Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

One thing I have always enjoyed as a video gamer is when a legacy concludes in spectacular fashion. Assassin's Creed: Revelations depicts the story of Ezio and Altair’s final journey as their stories intertwine with the most heroic bartender of all time, Desmond. An engaging and fascinating tale holds this very similar Assassin's Creed formula together – so don’t think you’ll be playing a wholly refined experience because familiar mechanics resonate throughout. That being said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all why change a game that is loved by millions of gamers? A fitting ending to a fantastic set of characters sets up Assassin's Creed’s future for what has to be an expansion of the game’s core mechanics and gameplay, but for the time being, enjoy the comforting assassinations and effortless bounding across rooftops – enjoy what this series does best.

Revelations follows the story of three protagonists Ezio, Altair and Desmond. A brave decision was made back in production to create and intertwine these characters’ journeys, but for the most part it pays off. Of course Ezio’s quest is at the heart of this adventure with the veteran assassin struggling to find links between himself and Altair while trying to cope with the social and political unrest in Constantinople. Ezio’s journey is entrancing, dangerous and eye opening, you feel the assassins’ story slowly conclude and making that journey with him is a memorable gaming experience.

Alongside Ezio’s tale, Desmond struggles to find a way out of the Animus as he traverses his thoughts in what can only be described as a Tron-like maze – digitized platforms, Matrix-esque back drops all help fill this electronic world. Unfortunately while important for acquiring information about Subject 16, Desmond’s platforming sections do nothing to spur excitement in gameplay. The mysterious inhabitant of the Nexus leads Desmond down an interesting journey, unfortunately his often clumsy and awkward levels will have you wishing you were back on the streets stalking your next victim, instead of organizing Tetris blocks to jump on. Desmond’s historical counterpart Altair on the other hand, is far from unwanted in Revelations. Complimenting Ezio and Desmond, Altair brings the story full circle as Desmond discovers the missing fragments of his mind and fits all the pieces together.

Story aside, the great news is the majority of your time will be spent as Ezio, traversing the streets and eliminating targets. While Ezio has aged, his ability and skills feel effortless as ever. The beautiful Constantinople and other locations simply erupt with life as you move through the streets and watch the world go about its daily business. Assassins’ Creed has always been known for beautiful visuals and aesthetic environment design so it’s no surprise that Revelations continues this trend.

Of course you’d be hoping that most of your sightseeing will take place high on the rooftops and right you are. Revelations improves the movement mechanics by tweaking what ledges and gaps you grab to climb, making already believable parkour even more thrilling to watch. The addition of a new hook allows for cool zip line action and the ability to grab onto ledges that might have been out of reach in previous Assassin's Creed games. You even get access to parachutes should you decide a leap of faith isn’t your preferred travel choice. Ultimately Assassin's Creed prides itself with thrilling movement across various environments and it is here that Revelations continues to shine.

When you’re not running on rooftops, you will be going about various contracts and missions. The goal remains the same in Revelations, find your target and eliminate them. A varied arsenal of weapons really makes you feel like a deadly assassin and the different ways you pull of kills is satisfying. Should you run into a position where the only way out is to fight, larger weapons like swords, axes and even bombs come into play. Assassin's Creed has very rich combat mechanics but they have seen barely any change. Taking on multiple enemies is fun and fighting feels realistic as swords clang against each other as you pull off counter moves, but the real satisfaction comes from swift and silent assassinations, not taking down hordes of enemies.

The idea of avoiding hordes hasn’t seemed to sink in with Ubisoft as Revelations introduces a bizarre and highly unrewarding Tower Defense element to the game. Improving on the factions system from prior games, you are now forced to defend your territory in these mini games where you place assassins in certain areas and watch as they kill waves of enemies attacking you. Simple and pointless gameplay mechanics make this feel like a complete waste of time, doing nothing but diminishing the experience you have with Revelations.

It’s always important for franchises to progress and introducing multiplayer to Assassin's Creed was definitely a smart move. Competitive online action returns as you wade through the crowds trying to find your marked target without giving away your intentions. Assassin's Creed online is a wholly satisfying experience and the inclusion of game modes like Artifact Assault (Capture the Flag) and a variant of Team Deathmatch alongside a plethora of other content to get stuck into, there’s plenty of reason to explore the online components of this game.

