Tagged: Review

Outlast : Review

Outlast              GmP                            image    6

With more and more studio’s opting to try and find the next multiplayer cash-cow it would appear that the days of the survival/horror title are well and truly numbered. But if developers such as Red Barrels show anything with their latest launch it is that there is still a huge demand for the suspenseful chiller in videogames today. Join us now as we take an in-depth look at the nightmare shocker Outlast.

Let’s get one thing straight from the outset shall we? Survival/Horror is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite genre in the vast array of gaming pigeonholes. That chilling sensation you get creeping up your spine as your character edges along a darkened hallway lit only by flickering shadows is a far more tangible experience than anything else, I feel, offered up in any of the myriad genres littering the shelves of your local gaming retailer.

Nothing else seems to draw you in to the atmosphere like a horror game, and nothing comes even remotely close to the real-world feelings drawn out of the player as they greedily suck in shallow breath after shallow breath as they stumble and fumble their way across game zones spattered with traps, troubles and blood stains in equal measure.

No, there is nothing quite like a good scare-fest of the kind a survival/horror title delivers. Enter stage right the cracking Outlast. This outstanding piece of work is the product of twisted minds from the Red Barrels Studio, and oh!, what a tangled web they weave.

Starting off in the rain-soaking vehicle of investigative reporter Miles Upshur, we enter into our latest assignment after receiving an anonymous tip from a whistleblower regarding the sinister going’s on at Mount Massive asylum. This dark and looming building is the staple of horror films and comics time and again, but familiar though its architecture may be what is contained within its whispering walls is anything but.

Outlast              GmP                            image    7Set up in the Fifties as an asylum Mount Massive was quickly closed but re-opened again in the Eighties after being snapped up by the same shady corporate empire our intrepid reporter is currently investigating. This explains our man’s interest in the  area, but you can bet Miles wasn’t prepared for anything like he finds within the walls of the ‘asylum’ as the mental health institute is merely a front organisation for the worrying medical research into sleep deprivation and REM dream pattern control.

Entrance to the asylum serves as a short tutorial and we welcome back to the gameplay format that one time fan-favourite, survival/horror tradition of squeezing through gaps in walls and debris to gain access too, or to escape from, whatever demonic entity is currently seeking to chomp on your entrails.

Some may argue that the ‘squeeze through’ is a little passé, they are wrong, No argument, no debate. Just wrong. It’s a great addition to the game, and that is all there is to it. Racing towards a narrow fissure in shattered walls whilst all the time being to afraid to even take a quick glance back at your pursuer for fear of a grasping hand clawing at your startled face is far better than merely ‘Press and hold X to enter’.

Speaking of opening up a door, upon reaching the main entrance to Mount Massive players must shimmy around to a side door to get into the place as the main imposing portal is barricaded and locked up tight.  If anything this should have served as a red flag to our intrepid journalist but no! He just has to be Captain Bravepants and push right on in there.

Upon slipping into the ominous abode our Journo gets his first signs that all may not be quite peachy inside Mount Massive. You know the sort of thing? Lights flickering, eerie silence, a couple of broken windows here and there…oh, and the bloodied handprints and pools of ‘claret’ making Escher patterns on the floor. Time, in the words of that time-honoured beer advert, for a sharp exit.

Kee-e-r-r-r-ASH!! 

I think the phrase we are looking for, now that we have plummeted through the floor of the asylum, would be something along the lines of ‘the fecal matter has most definitely struck the wind farm now’.

From here on, dear GmP readers, the best thing to do to get the full effect of the atmospheric and down right chilling psychological horror provided by Red Barrels would be to turn off the lights, grab a few drinks and munchies and get settled in for around 6 hours of pant-wetting terror.  Oh, and while you are getting all your supplies and preparations made for your late-night fright-fest don’t forget to grab a shovel for your underwear.

Okay, now that we are inside let’s get a couple of things out of the way shall we? Graphically, Outlast may not be the prettiest game on the planet but I’ll be damned if that makes it a bad game, far from it. The game looks no more grainy or rattled than anything on display in a Dead Island or a Castlevania, and certainly with its ‘non violent’ approach to the ’ gameplay it is one of the most inventive of the year.

Do not be fooled, however, just because Miles doesn’t turn into Billy The Kid and go blasting his way through a horde of zombies the moment things turn sour does not mean that the game is in any way diminished by the lack of player combat. It just means that you have to be a good deal more realistic in your approach when facing enemies and problems.

Got a huge hulking brute with arms like Arnie in front of you?  Try using the most powerful ‘muscle’ in your body instead of your trigger finger and ‘think’ about how you  are going to get out of the situation you find yourself in.

Outlast              GmP                            image    4Moving right into the fighting mechanics brings us to to a point that will have some gamers scratching their heads and others nodding said melons in sage-like approval. Outlast may have many rumours circulating the interwebz that it doesn’t even have a combat system in place, however, this is simply not true. Outlast ‘does’ have plenty of violent moments of arm-rending gore and outright extreme blood thirsty savagery, its just that they will all, ( without exception ), be performed ‘on’ your character as opposed to ‘by’ him.

Instead, what players are treated to, by the lack of fighting abilities from Mr Upshur, is a non-stop nightmare where every corner can bring you face to face with a mutated monster whose only thought is to rend your body until it resembles nothing more than chump. Where every step on your journey may be your last, and every laboured breath is nervously caught short in your chest for fear of being overheard and overpowered by any one of the asylum’s unfettered inmates.

The lack of firearms, and even melee weapons, makes for a far more terrifying and frantic affair as players desperately try to navigate the corridors and chambers of this Hotel of Horror without alerting the assorted foes that line the halls and cellars just awaiting the arrival of an unfortunate fly into the blood soaked web. Stealth and subterfuge are thee orders of the day, and in a tip of utmost importance we ask you all to learn from our own mistakes with the adoption of a far more patient approach to your game play, as opposed to hurtling around the zones tearing from room to room like you are participating in some kind of demented speed round of hide and seek.

Don’t get me wrong here, there was more than one occasion when I’d stamp my feet and spout a “…if I had a gun or a club I could have killed him easy!” line, like a petulant child, but over-all the depth of desperation that the lack of even the most basic weapon offers you more than makes up for having a moment or two with yet another predictable outcome delivered with yawn inducing inevitability thanks to the possession of a rifle or machete.

Hell, you don’t even have the option to stand there and put your ‘dukes’ up before engaging the heavyweight in the corner to a round or three of Marquis of Queensbury. Nothing! Nervous types need not apply and those prone to bouts of diarrhoea had best install a steady supply of auto-assembly nappies for just such moments of pure unadulterated terror.

This is, without a doubt, a brave decision by Red Barrels, particularly in an age when the shooter reigns supreme and many former survival/horror stalwarts  such as Resident Evil have gone from being out and out stealth scenario’s to nothing more than tired Call of Duty wannabee’s.

Undoubtedly there are lessons to be learned here by many of the so-called ‘larger studios’  in that gamers are a funny lot, and although we may love the occasional hour or three spent blasting lumps out of each other on some Godforsaken battlefield in an online shooter, does not mean that we want ‘every’ subsequent title we purchase to be of a cookie-cutter formula. After all, variety, as they, is the spice of life.

Another major factor in the appeal of Outlast  is the brooding atmosphere inside Mount Massive’s  towering walls. The crushing blackness of the rooms and passageways populated by shuffling inmates is tangible in its oppression, and downright nerve-racking from start to finish.. It’s almost as if even the light bulbs have thought better of their situation and made themselves scarce rather than shine illumination onto the many horrors and atrocities being committed by doctor and patient alike.

Populated as it is by the now garish figures of former inmates and staff, Mount Massive is home to a collection of crazies and cranks the kind of which would make even The Shining’s own Jack Torrance seem like the most sociable and mentally stable fellow a chap could ever hope to meet.

Outlast              GmP                            image    3Mad scientist types, paranoid schizophrenics, sociopaths, psychopaths and a particularly excellent cameo from a vengeful ‘artist’ are among the more noteworthy of our new ‘friends’, but all of these pale into the background compared to the madness behind the men and women who created such a programme in the first place.

The sense of oppression raining down upon the characters shoulders is almost palpable as you stumble and fumble your way along bleak walkways and fetid sewers. The only light you have is the power-permitting UV glare of your trusty camcorder as you stagger your way through and around this maze of misery.

Of course, many players will be tempted to keep the garish green tinged light from their video camera always on for fear of becoming injured , lost or surprise-attacked by any one of the lurking former inmates in this art-imitating-life-imitating-art scenario as the lunatics have very much taken over the asylum.

And many of them will die…repeatedly.

Our advice is to take advantage of the camera’s light sparingly. Not only because finding batteries to power the unit are few and far between, particularly on the higher difficulty settings, but because the time will arise when you need the camera to find a certain clue or log entry and you will by pass the moment because your low battery alert is beeping like a sailor on daytime television.

