Sonic Colours Wii Review

Yes… Another Sonic review…

Sonic Colours, that’s colours with a U by the way, is another step in the right direction. It took the best part of Sonic Unleashed (also with a U), that’s the incredibly fast and enjoyable day stages for those of you who aren’t keeping up (pun intended), and made a whole game of it. But don’t think Sonic Colours hasn’t brought anything new to the table.

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Gears of War 3: RAAM’s Shadow DLC Review

RAAM’s Shadow was released as downloadable content for Gears of War 3 yesterday on the Xbox Live marketplace for 1200 Microsoft Points. The DLC is around 3 hours in length, 2GB in size, and adds 250 Gamerscore to the retail game across 10 achievements that are unlocked over multiplayer, campaign and a mixture of the two.

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Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Wii Review

I know it’s a little bit late, but I’ve had this review sitting around on my computer for ages, and being as though I’ve just reviewed a game that’s brilliant and amazing, I thought I’d show the other end of the spectrum. So here’s my review of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Wii.

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Sonic Generations Xbox 360 Review

Right, so, hello. My first review. Well let’s get straight into it, shall we?

Sonic Generations

As soon as I first played Sonic Unleashed in 2008, it became the best game I’d ever played. And it managed to hold that spot for almost 3 years. But then came Sonic Generations. It kicked Unleashed off it’s throne, and it’s gonna take a damn good game to take it from Generations. On a side note, Unleashed still holds the title as best Wii game I’ve ever played, and considering the Wii is my favourite console, not a bad title.

So what’s so good about Generations? Allow me to demonstrate. Classic Sonic is running through Green Hill, on his way to kick Robotnik’s arse, when he’s sucked up by a creature known as the Time Eater. Meanwhile, 20 years in the future, Sonic is enjoying his birthday with his friends, when the same thing happens to them. Sonic ends up in a white void, with numerous places from his past, and most importantly, himself from the past. He must team up with his past self, to stop the Time Eater, and save the world, and his friends.  Continue reading

Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation Map Pack Review

The Escalation Map Pack was released exclusively on Xbox 360 on the 3rd of May 2011. It features 4 new multiplayer maps, Zoo, Convoy, Hotel and Stockpile. It also introduces a new zombie game mode, entitled “Call of the Dead” in which up to 4 players battle against the increasing odds and waves of zombies sent at you by the legendary horror Director, George Romero. He’ll be roaming around the map with a lighting prop. Try and stay clear of him, and whatever you do, don’t shoot him.

The multiplayer aspect of the map pack has been implemented into the game’s playlist rota, with there being an Escalation mode in the hopper with sub-categories of Team Deathmatch, Domination, Search & Destroy and Mosh Pit. The four maps will eventually be added to the main Core, Hardcore and Barebones playlists as were the First Strike maps.  Continue reading

First Impressions: Gears of War 3 BETA

[UPDATE] This post is a little bit later than I had hoped, I got sidetracked by playing Portal 2, and haven’t got as much playtime on this as I had originally planned. I’ve managed to play 92 games at last count, and gotten a game on all four beta maps even Old Town due to an error when the servers were offline. So thanks for that Epic, it’s given me a bit of a head start. A quick thank you to ChatFlap for the mention on his week-daily Vlog last week. Thanks Joe ♥
Now onto my first impressions.

The Gears of War 3 Beta was finally available to the luck people who invested in the Bulletstorm Epic Edition today at 10:30 GMT. Around 500MB of downloading content later, I was online on Gears 3, and this game could be sold tomorrow as a retail game.
Loading up the initial start menu, you can see how Epic have taken ideas from other highly successful franchises such as Call of Duty and Halo, and implemented them into the heart of the system, albeit with a spin on it only Epic could pull off. Continue reading

Halo Reach Defiant Map Pack Review

The Halo Reach Defiant Map Pack was released today and is available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800MSP. It can be queued up for download here. The Defiant Map Pack consists of 2 competitive maps, Highlands and Condemned, and a brand new firefight map, Unearthed. The map pack also adds on 3 new achievements for Halo Reach, with it totaling 59 achievements for 1440 Gamerscore overall.

On a side note, I’d just like to point out that some gamers are encountering problems with the maps being loaded and recognized in-game. Bungie addressed those issues earlier with the resolve of going into your Xbox’s System Settings, finding a file called “Bungie Pro Confirmation” and deleting it. From that point on the game will be able to load the maps without any more issues. Deleting this message will not cause any problems with Bungie Pro, as it just a placeholder file that does not impact on the game. I can confirm that this works as my Team Impact teammate had this problem that was fixed by following those steps. If any problems persist you can read the full post at here.

