The 30 Day Video Game Challenge #6 – Your Favourite FPS Game

Ah yes, the humble FPS game. A genre loved and lauded in equal measure. The bane of parents everywhere. Seriously, when I’m in Asda and there are children whos age can still be counted in single figures picking up COD: Black Ops off the shelf and going to the parents to buy it, something’s not right.

Now… I’m not going to sit here and talk about the above anymore. To do so would be hypocritical, as my sneaky youth activity is the subject of todays post. When I was younger, I played Doom 2 before I was 15. It was the rush of doing this even though I know I shouldn’t. That was then… fast forward over a decade and the genre has evolved far beyond the pixelated work of ID Software and John Romero.

But it’s Doom II which keeps me coming back for more. I think Doom is the only game which can still scare me (if not the only game which does) even though I’ve played it more times then I care to count, and I know the levels inside out, and what’s around every corner. I still leap out my chair at times. That might have something to do with playing it in the dark with booming headphones.

So yes.. Doom II. My favourite FPS game.

The 30 Day Video Game Challenge #5 – Your Favourite Adventure Game

A shorter post today because i’m not feeling too good, but want to keep up with the challenge. When you say adventure games, I can’t help but to think of point ‘n’ clicks. My favourite of these has to be The Curse Of Monkey Island for the P.C. I’ve replayed it many times and it’s still enjoyable to this day. The cheeky pop-culture parodies, the humour and the general game design is great. It’s colourful, memorable and most of all, it’s fun. You can get this game pretty cheap now, I strongly suggest you go out and get yourself a copy of this superb 2-disc game.

I’ve spent many a summer playing this game, and the jokes and humour still gets me — I’ve included the intro video below for you to enjoy. I hope you enjoy it.

The 30 Day Video Game Challenge #4 – Your Favourite Fight Game

Fighting games are something of a new enjoyment for me as of late. I’ve never felt much gravitational pull to them before, but I have to say, there are a couple of titles which stand-out and as possible contenders for this question. I came very close to giving the nod to Streets of Rage 2 for the Megadrive/Genesis… but there again I like Mortal Kombat also. I’ve somehow managed to elude Street Fighter for the most part of my life. However, I think out of all the fighting games I’ve played, Tekken 6 has made the biggest impression on me. It was the first game I got for my PS3 (yeah, go ahead and laugh – Uncharted 2 was brought just after… There… I redeemed myself :-P) but it was a good price, and I was right place, right time.

The game has a MASSIVE roster, and plays smooth like butter. The loading times are a bit annoying, but nout major really. The online multiplayer is a blast of fun, I’ve had some great times and laughs with my friend across town. The scenario mode is the closest thing to Streets Of Rage 3D we’ll ever get… (seriously though, don’t make SOR 3D, keep it 16-bit, please) and the single player is as challenging as you make it.

Not since WWF Attitude/ECW Anarchy Rulz on the PSX have I had to start memorising button combinations for moves. I’m yet to hit a 10-hit combo, but a 4 hit combo into a wall damage spot soon brought the health meter down! Cut a long story short, I have an absolute blast playing this game, and I hope to do so for more time to come!

P.S. Lili Rochefort FTW

The 30 Day Video Game Challenge – #3 – First Game You Finished

If there are one series of video games, or video character which installs more nostalgia in me then anything else. It’s got to be Sonic The Hedgehog. Looking back, I’m sure this was the first game that I ever completed. Over the years following I must of completed this game numerous times, explored every inch of every level, had the soundtrack embedded into my mind, my brain, my subconscious, so much so that I’d say the music of this game (as well as the sequels) are an integral part of the soundtrack to my youth. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is my favourite sonic game ever (that title goes to Sonic 2 I think, it’s a tough question to answer) but, as one game that illustrates my youth, and installs happiness and nostalgia a-plenty in me. Then look no further then Sonic The Hedgehog on the Mega-Drive/Genesis.

