I Am Alive

April 14, 2012 at 2:29 am | Posted in Articles, Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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Click here to read full review.

The last of the House Party arcade games brought us the eagerly awaited I Am Alive, formerly to be a full retail title, the games production suddenly took a turn and then it was decided to be just an Arcade game. A decision that has had its both good and bad effects, let’s take a look if I Am Alive is worth shouting about, or if it’s better off left dead.

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I Am Alive Composer Jeff Broadbent

March 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Articles, Music, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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XboxLiveAddicts’ Mechanical R had a chance to interview composer Jeff Broadbent regarding his atmospheric music score for Ubisoft’s post-apocalyptic action/adventure, I Am Alive.

Click here to read full interview on XBLA
Click here to read full interview on Ubisoft Forums

Eurogamer ’11 – Lord of the Rings: War in the North

December 8, 2011 at 3:30 am | Posted in Articles, Eurogamer Expo, Events, Preview, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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Click here for full preview.

It’s been a long time since a Lord of The Rings title has done well. I remember back when the RPG style action combat games, Two Towers and Return of the King were at the top of their game, drawing in big crowds of not just LOTR fans, but fans of good fighting games with a comfortable sense of RPG elements to them. So what happened?

We had a fair few new attempts at the franchise, but none really stepped it up on the winning combination that the previous titles had, so here we have War in the North. LOTR’s new actions combat role playing game. Wayhey???

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

December 8, 2011 at 1:59 am | Posted in Articles, Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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Click here to view full review

Castlevania, it’s not the worlds most well known franchise, but it’s been with us since the beginning. Late last year saw the release of its first proper venture in to 3D and the next generation platforms; sadly, the title went a little unnoticed in the slurry of massive titles we saw last year. With two additional story based content downloads for Lords of Shadow, we take a quick look at whether an apparent underdog of last year should be worth your time, or should it just be left in the kennel? With my less than impressed opinion towards the HD remake of Harmony of Despair, Will Lords of Shadow prove to me that there’s love for the old beast yet?

Similar to that of Dantes Inferno Lords Of Shadow takes you through a massive story full of different and rich settings, putting you against a mass of Goblins, Lycans and any other mythical creatures. The hack and slash game play is here in its floods. Gabriel, our hero is sent to defeat the ‘Lords of Shadow’, take their power and bring back the woman he once lost. It’s quite clear that Gabriel is a distant relative of Xbox 360 icon Marcus Fenix and Resident Evil star Chris Redfield, suffering from the same terrible condition they do of having an enormous body and such a tiny head. With even smaller facial features. Gabriel is then given an unfavourable 80’s mop and thrown into the heat of battle. Appearances aside, if story isn’t your strong point of interest for this game, it’s easy to overlook and just jump right in for some creature carving. However if you love a bit of deeper story with your slashing, we’re given it in bite size chunks during loading screens by the ever popular video game voice smoothie, Patrick Stewart.

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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

December 8, 2011 at 1:47 am | Posted in Articles, Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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Click here to see review

Possibly one of the most overlooked games of 2010. Namco Bandai’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West fell under many a radar in the thunderclap of top video games which came out last year. So with a little down time before 2011 picks up, is Enslaved worth looking into?

The story loosely follows that of one of the four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature ‘Journey to the West’, however like most ‘modern renditions’ it uses the names and general story to use as more of a bass line for something a little different rather than following the original story word for word.

The game is set in the future following an apocalyptic war between humans. The remainders of the population around the world live in the ruins and safe areas under the constant fear of being kidnapped by mysterious slaver ships, but major cities and areas are still filled with mechs left abandoned after the war. After a pair of prisoners escape a slaver ship in an explosive decent into New York. Our character Monkee finds himself under the orders of fellow escapee Trip, with the use of a slaver headband. The two must embark on a journey to the west to find Trips home and safety from the slavers and mechanical creatures that now roam the earth.

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For those who haven’t played the Playstation 3 exclusive title Uncharted, then this reference is rather moot. But Enslaveds game play, especially on the adventure side of this action/adventure title, is very similar to Uncharteds in its sense of scale, level design and simple ‘one button traversing’. Meaning, as long as you’re pushing in the right direction, tapping just the one button will generally get you across everywhere. It’s a nice way to get you to see the environment, but it’s adventure sequences aren’t always as demanding as they should be. If you cant see where you should be climbing to, its a simple task of pushing the stick until Monkee reaches out, making it painfully easy and numbingly linear Monkee cant even jump off things if he‘s not actually supposed to, often raising the question, why bother have these large set pieces if we’re to be baby sat throughout it all.

