Tuesday 9 December 2008

Fallout 3

(Brace yourselves, I've been playing a Bethesda game).

As of late, a lot of my entries have opened by immediately picking on a developer or publisher in order to adequately pad out my reviews and look slightly more intelligent and professional – or at the best get a cheap laugh or two. Whether it’s been working or not is entirely up to you, but nethertheless; puppies. Puppies are a perfect way to decide how much of a miserable bastard someone is by asking them if puppies are cute, adorable and generally some of the nicest things in the known universe (considering for a moment that caramel doesn’t exist), or if they realise that as cute as they may be, they’ll still piss and shit all over your favourite material possessions and inevitably grow up to be vicious figures of teeth and muscle.


Should you have read any of my previous work ever, you’ll know I’m the latter, which is why I know what Bethesda Games Studios is, and that getting my hopes up for anything they’ve ever played part in is about as wise as calling a grizzly bear a great big, lazy, two-bit puff. Take Star Trek Legacy; then place it carefully in the middle of a busy road and wait until someone eventually runs it over, because as pretty as everything looks, that’s all it’s really good for. Then there’s Oblivion, which you can use to test belt-sanders with in order to indulge in the delicious irony of teaching it how things really get damaged when you rub them together.

I’ll admit, I nearly did call a big furry killing machine gay in a manner of speaking by initially thinking that Fallout 3 could be one of the best games of the year, overlooking the fact that it was being made by people who don’t know what “fun” means. Eventually I saw the light before launch, spotting the Oblivion engine a mile off and decided Fallout 3 could disappear down a toilet somewhere along with Bethesda and go fuck itself. After a lot of badgering I decided the best thing I could do was play some games I was still actually looking forward to and then burn some money on an almost completely unnecessary RAM upgrade.

My world didn’t get turned completely on its head until I watched the Fallout 3 Zero Punctuation video. Surely Fallout 3 must be worth my attention if the only other person on Earth who knows what’s wrong with Oblivion likes it? I swallowed my pride, did a wee bit of research and decided to try justifying my shiny new computer.

Something I should say about the original Fallout is that it’s an idea that interests me immensely for some reason and also that anyone who complained about the difficulty curve of Dead Rising is a great big sissy and would literally die if they ever came into contact with a copy of Fallout 1. Sure, I was murdered time and time again and never actually got anywhere because I was continually stalked by giant scorpions and Lady Luck, but that’s ok because I fear I wouldn’t survive longer than 3 breaths in a post-nuclear apocalyptic wasteland before splitting into two separate and very physical personalities and redefining the words “killing oneself”.

From my understanding, Fallout 3 shouldn’t really have the “3” at all, considering I’m pretty certain it’s basically a remake of the original but apparently no one else gives a shit.

Research ends, review begins; God help me.

I give immediate credit to Fallout 3 for having probably one of the weirdest openings to a game ever (and I’ve played Rez) in which you start the game literally straight after you’ve been born. So instantaneously in fact, that no one’s actually managed to clean the afterbirth off you yet. And I must also say that for once I believe the NPCs who say I’m destined for great things on the basis that my character seems to have been born with a higher IQ then his father resulting in him picking his own gender, name and future physical appearance. Well, after dicking around with the appearance options for a while, I realised I was pretty limited to more or less the same very tired looking drifter with different styles of hair. And that’s about it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering I’m sick of having to build my own character from scratch in every motherfucking game I’ve played for the last 2 years. You see, this is why I like Fable 2 so much: you can pick your wife and your clothes but you can’t pick your nose. Some divine force picks your nose for you depending on how much you eat, who you rob and who you kill, leaving you with just your hair and hair colour at your disposal.

Having decided that Oblivion was the most unforgiving, stuck up pile of wank I’ve ever wasted time on, I decided that with Fallout I was going to turn my back on the gallant hero for once and play my first playthrough of a game as the coldest and most badass bastard a possible. I was impressed at how often Fallout presented me with the opportunity to insult, threaten and swear at NPCs, then allow me to rip their faces off with a plank of wood full of rusty, irradiated nails. As such, I decided to do all of the aforementioned to anyone who met the following criteria:

- they weren’t going to fuck up the story if they died
- they didn’t have bigger weapons than me

Having run my character’s evil arse down to the point of exhaustion from all the murdering and bullying, I decided it was time to grow up and play the game properly. Or at least commit genocide properly. After wandering into the town of Megaton, I cocked an eyebrow to the thought that this being a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland, there was surely an obvious reason for it. Of course, I was right and did everything I could to rig the big bastard nuclear bomb to explode – completely ignoring the reasoning of the guy who gave me the tools to do it, instead following my own reason: I wanted to blow shit up. After much hard work and procrastination, I found my way to a safe distance, detonated the bomb and watched the most awesome explosion I’ve ever seen.

It was probably because I’d just annihilated one of the larger cities in Fallout that resulted in me spending the rest of my time with the game scrounging around for ammo and having my pure evil arse used as a gun rack for super mutants. Whatever the reason, I struggled to survive in the Fallout world yet again, but at least it was for a reason that allowed me to forget Bethesda had anything to do with it and it left me getting sucked in and appropriately neglect my friends who wanted me to join them in Team Fortress 2.

I guess what I’m trying to do is cause a quantum singularity that will destroy the universe by saying Fallout 3 is a good game and each line of the conversations was recorded in the same day, as opposed to in Oblivion, in which I’m pretty certain the voice actors had a habit of dying after each line. Laser guns are fun, and any game that allows me to fire a mini nuke deserves merit. Then there’s the fact that when you’re getting your arse handed to you, you can usually use the VATS system to pause time and drop a grenade directly under your aggressor’s testicles bouncing-betty style.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Left 4 Dead

Yes Valve, we see what you did with the name, very clever. Should you muster up the strength to see past lethal pun / text-speak jammed in the middle of the title, you’ll find that this is Valve’s latest game and pretty much designed to be played with four people so you can all gang up on helpless zombies and reduce waves of the flesh eating bastards to a cloud of blood and a splattered mass of rotting meat. Unless you ditch your friends, in which case you’ll get eaten.

Left 4 Dead has one massive hurdle to overcome before any zombies can be murdered and that is that gamers are amongst the most antisocial beings on the planet, second only to that particular branch of gamers that play first person shooters to an obsessive degree. Actually, that’s a blatant lie; the most antisocial beings on the planet are people who write about games. Anyway, as such, an FPS that forces players to stay together and co-operate is either so over-ambitious that it causes Peter Molyneux to go “pfft”, or completely fucked.

I decided to grit my teeth, shovel dangerous levels of Paracetamol down my throat and bare socialising with something other than a series of webcomics and bring you the review that no-one will ever actually read. It is possible to play Left 4 Dead on your own, leaving you with 3 bots to save your dopey arse and if the original Halo was anything to go by, it probably wouldn’t be long until one of those bastards decided that the best place to store their Molotov cocktails was up said dopey arse. Also, in the interests of science, I had to discover if Left 4 Dead could change real people, or just have them act uncomfortably similar to every other bot I’ve ever encountered.

I can report that while the majority of the time I wasn’t on fire, there are still a lot of people who can’t be arsed talking online anymore and there are also quite a lot of people who don’t quite understand that a long narrow corridor is probably the worst thing to ignite when you’re supposed to be co-operating. I may be one of these people, I’ll have you know.

After being burnt, shot and pillaged by my dear team-mates several million times, I eventually got matched in a party in which I was consistently the worst offender for friendly fire (a feat, by the way, I am equally proud and ashamed of) and things started to get awesome. I honestly can’t think of anything more awesome than standing in a corner, laughing with a team-mate while firing into a vast blinding blaze, full in the knowledge that lots of zombies are dying (again).

Having decided to take advantage of the “versus” option, I decided to see exactly how much fun the zombies were having. The answer is “not much”. It was an interesting idea, the likes of which I haven’t really seen since Turok 2 let you munch on your friends as a Raptor… or when they took the piss out of it on Conker’s Bad Fur Day, but shut up. Anyway, as a Zombie, you get to die a lot but that’s ok because you respawn every 20 seconds, but I can assure you that catching the bullet express to spectatorship gets very old after it happens a few hundred times in one game.

Screw it though, the main idea of you plus 3 people against a horde of easily killed zombies is so much fun you can easily gloss over the option to play as one of the unfortunate walking targets. The more nerdy of you will be dying to wondering how well “The Director” works. I honestly don’t know, all I can guess is that’s the reason why I could never find ammo when I went out looking for it while my team-mates were usually tripping over the stuff. What I can say is that the scripted dialogue is pretty good, should it not get completely and utterly on your tits after the unavoidable repetition and at least if you’re playing with more sociable people, you can have a laugh at it – a key example being the “Left 4 Bed” video.

There’s not really much else to be said; Left 4 Dead uses the Source engine which is both pretty and silky smooth, killing zombies is always fun and the story has been pretty much fired out of a canon into the centre of a very bright star with the only remnants are “get from A to B, kill everything in the way”. If you’ve played Portal, you’ll also be expecting some very clever hidden jokes and you wont be disappointed so long as you look hard enough, and if you haven’t played Portal then what the fuck do you think you’re doing reading my blog?

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Call of Duty: World at War

All I've to go say is that I thought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was really really good, even if every dickhead from here to the fucking moon with a current generation console has been mercilessly bumming it's online capabilities for a year straight. It was up to date, original and brilliantly executed. Then all those dickheads condemned World at War before it was even close to launch just because it was being developed by people who cocked up Call of Duty 3 by trying to make about 4 different games in a very limited time frame.

