, or young at heart even, in mind and if you cannot see that then you are in for a rough time of it as you breeze your way through the games simplistic puzzles, pitfalls and play.

With a definite learning curve that soon overtakes and races past the games opening painfully easy levels Pacman  and his second helping of Ghostly Adventures, will soon be more than a challenge for even the most deft of younger gamers. Although, it has to be said, that accomplished players will find nothing too difficult. Make no mistake, however, as this is still an excellent platformer and the enormous fun contained within its coding, particularly in the Co-oP play, cannot be overlooked by pooh-poohing naysayers crying out for a more taxing trial.

Speaking of the platforming, and we were, the best part of the game going from 2D to 3D is the interactive world and the madcap races and chases under, over and around every kind of obstacle at warp factor 9. Seriously, if you love platform games and don’t find this enjoyable then you are dead from the controller up.

As hinted at previously the Co-oP mode, for you and up to three friends, is a real hoot with players taking on the roles of the hunters, ( and ultimately the hunted as the Yellow Peril grabs a power pill ),, before entering into 3D renditions of the classic maze game of the original title.

Playing this Co-oP with a family friend and their nine year-old allowed me to visit the Pacman I knew of old, and once again be mesmerized by the colourful graphics, interesting audio and catchy background music. Heady days spent funneling ten pence piece after ten pen piece into the slot of my local arcade machine, and then racing home to see what jobs I could do around the home to acquire some more after my exploration of the many mazes and zones was abruptly cut short by the chomping choppers of any one of the marauding ghosts.

It is quite surprising for me, personally, to fathom out why gamers who who enjoyed Pacman all those years ago, so much so that they enter into this new version with almost childlike anticipation of how it plays, are then disappointed enough to try and warn parents off buying it with poor reviews. Simply because, unlike the very embittered reviewers themselves, Pacman has remained 7 years-old whilst they, physically anyhow, have matured into adults.

number-7-pool-ballIf you are the proud parents of the odd rugrat or two, and you were considering buying Pacman The Ghostly Adventures 2 then please, follow my advice and make the purchase. You and your ankle-biters will be so glad that you did. You for the many hours of joyful bliss as they whizz their way around the many brightly coloured levels and zones, and your children as they get to sample the same kind of wonderment as you yourself did at their age when you first spent time with the lovable yellow funster.  In fact, go one better: grab yourself a second controller, toss a third to Mum and get stuck in to some cracking Co-oP. You may find that you smile like you never have for 30 years.      Pacman and the Ghostly Adventures 2 scores a fully  justified 7 out of 10

 

TITLE:                                      PACMAN AND THE GHOSTLY ADVENTURES 2          
FORMAT:                                  PLAYSTATION 3    [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:                        MONKEY BAR
                                                    BANDAI NAMCO
PUBLISHER:                         BANDAI NAMCO

AVAILABLE PLATFORMS:                     Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3,  Wii U, Xbox 360

SCORE OUT OF 10:               7 OUT OF 10

Sacred 3 review

Sacred 3                         GmP Gaming image logo 1

The third installment of the highly enjoyable fantasy romp takes players on a fun-filled excursion through ‘hack and slash land’ as Sacred 3 take gamers back down the familiar ARPG format for its latest outing.

Make no mistake, sometimes there is nothing more enjoyable than getting home after a hard days work and slipping into the Rocker with a few cold ones within arms reach and then letting all your pent-up anger and frustration loose in one foul temper as you cleave your way through a hack and slash title. Scared 3 will satisfy that urge, but what if you are looking for something a little deeper? What if you want a more meaningful, more involved RPG experience instead of just button-mashing blood-letting?

Well, you should have bloody well installed Skyrim or Dark Souls 2 then shouldn’t you!

I ask you, all this whining in the reviews and crocodile-teared rants by outraged ‘gamers’ is just beyond me? Didn’t you guys see any of the trailers? Didn’t you read any of the preview articles, the mountains of press releases or forum debates?

You did? Then what the Hell is your problem?

Scared 3 made no promises to be the next Elder Scrolls clone. Nor did it make any kind of outlandish move towards being the arcade version The Witcher. No, instead what the developers ‘told’ us all it would, it was. A hack and slash time-killer that would be an arcade take on a classic format. And if you just go into the game with your eyes wide open as opposed to having them blinkered by fanboyism or spoiled brat syndrome then you would enjoy this action-packed romp for the bubblegum gaming event that it clearly is.

A polished performance with vibrant graphics Scared 3 makes no excuses for taking the franchise in a new direction, but boy! have some unforgiving types ever got their panties wedged firmly in their butt cheeks about it?

Sacred 3                         GmP Gaming image  1Sacred 3 may have one foot in the Diablo camp with the other firmly wedged somewhere between God of War and Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine this is a title that has enough going on in it to keep you more than happy for a good 6-10 hours, but if it is depth and character dialogue you are looking for then perhaps something with a little more substance would better suit your needs.

That’s not to say that the game does not have any kind of storyline or continuing plot, far from it. Scared 3  builds around a tale of a group of heroes coming together to defeat an unholy collection of minor demons and foes on the way to battling it out with the ‘Main Baddie’. Inspiring and original it may not be, but then again how many other videogames with storylines exactly the same as this have been fawned over by gushing ‘ree-voowers’ year in and year out?  Pretty much the entire RPG and Hack and Slash genres.

The combat ahs been simplified to allow for quick and pleasant button-mashing, although it has to be said that there are a goodly amount of attacks and spells to be going on with, and the vast majority of them have devastatingly satisfying results.

Missions are standard fare with a linear pre-ordained feel to them, but then again this is not billed as an open world title, more so Scared 3 revels in it’s no nonsense arcade feel and delivers wave upon wave of screaming, blood thirsty enemies for you to contend with instead of wandering aimlessly around the gamezones hour after hour as you search for some nondescript flower or herb to make a slave for your festering wounds before you bleed out.

Sacred 3                         GmP Gaming image  2Of course, one glaring issue that we could not forgive, although hopefully we will be able to forget, is the completely inane humour littering the dialogue. It feels like you have to tip-toe your way through a field of festering dog turds as you pursue a pack of incontinent hounds across the realm such are ‘jokes’ and ‘witty’ one-liners from the characters.

Quite why the developer thought that giving such prose to their line up is anyone’s guess, but after listening to a preening priest cry our ‘Sexy’ after every fight, introduction of a female character, pause in the game, load screen and weapon selection is just one step too far. Of course, it isn’t really that bad but it is that grating and so ultimately it will make it seem like the battlemage utters that drivel every other minute.

The combat itself is pretty straight forward with players requiring little more than a couple of active digits to get the most out of the game, but there are brief interludes where gamers will have the opportunity to level up skills and attributes thanks to the XP system, but if truth be told there is little incentive to do just that with a small helping of spells and skills that require little to no tweaking.

That being said the opportunity to upgrade ‘is’ there for those of you out there who wish it, but in the cold light of day it is little more than frosting on a very ordinary Victoria sponge cake.

Naturally with any kind of change there are always going to be some things that cause the expected gripes, and Sacred 3 does have its share of those, most particularly with the total loss of the unique races and the individuality that each character class and race brought to the games appeal.

