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About
Gaming Since: 1988 [Age 5]

First game Ever Played: Duck Hunt

First Game Completed: Duck Tales [NES]

Favorite Game of All Time: Panzer Dragoon Saga
Why? - Essentially flawless, epic storyline, had tech in-game that some games even today still fail to meet in some situations, and for its time had some of the highest detail FMV's going even topping FF7.

Favorite Franchise: Hitman Series
Why? - 47 is Silent but deadly. Unless your trying to mimic or follow a preset path only you have decided to take is any playthough simalar and in some situations AI in some situations is ever repeatedly the same something different is always going on thats different from last time even if your not directly seeing it. Hitman also maintains a sense of realism while maintaining colour unlike the higher level rendered games of brown and grey. I will love the Hitman series until 47 fibre wires me because I know too much >.>

Current five games looking forward to in any order:
Hitman: Absolution
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Mass Effect 3
Dragon's Dogma
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Spoiler Free

Admittedly I was never the biggest supporter of Arkham Asylum. Sure it had proved to be the best batman game ever created undoubtedly. Yet it was one of those games which seemed respectfully restrained with its license and the combat system was either a hit or miss with most players due to its combat system.

So with Arkham City you would be forgiven for initially assuming that Rocksteady had forgone the metroidvania route for a sandbox, akin to Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row just letting you play as Batman.

Well when the game begins you are treated to one of the best videogame introductions in recent memory. It simply sets the tone of what is to come. But it is beautifully disguised as the game’s tutorial which is quick and simple as the sequence.

Upon reaching the top of the ACE Chemicals building you are greeted by your first true vista of Arkham City, and it is dark and gritty and plastered with crime as you might imagine or flick through a Batman DC comic book and it appears very similar to scenes you can see there, even more so once you re ach your first gargoyle and get that iconic side view of Batman’s face against the background of Gotham City and Arkham City below; you are Batman.

Getting around is simplistic as it was previously but with some added feature’s. Previously Arkham Asylum wasn’t super big so there was no real need to glide long distances. Now there is as Arkham City is one huge horse shoe shaped expanse. You’re going to need multiple ways to get around, so enter dive bomb gliding. Simply hold the trigger for a moment, release hold the analogue stick so you pull up out of the dive, and you not only increase glide speed but occasionally gain height, and cover a satisfying amount of distance. When you begin learning you will probably make it from building to building, or from a good height a number of buildings before using the batclaw to grapple upwards to your location if you dip below, or are within reach of your location.

Eventually you will unlock a series of ‘Augmented Reality’ Training sections, successful completion of all of them granting you an advanced batclaw which helps improve your locomotion further and has a really badass takedown if you can execute it properly.
The combat system remains relatively unchanged just with some minor tweaks and additions allowing formerly unskilled combo chainers like myself to get combo’s up into the high twenties or on a good round, the mid to low thirties. But masters of the system will be easily raking in combo’s over one hundred in some scenarios, meaning they will be levelling up Batman’s combat skills a little faster than others may be due to the combat bonus multiplier for XP but even poor combo players will be maxing out the skills in time anyway.

One of the biggest criticism’s of Arkham Asylum was the lack of some of the cast, having them simply as easter eggs, and in some cases a lack of Robin the Boy Wonder in any shape or form. Well after going through the game’s roster the only significant omission I can think of is the lack of Nightwing who could have fitted in rather easily for a side mission cameo. But the third iteration of Robin aka Tim Drake is more than satisfying and welcoming.

Surprisingly the game’s comedy doesn’t come from who you may expect, but in the dry obvious observational humour of Alfred, I was roaring at some of his quirky comments.

If anyone complained or even hinted at the lack of bad guys in Arkham Asylum, they have very little room to manoeuvre now as the cast is packed to perfection playing upon the mythos and history of Batman to perfection, the gloves well and truly come off this time around and the key players in Arkham City create a perfect symphony of chaos, deceit, treachery, double-crossing, betrayal and scheming, I consider this not only the best Batman game of all time, but possibly one of the best Batman plots I have personally ever witnessed, from the handful of comics I have read, the entire filmography of Batman, and anything else Batman I have come across, only a number of storylines can contend with this one, but they tend to focus on one maybe two super villains, in this story there are at least eight I can think of without so much as looking at the roster of villains, Rocksteady & DC have done an amazing job.