Personally, I think it was a stupid idea but I respect the fact that they still managed to finish those games even if they were shit, and I've been saying that World at War may very well live up to Modern Warfare because the developers were actually concentrating this time. I got shouted at and then these dickheads cheered and heckled me when World at War was actually launched. I don't understand either, but after all, these are dickheads, we're not supposed to pay any attention to them. Anyway, in order to convince my manager to buy a 360 after he'd agreed to sell his as a Christmas present, I had to buy myself a copy of World at War and all I've got to say is this:

FUCK OFF. I'm so sick and bored of playing WWII games that I could only just manage finishing the first level. Yes, I know. Bouncing Betties, flame-throwers, napalm etc etc, hernia. I've had enough. You can praise the bollocks off it all you want if your a fanboy or if you're being paid to review it; right now I'm neither so it can go fuck itself.

If I have to play a war game, it has to have guns that are modern. AT LEAST. War, like most things, is more interesting with lasers. Do you live with a black and white TV until you're bored of it, then upgrade to a modern TV that has a serial number for a name to watch Star Wars on it, praise it's bollocks off then screw with the settings to make it look really old?

NO YOU FUCKING DON'T. So don't make an awesome modern game, then follow your success by doing exactly what everyone else has been doing for the last 15 years. I've played, I've judged, I'm not going back to the 1940's.

Dead Space

I think EA hate me. Well maybe be not considering there doesn’t seem to be a death count on Dead Space which will make the biggest embarrassment to my friends and frankly the whole games industry. They may have killed me a lot, but at least they had the good grace to not keep count. I’ll admit that I’ve been looking forward to Dead Space because it’s a game by EA that isn’t a sports game nor does it have “Need For Speed” in the title, so that’s enough to forgive it for blatantly ripping off Event Horizon so much that I even recognised some rooms from it; and that’s impressive considering that I haven’t seen Event Horizon since it was new.

Due to a number of factors, I decided to play through Dead Space using only the Plasma Cutter – primarily because that sounds like the best item ever in a game that is dangerously obsessed with removing limbs, but also because one of my friends managed it and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be outdone (I mean on Saint’s Row 2 I launched my character through a plastic surgeon’s window on fire while my car exploded for fuck’s sake). I managed to get surprisingly far during my trial of Dead Space but I did discover more than enough to make a fair judgement; one of these judgements being that there really are a lot of severed limbs. I know I mentioned that already but fuck me, it’s like someone decided to cross-breed Goro with a millipede, make an army, then shove them through a woodchipper.

Something I can’t forgive Dead Space for is patronising me with a button that paints a big blue line to where it wants me to go and then telling me how to beat 90% of the puzzles. Not only did it patronise me to the point where my IQ dropped about 20 points, but it also decided to randomise all the items I came across which genuinely left me in a room with the biggest monster in the game and barely enough ammo to neuter a housecat. So I died. I took this onboard and spent all my money on an obscene amount of ammo, shot the bollocks off this thing and died again. And again, and again, and again. After I’d almost had my share of running out of ammo and seeing Isaac being torn into exactly the same few pieces over and over, I eventually decided to abandon traditional logic in favour of “fuck it, it still has limbs”, as this seems to work with everything else, and that big bastard was dead before you could make some toast.

Considering that particular battle was in zero gravity, I’ll give Dead Space a nice thumbs up and big cheesy grin in praise of the zero gravity moments because they are very cool, pretty original and brilliantly executed. If that statement could be applied to anything else then it’d be safe to assume that Dead Space is one of the all-time greatest games. Event Horizon did everything else a long time ago and it did it better and even I, who only played Resident Evil 4 for about 5 minutes, can say that it beat Dead Space to everything else a few years ago. And also, IT’S NOT FUCKING SCARY. Even if in I lived in an alternate reality where everyone who ever heard of Dead Space didn’t ask me about the dead bodies coming back to life, I would have picked it up damn quick from the name “NECROmorphs” – i.e., death, morphing? Seriously? Even if I was so brain-rattlingly stupid that I still hadn’t figured it out, I’ve played enough games in general to kill anything that moves immediately even if it’s supposed to be dead already.

There are some more pretty cool bit in Dead Space, like when occasionally a big tentacle will thrust out of the wall and drag you to your death leaving you with a few seconds to panic while you try shooting it in half from an awkward camera angle. Ok, that’s a lie, the camera angle does what it’s supposed to do but some arsehole decided to make my life even harder by having bits of the environment getting in the way of the only part of the tentacle you can hurt. The lie I was referring to was that the being dragged to your death while genuinely panicking is the only other cool bit, everything else is either clich├ęd of just outright shit. Like gravity gun puzzles. That’s Half-Life territory and besides, no one fucking told me I could fire items I was holding until about 2 hours after it would have been useful.

It’s not scary, but it is ridiculously gory.

And while I’m giving it a kicking, why did anyone think it was a good idea to have Isaac look and move like a robot and repeatedly try stapling messages from his wife to him? I don’t give a shit about him or his family – he’s my remote controlled one-man army and that’s the end of it. Although, the brilliance of the zero gravity environments comes back into play whenever I make Isaac run in it; while it should just irritate me, it strangely warms my heart to see him uncharacteristically jog like some form or retarded streaker when no-one’s watching.

I did however abandon Dead Space around the point where it gave shoved a deadly loop up my arse which caused me to keep respawning on the pointy end of a psychopathic alien’s, well, body. I suspect that after 20 minutes of me dying immediately that he was as bored as I was, so I gave up and here I am. After thinking about it for a while, most of Dead Space is incredibly repetitive and leaves you going to and from the same places a few times or sends you to different places that look exactly the same to do the same thing a few hundred times. Why the hell would you put grinding into a game that is undoubtedly action and marketed as horror? Maybe it’s to hide the fact that it’s like Resident Evil 4 but really predictable. Example: A big room has the only oxygen refill station on the ship, which immediately plants the idea that there’s going to be a hull breach there eventually and you’ll need it. Sweet Jesus, I couldn’t have been more accurate if I actually read the script beforehand.

What else can I say about Dead Space? If you haven’t already, watch Event Horizon, it’s pretty much the same but unlike Dead Space, it’s actually scary, even if it doesn’t have the same really cool zero gravity environments. Maybe EA were saving the really good stuff for Mirror’s Edge. I may as well safe you a few hours; it’s all because of a religious artefact in the cargo hold. It made people go mental, then they turned into the monsters on the ship and religion’s all to blame. I’m also willing to bet a substantial amount that the doctor you run into right in the middle of the game royally fucks you over in the last chapter.

It’s times like this that I really miss Star Trek; and don’t get me started on that think J.J. Abrams is working on because it isn’t Star Trek, it just uses the same names.

Thursday 20 November 2008

EDIT - 360 Dashboard

You'd think with the length of time they've been working on this bloody thing that they'd have ironed out all the bugs, and failing that at least have squished the big bastards. Mine keeps crashing when I try getting out of my friends list!

Although it's probably just my 360 slowly dying of asthma again.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

The New Xbox Experience

Fuck off, it's a new dashboard, not something I'd call an "experience". If you have any idea what I'm talking about then you already know that Microsoft has stolen Nintendo's Mii avatar things, even though I'm not entirely sure why.

That's the most obvious change, along with completely changing the menu again which personally confused the shit out of me and it took me about 10 sodding minutes to figure out how to start the game already in my 360. Shut up, all the boxes look the same. While I'm talking about the games/box, I'd like to point out that Microsoft have set themselves up to be royally screwed up the arse by any half-decent hacker with a Blockbuster membership. If you fancy using up some more time and HDD space, you can now choose to install your games onto your 360.

As anyone who owns a PS3 will know, installing games is exactly what we all want because of the noticeably quicker loading times. Ow, it hurt so much to write that blatant lie.

Yes, it's nice and colourful now but the new avatars seem completely pointless - just like real Mii's. If you could take control of your virtual you and go fuck around in the deepest recesses of your 360, or even just mercilessly beat the shit out of your friends' avatars, I'd be much happier to have them but at the minute they're just animated gamer pictures. I also have an issue with the customisation: I made my virtual me without seeing any of my friends' and by taking quite a bit of care to make him actually look like me. Within two hours we all had pretty much the same avatar with slightly different hair colour.

Who knows, it could be interesting in the future (most likely when someone exploits it, see "Rules of the Internet" number 15), but at the minute it's just more colourful and otherwise point.


Wednesday 12 November 2008

Fable 2

I very nearly posted this review as nothing short of what I suspect is the longest letter ever to finish off kissing Peter Molyneux’s arse, then I spent a while longer playing Fable 2 some more, and also cover the good and evil bases. And so, having spent another week or so going through the ins and outs of it, I’ve decided that the bit I can salvage from my original draft is the bit where I said,

“As I’ve said a number of times already, I’ve recently started a group on Facebook threatening Peter Molyneux’s dog should that great jabbering bastard make a hash of the sequel to my overall favourite Xbox game.”

That, and the fact the dog lives. BUT.

While I find something intoxicating about Fable and Fable 2, there are a number of issues, starting with the worrying fact of how similar – sorry, exactly the same – Fable 2 as the original in some areas. As is to be expected with sequels, the set pieces are becoming apparent, but the problem is that no one should be able to click onto this until the third or four iteration of a game, certainly not the fucking second.

Childhood – tragedy – Heroes’ Guild – arena – prison – antagonist dies.

