Thursday, 3 December 2009

Gaming Reviews

Assassin’s Creed II
Ubisoft
(PC, PS3 (Version Tested), Xbox 360)

Available Now - £49.99 (360, PS3) and £34.99 (PC)
Review by Blake Harmer

The first Assassin’s Creed was a great game let down by repetitiveness and a "WTF-Lost" style ending so annoying that it almost put me off playing Assassin’s Creed II. Mainly because I like games that have closure and reward you for finishing the game rather than just saying “Thanks for playing, but buy the second game if you want an ending”. However, I’m glad I did play Assassin’s Creed II as it practically redeems pretty much all of the shortcomings that was made by the first game.

The game carries on events of the first game and has Daniel escape his prison and work with the modern day Assassins who hook him up to an updated animus to unlock his full potential, which he is learning through Ezio, a past incarnation of Daniel in Renaissance day Italy. Ezio’s tale is a story of vengeance against the Templars, who are also responsible for the wrongful execution of a large percentage of his family.

The game plays similarly to the first game but has been improved in every single way. The missions have more variety, you can now stealth kill (read "shank") two people at a time and dispatch foes in a variety of ways. The inclusion of money is one of the games strongest new features as it allows the purchase of armour, new threads, and weapons, including small weapons and gadgets such as smoke bombs, daggers and poisoned blades. You can also invest money into your property (the central hub for the game) and the shops around it to give yourself a regular income and discounts in the shops.

However, what stops this game getting a perfect score lies in some of the lack of changes. The Free Running, which is still great, still has problems where you sometimes cannot judge a jump in time due to the automated jumping and catching and can result in you making an incorrect leap and having you fall and taking damage, such as your ankles sticking out of your knees. Combat, whilst it is still as brutally awesome as it’s always been, still has some lock on problems and has been generally surpassed by Batman: Arkham Asylum in terms of taking on multiple opponents.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics:
Truly beautiful, with the landscapes still being as breathtakingly impressive as it was in the first game.
Sound/Music: Similar crowd noises and Animus sound effects to the first game. No marked improvement upon the original, the sound was spot on to begin with.
Gameplay: Assassin's Creed II retains all the strengths of the first game and fixes the major flaws, which was making the game less repetitive. It is also Shanktastic from start to finish.
Lasting Appeal: A long story mode and lots to collect but once the main story is completed there’s very little replay value.
Summary: Assassin's Creed II is what Assassin's Creed I should’ve been, lots of variety, including the addition of money has made the overall experience bigger and better in every way. It is only the few gripes with the lack of improvements to the minor flaws in the original game that stops this being one of the all time greatest games ever made. Still a fantastic game and a near essential purchase. 9/10
They planned a Vegas bachelor party that they would never forget. Now they really need to remember what exactly went down! A baby? A tiger? Why is one of them missing a tooth? And most of all, where is the groom?! What the guys did while partying can't compare to what they must do sober in an outrageous caper that has them piecing together all their bad decisions from the night before-- one hazy clue at a time.

Thanks to our friends at Warner Home Video, we've got three copies of The Hangover on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to thehangovergiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Thursday 10th December (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a copy of this awesome movie!

The Hangover is available on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download December 7th.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Wii
Rising Star Games

Available Now - £29.99
Review by Blake Harmer

Whilst I am a firm believer that games need to progress and evolve towards the perfect gaming experience, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Muramasa’s retro charms. For those who haven’t heard of it, the game is a 2D scrolling action RPG, with the fights feeling like a fast-ninja-like Streets of Rage.

The game’s main strengths lie in its combat. The game has a simple yet effective combat system that uses a large variety of moves, but yet is very challenging to master if you are going to defeat the later monsters. I also liked the RPG elements such as forging new weapons and cooking food to create new items that increase your health. I also thought the artwork that has gone into the 2D characters and backgrounds was truly beautiful.

However, the downsides to the game is its ludicrous difficulty setting with some uneven spikes taking you by surprise due to random monsters. That, and the boss battles really put your skills to the test. It took me about 4 attempts to get past the first boss, and I’ve been gaming for most of my life. Another annoyance was the cut-scenes, which, whilst very pretty, become overly repetitive when you are cooking food or forging weapons and in the end feel like they are getting in the way when you’ve watched it for the 500th time.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics:
Nice colourful 2D graphics, but nothing we haven’t seen before from the Neo Geo or 90’s arcade machines. There aren’t many prettier 2D games than this.
Sound/Music: Rural Japanese style soundtrack and lots of sword slashing noises. Nothing really special though.
Gameplay: A surprisingly in-depth scrolling brawler with extra RPG elements to keep things interesting.
Lasting Appeal: A long story mode with two unique characters to play as, and loads of items to collect will keep you playing for days if you find yourself gripped by Muramasa’s charms. However, if RPG hoarding and side scrolling beat-em-ups is not your bag this will probably only hold your interest for an evening.
Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable game filled with retro charm whilst keeping the action and exploration constantly exciting to hold up against modern day blockbuster games. If it wasn’t for the fact the game kept the retro difficulty and had annoying cut-scenes this would have been the highly recommended cult game for the year. 7/10

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