Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gaming Reviews

Available now on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 (Version Tested)
Review by Blake Harmer

Good news gamers - id is back with a new FPS, and for those who are either unaware of gaming history or just Call Of Duty players, you should listen up. FPS games would never have existed if it weren’t for id when they first unleashed Wolfenstein 3D and then made it hugely popular with the likes of Doom and Quake. Rage is id’s first foray into open-world territory, and for the most part it works very well. In Rage, you play a survivor of the end of the world by staying in an ‘Arc’ (read: Vault) and you emerge in an apocalyptic Mad Max style wasteland filled with buggies, bandits and mutants. However, there is a sinister organisation in this new world that wants you dead, and it is up to you to find out why.

The game delivers wonderfully in several key areas. Mainly, the gunplay is brilliant. Every gun feels meaty and powerful, and there is plenty of variation with multiple ammo types to keep things interesting. The vehicular combat is also nice and robust with lots of upgrades that you can get for your vehicle, which can be won through races and killing other bandits you encounter on the road. The AI on show is also good, and there are plenty of different bad guy types to keep things varied. Also, the animation is also great as enemies react to every bullet you put into them and create some really good looking death throes. That said though, the whole game is beautiful, from the wasteland to the buildings to the detail on each NPC you encounter.

The game does have a few flaws, which can be glaring if it is a particular bugbear of yours that could make or break a game. Firstly, despite how beautiful the game is, there is texture pop-in frequently, with things becoming less blurry about a second after you’ve looked at them. This isn’t so noticeable when you’re busy blowing the crap out of mutants, but during the slower bits it can be a little frustrating as it is more obvious. Also, despite being an open world game with the opportunity to do different missions to keep the flavour mixed, all the action mainly takes place in enclosed spaces and the wide spaces mainly feel like a space you have to cross between the two, and also the game is still pretty linear as you don’t benefit from exploration like you would in, say, Fallout.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
: Really gorgeous graphics, animation and physics on display here, but it is marred by an annoying texture pop up that keeps occurring even in the smallest of areas.
Sound/Music: A nice score and some very good voice acting, it is the meaty gunfire and explosion sounds that really win through though.
Gameplay: A decent FPS actioner with some good vehicular combat and light RPG elements thrown in. If only it wasn’t so linear, then we could have had a potential contender to challenge the likes of Fallout.
Lasting Appeal: A pretty lengthy 20 hour campaign with side quests and online to keep you entertained for quite a while.
Summary: An almost excellent game that just falls from being essential due to some annoying flaws though. Persevere, though, and there is an excellent game here to be enjoyed. Besides, it’s unlikely you will find better gunplay this year. 8/10

Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 2: Senseless Acts of Justice
Straandlooper/Telltale Games
Available now for PC/Mac, iOS and PSN
Review by Rob Wade

Everyone’s favourite Detective Inspector returns in Senseless Acts of Justice. The events of the first game’s finale have resonated with the entire village of Clapper’s Wreake, and it’s up to Hector and his well-meaning but useless partner Lambert to discover the identity of the hostage taker who has caused the police force so much bother.

Back when Episode 1 came out, my review (which can be viewed here) was overall pretty kind, but I feel like I was being a little unfair after doing some more research. I have learned since the review that almost all the voice acting was done by one person, and so for me to criticise one or two of the voices did not recognise the talent involved. I stand by my criticism of the voices themselves, which I felt weren’t up to the same standard as the overall voice acting performance, but I cannot help but recognise the immense talent that produced so many voices (especially when I felt that a good percentage of them were great).

Anyway, that’s that over with. On to the awesomeness, and make no mistake: This game improves on the first episode on a scale akin to the jump from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back. Granted, there’s no Lando, but to be fair he’d look out of place in the modern day England that this game depicts so well. In every other way, the game is a marked improvement from the first episode. The voice acting has a better variety of characters, and the voices are funny in themselves this time round as well. What’s also good about this episode is the quality of the characters, even the ones with less screen time. Particular highlights include a kid looking to start the next big Youtube craze, and a beautician/arms store proprietor with a penchant for innuendo and tremendous amounts of beef. You heard me.

Hector, of course, is the star of the show though, and when he’s talking you know the gag’s going to be a cracking one. What was refreshing, however, was that Lambert was given some additional screen time, which involved him finding transportation for a couple of girls fresh from a hen night, and finding parents for an orphan boy with a hook for a hand. The humour in this game is a solid mix of both the zany and the satirical, and it’s probably one of the most realistic depictions of modern England I’ve come across in all forms of media.

Graphically, the game is pretty sharp looking, although I noticed the odd glitch where Hector would lose his shirt (relevant in context). What was impressive was how well the graphics stood up to higher resolutions, and still managed to look good. The music is another thing worth checking out in this game, too, dropping in the right amount of tension at the right times.

If I had to choose a highlight, it would probably be the scene in the restaurant, but you'll have to buy the game to find out how and why it's so good.

Overall, should you get this? Abso-fucking-lutely. Should you get into the series? Abso-fucking-lutely. Go there now. I’ll wait. Plus there’s tons of other awesome adventure games.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Really sharp cartoon graphics that hold up even at top resolution.
Sound/Music: Some excellent music and sound effects, and an improved spectrum of voice acting variety over the first episode.
Gameplay: Inventive point and click adventure, with the same quirky sense of humour that permeates the best of the genre.
Lasting Appeal: A few hours of gameplay, but well worth the price of admission.
Summary: An absolute gem of an adventure game, and ramps up nicely for the third instalment. Get into this series. You’ll be glad you did. 9/10


Four young people win a competition of a lifetime; Jo, Max Gwen and Dave are heading off on an all expenses paid trip to New York courtesy of the social network site . As they board the private jet, they are asked to relinquish their mobile phones and take part in the in-flight entertainment - a new online gaming experience.

Once airborne the games begin, and it soon becomes evident through a series of twisted and sickening tasks, that the passengers mystery host knows far more than they ever dared imagine, but are they all as innocent as they seem?

Trapped 30,000 feet in the air and with no escape, the four find themselves set on a horrific course, forcing them to play for their lives and leading to a gruesome and bloody twist. A breathless psychological horror film for the 21st century, when you live your life online, there is no Esc...

Thanks to our friends at Showbox, we've got two copies of Panic Button on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 10th November, making sure to put "Panic Button" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome DVD!

Don't forget to put "Panic Button" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Panic Button is available from Monday 7th November, courtesy of Showbox.

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

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