Saturday, 23 October 2010

Black Ops - Scene's Deemed to Violent, Had to be Cut

By Mark


With only around 3 weeks to go before the next Call of Duty game hits, it has come to light that some of the content was seen as 'too realistic' to be featured in the full game. The game's animation director Dominique Drozdz has told OPM "It was a a contextual kill where you were twisting the neck. It was too much. The throat cutting [is] nasty, but that was worse."

Provokes some intrigue to what else was cut and also just how the content left in the game is going to look if they believed it to be 'too' realistic. What do you guys think?


Source - http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=271261?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=CVG-General-RSS

Mafia 2 - Joe's Adventure Release Date

By Mark




The date for the latest Mafia II DLC entitled "Joe's Adventure" is sceduled to release for 23 November. Featuring all new story content, more collectibles and locations this is shaping up to be a better back than previous efforts.

Priced at $9.99 or 800 Microsoft points this could turn out to be a nice buy for those of us who enjoyed the original game. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Diablo III - Demon Hunter Announced/Trailer

By Mark

Just announced at Blizzcon Diablo III's newest class "Demon Hunter" gets this all new reveal trailer.

Samus Reinvented...With Cartridges!

By Mark

Check out this artsy affair that has spawned Samus Aran. Only in cartridge form!


This was constructed in a game store in Denver by Blaze Bratcher you can check out some other work if you hit up the link.

Bad Company 2 Vietnam Priced

By Jonny


The Vietnam expansion for EA and DICE's Battlefied Bad Company 2 has been Priced at $15 or £10. This is definitely on the heavy side for DLC but it does include plenty of content. Four new maps, fifteen weapons and six vehicles all presented with a special Vietnam look.

There's still no official word on release date yet but its expected in winter 2010.

Catherine Hits Japan February 2011

By Mark




Catherine finally has a date set in stone, well for Japan at least. The game is now scheduled to hit February 2011, for those like me who can't wait for this title keep on hoping for news on a western release.

Source - http://www.famitsu.com/news/201010/22035029.html

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Bioshock recreated in Minecraft

 By Jonny

Check out this video of Bioshock's opening level recreated in Minecraft.



Now that's dedication.

Four New Bioshock Infinite Screens

By Mark

Here's 4 new screenies of Bioshock Infinite enjoy.


Still scheduled for a 2012 release which feels like eons away but hey, they're still great looking.

Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals Impressions


 By Mark


The DS is no stranger when it comes to remakes of older RPG's and the latest one to hit the market is Lufa: Curse of the Sinistrals. This is a remake from the SNES classic Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals, although this is a remake in every sense of the word and not just updated visuals. I haven't played the original so i can't make direct comparisons, i can only detail whats changed and share my time with it so far.

The game kicks off with the declaration that 'Gades' is about to throw the world into chaos and that he is it's new overlord, he also states that those that comply with him will be granted a place in his new vision and if there is anyone foolish enough to attack him then now is the time to do so. After this we see our would be hero 'Maxim' and his professor friend 'Lexis', the two hear this news and rush to the scene to try and stop Gades.

It's here where we see the biggest change from the original version, and thats combat. Gone is the turn based style precedings of old and instead we have a much more action orientated system, you can roll, jump, and hack and slash your way through enemies using typical slashes or more powerful attacks that drain your action bar. This refills overtime though so you need'nt worry about overusing moves, at least not early on.  Managing your equipment and items also seems to be a simple task with basic menus and options you'd expect to see. Travelling is also made rather simple as you just have to select your destination from an overview style menu when moving onto the next plot point/town/city etc.

I'd also like to comment on the music, it has a very 'old school' feel and will be no doubt nostalgic to many, it's easy on the ears and shifts focus when needs be to drive you along. Voice acting is also featured this time around and it's probably what you'd expect of games like this, the acting isn't bad per se but its not great either although if it does annoy you not all lines are acted and its saved usually for more pressing parts of the game.