Each zone is an absolute classic. From Green Hill to Spring Yard via Star Light and Labyrinth. Each one is fun, memorable and has replay value in abundance. I’ve actually ended up owning this game on just about every platform i’ve been able to get it on. That’s how much I love the Sonic games.

The 30 Day Game Challenge – #2 – Worst Game Ever Played

JHBanner

The challenge continues with the question ‘Worst Game You Ever Played?’ – Some of you may have got it from the banner above, but if you haven’t, then it’s Dr. Jekyll & Hyde for the NES. I had never heard about this game until recently when I was revisiting some of the older AVGN episodes and he took a look at this game. I watched in pure shock at what he was presenting to us. The game looked amazingly poor, but me being me, i thought to myself, just how can it be?

Well, that was a mistake. It really was as shockingly bad as James Rolfe made out. No joke, I died within about 15 seconds of starting the game. Game over screen after 15 seconds? What the?! The gameplay on this thing is absolutely terrible. The game has poor flow, and the idea of the game isn’t clear. I turned it off after about 10 minutes. Normally I’ll give games a go and try out things I wouldn’t normally play, but this game is just shockingly awful. I don’t think I’ll ever play anything that was as poorly executed and as awful as this.

I suppose one good thing about the game is that the title screen music is good. It set’s the mood nicely, shame the rest of the game is lacking.

Seriously, avoid this game and play something better, it doesn’t take much.

The 30 Day Game Challenge – #1 – Best Game Ever Played

DrakeBanner

A challenge has been accepted! Throughout May, I’m going to be undertaking the 30 day Video Game Challenge. There are some great questions posed, and I’m sincerely looking forward to working through them. 30 days… 30 video games.

The challenge kicks off with the question ‘Best Game You Ever Played?’ – There was little question as to what I had to post, without a doubt it was Uncharted 2 for the PS3. When I first got my PS3 I asked around as to what game I should get for it first, and just about everybody answered straight back with Uncharted 2. Well… I got the game, and subsequently ended up kissing goodbye to sleep. This game redefines what a video game can be and what it can achieve. The game is essentially national treasure meets tomb raider meets metal gear solid meets splinter cell meets awesome.

You play as Nathan Drake, a seemingly fearsome treasure hunter who has an uncanny ability to avoid death and/or serious injury along the way. The story mode is so immersive, it begins to blur the lines between video game and movie. The game plays out like the greatest action movie ever. Each of the characters were mo-capped and voice recorded at the same time by developers Naughty Dog. What this means is we get flawless voice acting, wicked character interaction and a sense of quality.

The gameplay itself is wonderful with the game moving seamlessly between platforming, shooting, cover/stealth, melee and cutscene. Each chapter is presented without loadtimes which allows for a perfectly flowing experience… All this, before I even mention the M word… Multiplayer. Uncharted 2 online is just cracking, with all the usual shooting game modes: Deathmatch, King Of The Hill etc. I’ve lost complete days on this game playing online. This game is just that good, that addictive and that perfect.

Contender for best video game ever. Seriously.

I’ve included the trailer below… By the way… this is all in-game footage – No Trailer only CGI nonsense.

Soundtrack Of The Month: May 2011 – Inglourious Basterds

So much can be said for Mr. Tarantino’s film-making credentials; it’s all been wrote before, they are second to none. One thing I always look forward to with his films (and even on repeat viewings) is just how well the music fits the film. He has an incredible knack of choosing the right piece of music to go in at the right time.

I remember reading before that he used to sit in his room, listening to records and imagining cinematic scenes to go alongside the music. For this months SOTM, i’m going to be looking at Inglourious Basterds, his most recent work. It’s a WW2 film, and it’s classic Quentin terrortory. Just like Kill Bill, this film is told in chapters which gives it a unique feel and style which is pure Tarantino. He worked with Sally Menke (RIP) on this film, just like all his others, but the editing of this film is exquisite. The tension which is created is fantastic. It’s like an elastic band being stretched, you can see it beginning to fray and you sense it’s about to snap… it’s coming!

