Monday 30 July 2012

Lego Batman 2

“Lego-Gotham welcomes fans of the series to an open-world adventure filled with charismatic characters and enjoyable dialogue. Unfortunately, the same problems persist and little has changed to expand the Lego franchise.”

There’s no doubt that in recent years the emergence of Rocksteady’s Arkham games and Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the caped crusader on the big screen, have certainly ignited a new found love for Batman. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes captures the dark knight’s wonderful charm and uses the Lego universe to give it a friendlier vibe. An enjoyable story intertwines with fantastic narrative and run-of-the-mill gameplay that while having some shortcomings still makes this instalment in the Lego universe, a thoroughly entertaining one.

The story revolves around Joker and Lex Luthor joining forces in an attempt to create political turmoil in Gotham. While the story itself isn’t particularly breathtaking, it’s the manner in which the story unravels that makes Lego Batman 2 so amusing to engage with. Wonderful dialogue filled to the brim with clever DC jokes that will surely make even the most hardcore of fans grimace with excitement. In particular Batman’s relationship with Superman is a joy to behold as the childish side of Bruce Wayne fails to bottle up the jealousy he has towards the man of steel. Robin’s admiration for Superman also plays into this dynamic, making for some amazing on-screen moments when the three characters are together.

When the game begins you will notice that unlike previous Lego games, Lego Batman 2 gives you an open world to explore at your own desire. This new change of direction is certainly welcome, if it was executed a little better. The prospect of exploring Gotham, helping needy civilians and collecting valuable goodies is very exciting, but a lack of a mini-map, poor vehicle control and awkward map design makes Lego’s first attempt at mimicking Gotham a let down unfortunately.

When you begin playing Lego Batman 2’s levels you will be glad to see that a tightly knit linear design is implemented to bring the game back from the initial open-ended Gotham. A plethora of recognisable locations are on show as Batman and any of his available DC sidekicks begin taking down thugs and arresting iconic bad guys from the comic books. Lego Batman 2 continues the series tradition for puzzle solving and the pacing here is actually very impressive. Puzzles are scattered at just the right places, often are never too difficult to get stuck on and require the use of a variety of different gadgets and abilities, making them a lot of fun to engage with. It’s just a shame that the actual combat is nowhere near as fun as the puzzle solving in Lego Batman 2. This is obviously no surprise to fans of the Lego games because let’s face it; combat has never been this franchises forte. Nevertheless, any expansion over the simple melee attack and context-based counter-attacks would have been a welcome treat because it felt boring and monotonous.

Other issues continue to frustrate Lego Batman 2 as well. The poor combat is supplemented with an awkward camera angle and lacklustre AI. The series has always been known for poor AI but considering we are now numerous games in, I refuse to believe that I’m seeing the same issues and mistakes over and over again. Superman may just stand idol while getting beaten up or even get in the way of a key location, impeding your progress. AI stupidity is scattered across the whole game and with only offline split-screen available for help, you will find yourself frustrated at the lack of continuity and consistency here.

It’s frustrating that all of these issues are visible pretty much straight away and just so happen to be some of the very first few things you notice. Lego Batman 2 is actually thoroughly enjoyable, if you can accept these shortcomings that pretty much all Lego games come with. You will find exciting end-game content, including the ability to play as villains all while discovering all the secret nooks and crannies Gotham has to offer.

If you’re invested in Lego games by this point and enjoy them, there’s absolutely no reason you won’t love Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes because it is arguably the best Lego game so far. If you’ve liked the idea but never got on with the gameplay, then things haven’t changed enough here for your opinion to differ. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes has its flaws but it also shows off some wonderful moments that make it very difficult not to smile and have a good time.

7.5 | Gameplay |
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes implements a very enjoyable assortment of puzzles that are scattered perfectly across the story mode. These provide challenge, entertainment and help spread out the game. On the flip side, basic Lego-based combat still remains that is coupled with really bad AI, making the action nothing more than a drag. If you can get a buddy to play offline split screen with you, the endeavour is a lot more enjoyable.

8.0 | Presentation |
This is absolutely Lego Batman 2’s strong point. A wonderfully woven story incorporates beautiful narrative, dialogue and character relationships to really invest you as a gamer into the world of DC comics. Alongside this and I failed to mention in my review, Gotham itself and all the locations are beautiful. A dark an ominous vibe contrasts with the hilarious nature of the Lego characters, making Gotham’s eminent danger rather comical, which is highly enjoyable.

