Metal Gear Rising: Revegeance review

Way back in 2001, “Metal Gear Solid” protagonist Solid Snake was replaced a short way into MGS2 by a whiny, unlikable lady-man code-named “Raiden”. He summarised  and simplified everything everyone else said just after they said it, had long, generally inconsequential conversations/arguments with his girlfriend and generally did a bad job of taking over protagonist duty. He was wisely scrapped as a player character, but did make a come back in MGS4 as a cyborg ninja with awesome katana skills for whom losing both his arms was a mere setback. It’s that Raiden we follow during this game; a hack and slasher of sorts set in the same universe, collaborated on by original creators Konami and Kojima Productions and action game veterans Platinum games. Does the new direction pay off? Or is this just a failed off-shoot?

Set four years after MGS4, PMCs (Private military companies) are wide-spread in both security and combat situations, and Raiden works for one called “Maverick”. While attempting to protect an African Prime minister he is ambushed by the PMC “Desperado” who, after setting a modified Metal Gear Ray on him (the main Metal Gear model from MGS2. Raiden destroys it in spectacular, bombastic fashion as part of the tutorial) murder the prime minister and one member (named “Jetstream Sam”, which sounds like a lost “Cowboy Bebop” character) destroys Raiden’s left eye and cuts off his arm. That’s where the…ahem…”Revengeance” comes in. He gets a new body and a burning desire to kill the man who beat him, and the story goes to various places from there, focusing particularly on Raiden struggling with his demons, and the harvesting of children’s brains. Clearly the game has no intention of pulling punches. The story is generally quite strong, but has some problems. Raiden gets a robot wolf side kick early in the game who serves as both awkward comic relief and as Raiden’s scout, and he just seems slightly needless and out of place. He doesn’t add anything to the gameplay, he occasionally talks to Raiden about problems that have arisen with objectives or nearby enemies; something you can easily find out about yourself. Similarly out of place is “George”- a young Guyanese boy saved from a potential brain-harvest with an accent that sounds like a cross between Jamaican and Indian, who talks in slang that is subtitled along with an English translation that hardly matches what he’s actually saying. He’s irritating, strange and completely ruins the tone of the game whenever he’s around, which fortunately isn’t often. These two things aside, the game’s last mission also doesn’t seem to fit the established tone. Without wishing to spoil it, what was initially a dark look at one man’s ethics with regard to slicing cyborgs into hundreds of pieces and re-awakening a destructive part of his personality that has lied dormant since his days as a child soldier ends with some political jargon and everything is nicely wrapped up after the final boss fight. Raiden’s character development and interactions with the members of “Desperado” are great. Everything else not so much.

The gameplay is challenging to the point of feeling rewarding when done well, but can feel frustrating at times. Enemies are worn down with light and heavy attacks and finished off with the most unique (and indeed the best) part of the game- “Blade mode”; fill the bar and time slows down, allowing you to spin a translucent arc through 360°– cutting enemies at various angles and slicing them into hundreds of pieces. Cut them in a certain spot and you can tear their cyborg spines out and crush them (called a “Zandatsu”) which refills your health and blade mode energy. This is often used during boss fights to accurately slice parts of them off, or to finish them by cutting them to ribbons, and whether it’s been used to cut one specific part or to wildly slice and dice, blade mode is a great addition. There are no block or dodge buttons: the game instead uses a parry system based around pushing the left stick in the direction of the enemy and pressing the light attack button. I complained about this in the impressions piece for the demo, and it still has problems in the full game. Due to it using the attack button if you’re mid-combo and the enemy decides they want to start attacking you, you won’t be able to parry- Raiden will keep attacking instead. If the enemy does a combo against you, often times Raiden won’t manage to parry every move, and it’s generally hard to successfully parry unless you’re standing still, waiting for the enemy to attack you. Having said that, if you are just standing there waiting for an attack, the parry isn’t too hard to pull off, although the timing can seem to vary, which can be frustrating. The bosses in particular require a good grasp of defensive techniques, especially the final boss, who acts as a test for everything you’ve learned throughout the game. Can’t parry? Haven’t grasped using the ninja run sprint function effectively in one-on-one fight? Aren’t very good at interrupting your moves to jump out of the way of an attack to counter the aforementioned problems with the parry? Can’t accurately line up a string of small targets in blade mode? That final boss will murder you. Repeatedly. The combat in “Metal Gear Rising” really starts to be more fun when you get to grips with it and start to implement all of Raiden’s techniques, and for not letting you fall into too much of a pattern it’s to be commended.

