Archive for May, 2009


Killing Floor Review

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It seems Zombie Shooters are back in fashion this season, going hand in hand with tight situations, big guns and tension at an elite level. We’ve already seen what kind of tension can be brought out of this situation with Vavle’s smash hit Left 4 Dead, but Tripwire Interactive has tossed their hat into the ring with their latest FPS Horror title Killing Floor.

Killing Floor is set in London where the city is overrun by flesh consuming “specimens” courtesy of a biotech firms experiments. These frightening creatures have decimated the city and have killed a majority of the public. You will be filling the shoes of one of six survivors, either a soldier or police officer, as you fight for your lives and try to clean the streets of this evil one at a time. Each of the characters has a short profile trying to explain their story, but it feels forced and doesn’t contribute to the gameplay whatsoever.

The Final Verdict

It may lack that style and flair that Valve’s Left 4 Dead had, but it makes up for it in content. Killing Floor is an excellent online experience, offering a co-op experience that is just as good, just as terrifying and with more classes of enemies than its competitor. If you are sick of Left 4 Dead this is the game for you, it has enough gameplay options to keep it fresh on your hard drive for years to come.

9/10

In-depth review with scores can be found here

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TellTale return a month later as promised with another serving of everyone’s favourite claymation duo in Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures: The Last Resort. While it goes forward in leaps and bounds over the last episode, the story tends to get a little lost among the large cast, despite the episode being played out within the confines of a handful of rooms.

This episode see’s Wallace’s plans to visit the beach shot down by bad weather, so he has this fantastic idea to open up a beach resort in their own basement. Building beach resorts in your basements, albeit fun, is not cheap so the loveable duo open their house up to customers to help pay the costs. The episode can be split up into three gameplay components, the beginning will have you collecting items for the resort, the second will have you keeping the paying customers happy and finally a ridiculous mystery needs to be solved, which ensure hilarity.

The Final Verdict

Telltale has stepped out with another great episode for their new series, yet it seems to be lacking what the first episode had to offer. Stuck in only a few rooms, and with minimal interaction between Wallace & Gromit, who seem to take a backseat to the supporting cast, it seems a little lacking. Regardless it’s well worth the price of admission and a must have for fans or adventure gamers alike!

Overall
7.8/10

Wallace and Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort is available from http://www.telltalegames.com/wallaceandgromit or the STEAM store. It will launch on Xbox Live in the next few weeks

Full review can be found here with screenshots/in depth review points and scores

24 crime wave
Regardless of the fact I’ve grown up a Victorian citizen, I have had the pleasure of visiting every capital except Darwin in the grand country we call Australia. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with the quaint feelings of Adelaide, the relaxed atmosphere of Brisvagas or the hectic community that is Sydney. Still nowhere feels quite like home than the streets of Melbourne, filled with a thriving artistic community, a pumping local music scene, and just an atmosphere that I can’t seem to find anywhere else in Australia….or at least it used to….

A series of senseless acts over the past six or so months has made me, and some of the general public terrified of the once familiar and safe surroundings of one of the greatest cities in this fine country.

Constant street brawls have become a ritual weekend event around the nightclub hotspots, largely contributed to the local “Lock Out” trials that were running last year, another initiative from a naive government who believe “binge drinking” and late nightclub hours are to blame for the issues. Rising prices of “Alco Pops” have not done anything to tackle violence on our streets, well done Rudster, we are forever in your debt for that smashing idea!

Luke Mitchell was a 29 year old upstanding citizen, who helped a fellow Melbournite avoid being kicked to death, just to be assaulted a few hours later and stabbed to death. Three suspects have fled the country to Thailand, and with the tough laws on extradition in place, I’d be surprised if we ever see any justice come out of that.

Follow this with a house in the ever safe community of Melton being shot at last night, leaving it’s elderly residents scared shitless, and that’s just a mere cherry on-top of recent stabbings, bashings, shootings and murder that has been carried out over the past six months.

I’m not naive enough to think that these crimes weren’t appearing before these last six months, but there is no question that things have seemed to elevate to a new level. Is it the work of a corrupt police force? Increased gang activity? Perhaps it’s those renegade motorcycle clubs causing all the trouble, or maybe it’s the recent news that Johnny Farnham is planning a comeback tour?

review_CPXE95The year 1988 saw the release of Capcom’s Bionic Commando on the revolutionary Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to both critical and commercial success. It was innovative for platform/action titles in the fact that you couldn’t jump, and you needed to make use of a Bionic arm to swing your way across ledges and destroy enemies in certain ways. It stood aside from other games in similar genres and has stood the test of time. That was over twenty years ago, does the same premise offer enough to stand ahead of the pack in the current generation?

