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Random Gaming Irritations #228 May 28, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Feature, Gaming Irritations.
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Wii games that still require you to use pointer controls in the menus, despite your chosen method being holding the Wii remote sideways NES-style. I’m looking at you, PUNCH-OUT!!

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inFamous Demo Impression May 18, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Demo, PS3.
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InFamous

A bit of an interesting one, this. A sandbox game that has seen a lot of comparisons to Crackdown. The demo doesn’t give too much of the story away, but you play as a man called Cole caught up in an explosion that tears through the city. He awakes from a coma two weeks later to find that he has gained special powers – the ability to manipulate electricity. Rather generously, the demo gifts you with some of these powers to start with.

The first mission in the demo is to free a group of citizens being held prisoner on a train and requires you to power up and move the train using your newly acquired abilities. You will be periodically stopped along the way and forced to fight and this basically serves as a tutorial. When you switch to combat mode the camera changes to an over-the-shoulder-style perspective in which you can rapidly fire bolts of electricity. Other attacks include an electricity grenade and something similar to the force push from Force Unleashed. The enemies were rather disappointing and amounted to nothing more than generic thugs, although they do put up a fair fight and this is where things start to get annoying. It can often seem like Cole takes far too much damage at times and the enemies have pinpoint accuracy from great distances which becomes very irritating.

After that mission is completed, the demo gives you a taste of the karma system which changes depending on your actions, and also alters your abilities. For example, a plague has spread across the city and if you find an infected citizen you can heal them with your powers for good karma, or sap their energy for negative karma. In the next mission (fixing a contaminated water supply) your karma is automatically set to evil and in doing so, your powers become much more explosive and destructive.

The platform elements, while not as fun or tight as Crackdown, are still pretty decent. It feels a lot more similar to Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia in the way that you scale the buildings. Pretty much every ledge, pole and wall is scalable in some way and used to your advantage during a fight. or another and Grinding on telephone wires and railway tracks is also fun.

I was already planning on getting the game, but this demo has sold me on the game a little more. There were a few negatives I noticed. The framerate can drop quite a bit when there is a lot going on, and the draw distance and amount of jaggies are disappointing. It also doesn’t warn you if you stray too far from your mission area, and instead instantly fails you and restarts from the last checkpoint. Also, there were a few occasions during a mission where, after a cutscene, it started me of in a pre-determined position regardless of where I was before. This resulted in me being showered with bullets and dying on one occasion. However, despite all that I am still looking forward to this. I liked the dark, gritty feeling of the city and the potential for a unique take on the traditional superhero story. Shaping up to be a promising sandbox game, InFamous is out on May 29th.

LostWinds Review May 16, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Review, Wii.
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LostWinds

If it wasn’t for Nintendo taking almost three-and-a-half years for fix the storage problem that shouldn’t have even been there in the first place, I would have bought this at launch. But still, this was the perfect game to launch WiiWare. It’s a platformer who’s structure reminds me of a Metroid game in that you will be returning previously impassable areas using newly aquired skills, although the world map isn’t as expansive as the aforementioned game.

The story of LostWinds is very reminiscent of Okami in that, playing as a young boy called Toku, you must vanquish the land from an evil elemental spirit and return it to normal. You will be accompanied Enrill, the wind spirit, and this is where the control method comes in. You control Toku with the nunchuck and Enrill with the Wii remote. Using the remote, you can “draw” paths to control the direction of the wind, which in turn allows Toku to do things such as jumping higher by drawing a line upwards, or slowing down a fall by waving it from side-to-side below him. As you progress through the game you will gain new upgrades such as the ability to draw a specific path for the wind to blow, and a cape for  Toku allowing him to glide upwards.

There are plenty of puzzles throughout the game in which you have to use all of your powers to your advantage and can basically be split into three catagories. Lighting torches by using the wind to create a path of flames, moving boulders to press switches, and planting seeds then blowing water over them to grow to create a plant that acts as a cannon. These puzzles aren’t exactly taxing, but most are rather clever and add to the game’s overall quality.