The main storyline will probably last anyone who decides to never deviate from it ten or so hours. But thanks to the Riddler the time sink for fellow videogame kleptomaniacs such as me will find that they will be puzzling out the 400+, (yes there are over 400 to get.) will be searching these little babies out for a further ten plus hours alone, and if you get stuck, there are always the helpful Riddler informant’s who put the trophies in these places for Riddler in the first place, which explains so much and also gives you handy little map markers to find.

If you get the Catwoman code you not only get a prologue, and missions that break up and take place during the main story of Arkham City giving you control of Catwoman at genuine intervals of Batman’s story but you genuinely feel that the gameplay is different and unique, and a great contrast to Batman showing you how his technology makes it easy for him to disappear and appear depending on his situation, but you get to experience the agility of Catwoman and experience a little bit of a side story, which admittedly falls a little flat, but is one hundred percent typical Catwoman.

The combat/predator missions have been changed up a little bit in that they are integrated into multiple mission’s tasked to you by none other than the Riddler, an example of which being you will do three missions in one, two predator and one combat missions, your rating is then tallied and scored accordingly with the typical targets and parameters for you to complete. This makes it that much harder for people to exploit for quick times or perfect combos, the requirement now is to perfect all of them in a single sitting with limited amount of retries.

When it comes to ‘issues’ with the game, I genuinely cannot come up with anything that is broken or requires immediate fixing. I am sure some players somewhere have found a falling through the map glitch that may need a patch at some point, but once the costume packs for batman and all the rest come out Batman Arkham City can only ever improve in my eyes, and the room for actual DLC content possibly adding new villains and content to the game is just large enough to accommodate such a plan.

There is only one way to top Batman Arkham City, and that is for Rocksteady to take the time out and comeback in the four years or more required to give us the big expansive Gotham City proper we are treated to in the background, with an added playable batmobile, and batwing and giving us either an integrated batman and robin co-op campaign, or a separate batman and robin co-op campaign. If there is anything that can make this game more amazing, it is doing it legitimately with a friend over a good online co-op service with a messaging system if the host wishes to go into an interior location and the co-op partner has to accept. Also co-op Riddler puzzles, if the team at Rocksteady get a kick out of hiding these things so well which require a lot of player ingenuity to find in the first place, imagine the sadistic pleasure they would get out of making and hiding co-op based Riddler puzzles. Then better yet, imagine the feeling you the player will get out of solving the harder versions of these.

But as it stands if you rent Arkham City, I will be surprised if you don’t end up buying it or at the very least want it but just can’t afford it. This game is not just a must buy, it is a must play!

+ Arkham City is an amazing sandbox
+ One of the best Batman plots in the history of the franchise
+ Improved and increased roster of villains and heroes
+ Plenty to keep you occupied, find, and test your mental fortitude
+ You ARE Batman
- Still no co-op

10/10
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If you have never experienced the increase of a difficulty curve in a videogame before, and want to; look no further. Dark Souls is the perfect example of fun, immersion, depth and mind numbing rage.

Previously in Demon’s Souls you did a quick tutorial level, where the boss was intended to kill you, if you pulled off the next to impossible feat and slew him, you would be firmly punched in the face by one of the games later bosses and begin the game proper in The Nexus. The hub of everything and only bastion of safety from enemies and players seeking to kill you. Levels where separated and disconnected and unlocked checkpoints for every boss you managed to kill.

Dark Souls is fully interconnected, within the space of one giant city, Lordran. Your bastion of safety is the heat of a bonfire flame, to where you are the closet you will ever feel to 'safe'. If you venture beyond the safety of these scattered bonfires you will fight through undead armies, creatures of the deep, apparitions, to mythological creatures. And that’s not even including the bosses.

Demon’s Souls was a pretty big game, but it mainly depended on you farming the levels repeatedly for more souls, the games universal currency and experience points. Each stage of the way in Dark Souls seamless world you will be put to a challenge you must overcome. While the new players will die repeatedly, veterans of the previous game will find that it is nothing they cannot handle... to begin with.

