Monday, October 31, 2011

Battlefield 3's Campaign is Shit

BF3's single player campaign is a load of old guff. The perfect example of style over substance. It looks pretty but it plays like a pig.

After a seen-it-a-billion-times-before opening level set on a train, you relive - via flashbacks - past events in which you shoot a load of faceless bad guys while stuff explodes in the background. Uninspired nonsense.

A particularly tedious level has you sitting in the back seat of a fighter jet while the pilot shouts incomprehensible army-speak at you for 12 hours before anything remotely interesting happens. When the action finally kicks off - shooting down enemy fighters - all you're asked to do is move your cursor over a target, wait for it to go beep, and push a button. I've had more interesting shits to be honest.

This sense of detachment, of not really contributing to the action in any significant way, continues throughout the campaign. I felt like a spectator rather than a participant during the action. I guess it's how a front line war correspondent must feel, in amongst the whizzing bullets and shrapnel but ultimately nothing more than an observer.

When fighting on open ground it's hard to suss exactly where enemy fire is coming from. After you finally pinpoint an insurgent, your squad mates have the annoying habit of stealing the kill.

I wonder, is the player's sense of detachment an inevitable part of modern warfare's impersonal methods of murder, or is it simply because BF3 is a bad game? I'm opting for the latter.

My first clue came when I opened the box. BF3 is the first video game I've seen in which the campaign has been relegated to the second disc. This should tell you everything you need to know about where Dice's priorities lie: the mulitplayer.

And boy does it show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zelda Giveaway!

My humble little video game blog has just hit 10,000 unique views for this month. As a thank you to all my lovely readers I'm doing a little giveaway. And not just any old giveaway. This here is a ZELDA giveaway. Woo Hoo!

That's right, I'm giving you guys the chance to win the following Zelda goodies:

Link's Crossbow Training (which includes the Wii Zapper)
38 retro Zelda stickers
Two huge double sided Zelda posters
A 25th anniversary Zelda mouse mat
A Zelda Miscellany (a book of trivia and Hylian know-how)

For a chance to win all these sweet Zelda goodies, all you have to do is RT this tweet and follow me. It's as simple as that. The winner will be picked at random and announced on 07/11/2011. So get tweeting!

Good luck!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is It Finally Gameover For Nintendo? Part 2

Nintendo fanatics should stop reading here. Go on, get lost. I know you guys can’t handle the truth, so I’m giving you the chance to turn around and exit the premises. Still here? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Satoru Iwata has finally admitted what we gamers knew all along: the Wii is a shit console. Sure, he didn’t use those exact words, he’s far too dull. Instead, he hid behind a rather long-winded euphemism: “The company was unable to launch much-anticipated first-party titles for the Wii in a timely fashion in the first half of the term. In the game platform business, creating momentum is very important, but the momentum was once lost, and it has had a large negative effect on our sales and profits."

Nintendo effectively abandoned the Wii in preparation for their next console, the Wii U. And that’s why the only notable Nintendo-made Wii games of 2011 – aside from the long delayed Skyward Sword - are Kirby's Epic Yawn and Wii Play Motion. Be still my beating heart.

In a grovelling apology that spans five pages Satoru Iwata told investors he feels “greatly accountable” for Nintendo’s poor performance. He also confesses that Nintendo has learned “a bitter lesson” from 3DS’s failings and would do everything possible to secure a more successful launch for Wii U: "We would like to show the final format of the Wii U at the E3 show next year.”

Final format? It’ll be interesting to see what tweaks and changes Nintendo make to their new console. After it’s rather underwhelming unveiling at E3 2011 I’m sure we’ll see a last-ditch attempt to get the public on board. A next-gen Mario title perhaps?

Nintendo’s lacklustre performance this year has lost the company £578m. The Big N – once the greatest gaming force in the industry – needs a minor miracle to revive its ailing brand. All I know is this: the Wii U, more than any console before it, will prove critical to shaping Nintendo’s future.

Read Part 1 here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GTA V Trailer Countdown

Next Wednesday's GTA V trailer - which hits at 6pm - should finally reveal the much speculated setting for the game, which is rumoured to be based on real-world Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GTA V? No Thanks

Dear Rockstar,

The GTA series peaked with San Andreas. Every iteration since has been increasingly underwhelming. Sure, GTA V will outsell the bible, but we all know it’ll follow the same tedious formula: drive to point A and murder criminal B. So do us all a favour, focus your incredible talent on a completely new IP, m'kay?

