Archive for June, 2013

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Blood Dragon is the perfect piece of stand-alone DLC. Much in the same vein as others that have come before it, Infamous, Sleeping Dogs and Red Dead Redemption, it is an expansion that removes itself entirely from the lore and sensibilities of its predecessors. Infamous Festival of Blood was all about Vampires and Sleeping Dogs and Red Dead Redemption continued the horror trend with ghosts and zombies. Now as much as it was fun to hear about these expansions I am sick to death with zombies and the un-dead this generation. So I was over the moon when the teaser poster for Blood dragon was released and it looked like someone had vomited the 80’s everywhere! The neon, the heavy metal logo, the wire frame mountains and the deep hues of navy blue and dark purple. I couldn’t have been more hyped if I tried. I just hoped that this wouldn’t be another bland stand-alone disappointment. It wasn’t!

Blood Dragon starts with a glorious 32bit style cut-scene that is as ridiculous and far-fetched as it is funny! The game is set in an alternative 2007 (you remember those sci-fi action films from the 70’s and 80’s that showed the year 2000 as a war torn holocaust? Yeah, this is that!) And the world is recovering from the fallout of Vietnam War II. You play as main protagonist Sergeant Rex Power Colt. A renegade soldier who, to quote the game, is part man, part machine, ALL cyber commando. And his mission is to thwart a cyborg army called Omega Force and save the world from another nuclear catastrophe like the one that befell Canada!

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So far so silly. And it doesn’t stop there. During the game Rex will jump the shark (literally), ride self-aware cyber blood dragons and assassinate this world’s version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Short as this game may be it never lets up on the action. Like Far Cry 3 you still have an open world to explore but it’s much smaller and much more traversable than its predecessor. This being said the map is still full to the brim of cyber demon wildlife to hunt, enemy barracks to liberate, side missions and a plethora of collectables to seek out. And this is a game that wants you to succeed. Very early on you can unlock maps that show you where all the collectables are. This makes exploring and hunting feel like much more of an adventure and less of a slog.

Levelling up Rex has also been streamlined for a quicker less hassle experience. Gone are the skill trees of FC3. Instead every time Rex gains a level he will gain a pre-selected ability. This ranges from an extra health slot to increased speed and reduced noise whilst in stealth mode. Thus away is taken the stress of deciding where to drop skill points.

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The weapons also deserve a special mention as they are a joy to mess around with. Not since Borderlands 2 has a game made me smile as much as when I’ve upgraded some of these machines of death. You start off with the basics (all of which are named to reference some awesome action films. The shotgun is aptly named the Galleria 1991, a direct reference to the Terminator films) but soon these are pimped up to the max! My basic one barrelled shotgun is now a quadruple barrelled explosive flame ammo’d weapon of mass destruction. And it kicks ass!

The main story arc isn’t that long but the distractions in this dingy violet world are vast. Every time you liberate a base this then unlocks side quests which in turn upon completion award you with exp, money and new upgrades for your arsenal. So there is soooo much here to keep you occupied. Even after the main story is done you are free to explore and maim to your heart’s content whilst you strive to obtain 100% completion.

The music is also fantastic. A mixture of grimy sci-fi clichés such as the Aliens or Terminator themes. To full out full blown awesome 80’s cock rock! Seriously there is very little time for you to frown during the course of this game as you’ll be smiling so much.

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I only have very two tiny little niggley niggles with the game. The first is that I played through on normal and the game goes very quickly from being fairly challenging to a walk in the park. Mainly due to the very generous amounts of experience that is handed out for very nearly everything you do. And the other is that WHERE THE HELL IS THE FINAL BOSS FIGHT?!?! The end of the game does a brilliant job of ramping up the tension and action for what is surely going to be one of the greatest fights in videogame history, only to relegate it to a short 32bit cut scene. For shame. It did make me feel a little short changed after enjoying the journey to this point so much.

And finally a very quick word on the stars of this masterpiece, the blood dragons themselves. Towering and menacing, these neon striped beasts really are a force to be reckoned with. Not only are these deceptively large hulks quick on their feet (claws?) but they can also shoot freakin’ lasers from their eyes! YEAH FROM THEIR EYES! However they can be of help to you in the game. You see every time you loot the body of a fallen enemy you take their cyber heart. Now cyber hearts just so happen to be a blood dragons favourite treat. So after you have stealthily infiltrated an enemy base and lowered the shields surrounding it, just find yourself a nice quite spot and toss a heart into the middle of the barracks and sit back and enjoy the carnage as one of these unstoppable beasts tears it apart for you!

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That about wraps things up really. There still feels like there is so much to talk about and go into but half the fun is finding all these silly easter eggs and references yourself. Like I said at the start this really is a perfect slice of gaming. At £11.99 you definitely get your money’s worth. With so much content, action, humour and gameplay at your fingertips you will probably be left asking yourself, as I did, why can’t some full blown full priced retail games be this good? Well stop wasting time listening to me wax lyrical for another hour. Go and download this game. It’s a simple as that! You won’t regret it!

