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Summer of Arcade 2012: Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD Review

The Tony Hawk game series hit shaper stardom all those years ago on the first Playstation to then be chewed up, moved away from its skating routes and placed into a type of semi retirement, thanks to a rather slow and steady delve into mediocrity. Old games wrapped in an HD title have never really done anything for me, as they tend to ruin the nostalgia and memories of games that are cherished. Thankfully, to my surprise, Tony Hawk’s new lick of paint, and the fact that its core playing system has still be kept intact, means that the Summer of Arcade kicks off with a bang, rather than a whimper. Continue Reading »

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Bellator: MMA Onslaught Review

Bellator Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the second biggest promoter of MMA in the USA and  the largest tournament based MMA competition in the world. So why on earth has Bellator allowed itself to have its name and brand on such a ridiculously awful game?!

Bearing in mind that Bellator MMA is only 1,200 Microsoft points, close to £10, still isn’t enough of an excuse to put aside how poor the whole experience is. You are given a choice between a standard Arcade mode hidden away as a Career mode, the ability to play online and, finally, you are able to create your own fighter; please do not be blown away by the choice . Arcade Mode lasts all of 10 minutes, and bouts you face online tend to last no longer than a minute. A good way to decipher how popular a game is, especially when it is newly released, is its online play; it took over 15 minutes to find a match, though, a rare positive, the few matches I did play never lagged.  It is not difficult to guarantee that, even if you love MMA and all of its technique, you will be sick to death after about an hour of gameplay.

Combat is advertised as avoiding the technicality of other MMA games and thus, allows you to dive right in. This only stays true if you treat the game like a standard beat em up, which completely defeats the point of MMA anyway.  You learn the combat system, split into striking, throws, submission and general technique via trial and error and the create a fighter mode. The challenges you do, that work as training as well as practice, are supposed to be used to level up your fighter, yet these sections actually feel like real training; incredibly painful, slow and tiresome. The scenarios vary from rock hard to pathetically easy, with a serious lack of difficulty curve.

Jumping from the training area, with loading screens galore and some glaring spelling mistakes (Cheltenham is spelt wrong), to the fighting arena, you will notice very little difference. There is no atmosphere to speak of whatsoever, and the surroundings of the various arenas might as well not be there. The fights boil down to a life and stamina bar, with every punch, kick and throw you enact steadily lowering your stamina. This works fine in practice but it tends to make little no sense in reality; if the stamina bar gets too low then your fighter begins to flash red, meaning the next strong blow that is landed on you knocks you out. This doesn’t stack up if you have spent the whole match pummelling your opponent until he is inches from being knocked out,  for your character to flash red and for you to be immediately floored. It essentially takes any feelomg that the fighter can be in your control, meaning the difference between winning and losing is pure luck.

This gets worse when fighting moves to the floor, with the link to that fateful stamina bar giving the AI a stupid advantage. Trying to give an idea of the technique that is used in MMA with various floor holds manages to just look like two people bear hugging; hardly thrillingly stuff. Submissions are almost impossible for you to pull off, but if your opponent enacts one and you have anything less than 80% stamina than no amount of button bashing, which is actively encouraged by the game itself, will save you.  All of these events occurred when the difficulty was as low as possible, so bear this in mind if you do decide to subject yourself to harder difficulties.

The roster on offer seemed pretty slim to begin with, but the fact that there are 72 Bellator contenders from the USA alone, not counting the rest of the world,  having less than 20 fighters is, frankly, rubbish. The character models themselves are average at best, with them only having a passing resemblance to the real life men and women they are supposed to represent. That’s as far as individuality  goes however, as every single person has the same entrance moves and celebratory moves which just puts further emphasis on how poor the quality is overall.

Music turns into the same drab rock music and the announcer manages to be irritating even though he shouts very little more than three or four words during the fight; don’t buy this thinking that it will have anywhere near the same depth of commentary, in truth, depth full stop, as the WWE games have had over the past few years. The character customisation is barebones and that’s being kind, with the choice on offer ranging from skinny runt to all around meat head; the ‘character’ you make is very unlikely to have anywhere near a resemblance to anything you actually want. This is even more evident in the online mode, with every fight that I played having a character looking almost identical to my own.

The game itself feels like it was released half finished with some of the notes in the loading screens talking  about the developer adding more features soon. What makes it even worse is that it seems to be steadily migrating into cash cow territory if, god forbid, you were willing to put the time in. Additions to your created character cost 300 MS points and above per move,  not per move set which is daylight robbery. There really is nothing to recommend this game to people with anything more than standard strikes feeling ineffective and boring in combination with a complete lack of atmosphere and crazy spikes of AI. Onslaught would have benefited vastly from more time in development , particularly as  the screenshots do the game better justice than it actually deserves when it’s in motion. Passing interest or diehard fans of MMA; do not waste your time with this as your hard earned cash would be far better spent on something else.


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The Amazing Spiderman Review

Beenox returns with its third Spiderman game, after Shattered Dimension and Edge of Time, and provides a hugely enjoyable experience as the webslinger that has to be one of the best movie related videogames to come out in a very long time, though it never reaches the heights that it could. Continue Reading »

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London Olympics 2012 Review

With the massive push in the UK for everyone to go stir crazy for the Olympics arriving on our doorstep, London Olympics 2012 got the benefit of the doubt when it was booted up on my Xbox. Sadly slick presentation, a thunderous soundtrack and a variety of events cannot hide the fact that, as seen in almost every other Olympics game there has been to date, it is still a very shallow button basher with little to no skill or finesse required. Continue Reading »

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Arkham City: Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC Review

Fans of Rocksteady’s Batman games have been waiting for story DLC for a long time now, the addition of Nightwing and Robin in challenge maps outside of the main story were welcome if not necessarily desired additions. Harley Quinns Revenge is original, well written and enjoyable for all of the 45 minutes it will take you to finish it which , ultimately is a real shame. Continue Reading »

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Skyrim: Dawnguard DLC Review

Vampires and vampire hunters; a generation of kids born in the 90’s will likely associate these two things with a one Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Does Dawnguard go down the sparkly vampire route or do the bloodsuckers get redemption in Bethesda’s new DLC for the juggernaut that is Skyrim? Continue Reading »

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Opinion Piece: Is Bullet Time Overused In Games Today?

With Max Payne 3 now released, and boasting very impressive sales figures, it would seem the gaming public has lapped up Max Payne’s.. pain and thrown themselves full throttle into the bullet time mechanic that was essentially made popular by the arrival of the Matrix films and the first in the Max Payne series. Continue Reading »

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Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review

Eat Lead has so much going for it as a premise. The titular character is a self-aware video game character who rises to fame in a Wolfenstein esque FPS which makes his video game star explode. His skyrocket to popularity is quickly destroyed when he is given the go ahead to direct his own career.He opts for a Mario Kart esque racing game and a shoot em up called Soak Em that turned into Die Hard with water pistols; hardly the career path for a character known for violence. The humour and wackiness is something this game has in spades; sadly the game play side doesn’t share this fantastic grounding. Continue Reading »