Monday, 31 January 2011

Sony NGP pre-release thoughts

The PSP2, NGP, Super Mario Sony machine, whatever they're calling it, it looks immense. Quad core processor, quad core graphics unit, Quad screens! Just kidding, only one screen. It's got WiFi, 3G and GPS. Let's not forget about the minuscule 5 inch OLED touch screen (there had to be a bad point right?) and rear multitouch pad. Officially announced several days ago in Japan, I have to say, it looks a lot like the old PSPs except it looks solid, like a brick?

This powerhouse of a machine is going to be running some fantastic looking games, there's no doubt about that but as well know, games on the PSP were...poor, all action no game play. Of course, there were a select few that stood out. Let's hope that the NGP changes that, I've got a hankering for some visually spectacular games with good game play on a handheld. The one thing we have to remember is that it's a handheld and we're going to be walking around with it. With so much power and connectivity, it's hard to believe that the battery life is going to last longer than 4 hours, I seriously hope I'm underestimating that.

Sony mentioned location based gaming during the unveling, it's been tried many times before and it's never worked, admittedly it's been on mobile platforms so a fully fledged gaming console should hopefully be able to the job. I can't wait to see how they bring the GPS into play and how far they can take it. With the inclusion of 3G mobile data connectivity I'm wondering if this will be for worldwide multilayer gaming at any time, any place or for streaming media/browsing? It seems like mobile phones and handheld consoles are closely becoming one (with the exclusion of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play).

According to a little birdy the price of the NGP will be so low that Sony will lose money! True or not, Sony have confirmed that it will be “affordable” although the meaning of the word gets warped daily. Another juicy, slightly unrelated, tidbit is that Sony is brining PlayStation games to Android and vice versa. What this means is that some newer supported Android phones will be able to play PlayStation games and the NGP will play Android games. There's a lot of hype and promise around this handheld, please don't let us down Sony! It's still early days for the Sony PSP2...errr NGP.

Omran, CeX UK Contributor.

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Nintendo 3DS around the corner?

Entering 2011 there is certainly one thing that we know will play an influential factor in this year’s gaming market, the Nintendo 3DS. With its arrival imminent I find it very hard not to get a tad excited, with this in mind I wanted to share with our readers the list of launch titles that we are most likely going to see around the rumored late March UK and EU release date and some of the most anticipated titles Nintendo’s new handheld will have to offer.

The Nintendo 3DS goes on sale in Japan on February 26th but just like its predecessor, will be region locked so we are going to have to wait for our region’s official release. Nevertheless, we will still be able to look, admire, perhaps even drool a little, until we get our hands on the machine. Upon the launch date there are scheduled to be eight titles released alongside the 3DS, which are as follows:

Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, the fifth installment in Level-5’s iconic puzzle game series. Set as a prequel; expect all new twists and turns as the journey to find Jean Descole continues while taking advantage of the all new 3D screen and motion sensor to create fun and exciting puzzle games.

Ridge Racer 3D, Namco’s iconic racer returns for more drifting and girl impressing action. We have seen the potential of 3D in racing games already but on home consoles. If they can transfer the same experience to a handheld then this could be a sensational launch title for the 3DS.

Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, needs absolutely no introduction, scoring massive critical acclaim and praise on home machines and being dubbed by Capcom as “exactly” the same as its console counterparts, if this is true, then we have one of this generation’s best fighting games thrown straight onto the 3DS with hopefully some original content to boot.

Pro Evolution 3DS Soccer, while many of us may sigh at the thought of PES over FIFA, Konami hold true to the 3DS bringing their next generation of football entertainment to the handheld. Using the 3D features we could perhaps be looking at the future of sports entertainment in the video game world.

Nintendogs + cats, another iconic franchise for Nintendo is set to coincide with the 3DS’s launch. Expanding upon the award winning mechanics of its predecessors, Nintendogs + cats will utilize 3D mechanics, the camera for facial recognition and the motion sensor, creating an all new and well rounded pet simulation package.