Overall “Metal Gear Rising” is a success. The combat is interesting and fun- it’s challenging to the point of feeling rewarding, but problems with the parry mechanic can sometimes make it feel frustrating. Blade mode is an awesome inclusion, and it’s really what makes the game stand out as something worth checking out. The story is, for the most part enjoyable; particularly when focusing on Raiden as a character. The side characters can ruin the tone, but every boss character is interesting and Raiden’s supporting cast are likable enough. It’s a rather short game, particularly once you get to grips with it, so it’s best picked up at a reduced price (I got mine for £28). If you can find it reduced, I definitely recommend taking a look. If you can only find it full price then I’d say try the demo first- play it a few times to get used to it, and then go from there. I want to see more from this new chapter in the “Metal Gear” series, and I’m interested to see where Kojima and Platinum Games take it.

Side note: what the hell does “Revengeance” mean anyway? Is he getting revenge twice? Getting revenge on/for an act of vengeance? Getting revenge and vengeance? “Tv Tropes” say that it means “Revenge with a vegeance”, but that doesn’t make any more sense than any other suggestion I’ve heard.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Tomb Raider Review

Back in January, Ninja Theory rebooted the “Devil May Cry” franchise to mixed results. It’s the best game I’ve played this year, and in my opinion a how-to guide on how to do a reboot well. Now it’s Crystal Dynamics’ turn to reboot a popular franchise- showing how Lara Croft became the artifact stealing, T-Rex shooting adventurer in the “Tomb Raider” games. Having said that, Crystal Dynamics have already made four other “Tomb Raider” games, including a remake of the very first, so I’m not entirely sure where this one fits in. Fortunately, my knowledge of Tomb Raider is very sparse at best, so I can review this new game on its own merits. Will it be a stark depiction of a young woman doing whatever is necessary to survive? Or will it be “The Adventures of Natasha Drake”- glazing over the ethics of it all in favour of “Cinematic” qualities?

The plot concerns Lara and a crew of assorted stereotypes going on an archaeological expedition to an island off the coast of Japan only to have their boat cracked in half and themselves wash up on a hostile island populated by pirates and an insane cult. I called the crew “stereotypes” and it’s painfully obvious that’s what they are after spending a brief time with them; you’ve got the best friend, the stuffy rival, the big guy, the crazy guy, the techy, the mentor and even the sassy black woman. The game throws in one flashback and some collectible logs that attempt to put some meat on the characters’ bones but it doesn’t work- the crew are all forgettable and expendable and are clearly just there to give Lara some character building moments of her own. Lara is the only particularly likable character, if only because of the things she goes through- she’s defined by her ability to carry on after constantly getting the crap knocked out of her, which as video game protagonists go isn’t exactly a task of Hercules. Having said that, she’s a decent lead and feels both capable and vulnerable, she just isn’t really any deeper than any of the supporting cast. References are made to her father and the expectations that come with being a Croft, but it never seems like the situation will get the best of her or that she’s really in that much trouble. Some would say that simply adds to the strength of her character, but I feel she lacks an arc. The story itself veers between being decent and silly, and overall feels like a cross between the first “Uncharted” and “Far Cry 3”. In regard to my earlier question of whether or not the game glosses over the ethics of the situation, there’s one very brief moment just after killing a human for the first time when Lara has a “what have I done?” moment, only to shrug it off and go on to kill armies of people by the end of the game. Having said that, she is largely acting in self defense and the atmosphere is a lot darker and more serious than “Uncharted”, and this definitely works in the game’s favour; I’ll let it slide.

