Friday, 30 November 2012

CeX at Gadget Show Live

Update: It's over! Thanks to everyone who came to see us. Are you in any of the photos below?

 Just some of Team CeX, Gadget Show 2012, London

The Gadget Show Live London is er.... Live! CeX is at stand J31 where our tireless team have built a pop up shop for your buying and selling pleasure. If you can't make it down check out our live stream and we'll post more photos as the show progresses.

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Assassin’s Creed III

When we discuss game franchises that are iconic to this generation, Assassin’s Creed has to pop into that list somewhere. A series that has invigorated free-roaming mechanics with engaging gameplay, intricately woven storytelling and breathtaking visuals simply cannot be ignored as one of the most influential we have seen thus far. But where does a series go after continuing to bring out similar content? Ubisoft have been known to constantly update and progress their beloved franchise but never substantially. Assassin’s Creed III takes bold steps to expand the world you inhabit making this relatively similar experience more dynamic and larger in scale. As a result this installment is the biggest yet, offering exceptional highs but some occasional lows along what is undoubtedly a thoroughly entertaining journey. 
Assassin’s Creed III continues the series exceptional detail to history but this time throughout the American Revolution. You play as Connor, a character that takes time to grow accustomed to and one that unfortunately gets caught up in the political war surrounding his native people. The beautiful cities of Boston and New York as well as the vast landscapes before you come to life in another realistic depiction of history that intertwines with non-fictional key events such as the battle of Bunker Hill and many other notable events. While Connor’s story concentrates on the past, our beloved bartender Desmond continues his quest in the modern day to save the world before him. The contrast between the two is emotionally engaging as their paths throughout your time with Assassin’s Creed III invoke similar emotional responses and ideals about humanity and what really is right and wrong.

Morality heavily influences the Assassin’s Creed series, but when it comes down to gameplay, the game is a lot more straightforward. Unfortunately it does take a while to get into the heart of Assassin’s Creed III’s action. A prologue really concentrates on setting the tone and story of the game before letting you loose in its world. When the chains do come off and you’re free to explore with Connor, you really begin to contemplate the size and depth of this installment in the series. Connor’s maneuverability has been streamlined and simplified from previous games, partially to ensure a smoother experience traversing the new environments in the forests. While climbing the rooftops and scaling walls in cities feels quite similar, Connor’s ability to manipulate his movements across branches, trees and other environments is astonishing. Assassin’s Creed III really takes into account the plausible physics behind these type of movements, meaning appropriate speed, jumping distance and balance are all taken into account when Connor grabs a hold of branches, runs along them and bounds for another. As a result this is by far the smoothest and most enjoyable form of exploration so far in the series.

The same can be said for Assassin’s Creed III’s fighting mechanics that have been given a makeover for streamlining purposes. Connor still bounds elegantly in between foes hacking and slashing his way through with the press of a counter button. Combat has clearly taken even more influence from Rocksteady’s Batman series, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. An abundance of gruesome finishing moves and animations keep combat exciting and fast-paced and the freedom to dispatch foes in so many ways is another welcome expansion to the series.

Of course Connor needs little reason to take on these enemies but there are missions to get involved in. When you’re not traversing Boston, New York or Homestead peacefully you’re engaging groups of enemies, ambushing convoys, leading the front-line and assassinating key political figures. Assassin’s Creed III’s wonderfully woven story is intertwined with for the most part, well-paced gameplay with few lulls throughout.

A notable side-mission type in Assassin’s Creed III is Connor’s venture onto water as he captains a variety of ships in oceanic battle. Battling your way through the mighty water while avoiding enemy fire and trying to take them down simultaneously is a thrilling endeavor and provides a much-needed change of scenery. What scenery it is too, Assassin’s Creed III impresses visually across the board and especially in these encounters with the beautiful and yet ominous tides crashing against your ship while your crew is hard at work trying to steady your vessel – it’s truly a magnificent sight to behold.

Assassin’s Creed III also sees the return of competitive online multiplayer. The aim of course is to blend into crowds and assassinate other players without being spotted. The usual rank up system is in place that allows for unlocking new weapons, perks and skills but notably here you can also spend real money to purchase upgrades in the form of micro transactions. If it wasn’t enough already that companies instigate season passes, downloadable content but now extra costumes, weapons and other accessories are purchasable with your own digital wallet – shameless.

From a technical perspective Assassin’s Creed III shines in some elements, but is let down by others. Being the most expansive and largest title in the series unfortunately leads to some bugs and glitches. Timed events don’t trigger properly and occasional AI gets stuck in walls or crevasses – these types of issues are seen in games like Skyrim and it is largely due to the size and depth of the game. However these problems aren’t large enough to ruin the experience and indeed the wonderful graphics, exceptional gameplay mechanics and wholly intriguing story are more than enough to let you very easily overlook such nuisances.