Samurai Warriors: Chronicle, developed by Omega Force, this hack and slash fighter is very reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors series, which is absolutely no surprise considering they were developed by the same company. Nevertheless, the formula for massive 3D battles has been set and we are hoping for good things from the samurais.

Combat of Giants: Dinosaur Strike, the epic prehistoric brawler is perhaps the weakest launch title for the Nintendo 3DS, nevertheless it could turn some heads if the 3D impresses. Initially released on the Nintendo Wii by Ubisoft, Combat of Giants earned very little praise for its lack of originality and somewhat tedious gaming elements. I wouldn’t be surprised if this remained on the shelves during the 3DS launch.

Puzzle Bobble 3D, last but not least, another puzzle game is set to join the release date. Again I am skeptical with regards to Puzzle Bobble and its ability to compete with the likes of Professor Layton; nevertheless we shall wait and see.

Even though it is a little early to be getting excited over other 3DS titles, I cannot help but list some of the most anticipated games we have to look forward to in the not so distant future.

Paper Mario 3D, another iconic franchise for Nintendo, with critical success on both the Gamecube and Wii, there is little reason for this game to not storm the charts upon its eventual handheld release.

Starfox 64 3D, those of you who bust out the dusty old Nintendo 64 every once in a while are all bound to give Starfox 64 a go in between Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Pokemon Stadium. Starfox 64 set the standards for pilot shooters and introduced some of Nintendo’s now most memorable faces and quotes. Look out (“do a barrel roll!”) for this reinvigoration of Nintendo’s finest space shooters in stunning 3D.

Kid Icarus Uprising, this was actually the first game that I saw debuted on the 3DS during the Nintendo E3 conference. It made me think first of all, how underrated Kid Icarus is as a Nintendo character (honestly thank goodness for Super Smash Bros Brawl) and how brilliant this new handheld game actually looked. This platform adventure is set to raise the bar for Nintendo and thus gives us every reason to be begging for a copy to play as soon as possible this year.

Resident Evil Revelations + Mercenaries, actually split into two separate games, Revelations encompasses the single player story side of the series, setting the new horror adventure between Resident Evil 4 and 5, putting the emphasis back on pure horror and joining together two of the series most loved characters, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine; we are sure to have an absolute nightmare on our hands. The latter title does pretty much what it says on the tin, taking the popular Mercenaries mode from Resident Evil 5 and transforming it into a standalone multiplayer experience on the Nintendo 3DS.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS, a lot of debate goes into this next statement, but it is considered by some that Snake Eater was the best MGS title of all time. Whether you agree with that opinion or not is up to you, what I do know is that it is at least respected by most, as a fantastic experience and given an opportunity to play it again, in 3D, is an absolute no brainer in my book.

Mario Kart 3DS, the ultimate multiplayer experience makes its way back onto Nintendo’s handheld. What can be said about Mario Kart that hasn’t already, it is wonderful, the perfect way to spend time with your friends, it will be a chart topper, it will break records, it must be owned by all Nintendo fans.

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS, I am going to let you guys in on a secret, I never played The Ocarina of Time (gasp), I never experienced the magic that was the perfect adventure game. I feel ashamed to admit that, but thankfully Nintendo are allowing me to rectify my rather embarrassing situation by releasing it on the 3DS. This is my most anticipated title, a remake of a perfect game, how can you possibly go wrong?

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, an excited child’s run down of the games to expect from the Nintendo 3DS. We have a long year ahead of us with plenty to look forward to.

Igor, CeX UK Contributor

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Friday, 21 January 2011

Game Review – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Format: PC.

It is difficult not to admire the impact World of Warcraft has had on the video game industry in the past six years. Millions of players enjoy the thrilling quests and raids that WoW has been providing from expansion pack to expansion pack. Cataclysm is another incredible addition to the series, providing the world of Azeroth with one of the most beautiful visual makeovers, seven new grueling dungeons, three new raids, two new playable races and unfortunately plenty of content that leans towards the more experienced and higher level players, as opposed to newcomers.