The gameplay feels very “Uncharted”-esque and will feel instantly familiar to anyone familiar with that series. A stealthy option is often available upon entering an area, but should it fall through the combat is largely cover-based and features a good sense of verticality. There are two main problems with the combat: Firstly, enemies can often shrug off bullets like they’re having peanuts flicked at them- two particular examples in my playthrough being a gas mask-clad enemy not even stumbling upon being shot in the head with a pistol and another enemy ignoring being shot in the back with a shotgun loaded with incendiary buckshot. That’s not counting all the other times enemies with no armour at all seemed completely unaffected by gunfire. The second main problem is the bow. Specifically the flaming arrows. See, regardless of how far you pull back the bowstring the flaming arrows will set your target ablaze, but will only kill them if you pull the string back far enough. Does that make the fire hotter? This problem affects the regular arrows, too- placement and drawback affect the arrows more than the nature of the combat would lead you to believe, and generally enemies take more punishment than they should. Outside of the combat the game continues to show “Uncharted” influences- there’s a focus on platforming, climbing and a number of set pieces involving things falling apart and exploding. The platforming is solid and fun, and the best part of the gameplay is how Lara’s inventory gradually increases to include numerous items that can be used to access new areas in previously traversed parts of the island- encouraging exploration which nets you artifacts and salvage used to upgrade weapons, and hidden parts that form new and improved versions of existing weapons. There are also three main skill sets to sink points into that upgrade Lara’s abilities, which range from finding more salvage in crates to allowing her to execute wounded enemies with firearms as opposed to the incredibly convenient rock she smashes them in the face with. A rock that’s always there, no matter what surface she’s on…

As a reboot to the franchise, “Tomb Raider” is a mixed bag. The plot is generally weak, all the supporting characters are underdeveloped, unlikable or just inspire apathy, and Lara herself is likable enough but lacks an arc. The gameplay often feels heavily influenced by the “Uncharted” series, and before you say anything I know that those games were inspired by “Tomb Raider”, but this particular game has been released after them. It’s like when people were dismissing “Hitman Absolution”‘s stealing of elements from “Splinter Cell” because “Hitman” is the older franchise. The platforming and exploration are fun, but the combat is annoying. Speaking as someone who has very little experience with the earlier games, this feels like a decent origin story, but could do with more detail. I’m willing to see where Crystal Dynamics take the story, but I won’t be waiting with baited breath.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Apologies and Crysis 3

Just before we get started I want to apologise for the fact that this is my first review/ post on here. The Reviewing Floor was originally conceived as a joint effort with James, along with the YouTube channel and our general commitment to hilarity and winningestness. But, due in no small part to the face that I’m lazy; it’s fallen to my friend to do all of the hard typing up to this point. No doubt he’s been doing a sterling job, but still, it’s time I started pulling my weight. And so, without further ado, here’s my review of Crysis 3.

(Triumphant trumpet music)

Crysis3CoverArt

Crysis 3 is the last of a trilogy of first person shooters that started on the PC in 2007 and placed the player in carbon fibre jumpsuits of Raptor squad, an elite team of government black ops types given super advanced, and incredibly badass looking, armour called Nanosuits in order to combat the North Koreans and squid-like aliens the Ceph on the island of Ling Shan. The second instalment involved the squad’s leader Prophet having to give his suit to a dying US marine named Alcatraz after becoming infected with a Ceph virus that was decimating a New York city placed under martial law by an evil corporation (aren’t they all?) called CELL. At the end of that escapade Prophet magically took back possession of his suit, defeated the Ceph and saved the world, forever. So naturally, Crysis 3 starts 20+ years later with Prophet being awoken from cryogenic suspension into a world in which CELL have used plundered Ceph technology to take over the world, and New York is an empty rainforest sealed in a giant dome. Like the Eden project, but without the gift shop.

As you might expect after a paragraph like that, the Crysis series is one which prides itself on its science fiction narrative. This is definitely something a factor to recommend it over the typical ‘kill the terrorists, for ‘Murika!’ theme so popular in current FPSs. Crysis 3’s story also covers topics like mortality and trans humanism, presumably to piss off people who just like to shoot people because an imaginary President said it was ok. As mentioned above, the game opens with Prophet being freed from CELL imprisonment by Michael ‘Psycho’ Sykes, the last surviving member of Raptor squad. Sykes has been forcibly demoted back to the realm of unsuper soldier thanks to CELL unkindly ‘skinning’ him of his nanosuit. With the loss of his suit came an increased awareness of his own mortality and Sykes spends a lot of the game trying to deny it. The dynamic between Sykes and Prophet is one of the more interesting parts of the game’s story, with Sykes jealous that Prophet still possesses a nanosuit and Prophet envying the clear cut humanity that Sykes retains, free from his own suit. Because it transpires that Prophet is quite literally not the man he was. Despite changing the body in the suit, the entity named Prophet remains unchanged, even after replacing his human flesh like ‘a spare part’. And he’s not the only one who knows it. All throughout the game, the human characters treat you with fear and distrust, and as one particularly cruel character says “you don’t have a name. People have names. You have a call sign and a goddamn serial number!” Although given that Prophet’s response is “and without me, you don’t have a goddamn chance!” we can safely assume being a biomechanical war machine doesn’t make you any better at snappy comebacks.