That isn’t the entire quest, but worryingly, there isn’t actually that much more to it. Yeah, there are side quests and such, but for some reason there aren’t as many as in the Lost Chapters re-release. Fair enough, they’re probably going to release more quests as downloadable content (unless Peter Molyneux isn’t the genius I thought he was, and is in fact a blithering idiot), but someone decided that what we really wanted instead of side quests was a bunch of collectables. I’ll admit I liked the gargoyles, but FUCK ME; even if you buy the fact that the Heroes of old turned into a bunch of mercenaries that everyone happily ridded themselves of in favour of guns, you’d assume that there’d be more people looking for help off someone brandishing superpowers. Instead, the best anyone can offer is a job in pest control, bartending, blacksmithing, kidnapping or murdering. Considering you’re allowed to kill whoever or whatever you want, then if you have any brains you’ll either kill the guards too or agree to do the community service, then go shag some hookers instead, half of those jobs go out the window straight away.

There is a lot that is fun about Fable 2 – anyone who spotted the achievement “The Menace to Society” and didn’t immediately pursue it has no soul – and if you can be bothered to look, you can find some interesting Easter Eggs (ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Anchorman). Need an example of something fun? How about fucking with your family by doing everything you can to be good, then renting out the house across the road and shagging 8 hookers in someone else’s bed while they’re threatening you to leave. Or going on a killing spree dressed as an 80’s action hero.

To its credit, Fable 2 is impressive. There’s a massive sense of freedom in the fact that even after a few weeks of playing, I can still get lost sometimes, and believe it or not, the world does actually grow, change and expand while you play. If you want to complain about the customisation in Fable 2, can I advise that you kindly go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself. Oh, heaven forbid, an RPG game in which you don’t have 7 sliders for customising your character’s nose. FUCK OFF. No human being can play with those sliders and come out with what they actually wanted. “Bridge Depth”? WHAT THE FUCK? What I love about the Fable games is the fact that your character’s looks take care of themselves depending on what you do. My good hero looks like he – sorry, she, you’ll understand if you buy Castle Fairfax – ascended down from heaven then crushed a few rugby players into meat-scented cubes while occasionally stopping in order to tear a couple of phonebooks in half. My evil hero looks like Davey Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean with a normal beard instead of tentacles, and then someone ran him through a cheese grater face first.

The death system sucks something rotten, and I’ll never understand the new fad in the gaming world of having no noticeable consequence for being shit. The original idea of “having people surround your broken body, beat seven shades out of what was left while you get up while scarring the shit out you” to me personally was a good idea. It sounded like it had a good balance of “be shit, get punished”, but no, it seems some fuckwit found his way into the test groups and whinged someone to death. I suspect this was someone close to Peter Molyneux because this idea was immediately pulled as a mark of respect for the souls lost during the development of Fable 2.

The combat is piss-easy, but that’s ok because it a) works and b) flows brilliantly once you start thinking “timing”; but because the HUD has been raped almost completely out of existence you can’t make the amusing mistake of running out of manna after you use a slow time spell while staring an angry troll’s boulder hurtling to your face and instead of pressing the button to replenish you manna bar, pressing the button that makes your character say “shhhhhiiiit”. Instead you have to play around with a bunch of macros in order to stick up your middle finger. Foolproof, but not funny anymore. Speaking of which, some of the menus may be better organised, but are frankly a monumental pain in the arse – the kind best compared to being violated by a freight train.

Whatever, considering everything else coming out in the near future is some form of first person shooter, I’m inclined to enjoy Fable 2 and imagine fantastic things available for download in the future and as such Peter Molyneux’s dog may live.

If any of you even dare try telling me that Fallout 3 is out, then kindly meet up in a room then send me the address so I can destroy you all using explosives, because clearly you’re too immune to your dangerous levels of stupidity to be harmed by anything short of rapid expansion and fire. It’s made by Bethesda. It’s blatantly obvious that it’s made by Bethesda because it looks pretty, but like everything else they’ve ever made, I can guarantee that it’ll be too open for its own good and everything will move like it’s in Robot Wars. Yes, I’m still sore from the abomination that was Star Trek Legacy and Oblivion can simply fuck off.

Monday 20 October 2008

Little Big Planet

Yes! I have news!

...

No, I haven't managed to secure myself a copy before the worldwide release, I'm not nearly important enough yet. Anyway, read on.

We've all been waiting for Little Big Planet for quite a fucking ridiculous time now, and now that the wait is almost over Sony realises that it might offend Muslims because they chose some music that takes some of its lyrics from the Qur'an. Just sit back and think about how stupid that is. I mean, fair enough, Muslim extremists are renowned for riots and call for blood when someone calls a teddy bear Mohammed (even though you probably know at least one Mohammed whose blood isn't being ordered for lunch).

Don't call me racist for even one second. I may not understand why they get so pissy about anything remotely to do with their religion but I do know that people get paid to choose the music for games and they also get paid to check it BEFORE IT GOES INTO PRODUCTION.

Oh yeah, the article is here; go read and spread ignorance and racism in the name of Sackboy.

Friday 17 October 2008

Fracture

Just no. No. I'm not fucking playing it until someone starts paying me to do these.

It's a shooting game were you fuck around with the floor. Sorry, but that's not a USP, that's just lazy level design. If you ever want me to review Fracture, you better be brandishing a big juicy contract.

Friday 10 October 2008

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Just to be clear before I start, I was intelligent enough to play the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Star Wars, full in the knowledge that the Wii version would at best be nothing short of gimmicky. And shit.

With that in mind, I got to play the game in all its Euphoria and DMM enhanced glory; I’m also now cynical enough about Star Wars that playing with the new physics was my main reason behind playing The Force Unleashed. So, as literally everyone now knows, you play as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice during the exact time that no one really cares about.

That’s a little too much story than is really necessary when you make a game that lets people fling storm troopers around “because they feel like it”. But it’s not just about flinging storm troopers around; you can also throw heavy things at storm troopers. Or launch storm troopers into orbit. Or smash them into the floor at astonishingly comical speeds. It’s so much fun that I decided to ignore the fact that all lightsabers act like little more than great big glowing bats (apart from when I cam across a purge trooper, in which case I began cursing this oversight with the intensity of a thousands women in labour).

I can’t think of much to say about The Force Unleashed, other than it’s generally very good for what it is. It’s a very linear action game with some basic RPG elements; cool physics and Jedi. I wouldn’t call it perfect, but it was good enough make me actually want to play through it rather than just try reaching the credits to write one of these in the hope that someone with a little too much money will read it and give me some of it.

That said, the auto-targeting system is just plain awful even by my low standards (considering I was frankly amazed by the auto-targeting in GTA IV and Crackdown). And when I mean it’s bad, I mean I think I may have seriously upset the person responsible for it, because in one particular part of level involving big explosive pieces of scrap and hostile tie-fighters, the obvious course of action was damn near impossible. While I could occasionally grab hold of one tie fighter and slam it into another, all my other attempts resulted in whatever I eventually manager to grab with the force either exploding instantly, or getting launched into the nearest wall no matter which direction I pointed. The only feeling this managed to provoke was that same feeling you get when grocery shopping; you know when you’re getting something out of a fridge that has mirrors and you don’t realise that they are in fact mirrors? Yeah, that same sense of eventually embarrassing futility.

Now that I’ve come to write about it, it has suddenly become painfully obvious exactly how simple the formula for The Force Unleashed really is: star level, have a fight, head somewhere else, occasionally pick up a couple of holocrons, have a bigger fight while you’re trying to do something else; then finish with a boss fight and do the whole thing again. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain something that means it never actually boring. Sometimes disheartening, like when you’ve had to repeat the same fight about 7 times because every time you clear some rooms, some bright spark decided it’d the game could be significantly improved by introducing more heavily armoured imperial forces while you’d rather be looking for mountainous piles of bandages and cotton wool.

So, ok, it drops the ball a couple of times and yeah, it does concentrate on all the action intensive crap from the prequels, but I’d still hold it as one of the best Star Wars ever games made. Although that may be because it takes turn-based combat and exiles it to the deepest, darkest depths of some long forgotten ditch on some moon somewhere. Hell, if they actually finished Knights of the Old Republic 2 and used some real combat without using any frankly bewildering babble about how the roll of a virtual dice you can’t see decides whether you die or do a little bit of damage, then I’d happily dub it my favourite game of all time. Holy crap, that really hurt my brain.

But someone at LucasArts decided that they really don’t like me, so it was never to be.

No!

This isn’t about the back catalogue of LucasArts and how they’ve made some brilliant games, some shit games and just occasionally missed the mark of perfection by a margin so slim it’s only worth mentioning to stop more intelligent people taking the piss out of you. This is supposed to be about one particular game, The Force Unleashed and so help me, the only tangents I’m willing to go off on are ones that are funny.

What we also have in The Force Unleashed is another problem with modern games that’s really starting to annoy me, and I’m certain I brought it up in Haze. You start the game as the evil Sith Lord’s equally evil S&M bitch who will quite happily maul legions of storm troopers if it involves tracking down and royally violating Jedi with your lightsaber and fists of force-imbued fury. Despite the number of times Darth Vader betrays your character, he remains oblivious that Vader is in fact the emperor’s S&M bitch and that’ll never change. The main problem I have with the story in The Force Unleashed is that it takes a perfectly evil Sith apprentice, and gradually turns him into another angsty Jedi teenager who decided to genuinely try overthrowing the empire. And yes, I do know that you can get an evil ending (heaven forbid someone makes a game with just one ending these days), but the whole story arc begs for a hero who’d rather shove his lightsaber up the emperor’s arse rather than taking Vader’s place as the biggest and baddest asthmatic S&M bitch.

