Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider
PS3, XBOX360, PC
By Janus 32

Introduction

tomb-raider-2013-box-art-pc-800x800The Tomb Raider franchise has always had a female protagonist. Never has it changed with all its games, and still remains to this day the buxom brunette, Lara Croft. Since her debut on the PSone X years ago, she has gone through raiding tombs for riches to saving the day and the world from certain disaster. 

The notion of tomb robbing isn’t a very honourable business. You are going through crypts and ancient places, forcing yourself to learn the secrets buried within to uncover riches that will, or course, make you rich. It is the end that justifies the means. But the TR franchise seemed poignant to provide history but mainly putting Lara Croft in the light of the world for titular purposes.

And there is nothing wrong with that…until now. The predecessors before still held the same formula. Exploration, solving puzzles, taking out enemies of the two legged and the 4 legged kinds with your duel two-tone pistols and eventually reaching the end. The substance and the repeated formula was losing its flare, meaning the last few games did not sell.

Which brings us now to this Tomb Raider game. Ever since its showing back in E3, 2011, the game has impressed a lot of people. Not only for its graphics but mainly due for its look. Lara looks younger, she doesn’t look at all strong but more green, like a rookie. What was also showed was Lara going through painful and brutal encounters with man, animal and the environment. This garnered instant notoriety due to making Lara a very, vulnerable, timid and almost weak person. The complete opposite traits to what everyone has known Lara to be.

This reboot will be exploring the beginning of Lara Croft. How did she become the fearless adventurer? What started her off to raid tombs and find out about history?

Most of all, is this reboot worth going into due to its new look? Or has the franchise dipped so low with this approach that it is not worth your time?


Story

The Endurance. A vessel that was sailing along the high seas runs aground and is shipwrecked during a sudden and violent storm.

In that ship was Lara Croft. A young, green adventurer wanting to find historys secrets and its riches. She is with a team that is finding out the secrets of an island that was under rule as the “Yamatai” myth. A Japanese myth that houses many deep and dark secrets.tomb_raider__2013__campsite_wallpaper_1920x1080_by_mikky100

But with the ship being wrecked, Lara has been separated from her group and before she knows it, someone or something has knocked her out and she is dangling in a chamber filled with candles and other bodies.

Lara is in trouble, and it looks like she has bargained a lot on this trip…

But worst of all, underestimated the dangers that this expedition holds.

What secrets does the island hold?

Gameplay

Throughout the Tomb Raider franchise, controlling Lara Croft has been a third person game. Not ever has it turned first person, so players can check their surroundings and zoom in when equipped with or without weapons. Players will be traversing buildings, landmarks, cliffs and whatever Lara can get her hands on to discover different places that holds secrets and extra unlocks.

TR has predominantly been a game that has run off exploration. Exploring caves, caverns, underwater coves, anything to find out the treasures and clues to further progress the 1 player game but at the same time, give back story  In this installment  Lara is able to summon/use her ‘Survival Instinct’. By the touch of a button, Lara’s senses flash the screen into a black and white palette and for any items/secrets that she can see in her surroundings will glow gold. Approach these glowing golden objects and you will receive rewards. The survival instincts only lasts as long as you are stationary, when you move again it will fade back to color  Survival Instinct has unlimited uses, so you can keep activating it and uncover other areas on your map.

With the items that you can find is primarily boxes filled with ‘Salvage’. Salvage can be seen as currency to use upgrading Lara’s weapons. Lara will be able to hold a variety of weapons from the Bow and Arrow to a pistol, rifle and shotgun. Salvage is used to upgrade these weapons and in these boxes of salvage, you will be able to find weapon parts to upgrade and to ‘strengthen’ weapons.Tomb-Raider2

With the salvage, Lara also gains experience points aka EXP. Experience points are gained through killing your enemies, hunting animals, finding secret tombs and defeating mini bosses. Gaining these exp points, you will able to use them to strengthen Lara’s skill sets in the form of skill points. These skill sets are categorized as Hunting Skills, Brawler Skills and Survivor Skills. Each of these skills have different tier components where as you progress and skill points are built through the activities aforementioned. Hunting skills help in regards to hunting animals, enemies and even improvement in steady aiming. Survivor skills can enhance your climbing abilities and searching dead bodies/areas for extra items and exp. Finally Brawler skills enhance your close quarter combat skills.

As these features are for the single player experience, for the first time in the series franchise, developer Crystal Dynamics have included a multiplayer component. Players will be able to play as either factions, the heroes and the villains. The multiplayer modes are Team Death Match, Rescue and Cry for help. Team Death Match is where players fight in groups of four with one group being the Endurance’s survivors and the other representing the scavengers. The first group to get 25 kills wins. Rescue is when The survivors have to fulfill certain objectives (carry a medipack to a certain spot: “Retrieve and capture the medical supplies”) while the scavengers try to stop them by killing them. The survivors win if they bring back 5 medkits and the scavengers win when they score 20 kills. This mode is also 4 on 4, but can also be played with less players. Finally Cry for Help is an emphasis on discovery and collection.

The multiplayer aspect works exactly like the single player campaign. Heroes and Villains are able to run, jump and traverse terrain and zip line ropes moving through the level. There are also two super weapons that you will be able to find to turn the tide and rank up your score. They are the competition bow and arrow and a large mini gun  Players can also go through crates and pick up salvage to customize their characters, their load outs and their skills/perks they can attain as they level up. The multiplayer mode is certainly a throwback to the Uncharted series, it feels familiar for those that have played that series but feels new for newcomers to the TR franchise.Tomb-Raider-2013-00

Though there is something wrong with the multiplayer, or it could just be my machine which I hope isn’t the case, that can halt play. Sometimes when you’re exiting out of a lobby or even switching between multiplayer to single player, the game will freeze during the loading screen. This is frustrating. No doubt this is frustrating for any game that you are playing multiplayer and the game should be running properly instead of freezing. Go figure right? And this is an inconsistent problem. Again, I’m hoping this is just my machine.

There is no real save feature when you press start and wanting to save the game. TR has an autosave feature, but at certain times through the adventure, there is savepoints when you end up at a ‘campsite’. Camp sites is where you can rest, upgrade weapons, increase your skills.. Campsites also enable ‘fast travel’ between other camps. This is a great addition as travelling between places is not only faster, but some places cannot be traversed due to past events. Such as a bridge that has been disconnected or the entrance to whatever building/gates cannot be opened again.

Presentation

The one thing that has had so much attention for this reboot of Tomb Raider is its presentation. When it was first shown at E3, 2011 people just had this feeling that this game was different and that the game in some shape or form was something to put their money for the future investment. Including myself.

And it seems we were right.

Crystal Dynamic’s re-think of the franchise I believe is the right choice and has been done at the right time. The franchise of its predecessors seemed to have been stale. With the cartoonish look of Lara Croft, believability and credibility seemed to be dwindling because the protagonist seemed invincible. But Crystal Dynamics have put Lara Croft in this game as something completely different. A vulnerable woman, forced to fight the elements of where she is stranded and more so a character that players can connect with, emotionally.

Presenting Lara Croft as she is in this gritty game, we can only imagine what had been going through with the voice actors. Lara Croft who is voiced by British actress Camilla Luddington (known for roles in Grey’s Anatomy, Californication and True Blood)  replaces veteran Keeley Hawes who voiced Lara Croft for Tomb Raider Anniversary, Underworld

Camilla Luddington, the voice of Lara Croft

Camilla Luddington, the voice of Lara Croft

and Lara Croft and the Guardian of the light, er contribution spanned four years; the longest role of any of Croft’s voice actresses in English. The writing doesn’t feel campy at all. It actually does feel…very realistic. For a team of explorers being stranded on an island that just looks lush but at the same time so haunting, it’s actually mesmerizing. We ask for you to stop and check out the landscape, with all the animals running about and the trees and bush, it is actually quite magnificent.

As player progress, the presentation is even more accentuated specifically on Lara’s adventure. What do I mean by that? The story. Lara is on a quest for the legend of the Yamatai and the Shaman Queen Himiko. Queen Himiko who ruled the Yamatai Kingdom was prosperous in her reign, but for some mysterious reason or another, the inhabitants all had disappeared and the Yamatai was lost, even in record books. Being on an island, the origins have been a mystery to locate, which brings Lara to try and discover its location in “The Dragon’s Triangle” which is a real location that to this day, Japan has put the area as a strict danger zone for no ships to cross. In the peacetime years between 1952-54 Japan lost 5 military vessels with crews lost totaling over 700 people and that the Japanese government sent a research vessel boarded by over 100 scientists to study the Devil’s Sea, and that this ship too vanished; and finally that the area was officially declared a danger zone.

This story is based on actual real life contoversy. Japanese historians are unsure how to put the Yamatai Kingdom whether it is considered to be closer to the chinese seas or even be considered as “Yamato” which means “Japan”

Final Comments

Lara Croft’s latest journey is one of heartache and of desperation. Crystal Dynamics seemed to have hit the balance on graphics, story telling, gameplay and everything else I haven’t thought of into this neat, revamped package. It’s refreshing to see that heroines like Lara in this instalment are not bulletproof or indestructible. That they do go through hardship, loss and turmoil and they are human. They make mistakes. To compare, it is like Commander Shepard of the Mass Effect series. He is not perfect. He makes decisions on what he thinks is right at the time, and I would think that most gamers like that franchise because it is not only about choice and sacrifice, but it is of one persons will to make the difficult decisions that any other average man/woman would have to make depending on what circumstances they are in.

