Month: July 2012

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

The feeling of being 15 again really is a joyous one. Back before the Skate series came along with its fancy twin stick controls, the Tony Hawk’s series were the games of choice for skater boys and girls alike. After a couple of mediocre games in the main series and a dip in sales thanks to the success of the aforementioned Skate series, Activision has attempted to recapture its past glory with the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.


The game attempts to fuse the old and new school by offering a number of classic tracks, characters and songs from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater one and two along with a few of the newer school skaters and some more modern tunes. The graphical update looks nice but never spectacular. The skaters all look great but some of the levels still look very angular and boxy, rather than having smooth edges. However, on balance it is still a good looking game overall for an Xbox Live Arcade release. The mix of songs from the older games with newer tracks works very well, and none of the songs feel out of place in the game.


As for playing the game itself, anyone who has ever played one of the main games in the Tony Hawk’s series will feel right at home, with the face buttons each performing different actions; ollies, flip tricks, grinds and so on. As soon as I loaded up the first level, I found myself reeling off long combos as if I had never left the series in the first place. In order to keep the game as authentic to the originals as possible the revert feature, initially introduced in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, that allowed you to combo straight into a manual after landing from a quarter pipe is not included as all the levels are from Tony Hawk’s one and two. I understand Activision’s logic in doing this, but at the same time it would have been nice to see it included as series stalwarts will see it as a step backwards having been accustomed to the feature for so long. It would also have been interesting to see what new lines and combo’s players could come up with if the feature had been included. Activision have said that reverts will be included with the upcoming DLC, which makes sense seeing as the levels will be from Tony Hawk’s 3, however they have stated that reverts will only be available on the new levels, it is my personal hope they go back on this and make reverts available across all levels.


”Hang on, which way does this thing go again….”

The career maintains the old school feel of the game, giving you a number of goals on each of the seven fan favourite levels included and imposes a two minute time limit. The objectives vary from simple score challenges to collecting skate letters, finding secret DVDs and other, more oddball tasks and it all feels suitably nostalgic. If you are good enough to complete all the tasks on a level with one character, you unlock PROjectives for that level, which are the same sort of tasks but more difficult, challenging experienced players. After that there are a few other modes but none that hold the same sort of interest as the career.


Once you are done with single player, you can head online in head to head matches. This is a significant inclusion as it is the first time these maps have ever been available for play. However, a somewhat surprising inclusion is that to make way for online multiplayer, local multiplayer has been sacrificed. This is a big blow to the game as one of the main addictive features of the old Tony Hawk’s games was getting a few friends round and having round of local, split-screen multiplayer.


Online but sadly no local multiplayer.

The games main issue is with its longevity. Any semi-experienced Tony Hawk’s player will blast through the career in a few hours and even amateur players will not take much longer. After that the games only real hook is the online multiplayer which really depends on your mindset as to how much you get out of it. Extra DLC is promised, bringing new levels, features and challenges but until they get released this is a fairly small package. There are other, more minor, issues too. More than once I found myself glitching out the map or bailing for no reason. Also, having been used to the features introduced in later games such as the aforementioned revert or the ability to get off of your board, it is occasionally frustrating not to have these features at your fingertips.


Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD’s biggest draw is the feeling of nostalgia one gets when loading up old levels from days gone by. Any old Tony Hawk’s fan will feel elated for the first few runs on any of the levels and the controls hold true to form, meaning it really does make you feel like you are playing the originals again. I would instantly recommend this game to any fans of the original games and regard it as a must buy for their collections. However, it is hard to look past the brevity of the game and any player who does not share the same sense of nostalgia will probably be left frustrated by how little the game offers.


Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200ms.

Mass Effect 3 Earth DLC

Never let it be said that BioWare doesn’t make you earn your happy ending. With the release of the Earth DLC for Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer mode, BioWare has given players three new maps — Rio, an oil-drilling storage platform; Vancouver, and London, both reminiscent of the single-player locations — and a new difficulty level in Platinum mode. Not only are enemies more vicious and unrelenting, but each round starts to feel like a literal wave of enemies when Reapers appear alongside Cerberus troopers. If a team gets far enough, they’ll be facing all three kinds of enemies, Cerberus, Geth, and Reaper, and all the troubles that come with them. Picture if you will, the tactical precision of a Cerberus assault squad, aided and abetted by the heavy weapons of Geth Primes and Pyros as well as the mobile tanks and one-hit kills of Reaper Ravagers and Banshees.