7.5 | Replay Value |
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes ensures there’s plenty to get stuck into right off the bat. Gotham is an open world with plenty of hidden goodies to get your hands on. Not only does this include collectables but secret characters, optional bosses and other cool stuff. There’s every reason to go back and explore Gotham.

7.5 | Final Thoughts |
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a game that has one foot through the door yet the other seems stuck in a room of the past. The same issues persist from other Lego games including the horrific AI and at this point, it’s simply unforgivable that they just can’t fix these issues. However, opting for an open world scale to Gotham does show that this Lego universe is taking steps in the right direction. Overall Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a lot of fun and it’s simply unfortunate that all of its issues are surface level and clearly apparent. Nevertheless, plenty of entertaining content intertwined with an awesome story makes it relatively simple to make your peace with these faults and enjoy the game for what it is, a light-hearted dash into the DC universe.

Igor Kharin.

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Wednesday 25 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Comic books and super heroes.

Though typically an obsession for the chronically nerdy, ever since the release of the first wave of modern super hero films (X-Men, Spider-Man, etc.) more and more members of the mainstream audience have been queuing up, sometimes in costume, to see their favourite heroes kick evildoer ass. This year, we of the nerdier persuasion, have been spoilt with the choice of comic book based films on show: The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel Comics) and, the recently released, The Dark Knight Rises (DC Comics). With Marvel characters seemingly dominating the super-hero film franchise, Christopher Nolan's now completed Batman trilogy is the only DC offering really worth noting until the new Superman film, Man of Steel, hits cinemas in 2013.

Set quite a few years after TDK (The Dark Knight), TDKR (The Dark Knight Rises) deals with the fallout from Harvey Dent's (Two-Face) death, Batman's portrayal as a murderous vigilante and Bruce Wayne's loss of Rachel Dawes. Gotham, now largely free from organised crime due to strict anti-criminal legislation, has become largely complacent and sceptical towards the dangers of the past such as The Joker or The League of Shadows. Enter Bane, portrayed by Tom Hardy, who not only shakes up things in Gotham but also gives Batman a real run for his money serving as both a physically superior and shrewd adversary.

As with the previous installments of Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy the setting and overall tone is dark and gritty though moments of humour shine through to offer the occasional laugh. Action scenes are composed well, Hans Zimmer delivers a superb soundtrack and the acting is solid throughout the cast with Michael Caine once again delivers a fantastic and convincing performance as Alfred Pennyworth and Anne Hathaway smashing doubts about her role as Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

However, despite a solid beginning and end, it's not all praise for TDKR.
There is a point midway where it feels like TDKR drags its heels and loses its momentum in an attempt to portray the passage of time and the emotional/mental journey of one of the main characters, nothing else really changes during this time almost as if the rest of the story gets put on hold. Certain iconic scenes from the comic-books are thankfully kept in the film but Nolan does not seem to dedicate the screen time to them that fans of the comic book may want and, though I'm not opposed to this for the sake of a good film adaptation, reshapes some of the characters or their background stories.

Over all this leaves TDKR a solid experience that I certainly enjoyed and would recommend despite the lull midway through and the inconsistencies between the source material and the script, which I suspect would only put off the most hardcore of Batman fans.

Il Sung Sato, London.

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Monday 23 July 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung have enjoyed enormous successes over the last few years in their mobile division. The S2 was, hands down, one of the best handsets to have graced the android platform. So you can imagine the excitement that surrounded the next generation of the Galaxy flagship, the S3. Does it live up to the expectations? Can it compete against the HTC One X? Incidentally, you may notice a lot of comparing to the One X, this is simply because both phones have been released relatively close together and are similar specs wise. Read on people.

The Design of the S3 it has to be said, is not the strongest. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a bad design. The phone feels fine to hold in the hand, it feels sturdy, light and well built. But there is an overall feeling when looking a little closer that the design is not up there in quality with the 4s, Lumia 900 and the One X, which are it’s main competitors, it just doesn’t have that wow factor for me. Some of my quibbles won’t bother a lot of people, but there are things about the design that grate on me.

