Archive for the ‘Impressions’ Category

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Assassin’s Creed II Initial Impressions

January 5, 2010

Now that I’ve finally gotten round to starting Assassin’s Creed II I have some impressions of the first hour and a half or so. Personally, I enjoyed the original game, well most of it. It had many apparant flaws and there were some majorly bad design choices but the groundwork was solid and it managed to be enjoyable for the most part. Despite only playing the sequel for an hour and a half so far, I already know that it has been much improved.

Everything has been improved and tightened to make it more consistently enjoyable. The mechanics all feel a lot more solid, even the polished platforming of the original has been improved by being even more fluid than before. Hand to hand combat has been completely overhauled and is now actually useful. Punches can be chained now, similar to the sword attacks and you are able to grapple opponents. Upon grappling you can use various other attacks which keeps the fist fights fun and fluid. Sword fighting is tighter now. I haven’t been able to use it much but counters and blocks seem a lot smoother. In fact, the whole combat system is a lot smoother.

The gameplay isn’t the only thing that has improved to a much higher standard. The plot is already very interesting and the narrative is better. Ubisoft deserve a lot of praise for this because the story and storytelling were superb before and were some of the highlights in the first Assassin’s Creed. It starts pretty much directly after the first game. This leads to more out-of-animus gameplay than the entire of the first game combined. Desmond now possesses the ability to run (Shocking, eh?) and is more than capable of kicking a bit of ass. This is one of the narrative aspects that have been improved to make the story flow better.

If you liked the first Assassin’s Creed then I’m positive you’ll love this. All of the best things from the original return but they have been improved and are accompanyed by more. However, even if you disliked the original then I still suggest taking a look because the chances are that Ubisoft have fixed all of your issues. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to play some more.

Note: I’m currently using my iPod Touch to write this so please excuse any issues there may be with the post.

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Dante’s Inferno Demo Impressions

December 14, 2009

EA’s rather controversial game, Dante’s Inferno is based on the Divine Comedy and puts you in the role of Dante. However, the term “based on” should be used very loosely as there have been some very drastic changes. The main one being that Dante is now more focused on kicking ass than writing. The fact that Dante is now a warrior rather than an author leads the tale to be a lot more gruesome and violent.

I loved this idea though. Taking the concepts behind the Divine Comedy but making it more action focused would allow for battles against some fantastically designed and really interesting enemies. That is one of Dante’s Inferno’s strong points that were apparent before it was even released. Both the world and the enemies are brilliantly designed. The bog standard enemies that I came across were exactly as you would expect: weak, frail and not the most exciting, or boring for the matter. Some of the enemies I came across, particularly the bigger ones, looked great though which allows the player to get hooked into the universe.  The world itself also boast a great artistic design and the artists have done a very good job of making Hell look viscous and evil, yet cool and interesting. All of this is supported by the good graphics; they’re not amazing but are definitely good and very gory. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Uncharted 2 Officially Kicks Ass!

October 14, 2009

Uncharted 2 Screenshot2

To put it simply, Uncharted 2 does indeed kick ass. I was fortunate enough to receive my Special Edition copy today which is two days earlier than the UK release date and I’ve been playing quite a bit of it. I haven’t touched the multiplayer yet. The multiplayer was always going to be an added bonus for me, the single player is why I wanted Uncharted 2. So far the single player has been fantastic and I have some impressions of it below. I didn’t make them too big though because I want to get back to playing the game!

In all of Uncharted 2‘s gameplay areas there has been a big improvement. The shooting feels a lot more solid and it’s definitely more refined. The platforming and general movement is a lot smoother than the original. Everything flows together really well which is aided by the great animation. The physical combat is better now and allows you to perform a handful of new moves. Enemies try and counter your attacks now but you can counter them back which creates some really fun fights.

The missions have been improved too with more variety and better set pieces. There is a stealth section but unlike most shooters it doesn’t feel tacked on; Uncharted’s gameplay works very well when your trying to keep stealthy. With the exception of the first stealth section you get the choice to do things stealthily or not. If you want you can sneak about and snap a few necks or you can just run in and shoot them all. Not all situations can be resolved silently though. Some of the set pieces are amazing and make for some really intense parts of the game. I don’t want to give any away because it’s better if you don’t know about them before playing but trust me, they are amazing.

