Is the Lego Movie Videogame, one Lego videogame too far?

Lego Movie

When I first clapped eyes on the trailer for the Lego film I was blown away by how good it looked. Warner Bros had decided in their fantastical wisdom not to try and emulate the reasonable CGI efforts of the Traveller’s Tales film Lego Batman The Movie. They decided instead to go for a much more extreme yet beautiful approach. The film was to be stop motion animation.

As a result it looks fantastic and as obvious as it sounds, using real bricks makes it look more, well, real. So when you watch the trailer for Lego Movie the videogame and there’s film footage right next door to the CGI game footage, the game footage looks, well a bit pants. It’s like placing a natural beautiful woman next to a giant Barbie Doll.

I know that Traveller’s Tales are very excited to inform us that this is the first title where all the scenery is made up of individual Lego bricks but it still isn’t enough for it to compare to the stop animated majesty of the film.

Lego Movie Videogame

TT are also keen to note changes to the traditional Lego gameplay. Rather than having the main character (in this case Emmet, the overly enthusiastic builder), take control of constructing items at the press of a button, players must now collect instruction sheets. Once these have been found, Emmet can figure out what it is he has to build, and players then have to place the required blocks into the correct order themselves. This is, on the face of it, a nice idea that strongly references real Lego. But to be honest, I don’t want to play a Lego simulator! Personally I play videogames as an escape, I don’t want things to be as realistic as possible, I don’t want the next Super Mario to be called Microsoft Plumbing Simulator 2014. If I wanted to play with a Lego set, I would play with a Lego set. It’s true that Lego is expensive and for the cost of the Lego Movie Videogame and console to play it on you probably would only just get a decent sized set. But Lego Videogames shouldn’t be an alternative to real Lego.

This new method of play just takes the old mechanic and stretches it out, giving the player an extra set of collectibles and even more complicated execution. In doing this, Lego haven’t re-invented the wheel like they had hoped, but given us some spokes, a tyre, an inner tube and a vague idea as to where the instructions are for us to put the whole thing together.

Lego City Undercover

Players are probably going to get bored very quickly. I really was hoping that Lego City Undercover was going to be the best game ever recently. The trailer promised a family friendly Lego equivalent to GTA V. In a way it delivered upon that promise, providing an open world with an amusing script and great voice acting that made me feel like I was living in a funny cartoon. Unfortunately, there were entire levels where I was forced to grit my teeth and carry out the same tasks that I had been forced to undertake in countless Lego Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman titles that sucked my initial enthusiasm and enjoyment out of the game.

This same criticism could also be levelled at GTA. Rockstar have developed their franchises a lot further than Traveller’s Tales have been able to, bringing the GTA open world style to the West with Red Dead Redemption and creating arguably the most exciting GTA game yet with a rich and exciting environment to explore. GTA V’s new three interchangeable character system also adds a new dimension to the old run and gun missions and this new dynamic has also drastically improved the story telling. The controls in GTA V have been tightened up too, indoor gun battles are no longer the arduous slog they used to be where doors would prove as much a hindrance as enemies.

GTA V

However, just as my line of thought and argument begins too, let me ask one final time, is the Lego franchise slowly running out of steam? Surely Traveller’s Tales can only keep slapping new faces and models onto old gameplay styles for so long, at some point they have to reach saturation and most gamers will have played enough Lego games to know how they are going to play.

Fifa 14

Having said that though, on cue every year a new Fifa title arrives and every year a new Fifa finds itself at the top of the best-seller list. Unlike Fifa and GTA though TT seem to be creating more titles than they are innovations. Even EA completely change their control scheme and graphics engine from time to time. Having said that though, people are fond of familiarity, like the cosy old sofa that all of your friends tell you smells like rotting curry, but you can’t bring yourself to throw it away because it fits your body so perfectly in its cosseting groove and getting rid of a sofa is a nightmare anyway. Especially in London when no one you know has a car.

People go to the cinema and turn on their Televisions every night and watch the same plots rehashed over and over again with different character names from the meat grinder that is Hollywood. Maybe this kind of stagnating mentality will keep the Lego games going for as long as Traveller’s Tales are willing to keep applying new lacquer to the franchise. Who knows? Not me, if I did I would be able to see into the future and if I could do that, well, I’d have a lottery ticket and I wouldn’t need to be churning out this nonsense. I just hope that Traveller’s Tales are able to inject something new into the Lego franchise before gamers wake up and realise they have been playing the same game for the past ten years and this once quirky, unique, fun franchise becomes ridiculed and sidelined.

Advertisements

DIGESTIVE GAMING NEWS 3RD FEB – 10TH FEB 2014

This week, much to the delight of Nintendo, SEGA announced two new Sonic titles that mark a reboot in the franchise. Nintendo were happy for two reasons, the first was that both titles are Nintendo exclusives, one for the 3DS and one for the Wii U. The second reason is that after revealing the artwork for the game, the internet decided to give Nintendo a break, and like a swarm of hornets began buzzing about how rubbish the redesigned characters look.

