Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered Announced For PS4, XBOX ONE, SWITCH and PC – Mass Hysteria!

Mad Dog Games and developer Saber Interactive have announced Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It is due to launch in 2019.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered delivers a unique story from franchise creators Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Billed as the spiritual sequel to Ghostbusters 2,  Ghostbusters: The Video Game captures the comedic fun and fright the franchise is beloved for. This remastered release coincides with the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters this year.

You play a new rookie on the Ghostbusters team, teaming up with characters from the films, which reunites the voices of Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson as Stantz, Spengler, Venkman and Zeddemore. Alongside them are Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), Brian Doyle-Murray (Psychiatrist in GB 2), William Atherton (Walter Peck), and Max von Sydow as the voice of Vigo the Carpathian.

With Manhattan being overrun once more by ghosts, demons, and other paranormal creatures unleashed by a mysterious force, the Ghostbusters must save the day. Only they can drive this evil back to whence it came.

The third-person viewpoint makes for hunting, zapping and trapping a variety of new and familiar ghouls and phantasms. Cool tools such as the Paragoggles and P.K.E Meter are also on hand to can and analyse spooks and demons. Then its time to strap on the Proton Pack to capture your foes in the Proton beam, ready for trapping. Enemies push and pull for freedom within the entrapment of the Proton Beam, and it is your job to force them into submission and into the Ghost Traps.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game was originally a multi-format release 10 years ago. The Xbox 360/PS3 version is the one remastered here, with life-like animated visuals of Peter Venkman and company, and a great script too. If sources are to be believed, Bill Murray was championed with ensuring that all the cast members got an equal share of screen time.

After just a few minutes in, it is apparent that Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a heartfelt piece of Ghostbusters canon straight from the creators. This very welcome remaster will serve as an excellent addition to the catalogues of the current console generation.

 

 

Journey into Mistwalker: Lose Yourself with a Fantasy Genius

Hironobu Sakaguchi could well be considered the Shigeru Miyamoto of JRPG videogames. He created the Final Fantasy video game series; the ‘Final’ meaning his final stab at making a mark on the industry 30 years ago. 4 sequels as director came after that, and also had a hand in the most revered FF titles VI and VII. Sakaguchi went onto direct the box-office bomb that was Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. This consequently led to Sakaguchi voluntarily leaving his presidential position at Square (now Square Enix). In 2004, Sakaguchi founded his own company, Mistwalker.

Back when Microsoft actually cared about the JRPG genre, Mistwalker initially signed up with them to produce exclusive titles for the Xbox 360. 2 of which are possibly the finest JRPG’s for the system: Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey.

Blue Dragon is as traditional a JRPG as you’ll ever come across. A group of heroes set about to save their land from an evil ruler, traversing a massive world and using turn-based combat to defeat foes along the way. It does however boast unique qualities most other RPG’s at the time didn’t have. Blue Dragon was one of the first 3D RPGs released for the 360. It also boasts the unique art style of Akira Toriyama, creator of manga/anime series Dragon Ball. His artistic style and talent is also used in the Dragon Quest video game series. And to polish things off, the soundtrack is delivered from the immense musical talents of Nobou Uematsu, who also left Square to join Mistwalker with Sakaguchi.

Blue Dragon helped boost sales of the Xbox 360 in Japan at its 2006 release, along with game sales of over 167,000 in the first 10 weeks. Although in contrast Japan is an area that arguably Microsoft have now given up on; having only sold around 75,000 Xbox One consoles in total, and barely a JRPG even on the horizon. In it’s lifetime, Blue Dragon has managed around 920,000 unit sales worldwide, with over half of those coming from Japan and Europe.

