Thursday, 30 August 2007

Timeshift Demo Impressions

Timeshift has been a LONG time coming. Originally planned for the Xbox, it made it's shift (get it?) to the next (current) generation and now, it seems, is eventually being released.

So, at it's core, it's a FPS with destructible environments and time-warping abilities. Bored yet? I'll start with the good stuff, eh. The destructible environments are really impressive. Walls and pillars breaking away as you fire at you enemies looks sweet. But then, it did in the Stranglehold demo, too. A bit like the slow-mo... It's certainly lovely, but we've seen it in a fair few games haven't we? Max Payne, F.E.A.R (also made by Sierra, funnily enough), Far Cry and Stranglehold, all pull off bullet-time remarkably well.

Timeshift DOES have two other time-shifting abilities. Stopping time gives you a few, short seconds to run about unhindered, while reversing time enables you to wind the clock back and try things again. A bit like Prince of Persia and Full Auto, then... Ahem.

In all fairness, Timeshift seems to be a solid, well made game, from people who have great experience in creating FPS's. The level design ranges from ingenious to generic, but the good bits are great. It doesn't look like a game that's been upgraded from an old machine. There's loads of great particle stuff going on and nice weather effects. However, the 360 has MILLIONS (well, not quite) of FPS games and the temptation is to add this to the pile of mediocre ones. I can't help but feel that it would be more appreciated if Bioshock hadn't just been released and we weren't all waiting patiently for the Halo 3 release, just around the corner.

If you've already played through Call of Duty 2 and 3, Bioshock, Prey, Gears of War, F.E.A.R, Lost Planet, Perfect Dark Zero, and Far Cry, then you MIGHT want to give this a go. It's not that it's BAD.

You see, Bioshock (I'm getting bored of hearing it's name) doesn't have any fancy gimmick like Timeshift's time-warping. It just does everything else perfectly. It's a great demonstration of design and gameplay being FAR more important than just originality. Timeshift appears to have neither.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Okami on Wii?

Rumours are abound that Capcom's superb Okami is on it's way to the Nintendo Wii. If it does, I'll forgive my Wii for having no new good games ever, because it will be giving me, not only Okami, but the new Nights Into Dreams. Pleeeeease? :-)

Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday, 29-08-07


Today, we finally get the chance to play Capcom's BRILLIANT puzzler, Super Puzzle Fighter 2, in glorious high definition. They've cleverly named it Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD and it's lovely.

I've been a fan of Super Puzzle Fighter for years now. It's fast-paced and unforgiving and it's got a wonderful art style. Seriously, it's worth playing to see some of backgrounds to the stages. A Street Fighter beach scene with Deejay buried in the sand while Guile watches from a lifeguards tower, anyone? YES.

If you don't know, and you're stupid, Super Puzzle Fighter is a PUZZLE game, similar to Columns or Puyo Pop, that stars characters from Capcom's various famous 2D beat-em-ups. It's not just Street Fighter either! Felicia from Dark Stalkers pops up, as do various other familiar faces. And they're all in lovable super-deformed style meaning cuteness galore. As you score points, you're chosen character 'attacks' your opponent, meaning bombs fall on their screen, making it harder for them to clear blocks. As I say, it's tough but it's super fun.

The HD graphics look brilliant, on the whole. Almost everything looks sharp and crisp, with the exception being the characters in the centre of the screen. They're OBVIOUSLY enlarger sprites, and they're a bit blurry and splodgy. This clearly doesn't detract from the game, it's just a bit of a shame, really. When Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix is finally released, I'll be the happiest man alive, I reckon.

The other (surprise) appearance today, was Sega's classic, Streets of Rage 2. There's not a heap to say about SOR2, to be fair. It's a scrolling beat-em-up and it's pretty good, but not as good as Final Fight. The 'blurry' special graphics thing that looked great on Sonic predictably looks shit on this. Oh well. Where's Sensible World of Soccer, eh? :-(

Sensible World of Soccer - Sometime in 2007

I've just watched a new (and pointless) trailer on Xbox Live for SWOS. There's no release date it's still saying Summer 2007, then I read on the forum it's now September. I can't wait much longer...

