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Ninja Gaiden 3

I have to say I have always been a fan of Tecmo Koei, but this game destroyed my faith in them.

Ninja Gaiden 3 is probably the most annoying game released by Tecmo Koei. Before I got this game, I avoided listening to any criticism that the title received and any comments from any form of sources. However, upon playing this game I came to realise I had wasted my money. Ninja Gaiden 3 is suppose to be the third game in the series and I chose my words carefully. Suppose. Are you serious? This game tried to steal ideas from what appeared to be Metal Gear Rising. This game was no longer a Ninja Gaiden game! The game that I used to love had changed. There are no weapon upgrades, there are no recovery items and there are no Nippon items.
Publisher: Team Ninja
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Platforms: PlayStation 3(Reviewed), Xbox 360
Release Date: March 23rd 2012
Rating: 18 (BBFC), 18 (PEGI)

The game is split into several days. The idea is that you have a certain number of days to save the world from destruction. The player plays through the game, slaughtering enemies with your sword as well as your bow and arrow – which I may add is the most unbalanced weapon ever. You can go through the game shooting people with the bow which explodes, allowing you to mash the shooting button without making too much of an effort. But don’t worry guys, if you need a health boost you can just use your Nippon and take out enemies. This ultimately leads to your health being restored. It’s unbalanced as the Nippon now annihilates every enemy in the area. The Ninja Gaiden game, which used to be about skill, has turned into nothing but a hack and slash, and figuring out a basic pattern with the bosses so that you can beat them easily. There’s little challenge.
The protagonist of Ninja Gaiden 3 will always have the same attitude and same personality. He hasn’t changed and will always be a likeable character. His choices and attitude makes him a good character to play and watch. However, the other characters were even more entertaining. I personally enjoyed watching some of the characters making a fool of themselves.
Oh that’s right.  A lot of this game happens to be focused around video clips. You spend a lot of time listening to mission briefs and watching Ryu struggle with a curse that he is given at the very start of the game. But the thing is this curse apparently makes him stronger? Good curse, right? Given enough time you can just press triangle to use your ultimate attack and defeat six or seven enemies. When could you ever do this on any other Ninja Gaiden games!? I’ll give them some credit though, there are some quick time events in the clips which makes you want to pay attention but even if you fail the quick time event will always be the same.
Alright let’s talk about the graphics here. I have to admit they were pretty decent. I would have to say the faces were beautiful an I loved the look of the female characters. The backgrounds were pretty decent as well, but the most annoying thing were the cars in the game. Now call me picky but these were just stupid and poorly rendered. They didn’t look like PlayStation 3 graphics at all. They looked more like they came from the Nintendo 64! The front of the war was just blurry and looked messy it ruined it.
In all fairness, I might have expected too much from this game as I have always been a fan of the Ninja Gaiden games. This game just upset me. Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn’t deserve a purchase at full price. I suggest either waiting till the game is cheap or just renting the game. It’s just not worth playing at full price.
Ninja gaiden scores 5/10. It was completed on Hard Difficulty,without any downloadable content installed.
(The review is entirely subjective and should not be considered fact. This review is the author’s opinion and nothing more. Feel free to discuss the review in the comments below, but try to keep it civil. You are also entitled to an opinion that may differ from the author, and don’t forget this!)

Bargain Exchange: Steam Summer Sale Day 2

Steam Logo for Steam Summer Sale Bargain Exchange feature.

Where’s my next Steam Summer Sale post? It’s nearly day three and I’ve still to get Gaming Advance’s sale guide! What can I do?! Well, have no fear, for Today’s Deals continue on until mid-day tomorrow. The reason for the delay in this post is, frankly, my lack of enthusiasm for the titles on sale today. Let’s take a look.

Sonic Generations Header from Steam for Bargain Exchange

To start us off, Sonic Generations by SEGA is on sale at a -66% discount. Considering the PC version (and superior version might I add) was cheaper, this is a pretty good discount. In all honesty, this is probably my most favourite Sonic game for the past two decades. Considering his reputation, that wouldn’t be too hard, but Sonic Generations was an absolutely fantastic and fun title that even manages to resolve the issues many had with 3D Sonic. This is one that I recommend. You can view Totalbiscuit’s WTF is Sonic Generations here.

Binding of Isaac logo for Bargain Exchange on Steam Summer Sale

Next up, we have The Binding of Isaac. Whilst being a relatively creepy game – maybe the creepiest since I started gaming – with extremely dark religious themes, The Binding of Isaac is a great Adventure game of similar style to the original Legend of Zelda game.  It’s already incredibly cheap, and so the -75% discount makes this worth picking up even just to give the game a try. I will add, however, that the game may be too much for some people. A review can be found here. This is another title that I recommend.

