Friday, 14 November 2014

Alien Isolation: First Impressions

The game I’m looking at this week comes from a sci-fi series that everyone is familiar with…not unless you’ve lived in a cave on a remote island for the last four decades with bees in your ears.
Anyway enough about bees. The game I’m looking at this week is Alien Isolation. I still haven’t finished this yet so I’m going to be giving a rare first impressions review of it instead. 

Basically the story is set 15 years after the events of the original film. You play Amanda Ripley (Ripley’s grown-up daughter) who is sent to a distant space station to collect the flight recorder of her mother’s missing ship, the Nostromo. However, when you arrive it quickly becomes apparent that something is very wrong on the station. The game then becomes a race to retrieve the flight recorded and escape with your life before the alien gets you. 

Alien Isolation is genuinely terrifying. You cannot kill the alien, regardless of whatever new goodies you find as your progress. You must be quiet and you must be sneaky at all times while trying to work your way around a predominantly dark environment and also get by rogue androids - the Working Joes - and jumpy, armed survivors. The sounds are well timed, the jump scares are spot on and the randomness of the alien’s appearance will keep you on edge. 

Tune in soon to get my full review of the game.

Monday, 3 November 2014

To the Front Line: Fury Movie Review

Not for the faint hearted, Fury is full on with blood, death and gore from the opening credits. Starring Brad Pitt, it tells the story of a group of ordinary soldiers on the front line in Germany in April 1945, just months before the end of the Second World War. 

The movie opens with Staff Sergeant Don Collier (Pitt) having to come to terms with his ill-equipped and ill-prepared replacement assistant driver and gunner after his original crew member is killed in battle. The replacement is Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a typist who has never even been inside a tank before. 

The film is much a story about Norman becoming the soldier he’s expected to be and the rest of the crew coming to accept him in some of the most terrifying and difficult environments anyone could ever face. I felt the movie tried hard with this but it did struggle. There is a lot of raw emotion and great acting, especially from Pitt and Lerman. Pitt is exceptional as the Sergeant on the verge of breaking down but struggling to keep it together for his crew. 

However, the character development is a little paltry despite some good performances and is easily overshadowed by the war itself. The fight scenes are gripping viewing, brutal, relentless and bloody; a believable testament to the realities of war. The sets are also very impressive. Purely judging this as a war film, Fury is a great two hour flick. 

It gets 8/10.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Stick em up: Heavy Bullets Review

This week I have been playing the slightly trippy first person maze shooter that is Heavy Bullets. The game premise is simple enough. Armed with a gun you must make your way safely through eight monster-infested levels to the finish. 

While it sounds easy you have a limited number of bullets and very limited health. If you die at any point you must restart from the first level again. If you think practising the levels and learning where all the enemies are will help you succeed, think again. The levels change every time you play, adding a lot of re-playability to Heavy Bullets. 

The graphics themselves have a retro look, like an early 90s 3D computer game. However, the corridors, enemies and elements are all garish and movement is much more fluid than those found in the old PC games Heavy Bullets pays homage to. 
Weapons are available and you can deposit cash into a bank and it will be available to you even if you die and start again. If you save up a lot of cash and buy weapons and health it can make the game a lot easier.

For a simple game with simple sound effects and graphics, Heavy Bullets is quite addictive.
It is available on Steam.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Blast Them All to Hell: World of Tanks Review

Pick up your weapons and rations because this week we’re heading to the battlefield to take a look at free-to-play video game, World of Tanks. 

This war game is available on the Xbox 360, the PC and through iOS. As you can probably hazard from the title, this game is based on the military doom bringers. 

World of Tanks is an online multiplayer where players are split into teams and must defeat all of their opponents to win. There are a few different types of game but generally you win by doing the above. 

The more you play, the more experience points and silver you earn which can be spent on upgrading your fleet of tanks to better ones or by improving their armour and guns. There are some upgrades you can only buy with real cash but given this is a free game no player can really turn their nose up at it. You can play perfectly happily though without ever having to spend a penny. 

Game play wise the controls are straight forward. You use your joysticks to move and turn the vehicle and the right trigger (on the Xbox 360 controller) to fire. Moving the tanks forward is easy enough but moving backwards and turning in reverse can be difficult. It is also worth remembering that how fast you can move, how well armoured and how much damage you cause all depend on which tank you are driving and what upgrades it carries. 

The game can be very frustrating to begin with as you will get blown up a lot, but once you start acquiring better death machines and become more tactful in how you play, it does become a lot more fun. 

Upgrading the tanks can be confusing to those who know little about the vehicles (like myself) as they are modelled off their real world counterparts and it is hard to decide at times what to upgrade to and what to avoid all together. Just because some tanks are higher level than the ones you may have does not necessarily mean they are any good. If you are going to upgrade your tanks, I would take advice from more seasoned players or do your research online.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hit the Dirt: Trials Fusion Game Review

Trials Fusion is the latest game to come out of the Ubisoft stable of the dirt bike racing series. Despite being set in a futuristic environment and a move to the next gen consoles, the core game play mechanics are still there. 

For the uninitiated, Trials is a racing game for one or more players on dirt bikes. While the game is 3D it plays as a side scroller, unlike other typical racing games where the camera is usually angled behind the vehicle of each player. 

The single player mode is enjoyable with a variety of different tracks. 

However, the game does begin to get very frustrating in the later stages as you must perform difficult tricks to progress over ever increasingly difficult obstacles. You can go without doing these stages but avoiding them means you cannot unlock and play the later tracks. I felt the trick reliance on later tracks was too heavy and it reaches a point when playing that the game’s simple racing style fun is replaced only by seething frustration.

There’s no doubt there will be people out there who have mastered the tricks and completed these stages but I found the monotony of doing the same tracks repeatedly to achieve this level too much personally. 

On the other hand, the multiplayer aspect of the game is just as good as it predecessors. It’s fun to watch the bikers hit obstacles, fail tricks and find ways to kill themselves at the end of each stage. With its simple controls it is a good game to play with the family or friends, if not as cute as Mario Kart. 

Track Creator also allows you to build your own tracks as well as play others. While it can be a lot of fun the internet is plagued with broken ones. These can be hilarious a lot of the time but I would not recommend playing them if you are a serious racer.