Uncharted 2 Among Thieves

Graphically it looks even better than the first game and is one of the best looking games ever. Everything is highly detailed. The lighting is just as good as the first game too. Unlike a lot of games this generation, Uncharted has quite a bit of colour to it rather than grays, blacks and browns everywhere which does give it an advantage graphically.

The story so far has been very interesting and it just seems to keep on getting better. I’m not going to spoil anything but thanks to really well written script and the great cast of characters it will have you hooked from the start. Drake is still as witty as ever and all of the other characters do a good job too.

So far, I’ve loved and I really want to stress how good this game is. Gameplay wise it’s brilliant and while it doesn’t do anything mind blowingly new it’s one of the most polished and refined games I’ve ever played. Everything about it so far has been amazing and I can’t see that change at all.

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WET demo impressions

August 21, 2009

 Wet screenshot

WET was either going to be a hit or a miss, or at least it seemed that way. It had a great amount of potential and the only way we were going to find out if it lived to it was by actually playing the game. If they mucked it up, it would be a complete mess of a game that would be completely unplayable after the first fifteen minutes. Fortunately it turned out to be good though.

The demo can be split into three sections where each offers a different part of the game. In terms of being a demo it is very good as it gives you a good impression of what the game will be like. The first section starts with a part you may have seen in the trailers, the “here we go” part. It gives you a quick tutorial and then the chance to kick some ass. You learn the basic acrobatic moves before getting any real action. Jumping, sliding and wall running can all be used to kill people and can be linked together to an extent (It’s not as good as Mirror’s Edge with linking moves together though). Whenever you are performing some form of acrobatic and start shooting you will automatically go into bullet time. This may sound repetitive and boring but it wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t in the demo. It looked cool and was fun every time. It may not be the most intelligent and in depth combat in a game but it definitely fits right in place here.

Anyway after learning the basic acrobatics you will fight a few guys to test it on and it works really well. Using all your moves to defeat the enemies looks very cool and stylish which is what WET is about anyway. As the first section progresses you will quickly pickup on all the other moves like sliding down ladders and shooting, swinging and using the sword. All of these manage to look cool and work well enough. Hopefully there will be more sword moves in the final games as it needs to be a bit more fleshed out so it doesn’t get repetitive. I was happy to see some moves not available in the move list which hopefully means that the whole upgrade system will add more to the game.

The end part of this section puts you against infinitely re-spawning enemies but you can stop this. Above each gate there is a spawn stopper or something and when destroyed it will make a metal barrier fall stopping enemies from attacking. This area is filled with places to run and swing across so you can have quite a bit a fun before stopping the enemies. Though there isn’t much to interact with in WET which is a shame as there could have been some even cooler moves available.

The second section lets you play in Rage mode. This is when Rubi is just pissed and wants to kill as much as she can. It allows more points to be gained than normal and is pretty fun. The gameplay becomes faster but the main difference is the visuals. A red filter goes over everything to make it look even bloodier than it actually is. The enemies are in black though. It looks pretty impressive and really fits in with the style of the game. You will get to try out the shotguns and machine guns in this section too but it doesn’t make that much of a difference as you’re basically just running and shooting in this section.

The third section is mainly a quick time event. You jump between vehicles in the QTE and then are able to shoot in the air and on top of vehicles. It looks pretty cool and plays well when you’re shooting at cars. I normally don’t mind QTE but I didn’t like this one, well I thought it was okay but it really should have been in game. It would have been much better if it was a completely playable section. Using all of your acrobatics on moving objects would have felt so damn cool.

The style deserves a lot of praise and has captured the grindhouse/Tarrantino feel really well. The music fits in great, the filter over the screen is done really well and the in game environments/characters would all look right in place in a grindhouse film. Everything looks really cool and is extremely over the top too, just like most grindhouse films.

There are some problems though. Graphically it isn’t very good but I can live with that, they don’t stop the game from being very fun. Movement can be a bit clunky at times which ruins any fluidity you may start to feel. My major problem is that the full game will be devoid of replay value. It may be worth a second playthrough on a higher difficulty but I doubt I will play it much after that. Hopefully there will be something amazing to bring me back.

