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Super Meat Boy October 20, 2010

Posted by Matthew in XBLA, Xbox 360.
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Thought I might as well post something since I haven’t done so in months. I tried the Super Meat Boy demo today, it plays like N+ but marginally less annoying. Rich from Peoww summed my thoughts up perfectly:

My experience of SMB.

fun.

fun.

fun.

level 4.  never playing it again.

that sort of shit will get old.  multiple stages = fail.  I can see this game getting horrific.

That’s all for this month.

Games Of The Year So Far August 15, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Awards, Feature, Wii, Xbox 360.
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We are more than half way through the year now (I actually meant to post this a month ago) and it’s been a pretty good one for games so far with the Wii in particular having a surprisingly strong line-up. While this will probably be a little different at the end of the year, click below for  a list of my favourite games of the year so far (in no particular order)

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Prototype Review (Xbox 360) July 8, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Review, Xbox 360.
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Prototype

It was great to finally play a “superhero” sandbox game where you didn’t have to worry about being good or bad, Alex Mercer simply has his own agenda and doesn’t care about anything else – as can be seen by the way he comically shoves pedestrians out of the way as he walks by. The Alex you see in the cutscenes is the same Alex you play as, unlike Niko Bellic whose in-game actions were pretty disjointed from what you saw in the cutscenes.

The thing that really sets this apart from other recent sandbox games is Alex’s vast arsenal of superpowers, it succeeds where others (Infamous cough cough) have failed. as if being able to run up buildings wasn’t enough, the abilities you learn in this give you a genuine sense of power. From things like elbow-dropping a tank from the top of a skyscraper to picking up and launching a car at a pursuing helicopter, Prototype does a fantastic job in making you feel like a complete badass. You barely ever feel vulnerable and know that there is a move to get you out of any situation. Hijacking a helicopter in mid-air using your whip attack never gets old. I also loved the Guyver-like armour which limits your movements but it’s worth it, if only because you look like a badass. Also, the ability to absorb people and take their identity provided some brilliant T-1000-esque moments.

It’s obvious some graphical detail has been sacrificed in order to make the city feel more alive, but this was definitely for the better. The streets being filled with civilians and vehicles adds to the mayhem when things kick off. It’s great watching the city slowly decay into an infected mess over the course of the game and randomly come across fights between the infected and the military.

Along with Crackdown, Prototype is one of the best sandbox games I’ve played this generation and it certainly provided the most fun I’ve had from a game this year so far. The sense of power it gives you is phenomenal and the open-ended way in which you can approach most of the missions adds to the enjoyment. I also thought the Web of Intrigue was a very clever idea to help develop the story a bit more. There are plenty of side-missions to keep you occupied, along with orb collecting for added Crackdown-ness.

Badass, in a word.

9/10

E3: The Games I Can’t Wait For… June 10, 2009

Posted by Matthew in E3, Feature, Halo 3, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360.
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E3

…but I’ll have to. Now that it’s over and I’ve had a good amount of time to digest all the information, I thought I’d write some stuff up about it. It was a hell of a lot better than last years underwhelming, down-sized event and was a return to the E3 of old. Rather than boring summaries of each conference, I’ll just talk about the games that I’m most interested in. Click below for the good stuff.

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Damnation Review (Xbox 360) June 1, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Review, shat, Xbox 360.
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Piece of shit

Terrible, in a word. From what I understand, this started off life as some sort of Unreal Tournament mod. It should have stayed that way but you’d be forgiving for thinking it has, given how shoddy this game is. Upon starting it up, you might instantly notice that the menus are pretty much copied straight from Gears of War and the difficulty levels are labeled exactly the same. It gives you the idea of the laziness the game has in store for you.