Many will argue that Scared 3 has moved too far away from what gave the game its likeable appeal in the first place, and some of the points are right in their assessment, but as we stated earlier if you go into the game with your eyes open and do not expect anything more than a time-killer that is not too taxing on the grey matter then you will not be as disappointed as some, it would seem.

number 6 pool ballAll told Sacred 3 does many things, most of them with lukewarm mediocrity and some of them just outright wrong, but overall the mainstay of this arcade role-playing game is average. Decent visuals and smooth gameplay are the order of the day with the storyline doing just enough to keep gamers interested without having them perched on the edge of their seats. Combat is passable and yet the RPG aspects of the XP collection and expenditure are overlooked in favour of a more linear outlook. To offer up a score of around a 5 would seem pretty justifiable, but we will add an extra point to Sacred 3 for its honesty in that the developer never used spin doctors and bullshit to sell their game, and delivered on exactly what they promised instead.                6 out of 10

FINAL THOUGHT:

One point we would like to raise in defence of Sacred 3 is this latest obsession with both the console camps of Microsoft and Sony banging on and on about the joys of the indie developer. It would seem, then, that just as long as an established studio does not have the sheer audacity to attempt to bring a bubblegum game to the masses then that is okay.  What do we mean by this? Let us explain:

Had Sacred 3 been developed by a studio such as Coffee Stain, for example, then perhaps the reviewers would have been a lot more forgiving than they are. It seems to us here at GmP that when a developer that has tasted success, or one that has the good sense to affiliate themselves to a publishing house, makes an out-and-out arcade title that they are then vilified for said game. You would think that with both sets of Xbox and Sony fanboys waffling on day in and day out about the merits of smaller arcade and indie titles that when they actually got one they would just have the good grace to enjoy the damn thing instead of pulling it to pieces in their over exuberant state of ‘everything is shit’ journalism just to score hits with the viewer count.

 

TITLE:                         Sacred 3
FORMAT:                    PlayStation 3                           [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:               Keen Games

PUBLISHER:                Deep Silver

 

RELEASE DATE:         NA August 5, 2014

EU August 1, 2014

                  
PRICE:                            Sacred 3         GAME UK         £37.99

PEGI RATING:               PEGI 16
SCORE OUT OF 10:      6 OUT OF 10

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 review

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2          GmP Gaming               image  coverart 1Namco Bandai join forces with legendary videogame developer Tecmo Koei as One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 hacks its way onto the Playstation 3.

Aah, Tecmo Koei. That name alone conjures up many a happy memory along with such stalwarts of gaming’s salad days such as Taito and Atari. But, whereas the last two of the trio are reduced to merely bit part players in todays videogame market with titles such as the handheld horrors of the ‘With Mama’ series for Taito, and as for the one time industry giant Atari? Well, the less said about their involvement in today’s gaming scene the better. No need to completely tear our childhoods to shreds by ripping through the designers of our digital dreams of the day.

But, there is still one member of the original trinity that holds its head up among todays designers and developers thanks to their dogged determination and production of one of the longest-serving franchises in videogame history. They are Tecmo Koei. The game is Dynasty Warriors.

If ever a studio has stuck to an original format like glue and steadfastly refused to budge, bow to opinion or concede to the changing face and tastes of todays videogamers then it has to be Tecmo with Dynasty Warriors. More of the same heaped in big healthy dollops of digital destruction, murder and mayhem has been the order of the day for the Tecmo title ever since is conception back in 1997.  But, unfortunately the disappointing sales and harsh critique from the World’s gaming press for the eighth iteration of the long-running title may just have finally sounded the death knell for this one time flagship favourite.

So, then, where to now for the very obvious talents behind one of Japan’s longest running videogame series? What next? Well, enter stage right the next generation of the Dynasty Warrior titles: One Piece Pirate Warriors. The spin-off of the main franchise has already reached sequel stages, with the original game launch hardly making a more than a mere whimper in its day,.

Originally launched as more of an homage during the 15 Year Celebrations of the manga based anime series, OPPW, as we will call it from here on in, was well received by anime fans and followers of the animated TV series, but the main problem with being a target specific, single platform title these days is that you are niche even in a small audience of niche gamers. It’s all well and good quoting the figures of people who watch manga, anime, cartoons and who read anime comics as  your potential customer base but the truth of the matter is that actual sales numbers more often than not prove that TV anime fans don’t necessarily by anime videogames.

The first game of this duo was more in keeping with the originators story, but the sequel,  One Piece Pirate Warriors 2, has new ‘arcs’ that were either omitted from last years launch, or that have been written in to the story to follow on the adventures of Luffy, the games main character.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2          GmP Gaming               image 1This moves us nicely into the games current plot which see’s the hero, teenage pirate captain, named Monkey D Luffy, accidentally eating the fruit of the ‘Gum Gum  Tree’. From here on in, and pretty much for no reason whatsoever, Luffy decides to set off in search of fabled treasure with his band of bloodthirsty brigands and cut throats, better known to their victims as ‘The Straw Hats': hence ‘Pirate Warriors’, although just where the ‘One Piece’ comes from is anyone’s guess? Maybe it denotes the rather fetching attire of some of the swashbuckling pirates? Or maybe it just concentrates on female NPC ‘Nami’ and the fact that after the ‘Gap’, ( an event which takes place early on in the One Piece tale ), this foxy lady begins to wear little more than one article of clothing at any given moment in time.

Of course, Luffy the Pirate does have a few more anime staples among his crew, the Caruso Killer who ticks the ‘token black’ box, as well as ‘Smoker’, a surly beefcake who is to be found living up to his name by constantly chewing on twin stogies, who also puts his mark in the ‘Angry White Man’  pigeon-hole. Next up comes a Japanese ever-present with a girl who controls lightning, ( enter any Square Enix title to date here ), and last but not least comes the pretty much everyday humdrum power of the girl who can makes limbs and appendages sprout forth from the ground at any designated time and place.  Well, ‘everyday and humdrum’ if you inhabit the mad cap world of the anime fan on a regular basis.

Topping off all of that mix of manga mentalism comes  Cap’n Jack Monkey who, thanks to his ‘accidental’ chomping down of the Gum Gum fruit now finds that he can mould, bend and stretch his body into pretty much any shape and length as he quite literally has turned his skin and bones into…er, well…‘gum’. But now that you consider the amount of times this newly acquired talent is required by Monkey-Beard in his quest for the lost treasure of the Generican’s, then you begin to question how ‘innocent’ and ‘accidental’ his fruit feast really was.

Moving along we come to the gameplay, which is, in all honesty, fairly standard anime fare with the usual blend of intensely over the top chock-sockey action and the odd gratuitous cleavage or VW shot thrown in to the mix just for good measure, not to mention to appease the spotty faced teenagers everywhere who are all clamouring for some Japanese Geisha action.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2          GmP Gaming               image 2In a set up that has been more or less directly lifted from Dynasty Warriors, players are once more given little else to do other than spam the action button as you blaze through an absolute shoulder-to-shoulder army of enemies before ultimately facing down the zones ‘Boss’. It is here that players will get to sample the benefits that they procured when they accidentally munched on the Gum Gum fruit, by which we mean that you will unleash the deadly arsenal of ‘Gum Gum’ Powers.  These mystical maulers will allow ‘Long John Luffy’ to alter his form and take advantage of any visible weakness in his opponents armour, as well as morphing his body into everything from racing cars to comedy size fists and hammers.

Now, stereotypical anime affairs over, we come to the point where Pirates has made its greatest innovations. The combat. Although there are still the very familiar Dynasty Warriors undertones running right throughout the entire format, Pirates does have endearing qualities in its epic moves and abilities and the outrageously over the top ‘specials’ moments that anime fans have come to know and expect in their titles.  Whether you are whipping the air with your rubberized arms and bringing an anvil sized fist down to the crush the skulls of opponents like egg shells, players are given an impressive arsenal of abilities with which to bring the pain to their foes.

The combat, much like much of the humour in Pirates, is eccentric and exaggerated, but it works perfectly. OPPW has far greater depth and much more range than its natural predecessor: Dynasty Warriors, and because of this the battles, ambush’s, raids and all out warfare is far more satisfying.  Although it has to be said that the re-mapping of the more beneficial jump button to the mediocre ‘evade/roll’ manoeuvre, we feel, was a step backwards.