Dark Souls unlike its predecessor, eases the player in where death is guaranteed on a repeated basis. But herein lays the thrill of a Soul’s games. Most games appeal to the audience to give them a crescendo with a boss fight. In Dark Souls the boss fight is something intended to batter you to your knees until you learn the proper way to defeat it, to which you then feel a massive amount of elation and achievement.

Dying is the most frustrating part, not because it was cheap, or because you where no way near something. If you die, it is not only completely your own fault, it is in aid of learning something new, or causes you to change up your tactics and become a better player. Death teaches you so many things in Dark Souls, be it the location of a trap if you managed to die by it or fall in it, potential ambushes, to in rare cases where you need to go next.

As a single player experience Dark Souls is one of the most brutal, unforgiving action RPG’s you can play today. While you can never exactly feel god like in the game, you will feel like a battle hardened warrior, priest, mage or whatever you make your own class to be.

Dark Souls took the immersion from the previous game, stuck you in it permanently and then quadrupled it in size and scope. When it comes to design it trumps its predecessor better than I could ever of hoped, the vistas are amazing, the world is connected just as good if not better than a Castlevania game, it is a marvel.

So what are its problems? Well just like before even if it is early days yet, the co-op has to be the biggest failure of this game. I know people who specifically bought this to play with friends only to find out that the game purposely blocks such interactions in every way possible. For me I got through the entire game by some fashion completely solo and only saw three summoning signs that weren’t AI companions you can unlock via the games covenant system.

At least in Demon's Souls you could at least work out a way to summon a friend or regular player without much fuss, and made the game infinitely more enjoyable and last much longer than it may have lasted as a completely solo experience.

So disjointed is the co-op system it seems that even the other aspect of the souls franchise, that it was made infamous for, the black phantom break-in’s fail to work a majority of the time. The connection errors on top of a limited co-op, causes the game to drop in overall difficulty by no one other than the occasional easy to kill AI phantom’s that have been added to break in once every blue moon.

Death is also no longer a penalty gone is the half-health for being dead negating the necessity to even become a human again. The only way your health drops to half is if you suffer the new status effect ‘curse’ which can remain a permanent side effect unless you have the purging stone to correct it, or see someone capable of breaking it.

If it wasn’t for the fact the first half of the game is a challenging walkthrough, any genuine attempt at determination and persistence can breakthrough, I doubt it would be as addictive as it is. The latter half of the game though soon cranks up to the difficulty demon’s souls players would expect from the game, until the last few stages where the game gets stupidly tough, to the point I believe regular players will never so much as finish regular New Game difficulty, let alone the NG+’s beyond a single completion.

The game quite literally takes you through its own versions of heaven and hell, and by the time you’ve possibly finished one run-through you will feel like you have been dragged through it yourself.

Dark Souls would have been the perfect game of this generation if its co-op wasn’t purposefully flawed. It refuses to hold your hand the same way ascending a mountain refuses to hold your hand, because eventually you will experience the vertical climb and the occasional overhang if you ever want to progress up the ladder on this beast of a game. Just don’t ever hope to get any help from your friends... as it won’t let you.

+ Perfect game for anyone who considers themselves a ‘hardcore gamer’.
+ A seamlessly woven world with both beautiful and disturbing scenery.
+ If you ever imagined a 3D third person Diablo game, this is as close as you will get.

- Co-op bans you from playing with people you want to co-operate with
- Connection errors if you ever try to get a game/invade a game
- Later stages will cause regular gamers to quit playing

8/10
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2011 has had some key moments, and none where so dramatic as the ‘Rockstar Pass’ for L.A. Noire in May. It was soon cloned by Netherrealms if nothing more but proof and belief in the method of which games of the future are about to potentially change.

Someone who follows gaming as closely as myself simply saw it coming, the moment L.A. Noire’s DLC plan was revealed. That paved the way for future digital distribution; Activision in their belief to deliver a high quality product will evolve the gaming retail market, cementing physical retail product as a genuine resource, and almost stamping out ‘100% digital distribution’ of gaming products as the preferred resource.

With Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3’s Hardened Edition, fans will receive a code in brand new copies of the game for the entire year’s planned DLC, for “free” (it’s not, but they promote it as such thinking you are paying for the other things inside the package). Retailing at a UK price point of £80 (£79.99) you get a full year’s subscription to Call of Duty Elite premium service package with founder membership, and artbook, a steelbook casing of the game and a twelve month DLC package from day zero, no need to pay when it releases, and download at your leisure.