Payday the Heist Logo for Bargain Exchange on Gaming Advance

Gaming fans of the co-op experience may want to pick up Payday The Heist, developed by OVERKILL software, with its 75% discount. Players group together to rob from a bank and escape. The whole experience is said to be similar to Left4Dead. Whilst I don’t have the game, I do hear a lot of great things about it. If that type of experience interests you, it’s a title that I recommend. You can find a review here.

SpaceMarine logo for Steam Summer Sale on Bargain Exchange feature

Coming to the end of the best of the offers, Warhammer 40k: SpaceMarine is heavily discounted at 75% off.  The game itself is fairly competent, albeit extremely linear. The combat works out pretty well, as does the melee; however fans of the lore may find the occasional problem. I did enjoy this game, but I find it hard to go back and finish it. That being said, at the price it’s going for I would say that it is worth picking up. It does a good job at making you feel strong and invincible, and it can be a blast. You can find the WTF is SpaceMarine here. I suggest this title, should you enjoy third person shooters.

Lastly, we have Tribes: Ascend. I know, I know. Tribes: Ascend by Hi-Rez Studios is a freemium game, meaning that it’s a free PC download. The developers are funded solely by micro-transactions. The starter pack is available for a 75% discount and delivers bonuses that I heavily recommend anyone adopting the game to purchase. It’s always nice to tip the developers, as well. Tribes: Ascend is an absolutely brilliant first-person shooter that is widely regarded as the best PC FPS game currently on the market. It’s the best game on offer today. If you’re a PC gamer (and I’d assume you are if you are reading this), you must have Tribes: Ascend. It takes FPS gaming on the PC to a new level. You can find a review here.

As for what remains, most of them are good titles. I do suggest that you wait for another sale to pick them up, as they are not discounted enough to be worthwhile picking up in a Steam sale.You’ll undoubtedly see them even more heavily discounted in six months time during the winter sale. If you haven’t picked them up by now, then there’s no harm in waiting that little bit longer, is there?

Brand New PS3 Model?

New PlayStation 3 Model at 16GB, 250GB and 500GB

Images of a brand new PlayStation 3 model have been uploaded on a Portuguese website named Tecnoblog. The new models come in three flavours. We have the 16GB version, 250GB version and 500GB version. This will be the fourth series of PlayStation 3 releases, and appear to be currently available in black. It is unknown whether they will be released in alternative colours.

Alternative image views of the new PlayStation 3 model

It currently doesn’t look too appealing to me, but then this might still just be an early prototype. If anything, however, it does remind me of the most recent PlayStation Portable release which looked like it had been put together with glue and tape. I can’t see anything for the discs to slide in either, so perhaps the ridged section on the front of the body is where we’ll place our discs? 

It currently looks like a budget build, but it will also feature the largest hard drive capacity of any PlayStation system sold at retail to date. What do you guys think of this one? I personally can’t see myself gaming on this one.

It’s near the end of this console generation, and while Microsoft will be releasing a relatively nice looking Halo 4 skinned Xbox 360, Sony may be releasing this ugly looking device. It is rumoured that it will be announced formally at Gamescom next month.

Trailer: Return to Unova

Pokemon Black and White 2 image for brand new trailer on Gaming Advance

Whoops, a little late with this, but here’s the brand new English trailer for upcoming Pokémon titles Black Version 2 and White Version 2. The game sees a return to the Unova region previously visited in the last Pokémon adventure, and will be released on the DS platform this year in October (5th for US, 12th for EU). Trying not to be a complete rehash, the game will also feature brand new areas. Take a look at the trailer below.

Looks like I’ll still be returning to gaming on my DS.

Bargain Exchange: Steam Summer Sale Day 1

Steam Logo for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

The Steam Summer Sale needs little introduction. Every year, for the past three, Steam have delivered some incredible sales. The format is relatively simple. A massive selection from their enormous catalogue will be reduced in price, with a smaller selection of nine titles reduced even more as ‘Today’s Deals’. This year sees an addition to this daily deal – the Flash Sales.

The Flash Sales collect an even smaller number of titles than anything in Today’s Deals. Furthermore, these titles are also on sale for a shorter period of time than the Daily Deals. This means that users will have to check even more regularly for new sales. This covers even more ground than the previous sales. I won’t be looking at Flash Sales, as they get outdated far too fast; however, each day I will be writing a brief article for each daily deal which will explain the titles on sale and link the reader to a review or first impression of that title – should there be one available.

Total War Shogun 2 Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

Today’s Deals include Total War SHOGUN 2, published by SEGA and developed by The Creative Assembly; Shogun 2 is the latest in the popular Total War franchise comprised of very high quality Real-Time Strategy games. The title itself is 75% off, but you can get the game and both expansion packs in a collection at 67% off the already discounted price. Shogun 2 is a game I absolutely adore. It’s beautiful, it’s very well crafted, and it has tons to do. It’s well worth the price. I heavily suggest getting this game.

