Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crysis 3 Review

Ah Crysis, known arguably more for its amazing graphics than anything even remotely related to the actual gameplay. The original Crysis was an exquisite game that opened up large areas and let players tackle the FPS genre through whatever path they liked. Crysis 2 came along and took a more linear path that was in line with other FPS and was said to have been a design choice due to the limitations of also developing for the consoles. The negative feedback has been taken on board by Crytek and Crysis 3 takes the best of Crysis 1 and mashes it with Crysis 2 to create the ultimate game in an abandoned New York City.


The real strength of any Crysis game is the sheer beauty of the areas you visit and overall polish. Crytek have done another excellent job that not only shines on beefed up PCs but also leads itself to being one of the best looking games on a console. The first level is fairly tame but it’s not until you are launched into the stunning jungle landscape inside the Liberty Dome that you will feel the full force of Crysis 3’s graphical power. I was blown away with how damn good absolutely everything looks. It is hard to find a fault, especially when everything down to the blades of grass are crafted with love and precision. How will travel from areas of open expanse with the sun shining down on you creating a blinding view if you look up at it to dark caverns that are infested with CELL and Ceph.

This game becomes more personal than the titles before it and due to this there is more interactions with human characters. You will be spending a lot of time with your sidekick Michael Sykes (Commonly known as Psycho) and his character looks brilliant and has detailed facial animations. It’s always easier to create alien races like the Ceph because you have nothing to compare it with, but the human characters are much better than those in Crysis 2 and show the all round improvement in Crysis 3.

I’ve never really been able to fully appreciate the sound in Crysis before this game. It has always been about the graphics, but there were moments when I got to experience the amazing work that has gone into it. Guns sounds fierce and powerful, the bow & arrow will whiz through the air. You are first introduced to the Ceph in long grass, hearing them leaping around and their shrieks is terrifying since you don’t know where they will come from. The voice acting in this game is very well done. The interaction by Prophet and Psycho is top notch and I thoroughly enjoyed the enemy yelling for their life knowing that a cloaked superhuman was nearby ready to kill them.


Crysis 3 follows on from the story of Crysis 2, but sets itself up nicely so that first time players (or even those who failed to finish Crysis 2) can jump straight into the game and not feel overwhelmed by the story. The fact that this is the first Crysis title to really attempt a story with meaning brings it into being almost a new spin-off completely. Prophet quickly finds himself being saved by Psycho, who had his nanosuit stripped off him by CELL, the evil corporation controlling what is left of New York. This story travels alongside Prophet’s hunt for the Alpha Ceph and everything flows in nicely. While shorter than Crysis 2, the story is better paced and definitely gets you invested in whats happening instead of the lacking story of Crysis 2.

One negative I had with Crysis 2 was that when I found myself in an open gunfight the controls would irritate me. I don’t know because I am used to FPS like Call of Duty, but I couldn’t really find myself enjoying single or multi player without going for a full on stealth approach. I feel like Crysis 3 has slightly tweaked not only the difficulty but also controls to work better on a controller. Modding your weapons and abilities can happen without going into menus, but it is slightly more detailed than last time. You can play stealth and be really successful, yet also jump out with armour on and not find yourself dead within a matter of seconds.

Probably the best new feature of the game is the deadly one shot kill weapon the bow & arrow which can be used while cloaked. It sounds overpowered but ammo for it is sparse so you can’t rely on it all the time, especially in later missions. The bow can fire a variety of arrows to retrievable regular tips to electric charged tips that electrocute those in water or explosive tips that blow up all nearby CELL or Ceph upon the explosion. While it does make the other guns in the game fairly useless in all apart from big gun fights once your cover has been blown, killing someone with an arrow never gets old. You feel really powerful and you know what? So you should, Prophet doesn’t own a nanosuit for no reason. 

Crysis 3 for me essentially fixed everything that was wrong with Crysis 2 and has provided a more balanced experience. The campaign is well accompanied by the strong multiplayer offering which will be familiar for those who played multiplayer on Crysis 2. The game makes good use of the cloaking and armour abilities used in the single player campaign and those who are willing to put in the time to get good at it will be rewarded. New players may find it daunting at first but there is definitely a lot of fun to be had.


