Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Review

Title: Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareCall-of-Duty-Advanced-Warfare
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Distributor: Activision
Platforms: XBOX One, XBOX 360, PS4, PS3
Approximate Campaign Length: 8 hours

Pros:
-Frequent action scenes
-Beautiful visuals and audio quality
-Beneficial upgrades
-Great equipment, and an outstanding arsenal
-Kevin Spacey
-Kevin Spacey
-Kevin Spacey

Cons:
-Many similarities to previous titles
-Conclusion falls short

More Entertaining Than:
Haze

Less Entertaining Than:
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

Verdict: 8 (out of 10)

The following thoughts are based on my experiences playing the XBOX One version of the game.

Arguably, Call of Duty is a franchise that continues to provide an endless source of entertainment. After 13 years and 11 games, has the oil well that was tapped to produce these iconic games begun to dry up? By the end of Advanced Warfare, the answer is of course, no, but even with that said, there was so much more that could have happened to make this title more impressive, and there could have been so much less devotion to the previous entries to make it stand out more on its own.

Advanced Warfare begins in 2055, and Atlas, a private military, yields an impressive collection of technological sophistication and weaponry, that no enemy could ever dare triumph. At the helm of this militarily force is Jonathon Irons (voiced by Kevin Spacey (squeal!)), a man whose ambition is outmatched, with countries frequently turning to him for aid, rather than the United States. The character the player portrays is one Jack Mitchell, a Marine, deployed along with his friend, William Irons (Jonathon’s son), and a wealth of other brave serviceman, to enter South Korea and put an end to the North’s attempt at seizing full control.

Despite the success of the mission, Mitchell loses a lot in the concluding battle, including his left arm, but a chance meeting with Jonathon Irons gives him access to a second chance; not only a new arm, but a new opportunity to continue being a hero in the military. Besides Irons, there are a host of other great characters you meet, including Cormack, a dedicated, powerful, combat hardened marine; Gideon, a worthy companion in a fight, with a preference for destruction, and the beautiful Ilona – but don’t let her looks fool you – she’s harder than nails, with an unflinching resolve and impressive fighting skills.

The antagonist you face is Hades, the code name of a terrorist who believes technology has corrupted the planet. Appointing himself the savoir of the people, he is convinced that technology’s desolation will lead to freedom, the ends justifying the means, even when those means are diabolical. Alongside this grave threat, there are still questions that need answers; what is Sentinel? And what’s more – when you hand over the keys of the world to one super power, are you exchanging freedom, for a cage?

Over the course of the game, depending on the Exo (skeleton) you are wearing, the player will have access to several unique abilities. You can deploy a drone (and wreck havoc from the air), activate a shield, use a stim (boost) to replenish health, use mag gloves to crawl along walls, fire a grapple (hook) to quickly move from one location to another (this is incredibly fun, especially when you used on unsuspecting enemies), or activate overdrive. For those who have played Mass Effect, do you remember Adrenaline? Same thing applies, Overdrive makes everything move slower, allowing you to adeptly take out enemies.

Alongside these tactical benefits, the rig itself can come equipped with the ability to leap great distances into the air, hover over an area, or even cause massive melee damage. You can get up close and punch someone’s lights out, or you can jump into the air, and come crashing down with enough force to knock opponents out of the way.

When it comes to grenades, you can lob either the tactical variety, which include an EMP, a flash-bang, or a new addition, which detects threats by painting their locations, causing them to brightly stand out. On the other hand, you can use the lethal kind, which include the always useful frag, or the new smart grenade, which will fly in whatever direction your cross-hair is aimed towards.

When it comes to the weapons at your disposal, despite several decades separating our time from Atlas’s, carbines, assault rifles and shotguns often react in similar ways, regardless of how attractive some of them may appear. On the other hand though, there are a couple of new additions that really deserve mentioning. The stinger Missile, is now capable of deploying several rockets at once, dealing greater damage than before. The sniper rifle feels like a hand-held rail cannon, launching a turquoise round at impeccable speed towards the target. But the best weapon, would have to be the self-regenerating laser. You only have access to this gorgeous creature a couple of times during the game – but she never disappoints.

At the end of each level moreover, your kill count, the number of head-shots, grenade kills and intelligence received are calculated, and if you prove yourself to be a valuable asset by acquiring each levels prerequisite, you receive a certain number of points, which can then be spent on obtaining some of the 22 upgrades. These include more health and a larger grenade capacity, increased speed, reduced recoil, resistance to explosions, or more energy for your exo-skeleton, among others, some of which need to be unlocked as your progress.

Although these entertaining additions to your arsenal makes the game all the more immersive, what is really impressive is the quality. The graphics are a step-up from Ghosts, with environments appearing and feeling so very real. Smoke wafts across the battlefield, as rich fires burn. Debris flies through the air, trampling across the man-made structures. Sparks erupt as bullets slam and ricochet off environmental objects. But what is most immersive, is the sound quality. The ground squelches beneath your feet after having rained. Glass creaks, and you shudder for a moment, wondering if someone heard the noise. Gun fire and explosions are hurled around you, as though possessed by extraordinary digital quality.

All of these combined come together to effectively ground characters into their environments. One particular highlight is Detroit, when a fuse blows, and for a moment you think you’re under attack, before you and Gideon alike share a smile, glad it was a false alarm. In the same level, you patrol dark hallways, constantly encountering threats, and upon turning a corner, quickly rush for the trigger at the sight of an opponent, only to realize it was a mannequin all along.

There are other impressive moments, which include running across the road that perhaps inspired AC/DC to write Highway to Hell, for not one of the drivers has a problem with running you down. On another occasion, you traverse through a frozen cavern. The walls close in around you and icicles hang on the ceiling. The Earth rumbles, and you wonder for a second if an icicle might fall and impale you in this unexplored paradise, as your team discuss how the cold is almost unbearable. There is another moment, when you must jump from one bus to another, and let’s not forget the hectic highway chase, with an awesomely powerful cannon mounted on top of your vehicle, or the moment you run along rooftops, which may remind some people of Gordon Freeman, at the beginning of Half-Life 2. Furthermore, the penultimate fight scenes will surely be remembered by all who play this game, however, as with all positive comments, there is almost always a ‘but’, and Advanced Warfare is no exception.

Despite the entertaining arsenal, and the amazing moments you encounter, and there are a great many of them, a number of the environments are very similar to previous Call of Duty games. Cities, slums, military facilities, secret bases, environments entombed in ice, highways, ships; sometimes you may find yourself wondering – have I done this before? If not in this game, then certainly elsewhere, for that is Advanced Warfare’s fatal flaw. COD Ghosts allowed the player to fight, not only in the depths of the ocean, alongside aggressive sharks, but in outer space, taking the player to areas never before explored in the franchise. Advanced Warfare never seizes this same opportunity.

Despite having a new developer taking charge of the game’s directionality, it still retains the same feel Call of Duty has in the past, and though this should not be viewed as a criticism, Sledgehammer Games had an opportunity to experiment even more with this particular title, and yet, have deviated little from former games. Even some of the technological gadgets have been ripped straight from Black Ops 2 or Ghosts. Due to this, it occasionally has that ‘same old, same old’ feeling, or perhaps even ‘been there, done that’, which may also be why the storyline often felt very predictable. If the deja vu is not enough, the ending is no where near conclusive, and if anything, after so many ordeals, and the loss of so many innocent lives, one might expect something more rewarding than what you eventually receive.

You are left with so many questions, characters and their relationships that were never truly fleshed out, and several moments in the game that fail to make comprehensive sense because of the lacking answers. In conclusion, Advanced Warfare’s campaign is destined to provide you with a wealth of action scenes and enjoyable moments. If you are a die-hard fan, you will surely not be disappointed. If however, last year’s Ghosts left you feeling as though it was awfully similar to previous titles in the franchise, don’t be surprised if that exact feeling begins to resurface yet again.

Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed Review

Developer: Acquire
Distributor: NIS
Platform: PS3, PS Vista
Release Date (Australia): 16th October, 2014

Pros:
-Lovable characters
-Witty, humorous dialogue
-Outstanding soundtrack
-Gorgeous cinematics
-Uniquely fun and original

Cons:
-Awkward camera movements
-Outdated in-game graphics
-Frequent loading screens
-Unfair combat scenarios
-Difficult fight mechanics

Verdict: 9.5 (out of 10)

For over ten years, I have been a fan of Anime films and television programs, but until now I have not attempted to become involved in an anime video game. Perhaps some may question why my first foray into anime gaming would be Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, however, the originality of the product, not to mention its attractive atmosphere, gorgeous female warriors and hilariously witty and intelligent dialogue, is sure to captivate a vast quantity of people. Right from the opening, the game feels a lot like an Anime television series, with a beautiful introductory movie clip introducing each of the major characters, while an entertaining musical score and impressive vocal talent delightfully peaks your interest at what awaits you on your journey.

The graphics of the cinematics however do not last. Although cinematics play a large role in the game, which is an incredibly loquacious piece of fiction, they are an alternate variety than what you may have come to expect from other titles. The game itself fades out into the background as the characters are displayed in front of you. Only their eyes and mouth move, and their faces employ a wide array of emotion, conveying embarrassment, happiness, grief or anger, with their dialogue textually appearing beneath them. After these occurrences, the game returns to normal, the graphics experienced during the exploration and fight scenes being rather dull in contrast with games today, the eyes of the characters especially, when visible, appearing rather alien and lifeless. Despite the graininess of the image, it does retain a great depth of brightness and vibrant beauty, although the fact the game was originally released in Japan a year ago clearly illustrates that by today’s standards, it is unable to compete with the flare that games are displaying now on the new consoles.

When walking down the street, despite the comic style setting, you cannot deny the feeling of reality which coats the world around you as you explore and take in the sights. This however comes with its own limitation. Unlike in FarCry 2 and 3, where the entire world was explorable, and very rarely did you even see a loading screen, in Akiba’s Trip, you frequently bump into areas which require loading (you also bump into a lot of people too, but that’s a different story). The city is separated into districts, and each one requires a short period to load before you can gain access. This can be somewhat avoided with the use of fast travel, however, as with many titles, these areas need to be initially unlocked.

Set in the technologically profound, and entertainingly captivating location of Akihabara, Akiba’s Trip is one of those titles that falls into the love or hate category. It also requires the gamer not to ask many questions, for even suspending your disbelief over the course of the game will potentially leave you with a variety of queries. Providing a unique take on the vampire genre, Akiba’s Trip, rather than conceiving the normally unsettling atmosphere one might assume for a game in this genre, throws you into a world which is always bright and sunny.Referred to as ‘synthisters’, the man made vampires you encounter, rather than consuming blood, devour energy, and how they were made, and for what reason, alongside how they can be possibly stopped, are three of the major plot points which push the game forward. Moreover, rather than the stereotypical stakes and garlic one might expect to find attached to our company of ‘freedom fighters’, sunlight is the primary weapon of choice, and apparently, the best way to stop a vampire’s rampage, is to strip them down to either their panties, or their tighty whitey’s, and watch the exposure to the sun obliterate them.

When battling agaisnt an enemy, often they come equipped with head gear, a top, and bottoms, each piece of their attire having to take substantial damage, before it is capable of being ripped clean off. If several enemies have weakened attires, the player is able to chain strip, meaning, by following the key prompts, the character can automatically strip several pieces of clothing one after another, rendering the enemy less problematic. The way in which clothing is entertainingly removed can be altered by applying different combat skills to your person, which can be obtained from reading material. The best possible comparison I can think of is The Matrix, where knowledge on fighting is uploaded to the character’s minds. Additionally, you are, later in the campaign, able to activate special combat styles after attaining enough juice from battle, which deals extreme damage to enemies, and often reverberates onto others in the immediate vicinity. How a vampire can run around without a top and suffer no excruciating pain from the sunlight is beyond me though. How the bodies of the attackers are not damaged by the excessive blows they take, or how exactly the clothes can be removed in the fashion that they are, all very interesting questions that come equipped with no answers. Like I said; this is a game that you are meant to enjoy, rather than consistently analyze.

Fighting during the game is very basic, with each attack connected to a single key on your controller. To attack head gear, press the triangle; for the torso, use the circle, and for anything beneath the belt, use the ‘x’. However, what makes combat an unnecessary challenge, are the camera angels. Although you can personally pivot the camera anywhere you want, during combat this becomes a nuisance, when your primary focus is the deterioration of your enemy’s attire. On more than one occasion, the enemy fell out of the frame, and I was unable to see how much damage, if any, I was inflicting. On top of this, if you happen to begin moving out of a general area, say, into a side street, off the beaten track, the position of the camera will become similar to a bird’s eye view, something which cannot be manually altered unless you move out of the immediate area. Additionally, battle mechanics in general can appear rather difficult, and although the controls are easy to master, employing them appropriately is a different struggle altogether. On countless occasions, when attempting to confront one particular enemy, the character instead attacked another. It would have been an idea to have a way to aim your attacks at a specific target. Instead, over the course of the game, you inevitably, inadvertently, attack, on occasion, complete strangers. This happened a number of times to me whilst patrolling the streets, in which I accidentally happened to find himself in a fist fight with an officer of the law, rather than an enemy synthister, an act which subsequently led to my arrest.