I mean, think about it guys: GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, Saints Row: The Third - you’re gonna have to perform a miracle worthy of Jesus himself to make GTA V relevant. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan. I love your work. The gratuitous level of incidental detail you managed to squeeze into GTA IV was genuinely amazing. I’ll never forget the time I sat - slack-jawed with awe - and watched Ricky Gervais performing stand-up on a television in a seedy bed-sit in Liberty City. A virtual TV, in my virtual apartment in a virtual city teaming with virtual life. Incredible.

Thing is, convincing, open-world games are now standard fare. Just Cause 2 and Arkham City spring immediately to mind. Two astonishingly beautiful games that take the open-world experience to some pretty spectacular places. Can GTA V really make the same kind of impact in this overcrowded, cut-throat-competitive market place? With all the best will in the world, I doubt it.

And it ain't just little old me that feels this way. There are celebrity dissenters too. Take Peter Serafinowicz, for example: "I'm not really a fan - although it's an incredible achievement in some ways - of GTA IV. I hate all those missions and the scripted bits. If I want to watch a really shit film there are plenty I can watch". Okay, so it's not the most compelling of arguments, but perhaps the novelty is beginning to wear thin. Come on Rockstar, give us something new.

After all, once you've battered a man to death with a giant purple dildo, where on earth can you go from there?

Yours sincerely,

Digital Gigolo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10 Things We Know About Halo 4

New guns, new gear and ancient aliens – here’s everything you should be getting excited about.

Start of a new trilogy
Bungie might have flown the coop, but the story of the Master Chief is far from over. Halo 4 is the first in a brand new trio of games known as ‘The Reclaimer Trilogy’ so expect to see the big MC activating plenty of ancient technology.

New UNSC weaponry
Humanity’s researchers have had over a year to fiddle about with all that new alien technology, and you’ll see the fruits of their work in Halo 4. Expect an array of improved UNSC armaments, as well as new alien treats to try.

Could these iconic weapons be making a return in Halo 4? We'll just have to wait and see...

More vehicles to control
Halo: Primordium might not be coming out until 2012, but the cover art tells us everything we need to know: it’s confirmed concept art for Halo 4, and the ships in the sky are of Forerunner origin.

The Forerunners are alive
We might not have seen the Halo system creators for thousands of years, but it doesn’t mean they’re dead. According to 343 Industries’ Frank O’ Connor, Halo 4 will let you explore Forerunner architecture ‘when it’s not completely inert and empty.’ If it isn’t empty then surely it’s inhabited, right?

Mysterious new foes
We only caught a split-second glimpse of this screeching cybernetic enemy during the Halo Fest presentation. Could it be some kind of Forerunner Sentinal AI? All I know is that is doesn't look at all friendly...

Cortana’s in trouble
She’s one of the smartest AI programs in the universe, but it comes at a cost. After seven years of service Cortana will become ‘rampant’, and quickly begin to lose her marbles. She’s not got long left now, So Halo 4 will likely focus on finding a way to save her.

The Chief has changed
Don’t get too attached to the Chief you’ve seen in Halo 4’s first teaser trailer. 343 Industries recently admitted that the model has seen four separate revisions since then. It’s still not confirmed that he’ll even have a jetpack.

He won't change much. Don't panic.

It’s not long after Halo 3
Some have suggested the events of the game occur 36 years after Halo 3, but 343 assures us that the game begins in 2553, a mere one year after the game’s finale.

Five years for us, but only one year for MC.

The Flood may show up
I reckon we’ll fins out more about The Flood in Halo 4. Originally found in powdered form on an abandoned cargo ship, it’s created by another species. If The Flood only affect organic beings, is it possible that they’re agents of Halo 4’s robotic looking foes?

The most hateful creatures in video game history? Quite possibly.

More clues are coming
If you’re dying to know more about Halo 4, I know where to look. Halo novel Glasslands promises to tease info on new UNSC technology, and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, out on November 15, is said to contain loads of clues.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why You Have To Play Batman Arkham City

Batman Arkham City is a next-gen title on a current-gen console. It’s a genuine miracle that my beat-up old Xbox managed to run this game without succumbing to a mechanical aneurism. Then again, miracles are all part of the caped crusader’s repertoire of skills.

