Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

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Don’t let the understated and almost mute appearance of Strider fool you in the opening of this game. What is about to follow is one of the most explosive and action packed metroidvania games released in recent memory.

Developed by Double Helix Games, the people who also bought you the Killer Instinct reboot on Xbox One, players once again assume the role of Strider Hiryu in this revisiting of the classic 1989 arcade game. However Double Helix have done more than just take the original and slap a new coat of paint on it. Rather than do that they have completely rebuilt and refocused the game from the ground up.

As I mentioned, Strider is now a metroidvania type game. And why is this a good thing? Well apart from being possibly the greatest videogame genre out there, it now gives us a chance to experience being Strider in his purest form. With the amount of backtracking, exploration and combat now implemented in to the game you really get a feel for being the all-powerful ninja like never before.

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For the first few minutes of the game it’s business as usual. You run from left to right, spamming the attack button. Don’t worry folks, Strider’s trusty Cypher is still in play, and his trademark laser katana makes very short and satisfying work of many of the cyber enemies you face early on. However after a few of the early bosses have been vanquished and you’ve upgraded you’re Cypher and abilities a little, you suddenly realise that this isn’t the Strider of old. As you cast cursory glances over your map you can see that various areas that were previously inaccessible you can now gain access to. Perhaps you had the wrong element Cypher for a certain door that you can now smash through. Or maybe that double jump ability you just acquired will now let you reach an impossible looking ledge from earlier. And this exploration is really where the meat of the game is. Straying from the path is a fun, and to be quite honest, necessary past time. Doing this will gift your Strider with a whole host of new upgrades. Be it energy tanks, health increases or just different costumes. Oh and did I mention that some of the unlockables offer up new bonus challenges outside of the main game? Well they do. These range from timing based platform sections where your nimbleness will really be put to the test. And combat challenges that pit you against ever difficult and challenging enemies.

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Now I say that backtracking is necessary as the difficulty in this game can spike in a couple of places. After you’ve played the game for a couple of hours you will really be getting into the swing of things, annihilating enemies with absolute ease, only to suddenly come up against an insurmountable boss who can obliterate you in a couple of screen filling hits. Now like I said this only happens in a couple of places and can be frustrating even with a fully upgraded Strider. However I believe that it is important to remember that this is and old school game with old school sensibilities. Perseverance and pattern memorisation is the key. Stick with it and the sense of achievement is palpable.

I think that the real place where Strider stumbles is in the music department. The whole affair is a rather muted one, with only a couple of little jingles and sound effects standing out. Honestly if you asked me to hum a tune from the game I couldn’t. Even with the music turned right up to the max in the settings it just seems to fade into the background.

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But with that being said that is the only quibble that I have with what I consider to be a phenomenal reboot. If you had played the Vita or 3DS versions of Batman Arkham Origins earlier on last year but found it to be a bit plodding, dull and trite, then believe me Strider is the shot of adrenaline you need. The well-paced gameplay is perfectly balanced with the, mostly, challenging difficulty curve. Bombastic, crazy, hard and always beautiful to look at it is a game that can without a doubt stand side by side with the likes of Guacamelee!, Metroid and Symphony of the Night.

Left Behind Review

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Reviews
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So after two extensive playthroughs and finally managing to pick my jaw up off of the floor, I figured it was time for me to weigh in on my opinions of Left Behind, the only single player DLC to come to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Just a quick word of warning, I am going to try and avoid getting into spoiler territory, however as the game is quite short it’s going to be quite difficult to talk about it without mentioning some key points. So if you want to take the game head on without any idea of what’s going to happen then take my word that this is an incredible piece of content and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Ok so let’s set the scene. Oh and spoilers here if you haven’t even played the main game. So where does Left Behind fall chronologically in Naughty Dogs post-apocalyptic earth? Well, remember at the end of The Last of Us Ellie tells Joel that when she was bitten in Boston she was with her best friend Riley? And Riley was also bitten? Well guess what? You’re about to play through those harrowing events. Fun right? There is also a tie in comic by the name of American Dreams that is set just before the events of Left Behind. Don’t worry if you haven’t read it. It’s not essential, however there are a couple of references that you will miss out on and it is nice to see the world fleshed out across different forms of media.