Newbie’s never fear for this is always light at the end of the tunnel. The two new playable races Goblins and Worgen, provide an excellent starting point to WoW and are brilliant entry-level races. It is always refreshing to see that a lot of care and attention has been taken to ensure that the two races are completely different aesthetically and offer two completely varied playing experiences. Nevertheless, as far as beginning a story in WoW goes, this is as good a place as ever to begin your journey where there is a large variety of enjoyable quests and a well driven story that guides you through some interesting and intriguing zones. Cataclysm in particular has really put a great deal of effort in to ensure whichever character classes are chosen, there will be plenty of useful help and tips for you to get the most out of your chosen specialties. This of course comes particularly in handy for newcomers, but even for the more experienced players it provides a great opportunity to try classes that you never tried before.

Cataclysm offers a brand new second profession to characters once level 20 has been hit. Archaeology sounds like a fascinating way to spend your time in WoW, finding particular land marks and digging for valuable treasure and loot, however it seems that finding items is entirely luck based and you quickly learn that there are other, more effective ways to find better loot than rummaging through dirt and mud. The main issue with Archaeology is that there are so many useless items in comparison to the very few decent ones that it’s almost unjustifiable wasting all that time and effort in the small vain hope of unlocking the desired items.

The brunt of Cataclysm’s content comes in the form of five new zones. These areas provide a hefty amount of quests and storyline to keep you engrossed in the post-apocalyptic world of Azeroth. Cataclysm’s story is centered on the aftermath in the world, which has been decimated by the dragon Deathwing. This theme of destruction is reminiscent in almost all the areas you visit apart from the occasional cave or underwater world, nevertheless Azeroth looks visually stunning and there is much to be admired throughout. The five zones will most likely be the place that experienced level 80 characters will progress to the new level cap of 85, although be warned the ridiculous amount of XP required to reach max level is unbelievable. Each zone provides it’s own satisfying story and conclusions that of course follow the Deathwing story narrative, but it means that you will want to play through each zone to bring all the loose ends to a close and see some of the spectacular endings that ensue.

One of the things WoW certainly does well is establishing that time has passed after quests and zones have been completed. Known as phasing, you will see how you playing the game and completing quests, defeating bosses and finishing zones has a profound impact on the environment around you. Visuals will change, characters will disappear and significant alterations occur in Azeroth, giving you not only a sense of achievement and satisfaction, but also the feeling that you are making a difference.

Cataclysm continues expanding its dimensions and mechanics with the introduction of capping players who want to attempt dungeons immediately on the heroic difficulty setting. Before it was possible to skip normal difficulty and go straight into the big leagues, but now a certain level of equipment and gear is required before you can challenge the heroic versions of the dungeons. This is an excellent addition to the game as it ensures players won’t be matched up with unprepared and under-geared players with absolutely no experience of the dungeon beforehand.

Upon reaching level 85 you unlock further content including two new player-versus-player game zones that offer domination and capture the flag battlegrounds. These games are a lot of fun and provide variation from raiding and questing, but the fact that only level 85 characters can participate means that newcomers won’t be taking part any time soon, although on the upside it ensures balanced teams.

Cataclysm continues to provide further depth in its community interface and interaction. Earning experience points for your guild has never been easier as you acquire them no matter what you are doing. The new expansion offers brand new features including Guild levels, achievements and special perks, all of which help bring players together and more importantly, keep players together in their respected Guilds. The perks in particular offer some very cool powers for example you can acquire a special cloak that can teleport you to any of the major cities. You will also eventually be able to purchase items that cannot be obtained in any other way. Needless to say, this enhancement is one of the most exciting in Cataclysm.

Ultimately World of Warcraft has evolved and most certainly for the better. There has never been so much content available for both newcomers and veterans alike. Naturally it makes sense to cater to those who have been loyal to Azeroth and have been in the world for a long time, but there is still so much fun to be had even if you are beginning right now, if ever there was a time to start WoW this is certainly it. Cataclysm was pretty much exactly what WoW needed, an update to the older areas, additions that expand not only the game but the way we interact with other players, beautifully designed and challenging new dungeons and zones and topped off with top class varied content to sink your teeth into. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is certainly a step in the right direction at keeping this franchise as the most popular MMORPG of the last decade.

