Thursday, 17 February 2011

007 Bloodstone review

James Bond games are few and far between, and usually tie in with the latest addition to the extremely successful movie franchise. Bloodstone however, is a completely original story, bringing an exclusive Bond mission to the gaming world. Is it 007 heaven or is it destined to be shunned by true Bond fans? Read on for our verdict.

Bloodstone's opening mission is probably the most explosive and is definitely inspired by the movies it shares the name with. Consisting of shooting, driving a boat and car, and lots of explosions, it's the mission that most makes you feel like Bond. It's also a good indication of what the rest of the game will be. Almost nothing new is introduced throughout the game, which unfortunately leads to some boredom later in the game. The only noticeable gameplay mechanic introduced later is the operation of a crane to defeat a boss, and whilst it is a nice change, it’s not a game saver.

One of the many car chases

The story focuses primarily on Bond hunting down an evil millionaire, Stefan Pomerov, who is trying to weaponise smallpox and anthrax. The mission sees Bond travelling all over the world, from Siberia to Athens to Monaco and many more. With twists, turns, evil Europeans, glamorous cars and beautiful women, it has everything that Bond is known for. The story isn’t as interesting as it could have been, and it’s easy to find yourself bored by the cutscenes. The visuals are definitely pretty though, so at least you have something to look at. Daniel Craig, Joss Stone and Dame Judi Dench all lend their appearance and voices to the game, and the graphics on Bond in particular are really quite impressive. The fact that the actors and actresses have helped make the game does give it an authentic feel, but again, doesn’t add to the gameplay.

The third person on foot sections, which make up the majority of the game, are clearly inspired by Splinter Cell Conviction, which is not a bad game to take ideas from. The shooting is very similar; shoot from the hip, look down the sight or blind fire from cover. The similarities start to turn to blatant copying when you learn of executions. Taking down an enemy in hand to hand combat grants you execution power, and you can stack up to three at a time. Hold LB and the game will automatically target an enemy, trigger slow motion and one shot from any gun will take the enemies down. Having more than one execution at hand means the game automatically switches to the next enemy. It's slightly different to Splinter Cell Conviction, but not quite as good. It’s a shame that the game relies so heavily on the ideas created by SC:C, as some new ideas would have really bumped up the credibility of the game.

The multiplayer is surprisingly good, offering not only the standard modes such as team deathmatch, but an objective based game for up to 16 players, which is where the multiplayer really shines. The players are split into two teams and must progress through a number of objectives such as opening gates, planting bombs and transporting items. One team attacks and one defends, allowing for some hectic battles near objectives. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table but is good fun all the same. There is a good selection of weapons and characters to choose from, and more are unlocked as you progress through the ranks by earning kills, objectives and bonus medals. Whilst the multiplayer can be good, it’s not worth buying the game for.

Bond even has the trademark Daniel Craig pout

As an overall package, Bloodstone is a distinctly average game. It clearly has a big budget, but it seems to be relying too heavily on the fact that it has A list actors, pretty graphics and the Bond name, as the story is uninteresting, the gameplay consists of borrowed ideas and is generally repetitive. Bloodstone will bring a smile to the face of existing Bond fans, but it is unlikely that it will draw in a whole new audience. It is definitely a wasted opportunity.


by Louis Gardner

Nintendo's 'Seeing Is Believing' UK tour


Discover the ground breaking technology
of Nintendo’s latest handheld games console before it launches in shops, as the Nintendo 3DS ‘Seeing is Believing’ tour kicks off 24th February
The new handheld featuring 3D without the need for glasses

Monday 14th February 2011 - Nintendo today announced it would be giving thousands of people the opportunity to experience the Nintendo 3DS before it launches on 25th March by hosting a series of free public events in city centres around the country.

The Nintendo 3DS Believe Your Eyes’ tour spends four days in each location, kicking off on Thursday 24th February in Braehead, Glasgow and St Andrews Square in Edinburgh. It then moves on to the Metro Centre in Newcastle (from 3rd March) and the Westfield Shopping Centre in London (from 10th March). The tour also visits Lakeside in Thurrock (from 17th March). Locations also confirmed are Westfield, Derby (from 24th March) the CentreMK, Milton Keynes and Covent Garden, London on launch day 25th March.

The Nintendo 3DS is the first device to offer 3D entertainment without the need for special glasses. It features two screens, three cameras, a motion sensor and a ‘3D Depth Slider’ that gives total control over the level of 3D that characters and objects have on screen.

The vivid 3D graphics and the immersive experience the Nintendo 3DS offers need to be seen to be believed and so Nintendo is taking its one-of-a-kind console out to the public with four-day events happening up and down the country from 24thFebruary.

During the events, everyone will get hands-on time with the new console and will be able to try a range of incredible 3D games like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition,Pilotwings Resort, nintendogs + cats and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D.

Nintendo changed the world of video games with touch-screen gaming in 2004 and motion-controlled gaming in 2006. Now it is pioneering the next dimensional shift by introducing portable entertainment in 3D – without the need for special glasses, with the launch of Nintendo 3DS.

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Stacking review

Stacking is the latest game from Double Fine Productions, offering a healthy dose of adventuring and puzzles. Focusing on a world and characters that have not been used before in gaming, Stacking was a risky move for Tim Schafer and his team. Does the risk pay off, or will it be confined to the history books as the one that tried too hard?

