Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Could last-gen game pricing return?

I'm sure all of you have been gaming for a while. You might be a little annoyed about the current price of games of about £50 brand new in a shop when in 2004 you could get a brand new game for £30 online.

The good news is, this may start to stop. I managed to snag Fallout 3 for £19.50 delivered from Gamestation a few weeks back (yes, I will review it but I need to finish the damned thing, it's a monster,) and I was impressed. I've been looking around the shops and even Gears 2 is going for £35 in store these days. What the hell is happening?

That's where the bad news comes in. The world economy is dying on its arse. Whilst this means we can now get a litre of petrol for less than a quid again (yay!) it means millions are losing their jobs. The high street chain Woolworths closed it's doors recently and others such as The Officers Club (clothing chain) and Zavvi (they sold games too, so that's a shame) have gone under. Whilst it sucks that people are losing their jobs we have to focus on the bright side, and that is the chance that these new game prices will stick. Who will pay £50 for Gears 2 a few months after it was £35? Very few people. We do have to be aware that all these low prices could just be post christmas bargains and revert to the insane prices of last year, but I doubt that.

Let's hope we can take one of the few good things about this depression and keep it going. £50 for a 360 game (espeically if it was an Xbox port like Far-Cry instincts) was bleeding outrageous.

You can read more about the American side of this issue at Kotaku. If you want to learn more about this event in the UK, I suggest you step outside and go shopping. It's hard to miss.

Article By: Edwin Jones

Saturday, 20 December 2008


According to The Sun, ten people a WEEK are hospitalised with wii injuries, normally shoulder or knee pains.

“It’s possible that Wii-itus may lead to rheumatism and arthritis in later life. Patients often have inflammation of the shoulder or wrist.”

Doctors even recommend stretching before playing Wii games. If you said that to someone in america, they would literally have no clue what you were on about, stretching? sounds like a way of cooking something for them.

Article by: William Stephen

Thursday, 18 December 2008

End of Time for the Timesplitters Team?

According to CVG, Free Radical, the team behind games such as the timesplitter series (decent) and haze (not so decent) are another british company to undergo administration.

Though the company has been filed for administration, they are still saying its business as usual.

"We will be spending the next three or four days assessing the financial position of the company but it's business as usual, although we have asked that almost all of the employees apart from a skeleton crew remain at home."

So despite being on a skeleton crew its business as normal? Hardly. Less gaming companies though mean the industry isnt "recession proof".

Article by: William Stephen

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Danger Danger! Youtube gets shakened!

Just found this now but has been around a while. Wario land shake it!, known as shake dimension here has a special youtube video. Look for yourself here!

Article by: William Stephen

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Gamestation, bah humbug!

While you may have seen adverts for loads of cheap prices from gamestation and other places, that doesnt mean they are not scrooges. If you remember a while back I posted that Gamestation gave me a broken Lancer Rifle. Well the idiots forgot to keep extra stock incase such an event happen, so when I sent an email asking where my replacement is, they said they refunded me instead, without telling me beforehand!

Now this wouldnt bother me if this was just another game, but this isnt a game, it is a rare piece of memorabilila, with only 5000 made. On ebay the prices are already 3 times what the RRP was and it was only out last month!!

After complaining harshly to them through emails they have sent the bog standard "looking into your situation" email which will probably lead to nothing. It annoys me that a gaming company can just ignore something like this, and I really hope they do something for a change. If not, then I may just start a campaign!

Article by: William Stephen

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Want to get a new 'Jasper' Xbox 360? Here is how to recognise one.

Got an Xbox 360? Tired of it dying on you all the time? We might possibly have the solution. As you may know, a new model of the 360 has launched codenamed: Jasper. It has it's own internal flash memory as MS seem to have admitted an optional memory storage device was a bit dense. It's also got a 45nm chipset which is a lot smaller than older 360 models and should also be a lot cooler. As 360's mostly die due to overheating problems or problems related to overheating, (that's why wrapping it in a towel and cooking it for a few minutes brings it back for an hour or two,) this should mean a 'Jasper' unit will be more RROD resistant.

This is only a logical estimate, but it makes sense. Generally new tech is more reliable than the old, but this IS the 360 we are talking about, it could still die on you for no reason.

Anyway, if you want to know if you have a shiny new Jasper set, here is the trick. To quote Kotaku:

"It's all in the amps. If the back of a 360 says 12.1 amps, it's a Jasper, and you're free to enjoy the cooler, safer experience that brings with it. If it's any higher than 12.1, it's an older unit, you lucked out."

You can read more about this story here.

Article by: Edwin Jones

Monday, 8 December 2008

Nintendo sell 800k Wiis in a week in the US alone.


800,000 Wii consoles, in a week? Even a week this close to Christmas? To put this in perspective I shall quote Kotaku:

"That matches the Wii's sales in the U.S. for the entire month of October and more than doubles the number of Wiis sold during the same week the year prior, according to Reuters."

And Microsoft were saying they did well this month? Who the heck keeps buying these things - Wii Fit and Wii sports are not that good, surely even the elderly have figured that out? Why do Nintendo still allow shortages every Christmas even years after the Wii launched?

We will never know.

You can read more about this story here.

Article by: Edwin Jones

Capcom Europe giving free stuff!