Technical presentation – 8.5

Graphics – 8.5

Game-play – 8.5

Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 8 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor

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Monday, 17 January 2011

Phone Review - Samung Galaxy S

The Galaxy S is Samsung's flagship phone, it has a 1ghz processor, 4 inch screen and HD video recorder. It's versatile, it contains something for everyone.

The Design
Many will say that from the front it looks a lot like an iPhone and I say, so what? Apple have found a design that is sexy and appealing, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However Samsung have added their own to the design. On the back you'll notice a slight bump, this is ingenious design by Samsung. It raises the back just enough that it doesn't scratch on surfaces and also protects the 5 megapixel camera. The power button is annoyingly, on the right hand side of the phone. Conveniently placed where your thumb would be meaning you accidentally turn the screen off once in a while. You do, however, get used to it and it doesn't become so much of a problem.

The Hardware
We have quite a treat in the Samsung Galaxy S, a 1ghz processor (the same one used in the iPhone 4) and an integrated graphics chip mean that the phone plays YouTube videos, games and music effortlessly, it really is a media lover's device. The 5 megapixel camera takes clear photos and can also record 720p HD video which complements the 4 inch Super AMOLED display. The screen is incredible it's crisp, colour true and easily visible in sunlight. On top of the display is a sheet of Gorilla Glass, a type of glass resistant to scratches (and even knives in some YouTube videos). The Galaxy S comes in two versions, one with 8gb and another with 16gb of inbuilt memory, if this doesn't sound a lot then you can use a microSD card up to 32gb.

The Software
The phone comes with Android version 2.1 (Eclair) but is upgradeable to 2.2 (Froyo) and soon 2.3 (Gingerbread). I'll be talking about 2.2 as it's the latest available. Samsung uses their own user interface on top of Android 2.2 called TouchWiz. It has 7 home screens all with a host of widgets waiting to be put on them, ranging from YouTube to your daily briefing (News, shares, diary). Several rather nice applications come pre-installed on the phone. One of them is Swype, an innovative new way of writing on a phone, instead of tapping on each key you swipe your finger along them (I personally use this as the default input method, it's that good). All the typical Android applications are included too (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Search etc). Android 2.3 brings improvements to speed and several new unannounced features.

Considering the phone's only flaw is the position of the power button, it is easily the nicest looking and easiest to use Android phone on the market. The in-built media functions cater to everyone and the beautiful display is easy on the eyes.

Omran gives the Samsung Galaxy S 9 out of 10.
Omran Hussein, CeX UK Contributor.
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Sunday, 16 January 2011

This week's Most Wanted

Check out this week's most wanted games & gadgets in the USA.
See how much your stuff is worth at

Click to enlarge

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Game Review - Donkey Kong Country Returns

Format: (Wii)

Like Batman and Superman before him, Donkey Kong Country Returns in a new
adventure for the Wii, crafted this time not by franchise owners Rare, rather by Nintendo's new golden child Retro Studios. Most famous for their reinvention of the Metroid series (check out Metroid Prime 1-3), Retro Studios stay true to their name this time round by distilling Donkey Kong back into his SNES-era form: Hardcore controller-smashing 2D platforming.

Simplicity is the name of the game here: the player must move
 Nintendo's prime-ape across hazardous levels, collecting bananas and
hidden icons before facing off against the zone's boss. Retro studios
manage to take DKCR's simple format and deliver something fresh and
exciting in each and every level, either by featuring stunning visual
effects or thrilling gameplay. Every stage is crafted lovingly, with
incidental details crowding both the foreground and background. DKCR 
may be a 2D game, but Donkey Kong's actions often have an effect in
three dimensions, with impressive results! Donkey and Diddy Kong
 themselves are superbly animated, moving with fluid animalistic grace, and fit in well with their surroundings. The big ape himself seems to have retained his rhythm-based moves from his earlier bongo games, as he pounds on his enemies with percussive abandon! There's not often a static element in any of the stages and from beginning to end my screen was alive with colour and movement. Retro Studios obviously breathed a lot of character into both the level design and characters.