“Microsoft sold 35,343 Xbox 360s – an increase of nearly 90 per cent over the previous week’s figure of just over 4000 consoles. It’s likely that the rise was linked to the release of Blue Dragon, which was developed by Mistwalker, the studio led by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.”
– Ellie Gibson, Blue Dragon release boosts Xbox 360 sales in Japan, GamesIndustry.biz

Although Blue Dragon has been somewhat criticised for being too-traditional, even old-fashioned, there are some nice touches. For example, the battles are not the often-loathed ‘random’ battles from past Final Fantasy games, but instead induced/avoided by engaging/escaping the on-screen enemies. Hitting them first also gives you the first hit once a battle is initiated. Blue Dragon may not reinvent the wheel, but that does it no harm at all. It comes on 3 discs, and will easily clock up 60 hours+ before reaching the end. Only the most hyped RPG’s of such magnitude would attract the casual western gamer; in comparison the immensely disappointing Final Fantasy XIII managed over 2 million in sales, with over half coming from the US.

Blue Dragon is much the better title, although less-appealing to many on the surface. The cartoon style graphics and action-figure style characters appeal more to anime fans, but the battle elements and grand-adventure style make it an essential Xbox JRPG.

Following on from the success Blue Dragon brought, a franchise was born. An anime series was created, 2 sequels were also developed. This time Mistwalker turned to Nintendo, and Blue Dragon Plus came to pass for the Nintendo DS. This entrant to the series was billed as a real-time simulation RPG. It retains the Toriyama-style visuals that define the series. The series’ transition from 360 to Nintendo’s plucky handheld gives it more of a Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings perspective, a perfect blueprint for its RTS roots. The sequel also retains the characters from the original game, and many of its RPG elements, despite being more of an RTS title. It certainly ranks up there with Revenant Wings, and similar titles Heroes of Mana and Lost Magic.

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Blue Dragon Awakened Shadow followed soon after, not only continuing the real-time strategy elements of its predecessor, but also adopting Dragon Quest IX’s route of allowing creation/customisation of your own lead character.

Mistwalker’s other big release was Lost Odyssey, again for the Xbox 360. Boasting incredible visuals, this 4-disc epic is still a favourite among many an RPG fan, both east and west. For those that were waiting for their Final Fantasy fix at the time, this more than filled the gap. While there have always been varied opinions of Final Fantasy XIII, Lost Odyssey still sits firmly on my gaming shelf where Final Fantasy XIII is hanging on, possibly never to be touched again. Lost Odyssey may have reverted back to the use of random battles, but the battle trigger system (pressing within a time frame to land extra hits) is superior to Blue Dragon’s old school ‘press A and wait’ system, providing more interaction and more reward for doing so.

The story and characters are excellent, providing moments of danger, fear, action, even comedy, and giving the gamer a great sense of empathy to boot. You really feel you are following the journey that Kaim, the lead character, is taking, and will be as determined as he is to find out about his past and how he appears to be immortal.

Following the Nintendo DS releases, Mistwalker stayed with Nintendo, culminating in the production of The Last Story. It proved to be the Nintendo Wii’s swansong RPG, and is now becoming increasingly rare. The Last Story was Sakaguchi’s first title as director since Final Fantasy V, way back in 1992. A Wii exclusive, and still yet to be released on the Wii U’s Virtual Console (please please please), The Last Story is proof that Sakaguchi has definitely still got it. The back story is typical RPG: The Last Story is framed by the ongoing war between humans and the Gurak, set in and around the fantasy setting of Lazulis Island. The story is simple: boy meets girl, gains superpowers and proceeds to save the world. Typical life for a JRPG hero.

However, unlike your typical JRPG that last 60 hours plus, the main story is around the 20-30 hour mark, with no grinding required, as everything happens in real time. Its streamlined controls make it easy to pick up and go, and the action is fast and furious. This, along with co-operative AND multiplayer deathmatch modes, means that Mistwalker certainly have innovated the JRPG over the years, more so than the Final Fantasy series ever has.

