Saturday, 9 June 2012

FEATURE: Everything You Need To Know About E3 2012

The biggest gaming event of the year just happened. Instead of going through all the various articles I've put everything you need to know in one page, so take a look. If you're searching for any new hardware from Sony or Microsoft - prepare to be disappointed.


Microsoft have released Smartglass. This is so that you can use your tablet or smartphone with your Xbox, such as using it as a remote, or watching a film then carrying onto your Xbox. It's not only part of Microsoft (finally) realising that a games console should be an entertainment hub for every living room (something Sony have been saying for years and years) but also puts it into direct competition with Wii U who have used their GamePad to do pretty much exactly the same thing. Clever Microsoft. It will also now feature Internet Explorer, some new Nike thing for your shoe (like Nike+ for your iPod) and that's about it.


Not much to be honest. A lot of plugging the Vita and saying it will be able to be synced with your PS3 so that, lo and behold, you can use it to interact with your Playstation as a remote or yadda yadda yadda. Also PS1 classics you have bought will also now be able to play on your Vita. No news about a new console.


More about the Wii U, you'll be able to play titles like Mass Effect 3, Arkham City, Assassin's Creed 3 and more on it and use them in a different way. But who cares? The GamePad which will be the Wii U control will have a screen, but you can also buy controls without a screen. There will also be a new Wii Fit thing. Ultimately they are trying to show off Wii U but nobody really cares.

So let's move onto the games, which was pretty much what E3 was about this year.


Ubisoft came in with a nice surprise called Watch Dogs. The idea is that you play someone who has access to everyone's personal details (not too far from what's happening with all this hacking etc. going on). Here's a cool gameplay trailer to get you in the mood:


David Cage has made quite a name for himself and yet his company, Quantic Dream, have released only a number of games I could count on one hand. His first real success was Fahrenheit in 2005 which was pretty dark but wanted to be less a game and more an 'interactive film'. They took this one step further with the superb Heavy Rain (reviewed here) in 2010 and now have shown us their next project starring Juno and Inception actress Ellen Page. Looks pretty good!




Seeing as I get criticised for leaving out Nintendo most of the time, here's Super Mario Bros 2 on 3DS where you have to collect a million gold coins or something. Looks fun ... I guess.


There's a huge fan base for the LEGO game series which I've dipped in and out of time to time. But they seem to have taken it one step further this time. Watch out for LEGOlas. Bam - went there.


EA still feel like they are missing a piece of the Call of Duty pie and I won't go into the whole Infinity Ward / Activision debacle but rest assured that Warfighter is going to be a step up from the last reboot of Medal Of Honor which had it's moments but overall, was all style and no substance. Anyway, here's a trailer of things blowing up and shooting people form all sorts of places.


What hasn't caused much hype is the new God of War. Perhaps people are bored? Either way, their teaser trailer didn't really reveal much but here's some of the lush gameplay that Kratos et al are known for. Also, it has multiplayer?


Of course, one of the big boys was Assassin's Creed 3 and instead of showing you all the trailers etc., here's some gameplay for you to look at. There's some messing about on foot, but the sea stuff looks incredible.


If you can't get enough of the third instalment then if you got a Vita you lucky thing, then look forward to Liberation. Here's a sneaky glimpse.

DUST 514

There seems to be a lot of hype about Eve, a whole PC thing that I'm completely unaware of. Anyway, if I got this right (and please correct me if I'm wrong), while the Eve users are busy doing political strategic intergalactic Universe warfare stuff, Dust 514 console users will be battling out in an an FPS on the ground according to what Eve players are doing. Very strange if that's right, but very cool. Here's a glimpse.


So more and more sequels. Crysis 2 was a bit of a let down it must be said, looked great but I really didn't enjoy it that much. In any case, I think it did quite well and people still bang on about the original so here's the third. Again, it looks brilliant, but then so did the second one ...


One of the titles I wish I could say I was looking forward to is Dead Space 3. However, as much as I enjoyed Dead Space 2 (which wasn't a lot, but still enjoyable), I can't help but think they have completely deviated away form what made Dead Space so fucking brilliant in the first place. It's co-op?! Why? The whole point is that your on the edge of your seat trying not to poo your pants, instead this is getting a bit like Gears of War or something. Nothing will beat the first one and you haven't lived if you haven't played it. Anyway, I'll probably still get this. Damn EA.


Quite simple. If you like Super Smash Bros (which I do, a lot) then you will probably love this. Drake, Kratos, Big Daddy, PaRappa The Rapper, Helghast person etc all going for it. Have a look.