Get it
Rent it
Forget it

Get it. Veterans of the Tomb Raider franchise will most likely be pleasantly surprised by this revamp. Lara is a different person compared to the predecessors, but this is a refreshing change. Newcomers will also feel right at home as a 3rd person shooter game that can be approached by stealth or by noise to despatch enemies, the choices are there for the player to tackle. All in all, a well rounded game that seems to have quite a bit of replayability to seek out other treasures and unlockables. Multiplayer is fun as well too!  

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
PS3,XBOX360
By Janus 32

Introduction

Metal_Gear_Rising_CoverThe Metal Gear franchise has gone from strength to strength. There is no doubt that since the games of the NES days following Solid Snake, then the Metal Gear Solid PSOne game has it escalated. Though with Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty, was there some annoyance with the fans not wanting to control Raiden, the newbie. And then came Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater and then some spinoff games for the PSP and re-releases to other consoles. And then last of all Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots which looked to have tied up the story of Solid Snake rather well, although a rather sad ending.

What has made the formula for fans to come back and for Kojima’s games? Is it that he never makes his games too serious? Is it because of the cinematic direction? Or because it’s just different to the games that come out today? 

It’s hard to single out a reason but what can be said is, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a completely different step from the Metal Gear series. Platinum Games comes in to lend a hand with this 3rd person beat-em up game while at the same time keeping the lore of the Metal Gear fresh and different, working closely with creator (and genius) Hideo Kojima. We follow MGS2’s unlikable (but now likable hero, since his ninja appearance in MGS4 making him looking like a complete badass) Raiden.

But with Raiden having starring in a new game for a second time, mainly fighting with his Katana, is it a game that fails on its mediocre idea of swords against guns? Or does Raiden make a ‘sharp’ impression?
Story

4 years have passed since the Guns of the Patriots incident, in which a few legendary soldiers had taken part to thwart an international plot to take over the world.

One of those soldiers is code named “Raiden”.

With the world not stopping for anything, countries have continued to hire PMC’s  to protect and do their bidding with total disregard of using the regular army. Money talks and PMC’s come jumping for work. PMC’s now are mainly cyborgs. Those that have a cybernetic brain, encased into a cyborg body. Humans who have lost limbs can be now cybernetically replaced

Raiden is now a soldier for hire, he works for a Private Military Company (PMC) called “Maverick”. Raiden has changed with the times as well and has since had some improvements to his suit and his overall demeanour.

War has inexplicably changed him and as the world seems to disintegrate day by day due to war and violence, Raiden has since used the weapons given to him for justice. Though this could be a misguided gesture as he and his team are currently in Africa on security detail for the Prime Minister…which is suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by unidentified forces wielding the same gear as Raiden.

Raiden must retrieve the Prime Minister at all costs…

Gameplay

Hideo Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear franchise, teams up with Platinum Games to bring a canon game of ninjas, private military companies, wacky villains and some serious violence and gore to spice up his franchise. Though not made with the fox engine, Kojima has lent a hand as a creative producer and brought to the world another game by the character that fans love to hate or love, Raiden.

An in-game screenshot. Yes there is blood that spatters on screen when your busy stabbing a Gekko

An in-game screenshot. Yes there is blood that spatters on screen when your busy stabbing a Gekko

MGR:Revengeance is a 1 player affair in which players control Raiden, a cyborg ninja who is nicknamed ‘Lightning Bolt’, and moves like one as well. A third person game, like the MGS and the Devil May Cry franchise, players will be able to have the basics of rotating the camera during the action to check their surroundings. Players are simply charged with their movements of jumping and running and the like, but their button layouts are simply light attack and heavy attack. Light is very quick movements with light damage, and of course heavy is heavier damaged attacks but slower movement. Players will need to note of toggle buttons, Ninja running that enables you to run very fast and climb obstacles automatically. Great for escaping and evading enemies. Another toggle button is weapons. Though Raiden is a Cyborg-Ninja, he is able to handle weapons, mainly weapons that do a lot of damage such as surface-to-air missiles and rocket launchers.

But the main branch of fighting is hand-to-hand combat. Raiden will start off with his Katana. Dubbed as a ‘HF Blade’ meaning high frequency blade, it can literally cut through anything. Raiden first got this blade back at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 when he had to face off against Solidus Snake. It helped him then, and now, it has been rehashed, revamped, remade and all sorts of deadly. Attacks to soften up opponents is the mix of the light and heavy attacks, when enemies have a blue hue to them, Raiden can perform ‘Zandatsu’. Zandatsu is when players can inflict devastating damage. Time slows down and Raiden can cut parts of their enemies or go completely nuts and literally can cut them into ribbons.

But of course Zandatsu cannot be achieved all the time. Players will be wary that Raiden has a life gauge, but underneath that gauge is his ‘fuel cells’ gauge. The fuel cells is what the blade mode runs off. To replenish the gauge, everytime you strike an enemy, your bladed weapon will absorb and replenish the fuel cell gauge. When you build up the fuel gauge to blue, you can cut your enemies with precision with Zandatsu and retrieve their power cells which is within their spines for instant replenishment of fuel cells but also your health.

This enemy can go toe to toe with you, have him and his friends surroudn you and you are going to have a bad time

This enemy can go toe to toe with you, have him and his friends surround you and you are going to have a bad time

Per level you will be letter graded on several different criteria’s such as enemies defeated, Zandatsu’s performed, no damage taken (flawless victory?) and hit combos. The points that you accumulate, of course the higher the better, you will earn battle points. Battle points can be used after per level to customize Raidens body, accessories and weapons. Increasing strength to a blade, its fuel absorption, different costumes, health bar and purchasing skills.

Through the course of the story mode, Raiden will face off against some mean bosses, though they are a ragtag team of misfits from different countries, they still pack a punch. When a boss is defeated, players will be able to acquire their weapons and use them for the later levels. Each weapon does have its pros and cons, where some are quite slow to swing but inflict heavy damage, others are moderately quick to wield. But it seems through our initial playthrough that Raiden’s Katana seems to be the more balanced and quicker to use and we started on hard mode because…that’s just the way we roll.

Now we’ve mentioned about the bosses and touched on the offensive actions that Raiden can do, but what about defense?  The button layout has no block button, but instead players need to do two things simultaneously to ‘Parry’ their opponents. They will need to tilt the movement stick in the direction of the opponent and tap the light attack button at the moment the opponent is about to strike. Now this defensive skill is possibly the hardest move in the game to master. Especially when you’re being boxed in by multiple opponents. Parrying in that situation can be done even if an enemy is right behind you but it is still not easy. But the best thing about parrying is, when it is timed right and you can come up with a quick counter attack, it really is satisfying and looks even cooler when Raiden pulls it off.    

One of the bosses in the game, he will test your "Parry" skills

One of the bosses in the game, he will test your “Parry” skills

The only few things that detract from the game starts off with the weapons that the bosses give. Aforementioned about balance, each weapon does have its pros and cons. But as you ramp up the difficulty, you will find that other than Raiden’s Katana and another sword that he will be able to earn, are the quickest weapons in the game. Enemies become plentiful and speed is key. If you are in mid combo for too long then expect to have your combo broken by an attack by another opponent. The other thing that is iffy (is that even a word?) is the weapons you can use such as the rocket launcher, surface to air missiles or grenades. When aiming with any of those weapons, Raiden is stationary. He cannot run and gun, and with a large weapon like the rocket launcher, reloading takes precious seconds to complete leaving you wide open to attack.

Presentation

Aesthetically, MGR:Revengeance is a very very good looking game. The details are where they are supposed to be, and character models are quite detailed including foreground and background set pieces. Raiden himself looks so much more different than what he was back in the MGS2 and MGS4 days but Raiden looks so much more different, more mature in most ways. Platinum Games really have put their stamp of their work for this title, but more on that in a few paragraphs.

A few small things could get players a bit confused and maybe annoyed, I stress these are small things, but they do not detract the overall presentation of Revengeance. Players who go through the game at normal or easy will most likely finish the game within 5 hours and then think that the game is just way too short. In essence, it isn’t. With all the movies and the content packed into the game, it should actually be about 8 – 10 hours. For the harder difficulties, definitely more.  

For newcomers to the Metal Gear franchise and this is their first game, definitely should take from it as a fun, hack n slash game. The story is abit hard to grasp with the military terminology and past events. But I assure that newcomers will be able to have fun with the game if the story does not make any sense to them. For the veteran players that have been with the MGS franchise, they should be able to fit into the story right away.

