Archive for the ‘Game Rental’ Category

Skyrim – Rock and Scroll

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

skyrim

Bethesda’s latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls saga has arrived, and Skyrim sets this new story around 200 years after the events of predecessor Oblivion. You play one of the Dragonborn; a rare occurrence of a human with the soul of a dragon, that only appears whenever the world is in danger.

So begins your adventure of dragon-slaying, dungeon-crawling, bandit-beating fun that will take you across a map of epic proportions. From the frozen peaks of the mountains, to the luscious greenery that adorns the forests, every corner of the world that is Skyrim feels unique, boasting breathtaking detail and a mind-bending array of intricate touches.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of dungeons, ruins and tombs that fill the world of Skyrim create a grand and immersive setting. Once you’ve completed one dungeon, there always seems to be another to conquer, and each has its own original aesthetic. The gameplay also involves a new, convenient mechanism which means that you will always be sent to places you haven’t already visited, so you will always be encountering new locations and dungeons.

Clearly, dungeons are only one aspect of this truly open-world experience. Within this world you are able to create your own weapons and armour, and adorn your bodily defence with special enchantments to improve your abilities. You can mix potions to strengthen you and your skills or weaken your enemies, as well as hunt animals for the skins and meat to create food with healing properties and even join a number of guilds to perform special tasks. The game’s progression, and that of your character, appears infinite.

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Rage – Don’t Look Back In Anger…

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

_-rage-xbox-360-_1Rage is one of those games that didn’t seem to get much justice when it came to advertisement, but that doesn’t mean it disappoints. Developed by the guys at Id Software (Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein), and produced by Bethesda Softworks (Fallout, Elder Scrolls), this game boasts one of the most famous teams in the games industry, and you can tell that there was a lot of loving attention paid to every aspect of this game.

Now, before I get started, I would recommend anyone playing this game to install it to the hard drive of their console. Standing in at 22GB on 3 disks for the Xbox 360 version (or 8GB per disk on the PS3), it is a huge game, with the graphics making up for most of the size, and you will see why.

The Rage intro does a great job of showing the story so far; an asteroid is on a collision course with earth, and everyone is put into stasis chambers called Arks (Fallout’s vaults anyone?). Straight from the get go you can see how visually beautiful this game is, and my other half thought she was watching the start of some mega-bucks blockbuster. Everything from packs of sweets to mutated bosses has had each detail considered, examined and rendered to perfection. In short, Rage has definitely set a new bar for the standards of video gaming graphics.

There is, as with 99% of games, a little tutorial on the controls (look up, look down, run around in circles, blah blah blah) followed by a little mission to introduce you to the game’s mechanics. The controls are about as straightforward as they come; anyone accustomed to playing FPS games will feel right at home. However, even though there are plenty of areas you will be running and gunning (Rage isn’t another run-of-the-mill cover shooter), this isn’t where Rage truly shines, although this aspect remains great fun. Being a sandbox game, inevitably some areas are limited at first until you do a mission to blow/open up whatever is in your way. As a result, vehicles are a must, and the controls for driving are as responsive as ever, making it easy and entertaining to drive.

Throughout the course of playing the game you will find a lot of influences from the projects that both companies have under their belt, most notably of which are Bethesda’s open-world RPGs. There aren’t any RPG elements within Rage but there is still the option for side quests as well as the main story missions. This means that you can make that little bit more money, enabling you to be more prepared when engaging the main missions. This also means that you won’t be getting bored anytime soon, and will probably be spending a lot of time doing the side quests just to upgrade your guns/armour/vehicles.

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Dead Island – Island Holiday Gone Bad…

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

dead-island-coverAny one of us can remember seeing the appetising trailer for this game almost two years ago; it was beautifully crafted as a non-linear sequence of a little girl’s transformation through death to zombie, before attacking what would appear to be her parents. So began a plethora of rumours and speculation that was the intense hype for Dead Island.

Created by Polish company Techland, most famous for their Call of Juarez series of games, Dead Island can be best described as Dead Rising, Borderlands and Left 4 Dead having a messed up party on a tropical island. Calling it an FPS/RPG/horror survival hybrid would just be too much.

Where to begin? The first thing you’ll see when starting the disc up is the typical intro. Now I would personally recommend watching this, if not for the brief introductions to each character, or the extremely poor, but undeniably amusing Australian accents, then just for the music. Central character Sam B’s sole rap hit Who Do You Voodoo? offers a playful reference to the earliest known mention of a ‘zombie’, as voodoo witch doctors were thought to create mindless slaves using reanimated corpses.