The inky blackness permeates everything and even seems to infest the very air you breath as you weave your way under, over and around obstacles and wade through everything from rank sewage canals to bloodied body parts. This is compounded by the fact that players are not only tasked with finding an exit at all costs, but also because you are charged with locating extra batteries for your camcorder, audio and text logs that reveal snippets regarding the back story and events that have led to this current situation, as well as a myriad of additional tasks and objectives that are part and parcel of Miles’ survival in order that he may eventually emerge from this nightmare as unscathed as possible.

Outlast is the kind of game that horror fans have been longing for; suspenseful, chilling and outright nerve-wracking. The skillful use, by the developers, of music and mood is to be commended, and whereas others may simply have resorted to the tiresome ‘jump scare’ method Red Barrels have, instead, gone all out on a far deeper experience more along the lines of something Hitchcockian, if you will.

Naturally there are the more common-or-garden ‘boo!’ moments, where players will be squeezing through a thin gap in a wall, for example, only to be grabbed violently by a screeching inmate from the other side and yanked unceremoniously across the room like a rag doll, but it is with the well thought out use of lighting and atmosphere that Red Barrels truly capture the essence of what a genuine horror game is meant to be, and never once do they ease up on the player throughout the entirety of their torturous trek through the halls of this nightmare.

Outlast              GmP                            image    5Hiding in closets as you hear the thump and drag of encroaching enemies is enough to set anyone’s nerves on edge, but Red Barrels add so much more to melting pot than this. Tension is built in so many different ways from reaching for a crumbling outcropping as you try frantically to escape your pursuers, knowing that if you fall that you have nothing to defend yourself with. Your shaking fingers struggle to replace the batteries in your failing camera as the looming darkness, and insane inmates lurking in the shadows,  creep ever closer  with every passing second. Lunatics whose minds have been callously ripped from their brains by tinkering surgeons cackle in the distance as they make crazed collages of severed limbs, and modern art masterpieces from the body parts of former guards.

All of this and more makes up, what has to be, the underground hit of the year and without a shadow of a doubt the most entertaining and enjoyable survival/horror title since Condemned. If publishers want to be able to make big bucks from their titles without having to constantly dream up new idea’s to steal the Call of Duty/Battlefield install base then it is in titles such as Outlast and studio’s such as Red Barrels that they will find their answers.

Gamers want an assortment of titles, in a variety of genres. Not just point and shoot causal shovelware doled out in annual spoon-fed portions, with just enough content taken out so that Season Passes and the predictable DLC scam inevitably follow. Gamers want role-playing, ( Japanese and Western ), FPS, RNG, MMO, P&C,4×4,strategy, hack’n’slash, fighting games, survival and horror. What we do not want is the same format in every genre, it does not warrant a purchase, and hopefully the woeful sales of titles such as Bioshock Infinite, Resident Evil 6 and FEAR 3 and The Darkness 2 will have pointed this out?

( of course, what will happen in reality is that publishers will just ‘drop’ said franchise and instead of investing in new and exciting IP’s they will undoubtedly fall back on tried and tested tedium such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA and Uncharted )

Gamers need to begin the process of demonstrating ‘people power’ by voting and speaking with their wallets. Outlast is the perfect stage to demonstrate this consumer strength from. I’m not saying don’t buy your regular installment of your favourite annual, far from it. What I am hoping to recommend is that you should be purchasing such cracking titles as Outlast at the first opportunity, and then advising your friends to do the same. The only way to get publishers to promote more games such as Outlast is to prove to them that they are commercially viable.  We can heap plaudits after accolades onto Red Barrels and their amazing work, but if the sales do not raise the eyebrows of the ‘suits’ then it means nothing in the end.

Red Barrels have done a remarkable job with Outlast, and we wish them every success with this and future titles, but we need to show them the financial support of a Forza or an Uncharted if we are ever likely to  see the success matched time and again with follow up smash hit titles.

number-9-pool-ballDo not let this game go un-purchased, un-played and unnoticed. Outlast is a fantastic title, and one that every gamer should have in their collection whether they are fans of the survival/horror genre or not. This game could mark a huge turning point either in publishers returning to the time when actual investments where made in forward thinking and innovative studio’s, or in the way that more and more studio’s go down the self-publishing route. Whatever the result the winners in all of this are ultimately ‘you’, the gamers.

An epic title, this breath of fresh air almost feels revolutionary in its approach as it flies in the face of today’s staid formats and carbon copy videogames market. Outlast is a tour de force, and one that should adorn your game collection already and if not…why not?   Remarkable and inspirational, Outlast should serve as the benchmark for all future independent studio titles.        9 out of 10

Review: Thorium 100 & 300 Series Offer Gamers A Real Alternative

Thorium 300                               GmP                 image 1

Thorium 300                               GmPWith the popularity of videogaming never before reaching such dizzying heights as it is right now the demands by gamers on manufacturers and companies to create ever better technology and peripherals to fuel their single and multiplayer cravings have never been greater.

Naturally with increased resources and research going in to making these ‘next generation’ of PC and console gaming accessories there is an undoubted rise in cost by the companies charged with their invention. This inevitably results in steeper prices for the consumer as rising manufacturing bills and production costs have to be accounted for.

With this in mind it is with great pleasure that we bring to you all a joint review of the Thorium 100 and sister product the Thorium 300, gaming keyboards. These cut price peripherals are just the latest in a procession of budget options for gamers everywhere by the UK’s biggest and best independent technology and gaming retailer eBuyer.

Now we know what you are thinking, ‘budget’. It is now that many readers will recoil almost in mock horror at the very word like some kind of outraged scalded cat, but we are here to tell you that consumer-programming and indoctrination by advertisers aside; ‘budget’ does not have to mean ‘bad’.

Designed and delivered by Element Gaming, although the 300 series is the only specifically touted as a ‘gaming keyboard’, the Thorium range is perfectly suited to the needs and requirements of gamers from the casual, ( Thorium 100 ), to the more hardcore players among you, ( Thorium 300 ).

Ergonomically and aesthetically gorgeous in their sleek black shell the Thorium 100 and 300 keyboards both share a similar size that opts for the larger proportions as opposed to the dinky-digit portable nightmares such as the Razer Tartarus. ( and at a whopping £76 for what is little more than a chat pad stuck on a Tesco’s pricing gun you start to wonder where some of these companies get the figures they charge for these fads from? )

But, we digress!

Thorium 100                               GmPThere are some differences in the design between the Thorium 100 and the Thorium 300, in that the ‘true’ gaming model ( the 300 version ) has a far larger wrist support for those longer bouts of MMO mayhem,, as well as offering up a multi-facetted feature set for macro’s that is a must have for any true PC gamer.

Of course, as with any QWERTY keyboard the main thing to worry about are the button themselves, and coming off the back of he favoured Logitech keyboard’s for this review we have to be perfectly honest with you all when we tell you that the Element Thorium’s ‘both’ have outdone themselves with surprisingly efficient models that have perfectly sized buttons that give ideal response and resistance when depressed.

In fact this pair of delights has been nothing less than ‘surprising’ all round when you consider that their nearest ‘gaming’ rivals are all priced way above the meagre £9.95 for the Thorium 100 and the paltry £24.99 for the Thorium 300. But time and again with the Element Gaming keyboards you will soon discover that this is a pleasant sensation and one not unlike when you hear a boxing commentator describe a great fighter being usurped by a contender ‘punching well above their weight’

Both wired, both offering 50g of pressure and both bringing affordability to the gaming crowd the Thorium 100 and Thorium 300 do have similarities, but it is also in the differences that they have unique strengths too.

Take the features offered by the Thorium 100, for example:

WASD keys with a free ‘key pulling’ and replacement tool. Extremely easy key travel: meaning that you get the same instant response times,  between when you depress a button and the time it takes for the action to appear on screen/monitor,  in a Thorium 100 that you would  find in a keyboard with a much higher price tag.

But the staggering thing is that when you get all of this comfort and performance in a keyboard costing less than a couple of grilled chicken sandwiches at McDonalds.  ( we kid you not )

But wait, there is more.  Much more!

Thorium 300                               GmP                 image 1Just when you thought that Element Gaming couldn’t possibly outdo themselves for bargains and tech at affordable prices they go and throw the Thorium 300 into the melting pot and give gamers everywhere a genuine reason to be cheerful and think that Christmas has come a couple of months early.

Jumping up a definite division and taking on the heavyweights with a lightweight RRP comes the star in the Element Gaming range. The Thorium 300 is, without a doubt, the very best of all the affordable keyboards we have tried, and believe us when we tell you there have been may, ( and yet, none were around the price of the Thorium with the vast majority of what their manufacturers describe as ‘budget’ peripherals actually coming in at around the £40-50 mark )

With a much larger set up the Thorium 300 is easily the most comfortable of the two keyboards thanks to its wider base-board allowing for the housing of additional macro buttons on the left of the QWERTY keys, as well as the highly practical built-in wrist protector on the lower segment. There is also the added functionality of the top section ‘menu bar’ that allows users to form presets for their favourite homepage, search engine and email provider on one side, and also video playback and volume controls on the other.