Combat in general is already made quite challenging by the fact that rarely is there only one opponent you face down, with often, anywhere between four and eight plus assailants getting in your way. Although you usually enter a fight with an NPC (non-playable character (for the uninitiated)) beside you, even the assistance they provide is unable to quell the steady advance of the opposition, who appear to, on many an occasion, be equipped with better equipment than you. Moreover, during combat, you are unable to alter what weapons or clothes you happen to have on your person, but you are able to repair your attire at the press of a button to replenish all that was lost to damage. However, this slow process always leaves you vulnerable. Although some could argue this is equal to a healthy challenge, there is a point when a challenging scenario becomes intolerably unfair, and appears to be a developer’s way of making a game last for a greater period of longevity than it would without the frequently overbearing battles.

Attempting to thwart the threat of the synthisters however occasionally seems to be not as pertinent as building relationships. During the game, you portray Nanashi, and rather than being the quintessential hero one may expect, he is rather, a geek, unfortunate enough to be transformed into a synthister. He, along with his friends, who form the Akiba Freedom Fighters, their base of operations held at the gaming venue MOGRA, take it upon themselves to try and save the city. Although the player’s name can be altered, and during conversation, when subtitles appear, the other characters refer to you as the name you provide yourself, the physicality, and features of Nanashi cannot be changed, which I found a little restrictive. If it is any conciliation however, your character is able to frequently alter their chosen attire.

Over the course of the game, there are a number of (gorgeous) female characters, including the mysterious Shizuku, the multi-talented Rin, the athletic Tohko, the well presented Shion, and the foreign Kati, either of whom your character is able to form a romantic attachment with, as long as you don’t stuff up. In Mass Effect, it was mandatory to have conversations with people you wished to romance, and a similar, albeit, more difficult concept is applied here. Rather than alerting you with what is possibly the best response when prompted to say one of three possible sentences, the game challenges you to realize which statement or answer would best attract the woman you are attempting to woo.

The dialogue options the game provides to you are not necessarily separated into good or bad, but often have varying degrees of sarcasm or sexual innuendo attached, and it is up to you to decide how you want to be viewed. In Mass Effect, the most positive comment was always located at the top, while the most bad ass were at the bottom. Such a technique is not applied here, with options always been randomized in their location. Occasionally you can appear humble, violent, or even laid back, but again, many a response comes equipped with its own pros and cons. Luckily, the game does assist you in tallying how well your rapport is with each available woman. By communicating with Yuto, a young man who considers himself an expert on the female psyche, he notifies you where each woman stands, and appears only too happy to admit when they feel nothing at all – sick bastard!

At times I felt constrained by the often lacking opportunity to speak, and I occasionally wished to be granted the option of retaliating agaisnt attacks directed towards my character. This was especially true with regards to the character Kaito, who not only had sarcastic quips to make about my efforts, but was trying to move in on my territory and steal my Shizuku! That dirty mongrel! I hiss inappropriately in his direction!

On the other hand, there was something undeniably poetic about much of the dialogue, for not only Nanashi and the other freedom fighters, but for the enemy as well, with a beauty that swept you up in the motivations and passions of the characters. At times, even the player could not help but relate, and understand the reasoning behind antagonist’s decisions, which not only made them enjoyable as bad guys, but an interesting contrast to the heroes.

One of the best characters however had to be Nana, Nanashi’s ‘adorable little sister’ as she called herself, who, apart from having some of the best witty punch lines and responses, was also capable of advantageously crafting new material. Been able to splice together several garments to create a more durable outfit, or even merge a number of ‘weapons’ to make them more efficient in combat. The fact there was no limit to how many items could be merged into one, ensured these upgrades could immeasurably assist in making your character’s offensive abilities more powerful, and their resilience to attacks exceptionally impressive. On a side note, notice the quotations around weapons? Well, the equipment you offensively use to smite your enemies in Akiba’s Trip are not the stereotypical variety one may be used to seeing. Although there is a collection of boxing gloves, balls, bats, swords, sticks and umbrellas to choose from, there are also brooms, guitars, posters, monitors and laptops, with basic home made appliances and everyday utensils been customized for combat. Depending on the size and shape of the weaponry will also weigh heavily on how your maneuverability is affected in combat.

Unlike in other games, upon finding a new dress or weapon, you can instantly fix it to your person without having to worry about the level you are on. Taking part in the main quest is only able to progress you so far, and it is during the side quests and the battle arena, that the player is able to acquire better equipment. Side jobs, including hunting down synthisters, communing with everyday citizens, and helping people with basic dilemmas, not only provides you with money, and a degree of popularity amongst the locals, but almost always results in some kind of fight that allows you an opportunity to find equipment. The same goes for the battle arena, and as you progress forward, you are able to fight stronger opposition. If finding items becomes a little strenuous, you can simply buy something from one of the many stores, however the prices do seem a little exorbitant, although as I live in a country where we use ‘dollars’, I’m unsure how much the ‘yen’ is actually worth in contrast.

Annoyingly enough though, side quests come equipped with a time limit, and you are only made aware of this by checking on social media. During game, you are provided with an e-mail account, which people use to contact you, and a Pitter profile, that allows you to keep up to date with public opinion. The level of detail which has been applied to the social media spectrum of the game is amazing, with there been a huge abundance of Plips, each one feeling as though it could have easily been written by a real world individual. On top of this, Akiba’s Trip makes use of apps, with one such nifty gadget you are provided having the capacity to tell who is a synthister. By taking a picture with your camera, you are able to tell the fake people from the real, and attack the enemy on site, wherever they may hide.

Moving on, the game’s ending happens to arrive very fast, so much so, it is almost unexpected. One second you are attempting to decipher how you might thwart the enemy, and the next, you are in the midst of the final boss encounter, striving to secure a resolution. In a game running for ten plus hours, the conclusion seems to settle out of nowhere after experiencing a storyline which seemed to indicate it would build to something considerably longer. This however is not a criticism, the ending maintaining the same consistent feel as the rest of the product, and unlike many American games, does not leave you up in the air, but ends conclusively, although I might recommend you invest in a box of tissues. Once the game has been finished, a wealth of benefits are unlocked, which resolve a number of the quandaries that some gamers (myself included) may have had with the original play through. If anything though, it is sad to say goodbye to the characters, who were excellently and wholeheartedly conceived. But like any good friend, the characters never truly leave, and at the insert of a disc, they will gratefully return.

Akiba’s Trip is a uniquely fun experience, and although some could refer to it as a perverted storyline, the unyielding humor consistently reminds you not to take yourself too seriously when embarking on this adventure. Moreover, despite been occasionally predictable, and although revisiting the same locations, and fighting in similar areas can become repetitive, the wealth of options at your disposal regarding what weapon you could use makes almost every encounter different. Additionally, the option of choosing which NPC to accompany you (something which is occasionally provided) allows you to not only experiment with who is the most physically adept team member, but grants you the opportunity to potentially get even closer to the Goddess you are trying to ensnare. If you are looking for a fun, comedic adventure, with little emphasis on explanation and contemporary issues, and a strong emphasis on romance and butt kicking, look no further than Akiba’s Trip, which is sure to quench your appetite for all things crazy and unreal.

The Most Difficult Murder to Solve is Your Own in the New Square Enix Thriller, Murdered: Soul Suspect

Title: Murdered: Soul SuspectMurdered_Soul_Suspect_Artwork_Logo
Developer: Air Tight Games
Distributor: Square Enix
Platforms: XBOX 360, XBOX ONE,
PS3, PS4, PC
Rating (out of Ten): 9

More Entertaining Than: Condemned: Criminal Origins

Less Entertaining Than: Beyond: Two Souls

Duration: 6-7 Hours (not including completion of all
secondary objectives)

 

 

If you are interested in a violent shoot ‘em up, filled with outrageous explosions, I recommend you avoid this title. If however, you are interested in a character and story oriented drama (the game is quite similar to the 2013 PS3 title Beyond: Two Souls, and if you enjoyed that, it is more than likely you will enjoy this too), I would recommend you look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect.
At its core, Murdered is a love story, about Ronan, a detective with a criminal past, who, in order to be reunited with his wife, Julia, on the other side after he is violently killed, must solve his murder, in order to move on. On top of this, Murdered is a dramatic paranormal thriller, which has features reminiscent of adventure games.

The game begins with Ronan’s murder; an over the top death at the hands of the notoriously antagonistic murderer; the Bell Killer (aptly named for the bell symbol left at the site of all his murders); a man Ronan had been investigating prior to his death. The Bell Killer is responsible for putting a number of Salem’s residents into the ground, the roots of these murders dating back into the region’s history. There are still more victims on the Bell Killer’s list, and Ronan must bring this ritualistic killer to justice.

Stuck in a purgatorial realm, Ronan must travel from one scene to the next in order to uncover the truth. As a character, Ronan comes off as a rather tough as nails detective, his criminal past often being revealed in flashbacks as the player discovers memories located across the city. This potential darkness is counteracted with Julia’s thoughts of him, which are additionally found scattered across the environment. Although these thoughts are written down, and thus need to be read by the gamer, the actress who voices her, and the words themselves, are both as equally powerful at revealing a beautiful romance. This is not told in contemporary order, and as Ronan travels from one location to the next, he discovers memories of his past, and that of Julia’s, which shape his character into a man with a hard exterior, but an incredibly warm heart.

This is strengthened also with the opinions of his brother in law, Rex, a fellow detective investigating the Bell Killer, who is grieving the loss of his best friend, his opinion of Ronan being rather contradictive; although he loved Ronan like a brother, he is worried about his criminal past, something that officer Baxter is not. To say he loathes Ronan would be an understatement, believing that he represents everything a police officer should not.

Not long into the game, Ronan meets Joy, the daughter of a medium who has additionally acquired the gift, however, unlike her mother who assists the police during investigations (including the Bell Killer), Joy is apprehensive about communing with the deceased, wishing instead to have a normal life. With her mother missing, and she been the only living person who can actually see Ronan, the two form an awkward partnership, as the two become better acquainted with one another over the course of the game.

Set in the town of Salem, which has a long history of war, pestilence, and a wealth of other colourful occurrences (which can be found by visiting locations and exploring the environment), the game is a very open world, where the player is able to either freely explore, or head straight towards the next objective, which is always marked with a waypoint. On the subject of the town, I found it strange that 95% of the residents were Caucasian, and although the town comes attached with its own history and culture, the lack of other cultural backgrounds and ethnicities seemed mightily peculiar. Though this does not affect the game, it does fail to contribute a further sense of realism to the environment the gamer temporarily inhabits.

The purgatorial realm of Salem is a mixture of real world environments, and ghostly effigies. These residual spectral visages are strangely corporeal, and cannot be passed through. A benefit of the game is that Ronan is able to pass through almost any structure; how many times in other games have you become stuck on an object? This annoyance is almost non-existent in Murdered. Ronan is unable to pass through buildings that are locked, however, once inside, either through a partially opened door or window, movement is fairly unrestricted, with the exception of aforementioned objects linked to the deaths of others. These however can often be navigated around, and if not by walking, then by using ghostly portals. These residual shadows are tied directly to the existences of ghosts, and can be jumped to and from. Later, when Ronan discovers the ability to teleport, this additionally serves in getting around solid objects or other like obstructions.

Moving on, when travelling towards a destination, Ronan bumps into literally dozens of other ghosts, who can either be conversed with, or ignored. Furthermore, near every major mission location is a ghost in need of assistance regarding a side quest. These often involve a poor soul who is trapped in this purgatory through either regret, or from not knowing about their death, which can include all manner of people; from a young woman who believes her ex-paramour cheated on her, to a man who believes himself responsible for the car crash that killed his friends. Around these ghosts are fragments that can help provide answers, from pieces of the past that can be reformed to tell a portion of their story, to living people, who can be possessed.

When possessing a living character, Ronan can influence them to think about a certain topic or theme, which provides him with valuable information; he can additionally read their mind, or listen in on conversations. Unlike in last year’s Remember Me, in which the character Nilin’s abilities are rarely used, in Murdered, Ronan is frequently using his powers, either pro bono for the benefit of others, or to assist in finding his killer. Although no justice can be bestowed upon the dead who were murdered, the fact their deaths have been resolved and they discover that any guilt they feel is unnecessary, their movement from this world and into the next, provides the player with a certain satisfaction.

Major quests offer a similarity, with the exception that they are on a much larger scale. These locations range from a church to a graveyard; a police station (which strangely enough has a lot of Just Cause posters) to an asylum, each coming attached with its own historical significance to the region. After exploring the area, gamers are able to locate their objective, and scour around for clues, piecing things together from the environment, before enlisting the assistance of living people, who, once possessed, can help provide a consensus on the topic at hand with their own thoughts, memories, or even their eyes, which you sometimes have the option of looking through. On that note though, some clues are unable to be found unless Ronan interacts with the environment. Turning on equipment (or as the game calls it, being a poltergeist), like a fan to blow pieces of paper around, may reveal photos and other documents that were initially invisible beneath layers of other pages.