Sonic Boom

 

Sonic and chums now have slightly longer limbs, this was probably in an effort to make them look more humanoid and thus easier to relate too. Maybe it would have been easier for us to relate to a cartoon hedgehog who can run at the speed of sound if SEGA included a story line where Sonic had to take a job part time at McDonalds just to come up with his rent money. Knuckles also looks like he has spent quite a lot of time in the gym recently, while he and Sonic both have bandages wrapped around their arms like boxers. Maybe they have been training for appearances in the next Smash Bros? Maybe Marketing just thought it made them look like ‘cool urban boxer type tough guys’. Who Knows.

 

The Internet also claimed another victim this week in the form of Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen. The popular free to play title has had many gamers in uproar because they felt the pipes that featured in the title were ripped from the warp pipes in Super Mario. Well at least that’s what they claim, I have a sneaking suspicion that the keyboard warriors weren’t happy that one of their own was successful and able to move out of his mums basement. The gaming purists also probably weren’t chuffed about sharing there past time with a bunch of nonces who use iPhones either.  Nguyen decided to take Flappy Bird out of circulation in response to the wave of bile being projected towards him and as a result the title is no  longer available to download from the Apple app or Google Play store. Some legal analysts have stated this was a shrew move on Nguyen’s part as opposed to an emotional one as he would have no way of defending himself against legal proceedings from Nintendo should they pursue him in court.

Flappybird

 

Hideo Kojima was another game designer being forced to defend himself this week. Its been unveiled that the average completion time for the new Metal Gear Solid title, Ground Zeroes, will only take around 2 hours to complete. In my opinion this seems acceptable as the title is meant to serve as an introduction to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which is to be launched later on this year. Ground Zeroes is also available for pre-order at £20 here in the UK which is about the price of a brand new Blu Ray. Considering about an hour and a half of Ground Zeroes will be cut scenes the pricing seems about right.

 

Ground Zeroes

 

Activision have also announced that they will be switching the Call of Duty development cycle to three years as opposed to the standard two and thrown Sledgehammer Studios into the mix as a new developer. Activision have done this in response to critics who feel that the franchise is a little stretched out. Obviously increasing the production line and diluting the series even further is the best response to silence them.

CoD Ghosts

 

Not wanting CoD to steal all of the headlines, Battlefield announced that there is to be a new police style spin off from the main Battlefield franchise. To be honest this sounds like a promising thing. Battlefield has always worked well with huge expansive levels allowing a player to feel like they are inhabiting a full-blown warzone. Maybe a SWAT style spin off could add a more enclosed, claustrophobic element to the game where players are forced to use quick reactions to clear buildings as opposed to just demolish them with a Fighter Jet.

Battlefield4

Should You Wii U ?

Just before Christmas, one of the longest running generations of gaming history came to a close as self proclaimed ‘hardcore gamers’ tried to get their hands on the latest consoles, clawing over one another like Zombies trying to break into Jerusalem.

World War Z

Being an attractive highly sought after male with a crazy other half who insists on trying to adopt every single child we come across aren’t the only points that Brad Pitt and I share in common. Just like he manages to survive the Zombie outbreak in World War Z, I managed to avoid the hype-induced pandemic that had brain-swollen idiots purchasing £500 pictures of Xbox Ones from eBay.

Xbox One Fool

I decided I wanted to be different, and as such I decided to buy a console from the company who dares to be different. So I purchased a Wii U.

I used to be a huge Nintendo fan boy and shudder when I think back to my days of secondary school, laughing at people with Sony ‘Gay,’ Stations, because I was a homophobic, narrow minded, opinionated little shit who felt the N64 was king. Later on, the Gamecube extended my extremism. Pikmin is possibly the only RTS that works on a console. Rogue Squadron 2 translated the epic scale of an intergalactic space battle into the living room in a way never seen before, whilst Luigi’s Mansion and Eternal Darkness were perfect polarities off the survival horror genre.

Then came the Wii. Whilst the sales figures were astounding, Nintendo couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The Wii-mote had gamers waving their arms like they were parking a plane. Nintendo argued the new control scheme would create more immersive and unique experiences. Well, they were wrong, having tired arms and not being able to relax actually distanced players and only Nintendo themselves tried creating anything unique, whilst all other developers insisted on creating mini game compilations.

Wii Granny

This turned the Nintendo Wii into nothing more than a novelty item that the majority of owners put away after ten minutes only to stare at from time to time and wish it would play DVD’s. It also caused Nintendo to distance themselves from the core game playing market; those who are more than happy to buy hardware with the sole intent of playing videogames on, as opposed to those idiots who think that videogames are a waste of time and for nerds, yet make sure they have an overpriced smartphone with their mobile phone contract for no other reason than to play Angry Birds.