After some plot procedings the plot delves into typical 'chosen one must save the world' ilk, you learn that Maxim is the one who must stop Gades and the three other Sinistrals (think apocolypse of the four horsemen sorta) however to do so he must go and find 5 other warriors to help him. Don't let a seemingly basic plot sway you though as the characters are all rather charming and the game rubs off on you, and who knows the narrative may pick up later on! There is also a fair share of minigames and side quest elements to the game also however Lufia doesn't fall into the trap of boring you with making them feel like "filler", instead they are generally fun and you won't mind pushing through them in order to advance the plot.



All in all so far it seems like a neat little package and one that should stand out above some of the other mediocre RPG affairs the DS has to offer, so if you need a fix of RPG action in handheld form this fall be sure to give Lufia a look.

Full review to come later possibly.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Bioware: A Brief Overview

By Mark

This article is just a very quick look at each Bioware game I've played and a small amount of information about each. Reviews on some of these may follow in the future, if people would like this just drop us a line!

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that Bioware is one of the developers I really do respect and tend to pretty much adore whatever work they do be it with names and brands already established such as Star Wars or their own endeavours such as Mass Effect. In this posting I’m going to be recalling upon older entries by Bioware and the newer ones, talking you through my experiences with each and my feelings on the good and the bad. The first place I’ll be taking you to is the world of Knights of the Old Republic, I’d delve further back than that and talk about Baldur’s Gate and the like however I’m afraid those games escaped me, although one day I will get to them so who knows maybe I’ll write about my experience with them some time!


Knights of the Old Republic

Released in 2003 for both the original Xbox and PC Kotor released to immediate critical acclaim and this was definitely well deserved. The prospect of playing a full role playing experience set within Star Wars lore is mouth watering to just about anyone, and with Bioware at the helm everyone was in for a treat.

Set roughly 4000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars Universe players got to take on the role of either a male or female who would for all intents and purposes appear to be a nobody without any recollection of their memories. Okay, so the start may sound a little shaky but for those of you out that have played it you know how this quickly turns into an epic adventure wherein you meet some truly memorable characters and slowly but surely obtain a lightsaber of your very own.

I think what made this game so much fun was the amount of stuff to do and the high level of interaction that would of been fun with any backdrop as a universe but remember, this was Star Wars. So you’ll be seeing Sith, Wookies, Jawas, Jedi, Twi’leks and even a Rancaar in one instance, some which you’ll assimilate into your ragtag bunch. This game also spawned one of the more memorable side characters in a Bioware game in the form of HK-47, an android that refers to humans as ‘meatbags’. Honestly, some of the conversations you could have with this whacky mech were pretty awesome.

Bioware once again let players become a character of their own choosing with a complex branching dialogue option and a simple Light/Dark side moral meter. Tie all this in with a relatively fun combat system, force powers, deep customisation and a twist that at the time blew my mind and you’re in for a fantastic wild ride filled with all the things that made you love Star Wars in the first place.



Jade Empire

I only really played this game through luck, and I’m genuinely thankful that I did. Released in 2005 Bioware took a chance and wanted to show that they can make fantastic IP’s on their own, so rather than work on Kotor II they left that to Obsidian and instead worked on the heavily Asian inspired Jade Empire.

The format to this game was extremely similar to that of other Bioware made games in the sense that you create your character male/female and assign them their stat points and made your way through the game talking to characters in the same way seen in previous games. One largely different aspect, however, was the combat system seen here, rather than opt for the more strategic style gameplay you’d expect Jade Empire offered a pseudo hack and slash type fighting system. Players were allowed to have any four ‘styles’ equipped at any time and could switch between them in combat, these ranged from hand to hand, weapons, magic and even supportive styles that offered some variation when taking on the enemies the game had to offer. For some people this combat was too simple or just straight up not enjoyable, that wasn’t the case for me though as I enjoyed all my time with this game.