If Uncharted was the perfect number 5 on a Adventure controls scale, the perfect balance between using all your techniques, physics and skills to traverse the world. Enslaved is probably at the bottom end of the scale. With simple, but relatively effortless adventuring. For those who want a full scale to work with. Yes, that damn Lara Croft gets the top spot. Any of the original TR titles will do. With her running, jumping. HOLDING DOWN THE BUTTONS TO GRAB. ‘Damnit Lara why wont you go where I‘m pressing!!!’ You all know what I’m talking about.

Monkee is incredibly well behaved in this sense. Thank Fu…

Combat is limited to your staff and just generally whacking the hell out of things. Early on you get the ability to fire energy rounds from your staff which can either stun or kill. Monkee is fully upgradeable from the start with the Tech Orbs which you find along the way being the payment for the upgrades. There are a few issues surrounding the upgrade system, like Tech Orbs are hidden around the entire game, but are also a collectable. Meaning, you can only get a certain amount of tech orbs from each level, guaranteeing you wont be able to fully upgrade yourself in one play through. The second issue is that the upgrading system is rather unbalanced as you’re able to upgrade Monkee with health regeneration right from the start, making the majority of Enslaveds harder combat sections a little easy just as long as you’ve given yourself maximum health and other regen perks early on.

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Surprisingly, Enslaved is an incredible feat on the eyes. When you read the story synopsis and see those words ‘Post-apocalyptic world’ you’d expect endless seas of sand. And a million different shades of beige and boring. Yet Enslaved is the exact opposite. After plummeting from the sky at the beginning of the game, we’re thrown into New York City. Ravaged by time and nature, the decaying buildings, wrapped in wildlife and plants, bring a great new look to New York, later levels leave the city and whilst going into wastelands, the barren deserts are filed with junk, scrapped mechs and vehicles, still coated in bright and alluring colours. Its provides for some stunning settings and more importantly, a whole new palette of colour to the term Post Apocalypse. Fallout, I hope you’re reading this.

With voice acting from Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw, the characters come across really well, they’re hard not to like but can be a little confusing at times, with Monkee often coming across as dark and mysterious and then sometimes just sounding like he’s been spending his early life as Mowgli where his strengths and emotions can often conflict. Trip (despite now being a female rather than a male monk from the original story) also has some strange moments, like why bothering with continuing to order Monkee around with the slave headband when Monkee seems to happily oblige from the get go.

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Enslaveds story travels across 15 chapters. The chapters are of a good length and can be quite challenging at times. Being a single player experience, to get the most from it, you’ll want to try and finish the game perhaps a second time on the hardest difficulty. There are Tech Orbs and Masks to collect hidden in the levels, and combat and health upgrades to max out on the way. Single Player downloadable content is also available as a prequel with a character introduced around the mid point in the game. The content also comes with new achievements.

With more blockbuster titles on the way in the near future, Enslaved is a good adventure game to pick up, with the fact its been out for a fair amount of time. The general price for sale will be more than reasonable for a game which will give you not only something fantastic to look at, but a well rounded story and adventure for you to get yourself involved with.

7.0

Alan Wake The Writer DLC

October 31, 2010 at 2:09 am | Posted in Articles, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Click here to read full review.

Naughty Bear

October 31, 2010 at 2:03 am | Posted in Articles, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Prison Break The Conspiracy

April 7, 2010 at 4:37 am | Posted in PS3 Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Click here to read full review

So, I’m not going to lie to you guys. Prison Break was one of the LAST television shows I was expecting to have an accompanying game after its final series. It just didn’t seem to fit. And again, after giving up watching after they got themselves caught in yet ANOTHER prison come season three, the almighty words of ‘lowe that’ came forth from my mouth and I didn’t lay eyes on Prison Break again up until the finale, not the ending I can imagine most people had hoped for, but better than others or even at least it knows when to stop. Hell yeah I’m looking at you Lost. But that’s enough of that. Focus. Prison Break; The Conspiracy.

