Sunday, 28 February 2016

Gaming Buying Guide: The PlayStation 2.


By Sam Coles:

This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while whether the console is new old. I wanted to do some buying guides how this works is that I will go through different models, accessories and games that I recommend to play on said system. First I’m going through one of my favourite consoles of all time the PlayStation 2.
Hardware

PlayStation 2 Fat:

This was originally released in Japan in the year 2000 and this model is very common and you’ll find it in retro stores, charity shops and car boot sales a lot. It’s not very expensive and it’s very common. The problem with this model is that it’s very bulky and not the most attractive looking piece of hardware on the market. Another con about this model is that the lasers that read disc will go out in a sneaky way, what I mean by this is that it will read most discs, but it won’t read the blue and duel layer discs and eventually it won’t read anything. This model is also very loud because it has a huge fan which is a dust collector so you’ll need to clean it regularly.

PlayStation 2 Slim:

This is the model I would highly recommend because for starters it’s a smaller console which doesn’t take up too much room. This model is very quiet as well so it doesn’t drown out the sound of the game that you’re playing. This is also common and you can find it for around £10-£15 so it won’t break the bank. If you want to save on space and don’t want a PS2 that makes too much noise get this one, plus this last longer because the lasers and lens are sturdier.

Accessories

Memory Cards:

Remember this was a time before hard drives were a thing in consoles (except of the original Xbox) so you’ll need a memory card. These are extremely cheap and would recommend buying a stack of them because they generally cost about 50p in retro stores depending on the size, they can range from 8MB to the third party ones that are 128MB. Also remember the PlayStation 2 is backwards compatibly with PS1 games, but you will need a PS1 memory card to save games because the system is booted in that operating system of the original PlayStation.

Controllers:

Well if you’re familiar with the PS2 you know about the Dualshock 2 which are very common and are great, however test the controllers before you buy them because the connectors have a habit of wearing down over time and sometimes it will disconnect when you move it in a certain way. There is an alternative with a third party controller which is the Logitech wireless which is great if you don’t want to faff about with wires.

Multitap:

The thing you have to remember the PlayStation 2 still stuck to the tradition two controller ports which is very odd considering the GameCube and Xbox have four ports. There is a solution for this and that is in the form of the multitap if you want to play games like Time Splitters four players on the system. You’ll need to buy different versions of it because they are not universal for both models of the PS2 so keep that in mind when you’re buying one.

Recommended Games

Grand Theft Auto III-San Andreas:

If you have this system you’ll need this trilogy, what can I say that hasn’t already been said they set the standard of how open world games are made even to this day. It’s great to see the evolution of the GTA games from the humble beginning in 3D with GTA III to the massive open world of San Andreas.

Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3:

Metal Gear Solid set the standard of cinematic story telling in video games along with great stealth action. If you know me personally or on Twitter you know that I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid series and it’s in my top 3 in terms of favourite game series. These two games are great with over the top characters and a plot that will completely mess with your mind. So if you want an emotional rollercoaster of a ride of a plot then pick up these games.

Resident Evil 4:

This game was originally a GameCube exclusive part of the Capcom five where they released five games on the GameCube exclusively. That deal fell through and now you can get it on every system under the sun, I prefer the PS2 version because I just like the controls more. This was a radical change from the Resident Evil formula because it deviated from the fixed camera angles and went with a third person over the shoulder perspective which influenced games like Gears of War.

Mortal Kombat - Shaolin Monks:

This game came out of nowhere because it wasn’t a fighting game it’s was an adventure game in the same vein of God of War, but set in the Mortal Kombat Universe. You’ll travel through the dark and morbid world of Outworld killing enemies in a brutal fashion. It’s more fun when you get a friend to play because you can perform some devastating combos.

Medal of Honour – Frontline:

This was the console’s answer to the fantastic Medal of Honour Allied Assault on the PC and Frontline is just as good. The sound design has to be complemented because the guns and explosions have grunt and meat to them and sound like they do damage especially the sniper rifle and shotgun. The animations still hold up today because the enemies react were they get shot so they will hold their hip or hop on one toe when they’re shot in the foot.


Well there is my buying guide for the PS2 I don’t know how often I’m going to do these but let me know what you think and go out and get a PS2 and relive some memories.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Transformers Devastation Review - Autobots Rollout!


