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 →
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 →
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 →
It’s strange to think that it’s been almost 3 years since the last Dead Space was released and yet here we are in 2011 being served up another dish of severed limbs, blood spattered hallways and homage-so-close-to-the-original-it-could-be-copyright-infringement. But does this highly hyped and heavily advertised sequel live up to its critically acclaimed predecessor? The short answer is no.
The original Dead Space was a highly enjoyable affair altogether, it was tense and atmospheric (never quite hit the scary button), had tight controls and was a hell of a lot of fun. Now Dead Space borrowed heavily from games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and the Half Life Series. It also borrowed from films like Event Horizon, Sunshine and 2001: A Space Odyssey but still managed to feel fresh and original. This is not a surprise however as Dead Space was merely a genre piece and obviously had elements indicative of that genre. If you look at its influences, they also have borrowed heavily. Sunshine from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Hill from Resident Evil. It was using these elements in a way that didn’t feel stale or uninteresting that was the challenge and one I believe Dead Space rose up to and even superseded. (more…)Continue →
It’s been more than a few years since I last got excited about the FIFA franchise. To me the series has always been like that best friend from primary school that you just don’t see any more. Sure, there was a time when you were inseparable, when you thought you’d be friends forever and that nothing could ever change. But then, day by day, you grew apart. Now you’re two completely separate entities, each one entirely disinterested by the other. And yes, you might wonder from time to time how that old buddy of yours is getting on, but for the most part you keep your distance and move on with your lives.
This is essentially how my experience with the FIFA series has panned out for the last decade or so. I spent an inordinately huge amount of time playing FIFA 2000 with my brother, with memories of improbable scorelines and spectacular goals dominating most of my early teenage years. And then… nothing. The experience grew stale and we both moved on. First-person shooters were becoming more and more popular, and the annual FIFA installments ceased to feature on our Christmas wish lists.
But sometimes you meet that old friend again by chance, and you remember just why you spent all those years in each other’s company. Suddenly it’s like a day never passed, and everything’s back the way it used to be. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you FIFA 11.Continue →
We’ve spent a bit of time with the Playstation Move Launch titles and figured we’d present three examples which range from good use of the Move to just plain terrible.
Little known fact, upon launching a new motion controller its actually impossible to not also release a collection of Sports based mini games along side it. Once you actually get into it though Sports Champions has a lot more depth to it than Wii Sports, this mainly comes from its choice of games. Table tennis, Volleyball, Gladiator Duel, Disc Golf, Bocce and Archery are all on display and they’re here for a reasons. Far from being randomly selected each of the games has a chance to show off the Playstation Move’s immediately obvious superior motion control. In Table Tennis its possible to accurately put spin on the ball. Sweeping the legs from an opponent in Gladiator Duel is never misinterpreted. Disc Golf allows you to turn the Frisbee on it’s side and roll it along accurately, bouncing it off the ground and into the net never gets old. Bocce depends on subtle spins and throw differences while Archery is all about speed and accuracy. There are minor hiccups here and there but for the most the move seems to pull this off very easily. Unfortunately due to a shortage of Moves we’re unable to play most of the multiplayer and the duel controller enhanced versions of some games. On your own you’ll probably only pick up and play this for minutes at a time but turn it into a competition with friends and the real fun starts.
The Games biggest problem is that though it shows off the Moves capabilities it doesn’t really try and do much else. the games are far too over laden with icons that over lay the sports. A huge spin icon flies around the table tennis ball indicating which direction its turning as it flies towards a highlighted circle on the table, showing where it’ll bounce. The whole point of table tennis is to work this stuff out yourself so once you’ve got the basics this gets old very fast. At the end of the day Sports Champions is still a collection of mini games meaning there’s little variation within each sport. That said of all the launch games its the nly one that truly shows off Move’s potential.
7.5 Bocces out of 10
Start the Party
Start the Party uses the move in different way to Sports Champions. Playing the same way as any other Playstion Eye game it shows video of you in real time. The move controller is detected and turned into different objects within the video. If that description was completely useless then here’s some attractive people demonstrating it.
