01
Oct
09

Band Hero! Are You Ready To Pop….

As your music correspondent it is my duty to bring you all of the news from this genre, so it is my solemn duty to inform you that yes, ‘Band hero’ is officially on the way.

Now being a rock goddess through and through, I am obviously programmed to despise the idea of band hero. However before I weigh everyone down in my own personal opinions here are some facts.

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Band hero will work similarly to guitar hero 5 with a similar theme of band gameplay, however instead of focusing around the guitar as the key instrument Neversoft claim that this title will be designed with all four instruments in mind. They are also aiming to incorporate more mainstream acts such as Taylor swift,  Lily Allen and the Jackson 5 to make the game more enjoyable for the whole family. For some time now the Gh series has chosen to incorporate guest stars to add to the atmosphere of the games and this game follows suit. So far confirmed guest stars include Taylor Swift and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) with several others still awaiting conormation. The game will have the same multiplayer options as GH5, with the added bonus of being able to change difficulties drop out and even swap instruments at any time during a song. From what I can make out with its mainstream hits and ease of use this game is geared entirely towards party play, which is not for me, but not necessarily a bad thing for everyone. Now, just for you, because I love you all, here is a sneaky look at the confirmed songs so far…..Cries into beloved plastic guitar…

  • The All-American Rejects -Dirty Little Secret
  • Jackson 5 – ABC
  • Don McLean – American Pie
  • KT Tunstall – Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
  • Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  • No Doubt – Just a Girl
  • David Bowie – Let’s Dance
  • Taylor Swift – Love Story
  • Taylor Swift – Picture to Burn
  • Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me
  • Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Going Down
  • Fall Out Boy – Thanks for the Memories
  • Lily Allen – Take What You Take
  • Nelly Furtado – Turn Off the Light

And now for my real opinion, my own personal rant if you will. Is it just me or does the above set-list seem more like something out of sing-star than a true GH title? I mean in my opinion the pervious GH games are very accommodating to all instruments, especially the more recent titles, and so why they had to release something like this under the same name truly baffles me. I know they are trying to cater for more mainstream tastes, but in doing so they have lost a great deal of what guitar hero was really about, the tacky, heavy metal, rock god simulating experience. If they were going to release something like this I don’t know why they didn’t distance it from the Gh series all together, even the name ‘Band hero’ doesn’t sound right, so why force it. I would say that this game seems more accommodating to female singers (any girl who has tries in vain to battle through the GH World tour vocalists career will know what I mean) However personally if I want to sing I play sing-star so to me this is not a great selling point. Also, personally I wouldn’t call Taylor swift a ‘Band Hero’. I accept that she is in vogue at the moment, but she hasn’t been around long enough to truly be considered a pop legend therefore to have three tracks and a guest star appearance in this game is quite frankly overkill.

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All in all I don’t think I would dislike his game so much if it wasn’t so strongly affiliated with the Gh series, perhaps if it wasn’t called ‘Band Hero’ I would have a better personal opinion of it. Still, as much as other may love this game I will say that I don’t think I will be becoming a Band Hero myself anytime soon. After all, Gh5 has a set list with some mainstream hits and a big dose of rock as well, and after a thorough play through I can truly say this is my favorite release of 2009. I will try and update you all when I have a chance to play this game, but until then my suggestion is to buy Gh5….and enjoy it.

GuitarGirl24

01
Oct
09

Crackdown 2 Will It Have A Niche Or Be A Full Blown Classic?

For me sandbox games can be big either hits or misses. The GTA series has always been a big hit for me, and possibly the rest of the living, breathing gaming world. True Crime? Was a miss, tried to do what GTA did but take it down some what, which led to clunky game play and just genral rubbish.

Now Crackdown was a game I happened to come across for about 7 quid in my local Gamestation, pre owned. I thought what the hell and gave it a whirl. The idea of super human cops in a sandbox enviroment shooting up the place was awesome, and to my surprise it was executed well. I was quite impressed with the games lack of story line, lets kill things till the game ends. It does make me want to go back for more, and I am still not sure to this day how Real Time worlds managed to pull it off.

With the surprise success of Crackdown (and not because it was just a get out of jail free card for the Halo 3 Beta) Crackdown 2 is on he horizon. So what is this next installment going to offer us sandbox addicts? Lets find out.

Here is a bit of background for you. Crackdown 2 is not made by RealTime Worlds. It is in fact being made by a company called Ruffian Games. Why? Well some guys from RealTime decided to go rogue and have now created their own company, taking Crackdown with them. nice.