 Set in a vintage world inhabited by Russian stacking dolls, Stacking tells the story of the Blackmore family, and more importantly, little Charlie Blackmore. His father is offered a great job by the evil Baron, which would finally relieve the family of their financial woes. It seems too good to be true, and it is; the Baron has his father trapped and soon enough he kidnaps the Blackmore children and forces them to work on the railways, ships and zeppelins. Charlie is left behind, deemed too small and useless to be of any help. Bad move. What Charlie lacks in size, he more than makes up for in fearless determination and bravery. And so Charlie leaves his mother and sets off an a huge adventure.

A visual explanation of stacking

The story is split up into four areas. First is the Royal Train Station, which is both the first level, and a hub for the other three areas. You are taught the basic stacking methods, how to use intuition and hints, and you will get your first taste of how the rest of the game will work. There are literally dozens of dolls in every level, and over twenty of them per level are unique. You can stack into a doll which is one size larger than you, so by stacking into one larger each time, you can end up controlling a character which towers over the other dolls. The dolls also have unique powers, some useful, some just fun. Each level in Stacking consists of a number of puzzles, which can be completed by utilising the powers of a certain doll. But for almost every puzzle, there is not just one solution. The real challenge comes from finding each and every solution to all of the puzzles. You will need to use some lateral thinking to figure out which doll will be suitable for the task. For example, an early puzzle sees you trying to empty an exclusive lounge. One way is to lure the guard away with a beautiful, seductive lady before unstacking and running through the door and annoying the snotty waiter. This method is fine, but to fully complete the game you must find another way. A quick look around the station will introduce you to a number of characters which could potentially solve the puzzle. Try it out and maybe it will work, maybe not. It’s all a part of the fun of the game.

Seduction power in action

As well as the puzzles, there are other challenges and rewards on offer. To get full completion, you must find each unique doll throughout every level, and you must complete a number of Hi-Jinks. Finding the unique dolls can be fun, can be easy but can also be challenging and time consuming. Once again, you may need to use another doll’s power to allow you to stack into them. Finding each unique doll on each level usually happens when progressing through the story and completing challenges, but now and then there are some dolls that can be confusing to get into to. The Hi-Jinks are basically pranks that you pull on other dolls. Sometimes you must do it on a specific doll, sometimes only female or only male dolls, and sometimes anyone will do. These challenges can be as easy as using a flatulent man to stink out the place, or delivering a powerful uppercut to ten different people. They can also use two different dolls, one for the set up and one for the final blow. For example, use a very ill man to sneeze on a group of people, and then use a waited to give soup to the newly sick. Completing these is very satisfying and upon completion you will get a bonus in the way of a golden item or piece of clothing.

It isn’t perfect across all areas though. The camera can get annoying when in claustrophobic locations, and coupled with the sometimes awkward controls, it can make a simple situation quite confusing. At times, leaving a key doll unattended for too long will cause them to go for a walk, which can be annoying if speed is essential, and generally because you made the effort to put them there in the first place. This doesn’t happen as much as the other issues, thankfully, but is still a minor annoyance.

With beautiful visuals, emotional storytelling, great humour and some of the best ideas in gaming, Stacking has a lot to offer. The control and camera issues do detract from the experience slightly, but not enough for you to miss this game. You may find issue with that fact that it only takes a few hours to complete the game to 100%, but it isn’t a big problem. The game is so adorable and can be played by the whole family, so it doesn’t matter that it’s a bit short. A slightly smaller price tag would make the game more appealing but if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth it. It’s definitely one of the most stylish and unique games on the Xbox Live Marketplace and will undoubtedly stay with you for a long time.


by Louis Gardner

Monday, 14 February 2011

Portal 2 Pre-Order Details

Variety of Savings and Exclusive Content Offered at Participating Outlets Worldwide

February 14, 2011 - Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Lifeand Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced that outlets worldwide (retailers and Steam) are now accepting pre-order reservations for Portal 2, the epic sequel named the "Most Anticipated Game of 2011" at the Spike TV Video Game Awards.
            Special pre-order offers vary at participating outlets around the world and include a variety of dollars off and/or exclusive in-game content for those who reserve the game for purchase before it is released the week of April 18. These include $5 off the full price, exclusive in-game skins for the coop bots (Atlas and P-body), and more. Check your favorite outlet for details.
            "Portal 2 is shaping up to be the most innovative title in Valve's history, and to be a much larger experience than we originally planned," said Doug Lombardi, vice president of marketing at Valve. "As such, we are aggressively promoting the title with more retail promotions than we have put behind any prior release."
            The highly anticipated sequel to 2007's Game of the Year, Portal 2 is a hilariously mind-bending adventure that challenges you to use wits over weaponry in a funhouse of diabolical science. Using a highly experimental portal device, you'll once again face off against a lethally inventive, power-mad A.I. named GLaDOS. And this time you won't be alone. Meet an expanded cast of characters as you think your way through dangerous, never-before-seen areas of Aperture Laboratories.
            Break the laws of spatial physics in ways you never thought possible, with a wider variety of portal puzzles and an expansive story that spans a single player and co-operative game mode.
            Available for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Macintosh computers, Portal 2 is scheduled to ship worldwide the week of April 18, 2011. For more information, please visit