On occasion, Ronan is forced to visit the same region twice, and even when this does occur, the environment loses none of its atmosphere, the sheer gruesomeness of the murders, and the conversations which take place during these ‘missions’, offering a source of unstoppable intrigue. The issue however when exploring these major areas, is that almost each of these locations are often infested with demons.

These demonic creatures come in two flavours; the kind that hover about like ghouls in a particular territory, which they have carved out as their own, or as large, bright red puddles on the floor, and drag you in when you step into proximity (similar to the floor creatures in F.E.A.R: Perseus Mandate). Although these demons can temporarily be avoided, more often than not, confrontations inevitably ensue, however, unlike Condemned: Criminal Origins, where you beat up your enemies with whatever piece of equipment you come upon, these demons require more nous and tactical proficiency. By possessing people (and on occasion a gorgeous kitty), gamers can make their way around areas, and this is additionally possible by using those ghostly portals mentioned earlier. When in close proximity to a demon, Ronan can execute them (only ever from behind) with a combination of keys that are frequently different. After successfully dispatching one (there is unfortunately often more in any area), the gamer can hide again, and then move on to attacking the next. On a side note, the occasional existence of deceased crow can offer the player a distraction, with demons charging at them the moment Ronan requests that they provide a raucous ‘kaw!’

The graphics of Murdered are powered by the Unreal engine. In the past I have occasionally being sceptical of this particular engine, with some games (I’m looking at you Singularity) occasionally not cutting the mustard when it comes to how it looks. The game is set over the course of the night, the streets becoming darker and slightly emptier as you progress. This darkness often follows the player into the levels, and can provide a rather drab colour swatch, with a vast quantity of darkness merging together. With this said, there is just as much light as there is dark, with the locations you visit all looking and feeling very realistic, with a combination of old and new fighting visually for dominance.

This being said, the graphics are perhaps not outstandingly brilliant (considering that I was playing this on the XBOX ONE), however, at the same time they are really nice to watch. Never is there a part of the environment that looks as though it needs further rendering. With the exception of images, and some portions of text, the game felt and looked like an actual town, and although many ghosts had particularly smooth features, the living cast members, Joy in particular, looked very lively. Her face, with a number of freckles and a couple of moles, along with the jewellery that she decorated herself with, gave to her a unique sense of character.

On a further side note, the controls during the game are incredibly easy to learn, and after roughly 10, maybe 15 minutes, the gamer will have efficaciously adapted, and they will simply become reflex actions.

The conclusion, which seems to come racing towards the gamer faster than I may have initially imagined when beginning Murdered, is about as predictable as it is surprising. When I was almost 90 minutes away from the conclusion, I had already begun to postulate theories on who the killer might be, and although some of my assertions were accurate, there was much I did not count on, and was at the same time thoroughly surprised with the final revelations. Although the conclusion does successfully offer closure to all of the storylines that are written into Murdered, at the same time the gamer (or maybe this is just in my case?) is left with a slight remaining thirst. On this note, despite a slight degree of disappointment at the length of the primary storyline, I have not being so captivated by a title since Beyond: Two Souls, and will happily play Murdered again in the future.

Image obtained from the following link:

 

Going Beyond the Beyonds with Quantic Dream’s new emotionally charged thriller

Title: Beyond Two Soulsimages
Developer: Quantic Dream
Distributor: Sony
Platform: PS3

Length: Between 12 – 15 hours

Pros:
-Amazing storyline
-Emotionally powerful
-Dramatically thrilling
-Outstanding graphics
-Brilliant choice options

Cons:
-Occasionally difficult controls
-Awkward fighting scenes

Beyond Two Souls is a masterpiece just waiting to be explored. Every moment of this journey is a well scripted, gorgeously detailed combination of video gaming genius and cinematic enjoyment. In fact, to call Beyond Two Souls a ‘masterpiece’ is perhaps an outright lie, for it is far more impressive than that. Having never played Heavy Rain, I had never actually partaken in a game which is less of a game, and more of a cinematic experience, which is exactly what Quantic Dream’s new title is all about; making the player a part of an interactive movie. In this sense, the player is responsible for all of the choices, and are forced to live with the repercussions, the emotions and the challenges that come with them as you shape the life of the protagonist, Jodie, all of this making the game even more emotionally potent as you continue through the course of her unfathomably unique life.

The game is not orchestrated in chronological order like many video games, and instead crosses from one moment of the character Jodie’s life to another, and although one may initially think this to be both convoluted and difficult to keep up with, this is one of the unique elements which makes the game so appealing. Say, the player goes through a moment in Jodie’s life when she is eighteen and there is mention of something that happened earlier; originally, the player will have no knowledge of this, which shall spark an assortment of questions, which will later be answered when the game travels back to this specific time, hence keeping the player intrigued and on their toes.

Jodie is an incredibly well rounded character, and where many women in video games are reduced to sex symbols with very little opinion of their own, Jodie is the exact opposite. She is almost always in a vast amount of clothing; she becomes emotional when horrific occurrences transpire in her life; she is anxious around strangers and slow to trust; she becomes envious of the opinions of others; spiteful of those who attempt to do her wrong, and has the want to be morally good. Jodie seems like a real, flesh and blood woman, and the acting of Ms. Ellen Page is beyond extraordinary in bringing this amazing character to life, which assisted me in caring not only about the game, but especially for her brilliant character.

Not only is Jodie gorgeous, but she is strong, in both mind and body, independent, romantic, adventurous and very capable. What sets her apart the most from other characters is her connection to Aidan, a ghostly aspiration who has been tied to her for as long as she could remember by an invisible tether. Aidan goes where Jodie goes, and over the course of the game it is questioned as to who really is the dominating figure in this obscure relationship.

The other pivotal character in the game is Nathan, who is a doctor that looks after Jodie for most of her life. Voiced by Mr. William Dafoe, much like Ms. Page, Mr. Dafoe’s acting is exemplary, and he helps bring his character to life on so many levels; as not just a professional individual, but on a brilliantly developed emotional level as well, and although Jodie is the primary character fixated upon, Nathan’s character and the pain he has been through is fabulously represented in Mr. Dafoe’s voice.

On top of this, the acting of all actors involved in developing their characters is just as outstanding, and goes to show that the talent must have been as passionate about the game as the developers were.

Moving on, at any moment in the game, the player can enter the view point of Aidan by hitting the green triangular button, and can then survey the world through Aidan’s eyes. Not only can Aidan see things that other people cannot, but he can travel through walls, interact with the world through telekinetic abilities, he can choke the life out of unsuspecting enemies, and he can possess certain characters and make them do all manner of things. Of course, there is only a certain distance that he is allowed to travel, for the tether that binds him to Jodie acts like a leash, and thus, it has a limited range.

While the player controls Aidan, at times, Jodie can provide him with advice, or tell him not to bother her or to halter his actions entirely, and the player has the option of doing what they are told, or doing the exact opposite. This can lead to quite nefarious occurrences, and the repercussions often affect the life of Jodie herself; you can, at one moment, ruin a date she is on, which will emotionally demolish her, and leave the player, well, me at least, feeling incredibly crappy with myself.

Unlike in other games, the likes of Brute Force, Fuse or Remember Me, where characters are bestowed with special powers and abilities which are unnecessary for the player to successfully complete the game, each of the mentioned titles predominately turning into shoot ’em ups, or, in the case of Remember Me, a continuous punching match, in Beyond Two Souls, Aidan’s ghostly abilities are a necessity in every single level. You may need to open a locked door; distract a guard; navigate an area filled with hostiles; knock items out of the way; the number of possibilities are endless.

Not everything goes according to plan all the time though, but the game will compensate for this. There was a moment in the game when Jodie wanted to leave her accommodations and go out, even though she had been told repeatedly that such was against the rules. However, being the bad boy that I am (to this day I still refuse to eat my broccoli), I helped Jodie by using Aidan to sneak her out of the building, but was unfortunately caught during the process; brilliant escape artist I apparently am not. Instead of bringing up a ‘mission failed’ sign though, the game continued, with Jodie being lectured to about her actions and how everything could have gone hopelessly wrong.

There are a vast number of moments in the game when, if Jodie does not do something properly, the game will continue regardless down an alternate path which will still, inevitably, lead to the intended conclusion. At one point, Jodie was captured by the enemy, and instead of being killed, the cavalry eventually manage to mount a rescue before anything went terribly wrong.

One of the reasons why things may on occasion go wrong, could very well be the controls. Now, I admit, I am more of an XBOX 360 kind of guy myself, and when the PS4 comes out I will not be rushing out to my local game retailer to procure a copy; what I am saying is that perhaps my lack of experience with the PS3 controller partially lead to my downfall on a couple of occasions. When it comes to Aidan interacting with the environment, the player will, more often than not, pull back on the left and right thumb sticks for something to happen, and additionally need to move them in a certain direction. Depending on the occasion, this may include moving an object, healing either Jodie or another character, or even physically moving the memories of an object or a deceased individual into Jodie’s mind so she can glimpse what they witnessed. Some of these occurrences can be downright annoying, for not only does the player have to fight the awkward controls into the right position, but then has to maintain them in that same position for a set duration of time for anything to happen. On occasion, there is a time limit, and if the player fails, then the game will simply take over.

On that note, the game will on many an occasion do everything for the player, including fighting. Fighting in general is another issue with the game; the camera is often in a difficult location as it follows Jodie and will constantly change from being on her back to being on her front. Additionally, in most games, the player needs to pay particular attention to enemy combatants to see what attacks they are doing so the player may avoid them; in the case of Beyond Two Souls, the player needs to keep their eyes predominantly on Jodie. Depending on the direction Jodie moves in, the player moves the camera stick in that particular direction for Jodie to successfully attack or block, and if she fails, this does not result in her demise, for the game will eventually have Jodie beat her opponent regardless of the outcome when the player was at the helm. Safe to say there was more than one occasion when the game saved my sorry ass, however, there were other times when even I managed to surprise myself by helping Jodie kick ass and take names with ease.

This is adjunctively made easier by the fact that the game in general is not terribly difficult. There are two skills levels; one for novices to games, and one for veterans, and even on the latter difficulty, the game posed very little trouble for me.

Moreover, although Beyond Two Souls is at its heart, a ghost story about a young woman haunted by a spectral entity, the game is more of a drama  than a terrifying thriller, and it is several hours into the game before there is even any hint of something spooky. The first time we see Aidan I admit, I jumped into the air because I was not expecting anything creepy to go down, which is one thing that sets the game apart from other titles which have horror elements within them; instead of initially introducing Aidan as this scary creature, he is illustrated as an actual, understandable, recognisable being, rather than a monster, which helps the audience not only adjust to having him around 24/7, but even like and care for his character as well, so by the time a creepy occurrence happens, we do not resent Aidan for it; he cannot help being what he is, and by that time, we have accepted him regardless.

After the first jump there are some other scary moments, and these are just as well managed as the first. Although at times the spooky moments seem a little odd as they are few and far between for the most part, they are beefed up by the continuous mentioning of ‘monsters’, suggesting that there are other ghostly creatures out in the world, and not all of them are as nice and homey as our boy Aidan, and the occasions when Jodie is unfortunately forced to face them are delivered beautifully upon the screen. I will say no more about them, but although they are rare, they are an awesome highlight of the game and remind the player that Beyond Two Souls is just that; a game, one which is deserving of being played.

Beyond Two Souls is a fantastic, unique experience which is not only emotional and passionate, but is is brilliantly written, intelligent and continuously entertaining. I will say this though; if you intend to play Beyond Two Souls, you may want to have a box of tissues handy; many scenes are delivered to such an emotionally high caliber that I for one was deeply affected by the emotion dripping forth from the screen, the ending especially is a real tear-jerker, and one that will stay with you long after the game is over.

Quantic Dream’s new title is, without a doubt, one of the best games I have played all year. Will I play it again? You can count on it!

Rating: 11/10 (even with those occasionally irritable controls)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy the Beyond experience as much as I did!

Image Reference:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcREcVr_lD5t162HalBC_UfQjkna9BLyE7lDFG066OC7kXjvzWa3

An Unforgotten Heroine Fights to Reclaim Her Memories in REMEMBER ME

Title: Remember Meremember_me_capcom_game_-_cover_art1
Developer:
DONTNOD
Distributor:
CAPCOM
Platforms:
PC/PS3/XBOX360

Pros:
-Beautifully detailed environments
and graphics
-Uniquely interesting, psychologically
powerful and captivating storyline
-Personally customisable upgrades
-Fight scenes are fun
-Entertaining puzzles
-Nice, digitally inspired musical score

Cons:
-Camera angels can occasionally
be irritable
-Controls take a while to learn
-Limited availability to exploration
-Vast quantity of hints take away
from one’s general enjoyment

Rating (out of 10): 8.5

Summary: A character oriented, powerfully gripping sci-fi oriented title with a terrific, lead female protagonist who pushes the narrative forward until the very end.

This particular review is based upon my experience with the XBOX360 version.

‘My name is Nilin, and this time, you will remember me.’