We didn't mention this but other than the campaign mode, this is VR missions mode where you can practice your skills and do missions under time limits and such

We didn’t mention this but other than the campaign mode, this is VR missions mode where you can practice your skills and do missions under time limits and such

For the movies that are played out, there isn’t a consistency if you change Raiden’s outfit. Raiden has the ability to obtain new outfits provided you finish the game, download from the PSN/XBLA store or fulfil other unknown extras when you fight. Which is really cool, but in the movies they aren’t changed. It’s abit of a niggling issue, because it would be cool to see the new outfit rendered or carried over for that scene. To have that consistency.

Platinum Games, put their hallmark of detail and their brand for each game they play. I’m not saying the logo but you know it’s a platinum game when you play it. Their past games like Bayonetta, Vanquish and Anarchy Reigns all have a sense immense speed. The frame rate is very fast, though if there is too much on the screen especially explosions, frame rate drops and it can slow down. But again this is another trivial mention.  

Final Comments

Hideo Kojima and Platinum Games should be proud of themselves. For a game that definitely suits the character in lightning action and with a sense of blood and gore, it really works out nicely. It may not be everyones cup of tea, especially if they are misguided in the play time of less than 5 hours (like I mentioned before this is definitely a misconception) then the game is a nonsensical game that you can get your action fix without having to think hard about. Literally its jump in and play. And as psychotic as this sounds, chopping up cyborgs has never been this fun.

Get it
Borrow it
Forget it

Get it. For those that are new comers to the Metal Gear franchise, this is an easy and quick game to get into and its very fun to play. But I would think that this game caters mainly towards those that have kept up with the franchise all those years ago. It answers some questions but again poses other questions as to what has happened since Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Raiden is so different, and though as unnatural with his swearing and his darker side making a vicious return, it just still seems right that this Cyborg Ninja/Samurai to be the leading protagonist.

metalgear1

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Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

Aliens: Colonial Marines Review
PS3, XBOX360
By Janus 32

Introduction

ACMLurkerPosterFor years since James Cameron’s Aliens movie, there was an unspoken awe and admiration, predominantly for the male audience that witnessed the movie, of the badass Colonial Marines that went up against the Xenomorphs. They were a ragtag squad of men and women who knew when to lay on the firepower and the hurt when it counted. But of course as those who have seen the movie, they were overwhelmed against an enemy that clearly did not fear death and was a formidable the dark, in confined spaces and were agile.

Sega have teamed up with Gearbox Software to finally bring the experience for players to become a badass Colonial Marine. They have also mentioned that the game will be canon from James Cameron’s movie. Though Aliens: Colonial Marines was delayed a few times, this is a welcome start for the new year.

As always, we are not entirely sure about movies coming into games. They never usually work due to lame mechanics, way too easy objectives and generally it’s a crappy rehash all across the board.

But this is different…in a way.

We only speculate if this is a game that’s worth the wait. Though we only ask is it a game we would want to jump in, our pulse rifles and flamethrowers blazing? Or is it a game just deserves us to literally scream “Game over man, game over!” in our best Hudson voice?

Story

It has been exactly 17 weeks since the events of the Colonial Marines were sent to recon the colonists area of Hadley’s Hope and of course Lt Ripley and Hicks’s escape from the planet.

A battalion of Marines have arrived on site to answer the distress call of the Sulaco. Which mysteriously has come back to LV-426 even though it was spotted outside the rims of “Fiorina ‘Fury’ 161”, another desolate planet.

The Marines have one simple mission, to explore the Sulaco and find out what happened and retrieve any survivors.

Though they are not alone as they enter the derelict ship, they also aren’t the only ones looking to what happened to the Sulaco and its crew…  

Gameplay

The approach to the Aliens: Colonial Marines affair is a first person shooter. Players will be able to handle the iconic Pulse Rifle, Smart Gun, Pistol and other varied weapons that have not been seen in the Aliens franchise. As an FPS game, it works just as the genre entails. Though the differences that players will feel is the tension. The atmosphere, the lighting, the iconic motion sensor beeping creating that effect of complete and utter vulnerability for anything that will jump out at you in the dark.

That awkward moment when you know you're going to be impregnated through your face...

That awkward moment when you know you’re going to be impregnated through your face…

The gameplay is very straight forward. Objectives have to be met to further the story and to further the gameplay. Controlling a very no-nonsense Marine by the name of Corporal Winters, will find out the conspiracy that has unfolded onto the Sulaco. The Campaign mode has 2 modes. You can go at it alone, or you can have a 4 player multiplayer co-operative mode that lets you and 3 friends tackle the campaign mode together. Both modes have its own pros and cons. With single player, you will experience the game with only a set amount of max ammo that you can carry and 3 weapons to carry. Your primary weapon, your secondary and your pistol. Your primary and secondary weapons have limited ammunition and you will be forced to scour every corner for ammunition for each of them. As for health, you have your health bar but also for armor. The armor bar is split into 3 segments and deteriorates with damage.

This same mode carries over to co-operative gameplay with 3 other people. Though the enemies will be increased due to the number of players. This mode is fun to tackle altogether, but it still doesn’t detract what taints a game that would have a lot of promise with bugs and less than average AI. An example will be the single player campaign, your partner in the journey is a veteran marine by the name of O’Neal that has a smart gun with him. Though he calls out the enemies and where they are located, his AI doesn’t help at all, maybe abit but it isn’t a lot. You’ll be finding out quickly that you will be doing all the work just to get out of the situation. Pro-tip: Short controlled bursts with any automatic weapon, it really does work.

Your enemy AI fares no better. Without revocation, the first 20 minutes is great, but as you get through the campaign, the aliens just seem to be…not as intuitive or as scary as I would want them to be. They almost just seem to be like cannon fodder, completely the opposite as to what the Aliens were depicted in the movie. When they rush towards you, they will slow down and go on their hind legs to either slash you to death or grab you for the throat in the face gouge move. You can melee them off you before they attack, but again, it soon becomes a chore to fight against the Aliens. Unless you poorly execute your manoeuvres or waste ammo and get horded by a few of them simultaneously, they are easy to take out.

"Look out behind you!" "WHAT?!?" "Just kidding, help me out" "Sonuva..."

“Look out behind you!”
“WHAT?!?”
“Just kidding, help me out”
“Sonuva…”

Like any other game, unless you have a super duper, kick ass connection, connecting to or being the host of someone who has the complete opposite to that connection and you will be seeing some serious lag time and worst of all, glitches. I was stuck in a room with 3 other friends, we knew the way out but the door was not opening. When someone inadvertently ran into it, they just ‘clipped’ through. Alien bodies if you take them out in mid jump, the body stays hovering. Reviving, which you can do in co-op can take more than two times just to recover someone from bleeding out. This is particularly annoying as if you play with your friends, if 1 goes down then expect to be overwhelmed. At some points as well, you will be fighting against human enemies who tie in as soldiers from the Weyland Yutani Group. They will fight back and hide within cover to a degree that you will need to flank them to take them out. Several issues as, no matter how careful you can be in sneaking up on them or just peeking out, they always know where you are and will fire with deadly precision. This isn’t balance and will force you to always let loose a few rounds then duck away, sometimes spraying and praying. Both AI of the Aliens and Weyland Yutani troops also have inconsistent health bars. You could unleash half of a 40 round magazine from the Pulse Rifle and the enemy would either still keep coming (albeit be wounded) or go down. It’s strange how that is constructed but enemies seem like bullet sponges.

As players get through each level, they build experience points to use for new player skins for multiplayer, new weapons, weapon accessories/attachments and perks for the xenomorphs when they play them in multiplayer. Players also will be able to walk around each level and pick up iconic weapons from the characters that were with Sgt Apone and his ragtag of marines. Such as Gormon’s pistol and Hudson’s Pulse Rifle. Each of these “Legendary” weapons, as they call them, have their own attributes and own attachments like more ammo, larger capacity magazines and attachments.
Presentation

It is great to see that for a game that has been reprised by Gearbox Software that they would revamp a franchise like Aliens: Colonial Marines. It’s a daring effort. And some aspects they do have to throwback to those who enjoyed the movie. Two original characters have come back as voice appearances. Lance Hendrickson as Bishop and Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks. This is a great addition to as not only is it a throwback to the diehard fans that have loved the movie, but to the newcomers that the game has Hollywood clout.

But that would be about it.Aliens-Dec-05

It’s a shame that the overall visual presentation is not as amazing looking as what was shown at E3. Now you may be reading this and saying “why would you compare the game now to what was shown at E3 2012?” and my answer would be, because E3 is what made me grab my attention fully and wanting the game ever so much more. And the presentation for the finished product looks below average. It really does. Revisiting the area of ‘Hadleys Hope’ and the colonists area of LV-426 is just…so bland compared to what was shown at E3. It’s really disappointing that a game that is done by Gearbox just comes up with this final product. It seems rushed, unpolished and quite frankly it’s a disservice to us gamers who lose out on what should’ve been a very good looking game. It’s hard to actually say this without comparing to the movie, but the music rendition from the original movie score is, ok at best. It can sometimes capture the mood as you sweep bulkheads and spaceships and create some serious tension in dark areas, but overall is a mess. It sounds out of place when it tries to do it all the time and to try and accentuate the moments of the marines when they endeavour to take some bravado act.