The biggest of these is the metal band that encircles the phone, look closer reader. That’s not metal; it’s plastic that’s been made to look like brushed Aluminium. Now this is a phone that retails new and sim free at around the £450 mark, for that kind of price, I would expect it to be gilded with gold leaf and made of truffles. On a serious note though, it grates mostly because it feels like a lie.
The inclusion of a home button is a nice touch; it has a nice springy feel to it and is definitely a welcome inclusion. In comparison to the direct competitor the One X, the S3 doesn’t appear to run into any of the screen flex issues that the One X sometimes has. The power button is mounted on the side of the phone allowing the phone to be unlocked easily with one hand, something that some taller phones with top mounted power buttons struggle with.

This is where the S3 really shines. It boasts a Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 with an Exynos 4412 Quad chipset, coupled with 1GB of ram. It is the most powerful phone on the market right now. Games run incredibly smooth, and applications are quick to open. Camera software and processes run especially quick. I’ve so far not noticed any over heating issues when pushing the phone that I did get, albeit rarely, with the One X.

A lot has been written about Samsung’s choice to build the S3 with a Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. I can alleviate some of the concerns. The screen looks great, gone are some of the annoying unnatural colour tints that blighted earlier iterations. Colours now appear much more natural and Samsung have done a great job in it’s improvements. For most people the display will be more than satisfactory. Is it better than the One X’s display? To my eyes the answer is a no, viewing angles on the One X’s display are a lot better and colours do appear a little bit more natural. But all in all, the S3’s display will not disappoint anyone.

The camera is an 8MP with LED flash and autofocus. The quality and speed of the camera is commendable. Samsung really has pushed the boat out with its improvements to its camera hardware. Camera software is not quite up there in terms of its quality with HTC’s ImageSense, but that’s the only quibble in an otherwise excellent camera package.

Battery life on the S3 has been pretty great. I easily make it though the day with no issues. It currently beats the One X for battery performance hands down.

I’m still of the opinion that the closer to stock android a phone gets the better. The S3’s version of android is TouchWiz, and it works perfectly well, my favourite part being the quick touch tabs in the notifications tray.

What I really want to talk about is some additional features that have been added by Samsung to the OS; Samsung has heavily publicized most of these so it’s something I believe is important to talk about.  The two I want to talk about are below and I’ve chosen them because of the varying degrees of usefulness that I believe they have

Lets start with S-Voice, Samsung’s Siri alternative. I can’t help but wonder how many people will actually use S-Voice. I have similar misgivings about Siri on apples platform. I found that S-Voice was not as intuitive as I had hoped, sometimes it cut me off mid sentence, sometimes when I was prompted to wake the Galaxy by saying “Hi Galaxy” it just plain didn’t work. Were I to use it for basic functions such as text messaging I would actually find it more of a hindrance than help. I tested it my sending a text message, I could honestly have sent 3 text messages in the time it took for S-Voice to send the one text. So I still firmly believe this voice software to be a gimmick, and for the record I’m also looking at you Apple with your Siri…you started this.

Next is Smart Stay. Smart Stay is a system that uses the front facing camera to know whether you are looking at the device and delay its sleep function. I actually found smart stay to be really useful; I find it annoying having to wake my devices whilst I’m still using them. So for me this is a really nice inclusion and I’m hoping to see it in more devices.

So, can I recommend the Samsung Galaxy S3 to you? Yes I can, the phone has some nice improvements to it’s Touch Wiz software. The screen is superb as is the camera and general performance. Am I excited when using the S3? No, for me the design issues highlighted earlier get in the way of my being excited. The One X has improvements to it’s software and hardware over previous iterations but is also a step forward in it’s design. The S3 has improvements to it’s software and hardware but from a design point feels like a step backwards, like they’re being too safe.


Reviewed by your friendly neighborhood otaku

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Monday 16 July 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw

“Lollipop Chainsaw tackles the controversial issues of sex and gender the only way Suda51 knows how, with a rainbow coloured chainsaw. A fun and engaging story drives this otherwise generic hack ‘n’ slash experience.”

Suda51, a name that brings tears of joy to the gaming community. Goichi Suda has been responsible for a series of iconic games including Killer7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and now Lollipop Chainsaw. With an iconic over-the-top and flamboyant style, gamers all around the world are at the very least, intrigued to see what games produced by this man have to offer. Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack ’n’ slash game that questions social and gendered stereotypes, all amidst a zombie outbreak. Fun can be had here, but Suda51’s usual magnificent touch is somewhat lacking with stale combat mechanics and occasional cringe-worthy dialogue and narrative. Nevertheless, a wonderful artistic design and a lovable lead heroine makes this a game worth checking out.

