Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

Initially with Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood I found myself expecting a game purely focused on multiplay with little story involved. As a result of this I was thrilled to find this was not how it turned out and that It picked up right after the cliff hanger in Assassins Creed 2 with a further plot line that led to an even bigger cliff hanger!! Seriously! Like WOAH!

Assassins Creed Brotherhood picks up from where the second game ended and continues on with new memory sequences belonging to Ezio Aldetori. This for me added to the flow of the game as it made it familiar from the start and helped me get into the games plot and storyline a lot quicker, this and the way in which you can freely leave the animus as you wish gave a better playing experience than the previous two for me.

One distinctive change to the game is the ability to take your horse anywhere you want rather than having to leave it outside the city gates to never be seen again.. You can even call your horses in this game! Kind of like Link calling Epona… except in this case it’s Ezio whistling for the most recent horse he rode..

Another notable feature is the ability to recruit and train assassins into the brotherhood. Recruited assassins can be called into battle anytime, or used to take out enemies to help you stay undetected. They can also take out every single enemy in the area in an arrow storm! I found this to be a handy little feature and a fun side game to send assassins off on missions and train them up! It was like leveling up Pokemon… but with people that kill other people rather than monsters that hit eachother..

The game doesn’t necessarily leave you short of things to do after completing the story either as it contains a whole abundance of awesome challenges and tasks from the courtesans, thieves and mercenaries! Though these are all quite similar as they are generally just assassinations and races, I found it was more interesting as the level of difficulty varied between the challenges as they contained more variation rather than the same old “save the lady from guards”

Now the multiplayer! This is the feature I thought I would hate, as when I played it at Eurogamer it was utter bollocks! Just walking into someone would make you assasinate them.. which was silly.. there are people all over so missing people was pretty hard in itself.  FORTUNATELY however! This was not used in the final release as you now have to choose to assassinate someone before they are killed rather than just strolling into them. I mean COME ON! Imagine if you killed people by bumping into them.. I’d be a serial killer or dead by now! Maybe both.

I feel the multiplayer adds a competitive edge to the game where it was lacking before. I also think the inclusion of levels online is a good touch as it encourages you to play to unlock more online features and be top of the class. Though for me I’m just leveling up so I can have 100% on my PSN trophies as I get the level 50 achievement!

All in all, not many games will push me to get all of the achievements available, and the fact I’m still playing it says enough! I love this game!

9/10

 

Palm Pre 2 – First Impressions

I don’t know if anyone will remember, but a smart phone came out just over a year a go called the Palm Pre exclusively to O2. Now, this phone got copious amounts of bad reviews and people were really put off getting one. I feel the main reason was because of the OS on the phone, WebOS. Just over a year later and the sequel is out! However, it hasn’t been going down too well at all, just like it’s predecessor.  And this time, it’s isn’t available with a specific network as none wanted to take it up.

Well, HP Palm, as they are now known, have kindly given me a Palm Pre 2 to try out for a few weeks, and i must say, it is a massive improvement from the original. The Pre 2 is host to a 1Ghz processor, seemingly an industry standard these days, 512MB RAM, 3.1″ touch screen, full QWERTY keyboard, 16GB storage and a 5.0 mega pixel camera with LED flash. These are pretty similar to the original bar the 1Ghz processor and camera as it was a 600Mhz down clocked to 500Mhz previously with a 2 mega pixel camera and 8GB storage, with 16GB on the Pre Plus.

Now, i know on paper it looks pretty much the same device, and even in design the only differences are that it has a flat screen on the front. Other than that, the features are taken from the Pre Plus. But the major difference is on the inside. The OS. That’s right folks, this device is running WebOS 2.0. Now for most of you, you don’t know the original, which i can’t blame you as it was poorly advertised, so i will run down the basic features now.