After sales of the Wii began to drop, Nintendo realised gamers were beginning to figure out that the Wii was just a Gamecube with a motion sensor. So they decided to bring their back catalogue kicking and screaming into the HD generation. Being Nintendo though, they simply weren’t going to make Wii HD. If Nintendo were in the business of making stationary, they would have been the guys to come up with the pencil, and rather than rest on their laurels and rake in the money they would have released the pencil with a rubber on it the following year, then the year after that we’d get colour!

Satoru Iwata President and CEO of Nintendo wanted a system that built upon the Wii’s control system and improved upon the graphics. But he also wanted a system that was compact and quiet, so parents wouldn’t object to it being in the living room, whilst keeping the price accessible. Nintendo really wanted to attract back the ‘hardcore’ gamer and burst their doors wide open to them, unfortunately none of them came back. Nintendo went from Yoshi’s Dream to Yoshi’s Nightmare in terms of home console sales over night and it’s easy to see why.

Those of a moobed disposition, sorry, ‘hardcore gamers’ as they like to refer to themselves, felt that the Wii U wasn’t powerful enough. The Wii U is certainly as graphically impressive as the PS3 and the 360, unfortunately the Wii U arrived just as Sony and Microsoft began promising the most realistic ever graphics with real fire that would actually burn your eyebrows off on the Xbox One and PS4. Epic games added fuel to the fire by demoing the latest Unreal 4 engine and stating that they wouldn’t be supporting Wii U. It certainly hasn’t helped the Wii U amongst the more intense gaming community that in it’s entire library of games there isn’t a single title that fully exploits the graphical prowess of the system to make a gritty and realistic world. The PS4 launched with Killzone Shadowfall, the Crysis of the console world, while Xbox One promised a blending of cinema and games with Ryse, where all the characters motions were captured using classically trained actors at Andy Serkis’s new motion capture centre.

It’s the environments of Killzone and Ryse that the more adult gamer wants to see. They want arteriel spray pissing everywhere like an exploded water main, perfectly rendered using the latest particle effect. They don’t care about how cool the new shadow effects look on a re-release of an 11 year old Zelda game.

Sad Link

Surely the pricing of the Wii U will lead it to becoming many gamers second console though? Unfortunately not, as cheap as £250 is when compared to a brand new Xbox One or PS4. Those of the serious gaming fraternity inhabit such disappointing lives that it’s very difficult to impress them as they extoll doom and gloom at every opportunity. They mistrust Nintendo’s promise that the Wii U’s pad actually helps to improve the console experience, probably because they are tainted by the disappointment of the Wii’s controls. To say the Wii revolutionised controller input is like seeing a flambé pudding in a restaurant and then calling the Firemen and claiming the place is on fire.

“Why don’t they just bundle the Wii U with a basic controller and make it even cheaper, I’d buy one then.” Is what most of the inspirationally challenged sweat producers tend to mash out on their Razer keyboards with pudgy fingers that overspill and miss their mark. Often resulting in the evolution of such hilarious new internet words like “pwn”.

Well, I’ll tell you for why, my chubby keyboard warrior. Because the pad is kind of the point of the whole system. Selling a Wii U without the pad would be like selling a chocolate éclair without the cream. Sure, you can’t leave the room that the system is in and OK, not all games make full use of the pad’s capabilities, a lot of the time its just a second screen, BUT it completely evolves the console experience.

Wii U

Say your partner is watching one of those generic by-the-numbers Disney ABC dramas like Castle or Grey’s Anatomy. Or say the system is in your bedroom and you fancy a quick game whilst they are sleeping/watching something. You can just turn on the gamepad and plug your earphones in and your away playing a full-blown game with console style graphics on a pad.

Sony are falling over themselves and have invested a fortune to deliver the same experience with the PS4 and the Vita, and although with Sony’s hardware its an optional experience, it’s a damned site more expensive.

PS4 PS Vita Bundle

The games that do take advantage of the pad do so fantastically. The Wonderful 101 would be incredibly difficult to control without being able to swipe a quick shape on the screen to align all of your heroes accurately. It finally offers a system of control that previously only PC gamers enjoyed with their Mice.

Lego City Undercover also does a fantastic job of using the pad to immerse players in the game experience. Characters from the . Satoru Iwata announced this week that the Wii U is to receive a firmware update that will allow the use of the pad to quickboot into a game. Meaning you will be able to bypass the system’s OS when first turning the Wii U on and jump straight into a game. This will cut loading times by 50%

In terms of the physical buttons on the pad, Nintendo have now provided players with the standard dual thumb stick and trigger buttons that Nintendo players have been calling out for since Sony released the Dual Analog. As a result the Wii U’s pad is probably the best controller Nintendo has ever made.