What it does make you better at, however, is murder. The nanosuit comes with two main combat modes, either an all-out, bullet sponge Armour mode, or sneaky Predator esque Stealth. The two states are mutually exclusive, but can be activated at any time. In addition, both drain from a single energy bar at the bottom corner of the screen. If it runs dry you’ll find yourself suddenly completely visible/permeable/brutally murdered. Both have strengths and weaknesses; Armour increases your damage resistance exponentially, but slows you movements; Stealth cause you to turn invisible, but movement drains power at an increased rate, and firing a gun will drain your reserves completely.. In both modes can be upgraded by finding special collectibles hidden across the levels. Upgrades range from the ability to become completely silent when cloaked, to being able to absorb even more damage, albeit at the cost of movement speed. Combining these abilities to devastating effect is the core of the Crysis series gameplay, and when the planning that has to go into each encounter culminates with a clearing full of corpses and smoking gun, it is immensely satisfying. Crysis 3 is undoubtedly a thinking person’s shooter; the all-out straight line assault attitude common in modern military shooters will almost invariably end in Prophet becoming the world’s most expensive colander. Balancing the two contradictory elements of the nanosuit’s capabilities is integral to success. Mostly. Because Crysis 3 suffers from a few balance issues that shift the game from Jack of all Trades FPS to full on stealth title.

The first of these issues is a largely optional one: the difficulty. As you might expect, going up the ranks will make the AI more aggressive, more numerous and increase the damage they deal. This is all well and good on its own, but the problem this causes is that, even with the heaviest armour upgrades, you lifespan under fire can be measured in seconds. Try playing the game on anything above normal, and it’s pretty much exclusively a stealth title. And whilst you might try to go toe to toe with the forces of evil, the frustrating checkpoint system means that the hassle of going all the way back easily overrides your desire to see if you can gun down all the enemies in your path. In fact, it almost becomes easier to avoid enemies wholesale rather than engage them. If you do decide to go for the stealth option though, the game has another gamebreaker just waiting for you, namely, the Bow. This weapon is super accurate, completely silent, can kill almost every enemy in the game in one shot, has recoverable ammo and most importantly, won’t drain your battery if you fire whilst cloaked. And, in the biggest piece of game breaking ever, once you acquire it 10 mins into the game, it’s permanently equipped, meaning the ability to carry two other conventional firearms is essentially pointless.

All this, I could probably forgive, were it not for Crysis 3 greatest flaw, which is that I just doesn’t feel like a proper game. With the game picking up over 20 years after the last instalment there’s a measurable disconnect in the narrative. Audio logs and text files tell the story of the events between the two games, about the rise of CELL and Prophet’s descent into obsession and possible madness. And I can’t help but feel like that was the game should have been playing, and it feels like a missed opportunity. Crysis 3 is less than half the length of the first one, and even throwing in some pointless side objectives doesn’t do much to prolong the experience. Ultimately, it just feels like the last third of a missing game. And maybe, if that had been included, we’d have a realm gem on our hands.

Finally, just to leave on a suitable bitter and disappointed note I need to mention a serious problem I had with the game. Or, more accurately, the game had with me. And my PlayStation. And existence in general. Directly after the final boss, after the exciting and suspense filled cut scene, I expected to proceed to a loading screen and from there, to the game’s emotive and awe inspiring finale. That didn’t happen. Instead, I got an unchanging black screen, and bugger all else. In fact, I couldn’t even turn my console off manually; I had to unplug it at the wall. Which is more than a little crap. A brief Google has revealed that this is not a problem unique to me, so be aware that your game may not let you finish it, until the next patch. The fuckers.