I thought this might interest alot of people who love the street fighter games and other capcom gems. On the Capcom Europe forums, they are holding giveaways for exlcusive memoribila, such as XBLA codes, as well as signed prints from the legendary ono-san. All you need to do is "wave" in the particular giveaway thread and then they choose a winner from everyone who waves. Simple! Sign up here to get started. The giveaways are located in general chat and will normally be one every couple days. Best thing is, very few people take part in these comps so your chances of winning are very high

The pic above is what I won from them.


Article By: William Stephen

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Cat killed by GTA 4?

Two boys have accused of beating and killing a cat by hanging it with a game controller on a tree. What's been suggested is that the kids did this because they played GTA IV. Despite admitting to this, the boys can't be convicted of any crime because of state law.

Will this ever stop?!

Article by: William Stephen

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 is set in the future. And the future means cleavage exaggerating military uniforms. Viva la revolution!!

The game starts as an insane Tim Curry entices his General into an experimental Time Machine that sends them back in time and knocks off poor old Albert Einstein. This is meant to ensure that much of the technology used by allied forced to defeat the Soviets never get invented. However, lesson 1 in the laws of science fiction tells you over and over not to mess with the fabric of the space/time continuum, and sure enough, an alternative future results. One where the Soviets stayed together (not just for the sake of the kids) but bizarrely the allies are no weaker as a result. That said, picking holes in a plot so unashamedly over-the-top is like two bald men fighting over a comb, but I digress. The surprise you discover soon into the game, is that without Einstein's existence, the allies didn't have the technology to beat the Japanese either, and the Empire of the Rising Son has, well, risen complete with ownership of Pearl Harbour.

You take control of all three factions, each with a unique storyline and outcome. The accents change but the premise remains largely the same. You are a rookie commander who works his way up by completing missions, and capturing the hearts of the gorgeous intelligence officers who brief you in HD cut scenes before each mission. The latter are played by a buxom looking Gemma Atkinson (my you've grown), stunning former Bond girl Ivana Miličević and some plain looking Japanese woman who claims to be a former MIss Teen USA, but compared to the other two looks like as rough as the proverbial badgers arse.

The missions grow in difficulty as you progress, but the road to victory is always the same; build a base, build mines for credits, build up your military and destroy the enemy targets. I haven't always been a fan of the C&C series, particularly on consoles where I find they don't sit quite right. But try as I might not to like this game, it proved impossible not to be engrossed in the mayhem. In gaming, there aren't that many feelings that can top the moment your 30-deep cavalry come into view on screen to assist your battered comrades. You find yourself getting quite worked up.

The units themselves are easy to get to grips with, and it doesn't take long before you learn their strengths and weaknesses. The Allied vehicle infantry is weaker than the Empire's for example, but excels in the aircraft department over the other two. But perhaps the best feature of this version, is that you can choose to play each mission in co-op play. You can also take the battle to Xbox LIVE for 3 missions of co-op scrimmage.

The game is definitely worth a shout, if only for the cut scenes that also feature George Takei, a gorgeous Jenny McCarthy, former Bond villain Jonathan Pryce and UFC legend Randy Cotoure.

Review by: Mark Richards

Banjo Kazooie is now available on the Xbox Live Arcade

One day I will kill you big bear, and then I will be the famous one.

The title pretty much says it all but for those of you who weren't born during or before the nineties Banjo Kazooie was a rather good game of the decade, being one of the first 3D platforming games and second in command of the genre on the N64 behind Mario 64.

It's not aged so well compared to all our modern luxuries in our current games, but for those of you with a pair of rose tinted glasses to spare, give the demo a whirl and remember the good old days of console FPS games being limited to 4 player split screen death-match.

Actually, scratch that. Just focus on the good platforming stuff. Try not to wince at the 1200 MS points price though.

You can read more about this story here.

Article by: Edwin Jones

Monday, 1 December 2008

RROD Finished?

According to, the new set of 360s, nicknamed Jasper, theoretically solve the problem that causes the dreaded red rings of death.

"The biggest improvement made to the Jasper model is that it uses a smaller 65-nanometer graphics chip, which will consume less power than previous Xbox 360 chips and fit more securely in its motherboard socket. That means it's far less likely to overheat and come lose from the motherboard"

To help with the New Xbox Experience, internal memory has been added to the Jasper 360's. This means even arcade consoles will be able to use the New Xbox Experience without a hard drive.

Let's not get our hopes up too much yet though. It's been 3 years and there are still countless complaints of RROD, so let's wait a few months and see what happens.

Article by: William Stephen

There are far too many games to play this Xmas

I’ll admit it ok. I’m spoilt. I’m really spoilt these days. There was once upon a time though when I was only allowed two games a year. I’d get one for my birthday and one for Christmas. Nowadays I can pretty much do what the fuck I want ‘cos I’m old enough damn it.

In the days of the 16bit era with my two games a year limit enforcement rule I would have to be really selective on what games I wanted. You see if I bought a stinker I was pretty much stuck with it for about 6 months until Xmas or my Birthday next came up (whichever came first). Nowadays though I am too cash happy and will get anything that takes my fancy.

Now generally, that’s ok but this festive period even I have too many games to play. And when you’re working full time you don’t always get the time to play them either, meaning that my collection just builds up and up like figures in Nintendo’s bank account. I have a large back catalogue of games to play which will probably take me until next Xmas to get through.