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Female protagonists; in movies they are a dime a dozen. It isn’t everyday a warrior woman comes blasting through the doors, but in games, every so often a woman of unfathomable grace comes exploding through the screen with unparalleled charisma, potential and power. Remember Me’s ‘Nilin’ is certainly soon to join the ranks of these prior heroines. Unlike the stereotypical dragon slayer, Nilin exhibits emotions. She does not like the idea of innocents being caught between her and her target; she feels empathy towards others, and she is concerned whether her actions are helping those around her or if she is simply another antagonist. This alone makes her an incredibly well rounded character that you immediately begin to enjoy playing as. Of course, the fact she can take on a large group of fighters all at once and get out reasonably uninjured and is additionally a gorgeous minx with the body of an hour glass does not hurt her alluring appeal either.

I apologise if I come off sounding like a sex crazed loon – that is not my intent. So often in games, female characters are objectified as sex symbols. Take Angie from Psychotoxic for instance – she spends the game running around flaunting her thong. This decision by the developers takes away from the experience when portraying a certain character. In the games industry, often female characters are visualised as being unable to acquire the same large audiences as games where males play the lead role. Epic Games for instance back in March admitted that they would never have the leading protagonist in any Gears of War game be a heroine. Adjunctively, according to online sources, it has been speculated that Dontnod Entertainment had some difficulty attempting to acquire a distributor for Remember Me as it was doubted that the game could acquire such a mass audience, with the review on Gamespot going so far as to say that Nilin was focused upon too much, which prevented the other characters from coming to life. Many of these characters are men, and in this particular title the men take the back seat whilst Nilin drives the narrative forward.

After each Episode (level), Nilin reminisces over what has happened thus far and thinks about the ramifications of her choices and the kind of person that she is. In most games the player shoots first and never contemplates the consequences of their decisions or the loss of their humanity from taking another life, which is a major difference about Nilin; she does. This vulnerability of hers is perfect at showing her humanity. True, she is a hero and there is the expectation that she is to be big and strong, but she also comes off as the kind of young women you could totally be BFF’s with. This assists with her becoming such a likable and very understandable character, for the player does not just see her physical appearance, but her emotional interior as well, and it is very enjoyable to watch such a real character coming to life before one’s eyes.

Nilin herself, although as previously mentioned is physically beautiful, her physicality is not what is focused upon. Many other games seem quite  misogynistic when developing women as pure sex objects, whereas Nilin is fully clothed. Sure, her cleavage is partially visible, but unlike in many games where a woman’s breasts stick out from her chest like two cannons on a pirate’s ship, in Remember Me, the lead female protagonist is not exactly flat chested, but her lady parts are not the focus of what draws the gamer to admire her so – it is her character as a woman; her emotion; her charisma; her attitude. The actress who voices Nilin, Kezia Burrows, does a fabulous job at bringing the character to life, but her mannerisms also assist with this. When she is splashed with water, Nilin sighs and grunts, throwing the water off her body and wiping it from her face. She shields her eyes from fire and she looks behind her when running from enemies as to know exactly where they are. She gasps and sighs in all the right places and when she is anxious she reassures herself ; ‘okay, get up Nilin! You can do this!’ These small aspects make her so much more human, and although I will admit that games are simply designed to entertain, sometimes sheer action is not enough to do just that. Sometimes a person can be as entertaining as an action scene, and Nilin herself is a real pleasure to watch and control throughout the entire experience.

Okay, first things first; Remember Me is powered by the Unreal Engine. I don’t know about others, but I on occasion cringe when this is revealed to me. Either, the graphics are going to be really good (Mass Effect, Bioshock) or they’re not (Gears of War (1), Singularity). Luckily, Remember Me is the former, rather than the latter. The cinematics often move from Nilin walking into a new environment to broadly showing the entire region in all of its futuristic appeal. Towering skyscrapers, large flying ships and intricate holographic advertisements are just some of the marvelously detailed creations the player will bear witness to, each of which is beautifully conceived, showing the impeccable vision that is Neo Paris 2084 in all of its glory.

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The characters too are well detailed, especially their clothes, which look amazing upon each of the individuals, whether they have a pivotal role to play or are simply civilians you happen to walk by. The robots too that live amongst the humans are additionally well designed to such an extent you can see the detail in each and every one of their parts, from their wires to the metal casing that surround their exterior.

Walking near businesses and other such buildings and like places will cause holographic screens to immediately appear around you, articulating what the place is and what is on offer. The developers have gone to a great extent to make the player feel as though they are a part of the world, and by God they have done an amazing job at making the world welcome the player with open arms into the future.

Of course, although I have described how beautiful the future of Paris is, it ain’t exactly a Utopia. SENSEN, a massive monopoly in the future is in the business of memories; buying, selling, changing; you name it. This here is the most lucrative venture in the future. Memories are knowledge which in itself is power, and SENSEN dominates it all. A person can for instance purchase a happy memory rather than living it, and happy memories can be stolen just as easily. A world where your thoughts; your feelings; everything you are is free to the highest bidder? Now that is something else entirely!

Errorists on the other hand are a small group of people fighting to keep their memories to themselves and to bring SENSEN to its knees. These people seek to remove the unjustly error of creating such a tyrannical business. Nilin herself is one of them; one of the best as well.

The game begins with her memories unfortunately being sucked right out from her skull. The sound of her screaming in excruciating agony as her brain is wiped of all knowledge is almost too much to bear as shudders no doubt run up and down your spine. The game itself is not violent in the sense that blood is sprayed across the walls; all of it is psychological. People plead for their lives as you go to rip into their minds; people scream as their brains implode from the inside. This game may not be in your face violent, but it certainly ain’t for the faint of heart either. Today we live in a world where our thoughts and memories are sacred, but the very idea that they are not and can be stolen is unbelievably frightening, and the developers cash in on this particular ideology.

The opening cinematic of Nilin losing her memories immediately causes the player to feel a great deal of sympathy towards her. Although initially we do not know this young lady, we will be playing as her and almost feel her pain as our own. She stumbles out of her cell, being led down the hall, told that her pain has only just begun and there is one final process to completely eradicate all of her thoughts that she is yet to experience. Nilin is forced into a queue and is then made to watch as people have their final thoughts sucked out, their screams ricocheting about the halls.

Safe to say not everything goes according to plan, with Edge, the brother of Nilin contacting her and efficaciously assisting her to break out. With little knowledge of her surrounds, the player and Nilin form a quick attachment, for neither of us know anything about the city, who we are, or what we are supposed to do, which further helps us adjust to her as not just a character, but as a human being. Nilin is initially scared and freaked out beyond belief, and although it is not typical to see the heroine losing it, this moment works unbelievably well.

Nilin however cannot be too freaked for long because soon enough she needs to get dirty. Although Nilin lost all knowledge of her fighting skills and her abilities, she is a fast learner and can adequately reacquire them. At the beginning of the game Nilin is unfathomably weak, and the combat scenes seem a bit of a drag – they take time to complete and the fact that the keys take a while to learn additionally doesn’t help matters. Nilin’s health is unfathomably low and if you are anything like me, you feel as though Nilin will be unsuccessful initially in the first few fights. In fact at one point a cinematic causes Nilin to lose most of her health and then forces her to go up against a good five combatants; not very fun!

Nilin as previously mentioned does reacquire her skills, which is only too good to be true! In the BACK menu, the player is able to enhance Nilin’s abilities. Her fighting skills come down to three separate flavors; damage, regenerate and recharge. Now, each attack does ‘damage’ per se, but the player is able to increase the overall efficiency of each attack. Regenerate on the other hand (Y in combat) will provide the player with a small boost to their health with each critical hit. Lastly, recharge provides an extra boost to Nilin’s abilities, enabling her to use them more often. A mandatory cooling down process is activated after each use, and by using the recharge ability, Nilin is able to quicken its pace.

During the game, the player is able to personally customise their abilities, to a certain degree of course, but they do have a little leeway denied in other games that strictly state ‘you must follow this particular upgrade tree.’ In Remember Me, the player can create their own. With each attack combo, the player is able to select what benefits Nilin will acquire. For instance, the player could create an attack that does ‘damage, regenerate, damage, recharge, recharge.’ There are a multitude of other options of course; this here is just an example.

These combos however are not quite as easy to perform, as one needs to remember which keys to press. One can always return to the skills screen to see what is needed to successfully pull off a particular combo. Nilin will still acquire the benefits of each key that is successfully hit in the appropriate order, however, as soon as the player hits the wrong one, a new combo immediately begins.

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When Nilin’s abilities are used however, which is where the ‘recharge’ comes into it, none of this really matters. The player can more often than not press any key at any time depending on the power they have selected (only one can be used at any given time) and these do an unfathomable amount of reliable damage. When going up against groups of opponents, well, let’s just say they never stood a chance! When this happens, it is incredibly fun to watch for the enemies are basically helpless to even halter the attacks that Nilin devastates them with.

Nilin can increase her attacks effectiveness and decimate her opponents. She can toss in a grenade that will destroy enemy defenses, or she can render enemies temporally incapable of standing up for themselves, allowing her to attack them whilst ensuring they cannot fight back.

During combat, Nilin can flawlessly dodge out of an enemy’s reach (A), with the game alerting the player to an enemy’s attack before it takes place, giving them fair time to efficaciously move Nilin from one location to the next before she sustains damage. On top of this, Nilin can jump over her opponents, allowing her to continue her assault, or even her combo, on her opponent’s back, front or wherever she damn well pleases. Or, hell, she can just as easily jump to some new prey and inflict pain and suffering upon them too.

If this is not enough, Nilin can perform a devastating finishing touch (B) on some particular opponents that have been defeated, but not yet decimated. These often involve destroying one’s mind, and the player cannot help but cringe and smile at the exact same time as they watch enemy’s minds being invaded as Nilin thrusts her fist through their heads.

The issue with combat has nothing to do with how it is orchestrated, but more along the lines of how easy the scenes eventually become. As soon as the player becomes accustomed to the controls and Nilin begins to reacquire much of her old capabilities, she can smite her enemy with ease. Even when going up against a number of enemies at once, the chance of Nilin falling becomes less and less likely, which renders the originally challenging atmosphere moot.

However, even with this said, sometimes the game does go to the extreme, and the player finds themselves up against a large mass of bad guys. True, these scenes are not always terribly challenging, but on a few occasions you cannot help but stare in awe at the sheer amount of enemies the game has just thrown at you, and it’s even more ludicrous that the game expects you to survive. Of course, Nilin has to, but in reality, it is doubtful even a well trained militarian strike team would come out without a scratch.

Boss battles too are not genuinely terrible to face down, although all of them do originally appear incredibly powerful, each of which always presenting something new, not two battles being alike in nature. These battles often are a little time consuming as you attempt to discover the appropriate methodology needed to eradicate the threat, each boss being a fun challenge to decimate. Some bosses are best eliminated by being in close proximity to them as to keep from allowing such combatants the use their long range attacks, whilst others are the exact opposite, and it is best to keep as far away from them as possible until Nilin has the advantage of striking a vicious blow.

One part of the battles that is entertaining is that not every opponent can be efficaciously eliminated in the same manner as the last. Robots for instance can only be eliminated by blowing them into smithereens. On other occasions, some opponents carry shields that must initially be broken before the enemy themselves can be attacked, and other opponents are immune to all attacks until their defenses have been temporarily taken offline. Simply put, the player is forced to adjust to every fight differently, which keeps the fighting fresh and invigorating which ensures it does not become stale.

As entertaining as these fight scenes can be, and I am not denying that they often are very fun to fight through, the game often works best when it is not a pure fighting experience. There are a few occasions when it is just fight scene after fight scene after fight scene, and on a couple of those occasions I personally felt like saying ‘okay, enough is enough!’ More often than not I acquired more enjoyment when Nilin was evading security, climbing through areas or taking out a couple bad guys every so often, not when she was forced to go up against entire armies time after time.

However, moving back to the topic of complete and utter destruction, every opponent killed delivers points that unlock additional upgrades to help with combat performance. Additionally, there are bits and pieces of upgrades available across the world for one to acquire. Collecting five health upgrade devices will permanently provide Nilin with another health bar, which is damn well necessary in preserving her existence. Power upgrades can increase the longevity of her abilities (again, five are required) and memory fragments too are placed about the environment which allow her to recover her memories about the futuristic world we inhabit.

For these to be acquired, the player needs to explore, and a problem can be encountered here. Although environments are large and beautiful, they are also restrictive. As soon as a player goes in the direction of their objective (more often than not unintentionally because the game doesn’t exactly say which way is which) a cut scene will often begin to play, after which Nilin will not be allowed to venture back because often she is sealed into the next area. On top of this, the game often checkpoints when this occurs, preventing the player from reverting to their previous automated save to ensure some further exploration can be achieved. Basically, if you miss an item; you miss it permanently, which is just frustrating.

If the game can be relied upon for one thing, it is checkpointing, which seems to happen quite frequently. On top of this, after every major battle, often Nilin can find a health kit around the corner which will replenish all of her lost vitality. If this is not enough, the game also babies the player a little more often than it probably should. Whenever something is unlocked, the game provides helpful hint after helpful hint, explaining every little thing in great detail. Although this proves to be of assistance, since every rookie Remember Me player is initially a layman on first play through, the wealth of information can sometimes make one feel a little as though the game is belittling your general intellect; if something is explained, it doesn’t need to be reiterated with alternate words or phrases. This is not only a little insulting, but also takes time away from kicking ass and taking names, and after acquiring a new upgrade the first thing you want to do is test it on the first poor sap you can lay your fingers on, not be told all about it over and over and over.