Let’s start with Highlands, an objective oriented map set on Reach in the midst of the Covenant glassing the planet. I think canonically this is set near Castle Base, up in the mountains, but that’s just a personal opinion. Highlands is a great map, it has touches of Valhalla, Blood Gulch and Avalanche to it. Two bases either side of a stream running down the mountains. The palette in Forge is where the Valhalla feel really comes into it. There’s a mix of vehicles available, with Banshees and Falcons able to dominate the airways and Wraiths for Heavy variants. I could see a lot of these implemented into matchmaking in months to come. In matchmaking games however, Ghosts, Warthogs, and Mongooses default set on the map. To counter the vehicular slaughter that could take place, Certain Affinity have placed a Spartan Laser, a Plasma Launcher, two Sniper Rifles and a Grenade Launcher inside the crashed Pelican.

DMRs are placed in perfect positions around the map, up high and down low, at points where you may be lacking ammo or reloading, normally in an open placement with two grenades, with either fragmentation grenades or plasma grenades. Playing Stockpile on Highlands was a joy, as getting the Warthog to run the flags from one end of the map was so easy, I can imagine that Multi Flag CTF is amazing, and would bring a classic Halo feel back to it.

Condemned takes place on a partially destroyed UNSC base set high in orbit around Reach. This is a map oriented around Slayer gametypes, but does work well with Stockpile and Oddball gametypes. The main feature of Condemned that Certain Affinity have put in is a low gravity centre, that has been exposed to space from the oncoming Covenant Cruiser’s onslaught. The map is on a circular structure, with high and low parts, and nooks and crannies that can be explored along with gravity lifts and a beautiful sky-box. There’s a great amount of weapons, if a little overpowered. A rocket launcher, a pair of Sniper Rifles, shotguns, an energy sword. It just seems a little too much. I’d say that was the worst part of Condemned. A great feature is a Sabre docked in the repair bay. Unfortunate timing, as the facility seems to have been deserted. It was just 2 days away from retirement…

Unearthed is the final part of the Defiant Map Pack. A firefight map, it takes place on an abandoned mining facility during the Covenant invasion of Reach. This map has the same feel as Lost Platoon, an original firefight map from Halo 3: ODST. This map is great, I would love for more firefight maps to be added in DLC. It makes for great custom games, especially when another Impact teammate of mine insists on playing Firefight Versus. This map should take centre stage when talking about the Defiant Map Pack. It plays great, has a brilliant looking sky-box and scenery and the Phantom dropships and Drop pods enter the play area seamlessly.

There are two ways that Unearthed can be played. Either you can play it defensively, get a DMR from spawn, stick to the high ground, pick the grunts off as they progress to you, just make sure you watch each other’s backs when playing cooperatively and use your motion tracker at all times. No doing an Emile and getting stabbed in the back by an Elite. The second way that you can play is by grabbing the Rocket ‘hog that’s in the garage grab a gunner and meet the Covenant head on. Grab a person in the triple kill seat with a shotgun and another person in a hijacked Ghost or Wraith and you’re set, especially until you encounter a Hunter or two. Those Hunters, even on Normal, can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting team, on either play-style.

In one word the Defiant Map Pack is amazing. Well worth the price tag of 800 Microsoft Points. Certain Affinity and 343 Industries should be proud with what they have done with Bungie’s swansong to Halo. Definately deserving of a download in my eyes. I’ll see you on the battlefield.

First Impressions on Pokémon Black

Back in 1996, Satoshi Tajiri, and Nintendo released two Game Boy games Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue (Pokémon Green in Japan). “Pocket Monsters” or Pokémon, as they were referred to in the United States and Europe, small creatures that you embarked upon a journey to capture all 150 of them. Along the way you battled other trainers of increasing difficulty, defeating Pokémon Gym leaders to the Indigo Plateau, where you went against the top 4 trainers in the land of Kanto, the Elite Four. Once you defeated the Elite Four, you were given a final battle against the Pokémon Champion, your rival and childhood friend.

Fast forward 15 years and 4 different handheld consoles to 2011. Where the success and popularity of Pokémon ceases to be swayed by the current economic climate. As of writing, Nintendo released that both the Pokemon Black and White Version’s combined sales reached 1 million in just one day in the US. Pokémon has gone through a lot over the last 15 years. 5 generations of Pokémon games: Red/Blue/Yellow, Gold/Silver/Crystal, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, and now Black/White. Each generation of Pokémon expanded the Pokédex that the previous iteration used, from 151 to 251, to 386, to 493, and to the current 649 variations of Pokémon.

Now, down to main event. My first impressions on Pokémon Black Version. I recieved my copy in the post on Monday morning, along with the Game exclusive Reshiram and Zekrom printed Nintendo DSi, which I have to touch on, is the greatest handheld gaming device I have used to this day. The button placements feel right in your hand, the screen’s resolution is fantastic, and the internet ability you get on the DSi is brilliant, I would highly recommend if you don’t already to invest in a DSi or a 3DS when they’re released in your area. I’ll hopefully be in Birmingham on release day to check both the 3DS and the iPad 2 and do a write-up on them instore.