I have a ridiculous amount of games to play fully that came out this year, including Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Little Big Planet, Gears of War 2, Fable 2, Left4Dead, Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, Saints Row 2, Banjo and Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Mortal Combat Vs DC, Lego Batman, Guitar Hero World Tour, CoD5, and numerous others I’ve probably forgotten to put down. How much is that? Over £500 worth surely? Sheesh.

It’s not me though. I was forced to buy all of these games at gunpoint. Honest. Or maybe I just can’t help myself, I see a new title and I can’t help but want to add it to my collection. It’s like people who buy books to show off their ‘library’ only to find out that they can’t actually read. I can read. And I can play games. Maybe it’s all because of the way I was tormented as a child? I could only get a couple of games a year and now I’m out to rebel. Or maybe the real criminals in all of this are the publishers, with all the awesome game promote-ry ways. They know mugs like me will pick up any half decent title that comes into our view. But where were these clean shirts during the summer when I was crying out to the gaming god for some new titles? Oh that’s right, we got Haze. Thanks. It was like getting an awesome cake for your birthday made to look like one of your favourite things only for it to be made of dog shit and full of disease infected needles. But as well as torturing us, they were out planning on screwing us over at Xmas. Crazy publishers. Hey, I’ve got an idea, why don’t we all release our titles at the same time over Xmas and fight over the public’s cash during an economic crisis. Brilliant.

If you’re smart enough, you can get one or two of your choices for Xmas, but wait for anything else that interests you in the sales, or best yet Summer time next year. When no doubt there will be fuck all new games on the shelves.

Publishers eh, they’re a crazy bunch. Now I’m off to buy some new games.

Article by: Wesley Lock

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Gears of War 2 Review - Xbox 360

Editor's Note: Here we go. It's taken a while, but with this review we are coming to the end of the glut of the Christmas review season and on to better pastures. Bring on 2009! Ahem.

Gears of War 2. Perhaps the most important title of the season for Microsoft and the Xbox, if not the whole market in general. This is the Halo 3 or Half Life 2 of 2008. Does it live up to hype? The answer is: yes, but some of you are still going to hate it.

Gears 2 is a very, very good game. If you have played the original Gears of War, you know what to expect. Insanely beautiful graphics, the best ever seen on the modern consoles. Brutal, gory gameplay with more gibs than anything you have ever seen - hell, you can chainsaw people in half. Co-operative play which puts its rivals to shame and more action than the lovechild of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger could produce.

The game takes all these expectations and knocks them up to 11 instead of a mere 10. The graphics look even better than before, with more detail and they are much crisper. They actually make the graphics of the original Gears look a bit poor in comparison and this isn't a Playstation 4 or PC game. The co-op is even better as well - not only can you join any game in progress with a friend, but now when you leave said game (as long as you are not the host) the other player doesn't have to get booted back to the main menu screen. You also BOTH get achievements when playing a co-op session, instead of whoever is playing as Dom getting them. The action is insane as in certain parts of the game you will be fighting HUNDREDS of locust at once whilst wondering how the hell the Unreal 3 engine is doing this and still making everything so pretty. You finally get to take on brumaks and be prepared, you are going to have to kill a lot of them.

You finally get to kill these bastards. It is about damned time I say.

Multiplayer has also been enhanced. The adversarial modes are very similar to how you remember them but you can now have 10 players instead of 8, the maps look cleaner (some of the older ones have be touched up to look new and different, and you can download these for free,) and the net code has been touched up a lot, especially with the recent patch. You get a few new modes as well. You even can use bots if you want to. Despite all this the adversarial multiplayer is still very similar to what we played in Gears of War 1, so if you grew bored of that there is little here to entertain you. This is where Horde mode comes in. You and 4 friends choose a multiplayer map and take on waves upon waves of Locust in an attempt to hold out for 50 rounds. It's great fun and let's you bring more than 3 buddies into a co-op experience. It is a really fresh take on multiplayer and it is something that like the co-op of the original gears should be copied by every other game out there. COD 5 has already done this partially with its Nazi Zombies mode and it is all the better for it.

You also get things that weren't there or just weren't very good in the original with Gears of War 2, namely a plot. In the first game you were shuffled from fight to fight with very little explanation as to why. 'There is a train with a nuke on it now?' 'What happened to the Brumak?' 'What's going on?' are questions you won't have to ask in this game. Dom's search for his wife becomes a crucial part of the story as opposed to one offhanded reference in one cut scene and a random tattoo on his arm. Marcus reveals more about his past and his father. New characters are introduces such as Dizzy the hillbilly and Tai the New Zealand native who are just as memorable and unique as the regular Delta Squad beefcakes. Sure, they have been drinking steroids like a ADD child downs cola with everybody else in the game, but they still shine though the stereotype. I almost cried at one point and for an action game, that is some damned fine storytelling. It's almost, but not quite up to the levels of the original Halo in terms of narrative.

The levels are also bigger, more detailed and more varied. You won't be stuck in dingy greys and browns all the time, but they do still take up a large part of things. This is Gears of War after all. Some of the new environments are even more mind blowingly beautiful than before which is amazing considering the beauty of the first game. The game is also much longer than the first one, which is nice. New weapons are abound in the form of a Flamethrower, a new kind of pistol as well as a few heavy weapons such as a huge machine gun which needs to be set up on a surface to fire properly called a grinder and a mortar canon. At times, you are wondering if they are planning to turn this game into an RTS like Ensemble are doing with Halo with all this sweet stuff. Heck, the tank driving level makes you want them to be making it RIGHT NOW.

