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3:08 PM on 10.16.2012

Alan Wake

I found Alan Wake to be a mixed bag. I loved the gameplay and mystery introduced in the very first episode. I liked exploring Bright Falls and meeting the colourful characters. The only minor issue I had at the time was Alice Wake's lip syncing; it was slightly off compared to everyone else.

Unfortunately, I found that the other episodes simply didn't match the excitement and awe I felt in the very first episode.



The gameplay became stagnant very quickly. In every episode, Alan loses his guns and flashlights at least once. I was hoping for varied weapons and chances for the player to be creative with the different light sources. I tend to stockpile the flares and grenades I receive for harder enemies or getting rushed by large mobs, so it's bit annoying to keep losing them.

This leads me onto my next issue - the enemies were not particularly challenging. As mentioned before, I didn't use my flares and grenades as much since it was fairly easy to take them down. Even the Taken vehicles require the same amount of light to defeat as a Taken person. After a while, killing huge swathes of Taken became a little repetitive, especially since there wasn't a great variety of enemies or methods to take them out.



Picking up the manuscripts seemed like a good idea at first, since it gave an insight into the other charactersí thoughts and motivations. However, it ruined any tension built in a cut scene or during gameplay since I knew what was going to happen next. I also feel that the writing for those manuscripts could have been improved. For example, I really enjoyed reading Karimís dreams from Lost Odyssey. The translator did a great job in making them sound like genuine short, descriptive stories.

There were no memorable gameplay moments for me. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a very plot heavy game, but there are a lot of vivid gameplay moments I can remember Ė for example, hiding in a locker as the camera switches to first person view so you can see the soldiers looking for Snake through the slats. I think a lot of my disappointment stems from the game not delivering the scares or having enough unique and challenging puzzles. The final boss was also a bit of a let-down, it wasn't quite as difficult as I thought it was going to be.



However, I did like final part of the game when Alan has to go to the Dark Place. I liked seeing the words Alan was typing floating in the air and using the flashlight to create the objects being described. I thought it was very creative and creepy.

Despite not being overly enthused with the gameplay, I still enjoyed the storyline and exploring Bright Falls. I found the ending very confusing however. It seemed rushed and was a very abrupt finish. My copy of Alan Wake does not have The Writer DLC, which seems to explain the ending. Itís a shame really, because I saw the trailer for Alan Wakeís American Nightmare and thought the premise was interesting. However I donít think I'll be playing that soon. I just wish the rest of the game was as intriguing as the very first episode.   read


10:46 AM on 07.14.2012

Ghost Trick: Phantom Dectective



This is one of the most enjoyable games I've played on the DS this year. I was hooked straight from the start with its cast of colourful characters and crazy yet enthralling, storyline. It's a puzzle game but Shu Takumi has put his own spin on it.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Sissel is a snarky ghost that can rewind time by four minutes and manipulate objects. He has no idea who he is, who killed him and why. His best chance to solve the mystery is to follow Lynne, a rookie detective who was also at the scene of the crime. However, it's a race against time because Sissel has to solve it before dawn before he fades away by then. A lot of people die in this game and Sissel has to use his ghost tricks to rewind time and avert their fate. Along the way, the mystery deepens and the plot twists and turns. Seriously, the plot is fantastic. I was literally glued to the DS for the whole day, wanting to know happened next.

There is a lot of trial and error in this game. A lot of the time I had worked out how to manipulate objects and realised the timing was a bit off. Luckily the characters give you clues and you can rewind time over and over again. If you have changed the fate of a person slightly then that becomes a check point and you can start from that point again if you do something wrong. I think the only time this didn't work well, was when you have to save the justice minister from dying of a heart attack. If you didn't move to the correct object before ĎFATE CHANGED' rolled across the screen, you had to start from the beginning anyway.



The music for this game is excellent and really adds to the tension as you try to work out how to save the person. I particularly enjoyed the submarine segment and the part where you have to save the inspector. Ghost Trick also has an amazing, colourful cast of characters each with their own humorous quirks. The animation is fluid and brilliantly done, such as Bailey the guard's panic dance or Inspector Cabenela's constant moon walking.

My favourite characters were Sissel for his sarcastic remarks and Missile, the overly enthusiastic Pomeranian. Heís such an endearing character and his dialog is just perfect. Itís exactly how I would imagine a dog would speak and talk. I also think that Sisselís amnesia was handled really well and successfully engages the player to his predicament. Another character that deserves a mention is Yomiel, who started off as a scary character then turned out to be a tragic one. When he first appeared to Inspector Cabenela I had goosebumps.



