Friday 30 May 2008


Having spent the last week or so while barely indulging in the luxury of sitting down for more than 10 minutes, you should consider yourself damned lucky I'm posting anything at all, with or without pictures. Also, I hate moving.

With my comfortable excuse out of the way, let's get cracking with this week's review: Viking. If memory serves, this is another game with the misfortune to be launched alongside Condemned 2, which as Blacksite proved, isn't a good thing. The problem is that Viking is a game I had no prior knowledge about, to the point where I accused someone of living with mittens sewn to their jacket when they asked me if it was out or not yet.

First impressions weren't all that good, with a long-haired, overly muscular bloke, posing in an overly-muscular way, showing off his long hair and dodgy ponytail. In the snow. Ignoring the gay references and the niggling feeling that Asgard is somewhere in the Lord of the Rings universe, I selflessly ploughed into Viking-full-title: Battle for Asgard to bring you, my loyal reader(s) more of my critical cynicism and almost pathetic nit-picking.

At least, that was the plan. First time I got a moment alone with my 360, I put Viking in the tray (that's disc tray, not dinner tray), watched the first cutscene understanding something along the lines of "I'm the long-haired, overly muscular prick standing around in the snow, only now I'm the long-haired muscular prick standing in a field being stabbed. And now someone else will keep reviving me as long as I..." yada yada yada, something to do with freeing men with beards. Then having watched the first cutscene and talked to a bearded man and a slightly less bearded woman, I was greeted with a crash. Then another. And another. Then, lo and behold, I became intimately familiar with the renowned "ring of death", or as I prefer to call it, the "you're fucked now lights".

Call me childish, but I guess the best start with a new game generally isn't categorised by trying to play it on what you understand to be an upgrade of some truly knackered hardware (if you can't keep up, I mean it was a 360 Elite that died on me), only to have said upgraded hardware cough a bit, then decided to lie down and never move again. Metaphorically, of course. Anyway, I ignored this cock-up on Microsoft's part and gave Viking another try.

I was rather pleased to discover that it plays quite a lot like Fable - and this is a good thing, because it's the only RPG I can think of that could spur me on to finish once, let alone 11 times, each time happier than a fat kid locked in a bakery. The bonus being that someone decided Skarin (which I'm also pretty certain was a bad guy in Enterprise) could jump and climb over stuff, as well as being the most muscular wuss in the world by being completely unable to swim despite being quite free to walk straight into the sea. Is it just me or would you be quite capable of swimming if you spent your entire life living in a village separated from the seaside by a few twigs?

So far I have two niggles then: the originality has been skimped on and the main character has about as much swimming talent as a paraplegic squirrel. This is generally the point in my review where I'd start balancing out my argument with stuff that I like, but in the interest of consistency, I'm going to continue giving Viking the going over with the good old chainsaw of rape and criticism. Something I noticed very quickly, once I'd used blind luck to find my way out of the village and how to kill people, was that every single viking warrior outside the village seemed to be born from the exact same sperm and egg combination. Remarkable, really, until you realise that this isn't reality, so the odds of that happening in reality was completely irrelevant and Sega are just a bunch of lazy arses.

I briefly mentioned how I had to figure out how to kill things on my own, so it's time for me to elaborate on that. When you start the game, the entire tutorial is how to move the camera and pressing B when you come near some people will start them talking. So, after a few hours I figured out a use for gold, i.e., realistic health potions that heal you in the same way that you can have an interesting conversation with a dog, and buying new ways to kill people. That was about it, I accidentally figured out how to start an "assault" while dicking around with the map and spent the rest of the time killing people.

...which neatly brings me to the positives. Someone, at some point in development decided that giving enemies health meters or hit points was a crap idea, and instead you kill enemies by cutting them into small pieces. And when you decide to make a game where you kill people by literally bringing them out of themselves, then apart from themselves and finally pulling them back together in a sort of gruesome pile of blood and organs on the floor, you generally can't do much to make it anything other than fun to play in my opinion.