All of the buttons are softly lit using pleasantly shaded LED’s, and this means that users can comfortably perform keystrokes without eyestrain for late night or darkened room gameplay. No need to worry about software and updates, either, as Windows 7 and 8 both auto-install everything you need to keep your new Element Gaming keyboards operating at optimum output.

Lastly comes the the wired USB cable which comes in the form of the much preferred threaded cable. ( as opposed to the basic plastic cover of the Thorium 100 ). This type of detail is, more often than not, only ever found on keyboards, mice and headsets with a much higher price tag, and yet Element Gaming have included it here in what ahs to be accredited to them as a nice touch.

All told the new Thorium range from Element Gaming is  a  fine opening slvo for this fledgling company, and will, we are sure, be the foundation of a gamer favourite, should this standard of care, product performance and finish be added to all of their future products.

Both keyboards performed well under testing in both the standard office atmosphere as well as in the online arena. The Thorium 100 is more than capable of delivering for casual gamers playing browser based and simpler format titles, and the Thorium 300 more than handled anything that Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Path of Exile threw at it.

number 7 pool ballIf you are looking for an entry level keyboard before setting off an that eternal path to gaming Nirvana then we can highly recommend the Thorium range, particularly the 300, as your starting point. The build is more than capable, and will not let you down in moments of pure panic and stress when you are surrounded by legions of the undead during heavy battles in Diablo 3.  At less than £30 what more could anyone ask?  Scores on the doors for the Thorium range look a little something like this:

Thorium 100 is worthy of a sturdy 6 out of 10and the Thorium 300 achieves a well deserved 7 out of 10. Do NOT be fooled by the price, these are keyboards that will stand you in good stead regardless of the task you set them.

To take a look at the entire Element Gaming range and place your own order for either, ( or both ), of these cracking keyboards then click here to be whisked on over to the eBuyer website.

Gioteck take the EX-05 Headset to the Ps4: review

Gioteck EX-05 Wired Gaming Headset                          GmP                    image 1

For those gamers out there who like the Playstation 4, and according to Sony there are already a reported 9 million of you, then by now you will no doubt you will have been scouring the internet in a bid to track down the best and most affordable headset to accompany your spanking new console. Fear not, good readers, for Gioteck has the solution in the all-new EX-05 HD Gaming Headset.

Technically  capable and aesthetically pleasing, the Gioteck EX-05 weighs in at a mere 1.4 lbs and headphone has dimensions of 8.7 x 7.9 x 4.1 inches with a weight of 1.4 pounds. But the pleasures described in the units specifications do not always amount to a genre leading experience.

The main problem, as we see it, for Gioteck is that in their bid to become the affordable option for the gamer on a tighter budget that somewhere along the lines during production compromises must be made to keep the manufacturing costs down. Unfortunately this means that the performance of the unit is rather underwhelming when you stand it alongside its rivals. ( albeit that said rivals have a far greater price tag )

Yes, the unit boasts some pretty decent gadgetry ‘under the bonnet’, so to speak, but when push comes to shove the Gioteck EX-05 just does not have enough horses to compete with Ferrari’s and Pagani’s of firm favourite thoroughbred’s such as Turtle Beach and SteelSeries.

The days of the uniformed consumer are long gone, and Gioteck should really have known better, particularly being that this very pastime we all love and favour is a based on technology and keeping abreast of the latest developments and breakthroughs so that a player may better enhance their own experiences. Take the very console that the EX-05 is reinventing itself for, the PlayStation 4.  This is a ‘next generation’ system, but Gioteck are hoping that you have last gen knowledge and that even though you have just forked out a whopping £400 to play your Killzone Shadowfall on the very cutting edge of console technology, that you will not mind slapping any old bean cans on your ears to ‘enjoy’ the sound. Really…Gioteck?

Yes, the unit comes armed with a fairly decent set of over the ear cups, complete with integrated speakers that do provide adequate performance for the layman, but all in all it ends up being a lesson in mediocrity for the more experienced gamer.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the UK-based manufacturer.

Gioteck EX-05 Wired Gaming Headset                          GmP                    image 2The Gioteck EX-05’s do have a certain appeal in that there is absolutely nothing like them on the market, and certainly no other company has had anything even remotely approaching the brass cojones to bring gamers an affordable option as opposed to milking them for every penny they can. Without a shadow of a doubt the EX-05 is a competent headset, especially when you consider that its nearest competitor is a staggering £100 out of reach.

In its favour the EX-05’s do have an arsenal of pluses, and very few minuses, such as the outstanding build quality, value for money and compatibility with just about every major format from the Xbox360 and PS3 right through to the PC and PlayStation 4.  ( it is also possible to take advantage of the units cost-effective pricing for the Xbox One by purchasing one of the official adaptors from Microsoft.  Xbox One Stereo Headset Adaptor )

Compatibility with the PlayStation 4 does come at a cost thanks in no small part to the enormous 12 foot wire draping itself snakelike across your gaming room floor, ( six times this cable was detached by dogs, people and children even though it was laid as flat to the floor as we could possibly get it without actually nailing the damn thing there ). The set up is tricky and fiddly and will, no doubt, require Gioteck to upload a helpful ‘How To’ video guide on their Youtube channel.

Don’t misunderstand us here, either. The Gioteck EX-05 is still a very good headset, especially considering the price, but we would argue that it is aimed more toward the casual gamer as opposed to the more core player.

Sound issues for the hardcore gamer arise when trying to play either solo or multiplayer, and they are legion. In any shooter title players will be left uncertain as to the direction of encroaching footsteps, just as they will be unable to identify the location of a gunman taking potshots at them

Hissing is also a major problem with dialogue in solo campaigns sounding like it is being performed by Daffy Duck, and when we tried to rectify the situation by reducing the volume another issue reared its ugly head when the sound quality was adversely affected and instead of delivering deep, rich tones, as promised, the EX-05’s sounded ‘tinny’ and hollow with a distinctly ‘plastic’ feel.

Racing games where also an ordeal as due to the loud and aggressive nature, not only of the cars but also the accompanying soundtracks, the EX-05’s struggled to make any kind of sense of the myriad of different sounds coming out of the console and so the result was a blotchy mess of muffled music and monotone motors.

Maybe if Gioteck decided on which section of the gaming market they wanted to appeal to the resulting peripherals would have some direction, but until this happens then we fear the products are likely to remain cheaper alternatives with little attraction other than a budget stop-gap as you save for the ‘real thing’.

This is truly a shame, as Gioteck do have some great idea’s and are not short of talent in the design and manufacturing departments. This has been proven time and again with some genuine gems such as their HF-02 controller and the excellent docking stations. But, Gioteck do need to decide what they want to be noted for, quality or budget products.

number 6 pool ballThe main problem, as we hinted at earlier, is that in today’s market gamers know that now more than ever the phrase, “ you get what you pay for “, has never rang more true. Gioteck should take note of this and understand that gamers don’t actually mind spending a little more on a peripheral just as long as the item they are buying delivers on the promises made.  For this sentiment, and also for the reasons listed above we award the Gioteck EX-05 Wired Gaming Headset a 6 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

Battlefield 4 review

Battlefield 4          GmP Gaming    image  logo 2Communicate or you will die. Put your head up in the wrong place and you will die.
I have been playing Battle Field since the beginning. I only play this game PvP, which means that I have also witnessed an endless string of blatant Call of Duty players get sniped and knocked out of the game early in their attempts to rush in guns blazing. Battle Field 4 is a tactical game that requires thought, planning and most of all; communication. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your headset primed and ready, so that you can unite and interact with the other players. I take this part so seriously I invested in a decent Plantronics wireless headset recently. It was worth it. The voices are clearer during the game, which helps to cut through the surrounding noise and I can also use it for work when I need to be hands free. Finally gaming and my job work in harmony.

A Team Based Game

Battle Field is a team based game with 4 different roles. It is an interactive and destructive environment. On PvP you can have up to 64 people playing, which leads to a less predictable and enjoyable gaming experience.
Fully Interactive Environments

The most appealing feature of this game are the huge maps. You can snipe someone from a mile away and fully interact with the environment. If you want to drive a tank, plane, helicopter, boat or quad bike – you can! One of my favourite maps is Paracel storm. The sirens sound, a tropical storm blows in and you get hit by a typhoon. You can’t see a thing and it’s awesome!

Battlefield 4          GmP Gaming    image 4Overall Better Gaming Experience on PS4

Having recently switched from an Xbox 360 to a PS4 Console I was particularly excited to get Battle Field 4. However, in terms of control there are limitations on PS4 that were a little frustrating. On the Xbox 360 you can change your load while waiting to enter a new game and have access to a large version of the map. However, on PS4 you have to wait until you enter the new game to change your load and there is only a mini map available, which is a little disappointing. Having said that, the gaming experience is still massively improved on the PS4 leading to a better overall gaming experience and these changes could just be an update from BF3 -BF4.

