Train 2 Game

Ever played a game and thought my word I could have done a better job?

Maybe you have had an idea for a game and cannot understand why it has never been made into a game.

Well perhaps a Train 2 Game course might be the answer. These are courses designed by the Industry for the Industry and fully endorsed by TIGA.

Catch the full trailer during The Gadget Show on Fiver tonight

If you want to find out more information http://www.train2game.com/

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Review: Red Steel 2 (Wii)

By Daniel Lipscombe

All young boys want to be cowboys or ninjas, I was that boy. I could have easily been one or the other on a warm summer’s day; better yet you could be both rolled into one. Imagine a plastic six shooter in your pocket and a cardboard tube sword tucked through a belt loop. Whilst the fictitious bandits dart left and right the six shooters arid gun smoke wafts through the air as the blade is unsheathed.

If only someone could make this fantasy into a videogame – in steps Ubisoft. Brandishing a Wii remote with a fancy new motion plus you can live that dream, although the fantasy didn’t arrive unmarred.

This sequel is beyond better than the first iteration and it shows with every step. The new graphics engine is the stand out winner of this new step in the franchise. With a similar look to Borderlands, the colours are vibrant and each part of the Wild West world appears to be full of character. The characters ooze a charm that is reminiscent of the Sergio Leone movies mixed with a Sci-Fi twist that Hollywood would beg for.

Our mysterious hero is the Clint Eastwood of the plot, a man with no name and a world on his shoulders. His clan is wiped out; you fill his shoes as the last member of the Kusagari and must eliminate the threat of the Jackal gang that has taken over the city. The story opens up in an impressive fashion with our hero being dragged behind a motorbike and is genuinely exhilarating, the downside to this wonderful opening is the monotony that follows.

As the dream of being a samurai cowboy floats out of the window, a reality of mundane questing and repetitive training sets in. Your first training mission is simple, here’s how you swing a sword and guard. It is a little off putting that Ubisoft felt the need to add a young woman in the stereotypical white outfit in a video boxout to teach you how to play. It jars you from the game world and reminds you that you really are a grown man standing in your lounge swinging a piece of plastic and not a katana after all.

The worst part of this training is that it takes forever to end; in fact the first few hours of the game sees you trudging back to the training grounds in order to learn a new move. This becomes such a chore that the idea of swinging a sword becomes dull.  Admittedly the motion plus does a great job of making the swordplay fun and the precision of the Wii remote guarantees a wealth of headshots. So the combat should be great and at times it is, but every once in a while the attachment to the game world is broken again when the calibration goes wonky and you r sword is not following your movement.

The sword fighting is enjoyable though, when it works, as each scrape of metal clangs from the Wii remote speaker it brings a smile to your face. The same can be said for the mini game like additions, a favourite would be the safe cracking. Holding the remote up to your ear as you turn the dial on screen and listen to the pins dropping in, it feels like a clever and intuitive mechanic rather than the forced “waggle” that we’ve seen in other games.

The whole game sets out to prove that “waggle” can work and it almost makes it. Red Steel 2 looks and sounds great on the Wii, the waggle works for the majority of the time but with so many promises it’s hard to keep them all. The biggest disappointment has to be the story, it lacks any real focus and with a topic that should be ever so endearing it feels vapid and lifeless.

After your interest has piqued the plot becomes trite under the strain of boring characters and cut scenes. It doesn’t help that the actual mission structure is repetitive and you dread checking the mission board for your next trip around the city. The structure of the game is simple: walk, kill bad guys, train, mission board, walk, rinse and repeat. I was hoping for more from such a rich looking world, in fact the QTE sections were reasonably impressive and I, for once, wanted more of those.

Red Steel 2 is a flawed game, but it keeps you entertained throughout if only because of the shooting and occasional sword fight. The story may be a little bland but the world is absorbing and looks lovely. You may not be living out your childhood dream, but it’s as close as you’ll get.

There was one thing that did hinder my experience and was no fault of Ubisoft. It should be noted to anyone who experiences motion sickness when playing a first person shooter may want to either steer clear of this title or at least give it a try somewhere first. The sickness forced me to take a break every 15 minutes which, of course became a problem.

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Trials 2 SE Only £1.30

RedLynx, the creators of the award-winning Trials HD, are practically giving away it’s predecessor, Trials 2 SE, on their site as a thank you for Trials HD winning Best Arcade Game of 2009.

They’re not giving it away, but at $1.99 (£1.30) until April 14th, it is bloody cheap, too cheap to miss out on. Just click the picture at the top of the screen to be taken directly to the game’s page.