Although as previously mentioned, the game is initially very beautiful, the first level (not including Episode Zero) is set in decadent slums, which although look finely crafted, do not reflect the gorgeous visuals which can be procured later. The fighting is not nearly as fun as it is later when going up against SENSEN Security, for it feels wickedly sick to outsmart a large cluster of well trained soldiers. For the first hour, although the visuals are stunning and the storyline is captivating, the gloomy atmosphere and surrounds, along with the enemies you encounter is blatantly dark and grim. The game in fact seems to lag at the start, but by the second episode you are finally introduced to a far wealthier area and the game does what it does best; entertain your socks off! If only the first hour could have been just as effective, then I might have been hooked right from the start, but instead, the player is forced to wade through a wee bit of the game before discovering how much of a gem Remember Me truly is.

Although one will no doubt spend a bit of time admiring their environment, visuals themselves play a large role in the game. While moving about the world, image files can be uploaded to certain locations that show where an item can be found. If the player wishes to later find said item, they need to study the environment the photo showcases. Visuals again have a large role to play when shifting through a player’s mind and altering their memory. When this occurs, the player is able to rewind a character’s memory back, and as it begins to play once more, they have the opportunity to alter certain aspects of the world the memory occurred in; they can move items, exchange objects, turn things on or off; there are a vast quantity of actions that can be taken. Visual cues are provided to help show when the player is able to take action, however these are fast and can be easily missed, hence the mandatory need for the player to pay particular attention to their surrounds. Of course, dire ramifications can occur if the player inadvertently changes something in the memory they shouldn’t (there is always a set mission directive when altering a person’s memory, and it is not always as simple as changing every single thing). On occasion the player will need to repeat the process several times to acquire the desired effect, the game being alarming kind to the player and allowing them the opportunity to continuously repeat the process until they have succeeded without the need to return to a checkpoint, et al. These particular puzzles are genuinely fun to solve, and the challenge they bring adds another unique fixture to the game. Although such can prove a little annoying (due to the fiddly controls), they never lose their appeal, and if anything, the only really disappointing factor about these are the significant lack of them, being an incredibly rare puzzle to find in the game.

Breaking into a person’s mind and kicking ass and taking names are not the only occurrences which transpire throughout the campaign, with Nilin adjunctively climbing through numerous sections. Climbing is very similar to other games (Enslaved: Odyssey of the West, Fuse, etc) and is often hardened with certain difficulties that Nilin must on occasion cross. These obstacles can include navigating around hazards, or even timed sequences when she must hurriedly move across a piece of the environment else she becomes knocked off. Climbing however is not without its hindrances, for it is in these moments that the camera decides to take over, the player no longer having any control where it decides to settle itself. On more than one occasion the camera decides to place itself in the most inconvenient location; either being extremely far away or at an odd angle. Whenever this occurs, on occasion the player is forced to venture a guess in which direction they may be forced to navigate in if what they are forced to jump to cannot be acutely seen. This is not always the case mind you, but when it does happen, it is certainly limiting to one’s enjoyment and is thus not as flawlessly articulated as other games where climbing sequences are engineered to a higher standard.

But don’t let any of these potentially negative issues remove any of the positive ideologies I have previously discussed, or even cause you to immediately fathom that the game is not worth procuring. Although original in its nature, the main reason a player will perhaps participate in such a campaign will be due to the character of Nilin herself. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Nilin has had her memory stolen from her and is thus made to reacquire all that once made her who she is. To do this she is forced to help a number of characters, from her brother to other Errorists fighting to bring down SEMSEM. Due to this, over the course of the game Nilin wonders if she is really doing the right thing, and if she had her memories, would she actually be participating in such actions? Fearing that she may very well be working for an enemy organisation and is being manipulated; the constant fights she has with her own consciousness; and the journey she must undertake to discover the truth about who she really is, is an adventure in itself as amazing as the actual game.

In conclusion, despite a couple of issues, such do not take away from the player’s enjoyment, and Remember Me will ultimately prove to be a fun, futuristic experience quite unlike anything the player has discovered before.

Image References:

http://apa340.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/the-creepy-cull-of-female-protagonists/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/remember-me-review-caught-between-prescience-and-commerce/

http://www.gamingadvance.com/new-remember-me-gameplay-shows-off-innovative-combat-system/

http://www.justpushstart.com/2013/06/remember-me-review/

Lighting a Fuse: Analysing Insomniac’s new Third Person Shooter

Title: FuseFuse-Box-Art
Developer: Insomnia
Distributor: EA
Platforms: PS3 and XBOX 360
Genre: Team oriented third person action

Pros:
-Relentless action sequences
-Powerful upgrades
-Captivating action oriented storyline
-Awesome take down moves
-Incredibly fun

Cons:
-Graphics seem a little outdated
-Been there, done that

Rating (out of ten): 8

Synopsis: A solid, entertaining action shooter that ought to have been released a year ago.

If some of the best ideas from games the likes of Gears of War, Vanquish, Enslaved: Odyssey of the West and Brute Force were all meshed up into one title, that game might very well end up being this new creation from the developers of Ratchet and Clank and Resistance.

Fuse is a futuristic third person team oriented shooter in a time when the governments of the world are attempting to discover a new form of renewable energy. An energy source, capable of unquantifiable levels of destruction is unfortunately discovered in the process, but its consequential power is not exactly energy, as it is so much militarian, with limitless potential for building an unstoppable army to bring an end to any other force on the planet.

Raven, an antagonistic military group that have gone beyond rogue have seized control of this unimaginably powerful energy source and God only knows what they intend to do with it. Burgess, a man contacted to help apprehend Raven and destroy the Fuse energy, rallies his team, consisting of four unique operatives from around the globe, each with different backgrounds and skills that can advantageously take care of this diabolical situation that is slowly but surely spiraling hopelessly out of control.  

Taking down choppers is not quite as easy as one might imagine...

Taking down choppers is not quite as easy as one might imagine…

Over the course of the campaign, each member of the team who the player has the option of playing as during the game, hold three weapons, originally beginning with just an ordinary pistol (if you acquire the Fusion Pack DLC you can upgrade your pistol to immediately use Fuse based technology) and additionally having the ability to carry another weapon of their choosing, whether that be an assault rifle, a sniper class weapon or a shotgun. The third weapon each character is able to wield are their unique Fuse empowered devices which they acquire not long into the campaign. When this occurs, each team member begins to address a certain function that the team needs to survive and complete their objectives.

Dalton, the team’s leader, who has a past with Raven and is now doing his best to shut down their rogue operation, acquires a Magsheild, which allows him to generate a well, a shield (obviously?) that will halter any firepower from injuring him or any team member standing behind it. Additionally, enemy rounds will be plucked out from the air by the device and launched back at the one who fired them. Simply put, Dalton becomes the conventional shock trooper.

FUSE_Dalton_Solo-1024x576

Jacob, the voice of reason and quite possibly the heart of the team acquires himself a crossbow of sorts, which is capable of launching Fuse empowered rounds that can burn through enemy combatants. These can be fired from a hefty distance which allows him to become the team’s stereotypical sniper.

Fuse_Jacob_2

Izzy, who is seen as the brains of the outfit, being both cold and lethal at the same time, acquires herself a weapon that will crystallise the environment and her opponents and cause them to explode. The opposite affect will happen to her team, as she is able to launch crystals with a healing serum in the direction of her fellow comrades which will advantageously benefit their progress and keep them alive longer and heal them over time, thus making her the team’s medic.

Fuse_Izzy_2

Lastly, Naya, the team member I played as, an assassin with a foxy British accent (meow!) whose father has become caught up in the exploits of Raven, found herself carrying a singularity shock weapon that allowed black holes to appear and suck enemies into oblivion. The more enemies hit by the rounds meant that the implosion would become more devastating, a chain reaction taking place which sucked in everyone within the vicinity and blew the others around like rag dolls. This adjunctively came equipped with the phantom cloak, allowing Naya to become invisible for a short duration, enabling her to become the team’s scout, and further empower her lethal assassination skills.

WOW!

WOW!

Unlike in Brute Force, where during the single player campaign the player had to physically activate each particular squad member’s capabilities, the AI will naturally do this during the game, which sufficiently aids progress and makes the action even more fun to fight through.

This was not all though. Larger enemies found throughout the game who are basically the champions of Raven; often being large hulking mechs with extraordinary weapons can have their firepower ripped away from them once they have been relegated to a cadaver. Although these weapons impede movement, they are incredibly powerful and only come equipped with a limited amount of firepower so ought to be utilised whilst available.

Moreover, the weapons the characters were equipped with, along with their health and abilities could be upgraded over the course of the story. Every so often, the player went up a level which presented them with not one skill point, but four; one for each member of the team. Unfortunately the team members do not naturally assign their own skill points and so this is up to the prerogative of the player. Since this is the case, the player is then able to choose what to upgrade and what special abilities the characters will use. The more abilities the characters have at their disposal, the more the AI will be able to use over the course of the game. For instance, in the case of Izzy, she does not automatically begin the game with her healing ability, and this subsequently needs to be unlocked. Once it has been, she was use it when applicable.

Additionally, there are team perks; beneficial upgrades which unanimously assist each of the squad members. Unlike the points acquired by leveling up, these particular ones are acquired from Fuse credits found throughout the game. Fuse credits are small stacks of gold worth 500 each, however, when each upgrade costs 10,000 credits, well, safe to say one needs to scour the maps up and down in an attempt to find them. These abilities are often similar to the traits assigned to each player, however they often, as the title suggests, come with their unique perks. For instance, the marksman ability allows the player to acquire ammunition each time they pull off a successful head shot. Other perks increase damage resistance, or simply resistance to one particular offensive attack; the ability to level up at a faster pace; or even the chance to not consume so much Fuse energy when using special player capabilities.

That’s right, each player ability does run on ammo; the same ammo that each of the player’s Fuse based weapons run on, which is rather annoying, and at the end of the day it comes down to whether or not the player wants to use their ammo to assault the enemy from afar, or for tactical superiority.

Apart from being a babe, Naya's combat abilities and amazing weaponry make her absolutely ruthless in combat.

Apart from being a babe, Naya’s abilities and amazing weaponry make her absolutely ruthless in combat.

Firepower is not the only weapon in each character’s arsenal though, with the team able to pull off special melee moves. Sneaking up behind enemies, players can break the necks of their opponents, drag their bodies over crates, or slit their throats with knives. During combat, the players are able to perform a wild manner of exciting kick ass combat moves which look really extraordinary. Just keep hitting the melee button and the player will automatically continue to perform admirably on the battlefield.

There is of course one addendum to all of this Fuse energy; since Raven has stolen the technology, your team are not the only ones capable of using such amazing technology. Over the course of the game you will run into opponents who are cloaked, who sneak up behind you and take you hostage, using you as a human shield as they assault the rest of your team. Enemies who have Fuse shields covering their person; enemies who are able to heal their comrades if they happen to be in a certain vicinity of them; the list goes on, and thus the player needs to accommodate themselves for any situation and prepare accordingly, adapting to each combat scenario.

Boss battles are especially deranged when it comes to this; not in a bad way, but the limits of the imagination are diabolically stretched, these particular battles often being a time consuming process in which the player needs to adopt a particular strategy as to efficaciously beat their opponent, who of course is never alone, with a number of friends coming to assist them as they wage their private war against you.

Moving on, as with many games today there is no traditional health bar per se, and as soon as your character takes too much damage they are out for the count, temporally at least. Much like in Gears of War, the player is left to crawl across the ground crying out for assistance, a person needing to physically revive you, vice versa, before a timer on your screen runs out. If you or any other member of your team dies, the game officially comes to an end, much unlike Gears of War when your fellow team members could crawl around the floor for days asking for assistance and never require any; in Fuse, you either help your team or help hinder your own progress, which makes your friends far more important to you than in other titles where they are basically invincible.

The AI of your team furthermore is not bad, although like with many games they do on occasion get in your way when you are firing and complain about how terrible a shot you are, even though they clearly ran into your line of fire. In the campaign, as per usual, you need to do almost everything, which is kind of odd since you would think that the others would be able to push a button just as well as you can. There are moments when the team needs to do something in synchronicity or all at once and will automatically perform their tasks, but other times it is left solely up to you. This includes shutting off gun turrets, hacking computers, demolishing walls, et al.

The enemy will additionally more often than not act in a manner that will ensure a challenge. There is no skill level so in the end it really comes down to the sheer number of bad guys thrust upon you and their general skill. Enemies will flank, throw grenades to flush you out and take cover. A number of them come equipped with jump packs and hover devices which allow them to expertly fly from one location to the next, allowing them to acquire a better vantage point or avoid fire. However, as soon as the combined effort of your team is placed onto a number of targets, the single most intelligent bad guy alive would be unable to succeed in surviving such an assault, sometimes making fire fights move by at a steady, quick pace.