Carrying on from Crackdown 1, it seems the city you once cleared of criminals now has something of a new threat. A viral out break that has sent people zombie crazy (This storyline in games never gets old) So the city has gone through some what of a metamorphosis, places have been cordoned off because of riots (weather that will effect the police I have no clue) there will be a lot more derelict and destroyed ares of the city, new building will have appeared, and some familiar sites you knew from crackdown 1 will be there. So it will still be Pacific City, it will have just changed.

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So how did all this polarva happen? Well on of the shi-gen factories on the first game which you happened to blow up housed this viral disease. So yeah its all your fault. Well done! So the agency was driven back by the outbreak and now you only have control of the Uber tower in the center of the city. A new group known as the Cell now control the city, they are a group that is described as “one that exists on the fringes, piecing together rubble into safe houses while fighting back at the maniacs.” It sounds to me like this story has more of…well a story. So I am pretty excited.

After doing some more reasearch I have found out yet again that this game is about cleansing the city and restoring it. But and this is a big. BUT. The repetition from the last game will be less prevalent, Ruffian Games told game informer a while back that “Your influence in the world has effects across the rest of the city.” Meaning there will be more mission based scenarios. I also found out that the infected humans are not huge fans of bright light, meaning some missions will be set underground to tackle the viral outbreak. But the one thing that really made me smile is that when night falls, the freaks come out, meaning that your in for one hell of a joy ride battling these things above ground at night….Awesome.

The skills are back, I mean it wouldn’t be Crackdown if you couldn’t level up your super soldier. But this time they have been revamped and changed some what, with each skill you will acquire new abilities such as agility will unlock you a dash move, and driving will unlock a nice agency helicopter. Not much has been said about the other abilities, but looking round I hope there is a great fighting move to be unlocked, as the Cell and the infected have been said to be pretty danm difficult to slaughter, especially the higher level infected which I quote “The top level freaks are almost on par with the player-controlled agent.”

crackdown2_2

As with all new games such as this your are going to get a host of new weapons, my particular favorites are the ‘mag’ grenades which are magnetised so expect to stick them to vehicles and the like for some explosive fun, and the UV shot gun which shoots light at the infected. Sounds damn cool.

The game will host 4 player Co op and multi player, so you and three of your mates can take on the new hell hole that is Pacific City together.

This is all sounding great to me, cannot wait till its release, Might go off and play some more Crackdown 1 now.

30
Sep
09

Gran Turismo PSP. Will it be a compliment to the franchise?

Gran Turismo…now there’s a game I haven’t played in a long time.  The last time I had the joy of playing it was back in 2002 round my next door neighbour’s. It wasn’t my first racing game (Mario kart 64, a game that will live in infamy!) but it was the first one that really grabbed my attention and said “Look at me; I’m a beautiful sexy racing game! Play me big boy…you know you want to…” which is to say I wanted it bad. But, being the poor kid that I was, getting a copy for myself was off the cards. Now as a student…things haven’t changed so much. But! Now I get to look forward to its next incarnation: Gran Turismo PSP.

gtpsp1

Now, the poor lads over at Polyphony Digital have been working hard to get GT’s next incarnation working well. After GT4 was released way back in 2005, there were problems with actually getting the damn thing to play, even if you had the shiny new slimline PS2. So, nearly 5 years on, several new and sexy cars later, what does the next instalment of the franchise have to offer the petrol heads and the Morris minors?

On first impressions it looks like…well…a PSP racer. Of course, there’s only so much you can do with the graphical capability of this little hand held. I think if this had been released a few years earlier it wouldn’t look as solid as it does, especially with the number of cars on the road. So, with that taken into account, the visuals are very good, only taking a slight downgrade from GT2. So I think Polyphony Digital have done a good job that front.

gtpsp2

Perhaps the most interesting and potentially enjoyable feature on offer is the Ad-hoc multiplayer races.  With up to four players this could be an excellent uses of the PSP’s networking capability for gaming on the go. The pop in, pop out, race game play is something I can see myself getting into. Like many PSP titles the game looks to be the sort that is enjoyed in brief bursts rather than prolonged game play. But wait! Dredging up some memories from my past reminds me of the fun that was had racing a geared up mini. So surely this next incarnation of GT will have plenty of things to tinker with and tune up, right?

Well…no, not really. It seems that particular part of the classic GT games has been left out of its PSP incarnation…oh dear, so no nitro powered mini. But! We do have the largest number of vehicles in a GT game, 800 to be precise. From your average banger to the beautiful Bugatti, you’d be hard pressed not to be impressed with the sheer number of cars for you to put round the track.