Unless of course you decided to swarm the player with a combination of enemies and allies in an epic clash best described by getting two glasses of dry sand and pouring them in a bowl. And of course, because the universe is out to get me, this is exactly the case, but with a good old catch-22 thrown in for good measure. Yeah, I admit I didn't finish Viking, but that was because it wanted me to assault an encampment once I'd freed a lot of Vikings and summoned a dragon, but the only way to summon the dragon was to collect a rock from somewhere then plug into the mains socket inside the encampment I couldn't fight my way into until I'd summoned the dragon. Which is a shame, because I would have loved to see a big dragon involved in a game where it's almost too easy to separate a man from his legs. Well that's not strictly true, I don't think it's a bad thing when it's easy to separate a man from his legs.

Where does that leave my viewpoint then? Well, to sum up I'd say that the viking part of Viking is done really well: you attack with a pair of very pointy weapons which do damage like very pointy weapons, but pretty much everything else in the entire game is... somewhere. Who knows, maybe with more tutorials it would have stood up more favourably. But then again, maybe 4x4s would go down better with Greenpeace if they were powered by nuclear reactors rather than oil and maybe life would be better if everyone walked around with their wallets stapled to their foreheads.

Should you have anything you want to say to me, and you're too scared of leaving a comment then I'm going to take a gamble by leaving my email address for you all:

Monday 19 May 2008

Dark Sector

Dark Sector is a fairly little-known game, much to my surprise seeing as the UK's Official Xbox Magazine has been anticipating it over the last few months as if it came with a free emu farm, but seems to be the most ignored new release since they brought out Cabela's Badger Cull, or whatever the hell they called the last one. I guess my best explanation is that it had the misfortune to be the only game to come out alongside Condemned 2, which in the scale of things is like being at a battle of the bands and going on after The Darkness, then cursing yourself for living in Lowestoft. Oh, and sorry for the lack of pictures this week, I've been really busy.

I'm not exactly sure where to start this review, which I guess is a similar problem Digital Extremes had with Dark Sector. A safe way to start a review is to waste time talking about the story until I can think of something more interesting to write, but in this case I think I'm missing half the story somehow. I don't mean I played the game for 10 minutes and gave up out of boredom, I reached the end credits. No, no, no, the bit I'm missing is the first half of the story, which is rather odd considering the first chapter is entitled "Prologue" - which is a piss-poor title seeing as a) it doesn't make any attempt to explain the backstory, and b) it shows the events taking place about 5 seconds before the first "real" level. No tutorial level, but then again the game blankets your screen with help text whenever you stumble across something slightly different.

I'm usually not bothered enough about a game's backstory unless I can really take the piss out of it, or if it tries to take the piss out of me by having all the characters knowing a hell of lot more than me and new characters popping up with apparently strong relationships with the lead character and no evidence of it. I looked through the instruction book to find only a page on controls and a load of bollocks relating to guarantees and the French.

The effect of this is you spend the game feeling like a camera man, only the first camera man unexpectedly died and due to a tight production schedule, no one has time to let you know what the fuck is going on, or even pay attention to you. This was so bad that I spent the entire game thinking the main character was called Aidan, which is a bit odd for an American, but still a real name; only to learn from the internet that he suffered from the much more stupid name Hayden. That's a pretty honest mistake, but I still don't know who the hell everyone else was or what they were talking about when they shouted at Hayden for killing "those people". No, it's nothing I did, it started in the opening cutscene.

Enough of complaining about the story of (left in the) Dark Sector and onto the bits you'll actually care about. I'll try hard to avoid the GTA IV comparisons, but I played it so much recently that over the last few days when I wake up I've had to remind myself that my name isn't Niko Bellic, and I don't know anyone called Roman.

Over recent years the concept of games being divided into levels just isn't cool anymore, so now they're split into "chapters"... which are like groups of levels with only the best games getting the logic between the splits right. Maybe they just don't want us to feel that sense of pride from finishing a difficult level anymore. Anyway, what this generally means is that rather than sitting down at a game for about 10 minutes to finish a quick level on a game, we now have to cushion our arses for lengths usually exceeding half an hour. I say generally, because some tit involved in the Dark Sector development forgot how long each chapter was, which results in some chapters being about 20 seconds long (I'm not even kidding) and others taking the ugly side of 2 hours. It's nothing particularly serious, it's just a bit thick, especially considering the on 360 version this means the game constantly vomits achievements at you which neatly lands on your lap spelling out the words "that's it?".