A Tactical Game That Requires Communication

Newbies that are used to Call of Duty, don’t stand a chance with Battle Field 4. It’s a tactical game. If you enjoy a challenge and you are looking for a PvP game that will get your heart racing – then Battle Field is the game for you.

The next game I have my eye on is Thief, which is a massive contrast with most of the game played sneaking around in the shadows. I look forward to reporting back soon!

Titanfall review

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 2The multiplayer event of the year is finally here!  EA and Microsoft come together in a meeting of minds as the developers cross their fingers for a console selling smash hit with ReSpawn Studio’s sci-fi shooter. But will the mecha action title fall foul of the fickle FPS crowd? Or will it power on through to take the top spot away from its Call of Duty rivals? Read on and discover the answers to these questions and more in the latest GmP review.

Starting out on the futuristic battlefields that make up the play zones of Titanfall,  Electronic Arts latest fingers-crossed moment as they once again go head -to-head with Activision in their latest bid to wrestle the FPS Number One spot away from ‘Cawl of Doody‘, and players are immediately reminded of all of the things that they love about their favoured genre: grenades, guns and gadgetry of the death-dealing kind. But when you look a little deeper into the affairs of this now more than familiar military-mayhem market the new additions of the hulking great mechanoid warriors that drop meteor like from the sky at your request bring with them the kind of fast-paced, hands-on action that similar robot wars titles such as FEAR, and even Transformers, have never been able to master.

Titanfall’s over-qualified creators have actually managed to pull off one of the most enjoyable ‘bot-based’ experiences that we have ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and when you consider that there is a lot more invested in the success of this title than the creators would have you believe, then you begin to appreciate the amount of effort that must have been put into turning thirty feet tall war-bots into fast-moving and fluid-functioning battle droids capable of putting up a stiff challenge to the dominance of the very game that West and Zampella created for Activision all those years ago, and that ultimately changed the face of videogaming forever!

The brains behind the behemoth that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare have taken every ounce of their considerable talent and experience and built what has to be one of the most exciting new concepts of this fledgling generation. Titanfall takes everything that you know and love about military-styled shooters and beefs it up as they pack in more players, more weapons, bigger explosions, bigger enemies and bigger maps than anyone else.

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 1The premise is so simple it’s positively bare-bones:

You are on one side or the other of two opposing and similarly equipped armies…and..erm…” F_I_I_IGHT!

And that’s it! No single player to cloud your senses. No Co-oP Mode for the terminally tiresome who cannot hold their own in a multiplayer game. Just two equally matched forces facing off against each other across a devastated battleground as they leap, sprint, wall-hang and glide across the ruined backdrops before engaging in some of the most engrossing combat you have  ever experienced in an FPS title.

The gameplay itself is eerily familiar but oddly new in some bizarre twist of events as players get to select their soldier and Titan from any one of the preset selections, altering load out, weaponry and available attributes and assets along the way by earning that all-important in-game XP as you complete challenges and objectives in any one of the 15 excellent game modes.

After deciding on your starting selections and tinkering with your brutish war-bot you then get placed on either side of the combat zone and, depending on mode and mission, the murder and mayhem begins!

Gamers who love nothing more than partaking in the multiplayer staple of Domination, for example,  will begin their tour of duty either leaping from a troop transport dropship as they race to defend and capture their designated area’s, or they will fall to the ground seated in any one of their chosen Titan’s, the namesake of the game itself, as these hulking machines which bring the pain to anything and everything in their vastly destructive path.

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 4Whatever mode you plump for matters not, but it does matter in what ‘skin‘ you begin the game. If you are currently sporting a Human appearance then your experience will be all-out, balls-to-the-wall action with all guns blazing and all frags bursting. But if you find yourself at the controls of a Titan then the gameplay, though still startling fast and furious, will be more tactical as you attempt to avoid being turned into shrapnel by your enemies.

Don’t get ReSpawn Studio’s wrong, however, the Titan’s may well be huge, and they may well be powerful, but they aren’t immune or invulnerable to attack from even foot-based troops and bots armed with portable rocket launchers, or who drop onto the cockpits and hang on to the giants limpet-like before prying off the canopy and splattering its pilot all over the upholstery with a few well-aimed bursts of assault rifle fire.

The description of the marriage between Human and Mecha combat, like some kind of homage to the Redneck riot scene from Spielberg’s movie AI, demonstrates the perfect blend of the two vastly differing approaches to gameplay and the way that they blend seamlessly for a multiplayer experience that is not only satisfying, but is unique in its genre and unsurpassed for adrenalin-fuelled excellence.

The excellence, though, is not contained to the combat as ReSpawn Studio’s shows the correct way to build a multiplayer map with some of the very best combat zones ever to be found in any online shooter. With hidden entrances, nooks and crannies and wall-hang spots a-plenty for players to leap and spring from like armour plated gazelles, Titanfall just has everything that you could possibly wish for in an FPS title.

Graphically stunning and running at a buttery smooth 900p 60 frames per second on the Xbox One, and a simply gorgeous 1080p 60fps pn the PC, this game is, quite frankly so far ahead of its rivals that they would need to borrow a sniper rifle and expand the scope to 4 times just to get it  in view.

number-9-pool-ballOf course, not only are EA and ReSpawn hoping that Titanfall is a massive seller for them, but Microsoft are also hoping that this is a ‘system seller‘ that brings more ‘bums on seats’ for the Xbox One. It IS, and it WILL  Titanfall is ‘that good’. But don’t take our word for it, jump across to EA’s online store here and grab your copy of Titanfall and drop into the hottest action in gaming.   Titanfall gets a thoroughly deserved 9 out of 10

Stay with GmP as we bring you some of the fastest and nest online gameplay from EA’s outstanding shooter on our Twitch TV channel.

 

TITLE:                  
FORMAT:                                               Xbox One            [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:                                        ReSpawn Studio’s

PUBLISHER:                                         Electronic Arts


RELEASE DATE:                                    March 13th, 2014
RRP:                                                          £39.99
PEGI RATING:                                        M for Mature


SCORE OUT OF 10:                                9 out of 10

 

 

 

Max : The Curse of Brotherhood review

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image logo 1The eyes have it!

The latest downloadable title for Microsoft’s Xbox One console comes to the fore today as we take a look at Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Imagining on first glance that this was some kind of spin off platformer from Ubisoft as they stretch their Assassin’s Creed tentacles out in all directions, ( doesn’t it seem that no matter where you look, and on whatever platform and in whatever genre, that there is an Assassin’s Creed title lurking behind the curtain waiting to spring out like a shadowy thief and run off with your wallet ),  Max: TCoB leaps into action from the very get go with its brightly coloured animations and thoughtful level design.

Having tasted the delights that await all Xbox One owners on every available title for the next-gen system , we can honestly say that it is in the fantastical realm in which our intrepid hero Max finds himself cast as he searches longingly for his magically kidnapped brother, Felix, that we have most enjoyed our stay.

Following the usual format in which every new console gets its own shiny new platformer IP upon launch, Max: TCoB sticks to this time-honoured tradition, even though the game itself is more a re-imagining of the original max and the Magic Marker title from the developer,  whilst at the same time shattering it like cut glass into a million fragments by producing a gameplay and graphical experience that knocks spots off its siblings.

One cannot help but to be impressed by the striking visuals on display, even though the cut scenes themselves are few and far between and when they are on screen they are but fleeting episodes. Max: TCoB manages to give off a mesmeric blend of classic retro-styled platform gaming, in the truest sense of the description, with its 2D animations and tried and tested methodology of traps and pitfalls befalling our young starlet along the way. But, at the same time Max: The Curse of Brotherhood manages to also bring a new and vibrant feel to the proceedings with some innovative level design that see’s the camera, at times, giving off an almost 3D outlook, as the player is drawn ever deeper into the sprawling world that the developers at Press Play have created for our enjoyment.

There is also the extremely clever use of tools, props and atmosphere which all marry their own individual qualities into a bubbling and broiling broth of brilliance as the game moves along at a sparkling, but never breakneck, pace. The timing and the urgency of the ‘life or death’ events, which face Max in every chapter,  are perfectly sprinkled with liberal precision throughout the game’s story, and never once are they spooned in like a massive dollop of ice cream in the middle of a three course meal that causes an immediate explosion of pleasure, but ultimately results in a whopping bout of indigestion and gastric discomfort.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves a little. Le’s first describe the events which lead to our hero’s current family calamity, shall we?

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image 1The game’s story is set against the back drop of two young brothers in the midst of a pre-pubescent sibling rivalry as older brother Max is greeted with the sight of the younger Felix destroying his bedroom and toys after a hard day’s work at school. In a fit of anger Max wishes his brother would disappear, and like the plot from any number of Vice Versa styled travesties featuring A-listers whose career’s are on the nosedive, Max watches as a magical portal opens up and swallows his younger brother before he can reach out and save him. Only thing for it then?  Let’s get on into this glowing doorway and rescue the little b-b-b ‘brother’.

