Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Who says it's got to be expensive?

So with a string of new releases out soon and the much anticipated Brink having been released a few days ago it seems set to be an expensive period for the avid gamer. At £40 a pop without factoring in the odd gift card, trade in, discount etc we’re going to be pretty strapped for cash for a while. To help get you through this time of cutting down on unimportant things such as food and focus on what’s necessary I shall now render unto you a recent experience I have had which made me see the light, well a light anyway.
            Since Portal 2 I have bought a few games, including the aforementioned Brink, and do you know what I’ve played far and away the most? A game that’s been around for a while and has become something of a phenomenon. A game that is now available on most formats. The most addicting game I’ve ever encountered. Welcome, to Plants VS Zombies.
            Right time to put some context onto why I ended up with this gem. I was at the bottom end of an iTunes card, you know, the point where you’ve not got quite enough to buy another album and you don’t really want to buy individual songs. I decided I’d burn it away on a few app games for my phone, rather than do the sensible thing of just saving it for next time. A friend of mine pointed out that PvZ was currently an astonishing 59p, coupled with the fact that I’d heard of and sort of wanted to try it out for a while I was sold. That dear reader was the worst and best 59p I’ve ever spent. Best because it’s a brilliant little tower defence game that has you (or at least had me) constantly going ‘just one more round, then I’ll stop’. The worst because ever since my phone has been on perpetually low battery and a little part of my brain is telling me to be productive instead of shooting peas at zombies.
            For anyone who hasn’t given it a go I heartily recommend it. It’s easy to pick up and will hook you very quickly with its charming visuals, smooth, simple gameplay and sheer number of unlockable plants. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game like this with such a number of defences at your disposal, before the game cruelly forces you to pick a handful to use for the next round. There are quite a variety of zombies too and every plant and zombie type has a humorous entry in your Almanac so I found myself spending 10 minutes or so just reading through the ones I have in there already before moving on to the next round. I do believe that this game should come with some kind of PEGI symbol, you know the ones I mean, the spider for horror elements, fist for violence and so on. Well an addicting one should be introduced for things like this, perhaps a Tetris block or something.
            I think my point is, in a roundabout way, is to never forget that we don’t have to pay high prices to get great games. Every so often you’ll find a brilliant title for cheap in a pre-owned section of a store, or on eBay or other places on the web. This one just happened to be in my pocket all along and I just needed that small push of ‘It’s only 59p’ to get me over the edge and tap the download button. So keep your eyes peeled for bargains, they’re out there and just waiting to help tide us over until the next big title comes out and we’re down to bare essential rations because hell, video games rule!

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Radar

Right so originally I was going to review Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable for the PSP but I have somewhat underestimated the length of it and overestimated the amount of time I’ve had. With this in mind rather than review the bits I have played, which are quite enjoyable, I’ve decided to give a ‘What I’m looking forward to’ for the coming months.
            First on the radar is the interesting looking L.A Noire from Rockstar. Now I’ve never really enjoyed Rockstar’s games, with the exception of Red Dead: Redemption which was brilliant, but this offering looks very solid. Taking a step back from the over-rated GTA series and throwing us back in time to the late 40’s you take the role of a police investigator. What the game claims is that they have used revolutionary face recognition technology to accurately map actors faces. This, if it works, will enable the player to carefully watch the people to whom you are asking the questions and spot if they’re hiding something or lying to you. As long as the game keeps a suitably film noire feeling and the rest of the investigations are as up to scratch as the interrogations are promised to be this could easily be incredibly good indeed.
            Duke Nukem: Forever is next up after 14 years of development, cancelling, being re-picked up, put on hold and just about everything else that could possibly go wrong in a games pre-release life. Now I have high doubts as to this game actually being good but I will be extremely shocked if it’s not stupidly entertaining. I’m not big on FPS but every now and again you want to blow stuff up with really big guns and that is very much what the Duke will be offering us. So probably not going to be a keeper but surely worth renting or picking up and trading in after what is probably not going to be the longest campaign.
            The follow up to the best superhero game ever to be released, Batman Arkham City, is out in October and if you’re not excited you clearly haven’t seen the trailer. If this is the case there will be a link at the bottom of this for any trailers so there’s no excuse. I won’t say much about this one only that it’s going to be phenomenal if it’s even half as good as it looks or Batman Arkham Asylum was.
            Dead Island is one I’ve had my eye on for some time and although I’m looking forward to it recent screenshots have put a degree of worry in with the excitement. I am speaking of what looks like a huge, straight jacketed ‘tank’ enemy that looks for all the world like a ‘dodge out the way so it runs into a wall and reveals a huge weak point on it’s back’ sort of thing. As long as this is kept to a minimum and the game doesn’t give you enough ammo to supply a military detachment (I’m looking at YOU Resident Evil 5) this could be a stunning survival horror. It’s more likely to be Left 4 Dead Tropical Edition but I live in hope that it can be the game it should, surviving zombie hordes whilst trying to escape a tropical island without sinking into a slaughterfest, as enjoyable as those are we’ve got plenty and this could be such a good survival horror! On a side not the trailer for this is incredible but does contain images that people may find upsetting.
             I realise now that there are an awful lot of games I’m looking forward to this year so I’m going to wrap this up with the one I’m dying to play more than any other. Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution looks eye meltingly awesome. The first game is one of the best games ever made and this instalment looks like it’s going to pick up the torch from Invisible War, the first sequel that was less than stellar, and do its Grandfather proud. Fusing RPG and FPS is difficult to do to keep fans of both happy and Deus Ex, along with Fallout, does it incredibly well. Using a combination of firearms and body modifications, including a plethora of attachments for your robotic arms, you will undoubtedly fight, stealth and explore your way through a complex conspiracy. The game doesn’t force you down one path and there are almost always multiple ways of getting around the obstacles or approaching the situation in cunning, or indeed not so cunning, ways. Of everything else that will be released this year Human Revolution is the only one which stands a chance of taking ‘Game of the Year’ awards away from Portal 2, strong words indeed given the strength of the line-up we have to look forward to this year.