If you can forgive the completely random auto-targeting, there’s a lot to like about The Force Unleashed and it really is worth getting; but I’m personally waiting for Fable 2 for some good old wholesome evil and corrupt gaming while I’m not too busy playing with my dog. If not, you’re an idiot.

Incidentally, if you’re on facebook, you could do worse than joining my group “Fable 2 will be good or Peter Molyneux’s dog will die”.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Too Human

After playing games for so many years, you’d think I’d have learned by now that it’s not actually worth looking forward to a game, especially one that’s been delayed for significantly longer than the train you were actually on time for. But, lo and behold, I made the newbie error of thinking that that Too Human looked totally awesome and that it could possibly be the most interesting and unique games I’ve played this year. And considering that the only significant interruption to the flow of almost dangerous level of mediocrity was Grand Theft Auto 4 (and everyone who disagrees can all go tape themselves to a Scud missile and learn what’s really “too serious”), it couldn’t be too hard for a game to grab that title.

Things started falling apart during the first cutscene, when I became quite aware as to why there had been such a public cat fight between Silicone Knights and Epic over the game engine. I seriously haven’t seen anything as inconsistent as the frame rate in Too Human since the first time I tried making ReadyBrek. Seeing as Too Human had been branded an action RPG, I forked over my hard-earned monies and gave it a wide birth on the understanding that everything would pick up later and I’d have weeks of fun while deciding to be a gallant and pure human knight, or load myself up on enough cybernetics to make the Borg queen say “Jesus Christ, mate, don’t you think that that’s a bit much?”.

But no.

Instead I got a sluggish, tiresome and repetitive Devil May Cry rip off that didn’t even have the healthy supply of hard rocking metal music thrashing away, accompanying images of a goliath, glowing hammer obliterating legions of evil robots. Somewhere towards the end a rather pitiful guitar solo showed up, but like I said in my Bully review, it’s like seeing a whale with a golfer’s glove glued to it. It doesn’t fit and all it does is make you wonder why anyone decided to put it there.

A big problem with Too Human is it makes my favourite genre sound like an excuse for schizophrenia and blatant laziness. You just know that someone tried justifying the slow pace of this “action RPG” by saying it’s an RPG and you have to sit back and take it in, but when asked about the lack of any kind of choice or penalty (for anything at all), someone very similar (but with a suspicious looking moustache and sweater) says that it’s an action game and no one who plays action games has the patience for that sort of malarkey.

So, with that in mind, Too Human managed to almost instantaneously label itself as completely fucking useless. Surely, such a long and complicated birth can have some kind of pay off; some kind of amazing physics engine that makes candyfloss melt realistically? Well maybe, but they made the massive mistake of making a game with absolutely no candyfloss, nor any opportunity to do so despite Norse Gods being renowned for their love of such a fabulously charming way of eating sugar. It’s the only explanation I can think of as to why it took so long to release the damn game, because even the combat (and it’s between 70% and 95% combat, depending on how much fannying around you do with different coloured armour and weapons) is nothing shy of painful; slow, sticky and with such a feeling of futility that makes you wonder if you’re actually in the middle of an MMO, furiously grinding away while your friends are all out kissing girls.

Call me a sucker for flashing colourful lights and other general shininess of sci-fi, because I was determined to see it through to the end; although it was also partly down to an overwhelming desire to not get beaten by such a shit game. Again.

Anyway, my advice is this: don’t bother. Yeah, it’s being marketed as the first in a planned trilogy, but on no circumstances does that give anyone the right to make a game with such a poor ending. Baldur sticks his sword through a table and goes off on a huff. There, that’s it, I’ve just saved you about 10 hours of your life. The whole idea seems drastically flawed… Norse Gods in shiny armour shooting and crushing robots is very cool; but how the bejesus do you classify someone as a Norse God? No one has any super powers, everyone can (and quite a lot do) die and in fact, one of them is blind. BLIND FOR GOD’S SAKE. Towards the end you get sent on a mission to assault hell. In theory, this should redefine “badass” but instead it’s just bland and dry, with the itching feeling that you’ve just figured out where all of Earth’s metal actually comes from.

I don’t profess to know much about Norse Gods or the logistics involved in fighting legions of robots, but I can guarantee you that when mixed with sci-fi and made into a game, the word “boring” should be lost in the deepest depths of the minds of anyone involved. Even if you can’t nail the action, The Lost Vikings proved years ago that you can make a brilliant game if you combine Viking mythology with sci-fi. Again, if you disagree, scud missile.

Whatever, it’s lame and takes a brilliant idea for a story, then gives it a vasectomy. Personally, I think they could have made a massive improvement if they had you play the game as Lt. Commander Worf and then threw in a bunch of driving sections from Burnout. Then bundle the game with a lighter and some sherbet.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Spore

By this point, both of my regular readers will be aware of how I feel about PC gaming, and that as far as I’m concerned all you PC gamers need to be sent somewhere labelled as “E3”, but instead replace all the shininess and half naked women (who must surely be upsetting their parents) is replaced by someone better than Paul McKenna, who can then hypnotise you into the normal way of thinking that is “coding does not equal fun; thus patches, installation keys, reboots and constant upgrading and anything else that requires that much work just to play the fucking thing is not fun”. A key example of this is when I recently installed the complete original Sims game, which took me literally an hour and 18 motherfucking disc swaps. Seriously, I changed the discs 18 times, and this was without any hiccups.

One of you two will be thinking it serves me right for wanting to play the Sims, but shut up, it proves my point exactly. In general, PC gaming is about as much fun as PC work, and usually there’s just a spreadsheet splitting the two. Anyway, some time ago, I was told about Spore and promised that one of the selling points of it was it was being designed to run on pretty much any PC. After I spoke to someone more interesting, I was told the really interesting thing about Spore was that it lets you make an alien race, starting from the very beginning as a microbe, then working your way up the evolutionary chain, then the food chain until eventually your alien race ends up with a galactic empire.

Now that I’ve written that down, it’s basically an extended version of the Sims & SimCity; but fuck it, it’s all customisable and shit. Having decided that I’d be more mature and make a race of interesting aliens that don’t look like they’re from Star Trek (or just a race of giant penises), I decided to fuck around with the creature creation tools as much as possible, I wound up with something resembling an understandably pissed off, fat platypus gorilla; then accidentally ended the species’ evolution with something that wouldn’t look out of place in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

At first this filled me with woe for making a creature whose head actually touched its arse if it tried looking up, then I decided to be proud of this monstrosity, partially because I was stuck with it, but mostly because this six-limbed, ugly bastard was pretty much the point of Spore. However, it was at this point I nearly died. I realised that my microscopic, style-over-function, energy saving midget of a PC was running Spore very smoothly, albeit with the settings on low, but frankly, it’s a hell of an achievement for something bought as a complete package with an on-board graphics card. I was seriously expecting it to install, then get a message off EA saying they’d successfully stolen £25 of my money and there was no way for me to enjoy it or get it back.

But never mind my hideous monster, or his space ship which resembles a green USS Stargazer (because it wouldn’t let me make an Enterprise). I’m here to tell you what I thought of Spore before I get far too curious and read up what everyone else thinks about it. I was initially sceptical about Spore, partly because it’s been delayed at least two years, but mostly because it was originally SimEverything; which to me said it was going to be the Sims, but with weird monstrosities.

Luckily I was treated to something a lot more interactive, and a pair of stages that had me rediscovering the word “nomnomnom”. The thing I like about Spore overall, is its simplicity. Even though it was on easy mode (fuck you, I’m getting to grips with something different than I’ve ever played), the controls were kept simple, as was, well, everything else. Click on something to eat it/use it/fuck it, depending on if you’re set to nice or dickhead mode. And that’s pretty much how the whole game plays out, even when you evolve to the tribal, civilisation and space stages.

Having said all that, and the admiration of the simplicity of Spore, I do think that called Spore very flat is perfectly reasonable. While I personally believe that all the needs and desires of Sims is a perfect way to introduce OCD to any given nation; the lack of pretty much everything other than a health meter at any given stage seems like a let down best described by remembering the first time you got Sky TV, then looking through a year later and realising there isn’t really that much on offer. Sure it’s fantastic to start with, and you can never imagine getting tired of it… but sooner or later you’ll realise all you’re doing with your time is neglecting the few friends you have in order to watch repeats of shit 80’s sitcoms and wondering why none of the few hundred channels you pay for shows Star Trek anymore.

Hindsight has once again proven itself to be a cynic’s most powerful weapon, but until I actually reach that level of boredom, repetition and general melancholy, I’m pretty determined to enjoy Spore and the trouser-tightening feeling I get from being given the power to condemn not only a single person, family or even city to hell and damnation; but instead given the power to make a whole alien race’s entire existence incredibly uncomfortable and inconvenient (such as locating said alien’s arse directly about it’s head).

I may at one point try the extreme lifestyle choices – pussyfied vs. the borg – but I’d rather delay it because I seriously doubt these choices work nearly as well as Fable, which for me still has massive replay value even today. Much in the same way that I still love DS9.