Ultimately the Assassin’s Creed series is a victim of its own success. The constant need to evolve the series has forces Ubisoft to expand the series in a direction that for the most part pushes the game forward, but not without expense. A much larger and more expansive world gives the gamer even more freedom to explore and take in the world before them. More variety in missions, side quests and the engaging sea-warfare help keep things fresh too. On the flip-side this large scale has left Assassin’s Creed III with a few notable technical hitches that while don’t spoil the party, still feel like a spilled drink on the carpet – something you just can’t quite ignore.

8.5 | Gameplay |
Climbing new environments is more fun than before thanks to a change of scenery and some streamlining to the whole process. Combat has also been tweaked to provide more a smoother style of battle. Lots of different things to do in an expansive world will keep you invested for a considerable period of time.

8.5 | Presentation |
Assassin’s Creed III and the world it embodies is beautiful to look at. The historical referencing is spot on and how the game mixes with real-life events is wonderful. Slight technical hitches frustrate what could have been a truly gorgeous technical experience.

8.5 | Replay Value |
This is certainly the largest Assassin’s Creed game to date and as a result, there’s a lot more single-player content. Some of it is more worthwhile to invest time into than others. For example, you could spend a lot of time in homestead building up the economy and giving the people an opportunity to thrive – or do you just ignore that and go straight to the story missions. The online multiplayer is a lot of fun and that’s definitely worth checking out too.

8.5 | Final Thoughts |
It’s a big step for Assassin’s Creed and one that they might have not been prepared for. The vast expansion in size has left the game’s usual completely polished feel behind but as a result there’s plenty more to get stuck into. Another excellent story is woven through an exciting and interesting portion of history where a host of interesting characters come to life. If you’re a fan of Assassin’s Creed then you should definitely check this out.

Similar games: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

Igor Kharin.

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Millionth Customer!

CeX has recently processed the millionth UK order placed on Thanks for choosing CeX and to everyone in CeX that helped make this happen:)

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Profit from Black Friday

Make instant cash from Black Friday deals by selling to CeX!

On Black Friday CeX stores are open 9am to 9pm in all East Coast and 9am to our usual close on the West Coast.

What: Wii-U 32GB Premium Pack Black
Format: Wii-U
Buy from: GameStop
Their price: $349.99
We buy for cash: $400.00
Profit to you:  $50.01

What: Wii-U 8GB Basic Pack White
Format: Wii-U
Buy from: GameStop
Their price: $299.99
We buy for cash: $345.00
Profit to you:  $45.01

What: Brave
Format: DS
Buy from: Target
Their price: $10
We buy for cash: $16
Profit to you: $6

What: Batman Arkham City: GOTY
Format: Xbox 360
Buy from: K-Mart
Their price: $19.99
We buy for cash: $24
Profit to you: $4.01

What: Kyocera Hydro
Format: Boost Mobile
Buy from: Walmart
Their price: $39.88
We buy for cash: $48.00
Profit to you: $8.12
What: 32GB SD Micro Card
Format: SD Micro
Buy from: Best Buy
Their price: $17.99
We buy for cash: $25.00
Profit to you: $7.01

What: Dishonored
Format: Xbox 360
Buy from: Best Buy
Their price: $24.99
We buy for cash: $35.00
Profit to you:  $10.01

What: Playstation 3 SuperSlim 250GB Combo Pack
Format: Playstation 3 Consoles
Buy from: Target
Their price: $199.99
We buy for cash: $234
Profit to you:  $34.01

We'll add more products as we find offers where you can profit at CeX.

Naturally, all prices exclude sales tax.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

“The same core gameplay returns to once again bring players a taste of fast-paced and exciting online content spread across a host of well-structured maps."

Are you bored with Call of Duty yet? The iconic modern shooter returns once again but has enough changed to keep things feeling fresh and exciting? In short, the answer is yes and no. On the one hand new depth in campaign mode ensures you are put through your paces in an exhilarating and challenging set of scenarios that force you to make consequential decisions that really play with your emotions. On the other hand Black Ops II persists with an almost identical iteration of the online formula that we all know. Make no mistake about it, if you were looking for the same experience then there are enough subtle tweaks to make this worth playing, but there’s nothing particularly new here for those of you looking for change.

The campaign mode in Black Ops II has been significantly shortened, but the lack of length is made up for with tightly woven content and exciting set piece moments throughout. Leading characters from the previous Black Ops make a return and while there are references made to prior events, a clear storyline is formed and followed throughout. The events follow the evil protagonist Raul Menendez in a parallel storytelling that shows you his uprising and then your attempts to foil his plans. Clever narrative and dialogue ensure that this is by far one of the most entertaining albeit short campaigns the series has had yet. 

Those of you who like to blast through the campaign to see the story then jump straight into multiplayer will potentially have a little bit more work to do. Black Ops II’s campaign is ripe full of moments that potentially lead to replay value. Throughout key sections in the story you will be forced to make heart-pounding decisions that could potentially change the way events unfold. This alongside side-objectives in missions makes it worthwhile to stick with the campaign just to see all the different potential ways things can pan out.