There’s really no question that Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the game we have all come to know and love. One final installment in what has now become a predictable series, yet I can’t help but feel content and satisfied with the final product. Change is difficult when your formula is so successful and while fans will be content with Revelations, this has to be the last entry without significant changes and enhancements to the gameplay. That aside, you will find everything you want from an Assassin's Creed game here, exciting single player action and an enticing online multiplayer experience.

8.0 | Gameplay |
Magical movement mechanics hold together an aging game. It’s fun but you’ve experienced it before.

9.0 | Presentation |
Stunning visuals and a beautiful audio soundtrack makes Assassins’ Creed Revelations one of the best looking games we’ve seen.

7.0 | Replay Value |
Online multiplayer is fun but exploring the open world in single player is where the true fun is to be had. No significant content to return to unfortunately.

8.0 | Final Thoughts |
I believe that Assassins’ Creed knows the formula it uses is engaging, hence why there’s been so little change across the games. The argument is why fix what is not broken? The flip side is I’m getting tired of playing what is pretty much the same old game. Assassins’ Creed as a franchise needs to be revamped now and made even more spectacular than it was before. For the time being however, Revelations is engaging, entertaining and another great entrant in the series.

Igor Kharin.

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, 25 November 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Every once in a while the video game industry is blessed with a world that is enchanting, engrossing and believable. Traversing the northern realm of Tamriel, Skyrim, you will lose hundreds of hours exploring this vast world, engaging with the entertaining characters and battling a variety of fascinating enemies. Make no mistake, this isn’t a game you can just pick up and play every once in a while, Skyrim demands your time and respect, but in exchange you will be rewarded with a mesmerizing world filled with enchantment and mystery. The journey is for the brave, but there’s help along the dark roads and refuge across Skyrim’s towns and villages – your goal is make a name for yourself as a hero of Skyrim and a slayer of dragons, but can you conquer it?

Bringing together elements of Oblivion and Fallout 3, Skyrim takes Bethesda’s RPG ventures to the next level as you wake up on a cart being transported to your execution. With no memory or recollection as to why you’re there, it all seems to be over before your adventure even begins. You choose a race inspired from the series but no class, put your head on the execution pedestal and stare into oblivion. Fortunately for you, oblivion is shaped like a dragon that lands before you and thwarts the execution – a sign from the Gods or pure chance? Running away from the dragon you scavenge for a weapon and get yourself to safety as the beast ravages the village.

Respite feels good, but the expansive world around you is a terrifying place. After escaping you are faced with the gruelling question of where to next? Fans of Bethesda’s RPG’s will be more than accustomed to being thrown into the wild and finding ways to fend for themselves. Do you find the next village or do you traverse the forest and mountains further in hope of finding a camp of people? These are the types of choices that Skyrim forces upon you from segment to segment, there is never a right or wrong answer, there’s merely what you think is the best choice for survival.

Skyrim opts for a fascinating way to implement your characters’ role-play mechanics, allowing you to enhance your skills as you use them in the game. Fight using a double-handed weapon and your double-handed skill increases, wear heavy armour and your defensive proficiency in armour increases, while using spells will make you a more effective caster. However, to ensure a sense of control, each time you level up you are given one perk point and allowed to increase either health, stamina or magicka. While your character is moulded throughout your journey, you can still point his progress in the direction you believe is more beneficial for your play through. This alongside your particular races special abilities and the Shout powers you learn from ancient ruins and slaying dragons, all make an individual character catering to your own personal needs.

Of course there’s only so much tinkering in the menus you can do before you have to put that sword or spell to action. Engaging the enemy has certainly been improved since Oblivion and Skyrim ensures a fluid and carnage-filled battle each and every time. With a variety of weapons at your disposal, hand-to-hand combat is entertaining and has been tweaked to feel more realistic as the sound of steel clangs until your enemy falls. Taking a leaf out of Fallout 3’s book, slow-motion kills are also present and act as executions should your character finish off a foe in dramatic fashion – these animations are very entertaining and add a sense of impact to the battle. Of course you can always play the long-distance game, keeping away from foes and engaging them with bows and magic. Although you will find that swarming foes will require close combat to execute, but you can combine combat styles effectively to put together a deadly character capable of handling any situation. Finally, should your morality favour avoiding combat, opting for a stealthier assassin like approach could be the appropriate course of action? It’s very possible to sneak around Skyrim and avoid mass confrontation, but doing so can raise suspicion and hamper the peace surrounding that particular town or city.

