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Destiny 2 – The Verdict

Destiny 2 – The Verdict

It’s strange to think it was three years ago when Steve and myself first shared Our Thoughts on Destiny the First, and two years since I decided that The Taken King had gone a long way towards tidying up some of the rough edges from the base game. Now, here we are and Destiny 2 is part of our world, and I love it. Bungie have learn from what made The Taken King so good, and created a wondrous game.

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Deadpool – The Verdict

Deadpool – The Verdict

Deadpool is a game that does what it says on the tin. By ‘tin’ of course I mean case, and by ‘what it says’ I mean what Deadpool says… that’s right, he quotes himself on the case of his own game. It’s this self styled egotism that sets the standard for a large portion of the campaign.

As a character Deadpool is a bit like Marmite in the sense that you will either love his over the top, whimsical narration of his own game or you will detest his immature humour and big headedness. If you already know about Deadpool‘s outlook on the world you will largely know what to expect from this, otherwise you might not be able to overlook the childish and immature narrative and comedy that is peppered throughout the story. It never relents either, so if immaturity is something that grates on you quickly then you will find no comfort here, however if you fondly remember the times you used to laugh at inflatable women and jokes about celebrities then this will be right up your street.

The combat is surprisingly solid for a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and consists of a melee/shooting mix, using combos to build up DP points (Deadpool‘s self styled version of XP) and further bonuses. These points can then be spent on upgrading your characters health, abilities and weapons, which in turn allows you to build up bigger combos and earn more DP, I’m sure you see where this is going. The weapons on offer are not all that varied with three melee type weapons, four guns and four types of grenade. Whilst upgrading and changing weapons around can be fun it’s entirely feasible to stick with the starting weapons for the duration of the game unless played on the hardest difficulty.

There is also a small platforming element to Deadpool. When navigating certain chapters you are expected to make your way through areas that cover various altitudes, or jump across lakes and chasms littered with platforms. Not much emphasis is put on this though as these areas are generally cluttered with enemies and other objectives. Platforming is not your focal point when you also happen to be fighting off enemies, dodging helicopter fire and collecting power-ups and sometimes even all of them at the same time. This does however make for very enjoyable gameplay when set pieces like this are in full swing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Deadpool
Teenage Mutant Ninja Deadpool

Graphically and musically this game falls under the fairly standard category. A meaty guitar riff dominates the start up screen but after that I don’t recall anything audibly memorable aside from Deadpool himself. Graphically there isn’t really anything that makes me stop in awe, whilst at the same time nothing fundamentally wrong with design or modelling. Enemy AI also falls into the neither here nor there section. Although there are occasionally some enemy types that are really tricky to deal with, most of the time it’s the sheer number you encounter that is the daunting part.

Clocking in at around 7-8 hours on veteran difficulty Deadpool is not the most extensive, but in my opinion this length is just right for the type of game it is. Any longer and the combat would begin to get tired and repetitive, the tomfoolery irritating and the story boring, and any extra playtime would be at the detriment of the gameplay itself. Gameplay can be extended by the challenge mode which uses eight areas from the campaign and pits you against increasingly harder waves of enemies, with an unlimited wave mode unlocked at the end of each stage.

Personally I think this is a great little game packed with silly and dirty jokes, a strong lead character and enjoyable gameplay. This won’t be the case across the board due to the humour style and possible repetitive gameplay. Factoring cost into the equation of value for money also lowers my final scoring for the game. At £30-ish Deadpool is not the most expensive release, but with only a 7-8 hour campaign that has little replay value and a challenge mode, there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into once that first playthrough ends.

For anyone who has yet to experience Deadpool and want’s to know more, just think of what the Mask films would be like if they were rated 18 and you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. Just don’t play it when your mum is around as things can often turn off the wall crazy or downright rude, in the funniest way possible.

Verdict – On Target

Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – Xbox 360

Review based on a copy provided by High Moon Studios.

Please check this post for more on our scoring policy.

