THE GOD RETURNS

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					ISSUE 06 | APRIL 2008

                               THE GOD RETURNS
                        GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS - REVIEWED

                                                                 E:
                                                ALSO IN THIS ISSU

                                          RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2
                                      TOMB RAIDER UNDERWORLD
                                      GRAN TURISMO 5 PROLOGUE
                                             ALONE IN THE DARK
                                                   RESISTANCE 2
                                                       & MORE!

                                                          PLUS!
                                  PREMIUM CONTENTMENT
                                             Do we really need DLC?
02




     I write this fresh from the slaughter of our deputy editor; his
     merciless killing captured in perfect definition, his body lying
     broken and lifeless from a tirade of bullets having torn through
     his vital organs. Sitting here unmoved by the ruthless slaying, I
     ponder whether we now live in a toughened society, a society
     tolerant of portrayed violence, resistant even to simulated butch-
     ery of our closest friends.

     Of course, I’m referring to our late-night session of RS: Vegas 2 -
     our visages captured flawlessly with our underused Xbox LIVE
     Vision cams. But before you all tell me “it’s just a game”, I do
     have a point to make. Less than a mere decade ago, Perfect
     Dark’s intention of using the ill-fated Game Boy Camera to
     capture gamers’ faces and render them in-game caused uproar,
     eventually forcing Rare to veto the idea. Today the very same
     concept slips by unnoticed.

     Maybe it’s because we’ve got bigger fish to fry; the recent turna-
     round on the ban of Manhunt 2 proving to be an interesting (and
     headline-making) decision. But does the decision to release an
     interactive medium rumoured to contain a scene of graphic
     necrophilia show a significant downturn in our society’s moral
     standards?

     Obviously, I don’t hold the answer. But what I do know is that
     gaming never used to be like this - and it never used to be this
     good.

     David Scammell
     Editor
     editor@dpad-magazine.com
                                                                                                 ISSUE 06 | APRIL 2008

                                                                                                    EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
                                                                                                   David Scammell

                           17   TOMB RAIDER UNDERWORLD
                                                                                                    DEPUTY EDITOR
                                                                                                     Stuart Leech

                                                                                                      SUB EDITOR

                                                         28
                                                                                                     Tom Hoggins
                                                              NO MORE HEROES

08
                                                                                                       DESIGNER
     STAR WARS:                                                                                    David Scammell

                                                                      24
     THE FORCE UNLEASHED
                                                                           TOM CLANCY’S
                                                                           RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2      CONTRIBUTORS
                                                                                                    Richard Angus

                                                                                                     Zoheir Beig


                           22   GOD OF WAR:                                                         James Bowden
                                CHAINS OF OLYMPUS
                                                                                                     Ian Freeman
                                                                                                 Stefan Goerke-Hewitt
                                                                                                     Greg Latham


11
                                                                                                   Graham Naunton
     RESISTANCE 2                                                                                     Emily Knox
                                                                                                   Simeon Paskell
                                                                                                    Emmet Purcell
                                                                                                    Richard Rohani

                           26   GRAN TURISMO 5
                                PROLOGUE
                                                                                                     Rhys Simons




13   JUST CAUSE 2
04                                                                                                                                                                                        NEWS


                                                                                                                                                                   BD-LIVE COMES TO PS3
                                                     The latest headlines from the world of gaming                                                                The latest firmware update for PS3 (v2.20)
                                                                                                                                                                  adds Blu-Ray Profile 2.0 (aka BD-LIVE) to the
                                                                                                                                                                  console’s extensive list of features. The

XBOX LIVE CHEATERS NAMED AND SHAMED                                                                                                                               update allows new interactive features to be
                                                                                                                                                                  accessed on PS3, including downloadable
MICROSOFT EXPOSES CHEATS, RESETS GAMERSCORE                                                                                                                       video content, ringtones, games and more.

Microsoft has rolled out a campaign to punish cheaters
caught illegitimately harvesting achievements in an
attempt to crack down on Xbox LIVE deceit.

The scheme looks to name and shame anyone that has
gained achievements dishonestly by resetting their
gamerscore and labelling their gamercard appropri-
ately, as pictured right.
                                                                                                                                                                  As well as BD-LIVE, v2.20 also includes a
As explained in Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb’s latest                                                                                                                number of extra features, including support
podcast, specific and automated criteria are used to                                                                                                              for WMV and DivX files larger than 2GB, and
determine if a player has earned achievements by using                                                                                                            “Mosquito Noise Reduction” for improved
tools that circumvent the game or avoid gameplay                                                                                                                  movie playback. The firmware is available to
entirely. A player who meets these criteria will be                                                                                                               download now.
subject to having their gamerscore corrected.

Rather than ban offenders from the service altogether,
Microsoft believe in players “reforming themselves”.                                                                                                              GTA ELITE IN PRODUCTION
Offenders will be unable to regain any previously
                                                                                                                                                                  It’s been revealed that a special edition GTA
earned achievements, but will be allowed to earn new
                                                                                                                                                                  IV Xbox 360 Elite is in development. The
ones - provided they do so legitimately of course.
                                                                                                                                                                  console, which is decorated with GTA IV
                                                                                                                                                                  artwork, is painted with automotive-quality
                                                         METAL GEAR SOLID 4 LIMITED EDITION REVEALED
                                                          Mass Effect’s new alien race - the Batarians                                                            paint and set to include themed accessories.
                                                         SPECIAL EDITION PS3 ALSO IN THE WORKS
                                                         Plans to release a limited edition Metal Gear      PS3, a special “Steel” edition is also currently in
                                                         Solid 4 package have surfaced on the net. The      production as part of the Japanese Metal Gear
                                                         pack, which is rumoured to only be available in    Solid 4 bundle. The bundle, which launches at the
                                                         the US , is set to include a bonus Blu-Ray disc    same time as MGS4, is due to cost 51,800 Yen
                                                         containing making of documentaries, an             (£262).
                                                         interview with Hideo Kojima and four chapters of
                                                         the graphic novel. A bonus soundtrack CD is        No plans have been announced for any of the
                                                         also reported to be included in the LE, reported   special edition Metal Gear merchandise to make        But before you get your hopes up, only 500
                                                         to cost a wallet-stretching $84.99.                their way over to Europe, although we’re willing to   units are due to be produced. See you on
                                                                                                            bet Europeans will be able to get their hands on      eBay...
                                                         Seemingly not content with the recently released   the limited edition when Metal Gear Solid 4
 PGR4’s new hydrogen-powered Peugeot Flux                Ceramic White and Satin Silver versions of the     releases worldwide on June 12th.
05                                                                                                                                                                                  NEWS


                                                                                                                                                                  PREY 2 INBOUND
                                                     The latest headlines from the world of gaming                                                          Human Head Studios has confirmed that Prey
                                                                                                                                                            2 is officially in development. The sequel to
                                                                                                                                                            2006’s chart-topper puts us back in the boots
                                                                                                                                                            of Tommy, who’s since been framed for the
        SONIC UNLEASHED                                                                    CALL OF DUTY 4                                                   disappearance of his family and girlfriend.


      FIRST SCREENS LEAKED                                                                 MAP PACK DATED


                                                                                                                                                            Set to build on the “mind-bending portal and
                                                                                                                                                            gravity-defying gameplay of the original”,
                                                                                                                                                            Prey 2 is in development for Xbox 360 and PC.
                                                                                                                                                            There’s currently no word on a release date.


                                                                                                                                                                 HALO 3 MAP PACK
                                                                                                                                                                    GOES FREE
                                                                                                                                                            Halo 3’s “Heroic Map Pack”, first released
Having filed a trademark for the name ‘Sonic Unleashed’ earlier in the        Call of Duty 4’s “Variety Pack” will be hitting Xbox LIVE Marketplace on      back in December 2007, is now available to
month, footage and screens of SEGA’s next Sonic title have leaked onto the    April 3rd for 800 MS Points, it’s been revealed.                              download for free over Xbox LIVE Market-
internet.                                                                                                                                                   place.
                                                                              The pack is set to contain four new maps: “Creek" a wide-open village
What looks to be a hybrid of Sonic Rush and Sonic and the Secret Rings,       ravaged by combat, "Broadcast," an enemy communications building with
Sonic Unleashed appears to be taking the famous blue hedgehog back to         confined corridors and wide-open parking lots, "Chinatown" a foggy down-
his side-scrolling roots. And about time too, we say.                         town district, and "Killhouse", a desolate training warehouse filled with a
                                                                              variety of building mock-ups and soft and hard cover points.
At the time of writing SEGA had neither confirmed or denied the validity of
the screens, nor officially announced that Sonic Unleashed is in develop-     There is currently no word on when the pack will be released over PSN.
ment.

                                                                                                                                                            The pack, which contains the three maps
                                                                                                                                                            “Standoff”, “Rat’s Nest” and “Foundry”,
                                                                                                                                                            originally cost 800 points. Three new maps
                                                                                                                                                            are due to hit Xbox LIVE Marketplace on April
                                                                                                                                                            15th in the upcoming “Legendary Map Pack”,
                                                                                                                                                            with a further two due to be released in the
                                                                                                                                                            future.
06                                                                                                                                                                            COMING SOON



Why you won't be leaving the house for the next few months
                                                                                       UEFA                                         MARIO KART                                THE WORLD
WII FIT                                    GRAND THEFT AUTO IV                         EURO 2008                                    WII                                       ENDS WITH YOU




Yes, yes. We know we’ve been sitting       It’s almost here. Finally we will take to   Ok, so our crappy England team won’t         Our favourite plumber and chums           Square-Enix’s DS-exclusive JRPG
around playing video games too much -      the streets of Liberty City as Eastern-     be there, but that doesn’t mean that         finally race onto Wii next month in the   finally reaches European and North
at least one of the team is already on     European crook Niko Bellic as one of        we’re not excited about this summer’s        long-awaited next entry into the          American shores next month after a
that Slimming World nonsense.              the most anticipated games in history       football festival in Austria and Switzer-    ever-popular kart series. With 32         long translation process. Made by the
Packaged with the Wii Balance Board,       makes its belated arrival.                  land. EA will once again take us there in    tracks to choose from there will be       team behind Kingdom Hearts, TWEWY
Wii Fit features a wealth of healthy                                                   digital form with a derivative of the FIFA   plenty of opportunity for wheel-to-       follows the story of Neku Sekuraba,
activities to try and shift that excess    With vastly improved combat, technical      engine on April 11th. You can ‘Captain       wheel clashes, sneaky positioning of      who finds himself caught in a deadly
blubber.                                   marvels RAGE and Euphoria making up         Your Country’ to glory in an all-new         banana peels, stunts and wheelies to      game that could cause him to be
                                           GTA IV’s engine and one of the most         mode that involves moving up the ranks       perform with the new motorcycles.         erased from existence. To escape,
For all the scoffing that Wii Fit isn’t    dynamic open-world cities ever              to captaincy, or go online in a ‘Battle of                                             Neku must use his mind-reading
actually a game, combining exercise and    created, this could not only be the best    the Nations’.                                The game comes packaged with a nifty      abilities to find clues and battle ‘Noise’-
our favourite pastime to make for an       GTA yet, but the finest game in recent                                                   wheel accessory to house your remote,     the physical manifestation of people’s
enjoyable workout could be a master-       memory. As our anticipation reaches         And yes, if you must you can take            and you can even take to the races        negative thoughts.
stroke that gets a lot of new people off   fever-pitch we’ve already booked our        England through qualification again to       online.     We’re    practicing  our
the couch. We’ll be donning our stretchy   ticket to Liberty City for April 29th.      reach the tournament. We just hope you       drift-boosts and green shell aim for      It’s a fascinating story premise, and the
Lycra in preparation for our Yoga class                                                do better than our Steve did.                April 11th even as we speak.              game looks terrific. We can’t wait to
on April 25th.                             Have you?                                                                                                                          travel to Shibuya to help on Neku’s
                                                                                                                                                                              quest, April 18th.
07                                                                                                                                                                                          PREVIEWS

                                                                                                                                                                        08   STAR WARS:
                                                                                                                                                                             THE FORCE UNLEASHED
                                                                                                                                                                             360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, PC




                                                                                                                                                                        11   RESISTANCE 2
     THIS MONTH’S BIG RELEASES                                                LET ME REPHRASE THAT...                                                                        PS3


                      04/04/08                         “Well I believe Doug Lombardi, who’s our lead marketing director at Valve, has announced Portal 2, so
           Condemned 2: Bloodshot (360, PS3)           we can’t wait!” – Valve designer Kim Swift accidentally reveals Portal 2’s existence.
                Dark Sector (360, PS3)
                     NEVES (DS)                        “I don’t want to win over [my audience’s] little college sister, because that’s not the kind of game I do. I’m
                                                       not going to make Zack & Wiki. I’m not going to make f**king Cooking Mama.” – Cliff “Gears of War”
                        11/04/08                       Bleszinksi makes it clear he won’t be going soft in the future.
        Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles (DS)
       Assassin’s Creed: Director’s Cut Edition (PC)                                                                                                                    13   JUST CAUSE 2
                   Mario Kart Wii (Wii)                “We've actually made it a big focus to include more churches and now synagogues and mosques in                        360, PS3, PC
         Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (PC)         Resistance 2.” – Insomniac CEO Ted Price jests at last year’s Resistance controversy.
                 UEFA Euro 2008 (Multi)
                                                       “OutRun 3” – A Sumo Digital representative accidentally spills the beans.
                       18/04/08
              The World Ends With You (DS)             “[Mass E ect PC] is a conversion...BioWare hates ports” - BioWare’s Chris Priestly tries to make a
                                                       big deal out of upscaled textures and increased resolutions.
                        25/04/08
              SingStar Summer Party (PS2)
                       Wii Fit (Wii)                   "You know, I think that when you try to do games that are about a mass market, and Turning Point is
                                                       de nitely a high concept idea, that with the time and money we had we did the best to execute on, our            15   ALONE IN THE DARK
                                                                                                                                                                             360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PC
                       29/04/08                        target was not really the core gamer.” - Spark Unlimited CEO Craig Allen tells gamers Turning
              Grand Theft Auto IV (360, PS3)           Point isn’t for them. And we agree.




                                                                 ’S MOST WANTED
                                                                                                                                                                        17   TOMB RAIDER UNDERWORLD
                                                                                                                                                                             360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC

                                                                                                                                                                        19   BRUTAL LEGEND
                                                                                                                                                                             360, PS3


              GRAND THEFT AUTO IV                                MARIO KART WII                                       CONDEMNED 2: BLOODSHOT
   08                                                                                             PREVIEWS


                              STAR WARS
                              THE FORCE UNLEASHED
                              As we said in our Spotlight on 2008 feature last month, the
                              concept for The Force Unleashed is possibly the greatest ever
                              devised. Cast as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, you are
                              tasked with traversing the galaxy in a quest to wipe out the last
                              remaining Jedi.

                              Simply put, it’s a Star Wars fanboy’s wet dream.




FORMAT

360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS

PUBLISHER

LucasArts

DEVELOPER
LucasArts (360, PS3)

RELEASE
Q2

PREVIEWED BY

Tom Hoggins
09                                                                                                    PREVIEWS




The Force Unleashed is set to bridge the gap       More importantly, the game itself is looking
between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope,        fantastic - mainly due to the combination of
charting Vader’s attempts to destroy the Jedi.     three sophisticated technologies to create it.
Playing as the Dark Lord’s powerful appren-        The widely used Havok physics engine is one
tice, The Force Unleashed is being treated as a    of these, but the two new engines also used
genuine chapter in the Star Wars saga,             make the game a technology poster-child.
complete with new action figures, a tie-in novel   Pixelux’s ‘Digital Molecular Media’ (DMM)
and Dark Horse comic books. That such a            engine imbues objects with real world
multimedia project can be produced with such       properties, so that all objects in The Force
conviction and swagger is indicative of the        Unleashed react realistically to what is going
incredible pull that the Star Wars licence still   on in the environment around it. So, rather
creates - a series that has captured the imagi-    than wood breaking in a pre-set animation, it
nations of many for over 30 years. Cynics may      splinters and smashes as it would in reality
say it’s a cash-cow that will never be put to      based on where it is hit and with how much
pasture, but the rate at which new Star Wars       force. It’s certainly an impressive technologi-
media is devoured suggests fans have a hunger      cal showpiece and within the context of the
that may never be sated. That the secret           game looks a huge amount of fun; trees are
apprentice is being explored in great detail       felled by your flying lightsaber, while metal is
over several different projects makes the          dented and warped as you hurl hapless foes
mysterious character all the more intriguing.      into barriers, crates, walls and TIE fighters.
10                                                                          PREVIEWS
     These enemies are also afforded real world          These powers can be combined in a number
     properties by NaturalMotion’s ‘Euphoria’; an        of ways to create different vicious and visceral
     engine that renders characters to behave            ways of despatching the oncoming swathes of
     realistically “on the fly” with animations made     rebel soldiers and Stormtroopers alike; such
     in real-time. Within The Force Unleashed this       as fuelling your saber with lightning before
     means that enemies will try to grab on to           launching it at a foe you have suspended 10
     whatever they can (including each other) to         feet off the ground. Hopefully, these combos
     avoid being sent hurtling to their doom by your     are as numerous and interesting as the devel-
     Force Push.                                         opers insist, or else combat could become
                                                         repetitive once the initial wow factor of the
     It all makes for a fairly unique and technologi-    tech has worn off, especially considering the
     cally advanced experience. As you send a            worry that cannon fodder enemies will make
     Stormtrooper flying across a battle-torn            up a great deal of the game. Nevertheless, we
     hangar bay he makes a grab for one of his           are assured that challenge will be provided by
     comrades. As both are lifted off the floor by the   powerful Jedi and other force-adepts.
     tremendous force, they’re sent crashing into a
     pane of glass that shatters into a thousand         However, in many ways the stylish slaughter
     pieces, the resultant shards sent scattering        of masses of troops is what has fans fired up
     across the area.                                    in the first place. Being able to wield the force
                                                         to such an immense degree has been some-
     The force unleashed indeed, but for all its         thing oddly lacking in Star Wars video games
     technical bravado the empowering feeling of         up until now for fear of having the player too
     being a Dark Jedi at the height of his powers is    powerful. Thankfully this caution has been
     the real appeal of the game. At the start of the    thrown to the wind for The Force Unleashed
     game the secret apprentice is already a power-      and the result looks set to be a spectacular
     ful man, and as you work your way through the       adventure; intense combat framed in
     game you will be able to assign ‘force points’ to   destruction and evil power. And let’s face it;
     enhance your four core powers; force grab,          we all know that falling to the Dark Side is
     force push, lightning and saber throw.              more fun.
  11                                                                                                        PREVIEWS


