I can use the force! – Star Wars Force Unleashed 2 Review

Today is a very special day for the gaming world. It sees in the release of 3 new games that are set to be awesome. Fable 3, Rockband 3 and Star Wars Force Unleashed 2. Of course, by the title, i’ve been paying the last of the 3. And my gosh, it is fantastic!

The game starts off after the first one where you play as Starkiller. Yep, that’s right, the same guy from the first. Anyway, as that is basic knowledge to anyone, i’ll mission on.  The first thing to notice is the very impressive increase in graphical detail from the first. Like, seriously, you can see the rain on Darth Vader’s helmet and everything. It’s SIIICK!  Also, the difference between cut scenes and gameplay isn’t too bad either. And as a lot of cut scenes are rendered using gameplay graphics, you won’t complain when the awesome cut scenes come on.

As we all know, it’s not about the graphics in this game, it is far more concentrated about the physics engines, particle engines and other such nerdy things. Well, the first thing i noticed was how much more advanced it is in this game. The rag doll physics on people when you throw them is much improved, and stuff feels slightly weightier as items get bigger. On top of this, when you slice enemies, you may notice a limb or two will fall off. This makes the game seem much more awesome for some reason, just having limbs flying everywhere! It’s brilliant. Other than the noticeable changes, I haven’t found much else different. It’s still the same old epic game play, just enhanced.

Now, the force powers are all pretty much the same, except you can do almost everything from the very start of the game. However, there is a nice new one now. Jedi Mind Control. This is awesome. With this power, you tell the enemies to either top themselves by jumping out of a window or off a bridge, or you tell them to kill their friends. I think it’s random as to which one is selected, but it sure is fun. Especially when you have the big fellas with sticks jumping into generators, blowing themselves up!

Another new feature is the fact that starkiller has two Lightsabers! ZOMG!!! I know what you’re thinking, and I thought the exact same (unless you think it’s super cool already). But it actually works really well and makes killing stuff that bit more awesome. Also, this means you can use two different lightsaber crystals, which opens up the gameplay so much! On top of this, they don’t define the different missions as missions in the story. They all play into each other which is so much better than the first where you come across a score screen after every level! On top of this, the game is far more story based than the first which was just seek and destroy. Oh, by the way, some of the big enemies are huge. And I mean HUGE!!! They are so big. Wicked times.

Overall, as a sequel, this game lives up to the original so well, and expands on it. In terms of gameplay, not much has changed, but the changes are cool. In terms of story development, this game sees a far more developed plot and characters seem far more involved. So, this game gets a high score of 9.1/10.

F1 2010 – Review

Well, as we all know, the Formula 1 season has been going quite a while, what with the Korean race taking place yesterday, however, the game has only been out for around a month now. This has given me quite some time to play it and get good for that matter. So here’s what I thought of the game.

First off, the graphics are impeccable. For some reason, in today’s industry, everyone is looking for great graphics in a game, i’m not sure why, but that’s what is happening. F1 2010 does not fail to impress! Whether you use the view above the helmet, the view from behind the car, or the first person view the car and environments look fantastic. On top of this, as you reach speed, it looks even better. Another really good aspect of the game is the gradual change in track condition when it rains, and, when using first person or above helmets views, the rain splatters on the screen look really good.

Now, with the questionable section dealt with, I can talk about the fun. The game features 4 main game modes: Career, Grand Prix, Time Trial and Multiplayer. Career mode is pretty standard and sees you play through a 3, 5 or 7 year career as yourself. In this you initially race for one of the lesser teams as you are a new driver, and as your career progresses, you get invited to better teams. On top of this, your drivers rank increases, which unlocks newer rivals and stuff. In career, you can choose to take part in either a long weekend, which consists of 1 practice, 3 qualifying sessions and the main race, or a short weekend which is just 1 practice, 1 qualifying and the race. And you also get to choose how much of the race you wanna do. Grand Prix mode is just a single race mode where you can race as any of the pre-existing drivers and cars on any of the tracks. Time trial is exactly what it says it is, and you can have multiplayer party time trial mode, where you can all take it in turns to set lap times. This can get competitive but isn’t quite as fun as split screen as it is turn based.