The three sections give a good impression of what WET will be like. It’s fast, fun and very, very stylish. It suffers from a lack of depth but I still think it will be a good game.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Demo Impressions

August 8, 2009

batman-arkham_asylum

I’ve been following Batman: Arkham Asylum for a while now and it looked very impressive. It seemed to have very solid mechanics and looked like it would be the truly good Batman game fans had been hoping for. Now that the demo’s out I’ve been able to come up with an idea of how the game will play and I am very impressed with most of it. The demo is available to download for PS3, 360 and PC.

One thing that I knew before playing the demo is that the graphics were very good. The character models look great and the environments are excellent. There is lots of detail in the environments and there was no slow down, pop in or anything in the demo. Whether this will reflect on the full game is a different matter though. The animations are superb though. The fighting looks very smooth and Batman’s cape looks amazing.

Now onto the gameplay. The fighting is the main focus of the demo and it gives you a decent amount of enemies to try it on. You can use quick punches or heavy punches. The quick punches are what will be primarily used as the heavy punches are normally just used to stun the enemy. You can string together a good few combos and moving between enemies is very fluid. You can give a few punches to one guy and then spin round and kick another which makes combat good fun. You can also counter enemies which is also very fluid with the rest of the combat. My only complaint with the fighting is that is seems to be lacking depth and could get repetitive in the full game if you don’t unlock more combos as the game progresses. Apart from that though, it works very well and is very fun to use.

There is also a stealth side to the game which I thought was a lot better than the combat. You are able to activate detective mode which puts you into an infrared vision allowing you to pick up more detail. You can see all nearby enemies and when you get closer you can examine their equipment and status. This all works very well and allows you to plan out attacks before starting them. To remain hidden you can use high up places, such as gargoyle statues sticking out from the wall. You can grapple onto these and to get a better view of the enemy. The final part of the demo puts you in a room with five guards who you need to take down. There are lots of ways to do this. You can try and sneak up behind them and silently take them down, you can glide kick them, you can hang from a gargoyle and use an inverted takedown, you can use specific environmental takedowns and more. Each time is different and the A.I will always respond differently to your actions.

The A.I is very good in Arkham Asylum. They will work together if they know you are there and if they feel confident that they can take you down then they will be more competent, if they are scared they will be easier to takedown. This works really, really well. There was one point where a guard’s status was “terrified” and when the Joker spoke over the intercom he jumped and started shooting behind him (I was watching him from above). My favourite thing about this part though was giving him a fright myself. I jumped down behind him and waited for him to turn around. When he did, he cowered in fear and then tried to attack me but I was too quick and beat him up before he had the change to move.

The voice acting is also worth mentioning. It is very good for the most part, especially Mark Hamill as the Joker who really makes him sound like the crazy, psychotic, messed up person he is. The other voice acting is good too but the Joker looks like he may just steal the show.

My only major problem with the demo was the difficulty. I never died once; it was really, really easy. I rarely even got hit in combat and in the stealth parts I might as well be invincible. Hopefully this is just an easy part of the game or there are other difficulty modes that do revamp the difficulty.

If the demo is anything to go by Arkham Asylum will be a superb game. This should be the Batman game that the fans have been wanting for years. There are some great ideas in Arkham Asylum and as long as they continue to be just as fun in the full game then we’re onto a great game.

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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Initial Impressions

August 2, 2009

Riddick

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena comes with two games in one package. First of all there is a graphically updated version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (Originally on the Xbox) and second of all there is The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (If I have to write The Chronicles of Riddick one more time…). Butcher Bay was received very well but I had never played it so I started with it.

Both the original Butcher Bay and the remake were developed by Starbreeze Studios (The Darkness) and Tigon Studios (Vin Diesels own company). It wasn’t until playing The Darkness that I had even heard of Starbreeze though and after playing this I know to expect top quality games coming from them in the future. I never bought this on release because I didn’t think it would be worth the full £40 and managed to get if for £16. Yes, I’m happy that I got a good deal but this would have definitely been worth full price.

So far Butcher Bay has been really immersive. It feels like you are moving a person, there is weight to the movement. You can also see your entire body when moving and/or fighting. Regular readers will know that I love being able to see your body in games because it really adds to the immersion. When using your fist or melee weapons you will see your arms move across the screen putting somebody through a lot of main and once again this adds to the immersion of the game. I do wish that the entire game was in first person though, there a few bits where it changes to third person (climbing, shimmying etc) and it would work really well if it stayed in first person. It would have been good if the cutscenes were in first person too. However, this is only a minor complaint and the game does remain very immersive.