                  RESISTANCE 2
                  It’s the game that sceptics of Sony’s black        It’s just a shame that not much else about the
                  box love to hate – titters of mirth abound at      game did. It’s entirely feasible that many
                  its insipid colour palette, the guffaws at the     gamers wouldn’t have delved too deeply into
                  predictable enemy AI and the snorts of             the multiplayer after yawning their way
                  contempt at the unspectacular graphics.            through the misadventures of US Marine
                  Even the Church of England had a pop, to put       Nathan Hale and his one-man army act
                  it mildly. It doesn’t help matters that            against the extra-terrestrial menace, the
                  Insomniac’s launch title is still the ‘go to’      Chimera, in 1950s war-torn England. It had a
                  game for many recent purchasers of the             great premise to draw players in and there
                  PS3, and when said adopters have already           was plenty of entertainment to be had, but it
                  experienced gems such as Halo 3 and Call Of        lacked that one major hook, that one genre-
                  Duty 4, Resistance’s flaws are really placed       defining moment of gaming glory that could
                  under the spotlight.                               have transformed a good game into a great
                                                                     one.
                  But let’s remember that the conclusion to
                  Master Chief’s endeavours and the globetrot-       Its successor, Resistance 2, has a great
                  ting adventures of our SAS friends came a full     chance of making this leap.
                  six months after the release of Resistance, so
                  perhaps it’s a little unfair to directly compare
                  Insomniacs second FPS effort to benchmarks
                  of the genre. But whilst the original was solid
                  in terms of its single player campaign mode,
                  it lacked charm. The multiplayer facet was a
                  completely different story though – it is still,
FORMAT            even now, a fantastic advert for the PlaySta-
                  tion Network. Lag-free forty player
PlayStation 3     skirmishes, alongside stellar comms and an
PUBLISHER         impressive matchmaking system are not to be
                  underestimated, and continue to take those
SCE
                  unaware by surprise.
DEVELOPER
Insomniac Games

RELEASE
November

PREVIEWED BY

Graham Naunton
12                                                                                                       PREVIEWS




This time around the campaign sees Nathan            class system including medics, sniper rifle
Hale return to his homeland, the US of A, to         wielding special ops troops or your standard
repel the renewed Chimeran invasion. After           grunt. It’s hard to be heard amongst fifty-nine
their defeat in England two years previously,        other voices, so you’ll be placed in smaller
the Chimera have been doing some serious             squads with specific objectives. One example
upgrading and are deadlier than ever – so far        would be joining an assault squad to capture a
we’ve seen dozens of them on screen at once          flag, or to provide defence as a sniper back at
sporting heavy armour, packing some serious          base. There could be dozens of different
heat surrounded by huge Sentinel walking             scenarios, making for some epic battles.
battle tanks. One particular strain of Chimera
new to the sequel is the Chameleon; a                What’s becoming clear is that Insomniac has
Predator-esque foe that uses advanced                reached for the proverbial dial and cranked it
camouflage        to      become       practically   up a fair few notches since the first game –
invisible…right until it’s feet away, chewing off    more players online, more game modes, more
your squad mates face. It’s up to you to spot it     enemies, more graphics and inevitably, more
by looking for footsteps in mud, light suddenly      guns. Now, whilst none of these new features
refracting, or changes in the direction of           are bad by any means, we still hope for more in
rainfall. Easier than you might think, given that    terms of substance. Not substance in a materi-
the visuals have received a makeover that is         alistic sense (it’s clear we’re getting plenty of
much more pleasing on the eye – blue skies           that), but more of a substance that will evoke
(albeit blotted by enormous Chimeran ships),         something within us. In other words, a game
lush green grass and weather effects that look       with some soul. The great games of each
to flex the PS3’s muscle.                            passing generation have it all in common –
                                                     those goosebump-inducing, spine-tingling,
If this all sounds a bit daunting for you to         gasp-sucking, air-punching moments of
combat by yourself though, take heart in the         surprise, fear, accomplishment and empathy.
fact that there is a second co-operative             Resistance 2 can give us guns, fancy graphics
campaign mode to take on, only this time you’ll      and all of the dozens of online combatants it
be fighting alongside up to seven friends. A         likes, but if it doesn’t give us those moments
whopping eight player co-op has been                 we live for in gaming, then it will ultimately
confirmed, where completing a number of              suffer the same fate as the first game. It
objectives and employing strategic teamwork          doesn’t have a divine right to be so, but Resist-
is the order of the day. The multiplayer facet is    ance 2 looks and sounds like a really special
even bigger this time around with the promise        title. We’ll find out when it invades our shores
of huge sixty player online battles as well as a     later this year.
  13                                                                                   PREVIEWS


                    JUST CAUSE 2
                    Smell that? Revolution is in the air. It’s a     It’s clear that Avalanche has approached the
                    smell that should be instantly familiar to       sequel rather methodically; singling out each
                    those who played the original Just Cause         core gameplay element and deciding how
                    back in 2006, and joining that recognizable      best to improve on the original’s framework.
                    aroma is the familiar face of Special Agent      The most noticeable of these changes is the
                    Rico Rodriguez - veteran instigator of           graphics engine, which is no longer
                    revolutions in politically unstable paradises.   constrained      by   the     capabilities  of
                    Back in 2006 the original dropped you deep       last-generation consoles. If recent screen-
                    into enemy territory, armed with all the         shots are anything to go by the new engine
                    abilities of your average Hollywood action       has been put to good use. The environment
                    hero; planes were there to be hijacked and       looks to be far more varied, with lush beaches
                    close to 99% of the objects on the island        and tropical locales merging with snow
                    were yours to ignite and decorate the sky        capped mountains and volcanic craters. While
                    with thick plumes of smoke. Freedom was          such graphical changes are usually swept
                    the game’s buzz word and while the game-         aside and given fairly insubstantial weight,
                    play held up to the tagline, the more techni-    Just Cause is a game that relies on its
                    cal elements began to close gaping mouths        visceral merits and the advancements made
                    and taint the experience that had at first       to the Avalanche engine should only raise
                    been so inspiring.                               adrenaline levels further.

                    However, a lot has changed in the past few
FORMAT
                    years. The development team at Avalanche
                    has had time to work out how to improve the
360, PS3, PC        sequel, Rico Rodriguez has had time to hone
PUBLISHER           his skills and learn a few new tricks and Tom
                    Sheldon, Rico’s ex-mentor has had time to
Eidos Interactive   concoct a devastatingly evil plan on the
DEVELOPER           tropical island of Panau. Oh, and only one
                    man can save the day. Parachute in order?
Avalanche Studios
                    Let’s jump.
RELEASE
Q3

PREVIEWED BY

Greg Latham
14                                                                                                          PREVIEWS




Avalanche has also worked towards improving
the enemy A.I, which closely resembled a horde
of out-patients in the first outing. In Just Cause
2 your enemies will utilise the environment
around them; effectively taking cover when your
fire becomes too intense and calling in
reinforcements and air support if they feel the      vehicle in the game a much more unique and
battle is slipping away from them. If you linger     interactive one. Players will now be able to feel
in an open area for too long, your enemy’s shots     the transition from tarmac to dirt and will have
will also get more accurate as they hone in on       to adjust accordingly, while also keeping a
your position. Combat this time around appears       vigilant eye out for stray tree trunks and divots
to be taking on a much more tactical and versa-      in the road that may impede your progress.
tile tone.
                                                     One feature that looks to have been left in the
With this ace up their sleeve what chance does       dark is a multiplayer component. Nevertheless
Rico have to combat their newfound gunning           fans of the original game will be overjoyed that
finesse? Thankfully Avalanche has endowed            the developers have chosen to focus on the
Agent Rodriguez with a new Hybrid Locking            single player and have lessened the focus on
system, utilising both the quick-fire advantages     side missions, giving you the choice as to which
of assisted aiming and the precision of manual       missions to tackle, and when. Choices will
aiming. Now Rico can target specific areas of        determine how much allied support you have
the body and drop an opponent to his knees, or       going into battle and the difficulty of a particular
cause a painful injury. Improvements have also       mission; the premise of freedom has extended
been made to Rico’s trademark grappling hook         beyond Panau’s lush beaches and colossal
that can now be fired and attached to most           mountaintops.
objects in the game, and when combined with
your parachute can result in some truly              Looking down Avalanche’s proposed checklist,
extravagant manoeuvres.                              it’s hard to see an area that they may have
                                                     overlooked. The team’s ambition clearly
The improvements made to the combat also             matches the scale of the extravagant island
apply to the various vehicles that can you drive     they’ve created, and initial impressions are
in the game. While the first games handling left     certainly promising. Let’s just hope that Agent
much to be desired, the development team has         Rico is up to the monumental scale of the task at
now made the experience of driving each              hand…
   15                                                                                                PREVIEWS


                         ALONE IN THE DARK
                               Since the dawn of fictional horror, creators
                               have preyed on the inherent human fear of
                                                                                  This is where Alone in the Dark’s impressive
                                                                                  inventory system comes in. Carnby dons a
                               the dark. They have attacked our aversion to       jacket that can hold a number of portable
                               the unknown, our terror of what lurks in the       objects; you can select an object for each
                               shadows or under the bed; what can not be          hand and combine them to create a useful
                               seen can not be measured, and what can not         tool or a deadly weapon. For example,
                               be measured can not be fought. As the              piercing a bottle of fuel with your knife and
                               famous journalist Dorothy Thompson said            launching it across the room leaves a trail of
                               “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there's      fluid running along the floor. By selecting
                               a bogeyman around, turn on the light.”             your lighter you’re then able to set the fuel
                                                                                  ablaze and send flames searing towards your
                               For Alone in the Dark’s burly protagonist          enemies or a troublesome obstacle. Or you
                               Edward Carnby, this is sound advice. Game          can throw the bottle before shooting it with
                               producer Nour Polloni says that light must be      your pistol to create a huge explosion. The
                               “used as a completely integrated part of the       inventory isn’t just about fire and makeshift
                               gameplay itself.” As he traverses New York         bombs either; you can combine a glow-stick
                               City’s Central Park, Carnby will need to use       and sticky tape before throwing it at the
                               torches, flares and fire to illuminate his way     ceiling to create a handy light for the room, or
                               to the Park’s terrible secret. Fire has always     pierce a blood pack to attract carnivorous
                               been man’s biggest enemy, yet one of its most      beasts to one spot.
                               useful tools; as long, of course, as it is kept
                               under control. Eden Games have gone to
                               great lengths to get Alone in the Dark’s fire to
                               behave realistically and the result is impres-
                               sive; fearsome flames flicker and crackle in
                               the murk, casting a great golden light and
FORMAT                         creepy, kinetic shadows that shuffle across
                               nearby walls. The dynamic lighting is visually
360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PC         splendid, but the behaviour of these blazes
PUBLISHER                      and how you, the player, can use them will be
                               the real test.
Atari

DEVELOPER
Eden Studios

RELEASE
May

PREVIEWED BY

Tom Hoggins
16                                                                                                        PREVIEWS




Our hope is that the possibilities for these items   Therefore ‘Sleepers’ author Lorenzo Carcaterra
are as endless, ingenious and impulsive as they      was hired to weave Alone’s story. The New
seem, with various different ways of getting out     Yorker’s experience in novels, television and
of a tight spot; rather than the game holding        film could be Atari’s ace in the hole for Alone in
your hand through set-pieces. Featuring a            the Dark, and considering the perceived hectic
number of physics puzzles, being able to             lifestyle of the game’s demographic, breaking
approach each in a unique way will be a real         the game into several manageable chunks could
boon for the game. The physics engine itself         be a masterstroke. In total, Polloni promises
looks superb with wooden doors crumpling             10-15 hours of gameplay; taking into account
under repeated battering with a fire                 the free-roam hub area of Central Park, which
extinguisher or splitting to its knots under         has been painstakingly recreated by the Eden
fire-axe duress. It may not be as incredible to      team.
see as it was back in 2006, but is looking
suitably robust for a game that will make heavy      A lot of research went into the decision of using
use of its assets.                                   Central Park as the game’s setting, using
                                                     satellite imagery and thousands of photos to
What we’ve seen of Alone in the Dark so far is       make a geographically accurate gameworld.
technically impressive. However, the game is         However, the folklore of Central Park will also
also looking to draw players in with its narrative   play an integral role in Alone’s tone and story.
drive. Featuring an episodic structure with eight    Drawing on curious tales of ghosts and
self-contained entries, Polloni hopes this           conspiracy, the creators know that the
configuration can recreate the thrills, spills,      real-world connection will undoubtedly capture
twists and turns of the best TV shows - “The         people’s imagination.
main inspiration for the episodic format was the
recent crop of US TV dramas like 24, Lost, and       This, along with the Freudian bedfellows of
Prison Break. We analysed these shows and            darkness and solitude and the technically
what makes them so great - the paced dynamic         impressive game engine, means that Alone has
of each episode with action, character develop-      certainly captured our attention. The real
ment, plot revelations and cliffhangers - then       challenge for Eden now is to take all of these
translated this into the dynamic of the game.”       promising components and mould them into
                                                     one cogent whole. Should they do that, Alone in
A brave move and one that would require an           the Dark could reclaim some of its ground as
enthralling script to have players reaching for      the granddaddy of survival horror.
the control pad, rather than the DVD remote.
   17                                                                                           PREVIEWS

                             TOMB RAIDER
                             UNDERWORLD
                             Now that gamers have emerged from their        The suavity of her motions has now been
                             purportedly cloistered bedrooms into           achieved through motion capture - a surpris-
                             lustrous, minimalist living rooms - or so      ing first for the Tomb Raider series – with the
                             Nintendo would have us believe - great         alteration being both effective and axiomatic.
                             graphics are ostensibly no longer a require-
                             ment for an enjoyable game. While there        Lara’s new ability to ‘free-climb’ through the
                             may well be some truth in that statement,      typically cryptic environments could provide
                             Tomb Raider and Lara Croft have always         the flow needed to replace the stiff movements
                             provided the player with appealing eye         of the previous games - our buxom adventurer
                             candy to enchance the feeling of immersion     graciously ascends jutting rocks, creating
                             in its various exotic locales. Ms. Croft’s     magnificent moments akin to the recent
                             latest adventure is no different.              Assassin’s Creed. Sadly, however, it seems the
                                                                            surfaces our heroin is able to grab onto will
                             Taking aesthetically pleasing locations and    still be limited to obvious outcrops and poles
                             revolutionising them with a variety of         that protrude from sheer rock faces.
                             masterful design techniques, Underworld
                             fuses the mystifying jungles and temples       While Crystal Dynamics should be lauded for
                             with luscious HDR lighting that, when          attempting to provide Lara with a new, stimu-
                             coupled with an ambient orchestral score,      lating set of skills, occasionally it can be taken
                             provides a truly sensory next generation       too far. The promised feature that causes
                             experience. As rain runs down Lara’s ever-     balance beams to become slippery when wet-
                             glorious body to be collected in dynamic       therefore easier to fall off- is a nice touch but
                             puddles on the ground, it would be easy to     could lead to annoyance. Few players would be
FORMAT
                             become entranced by her incredibly realistic   awed by the imposing mud particles after
360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC   movements.                                     falling into them for the tenth time.
PUBLISHER
                                                                            Another element seeing change in Underworld
Eidos Interactive                                                           is the combat. Although gunplay in the series
DEVELOPER
Crystal Dynamics

RELEASE
Q4

PREVIEWED BY

Ian Freeman
18                                                                                                   PREVIEWS
Another element seeing change in Under-           While Tomb Raider Underworld will undoubt-
world is the combat. Although gunplay in the      edly be a commercial success for the troubled
series has usually proved to be adequate          SCi, we will have to wait slightly longer to see
rather than excellent, Underworld aims to         if the initial promise develops into a consum-
add a new component- AI skirmishes. With          mate whole when Lara returns this Christmas.
both poachers and jaguars to fight, Lara can
often leave the two to weaken one another
before finishing both off with a couple of deft
pulls of the trigger, aided by her new helpful
ability to target two enemies at any one time.
If either witnesses you in their peripheral
vision, however, there is a large chance they
will engage you rather than the other enemy,
nullifying the opportunity to sit back as the
two aggressors battle for their lives.

After showing such a high level of visual
capability at constructing real world
scenarios, it will be interesting to see what
the Mayan Underworld holds for the player,
and not only in an ocular sense. Eric
Lindstrom, the Creative Director of the high
budget project, states his desire for the
game’s core elements to “translate into
next-generation gameplay", although he
continues to be evasive about what exactly is
contained in the fascinating, yet disturbing
landscape.
   19
                                                        ..                           PREVIEWS


                                     BRUTAL
                          LEGEND
                 In the modern gaming world where multi-
                 million dollar mergers, publisher pandering
                                                                   But maybe we don’t have to resort to anything
                                                                   as drastic, given the subject matter of his
                 and development teams in the hundreds are         latest game – heavy metal music. It’s
                 commonplace, it’s almost a relief to know         Schafer’s most personal work yet - after a
                 that Tim Schafer and Double Fine Produc-          chance meeting with a roadie, touring with
                 tions are back with their most ambitious and      metal legends Megadeth, Schafer was
                 outrageous offering yet in the form of Brütal     fascinated by the man behind the scenes;
                 Legend.                                           making sure the rock band does indeed rock.
                                                                   He ponders “I kept thinking about [the idea
                 Schafer himself, one of the last true auteurs     that] there's a certain kind of guy who gets
                 in the industry, is an interesting proposition.   things done, and they're kind of like a hero,
                 His games are renowned for their razor sharp      they fix anything, but you can feel with some
                 comedic dialogue, accessible game play and        of them that they want to do something even
                 frankly bizarre characters and locations. But     more heroic, like they'd love to really be
                 where do these incredible ideas come from?        tested. What if they had to save the world?”
                 Like the protagonist Razputin from Double         It’s taken over 15 years from original concept
                 Fine’s last effort Psychonauts, we’d love to      to full production, and Schafer wants to make
                 stick a miniature doorway on Schafer’s            sure that it’s been worth the wait.
                 forehead, open it up and take a closer look
                 into the mind of one of the most creative
FORMAT           game designers in recent years - although
                 we’re not entirely sure we’d make it out with
360, PS3
                 our sanity intact.
PUBLISHER

