Will Preston

Tag: Xbox 360

Another Rockstar game with great hats

by on Apr.13, 2011, under First Look

This year, I only just managed to catch that brilliant film that is L.A. Confidential. Watching films about morally ambiguous cops wearing hats and suspenders kinda makes you wish you could get away with wearing such a style down to the local Co Op and back. Thankfully, I can just resort to pretending to do that behind the safety of my Xbox pad, as Rockstar Games once again avoid releasing another Grand Theft Auto.

Originally announced for the Playstation 3 as an exclusive title (bringing their exclusive title library to almost double figures), L.A. Noire eventually moved over to the cross platform side of the party (that’s a damn good party to be at). The game takes place in the city of Los Angeles (I’ll pause why you calm down from surprise) at the end of the Forties, where men were men and women were more woman-ish than they are nowadays. Lousy women’s liberation grumble grumble. You’ll be on the side of the law this time as you’ll play a detective caught up in corruption and murder to a pleasant jazz soundtrack that fits in nicely. Nothing says corrupt murder like a trumpet solo.

One of the main features of the game is the new motion scan technology that makes the faces move more face-like. Now for the first time in a videogame, people will actually have more than five expressions. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes that technology and bastardises it into a game where you run around making bizarre faces at people. Mind you, as long as it has a decent multiplayer, I’d still buy it.

The game is set to have the same gameplay layout to Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, but will probably allow you less bazooka rampages than you would get from Niko Bellic. If it’s anything like the first Mafia game, the cars will look nice, but handle like a bath on wheels, whilst the guns will shoot people…providing you aim them correctly. Not much to say on that really, is there. Ok, we’ll probably see a saturation of Tommy guns, leading to gamers everywhere to shout out endless James Cagney lines at an annoying volume.

So far, L.A. Noire is looking to fill that Trilby shaped hole for now that Mafia 2 failed miserably at doing. After taking nearly seven years and around $50 million to make it will be released next month on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

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The XBOX has lost weight…and hardware problems. A first look at the XBOX 360 Slim.

by on Jun.19, 2010, under First Look

XBOX 360 Slim

Why always obsidian black? When will the first ever tweed console hit our stores?

If you haven’t got a new console coming out soon, why not flog the old one off with go faster stripes? During the last console generation, the Playstation 2 squeezed out a slimline version of itself for gamers with increasingly shrinking space in their rooms. Not only was the slimline model impressively compressed, but it was sold at a cheaper price. How else would you fob off what is essentially the same thing, but midgetized?

Last year saw Sony playing the same tactic with the Playstation 3. The slimline version consume less power, as well as desk space. Not wanting to be outdone, Microsoft have decided to go in the same direction; making the XBOX more like the Playstation 3.

Speaking as an XBOX owner, I do prefer playing a 360, but I will admit that the Playstation 3 is a superior console in terms of hardware. Built in Wi-Fi connection, SATA based hard drive as well as the console itself operating on a whisper. Famous for its painful red ring, the 360s new outfit sees an end to the console haemorrhaging all over the floor after 3 hours of play, as well as shushing it’s loud operating noise. This has been an ongoing problem that has caused owners to waste money further on external fans that do as much for the over heating problem as giving the console a camp hand fanning.

Now Microsoft have, after a couple of years, ‘sorted’ this problem. One does remain slightly at guard of another side effect occurring. Another fantastic feature is the inclusion of more USB ports. Well, good if you have Rock Band’s many wired instruments.

But believe it or not, this is not the consoles biggest selling point.

As seen at the E3 this year, Sony and Microsoft have drunkenly stumbled into Nintendo’s motion pad waving twat demographic. Whilst Sony went with the ‘copy and paste’ method, Microsoft went with the slightly more subtle ‘borrow’ method.

The Kinect is the Eye Toy crossed with a Wii-mote. A sensing camera that allows the user to get more inside the game. Well, I say game. All that has been demonstrated so far is stroking a tiger. A well rendered tiger, but a one-dimensional concept nonetheless. The new XBOX console will have ‘special ports’ to connect with this motion device.

