Friday, 14 June 2013

Thoughts on the Xbox One

Now I want to make it clear from the outset that I have never really considered myself a 'fangirl' of any of the consoles. I have owned most of them since I began gaming and can honestly say that the only thing that has ever made me favour one console over another is if that console SUITED my needs better. For example, when I asked for a GameCube for my birthday one year, it was mainly because my brother already had the PS2 and I knew I wouldn't be allowed online on the Xbox.

The GameCube was the first console bought solely for me and I adored it. A couple of years later I owned my own PS2 and Xbox, but really for me at the time GameCube had my heart, followed closely by the PS2. When the next gen was released I went straight to Xbox 360 and have never looked back. I purchased a Wii a little later, for something a bit different and finally a PS3 when I had more money than sense.

I can honestly say that, whilst I don't regret buying the PS3 I do feel it has been mistreated in my house, it has never been, and will never be our primary games console. It has been used for PS3 exclusives and Bluray and that is about it. Until I bought Ni No Kuni last month I don't think I had played a game on it since Heavy Rain. I hate the long drawn out updates (that it seems to need everytime I turn the damn thing on!) I dislike how cheap and flimsy the controller feels. In short, there isn't actually much I enjoy about the PS3 as a games console.

The Xbox 360 was (and still is) the gaming console for me. It suits me well. It has a vast array of games that can cater to any of my whims. I have a huge game collection for it, including over 300 XBLA and XBLIG titles. I love the controller. I love my special Gears console. I love the background updates.

But recently it has been clear where Microsoft are going. Slowly but surely more and more useless junk has been spreading onto my 360. Sky, which I don't care about. Facebook, which we all have on our phone. Mounds of apps that mostly do the same bloody thing. ADVERTS ON THE DASH - that was a real joy-killer. And the death of Inside Xbox and SentUAMessage, seemed like the final death knoll. But I stuck by my machine - after all I have no issues with it as a games console, which is all I wnat it to be.

So when they announced the Xbox One I didn't get that excited. I sat with baited breath and watched the reveal on my 360. And even though my expectations hadn't actually been that high, I finished watching it feeling deflated.

TV, TV, TV, TV, Television, TV, TV. It was heard a ridiculous amount of times during the unveiling of a GAMES console. What made it worse was that a lot of the 'features' seem to be for our cousins on the other side of the pond. I guess we'll see. But for a long while the USA have had more varied apps and features than us poor Brits and the Xbox One seems to be carrying on that trend.

Then they announced the very controversial DRM. Now I have to admit that whilst it irked me a little it didn't pee me off to the extent it has others. I rarely buy second hand games so at first I struggled to understand how it would affect me. But I really disliked the control they are trying to assert over us, their loyal fans. It seemed like a slap in the face.

At the minute we have two Xbox 360's, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. It seems natural that we would probably do the same with the next gen, but now we're not so sure. From what I understand, anyone on the same console the disc was installed to can play it, which is fine. But what about if we do own two? Would one us then not be able to play any games on the other Xbox One?

For me there are too many questions about the next gen. I will not be pre-ordering either of the next gen. I will wait and see what happens and wait for them to clarify some points. What I saw didn't excite me enough for me to throw my chips in with either Sony or Microsoft to be honest.

Sony have said they will not be using DRM, but for me this is just as worrying. They did say first party games will be DRM-free which is fine. But surely they should just be upfront and admit that, because of Xbox One's stance on it, the publishers now have them over a barrel. If Sony won't allow the publishers to use DRM than Sony will probably not be getting as many games as Xbox One.

I guess we'll see what happens. Bt I have to admit to be being worried about the future of gaming. It could be amazing, but for now I'm on the fence.


Well to say the past few months have been mad is an understatement. Thank God for Summer Breaks! (Although we seem to be devoid of any Summer here in Manchester!)

So as any regular readers will be aware I have been on hiatus for a little while whilst I struggled to balance work, home and studying with this here little blog. It was far too much of a struggle to keep things running whilst attending University, a million and one appointments and the rest of the everyday stuff us mums have to do. But now I can return! Well at least every so often for the foreseeable future.

I have barely had time to game the past few months whilst I ironed out the minutiae of my dissertation proposal but it is now underway (barely) so I can return for a little me time, yay!

SO I have LOADS of reviews incoming for you! Some are from before my little hiatus so may feel a little out of date, but if you have been holding off on buying the reviews may serve as a little reminder for you. Thankfully some lovely developers have not forgotten me and I have some new games to review too! I will also be throwing out some opinion pieces in the games I have played just for fun in my rare downtime these last few months.

We have SO much to catch up on! What were your thoughts on E3? Are you going to purchase the Xbox One? Have you already pre-ordered? What have been your gaming highlights so far this year? I'll be giving you my opinions in a little while!

