Monday, 27 December 2010

Majority of CeX stores trading New Years Day

Hope you all had a lovely Xmas, ate your body weight in sprouts & swam in sherry. The festive season isnt over! New Years Eve is just around the corner (well, the end of this week). For those eager beavers who will happily shop with a banging hangover, the majority of our CeX Stores are still open for business.

The CeX stores listed below are closed on the 1st of January 2011, but the vast majority are open and full details can be found here.

Birmingham Phone Exchange
Croydon Station Approach
High Wycombe
Leicester Phone Exchange
Shepherds Bush
South Shields
Tunbridge Wells

Here's to a great 2011 for everyone!
LDW Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Gadget Review - iPad & multitasking

So, I'm an Apple convert. I've repented and seen the error of my former ways. I turned to the other side much to the disdain of my other half, who, shall we say, belongs to AA, 'Anti-Apple'. No anonymity needed, he's quite proud of his beliefs.

Now, I’m one of those losers who feel lost without their iPhone, and to be honest, without the maps feature, 9/10ths of the time I would be. My friend has an iPad so, I thought I'd give it a whirl before Xmas. It seemed like the logical next step in my obsession. Like my new best friend, but bigger. I'd seen a cat scratch vinyl on one on YouTube. I mean, c'maaaan.

As winter would have it; I fell ill with the lurgiez of doom and was bedridden for days. If it wasn't for my iPad I think I would have gone insane from boredom. 

It is sleek and light. The screen brightness is fully adjustable which meant my already weak eyes weren't strained, the screen quality was crystal clear (and put up with my coughs and splutters like a pro).

I was constantly entertained during my delirium.

 I could check my emails with ease, flitting from screen to screen, check Facebook, blogs and watch BBC iPlayer seamlessly (shamefully, I get cranky without my favourite TV fixes). I spent a good few hours getting my cabin fever frustration out on Angry Birds. If you don’t know what that is, you need to GET to know. Not just limited to iPad, iPhone users can get it too and trust me, the game feels even better on a larger screen. The choice of applications available is awesome. My Bejeweled 2 top score is out of this world now. Although if I hear that theme tune again it'll be too soon. I think I nearly overdosed on that game.

The start up time was pretty much instant and the operating system smooth as silk! I could use the iPad to cool down my already feverous head or use it to heat myself up after an hour or use, although it never gets too hot to handle. Talk about multi-tasking. 

As a total blog addict, I was sad to see it didn’t have a camera. I’d have been happy a with a crappy 2 mega pixel effort like my iPhone 3g has. Is that too much to ask? Seeing how portable the iPad is it would be nice if you could take it outside also and take a few snaps. I'd be surprised if the next generation iPad didn’t have a camera, maybe two.

I liked the touch sensitive display (like the iPhone) as this meant I didn’t have a stylus to inevitably lose. It put up with my nail extensions without complaint. 

The universal moan that you can’t print directly from an iPad has been remedied for owners of selected HP Wi-Fi printers. Hopefully further updates will allow this to with other printers. 
A recent firmware update also allows multitasking so no more swopping between apps. I can listen to Last FM while I blog away. The device is literally at the command of your fingertips. For the OCD Neat freak in us we can now organise our apps into folders! Nice little tidy desktop.

Although I really enjoyed it I could see the novelty wearing off after a while and me reverting back to using my iPhone for convenience. That being said, as soon as the iPad gets a camera, I’ll be first in line.

Louise gives the iPad 7 out of 10.
Louise, CeX UK Contributor.
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 3 December 2010

Game Review - Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Format: PS3, Xbox 360

Red Dead Redemption was a terrific example of sandbox style adventure with captivating story, characters, gameplay and visuals; it really was an excellent game. This still holds true now with the excellent addition of Undead Nightmare. Obviously this package is not as extensive as the main game, but for the price tag, this is a bargain. You enter the world of Red Dead once again as John Marston to take on hordes of the undead. It is a real treat to watch how this horror unfolds in more historical times as opposed to our modern day movies and games such as the Dead Rising series. Undead Nightmare provides a great story to follow and hits the nostalgia factor perfectly as you traverse the now torn down and desolate towns that were once brimming with life. A few things get in the way of Undead Nightmare such as fairly easy enemy AI, but for what it’s worth, this is one fight against the dead you do not want to miss.

The goal in Undead Nightmare is very simple, completely remove the zombie threat from each town and rescue the survivors. The game offers you plenty of freedom by letting you choose what towns and villages you want to help first, but this is largely due to the process being pretty much the same in every town. That’s not to say that it isn’t plenty of fun going in and killing the hordes of zombies while helping survivors by offering them ammunition to defend themselves and so forth, but it just seems that without weapons, enemies in Red Dead Redemption don’t really put up much of a challenge. It is certainly a welcome addition to see some variation in the zombie types to keep things interesting, including your heavier and stronger zombies; your projectile vomit zombies and you’re fast moving zombies. Once again however, becoming accustomed to their attack patterns slowly makes the combat quite easy. Undead Nightmare does make it quite difficult to acquire ammo, especially in the early parts of the game, this means that some of your encounters with zombies will be finished with melee weapons, upping the challenge somewhat. It is a shame however, that at times you can find yourself cheating the system by climbing on top of a building and fairly easily picking off zombies one by one until the area is secure. I strongly suggest avoiding such tactics and keep yourself challenged by doing it the old fashioned way, gun slinging.

Upon rescuing a town from the undead nemesis, you will then be allowed to rest up and use the town’s resources once again. Without initially removing the zombie threat, none of these resources are available to you, including saving the game. So it pays off to pick a systemic route across the map as you slowly save more and more towns from the undead nightmare and uncover a safe zone like path in between your objectives.

Looking around the dying Wild West, it is easy to really appreciate the effort that went into making this game fit the undead theme. Red Dead was a beautiful game in its own right, but with the addition of a spooky soundtrack and a foreboding darkness that engulfs the land, you will find yourself a lot more vigilant when you traverse the deserts, especially when you begin encountering mythological creatures such as Big Foot and Unicorns as opposed to wolves and cougars.

Let’s face it, this wouldn’t be a Red Dead game without the return of some of the great and memorable faces of the initial campaign, along with entertaining side-missions and quests for you to take part in. This certainly helps to keep gameplay varied in Undead Nightmare and forces you to go hunting for lost family members, treasures and perhaps the most sought after prizes for yourself, the four horses of the Apocalypse. This is definitely the coolest addition to Undead Nightmare, allowing you to capture the four legendary horses Death, Famine, War and Pestilence. Each horse has its own quest that needs to be accomplished and each horse also has its own unique ability, for example War sets enemies on fire when they get into close proximity of the legendary beast.

These additions to saving all the towns and villages can very easily produces extra house of gameplay for those looking to complete everything. It really depends on how much you yourself choose to partake, as most of these side-quests are optional. It is highly recommended that the original Red Dead campaign be completed before tackling the Undead Nightmare as some faces return and story lines intertwine meaning you could potentially miss out on some important information or hit a spoiler by accident.

Adding to the great single player gameplay, Undead Nightmare also brings to the table a brand new multiplayer game type called Undead Overrun. This mode allows up to four players to take on waves of zombies in a horde mode style experience. As you progress and survive longer, the enemies become tougher, increase in numbers and hit you faster, posing a thrilling and engaging experience for you and your friends. This is perhaps one of the more entertaining multiplayer games out there, forcing teamwork and cooperation as you aim to keep the clock and yourself alive and running, while the zombies dead and buried.