Even with all of these positives gamers still aren’t happy, keen to point out that the new Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze actually de-activates the screen on the pad if you are using the TV as the main display. Well my response to this is, so what? If you are not going to be looking at the screen on the pad surely its nice to have it disabled to improve battery life?

“Yeah, but if you are using the screen on the pad then the picture on the tv is disabled.”

My point still stands. The game may as well be displaying images of kittens wrapped in barbed wire being thrown into microwaves on the secondary screen, because if you don’t need to use it for controller input or aren’t even looking at it, then you aren’t going to see it. Whether you chose the controller screen or your TV, how many other consoles actually give you a choice?

Lego City Undercover Wii U

I bought the Lego City Undercover bundle from Amazon,  I wouldn’t usually use Amazon and while their bundle was the same price as everywhere else, they also included an additional copy of Lego Batman 2 as well. It turns out that everyone has a price, and mine is the cost of an average port that suffers from terrible multiplayer controls.

To give you an idea of the size of the base unit its about 4 inches longer than a DVD case and probably 2 inches wider. You can rest it upright on the included pair of feet or just lay it flat. The length might be a little awkward for any hipsters with bare minimalist tiny shelves that really bring out the brickwork in their open plan flat in Hackney, those who actually deserve human rights should be fine though. It’s a really quiet system too, the only time it really becomes audible is when it’s reading from the optical drive.

When I was manhandling the system into place by the TV it felt really solid and well built. The pad also has no flex in it at all and the buttons seem perfectly balanced and unlikely to cause any problems in the future. Of all the Nintendo consoles I have owned over the years I have never had a single technical issue with any of them apart from when my Game Boy screen covering fell out after 12 years of service.

Aesthetically speaking, Nintendo really have created the blandest console ever. If the Wii U was the cuisine of a single nation you definitely wouldn’t say it was Japanese. It’s more British in that its completely inoffensive and very bland. This isn’t really a valid complaint in the argument as to whether or not you should buy a Wii U and I feel shallow for bringing it up but the N64, Gamecube and Wii were all very iconic designs, and the shape of the SNES pad is something that is imprinted into gaming culture’s collective consciousness.

However looks aren’t everything (thankfully, otherwise I’d be screwed, I may claim to look like Brad Pitt but I also think that a Cheese Burger Crust Pizza is a balanced meal so you can see how my view of reality is skewed slightly.) What really sells systems is exclusive titles and recognisable franchises.

The Wonderful 101

In my opinion, the following Wii U titles are all worth paying full price for: The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Sonic Lost World and Lego City Undercover. Lets also not forget that Batman Arkham City and Deus Ex both received overhauls in order to take advantage of the Wii U controller and provide the definitive versions. These are also worth picking up if you haven’t managed to play them already.

Pikmin3

If you take into account that Nintendo somehow, and I can only imagine it involved a ritual sacrifice, managed to gain exclusive rights to Capcom’s Bayonetta 2, plus the fact that we are going to be treated to Mario Kart 8 and a new Smash Bros this year, then the Wii U’s library actually looks a lot stronger than the PS4’s and the Xbox One’s. I’m also very interested to see how Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs will run on the Wii U. Ubisoft would be insane not to fully utilise the Wii U gamepad in a title that sees the hero running around hacking things with his PDA.

Watch Dogs

Can I recommend a Wii U then? Yes I can, despite the internet exuding negativity towards the Wii U like a fat person sweats, there are loads of great exclusive titles. There are also some great deals to be had out there as shops are desperate to shift stock. I recommend, and what I wish I had done, would be to get the cheapest base 8gb unit and then buy an external HD. You can find a list of recommended HDD’s on Nintendo’s website, and they are so easy to set up, that I can forgive the miniscule amount of internal memory.

Nintendo haven’t quite got the online services cracked just yet, but traditionally the big N felt that multiplayer was best served face to face with split screen modes. They are improving though and my experiences of Netflix and Lovefilm have been great. I have also watched a few films on the controller, the screen of which, doesn’t have the detail of the higher end tablets and is sharp and bright enough for it to serve as a viable alternative to your tv set. The touch screen also makes navigating the vast menus easier and less cumbersome than the 360 and PS3 counterparts.

For those that live in the UK iPlayer and other on demand services such as 4oD are not yet available. However, the BBC made a statement earlier in January that they want to bring iPlayer to the Wii U and Xbox One by the end of the year. Nintendo in their infinite wisdom still hasn’t allowed DVD playback, but then who actually wants to use their Wii U as a DVD player when you have a mint conditioned Panasonic Q under your TV that you want to show off.

ZombiU

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget, that there was a bit of a Zombie problem for the Wii U at launch (although not quite the same as the PS4 and Xbox One’s). Its called ZombiU and should be avoided like the rotting festering corpse of a title that it is.