To combat this combined threat, BioWare has also given three new weapons and six new characters, one for each class and all of N7 designation, so you know they’re the highest quality. The Piranha assault shotgun offers arguably the largest clip of all available while maintaining decent power. With the proper mods, bosses will drop before they’ve taken two steps. The Typhoon mini-machine gun pumps out an amazing amount of lead and ends low-level mooks very quickly. And the Acolyte pistol, with its charged shot, specializes in stripping shields, which makes it perfect for N7 Shadows and Furies, who rely on biotics, not ballistics, for damage.

And speaking of the new classes, if they look familiar, they are. N7 Furies are a reskinned Kasumi, Paladins are essentially Cerberus Guardians, and Shadows, Cerberus Phantoms. Their skill lists, however, make for creative kills, despite being filled mostly with known powers. The N7 Devastator Soldier’s self-named Devastator Mode increases accuracy, clip size, and rate-of-fire, making him a powerhouse on the field. He’s also the only class that has a missile launcher as a separate ability, as well as multi-frag grenade launcher.

N7 Fury Adepts have no need for weapons, as they are living weapons themselves.  Not only do they have Throw and Dark Channel abilities but the Annihilation Field, a new ability that primes any enemy in range for a biotic explosion, making the Fury a truly fearsome foe.

N7 Shadow Infiltrators have the Tactical Cloak, of course, but what players are interested in are the two new abilities: Shadow Strike and Electric Slash. ME2 veterans will remember the former as one of Kasumi Goto’s abilities and best used against single enemies, especially in high-profile-target rounds. The Electric Slash is the new wrinkle that looks like a Phantom’s dodge but with a new Shockwave-looking mechanic, best used against groups. Theoretically, a player could start a Shadow Strike on a single target at the back of a group and follow up into an Electric Slash to cripple the rest before disappearing behind Tactical Cloak. Gives whole new meaning to the term “hit-and-run tactics.”

N7 Demolisher Engineers live up to their name with their Supply Pylon ability, which grants for its duration extra shields and full reloads of ammo and grenades for nearby allies, a useful feature considering the Demolisher’s other abilities are both grenades. The Arc Grenade, like the Arc Pistol, creates a localized EMP burst that depowers all shields and barriers, while the Homing Grenade does exactly what it says on the tin, causing massive damage for its unlucky recipient.

N7 Paladin Sentinels were given, in addition to the usual fire and ice attacks, a full-body omni-shield, which initially reminded me of the former Shadow Broker’s shield during his boss fight, a shield that you can mod to spit ice or incendiary effects upon opponents. The shield itself is very handy against frontal assaults. Properly modded, it could conceivably stand against heavy troopers like the Ravager or Geth Rocket Launcher. But as it is just a frontal shield, players can still be flanked, so pay attention to your sides. And with the shield as the Paladin’s heavy melee, their Energy Drain ability is a more viable choice. Draining an enemy’s shields and then smacking them with your shield makes quite the devastating one-two punch.

Finally, N7 Slayer Vanguards have, besides their Charge skill, an ability called Phase Disruptor, which takes half their barrier and fires it as a tight-beam laser blast, devastating anyone in its path and looking extremely cool while doing so. Their other new ability, the Biotic Slice, actually looks similar to the Shadow’s Electric Slice with more power behind it. It’s the same Shockwave ability, just on a different character with the power cranked up. All in all, the Slayer looks to be dangerous at any range.


So, what are your thoughts on the new DLC? Do you have a favorite character, weapon combo, or map? Maybe you have a build you want to share. Let us know in the comments section down below, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @zero1gaming, and Like us on Facebook.

Lone Survivor

Impulse buys. We’ve all experienced them. You picked up a game and after looking at the cover you’re instantly drawn into the game and throwing your money at the seller. Those pesky people at Steam had advertised Lone Survivor as I was aimlessly searching through for some cheap games. I had heard nothing about it, seen nothing of it apart from the image that was on the page above the ‘Purchase’ button.

