Black Ops – First Strike

Something that was released this week was the first DLC for Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Now, for those familiar with the series, this is a huge deal, because the only thing more anticipated than this is the actual release of a new game. So it’s a big deal.

This map pack was released on Tuesday and it includes 5 new maps: 4 multiplayer and 1 zombie. And they are pretty good, and have some pretty wicked features. I’ll start with Berlin Wall. This is an awesome level set in Germany, surprisingly, by the Berlin Wall. The level features a load of buildings which provides good cover and sniping positions as you’d expect, but also there is this area where if you step inside, you’ll get blown apart by turrets. This area is denoted with red on the map and the floor, but tread carefully as you may not spot this as you’re running from your mates. I personally liked this map. Made me think a lot more about the whole gameplay aspect of the game and how to use my environment to an advantage.

The second map is Discovery which is set in the Antarctic. This level is pretty good as shows some of the snowier areas of the game, even though there are a lot of other snowy maps. This map features a lot of bigger, warehouse type buildings but combines it with more open landscape. You can see the northern lights, and somewhere down the bottom is a snowy bridge that you can blow a hole out of. That’s pretty sick to be honest. Makes those pesky RC things less of an issue. I did like this level, but not as much as the others.

The last map i’m going to talk about is Stadium, which is AWESOME!!! Well, i like it. It is held in a stadium area, as the name suggests, and there is a hockey rink involved, but sadly you can’t jump on it, which would have been awesome. But if you shoot the puck and the scoreboard, wicked stuff happens. There are also some other nice little things you can shoot which do things, but i’ll let you find them. This level features a lot of little places to jump and hide behind, but is pretty open, so bring close combat weapons to this fight and you will stand a far greater chance of success.

The other two maps are Kawloon and Ascension, both of which add completely new game play areas to the multiplayer and zombie modes respectively and are pretty sweet. All in all, for 1200MSP it’s not too bad a deal, but as with most of these map packs, is still a little over priced. I’d give it a hearty 7/10.

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.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops review

So, one of the biggest releases this year was Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Now, on a personal level, I don’t like the Call Of Duty games at all. And i thought this was going to be another one that i didn’t like, but it surprised me.

So, when release day finally came, my friend was all like “do you wanna go to the black ops midnight launch with me?” So me being me, went along for the ride. I took some of my older games so if I decided to buy it I wouldn’t have to pay too much. And guess what, i did end up buying it that night. Mental, I know, but I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Anyway, upon playing it I found that it is a lot more than I expected it could be. A lot more. Firstly, the campaign is awesome. The story has so many twists and turns in it, it’s like a country road somewhere here in Britain. On top of that, the characters are very well-developed from the very beginning. The game really draws you in from the start, and makes you want to find out what happens. I completed it on hardened in two sittings. Now, i’m not saying it’s an easy game, i’m saying that i wanted to get to the end to find out what happens. It’s that good, and seriously, the ending is incredible.

Normally in a Call Of Duty game though, the story blows, just like with Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, so it relies quite heavily on the gameplay itself. Not, in terms of first person shooters, this game is more advanced than your basic shooter, but less advanced than a really good shooter. It sits pretty comfortably in the middle, and it does it quite well too. The few new features they have introduced are the dive. When sprinting, hold the crouch button and you dive to the floor into a prone stance. It’s pretty fun, especially when moving forward behind cover. Other than that, the game is very much the same as the others. The graphics aren’t great and the gameplay can get a bit intense, especially on the harder difficulties.

Another thing they have changed on this game, is the level progression in the multiplayer. Instead of having to use a certain weapon for a certain amount of kills to get a cool attachment, you can just buy it. Useful if you don’t have the patience to get 150 kills with a weapon before you can start using a scope or red dot sight. On top of that, the customisation has kinda gone all Halo on everyone. They have taken one of the best aspects of Halo, and applied it quite well to a modern war situation. You get to choose your weapon attachments, your side arms and even the colour of the weapons. Yes, that’s right, i’ve been killed by someone who had a purple gun. PURPLE!! It’s epic.

All the features we all know and love about Call Of Duty online are still there, and all the game types too. Treyarch have just added some more. There are Wager matches now. In these, you place a bet and get put in a random game type out of a choice of four. If you win, you win your money back, and then some! It can get quite addictive, so i made sure i played that before playing the other multiplayer modes.

Another thing that has made a return for this game is the Zombies mode. Yup, that’s right guys, the thing that made World At War worth playing has returned. And this time, it’s that little bit more epic. When you complete the campaign, you are greeted with a cut scene of epic proportions that involve a few people from history, and i must say it’s hilarious. This then takes you to a game of Zombies and you play as an ex-president. It’s very much the same as World At Wars zombie mode, but with an added hint of awesome in the way of characters. The zombies this time aren’t Nazi’s which is a shame, but there is supposed to be Nazi zombie mode with the Prestige edition. It’s a fun game type to play with three other people to see how long you survive.

All in all, i would say that Black Ops is a good game. Not game of the year, not by a long shot. But it is something special. The campaign mode really gives it pull as well, especially compared to all the other Call Of Duty games. On a whole, the multiplayer experience hasn’t changed much, but has some nice refreshing features added. For that the game gets 7.9/10. Like it’s good, but not that good.

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.