My only criticism of the game is that the other ghost tricks the player could use were introduced quite late in the game. There could have been more variations in the puzzles earlier on. Also, itís a bit pricey for a DS game that really hasnít got any replay value. I think it might have been better at a cheaper price on the iOS. [Edit: Sorry, it is available at £6.99 on the iOS.]

As mentioned before, the storyline was engaging. At first, I didn't like the ending, but then I realised that all along, there were clues that Sissel wasn't a human ghost. I would love a Ghost Trick 2, but I do wonder how they can show Sissel without ruining the first Ghost Trick for newcomers. Perhaps there could be a new ghost character being shown the ropes by a black cat that refuses to tell its name?   read


4:31 PM on 07.08.2012

So I finally got round to playing Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 was a very enjoyable game. Itís very atmospheric in the beginning levels, particularly at the start when Issac is stuck in a straightjacket and must dodge the necromorphs. This was such a strong opening and the game continued increasing the tension and fear up until the second half, which unfortunately, did not meet the standards set in the first half.

While the game does not have any backtracking, I did notice that events forced Issac and Ellie to revisit areas again. (Not the Ishimura, because I haven't played the first Dead Space. I mean areas like the shopping mall.) This is even commented on in-game. Ellie actually says to Issac, ďWeíve been going around in circles!Ē I feel that the game could have benefited from being shorter.

I'm primarily a console gamer and Dead Space 2 is the first game I've played on the PC, which meant for the first three chapters I was wasn't controlling Issac with ease and rapidly shooting enemies like a pro. Not that I play like a pro normally, anyway. Nope, I was mostly flailing about; moving around so tortuously slowly it would put a tortoise weighed down by heavy shopping bags to shame.

I am aware that it is possible to complete the game in a shorter time thanks to hardcore mode, where the player only has three saves and must rely on checkpoints. If I had an Xbox copy of the game, I think I might have attempted this (after practicing on zealot mode).

It's a scary game but it's not survival horror. I'm not scrabbling around for supplies as enemies drop a lot of them anyway. The game does like to leave you running into empty rooms and empty corridors for a long time before they drop a load of crazy, frothing necromorphs at you.

The graphics and design are amazing. The necromorphs are disgusting and horrifying. Their limbs are bent and shaped at odd angles and some of them vomit on you to slow you down. The creepiest ones I thought were the Stalkers and the Guardians. With Stalkers, itís the not the rushing that creeps me out, itís the way the head peeks slyly behind a box or wall, looks at you, turns to another Stalker and then lets out a cry before running at you. They communicate with each other and use group tactics to try and take you out.



The Guardian is just disgusting to look at; a human attached to wall with tentacles flailing from a cavity in the stomach. Itís constantly crying out in pain before spewing out smaller monsters that can attack at a distance.




Funnily enough, I found Nicole, Issacís girlfriend to be the creepiest thing of all. I was never sure if she was real or a Marker-induced hallucination. I think it gave an insight to Issacís character, since it made clear that he suffered from a lot of guilt over her death and was angry at himself for not saving her. I know some people thought he was a whiny character, but I thought he was a strong character. As a comparison, I thought Marcus Fenix from Gears of War 3 was a lot more annoying after Donís death. Whereas Issac tried his best to cope with the flasbacks and hallucinations, he didnít burden anyone else with his problems and tried to help others as well as trying to find a way of the situation he was placed in. He was calm to Ellie and only killed Stross because of the Marker influencing him. Marcus, on the other hand, let his temper out on others and felt his grief over Don was far more important than anyone elseís problems. He got angry at a man who lost his whole village to the lambent infestation!

Another thing that was creepy was the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine. It involves sticking a needle into Issacís eye just to get Marker information. A needle! In your eye! Thatís just wrong, and itís just painful to think about.



On a side note, I thought Issac Clarke was named after the scientis Issac Newton, who apparently did stick a darning needle in his eye until he poked the backside, in order to study optics. But heís really named after the science fiction author.