Lone Survivor is a survival horror game by Jasper Bryne. A comic book/pixelated game, graphically; it reminded me something that could perhaps be a contender against the Scott Pilgrim comics. The character you play as, referred to as ‘You’ but who I swiftly named Steve, has been trapped within the city as an outbreak of monsters has happened. The basic core of a story involving a character being trapped within their city during an outbreak or some form of disease is not exactly a new one to the gaming world and one that’s been told more times than Cinderella losing her shoe. Still, I started the game with a neutral opinion on it and jumped into the horror that it was no doubt about to deliver.

I really liked the character ‘You’ (aka Steve) – the comments on things as they explored the city were amusing and I slowly got more interested into their mental state. There are several times throughout the game where Steve has a blackout and enters a dream where you can encounter other people who will play tricks on what you (the player) believes is true.  It’s a thin twisting layer that sits nicely on top of the basic story that I was previously talking about but it wasn’t something that pulled me right into the game and kept me hooked. I constantly found myself getting distracted and/or fed up with playing Lone Survivor after a few hours but yet I found myself returning to it later on in the day to play some more, but what had a hold of my mind that I had to carry on playing it?

Two things struck out to me as being executed and put together really well for the game, much like Irn Bru and a Scottish person, was the sound and visuals.  I enjoyed playing on the pixelated graphics of the game and I was surprised that even with the constraint of chance for cinematic cut scenes, the hallucinations and the blackouts were done really well. With a black screen, I was instantly unsettled and wondered what monsters was going to pop up in front of me or where I would be.  With eerie music being played while you were walking coming to a sudden halt to have vicious outbreaks of sound as your character blackouts – you can’t put in a bad word on how well they’ve brought these two elements together to provide a starting point to a decent horror experience to the player. Unfortunately, I felt the monsters let the game down due to them not exactly adding to the suspense that was starting to be set up with the visuals and sound of the game. The monsters didn’t pose much of a threat to me as I could easily sneak past them or kill them with a few bullets and nor did they jump out at you like any other horror game would have thought to have been second nature. There was a lack of diversity with the monsters as well. With all due respect, each respective type of monsters got progressively harder to kill off but with only two main types of monsters and the same number of bosses – the challenge of this game didn’t really lie with the monsters coming to attack you in the middle of the night but relied more on your survival.

With limited supplies on food and ammo at hand, it’s a difficult time to try and get going with your weekly shopping when you have to remember about the monsters patrolling the hallways and streets. As with any post-apocalyptic game, the supplies are scarce.  Surviving on cheese and crackers isn’t exactly agreeing with your stomach, batteries are running low on your flashlight, ammo is almost gone – where do you go?! Lone Survivor has the answer that perhaps isn’t something that you should rely on whenever this does inevitably happen in real life – popping pills. Three types pills are at your disposal in Lone Survivor – red, green and blue – each with their own perks, so to speak. One will provide you with an instant lift and keep you on your feet and no side effects from it. The other two could potentially land Steve with some extra ammo or batteries being delivered out of thing air but they cause drowsiness and give Steve some really messed up nightmares. This is where Lone Survivor starts to play tricks and gets your mind working overdrive. What is real? Is this person really there and if so, am I actually speaking to them. What is that person trying to tell me?!  Progressing through the story some more, when you do cross someone that becomes your friend, I was sitting there asking myself “are they real, is this happening?” for a good while.  Known as The Director, you can go to his apartment and visit him to get those precious supplies, sometimes free although he does like to trade for those Sleepy Cat comics he so desires.

Although you have a person helping you on the supply side of things, Lone Survivor doesn’t directly hold your hand through the game. Without checking the radio and diary situated in your room on a regular basis, it’s easy to become lost and confused on where you’re meant to go. Thankfully, with a bit of an annoying save system, you will be visiting your room often enough to be kept in the know. I saw the small matter of saving my game a bit of an arduous task. Having to sleep in your own bed to save your progess, I often found myself making minimal progress with the game in between saves. It felt like I was taking a few baby steps before taking a bit of a leap back when I thought I best go save the game. Whenever I tried to go that little bit extra before returning to the apartment, I would be killed off and have to start from my previous save – somewhat of a pain in my butt when I had just found the place I needed to go. With Lone Survivor being a 2D side scrolling game, it can be a bit of a difficult task to try and navigate your way through the environment. Thankfully, they’ve met you halfway and provided you with a map but, the constant checking of the map to ensure you’re on the right path or in the right room is a hassle in itself.  As I have already touched upon, I was often finding myself wanting to turn off the game and do something else and I reckon these played a factor towards that.