I want to love Crysis 3. I love so many things about it, from the epic story to the stealth and ‘splosions gameplay and the eye melting visuals. But, unfortunately for us both, the game manages to squander its massive potential by being too short, too samey and too damn rushed. Ultimately £40 is too much for a game that amounts to little more than a large expansion pack. Save your pennies, and pick up number 2 instead. Or buy a bow and go to the park. For ‘Murika!

N.B. I know it’s kind of a big deal so I feel I should mention it. Graphics. They’re really really good. The console version is not as good as the PC version would be. But still good.

By Reuben Williams-Smith

@r_williamssmith

DLC reviews- DmC: Virgil’s Downfall and Dead Space 3: Awakened

Not too long after their respective releases, DLC has been released to conclude the plots of “DmC Devil May Cry” and “Dead Space 3” – at around the same time and around the same price. Of course, I had to check them both out. Due to the nature of the DLC, this review will contain spoilers for the endings of both games.

Firstly, “DmC: Virgil’s Downfall” picks up after Virgil teleported away following his fight with Dante. He collapses and falls into hell, and after another version of him shows Virgil his heart, he works to eradicate any love and compassion from it in exchange for more power. The story definitely lives up to the title and is well told through the game’s new drawn cutscenes. It’s quite a short story and definitely feels like a bridge between DmC and a possible sequel, but it’s entertaining while it lasts. As for the gameplay, Virgil’s fighting style feels different to Dante’s. To begin with it feels stiff and less fun to use than Dante’s, but after Virgil gets his own versions of angel and demon attacks things start to liven up. He only gets one melee weapon- his Katana “Yamato” which when combined with the angel and demon forms has a variety of moves ranging from fast and widespread to slower and more accurate. He also gets his own projectile weapons- conjured, magical swords that home in on enemies. His devil trigger manifests in different uses for the summoned swords, and the main form creates a doppleganger which, unlike the doppleganger style in “Devil May Cry 3” can be altered to use a different fighting style to the one Virgil is using, making it more useful. Overall he’s not as fun to play as Dante, but he’s enjoyable in his own right- he’ll feel familiar to anyone who played the special edition of DMC3.

The level design is repetitive. I understand it’s set in hell, but for the most part it just looks like some of the limbo sections from the main game- all floating platforms and destroyed buildings. The platforming (now aided by teleporting rather than whips) is still fun, but the worst thing about the gameplay is that it feels very formulaic. Virgil does some platforming, clears out a group of enemies (with not much variety in them and one irritating new enemy type) and uses a portal.

Overall, “Virgil’s Downfall” concludes the story of DmC reasonably well, and works well as a Virgil-centered character piece. It sets up a possible sequel, and I definitely want to see more from this and the original game.

Moving on, “Awakened” also carries on from where “Dead Space 3” left off, albeit with a continuity error. After disabling the moon and apparently eradicating the Necromorph threat forever, Issac and Carver awaken (see what they did there?) back on Tau Volantis and make their way back towards some docked ships. However, along the way a new horde of Necromorphs arrive, confirming what was hinted at in the main game- the “Brethren/Brother moons” are awake (see what they did there again? They’re on a roll!) and are trying to get to earth. There isn’t much to say about this DLC. The gameplay is exactly the same as it was in the main game- despite attempting to inject some more horror into proceedings it’s still action-heavy. It’s very short, and frankly £7.99 is too much for it, given its length. However, all that aside, it’s a great way to conclude “Dead Space 3” – the atmosphere is good, Isaac’s severe hallucinations work well and the fast pace suits the story. The new Unitologist cult are a nice addition, too- basically a group of Unitologists have gone completely insane and started hacking off their own limbs as sacrifices to the moons. However, the main “Dead Space” problem is still here- it’s not scary. One thing I only really picked up here is that the weapon crafting can make Isaac seriously overpowered, particularly when both the lower and upper tools have full damage stats.

If you liked “Dead Space 3”, this is definitely worth picking up- it’s a visceral, fast-paced conclusion to the game. However, it’s better to wait for it to go down in price.

Overall, both DLCs add great conclusions to their respective games. “Dead Space 3: Awakened” was the more enjoyable of the two, but the worst value for money. If you’re a fan of the games, pick these up. They both set the scene possible sequels that I’m definitely looking forward to, should they happen.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Dead Space 3 Review

Despite largely being single player only so far, the latest in the “Dead Space” series decided to have a co-op feature which I haven’t played yet (I don’t know anyone else that has it), so this review will be about the single player mode only.

