‘And The Lord Said, Let There Be Rock…’ – Guitar Hero III Review

GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK (2007) – RED OCTANE

GH3 PS2 Coversheet.ai

NOTE – Although I’ve had the pleasure of playing the Xbox 360 version many times, this review is for the PS2 version of the game.

When I reviewed the original Guitar Hero, I mentioned how its greatest achievement was that it managed to make even the most musically inept player feel like a rock god as they strummed along on a plastic instrument – a major feat that created a thirst not even the excellent soundtrack could fully satiate. A sequel therefore was inevitable, and Guitar Hero II duly obliged; but while II subtly improved the gameplay experience (including the addition of a Training mode), personally I was never won over by the soundtrack. Sure, the likes of ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ & ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ provided the classic riffs and ‘Jordan’ became a legendary test for expert shredders, but overall it never reached the consistent heights that the first game reached. The dilemma that would always rear its ugly head therefore was do I play the better songs on the more unforgiving first game, or enjoy the gameplay but sacrifice the enjoyment on the second?

The solution was simple. Play Guitar Hero III instead, a game which for me marks the apex of the series. Continue reading

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Deliver Those Pizza’s Or You’ll Flip Out! – Spider-Man 2 (2004) Review

SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004) – TREYARCH

I'll admit, I was tempted to hijack this review with 60s Spiderman memes...

I’ll admit, I was tempted to hijack this review with 60s Spiderman memes…I’ll settle for one. For now

The release of an inevitable tie-in game for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has reopened an old can of worms – the debate as to which is the web slinger’s best outing on consoles.

For most, the licensed games of the 1990s are near the top of the pile; in particular the side scrolling beat-em-up Maximum Carnage for the SNES, and the terrific PS1 installment simply called Spider Man (tapping into Spidey’s massive popularity during the decade, enhanced no doubt by the excellent animated series with that intro theme). Others have championed some of the more recent glut of titles produced under Activision’s hand that have somewhat paled in comparison to the quality of Rocksteady Studios Arkham games for Batman, including Web Of Shadows and the story hopping Shattered Dimensions.

For myself however, one game stands head and shoulders above the rest; a game that manages to perform the dual miracle of being a surprisingly playable movie tie-in, and more importantly nails that feeling of being the friendly neighbourhood wallcrawler – enter ‘the amazing’ Spider-Man 2 from 2004. Continue reading

Jak & Daxter Trilogy Collected Review – (The Precursor Legacy, Jak II & Jak 3)

I always tend to surprise myself when I consider that despite being a massive fan of the original Crash Bandicoot series, I never got into Naughty Dog’s next project on the PS2 – the Jak & Daxter series. I never noticed the games in the shops first time round, and by the time I had developed a slight interest, I had already played the Ratchet & Clank series to death, finding a new platforming hero in the process.

As has been the case of the past few years, in the post Christmas period I have been looking to catch up on a bunch of games I have missed from the past decade or so, and thus placed Jak & Daxter high on my list of priorities. After a quick triple purchase from a well known online retailer, I now have the three games of the PS2 trilogy, and have been playing them to see how they compare to the Ratchet & Clank trilogy. Continue reading

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Review

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 3 (2008) – ATLUS

And the prize for boxart that gives nothing away goes to…

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is oft considered as a modern classic; a game that came from virtually nowhere to give the JRPG genre a serious lesson in style in the midpart of the last decade. Mixing the simulation of a normal Japanese high school life with a dark story and a pulsating atmosphere, it won over critics and provided the base for the excellent sequel, Persona 4. This summer, I put aside some time to go through Persona 3 and see what makes it a fan favourite. Continue reading

The Gambit That Got Away – Final Fantasy XII Review

FINAL FANTASY XII (2006) – SQUARE ENIX

The Judges (arbiters of law in Ivalice) get some truly badass armor

Considering that it had a record development period of five years and the budget of a small Hollywood picture ($48,000,000 if reports are accurate), the first word that comes to mind when I consider Final Fantasy XII is…disappointment. It reviewed very highly upon its release, but after a recent playthrough I simply couldn’t understand the hype. No doubt it is a finely produced game, one of the best that you can find on the PS2; but for sheer gameplay it falls well short of the lofty heights reached by its predecessors. Continue reading