IBAnyway, enough pontification about the film-making side of aspects. This is a soundtrack article at least. I was lucky enough to see this film whilst I was on holiday, and the cinema I saw it in had an absolutely belting sound system which was very well setup. It was loud, crisp, deep and powerful. When compared to my local cinema, it wins on all counts.

QT worked with Ennio Morricone again (after Kill Bill Vol. 2) on a few pieces; one of which has a spaghetti western feel, which again is classic Quentin Tarantino. Essentially, the film is America vs. Germany, with America prevailing. That coupled with the WW2 timeframe means QT has included some vintage tunes from Germany which are in stark contrast to the pop-culture offering from David Bowie.

Speaking of Bowie… I think it might be the best cut from the soundtrack (that’s not to say the others are weak I add) but when we first hear Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) in the film, set against the cracking slow motion cinematography made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Its one of the key scenes and is one of my favourite scenes in any film I’ve seen.

Billy Preston’s Slaughter is also a standout piece. It’s used to introduce us to Hugo Stiglitz and his backstory of how he came to be in the Basterds. When it first hits, it demands your attention. The guitar tone is like a chainsaw which gives it it’s edge.

All in All, this soundtrack is a wonderfully memorable one which adds another dimension and set’s of each scene/segment as apposed to just backdropping it. I’ll give this one a solid recommendation. 7/10

A Playstation Fiver (Angry Birds and Pacman C.E.DX) – Article #1

A playstation five is the new article I’m going to be featuring on this blog. Basically, I buy £5 worth of playstation store credit, spend it… and report back on what I get for my Lady Godiva (that’s £5 to non-english slang speakers)

I actually spent £5-23 yesterday but that didn’t sound nowhere near as catchy. I was able to take advantage of the spring offers on the store at the moment. This meant for my £5 credit I was able to pick up Angry Birds (£1.24) and Pacman Championship Edition DX (£3.99) so two games for £5 can’t be bad. I’d heard a lot about both titles and thought at that price I can’t grumble.

Angry Birds

They're Birds... And They're Angry...

First up, let’s take a look at Angry Birds – For those who don’t know, Angry Birds is a cult game done good. A staple of smartphone apps, the game has now made it’s way onto other platforms like the mac, PS3 and PSP. The premise of the game is really simple, you fire birds at some structures with the intent to destroy all the pigs (who for some reason are green) in or around the structure. It’s essentially a physics based puzzle.

As you progress you get more types of bird to catapult across the level. In total there are 5 types of bird, each with it’s own set of attributes/special attack as such. Some can divebomb, triplicate or just cause a big explosion. Nothing too complicated really.

The learning curve is pretty sweet. Once you get past the first couple of levels which introduce you to the game proper, the difficulty starts to rise and so does the complexity. Before you know it, operation bomb the crap out of the structure doesn’t work so well. It’s at this point you start to encounter some of the different types of birds, and you have to think about the speed and angle you attack from. It’s nice to see a game that requires a little bit of logical thinking which doesn’t take away the fun factor.

In terms of bang for your buck, there is an absolute shedload of value for money here. When I thought I’d completed the game, turns out I’d only completed episode 1… which comprised of 63 levels. There are 3 more episodes, comprising of 42 levels in episode 2, 45 in episode 3 and another 45 in episode 4. That’s 195 levels if my maths is correct. That works out at about 0.63 pence per level… and that’s before you get onto the special levels at the end.

Graphics wise, you don’t get anything special, some very flash-game-esque visuals, but this is not a bad thing. This is a game which doesn’t warrant sexy HD vistas, it just doesn’t need them. The important thing with any game is the gameplay, and this is where the game excels. It’s fun, it’s simple and it’s very very very addictive. If you’ve not played this already, download it. I’d give this game a solid 9/10. One of a few downsides is there is some pretty hefty lag/slowdown when things get busy.