Depending on what side of the fence you sit, you can argue that either Call of Duty’s online multiplayer is so great, some people don’t even bother going near the campaign. Or you could argue the campaign is just not that good. Whatever the case it’s undeniable that the online variant is a whole load of fun. Some changes have been implemented here too, most notably in how you loud yourself before jumping into the action. Now players have to choose to disperse 10 available tokens across equipment you want to use in battle (with the primary weapon, side arm, each attachment, each perk and each type of lethal and tactical equipment all taking up a point. This gives players some room for creativity – for example if you find you don’t use a side arm or any tactical grenades, you can swap them out for another wild card that might offer another perk slot for example. Players now have the ability to shake up their custom loudouts to suit their style of play more than ever before with this system. 

Of course you will spend the majority of your time earning exp and leveling up across the various game modes present. Now players earn tokens that can be used to unlock various killstreaks and this token system gives you the freedom to unlock them in order of preference, which is nice. The very same experience with the same adrenaline pumping action spread across a variety of well-developed maps is at the heart of Black Ops II, with the exception of one new game mode that perhaps offers something a little bit different, League Play.

When you first enter into League Play, you will be required to play a few rounds so the game can judge your skill level. After this you placed into a league with players of a similar skill level. From here it’s up to you to win and progress up the ladder or fall below your level of expectation. This new system attempts to make matched games a lot fairer with players going up against equal opposition and for the most part, it does really well. This is especially apparent with League Play immediately opening up the entire game’s arsenal to its participants without the need to unlock anything beforehand. This really evens out the playing field and gives everything an equal advantage. Another wonderful tweak provided by League Play is the removal of experience points in this mode – players concentrate solely on the action in front of them and need not worry about playing in particular ways or doing set requirements to meet particular goals. While this is an interesting turn for the series, it goes against the psychological principles of Call of Duty, so it will be interesting to see how this takes off. What I mean by this is the series is based off a simple click and reward system – you shoot someone, you get EXP – it’s simple genius. Without the EXP the game could drastically change and I relish at seeing how the community takes to League Play and if grows in popularity.

Black Ops II also welcomes back Zombies. Now running through a third game, the cooperative survival hit has perhaps lost its charm somewhat. New maps, new content and new humour keeps things entertaining at the beginning but the never-ending nightmare gets dull quite quickly. I commend the effort to add more content to the mode but I believe the formula itself is a little dull now.

From a technical perspective Black Ops II doesn’t really impress. The campaign boasts some beautiful environments and larger-than-life robots, but it’s not the most impressive visual spectacle we’ve seen and in comparison to games like Halo 4, it’s hard to believe a game with such high production value isn’t at the front of its class in the visual department. I played online through the Sony PlayStation 3 and was having continuous connection issues but when games did load they were absolutely perfect, it was just a matter of finding them first. Aside from that it’s still a fast paced and devastatingly addictive shooter and form a controlling standpoint, is a joy to play.

Ultimately Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 provides what fans of the series want – more lively online action. The notable addition of League Play has the potential to change the entire dynamics of how COD is played online, but whether it will take off is a whole other matter. The campaign mode provides some quick thrills and it’s nice to see that effort was put into this mode. Zombies on the other hand just doesn’t have the same spark it had before, which is a shame because in its prime it was a whole load of fun. Overall it’s an engaging and entertaining game but in much need of reinvention, or does it?

8.5 | Gameplay |
Call of Duty: Black Ops II provides exciting gameplay both online and off. A well-developed campaign is intertwined with the same core online gameplay mechanics that make this series so popular. If you’ve loved Call of Duty before, there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this iteration. It’s a shame however that Zombies feels stagnant and dull this time round.

7.0 | Presentation |
A game that boasts such high production value should be visually more impressive. The dialogue and narrative in the campaign is fantastic however. The new way loudouts are presented initially the new 10 token system is a little confusing.

10.0 | Replay Value |
Is there a modern game series with higher replay value? The simple click and reward system brings millions of players back for more. The new League Play system could have you coming back for a different reason, the honour of playing in high leagues with better and more skilled players. Wherever you choose to use your skills you’ll find it difficult to stop because this game is designed around the principle of addiction.

8.5 | Final Thoughts |
This isn’t a big step forward for the series but Call of Duty: Black Ops II does enough to warrant a positive reception from its fans. There’s enough high quality content here to keep gamers engaged for another year. This time round it’s absolutely worthwhile checking out the campaign and then engrossing yourself in a highly addictive and highly entertaining online experience.

I recommend similar games: Halo 4 & Battlefield 3. 

Igor Kharin.

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Friday, 16 November 2012

Halo 4

“Chief’s bond with Cortana makes Halo 4 more than a fight for humanity, rather a desperate fight to keep a friendship spread across a generation of gaming, alive.”