Should your short term memory be functional, you’ll have no doubt noticed a recurring Star Trek theme, but what can you expect from a game that gives me the option of making an alien race, then eventually letting me make a galactic empire with the option of designing their space ships? Yeah, I thought so. I’d like to see anyone who made it to the space stage of Spore and still hasn’t made anything the resembles something from a Sci-Fi series/movie. When I find this person, I can bring him to the Manchester University’s science department and have them disembowelled, studied and used as proof of life on other planets.

I’m really just waiting for the Event Horizon piloted by Care Bears.

Battlefield Bad Company

Before you start sending me unsavoury messages regarding the punctuality of this review, might I remind you that first and foremost, I don’t get paid to do this. I get paid to stand around a shop all day selling expensive things to people who don’t earn a penny they spend – and with a lack of windows, I’ve actually forgot what the sun looks like. I should also inform you at this point that I wrote a charming piece regarding nightclubs about a month ago, because I couldn’t be arsed writing this review earlier. Incidentally, fuck me, I’ve been really lazy…

Over the course of the last twelve months, I’ve played some decent (note: “decent” as in “nothing special but not actually bad”) FPS’s, some really good FPS’s, and some FPS’s that disappointed me to say the least. Actually, that’s a lie; Halo 3 and Frontlines: Fuel of War were decent, COD 4 was brilliant but I don’t dare play it online from the sheer volume of dickheads I encounter who play it, and pretty much everything else constitutes a big steaming dump on the latrine that is the current games industry.

I’ve also seen some good ideas in FPS’s this year, and more importantly, I’ve watched them fall apart on screen, jump out of the screen and slap me in the bollocks with a great big battered haddock; see Turning Point that FAILED to combine FPS action with some limited 3rd person exploration, and was pretty determined to look like a burnt arse, overshadowing the “what if” scenario which became my favourite after watching that episode of Enterprise. There was also Haze that decided it wanted me to be the whiny hero, when I’d personally rather be the biggest drug-fuelled badass known to man.

My theory of games is that they are supposed to let you do things you’re too much of a wuss to do in real life, for example using GTA 4 to climb to the top of the not-empire-state building with full health, firing a rocket the wall and watching Niko plummet to his fiery and infinitely painful fate, all in the knowledge that even if you don’t crush someone with your charred corpse, you’ll at least give someone a hell of a show. Another would be repeatedly shooting your team mate in the face whenever he (because you don’t know any girls) does anything stupid. As a gamer, in reality, when someone throws a brick at you head you’re more likely to run off home rather than start hurling insults.

Now then, the interesting thing about Battlefield that made me bother to actually remember it’s name can be outlined in the tried and tested phrase “blow shit up”. If you show me any FPS that will let me level the world around me with grenades and tanks, then I probably wont even notice if it looks like a burnt arse; I’ll be too busy landscaping. If you then prove to me that it looks very good while doing so and that I can eventually go to war in a golf cart, there’s little you can do to fuck the whole thing up.

As such, Battlefield: Bad Company has landed me in an awkward spot, chiefly because it’s bloody hard to be funny when talking about a game I’ve genuinely enjoyed. Sure, at first the aiming sensitivity feels far too high, but after a few minutes it’s perfect. I remember playing Battlefield on the original Xbox, and being wooed by the interesting and diverse environments (I’ve still not had a good fire fight in the snow since), and there was also of course the awesome flying camera whenever you switched character.

Upon reflection, my critical eye has come into play… for some reason, in Bad Company, you are one soldier in a group of four, and there’s no switching classes or awesome flying cameras. There’s also no denying that you’re in a battlefield, as the name suggests. Hang on, no you’re fucking not, you’re in a massive (but very pretty) field, with a few enemies dotted around in buildings which make up about 1% of the whole map and you spend an entirely unnecessary charging up and down said field finding these few berks dumb enough to hang around in pairs. But at least when you get there you can just blow the living shit out of anything you see, and watch rubble rain down all over your triumphant erection.

There’s also one confusing little factor I still can’t get my head around… in Bad Company, America is fighting Russia, which is fair enough, America usually fights Russia in games and movies. BUT! What the hell are they fighting over in Bad Company? It seems to be set in the present day, so no one’s trying to say it’s the Cold War, but there’s absolutely no indication as to why the FUCK you’ve been caught up in this quibble that I assure you will cost you your life on multiple occasions. Which brings me to another issue. There is absolutely no punishment for dying. Someone turns you into a lead sculpture of your former self, then you and your team immediately respawn about 20 feet away with everything exactly as it was when you died a few seconds ago. Even if you drop a grenade while surrounded, you’ll immediately respawn, but every enemy caught in the blast will be suspiciously absent.

Maybe someone’s just trying to say US health care kicks ass?

There are also collectables… which seem to do nothing other than exacerbate any OCD tendencies you already have, although I could be wrong, maybe you unlock them in multiplayer. Unfortunately as you may be aware already, I only get hold of most of these games for about a week, so I was busy ploughing (hehe) through the single player campaign. I have one final line of praise to sing of Bad Company, and that is that the vehicles are actually fun to drive – which is a bit sad, seeing as having fun driving sections seems to be about as easy as pissing out boulders.

Now that’s out of the way I’ve got one more bone to pick. The story of Bad Company quickly deviates from Russia vs. USA, which is just as well seeing as it wasn’t explained anyway; then you and your squad accidentally piss off the US army, go rogue and start stealing gold off mercenaries. There’s nothing wrong with this story, but there is that fact that you can quite easily finish the game without collecting a single bar of gold yourself, seeing as one is stolen in a cutscene which triggers the plot. Considering this is quite an important part of the story, I have to ask why the bloody Moses isn’t there something in place to encourage you to collect it yourself, other than the twang of an electric guitar?

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Music and Nightclubs

I like to consider myself a connoisseur of music, and as such I have about as much patience for music manufactured for the sole purpose of making drunk people dance as the average person has patience for a bed of knives being delivered second class. That said, if you stole my iPod while I was busy pissing off the side of a metrolink platform (and thus leave me in no real position to complain to the police), you'd find it stuffed with mostly rock music and a couple of 90's dance compilations. I can, however justify this by reminding you all that even Green Day covering The Ramones for an MTV award ceremony, and 90's dance music, has far more artistic merit and sustenance than anything you'll hear in a typical English nightclub. Then again recording someone farting on a jam sandwich hard enough to follow through generally has more artistic merit than anything you'll hear in a typical English nightclub.

Which neatly leads me onto something else that's been bugging me. Nightclub owners. Now, to run a nightclub, it helps if you're a bit of a dick, but it's not completely necessary. To own a nightclub though, the requisite immediately following "being loaded" is "be a total dickhole", which admittedly comes hand in hand with being rich. As all of us without money know, everyone with money is a complete bastard. Aside from Patrick Stewart, of course, who I imagine has more money than God thanks to a career spanning over 20 years, and recently advertising everything Nintendo has to offer. And Domestos. And Curry's.

So yeah, bastards own nightclubs. Now then, anyone who cares about being labelled a bastard is naturally going to try shaking this label. Unfortunately, as a nightclub owner it's impossible. You see, a nightclub owner makes money by basically poisoning and deafening people. And also charging obscene amounts to do so. Seeing as lots of people will have already decided that you sir, Mr Nightclub owner, are a complete twat, the only to truly shake the label is to do something ridiculously noble, but also make it as public and obvious as possible. Call me a cynic, but surely anyone partaking in a publicity stunt (without of course trying to ruin it by using a laser pointer with a penis lens) cares so much about what other people think about them, that they completely and utterly deserve to be publicly humiliated by having a penis drawn on their forehead while campaigning against homophobia.

As such, Mr Nightclub owner, the only way you can prove to everyone you are not the be all and end all of complete bastardry is to do something incredibly noble and keep it a secret from everyone, who'll assume you're just another nightclub owner who spends his weekends clubbing seals using frozen aborted babies.

I know that had nothing to do with games, but God dammit, it's about time someone said it.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

Before I get started, I feel I should let you all know that this week I was planning on reviewing Lair on the PS3. For some reason I only managed to play the first level and then it completely slipped my mind for what turned out to be over a week. Normally anything with dragons that makes me dive around my room with a joypad goes down a storm, or at least leaves some sort of lasting impression. So much for PS3 exclusives then?

Anyway, while C&C 3 has admittedly been out for quite a while, I always thought that the only people who bothered playing it were massive fans of the series. And by “massive fans of the series”, I don’t mean fanboys. What I mean of course is socially inept future serial killers. If you can find me any other kind of person who gets their jollies from pretending to be sitting in a big chair sending legions of soldiers to their death while simultaneously collecting various minerals in a manner that borders on obsessively compulsive.

Being one of these socially inept future serial killers, I don’t quite understand why I have such a poor relationship with RTS games. Watching little people stab, shoot and bugger other little people while stockpiling huge piles of shiny things from the comfort of my lovely chair should, in theory, be more fun for me than the average psychopath gets from shouting at people on buses.

I accept that I’ve taken a massive break from all RTS games, following an oddly obsessive bureaucratic phase during which I locked myself in my room playing Sim City 4, so I decided to don my “commander” costume (consisting entirely of my pants and a big bag of crisps), fired up C&C 3 and tried to rediscover why it was I’d abandoned all hope of RTS games. And more importantly, why I’ll be upset when Tom Clancy’s End War is released.

As I understand it, Command & Conquer has always been one of (if not the most) popular RTS franchise EVARRRR. Especially when you consider that Age of Empires is mostly played by students during college time and Supreme Commander is exclusively played by people who don’t lose sleep over how much RAM their computer has – but only because they’re worrying about a staggeringly long and complicated list of things the average human being doesn’t even know exists. Granted, a number of these could be imaginary; concocted to make the rest of us feel small and silly, but who can really understand what goes on in the head of someone who’ll defend to the death a machine they have to gut and upgrade every time a half decent new game comes out.

