Thursday 8 July 2010

Gaming Reviews

Rock Band: Green Day
EA Games/Harmonix
Available Now - £34.99 (Wii) & £49.99 (Xbox 360 – Version Tested, PS3)
Review by Rob Wade

Fans looking for a point-and-click adventure game about a paper animal named Ogopopo with a magic hoover that saves the world from rain would be better off looking elsewhere. Surprisingly, Rock Band: Green Day is a multiplayer music rhythm game, playing over 40 songs by Green Day in the same way that you’ve been playing Rock Band for the past couple of years. It’s compatible with all the instruments, and in the same way as its Beatles equivalent adds in vocal harmonies to give the bass player something to do besides looking cool.

I must confess I’ve never really quite seen the point of these dedicated Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, or at least some of them. I can understand Rock Band: The Beatles, as they were one of the most important bands of all time, and their music also went through quite a few changes, making the albums a different feel despite being by the same band. I can also to some extent see the logic behind the Guitar Hero band-centric games, with Metallica and Aerosmith’s entries also including songs by similar bands as well as the ‘protagonist’ bands.

However, this particular game is a little bit different. Fans of Green Day will like it, and as a result I invited my sister over in order to play this game to its full potential, as our virtual band Cherry Gunrack gave the game of Rock Band a good hard rocking in our time. It was thus time to dust off the microphone and drum kit and turn this mother out!

Thankfully, the game plays exactly like the previous instalments, with instruments scrolling vertically across the middle of the screen, with vocals running horizontally across the top. The game features over 40 songs by Green Day across their albums post-1994. This became a point of contention with my sister, as she was a fan from way back when they released their first album, and wanted to play a few tracks from the first two albums. However, as Dookie was the first album that really saw their popularity jump, it’s an understandable choice to make.

The game is pretty fun, it has to be said. I’d forgotten how many Green Day songs I’d heard in my time, and so singing wasn’t particularly hard for me once the music kicked in. The vocals are re-created fine, drums are suitably challenging, as Tre Cool is a pretty solid drummer, Mike Dirnt’s bass guitar is faithfully re-created and Billie-Joe Armstrong’s guitar parts are at times stupidly easy, so that’s pretty accurate as well.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics/Presentation: Quite cartoony art style, but the likenesses are pretty good. The menus are all Green Day themed as well, which is a cool touch, and the likenesses change outfits and so forth as they progress in years through the game.
Sound/Music: Very faithfully recreated Green Day songs, and the musical translation of it is really good.
Gameplay: The same Rock Band gameplay we’ve come to know and love, with Green Day songs instead of somebody else’s. It’s fun, but if you’re not a fan of Green Day there’s nothing for you here.
Lasting Appeal: Four instruments, backing and lead vocals, the ability to export songs into the other Rock Band games for a small fee, the usual score attack modes and multiplayer fun. There’s plenty here in terms of lifespan if you like this sort of thing.
Summary: This game is a fun instalment in the Rock Band franchise, but a caveat: If you don’t like Green Day, there’s nothing for you. If you like Green Day since the Dookie album, there’s tons for you here. If you’ve been a fan of all their albums, be warned: the game doesn’t include the first two albums, and to quote my sister, “is much like seeing Green Day live, in that they only play the new stuff. At least Billie-Joe doesn’t go on for hours about George Bush though.” 8/10
Sniper: Ghost Warrior
City Interactive
Available Now - £24.99 (PC) & £39.99 (Xbox 360 – Version Tested)
Review by Rob Wade

If there is a situation that the US government can't allow, it would surely be an old Uranium mine controlled by guerrilla forces in a rogue state. Take part in a secret Delta Force mission to secure the site as an elite commando sniper. Not only international security, but also your own security lays in your hands, as you infiltrate the enemy compounds with one goal: shoot to kill…

Sniper: GW is visually an impressive game. Game consists of vast lush jungle-scapes for the most part, with some nice ideas for visual touches (such as a bullet cam when you pull off a good headshot) dotted around in order to make the game distinctive. Gun noises and sound effects are good quality, and the voice acting is pretty reasonable. The gun mechanics, too, are good, with the sniper option particularly taking into account wind resistance, enemy velocity and weather effects. Understandable really, as a game called Sniper where the rifles were shit would be a massive waste of development time.