Flamethrowers are here, and they are awesome.

It's not all roses and dismemberment though. The game has its problems like any other. Firstly and most prominent is the fact that this game is evolution rather than revolution - existing ideas have been improved upon and new ones have been added but the core gameplay remains the same. This is more Resident Evil 2 than Resident Evil 4. If you didn't like the first game or just grew bored of it, there is a good chance you will not like Gears of War 2 much at all. Whilst co-op is awesome and obviously designed to work well with 2 players as sections have you covering each other and working together, you wonder why it isn't 4 player. Halo 3 had four player co-op. COD 5 has four player co-op. There are always four members of Delta squad if not more, so why does Gears 2 not have 4 player co-op? There is no answer for that one.

The ending is also rather lame. There isn't so much a boss battle as a shooter on rails which you cannot lose. Compared to the ending of the first Gears, it's a bit tame. The ending also ends up asking more questions than you had answered so you still don't know who the Locust really are or what's going on and we are 2 games into the franchise already. The ending makes Gears 3 a certainty that Epic are probably working on right now. It isn't as lame as the ending of Halo 2 with the fight you didn't even get to play in Halo 3, but it's still not as awesome as you want it to be.

So, how can we grade gears? Basically, this is Gears of War 2.0 - it's as bigger, better and more badass as Epic said it would be, and we weren't really expecting them to do anything other than improve the franchise and gameplay. We weren't promised a new moon, just a bigger and brighter one and this game delivers that. If you love action games or just Gears of War 1, this game is a must have. For the few of you who didn't like the original this game is not for you. Move along but remember to ask yourself why so many people love this game and also ask yourself why you don't like chainsawing people from their bottom first up to their head. There must be something wrong with you.

Review by: Edwin Jones

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Left 4 Dead Glitch

And you thought tanks were hard to kill in this game...

Article by: William Stephen

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Left 4 Dead Review - Xbox 360

Well, this is a strange one.

Just last week a game came out that was neither truly single player or multiplayer, but a strange combination of both. It plays like little else available and is perhaps one of the best Zombie games available today but sadly, it is flawed.

Let me make this clear - Left 4 Dead is good, and it is worth a purchase. I do not hate the game and there is plenty to love. You and a few friends can basically run through your own Zombie movie working like a team and having a blast. Teamwork is key, and fun. If you don't stay with your team and protect them, nobody will protect you so you will die. You can even take over the roles of the 'boss' infected and play against the humans which is a nice spin on things as rarely do gamers get to play the bad guys directly. The atmosphere is great, with each setting playing and being presented like a horror movie fan's wet dream. The written messages left around by other civilians for you to discover on walls are as creepy as hell, and do give you that '28 days later' feel.

You really need to work as a team. Often, special infected will hold you or restrain you so you can't fight back and will keep hurting you until somebody you have begged for help from in a blind panic will shoot them off you or you die. If you wander too far from the pack people won't be able to get to you in time and you will die. When a powerful special zombie attacks (like a Tank) all four of you will need to focus your fire to take him down. You really do have to work as a team which is the game's greatest design success, but also it's worst flaw as I will explain in a moment.

There are a LOT of zombies at times, so many on screen that you start to feel like you are playing Dead Rising instead of a Valve game. The action is fast and frenzied, and the game has the quality build you would expect from anything Valve have a hand in. I could go on and on about the strengths of this game but they are A) obvious and B) you probably have already heard them bandied about repeatedly so let me stop the bandwagon here and rain on the Zombie parade.

(I did say there were a LOT of Zombies.)

Left 4 Dead is good, but DEEPLY flawed. I cannot reiterate this enough. For one thing, you only really have 3 types of gun - Shotgun, Automatic Rifle and the Sniper Rifle. You have your infinite ammo pistol and 2 types of grenade but even with them the weapon set is VERY anemic. I mean seriously, 3 types of gun is not something any first person shooter should be limited to. Even Doom had about 3 times the weapons Left 4 Dead has. You will get bored of them very quickly and be itching for more.

The second problem is the difficulty. I usually like hard games but in an environment where you need to constantly co-operate with four human players, you often die or fail because you did nothing wrong yourself which is not fun or fair just like the AI itself at times. You might be sneaking around a witch to avoid wasting ammo or health when a team mate DELIBERATELY makes her attack in a vain attempt to get an achievement who then ends up half dead, needing you to revive him and waste a health pack on him - if you manage not to be eaten alive by the horde attack he has triggered that is. It's hard to get four people you know well to show up regularly to a game like this, so you will often have to stick with at least one random, but even then they are better than the bots who run around aggravating any enemy they can to make your life hell. The game constantly spawns enemies so often sometimes you can see them pop into existence in rooms you just cleared. This kills any sense of realism. If you play versus, no survivor has a chance at survival. It's really just a game of waiting to be an infected player to mercilessly pound the humans and as you spawn as a 'boss' infected far more often than they would be spawned by the AI, the humans basically have no choice but to run away as fast as possible and to pray they make it which isn't fun.