My favourite levels were the Church of Unitology levels and the nursery levels. The Church of Unitology is made up of empty church pews and vestries splattered with blood, with monsters crawling in the darkness while angelic statues gaze serenely at the ceiling. Accompanying this scene is a recorded message on a loop, detailing the church's belief that humans will be eventually unified into one conscious. On top of all that, Issac gets debilitating flashbacks every so often. The nursery levels are equally creepy and the bright, cheery atmosphere is slightly jarring. Itís like Nís room in Pokťmon Black and White turned up to eleven or something. Also, baby necromorphs are just horrifying.

The transition between cutscenes and gameplay was seamless, though it was so good that sometimes I didnít realise I had control of Issac until I actually died. I also wish there was a bit more focus between the two factions: EarthGov and the Church of Unitology. There could have been a great science vs religion subplot going on there. However it might have been covered in the text and audio logs, which I didnít pick enough of.

As mentioned previously, Iím a console gamer, and I found using keyboard controls on the PC a bit difficult. I couldnít switch between weapons quick enough and I found it hard to tell what weapon was assigned to what key. At the start, I was using the Plasma Cutter, Bloody Flamethrower Triage javelin gun and Agility Rivet Gun. By the end I had switched to the Plasma Rifle and Line Gun. The Seeker Rifle was only useful for the zero gravity levels in order to take out the nest at a distance. I like that each weapon has alternate fire, and I started using kenesis and stasis a lot more. Necromorphs do drop a lot of ammo, so thereís none of the tension with conserving ammo and scrabbling for supplies.

Overall, I did enjoy the game, I did find some parts of it genuinely scary and I will probably get Dead Space 3 and 1 on the Xbox. I'm particularly intrigued by the co-op mode - I hope the atmosphere will be maintained and that the new necromorphs will need proper teamwork to take them out. What do you guys think?   read


3:42 PM on 05.29.2009

Somethinginthesea.com Ė Here we go AGAIN!

Well somethinginthesea.com has recently updated to Mark Meltzerís study. Normal enough you might think, except for a pretty weird, evil-loooking lunchbox near the side of his desk. In case you havenít looked at the site recently, Mark Meltzer is the bloke whoís investigating these abductions of little girls around the world.
When we last left him, he had taken a very blurry picture of the Big Sister, which might been exciting in itself if it werenít for Game Informer plastering a great big picture of her literally days before the reveal on the site.

Anyway, after that, a year has passed (1968) and his own daughter got kidnapped by the Big Sister. His wife divorces him, blaming Mark and his crazy research. Heís then sent to a mental facility. When Mark gets out he goes to track the Big Sister down for REVENGE and because he wants his daughter back. He tracks her to Hudson River in New York and traps her in a net. Which clearly isnít effective because she slices through it and then smashes his leg, breaks his ribs and leaves 16 stitches on his neck.

Now, the Big Sister has broken into his office and left the weirdo lunchbox there. Meltzer thinks itís a BOMB, though why he doesnít get rid of it is anyone guess. Itís up to you to unlock this strange box/BOMB thing.




Which is something I have been trying to do, for about 2 hours now, gnashing my teeth in frustration and wasting loads of paper in the process. Mind you, I could just wait for someone else to post the correct combination on the net, but then thatís cheating isnít it?

In any case I think it could make a great Collectorís Edition Box for Bioshock 2. And I personally think itís a bit more intriguing then whatever heck Kojimaís doing.

EDIT: According to people clearly much more used to code cracking over at 2K forums, the message on the back of the box is (it repeats over and over again):

I can't rember my birthday do you remember my birthday I have a new birthday

Except no-one really knows what Big Sister's birthday is.   read


10:26 AM on 03.09.2009

Bioshock 2 site Ė What the hell is going on?

Iíve been checking out http://somethinginthesea.com/, and someone has managed to hack the map.
This
hacked map was posted on the day of the siteís launch, and so far, all the updates match this map.

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/260890/map.swf

However, the single unmarked X in the middle is not Rapture. If you remember, the co-ordinates of Rapture
were given in the first game (the flashbacks during the would you kindly reveal): 63į 2' N, 29į 55' W. Putting
the co-ordinates into Google map shows this:



What the X actually seems to mark, is the hypothetical location of Atlantis:



Also, the latest updates reveal that that the kidnapper can leap out of a 3rd storey building. At first I thought
the kidnapper was a lonely Big Daddy, but I really canít imagine a Big Daddy leaping, can you?

EDIT: The site has updated again.   read


10:01 AM on 03.02.2009

If a Street Fighter IV Movie was made...