From here you will enter the main menu and upon choosing New Game you will be met by the 4 protagonists; Sam B, Xian, Purna and Logan. Each character has a very different, and quite interesting, backstory. Unfortunately, these stories aren’t explored in the game itself; there aren’t any skeletons in the closet for these guys. The characters’ differences are defined by their strengths, weaknesses and entertaining observational anecdotes. Each character also levels up RPG-style, and with each level comes a point to use in one of three skill trees, and these differ between characters. There is no way to reselect your skills, but just because you’re stronger doesn’t mean things get easier, not a chance! The enemies level up with you, meaning the difficulty can actually increase.

Aesthetically, this game is a breathtaking spectacle; after the typical tutorial you can pretty much go wherever you want, and you are treated to a rendering masterclass as you explore this sinister location and its unwelcome surprises. The zombies themselves have a multi-layer damage system, which means that as you push them further into the eternal rest, they actually show the signs of physical damage – marks from a good old fashion club-beating, vicious slash wounds from your trusty blade and even the complete loss of limbs.

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XBOX Kinect – Move your body

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

xbox-kinect-deal-front2Here at DVD rental, it’s not all about sitting around and watching DVDs, we occasionally have to get up to visit the toilet or make more bags of popcorn, so imagine the shock when we were told to review the Kinect for XBOX 360.

I had a Nintendo Wii from the day it was released and was in awe of the technology that it possessed, I could play tennis, go bowling and swing a baseball bat all from my living room and all just using a small hand held remote and a sensor.  But two things became apparent to me very quickly: the first was that it can be dangerous, my old TV will testify to that as he sits on the scrap heap with his broken screen and Wii controller embedded in it…

And secondly, there was the cheating factor; I soon realised that I could sit on the sofa eating chips and still beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.  This may well be an amazing achievement, but it wasn’t really giving me the fitness that I so desperately craved.

Could there be another way? A way that we couldn’t cheat?  A way that didn’t involve small children throwing big white bricks at TVs?  The answer to this is YES!!

Bill Gates and all of those who work at Microsoft have completely revolutionised the gaming world, by bringing you a console that allows you to play games without using a controller – yes, that’s correct, your body is the controller!  But how?  Kinect uses a sensor to track your body movement, recognise your face and even listen to your voice.  But could you still cheat your way to winning? I was about to find out that the answer to this question is very much NO.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – out now

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Ever since Nintendo unveiled their wireless white wonder to the world (the Wii), practically everybody who saw the infra-red WiiMote control in action at some point thought the same thing: ‘Wouldn’t it be totally sweet if someone made a Star Wars game which allowed you to use the controller as a lightsabre?’

Well, turns out that someone did. The Star Wars ‘Expanded Universe’ – that is, stories set before, beyond and in between the narratives of the six films – is huge. There are hundreds of ancillary novels, comic books and video games set in the Star Wars universe, some of them great (see the Battlefront and the Knights of the Old Republic series’) some of them not so great (Empire at War). The Force Unleashed looks set to neatly slot into the former category.

The action takes place between Episodes III and IV, (so it’s technically Episode 3.241407 or something like that) and see players assuming the mantle of one Galen Marek, the secret apprentice of Darth Vader who is charged with hunting down the remaining Jedi after the Emperor orders their extermination.

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Metal Gear Solid 4 – out now

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Those of us who have fond gaming memories of the original PlayStation will certainly remember Metal Gear Solid, the title which arguably kick started the so-called ‘stealth ’em up’ genre.  Hiding in cardboard boxes, snapping the necks of enemy soldiers, smoking, a labyrinthine plot, this game had it all.  Although the PlayStation 2 sequel, Sons of Liberty, is widely thought to be inferior, the series returned to form with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with its emphasis on camouflage, laying traps in the jungle and hunting for food.  Now in glorious next generation, high definition graphics we have Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and it’s definitely been worth the wait.

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Grand Theft Auto IV – out now

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

This morning, I’ve mown down three pedestrians, stolen a car, torched it, beaten a policeman to death and nicked his gun. Then, I got into a taxi and rode halfway across town before getting out and refusing to pay the fare. The violent exchange which ensued ended with the driver sitting in a slowly growing pool of his own blood. As the feds closed in, I managed to accidentally explode and scatter myself across the pavement with my own rocket launcher, aimed as it was a hair too close to the car I was crouching behind for cover.

Then I jumped in the shower and got ready for work. The above paragraph is not some Patrick Bateman-esque flight of fancy, but a description of a ten-minute early morning blast on Rockstar North’s seminal Grand Theft Auto IV
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Super Smash Bros. Brawl – coming soon

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Whilst its title appears to allude to an almighty bust-up between some tin-skinned aliens over instant mashed potato, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is, of course, the latest instalment in the massively popular Smash Bros. series that first appeared back on the N64 in 1999.

Smash Bros, essentially a light-hearted beat-em-up affair, is something of an exercise in nostalgia; characters from across the Nintendo canon, including A-listers such as Mario, Pikachu and Link, rub shoulders with less well-known heroes and heroines including Ness from Earthbound (a title which never saw the light of day in Europe) and Samus Aran from the Metroid series.
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