Here we are finally, the beginning of a new Halo chronicle. After being in the hands of 343 Industries for a considerable period of time, the series has evolved but not forgotten its roots. While Bungie created this iconic series, 343 have taken Master Chief and his ever-lovable companion Cortana across a highly engrossing and engaging story that grapples with various enemies threatening to distinguish life itself. Wonderful gameplay coupled with breathtaking graphics and well-paced storytelling makes Halo 4 another huge success that while doesn’t re-invent the series, rather tweaks it in such a manner that helps it feels fresh once again.

Master Chief’s story continues 4 years after the events of Halo 3. After being in cryo-sleep the Chief is awoken by Cortana amidst detection of another threat poised to destroy humanity. Finding their way off the derelict ship Chief makes his way onto foreign soil once again in attempt to save the day. This time however you are faced with the very real possibility of Cortana’s battery dying and shutting down her system. It’s up to you uncover the truth of this mysterious threat whilst getting Cortana back to her maker in an attempt to save her virtual existence and the bond these two have shared for a generation of gaming.

This dual-pronged story of hope and despair is told exquisitely thanks to the outstanding production value of Halo 4. 343 will be proud that their title has arguably the best graphics seen so far on Microsoft’s console, while top quality voice acting and extravagant environments all help to bring this tale to life. It’s also worth noting that another beautiful soundtrack has been put together to make Halo 4’s music another orchestral masterpiece.

While Halo 4’s storytelling and audio design have certainly evolved to new heights, the core gameplay still remains largely familiar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing especially considering most first-person shooter fans are now so engrossed in Call of Duty that it will probably be highly refreshing to play with Halo’s take on FPS. The campaign brings back the Covenant who work together in groups, use battlefield tactics and provide a threatening enemy to face. The brand new enemy ‘Prometheans’ provide some variation to the gameplay but the same principles of clever AI apply. Their enemy ranks alter the course of battle as you tackle teleporting foes, quick crawlers or hulking giants – all helping to create versatility from the common Covenant threat. Combining your arsenal of weapons, grenades, melee attacks and armour specializations you become a formidable force on the frontlines, one that both sets of enemies will fear.

Halo 4’s campaign lasts for approximately ten hours and is most fun when played with friends. A four play cooperative mode is present and the coop campaign is an absolute blast. Getting together with friends slightly diminishes the emotional relationship between Cortana and Master Chief, but adds heaps to the gameplay allowing you to employ battlefield tactics and taking down enemies with utmost precision.

If that doesn’t float your cooperative boat, then the free downloadable episodes of Spartan Ops just might. Planned as a regular DLC series, these short cooperative missions are comprised with extra story content and while currently undeveloped and somewhat disengaged from one-another, these episodes will hopefully be treated with care by 343 and could potentially end up a highly engaging micro-series in the Halo universe.

Once your done with the campaign or opted to ignore it for the time being, it’s obviously onto the competitive multiplayer mode. Halo’s online element has been a shining beacon for other multiplayer games and remains so after being reinvigorated for Halo 4. All your classic game and objective modes return in full force alongside some new content including Flood (zombies), Domination and Regicide. All these game modes provide a slightly different angle on Halo 4, but most important is how the experience plays online. Opting for modern standards Halo 4 introduces loudouts consisting of standard categories including main weapon, sidearm, grenades and armour abilities based on your specialization and extra attribute bonuses resembling the Perk system in Call of Duty. While this new format takes away from the originality of Halo 4, it does create versatility in how you choose to play the game. You gain access to new weapons, abilities and perks as you level up through Halo’s multiplayer with custom default loudouts also present to ensure there’s balance between lower and higher ranked players. Just because you open with a particular loudout doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with that set weapon, rather players have the option to call in weapon drops with weapons across the map are clearly pinpointed. Speaking of the maps, they range from small, medium and large terrain – all of which are finely balanced to ensure the essence of Halo’s strategic multiplayer gameplay stays in tact despite these new additions to the fray.

By far the coolest additions to Halo 4 are the Specializations – which are also perk-like enhancements. Think of these Specializations as classes, each of which provide different abilities and can be leveled up separately to enhance your Spartan career. There are 8 different Specializations with those who purchased the Limited Edition bundle gaining access to all 8 at launch, while everybody else has to wait until November 20th. These special armours have various abilities, for example Wetwork increases movement and assassination speed, Pioneer earns more experience points to level up quicker, the Engineer sees weapons drops a couple of seconds before other players, the Tracker can reload the contents of an ordinance drop, the Rogue flinches less during a fire-fight and so forth. Depending on what Specialization you choose can significantly change how you play the game online. So experimentation is absolutely vital to find what abilities suit your playstyle.