Oh, and it’s got HDMI, separate optical audio out port and a 250GB hard drive included. The new console is more of an apology than an update.

Here’s to the end of sponging off the XBOX 360s much used warranty!

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Sam Fisher’s only conviction: He could be a vampire?

by on Apr.25, 2010, under News

Splinter Cell Conviction - 3

Sam Fisher: About to suck someones blood through their neck? Almost...

There’s one thing that me and Sam Fisher have in common; we both do our Splinter Cell-ing in the dark. When I Splinter Cell (verb) it’s in the dark confines of my room in front of the XBOX, mind. Everyone’s favourite Solid Snake for people who don’t like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ returns in the second game to the series to actually have a storyline. I was shocked myself. Whilst the first three games were generic and concerned itself with an over arching mission than a strong narrative, ‘Splinter Cell Conviction’ gives a progressing story with some indulgent cinematic moments. The whole game plays out like a long episode of ’24’ rather than a typical Tom Clancy game. The story continues directly after the last game, ‘Double agent’, where Sam has left his NSA branch Third Echelon due to frankly being fed up over the death of his daughter (run over in a drunken hit and run accident), as well as shooting his long running boss, and “friend”, Lambert in the face.

Now on the run from Third Echelon and other forces of interest, Solid Sam finds himself in Malta after getting a tip about more information on his daughters killer. This cues an intervention from being bullet ridden dead by Anna Grimsdottir (“Grim” for short), a long running character who will be as familiar to players of the series as a picture of the New York sewer system painted pink. So we no have a guy constantly using his mobile phone in pursuit of a killer whilst a tech support girl yells things at him down a phone; yes, it’s basically the new series of 24, complete with added “interrogation scenes”. And by “interrogation”, I mean “torture”. And by “scenes”, I mean “mini-wrestling match”. Even Michael Ironside’s vocals for Sam bear a slight resemblance to Jack Bauer. Thank go he wasn’t chasing a bomb as well. Actually he kinda was, but it was an EMP weapon. Does that still count?

Anyway, away from potential copyright infringement and onto the game play. It’s rare that a sequel to a game is made simultaneously simple, yet difficult. Gone are the gadgets that made every single level of previous games a walk through if you knew what you were doing. Also gone is the light sensor. Instead, if you enter pockets of darkness, the screen turns black and white whilst enemies stand out brightly in colour, something that reflects on Sam’s trained ability at hiding in shadows and working in the dark. Which brings to question about previous games: Why did he even uses the night vision goggles as all? I was never able to enjoy the graphics of the early ‘Splinter Cell’ games due to viewing every level in grainy black and white “enhance-o-vision”. The levels could have been rendered on a an Atari and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference due to the fuzzy vision and the screen being 80% pitch black. But now that graphics have improved to such an extent, the developers couldn’t bear hiding their lubberly rendered work behind Sam’s shite-vision goggles. The graphics do look nice, but nothing much has improved since ‘Double Agent’. Except maybe a tweak on frame rate. But really there is no dire need for a major graphic overhaul.

There has been a gameplay overhaul, however, in the form of the “mark and execute” mechanic. Now instead of aiming clumsily to take out a group of bad bastards in a hurry, you can plan ahead and let Sam do the rest of the work. He’s nice like that. The only eyebrow raising aspect of it is that Sam needs to perform a hand to hand take down in order to “store” an execution. The executions themselves are fantastic, providing you have “marked” a good amount of enemies. It’s got the same appeal as the VATS system from ‘Fallout 3′; an option to automatically kill your enemies stylishly without having to worry about direct input. Sam’s new super power hasn’t bored me yet. So he’s hiding in the dark with super-human vision and gaining superpowers by doing unspeakable things to peoples necks? Is he a vampire? No. Not yet. I think they’ll save that for the next one. Hopefully.