I digress, my point is that as far as RTS games go, Command & Conquer is probably the best. In all honesty, I very nearly approached this review with the intelligence of a psychopath who gets his jollies from shouting at people on buses. Should you be a normal human being, I should probably inform you that technically you are going to get bored rigid reading this, and in C&C 3 there are two basic factions locked in battle of some sort – there’s GDI, which is basically the United States with a few tins of Dulux, and there’s the brotherhood of NOD, who are basically religious communists – which is clearly more than meets the criteria for being on GDI’s bad list. It’s also worth taking note of the cutscenes in the C&C series, which are usually in place to make the story more dramatic, but really just exacerbate the situation by looking like out-takes from Babylon 5.

Anyway, my almost psychopathic mistake was to play through the GDI campaign until I reach what I like to call the RTF (Real-time Fuckery); which is that point in any RTS game when the difficulty curve you’ve been casually strolling along suddenly decides to spike up into a wall, impaling you through the arse leaving you crying and wondering why you bothered trying to play an RTS game again. I spent days trying to free myself from this anus spike; which in this particular instalment was to leave me in the middle of a heavily populated enemy area with but a handful of soldiers (most of which had fought their way to this place and had a very real risk of suffering a massive heart attack from breathing too quickly), very little resources and a miniscule but still very much blown up base – and then I was told to survive for five minutes until reinforcements arrived to let me build a real base, then ordered to rescue them and bring back to what was left of my base; and what was left was a smoking crater and half of NOD’s populous.

Speaking of spontaneous coronary issues, I forgot how hard you have to concentrate when playing an RTS. In fact, at one point I was concentrating so hard I didn’t even know I’d lost all of my paranoid-ninja-self-defence senses. Somehow I didn’t notice someone walk past a window directly adjacent to my face, and nor did it register when they opened the unlocked door directly behind me. As such I shat myself rotten, far worse than anything even Condemned 2 could have thrown at me, when said person said the terrifying word “hi”. It’s times like these that I really fall out with games.

When I decided this wasn’t actually possible, I set off to bitch and moan about being royally buggered time and time again, but then remembered that I could play through as the other side if I so choose. Now I’m sorry, but if you offer me a choice of being a noble, almost demigod gallant knight, or the choice of being a complete bastard whose only motivation in life is to give those self-righteous wankers whatfor; well, in that situation I’d have already killed your dog and stole all your food leaving behind only a tin of tomatoes in my wake.

I then proceeded to enjoy killing and tea-bagging GDI for a few hours, while trying worryingly hard avoiding getting, uh, you get the picture. The RTF moment in the NOD campaign was when I was told to command a literal one man army, then to take out a quite heavily protected GDI base. Granted, I did eventually get some reinforcements, but they consisted entirely of a couple of scout helicopters, and a disturbing group of lemmings who detonated whenever someone coughed on them. I spent a couple of days on this mission, suffering a number of RSI and stress-related injuries, before dubbing it pretty much impossible and giving up.

It was at this point I remembered why I should never be allowed near an RTS ever again. I remember a number of times when I’ve been playing The Settlers or Age of Empires, and I just sat there whimpering into my monitor and crying myself to sleep, having just watch some unstoppable force waltz onto my screen, murder all my people and pillage my whole society while occasionally stopping to insult my mother and choice of trousers. You’d be surprised at what happens to you when you watch hours of work and planning get wiped off the screen as if it were but a shit on the wall of a toilet bowl.

So here I am, wearing more than my pants and finishing off the last of my crisps trying to come to a conclusion on a game no one bothered playing over a year ago when it was released. I’m just so, so proud of me. In all fairness, the onslaught of console-friendly RTS games is set to begin soon and after a whole, painstaking 20 seconds of research, I realised there are a whole four RTS games over the current generation of consoles. One of them is on the Wii, so you can bet your arse that the strategy bit is gone, two of them are C&C 3 and the other looks like it’s been aimed at six year-olds. Considering that I’ll be damned if I’ll be flummoxed by a game aimed at people who can’t tie their own shoelaces, there’s technically only one RTS game on the current generation of consoles and that’s Command & Conquer 3.

If you need me to recommend an RTS game you can play with a joypad because, like me, you find keyboards bewildering and lacking in feel when it comes to gaming, then it’d have to be C&C 3 (either Tiberium Wars or Kane’s Wrath, seeing as I’d struggle to differentiate between the two). If on the other hand, one decent console RTS isn’t enough for you, I recommend you start travelling on buses more often and find people to shout at for no apparent reason.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

The Bourne Conspiracy (and why I couldn’t be arsed with it)

When I decide to review a game, I either start off approaching it with an odd cocktail or cynicism and enthusiasm or the game sits on my desk mocking me while I’m forced into spending my evenings watching soaps. In the case of the latter, I find myself taking the first opportunity to take the game around out back and then beating it to within an inch of its life, then objectifying whatever’s left. At least that’s what I like to think I do.

In the case of The Bourne Conspiracy, I knew that if this game had a mouth, it’d be screaming all sorts of abuse and heckling me for ignoring to death for no apparent reason. Well, I guess the best logical reason I could fathom was that I’d rediscovered how much fun it is to launch Niko off the not-empire-state-building on GTA IV. Either way, Bourne had been sitting there untouched and unloved for almost a week when I realised I had to bring it back in two days and that you’re all expecting me to tell you about it.

Well, having done a few minutes of research I found that pretty much everyone had declared it exactly average; while a mate of mine loved the combat, but wouldn’t really talk about anything else. It’s about time I should point out that despite objections from, well, everyone, I haven’t seen a single Bourne movie, nor have I felt the need to spin my eyeballs out of their sockets by reading the books. I think I saw the tiniest bit of the car chase to the soundtwack of Jonathan Woss. Ignoring the fact that it’s a series of movies that provides (all together, kids!) Matt Damon with lots of cash, I will forever dismiss Bourne as a dangerously American take on Bond. I mean, come on, the name just showcases the lack of imagination.

“This is my spy thriller, the main character is Ja-uh” (with the entire room staring at him) “Ja-uh-son… yeah, Jason! Jason Bo-uh…. Uh, uh, Bour-ne? Yeah, Jason Bourne and not at all derived from James Bond. Shit.”

I know, I know, before you start bombarding me with man-love for the Bourne movies, they’re nothing like Bond movies. Bond is suave and English. Bourne is an American killing machine with amnesia. Frankly, the only American killing machines I have time for are Stan Smith and Chuck Norris. I digress, I’m supposed to be talking about the game, not why I feel such apathy for the movies.

I can’t think of all that much to say about the Bourne game, and I’m sure that playing it for more than 2 hours wouldn’t have blessed me with any stronger feelings or indeed any other lasting impressions. Honestly, I’ve had more memorably experiences waiting for a bus on a Sunday. I’ve had stronger feelings for Rivita, in fact, I’d rather partake in a Rivita campaign than play the Bourne game any more.

The problem is that it’s just so bland. Sure, the hand to hand combat is fast and vicious, but the brief blip of adrenalin it provides wears off as soon as you stop mashing buttons. While playing it, all I could think of was Jean-luc Picard saying “He just kept talking and talking in one long incredibly unbroken sentence moving from topic to topic so that no one had a chance to interrupt it was really quite hypnotic”. Oddly enough, that provided me with more entertainment than Bourne, but that said my concentration wouldn’t differentiate the game from the movie and refused to join me for longer than about 4 seconds. A small list of things that I got thinking about while playing Bourne were:
- Is it worth staying on a pre-pay mobile phone?
- Do I get broadband with Sky, which I’ll never really watch, or get it with a pay monthly phone?
- Can Steven Hawking get an erection?
- Do cartoon characters have feelings?
- Why does one of my cats have eyebrows and the other doesn’t?

Eventually this list spiralled uncontrollably into the world of time travel, mountain bikes, guitars and John Rambo. I even tidied my room to avoid playing Bourne. Then I changed the light in the bathroom.

The Bourne game isn’t remotely memorable, it is ridiculously linear, it’s stuffed with so many quick-time events that I’d guess if it had bollocks, they would have burst in a horrible explosion of testicles, blood and random button presses. That said, it got off on the right foot. Bourne gets up, answers a phone, then you walk through a “busy” street stalking some terrorist or spy (whatever, I told you it wasn’t memorable). Along the way you break the faces of a few goons, find your target then introduce him to a few railings and your fists – which in the interests of holding my attention I named Joe Stevens and Leonardo.

Then it all swiftly goes down the shitter when Jason needs prompting to hide from a bomb behind some form of bench. This started a long series of sighs. The next came when I was told to go somewhere with a timer in the corner. This is usually something I dislike, but especially so in this situation, because no one told me where “somewhere” was and I’d have to have a few fights on the way there. Ugh. Then I found myself in some harbour at night. Surrounded by very similar looking black soldiers with guns. Ugh. What I thought would be the last piss take was being attacked by a helicopter whether I was or wasn’t in cover, so I just had to leg it to my destination (again with no real indication as to where the fuck it was). When I got there I had to have a big fight with a big man, then run away and get shot at by a helicopter a few more times. After a very, very repetitive sequence of jumping over railings which gave me an idea of what a Hollywood movie based on the Olympic games would be like. I found myself on a small boat.