From here on in players are plunged into the world of the evil genius who has dominion of this realm, the mad, bad and dangerous to know ‘ Mustacho ‘, and it is a sizzling combination of enjoyable environmental puzzles and brain teasers that will have you smiling and grimacing in teeth-gnashing frustration in equal measures.

Max once again has his legendary ‘Magic Marker’ firmly in place, however, thanks to a mysterious Old Woman, who appears to Max only in the form of a disembodied voice, the young explorer soon discovers that his ‘Pen of Destiny’ has new-found powers of construction and destruction thanks to some magical properties bestowed upon it at regular intervals.

Naturally Press Play do not want players becoming ‘all powerful’ in the game’s opening chapter, and so the marker pen is only granted one power at a time, building to take full advantage of the all of the new-found attributes as the game progresses. First on the agenda come the ‘branches’ which will allow Max to safely traverse the perilous environments which can easily see our hero falling to his doom at any given moment.

However, unlike the original title from Press Play, this latest Max game does not allow the marker to draw whatever it wants when it wants, and instead only allows players to create given objects and items at set points an positions along the course of the game. This makes for far more challenging gameplay as the developer is now able to set ever more difficult puzzles and tasks.

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image 2Make no mistake, this is not some forgiving yawn-fest that will have you breezing through to earn a quick 1000 achievement points to add to you growing collection, far from it. Max: TCoB is testy affair that will try even the most patient of souls, and then come back and poke at them with a stick until they fly off in a fit of rage.

Next comes the ability to build towering earth pillars, topped nicely with a grassy knoll for Max to safely cling to and stand on as he raises himself up to reach whatever outcropping is just out of reach at the levels opening. Then subsequently there are water based powers which allow Max to be jetted across the level as the jets of water power him up and across to new positions.

There are also the fire and hanging vines to take into account, and ultimately there are those parts of the game’s story in which players will be able to mix and match any number of Max’s newly discovered powers so that they better compliment each other and therefore better assist Max to achieve his goal of rescuing his younger brother from the evil Mustacho’s clutches.

Excellent level design see’s players tasked with everything from chase scenes, where you will be fleeing from giant ape-like creatures across a myriad of varying environments, right through to raft building with branches to navigate monster strewn waterways, swinging on jungle vines like some kind of ten year-old Tarzan and firing of fireballs of death like a short-round Sith apprentice.

The controls work very well, and even though there have been a few voices of dissent in the gaming press that have claimed that the controller is not the best option for managing the tasks at hand with the powers given, this is , in fact, a somewhat ridiculous statement given the fact the game is designed to be difficult and tough on the trial and error type format without being so easy to dominate that you basically just ruin end to end in a matter of minutes.

The controls work perfectly well, and if anything the detractors claiming them to be a hindrance should harken back to days when games such as this had nothing more than ‘up, down, left, right jump’ to control the gameplay with. No, wait, that is exactly what Max The Curse of Brotherhood has!  See our point?

So, then, after a trying time of it being chased down and hunted by hulking great gorilla-like monsters, and ripping the hidden ‘eyes’ of Mustacho’s CCTV that litter the game zones, we end up at the infuriating boss fight, but eventually we are successful in our endeavour, and you will be too. But that is the objective.

number-9-pool-ballMax The Curse of Brotherhood is a fun filled romp through some very enjoyable graphics and highly entertaining gameplay. A great example of what platforming can be when a little care and a lot of dedication is ploughed into the development. All told a lot of game for not a lot of money, and one that we can only wholeheartedly recommend.  By far and away the best title to launch on the Xbox One thus far.             9 out of 10

TITLE:                                                   Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
FORMAT:                                              Xbox One              [reviewed]
DEVELOPER:                                         Press Play
PUBLISHER:                                        Microsoft Game Studio’s

 

RELEASE DATE:                                     20 December 2013    
RRP:                                                           £14.99
 

  SCORE OUT OF 10:                             9 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty Ghosts review Xbox One Version

Call of Duty Ghosts             GmP Gaming        image 3With the next generation of videogame consoles now fully underway we turn our attention to the Mother of All shooter titles, Call of Duty, and ask the questions posed by readers if this really is a current gen game on a next-gen platform? Will Infinity Ward step in to save the franchise, or is Call of Duty just a ‘Ghost’ of it former self? Let’s find out together as we review Activision’s powerhouse FPS title.

Let’s get one thing right from the off shall we? Then, perhaps, we’ll understand each other a little better?  We kinda like Call of Duty. So, with that sentiment ringing in your ears understand us when we say that we will not be jumping on the negativity band wagon, nor will we be taking large chunks out of the game for not being ‘original’, or that it is ‘just another shooter like its predecessor’.  Call of Duty is, and always has been, a first person military shooter, if this offends you, or if you think that because it still is a military based shooter that it hasn’t progressed enough to be worthy of your mediocre praise, then this is not going to be the review for you. Battlefield 4 will be along shortly….or maybe even Killzone Shadowfall if you’re really bored?

So, for the rest of you, the guys and girls who just like to get online and mix it up in the fastest playing shooter title with the most addictive gameplay, let’s begin shall we?

Back following its latest annual change of hands we now have Infinity Ward at the helm of the Good Ship Call of Duty, and boy! Does it ever show! Ghosts explodes back onto your TV screen with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and all of the usual visual and interactive delights of a Hollywood blockbuster. Looking like the bastard lovechild of a Michael Bay movie and an Andy McNab novel, after its parents had unprotected sex during a drunken encounter at E3, Call of Duty Ghosts is back with more bang for your buck than any other FPS title on the market.

The storyline, this time around at any rate, see’s players stepping into the sneakers of a teenage boy as his father and brother are out exploring the woods around their home. Sounds like one of those perfect ‘Father/Son’ moments that you never had with your Dad. All is going smoothly until a series of ‘tremors’ rocks the vicinity. Rightly puzzled our three family members head towards home for safety, but not before a massive explosion rocks their world. Whatever it is, and Dad seems to know more than he is letting on, as he frantically screams at his two boys to get home whilst at the same time shaking his fist at the sky like some kind of extra from Beowulf yelling: ” Its Odin, I tells ya!

Okay, well, maybe not the ‘I tells ya’? We may have ad-libbed a little there, but you get the general idea, yes?

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   3From here on in everything is pretty much as you would expect from a Call of Duty title, in that we have all of the usual suspects of whistles, bangs, explosions and missiles by the proverbial bucketful. With the  ‘enemy’ this time being made up of a United States of South America, as the Southern Hemisphere countries of the American continent unite under a single banner to form the new ‘Federation’, ( insert scary music here ). The scene is set, then, for the upcoming tale of a country brought to its knee’s by a shadowy foreign power, and with its military being scattered to the four winds they now rely on the skills of the elite few men and women, ( yes! you read that right! ‘women’ are part of the Call of Duty line up for the first time in the franchises history ).of the secretive ‘Ghost’ squadron as the tables are turned on the former super power US as they are attacked from within by their own weapons, following some ingenious hacking by some cyber types and action-boffins. Ghosts offers up a mesmeric tale of terror and battling against the odds. The question of whether or not the mission will be a success requires only one more thing to tip the balance in favour of the ‘Good Guys’, and that, dear GmP reader…..is you!

Make no mistake about it, although the franchise may now be clocking on in years, Call of Duty still enters into the FPS arena with a spring in its step more representative of a younger man, and let’s be honest here, what it does…it always does very well, and far better than the competition.

The single player may have come in for a little bit of flak from the world’s gaming media, often being labelled as ‘last gen’, but ‘last gen’ in comparison to what, exactly?  There is no doubt about it that when you see Call of Duty: Ghosts being played on the Xbox One then it is a far superior version than even its well established Xbox360 sibling, ( and head and shoulders above the PlayStation 3 edition ), but if the truth be told of the quality of the gameplay and the handling of the features the Call of Duty has never looked better, across any of the available platforms.

Speaking of the available features, Call of Duty Ghosts is positively littered with new additions to the single, co-op and multiplayer formats. One cannot even begin to mention the solo outing without first embarking on a glowing testimonial of ‘Riley’, the now infamous Call of Duty attack hound.

RileyNamed after the much renowned ‘Ghost’ character from the Modern Warfare storyline, Riley is the German Shepherd ‘Ghost-est with the most-est’. Packed with pixels and polygons that grant this canine character  some truly lifelike attributes, this is one pooch that you wouldn’t want to bump into down a darkened alley after a few rounds of sherbet’s at your local boozer. Riley is anything but a token sideshow and, thanks to a veritable arsenal of tech and weaponry all strapped to his Kevlar combat harness, he is a definite attribute to his duo of Human partners.