Players take turn competing against each other in different minigames, shinning a torch on ghosts, drawing farm animals piece by piece, shaving hair with a trimmer, swatting bugs, basically the usual EyeToy sort of thing but improved with the more accurate Move now being the focus. Its fun for a while and completely different to any other motion control we’ve seen so far. Again dispute attempts to break it the tools that the Move is transformed into rarely glitch out of position, even keeping up when the controller is flipped up in the air… although at no point does it ask you do this. Though fun for a while it doesn’t come close to Sports Champions and quickly gets repetitive, the selection of games is quite small compared to something like Mario Party and even playing twice with the same group starts to wear the game thin.
6 Augmented Realities out of 10
Kung Fu Rider
Kung Fu Rider is basically everything that’s wrong with Motion Control in one game. I’ve really tried hard to find something I like about it but it just isnt happening, the game plays as a glorified quick time event. You speed down streets in an office chair, dodging triad guys, jumping over cars and ducking over signs, maybe every now and then you’ll kick something. All the actions are done through interpreting gestures that have nothing to do with what’s going on on screen. Moving the controller up and down increase speed, thrusting it into the air jumps, thrusting it at the screen speeds even more and pointing left and right steers, badly. Half the time it can’t tell the difference between speed up and jump while turning is inaccurate and unresponsive. This game feels like something you buy on the Playstation Network for a fiver, play for an hour, then start to miss the fiver. It should be a cheap downloadable title, but its not, its a full on launch title that comes in the same box as every other game does. If it didn’t use the Move at all you wouldn’t give it a second of your time and once More move titles are released and this falls into obscurity, you won’t.
4 Quick Time Events out of 10
All these games along with Playstation Move are released tomorrow, Friday 17th September. Don’t forget to check out our hardware review of Playstation MoveContinue →
Can you review Hardware on it’s release? Especially considering all you have to go on is the software that’s been released on its launch. What if there’s a toaster in there somewhere that isn’t going to be used until Super Mario Breakfast is finally released? The follow review of Playstation’s Motion Sensor controller review is based mainly from what I’ve seen in its launch titles. Not all of its features are on display yet but in some games by basically dicking around with it I’ve gathered what I think is a reasonable overview of Move’s capabilities. So if in a few months Move is firing toasty ham and cheese sandwiches into our mouths, I apologize in advanced.
The Move works in conjunction with the Playstation Eye which tracks the glowy ball on top of it. Navigating the Playstation’s Menus is done by holding down the trigger button (named the “T” button) and flicking Move left, right, up and down. This doesn’t require the Eye at all meaning there’s potential for limited Eyeless motion control but I very much doubt this will ever be implemented in a game. Calibration of the Move is performed differently and at different frequencies depending on the game. Its performance and accuracy greatly differs in different games but whether this is down to calibration is hard to tell, after playing a few there does seem to be a pattern. At the very least Move asks you to point the controller directly at the Eye, this then means that the game has no idea how big your TV is so expect a lot less accuracy when it comes to pointing the Move at the screen. The Shoot goes slightly further, placing targets at the corners of your screen and asking you to shoot them, it’s accuracy during game play is far superior to the pointers on the menu screens of others. In Sorts Champions goes further and at the start of every individual game asks you to hold the move at your shoulder, hip, and belt. Of all the launch games Sports Champions is by far the most natural to play, here’s hoping developers cop onto this and start included more detailed calibration systems.
One huge difference between The Move and The Wii Remote is that it seems to have a good idea of where the players entire arm is rather than just the orientation of the players hand. Playing the sword fighting mini games in both wii sprts and sports champions really shows this off, while on the Wii the sword stays in the centre and rotates even you stretch your arm out, on the move your character will match the entire arm movement. In fact as the few games that really require any skill in terms of speed and accuracy get tougher it becomes apparent that the Move is more than up the task of fast and accurate response, in other words its not going to be lagging behind trying to catch up with you. All in all Playstation Move lives up to Sony’s claims of it’s accuracy but very few games show this off. Developers still seem to be lacking behind when it comes to actually implementing Motion Control without just creating glorified quick time events. Keep an Eye on Chronic Reload for the rest of the week where I’ll be discussing this further in reviews of the launch titles.