As for your own intellect – as previously mentioned, Fuse is a straight forward shooter, and thus the player is normally not required to think too strenuously about what to do. As long as you know where the fire button is and can master the controls in a short duration of time, Fuse will most definitely become your oyster.

As amazing as it might seem, although the game, much like Gears of War Judgment is one great big kill fest, unlike in Epic’s newest shooter, never did the action get old. Environments, from bunkers, to forests compounds and locations in the snow ensure that the scenarios the player fights through are frequently fresh and invigorating.

kicking ass and taking names

kicking ass and taking names

When your team are forced to interact with tasks alongside you, one can clearly see how Insomniac are attempting to showcase the importance of the team, and are embodying a large number of occurrences which real militarian groups strategically do together as to create a strong realistic vibe and to make certain that you never feel alone.

However, don’t let this idea of realism put you off for there is plenty of healthy banter that goes on over the course of the game. Since Dalton has a past with Raven, often he becomes the brunt of some of the jokes made about this terrorist force. On other occasions, the jokes have some sexual reference that is not deliberate as much as it is stereotypical. At one point when climbing, Dalton says to Naya ‘I just love to watch you climb’ and in response to this she says ‘Izzy, if you catch (Dalton) staring at my arse, you have my permission to shoot him.’

As entertaining as the game can be though, sometimes I personally wondered ‘hasn’t this been done before?’ Reviving your team and having to be revived, symbolic of Gears of War, and also reminiscent of the team oriented combat found in Epic’s shooter. The ability to switch players is very much reminiscent of what could happen in Brute Force, and the need to on occasion climb obstacles is representative of Enslaved and other like titles. I did previously mention that Fuse seemed to take many of the great ideas from previous games, and if this be the case, at the end of the day it seems blatantly obvious where much of the inspiration is derived. Of course, if these are original ideas, then I am sorry but it would seem that Insomniac is a little too late, which can also be partially said in relation to their graphics.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the graphics of the game. Levels are often incredibly beautiful and vibrantly bright. The characters and the enemies they face are just as beautifully detailed as the environments, however, in comparison to games the likes of Crysis 3 that have already been released this year, Fuse seems rather outdated by at least a year. Explosions especially often look like a number of lines spiraling in all directions with a bright mixture of colour overlapping them.

In conclusion, Fuse is a fun action oriented shooter where the fighting almost never stops. There is always another mission to accomplish; another enemy to eliminate; and another level to acquire, and you will only be too happy to succeed in each of these objectives.

Image References:

http://gamerant.com/fuse-screenshots-insomniac-games/fuse-naya/

http://www.insomniacgames.com/games/fuse/#/news/detail/fuse-update-3-6-13

http://www.newgamernation.com/fuse-the-dalton-rules-trailer-released/

http://www.psu.com/a019403/

http://www.rocketchainsaw.com.au/interview-brian-allgeier-creative-director-fuse-insomniac-2367/

Killing the Pain: Hell and Damnation is loosed on console

PKHDGame-2012-08-17-12-29-47-71

Title: Painkiller: Hell and Damnation
Developer:
The Farm 51
Distributor:
Nordic Games
Release Date:
April 5th, 2013 (PS3 and XBOX360 versions),
October 31st 2012 (PC)
Duration:
Between 4 and 6 hours

Pros:
New weapon

Cons:
-Repetitive, old levels
-Dull graphics
-Very little violence
-Cliché storyline
-Pathetically short
-Voice actors seem out of their depth
-One: the average IQ of your opponents

Less Entertaining Than: Painkiller

More Entertaining Than: Bonking a hammer over your head

Rating (out of 10): 2

In Summary: To call Painkiller: Hell and Damnation entertaining would be like suggesting the act of putting a red hot iron down your trousers, or running a cheese grater over your genitals, were genuinely smart things to do.

The original Painkiller and the first mission pack that spawned from it, Battle out of Hell, which Hell and Damnation is very loosely based upon were originally designed by People Can Fly and distributed by Dreamcatcher. Sometimes when a new developer takes the seams one must question whether or not they will pay homage to the previous titles by making a game deserving of the franchise. Sometimes, much like Halo 4, the developers can surprise you by constructing a stunningly gorgeous game with a breathtaking storyline, fantastic action sequences and an alarmingly entertaining experience. Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is not one of these games, and is in fact the reason why many new developers are looked at so skeptically when taking command of a fantastic franchise and by the end of the game, the only thing requiring a painkiller, or ten, will be you, the player, after having to endure such a soporifically torturous experience.

The story picks up after the events of the last mission pack, with Daniel Garner returning to the graveyard where he originally began his pilgrimage back in 2003. Having been denied the right to see his beloved wife Catherine in Heaven, he is stuck in the hellish land that he has set to ruin over the past few titles. All of a sudden, Eve, who had betrayed Daniel back in Battle out of Hell, and who Daniel is unable to entirely trust throughout this campaign warns him that ‘he is coming’, the ominous ‘he’ being Death.

Although Hell and Damnation is, I guess, supposed to be a brand new storyline, it uses old levels to tell its tale, with a very loose, cliché and predictable storyline playing out during the cinematics that infrequently occur over the course of the campaign. On that note, you are basically forced to fight through areas and enemies that you would have already cleansed and punished previously.

Right from the very beginning you can see the differences between the previous Painkiller titles and this new addition. Fans of the original franchise may remember that the cinematic moments were utterly sublime, the graphics being beyond fathomable, with the characters, whether they be humanoid or demonic looking so utterly realistic that the movie experience these cinematic scenes brought to the game aided in absorbing the player further into the compelling story. True, Painkiller has always been a brainless action shooter, but there was a story worth telling none the same during the cinematic sequences and it is a shame that such cannot be said for Hell and Damnation.

The graphics of the cinematic cut scenes in this game are the same visuals that will be presented to the player during the levels. Now, I will be the first to admit that the graphics of the original series were a little dull and dark, but on top of this I might remind the player that the games were using an older engine. With the use of the Unreal 3 Engine to power this particular game, one may assume that the graphics would be near astounding, with titles the likes of Gears of War 3, Bioshock Infinite and Mass Effect 3, just to name a few, being powered by this graphically gorgeous engine. Now, even though Painkiller is indeed set in purgatorial realms and hellish domains, one might assume that the engine would make the environments more beautiful than they were in previous titles. Wrong! If anything, the graphics are incredibly off putting, dull and hazy, and make the graphics of the original game continue to look fresh and lively today when in comparison.

On occasion, for instance in the level Cathedral, the bright colourations of some of the environments and castle features are a welcome change. They are not stunning per se and are in no way up to the standard of today, but are still much more engrossing than the usual grays and blacks that the game seems to more often than not rely upon. At times, such as in the level Opera House, the environment is so black that it is literally pitch, and by pitch, well, you’ll see for yourself if you decide to suffer through such a level; at times you will be unable to see an inch in front of you, let alone the enemies attempting to rid you of your health. A torch would have been supportive in such a level, which actually is used later on in the Orphanage level, which, ironically, was an unnecessary attachment.

painkillerhd

Moving on, upon Death entering the cinematic, if you are anything like me you will be a bit at a loss as to who you are looking at. I mean, how would Death appear to you? Would this terrifying reaper be a skeletal monster with a sheath and a horse of like comparison? In Hell and Damnation, the designers obviously opted for a unique look to the harvester of souls, and with that, have basically turned him into an aquatic terror. Death basically looks like a chubby octopus with some green algae hanging from his shoulders.

In fact, a number of the characters in the game look as though they spent the hiatus between the last Painkiller and this one down at the local McDonalds, where they refused to leave, instead opting to eat their fill and then some. Eve herself, who later appears in corporeal form once more, who was originally a babe of unimaginable beauty, has decided to cover up with a few additional layers of skin. Now, I have no problem with a woman, who, unlike most models these days, actually decides to eat, so before you start sending in your hate mail and stipulating that I am a vulgar bastard, please, allow me to finish. Eve (this is the Eve FYI, who happened to have a thing with Adam at one time) is the kind of individual you would imagine to be quite special. I mean, women are naturally beautiful, so it would be natural that Eve be beautiful too, which was reflective in the previous games, but not in this one. Her hair; her face; her choice of attire; even her voice, all of this is completely different and you will in no way recognise her character.

That is the other factor you will notice. The original voice actors do not return to voice the characters, and so a bunch of new individuals have been hired on. The biggest difference here is Jon St. John who voices Daniel Garner. When it comes to voicing Duke Nukem, I would want nobody else but Mr. John to voice the character because he does an unfathomably brilliant job portraying such an action hero. As Daniel Garner though, Mr. John seems out of his depth, his deep voice being unable to convey the emotional power that was originally orchestrated in the prior titles, and it sometimes seems disturbingly humorous to have such an actor portraying a broken and defeated character. If you want someone to be taken seriously, one should hire an actor who can portray a serious part. Mr. John does a terrific job at articulating humorous one liners and other such comedic dialogue, but in Painkiller, he seems about as wooden as a tree stump.

Now, Death has not magically appeared in front of Daniel out of the goodness of his heart – he has a proposition for him. If Daniel gives to him 7,000 souls, Death will grant him his wish to finally rise up to Heaven and be with his wife. Upon this deal being struck, Death grants Daniel a new weapon, which is the only new feature of the game. Like every other weapon in the Painkiller universe it is a two in one kind of deal; the primary fire is the buzz saw, which launches a relatively strong saw blade in the direction of your target at a rather slow speed. The secondary fire is much more entertaining, and is the soul snatcher, that will rip soul’s right out from your opponents and give them to you. Additionally, you are able to aim the gun in the direction of a soul that has erupted out from the body of a fallen opponent and drag it into your character.

Old weapons, from both Painkiller and Battle out of Hell make a welcome return to the game, including, but not limited to the Chaingun Rocket Launcher, the Battle Rifle Flame Thrower and the Stakegun Grenade Launcher. On top of this, you not only begin the game with the brand new weapon that Death provides to you, but with the Painkiller device and the Shotgun Freeze Ray.

Much like in the previous Painkiller games, the goal is to go from level to level defeating the terrific amount of enemies that come in their droves to stop you. As usual, after collecting a certain number of souls, Daniel will enter demon mode, where you, the player, will be able, for a temporary period of time, to eradicate enemies with but a single shot. The enemies however are as brainless as they come, and if you can find more incompetent AI anywhere, I am almost certain that Hell and Damnation will beat that by an extra few per cent. Enemies flock towards you as though wanting to be eradicated, with no flight complex and no way to defend themselves against your attacks. On several occasions I came across enemies that ran into walls and became stuck; enemies who became stuck in corners; enemies who became stuck on the corpses of other enemies; enemies who decided to kill other enemies; the list of the blatant disregard of AI in this game is overwhelmingly never ending. On top of this, since a majority of your enemies can be eradicated with but a single shot on many an occasion, and since more of them only come equipped with melee attacks rather than long range weaponry, a lot of combatants will be annihilated before they are even able to touch you.

To make the game easier, as with previous titles, Tarot cards can be collected by completing certain objectives during the map; use only this particular weapon to vanquish the hordes of Hell; find every gold coin; find every secret area; complete the level in under a certain time constraint, etc. Due to the shortness of the game, in some levels one will discover there are in fact two cards that can be unlocked, each of which has a unique objective that needs to be completed.
Once more, the gold that is collected is used to power the cards, each one costing a certain amount to be used during a map. Each card can only be used once per map, although, like the last games, the ability to use more than one at the same time empowers Daniel considerably. Although the act of attempting to acquire the cards, along with the ability to use them can add some much needed entertainment to one’s experience, the Tarot cards are not essentially necessary, and one can efficaciously complete the game without any undue assistance.

Of course, with 7,000 souls to collect and a mass of opponents to destroy, you might imagine that, much like the previous titles in the series that Hell and Damnation will be incredibly violent; wrong again! The reason why there was such a considerably lengthy delay between the PC version and that which is on console is due to a German classifier, who stated that the game was unnecessarily evil in its violence. It is at this moment that I could make a vulgar and rather racial joke about this, but I will avoid the urge. I however did have a go at the PC version after playing the one on XBOX, and really, there is not much difference in the amount of blood and gore; both versions have very little of it. In previous Painkiller’s you almost needed to bring a towel to wipe the gore from your screen as it oozed across every surface of the environment, but in this particular game you see a quick spray of red from the bodies of those that are blown to smithereens and nothing else. Classified MA in Australia for Strong Horror Violence and Blood and Gore, if a game is going to have such a classification attached to it, then I will very much appreciate seeing all of this supposed ‘blood and gore’. Now, I am not necessarily a Satanist, but I prefer my games to have a bit of arterial red in them, and Hell and Damnation more often than not refuses to bathe the player in the bright red bodily ooze of fallen opponents.

All of the opponents you face moreover are replicas of those that you would have fought during the original campaigns, with a few changes here and there. Often when playing through a level, different opponents than the ones you remember initially fighting will appear, but the change is barely worth noting. Some minor alterations have additionally been implemented with some of the combatants, including providing the skelebones with arms and a blade to wield in each, and reducing the Skeletore, who was a terrific 8 foot tall badass with a double barreled shotgun in the original Painkiller, being strong, dangerous, and capable of using other enemies as demonic shields, to a four foot delinquent incapable of inciting fear into an ant, let alone the player.