Final Comments

As ambitious as it was, the game looked promising months ago, and it being delayed a few times, we as gamers would’ve thought this was a good thing for Sega and Gearbox to properly tweak the game and to refine it

The end result, utterly disappointing.

It’s not all lost though, the throwbacks to the movie and the franchise is great, the sounds of the motion sensor and the weapons used are great as well, in some ambiences and lighting is great to see. There is some serious tension for one level that will leave you weaponless and crawling in the sewers against an enemy that explodes upon contact.

Get it
Borrow it
Forget it

Forget it. This is a really disappointing entry by Sega and Gearbox. The premise and the bar they had set to tease the public to want to get the game and then they put out this final product is a slap in the face for fans of the movie and the newcomers. I can only hope that there will be something redeeming that Sega can do because the games they put out just don’t have the quality. And Gearbox, this is the biggest surprise as it is expected such a company would delivery some serious quality, but yet this is a step back, or many steps back for both companies backing this game.

Game-Over-Man-Game-Over

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Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space 3 Review
PS3, XBOX360, PC
By Janus 32

Introduction

Isaac Clarke and newcomer John Carver

Isaac Clarke and newcomer John Carver

Electronic Arts’s Visceral Games is a name that most gamers should know, whether they are veterans of the Survival Horror genre or just newbies stepping in for the first time. The series has gathered fans due to its very grotesque enemies and the all-important ‘Scare factor’, since the Resident Evil series seems to be lacking in that department as of late (like…5 years or more late). It has its scares, and has its monsters but has a very very complete story of an unlucky engineer by the name of Isaac Clarke who just happened to have volunteered for the wrong mission primarily to save his girlfriend.

Since Dead Space 2, gamers have been wondering if there would be a 3rd game or would it just end at just as a sequel. Though shortly after its release there was a leak of the Dead Space 3 game shown by a TV show in Israel. It piqued a lot of interest, and of course the rumours were spread. How could this be? Why so soon? Is this a real report? And Israel Television? Either way, some time had passed and only at E3 2012 was there a proper announcement and a demo showing of the game. Though not unexpected, the reveal was great to witness as the demo showed a large boss fight, in which Isaac eventually is ingested by a large monster. But also there was gameplay of co-op where Isaac teams up with another character similarly dressed as him.

But with each Dead Space there is change. The original only was purely a single player affair, in Dead Space 2 there was a multiplayer element, and now the formula has changed again.

Will the latest instalment be the cream of the crop for the franchise? Or is this another space adventure that’s should be left alone…in space…forever?

Story

The planets that inhabit colonies of humans are in peril.

The discovery and the tragedies that occurred on the planet Titan, specifically on “The Sprawl” have led to catastrophic events that could lead to the extinction of the human race. Multiple colonies have been exterminated by the cult group named “The Unitologists” who have been firm believers of the mysterious artefact, the “Markers” but have now under a new leadership turned brutal. The Unitologists have been relentless in their attack. Their slaughtering has been so clinical and methodical, that they have opposed and thinned out the ranks of the authorities that govern those worlds, which is EarthGov (Earth Government), the keepers of the peace.

Their firm belief is to wipe out humans for the coming of the judgement day in which that the Markers will provide divine retribution and purging of mankind.

It’s (space) terrorism on an intergalactic scale.

Amongst the chaos is engineer Isaac Clarke.

"Hello? Exterminator on scene"

“Hello? Exterminator on scene”

Clarke has not fully recovered from his ordeal since the events of the Sprawl, let alone his first discovery of the Markers since the USG Ishimura failed rescue operation. He has been hiding trying to cope with everything that has happened on another city where peace is still stable.

Unfortunately things get worse.

Clarke is found at gunpoint by EarthGov forces and is given one option.
To find his ex-girlfriend, Ellie Langford who was on a mission and has now gone missing. With no choice, Clark complies…

Gameplay

As a third in a trilogy, Dead Space 3 has predominantly achieved a lot of new features and seamlessly integrated them into this latest instalment. A couple of firsts is the upgrade to the bench. The bench in past games was able to upgrade your kinesis modules and stasis modules. Kinesis and Stasis where your pull and push forces that you can do over long distances. Like the force…just but tangible. At the bench you could increase the strength, longevity and reach for both these modules. But now, the bench is a tool to craft weapons…LOTS of weapons. When you used to pick up blueprints for weapons in the last few games, they were just for a pre-built weapon, there was no customizations whatsoever. But now? Its plentiful and each weapon you craft from scratch or craft from a picked up blueprint, you can vary and change at your will. It’s a crazy amount to swap out and change.

The Bench, where Isaac or Carver can craft their weapons. Though both characters only can carry two weapons at a time in this installment

The Bench, where Isaac or Carver can craft their weapons. Though both characters only can carry two weapons at a time in this installment

Such examples? As many would remember, there was only one type of automatic rifle which was the pulse rifle, now there are semi-automatic carbines and automatic carbines. With these weapons the old favourites like the contact beam, force gun and plasma cutter can be made and enhanced for maximum damage. For those who don’t know the infamous weapons as aforementioned, Isaac Clarke was an engineer, he’s no soldier so he built weapons of an engineering perspective that were in the Dead Space world just as ordinary maintenance tools that could cut through rock and such.

Each weapon can have ‘Booster Circuits’. These circuits act as a conduit for four different attributes. For Damage, Reload time, Magazine size and Rate of fire. Maximizing these attributes of course will be easier to take out your enemies in the harder difficulties. You can also pimp out your weapons with other weapon attachments. From scopes, to under barrelled shotguns, grenade launchers, change of ammo to acid rounds, flame rounds, electrical rounds and the list goes on.

Tread softly for I carry a big gun

Tread softly for I carry a ri-DICULOUSLY big gun

Though what is a bit of a change from the previous Dead Space’s is replaying stages once completing them straight away. Though in its predecessors replaying of levels only happened after you completed the game first. This unfortunately promotes grinding, because as the levels grow longer and harder to deal with and enemies are plentiful, it’s imperative to customize your weapons. But when you grind, it breaks up the story and the atmosphere of the game. It’s like Devil May Cry, grinding to be stronger for the next level can detract players because it halt’s fluidity for the game. It’s entirely up to the player how they will approach this, but on my initial play-through, I never repeated/grinded any levels.

What is missing, and this could be a good thing, is the multiplayer aspect. In Dead Space 2, it was introduced that human soldiers would go up against Necromorphs on varied maps. 4 VS 4 matches where Necromorphs would stop the human players from completing objectives. Teams would interchange 2 rounds between 1 game. It was not that great. So for Dead Space 3, it is noticeably absent and the only multiplayer aspect is 2 player co-operative play.

Isaac Clarke is joined by Sergeant John Carver. Carver is an EarthGov soldier who accompanies Isaac on his mission if you do co-op play. He is one without his own demons. Carver is a no-nonsense soldier, and he has the same attributes to Isaac, he has access to the same weapons but does have different suits available to him. But what players will come to understand other than the missions that is assigned to Isaac is there are co-op missions that Carver can do with Isaac, but only if he is present. If you play solo, no co-op missions are offered. What’s also interesting is if you play as Carver or Isaac, perspectives are different. If Carver can see something such as a hallucination, only he can see it and Isaac will see nothing, just see Carver losing his mind. The same is vice versa.

The face of Sergeant John Carver. Isaac's co-op partner character.

The face of Sergeant John Carver. Isaac’s co-op partner character. A soldier for EarthGov, Carver has his own demons and personal issues that conflict in his mind, and will soon discover just how powerful the Markers are and what damage they can do to his psyche

Presentation

Dead Space 3 comes into presentation…almost like its predecessors. Mostly the colours that are used for space, traversing derelict ships are of a dark colour. When there is no light, which is 90% of the time, there is barely anything gratifying to really gawk at. But the vastness of space, the world of Tau Volantis make up for that. In the early stages of the campaign, players need to travel between derelict ships and the scene is just outside of the planet Tau Volantis, a desolate planet that is covered white in snow. You could compare it to the Star Wars planet of Hoth from the movie The Empire Strikes Back.

In space, no one can see your best Iron Man impersonation

In space, no one can see your best Iron Man impersonation

The level of detail to environments is quite impressive. Especially when you have to go through bulkhead doors. You can actually see the gears working and spewing out steam as they crank open. That’s a really nice touch. The suits that you can attain and the weapons, as hard as it is to see from a third perspective view, are detailed as well. They are not at all as the modern day weaponry as of course the Dead Space timeline is several hundred years into the future. But creating and modifying weapons at the bench looks impressive albeit it’s a little hard to get used to with the user interfaces and switching between the varied options of upgrading or adding attachments to weaponry.

Your enemies, which are the Necromorphs of course are more detailed and more grotesque as ever. Though invariably the models have changed, the animations for most of your enemies if you get into a close quarters button mashing escape scenario still remains the same. The babies that had tentacles from Dead Space 1 and 2 are not babies anymore, they’re something I cannot accurately describe, kinda look animalistic but either way animations are the same where Isaac pulls the tentacles out and drop kicks the creature. It’s brutal, but always gets a laugh out of me.