Over the course of 2012, developers & publishers will become well aware of the success and the additional percentages of sales Call of Duty content & map packs will inevitably receive. The reason can be summed up as simple one word: ‘convenience’.

If you have been on Xbox Live from the first year of its release you will have noticed how (with the exception of Ghost Recon) map packs before Call of Duty took over from Halo as the ‘King of Multiplayer Shooters’, prices plateau’d and became very acceptable at 800MSP per map pack, and is still a moderate standard of pricing across any game not ‘Call of Duty’.

The map pack argument of 1200 points for 5 maps is something even I have been vocal about. And to this day have never bought a single CoD map pack. The debate will still rage on so long as CoD continues to be the exception to the ‘rule’ as it where.

Soon however with MW3’s Hardened Edition the shape of retail gaming is going to change as you will soon see on shelves not just special editions with art book’s or quirky plastic figurines of characters from the game offered at an increased price range to help maximise profit for publishers and developers. Soon those versions alone will become a lesser version of itself without offering pre-purchased DLC codes.

Limited Edition used to genuinely mean something, until the profits from Halo 3 threw the margins out of proportion, and suddenly every game and it’s grandmother started receiving some kind of box claiming it was some kind of special ‘Edition’ at a marginal but increased price point over the basic retail version of the game at the very least.

Things have since simmered down, Limited Editions are still as prominent as they have been in recent years but the quality has been ever increasing. EA never seemed to go for the big push on special editions in terms of collectible memorabilia, and instead choosing the new buyer code route, which gave the consumer ‘DLC’ exclusive to them that could either never be purchased or redeemed in future if bought second-hand.

This seemed to stir a wave of criticism and rather than effecting tiny single pieces of armour, or a character has reached levels of locking out single player content in id’s forth coming RAGE that can never be played by retro gamers in decades ahead, to locking out multiplayer on like likes of Medal of Honor or Dead Space 2 on EA’s side of things at least. But this is no issue for the new purchaser, and only effects people purchasing second hand and lacks any sense of foresight once the DLC is no longer available in the years to come.

The solution it seems, (for a reasonable additional pricing) is here. As physical copies of games no longer need to lock out content entirely, (see: Capcom & 2K Games) as the codes of new copies can offer this content without fear of pre-owned sales destroying profit margins.In the past if a game has the bad version of DLC known as ‘Disc Locked Content’ gamers would rage, and did so when Street Fighter 4 did this, and BioShock 2’s first DLC’s where already there ready and waiting, and promoted as if it had been made post-production. Even Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 2 was guilty of this ripping genuine content from the game which while not deemed a high priority to the games story was deemed underhanded and callous by the gamer community.

Soon all major game titles boasting ‘special edition’ will come with a redeemable code for future planned DLC at retail with a increased price tag that shouldn’t effect sale pricings as you will be buying the DLC and retailers passing on the profits directly. If anything, unwise store’s ordering too many copies will reach equilibrium. If they buy a regular game for sale at £35 to sell at £40 where they earn their profit, they need to sell four other copies of different games to make back what they lost on one single copy. Over ordering special editions at £80 due to DLC passes being included would see them level out on profits with pre-owned sales, and this seems to be the plan from a publisher’s side at least, as Quantic Dream reported £10 million losses on Heavy Rain due to pre-owned sales that saw only retailers receiving 100% of the profit recently.

Where is the bad news of this highly likely future of retail gaming for you, you might ask? Pre-made content or minimal DLC. It is an issue, and some evil/greedy company out there is going to do it, if the codes become the norm’ eventually. With trusted developer’s building Triple AAA titles, this won’t and can’t be an issue, and is most likely going to become the norm with those individual companies over time anyway. But depending on what comes with either a new IP or tacked on ‘special edition’ of a game in future will see a high price tag most likely at what will become the established price point and then deliver the equivalent of a character pack and horse armour; and that will be it.

The benefits of retail games offering these deals can be seen, and I think everyone interested in the sales margins will love to compare the previous sales of MW2 and Black Ops against MW3.

The leap of faith consumer’s must take if they want the premium version of a game that chooses to follow this path is large. But so long as full disclosure of what is to come in some respect, as to when the DLC is released, and how much of it is coming sets to pave the way for games of the future.

