Tuesday 23 March 2010

Gaming Reviews

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Available Now - £34.99 (Wii) and £29.99 (PSP (Version Tested) & PS2)
Review by Blake Harmer

As the seventh game in the franchise, Silent Hill is trying to keep things fresh (as do a lot of franchises that last for this many games)...but how do you keep the game terrifying and in the same locale without making the story more complicated? The answer is to go back to the beginning.

The game is a "re-imagining" of the first Silent Hill game and centres around Harry Mason searching Silent Hill for his daughter, gone missing after a car accident. However, what the game does differently is to take a more psychological slant by having you in a psychiatrist’s office with the psychiatrist asking you questions, which then affect the experience you have when you play. Also, Shattered Memories is the first Silent Hill game to feature no combat whatsoever - all you can do is run. This leads to more scares, making you feel helpless against the relentless monstrosities of Silent Hill, and provides frenetic "run away and hide!" moments.

Sadly, despite these great ideas, the game falls down on the execution. The questions that the psychiatrist asks merely affect the ending that you get, as well as some graphical tweaks. The gameplay mechanic of running away is spoilt by making it too obvious as to when you are in danger of being harmed, and makes you realise you are free of any danger the rest of the time, which sadly ruins some of the game's biggest scares.

However, despite the flaws caused by Silent Hill’s new ideas, it still does what it does best in terms of the rest of its core gameplay. The sound is still fantastic, the puzzles are well thought out and the story will still keep you interested throughout. It is just a shame that the flaws have made it one of the least scary games in the series.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Monsters are still gruesome and the way the world changes from the foggy world to the horrible alternative reality still looks impressive.
Sound/Music: The awesome sound effects from the other games make their return to chill you to the bone. A game that is best played with headphones for maximum effect (if you are playing the PSP version).
Gameplay: Some nice ideas executed poorly. However, the storyline and great puzzles make up for the shortcomings and still keeps the game entertaining.
Lasting Appeal: Silent Hill fans will want to try and see all the endings. There is very little replayability aside from that though.
Summary: An enjoyable distraction that could have been so much more if the game had stuck to its roots and focused on the scares rather than trying something new. Full marks to developer Climax Games for the attempt though. 6/10

Way Of The Samurai 3
Acquire/Rising Star Games/UFO
Available Now - £39.99 (PS3 & Xbox 360 (Version Tested)) - Also available for iPhone
Review by Blake Harmer

The Way of The Samurai games have always had niche appeal - with a lot of gamers probably being surprised that there was a Way Of The Samurai 1 & 2. However, there are many reasons, which are evident in Way of The Samurai 3, for why the series will never appeal to the masses.

Firstly, the game has flaws. It doesn’t have big production values, the graphics are atrocious when compared to other current gen titles, with muddy textures and poor draw distances. The end result looks like a, slightly shinier, last gen game. Also, the game doesn’t have the engaging plot that other games have, and with dull side missions such as cutting vegetables or delivering letters, the missions don’t meet the same standard as other open ended games such as Oblivion or GTA IV.

Where the game does earn its appeal is through its deep combat system, with lots of stances and moves to master. It’s enjoyable but very intimidating at first. There are also a lot of RPG elements in it - which means a lot of number crunching - but gives the player the ability to shape his character into the ultimate warrior with the weapon of his dreams. Despite these plus points the game still lacks an engaging plot and the fact the there is so much freedom is probably its biggest downfall, as it leads to a lack of direction. If you are one of the few who enjoyed the other games, you will find yourself right at home. However, the rest of us will be too busy playing more interesting games to notice its hardcore gaming charms.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Dull and muddy textures fill the game world; it’s a shame that there is also a lot of unnecessary space as well.
Sound/Music: So-so sound affects that you will tire quickly of way before you see any sign of an end to the game.
Gameplay: An enjoyable and deep combat system and a large game world are let down by boring and unrewarding tasks and plot that seems to virtually disappear following the opening of the game leading to a dull experience overall.
Lasting Appeal: With hours of playtime and multiple endings that are affected by your actions, the game is practically endless. However, whether you want to put up with the pain of playing the game that long is another thing.
Summary: An open world game with little plot or motivation to hold your interest, and missions that are so uninspiring that it is hard to recommend it to the masses. However, with multiple endings, freedom of choice and a deep stat heavy combat system, it may appeal to a niche audience. 5/10

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