2009’s Bionic Commando takes place ten years after the events of the NES title and places the gamer back into the shoes of Bionic Soldier Nathan “Rad” Spencer. In the course of these ten years, Bionic Soldiers have been outlawed in the military and society and have either slipped through the cracks or have had their bionic augmentations removed, or worse, executed. The game jumps right into the action as we witness the detonation that obliterates Ascension City, destroying buildings, streets and of course the main population. Spencer – who has been imprisoned due to the outlaw on Bionic Soldiers is released – is sent into the combat zone to discover who is responsible for such an act.
Bionic Commando

What sets the scene for a potentially sound storyline is let down by pure B-Grade cheesiness with some of the dialogue and cutscenes. Regardless of these shortcomings, voice acting work is delivered superbly through all the characters with the stand out being our hero Spencer who is voiced by Mike Patton of Faith No More fame. Characters are brought into the story to connect it back to the original title, yet more often than not they feel forced rather than detrimental to the story progression. Overlooking all this, Bionic offers some interesting plot twists. It’s not the amazing story some might find in other games, but it’s certainly strong enough to keep you compelled to continue the adventure.

What set the first title apart from the rest was the implementation of the Bionic arm and GRIN have excelled at making the arm an integral feature of the gameplay mechanics and not just a tacked on gimmick. Spencer has been separated from his arm since his incarceration, meaning he needs to remember all of his abilities, which are taught to you along the way via checkpoints and training exercises. It’s easy to learn, but takes a little to master which is a tie back to the original game. There is a sense of accomplishment when you chain together a series of precision placed swings followed by a zip kick.
Bionic Commando

The targeting reticle turns blue when Spencer is able to use the arm to grip onto something and once you have mastered the art you will be firing off your pistol before swinging via a ledge onto a platform and then taking a moment to assess your next move. Having said that the ability to swing and grapple your way across Asscension City isn’t all roses. Falling to your doom, landing in deep water or hitting some nasty radiated spots will result in you respawing at a checkpoint, minus all the equipment you have collected along the way. This will be frustrating for some, but for fans of the original title (or last years Re-armed remake) it will be familiar territory.

The arm is used for much more than swinging around like a not so friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Spencer has an arsenal of attacks ranging from the effecting light or heavy punches, zip kicks which will have you attaching your arm to an enemies chest and then retracting it to kick them in the chest, kiting enemies into the air and throwing objects such as cars, blocks of concrete and even trains! All the attacks work seamlessly with the controls being accessed with some careful timing and some quick button presses.
Bionic Commando

In addition to these awesomely cool Bionic Arm attacks you will also gain access to weapons throughout your journey. Spencer is armed with a standard issue pistol which is accurate and deadly, but through weapons drops in the field you will come across grenades, shotguns, sniper rifles and the like. Unfortunately while these weapons are fun, ammo is so sparse for said weapons that the fun is short lived. It’s not a deal breaker as the arm attacks more than make up for it, but it would be wise to conserve your ammunition for when you need it.

Bionic Commando provides us with a seemingly huge concrete jungle to frolic through yet due to it’s linear gameplay it doesn’t offer enough opportunity to go exploring. Once you have passed through a section of the game there is no going back, so if you are wanting to collect all the collectable items and the like, you better check, and then check again before you move onto the next point. It’s sadly disappointing as Asscension City offers a terrific landscape to explore, yet we are constricted to the contraints of a linear pathway. It doesn’t ruin the experience as such, but it makes you wonder what we are missing out on, or what a less linear path would have provided us with.
Bionic Commando

Multiplayer is a rather forgettable experience. Featuring sixteen maps to fight with up to seven other opponents on, you’ll soon put it down after a few rounds. It’s not ground breaking, it’s no engaging, it’s not fun, it’s just there. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with it, it features your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, it’s just not at all compelling like the single player experience. It’s a fun time waster, but we won’t see it hitting Call of Duty or Halo online status anytime soon.

Graphically Bionic Commando is up there with the best. Assension City is littered with papers blowing in the wind, dust and particles from fallen buildings, and fantastic lighting effects at the sun sets down across the town. The game camera is rarely ever annoying and feels just right, and little features like dust covering the camera as buildings fall is a nice touch. Character models are a bit cartoonish, but that’s the setting of the game. It’s not a mega realistic title ala Gears Of War. The game manages to keep a consistent frame-rate, which is emperical to the swinging element of the title. Lagging as you were swinging at fast pace through the city would totally ruin the experience. The only time you will even notice the tiniest bit of frame-rate dip will be during some of the larger battle sequences, but it’s not enough to even really notice that often.
Bionic Commando

The city feels like it’s actually a city, not just a landscape created for the game. Buildings look tattered and used, everything is coated in dust after the explosion, buildings, the ground, cars and transport literally are crumbling all around you. My one gripe is the blatant advertising that is present throughout the city. Pepsi, nVidia, Alienware and other signs from companies litter the city, and while it has been seen before, in this pertiular title it really takes away from the experience.

As I mentioned before the voice acting is top notch, and Mike Patton provides yet another memorable character in the video game realm (See: The Darkness). Musically the title will strike a chord with veterans who will recognize some of those eight bit sounds jazzed up a little during the musical score that just suits the title perfectly.
Bionic Commando

The Final Verdict

So has twenty years been too long for Bionic Commando to have any relevance in the modern day video game world? Capcom have proved that an old classic can be turned into something modern day. While the story isn’t taken to it’s full potential and the title is extremely linear, Bionic Commando offers enough innovative, and stylish gameplay mechanics to make it worth your while.

Full Review can be read here
http://www.myps3.com.au/FeaturedReview.aspx?id=390