The suits that Isaac wears and can change into are very very detailed. Every little bit such as the visor changing when going into outer space to increasing armour points, it’s unbelievable the detail the suits have and it was one of the primary things I strived for in the franchise, to collect the suits I mean. Not only did they look cool and they were sleek, the upgrading of them was even better as they turned into something completely different if you maxed out on the upgrades.

You can actually get the N7 Suit from Mass Effect. How to get it?...well we can't say. You have to discover that yourself

You can actually get the N7 Suit from Mass Effect. How to get it?…well we can’t say. You have to discover that yourself

The cinematics for Dead Space 3 invoke more emotion, and they have levelled up on the quality than its past games. From the non-speaking Isaac Clarke from Dead Space 1 to the on the fly meetings of Dr. Stross and Ellie Langford, Clarke has so much more of an active role. He says what he needs to say, he says what he thinks at certain moments that really do just make him, the hero that was not to be in this situation. The voice acting and the dialogue has never been campy, it’s always been straight edged and quite serious, but a hint of very dark humour times. Dead Space 3 has continued that and though this is not a refreshing mention of it, it’s great to mention because it has continued to have great writing.

Accompanying the cinematics is the music, When enemies break vents to attack to the when the characters banter to each other, it does very well to make its point. Every situation has the right amount of music to further instil chills and goosebumps. Jason Graves and James Hannigan co-compose the music for Dead Space 3. Jason Graves has been in the Dead Space franchise from the beginning as he did the scores for Dead Space 1, 2 and Dead Space Extraction, James Hannigan comes in as a first timer but hails from works such as Runescape, Brute Force and Transformers Universe. Both men have collaborated great scores to show that fear is in the heart of a silent abyss such as space.

Final Comments

For what looks to be the last one for the franchise, the game certainly has come to a conclusion and it seems closure has been done as well. It’s a very mature and serious game, albeit there is dark humour involved. Veteran Dead Space players will feel right at home with this instalment as well as comfortable with the new game features. Though those that are new, this is a game that can be enjoyed as a standalone game, but as with any franchise, it does not hurt to experience its predecessors for the full story.

Taking down the terror, just one of the enemies that Isaac and Carver will face

Taking down the terror, just one of the enemies that Isaac and Carver will face

Get it
Borrow it
Forget it

Get it. It’s just too hard to pass up for a franchise that still can provide scares and chills in a gaming world where fear isn’t widely adopted as opposed to action genre type games of today. We challenge you to play the game in the dark with headphones and moderately high sound. That should get your heart rate going.

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DMC: Devil May Cry Review

DMC: Devil May Cry Review
PS3, XBOX360
By Janus 32

Introduction
dmc-devil-may-cry-wallpaper1We reach 2013, a new year and a lot of games on the horizon, ironically most of the triple A games are all franchises. Ending in a 2, a 3 or in this case a reboot.

For those that were there in the days of the original Devil May Cry that graced the Playstation 2, Devil May Cry was a mixture of action, puzzle and a beat em’up mix of game. It was strange at first, but the character of Dante is what made the game so much more appealing due to his cockiness, arrogance and stylish moves. To this day that still remains the same. The puzzlers, the action and Dante doesn’t seem to have changed one bit, and that isn’t a bad thing

So one has to question does this reboot have the same premises of the previous games? Why is Dante so different? And is this game really worth your time in demon souls?

Story
The war between the Angels and Demons has been waged for centuries. Unbeknownst to the world, they seem to be closer on earth then a lot can imagine, specifically known as ‘Limbo’.

A group by the name of ‘The Order’ has been busy with terrorist attacks against the capital. But no motive has been accounted for.

A young, rather cocky and arrogant man wastes his time boozing and enjoying life with women is the norm when suddenly his life is shattered when a girl comes to warn him of an imminent attack from the demon world. Seconds after being warned, the young man is dragged into ‘Limbo’ and a demon appears and destroys his campervan of a home.

Upon defeating the demon, he is convinced to join the order to fight for a greater cause, but before that he must know his origins as he does not remember anything from aged 7 onwards due to a life threatening sickness.

The name of this cocky and arrogant young man?

Dante

Gameplay

DMC:Devil May Cry has always been predominantly a beat em’up game and it has a lot of style. Though some may misconstrue the franchise as button mashing, in a sense it is and it isn’t. Just like its predecessors, when you fight you are ranked as you defeat enemies by a ‘style’ meter. Continuing a combination of hits is not enough, but in the way that it is done. Example, slashing three times with the rebellion sword, launch enemy in the air, slash enemy in air 3-4 times as a juggle, slam them down, change to Revenant shotgun and shoot once, change to your new heaven weapon ‘Osiris’ and slash a few times, launch again and switch to Ebony and Ivory then slam down opponent with your Rebellion again. This is just one of many combinations you can do to increase your style ranking. Going from lowest D – SSS, you’ll know when you’re styling it well. Pro:Tip – When you see an enemy about to attack, their weapon will glow at about 2 seconds before strike, tap the dodge button then resume the carnage.

Dante is a man of many talents, as he progresses through the game, new skills and weapons are unlocked and this formula is still evident. The iconic duo of Ebony and Ivory which are your twin pistols and your sword Rebellion make a nostalgic return.

A screenshot of the gameplay. As you see in the top left hand corner is Dante's health bar and the purple bar is the devil trigger. On the right you can see the style meter building, currently judged as a C Grading

A screenshot of the gameplay. As you see in the top left hand corner is Dante’s health bar and the purple bar is the devil trigger. On the right you can see the style meter building, currently judged as a C Grading

What is new to this instalment of the DMC franchise is Dante can switch between two modes, the Heaven Mode and Devil Mode. Heaven mode has a new weapon, a white/bluish coloured Scythe that deals damage to multiple enemies called ‘Osiris’, good for crowd control when Dante is surrounded. It’s also a great weapon to continue combinations, and even increases in power when used for an amount of time that will give strength to your other weapons for a short amount of time by glowing. The Devil mode is when Dante will have a weapon called ‘Arbiter’. It is a heavier weapon that looks like a huge one sided axe. Slower to swing but its damage is tremendously high against enemies. Another new feature is Dante’s heaven and hell weapons act as grappling hooks to traverse levels. Hell mode will pull objects towards you while Heaven mode pulls you towards objects. You can uses these grappling hooks for enemies as well.

Though these are just some of the weapons that you will get early on in the game, there is more to unlock and more to earn as you progress, and you would think by the end of the weapons collecting you wouldn’t have all the buttons for them all, but to switch between your ordinary weapons and the heaven and hell modes, its just by your D-Pad.

Dante's 'Girls'. Ebony and Ivory

Dante’s ‘Girls’. Ebony and Ivory

Another old favourite that comes back for Dante is his Devil Trigger. Though this time it acts very very differently again from its past games as time will slow, but enemies will be thrown in the air. To inflict massive damage and continuing your style gauge, you must juggle your enemies while they are in the air. Let them touch the ground, they will recover and attack you and it is highly likely they will hit you and interrupt your combo. It also replenishes health when executed. Though this is the new Devil Trigger, it feels less…powerful. In the past games, Devil Triggers seemed to last longer and building them up was at a moderate speed, its just this time around, building up the meter is slow and using the Devil Trigger drains very quickly forcing you to make every slash/move count.

When you visit the divine statue during your campaign, which is another name for shop and also can be visited between stages a collection of red soul orbs will be your currency to purchase health items, resurrection orbs, devil trigger items and so much more. Silver orbs are earned per stage depending on your style of fighting which is then used to upgrade your weapons and your skills. Making your weapons have more damage as well as the moves you employ with that weapon are upgradable.

You will also notice that each level will have certain things to collect. Freeing trapped souls and several different keys. The souls provide you more red orbs, but importantly is the keys. The keys unlock secret missions that once completed successfully, you will obtain rare items.

Presentation
The DMC franchise has always been, in a sense about religion. That what exists in this world is two planes of the supernatural. The Angels and warriors of above us in the realm of Heaven and the sinister underlings and horrific monsters that dwell below in the pits of Hell.

DMC:Devil May Cry comes in with the premise of being mixed into those worlds and reality. When Dante has to fight demons and angels, he doesn’t fight them in the real world, but he fights them in ‘Limbo’. Limbo is the blurred plane between reality and the demon/angel world but Dante is not transported to either, he stays in the real world but whatever environmental damage is done in limbo effects the real world.

This kind of presentation is shown during the campaign, and environmentally speaking, it looks good. It’s a different take on the DMC franchise, and as a reboot this was great to see. The colour palettes that mark the real world and Limbo is very different, Limbo is a decayed and destroyed landscape as it meshes with reality, but reality is more just like what we see every day, its normal and sunny and…serene.

Could you imagine being dragged into Limbo at a moment’s notice? That’s Dante’s adventure in this latest reboot and there would be no doubt I would have some serious headaches.

Dante drawn in Anime form

Dante drawn in Anime form

The fighting systems that is presented for this DMC is rather fluid, and again like previous games, it’s very stylish. The change between weapons and either doing an air juggle or taking out multiple enemies with a wide hit range is satisfying to pull off. Ninja Theory and CAPCOM seemed to have gone to great lengths with the fight mechanics and it shows. It’s very very fun to execute.