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Now you might think that going into this DLC and knowing what the outcome of the story is might work against Naughty Dog in bringing us a new perspective on the world of TLOU. I am very very pleased to announce that it doesn’t. In fact if anything this three hour emotional rollercoaster is just another example of how much of a daring developer Naughty Dog is. In the space of time it takes you to complete Left Behind they have thrown so many new ideas and innovations your way that it really did put me in mind of playing Portal for the first time. Not that this is a funny puzzle game. But the fact that like Portal, Left Behind manages to squeeze so many fresh and exciting new ideas into its short play time that you do have to sit back and think to yourself ‘why can’t other developers show this amount of creativity in a massive 40 hour long game?’

Again it’s really hard to talk about a lot of these things as they are so much fun to discover on your own that it would be a shame to ruin them. I will talk about my favourite one here though, so if you don’t want to know then I’ll let you skip onto the next paragraph. As Riley and Ellie are exploring the mall they come across an old arcade. Now of course the game cabinets are broken and derelict but Ellie really wants to play one. Riley takes her over to The Turning cabinet starring Angel Knives. Remember her? Ellie talks to Joel about it when they come across a similar cabinet in the future. Of course the cabinet doesn’t work. However Riley takes Ellie’s hands and tells her to close her eyes. As Riley then commentates on what is happening in the game a fighting hud appears around Ellie’s face as she takes instruction from Riley and you, the player, are given button prompts on what to do. Throughout the whole experience all you are looking at is Ellie’s face. But as she gets drawn into her imaginative game and it concludes on her smile of pure adulation you can’t help but smile along with her as you see the joy she is experiencing. It’s an incredibly touching moment. And definitely one of many.

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However this is The Last of Us, and as we all know a piece of DLC can’t all be about two girls hanging out at the mall. Time to talk about the combat. Now I’ve read in at least one other publication that they thought the combat felt forced and got in the way. I have to disagree. I think that every time you are facing enemies, be they Clickers or humans, it felt completely in context with what was going on in the story. It’s also really nice to be controlling Ellie in combat again. As she is a much weaker and smaller character than Joel you have to rely on stealth a lot more. There is also the new mechanic of luring Clickers and infected to human targets and watch them take each other out. Very satisfying indeed. I also feel that had there been less combat then the climactic finale would have felt a little flat. Word of warning, just when you think you’re safe is when you’re at your most vulnerable 😉

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To be completely honest I think that the only gripe anyone could possibly throw at this miniature masterpiece is the price of entry. Sure if you’ve already bought the season pass and are getting the most out of multiplayer then this hasn’t really set you back more than a couple of quid. However if you, like me, are mainly interested in single player content then you would have had to pony up £11.99. Now I know that this really isn’t cheap at all as far as dlc goes. You could also argue that the length of the game, 2-3 hours, doesn’t justify the asking price. Trust me. Play the game. Enjoy the story. And marvel at the revelations. Then tell me it wasn’t worth it. Furthermore, like I’ve said, I’ve already played through it twice and am now gearing up for my Survival play through.

It might not seem that I’ve talked about a lot but believe me this gripping adventure is filled with collectables, conversations and hidden titbits. It is very very unlikely that you will see everything in your first play through. Naughty Dog have once again outdone themselves and shown that they are still the greatest developers around and not afraid to take risks. If you own a PlayStation 3 then you owe it to yourself to see where Ellie came from and what she had been through before meeting Joel. Like I said, this is a masterpiece and will undoubtedly be one of the best things you play this year.

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Trophy Whore

And so here we are. At the end of a very very long journey. That last bit was a little grim wasn’t it? All doom and gloom? Well don’t worry. Like I said, the golden age is just about to start…

And so I was living in Bristol. I had been there for about a year and I had been making new friends and enjoying my new life a lot. However there was one thing that was missing, and that was Simon. However, as mentioned before, I could be quite hot headed and I was too stubborn to do anything about it. Soon after this though I received a message from Simon on Facebook. And I’m going to be honest it really humbled me. I won’t go into the details here but it explained everything, and he told me about what had happened concerning the move and why he felt he couldn’t confide in us. It all now made sense and I now felt like a bit of a dick. He finished the message by saying how much he wanted to recover our friendship of old and come and visit in Bristol. I was straight on the phone to him. We hammered out some details and arranged for him to come and stay in a month or so. What does all this have to do with Playstation? I hear you ask. Well as we were now ‘friends’ again society states that one has to then fix all the damage done on a social technology level. And so Facebook friend requests were exchanged again. As were PSN names. And what I saw when Simon accepted my Playstation Network request shocked me to my very core.