Players familiar with Tecmo’s earlier titles will notice that they also have a far greater assortment of attacking options than they ever did in Dynasty Warriors. Though the basics of Pirates combat are indeed the same: players have two standard attack buttons, which will instigate a devastating “rage” state when one bar is complete, and then unleash a powerful ‘Musou’ assault when the other meter is filled. It must be noted, also, that the NPC crew members are of far great use during moments of mayhem, and actually become beneficial in combat, more so than any other format of a similar nature in previous Tecmo, or indeed other anime styled titles.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2          GmP Gaming               image 3So, what’s to do in the land of the One Piece Pirate Warrior? Well, when you first put to sea in Tecmo Koei’s latest vessel you will find that there is but a single course that your ship may follow, that being the Pirate Log. This is basically the ‘single player campaign’ of Pirates and, as such, is the mode you must conquer, in any one of the three difficulty settings, to unlock further features of the game. Pirate Log is made up of split level stories that meld into chapters to ultimately form the entire original plot of this latest One Piece tale. For fan’s of the anime favourite looking to see a rehashing of the TV series then they must understand that is a totally independent story to the one that they may be used to.

So, one you have taken on the might of the Marines, the main protagonists and one of just several rival ‘clans’ you must contend with, conquered and ‘conquested’ the Seven Sea’s and the monsters and terrors contained therein, you will then be able to assault such tasks as unlocking any one of the 27 NPC’s available. Thus allowing them to become fully-fledged characters in their own right, and who now become part of your selection process in the games pause menu, and at the start of missions.

After unlocking said ‘characters’ and removing them from the ranks of the NPC and adding them to your own playable roster, you may now also opt to play through a specially tailored ‘Tough As Nails’ setting, thoughtfully put together for the more experienced player. Alternatively there will also be online and local Co-oP Modes for players to delve into and enjoy.

Ultimately One Piece Pirate Warrior 2 will come over to gamers as a kind of ‘marmite’. You will either love it or hate it.  The very same things that some may feel are just repetitive, run-of-the-mill affairs may be the exact same things why anime fan’s love it. There is no middle ground here. ‘Yes’, it looks and plays like another reskinning of Dynasty Warriors, but again, that’s why some players adore its format. And ‘yes’, ,one more you will be tasked with cutting through swathes of bad guys with mirrored powers and abilities in order to progress, much like any one of Tecmo’s titles from Fist of the North Star to Gundam Warriors, but again, this is just what devotee’s to the series are looking for.

number-8-pool-ballThis, we feel, is ultimately the bane and boon of anime styled action fighters the World over. Too niche to have mainstream appeal, and to specialized to ever break free of the niche pigeon-hole. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that we have come to something of a first in GmP reviews history: an impasse. On one side of the room we have the staff members who are new to the franchise. Facing them, we have the disciples of anime, complete with Cos Play swords and menacing looks.  The newcomers want to award the game no higher than a six, citing its standard format, repetitive gameplay and almost childlike Pokémon graphics, as opposed to the more adult anime that they were hoping for, as its main flaws.  Whereas, we have the fans of the game who want to award One Piece Pirates 2 a whopping 9 for exactly the same reasons that the newcomers want to mark it down?  What to do, dear readers, what to do?  The answer is simple, we find the middle ground, the place we thought could not exist in any manga/anime game, and we award Pirates a completely correct 8 out of 10 for the reason put forward by both parties.

 

Developer:                       Tecmo Koei

Publisher:                        Namco Bandai   

Version Tested:              Playstation 3  ( PSN digital download )

Rating:                              8 out of 10     

 

The Last of Us review

The Last of Us                       GmP GamingNaughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic shock horror title takes gamers on another thrill-a-minute ride through the desolate destruction of a future nightmare which not only pits man against infected, but against each other as the fight for survival takes on bitter proportions.

As we near the end of the current generation of videogame consoles one thing is evident from the titles making up the 2013 line up of the outgoing hardware, and that is that developers have begun to wring every last drop of processing power out of the dated tech. Nowhere is this more evident than at Naughty Dog studio’s, where the men and women behind such stellar Sony exclusives as the outstanding Uncharted series have managed to create some of the most memorable titles of this entire outgoing generation, and, judging from the developers latest ‘swan song’ for the 8th gen Playstation 3, it would seem that the award-winning studio is determined to end this generation and begin the next with a veritable feast of sublime visuals and simply stellar gameplay as they treat Playstation players to The Last of Us.

Don’t misunderstand the object of the review, however, this is not just another gushing article full of repeated sound bites, snippets and quotes from a myriad of fawning websites and publications. Not by a long chalk. We do have issues with The Last Of Us, some of them glaringly so, but more on that later. To the review!!

It was always going to be a tough ask for Naughty Dog, coming off the back of the enormous success of their previous titles, and then adding to that pressure the studio’s severance from the comfort zone they had built in and around the Uncharted series, but hats off to them: they took the step of moving away from the ‘safe and assured’ and out into the uncertain prospects of a brand new IP.  In that respect alone we have to give credit where credit is due, as had this been any one of an alphabet of other developers then you can bet your last penny that a sequel to their award-winning adventure franchise would have been on the cards.  But hold the hearty handshakes and cork that Naughty Dog celebratory champagne just for a moment.

As the world prepared to honour their decision to take the studio in a new direction, as the promises of such undertakings, with a totally different style of title, ends there.  In our opinion, instead of following up on their initial decision to branch out into not only a new genre but also to do it with a totally fresh approach, Naughty Dog instead got cold feet at the prospect of having to produce a game that may, or may not, have been a hit with their Sony-only fan base. So, what was once heralded as a welcome move into the survival/horror styled title by Naughty Dog, only really turned out to be them opting to play it safe after all by merely making ‘Uncharted:  The Cordyceps Caper’.

The Last of Us                       GmP Gaming                  image 3To say that the gaming press, both specialist and mainstream alike, have been falling over themselves to congratulate Naughty Dog on the latest ‘inspired’ title is a huge understatement, with many publications and respected websites already heralding The Last of Us as Game of the Year, a big claim for what is, by our reckoning, little more than a hotch-potch of Uncharted multiplayer and single player campaign locations with re-skinned enemies that resemble something little better than a five year-olds infantile Play-Do attempt.

Naturally the story is the games’ shining light, as well as its saving grace, but it has to be said that even this grows a little paper-thin after the next predictable trek across an Uncharted clone setting which leads the player into the even more predictable ‘open area’ complete with third-person shooter styled waist high cover littering the game zone which always, without exception, never failed to produce the obligatory fire fight.

Players are introduced to The Last of Us with an almost QTE styled cinematic, such is the heavy scripting of the game’s opening sequences, that see’s you stepping into the role of the main hero, Nathan…( whoops, sorry about that…force of habit ) ” Joel’s“,  daughter before being woken up in the middle of the night by a frantic Uncle asking to speak to your father before being unceremoniously cut off. This prompts our young character to go padding through the house in search of the missing parent whilst at the same time being introduced to basic controls, by being asked to pick up telephones or focus the line of sight on passing events outside the house, as well as concentrating her gaze on a news story that is being played out both on TV as well as right outside the window.

After locating the panicked parent we then get our first taste of things to come as Nath-sorry!, ‘Joel’, is forced to shoot a neighbour who is, for some inexplicable reason, behaving like a rabid madman bouncing off the shatter proof patio doors as he attempts to claw his way through the glass and murder the frightened occupants.  From this point in the game takes a turn for the worst as you are tasked with escaping the crazed townsfolk who are either fleeing for their very lives or having those said same lives being taken from them by cannibalistic residents Hell bent on devouring every living thing they can sink their fetid teeth into.