Lollipop Chainsaw begins by tantalizingly introducing you to a just turned 18-year-old Juliet - a quirky, louder than life, somewhat stereotypical blonde bombshell. What you won’t be expecting however is Juliet’s ancestry revolves around monster slaying, pretty cool huh? Just like her absolutely awesome father, Juliet takes it upon herself to rid her home of a zombie infestation that unfortunately consumes her boyfriend Nick too, which gives Juliet all the reason to cut his head off and clip it to her hip and bring him back to life with magic.

The brunt of Lollipop Chainsaw’s controversy comes of course from the over-abundance of sexual imagery and references. Deciding whether Suda51’s script is clever or downright crude is really a personal opinion here, as I’ve heard nothing but mixed opinions on the matter. Playing through Lollipop Chainsaw I felt the blatant jibes at Juliet’s physical appearance, sex and sexuality leaned more toward the amusing then stupid, especially in the latter half of the game. If you consider that Juliet stands tall as a strong heroine amidst such carnage and that the game never really pushes the idea of girls aspiring to be like Juliet, then overall the controversial context is handled relatively well here.

Politics aside, let’s talk a little bit about the game mechanics backing this hack ‘n’ slash experience. A wonderful design lights up your screen as hearts appear, stars explode and rainbows glisten during each and every decapitation. Juliet’s two main weapons include a set of pom-poms and a rainbow themed chainsaw, which she knows how to use with deadly precision. Simple controls allow you to stun enemies and then finish them off in gruesome ways using that awesome chainsaw of hers. There’s nothing particularly challenging on the normal difficulty setting but when ramped up gangs of zombies can prove a nuisance especially while you try and save innocent bystanders. Combos and new unlockable moves help keep things feeling relatively fresh throughout Lollipop Chainsaw and fantastic pacing in what the game has you doing ensures that you won’t be mindlessly hacking through zombies for prolonged periods of time.

While Lollipop Chainsaw has some great moments in the campaign and an assortment of entertaining bosses, the overall length is disappointing. Clocking in at under 6 hours and with no real reason to replay the story other than for high scores on the leaderboard, you’ll find yourself somewhat disappointing of a lack of end-game content (much like in Suda51’s Shadows of the Damned). If you want to unlock all the other combos and stuff you missed then there is something here for you, but I was hoping for a little bit more content.

Lollipop Chainsaw also disappoints occasionally on a technical level. Flimsy and inconsistent camera issues make some battles a scramble and the collision system isn’t as precise as one would hope for an action game. This hinders what I would have labeled as a decent and enjoyable hack ‘n’ slash experience. The story is entertaining and the characters are fun to engage with, it’s just a shame that the gameplay doesn’t really hold up to the same quality. So if you’re looking for something a little different and quirky then it’s worth checking out Lollipop Chainsaw. Even though this isn’t Suda51’s best work by a long shot, it still has his trademark charm and wit that makes it a fun game.

6.5 | Gameplay |
Lollipop Chainsaw isn’t the deepest video game experience by any stretch but it does a commendable job in ensuring there’s more to it than merely button bashing. An assortment of enemies, cool combos and changes in the games’ pacing keeps you on your toes and avoids repetition and monotony. As a result you’ll get an enjoyable, albeit slightly bland hack ‘n’ slash experience that’s all too easy on the normal difficulty setting, so ramp it up!

9.0 | Presentation |
Lollipop Chainsaw certainly impresses in this department. A fantastic visual style intertwined with classic pop music like ‘You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)’ all help bring you into this crazy universe where Juliet hacks her way through groups of zombies. The gender and sexual themes are presented through humour but actually send out a positive message, even though the game can be a little crude sometimes.

6.0 | Replay Value |
You can go back and play on harder difficulty settings, fight for high scores and unlock all the combos and special stuff you missed. So there is stuff to do but don’t think you’ll get any actual extra content in the five hour campaign on your second play-through.

7.0 | Final Thoughts |
Lollipop Chainsaw deserves credit for an entertaining story, amusing dialogue and quirky charm. Juliet’s brash character is portrayed as a strong heroin and the ideas of gender inequality are handled very well in this pun on the conventional improperly dressed female video game character. I was very impressed with how these issues were handled and played with by Suda51. The same level of praise can’t be given to Lollipop Chainsaw’s gameplay mechanics, which are fun but lack any real depth and are hindered by technical issues with the camera and collision detection. If you can look past those issues, then Lollipop Chainsaw will serve up an enjoyable time.