Bioware again took a lot of care when creating the characters you’d be running into and in the world of Jade Empire your cohorts could range from Dawn Star (the main characters childhood friend) to Black Whirlwind (an alcohol crazed mercenary with duel axes) to even Wild Flower (a small girl who is currently playing host to a demon). Everyone in your crew in Jade Empire is noteworthy to some extent, the variety in each personality was great and when you add to that an overall satisfying plot, intriguing mythos and the typical side quests and overall this was a great little package that, at least to me, deserves a sequel.



Mass Effect

Ah Mass Effect. This game did so much right and came out in what was all round a brilliant year for gaming – 2007. This was another independent endeavour by Bioware and players were thrust into the role of Commander Shepard, a lucrative soldier in the human alliance and one that is apparently climbing the ranks pretty quick as the opening mission of the game is essentially a trial to become a ‘Spectre’ (think special agent only on a galactic level, badass will also suffice).

Gone were the extensive dialogue trees of old and instead came the ‘dialogue wheel’ which offers players three choices on either side, these typically being good/neutral/evil. This was incredibly different to previous games and allowed Bioware to build a much more focused story on the character of Shepard. You still chose your characters background and also what class they were which factored into some conversations which is a nice touch as it feels that bit more personal.

The science fiction setting here allowed for a lot of design choices in both gameplay and the lore of Mass Effect, there are aliens aplenty, spaceships, loads of planets to explore and futuristic weaponry to down your enemies with. But what truly shined here were the characters again, you felt part of the squad and cared for each and every one of your crew, this was in large part to terrific acting on behalf of everyone involved and the writing was great. In particular Wrex, Garrus and Tali were three of my favourite characters in just about any game and to see them all again in the sequel was fantastic (more on that later) each of these had truly interesting stories to tell, backgrounds to share and witty remarks to be said upon downing foes.

The game did a lot right but that didn’t stop it from having its fair share of flaws, such as lack of variety in terms of weaponry model design and armour variety, the same could be said for the side missions as, while plentiful, a lot of them felt incredibly samey. The combat also felt a little awkward but for the first real foray into third person shooters mixed with roleplaying you can’t complain too much. Even with those however, reaching the conclusion of this entry to the series was fantastic. Plus, the alien sex controversy made for amusing news right?



Dragon Age: Origins

Released just 2 years after the original Mass Effect,  what was said to be a ‘spiritual successor’ to the Baldur’s Gate series turned out to be one of my favourite games of all time, while I can’t really comment on the likeness to BG, I can go on to explain why I loved this game as much as I did.

Another new IP from Bioware and this time we got a more old school fantasy settings with enemies that look like they’ve just crawled out of Lord of the Rings, there are ogres, dragons, dwarves and elves a plenty in this epic fantasy RPG. While it may look on the surface to have no real ‘personality’ of its own this is quickly dismissed once you begin playing as the setting of the game, Ferelden, is full to the brim with interesting, quirky characters. Some will join you, others you’ll ignore or even kill inadvertently without even knowing they could be members! For the most part however they are unique and you’ll enjoy wandering the cities, being at camp and chatting with your group.

A step away from Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel was seen here as players could now select anything ranging from 1 to 7 or more choices, giving each person that plays a much more distinct feeling that they are getting to choose exactly what type of character they want to be. The lack of any sort of moral indicator was also interesting as this was instead reflected in the way that people reacted to you or treated you from then on, in some extreme cases it could even turn friend into foe.

Some great voice work has to be noted again here as each character is brought to life fantastically, be it the witty but foolhardy Alistair or the she witch Morrigan, all characters found in here are likely to resonate with you in one way or another.

I wouldn’t say this is a game for everyone however, the combat system is fairly slow paced and leans more toward strategy and the overall main plot may be a bit too simple/boring for some. This was not the case for me though and I am happily awaiting the sequel.



Mass Effect 2

Released at the beginning of this year Mass Effect 2 hit stores and immediately became a contender for Game of the Year in my opinion. It took the game we already loved and made it much darker, and a whole lot more epic. Some favourite characters returned (if you kept them alive from the original that is) and a whole new bunch were thrown in there as well. And being told before we even got the game that its about a suicide mission and not everyone will make it back (if anyone) only added to the intrigue.