The final mode is somewhat a disappointment, but at the same time, awesome! To be able to play split screen with a friend would have been such an awesome addition to the game, and i can’t figure out why it wasn’t included! Not everyone can play online, and not everyone i know has the game! But, being able to race anyone around the world is a pretty sick idea, especially as you don’t lose any of the screen size, graphics or sound. I know, you can do that with pretty much every racing game, but being able to race in F1 cars just feels special to me.

The driving in the game is fast paced and technical. From what i can imagine, they have got it pretty close to the actual sport, which is pretty impressive. The wear on the tyres is pretty realistic too, both visually and in terms of driving. The longer you use a set of tyres, the balder they get. This gives you less grip and you can really feel it round the corners and even in your speed and acceleration if you have a set on long enough. Losing heat in your tyres and brakes also affects your ability to drive. When your breaks are cold, it takes longer to stop. When your tyres are cold, it’s harder to turn. Simple.

Again, a massive feature of this game is it’s dynamic weather system. Not many, if any, of the current generation of racing games have this kind of power when it comes to weather systems. A prime example of this is in Forza 3. Sure it was fantastic in terms of car physics, but it was always sunny. In F1, the weather can change at any time, and is more likely to depending on location. And when the weather turns, it can turn a little, or heavily. Both affect your driving in different ways, and can completely change the pace of a race.

Overall, F1 2010 is a well rounded game, but it’s not quite perfect. The mulitplayer was a real let down, especially with the lack of split screen. The driving physics are brilliant and the graphics are pretty swell too. I’d give it a pretty solid 7.3/10.

Little Big Planet 2 – Demo Impressions

Little Big Planet is an amazing game! One that i embarrassingly only played for the first time a few months ago… Yes i was slow to jump on that gaming bandwagon… but at least i got around to playing it in the end?! Right?!

So anyway, after making the discovery that Little Big Planet is actually a fairly decent Freaking AWESOME game, I found myself ecstatic as i was told i’d get to play it at Eurogamer expo. I think this excitement showed on the day too, in how i immediately ran over to the game and well… played it! After all that’s what you do with video games… you play them. Unless of course you’re friends with one of those douche bags that sit around playing their consoles whilst you watch and never offer you a go… (I know a lot of people like that…).

Immediately after picking up the controller i was greeted with a familiar pod, customisation view and map view. I liked this as it made things straight forward for me from the start. Besides they were all good features, so why change something that’s already good?!  This i think stands for much of the game as you still see the same style race to the end levels with various obstacles preventing you from reaching the end.  I’m thankful that this didnt change as the mario-esque get to the end style the first game held, combined with its various challenges and need to collect items to further customise, made it more interesting for me.

Since noone has burst through my window at this point I’m assuming I’ve either been forgiven for taking so long to play Little Big Planet, or there’s a sniper waiting for me to step outside of the door… ANYWAY, when demoing the game a lot of focus was put onto the multi-player aspect. The multi-player in Little Big Planet 2 adds a competitive edge to the games, allowing upto four people to bat against eachother as they rush through to complete in the fastest time. This is made a bit more competitive by the ability to grapple onto other players and drag them back with you, preventing them from getting too far ahead. At one point we were literally sat grappling eachother down the same platforms for about 10 minutes…. then one of us actually made it to the end! (Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t me)

The costumes that allow you to customise your sack person are interesting as always! My favourite costume in the demo was probably the pimp suit, which came fully equipped with a hat, cape and PIMP STICK! With something like that in a demo I’m excited to see what crazy things get thrown into the full game!

I will be posting a video with some footage from the game and impressions of me playing over on RPIReviews soon! So keep an eye out there, and if by some crazy chance you’re reading this and work with Media Molecule… I’d love a promo to do a full review on one day! (I can dream…)

Chuck Season 4 – Initial Thoughts

One again we find ourselves at the the Buy More with Chuck & co. However this time round the previously blown up store has returned as a CIA operations base cover. I think the Buy More coming back is great as it would have been like destroying the fortress of solitude in Smallville if they got rid of it for good. If Superman can’t go without a fortress, Chuck can’t go without a Buy-Moretress!

