h1

Metal Gear Solid 4: Twin Suns

June 24, 2008

Photobucket

Having recently finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots I feel safe to say that it is easily one of the greatest videogames I have ever had the pleasure to play. As a consummate Metal Gear fan I was prepared for lengthy cut scenes, codec conversations that threatened the half-an-hour mark, and plot threads more tangled than a fisherman’s knot. In fact, I was more than prepared for these things. I wanted them, and I certainly got what I wanted.

Despite nearly falling asleep at the end, and the layers upon layers of exposition that sometimes felt more endurance test than game, I fell in love. The devotion to character, imagination and setting is absolute, and inarguably as good as anything Kojima has offered before. The Beauty and The Beast unit typify the idiosyncratic nature of the auteur’s vision when it comes to crafting memorable set-pieces.

The non-interactive chunks of MGS’s playtime have long been the cause of a splintering of gamers into love-it or hate-it camps. The cutscenes found in MGS4 are unashamedly lengthy, and while some devote whole sections to narrative and conversation (which is still entertaining in its own right) it’s the expertly composed actions sequences that truly electrify. Even the word ‘expertly’ fails to convey just how well constructed these visual spectacles are. Surpassing even Spielberg’s on-screen creations Kojima’s choreography feels like a blend of Bruckheimer and Woo-Ping Yuen – with a cheeky pinch of Lynch thrown in for good measure.

There’s a new fluidity to gameplay, providing the player with a Metal Gear experience that is less rigid in its reliance on stealth. And it’s certainly not coy in its sharing of gameplay elements with other triple-A titles. However, this is turning into a mini-review, and I don’t intend to do a review any time soon (I’d have given it a nine, if you’re wondering). What I would like to talk about is one very specific section, one of the game’s five acts that’s up there with the finest moments I’ve ever enjoyed in my life as a hardcore gamer.

Read on to find out more, but beware. There are epic spoilers ahead.

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Could it really be Single-Player Game Over? A reflection on the single player experience.

June 5, 2008

 Originally written for Nuclear Geek.com  

Photobucket  

Photobucket

“Alone in the Dark is a beautifully crafted single-player adventure game. I don’t think the industry is going to make many more of those.” These were the words of one-time SCE WWS president Phil Harrison, in a recent interview with Eurogamer.net. “I just don’t think consumers want to be playing games that don’t have some kind of network connectivity to them,” he continued, “Or some kind of community embedded in them, or some kind of extension available through downloadable content.” Revising his statement to Kotaku, he made it clear that, “The single-player, disconnected console game is probably in its dotage.”

It’s quite a declaration, to assert the demise of a major element of gaming that has been at its core for many decades. It’s true that videogames are changing, in considerable and diverse directions. Consumers increasingly want network connectivity in one form or another in the titles they play, and its inclusion is becoming ever more ubiquitous with each release. Nonetheless, is it really fair to rule out a stand alone, single player experience altogether?

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

May 31, 2008

Originally written for Nuclear Geek.com

Photobucket

Photobucket

As Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is just around the corner, I have recently played my way through MGS2 and MGS3 (I’m currently bidding on a copy of MGS: Twin Snakes…fingers crossed I’m the winning bidder). Most of my gaming friends have commented that they couldn’t quite get into MGS3 for various reasons, and that they consider MGS2 to be the pinnacle of the series. I don’t agree. I love MGS2, I even accept Raiden as a protagonist (to play as the au fait Snake would have weakened the plot), but the game doesn’t have the same pull for me as MGS3: Snake Eater. As ridiculous as its subtitle is MGS3 stands out on top. Not over MGS1 mind, but that’s another story for another day. Read on to find out why, in my humble (and very long) opinion, MGS3 has sneaked its way past MGS2.

And beware, there be spoilers abound.

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

The Gaming Horizon – Heavy Rain

May 16, 2008
Originally written for Nuclear Geek.com

Photobucket

Photobucket

Welcome to my column, The Gaming Horizon, a semi-regular piece about the upcoming games you should definitely be keeping an eye on. Today I’m going to look at Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. The Paris-based developer are responsible for such cult favourites as Omikron: The Nomad Soul (also know as David Bowie: The Game) and the critically acclaimed yet financially panned Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit depending on which side of the pond you come from). Indigo Prophecy did some really cool things concerning the effects of decisions, branching storylines and time-based event triggers. It’s the sort of innovation that Quantic Dream hope to expand upon in Heavy Rain. Now before you read on, watch the video below. I mean, really watch it.

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

GTA IV – Is it worth all the fuss?

May 8, 2008
Originally written for Nuclear Geek.com

Photobucket

Photobucket

Since the rest of the internet has had a complete nerdgasm and exploded its love all over the beast that is GTA IV, it’s about time that Nuclear Geek gives its two pennies worth on the matter. Is it really that good? Does it live up to the hype? Is it truly the most important game of this generation? Well, being the informative site on all things geek that we are – and the fact that I’ve personally played over 30 hours of it (the in-game stats have labelled my addiction level as ‘bummed in the gob’) we’ve gone and compiled a rundown of all things GTA IV.

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Blacksite: Area 51 Review

April 25, 2008

Photobucket

It feels, sometimes, that the criticism end of the industry can be a little unforgiving. Titles that don’t stand up to the might of the GTAs, Halos and Marios of the gaming sphere are sometimes unfairly penalized for not achieving the high standards of concept, design and gameplay. It’s undue denigration. If a title doesn’t accomplish similar levels of unique and careful sophistication there’s no reason to dismiss it. The game in question should be deemed of its worth on its individual merits. So with that in mind, does Blacksite: Area 51 stand up on its own?

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Mirror’s Edge

April 24, 2008

Putting the ‘person back into ‘first-person’

Photobucket

It was a year ago when Rebellion attempted to apply the concept of free running to a third-person template in the average PS2 title Free Running, a game that stumbled in its attempts to translate the dexterity of the sport into an engaging and fluid experience. What’s exciting about DICE’s Mirror’s Edge is that may just get it right. While its parkour-based gameplay is focused less on the aestheticism of free running and more on the quick, efficient movement from point A to point B, the power of the PS3 is just what’s needed to turn the gymnastic activity into an adrenaline-fuelled game. And guess what. It’s all seen from the first-person.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.