Igor Kharin.

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Tuesday 10 July 2012


“Like all good apprentices Finn takes his wand and unleashes a flurry of wonderfully woven spells to dazzle you. When the action begins however, Sorcery is a convoluted mess that strays far from what initially made it seem like a potential winner.”

Expectations were certainly nothing less than very high for The Workshop’s PlayStation exclusive Sorcery. First shown off at E3 2010 before the PlayStation Move was even available, Sorcery promised an enticing experience unlike any other for PlayStation 3 owners. After disappearing off the radar, this third-person adventure has finally re-emerged, but was it worth the wait? Sorcery is a testament to what the PlayStation Move can achieve and finally offers owners of the peripheral something remotely engaging to enjoy. Saying that, Sorcery also boasts numerous issues and inconsistencies that prevent it from being the game you have all been waiting for to propel PlayStation Move into a necessity for your home console.

Sorcery puts you in the shoes of trainee wizard Finn as he bites off a little bit more than he can chew and ends up on a quest to defend the realm against the forces of evil and find out the truth behind his mentor’s fate. Throughout the campaign you will grow to like Finn and his feline companion Erline, with dialogue and narrative being especially engaging. The story is written in a stereotypically light-hearted fashion with the outcome leaving a smile on your face.

Unfortunately that smile of yours has the potential to fade on occasion when you get involved with Sorcery’s actual gameplay. The use of PlayStation Move isn’t the problem here because casting spells and implementing specific movement inputs is actually a whole load of fun. A simple flick of the wrist in any direction creates a spell that alongside the auto-targeting system means you will have no issues casting and eliminating your foes. The real burden here is poor pacing and too many enemies. Sorcery throws countless bland and boring monsters your way that simply make what could have been a delightful and tactical experience nothing more than a PlayStation Move frenzy where you simply hurl as many spells as quickly as possible to avoid being overrun. This is especially prevalent in boss battles, which one would assume would be fantastic in Sorcery, but it’s just not the case. Large trolls and titans stand in your way and lead to nothing but frustration with their ridiculously large health bars, annoying attacks and hordes of little enemies that do nothing but frustrate the auto-targeting system.

These issues intertwine with video gaming’s biggest problem, the camera angle. More often than not Sorcery has serious problems keeping track of everything that’s going on and enemies can come from blind spots, attack you to force the camera into frenzy and really show off the inconsistency behind what is clearly one of the most important aspects to get correct in a game.

Thankfully there are some neat RPG like elements that help balance out Sorcery. A variety of spells are unlocked as you progress through the story mode with powerful fire abilities and ice magic all aiding to your arsenal of abilities. Spells can also be merged together, for example a wall of fire and a tornado can create a firestorm tornado and putting together these cool combinations is a lot of fun. While spell casting is a hoot in Sorcery, the movement controls can feel a little clunky at times, especially in the heat of combat when you attempt to dodge or block attacks. Another frustrating aspect to Sorcery is amidst all these fantastic spells, Finn seemed to forget to learn ‘cure’ and as a result you have to use potions to regenerate health and boy is this a pain. Players are forced to shake the Move control and tip the drink into their mouth mimicking a real drink to gain the potion’s nutrients, but in practice and during battle, this is nothing short of agonizing.

Sorcery does however put in a decent effort when it comes to providing content to disperse the monotonous combat. Plenty of items can be found to conjure new potions for Finn and lots of clever puzzles are scattered across the story to make sure you can use your spells in interesting and fun ways. It’s just a massive shame that this level of fun simply doesn’t cross over into the bulk of the game.

Ultimately Sorcery is another excellent example of a game that has a very enjoyable mechanic yet for some strange reason, chooses to concentrate on other elements that don’t quite do the aforementioned justice. Casting spells is an absolute delight and really shows off the PlayStation Move, but only in the context of Sorcery’s puzzles and out of combat scenarios. When the action gets heated Sorcery falls apart with mindless action taking over what could have been an incredibly engaging experience. A decent story and enjoyable dialogue help keep this from being a totally disaster but with absolutely no replay value, no post-game content and only 6 hours worth of gameplay, it’s difficult to recommend this game.