The graphics first of all are great. The overall look of the game is just stunning as it uses it’s 3D engine, something that Pokémon hasn’t done before. Normally in a city, as you wander around, the camera sticks on you, at a predetermined angle, and the buildings are set to that. But in Black and White, all the buildings have a front facing view, and a view for each side. The main reason for this is that when you walk into a building to enter it, the camera zooms a little in on you, and tilts so you see the door opening. This makes the game feel a a little more in-depth than previous titles, and more personal to you, as it shows that the game is following your story.

The battle engine has taken a major overhaul this time round, with fully animated battle sprites for Pokémon in battle. This gives Pokémon such as Manna, who floats, an animation that shows their legs moving underneath them, set off the ground. When attacking however the battle camera zooms in on the move slightly, following for example a tackle onto the receiver. When the move is finished, the game returns to it’s original camera, taking in both Pokémon on-screen. New inclusions for battling, that I’ve encountered so far are rotation battles, which are much more in-depth as you are able to switch Pokémon around in a 3v 3 situation where only the Pokemon on point can attack. Although to be honest I haven’t fully grasped the concept of rotation battles yet, as I’ve only experienced it once.

As you start off in Black, for the first time you have two rivals, Cherim and Bianca, who choose the other 2 starters that you didn’t, either Snivy, Tepig or Oshawott. Cherim however will always choose the Pokémon with the type advantage over you,  where as Bianca will be at a disadvantage. As always, I chose the Grass type starter, Snivy, which has followed the trend of mine, joining Bulbasaur, Chikorita, Treecko and Turtwig in the exclusive club. Not to give any spoilers away into the main plot, the main villainous group this time around is Team Plasma, hellbent on freeing Pokémon from their trainers, for the greater good. So we have a Pokémon game with the main bad guys having a moral issue with the concept of the game, and trying to create an idealistic world with the use of Pokémon kept to a minimum. Nice mindf*ck there Game Freak.

The playability of Pokémon is better than ever in my opinion. I’ve really grown to accept this generation of creatures as true Pokémon due to there being no inclusion of the other 493 until after game completion, which is a nice touch giving these guys a chance to stand on their own away from the Pikachus and Marills which dominated the games up to Platinum. Online is a dream, and although I’ve barely tested it out, my first match was great to set up and play, and although the game is still limited by Friend Codes for a custom 1 v 1, it makes up for it with the awesome playability level that it has. I’ve had the game for a little over under 72 hours and I’ve managed to rack up around 15 hours on it, and I’m onto the 5th gym, with 50 Pokémon in my Pokédex, although the game is a little slow for the first 6/7 hours. So the length of the game may be definately over 150 hours to complete 100%, as an estimate.

Pokémon Black Version is without a doubt my absolute favourite Pokémon game, despite lacking in an Umbreon availability to start. It unquestionably the most in-depth title in the series and a must have game for the DS. If you have a DS and some time that you want to fill, I’d recommend this game in a heart beat.


First Impressions on Madden NFL 11

Madden NFL 11 is the latest of EA’s officially licensed American Football in a long line of annual installments. Madden NFL has improved year after year, and has definitely continued the tradition by adding some innovative new features, including “Gameflow” and the ability to use the Xbox Live headset as a Coach in your ear. Online team play is also included in the game.

Well, where to start with Madden? I suppose the best place to start is the exhibition match mode. You can choose any of the 32 NFL teams from the NFC or AFC, or any of the AFL teams, which, as compared to a game such as FIFA has over 30 Leagues to pick from, it makes a good addition. With gameflow enabled the game is able to run at a reasonable pace unlike in previous encounters I’ve had with Madden games.

The soundtrack of Madden 11 is amazing. Truly amazing. Here’s the listing of the original songs that are heard in-game:

  • AC/DC – Thunderstruck 
  • Archie Eversole – We Ready
  • Blur – Song 2
  • Bush – Machinehead
  • Guns N’ Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
  • Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil’ Wayne – Let It Rock
  • Kiss – Rock and Roll All Nite
  • Ozzy Osbourne – Let Me Hear You Scream
  • Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
  • The Hives – Tick Tick Boom
  • Todd Rundgren – Bang the Drum
  • Ying Yang Twins featuring Homebwoi – Halftime

Also included in the soundtrack are “Team Fight Songs” such as “Bear Down Chicago Bears” and my personal favourite “Go Packers Go”.

The detail that EA have gone into on the character models is astounding.  The lighting has improved tremendously, even from last year’s game. The shadows on the field, the stands is brilliant. The improvements that have been made can be easily be seen in the screenshot from Madden 11 below.