Transformers Devastation: Bringing Back Saturday Morning Cartoons

devastation-transIn late 2015, Activision released Transformers Devastation, a brand new Transformers video game. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish), Transformers Devastation did something bold. No, not just creating a decent Transformers game (it is in fact fantastic), but it wasn’t based on any Michael Bay rubbish; instead they went back to the beginning of the franchise: Generation One.

For those not familiar, Generation One was the original Hasbro toy-driven cartoon and comic series that started in 1984. Although it only lasted 3 years, it was a worldwide success that spawned an animated movie that has a huge cult following, and countless now-collectible toys. Although that series ended almost 30 years ago, there have been multiple reimagining’s over the years, and it’s fair to say that the afore-mentioned Michael Bay monstrosities have indeed rekindled the memories of the original (and indeed best) series.

Despite the quite frankly surprising news of a Generation One based video game in the works, I was initially met with mostly scepticism. Transformers videos games largely have a terrible record, as do many series/movie tie-ins, unless Lego appears in the title. The news of Platinum Games as the developers certainly helped alleviate those initial fears; Bayonetta and its sequel are 2 of the best video games to ever grace a television screen, so I became swiftly confident they could deliver. The result is more than meets the eye…..

tf_devastation_teaserPlatinum’s somewhat traditional third-person ‘hack n slash’ formula is adopted well here; incorporating both physical attack combos and artillery-based projectile attacks. There are 5 classic Autobots to choose from, and once you get over the cool factor of being the original Optimus Prime, with his original Peter Cullen voice once again, you soon discover the other characters (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack) have enough variety between them to offer different experiences. Grimlock in particular, in his Dinosaur form, unlike everyone else’s vehicle forms, offers different combos and attacks.

But by far the most amazing factor of Transformers Devastation is the fan service, the nostalgia factor. It is by no means a perfect video game; it doesn’t have the combat depth of Bayonetta, or the consistently flawless backdrops of Vanquish, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel in any other way. But don’t be mistaken into thinking it is a poor game with just great fan service, like many other anime titles.

91BPBIsaxyL._SL1500_The characters and combat style is interspersed with the storyline and boss-ridden levels delightfully, and of course the bosses themselves are recognisable favourites such as Starscream, Soundwave, and of course Megatron. Each and every character even has their own heavy metal theme from the excellent accompanying soundtrack, which surely has to get a release. Believe me, I’ve asked, but it’s a ‘no’ for now.

The perfectly nostalgic cast and characters come together with a plot that easily fits in canon with the series, and plays out much like any typical episode would. It’s the perfect Saturday morning video game derived what was once everyone’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon series. Everything about this package is any Transformers fans’ dream. The beauty of the game is its appeal; it knows why you’re playing it before you’ve even booted the game up: you love the 80’s Transformers, so you are going to love this.

My 52 Game Challenge of 2014

2014 was a great year for gaming. Particularly for me, as I decided to undertake the ultimate lonely gamer task: complete 52 games in a calendar year. That works out at just shy of 4.5 games a month. Ouch.

Now I’m typically a gamer who starts many games, but takes forever to finish them. Save points are often my weak point in that I often to decide to call it quits once I reach one. Note to RPG makers: NO MORE SAVE POINTS, autosave all the way please.

Anyway, although late one, I completed the challenge. A simple feat for a lonely gamer such as myself, if I’d not started it in June! Yes, that’s 52 games completed in 6 months. And here they are:-

Xbox Live Arcade:-

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Streets of Rage 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade

Streets of Rage 3

TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled

Street Fighter III Third Strike

Final Fight

X-Men

Sonic Adventure 2

The Walking Dead Season 2

King of Fighters ’98

 

Xbox 360:-

Lego Batman 2

PES 2015 (Champions League)

 

PSN – Duck Tales Remastered

 

3DS:-

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Sega 3D Classics: Sonic The Hedgehog

Sega 3D Classics: Shinobi III

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Fantasy Life

Super Mario 3D Land

 

Wii U:-

Super Mario 3D World

Mario Kart 8 (Special Cup)

Bayonetta 2

 