By Sam Coles:

Transformers the original series and movie are fantastic with its excellent animation and action. Games based on Transformers have been around for a couple of decades, but they have been hit or miss, we got the excellent Transformers game on PS2 based on the Armada series and the Cybertron games by High Moon Studios. However most of the games based on the transforming robots have been absolutely abysmal, we’ve been asking for a game based on generation one Transformers for years and it only caught the attention of Platinum games to make a game with the art style of the original series. Is it successful in capturing the spirt of the original series? Absolutely!

The Story of Transformers Devastation sees you step into the shoes of Autobots trying to stop the Decepticons from cyber forming earth. Yeah it’s not original by any means, but Transformers story have always been simple to set up the action.

You can take control of several Autobots you have Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Sideswipe and Grimlock. I always choose Optimus Prime all the time of course because he is powerful and mighty and plus who doesn’t like to hear the voice of Peter Cullen. That’s what I love about this game with how much care and attention they gave this game because they brought back all the original voice actors from the original series to fulfil their original roles.  

The gameplay is quick and precise so you must be on your toes because this game can be very challenging in places especially when they increase the number of enemies and enemy types. If you have played any game from Platinum Games then you will feel right at home with this game as it has a similar style to Metal Gear Rising with its layout and control scheme, although it lacks the parry system. It has a mixture of both hand to hand combat and shooting, but you won’t be using firearms often as they are there to take care of enemies that have flight capabilities, you’ll mostly be using your fists or melee type weaponry.

The presentation is superb as it evokes the old cartoon from the 80’s with the same art style with some different effects as it is a video game with some CGI to help the smooth 60 fps movement. The voice acting is great as they are the original cast so they just pick up where left off, you really can tell they’re having a blast stepping back into these roles. The sound and music is fantastic with crunchy sounds as you smash other robots as they explode, the music is awesome with heavy metal tracks complementing the high speed gameplay.

The only problem that I really have with this game is that it’s too short and if you bought it when it came out you probably felt ripped off. So wait for a sale like I did when I got this game because it’s not worth full price.


Transformers Devastation is the Transformers game that I’ve been waiting for where it doesn’t take itself seriously with over the top action. Get this game it’s on 7th and 8th generation consoles. GO OUT AND GET! 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo Review.


By Sam Coles:

As you know I’m not a huge racing game fan, but I’ve been warming up to the genre recently with reviews and there is something satisfying about nailing the perfect turn in a car. Sebastien Loeb Evo Rally is another racing game that I love because it really tests your reflexes with the speed and the terrain, which keeps you on your toes.

The first thing you must do in this game is set up your rally team including inserting your own name if you want, as well as putting in what country and car number you want. After that you have to pick what car you want to use before getting into the events, you can test each car out on the test track which I would highly recommend. The reason why I would recommend testing the cars out first in this game is because the car physics take a few tries to get use to because it is a simulation with the handling of the car, you can’t drive like an idiot in this game. Another aspect I would highly recommend with this game in terms of gameplay is switching to the cockpit view, the reason I recommend this is that you have a better field of view of what’s coming and you have a better feel for the car physics.

You’ll have access to different types of cars from newer kit cars to the more vintage variety from the 1970’s, there are a fair few to choose from but it does come at a cost of course. You gain credits through winning events and where you can save up and buy more cars, this can be a slow process as you do find yourself repeating races as you get use to the controls, so don’t worry if you don’t come in first every time.

The main thing you have to take into consideration when driving are the pacing notes they are very important. Before you reach corners your navigator will say what is ahead, numbers will signify how tight the corners are, so if he says six plus that generally means you can accelerate straight through (mostly), the lower the number the tighter the turn. If you don’t understand the pacing notes there is a tutorial to guide you through it. Once you get use to the pace notes you fall into a trance where you can almost do single stages blind folded because you get into a rhythm as you nail that corner in a snow covered forest.

The environmental graphics looks good for the most part there are few drab looking areas here and there. The best looking areas are the ones that utilise the weather effects like the snowy forests of Sweden to the torrential rain of Northern Wales. The places that look a bit plain and washed out are the standard green areas with Pine Forests and meadows there isn’t enough detail of the flora in those areas to make it stand out. The car models on the overhand are an absolute joy to look at they have shown love to all the different cars you can choose from with a real attention to detail. From the reflection of light to detailed interior as you’re in the cockpit view.

The only Negatives that I really have with this game is that it can get a tad repetitive due to the fact you’re playing the same sort of events over and over, however I would say that this is the perfect game to play in short bursts as events can take 5 minutes at a time. The other negative with this game are the load times, they can be really bad especially when they’re loading events with multiple cars on one circuit.