Ultimately it’s hard to dispute that Halo 4 really is one fantastic way to send off the Xbox 360 console in terms of flagship exclusive titles. With the new generation looming just around the corner and the release of Nintendo’s WiiU a mere 2 weeks away, it’s fantastic to see that developers are still producing games of such outstanding quality even though there are obviously development kits already out there for new projects on exciting new machines. Halo 4 continues the landmark franchises wonderful story and enhances the gameplay experience to another thoroughly enjoyable level. If you’re looking for anything ranging from excellent single player or cooperative campaigning to exciting online multiplayer then look no further than Halo 4.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Halo 4 provides exhilarating gameplay across the board. A beautifully designed campaign is ripe full of fantastic moments and intense emotional scenes. It provides just the right level of grandeur on both a small scale between Chief and Cortana while concentrating on the perils facing life and humanity itself. If that’s not enough Halo 4 continues setting new heights for online competitive multiplayer by providing the experience we all know and love and enhancing it with a few subtle tweaks that make it contemporary for a modern audience. This is sci-fi action at its absolute finest.

10.0 | Presentation |
Halo 4 is the best looking game on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and all games should aspire to be presented at such a high level. There’s no doubt that the production value here is through the roof but you can absolutely tell as each and every cinematic is gorgeous, each and every piece of dialogue is thought out and emotive – it all just fits together into one terrific package.

10.0 | Replay Value |
Halo 4 has a whole bunch of collectables and various difficulty levels that will keep you coming back to the campaign, if you’re not completely hooked on the multiplayer. Just like the original Halo completely blew online gaming away, Halo 4 provides the same incredible experience with a few much needed tweaks that keep things feeling fresh in what is a familiar environment. Nevertheless, with the amount of content to unlock, levels to reach and exp to gain, you could very well be playing Halo 4 all the way through this holiday period and beyond into 2013.

9.5 | Final Thoughts |
As far as modern shooters go this is pretty much as good as it gets. Halo 4 is a testament to incredible technical development. This is a whole package that provides a fleshed out campaign mode and a terrific online experience that is ripe full of content. As far as I’m concerned this generation has reached its peak and what better way for Microsoft to bow out the 360 with this technical marvel.  

If this tickles your fancy, I recommend similar games: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 & Battlefield 3.  

Igor Kharin.

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Monday, 12 November 2012

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali! 

Remember CeX is open everyday so you can sell the gifts you don't want for games and gadgets you do, or get you the best cash prices for them instantly. Find you nearest CeX.

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

“This alien invasion can only be stopped by clever planning, tactical deployment and efficient ferocity. XCOM: Enemy Unknown forces you to care about your soldiers and the cause, making this more than just a strategy game.”

When the Earth is at a standoff with alien forces, it is up to you and the XCOM initiative to protect the planet we inhabit and avoid extraterrestrial takeover. Indeed this tactical turn-based role-play experience is unlike any other conventional game we see on the market today – rather this is a challenging, engaging and highly engrossing experience that brings about a real emotional connection and a heightened sense satisfaction as you push back the invaders that try to vanquish the human race.

Fans of retro gaming will be aware of the original X-COM: UFO Defense but make no mistake, this is not a mere remake of a classic. Fireaxis have gone boldly forward with their franchise and in some respects, this advancement has paid off. Other additions on the other hand, prove to be frustrating and inconsistent with the game’s seemingly high technical standards.

You will find that gameplay is split into two sections: managing the XCOM initiative and its base while also attacking on the front lines. You will be required to choose a location and set up a base of operations. In this hub players will have a large variety of abilities at their disposal where they can exercise the strategy elements of the game. This underground HQ that is viewed from a cross-section like an ant farm, gives the player all he needs to manage construction of future research projects using resources recovered from missions and funding. The XCOM project works by countries funding your work if you succeed and providing less or leaving entirely if you fail. This is one of those brilliant games where losing is part of the whole experience and believe me, there will be times where you will be torn apart, especially on the harder difficulties. Succeed however, and these countries will continue supporting your research, which will in turn provide more powerful weapons and secret technology.

Your headquarters is also where you manage your global defensive network. The Geoscape (a holographic representation of planet Earth) gives you an indication of where the threats are and it’s up to you to quickly answer any distress calls to avoid panic and keep countries on your side.

How do you avoid global panic? By eliminating the alien threat of course! XCOM’s turned-based gameplay uses an isometric 3D perspective with the camera on top of the action. You control a squad of between four and six human soldiers or robotic allies as you take down the hostile threat while completing any mission objectives at hand. The classic RTS fog of war keeps the various maps and the enemies hidden until you enter their proximity. What makes XCOM so brilliant is the units you control aren’t just arbitrary grunts, rather you keep your soldiers and watch them progress, rank up and become leaders in your war effort. Your soldiers are customizable in a variety of different ways ranging from naming them to upgrading their armor, weapons and special abilities called Psionic powers. It is in your best interest to keep your veteran soldiers alive to aid the effort but expect it to be a traumatic ordeal when inevitably one of your closest allies falls in combat.