I wouldn't call Dark Sector a bad game, but I'd gladly call it a bit of a cock-up. You see it's taken an ill-fated turn down Rip-Off Alley, which we all know is full of rapists and murders. Don't worry, Dark Sector made it out alive, albeit a bit battered and bruised, and most likely pregnant with Gears of War Jr, another Tomb Raider game and Resident Evil 4.2. By the time I'd reached the credits, I'd given up counting the number of games it had ripped off. The Resident Evil rip off was impressive, considering my entire Resident Evil experience involves watching someone play Resident Evil 4 a bit, then getting hold of the control for a few minutes before I wished I was playing Dead Rising instead.

Now, that confused me. Not Resident Evil, I just didn't like the idea of playing someone else's save game in a strictly 1-player game. No, what confused me was why they felt the need to rip off other games, especially when you see how badly they ripped off Gears of War. I mean, you play some bloke with an infected arm that's now basically turned into metal with the world's sharpest boomerang and a pistol in the other. That's a good start for an action/puzzle game. There's plenty of evidence that there are people in the production team with brilliant ideas for puzzles for the glaive (that's what they decided to call the biggest "fuck you" to Australian Aborigines), but unfortunately someone locked them in a cupboard somewhere in Digital Extremes' offices, meaning that the only ideas that got used were the ones people heard on their way to and from the toilets while they passed it.

Aside from ripping off an almost impressive catalogue of games, Dark Sector also suffers from trying too hard to be an American action movie, even though it would be much better suited to some kind of puzzle game. I honestly think the lead designer visited Russia as a child only to watch his parents get brutally murdered by the entire Russian population. It's the only explanation I can think of which explains the cringe-worthy amount of Russian-bashing going on in Dark Sector. Seriously, they're presented as a race of ruthless (and stupid) thugs ready to shoot anything that moves, evil scientists, and of course, they all speak perfect English in a Russian accent for Hayden's sake. I forget to mention "really bloody corrupt" then, because the best example of this is the representative of the "black market", where you go to upgrade your weapons, but I was trying to forget that motherfucker because he's the single most annoying person in the game. Being British, I don't appreciate being called Yankee-doodle by anyone.

There's issue with the boss battles too. Aside from being introduced with drama as intense as a soap opera, yet still ending with an ending that feels a bit, well, damp, they're about as difficult as putting on a pair of socks: as long as you have working hands, you're not in any trouble. That isn't the case with the first boss, which goes to show that Digital Extremes really don't understand the word "prologue". The first boss involves leaving you in an arena with a helicopter gunship buzzing around overhead, mercilessly mincing you as if it wants to make a nice chilli con carne out of you, while you're left scampering around until you find a rocket launcher to send his Black Hawk ass straight to hell. There's also the fact that all the bosses seems to be tactlessly nicked from Metroid Fusion, but at least that shed some light on a little mystery: I knew that little bastard wouldn't have died the second time either. Actually, in Dark Sector you fight it twice too. Then there's the guy in a powered suit of armour with a massive gun, and a final boss you hurt by attacking giant tentacles before shooting him in the face. Sorry, lobbing the glaive at, not shooting.

It must be said though, Dark Sector isn't that bad a game, just misguided by a crap attempt at remaking Gears of War. A great way to relieve most of the stress the game throws at you by way of crap guns on your half and weird gas grenades the Russians have that sends you on an acid trip, which as far as I could tell only hindered you by not letting you know how injured you are, was to take control of the glaive mid flight and remove some limbs to the chorus of wails of agony by the little fucker who tried ruining your day. It's just a shame that it's almost impossible to do that against the bastards with big metal shields who walk right up to you with no way to hurt them, then start hacking your face off. A grenade would do the trick, but only if you can figure out how to get one to detonate between his legs, because they sure as hell don't work any further away.

Wednesday 14 May 2008


Well, this isn't a video, but I thought I'd get my own thoughts down first before today's Zero Punctuation video. I'll try making a video for it later today, though.

