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Friday, 30 April 2010

Back in the saddle...

I haven't posted since Tuesday the 20th... jesus. But I thought I'd say I am back in the saddle as I have just brought a game for the first time in weeks. FIFA World Cup 2010. I haven't played it yet, but I shall definately review it in a few days.

I was always a FIFA fan, from the original game up until about 2003, when I jumped aboard the good ship Pro Evo for a few years. Then that series seemed to stagnate and by FIFA 09 it was clear EA had beaten Seabass and Konami to reclaim the footballing game crown.

My favourite football game of all time is the World Cup 98 version, which I used to own on the Nintendo 64. Tournament specific games have sought of lost their luster since then, but I am really hoping for a nostalgia rush from this latest one. I also hope it will build up my excitement for this summer's main event in South Africa.

I have put the disc in and the menus look terrific, with a brilliant world map where you can select one of 199 natioal sides and bring up stats and current news concerning each country! I love that sort of thing.

Anyway, I'm going to play the game now. How sad that I'd rather write about preparing to play the game rather than getting stuck right in?

Oh well. Here goes...

Monday, 26 April 2010

Jonesing for Splinter Cell

I haven't posted anything in a while, I thought the next thing I would put up was my review of Darksiders for the 360. It has taken me much longer than anticipated to complete though so for that you will all have to wait!

As I have previously expressed on here I am a ma-husive fan of couch co-op. Even the most terrible games can be epic fun when your playing in the same room and on the same screen as a buddy; so when a really good one comes along it’s worth talking about, even just for a little bit.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is that really good game. I haven’t played anymore of the single player campaign than the initial interrogation because that is where the demo starts, and for me; where it ended. I took no joy in smashing a man’s head into a sink or through an occupied toilet’s door. It was altogether wrong and didn’t seem to fit with what I loved about the first Splinter Cell game – super stealth. Sam Fisher’s (Splinter Cell's lead character) Jason Bourne style makeover had already made me dubious about how seriously this game was going to take it’s stealth origins so this start to the demo was enough to push this game right to back of my list of things to play. Behind Russian Roulette even. That was until a mysterious man (my mate Sam) invited me to play the game on co-op in realistic mode. Not one to refuse a challenge and always up for double teaming AI I accepted and I spent the next two nights thoroughly wrapped up in a world of Sonar vision and co-operative executions.

The co-operative mode only consists of four campaigns of which I have completed the first three and each of which took at least four hours to do. Sixteen hours of co-operative content, not bad at all. Best of all though is that while playing co-operatively your character is independent of your buddy’s. There are few points on each level where both players are needed – each level ends with a door so with a lock so mighty that a single crow bar isn’t enough – your combined force is just enough and throws you into a fire fight, which in this game is a terrifying concept but it is a nice way to break up the play between pulling people off ledges and slide tackling them down stairs. But just because the game isn’t forcing you to work together doesn’t mean that you can’t and the game is cleverly engineered to reward you for doing so. For example: the game has this feature called executions, this enables you to mark targets with the shoulder button (up to three) and then kill them all with a single press of Y. If you do this with a buddy though you share targets, so if there are two dudes I can mark them both up and hit Y, on my buddy’s screen it flashes up to tell him what I’m doing and he can hit Y too meaning both targets will go down at exactly the same time as oppose to the first come first served basis you are restricted to on your own. Playing co-operatively in this game is a clear advantage, your buddy isn’t a burden as in Army Of Two or Fable II, it’s because of this independence that the game is so fun to play with a friend because it is totally up to us how we help each other out. You go along the pipe and I’ll shoot the lights as you go  or I’ll run past this guy so he looks at me then you grab him from behind leaving me free to hack the terminal etc.

I find myself longing to play the final part, and if you haven’t played any parts than what are your parting at?!?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Lorne Lanning's Oddworld Series

I was on PSN yesterday and saw that the first entry in the Oddworld series of games (Abe's Oddysee) was available for download (£3.99). Obviously I brought it on the spot. I love this series. The first two games (Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exodus) were released on the PS1 (1997/99) and the gameplay was largely like that of games like Flashback or Another World. You got from static screen to static screen solving puzzles and avoiding enemies. They were difficult and funny and became famous for their great cutscenes. The last two games in the main Oddworld series (there are also three rubbish gameboy games) came out on X-Box.

Munch's Oddysee (2001) changed the gameplay into a 3D action-adventure, but with all the familiar Oddworld elements. It was full of puzzles, humour and attention to detail. It also boasted a new character (Munch) who added a whole new batch of skills into the mix, such as swimming. Finally, perhaps the best of the lot was Stranger's Wrath, which came out in 2005 to universal critical acclaim, but sold poorly. It saw you take control of "the Stranger", a Clint Eastwood cowboy figure who used local creatures to take out his enemies in various ingenius ways. This was the only game not to feature Abe and it makes no referance to the rest of the series. In terms of gameplay, it was more of a shooter with some open world elements.

Hopefully all the games will be given the same treatment as the first and might soon be readily available in some form again. If so, check them all out! Here are the opening intros of all four games, so you can get a sense of what these games are about (usually evil corporations trying to exploit and often eat their workers):

Abe's Oddysee intro

Abe's Exodus intro

Munch's Oddysee intro

Stranger's Wrath intro