6.0 | Gameplay |
Sorcery’s initial spell casting mechanic is a joy to implement and really shows off the PlayStation Move’s ability. In practice however, the mechanic is ruined by the onslaught of enemies that force you to relieve all notions of tactical casting and instead opt for a spam approach, simply blasting everything and anything you see before it gets to close to you. When the combat dies down and Sorcery lets you get involved with the wide variety of puzzles scattered throughout the game, you begin to appreciate Sorcery and at the same time understand how magical this game could have been if emphasis was put into the right places.

8.0 | Presentation |
Visually Sorcery is delightful to look at. A vivid world inhabited by a variety of fairy tale creatures really comes to life on the big screen. The story too is also engaging and the voice acting impressive. It’s a shame about the controls being hit and miss but this is in part due to particular design choices like the potion use mechanic for example, as opposed to actual problems with the game.

3.0 | Replay Value |
There’s no need to replay Sorcery again other than maybe showing a friend a couple of cool spells or something. Once you’re done that’s it, time to pack up and trade it in.

6.0 | Final Thoughts |
It upsets me when a development team has a beautiful vision of a game and when it comes to life, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations in any way. It upsets me even more when a development team clearly have the fundamental game mechanic that can make their game fantastic, in place, yet for some strange reason choose to completely ignore it and fill the experience to the brim with nonsensical content. Sorcery’s puzzle elements and early spell implementation shows that The Workshop got spell casting down, it is enjoyable, work with that! No, instead they bombard you with a mass of frustrating enemies and take all the enjoyment out of their prize asset, creating nothing more than a convoluted mess. Sorcery is an ok game that lacks consistency all the way through and it certainly owes a lot to the script team because the story, narrative and dialogue are really the only things keeping this ship afloat.

Igor Kharin.

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Wednesday 4 July 2012

CeX on TV's Gadget Show

When Channel 5's Gadget Show charged their most experienced gamer Jason Bradbury to build a budget PC gaming rig they naturally looked for the cheapest place to buy the components.

Ready, aim, action in CeX Edinburgh!

As everyone should know, CeX buys, sells and exchanges hard drives, graphics cards, memory, gamer mice and keyboards as well as games, phones DVDs and gadgets at the best prices in the universe. That's why the Gadget Show came to CeX.

 That's a rap, gadget in the CeX bag:)

While the Gadget Show missed a trick and paid with cash when they must have rooms stuffed full of old gadgets and games to exchange at CeX, they snapped up goodies to build their PC rig. Jason stayed to chat with custies and our Edinburgh team. He raved about his new Galaxy S3, although he also has an iPhone 4S. Nice eh? If you fancy chatting gadgets with Jason find him on twitter @jasonbradbury

Hats off to our very own Superstar Jennifer, here getting wired for sound by Channel 5's man.

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Tuesday 3 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

‘The Amazing Spider-Man introduces a wonderful free-roaming mechanic, but chooses not to show it off, instead opting to put the wall crawler in confined spaces and dark sewers – immediately alienating the best thing about this game.”

Considering our favourite wall-crawler was one of the first super heroes to make the giant leap from comics to video games, expectations have always been high for Spider-Man and his digital adventures. That being said, Spider-Man games have also been amidst a select few that for the most part, have actually been pretty good, despite a few hiccups along the way. The Amazing Spider-Man takes heavy influence from one of this generations best series, Batman: Arkham and intertwines it with beautiful free-roaming mechanics that really put you in the shoes of Spider-Man. As a result this new adventure is expansive and a lot of fun, despite a few shortcomings in level design and AI. Nevertheless, The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Peter Parker or indeed enjoy a good open-world adventure.

The Amazing Spider-Man introduces you to its greatest asset right from the go, the open-world of New York. Gliding through the concrete jungle has certainly been missed in Spider-Man’s recent adventures but here you are at full swing. While you unfortunately don’t see what Spider-Man’s webbing is attaching too, the physics is excellent and really gives you a feel for how the wall-crawler must maneuver through the air. Part of the games’ appeal is the massive assortment of collectables to be found scattered across New York and there’s literally never been a better way to traverse a city on the hunt for these goodies. Take my word for it, you will find yourself lost for hours roaming this beautiful city as you leap from tall buildings and perform spectacular acrobatics.