So no modifications, but more cars than you can shake a gear stick at. A mixed bag so far, but what else can we look forward to? Well, you have a standard 45 tracks for you to get stuck into, a decent number for you to try your multitude of cars and mates mettle on.  The staple time trial, single race and drift race are there but no career mode for some reason. I have to say, reading up on this has given me more than a few reservations about this title. But, all in all, it looks to be a very competent game, but not one which is going to grab casual or hardcore gamers by the scruff of the neck and make them play it.

– That Bloke In The Beanie

29
Sep
09

It’s Offical. Super Street Fighter IV, Coming Spring 2010!

Having a look round Capcom-unity.com just now and I stumbled across Some awesome news. You may remeber me posting on facebook and twitter about the rumour of Super Street Fighter IV? Well it’s all true 😀

So what new stuff will we be expecting from this game revamp? Yes its gonna be sold as a seperate disc in shops, but it will come with a nice surprise for any ofyou SFIV owners out there. interestin. It will also have a full roster of twenty five characters. Meaning that you will get a massive 8 new characters to play with. You will get to choose from fan classics such as T-Hawk, and brand new street fighter characters such as themysterious Juri.

ssfiv1

This game also includes, new ultra finishes, an enhanced online battle system and refined Street Fighter IV features.

This is set to be one hell of a title. Can not wait to its release, kinda makes me wanna go play more original Street Fighter IV. Stay tuned for more info as we hear it.

Garv

29
Sep
09

Metroid: The Past

Most people have more than likely heard the name Metroid at some point – being one of Nintendo’s longer running series’, although perhaps not as successful as their other major titles, such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda. However, Metroid was possibly one of the most influential titles of it’s time, introducing a more free roaming, more mature style of platformer. It also introduced one of the world’s first gaming heroines – Samus Aran, a well respected bounty hunter that stormed the gaming world a full decade before Lara Croft appeared on the Playstation in 1996. As the first of a three part look at the series, today I will tell you a little about the roots of Metroid.

nes_metroid_title

The original Metroid was released on the NES in 1986, the same year as the first Zelda title. As well as the platforming and open world style common to Metroid, many other aspects of the title were introduced in the very first title, and carried on to the later games – concepts such as upgrades that improved Samus’ power as she progressed, but also allowed access to new areas in order to give the open world some restrictions and would guide the player around in a certain way without feeling linear or restrictive.

The original title also introduced enemies and bosses that remain consistent throughout the series, namely the Space Pirates, an alien band of miscreants, and their Commander, the dragon-like Ridley. Last but not least, the original of course introduced the series’ first Metroids – the most dangerous beings of them all. Somewhere between a jellyfish, a brain and a leech, the Metroid is a rather disturbing creature – hovering emotionlessly, the Metroid wants nothing more than to drain the life of it’s victim, has a nasty habit of multiplying, and is incredibly hard to kill.

a metroid

Metroid’s story, and its quality, has improved in stages over the years. Five years after Metroid came Metroid II: Return of Samus. Released on the Nintendo Game Boy, Metroid II was the first handheld title of the series, and was one of the most impressive handheld titles of it’s time – sporting graphics superior to the original home console version, and fluid controls, Metroid II found Samus hunting Metroids on a lonely planet called SR388.

Metroid2_boxart

 This title was the first Metroid I ever played, and was what got me into Metroid in the first place. Metroid II kept most of the major functions from the original, and also introduced some new weapons, however it is one of the few games to focus solely on Metroids as bosses, in various evolutionary phases, as no Space Pirates or other aliens are involved. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it only helped enhance the cavernous feel to the empty depths of SR388.

In 1994, Metroid reached a new level with the coming of Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo. This title was the first to feature full colour graphics and improved on every aspect of the game – particularly the plot. Although the game continued to feel vast and open, Super Metroid saw the return of Ridley, and introduced perhaps one of the most useful features of all, a map. Whereas the older titles could feel confusing and hard to navigate, Super Metroid included a map that could be viewed on the fly, detailing not only the layout of the area, but save rooms and other places of interest. This feature would be implemented into all future titles, and was even mirrored in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night three years later, which was the first to implement a more Metroid style of gameplay and progression that would create the term “Metroidvania” which can be heard nowadays.

Super-Metroid-3

Sadly, Super Metroid wasn’t really appreciated fully at the time of it’s initial release. Although considered one of Nintendo’s biggest classic titles, the initial trilogy sold fairly poorly and production was cancelled.