Thanks for reading xXx

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Keeping you in the Loop...

Hi Everyone!

I was just gonna tweet a quick explanation but then I realised it'd be a pretty big series of tweets so I may as well do it here...

The blog has dwindled somewhat these past weeks due to a number of reasons. Don't worry I haven't forgotten about you! As you may know I am a mum and a full time student. Last weekend was my sons fourth birthday and January saw me enter the final year of my degree. Dissertation time.

So while I jostle with all my University work this blog will probably only be updated at weekend. If I get the time in the week I will post too, but for now it's better to only expect reviews on weekend, at least for the next few weeks.

Don't worry though, once I get back into the swing of things and have finalised my dissertation proposal things should even out a little!

Thanks for sticking with me guys :)

Monday, 21 January 2013

2D Voxel Madness (XBLIG) Review

 2D Voxel Madness is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace.

I never played the prequel to this game, Volchaos, so I am in no position to compare the two. I played this game as a stand-alone game, as when I first approached the developers that's what I understood it to be. I was soon corrected upon loading the game!

Now I have to just say this game is weird. I've just finished playing it and I'm still struggling to adequately put my thoughts into words for you. I'm not undecided on the game or anything, but I guess I don't have that much to say about it.

It's easy to see that this game could easily become a time-sink. Put it on for five minutes and there is a large possibility you'll still be sat there an hour later. If you don't know much about the game let me give you a quick overview. You're a little guy mining for diamonds and fighting off weird monsters. There doesn't seem to be an overall objective from what I could gather. You collect stuff, destroy stuff and can build stuff. It is like the most simplistic version of Minecraft ever.

Now I have to be honest and say I did struggle to see the point in playing this game. There is no rhyme or reason to it at all but it is not an horrific game. It's ok. And at 80MSP you can't really go wrong. I'm betting there are people out there that could do all sorts with this game, but personally I don't have the patience. It is a nice simple little game, but it does have scope for more if you're a more patient person, or have more time on your hands.

Graphically it's quite nice. It kept my daughters attention with the cartoony monsters anyhow. And the music is nice too. As I say theres nothing I hate about this game, but nothing really that stands out either.
5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Black Knight Sword (XBLA) Review

Black Knight Sword is available now on the XBLA Marketplace for 800MSP.

Black Knight Sword is a 2D side-scrolling hack and slash game. But it is unlike any other I have played before, I'm still undecided whether this is a bad thing or not. I'm gonna begin this review by saying this game is intriguing...make of that what you will.

The art style is beautiful, in places it is really stunning. All of the game plays out on a kinda stage, complete with curtains around the screen. Curtains down when you pause, or die. It's a pretty neat little concept. The music as well is brilliant. It really fits the art style well and makes for pretty atmospheric gameplay. The voiceover is a little freaky, but again it does fit in. The loading screen continues the stage show theme by giving us a silhouette audience which is pretty cool.

So yeah that all sounds pretty good, right? And that bit is, but I still can't honestly tell you I enjoyed this game. I don't know whether it's because it's just a little too weird, or purely because I'm easily bored with hack and slash games. This game definitely is a button basher, there is no sense of needing any real tactics to this game, just bash and hope and you'll be fine.

This game is really weird. Item boxes, yeah they're in the form of microwaves. Yup, doesn't make any sense what-soever, but then neither does the game. It all feels really disjointed, like it was trying hard to be this weird. Nothing is really explained. The shop is one of the weirder moments. The first time you trigger the shop, by catching a little eye-thingy, a big eye pops onto the screen and thanks you for rescuing her child. Now to repay you she will sell you stuff, extra lives etc. STRANGE!

This game is beautiful, no one can take that away. It really is pretty stunning. But the gameplay is dull as dishwater. I found myself bored pretty sharpish and I had a headache. That's no fun.

And the JUMPING. Eurgh. I hate games that include jumps that are a little too big for a single jump so you have to double jump like an idiot all the way round the level. Irksome to say the least.

That being said I don't think everyone will hate this game. A fair amount of you will probably love it. If you're looking for something a little different, or love hack and slashers, definitely give this a try!
6/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Vampire Slayer FPS (XBLIG) Review

Vampire Slayer FPS is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace for 80MSP.

Vampires are cool right? Well this game gives you the choice of playing as them or against them, either online or with bots and the biggest thing you need to know about this game is that you should BUY IT! There review complete!

Just kidding, obviously I'll give you more than that. So here are some details.

Upon loading this game I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed at first. The graphics are pretty bad. BUT I overlooked this for the moment to see what else this title had to offer and I'm so glad I did! I chose to play as a Slayer in my first bot-match. And it was pretty damn scary! This is a game which I felt gave real credit to how difficult vampires would be to kill. They are frightening! I found myself cowering in the corner for a good part of my first match because all I could hear was the vampires creepy noise and all down my screen was a list of my team-mates being decimated by the vamps. No fair!