Overall Sebastien Loeb is a fantastic game and is a game that I wouldn’t have contemplated of playing in the past, so if you’re looking for a decent rally game on your Xbox One, PS4 or PC I would highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Trilogy Retrospective: Gears of War.

By Sam Coles:

Say what you want about the Gears of War games, but they did have a huge influence on how third person action games are made today. I want to go over the first three Gears of War games as it was intended as a trilogy originally *cough* *cough* Halo. So let’s journey back all the way to 2006.

Gears of War (2006):

The Xbox 360 had only been out for a year at this point and most people were anticipating the new Halo which was due out in 2007. However there was a new I.P announced known as Gears of War, it took elements of what third person action games were doing at the time and tweaked and improved them which set the standard.

The story is about a war between humans and a race that occupies the caves and tunnels of the planet called the Locus. They emerge to claim the planet to be theirs so a bloody battle begins. You play as Marcus Fenix who is in prison because he is apparently a traitor, his comrade Dominic Santiago breaks him out. Marcus suits up and starts kicking ass and taking names with the iconic Lancer assault rifle. I know what you’re thinking “what’s so special about an assault rifle”? Well… what if I told you that it had a chainsaw strapped to the bottom of it which lets you cut your enemies in half.
The game really showed off what the 360 could do in terms of graphics (at the time) with great environments and animation. However the game hasn’t aged well with its aesthetics as they look baron and drab compared to next two instalments. The gameplay introduced a good cover system that you see in any game that uses a third person perspective that involves shooting, where you cling to cover and pop up and open fire, even stealth games adopted this method.

Multiplayer was very popular with this game and use to be part of the E-sports circle with live broadcasts. It was thrilling to see players who were really good at the game because they would use a technique called wall bouncing to get around the map where they would slide from cover to cover. However the multiplayer had an extreme lag problem due to the fact that the game did not use dedicated servers, it used peer to peer where if the host had a bad connection you would have lag.

Gears of War 2 (2008):

Gears of War 2 took the foundations of the original game and tweaked them such as the chainsaw mechanic, cover system and improved the multiplayer.

Gears of War 2 takes place after the first game where the COG’s super weapon didn’t wipe out the Locus. You once again take control of the very angry Marcus Fenix, but the story does focus more on Dominic Santiago because he is looking for his wife. You start off in a hospital with injured soldiers, but everything goes south really fast when the Locus launches an assault on the infirmary.

The gameplay has been tweaked compared to the first game as well as adding more weapons such as the ink grenade which will slowly poison your enemies if they’re in the area of affect. What was a great addition was that you could counter chainsaw attacks; I know this doesn’t sound like much but chainsaw attacks were instant kills. How this works is that if you press the B button you would go into a chainsaw duel where you have to mash the button as fast as you can and then get the upper hand and kill them.

Multiplayer was vastly improved compared to the first game because they started to use dedicated servers over the peer to peer that was almost unplayable in the first game. They added a new horde mode where you and a friend could go up against 50 waves of enemies which would get progressively harder, it’s a fun mode a few times but it gets old fast.

Gears of War 3 (2011):

The world of Gears of War 3 is a world which is on the brink of destruction where the society and government have collapsed. The COG is in ruin where they’re just fighting to survive rather than fighting for their cause. The team are up against a new threat called the Lambent, these creatures are mutated Locus where they have absorbed too much Emulsion which is the planets fuel source. It’s not just the COG who are trying to survive, the Locus are trying to survive as well because the Lambent are mindless zombie versions of them so they don’t take sides.

Graphically this game is mile better, as they improved everything from animations with facial expressions with the lip syncing to the fantastic blood effects. They took what they had with the second game and turned it up to 11, all textures have been smoothed out and it really pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits

The multiplayer in this game has to be the best in the series; they finally fine-tuned the multiplayer to perfection as there was barely any lag and plenty of game modes to keep you busy. It also helped with the gameplay as it is the best and fastest in the series, for the first time you can mantle kick, what this means is that when you mantle over cover and there is an enemy on the other side you can kick them in the face and set up an easy kill. They added in a few new weapons there is the Retro Lancer which had a standard bayonet instead of a chainsaw which also kicks like a Mule, there is the sawn off shotgun which can kill someone with one blast if you up close.