In saying that, even though I have identified some negatives about the game, Lone Survivor is an enjoyable game to complete over the course of a weekend, especially if you’ve picked it up cheap in the Steam Summer Sale. With various endings to the game depending on what pills you’ve been taking more of (yes you will become a drug user throughout this game just don’t do it in real life kids!), it has the potential sitting there for some replay value for those who wish to go back through it again but after my first play through, I didn’t feel like the game had left any impact on me to make me want to back through it again. Perhaps this could be a different story in a couple of months but we shall see.

Lone Survivor stands well as a survival game however it does lack some of the horror aspects that I was hoping to get from playing it. Where the visuals and sounds do the game justice, the elements of enemies and a bland and predictable story didn’t deliver for me and accumulate to what could have been a real gem of a game. Because of that, I give Lone Survivor a 6.5 out of 10 – definitely a buy at a cheap price for an fun game but not one that I would be pouring my money at.

The Changing Voice Of Lara Croft

I think it’s fair to say that I am incredibly excited about the new Tomb Raider game. I have played every iteration of the Core/Eidos/Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix franchise, and I have grown up with Lara as a gaming icon.

Before Nathan Drake had even associated himself with Sir Francis, Lara was raiding tombs, being sassy and doing her best to backflip, shoot and running-jump-and-grab her way to to the top of the archaeologist charts.

Throughout the games, Lara’s appearance has changed dramatically. Her triangular breasts were rounded and softened, her hair bun became a french plait, then a ponytail, and her movement became more fluid and “realistic”. But it wasn’t only her appearance that has changed throughout the ten games, it was also her voice, and in the 11th game in the franchise, simply calling itself Tomb Raider, we have another actress stepping up to the role. So lets take a look at the actresses that have portrayed the heroine, and get to know the latest addition to the roster.

Firstly, there was Shelley Blond. She voiced the original Lara in Tomb Raider back in 1996, and it is partially her fault that so many gamers fell in love with the character. She voiced a young Lara, on her first adventure, yet gave her a warmth and wisdom that made her sound posh, yet appealing to the audience.

Secondly came Judith Gibbins, famous for her “Go back to the beginning and try again” quote during the mansion training missions in the more action-packed Tomb Raider II (1997), but also voiced the character for the adventurous Tomb Raider III (1998), which featured 3 levels in middle section of the game that the player could chose the order they were attempted.

Judith was replaced in 1999 by Jonell Elliott, who voiced Lara through Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles, and the poorly received Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Unfortunately for Jonell, she joined the series at a low point for Lara, the character is buried under a pyramid at the end of The Last Revelation, and has people mourning her and telling stories of her life in Chronicles. When the franchise tried something new, a darker story set in Prague and Paris, and with some poorly implemented role-playing elements, the series seemed to die, and Core abandoned ship.

Crystal Dynamics took over the franchise, and with original designer Toby Gard on board, Tomb Raider: Legend brought the series bang up to date. They needed a new voice, and took on successful TV and Movie access Keeley Hawes to bring some class back to Ms Croft. Sufficiently plummy, Lara went from strength to strength between 2006 and 2010, and starred in Legend, Anniversary (a remake/re-imagining of the first game), and Underworld. While these were each individual games in their own right, they also belonged to a larger story arc, with Underworld as the finale. Crystal Dyamics also took a slight detour from the usual path of the franchise, and developed Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light, which didn’t mention “Tomb Raider” at all, and was more of a co-operative puzzle solving game which gained enormous popularity as a download-only title on consoles and mobile devices, and also featured a Lara voiced by Keeley.

Now, with the new game launching (and soon to be played at Eurogamer Expo), a new actress has stepped in to voice a young Lara in this origins story. Camilla Luddington is famous for her roles in Californication and True Blood (worldwide), and now will be voicing one of the most famous game characters of all time. Watch the video interview with her below, and then share your thoughts on who you think gave the best “Lara”.


Five Annoying Video Game Characters

Gaming is a personal experience. What one person sees as a vast world waiting to be explored, another sees as a lifeless plain with things way too far apart, but there is one thing that all gamers can agree on, stupid annoying characters.