  • You have a palm account that syncs wirelessly with a cloud based server and stores all kinds of information such as contacts, apps and other linked accounts.
  • The accounts you can link include Facebook, gmail, windows exchange and outlook, hotmail and AIM.
  • The OS is built around a card based system used for multi-tasking which, to date, is the best i’ve seen on a phone.
  • There is a gesture area under the screen used for all sorts of functions such as the back and forward functions of the internet and quickly changing between open cards.
  • App settings are found in a drop down menu at the top when the app is open.
  • One massive feature is called Synergy which allows linking between all of your accounts such as collecting the same contacts into one, collecting photos and info from you facebook contacts and much more.
  • One of the best features is the notification bar that pops up at the bottom. Unlike other devices where the notification gets in the way with what you’re doing, it gives you a basic run down of what it’s about at the bottom whilst pushing the bottom of the screen up. If touched whilst like that, the relevant app opens. If left alone, it dissipates into a little icon in the bottom right corner, which when touched will open up an expanded view of the message which you can either act up and open the app right away or swipe away for later.
  • Another important feature is copy and paste. Probably one of the most useful features of phones at the moment, and WebOS is very good at it.
  • Another huge feature is over the air firmware updates. When connected to a 3G signal or WiFi it will download the update and then alert you when it has finished. When on 3G it will periodically download as it can sometimes use a large amount of data.
  • Just by touching the bar at the top you get quick access to the full date, battery percentage, Aeroplane mode toggle and other toggles such as Wifi and Bluetooth. With VPN added for WebOS 2.0.
  • There are of course loads of other really awesome and important features, but i can’t go into them all or you won’t hear what is new.

One thing that has changed in the new OS is the ability to have more cards open at once, and also, you can collect similar cards together to take up one card space on the card view. This is pretty handy as it means i can get straight to my important e-mails whilst all my social networking stuff loads by pressing the middle “button” and pushing all that social stuff to the side making my e-mails the focus. On top of that, of you are only done with facebook, then you can just push that card off the screen at the top, and it’ll close. Simple and efficient.

Another impressive feature, and one of my favourites, is the just type feature. Now, it may not seem that impressive, but it is so useful. When on the home screen, slide out the keyboard, and just type. From there you get a multitude of options such as a selection of contacts, google suggest, a whole host of searches including wikipedia, twitter, facebook and more, and the best, quick actions. With quick actions, you can start typing something that literally has just popped into your head, and then tell that text to be saved as a memo, or be sent as a message, or even update your twitter and facebook. The cooler thing is, as more and more apps come out, more and more quick actions will be added. Along with that, you can add your own websites to search on provided they add the system, which a lot already have.

There are of course loads of other features on this phone, but i don’t have that much time to talk about them all, so i’ll leave it there for now, but i will be posting a video with a comparison against the original pre.  On an overall basis, i love WebOS the first time i had it with the Pre, but the hardware wasn’t really great. Again, the hardware isn’t fantastic, but the power of WebOS is astonishing this time round, and with a faster processor everything just runs that little bit better. I would love to be able to get the phone myself just for the OS as it is truly fantastic. For that this phone gets a 9.2/10.

Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Review

The other day, a kind company known as Push Start Media sent me Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit as i won a competition. Now, this was one of the games going on my christmas list, but now it doesn’t need to be on there. Anyway, so i’ve been playing it, and i’ve noticed some awesome things about it, and some not so awesome things, but here is my review.

Need For Speed is usually a game that is brilliant for the tuning up of cars and making them look gangsta. Along with this, they are usually very similar to arcade style racing games. This all changed when they released Shift. That game was very realistic and less gangsta than most of the other and also focused on actual racing more than street races. This was different, but fresh.  Hot pursuit however has kinda gone back to what the games were before, but with a fresh perspective on street racing. You get to play as the police that shutdown the races. And that is so much fun, but more about that later.

As it is developed by Criterion Games, you expect a few things. Great graphics, awesome maps and arcade style handling. In this you get all three of those things, and a lot of Burnouts best features appear in this game. It has great graphics and all the cars look nice and shiny, until you crash them, then they just look destroyed. It’s awesome. The map is huge, which is similar to Burnout: Paradise and it covers a lot of different environments. And the cars handle just like the burnout series. Drifting is easy to do, and the cars are just fast and epic really. Along with that, the nitrous system is pretty much the same too. The more dangerously you drive, the more of it you get. Essentially, this is just a new Burnout game, in a new skin, and it’s fantastic.

One thing that has been taken out from this game that is in other Need For Speed titles is the car tuning and upgrading. I’m not too sure why it’s been removed, but it is missed. Instead of buying a car and turning it into a beast, you get to drive pretty beasty cars in their natural form. As you progress through the game, you get a rank for both street racing and policing, and the higher your rank, the more cars you will have access to. On top of this, you get to take part in races that require different car types as you progress.