When I say small, I mean the deck was conveniently just big enough to have another fight in, while there didn’t really seem to be enough room for an engine or any form of crew, come to think of it. One very boring fight later I gave up and carried on exploding on GTA, with only one thing following me through this experience: these are the same people working on the Ghost Busters game, and I don’t want to hate Dan Aykroyd.

All I can really recommend about the Bourne game is the pen light thingy you get with the special edition, because it’s a damn sight more entertaining than the game itself.

I didn’t even want to review this game at all, I wanted to play Battlefield Bad Company but I wasn’t allowed to. There’s no point in reviewing Smash Bros. Brawl, because you’ll like it if you like Melee, and you wont if you didn’t. In theory I could decided to be a normal human being for a few months while nothing other than Too Human comes out, but I’ve been becoming increasingly aware of how much hate I have for my fellow man and his desire to either get in my way or annoy the living shit out of me in impressively short times. Some people say I’m becoming too antisocial, and I can’t judge those people too much because their twisted remains keep my slippers company under my bed.
(Footnote: After finishing this, I was about to go back over what I’d written and try spicing it up a bit more, but sweet zombie Jesus, I’ve been filled with so much apathy by this game I can’t even bring myself to torture it).

Thursday 10 July 2008

FPS Showdown

I’m not exactly sure at this point if this could classed as a triumphant return, but depending on how this plays out, I’ll probably just go back to writing stuff on a weekly basis. Thanks for being patient, the reason it’s taken me three times longer than normal to bring you a review is because this week isn’t a review. Read on this week as I try my hardest to avoid innuendos in this, um, three-way. Shit.

Anyone who’s spent any length of time rummaging around the internet will know that at some point, every forum ever turns into a childish argument over which is best, and more often than not it’s about games. More specifically the consoles, but if you must really judge the three current machines I guarantee that it’s best to talk directly about games in comparison, rather than picking your favourite, having sex with it, then deciding to only whip it out around the others in order to take a great big piss all over them.

That said, over the last three weeks I’ve being – well, I’ve been moving house actually, so if it wasn’t for that I could probably have got this out sooner, but never mind – anyway, over the last three weeks I’ve been putting my trio of consoles through their paces to come to what turned out to be a rather illogical judgement on which console does an FPS best. The easy option would have been to play COD4 on the 360 and PS3, genuinely injure myself trying to find any differences, or something involving Halo 3 and Resistance: Fall of Man. Unfortunately, I’ve played Resistance and quickly just wanted to punch everyone who said it was the be-all and end-all of shooters. After COD4, as is the way with these people.

The contenders, then, are:
Representing everyone’s favourite stick-waggling Christmas present is Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
Emerging at last from the pits of pure fanboyish hype on the PS3 is Haze.
And finally, picked almost at random from an uncomfortably large selection of mediocre FPS’s for the 360 is Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.

In all honesty, I was really intending this to be a blow-by-blow and occasional kick in the bollocks tearing up of these three games and declaring the survivor the winner, but I may have approached it a bit wrong. You see, I’m proud to say I managed to stay completely uninterested during any Resident Evil game ever; being completely unable to comprehend why anyone could enjoy dodgy camera angles, running away from anything that moves when it eventually moves and forever backtracking in a ratio I estimate as five steps forward, four steps back, pick up some…thing then run back to where you eventually got to. My word, just even thinking about it is making me feel knackered. Anyway, as I understand it, Umbrella Chronicles is a way of catching up on the Resident Evil story in time for Resident Evil 5, without having to sit through any of the bloody backtracking and also a brilliant way to cut out most of the bullshit dialogue and cutscenes which never really helped my distain of this base of all Playstation fanboyism.

Forgive me, it’s probably not that clear why I feel Umbrella Chronicles was a bad choice for the Wii in this org-ahem, organised face-off we see too often in forums. My point it this, I approached Umbrella Chronicles with the thought in the back of my head, “if I have to sit through anything involving a 20-somethng girl who looks about 12, walks like a 12-year old, has the intelligence of a rotten turnip and somehow has been trusted to clean up some form of disaster, I WILL snap my Wiimote”. Sure enough, this was the first FUCKING thing I was presented with. Then it went on to leap out of this race, over the barriers and flung itself into the articulated lorry of my abuse and illogical hatred. All I wanted was Time Crisis with zombies, but no, apparently when facing the international organisation of smallpox carriers, the smart thing to do is stand perfectly fucking still until everything around you has died or killed you. As if not being able to take cover AT ALL didn’t piss me off enough, each checkpoint feels like a calendar month.

What I discovered while doing this was that Umbrella Chronicles can’t really be compared to any even half-arsed shooter, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to carry on mercilessly beating the shit out of it in my comfort zone. My biggest problem with every Resident Evil game ever is the dialogue, which is as staggered and annoying as climbing a huge flight of stairs made of bourbon biscuits. It’ll frequently fall through, there can’t possibly be anything worth the trouble at the end and you would have much preferred to eat it instead. But the key reason I only played it for a few hours before trying to smother myself was a similar reason I never finished the original Rainbow Six Vegas, but at least I could respect that. You see, Vegas was a hard game even though you cold take cover and hide like a little girl before someone inevitably decided to paint the level with your tender brains. Vegas may have kicked my arse, but it did so fairly and expertly; making me rethink my priorities and dashing any hopes I ever had about appearing in some sort of games tournament. Umbrella Chronicles, however, decided to glue my feet to the floor and shove half a zoo of zombie animals up my arse. Just being able to take cover behind frankly anything would have seen Umbrella Chronicles going down smooth.

Once a game decides it doesn’t want my to finish it or even progress at all, I decide it’s about time that game is prescribed a lethal dose of humility. With the Wii let down and flicked out of this competition like a gnat with premium bonds, let’s get cracking on some real FPS’s. Well, a pair of half-arsed FPS’s, seeing as COD4 is fast approaching its birthday and talking about Halo 3 at all on the internet is a sure-fire way to get your house burned down.

So, firstly, what attracted my to Haze and Turning Point? Generally when I pick a game to write about, it’s something I’ve been waiting for, something I can think of something really rude to say about it or I’ve read the box as it’s been delivered and thought “hmm, that looks interesting”. Battlefield Bad Company is one of the latter, so expect that to show up pretty soon. When Haze was launched, I had the privilege of working virtually full time at a games shop over about two weeks and I was the only person to sell any copies of it – two, in fact – and I also got to personally bring back these two copies almost immediately. I found this interesting because for a game hyped to buggery by every Playstation fanboy, it sold actually impressively badly. Naturally I had to investigate the single most powerful tool in shutting up fanboys. Turning Point, on the other hand, was another one of those games that managed to get released without many people noticing; and for a game that didn’t involve the words “xtreme”, “trains” or “hot wheels”, I found this intriguing too.

Every shooter I bother playing has to have some sort of USP (the key word in that is unique, so that’s all you have to worry about), and I honestly doubt Haze was certain about what it was. In Turning Point, it’s quite simple: it’s WWII time(ish) Winston Churchill is dead and the Nazis are taking over the world. OK, not exactly unique, but it’s stuff like that I get attracted to like a fly to a bug zapper. And sure enough, I usually get zapped in the face; with the possible exception of when they went off on a tangent on Enterprise and decided to make a two-part episode set in Star Trek’s famed “alternate universe” – which I fucking loved.

Anyway, Haze’s problem with its USP is that it thinks that having a plot twist is a USP. When you remember that it’s wise to advertise a USP, you see that Haze looks completely retarded without even having to play it. Unfortunately, so many games have double-crossing plot twists that any game without a twisty plot is much more interesting. Before I ramble on about how Haze could have been more interesting than some old carpet, I need to explain something.

In Haze, you are a Mantel soldier – i.e., a mercenary. But more importantly, you’re given Nectar, which in my head is a mixture between steroids and crystal meth; and when a faceless military organisation starts pumping its soldiers with crystal meth, it’s no surprise they may be lying about their motives. After playing for about 20 minutes, Captain Brainstorm – aka Sergeant Carpenter – picks up on this and defects, just as the box explains. Then it’s up to you to work with the most irritating people in world to take Mantel down, although from the way they scream abuse you can’t blame anyone for thinking they were actually terrorists.

Anyway, Haze would be greatly improved if Ubisoft hadn’t decided to stick to the pussy idea of being a hero, and instead decided that Carpenter finds out what Mantel is up to and decides to go along with it. I mean, come on, it’s a game! It’s supposed to be fantasy! I’m sick of playing some chiselled American soldier out to save the world from evil. Why can’t I choose to just be the biggest bastard who ever bastarded a bastard in the face? This is why I loved Fable (and why I’m sure I’m going to be let down when Fable 2 is eventually released), you could choose to be good or evil with no real consequences, you just did as you pleased. On top of everything else, it’d really piss off Jack Thompson.

Now that I’ve thought of another brilliant idea surely no developer will ever gaze upon, I can get on with repeatedly mashing together Haze and Turning Point in some twisted game of virtual conkers. In my mind, the most important part of any FPS is to balance speed and weight in the aiming, and it you can’t get it right by default, then it can’t be that hard to shove sensitivity adjustment things into the options. You know, “adjust x axis”, “adjust y axis”, nothing fancy but quite adequate for finding your sweet spot. With Haze, I didn’t really find it to be much of a problem even with Sony’s pleasant looking, but in practise useless, analogue sticks. Turning Point, on the other hand. Gave me the option of default, slow and fast. By default up and down is absolutely fine, but turning around takes a fortnight, so when you want to leg it like the civilian you are (and naturally you are just a civilian with massive balls and a gun, I mean heaven forbid you get to play as a soldier in a war game), all you really get is a face full of the bullets you were trying to hide from. The smart choice is to turn the horizontal sensitivity up… ah. You see, the pair are tied up in “look sensitivity”, which means that by the time you’ve managed to turn around comfortably, the slightest nudge up or down will fuck up your world more than being stabbed in the face with a talking hamster.