While DKCR follows a simple format, completing the game is no simple
matter. In all honesty, Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the hardest
 games I've played in a long time, and I've bested the likes of Super
Meat Boy and Henry Hatsworth. Some levels will have you retrying over 
and over, especially the rocket barrel sections! The less co-ordinated among you need not despair however, as DKCR features the same hand-holding 'here let me do it for you' feature seen in New Super Mario Brothers Wii and Mario Galaxy 2. After losing the prerequisite number of lives, the option to have the computer play through the rest of the stage for you opens up. But you won't be needing that now, will you? (don't worry, I won't tell anyone!)

Unfortunately it's not all golden bananas. Once again the ungainly Wii motion controls rear their ugly head, as some of DK's moves require a drumming motion to activate. While I'm aware that this fits in with his bongo-M.O., in situations where the slightest twitch causes the monogrammed monkey to roll off a platform to his death rather than extinguish a fiery enemy, a button press would have been much preferred.

Donkey Kong Returns is a must-have game for fans of the SNES DK
 series, as well as anyone who enjoyed the co-op platforming from New
 Super Mario Bros Wii. With plenty of hidden icons and stages to
unlock, as well as bonus content, DKCR will have you returning for more again and again. Just try not to throw your wiimote out the window!

Lukao gives Donkey Kong Returns 8 game-overs out of 10.

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Thursday, 6 January 2011

CeX in The Daily Telegraph

Of interest to avid gamers, film and music fans as well as potential CeX Franchisees, The Daily Telegraph reports "Video game sales soar as cash-strapped Britons stay home. Cash-strapped Britons chose to stay in last year, pushing sales of music, films and video games to record highs."

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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Game Review - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

It's that time of year again when we huddle together at home, listening for footsteps on the roof and waiting for a man in red and white to climb down our chimney. Yes that's right, Ezio Auditore de Fireze has returned, and he's come bearing gifts of swift death to the unjust and a new sweet multiplayer mode for all the good little boys and girls! For those who haven't been initiated into Ubisoft's assassin's guild, the AC series is a development of the core gameplay mechanics seen in games such as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. The free-running and stealth kill abilities seen therein are unleashed on an open world enviroment, a virtual Rome being the setting this time around.

AC: Brotherhood acts as a stopgap between the core titles, a sort of Assassin's Creed 2.5. continuing directly after the events in AC2, the player must take control of Ezio as he struggles to maintain control of the fledgling Assassin's Guild and the rise to power of a new foe. The game's story feels less well defined in this outing, with less time given to explaining the villain's schemes and motivation and more spent focusing on the tensions within the brotherhood. We also get to spend more time with Desmond and his crew as he adopts Ezio's skills to explore modern day Italy, which is a nice touch. What wasn't as fun was watching his cohorts compete in a 'Who Can Be The Most Annoying Character' competition. It was like watching an episode of Scooby Doo where all the characters were Scrappy.

While the story mode is shorter and a bit weaker than it's predecessor, AC: Brotherhood compensates by giving the player much more to do between missions. Instead of having a small town to maintain, the player is tasked with the renovation of countless shops and landmarks across Rome. The thieves', mercenaries' and courtesans' guilds must all be renovated and by completing various tasks and missions for each guild you may reduce the cost of their services. The presence of Borgia Towers, fortified and heavily guarded areas dotted around Rome, inhibit your ability to renovate and liberate, so the guards must be eliminated before you can scale the tower and destroy it. It is a little tiresome having to infiltrate and scale each tower before you can even have access to the area's map, but each tower is laid out differently and forces the player to put thought into their approach. Once each tower is destroyed, you may begin to recruit some of the city's more spirited citizens to your cause.