I mustered up the courage and was basically met by a vampire who seemed to appear from nowhere. I came off worse in that meeting. Renewed though I kept trying and eventually I could almost hold my own against them, so it was time to try out the Vampires themselves.

I had my suspicions upon loading this game that the vampires would be pretty hard to master. How right I was. I found myself constantly overthrowing where I wanted to be and again, was coming off worse. I was dying continuously!

Anyway long story short I feel this game provides more than enough of a challenge for most gamers. It's great to pick up and play for a quick match, but at the same time you could sink hours into trying to master it. Yes the graphics are bad BUT the game isn't and at 80MSP what does it even matter. We spend more than that on a bar of chocolate. Skip the choc for today and treat yourself to this instead!
9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect (XBLA) Review

Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect is available now on the XBLA Marketplace for 400MSP.

 I need to start this review off by saying this mental game is based on a REAL-LIFE SPORTING EVENT. Yes some of you may be aware of that, I however was not and upon learning this I tweaked my score a little. Just a little mind.

So what happens is this. Your avatar gets all decked out in pads and you meet him at the top of an icy slope with ten tonnes of obstacles in the way. Make your way round them faster than anybody else.

As the title shows, this is a Kinect title so if you are a gamer that is averse to moving anything but your digits look away now. This game is a pretty good work out. To gain speed you have to swing your arms about, something my three year old found VERY amusing to watch. Duck obstacles, hop onto others and block your face to get through walls and that's about it.

This game is good fun. But it does get old pretty quickly. As is now usual I find with Kinect titles the tracking is a little off and at one point this game seemed to be tracking a lamp in the corner of my living room. And lets be honest here, sometimes a Kinect only title is just REALLY what you don't wanna play, right? You have to be in the right frame of mind to play Kinect and if you just want a bit of active fun go for this. It's cheap and cheerful at just 400MSP and will provide a bit of fun. A hell of a lot more than some other Kinect titles though! At this price you can definitely afford to give this game a go!
7/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Three Dead Zed (XBLIG) Review

Three Dead Zed is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace for 80MSP.

 Ok so even if you're the biggest Zombie-nerd ever you could be getting tired of the endless Zombie clones finding their way on to your Xbox. Nothing feels new anymore with Zombies (except The Walking Dead) there doesn't seem to be much creativity in them anymore, right?

Wrong! Three Dead Zed is a zombie game with n actual difference. Albeit a few slight ones but still it is NOT a carbon copy!

This game has coupled HUMOUR with ZOMBIES. No, you didn't read that wrong. They have made Zombies funny. Whilst this may be refreshing for some, I can imagine some of the more hardcore zombie-fans getting pretty annoyed right now. To be honest I thought I would hate a humorous take on Zombies to but this game doesn't totally stink.

Basically some scientists are trying to create a smart Zombie. You play as three of their creations. You morph between them to suit the levels needs. The first one, default Zombie can flick switches, the second can run pretty fast and bounce off walls. The third one is a heifer that can crush pretty much anything, or at the very least move it out of your way.

Graphically it is impressive, it's done in a real nice cartoony comic style. It does look a lot better than a lot of indie games. Unfortunately this can not be said for the controls. I am not normally one to just slate controls in games but this one is ridiculous. The controls are all over the place. There are more than a few points in that game that had me annoyed. The running zombie on all fours can cling onto walls and jump onto the next. Sometimes this works great, but at other times he would only bounce off the wall if you hit a teeny tiny bit of the wall. Irritating.

It is a pretty fun game though. It is pretty short-lived fun though with the problems it has at the minute. I found myself getting too irritated to carry on a few times, and I struggled with motivation to attempt it again because of the poor controls. I do like the system of weaknesses and strengths in different Zombies though, and feel like this game pays enough attention to each Zombies shortfalls.

Overall this game is a pretty good idea executed pretty poorly. With a few patches though I think you should give it a try. It is good fun, sometimes.
5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Code Breaker (XBLIG) Review

Code Breaker is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace for 80MSP.

I know there are a lot of people that don't see the point in games like these. But give them a chance people! They keep your brain active and are actually pretty fun. Obviously you aren't gonna spend hours immersed in a game like this, but it's easy to pick up and play for a quick battle against a friend or computer.

The point of the game is simple, solve the code in as few moves as possible. There will be a green light under it if it is correct, a yellow light if it appears in the code but not quite there and a red light if you're completely barking up the wrong tree.

Quick, simple fun for when your killing half an hour. At just 80MSP there really is no reason to pick this one up. The art style is nice, like a notepad with lots of scribbles on in the background and the game itself is good fun.
8/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.