Reviewed by Lewis

Geeky games reviews and other fun things

Dead Space 2 Review

This is a review that I wrote a while back for reviewedonline.co.uk 

Dead Space 2 is one of my all-time favourite games and this is one of my best reviews (even if I do say so myself).

Just when it felt safe to switch on your console again, Isaac is back, and he’s carving his way through another Necromorph outbreak. Dead Space 2 picks up three years after it’s predecessor, and finds our plucky, and very disturbed hero neck deep in reanimated, murderous corpses. The popular gameplay of strategic dismemberment has been retained from the first game, so it will feel very familiar, however there have been some inspired new additions to the ranks of the undead, watch out for the stalkers (the clue is in the name).

Isaac’s no errand boy in this one, there is an actual sense of the engineer hiding behind the plasma cutter. While the game play is no great improvement on the original, it’s hard to argue with the powerhouse that was Dead Space. There are many genuine, standout moments, including the emergency ejection sequence when Isaac needs to get back to the fight in a hurry.

Visceral Games have obviously paid attention to the criticism of their audience, as within in the first 30-minutes you see Isaac’s face and hear his dulcet tones, and then see him flee in terror.

The survivalist element is downplayed somewhat, in favor of giving Isaac more firepower and an improved right hook that floors a rampaging necromorph. There is also a very strong psychological element, voices whisper Isaac’s name from the shadows and the talon-tipped corpses remain just out of sight as they stalk you in darkness. While this was present in the original it has been amped up to a whole new level.

New weapons and equipment have been added to the inventory, these allow for different strategies, and give Isaac the firepower he needs to survive. Some old favorites have been retained, including the ever-reliable plasma cutter and the industrial saw ripper.

One of the better additions of the game is the inclusion of an online multiplayer. While it suffers from some connectivity issues, and the game types are limited, the team-based showdowns are very enjoyable, and make a welcome addition to an already tremendous game.

Dead Space 2 does what every good sequel should do, the action is tense, the story is immersive, and draws from the original. Visceral and EA have outdone themselves. Be prepared to very creeped out.

Issac Vs a Necromorph

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I do love Calvin and Hobbes!

Dog with the blog!

Quite like Calvin, my human sidekick Calvy (pompously named after the cult child) misses a filter between his brain and mouth 🙂 Bill Waterson, the creator of the iconic comic strip, once quipped, “Hobbes has the patient dignity and common sense of most animals I’ve met. Like Calvin, I often prefer the company of animals to people, and Hobbes is my idea of an ideal friend”.

How true!
For those of you who haven’t heard of Calvin & Hobbes, here are the comic strips.

Calvin’s rambunctious character and an intelligence quotient which is clearly superlative for a six year old along with Hobbes wisdom made for a great read. Though frequently depicted in the strip as a selfish kid, Calvin does exhibit a deeply caring side for fauna and flora. He often remarks on the pettiness of humans and envies the quiet dignity of animal life.  The wonderful…

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An Introduction to Warhammer 40,000

With the release of the Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and Ultramarines: Warhammer 40,000 movie I thought I would be a good idea to give my readers an introduction to the novels of the 40K universe.

Warhammer 40K novels have a reputation of being too obscure or inaccessible, there is such a rich and vast back-story (spanning well over 10,000 years) from the start of the Horus Heresy, which is on the New York bestseller list to Cain’s Last Stand that is set towards the end of the 41-century. It can be hard to know where to start.

Ciaphas Cain’s novels are a great place to start.

The Chronicles of Ciaphas Cain tells the story of The Hero of The Imperium and is trusty aid Jorgen and their illustrious career battling the Emperor’s enemies, or at least Jurgen does the fighting, Cain cowers behind cover and drinks a lot of tea, a true hero.

Sandy Mitchell the author of the Ciaphas Cain novels has help make Warhammer 40,000 accessible. The roguish Anti-hero, he created in Ciaphas Cain the Hero of the Imperium has proved that Warhammer 40k can be exciting, compelling and above all amusing.

Mitchell has written seven Ciaphas Cain Novels to date, as well as several other short stories some featuring Cain while others don’t. It is his Cain novels that have made him a fan favorite and also marked his work as a very compelling and readable introduction to the Warhammer 40k universe.