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As I stated in the last piece I was primarily a 360 gamer at this point in time. Most of my friends in Bristol had 360’s and I had become a little bit of an Achievement Hunter. For those that don’t know, an achievement is a little score you get for doing a particular thing in an Xbox game. For example you might get rewarded with 100 points for completing the game on hard difficulty. Or it can be something silly like getting an Achievement in The Simpsons Game by pressing the start button. I wasn’t completely addicted to getting these, but I was revisiting a lot of my old games as it was nice to be rewarded and get bragging rights for playing things differently and experiencing the game in a different way.

Now Playstation didn’t have Achievements. They had recently introduced a similar system called Trophies. Every PS3 game at this point shipped with a specific number of bronze, silver and gold trophies that, exactly like XBOX, would be awarded to the player every time you fulfilled the requirement. The only difference was that with Playstation Trophies the player actually got a further reward by completing the trophy list. The much coveted Platinum Trophy. This differed greatly from the 360 as you didn’t get anything after getting all standard 1000 GamerPoints that were in a retail game. The numbers just got added to your ongoing total. However with PS3 all the trophies you earned got you experience which levelled up your player profile. And a Platinum trophy not only net you a hell of a lot of exp but also looked pretty darn cool. This also started the argument about what was better, the number of platinum’s a player had or the trophy level they were at. I personally think that it’s the number of platinum’s and, even if it’s a shitty game, you still have to dedicate so much time and skill to getting that trophy.

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But at this point I didn’t know that much about trophies or their function. All I knew was two things. One, they were the Sony equivalent of GamerPoints. And two, Simon had loads more than me. Seriously, because I had barely used the machine I had maybe a couple of trophies. Simon had hundreds. This would not stand. And so quite literally there and then my first trophy whore war began, as did the chain reaction of my love for the PS3. I had recently bought the Ghostbusters video game and I remember putting it in to the system straight away, checking the trophy list, and then replaying the game with what I had to do to get some of these trophies in the back of my mind. And it didn’t stop there either. I worked at Sainsbury’s at the time and in our car park was a Blockbusters. I loved this place. So many cheap second hand games so little time. I began going in there every lunch break seeing what I could find to get a platinum trophy in. phone in hand I had recently discovered a fantastic website, www.ps3tropies.org, which had guides on it for all ps3 games with trophies, gave you an estimated time to platinum the game, a detailed walkthrough and difficulty rating. This was my bible. Now many of my friends often berate me for my trophy addiction. There is no beating around the bush, an addiction is what it was at this point. And on the one hand I entirely agree with them. Yes trophies mean nothing. But on the other hand in my quest to outdo Simon I played some fantastic games and had some amazing experiences that I would never ever have come across had I not been on this journey. Games like Wolverine were a genuine joy to play. However due to reading middling reviews of it I would never have ordinarily touched it. Hell I used to actually sneak out of work for an hour at a time to run back home and play it just to get some trophies. I also came across other games that blew me away which I would never in a million years have played. If you would have told me years ago that one of my favourite games this generation would have been a movie licenced game based on a kids film I would have laughed heartily in your face. However Where the Wild Things Are was an amazing experience that, believe it or not, could easily be compared to the Team Ico games. And the only reason I initially went to it was trophies.

Beyond!

So suffice to say I quickly rose in the trophy ranks and started playing my Playstation more and more. It was also around this time that another defining factor in my PS3 experience came to light. I had been listening to IGN’s gaming podcasts for years. All the way back to their pc based AFK podcast. I didn’t listen to them religiously, only when I checked, on the off chance, that there were any new episodes of the Xbox podcast Three Red Lights or the broader videogame podcast Game Scoop. I enjoyed them enough. It was something fun to listen to on my walks to and from work or the forty minute commute I had to do back in Kent. The hosts on there always seemed to have a laugh and a good time and it was an easy way to keep up to date with the industry and what games were coming out. It was when browsing the IGN website one day that I discovered there was a Playstation podcast that IGN did called Podcast Beyond. And so I downloaded it, thinking that I might as well listen to it now I’m playing the PS3 more. Everything changed. I think that it was Podcast Beyond that made Playstation for me a lifestyle and no longer a hobby. Hosted at the time by Chris Roper, Beyond blew all the other podcasts out of the water.