Sierra

DEVELOPER
Double Fine

RELEASE
TBA 2008

PREVIEWED BY

Graham Naunton
20                                                                                                                                                        PREVIEWS
After being warped back in time to an                The single player campaign sees Eddie take        As with all of Schafer’s efforts, there’s a risk
alternate dimension via his cursed belt              on a number of missions linked to the plot, as    of the bizarre nature of his games simply not
buckle, rock band roadie Eddie Riggs is              well as a number of side quests. Players can      striking a chord with the mass market. This
entrusted with saving the enslaved human             make their way around the landscape on foot       time however there’s hopeful optimism, with
race from a demonic horde led by the evil Lord       or by using a variety of upgradable vehicles,     the grunt of next generation hardware
Dolivicus. Problem is, Eddie can fix broken          and the game itself plays like a fairly generic   making more of Schafer’s creative dreams
guitar strings, tune drums and drive the tour        hack and slash, although we’re extremely          come true, additional online play and the
bus without much difficulty, but leading a           wary using the word ‘generic’ to describe         stellar voice-over cast including Jack Black
human resistance to freedom from evil                Brütal Legend. There are two primary weap-        as Eddie Riggs and metal legends such as
tyranny? A slightly bigger problem. It’s the         ons – a traditional twin bladed axe, and one of   Motorhead’s Lemmy and Judas Priests’ Rob
typical story of one man digging deep to             a six-stringed variety. The latter can be used    Halford. With Schafer’s sharp scripts
discover heroism he never thought he had in          to perform various attacks, from unleashing       combined with trademark Jack Black
him to triumph over evil. But in Brütal              lightning bolts to face-melting guitar solos      fireworks, expect a lot of laughs. We’ll be
Legend, that’s the only ‘typical’ you’re likely to   which – obviously – actually melts faces.         looking for our inner rock gods and develop a
see. The beauty of Schafer and Double Fine is                                                          penchant for leather trousers when Brütal
that they never seem to look at what’s ‘hot’ in      There’s also the chance to lead a squad of        Legend takes the stage later this year. And
gaming at the moment – like an artist, it            AI-controlled heavy metal minions into            here’s one rock show where an encore is a
starts off in Schafer’s head as a vision, and        large-scale battles, occuring at several points   must.
with a bit of luck and plenty of hard work it        in the story. Your companions each fall into
becomes a reality. It’s really a case of wish        different classes, one of which seen so far is
fulfilment on his part, but when the final           The Bouncer. This brute uses enormous fists
product is as rich in detail and creativity as       to decimate enemies and Eddie can also pick
Brütal Legend, it’s rather ungrateful to             him up before launching him to the floor,
complain about it.                                   creating huge shockwaves. Every character
                                                     class can be interacted with in this way, as
The game is an epic open world rock opera –          well as more standard battle commands
where mountains are carved into the shape of         mapped onto the d-pad. Have them attack, or
guitar amplifiers, volcanoes spew forth              create a defensive mosh pit around you,
motorcycle chrome and rivers of blood cut            shielding you from harm.
through the landscape. Not quite sure what
we mean? Dig out some of your dad’s old
metal records and take a look at the covers.
It’s the living, breathing organic manifestation
of rock – and everything that is associated
with it. To be more precise, think of an
extended version of Psychonauts’ summer
camp – filled with plenty of places to explore
and people to interact with, smeared in plenty
of Double Fines trademark quirkiness.
21                                                                                                                               REVIEWS

                                                                                                           22   GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS
                                                                                                                PSP
                                                                                                           24   TOM CLANCY’S: RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2
                                                                                                                360, PS3, PC
                                                                                                           26   GRAN TURISMO 5 PROLOGUE
                                                                                                                PS3
                                                                                                           28   NO MORE HEROES
                                                                                                                Wii
                                                                                                           30   ARMY OF TWO
                                                                                                                360, PS3
                                                                                                           32   BEAUTIFUL KATAMARI
                                                                                                                360
                                                                                                           34   PATAPON

                                                      CLASSIC MOMENT
                                                                                                                PSP

     THE RATINGS                                                                                           36   TURNING POINT: FALL OF LIBERTY
                                                                                                                360, PS3, PC
                                                                                                           38   FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR
             An essential purchase.
                                                                                                                360, PC
             You need this game!
                                                                                                           40   LOST: VIA DOMUS
                                                                                                                360, PS3, PC
             A great game that provides                                                                    42   LOST ODYSSEY
             plenty of entertainment                                                                            360
                                                                                                           44   FIFA STREET 3
             Good fun but ultimately                                                                            360, PS3
             nothing special                                                                               46   SONIC RIDERS: ZERO GRAVITY
                                                                                                                Wii, PS2
                                                                                                           48   ACE ATTORNEY: APOLLO JUSTICE
             Fans only, worth a rental                                                                          DS
                                                                                                           50   BATTALION WARS 2
                                                                                                                Wii
             Dismal, avoid                                                                                 52   SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS
                                                                                                                360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS
                                                    The Death of Aeris - Final Fantasy VII - 1997
                                                                                                           53   DYNASTY WARRIORS 6
                                                                                                                360, PS3
                                                                                                           54   CONFLICT: DENIED OPS
                                                                                                                360, PS3, PC

                                           ’S MOST PLAYED                                                  55   ASSASSIN’S CREED:
                                                                                                                ALTAIR’S CHRONICLES
                                                                                                                DS
                                                                                                           56   PROFESSOR LAYTON
                                                                                                                DS
                                                                                                           57   BLEACH: SHATTERED BLADE
                                                                                                                Wii
                                                                                                           58   UNREAL TOURNAMENT III
                                          RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2                   GRAN TURISMO 5: PROLOGUE        PS3
       NO MORE HEROES
                                                                                                           58   PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2008
                                                                                                                PSP
22                                                                                                          REVIEWS
                 They shall seek peace, and there shall be none

                 GOD OF WAR
                 CHAINS OF OLYMPUS
                 P
                          resumably hard at work on           Making full use of the increased
                          Kratos’ PS3 debut, God of War       processor power offered by the recent
                          creators SCE Studios Santa          firmware update, Chains of Olympus’
                          Monica entrusted the reins of       lighting and particle effects are unparal-
                 their portable deity to Ready At Dawn;       leled on the console. When factored in
                 the talented bunch of ex-Naughty Dog         with superb animation, vibrant vistas and
                 and Blizzard developers having proved        detailed character models, Chains of
                 their worth with Daxter’s solo jaunt         Olympus’ looks rival even the best of the
                 back in 2006. It seems the handover was      last generation machines.
                 a shrewd move, as Kratos’ handheld
                 entrance puts virtually everything           Despite our anti-hero being shrunk to
                 currently available on the PSP to            miniature proportions, none of Kratos’
                 shame.                                       audacity has been lost in the process. As
FORMAT                                                        he leaps, swims and slices his way across
                 Very little of what we know and love has     Attica and Hades wielding the trademark
PSP              changed for Kratos’ portable endeavour.      Blades of Chaos, Kratos also has access
PUBLISHER
                 The usual mix of mythical beasties,          to a multitude of magic learnt over the
                 head-scratching puzzles and visual           course of the game, as well as the
SCE              prowess all make the transition              Gauntlet of Zeus, a mystical weapon that
DEVELOPER        unscathed, and even God of War’s             allows him to strike down his foes with
                 famous instant loading makes the jump.       unmitigated power, and the Sun Shield
Ready At Dawn    On a console stricken with slow disc read    that allows our hero to parry. It goes
REVIEWED BY      times and inherent loading issues, a fully   without say that God of War is strictly for
                 streaming world is as much of an             an adult audience; our ferocious
David Scammell
                 achievement as the visuals themselves -      anti-hero engaging in minigame-
                 which for a handheld title look simply       portrayed acts of sex assorted in with the
                 stunning.                                    malevolent violence.
23                                                                                                      REVIEWS
“A STUPENDOUS ACHIEVEMENT...
  A HANDHELD BLOCKBUSTER”




                               As has always been a highlight of God of War,
                               impressive mythical bosses make their
                               return; the reptilian behemoth Basilisk
                               tearing through the city of Attica only mere
                               moments into the game. Over the course of
                               the game you’ll face off against many other
                               legendary beasts, including Cyclopes,
                               Medusas, Minotaurs and other mystical
                               beings, although disappointingly the
                               awe-inspiring bosses crop up on much fewer
                               occasions than in the previous titles.
                               Regardless, the unrelenting hack & slash
                               action is still the best there is, with stylish
                               and devastating moves pulled off with relative
                               ease.

                               While it must be said that Chains of Olympus
                               doesn’t attempt to add anything new to the
                               series, it perhaps would have been reckless
                               to make such changes to the lucrative
                               franchise on a platform home to more than a
                               few misguided spin-offs. Hopefully the
                               much-anticipated PS3 offering will provide us
                               with plenty of spice before Kratos starts to       Nevertheless Chains of Olympus is a handheld
                               feel stale. But if we’re to find fault with        blockbuster; a veritable crossover of all that
                               anything about Chains of Olympus it’s that it’s    has come before it and a stupendous achieve-
                               over far too quickly. As you reach the five hour   ment for the platform. While some people may
                               mark and the credits roll in you’ll be left        soon start to tire of GOW’s fairly repetitive
                               yearning for more. There’s always the              nature, Chains of Olympus is everything a God
                               obligatory God mode to try your hand at, or        of War fan could have possibly hoped for on the
                               the wealth of unlockable extras to find, but for   handheld.
                               long-term substance, GOW is severely
                               lacking.                                                    VERDICT
24                                                                                                            REVIEWS
                   You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me

                   RAINBOW SIX
                   VEGAS 2
                   E
                            ver since its PC conception,       And because the glamour is sorely
                            Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six series       missing, the condensed level of tactical
                            has always relied on tactical      play hits you harder than ever. A title that
                            squad-based play for its           was once proud of its “hardcore”
                   success. It’s always been about planning    gameplay, now seemingly reduced to
                   meticulous attacks, securing entry and      almost that of a standard FPS, albeit
                   exit points, and taking down hostiles       sticking with limited squad mechanics for
                   quickly and quietly. So it’s unfortunate    good measure. Gone are the days of
                   then that Ubisoft’s console transitions     planning detailed attacks, instead faced
                   seem to be leading the series down a        with room after room with which to
                   more nonchalant line, realigning            breach and clear. To make matters worse,
                   Rainbow’s profound strategic status         as death comes so easy in Vegas, you’ll
                   within a growing audience of casual         often (read: always) find it more appropri-
FORMAT REVIEWED    gamers.                                     ate to send in your crack-shot bullet-
                                                               sponge squad mates to clear out each
Xbox 360           Yet, despite toning down the tactical       room beforehand, patiently waiting
OTHER FORMATS      focus, Vegas was still unbelievably fun.    outside to mop up any escapees. There’s
                   The Sin City setting was perfectly suited   still an element of strategy involved -
PS3, PC            to the context; the intensity of hostage    tagging which enemies to take out first, or
PUBLISHER          situations and exploding skyscrapers        selecting a manner to breach - but it’s so
                   each conveyed with the majesty of a         watered down it ultimately makes little
Ubisoft
                   Hollywood blockbuster. In relation, Vegas   difference to proceedings.
DEVELOPER          2 feels more like a “straight to DVD”
                   sequel. Gone are the inspiring casino       Of course, this is still Rainbow Six so it’s
Ubisoft Montreal
                   layouts and neon-emblazoned strips,         fair to expect a handful of exhilarating
REVIEWED BY        replaced by generic corridors and cut       moments along the way. It’s just a shame
                   and paste office blocks.                    that they show little in the way of emotion.
David Scammell
25                                                                               REVIEWS
     Whether it’s feeling the shockwaves from a
     nearby hotel explosion, being just a tad too
     late to save a group of duly-gassed hostages
     or witnessing the death of a colleague, the
     non-interactive sequences are expressed
     with such a lack of enthusiasm that it’s hard
     to evoke an emotional response. Few levels
     show fleeting moments of genius, one
     highlight coming from a rappel into a
     terrorist-run theatre in order to disarm a
     bomb, but moments like this are cruelly
     absent for the most part. Further into the
     game Vegas 2 throws you into the world
     alone, left fighting for survival off of your own
     back. It comes as quite a shock, not only
     because the rulebook is unexpectedly shot to
     pieces and the safety net of your squad             almost unparalleled replay value and elevating
     suddenly gone astray, but because it’s              your custom-created character to the highest
     arguably the best section of the entire game.       ranks will keep gamers playing for months to
     And when you’re saying that about a                 come.
     squad-based shooter, you know something
     somewhere has gone badly wrong.                     Multiplayer remains typical to the original with
                                                         the silky-smooth cover system promoting
     Thankfully, Vegas 2’s saving grace comes in         impressive gunfights and intense face offs.
     the form of the series’ renowned multiplayer        Cult-favourite ‘Terrorist Hunt’ returns offering a
     and overhauled XP system, ‘A.C.E.S.’. Now           welcome distraction to the campaign, allowing
     crossing over into both the single-player and       for four players to seek out a set number of
     multiplayer components, the A.C.E.S. system         AI-controlled terrorists across the twelve maps
     rewards a player’s talent with new weapons          on offer. Adversarial modes include options for
     and bonus equipment. Each kill awards a             archetypal ‘Deathmatch’ and ‘Team Death-
     small amount of XP, with bonus XP earned            match’ games, as well as offer up more
     for skilful kills like a well-placed headshot or    strategic alternative such as ‘Attack & Defend’,
     while firing blind. The system offers a level of    a mode reminiscent of Counter-Strike’s
                                                         planting/diffusing team-based play.

                                                         Vegas 2’s glaring lack of innovation and
                                                         simplistic tactical gameplay may be enough to
                                                         turn off any long-term series fans, but beneath
                                                         its uninspiring exterior lays a solid framework
                                                         and engaging multiplayer. Ubisoft Montreal may
                                                         have shown their hand too early, but the lack of
                                                         any direct competition outside standard run and
                                                         gunners means they can bluff their way to the
                                                         pot with an Ace High.



                                                                  VERDICT
26                                                                                                                 REVIEWS

                    Baby you got the keys, now shut up and drive

                    GRAN TURISMO 5
                    PROLOGUE
                    Y
                              ou just can’t please some            Other tracks include series staple ‘High
                              people. Not content with the         Speed Ring’ and ‘Daytona International
                              near-infinite wait for their next    Speedway’ that, while uninteresting at
                              fix of the ‘real driving simula-     first glance, act as a showcase for GT’s
                    tor’, you would think a cut-down (and          handling model – which naturally
                    appropriately cut-price) release would         remains second-to-none. Each car, from
                    suit the petrolheads salivating at the         the slow and heavy Mini Cooper, to the
                    thought of HD GT. But in many cases,           light and speedy Ferrari F2007, genuinely
                    apparently not - the sentiment of “isn’t it    feels different to drive; the shift in
                    just a demo?” positively buzzing around        balance and the variance in weight
                    many a gaming forum.                           conveyed accurately on the track. And
FORMAT                                                             talking of the revered Ferrari F1, the first
                    But in spite of those marring preconcep-       time you get your hands on it and its
PlayStation 3
                    tions, Prologue remains signature to the       appropriately high-pitched engine whine
PUBLISHER           series; the similar clean interface,           is truly an unparalleled experience within
SCE
                    familiar jazz soundtrack, outstanding          the genre. But that doesn’t come without
                    handling models and typically striking         a slow and painstaking slog beforehand.
DEVELOPER           visuals all primed and ready. Running at a
Polyphony Digital
                    super smooth 60FPS, Prologue’s near            Thankfully, the droning license tests are
                    photo-realism shows exactly what the           gone allowing players to get straight into
REVIEWED BY         oft-underachieving PS3 can be capable of.      the races at hand, but the first couple of
David Scammell      The included circuits go some way to           hours seem agonisingly slow as you race
                    show off the graphical leap between            your way through the A, B and C-Class
                    generations - London’s city streets            events. Prologue eventually comes into
                    pushing the abundant colour palette and        its own after unlocking the S-Class
                    subtle, but substantial, lighting effects to   events and, with it, the ability to tune your
                    the very edge. And then you start to notice    car’s setup, but by that point it’s practi-
                    the little things like the oncoming rush of    cally over.
                    air audibly fading as you creep into a
                    rival’s slipstream, or the nigh-on perfect
                    particle effects kicking into sight as you
                    career off track. To call Polyphony Digital
                    presentation sovereigns would be
                    somewhat of an understatement.
27                                                                                            REVIEWS
                     Which is where Prologue’s biggest failing lies
“MUCH MORE THAN      - in the game’s inability to encourage
                     continued play, taking a back seat to a
JUST A TEST DRIVE”   gamer’s own willingness to explore past the
                     preset events. While much more than just a
                     demo, quite how long it lasts is more down to
                     each individual’s enthusiasm to tinker
                     beneath the bonnet or rinse and repeat
                     events in order to build up that collection of
                     shiny, virtual cars. You could always admire
                     the stunning frontend however; the elegance
                     of Gran Turismo expressed with My Page -
                     your car of choice sitting gracefully aside a
                     stunning backdrop within a wealth of visual
                     extras.

                     Or you could venture online - Prologue acting
                     as the first game to take the seven-figure
                     selling series online in the western world.
                     While trouble-free, the limitations of PSN
                     once again rear their ugly head within the
                     16-player races; the lack of an in-game XMB
                     or friends list acting as the biggest dilemma.
                     It’s also rather limited (especially when
                     compared with stalwart online racers
                     available on rival platforms) with only preset   But even with the level of polish and visual
                     events on offer rather than giving players the   fidelity on show, there’s still the odd blemish -
                     ability to create their own races. Also new is   the inability to change any options during a
                     GT-TV, Gran Turismo’s video service that         race, the long and tedious process of getting
                     allows you to download documentaries and         into another car, the lack of an option to look
                     episodes of Top Gear, if you feel that way       around the stunningly rendered car interiors, or
                     inclined.                                        the cycling of a single music track realigning
                                                                      Prologue’s status as a pre-release exhibition. If
                                                                      we ever have to hear the dire sounds of The
                                                                      Klaxons again it’ll be all too soon.

                                                                      There aren’t many franchises that would get
                                                                      away with releasing a cut-down ‘demonstration’
                                                                      of what’s to come, but luckily for Sony, GT is one
                                                                      of them. In spite of the uninspiring online mode
                                                                      and indestructible cars hinting at Gran
                                                                      Turismo’s lack of will to change, the expansive
                                                                      event line-up, abundance of vehicles, and
                                                                      graphical fidelity that PS3 users have been
                                                                      yearning for make Prologue much more than
                                                                      just a mere test drive into the world of HD GT.