Super Mario 3D World

Review: Shadow Warrior 2013

shadow1

Who wants some Wang?

That’s the question we are being asked again by Flying Wild Hog with this reboot to the classic Shadow Warrior franchise. For those not familiar with the series, Shadow Warrior is an fps originally dreamt up by 3D realms, the same guys who brought the macho misogynistic Duke Nukem kicking and screaming into the world. Instead of Alien ass kicking and misogyny, with Wang we are dealt Demon slicing and borderline racism.

Much like Duke, Wang would quip his way through incredibly violent missions. If you have never played the original Shadow Warrior, I implore you to do so. It was one of my favorites as I grew up arriving a bit later than Duke Nukem 3D but using exactly the same BUILD engine. If you have a steam account then you can pick up the original for the amazing price of absolutely nothing, if you enjoy it, you can get the complete package with all of the add on packs for just £6.99.

FP3J4Qb

Now, many of you will be wondering why you should even care about Shadow Warrior. After all Duke Nukem Forever pretty much killed the Duke Nukem franchise. Well, Shadow Warrior is a bit different because it was picked up by a rather capable young studio, whose previous endeavor Hard Reset was a very promising first attempt at a fps. Also, Shadow Warrior wasn’t in development for decades, being rebuilt time and time again using newer game engines, only to be rushed out at the last minute because the studio was bankrupt.

As a result, Shadow Warrior feels like the game Duke Nukem Forever should have been. The graphics are very impressive, and the reflections on polished surfaces makes smothering them in blood even more satisfying. At times the sheer amount of visceral gore flying around the screen is like watching Leatherface skipping merrily through an abattoir leaving a monsoon of blood and guts in his wake.

Shadowhectic

Gameplay is fast, brutal and at times very hard, as a twitch shooter though, there is a huge amount of depth. Players are given the opportunity to build up Wang’s abilities and improve his arsenal using Karma Points, Money or Ki Crystals that are found or earned from slicing and dicing demons in a particularly stylish way.

 Guns get upgrades such as the ability to dual wield SMG’s, or even transform the shotgun into a quad barrel one that tears apart smaller demons like a starving tramp would tear apart a roast chicken. The weapons are all incredibly varied but it’s the Katana where Shadow Warrior really shines. An interesting alternative to Doom’s Chainsaw and Duke’s Fists in the original, the Katana used to be the last resort when ammo was depleted. In Lo Wang’s latest excursion, the Katana is the most satisfying weapon to use. Walking up a narrow stone path with a death-inducing drop either side, I had the most fun I have had in a game recently, chopping up a procession of Monsters, like a maniacal Chef creating a conveyor belt of Demonic Sushi. Lopping off limbs of monsters isn’t just visually rewarding, it also affect the demon’s ability to attack so by taking away the arm that carries his weapon you also seriously hinder their ability to do damage to Wang.

The Karma Points and Ki Crystals are where things get really interesting, bestowing upon Wang the ability to deal more devastating sword blows, the ability to block and repel damage and heal himself. I have to admit to being disappointed by the ability to self heal at first as I feel that the health regeneration mechanic is heavily over used in today’s fps genre, after COD popularised the technique having stolen it from Halo. COD’s and their subsequent copycats, use of a rechargeable health system in a supposedly ‘life-like’ setting where soldiers are able to ‘will’ gun shot wounds better is baffling. Its no wonder most Americans think that the Obama Care program is redundant when most of them spend the majority of their time plugged into Activision’s shooter online, vomiting a verbal tidal wave of hate and homophobia into their headsets.

ShadowMezu

In Shadow Warrior, Wang doesn’t auto heal, you have to heal him yourself using a basic button combo. It actually becomes a skill to learn when to quickly heal up and for how long in the middle of a firefight. Sometimes there will be so much carnage and mayhem on screen it is very easy to miss how low your health is, and before you realise Lo Wang has received anything more than a flesh wound, you’ll find yourself being tea bagged by the AI. As the game isn’t exactly pretending to be realistic, with fornicating bunny rabbits that turn demonic and attack should you kill enough of them, and the way the health regeneration is implemented, I actually see no fault with it being used in Shadow Warrior.

Shadowbunnies

The use of the button combo’s on the mouse to deal different attacks sword and magical attacks results in no two confrontations being the same. You can build up your magical shielding and slowly wade your way through demons hacking at them like an explorer would hack his way through the jungle. Or you can just use your powers throw monsters into the air and treat them like a Demon Pigeon shoot. There is also a move that can only be described as a Star Wars style force push that shoves enemies backwards. I cannot help but wonder what kind of amazing game Flying Wild Hog would create should they be given the Star Wars license. Maybe Disney might want to get in touch with them for the official licensed game of the new movie that will inevitably be released. Flying Wild Hog have more than proved they can turn out a quality title in a short period of time, and if you replace Lo Wang with a Jedi, the Katana with a Light Sabre and his Chi with the Force, then you’ve got yourself one of the most enjoyable FPS Star Wars titles for some time.

