F.E.A.R. 3 – impressions


How does one stand out in a crowded genre?  With the first game in this acclaimed series, developer Monolith Studios successfully combined the gun blazing fun of Call Of Duty with the slow-motion cool of Max Payne then sprinkled on some eerie horror inspired by Japanese horror Ring.  This winning formula spawned an equally successful sequel, but now with original developer Monolith jumping ship to make way for Day One Studios, can the same magic still remain intact?

On the surface the answer to that question is a resounding yes.  I was at first worried due to this game’s complex ranking system and wealth of multi-player modes, meaning I expected the single-player campaign to be a brief and unfulfilling diversion.  Thankfully the single-player is a fully fleshed out continuation of the story, with you as series hero Point Man breaking out of Prison with your undead serial killer brother Paxton Fettal.  Now it has to be said, the plot of these games has never been the series’ strong point, and I admit to being totally clueless to what is going on.  But none the less the action is solid, filled with some great atmosphere and decent level design taking you through shopping malls, suburban neighbourhoods and city streets to name but a few.  The game feels a little more out in the open than the corridor based action of its brethren, but no less fun.  Perhaps a change of developer means the gameplay is a touch less refined and at times b****** hard, but the weapons are fun and overall I’m enjoying it.

I haven’t explored the multiplayer modes, as I’m not a big fan of playing games online (normally because I get my ass handed to me), but the inclusion of being able to control your brother on a second play through and have the ability to possess other characters in the game, is very intriguing.

For now though, if you liked F.E.A.R. 1 & 2, this is a must.

Alice: Madness Returns – impressions


In a games industry seemingly crowded by first person warfare shooters and simplistic casual family games, it’s good to actually play something that isn’t interested in trying to appeal to the widest audience possible or re-create New York city or a war-torn battlefield.  This is happy just being a videogame.  A sequel to the widely publicised but rarely seen American McGee’s Alice, this time on all platforms rather than just the PC, has you controlling an adult Alice as she tumbles into Wonderland once again following her release from a mental asylum as featured in the previous game.  Fans of the stories by Lewis Carol will be immediately familiar with the dream-like fantasy world, but this is certainly no children’s fairy tale, with Alice portrayed as a much more violent and attitude driven girl happy to bludgeon her enemies to death with a Hobby Horse or slice them to shreds with a Kitchen Knife.

Developer Spicy Horse have crafted a lovingly dark tribute to the classic stories with each location (each with its own distinct theme) beautifully realised if not exactly graphically ground-breaking on a technical level.  This game harks back to the classic days of the 3D platformer, a genre I’m sad to say seems to be disappearing at a rapid rate.  It feels very nostalgic to play though, and has some great ideas, inspired by the stories such as shrinking to discover hidden paths and get into otherwise unexplorable areas, and along with a good variety to the monsters and some quality fight mechanics with imaginatively bonkers weapons, this so far is a joy to play.  I’ve barely been off it and only received the game yesterday.

I have also come across some interesting diversions from the standard platforming and fighting mechanics, such as a side scrolling shooter level, some interesting, if simplistic puzzle solving (which suits me), and challenge rooms where you are set upon by a wealth of monsters and if you survive you win a section of a rose – which I’d guess fills up an extra rose on you health metre.  Very Legend Of Zelda.  Granted, the ideas aren’t exactly new, so if you’re looking for something fresh or innovative, then by all means look elsewhere, but if you want quality tried and tested gameplay, a classic platforming hack ‘n’ slash adventure with no end of imagination and a gorgeous visual style … then I’d recommend this in a heart beat.

Apparently the game clocks in at a good twenty hours with five very big chapters.  It’s not terribly tough however, so play on HARD for a more satisfying experience.

Note: The game comes with a code to allow you to download the original American McGee’s Alice, which is a great free extra but the game hasn’t aged well, and compared to the new game, the fight mechanics and control system (converted from PC’s mouse & keyboard to the 360 (or PS3) pad)  is not particularly well implemented.

What are Valve up to?


 

I’ve made no secret of my complete adoration for Half-Life developer Valve Software.  The often highly secretive games studio, that spawned also the likes of Left For Dead, Counter Strike and Portal franchises have a reputation for teasing hungry game fans with hints to new projects.  Yet the image above, taken by a fan who was able to visit the Valve offices a few weeks ago to find such artwork adorning a wall, teases us once again what the future may hold for Valve’s next release, post-Portal 2.

I for one think the image looks highly Half-Life styled, especially in respect of Half-Life 3.  Now some people have said it could be an all new game, something along the lines of Mass Effect.  Which granted would be cool, but considering the artistic design of Half-Life 2, it’s quite feesable this could be concept art for the next entry in the award-winning and much acclaimed series. 

Consider my fingers well and truly crossed.

More pictures HERE

My review of Half-Life 2

Crysis 2 – impressions


Have I been waiting eagerly for this!  The fabled sequel to one of the most acclaimed, graphically demanding games on PC now finally makes its way to consoles.  The jungle environment of the first game is swapped for the ‘urban jungle’ of New York City following an alien invasion, and you are a lone soldier forced to take matters into his own hands when you are given a prototype suite (the nanosuite 2.0) which enables you to take on the enemy with super human abilities.  On first impression, this very impressive looking game, featuring what has to be one of the best realised game worlds yet, this game offers a more tactical and at your own pace playing style compared to the follow the leader action-fest of Modern Warfare for example.  Here you get wide open areas where you can navigate the environment, climb up ledges and figure out your approach to certain destinations, whilst taking on the enemy either using stealth or going all guns blazing.  Enhancing this is the varied modes of the nanosuite, where you can use invisibility or enhanced armour for a limited time, making every fire fight unique and immersive.

I must applaud developer Crytek’s work on this as combined with the stunning visuals, the gameplay feels deep and enjoyable and I can see myself coming back to it many times after completion due to the fun the nanosuite offers.  On a side note the multiplayer, which I’ve only briefly dipped my toe in, seems well done and offers the perks and progression of Modern Warfare / Call Of Duty with the added tactics of the nanosuite for more imaginative gameplay.

I’ll report back on this at a later stage when I’ve seen all this has to offer for a fuller opinion.  For now though, I’m very impressed.

Portal 2 – bot trust trailer


Because this highly anticipated first person puzzle-game-sequel is going to be utter genius.  And very funny.

… released on PC / XBOX 360 & PS3 21st April 2011.