Digital download passes have proven to work, and established a clear interest amongst consumers, if it is the future of gaming only time will tell.

Do you question the price points of certain DLC still? Do you not see pre-purchasable DLC codes in retail packages as the future? What are your views on Limited Editions to begin with? Have you bought a pre-purchase DLC pass, if so what is your impression of such a feature? But more importantly do you think you would be more likely to buy a retail copy of a game at an increased but reasonable price and never need to worry about buying DLC in the future? Let me know what you think below.
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It has been a long time since we’ve seen a Deus Ex game, so long in fact human revolution almost seems to promote itself as a new franchise, while feeding off its rich history. Which is right, as there are a lot of new gamers out there compared to when the original launched on PC and eventually came to PS2, so to those of you who have never played any of the previous games buy this now, you need this game in your collection, end of discussion.

There are however long time fans such as myself who love Deus Ex and rather than getting a sequel to the JC Denton story created by Warren Spector, we get a prequel that takes place twenty-five years before the original, when humans are augmenting themselves with advanced limbs which are superior in function. This has caused a rift in the people by the games 2027 cyberpunk noire setting, and has purists ( anti-augmentation) protesting against the big companies such as Sarif Industries the company the main character Adam Jensen works for.

After a daring raid by mercenary special forces, equipped with weaponised augmentations, Adam is thrown through glass and is embedded in a machine, only to be further attacked, and shot in the head by one of the mercenaries, and left for dead.

Sparing the details, Jensen is brought back from the brink of death thanks to augmentation, and now returns as what can only be described as a Robocop version of Neo from The Matrix. This is where the game properly starts, and you can eventually go through the motions as you are introduced to your new equipment one by one, so as not to overwhelm new players to the series.

Deus Ex has always been about freedom of choice in terms of gameplay, and intelligent written story and dialogue. For the most part it nails both, the gameplay is nailed perfectly and is possibly more open and free to tackle as the player sees fit than ever before, and is bordering on faultless except for that one time I found an enemy lodged in a wall. The writing though shows it’s intelligence through the science and plausibility of the technology in the game, rather than the dialogue.

What I mean by that is previously the other games spoke sometimes at length with an almost political and ethical debate at times while adding some occasional comic moments, intentional or not via cheesy dialogue. Human Revolution seems to lack this trait, if only for an exempt character I will not speak of, but it does shine a bright golden ‘is this ethical?’ spotlight over this sort of subject matter.

When I mentioned freedom of choice in the gameplay earlier, I was not joking, even though we have seen many games try this and fail hard in the time between invisible war and now, the game itself wants to mix both action and stealth. If you want to play this like its Call of Duty with an RPG element thrown in, go ahead, if you also want to play at Solid Snake, or I guess in this case Augmented Snake, the options and gameplay mechanic are there also. Want to skip a fetch quest and get the information you want directly on rare occasion? You can thanks to dialogue options. Don’t know the code to the gate, or have sufficient ‘hacking’ skills to bypass the lock? In other games you might encounter the fabled ‘invisible wall’ in this scenario, not so, grab some barrels and crates, and build yourself a stair case, you can honesty do it, and feel reward and satisfaction when you do get past it. However it’s most likely the code is as simple as ‘0002’; c'est la vie. The freedom of choice in the way you play has never been more open to you, and this is what makes Deus Ex.

Another thing of note is that through the conspiracy story Deus Ex games have always played upon, in your quest to seek out the truth, and seek vengeance against those who have wronged you in some way. There has always been a globetrotting element, in the original you went to a number of major cities working with multiple factions and ultimately you are given a choice.

This is played down somewhat in Human Revolution and is a little disappointing in how there are only two genuine cities to traverse in, yet when you focus on the main storyline you do tend to hop about a bit around these cities into areas you can’t get to while in an exploration state, which is indicated by the fact of Jensen isn’t wearing his jacket.

But the key thing to note about these two cities are that not only do they feel like miniature sandboxes with multiple tiers and complexities, it is that they are the most highly detailed environments you will have ever explored in videogame history. There is so much detail going on without over powering you with useless inanimate objects it looks exactly like a futuristic pair of cities, with unique visual styles, Detroit and Shanghai can offer.

