Need for Speed: Most Wanted review

Need for Speed Most Wanted ReviewIf you have played the last couple of Need for Speed games, you will probably already know that the quality of the racing games published by EA was degrading rapidly. By letting Criterion Games, the creators of the immensely popular Burnout series, develop Most Wanted, EA has made the right decision to resurrect the NFS series.

As in most racing games, there isn’t really a storyline. The only information you get at the start of the game is that you need to beat the 10 most wanted drivers of Fairhaven, the city in which you can drive freely and participate in races to upgrade your cars and get enough Speed Points to unlock the next Most Wanted Race. The ten cars you will have to race and the required amount of speed points can be found here. There are four DLC packs, all of which also add an extra Most Wanted Race. To get the car of a Most Wanted Driver, you have to beat him in a race and shut him down afterwards.

The entire city of Fairhaven is completely open-world, with lots of secret passages and structures to drive on. A cool new feature is the addition of Autolog, a system which allows you to change your car parts on-the-fly, even while in a race. It also lets you jump to discovered jack spots and from here you can track your progress on the Most Wanted List without having to go to the menu. With Autolog, you are connected to all of your friends who play the game. There is a virtual leaderboard for every billboard you drive through and every speed camera you pass, so you can compete against your friends. To unlock cars, you will need to find them throughout the city and its surroundings. After you have found them, you don’t need to buy them. You can just hop in and start driving it. Each car has its own set of 6 races to unlock different parts like wheels and nitrous, which can all be upgraded to Pro level after completing a task, giving you more advantages while you use the part. In total, there are 123 Jackspots, but some cars have multiple spots where they can be found, resulting in a car list of 44 unique cars. While you race these, you will probably damage them. If that’s the case, you can just drive through a garage and you car will be instantly fixed, like in Burnout Paradise.

There’s a multiplayer section to the game as well, in which you can drive in the city, shutting down other people and winning races to get Speed Points. As you level up, you will receive new cars to drive. These can be similarly upgraded as in the singleplayer. There is a number of different events to participate in, ranging from normal races to contests of jumping the farthest through a billboard.

Criterion has proven it still knows how to make racing games by taking the Need for Speed franchise out of the endless stream of racing games and making it fun again. Hopefully EA is smart enough to ditch Black Box forever and to stick with Criterion Games as their developer for NFS games.

(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and PC)

Poll results

Yesterday I published a poll to determine which one of the upcoming games would be reviewed. Payday 2 won with an astonishing 90 percent of the votes. As soon as it releases I will start playing and make a review of it in the week after the release on the 16th of August. While you are waiting for that review, I will cover NFS Most Wanted, so you have something to read, and of course there will also be regular updates on the latest developments in the gaming world.

Metro: Last Light review

Metro Last Light reviewIt’s predecessor was developed on a small budget, but was nevertheless one heck of a game and was very popular among gamers, both on consoles and PC. Due to this success, the Ukrainian studio 4A Games was allowed to spend more money on the developing process of Metro: Last Light, which is highly noticeable because the metro and Moskou look better than ever before, making even the most powerful PCs weep.

Metro: Last Light is a story-driven game, so don’t expect any multiplayer or co-op features (although multiplayer will come next year as a free DLC), but this isn’t bad at all, as some Call of Duty fanboys might be yelling right now. If there isn’t a multiplayer it means the entire developing time was put into creating a great storyline, which is, in my opinion, still the biggest part of any videogame and a fantastic story can melt away all the little flaws in graphical performance and gameplay. The story in Metro LL is about the same guy in 2033, Artyom, who blew up the entire population of Dark Ones who dwelled on the surface after the nuclear war. Of course, Metro 2033 had different endings, but Last Light takes place in the reality where all the Dark Ones were eradicated by a couple of Warheads, sent in by Artyom. At least, everyone thought they were all dead, but a baby Dark One managed to get away from the blast and survived, but after this he got spotted by Kahn, one of Artyoms friends, causing Artyom to be sent to the surface to REALLY kill every Dark One now. Because he is still a newbie Ranger, some girl named Anna gets sent along with you for a trip to the ruins of what was once Moskou.

Spoilers start here (ending not revealed).

When you have chased the little Dark One for awhile, you get captured by a Neo-Nazi patrol, which drags you to their base, where they want to execute you, after they checked you for abnormalities (the Nazis want to purify the Metro by killing everyone that has a skull that’s formed differently than their standards describe), but you manage to escape together with some Red Line officer. This guy, Pavel, helps you escape, after which he gets captured again and you rescue him from the scaffold. Although he had already helped you and you rescued him, Pavel eventually screws you over and takes you to the Red Line encampment, where you get interrogated by some guy that looks like a chubby Hitler (he’s not one of the Neo-Nazis, though). You get freed by “Hitler’s” son, because he doesn’t want to be like his father, and you flee back to the Rangers. However, there is a traitor called Lesnitsky, who is working together with the Red Line. He wants to help the communists unleash a deadly virus in the Metro, which will kill anyone that hasn’t got a gas mask on. The virus will then stop working after 3 days and the Red Line will be able to put their masks off and rule the entire Metro. I won’t spoil how it continues, because that would take me too far into details. You’ll just have to play it yourself if you want to know how the story ends.