There are a few race types: Standard race, Hot Pursuit, Time Attack and Free Drive. Standard races sees you racing against cars of the same type along part of the map at stupid speeds. Time attack is a one man race to drive a length of road in a certain time. Free drive is, well, free drive. Hot pursuit is brilliant. It sees you either as a police car or race car going essentially head to head for superiority. You have access to several weapons in these races which include Spike Strips, EMPs, Turbo (Racer Only), Jammer (Racer Only),  Road Block (Police only) and Helicopter (Police Only). All of these harm your opponents progress in different ways and really shakes up the gameplay from other titles.  All of these race types, along with driving dangerously and completing milestones give you bounty. Bounty is used to level you up and unlock more cars. The more bounty you have, the more cars and speed you will have.

One awesome feature of this game is the Autolog. This acts like a social media center for the game and is the hub to everything. It gives you news, updates, general information and your friends scores. It uses live leaderboards to mark your progress in the game against your friends, but this also affects your bounty within the game. You post the fastest time out of your friends in a race, you get an extra 2000 bounty. Your friends are better than you at this game, you get no extra bounty. Competitive types, like me, will love this feature.

Overall, i love this game. It’s the perfect arcade racing game available at the moment. It combines racing and law fighting like no other game has before it. Even though it is lacking in a few places, you don’t feel it needs it when you are driving a Bugatti Veyron at over 200MPH. 8.1/10.

Noble effort from Bungie – Noble Map Pack 1 Review

Ok, so Halo: Reach was a massive game this year, and i had the chance to go to the premiere event in London before release. Since then, it has gone on to be the biggest selling Halo game of all, and has the largest number of players to go along with that. But does that mean the pressure is on Bungie to make awesome maps for multiplayer like with Halo 3?

With the release of the Noble Map Pack for Halo: Reach, we see some of Bungie’s latest work on the title with the creation of 3 new maps: Anchor 9, Tempest and Breakpoint. I will start with the latter, Breakpoint.

Breakpoint is a HUGE map, and i mean proper big. It’s should be used mainly for big team battle, as it can take forever to find anyone. It is very similar to the older map, Avalanche, which was awesome for big team games. On the map you get a variety of vehicles, and 2 bases that are linked together through the mountain in the middle. I found it to be quite a challenging map as people like to use the jet packs, sniper rifles and the top of the mountain to generally wipe everyone and everything out. On top of that, as soon as some one is in the Banshee, if you don’t take it down, you are destined to die over and over again. It’s a pretty irritating thing, but it happens. Overall, i was pretty disappointed with this map, it isn’t as fun as Avalanche and can get a bit tedious when people keep slaughtering you with sniper rifles and Banshees.

Map 2 is Tempest. This is a pretty average sized map, very similar to Valhalla. There are two base structures at either end with a fighting ground in the middle, with varying surface types and different height levels. There are a few cave passages and a river to one side. This map is brilliant for 6 v 6 team battles, and even some rumble pit game types. A lot of the fighting here is medium to long range, but you can get some close range encounters, so it’s worth carrying a shotgun or something. There are no vehicles on this map, which makes the battle a lot more even, and means you can spread out a lot more. I have found the best tactic is to hang wide with the DMR and pick off the weaker ones with head shots, and just back up people on your team with cover fire. This is a pretty fun map, but i don’t see myself picking it over some of the pre-existing maps.

The final map is Anchor 9, and this is a small map. Built in a space station, you can battle inside, or outside in space. That part is pretty epic, and sounds awesome. However, you are very very vulnerable when out in space as travel is slower and jumping can take a while. Inside is a place of death, just pure death. It’s pretty hard to find somewhere that is safe from enemies, especially if you need to recharge your shields. I found that this map is perfect for the smaller team games, and rumble pit games too. Head hunter is brilliant on this map, and can really test a players skill. Again, there are no vehicles on this map, but that’d be silly if there were. This is by far the best map in the pack, and is a favourite of all the maps in Reach.

This map pack overall is pretty average, and at 800MSP is a pretty good deal. It does add an extra 250 achievement points for you crazy achievement hunters and really shows what the developers can do with maps. I have enjoyed this map pack and am looking forward to the next one, whenever that maybe.