So we got behind on Podcasts for a bit there. Here’s our solution: Between now and Christmas we’ll be releasing several Podcasts each about one game released this Q4. Kicking off with Arkham City right here. Heber and Stephen discuss Arkham City and eventually Batman in general for well over an hour. This Podcast goes into heavy spoilers after about 15 minutes but well warn you. Also don’t forget to check out Heber’s weird Bad Photoshop blog thing, Stephen thinks the Harry Potter one is good. Follow Stephen and Heber on Twitter as well.
The Chronic Reload Podcast is our podcast for Irish Gaming News and is released every two weeks. In the weeks between these we talk about everything and anything in The Chronic Rant Podcast. Don’t forget you can subscribe to both podcasts in iTunes here.Continue →
Chris Slack reviews Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.Continue →
Remember the Dream cast!? Of course you do. My memories of Sega’s last venture into the console market are tainted with guilt. I can still picture my Aunty asking me whether she should get my uncle a Playstation or a Dreamcast for his birthday. Quick as a flash I shouted ‘Dreamcast, the graphics are amaaaazing.’ Oh how naïve I was. History has taught me that graphics are not the be-all-end-all of gaming, and that particular Dreamcast is still sitting in an attic gathering dust with a handful of games in a plastic Dunne’s bag.Continue →
Might & Magic: Clash Hero’s represents a near perfect match of puzzle mechanics and RPG elements which I’m a complete sucker for. It was originally a Nintendo DS game, which as a hand held is the perfect platform for puzzle games but I’m glad Ubisoft have now made it available to download on Xbox 360 as its such a genuinely unique and well thought out game.
The plot follows five young adventurers who have been thrown together in order to stop demons from taking over the world. Its set in the Might & Magic universe but don’t worry, you really don’t have to know anything about it. Its a stand alone story featuring wizards, elves, knights and dark forces. That is all you need.Continue →
Pokémon Black and White shake up the Pokémon formula more than any previous games in the series have. That said, this is the Pokémon series so they haven’t had to do much to achieve this. Black and White are far from the total overfall they may have initially seemed to be but they’re still solid and well balanced games that take days to complete and much longer to master.
First lets start with the changes. The battle system has received it’s first major style change since the beginning of the series. Its not the fully 3D Pokémon stadium style but its a step closer. All battling Pokémon are animated in 2D in a 3D space. Basically the camera can move for the first time and jumps between close ups of hits and right back to the trainers on the edge of the battle. Don’t expect anything too fancy though, the 2D sprites don’t allow the camera to rotate or make any major movements. This much more flued style is reflected in changes to the battle mechanics, once hit the damage drains almost instantly and the text during a battle can be read through much quicker than previous games, something that should have been done years ago. These changes give Pokémon battles a much needed kick up the arse, making them much more engaging and far lass boring than some of the long stings in Diamond/Pearl/HeartGold/SoulSilver.
The basic story premise continues to remain unchanged but aspects are delved into a little more. You begin, as always, as an innocent youngster in a small town. This time around its the Unovo region, extemely loosly based on Manhatten, the region is the first to based on a non-Japanese setting. Unovo and its population have a nice American feel to them, or at least a Japanese idea of an American feel. The Pokémon too reflect this change. A complete new set of 151 are introduced and unlike previous games are the only types available until you’ve beaten the game, forcing veteran players to get to know the new additions. Again the new Pokémon are hit and miss, some bear traits of the initial Red and Blue 151, keeping their design simple but others fall victim to over design, they simply have too many bells and whistles attached to them and fail to have any recognizable features.
Although the game still follows the tradictional earn eight gym badges and take on the Pokemon league while taking care of meddelsome Team “Something” this game finally does something different with it. For the first time this goal has become much more justified than in previous games. Each Gym leader actually plays a part in the story, the focus this time lies more on stopping Team Plasma with the Gym Badges being more of a side story. Generally on arriving in a town you join the Gym leader in confronting a faction of Team Plasma and challenge them afterwards. This approach means that Gym battles are fought with a sense of history between you and the Gym leader, rather than them simply being a stronger challenge. Reminds me of what happened with the Zelda games from Majora’s Mask onwards where you have to solve a problem in the over world before entering a dungeon.
There’s much more to do after the main story than there ever has been with a large portion of the map still to be explored after the main quest ends and the online functions. A greater list of features has been added to Pokémons Online Capabilities including an online central hub from which you can view stats in your browser. Battles still suffer from a huge Rage quitting problem, the game can’t distinguish between a rage quit an a connection fault meaning if your opponent quits just as his last Pokémon faints the battle won’t be recorded as a win. Fail Nintendo, fail.
Pokémon Black and White fail to give the huge revamp the series needs however it adds a huge amount of new and interesting features and is certainly a step in the right direction. With a main quest that takes well over 20 hours to complete and countless more over this, Pokémon still presents some of the best handheld game play of today.Continue →
Its been over 20 years, but playing Ghosts ‘N Goblins still just makes me want to fire my controller through the f*ckin’ TV. Those weird attacking plant things, those impossible jumps to moving platforms, those sadistic & relentless diving red devil dudes … I should stop playing this. But I don’t.