Thirdly, the game is incredibly anemic. There are 4 one and a half hour long missions which for a full price game is INCREDIBLY slim. You will want more quickly especially as there are no extra missions in other modes, multiplayer or otherwise. Even a normal 6 hour long shooter usually at least offers different multiplayer environments. There are just not enough levels to keep the game going for a long time. Combine this with the very, very basic weapon selection and you will soon be itching for DLC content which on the 360 is going to cost you. A brand new game should include enough content to keep occupied for more than a day. You don't even get a proper introduction to the story - you just load up a mission, get a small cutscene and are not having the experience being dignified with any sort of back story. Where did the Virus come from? Why are some Zombies mutating into bigger ones? Why did whole cities set up multiple ammo dumps only containing the same 3 weapons? Why can't anybody drive the cars or vehicles that litter the streets? Resident Evil may have a B movie plot but at least it has one. Valve really didn't bother with any sort of storyline and it shows. The seperate levels don't follow each other - why did the same four people just get rescued, yet end up in a totally different place and in need of rescue again? Why does a man who looks and sounds exactly like the guy who just died randomly spawn in a closet? Surely the replacement survivor should look DIFFERENT to the guy who just died?

The respawning system also suffers in other areas. As you will be 'rescued' from a closet minutes after you die, you will automatically get 50% health. If you are at 5% and know a hard section is coming up such as the finale (where you await rescue but have to withstand minutes of zombies swarming at you without dying) people often offer to kill you so you can respawn with more health, especially on harder difficulties where health packs are limited but technically respawns are not. This is highly unrealistic, kills the atmosphere and to be honest, I expected Valve to work around such issues. When you listen to the in-game commentaries it's obvious they spent a lot of time on it and considered things very thoroughly so when the odd slip pops in it really ruins the mood the game tries so hard to create.

(You will meet this guy in the finale, a lot. Do not let him vomit on you.)

The graphics are also rather timid and weak. This is the same Source engine that Valve use for most of their games and it shows. It does the job with a high framerate which rarely slows down even with a hundred infected on screen eating your face, but when you compare it to the beauty of Gears of War 2 or any other very pretty game it falls flat on it's face and looks ugly. Sure, the engine works but it is also incredibly bland - the setting of being in dark brown and grey levels most of the time doesn't help this game in this regard at all. The details and animations on the faces of the characters are excellent, as is the gore model (limbs and heads will often fly off zombies which is always fun) but sadly you rarely get to see the faces of the characters as you are too busy killing things. It's a shame that when the engine does succeed graphically nobody is around to see it.

The sound is rather good though. The music is controlled by another 'director' (similar to the infamous AI director who places Zombies and items about the level depending on how well you are doing. I haven't really noticed him helping me other than removing 'boss' infected from sections I replay but you can never be sure where items will be, which is unique and adds longevity) and is actually good. Different themes play for different enemies - you will know when a 'tank' ( a huge boss infected who is very hard to kill who chucks things such as fork lifts at you) is about to strike and you also will know when zombies are about to run about on screen in huge numbers due to the music. It alters itself to fit the pace and always seems to fit. The characters you play also make interesting quips and jokes that vary depending on the situation - a joke between two characters that happened the last time you played won't happen this time if one of them is dead, but another will pop up between the surviving characters. They are funny and cool but again, you usually can't hear them because you are too busy shouting at people over the microphone and telling them to stop mucking about. Again, Valve really shine here but only when nobody is looking. It's such a waste. I can't really fault the audio in general but sadly a game is about more than just the sounds it makes, as good as they may be here.

Another problem with Left 4 Dead is the fact that you NEED to play this game online. I understand it was designed to be played online, but at £50 you would expect them to provide something for those who cannot get online to play. If you don't have Xbox Live or a system link setup, you might as well be buying a £50 coaster. Whilst the game benefits from being so geared towards multiplayer in some ways, removing all and any trace of a good single player mode means you are paying full price for a multiplayer only game which is not always viable considering how many new games are out at the moment..

All in all, whilst this game is very good it feels more like an mod/expansion pack for Half Life 2 than a game in itself. It's an incredible idea but with so few levels and practically no weapons, it just feels like you are only playing part of a full game which still cost you £50. Whilst I do like this game, these flaws are serious especially when the market is saturated with massive mainstream titles that both do 4 player Co-Op (COD 5) and great single player campaigns (Gears of War 2) at the same price. I cannot give this game full marks despite the fact I love it because of this. If this game were say, £30 it would be a gold but as it stands it is asking a lot of your money for very little in return. We paid the same price for the Orange Box last year, and we got a good multiplayer and singleplayer experience out of it. Why is Left 4 Dead not as complete, despite being made by the same people?

To me, Left 4 Dead is a great blueprint for a game that Valve never finished. If they manage to provide some meaty DLC to bolster the meagre offerings here then that will make the game something truly special, but until then this game is more of a side order of great gaming than the full 3 course meal that is being offered with the other blockbuster titles out this season. If you have run out of games to play or really, REALLY enjoy Co-Op, this is a must have title but for the rest of us it is merely a very good game that sadly isn't good enough to warrant purchasing over the other major titles this Christmas.

Review by: Edwin Jones

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

COD 5 - Nazi Zombie mode commentary

Editor's Note: We usually don't let the same author of the review solely write another piece about the same game, but this was so good I had to share. Enjoy!

Could this be the best game EVER made? No. Final Fantasy VII is the best game ever made. But I do think this is the best mini game ever made. I really do mean that.

The idea is simple: hordes of Nazi zombies attack a small building which you (and ideally your mates) have to defend. You start with 500 points which you can exchange for weapons, grenades and mystery items. You can also use your points to open up new areas to defend, which in turn gives you access to new weapons. You earn 100 points for killing a zombie, 10 points for repairing each part of a blockade. You can get extras, 2x Points, Max Ammo, Insta-Kill and an A-bomb style thing thats kills every zombie on the map.