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And I think I can narrow it down to one reason. Passion. These guys LOVED their Playstations. Be it PS3, PS2 or PSP these guys were so enthused by these devises and how they worked, where they came from, who made them, what they could do, that it was hard not to listen to an episode and become totally infected with their excitement. And it was funny to boot. Mainly due to the maniacal Greg Miller, I would often find myself laughing out loud as I listened with my headphones in on the way to Sainsbury’s. And hell if Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida is a regular listener they must be doing something right. Right?!

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So it is fair to say that my love and addiction was in avalanche stage at this point. It was just getting bigger and bigger and Sony seemed to be getting things right. And then Uncharted 2 came along and my faith and loyalty to the Playstation brand was 100% sealed. Spoiler alert but Uncharted 2 is my game of the generation. And I wasn’t even initially that excited about it. It came out on the same day as Brutal Legend which I was much more interested in playing. However, not one to mess about, I had bought a copy of each and spent the next few days playing through Legend. It was ok. Not a patch on Tim Schafer’s previous works and definitely didn’t hold a candle to Psychonauts. But it was alright.

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I then clearly remember waking up one Sunday morning and making myself a steaming hot cup of coffee. As I took the first few tentative sips downstairs in the kitchen I suddenly remembered I still had some Uncharted to play. Splashing some cold water on my face I went upstairs and popped the disc in. let’s see what all the fuss is about then. And see I did. In fact this is one of the few games that I have sat and played from beginning to end in one sitting. I was completely and utterly blown away. Everything this game was doing I had either never seen it done to this standard or it was completely fresh. I won’t go into too much detail as this isn’t a review but I will say this, the last time and game floored me in this way was when I first played through Half Life 2 Episode . It’s THAT amazing!

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It was from this point that the Playstation 3 truly became the console it always deserved to be. There always seemed to be some Playstation exclusive on the horizon that would be pushing the machines limits further and further. And these weren’t just great looking games but again most of these games are ones that have come to define this generation. God of War, Ratchet & Clank a Crack in Time, LittleBigPlanet 2, Demon Souls, Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Whitch, Sly Cooper 3, Infamous 2, Playstation Allstars and so so many others. Indeed it seemed for a very long time that the only way in which the 360 was trumping the PS3 was in the amount and quality of games it was offering exclusively from its online marketplace. Games like Shadow Complex were the only thing that kept me flicking the old machine on every now and then. However I shouldn’t have worried. As soon as Sony had their retail games strategy down to a T and started focusing on their digital developers those tables got flipped pretty quickly indeed sir! And again I feel I should point out that these download only games are not just good or even great, a lot of them are truly special and unique. Some of these have gone on to win Game of the Year awards over their multi-million dollar retail cousins. So if you do have a Playstation and want to know the best of the best on the Playstation store then be assured that there are a metric tonne of mind-blowing titles. Such as Guacamelee, Flower, Journey, Sound Shapes, Wipeout HD Fury, Shatter, Joe Danger and many many more.

Vita up my balls

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As this saga draws to an inevitable close it feels only right to talk very quickly about the PS Vita. A more recent addition to the Playstation family, this is one of the Sony devices that has got it right from day one and is still trucking at a good pace. I was so excited when I saw the Vita get announced. I loved my PSP but it never felt like a true extension of my home console experience. The Vita did. It felt like a handheld where the developers had listened to every criticism and made every effort to adjust and innovate where they could. You could say it’s the Assassins Creed 2 of consoles J this was everything and more I want in a handheld. Dual analogue sticks? Check. A unified account which links directly to your PS3? Check. Console standard graphics? Check. I won’t run through the whole list of what this baby could do but suffice to say it felt like I was leaving the store with a mini PS3 in my pocket when I bought it at launch. Hell you could even get trophies on it which added to your main score! Talk about hype! Not to mention that there is an entire catalogue of games on there that are cross buy and cross save. Meaning that, for example, you buy hotline Miami once on your PS Vita, you can then download it again at no extra cost on your PS3 and seamlessly transfer your saves across via a cloud storage system. This really is the perfect handheld. Not only do you have console standard games such as Uncharted or Killzone on there but there is also an ever growing library of phenomenal Indie games taking root on the system too. Furthermore you can also download all the PS1 classics and PSP games onto it too. It had always been a dream of mine to have a version of Final Fantasy VII in my pocket. And now that dream is reality! And probably its crowning achievement is whoever it was at Sony HQ making the decision to include it in Playstation Plus.