Graphically, this isn’t just one of the best looking games on WiiWare, but on the Wii full stop. With vibrant colours, beautiful backgrounds and unique character design, these all help to give the game it’s own personality. Overall, the presentation is fantastic and, to the untrained eye, this could quite easily be mistaken for a full retail release.

My only gripe with the game is probably its length. It takes around three or four hours to complete, but for 1000 Wii Points it’s certainly worth the quality. Lost Winds is without a doubt one of the best games available on WiiWare, and probably ranks amongst the best downloadable games I’ve played on any system. The intuitive use of the Wii remote is something that will hopefully influence other developers, and it will be interesting to see how they improve on this in the inevitable sequel.

9/10

Muscle March May 16, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Stuff, Vids, Wii.
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What the hell?

It’s a WiiWare game and it looks absolutely bizzare. It basically looks like you have to make your muscled man strike the correct pose to fit through the shape in the wall left by the the guy in front.

Bonkers.

Monster Hunter 3 May 15, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Vids, Wii.
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Monster Hunter 3

I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before. Aside from briefly reading impressions on a few message boards, I don’t know much about the series. Having said that, I am eagerly anticipating the third in the series and hopefully it will get a western release in PAL land. I’m no stranger to grinding or looting (thanks to World of Warcraft) and the online co-op play sounds interesting. It looks like it’s shaping up to be one of the best looking Wii games yet, as can be seen in the latest trailer below, the volcano are in particular looks fantastic. Looking forward to hopefully seeing more of it at E3.

Earthworm Jim, Or Why Nostalgia Can Be A Bad Thing May 14, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Feature, Rant, Retro, Wii.
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What happened here then? Back in the day I used to love this game on the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis, for the Yanks) and it was probably one of my post-played games on the system. I was attracted to it by it’s unique, cartoony visuals which stood out at the time. The character designs were great and I enjoyed the slapstick humour – things like whipping a crow with your body resulting in an explosion of feathers and a beak always raised a smile. Earthworm Jim 1The platforming aspects were decent and overall the gameplay was fun.

Fast-forward fifteen years or so and I have 800 spare Wii points on the Shopping Shopping channel. while browsing through the available Mega Drive games I came across Earthworm Jim and decided to buy it, remembering how much I had enjoyed it previously all those years ago. A few minutes later and I find it to be a very frustrating experience. The movement and controls in general felt clunky and awkward. The enemies annoying and cheap, the first boss in particular was a right pain in the ass and just seemed to soak up the damage I was doing to him. The visuals and sound effects (especially the whipping noise) were still as good as I remembered, but on the whole, it wasn’t the brilliant platformer I loved back in the day.

Of course back when I first played it I was a hell of a lot more forgiving for all the negatives previously mentioned, and very naive. Earthworm Jim 2Looking back on the game, and from what I’ve got after playing it again, it’s just an average platformer living off it’s impressive visuals and quirky characters. I wonder how well received a similar game would be today on  XBLA or WiiWare, for example. Would people be as forgiving now as they were back then? Surely not. I also played the sequel on the Mega Drive but my memory of that is rather hazy, all I remember was a section where you became a blind cave salamander for some reason or other. Incidentally my experience with this game on the Virtual Console has probably put me off of buying the sequel when it is inevitably released. Also, it’s worth adding that the Earthworm Jim cartoon was fantastic. Pokemon aside (that was in a league of its own, obviously) this was probably the most faithful game-to-cartoon adaptation I ever watched, the theme tune was great.

Fallout 3 DLC May 12, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Fallout 3, Review, Xbox 360.
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I previously reviewed the first piece of DLC, Operation Anchorage, here. I did mean to review The Pitt when I finished it but I forgot, so here is a double whammy of that and the newest one – Broken Steel.