“Dead Space” is consistently described as being both terrifying and horrific- a series set around graphic body-horror in space, with a power armoured- engineer using a variety of futuristic tools as weapons against enemies who only die when you dismember them “Evil Dead” style. I disagree with those who say the games are “terrifying” (or scary at all, really) or “horrifying”- they’re not survival horror and they never have been, and the gore is never genuinely affecting. I do, however like the games for what they really are; over-the-top action-horror games with great set-pieces, good enemy design and fun combat.

Following his survival of necromorph (basically corpses reanimated by an alien force) outbreaks on a space ship and a space station, Isaac Clarke is recruited by two gruff military types to rescue his love interest from the second game, who has gone missing on a mission. After finding her rather quickly, they all decide to go down to a nearby planet to wipe out the necromorph threat once and for all. As a story, it’s not a bad set up, but it has pretty weak execution. It takes seven chapters to actually get to the ice planet, and while there most of the plot-related actions all blurred together and in-between revelations there seemed to be a lot of Isaac and friends pottering about killing things. There’s also a forced love triangle that seems out of place, and the story as a whole is spread quite thin. It does have some good moments, but they’re spread out, and the whole last part of the game feels like “Uncharted” of all things. The set-pieces are also less memorable now, with two stand-outs being Isaac obtaining his first space suit and the introduction of one of the new necromorphs (which is one of the only “horror” sections of the game), and a boss fight almost wholly recycled from the final boss of the first game.

Gameplay wise, there a few new additions this time around. Rather than buying supplies, everything is crafted, from weapons and ammo to weapons- the biggest new gameplay element. Starting with either a one-handed or two-handed frame, you place an upper and lower tool onto the frame and can add attachments, tips that change the firing style of the tool (for example turning an assault rifle into a shotgun) and upgrade its clip size, rate of fire, damage and reload speed. This is an excellent new feature- bolstering flamethrowers onto rifles and floating blade dispensers onto grenade launchers is great, and tinkering around with a specific weapon until its your ideal one feels awesome. The only problem is that you only have two weapon slots, so you’ll be less likely to experiment and instead go for two solid, dependable weapons (I stuck to a plasma cutter and an assault rifle with a variety of lower tools- mostly a rocket launcher). I suppose the fact that you can now essentially hold two weapons in one slot somewhat makes up for this, but it still felt frustrating at times. This time around every gun uses the same ammo type- a generic pool that somehow fuels grenade launchers and flamethrowers alike. This makes sense given the number of weapon combinations there are in the game, and was a good move. The game now has optional side missions that generally involve finding something and then holding out against a necromorph horde, new gameplay sections including piloting a salvaged space ship and a dodge roll, which is useful but not essential. The combat controls the same as it did in the last game; not a problem considering it worked well there. One thing to point out though- certain side missions are locked out in single player, the character normally controlled by the second player suddenly turns up in cutscenes and the game sometimes feels like it hasn’t been properly balanced- Isaac is often swarmed by overwhelming groups of necromorphs, particularly that aforementioned new type. Maybe it’s just me, but it did seem more difficult than previous installments.

Another major new addition is that of human enemies- soldiers of the wide-spread space religion “unitology” (basically Scientology but with necromorphs) who have thrown any sense of subtlety out of the window as they send in squads of armoured, heavily armed troops into a colony to assassinate Isaac, and then send them down to the planet after him. The new human combat features a cover mechanic of sorts (you just crouch behind low objects) and while feeling slightly out of place doesn’t really hurt the game. The unitologists’ leader- a hammy gentleman named Danik- is your standard belligerent religious zealot who doesn’t understand what he’s doing and wants to impose his will on everyone by unleashing the homicidal aliens. He’s irritating and over-the-top, but isn’t in the game too much.

Overall, “Dead Space 3” is a decent addition to the series. It lacks the atmosphere of the first game and lacks the overall fun and polish of the second, but the weapon crafting system is a good new addition and the gameplay is as solid as it ever was. The story is quite weak and thinly spread to the point where it could be shorter and there wouldn’t be much in the way of consequence, but when it’s focused it’s enjoyable. It’s not the best in the series, but it’s worth a look.