However, this game comes with a bucketload of problems. The AI is massively inconsistent, for a start. You’re taught at the beginning to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself by hiding in bushes and crouching and laying down accordingly depending on height and so forth. Now, this would be wonderful if that actually worked, but some of the time the enemies can’t see you when you’re lying down right next to them, and most of the time they can spot you from 100 yards when you’re lying in tall grass. This is confusing, particularly when you look like a pothead Cousin It from The Addams Family - think a walking shrub and you’re on the right lines.

When they spot you, then, how do they fare in terms of accuracy? Well, the answer is: Almost too well. Not only do they seem to be able to empty a machine gun clip into you flawlessly from 100 metres, but thanks to the dodgy animations they don’t even have to be pointing their gun at you in order to shoot you! I can’t help but feel that this is a little cheap and unfair, particularly as when you’re in the underbrush hidden, and you can’t see anyone, how does it then figure that they can see you? Also, not being able to see the muzzle flash makes a tremendous amount of difference.

That’s not the only technical error, either. The bullet cam animations lag out half the time, enemies disappear and re-appear, and the game is just punishingly hard as a result. I can deal with hard games, but when it’s through technical errors it’s not fair. Ultimately worth a rent for the hardcore shooter enthusiast, but certainly not an essential purchase.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Graphics/Presentation: Slick, lush jungle landscapes and smooth graphics let down by jerky animations and technical errors.
Sound/Music: The sound effects are spot on in this game, and the music is quite good at setting the mood.
Gameplay: The aforementioned technical errors and massively inconsistent AI makes for a disappointingly unfair fight, which is a shame because when the game works it is quite enjoyable.
Lasting Appeal: There’s multiplayer, but if it plays like the single player there’ll probably be people exploiting the technical errors. Do you really want to be involved in that? Achievements are relatively easy to get, and not particularly exciting.
Summary: A game with a ton of potential let down by some shonky technical errors. Shame, as the game itself was pretty enjoyable otherwise. 5/10

Welcome to Mega-City One, a city of over four hundred million people and every one of them a potential criminal. Stretching the length of the 22nd Century North American eastern seaboard, Mega-City One is the most dangerous city on Earth – a serious crime takes place every second of every day. This is a city so dangerous that it demands a special breed of law enforcer. Here, there are no police, no trials and no juries – there are only the judges. It takes fifteen years to train a judge for life on the streets of Mega-City One.

Fifteen years of iron discipline, rigid self-control and concentrated aggression. Their court is on the streets and their word is the Law.

In Mega-City One, unemployment has reached epidemic levels, reaching as high as 98% in some sectors. Critical housing shortages force the population to inhabit vast mile-high blocks that cram tens of thousands of citizens into their apartments. Life in Mega-City One is one of claustrophobia and extreme boredom – small wonder many citizens turn to crime as an escape to the monotony of their lives. In a city of four hundred million people, crime always provides a way to stand out from the crowd, however briefly.

Bolstering their line-up of already awesome 2000AD licensed games, including RPGs based on Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Slaine, Mongoose Publishing have released the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game! Designed to be flexible, so that you can spend one session leading a juve gang on a crime spree, handle a blistering race the next, and even get together with your friends for a massive BLOCK WAR!

What’s more Mongoose Publishing have stated that the rules are, and always will be, free to download.

You can download the full playtest pack here, but Mongoose request that you read the playtestpack.doc thoroughly before starting, as the system will thrive on your feedback!

What’s more, to help get you interested in playing, we’ve teamed up with Mongoose Publishing to bring one of our readers a special prize!

For your chance of winning, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Thursday 15th July (UK time). The first name drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free squad of Judges for use in the game!

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