Almost every game and every franchise has at least one character that makes you want to gouge out your own eyes or rip out the HDD of your console and burn it, below you will find a selection of these characters that really grind our gears!

(It goes without saying that there are some spoilers below – you have been warned!)

5: Sheva Alomar:  Resident Evil 5

This was a tough call between Sheva from RE5 & Ashley from RE4, both are horrendously annoying in their own special ways but in the end Sheva won out. See, with Ashley, she was your typical damsel in distress, useless to the point of idiotic; all she could do was scream LEOOOOOOON and get carried away by cultists. Capcom paid attention to players and the feelings they had towards Ashley and promised us something different, they promised us that in the next game we would have a female companion that would kick some serious ass, instead what we got was Sheva.

Sheva was promoted as a highly trained, highly skilled agent with the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance; she had to have been quite good otherwise she wouldn’t have been assigned to Chris Redfield…..right….RIGHT?? WRONG! Sheva spends most of the game acting like an entrée at a Manjini cocktail party. When she isn’t screaming for your help while being chewed on by the inhabitants of a small African village, she is busy wasting all your ammo and using all your herbs and sprays on a paper cut or grazed knees.

4: Any ‘friends’ from the Sonic Series

I wrote an article a while ago about Sonic the Hedgehog and where the series had gone wrong, you can find the article HERE, but one of the points was the frankly baffling roster of ‘friends’ that Sega have inflicted on the Blue Blur.

Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, Amy Rose, Knuckles The Echidna, Nack The Weasel, Charmy Bee, Espio The Chameleon, Mighty The Armadillo, Vector The Crocodile, Big The Cat, Froggy, Omochao, Rouge The Bat, Cream The Rabbit, Blaze The Cat, Jet The Hawk, Wave The Swallow and Storm The Albatross.

I rest my case.

3: Rinoa Final Fantasy VIII /Vanille Final Fantasy XIII

I’m not an expert on Final Fantasy games but I’ve played enough of them to know that they are filled to the brim with characters you just want to slap. So with this I consulted my good friend, fellow writer and Final Fantasy aficionado, Gareth Edwards. After much deliberation (less than a second) he gave me names of Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII and Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII, but I’ll let him explain why he dislikes them so much:

Rinoa appears in Final Fantasy VIII and makes a stunning appearance in the ballroom dancing cut scene. Unfortunately, for the rest of the game, she is annoying, whiny, and you are forced to save her from becoming the next “sorceress” puppet set to destroy the world. She fights with a Frisbee, and her limit breaks are based around dog tricks for her beloved “Angelo”. At one point you have to rescue her from floating in space, and I have lost count of how many times I left her to float away, just to get some satisfaction from the situation


Vanille, from Final Fantasy XIII, was an overly sexualised teenage girl, with an irreverent cheerfulness despite the dire situation facing the characters from the game. Her final sacrifice at the end of the game was an attempt to justify her as a necessary inclusion, but was ultimately pointless due to the fact that Fang had volunteered to sacrifice herself for the Ragnarok. Her brief reappearance in Final Fantasy XIII-2 only reaffirmed the fact that her existence was never really required.”


2: Navi: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Loving something is about seeing it for what it is and accepting that and its faults. I love the Legend of Zelda franchise, it has been a corner stone of my gaming life since I can remember so I like to think I am well placed to provide critique to Nintendo regarding the ‘companions’ they create.

Companions have been a part of the Zelda franchise since Ocarina of Time was released. Nintendo prides itself that the game is often rated as the best videogame of all time practically every time someone does one of those polls, what they don’t seem to champion so much is the fact that the game manages to receive those accolades in spite of the fact it contains one of the most annoying companions to have ever been invented.

Ask any gamer about Navi and usually the first thing they will say is ‘Hey!’or ‘Hey! Listen’. Both sayings ran from Navi’s mouth like water down the Niagara Falls, the flying ball of fluff appeared to be physically unable to shut her trap to prevent some of the most obvious and inane comments from spewing forth, but in spite of it all Navi is still of use as without her you wouldn’t be able to Z Target. It is this one redeeming feature that prevents her from securing the top spot on this list.

1: Trip: Enslaved Odyssey to the West.