The Pitt

The Pitt

That screenshot says it all, really. Much like Operation Anchorage before it, The Pitt offers a nice change in scenery. This time it’s a smoggy, industrial Pittsburgh ruled by raiders and slavers. You are tasked with infiltrating the settlement and ultimately finding a cure for the disease which has ravaged the area. The settlement consists of a few areas with the most notable being the steelyard and train yard, both overrun by “trogs” who are basically savage mutated humans who run on all fours and are victims to the aforementioned virus. There is also a pit fighting competition which you must enter in order to join the ranks or the slavers and progress in the mission. You must survive multiple fights much like the colosseum thing in Fable 2 but on a much smaller scale, and you earn a few handy perks with it. There are also new weapons (and an achievement) available in exchange for collecting up to one hundred steel ingots – I couldn’t be arsed with this as I generally can’t stand. collect-a-thon quests in any shape or form.

By far my favourite part of this DLC was the new “auto axe” weapon, basically a circular saw made from car parts, which cuts through trogs in seconds. Despite the initial problems, I enjoyed The Pitt more than Operation Anchorage and it seemed to last me a lot longer too, clocking in at around five or six hours. Unlike the previous DLC, this felt more what made the main game so great, the side quests and interesting locations rather than trying to be more FPS-focused, which I’ll get onto next…

8/10

And now on to the disappointment.

Broken Steel

Broken Steel

This was meant to be the big one. Increasing the level cap from twenty to thirty and adding in a bunch of new perks, some of which are pretty decent e.g. faster action points regeneration while others, such as a well rested bonus in any bed, are a bit unimaginative. It also allows the game to continue on after the end, which curiously wasn’t possible to begin with. You join the ranks of the Brotherhood of Steel in an attempt o wipe out the Enclave. After a failed assault which results in an aerial missile strike destroying Liberty Prime (the big robot), the Brotherhood regroup and form another plan. Unfortunately this is when I started to get annoyed with the DLC, mostly due to the large numbers of enemies you have do deal with who have both a high amount of health points and deal a lot of damage, particularly the numerous sentry bots, death claws and feral ghoul reavers you come across. It just becomes tedious and it’s almost as if the game is trying to descend itself into some sort of mediocre FPS. When the action leaves the Capital Wasteland and moves onto an air base it just becomes more tedious which is a shame, really.

Given how much I enjoyed The Pitt, I had high hopes for this but was left disappointed. One of the few plus points is that unlike the previes two DLCs, this doesn’t have any collect-a-thon quests or achievements. That is one of the few plus points though. It doesn’t really introduce anything new that you haven’t seen in the main game eg. the scenery, everything in this feels the same as the wasteland whereas the prior DLC was the complete opposite. Also, he new weapon, the telsa cannon, feels slightly underwhelming given the amount of effort you have to go through to get it. While it had potential to be the most promising of the three pieces of DLC, Broken Steel ultimately becomes a tedious and disappointing experience.

6/10

RE: All The Ed Zitron/Eurogamer Review Of Darkfall Nonsense May 12, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Rant, Stuff.
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Pile of shit

The Best Promo Video I’ve Seen In A While May 11, 2009

Posted by Matthew in News, Vids, Wii.
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Amazing. The best bit in particular being the classic bike scene. Nintendo certainly aren’t messing about with the advertising for the upcoming new Punch-Out!! game, if they don’t use this as commercial rather than just a promotional video then they are insane. From now on they should just scrap their usual ads with idiots flailing around on sofas, and instead replace them with actors from The Wire. Only two weeks to go.

Mother 3 Handbook May 7, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Collectables, GBA, Stuff.
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Has a game series ever seen such a dedicated fan-base? As if a Mother 3 fan translation wasn’t enough, there is also a fan-made guide. Initial preorders came with a free keyring gift but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough for that. Handbook I can’t remember how much it cost exactly, but it was around £20 including international delivery and took just over a week to get here from America.  The print quality is excellent and the book is presented as a travel guide. It’s filled with full colour illustrations and fan art, as well as photo’s of models of the game’s characters and enemies specifically made just for this book. The cover sleeve actually doubles as a poster showing off most of these models. Another nice touch is the personalised receipt which is a hand-drawn scene from the game. All in all it’s an extremely well put-together guide that puts most official efforts to shame. The actual game ain’t half bad either. I’ve gone all trendy and created a Flickr account and you can see a few more pictures of this lovely book here.