The story, whilst not a knee deep four disc Final Fantasy affair, has enough meat to keep players interested. Demons are trying to cause some trouble with an ancient sword so Lo Wang must set out and assemble the sword before they can with the help of a Rabbit masked demon called Hoji. Everyone’s motives are slowly revealed through the use of cut scenes and banter between Wang and Hoji that drives the narrative forward revealing the odd twist along the way. This game is set before the first Shadow Warrior and as such acts as a bit of an ‘origin story.’ A phrase Wang himself would commend as he has a fixation for comic books, and we even get to see his very own super hero man cave in the second level.

Shadowscenery

Lo Wang’s quipping, Demon de-limbing and fast paced explosive action are all firmly entrenched in the 90’s, when Carmageddon was the number one racing game not Forza, and no one had yet cottoned onto the fact that Mortal Kombat’s combat was flawed. A game only had to be violent with lashings of blood and humour in order to be become a cult classic.  However Flying Wild Hog have also managed to make Lo Wang relevant again, avoiding the pitfalls that trapped Duke Nukem Forever, and by making a game that is as humorous, tactical and challenging as it is mindlessly violent. Flying Wild Hog have been so successful in updating Shadow Warrior that it’s almost difficult to call it mindlessly violent now.

Shadow Warrior is an experience more gamers should Wang off too. The perfectly judged learning curve, excellent graphics, constant unveiling of weapons and abilities mean that you won’t get bored during the 16 hours it will take you to finish the game. Here’s hoping Flying Wild Hog get the opportunity to update some more classic franchises such as Redneck Rampage.

Score: 7/10

System: PC (AMD 8320 CPU, AMD ATI 7970 GPU, 8GB RAM)

Bought from: Steam Download

Parasite Eve

Image

Parasite Eve is a very unfair game. Its unfair because it was never released in the UK. Instead we were given Parasite Eve 2 and pretty much told to deal with it. Its also unfair because sometimes you can be stuck in a tunnel with no means to dodge attacks and suddenly a group of bloody bats will spawn right in front of you. Save points can be an issue too, I haven’t called for more save points since Dead Rising.

It’s Parasite Eve’s unfairness that makes it such an intriguing game. Its like the girl that you fancy who is incredibly rude to you. You put up with her and persist because you never know, something amazing might happen.

And with Parasite Eve something amazing does happen. Parasite Eve is almost a combination of Resident Evil, Final Fantasy and the X Files. The story follows a young police detective called Aya Brea. The first level sees her attending the Opera at Carnegie Hall on a date when the majority of the audience spontaneously combusts when a female opera singer by the name of Melissa Pearce starts to perform. We later discover that Melissa Pearce has been overwhelmed by the Mitochondria cells in her body and tries to impregnate herself with ‘super sperm,’ to gestate the ultimate being.

Image

Now the plot on the face of it does seem a little bit wacky, and also completely implausible, especially if you are a geneticist. However, there are enough twists to keep everything interesting and the main characters, whilst complete cliches, are very likeable. There is Daniel Dollis, Aya’s Partner who is a divorcee who’s main motivation is to protect his son. Then there is the geeky scientist Kunihko Maeda who is very shy and completely unable to talk to women but a crucial member in the team to bring a stop to all this genetic mutating nonsense.

Image

The story and the games environments really do help to bring an edge of fear to the game which, at the time that Parasite Eve was released, had been reserved mainly for survival horror games. So it was interesting to see the horror element put into the RPG mould. The lack of save points that I complained about earlier also helped to spread this air of fear. Because if you did die, you would find yourself all the way back at the beginning of the level. You couldn’t just go to the nearest inn and save, or go on the world map and use a tent. This was hard core modern day New York that you were in not Midgar where men looked like women.

Image

With Parasite Eve it was almost like Squaresoft looked at the RPG genre that they were dominating at with their various franchises and completely bent it to fit the new audience that the Playstation was marketing itself towards. The combat system was an RPG affair where enemies would suddenly appear on the screen and you would have to wait for certain bars to fill before you could attack. You didn’t get taken to a new screen though, battles all took place in the normal game world. You could also move your character around to avoid the enemies attacks in real time. The weapons used were also a variety of realistic guns which could be upgraded using tools and add-ons. When playing Parasite Eve I got the feeling that I was playing the game designed to appeal to those who thought they were too cool to play Final Fantasy 7.

I remember when Final Fantasy 7 first came out, I remember trying to talk passionately with my friends at school about it, but more than half of them didn’t like RPG’s as the combat system was boring and unrealistic, and they went on forever, and they were ultimately for geeks. The hype surrounding the re-birth of the survival horror thanks to Resident Evil, Sony’s success in targeting a more mature audience, and the success of science fiction shows of the time like The X-Files meant that Squarsoft were brave enough to concoct Parasite Eve using this formula.