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What? Wait hang on! I haven’t spoken about Playstation Plus yet?!? Christ on a bike I’d forget my own head! Ok! Playstation Plus is Sony’s ace in the hole. It’s consistently the best deal in videogames. Basically you pay a flat rate of £11.99 every three months and every two weeks the Playstation Store gets updated with a load of free games that you can download at no extra cost. You get to keep these games for as long as you’re a member. And its not only games but you are then entitled to get discount off of a lot of things in the store and loads of exclusive themes and avatars are at your disposal too. Still on the fence? I was too. It wasn’t until I actually got a free trial and started downloading that it hit me full on in the face just what an amazing bargain this is. Still don’t believe me? I’m sitting in front of my TV at the moment and I can tell you exactly what you get right now. Grid 2, Guacamelee!, Remember Me, Giana Sisters, Dragon’s Dogma, Uncharted 3, LittleBigPlanet Karting and XCOM. That is a stellar list no matter how you look at it.

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You download just one of those games and that service has paid for itself. But is doesn’t stop there! Oh no. like I said the Vita is now included in this service. So if you own a Vita guess what? MORE FREE GAMES! Sonic All-star Racing Transformed, GTA Liberty City Stories, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush and Guacamelee again (cross buy remember). And in two weeks’ time that will be updated and there will be a slew of new games to get. So you see the Vita just makes sense. It is the handheld that not only the people need but the handheld that the PS3 needed. Pay attention Nintendo! This is how you do it! Oh and I almost forgot. The Playstation 4 is now included in that subscription too.

Playstation 4

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So how do I end all of this? How do I bring it to a close? Questions that have been gnawing at the edge of my mind ever since I started this journey. And only now has it dawned on me. I don’t. Playstation isn’t just something that is going to end for me. I will always be playing Sony Consoles until my dying day. The Playstation 4 is here now and all that means to me is that it’s time to start forging new memories. And indeed some are already getting made. I bought my PS4 on launch day. My friend Kurt came over to my house and we both experienced what was, for me anyway, the best console launch I’ve ever had. Hanging out with a best friend with beer and pizza. Shooting the shit and entering the next generation the way it should be. With a buddy and a bud. Two days later it was broken. Was I upset? Yeah a little, but I knew I could get a replacement and I know that this is only the beginning. There will be problems down the road. Of course there will. But as the PS3 has proven, with any relationship you need to try. You need to persevere and take the good with the bad. All the best relationships are the ones that require a little hard work. There will be ups and downs but if you can look back on your time together, into the golden glow of the past and say ‘wow, look at what we’ve done. Look at what we’ve achieved’ then it will have been worth it.

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Giant Enemy Crabs

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My first few years engaging with Sony’s newest black box on the market were much like that of Sylvester Stallone’s early Hollywood career. Rocky. At this point in my life (around about 2006) I had recently purchased an Xbox 360. And I frickin loved it. After getting so excited for the PS3 and then witnessing that infamous E3 reveal I had cast aside any aspirations of ever purchasing one. They looked bulky, the price was straight up dumb, no rumble feedback and the motion control looked abysmal (especially on games such as Lair). No my friends the Xbox was all I needed. With amazing games such as Mass Effect and The Orange box, which actually worked on the 360 compared to its outsourced PS3 counterpart, why would I ever need to even consider Sony’s device?

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My first actual hand on with the PS3 was also a lame experience. I was living in a shared house at the time and my friend Simon (Guitar Hero from part 1) had bought one close to launch and wanted to bring it over to show me. He did. I hated it. The one thing that did impress me from the off was how quite it was compared to the 360. You could barely hear it. But everything else was so weak. After Simon excitedly thrust the controller in my hand I gawped. It was as light as a feather. But not in a ‘isn’t technology great, this thing weighs nothing’ kind of way, more in a ‘holy crap I’m going to break this fragile piece of plastic if I so much as look at it’ kind of way. This coupled with the fact that the L2 and R2 triggers felt flimsy as all hell also didn’t help matters. And then came along Resistance Fall of Man. Impressed I was not. This was next gen?!?! Timesplitters on the last cycle looked better than this muddy grey piece of garbage! I couldn’t actually believe that people were buying this. The Xbox had Halo and Gears of War on it for crying out loud and they looked stunning. I then gave Simon the controller back and vowed to myself to never fall for the allure of a Playstation 3.

