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Dirt 3 Review [PS3]

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Game Reviews

Dirt 3 is Codemasters’ latest off-road racing game, following up 2009’s Colin McRae: Dirt 2. While legendary rally racer McRae has been dropped from the title, Dirt 3 marks a return to the series’ rallying roots.

True to form, the action is split across several off-road disciplines, including rally, rallycross, trailblazer, landrush and head-to-head modes. These races take place across lushly detailed stages, from the snowy wilds of Norway to the sun baked roads of Kenya. These disparate locales are newly enhanced with weather effects and night driving, which transform familiar courses into untested tracks that you’d be foolish to take at full speed, not least because you’d be missing the visuals.

Dirt’s big draw isn’t the scenery though; instead it’s the clever driving model which convincingly captures the thrill of barely-in-control off-road racing for newcomers and veterans alike, letting you feel your car squirm around every slick corner and bounce over every bump.Continue reading

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Magicka PC Review

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When PC gamers hear the phrase action RPG, one series immediately springs to mind: Diablo. The classic Blizzard titles re-energised the tired RPG market of the late nineties with their heavy combat focus and streamlined plot and character interaction. They also spawned dozens of similar games, from Greek fantasy Titan Quest, to tactical Dungeon Siege, to cheap and cheerful Torchlight. While these games kept the same core mechanics of click-heavy combat, randomised loot and specialised characters, Arrowhead Game Studios’ Magicka takes a much more creative approach, stripping out the RPG elements and adding some adventure.Continue reading

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MechWarrior Retrospective: The Future is Hawken

The first multiplayer game I really got into was an odd one – Microsoft’s MechWarrior series. If you haven’t played it, it’s basically a game in which you pilot a massive robotic walker, called a ‘mech, armed with a judicious amount of firepower. Unlike most FPS games of the time, there was a high level of customisability; given a maximum tonnage, you had to balance engine power, armour and weapons to make your perfect fighting machine. You could act as a sniper, taking down enemies from kilometers away with banks of missiles shot forty at a time, or get in close and rip your opponent’s legs off with a well aimed autocannon shot.Continue reading

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Homefront PC Multiplayer Review

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Last week I reviewed Homefront’s singleplayer campaign, and this week it’s time for the other side of the coin: Homefront’s multiplayer.

You’d be excused for thinking Homefront’s multiplayer looks pretty much like that of any other current gen shooter: Thirty-two players on two teams, armed with the standard variety of modern-day firearms, vehicles and perks, let loose to fight over control points or just rack up the kills. Look a little closer though, and behind ingredients plucked from Call of Duty or Battlefield you’ll see some sweeter streaks that are all Homefront’s own.

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Homefront PC Singleplayer Review

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Homefront’s opening cinematic outlines the game’s uncomfortably plausible premise: an opportunistic North Korea takes advantage of an America weakened by avian flu, skyrocketing oil prices and civil unrest to expand its holdings in Asia, then launches an attack on the American homeland itself. It’s a grim picture, ably penned by Apocalypse Now writer John Milius, and is well represented through the cleverly edited news footage that describes Korea’s expansion, attack, and later occupation of mainland America.

The game proper begins in occupied Montrose, Colorado with a Half Life style bus ride, where the horrors faced by the invaded become abundantly clear: those that can work are shipped to labour camps and those that resist are brutally terminated. The exposition is soon punctuated by a ham-handed rescue by the American resistance force, who want to use your skills as a pilot to help the beleaguered remnants of the US Army.

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Dragon Age 2 PC Review

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Dragon Age: Origins was a game I loved and spent many days playing through. The subtle nuances of combat, skills, talents and items hearkened back to the early days of computer role playing games, which themselves weren’t so different from the RPGs of the tabletop. Yet for all the weight of these RPG roots, Origins was of the new school of Bioware, following the traditions of the space-faring Mass Effect – streamlined combat, well voiced and believable characters, and a mature plot. Released after Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age 2 follows much the same trajectory, eschewing the heavier RPG elements to achieve a much more streamlined experience than the first game.Continue reading

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

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Denam and his troops strode into the Phorampa Wildwood, their brows thick with sweat after two difficult battles against the creatures of the forest. The beasts attacked with depressing regularity, always coming as the voiceless commander from above ordered them into the next zone. What creatures would be the next to fight against them? The question was always in the forefront of Denam’s mind, just ahead of why he always seemed to be deployed with all-female warriors when all of the interesting story characters were male… As he reached the summit of the hill, he heard a voice boom out from the heavens.

TO BATTLE!

Damn.

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Battlefield 2142 Retrospective

Battlefield 2142 holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first shooter I was any good at. I’d been playing the Battlefield series since 1942, but I never had a fast enough (read: non-dialup) internet connection to support online play. In 1942 I used to play at infrequent LAN parties at the houses of my friends. It was amazingly good fun, full of wing riding and jeep ramming, but only happened for a few hours a year.

When Battlefield 2 was released, I saved up my money and eventually was able to purchase it. Even though most of my friends had upgraded to broadband internet around this time, I lived so far away from the nearest town that no broadband would reach me. I used to go over to my friend’s houses to play it, staying up long into the night because I knew that when I returned home I’d be back to playing the lifeless singleplayer. I really relished the time I spent with my friends playing Battlefield 2, but eventually it came to an end when I had to leave the U.S. for university in England.

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Nimbus Review

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It begins like many other games — the adversary appears, snatches your girl, and runs away laughing. You raise your fist to the sky, and vow to get her back. This time though, you’re not a sword-wielding hero or a manic plumber. You’re a small brown spaceship. Your girl is a pink spaceship. And the adversary is, of course, a giant floating eyeball spaceship. So begins Nimbus, a 2D puzzle-racing game from Swedish indie developers Noumenon available on Steam.

In the game, you have to fly your spaceship past spiky traps and solve physics-based puzzles to reach the end of the level as quickly as possible. While you’re free to take the level at your own pace, the faster you complete the stage, the higher you’ll be ranked on the game’s leaderboards so if you’re at all competitive you’re likely to take the course at breakneck speed. This requires quick reflexes and often quite a few retries, but the levels are well-balanced and checkpoints are frequent, so it tends to be an addictive rather than frustrating experience. The solid gameplay is well served by the cheerful graphics and fitting retro soundtrack, making Nimbus a fun game that’s hard to put down.Continue reading