The combat itself is well implemented. Upon finding enemies you choose your unit and click on an enemy to initiate an attack. The result is an impressive cut-scene that shows your soldier taking the shot and hopefully, finishing the foe. The environment, skill of the soldier and weapon accuracy all plays a role in keeping the combat varied in the form of an accuracy percentage. You are always given a percentage chance of hitting the target and it’s possible to miss if you’re too far away and decided to take a risky shot. However this balances out when you get a fortunate critical hit that sways the battle drastically in your favour.

The very real prospect of losing incredibly useful soldiers adds a heightened sense of tension and seriousness to XCOM, something that few games replicate. As a result you will find each and every move you make is tactical, is supporting your strongest characters and most of all, the best decision you think you could have made at the time. XCOM punishes players who act without thinking and sometimes puts you in situations where sacrifices have to be made, but it’s up to you as a leader to make big calls in big situations.
If all of this is too much to handle, then you can move away from the core single-player experience and face human opposition online in 1-on-1 battles. Players are given an identical value of resources to spend on units, assemble a tactic that you may have never even thought of during the single player and have at it. Battles online aren’t as extensive as the campaign but due to the variation in how players set up their load-outs, you’ll find some interesting and diverse experiences here. A big shame is the minimal amount of multiplayer maps present or the inability to save more than 1 custom team for your online ventures.

From a technical perspective XCOM is thoroughly impressive. This isn’t the best looking game you’ll see but strategy games never really are. What you will see however, is excellent use of dramatic camera angles and a sense of tension that’s cleverly created by your emotional connection with your veteran soldiers and the XCOM project funding that requires you to be successful. Normally strategy games are best played using a keyboard and mouse, but I was happy on the PlayStation 3 controller so fans don’t need to worry about that. XCOM does suffer from a few technical hitches in the graphical department on occasion and it would have been nice to a deeper and more intricate story in my opinion.

Despite these small flaws XCOM: Enemy Unknown should be commended as it is a solid and bold title that steps away from the generic games we see in the modern market. There once was a time where strategy was a dominant genre but unfortunately this is not the case – however those of you looking to relive this classic style of gaming or looking to try a strategy game for the first time will find it difficult to find anything better on a home console.

8.0 | Gameplay |
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game that pays homage to its classic roots while at the same time, bravely expanding the franchise to a modern market. The result is a highly entertaining and incredibly tactical experience that cleverly forces players to become attached and care for their front-line soldiers. Annihilating the threat brings in more sponsorship from the very same countries you are protecting, so it’s in your best interest to be ruthless, efficient and merciless against those brave enough to invade Earth.

7.0 | Presentation |
Clever use of camera angles makes viewing the base hub, combat and the action all enjoyable. It’s not the most beautiful game but certainly makes up for it in accessibility and depth of gameplay.

8.0 | Replay Value |
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a very challenging game and doesn’t do the best job at explaining the importance of particular enhancements and research projects. As a result it’s more than likely that in your first playthrough you will spend resources on things that might not be as valuable come the end-game as other items. So it’s fair to say your first attempt is a learning curve and when you come back for round two you will really be prepared to tackle the alien threat efficiently. The multiplayer is fun too but nowhere near as extensive or expansive as the single player outing.

7.5 | Final Thoughts |
I always love to see something a little different on the market and picking up a copy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is sure to provide you with a completely different experience than modern gamers are used to. There’s plenty to do here and a high level of challenge to be had. Fans of strategy and those of you looking for something that’s not Call of Duty or FIFA may want to look into it, but this is generally quite a hardcore genre so be warned, it’s not for everyone.

Igor Kharin.
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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

MCM Expo @ London Excel

Every year I mark a very special weekend in October to take time out of a busy schedule and visit the wonderful Excel Centre for the London MCM Expo, an event that is everything anime, manga and video game. Over 150,000 thousand people check out this extravagant affair over the weekend to get a glimpse of new video games, rare comic books and waves of fans cosplaying as their favourite characters across various entertainment mediums. I could go on forever about how much fun I had but in particular I thought I would give you a run down of the key games on show and what I thought about the content I managed to get my hands on. 



Nintendo’s highlight WiiU title was without a doubt one of the most popular attractions on show at MCM. Getting up close and personal with not only a fascinating new IP but the WiiU machine and Game Pad was a real privilege as I started making sense of Nintendo’s future in the gaming market. The time I spent with ZombiU highlighted Ubisoft’s natural talent for high development value. The game looked stunning and showed off the WiiU’s powerful processor with impressive lightning and environmental structure all while paving the way for my first zombie encounter. The WiiU Game Pad can be used in a variety of different ways but mainly to access your inventory kit in real-time as you scamper for the correct equipment to deal with the zombie apocalypse. My time with ZombiU was short but sweet and I can’t wait to have an extended period of time with this awesome looking game. 

Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance 

The development behind Rising can be described as nothing less than a rollercoaster. Now that the game is in full swing thanks to Platinum Games, I was able to check out this highly anticipated title. My first impression was this game looked too good to be a current generation game – it’s almost a shame that this project wasn’t saved for the next batch of machines. Nevertheless the unbelievable visual quality was staggering and Raiden’s character model came to life as he ran around dismembering his foes. While the demo was fairly limited in content, it did give you a glimpse of the ‘free slicing’ mechanic that allows Raiden to cut through anything with his sword. Needless to say this was another highly popular title at the Expo and the time allowed to play was very limited unfortunately. 

Tomb Raider (2013)


A bold and brave new Lara Craft makes her way to the current generation of consoles on a deserted island as she fights for survival against menacing terrain and masses of enemies. The new Tomb Raider is highly sought after by the gaming community and from my quick peak I can see why. Tomb Raider’s artistic design again makes this title look absolutely exceptional. The third-person action combined with an open-world island intertwines together to form an intriguing blend of exploration and danger. Lara has to deal with a whole host of enemies including the terrain around her, using what she can find to survive. I am thoroughly looking forward to exploring this delightful world as Lara and can’t wait for the eventual full release. 

Hitman: Absolution 

I really don’t normally concentrate that much on graphics but it seemed that every title on show had the graphical capabilities of the current machines on absolute lock because everything was absolutely stunning! Hitman’s dark, ominous environments complimented the stealth gameplay and provided a different type of visual treat for me. While Konami’s Revengeance has taken a pretty big step back away from stealth, Hitman continues the tradition of stalking your pray, blending into the crowds and assassinating your target at just the right moment. I didn’t actually get an opportunity to play Absolution but I caught an over-the-shoulder glimpse and there’s no doubt this is another highly anticipated title. 

Ni No Kuni 

The surprise of the day came in the form of this delightful J-RPG. Ni No Kuni, which has been co-developed by the incredibly popular Studio Ghibli, shines with a delightful animated charm that only this talented team could create. Chronicling the tale of a young boy, little could really be gathered from the small demo other than it being a free-roaming RPG, but the graphics showed a completely different spectrum to what was on offer to me before. While games like Tomb Raider and Revengeance boasted life-like environments and characters, this dazzling mix of bright colours and beautiful animation exploded off the screen and had passers by commenting “I thought this was an animated movie.” Ni No Kuni could very well be the J-RPG that finally breaks the Western Market. 

Halo 4


Last but not least Studio 343’s first iteration of Halo was on offer at the Microsoft booth. I have been very fortunate and have spent considerable time already with the campaign and I can tell you that it’s certainly of the highest quality; albeit very similar to the experience we’ve had before. The story is well-paced, the new enemies are intriguing and offer variation into gameplay, Chief moves better now and the graphics are the best the Xbox has seen so far and could very well be the pinnacle before another machine is released. Unfortunately I’m still waiting for a shot on the multiplayer, but the campaign in itself is a roaring success in my eyes so far. So that was pretty much all the stuff available that is yet to come out and although the catalogue wasn’t as extensive as Eurogamer, it was still pretty impressive. 

I spent the rest of the day doing some shopping, checking out all the different merchandise stalls and posing with cosplayers for some awesome photos. Finally when my feet couldn’t support me anymore I went back to CeX’s mini-shop that was stationed next to the film memorabilia section and reflected on what was a pretty amazing day. If you’ve never been to a convention like this before I urge you to consider heading over to the next MCM Expo on the 24th – 25th November at the Birmingham NEC arena or wait till next year for another outing in London. 

In the mean time, live long and prosper. Igor.
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Friday, 2 November 2012


“Artistic freedom reminiscent of Bioshock meets Bethesda’s successful role-play formula to create one of not only this years, but this generations most intriguing and entertaining new IP’s.”

In an industry overflowing with iterations and sequels of the same projects it’s certainly a breath of fresh air when a new IP comes along and breaks the mould somewhat. Dishonored is a first-person role-play adventure that binds engaging combat, beautiful surroundings and an intricately woven story that is manipulated by your every decision. While these aren’t exactly new concepts in the industry, the way in which they are delivered here will certainly get your attention and provide a thoroughly engaging and wholly entertaining experience.

Dishonored places you in the shoes of Corvo, a former security officer to royalty and now betrayed and stripped of his rank, set for death. Corvo’s story of political betrayal is fascinating and is believable enough for you to make an instant bond with the protagonist, something that’s not always successfully accomplished by video game developers. Upon breaking out you are introduced to the first of a whole host of wonderfully written characters and the beautiful city of Dunwall – your playground and what a playground it truly is. Bethesda has once again brought a gorgeous world to life for you to explore. With the financial climate suffering and trade diminishing, this once prosperous city is ripe with interesting characters, mischievous plots and intriguing areas to explore.