Gameplay wise a lot had changed in terms of combat, it was still a third person shooter yes. But this time around it felt closer to something like Gears of War and not just a clunky shooter with fantastic RPG elements. We had the whole package this time around, now shooting down enemies was just as smooth and fun to do as conversing with your allies. One drawback I found though was a lack of variety in weapons and armour again, there was even less to be found in the original and no upgrades in the usual sense of the word. This was due to the game being more streamlined for a smoother experience and in the end this did pay off as ME2 was a truly fantastic game, most aspects this time around were back but improved such as the side quests. This time each and every one of them had their own background, layout and theme and were classed as N7 missions for Shepherd and his crew to complete, add to these each characters ‘loyalty’ mission which let you see new sides of characters and learn about them that much more and you had many hours to waste away on these alone.

My biggest gripe about this game was the structure of the main narrative however, while the over arcing plot was satisfying I felt that the way in which you got the game’s final events were a bit underwhelming. The idea behind it was that you assemble a team, make them loyal and go on this crazy suicide mission and yet there was something missing from all this as once you have got all the members, you’re pretty much pushed on towards the end with no real feeling. I mean this in the sense that there was no ‘team building’, I strongly feel that there should of been some main plot missions that had your whole squad going along and seeing the bond between them grow to the point of trust, rather than just the trust of Shepherd him/herself.

Saying this though I still thoroughly enjoyed Mass Effect 2 and look forward to Bioware’s third and final instalment to the Commander Shepherd story arc, I hope that they take the best from both games and leave out the smaller nitpick issues so that we are left with the definitive TPS/RPG experience to date.

Ace Attorney Vs Professor Layton.... Are you Serious?

By Jonny
Objection

It was just recently announced at a show in Tokyo that Capcom and Level 5 would be releasing a new game for the 3DS that would be crossover of epic proportions. Yes that's right Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton will be starring in the same game, the game is currently titled Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney and will apparently be a puzzle game but with contradictions. Now doesn't that sound awesome. The game is set in Labyrinth City which has a sort of medieval feel, and the city is supposedly filled with witches. The villain in the game is named the "story teller" who has some sort of magical pen and whatever he writes becomes reality.

Here is a link to the trailer on youtube (which someone has kindly subbed)

No word on a release date yet but it is looking mighty interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Twitter Account

By Jonny

I have recently created a twitter account specifically for this blog, we plan to update it often and would be glad if you could follow us.

The twitter is @Syndicate_Games

Thanks!!!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Anticipation! A lot of it

By Mark

There are loads of fantastic titles coming out in the near and far future but I thought I’d take some time to share with you some that I just actually can’t wait for much longer yet must do. These are in no particular order just the ones that come to mind, this is just a brief musing.

Catherine

That lady is Catherine with a "C"
Atlus’ first real push into the current generation of gaming leaving the PS2 to finally rest in peace, Catherine is being developed by the same team that brought us the fantastic RPG’s Persona 3 and 4. So it’s pretty easy to get stoked just by this information alone, however when coupled with a strong mature theme and heavily dark tone I can’t help but get even more excited. Details on gameplay itself is sketchy and we know little about the plot other than that it centres around Vincent who recently cheated on his girlfriend Katherine with none other than Catherine (eh?). Since this happened he has been plagued with nightmares and death has entered his life. It all makes for an interesting premise and I for one simply have to have this game.

Another pretty sweet tidbit for those interested is that Vincent has actually appeared to us before in the recent release of Persona 3 Portable (P3P) where he featured as a social link for the female main character. If you want to see some interesting scans from famitsu head on over here - http://spawnkill.com/2010/08/18/hd-atlus-game-from-persona-team-catherine-full-famitsu-scans/ and check em' out.