Crysis 3 has made me fall in love with the Crysis series all over again. Bringing back large open areas in the form of New York perfectly complements the more linear path where Crytek wants to force the action at you. The mix between the two works well and I’m glad they went this route. The graphics and sound are mindblowing as always and the addition of a meaningful story takes the game to the next level. Is one of the finest FPS I have played in a long time and I couldn’t recommend it enough while we wait for some amazing titles to hit next gen.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 9/10

Friday, February 22, 2013

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

The Metal Gear series has been a top franchise for Sony for many years. The Xbox 360 user base has only recently been let on to the games after the HD Collection was released last year. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the not only the first ‘Rising’ spin off to the main stealth series but also the first game developed to be released on the Xbox 360 at its launch. Where Metal Gear Solid is a serious, stealth based game, Rising is the complete opposite and you should not launch into this title with any thoughts of MGS in your mind. This is not a stealth shooter, this is a full on action title that is full of crazy over the top moments.


I am a big fan of the top graphics possible and playing the MGS HD Collection on my Xbox 360 is hard since the games are really showing their age graphically. There are no such issues for MGR however with Platinum Games putting in a lot of effort to make sure the game lives up to the lofty standards. Player models are stunning and watching a cut scene and seeing the hair flowing on Raiden actually reminds me of Final Fantasy in a way. In game the fast pace doesn’t reduce the quality of the graphics as you move with ultimate precision and player models represent the ferocity of it quite well. 

The environment is also quite beautiful, especially the outdoor settings in most of the chapters. Dark environments can seem quite bland but luckily this is a game that wants to embrace colour and put you in the limelight rather than lurking in the shadows. MGR shines where there is action happening. Whether it is the gruesome decapitation of an enemy or a massive explosion, the wow factor never gets old and I love to see it happen time after time.

Metal Gear Rising has some very good voice acting to go alongside the excellent character models. Even though the story is absolutely ridiculous and you will most likely care little for it unless you’re a dedication MG fan, it’s still nice to have. The sound effects that accompany the game give a real sense of power and destruction as Raiden slashes through everything from opponents to fences, poles and more. Destruction is well backed up by the noise to match.


From the word go this game is brutal, this game is action packed and this game will keep you on the move constantly. Despite it being a disappointedly short 5-6 campaign, the one positive is that you will never feel bored or are simply grinding your way to the next chapter. Everything is over the top and far from serious, but it feels purposeful and I love that Platinum Games weren’t scared to make this type of game even though it was carrying the Metal Gear logo.

For the short adventure you follow the story of Raiden, a cyborg, in a world adventure to stop a terrorist group that are kidnapping humans and causing havoc to America’s political standing. When you finish the game are you going to care about what has happened? No. Will you even understand how you arrived at your final crazy boss battle? Most likely not. But you will have a damn good time getting there and in an action game like this I couldn’t honestly care less. The game is fun and I half expect Japanese games to not cater to my storytelling needs so I went in expecting this. There are sly moments that are there solely for true fans of the series and they will be able to respect the cameos and conversations made during the adventure.

Combat is what makes MGR the fun it has become. Raiden runs around the chapters, most of the time using the boost trigger that pretty much acts as a freerun mechanic like in Assassin’s Creed. This can be used to slide under enemies and initiate combat as well as being used to deflect oncoming bullets and attacks from enemies. You have light and heavy attacks and using them in conjunction with each other will prove to be the most effective method of fighting. Killing so many people allows you to initiate the awesome blade mode, which freezes time and allows you to be a brutal son of a bitch. Blade mode slows down time and allows you to unleash mayhem on all of those around you. Slicing enemies literally slices them into as many pieces as your heart desires. It is a brutal, yet easy kill that comes in handy during boss battles but never gets old seeing the destruction against regular foe.

Action is around every corner. Whether it is another group of enemies or a huge boss battle (these arrive at regular intervals), the game always wants to keep you moving. This fact contradicts two areas of the title that I am perplexed by. Raiden has a main weapon that you will use most of the time, but also can equip a secondary weapon. The downside is that if you want to use this secondary weapon you have to hold down the left bumper and it physically stops you in your tracks. It can’t be used in the fly and trying to aim a rocket launcher while you remain stationary against a charging cyborg dog does not bode well for all involved. The other negative in MGR is the sheer length of the cut scenes. I know they are attempting to tell a story that is drastically over the top, but I don’t want to be sitting there for more than a few minutes watching it all play out. They do a good job or incorporating it during the levels but the start and end of each chapter can go on for a bit too long.


Launch this game expecting a long, heart filled story with lots of tense moments and stealth gameplay the Metal Gear series is known for and you will be disappointed. Rising is a spin-off to the main series and I am so glad Platinum Games made sure this was the case. Revengeance will be over just as soon as it begins, but the journey you take is over the top chaos and that is exactly what the intention was. You won’t remember the story but really, who even cares! Slices cyborgs into millions of little pieces never gets old and being accompanied by great visuals makes this an excellent game that may go unnoticed in todays market, which is a real shame. I recommend checking this game out for some stylish hack ‘n slash pure fun.

Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Overall - 8/10

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space is a series that doesn’t exactly hold a dear place in my heart. A childhood of being freaked out from games that some may not even call scary has left me in a place where I can’t ever truly enjoy horror titles. The fact that I am walking down a dark corridor knowing something, somewhere is about to jump out and try to devour me always leaves me worried. Despite this fact I’ve played all the Dead Space titles and enjoy them for the action and try to dilute the scared little boy inside of me. I was quietly looking forward to co-op in Dead Space 3 as taking on the necromorphs with a friend would make it less painful for myself. It has come under some criticism however, so did Visceral Games pull it off?


The one aspect nailed constantly by Visceral Games is the brilliant atmosphere created in their series. Every single environment you enter has a purpose and the smart layout creates many opportunities for the game to simply jump out at you. This is all reinforced by some brilliant graphics that enhance the experience. Eery lighting in dark corridors to the haze and reduced vision you experience in the portions of the game played in the ice create that sense of urgency and danger you encounter. The game is crystal clear though, with everything looking spectacular and not simply bad and hard to distinguish as a way to create terror like some games try to pull off.

The musical score and sound effects do an excellent job of supporting the visual setting to create an amazing atmosphere. Everything from the silence interrupted by your footsteps to the eery score that calmly plays in the background before moments of terror sets up the sense of danger very well. Of course they use the amplification of noise at the entrance of an enemy, but this is to be expected (even though it will still provide the odd scare). The voice acting is also top notch even if what they saying isn’t of the highest standard. At least they fit the personality of the characters they play.


Dead Space 3 follows on from the story told in Dead Space 2. After a quick introduction to the game again you are put in the shoes of Isaac Carter, the main protagonist of the story, and forcefully made to fight against the Markers and to rescue your missing girlfriend. For those who are new to the Dead Space franchise the third entry will be pretty confusing for you, especially at the start of the game. My co-op partner had little to no clue what was going on except the basic plot line of what we were doing in this game.

The weakest point of the game is the story. We meet Isaac Carter alone, after cutting himself off from others for a long period of time. The reasons for happenings and conclusions that occur in the first chapters of the game are unbelievable and don’t assist in answering questions for long time fans, let alone newcomers. Towards the end of the game answers seem to just slot into place and it seems like everything is going perfectly to plan a little too well. The struggle and big revelation never comes as everything conveniently works out well for those involved. The fact that they also push irrelevant side quests and object hunts on you makes an arduous story even longer than most would like.

Put the story behind you and Dead Space will really shine where it always has, combat. Coming across an enemy is fierce, brutal and will have you in a frenzy as they run towards you. Firing off a clip of bullets may fail to kill a necromorph and you must resort to last ditch bashing in the hope that you come away from the fight unscathed. A real unique area of Dead Space is that the headshot is an irrelevant target for the player. After being trained to always aim for the head you must fight that urge and go for limb dismemberment as that deals more damage and slows down the AI. After you progress through the game a bit you can craft weapons and upgrade them in a mechanic new to Dead Space 3. This is done by collecting resources along your trip and using them at select crafting stations. This adds variation to how someone will play a game and encourages multiple play throughs.

The biggest feature of this title compared to previous entries is the addition of co-operative play to Dead Space. This is first and foremost a horror game and the entire premise of a game like this is the feeling of isolation to get the user terrified. Going through the game with a person next to you definitely removes the fear factor from the game simply because you have protection if need be. Playing Dead Space 3 solo is still an option and will provide the true Dead Space experience if people want that. However having Isaac Clarke team up with the new character John Carver provides an action packed experience with memories you can share. The story definitely works better with another player taking on Carver and even those who want to play through the game solo should at least attempt it with a fellow companion.


Dead Space 3 annoys me. Not only is it a beautiful game that creates a stunning atmosphere that can terrify me when playing alone but also ramp up the spectacle and create an intense action experience. This is highlighted by the great combat and surprising fun that is provided by playing the game with a friend. It is a real shame that the game is let down by a weak storyline, especially after Dead Space 2 was strong in this area in my opinion. That being sad you should easily be able to overlook the story and irritating side missions that want you to find a lost item just one too many times. There is a great load of fun to be had and you would kick yourself for missing out.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 8/10