Prison Break The Conspiracy, is well. Basically, Prison Break. Spanning that of the first season set in, you guessed it. Prison. The ‘conspiracy’ side of it, comes from more of the actually conspiracy learned from Season 2 onwards in which a incredibly named group only known as…The Company, wants to ensure that Lincoln Burrows goes down for the murder of the Vice Presidents brother. With Lincoln’s baby bro getting involved in the mix. The Company are suspicious and send in Agent Tom Paxton, to find out what Schofield is up to, and to ensure Lincoln takes the fall.

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The game itself is a rather balanced mix of stealth and combat. Usually, if you’re not wondering around the prisons recreational areas throwing punches and landing head butts on passers by, you’re usually sneaking around the rooftops or behind the scenes of the prisons.

The stealth is usually easy to grasp, only the stealth sections are incredibly easy as the game has so many checkpoints. This makes a majority of the sneaking sections just a quick case of trial and error, even the harder stealth areas, a quick being seen and restarting and you’re instantly back where you were, getting it right. Or getting it wrong. Again

The combat is perhaps a little less simple. The combat is really one button style, however unlike a game with a similar set-up like Fable 2, combat is bulky and sluggish.

There are quick and heavy punches but no combos to play around with. Usually resulting in each punch being slow or hard to merge to keep attacks coming smooth and at a pace. There are reversals and blocks but no real indication of when to block to initiate the reversal and when you do, there is a lightening fast Quick Time Event to press, which you usually end up missing, its also hard to gauge a sense depth perception as the camera adopts an over the shoulder position but just at that awkward sort of angle. Which makes it difficult to judge whether your punch will connect with some chumps jaw, or if you’ll be swinging your fists around in the air. You even get the idea the game can’t really figure it out either when you’re practically stood on a fallen enemy, trying to press the stomp button only to find, ol’ Paxton is still punching air. You show that gas whose boss mate…

Clambering about the prison and its areas are made easy with a Mirrors Edge style of highlighting what’s actually climbable and what isn’t with a yellow block. The colour doesn’t look as out of place as it did in Mirrors, but the idea of it works just as well, making finding your way around the back end of the facilities a lot more easier.

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Our missions usually include meeting and greeting familiar faces within the actual Prison Break series, including that of Teabag, Sucre and C-Note. Majority of your actual missions will sometimes be to get in these guys good books, usually ending where you’re finding medical items for someone, but you need a lock pick. So to get a lock pick, you’ve got to get a weapon for someone else, and so on and so on.

And where would we be in a game this century without more QTE’s? That’s right, certain cut scenes or action scenes have a few QTE’s chucked in for good measure, unfortunately. Prison Breaks QTE’s are some good examples of how NOT to do them.

With most people, we like to be given even the teeniest bit of warning when a QTE appears, rather than a small circle, the size of a 5 pence piece appearing on our screen indicating us to press a button. There’s also no delay time with it. So if you don’t press it the instant it appears, game over. They also abuse the habit of having us hammer one button for a period of time, only to switch to something only needed to press once. Again, without warning. So after hammering X, the 5 pence turns to a Y and whoops. Your still hammering X because you weren’t given time. Yet another Con to add to why Quick Time Events are the devil of video gaming techniques.

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Voices from almost all of the original cast even make a return for the game, which is a nice little touch. Makes the whole thing a little more like a real tie in with the actual story rather than just some quick game chucked on a series with no real attachment. It’s all been done before, you know it.

The game itself obviously ends with the end of Season 1, but there’s a whole 9 chapters of meeting old and new characters and a good sized campaign. There is a versus mode, in which you can take any of the characters involved in the game, and play as them in a 2 player Tekken style beat em up in a sort of Fight Club style setting. It’s a nice little idea and fun in some ways. But with clogged and slow fighting it can loose its appeal incredibly quick. Especially if you have Tekken 6 or something similar you can always chuck in with your mate there.

Prison Break isn’t perfect. With its main fault being its combat, it’s a real let done as it makes up about a third of what you’ll be doing for a majority of the game. But with that said, the rest of the game at times can make up for it, and as TV/Film to game conversions go, its definitely one of the better titles. Something Prison Break fans will enjoy, but also. Something non PB fans would too.