This game truly is immense fun. I honestly can say I have not touched the other online modes CoD:5 has to offer since I discovered the Nact der Untoten mode. When you get a group of 4 mates together and bust this mini-game up, you’ll understand where I am coming from. When you get to about the 13th round and the zombies become harder to kill and they just seem to spawn and spawn and spawn, you really start to work together. Helpfully, your zombie killing colleagues can revive you if you are injured.

There is a mystery weapon box, which does reveal a couple of VERY interesting items. Firstly, the flamethrower. Same as the single player mode, but very helpful in clearing a room full of the undead. The other weapon is very cool! Its a one shot zombie killing machine. It is the best weapon you can get. I won’t reveal any more details, you’ll need to play to find out what it is!

Once you have earned a few points, you’ll start opening up the other areas. The map is initially quite small , but it does open up quite considerably. You will find yourself running from area to area, but it does make a fantastic team game.

Is it worth buying Call of Duty: World at War just for this mini game? Probably not. But when you combine it with the excellent single player mode of CoD:5, the excellent multiplayer mode and the Nacht der Untotenmode, you really are getting your moneys worth.

Article by: Kai Gohegan

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Need for Speed: Undercover Review - (PS3)

This game is shite. The graphics are abysmal, the “storyline” sucks, the music is crap. And what gets me is the in-game advertising. I realise most of EA’s games are packed with more product placement than you can shake a stick at, but this is ridiculous. For example, the T-Mobile challenges. What the hell has a mobile phone operator got to do with it? I refuse to pay £40 for a game full of adverts.

It seems no effort what so ever has gone into making this a decent game. I really mean that. I have a 40″ 1080p HD TV that does justice to a lot of games (Even old Xbox games played through the SCART look pretty good on it) and this game looks terrible. I realise its a multi-platform release, but jeez, make it look good on at least ONE console!

There is nothing innovative about this game. It adds nothing to the NfS franchise. Its just the same game as the last Need for Speed with some more shit adverts in there.

I can’t even say the cars look good. The city looks shite. Get more than one car on the screen and the frame rate drops by what seems like up to 40%!

The only saving grace the game has is the selection of cars. EA have included some real boy-racer cars, the Ford Cossy is in there. The ability to fine tune your motors is also interesting, although would probably be better used on a real racing game. And no, I don’t class any of the Need for Speed games as a real racing game; they’ve never been about the racing, always about either the cars or the product placement. If you really want a racing game (why would you when you could be playing CoD:5?), go buy Project Gotham or Gran Turismo: Prologue (which, incidentally, are about half the price of NfS: Undercover and about 300 times better).

Unless you are collecting the games from the Need for Speed franchise, don’t bother with this one. If you are looking for a decent racing game, again, don’t bother with Need for Speed: Undercover. It truly is another fine example of anti-innovation. Come on EA, give us something worth playing. Don’t just reinvent the wheel. Don’t get me wrong, some of the challenges are quite entertaining but still not worth buying the game for.

If you have £40 to burn or just want to spunk some cash, send it my way. In return, you’ll receive a bag of shit. Probably dog shit. Which is what you’ll get if you buy this game anyway.

Review by: Kai Gohegan

Friday, 21 November 2008

Wrath of the Lich King sells like very hot cakes...

Hello there!

Sorry for all of the reviews recently, but at this time of year so many are coming out all at once it is hard to miss them and we have to focus coverage. Still, everybody likes news so here is some.

If you didn't already know, World of Warcraft is the world's biggest and best selling MMORPG. It's huge. It has more members than certain countries have people, including Scotland. You might have heard that an expansion came out recently, Wrath of the Lich King. The thing you might not know is this - it sold 2.8 million copies in 24 hours. That's more than Gears 2, for an expansion pack. Holy smoke.

Whilst people may say the economy is turning for the worse or that PC games are dying off, they should read this and start whistling another tune. Blizzard could own half of Africa with all this money they rake in. One wonders how much money they can get before they do start doing silly but interesting things with it. Hell, they could probably bail out the Icelandic banks just for kicks.
You can read more about this story, here.

Article by: Edwin Jones

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Facebreaker Review - (Xbox 360/PS3)

Editor's Note: This may be a bit old compared to the very big and very new games coming out, but Guru Larry (of Game Network and Xleague fame if you have Sky) is always a very funny guy to read. Enjoy!

Boxings been a bit of a hit or miss sport when it comes to video games hasn’t it? The amount of actual “good” boxing titles could be counted on the fingers of a boxer’s glove. So the amount of hype Facebreaker was getting I thought it was gonna be good!

Looking at this games unique style in the build up these past few months, I was like “hell yeah, this is gonna be like Ready 2 Rumble III” a sequel I’ve been holding my breath for years to hear news of, (Not literally of course, as I’d be dead by now) but I was genuinely looking forward to this. But boy was I in for a haymaker to where the sun don’t shine…

My main problem with Facebreaker is there’s no bloomin’ substance in it. The game has as much depth as a saucer of milk. I know not to expect Final Fantasy VII in terms of depth, but it’s just high punch, low punch, block and a pointless throw button which does no damage whatsoever. There’s no combos or special moves at all in the game, you just mash the high and low punch buttons like a mad loony, praying that half of them connect.