The characters I have mentioned so far have one thing in common; they are not responsible for the situation the main protagonist finds themselves in. They are not the reason the game takes place, they are merely playing a secondary support role to assist our character in their quest.

Trip does not fall into this category. She is the reason the game takes place, shortly after escaping from a slavers ship she places a control device on our hero and forces him to help her get back home, if he doesn’t agree, he dies, simple! What a Bi**h.

Plus she’s whiny and useless. Every five minutes of gameplay it felt like I was having to run around after her, pick her up, help her get to a new area, chuck her across a gap that was too big for her to jump (I tried chucking her elsewhere but the game wouldn’t let me). I would even go as far to say that I actually feel my overall enjoyment of the game was ruined because of her and constantly having to press L1 to see what she was doing or listen to her state the ruddy obvious.  Plus at the end **SPOILER** She pulls out the wires and cables from the Glass Pyramid which destroys the system and brings everyone out of the matrix style life they were living to start living in the ruins of a war zone. I mean what gives her the right!! I wanted to shove that bloody dragonfly so far up her……aaaaaand breathe.

So there we go, a list of five very annoying game characters. As I said at the start most games will have a character in there that makes your blood boil so let us know who they are in the comments box!

Silent Hill: Downpour – Unleash The Downpour

Silent Hill: Downpour is a title that immediately captured my attention when it was announced. Following the completion of Silent Hill: Homecoming, I swiftly became engrossed with the series and another installment triggered my interest once more. The revelation that water and weather would play a primary role within the title heightened my curiosity further. So, did Silent Hill: Downpour, conjure the perfect storm or was it simply a wash-out?

The beginning of Silent Hill: Downpour allows you to take control of the protagonist Murphy Pendleton within a federal correctional facility. The story is gradually introduced to us throughout the introduction and integrated tutorial. This allows the player to grasp both the basic controls and narrative present within the title. The introduction reveals that Murphy will be transported to another penitentiary along with some other cellmates. They board the transportation vehicle only for it to detour off-road and inevitably crash owing to treacherous weather conditions and the road mysteriously coming to an end. Murphy regains consciousness to discover that the crash site has been abandoned. Alone, he traverses the desolate environment making his way towards Silent Hill. Murphy innocently explores the eerie town of Silent Hill seeking an escape route. Little does he know, his time in Silent Hill will become a harrowing journey of self-discovery and torment regarding his past.

The protagonist reacts to his surroundings immensely which conjures tension for the player in abundance. His reactions often prompt you to discover things you may not have observed previously. The desolate environment present within the game is extremely effective in keeping an individual on edge. If the town possessed an array of sprawling enemies, the eerie environment would not be so evident. The utilisation of sound when traversing Silent Hill often escalated my fear as opposed to an enemy lunging at me. The weather alerts the player that something dangerous lies ahead. Enemies are also stronger when it begins to rain. The player is then required to either combat the enemies or enter a building until the rain subsides. For your protagonist, Silent Hill: Downpour includes moral choices during certain events within the game. Negative and positive responses to these choices will alter the ending received. There are six endings based on two central narratives within the game.

Silent Hill: Downpour includes an array of side-quests which are scattered throughout the town of Silent Hill. The inclusion of side-quests to this title attracted me immensely, as it provides an optional extension to your experience of Silent Hill. The player will meet a diverse range of people whilst undertaking side-quests within the game. Side-quests and locations throughout may require you to complete puzzles and utilise code inputs. Clues will be present within the environment owing to the difficulty level you select. Along with rewards for completing the side-quests, the player will also gain intricate insight into Murphy and Silent Hill. Finding the side-quests and objectives related can be an arduous task upon occasion. The player may lose their way frequently within Silent Hill owing to waypoints not being included in the game. To traverse the town of Silent Hill, you may find yourself relying on the map within the journal more than you would like to.