Mitchell has proved that it is possible to write a funny and thrilling 40k novel; in fact he has done so several times. So if you want to start reading Warhammer 40K then given Cain a go, you can buy the first three novels in the Hero of the Imperium omnibus.

His writing style is amusing, and idiosyncratic and yet while he may not write in the most direct way, his style complements Cain’s character. The novels, set in 1st person, recount Cain’s commission as a Commissar (discipline and political officer) in the Imperial Guard. They are told in a style much like an old veteran who wishes to set the record straight. Mitchell tells Cain’s story, he uses his rambling style to create a sense of sympathy between the reader and Cain, no easy feat considering Cain’s loose morals.

Luck and a Whole lot of Sarcasm

Max Payne 3 Review

Max Payne, the quintessential self-loathing anti-hero is back and more badass than ever. As Max Payne 3 begins you see Max standing over a bleeding man aiming a rather large gun at some poor shmuck’s head. Cut to a decadent party in Brazil, where our plucky hero still has a full head of hair and has no idea why he is at this shindig when he doesn’t even speak their language.

Not to worry soon plenty of armed thugs burst in and give you plenty to shoot at. The third installment, and the first to grace next generation consoles marks a departure from the previous two which followed a film-noir style and were set exclusively in snowy New Jersey.

The gun-play elements, while very similar to the previous games have been given a good polish, including the use of duel-wielding which allows you to use any two, one handed weapons in concert, which makes for a great deal of variety in gameplay.

Plenty of elements have been retained including the trademarked bullet-time and bullet dodge abilities. These allow you to get the drop on the hordes of enemies and their many, many guns. One of the new elements to be introduced is the last stand ability, allowing Max to survive a potentially fatal gunshot wound if he can shoot and kill the attacker in time.

The Max Payne series has always been marked as incredibly cinematic, and ultra-violent, with lots of vice, conspiracy and murder thrown into the batch, this one is no different, in fact it takes it up a notch. This is the first Max Payne to include the now almost obligatory online multiplayer. Not to say this is not a welcome addition as it gives the game longer playability even if it is a somewhat by-the-numbers class based affair.

Max Payne 3 is an entertaining, stylish, and brutal 3rd person shooter that packs plenty of punch in its gameplay and plot. It is well worth your time assuming you can handle Max’s incredibly damaged personality.

Batman: Arkham City Review

One of the most highly anticipated games of the year (2011) and without a doubt the best comic book video game to date. After the events of Arkham Asylum, Gotham’s resident lunatics led by the Joker are causing havoc in Arkham City, a closed off section of Gotham.

The story begins with Bruce Wayne walking into Arkham City in chains, why he’s there and just why the people of Gotham have decided to house a lunatic asylum in the middle of their city is a mystery at this point.

The game gets right into the action with plenty of old enemies making an appearance. Without giving too much away, if there were any enemies that you missed battling in the first game, then you’ll be in for a treat with this one.

For an open-world game the map is a tad small, but the shear brilliance of the plot and the game play more than make up for this.

The story borrows inspiration from some of the best Batman story arcs, including Cataclysm, No Man’s Land, Hush and The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul. The plot also strikes out in it own, and it keeps you guessing right through to the end.

There is plenty of freedom and loads of side-quests to sink your teeth into. So done the cape and cowl, equip your batarangs and face the deadliest villains Gotham has to offer. This is the Batman game we’ve all been waiting for.

Fear The Darkness … 2

(Spoiler Warning, but the trailer’s worth it)

Check your weapons, and turn out the lights it’s time to take your place as the demon infested head of New York’s most powerful crime family. You pick up as Jackie Estacardo, the hitman turned demon host in this 1st person shooter sequel. The story picks up five years after the events of the first game, no spoilers here; I wholeheartedly recommend that you play the original if you haven’t already.

Jackie is now sitting pretty as the crime boss but shock and horror, he soon gets attacked by some very interesting enemies. The joy as you bring The Darkness powers to bear on your attackers never gets old, however the antiquated points for abilities system does.

The darkness abilities you unlock do go someway to mitigating this let down. My personal favorite was gun channeling, allowing you to infuse your guns with demon energy, boosting power and conserving ammo in one go. Combine that with being able to see and shoot through walls and you will cackle with delight as your enemies fall before you.