The introduction of the recruiting mechanic is another great new addition to the series. The addictive nature of sending your new assassins away on missions and leveling up their abilities is only matched by the joy in seeing them emerge from a hiding place and strike down a troublesome archer just as he's about to raise the alarm. In addition to this, AC: Brotherhood also boasts a heap of new smaller features. There are new weapons, attack and kill animations, improved controls and combat (the new kill streak feature makes fighting a crowd of guards spectacular, if not rather easy) as well as more sophisticated enemy AI. Some of these additions feel a little superfluous, such as the crossbow (surely throwing knives and A GUN is enough?).

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood almost falls short of surpassing its older brother. While the extra features and more varied missions are great, the length and depth of the story let it down. Happily, the single player component of AC:Brotherhood is but a prelude to the absolutely sublime multiplayer. In a online experience that is completely fresh and unique, AC: Brotherhood puts you and five or six other players on a map populated by AI characters. These computer-controlled drones share the same models as you and your opponents, so it is up to you to spot your assigned target amongst them, while simultaneously avoiding detection from whoever is hunting you. This simple concept proves to be one of the better online games I've played, a slow and tense experience at times, a fast and panicked one at others.

Ubisoft have done well to prevent the games from becoming a thoughtless killathon, a renaissance COD if you will, by meting out points according to your actions. You can earn as many points for luring your attacker into killing an innocent bystander as you can by rushing up and killing your target. All the skills learnt in the single player AC games suddenly make sense, as now you are tracking and escaping from human-controlled characters. The inclusion of an ranking and perk system deepens the experience and allows the player to personalise their playstyle.

While Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood suffers from some minor demerits (Glyph hunting is no longer the joy it used to be, and Ezio once again seems more than happy to leap off buildings at unexpected angles), the chance to play the multiplayer component more than makes up for any misgivings I may have for the slightly short singleplayer. So why not give in to the spirit of the season, because is Christmas all about bringing people together and teaching them how to brutally murder other people?

Lukao gives Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood 9 conveniently-placed haystacks out of 10.
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Game Review - Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

Format: (DS)

999 is a unique and special title on the Nintendo DS. Not so much because it is tailored for an adult audience, which is rare on the handheld, but because this interactive novel and puzzle hybrid, is just absolutely mesmerising. You find yourself entangled in a psychological game of death reminiscent of the SAW franchise, as you and eight other characters try and find your way through an assortment of devilish and clever puzzles aboard a sinking freighter. This ship is the stage for one of the most fascinating and gripping stories of the year, which pulls you deep into its dark twists and turns, making it almost impossible to put down and almost irresistible to replay again and again.

Explaining a summary of the story simply does not do justice to the world 999 plunges you deep into, however if I was to give you a taste then it all begins very similarly to SAW 2 the movie. Nine characters find themselves awoken on board an abandoned ship with no memory of prior events, and are informed by a mysterious psychopath known as Zero, that they are taking part in an experiment known as the ‘Nonary Game’. You play the role of Junpei, a terrified college student, who alongside a very vibrant and elusive cast of characters, helps pave the path for one of the most mind-blowing stories in any recent games history.

It is important to note that indeed 999 will require plenty of reading time. The game is built completely around the phenomenal story that is developed by understanding each and every character but with no voice acting, you will be required to clock plenty of hours in the text. This really, is one of the joys of 999 because it allows you to visualise and imagine each character’s tone and voice and this helps to make your experience with 999 individual to you. 999 provides all of the characters’ thoughts, speech, explanations of puzzles and everything in-between in text form, so unfortunately if reading is not something you find interesting, this perhaps might not be the game for you.

You are given nine hours to escape the nightmare you find yourself in, even though the clock actually progresses at set points in the game, so you have as much time as you need to read and complete the puzzles. An important aspect of a puzzle game is to ensure the puzzles are not too easy, but at the same time, provide a perfect level of challenge. This is certainly the case here as 999 makes sure you will be mentally tested, but nothing is ever too much and to ensure you don’t get stuck, there are clever hints and tips available from your comrades if you so happen to find yourself in a bind. Before each puzzle commences you find the game uses a point-and-click mechanic where you are required to find points of interest and items in different locations. Using these items you then proceed to try and complete different tasks that Zero has set for you, all of which are intuitive and fun to get stuck into.