Whilst traversing the town, equipping a weapon is vital to survive the enemies that lurk the streets. The town is littered with an array of weapons for the protagonist to utilise. The vast selection of weapons included within the game are crucial as the weapons eventually break and become useless. The elevation in tension when a weapon breaks whilst combating an enemy is immense, as you desperately attempt to flee seeking another weapon. Players have access to an inventory which allows you to store a weapon and items you collect along your travels. Silent Hill: Downpour allows the player to carry one melee weapon and one firearm which adds to the suspense and tension when combating enemies. Various weapons will aid you in bypassing obstacles throughout Silent Hill. A downside to the weaponry within Silent Hill: Downpour is that it can often be lost in various cutscenes and moments within the game. The inventory will store important items you retrieve in relation to the plot and side-quests. Scattered across Silent Hill, the protagonist will discover first aid kits. These are a mandatory item when traversing Silent Hill and infinite amounts can be stored in your inventory.

Silent Hill: Downpour grants the player discretion regarding the method in which they utilise to defeat an enemy. When combating an individual, the player has the ability to incapacitate, kill or flee the enemy. Fleeing is an extremely useful option when a group of enemies pursue the protagonist. The combat system is somewhat flawed when attempting to combat numerous enemies simultaneously. Whilst fleeing, the player is able to glance over the protagonist’s shoulder to observe the surroundings behind them. This is especially effective when an enemy is pursuing you as it conjures a high level of tension for the player. Something I observed upon occasion when traversing the town is the frame rates dropping. It was not a regular occurrence but I can understand this revelation being slightly off-putting for a player. I found it tolerable as I became engrossed in the storyline and overall experience the game provides.

Overall, Silent Hill: Downpour provides intricate survival horror experience that on the surface most people could appreciate. Delving into the realms of this eerie title, the way the story is unraveled entices the player to progress. The inclusion of side-quests may broaden the target audience as it allows the players to explore and complete optional challenges/objectives. As with many games, Silent Hill: Downpour possesses some issues such as frame rate drops, but for the most part they can be overlooked owing to the quality of the gameplay and content. Fans of Silent Hill who were apprehensive about this title should at least try it before writing it off. I found that Silent Hill: Downpour was a much more immersive and powerful title as opposed to Homecoming. With a powerful storyline and countless opportunities to explore the desolate town of Silent Hill, what are you waiting for? Unleash the downpour for yourself and immerse yourself in the vapours of Silent Hill and Murphy’s troubled past.



Computer Games, Or Interactive Movies?

With the announcement today that Resident Evil 6 will feature over four hours of cut scenes (compared to the slightly more reasonable 1-2 hours in the previous 2 games), it got me thinking… Are games becoming less interactive as the narrative starts to steal the focus?

Role-playing games (such as the Final Fantasy series) have always been reliant on a heavy narrative to drive the gameplay, and have always been fairly beautiful to look at. Bioware and Bethesda on the other hand, have always attempted to make lengthy conversation a little more interactive, but aside from the option to change the narrative slightly (often with very little change to the overall plot) they remain thinly-veiled interruptions to the action of the game. Un-skippable cut scenes are the worst culprit though, and although they often disguise loading screens and serve as a necessary distraction, they are often longer and more involved than they need to be.

Another interruption to the standard gameplay includes mandatory “tutorial” missions. I recently played Yakuza: Dead Souls (a zombie themed rendition of the Japanese mobster game), and spent the first two hours watching cut scenes, and taking part in tutorial missions that had me repeating the same action for a finite number of attempts, only to have the results of that not count towards anything, and to have to repeat the same actions again to clear the room. Is this an attempt to make the game last longer, so that the hours invested in it seem impressive?

I do understand that games are trying to compete with other media in an attempt to become more mainstream and respected by a wider audience, and it is clear that more money is being spent on script writers and reputable actors in an effort to kick-start a “Golden Age of Gaming” as the industry struggles in the current financial climate. Any additional interest in the gaming industry (especially positive) can only be seen as a good thing.

Heavy Rain seemed to find it’s place in this rocky territory, and was critically acclaimed (and rightly so), but it really lay without a genre of it’s own, becoming an interactive story that immersed you and involved very little user interaction, but the interaction required was intuitive and well realised. Previously, we had to settle for the abysmal Night Trap on the Sega Mega CD if we wanted an interactive story to play.

So is “More Story – Less Gameplay” the way forward? Certain developers seem to think so, and with more sequels and remakes being produced over the past couple of years, anything that breathes fresh blood into the industry can only be seen as a good thing. There needs to be balance though; we can’t be expected to play a 40-hour game when we have spent more than half of it simply “watching” the game, rather than playing.