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However a year or so down the line after a colleague of mine at Starbucks looked at my payslip and told me I had been on emergency tax for the last year I got a tasty rebate. A tasty rebate in the shape of a thousand pounds!!! So what was the first thing I did? Well the first thing was a trip to Forbidden Planet in London to buy all 26 volumes of the Dragonball and Dragonball Z manga. And then, a few days later, spend the remaining money on a brand new Playstation 3 with some new games. The system had been out for a while now so there were a few games that I had heard were good and what with Metal Gear Solid 4 looking stunning and around the corner I knew that it was an inevitable purchase anyway. So I took my system home, plugged it in and played my two new games. Ratchet and Clank Future and Uncharted Drakes Fortune. And again if I’m honest, I felt a little underwhelmed. Ratchet just felt like an up scaled version of a game that could have easily been done on the PS2 and, apart from the amazing character dialogue, Uncharted didn’t feel like it was doing much the Prince of Persia trilogy hadn’t done before. And so I went back to my 360. The months rolled by and then Metal Gear Solid 4 arrived. I pretty much ran to my local Woolworths to grab a copy and then sprinted back home. So many reviewers had been giving this game ten out of tens! This was it! The justification for spending all that money on this hunk of circuit boards! This was going to be the game of the generation! And was it? No. it was ok. Again not terrible, but a very pale counterpart to previous iterations. And so MGS4 was completed and the console turned off again. This time for about a year.

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Gallia to arms!

That is until a game started getting a lot of hype in the magazines and websites I was reading called Valkyria Chronicles. Coming straight out of Japan this was a stunning and gorgeously cell shaded tactical RPG. And this DID look like the game I was waiting for. And so I waited and waited. I downloaded the demo as soon as it hit the Playstation network and my eyes were blown away. This was on a level with Okami in terms of sheer beauty. This looked like a watercolour painting bought to life! And the gameplay! Oh it was perfect, new and innovative.

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So I patiently awaited release day and when it finally got here I walked to Woolworths only to be told they didn’t have any in stock. I wasn’t too surprised as this was quite a niche game. Anyhoo I rang the nearest Gamestation (I say nearest, it was a whole town away and involved an hour and a half round trip on a bus) and asked if they had any. They had one copy which they agreed to put to one side if I picked it up that day. So on the bus I got, and forty five minutes later I was paying for my copy of the game. I was brimming with excitement and anticipation. Forty five minutes after that I was walking in through the front door of my house, hurriedly trying to get the game out of the damn cellophane. A further five minutes later, after brewing a cup of coffee, I was putting the game into the PS3. Three minutes later and the game was installing its data! I was so hyped! So ready to finally get some use out of this system I had paid so much for, to finally be playing a game that I actually wanted to play! One minute later and my PS3 had broken.

Don’t go into the light

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I felt like I had been thumped. How could this have happened?! Xbox’s broke, PS3’s were at least meant to be reliable. I had barely used the thing! I had different lights flashing at me and the heat pouring off the console felt like a Balrog was breathing in my face. I was instantly pouring over websites to try and find out what had happened. Some said that the disc drive was broken, and that seemed possible. It was playing DVD’s but it wouldn’t even register if I put a game in. Other sites claimed that it had probably overheated. I panicked. I put the PS3 straight into the freezer. Anything to try and get this problem rectified. Eventually, after about an hour of trying to fix it like a lunatic, I rung Gamestation. I knew that the manager had a PS3 and he would probably know what I should do. I was on talking terms with Milo, as I did frequent Gamestation quite often, and he used to come into Starbucks on a regular basis. I explained the situation and he asked if I still had the box and receipt for the console. I said that I did and he said that if I bought them back, even though I was well over the return date for faulty items, he would swap them for a new console. What a gent. And so I got the box and packed the PS3 up. Now if only I could find that receipt. Surprise surprise, I couldn’t find the damn thing. I spent an hour tearing my room apart looking for it and of it there was no sign. Great. Yet another obstacle and this time I looked royally screwed. I rung Milo back and explained the situation, fully expecting him to say that there was nothing he could do, but maybe he could help me with trying to fix it. And that is when, in my eyes at least, Milo went Super Saiyan. He told me not to worry about it. Just bring it back in the box and he’ll do the swap anyway. I could have cried. So I rung Simon and explained what had happed and he agreed to drive me to Gamestation to swap it (he was good like that) and not only did Milo swap it over for a new console but the new console had about 60gb more storage on it than the last one, AND it came with one of the new Dualshock controllers that actually vibrated and had a bit of weight to it! I was so chuffed. So eventually I went home set up the new system and played through Valkyria Chronicles with no hiccups. And it was, and still is, one of the best games I’ve played this generation, and it was only on Sony’s platform. Finally my relationship with this machine was starting to look up.