Guitar Hero 2 - He's a Bit Good

Whilst searching for 8 year olds on youtube I found this video. This little bugger is playing on expert and misses about two notes, he's got a very annoying face.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Joust Movie Announced

Fuck off a hundred times.

Joust CANNOT be a film. It just CAN'T.

If, when released, it turns out to be good, or even just average, I'll eat my shoe. Really, I will.

It's set in the future. I bet future soldiers riding ostriches, jousting and then collecting giant eggs from their opponents will look awesome in huge CG, won't it? No. Fuck off.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 Demo Impressions

It's the same as the last years version.

I'll probably copy-and-paste this review for the next FIFA, NBA Live, NBA 2K, NHL Live, FIFA Street, Pro Evo, Madden, etc etc...

Monday, 27 August 2007

Why I Love Scary Video Games

I've just been sat playing Bioshock with my housemate Robbie. And it's absolutely scaring the crap out of me.

If you haven't played it yet, PLEASE go and download the demo now. It's a beautiful game, but what's more, it's frightening.

I love it when games harness some kind of emotion in you. That may sound stupid to people who don't really play games as much as I do, but games can have just as much, if not more, emotional power over you as films or literature. If a game can succeed in drawing you into it's world, like Bioshock does, then you're not just playing it, or watching it. You're experiencing it first hand. If something's scary, you can't just hide your eyes for five minutes. YOU have to walk down that corridor. YOU have to open that closet... I bloody love it.

Of course, horror isn't the only emotion that games will draw from you. Who didn't feel utter sadness when leaving Kokiri Forest and, more importantly, Saria in Ocarina of Time? What about when (*SPOILER*) Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII? And let's not even go into the 'emotions' Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball encourages.

But horror is my favourite. I remember playing Condemned on my 360 and being SO scared that I put Belle and Sebastian on full blast in the background to mask the screams and scary music of the game. I remember the absolute terror when the Hunters first made their appearance in Resident Evil and you knew that they were right behind you. Silent Hill (pictured) on the Playstation is my perfect horror game, though. It's creepy at times but it will also make you're heart race with every little thing it does. The music, the camera angles, the creatures and the bizarre storyline... They're all, for me, the best examples of horror and terror in video games. I finished it six times when it first came out. I can run through the game in about four hours these days, but the same things still make my skin crawl and make my hair stand on end. I love it to bits.

More horror, please! :-o

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Medal of Honor: Airborne Demo Imprssions

Medal of Honor: Airborne could be the best game in the world. It could revolutionise FPS's and have the best multiplayer mode since Halo 2.

Unfortunately, I STILL wouldn't give a shit, because I'm SO fucking bored of World War 2 games. By my count, there has been TWELVE Medal of Honor games since 1999. Not to mention the Call of Duty games, the Brother In Arms series, the Day of Defeat games, Hidden and Dangerous, the Wolfenstein games, Battlefield 1942, etc etc...

TWELVE MEDAL OF HONORS! The first one was alright, but it WAS on the Playstation which pretty much only had about two FPS games. So that's ok. I've got HUGE respect for Call of Duty for finally moving to a different theme for their new (and undoubtedly brilliant) game in the series. Wolfenstein returned after nearly ten years, but gave us zombies and black magic. Battlefield went all modern combat and it was ACE.

Why is EA's latest gimmick Parachuting? It's dull as fuck, guys. I've got Call of Duty 3 if I want to shoot Nazis.

If I want to be devils advocate, I'd say that the game looks good, and the enemy AI is really impressive. The Nazi soldiers are RUTHLESS and frequently catch you and your NPC team-mates off guard with a melee attack to the face.

But that doesn't matter. I'm bored of World War 2 and just want to play Bioshock.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Geometry Wars Is Back In PGR4

Hooray for Bizarre Creations! The lovely lads and lasses who make the Project Gotham Racing series have revealed that there WILL be an iteration of retro-shooting masterpiece Geometry Wars in Project Gotham Racing 4.

Named Geometry Wars : Waves, the title is exclusively available within PGR4 and will not be available for purchase through the Xbox Live Marketplace. While it's always nice to have a freebie, I wonder how Geometry Wars fans that weren't planning on purchasing PGR4 will react...