For a big Trials HD fan, like myself, it was a must-buy. The game plays just like Trials HD although the controls are not as polished, needing a good hour of practice to master the jumps. The game does give you plentiful tutorials and even has a great feature that gives you an example run of every level, showing the keys being pressed in the bottom right of the screen.

It does lack the medal system that made Trials HD horribly addictive, but it does have an online leader-board with over a hundred thousand players on it – hopefully more after the sale is over.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy this great little game, it’s cheaper than a Starbucks!

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Review: Metro 2033 (Xbox 360)

By Daniel Lipscombe

Metro 2033 is an ambitious game, not because it really tries to do things differently but because it is a title venturing into a crowded market. Post apocalyptic games or those containing mutants of some kind are becoming a frequent “go to” when creating a game world and Metro 2033 is attempting to wow an audience that has seen it all before.

This is a problem. In this generation of games we’ve been treated to such rich and involving worlds and environments that it would be hard to compete. Metro 2033 has a ‘hook’ of sorts as the game is played in the underground train system, or Metro of Russia. Whilst initially appealing, the game suffers from a lack of inspiration as you trudge down hundreds of deep and dark tunnels carrying out missions.

When first venturing out into the tunnels, the game impresses with great lighting and atmospheric sound but this soon becomes tiresome and loses its spark. Monsters lurking in the shadows or spying on you from unseen corners are a dime a dozen in current gaming worlds and nothing ever really stands out as being different.

When the game does push you above ground, things become a little more interesting as your eyes scan the ruins of Moscow and new dangers present themselves. A constant threat is the lack of breathable air, forcing you to rely on a gas mask and monitoring its filter usage. It is a great mechanic that adds a sense of fear that your air may run out and leave you as carrion for the creatures that await you.

The story is intriguing and genuinely interesting. As we follow the story of our protagonist, Artyom and his interactions with “the dark ones” an enemy that attacks your mind rather than your body. There are several great sequences that feed off of your fears and disorientate you as you play, each of these moments pull you further into the plot and leave you wanting to know more.

Metro 2033 has strong leanings on the horror side of gaming and is always making you think twice about venturing into sections and causing a genuine fear. Although the enemies are a bit bland and cliché Metro goes to great lengths to create a sense of doubt in your abilities by throwing several of these beasts at you at once and heightening the panic.

To add to this is the distinct lack of ammo. In fact ammo is actually used as currency in this game, you can use military grade ammo to buy or trade weapons at metro stations or if things become really tight and you run out of regular ammo, these bullets can be used dealing slightly more damage than usual. There are many small touches that try to pull Metro out of the crowd such as a mobile generator that is used to recharge your flashlight and cracks appearing on your gas mask to indicate that it is taking damage and you could be left without one.

All the positive nuances in the world can’t help you though if your basic shooting mechanics are clunky and poorly implemented, something that Metro also brings to its audience. None of the guns feel as if they carry any power, when faced with five or six enemies at once only precise shots will drop your foe in only a couple of bullets whilst at other times you’ll pump 30 shots into them before they expire. It doesn’t help that the hit detection isn’t always on target, when aiming for a headshot and seeing the bullet hit home only for the enemy soldier to spam you with grenades.

Oh yes, there are human enemies too most of whom cower behind cover and relentlessly spawn soaking up more and more of your ammo as you tirelessly try to kill them. It’s another aspect of Metro 2033 that soon wears down the player and makes you rethink your stance on the game itself. It’s only in the final quarter of the game when you’ve become accustomed to the weaponry, that you can begin to have real fun with them.

It would’ve been nice for Metro 2033 to deliver more on the fear of its world and concentrate on scaring the player, during my time with the game I often felt that my time would be better spent in the Capitol Wasteland or on Pandora, rather than in the darkened tunnels of Moscow. Therein lies one of Metros biggest issues, aside from minimal moments of imagination the game is already quite stagnant due to how many post apocalyptic games on the market.

There are only so many times that we can venture through poisonous gas clouds, take on mutants and deal with disgruntled NPCs, Metro 2033 shines with its story and original game mechanics but falls short on gunplay that leaves a lot to be desired and a game world that we’ve seen a dozen times before.

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Alan Wake (xbox 360) Launching ahead of Schedule

ALAN WAKE STEPS INTO THE LIGHT EARLY IN EUROPE

The psychological action thriller, exclusive to Xbox 360, will be in stores across Europe from 14th May

Microsoft advised earlier that they were delighted to announce that Alan Wake will be hitting stores across Europe on Friday 14th May – a full week ahead of its original release date.