6.4

Velvet Assassin Review

September 11, 2009 at 1:19 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Link to review

There’s a distinct lack of Spy/stealth games these days, and there’s a good reason why. Not only are the major successors of stealth some of the biggest well known gaming characters to grace the earth, but there also really quite difficult to pull off to such a degree of standing up to said juggernauts of darkness. Haven’t figured who I’m referring to yet? Get out.

Hopefully one of the last of the World War II batch of games for a long time, Velvet Assassin follows a young female spy and whilst the general idea of the character isn’t so far off from the truth, we set off on a handful of her missions.

Early on, well. From the main menu background, were shown our female character Violette, looking a little worse for wear, lying in a hospital bed, with some rather menacing men surrounding her. From here, the beginning of the game sets off just a teeny bit behind in the storyline, and our first few missions are the lead up to the predicament were shown in the menu and loading screens, here is where we get the feel for Violette and what leads her on her missions.

Like most stealth games, Velvet does rely on a lot of sit and wait it out moments, with dark areas keeping you hidden and the light areas…well, go figure.

Firearms aren’t much of a focus in this game, whilst there are opportunities and in some places its necessary to use guns, some silenced and others not, your main friend will be your blade.

Now don’t be fooled on your foxy main character, she’s pretty brutal with her blade, and anything else that she uses to be honest, it’s a bit shocking at first, hell, sometimes I still find new ones.

Now the only problem with these gruesome attacks is their all random, because there all done from one button. Now, this sounds silly, because obviously, its done from usually just one button anyway, but the game treats stealth attacks almost like a RTS section, where you need only be sneaking behind an enemy within a certain radius and just press A. When it tells you to obviously, and bam the whole things done right there in front of you, bit of a let down. Then with usual actions you soon find A is pretty much the only button you’ll need until you have yourself a pistol, or no doors to work through, this is a lot less rewarding as it seems with just pressing A for the entirety of your sneaky takedown of a room full of mugs.

One other way of dispatching of your enemies is the…Morphine Mode. Now, this mode is a little weird, as not only is it just plain stealth kill ruining, but if the games meant to retain any realism something like this shouldn’t be included. Basically, providing you have one syringe of Morphine, you for a limited time can run around like a loon (in your underwear might I add) and freely kill one enemy of your choice without running the risk of being caught or heard. Now this is all fair and fun in the game, but I was starting to get the feeling you were reliving Violettes past missions whilst she told you because of the way the first missions are presented and the narrative, yet these ‘Morphine sections’ don’t really fit. Its like she’s recalling what she did, and those sections were the blurry bits she forgot, oh you know how these kids get with their morphine n such!…Addict.

The one painful flaw in the A.I. is that it never really seems to give the impression your using any form of stealth whatsoever. You’re just in fact cloaked under their ability to see unless your doing something painfully obvious. This works alright in the first set of missions, however later, when in broad daylight using shadows from a hedge to keep you hidden from a guard in hugging distance, this really takes away the realism. Not only that, but the fact guards will on off see you from the ears they seem to have grown in their ears and when caught, regardless of where you run and hide, the enemy who caught you will always seem to run to where you are, exactly, rather than the last place you were seen. With this, you’re usually hiding, with the guard right in front of you, with a 50/50 chance of him seeing you despite being in the dark. This, and the ‘Press A to do pretty much everything’, is what holds the game back.

The games dark, lets get one thing straight. I had to knock the in game brightness up to almost full just to be able to differentiate from hidden areas and right in front of people. Once you get past that, the games a good looking piece of work, the levels flow well together and whilst the levels are very linear there’s always a simple path to make it from one door to the other, its just how long your willing to stalk your prey before you go.

Whilst the games very quiet (it is a stealth game after all) you’ll always get those typical German calls and even the occasional conversation you have to sit through whilst its being dubbed in English before they decide to split up and you do your rounds.

There are 12 levels, split over 6 main missions, which makes for good hunting. On top of that there’s the collectables to find and secret objectives hidden in every level to find, so keep your thinking cap on.

By leaving the NVG’s and tranquiliser darts at home, the game automatically gets kudos for making you use your head more in more suitable settings with a lot less technology to help you out, however the sheer thickness and predictability of the A.I. really let the game down on the level of just enjoying the game, or even restarting checkpoints.

7.0

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