By far and away the game I'm looking forward to the most. This gameplay trailer almost made me cry, it's so fucking brilliant. Take a look.


Since Spiderman 2, I haven't been bothered about any other Spiderman games really. However, this time round it does look rather juicy. Take a look for yourself.


Of course Microsoft's big one was Halo 4. Not having been made by the guys who did the original trilogy, this still looks like it will be more of the same that everyone loves with apparently some cool new multiplayer features. Here's a bit of gameplay but to be honest, if you've played Halo before, you'll know what it looks like.


This was a tech demo for Square's new engine called the Luminous Studio Engine, which will apparently be making some waves and bridge current tech to next-gen consoles. Anyway, it does look mighty impressive and Square have said that it could be the next Final Fantasy if people like it enough. Who knows? Have a look.


In the same vein, Unreal released a new tech demo for their new Unreal 4 engine. A LOT of games use the Unreal engine so it's a bit of a big deal if you'll be playing any FPS in the next few years.


Well, there is always the big Call of Duty release and this time is no exception. I enjoyed Black Ops so would be good to see if this can have a good story behind it like last time.


Capcom come back with Resident Evil 6 which looks more epic than ever. Hopefully, they have held off on the melodrama and tried to keep it a bit more grounded (as grounded as a zombie game can be), but with talk of the President etc. - it looks like this might be as cheesy as ever. Anyway, it will definitely be good fun.


Instead of a normal Star Wars game, this is supposed to be like Uncharted in space. There is no Force or anything like that, it's just a bit of action/adventure that keeps it all quite simple.


Definitely one of the top games to look out for, the Tomb Raider reboot looks and plays amazing. Will win a lot of awards next year I'm telling you! Look at this incredible trailer, if only films were more like this.


I really enjoyed the last Splinter Cell, something I haven't been able to say for some time. Blacklist carries on in the same vein and has definitely upped the game. Below is a gameplay trailer UbiSoft have released and I think it looks rather spiffing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

REVIEW: Chronicle

Kids with powers. But still kids.

The idea of a bunch of teens getting superhero powers and pissing about sounds like good fun. However, Chronicle concentrates on how all it takes is one unhinged mind and you've got a villain on your hands.

The story follows a classic 'found footage' formula (something which becomes very annoying) as three kids stumble onto an unknown meteorite of some sort and soon find themselves able to move things, fly and more.

Quite a cool, original concept written by John Landis's son Max and directed by a young Josh Trank. It's definitely ambitious and exciting in that you can relate to how 'normal' (in an American High School way) these kids are compared to the Marvel type superheroes we come across in the cinema these days. However, it's still an extremely flawed film.

Namely, the use of videocameras and such is absurd and the subplots are useless. The main character of the film, Andrew, is a pathetic, bullied, creepy, annoying person who I would like to slap. So when his father starts doing it, I'm inclined to think he deserved it (not that I condone hitting kids but, Andrew is really really annoying, and anyway the kid is dangerous, and not exactly a kid). So when Andrew starts using his powers to hurt and destroy it's soon up to his mates to sort him out. It's about friendship, but it's not really.

The bullied kid trying to get through high school with an abusive father is boring and cheesy, Dane DeHaan does well as a tortured young soul but ultimately he's a dick. The playing with the powers is fun, in a Jackass kind of way, but when the battle starts to heat up at the end it feels like it's over before it's begun. It would have made a cool short but I felt like there was so much filler in there that I'd be hard pushed to want to watch it again.

Nice idea and Trank, for 27 years old, is someone to keep an eye on. In fact, it's been reported he's going to do the movie of Shadow of the Colossus which is, for me, a huge deal. So watch Chronicle if you have nothing to do but don't get too excited, end of the day it's as if Superman went to Columbine.

Review: 5/10 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

REVIEW: Max Payne 3

From the snowy streets of New York, Max gets a bit of sun in Brazil but some things never change.

If you've played Max Payne before you will know that it has always been criticised of style over substance. There's a lot of bullet time shooting, which is it's main appeal, however it's dark film noir-ish story was also what kept it captivating at times. The first game concentrated on him losing his family, the second one about his relationship with another woman and moving on and this third one about what he is exactly moving on to.

The previous games were told as an internal monologue over a comic script, however, 9 years on since Max Payne 2, Rockstar have really blown the doors wide open to make Max Payne 3 a sun soaked shoot fest that never lets up.

