Ah yes, only a week since BioShock 2 came out and boy, am I excited. BioShock, the original game, is up there in my list of top 5 all time games along with Halo, Thief Deadly Shadows, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Dead Space. This time around things are a bit different as  you play the part of a fledgeling Big Daddy, whether that is for the whole game or just a bit I don’t know. When the sequel was first announced I was sure they said it was going to be set in the period before the original game when the fictional city of Rapture was in its prime. However, it transpires that it is in fact set 10 years after the end of the first game.

Reviews have been a bit mixed so far for BioShock2 but I have been thoroughly enjoying it. The IGN review was quite decent but the reviewer appeared surprised that the game was similar to the original…..I could tell it was going to be similar as there was a clue in the title…BioShock…wait for it, 2. Why change a winning formula? Besides, the prequel introduced some novel game stuff which have been subsequently pinched by loads of other and less games and often you can forget things like that.

So far it has been very good. In my view they have kept the best bits from the first game and added some variety by having you play a different major character, armed with different weapons and with different goals….like defending the Little Sister.

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The Saboteur for PS3 review

This is one of those games that I was really looking forward to as I kinda hoped it would be right up my street, lots of sneaky stealth moves, slinking about and generally being able to investigate the big, open world at my own leisure and pace.

Before I slam the game a bit of background. It is set in Paris during the 2nd World War during the German occupation. You are Sean, this Irish bloke, who is on an avenging mission and is tasked with doing a whole load of things to basically disrupt the Nazi war machine. Most of Paris initially opens in black and white and as you complete missions colour is restored to Paris presumably to indicate a bit of life being brought back to the great city.

First problem…Sean is highly unlikeable. As a result, you end up playing a character you basically begin to think is a bit of a smart arse twat. The second major problem for me is that this game manages to combine some of the features that I dislike most about games, namely a heap of timed missions so you’re dashing around like a blue arsed fly early on, huge gaps between auto-saves and you get forced down routes via missions instead of being able to play the game you would like to.

There is a lot of variety however in the missions you are given by the in game characters but the problem is this…you drive around Paris looking for the next mission point, find it and then are told that this mission requires a degree of covertness to be successful. However, invariably you end up in a spot where there are Nazi watch towers in each corner, with spotlights blazing down on you and you feel like you are on the middle of the Wembley pitch with the floodlights on. How the heck are you meant to act stealthily there? You end up having to yank out the guns and going in with all guns blazing in a big shoot out which renders each purported stealth mission a bit pointless. I found this infuriating. You start off all stealthy, trying to sneek around (even though there is no actual control in the game to enable you to “sneak”) and within about half a second you’ll have been spotted and about 50 Nazis will suddenly appear and start shooting. For goodness sake, if you’re going to market the game as some stealth thing at the very least give the character some stealth attributes, like errr…cover instead of making him as easy to handle as a bulldozer on ice.

You’re meant to take advantage of creeping around via the rooftops of Paris to remain unseen but again, after having had to climb up buildings (not fun in itself) to get to this plateau you can more or less guarantee that you’ll be spotted almost instantly and thus have to flee as fast as possible from that spot. When you are spotted, and you will be, alarms sound and half the 3rd Reich Army appear out of thin air necessitating some pronto back tracking back to where you were. Great fun. I spent a couple of weeks playing this game and more or less gave up as I was continually having to replay sections.

The game follows the by now usual pattern of multiple upgrade paths which you can unlock by completing missions, finding stuff and doing favours for some of the more militant locals. Thankfully this gives you something to aspire too otherwise I’d have abandoned it very early doors out of sheer irritation. Graphically it is okay too and the playground is vast, it’s like Grand Theft Auto except the cars handle like buses with knackered steering and 100 tons of cement stuck in the boot so getting around the place, and trying to get through the driving sections, is a chore.

After about 2 weeks of solid cursing I just gave up which is a shame as the game idea was good, there is some potential in there but the heavy handed game physics and sheer unlikeability of the cliche-ridden central character bring nothing but unremitting frustration.

In a word…avoid.