They still had the horde mode which could be played with 4 players rather than two; the reason why it’s 4 players is because this horde mode is much harder than the second game as they have added in boss waves. These bosses are generally Berserkers who can only be killed with the hammer of dawn. This version of horde kept my attention for longer due to the fact that you didn’t just do wave after wave you had manage a small base which can have barbwire to slow enemies down or gun turrets for extra fire power.

Horde mode also got another twist in the form of Beast mode, where you can take control of the Locus horde. This mode is really fun because each Locus creature had unique abilities; you start off with the basic Ticker who could explode on demand to the Berserker.


The Gears of War series great for letting off steam with it’s over the top violence that seems to be the norm these days. If you want to give the trilogy a go it’s super cheap to pick up all three. However if you played Gears of War Ultimate Edition on Xbox One from its release back in August last year to 31st of December they’re yours for free on Xbox One backwards compatibility.

Monday, 1 February 2016

My Most Anticipated Games of 2016


By Sam Coles:

I know this sort of post seems a bit redundant considering it’s now the start of February, but I wanted to give you an insight of what games I’m looking forward to in the coming months of 2016. So in no particular order I’ll tell what games interest me, so remember this is my opinion, so don’t get a nark on if a title that you’re looking forward to isn’t on here.

DOOM:

If you read my blog, know personally or watched my stream of Doom (95) you would know that I love old school shooters. When Wolfenstein was first announced back in 2013 I was worried they would take on all the modern shooter clich├ęs of the time. However they didn’t and Wolfenstein The New Order was a fantastic game with no regenerating health and game that will kick you in the neither regions if you don’t manage your health.

They announced Doom as a reboot to the series at E3 2014; I was excited because maybe they’re slowly bringing back the old school conventions of shooters, with the break neck speed of 60 mph to the exploration of secrets. Then Bethesda showed us gameplay to Doom at E3 2015 and it was everything I hoped for! It has the high speed movement, the over the top graphic violence turned up to 10 and the big levels where you have to look for health, ammo and key cards. There is no specific release date yet but id software assures us that it’s going to be out in 2016.

Final Fantasy XV:

Here is a game that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole if you showed me it 4 years ago. I’ve never been a fan of the J-RPG genre because I’ve found that they’ve always been about whiney teenagers since FF VII anyway. There have been a few exceptions with VIII and IX, but the genre wasn’t my favourite.

It wasn’t until last year where I played two HD remakes, which were Final Fantasy Type-0 which was a very dark game about war and Final Fantasy X. I got review copies for both of these games and my expectation were low, however I started to play them, which I then eventually started to like them with their serious subject matter and goofy moments to brighten you up after those grim moments.

Final Fantasy XV looks to be a massive and epic experience where you travel these wide open spaces with a vast array of flora and fauna. The game seems to take what was traditional of the FF games after the disastrous Lightning trilogy, with a huge world to explore and challenging combat, plus it helps that game looks absolutely beautiful with what we’ve seem so far.

Far Cry Primal:

Now here is a game that I didn’t see coming because the setting was so unique. Most people at this point are getting fatigued with Ubisoft open world games because they over saturate the market.

Don’t get me wrong I liked Far Cry 4, but it felt more like a tweaked version of Far Cry 3, with a rehashed story with the same crazy villain etc. When the Far Cry Primal trailer came around I was surprised, the setting of the game in the Stone Age makes sense with Far Cry’s survival elements. This time taking settlements and crafting weapons looks like it means something rather than it being something you do once because the tutorial tells you to do it and you’ll never do it again.

So there will be no guns or explosives in this game, you’ll have to rely on your environment by crafting spears and taming animals to do your bidding. The over the top violence suits time period of 10,000 BC with the tribal disputes and I look forward to explore the world and tame a sabre tooth tiger.

Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End:

Do I have to explain this one? Yes? Alright! If you don’t know I love the Uncharted series and after
playing and reviewing The Nathan Drake Collection it got me super excited for the 4th game.

The gameplay footage that has been shown off at E3 and the Playstation experiences looks beautiful with its visuals coupled with its high octane action and platforming. Now the game has been delayed twice already, originally it was meant to release at the end of 2015, then March of 2016 and finally April (for now). I don’t care if they delay it again because I know Naughty Dog as a studio care about quality and they want their final game in the Uncharted series to go out with a bang. I look forward to taking control of Nathan Drake again.


2016 looks to be a good year in gaming and that is what I’m looking forward to this year. What games are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments, Twitter: @SamColes2 or @BristoianGamer or Facebook: Bristolian Gamer.