There is little that can be said to fault Undead Nightmare; especially considering it is only an add-on pack. Saying that, for downloadable content, it offers so much game-play and variety that it really is hard to not absolutely love every moment as you immerse yourself once again the world of Red Dead and John Marston. While not as challenging as the original, Undead Nightmare takes an entirely different angle and hits the nail on the head, this is an add-on pack worth every moment of your time. Stand Alone disc version was released at the end of Nov 2010.

Technical presentation – 9.5

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 7.0

Replay value – 6.5

Final score – 8.0 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Thursday, 2 December 2010

After Xmas CeX stores reopen Boxing Day

Worried you'll get rubbish presents this year? While we can't help with the reindeer jumper you got from your gran, most CeX shops reopen after Christmas on Boxing Day so you can exchange what you don't want for what you do. Most CeX Shops are also open on New Years Day.

Find your nearest CeX shop here.

Only the following stores are closed on Boxing Day.

Croydon Station Approach
Liverpool Lord Street
Shepherds Bush
Tunbridge Wells

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

CeX in Belfast Telegraph

Leading Northern Ireland Newspaper reports CeX opens in Newry and "is proving very popular with shoppers who can now buy, sell or exchange computers, mobile phones, video games, movies and music".

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Last order date for UK Xmas delivery is 18 December

Online shopping eh? It's brilliant. You press a few buttons and a few days later stuff arrives at your door.

This man is not a CeX Custie.

If you're shopping with CeX online, and if you aren't you need to ask yourself some long hard questions why, please remember that the last day to order for UK Christmas delivery is the 18th December. Don't delay, as Arnie says, do it today.

Naturally, CeX stores will be open right up to Xmas day. Most CeX stores will also be open on 26 December, so you can trade in those pressies you don't want for something you do or cash for a top notch New Year's blow on the beach.

CeX Custie who sold her unwanted stuff for a pile of cash and headed off to get some sun with her Asus Seashell 1008HA Eee PC. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

"CeX pays best prices" say Which?

Which? finds CeX is the best place to sell your games.

"During our research, we found that CeX, the entertainment and technology store, consistently offered us the best prices for our games, both in cash and store credit."

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Game Review – James Bond 007: Bloodstone

Formats: PS3 Xbox 360, PC, DS

The dreaded movies to game franchise twists are not without their abysmal performances, especially James Bond. The British Superspy has seen the limelight but has also been involved in some less than favourable video game transitions and you are always left guessing which way every new installment will go and if any of them will ever surpass the legendary Goldeneye. James Bond 007: Bloodstone fortunately, is an invigorating experience right from the get go and while stumbles occasionally with some uneven level structures and fluidity issues in the pace of the game, still holds key memorable moments, fun and varied gaming mechanics along with a great story and narration to present a worthy addition to not only the James Bond franchise, but to the 3rd person shooting market as a whole.

Naturally you get exactly what you’d expect from Bloodstone; being a stand-alone video game that isn’t based off a movie makes it even more impressive that a varied and interesting story has been put into place. While not incredibly deep or meaningful for that matter, playing as Daniel Craig as he goes from one beautiful destination to the next, stepping each time one step closer to another thrilling event or climax while ultimately trying to accomplish his missions, is without any doubt an incredible feeling. All of Bloodstone’s environments scream diversity and try to give you a different feel and style of game-play, be it from guns blazing to a more subtle approach or even a non-violent espionage style mission.

Bloodstone’s appeal lies whole-heartedly in the diversity it offers. You will quickly realise after playing the opening segment of the game that there is a mix of genres at work here and it is always a testament when everything feels balanced and well worked. Indeed you will find yourself in fire-fights from a 3rd person perspective moving from cover to cover, but you will also rely heavily on melee combat. Even though this is all implemented so well, some of Bloodstone’s best moments are behind the steering wheel of different cars that James Bond drives, often filled with explosions and lots of action as you race across cities and frozen landscapes. Perhaps the weak link in this diverse pool of gaming genres is the espionage hacking segments that really offer nothing new to the imagination and serve really as intermissions between the hectic parts of the game.

Most of the game obviously will be spent running and gunning while stopping at cover and thankfully this is done very well. Unfortunately it can be a tad bland sometimes and it really is down to the melee combat to help spice things up. Bond packs a variety of close combat moves that are easily executed to devastating effect. These kills also give you ‘focus kill’ points that allow you to put together series of headshots to take down numerous enemies at once, a very cool and stylish looking finishing move.

Bloodstone does a fantastic job at recreating what makes the new era of James Bond so exciting, the tense and fast-paced action scenes. It is during these moments in the game when Bond is rushing through an area, shooting and fighting his way through swarms of enemies, that you feel like a true secret agent. In particular the chase scenes in Bloodstone emphasize this point. Bloodstone’s main issue is partly due to its very own brilliance. It offers some incredible moments but then finds it very difficult to keep up the tempo it sets itself, often culminating in a really thrilling chase scene or driving level followed by some very dull and boring explorations segments. Things seem to balance out somewhat in the latter portions of the game but the beginning of the game really goes in full-throttle and suddenly puts on the brakes, making it somewhat of a grind to get through these monotonous segments to find the good bits and let Bloodstone shine.

Technically Bloodstone is a very impressive piece of work. You will find yourself constantly in awe at the brilliant graphical content in every department, from character models, to level design and the cut-scenes. Varied environments really work in Bloodstone’s favour as it allows the game to shine graphically and really show you what it can do. The same goes for the different driving segments where you will be more than impressed with the graphical content. The audio is also very impressive, both dialogue and music really portray the James Bond theme, installing a sense of tension and urgency into your missions.

Bloodstone does come with a multiplayer, but unfortunately there is little to say other than it being average. In a market full of top class competitive shooters, it is hard to find a package that includes a filled out campaign such as this, and a brilliant multiplayer experience. You get your standard run of the mill game-types but I find it hard to believe that it will be able to keep your attention for a long period of time.

To conclude, James Bond 007: Bloodstone is a very good, mostly all-rounded package. It lacks a decent multiplayer but this is to be expected and forgiven because the campaign mode for the most part is exciting, engaging and a whole load of fun. Bloodstone shows that it is possible to mix genres together and do it well, offering great quality varied game-play across the entire board. If you are looking for a campaign driven game, this one is for you.

Technical presentation – 9.0

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 8.5

Replay value – 4.0

Final score – 7.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 26 November 2010

Game Review - Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360

Ah it's been a while since my last Naruto video game review. I feel that in that time, I have developed my literary skills and sharpened my wit. So it is fitting that I should review Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, a game set two and a half years after the events featured in Ultimate Ninja Storm, in a time where Konoha's favourite Jinchuriki has just returned from a period of intense training.

If the last sentence left you more than a little confused, Naruto Shippuden: UNS2 is probably not the game for you, and I won't be offended if you decide to stop reading at this point. Go on it's ok, you can scoot off to Facebook or TheChive or whatever you cool kids are internetting nowadays. Leave this review to us Naruto geeks, since NS:UNS2 (ok that's officially the shortest I can make the title) is definitely only for the hardcore Naruto nuts.

Now that we're alone, let me get this out of the way first: I did not enjoy playing this game. I may not be the most hardcore of Naruto fans, I know the difference between the Sharingan and the Rinnegan, but I still found the majority of NS:UNS2 a bore and at worst a chore.