                                                                                VERDICT
28                                                                                                              REVIEWS



                    NO MORE
                    We can be heroes, just for one day




                    HEROES
                    R
                               ecently, many Wii owners of a
                               more… experienced nature
                               have been questioning if the
                                                                 Where Travis likely differs, though, is in
                                                                 the fact that he is an assassin. Finding
                                                                 himself 11th in the Assassin’s
                               console is actually for them.     Association’s leaderboards, he is now on
                    “Where are OUR games?” they cry.             a quest to become number one- “All that
                    Feeling that for every Super Mario           matters is who is best” is his oft-repeated
                    Galaxy and Metroid Prime there is an         mantra. And it is in the attempt on
                    avalanche of games aimed at Nintendo’s       Number 10’s life we take up control of
                    new, ‘casual’ audience; ones that are        Travis, drawing his beam-katana to fend
                    sweeping up the sales of the more            off the approaching goons. The katana
                    prodigious titles, therefore diluting        bears more than just a resemblance to a
                    them. A wistful hankering, perhaps, for      lightsaber; that familiar throbbing hum
                    ye olde days when videogaming was still      cuts the air as Travis wields it to
FORMAT              a somewhat niche past-time; a private        devastating effect.
Wii
                    thing to be shared only with other people
                    ‘in the know’. Now of course, that           Locking on with Z-targeting, katana
PUBLISHER           ‘private thing’ has been walked in on by     combos are performed by tapping the A
Rising Star Games   your Nan.                                    button before finishing off your foe with a
                                                                 swipe of the remote, the direction of
DEVELOPER           Well, it’s time to stow that belly-aching,   which is prompted on-screen. The
Grasshopper         jaded-gamer friends. No More Heroes is       B-button is used to beat your opponent
                    a game made especially for you. Travis       dizzy before grabbing him for a crunching
REVIEWED BY
                    Touchdown – our cool and arrogant            wrestling manoeuvre, performed by
Tom Hoggins         protagonist - spends his free time in his    gesturing with both the nunchuk and
                    cluttered motel room. The walls are          remote. Combat is No More Heroes main
                    covered in anime posters, action figures     draw, and is an incredible amount of fun.
                    line the shelves and, if you look closely,   The satisfaction felt dealing the killer-
                    you’ll find an N64 tucked away in there      blow with a swing of the remote is
                    somewhere. Travis is an Otaku nerd, who      palpable and notably more immersive
                    likes to watch wrestling videos. An          than wildly swinging for basic attacks.
                    exaggerated caricature of dorkiness          The large number of bodyguards that
                    perhaps, but one that is closer to the       usually protect Travis’ target are often not
                    truth of the game’s demographic than         particularly difficult to cut through, but
                    some of us would like to admit.              the challenge comes in performing
 29                                                                                                  REVIEWS
                     stylish slaughter; the faster you complete a
                     mission and the less health you lose on the way
 “[NMH] KNOWS ITS    determining your reward. Of course, you must
AUDIENCE AND GIVES   battle a highly trained assassin in a ‘ranked
                     match’ before you can collect, and this is where
THEM EXACTLY WHAT    No More Heroes really shines.
    THEY WANT”
                     Each target you fight is markedly different from
                     the last; some grotesque caricatures, others
                     startling in their normality. Few are comic-book
                     villains (though one takes the definition and
                     runs with it- you’ll see what we mean) but
                     instead come across as fairly complex charac-         hit the amount needed to open up the next
                     ters; no better or worse than Travis himself.         ranking match. And some players will, perhaps
                     Each character seems to have a story to tell;         understandably, wish that the task of making
                     snippets of which are revealed in the superb          money to pay for the more exciting things in life
                     dialogue that passes between Travis and his           be left firmly in the real world. However, new jobs
                     target. The story of a young arrogant assassin        are opened up after each ranking match and they
                     climbing up the rankings is but a framework for       are not devoid of their own charms.
                     the game to build itself on, but these exchanges
                     can be laugh-out-loud funny and even surpris-         Unfortunately, Santa Destroy is where the game
                     ingly poignant at times. Games positioning            shows its rough edges. While No More Heroes
                     themselves as ‘narrative-led’ could learn a lot       features Grasshopper’s trademark cel-shaded
                     from Suda51’s outstanding script.                     style – characters generally look terrific - at
                                                                           times in the town, the game can look downright
                     It’s not just in character that these boss fights     ugly. The purposeful cardboard cut-out nature of
                     differ either. While the basic strategy of learning   the town is one thing, but the game has horren-
                     an attack pattern, then blocking or dodging and       dous texture pop-in and occasional framerate
                     waiting for your chance to strike is a fairly         hitches. They’re small niggles, but ones that jar
                     pervasive one, most fights throw in a touch of        against the overall stylish aesthetic.
                     innovation or outright quirkiness to keep things
                     fresh. Each boss battle is a memorable one, and       Nevertheless, it seems almost ungrateful to
                     not just within this particular title.                grumble about a few technical deficiencies when
                                                                           so much of No More Heroes is designed
                     Before meeting your targets, cash must be             purposefully to make you grin from ear-to-ear.
                     raised within the hub-town of Santa Destroy to        Like the 8-bit stylings of the HUD or the first time
                     pay the ranked match entrance fee. Travis can         Travis’ association contact – the loquacious,
                     take on odd-jobs around the town, or freelance        lubricious Silvia Kristel - calls and you have to
                     assassination missions. The jobs are a mixture        hold the remote up to your ear. So much
                     of the mundane; from garbage collection to            imagination has gone into the smallest of things
                     graffiti cleaning. Each is a 3-minute task that       that it raises No More Heroes from a very good
                     flirts with tedium; a wholly deliberate ploy to       game, to a very special one. One that knows its
                     make you work for your money and open up an           audience, and gives them exactly what they want.
                     invitation to the more exciting assassination         It’s a game that is framed in a marvellous
                     missions. These typically pit you against a large     geek-chic snapshot. A game that knows what it
                     number of goons, but also have their own              does best, and does it wonderfully.
                     sprinkling of variation. Occasionally, building up
                     your cash with these side-jobs can be some-
                     thing of a grind; impatience can set in waiting to             VERDICT
30                                                                                                            REVIEWS



                  ARMY OF TWO
                  Building castles in the sky




                  T
                             here is a wonderful story          world, one where private military
                             surrounding the making of the      organisations are replacing the national
                             recent ‘Rambo’, in which           forces, is painted with large swathes of
                             Sylvester Stallone found           patriotism and flag-waving, and will be
                  himself surrounded by over half a dozen       interpreted as either uncomfortable or
                  screenplays, each of which saw his            long-overdue depending on your
                  muscle-ridden grunt visiting a different      point-of-view.
                  contemporary conflict. Predictably
                  confused, Stallone apparently phoned          Anyway, despite this macho aggression
                  the United Nations and asked them             Army Of Two is actually quite reticent
                  which war would be the best location for      when it comes to action. The firefights, no
                  his film. One suspects the developers at      doubt in keeping with the game’s
                  EA Montreal had a similar dilemma with        emphasis on realism, are more tests of
                  regards to choosing a setting for Army        endurance than spectacular set-pieces
                  Of Two, albeit one with an easier             (with the exception of a wonderfully
                  solution: “we’ll take them all”.              sustained shoot-out within Miami
                                                                airport). As the story progresses, as the
FORMAT REVIEWED   So Army Of Two’s brief campaign mode          basic strategic system becomes second
PlayStation 3     takes in such real-world arenas of war as     nature, so Army Of Two starts to
                  Afghanistan and Iraq (alongside China         resemble the likes of Virtua Cop and Time
OTHER FORMATS                                                   Crisis over the more instantly obvious
                  and Miami), something that is more
Xbox 360          interesting for the themes raised as a        comparison of Gears Of War. Though this
                  result of this than for the gameplay          isn’t necessarily a criticism of the game,
PUBLISHER
                  contained therein. Whereas games from         it is a surprising semblance further
EA                as far back as Desert Strike to last year’s   compounded by directional arrows that
                  Call Of Duty 4 have alluded to contempo-
DEVELOPER
                  rary political events as a device to
EA Montreal       heighten realism, Army Of Two leaves
REVIEWED BY       little room for such artistic license.

Zoheir Beig       In an early cutscene one of the protago-
                  nists awakes to rolling footage of 9/11, a
                  startling moment swiftly followed by a
                  mission which sees you frantically
                  defending yourself against “Al-Qaeda”
                  suicide bombers. Does the extra
                  dimension of interactivity and actual
                  news events add a distasteful context to
                  these Middle East excursions? Or is Army
                  Of Two justifiable videogaming catharsis
                  for Americans? Suffice to say the game’s
31                                                                                                      REVIEWS




underline the rigidly linear nature of the levels,   Which essentially sums up Army Of Two. There
a cover system that lacks any real flexibility,      are base pleasures to be found here once you
and enemy AI that veers between persistent to        get over the initial suspicion that what EA has
shambolic.                                           done is set a solid marker for future games in
                                                     the series (a feeling the rather hurried
The game’s supposedly unique idea, that you          conclusion does little to dispel), as opposed to
play as one part of a two-man army (the clue’s       attempting a reinvention of the third-person
in the title), is more successful than the           shooter genre. The game flows well (the
aforementioned flaws, but still isn’t explored       gradual introduction of mines, hovercrafts and
deeply enough to actually warrant having the         shields helping break the repetitive nature of
game built around this one theme. Save for           the firefights) and although visually it rarely
helping each other reach high ledges, flanking       threatens to leave images burnt into gaming
the occasional armoured guards and, er,              memory, neither does the game descend to
opening doors, it is perfectly possible to play      the depths plumbed by the deservedly
Army Of Two through with disregard for your          maligned Kane & Lynch (EA’s title was
partner (unless they are wounded, in which           supposedly delayed for a few months to avoid
case you need to heal them in a manner               clashing with Eidos’ similar buddy third-person
reminiscent of Gears…). One noteworthy               actioner, though next to that travesty Army Of
development is the ‘aggro’ meter, which              Two comes across as if born from the hand of
increases the more you fire and kill; once full      Miyamoto himself).
an optional ‘overkill’ mode allows for a small
period of increased power. Because the needle        Like the private war organisation it depicts,
swings between both characters the feature           Army Of Two is morally dubious and yet
works best when in co-op mode with a fellow          professionally executed - the videogame
gamer, encouraging further violence and              Michael Bay would make if he grew up with
adding some healthy competition to an area of        NES as opposed to Super-8, and a title we
the game that suits this two-man dynamic the         think will be remembered in years to come
best, even though overall it all feels a little      more for its politics than the actual gameplay.
under-nourished.                                     Stallone would certainly approve.


                                                              VERDICT
32                                                                                                       REVIEWS


              BEAUTIFUL
              But here we are the rolling people




              KATAMARI
              T
                        his writer remembers the first      anything, more muted than the PS2
                        time he laid eyes on Katamari       games, while the story (The King Of All
                        Damacy; a seemingly esoteric,       Cosmos has left a hole in the sky after a
                        wantonly oddball and distinctly     particularly powerful tennis serve) comes
              Japanese creation whose kaleidoscopic         across as trying too hard to recapture the
              colours, simple controls and subtle           surreal humour of old. Clipping and
              commentary on materialism gone                slowdown also rear their ugly head in the
              rampant could not have been more              first few levels, which just to make
              opposed to the generic mass-market            matters worse feel recycled from
              videogaming fare that is the norm. Keita      previous games and somewhat barren by
              Takahashi’s game was a truly “alterna-        comparison. It is as if what you’ve put in
              tive” offering.                               the Xbox 360’s tray is someone’s poor
                                                            facsimile of what a Katamari game
FORMAT        However, such initially radical works         should be.
Xbox 360      rarely maintain this sense of excitement
              with time, the thrill of the new replaced     Thankfully things significantly improve
PUBLISHER
              by comfort and predictability. Because the    once this initial disappointment has
Atari         games revolve (quite literally) around a      faded. Katamari Damacy is after all one
              solitary idea, this sense of dawning          of the most beautifully designed
DEVELOPER
              familiarity is something that arguably
Namco         happened quicker to Katamari Damacy
REVIEWED BY
              than it perhaps should have; and yet
              without a rolling katamari to control and
Zoheir Beig   wreck havoc across various environments
              the games would cease to be Katamari
              games. Creating something so grippingly
              unique from birth can clearly be as much
              of an albatross as it is a magnet for
              plaudits. How to progress a series
              without losing the essence of what made
              it so special in the first place?

              Beautiful Katamari doesn’t offer any
              immediate answers. Ominously the first
              thing you notice is that despite this being
              the series’ first leap into the
              next-generation, the visuals are, if
33                                                                                                                  REVIEWS




videogames of recent times, with a system of
rewards and increasing challenge that taps into the
completist lurking within most gamers. So the
experience of playing Beautiful Katamari quickly
reaches a peak of compulsion that overrides the
superficial neglect of the presentation. Each level
requires an intelligent approach, with many
sessions conceivably spent simply formulating
strategy and working out the layout of the world
                                                         Once the modest number of levels have been
(quick tip: once an extra section is open don’t
                                                         cleared there is still the lure of high scores, given an
hesitate to explore). Some courses even break with
                                                         extra dimension here thanks to the ever-present
tradition and instead of a particular size set markers
                                                         online leaderbords. There are also several
of varying criteria; a particular highlight is ‘Roller
                                                         multiplayer components, though in all honesty
Roaster’, which requires your Katamari to reach
                                                         Beautiful Katamari is best enjoyed as a solitary
10,000 degrees Celsius, a task made tricky by the
                                                         pursuit: by turns relaxing, demanding and entirely
numerous cold items dotted around as obstacles. It
                                                         joyous. For those yet to experience Katamari, this
is imaginative uses of the core Katamari mechanic
                                                         last description is particularly apt when thinking
like this which suggest the series does have a strong
                                                         about the soundtrack, an amazing combination of
future, especially if Namco hurry and release the
                                                         j-pop, jazz and dance that is as distinctive a part of
oft-rumoured Wii version.
                                                         the experience as the gameplay or the visual style
                                                         (the flat animals are still the highlight).

                                                         Takahashi, who was not involved with this third
                                                         entry, seemingly understands the inevitability of
                                                         diminishing returns better than anyone. At one
                                                         developers conference soon after the original’s
                                                         release he attacked the idea of sequels, observing
                                                         that most games were “tainted with the stink of big
                                                         business”. The sense of freshness may have
                                                         dissipated (unless of course you are experiencing
                                                         Katamari for the first time, in which case prepare for
                                                         sensory overload), but despite our earlier reserva-
                                                         tions that the host hardware is barely exploited, this
                                                         is still the same wonderful game that entranced this
                                                         writer, and several thousand alongside me, those
                                                         four years ago.


                                                                        VERDICT
34                                                                                                                   REVIEWS




                        PATAPON
                        When two tribes go to war




                                                                         creepy Patapons are bloodthirsty




                        Y
                                                                         monochrome eyeballs who traverse a
                                  ou’ll be hearing a lot of this         bright, colourful world battling the
                                  tub-thumping chant of the              Zigotons and other huge creatures of the
                                  Patapon; the incessant beat            land, wailing a high-pitched chant that
                                  that burrows deep inside your          ebbs and flows in time with your
                        head and is nigh-on impossible to shake.         movement. The whole thing becomes a
                        You rap the undulating tempo on your             cacophony of colour and sound, yet one
                        desk, clink a spoon on the side of your          that somehow makes perfect sense
                        coffee-cup; even when you’re brushing            once you wrap your initially boggled
                        your teeth the beat of those drums spill         mind around the game’s concept.
                        into the real world. Suddenly everything
                        needs to be performed in perfect,                You begin with just a small party of
FORMAT                  pulsing rhythm...                                spear wielding hunters (Yaripons) and
                                                                         are tasked with taking them to Patata
PSP                                                                      Plains to hunt for their food. To kindle
PUBLISHER                                                                the fire in these Patapons you must bang
                        You take on the role of The Almighty,            your drums in time with the pulsing
SCE                     worshipped by the Patapon tribe and              beat, with each drum assigned to one of
DEVELOPER               destined to lead them towards Earthend           the PSP’s face buttons. You combine
                        to cast their eyes on ‘IT’. In order to fulfil   these drums to form a song that makes
Pyramid/Japan Studios   this destiny, the Patapons must fight their      your Patapon charge forward, dancing
REVIEWED BY             way past the Zigoton army who will               and chanting as they go. A different song
                        seemingly do anything to stand in their          will have them attack their enemy, while
Tom Hoggins
                        way. A proud hunting tribe, the Patapons’        another will make them stand their
                        fighting spirit and resolve are spurred on       ground and defend. At first, trying to
                        by their deity’s thunderous drums...             manage your group of Patapons in this
                                                                         mad, musical way seems slightly
                                                                         complicated, but once you tune yourself
                                                                         into the pulsing beat you soon have the
                        But just what the hell is Patapon? The           little critters jigging and singing their
                        game is a curious blend of rhythm action         way across the screen to your every
                        and real-time strategy; to meld two such         whim. Perform enough beats in a row,
                        wildly different genres is a brave enough        and your Patapons will enter ‘Fever’
                        move in itself, but Pyramid and Japan            mode whereupon their chanting will rise
                        Studios have made Patapon with total             to a zenith and the fired up tribesman
                        unabashed quirkiness and, frankly, this is       launch their barrage of arrows and
                        as bizarre as it gets. The charming yet          spears with extra zeal.
35                                                                                                REVIEWS
                          Keeping in ‘Fever’ is the game’s rhythmical
                          challenge; as your Patapons hit the high, the
                          music subtly shifts and the chanting gets
                          more frantic. It’s this initial moment that is
                          likely to throw you off course and can
                          occasionally become a source of frustration,
                          particularly as the game can be a harsh
                          master. Some of the game’s many missions
                          can fall on the miss of one beat; your Patapon
                          army lay to waste due to a split-second of
                          hesitation that dumps you out of fever mode.
                          Certain missions can take a turn for the
                          tedious as you fight your way through, only to
                          slip at one crucial juncture. Love for the game
                          can turn to hate within the space of a
                          drum-beat.

                          So for all its outwardly quirky appearance,
                          Patapon is not afraid of teaching you a lesson;
                                                                            The strategy comes from combining three
                          it will decimate your underpowered army,
                                                                            classes that most suit the mission at hand.
                          making sure you know only to come back
                                                                            While some missions are simply a case of
                          when you’ve built your forces to a worthy
                                                                            choosing your strongest team and making sure
                          level. To do so you must gather resources and
                                                                            you keep yourself in fever mode; some do
                          ‘kaching’ (Patapon’s currency) to give birth to
                                                                            require a certain amount of tactical nous to get
                          new warriors. Each class of Patapons –
                                                                            through. As you progress into the game’s later
                          including cavalry, archers and huge
                                                                            stages, the strategic side of Patapon deepens
                          club-wielding brutes - have their own
                                                                            so you can ill-afford to neglect the upkeep of
                          strengths and weaknesses and must be
                                                                            your army. Unfortunately, this is where Patapon
                          equipped with weapons and armour
                                                                            can become something of a grind, as resource
                          scavenged from battle.
                                                                            gathering basically means repeating several
                                                                            hunts and battling the same bosses ad
                                                                            infinitum. Kaching can be hard to come by and a
                                                                            lot of the resources needed to birth Patapons
                                                                            can only be found in certain stages, which you
                                                                            must return to frequently. Still, it is perhaps
                                                                            appropriate that you are made to work for that
                                                                            super-powered Rarepon.

                                                                            Any frustration that may occur while playing
                                                                            Patapon is easily lost in the breath of fresh air
                                                                            that the game undoubtedly is. Especially when
                                                                            you’re pounding those drums in a perfect beat
“A BREATH OF FRESH AIR”                                                     as your Patapon army tear down Zigoton forts
                                                                            and bring great beasts to their knees, all the
                                                                            while dancing and perpetuating their infectious
                                                                            chant...

                                                                                    VERDICT
36                                                                                                             REVIEWS
                  Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?

