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 XBox 360. I guess my favourite games are the Metal Gear series, Devil May Cry series, Bioshock, Crash Bandicoot series (PS1), Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Gears of War and Halo.
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.
This is the first Tomb Raider game that I've played since Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III back on the PS1. That was ages ago, but this reboot still felt very familiar. They've managed to keep the atmosphere while updating the gameplay.
The game begins when Lara’s ship crashes onto the island of Yamatai, which has been taken over by an insane cult called the Solarii Brotherhood. Unlike the previous Tomb Raider games I've played, Lara stays on that island and doesn't visit other countries. I really enjoyed the beautiful setting. You can explore the forests, the beach, the ancient Japanese buildings and the mountainside. There’s also a sense of history as you can see the shanty town and the fortress that the current crazed inhabitants live in, as well as the abandoned bases and shipwrecks from the survivors that were stranded in Yamatai before the Solarii arrived.
Lara starts off with no weapons at all, but you eventually build your arsenal up until she becomes a one-woman army. Lara automatically crouches when entering a combat situation and moves between cover seamlessly. This is very helpful as enemies go out of their way to flush you out; they'll shoot flaming arrows at Lara and send armoured goons after her. You can switch quickly between weapons on the d-pad and “scramble” to avoid enemy gunfire. When the fight is over, Lara straightens up and you back to exploring the island again. One issue I had was with the camera – during a one-on-one-fight, if I was targeting an enemy and scrambled to the side of said enemy, the camera would go directly behind Lara and I’d have trouble seeing where my opponent was.
One thing I really appreciated about this game is finding all the collectables (relics, documents, GPS caches) accumulates experience points which go towards acquiring new skills. Finding the hidden tomb and solving the puzzle also nets you additional skill points and experience. This is totally unlike Assassin’s Creed 3, the game I’d played before this one, where Connor collects feathers…for the sake of collecting feathers. Sure it’s nice to get achievements, but I’d like to see it have an affect on gameplay as well. The secret tomb puzzles also felt like the classic Tomb Raiders I’d played back on the PS1.
You can also hunt animals and look for crates that contain salvage in order to upgrade your current weapons. Some of the weapons have secondary uses as well. Lara can use the climbing axe to climb rocky walls and shoot a rope across gaps to climb across.
Plot-wise, I think the game was average. We see Lara grow from a vulnerable young woman to a hardened veteran. There is also an explanation as to why no-one can get off the damn island once they realise how dangerous it is. However, the crew of the Endeavour aren’t as fleshed out as Lara, and come across as two-dimensional. They get at least one diary entry each. I also didn’t think the head of the Solarii was particularly memorable either. I would have liked it if the Queen of Storms messed around with the weather a bit more. Something that was similar to how Groudon and kyogre messed with the routes in Pokémon Emerald.
Overall, I feel Tomb Raider was an excellent reboot of a much beloved series and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.
Hitman: Absolution is fun, but flawed. It’s immensely satisfying when you find a way to kill your target “accidently” instead of garrotting them or using a silenced gun. You can eliminate targets by poisoning food, blow someone up by swapping the hot sauce for lighter fuel, electrocute a target and so on.
There are also a variety of levels – from the crowded streets of Chinatown, to a science laboratory and even a courtroom. Personally my favourite levels were hunting down Lenny’s gang and strolling through Chinatown.
However, there are moments which ruin the immersion. One of the first things I had noticed was you could kill guards in the middle of a radio conversation. In the Metal Gear Solid games there was no way you could do that without backup being sent.
Sometimes guards detect objects being thrown and sometimes they don’t, even if it is only a few metres away from them. When they do investigate, it’s in a totally unrealistic fashion. If someone threw a water bottle near you, you don’t inspect it thoroughly like you’ve never seen a plastic bottle before. You might take a quick glance and then head in the direction the bottle was thrown.
This is the first Hitman game I’ve ever played and was surprised that Hitman: Absolution felt more like a stealth game then an assassination game. A lot of time is spent ducking and hiding behind tables and pillars, thanks to a strangely implemented disguise system. In theory, Agent 47 is supposed to be able to knock out someone (say a policeman) and wear their clothes. As long as he keeps his distance from the people he’s impersonating he shouldn’t get spotted. What actually happens is as soon as you poke your head out of the doorway, a policeman on the other side of the room is immediately suspicious of you and you end up having to sneak around and roll behind cover as though you never had a disguise in the first place. You even get spotted when you’re impersonating someone whose face is covered by a mask. In this case, Agent 47 should really only be suspicious if he’s acting oddly.
The plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. In fact, I am sure that the developers came up with the levels first, then concocted a plot around the different locations. The second reason is actions the player takes isn’t reflected in some cut scenes. For example, there’s a level where Agent 47 infiltrates a wrestling match in order to interrogate one of the wrestlers on the whereabouts of a kidnapped teenager. But in the actual level, I shot him with a sniper gun. The game then jumps to Agent 47 kicking back at a Hawaiian themed motel and getting attacked by the Saints before heading to Hope. How did he know where to go? I never spoke to the guy, I just shot him.
I also didn’t really understand the point of the Saints. The entire hotel segment could have removed and it wouldn’t have any impact on the plot or gameplay whatsoever. The Saints are just wedged awkwardly between the two levels like a square peg in a round hole. They are far too over the top and contradictory – in the cut scenes they destroy an entire hotel with missile launchers yet in the actual game they are just wandering about in their fetish nun costumes.
In my opinion, I think they should have been far more trigger-happy, destroying scenery if they even caught a whiff of Agent 47, or, removed the hotel segment altogether and made them a constant threat. So while Agent 47 is sneaking around killing targets, there is also a Saint sneaking around in disguise, trying to kill him.