Dragon Age II



Need I say more about this really? For fans of the first one you know why this is a must have, there are some striking changes that Bioware have opted for yes but this hasn’t affected my opinion on this game. With what looks to be a heavier emphasis on plot and more meaningful decisions than Origins taking place over a decade it makes you interested to see where Hawke will be travelling to, the people he meets and what sort of cameos we’ll get from DA:O. So there’s a dialogue wheel and simpler combat, doesn’t mean it won’t be fun as hell.

Plus this trailer is great although some proper gameplay thats not from cams would be great. Also the sooner I can get my hands on the song at the end the better  :D - http://www.gametrailers.com/video/exclusive-extended-dragon-age-2/703488

Dead Space II



Dead Space. A game that by all accounts I didn’t think I’d enjoy all that much yet when I finally got down to playing it, was a relatively short but definitely satisfying experience. Some may question its “scare tactics” and say it’s too repetitive but I enjoyed my time with the Necromorph’s, dismembering them in all sorts of ways and seeing a genuinely interesting plot unfold before me with some pretty awesome boss fights. So with Dead Space 2 on the horizon and wondering what the hell is going on with Isaac Clarke (he now actually talks!) you’ve gotta be looking forward to this one. Let’s just hope the tense atmosphere returns and EA/Visceral Games don’t just opt for action this time around!

Old debut trailer! - http://www.gametrailers.com/video/debut-trailer-dead-space-2/65054

Metal Gear Solid: Rising



A pretty obvious choice but one that’s hard not to get excited about really, most of us by now have seen those delicious cutting trailers and everything from gameplay to visual fidelity looks fantastic. With an entire game focusing not on Snake but rather on the flashy cyborg ninja Raiden, we’re in no doubt in for some tremendous cutscenes that are so over the top the actually make your eyes bulge. It’s sure to be a wild ride cutting your way through Rising and it’ll be more enticing to see a full console game not fully centred upon the franchise’s usual espionage hero.


Tokyo Game Show Stage Demo - http://www.gametrailers.com/video/tgs-10-metal-gear/704635

So there we have it, a very brief look at the games i'm mostly looking forward to in the coming months/year. There are loads more but for now this will do, what about you guys! Sound off in the comments :D

Alpha Protocol - Review

By Mark

Alpha Protocol. The first “real” individual outing from Obsidian and not a sequel in an already established franchise, so this was in essence a chance to show their prowess as a developer and proof they can make totally originally games without products already out there to lean on.

With all the RPG’s on the market these days your choice seems to fall within the settings of either fantasy or sci-fi, granted there’s Fallout and others that don’t adhere to this but in the main that’s what we have. Alpha Protocol breaks this and offers players the chance to step into the real world modern day setting of spy espionage action, and as a fan of works ranging from James Bond to the television series Chuck this has got to have any spy fan’s attention piqued. Players step into the role of Michael Thorton, a covert agent recently recruited into the United States secret government sect “Alpha Protocol”. Things start fairly simple what with training and a simple “induction” mission however the game then veers off down a path of conspiracy and deceit which makes for interesting situations.




Story

From a narrative perspective the game is shown to the player through various “interrogations” and the gameplay segments are Thorton’s retelling of events. This is a simple but effective way of conveying the story while keeping the players interest in the overall arcing plot as you wonder why Thorton is there and having to explain these actions. It also shows what Obsidian was aiming for in terms of player choice, they wanted the story to unfold exactly how you wanted it to.

You move through the bulk of the plot changing aspects of the game using a dynamic dialogue system, it’s hard not to mention the likeness to Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel so I’ll try to keep comparisons to a minimum and show you how this does indeed differ. In Alpha Protocol your responses have to be rather quick, each dialogue decision has a small timer bar above and once it runs out whatever you have selected will be said. This could be seen as a bad thing by many as you may get situations where you give the answer you didn’t want however it does have advantages as it forces you to make a quick instant reaction on what is being said and what is unfolding. There are 4 response types in the game and these are generally “Suave”, “Professional” and “Aggressive”, there are instances where the wording is different but the three choices basically come down to choosing to act like James Bond, Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne. The fourth action is generally reserved for a physical response or special response, such as blackmail or other secrets.