Arkham City is brilliant because it makes you *feel* like Batman. Gliding effortlessly from a vantage point on high into a gang of Joker’s henchmen below, before reducing them to a heap of broken bones, encapsulates all of the Dark Knight’s strongest attributes: grace, beauty and brute power. And there’s nothing more iconic than a fully stretched bat-cape silhouetted against the pale glow of the moon.

The open, free-roaming city is both spectacular and intimidating. Perched on a gargoyle overlooking the sprawling city of Arkham, it soon becomes clear just how tightly packed the game is with incidental side quests: a ringing phone, a desperate cry for help, a flashing green question mark– all of these sights and sounds will lead you further in to the dark, gothic nightmare of a city turned sour.

Thankfully, the World’s Greatest Detective is up to the task. Batman is a painstakingly modelled swiss-army-knife of justice. His improved grapnel gun - unlocked after completing four Augmented Reality tutorials – allows for even faster movement around Arkham City. The ability to glide, dive bomb and grapple - all in one seamlessly fluid motion - is one of gaming’s greatest thrills.

What else? Well, there’s Catwoman. And I’m not ashamed to say that her stealth-crawl animation is the sexiest conglomeration of pixels I've ever seen. Okay, maybe I'm a *little* ashamed I just said that. Still, she can also kick ass, seducing enemies mid-fight, luring them in for a kiss and then knocking them unconscious when they let their guard down. And the feline femme fatale is just as mobile as old Brucey too, using her claws to climb the sides of buildings rather than grappling.

Its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, is one of this generation’s best games, but Arkham City takes it to a whole other level. Yahoo Games even went as far as to award the game 6 out of 5 saying, ‘Batman Arkham City improves on the original so much that it feels like gluttony.’ It’s not hard to see why this game has garnered such fevered praise. It’s the kind of game you’ll dream about in your sleep, long after you’ve turned off your console.

Rocksteady Studios – a British video game developer based in Kentish Town – deserves a place among the industry’s great and good. They have after all, given us one of the greatest gifts possible: the chance to be Batman.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Dead Island Sucks

Zombies are a crude metaphor for our collective hatred of other people. Be honest, human beings suck and you want to kill them. Curb stomping a downed zombie isn’t simply gratuitous fun. It’s also essential therapy for the misanthropic masses. Murdering the undead keeps us from going postal after another shitty day at the job we despise. In short, Zombie games save lives.

Unfortunately, Dead Island proves the exception to the rule. I was hoping for a thrilling romp through the zombie-infested holiday resort of Banoi. Instead, I'm lumbered with a glorified list of chores. Every surviving inhabitant on the island has a tedious errand for you to run: "Feed me", "Find my necklace", "Bring me my teddy bear", "Wipe my shitty arsehole". And they just keep on coming. Soon you're drowning in a maddening cacophony of inane fetch-quests.

The game becomes less about surviving a zombie holocaust and more about keeping these mewling, ungrateful, utterly useless sacks of flesh from choking to death on their own tongues. Dead Island isn't the cathartic escape from reality I was hoping for. Quite the opposite in fact. It simply served to remind me exactly why I hate people in the first place.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Staggered Release Dates

Picture the scene. You’re sat at the head of a royal banquet. Exquisite delicacies from around the world are served on silver platters. The mouth-watering aroma of honey-glazed pork elicits an eager growl of anticipation from your empty stomach. The guests seated around you begin to eat, gorging themselves on the bountiful feast. At last, it’s time to tuck in.

But as you try to reach for the shredded duck, a terrible realisation dawns: you can’t move. You are completely paralysed; every limb immobile. You have no choice but to sit and stare as those around you cram their crumb-flecked mouths with food and drink.

This imaginary scenario is my overblown analogy for the excruciating unfairness of staggered release dates. Take Batman Arkham City for example, which releases TODAY in North America. European gamers are forced to endure the squeals of delight as their American cousins explore the grimy streets of Arkham City. As a long-suffering citizen of Europe I have to wait another three days before I get to join the party. Three fucking days. It took less time to create the universe.