One thing to note as well is the kind of music that is the soundtrack of the game. The music is quite metal and abit of screaming. Nothing wrong with that, it fits with the games atmosphere as Limbo is not a pretty place, and Dante just looks like the kinda guy that would rock out to some seriously hardcore tunes. Some people may dislike this, but if you do or you don’t, you will soon realize that it does work.

Final Comments

The Devil May Cry franchise seemed to have been hitting the same formula when it had released Devil May Cry 4. With this reboot of seeing how Dante was a young kid and how the events of the previous games came to fruition as Dante and Vergil grew apart, the canon is really great to see for those who are not familiar with the DMC lore.

Though the formula is still the same. The single player aspect, the upgrades of weapons and moves list and the boss battles are still the same. There is no multiplayer, but there is some replay value with over 5 different modes. One such mode that has enemies have standard health but if you are hit just once, its game over. Yes, truly hardcore for the hardcore DMC fans out there.

Get it
Forget it
Rent it

It’s a get it game. Why? It mixes a good story and action as a single player game. With no multiplayer in sight, the formula though been used over and over again in the franchise, it doesn’t fail in the slightest. For the newest Demon Hunter, this would be aspiring for them to start with this reboot before getting the HD remakes of the other DMC games and DMC4, for those who have the collections already, this is a great edition because it begins the story of Dante and Vergil and its a refresher for the series and there’s nothing wrong with this reboot of the franchise.

Dante's Twin Brother, Vergil. He does not sport any projectile weapons, but the only weapon is his Yamato which is a Katana forged with Heavenly powers, unlike Dante who eventually only wields Demon Powers

Dante’s Twin Brother, Vergil. He does not sport any projectile weapons, but the only weapon is his Yamato which is a Katana forged with Heavenly powers, unlike Dante who eventually only wields Demon Powers

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X-COM: Enemy Unknown Review

X-COM: Enemy Unknown
By Janus 32
PS3/XBOX360

Introduction

468px-Xcom_enemy_logoWhen one thinks of the genre strategy games, one would safely assume it’s a game that is on the PC, and theres nothing wrong with that. Strategy games usually don’t work out on console due to movement and screen adjustment as opposed to how fast it is on PC.

But as strategy games go, there have been exceptions to the rule, like Red Alert 3 and Valkyria Chronicles. X-COM comes in as a multiplatform game that is continued from its PC predecessor. With the next gen consoles out, X-COM: Enemy Unknown blasts into the console race with its varied and abundant brand of strategy.

But as strategy games go, should they even be ported to console? Or is X-COM a welcome relief to a generation of games that’s just all fight but no brains?

Story

The world is in peril. Extra-terrestrials have attacked and breached earths atmosphere and have begun their attacks on each major population. Killing, abductions and territory is being seized by this unknown enemy.

X-COM, a secret branch is called upon to lend assistance where it is needed against the aliens. Though not a force that has its own army, it is a relatively small project branch of the armed forces that have the technology and the manpower to infiltrate enemy territory and take out the extra-terrestrial threat.

Backed by 16 nations, the project is purely experimental. They are earths last defence and the group to call if any country is in dire need.

They are X-COM

Gameplay

X-COM is purely a strategic squad based game. You will only be able to control soldiers on the battlefield, there are no large vehicles of any kind to control. With this latest instalment, there are a lot of things to consider in order to combat your alien enemy, and a lot of it has some credibility in regards to modern warfare, if you think deeply as I do.

Starting with the main focus of your gameplay, is soldiers. No branch of any military would be without them, otherwise its Skynet all over again. Your forces are of course split into different categories depending on how they are played when they are rookies. They can either be Assault, Sniper, Heavy and Support. Assault soldiers can handle rifles and shotguns. Snipers can of course snipe but have further skill sets but only handle one weapon. Heavy’s handle heavy machine guns and can be upgraded to carry rocket launchers. Support can handle rifles and shotguns as well but their skillsets branch off differently to assault members as they can be double classed as medics. All classes have sidearm’s to complement their inventory. Each category in the grand scheme have great pros and cons, but a balanced team can be a deadly one. When you get on the field, you will be handling rookies, but of course as they gain experience by killing the enemy, they will be ranked accordingly vie proper military terminology. Squaddie, Corporal, Sergeant, Captain, Lieutenant all the way up to Colonel. And even better is customising each of your soldiers, you can change their names, their looks, their voices and what they will be equpped with per mission.

Not mentioned in the review, you can customize each of your soldiers. Armor, hair colour, race, helmet, colour of armor...the list goes on!

Not mentioned in the review, you can customize each of your soldiers. Armor, hair colour, race, helmet, colour of armor…the list goes on!

But as you gain the ranks of your soldiers, so to will you need to press your attention on how to take out the enemy not just by brute force. You’ll also need to counter their UFO’s with fighter jets called “Interceptors”. Like the name suggests, if a UFO is present, you must take action to take it down, failure to do so can mean that it will attack by other means, such as your satellites that you have hovering in space, but more on that in a few paragraphs.

Fighting the aliens also means you will need to understand them, as cliché as that sounds. You will be charged with recovering the bodies of your enemy for study by your science department. You’ll at one stage need to start capturing them as well to study how they behave, but not only if you get them, dead or alive, the enemy provides the science department ways to create new items and weapons for you and your interceptors. It is invaluable to have the research done if you want to have stronger offensive and defensive items for the later enemies you will face. Remember, not having the right gear means ill preparation, ill preparation means your men dying.

You will also have an Engineering Department that will work in conjunction with the science department in building and improving your hardware. Weapons, items, armour, the works. They can also improve weapons and their efficiency and you can build other very valuable items such as the ‘Satellite’.

The Satellite is an invaluable item that you will need to build, but again to launch the satellite you will need to build a Satellite uplink. Construction of buildings like more workshops and laboratories and power generators keep your project going. Building them adjacent to each other render you with bonuses and each building provide more engineers, more electricity, more scientists to further extend research and hardware building. Of course the more you have, the faster the wait time. Satellites must be launched over the countries that fund the X-Com project. In total there are 16 nations that have provided their support, put a satellite over them to watch for activity and they again provide bonuses and more importantly funding to keep you going. Put satellites over a certain group of nations and another bonus is unlocked from cheaper/faster times of constructing weapons/items to increased percentage in funding.

Screenshot of how you build your labs, power generators and other departmental buildings that will help you in the fight against E.T

Screenshot of how you build your labs, power generators and other departmental buildings that will help you in the fight against E.T

You will need to be wary of the “Doomsday Ticker” meaning that if 8 of the nations that are funding the X-Com project withdraw, then its game over. They will withdraw due to panic in their nations which is measured by a 5 dot bar ranging from blue which is safe to red which is danger zone. X-Com will be answering calls from every nation to help reduce the panic from the alien invasion, success means reduction of panic and other bonuses, failure means loss of soldiers/higher panic/increased pressure for training soldiers and other menial tasks that will set you back. In short? Try not to fail.

Every month you will be rewarded with additional funds from ‘The Council’. A mysterious organization that contacts you not just every month to review your progress, but from time to time to save important figureheads of their community. Which of course they reward handsomely. Remember, pleasing the council leads to greater rewards in X-COM.

Presentation

X:Com: Enemy Unknown isn’t a fabulous looking game. Now don’t get me wrong, when I mean by that is that I say the game doesn’t have lollipops, rainbows, my little ponies and bronies walking about. The game is set in a futuristic world and each battlefield you encounter can be varied as an urban or rural area. The colour palettes are not bright but do feel right for the environments that you will be encountering your enemies in.

One thing about strategy games like the Command and Conquer series is that in X-COM, Non-Playable Characters (NPC’s) interact with you in cutscenes. Briefing you on missions and giving you feedback on your mission success or failures. This element of story telling for some may think is corny and outdated, but I have always felt these scenes gave you sense of power, a sense of responsibility to make sure the job is done right and completed by the numbers so to speak..it felt more personal.

Points for language that is used within X-COM. Primarily it is a mico management of a squad of men and women who you decide fight properly or fight sloppishly and end up dying as a result, but the language is very military. And as it should be, normal speak wouldnt help perpetuate a military unit that is fighting for the safety of humanity, again this touch is great to put some authentic spin on things.

Your first enemy, the Sectoid

Your first enemy, the Sectoid

Though a very minor detail that isn’t great with the presentation is graphics tearing. When players get their soldiers killed, in the action cam, you can see your character go completely bald and lose all sorts of facial features and die. It can be a cause for niggling annoyance because loading screens and details go slow in transition such as moving between your departments in your base. But again, these are very minor.

Final Comments

Though not covering all of the facets of the gameplay, X-COM is a daring instalment in its move to consoles because of sole fact they are better played on PC’s. Developer Firaxis Games and Publisher 2K Games took a huge gamble. Comparing to Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, X-COM has a more slower pace to fighting and strategizing. It really does force you to think.  Every move counts, every inch of ground matters and one wrong decision can have a catastrophic result. Thats the battlefield. Back at the headquarters, your choices determine how you want to tackle the invasion, it can be through science first to learn about the aliens or can be through upgrading your hardware. There is no right or wrong decision, but what is guaranteed is you will be making decisions that will affect how you fight and how you deal with loss or making up for lost ground due to a failure.