The trouble with Simon

And so my time over the next few years was spread pretty much evenly. I still favoured the Xbox, but the amount of quality titles on Sony’s platform was slowly improving with games like Infamous, Ratchet, God of War and Demon Souls steadily being released, things were looking up. However my personal life was taking a bit of a nosedive. Guitar Hero Simon was meant to move into our shared house with us. But we hadn’t heard from him or hung out with him in months. We were constantly trying to get a hold of him to find out what was going on and as various moving in dates came and went it became clear that the move wasn’t going to happen. Unbeknownst to me Simon was going through his own troubles at home that we didn’t know about. So being the slightly hot headed individual I can be I took this as a personal sleight, and pretty much cut Simon out of my life. Phone number? Deleted. Facebook? Unfriended. Playstation friends list? Blocked. I didn’t take any pleasure in this. Simon was one of my oldest and closest friends. The Yin to my Yang. To make matters worse a few months later the restaurant I worked in burnt down. I was out of a job, as were my other two housemates Chris and Matt who had both worked at Woolworths. After not being able to find work my only option was to move in with my dad. The only trouble with that was my dad lived in Bristol on the other side of the country. It would mean a completely new start. I wouldn’t know the area or know anyone. However with things the way they were at home it felt like it was what I needed. And so I gave myself a few months to tie up loose ends in Kent and hang out and play games with my housemates. At least the games couldn’t piss me off right?

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Wrong. The PS3 was still up to its old tricks. Soon after the release of the incredibly original Little Big Planet I had decided to set up shop in the living room with Mat and spend well over twelve hours of the day creating my own level. And if I say so myself the amount of blood sweat and tears I put into it in that space of time could have filled an Olympic swimming pool. I was just adding the final touches in the evening when Chris (who had procured a job at Waterstones) came through the door. Like an excited puppy greeting his master after being left alone all day I jumped at him wanting him to be the first person to play it in its entirety. As he started playing I watched him avidly to see if he was enjoying it. He was! Shit! Maybe my calling was to become a games designer?

‘Oh’ Chris then said. ‘Is this meant to be happening?’

I quickly looked at the TV. The whole thing had literally fallen apart. The level that I had made with my dreams and soul had broken like a cheap Ikea wardrobe. Then after spending about half an hour frantically trying to fix the level to no avail, I walked over to the PS3 in a dazed state, confused and angry, I hit the off button. This wasn’t just the games fault. As a Sony exclusive this was also, in my tired brains view on things, Sony’s fault and therefore the PS3’s also. I didn’t turn it on until a year or so later when I was living in Bristol and I heard from Simon. And that was when the golden age of Playstation 3 started…

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To be concluded in #PlaystationMemories Part 3

Holy Precursor Orbs Batman!! It has recently come to light that the ESRB have released a rating for the Jak and Daxter collection on the PS Vita! As a HUGE J&D fan, and proud Vita owner, the amount of hype filling me is currently leaking out of my eyeballs!

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Although this isn’t official confirmation of the game getting released, and there is no release date, it looks like we’ll be getting to play through the classic ps3 trilogy yet again!

Other information that we are left only to speculate on is information on cross save/buy. What would make sense would be for Sony to release a patch that would sync up with both versions of the game allowing you to transfer trophies and saves between the two formats.

The other exciting thing is thinking about what this will hopefully bring in the future. Is there a new J&D game in the works? Is this re re release a tool for building some hype? Are we going to see more HD remakes released for the Vita? God of War, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Racoon? The mind boggles and the nerd glands pulsate!

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Hopefully Sony will give us some more info soon and I promise to update the blog as soon as that happens! Well after I’ve mopped up after myself anyway J

Oh God of War DAMMIT! It has not been a good period for sequels. Halo 4 felt like an emotional step back after the wonderful games that were ODST and Reach. Dead Space 3 felt quite bland and unfocused after the two previous terrifying character driven games (don’t even get me started on the micro transaction pushing agenda). Resident Evil 6 was just…I meant seriously, what the actual fuck was that?! And Skyrim , although great, failed to soar to the magical, interesting, enchanting heights of its predecessor. And even though it was superior than its prequel, New Vegas was crippled by game breaking bugs at launch.