The online for Madden has had a major update with there now being an up to 3v3 online team play mode that can be played with friends or by searching for a game online. The ultimate team mode that I have known from FIFA 09 is in this game, and the team’s that you create in this mode can be used in an online match, which is a great feature that I will need to test out as soon as someone on my friends list gets the game.

Overall, Madden 11 is the best American Football game to date in the franchise’s history. If you enjoy watching NFL, then this game is for you. If you want to get into the game, and learn what it’s all about, then this is a great stepping stone. I highly recommend this game to someone who is 50/50 on whether to get this game, as even if you struggle to get the game at first, it is very easy to pick up and play, and the Instant Replay mode will keep you occupied for hours.

First Impressions on Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood MP

I reckon that as Level 15 on Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s Multiplayer mode, I’m able to
give my views on the good and bad points of the Online Experience.

The premise of the multiplayer modes comes down to two different factors. How many points you can get for one kill, and how long can you hide for. These give off a certain amount of bonus points and add up at the end. The individual or team depending on the game type with the highest score at the end of the game wins. There are currently 6 different playlists live on Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Wanted, Manhunt, Alliance, and an Advanced Variant of the playlist which doesn’t tell you whether you enemy is above or below your position.

Wanted is an 8 player mode which puts all 8 Abstergo agents into a free for all environment in which you are given another player to hunt down and kill, whilst you have a target on your head. In theory, at the start of the game, P1 is hunting P2, P2 > P3, P3 > P4, and so on. Once you kill your target, kill a civilian or give your position away and lose chase, the computer automatically selects you a new target. The wanted playlist is possibly the only free for all playlist I would be willing to continue playing with friends, as it can never be taken personally as the selection is at random. All you are doing is hunting down a target at random.

Manhunt is a 8 player playlist currently available, pitting 2 teams of 4 against each other in a game of cat and mouse. The game takes place over 2 rounds, with each team having a go at attacking and defending. The first round has Team 1 attacking and hunting down Team 2 whilst the 2nd round has Team 2 on offence. When hunting, you have the ability to kill the enemy, but when defending you can only stun the targets in hope to escape. The tracker in Manhunt, along with alliance, allows the player to switch between targets by pressing left/right on the D-Pad to flick through. Manhunt becomes a game based around team strategy. Are you going to run along rooftops hoping to catch your enemy or are you going to be subtle and just walk behind your enemy and softly assassinate them? Are you going to stick in a pack hoping to stun the enemies one at a time? It all becomes a race to gain the most points and can become very frantic very fast. 

Alliance is the 6 player multi-team playlist, in essence, Wanted with a partner. The game takes place over 2 rounds of 5 minutes long. Team 1 hunts Team 2, Team 2 hunts Team 3, Team 3 hunts Team 1. The overall of this game type is great, but can become a bit dull if you’re hunting a team with either a really good or selfish teammate or keep running into your pursuers quite often.

Brotherhood uses a levelling up system of Experience points, that can be earned in games by doing specific actions or challenges within a matchmaking game. These can range from performing multi-kills, performing an assassination from within a hay bale or even as much as hiding in a crowd of people. After a game has finished, your EXP. is listed and detailed on-screen, with at time of writing, the most I have ever picked up post game is just short of 5000 EXP, after a game of Manhunt.

I find the maps on offer amazing, I really do. They seem to be overall some of the best maps I’ve played an online game on. With so many corridors and paths it can be hard to tell which way is the best to attack your enemy from. On the maps themselves there are AI, that resemble the multiplayer models you can choose from, with my personal choice being “the Courtesan”, but these also include “the Executioner”, “the Barber”, and “Harlequin”.

The HUD is a very important part of a multiplayer game, and the HUD in Brotherhood is an example of how should be done right. Your character model is in the centre of the screen, bottom left is your perks that can be activated with each the shoulder buttons, these can vary from added Sprint for 5 seconds or a 90 second to reload pistol. Top right of your screen is your target, who you’re hunting down. How close you are can be gauged from the compass in the bottom middle of your screen. When your target is by you, the compass fills up, and goes down when you are further away, but shows you the direction in which they are. When they are in your sights, the compass glows and the blue bar almost turns to white. The centre circle of the compass tells you whether the target is above or below you. In the advanced game modes, this feature is turned off.

Brotherhood’s multiplayer mode is one that I know I’ll be spending much of 2011 playing and enjoying. With only a few down points such as the fact that some people’s connection allow them to get the kill before I stun them, or that occasionally the ability for me to connect to a couple of the games is lost, that shouldn’t detract from the overall game, as it one of the most solid multiplayer games of the last 12 months. The incentive to reach level 50 and unlock more perks and character models that I’ll go over at a later date, once I unlock more and progress deeper into the online experience. Until then, I highly recommend Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, for both the offline single player story and for the online experience.