Players are able to take control of the K-9 unit at various points along the way as the game’ storyline progresses, and they will soon discover that having their four-legged friend at their beck and call to smash through windows and savage the Hell out of enemy soldiers inside buildings is a definite bonus.

Riley is also available for an excellent slant on a staple of any FPS title, in that Infinity Ward have allowed the player to take the reins, so to speak, of the dog itself as you sneak through a stealth level deciding to bypass or kill targets along the way as you see fit. This new take on an old favourite works very well indeed, and if anything only serves to leave the player begging for more of the same in later levels. Alas, however, such segues into the stealth ninja doggy are few and far between.

But it isn’t just your new-found puppy that has all the good gadgets and guns, not by a long chalk. Everything from abseiling, sorry ‘rappelling’, down the side of exploding skyscrapers to swimming with realistic fishies has been given a far glossier touch by the collective of developers all pulling together to make Call of Duty Ghosts the far prettier spectacle that it so very much is. Especially in comparison to earlier offerings in the series.

Players are also treated to a new armoury full of updated AK’s, MTAR’s and sniper rifles with all of the present day firearms being given a gloss of fresh paint and some snazzy new attachments to bring them screaming into the next generation of firearms.

Naturally with the new weapons come new issues, such as the far more realistic recoils, pulling to the side with the faster firing sub machine guns and assault rifles, as well as the noticeable weight difference when carrying say, a pistol to a heavy belt fed or box fed machine gun. Gone are the days of merely point and shoot as players must now learn to compensate for life threatening weave and bob as you blast away with your weapon of choice. It is in these kinds of details that Infinity Ward have given Call of Duty a far greater sense of realism.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   4This sense of added accuracy when it comes to everything from the way that the weapons handle to the damage dealt and taken does not end there either, the environment now comes in for greater attention, also, thanks to the new engine adopted by Infinity Ward. This now allows the player to experience a far deeper sense of immersion into the game’s storyline as they dodge falling chunks of masonry from shattered citadels and church’s. Players now get treated to a much more believable sense of urgency in moments of high drama as they strive to avoid being crushed, drowned, blown up or decapitated by falling tree’s, crumbling skyscrapers and flaming vehicles being tossed around the battlefield like confetti thanks to some truly impressive physics all supplied by that aforementioned new Infinity Ward engine.

Although still not as long as some people may wish for, the staff here at GmP included in that sentiment, Ghosts does supply an excellent outing for the single player mode, and should you wish to return to the event with the difficulty level set a notch higher each time, then there are four returns available to you, but be warned: The learning curve when you increase the settings from even Recruit to Hardened will give even the most competent shooter player a run for his money.

One totally new addition to the series is the competent ‘Extinction’ mode, where players will take on waves of re-spawning alien beasts as they attempt to battle their way through the screeching hordes hoping to destroy the monsters’ nests before they rip your character to pieces.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   Extinction 1Obviously a move to try to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for Zombies built up by their counterparts at Treyarch, Infinity Ward are definitely onto a winner with Extinction, although quite why the two studio’s could not have just come together in a meeting of minds to bring the Call of Duty faithful the mode that they really all wanted is, quite frankly, beyond us? But, nevertheless, Extinction will still satisfy that itch and reach the parts other shooters cannot.

Co-oP is back for more of the same, and if you haven’t played through any Call of Duty title with a friend or loved one in tow then shame on you! Co-oP is one of the most endearing and positive aspects to any title, but in Call of Duty it is a definite reason to keep on returning time and time again to the main storyline’s missions. Whether you want to try to beat your last scores and times, or whether you just want to get together with a few pals and settle in for some manic mayhem of the military kind, then Call of Duty Ghosts has the perfect mode for you.

Another shining new feather in the Call of Duty cap is ‘Clan Wars’, the mobile app that has set the forums alight with its bonus content, additional attributes and even achievement earning features. Players are able to create, manage and compete with their own clans all thanks to the new Smartphone/Tablet app, ( available here ), and all for the added price of ‘nothing!’. Brilliant!

Another ‘brilliant’ inclusion into the gameplay mode list of lovelies is the gentle introduction to the games’ multiplayer with the training grounds that are ‘Squads’.  This is as to tutorial as L plates are to learner drivers: compulsory and necessary. If you are a total novice, or if you are familiar with the format of Call of Duty online but just feel that you would like to get to grips with the new weapons and maps before you throw yourself headlong into the chaos that is multiplayer warfare, then Squads is the place for you.

Fully customizable load-outs and weapons, as well as being able to populate the opposing teams with both friends and extremely competent AI combatants, Squads will be the place where a lot of players cut their teeth before they get down to main course of the full multiplayer mode. But do not underestimate the computer assisted opposition, as you will do so at your own peril.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   2One excellent advantage to stopping off at the all-new Squads section of the game is that this is where Activision and Infinity ward allow players to build their own personalized personae from the ground up in the ‘Create a Character’ feature. A definite tick in the plus box, Create a Character means that players can earn XP, sample and try out a variety of new weapons and attachments, as well as earning enough points for snazzy *uniform upgrades, ( * NB: although do be advised that you only get a ‘preview’ of what the new uniform and its colour will look like, and the game itself will auto-select the appropriate outfit for whichever map you are about to play ).

The bonuses to be earned in Squads do not finish up with mere aesthetics, however. Players may also transport their character with them wherever they go, as they travel to friends, for example, they will be to sign in on any Xbox360 and/or Xbox One, and the newly crafted character, complete with attributes, skills and arsenal,  will be automatically taken across with you. This works exactly the same for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

However, if you are one of the legion of avid Nintendo gamers playing Ghosts on your Wii U, then you will be able to command and control your Clan Wars crew, as well as customize your created character, from the comfort of the excellently taken advantage of Gamepad. Which, in effect, takes over fully the features of the Smartglass-cum-App Store application.

This seamless transition of data from one platform to the next across the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live is not the only silky smooth switch made by Infinity Ward when it comes to Call of Duty Ghosts, though.  As those players who have had the benefit of spending any time on the Xbox One version will attest too. The brighter, more detailed environments of the next generation edition of Xbox One’s Ghosts is clearly superior to the PlayStation 4, but that’s more a fault on the part of Sony’s own network rather than on the transference of  gameplay and data made by the developer. Nowhere is that more blatantly obvious than when players see Call of Duty Ghosts being enjoyed in its natural habitat of Xbox Live as it silkily plays through at a constant 60 frames per second with consummate ease.

Speaking of silky smooth….

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   5Moving on to the multiplayer and here we come to the mode that most of you out there will be spending your time with.  Now with the added bonus of having Activision hosted dedicated servers Call of Duty Ghosts steams into the FPS action with all the ferocity of a pouncing tiger! But if you were expecting things to have gone back to the good old days of the run and gun masterpiece that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, as promised by Infinity Ward yet again, then you may have to change your initial thoughts.

Back for more explosive online action Ghosts kicks off proceedings with an all-new layout, points systems, weaponry, uniforms, create a character and load-out menu. It does not disappoint. Players can opt for their own Squads character, or they may choose from any one of the available preset selections including, for the first time, female avatars.

Once you have selected your gender, kit and choice of uniform then it is on to your first major decision of your online career: weaponry.

Infinity Ward have been nothing if not inventive when it comes to beefing up the arsenal of players who are being asked to imagine available weaponry that may only be but a few short years away from genuine production. With that in mind, then, how hard it must have been to stay within the realms of the realistic and not venture off into the science fiction is truly an understatement, indeed.  It may appear a trifling matter to design a few weapons of the future based upon todays current technology, but to then add the attachments, performance, handling and range whilst all at the same time making the rifles and guns appear believable, and not look like they come straight out of a Babylon 5 episode, is quite something else.

All of the weapons, Primary, Secondary , with the exception of the optional secondary launchers, come with their own particular gadgets and gizmo’s to enhance the feel and performance of the chosen death-dealer. Everything from armour-piercing rounds and extra magazines right through to the more tactically advantageous items such as the Variable Scope and the Handgrip are on offer to players once they have performed the mandatory requirements and collected enough ‘Squad Points’.

Squad Points can be earned via challenges, of which players are tasked with things such as killing with particular weapons or performing streak kills and capturing objectives, and also from within Squads itself, albeit at a far slower rate due to the combat taking place between AI Bots and Humans.

Although a great many game types are on offer to those players selecting the Standard, or ‘Core’, gameplay option, there are somewhat limited choices for those of you looking for the more challenging action to be found in the games Hardcore mode. Indeed, there were only a meagre three options until the recent inclusion of Domination to the Hardcore line up.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image  camping 1This does, somewhat, explain the rather disturbing lack of attention paid to the more genuine gamer, when it comes to the online segments of Call of Duty, as well as other similar FPS titles.  The men in suits that make the decisions could really care less about the ‘real gamers’, and so instead pander to the masses, often permitting even the most loathed parts of the gameplay which allows the ‘non gamer’ to simply camp down surrounded by everything from radars, booby traps, mines, IED’s, attack dogs and so much more, as they select those same predictable ‘one shot kill’ weapons of the sniper rifle, over powered pistols and shotguns as well as then adding the most game enhancing of perks as they sit back and build up enough points to let the killstreak rewards then take over and play the game out for them.