Wii – Kirby’s Epic Yarn

 

Gamecube – Capcom Vs. SNK 2

 

Nintendo 64 – Lylat Wars

 

Gameboy:-

TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan

Kirby’s Dream Land

Super Mario Land

Super Mario Bros Deluxe

Donkey Kong Land

 

SNES:-

TMNT: Turtles in Time

Mickey’s Magical Quest

Final Fight 2

Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium

The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mick and Minnie Mouse

Aladdin

Super Castlevania IV

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Castlevania: Dracula X

Starwing

Donkey Kong Country

 

Mega Drive/Genesis – TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist

 

Master System – Sonic The Hedgehog

 

NES:-

TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project

Castlevania

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

Where’s Waldo?

Super Mario Bros 2

Duck Tales 2

 

Turbografix – Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

 

Arcade – Sunset Riders

 

Particular highlights from this list have been many, but the standouts are Kirby’s Epic Yarn, A Link Between Worlds, 3D World, Fantasy Life and Bayonetta 2. LOVE THAT GAME. Not many particularly lengthy titles I know, with Fantasy Life probably the longest, but there were some tough cookies, the standout being Castlevania’s III and Dracula X. But that was the beauty of the challenge; it drove me on to finish even those difficult titles, in order to move onto the next one.

I shall once again be undertaking the challenge in 2015, in fact, if I get to 52 in 6 months again, I may well go for ANOTHER 52! I shall keep you all updated on here, plus I shall Instagram and Tweet each game as I finish them.

How about you, are you up for the challenge?

Review – Pac-Man Museum (Xbox 360)

Pac-man-museum-4-620x348

I have a confession. I’m rubbish at the original Pac-Man, and always have been. But it’s a damn addictive game. While most gamers and even non-gamers will have sampled the original at some point in its now 34 years of existence, all would surely agree that Pac Man is one of the most iconic and recognised video games (and characters) ever developed. So iconic in fact, that Pac-Man has undergone many evolutions over the years, from variations of the original formula to a side scrolling platformer. So, for no anniversary whatsoever, Bandai Namco has repackaged 9 (+ 1 DLC) of these classics for old and new generations to explore and enjoy.

The Good

Starting with Pac-Man (1980), the original pellet-guzzler is timeless, but for those who have never sampled it, the premise is simple: Collect all the yellow dots whilst avoiding contact with the ghosts. The 4 bigger pellets turn the tables, turning the ghosts blue, and becoming additional Pac-Man fodder for grabs. Classic arcade stuff and very challenging to boot, it’s inclusion in the museum is a given, although the fact it had been available through XBLA as a standalone title for 8 years surely means many will already have this in their catalogue.

Pac-Mania (1987): Definitely one of the better titles in this compilation, Pac-Mania was the most refreshing take on the original to date; essentially the original with an isometric 3D viewpoint, but with the added ability for Pac-Man to jump. To keep that from destroying the difficulty curve altogether is the more close-up view of the area, meaning searching for those last pellets can prove elusive.

Pac-Man Arrangement (1996) is a decent stab again at the core Pac-Man ‘genre’, but with a fake 3D stage view, and a horrendous colour palette. All is forgiven with its revisit to the core gameplay that reminds you of the original for the right reasons.

Pac-Man Championship Edition (1997) is not a Pac-Man Street Fighter game, despite the title, but is by far and away the best Pac-Man game in this compilation. Pac-Man core values with score-attack principles set upon neon-lit but familiar stages makes for fantastically addictive fun, and delivers that true ‘one more go’ factor. The problem is, XBLA already has a superior ‘DX’ version since 2010 that most Pac-fans, like me, already own.

Pac-man-museum-Pac-LandPac-Man Battle-Royale (2011) is arguably the most original Pac-title, and one of the most fun. The ghosts are just a side-obstacle here as you put yourself in the typical mazes against…. other Pac-Men! The super pellets increase your size and speed to try and eat your opponent, or otherwise push them into the ever-present ghosts. It’s a bore on your own, but with online-only multiplayer (wut?), I don’t think I’ve had as much simple multiplayer fun as the original Bomberman.

