Monday, December 13, 2010

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Racing/Arcade

"I feel the need ... the need for speed!"
[Maverick "Top Gun (1986)"]

In 1998 the Need for Speed reached number 3 and got a Hot Pursuit mode in wich the player had to run away from the cops or be the cop. In 2002 came Hot Pursuit 2 which took took the same idea and had 2 separate careers (one against the cops, the other with the cops). Then EA went for the Underground series (enjoyable, but not quite deserving of the need for speed name). 
So, NFS went to Criterion Games, known for their Burnout games and so Need for Speed Hot Pursuit was born (not to be mistaken with the one from 1998). Well the old ilegal racing between exotic icons of the
automotive world is back as we always liked it.

The game is divided between the player being the racer or the cop. So, you get experience as a cop if you play like one and at certain amounts new cars or gadgets (about them later) are rewarded.

As a racer you have acces to 61 of cars, some very exclusive. There is even a very memorable race (for any petrolhead) where a Mercedes McLaren Stirling Moss SLR (only 75 made) races a Lamborghini Reventon (only 20 made + 1 for the Lamborghini Museum) and a Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster (a staggering only 5 were made, Baku: Well it is called cinque). Also they introduced a lot of concept cars like the Koenigsegg Agera. As a cop you get almost the same amount of cars ranging from Subaru Impreza WRX to the monstrous Bugatti Veyron, so villains beware.

The races are sprints from point A to point B over a predefined map. This part of the game has Burnout written all over it. To beat a race you have to finish on the podium ... and survive of course. For example I have yet to finish the last racer event because the opponents knock me out usually before the finish. I should mention that the race is 70 miles long. 

Now about the powerups ... as a racer you get spike-strips to ruin the car behind you, a jammer to cancel stuff that others throw at you, an EMP to temporarily disable a car in front of you (you have to lock on to it and drive behind it) and a turbo system (besides the already must-have-in-a-need-for-speed-game NOS) which gives you a instant boost of speed. The sound and visual effects accompanying the turbo are awesome, it kinda simulates an sonic boom. Also, worth mentioning is that I managed to lock the EMP on a police helicopter but never got to actually shoot it, so if anyone managed that ... please leave a comment and tell me if you can actually disable the helicopter with the EMP.

On the other hand the cop can also use the EMP and Spike-strip, but it has two other gimmicks like the Road Block which is usefull when you are in pursuit of more than one racer, but you have to pay attention not to crash into it yourself (on a more punishing note, at a higher level, the roadblock is made out of big chunky Porsche Cayennes). The other supertool the police can use is calling in air support consisting of a helicopter that throws spike strips in front of the opponent.

Of course all of these powerups (both cop and racer) have to be used wisely because in seconds they can turn against you. And, all of them level up the more you use them, so spike strips become wider, or released faster, helicopters can go after the targets when they enter a tunnel and so on.

On the visual side ... the game looks awesome. It uses high-ress textures, and the cars and enviroment are modeled beautifully. The only thing I experienced on a older PC was the lights were turning on/off at night without me doing anything. So it looks awesome, but it also sounds great, although on a more personal note, the soundtrack could use more than one Pendulum track :D.

the bad: at first glance it's Burnout with real cars  
the good: at a second glance it's Need For Speed (the way we liked it) with a Burnout map

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Review

Platform: PSP
Genre: Horror/Survival

Usually I don't like horror games ... but I've had my share of them: Undying, Silent Hill 2, Alone in the Dark, Obscure (awesome Sum41 intro) and a few more. So getting a horror game for the PSP (which I use before going to sleep ... the last hours of gaming, before dream-land) didn't seem like the greatest idea ever.

What made me get this game ? The fact that the game apparently makes a profile of the player to deliver the ultimate scare.

So, the story of the game is set in Silent Hill (bet you didn't see this one coming). Henry Mason and his 7-year old daughter, Cheryl are victims of a car accident. When Henry recovers his consciousness, Cheryl is missing and he goes out to find her.

The only item Henry has in his pocket is his cell-phone. Using it, the player may view the map, call random numbers seen through town (some funny easter eggs), save the game, take pictures.

Instead of pouring waves of monsters over the player, the game offers a lot of very interesting puzzles where you have to use everything in your surrounding to get through. The most interesting one was at the planetarium. You'll see :P. As for monsters, there are none, only in Henry's nightmares.

The way the player interacts with world is quite well done. You use the analog nub to do the exact thing that you want Henry to do. Like you have to rotate it to spin a radio dial and so on.