Batman Arkham Asylum on PS3

Just finished playing this and for a long time I was loving it but towards the end it just degenerated into one Boss battle after another. Now, I hate Boss battles for several reasons. One being that I am not very good at them and invariably have to spend ages repeating and replaying that section before eventually getting through it. It has not been unknown for me to fail to beat the Boss and thus, if there are no cheats available, that is the end of the game for me which is hugely annoying. The other reason is that to me they are very mid 90’s and in this day and age, seem a bit predictable and an easy fill up part of the game excuse for developers. The last part of Batman basically throws three consecutive boss fights at you in a row. I got through them but did not enjoy the gaming experience. It also spoiled the whole game experience  for me a bit, up to the last section I had been enjoying the game hugely and in particular the variety of challenges which is a bit ironic given the mundane predictability of the end part.

If the Boss battles had allowed you to employ different attack strategies then it would have been more interesting but in all cases it was a question  of running around like an arse, flinging the batarang in a vain attempt to stun baddies, leaping from left to right trying to avoid projectiles and all done in a finger strain inducing, button bashing stupor. Not much fun and at odds with the rest of the game’s basic gameplay set up.

Arkham_AsylumThe whole experience was not what I expected at all. Often you get a vision of how you expect the game to play and look but this one surprised me. It kept reminding me of BioShock, the whole Arkham Asylum setting was like parts of Rapture, dark, quiet and spooky and you were never quite sure what to expect around the corner. Some of the in game sounds and music extended that BioShock similarity even further. I sort of expected the whole game to take place in the Asylum part, as the name suggests, but that is the name for what in fact is a huge complex and the gameplay moves from area to area.

At no point does Batman have any weapons…no guns or nowt and any fighting, in fact there is lots of fighting (which can get repetitive) and you need to use your hand to hand skills. Luckily Batman is pretty nifty with his hands and feet and with the upgrade system you can power up his “combos” and items such as the trusty Batarang. Annoyingly, the Batarang is of limited use, it stuns enemies but only for about 0.012 of a millisecond and will never render an attacker immobile. Thus, take outs form afar are a no go and old Bats has to sneak up to get up close and personal for combat action. By about half way through the game I began to dread the rather mindless button bashing that was needed to overcome groups of Jokers henchmen.

A la BioShock and which is seemingly de rigeur nowadays, Batman goes for the upgrade path and in an attempt to add a little extra, you have various very mini side quests like solving Riddler’s ahem…riddles and finding his abandoned “?’s” which are randomly scattered throughout. In fact there are apparantly 240 of them.

There are a few annoying things over and above the repetitive fighting sequences. When you get hit it takes an eternity to get back up on your feet and before you can actually move away from a danger zone, Often, you will find yourself sandwiched between two baddies or a boss creature and badman and will end up getting repeatedly thumped (with big subsequent health loss) as you frantically and unsuccessfully try to jump out of the way. It would have been nice to have had some way of taking out baddies with the batarang from distance to reward good stealth approaches too.

Overall, I’d give it a 7.5 out of 10. Had the last section not been so damn hectic and irritating it would have been an 8.5 job. The graphics though are superb, the controls and camera positioning are super smooth and there are some genuinely great moments in there. The story is also well paced, by and large, and involving enough to make you feel part of the plot.

wwwwwwww Wolfenstein

So, after waiting years for the next instalment of the Nazi bashing/paranormal infested 1st person shooter have I been disappointed? Not one jot. Despite being slightly concerned about the rather lukewarm reviews from the major gaming sites I have ploughed ahead with the game and it has been great fun. It won’t win any prizes for originality nor will it win any awards for introducing any earth shattering new gameplay features but it is a good old fashioned rollicking first person shooter with a huge choice of weapons, a solid aiming system and plenty to keep the player occupied.

I think the developers have done a good job of giving the die hard Wolfenstein addicts more of what they wanted, hoped for and expected but have brought it up to next gen console speed by upping the graphics and adding on plenty of side missions and a good weapons upgrade path if you take the time to explore the scenery, hunt down the gold and find those important “tomes”. You could, in true old school fashion, just charge through the game but that would be missing out on half the fun of hunting down the goodies that act as currency to upgrade your guns, a la BioShock and DeadSpace.

When I first started playing I was a bit surprised at the difference between this and the last Wolfenstein game. The former was very much linear, enter the level, do the business and then it was on to the next level which was set in a different location. In this version, most of the action takes place in a fictional town occupied by those naughty Nazis and you do a level there, do a side mission somewhere else, return to the town for another side mission or two, then go somewhere else for a full level and then back to the town. You can also choose in which order to play the missions, which are given to you by characters in the town, and whilst heading to and from those missions there is always a bit of tasty Nazi bashing opportunity lurking nearby should you feel the need.