The Bad

Pac-man-museum-3Super Pac-Man (1982) and Pac & Pal (1983) are close to the original, but the goal is to collect keys and unlock gates as opposed to eating pellets. The ‘pal’ in Pac & Pal is Miru, who helps you collect the required items on each level in order to progress. However this introduction only serves to make the Pac-Man experience more confusing and even less fun. Plus having to keep an eye on an A.I. Miru and yourself becomes tiresome very quickly.

Pac-Land (1984): The Pac-Land main theme is one that is embedded in my brain from visiting arcades all through my childhood and teenage years. This side-scrolling platformer was a major new venture for Namco’s titular character, and was certainly my most anticipated title to play from the museum. But from just completing the first stage, my childhood memories were shattered, only to reveal a platformer so devoid of any fun, meaning, with ridiculously unfair physics that make any Mega Man game seem like a walk in the park.

The Ugly

Pac-Attack (1993): This horrific Tetris/Dr. Mario rip-off is just very, very dull, which a steep learning-curve from the get go that will put most off after a few minutes.

Pan-Man-Museum-1-300x169The ‘Museum’ is a pretty standard affair, allowing you to choose from the games on offer, the list of achievements, etc. Each museum title can earn you up to 8 stamps for achieving the required goal(s), which range from the simple (beat the first level) to the obscene (score 300,000 in Pac-Man). Other than that, I feel a massive opportunity has been missed; if this is indeed a museum, where are the history details? Instead, all there is in addition to the menus and the games is a rather bizarre first person view into a room where unlocked characters (via stamps) can be viewed in some kind of holding cell. Very bizarre.

So, as compilations go, Pac-Man Museum is pretty good, but is a release that, bar Battle-Royale, would have been more relevant 5 years ago. The fact that most fans will most likely already have the original and the Championship Edition DX games through the same service for some time will find the £16 price tag a total turn off. Make no mistake though; there is a lot to enjoy here, whether you have done before or not.

Originally published here

A Short History of Ghostbusters Video Games

Note: This post was originally written back in November 2011, but with the recent passing of Harold Ramis, I want you all to remember the best of the games his characters have taken part in – Kev

ghostbusters_07_thumb1Ghostbusters is one of my most, if not themost, favourite franchises of my life. Beginning with the first movie in 1984, it went onto spawn The Real Ghostbusters, a massively popular cartoon series that continued the timeline, and the successful movie sequel Ghostbusters II. With forums currently rife with speculation and rumours surrounding an allegedly confirmed third movie, and with the release of a re-mastered original Ghostbusters movie for Halloween, has the video game industry done this fantastic license justice over the years?

Ghostbusters (Amstrad, Commodore 64, Spectrum, others)

Fondly remembered for me as one of the first video games I ever laid eyes on, this movie tie-in was actually originally developed at the same time as the original box-office hit, albeit as a different title to begin with, named ‘Car Wars’. The version I had was for the Sinclair Spectrum, which is unfortunately inferior to the Commodore version, in particular the graphics, colours and sound. But still a fine game, for 1984.

The plot was the same as the movie, but a large majority of the game took place driving from job to job with a close top-down view, sucking up any ghosts that came across the screen. From what I remember, control responses were capable but not great, and the sections were mostly very long and quite tedious. Nonetheless, these sections were also engaging and necessary to raise cash for more equipment. It did somewhat improve with the ‘busting’ portions of the game which followed.

Upon reaching your destination you’d control two Ghostbusters attempting to catch the little bugger with your proton streams and then trap it. So it was a case of tactically placing the heroes in order to make the shots count. This was by far the most fun section of the game; quite challenging and the controls were intuitive, too. If the ghost got away, or a trap attempt was missed, the ghost would then proceed to knock over one of your heroes, which in turn triggered the soundbyte ‘He slimed me’, direct from the movie.