After completing the twisty-turny-twentyfour-y plot, the game treats you to more extra co op and skirmish missions than any other splinter cell game. The only thing lacking is a sufficient multiplayer death match mode. Mano a Mano is the flavour, but you can choose to have grunts litter the place with snappable necks. The co op missions themselves follow a prequel leading to the main story. With a friend, you take the role of two other splinter cell agents with action man faces and an alternative costume wardrobe that questions how seriously they take their missions. You can infiltrate a heavily armed Russian embassy in your bloody jeans and tee shirt. I’m not complaining about the casual nature of the clothing, but if you’re going to offer an unrealistic alternative costume, then why not go the whole hog and allow you to engage in a gun fight dressed as Adolf Hitler in a nappy. I refuse to buy another Ubisoft game until my suggestions are taken note of.

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A letter to Infinity Ward. RE: Refund on Modern Warfare 2

by on Apr.23, 2010, under Review, Video Games

Dear Infinity Ward,

I am writing in regards to a possible refund on my purchase of your last title: ‘Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – West Ham nil’ (excuse the crap joke, but I couldn’t resist). After a few weeks playing this game, I was convinced this was the only game I would ever need. Needless to say I was proven wrong. You may not have noticed my absence from your , frankly on retrospect, lagging servers, but I can assure that all my time put aside for playing military games has now been spent playing the, yet again frankly, superior ‘Battlefield Bad Company 2′. There are many reasons why this is technically better than your last attempt, so I will try and list clearly as possible.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 - 3For a start, you can ride vehicles. Yes, I know that you could ride a snow mobile for a small section of the one player mode as well as some scripted sections, but it’s pretty pitiful in comparison to BC2’s offering of jeeps, tanks, boats, helicopters and even a jet ski. Not only that, but some of the larger vehicles have multiple gunner seats. This feature has made game play far more compelling that MW2 and adds a good amount of variety in multiplayer matches, which brings me onto my next point.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 - 4Now you hold the crown for best online shooter. Your customisation system was pretty extensive, but frankly overblown. There are several weapons and abilities that I plan to never use unless forced to. Also, the pacing is too fast. My team will usually sprint around the place less like a military unit, but more like a school trip with no teacher. Teamwork is a foreign concept. Were it not for the points penalisation and friendly fire, I would have probably been gunned down by my co players just for them to upgraded themselves. You would need to take a look at BC2’s multiplayer. For a start, the pacing is far better. You have infinity sprint, but the players don’t gallop like caffeine snorting rats. Teamwork is also not only a bonus, but a must. The class system is used in this game and makes the experience far better. Different classes have different ways of providing much needed help to their team. The teams are also bigger and allow smaller squads allowing a more tactical approach to playing on the continent sized maps. There are minimal match modes, but quite frankly it only needs one: Rush mode. It’s what you people should have been doing with Modern Warfare 2 instead of this Capture The Flag malarkey. Rush mode takes place in several round and moves from one section of the map to another to simulate an attacking force advancing on a number of enemy bases. This is the closest to a war I’ve played in a game without it being a strung together collection of movie references (no offence!). And there’s not hyperactive prepubescent boys screeching my ear in matches, but I can’t blame that the game is so simple it attracts toddlers on you.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 - 2The one player mode in MW2 is still better for storyline purposes. I don’t think any other game will even dare to reach the level of Adam Ant madness that you offered in your campaign mode. But BC2 still lasted at least twice as long, so that’s another cross against you.

I end this letter saying that I don’t really hold too much hope of you bettering BC2 on your next offering (Modern Warfare 3: Everyone Dies), not unless you start treating your player like an adult rather than the sugar frothing child that he (most of the time) is. I’m not interested in your late and tacked on map pack. If you could please refund me the £60 I spent on the special edition copy of MW2 as soon as possible I won’t seek legal action.

Thank you for your time.

Will Preston

Ex-COD fan

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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

by on Nov.30, 2009, under Review, Video Games

Call Of Duty - Modern Warfare 2 - 1After the roller-coaster gunathon that was ‘Call Of Duty 4′, how could things get any better? How could you top fast paced action, a nuclear explosion and an unrivalled multiplayer experience? Several months of trailers and articles and I am already immersed in what has been quoted as the most anticipated game ever. The game is split into 3 modes: Story, Spec Ops and Multiplayer.