Terraria Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

Next on my most noticeable list is Terraria, a side scrolling platformer with treasure hunting and building game developed by indie developer Re-Logic. A personal favourite, Terraria is selling at a 75% discount leading me to state that if you haven’t already purchased this game then do so now. In the UK, the discounted price is a measly £1.50. It’s dirt cheap, and well worth it. I managed to rack a good eighty hours in the game.

Portal 2 Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

Not to be ignored, both Valve-developed Portal titles are on offer for 75% off. A game with little need for introduction amongst gamers, Portal has spawned countless memes and took the gaming world by storm. Both Portals are physics-based puzzle games which involve the player placing portals to reach the exit for each test. The game is fantastic, even for those not usually interested in puzzle games. That being said, it still shares the same frustrations as well. We actually have our own Portal 2 review.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

Probably the most popular video game title to be released, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 is on sale for 50% off. Developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t fail to live up to expectations. The expectations that it’s the same game as the previous lot. If you enjoyed it, you’ve probably already picked it up. If you haven’t gotten the game yet, I would avoid picking it up for now. A 50% discount is good, but it’s relatively poor in a Steam sale. Bide your time more. It will get cheaper yet.

Crusader Kings II Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

We also have Crusader Kings II by Paradox Interactive. Whilst a game I have yet to pick up and will not pick up this time, my excuse is that I have a heavily limited budget for the sale this year. It’s a strategy game that is meant to be incredibly good, but of course this information is second hand.

Legend of Grimrock Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

The last noticeable thing, as far as I’m concerned, is Almost Human Games’ title: The Legend of Grimrock. Grimrock sees a return to the old-school approach to the first-person Role-Playing Game genre. I’ve just picked the title up, so I can’t really comment on how well it plays but it’s praised as an absolutely fantastic and brilliant game. If you have any interest in the RPG genre, this game is one you should pick up, apparently. That was enough for me. 

Might and Magic Heroes VI Header on Steam for Bargain Exchange of Steam Summer Sale on Gaming Advance

That’s really it for any mentions I feel compelled to make. Ridge Racer Unbounded looks like it could be fun, but severely lacks content and I still feel it’s unlikely to be worth the 50% discount. Might and Magic Heroes VI is also widely considered a disappointing title and so I’ve been given the word to avoid it. I intend to share this advice with you guys. Avoid it.

The final title in Today’s Deals happens to be an indie bundle. The only title included in the bundle that I would absolutely recommend would be Cave Story+. Still, in the UK the bundle goes for £7 and includes five games. I’d still reckon that’s worth picking up if you enjoy indie games. There’s not really any real excuse there.

Review: Portal 2

You wake up in that familiar room once again, requested to do your exercises to ensure that you are in top condition. The room is inside the Aperture Science labs, deep underground. You are a test subject, but have not been awoken in years. However many years, you are unsure. This time, however, the room is a mess. The lights are out, and everything is everywhere. Someone knocks on your door. An unfamiliar voice.

It turns out to be an AI named Wheatley, who tries to help you escape. After making your way passed what remains of your enemy, GLaDOS, you accompany Wheatley down stairs to try and open up an exit. He activates her. GLaDOS awakens, and she is angry. But it’s okay. She’s going to put everything behind her, for science. You monster.

Chell and GLaDOS return in Portal 2, and GLaDOS is more antagonistic than ever. Every trial is also an attempt to kill you, but you have no choice but to move forward. Portal 2 is the sequel to Portal, a popular and famous game for its quirky, humour and unique puzzle mechanic. Unfortunately, the original was practically just a tech demo. Portal 2 is an attempt to make the title a truly complete game, and what it accomplishes is nothing short.

Publisher: Valve
Developers: Valve
Release Date: 21st April 2011
Rated: 12 (PEGI)
Platforms:  PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Windows, OSX

Upon my initial play through of Portal 2, I was instantly stunned by the incredibly structured narrative. For a sequel to a title that completely lacked it, Portal 2 is particularly impressive. Whilst the story is still essentially just Chell being put through scientific tests (for an unknown purpose) and trying to escape, the execution is incredible.

The humour is more frequent, and a lot more funny. Portal’s sense of humour can be hit-or-miss, as I know people that also severely dislike it. That being said, the numbers of people that dislike it are far and few between, but it seems to me that you either love the game’s sense of humour … or loathe it.

Not a single line of dialogue in the game is wasted, either used for the humour or for character development. The characters themselves are very strong. Chell is still rather mute and bland, but GLaDOS is still absolutely rich in personality. Accompanying the cast of the previous title is Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant, who does an incredible job as the little personality core. Both GLaDOS and Wheatley have their own arcs, as well as the initial act of the game serving as to establish the characters.