There is only one flaw with Human Revolution and I cannot go into detail about it. But suffice to say the conclusion to Dues Ex has greatly impacted the world at large Human Revolution is handcuffed by its prequel status, and it can’t be blamed for that. I can only hope Human Revolution becomes the financial success it deserves to be, so that Eidos Montreal can use the same engine to build a genuine sequel to the conclusions of Invisible War, or at the very least give us a HD remake of the original, one of the two needs to happen, as Deus Ex is a series that should never die out ever again. If you don’t get this game, you don’t know what a real game is – fact.

+ The most awesomely detailed environments in videogame history.
+ More freedom of choice than ever before.
+ Verbal boss battles as well as classic boss battles.
- Shackled by being a prequel rather than sequel
- You have to learn hacking to get the most out of the game
- Too much hacking, but it’s at least fun to do.

10/10
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Would you be insane to drop 1200msp on this game, or would you be insane not to?

What Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (ITSP) is, is a spaceship metroidvania title, which is reminiscent of the old NES title Solar Jetman, mixed with last year’s Hit arcade game Limbo art style, just with an added dash of colour.

It has been a while since a metroidvania game has come to XBLA since Chair’s awesome Shadow Complex; however the later had massive amounts of plot, and dialogue throughout its adventure. But ITSP is silent as a deadly mouse that trundles along barely uttering a pew, pew, pew sound effect.
The basic synopsis is that an alien space virus comes and absorbs your little alien characters nearest sun, terraforming it into a giant black thorny shadow planet, it’s debris from the explosion causes it to spread to your little corner of the world, and you begin a journey to eradicate it, before it engulfs your planet.

Soon enough you will be hovering around the engulfed sun, killing bosses, and finding power-ups, artifacts and concept art collectibles. The cooler features of the single player campaign is when you do start finding the collectibles, they will reveal the origins of the infection, piece by piece. Only rewarding you with the full cinematic once you have collected them all.

The puzzles, are a treat specifically the snow zone, using ice mirrors to reflect laser beams to open the way forward, or cut ropes you have no access too, is just clever design, another puzzle has you pushing and moving blocks to get a item you need to progress through a wall, in another area, you have to get to, but in a completely blocked off section, and you have to do it fast enough before the level forces your spaceship even further down the line, making it a chore to get back up, and try again. It is little moments of genius like this that make you forget about the clock, and keep you playing.

It is kind of an issue, because if you have a strict amount of hours, you will be wondering where the heck all that time went. From beginning to completion you could do the entire thing in a day 100 percenting the campaign, but you are looking at a three hour speed run, or a twelve hour marathon session, wondering why you are having so much fun, finding all the nooks and crannies you have yet to discover. The silent progression and minimal story help keep you playing, as you just look forward to seeing what is next.

Boss fights have always been a staple of what metroidvania style games have to offer players. Some are strategic; some are over complicated puzzles, while others are just a war of attrition combining gunplay and clever positioning. ITSP has them all on offer, as they are all uniquely designed and test your wits perfectly to the progression of the game.

As the campaign is not quite as good as say Shadow Complex, or a Castlevania or old school metroid, it makes up for it in plain fun, and visual eye candy. You cannot seriously go through all these unique zones, and not find something you like visually, from the clever usage of snowflake enemies or the pinball machine area, or the cool enemy designs which fit perfectly into the world and feel menacingly evil.
ITSP can see its faults it seems in this. So it offers players a second mode which can be played with up to four players co-operatively in ‘Lantern Run’. It is slightly expected of you as a player to have reached a certain amount of completion within the campaign to understand the concept of the lantern run, as it is a part of the campaign in one section. The idea is simple, take your lantern as far as you can, while killing as many enemies as you can, while finally staying ahead of the ever encroaching dark, blood red eyed squid/tentacle monster hell bent on eating you or your lanterns. It is game over if either all the lanterns are destroyed or all the players die.

I cannot stress how fun and enjoyable this mode is with a friend or random players, the feeling of doing better, or reaching a new personal best with each run is awesome, there can never be a winner, but you can always be the best survivor.

You play it twenty times and no one run will be the same as each run can produce new chambers to navigate, while item drops can be randomised between health or raygun upgrades, while each ‘arena’ you clear can produce one random cycling upgrade some are helpful in clearing enemies along your path, others can help unlock path options that are way safer than other routes.