For the most part the story is a fun ride, it takes you through the life of a spy and does its best to make you “feel” cool and like that little kid inside you that always wanted to be a secret agent as you’ll visit luxurious safe houses with cupboards that turn into weapons caches and the like. As stated earlier you will also be encountering a lot of deceit and lies so keep your wits about you as you meet the various characters, and speaking of characters, there are plenty of personalities within this game. Some you’ll love and some you’ll naturally hate, the various folks you meet in Alpha Protocol are all distinctly different and while some are clich├ęd or just downright ridiculous (here’s looking at you Sie) they’re a good bunch and you’ll enjoy interacting with them in all sorts of ways, be it emailing them on the computer, flirting with them, putting a bullet between their eyes or maybe even some other..let’s say more raunchy activities




It’s not all good though as towards the latter stages of the game the story sort of falls into a trap of bad movie like storytelling as events unfold it feels almost rushed and more like just a means to an end rather than a gripping narrative experience.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Alpha Protocol is a really mixed bag and your enjoyment of it will come down to how forgiving you are of its RPG steeped roots. You see, the gameplay here when shooting up the enemies isn’t your standard third person action seen in the likes of Gears of War or Mass Effect, it’s all down to the invisible dice rolls going on in the background and the stats you have. This means that you can indeed shoot a man 2 feet in front of you right between the eyes and you’ll “miss” if the dice say so. For a lot of people this could be a deal breaker and to be honest I don’t really blame those people, it’s rather ridiculous to make essentially a third person shooter and then riddle it with really outdated gameplay mechanics when it comes to the action segments. In addition to this is some incredibly stupid AI, enemies don’t feel dynamic or clever and I often find them just standing out waiting to be shot or running back and forth on the spot. However for those of you out there willing to forgive this and roll with it, you’ll find enjoyment from the other aspects of the game.

Levelling up is incredibly straight forward, you have a standard “tree” of moves to purchase with “AP” and these range from stealth to help with sneaking around or sabotage to help with lock picking and hacking and then conventional weapons like assault rifle to help with accuracy and damage. You will also gain special moves for each talent like “Chain shot” for the pistol skill that allows you to stop time and line up 2 or more shots to be fired instantaneously ala Splinter Cell Conviction style. It’s a basic system yes, but an effective one and nothing to complain about.



While venturing through the levels you’ll also come across countless, and I really mean what feels like countless locked safes/computers that need hacking and alarms that need quieting so that brings us neatly onto the minigames of Alpha Protocol. These are designed fairly well but in all honesty just become tedious after hours of seeing them again and again but with scaling difficulty. The lock picking aspect is quite clever, you have to feather the left trigger in order to lift the pins up and hit the right trigger when they are in the sweet spot, while a neat idea it’s not so great when you’re being timed and one error can cause an alarm to go off and screw with your perfectly stealthy mission. Hacking is fairly simple in that it’s like a word search, you have two strings of letters/numbers to find inside of lots of changing script, this can be quite difficult at times when you have to be a lot quicker but not an awful minigame. Last but not least there are the alarm systems, this is the worst of the bunch to me as its uninspired and dull, add to that what felt like ridiculous difficulty later on due to time restraints and it’s just no fun. In principle the task is simple, you just have to find what the number that corresponds to the correct wire and click it, but when you have 11 to find and decipher with only 30 seconds on the clock as I say it’s just no fun.

After the 6th time in a level this just...

Graphics

There’s not a whole lot to say about the look of Alpha Protocol. The visuals do what they need to do but nothing more, they are not great graphics by any means and the game does often struggle with “pop in” textures. When in conversations the character models look decent enough and facial animation is pretty good but when it comes to areas and visual fidelity on the whole the game suffers from a lack of polish.
The different cities you visit in Alpha Protocol range from Rome, Taipei, Moscow and even Saudi Arabia at one point and the game succeeds in making you feel like you’ve been to each one and they are designed distinctly different but aside from that the actual levels you visit look dull and dreary. There’s never a moment in the game where you get that “wow” factor due to looks alone and it’s a shame as some of the locations in the game could of provided some fantastic vistas. The bottom line is that there’s simply no “flare” here.