The fighting system present in the first game is still in place, a dynamic mix of excellently animated taijustu and ninjutsu (that's combos and magic to everyone else), and is pretty much the game's only highlight. Each of the game's 44 haracters has a range of standard combos (all activated by mashing the attack button) and one special and ultimate technique. While this may not sound very dynamic, the key to using these attacks well lies in your spacing, movement and ability to avoid or defend against your enemy's techniques. It certainly is impressive watching two ninjas dash and dance around each other, waiting for the right moment to strike before unleashing a devastating attack. Combined with the newly upgraded team support system, things can certainly get hectic on screen, with up to six ninjas unleashing different techniques at once. The new Support Drive system rewards layers who use their team mates effectively by allowing support characters to appear automatically once they have been summoned enough times. Once the relevant meter has been filled, your team mates will lengthen combos, bolster your defence or run interference, dependant on what support type they are assigned.

With all of this crazy action blistering across the screen, it would be easy to believe that the graphics suffered because of it. This is not the case however, as the 'Almost Anime' presentation from the first game returns, along with a dynamic camera which manages to keep both combatants on screen and showcases some of their cooler attacks without sacrificing practicality. I was particularly impressed by the elemental effects such as fire and water, which flicker and splash realistically. Or unrealistically, I suppose.

Unfortunately, the single player component of the game frames this fun (if not particularly deep) fighting system with an utterly monotonous story mode, wherein you navigate Naruto (or which ever character you are controlling at the time) through essentially empty and flat environments until you reach the next part of the story, at which point you must sit through extended conversation scenes. If you thought some of the dialogue in the anime was tiresome, imagine having to press a button at the end of every sentence. The animation, in contrast to the superb stuff seen during battle, is stiff and robotic, with most lip synching not done at all (so very much like the show then! ZING!). These dialogue sequences are thankfully abbreviated compared to the TV show, but doing so causes some key plot points to be missed out. The actual battles are pretty cool however, as key moments from the anime are fully playable, such as Nauto's struggle against Orochimaru and Sasuke's reunion with Itachi.

It would be forgivable if you could enjoy this title by skipping out on the story mode and head straight to the Free Battle or Online modes. However, only a handful of characters are available without trudging through the story. A lot of the fun I had with this game was trying out all the different characters and seeing how all their different abilities and attacks were represented. After having to sit through several hours of boring gameplay to unlock them all, it's difficult to say it was worth it.

I say only the diehard Naruto fans would enjoy this because I can't imagine anyone else getting a lot of fun out of this game. The story mode would be boring and unintelligible to most newcomers, and the fighting system would probably be too haphazard for any curious fighting game aficionados. Sorry Naruto, but it seems as though, like you, I have outgrown my childish obsessions. Maybe I should start watching DeathNote...

Lukao gives Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
5 rasengans out of 10.

Lukao, CeX UK Contributor.
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Brilliant, bizarre banter on the CeX Facebook page

Here's another round up of of some of the weird and wonderful things we've seen on the web recently. If you want to see more of these, check out the CeX Facebook page and join in the banter.

iPhone Stun Gun anyone?

or would you just settle for an iPhone QWERTY keyboard?

and for those belonging to 'Anti-Apple-Anonymous' a tasty treat of loads of demolished Apple products. Try not to rub your hands with glee too hard now.In anticipation of the new Tron film, we all drooled over this badass watch by designer, Scott Galloway. Need. Want. Must have.

and found a Mortal Kombat mantra to live by:

Surely you can't live without this type fun in your life? Head on over to CeX Facebook today. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Game Review – Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Formats: Xbox 360 & PS3

For many years now arcade style racing has been dominated by two franchises, Need for Speed and Burnout. While the former can be hit or miss, Criterion games ensures that Burnout is without a doubt one of the most exciting and exhilarating racing experiences on the market. So it is an absolute joy to see both franchises come together from a Criterion perspective, as other than the name, there is little reminiscent of the Need for Speed series here. Instead, we are offered a dangerous driving adventure where you can race for either the law or the illegal racers as you speed across Seacrest County. With plenty of intuitive and fun-to-use gadgets at your disposal on both teams, the traditional racing rush that resembles what I still consider one of the best games of this generation; Burnout Paradise, amazing graphics and audio, plenty of beautiful licensed cars and tones of replay value and multiplayer ventures to get involved in, could very well make Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit the best racer you will play this year and the next to come (eat your heart out Gran Turismo).

Those of you who have had the pleasure of playing Burnout before will feel right at home in Hot Pursuit. Indeed the gaming engine is almost identical to that of Burnout Paradise but this is anything but a bad thing. Glorious driving mechanics with precise controls make high-speed chases and races a sheer thrill to be part of. Burnout is also notorious for its dramatic and over-the-top car crashes that you will no doubt be familiar with. The wide variety of licensed cars available will make any driving fanatic go crazy and seeing what each car looks like under police paint is also amazing. Hot Pursuit also impresses with a fantastic map with plenty of secret passages and alternate routes to get accustomed with.

So one of the main appeals to Hot Pursuit is the potential for absolute disaster to occur on the roads at almost any point in the race or chase. The game rewards you for driving dangerously and on the edge, speeding into oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding crashes, taking risky short-cuts, all of this makes racing in Seacrest Country outrageously fun. Aside from all of the ridiculous dangers on route you will also have to tackle the game’s arsenal of gadgets that it gives out to the two opposing factions. As an illegal racer you will have to avoid police roadblocks, spike-rails on the roads, EMP weaponry that disables your car and even what closely resembles the Helicopter killstreaks on Call of Duty, sending in a chopper to try and take you down. It would be incredibly unfair if the racers didn’t have weapons of their own and indeed they have access to super speed boosters that can outrun anything, their own EMP weapon jammer that disables police radars etc. These additions to your standard arcade racer help add a sense of unpredictability, something that makes Hot Pursuit even more enjoyable to contend with.

Of course traditional Burnout-esque tricks do still work in Hot Pursuit. The ever-strong car-barge still does the job in smashing your enemies off the road but this has to be done in combination with your weapons if you want quick and effective takedowns. An interesting wrench thrown in the works effects the illegal racers in particular who of course each aim to win the race, but will also have to join forces and stop the police; an interesting scenario to take part in.

Hot Pursuit continues to impress with its incredible AI. The game feels very challenging and can be equally as fun against the computer as it would against human players. This can be clearly seen from the AI’s relentless driving and sheer determination to steer you off the road or outpace you to the finish line. That’s not to say that playing with friends online isn’t a whole load of fun, in fact it is probably one of the most exciting and addictive multiplayer racing experiences you can get your hands on. Hot Pursuit offers online races that pit your driving skills against other players on the maps, but also offer the Hot Pursuit game-mode which is a 4 on 4 cops vs. robbers style chase to the finish line. This perhaps is the most entertaining event to play as you work in a team using your equipment to reach victory or ensure the illegal racers do not get to their destination. The final game-mode offered is Interceptor, a cunning 1 on 1 match up that allows free range across the map for the illegal racer. This is also a lot of fun and ends when the racer is either caught or a player is wrecked off the roads, at which point you can switch teams and play again.

The campaign mode in Hot Pursuit is definitely the central focus point and should definitely be played through, if not for all the awesome events then to unlock all of the cars and weapon upgrades to use in your online games. As you progress through the campaign your bounty will increase and accordingly so will your police and racer ranks. Cars are categorized into 5 separate tiers meaning you will never come against someone with a car that completely dominates yours as races abide by these tiers. Weapons on the other hand prove to be quite devastating if used effectively and upgraded. EMP bursts that charge faster and are more accurate give you a strong advantage against other racers and more fortified roadblocks and multiple spike-layers really make you a force to be reckoned with on the roads of Seacrest County. Fortunately Hot Pursuit never feels busted or unfair, in fact it is a really balanced game both offline and online. These additional upgrades are merely an incentive for you to continue playing and enjoying the game.