The Darkness 2 as made a big deal about ‘quad wielding’, being able to fire two guns and simultaneously use your two demon arms to decimate your foes. This is great fun don’t get me wrong, however the effect isn’t quite as varied from normal dual wielding, as I would have liked. Still the demon arms make tearing through the levels destroying everything and everyone in sight loads of fun.

While the game plays like a standard, if demon-possessed, 1st shooter, there is an underlying story, continuing on from the first game that should keep people interested. This is especially true for fans of the series.

On the whole this game was twisted, gruesome and full of moral ambiguity. Essentially it’s a delight.

For those who haven’t played the first game, here’s a You Tube clip that should highlight why you really should play it.

Check this out

Sorry for the delay to normal service. I have been working on a sister blog to this one, it’s about a burlesque and lingerie fashion show I went to. Lots of decadent and debauched pictures here’s the link: http://dancewithfireandice.wordpress.com/

Just to whet your appetite

Update on the search

Hi Fellow Travelers

While I’m sure all of my dedicated readers will hate me for interrupting the video games reviews, I thought an update on my ongoing job search was in order. Remember how I said this blog was about maintaining my writing skills while I look for a job…no, well it is?

I’ve just had a rather positive and career affirming chat with Simon Townsend, the Head of Marketing Recruitment over at Certus Marketing Recruitment, a lovely guy who has already started putting me forward for some very exciting roles. Not to worry this blog won’t disappear if and when I get myself a decent job, nope I love the sound of my own voice far too much to let that happen.

Anyway, normal service resumes now.

WoW Revisited

With World of Warcraft going free to play I have decided to revisit Azeroth, and test my mettle against the hardiest bunch of kids to ever wield a keyboard and a broadband connection.

With over 10 millions players worldwide, this alone marks WoW as a powerhouse, a true force to be reckoned with, and yet it’s vast appeal is in part wherein lies the problem.

I have been a subscriber/player of wow 3 times on and off, once when I was at university, due to a near total lack of desire to do my reading or go outside. Again when I left university and found fairly gainful employment and now.

The first two times I paid and played, I was hooked for the first 20-30 levels, investing huge amounts of time and energy into making my character considerable richer than myself. And yet each time I found myself hopelessly drawn in, and also rather bored.

Going back to the game and restarting from scratch, meant that I very quickly leveled up my shiny new Dwarf Warrior character and that I knew where to find my professions as well.  This gave me an advantage so I quickly reached the level 20 cap for the starter edition.

The rather simplistic and occasionally tedious game-play looses its shine after awhile and yet you still find yourself playing until the early hours of the morning.

But there’s more to WoW than the game play, the brilliant social element of it makes me wonder why more Facebook users don’t get their social media fixes mixed with a healthy(ish) dose of raiding. There genuine moments of social interact, high-level characters stopping what they are doing just to help a low-level guild member who is having trouble with their quest.

All that said WoW is awesome. Without it so many video games would not strive to push the boundaries of online play. So I whole-heartily suggest that you give World of Warcraft a go. It’s free to play for the first twenty levels, and if you aren’t hooked then I’m a level 5 Orc Paladin (I’m not).

How To Train Your Dragon

How to Train your Dragon is the story of Hiccup the hapless wannabe dragon slayer who befriends a young dragon and tries to, yep you guessed it, train him up. This family-friendly animated adventure has a great comedy cast and a fun, engaging story.

The film is funny, heartwarming and well rounded enough to appeal to adults and children alike, It’s the perfect film for a quiet Sunday afternoon when you want to keep the kids occupied, or if you are just looking for an charming, whimsical story of Vikings and dragons learning to get along.

The voice attacking is top notch, Gerard Butler plays the hulking Viking warrior to perfection, and Jay Baruchel as Hiccup is a convincing and sympathetic hero. There are some genuine edge of your seat moments when you watch the skinny, unassuming Hiccup face off with rather miffed fire breathing beastie. Girls will find a positive character in Astrid the rough-tough apprentice slayer, voiced by Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera.

How to Train Your Dragon is fun for the whole family with a sense of humor that will appeal to kids, with plenty of laugh out loud moments and adults who will find the whole film amusing, kind and carrying a moral worthy of any Aesop’s Fable.

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