You’ll also be needing a heck of a lot of self-control in single player mode as the A.I. is a complete and utter cheating bar-stool, constantly blocking, or more infuriating reversing every other punch you throw at him/her/it and you just stand there hammering on the buttons, praying that something gets through whilst the computer beats the seven shades of poo out of you in the corner.

Worst of all out of sheer stupidity defiance that I could eventually actually win a match, I discovered there’s a game killing glitch where you’ll automatically reverse any punch an opponent throws at you just by hammering block and punch at the same time constantly!!! They literally can do nothing about it!!! AND IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO BEAT HALF OF THE BLEEDIN’ OPPONENTS!!! When your only option is to resort to glitching to win a game, it’s a terribly programmed product.

Multiplayer is a lot better, for the sole reason it’s more fair against a human than some psychic A.I that knows what punch your gonna throw before even you do, and you can actually get your punch bar high enough to perform a “Facebreaker” (the games equivalent of Mortal Kombat’s Fatalities), but even then you’ll only play the game for a few matches before either turning it off due to boredom, or you’ve tired yourself out pummelling the buttons, usually a combination of the two…

There are some interesting bonuses to this game, like the fact you can create your own characters using the 360 Vision Camera or the PSEye, or even download photos off the web if you’re too scummy to buy one. You can upload your own creations to EA’s servers so complete strangers can beat up an avatar of your Mum online. You can even download other people’s creations for free too, but to be honest they’re a bit crap as 98% of the selection online seems to be variations of Adolf Hitler or Michael Jackson. (I’m not kidding!)

It’s an okay feature, but extremely limited due the fact you can’t really choose much in the way of clothing, bar the colour of your gloves and trunks, and the fact you can’t change the actual size of the characters head to the proportion of the largely grotesque frames you get to place them on, thus leaves everyone looking like a pinhead on every character bar the default boxer, Ice.

Overall, it’s an overly simplistic arcade style boxing game with cheating A.I..

If they’d have stuck some actual Mortal Kombat-Esque special moves (I.E. forward, forward, high punch Etc) or better yet, just bloomin’ ripped off Ready 2 Rumble like they should have done in the first place, (they needn’t have worried about accusations of plagiarism, gamers are stupid. I can’t even remember what happened in a game six minutes ago, let alone one released from six years back) than this would have been a pretty awesome fighter, especially online. In all due honesty, if you REALLY want an arcade boxing game that much, you’re better off taking the £40 you would have paid for this and spend it on a second-hand dreamcast and a copy of Ready 2 Rumble instead.

Review by: "Guru" Larry Bundy Jr

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Xbox 360 Dashboard Update, First Thoughts

After just downloading and browsing through it, the update looks pretty damn good. Finally after years you can do private chat groups online of up to 8 people through a xbox.

The avatar system is essentially copying the miis but at least you can choose what they wear as well, and there does seem to be more options of customisation available. I was expecting to be alot of lag between pages since everyone is downloading it, but its running very smoothly, and much faster than the old dashboard.

Being able to download stuff off the marketplace while in a game is a very handy feature, and this can also be done while on the xbox website, perfect if your at work and have your 360 on at home and want to download that latest demo. They have also allowed people to add points to their balance on the website as well, which comes very handy indeed, as I found it a pain in the neck to change credit card details in the past.

From what I can tell you'll be able to use your avatar as your gamertag picture but it seems to be lagging right now, but mine should be up for the world to see soon!

Edit: or now!!!

Article by: William Stephen

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Call of Duty: World at War Review - (Xbox 360)

I know what you are thinking: Why did the Call of Duty franchise go back to WW2? Well, I don’t know. I suppose the games roots are in the second World War. I didn’t mind because I have always been interested in the history of the war and the Call of Duty series has usually been fairly historically accurate. I got my copy of the game on Thursday with my early morning post. I opened it as soon as it arrived at 13:05 hours (Yes, I DID say early morning post, but we all know what a fine service Royal Mail provide!). I hastily ram the disk into my 360 and press start.

Thursday, 13:06 hrs: I will say that I was not disappointed. The graphics are good. The sound is good. And the music is good. Yes, I said the music was good. In fact, its so good I nearly didn’t realise it had changed. I first realised when I was flaming some Japanese soldiers and could hear rock music.

Thursday, 17:30 hrs:What? That’s it? No. There must be some mistake. There must be a second disk. Nope. Nothing. That really was the end of the game. 4 hours of game play. Wow. Well, after consoling myself with a cigarette and a cup of tea, I switch to multi-player mode.

Thursday, 17:55 hrs:I’m still in multi-player mode. Am I enjoying the multi-player experience CoD:WAW provides? I don’t know, because I haven’t played yet. I cannot get online. It keeps saying Checking Match Quality. I assume something must be wrong with my net connection. Nope. I do the usual Test Xbox Live Connection from the system blade. Nothing wrong there. Hmm. I checked online and it appears a lot of people are having the same issues. I’ll keep trying to get online…

Friday: Nope, still can’t get online.

Saturday: Still nothing.

Sunday:Finally managed to get online. Its quite good actually. I managed to play for 10 minutes and then get booted off. I try to connect again for another 30 minutes and still no luck. Bollocks to this.

Until they release a patch to fix the Xbox Live issues, the only way to extend the life of this game is to 1. Play through the game on veteran and 2. Collect all the offline achievements.

