Category Archives: Arcade
For the past week I have once again been immersed in to the beautiful destruction that is the war-torn planet of Sera. I’ve been roving with Delta squad, battling Lambent and Locust alike. Yes that’s right, like approximately 1.3 million other gamers around the world, I have been lost in Gears of War 3.
Now, let me be perfectly frank, and say the Gears series is without a shadow of doubt my favourite shooter series… ever… BAR NONE! And I don’t care if people disagree and say, “CoD is the better shooter, it actually takes skill to play” (I shit you not someone actually said that to me on launch day) because industry consensus is that CoD is a game for kids. It’s all good pointless fun and no challenge. But Gears is a game for adults. If you can hold your head up and say you’ve beaten the Gears games on insane people look at you with mixed awe and concern for your mental wellbeing (seriously, they’re a challenge. I’m playing insane on 3 now and yeesh… it’s tough).
The gameplay is more of the same from the franchise… which I actually like. If the mechanic of the game isn’t broke, don’t fix it. It is what it is, an epic sci-fi military war story with real emotional depth. My friend and cohort, Codename Valeforia, hasn’t played the first 2 games to any great degree, but I dragged him to the midnight launch where we got to play the improved Horde 2.0 for an hour before I handed over my credit slip and received my new shooter standard, because like it’s predecessor, Gears of War 2 (click to read that review in a new tab), it seriously does raise the bar for all shooters.
The story picks up some 2 years after the events of Gears 2 and things on Sera have gone from shit to worse for Delta Squad. Returning in their roles as professional soldiers are Marcus, Dom, Baird and Cole, but a few new faces now join them. First amongst them, and probably the most familiar, is Anya. She has been a recurring character throughout this trilogy but now she is no longer just a controller. Oh no, she’s a gear. And let me just say, she kicks ass… seriously. But she is not alone; joining Anya is Samantha Byrne, who is also amazingly kick ass.
Before I go on about the other new addition to the game, I’d like to just say that Epic have really, honestly, set an impossibly high standard for shooters with these additions. Never have I seen females in shooters that were playable who weren’t Lara Croft or Samus from Metroid. It really is an astounding addition and it opens up the series in a multitude of different ways and I have to wonder, if Karen Traviss hadn’t written the game, would they be there at all. Thank you Karen and Epic for showing what a vocal number of gamers have been saying for years… female characters actually work in storylines of war.
The next new guy in the roster is Jace. He’s cool, he’s funny (at times) he’s basically filler for when Carmine isn’t around (yes there is another Carmine). And for some reason I find myself getting so emotionally invested in the lives of the characters (this has only really happened before with Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed) that I actually found myself with tears in my eyes during one point of the game. If you’ve played then you’ll know what I mean, if you haven’t I’m not spoiling it… It’s too powerful. And it takes a lot to bring me to tears.
Visually, as always, Epic have pulled out all of the stops with their flagship, it’s a gorgeous world of massively destroyed proportions. The skybox and backgrounds feature fully animated smoke plumes and the light rays are beautiful. Yet inside all this beauty is a deeply disturbing sense of tension crafted into the build of the actual game, which comes from the suffering of the humans inherent in the storyline.
Again, like with the previous chapter of the trilogy, there have been innumerable little efforts from Epic in the finer details of the game. The armour, again, has numerous independent light sources, the detailing and personalisation of the characters’ colours is an intricacy that is so often washed over by shooter developers, namely Activision and Treyarch. During fire-fights, if your screen is of sufficient quality, you can watch new dings and scratches appear in the detailing of the weapons and armour.
Not only with the offline have there been many improvements, but also with the other gameplay modes. Horde, which others have copied, and quite frankly failed in emulating, is back with a vengeance. In the new Horde 2.0 you get rewarded with cashy money for each kill, assist and/or revival of a downed teammate and bonuses for wave completion. And with the cash come the improvements… purchasable, upgradable fortifications, turrets and decoys to draw the fire and slow the Locust… however they wouldn’t do this if they hadn’t also changed something else of the horde would they?
Now not only after every tenth wave does the difficulty increase BUT also on every tenth wave you have to face a “boss” Locust… i.e. a Brumak, a Lambent Zerker, a Corpser… this not only increases the challenge but actually makes the progression more satisfying… Kill a Brumak, difficulty goes up… feel a sense of accomplishment for doing it well.
However, as much as I love this game, and I really do, it can’t be said enough, it is not without it issues. Sometimes on coming out of a cut scene the textures take a few seconds to render. It can take a while to find a match, but that mostly due to the NAT settings of gamer’s Internet connections (if the NAT isn’t open it’s restrictive of players). I also feel it’s a little bit cheeky of them to charge so much for the weapon skins but the season pass for the big DLCs is a good idea so I suppose it balances out. The other problem isn’t Epic’s fault. It’s parents: there are 12 and 13 year olds playing this game, and it goes to show that a lot of parents still don’t understand about the age rating system of games. But that’s just me apparently thinking that 12/13 is a touch young for Gears (when it’s given an 18 overall).