One of the best things Burnout Paradise did was incorporate the Burnout community and your friends into one easy-to-use stat comparison system. Known as autolog, Hot Pursuit always takes the time to remind you how your scores, times, records and so forth are holding up against your friends. Unfortunately there are no online leaderboards to compare with the worlds best, which is a massive shame but nevertheless, the majority of your bragging and boasting will be done between you and your friends, so it’s a nice touch knowing exactly how and where you compare. Ultimately all that matters is how you compare to people you know and lets face it, none of us are ever going to get to the top of that infamous leaderboard.

If I had to pick a fault with Hot Pursuit that wasn’t the omission of leaderboards, well I would find it very hard to call out a specific point. Some inconsistencies occur when the game switches over to a replay of a crash or wreck and at times when control is handed back over to you, you will find your car neatly compacted in a square like shape, rammed in the back of another car. This camera issue is miniscule but nevertheless, is there. Just like in Burnout Paradise however, this same feature can sometimes save you from an obvious crash as the AI so cleverly dodges obstacles for you as the replay is taking place.

From a technical perspective Hot Pursuit is an incredible achievement. The presentation is simply superb, each and every car is beautiful, each and every aspect of the map is vibrant and varied and the car crashes are absolutely stunning. For a game of such high speeds, there is very little to no frame issues, in fact I don’t think I encountered any slow down whatsoever. The audio is also great; a cool soundtrack accompanies the life-like engines and crashes as you’re blistering down Seacrest’s roads.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is the best racing game on the market in my opinion. I stand by the Burnout games as being some of the most entertaining and well-crafted experiences and this holds true to that mark once again. A varied and thrilling racer with beautiful technical design, amazing multiplayer, plenty of replay value and a whole load of catastrophe waiting to be tapped into. It really doesn’t matter if you are a fan of either series because there is something here for everyone without a doubt.

Technical presentation – 9.0

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 9.0

Replay value – 9.0

Final score – 9 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 19 November 2010

Game Review - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

Formats: (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, DS)

Despite sounding like a bizarre internet acronym, SW:TFU2 is not a short way to tell your Mum on Facebook to shut up. Rather, it is the somewhat ungainly title for the latest in a long and prestigious line of Star Wars video games. Following up unsurprisingly on last year's Force Unleashed (which received lukewarm reviews from the gaming community) Lucas Arts once again seeks to seduce gamers to the darkside with a mix of incredible physics, over-the-top combat and classic Star Wars presentation. So is it a case of SW:FTW or SW:GTFO?

Having fairly enjoyed the last game, I was eager to control Starkiller and once again have access to a wealth of devastating and fun to use Jedi powers. However, this time around you don't actually control Vader's rebellious apprentice -or do you? After escaping Vader's secret cloning facility on Kamino at the outset of the game, Starkiller's clone (or is he?) sets off to find his true love before she is killed in an intergalactic war (or does he?). Spoilers aside, the story doesn't really progress beyond the fact that we're never really sure if the main character is the real Starkiller, but even if he isn't, he's still here to take Sith names and kick Sith ass. Luckily all of Starkiller's name-taking and ass-kicking abilities are present. Along side the ever-useful force grip and lightning abilities is the new Jedi mind trick power, allowing you to convince enemies to fight for you or randomly throw themselves off high ledges. Another new ability is 'Force Fury’; reminiscent of Kratos' Rage of the Gods/Spartans/Titans/whoever Kratos is working for now. Starkiller now wields two lightsabers now, which while not really affecting gameplay, allows the player to equip two different status effects in the form of coloured lightsaber crystals, a welcome addition.

While SW:TFU2 already had a strong framework to build on and made a few worthwhile changes, the overall experience is severely lacking. The combat, although exciting and entertaining for brief flashes, suffers due to fiddly controls and uninspired enemy design and AI. There are only a handful of enemy types throughout the game, and the AI seems to be set to either 'brainless cannon fodder' or 'incredibly annoying and invincible unless you use one move over and over'. The later battles were won not when I played skillfully, but when I figured out which one of my abilities my opponents refused to defend against. The levels, while beautifully realised, were boring and repetitive. With such a wealth of interesting and recognisable locations to visit within the Star Wars universe, it baffles me to think why Lucas Arts chose to design corridor after corridor of 'generic-metal-hallway'. I would say I grew tired of traversing the linear environments, but the game ended before I got the chance. Yes, it really is that short.

That's not to say that The Force Unleashed 2 is without its merits. While Lucas Arts may not have put much love into its creation, they certainly threw a lot of money at it since it contains the same high level of presentation as any other Star Wars release. The three heavily-advertised game engines are in place: the tried-and-true Havok physics engine makes tossing stormtroopers around a genuine blast; the Digital Molecular Matter, a real coup in the last game, plays a much smaller role this time around; and the always impressive Euphoria engine, which gives the ragdoll physics a mystifyingly life-like touch. The game also houses some pretty impressive sequences which, while a little derivative, will raise the eyebrows on even the most imaginative of Star Wars fans.

I was sorely disappointed with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. Rather than building on the first game to create something really special, LucasArts seem to have trotted out a by-the-numbers sequel, complete with trivial 'now with TWO lightsabers!!' changes. Unfortunately, it seems destined to become another embarrassing addition to the Star Wars franchise, the video game equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks.

Lukao gives Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 6 yodas out of 10.
Lukao, CeX UK Contributor.
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Game Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops

Formats: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Call of Duty: Black Ops lives up to most of the hype. It improves on Modern Warfare 2 in almost every single way ensuring an even better campaign mode, additional competitive and social features, a more balanced multiplayer and even more content to sink your teeth into. Black Ops doesn’t do anything innovative or spectacular, but this is to be expected, instead it stays safe and drops little gems into the game every once in a while that make it very clear that this is a superior game to its predecessor.

While it is widely acknowledged that many gamers do not buy Call of Duty games for their campaign modes, it is still worth noting that Treyarch have done a brilliant job here and it is definitely worth taking six to eight hours out of your time to go through this thrilling and fast-paced campaign mode. Set in the heart of the Cold War, you dwell deep into the mind of the protagonist Alex Mason as he recalls previous missions and assignments while being interrogated. This is certainly an intense way to present a campaign and the mix of past and present helps maintain a strong structure throughout the story, linking in all of the varied locations and missions you find yourself in. The campaign mode might not be particularly long but in this case it is a good thing, you want to enjoy the story, get to grips with the varied weapons allotted to you and jump into the multiplayer action. What it does offer however, is very impressive, with great voice acting and narration; beautiful and varied surroundings with a few intriguing plot twists and turn that lead to a satisfying conclusion.

Not surprising however, is the majority of you out there won’t even bother playing campaign and will dive head first into what makes Black Ops so incredible, the competitive multiplayer. Just as before you won’t find anything that you aren’t already accustomed to if you’ve played the predecessors. For newcomers the premise is very simple, you compete in a variety of different game-modes earning points to level up and unlock new weapons, perks, tools and other content, all of which progressively gets more powerful and cool the higher level you reach. New to the series is the addition of Call of Duty currency that is earned alongside experience points. This currency is now accumulated and used to purchase almost everything in the game, weapons, perks, killstreaks, camouflage and so forth. This means that plenty of content aside from the guns is already available for purchase right at the beginning of the game, for example everyone should immediately buy the Claymore as soon as they have 5000 COD currency. What this does mean however, is you have to purchase individual attachments for every weapon, for example if you buy the silencer, it can only be attached to one weapon and another must be bought for another loud-out. You will not find yourself short on money as it gathers relatively quickly, but nevertheless, you must choose wisely what you would like to unlock next.