Indeed Skyrim does an excellent job reacting to everything going on in the realm. Deaths of important individuals and destruction of towns and cities all have serious consequences – tales are told and whispers travel of your endeavours and misdeeds. You mould your characters’ path with your own morality, acting as a hero or as a villain – both styles of gameplay are fun and can be rewarding in their own ways, stealing items leads to better equipment quicker while earning rewards off town-folk can bring about further presents and help later in your quests. However you decide to shape Skyrim, all of your actions will have consequences.

Skyrim prides itself with a huge variety of content. The story alone will suck you in for hours, but it’s the side quests that really flesh out this beautiful world. Seamlessly pointless or minuscule side quests can end up being epic journeys that could lead to huge rewards and bonuses. You can find yourself lost in Skyrim with the sheer volume of content to get stuck into as factions fight for your loyalty, wars require your blade and citizens need your help – the question you must ask is for whose benefit will you get involved? Skyrim’s current problems are almost as important as Tamriel’s history – scattered across the world are a variety of logs and books explaining Skyrim’s history and past events – fans of fictional reading will definitely get a kick out of finding these books and taking the time to read into and discover the rich history behind the world you inhabit.

Unfortunately not all is wonderful in the world of Skyrim – fans of the series will be prepared for a range of technical issues that come complimentary with any Bethesda RPG. While incredibly beautiful from a distance, environments don’t look as good up close. Character models are quite impressive but lip syncing issues come about every once in a while. Some characters may fall through ceilings and things can randomly appear out of nowhere – you don’t quite know why these things happen, but they don’t occur frequently enough to ruin an otherwise magical experience. Skyrim does excel with beautiful audio and arguably one of the best soundtracks of any modern game and for the most part all dialogue is engaging and worth listening to.

It’s hard to define a perfect game, but when one comes along with the ability to suck you in and not let go, you have to admit there’s an air of success surrounding the title. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does this, but in such spectacular fashion that it warrants being placed in the category of the perfect game. An expansive and engrossing world filled to the brim with interesting and entertaining characters helps make Skyrim a believable place, a place you care about, a place where your characters’ history will be forged in blood. Dive into this adventure if you dare, but be prepared to sacrifice hundreds of hours as Skyrim takes over your life as you begin to lose track of reality.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Bethesda has refined their role-play formula to make the combat more fluid and the level-up system easier to implement. There’s always something to do, be it quests, battles or exploration, Skyrim caters for every type of role-play gamer. With the inclusion of Dragons as boss like characters, the game now has clear flag point elements throughout your adventure, allowing you to mark your success in a clearer fashion.
8.0 | Presentation |
A beautiful world is hindered slightly by occasional technical hitches. With so much content you can understand the sheer difficulty to ensure everything runs smoothly but we can still hope that one day, Bethesda will unveil a perfect role-play experience with no issues whatsoever.
10 | Replay Value |
Running through the campaign is only a tiny portion of this adventure – Skyrim is a world full of wonder and mystery. Exploring every nook and cranny is a whole load of fun and discovering side quests is as if not more entertaining than the main story itself.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Bethesda takes The Elder Scrolls another step forward as Skyrim takes over the minds of many role-play gamers. Enchanting gameplay with depth in story, narrative and environment ensures that everything that happens feels meaningful – everything you do has a consequence and it’s up to you to survive and flourish or walk down the path to your own destruction. The world is in your hands as your characters’ history unfolds before your very eyes.

Igor Kharin

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, 24 November 2011

Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the US we'll give you 5% extra store credit when you sell any item for exchange on Black Friday. Come trade in your old stuff towards your holiday gifts or just treat yourself.

