Little Big Planet 2 Review

After playing through Little Big Planet 2 for a few weeks I can solidly say that the game is AWESOME! Though I didn’t really need to wait a few weeks to realise this, as the game has been amazing since day one. The levels are aesthetically well built together, with clever featues crammed throughout! This and the inclusion of various new features such as power ups and the sack bots just add to game when playing alone and with friends! My only dissapointment with the game was the lack of “Go! Team” in the soundtrack! But that’s something I got over quickly enough.

Little Big Planet 2 brings a whole new storyline to the game as Sackboy has to defeat the evil Negative-a-tron, a monster that takes all good in the world and makes it.. well.. negative. The story mode also brings in a complete new set of 3D creator characters that aren’t card cut-outs to the side! These characters are continuous throughout the game, aiding in narrating the game, and making the player aware of their objectives. This and the inclusion of new bonus levels such as survival, challenge and versus levels has seen Media Molecule take Little Big Planet to a whole new level since the last game.

As mentioned, Little Big Planet 2 brings an assortment of new features including power ups, controllable creations and sack bots. The power ups really add to levels as players are now able to grapple and lift any blocks, or other sack bots above their heads and throw them. No more slow dragging!  These features give an enhanced playing experience in both single and multiplay modes. In multiplay particular I find the grapple amusing as you can just shoot and drag other players, or grapple along with them.

Now the sackbots are a collection of tiny robots that are completely customisable in create mode. You can control pretty much all the aspects you need to in their personality and abilities, as well as looks! For example you can make them good or bad, able to jump or not, able to use power ups, and even dress them up like normal a normal sack person! The sackbots aid players in completing various levels throughout both story and online levels. Their survival also affects the end score and items you receive.

Finally there are various controllable creations, such as a rabbit. When controlling the rabbit for example, sackboy can jump super high and crush objects as he lands on various breakable objects. When controlling the dog sackboy gets to blast objects out of the way with supersonic howls, and the round.. ferret.. like hamster.. thing.. lets you roll through levels at high speed with the boost ability which basically lets you fly! Even though you already get to fly with the BEE!!! A creation that allows sackboy to shoot down enemies and objects whilst flying through levels to complete them. All in all the controllable creations were a nice little feature that gave more variation to the 2d mario-esque run and jump levels.

As with the last game, LBP2 encourages players to play along with friends or random people online as levels include x2, x3, and x4 features that require assistance in order to get a full 100% end score. This and challenging side levels which are made less stressful with a bit of help successfully encourage players to interact with each-other and co-operate as they go on to complete the game. I’ve personally found that multiplayer has been one of the most enjoyable features of Little Big Planet 2 for me, as I’ve always had a thing for co-op style game levels, so the ability to play ANY level in a co-op style. It’s also safe to say that I’d be nowhere near 100% on the gobotron shooter challenge level had I not played it with friends!

Another familiar feature is the ability to play through other players published levels. This feature of the Little Big Planet games has molded the games so you can pick them up any time and do something  completely new. With all the new features in create mode that incorporate the games various new power ups, and sack bot players, users are able to create new and challenging levels that give that little bit extra to the gameplay. The sackbots can be modified to look like normal sack people, sizes of which can be altered! The best use of this I’ve seen so far was a level where you could walk into a sackbot and control it and its gun like a giant robot! To top this off, at the end of the level the author gives you a controllable zombie character for your own levels! Which is another feature of LBP I’ve always loved! The ability to share your creation with others to use in their own levels.

The multiplayer interface has been altered too to make it a lot easier to find genuine fun to play levels, rather than the “PLAY THIS GAME FOAR PHREE COSTUMEZ N ST00FZ!” traps that were spamming the Little Big Planet 1 online world. This is avoided with the inclusion of “MM Picks” levels – chosen by the people over at Media Molecule, these levels are generally all awesome and really make the best of the new features presented in Little Big Planet. There’s also a cool levels feature thats presents loads of top rated community levels that are equally as awesome. They even managed to help out people like me who can never pick which level to play with the “Dive in” feature that throws you into a random multiplay level with a random group of players.

It’s clear with Little Big Planet 2 that Media Molecule have really outdone themselves. The game was definitely worth the wait, and I can’t wait to see what DLC packs they release for this game over the coming year as even now I’m struggling to put it down!

 

10/10

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.

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…)

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!