Let’s start with story. As usual, you assume the role of a handful of soldiers fighting in different situations. The story takes place directly after the last Modern Warfare and proceeds by making so much shit hit the fan that the fan is now clogged up beyond repair. Botched CIA operations, full blown war against America, several shocking plot twists, and a rather disturbing scene in an airport make this movie-like experience worth all the fuss. The only downside is that a determined player (i.e. Me) would have this licked in around 4 hours. Onto to Spec Ops mode. This is a new co op mode that feels a lot like the random challenges ‘Timesplitters’ loved to throw at you. 23 varied missions for 2 players to conquer including a rather nice spectre gunship level. And of course there’s the new multiplayer. Call Of Duty - Modern Warfare 2 - 2

Not much to say here for people who are familiar, apart from that there are now 70 experience levels, far better maps, more gun customisation, as well as over 10 new kill streaks from controlling a remote missile to calling in a tactical nuke. Leave a note of absence to everyone you know; this game will draw you in like no other experience.

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Left 4 Dead

by on Feb.18, 2009, under News, Review, Video Games

Left 4 Dead - Survivors

Pictured: a wide demograph

Zombies; a well used monster in the horror movie genre. Whether there are a crowd of shambling corpses or a gang of sprinting cadavers, horror fans are entertained. But the real focus in most zombie movies is never usually the zombies themselves, but the survival and day to day lives of the heroes depicted. “Half-Life” creators, Valve, have created a zombie game that focuses solely on working together as a team.

“Left 4 Dead” features four different survivors, a handful of weapons and an entire horde of screaming, scratching and smelly undead to defend against. Players can choose one of four campaigns, each taking place in different locations. The first campaign has you fighting across a city, through the subway, ending with an epic showdown on a hospital roof.Of course, walking the streets is never easy.

Along with the ravenous hordes, you also have to contend against special “boss” zombies with unique abilities. For example, a “Smoker” can constrict and asphyxiate players with a large frog-like tongue. Such situations like these call upon your partners in the game to free you from such constraints.

Left 4 Dead - Horde

Lucozade adverts just got weirde...

Playing online with friends is the preferred method to play this game, as the team work element shines its best this way. Despite a great co operative experience, the game feels a little let down by lack of weapon variety and slightly dated looking graphics. So far that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the survival experience that all zombie fans have been waiting for.

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Resident Evil 5 – Demo

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Review, Video Games

Resident Evil 5 - Sheva

Never an ugly sidekick

The number thirteen has always been shrouded in a macabre and mysterious light. What better way than to celebrate the thirteen harrowing years that the Resident Evil saga has provided us with. It seems only yesterday that I was screaming in terror after a group of zombies dived at my through a window for the first time. That’s enough nostalgia for now.

XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 owners have been given the chance to preview the latest game in the series; Resident Evil 5. Taking place in Africa, the player takes control of Chris Redfield, the all round apple pie scoffing muscle man from the first game, as he investigates reports of a viral outbreak. In the Resident Evil world, Viral outbreak is usually followed by mass amount of zombies.

Chris is joined by Alomar, a beautiful local who provides support and teamwork to the gameplay. To look at, the game is astounding. Your eyes adjust to the ingame lighting and the detail on surroundings provides an in depth experience. The infected locals are vicious and well armed.

Resident Evil 5 - Firefight

Textbook standoff

One of the demo levels required me to barricade Chris inside a house in an attempt to hold them off, only to have the windows, door, and even the ceiling to be penetrated by a horde of bloodthirsty zombies.With 2 playable levels on this demo, Online and offline 2 player support included, I am already shaking with anticipation for March. An intense experience indeed.

