I apologise for starting a review so bluntly, but it seems that whenever I have witnessed Mass Effect 3 being mentioned in conversation, it is the finale that is the immediate point of contention. Rarely has the conclusion of a game been so poorly received; Bioware were only just cleared of a ridiculous court case that claimed that the game broke advertising rules by not giving players a satisfying ending based on their playing history with the franchise. The thing is though, it’s really quite sad – because ending aside, Mass Effect 3 is an excellent game and has much to praise. Continue reading Beyond The Finale, There’s A Game In There – Mass Effect 3 Review→
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM (2011) – BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS
It feels like a very long time since I queued in the cold to pick up a copy of Skyrim last November. Since that moment, hours and days have seamlessly passed me by as I have explored the vast and engrossing world that Skyrim offers up to those who take the plunge. A few weeks ago, I finally managed to complete all the major quests that the game can throw at you – and since then I have had the trouble to trying to evaluate in my own words what hundreds of publications have already elaborated upon. Perfect scores and ‘Game Of The Year’ awards across the board have cemented Skyrim as a truly magnificent achievement for video games; what follows is simply my two cents on what Skyrim had to offer to me. Continue reading Shoot A Dragon In The Knee, Save The World – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review→
19 – CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2 (2009) – INFINITY WARD
I can hear the snorts of derision from you as you read the title for this entry. Modern Warfare 2 is hardly revolutionary in terms of gameplay, plot, graphics or overall quality – how and why did it change history you ask? I find MW2 to be highly significant because it marks a transition from games being a basic entertainment pastime into something akin to the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
Modern Warfare and World At War had transformed Call Of Duty from being another average FPS into a marketing behemoth, and Activision certainly weren’t slow in pushing their weight around for the launch of MW2. The game received an intense marketing campaign around the world, and received pre-orders that smashed virtually all figures that had gone before it. It also piqued the interest of the press, who criticised the game for an optional mission in which the player can massacre civilians in a Russian airport. On launch day, it sold 4,700,000 copies worldwide and drew in near to £300 million in the UK and US alone. Within five days, it had garnered $550 million of revenue. With figures like that, it was quickly hailed as ‘the biggest launch in entertainment history’.
That record has not lasted long – ironically, the record was snatched by the next instalment in the series, Black Ops, just a year later…before the record got taken away by the instalment after that, Modern Warfare 3. These games were released in a culture that now accepts video games as a popular form of mass entertainment though; a culture that was cultivated by MW2’s impact.
20 – ANGRY BIRDS (2010) – ROVIO
The final spot on this list quite neatly considers a recent release, and the future that video games may have ahead of them. The mobile phone is a quite extraordinary invention – once upon a time it was like carrying a brick around in your pocket. As time has progressed, mobiles have evolved from being simple call making devices into entertainment mediums within themselves; you can take pictures, work out the weather, connect to anyone and so much more…which just so happens to include playing games.
Once discarded as a terrible and completely unviable idea (the Nokia N-Gage stands as a monument to its early failures), mobile gaming is the latest twist in the long road the video game industry has followed. Emphasising cheap, quick thrills that can be played at a moments notice, the market for such games has exploded with the force of a thousand suns, and no game represents the potential rewards like Angry Birds. The concept is blindingly simple; aim a selection of birds using a catapult to hit a structure in the distance housing villainous pigs: eliminate the pigs to earn points and progress to the next stage. All that is needed to operate the game is pulling your finger across the screen to aim the bird (disclaimer: you may well need a smartphone as well), and a few coppers in your pocket to purchase the game.
Since its release, Angry Birds has become quite possibly the most mainstream video game to ever exist. It has been ported onto several different operating systems including iOS, Android and PC, and when all is said and done has been downloaded over 1 BILLION times. It commands its own advertising empire ala Pac Man in the early 1980’s and is pretty much impossible to escape. And all this we have to remember has been achieved on a device used to call your parents for a lift. As much as the current big three wish to forage ahead with console games (which inherently offer more complexity and space for developers), there may be a time not too far away in the future when the likes of Nintendo and Sony will have to consider moving into the mobile games market. The next generation of gaming will be a very interesting battleground to observe.
Two summers ago (which seems like a bloody long time ago now), I found myself running a bit short on games to play through – I had completed Mass Effect more times than I care to remember, was getting bored of FIFA and wanted something new and a bit different to play. It just so happens that one day while browsing the shelves of a local supermarket, I saw a copy of Blue Dragon going for £5. Considering that I had played through and quite enjoyed another of Mistwalker’s efforts during the previous months (the often overlooked Lost Odyssey, which followed Blue Dragon), I decided to give it a go. The result? Unfortunately, a rather childish affair that disappoints on quite a few levels. Continue reading An RPG To Leave You Feeling Blue – Blue Dragon Review→
Let’s face it – Batman is cool. A billionaire playboy by day, and an ass kicking superhero with a million gadgets by night – quite simply, what’s not to like? There’s a good reason why the comics and the more recent films about the Dark Knight have done as well as they have; people have found the story of Bruce Wayne and his brooding alter ego to be fascinating over the years. It seems logical then that some intrepid developer would pick up on this success and produce games about Batman right? Well, over time they have, and there’s one small problem…
For the most part, the games have been utterly dire.