The current season of Chuck has got off to a good start, with the plotline immediately shifting to Chucks hunt for his mother (Linda Hamilton), and her involvement with a new organisation (Yes… Another super powered secret organisation capable of controlling the world that they somehow NEVER heard of before…) going  by name of “Volkoff”. I’m hoping Volkoff doesn’t become  a reflection of Fulcrum and The Ring, and  just try to nab the secrets of the intersect over and over again. If that happens if will just send this series down hill and add far too much repetition.

Season 4 still sees Chucks mastery of the intersect with his flashes  still being held as a key running theme in the show.  This season however is not seeing as much use of Chucks intersect abilities as previous seasons have, which is arguably a good thing as there is less of the BAM! – INTERSECT! – PUNCH! – KNOCKOUT! stuff going on, which made things a bit repetitive.

The season also throws in various side stories about its characters that give the show a bit more variation, however this in some cases makes it a bit confusing as you can go ages without thought of Caseys daughter then POP she’s there! I also find that the whole Sarah and Chuck love drama is a bit last season… they need to move on from it!

All in all i think this season of Chuck has got off to an awesome start! However i’m not too sure if i’d like another season.. it’s not something i can see dragging out too long without killing itself off! So fingers crossed they end on a high rather than a low!

Also… Subway….Why is it always in Chuck?!

Playstation Move – Initial Thoughts

In early september, Sony released their run at motion controllers. Now, straight away, you look at it and you think “Wii rip-off” and i don’t blame you at all. The actual controller design is very similar to that of the Wiimote.  However, it’s what is inside that makes all the difference, and also, what is on top that adds so much more than the Wii could ever be.

Let’s start with just the controller and forget about the colourful bubble on top for now. The controller has 9 buttons on it. The traditional playstation controller buttons (circle, square, triangle and a cross) with the Move button in the middle of those. On the back is the T button which is a trigger, and on the sides are start and select. The PS button is in the middle of the controller. Now, for most of the games i have played, the only buttons used are the T button and the Move button. An example is Sports Champion in which you can press the move button to flick a ping pong ball into the air to serve instead of flicking the remote upwards.

Now, in itself the controller offers 1:1 motion capture, very much like the Wiimotion Plus, but this is all in one device. Very handy, as this keeps the size and weight of the controller to a minimum. But the Playstation Move isn’t just about this 1:1 motion capture, oh no, it’s also about capturing full body movement of the player to give that little extra kick of realism to the game. This is where the Playstation Eye comes in!

As far as i’m aware, the camera technology in the Playstation Eye isn’t as advanced as that in Kinect, but the way it is used along with the controller is incredible. The little bubble ontop of the remote is tracked by the camera and will position it accurately on screen, along with the 1:1 motion capture built into the remote itself, it gives a greater sense of realism in the game, and a huge amount of extra accuracy. Well, that’s the theory anyway. When i set my Move up initially to just have a little go, it took forever to try and get the camera to locate the little bubble on top! This was mainly whilst playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. I don’t know whether that was because the room was too light, or whether it was because the move version of the game had been rushed, but since spending the time to set it up efficiently, i haven’t had this issue.

Overall, the Move control system is very good, and much more accurate than the Wii at this present time. Whether Nintendo release something to make their more accurate in the near future is unknown, but at this time, the Move system is a top contender for the Wii’s top spot in the current market of Motion Controllers. Look out for a video review of move on the RPIreviews channel on youtube!

Sonic the Hedgehod 4: Episode 1 | Review

Sonic the Hedgehog is a game series that’s been present in my life since i was a kid. I remember playing on my dads megadrive; often getting him to complete levels for me as i would constantly die, but all the same loving the game to bits! So hearing about Sonic 4 pretty much left me ecstatic!

Over the past few years we’ve seen a few platform Sonic games crop up, however none of them (with the possible exception of the speed stages in Sonic the Hedgehog on the PS3) have managed to present the same swift moving fast paced levels that keep you observing the screen as you speed through multiple stages! This is an positive to Sonic 4 as it brings back the fast paced environments that saw the Sonic series rise to popularity, but in a modernised 3D style!