Image

Unfortunately they were not brave enough to give it a european release. Which is frustrating, and I’m not entirely sure as to why they deemed the US audience would be able to appreciate the game but the European audience wouldn’t understand their Japanese concept.

Well, now that time has moved on and eBay has arrived, it’s a fairly cheap game to import, or with the improvement of technology you could also just get a PS1 emulator for your PC and download a ROM (I must add that this is illegal, but I’m not going to stop you from trying to get your hands on this masterpiece, everyone deserves to play it and it’s not like they are making it anymore, oh no wait, square did re-release it on the PSN recently, BUT NOT IN EUROPE!!!).

The third title in the trilogy was released recently on the PSP, and if you are a fan of the series its worth picking up. However, be warned, the game has lost some of the horror factor, the story is no longer as involving and whilst the first Parasite Eve game marked a Maturing of a genre, the third titles marks a degenerative immaturing. Once again players control Aya, who has now been sexualised, and can wear different costumes with different levels of protection. The more damage she receives, the more damage her clothes receive and they become torn and shredded until her jeans and top resemble nothing more than a large denim bikini.

Image

So, Squaresoft (or Square Enix as they are known now) continue to hurl insults at us gamers through Parasite Eve, first they say it’s being re-released on the PSN and then they deny us Europeans it all over again. Then they invalidate the series’ ability to harness mature subjects by turning the main character into a cos play geeks wet dream. But if you are willing to put up with all of this try the original, and you will end up experiencing one of the finest titles that was available on the Playstation 1.

Digestive Gaming News 30th Jan – 2nd Feb 2014

This week Nintendo were reportedly set to announce that they would be releasing titles for tablets and smartphones. Mario on a phone? Prff, yeah right next it will be reported that Mario and Sonic are in the same game. What, oh yes ahem, they already are never mind.

nintendo

Nintendo were very quick to quash this rumour and while I can completely believe that Nintendo may release some sort of app for tablets and smartphones in the future that may expand the Miiverse or just deliver trailers and news, there is no way that Mario et al will officially end up on a mobile device that doesn’t contain Nintendo branding anytime soon. Those of us who are happy to play imperfect ports with terrible touch screen controls should have a google on the internet for this thing called an Emulator and stop bleating in internet forums. Its not Like Satoru Iwata doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Satoru Iwata

In fact, so confident is Iwata in his abilities at the helm of the worlds most beloved gaming company, he also announced this month that in the light of ailing sales he is willing to take a 50% pay cut until he has put Nintendo back on track. If only more CEO’s were as willing as Mr Iwata to take responsibility of their companies performance.

titanfall

Microsoft have had some exciting leaks and announcements of their own. A limited edition Titan Fall Xbox One, White Xbox One with 1tb HDD and a cheaper, optical drive-less Xbox One have all been touted as seeing gamers living rooms by the end of the year. Microsoft really could do with making a cheaper Xbox One, I’m not sure disc-less is the way forward though, but there is definitely room in the market for one without the Kinnect nonsense included.

Microsoft have also managed to acquire the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games and stated that they have already farmed out the series to Black Tusk studio to work on the latest sequel.

319951

The Xbox One definitely needs to get some exciting exclusive content under its belt, out of the current library I count… no titles, absolutely nothing worth forking out over £400. To be fair the PS4 only slightly edges ahead with Killzone bearing the slightest resemblance of anything interesting to me but then I’m a sucker for an average fps with eye smashingly intense visuals.

I’m not sure another Gears of War is required, I can’t help but feel like the prequel was a title too far for the franchise as the trilogy was so perfectly rounded off with GoW3 and the gameplay was already starting to become slightly repetitive. It’s funny how Nintendo are currently receiving a complete kicking from ‘hardcore gamers,’ about the Wii U not having enough original titles and launching without a Mario title, but its perfectly acceptable for Microsoft to launch a console without their spiritual mascot the Masterchief, and a catalogue of titles that has less originality than a TV show pitch from Simon Cowell.

Epic followed up the Gears announcement with a statement of their own as they felt the need to remind us they still make games and not just tech demo’s to sell the latest games consoles, mobile phones or tablets. And whilst they certainly do a better job at shifting the latest tech than Michael Bay, apparently there’s this online shooter called Fortnite that has been in development the last couple of years that Team Fortress fans might want to check out.

fortnite

The forums would also like us to believe that Sony gave Nintendo a good kicking this month by buying the manufacturing plant that makes the DRAM chips found in the Wii U, and it was also announced that the PS4 was the fastest selling console in the UK of 2013. Nintendo is hardly quaking in its boots, the 3DS was the BIGGEST selling console in the UK of 2013 and lets face it, I’m pretty sure Nintendo has enough of a back log of Wii U’s to give them enough time to source a new supplier of DRAM chips.