With the release of Tim Burton’s film in 1989, there came with it a plethora of cheap cash-ins for the likes of the SNES and the Mega Drive. From the mid 90’s onwards, the mere mention of ‘Batman’ and ‘video game’ in the same sentence was a death sentence, and lead to such garbage as Gotham City Racers. Up to 2009, it would be a fair argument to say that the best Batman game was Lego Batman; and as awesome as Lego may be, it doesn’t exactly capture the dark mood that Batman has established over the years. It looked as if we would forever be denied the opportunity to play a half decent Batman game. Enter Rocksteady Studios, a British company who only formed in 2004 and had only produced one game prior to 2009 (the underlooked Urban Chaos: Riot Response), who decided to make a game that would be worthy of being called a great Batman game. The result, Batman: Arkham Asylum, was not only by far the best Batman game ever created – it’s arguably the greatest superhero game ever created. Continue reading You’d Be Crazy To Miss This Asylum – Batman: Arkham Asylum Review→
THE ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION (2006) – BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS
Since November, I have been engrossed playing through the game that I feel was the Game Of The Year in 2011 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. As I sit here writing, I have put well over 100 hours into it without even scratching the surface of the possibilities, and I can’t advance with the main quest because I keep getting distracted by caves and settlements on the way that are simply begging to be explored. One day I will finish the game and give it a well overdue review and score, but before then I feel it is apt to look at its predecessor; another game that stole hours of my life – the fourth instalment of the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion. To say that Oblivion was a sensation when it was released in 2006 would be a fair judgement. The third game, Morrowind, had received generally positive reviews for its open end world and mixture of RPG and first person fighting elements, but there was a feeling that it could be so much more with a bit more polish, After four years in development, Oblivion represented that dream – although it still contained elements that held it back from perfection. Continue reading Kill Mudcrabs, Save The World – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review→
Welcome everyone, to the first of what I hope will become an annual event on this blog – my review of the gaming industry in the year that was 2011. On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to have consistently updated this blog throughout the year, and thank you to everyone who has supported it via constructive criticism, or even things as simple as comments and views – I hope to continue in a positive form next year. But alas, the world is bigger than myself, and that is what the focus is in this article.
It wouldn’t be a massive exaggeration to claim that this has been the biggest year for games in ages, certainly since the release of the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The overall calibre of games has been on a notable rise this year, with a handful becoming instant classics, and the industry as a whole has advanced even further to consolidate its place as a genuine rival to the other great entertainment mediums such as film. That is not to say the year has been devoid of mistakes and mess-ups; amongst the success stories, there are a quite a few cock-ups that are well worth mentioning. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2011→
Welcome to Part One of a new initiative on my blog – the introduction of guest writers! This initiative will be part of a small series looking back at some of the most pivotal games on all time, focusing on the efforts on Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft and PC gaming – if it proves to be popular, I may well extend the project to take in other great names such as Sega and Atari. The basic idea for this project came about because I wanted to take a look back of ten years of Microsoft in the games industry, and then thought that it would be a worthwhile effort to include the other major players in the industry. What you will be getting is a series of top ten lists looking at the games which have defined the companies and their consoles – not necessarily the best selling games, but those which the writers feel have had the biggest influence over time.
And so to the writers themselves – I will be looking back at 10 years of Microsoft, and I have enlisted some of my good friends to write the lists for Sony and Nintendo – they will be revealed in due course. You know, to make it more exciting when you read them.
And so without further ado, here is Part One:
Top 10…Most Important Games On Microsoft Consoles
When the 15th November 2011 marched by a month or so ago, it marked ten years since Microsoft decided to chance their hand at the games industry. Taking the fight to Sony’s PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s Gamecube and Sega’s Dreamcast with its powerful Xbox console (the first to have an in built hard drive), they enjoyed a great deal of success and with the introduction of Xbox Live in 2002, they created an early monopoly on online console gaming that remains strong to this day. The Xbox, despite being crushed by the PS2’s enormous sales figures, nevertheless came out of the sixth generation as ‘the best of the rest’ with 24 million sales, and Microsoft blinked first in the seventh generation of consoles by introducing the Xbox 360 in 2005. With the 360, Microsoft have continued to battle Sony and Nintendo on a level playing field, and the console remains strong to this day, shifting 57 million units – needless to say, Microsoft’s decision to take the plunge in the console wars has been a very lucrative effort. Continue reading Top 10…Most Important Games On Microsoft Consoles→