Audio

For the most part the voice work in the game is solid, but not great and some performances in particular don’t feel very well acted but it’s nowhere near the level of putting you off. The voice actor for Thorton does a good job and portrays each type of dialogue choice well enough and when the quality dips you will at the very least get a laugh from the delivery of some of the more, shall we say shakily written lines. The soundtrack in the game fits well although you won’t come away wanting the OST or humming any tunes from the score. It simply does the job.

Lasting Appeal


This is a huge selling point for a lot of people these days that are either on a budget or simply want a game that has a lot to offer in terms of variety, and well Alpha Protocol does well in this regard. Sure I’ve said how frustrating the gameplay can be at times but if you enjoy the actual “role playing” aspects of this spy fuelled adventure then there are many different paths to go down and several large decisions that would lead to different outcomes here. So it does warrant more than a single playthrough if you want to see the various sides of Mr. Thorton and the results of his actions.

To Wrap Up

Alpha Protocol does a whole lot right with its dialogue system and making choice have such a large impact on literally every mission you do and every character you meet however for all its good points there are more bad points that bring it down. Time wise for a single playthrough you’re looking at about 12 to 15 hours of gameplay if you don’t rush your way through and take your time. This game is certainly not meant for everyone and it’s even harder to recommend when game like Mass Effect sit out there, however if you are an open minded gamer and willing to forgive all the shortcomings you may find an incredibly flawed gem here. I genuinely enjoyed all my time with Alpha Protocol and would have loved a sequel, sadly this isn’t likely but it may inspire others to take the good from this effort and make what could be a truly fantastic hit.

The game shipped with the slogan of “Your weapon is choice”. And it certainly is.

Final Score - 7/10


Note: We want to focus on getting as many people to come here as possible as we set out and continue to grow, so if you've read this review why not drop a line and give us some input, we want to interact with you and build this place from the ground up. We're looking at our own domain ideally so we need to establish ourselves, both myself and Jonny are passionate about games and would love to see this take off!

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - Review

By Jonny

Monkey and Trip


Enslaved: odyssey to the West is platforming action-adventure game and also a brand new IP from developers Ninja Theory who are best known for their PS3 exclusive hack’n’slash Heavenly Sword.  The storyline for enslaved is loosely based on an ancient Chinese novel entitled “Journey to the West”. Enslaved is set 150 years in the future in a post-apocalyptic America after a global war has ravaged the Earth and robots have destroyed much of the human race, think terminator with lush green environments. You play as the main protagonist ‘Monkey’ who unfortunately becomes a slave to a young girl named ‘Trip’ by use of a special slave headband that allows her to have complete control over Monkey, the story then begins from here showing the adventures the two have together and how their relationship builds over the course of the game.

Story
The game opens with a very action packed opening mission that see’s Monkey escaping from a flying prison ship and then your soon dropped into a version of New York which may look a little different than what you would expect as it is engulfed in greenery.  This is when Monkey is first fitted with the slave headband by Trip while he is unconscious (yeah he’s angry) which allows her to command you which in turn means that if she dies, you die. As the powerful and nimble monkey you are tasked with escorting Trip to her home which is located 300 miles away, but that does not mean the game is simply just one big escort mission. Enslaved will take you across many miles of the post-apocalyptic America on a sprawling adventure. Over the course of the game the relationship between Monkey and Trip begins to develop as they each begin to rely on each other and slowly but surely start to warm to each others company.
Piggy back Ride