Me? I'll be first in the queue.

skate. Demo Impressions

I, initially, wasn't too excited about skate. (why is the punctuation of it so stupid?). I've always been a huge fan of the Tony Hawk games, even when everyone else had forgotten them. I've played through them all, and have only recently started getting a little bored of the formula and kinda wishing they'd update them a bit.

As it's pretty obvious that Neversoft have NO intention of updating their franchise, it's fallen upon EA to bring something new to the world of skating videogames. So, we have skate.

The demo went up a couple of days ago and I'm pretty much hooked. The important thing to know about this game is that you have to forget EVERYTHING you've got memorised from the Tony Hawks games and, literally, re-learn how to skate. Ollies and flip-tricks are all achieved using just the right stick. It seems like a really bizarre thing to get to grips with at first, especially if you've got in implanted in your brain to use a button to do all these things. But it just works. With one tiny change in control, EA have managed to not only revolutionize the way we should approach skating games, but to bring a control system that feels natural, realistic and, most importantly, extremely playable. Sure, you'll bail over and over again, at first. But then it kinda clicks and you'll, guaranteed, have the most fun since you played your first Tony Hawks, 1080, Cool Boarders, whatever...

As a side note, the game looks really swish. There's nothing you wouldn't expect, but it looks pretty, the animation is fluid and I've noticed very little in the way of glitches.

I'm seriously looking forward to the full game and am eager to see if the team behind this announce any other extreme sports games. They should! :-)

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday, 22-08-07

It's Wednesday again, which means more Xbox Live Arcade content to waste your Microsoft points on. Or not.

This week sees the release of Spacegiraffe and Street Trace : NYC onto the Marketplace.

Spacegiraffe, from Llamasoft, will set you back 400 points (about £3.00) if you decide to buy the full game. But I wouldn't if I were you. The game is a typical arcade style shoot-em-up, in a kind of mix between Space Invaders and Geometry Wars. You can move your ship from left to right, but your shots aren't restricted to just shooting vertically. You can tilt your weapons using the right stick. The visuals of Spacegiraffe, unfortunately, go a long way to ruining it. It looks JUST like the 360 (and Windows Media Player) visualisations when you play some music. By that I mean it looks like vomit. In space. You can't see what's coming. You can't see where you are shooting. It's boring and ugly. That's about it, really. Don't bother.

Street Trace : NYC (pictured) reminds me a lot of TrickStyle for the Sega Dreamcast. Like TrickStyle, you ride a hoverboard in the future and trick off ramps and grind around a 'used future' environment. UNLIKE TrickStyle, the game revolves around a deathmatch tournament, in which you fire rockets and drop mines to take out either AI or human opponents.

The game has a fairly slick, clean, cell-shaded look to it, much the same as Crackdown. But whereas Crackdown is one of the best games ever, Street Trace is shit. It's plays okay, but is ultimately let down but rubbish weapons, crap maps and no feeling of accomplishment when you take down an opponent by randomly firing into the air. It costs 800 points (about £6.00) with which you COULD buy Castlevania, Bomberman, Doom, Geometry Wars or countless other Live Arcade games that blow this out of the virtual water. Leave it well alone, please.

So, another crap week for the Live Arcade! Luckily, next Wednesday brings Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD and Sensible World of Soccer. FINALLY. I can't bloody wait. :-)

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

My First Virtual Console Experience

I know that this is very old news for most Wii owners, but today I had my first experience with Nintendo's Virtual Console and thought I'd share it with you. :-)

As soon as I heard that Super Metroid was going up, I rushed into town to buy my first Wii Points card. I'm sure they were about twenty quid (I might be wrong) but I got one from HMV in Derby for £14.99, which I was quite happy with. It's cheaper than the equivalent on the Xbox 360!

I added the points to my account, no problem. I've bought countless Microsoft points and the experience mirrored that almost exactly. The Wii shop is okaaay, but far too slow and is a bit simplified for my liking. I hate to suggest that Nintendo targets kids, but it does feel pretty 'interface by numbers' after the slick Xbox 360 dashboard and Marketplace.

But anyway, I couldn't find Super Metroid. It's not out on the UK Virtual Console yet! What!? That's rubbish. It put me in a bad mood, so I bought two Mario games to cheer me up. I spent 1000 points (£7.50) on Paper Mario from the N64 and 800 points (£6.00) on Super Mario World from the Super Nintendo. They downloaded in seconds and were added to my main Wii menu screen, as I'm sure you've seen in countless images since the Wii launch.