World Of Warcraft Loses Two Million Subscribers Since June 2011

World Of Warcraft Loses Two Million Subscribers Since June 2011

Activision Blizzard’s popular MMORPG World of Warcraft has lost another 1.1 million subscribers this month, bringing the total number of lost subscribers since June of last year to 2 million. AB put the loss down to strong performances from their other games that have dragged customers away from WoW. They also believe that people waiting for the expansion to WoW have unsubbed until its release in October. Making a statement on the official forums they said:

Contributing factors to the lower subscribers were likely the launch of Diablo III in the quarter, which provided consumers with an alternative gaming experience to World of Warcraft (although Diablo III has not yet launched in China), as well as the lack of new content patches in all geographies resulting in less overall game play. Looking forward, Blizzard Entertainment expects to release World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria™ on September 25, 2012, which will deliver new game content in all regions that is expected to further appeal to the gaming community (with availability in mainland China to be announced at a later date).

Ten million copies of Diablo 3 have been sold since launch making it the best-selling game on PC for the first six months of 2012. 1.2 million of these people have signed up for the annual pass, almost enough to make up for the loss of subscribers to WoW.

Heaven Is A Highly Defined Half Pipe

Heaven Is A Highly Defined Half Pipe

Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade is nearly upon us and it looks like it’s going to be a cracker this year. What better way to kick it off than with one of my favourite ways of procrastinating and injuring myself as a child, skateboarding. Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD (or THPSHD for short) is not just a run of the mill HD port of the original game but instead is a combination of the best bits of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 & 2, which were originally released in 2000 on the N64 and Dreamcast among other consoles. THPSHD will be the first title in the series to be available only as a download.

THPSHD was exclusively announced in 2011 during the Spike VGA‘s. A world premier video showing Tony Hawk skating around the Woodland Hills Warehouse level from the original THPS was shown but since then precious few details have been released on what will actually be included in the game. What we do know from various interviews with Tony himself is a few of the playable characters, playable levels and music available in the game and you’ll be glad to hear that along with a host of new characters and songs Robomodo have included plenty of classic names that players of the originals will remember.

Along with Tony himself other playable characters include Tony’s son Riley Hawk, Chris Cole, Nyjah Huston, Lyn-Z, Rodney Mullen, Andrew Reynolds and Adams Hawkins. Tony also mentioned the possibility of unlockable characters of which I’m hoping Officer Dick, Ollie the magic bum and Spider-man all make an appearance.

Every bail will now be shown in glorious HD.

Music tracks will be a mixture of old and new. Sporting such classics as Goldfinger’s ‘Superman’ and Bad Religion’s ‘You’ along with new hits like ‘Teenage Blood’ by Apex Manor and ‘Please ask for help’ by Telekinesis.

Classic levels included are The Mall, Phoenix, The Hangar, School, School II, New York, Venice Beach, Downhill, Marseilles and my favourite level from the original game (probably because it was the first and easiest level) Warehouse. Has your favourite level been included and if not which one would you choose?

Robomodo have also stated that following the games release DLC will be issued with content in the form of stages from Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 including the Airport level. Fresh news from over at Joystiq indicates that the revert ability will also be included in the planned DLC but will only be usable for the THPS3 levels and onwards. Having not played any Tony Hawks game since THPS2 I’m looking forward to this inclusion and the possibility of content from other games in the series.

Due to the limitations of the consoles back when this was first released multiplayer was never given its real shining moment. No mention has been made of anything multiplayer wise this time around but there is great potential for a score attack style or trick attack style game or some kind of target completion game with leaderboards much like in the original single player.

I’m not usually one to go for arcade games on consoles, preferring to buy them much cheaper on PC, but this is one of the few console exclusive arcade games that I find myself desperate to get my hands on. Tony Hawks is a name that’s defined everything to do with skateboarding for over a decade now and with this being the twelfth game in the Tony Hawks series I don’t see any reason for that to let up.

Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD will be released on July 18th to XBLA costing 1200 MS Points.

Call of Duty: Black Ops – The Verdict

Call of Duty: Black Ops – The Verdict

Call of Duty: Black Ops looks as though it may go on to become one of the best-selling games of all-time. This is a worrying statistic.