Gameplay
The gameplay for Enslaved basically boils down to three things Combat, Climbing and protecting/saving Trip, there are a few sequences in the game which break away from this formula slightly but will usually end being combined with them. That’s not to say this is a bad thing at all, in fact the game is so brilliantly paced that it will mix things up more often than not preventing you from becoming bored. The combat in Enslaved is definitely not one of the deepest combat systems but it does an adequate job, Monkey can perform a normal strike and a heavy strike which can be mixed together to create deadly robot destroying combos. Monkey can also block attacks or dive roll out of the way of the enemy mech’s attacks and with the purchase of the counter upgrade he will be able to counter enemy attacks if timed correctly. Which bring us nicely on to the upgrade system which is split into four main parts; shield, health, staff and combat upgrades. To purchase these upgrades you will need tech orbs which are located throughout the game and also drop of enemies, then with these (as long as Trip is in close vicinity) you can access the upgrade menu. These upgrades are nothing major but they allow the combat to become a little deeper and also more fun.
The climbing in Enslaved is very similar to that of Prince of Persia in the way it looks and feels but the truth is that it’s almost automatic. You will rarely need to do much more than point in the right direction and press jump and it will complete the jump for you which does take away some of the fun factor of these sections, but there is still fun to be had especially later on in the game. There will be many sections in the game that will involve Trip, whether you need to throw her up to a ledge she cannot reach, draw the fire of the enemy’s so she can safely pass or defend her while she hacks doors/control panels. There are many more of these types of moments in the game as well which I won’t spoil now, but it’s safe to say that these are always fun and keep the gameplay feeling fresh especially with how well the AI for Trip handles.

Graphics
Enslaved is set in a post-apocalyptic world but one the likes you have not seen before, the usual deserts and wastelands of post-apocalyptic games have been replaced with greenery. This results in the game having a very different feel for a post-apocalyptic game not to mention how good all this looks, Ninja theory really outdid themselves. Enslaved boasts some absolutely stunning Vista’s that will make you stop just to have a look around, there’s the occasional odd looking textures or slow pop in effect but nothing that could tarnish the look of this beautifully crafted game world. There’s is also some fantastic motion capture work on the characters which was directed by Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings). This makes the characters feel more alive and believable or more human you could say. 

Audio
The soundtrack found here is nothing special and can sometimes feel out of place but most of the time it does the job you just won’t remember much if any of it. Now the Voice acting on the other hand is where the Audio shines, each character has been voiced fantastically and with Andy Serkis (See above) also doing the voice of Monkey he does a brilliant job of bringing Monkey to life along with the other voice actors who also do a terrific job.

Lasting Appeal
The game clocks in at around 8-10 hours for a play though and there is very little reason to go back and replay Enslaved, there’s some collectibles such as the masks but there isn’t really much of a incentive to go back and collect them all if you aren’t really a completionist. There is a Downloadable content option in the main menu but there has been no word as of now to what this will be for.
That's Pigsy on the far right, Wonder why they call him that?


Closing Comments
Enslaved is more than a solid game and there is a lot of fun to be had here, with a strong narrative and brilliant characters backed up by gorgeous visuals and solid gameplay there should be a little for everyone here but some may be put off by the length and replay value.
Enslaved feels like an extremely nice surprise from a game that had hardly any hype, I was also not really interested in this game until I played the demo and I am glad I did.

Final Score – 8.5 / 10


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Welcome to The Syndicate!

Hello and welcome to what we call "The Syndicate", a new blog that will have various content posted as we hopefully grow into a worthwhile place where gamers and even nongamers may come to read our reviews, catch up on some news and what we feel about it and who knows what else as time goes by.

We felt the best place to start would be to let you know who we are before we jump into reviewing the masses of games coming out this holiday season. There will be two people who are posting the content here so just look for who writes what at the bottom of each posting, there's myself, Mark Ainsworth aged 18 and then there's Jonny also aged 18. We are heavy gamers that are open to pretty much each and every genre out there and all the reviews you see here will be our honest, straight up thoughts on the game no matter the genre/platform.

We look forward to watching this space grow into something special and look out for a first review very soon! (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West i believe)