This well designed world hub acts perfectly as your guide to the story missions and side quests – and it is here unfortunately where The Amazing Spider-Man can be hit and miss. The story itself is set supposedly after the events of the upcoming movie with a virus outbreak in Manhattan. Parker proceeds to breakout an inmate from an asylum to help him find a cure and as a result, all hell breaks loose in the city. The dialogue and narrative are very engaging throughout, but the pacing, level design and difficulty curve falter. When The Amazing Spider-Man sets you loose in the open world you will undoubtedly have a lot of fun, but enclosed spaces (of which there are many) certainly don’t play to the games’ strengths. While Spidey can move around any object and perform cool sneak attacks, the sense of constriction really impedes the fun and as a result, you simply can’t wait to get back out into the open. Thankfully, there are mini games and side quests present that give you every excuse to get out there and explore New York. Although they’re not particularly challenging or engaging, I cannot describe how terrific the free-roaming mechanics are, which make any menial task in The Amazing Spider-Man, fun to do.

The Amazing Spider-Man should definitely be played on the harder difficulty setting. There’s absolutely no challenge present on normal and you’ll find yourself breezing through the game with minimal effort. Combat mechanics and a basic upgrade system are all heavily influenced by the Batman: Arkham series so if you’re a fan of pressing one button to perform combos and another to dodge when the command prompt appears, then you’ll have no issues getting to grips with the controls here. Being a flashy kinda guy, Spider-Man makes all these moves and combos look really cool and it’s a real joy to perform alongside his web-combos and special moves.

The comparisons to Batman Arkham continue in the sections that force you to utilize stealth. Spider-Man can hover above enemies or line himself on top of groups and perform stealth finishers using his web. Unlike Batman: Arkham however, the AI lacks any real conviction especially when they come looking for you, but cool additions like the AI using flashlights make this experience somewhat above average.

This is not to say that all of The Amazing Spider-Man’s campaign is poor. Boss battles, especially on the harder difficulty setting are a lot of fun. A giant mechanical beast threatening to destroy Manhattan poses a serious issue for Spider-Man and the impressive use of scale and speed makes these battles a whole load of fun.

Unfortunately these enjoyable moments are few and far between to make any form of consistency throughout The Amazing Spider-Man’s story missions. Swinging through Manhattan is absolutely wonderful and exploring the city will take you hours in itself. It’s a shame however that this wonderful mechanic could not be supplemented with any depth with side missions becoming stale very quickly and the majority of the campaign limiting the only real highlight of this game, the freedom to move like Spider-Man. If swinging around exploring New York sounds like your thing, then don’t hesitate and pick up The Amazing Spider-Man, but people looking for a true superhero experience need to head straight to Gotham because Batman still stands head and shoulders above the competition.

7.5 | Gameplay |
My opinion about gameplay has to be split in two here. As far as roaming Manhattan is concerned, the gameplay is absolutely wonderful. Soaring through the sky as Spider-Man has never quite felt so fantastic and there’s not a single person out there who won’t enjoy rummaging through the city and finding all the collectables scattered across this open world. Aside from this, the combat is reminiscent of Batman Arkham, but not quite as tight, the mini-games become cumbersome to do over and over and the story frustratingly puts you out of reach of this games’ best asset, the free roaming – instead opting to let you crawl around confined and restricted areas over and over.

8.0 | Presentation |
Manhattan is beautiful through and through. Character models are hit and miss with Spider-Man looking fantastic but some enemies and bosses just look ridiculous and not up to the same high standards that were set in Batman Arkham. The storyline itself is amusing, funny and well thought out. It’s just a massive shame the action doesn’t resonate this same level of success.

5.5 | Replay Value |
There’s no doubt that swinging across Manhattan is an experience you’d want to do over and over until you’ve found all the secret goodies scattered across the city. As for the story however, there’s pretty much no reason to go through it once you’ve braved it the first time.

7.0 | Final Thoughts |
Frustration is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of The Amazing Spider-Man. There was so much potential here for this to truly be a spectacular experience, especially considering the mould for superhero games is wide out in the open thanks to Batman. It all starts so well for The Amazing Spider-Man with a truly wonderful web-swinging mechanic that will have you leaping with delight along with Spidey as he bounds across Manhattan. Unfortunately when you dive into the heart of the action and story, you will find a shallow experience, one that is very easy to forget. The Amazing Spider-Man tried to mimic Batman and it is just that, a mimic, nothing more. The true superhero experience is still at home with Rocksteady and I have a feeling it will take some time for anything to come out better than Batman.

Igor Kharin.

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