Vamers-Tomb-Raider-2013-Lara-Croft-Injured

Not content with troubling Nintendo though, the Sony fan boys were crowing over those daft enough to blow over £400 on the latest Xbox one. Because not only is the Xbox one’s pricing strategy under scruple, so is Lara Croft who apparently looks a lot prettier on the PS4 than the Xbox one. Surely anyone who cares has already played Tomb Raider Lara Croft by now due to the extensive amount of times its been on special offer on steam, Live, PSN and even given away as a free title with GPU’s. Also, lets remember graphics don’t make a game, gameplay does. Lara I hope you are reading this, just remember I will always love you no matter what you look like and however many frames per second you run in.

Brand New Blog: Its Not Just Graphics

Hello and welcome to Its Not Just Graphics. This is a blog that is aimed at trying to highlight some of the classic games that have appeared over the years. Video games are a unique art form (yes, they are an art form, but we can have an argument about that later if you don’t believe me) in that they are evolving at a faster rate than any other sector of entertainment due to the technology that drives them.

Since the inception of the videogame new genres have sprung up in the blink of an eye due to new inventions. More powerful systems meant that text based adventure games like Zork could become fully fleshed hollywood hack and slash RPG’s like Skyrim. The arrival of the internet has not only added the Massively Multiplayer Online to the existing RPG where thousands of people can inhabit the same fantasy realm, but it has also brought forward a lot more competitive games. No longer do you have to find a smokey neon nightmare of an arcade to challenge someone, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

We have also seen console manufacturers offering us new ways to play. Instead of the standard keyboard, mouse and joy pad, it is possible to orchestrate your characters movement on screen by flailing your limbs like a drunken Airport Traffic Conductor. These methods of controls have either brought us games that have been more immersing or ones that just simply wouldn’t have been feasible. There has also been unfortunately the vast amount of mini game cash generators which have been created simply as a way of tapping into Nintendo’s discovery of the ‘family market.’ Because apparently before Nintendo came along with the Wii, where you throw plastic at an expensive tv, games were a waste of time played by weirdos. In fact, before the Wii if you played too many video games it was common knowledge you’d either become a murdering psychopath or one of those overweight creatures you see floating down the high street in their mobility scooters.

The problem with the constant progression of technology though is that every new generation of consoles, operating systems and games, makes the previous generation of games obsolete. It was widely accepted that if you got the latest generation of console you wouldn’t be able to play your old games on it. And why would you want to play your old games anyway? They looked practically like a bunch of cave drawings when you placed them next to the brand new launch titles of the next generation which invariably involved more realistic bouncing breasts from beat em ups such as Dead or Alive, even more realistic lens flare and breasts from Ridge Racer’s Reiko Nagase, and even more realistic bouncing flesh from the latest EA (insert sport here,) titles.

It wasn’t until Sony came up with the idea of backwards compatibility with the Playstation 2 that people started to realise it might be quite nice to keep some of their older games out of the loft and charity shop. The PS3 was branded an ‘epic fail,’ by the virgin keyboard warriors of the geekdom as they vented their fury at Sony’s decision to remove backwards compatibility. Although I now understand Sony’s rather shrewd fiscally driven move, what with their classics ranges of old games given a quick HD makeover before being re-sold to gamers at a premium price. Although who can really blame Sony who are just desperately trying to claw back some of the cash lost to the second hand market. The second hand gaming market may very well be the death of games sold on physical formats. It doesn’t make any sense for developers to splurge millions of pounds on developing something when they are only going to receive payment for it from one of the five people who are going to play it. By forcing us to purchase digital downloads we only own the right to play some code, and don’t have anything tangible that we can trade on. We are being sold the idea, and not the book.

Would I be upset if the entire games industry switched to a download only model? Probably. But I like nice boxes that I can show off to people when they come to visit me because I’m a materialistic arsehole. What might be quite nice about this possible future is that we may see a universal platform, where it doesn’t matter what system you’ve got, you can play any of the games available. Cloud computing is already kickstarting this ideal off. People can buy cheap set top boxes and then pay a cheap monthly subscription to play the latest games in high definition. It doesn’t matter that the box isn’t really very powerful at all, because all of the processing is being done hundreds of miles away in a server room on a super computer. This model of gaming is a lot more inclusive and very interesting, its almost like the HBO of gaming. Video games are by their very nature quite episodic, Alan Wake excelled at mimicking the style of a stylised horror tv show where each level was a new episode. Its not even uncommon for games to be sold in episode form now, whilst the next one is being developed.

But anyway, I digress the whole reason of setting this blog up is to hopefully showcase some of my favourite classics from past and present.