Wednesday, 23 July 2008

RBSV2 Early Impressions

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is the sequel to Rainbow Six Vegas, this is obvious. Both games are Tactical shooters. You roam around very linear levels with 2 comrades dispatching terrorists with merciful precision. The first act of the game is a tutorial to get you back in the groove of things but you are not doing this in some safe training facility, you are thrown into the first mission were you are told things on the go.

There are some minor differences to the first game that can be seen immediately. The bottom of the screen displays the xp you have accumulated. Xp is gained by killing terrorists in different way i.e. head shot, grenade, killing an enemy though smoke. Eventually you will get enough xp to rank up in a COD4 fashion, unlocking new gear for your character.

This was only a few thoughts having only played 30 mins of the game. Expect the full review soon.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

God Of War: Chains Of Olympus Early Impressions

Direct from an Internet cafe in the middle off Manhattan, boiling hot. (not kidding)

The God Of War series has proved very lucrative for Sony. Two fantastic releases on PS2 meant that a PSP version was imminent, from only two hours of gameplay you can see why this series is one of the best Action/Adventures out there. The full review will contain more info about story/ mechanics/graphics etc but its awesome.
The combat is visceral and exciting. The main character Kratos has a nac for killing people/beasts/undead in amazing ways. Every now and again, after beating an opponent within an inch of its life, a circle appears above its head. This is an opportunity to start one of the famous context sensitive finishing moves. Its is amazing how the developers Ready At Dawn, have found individual ways of killing the 100+ different monsters in the game but they have and each is fantastic and will have you grimacing or shouting with delight at your PSP screen.

The review for God Of War: Chains Of Olympus should be up by the end of the week, also impressions for the PSP version of MLB 08: The Show.


Monday, 7 July 2008

Soul Calibur XBLA Review

Soul Calibur was released in 1999 on the Sega Dreamcast four years after the Arcade and Playstation release of Soul Edge. The game was revolutionary with its introduction of the Eight Way Run allowing a freedom of movement that previous 3d fighters could not offer. The game was not well received in arcades and was ported over to the Dreamcast, the game has had a huge fan base ever since.

The XBLA version of the game is an emulation of the original Japanese Arcade version right down to the last detail, even the "Insert coin" text has been left in. The game includes all original 19 fighters, each with there own story, weapon, fighting style and speed. All the characters are available to play from the start including the five previously locked ones. It is quite an expansive roster of characters but some of them feel a little hollow. For instance the character "Lizardman" is very nineties and is exactly what it says on the tin, its basis in the Soul Calibur universe is a little tenuous.

The gameplay is very straightforward. Basically like any other 3d fighter you have come across but at the time it was a bit cooler. Every character has a kick, horizontal slash and vertical slash and it is up to the player to create combos.

The visuals have not been updated but this is still a great looking game. The character design is fantastic and still very original. The backgrounds do look fairly dated and very flat but they retain that charm. The effects when charging up an attack are great and surprisingly still stand up today. The animation was and still is amazing, characters flow between moves. This game was the blue print for how all later Soul Calibur games would look and a showcase for what the Dreamcast was capable of.

In terms of modes it pretty standard stuff you've got, Arcade, Vs Battle, Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival, Extra Survival and Practice. Extra Survival is unique to Soul Calibur were its basically sudden death. Enemies are thrown at you in quick succession and its your job to hit the before they hit you. As you would expect the difficulty ramps up as you progress further and further through each of these modes (except practice of course) but it never gets to punishing on the medium difficulty setting once you understand your characters moves.

In terms of XBLA features it pretty bear. The only new addition to the game is leaderboards for Survival, Extra Survival and Time Attack which all work great but online play would have made this game even better than it already is. However it is worth bringing up that 800mp for this game is a fantastic price for what you get.

Soul Calibur maybe just a straight emulation of the original game with leaderboards, but the quality of the game itself is so high that even nearly 10 years after its release on the DreamCast it still stands up as one the greatest fighting games of all time. 9/10

Soul Calibur is available for 800mp on Xbox Live.

Halo 3 Multiplayer Review

Halo is a first person shooter series created by Bungie Studios. The series has become widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. This review talks about the multiplayer only.

At launch in September 2007 there were 10 multiplayer modes to choose from that were split up into two playlists, ranked and social. The modes varied dramatically from team deathmatch to races but mechanically they were all the same. About one year on, Bungie has expanded the amount of playlists and increased the number of modes,giving the muliplayer even more longevity.

There are over 17 maps to choose from at the time of writing this. Each is dramatically different and specifically tailored to suit a specific mode. For instance "Avalanche" and "Sandtrap" are both very large maps and are ideal for vehicles and "Big Team" matches. Maps like "Foundry" and "Guardian" are much smaller and compact, better for the "Lone Wolves" (deathmatch) or "Team Doubles" game modes. Bungie have released several map packs over Xbox Live.

A big part of the multiplayer experience in Halo 3 is ranking up. Every time you win a match you are a given xp. Get a certain amount of xp and you rank up. This is fairly superficial, ranking up does not change your gameplay experience, it merely adds a minor form of progression that becomes fairly addictive after a while. In Halo 3 each multiplayer game mode has a leveling system but this is just a way for the robust matchmaking to match you up with players of a similar skill level. The player can also customize the appearence of his/her avatar,changing the colour of the armour.

Many people may criticise Halo 3s multiplayer for playing it safe and sticking to close to its predecessor and this is justified but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Bungie have done what they can to spice up the formula but have still retained the great action that made its predecessor so popular. 9/10

UPDATE: July 7th Bungie Day, new map Cold Storage made avialable for download. Now over 18 maps to choose from.