Another interesting addition to the multiplayer content is the introduction of Contracts. Contracts can be purchased and then completed in game to gain further COD currency and experience points. A variety of different contracts become available to you and include lots of different goals, for example ‘’win 3 games of Team Deathmatch’’ or ‘’use the Attack Dog killstreak.’’ The harder the contract the more it will cost, but the rewards will also be greater, so it is up to you to gamble with your money because if you fail to fulfill the contract in the allotted time, it expires and you do not get your money back.

Call of Duty proceeds to taunt the gamblers inside all of us by offering us the ability to wage earned COD currency against other players, ranging from just 10 COD points all the way up to 10,000. These matches will really test your competitive abilities and naturally with more points on the line, people’s tactics and game-play will change from ordinary games such as Team Deathmatch, forcing you to change your play-style accordingly.

In terms of online play, you will find immediately that the game is a lot more balanced than Modern Warfare 2. Killstreaks are no longer as devastating but can still turn the tide of battle. Favourites at the present moment are the infamous 3-kill RC-XD remote controlled car that always seems to clip my ankle in combat and blow me to smithereens. The 5-kill Napalm Strike resembles the Air Strike, the 6-kill Mortar Strikes and the 8-kill Rolling Thunder resembles the Stealth Bomber but there are new additions to the game such as the SAM turret that takes down aircrafts and the Blackbird, which is an indestructible UAV plane. Killstreaks now don’t go higher than 11 kills and that is the Attack Dog and Gun Ship, meaning no more Nukes that end the game. Killstreak kills do not count towards unlocking further Killstreaks now, focusing combat directly on gunfights as opposed to camping and letting your killstreaks do all the work for you.

Perks have also been toned down, no more Commando allowing you to leap 5 meters and stab someone and Cold Blooded is a thing of the past, although the Ghost perk does allow you to stay hidden from enemy Spy Planes. The maps are all fantastic, every year people complain that the maps were better on the previous game but I find each map is balanced and for the most part, are all to a decent size. In particular the most fun map has to be Nuke Town, which is simply two houses across the road from each other in a tiny area, needless to say absolute carnage ensues.

Of course it is impossible to forget that aside from all of this, the endless customizability Black Ops offers ensures that every player has unique face-paint, emblems, clan tags while every gun has different camouflage and crests etc. All of this content helps to keep you spending your COD currency and ensuring a varied, thrilling and most importantly, much more balanced online experience.

Black Ops does also cater for the newcomers to the series because as popular as this franchise is, new players are always a target audience. The Combat Training mode is an excellent simulator of online action, allowing players to experience the action but against enemy AI as opposed to humans. This mode allows you to get to grips with the maps so when you do bite the bullet and get online, you won’t be running around like a headless chicken.

Another awesome addition to the series really helps the Call of Duty community prosper, Theatre mode. This naturally allows you to compile videos, screen shots, edit clips and so forth to really bring your favourite and most embarrassing moments in the game, onto the Internet for the whole world to see.

If you find you have some spare time to play with friends but don’t fancy the competitive circuit, then Zombies could be a very enticing prospect for you. Available four-player cooperative online or two-player split screen, the game pits you against waves of flesh eating ‘’spine monkeys’’ as they are so eloquently called, in a dramatic fight for survival. This game-mode is surprisingly a lot of fun and very tactical, forcing incredible team-work as you progress through the level trying to find upgraded weapons and the electricity to turn on the portals on the map. As the zombie waves become thicker, stronger and faster, it really becomes a tense and heated affair, one that is very challenging but heaps of fun.

In terms of technical presentation, Black Ops is for the most part a complete winner. While the aging World at War game engine seems to lack a little at times, the polishing over has certainly helped it to look pretty smooth and most impressively perhaps are the brilliant facial structures the game creates. The audio is brilliant as expected, creating thrilling atmosphere and dynamic action in both multiplayer and campaign modes. The addition of Sam Worthington and Ed Harris as voice actors really make the campaign mode stand out, showing once again the importance of high quality voice acting.

Call of Duty: Black Ops has delivered everything we expected and more. It has brought us once again, a brilliant expansion on the franchise’s wonderful competitive multiplayer mode. This mode offers plenty of versatility, variation and customization, ensuring you will be glued to your screen for months to come. Black Ops also brings to the table a very impressive campaign mode, it is nice to see that although it is absolutely obvious that the Call of Duty series thrives in multiplayer, the time is still taken to ensure an engaging campaign mode is available. Combat Training helps newcomers become accustomed to the multiplayer by fighting enemy AI, Zombies allows players to enjoy the game offline or with buddies cooperatively online. You can even play the competitive multiplayer split-screen with a friend. Additions such as theatre mode help the Call of Duty community thrive and ultimately this is all presented in one brilliant package. This is the best game of the year, this is the game to have right now, if you don’t, you’re missing out, it is that simple.

Technical presentation – 8.0

Graphics – 8.0

Game-play – 9.0

Replay value – 10.0

Final score – 9.0 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 12 November 2010

Game Review - Vanquish

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360

Western developers had been dominating the gaming industry of late. With heavy-hitters such as Rockstar, Epic, Valve and Electronic Arts consistently pumping out AAA titles, our friends in the East must try new ideas in order to win back our hearts (no, another Monster Hunter game will not suffice). Vanquish represents Platinum Game's (the creators of Bayonetta) crack at a genre that is already flooded with great games from the Western World: The Third-Person Shooter.

Vanquish certainly feels different from any third-person cover-based shooter I've played. The main character, Sam (a chain-smoking stubble-sporting tough guy, who is a bandanna away from being called Solid Snake) moves with a fluid zippiness that is a pleasure to control. The aesthetic design moves away from the dirty browns and greys and instead incorporates shiny whites and neon blues, similar to Konami's giant-robot-em-up Zone of the Enders.
In fact, Vanquish shares a lot in common with Hideo Kojima's 'not-metal-gear' game. The horde of Cyclopean enemy robots, the fireworks display of neon lasers, the maneuverability of a guy in a rocket-boosting robot suit and frenetic, chaotic combat.

Unfortunately at times it can be a little too chaotic. At many points in the game, I found myself dissatisfied with certain sequences because of how boringly I performed during it. You see, Sam's ARS (read: fancy robot suit) comes equipped with lots of abilities, such as unique melee attacks from each weapon you can equip, a Max-Panye style dodge and slow-motion technique and of course the much-publicised boost ability. All these techniques are best used at medium-to-close range for the most dramatic effect, allowing the player to nimbly boost from enemy to enemy, dispatching them one by one in a deadly ballet of bullets and fists.

Or so I thought. The game's level design and enemy placement however forces you to hang back and pick off enemies from afar most of the time and punishing more gung-ho tactics (for example, landing a successful melee attack completely drains your suit's power leaving you exceptionally vulnerable). The over-enthusiastic friendly AI also ruins it slightly by rushing in and eliminating enemies before you even get a chance to plan an attack. I often felt that the game would be improved if your AI allies were left out, but perhaps this was Platinum's attempts at making the player feel part of a larger army, an atypically Japanese approach.