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, 22 November 2011

CoD: Modern Warfare 3

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii

Once again it’s that time of year when Call of Duty returns in its refined form and 50% of all relationships break down due to males becoming disillusioned with real life and opting into the world of Modern Warfare. Activisions’ third installment continues the trend of tweaking an already engrossing and engaging formula, making it smoother, faster and more balanced. Finally completing a campaign spanning over three games is immensely satisfying, playing the all new Special Ops cooperative game modes is hugely rewarding and battling it out online against fellow gamers in competitive multiplayer is probably the most addictive experience an FPS has ever brought to any platform. Make no mistake about it, this is everything you already know and love, but the little additions make for an even more frantic affair, one that getting away from is damn near impossible.

An interesting question to ask fans of the Call of Duty series is whether or not they pay attention to campaign mode. Some gamers literally don’t touch the single player story, while others believe that it’s a fantastic experience and a highly underrated mode in the game. Modern Warfare 3 concludes the battle against the tyrant Makarov, but does so in an exceptionally thrilling fashion. Visiting iconic Western locations such as Paris, New York and London bring a new angle of combat to the story where gamers can familiarize themselves with each specific location. As always the campaign’s pacing is relatively impressive, with vehicle and support sections complimenting the ground warfare nicely, but the emotional weaving of the story just doesn’t quite match up to the thrill we all expect from Call of Duty. This is to be expected of course being the end of a trilogy, but the series never dug deep enough into the characters and plot to warrant any serious emotional attachment so you’re left pretty much guessing what’s going to happen in the few dramatic moments and most of the time, you’ll be absolutely right. Modern Warfare 3 tries to plug away at your heartstrings but ultimately, it’s the guns and explosions we want, not the drama.

Once you’re through the campaign you can move onto the competitive multiplayer, or you could spare a moment for that little box on the left of the title screen titled Special Ops. Returning from Modern Warfare 2, Spec Ops pits you into campaign orientated missions either solo or with a friend, and forces you to battle it out to an objective, target or goal. These missions are varied, engaging and thoroughly challenging, providing a huge stream of replay value for you and your friends, be it either hunting for leaderboard glory or just completing each mission on the hardest difficulty setting. You’ll once again traverse a variety of locations from submarines to the city streets, wherever you find yourself, it’s a whole load of fun to get stuck in and see how your score fairs against the rest of the world.

You’d think by now I’d have covered everything and we would talk about the online multiplayer, well how wrong you are! Spec Ops has another game mode that fans of Zombies will absolutely adore – Survival mode. Endless waves of enemy soldiers swamp your location as you and your friends dig deep to survive. Resembling Zombie mode, Spec Ops Survival is a welcome break from the undead as enemies are smarter, engage you with weapons and will try to overrun your location. As you progressively climb higher up the wave numbers you begin unlocking weapon, explosive and perk crates. You use the money you earn in between rounds to purchase new weapons, new explosives, perks like Sleight of Hand and even your support artillery like Predator Missiles and Air Strikes. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, from your typical soldier, to dogs, to helicopters – this versatility forces you to constantly change your load out in between rounds to make sure you are adequately equipped to survive the next wave. A fantastic addition to Spec Ops is whichever of the modes you play you will level up. The higher level you are, the better stuff you can unlock in the crates during survival mode. For example, going in at level 1 you have access to only basic weaponry, but progressing between level 10 – 20 will give you access to sentry turrets for defending yourself. This added incentive will force you to play over and over because each time you play, you’ll be better equipped than before. With plenty of maps and perks for getting stuck in, I have a feeling that this could really be more popular than Call of Duty Zombies.