The town is full of memories. Every now and then Henry's phone will start emitting static sounds and lights to flicker. The stronger the sound the closer you are to a object filled with emotions. When you find it, a sorta spooky scene will take place and Henry will receive a phone-call or a text-message with something that happened there in the past. Also sometimes he will see ghost-like shapes which can only reveal their true shape if photographed with the phone, also giving a hint of what happened a long time ago. From school-girls working in night-clubs to girls killed in the woods .... Silent Hill has many untold stories.

From the time Henry will be pulled into a nightmare. Huge blocks of ice will rise from beneath the city and creatures will start hunting him down. Usually you will just have to run from point A to B while avoiding monsters. but bear in mind that they are faster than Henry and if you want a map you need to stop, take the phone out and check the map. Frustrating at first ... but after a while you start to see the big picture and figure your way out. First time I tried the game I ran in circles for 20 minutes, the when I actually finished the game I made the same nightmare in ... one straight run. Also if you fail, you will be reset at the starting point for that nightmare.

One of the creepy parts (well for me at least) is the psychologist. Every now and then, you will face him and he will ask you weird questions or give you weird tasks. Listening him talk and hearing his ideas ... scared me at first. Anyway, based on these decisions you will receive one of the four endings (+1 secret ending possible to get only on 2nd walkthrough) and some things will change in Silent Hill .... like the characters (how they're dressed ... slutty/formal, how they behave).

The graphics are pretty cute and the shadows (although it's a psp game) look really great.

So this was a horror game I finished and I'm planning to play it again ... sometime.

the bad: kinda short
the good: replay value, psycho-profile thingy, feeling

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

James Cameron's Avatar The Game Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Action

So, James Cameron made a new movie. The movie got a huge publicity campaign. That's one reason for me not to rush to see it. Days passed, the game was out. A few more days passed, I started hearing stuff about people commiting suicide after seeing the movie.

After saving a bit of money, I was on my way to the cinema, to see what was so special about it (apart from the visual effects). Some hours later, eyes strained from the 3D-glasses I was going home and thinking ... "I wasn't expecting much from from the story but it surprised me", and yeah it was special (not in the "sorry my son is chewing on your shoe, he's a bit special") and enjoyable.

So, why not give the game a shot ?

The game is kinda of a prequel to the movie. After you choose your ... dude or chick you land on Pandora where you get to do some missions to find out who the mole is. From here on the game splits into two campaign: human campaign and Na'vi campaign. Also it creates a save point so you can start the other campaign (after you chose one) from this point on.

The game has a RPG feel to it. You get XP and when you leveled the game gives you new armor/weapons/skills. Also, on every map there are some side-missions. These missions vary from exploration to destroying a number of things.

Playing as a Na'vi is a lot of fun, you are granted melee weapons and bow's/crossbow's. You get XP from killing humans and their structures and from missions. Also you can restock your arrows from plants scattered around the world. Also you get to ride almost any animal in the game.

On the other side, humans get vehicles, lots of them, even the big dragoon from the movie and are rewarded xp from killing .... well ... almost anything.

There's not much to say about the game, it's fun, it looks nice, it has a full 3d support, and the two campaigns are different enough to keep you entertained for about 50 hours (if you do all of the "sidequests").

Of course, it stay on the idea from the movie, human-way .... BAAAAD, but the only thing I didn't like is that, as a Na'vi you get to be another Turok Mak'to and acording to the moovie there was only one... two with the protagonist :P. Also the side-missions get repetitve after a while and in both campaigns (although on different maps) you get to do the same thing.

the bad: can get repetitive, few maps where you can use "flying-mounts"
the good: looks nice, playing as a Na'vi can give you a nice feeling lol

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dante's Inferno Review

Platform: PSP
Genre: Action

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"

After finishing the demo a few ... too many times on the XBOX 360, falling asleep at the movie ... well, I mean animation, I got my hands on the PSP version of Dante's Inferno. This action game was rumored to be a nice contestant for God of War.

So ... is it any good ? Well ...we shall see.

The story of the game is based on the first part of Dante Alighieri's lenghty poem "Divine Comedy". It starts with Dante being killed while fighting in the Crusade. After obtaining Death's Scythe he returns to his home to witness his beloved Beatrice taken away by Lucifer. The story of the game represents Dante's journey through the nine circles of Hell trying to redeem himself from the sins he commited and saving Beatrice's Soul.

In the massive publicity campaign surrounding the game a animated movie appeared. Good thing I slept half of it ... because it can spoil the whole story. Even the boss-finishes from the game are in the movie.