It’s been touted as a steampunk western, but it’s really nothing of the sort and it’s derivative looks make it seem like any generic Unreal Engine game. A lot has been made of the platforming gameplay and “verticallity” aspect of the levels. While the platforming is decent, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better by Prince of Persia: Sands of Time back in 2003 or, going back further, the original Tomb Raider games. Despite this, the levels are certainly impressive in their sense of scale, and looking down hundreds of feet on areas you have previously traversed gives a good sense of achievement. However, this does all come at a price. The levels are massive and go on for far too long, often leaving you bored to tears by the end of them. The developers have tried to alleviate this by introducing vehicle sections to break up the tedium, but these become boring very quickly and are poorly done.

The combat is pretty dire. The selection of weapons is surprisingly small and pretty much all of them feel very weak and pathetic. The shooting mechanics feel very twitchy and imprecise – it’s often hard to tell if you are hitting the enemies and they seem to take too much punishment before dying. Thankfully this is balanced out by the frankly shit AI. Enemy soldiers will happily stand in front of you doing nothing, inviting as much free hits as you want. Throughout most of the game you are accompanied by friendly AI who are just as rubbish as the enemies. If they do actually bother to help you fight, they couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a bloody cello, let alone a banjo. You are also randomly given some sort of X-Ray vision power which lets you see all the enemies in the area. It is pretty helpful, but it reveals the cheap trick of enemies suddenly teleporting into areas which were previously empty.

Now onto to the bugs and glitches, then. Texture pop-in, flashing textures, floating enemies, enemies spazzing-out after dying, enemies stuck in scenery, weapons vanishing from your inventory etc. I could go on but you get the idea. The game is very unpolished and unfinished. Although I can totally see where they were trying to go and what they were trying to do with the game, it seems like a case of the developer has bitten off more than they can chew, and that the original concept was just too ambitious for them.

Surprisingly, this game has both online co-op and multiplayer deathmatch. I didn’t have the pleasure of trying out the multiplayer, but I’m assuming it’s equally as awful as the singleplayer – that’s if there is actually anyone playing the bloody thing.

To summarise: worst game I’ve played this year, and arguably the worst I’ve played this generation – it gives Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad a run for it’s money. I traded it in as soon as I finished it and I think I even broke my personal record for fastest trade-in ever after buying (previously held by Assassin’s Creed). I’d certainly not recommend wasting money on Damnation, or possibly even renting it unless you have a thing for lemons like this.

3/10

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

Hundred Word Review – The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai April 24, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Review, XBLA, Xbox 360.
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The Pishwasher: Dead Samurai

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now, the visual style caught my interest from the first time I saw it. It basically plays like a 2D version of Devil May Cry, although not as good. While the gameplay and controls are relatively solid, it’s the enemies that ultimattely let it down. They often get stuck in a pattern of repeating the same few moves over and over again, and the fact that they are often pretty cheap doesn’t help. A good game with impressive stylised visuals, but one that can often become an overly frustrating experience.

7/10

Hundred Word Review – Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad March 31, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Review, Xbox 360.
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Bilge

Fucking terrible. The worst game I’ve purchased this generation, and possibly ever. A simple hack-and-slash game where you play as a skimpy bikini-clad samurai woman, her little sister sporting a skimpy school uniform and some police woman with, you’ve guessed it, a skimpy costume. It’s pretty hard for a game containing zombies to be shit, Dead Rising somehow managed it (bleow!) and so does this. It’s a bloody shambles, zombies pose almost no threat at all and the only enemies that do – the bosses – are terrible. It also controls like absolute shit. It’s absolute shit. Buy it and hate it.

2/10

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. Review At Peoww March 30, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Peoww, Review, Xbox 360.
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Top Gun

My review of Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. is now up at Peoww. A thoroughly enjoyable aerial comat game which takes place in the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter universe, complete with standard Tom Clancy plot. The online co-op in particular is a lot of fun.

Peggle XBLA Review At Peoww March 22, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Peoww, Review, XBLA, Xbox 360.
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Peggle

This weeks Peoww update includes my Peggle XBLA review. While the PC version is better (due to the superior mouse controls) this version is still brilliant and addictive as ever. As well as a review of Resident Evil 5 (I’ll be doing my own for here soon) and an interview with the CEO of Reality Pump – developers of the RPG Two Worlds.