This is what strategy is all about.

Get it
Rent it
Forget it

It’s a get it game for sure. Strategy doesn’t come by often and when a game such as X-Com: Enemy Unknown brings in factors that make you actually care about your soldiers, your research, the outcome of each battle, then you know you have an impressive strategic game that will push you to fight tooth and nail for the best result.

(P.N Though we did not initially outline the multiplayer format, players will be pitted against each other, a mano et mano battle, squad against squad. And the best part is it isn’t just limited to humans. Players will be able to engage with a squad filled with extra terrestrials mixed with humans. Or one can have a team full of humans and one with ET’s, its totally up to you. How does multiplayer handle? Exactly like chess and the campaign mode. In a nutshell? It’s devastatingly fun)

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Games of 2013

30 Games to look forward to of 2013
By Janus32

Gamers and Gamettes the end of 2012 is here! But a new year of games and new IP’s will be gracing us as to what seems to be another year of good gaming with very good and high expectation titles.
Here is a list of what we think will be games that will be hard hitters and what to look forward to as, a year that will not have 13/13/13’s, but a year that is sure to be remembered for its caliber of gaming.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

The infamous Colonial Marines motion tracker is what comes to mind ever since viewers saw the movie that was done by James Cameron. Now years later, Gearbox Software and Sega are teaming up to bring the actual adventure alive through the video game format. And this is a game that already looks like it will aim to please. With all the right sounds of the aliens, the pulse rifles and more importantly the game will be canon, whats not to like for a game that will continue the story of when Lt. Ripley, Corporal Hicks and Newt had left and the Sulaco is just floating in space.

The world will be expecting this game February 12th.aliens-colonial-marines


Army of Two: The Devils Cartel

The premise of working together with someone on the battlefield as a pair was first started with Army of Two. Now the third in the franchise, Army of Two is now going to be focusing on two different protagonists named Alpha and Bravo. Simple? But effective. It seems that Salem and Rios will be having a more supportive role in this outing. Visceral Games will be taking over for this instalment and EA comes back to publish the game and music will be done by Brian Tyler who is known for his Fast and Furious soundtracks and recently Far Cry 3. Devils Cartel will also be powered by the Frostbite 2 engine.

Lookout for this game on March 29th. army_of_two_the_devils_cartel_2013-wide


Beyond Two souls

Quantic Dream were the developers for the hit Heavy Rain. A gritty story about 4 people whose lives intersect at some stage or another and are tied by a serial killer that abducts and murders children. Now Quantic Dream have come up with their next game that insures that it will be more grittier than the last. Implementing state of the art facial capture and it sporting the same mechanics like Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls has been rumoured around the internet that it could be game of the year 2013 and the game hasn’t even been released yet! The game will have Hollywood starlet Ellen Page as main character. Though there has been controversy she should have been for Naughty Dog’s leading lady as Ellie for the game, that has since changed and the end result is Ellen stays for Beyond Two Souls.

Release Date is To Be Confirmed. beyond-two-souls


Bioshock Infinite

Its unfortunate to say but this highly anticipated title has had one word that comes to mind and its “Delay”. Already delayed more than twice, 2013 is the time that it will be coming out. Another game that is part of a franchise, it has garnered quite a following due to its steampunk theme and people saying the phrase “Would you kindly please…?” This time round, players will be walking around in 1912, playing as Booker Dewitt to find a young girl by the name of Elizabeth. And of course such a simple task, turns completely in on its head. Bioshock Infinite promises to have stunning visuals and a story that will be engaging for the player, though no multiplayer will be present, the game will predominantly be a one player affair. And nothing is wrong with that. If there is multiplayer, that would be interesting as well.

Bioshock Infinite looks to come out March 26th. bioshock_infinite_2013_game-wide


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Game Developer Mercury Steam teams up with legendary Kojima Productions to bring in the next instalment of a very long franchise which is Castlevania. Lords of Shadow 2 will be a third person adventure game. There isn’t alot of information to by other than the it is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Mirror of Fate. No release date has been specified but it will be released sometime in 2013.
2012 VGA Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 cinematic trailer rise of Dracul Belmont


Crysis 3

Crysis 3, a game for its grounbreaking graphics and a title that has been synonymous to crashing computers due to how hard it can push a graphics card. But with todays techonology, running a Crysis game should be a piece of cake for max settings of graphics. Crysis 3 marks as canon 24 years after the events of Crysis 2 and players once again will take control of “Prophet” who returns to New York on what has been dubbed as a “A revenge mission”. Crysis 3 has been announced to have multiplayer included.

Crysis 3 looks to be released on February 22nd.
cae951cc950203c0e6a2e6d6bf519a68


Dark Souls II

A sequel to the very difficult Dark Souls, the announcement for this game barely 24 days ago on December 7th, 2012. Developed by “From Software” in Japan, players will know and newcomers who have heard, will be served another game with an equally brutal difficulty setting…so to speak. Though there has been word that the game will have tweaked settings for players that do not want to experience the harshness of what was the first instalment.

No exact date has been given for release. dark-souls-ii


Dead Island: Riptide

A direct sequel to the very popular Dead Island, the sequel in canon is set directly after the events of the first game. 2012 was a year that is remembered primarily for zombies and when Dead Island appeared with the very visceral and confronting trailer and its haunting music, people around the world could not help but notice. And for those that couldn’t watch the trailer…well, that happens as well. Riptide will be continuing the melee combat to its fullest and of course newer set pieces that the 4 survivors of the story will have to contend with. This sequel seems to look like it may not disappoint.

Release Date is slated for April 26th. Dead-Island-Riptide

Dead Space 3

Survival Horror seemed to have died when Dead Space entered the world, Resident Evil was going into an action sort of genre, and Silent Hill was just pushing out games for what seemed like the sake of it. Dead Space had brought back survival horror with Isaac Clarke. An engineer answering the distress call of the biggest planet cracking ship called the ‘Ishimura’, in which he discovers an artefact has infected and killed the crew and in which Isaac’s girlfriend is onboard as well. Dead Space 3 will be continuing the story from Dead Space 2, Isaac seems to have crashed on a very cold planet like Hoth but named Tau Volantis, and it seems the nightmare has followed him or he has stumbled upon it again. Developers Visceral Games and EA have showcased the game at E3 and it’s a hot title that people who have stuck with the franchise and newcomers are seeming to wanting to get their hands on. A new setting and even grotesquely imaged monsters will be taking Isaac Clarke into a whole new horror for himself and any players daring to take the adventure with him.

Deadspace 3 will be hitting shelves February 13th.dead_space_3_game_2013-HD

DMC: Devil May Cry

Ninja Theory and Capcom join up to revitalise a franchise that has gone back to the players controlling Dante. Except it isn’t the Dante that everyone knows as the cocky, sword and gun wielder with white hair. Now its Dante at a younger and even MORE cockier age in his rise to his glory as Devil Hunter. With new move sets that has him wielding the powers of Angel and Devil, Dante even controls a Scythe as part of his repertoire. With his old favourites Ebony and Ivory accompanying, the old and the new will clash together in this latest instalment of the franchise.

Expect this gamer sooner than expected on January 17th.dmc-devil-may-cry-wallpaper

Gears of War: Judgement

A fourth instalment of the highly praised Gears of War Franchise, Judgement comes in with a new canon and the absence of Marcus Fenix. Players will be controlling Lt. Damon Baird as he and his squad of merry gears soldiers are still fighting in the Locust War, but they have been accused of treason by Colonel Ezra Loomis. Gears of War: Judgement will be coming in with a new story and multiplayer modes. Two new modes for multiplayer is OverRun and Free-For-All. Continuing as its predecessors have done so, the game will strictly stay on the XBOX system and will not multiplatform.

Release month is March, no day has been announced only for North America which is March 19th.2013_gears_of_war_judgment_game-HD

God of War: Ascension

A long running franchise is of course God of War, which chronicles Krato’s and his desire of revenge against the god Ares for tricking him into murdering his own wife and child. Brought to us the consumers as a first party game, God of War has become a franchise widely known only to the Playstation community. This latest instalment will not go multiplatform and stay on the PS3.

Release Date is March 14th.2013_god_of_war_ascension-wide

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA5 will continue the shenanigans of stealing cars and doing jobs for money and meeting shady characters. That much is known about the franchise. But this latest instalment has been eagerly awaiting fans after GTA4 had graced the world in what was a tour de force in open world gaming with its very large city, its very colourful characters, the radio and even the tv programs that stop you from doing the next mission just to get a laugh at the content. Its wide and various and those at Rockstar are promising a lot of new content and new aspects to playing GTA5 with 3 new protagonists, all varying in race, their character stories and how they actually intersect with one another.