                  TURNING POINT
                  FALL OF LIBERTY
                  T
                            urning Point makes us cry.         pop-in (of which there is plenty), but
                            When the title was first           game-breaking bugs. Take for example
                            revealed back in 2006, the         not being able to use an essential object
                            concept couldn’t have been         and thus unable to progress, or having
                  closer to what the market badly needed.      the game completely lock up as a result
                  With the WWII genre bent into nothing        of blowing up a door you weren’t yet
                  but a cash-cow, once highly-regarded         supposed to. Quite simply, Turning Point’s
                  franchises rapidly became “get rich          complete lack of quality assurance is
                  quick” drivel, hence little-known            inexcusable.
                  developers Spark Unlimited’s ingenious
                  idea to innovate the market. But if ever     But if the incessant glitches weren’t
                  there was a stark representation of a        enough, the stiff animation, appalling AI,
                  great idea being badly implemented,          horrendous lighting and textures bad
FORMAT REVIEWED   Turning Point is it.                         enough to make even the most modest of
Xbox 360
                                                               PS2s blush, are all testament to how
                  Maybe we’re just being picky but we          poorly designed Turning Point is. Enemy
OTHER FORMATS     expect a so-called ‘finished’ game to at     intelligence (if you could really label it as
                  least be playable from start to finish       such) is nigh-on absurd; Hitler’s army
PS3, PC
                  without having to suffer an experience       seemingly portrayed as a bunch of
PUBLISHER         hindered by bugs. Given gaming’s             schizophrenic maniacs that overwhelm-
Codemasters
                  exorbitant pricing structure we believe      ingly take charge at you one minute and
                  that statement to be even more signifi-      stand around scratching their arse the
DEVELOPER         cant, but in any case, it’s obvious Spark    next. One particular moment of madness
Spark Unlimited   think differently.                           allowed us to stand in an open street and
                                                               snipe each and every one of our invaders
REVIEWED BY       From the frequent slowdown and               undeterred. While we’re appreciative of
David Scammell    horrendous clipping issues, to enemies       that moment for allowing us to get the
                  lined up in our sights and suddenly          game over with quicker, we don’t think
                  disappearing, Turning Point is a glitch-     many gamers would welcome the lack of
                  ridden mess to the point of absurdity. And   hostility shown by a purportedly merci-
                  we’re not just talking superfluous           less force.
                  glitches like twitching bodies or texture
37                                                                     REVIEWS
     Adding to the unrelenting lunacy, unclear        And in spite of the inspiring context
     mission objectives and indistinguishable         Turning Point doesn’t so much follow a
     waypoints led to many moments of                 storyline, but more often a case of being
     bemusement, and, in one case, amuse-             thrown into random and disparate
     ment, as we finally realised we had to           scenarios, handed a gun and told to sort
     climb on top of some poor sod’s fridge in        it; the jump between assassinating the US
     order to progress. Quite why we couldn’t         President one mission and ending up in
     just use one of the thousands of ladders         the Tower of London the next, a jarring
     that apparently littered 1950’s North            realisation of the careless lack of flow.
     America, we’re not sure. Meanwhile
     checkpoints are few and far between,             At times Turning Point can show
     often resulting in having to replay huge         moments of true potential; the
     portions of a mission after an inevitable        half-decent environmental grapples and
     (and often unfair) death handed to you by        White House assault fleeting glimpses of
     the onslaught of potato masher-wielding          how things could have been. But in its
     Nazis. The scarcity of checkpoints is            current form, Turning Point doesn’t even
     enough to put off even the most persever-        deserve to be mentioned in the same
     ant of gamers from progressing beyond            breath as other shooters currently
     the opening levels, let alone the casuals        available on the home consoles, let alone
     the game is apparently intended for.             share the same shelf space.

     We could go on about Turning Point’s
     technical weaknesses for a while - we’ve           VERDICT
     got a list here as long as our arm - but we
     feel we’ve said enough. Amongst all of its
     garbage programming, Turning Point’s
     biggest disappointment comes from
     Spark’s inability to turn an innovative
     concept into an exciting and gripping
     game. Other than the variance in locales,
     (which for the most part you really
     wouldn’t notice, nor care about) Turning
     Point does very little to differentiate itself
     from other titles in the genre.
38                                                                                                             REVIEWS



                  FRONTLINES
                  Where bullet holes scar the minarets




                  FUEL OF WAR
                  B
                            y now you’ve no doubt read          is obvious, and to look at Fuel of War as a
                            countless articles telling you      single-player conversion of Battlefield 2
                            how the Xbox 360 has an             wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
                            unprecedented number of first       Predominantly based around capturing
                  person shooters. How unexceptional            territory and pushing forward the
                  titles come and go without even making        frontlines, each of the game’s seven
                  a scratch on the genre. And how it takes      single-player maps are littered with
                  something special to pull loyal gamers        controllable vehicles and useful gadgets,
                  away from the few more than stellar           such as explosive remote control drones
                  performances already available on the         and laser pointing devices used to call in
                  console. So how could Frontlines              tactical missile strikes. Impressively, the
                  possibly hope to compete in an ostensi-       multitude of available character classes
                  bly unbreakable market?                       (from the aggressive anti-tank soldier to
FORMAT REVIEWED                                                 the restrained sniper unit) offers the
                  In the light of Call of Duty 4, you’d fully   player the chance to carve each mission
Xbox 360          expect Frontlines to be just another one      exactly as they see fit. Whether storming a
OTHER FORMATS     of those “come and go” titles that does       base in an Apache-like attack chopper, or
                  little other than to briefly satisfy the      slowly creeping deeper into enemy
PC                hungrier gamers hankering for their           territory with only a sniper rifle and
PUBLISHER         quick fix of semi-decent FPS action. And      support drone to rely on, the options are
                  in many ways you’d be right. Other than       there for you to do so.
THQ               an (admittedly remarkable) 50-player
DEVELOPER         online component, Frontlines’ combina-        And it can certainly be intense. The first
                  tion of Battlefield-style territorial         time you witness the desecration and
Kaos Studios      gameplay and GRAW-style near-future           orange-hazed skyline of a freshly
REVIEWED BY       weaponry does indeed do little to             atomically-obliterated battlefield is more
                  enhance the genre, and more so simply         than enough to get your emotions running
David Scammell
                  mesh together those that have come            high, despite the typically brash voiceovers
                  before it.                                    of your accompanying squad that do
                                                                nothing but lower the sentiment of the
                  Taking place primarily in the Middle East,    situation. However, given their grandeur,
                  the near-future setting acts as an            it’s disappointing that these iconic set
                  unnerving parallel to real-world events       pieces are few and far between. Even the
                  as we follow the ongoing struggle             final invasion of Moscow is somewhat of
                  between the Western Coalition and the         an anti-climax given the lengthy build up;
                  Red Star Alliance. From the get go Kaos       the once-mighty Red Army signalling their
                  Studios’ history with multiplayer shooters    defeat all too easily and unconvincingly.
39                                                                           REVIEWS




     Of course, the more regular occasions of
     flying a C4-packed drone into an enemy’s
     stronghold or targeting artillery fire on
     unsuspecting hostiles are unashamedly
     “cool”, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen
     before. In fact, squint too hard and you’ll be
     convinced you’re playing just another Tom
     Clancy game. The lack of originality is
     Frontlines’ biggest downfall, merely meshing
     together elements of previous games to           provided you’re playing on one of THQ’s
     create an amalgamation that simply works         dedicated servers. It’s an impressive feat given
     well, rather than exceptionally.                 the enormity of the maps and the multitude of
                                                      gamers playing within. One glaring omission is
     So while Frontlines’ single-player may not       the lack of variant modes that restricts players
     break any boundaries, multiplayer is where       to long territorial-based games each and every
                the game truly comes into its own.    time. A simple Team Deathmatch wouldn’t have
                Offering support for up to 50         gone amiss, and the lack of options is some-
                simultaneous players, it’s clear      thing we feel may setback the game’s long term
                from the start that Frontlines’       integration with online players.
                online component means
                business. All the elements of the     While limited and not particularly lengthy, Kaos
                single-player game make the           has done an admirable job in translating a
                transition, including the various     full-on multiplayer mechanic into a gripping
                character classes, drones and         and fulfilling single-player offering. And those
                controllable vehicles, although       able to tear themselves away from Call of Duty
                now with the added bonus of           4 or Vegas 2 for just a moment will find a solid
                fully-flyable jets. Who could help    and enjoyable addictive multiplayer component.
                but raise a smile when their          Given that you can find a lobby full of decent
                heat-guided missile satisfyingly      players, Frontlines can easily stand up with the
                collides with a mid-flight MIG?       big guns as one of the better online multiplayer
                                                      experiences available on Xbox Live. And
                And despite the unprecedented         ultimately, you can’t ask for much more than
                number of players in a game at        that.
                any one time, it’s all smooth
                sailing with little to zero lag -
                                                               VERDICT
40                                                                                                                REVIEWS


                   LOST:
                   Dude, you've got some...Arzt...on you




                   VIA DOMUS
                   M
                                uch like movie adaptations,       So far so good, and despite the odd bit of
                                TV show crossovers have           slowdown and tearing, the excellent
                                never been particularly good      presentation is backed up by some truly
                                - Alias, Buffy, South Park, 24,   lush visuals; dense foliage fills the
                   CSI... you name it, the videogame              detailed forest areas to bursting while the
                   translations have all been poor. So can        blistering midday sun shines down on the
                   Lost: Via Domus finally change our             unforgettable beach wreckage. But, as
                   preconceptions of licensed videogame           seems to becoming more commonplace,
                   pap, or is it going straight to DVD?           style over substance is yet again order of
                                                                  the day. Much like the aforementioned 24:
                   At first glance, Via Domus seems to be a       The Game, Via Domus is home to a vat of
                   dream come true for fans of the                fantastic source material filled with
                   respected TV series. Packing all the           colossal potential, but yet has been wasted
FORMAT REVIEWED    presentation finesse you’d expect from         on tired gameplay and shallow puzzle
                   the big-budget brand, Via Domus dumps          sections.
Xbox 360
                   you onto the mysterious tropical island
OTHER FORMATS      alongside the show’s familiar castaways,       Telling the story of amnesia-suffering
PS3, PC
                   each gloriously rendered within the            protagonist ‘Elliott Maslow’, a character
                   recognizable locations. “Previously on         introduced specifically for the game, Via
PUBLISHER          Lost” video-reels introduce the start of       Domus follows the everyday man’s efforts
Ubisoft            each chapter, themselves kicking off with      to regain his memory and escape from the
                   an absorbing snippet as the Lost logo          mystifying island. As is typical to the show,
DEVELOPER          characteristically zooms into the              Elliott holds a fascinating past – rather
Ubisoft Montreal   foreground; it’s clear Via Domus was           fortunate given the backstory elements
                   always intended to be an interactive           are far more interesting than any action
REVIEWED BY
                   alternative to the popular ABC show.           there is to be had on the island.
David Scammell
41                                                                                            REVIEWS
                             The majority of your time with Via Domus       You’ll also be treated to regular puzzles,
                             is spent traipsing through the island’s        but despite being a major part of the
                             dense forest on the hunt for various items.    game they’re never particularly well
                             In an unknown environment filled with          thought out, and turn out to be another of
                             excitement and adventure this would have       Via Domus’ big letdowns. Clearly targeting
                             perhaps been an attractive prospect, but       the casual market looking for an easy run,
                             following flags to direct Elliott through a    the puzzles do little in the way of adding a
                             desolate preset path is neither exciting       challenge, only acting as a mean to
                             nor gripping. Even when the dreaded            prolong the four hour story. If there was
                             black smoke is added to the fray later into    any variation it wouldn’t have been so
                             the game, Via Domus can’t shake the            much of a problem, but having to
                             tedium, and we regularly found ourselves       repeatedly route electrical circuits or
                             wishing for the next cutscene to kick in so    answer ‘Mensa-lite’ IQ questions (1-3-5-?
                             we could continue with the story. Never a      anybody?) only leads to irritation.
                             good sign.
                                                                            Another disappointment is Via Domus
                             More interesting, however, are the             rarely showing its “Enter The
                             flashback sequences - regular intervals        Matrix”-style simultaneity. Despite taking
                             that piece together Elliott’s paparazzi        place over the duration of the first and
                             past. Appropriately played out behind a        second season, that fact mostly goes
                             camera lens, these sections require Elliott    unrealised other than in the opening
                             to reproduce a destroyed photo to trigger      scene. Few key moments from the show
                             his memory. Choosing an appropriate            are merely hinted at, while other
                             spot, setting the correct level of focus and   highlights are skipped altogether. As

     “FANS WILL LAP UP VIA
      DOMUS’ CAPTIVATING
                             carefully timing the perfect shot leads to
                             opening up the memory, allowing Elliott to
                             find out as much as possible at his past.
                                                                            many Lost fans would agree, it would
                                                                            have been nice to at least have been a
                                                                            part of some of the standout moments of
      STORY AND STUNNING     They’re arguably the more exciting parts       the show playing out in the background to


                       ”
                             of Via Domus and go some way to explain        Via Domus’ story, rather than faffing
         AUTHENTICITY        his purpose on the island.                     about with black smoke in the Dark
                                                                            Territory or fiddling with fuses in The
                                                                            Swan.

                                                                            At the very least, Lost: Via Domus is
                                                                            disappointing. Having made excellent use
                                                                            of a movie license in the past with Peter
                                                                            Jackson’s King Kong, Via Domus feels like
                                                                            an indolent cash-in from the French giant,
                                                                            rather than the self-respected game we
                                                                            expected it to be. Fans of the series will
                                                                            lap up the game for its captivating story
                                                                            and stunning authenticity, but for the rest
                                                                            of us, it’s just another one to add to Ubi’s
                                                                            growing list of ’must try-harder’ titles.



                                                                             VERDICT
42                                                                                                                 REVIEWS

                         I'm so tired of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears


                         LOST ODYSSEY
                         T
                                   here’s something to be said       potential dead-weight from a narrative
                                   for tradition. The shrewd old     perspective, the balance that developers
                                   sage sitting in the corner of a   Mistwalker have managed to create
                                   room watching the young           means the two are able to co-exist and
                         relentlessly attempt to innovate and        complement each other beautifully.
                         add ‘fresh’ new ingredients into life.
                         The old man would probably laugh,           This balance must be accredited to the ‘A
                         chuckle to himself, content with his        Thousand Year Dreams’ feature; a series
                         achievements knowing full well that         of short stories brought to life via subtly
                         they’ll stand the test of time. And stand   implemented visuals and airy music that
                         the test of time they have. Lost            depicts the recently unlocked memories
                         Odyssey is the wise old man of the role     of Kaim and his fellow immortals. The
                         playing world, drenched in the tried        feature is entirely optional, but it’s an
                         and tested gameplay mechanics and           unexpected masterstroke from the
FORMAT                   structure of RPGs from the last ten or      developers. The stories are written in a
Xbox 360                 so years. With Final Fantasy creator        simple fashion allowing you to express
                         Hironobu Sakaguchi at the helm, Lost        your own imagery onto the story; many of
PUBLISHER                Odyssey takes on many of the                which are emotional heavyweights,
Microsoft Game Studios   hallmarks of that critically acclaimed      pulling on every available heartstring and
                         series, yet twists them slightly to         throwing knockout punches that will
DEVELOPER                ensure that it has its own identity and     move most players to tears.
Mistwalker               isn’t simply a neatly dressed title,
                         pressed out of an RPG cookie-cutter         Otherwise, Lost Odyssey is a fairly
REVIEWED BY
                         template.                                   conservative RPG. Utilising a traditional
Greg Latham                                                          turn-based combat mechanic, the
                         Lost Odyssey tells the story of an          environments, although beautiful, are
                         immortal named Kaim, struggling with        fairly typical densely-populated city and
                         the burden of eternal life and the          barren wilderness affairs. The linearity
                         memories that lay shattered in his          present in the environmental paths also
                         mind. The story that weaves its way         extends to the combat; those who have
                         through the heart of the game is            grown accustom to the freedom of
                         incredibly epic and yet oddly personal at   movement and choice afforded to them
                         the same time; interweaving the             via the likes of Mass Effect and Final
                         political turmoil within each province      Fantasy XII may find the ordered
                         with Kaim’s past and present dilemmas.      turn-based combat system of Lost
                         Although this choice may seem like a        Odyssey a little off putting.
43                                                                    REVIEWS




     Likewise, those who have never been a          assign to your characters before each
     fan of the system will not find a saving       battle prove to be critical to your success.
     grace in the combat mechanics either.          In fact, there’s such a great deal of
     Having said that, the combat system itself     customization and fine tuning within Lost
     is incredibly well implemented, and            Odyssey that it keeps combat consistently
     although the difficulty of some battles        interesting and challenging. Not that it
     may trouble players, it only reflects better   particularly needed to deliver in this
     on the system when a complete overhaul         respect given that the story will keep you
     of your battle tactics results in a convinc-   hooked for the game’s gargantuan length;
     ing victory.                                   spanning four discs and forty to sixty
                                                    hours of gameplay.
     Time elements are also thrown into the
     combat foray, but strictly speaking, the       Although suited in all the hallmarks of
     combat is measured and tactical.               traditional RPG attire, Lost Odyssey excels
     Defensive strategies may prove as equally      in every department. There are subtle
     effective as their offensive counterparts,     deviations on tried and tested methods,
     and the various skills that you’ll have to     but every element of Lost Odyssey has
                                                    been honed to perfection. The characters
                                                    are as vivid as the environments are
                                                    beautiful, and the soundtrack, performed
                                                    by Nobuo Uematsu, heightens the many
                                                    emotional moments present within the
                                                    story. At times, the lack of innovation may
                                                    dull the experience and there are certain
                                                    pitfalls that make combat too easy, but
                                                    the emotional high and lows that Lost
                                                    Odyssey is able to conjure up more than
                                                    make up for the dull middle notes.



                                                      VERDICT
44                                                                                                             REVIEWS



                  FIFA STREET 3
                  Catch me if you can, Cos I’m the England man




                  F
                           IFA Street is a football game       rather soulless. This is not a problem that
                           where the pitch is a stretch of     FIFA Street 3 suffers from (on the outside
                           concrete overlooking a Tokyo        at least), having visual charm in
                           skyline, where players use          abundance. Rather than go for the
                  rabonas, rainbow kicks, lollipops and        quasi-realistic wax ogres of their primary
                  any other flick or trick you can think of    footballing franchise, Street 3 gives 250
                  that hasn’t had a name made up for it. A     professionals a stylistic, cartoon
                  football game in which even the heftiest     makeover. Each player model is a terrific,
                  of players can backflip off a wall to        exaggerated caricature of their real live
                  avoid a defender’s tackle that closely       selves. Cover-star Peter Crouch looks
                  resembles a roundhouse karate sweep.         like an extra from a Tim Burton animated
                  There’s no referees, no offside and          movie; pale thin taffy stretched to
                  opponents are not abashed to send you        breaking point before being topped off
FORMAT REVIEWED   crumpling to the tarmac while you            with a mop of blonde hair. All shapes and
                  attempt a bicycle kick. High-paced and       sizes are catered for; Wayne Rooney is
Xbox 360          high-scoring; FIFA Street is what you’d      bigger than the proverbial brick
OTHER FORMATS     get if you crossed football, basketball      outhouse, all muscle and scowling
                  and ice hockey before hosting it on an       features. Not someone you want to run
PS3, DS           oil rig platform.                            into down a dark alley, even in cartoon
PUBLISHER                                                      form.
                  Sounds great, right? So why is it that
EA                EA’s last two attempts at bringing soccer    For all the wonderful artwork, the players
DEVELOPER         to the streets have been so roundly          need to perform out on the pitch. And for
                  derided? To an extent it was a franchise     the most part, FIFA Street 3 achieves
EA Canada         that people found turning their nose up      what it sets out to do; which is to be a fun,
REVIEWED BY       at easily, scoffing at the cynical smash     accessible 5-a-side kickabout without the
                  ‘n’ grab raid targeted at our nation’s       trappings of a full blown simulation.
Tom Hoggins
                  spotty-faced, tracksuit wearing youths.      Rightly eschewed by these sims, Street 3
                  After all, those ‘bozos’ who bought and      utilises a ‘sticky-ball’ mechanic. It’s
                  enjoyed FIFA Street wouldn’t know a          something of a throwback having the ball
                  good game even if it bit them on the         as part of the player’s animations, rather
                  particulars, would they? Perhaps people      than a separate entity while in posses-
                  were just pissed off that someone at EA      sion, but it is entirely apt in a game which
                  thought it was a good idea to put some       is all about close-control and OTT play.
                  berk from So Solid Crew on commen-           Tapping Y will flick the ball up, from
                  tary. Now that’s much more understand-       which you can either unleash a volley or
                  able.                                        have an impromptu game of keepy-uppy,
                                                               even holding the left trigger to rest the
                  Whatever your opinion on the previous        ball on various body parts. The now
                  games, it’s difficult to deny that they      perennial EA ‘trick-stick’ is also used to
                  lacked a certain... character. For all the   perform a variety of drags to bamboozle
                  fancy-dan skills on display, they felt       defenders.
45                                                                                                               REVIEWS
                                 These all look great, with terrific animation
     “FLAMBOYANTLY FUN FOOTIE”   enhancing the overall visual splendour, though
                                 they do feel somewhat automatic and whether
                                 your shimmying and shaking beats your man
                                 doesn’t always seem down to pert timing. The
                                 real thrill comes from combining these skills
                                 into one display of showboating, culminating
                                 with smashing the ball into the net. For every
                                 trick you perform you add power to your
                                 ‘Gamebreaker’ bar which, when full and
                                 activated, maxes out all your players. You can
                                 juggle the ball through the entire opposing team
                                 before unleashing an unstoppable scissor kick
                                 into the top corner, or scamper along the wall
                                 before flicking a cross over for a diving header.
                                 Attacking football is the name of the game here,      Defensive grumblings aside, FIFA Street 3 really
                                 and you do have a certain amount of freedom.          is a lot of fun, especially in multiplayer. The game
                                 It’s not just about winning; it’s about winning big   features a robust online component, with a few
                                 and with style.                                       modes to choose from in ranked and unranked
                                                                                       matches. However, this can’t match sitting side
                                 That said; it doesn’t excuse the game’s woeful        by side with a pal after you’ve just played a
                                 stab at defending. Tackles seem to work at            one-two with the wall before powering a shot
                                 random, and even when you think you’ve nailed         past his hapless keeper. Single-player however, is
                                 the timing, a juggling adversary will occasionally    a little lacking, and although the CPU AI is strong
                                 pay no mind to the repeated toe-punting you’re        enough to give you an enjoyable game, the
                                 dishing out. It almost spoils the game, as the        challenge mode is terribly thin. Indeed, some
                                 tackling and dribbling don’t seem to be               modes are only to the game’s detriment - the
                                 consistent with one another, and it can make for      ‘Gamebreaker’ mode, where only goals can be
                                 some infuriating moments when your opponent           scored while powered-up, can go on for far too
                                 skips through, rather than past, your Van             long, becoming a tedious war of attrition. It’s a
                                 Damme style kung-fu kick.                             shame that more wasn’t made of the single-
                                                                                       player - a career where you build a team of stars
                                                                                       around a customised player a la NBA Street
                                                                                       perhaps; any excuse to create a stylised
                                                                                       caricature of yourself.