Spoilers end here.

Last Light runs on the 4A engine, the same one 2033 was based on, but there have been some major tweaks to the performance, causing the game to look super slick, even on consoles. Also, the Nvidia PhysX software makes environments even more realistic by adding wind effects and hard object interaction (e.g. debris coming out of the wall when you shoot it). On the console version the PhysX have been scaled down due to the outdated hardware.

In the future, 4 DLC packs will become available, said to run through the storyline from a different perspective, allowing you to play with other people than Artyom. 4A Games also has some plans to make a multiplayer part and giving it as a free download to everyone who owns the game (compare with the Sniper Elite V2 multiplayer pack). This expansion will probably be released somewhere in November, so don’t get rid of the game yet if you have completed the campaign.

In the metro you’ll be able to shoot with a lot of different weapons. You have shotguns, assault rifles, pressure guns, dart guns, pistols and snipers, all of which you have to buy with military rounds. There’s a wide variety of attachments too. If you want to pimp out your revolver with a stock, longer barrel, a laser and a sight, that’s completely possible because there’s no limit as to how many things you can put on a gun. As long as you don’t want 2 sights, everything’s possible, because, after all, were in Soviet Russia, where the guns put attachments on you (what did you expect? This is a game entirely set in Russia, so I just HAD to put a Soviet Russia joke in it). Also, try to find all of the books and posters by Dmitry Glukhovski, that are hidden in the game. They even advertise his upcoming book, Metro 2035. To survive in the metro, you have a lighter to burn cobwebs and torch some huge spiders, night vision goggles, medkits and a light, which you occasionally have to recharge by cranking a handle on a portable power generator.

Metro: Last Light is one of those few games that can really stick to you. You have the feeling you’re watching a movie and you want to keep playing until you reach the end, but then you’re a bit sad because it’s over. You can’t really derive from the ending if there will be a sequel, but I sure hope so.

(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and PC)

Injustice: Gods Among Us review

Injustice Gods Among UsThe newest-released work of the team that created Mortal Kombat is a blast. If you liked arcade games, you ‘ll like this as well. If you like action games, this is the game for you. If you have strong thumbs and are a hardcore gamer that isn’t really interested in the storyline, but just wants to play the game to become better at it, then you will definitely want this. Injustice: Gods Among Us puts superhero power in the palms of your hands.

For the story, I’m going to keep it short, because there’s really not that much to say. The DC superheroes (Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow etc.) are fighting some of the villains, of whom the Joker has a nuclear bomb. In order to stop him, a couple of heroes make a dash towards the detonator, but somehow they disrupt some space-time continuum and they teleport to another dimension. In this alternate reality, the nuke didn’t set off, but the Joker had later on poisoned Superman, who then killed his family. Afterwards he sought revenge and became evil because he had destroyed Metropolis and killed so many people. Superman then turned a few other heroes for his cause and it is now the goal of the superheroes to free Metropolis and then return to their own reality.

Injustice is truly great to play. The attacks are so varied, but for every character the combo list stays the same because every character has about the same attacks, but in many different forms. For instance: the ranged attack of Harley Quinn is just a pistol, but Batman’s attack does something totally different. He grabs people with his bat-grapple, then jumps toward the enemy and kicks him or her away. The fighting game is made with an extremely modified version of Unreal Engine 3, causing everything to look smoother and better than in the Mortal Kombat that released in 2011. Along with normal moves, every character also has a super move, which can only be triggered when the bar in the bottom corner is completely filled. These cause a lot of damage, but can be avoided by jumping or blocking. The dynamic surroundings make everything feel more like a real fight between superheroes. The ground shatters, debris falls down and objects shake heavily with every punch. Some of the objects can also be used to damage your opponent, so it’s important to keep an eye out for the icon that says you can do something with the environment.

There’s a wide array of characters. In total there are 12 heroes and 12 villains, all plucked from the DC Universe, but there are still 4 additional characters coming, of whom the first one is Lobo. The 12 standard heroes are the Flash, Nightwing, Batman, Cyborg, Green Arrow, Superman, Raven, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Shazam and the Green lantern. In the camp of the villains you have the Joker, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Deathstroke, Ares, Killer Frost, Doomsday, Sinestro, Black Adam and Bane. These characters are all playable and have extra unlockable skins. Injustice also features some gamemodes. You can play through the story, battle a string of enemies in Battles, complete a couple of small missions in S.T.A.R. labs or fight other people in the multiplayer in King of the Hill or standard Versus mode. The S.T.A.R. labs have 10 missions per character, all with a little storyline of it’s own. So in total you have 240 missions, but if you pre-ordered, you got 20 extra challenges. The XP you earn through the story or the labs missions count to your level in multiplayer as well, which will help you a lot if you’re not that good yet. If you want some extra skins for the game or if you’re on a budget and are still saving up for it, you can also download the free mobile game, in which you can unlock various items from skins to portrait cards for multiplayer. You can get it here.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is fun and entertaining because of all the different characters and gamemodes, but it’s hard to master at first if you’ve never played fighting games before. However, with a bit of determination, you can become good at it and like it more than ever.