“Fans in Europe have been crying out to get their hands on Alan Wake since it was first announced and we’re thrilled to be able to deliver it to them early,” said David Gosen, VP of Strategic Marketing and LIVE for Xbox 360 EMEA.

In this long-awaited title, exclusive to Xbox 360, players assume the role of Alan Wake, a best-selling crime writer suffering from writer’s block, who escapes to a small town only to experience the mysterious disappearance of his wife. An intense psychological thriller from Remedy, the creators of Max Payne, Alan Wake looks to raise the bar for future games, creating a true cinematic experience.

Rated PEGI 16+, Alan Wake will be available for an estimated retail price of €69.99 or £49.99.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition

By Matt Carey

Some of you may have missed it (or maybe it was just me not paying attention) but Eidos have released a “Game Of The Year” version of their, umm……game of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sneaking onto the shelves like the Dark Knight sneaks in the shadows, this extended package features not only all the DLC that has been released over the 8 months since its first release, but also features the entire game in stunning 3D!

The world and its dog seem to be going 3D crazy at the moment, which isn’t really a bad thing. Especially if you have seen Avatar in all its glory. 3D in video games has been discussed, rumoured and mentioned for the best part of 3 years now too. It seems that there are two kinds of 3D tech; the first is the one made famous by Avatar, stereogram, and the one that we remember from years ago, in films such as the appalling Jaws 3D. However, Batman implements a new one, TriOviz, a clever bit of programming which can be applied to existing titles easily with no messing around with the original code.

So how does this translate to the game? Well, I’m happy to say that the effect is fantastic. Arkham is the perfect environment for this to work. From sitting top of a gargoyle looking down on your enemies, running down a lengthy corridor, to getting outside for the first time, you cannot fail to be impressed. And as for some of the set piece boss battles, the only word that comes to mind is “wow”. It really does add a whole new dimension, if you pardon the pun. I was a bit dubious as to whether it would be that noticeable, and at first you may be forgiven for thinking “hardly worth the effort”. Believe me though, it really is. And to top it off, because this is tacked onto an already existing game, it isn’t littered with pointless “Ooh. Look at this coming out of the screen towards your face” moments. This is great, because it wouldn’t work anyway.

It isn’t one hundred percent perfect, and I wouldn’t expect it to be. It isn’t at Avatar levels either, although I would have been shocked if it was. But as a cheap and easy way for video game companies to utilize the technology without having to mess around too much, then I have no complaints.

Yeah, shelling out another 32 quid is probably a bit much to ask. I have, and that’s my choice, but I don’t regret it. As my first foray into the video game world of 3D, I’m a happy camper. The only people I can really recommend this to are those that didn’t buy Batman in the first place. And if you fall into that category, what the hell were you thinking?

If you are interested in finding out a little more about this technology, as told by people that understand it all far more than I, then check out the following link.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/12/darkworks-shows-off-trioviz-for-games-2d-to-3d-sdk-we-get-a-goo/

It has already been announced that this years’ E3 trade show will feature the new 3D DS from Nintendo, but I’m willing to bet that a whole slew of games will be announcing 3D updates via DLC, as well as some new titles too. As a demonstration of what can be achieved, Batman is a great choice and has me positively salivating at the possibilities. Modern Warfare 3D anyone?

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Pacific – HBO Ten Part Mini Series – Preview

By Neil McCormick

Do not forget, that the HBO mini series starts on SKY Movies tonight at 9pm with episodes 1 and 2. I will shy away from the debate on whether SKY can justify putting this onto their premium movie channels as opposed to SKY 1.

Much as Band of Brothers told the tale of Easy Company of the 101 Airborne in the European Campaign in World War 2, Pacific recreates the experiences of three men belonging to the !st Marine Corp:- Robert Leckie, Eugene Sledge and John Basilone. It covers their enlistment and the war against the Japanese Empire.


Makin, Peleliu, Okinawa, Guadalcanal to a lot of young folk today represent levels in a video game :- Call of Duty : World at War to be precise. However to the young folk of a different generation it represents something a lot worse – War at its most horrible and dangerous. For, in the period 1942 – 45, the Pacific Campaign of World War 2 was fought in these very same places. For the young folk of that generation saw things we in this generation can hardly imagine, let alone comprehend. For while the video game generation can restart a level when their character dies, the previous generation did not have this luxury.

An Electro-candy preview and thoughts regarding the first Two episodes.