On the Spectrum it sounded more like someone throwing up, but hey, this was 1984, remember? Touches like this are great for fans, as was the whole game. For the faithfulness alone, this should definitely be considered a classic.

Ghostbusters II (Gameboy)

Following on from the massive success of the original movie and the cartoon and merchandise that came with it, a sequel was inevitable. As is almost obligatory, particularly these days, a licensed video game was released to coincide with the movie.

Ghostbusters_II_008_US-NTSCI tackled the GameBoy version myself, which was a very fun, although simple and short game, and a welcome addition to a somewhat short list of decent movie-licensed video game releases. Our four heroes were represented as tiny, miniaturised versions of their movie counterparts.

After choosing your character, you then chose a second. However this was an NPC character who followed wherever you went, and this formed the simple but intuitive system for capturing ghosts. Your chosen character performed the proton blasts to hold the ghosts while the NPC held the ghost trap, and activated it on command by the player in order to trap ghosts and progress.

Ghostbusters fit the mould of the perfect Gameboy game with intuitive controls that suited the D-pad and buttons perfectly. With a Zelda-esque view incorporated and its dungeon-inspired levels, you couldn’t go wrong. Great fun.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Xbox, PS3)

love this game. Yes, this will be a very biased view of what is critically considered a decent, but far from perfect video game, but I don’t care. I love it. I even got a copy from the US due to the publishing nightmare it endured on the Xbox 360 in the UK, as they kindly left it region-free. For a Ghostbusters fan, this game is the ultimate experience. You play the new recruit to the original team, who are voiced by the entire original movie cast also (fandom EXPLOSION!), as they teach you the “tools and the talent” to be a Ghostbuster. It doesn’t disappoint.

ghostbusters-the-video-game-1Using the ever-popular third person view that makes Dead Space and the latter Resident Evil games so great, you make your way through streets, buildings and spooky cemeteries, flushing out ghosts with the PKE meter. You spend your time zapping then trapping them, using the wonderfully presented Ghostbuster equipment that we all know and love. There are some excellent variations on the norm too. The slime tether is used to pull heavy objects. The stasis stream freezes ghosts in their tracks for a limited time. The zapping and trapping system is everything you could want from a Ghostbusters game; proton beams weaken the enemy enough that they are then dragged to the trap and sucked inside. This looks almost exactly like the movies and cartoon series and you also get a real sense of pulling the ghost around, whether it’s to keep them in check, or guide them to a ghost trap.

This certainly was the game created with the fans in mind the most. As mentioned above, the original movie cast have reunited to provide the voices of their respective characters. The soundtrack is taken from the original movie, which is hardly original, but it’s still excellent to this day and fits in with the game very well. Even the achievements/trophies are named with quotes from the movies.

Overall

Unlike some movie franchises, Ghostbusters has been treated pretty well over the years. Only the most recent Sanctum of Slime seemed awful, so much so I couldn’t even bring myself to upgrade from the trial version. For anyone who thinks that all the Ghostbusters games were sub-standard, the 2009 video game is the exception to the general movie licensed video game mediocrity, and an excellent game in its own right. At £14.99 from Microsoft’s Games on Demand, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is also now a bargain.

Wrestling games; fun, but shouldn’t be {Part 3}

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009 – At last, a step in the right direction