The first reason I haven't posted this review already is because I was planning on having a system link multiplayer on GTA IV, only to discover last night that for some reason this isn't possible, only allowing you to play multiplayer on Xbox Liv
e. Well, that pissed on my day like an incontinent puppy while also leaving me as confused as I was earlier that morning when I ran into someone who I know lives 40-something miles away and couldn't think of any reason for them to be where they were. Surely it's a lot simpler to make a system link multiplayer feature for a game rather than online multiplayer, so why the shitting hell can't you system link GTA IV?! Probably the same tepid reason there's absolutely no local multiplayer for Burnout Paradise.

In the same way that it's only polite to let someone know you think they're a complete bastard before engaging them in conversation, I have to admit I've been eagerly looking forward to GTA IV since I knew it existed, even more so after the first trailer showed me how pretty it was. I mean seriously, as far as I was concerned, the box could be made out of a special plastic that give you penile cancer and I still wouldn't mind as long as it looked as good as the trailer showed. Although in the games industry, admitting to enthusiasm is like holding up a big sign outside a developer's offices saying "please god disappoint me".

Considering this is a review, which typically involves seeing the credits rolling at least once (unless a game proves itself to contain a fantastically impressive amount of shittiness), I really think in all fairness I should put a spoiler warning here.

That said, clocking GTA IV this fast was a hell of a task; I've become accustomed to getting hold a game and finishing the single player campaign within a week. This time around, I had to sacrifice a lot of time I usually devote to sleeping. And Sod's law dictates that the week or s
o it took me would be the week this part of England gets the best weather ever motherfucking recorded. Well, it's not that bad, seeing as it left my room hovering around the 40 degrees Celsius mark over night, so I had something to do because sleeping sure as hell wasn't an option.

I doubt I have to remind you what the game's about; but I'll do it anyway to be fair for the one person who (statistically speaking) hasn't bought GTA IV yet. You are Niko Bellic, a man
with the world's largest nose and coolest name, fresh off the crummiest boat ever to sail into America with the idea in your head that your idiot cousin is loaded and getting laid a lot and you want in on it. After about 20 seconds it becomes apparent that Niko has a broody past and the main reason he's come to Liberty City (which is in no way remotely similar to New York, honestly) is to kick some particular ass and chew Release Gum, because remember: you chew, you suck, then POW! Life dumps a load in your mouth. Niko may well be broody, but as far as massive balls go, I can't think of anyone who tops him. I mean come on tied up in a basement by a man with a hacksaw and this comes out:

"Talk, Polak!"
"OK, OK, your dad likes it up the ass. ...what do you want me to say?"


Aside from having a nose able to sustain small land mammals, Niko also has the hairiest face know to man. And trust me, I've seen some damn hairy faces. This sounds racist, but Niko is "eastern European" after all, so he is genetically inclined to grow an amount of facial hair that would be little other than worrying elsewhere. If you don't believe me, talk to someone from Ukraine.

I'd love to start picking the story to pieces, but it's really quite good. Screw it, I'll give it a shot anyway. Niko comes to Liberty City (definitely not New York still) in search of revenge and a normal, peaceful life. Yeah, that's a bit of a contradiction, but life wouldn't be interesting if everyone was perfectly logical and consistent. Anyway, Niko decides that the best way to obtain this peaceful life is to start off beating the ever living shit out of a bunch of loan sharks hassling Roman (his cousin, for you Mr Cheapskate). Fair enough, but personally, I'd rather find a way to pay them their money and get them out of my life that way, rather than pissing off the Russian Mafia. As the game progresses, Niko constantly lands himself in different situations wherein people can shit on him from varying great heights, while occasionally standing up only to realise that while he busy sat down being shat on, someone else had tied his testicles to a tree - thus leaving lots of people having him by the balls.

Now, if you've played a GTA game since GTA III, you'll be very familiar with the concept of the antagonist being introduced early in the story, with the game ending after a very long time playing and a few hundred bullets in the head of said arsehole (GTA III: Catalina, Vice City: Sonny Forrelli, San Andreas: Tenpenny and no-one gives a crap about the PSP ports, although a trio of these games based on the three cities from San Andreas would have been interesting). You've had your spoiler warning, so I'm free to mention that while the game has multiple endings and in the ending I got, I'd already killed the antagonist, and then was sent on a revenge mission on some random prick I'd seen
only about 4 times - all during the last two hours of the game.