(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and Wii U)

Assassin’s Creed review

ImageThe in the meantime already fifth part of the massively popular Assassin’s Creed-series hit the bullseye. The elaborate story, the extra sidequests and the multiplayer are all proof of the fact that Ubisoft knows how to make a game.

The protagonist is the native American boy Ratonhaké:ton, better known as Connor, who witnessed the death of his mother, who died in the fire that destroyed their village. The one to blame for this is the British colonist Haytham, a Templar, who wants to steal the land of the native Americans. 9 years after the tragic death of his mother, Connor becomes a member of the Assassins with the help of an old man called Achilles, who lives in the woods between Boston and New York. Because Haytham is a Templar and Connor an Assassin, it’s obvious they want each other dead.

In terms of gameplay AC3 stays faithful to its predecessors by keeping the feeling and look of them. Connor runs, jumps, dives and fights almost the same as his ancestors, but the movements were made a little smoother. Under the surface there were of course a lot more improvements. The game now runs on the AnvilNext-engine instead of the Anvil-engine. With the new engine you can generate massive areas who change over time. This way you can add seasons and tell a story over a larger period of time. The engine also makes it possible to have more NPCs running around, so there can be huge battles with hundreds of NPCs, who were made smarter, too.

There have been some upgrades to your weapons arsenal as well. You now have a bow to kill enemies silently from a distance, a tomahawk to fight or kill silently, and some more gadgets like snares to hang enemies from trees. A fun addition to the game is the fact that you can occasionally take a break from the Civil War and go hunting for some skins, which you can sell to receive money so you can buy new weapons. The hunting can be made as complicated as you want. If you use traps and bait or not (if you just want to run after some animals), the choice is yours. In order to get better skins you will have to use less damaging weapons like the hidden blade. This will get you more money for the loot.

When you’ve completed the story and some sidequests, there isn’t much to do anymore, unfortunately. But here’s where the multiplayer comes in. The maps vary greatly in types of locations and weather circumstances, forcing you to use a different strategy on every map if you want to achieve high scores. In the beginning the multiplayer may seem confusing because of all the new stuff they put in, but once you get the hang of it, you’re lost for hours. On xbox 360 the multiplayer is on a second disc, due to the lack of a blue-ray reader, but on PS3 and PC everything comes on one disc.

Although Assassin’s Creed 3 isn’t as good as AC2, it’s still a very fun game with good graphics and gameplay. If you can overlook the slimy patriotism that emerges from time to time, this is a must-have for every Assassin’s Creed fan.

(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and PC)

Far Cry 3 review

July 9th, 2012 @ 04:56:41On the E3 convention of 2012 it got the prize of best shooter and it was also nominated for a couple of other awards. According to many critics, Far Cry 3 is the game of the generation because of its intriguing story filled with sudden plot twists, a huge and very detailed open world and the sturdy multiplayer and co-op.

You play as Jason Brody, a young fella from California who gets captured along with his friends after a skydive onto a pirate infested island. One of the leaders, a psycho named Vaas, locks you, your two brothers and your friends up with the intention to sell you all into slavery. Somehow you manage to escape and with the support of the Rakyat, a rebel group that fights against the tyranny of Vaas, you go on a search for your brother and friends.

The sandbox that is Far Cry 3 is the prime example of what a powerful engine and a team of dedicated people can do. The Dunia 2-engine is capable of mimicking different weather circumstances and letting these influence the world. Another function of Dunia 2 is the very realistic face capturing software, which makes sure you see every emotion on the faces of the NPCs and thus makes the conversations really believable. The use of very bright colors also strengthens the feeling of a tropical island and the gun flashes look better than in any other game.

To map pieces of the islands you will have to climb radio towers. By doing this you also get free weapons in the stores. There are many weapons to use, varying from pistols to LMGs and there are even some special weapons, like a bow. The flare gun and flamethrower both make a comeback. Every weapon has a couple of color schemes and on the more powerful weapons you can also put some attachments. These don’t become free by activating towers, so you’ll have to buy them. In between the story missions there are some sidequests for you to complete as well, like killing camp leaders and delivering packages. If you liberate an outpost, this location can be used for fast travel so you can get to things quickly, but normal travelling on the island is more fun because then you can discover cool things like temples and caves. For normal travel there’s a wide assortment of vehicles like a jet ski, a boat, a jeep, a car, a hang glider etc.

Then there’s the multiplayer. There are 4 gamemodes: Team Deathmatch, Firestorm, Transmission and Domination. These modes are all playable on the official maps of the game, but with the level editor you can create your own as well and you’re also able to play on the maps of other users, if they choose to upload theirs. Besides competitive multiplayer you’ve also got co-op. Team up with 1, 2 or 3 other players and fight your way through a completely different story than the singleplayer. The XP you earn here is used for the normal multiplayer too.

Out of this all we can conclude that Far Cry 3 is one of the best games of the year and maybe even of the decade. If you haven’t got this game yet, now is the time to run to your local games retailer and buy it. Even though the story is pretty raw, you should definitely play this one all the way to the end.

(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and PC)