Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mafias, dirty rallying and storms of bullets!

Well hello there readers! E3 has recently took place and there are many cool announcements! SSX, Bioshock Infinite, Forza 4, Halo 4, Gears of War 3, Far Cry 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 etc. Looking forward to playing a lot of these games over the next year! I've also been playing quite a few games lately such as LA Noire; which I'm still playing through, so a review for that will be in a later post.

Mafia II

I’ll begin with Mafia 2 this time. I bought this game off the “Games on Demand” feature on my Xbox 360 at a very cheap price. I actually didn't have much hype for this game, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable playthrough!

The game sets off right at the end of WW2, your character which is of Italian descent is sent to fight in Sicilia as a US soldier.  This level gets you introduced to how the shooting mechanics work, and the surprise for me here is how well they worked! The gun feeling is heavy and cover mechanics are actually very good. The last weapon you get your hands on in this level is the mighty German MG42, which gives a very entertaining shootout!

The game continues to a snowy New York at Christmas and follows our main character as he returns home from war. From here you are introduced to an old friend who again introduces you to a mafia and this is your way into the games main theme. Mafia 2 takes you through the 40’s and takes a time jump to the 50’s to continue in a summer-filled New York. This leap is used well and gives a change in cars, style and music in the game. This jump from era to era is fantastic and gives the game a whole new life halfway through.

Mafia 2 seems like a traditional free-roam game like the GTA games but actually only lets you do this in the driving parts. Mainly you are following a story and doing various chapters in the story with a present motive for doing so. I actually liked this because it gave the game a nice flow and the story is excellently presented through really good voiceacting and well-made cutscenes. It’s like watching a typical mafia movie!

The chapters in the game are varied, and with such a good shooting mechanic that lies behind the action in the game plays really well. There is nothing more entertaining than ending in classic tommygun shootout, while shouting out Italian American remarks and shooting down gang rivals!

The game length is about right, the gameplay is very good (that’s the driving included) and the graphics look stunning for a game of such scale. I would maybe have liked the city to have more shops and such to make it more believable and actually even more shoot outs, but without doubt I really recommend this game if you like a good mafia movie and enjoy GTA type of games.



Dirt 3

Next up is Dirt 3. I got to start out by saying I've always loved Codemasters racing games. They may not always be the best at what they do, but they always give you really action-packed and at-the-edge-of-your-seat racing experience. Dirt is no exception.

As usual the driving in Dirt feels incredible and even more so with a racing wheel. You feel like a pro rally driver as you try to cut around each bend at alarming speeds through woodland and snow. New for this game are varied weather conditions, night races, rain and snowy tracks. There is also a huge focus on the Gymkhana events which have become very popular through rally driver Ken Block on Youtube. Personally I’m mostly interested in the classic rally stages. Herein lays my concern with Dirt 3.

You see with Dirt 2 the game became Americanised to suit a wider audience. The focus on long rally tracks in Dirt 1, got focused too far more truck, buggy and rallycross events. While the rallycross events in Dirt 2 actually were more of a show and spectacular than in Dirt 3’s more gritty look, the focus on classic rally was abandoned. There were only four rally stages and I hoped for more in Dirt 3. There are actually only four rally locations once again in Dirt 3 and the fact I need to participate in so many other type of events is really annoying.

Presentation wise Dirt 3 has gone for a more realistic and gritty look which really suits the rally stages, but not so much the rallycross and truck/buggy events. They have returned from the 3D interactive menus in Dirt 2 to a more menu orientated style in Dirt 1. However they are trying to keep the feeling of you being in a team with these really annoying voices you can’t skip in the menus. But why?! At least Dirt 2 made you feel like you had a camper van in rallyteam and had pictures of real life competitors and you feel like you were part of something. Either go for menustyle like Dirt 1 or full teamstyle in Dirt 2 Codemasters, don’t end in the annoying middle!

Technically Dirt 3 is amazing, just like the other Dirt games they are probably some of the best looking racers this generation. The nature in Dirt 3 looks spectacular and the lighting looks so good. The feeling of cars is spot on and may not be the most realistic but at least they are really fun to drive. All in all, one of this year’s best racers, but I would like much more classic rally next time.




My last review this time is Bulletstorm from Epic, the makers behind Gears of War. The game is a FPS shooter but is based around a fairly innovate idea. Unlike other FPS games Bulletstorm is all about killing your enemies in spectacular ways. To help you do this you have the ability to kick and pull your enemies around with a sort of gravity whip. The levels are also designed so that they contain loads of spikes, sharp edges and explosive items to throw helpless enemies into.  The more spectacular way you kill them the more points you are awarded, points again are used to upgrade weapons.

My first testing of Bulletstom was a rather confusing demo and I was left kind of unimpressed, however the main game eases you much better into the game mechanics. The learning curve is very good and you are introduced to new elements at a pace that never feels like it’s loading to much new information on you. At first the game plays like an ordinary shooter, then it introduces you to the physical elements like throwing and kicking enemies. Then again it adds the skill point system, and from here you start getting creative with your skills on your own.

Storywise Bulletstorm is very simple;  it’s very over-the-top and constantly action filled. The dialogue is rough and crude, so is the main character attitude. It opens way for some hilarious comments and fits the crazy style of the game. The characters you meet along the way are also very distinct in their ways and some of the arguments between the characters suit the style of the game well. You won’t be blown away by anything scriptwise, but then again a game like this doesn’t demand a deep story.

Technically Bulletstorm is spectacular, the graphics are some of the most amazing I’ve seen this generation. The game is running on the newest Unreal technology, Unreal Engine 3.5 so it should look good! The environments have an enormous scale to them with amazing lighting without actually being so large, the backdrops make them look it, but the actually playing space is rather normal path-based stuff. I love how the planet the game takes place on has some really spectacular design.  It’s has this Mediterranean look with a pink sky, beaches, light blue water, palms and added to that a really modern design on buildings. I guarantee you’ll need to stop up more than once just to look at how beautiful this game really is!

All in all I really enjoyed Bulletstorm in a light-hearted way; the story and dialogue is witty, the gameplay is very fun to play and makes you play the game in a very different fashion from ordinary FPS games with it skill points system and of course it look amazing. It hardly shakes the gaming world with innovations, could have lasted longer and actually made you appreciate the environment more but it does what it says it will do very well.



Until next time have a nice summer!