Thursday, 24 March 2011

Gaming Reviews

Fallout - New Vegas: Dead Money DLC
Available Now - £7.49 (PC & PS3)
Review by Blake Harmer

In a bold experiment from Bethesda to prove that there is still life in the old engine yet, Dead Money is an expansion pack that challenges your normal expectations of Fallout by giving the new mission a more survival-horror vibe, whilst knocking your level cap up to thirty-five. Some of the ideas on display here are great and work well, but sadly, others do not.

Stripped of all your weapons, items and caps, and forced to wear a slave collar that can blow up should you fail, you must work together with other characters to raid the Sierra Madre Casino and get the large amounts of wealth inside. However, should one of your colleagues die, you all die as the collars explode.

The lack of weapons and food available to you throughout the expansion pack means you will have to be very careful and take it slowly, especially as there are loads of traps, toxic areas, and nails bad guys such as ghost people, which can only be killed by dismemberment or decapitation, it also gets you to use your equipment wisely, much like in survival horror games, and sneaking can be very handy to save your munitions and avoid combat at all. This works very well, as well some great characters and a very well thought storyline that goes to show that Fallout is still one of the best RPGs around, despite its aging engine.

However, this expansion pack is not without its flaws. It does very little to fix any of the bugs or flaws inherent in Fallout: New Vegas. Also, while the characters are great, I feel they are not really used to their full potential in the game, and would have liked to rely on them more as we worked together to survive the casino. Finally, there is a large increase in difficulty where you are forced to have a huge firefight against waves of ghost people. Whilst this may be a slight reward for the Fallout fans that wanted more stuff to blow up, the lack of ammo and equipment makes it very difficult to overcome, unless your character is nails in the unarmed skill.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
The initial cut scene before the expansion mission is quite nice, but nothing special considering it uses the same engine as the rest of the game.
Sound/Music: Nice dialogue and sound effects, as with the rest of New Vegas. The characters you come across in Dead Money are really well done.
Gameplay: A decent expansion to New Vegas that focuses on stealth and managing your resources than pure gun-ho action.
Lasting Appeal: A fairly lengthy mission that is well worth the price of admission. The extra 5 levels added on to your level cap, increases the longevity of the rest of the game provided you haven’t seen all the Mojave Desert has to offer.
Summary: An interesting and different experiment that may not succeed in everything it set out to do but is still entertaining nonetheless. Don’t go buying it if you are expecting some all out action and explosions though. 7/10
Hard Corps: Uprising
Available Now - Xbox 360 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Review by Blake Harmer

Before we begin, I would like to let everyone know that this game is nails. Incredibly nails, and unless you are a severe glutton for punishment, it is likely that this game isn’t for you. However, if you do like your old school 2D run-and-gun scrolling shoot ‘em ups, you won’t be disappointed.

Playing in the same vein as Contra and Metal Slug, Hard Corps: Uprising has you as a one (or two, if you are playing co-op) man army against the world (or so it seems). The biggest draw over other shooters here is the games “Rising mode” which gives you points after each game, which you can then spend on better weapons, more health, continues etc, thus making the game more bearable, and allowing you to access bigger and better guns from the start.

Hard Corps: Uprising works well with some very nice graphics and animations at its disposal, and looks very pretty as you dance around the screen firing hot death in every direction at your enemies. The variety of weapons are good, the boss battles varied and fun, and the inclusion of moves such as the dash can be very helpful when in a tight squeeze.

The biggest problem with the game, as mentioned before, is the difficulty. This is made worse by some poor restart points when you use a continue. These can sometimes place you in an area a good five minutes before you died, forcing you to re-fight through an entire area of bad guys, only to be killed by the same boss that killed you previously, which can become very frustrating. Also, it just doesn’t offer the large amounts of fun and OTT explosions like the competition (ie. Metal Slug) offers. But, if you want the challenge over outright destruction, then Hard Corps: Uprising is for you.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Pretty 2D visuals with nice 3D backgrounds. The animations on show here are also top notch.
Sound/Music: Plenty of explosions and sound effects; some of the bad guy voices can become very repetitive though.
Gameplay: An enjoyable blaster with old school difficulty made harder by some unbalanced restart points.
Lasting Appeal: If you are willing to persevere to the end by playing again and again until you can master every bit of the game, then this will last you ages. Most people will be put off by the difficulty long before this though.
Summary: Fans of old-school blasters such as Contra will find this a tight and enjoyable blaster, albeit one that doesn’t bring much new to the table (aside from the Rising mode). However, only the most hardcore of gamers will persevere with it to its conclusion. 7/10
Systemless RPG Scenario
Three-Fourteen Games

Available Now - £3.37 (PDF)
Review by Brad Harmer

Awakened is a scenario with an unusual premise. It starts with something already having happened to the characters, something they can't change. The characters were convinced by an unknown person to do him a favour, and awaken in an unfamiliar place the next morning, without any memories from the previous night's events. Actually, the scenario begins with the characters that very next morning, and with no recollection of the evening before. They will have to investigate their surroundings and find the clues to fill in the events from the previous night...

Awakened is a pretty unique set-up – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen an RPG set up like this before. The bizarre, dream-like quality of the piece makes it feel like what would happen if David Lynch ever GMd a game of Call of Cthulhu. If you’re looking for something that has a pretty solid blend of mystery solving, and some pretty weird (although not necessarily supernatural) horror, then you should certainly check out Awakened.

The game will likely be a challenging one to GM, though, as a lot of the scenarios success runs around maintaining the correct pace, and ensuring that the players are comfortable in their roles. This is a really role-playing intense scenario – you can go all the way through it without ever rolling a single dice.

The lack of a strong ending may prove something of a problem for some groups, but if you’ve got players who are willing to give it a bash, then Awakened could prove to be scenario that you never forget. 8/10


Join Admiral Harriman Nelson, Captain Lee Crane and the crew of the Seaview, as they venture through a breathtaking undersea world in Irwin Allen's action-packed TV classic, where science-fiction adventure meets espionage thriller!

Welcome aboard the Seaview, 'the most extraordinary submarine in all the Seven Seas!' From the outside, the ship appears to be a high-tech research vessel, but it's actually the mightiest weapon in the Cold War arsenal of the US, sent on perilous, top-secret missions to battle the enemies of mankind.

Thanks to our friends at Revelation Films, we've got a copy of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The Complete Series One on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 31st March, making sure to put "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The Complete Series Oneis available from Monday 28th March, priced £39.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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