Episode 1 – Guadacanal / Leckie

Overview:-

Directly following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Seargent John Basilone ships out to fight the enemy somewhere in the Pacific, and a young journalist called Robert Leckie enlists in the Marine Corps. Sidney Phillips ships off to boot camp after saying farewell to his friend Eugene Sledge, who cannot go with him due to a heart murmur. Eight months later, Phillips and Leckie, having completed boot camp are sent to secure a airfield on Guadalcanal, and to help defend it against counterattack.

Thoughts

I like the symbolism contained in the opening credits, the use of the charcoal crayon with bits of it being cast astray as it marks the paper is a wonderful metaphor of the casualty of war.

The first episode works well, we meet the main characters and start to bond with them quite quickly. Leckie comes across as a deep thinking man, I can predict the war will have a profound affect on him – possibly he will suffer some form of psychological wound at some point during the series? Though it is guilty of cliche in places, Leckie offering to write to a neighbour. Even our first encounter, he is an Irish American so we first get to meet him in a chapel lighting a mass candle. Eugene Sledge is unable to enlist due to a heart murmur and is absolutely gutted. I predict that this murmur will miraculously disappear before too long and he will be able to enlist.

After watching the frightening beach landings in Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan, watching the landing craft approach Guadacanal, I was expecting something similar, but no our marines land with no resistance. This works even better as the marines have to deal with a greater enemy – fear itself. You can see the effect that their surroundings had on them, as they approach the jungle line they stop, it is as if they are reaching a barrier to some unknown.

It is actually not until three quarters of the way through the episode that our protagonists actually encounter the Japanese when they are attacked at night. It is not till morning when you see the beach in front of their position strewn with dead japanese bodies that I truelly appreciated what they had encountered – It is such a brutal exchange as time and time again the Japanese soldiers charged at the line. As Leckie said afterwards “It was like a turkey shoot.”

What follows is one of the most harrowing scenes I have watched so far. Three Japanese soldiers come out of the tree line and whilst two are killed out right. The marines play with the third shooting around him or on minor parts of his body. This is nothing short of torture – he wanted to be killed but they make him suffer until Leckie can watch no more and puts him out of his misery.

I will finish with the words of Leckie to Vera the woman he met in the opening scenes:-


“It is a garden of Evil, the jungle holds both beauty and terror in its depths, most terrible of which is man, we have met the enemy and have learned nothing more about him. I have however learned some things about myself. There are things that men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. it is one thing to reconcile these things with God, another to square it with yourself.”


Episode 2 – Basilone

Overview:-

Back-up lands on Guadalcanal in the form of the 7th marines including Basilone to help defend the airfield. Basilone helps defend against a Japanese night raid, suffering a loss in the process. The marines, after four months of fighting enemies and disease are evacuated off the island.

Thoughts :-

Those two sentences above, do not come close to explaining the events of episode 2. Bastogne in Band of Brothers was my favourite episode, so if an episode in Pacific has now eclipsed it – it must be pretty special.

By jove this episode delivered. From the harsh realities of war to the heroics on the battlefield, to the sobering reality of how life can end in a split second due to fate. This was humanity in one episode.

Our chief protagonist in this episode is John Basilone, his actions in the battle in this episode was to earn him a place in American Military History. His heroicism is nothing short of that seen in Commando comics time and time again. The stuff of legend.

From the opening scene, Hanks et al manage to convey the sense of tension as the marines awaited the japanese attack.

This episode certainly hits you hard, from the suffering the marines endured with a lack of equipment and food, to the bonding between the characters. Even in the harshness of coming under artillery attack, the marines show their humanity, by ensuring a stray dog is kept safe.

The actual main battle only lasts for a mere 8 minutes on screen, but it feels a life time. Basilone was to earn a medal of honor for his actions, moving a machine gun whilst suffering third degree burns, then going out into no man’s land to clear the japanese bodies that had piled up so his fellow marines could maintain a line of fire. Reports of the battle indicate that he would have killed well over 38 japanese soldiers. But all of this had a terrible consequence as Basilone’s friend – Manny Rodriquez who was acting as a runner gets killed.

Basilone would also discover in the next episode that the events of that night would ensure that his role in the war would be very different.

As for Eugene Sledge, back home in America? Well surprise surprise, that heart murmur did clear up. Theren follows a very touching scene between his father and him. The father reveals why he is so opposed to him going to war. His father had been a doctor during the great War:-

“The Worst thing about treating those combat wounds, it was not that they had had their flesh torn, it was that they had had their souls torn out. I dont want to look in your eye some day and see no spark, no love no life. That would break my heart.”

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