The games play okay with my Gamecube controller. The button placement is a bit lame for SNES games and it can't be customised which is absolutely ridiculous. It's made me consider buying a Classic Controller which I really didn't want to do...

But at the end of the day, the games are great. After all, they're some of the best games ever made. They're a bit bare bones if you're used to buying Xbox 360 Arcade games (which offer HD resolutions, achievements, Xbox Live content, etc...) but they're classics. And they're just the way Nintendo meant you to experience them first time round, for better or for worse.

I'll buy more Virtual Console games (when Super Metroid finally comes out...) and I'm sure I'll play my newly downloaded games loads. After all, there's been no new decent Wii games for a while, has there? :-p

Monday, 20 August 2007

Ubisoft Imagine Some Shit Games


Ubisoft are launching a series of DS games aimed at girls aged 6-14. As far as Imagine Babies is concerned, I'm just going to copy and paste the description here...

  • Take care of 6 babies (one after the other), each with a distinctive character. Prepare their bottle and baby food in the kitchen, check on the amount of food in stock and buy the right food according to their needs. Rock the babies in a cradle, put on the soothing radio or move the mobile to help them sleep or to calm them down. Change their nappies to keep them clean, keep an eye on their health and dress them up with different clothes
  • Entertain the babies - Play with them and their toys, play music to make them dance and take them into the garden to play on swings and other garden toys.
  • Exchange information, photos and clothing with other players through Wi-Fi.
  • Keep the house clean - Use fun mini-games to create a welcoming home for the babies: wash up, clean and vacuum, paint the walls, mow the grass, trim hedges and drive away spiders!
  • Make the house to your own taste - Use the money you earn and the vouchers you receive in succeeding in your missions - buy items at the shops to decorate the house.

Whatthefuck!? OF COURSE, what young girls like, these days, is looking after babies, cleaning the house and driving away spiders...

Coming too are Imagine Happy Cooking, Imagine Pet Vet and Imagine Fashion Designer. ARGH. :-(

European Xbox 360 Price Cut

FINALLY, Microsoft have seen it fit to bring down the price of the Xbox 360 in Europe to coincide with the launch of the Xbox 360 Elite.

From Friday (that's the 24th of August, folks), the Xbox 360 Premium Pack will have an RRP of £249.99 and the Core model (if you're INSANE) will be dropped to £179.99, presumably to match the price of the Nintendo Wii.

The Elite will be available for all your HDMI needs as of Friday 24th of August too, priced at £299.99. That's a lot cheaper than I anticipated to be honest. It's only fifty quid more expensive than the Premium Pack and with that you get an 120gb Hard drive and an HDMI socket. I've also heard that they've got pretty quiet these days, which is good seeing as my launch day console sounds like an F-16 fighter jet unless I turn the volume up really high.

Now CERTAINLY is the time to buy your 360 if you don't already have one.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Knytt - My New Favourite PC Game

Although Crysis is on the horizon, I've pretty much lost faith in PC gaming. In the days of Doom, Quake and Unreal, top-end PCs (and Mac's) could easily out-perform the current crop of games consoles and allowed for amazing technological advances in games far before similar games were available on other consoles. While this is still the case to an extent, the gap in power seems to have dramatically shrunk. With Microsoft aiming most of their gaming power at the Xbox, the PC has fallen behind quite a lot.

The last PC game I bought was Quake 4, which I've probably played for about three or four hours. It's available on the Xbox 360 too and it's a bit lame. Especially given the Quake legacy. So I give up on PC gaming altogether. However, I hadn't really given time to freeware things, made not by EA or Ubisoft but by people in their bedrooms. Of course, there's LOADS of shit. But it's a bit like bedroom musician's innit? You don't have the labels or publishers telling you which are 'quality', BUT you could always stumble across some undiscovered gem.

is one of those gems. It's a simple platform game for Windows that you don't even have to install. It's got cuteness by the bucket-load and features basic but perfectly fitting music to accompany the Knytt as he/she travels through an alien planet looking for spaceship pieces. I really can't praise the game enough. It's got frequent save slots so there's no frustration at death and it's perfect for a little go every now and then. The atmosphere is superb. You really feel the isolation of being on a strange planet, even if your character is made up of about fifty pixels.