That annoyed me, because I really wanted to like Turning Point, so I pressed on. You see, I stopped playing WWII games after Medal of Honour 2, and wondered why no one else did – once you’ve spent enough time with a 60-year old rifle, you realise that Tom Clancy has a much better idea on how to make a shooter.

Another thing about shooters as of late is that you quickly find a favourite weapon and it sees you through to the end, aside from once or twice when you needed a rocket launched – which has also become the FPS bitch, and will kill you if you hit anything less than a mile away but somehow has the splash damage as dropping an elephant in the battlefield. Suspiciously, most rocket launchers take about as long to reload as hoisting said elephant up on a crane, ready to be dropped again. And hang on a minute, any homing rockets also seem to follow their target about as well as an elephant that’s been dropped on its face from 80 feet… what the hell are developers doing to elephants?!

What was I getting at before I turned into Ross Noble? Oh yeah, favourite weapons! Far too many shooters these days leave you picking what inevitably turns out to be some sort of rifle as you best friend in the whole game, and makes you feel silly whenever you try straying off to another weapon. COD4 got around it by dropping you in a variety of obscure situations, which left you needing either a bullet hose, a sniper rifle, anti-air/tank weapons and of course SMGs. Haze, on the other hand decided that the Mantel rifle is more than capable of dealing with pretty much every situation and everything else has the accuracy and poise of a fat kid at McDonald’s. Turning Point got around this by letting you use the gun you’d prefer to use until the end of time only once – by only giving you ammo for it at the start of one level, the rest of time you only really had ammo to use some shitty German SMG. Fucking woo.

If we can briefly stick to methods of dishing out pain, Turning Point and Haze both used some interesting ideas, rather than holding down the melee button until everything in front of you breaks. This is still Condemned territory, but it’s worth a mention with these two. With Turning Point, you walk up to your target, press B when prompted and the quickly press down on the d-pad to your victim hostage or you can press up to twat the shit out of that bastard. Should you choose the latter (as I did all but once, in the interests of science), you’re treated to a third person animation of… whatever his name is… beating the shit out your dear Nazi friend. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t play a single hand in the actual fighty bit, but it is still strangely satisfying in a world of lame FPS melee attacks. It’s a bit like the bit in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig got tied up and hit in the bollocks with the knotted rope – well, not quite on the basis that you can actually watch the beatings in Turning Point, rather than turning away and holding onto your bollocks for dear life.

As this is a comparison, and because I’ve already said it’s interesting, I guess I should get talking about why the melee attacks in Haze are worth mentioning. Well, in the past when you melee an enemy in a shooter, the melee you straight back and this generally carries on until someone dies or someone else gets bored and realises they actually have a shell in their shotgun. In Haze though, some clever arse realised that there aren’t many people who can react immediately to being cracked across the face with a big lump of iron or fist, and as a result, when you give someone a smack, they take a moment to recover and twat you back; and it works both ways. What’s more interesting is how this system works when you play as a rebel. This may be a personal thing, but I’ve always wanted to play a game where I can steal my enemy’s weapon, shove it up their nose and scream at the top of my lungs “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT MOTHERFUCKER!!”. It’s possible that I just don’t react well to campers. Either way, as a rebel, once you’ve given your ex-comrade an Oltronion vasectomy (watch My Hero with that bloke off Father Ted, it involves bricks), you can then pinch the gun out of their hands and then shoot them in the face with it. And when the little bastard’s been hiding behind a rock taking pot shots at you for the last 5 minutes while you’ve had something bigger to deal with, nothing is more satisfying than making him eat on of his own bullets. Nothing.

But not all is well with these two games; you couldn’t really pass either off as a commercial success and there are reasons why. Haze, for instance, starts off with you spending quite a lot of time with some of your squad, and I pray on my knees until I’m up to my arse in my own blood and cartilage that I was supposed to laugh and these two idiots are a bold-faced satiristic statement about Republicans. If, on the other hand, they were a serious attempt at showing casual/realistic banter between human beings, then I’m afraid I’ll have to hold my head below the aforementioned pool of blood and cartilage until my brain stops making impulses, for I’d have given up all hope for the world. I wish I was being melodramatic. Turning Point also suffers from a criminally half-arsed art department and for the first few levels of the game I couldn’t help but notice I wasn’t fighting Nazis, but instead I was fighting a legion of Adrian Edmondsons. And seeing as I love Adrian Edmondson, I was upset that I had to repeatedly kill him, especially with something as dull as a German SMG.

Both of these games got off to good starts, with Haze I was presented with lots of mercenary action and a lovely drug to make the annoying little bastards not so much glow, but look like they were rather on fire a bit. There was the little fact that Haze uses first person cutscenes which it tries to pass off as interactive by letting you look around a teeny tiny bit, but at least it makes up for them by having moments when the Nectar starts wearing off and you realise Mantel soldiers only see what they’re supposed to – and it’s genuinely chilling when you and your squad walk through an empty room and your vision screws up showing blood all over the walls and your armour along with a big pile of rebel corpses, then they disappear with no reaction from your squad. Turning Point gave me a good feeling at the start thanks to a cuts scene showing a 1940’s New York being blown to pieces by Germans. And frankly, if America couldn’t see the massive fleet of Nazi bombers and such charging across the Atlantic, it deserves to be turned into a smouldering crater.

Annoyingly, I wanted to give Haze a damned good kicking and run it in the face of everyone who was looking forward to it (much in the same way I enjoy laughing at everyone who’s been waiting for Splinter Cell Conviction), but Turning Point doesn’t had anything that can match it, all it has is the question “what if…?”, which is what games should be like in my opinion, but they still need more. What they also need is to run smoothly. I mean, both of these games are disappointing when it comes to graphics, and neither of them do anything to justify being so fuck ugly. Haze has loading times best described as simply painful, and Turning Point… well, remember when Halo 2 came out and people were complaining about how the “popping” in the cut scenes was molesting their children and slapping about their mothers? Well, Turning Point just, in fact I don’t know… I think it just keeps forgetting to load up the whole level before you get to it, and to top it off, most of the textures are so ugly, you can’t really tell when it’s done.

If you’re keeping score, Haze is ahead right now, because although the backdrops in Haze actually look like cardboard cut-outs, Turning Point is generally pretty damn ugly and pop-tastic. In the interest of being fair, I can still slap these two about a bit for making the same mistakes. And so I shall. The splash damage is absolutely ridiculous in the pair of these games, and what terrifies me more is that it’s starting to make me believe that I’d be find if I stood at one side of my room and rolled a live grenade to the other side. And having that thought floating around in your head when prone to bouts of biblical boredom is a dangerous combination. That said, mini-nuke grenades still wouldn’t do much with the main characters in these games, and the pair of them seem quite capable of surviving anything right up to a grenade hanging out of their arse exploding. Then it takes little more than a sneeze to recover.

The last excuse I’m going to use to crack these two games’ heads together is that they have the least likeable characters ever. In Turning Point, the main character is a builder of some sort, and the only reason he isn’t a soldier is because he can’t be arsed. Now that demolition is a bigger business in America, he decides he might as well join the resistance, with his only real motive being to get his job back, I imagine. Somehow he’s arguably the best soldier in the 1940’s, but just can’t be arsed doing it until a bunch of Germans land on his face.

And Carpenter in Haze? Don’t you dare think I’m letting him get out of this in one piece. He’s a whiny little bitch with commitment issues and I much preferred him when he was drugged up to his eyeballs on steroids, at least he didn’t talk as much then. On more than one occasion, I actually tried reaching into my TV in order to slap the little bastard around a bit. Having finally put my hatred of Carpenter down in words, it makes sense why I found myself deliberately stepping on grenades, landmines and anything else explosive I could find. He also has no friends. Well, I doubt he did when I was done with Haze, having shot his schoolmates in the face and then realised that friendly fire is turned off once you’re a rebel – which really annoyed me on the last level when I got lost while being followed by a big group of very loud, very hostile Mexican freedom fighters. It’s one of those things I wish I’d noticed earlier. I could have saved about 200 bullets.

I should make a judgement now, seeing as I seem to have more than made up for my recent silence on the internet. The thing is, do I deal the final blow to the bloodied Turning Point, or the now toothless Haze? Well, Turning Point tried incorporating 3rd person action in a 1st person shooter, which as you can imagine, doesn’t fit and doesn’t work; then there’s the fact that I actually had high hopes for it, whereas I was just trying to find out how bad Haze actually was.

This is a bit of a mess then, somewhere outside splattered across the road of prejudice is Umbrella Chronicles, which was adamant to fuck itself over as quickly as possible; in one corner I’ve beaten Turning Point to a pulp then kicked it in the bollocks for not living up to my expectations, and I’m left with the judgement that Haze is a shit game with good ideas. And that’s a shame, because if Ubisoft had decided to let someone vaguely intelligent to take control of Haze, it could have been really quite good.


(I'd apologise for the lack of pictures, but all I could think of was porn... and I think you've got enough writing out of me to make up for it).