This ‘dumbing down’ of the Call of Duty franchise has left the ‘real gamer’ with little doubt that their days are numbered in the series, and so because of this Call of Duty has seen a gradual movement of players shifting away from Ghosts and Black Ops II, and into the arms of titles such as Arma III, Battlefield 4 and even older titles such as S.T.AL.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and Red Orchestra,  for example. Hell, even Left 4 Dead has seen its player numbers rocket.

But, as we have seen in the past this will not affect the way that Call of Duty as a multiplayer game panders to its non-gamer masses as, at the end of the day, they are the ones in the majority and they are the ones buying all of the DLC, Season Passes and other such additional content as the infamous reticule and weapon skin packs.

Of course, some may argue that labelling the large proportion of these players as ‘non gamers’ is somewhat ‘elitist’ in its approach, however, we can only sympathise with the sentiment. How many times have you looked into a players gamer card and compared games only to discover that they have only ever played Call of Duty, and not even bothered to manage the solo campaign on its simplest setting.  As we say, ‘non gamer’ is about as perfect a moniker for these ‘players’ as it gets.

So, then., with that what does the future hold for Call of Duty? Well, only time will tell, but what Activision fails to realise is that even those players who were the last gen’s ‘non gamers’ and ‘campers’ have themselves ‘grown up’, so to speak, and with that they are actually looking for more challenging gameplay, as opposed to merely hiding in any one of the purpose-built corners surrounded by claymores and bouncing betties for the duration of hostilities. With that, they themselves, the one-time ‘non gamers‘ are now also looking for genuine gun-on-gun action, of the kind that made Modern Warfare and the Call of Duty franchise synonymous with having  the best online shooter action.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   7Aside from the teeth-gnashingly frustrating time that the corner-hugging campers deliver in Activision and Infinity Ward’s seminal shooter series, Call of Duty Ghosts is still, nevertheless, ‘the’ FPS title of the year once again.  Maybe there was a new engine built from the ground up for the Xbox One and the next-gen introduction of the world’s favourite shooter, and maybe there wasn’t? Whatever you choose to believe the facts do remain the same that Call of Duty is still the ‘go to guy’ for first person shooter players around the globe.

The sheer weight of new additions to not only the graphics, but also the gameplay, features, modes and even the very character models themselves should mean that Call of Duty Ghosts has been scoring even higher in the reviews than its predecessor, Black Ops II, did? Shouldn’t it?

Well, if you have been reading some of the short and sweet ditties from any one of the host of websites and publications who have been giving Ghosts a somewhat frosty reception, then ‘no’, would have to be the reply.

Quite why and how some of these publications, from apparently reputable journalists, have come to their conclusions and awarded Call of Duty Ghosts the scores that they did is, quite frankly, beyond us?  These are the same publications and journo’s that positively applauded Black Ops II, and then when they get all of the improvements and all of the upgrades, as well as a good deal many more, not to mention a veritable feast of extra features and modes, then they score the next game in the series ‘down’? Just seems a little odd to us, is all. Yes, we may have our own personal online gripes with Ghosts, but at the heart of this review is the fact of the matter that what call of Duty does do, they still do better than anyone else out there. That is just a fact.

So, with the facts being delivered like a round to the chest from a high-powered sniper rifle all we have to do now is give you our own conclusions and final scoring for Call of Duty Ghosts. Given the tough task that both Treyarch and  Infinity Ward have on their hands to deliver to the ever-growing, ever-demanding Call of Duty community a new and stunning title every twelve months, then we have to say that what we believe that IW have achieved is nothing short of remarkable. To be constantly improving, tinkering and updating their basic franchise package, but in such a way as to not totally alienate their entire customer base, is nothing short of miraculous, to say the least.

The fact that in one year alone Infinity Ward have managed to update and reinvent their title is a testament to the dedication that these men and women who make up the development teams, have to themselves, their fans and their ‘baby’: the game itself.

Quite what the naysaying detractors and the biro carrying boo-brigade expect from a title that has somehow managed to stay a constant one step ahead of the competition for some considerable years now, is beyond us here at GmP? But, we have to say that we think that the developer has done a stellar job of bringing Call of Duty into the next generation.

Looking far sharper, and with so much detail at times you almost forget that they are not actually ‘your’ hands clutching your spiffy new rifle, Call of Duty Ghosts has brought with it, this year, a whole wealth of content and features that any other game would absolutely kill for! Not content with merely wiping the floor with the competition on consoles, they have also given both the PC and the mobile gamers something to craw about with an excellent app addition which allows players not only to keep a tab on their profile, and mark their progress throughout the game, but the Call of Duty  app also grants payers access to a new world of wonders with the simply excellent: Clan Wars. ( and another bonus on the mobile is Xbox Smartglass and Call of Duty Elite ) On top of that comes the sheer spectacular quality of the game running on PC, as most of our readers can already attest too.

number-8-pool-ballAll in all Call of Duty Ghosts still does more than most, and better than everyone. It is still the number one shooter title, and it still has the largest online console community for any title in any genre. ( even FIFA doesn’t topple this FPS juggernaut ). So, if it’s multiplaying magnificence with the fastest fighting format in the shooter genre that you are after, then Call of Duty Ghosts just has to be the game for you.  Building on the success of last years Black Ops II with a wealth of features, new additions and enhanced graphics we give Call of Duty Ghosts a whopping 8 out of lovely 10.

 

 

 

Developer(s) Infinity Ward

Publisher(s) Activision Square-Enix (Japan)
Writer(s) Stephen Gaghan
Composer(s) David Buckley
Series Call of Duty
Engine IW Engine Havok
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows PlayStation 3 PlayStation 4 Wii U Xbox 360 Xbox One
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U & Xbox 360  November 5, 2013[ November 14, 2013 December 14, 2013 PlayStation 4  November 15, 2013 November 29, 2013 February 22, 2014 Xbox One  November 22, 2013
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killzone Shadowfall review

Killzone Shadowfall                                        GmP Gaming        image 3Guerrilla Games try to inject a little more pomp and a lot more circumstance into their first person shooter franchise with their latest title in the Killzone series. But will Shadowfall be a bullseye or a glaring misfire? Read on to discover all in the GamesMediaPro review of Sony’s flagship FPS title.

Bless their little cotton socks, the hardware manufacturer’s and developers, all trying to convince the cash paying public that they ‘need’ to purchase any one of the duo of upcoming next generation videogame consoles, from the much maligned Xbox One to the Playstation 4, have all been touting their own exclusive titles as the main selling points as to just why gamers should opt for their system as opposed to their arch rivals’.

Take Sony, for example. They have been spouting on about Killzone: Shadowfall as some kind of mouth-wateringly gorgeous witchcraft and wizardry, of which the likes have not been seen since the days of Merlin, and with such technological inroads being made that they were hard pressed to keep this title under wraps until the next next generation.

Sold yet?

Well, for those GmP readers out there not wearing Sony-branded blinkers it would seem that you were not fooled in the slightest by the ‘laser blue’ lighting effects and the ‘same old, same old’ storyline of the teaser trailer from the now infamous Sony ( deliberately delayed ) E3 2013 conference.  You were right in being sceptical.

Killzone: Shadowfall, though a great deal chunkier around the midriff care of a somewhat meatier diet of story telling and digital eye candy, has, unfortunately, fallen foul of that age-old problem of ‘believing your own hype’.  A competent shooter at the best of times Killzone was always going to struggle in the ‘shadow’, ( no pun intended ), of a genre defining Halo 4 that set the reviews tables alight with an outgoing 7th Generation showing that was, arguably, the prettiest and most playable version of the series to date. Add to that pressurized pounding the promise of a next-gen Xbox One Halo that has, reportedly, the ‘Promised Land’ of a staggering 60 frames per second of solo, local and online gameplay and you can begin to see a pattern forming already that Killzone: Shadowfall was never going to break free from.

The plot to Shadowfall was typical Killzone fodder with the Helghast once again being portrayed as the bad guys of the piece, even though the Vektan forces have, in effect, bullied and battered this race to the point of genocide, and what we get is another lukewarm telling of a Helghan people who, somehow, miraculously managed to survive the last, or should we say ‘latest’, ‘final’ onslaught and, somehow, managed to re-populate their entire species with some rampant copulation of record-breaking proportions that see’s the decimated race of gas-masked goons rising from the ashes and once again becoming a multi-million strong force of militant minions in only around a fortnight.