Hendrix, Ozzy & Brian May…Live From Your Living Room – Guitar Hero Review

GUITAR HERO (2006) – HARMONIX

Originally, Acclaim were going to publish the game, but passed on the basis that no-one would buy the peripheral. How wrong they were

The Guitar Hero franchise is one of few game series that I have played that has the rare power to completely adjust reality. From the outset, you know it looks daft: holding a small plastic guitar, you klack along to notes running across a screen while onlookers watch in amusement and shout at you to learn a real instrument. But within seconds, as soon as you enter the groove it feels like the real thing – instead of standing in your living room, you are the guitarist from the song, belting out the tune. And the result of this is cramped fingers and more importantly, a big grin across your face. Continue reading

Ratchet & Clank, Going Commando & Up Your Arsenal Collected Review

When Insomniac Games announced that they were done with Spyro The Dragon at the start of the millennium, their fans (myself included) eagerly anticipated the results of their next project. The eventual outcome was a new platforming duo, Ratchet & Clank, who continued Insomniac’s great run of form and became part of a trio of mascots (alongside Jak & Daxter and Sly Cooper) who would keep the platforming genre alive on the Playstation 2. With the recent release of the original trilogy of PS2 games in high definition for the PS3, I went back to play the original three to see how they have held up over time. Continue reading

An Average Trip Through The Starry Seas – Rogue Galaxy Review

ROGUE GALAXY (2007) – LEVEL 5

Don’t you wish you were so important that you would get a entire star system named after you?

As far as alluring concepts are concerned, being a space pirate has to rank up there with the best of them. Just imagine; trawling the widest reaches of the universe for fantastic treasures – it’s enough to bring to out the adventurous kid in anyone. Rogue Galaxy (which was an original project by Level 5) aims to capture this feel, and set it within a RPG mainframe. The end product is a very nice concept with several praiseable qualities, but a product that ultimately does not deliver the satisfaction that you were perhaps expecting from it. Continue reading

‘So Who Wants To Talk About Murders?’ – Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Review

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 4 (2009) – ATLUS

A colourful box for a wonderful game

Do you ever get the feeling sometimes that something great has happened but you have been left out of the loop? For me, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 represents that exact feeling. For years, I have read lists that have constantly cited this game as one of the great modern RPG’s, and yet wherever I looked I was unable to find it for sale. Then last November, the game was made into an anime, which I was encouraged to watch with a few close friends. Having the seen the first episode, I decided to bite the bullet and scour the interwebs for a copy. Happily, I found one for a cheap price and in mint condition – and I’m ecstatic that I did, because Persona 4 (hereafter called P4) is arguably the best game I have played in years. Continue reading

‘I Fought The Law, And I Won…By Driving Away’ – Need For Speed: Most Wanted Review

NEED FOR SPEED MOST WANTED (2005) – EA CANADA

Maybe they will blind themselves looking at my shiny, shiny bodywork....

For anyone with a memory longer than 7 years ago, the recent drab sales of Need For Speed: The Run over the Christmas period may come as a bit of a surprise to you. Need For Speed was once a franchise that was almost guaranteed the top spot in the UK charts over the festive period, but a series of uninspiring sequels have left EA’s once golden goose a bit rusty; the likes of Carbon, ProStreet & Undercover were terrible games trying to stretch the ‘Pimp My Ride’ culture beyond its respectable lifespan, and while Hot Pursuit returned some of the glory of the series, it was made by Criterion – the creators of Burnout who know what they are doing. Need For Speed is still in dire straits then, and I can’t really work out why the series hasn’t improved on its finest hour; the 2005 entry, Need For Speed Most Wanted. Continue reading