As a action game, Dante's Inferno isn't revolutionary or very good. There are few combos, only 2 weapons and some upgrades. The game offers you some moral choices by letting you absolve or punish the souls trapped in Hell, but their only use is to upgrade one of the two weapons. If you punish them you will get points to invest in your scythe, if you absolve them you will gain points to upgrade your other weapon. The other weapon is Beatrices cross and it's a raged weapon. But whatever you choose you will get the same ending. And I find it logic, the game has to go after the poem, and judging by the "To be continued..."... there might be a Dante's Purgatorio.

The thing that has drawn me to the game was the artistic concept. I haven't read the poem only after finishing the game and researching the matter. I was amazed at first of how christianity mixes with the pagan believes. You are guided by the poet Virgil, and during the game you will get to meet/fight Cerberus (represented by a three headed worm), Minos (the judge) and get a trip on .. Charon, all which are realted in greek mythology to the passage in the realm of Hades. Most of the circles have their unique theme ... like the forest of the suicides where you have to keep Dante from taking away his life and so on. Even the enemies add some color to this gruesome Hell, you will be attacked by babies with swords instead of hands (the unbaptized) or huge fat creatures (representing gluttony). The only problem I have is that after you encountered them, they appear in other circles as well, which represent something else.

So, I liked the graphics, at least the artistic design. Even so, for the PSP is one of the pretty games I ever saw. The sound is top notch and the loading screen ... well ... that crying Beatrice slightly turning her eyes at you ... that's deep. The levels could've been bigger, or at least more opened (many corridors). Also, I heard a lot of complaints about the game abusing of tits. Well ... yes, you see tits every 2 minutes .. in cutscenes, monsters, huge-bosses, but i felt that it gave a more deeper feel of .... sin.

On the other hand the game's difficulty is kinda unbalanced, and if you change from normal to easy ... it should be called Dante's Walk-in-the-Park.

I almost forgot, the CGI cutscenes are great... and even greater are the cartoon bits which come in from time to time and represent Dante's past, his days in the crusade.

the bad: not much of a action game, story can be spoiled
the good: artistic touch (GJ guys)

again...I do not own the screenshots, all rights go to their respective owners

Monday, February 22, 2010

Alien vs Predator (2011) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: FPS

Before I start talking about the game I would like to make a point. Sadly some new games have to live up to some expectations. And based on those they fail. I think that the AvP is one of those. Because a lot of us loved the old ones, we all thought it will be the same only with updated graphics and so on. The game is somewhat different (in a few ways) and that may have triggered it's ... let's call it ... downfall.

I was surprised to see it's marks, and even more surprised that i liked it after i finished it.

So, as you may have expected, the game offers you three campaigns: marine, alien and predator. I will talk about them one at a time. The stories are connected in a interesting way, and you will know/understand it all only at the end. One example: At the beginning of the marine campaign you see a human-ship blown appart by a predator vessel for apparently no reason. Well, theyr motives will become clear after you play the alien campaign.


The somewhat scarier campaign. You get to use weapons, but you only three slots. The game offers 5 weapons to put an end to the xenofobes and hunters. The pistol with unlimited ammo, assault rifle, shotgun, flamethrower, a sniper-rifle and a smartgun which can auto-lock enemies and it will occupy 2 weapon slots. The sniper and the smartgun have detecting properties. The story is interesting and due to good animation and facial-expression kinda touchy at the end. In this one you will rely a lot on your flashlight, but fortunetly it never depletes itself. Your health is represented by 3 bars. If one bar isn't depleted it will regenerate itself, like in Far Cry 2.

The stealthy approach to the game. Unlike the older games, you start as a grown-up alien. Maybe some fanboys won't like this, but, as said ... I considered a whole new game not thinking one second about what was before. You can use your claws or tail, go through vents, see through the dark, grab enemies for a instant finish (after hitting them a bit). These finishes are really cool and bloody. Delicious. You can replenish your life by eating fallen enemies faces. Cool ! The only problem is that the campaign feels kinda short. Also you can walk on any surface and chasing your tail is really cool (and kinda weird that I spent some time doing so). Plus you can lure humans away by hissing at them.