And remember, Knytt is FREE. It's freeware, so there's no cost for downloading it. People have already made mods for the game, which you can get from the 'official' site. I haven't tried them yet, because I'm still thoroughly enjoying the original game.

So if you've got a Windows machine, go and get it! I guarantee you'll fall in love with the Knytt and his alien planet. :-)

Why Doesn't Mario Party 8 Support Widescreen?!

It's 1999 on the phone, they want their technology back...

Arcade Wednesday, 15-08-07

Every Wednesday, a few new Live Arcade games pop up on the Xbox Live Marketplace for you to try and MAYBE buy. I always download at least the trials and give them a blast. Some of my favourite 360 games are from the Live Arcade so Wednesday's have become very exciting for me!

The latest Arcade Wednesday featured Hexic 2 and Ecco the Dolphin.

Hexic 2 is the sequel to a game that came ready installed on your 360 hard-drive (if you bought a Premium pack). The important thing to remember about the original Hexic is that it was FREE. It just happened to be BRILLIANT and that was emphasised even more by the fact that I didn't have to pay for it.

Hexic TWO is a bit shit. It's kinda the same as Hexic, but with horrible graphics (whereas the original was clean looking and sharp), some awful 'attack' system and various multiplayer modes. Oh, and it's 800 Microsoft points. That's about eight quid for the inferior sequel to a free game. Fuck off.

Ecco the Dolphin is a port of Sega's classic aquatic platform adventure. I hold a bit of a soft spot for Ecco. I remember when the Megadrive version came out, and it's sequel and remember loving the tranquil underwater experience they created. I even loved Defender of the Future on the Dreamcast, especially the bit with the Great White Shark. It was SHIT SCARY. But the first Ecco adventure doesn't seemed to have aged too well. It's still a joy to play around in the water, but Ecco's screams of pain will hurt you after a few minutes and it's still INCREDIBLY difficult. The new smoothing graphics thing also doesn't work quite so well here. It looked lovely on Sonic the Hedgehog and Double Dragon, but makes Ecco look quite horrible.

So not such a good week for the Xbox Live Arcade. Hmmm... :-(

Why I've Started Renting Games Again

This week, I rented Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix on the Xbox 360 from my local Blockbuster Videos. It cost me £4.95 to rent it for two nights (or three days, I suppose). I managed to finish the game in those two evenings (with the help of my games mistress friend Bibi) and returned it on the third day, happy that I hadn't spent £49.99 on it only to never play it again.

The last game I rented before this was Pokémon Stadium on the N64. Back then, rentals were cheaper and I think I got the little snazzy Gameboy adaptor thing to upload my Pokemon from Red/Blue. Regardless, since then I've owned a Dreamcast, a Playstation 2, a Gamecube, an Xbox, a Nintendo DS, an Xbox360 and a Nintendo Wii and NOT ONCE have I rented a game. I suppose I got a bit materialistic about my games and HAD to actually own them. I even stopped part-exchanging them, as I couldn't bare the thought of my games collection shrinking after I'd put so much money into expanding it. But just recently, my habits have changed. I HAVE been part-exchanging my old games to buy lovely new ones. And I finally took the step into renting a game for the first time in eight years...

I played the demo of Harry Potter and quite enjoyed it. I'm a bit of a Potter geek and I absolutely loved the new film, so was pretty keen to play the game too. But I KNEW in my heart that it'd only be about six hours long (it's a film license, after all. And made by EA...), have no online multiplayer or Live content to speak of, and probably have little replay value. I still reckon I would've bought it if I could have found it for under twenty quid, but it's pretty much full price everywhere due to Potter-mania sweeping the country.

So I rented it. A fiver and two LONG evening later, me and Bibi finished the game, happy that I was £44.99 richer than I would be had I bought it. I returned it yesterday morning and have had NO desire to play it again since. So I guess I was right! I had two lovely evenings with it. It's a great little game if you're a fan of the Harry Potter books and/or films. It sticks really close to events in the films, although it skips around far too erratically.

So in conclusion, it's worth a rental. ;-)