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When you think of Resident Evil what do you crave? Limited ammunition? Tough creative bosses? A whole complex to explore with plenty of backtracking and a secret underground lab? Silly dialogue? Crazy buildings designed by insane architects with a fascination for weird keys?

Then stop right there! You are obviously an old school RE fan who has been left wanting a classic feeling RE game since Resident Evil 4. If you do fall into this category then I strongly urge you to go out now and pick up a copy of Resident Evil Revelations HD and enjoy the best RE game this generation! Everything I mentioned in the list above is here in this game, whole and intact!

Whoever it was at Capcom that suggested that the series returned to its roots needs a goddamn raise. Everything about this game feels like classic Resi!

The game is set in-between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, and you will get to experience play as Jill Valentine for the most part whilst occasionally jumping into Chris Redfield’s shoes and a few other forgettable characters. The main game itself is set on the SS Queen Zenobia. A huge abandoned pleasure ship where Chris Redfield’s tracker went dark. So it’s up to the other protagonist from the original Resident Evil and her partner Parker Luciani (the least annoying of the new characters) to track down the ship and find Chris.

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Like I said the majority of the game is set on the Zenobia, and acts as a huge explorable environment just like the mansion or RCPD police department from previous games. But fear not, the environments are just as varied as the review scores for RE6. You will be exploring abandoned casinos, wartorn shopping malls to grand brightly lit halls. The narrative will occasionally take you to some other environments such as a snowy mountain range or a Hunter infested Office block. As I said these areas aren’t as much fun as the boat. Mainly because it detracts from the main story and you just find yourself wanting it to be over as soon as possible so you can get back to the fun of exploring the Zenobia with Jill.

And boy oh boy exploring the Zenobia feels GREAT! It is classic hardcore RE down to a T! In place of generic zombies are a whole new plethora of tough slimy enemies created by the new T-Abyss Virus (yeah, I know). You will constantly be on edge as these slippery bastards can appear from anywhere! Another welcome trope that returns is the scarcity of ammo. In many a chapter I found myself completely out of bullets with only a knife to defend myself. I personally loved this as I had to re teach myself the joys of ammo conservation.

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Furthermore in relation to the exploration, SILLY KEYS ARE BACK! And they all have a navel theme (anchor key etc). You will find yourself on many an occasion, as you wade through old reports and journal entries, chuckling to yourself as you read about why certain mechanisms and keys were necessary in the creation of this ship. It’s just all so dumb but never the rubbish Michale Bay dumb that 6 aspired to. It’s more of an endearing dumb. Think if Amanda Bynes was a computer game.

Combat is fine. More along the lines of Resident Evils 4 and 5 than 6. Nothing to write home about but it does the job perfectly. One noticeable change to proceedings is the Genesis Scanner. Pressing the appropriate button will let you scan the immediate area for hidden items and clues. You can also scan enemies and after a certain amount of them have been scanned you will be rewarded with a green herb. This is neither here nor there for the most part as herbs aren’t that uncommon but it is an invaluable tactic during the games ultra-tough boss battles.

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Then after you have exhausted everything the Zenobia has to offer there is Raid mode to tackle. This is a mode that can be done either in single player or multiplayer form and is pretty comprehensive and deep. Think of this as mercenaries with a bit more bite and varying objectives. You have a vast array of characters to choose from, all with their plusses and negatives. For example Jill is an expert with a pistol but won’t wield a shotgun as effectively as Chris. All characters can be leveled up, as well as equipped with their own individual loadouts. BP (the currency used in Raid mode) can be used to buy new weapons, ammunition, upgrades and buffs. My one major gripe with Raid mode is that ammo does not reset for each match. So say, for example, you use start a match with 8 magnum rounds and use them all in that match, when you start a new match you will still have no magnum rounds. You either have to spend BP on replenishing your ammo or wait until you find some in a game.

Finally a quick shout out for the score of the game. In a word, brilliant. Suitably eerie, sweeping orchestral music haunts your ears as you search the dilapidated surroundings of your sea bound tomb. Always managing to keep you on the edge of your seat without ever feeling like it’s intruding on the experience. It spookily echoes the genius that was the music score of the original RE.

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And talking about echoing the series roots, the game does end with a hint that Jill and Chris will be returning for another outing in a similar vein to Revelations. ONLY THIS TIME IN A MANSION! If that’s not reason to get hype bananas up to the eye holes then I don’t know what is!!!

So there you have it, a fantastic, but not perfect, return to form for a beloved and cherished franchise. This may not be the absolute return to form that die-hard fans have been wanting for so long. But it is without a doubt a step in the right direction! Go and buy this game and step once again into the world of survival horror.