However, all that changed in 2002. Alongside the new GameCube title, Metroid Prime (more about this in my next post), the team that developed Super Metroid released an all new 2D Metroid for the Gameboy Advance. Entitled Metroid Fusion, the fourth Metroid title pitted Samus against a new threat, a parasitic lifeform known as X. After coming into contact with the viral lifeform, Samus becomes surgically bound to some of the core components of her Power Suit, creating the Fusion Suit.

metroid-fusion-gba_1110280

Fighting against both Metroids and this new threat, hunted by a powerful doppelganger known as SA-X, Metroid Fusion yet again improved upon the game’s design in almost every way. Fusion did incredibly well, being named Handheld Game of the Year at the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards, and recieving high praise from many gaming sites, and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. This success saw the rebirth of the series and Metroid continued to develop.

In 2004, Nintendo released Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the original Metroid on the GBA with graphics that perhaps surpassed even that of Metroid Fusion, and incorporating features and abilities from the more recent titles, such as saving capability and a selection of different abilities such as crouching, hanging, speed-boost running and much more.

Metroid_and_Metroid_Zero_Mission

They also expanded upon the game’s original plot, and even added an entirely new area to the game, including a section which, for the first time ever, allows you to play as Samus without her Power Suit for a more stealth-based chapter, dubbed “Zero Suit Samus” by Super Smash Bros Brawl, which incorporated this ‘naked’ version of the heroine as an alternate mode for her in the fighter series, which also turned a few heads in the process.  

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And thats as far as the 2D saga of Metroid has come to this date – I personally hope to see at least one more 2D Metroid in the future. But that’s not to say that Metroid ends there, oh no – the present has seen a change in Metroid’s style…

Stay tuned for Metroid: The Present, in the second of this three-part look at the series!

-Leon

28
Sep
09

Tokyo Game Show 2009: The News So Far.

One day I would love to go to Japan. Take in te sites, culture and general Japan life. Thats probably a long way off yet, but latest news from Japan is, the Tokyo Game Show is in full swing and brining us some information. So without further a-do, what are the big announcements so far?

Microsoft announces Project Natal Developers:

At TGS this year Microsoft announced the developers that are going to be making some games for the Xbox 360 hands free kit, the developers are as follows:

Activision Blizzard
Bethesda Softworks
CAPCOM
Disney Interactive
Electronic Arts
Konami
MTV Games
Namco Bandai
Sega
Square Enix
THQ Inc.
Ubisoft

Hmmm this could be interesting. Will we see a hands free Metal gear, Rockband, Final Fantasy, Guitar Hero or resident evil? We all know about the PS3 motion controller working with the revised edition of Resident Evil 5. So is Natal going to get he same treatment? Keep your eyes peeled.

Splinter Cell Conviction Gets A Release Date:

All you american gamers out there mark your calendars and get your gaming diaries out, as the new splinter cell is planning to hit US retailers February 23rd. As for UK and EU? well lets jus hope its at least a week after!

Microsoft Ups The Size Of XBLA Games.

Back when the arcade first came out for XBox LIVE there was only a 50 Meg cap on live arcade games that could be sold. That soon changed to 150 Meg as the arcade got more popular. But with recent arcade games such as Shadow Complex and the stand along Command $ Conquer expansion. It has been announced that the XBox LIVE Arcade game size cap is now a whopping 2GB. Might have to get that limited edition 250GB console after all.

PlayStation 3 Motion controller release date confirmed.

Leon is gonna love this! Spring 2010 is when all you PS3 gamers out there ill be able to get your hands on the PlayStation 3 Motion bundle, including Motion wand and PS3 eye camera. Yay for bloody motion controls!

For news stories thats about it. This week I will b giving you highlights fro TGS, with info on Crackdown 2, Dead Rising 2 and Ninety Nine Nights 2 (all the 2’s basically). So check back here for those articles and keep gaming!

Gav!

27
Sep
09

WET Review (X360)

3rd person action games over the years have been pretty hit or miss. A good couple of hits have been, Max  Payne, God Of War and Devil May Cry. Does WET fall in to that category?

hmm.

wet1

You play as a hired gun called Rubi Malone. You are a ruthless, brutal and very skilled woman who loves to get the job done in style. At first you are hired by a Londoner called Trevor Ackers to collect a heart from the black market in order to save Trevor’s dieing father. Someone gets to the deal before you and it’s your job to get back what is rightfully yours/Trevor’s. After a couple of levels you get it back, save Trevor’s dad then skip forward three years.