While interesting deviations are always welcome in games, this deviation felt more like going on a trip w
ith a friend you haven't seen for a few years, everything's going really well, you're both a lot more interesting, then towards the end of the trip your friend jumps into a bush while someone else jumps out of a tree and mugs you, before cockslapping you and running off with your friend, leaving you alone in a foetal position in the middle of Wales. Sorry, but that pissed me off. After such an anticlimactic end to someone who'd managed to ruin each of my days in Liberty City (because New York was full), I was annoyed that the most intense chase in the game involved Niko chasing someone who'd just pissed him off, although I honestly didn't give a toss about him at any other point in the game. I'd spent so long trying to empty an assault rifle in the real antagonist that the only things satisfying about the last mission were a) knowing I'd never have to chase someone on wet sand again and b) getting the outfit from GTA III as a reward.

I'd also like to point out that Rockstar's obsession with keeping the story completely under wraps (i.e., my job was threatened if I bought GTA IV before the launch day or even if I opened the box containing the strategy guides - seriously!). It's basically a story of revenge that doesn't go away. Each major kill you get generally reminds you there's someone else who's pissed you off, so you have to trundle along to them and kick some more arse. That's not strictly true, seeing as there's a pretty pointless system of letting some people live or die. Such a thing is Fable territory, wherein it affects your alignment, appearance and the world around you. Aside from being able to occasionally being able to run into the people you've spared on the streets, there's no real difference. No one finds out you haven't killed them, and if you do kill them you get to see a cool, gritty and rather gruesome execution.

I'd like to take a moment to criticise the way Niko moves at slow speed. Yes, it's all well and
good making him move like a real person in a straight line, but my god, who the hell leans like that when turning?! With the Euphoria engine in action, you'd imagine that every time he leaned that much he'd stop and rebalance himself. Other than that, I'm really impressed with the way Niko moves. Something I always notice about games is how fast the characters always move. In the past, it seems that every character from a console is quite happy to jog perpetually without breaking a sweat, but only being able to sprint for a short time. This time, Rockstar finally realised this isn't exactly realistic, so the left stick alone with only make Niko walk. Not run, jog, or sprint, but walk, hike or ...yomp? Despite being very impressed with this observation and making Niko more human than any other character (aside from possibly the Mudokons from the Abe games), combined with actually having a past which he acknowledges and can't escape from, this whole "your own marching pace" thing started to piss me off around the time I had to start chasing things, which was, I don't know, after about 2 FUCKING MINUTES INTO THE GAME.

You'll have taken note at some point over the last year or so at missions involving dicking around with the internet, or your phone, but don't be fooled. Niko automatically answers important phone calls as ever and there's only a handful of missions you n
eed the internet for. The rest are generally more of the same stealing stuff, killing stuff and chasing stuff (which you either have to catch and kill, or follow somewhere - the only noticeable difference being that on the latter your target moves at Mach 4).

There are a number of brilliant touches in GTA IV, starting with an eye-boggling attention to detail - like the tread of tires, the ground looking perfect when wet, Niko smashing windows to cars instead of just giving up on them, getting arrested for drunk driving, being able to start fights with people, then get them arrested by phoning the police - I could go on for a few months. All I'll say is I feel sorry for the people who had to go over every inch of Liberty City (no even New York's bitch, it's really that dissimilar) to make sure it was perfect. It's the only way I can imagine why everything looks so damn good.

I'm at a bit of a loss now, because the last line of attack a reviewer has always had in the past w
hen it comes to GTA is the aiming. In the originals, it involved just looking in the direction you wanted to shoot, then hoping for the best, and it didn't change much until San Andreas gave you a free aim option which was still a bit shit anyway. Now you see, GTA IV uses an aiming system which is (and I know everyone else has said this already, but it's true) very similar to Gears of War. Take cover. Aim. Shoot. Try not to die. Well, it's not as good as Gears of War, because you can't just hold down the cover button and push different directions to climb over stuff or dive out of the way. If you're lucky, however, you can run in the direction of cover during a shoot-out, hit the cover button and watch Niko slide to your chosen hiding place, and if you're in the right place, you can switch to somewhere adjacent really fast without getting hit. It's... it's... it works. OK, GTA IV has a damned good aiming system and it - no, I'll leave that for next time.