The Minus World has some ideas on casting in the unlikely event that a Street Fighter IV movie is ever made:













You can find the rest of the cast here:

http://the-minusworld.com/2009/02/27/street-fighter-iv-the-movie/

Let's hope Hollywood execs don't take this seriously.   read


9:40 AM on 02.27.2009

Interesting Game Art I found

I found some game art while browsing the net, and thought you guys might want to see them:

This was pretty much the only image that would fit here. I thought it was very creepy, having the Jasmine Jolene poster in the background while Andrew Ryan is murdering her.


Atlas Bloodied I always thought his hair was brown, but most Atlas fan art portray him with blonde hair. It's just a very striking picture.

The brother of Chuck Norris I don't know if you've seen this one before, but i liked the caption.

Fallout 3 poster

More Fallout 3 art

I haven't played Fallout 3 yet, but I really want to, it looks awesome.   read


3:45 PM on 08.04.2008

Feminists hate Bioshock! (SPOILERS)

This is an actual real post on some blog I came across while browsing on the Internet. I actually had to check to make sure I wasn't reading a part of Jim Sterling's Ban this Filth article.

http://99lives.org/2007/10/08/misogyny-has-a-new-game-bioshock/

Misogyny Has a New Game: Bioshock

That‚Äôs right. Hiding underneath all the accolades and slick marketing lies something much more sinister within ‚ÄĒ misogyny. Unlike most nefarious games, Bioshock starts off relatively benign. Only when your character acquires new weapons; called ‚Äúplasmids‚ÄĚ, does the misogynistic world of Rapture become embarrassingly obvious. You see, every plasmid comes with a tutorial demonstrating its abilities. In each video, players are treated to watching a poor innocent woman being eviscerated by a patriarchal, plasmid-wielding woman-hater.

Not even one paragraph in and you're writing utter bullocks already.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtkvmaQquB0&feature=related

References alluding to male privilege are laced throughout; the victim is always dressed as a housewife (misogynists love their women subservient) and overtly feminine, the male assailant is always seen with a smug grin of satisfaction as he overpowers the ‚Äúuppity‚ÄĚ woman. Even the presentation is done in a stylized 1940‚Äôs manner, referring to an era in which women were seen as property.

Well, that's because Rapture was opened in 1942. So what the hell were you expecting? You're even saying that it's typical of the era!

Later on in the game, you’ll cross paths with Bridgette Tenenbaum, the only female character in the game.

Well done on completing the first 15 mintues. Now go off, finish the whole game and then then tell me how me how many female characters there are. 'Cause if you're including the Audio Diaries and the splicers then it's a hell of a lot.

She‚Äôs given very little screen time and is quickly relinquished as a babysitter for the children of Rapture, dubbed as ‚ÄúLittle Sisters‚ÄĚ. It‚Äôs disappointing to see a strong woman reduced to servitude but not surprisingly unexpected.

You know, as shocking as this may sound, there ARE women out there who enjoy looking after kids and are happy being a housewife. Tenenbaum chose to do it, she wasn't forced to. And why do you make the idea of looking after kids sound demeaning, anyway?

After playing Bioshock, I can only ask what kind of depraved individual could come up with such trash in today’s modern, gender-blind society? Kev Levine, Bioshock’s designer has often cited the philosophy of Objectivism as a major influence in his life and from this confession, I’ve been given the explanation for Bioshock’s sexism.

Except it's not sexist - most of the male characters are portrayed in a negative light.
You're just bashing a game so you can promote your little feminist agenda. The ability of people to act like total morons on the net never fails to astound me.   read


10:30 AM on 08.03.2008

Wait, I have to wait longer for my video games?!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1039738/New-cinema-style-warnings-disturbing-video-games.html

According to the ever reliable Daily Mail, the video game classification system used in the UK is getting a complete overhaul. The current European one, PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is apparently, too confusing.



Yes, it really is.

Instead, they're going to use cinema style warnings instead. Hang on...



Now, seeing as I own a Wii and XBox 360, it seems as though the Wii uses the European system, while Xbox uses the cinema/DVD style ones. I don't know what the PS3 uses, so can anyone tell me?

Now this is because, and I quote : "Youngsters are using online auction sites such as eBay to buy games intended for adults, including Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto, Godfather and Hitman, which are all rated 18. Dr Byron found that many children outwit their parents about confusing and badly-signalled information on games packaging. She warned the Government that allowing children to play on computers unsupervised is as dangerous as letting them play outside on their own."