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So it is with a heavy, but unsurprised heart, to announce that GOW Ascension falls short of the mark when compared to its previous iterations.

Now just to clarify GOW Ascension is not a bad game. Indeed I wouldn’t describe any of the games mentioned on the list above as ‘bad’. All of them I really enjoyed. They just all seemed to take a step back from bars that were set so high by the originals.

So let’s get started! The way I look at GOW Ascension is that it is a bland by the numbers experience book ended by two classic, breath-taking and momentous boss fights. Seriously, the opening of the game had my heart in my mouth and my eyes popping out my skull. Not only were the visuals stunning but the boss fight was on a whole other level! You thought the Colossus was big? You aint seen nothing until you go toe to toe (or arm to arm) with the Hecatonchres! And equally impressive was the end game boss. Don’t worry I won’t spoil anything here. Suffice to say it is on par with the opening one.

Now onto my gripes. Very near the beginning of the game there is a stunning set piece where Kratos has to control 3 giant snake statues to gain access to the Oracle’s tower. And then that is pretty much the game done for huge typical GOW sets. Everything else after this feels very scaled down and minute compared to the opening hours of the game. There is a point near the end of the game where you are scaling a huge statue, but you do it only bit by tiny bit and you’re constantly popping in and out of it so you never truly get a sense of its scale.

I take issue with the music too. The usual GOW score is here and pops up in appropriate places. Other than that there are so many instances where there is no sound at all. Bar the sound of Kratos’ sandals slapping on the floor. Seriously there were a couple of points where I thought my game was glitched as I was fighting some battles in silence. So the whole music thing was a slight bugbear that took me out of the experience somewhat.

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Combat was fine. There is not a lot else I can say about that really. If you’ve played a GOW game before all the usual combos are here. All the buttons do what they did in previous games. Again my slight issue with this aspect of the game was that I felt the magic that Kratos used wasn’t as effective or as impressive as it was in the other games. My final issue with the combat isn’t down to the actual mechanics but rather the camera angles. Often during the game when you are fighting (usually during a boss fight) the camera will pan so far out that you physically cannot see what you are doing. And you leave your life in fates hands as you button mash and hope you don’t die. Seriously it would be the same as if the game just faded to black for ten seconds. It’s THAT obscuring. On Normal and easy this is just annoying. However on the two highest difficulty settings where a couple of hits can finish you, I’d imagine it’s downright mind numbingly infuriating.

The actual gore and violence itself retains its over the top crimson splattered glory. Gutting the brain of one of the huge elephant enemies is a highlight. As is using your blades to inflict splitting headaches on the medusas. However there are a couple of areas in the game where the violence is just plain out thuggish and nasty, and I found myself, as I did in GOW 3, losing all sympathy for Kratos. There is only so much of watching a large man recklessly stomping a woman’s face into the floor I feel comfortable watching. It doesn’t happen as often as in the third game but it happens often enough near the end that I didn’t want to watch anymore.

My final issue and I felt this was a bit of a biggie, was the QTE’s. I have no problem with them at all. HOWEVER there is a point in a fight near the end of the game where I was stuck for about 15 minutes because the game threw a new QTE action at you without even explaining what it was you needed to do. After 15 minutes of constantly dying I finally resorted to the internet to find out what to do and I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only one having trouble with this section. But you know what the clincher is? This action never pops up again? It is only ever used twice in the entire game and both times are in this boss fight. WHATS THE FUCKING POINT?!?!?

I would like to end this review on a positive note as it feels like I’ve done nothing but tear this game a new one. The puzzles in the game are genuinely satisfying. They bring in some new ideas (think Singularity’s time shifting mechanic) and for the most part they all work really well. A couple had me scratching my head for some time but I never felt frustrated or cheated. Some of them were honestly on par with some of Zelda’s finest. This is definitely the most puzzle heavy GOW out of the lot and if the puzzles were bad or felt tacked on this would probably be a negative thing but, like I said, they were pretty good fun.

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In conclusion God of War Ascension was a good game that I did enjoy. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad. It was however the weakest game that has been put out under the name (and considering two of those games were on the PSP that says something). Puzzles were fun, combat was standard, violence was hit and miss (HAHAHAHAHA) and the two boss fights that framed the game were incredible. So take from that what you will. If you enjoy GOW you will find things to like in this title. Just don’t expect it to break the mould or reinvent the wheel in any way.

EDIT; this is also the first GOW game to NOT feature an interactive sex game! EPIC FAIL!!!