I keep coming back to Ghosts ‘N Goblins’ endlessly frustrating level of challenge for some unhealthily masochistic reason, and in this latest Wii re-release of the Capcom original I once again find myself stuck back in the familiar routine of starting up the game, playing it for a while, dying, screaming at my TV and then starting it all over again. Rinse and repeat for 20 more times.Continue →
Torchlight arrived on the PC’s way back in 2009 and to be a huge hit. No-one expected much but once it was played, word of mouth and some crazy price drops, propelled it into stardom. Since the new XBLA console iteration was announced, the lazy part of me was really looking forward to being able to lay back on the couch and play a ‘living-room’ version of the PC game which I had sunk countless of hours into.
If you aren’t familiar with Torchlight, you can choose to play as one of three characters, either an Alchemist, Destroyer or Vanquisher, each with different abilities and weapon classes. You’ll explore the mines beneath the town of Torchlight killing monsters picking up gold and grabbing tonnes of loot, as you collect weapon sets, craft items, and feed your pet items to turn them into different types of creatures to fight by your side.
When launched, Torchlight was a PC game through and through. Players would use their mouse to click their way down through the levels, on enemies and practically everything. So would the game be able to translate well from PC to Xbox? Thankfully Runic Games have done a great job at utilizing the Xbox controller with the character movement on the controllers analogue stick being particularly smooth and the navigation thorough a plethora of menus without a mouse or keyboard was not a bad as I thought it might be. Spells and items are mapped to different buttons on the controller and I soon got used it, possibly even preferring it to the PC.
The games retains the highly stylised characters and environments from its PC predecessor and it still looks excellent. There are a few bonus features that Xbox fans will be given including new armour sets, new quests, and a new pet called a Chakawary. I chose him to see what he was like and the best way to describe him would be to compare him to the dinosaur in Jurassic Park that spits in the fat guys face, then eats him.
With a new console friendly streamlined version of Torchlight, I think Runic Games are going to see their biggest success to-date. It has everything, eye-popping environments and character models, great voice work and a sweeping musical score. Couple this with a variety of difficulty settings to appease all levels of gamers and a mountain of different loot items, you’re probably going to come back to the game quite a few times.
The story is somewhat lacking, but for me wasn’t really important when tracking down quests and taking on the beastly minions. All to easily I lost track of time whilst exploring the depths of the mines, which was great for the gamer in me, but bad for the real life priorities like eating and leaving the house. If you’ve enjoyed similar Dungeon crawler games on the PC such as the Diablo series, you will love this, if you haven’t played this style of game before I’d still recommend picking it up. Its has something for everyone, its deep enough to satisfy even the hardiest of loot hoarders but also approachable for novices to the genre. A must have.
Let me just get this off my chest: I wanted to hate Bulletstorm. I really did. And from the moment the game’s relatively short campaign mode began right up until it’s disappointing ending, I felt like Bulletstorm wanted me to hate it too. In fairness, there really is so much to dislike: it’s crass, obnoxious and altogether pretty derivative. So why the hell do I like it so much?
The answer, unfortunately, is not immediately clear. As Bulletstorm’s relatively brief campaign begins to unfold; we’re treated to perhaps the weakest opening hour of any game in recent memory. An overly long tutorial sequence, laced with unskippable in-game cut-scenes and pointless quick-time events, dominates any first impressions the game might leave. This, coupled with an extremely slow progession of weapon unlocks means one could easily mistake Bulletstorm for a terrible, terrible game.
Then, suddenly, everything falls into place. The game’s “kill with skill” mechanic is introduced - albeit justified with some seriously contrived logic – and everything begins to make sense. Though it presents itself as some generic, run-and-gun first person shooter, Bulletstorm really is anything but.Continue →
Last night while browsing the internet for an informative piece on the upcoming election I stumbled upon “Go Ireland: The Video Game.” Somehow I managed to miss an entire Video Game Development studio being set up in Ireland but “Fine Gael” has already released it’s first title. They helpfully reminded me that this was Go Ireland “THE VIDEO GAME” because otherwise I might have gotten it confused with the chant.
Staight away the game plunged me into the shoes of reluctant hero “Enda Kenny” as I ran down the famous Ireland Road and jumped over the famous Ireland Floating Platforms. Enda’s greatest obstacle in the initial stages of the game is a legion of VLC Media Player Logos, Enda must be intimidated by open source because not only can the spikey bits of VLC logo kill him but so can the soft roundy bits at the side.Continue →
In 2008 Capcom published an updated re-make of the NES classic Bionic Commando. It came with a fantastic chip-tune soundtrack and was a great looking version of a twenty year old game but crucially still retained the unique swinging mechanics and lack of ability to jump which made it more tactical, and led it to stand out among other platform games.
With Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, I felt none of that charm. The best way to describe it is to compare it to a straight to video sequel of a more popular original film – its now a Home Alone 4 to the classic Home Alone – if you forgive the analogy. That being said, you still can have some fun with the game.
The biggest change that Capcom touted was that the main character, Spencer, could now jump in order to vault over barrels, cross small gaps and perform you new Death from Above attack. Its really not that big of a game changer as for the most part I just used it to climb over barrels or barriers which often proved an annoyance in the first game. The swinging mechanic is just as good as it always was.
The game play is still fun to play around with. Like its predecessor, BCR2 retains some great boss fights to figure out and swinging about collecting power ups for your claw-arm-grapplehook is still enjoyable but it has to be said the normal enemies are still pretty much useless and offer up little resistance as you unleash hell on them.
Since the first game was released, downloadable games have gotten better and better, both visually and technically. Rearmed 2 feels like it is a two year old game and although it looks decent, it really lacks the polish of other downloadable titles coming out at the minute. Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is not a bad game but its lost its individual charm, now making it just another mediocre platformer among hundreds of others.Continue →