Every average run will last between five or ten minutes, with good runs lasting nearer thirty minutes. So when you start your evening of gaming at say 6pm, and when you need a break only to see it is past midnight, you know a game is fun.

Going on the campaign alone, I would say ITSP is intended for those that enjoy metroidvania designed games, with room enough for new players to get into and enjoy its easy but challenging gameplay, however it isn’t the best example out there even on XBLA with Symphony of the Night and Shadow Complex for company. Yet Lantern Run is full of replayability and gameplay that if this mode alone was all you had, I would be willing to pop 800msp alone for it, so to say you get a fully realised campaign and this awesome four player co-op on top it is worth its price of entry, and if you are sitting on the fence for this title, you insane not to have jumped off it yet, especially if you have got all the other examples already. This is your arcade game of the year, let alone the summer.

+ Great gameplay
+ Fun
+ Loads of replayability
+ Art style is beautiful
- Campaign is a little on the short side
- Leaderboards only update the host’s scores


9/10
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It’s been a while since I’ve had any interest in a God sim’ of any sort since Peter Molyneux’s Black & White. Though From the moment it was unveiled From Dust (FD) showed some potential, rather than nursing a number of villagers and catering to them, you are literally in control of, and protector against the elements.

The campaign mode consists of thirteen lands the first ease you in, with little challenge and give you enough to get to grips with the controls, which are easy to learn. Utilizing them to aid you through each land is tricky to master, but by no means impossible. The stakes are raised significantly with each land, and before you know it you will be trying to figure out how to raise a village from the ocean floor as a tsunami washes away any land around it in significant intervals, or channelling lava to stop it incinerating your starting village.

The final few levels throw every element at you at once, and while a nightmare tactically to navigate, witnessing what happens to the land, is amazing, the finale is a treat to anyone who had been asking it in their minds as they play through these levels.

Playing God in FD is a treat, as while you rely on your villages to be protected from the elements with some ancient magic’s which appear as kites on totems at the centre of each village once a shaman brings them to the village, they can repel tsunami’s and giant lava flows in the path of a central volcano’s path.

The object of each land is to essentially populate it from its starting barren form, and make villages 80% of which can offer you powers to gather more earth to create paths, or turn water into jelly in an instant, and absorb flood waters and save a village from drowning for example. Once you build every village, you can then make your way to the exit gateway, which will end the zone. The difference you can make from beginning to the end of each territory is just pure eye candy.

Because FD is a sandbox of different scenarios, you can be flexible in how you approach a good amount of levels. Sure for some you are rigid in how each level begins, but I sincerely doubt any two players did things the exact same way, and this is the brilliance I found in FD. Sure you can solve a puzzle of drying out a flooded zone one way, but you have plenty of different ways in which to do it, effectiveness be damned those options exist.

Even when you are done, making the zones forested, finding the hidden totems, and saving the villages, there are thirty more challenge maps for you to complete, all with their own objectives, and requirements, and some maps are even more extreme than the main campaign.

You can get your money’s worth from FD, however once all is said and done, there is little else to do, even bettering yourself on the challenges, seems a pointless exercise considering the ‘leaderboard’ is restricted to friends only, while each level is played out to a story for the villagers, there is no real story to speak off, this is one game where you tell yourself, ‘it is about the journey, not the end.’

I just genuinely hope FD gets a sequel, but this time adding a tangible story to follow to reward progress to the player, and a editor/upload feature. Trails HD’s success mainly comes from this feature as limited as it was, and it is one thing FD could have been amazing with, as player create their own sadistic, but completeable challenges, over a number of templates. Otherwise if FD receives no support it is simply a very, very good weekend experience, with a limited amount of replay value based on individual player’s attention span and imaginations.

That said though, From Dust 2 could easily be a full on retail release if the suggestions above are put in along with a batch of brand new levels. My advice for anyone not 100% about a purchase is to try the game first, while I’m sure it is barebones in comparison to the final product, the final level is worth reaching for anyone who gets it.

+ Pure Eye Candy
+ Simple & Fun
+ Gives life to a return to a console God Sim
- Would be surprised if it had people playing it for longer than three months after purchase
- No genuine create a map feature beyond the finale
- Limited Replay Value Overall


8/10

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