Dishonored continues to impress with its incredible gameplay mechanics. While previous Bethesda titles have always been praised for wonderful design, combat has always been a weak point in the developer’s arsenal. This is certainly not the case here as a plethora of ways to tackle Dishonored is sure to bring about a host of fun and replay value. Players can choose to take a non-lethal approach, choking out enemies or using sleeping darts to quietly move through the shadows. Or players can take the more entertaining lethal approach and pull out the revolver crossbow combo and go to town. The most impressive thing about Dishonored’s combat is the vast array of supernatural powers that become available as you progress through the story. Corvo gains access to summoning powers, controlling the elements, bodily possession, slowing down time and a whole host of other amazing abilities, which transcend combat like the flash-steps called Blink that make exploring Dunwall a completely different experience. You can mix and match these awesome powers with standard melee or long-distance combat to create your own preferred battle style but with so many options you’ll be hard pressed not to get creative and mess around with these combos.

This is also where Dishonored’s role-play elements shine, as it’s an absolute joy to find bone charms and upgrade your abilities. The powers I mentioned earlier can all be enhanced and made more lethal or last longer. For example the time you spend in someone or something’s body through possession can be increased or the strength of your elemental gust of wind etc.

It’s also nice to see that the AI is of a decent standard to allow players the enjoyment of using these varied powers. Enemies will team up to take you down and for the most part, are vigilant of their surroundings. If you get caught up in close-quarters combat then prepare for a battle comprising of parrying and riposte as opposed to pure button mashing. However, you can avoid all of this by creeping in the shadows and taking down enemies quickly and silently, if don’t want them screaming bloody murder.

From a technical perspective Dishonored shines on numerous levels. The Victorian style of Dunwall gives off an ambience that screams poverty while the glistening sun sparkles perhaps offering some hope to the inhabitants. Steampunk elements have certainly influenced the visual development of this game and it has turned out brilliantly. The same can be said for the narrative and dialogue – a host of famous faces have offered their services including Susan Sarandon, Brad Dourif and Carrie Fisher to create a believable world surrounding you. Gameplay elements are for the most part efficient and consistent too aside from a couple of glitches or frame-rate issues that you may find on occasion, but nothing serious enough to spoil this experience in any way. Really taking time to explore Dunwall is where you’ll get the most out of this illustrious technical presentation. With so much extra content to find, hidden areas and vast catacombs all around you, it’s difficult to stick primarily to the story without taking some time to go and explore yourself and meet some of the interesting inhabitants.

Of course Dishonored’s structure pretty much requires you to replay the game multiple times so it’s highly unlikely you won’t eventually get round to exploring Dunwall. With so many important details affected by the way you play the game, going through again to change the ending and alter the development of the city will be high on your to-do list. The changes themselves aren’t staggered, but they provide enough emotional connection to make you feel the gravity and magnitude of your actions.

There’s no doubt that Dishonored is a rare gem in our current gaming market that is full to the brim with generic first-person shooters and spin-offs of continuing IP’s and franchises. Bethesda have taken a bold step introducing a wonderful new world, a host of interesting characters and brilliantly entertaining gameplay to ensure you have a high quality role-play game to see you through this holiday period. Considering how busy Christmas is going to be, I urge you make time for this truly engaging masterpiece.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Incredibly engaging and varied gameplay makes Dishonored a well-rounded and thoroughly enjoyable experience. You can choose exactly how you want to play, will you traverse Dunwall and spare every single soul, or will you slaughter those before you and seek revenge for the wrong-doing they have committed. A cool arsenal of weapons alongside supernatural abilities give you so much variation in how you choose to tackle each and every foe you encounter, ensuring you’ll have a blast whether you possess their body or blow them off a ledge with a quick gust of wind. On top of this your decision on how to tackle the enemies will mould Dunwall into a different entity that will give you a different conclusion to your adventure.

9.0 | Presentation |
A bold artistic design makes Dishonored one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen. Reminiscent of Victorian London, Steampunk influences combine to create an urban and industrial world brimming with life despite poverty, famine and the bleakness of it all. The story in Dishonored is interesting and it helps that you can ultimately shape its conclusion. The narrative and dialogue also brings the story and characters to life, while you remain silent as you take on board the information and choose how to use it to accomplish your goals.

9.0 | Replay Value |
It’s impossible to acquire all the powers and abilities in one single play through but even if that wasn’t the case, you’ll absolutely be playing this game over again. With a variety of ways to tackle Dishonored, you’ll need to try them all to see the different endings you can create for Dunwall and its people.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Although it’s a new IP, Dishonored doesn’t exactly bring something totally new to the table. It takes ideas that we are already familiar with but encompasses them in a vibrant and engaging world. This alongside technical polishing makes playing another moral role-play game incredibly fun while feeling almost new and refreshing. Ultimately it’s fair to see you’ve played this type of game before, but not quite to the same excellent standard.

Igor Kharin.

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