Combat wise the game is very good, like I’ve already mentioned using melee attacks look very impressive. They can often be useful for single enemies but aren’t the best for groups, unless the groups don’t have guns. The stealth attacks from behind look very cool and are also very useful for quickly taking out enemies. The stealth is very rewarding and is you are willing to use it; it is the most satisfying option. However you can stick to blasting people with guns all you like. The shooting is solid and the assisted aim allows you to target most things pretty easily. That doesn’t stop the game from being bastardly hard sometimes though. There is a bit I’m on right now where I need to run through a big bunch of enemies, all equipped with guns, and all I have is a knuckle duster, a screw driver and a club. It’s tough but I’ll get it done. The boss I fought was quite tough as well, not impossible but it put up a fight.

I really like the level design too. Each of the areas I have been to so far have been relatively open and have allowing a bit of exploring to be done. There have been some interesting characters to talk to and receive side quests from too which will add a bit more to the game.

Graphically the game is amazing. Judging from screenshots of the original Butcher Bay this is a massive improvement. Character models and environments all look excellent. The lighting is fantastic too.

Butcher Bay is filled with lots of things that make it different from most other First Person Shooters. As I’ve already mentioned there is the stealth and open areas but there are also a lot more. You can use money to buy new items such as weapons or collectables. You can talk with most characters and you are often given dialogue choices where you choose what to say. The atmosphere is also very good.

So far I am very impressed with Butcher Bay and if this level of quality maintains throughout the rest of the game I will be even more impressed. The fact that I still have Dark Athena to keep me going after Butcher Bay and a multiplayer mode too is suggesting that I’ll be playing for a while too.

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First Look: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

July 26, 2009

Nuts and Bolts Logo

An hour really isn’t enough time to review a game or even give detailed impressions of it so I’m quickly (Well, it was originally going to be quickly) going to give my initial thoughts of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts after an hour’s play.

First of all I should point out that I haven’t played the Nintendo 64 Banjo-Kazooie games so Nuts and Bolts is my first dose of it. I think there have been loads of references to the previous games, but I’m not entirely sure. It should meet the nostalgia requirement of any long term fans though. The game starts out with both Banjo and Kazooie sitting around doing nothing important (Eating and playing 360). They are both out of shape and are definitely not ready for another adventure. It just happens to be though that Gruntilda the witch (The main villain of the previous games) has escaped from the landslide of rocks that I assume trapped her in Banjo-Tooie. However, she is only a skull and is incapable of doing much damage. Both Banjo and Kazooie notice this and head off to stop her. When you get into control you are very slow due to a lack of exercise since they haven’t been in a game for a while. When you meet Grunty (Gruntilda) you almost end up fighting but the fight is paused (Yes, paused) by a mysterious person known as L.O.G. L.O.G. stands for Lord of Games and is in control of all games. He decided that it would be better to have you and Grunty collect as many collectables as possible but shortly after this race starts he changes his mind and decides that this game is too outdated. So he decides to send you and Grunty into a new game. He gives Grunty a new body and puts Banjo and Kazooie back into shape. And thus Nuts and Bolts comes to a start.

You are given a magic wrench which can levitate objects and move them, as well as hit people with. L.O.G. gives you this to start a new game where Grunty is given a mechanical army. Your magic wrench is needed to stop her which will no doubt happen in due time. You can use it to build and customize vehicles which has already been a big focus of the game. From my short experience with the customizing options they are very good and should let me build some very good vehicles in the future. The platforming is also top notch as you would expect. Controlling Banjo feels very good and the controls themselves also work well.

The game has been very funny so far and I have already laughed a few times. The charm filled characters and world is often what makes it so humorous. Some of the characters are really funny.

If any of the information above is incorrect, don’t blame me. Blame the guy who decided to put in very, very small text that can only be read properly on a HDTV. If you have bad eyesight and don’t have a HDTV, you better stay away from this because you won’t be able to see a thing. Since the characters don’t speak it can be very hard to realize what has just happened. Apparently there is an update though that solves this but I don’t have Xbox LIVE yet.

I know I haven’t played Nuts and Bolts a lot yet but so far it is looking like it will be a very enjoyable adventure. As long as the humor and charm continues I’ll be a happy chappy.