Despite being AI, these characters grow and progress through-out the game as they experience situations beyond their purpose or expectations. I don’t want to spoil anything, but both characters feel very real, unique, and are, simply, just very strong characters. It is very rare to be confronted with such incredibly strong characters within a video game, with such real development.

The game is split into three acts. The first act serves as a re-establishment of the cast and setting, as well as the introduction to new characters. The second act develops the relationship between Chell and GLaDOS, GLaDOS herself, and gives closure on Aperture Science’s wacky history. The third, and final, act covers the end of Wheatley’s development, while concluding the story for both titles.

While the second act is possibly the strongest narratively, it is also the weakest for gameplay. The game has a rather repetitive formula, with Chell entering a room, successfully solving the puzzle, and then taking the elevator to the next room. The game avoids making this boring by changing things up frequently, but upon entering the second act the different trials of the game become longer and more tedious.

Each particular series of chambers focus on a specific mechanic. Upon beating these chambers, the player is tasked with solving puzzles with another mechanic. Some examples are beams of light that one can walk on (called Hard Light Surfaces), firing lasers into the appropriate place or an Excursion Funnel that beams you in one direction. Meanwhile, the second act involves the use of three different kind of gels (jumping properties, momentum increasing properties, and “stick-Portal-anywhere” properties). These gels can make the gameplay very fun, but feel very misplaced as the main focus of a test. As this also feels like the longest section, it becomes to get tedious nearer to the end of the act.

The game also features a wider variety of environments than the previous title. The facility begins in ruin and slowly gets fixed back to the clinical appearance of the original, but then things are changed as the player is forced into the underground section. The player also gets to explore more of the facility outside of the chambers as well. Graphically, the game looks better than the first too, despite using the same engine. It looks great and plays great.

Portal 2 is also an audible improvement upon the previous title. The voice acting is just as good, if not better, and the soundtrack is even more memorable. I actually spent time within one puzzle trying to stay on the red gel (for momentum) simply for the track that plays as you speed up. As per the previous title, Portal 2 also sports a humorous ending track. The track, titled “Want You Gone”, isn’t quite as quotable as the previous “Still Alive”, but it sounds and plays better.

Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant, is a loveable moron new to the franchise.
With a lifespan of five to seven hours on the campaign alone, Portal 2 lasts long enough for a standard first-person campaign run; however, it also comes accompanied with a co-op mode with its own unique story and humour. Co-op stems over five different courses, each with a purpose. The co-op also contains some funny gestures for the two protagonists: P-body and Atlus (both robots). While it is about as strong, narratively, as the previous title, it makes up for this by having the more complex and challenging puzzles of the game. The standard lifespan for the co-op mode is about four hours.

Furthermore, Valve plan to continue to release new updates and maps for the game to enhance replayability even more. As an added bonus, players on the PS3 or PC edition are able to play with each other online thanks to Steam crossing over with PSN.

While Portal 2 isn’t as groundbreaking as the original, it is everything that the original should have been. It is a complete package and an unforgettable experience. The game deserves a retail purchase from anyone. This title is a great addition to anyone’s library and highly recommended; however, it is not for those who dislike  the concept of physics-based puzzles (perhaps due to the complexity involved) or for those who dislike the humour, as it would become frustrating.

As such, Portal 2 earns a solid 9/10. It’s an amazing title that should not be missed. It has been refined and polished so neatly, and is absolutely unforgettable. A brilliant experience to be had by all.

Preview: Catherine

Nightmare Screenshot of Catherine for Gaming Advance Preview.

As a title that has interested me for a while, Catherine hasn’t failed in keeping me entertained so far. The game seems rich in substance, with seemingly strong underlying themes behind the gameplay. In Catherine, developed by Atlus, you play as Vincent as he finds himself entangled in a mess when his long-time partner, Katherine, becomes pregnant. Meanwhile he finds himself cheating on her with the beautiful blonde Catherine.

The title itself is a puzzle platformer. The player must re-arrange various blocks to climb the tower. Whilst simple in theory, it’s designed well enough to be quite challenging and can require various different creative approaches to the task. Each stage also has a boss phase at the end, where the player must outrun the enemy who will be on the attack.
Outside of the platforming sections, the player gets to interact with NPC’s to explore their own tale to help push them to survive the nightmares in which the platforming takes place. The player may also interact with Katherine and Catherine via texts while being able to modify each sentence to affect Vincent’s attitude towards them. 
The story itself seems to feature a good sense of humour in how it handles the awkward and difficult scenarios that Vincent is put through, while developing the characters enough to like him despite his affair. There are scenes where Vincent changes how he acts based upon how you’ve approached his situation so far, but I’ve yet to experience the differences myself. 
The game is so far quite fun, and makes time fly by (a bit too fast, I might add). There’s a multiplayer component I’ve yet to try out too, but so far the game has been pretty fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing how the tale ends.