                                                                                       This lack of a significant career mode among
                                                                                       some other niggles make it difficult to recom-
                                                                                       mend FIFA Street 3 unconditionally. It’s unasham-
                                                                                       edly shallow and it will give some of the more
                                                                                       ostentatious among us a rash; but it’s flamboy-
                                                                                       antly fun footie that’s ideal for pre/post pub
                                                                                       knockabouts when a match on PES or FIFA 08
                                                                                       just seems a bit too much. And should it find its
                                                                                       way into your collection, if it makes you feel
                                                                                       better, you could always call it a guilty pleasure.


                                                                                                 VERDICT
46                                                                                                                            REVIEWS



                  SONIC RIDERS
                  I’ll be back one day, just pray for me. I’m on my way, surfing on a rocket




                  ZERO GRAVITY
                  I
                       n videogame terms, it’s fair to say     sequence. After stumbling upon a fallen       Like Martie McFly first getting to grips
                       that Sonic the Hedgehog is              meteorite, Sonic and his furry friends are    with the hoverboard in ‘Back to the
                       somewhat of a veteran. Recent           set upon by heavily armed robots intent       Future 2’, Zero Gravity wobbles, shakes
                       years, however, haven’t been too        on laying their hands on our heroes’          and eventually sinks into a pond of its
                  kind to the old fella, and to say he’s       discovery. A strong narrative isn’t usually   own lack of ambition. Most importantly
                  made a few wrong turns would be              central to racing games of this type, and     the sense of speed is never convincing;
                  somewhat of an understatement. The           the paper thin plot that is weaved around     what should be a blazing dash through
                  once proud figurehead of a gaming            the ensuing ‘high-speed’ hoverboarding        the sixteen available courses (spread over
                  corporation has been subjected to all        doesn’t add much, bar supplying a vague       eight worlds), in fact barely moves beyond
                  manner of degradations; from losing his      sense of purpose to the single player         a pedestrian stroll. Even at maximum
                  spot in the limelight to Shadow the          mode.                                         speed, you are never slapped around the
                  Hedgehog, to a disastrous first outing on                                                  face with the intensity of the races a la
                  the current crop of consoles. That           Cutscenes and plot aside, Zero Gravity’s      ‘Wipeout’ and the combat struggles to
FORMAT REVIEWED   gamers the world over would like to see      success or failure rests on its ability to    replicate the slapstick humour of
PlayStation 2     the blue spiky one hit his stride again is   thrill, and unfortunately this is where       ‘Mariokart’. The vague trick system adds
                  undeniable, so it’s far from encouraging     Sonic’s hoverboard ploughs into the dirt      little to the experience, and smacks of a
OTHER FORMATS                                                                                                developer simply ticking boxes.
                  that his latest Playstation 2 outing sees    all too quickly. Borrowing liberally from
Wii               him (yet again) scooting into view on a      ‘Mario Kart’, ‘SSX’ and ‘Wipeout’, it would
                  hoverboard…Sigh.                             seem to be a title with a solid grounding,
PUBLISHER
                                                               even without attempting to win any prizes
SEGA              Sonic the Hedgehog has always been           for originality. However, where those
                  about speed. You don’t buy a Sonic game      titles excelled through pin-point controls,
DEVELOPER
                  for brain wrenching puzzles or complex       engaging level design and genuine verve,
Sonic Team UGA    combat. You buy a Sonic game because         Zero Gravity barely even gets the key in
REVIEWED BY       you want to run fast through lush            the ignition.
                  environments while marvelling at azure
Simeon Paskell    skies. It is understandable that SEGA
                  thought a racing game would be a perfect
                  occupation for Sonic and chums to
                  while-away their twilight years, but the
                  lukewarm reception its predecessor
                  received means that Zero Gravity has
                  everything to prove.

                  As has become the norm for Sonic titles,
                  Zero Gravity opens with an ambitious and
                  unquestionably good-looking CGI
47                                                                                                                   REVIEWS




In some respects its lack of pace could be seen as a      such as the Gravity Drift (which sees your character
blessing, as the controls lack the fluency and            enter a pseudo bullet-time to help take particularly
intuitiveness to carry Sonic around the twists and        tight corners) show promise, but even this is poorly
turns of the tracks with any kind of grace. Add to this   executed.
the uninspired track design, and you are left with a
racer that underperforms in nearly every aspect.          Once the single player mode has been exhausted
                                                          (which ultimately doesn’t take long), Zero Gravity
There are saving graces. The trademark                    attempts to retain your attention through its upgrade
eye-melting Sega visuals are in place, and aestheti-      system and multi-player modes. A range of new
cally the game has a spark that is lacking in its         boards are available but their impact is minimal at
gameplay. The Botanical Kingdom is a particular           best. Similarly, the three multiplayer modes (Free
highlight, with curling plant tendrils contrasting        Race, World Grand Prix and Survival) are lacklustre
against the electric blue sky. Additional touches         in their attempt to wring out more enjoyment,
                                                          adding very little flesh to the skeleton of the core
                                                          game.

                                                          Despite Sonic the Hedgehog’s (now somewhat
                                                          tainted) heritage, it is hard not to see Zero Gravity as
                                                          anything other than a pretty but vacuous cash-in.
                                                          The classic chime that accompanies ring collection
                                                          is enough to make you yearn for past glories, but
                                                          nostalgia alone is not enough to carry a game as
                                                          poorly executed as this. One of the power-ups sees
                                                          Sonic and co. shedding their hoverboards and
                                                          breaking into a sprint and, for a brief moment, you
                                                          get a fleeting glimpse of what a Sonic the Hedgehog
                                                          game should be. However, the stark truth is that
                                                          Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity merely supplies yet more
                                                          evidence that Sonic needs to shed the excess
                                                          baggage and get back to his day job (if only he could
                                                          remember what that was…).


                                                                        VERDICT
48                                                                                                      REVIEWS




                APOLLO JUSTICE
                You and your 'objections' and your 'evidence'! You don’t know anything!




                ACE ATTORNEY
                T
                         he trouble with so-called          As a supposed new era it is worrying that
                         “cult” videogames is that          Capcom felt they had to turn this entire
                         once they have given gamers        title into an overarching Phoenix Wright
                         that cherished piece of            storyline. Not only that, but our beloved
                quirky originality, they begin to milk      Phoenix has undergone a severe
                the formula for all its worth, knowing      personality change - his “bad-ass”
                the loyalty of their fan base will repel    attitude and lack of warmth conflicting
                any message board attacks. As the           with his earlier persona. Couple that
                first non-GBA port of the Ace Attorney      with the fact that the new additions,
                series, complete with a new title           Trucy, sidekick foil for Apollo and near
FORMAT
                character, gameplay innovations and         identical to PW’s Maya, and meek
DS              redrawn environments, has Apollo            prosecutor Klavier are so under-
                Justice managed to defeat the               whelming that the only real enjoyment
PUBLISHER
                Capcom formula of flogging a dead           comes when Phoenix Wright stalwarts
Capcom          horse?                                      enter the fray.
DEVELOPER
                The sad truth is that for anyone who        Which begs another question; by
Capcom          enjoyed that final, DS-only case in the     including Phoenix to such an extent,
                original Phoenix Wright and wondered        surely Capcom knew that much-loved
REVIEWED BY
                just where Capcom’s imaginations            series staples like Detective
Emmet Purcell   would lead in the years since release,      Gumshoe and the Fey’s would be
                the answer is not nearly as far enough      sorely missed? Should their
                as your own. In fact, Apollo Justice        storylines be wrapped up in the
                relies so much on the goodwill of fans      second Apollo Justice? And when
                of earlier titles that the developers not   does Apollo Justice actually
                only had little trust in their gameplay     begin this era, free from
                innovations (some of which appear           intrusion? Clearly, a lot of
                twice before disappearing), but also no     poor choices have been
                trust whatsoever in their title charac-     made in the “rebooting”
                ter. It may say “Apollo Justice” on the     of this particular
                box but make no mistake; this is yet        series.
                again the Phoenix Wright show.
49                                                  REVIEWS




     If we sound overly-callous it’s because the
     Ace Attorney titles are essentially an
     interactive storybook for fans, and as
     such the excellent writing instils brand
     loyalty and character fandom not often
     found in rival franchises. With the
     prospect of an entirely new trilogy,
     Capcom appear to have caved into fans
     demands for more of the same. For
     discerning fans like ourselves however,
     we expect more of the unknown and more
     than a game that still looks like
     and plays
     like a GBA
     port, particu-
     larly given the
     length of time
     granted to the
     development team to
     cook up original content.


     Despite these misgivings, Apollo Justice
     is still a fine title and one any fan of the
     series should (and will) sample for
     themselves. The dialogue is as sharp as
     ever and despite a worrying side-story
     about 15 year old Trucy’s “panties”, the
     cases themselves are spot on; the final
     case in particular pointing towards a likely
     continuation of the courtroom innovation.
     As such, the “more of the same” of Apollo
     Justice is as satisfying as ever, but those
     craving a more ambitious take on the
     Attorney series will be left bitterly
     disappointed.

        VERDICT
50                                                                                                               REVIEWS
                     Induction then destruction

                     BATTALION WARS 2
                     C
                              hristmas 2005 - a time of            It’s a baffling inclusion, especially
                              next-gen debuts, handheld            considering Battalion Wars likes to think
                              Grand Theft Auto and the first       of itself as a strategy action title. The
                              time gamers got to be virtual        respawns eliminate any desire for tactical
                     guitar-playing heroes. But unphased by        play, simply encouraging an all-out
                     this period of excitement and anticipa-       uneducated approach. After all, if you do
                     tion, Nintendo’s Advance Wars spinoff         lose that all-important tank, no matter;
                     Battalion Wars came storming onto the         another will respawn in a few seconds.
                     GameCube; unapologetic for its brash,
                     vibrant take on the third person action       It’s a shame, because even though it’s
                     genre.                                        hard not to raise a smile when firing out
                                                                   shells left, right and centre, the slow,
                     Sitting down with BW’s sequel for the first   considered approach is undeniably the
FORMAT               time, you’d be forgiven for checking the      more enjoyable option. The only remain-
                     calendar to make sure we really are in        ing reason to take your time is to achieve
Wii
                     2008. As with the original, each mission      an S-Rank rating in order to reveal
PUBLISHER            provides the player with a small battalion    hidden extras, but even that can prove
Nintendo             with which to complete a number of            testing. At numerous points completing
                     objectives, usually culminating in the        an objective requires a certain unit to be
DEVELOPER            capture of an enemy HQ. In addition to        kept alive. This in itself is easy enough,
Kuju Entertainment   ground and air units, we are now given        until inexplicably towards the end of a
                     access to a naval fleet, throwing             mission, the wrath of the Almighty rains
REVIEWED BY          battleships, frigates and submarines into     down on this one unit, duly obliterating it
Rhys Simons          the combat mix. However, unlike the           (and the entire mission) in a swift and
                     strategic variation we expected, naval        unexpected assault. When care and
                     combat fails to provide a sufficiently        attention has been taken to achieve that
                     different feel during battle - the entire     all-important S-Rank, coupled with the
                     fleet merely acting as tanks on water.        complete lack of in-mission checkpoints,
                                                                   to call BWii infuriating would be some-
                     In an attempt to move closer to               thing of an understatement.
                     the prestigious Advance Wars
                     series you can now comman-
                     deer enemy bases. Presum-
                     ably, this was in an attempt to
                     add an element of tactical
                     depth, but, unfortunately, has
                     achieved the opposite effect.
                     Instead of allowing the player
                     to choose which units to build
                     at will, each unit automatically
                     respawns at their appropriate
                     construction.
51                                                                   REVIEWS
     Another patience-tester passed over from      But ultimately, BWii really is the same
     the original is the horrendous camera         war, making the same mistakes and
     positioning, seemingly never allowing the     picking up a few new ones along the way.
     player to see everything they’d like.         If you were a fan of the original or are
     Somewhat bizarrely however, none of           looking for a shallow but entertaining
     these flaws ultimately break the game’s       distraction, Battalion Wars 2 could well
     endearing spirit. With only seventeen         be your game. If, however, you’d like
     short missions available the game is over     something much more tactical, you’re
     before it really starts to grate, but it’s    still better off with a war of the advanced
     deplorable these issues weren’t rectified     variety.
     between titles, only acting to make BWii
     feel like a two year old GameCube title
     dressed up in a Wii frock.
                                                     VERDICT
     Something positive to come out of the Wii
     iteration though is the natural control
     overhaul and, thankfully, BWii can sit
     proudly in that exclusive collection of
     games that can honestly say have
     benefited from Nintendo’s new control
     scheme. Pointer functionality has
     achieved the most in alleviating control
     issues from the original; taking out
     enemies through pointing and shooting
     now delightfully simple. Ordering troops
     around the battlefield has also been
     streamlined and fitted to the d-pad,
     allowing you to scroll effortlessly through
     your individual units.

     Battalion Wars 2 still has the capacity to
     be a whole lot of fun, and the inclusion of
     the Wii’s best online mode to date shows
     what great potential the series has.
52                                                                                                                       REVIEWS


                    SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS
                    And you can tell they're all the same underneath the pretty lights. Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?




                    W
                                   e wouldn’t normally begin by      the practice mini-games from the earlier
                                   mentioning achievements, but      Virtua Tennis’, challenges are made up of a
                                   as SEGA Superstars Tennis is      combination of mediocre tasks themed around
                                   host to some of the most          each stage. However, unlike VT where playing
                    ingenious titles ever devised it would be        mini-games meant gaining experience and
                    somewhat of an injustice for them to go          improving your abilities, Challenge mode feels
                    unnoticed. From the After Burner achieve-        more like a means to pad out an otherwise
                    ment for hitting a 100mph serve, the OutRun      limited game. While many missions are
                    achievement for running 6km, or the SEGA         obvious filler - the glut of games and tourna-
                    Rally achievement for a 40 shot rally, Sumo      ments that flood certain courts reinforcing that
                    Digital’s intention of creating an inspired      notion - others are inventive recreations of
                    homage to one of gaming’s greatest               classic SEGA titles; the bubble bursting
                    contributors is clear from the off.              gameplay of Puyo Pop and the opening
FORMAT REVIEWED                                                      mission to Virtua Cop (sorry, Virtua Squad)
                    And that intention becomes even clearer          recreated perfectly within the context.
Xbox 360
                    beyond the lovingly-created opening FMV;
OTHER FORMATS       SEGA’s trademark blue skies and blissfully       Much more fun comes from trying out each
                    nostalgic sound and music each falling into      character and their respective courts. Each
PS3, PS2, Wii, DS
                    place alongside the memorable characters.        character falls into a subcategory of speed,
PUBLISHER           As self-admitted SEGA fans, Superstars is to     power, spin or all-rounder, with every one of
                    some extent, a dream come true.                  them bringing their own personality and
SEGA                                                                 unique special ability into the game. But of the
DEVELOPER           Built on the excellent Virtua Tennis engine,     sixteen available, quite why we’re given
                    Superstars’ mechanics are solid, albeit          lesser-known Gum and Pudding to play as
Sumo Digital        simplified. Each court is inspired by SEGA       rather than other unduly missing SEGA
REVIEWED BY         games of past and present, and whether it be     favourites is something of a mystery. Some-
                    Sonic’s iconic Green Hill Zone, Ulala’s Space    thing to look forward to in the inevitable sequel
David Scammell      Station, or the courtyard of House of the        perhaps?
                    Dead’s “Curien Mansion”, there’s something
                    instantly endearing about each one. We dare      It’s hard not to view SEGA Superstars Tennis
                    anyone not to raise a smile during Samba de      as anything other than a novelty. But while
                    Amigo’s delightfully charming Mexican stage,     many would expect the charm of Superstars to
                    complete with the instantly recognisable         be a superficial method of covering up a
                    Samba de Janeiro playing in the background.      sub-par tennis experience, with the admirable
                                                                     VT framework behind it, that’s simply not the
                    But where Sumo Digital does so well in           case. It might not have the lasting appeal that
                    capturing the essence of SEGA, it loses by not   other titles in the genre boast, but as an
                    knowing what to do with the task at hand.        affable jaunt of all things SEGA, Superstars
                    Alongside a typical Tournament mode and the      Tennis is a worthy package for any long-term
                    obligatory online and offline multiplayer        fan.
                    options lies Challenge mode, consisting of a
                    series of standard games and missions.
                    Showing more than a passing resemblance to           VERDICT
53                                                                                                                                                                   REVIEWS
                  A warrior acts as if he knows what he is doing, when in effect he knows nothing

