Will Preston

Tag: Square Enix

The real choice to make is in what way will you kill people with your robotic arms

by on Sep.11, 2011, under Review, Video Games

Back when the first Deus Ex game was launched on the PC back in 2000, multiple paths and choices in video games was something still restricted to the RPG circles. Fast forward to now and most mainstream games have chosen to take the multiple choice path. Will this concept lose its charm, or is it in need of some much needed expanding? With the release of the latest in the series, Deus Ex Human Revolution (eight years since the disappointing sequel The Invisible War) comes hope of a near perfect action RPG.

Of course, you're not invincible, so watch out

Whilst this is labelled as a sequel, the game takes places several decades before the first game. Somehow, everything looks more flashy and futuristic in 2027 than the grim dystopian landscape of 2050. Maybe it’s a plot inconsistency, or just the latest graphics engine pluming its feathers. The cyborg champion of the day is Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT security chief who is forced to undergo cybernetic surgery after being caught in the crossfire of a terrorist attack. His mission for the rest of the game is pretty straightforward: find those responsible.

I will admit, I wasn’t really expecting the story of narrative to top the original, but it is still heads above a lot of the recent shooters that have come out on the market. Not that it’s a hard thing to do, but still. Eidos have obviously tried to capture the amount of depth that the first game had to it. The worlds are extremely detailed and explorable; Walking around Detroit was actually pleasant for once, but turn down the wrong alley and you could be faced with a random gun fight, or even worse; random side missions.

Now bend over...

I’m not saying the side missions are bad, but imagine trying to read a book when another smaller book plops onto the page for your attention. Oh sure, you can abandon your current read to quickly skim through this new novel, but it begins to feel like the flow of the story suddenly stops. However, on the second play round, I welcome these random excursions with open arms. One of the finer points about them is that they can be quite in depth missions.

At one point in the game, I took time out from the main quest to help an undercover cop investigate two rival gangs. Should it have been any other game, the side mission would have involved a typical three stage affair with little imagination. But in this game, it felt more like another level in its own right. I had to make my own choices on how to deal with each leader of the gang, as well as make a shady meeting with a corrupt cop. I forgot that I was supposed to be tracking down the terrorist group from the beginning of the game.

The only picture of Detroit that doesn't have someone on fire

To help you get through the game with less hassle are the cybernetic upgrades. As with the first Deus Ex game, you get experience points throughout and can improve a large variety of skills from hacking a computer to jumping several metres into the air at the drop of a hat. The only weird change that has been made is the energy system. Now to perform special moves and hand to hand combat, you need to have a charged battery primed and ready. Gone are the varieties of melee weapons. Instead, you take out enemies with a variety of close quarter combat moves. Luckily, it never gets boring.

As well as these defining features, elements from a few other games have been craftily woven in. From the stealth mechanics of Splinter Cell Conviction to the interrogation matrix of LA Noire, it is pretty clear that Eidos were trying to pack everything they could without breaking the seams. Unfortunately, the game is surprisingly short with four endings that require almost zero effort to achieve. By the time I had reached the final level, I was feeling a little duped.

Whilst the game does boast a multiple choice narrative, Deus Ex Human Revolution feels a little too restrictive. The boss fights throughout the game remind you that, unless you made the choice of upgrading yourself for combat rather than stealth (or whatever you actually wanted to do), the whole experience is going to be that little bit harder. But whilst there may not be large amounts of paths to take, the journey is fantastic on all of them. Not quite the original, but the best long awaited sequel yet.

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If at first you don’t succeed, fly a plane into the face of your enemies.

by on Mar.16, 2011, under Review, Video Games

This is the sandbox age of gaming. Nearly all games being released at the moment have as much free roaming as a diplomatically immune cockroach, with about as much capacity for destruction as a particularly angry sun. Square Enix’s recent sojourn with running amok with guns just turned out to be a shining example of what freedom really is. Just Cause 2 has no need for storyline. It also has no need for multiplayer, which is a surprising thing to say, I know! In the fictional island cluster of Panau (somewhere off the coast of China…I think…I wasn’t really paying that much attention), a former US ally, “Baby” Panay suddenly takes over the entire country under an oppressive regime.

There were no seats left

Typically, this is where you enter. Your man for the job is Rico Rodriguez (not voiced by Danny Trejo for some reason), who works for ‘The Agency’ (I will remind you again that story isn’t a feature included in this game. Neither is character depth). Not only do you have to topple the supposedly evil regime, you have to hunt down form Agency agent, Tom Sheldon. That’s the floppy, deflated balloon of a story handled with! To further your way through the game, you must cause chaos. And by chaos, you need to blow up military structures, thieve supplies and generally go Columbine, so to speak. As well as the usual array of weapons to help you complete this questionable charade, Rico also has the ability to grapple hook onto just about everything and summon parachutes from a mysteriously vacant backpack.

The parachute heavy gameplay brought back found memories of the classic chaotic shooter MDK, whilst the grappling hook turned Rico into some kind of Hispanic Spiderman. A neat trick the game teaches you to do is a manoeuvre called ‘catapulting’ which combines the use of the parachute and grappling hook to make every single other mode of transport in the game seemingly redundant. This is probably my only complaint with the game. The nation of Panau covers 40 square kilometres. I haven’t seen a game that big since Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The terrain varies from forest, desert, snowy mountains and offshore facilities. It really is a huge game and a great amount of effort has been applied to ensure that the terrain doesn’t get too boring. Which would be fine, if stealing a jet and crossing the game in a matter of minutes wasn’t possible.

That's about one fifth of the game there

It’s a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to discussing Just Cause 2’s freedom. The whole game is accessible from the moment you press start. And that’s the whole game. The only things you have to work for is trudging towards seeing the end credits and upgrading your weapons. That’s it. The rest of the time can be spent causing chaos at over 300 locations in the game (one of which is a nifty nightclub in the sky aptly called the Mile High Club) or doing whatever you bloody well feel like. There isn’t that much urgency for you to do the next mission considering the only rewards will be more money and another mission. It’s like being allowed to run amok in a supermarket for as long as you want. First it seems a great idea as you start wreaking havoc in the dairy isle and doing all sort of Id-like things that no one in polite society would stand by to let you do. But after you’ve run out of ideas on what things you can do with this amount of freedom and groceries, you start to hit a brick wall when thinking of new things to do. Without much clear structure in a game, you lose drive to keep going. That’s one of the main niggles.

Your anti-gravity grappling hook

The other I was talking about earlier before I rudely interrupted myself with a frankly crap Tesco’s analogy was the massive environment. Now this sounds like something that can’t go wrong. After all, the terrain is varied and it would take a long while to walk from place to place. That is, of course, if you decide to NOT use the catapult technique or any of the easily stealable armada of bikes, cars, choppers and planes that litter the landscape like you’re inside Jeremy Clarkson’s head. Before you know it, that epic sounding 4 kilometer trek across enemy infested territory becomes a laughably drawn out idea as you extract yourself to the nearest airstrip, steal a jet fighter, fly it into the air, get out to stand on top of it and fire a barrage of machine gun bullets from an assault rifle whilst screaming past at over a hundred miles an hour.

The nearest game I could compare this to would be Mercenaries, but instead of readily available airstrikes to flatten any problems, you have more access to vehicles than one man should possibly need. But despite the problems with freedom in Just Cause 2, it provided me with the kind of no holds barred gameplay that provides a great stress relief. Just Cause 2 is currently available at such a cheap price and has such a long length of play that you’d be saving time and money buying this than wasting forty quid an another COD clone.

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