Overall, I feel that Hitman: Absolution is a flawed stealth game. I preferred the parts where you had to eliminate a target and work out ways to kill them. I didn’t really find running away from the police or goons as enjoyable, and even those segments could have been better if the disguise system was well thought out.
The announcement of Pokémon X and Y has been one of the few times I've genuinely been excited about a new Pokémon game. The last time this happened, I was 12 years old and a classmate had the American import of Ruby. I marvelled at its graphics and the new features such as tag team battles. I couldn’t wait to get my own copy. In 8 months’ time (North America got Ruby and Sapphire in March; Europe got them in November).
Since then, the later games haven’t made quite that same leap. Obviously, there have been major graphical and gameplay improvements since then, but they were added gradually.
The trailer for Pokémon X and Y definitely looks like a major change. Pokémon battles are now in 3D and there’s proper animation for attacks. Not to mention the games will be released worldwide in October. AT THE SAME TIME.
The trailer begins with Pikachu announcing the game. Interestingly enough, Pikachu is standing on top of the Eiffel Tower.
The first bit of in-game footage we see is our male protagonist looking at himself in the mirror. I’ll admit I'm not a huge fan of his design, he looks a like a plainer version of Hilbert from Pokémon Black and White. It does make me wonder if we can customize the way our trainer looks like.
I think that these three places shown are the Gyms. In the first one our protagonist is swinging from a rope onto a green platform. There are safety nets and signs telling you where to land, so I’m guessing that this is the Grass themed gym. The second one looks like the Bug Gym, with a bouncy spider’s web. The third one is the Psychic gym, only with a new twist on the teleportation pad. You don’t just appear in a room, the room reassembles around you. I think the red, stained-glass room with fire shooting out of the tubes is the Fire Gym.
Prediction: The first Gym is Rock, the sixth Gym is Ice and the last Gym will be Water or Dragon.
The Unova region from Pokemon Black and White and Pokemon Black and White 2 was supposed to be based on New York. Based on the buildings and architecture shown so far, I wonder if this new region is based on Paris (hence Pikachu standing on top of the Eiffel Tower) or Europe in general. In this scene on the left, our protagonist is wearing roller skates, which I don’t think has appeared in previous games before. The new region is also very green, like Hoenn from Ruby and Sapphire.
There’s a desert area. The buildings look like Mount Battle from Pokémon Colosseum. I think these are temporary science labs, maybe as part of an excavation site?
Here are our three main starters – Chespin, Froakie and Fennekin. I personally have always picked a Fire starter since Red and Blue. The first time around it was because I thought Charizard was the coolest looking one of all. It’s a dragon, what’s not to like about that? The second time around, when I picked Cyndaquil, I assumed that it would be a lot easier to find Grass and Water type Pokémon early on in the game then a Fire type. I wanted to make a balanced team. Now it’s just force of habit. I probably will pick Fennekin, and end up utterly disappointed if its evolution turns out to be a Fire/Fighting type Pokémon again.
Prediction: Chespin is Grass/Fighting, Froakie is Water/Ice and Fennekin is Fire/Psychic.
I realise that this isn’t the final game, but I wonder if the most of the HUD elements have been moved to the bottom screen. There’s no HP or Experience bar and there’s no text telling you the attack was super effective. There seems to be different animations for all the attacks and different reactions from all the Pokémon. The camera is also more dynamic.
When the first couple of Pokémon games came out, I was really interested in catching them all and seeing a completed Pokedex. But nowadays there just so many to keep track of, and some of them still can’t be obtained without cheating, like Arceus. I now find myself being far more interested in training, building a team and exploring the new areas. That’s something I like about the Pokémon series, there’s something for everyone.
Finally we have the legendries: Yveltal and Xerneas. I read that Ho-oh was based on the Pheonix, so I’m wondering if Yveltal is based on the Roc, an enormous legendary bird in Persian mythology that could carry elephants away. Xerneas’ design looks a bit like the forest spirit from Princess Mononoke. There’s only been one legendary grass type so far (I think), so it would be good to have another one.
Prediction: Yveltal is Psychic/Flying and Xerneas is Psychic/Grass.
I think there’s a third legendary beginning with Z and the final game for this generation will be Pokémon Z, as a reference to the X, Y and Z co-ordinates representing three dimensions. This Pokémon Z might be Physic/Water.
So there you have it, my speculations on Pokémon X and Y. What theories do you have, and what do you hope to see in the new games?
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 characters’ 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 Karim’s 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 – 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. It’s a shame really, because I saw the trailer for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and thought the premise was interesting. However I don’t think I'll be playing that soon. I just wish the rest of the game was as intriguing as the very first episode.
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 ‘FATE 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. He’s such an endearing character and his dialog is just perfect. It’s exactly how I would imagine a dog would speak and talk. I also think that Sissel’s 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, it’s a bit pricey for a DS game that really hasn’t got any replay value. I think it might have been better at a cheaper price on the iOS. [Edit: Sorry, it is available at Ł6.99 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?
Dead Space 2 was a very enjoyable game. It’s 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, “We’ve been going around in circles!” 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, it’s the not the rushing that creeps me out, it’s 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. It’s constantly crying out in pain before spewing out smaller monsters that can attack at a distance.
Funnily enough, I found Nicole, Issac’s 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 Issac’s 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 Don’s death. Whereas Issac tried his best to cope with the flasbacks and hallucinations, he didn’t 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 else’s 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 Issac’s eye just to get Marker information. A needle! In your eye! That’s just wrong, and it’s 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 he’s 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. It’s like N’s room in Pokémon 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 didn’t 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 didn’t pick enough of.
As mentioned previously, I’m a console gamer, and I found using keyboard controls on the PC a bit difficult. I couldn’t 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 there’s 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?