You are then approached by a guy who claims to be Trevor’s dad three years later. You’re then hired to collect Trevor and bring him to his father. Over a couple more mission you do so and the guy murders Trevor which is a bit weird. You then find out that he isn’t the guy who he said he was and all hell breaks loose. Not a bad story really, simple but effective, I found myself getting a little into it at some points, but it was kind of predictable once it got rolling.

What really swung this game for me when I played the demo was the game play. A lot of people have compared the gameplay to John Woo’s Stranglehold. I haven’t played Stranglehold so I dived into the game relatively fresh-faced. If you didn’t catch up on my demo review, here is the low down. You are armed with a sword and fire arms for combat, you also have abilities such as wall run, slide and jump. If you do these moves coupled with the firing of your weapons you will go into a slow mo mode, kind of reminiscent of Max Payne’s bullet time, where you can aim at you enemies. What I really love about this style of combat system is you could link moves together. For example you can wall run, jump then slide while you were gunning thugs down, and the beauty of this is the gunning in slow motion has a total 360 degree view so you you could shoot pretty much anywhere. The icing on the cake here is you can aim one gun at one enemy and your other gun at another, making for some pretty sweet shooting action.

On top of that you have your sword attacks, they are a nice addition but not exactly Devil May cry. You have the ability to link sword attacks after slides etc for some good chain kills, but for me the sword fighting could have been a little more in-depth.

Depending on how stylishly you kill your enemies you are given style points, which at the end of every level you can upgrade  Rubi’s abilities and weapons. What I though was a bit rubbish about this upgrade system is that some of the moves that you had the opportunity of unlocking were pretty mandatory moves, these should have been there right at your disposal, right from the start, like dodge roll for example, or mid air sword attacks. They could have done so much better with the upgrade system if they gave Rubi the fundamentals at the start then thought of more impressive/inventive moves to unlock.

The level design at the start of the game was pretty good I got pretty into it all. The Levels consist of killing enemies and basic Tomb Raider esqu platforming/scaling of enviroment. There is also some interesting sections where you were put into an open area with enemy spawn door, the idea here is to shut down all the spawn doors and kill all the enemies, again simple but effective. Then there was the rage sections of the level, each of these section started off with Rubi gunning a guy down, getting blood on her face which then triggered off her rage mode. The whole screen would turn black and red, kinda reminiscent of reservoir dogs, and you would play the level in this mode getting scored on kills alone. All these sections sound good in writing, but as your progress through the game, they kind of got predictable and tedious, which is a shame. The game tried to steer away from repetitiveness with levels here you would be riding on top of cars gunning people down, there is also a level where a plane has been blown up and you gunning thugs down while you free-falling through the air. A nice touch but it wasn’t enough to steer away from the repetitiveness of the later levels. They even tried to throw in some Quick time events, but I tell you this now, not trying to spoil the game for anyone here but the use of Quick Time Events in his game are over used and really, really should not be used in some places.

After completing the game you have the opportunity to do challenges, these challenges come in two flavours. Rubi’s boneyard challenges, which consist of speed trials where you have to run and scale the enviroment, while going into slow mo to take out targets, which in turn take seconds off your time. And there is the point challenges, where you pick any level and score the most point possible. Some pretty cool gameplay to keep the game going after you have completed the story.

Visually the game had really good potential, the game was going down the whole ‘as if the game were a film’ route, with screen scratches (which thankfully could be turned off), breaks every now and then which consisted of 70’s american style cinema adverts, and the overall feel of the game was very Quintin Tarrentino/Guy Ritchie. Grimey, dirty street crime with no good manners at all. Kind of like a drunken hobo in that sence. Which would have been great if done properly, instead it felt like a half assed attempt, more work could have gone into it. What I really did notice though was the amount of screen tearing and glitches the game had, there was even one point where the game went out of focus for me. Not good.

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What I really did like about this game was its soundtrack, the songs from the game fit in really well with the whole theme, and there is one from the very beginning of the game that still gets stuck in my head. The voice acting is well done, With Eliza Dushku (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling and Doll House) taking the roll of Rubi, she does a great job of voice acting the part but sadly her death cries are pretty rubbish. There are some other famous voices such as Malcolm McDowell (Heros, Doomsday), who plays the voice of the main bad guy, Rupert Pelham.

WET tries to be such a good game, there is apart of me that still wants to really like it, so I might go back for a second helping sometime, but all in all the repetitiveness of the levels, the glitches in the graphics and the overuse of Quick Time Events back this game fall into the Mediocre pile. This game is More…moist, and believe me, thats not in the good way either.