GTAV will be hitting the world sometime in the 2nd Quarter of 2013.actual_1351545051
Injustice: Gods Among Us

Can you imagine the world where the superheroes that you know and love fighting it out vie Mortal Kombat style? Well…yes we can and it has been done though this time with more of a brutal backing. NetherRealm Studios, the ones behind the latest gorefest of Mortal Kombat and its franchise, will be bringing the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman and Flash just to name a few into a fight that no one will be expecting. There isn’t a certainty on how the violence level will be, but we are sure from the trailers that this iteration of fighting will have a very dark tone to it. Certainly does not look comical or cheerful as opposed to Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe

No exact day has been announced but this fighter will be here around April, 2013.injustice-gods-among-us-091

Lost Planet 3

You could place this game as a prequel to the first. Apparently set xxxx amount of years before Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, E.D.N.III is still a frozen planet and those that inhabit it are the first colonists. LP3 will follow Jim Peyton who is an engineer mining for precious minerals for the colony. What he discovers will not only threaten the colonists but mankind itself who want to call E.D.N.III a new home will be in jeopardy, and the birth of a new enemy.

There has been no date/month that has been announced, it will be released anytime during 2013.lost_planet_3_wallpaper_hd-HD

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

The Metal Gear Solid Franchise seems to power on. With the impending release of Ground Zeroes that was announced at the Penny Arcade Expo of 2012, fans and the world alike have lit up as to see what this new game will entail. Already since its announcement there is information and videos posted up showing gameplay and that this game will be certainly different in the way its played. Though Snake apparently is back, we can only assume that this is Big Boss, not Solid Snake. In a new turn of gameplay, players will be able to build a motherbase for items, weapons and soldiers and Snake can enter a battlefield and leave by helicopter. Players will also notice that in real time depending where they live, the stage/battlefield will be that time of the day/night. And Kojima, known as the godfather of tactical espionage and creator of the MGS series, states that players will be able to access their motherbase in real-time from their smartphones.
No release date has been announced. Metal-Gear-Solid-Ground-Zeroes-Wallpaper1

The Phantom Pain

There is literally not a lot to say about this title, The Phantom Pain had a trailer that aired at 2012’s Video Game Awards and immediate speculation that the game is associated with Metal Gear Solid. The person that was struggling for survival looked like Big Boss from the Metal Gear Franchise, though the game is being developed by a studio called Moby Dick. The trailer leaves some serious speculation, and though it was a teaser trailer it has left people bewildered, its hard not to grasp that it looks like a new Metal Gear instalment.

No release date announced.Phantom-Pain-Ann

Star Wars: 1313

Powered by the Unreal Engine 3, a new game in the universe of the Star Wars will have players controlling a Bounty Hunter trying to uncover a criminal conspiracy. It has no showing of the force or lightsabers, so players should be expecting a lot of gunplay.
Game has no specific release date, but will be released anytime during 2013. star-wars-1313-hd-wallpaper

Remember Me

A new IP and a new step for Capcom it seems with this game that will have players re-arranging memories to get a desired outcome. Protagonist Nilin (voiced by Kezia Burrows who is known for her work on TV Series Crash) is an amnesiac who is a ‘Memory Hunter’. Set in Neo-Paris in the year 2084, players will be walking into a rather dystopian future that is run by technology and a high state of surveillance. Nilin is on a mission to recover her memories due to her employer erasing them.

Remember Me is slated for a release in May, 2013.remember me

SimCity

Micromanaging for SimCity can be rather fun, and the latest instalment should have that in spades. EA and Maxis will join up to bring in the latest SimCity that will powered by a new engine called GlassBox. SimCity had no story, it’s about expanding the mind to create a working and viable city.

Release date March 18th for PC and MACsimcity-2013-5

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

The fourth instalment in a franchise that is about sneaking around and thieving precious items from places that should not have had them in the first place. But continuing from the 3rd game in the series, Sly must go back into time to recover Thievius Racconus which is a book that has somehow been lost in time. If Sly doesn’t retrieve the book in order to protect the Cooper Legacy. The Sly Cooper Franchise has been strictly Sony and will not go multiplatform for this instalment.

Release Date March 27th.sly-cooper-thieves-in-time-wallpaper-1

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park the series has always been hilarious, and The Stick of Truth will not just be its first game. Though way back on the PSOne, was there a south park game which was a first person shooter. Though there isn’t much information for the plot, the game is classified as a role playing game.

Release Date: March 5th, 2013Stick-of-Truth

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

6 times the chime as Splinter Cell: Blacklist will be hitting video game shelves in 2013. Following the events of Splinter Cell: Conviction, Sam Fisher looks as if he will be back in action leading a new team dubbed as the “Fourth Echelon” a group that takes orders and does missions to only one commander, the President of the United States. As this instalment comes into play, players will be able to take advantage of a new feature. The feature is voice integration with the Kinect, players say something to distract guards and other characters within the game.

Release date: Spring 2013 (not sure which spring…whether its Australia or America, most likely America)splinter_cell___blacklist

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is an expansion pack that is part two of a trilogy that will be released for the games franchise. The story has been confirmed as being two years after the previous expansion of Wings of Liberty. There will be around 20 single player missions and of course multiplayer.

Be on the lookout March 12th for this highly anticipated release.starcraft-2-wallpaper-heart-of-the-swarm-1024x663

Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance

Another Metal Gear? Why yes! And we cannot get enough of it. Revengeance will be seeing players controlling the now half machine/half human Raiden. Apparently set 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots, Raiden has his hands full as he is tasked to take down a Private Military Organization called “Desperado Enterprises”. Published by Konami, developed by Platinum Games and produced by Kojima Productions, Revengeance looks to be a significant next canon title for the MGS franchise though it is considered as a spin-off.

Raiden will be slashing his way to stores very soon, February 22nd, 2013.metal_gear_rising_revengeance-wide

The Elder Scrolls Online

Bethesda Softworks and Zenimax Online Studios brings the next game in the Elder Scrolls franchise. This game has been in development for 5 years And this will be Zenimax Online Studios first big gig. So a lot of expectations for a franchise that has garnered a cult following so to speak. But for all you MMO fans that cannot wait, do not fear! The Release date is slated early 2013, only thing is no specific date has been announced.elder-scrolls-online-hd-page-2

The Last of Us

From the successful Uncharted series, Naughty Dog has come into the world with The Last of Us as a big surprise. When the trailer had first been shown, many players and followers did not know Naughty Dog would spearhead such a game, and the trailer was released shortly after Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception which gave it more wonder and awe. And then when the developer was revealed, it seemed that the general consensus in the gaming community knew that the game was going to be a triple A game and it had just begun development. The Last of Us is considered as an action-adventure game, but also survival horror. With the trailers that are out there, it will be a real test to use items to the best of your ability in such a desolate environment, an environment that looks so good, as weird as that sounds.

The Last of Us will be getting its worldwide release May 7th.1680_1050_20120526121200927846

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft has had some games in her time that have been very good, and some not so good. Her depiction was a double gun wielding chick that raided tombs, or and she had a great big set of knockers. But the latest instalment just called ‘Tomb Raider’ seems to show a different kind of Lara Croft. A younger one at best before her infamous adventures, Lara seems more vulnerable, more in pain and more human. She does not wield 2-toned guns but wields survival instincts, a bow and arrow and a gun that she finds. This game has shown the world a re-invention of this character and it certainly has hit the right ways. The franchise possibly needed a change, and Tomb Raider is on our radars.

Lara will be here March 5th.Tomb raider

Watch Dogs

Quite possibly the biggest shocker of the year. Though when the term use for shock, its just as meant that the game looks stunning and has mechanics that seem so authentic that it relates to the real world. The game, unknown was shown at this years E3 Convention. Though at first misunderstood, but later reaching high applauses for its ingenuity and relation to our world. In the gameplay, players saw Aiden Pierce, not a hero by any stretches as Pierce infiltrates a nightclub by simply letting off am EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) that knocks out cell phones and other electronics, which in the confusion, Pierce slips inside. In the club, he hacks into an employees phone and hears that his target is approaching the club in a matter of minutes. He then meets his contact who gives him a gun, and then proceeds to knock out a bouncer with an extendable baton. As he leaves, he simply goes to his phone to knock out traffic lights at an intersection, covers his face and engages in a gun fight that sees him killing several guards, until he then executes his target, the owner of the club he had just infiltrated. Pierce escapes, but doing one last act of defiance, by jumping off a retractable bridge that he manipulates by his phone to stop police as he escapes…then the camera pans out to see another player watching the escape, but has a name above his head. Showcasing that the game could be played multiplayer as events unfold.

This is an exciting new IP that will be hitting sometime this year, if you can, check the video. It’s quite something.Watchdogs

Rayman Legends

A platforming game that is only released for the Wii U, Rayman Legends looks as if it will be a fast paced action game with plenty to do and a lot to see. Graphics wise players can be very familiar with all its colours and new set pieces for this side scroller. Rayman and his friends stumble upon a tent with lavish paintings, but upon closer inspection they see its painting from some sort of strange mythical world. But as they look further, Rayman and his friends get sucked into the painting, and the adventure begins.

Rayman will be coming in February 28th only for Wii URayman Legends

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