The Last of Us                       GmP Gaming                  image 1After taking the back seat in your uncles car, who has appeared right in the nick of time to rescue both you and your shaking father, the trio of family members takes to the highways and byways in a frantic bid to get clear of the mayhem of the urban area’s, unfortunately this also seems to have been the same plan as the rest of the town seem to have had and they are greeted not with an open road to freedom but with the Mother Of All Traffic Jam’s before being ploughed into by a careening coach. The upshot of it all…? You are now on foot, or rather your Dad is as you have to be carried following an injury sustained  during  the bone-crunching RTA, as you all run through the crowded streets of panic-stricken people all trying to avoid becoming the main course for the incensed masses running amok through this nightmare scenario.

Of course, all of this relative ‘good fortune’, if you can call your world being turned upside down by a mob of flesh hungry lunatics ‘good luck’?, cannot last, but the irony of the opening sequences is not lost on its audience and participating players as you are greeted with the seemingly welcoming sight of a US army soldier who promptly disposes of your drooling pursuers with a few quick shots to their heads.  The irony?  Just when you thought you had made it to safety, just when you thought you had finally managed to carry your precious cargo of your only child to the open arms of the authorities, after you have avoided the grasping hands and rancid mouths of the murderous crowds who hunted you down like a pack of wild animals, the truth of your situation hits you like the short burst of 7.62mm rounds from the soldiers automatic rifle as he opens fire on you and your daughter.

The world has gone into an insane ‘survival of the fittest’ mode, and you, mores the pity, are classed as a pestilence carrying leper by the very people who you would have assumed were there to offer civilians shelter and protection. The irony would be hilarious if the sentiment and the emotion oozing from the main character during this trying time was not so palpable that players can almost taste it. The loss of his young daughter is too much to bear for this gentle man now faced with tough choices and questionable morality issues.

From this moment on you are warped twenty years into the future, and what a ‘dystopian’ nightmare of a future it is. Martial Law is in full force in a vain attempt to stave of the epidemic which was brought mankind to its knee’s. But what of this ‘disease’, what do we really know of this deadly affliction that has decimated the World’s population? The outbreak has been accredited to a form of fungal parasite that has crossed the species barrier. Known to the horticultural and biological world as ‘Cordyceps’, this terror of  the mind houses itself into the hosts central nervous system before almost completely reshaping the victims cranial cavity with grotesque growths. Of course, all of this even pales into insignificance when compared to the final stages of the disease, as the host becomes a mindless drone to the will of the parasite burrowed deeply into their brain.

Naturally, and because this is a videogame requiring stronger enemies with varied strengths and weaknesses, there are good variety of transformed mutants for you to hack, bash and shoot your way through as you seek a sound end to the single player campaign.

Of course, this being Naughty Dog there was always going to be a multiplayer section tacked onto the main solo mode somewhere along the line, and gamers who were looking forward to some Last of Us online action will not be disappointed by the Uncharted styled format of the multiplayer mayhem.

The Last of Us                       GmP Gaming                  image 2But, as is plainly evident, there is the stumbling block once again: Uncharted. The similarities between the two have, for the most part, either been completely glossed over by the mainstream media, or, as is in the case of the more specialised gaming press, just outright omitted. The Last of Us, as it stands, could well have been released as an Uncharted downloadable content, spin-off series or even next in the franchise title.  All it would have taken was for Drake,  sorry ‘Joel’,  no wait….its Drake,  isn’t it?    Anyway, all confusion regarding the almost ‘separated at birth’ leading men aside, The Last of Us could well have been UC4 if the mission for Drake had taken him to a remote archipelago where our hero stumbles across a sinister plot by a shady government type to produce a bio-chemical weapon using the Cordyceps strain.  It really is nothing more than that.

Debating the topic of the summary and score for The Last of Us has seen some astounding statements from friends and gamers who, it would seem, praised the game so heavily for little more than it being developed by Naughty Dog. This is something that we did, in fat, point out only recently during an online debate on this very subject and when we made the point that had The Last of Us been developed by a studio without the reputation or industry ‘pull’ as Naughty Dog,  someone like Grasshopper for example, then the outcome for this generic shooter title would likely have been a very different affair.

number 6 pool ballIt is because of this, as well as the less than stellar gameplay, lack lustre AI, and almost carbon copy characters and environments that we do, in fact, break with general consensus. Readers may feel that we are being a little more than harsh on Naughty Dog’s latest title, we do not believe so.  The gameplay is mediocrity served up in a standard peek-a-boo styled cover based shooter. The targeting system for the weapons is tedious and finicky. The artificial intelligence is downright inept as even the slightest step within sight. let alone sound, of any enemy results in an immediate charge attack from the stumbling and shuffling foes, who, even when you are popping away with your pistol at them will still continue forward to attack you with generous gusto because that is what the developer programmed them to do.  No, good GmP readers, we promised you all truthful reviews, and with that we award The Last of Us a steady, but totally justifiable 6 out of 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty®: Black Ops II Vengeance DLC Pack Coming to PlayStation®3 and Windows PC on 1st August

Call of Duty Black Ops 2Vengeance can belong to PlayStation®3 and Windows PC players when Activision and award-winning developer Treyarch makes its third epic Downloadable Content (DLC) Pack for the record-breaking Call of Duty®: Black Ops II available. Vengeance takes players to exotic locations around the globe and also serves up a new chapter to the Zombies experience with “Buried” where the undead residents of an abandoned subterranean Old West mining town have come back to claim their home.

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance delivers four new, diverse multiplayer maps:

  • Cove: The stage is set for all-out conflict on this small, forgotten island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with players battling it out amongst the wreckage of a jet that crash-landed during a smuggling operation gone wrong.
  • Detour: A destroyed suspension bridge, high above an East Coast waterway, packed with scattered vehicles, exposed iron and collapsed pavement where the head-to-head action will play out on multiple levels.
  • Rush: Get ready for fast, close-quarters engagements in this paintball course turned full-combat arena, giving players new opportunities and challenges to use the cover to their advantage.
  • Uplink:  In this re-imagined adaptation of the fan-favourite multiplayer map “Summit” from the original Call of Duty®: Black Ops, players clash deep in the rain-soaked jungles of Myanmar, high atop a hi-tech mountain facility.

 

Treyarch continues to expand the Zombies story world in imaginative, mind-tripping ways with “Buried.”  Once players meet up with the four survivors of Tranzit, they’ll begin to encounter the undead residents of an abandoned underground Old West mining town.  A healthy arsenal of equipment and weapons will be at players’ disposal, but with one very special addition – something so powerful it will also appear in all other Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies maps (with the purchase of Vengeance DLC) –  the Ray Gun Mark II.

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance DLC Pack is available al a carte or for download by season pass holders. Call of Duty: Black Ops II game (sold separately) is required to play this Map Pack.

Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel review

Army of Two The Devils Cartel           GmP Gaming            image logo 1Salem and Rio return in EA’s latest third person shooter title for the Army of Two series. Read the full review of the military might dispatched with the new recruits called in to fight against the Devil’s Cartel.          

Back for more come the T.W.O. operatives in the latest collaboration between developer  Visceral Games, along with engine designers Dice and Danger Close and then on to publisher Electronic Arts as we jump back into the fist-pumping action of the heavily tattooed hard men Salem and Rio. In a new twist on proceedings, however, the ‘Army of Two’ has now become a fully fledged unit, complete with its masked soldiers of fortune. This is no longer the ‘surfer dude duo’ but a complete unit of dedicated troopers all ready to bring the pain in what ever far flung corner of a God forsaken war zone that they are dropped into.

This time around the mission focuses on the bloodthirsty La Guadaña cartel, a Mexican mafia of gun runners and drug smugglers that have come to the attention of the TWO. Ruthless in their efficiency, murderous in their intent La Guadaña have to go, and with that in mind lets strap on the bullet belts, grab our weapons and masks because its time to kick as…Army of Two style.