There were moments when Vanquish did really shine. The huge boss fights were incredible (the Dr Manhattan-esque Crystal Viper and mysterious Unknown were particular favourites) and some of the more over-the-top sequences were really breathtaking, showing a sense of scale and verticality not seen in other shooters. Certain shoot-outs did work perfectly, when the level design provided enough cover for me to get creative with my moves but enough enemies to present a challenge. And it has to be said, Vanquish looks spectacular throughout, and never stuttered once despite the carnage onscreen.

Vanquish is a strange beast. At once a very Western-inspired game (check out the Gears of War 2 sequence in the darkened tunnel) but also quintessentially Japanese. It is these opposing impulses that create the conflict within Vanquish, a character that wants to get in the enemy's face, but a gameplay design that prevents it. If Platinum learns from this and creates a sequel that marries the concept of cover-shooting and melee combat, they may have a hit on their hands. As it is, with its short length, lack of online and replay value, Vanquish may drop off most people's radar. But I hope this is not the last we see of East-meets-West video game design. First-Person-Shooter Pokemon, anybody?

Lukao gives Vanquish 7 guyver suits out of 10 Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 5 November 2010

Game Review – EA Sports MMA

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360

With the continual popularity surge in Mixed Martial Arts, it seems a no-brainer that another title was going to hit the shelves and compete with the UFC franchise. EA Sports MMA does an excellent job at being different from UFC, but different does not always mean better in some people’s opinions. EA MMA is certainly a much easier fighter to get to grips with, its technical side is not as advanced and daunting and I for one think this is excellent. In terms of fighting realism, EA MMA feels a little like it has come out of an arcade, so realism certainly goes towards UFC. Ultimately however, both titles are quite far apart, making comparing quite difficult and warranting praise for both experiences.

EA MMA takes a user-friendly hands-on approach when it comes to combat. The controller interface is very straightforward with your right analogue stick throwing punches and kicks, the left analogue stick moving your character, bumpers and shoulder tabs changing the style of kicks and punches thrown and face buttons for the technical ground-play, submissions, clinch game and grappling. For newcomers to the sport, there are of course modes that help explain the more technical side of mixed martial arts and thankfully EA MMA makes these technicalities very easy to perform so you do not necessarily have to understand exact body positioning in wrestling like UFC forces upon you. This then makes EA MMA a much more accessible fighter for those wanting to see what all the fuss is about in Mixed Martial Arts.

Upon entering the career mode it is inevitable that you will require some basic knowledge at least of different martial arts and fighting styles. Fortunately EA MMA offers you specific strengths and weaknesses of these arts, for example Muay Thai fighters have strong striking power and are devastating in the clinch, while Greco-Roman wrestlers will prefer to get the action down to the ground and work submissions and ground’n’pound. Whichever way you ultimately choose to take your character, it is always worth replaying the career mode to experience all the different fighting styles that are all fun and interesting in their own ways. EA MMA offers other customizable additions so you can personalize your fighter’s looks, clothes and so forth, some of which a little more useless than other segments, nevertheless it is always fun to put some personality into your fighter.

The game’s tutorial is set in a boot camp training regime run by former MMA fighter Bas Rutten. This takes you through the steps and familiarizes you with the game-play. Once this is all done and dusted you turn professional and choose one of six different leagues to compete in. Each league varies slightly based on rules, but these are subtle changes that rarely change the action drastically and if they do, it’s easy to adapt to the rules to avoid penalties.

Unfortunately EA MMA lacks significant challenge unless the difficulty settings are put up almost immediately. This is a real shame as cheap wins are easily accomplishable against default AI opponents who have a hard time blocking effectively and allow you to dominate fights without any issue. As the career progresses and you beef up the intensity, the game does prove a lot of fun and it becomes that much more satisfying finishing a fight with a deserved K.O. or finally pining down a fighter in a submission and watch them tap out.

EA MMA also forces you to train in-between career fights and unlike UFC, it does so in a non-boring manner. You are offered various tasks and challenges to complete that are all relatively fun, quick and painless. Also tasks that have already been completed allow you to reap the training benefits from them again without the need of actually going through the monotonous process of re-doing the challenge. There is a catch however; you are graded on your performance for each challenge so if you get a poor grade, then simulating the challenge offers minimal rewards. So the game does force you to replay challenges until you get a perfect A grade, then you can really reap the benefits. Another awesome and rather quick procedure is the ability to travel around training camps before fights and learning new moves for your fighter. This helps keep combat feeling fresh and there’s no more satisfying feeling than finishing a fight with a brand new move. As a result, fights come round the bend a lot faster and you find yourself getting a lot tougher much quicker.

Of course the most satisfying part of EA MMA is playing against human opposition. Those looking for a challenge other than the AI will find quite a technical and competitive experience that begs for bragging rights and dominance. The sport itself has such an ability to go from one fighter’s momentum to another, that there is rarely a boring moment as punches are being exchanged and so forth. The stamina gauge that represents the energy left in your fighter helps keep an entertaining balance of offence vs. defense. It is virtually impossible to go on an all out assault, as your stamina will decrease dramatically leaving you vulnerable. Therefore picking your shots and blows wisely makes it quite a strategic and technical fighter, offering lots of different ways to tackle the different martial arts, their strengths and weaknesses. EA MMA really keeps you on your toes and it serves as a really entertaining experience as a result of this.

EA MMA’s online mode also offers some exciting content to get involved with. Ranked tournaments, ladder matches, custom fight cards all help make the fluid online experience that much more fun. On top of all that, tournament finals are often broadcast online allowing players to watch others fight while listening to live commentary. Being part of this experience really drives motivation and makes you want to be that guy in the finals.

In terms of presentation, EA MMA is a good-looking game. Events are presented with lots of enthusiasm, there is plenty of hype, fighters look great and their entrances are stunning. The commentary and general audio is also very good. It is a shame that there are very few well-known fighters on the roster but that’s to be expected since they are all licensed to the UFC. Fortunately you will develop such a bond with your custom fighter that you will find yourself using him throughout your online ventures more than actual in-game fighters.

Ultimately EA Sports MMA is a little less serious than UFC Undisputed 2010 and this actually works in its favour. It is a lot easier to pick up and fight here than it is in the UFC games. EA MMA offers a great career mode, much better than UFC 2010, it offers plenty of replay value online and offline and it is all packaged together in a wonderful and thrilling experience. Is it better than UFC? That is a difficult question to answer, but it is definitely worth your time and then you can make a decision for yourselves.

Technical presentation – 7.5

Graphics – 7.5

Game-play – 8.0

Replay value – 7.5

Final score – 7.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Game Review - Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn out in US now, UK date TBC (2011).

I think it is safe to say that most gamers have a soft spot for Kirby. The delightful bubblegum-based character has been and always will be a staple icon in the video game industry so it is no surprise to see him once again come back for a new installment. Fortunately for Kirby the developers at Good-Feel have created one of the most wondrous and beautiful side-scrolling adventures of 2010 in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. While not incredibly challenging and holding a few small control issues, Epic Yarn oozes aesthetic pleasure. Indeed the game’s diverse environments are so beautiful and so much fun to navigate that you will find yourself in constant awe at the innovative and intuitive design that Epic Yarn has undertaken. On top of this you will find lots of versatility in the game’s different mechanics, lots of secrets and mini-games to take part in and a fantastic two player cooperative mode that lets you share the joy with a friend.

So straight away it is fairly obviously that technical presentation is at the heart of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It is hard to describe the beautiful and in depth detail that engrosses the screen stage after stage until you see it for yourself. The game’s design is based off of yarn, but you probably guessed that. What it does allow however is the ability to weave your surroundings as Kirby pulls strings that change areas and moves platforms etc. Not only is this art style incredibly pleasing on the eyes but also in very clever ways allows you to interact with the environment in really never seen before fashion. Epic Yarn also has a fantastic audio track that really emphasizes this cute and fluffy world you find yourself in.