Prolly the most interesting one (story-wise). Predators can use their canon or claws. At least at the beginning. Till the end you will get the spear, proximity mines and a throwing disk. The health system resembles the human's. Also you can jump higher or further than the two other races. Also the shoulder-cannon has a auto-lock system which can really come in handy sometimes. The most usefull things however are the camouflage and the visions. You get two different visions. One is the heatvision (usefull for detecting humans) and another one for detecting aliens. You can cloak yourself, but you will be detected by aliens and by some humans (which have detecting-weapons) and if you enter the water it will go away. Also you can give orders to humans to get them in a position where you can kill them easier. Found a locked door that can only be opened with a retinal scan ? Mo problem, the predator can rip a officer's head off and use it to get where he needs.

Each campaign has it's collectibles and if you get them all in a level you will be rewarded. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise but ... truth be told, I couldn't be bothered.

The sound is great, it may ... atually I bet it will spook you at least once :P and the graphics are great. It also uses DirectX 11, but that wasn't the case for me. I just have to say that I really liked the way the aliens move ...
The stories really blend together, and the human-nature .... well let's put it in simple terms.

My only complaint would be ... that the game is way too short. I understand that many of the maps appear in every campaign ... but it could have been a little longer.

the bad: Too short, fanboys
the good: graphics, the way the story is presented

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gran Turismo Review

Platform: PSP
Genre: Simulator

"I did it for the cars. Canary yellow, Marlboro red, begging to be plucked."
[Memphis Raines "Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)"]

If you read the quote (hard to miss it) and you know the Gran Turismo series, I think you look a bit puzzled. You'll see why I chose it.

To be honest this is the third time I play Gran Turismo. First time I played it on a PS way too long ago to remember anything, then on the PS2 at Baku's place. But now I have the PSP version all to myself.
Sometimes it is best to describe a game by giving a step-by-step information of everything you did in it. Don't worry, I'll restrain it.

So, after a rather nice intro movie, I got to the game menu ... where the only career-ish thing I saw were the driving challenges. Not in the mood for them I went to a single race where I could only choose a Vw Golf 3. My cash balance was 0, and i had 3 shops from where to buy cars. Also in the menu there's a counter that keeps track of your virtual time spent in the game (1 race=1 day). So I started to look how to get money... Of course I could do races for them but I thought there had to be a career mode somewhere so I started to do all the challenges. These vary from taking a corner, to setting really good times, overtaking and so on. Each one of them rewards you with cash depending on your time. If you get off the track or hit a opponent (in the overtaking one) you fail.

After doing most of them I raised a small fortune so I went back to the shops. But they changed, now there were new ones. The game offers different shops each 2 or 3 days. So you should check them often and plan your races so you can raise the money to buy ... whatever you wanna buy.
After the challenges are completed you can only attend single (and multiplayer ofc) races. After choosing the type of the race (drift, time trial, single race) comes the track and the car.

Why would you do these like a maniac ?
Because the game offers 850 vehicles from all over the world. From Mini to Ferrari, from tuner to muscle, from minivan to SUV or pick-up, and a whole lot of concept cars. If you are a car enthusiast it will be like Christmas just with the variety of stock classic cars, or those that made a difference sometime. Besides these, there are the rally versions of some, everyone who didn't live in cave his whole life will recognize (audi quattro, toyota celica ... and the list goes on), and some highly-tuned cars by pros like RUF. You can also quick-tune up to 25 of your cars selected as favorite. Every car in the game has a detailed description plus a full history with the ups and downs of the model (I found some really interesting things there).

At the beggining of the game every track is set at D rank, but winning races will increase it all the way to A then S. With each rank you will earn more money. Also the amount of cash you get is determined by the number of the laps ... so it's no wonder I did a 99 lap (maximum amount) oval track for a few times.

The game looks awesome for a PSP one. Nothing can compare the feeling you get while driving around the Nurburgring in a Ferrari Enzo, or struggle to keep a Dodge Charger 440 R/T in a straight line on dirt while blocking you opponent's view with gravel and dust. You can even set a cockpit camera ... but it's not rally detailed, only a black frame to imitate the shape of the car.
The sound is great also ... besides the noise of the engines, the tracks (if one of them doesn't enter a infinite loop) are catchy and pleasing to the ear. I also heard a pretty interesting remix of The Omen from Prodigy.

One thing I really HAVE to mention is that the silly-floppy air-brake from the Bugatti Veyron really works... it actually raises up when you brake (not seen by me in any game till now).
Well my point is ... if you really like cars ... if you get excited just by the thought of a Lamborghini Countach or you imagine yourself cruising in a Shelby GT350R ... buy it ... play it... treasure it ...

p.s. every car you buy will be already purchased in the up-coming Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3.

the bad: Repeated music, no career
the good: OMG 850 cars !!!, long life, fun

i do not own the screenshots. all rights go to theyr respective owners.