Now I don't know about you, but sloppy seconds just 'aint my style. I can forgive obscure Japanese RPGs that require translation and localisation before they're released into the wild, but a game like Arkham City? No, no, fucking no. There’s no reason why this title couldn't have been assigned a single global release date. Instead, European gamers have to bend over and take it up the poop chute. With no lube.

Forced to endure three days of ceaseless, excited tweets about how Arkham City is the best game of the year, the best game of ALL TIME. Three days of pointless, cruel waiting. I could be hit by a bus in three days, snatched from this mortal coil before I’d even had the chance to ogle Cat Woman’s leather-clad arse. If I'd been at home playing Arkham City - like the rest of the fucking world - I'd have been out of harm’s way.

Don't you see? Abolishing staggered release dates will SAVE LIVES.

Assassin's Creed Revelations - E3 Trailer Continued

Assassin's creed Revelations - E3 Trailer Continued

Assassin's creed Revelations - E3 Trailer ContinuedMore content on Learn Ezio's fate with this extended version of the E3 trailer

Monday, October 17, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Serial Killer Achievement Guide

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Serial Killer Achievement Guide

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Serial Killer Achievement GuideGeoff and Jack show you how and where to get the Serial Killer Achievement in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assassin's Creed 2: Guard Escape / Distraction Tactics

Assassin's Creed 2: Guard Escape / Distraction Tactics

Assassin's Creed 2: Guard Escape / Distraction Click above to watch the previous episode of Headshot! Assassin's Creed 2: Headshot (Guard Escape / Distraction Tactics) S1E16 ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Gamescom Trailer (HD 720p)

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Gamescom Trailer (HD 720p)

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Gamescom Trailer (HD 720p)Twitter: Name: Assassin's Creed: Revelations Release Date: November 15th, 2011 Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Publisher(s ...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Assassin's Creed - Lineage (Part 2)

Assassin's Creed - Lineage (Part 2)

Assassin's Creed - Lineage (Part 2)... Pursuing Sforza's assassin's, Giovanni arrives in Venice where he intercepts a coded letter from the members of the conspiracy. Decoding this ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Things You Didn't Know About Halo 2

Chris Butcher - Bungie’s senior engineering lead - described the game’s development as a “three-act tragedy.”

Bungie’s two founders had left the game – Alex Seropian had quit to return to Chicago, and Jason Jones was working on another project – and Halo 2 was instead being lead “by a committee,” said Butcher, “who were trying to deliver something impossible…we were standing there after E3 2003 saying, we can’t possibly build this game.”

The initial graphics engine used for Halo 2 was totally unsuited to the Xbox. “We had these levels that just really didn’t make sense with the Halo engine or any kind of shooter engine”, said Butcher. The new tech had to be considerably scaled back.

The experience of Halo 2 changed Bungie. The studio introduced new systems and processes from Halo 3 onwards, which enabled it to better coordinate development, and enable it to experiment without risking huge and complicated delays.

Halo 2’s multiplayer swallowed a huge amount of Bungie’s time and resources. Having to create multiplayer maps that looked as good as singleplayer contributed to its late running. In fact, Bungie’s input shaped the development of Xbox Live itself. The developers liaised with Microsoft engineers building the first - and still the best –console gaming network.

The multiplayer maps were enlarged from the original. They’re multi-tiered, labyrinthine and always offer several different routes to a single all-important location. Brilliantly, the best weapons are placed in the most exposed positions, creating satisfying risk/reward scenarios. It’s a design choice that’s been used in every Halo game since.

New species join the burgeoning alien congregation, most noticeably the Prophets and Brutes with their devastating melee attacks. Elites and Jackals are upgraded to have access to new weapons like the Covenant Carbine and Beam Rifle. Halo 2 also introduced vehicle hijacking, providing both balance and crowd-pleasing spectacle.

Having planned a final dramatic showdown on the surface of earth, Bungie had to cut the final act entirely just to get the game finished in time. We see Master Chief promising to “finish the fight,” then… the credits. It was a disappointment to players and Bungie themselves. Audio lead Jay Weinland admitted it “had most Halo players throwing their controllers at their TVs”. Chief Operating Officer Pete Parsons went further: “a gigantic flaming turd of failure, would probably be the right way to describe it.”