And secondly – let’s take a look at Pacman Championship Edition DX.

I’ve logged a lot of hours of pacman over the years. I’ve gobbled up many a pill, ghost and fruit in my time. It’s one of my favourite games. However, the idea behind Pacman Championship Edition DX (C.E.DX from here onwards) is that it’s updated for a modern twist on the game. It’s part of a series Bandai Namco are doing dubbed Namco Generations, in which classic Namco games are given a modern twist and thrust upon us.

Normally, I’m very old-fashioned when it comes to companies updating games. I tend to have a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. So when I first heard about this game ages ago being updated and what-not alarm bells immediately began to ring. The non DX version came out several years ago, and the DX is more recent and is basically like a sequel, but more of a reworking/update. It’s Pacman Jim, but not as we know it.

Fans of the traditional Pacman gameplay might be a little disappointed to discover that this isn’t your average affair (as was I) – if you like to gobble up a screen worth of pills, with no more then 4 ghosts chasing you before doing the same on screen #2, then this game might not be your cup of tea. Like I say… it’s Pacman Jim, but not as we know it.

PMCEDXThe game screen is broken up into two halves, and you gobble the pills shown on one side of the screen to spawn a fruit on the other side of the screen. Collecting said fruit then eradicates all the dormant ghosts on the other side of the screen. That sounds confusing I know… and it took me a few minutes to fully get my head around. In this game, ghosts appear ‘sleeping’ around the level, and as you move past them, they start to wake up and chase you a la normal Pacman. This means you end up with some pretty long chains of ghosts behind you (sometimes in excess of 30) — Power Pills aren’t in fixed places anymore, they can appear randomly, but they work the same way. They change the ghosts blue and you get to gobble the ghosts… Keep in mind the size of the chains you get here, eat a Power Pill, turn around… and it’s easily a 40 ghost combo, which is indicated by some light screen spamming and some controller vibration. Throw in a couple of modes (score attack, time trial etc) and you’ve got yourself a game…

Oh yeah… and the gameplay speeds up (to almost chaotic levels) depending on how well you doing, resulting in some very quick turns, action and a few choice words uttered when you balls up that one turn and pile drive straight into a ghost!!! It happens to all of us, and you’ll have a lot of fun there within!

One thing I should point out is the visual presentation of this title. Gone are the blocky textures of yesteryear and welcomed are the high-res textures and general HD-ness of Pacman C.E.DX – each level has a range of level graphic designs (one is like neon, one is like lego etc) and these can be chosen before the game. Pacman also has several graphical choices to deliberate over – ranging from a full bodied animated pacman to one that looks like it’s on a dot-matrix display… and everything in between. All in all, there should be something for everyone to settle upon.

The neon-esque graphics are my favourite. The graphics are smooth, colourful, bright and vivid. There is a little bit of eye burn (which I feel is important) – I’d put it up there close to titles like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Boom Boom Rocket (both on XBLA) in terms of eye burn-age, seizure inducing-age and general room light uperry. Sounds wise you get a techno style backing (which fits tbh) and the classic Pacman sounds.

My overall verdict is download the trial version on PSN/XBLA first and see what you think before buying. If you own the non-DX version, then you won’t find much new here. I’d give this game a 7/10.

So there you have it. £5 credit = 2 great games, and lots of game hours to be logged!

Awesome Video Game Themes – #3 – Fantastic Dizzy’s Minecart

I love this game so much, one of my favourites for the megadrive, and out of all the themes in the game (it’s a contender for best Sega soundtrack ever) this is a real standout

Awesome Video Game Themes #2 – King K Rool (Donkey Kong Country)

Without a shadow of a doubt, this has to be one of the best boss battle themes ever in video gaming history. This tune will now forever be stuck in your heads.

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