Although adopting more of a cameo role this time around, Salem and Rio have found themselves replaced by two newbies as players step into the combat boots of the latest pair to on the decorated face masks of the TWO. But, regardless of the duo’s obvious lack of experience, something that they make up for with pure enthusiasm, it better assists newcomers to the franchise to get used to the con trolls and Co-oP game play format during the game’s opening training sessions and tutorial mission.

Let’s get on thing straight from the outset, however, and that is the false belief that Army of Two is only a good game when played through with a partner over PSN or Xbox Live. This is not the case. We have spent a little over a week now getting to grips with the challenging gameplay across the separate play through’s, solo, Co-op Local and Co-oP Online, and we have to tell you that regardless of what you may read in other reviews the artificial intelligence in EA’s seminal third person shooter is more than capable of producing a very competent partner for you to take the title to task on your own.

Army of Two The Devils Cartel           GmP Gaming            image 2Graphically the game is as good as the current generation gets with highly detailed sets allowing players to experience a smooth time of it, even when the screen is littered with enemies…of which there will be many. We reviewed the game on the Playstation 3 and because of the Blu Ray format the disc was a solid single affair, as is expected, with high quality textures and superb high quality running right throughout the game. The Xbox360 version, though, does come complete with an additional 1.5 GB install for the texture pack and we do recommend that you add this little beauty to your hard drive for the impressive difference it makes to the visuals.

Running on the Frostbite 2 engine, the meaty beast that has produced fan favourites such as Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3, Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel has benefitted from all of the graphical experience Dice have brought along to the party, and this is plainly evident in the smooth as butter action scenes which come complete with over the top destruction and environments that are able to withstand a pounding as they are eventually reduced to ash and rubble.

The gameplay is pretty much as good as a third person shooter game could possibly want. High octane action with adrenaline fuelled battles pitched against some mesmeric backdrops and highly entertaining storylines. But all of that is doubled when you do take the game into its natural habitat of the co-operative modes.

Army of Two The Devils Cartel           GmP Gaming            image 1To say that there is a high body count in The Devil’s Cartel is almost like saying that Elton John  used to be fond of a smidge of Bolivian Marching Powder back in the day. It’s blatantly obvious right from the start that this is going to be more action than academic, and it doesn’t disappoint in any shape, way or form. With more explosions than Die Hard 1 through 5, more gadgets for your guns than Q Branch and a higher body count than all of the Rambo movies put together ‘dull’ is one thing that Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel could never be accused of. Mowing down hordes of enemy troops much like a reaper using his scythe to slice through fields of golden wheat, players will slice and dice their way through a literal ‘army’ of opposite numbers as they take their highly customized armaments and put them to good use.

The upgrade section of the gameplay works very well too, thanks in no small part to the excellent use of the funds that players acquire for completing contacts with a certain degree of style and panache. Upon earning all that lovely ‘wonga’ gamers then enter into the ‘shop’ where they can customize everything from outfits to armour, bullets to badges and masks to murder weapons.

Lacking a multiplayer mode may well be one of the reasons that many reviewers are scoring this title down, but truth be told it doesn’t really require one? The Co-oP segments of The Devil’s Cartel more than make up for any mayhem that you might wish to find in an online death match, whether you play local or online.

number-7-pool-ballAll told Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel is no Battlefield. Hell its no Medal of Honour if you want to look at it from that point of view, but then again it was never designed or destined to be. The Devil’s Cartel is what it is, Army of Two action and fun-filled fast paced game play at its finest, and if you can’t see past your own FPS iron sights to bear witness to all the chaotic good times to be had in Army of Two then that’s your look out. Visually competent, sadistically resplendent in its blood thirsty gameplay Army of Two The Devils Cartel is a cracking romp through a steady 13-15 hours of Co-oP genius. Long may its developers continue its run.       7 out of 10

 

Developer:  Visceral Games

Publisher:  Electronic Arts

Version Tested:   Playstation 3

 

Crysis 3 review

Crysis 3                        GmP Gaming     image 1Crytek and Electronic Arts unite once more to bring the latest episode in their futuristic shooter franchise to their adoring audience. Prophet is back, and he’s meaner than ever in the simply spectacular Crysis 3.

Crytek just seem to be able to squeeze out every last pixel and power performing byte as they produce, by far and away, one of the most gorgeous looking games this entire generation. This review was compiled after playing through Crysis 3 on the Playstation 3, and it looked simply amazing! But rest assured, the graphics on the Xbox360 look just as jaw-dropping and the PC version looks like a next-gen console version before the 8th generation even kicks off!  ( just imagine what Crytek have planned for PC gamers with the power of the 8th gen hardware unites to boost their own market leading engine? )

Everything about Crysis 3 has been polished to such a high sheen that even beeswax couldn’t compete when in the hands of a master French polisher. The characters are extremely fluid and the movements so lifelike that it is hard to believe, sometimes, that you are not partaking of an interactive movie more in the style of a Heavy Rain, as opposed to an all out ‘backs to the wall’ shooter title such as Crysis fans are familiar with. Level’s are superb with an attention and an eye for detail that, if truth be told, is lost on any number of today’s development teams.

Although not quite as ‘Skyrim’ as PC players will remember, nevertheless, Crysis 3 still takes other corridor hugging or tiny skirmish zone titles, such as the recently launched Aliens Colonial Marines for example, and shows them how it really can be done, if you just bother to put a little extra effort into your environments. Crysis 3 grants players expansive gameplay area’s with enormous sprawling vista’s and panoramic views of magnificent clarity even as back drop, but it is in the immediate zones that you will find the most impressive of all the added bonuses.

The dark, almost oppressive atmosphere lends itself more to a survival horror as Prophet is tasked with stealthy creeping through zones that are made up of thoughtful level design, constructed in such a way as to have multiple paths through the designated area, but alas, only one will be the safest route, with the rest of the options leading players into ever more risky scenario’s and situations, in which they must utilise all of their skills and attributes at the peak of their performance, if they are to survive any hostile encounters.

Crysis 3                        GmP Gaming     image 3This brings us to the gameplay, and we have to say….we were impressed. Although the storyline may have come in for some quite unnecessary attention from a number of media outlets, all we have to say is that in a shooter title what did you expect? The complete literary works of William Shakespeare? Or would you rather that the developer paid greater attention to the things that really matter in a fast paced stealth shooter title, maybe like…oh, let’s say ” The Action”?  Yup, that’s what we thought too!

So, ‘thin’ plot aside, ( even though it is not as slender as a great many reviewers are attempting to mislead you into believing, but more on that in a moment ), we delve into all the digital delights that Crytek have littered their latest title with, and there are a lot of them, let us assure you all.

The weapons are just once such ‘bonus’ where great attention has been paid so that players believe that the firearms with which they wield against their enemies are ‘meaty’ enough to produce such startling devastating and accurate results. Of course, ever since the first image during the games extensive PR campaign showed Prophet with that sleek-looking bow players have been itching to get their hands on the silent but deadly killing machine, and it does not disappoint.

Powerful, precise and perfectly suitable for the job at hand this new addition to Prophet’s arsenal of available weaponry has taken the more careful approach and tactful option for the stealthy player to new heights. Deliberate in its wickedness and unforgiving in its doling out of punishment the bow adds a new dimension to the gameplay of the sci-fi shooter series, and with it allows the player to feel more deeply involved in the gameplay and plot, as Prophet’s timeline is stretched out to the maximum by careful planning and execution of targets and objectives.

Crysis 3                        GmP Gaming     image 4Naturally, Prophet also has the ‘usual suspects’ of assorted armaments in the shape of pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, SMG’s and sniper rifles and a veritable plethora of explosives and projectile powerhouses such as the rocket and grenade launchers, all of which will play a massive part in not only your enjoyment but also your survival as you take on a literal army of PMC’s and mercenaries, but we have to say that the inclusion of the bow gave us a new-found level of enjoyment, especially when playing through on the more demanding difficulty settings.