The real beauty behind 999’s story is that each character is always one small step away from imminent death. This may sound incredibly daunting, but this is largely where the game’s replay value stems from. Each locked room can only be accessed by a certain number of characters and this is decided by looking at the room’s number and then looking at the number on each character’s bracelet and finding the digital root of that number. Depending on the root, a different amount of people can come in with you, leaving other characters alone, with their thoughts for survival. 999 does a fantastic job in building psychological tension as it is apparent from the beginning that survival instinct is priority for some of the characters. This makes it a difficult task in choosing whom you will trust and who you try to confide in.

What might come as massive shock is that 999 almost sets you up to die in your first play through. I got killed, my friend got killed and his friend got killed, all in our first play through. This may seem ridiculous but once again, slots perfectly in the experience that is 999. You see, every decision you make in this game changes the outcome of the finale, who lives, who dies and so forth. If you happen to meet your demise, the game triggers a fast-forward ability that lets you begin the game again, skip dialogue and story you already know and it even highlights your prior choices so you can change your decisions and answers to certain scenarios. This allows you to progress in a different manner and as a result, uncover new and interesting facts surrounding the characters and story, all of which is so gripping its just unbelievable. There are six different endings available and believe me, it will be very difficult to put the game down before you find out all of the resulting finales and how they come about.

999 does have a couple little problems that taint the experience somewhat. When you die and the fast forward mechanic triggers, it would have been nice to be able to skip some of the puzzles you have already accomplished. As easy as it is to get back relatively quickly to you previous place in the game, some of the early challenges slow this process down and can be irritating. I also thought that the game’s pacing had some issues. For a story that really thrives off of urgency, the set time clock is somewhat of a downer. It would have been very interesting to see how this game played out with an actual timer on each puzzle, this would mean that you’d have all the time needed to read and really take in the story, but once the puzzles kicked in, you’d have to work hard and fast as the tension mounted.

From a technical perspective, I don’t think it gets any better on the Nintendo DS. 999’s visual presentation is beautiful, I love the character design that is reminiscent of Manga and Anime. The surroundings are easy to take in, which is a good thing considering you have to explore them and find certain points of interest. The creepy audio helps to enhance the experience and is a real treat if combined with headphones. The game handles very well, it is smooth and little problems were encountered with completing puzzles.

To conclude, 999 is a phenomenal interactive novel and puzzle hybrid. The puzzle genre has taken a massive leap on the Nintendo DS with plenty of top tier titles entering the market, but this is considerably more, it is special, it is thrilling and it is engrossing. Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is a fantastic tale, told with absolute precision and is intertwined with intuitive puzzles, twists, turns and so much more. This is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone over 17 who own a Nintendo DS. To be honest, it’s the perfect present whatever the occasion just buy the game!

Technical presentation – 10

Graphics – 10

Game-play – 9.5

Replay value – 10

Final score – 10 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor

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Feature - CeX’s Top Titles of 2010

It is certainly hard to believe that another year has flown by in what seems to have been no time at all. Alas, this warrants a nostalgic look at some of the best that 2010 has had to offer, a glimpse back at some excellent games that you may have played or accidentally missed out on. Nevertheless, here are what I categorize in no particular order, as 2010’s top 10 best and must-have games!

Xbox 360’s Halo is an icon on Microsoft’s platform, in fact almost anybody who likes first-person shooters will know of the legend that is Master Chief. Arriving just in time to reinvigorate Microsoft’s aging console, Halo: Reach set the boundaries once again for space aged shooting. With an excellent multiplayer experience, plenty of additions to an already fantastic formula, coupled for the first time with 4-player cooperative campaign mode, this is pretty much a staple in any Xbox 360 catalogue.

Rockstar’s multi-platform cowboy sandbox experience known as Red Dead Redemption is another one of 2010’s greatest highlights. After the poor reception of Grand Theft Auto IV, it was only right that a company as well established as Rockstar brought to the table something as excellent as RDR. This game took the mechanics of GTAIV, improved them in every aspect and threw the resulting masterpiece into the Wild West. The result, an epic tale of one man’s fight for justice through a long and engrossing story that was every bit as engaging as it was exciting.