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Rock Band 2

by on Jan.14, 2009, under Review, Video Games

Rock Band 2 - Box

Poncey hair not included

Hair sprayed blonde perm? Check! Tight spandex jumpsuit? Check! Grade 8 music talent? Ah, it’s only a game! Ever since the Guitar Hero series rocked the world with it’s mock rock styling’s, gamers and rock fans alike have been air guitar-ing to such an extent, that it was only a matter of time until they turned up the amps of rock experience on the series.

Rock Band 2 perfects itself as the sequel to the greatest music based party game of all. As well as being able to download songs off the internet (for a fee of course), songs from the first Rock Band can be uploaded as well. But with that said, Rock Band has a fantastic set list in its own right. With classic songs such as AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” and the legendary “Living On a Prayer”, you’ll be the envy (and annoyance) of your neighbours for weeks to come.

Players can take part in the new and improved “World Tour” mode, where you take your freshly created band on the road, making fans, money, and even staff, along the way.

Rock Band 2 - Party Play

Do this for too long and you'll see falling colours in your sleep!

With Rock Band being such a perfect game, there wasn’t need for many improvements in a sequel, but Rock Band 2 went further, by adding a drum trainer, an improved song select screen and “No Fail” mode; perfect for first timers/drunken friends.

Providing you pay the extra money for the complete instrument package, you have yourself the party experience of a lifetime. But as AC/DC said; “It’s a long way to the top…”

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Call Of Duty: World At War

by on Jan.14, 2009, under Review, Video Games

Call Of Duty: World At War - Flamethrower

Jack Bauers method of making toast

To the dismay of history students, veterans, and anyone else who just wants to forget about the bloodiest conflict of human history, Activision bring us the next title in their acclaimed Call Of Duty series. The flawless control system remains rightfully untouched and the graphic engine has been tweaked to make eyes around the world burst out of their sockets.

Speaking of which, is the violence. Oh the violence. It’s the closest to Saving Private Ryan I’ve ever seen a game get to. Grisly detail on dismemberment, torrents of blood splatter, as well as a vicious torture scene all combine to make an experience that will cause wincing and utterances of “ow, painful”.

With that in hand, the game takes a far darker tone with an almost horror movie atmosphere in some levels. The game is split into two historic campaigns; The US Marines fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, and the Russians side of the war. To give a certain cinematic quality to the playing experience, 24’s Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman voice two of the games main characters.

Call Of Duty: World At War - Running

There's a lot of running

With Oldman playing the Russian Sergeant Reznov, the siege of Stalingrad had a dramatic feeling like I was very willed to progress. Of course, these campaigns can now be played with a friend (or four if you have XBOX Live), or you can always play the improved multiplayer mode on XBOX Live, with tanks now included in the fray. An outstanding, if gruesome, audition to the series.

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Fallout 3

by on Jan.06, 2009, under Review, Video Games

Fallout 3 - Dogmeat

Top dogging!

It’s been ten gruelling years for the old fans, but the third instalment to one of the finest RPGs’ is here. Fallout 3 has you fighting for survival amongst the wastes of a nuclear bombed world (Washington DC to be exact). Think Mad Max meets I Am Legend, but with less Mel Gibson and more action. The game has an interesting structure where you start the game creating your characters’ appearance, sex, skills, favourite AC/DC song etc. After the ‘human play-doh mould’ process you play throughout key points in your childhood (in the safety of a communal nuclear bunker).

Happy life amongst the sterile neon glow of the bunker takes a gear change into abandonment, when your own father (soothingly voiced by A-list actor Liam Neeson) ventures into the outside world, leaving a trail of revelation and chaos behind. Already at this point of the adventure you are making choices that affect the rest of the course of the game. Morality and karma are major elements, affecting the reactions from characters and how the game ends.

Fallout 3 - Dead Mutant

The handstand gun!

The visuals are breathtaking; you can see for miles around, the attention to detail smothers you with atmosphere and the *ahem* violence is jaw dropping in its own sick right.

Fighting can be fought either in “real time!” or “turn based” depending on how lucky you feel, ending with nice slow motion deaths focusing on the juicy kill. A radiating experience that delivers a lasting experience. In other words; it’s the bomb!

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