This is the perfect conclusion to this story arc. It nicely wraps up the loose threads left from earlier in the series; it has a depth and story that is rare in anything other than RPG’s or novels. I recommend playing the games from the 2006 debut and giving the story the attention it so rightly deserves. Then once you’ve beaten the story, go out and prove yourself in the multiplayer modes. It’s not a game for everyone but if, like many others, you have grown tired of FPS titles like Cock of Dookie Call of Duty, Halo, Medal of Honor and so many others, then Gears 3 is the game for you. It really is a master class in quality shooter builds and I applaud the efforts of the team and I just need to say… Thank you Epic games for building a sci-fi military epic with emotional depth.
Happy Gaming and be careful you don’t end up swimming in glowy gravy,
(P.s. this is a shoe in for game of the year awards)
And first of all, allow me to sit here and be in awe of the quality of this game. It’s beautiful and I really mean this. This game is beautiful in a twisted metal, broken world kind of way. I am of course raving about the latest release from Valve, and follow up to the hit multi-award winning 2007 game Portal: that is of course the game that has been called, “one of 2011’s most interesting, challenging blockbusters”… Portal 2.
When I first considered this game I initially sighed in despair for I had not played the original. And then I was given access to a copy by my comrade in arms, Codename Valeforia. So I played it, and I fell in love with the gameplay. And when I was in the city selling a few dozen old games, and myself and my partner/editor got more store credit than we expected, I was drawn to Portal 2…
I got home, installed it on my Xbox 360, and whilst chatting to my friends on Live (d’ya hear that PSN users? Our network is still up and running and we can still play online securely! BOOM!) proceeded to wet myself laughing at the opening FMV. The addition of Stephen Merchant as the ickle bot Wheatley is a stroke of genius. The same vein of darkly sarcastic satirical humour dominates the script of the game, and when I wasn’t having fun with physics… blue portal down… orange portal right next to it and hop in…. weeeeeeeeeee hehehe, ahem anyway, when I wasn’t having fun with physics I was too busy needing a man nappy, from laughing, not anything else, to care.
Right, so anyway, now that I’ve extricated myself from the scale and the bottomless drop (which is actually insane fun because you keep gaining momentum until terminal velocity!) I got back to the ‘testing.’ Those of you who are awesome enough to have played the first game will fly through the first couple of hours because it’s very similar… but then there comes the gels… they make things interesting to say the least.
In the first game you were being persecuted by the insane, corrupted GLaDOS and you well… kill her. This time you aren’t persecuted by her as such… but she is a big player in this story. For those of you out there who are looking for a long single player experience, then this isn’t really the game for you. BUT if you are looking for a game that will work out your problem solving skills and get you thinking abstractly, then this is definitely the game for you.
Now, I concede normally I am the strongest advocate that a game should be of a decent length or it should go in the bin… well I’m about to eat my hat because this is a short game I thoroughly recommend. And why do I recommend it?… Well, oddly for me, for the multiplayer. It’s not just an online multiplayer experience; it is a local multiplayer also. And for this I called on Codename Valeforia and Codename Price for some mental exercises.
Now both of these guys are Portal Ninjas and I’ve been hammering the original so I was up with the mechanic, and factoring this in we ran through a lot of the tests pretty quickly… but there were some in which we sat back and thought “Well, fuck me with a fist, that’s tricky!” But despite us insulting each other jovially, and despite many times of murdering my friends just for the hell of it, we got through.
No other game franchise in the world has the gameplay of this franchise: the physics of the game are highly complex and of a quality that is very rarely seen in anything, let alone in a video game. The humour, as I mentioned earlier, is darkly intelligent to a point of almost being a bit morbid.
I know a lot of gamers will grow bored of this game because there no real violence in it, and yes I like violence as much as the next gamer, but I also like stimulating, puzzling, and good comedy: and this has both… in buckets.
For fans of the franchise I wouldn’t say it was as good as the original, but the original was never meant to be as good as it was. It was a stocking filler for the Orange Box that quickly became the best game of the year for 2007, and received pretty much unanimous critical acclaim. But despite it being short and not as good as the first, I thoroughly recommend this game.
I love it… and I mean that: I honestly love this game. In fact I would go as far as to say that this is the single best built puzzler I have played in the past 2 years. I fully recommend that if you want to think, go out and pick up a copy of this staggeringly well built game.
Happy gaming – and don’t forget that momentum is transferable!
Well here we go with Day 07 – Your favorite arcade game.
This day was actually really hard for me. I was sat thinking about it for a couple hours.
In my head I found myself replaying, in the confines of my mind, every single arcade game I have ever played.
When I first read the brief for the day I was instantly picturing a big warehouse floor, with retro machines from the 70′s and 80′s, which is not unreasonable, and I do love Pacman, Space Invaders, Frogger, Pong, Tetris and the like but I didn’t enjoy them as much as I enjoyed Peggle.
In fact I didn’t enjoy them as much as other modern arcade games such as Splosion Man, Plants vs. Zombies, Trials HD etc etc.
I love the colours, the levels, the challenges, the power ups, the big assed classical overture when you beat the level and above all… the randomness.
This game had a tag line of “Ready, Set… BOUNCE” and it really is that random. It’s a game of ballistic trajectory skill and pure chance!!!
I recommend this game to anyone… but beware it is insanely addictive!