I feel I'm perfectly fine in saying that while GTA IV follows the tried and tested idea of "three isl
ands" (don't get started, Bohan and Happiness Island don't count as separate islands), and it also follows the idea of "the third island is pretty shit". Seriously, not much happens in Alderney and it generally looks like a landfill fell on it too. Hopefully some of the downloadable content will make Alderney more interesting. If you don't believe me remember that in GTA III, Shoreside Vale was small and boring, even though it had an airport. You only went there to prove you've got that far in the game. Yeah, it had the airport, but you couldn't fly anything, so it doesn't matter. In Vice City, they realised how bad the third island was and decided to ditch it all together. In San Andreas the third island had an abandoned airfield, and only two casinos you could go in. You get the jetpack there too, but you only use it afterwards to collect the horse shoes on the roofs of casinos and hotels which thinly veiled the fact there was nothing actually interesting in Las Venturas.

I could keep ranting on aimlessly about your phone going off every few minutes because your friends want babysitting, but I seriously doubt that even saying that the pool mini game just as crap as in San Andreas only looking a bit better is worth mentioning. In fact, I strongly doubt there's anything a small time hobbyist reviewer like myself, of even the ballsy phenomenon that is Yahtzee Croshaw can say or write that'll make any difference to the sales figures for GTA IV. To put that comment into perspective, read up on the total perspective vortex. Something like that.

Friday 9 May 2008

Dead Rising

I know, I know! I promised you a GTA IV review this week, but the heat has been doing weird things to me, and I'm not ready to review it yet. I assure you all, the instant I am ready to do so, I'll put my review up, and I'm planning a video review on YouTube as a technical exercise. That smell? Oh, yeah, that's the smell of plagiarism - it's likely to be another Zero Punctuation rip-off video, if I manage it at all.

With that in mind, let's get cracking with my little stall. When the 360 first came out, I wasn't all that psyched about it because I was still having plenty of fun with my Xbox and the only games announced that interested me even in the slightest were Halo 3 and Fable 2. Seeing as Halo 3 was worryingly mediocre in relation to Call of Duty 4 but at least managed to bring back some of the spark lost in Halo 2; and Fable 2 being announced as being "definitely" out this year but we're in May and still no hint at when exactly that will be - getting back to my point, basically I didn't have any reason to buy a 360.

Well luckily, Capcom came up with the little gem that is Dead Rising which neatly caught my interest like a barbed hook shaped like a pair of breasts. I mean come on, this is a game where you're surrounded by zombies and you're free to kill them using anything that isn't nailed down. I didn't even care if it had a story, I could spend hours just walking around killing zombies with shopping trolleys and bass guitars etc. etc. But, I suppose as this is a review, I can't just keep talking about my obsession with killing zombies just because I was free to do so, rather than hide in a corner and soil myself.

And like a pair of car thieves stealing your shiny and pretentious BMW without checking the fuel gage before setting off on an uncharted joyride, I move onto the rest of the game mechanics to see how it holds up.

To say it was more or less "take one" in the wave of 360 games, you have to admit from any angle, it's remarkably handsome, especially considering your screen leases most of it's space to an impressive number of crumbly, pale simpletons. Somehow, it's an RPG from a very Japanese company but cleverly disguised as a western action game. Which is for the best, as my Lost Odyssey review mentioned, I'm no fan of JRPGs. That nicely leads me to the first bone I have to pick with Dead Rising though.

It's all well and good utilising "levelling up" in games, and when it does it on it's own without pestering you to drop what you're doing and spend a good few days working out which skill to
spend your new experience on - aside from being time consuming, it's inevitably futile because when you finally come back to the frigging game you're reminded that you weren't in an exactly favourable situation - but that said I don't think it's exactly fair having you play as the world's burliest journalist who happens to have all the physical prowess of a newborn calf. Then deciding said burly bloke is going to turn into Rocky (circa Rocky IV) over the space of 72 hours if you intend to advance at all only adds to weirdness and that lovely difficulty cur- no, wall.