Killzone Shadowfall                                        GmP Gaming        image 1But, moving on, as I am sure the writers wish us too, and without too much scrutiny of the time frames involved, we actually are informed that it is, in fact, 30 years post apocalypse and that a handful of Helghan survivors ‘did’ actually manage to scramble from the ruins of their once vibrant planet only to be greeted with a new terror: Vektan’s who have now become Liberals and decided that they are sorry for their most recent act of inhumanity against their people. By this we mean that the Vektan’s now want to make amends for the near total annihilation of their species by building them some hi-rise hovels and becoming their new slumlords. Welcome to the future, Helghans, and your new life in the beautiful cardboard city of a cyber Tower Hamlets.

Still, could be worse. They could have been forced to play Killzone: Shadowfall online as some sort of sick and twisted penance.

So, after thirty years of living under the heel of their Vektan landlords, the simmering under current amongst the Helghan tenants finally boiles over and tensions rise higher than Sony’s expectations for Guerrilla Games’ beleaguered shooter series. Well, maybe not quite ‘that’ high.

Cue the now eye-roll inducing obligatory Sony exclusive cut-scenes that seem to litter every one of their console specific titles like some kind of floating digital detritus, and what do we have? Well, to be perfectly honest with you all what you have is yet another lack lustre attempt at toppling the Microsoft powerhouse sci-fi shooter franchise Halo from its much-coveted Number One spot.  Ho-hum, indeed.

So, then, ever onward we trot in the tale of yet another war-mongering saga that leaves the player in little doubt that we, as Human beings, are made much in the same mould as our Helghan and Vektan counterparts, in that we seem to be on some predetermined path to self-destruction and the total annihilation of anything that gets in our path because, well, that’s just what we do…isn’t it?

Much, then, like their Human cousins, both parties in Killzone: Shadowfall seem Hell-bent on blasting everything and everyone back to the aforementioned Hell, before they have it done to them by their opposite numbers. Why, you may ask? Why, indeed, But the answer is as plain as the breathing apparatus on a Helghan’s face, and it’s quite simply ‘because they can’.

Unfortunately this, ‘because they can’, sentiment is the mainstay of the entire games’ plotline, and because of this you soon find that you have a distinctly metallic taste in your mouth when you consider the point of playing as either one of the given sci-fi saga’s people’s, much in the way of a weeping dental abscess that delivers that coppery and zinc taste to the back of your mouth after a serious infection.

Killzone Shadowfall                                        GmP Gaming        image 4The fact that neither one of the armies on display offers up even the remotest scrap of decency or moral superiority, and more often than not always opt for the most antagonistic and outright loathsome of the options available to them, makes for dire and grim playtime indeed when it comes to wading through the fetid filth that is the games’ storyline. You just don’t care about any of the characters enough because of their downright effluent smelling personalities, as well as their blatant ‘one-upmanship’ of motives as they go ‘tit for tat’ throughout the entire single player campaign. If the Helghans kill a family of four, then the Vekatns simply have to murder an extra sibling in their obligatory retaliatory strike. If the Vektans pollute the drinking water of an entire Helghan city and kill of the entire population of said urban environment, then the reaction by the embittered victims is not to seek solace and remembrance of a futile conflict that is aimlessly costing the lives of millions of innocents, oh no!  All the Helghan’s want to do is dump 3000 gallons of toxic waste into the Vektan drinking water supply and ‘off’ their entire Race in one fell swoop.  The storyline in Shadowfall is ‘such that it instantly renders all of the playable, and even the vast majority of the accompanying NPC’s, as puerile, predictable and thoroughly unpleasant.

And then things really start to take a turn for the worst.

Graphically ‘solid’, but this says nothing considering the promises played out in previous trailers from Sony and Guerrilla Games, Killzone: Shadowfall wades into the fray of yet more pointless combat by once again painting everything in drab and overcast colours, but at the same time strangely thinking that everyone will somehow think that this is okay and ‘next gen’ by the developer merely giving every reflective surface a ghostly blue-ish tinge. They are wrong.

What this graphical faux pas does do, in fact, is highlight the blatant lack of innovative design by making the gameplay look like a Manga styled Japanese anime cartoon as opposed to a title delivering actual gameplay that demonstrates the kind of cutting edge technological marvel worthy of a gamer spending over £500 of their hard-earned cash to enjoy.

Did we say ‘enjoy? Apologies, we meant to say ‘endure’.

The glaring contrast between graphics and gameplay is nowhere more evident than in the games single player campaign as you are treated to some of the most inept enemy AI, complete with head-scratching teammates who makes some of the most confusing decisions to either charge headlong into the battle like suicide bombers, or in a complete turn around they will just stand idly by as the entire Helghan army descends upon your position as they thumb through a particularly engrossing article by Gloria Hunniford in this months Woman’s Own magazine.

Pretty pictures do not a game make, it is in the core mechanics of the actual gameplay that decides whether or not a title is a hit or a miss, and with Killzone Shadowfall there isn’t even a batsman at the wicket to receive the ball from the bowler.

But the flaws do not end there. Not by a long chalk.

Killzone Shadowfall                                        GmP Gaming        image 2Killzone Shadowfall also ‘falls’ victim to a lack lustre character design that renders anyone you come into contact with instantly forgettable or utterly unpalatable, usually a combination of both in equal measure. The checkpoint system is painful, at best, often setting players back through entire chapters before tasking them with repeating the same predictable orders of advance, capture and/or kill.

There is another major problem with combat in that there is absolutely no aim assist whatsoever. Well, for you at least as it would seem that should even the most minute area of your character be visible to the Helghan troopers then regardless of distance, cover, obstacles or weapon they currently have to hand, the opposite numbered ‘space nazis’ will blast you from here all the way back to the next far distant checkpoint. Frustrating? To say the least!

Of course, that’s not to say its all doom and gloom for Shadowfall….after all, it is pretty.

Take the few segments of the game where you are swinging from a rope attached to a helicopter as you a flown around the city whilst all the time desperately trying to cling to the line or drop to your grisly doom. Now that! ‘That’ is a great section of gameplay that shows the player just what the PlayStation 4 is capable of doing, and at least gives hope for the future of the system.

But, again it does raise the point that Killzone Shadowfall is little more than an extended tech demo. A kind of E3 demonstration that Guerrilla Games fleshed out and allowed the customer to take home with them to show off just what the Ps4 can really do when the developer bothers. Whether or not the PlayStation 4 will be woefully underused, as its outgoing sibling the Ps3 can attest too, remains to be seen. But if the truth be told there was little justification from Sony for the huge power and promise of the PlayStation 3, ending up instead more akin to a Netflix playing Blu-Ray movie centre that just happens to also pay a couple of great games once every couple of years. The same fate seems to already have been pre-destined for this latest Sony system.

It’s not even that Killzone Shadowfall with its silky smooth 60fps multiplayer has something to offer in the way of longevity, even with the promise of free maps for the online modes promised from the developers, as there is just not the community there to support any kind of decent fight.

Players are still sat around waiting for lobbies to be populated, and even when the matches do finally kick in they have all the atmosphere of a tumbleweed blowing ghost town thanks to Sony’s unfathomable decision to make it party chat only?

The player classes are still the same three predictable sniper, run and gunner and support soldiers with everything having to be earned in the way of attachments and upgrades, as opposed to earning XP and purchasing the piece of kit that you actually wanted. Again , though, there will also be the undoubted dumbing down of the multiplayer, as both Call of Duty and Battlefield 4 have both done, to attract the less talented players to the fray. With that, then, you will find that everyone takes the ‘scout’ class, hides in corners with cloak and invisibility shield whilst at the same time blasting away with a one shot kill weapon that renders the whole online part of the game futile in the first place.

But it is still very, very pretty!

All told then Killzone Shadowfall is pretty much a last gen first-person shooter, much in the mould of every other FPS game you have ever played, only it has a new slap of next gen paint. If that is enough for you to merely coo at the beauty of inept opposition AI soldiers, or marvel like a slack-jawed loon at crumbling buildings and stare in child-like wonderment at drop ships spewing leather clad Nazi’s from them like some kind of futuristic SS birthing machine, then good for you! Knock yourself out.  ( and coincidentally you also could try knocking out the Helghans as the melee combat makes things much easier than the rifles and weapons ).

If, however, on the other hand you had the crazy notion floating in that noodle of yours that the next generation hardware would bring about truly inspired gameplay that would leave you breathless at its pacing and interaction then prepare for some disappoint of the galactic kind. Killzone Shadowfall is not going to be to your liking.

Falling short in every single department from storyline to dialogue, gameplay to level design Killzone Shadowfal is quite possibly the prettiest launch title of this, or any other generation, but is also very likely to be one of the most frustratingly boring romps through a cookie cutter sci-fi shooter that you will have ever likely endured. With its one plus standing proudly in the face of its many faults it is for this reason that we give Killzone Shadowfall a well deserved 5 out of 10.

 

number 5 pool ballDeveloper:                        Guerrilla Games

Publisher:                          Sony Computer Entertainment

Version Tested:               PlayStation 4 Exclusive Title

Pegi Rating:                     18 ( M for Mature )

Price:                                 £49.50                         ( Gameseek )

Score:                                 5 out of 10

 

 

 

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