Normally such massive emphasis on looks usually means that the game could be lackluster in other departments. This is certainly not the case as the game compliments its beautiful world with very good game-play. You will find a large variety of levels to play through, all of which contain lots of different and interesting puzzles to solve or certain bosses to kill. Naturally Kirby has the ability to transform depending on his scenario but things are a little different to what old school Kirby fans should be used to. Instead of sucking up enemies and absorbing their powers, Kirby instead transforms when he needs to. For example, upon diving into water Kirby transforms into a little mini submarine. Other levels require you to play throughout in a pre-transformed state, for example the space levels force Kirby to take the shape of a rocket ship. This occurs at various points in the game with plenty of variety so its worth playing simply to find out what genius shapes Kirby will take on next in order to complete the next fun task at hand. These transformations help to mix up the game’s basic platforming elements in such a way that you are always given different things to do with Kirby, making each level a new surprise. Unfortunately at times Epic Yarn has a few little control issues with certain transformations, this is natural for the Wiimote and when things get packed on the screen it is quite difficult to grab certain enemies or perform a certain movement, but this is few and far between and rarely gets in the way of a great experience.

Aside from completing each level you are also given the opportunity to collect as many beads throughout to gain a gold, silver or bronze score. This is a welcome addition to Epic Yarn because aside from that, the game is actually pretty easy and lacks challenge. There is actually no way to die in the game, literally you just don’t die. So apart from a few hidden collectables in each level and trying to achieve a gold ranking, there is little reason to go back to the levels on your own. Make what you will of this point because being quite easy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of challenge can annoy some gamers. I suppose it is worth noting that being on the Wii the game isn’t going to have a ‘Kirby Must Die’ mode for the more hardcore gamers out there.

Fortunately Epic Yarn does deliver some engaging content once the game itself is completed. The game’s mini game stages are surprisingly whole-hearted and to an extent, better than the actual story missions. This is largely because the challenges that are set require actual use of skill that is never really tested in the story. As a result, you will find yourself getting involved with these mini games and getting hooked trying to perfect the scores and get the best times etc.

In my opinion Epic Yarn’s most notable trait is the ability to play the entire story mode with a friend. A lot of effort was clearly put into this mode and it certainly paid off because the experience is painless and effortless, meaning plenty of fun can be had with a buddy. Playing with a friend also helps the replay value of Epic Yarn because completing certain goals in the story can be achieved in different ways with another adorable Kirby like character on the screen. Needless to say, this is one of the best side-scrolling cooperative experiences in a long time.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is certainly a deceitful game on the surface. Its cute visuals and beautiful game-play make it look like it should be a game for children. There is no doubt that the little ones will have fun with this game, but the same can be said for adults and even the more hardcore of gamers. It is the ability to appreciate the incredible technical achievement that will get the respect of the more serious gamers out there. On top of that, there is no denying the game play is a lot of fun and versatile, bringing a smile to the face of anyone who gives Kirby’s Epic Yarn a play-through.

Technical presentation – 9.5

Graphics – 10.0

Game-play – 7.5

Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 9 / 10

Igor, CeX contributor.

Buy, sell & donate games, phones,
DVDs, Blu-Rays, computers, iPods,
electronics & CDs at
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Monday, 1 November 2010

iPhone bug makes Blighty late for work

Did you oversleep this morning, Monday 1st November? It could be that you were partying or gaming late in to the early hours. As every good physics student knows, to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Good old Newton's third Law eh? Yet, if you had a quiet night then it may be that a bug in the alarm of your iPhone was to blame.

The iPhone bug that occurred when Britain switched from summer time and back to GMT yesterday. A software developer who told TechEye: "The primary phone clock updated automatically - as you'd hope, but it seems like the background process responsible for firing off recurring events didn't sync up. Setting individual alarms seemed to work fine but the problem was to do with the re-curring ones - the kind you'd set to wake you up in the morning! - that have the issue."

Apple had not commented at the time of posting this story, prompting speculation they'd overslept or that Steve Jobs had taken them all on huge drinks bender last night. People in the know said the latter is unlikely and that Apple will probably release a fix in the coming days. In the meantime, perhaps it's time to make that NES alarm clock you've been dreaming about?

Or is that just me? JC Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 22 October 2010

Game Review – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Format: PS3, Xbox 360

Castlevania, the name instantly opens up streams of nostalgia to veteran and old school gamers. The series is without a doubt one of many that should have stayed in its native side-scrolling home; nevertheless, here we are today admiring a technically impressive addition to the series, one full of excitement and adventure, yet lacking in what some might call personality and depth. Indeed Castlevania gives you the impression that there is plenty offered and to an extent this is true with varied fighting mechanics and a large move pool to choose from. It also screams exploration with its beautiful and diverse environments. However, it becomes fairly obvious quite early on that many of the diverse moves available are quite useless and you will stick to only a select few abilities to conquer the game. It is also incredibly sad to find out that the game doesn’t trust you enough to let go of your hand and let you explore this expansive land, instead opting to keep you on a linear pathway. These limitations certainly hinder Castlevania, but it is a testament that this aside, the game still offers plenty of enjoyable moments and experiences.

This joy to be had actually begins almost immediately with Castlevania’s story. While not necessarily ground-breaking, it serves its purpose well to fill you in on the historical nature of the Belmont’s family eternal struggle against the forces of evil, what Gabriel is fighting for in this arch of the story and intertwining some tense moments, the plot keeps its interest throughout. Castlevania as a series has a rich history of story telling and this is by no means let down in this installment with Sir Patrick Stewart doing the narrating as you progress in your adventure. It is fairly obvious that the depiction of the historical struggle that Gabriel is now part of, is much deeper than the continuing story itself, which is a shame because you would hope that the game would dwell deeper into the fictional world of werewolves and vampires. Nevertheless, it serves as a welcome addition to the forces that let the game flow. Castlevania also shows drastic inconsistency with its story-telling, giving you an exciting introduction and climax, while offering very little dynamism throughout your adventure other than as I stated before, moving the game along and the occasional dramatic implementation of a boss story battle.

This un-even story presentation is easily omitted however when you uncover that Castlevania is a long game, spanning across almost 20 hours of game-play. There is certainly no dependency for story here and it is clear that the designers wanted the story to take a back seat and the action to be at the forefront of their game. With these ideals, it is impressive that the story and delivery is as good as it is. Castlevania offers an engaging story-mode with plenty of secrets and unlockables to find. It provides for the most part, very entertaining and enjoyable technical combat mechanics, but is plagued by some uneven platforming errors, a bad camera and just some lousy development issues at times.

The combat is certainly a treat here, offering you the full-blown power of Gabriel’s Cross that acts like the series’ traditional whip. The mechanics spread your abilities across strong and weak attacks, allowing many different chain combos and moves to be linked together, creating mass carnage on the plains that surround you. Of course you are able to purchase and upgrade your abilities throughout the story mode but unfortunately these are not implemented as well as you would hope, with certain moves and abilities being very obviously more effective and useful than others. This perhaps limits the variation available when going through the game mode, but everything is worth trying out at least once. On top of all this, Gabriel will eventually unlock the power of spirits, magic and other slightly less demonic weaponry to keep the action intense and flashy.
Unfortunately the same appeal cannot be found outside of the fighting in Castlevania. The game’s plays out as a 3D platformer, offering an expansive and beautiful world to gaze upon, but never really giving you a real taste of its potential. Plenty of subtle invisible walls hinder any form of exploration, the awkward camera makes navigating ledges and obstacles a serious pain and the game really enjoys holding your hand throughout its numerous puzzles, leaving almost no room for freedom to act on your own accord. It really ruins the fluidity of the game going from one excellent fight encounter to another but having to navigate ridiculous areas and portions of the map. More time and care definitely couldn’t have gone a miss for the platforming elements of Castlevania.