Collectibles are there, as always, as well as the ever elusive ‘intel’, for the more ‘completionist’ type gamer among you, but even without the hidden objects, files and forms that are scattered throughout the entire Crysis 3 mission maps, there is still a good amount of gameplay to be had within the confines of Crysis 3 on its own merit. To offer you a time limit is a moot point, as each gamer is a law unto themselves, and each gamer plays differently. Where one player may just run through the game on ‘easy’, collecting nothing and completing the bare minimum required to progress to the next section of the story, others want to go everywhere, see everything and do it all. Add to that the vast differences in difficulty when playing through any of the increasingly troublesome presets and you have a time set so wildly variant that to say ‘Crysis 3 offers up 15 hours of gameplay on the toughest settings’ is nothing short of ridiculous. The game is what you make of it, and should you choose to race through at a blistering pace ignoring all of the added freedom of the expansive zones, or the multitudous murderous bad guys then don’t go on to write a round-up for your Youtube channel that slags the game off because you completed it in record-breaking time.

Attributes, namely Prophet’s alien technologies which have now superceded his Human self and left him little more than a combination of ‘Nano-Suit’ and far-reaching telepathic and telekinetic powers, are all back for more of the same, as players extend their psychic and physical abilities care of the superior intelligence of the suits designers. Beneficial though they are, they do, in some small way, also serve to hinder the gameplay by making some sections a little too simple: Crowd of enemies in front of you? Not a problem, just whip out your invisibility cloak like an armed to the teeth, homicidal Harry Potter and sneak on past them unnoticed.

To get the best out of Crysis 3, whilst at the same time not just using the powers granted by the suit to blast past enemies and blaze a scorching trailer through levels, then it is probably better to run through the entire game on a higher difficulty setting. Merely gliding past checkpoints, breezing unseen through hordes of opposition troops and picking off snipers by the dozen from afar on the easier settings is really not any kind of challenge for the Crysis veteran, nor even the grizzled shooter player. This leads us nicely to the one area where Crysis 3 may just have a teeny-tiny issue, the Artificial Intelligence of those said same enemy soldiers.

Crysis 3                        GmP Gaming     image 5Whereas the graphical content of Crysis 3 has shown gamers just what can be achieved with even this generations engines, and even hints at the glittering future that awaits us all in the 8th gen, this tweaking and tinkering of the visuals seems to have distracted the development team away from one of the most crucial elements of any shooter title, and that is the AI.  So, even though the content on offer to you, as you stare open-mouthed in wonderment at your screens and monitors, may well look stunning, and even though a lot has been done to enhance the gamers viewing pleasure, the actual gameplay has been forsaken in favour of this spit and polish as we are left with a barely competent AI that, more often than not, ends up killing its own men as opposed to presenting any kind of threat to the challenge of Prophet.

Often aimless and directionless the enemy AI will scamper around the game zone without so much as a thought for their own safety, hurtling from one poor cover spot to the next, back and forth, like some kind of pointless pendulum. Whether it’s the Human forces, in the shape of the ‘Cell’ private military contractors, or the threat from above, in the form of the Ceph aliens, the AI still takes players on a rollercoaster of emotions as they run around like headless chickens lobbing grenades and blasting away with the new removable Ceph weapons that you can loot from the fallen hulking monsters.

But, hey, at least there is a good deal of variety to the proceedings now, as not only are you battling the embittered Cell militia, you are now also faced with a couple of new variants on the Ceph species. The most notable of which just has to be the impressive brutes packing the humongous blasters that you can rifle off their person. Fun times lie ahead as you rip this hand cannon from their still warm corpses and go on an absolute killing spree with this powerhouse of a weapon.

The solo campaign armaments and AI do make for some moments of pure comedy gold, but if you thought that this was going to get better in the multiplayer, then perhaps think again, as the exact same problems and issues that quite literally ruined the online experience for millions of shooter fans are back rearing their ugly heads once more just to spite you, as you search in vain for a run and gun title that lives up to its name.

The problem is uniform throughout a myriad of shooters that leaves development teams scratching their heads in disbelief as they look to each other with quizzical expressions on their faces wondering why it is that a title like Call of Duty can be so very popular, and yet their own gorgeous looking game struggles to fill the numbers for an online lobby. The answer to this conundrum, particularly in the case of EA and their first party studio’s, is a simple one, and one that we will offer up using a trio of top franchises to better explain our theory.

Crysis 3                        GmP Gaming     image 2As most gamers, and just about all FPS players will agree, the handling of a title is the lifeblood pumping throughout its veins. Your game can be the best looking masterpiece that the industry has ever seen, but if it plays sluggish, stiff or sloppy then gamers will be as unforgiving as Charles Bronson in another Death Wish sequel.  Just ask any Sony executive who worked on Killzone 3. Now, herein lies the problem. How to make your game look better than the competition, but at the same time still manage to keep those silky movements and lag-free issues at bay during the multiplayer. Well, the truth of the matter is that most players aren’t too fussy about a great many of the features that EA developers seem intent on piling into their multiplayer modes. One such ‘deal breaker’ has been evident throughout the Crysis series, and it returns in this third outing for the franchise only to murder its multiplayer prospects yet again, and that is the ‘invisibility cloak’. This innocuous little asset is the bane of many multiplaying gamers and one so loathed by run and gun gamers that it single-handedly could well have been what put paid to Killzone 3, as well as the younger sibling to this title: Crysis 2.

Developers need look no further than the best-selling shooter franchise currently on the market to see that its own numbers have began to dwindle as they cater more and more to the static, hide in  a corner player camping for hours on end, and only daring to poke their nose out from behind a wall of developer designed attributes, all aimed at protecting this player from gangs of burly marauding run and gunners, to move silently across to yet another ‘camping spot’ to pitch their tent and wait for the next wave of players to happen into their line of fire.

Gamers, on the whole, do not want this type of action, they want quick shoot-to-thrill based gameplay that pits them against their opposite number in a faster finger first type scenario, and not, as developers seem to believe, to have every attribute and addition to the format based on and around the sniper. Quickscoping has plagued Call of Duty since its discovery as a ‘glitch’ in Modern Warfare 2, what did Infinity Ward do to combat this groan inducing nonsense? Did they eradicate it? Did they patch the glitch to bring back the spirit of their original Modern Warfare title that broke the mould and brought with it all those millions of admiring players? Nope! Instead they chose to pander to the minority and, in fact, added into even the Treyarch versions as a feature to be enjoyed as opposed to what it originally was, and that being a glitch to be exploited.

This, is why titles such as Call of Duty, and now ultimately Medal of Honor, Battlefield and Crysis have all been suffering, as gamers who love shooter titles have to find ever more obscure games, such as Day Z and War Z, to fulfil their online multiplaying enjoyment.

Speaking of Medal of Honor, a point we have to make, seeing as this is an EA title after  all, is that what is beyond us for an explanation is that when all along Electronic Arts and Dice had the winning formula in their hands and chose to ignore it, instead producing the underwhelming Warfighter, whereas in the Medal of Honor Tier 1 mode from the previous title, the answer to all of EA’s online prayers was right there contained in that very excellent segment all along. If Crytek had implemented a similar style of gameplay, instead of merely making everything pretty, and then pandering to the more static shooter player, then this would have been the Crysis online mode to break with tradition and possibly even set the series up to be direct rivals against Bungie’s upcoming MMOFPS, Destiny.

But alas, in this lies a huge reason why a lot of first person shooter titles, all challenging the behemoth Call of Duty for the crown of King of the FPS genre, have been found wanting.  Whereas the men and women behind the CoD series have often been criticised for using the same regurgitated engine over and over again, ( something that, it has to be said, the vast majority of game developers have done also ), the one thing that the teams working on the Modern Warfare and the Black Ops franchises have understood is that gamers, particularly when you take those gamers into the online multiplayer arena, are more than happy to forego graphical detail in favour of the way that game performs and handles. When you are hurtling through a zone with all guns blazing and being pounded at by incoming mortar and cannon fire, and with snipers trying to ventilate your melon from three different directions then ‘who cares’ how pretty the flowers are, or how the tree’s waver in the light westerly breeze?