Arguably the best technical achievement of 2010 should without any question go to Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the Nintendo Wii. The Italian plumber had a lot to live up to after the roaring success of Super Mario Galaxy, but the follow-up was considered by almost all critics as a perfect game, a must own title, improving on the original in every way and one of the best things to ever come out for the Wii. Brilliant puzzle design, a wide variety of replay value and fun mechanics alongside what is one of the most iconic casts of characters in video game history, makes Super Mario Galaxy 2 the must own game for the Nintendo Wii this year.

Going right back to the beginning of 2010, I have found many people miss the name of Mass Effect 2 for the Xbox 360 as one of the best games 2010 had to offer. Mass Effect 2 offered an engrossing role-play adventure, one filled with endless replay value thanks to a brilliantly scripted story that resulted in numerous endings and customization that would have the most die hard RPG fan leap for joy. In fact the game is so good that a Playstation 3 release is set for early next year to make sure as many people as possible get to experience this gem.

The Xbox 360 exclusive Alan Wake is next for an honorable mention. This game sparked with brilliance because of its originality, the narrated story, intuitive game mechanics and foreboding atmosphere helped rocket Alan Wake to instant stardom. It was certainly something special using light to vanquish demons and reminded me almost of a very serious version of Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube. The only criticism I have of this game is that it didn’t come out on the Playstation 3.

The best role-play adventure of 2010 was without any question, Demon’s Souls on the Playstation 3. So much hype and talk spread around this so called ‘’brutal yet simply brilliant adventure.’’ Demon’s Souls was the most difficult game of 2010, but also the most rewarding. It had a perfect difficulty curve, never felt cheap and created a perfect atmosphere of abandonment as you traversed the wastelands. With the addition of the amazing bloodstain mechanic that allowed players all over the world to communicate with each other by laying down helpful messages and hints in other players’ worlds, this was the number one title to have for any hardcore role-play fan.

Loved by some, hated by others, Final Fantasy XIII still has to make it onto the list of 2010’s most memorable and best games. The Final Fantasy series is iconic, there’s simply no denying that and what the series does well, is tell mesmerizing stories and accompany them with intuitive turn-based action, both of which were delivered in this installment. Some of the most beautiful graphics to date, a vibrant cast of characters and excellent narration helped propel this epic tale and as a result, made for one amazing experience on both 360 and Playstation 3.

The legendary Dark Knight certainly put on a phenomenal show in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Available for both the 360 and PS3, Arkham Asylum saw Batman undertake numerous enemies including the Joker, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy in what turned out to be one of the best games of 2010. Action hero games can be hit and miss but this one came out on top with great fighting mechanics, an excellent assortment of stealth to action game-play, plenty of amazing gadgets to play around with and an incredible voice cast and narrative that drove this story along.

There have been a lot of excellent game releases for the Nintendo DS this year, but no game had as much hype an anticipation as Dragon Quest: Defenders of the Starry Sky. The marketing campaign was really full out for the new portable adventure and rightfully so as an impressive eighty hours could easily be accumulated in this adventure. Sticking with the traditional Dragon Quest formula, this addition to the series didn’t re-invent the wheel, but added excellent multiplayer dimensions to the game and plenty of customization, making it a keeper in a catalogue of impressive DS titles in 2010.

Finally, we arrive at Call of Duty: Black Ops, with more than 600 million hours of game-time clocked globally and over one billion dollars of revenue made, this is certainly the pinnacle of multiplayer entertainment. Everyone is playing Black Ops and there’s good reason for this, absolutely astonishing multiplayer components including great maps, weapons, upgrades, perks and replay value help rocket this game to the must own game this Christmas holiday. Pick up a pad, load up your weapon and get online for this fast-paced and thrilling experience.

There we have it ladies and gentleman, a list of this years’ top titles, all of which offer something special or unique in their own interesting and intuitive ways. Make sure to get your hands on these great games either at your local CeX store or online at

Igor Kharin, CeX UK Contributor.
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