Additionally, a couple of the original Boss monsters return for the slaughter, including the Necrogiant and Alastair. In the case of Alastair, like with the Skeletore, the developers decided to ‘improve’ upon the original design, so instead of the boss being a gigantic fire breathing monstrosity who would make even Godzilla wet his pants, they have sent him off to Jenny Craig, where they not only took off some of his muscle, but much of his height as well. The end result is this flimsy, 6 foot tall creature with goat legs, the body of a hairy chimp, two bat wings and the face of a gorilla; not exactly a fire breathing dragon now, is it?

Moving on, the levels you will fight through are from the original Painkiller game, and the mission pack, Battle out of Hell. Players may remember that Painkiller came with 24 levels, and Battle out of Hell was equipped with 10, and so it is blatantly obvious that 20 of them have apparently disappeared into the ether in this particular campaign comprised of 14 levels. You begin the game in the Graveyard level, as the player would have in the first game, and will continue on through other known maps the likes of the train station and the theme park. Other fun maps, the likes of the Military Base, the Tower of Babel, the Town, the Labs and Dead City are not included, and so, if you are anything like me, you are going to be adversely disappointed by the game’s content.

An interesting new addition to the levels though are the Boss monsters, who reign over these lands, and sometimes you see then moving about the environments in the background. When you begin the game in the Graveyard, you might suddenly experience a moment of pause as you look up to see the Necrogiant walking about the place, and later still, you may see him interact with the world by shoving his huge hand through the ceiling of a building you happen to be standing in.

Throughout the game, from the cinematics to moments during the levels themselves, random hints are provided as to what the ending will be comprised of, and the developers do not disappoint by leaving it wide open for a sequel. The ending, although rather unlikely, makes it seem as though brand spanking new content is just waiting around the corner to be explored in any potential new games that are to be made in this new franchise, I must wonder – why would anyone want to persist in this experience?

On that note, all of this combined makes for a very short game, and if you are in anyway interested in purchasing this particular title, I would recommend that you perhaps borrow it from your local video store and complete it over the course of a night, for I cannot imagine anyone wanting to experience this campaign twice.

If the developers of Painkiller: Hell and Damnation should feel anything after having completed this project, it is shame. Painkiller has been an abundantly popular series over the years, and what this game does is take everything that made the series entertaining to play and completely ruin the enjoyment for everyone. I would be seriously surprised if this dreadful excuse for a sequel manages to spawn another, and if it does, I only hope the developers do a better job than they did this time around. If Farm 51 want my opinion, it is this; if you want to create an appalling, pathetic excuse for a video game, I ain’t going to stop you; I do however recommend that you do not destroy a perfectly good franchise in the process.

IMAGE CREDITS:
http://www.nerdly.co.uk/2013/01/23/review-painkiller-hell-damnation/

http://www.tgrealm.com/blog-posts-137/tgr-blog-hands-on-painkiller-hell-damnation/

What I am looking 4 in a Doom 4

 

It was in 2007 that id announced the promulgation of the fourth installment in the Doom franchise, and since then I have been patiently waiting. Quite often, such hype is exposed, and later it draws to a close and the project is called off and left unfinished. Apparently not in this case, with little bits and pieces of detail emerging each year with the exception of Quakecon 2010. Recently it was rumored that the fourth Doom game would be loosed upon the world in December, and I have heard nothing since to deny this rumor as anything but what could very well be the truth.

With the announcement of Doom3 BFG Edition at E3 2012, the roll out of Doom 4 seems almost even more ‘exciting’. Could this be the appropriate word? Dunno. However, it seems rather odd that so little information is being broadcast about the upcoming Doom title, although when Doom 3 was on the rise, trailers for this particular title were put out as early as a year before its release, although the game was indeed postponed on a couple of occasions, thus my disbelief that it may actually arrive as planned, but here’s hoping.

What is strange about Doom 3 BFG would no doubt be its release. The 12th of October for the Yanks and many other countries, and the 19th for Australia? Perhaps the distributors temporarily forgot there was a country that existed above Antarctica? Or the games are being placed on very slow ships. Additionally, there is of course the price. In America, the game is set to be $50 for XBOX360, $40 for PS3 and $30 for PC, all of which are rather attractive prices. The Australian prices have been unveiled as well, with all platforms to be charged the exact same allotment of cash – $98.99! Last time I checked, the Aussie dollar and that of the American were very similar, so I am at a loss as to why the game is set at such an exorbitant price on this particular side of the hemisphere. I remember when Halo HD came out; it was only $60 over here, which seemed rather cheap – especially when in contrast to the rebooted version of Doom 3 in HD.

However, this post is meant to be about Doom 4, so back on topic. What has been unveiled so far by some of those involved in the project, is that the graphics are meant to be ‘awesome’ and better than that of Rage, but will run at a slower frame rate at only 30 bits per second, whilst Rage ran at 45. The game is additionally not a prequel, nor a sequel to Doom 3 or any of the other titles in the franchise, and is not intended to be a reboot, but a standalone game in the Doom universe. It however is meant to be similar to that of Doom 2, in that it is set on Earth. The forces of hell have torn the planet a new one, with the world of Doom 4 set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, which seems to be the current setting for many an id game. The game sees the remnants of the human race, in particular, what is left of their military fighting for survival against the forces of hell. Other than that, very little is yet to be showcased, with id specifying that any and all trailers and clips that have been showcased thus far to be fakes, and that when they finally do unveil any content to the public, the fan boys will be thrilled beyond belief.

With that in mind, since the contents of the game are still yet to be brought to light, I thought I might compile a list of what I would like to see in the future of the world of Doom.

One: I would like the option of playing as either a bloke or a chick. Such would spice up the battles and bring a different flavor to the fight. We have played as blokes for so long, so why not take time out and play as woman?

Two: I would like around 95% of the game to be set on one’s lonesome – basically, I do not want any back up most of the time. Doom has proven over its longevity that it is about taking on the forces of hell all by yourself, so why trade tradition in for a team based shooter?

Three: I would like the next gen Doom game to last me a while. I remember Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 lasted me seven hours and eighteen minutes on the highest difficulty setting – not very long I will admit. Halo Reach however lasted me approximately 25 hours on the highest setting – now that is the kind of length I would be more impressed with.

Four: I would like to see all of the monsters from the original Doom and Doom 2 games, along with the creatures from Doom 3, and a couple of new ones tossed in to add more spice to the fight.

Five: I would like the Cacodemon to be red and have one eye. I mean, back in the original, he was pretty cute – that is of course when his giant fire balls weren’t depleting your health of forty five hit points per attack cuz you failed to have any armor on…

Six: I would like the creatures to be really hideous. Many a time during the development of games when the designers showcase the way creatures are going to look, they seem far more gruesome initially than when they do when the game is finally released because additional changes were made. This is reflective of many titles, but a great example would have to be the third installment of the Doom franchise. The Lost Souls for instance, were far more gruesome during their initial unveiling a year before the game was finally released, when the faces of the creatures were far more uninviting, whilst the latter versions had far smoother features that were not covered in blood. Additionally, the original conception of the Arch-vile was friggin’ grim, the creature being a cadaver, with flesh hanging from its limbs, blood dripping from its torn body and fire encasing its hands. The final version was a thin white creature with a flawless complexion – not exactly the creature from hell’s dominion, eh? More like a Caucasian pyromaniac waltzing around in his birthday suit.

Seven: I would like the game to have a pretty good story. Often in games, the likes of Prey, Bioshock, Halo 3 and Mass Effect, it is great to have a story where your character needs to save someone of importance to them, whether it be a friend or loved one. This would be a good theme to have throughout the piece.

Eight: Although I would like a story, I would also like the game to be restored to its original roots. The original 2 Doom games were quite open, whilst the third installment kept the player stuck in repetitive corridors where it was difficult to maneuver. In the originals, the levels were not linear, but that did not matter, and the primary goal was to get in, and then get out alive, with keys having to be often found to ensure the completion of this goal. The return of this, along with the score the player gains upon completion of each level, with perhaps a reward for gaining 100% quota for all avenues, would be quite impressive.

Nine: I would like the bodies of the dead to remain. In almost every game today, as soon as you kill a bad guy, their body simply vanishes into thin air. Back in the days of Doom, Heretic and Hexen, this did not occur, and I would like to return to this. Having the bodies remain allows one to remember their accomplishments. Not having them – it’s like walking through a ghost town after you’ve killed all those who once resided in it. It is quite depressing. At least the dead provide you with, all be it, limited company.

Ten: I would like the health and armor hit points to go all the way to a thousand! Bearing in mind, this can only be achieved by picking up those tiny pickups or through using those special mega spheres.

Eleven: I am worried about the amount of violence, or perhaps the lack there of. The previous Doom game did not have much. True, the walls and floors wee drenched in blood, but the enemies gave off very little as you blew them away. Rage especially was a game that was so blood thirsty, you could take all of the spilled blood and store it in a vial approximately two centimeters in height! Doom was seen as the end of the world by those who do not wish to have an R18+ classification in Australia for games due to its excessive violence. I want Doom to be returned to its original violent state. I want the game to be drenched in so much blood once more, that you literally need a towel to wipe it from the screen.

Twelve: I want the A.I of the enemy to be quite impressive. In Doom 3, the former human opponents were smart enough to take cover – if there was cover to take, whilst the denizens of hell simply attacked the player with little regard for their survival. I would like to face off against an enemy who cared about living as much as they did about killing, which would be more challenging, cuz a creature that simply kills without mercy is not much of a threat when you have yourself a bazooka and all they have are a couple little arms and a fireball.

Thirteen: I want the games released on the non-PC platforms, in particular the XBOX360 version to come equipped with a split-screen multiplayer match capability. Online matches are all fun and good, but they lack one little thing; on XBOX live, you cannot physically see the other player – and therefore, you cannot yell at them and slap them over the head when you kick their ass from one side of the map to the next. That in itself, is classic. Kodak moments are born from moments like these!

Well, that is about it. I know, thirteen is an unlucky number, but since Doom is a game franchise where one tackles the hordes of hell, perhaps in this case it will bring good fortune rather than bad. Time can only tell I guess, and one can always only hope.

Video Games, Religion and Politicians – Not good bed fellows

 

What  people who don’t play video games say: ‘I don’t know about video games. They sound awful complicated.’

What people who don’t play video games would say if they played them: ‘Da! I shoot u ya BaSTarD! i kill u d00d, u r DOA lama!’

Maybe that is not what people inexperinced with the gaming world would say, but still, gaming has changed an awful lot since its orchestration. But I ain’t here to talk about the history – no, I am here to talk about the possible future. Films today in general are, can we say ‘not very good’? So many are total blow outs at the cinema. Creators and story tellers are running out of original concepts it might seem and are looking towards books for ideas. I mean, how many days was Twilight out before someone said ‘I could make a movie about that!’

When might this unfortunate occurrence hit the world of the video game? Perhaps it has already happened? We might be living in such a world right now. How so? For one, the sequel; almost every single game now-a-days comes with a sequel. And it ain’t like in Hollywood where you watch a film and the entire storyline plays out and then they create a brand new story line for the following title. No – games have sequels because the story gets to a certain point – and then gets chopped – only to be revisited in the following two games. Yes my friends, I am talking about the trilogy! Mass Effect, Gears of War, maybe even Crysis and Rage – all have elements of the sequel. Bearing in mind I am not complaining about the content – they were all equally awesome in their own way – but they were chopped off at points where they leave the gamer crying out ‘Oi! WTF!’, before forcing them to wait a cool 2-3 years for the next installment. I mean, who here has heard the rumor that a possible Doom 4 will come out in December of this year? Id and Bethesda have been awful quiet, but still – that there is the sequel at work. We gamers are but slaves to it, for if we liked the predecessors then of course we are going to buy the sequel – even though by the time the sequel comes out it is twice as expensive as the game that came before it in the series when released a few years before!

Secondly, there is the HD version of games. When people run out of ideas, they plan to remake the old!
Recently the creator of Alone in the Dark specified how he wished to create a HD version of the original concept that was designed back when games were but new and people looked at them with suspicion. Halo HD, Silent Hill HD collection, Serious Sam HD…Duke Nukem, released on XBOX360, PS3 AND PC 2010, but in old graphics format (never released in Oz though). The problem with the HD versions of games, or the re-release of them is…that they never offer anything new or exciting. No new weapons. No new levels. In fact, they often take segments out. Serious Sam had no Split Screen function on XBOX360 and several movie clips were removed from the campaign. Halo HD had no new weapons or abilities and almost all of the original multiplayer maps failed to make a return. However, imagine what Doom or Doom2 would look like in HD! Now, that is one wet dream of mine I would like to see become real…

…then there is the whole concept that video games are the root of all evil; that they cause violence in society and turn children into uneducated delinquents. Of course, the people who always make these comments are those of whom in society would not know a video game from a glass of water. Take Australia for instance. No ‘R 18+’ rating all these years, and on January 1st 2013, they intend to have a ‘test run’ of this rating system. That don’t sound all too ominous to me, but if it means I will temporarily have no restrictions on my games, then I am fine with it for as long as it lasts. For years Australian gamers have been craving such a rating as to be treated like adults rather than little children who desperately need protection. There is such thing as too much protection. Most gamers are between the ages of 18-32. Don’t tell me they require parental protection?! When will these restrictions begin to grow more lenient? Or are they to grow more fierce as the years go by?