In an FPS game, of all things, the only things we really want to work with pinpoint precision are the weapons, the controls and the troops populating both friendly and enemy forces. Ask any pro gamer in any one of the MLG leagues what they prefer and they will concur with this sentiment. Pretty is good, but fast and smooth is better.

Yes, the multiplayer is engaging at times, just as long as you don’t have a lobby full of snipers all packing every silent trick and trait in the book before donning their cloaking device, but ultimately we fear that the multiplayer mode of Crysis 3 is doomed to suffer for the same mistakes not learned in previous versions of the franchise. Pretty is good, if all you want to do is look and coo at the game, but if you actually want to play and spend some time with it, then you must have gameplay that is actually enjoyable and not something that makes you want to dropkick the neighbours cat into orbit every time you are shot in the back, ( just after spawning ), by some cackling 12-year-old as he sits in his tent surrounded by mines, claymores, tripwires, sentry guns, attack helicopters, dogs, tanks and finally made invisible, just to run salt into that openly infected run and gun wound.

number-7-pool-ballA visually resplendent title, with some truly memorable moments during the single player campaign, but one, we fear, that is destined for the back burner as the novelty of being headshot by unseen snipers wears even thinner than ‘Psycho meets Prophet for bullets and bombs’ plot.  Crytek may have the tools, but they so desperately need some direction.  7 out of 10

 

Developer:  Crytek

Publisher:   Electronic Arts

Version Tested:   Playstation 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devils Advocate: Playstation 4

Playstation 4 logo             GmP GamingWith the mysterious date, revealed by a secretive Sony a few weeks ago, finally arriving late last night, bleary-eyed UK and European viewers stayed up clutching their sack boy soft toys as they waited in nervous anticipation for a mere glimpse of their future ‘dream machine’. So were you happy with what Sony presented instead?

Quite what the gaming public, as a whole, made of the vague proceedings will, no doubt, be the subject of fervent chatter across a veritable plethora of forum’s, chatroom’s and social media networks. Not to mention the lighting up of  Youtube with the flames of the fanboy wars once again being stoked to white-hot temperatures as the pyres of the ‘Console Wars’ are well and truly rekindled.

In one corner we have the Nintendo crowd, cooing and cawing at the own recently launched HD console, and still hoping that no-one will notice that it is barely making a dent into the sales charts. Whilst in another corner we have the very vocal massed ranks of the Xbox and Microsoft all up in arms at Sony’s ‘betrayal’ of their own ‘tongue in cheek’ promise, when Sony stated that they would, in fact, be allowing Microsoft to reveal their own next-gen console first. Finally we have the Sony contingent of the ‘bicker battles’ which are currently being fought across an internet platform near you! ( and now thanks to the added bonus of Sony’s never to be switched off  ‘social media’ extensions, all that joyous and jolly tomfoolery between randoms you meet on the internet will be coming soon to your console! )

Starting from the very beginning, ( as Julie Andrews said, ” it is a very good place to start “, and let’s face it, anything Julie Andrews says has to be true….doesn’t it? ), we will offer our own dissection of the highlights and low points of the Sony Conference. Whether or not you will agree, well, that’s your decision. Just as these opinion’s are ours.

Although at first glance last nights press conference hit all the right notes as far as the now accepted norm for press events goes, insofar as it satisfied the majority of Sony gamers and supportive media checklists with the usual suspects of ‘connectivity’, ‘cross platform’ functionality and obligatory back slapping during introductions by patronizing and gushing presenters, this press call was, in truth, little more than the industry template of tried and tested sound bites that have been used by all manufacturers and developers at every major event since the dawn of the digital age.

After the standard fare of the opening sequences, complete with dizzying montage of cinematic scenes and possible in-development future titles, we are introduced to Sony CEO and President, Andrew House, to the lilting tones of the original Playstation start-up ‘jingle’.  Insert customary ‘tick’ in conference check list here.

dualshockSo, after much smiling into camera and the thumbing up of Sony’s illustrious history, ( but never mentioning a word in reference of their disastrous financial status or their catastrophic under achievements in the handheld market with the PSP Go and now the Vita ), we move along to the first reveal of the night! Will it be the ‘big one’? Will it be the feted Playstation 4 with all of its technological wonders and the promised land of a videogame Utopia purpose-built for the core gamer? Erm, no..no, it wasn’t.

Instead of , well, you know, the actual thing that gamers wanted to see, ( that ‘thing’ being the Playstation 4 ), we are first offered up for our digital delectation the all-new ‘Dual Shock’ controller, complete with ‘tacked on’ touch pad that has, for some inexplicable reason, got the fanboys all in a lather about this mediocre feature.

First up, let’s just rattle off the points put forward by Sony in relation to its ‘next gen controller’. The Dual Shock shape has not been altered, rather it has ‘evolved’ to incorporate some additional features and enhancements all designed to bring a more ‘social’ aspect to your overall gaming experience. These are in no way ‘gameplay enhancing’ modifications, moreover they are ‘socially interactive enhancements’. Yes, it may be argued that the touch pad is akin to its Vita sibling, and that it will be better utilised through its use and manipulation during your game sessions, but the fact of the matter is that all of the future design changes for the new look Dual Shock controllers are there to serve a different purpose, and that is its greater overseer: The ‘Share’ button.

Much has been said in regard to this innocuous little ‘nubbin’, and even more is likely to be speculated upon following its revelatory unveiling during the Sony press conference, but truth be told it does little more than what it says: “Share

This is basically nothing more than the same ‘share’ features at the foot of each article that you read on this very website, only now you will be able to have your gameplay interrupted by constant incoming messages, Tweets, Ustream action video’s and Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘pokes’ from everyone you have ever met on any of your subscribed social media portals. Wonderful!

So, this ‘awesome’ new addition to the Playstation 4 gamer’s arsenal, because remember what Andrew House said: ” Its ‘all’ about the gamer in the eight gen!”, ( quite what this statement is supposed to mean, prove or validate in an industry based on ‘videogaming’ that has had seven previous iterations of…well, you know…gaming consoles, is just mind-boggling? ), has got the ‘gamer’ so much at heart that it effectively removes a third of your screen, and with it shrinking your in-game action to Vita-esque proportions, and

playstation  4   share button   image   2To top it all off, and add further nonsensical numpty-ness insult to brain-baffling injury, Sony are flaunting a further feature that not only will you be able to ‘share’ all of your online activity across all manner of mediums, but that, should you ever find yourself in a bit of a tricky situation during a particularly tough mission in-game, that you may then you may surf the net, or your friends, to ask for advice on how better to best the Boss that is currently battering your bonce in a belaboring battle. Something, it has to be said, that looks as if it has been lifted straight out of the Nintendo Wii U manufacturers handbook.

But, not wanting to be called out for a blatant rip-off of one of their main rivals features Sony have had to go ‘one better’, ( or ‘one worse’ whatever is your preference? ), by adding in a mind-bogglingly ridiculous ‘asset’ to the future Dual Shock and PSN experience: Players may now relinquish all control of their current game to any one of their friends and acquaintances in order for the friendly ‘fixer’ to come in and finish up a moment during the game that is giving the player too much trouble to handle.  Some were openly dumbfounded in the watching crowd of gaming and media veterans, others were rightly puzzled by Sony’s optimism for this flaccid feature.

Just when you thought gaming had been dumbed down as far as it could possibly go, in the corporations never-ending pursuit of the casual gamer and the untapped source of income nestled firmly in their wallets, along come Sony with the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you ever encounter a difficult moment in a game, as you can always just hand over the reins to someone better than you and then let them play your game for you? Whatever next?  A downloadable ‘Virtual Gamer’ that plays your entire collection for you, amassing all of the trophies and unlocks as you sit in your own lazy filth eating pancake mix right out of the box as you stare like a tazered sheep at Geordie Shore?  Sweet Lord it makes a total mockery of the difficulty settings for even the most basic of games.

Quite why the hardcore of the Sony fanbase would think that a feature such as this is something akin to discovering the Holy Grail of videogaming is beyond us, it is nothing short of the ‘Forest Gump-ing’ of the Playstation Network. ‘Stupid is as stupid does’.

Blizzard logo 1Next up on the s-hit list of the ‘confidence conference’ comes a short passage on the wealth of new, and quite frankly visually stunning content from some of the biggest names in the gaming business, as we are assured by a beaming Sony representative, and we quote, ” virtually every third-party developer world-wide will support the Playstation 4″.  ( and, it would seem, the PS3 as well, considering that more or less every single title that was offered up as an example of ‘next gen’ capabilities also has a Playstation 3 launch date, not to mention an Xbox360 version. The only exceptions being the standard fare of the Sony exclusive line up ).

Guerilla Games made their now obligatory appearance with the impressive cinematic gameplay that came in the Killzone: Shadow Fall gameplay. There were stellar offerings also from Capcom, who unveiled their new Panta Rhei game engine in the Deep Down working title sequences, as well as the outstanding sneak preview of the second engine unveiling of the night with the Unreal Engine 4 giving gamers a taste of things to come.

But can even the promise of ‘4K videogaming’, ( actually this rumour has already been well and truly obliterated with the announcement that there will, in fact, be ‘no’ 4K resolution gaming…only movies and televisual content ), get the juices flowing when even the audience of industry professionals provided only token applause for the hum drum and expected ‘revelations’? Well, probably not.

Games that look barely improved upon the Playstation 3, even when developed and displayed in all their ‘glory’ by one of the very men instrumental in the PS4’s design: Mark Cerney, can hardly be expected to tempt anyone, other than the staunch die hards that populate the internet forums and Youtube pages with their blinkered drivel blindly flying the flag for yet another console to empty their bank accounts of a further £400.

When you consider that for not a great deal of difference, performance wise, that Sony have asked their user base to cough up for a whopping 5 new consoles and five new handhelds in the last 4 years is it any wonder, then,  why even the Xbox360 supporters raise a questioning eyebrow when the Sony fanboys accuse Microsoft of thinking about profit before players?  Such practices alienate further the very casual crowd that every major console manufacturer is so fervently attempting to attract to their system.

square enix   image   3Attempting to pull the wool over gamers eyes by only producing either working titles, cinematics ( that, in a Jim Sterling coined ‘Gearbox Moment’, will not look anything like the gameplay ), and one title that has already been in development for three years on standard hardware is hardly, in our humble opinion, ‘cutting edge’. Was the hardware that produced the images and visuals on that fateful night a prototype? Was it a standard retail unit identical to the type that customers and gamers around the World will be picking up for an as yet undisclosed sum?  Well, that’s a mystery. As even though we did attempt to pry the answer from the sphincter like mouth’s of the tight-lipped Sony PR team we were, naturally, given that time-honoured chestnut of ‘no comment’.

Quite why the ten or so questions that we asked Sony in relation to their next-gen ‘marvel’ were all, more or less, greeted with the same stone wall ‘we cannot comment on speculation’ drivel, when they themselves had made such a public showing of their forthcoming console, is simply unfathomable? If the men and women at Sony would deign to climb down from that lofty gin-soaked perch for a moment or two every few days, and bother to come visit  the ‘real gamers’ then maybe, just maybe, they would actually get a grip on the reality of the situation as the internet is veritably crackling with finger-pointing, name calling and laugh out loud parodies of the upcoming Sony ‘powerhouse’.

Questions on price, memory, whether or not gamers will be forced to adopt the social features, whether or not players will have to pay to enjoy their games online next-gen, or simple things like allowing gamers to know if they will be able to adapt multiple external HDD’s to cope with what is surely going to be a massive amount of enforced hard drive devouring updates, patches and mandatory game installs is hardly ‘revelatory’. Moreover it would seem to us here at GmP that these are the kind of answers that Sony should have offered up as basic information and part and parcel of the conference in the first place.

Whatever happens for Sony in the future, whatever is the result of this former industry leading developer and corporate giant’s posturing and posing with their latest Playstation, we do hope that they decide to offer a cost-effective solution right from the outset and don’t repeat the critical errors which crippled the PS3 and left it languishing in third place behind the Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii for the entire 7th generation.

buffering playstation   image 3Have Sony learnt from their mistakes? Have they listened to their user base and loyal followers? Or is it to be a case of history repeating itself in more ways than one, as Sony make the same unforgivable errors that blighted the Playstation 3, and that could ultimately see them going the way of Sega? Only time will tell, of course, but if Sony continue to think that they are ‘too big’ to bother with the little man, and that they are ‘too big’ to falter, then they are, no doubt, heading for a mighty tumble.

Economically, the gamer no longer has the disposable income of the Playstation 2 day’s and, as was demonstrated by the many price drops of the Playstation 3, if Sony think that casual, or even core, gamers are going to fork out £400+ for a basic Playstation 4 console then they are deluded.  Sony ‘must’ come in with the PS4 at around £299 for the entry level system and no more than £399 for the high end scale model, or they are simply asking for trouble.

Another thing that Sony has to take into account and that is that gamers have not forgotten, nor have they forgiven, the absolute raping of the original Playstation 3’s initial features, as customers watched the Japanese giant strip their beloved console of feature after feature as they desperately tried to make the over-priced system cost effective. It has not happened to this day, even with the recently launched ‘super slim’ that has helped, but not managed to erradicate totally, the massive losses Sony incurred due to its ‘pedestal’ approach to PR and marketing. If Sony are to once again promise a virtual gaming colossus for the videogamer, and then they subsequently begin to remove every selling point,  feature and function from their console as they did with the PS3, then we fear for the company as a whole. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice……?

Take a tour of ‘Goblin Town’ in the latest Guardians of Middle Earth trailer

guardians of middle earth            GmP Gaming   image boxart 1

 

 

 

 

 

The new Survival Mode enlists a one to five player co-op in intense combat in the Glittering Caves nestled deep in the White Mountains. Teammates must rely heavily on each other to fight and survive waves of enemies with increasingly destructive power. Players must defend their towers, fight enemy control on the field and defeat boss waves to complete new challenges. Rally your best troops in a mission to perfect team composition, strategy and loadouts, while taking on a deadly swarm of enemies.

In addition, gamers can play on the one-lane map with the new Goblin-town map skin, which lands players into the dark tunnels within the Misty Mountains, near the dwelling of the Witch-king.

PS3 Europe Exclusive: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix!

kingdom hearts 1.5 HD Remix           GmP Gaming    image logo 1SQUARE ENIX has been a little busy body! With the hype of FFXIV Beta testing that started yesterday and today, with the announcement of KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 ReMIX!

KH HD 1.5 ReMix will soon be available later this Autumn in Europe and other PAL territories exclusively for the PlayStation 3.

Fully remastered in HD, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is a stunning collection of the critically acclaimed KH Final Mix (PS2) and KH Re: Chain of Memories (PS2), never previously available in Europe. The Japanese exclusive KH Final Mix adds new weapons, enemies, abilities, and a secret movie! KH Re: Chain of Memories is described best as the direct sequel of the original title. In addition, the collection will feature HD cinematic story videos from the DS game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, enhanced gameplay mechanics and PS3 system trophies. Players can now relive the origins of the celebrated franchise with Sora, Riku and the colorful cast of Disney characters, including Mickey, Donald and Goofy!