Finally, the time has come – competitive online multiplayer. It’s great, seriously. Anyone who has played Call of Duty online will instantly recognize this brilliant system that provides action, excitement and addiction. The game has been refined with a few tweaks to make for a more balanced experience. First of all, killstreaks have been changed slightly – players now have the option of using your standard assault killstreak, which is three different bonuses that are unlocked after you amass a certain amount of kills, but the number resets should you die. These are your more powerful weapons like the Osprey Gunner, Pave Low Chopper and Air Strike. However, players can also choose the support killstreak package, which offers players support based bonuses like UAV, Counter UAV and Advanced UAV (Blackbird) – while these don’t do damage, the kill count does not reset should you die, so if you’re set up is 3 – 5 – 7, no matter how many times you die, as long as you get the kills you will unlock the bonuses. The final option is added perks when you gain a certain amount of kills. So if a player has already set 3 perks, he can choose 3 other perks that will activate mid battle should you gather 2 – 4 – 6 kills – these however, also reset just like your normal assault killstreaks. Each set up has its own advantage, if you think you’re good enough then you can try and earn the more powerful bonuses, other players will want to play a more team orientated game and thus support would fulfill that need nicely, while other players might consider having 6 perks activated is the most beneficial way to traverse the battlefield – whichever route you take, all are playable and enjoyable in their own way.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit more about the multiplayer. Maps are generally smaller and you’ll find a lot more players play head on because there’s simply not enough room to camp, which is excellent. Perks have been refined and changed, some as usual are a lot more useful than others, but clearly Scavenger is considered the most advantageous, with it being unlocked at level 50! The weapons are all balanced, with the SCAR currently the most popular weapon of choice, as it hasn’t lost its punch from the last game. All the different game modes are present with the addition of Kill Confirmed, which requires you to kill an enemy then raid their body of the dog tag for bonus points – it’s an enjoyable game mode and one to check out should Team Deathmatch or your choice of game type gets boring after a while. As usual, there is so much stuff to unlock it’s unreal, weapon add-ons, camouflage, challenges, perks, killstreaks, emblems, titles, the psychology of hording stuff can certainly be attributed to Call of Duty. Whatever your feelings are towards Modern Warfare 3, it’s undeniable that Activision have created the perfect formula for hooking gamers into their world – before I even knew it I was level 45 and I had the game for 3 days, it really is mad but you can’t help playing, it really is that incredible.

From a technical perspective Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t really stand out all that much and is probably where Battlefield 3 will be the victor. The graphical engine has been improved slightly but it’s still the same game effectively and I find quite a lot of the maps online are very dark and it’s difficult to see anything. The audio on the other hand, is spot on as always, there’s nothing like hiding from an AC130 reigning down holy thunder on the map as everyone cowers in fear. As always the controls are precise and from my experience, the matchmaking on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is pretty spot on.

There you have it, another installment in the series and another small step forward. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t need to change its formula, it doesn’t need to do something new, it just needs to keep bringing back the same winning system and ensuring it’s better than before.

9.0 | Gameplay |

Once you get that first kill be in whichever game mode, you won’t be able to stop. This is FPS doing what it does best, bringing the action in abundance.

8.0 | Presentation |

Not the best looking game but certain environments looks great and the audio is superb.

10 | Replay Value |

There is no other modern console title that holds greater replay value than Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. It is impossible to stop and when you Prestige, you just want to unlock everything all over again.

9 | Final Thoughts |

I’m not a huge believer in Call of Duty campaigns, but can fully agree with the multiplayer being phenomenal. However, the addition of Special Ops Survival to an already engaging game mode from Modern Warfare 2 really rounded off this package for me. This is more than just online multiplayer, there’s something here for everyone wanting to play with friends on the sofa, online or by themselves – whatever you want, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 can provide.

Igor Kharin

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, 18 November 2011

New UK CeX Shops

While we've been busy opening new CeX shops in Spain, India, Ireland and the US we've not forgotten the UK. CeX began in London where we opened our first shop nearly 20 years ago. We've recently opened CeX shops in Canterbury, Hartlepool, Kilburn, Loughborough, Reading, West Bromwich, Wimbledon and Worthing.

We've also got a CeX on the way for the lucky people of Scarborough and something very special for Scotland too! Let us know where you want the next CeX shops on our Facebook page.

To celebrate here's Dancing Monkey Boy Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, in this vintage clip.

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, 17 November 2011

Donate & we'll add 10%

In the UK you can choose to donate to charities when you are selling your old games, phones, DVDs and gadgets to CeX. This is available both in store and online.

Why not donate some or all of the value of your items to Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, Help for Heroes or the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal?

When selling any item to CeX just choose the amount and the charity you wish to donate to. We will make your donation in full to your chosen charity. Better still if you donate 100% of the value of your stuff in one transaction we'll add 10% to the value given to the charity of your choice. In the past year we've raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes.