Oh, one other thing I wanted to bring up: when Isaac first arrives on the planet his helmet malfunctions and you have to stop his core temperature from dropping too low by standing near fires while you attempt to find a new suit. This is fine in theory, but two things ruined it; firstly, Issac’s temperature dropped down to around 33°C (enough to contract hypothermia) and then repeatedly moved back and forth between around 33 and 37°C, which can’t be good for him- he certainly wouldn’t be running around and killing aliens. Then something even sillier happened- his core temperature dropped to 11.8°C. Now, if you don’t know the ramifications of that, let me put it this way: that would kill Isaac very easily. He’d be very, very dead. Clearly someone should have double-checked that section.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

God of War: Ascension demo impressions

“God of War” is a hack and slash series that started on Playstation 2 and after spreading to the PSP and Playstation 3 became one of Sony’s flagship game series, as well as a staple of the genre. Basically, it features a very, very angry, bald man murdering an assortment of creatures, people and gods from Greek myths in awesome, gory fashion. The second game in the series is by far the best, and a great game in general, but after that the series lost its way. A demo for the upcoming prequel (the third prequel they’ve released) recently hit the Playstation store, so I thought I’d better check it out. Prior to playing this I had no real interest in buying the full game- after God of War 3 I’m willing to let any future installments pass me by- but was willing to change my mind.

The demo starts with an cutscene explaining the principle villains of the piece: the furies. Basically they avenge broken vows and promises. Not exactly the best antagonists this series has thrown at me, but I’ll roll with it. The story is- again- set during Kratos’ time working for Ares, and I can’t help but be uninterested in the plot- Kratos is going to survive to be in the first God of War game. I know he hates Ares, I know he’s tormented over killing his children- that’s long since been established. Apparently the story in the full game is going to show a more human side to Kratos, and I would be interested to see if they pull it off, despite the fact one of Kratos’ best qualities is that he’s an amoral, murderous sociopath. Gameplay-wise it starts with Kratos chained up on a platform (as seen in the picture above), one of the furies comes to gloat at him and a sequence involving dodging her attacks happens- seguing into Kratos freeing himself. The demo then involves Kratos chasing said fury, stopping along the way for a boss fight and a section involving a small piece of building being held by a giant statue. The combat is slightly tweaked this time around, but not by much. New features include being able to pick up enemy weapons, a “rage” meter that when filled gives Kratos new moves (no “Rage of the ____” in this one) and a kick. So one of the biggest new additions is limiting Kratos’ moves. Brilliant. Elsewhere there’s a section involving Kratos sliding down a surface and being steered by the player, and some “Uncharted”-esque climbing. The combat is still decent, but at this point is unengaging. 

Kratos doesn’t say anything in the demo, but still scowls like he used to. The fury he’s chasing is badly written- spouting the word “mortal” as an insult like it’s going out of fashion. The boss fight lacks the scale or punch of the Hydra, Colossus or Poseidon, and the enemies are all pretty forgettable. The graphics are up to the series’ usual standard, but it’s small comfort when the gameplay is boring and slightly stale. There isn’t much story at all in the demo, so there’s not much I can say about it.

The demo doesn’t exactly fill me with hope. I mentioned at the start of this piece that I was willing to change my mind, but my mind firmly stayed the same. At no point in the demo was I invested at all, nor was I actually enjoying myself. The gameplay is going through the motions to the point where it’s just boring, the violent kills have long since lost their value in the series and overall, it just feels like God of War is a series that is well past its prime.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

 

 

New Assassin’s Creed officially announced

There it is- Assassin’s Creed IV. “Black Flag”

Ubisoft have announced that the latest in the series will be pirate themed- featuring new protagonist Edward Kenway- father to Haytham Kenway and therefore grandfather to Connor Kenway; the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed III. Alongside a poster, a map was released detailing the Caribbean islands- hinting at the game’s location.

More information will be released Monday 4th March, and a release date was temporarily seen on the game’s official site: 29th October 2013- also on next generation consoles. The Playstation 3 version of the game will feature an hour of exclusive content.

Personally I think this is a brilliant idea- I’ve wanted a pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed since the second game, and the Caribbean setting sounds like it’ll suit the idea well. The main character being an Assassin and father to Templar Haytham Kenway should add a layer of conflict to the story, perhaps akin to the conflict between Haytham and Connor in Assassin’s Creed III. 

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18