Graphically, Payne 3 is phenomenal and the favelas of Sao Paulo are something quite remarkable. The gameplay works, but the bullet time isn't a necessity like it was in the previous games. Also changing guns is often awkward and cumbersome and if you run out of ammo? You might as well use your last bullet to shoot yourself in the head for the same good it will do you. The levels are nice and long and it does take a good 9-10 hours to complete, with a lot of ridiculous action set pieces in between, but still I feel there's a lot that lets it down.

Firstly, I found it often quite repetitive, the one thing that could really break it up from other shooters is the bullet time, but where you would often jump round corners, if you hit anything or hit the floor too soon, it will snap back out, so I often found that it's just easier to run around, find cover and shoot the old fashioned way, thereby making bullet time somewhat pointless. I would sometimes use it to go over cover and do some headshots but that's about it.

There are also a LOT of cutscenes, which I don't usually mind, but I think it could have done with a bit less and a bit more just enjoying the action. The story is quite lame really, we're used to the anti-hero disgruntled cop thing which Payne epitomises but it doesn't feel as authentic as it does before. We're also getting tired of his self-loathing and cheesy statements and the idea of going in gun-ho is nothing new, we're watching a mid-life crisis and it just lacks that edge that there was before.

The plot is about Payne having to run from New Jersey to Brazil and take up a personal security job looking after some rich family we don't care about. They are getting caught up in all the local and global politics and everything goes south real quick. That's about all I could make it, there's some twists and turns but to be honest you're just waiting for the next chance to shoot something.

Overall, this game is a smooth addition to the Payne serious and makes a nice transition from the despair of New York to the heat of Brazil. However, it's hard to feel sorry for a guy who is surrounded by beautiful women in the sun the whole time. There's a reason why Noir works so well in dystopian cities and Payne 3 proves it. An average story, some good graphics and decent but repetitive gameplay makes for a slightly above average experience. It's definitely not unmissable.

Rating: 7/10 

REVIEW: Prometheus

Ridley Scott returns to his Sci-Fi roots in one of the most highly anticipated films this year, but is it all it's cracked up to be?

The initial problem that Scott faces is that he's shot himself in the foot by creating a film in his Alien universe, which got fanboys and the general moviegoing audience very, very excited. There's always high hopes for a Ridley Scott film (often dashed) but this time it really did set a precedent.

So let's begin by saying do not expect this to be an Alien film because it isn't. At all. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, when the film finished I was a bit surprised by the route it had gone down. Rarely was I at the edge of my seat or biting my fingernails, instead I was watching wide eyed and trying to absorb everything - where Alien was simple, Prometheus is hugely and unnecessarily complicated.

This is mainly due to the fact that Damon Lindelof, of Lost fame, is the scribe and a lot of people have been fuming about how he is all ideas and no actual content or context, which I have to agree with. Just because something looks interesting with all different bits, it doesn't mean that when you start putting it together (as people always do) that the result is something you actually like. Prometheus is full of good things, just not necessarily things that work well together.

In case you don't know, the idea is that the film takes place before Alien etc. (I imagine it doesn't even want to include AvP prequel stories!) where a couple of doctors discover a map to a planet where they believe they will meet their makers. As they land on the planet, things start to turn a bit sour. The overarching theme is the idea of the big questions in life, who we are and where we come from, but also a chicken and egg theology that tries it's best to keep some faux-intelligentsia that Lindelof likes to think he's a pro at. Much like Lost, he thinks he understands the audience but he doesn't, he takes advantage of trust and it's something that he will come up against time and again. What I love about the film, I also hate and though Lindelof is full of big ideas, I can't help but feel that he doesn't have the methodology to pull them off.

In any case, the set design and general production is impressive and the 3D iMax that I watched it in was incredible and for that alone, it was definitely worth the watch. However, what was also hugely impressive was the cast. Fassbender proves he is an acting heavyweight by pulling the film together and I would say is the central character to the piece rather than Rapace, who has to put on an English accent (why not just use someone English?). Charlize Theron does her bit but is somewhat useless, as is Idris Elba as the cool pilot and to be honest, everyone else who just become a bit of fodder. Essentially, the acting is great but the characters are not fleshed out at all which is a huge downfall.

Also, looking back, the story kind of makes sense, but not really. There is a lot of plotholes which I'm sure will be widely discussed for a while but it's made up of great set pieces. This isn't really a monster movie, in fact it's not a horror at all, or even a chiller, it's a Sci-Fi film that would rather have a huge orchestral action score than a small, lingering, 'less-is-more' approach that defined Alien. If you're willing to take that onboard, sit through some pretty incredible 3D or if you want to see something that you know you'll enjoy then go to your cinema and see it. But it's not genre-defining, it's not scary, it's not original, it's not Alien, but I liked it nonetheless.

Rating: 7/10