Although few new features were introduced in the 2009 instalment, Smackdown vs Raw started to feel a little more polished to play, along with graphical improvement and visual accuracy, which is always welcome. Signature moves were introduced. These are performed the same way as Finishers, but are available sooner, and are considered the stepping stone to unlocking the use of the Finisher. For example, Triple H’s signature is his patented spine buster, which then leads the way to pick up the opponent for his Finisher, the Pedigree. The main PR focus on the game were the changes made to the tag team mode, such as the ‘Hot Tag’, where if in trouble you can call for a tag once your meter is charged, using the taunt action from the ropes. This initiates a 2-piece QTE section, where, if successful on both instances, it will knock the opposing tag partner off the apron to the floor below, and allows you to perform your finisher on the opponent left in the ring, with a good chance of victory. There are also opportunities for your untagged partner to help double team an opponent from the ropes, or even blind tag yourself into the match (i.e. ref didn’t see it therefore illegal) to try and gain a slight upper hand. All these are, of course, regular occurrences on WWE television, and are quite welcome, although it’s taken long enough. We’re into 2009 here, long after WWE TV’s best days have (arguably) ended.

Another new introduction is the Inferno match, which isn’t as explosive as the title suggests, unfortunately. The ring is surrounded by fire, a temperature meter is added to the HUD, and the goal is to raise the temperature to 300C by performing the biggest moves your character has, then dragging them into the flames near the ropes. Once they’ve caught fire, victory is yours. Yay.

There is also the gauntlet match, which consists of 1 wrestler against a team of others, but one after the other, not at the same time. Some modes received the chop in this incarnation, ones that are still the case even now; create a pay per view, create a championship and general manger mode.

General Manager Mode was dropped in favour of Road to Wrestlemania mode; character driven storylines much like WWE TV, each culminating in a match at the Wrestlemania PPV. These are reserved for the franchise’s biggest stars, such as John Cena, Triple H, and even a tag team driven storyline with Batista and Rey Mysterio. Road to Wrestlemania basically involves take your chosen character through each week of Raw/Smackdown, having a match each week, building up to the next PPV event, with twists and turns along the way, the chance to power up your wrestler’s attributes, etc. There are also lots of extra collectibles to unlock, by meeting certain conditions in matches, which are an incentive for achievement grabbers also.

The final notable mode addition is Career Mode. Not to be confused with the above, the main aim of this mode is for the player to fight their way up the rankings for a particular title of their choice, in match types that they can also choose/unlock. After each match, the player’s character is awarded attribute points based on the style of wrestling the player used. Each match is also rated with a 5-star rating system, so performing all the big moves, using weapons where allowed, finishers, etc all add up to being the #1 contender. My take is thus; very tedious, monotonous, and repetitive. Unlocking the achievement for putting FIVE separate wrestlers into the Hall of Fame nearly broke me.

Things are starting to take shape now; hardly perfect gaming but these are games for the fans of a franchise, nothing more. Don’t try this at home.

Don’t try this at home. I did warn you!

Wrestling games; fun, but shouldn’t be {Part 2}

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008

After the introduction of new gameplay and several new features in SVR 2007, this edition delivered very little in addition to that. The main push of this game was the introduction of the ECW brand, and its own roster. The combat system was also altered to include ‘styles’, such as Powerhouse, Dirty, Brawler, etc. For example, a hardcore style wrestler will gain lots more momentum from using weapons instead of regular attacks. These styles unfortunately make for very unbalanced combat (surprise), and were always more fun to be dirty/hardcore anyway. These styles were however tweaked for future releases in a more productive manner.

There were alterations/additions to the game modes once again, with a tournament mode added, such as Beat the Clock, and King of the Ring, which was resurrected in WWE TV that year also. Season Mode and General Manager Mode were merged into WWE 24/7 mode, with the aim being to transform your chosen wrestler into a legend. Training, matches and even rest was manageable, but not without an adverse effect on your character, but once again, it is mostly a breeze for the most basic of players.

“I had onions for lunch”

Roster wise, as usual a few changes here and there, mostly down to the aforementioned ECW roster, but most notably, the first WWE game since SD: Shut your mouth to include Jeff Hardy, as he began his quite remarkable rise through the company at the second attempt.

This game is really only for WWE completion-ists, and, although some of the skills and attributes is the most redundant of the next gen WWE titles.