The game’s most talked about feature is the “Veil” system which enables players, amongst other things, to slow down time and add on a protective shield if needed in big shoot outs. It is very similar to the likes of Dead Space and is an interesting and at times useful add on but is hardly original. I haven’t actually used it that much in fights as I seem to manage to emerge intact without resorting to the shield or time slow down but hey, it is there if you need it.

This game has got better and better the more I have advanced in it and is well paced. The Boss battles are challenging but not infuriating and even a lesser skilled player like me has got through them. Unfortunately I am now near the end, more than 75% of the way through but it has been nothing but hugely enjoyable so far. The best thing about it is that it has taken some of the best bits of the older Wolfenstein series and added in some new stuff that lifts it up a notch or two.

MediaLink for PS3 and Mac

Nullriver Software : Products : MediaLink.

Your PlayStation 3 has been craving the media on your Mac. Finally, complete Macinto

sh and Playstation 3 integration is upon us.

Enjoying your media through the PlayStation 3 has never been this easy, on any platform — and the Mac isn’t just any platform. Its our favorite platform, so we’ve taken great care to create a seamless solution.

PS3 v xbox 360

PS3It’s been a few months now since I bought the PS3 and I have been very pleased with it. Initially, it was an odd feeling getting to grips with the new style controller but now it feels just fine. In fact, its more compact size is more appealing now than the bulkier xbox one. I feel the PS3 has some advantages for me over Microsoft’s finest. For starters, it is virtually whisper quiet whereas the xbox chugs and wheezes and that incessant whirring noise is both annoying and worrying. A second advantage is that the PS3 has built in wifi whereas you have to buy the xbox add on and it is not cheap at £59. I get a much better and stronger signal too when connected to my home network on the Sony console and it has not dropped yet. Getting a signal on the xbox xould be hit or miss. I never used xbox Live so not having that is not a miss for me but for many who are addicted to online gaming then the PS3 is still well behind on that front. Could be a deal breaker for many…..

Games-wise, most of the newer releases are available for both consoles so it is not such a big deal now. Console exclusives do not appear to be so prevalent these days and there is not a game coming out soon that I wish to get that will not be out on the PS3. Obviously, the Blu Ray support is appealing and is a big advantage at the moment, it is just a pity that the film discs remain so expensive. One annoying PS feature relates to the demo discs that come with the “official” UK mags. On the xbox you just needed to shove the DVD in the drive, pick your demo and start playing whereas on the PS you need to download the game first to the hard drive, which can take 2/3 minutes, then install it onto the hard drive before playing. I don’t understand why you can’t just play it straight off the disc? Graphically, I don’t notice any discernible difference between games on either console in terms of visual quality but I have fewer “crashes” when playing on the PS3.

One other factor that may be relevant is that there is a better choice of xbox themed iPhone apps. I downloaded one the other days that links to my xbox live account. It shows stats such as games played, achievements and you can browse stuff for sale/download. There is nothing similar for the PS3. For those of you who use a mac there is little or no inbuilt help for streaming music and video but luckily NullRiver software offer solutions for both. I’ve tried 360 Connect with the xbox and it worked quite well but have not tried their MediaLink PS3 software yet. To be honest, this is an area I should make more use of but can’t be bothered or just aren’t interested enough. I did however burn a cd full of images an loaded it up on the PS3. The pics looked amazing, too amazing in fact for my wife’s liking as she complained they were too “detailed” which is testament to the quality of the PS I suppose.

I have had problems with xbox reliability down the years, three have needed to be replaced but the PS3 also went back after a few weeks as it just packed up. This is unusual apparantly. I read a post from one of the gaming sites very recently, can’t recall where, which suggested there is a 53% failure rate with the 360 console which if true, is fairly damning on Microsoft. The same arti cle suggested it was less than 10% on the PS3. Just also read too that Sony have announced the PS3 “slim” which looks like a winner both on looks and price.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to go on sale for £55 – Telegraph

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to go on sale for £55 – Telegraph.

What a nerve. This is setting a seriously bad precedent and they will only get away with it as it is such a popular title. Of course that is taking advantage of people, knowing they are gagging for for the latest and greatest version then shafting them up the jacksie by raising the cost by £10.

It will serve them right if sales are below expectations.

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