Playstation Move for Playstation 3 is Available this Friday the 17th September for €39.99 stand alone or €59.99 bundled with the Playstation EyeContinue →
With the last of Brian Lee O Malley’s Scott Pilgrim Comic book series released last month and Edgar Wrights feature film only a couple of weeks away, Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game hit the Playstation Network this week and due to appear on xbox arcade on August 25th. With both the comics and film heavily influenced by video games the question is how do you make a game based on a comic based on games? The answer: You make a retro styled beat ‘em up stuffed with coins, extra lives, continues, heart points, combos, co-op and game overs and hire pixel artist Paul Robertson and chiptune artists Anamanaguchi to put it all together.
As well as visually being based on the Comic’s Artwork it also loosely follows the story. Scott Pilgrim is dating Romona Flowers and must defeat her seven evil-ex boyfriends, his own personal issues and everyone else he meets for that matter. The game starts off on a Super Mario World style overworld stage selection screen. From here each stage is selected. Once in a Stage you and up and to three friends playing as Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Stephen Stills and Kim Pine proceed to punch, kick and generally Streets of Rage your way to an end boss. All the while listening to Anamanaguchi’s top class retro score which seriously deserves an award of some kind. The whole experience is stuffed with nods to popular games, highlights including a guitar hero inspired base battle and the glitchy subspace highway.
Several modern touches have been added to the old genre, characters gain experience for every enemy defeated which allows them to level up and gain new moves. Coins are dropped which and be collected and used in Shops, which can be entered during the levels. From here power ups can be bought in the form of books, food and bionic arms in order to buff up your stats. This isn’t just a tacked on feature either, even before the end of the first stage and on the easiest difficulty you’ll need to put some money into power ups. The enemies get much tougher very quickly and you’ll seriously start running through those lives if you don’t constantly return to the shopping district.
Speaking of lives get used to using them! You start with three and at every game over screen get 3 back. In order to progress you must complete an entire area (which can include 3 zones) and defeat the boss or bosses. There’s no checkpoints between each boss so if if you run out of lives its back to the start for you! The only way to get extra lives is to either beat one specific boss character over and over again (fans of the comic will know who I mean) or to buy them at a huge price from a hidden market on the first level. At the start of a new stage I recommend getting game over on purpose if you’ve lower than three lives so they’ll be refreshed, which is silly.
The game really shines when you’ve four people playing together in one room not just because it’s more fun but because it’s easier. Not that many extra enemies are added and there’s a handy revive mechanic where team mates who are still standing can button bash a fallen friend back to his feet. There are also multiplayer exclusive moves when characters work together that cause serious damage. Unfortunately for some crazy reason there’s no online co-op meaning your friends have to be present with one controller each.
Overall the Scott Pilgrim vs The World shines as a wonderful nod to the games of yore that captures the spirit of its comic roots and at only €10 is well worth it. It’ll have you jumping for joy one minute and throwing the controller out a window the next.
4 buritos out of 5Continue →
In the winter of 1990 I was six years old and my memories of games from this period (now 20 years ago) has become somewhat faded, but one memory still clear in my mind was the day that my brother booted up the Amiga 500+ and inserted the first disk of Lucasfilm Games (now known as Lucas Arts) “The Secret of Monkey Island”.
Fast forward 20 years and “The Secret of Monkey Island” has returned bigger and better than ever on multiple platforms (Xbox live arcade, the Playstation Network, and on the PC through Steam). This game following the adventures of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood struck such a chord with gamers that Lucas Arts felt the time was ripe to re-release it in the form of “The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition”.Continue →
I did a lot of things playing Just Cause 2 so many things that I couldn’t put them in words, which is why I made this video, which barely has any words at all.
Just Cause 2 is insane. If you didn’t watch that video or watched it and simply refused to believe it, then yes, that was me surfing a jet then grappling to airliner mid flight. That was also me quad biking off an exploding crane, driving an ice cream van off a mountain, gracefully base jumping off a skyscraper and down a water fall, jumping onto the roof of my moving truck to clear a road block with a grenade launcher and last but not least, attaching a sports car to an air liner and driving/taking off into the sunset.