Now, this is, was and forever will be the first thing anyone ever says/said/in going to say to me after they played Dead Rising for the first time. I can see where they're coming from, but the next thing they complain about only demonstrates their intelligence of lack therefore of. It's the save system. Somehow when I started out on it, I ran into a glitch and I thought that
was what everyone else was talking about. What I thought happened was if you save, it only works as a save for you to carry on with after you finish a session by your own accord, not by being killed. I thought this because when I played it first, I saved, got eaten by a large crowd, then got kicked to the title screen with all my progress lost aside from my level. So, I started the game again at level 5 and decided to beat this glitch by resetting my 360 every time the dying animation started.

I also accidentally figured out the easiest way in the world to get the "Unbreakable" achievement, much to the disgust of all my friends who'd been trying for months on end to get it and didn't even consider my method.

Back to the save system, people basically complain because they don't understand the point of saving your character stats and allowing you start a new story mode with it. Or something along those lines. What those fools didn't know was they could turn the difficulty wall into a small mound of upturned soil by playing the game trying to rescue people until they fail the story, then start again having learned some special moves and developed an immune system strong enough to cope with more than a slight winter breeze.

Look, I'm as d
isappointed I'm not writing a GTA IV review right now as you are, but I want to do it properly, and I've got a multiplayer game waiting for my next week, so I can give it a proper full run down.

You'd have to be completely blind not to realise that Dead Rising is a blatant rip off of Dawn of the Dead, but that's only a bad thing if your one of Capcom's lawyers. Since I first saw it, all I thought was "it'd be so cool if someone made a game like this where you could just kill zombies". Sadly, the result is that the story is one long excuse to drag you out of your comfort zone wherein you're dressing zombies up as Lego characters then skewering them with showerheads, and you're frequently sent off to hobble your fat ass to the other side of the shopping mall, for an inevitable boss fight. And for some reason, your standard katana is not only readily available
in Texan shopping malls, but also quite capable of providing 007 with more "split personality jokes" than one can sensibly fathom, yet pretty much useless in a fight against a healthy human being. For some reason katanas only seem to do about as much damage as peanut butter to people, but even that's a damn sight better than pretty much everything else.

Using no logic whatsoever, this takes me to a spoiler warning. I think that's adequate.

In standard mode, things go tits up after the 72 hour count down, unless you fuck things up beforehand, in which case you can get out fine and dandy. However, do things right and the end of the game goes off on an impressive tangent. From being barricaded in a shopping mall for your own protection, to a helicopter crashing into a clock revealing some really old sewers and finally a fist fight with Action Man: Mental Condition atop a remote control tank; you probably wouldn't have seen it coming. It's almost as if they got bored of pissing off George A. Romero, and decided to push their suicidal lawyers over the edge while they went on mashing up 80's action movies with Indiana Jones. As a matter of fact, I'm now certain that Capcom's HQ is an overly tall building with one side covered in the blood of lawyers. And zombies.

Even when you master Dead Rising, it still finds ways to be infuriatingly difficult. For a s
tart, there's an achievement for rescuing 50 survivors. 50 shitting survivors! Can Frank Burly West move fast enough to reach 50 survivors? There's another one for saving 8 woman at once. Aside from the obvious mental stress of having to save 8 hysterical woman when surrounded by zombies, it's frigging difficult to have even 4 followers before they start "accidentally" knifing each other and then getting trapped in the jaws of every single zombie between you and where you want to be.

The final, perfectly executed kick in the bollocks comes from the reward of unlocking in
finity mode. I must explain that this is the kind of kick in the bollocks you'd usually receive if you volunteered to help someone practise their kick boxing by holding up a plank of wood. It's and idea that will look really cool, but when you miss the mark, someone's going to be upset about it. As the name suggests, the clock doesn't count down 72 hours so you can wait to be picked up, but counts how long you can survive. Fine. If only they hadn't decided your health drains, forcing you to eat every 20 seconds. You could get away with that if only all the other survivors weren't trying to kill you.

I'd like to express my final irritation about Otis and his walkie talkie fetish, but I'm sure that you stumbled across at least 3 references to it on your way here.