Staying on the PS3, one game I was particularly looking forward to after sampling it at PlayStation Access was MotorStorm: Apocalypse. As I spent more time with it, however, my anticipation gradually turned to dejection, as it became evident that most of the changes made for this instalment were not for the better.
I’ve heard a couple of different people claim that 2011 was the year that video games ‘finally’ overtook movies in terms of quality. While I haven’t seen enough movies this year - or even played enough games - to agree with that statement, there is no arguing that we’ve been treated to some absolute quality titles these past twelve months, across all the current gaming platforms.
Do I hate Burnout Paradise?
If I could have gone back to March 2008 and stopped myself from buying the game, would I have?
That’s the question I want to be able to answer at the end of all this. Along with “How long until Nic comes knocking at my door with a signed copy of the game in one hand and a knuckleduster in the other?”
So, last time I made it perfectly clear what it was about Paradise that left me feeling frustrated. You might think I simply traded the game back in the same week I bought it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t. I stuck it out. Not only did I make it all the way to the end credits, Paradise was actually the first PS3 game that I obtained a Platinum trophy in.
Yep, for all the faults it had, there were some things about Burnout Paradise that kept me coming back, that made it a justifiable purchase. Shocking, I know.
I’ve been playing through Halo: Reach’s campaign again recently, mainly to grab some more Achievements but also because I really liked it the first time through.
I think it might be the first game (at least since the Ratchet & Clank days on PS2) that I’ve enjoyed the second time around more than the first time. Sure, I know what’s going to happen, but without worrying how things are going to end, I’m actually picking up a lot more on the story’s smaller details. I could even see myself playing through it a third time.
I don’t often replay campaigns these days, so my hat’s off to you, Bungie, for making Halo: Reach so compelling.
Kind of makes me feel guilty, then, that I just ordered a new PS3. Sorry, Reach. You may be brilliant, but you can’t make me forget my roots!
“Take me down to the paradise city
Where a once great game is now a tad shitty
Oh, won’t you please take me ho-oh-ome?”
A new generation of hardware drives innovation, and in turn, innovation drives the gaming industry. As the latest line of consoles take their first steps, it is at this stage that we often find the titles that define them, and more often than not these titles can alter the course of the industry. Halo, a launch title for the Xbox, created a new blueprint for the first-person shooter genre. Grand Theft Auto III, released almost a year after the launch of the PS2, created the popular sandbox genre. Gears of War, the game that brought the Xbox 360 to prominence, popularized the stop-and-pop cover system that would serve as the foundation for many third-person action games to come.
I bring this up because I can’t blame Criterion for trying to innovate the Burnout franchise with their first game developed solely for seventh-generation hardware. But in no way is it in the same league as the titles I just mentioned. It’s enough of a high profile and financially safe franchise that others like it could have followed its lead, but I didn’t see it happening then, and three and a half years later I certainly don’t see it happening now.
I’m fairly outnumbered in this opinion though; critics loved Burnout Paradise. So did many fans of the series. Last time I checked, Nic still regards it as one of his favourite games of all time. Not just racing games. Games, period.
So what’s my beef with it? No, Burnout Paradise did not kill my father or touch me as a child. In my opinion, all of Paradise’s flaws can be traced back to one single aspect of the game’s design.
The house that Bill built has wrapped up its E3 keynote; announcements were made, trailers were shown, demos were demonstrated. Predictably, Kinect featured heavily, and much noise was made about exclusive franchises like Gears of War and Mass Effect. We watched the whole thing on livestream, here’s what we thought of the most significant showcases.
Exams are over! Not happy with all of them, but fingers are crossed. At last, regular updates can resume! The positively scrumptious-looking L.A. Noire comes out this Friday, although I won’t have a 360 to play it on until next week when I go back home. And with the PSN now back online, maybe we’ll finally get round to playtesting those Portal 2 features.
To get back into the swing of things, I had some hands-on time with two recently released titles at the HMV Gamerbase, along with my future flatmate Caithan. Those two titles were…
WARNING: This article contains major spoilers pertaining to the plot of Portal.
The last thing you’d expect to set the gaming world on fire is a puzzle game. And that’s exactly why no-one expected anything of Portal.
Valve has one of those admirable reputations as a games developer in that they have never made a bad game. Heck, they’ve never even made a good game. With Valve, you expect nothing but excellence. Which is why, in retrospect, perhaps we should have expected more of Portal. We should have known that Valve would take what we thought would just be a bunch of lifeless, if inventive, portal-based puzzles and create not only one of the best stories ever written in gaming, but also one of gaming’s most memorable villains.
The guiding voice of GlaDOS and the brightly lit offices visible from each testing area gave us the initial impression that we were simply part of some futuristic science experiment. But then the experiment finished. GlaDOS had no further use for us. The excitement of finishing what we thought was the last puzzle quickly turned to horror as we rounded the corner and came face-to-face with the incinerator. Upon our narrow escape, we left the boundaries of the testing area and suddenly found ourselves exploring Aperture Science’s seedy underbelly. Those brightly lit offices? Completely deserted. Scrawlings of a former employee gone mad were left written on the walls, insisting that the cake we had been promised as our reward for completing the tests was a hoax. That final confrontation with GlaDOS herself all but confirmed that Aperture was no longer the pristine, professional establishment it had been made out to be, but in reality had long been forsaken, with nothing but a neurotoxin-obsessed AI left to run the place.
Portal was a complete breath of fresh air that no-one saw coming, both in terms of gameplay and story. And that was what cemented it as one of the most memorable games ever.
I’ve been playing a lot of NBA 2K11 recently (that’s basketball, for those not in the know). Annual sports instalments generally tend to skimp on reimagination in favour of just polishing the previous year’s product, but this year 2K11 astonished critics and fans of the sport alike with its sheer breadth of content and unmatched presentation. The fact that many are calling 2K11 ‘the best sports game of the current generation’ seems appropiate considering ‘His Airness’ Michael Jordan is on the cover.
With a full season mode, Jordan challenges, My Player mode and arcade-style Blacktop games, plus dozens of teams to play as and master, it goes without saying that to simply review it would require a major commitment, and with the uni workload starting to pile up, sadly that’s something I don’t have the time for. Plus, I realise I’ll be waving goodbye to half our audience the moment I try to explain what a defensive three-second violation is. So, for the three of you who care, here’s a brief, jargon-free summary.