Recycling your old items to CeX will help the environment, as well as these immensely deserving appeals. Start selling to CeX and help save lives here.
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, 14 November 2011

Batman Arkham City

Game review - Xbox 360, PS3, PC & Wii

When the conversation of best comic book to video game transition takes place, it’s hard not to point the finger at Batman as the best one to date. For generations now we have been beating up bad guys as the Caped Crusader – but no adventure has been as impressive as Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Asylum. 2009 saw a reinvigorated Batman hit the video game industry by storm with a wealth of beautifully executed gameplay mechanics, strongly linked by a fantastic story and narrative.

Batman Arkham City expands upon the already award winning formula as the Dark Knight is let loose in North Gotham, a secure and sealed off super-prison for the franchises’ most well known criminals. Here your detective skills are put to the ultimate test with the likes of Joker, Penguin and Mr. Freeze all plotting to stop you from crushing their plans. Get ready for an action packed ride that will cater to all your adrenaline pumping needs.

Those of you who played the original Arkham Asylum will feel very much at home with Arkham City’s structure. Batman’s movement, the combat and enemies haven’t changed dramatically, but there was little need to tweak an already fantastic formula. A simple control scheme with one button used to attack, another to counter and the third to stun, help to choreograph satisfying combat. Batman stylishly takes down groups of enemies and as you become more accustomed to the timing and rhythm of battle you will find your combos become more deadly and devastating.

Arkham City puts a lot more emphasis on Batman’s gadgets in the melee combat this time around. Quick fire mechanics for all your weapons can now be used to change the flow of battle in your favour. Be that an electric charge from your stun gun or grasping an enemy’s weapon out of their hand with the Bat Claw – experimenting is part of the fun in Arkham City and all of Batman’s tools can be used to extend combos and perform a fantastic array of moves.

Taking time to explore North Gotham and find gangs of thugs will reward you with an abundance of experience points that can be used to upgrade Batman’s suit, skills and weapons. As you progress these enhancements play a large role in keeping combat fresh and exciting. Being able to unleash a swarm of bats to stun a group of enemies or generate a sonic blast by diving from a rooftop into the heart of battle can greatly increase your chance of success, especially on the harder difficulty settings where the game is definitely more challenging. You will find that Batman is especially frail against gun-wielding foes so increasing his bullet resistance might be a priority for some players, while more confident gamers could opt to increase critical strike ratios to ensure maximum damage is done as quickly as possible.

Of course not all your enemies are so easy to take down. Gun wielding thugs make a return to frustrate Batman and ensure Detective Mode is used once again for a tactical advantage. Planning is key as you move swiftly and silently, taking down unsuspecting guards. Arkham Asylum did a fantastic job with the sneaking segments of the game and they are certainly welcomed back here with open arms.

While there are many things here resembling Arkham Asylum, upon entering Arkham City you will immediately notice the major difference between the two games – environment. No longer are you captivated inside the walls of the asylum, instead you are given freedom (albeit slightly restricted) to explore the whole of North Gotham. This proves to be Arkham City’s biggest and most impressive attraction as the now super-prison brims with atmosphere, both sinister and seductive. Traversing the rooftops as Batman feels fantastic and exploring the world, completing side quests and progressing through the engrossing story is a huge thrill as you stumble upon iconic characters from the Batman universe and watch as they come to life through Rocksteady’s interpretation. The thrill of accidentally meeting Bane and opening a side quest with the giant or coming across a masked vigilante in North Gotham are just some of the terrific moments that get your adrenaline pumping and your desire to push further into the heart of Batman’s campaign.

Another terrific aspect of Arkham City is the ability to enjoy the expansive world without necessarily needing to get involved in physical combat. The Riddler makes a dramatic return to the series, offering perhaps his most sinister set of traps to date. Scattered across the world are hundreds of Riddler Trophies, some of which you can just walk up to and pick up, while others are cleverly sealed off in cages that require the use of your brain to unlock. To make matters even worse, The Riddler has also taken the time to trap hostages throughout North Gotham and it’s up to Batman to figure out riddles and secure the safety of the civilians left stranded by the mad genius.

Arkham City also introduces a nifty in-game tutorial mode that forces you to glide throughout rings in order to unlock new upgrades and perks. These AR training routines allow you to enjoy challenging courses and become a master of Batman’s aerial movements. These can be found scattered across the map and progressively get harder and harder, sometimes forcing multiple repeats to try and come out victorious.