The month Halo 2 launched was the only month in the original Xbox’s lifespan in which it turned a profit. But its legacy was less the singleplayer campaign and more the multiplayer, which became the most popular game on Xbox Live on launchday and stayed there for the life of the Xbox, until it was dislodged by Gears of War on Xbox 360.

Which isn’t to say that Bungie was entirely satisfied with that, either. “Even the multiplayer experience for Halo 2 is a pale shadow of what it could and should have been if we had gotten the timing of our schedule right.” Chris Butcher told Edge in 2007. “It’s astounding to me. I cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it”.

Assassin's Creed Universe [UK]

Assassin's Creed Universe [UK]

Assassin's Creed Universe [UK]More info on: History is our playground... join us. This video collects the sum total of all media created for the ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Assassin's Creed : Embers -- Ezio's Last Chapter

Assassin's Creed : Embers -- Ezio's last chapter

Assassin's Creed : Embers -- Ezio's last chapterMore info on: Discover the new Assassin's Creed animated short movie. Embers is Ezio's coda -- the final chapter in a story ...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Assassin's Creed Revelations - E3 Trailer Continued

Assassin's creed Revelations - E3 Trailer Continued

Assassin's creed Revelations - E3 Trailer ContinuedMore content on Learn Ezio's fate with this extended version of the E3 trailer

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dark Souls: Initial Impression

Believe the hype. Dark Souls is harder than a porn star on viagra. Before purchasing the game, I’d been joking on twitter about drinking raw eggs and shadow boxing in preparation for this sordid exercise in masochism. The truth is, I had been mentally psyching myself up. The word-of-mouth buzz, the breathless, reverential reviews, the ‘prepare to die’ marketing blurb – it all coalesced into something rather exciting. The last time I remember feeling this way was just before I watched The Exorcist. That same queasy thrill turned my stomach as I fired up my Xbox and prepared to play Dark Souls.

Like many action-RPG’s there’s a Character Creation screen to navigate before the game begins. Gotta confess, I’m not a fan of bespoke protagonists. The more choice I’m given, the more I’m convinced that I’ve made the wrong choice. After selecting my gender (male) and class (knight) I then had to choose a ‘gift’. Just to give you some idea of how baffling the choices are, one of the gifts available is a Pendant, which has ‘no effect, but fond memories comfort travellers’. Eh? After plumping for something named Twin Humanities - a ‘tiny sprite sometimes found on carcasses’ - I was ready to play.

You start in a tiny dungeon cell. A corpse is unceremoniously dumped beside you from an opening in the ceiling above. Searching the shrivelled cadaver rewards you with a key with which to unlock the cell door. As you proceed through the dimly lit corridors, you’re slowly drip-fed tidbits of information from engravings on the ground. For example, ‘Left Stick + Hold B: Dash'. You soon pick up a shield and a sword, and the few undead you encounter pose little threat: a few swipes and down they go.

That’s not to say the combat is easy. Hell no. Movement is slow and sluggish, as though your character is moving through syrup. Below your health bar is an additional stamina bar. If you so much as sneeze your stamina takes a severe hit. When it’s depleted, you’re utterly vulnerable to attack. Thankfully, stamina recovers as quickly as it empties, but it’s still something you’re constantly weary of.

The overriding sensation as you press on through the dank dungeon corridors and the empty stone courtyards is one of overwhelming loneliness. Everything wants to kill you. And they will kill you. Over and over again. It’s bleak. The first time you encounter an Asylum Demon is a humbling experience. This huge, green, club-wielding brute literally fills the entire room. There’s hardly any free space to manoeuvre. When one of his wide-reaching swings connects – and it will connect, over and over again – you’re sent crashing to the floor, health bar all but decimated, and before you’ve got a chance to dust yourself off, another blow, this time fatal.

That green bastard has killed me over twenty times, and I’ve yet to knock his health bar below the half way mark. Yes, it’s fucking hard, insanely frustrating and, if I’m being entirely honest, not particularly enjoyable. And yet, as I’m writing this, I know I’ll keep at it until, eventually, I fell that murderous douche bag. I just feel sorry for the poor bastards who had to review this to a deadline.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Story Trailer

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Story Trailer

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Story TrailerIf you are striving for information on the solo campaign of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. This is an absolute MUST WATCH video! Give your ...