                  DYNASTY WARRIORS 6
                  ‘A
                               change is as good as a rest’, or   in many ways DW6 delivers. Leaping into
                               so the saying goes. What then,     the air to rain death on the unfortunate foot
                               for the Dynasty Warriors, a        soldiers at your feet, sending them
                               series that has changed little     scattering like rag dolls in a hurricane in
                  from one instalment to the next? Although       the process, it is easy to feel the power
                  massively successful in their native Japan,     wielded by your chosen general surging
                  Dynasty Warriors titles have been               through your SIXAXIS. The ebb and flow of
       Ubisoft
                  criticised for their lack of progression,       the overall battle can also be engaging, and
                  poor AI and repetitive gameplay. For those      your role as both spearhead and tactician
                  of us not already won over by its curious,      is at times palpable.
                  somewhat flawed charms, it is a series
FORMAT REVIEWED   whose success can be hard to understand.        As immersive as these factors can be, the         Similarly neglected is the AI. After
                  However, developer Koei knows its               more time you spend with DW6, the more            single-handedly wiping out all but a few
PlayStation 3
                  audience, and feels perfectly comfortable       difficult it is to forgive its shortcomings.      soldiers, to see the remaining survivors
OTHER FORMATS     releasing the sixth in the series with very     Resident Evil 4 is living (or should that be      stand motionless, barely registering your
Xbox 360
                  few adjustments having been made.               ‘undead’) proof of the rewards that can be        existence can all but destroy any sense of
                                                                  reaped by breaking away from a stale              realism. Although it does serve to
PUBLISHER         So, DW6 is very much business as usual.         format, but the best that DW6 can offer is        emphasise the prowess of your character,
Koei              Serving up lashings of tactical warfare         the ability to swim and climb ladders.            the frustratingly lifeless automatons that
                  based on the Chinese historical novel ‘The      Reading like the promotion material for an        serve as enemies (and allies) fall way short
DEVELOPER         Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, players         8-bit era platformer (‘SWIM!’, ‘CLIMB             of expectations. That they can also
                  must slice their way through swathes of         LADDERS!’), the significance and impact of        disappear and re-appear with the panning
Omega Force
                  warriors in order to dominate the battle-       these additions will be lost on all but the       of the camera further breaks the illusion.
REVIEWED BY       field. Where other titles have striven to       most committed ‘Dynasty’ warrior,
Simeon Paskell    expand their boundaries (taking Burnout         especially when all that awaits you at the        Dynasty Warriors 6 will be hailed by
                  Paradise as a prime example), DW6 has           end of your swim or ladder climb is yet           series-fans as another great instalment.
                  little desire to stray from the groundwork      more button-mashing combat…                       Although it does little to take full advan-
                  laid by its predecessors. Although the                                                            tage to the processing power available on
                  PS3’s increased power enables sharper           …And button-mashing combat it surely is.          the current-gen systems, it offers an
                  visuals, faster frame-rates and (even) more     If any game were to give you RSI, it would        experience on par with Dynasty Warriors 5,
                  characters on screen, the game does             be Dynasty Warriors. Although a broader           and walks with the same stubborn, cocky
                  nothing to convert the doubters or upset        range of moves and animations have been           gait that trademarks the series. However,
                  hardened fans. It plays it safe and is no       added, the implementation of the combat           the lack of genuine evolution and an
                  more (or no less) engaging than Dynasty         is still as subtle as putting your fist through   unwillingness to broach the many faults
                  Warriors 5.                                     a window. Pumping the ‘X’ button for all          result in an experience that, yet again, fails
                                                                  you are worth could be seen as mirroring          to fully capture the potential of its core
                  At its core, Dynasty Warrior’ is (and always    the chaos of the on-screen carnage, but it        ideas. Sadly, Dynasty Warriors has found
                  has been) a mouth-watering premise - take       can also prove to be extremely dull. For a        itself in a cul-de-sac, and it desperately
                  to the battlefield as a legendary hero with     game focussed on combat, the fighting             needs to embrace change. Failing that,
                  an army at your side and confront an            mechanic is immensely unsatisfying and            maybe Koei should just give it a rest.
                  enemy horde packed as densely as a field        it’s disappointing that Koei have not taken
                  of wheat, waiting to meet the cold hard         the opportunity to overhaul and refresh this
                  steel on your blade. The sense of empow-
                  erment from this idea alone is dizzying and
                                                                  aspect of the game.
                                                                                                                       VERDICT
54                                                                                                                                                                                  REVIEWS



                    CONFLICT: DENIED OPS
                    Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional




                    W
                                  hen it comes to FPS’s,             controls and the most typical outcome -
                                  there’s something particu-         drive said tank through a particular area,
                                  larly fun and exhilarating         shoot a couple of other tanks, then get out
                                  about teaming up with a            when you reach a pile of impassable
                    friend or competent bot and blasting away        rubble.
                    at the enemy together. And with two
                    characters that have such different roles;       Playing alone, your AI teammate works
                    Graves; a sniper, and Lang, the                  well for the most part (not including the
                    stereotypical close up combat/heavy              irritating comments they spout or cliched
                    weapons guy, Denied Ops’ prospects for           chats you endure at the start of levels).
                    good teamwork and making use of each             Should you die he’ll come running to your
FORMAT REVIEWED     character’s specific skill sets could be         aid in order to revive you - and that doesn’t
                    great.                                           mean blindly wandering through gunfire to
PlayStation 3
                                                                     his death, he’ll shoot his way through and
OTHER FORMATS       Unfortunately, if you’re going to play           clear the area for you to get back up.
360, PC             co-operatively together via split screen         Alternatively you can switch instantly with a
                    there isn’t an option to split the screen        nice level fly through to the other character
PUBLISHER           horizontally. That’s fine if you have a          and come to your own aid within a time
Eidos Interactive   particularly large widescreen TV to share,       limit.
                    but since most of the combat takes place
DEVELOPER           on a level plane in front of you - rather than   Graves’ sniper rifle feels somewhat of a        mission to take on next. The
                    a long way above or below – it’s a definite      letdown, with a seemingly deliberate level      bane of being forced to work
Pivotal Games
                    setback, making the gameplay unneces-            of inaccuracy put in place to promote a         as a team is dealt with well,
REVIEWED BY         sarily awkward for any gamers playing on a       sense of realism. In reality it’s just plain    with hardly any case of your
Emily Knox          4:3 set. A strange problem to encounter for      frustrating and can make lining up the          partner getting stuck round
                    a game promoted for its co-operative play.       perfect headshot pointless, especially          corners and left behind.
                                                                     when a perfectly good shot to the neck only     Even the annoyance of them
                    Graphically the game is a letdown, barely        knocks the enemy back temporarily.              dying is a rare occurrence
                    looking like any step from the PS2 to PS3        Graves’ health is delicate so it’s important    as they tend to hang back a
                    has been made at all with blocky character       for him to stay back and pick people off,       little behind you, but still
                    models and unappealing outdoor areas.            making Lang the preferable choice with his      keeping a good enough input to gun down         While there’s a certain element of fun
                    Each level is littered with generic exploding    tank-like qualities.                            some bad guys.                                  to be had, the restrictive gameplay,
                    barrels and canisters, along with an                                                                                                             underwhelming graphics and poor
                    endless stream of identical soldiers to gun      Thankfully the game considerably                It’s just a shame that the levels (for the      design choices each do nothing to add
                    down. The action is broken up by pressing        improves as you progress. After a tragically    most part at least) are as repetitive and       to an experience that is sorely lacking.
                    the odd button to stop an alarm or hack a        dull opening level with some of the most        linear as they are. Shooting bad guys and       And with far more polished FPS games
                    computer, or by a vehicle section. While         atrociously overpowering and irritating         reaching a button only offers a certain         already available, Denied Ops simply
                    driving around blasting things from a tank       music we’ve heard in recent years, you’ll       amount of fun before starting to grate, and     isn’t worth parting with your cash for.
                    ought to be great fun, like the aforemen-        be rewarded with better weapons and             despite its few highlights you’ll soon lose
                                                                                                                     interest in the simple and forgettable story.
                    tioned teamwork, it’s let down by difficult      upgrades, as well as the choice of which
                                                                                                                                                                      VERDICT
55                                                                                                                                                              REVIEWS



               ASSASSIN’S CREED
               Give me names, I’ll give you blood




               ALTAIR’S CHRONICLES
               L
                        aunching amidst much fanfare         drawing on Altair’s skill at free-running          mercilessly murdering you it can be a fairly
                        late last year, Assassin’s Creed     across rooftops. Marked as a direct prequel        fun, if incredibly basic experience.
                        was a game that had players and      to the events in AC, it seems that before we       Occasionally there are flashes of what
                        critics alike split down the         joined Altair for the first time in the Arabian    could and should be done in a game of this
               middle. Whatever camp you were in,            cities, they were lined with vicious traps.        genre; a fleet-footed dash across the
     Ubisoft   Ubisoft’s introduction of Altair demanded     Spike pits, falling blades and swinging            environment while under attack from the
               an opinion. However, one thing that           boulders all vie to stop Altair in his path,       Templars’ catapults one particular
               couldn’t be denied by even its biggest        presumably put there by those pesky                highlight. Combat is also fairly assured, if
               detractors was that Assassin’s Creed was      Templars. It’s all rather old-fashioned and        somewhat rudimentary. You tap X and Y to
FORMAT         a gorgeous game. Its Kingdom was an           a cliched retread of platformers past, right       perform simple sword combos, and R to
DS             immersive world that came to life             down to the arbitrary ‘push block onto             block and parry. It works well enough, but
               particularly while Altair was in              pressure pad to open door’ puzzles. While          is crying out for a lock-on system, as often
PUBLISHER      free-running flight over the beautiful,       this isn’t necessarily a criticism in itself, to   you find yourself slashing into thin air.
Ubisoft        sun-baked cities.                             get away with such lack of originality the         Other weapons such as throwing knives
                                                             paths you must traverse should be                  are introduced throughout the game, but
DEVELOPER      It is perhaps surprising then, that Ubisoft   well-designed and enjoyable to tackle. For         tend to be used for the odd puzzle before
Ubisoft        have chosen Nintendo’s graphically modest     the most part this just isn’t the case,            being forgotten. And of course, no DS
               handheld for the next game in the Creed       mainly due to Chronicles committing one            game would be complete without the
REVIEWED BY    canon. Unfortunately, the stretch shows.      of gaming’s cardinal sins- killing you             perfunctory use of the touchscreen.
Tom Hoggins    Gameloft have made a valiant attempt at       through bad design.                                Chronicles uses it for pickpocketing and
               re-creating the likes of Damascus and                                                            interrogation, which are straight rip-offs of
               Jerusalem in Altair’s Chronicles, retaining   You will die in Altair’s Chronicles, you will      Operation and Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents
               the colour-coded sheen that each city         die a lot, and most of the time it isn’t even      respectively. They work well enough, but
               received in the home console version, but     your fault. The aforementioned sense of            come across as afterthoughts.
               the result is ropey to say the least.         depth (or lack thereof) will lead you to
               Characters are disjointed slips of colour     jumping for ledges that aren’t where you’d         Which sums up Altair’s Chronicles fairly
               and the environment manages to clash          expect; you fall and die. The                      well - an afterthought. It’s not an
               with itself, with unclear edges and a         (non-adjustable) camera is often                   egregiously awful game by any means;
               confusing sense of depth. This is             positioned in such a way that you can’t see        combat is competent and at its best the
               disappointing enough from an aesthetic        what is ahead of you, necessitating a leap         platforming can be fairly enjoyable. But
               standpoint, but when the visuals impede on    of faith; you fall and die. Collision detection    some glaring fundamental flaws coupled
               the game itself (more on which later) we      is wildly inconsistent, creeping past pipes        with the fact that the meagre story on offer
               know that Chronicles is in trouble.           that billow great gushes of water, you think       adds nothing to the Assassin’s Creed lore
                                                             you’re giving them a wide berth when               whatsoever drags it below mediocrity.
               Sensibly, there is no attempt at converting   suddenly you’re propelled across the               Which, ultimately, makes it something of a
               Creed’s ‘social-stealth’ third-person         screen and... you guessed it... you fall and       pointless venture.
               gameplay to the DS. Instead, Chronicles is    die. It’s massively, massively irritating. It’s
               a straight-up isometric platformer,           also a shame, as when Chronicles isn’t
                                                                                                                  VERDICT
56                                                                                                                                                                REVIEWS




                PROFESSOR LAYTON
                Professors muddled in their intent, to try to rope in followers to float their malcontent




                AND THE CURIOUS VILLAGE
                W
                               ith his ubiquitous top hat       A point and click adventure at heart, Layton      often than not, the puzzles themselves have
                               and gentlemanly manner,          could more commonly be described as               no bearing on the plot or occur in such
                               Professor Layton is a video      “Brain Training with a storyline”. And what       haphazard situations (after a man’s brother
                               games character that fits        a fine storyline it is, with a particular third   has been kidnapped, he immediately
                the Sherlock Holmes archetype perfectly.        act twist that caught this reviewer               decides to ask you to help out with a puzzle)
                Yet Layton is not only adept at solving         blind-sided. Each of the characters are           that the balance of puzzles/storyline
                crimes; for his first Western adventure         also characterised in such a manner as to         becomes severely deficient. Bringing
                it’s puzzles that instead need solving. Oh      make the gamer not only interested in             together puzzle and point and click fans
                sure, there’s still a mysterious inherit-       returning for another puzzle, but also            under the DS umbrella is a masterstroke of
FORMAT          ance dispute to be solved, but the bulk of      hoping to be enraptured with the villagers        game design from Level 5, yet some
DS
                the gameplay consists of nearly every           wild stories and escapades.                       fine-tuning could have left both groups
                in-game villager handing our hero and                                                             equally pleased.
PUBLISHER       his young sidekick Luke (the Slippy Toad        Ah but those puzzles, puzzles, puzzles. No
                of DS voice-acting) with a variety of           matter how much one can wax lyrical               As the beginning of a franchise (the
Nintendo
                random, taxing puzzles, from illusions to       about the art style or characterisation of        Japanese are rapturously awaiting
DEVELOPER       trick questions and ball-puzzle combina-        Professor Layton, one’s enjoyment will            the third instalment), Professor
                tions. Indeed, this is a most curious           undoubtedly come down to what they take           Layton and the Curious Village is
Level 5
                village, and well worth a visit.                from the game’s main feature – puzzles.           a game sure to win over the
REVIEWED BY                                                     Layton has so many puzzles (120, not              hearts of as many Western fans as it
Emmet Purcell   With a charming French art style, most          including weekly downloadables) that              already holds in the East. It may have
                reminiscent of the 2003 animation Les De        some don’t even take place in the main            the most irritating video game sidekick
                Triplettes de Belleville, Layton’s              game, and must be unlocked upon solving           since Sonic’s Tails, but grit your teeth and
                old-European sensibilities seem at odds         completely separate in-game puzzles               you’ll find puzzles that make you feel
                with most Japanese developers’ ideals. Yet      found when the title is on pause. Puzzled?        smarter and a plot that makes you feel like
                the intriguing style fits this title’s unique   You will be.                                      an idiot for not paying attention once that
                atmosphere like a glove. With tremendous                                                          big third act twist occurs. Rest assured that
                full-motion video cut scenes, voice acting      And ultimately it’s this fierce reliance on       when Professor Layton and the Devil’s Box
                and downloadable weekly puzzles, this is a      puzzles that is Layton’s one undoing. The         arrives hopefully at the end of the year,
                title that seeks to overload gamers with a      title’s mystery storyline is one that DS          there will be a top hat-wearing army of
                myriad of puzzles and secrets for its           adventure fans will want to quickly follow        enthusiasts ready to sample another
                substantial (10 hours+) single player           up on, in the style of Hotel Dusk or Phoenix      chapter of the DS’s next adventure success
                mode.                                           Wright’s episodic-paced stories. Yet more         story.

                                                                                                                     VERDICT
57                                                                                                                                                     REVIEWS




                 BLEACH:
                 Spirits are always with you




                 SHATTERED BLADE
                 I
                      chigo Kurosaki and the cast of Bleach      players must be aware of their stamina and       mode, but some also need unlocking
                      are clashing Zanpak-to in this             Bankai bar. Once filled, a shake of the          via the numerous episodes. The
                      cel-shaded fighter for Wii. Set            nunchuk activates the Bankai making your         characters all play how you may
                      immediately after the Soul Society         character stronger, faster or able to            expect, with differing styles
                 arc, Shattered Blade is based around a          summon a buddy.                                  depending on their abilities.
                 game-exclusive episode of the exciting                                                           Ishida and Orihime work
                 story.                                          Another gameplay mechanic is the                 better at range whilst
                                                                 inclusion of a mid-battle minigame event         Kenpatchi favours close-
                 However, what this ultimately means is          as players clash blades, although much           quarters battle. The most
                 that the game has no bearing on the events      like the core fighting this simply comes         outlandish play style is
                 from the anime series. In order to solve        down to swinging the Wii-mote at the             awarded to Hanataro
                 their personal problems each character is       correct time. The direction you swing            whose sword attacks heal
                 told to collect Sokyoku shards, giving          determines the type of attack and its            his opponents, making
FORMAT           leeway to the random battles between the        strength against your opponent's attack,         him difficult to play with.
                 characters fighting over the elusive shards.    who simultaneously does the same. After
Wii
                 Ultimately, collection of the shards            five rounds of this rock-paper-scissors          Bleach: Shattered Blade
PUBLISHER        releases a hollow, a game exclusive             mechanic, the winner is determined and           can have its moments of
                 arrancar, which the player must defeat to       the damage is dealt to the appropriate           both fun and frustration,
SEGA
                 win.                                            player. It doesn't occur too often in battles,   and fans will enjoy acting out
DEVELOPER                                                        and thankfully so given its tedium and           duels from the series on their
                 The story is told via a series of stills with   ineptitude. Some swings don't register           Wii. But there’s nothing on offer
Polygon Magic
                 the occasional in-game conversation,            properly - a horizontal swipe may be read        here for anyone unfamiliar with
REVIEWED BY      complete with wholly inaccurate lip-sync.       as a vertical swing, doubly irritating when it   Bleach, which by our reckoning,
                 Voice acting is woeful and as expected, the     causes you to lose the round. The same           is probably most of you.
Richard Rohani
                 entire game is voiced by the inferior           problem is also present during the
                 English cast with no option to switch to the    standard fighting, often resulting in
                 original (and superior) Japanese voiceo-        performing a different attack to the one you
                 vers.                                           wanted. In a game where control over your
                                                                 character’s movement is paramount, poor           VERDICT
                 The one-on-one fighting is fairly straight-     precision clearly isn’t acceptable.
                 forward. Swinging the Wii Remote
                 unleashes a flurry of fast swipes, and          Shattered Blade does offer a wealth of
                 holding down A at the same performs a           characters to play as, and it will take some
                 strong attack and B for a special attack. As    time to unlock them all. Most characters
                 well as concentrating on their fighting,        become unlocked after beating arcade
58                                                                                                                                                                                         REVIEWS

                                UNREAL                                                                                PRO EVOLUTION
                TOURNAMENT 3                                                                                                  SOCCER 2008
FORMAT                                                                                                       FORMAT