You can also enjoy North Gotham as Batman’s feline counterpart Catwoman. If you purchased the game new you receive a download code for Selina Kyle but those of you grabbing a second-hand copy will need to purchase her content off the online store. This add-on pack allows the use of Catwoman and integrates her role into the main story, including literally the opening segment of the game. While her role is relatively minimal, Catwoman has enough skills and abilities to make her feel unique as a character, while completing the game will allow you to choose between the two playable characters to hunt for their own specific Riddler trophies and challenge modes.

A very important aspect for any game that’s so campaign driven, is the inclusion of a New Game + Mode. Once you have gone through the game, this content unlocks and allows you to re-immerse yourself in North Gotham with your prior equipment, tackling a more challenging version of the game. Challenge rooms also make a welcome return, offering a variety of interesting and diverse scenarios for you to test your wits against.

From a technical perspective Batman Arkham City is a sheer joy to behold. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and Joker in superb fashion alongside a terrific cast of voice actors. Both dialogue and the narrative itself are spot on, moving you elegantly through a dramatic tale. The graphics are a wonder to behold as well; the comic book feel of Batman is captured perfectly throughout the dark and ominous streets of North Gotham. The sense of desperation can be felt in the air as the winter freeze hits the streets relentlessly and gangs of prisoners fight for survival and shelter. The game itself is so smooth and the controls make you feel completely in control of our most iconic superhero.

Ultimately Rocksteady have built upon Arkham Asylum in the appropriate way possible. Fans were screaming for an expansive environment and that was brought in full effect. Batman Arkham City is a terrific experience that truly stands as one of the best adventure games you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Stylish combat alongside thrilling exploration make Arkham City a thoroughly enjoyable game from all aspects.

9.0 | Presentation |
A beautiful and expansive world filled with vibrant and iconic characters. The story is dramatic and tribute is paid to Batman’s rich history.

9.0 | Replay Value |
A host of unlockables to find, plenty of challenge modes, New Game + and The Riddler will surely keep you busy after you get through your initial game.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Batman Arkham City is a joy from start to end. It is let down by staged boss fights that are simply too easy, but the core game itself is incredible. If you want to know what it feels like to be a superhero, this is pretty much as close as any of us will get.

Igor Kharin.
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, 8 November 2011

Battlefield 3

Game review – PS3, Xbox 360 & PC.

When it comes to popularity contests, you can’t really argue that the first-person shooter genre takes the biggest slice of the gaming cake. With such an overabundance of shooting games out there, it really takes something special to stand out from the rest. Battlefield 3 valiantly tries to pole-vault to the top of the list and the phenomenal multiplayer does warrant a position at the top. However, the single player content fails to get near the summit of perfection, forcing gamers to once again overlook campaign features and engross themselves primarily with the online content.

The campaign while not staggeringly impressive is certainly playable. Battlefield 3 doesn’t stray from the norm of your typical modern war conflict – setting the scene with beautiful environments and forcing you into dramatic set-piece battles. With the focus being entirely on realism, there is certainly an edge of excitement as you slowly engage with your team and begin to feel as part of a closely-knit unit. However, the campaign is quite predictable and you won’t see anything here that you haven’t seen before. You will also feel relatively restricted as set piece battles force you to engage enemies in limited warzones as opposed to having the opportunity to explore and find vantage points, although this is largely due to the realism element of not being able to move far while under fire. Nevertheless, there is action to be involved in and a few shock-and-awe moments that will have any gamer sit up from their chair. However, if you were expecting something fresh out of the box, you will be disappointed.

Now that we have got that out the way, let’s move onto what makes Battlefield 3 a terrific experience, the multiplayer. Arguing whether a game can be perceived as brilliant when not being a full-package can be saved for another time, but there’s no doubt that the online experience here is awesome. A variety of beautiful maps that take you from destroyed urban environments to plains of greenery, wherever you find yourself, be sure that the sound of war will follow.

The first step before entering battle of up to 24 players is choosing your class and weapon loudout. Things have been tweaked since Battlefield: Bad Company 2 but core ideas still remain with the assault, engineer, recon and support classes still your choices. Each class has their own specific skills and abilities, be it using a recon’s long-range target systems or the engineer’s ability to manipulate vehicles, however you choose to play it’s a sure blast to give each class a go and unlock their unique weapons and abilities.