The game is an excellent extension to the CoD series. It’s shorter than CoD:4 (at least it feelsshorter) but the storyline is good; the Russian campaign is fantastic and the ending is as good as any war film. A few new weapons are introduced in the game, the best (and funniest?) by far is the flame thrower. I don’t know if you can bring the flame thrower into multi-player because I only managed to play for about 10 minutes online. Following on from CoD:3, this game reintroduces vehicles into the multi-player mode, which should prove interesting.

Go and buy this game. If you have enjoyed the other games in the CoD series, you will not be disappointed. Once the Xbox Live problems are solved I will post an updated review because I don’t think we will see the best aspect of the game until we get online.

Review by: Kai Gohegan

Editor's Note: Xbox Live seems to be suffering outages globally and not just in this game. This does not seem to be the fault of Activision or this game itself. We will have more news about this issue soon but please E-Mail us if you experience anything strange yourself.

I guess it's back to system link and SP for us all eh?


2nd Editor's Note: Live is back online and has been for a while, so I will add some comments about the Multiplayer. Co-op is fantastic. 4 Players taking on most of the levels ruins the story and tension but can be funny as hell, especially as you can unlock challenges which rank you up in versus online modes. The regular multiplayer is basically COD 4 with WW2 weapons, a few new perks and a pack of angry dogs instead of the helicopter death squad. It's still just as addictive and following your dogs into the lair of the enemy and watching as they tear them to pieces is awesome. It's fun, but no points for originality here.

Another new MP option is enabled once you finish the game, Nazi Zombies. This will probably offend a few people (as will the INCREDIBLY harsh SP storyline) but games are meant to be fun first, and anything else second. You and three friends can hold off the undead in a small farmhouse spending the points you make on new weapons until you die. It's very similar to the Horde mode in GOW2, which is no bad thing.

The game is fun, but really nothing new. If you like WW2 and fancy taking a shot at the Japanese instead of the Germans (their suicidal tendencies make them very different to fight) as well as enjoying some co-op, this game is for you. If you are tired of the gameplay of COD or WW2 in general, avoid. This game remains a silver, but it really earns that score.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Smackdown vs Raw 2009 Review - (Xbox 360)

Over the last few years wrestling games have pretty much just came from one source, least for Western countries anyway, and that was the WWE smackdown games, made by THQ. Now with TNA releasing a game a few months back which has the potential to become a serious threat, THQ have decided to layeth the smacketh down on Midway with Smackdown vs Raw 2009.

Im an avid wrestling fan, and in the last few years I have been really disappointed with the Smackdown series, because they often make very few updates each year, much like FIFA until recently. Just like EA however, THQ have added quite a few updates this year, which have led to some really good bits, and some stupid bits as well.

First off is the roster, while they can never get an up to date roster as someone always leaves or gets fired, it’s still a lot of wrestlers this year, but this doesn’t make that much of a difference because more often than not, most will never be used by one person. The usual story mode has been updated to 2 different parts. Road to Wrestlemania follows one of 6 stories with 7 wrestlers, and you progress through it like any other story mode game. The storylines are better than their WWE real life ones, so why they were never used I don’t know, would certainly make better TV. Career mode has replaced the general manager mode, something which many people enjoyed last few years. Basically you’re picking a wrestler then fighting opponents to gain up ratings, once you reach a high enough rating you challenge for a title. Then repeat over and over again. Its tiresome and boring after 5 minutes, and is the only way right now to boost up stats for a created wrestler, which can take 10 hours just to get them up halfway.

Game play has been left virtually untouched. Replacing the awful modifiers last year, are the better system of abilities, which include dirty pin, springboard moves, kip up, possum pin and more. Broadening the abilities from last year means that there’s more strategy involved in choosing a wrestler for certain match types. A ladder match suits a wrestler who has the ladder match ability as they can reach the belt faster and take it off its hinge. When a wrestler has full momentum, they may store it to keep for a signature move, of which just like finishers, there are 2 of for each wrestler. This adds a bit more strategy as to when to go for a pin, especially during fatal 4 ways. Other good subtle features include changing the background music whenever you like at the touch of a button.

AI has been improved a tad, but it is still very easy to beat them, even on higher difficulty levels. You can still win a match in less than a minute in no problem. A typical match against the computer is basically, running grapple, stomp, mat grapple, stomp til they counter and get up, running grapple, stomp, mat grapple, stomp til they get up, kick to gut, finisher, pin. Online is pretty much the same with players rarely ever attempting strong moves and just sticking to small moves to win a match, but this has been going on since day 1.

But with every good thing THQ does every year, they seem to always take a step backwards at the same time. Take the new create a finisher mode. While it’s been desperately wanted for years, and while it is a welcome addition, it is rather limiting, and some of the damage some moves provide can kill a wrestler in one move without anything else being done to them. They have added a new match type, inferno, but removed buried alive. They have also removed the ever popular trading of created wrestlers, and as mention before, trying to up their stats is a boring process. There are also plenty of bugs, some of which THQ haven’t been bothered to fix since last year, including well known ones. One bug in the elimination chamber mode stops anyone from using the turnbuckles at all, something that wasn’t there from the beginning, so why is it there now?

It is a breath of fresh air for the franchise, while it still isn’t as good as the classic games of No Mercy or even Smackdown Here Comes the Pain, it’s getting there. Let’s see how midway do with the sequel to TNA impact, next year… hopefully if they aren’t dead by then.

Review by: William Stephen