I'm sorry, did you find both packaging confusing and badly signalled? Is playing Halo 3 unsupervised really as dangerous as crossing the busy main road and swinging on a tyre swing in my park?

But the real reason that this annoys me is because of this : "The world's largest games developer, Electronic Arts, said the new scheme would be confusing for parents and would lead to games being released later in Britain than in the rest of the world."

Argh! Not only is it annoying for gamers in the UK, but surely this is saying that parents are as blind as bats or numerically illiterate or something that is unable to decipher age ratings on a box!   read


3:35 PM on 06.30.2008

The obligatory intro post - hi guys!

Actually, I should have done this a lot earlier. Oh well.

I'm Infinitestrike and I'm from the UK. My gaming history basically started with a Sega Mega Drive, followed by the PS1, PS2, Gamecube, GBA SP, DS, Wii and now 2 months ago, I got an XBox 360. I guess my favourite games are the Metal Gear series, Devil May Cry series, Bioshock, Crash Bandicoot series (PS1), Animal Crossing, Pokemon, Gears of War and Halo.

Uh, What else?

My favourite boss fights are The End, Psycho Mantis and General RAM. My favourite levels to explore would probably be any of the planets in Mario Galaxy.

I'm currently playing Call of Duty 4 and Orange Box.

I guess that's about it really. I'm not very good at these intro posts. I'm never really sure what to write about myself. I suppose this will do for now.   read


2:30 PM on 06.29.2008

Look, it's PG Bioshock!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUf436NS65I

Well, not really. It's for some movie called City of Ember. But the style they've chosen to create the city looks a bit like Bioshock, doesn't it?

Speaking of Bioshock, I was playing it on Easy mode today (it really is disgustingly easy compared to hard mode) while my cousin watched. As she is about the same age as Little Sister, her reaction to harvesting or rescuing was quite interesting. She told me to harvest them because they were "creepy." I would have thought that little kids would chosen the "rescue" option, but apparently that isn't the case. When I looked up other articles on Bioshock, I was quite surprised to see reviewers say "oh my 8 year old son/daughter came across me playing Bioshock and told me to harvest them." I don't know if this is is a universal thing, and I wouldn't advise anyone to park their little siblings/cousins/neighbours in front of Bioshock just to see their response to this, but it's just a random thought of the day.

Also, if you are interested in plastic surgery, you probably wouldn't want to go to this guy:

http://www.mdskinesthetics.com/   read


6:54 AM on 06.28.2008

The start of the affair: Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 2 (or Bare Knuckle 2, as it was known in Japan) was one of the first games I had ever played on the Sega Mega Drive. The first thing I noticed upon starting the game with my brother was that the characters on the select screen looked nothing like how they were portrayed on the box.





After actually starting the game properly, though, it was a blast.

The basic premise was this ‚Äď your friend has been kidnapped so go kick ass. You were dropped into a variety of environments, ranging from the streets, to construction sites, to beaches and jungles. You could dispatch enemies using hand-to-hand combat or with weapons lying about on the floor ‚Äď knives, lead pipes, katanas or even bombs enemies threw at you. You had to be quick though, or it would blow off in your hand.



It was ridiculously fun beating the crap out of the low-lives terrorising the city, especially on co-op mode. I’m not lying when I say that Streets of Rage 2 might have actually taught us the value of teamwork. Enemies could drop down on you from anywhere and you had to watch each other’s backs, especially if you had low continues.


GRAND UPPER!!

The bosses were pretty nuts ‚Äď ranging from obese baseball fans that liked to belly flop on top of you to guys on jetpacks whizzing just out of range and robots. Annoying little buggers they were as well, thanks to their small habit of self-destructing whenever they were about to die and their constant jumping around.

Streets of Rage 2 was not the first game we‚Äôd ever played. No, the first game we‚Äôd ever played fleetingly was Sonic the Hedgehog. But Streets of Rage 2 was the first game we had ever completed. Giving that last punch to Mr X and watching him fall down in slow-mo was incredibly satisfying. So satisfying in fact, it gave us the determination and drive to complete the other games we‚Äôd got ‚Äď Sonic, Rolling Thunder 2, Road Rash 2 etc. Most importantly, though, Streets of Rage 2 showed me that games could be fun and rewarding.

Oh, and yes, I‚Äôm new around here. Hi.   read


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