PlayStation 3                                                                                                PSP

PUBLISHER                                                                                                    PUBLISHER

Midway                                                                                                       Konami

DEVELOPER                                                                                                    DEVELOPER

Epic Games                                                                                                   Konami

REVIEWED BY                                                                                                  REVIEWED BY

Tom Hoggins                                                                                                  Tom Hoggins




A                                                                                                            R
          fter being exclusive to PC for just a few    train you for the real meat of the game.                       egular readers will remember that we           these two versions of PES you can transfer your
          short months, Epic brings its macho,         Therefore it’s a good job that UT3’s outstanding               weren’t too enamoured with PES 2008            Master League data to your PSP and back
          sci-fi FPS to consoles. And the good         online multiplayer runs nigh-on perfectly over                 when it hit the new-generation of              again, allowing you to take your quest for
news is that little has been lost in translation to    PSN. Matches are easy to set-up and you are           consoles last October, feeling it was a further         silverware on the road whenever you like. The
the PS3. For all the problems Sony’s machine           able to jump into a game in the blink of an eye,      stagnation of a once great series - particularly in     World Tour mode is an entertaining sideshow
seems to have with the Unreal Engine, UT3’s            keeping up with the game’s ethos of non-stop          the light of the excellent FIFA 08 which                that harks back to the superb ‘Scenario’ mode
breakneck, frantic blasting runs smooth as silk        carnage. Of all the games we tested there was         embraced the new tech superbly.                         on Konami’s ISS games. Setting you the task of
and looks terrific. The grimy sci-fi arenas and        barely any lag detected and matches would play                                                                travelling the globe with a team of your choice
burly character models all glisten, full of detail.    out to their bitter end. The lack of cross-game       While the new PSP version is hardly a huge leap         to face off against various nations, you must
The odd case of texture pop-in can jar, but when       invites is still something of an albatross for PSN,   forward either (being based on the PS2 engine),         adhere to some set rules and victory param-
the game looks as good as it does running without      but it’s the only moan we could possibly have         the handheld version manages to remind us why           eters. Unfortunately, there is still no option to
the hint of a framerate chug, it would be churlish     about UT3’s component. The maps are superbly          we loved PES in the first place. The responsive-        play online over the PSP infrastructure, which
to complain too heartily.                              laid out and not without a few sprinklings of         ness of the PSP controls seems to have been             seems a glaring omission.
                                                       innovation either. And the ‘War’ matchtype            refined. Therefore the zippy, enjoyable game of
The PS3’s controller also handles the fast-paced       where teams must control ‘nodes’ across the           football that is PES’s staple is far more comfort-      It is perhaps slightly damning that PES 2008
shooting remarkably well. While the spongy             map before destroying their opponent’s ‘core’ is      able to play than previous iterations, though still a   feels so much more at home on the less
analogue sticks may not quite give you the degree      one of the finest new modes in online                 little awkward due to the PSP’s slightly cramped        advanced technology. But that is an issue to be
of accuracy of the 360 controller or keyboard and      multiplayer.                                          layout. The odd framerate dip mars proceedings,         resolved in next year’s inevitable home-console
mouse - with which the PS3 game is compatible -                                                              but overall the on-pitch experience is classic PES      release and players looking for that PES magic
the aiming is more than competent and the button       UT3 is still a PC FPS at heart; but Epic has          that has translated well to the small screen.           right now would do well to go with the
layout is thoughtful and intuitive.                    brought its behemoth to the PS3 with skill and                                                                feature-packed PSP version. It’s comfortably
                                                       finesse that’s difficult to ignore. While solo play   Master League is present and correct, as is a           the best handheld PES yet, and arguably the
The game’s campaign is essentially a series of         leaves much to be desired, the fantastic              fully-fledged edit mode, but the most interesting       finest sports game on the console.
multiplayer matches dressed up with impressive         multiplayer means the Unreal Tournament is            additions to the PSP is the PS2-exclusive World
narrative cut-scenes. It’s a decent enough             still one well worth participating in, whatever       Tour mode and impressive connectivity between
distraction, but serves little purpose other than to   your platform of choice.                              your handheld and your PS2. Should you own

                                                                 VERDICT                                                                                                      VERDICT
59                                                                                                                                                                                        DOWNLOAD




N+                                                                           DARK MIST                                                                KIRBY 64: THE CRYSTAL SHARDS
Network: Xbox LIVE Arcade                                                    Network: PlayStation Network                                             Network: Virtual Console
Price: 800 MS Points                                                         Price: £TBA/$TBA                                                         Price: 1000 Wii Points




At times during N+ as you guide your miniature ninja across a slew of        Following our gallant heroine Artemis on a quest to rid the world        Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards was one of the N64’s dying puffs - a pink
ingenious, yet nigh-on sadistic levels, even the calmest of players          from darkness, Dark Mist plunges us into the twin-stick shooting         floaty puff that attempted to strut its way into our hearts. As a 2D
will have to swallow expletives that would turn the air bluer than the       dungeons of “the blue planet”. Besides fending off numerous              platformer set in a 3D environment, anyone accustomed to Kirby’s
deep sea itself. Yet the game is as difficult to put down as it is to        charming foes and screen-filling bosses, the titular mist regularly      unique skills will know the series’ hook – sucking up enemies and
succeed at. The simple premise of guiding your ninja to an exit - via a      crops up to slow down the action, reducing our heroine’s line of sight   absorbing their powers. In this outing Kirby can combine two
button to open the door - is incredibly addictive due to the lithe,          and concealing walkways, enemies and hidden items. Without               different abilities to provide forty different attack combinations.
acrobatic ninja skills that your tiny ‘stickman’ displays. There’s even      having to rely on cat-like reactions to progress, Dark Mist can be a     Seeking out and testing each of these is the games main draw as
a layer of strategy, due to the yellow collectables that add to your         much more tranquil shooter than other games of its ilk, but still        sadly, seven years on, the game‘s ridiculously basic platforming
time limit - do you head straight for the exit, or risk yourself to extend   manages to retain the madcap ‘must-try-harder’ gameplay the              hasn’t aged well.
your ever decreasing time?                                                   genre is famed for.
                                                                                                                                                      Things are mixed up with the odd vehicle section and boss fight, but
Our biggest gripe (aside from flying controllers and broken windows)         Perhaps the most visually impressive title available on the network,     only offer a small distraction from the main game. A collection of
is being unable to save while in the middle of an episode, as having to      the top-down, cel-shaded graphics lend themselves well to the            minigames are also available to play, though on a platform filled to
repeat levels to get to that spitefully difficult fourth stage is not good   action at hand, showing more than a fleeting nod towards Link‘s          bursting with them, you won’t find much use for them beyond a
for our calm. However, a combination of gameplay that is genius in           latest. With only a dozen levels, Dark Mist may be short (and thank-     curious peak.
its simplicity and levels that are brilliant in their complexity mean        fully so, given the lack of mid-game saves), but Game Republic’s
that N+ is one of the best original titles available on the marketplace.     laudable take on the popular genre is enough to keep anyone coming       Ultimately, Kirby 64 just isn’t worth the high admission price, and
As long as you can keep your temper, that is.                                back to it time after time, and deserving of a place in every PSN        only fans of the series or those looking to brush up on their King
                                                                             user’s collection when it launches later this month.                     Dede knowledge before Super Smash Bros. need apply.


                               VERDICT                                                                    VERDICT                                                                  VERDICT
60



PREMIUM CONTENTMENT?
Each month two members of our writing team argue over a particular hot topic from within the world of gaming.
This month we tackle premium downloadable content. Is DLC a great way to expand a game’s lifespan, or an
easy way for publishers to squeeze even more cash out of gamers?

“LIMITED AND PROHIBITIVE” - THE ARGUMENT AGAINST
We’ve lived without it for years. Some          price of the original game, making it        I also worry about the notion of develop-    front of us, meaning they will take no
utterly wonderful titles have come and          poor value for money. How about              ers and publishers deliberately holding      steps to change the price.
gone in that time. Games like Ocarina           Knights of the Nine, the Oblivion ‘expan-    content back because they know they
of Time, Final Fantasy VII and Super            sion’? Around £8 for an infinitesimal        can sell it post-release. Car packs for      Premium content has never been a bad
Mario 64. Yet, with the online boom in          gaming experience is almost verging on       games like PGR 4 and Forza 2 are prime       idea, but in practice it is limited and
the gaming world now in full force,             the ridiculous. Worse still, premium         examples, where sticking those extra         prohibitive. It’s an issue many of us
downloadable content has become                 content doesn’t depreciate as retail         eight cars in the game to start with         probably wouldn’t think about too much
near-essential. Much of it is productive        games do. Sure, maps sometimes               would cause no problem. Yet, they hold       as the cost seems so small by compari-
– demos, trailers and the introduction          become free, but don’t expect the price      back and charge you an extra four            son to retail games. On closer inspec-
of cheaper ‘arcade’ style games have            of premium content like Crackdown’s to       hundred points. Not that much perhaps,       tion however, it is clear; developers
offered gamers more choice than ever            lower over time, when really it should.      but it adds up. Mass Effect too has given    and publishing houses are seizing the
before. The problem, however, comes                                                          just one extra hour (if that) of play for    opportunity to produce content that
from premium content for retail                 In truth, price wouldn’t be a major          the same price with the recent ‘Bring        could, and in some cases should,
games. Are developers sculpting                 problem if you could sell the content on     Down The Sky’ expansion. Many enjoyed        have been put into the game from
mini-masterpieces worthy of our extra           with the game. Not a chance of that          Mass Effect – I myself relished the thirty   the start.
money? Or are they merely holding               happening, though. Nope, it’ll sit on        hours I spent with it – but most would
original content back and charging              your hard drive until you delete it,         agree that, aside from the four main                        Richard Angus
excessive amounts for limited expan-            unplayable once you’ve sold on your          missions, it was a little barren. Surely
sion? Whilst I have tried to believe in         game. Surely there are alternatives?         this extra bit of gameplay would have
the former statement, in most cases,            Shivering Isles released as an expan-        been squeezed into the game should
the truth appears to reflect the latter.        sion pack in physical form to Oblivion,      premium content never have existed?
                                                as well as DLC. Now, that depreciates in     You would certainly think so.
I’ll open with the most contentious point       value and can be sold on. Why then,
regarding premium content – the price.          didn’t they opt to release it first, or at   Let’s think about it. Years before now,
For the most part, it really is pure extor-     the same time as the premium content?        when the PlayStation and the N64 were
tion. Classics such as Gears of War             Simple. Digital distribution is worth        fighting it out, premium content was
would have been in the pipeline for             more. Publishers don’t have to create        non-existent. Despite this, the fantastic
several years, and so paying out the RRP        the physical product and many will be        quests we were taken on with Snake,
for the title is justified. However, whilst I   swayed into pay top whack. So there you      Link and Mario provided more than
garnered hundreds (yes hundreds) of             go – over £20 of your hard earned cash,      enough entertainment for any gamer.
hours of enjoyment from that game, just         sitting on your hard drive. I fail to see    Why then, in an era where even the
a tiny fraction of that came from the four      how an expensive piece of digital data       most committed are struggling to keep
maps I spent 800 points on. It simply           stowed away on my hard drive is in any       up with the stream of expansive, beauti-
wasn’t worth it – the maps were hit and         way more appealing than a cheaper,           ful and creative games of real excel-
miss, not enough people bought them             physical package sitting proudly             lence, are we pining after more? We are
and it cost a substantial chunk of the          amongst my collection.                       paying the prices they are putting in
61
         “IT’S NICE TO HAVE THE CHOICE” - THE ARGUMENT FOR
        Once again I choose the short straw           have extra content, or choose not to. All       immediately repulsed – it begged the                The one thing I will say is that there
       of a D+BATE, one which is almost               right that’s a bit blunt, but a good exam-      question of why it was necessary at all,            must be absolute trust between devel-
      certainly contextual and entirely               ple which comes to mind is PS3 launch           what it added and, if my worst fears of             oper and gamer in the sense that no
     subjective to the type of premium DLC            title MotorStorm.                               DLC being necessary to continue a                   content has been deliberately held back
     in question. At first thought it’s easy to                                                       game’s narrative came true, what it                 from the retail version, only to be milked
     plump for a particular side (and I could         Since release MotorStorm has seen a             would take away. It has now become                  as DLC. The recent variance in Burnout
     guess which one it’s probably going to           plethora of premium DLC ranging from            clear that DLC is not ‘necessary’ in                Paradise’s pre and post-release map is
     be) – but if you can hear what I have to         four new tracks and a time trial mode,          terms of being absolutely crucial to                slightly disconcerting, but we need
     say amongst the cries of “overpriced             to more cosmetic items such as new              complete a game - fears of paying a                 proof that claims of map portions
     maps FTL!”, we can begin to put things           vehicles and paint liveries. MotorStorm         fiver for the right to challenge the                deliberately being cut are true of
     into perspective.                                was the first game to really challenge          game’s final boss being allayed. Price is           course.
                                                      me with a should I or shouldn’t I               a big issue for people, which is obvious
     It appears that one of the most critical         situation, but ultimately it wasn’t so          given the fact that games aren’t exactly            So, premium DLC then. If it gives an
     and commercially successful franchises           hard. Do I like MotorStorm? Yes. Am I           cheap to begin with. But if the content is          extended amount of pleasure from a
     of all time is placing the term ‘DLC’ on         getting rid of the game any time soon?          what people want from a personal                    game at a competitive price then I don’t
     the tips of our tongues more than ever –         No. Do I like the look of the content? A        viewpoint, and if the price is right, then I        see it as a threat to the industry. Expan-
     Grand Theft Auto 4. Given the fact that          new track alongside new vehicles and            see no problem. As I keep pointing out,             sion is nothing new; cut-price expan-
     I’m trying to defend premium DLC here,           single player challenges sounds good to         it’s nice to have the choice.                       sion packs once dominated the charts,
     you can probably guess which version             me. And at £3.49 I’m more than likely to                                                            so can DLC really be classed as
     I’m most looking forward to. But the             get my money’s worth. The result? One           I’m an optimistic kind of guy – certainly           anything other than digital evolution?
     point is this - the concept of ‘choice’ is       purchase of said content, one weekend           no conspiracy theorist by any stretch of            Pretty soon (if XNA and PlayStation
     very important. Microsoft clearly realise        of fun on MotorStorm, and several               the imagination - but I’m also not                  Home have any sort of success at least)
      it (they should do, given the $50               hours worth of online madness. So, the          narrow minded enough to see things                  DLC may even be coming from bedroom
        million-sized crater in their bank            golden question – was it worth it? Yes,         from the other side. As stated, DLC is              developers, ie. “us”. Will you be moan-
         balance), and publishers realise it.         yes it was. But if we replace that content      subject to your needs in relation to the            ing then? Whether you agree with my
          I’m not just talking about the ‘which       with paint jobs - no sale. Am I upset,          game, and there are obvious boundaries              viewpoint or not, one thing remains
            console does little Jonny want to         furious that somehow my game experi-            as to what DLC is acceptable and what’s             clear – you have the choice.
             play it on?’ choice, but in terms of     ence will be diminished in comparison           not. Again, it’s still relative to each
              the       extra      opportunities      to those with funkier paintjobs? No. Do I       player; can’t be bothered to unlock all of                                   Graham Naunton
               Rockstar’s latest – or indeed          feel sorry for those buying pointless           the best cars in Need For Speed: Pro
                any game with DLC – can offer.        extras? Not if it‘s their choice to do so.      Street? Buy them as DLC. Want to give
                So to put it simply, the choices      And you can apply this to most, if not all,     your golfer in Tiger Woods top stats?
                 you have and your own                DLC over any game which offers it.              Get your wallet out then. But either way,
                  gaming (or even moral)                                                              it’s your choice. It may be an easy way
                   preferences go hand in             Admittedly, when I read about micro-            for EA to make a quick buck, but is it
                   hand. You can choose to            transactions for the first time, I was          harming the industry? Not so far.




                             MotorStorm’s DLC included a new Time Trial Mode                   DLC introduced a new race to Mass Effect              DLC brought a new multiplayer gametype to Gears
62

WHAT THE REST OF US THINK
The issue isn't choice - indeed the concept of DLC            It's a difficult one to judge. In theory, DLC is a superb way   If it gives me a way to get more out of a game I've really
should be considered as a way to enhance a gaming             of getting that little bit extra out of a game, whether it be   enjoyed then I'm all for DLC. However developers
experience. It's the fact that premium content, as a          a multiplayer map or an expansion pack. However, devel-         definitely need to be wary of not holding back content
business model, is not implemented in the most                opers seem to be abusing our trust by releasing games           from the original release, and consider the fact that it's
effective way.                                                with DLC already coded onto the disc. Which is a shameful       non-physical nature will ultimately make it useless in
                                                              way of squeezing fans for all they've got.                      determining cost.
The value added proposition of premium content differs                                                                        Rhys Simons
from title to title. As an example you can spend 800          DLC will be an important facet of gaming in this new era of
points for three Halo 3 maps or, for the same amount,         connectivity, of that I have no doubt, but there needs to be
four Call of Duty 4 maps. At the extreme EA is charging       more regulation over the more 'shady' cases we've
gamers to unlock cheat codes and weapons in a beta.           already seen. As long as this is the exception, rather than
There seems to be a lack of control and little in the way     the rule, I'm all for DLC because it can undoubtedly add to
of guidelines.                                                an experience, and whether or not you wish to partake in
                                                              these extras is, as Graham so succinctly puts, your choice.
The average cost of a videogame is no longer it's RRP,        Tom Hoggins
it’s also the cost of premium content, which is effectively
a base for inflation. A game that costs £40 off the shelf     I'm sticking with Anti-DLC. I know this doesn't apply to
could well be £60 after premium content is applied. Over      Nintendo so far, but what if Smash Bros. had a DLC
the course of this generation gamers will spend pounds        model? Would we still have features such as the 'create
on premium content that will eventually be of no use.         your own' maps and have them freely distributed online?
I've bought premium content before but got burnt. These       Or would the cast of fighters be cut in half and drip-fed to
are now dud files on my HDD for games I no longer own.        us as DLC?
It's dead money.                                              Richard Rohani

To summarise, I like the idea of DLC but I fear that the      I'm unwilling to fork out any more for DLC as games are
situation is only going to get worse. The more we buy in      so expensive to begin with. I know I don't have to buy every
to premium content the more developers and publishers         extra for a game, but if you like the game, you'll feel like
will push the boundaries and, on reflection, gamers           you're missing out if you don’t.
have only got themselves to blame.                            Emily Knox
Stefan Goerke-Hewitt




GET IN TOUCH
We’re not the only ones with an opinion and we’d like to hear your thoughts too.
Do you like the idea of DLC or are you worried about the direction the industry is taking?
Send an email to debate@dpad-magazine.com with your thoughts on the subject and
we’ll print the best next month.
 63                            GALLERY



monediere
sebastien




            dante
            www.ov3rflow.com
 64                                                               GALLERY



beerens
nicolien




           say your prayers
           www.cataclysm-x.deviantart.com - n.beerens@gmail.com
65                                         GALLERY

br yce
kho




         cloud vs sephiroth
         http://buraisuko.deviantart.com
66                   NEXT MONTH




     next month...

				
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