Certain aspects enhanced the overall  game play for me as they kept it different to the original games, whilst maintaining similarity where needed.  I found that the way the whole game rotates with Sonic as he runs a loop to be an amusing addition as it kinda throws you off for a moment, but also keeps the game fast paced as you’re now being spun around the unexpected. I also thought that including Sonic’s homing attack was a great move by the developers as it threw in a decent ability that has cropped up in recent platform releases, and added more mixture to the game play as it provides more ways to speed through levels, and get the princess chaos emeralds!

The level styles themselves are similar to the ones from the first 3 Sonic releases, but in a much more modernised 3D environment! This gives stunning levels to speed through with catchy backing tracks to keep you playing along happily, so no complaints there! I was especially pleased to see the return of the casino city style levels (even if they were the bane of my childhood…)

In terms of boss stages, i feel the game has successfully shaken things up from the previous games as it adds little twists to the boss tactics that remove the repetitive easy kill style! Now if you get caught out, or don’t pay attention you could end up dead! If anything however this just adds to the game as it makes it less of a speed through with little effort and be complete thing.

Whilst playing the game i only really found one thing that bugged me, and that was how you still die as you get stuck between platforms!!!! Other than death by poor playing, i found that this game was extremely enjoyable to play, and was highly reflective of the games i used to love as a kid. Plus the fact it’s available on most consoles aswell as the iPhone and iPod Touch make it a must have game if you’ve ever enjoyed the original sonic games!

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Demo Impressions

This weekend i found myself lucky enough to play a demo of  Nintendo’s up and coming Zelda release – Skyward Sword! Since this is a game I’ve been dying to check out since it was announced at E3 earlier this year, being given the chance to play through a ten minute demo was practically a dream come true!

The way Skyward Sword utilises motion plus adds a whole new level to the Zelda games as slashes, swipes, and even stabs reflect your movements right up to the angle, and direction you move your arm. This enhanced the gaming experience as it produced varied attacks and less repetition when killing enemies! The best example of this came when fighting plants. The plants that attack you open their mouths either vertically or horizontally, and due to this the only way you can kill them is to cleanly slash in the direction their mouth opens! Whilst annoying at first (Mainly due to the embarrassment of me having wasted a minute slashing for nothing) I soon found this feature grow on me, as encountering enemies became less repetitive, and kept me engaged for my full demo!

Links bow is another weapon that can be seen using the wii’s controls in a positive way. Firing off the bow is made more interesting as you are now required to draw back your nunchuck hand in order to fire an arrow, rather than merely point at a screen and press a button like in Twilight Princess! I’m still in two minds over this feature as i see possibility of it making bow usage take much longer! I mean… i found firing whilst riding Epona hard enough before! Imagine how it’ll be now?!?! So whilst an interesting addition, i find it may also add complexity to the game where it isn’t needed.

Another good feature taking advantage of wii controls is the item selection menu, which was something i initially thought would just be awkward and annoying! The new item selection menu uses the motion tracking, so that you can select the item you wish to use from a dial swiftly, rather than having to click through multiple slots to get to a specific weapon! Another good thing about the menu was that it dint involve going through any start menus, keeping game play constant, and item switches fast and easy!

The boss stage was interesting, as it saw the usual requirement of a specific tactic in order to get past! In this case it was just a matter of attacking eyes when they were of a certain colour, and then stabbing to kill…but a challenge none the less! I found myself being caught in a pincer grip frequently and having to rapidly shake the wii controls like no tomorrow to break free! This combined with the need to actually stab the wii mote to stab his eye made it more active for me and much more enjoyable! After all, these are the controls native to the wii! So to finally see them included in one of my favourite game series of all time is amazing!

After the boss battle i ran towards a door to the next part of the game and “Thank you for playing”….. My time ran out! I was devastated, confused, a bit delerious from waiting with no food and drink for the game, but content none the less! The demo in general was exceptional and removed any doubt about changes in the game for me! Now i just need to wait for the actual release…In the mean time! Here’s a trailer from E3!