Speaking of vehicles, this is definitely something Battlefield has always boasted about. With map size generally on the larger end of the scale, vehicles are an excellent way to traverse environments while also causing serious damage to the enemy. These can range from simple Humvee trucks all the way to fighter jets and tanks. Vehicles can cause serious mayhem on the battlefield and are one of the most enjoyable aspects of this multiplayer experience.

So by this point it seems Battlefield 3 has all the boxes ticked for an engaging and thrilling multiplayer ride. If only it offered an incentive to keep you in the heart of battle? Well of course you gain tones of experience points or continuously burning lead into your opponents – commitment to the cause unlocks new abilities and weapons for your active class and switching between the lot can provide for some dramatic variation in combat. Leveling up can get very addictive, very quickly in Battlefield 3, I’m sure all the FPS gamers reading this are fully aware of the addictive nature these games entail. A well-peppered assortment of unlockables distributed evenly amongst the classes makes this a very tough game to put down.

So we have established that the campaign isn’t the star attraction, while the multiplayer sits on a shiny golden pedestal – but did you know there is a middle ground in Battlefield 3? You can also get involved in six cooperative missions with friends. These additional challenge maps have a slight link to the campaign mode but are generally tougher and more grueling than anything you’ll find in the single player. Playing through these coop missions is actually a lot of fun and there are plenty of rewards for doing so. Unfortunately the lack of them is frustrating, but we can hope that future DLC could add extra missions.

From a technical perspective, Battlefield 3 is quite hit and miss. On the PC the game looks outstanding, but console versions lack that sparkle and actually require a texture pack that needs to be downloaded to get the most out of the visuals. The Frostbite engine used to build Battlefield 3 isn’t as perfect as we were lead to believe, with bodies still sticking into walls and a few other fiddly issues here and there. The sound however, is incredible – the sound of war has never been so realistic with bullets barraging your position and suppressing fire nullifying your senses, it doesn’t get much better than this. The game handles reasonably well, but vehicle segments can be a nuisance and it is quite frustrating that you don’t have any opportunity to practice using the majority of the vehicles anywhere other than in combat online.

I think Battlefield 3 received such a huge build up because gamers truly believed that an excellent multiplayer experience would finally be coupled with a terrific campaign mode, something that the FPS genre desperately needed. Unfortunately, this was not the case as while the multiplayer does stand out as the highlight of the package, the campaign fails to live up to expectation. This is a real shame but doesn’t take away from Battlefield 3 as a truly marvelous and engaging first-person shooter. Does it have enough momentum to tower over Modern Warfare 3? Only time will tell.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Battlefield 3 simulates the war experience like no other and with terrific online multiplayer, it’s hard the experience. Unfortunately the campaign is all too predictable and rarely steps out the generic FPS comfort zone.

9.0 | Presentation |
Beautifully presented, especially on the PC. There are some slight issues on the console version and a texture pack is required before you can play the game in its highest visual settings, which is pretty strange!

9.5 | Replay Value |
This is of course where Battlefield 3 shines – an engaging and hugely satisfying multiplayer experience will make you want to come over and over. Plenty of cool unlockables, great variety in the classes and awesome vehicles make this one seriously cool game.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
I feel it’s important to always be wary when a game receives such huge build up before release. Battlefield 3 was hailed as the game that will re-invent FPS as we know it today. This is certainly not the case. However, it is remarkable multiplayer experience and a very engaging war simulator. Perhaps not the most rounded of packages, but still thoroughly entertaining and a great game in it’s own right.

Igor Kharin, 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, 2 November 2011

GTA V trailer released

It's rare that a game trailer is waited on with anticipation. GTA V is one of those games and it looks like we're going back to Vinewood on the West Coast of the USA.

Let us know what you think of it on the CeX Facebook page.

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, 1 November 2011

CeX in London Evening Standard

In the Money section of the Standard an article entitled "How to save it" advises readers to "Track down a few phones and it all adds up." They state CeX is "more generous and can be faster at processing payments" than others who offer to buy your old mobile phones citing a recent report by UK Consumers Association Which? and ITV where CeX came out top again. Read the full Evening Standard story here.

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