Archive for the ‘Sandbox’ Category

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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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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