The politicians are in constant debate over this notion for an ‘R18+’ rating, yet no politician plays video games, so what is the point of having people with no knowledge on such subject matter making choices that ultimately affect the world of gaming in one entire country? All be it, not a very large one, but a country all the same! According to gaming specialists who accuse games of being violent, ‘Doom’ was basically the beginning of the end for our society, yet none of these speculators have any actual evidence to support their ridiculous claims that gaming causes intense violence amongst its community. Apparently earlier in the year a known gamer defecated in the hall of the hotel they were staying in. Yes, that might not be the smartest thing to do when travelling the world, but still – I have not played a game where shit was used as the primary weapon.

What really shits me (pardon the pun) is when groups who have no real say in the world about games decide to put their bib in. Before March, when it was decided an ‘R18+’ rating would be allowed in Australia, the last meeting on the subject occurred in around August of 2011 in Brisbane where the members of parliament involved in the meeting came together for three hours. There are a cool couple million people in Oz who play video games, and the government decides to give away three hours of their precious time for video games? They spend more time giving each other additional surpluses of money on the general public’s dime! After this meeting occurred and it was said that the politicians left without an informed decision – a Melbourne Christian group came out and said this decision was a win for them. Why did they need to comment anyway? Not one of them had ever played a game, yet they were frequently accusing games of spreading the root of sin!

On top of this, it is almost ironic for a Christian group to come out and accuse video games of being the excuse for the world’s problems. Video games it would seem are nothing more than a scapegoat in the eyes of such organisations that wish to change the world to that which they want. Why can’t it be that some people are just naturally arseholes? Why does it have to be that everyone began as ‘good’ people, and then played a video game and then, and only then, did they turn into raving nut cases? It’s rich that Christian groups like the one that saw video games as an antagonistic evil labeled it as such, specifying that they should be banned and restricted. Now, what I am about to say is going to seem quite controversial to some, but couldn’t religion and Christianity be viewed in the exact same light as video games?…

Now, I may be an atheist, I will admit it, but that does not mean that I naturally despise religion. It simply means that I can look at it, discuss it and interpret it without being blinded by personal religious bias. But, I digress.

 …Seriously – if video games are responsible for but even one death, and I ain’t saying that they are – I can assure you, religion is responsible for more deaths in the entire human history than anything else combined. Video games are considered harmful to the people – they promote violence supposedly. Couldn’t religion be articulated in the same light? The Crusades – hundreds upon thousands of people slaughtered by armies of Christian soldiers just because they chose not to believe in Jesus Christ. And what about extremists? Are not their causes religious too? On top of this, Christianity reaffirms the idea that a person can kill and kill again and not feel at all guilty for their crimes – hell, a person could kill a million people, go to Church, ask God for forgiveness, and it shall be granted to them. Then, they will not only feel free of guilt – but will probably go out and kill another million people and feel the same exact lack of guilt immediately afterwards.

Moreover, video games are seen as been dangerous for children. Here’s a question for you – how many times have you heard a report on the news that a child has been grievously injured by a video game? Has been influenced to bring harm to another individual because of a video game? Now, with those answers in mind – how many times in the news have you heard reports that a priest or member of the church has sexually assaulted a young boy?

If you intend to ban video games, or restrict the content within them, then why not ban every single thing that is potentially hazardous to one’s health, regardless if there is verified proof to back up the allegations or not. This not only includes religion, but what about driving one’s car around? Having a shower? Walking down the street? Joining the military? Becoming a law enforcement officer? When will it end? Almost every single thing in the entire world can be seen as a tool for violence if it is interpreted that way. My idea – if we removed every single supposedly violent thing from our society, we would no doubt be relegated back to the Stone Age for anything and everything can be used aggressively if placed into the hands of a violent aggressor. On top of this, I would recommend that one does not quickly judge something before they have all the facts to make a substantial case. Not only is doing this foolish, ignorant and boring because one is simply copying every other group or person like an army of brainless sheep – it is also blatantly rude to prevent people from experiencing their entertainment just because a couple people here and there have a supposed ‘problem’ with the product. If every single thing the church had a problem with was forever banned, there would be nothing but the church left in this world.

Is this the future of gaming – a restricted world where content is blocked and games are banned? Where restrictions reign supreme? I certainly hope not, and if so, it ain’t the kind of world I want to live in!

Thank you for reading

You know you have been playing video games too long when…

 

-you think by walking over things you will automatically pick them up.

-the last time you had a girlfriend, Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt.

-during a fight, you frantically look for the ‘b’ button as to perform a successful melee attack.

-you duck and roll into office cubicles rather than walk into them.

-at work, when a person throws a file at you, you quickly toss it right back from fear it might explode.

-you think your LAN connection is faulty when things go wrong in life.

-you would rather toss a hand gun than use it, preferring a minigun because if you want to kill something, the last thing you wanna do is miss.

-you think ‘Facebook’ is a Reaper indoctrination device.

-you and your friends walk around, bumping into any and all areas of the environment like a bunch of brainless bots.

-your fingers are permanently fixed into a claw from continued use of console triggers.

-you become annoyed when weapons do not load quite as easily in reality as they would in a video game.

-‘Tali, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?’ you ask your girlfriend who is in fact named Rachel, Stephanie or True.

-your boss fires you for failing to come to work for the past two weeks, and the last thing you ever say to the man is ‘but boss, the Krogan need me!’

-you feel more at home in sewers and ventilation shafts than in your own bedroom.

-you’ve sat on your ass, played video games and eaten food so often that the last time you saw the numbers 1,096 was on the bathroom scales.

-when purchasing clothing, you check the label to see how much damage resilience it will offer you.

-you are unable to perform a jump because your body is not equipped with a space bar.

-you remove all the doors in your house from their hinges and have everyone you love wear bells attached to their necks for their protection, along with your own, to ensure you know where everyone you care about is at any given time in your house as to not have them sneak up on you and force you to inevitably slay them.

-you look for the little blue ‘x’ button when entering and exiting vehicles.

-you can’t find your flashlight, so use a flame thrower or chain gun to light your way instead.

-when your wife throws items at your head even she is amazed when you duck and roll with record reaction time from the amount of practice you have received from battling killer mutants from outer space.

-at funerals, you wonder why the dead bodies do not fade away, and question the priests about whether there is a fault with their software when this fails to happen.

-you attempt to install cheat codes into your body as to allow yourself to walk through walls and have infinite ammo.

-you look for an invulnerability sphere at your local pharmacist.

-the sun hurts your eyes after you emerge from what feels like an eternity of gaming, whilst your beard seems a few meters longer than what it was when you began.

-to begin a conversation with a person, you wait until they are highlighted, or look over their bodies in the hopes of discovering a ‘use’ key.

-the growl of the dog and the meow of the cat cause you to leap over the couch for a better vantage point whilst reaching for your semi-automatic.

-you take a vowel of celibacy as to lose your virginity to an Assari Huntress.

-you take an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, not Role Playing Game!) to your high school reunion cuz you know when the shit hits the fan an area effect weapon is better than a pistol.

-during game play, when an enemy attacks your character, you slide off your chair as to tactically avoid them.

-your television and monitor are riddled with bullet holes.

-your XBOX 360, PS3, keyboard and mouse require cleaning every couple days rather than every couple months.

-after playing a video game you need a long hot shower as to wipe away all the excess blood from your face, whilst your friends wonder why you are covered in so many scars and bruises.

-your girlfriend’s snoring reminds you of the Hell Knight from Doom…and makes you consider leaving the chainsaw beneath your bed from fear she might actually be the Hell Knight from Doom.

-you dress up as your favorite video game character for conventions, Halloween and all manner of other occasions, but your friends always recognise you.

-you move all of your first aid kits closer towards your game console.

-you mistake your wife’s best friend’s boob job for a couple rocket launchers.

-you randomly speak your mind, knowing if you do something wrong, you can always load from the last check point.

-your trigger finger twitches whenever someone enters the room.

-you ask for the Quad Damage weapon multiplier at the local gun store.

-all of your consoles automatically boot directly into your favorite games unless you press a specific key.

-you find yourself looking for Kevlar and anti-radiation suits at your local K-Mart.

-when buying a helmet, you ask the shop keeper for the one with the A.I port at the rear.

-you don’t bother turning on the lights because you know your eyes come with a night sensitivity mode.

-when a man insults you, instead of saying ‘I challenge you to a duel’ you say ‘I challenge you to a deathmatch!’

-you don’t worship God – no, you worship the Covenant forerunners.

-you walk up and down the super market complex looking for ‘Citadel Souvenirs.’

-when sick, you ask the doctor for a stim-pack.

-you look for sniper towers in toilet cubicles and elevators.

-you‘re annoyed when your parents buy you the new car they have been promising you – only to find it was not a Warthog.

-you find it odd when your environment does not stall or become pixilated.

-during physical altercations you ask your opponents to pause so you might heal.

-you think the mole on your left wrist is in fact the Omni-tool activation switch.

-you quickly run in and out of rooms, watching your back to see what creature follows you out.

-you choose to play a video game rather than spend the night with a woman. Funny fact; in 2009, a survey in Australia looked at male gamers – the question? Would you rather spend the night playing a video game, or spend the night with a woman. 78% of those surveyed – said they would rather spend the night playing a video game.

-your girlfriend leaves you, slamming the front door as it comes back to knock her in the ass. She cries at the top of her lungs ‘you love your friggin’ game box more than you love me you selfish bastard!’ You don’t twitch nor flinch as you persist in trying to eliminate the final boss at the end of the game. Besides, saving the universe from total destruction is more important than she was, right?

-during conversations, you pause as to allow time for the next conversation option to appear before your eyes.

-you believe certain mushrooms will bestow onto you a temporary boost of magika.

-you walk into Best and Less and ask where they keep their Spartan Armor.

-you barter for random goods and services, and try to sell goods you don’t need back to perspective shop keepers.

-you squint your eyes, rub at them and close them completely, wondering why it is that the crosshairs are not appearing.

-you volunteer to carry your all of your friend’s goods, along with your own, from the belief that you can carry several hundred kilograms worth of equipment before becoming over encumbered.

-you think it’s odd that the bodies of all the women you know look different rather than similar and that their breasts are not huge and cumbersome.

-you think during the two minutes it takes you to walk from one side of the house to the next you can experience morning, noon and night.

-your friends are worried that you are not getting enough sun, explaining to you this is the first time you have been out of the house in the past six months.

-you go pressing up against walls in the hopes that one might open to reveal a secret area.

-you randomly look around your environment, hoping to find spare ammo clips.

-you search your girlfriend’s body for the following pieces of equipment; power cables, the ‘on’ switch, volume control and the mute button.

-you are so used to been called ‘marine’, ‘Shepherd’ or ‘Master Chief’ that when someone actually says your name you simply ignore them.

-when at the local car dealership you notice the vehicle you are after is not present and so ask if they have run out of Ghosts’.

-at the local shooting range, you ask the clerk behind the desk for the BFG.

-when you look at your reflection in the mirror you expect to find the ‘change appearance’ button.

-you pick fights with people, knowing that if you lose you can always respawn at full strength.

-when you enter a friend’s house you always look for where their flag is located so you might steal it and take it back home with you when they’re not looking as to score yourself a point.

-you believe every locked door can be opened with a red, blue or gold keycard.

-you are constantly being arrested for the minigun emplacement attached to the rear of your vehicle.

-you frequently wonder why you feel pain when injured.

-your best and most truest friend is a five inch tall, seven year old woman named ‘Cortana’.

-during family altercations, you reach for your assault rifle, believing a team deathmatch is on the verge of beginning.

-you side step down hallways as to avoid your work colleagues from fear they might assault you.

-you haven’t been able to open your fridge in the past two weeks because you are having difficulty locating the ‘use’ key.

-when your girlfriend blows you a kiss, you leap out of the way to avoid it whilst reaching for your shotgun.

-you don’t care so much when you are gravely ill or dying because you’ll probably be able to find one of those mega-health’s lying around.

-your favorite Backstreet Boys, Lady Ga Ga and Daughtry albums are left in the corner of your bedroom gathering dust, whilst the illegally downloaded music files from Halo, Doom and Mass Effect reach the rank of ‘most played’ in Windows Media Player.

-you expect to receive ‘paragon’ every time you say something nice.

-you wonder why you have five fingers on your hand rather than three.

-you constantly find yourself wondering why everything is not in third person mode.

-you think you are ill when your HUD does not appear before your eyes.

-‘I’ll be there in a minute honey, just let me finish this level’ is your most frequently used expression.

-when you open a door, instead of turning on the lights, you toss a grenade into the room.

-where everyone else puts on trunks or a bikini (if you swing that way), you equip anti-radiation suits before entering swimming pools.