Thankfully Castlevania makes it really easy to just forget about these niggles and moves on with the experience to the more impressive elements of the game, such as the dramatic boss battles. You will encounter two different forms of bosses, the Lord’s of Shadow; the story enemies and Titan battles where you are forced to take on monsters of epic proportions and use your navigational abilities to climb to the monster’s summit and take it down. Both types of battles require strategy and comprehensive understanding of the skills Gabriel has at his disposal, concluding in fantastic face-offs that get the heart racing.

From a technical perspective Castlevania impresses tremendously. This is one of those games where you will find yourself stopping throughout to admire the incredible surroundings around you. Surprising variation in stages including shattered ruins, swamps, wastelands and so forth all ooze with personality and this helps engulf you into Gabriel’s world and struggle. Most notably Gabriel and the Titans are some of the game’s most impressive visuals with your main character moving fluidly and performing some visually pleasing maneuvers while the Titans loom over the land and are a sheer joy to look at. The audio is also brilliant throughout, which is exactly what you’d expect from a game coming out of a series as dramatic and foreboding as Castlevania. The score fits with your surroundings and actions, creating atmosphere and sucking you deeper into the dark and dismal world that drowns Gabriel. As mentioned before, I will re-emphasize that when there is scripted narrative, this is also very impressive.

It seems that many people have been criticizing Castlevania for its lack of innovation and the pretty obvious influences from God of War and Shadow of the Colossus among other titles. Well, while Lords of Shadows might not be something new out of the hat, it takes elements from successful series and implements them into the Castlevania world to offer and present an enjoyable and action packed adventure. It is of course not perfect and has problems, most notably in the platforming department, but this is an action platformer where you will spend the majority of the time fighting and Castlevania certainly excels in that part. With great visuals and audio, plenty of content and lots of fun to be had slaying vampires, werewolves and other fiends, this is a great experience in my book.

Technical presentation – 9.0
Graphics – 9.0
Game-play – 7.0
Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 7.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wonderful nonsense on the CeX facebook page

We've compiled a list of some of the weird and wonderful things we've seen on the web recently. If you want to see more of these, check out the CeX Facebook page and join in the banter.

Who can't resist a life like singing Japanese robot?

We pondered if this is still the best gaming ad?

Found a great bed for a gaming couple:)

Chuckled at this NES wallpaper.

Got misty eyed over this medley of LucasArt's animations.

And wondered if this bloke is a genius or mad?

Surely you can't live without this type fun in your life? Head on over to CeX Facebook today.

JC Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Game Review – Medal of Honor

Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

‘’Not another FPS!’’ I hear you say, I understand and sympathise with your pain readers because without a doubt, the FPS genre is the most flooded and competitive genre in our current catalogue of games. In order to drag a gamer away from his comfort zone i.e. Halo or Call of Duty, a game must deliver on numerous fronts, to an excellent standard. We have seen games such as Solidarity and Metro 2033 come out with bold statements that in their own right, offered something a little different to the market from the usual war simulator. The fictional angle is pretty much useless here because Medal of Honor is set in modern day Afghanistan and implements this to try and get ahead of its competitors. Fortunately, it does so admirably, bringing a decent campaign that shines with realism and authenticity to the table, alongside a very competitive and engaging multiplayer brought to you by D.I.C.E, the guys behind Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s online experience. With a few issues hampering the overall package including disappointing enemy AI and some map restrictions, you will find yourself slightly perplexed as to why such small issues were not resolved to sand down the rough edges of what could have been a top end video game experience.

Being tasked with the elimination of Taliban forces in Afghanistan is a powerful and exciting prospect for a video game story. Medal of Honor really brings guts to the table by portraying a very sensitive and scrutinised war scenario. Nevertheless, upon entering the varied terrain, you find yourself immersed in a team of professional soldiers ready to take on and complete their missions with deadly accuracy. The life-like portrayal of combat and the representation of conflict between the two sides is given a proper sense of realism, simply because you know that this has been a serious issue in real life. This really gives Medal of Honor a strong backbone for its campaign and allows you to overlook the lacklustre enemy AI on lower difficulty levels and the limited ability to explore the environments. You will find yourself controlling varied characters throughout, all of which engage with the story in a cohesive manner while at the same time providing top of the line voice acting and narrative. A noteworthy shining star amidst Medal of Honor’s campaign is the incredibly challenging Tier One Mode. This particular game type pits you against the clock in completing campaign missions, trying to score the quickest times and most kills etc while being monitored and recorded onto leaderboards. This certainly helps up the difficulty of the campaign and if you have the persistency and will to give this a go, you will find a whole load of satisfaction in accomplishing these incredibly difficult missions. Everything screams realism as Medal of Honor tries to capture your mind in what really feels like a strategic military effort.

For the more competitive gamers out there who don’t need campaign modes, fear not for Medal of Honor has one of the most respected design companies paving the way for a fantastic multiplayer experience. Those of you who loved the challenging and compelling online action of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will get a real kick out of taking the similar ride that is Medal of Honor online. D.I.C.E, the geniuses behind the framework for that particular style of FPS took the reigns to create another dramatic, engaging and furiously paced competitive scene. You can participate in various well-known game-types with up to 24 players per game, using one of three different classes, each with their own upgrades, weapon enhancements and play-styles. D.I.C.E are very much known for their realism and difficulty curves, so prepare for a frantic but fair experience should you choose to play online. It is a welcome addition to any FPS game to see varied and decent sized maps, fair and balanced weaponry and little that can be classified as cheap. Medal of Honor online is certainly no walk in the park, so you better get good and get good fast. Once that initial phase of getting destroyed is over and you acquire some skill, there is a rewarding upgrade system awaiting you that helps keep the experience fresh and well worthy of continuous replay.

From a technical perspective Medal of Honor does very well with its terrain visuals and character models. The colour scheme is a little bland but this is partly due to Afghanistan not being a Mediterranean Forest of colours. Vocals and narrative are for the most part intriguing and well done as mentioned before and the sound of war is certainly realistic and action packed as you hear bombardments and missile strikes. All of this mixed in with believable technical jargon from your teammates really engrosses you in the Afghanistan mission effort.

Ultimately Medal of Honor does not actually bring anything new to the table, so if you are looking for something completely different, this is not for you. However, it does implement realism unlike any of the current modern shooters, so if a more life-like shooter simulator sounds appealing to you, it is very hard to go wrong here. To put it simply, it is a game with a good campaign and a great multiplayer, I’m not going to be fancy about it and coat them with other big words. It is hard to get excited about Medal of Honor especially if you already have Call of Duty, Battlefield 2 or Halo Reach in your systems and honestly, they warrant your attention before this does. There’s very little wrong with Medal of Honor, on the contrary, it does certain things like the most important asset; online multiplayer, brilliantly. But as a package it just doesn’t stand out over the competition. It certainly is a hard time to bring FPS’s to the market so we can acknowledge that Medal of Honor is certainly a good attempt, but just not special enough unfortunately.

Technical presentation – 8.0
Graphics – 7.5
Game-play – 7.5
Replay value – 8.0

Final score – 7.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl