Thursday 1 July 2010

Gaming Reviews

Revell Control German Tiger Helicopter
Available Now - £169.99
Review by Brad Harmer

Flying a helicopter is really, really hard. Flying a remote control one, as we discovered to our cost, is pretty damn hard too. Revell were kind enough (read – we didn’t think for a second they’d actually do it) to send us one of these and, well, we eagerly strapped ourselves in, and fired it up.

The presentation on opening the box is really fantastic. The ‘chopper itself really nicely cast, and looks pretty spiffing. Also within the box are battery, remote, charger, spare blades and nice instruction manual and DVD.

The DVD is sadly pretty uninformative. The full presentation is approximately five minutes long, and shows video clips of how the Tiger should theoretically move once you have it all fired up. It doesn’t really clearly show you how should use the controls to do those things, however, so all you're left with is a clip of your brand new Tiger looking pretty smug.

Before taking it outside, I decided to give it a brief spin indoors, to get a feel for it. The blades spun rapidly, and the ‘chopper rose to a height of about four feet. Within thirty seconds I had discovered two important things about the Tiger:

a) It descends a lot sharper than it climbs,
b) The wheels go back on fairly easily.

Taking it outside, we discovered that flying was rather more involved that we’d realised. In fact, just attempting to adjust the “trim” proved to be a challenge in and of itself. We discovered that just taking off frequently involved the Tiger keeling over sideways, rotating on its axis, or slowly flying backwards.

Also, the oh-so-helpful DVD had been rather remiss on the whole “pointing out how to land the bastard thing”, so our methods of landing it came down to either

a) Plummeting to the ground like a fucking rock
b) Getting someone to catch it in mid-air, and then leaning back away from it as far as possible with a rather worried facial expression.

The Tiger Helicopter is pretty fun for a while, but as to whether you’re really going to get your money’s worth out of it is another matter. If you have some experience with remote control planes and helicopters, you may find a good priced toy here, and it looks pretty good when it’s flying (when not spinning anti-clockwise on its axis whilst slowly moving backwards). Newcomers to the game however (like your ever loving blue eyed E14ies), will likely find this pretty hard, and may want to look for a more suitable beginner’s model.

The only real oversight is the lack of spare parts provided. There are spare blades provided, but our flying time was forced to an unfortunate stop when the undercarriage was shattered following a particularly harsh landing. A small thing, maybe, but if you'd spent over £150 on this, you'd feel sickened by something like that. Hopefully Revell will think to bundle more spares with their next line.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence: A helicopter crashes into things. A lot.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: You will swear. A lot.
Summary: Not at all suitable for beginners due to a) its lack of resilience and b) its very fussy trim controls. There are plenty of laughs available here, but no-one at the E14 office was blown away by it, or “caught the bug” as such. The lack of spares is a real pain in the arse. 6/10

Here, with Blake as its pilot, is the Final Flight of the Tiger...

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Rising Star Games/Grasshopper Manufacture
Available Now - £29.99 (Wii)
Review by Blake Harmer

To say that No More Heroes 2 was a mad game would be an understatement, especially as it is a sequel to the original No More Heroes (also just as crazy), a franchise invented by the man who created cult classic Killer 7 which, as you may have guessed, was also bat-shit insane.

In No More Heroes 2, you once again play as anti-hero Travis Touchdown as he battles his way through the city of Santa Destroy to become number one assassin after finding himself at the bottom of the league after a three year absence. To do this, Travis must defeat the assassins one by one by slicing them to bits with his “beam katana”.

Aside from narrowly dodging a lawsuit from Mr Lucas and friends, No More Heroes 2 is actually pretty good. The combat is very meaty and the added ability to switch weapons on the fly to suit your situation is also very handy, and certainly a marked improvement on the original. I also liked the side missions, which are played out in 2D as if you were playing them on an 8-bit console. The end result of these are usually quite fun and addictive, whilst being a good source of extra income to be spent on new weaponry, upgrading your health, or purchasing new clothes. They also provide good fun without detracting from the main part of the game, which is the combat. The boss battles are fun and varied and the inclusion of throws and super-moves keeps the standard hack and slash gaming varied and fun.

The only real downsides to this game are that I would have liked to have seen a larger variety of things you could purchase between missions or side jobs, rather than just clothes and upgrades. The other glaring problem is that the camera can be quite fiddly at times, which can become frustrating in a boss battle or when fighting lots of enemies.

However, despite this (and due to the lack of true hardcore games on the Wii), you won’t find much better on the console if you’re looking for more adult experience.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Nice arty cel-shading style; really makes the blood and death stand out when you slice your enemies in two with your “beam katana”.
Gameplay: A fun, if rather silly, hack and slash game with plenty of OTT violence to keep most gamers happy.
Lasting Appeal: Very little in terms of replayability after you complete the main game other than buying all the upgrades and clothes for Travis’ wardrobe.
Summary: An enjoyable slice of high action gaming that will keep Wii gamers thoroughly entertained when in the mood for something a bit more bloodthirsty on their console. Sure, No More Heroes 2 still has its flaws, but when compared to other hardcore games on the console (of which there are very few) this is still a very fun slice of gaming. Albeit insane. 7/10

The Watchers In The Sky
Trail of Cthulhu Scenario
Pelgrane Press
Available Now - £3.29 (PDF)
Review by Brad Harmer

Your friends cannot be trusted, your knowledge means nothing, and everything you hold dear turns to dust.

A madman feeds the birds, paranoid they are watching him. Later, the same strange birds stare from the rooftops, warping the laws of physics and chemistry. And, when the Investigators dissect one of the creatures, they find something monstrous inside.

I was one of the sceptics when Trail of Cthulhu first appeared on the scene. I thought that Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu was the be all and end all of Mythos gaming, and that no system could add anything new to it. Time has, of course, proven me wrong, and Trail of Cthulhu has gone on to provide a fantastic alternative, tackling the subject in a totally different – and some would say, more faithful – way. The Watchers In The Sky is a truly grim, nasty and Lovecraftian horror adventure. It is, simply, Trail of Cthulhu doing what it does best.

The characters supplied are above the usual average for pre-gens, and should allow anyone to begin playing straight away. The layout is clear, the story fantastic and the horror has the potential to be great.

The Watchers In The Sky has the potential to be a truly chilling horror adventure, but with so much dependent on strong role-playing and Purist Lovecraftian horror, this is not a suitable module for groups he like to dick around, making jokes, and chatting about off topic subjects. This would completely crash and burn with such a group. However, if everyone can agree – just for a couple of sessions – to pull back the giggles and crank up the Grim Nekro Und Kvlt, then this has the potential to be a horror RPG session that will not be forgotten in a hurry. 8/10

Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943
Paradox Interactive
Available Now - £19.99 (PC)
Review by Blake Harmer

Achtung Panzer wants to wow you. It has lots of detailed information on units, tanks, weaponry etc. It has some pretty nice graphics, considering that it's a budget title; and it also focuses its attentions on one particular battlefield rather than all of World War II, like so many other computer games do. This way Achtung Panzer can boast hardcore historical accuracy - including what equipment was available to the commanders at the time, so you can put your tactical mind to the test rather than just deploying nukes.

Achtung Panzer has a lot going for it, considering it’s a budget title. Choosing not to go head to head with other great WW2 strategy games such as Company of Heroes, Achtung Panzer instead goes for a turn based operational view to great effect. When initating combat, battles unfold in real time and this is where the challenge comes as usually the terrain is quite harsh and offers little allowance for mistakes. Another great thing about Achtung Panzer is the tank battles, which are meaty but demonstrate just how powerful tanks can be, whilst also showing there weaknesses if not used effectively. The hardcore realism of the game even goes as far as allowing your surviving crew members time to fix their tanks, but only if the time and resources are available.

However, despite this hardcore realism, the game does suffer in some major areas. The AI can be quite stupid at times, often sacrificing their troops against insurmountable odds. Also, the camera is slow, the interface hard to read and understand at times, and the lack of information for what is occurring in other parts of the battlefield means that you could lose troops and armour elsewhere and not be aware of it, which can be very frustrating at times.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Surprisingly good. The tanks are very detailed with satisfying explosions.
Gameplay: An in-depth tactical turn based war game, with the emphasis being on accuracy rather than Company of Heroes’ Hollywood style explosions and strategic point taking.
Lasting Appeal: Plenty to keep hardcore wargamers and WWII lovers happy. Most normal gamers will become tired of its one setting too quickly though.
Summary: This is definitely a wargamers game, the game is hard to get to grips with at first and is rife with flaws and bugs. But if you put the time into it, hardcore wargamers will be enjoying a fun budget title with plenty to keep them entertained. CAsual gamers would do better to stick to normal RTS games like Company of Heroes, however, as this is definitely for those who love accurate war games over an arcadey experience. 6/10

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