Severed heaven

1st of March saw the release of my first DLC must for this year so far, Dead Space 2: Severed. Which i thought was very good indeed, but very short. It’s 2 chapter-length plays through as fast as the first 2 chapters of its parent game, but even so, what is there is quality. Severed follows Gabe Weller from Dead Space: Extraction (annoyingly not available on Xbox 360), as he rushes frantically around the Sprawl to ensure his wife Lexine flees to safety from the Sprawl’s necromorph outbreak. The story elements, much like the main game, are told very well, and certainly drew me in. I wanted Gabe to succeed, and i made sure he did. In only 1 hour. I felt disappointed by the length of the DLC, am i being harsh? I haven’t purchased any DLC content since Fallout 3, but they certainly had more on offer, and didn’t cost that much more. I do hope there is more Dead Space 2 DLC, even with my misgivings about this one; as i would still purchase any future content.

Dead Space 2 – Sprawling into your life

So then, another great sequel hits the market. Make no mistake, the original Dead Space is excellent, and still well worth investing in, although not required before the follow-up, courtesy, plot wise at least, of a recap video available from the title menu.

Synopsis –  Dead Space protagonist Isaac Clarke awakes in the Sprawl,   a densely populated metropolis built on a shard of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, with no memory from the last 3 years. He is, however, in the hospital, complete with strait-jacket, and subsequently released, which ties in perfectly to the story from Dead Space: Ignition, the XBLA/PSN puzzle game, told in a motion comic format. The Sprawl is now the latest location for the Necromorph outbreak, courtesy of the man-made Marker, which Isaac must again survive.

Watch them kids, they’ll ave ya

Visuals – Improved on the original, and it’s worth noting straight from the off that Dead Space now identifies Isaac Clarke   the man, no longer just an engineer, but a character that can be related to. Any character/story development scenes are told as Isaac removes his helmet, with really cool, Transformer-like animation. So now we see Isaac Clarke’s face throughout the game, with the modelled actor for each character also providing the voice, which brings a level of realism, and certainly believable enough character’s to empathise with.

Sounds – One of the best attributes of the original game, it’s more of the same in the sequel, if not better. Jason Graves’s soundtrack is fantastic – as haunting as any horror/thriller soundtrack can be. The voice acting is also very competent, and they bring a level of realism, and certainly believable enough character’s to empathise with throughout the game. The atmosphere created by the aforementioned soundtrack is that of tension, and you certainly feel it as you progress through the game. The different variations of necromorphs encountered during the game, such as Stalkers, for example, instil their own measure of fear and panic into the gamer, whether it be charging at you screaming, or spying from behind crates, making enough sound just so you know you’re in for a rough ride in a particular section of the game. Well worth turning the sound up/having surround sound for this one if possible. It must be noted also, that the sound effect for the removal/remounting of Isaac’s helmet is also very cool.

Gameplay – The first Dead Space felt a little fiddly at first, especially when frantically trying to heal yourself in battle, for example. This has been remedied here – on Xbox 360 for example, this has been moved from ‘X’ to ‘B’, to use any healing containers currently in your inventory. Known as quick heal (there is also an achievement/trophy for using this 10 times); this mechanic is also used to replenish static charge in the same way, albeit a different button of course. It certainly feels a lot more natural this way, as does reloading your weapon, which is easier also.

This allows more concentration on the action at hand – of that there is plenty, particularly on the harder difficulty settings. It’s as frantic as the first Dead Space, in fact even more so, with a good variation of enemies, each with their own unique abilities and tactics, and at times prove to be very formidable foes, echoing the fact that you truly are alone in the Sprawl.

Overall – This game is what sequels are all about. Everything has been improved, the graphics, the sound, the story, the added bonus of the multiplayer, and all this does not detract from the core feel of the original, and what that such a good game. I don’t replay though many games, but I will certainly attempt the challenge of hardcore and zealot difficulty levels, the former only allowing 3 saves and NO checkpoints. In short, well worth the purchase, go get it!