Black Ops is not a disaster, it’s not the searing exposé of Treyarch’s failings as a developer many thought it would be. It’s well put together, slick and at times accomplished. The core package offers you a 6 hour single -player campaign, Easter eggs, zombie modes and the latest instalment of the ever popular multi-player component. But there is nothing exceptional about it. If the Modus Operandi of the early COD games was excellence, immersion and realism, then the MO for Black Ops was to insert enough explosions and cool shit like people bursting through windows on a grappling rope to make a bad-ass trailer. Consequently the single-player feels a bit like a Michael Bay film, with eye-candy, over the top set pieces and about as much depth as a toddlers paddling pool. The same criticism could perhaps be levelled at last years Modern Warfare 2, where a wilfully controversial level did much to mask the lack of any real substance. One of the main problems is that the core game, the shooting section has remained exactly the same for several years now. So much effort has gone into the set-pieces and even the story, that the actual first-person shooter section of the game is beginning to feel dated and neglected. Instead of being the glue that holds the package together, the shooting is beginning to feel like the dull bit between the set pieces that has to be endured.

The early game has enough variety that you may not immediately notice these problems, you’ll find yourself throughout the course of the game doing things like escaping a prison on a motorbike, piloting a heavily armed riverboat through the treacherous waters of Laos or flying a chopper around blowing up oil pipes. These sections don’t last long, which is probably a good thing as they are more about spectacle and the thrill of doing something new than actually being fun and interesting in their own right. But the very last part of the game is back to basics – run, take cover, shoot the bad guys, proceed ten meters, rinse, repeat. It’s here you’ll notice just how dumb the AI is, never surprising, never being much more than slightly an annoying roadblock that must be cleared before you proceed. You’ll get plenty of different tools to dispose of them, but each is as good as the next and the combat lacks any urgency or tension. Even the obligatory stealth scene in the game feels like little more than an interactive cut-scene. The story is marginally better than recent entries in the series, using a more personal tale as an excuse to visit various cold-war locations and blow them up. There are recurring numbers, crazed Russians, jail-breaks, torture scenes and a big twist at the end that is nicely foreshadowed, if a little obvious. All in all the story gives you enough incentive to keep playing through the campaign, but it would be nice if the game-play was reward enough.

The multi-player is probably the strongest part of the game offering a number of tweaks from Modern Warfare 2 that make it a worthwhile proposition. If you ignore the zombie mode (you should, it’s rubbish), what you’ll find is a mode filled with options for how you want to play, how you want to look and what kinds of games you’ll want to take part in. Choice, customization and one of the best multi-player arcade shooters out there make for a satisfying and long-lasting experience. With 15 levels of prestige to be attained, there’s always something willing you to keep on playing and there’s always something to unlock. Although the mode initially released on the PC with a horrible CPU issue that caused masses of lag, the problem seems to have been patched out now, although some people with lesser PC’s may still want to give it a miss. Guns have proper recoil now, kill-streak rewards are slightly harder to earn and you can slap a picture of a unicorn on your gun if you so choose, a feature sorely lacking from most online shooters. Perhaps the best new feature  of the multi-player is the inclusion of wager matches. Forget the pretence of playing to earn cash, you’ll earn enough through normal play that it will never be a great concern. Wager matches are essentially mods to the core game that ignore your level, weapons and perks and place everyone on a level playing field, each with some fun conditions. My personal favourite is Sticks and Stones, which gives everyone a crossbow with explosive bolts, a tomahawk and the ballistic knife. You earn points through getting kills with these weapons, the person with the most points at the end of the game wins. The twist is that tomahawk kills, hard to pull off but immensely satisfying cause your opponent to lose all their points. The game becomes a tense show-down where skill and timing is everything, you can’t camp or sit still for a moment in case someone comes along and sticks a tomahawk in your vertebrae. The Multi-player segment of Black Ops can be a genuinely good time, but it will still feel overly familiar to players of the last three Call of Duty installments, if you’re not interested in more of the same with new maps and weapons and gamemodes, this isn’t for you.

The Call of Duty series seems to be at a point now where it has transcended criticism. Activision are not a particularly popular company. Their CEO is something of an internet hate figure . Yet this seems to have little impact on their record-smashing sales figures even with a series that runs the risk of becoming mired in mediocrity. The worry is the message Activision and other publishers must be getting from those figures. A yearly release, churned out with a good trailer and a celeb-studded launch party are fast becoming more important than a game being any good. Black Ops is not a bad game, but it’s not the greatest of all-time. But why strive for greatness when middle of the road reaps better rewards? If you don’t care for multi-player you’d be better served avoiding Black Ops, it will leave you reminiscing of the days when the Call of Duty name was a seal of quality.

Cry of Disappointment