NO PAYNE, NO GAIN!

The third person shooter category is not an easy one to nail. Even if you are a rockstar (sic) working on maximum pain (sic, again)! Jokes apart, we took Max Payne 3 for a ride recently (admittedly a bit late). Did it meet our expectations? Read on…

Max’s new avatar makes us think Rockstar may be planning to star Bruce Willis in the next Payne movie!
Source: Joystiq

Max is now older, more depressed, and slower — which, in fact, is a relief given that Rockstar hasn’t always been known for realistic scenarios (remember war tanks falling from the sky?). Max is now on a “protection” detail protection hapless, rich, spoilt brats with shady lineage.

Rodrigo Branco, Max’s employer, doesn’t make you like him — and you get a feeling Max is only trying to wipe off his demons by working for him. Things take a turn for the worse when Rodrigo’s trophy wife, Fabiana, is kidnapped on Max’s watch.

The cut scenes, once you get over their long-winded nature, are an essential component of the game and provides you with an insight into Max’s psyche. They hold the story tightly wound. That said, at some points it does seem like a bit too much — as an ardent Call of Duty and Battlefield fan (yes, there are people who like both!), I like to climb my own ladders and really don’t appreciate having control taken away from me when I need to do something as mundane as climbing a ladder.

The gameplay is relatively smooth too. At times though, you may feel under-weaponed: we have had to empty almost two magazines into a single enemy even when we are shooting straight into him. Our advice: aim for headshots. Like all third person shooters, Max Payne 3 isn’t without it’s share of glitches: for instance, once while we were crouching behind a barrier, Max decided it was time to swim — the ground beneath him turned into water and he struggled to keep floating eventually giving up and deciding to restart the game instead! We have seen such instances in other popular games too, so we aren’t complaining too much (on that note, also check out our picture of FIFA playing on Modern Warfare 3)!

Unlike Ghost Recon and a few other third person shooters, you can’t shift seamlessly from one crouching position to another without getting up first. That typically puts you out there to be shot to smithereens. I really like how Ghost Recon allows you to do a crouch-run from one location to another — but that’s for another story.

Bullet Time: Killing in style never goes out of fashion in Payneland.

Max’s signature moves — Bullet Time and Shoot Dodge — are easy to master and, as always, fun to execute. Max does not regenerate life when shot, the only way to recover is through vials of painkillers that you may (or most likely, may not) find during regular gameplay. In our opinion, it makes the gameplay more exciting (and longer).

The single player runs about 8-10 hours, but you won’t really feel like it has been that long (unless you get some at some point you just can’t get out of!).  The Arcade mode is pretty interesting too — especially New York Minute with its Eagles-esque name, where you are timed to 5 mins of life and are supposed to kill enemies to keep the clock running.  Reminds me of the movie In Time.

The multiplayer is not at all the failure I imagined it might be! You have to first start with noobish Deathmatches but can unlock more modes as you go along.  Gang Wars tries to weave some story-line into the multiplayer mode, which is an unusually tough thing to do.  You have a different objective in each of four different rounds: from eliminating a key enemy (Gears of War 3 style) to claiming territory (Battlefield 3 style).  Multiplayer seems like a whole lot of fun, even though many Battlefield fans will tend to disagree (but hey, that isn’t a fair comparison, right?).

What were your experiences with Max Payne 3?  If you haven’t played it yet, or are on the fence with if you want to invest in it — then we have some great new preowned options for you too! Check out the links below:

Pre-owned: Max Payne 3

XBOX:  http://bit.ly/KBEDee

PS3:  http://bit.ly/LQIVki

New: Max Payne 3

XBOX: http://bit.ly/LQJkmM

PS3: http://bit.ly/LQJj2n

SHOOTERS: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE…AND INDIA

As our team was discussing the poor performance of Syndicate and Ghost Recon in India (decent sales on Xbox, poor on PS3 for the latter) compared to ROW (Ghost Recon is currently the top selling game in the UK for example).  I ventured that I preferred Ghost Recon to both Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  And there it was, the whole GamesINC office turned around towards me with a look of shock and horror.  Before my open minded colleagues could confiscate my PS3, I ran out of the office and to the safety of the Delhi streets (well…).

What is it about shooters that divide everyone’s opinion so much?  And why, in India, are some games such as Battlefield 3 nearly impossible to find whereas others such as Ghost Recon suffered in sales.  Let’s start with a walk down memory lane…

The First Shooters:  One Choice Only But What a Choice

Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.  These defined the shooter genre. Playing Wolfenstein for the first time was eye opening– you’d never seen or experienced this before.  Tearing through Nazi officers with an unseen array of weapons and finishing off by taking on Hitler!  Beat that!

Chainsaw, Room Full of Ammo, Big Taurus Thingy Monster – Three Reasons Doom Revolutionized Shooters

And then Doom arrived and did that the very next year.  Adding diversity to the levels which was limited in Wolfenstein, a much longer single player mode, much better visuals, mutant aliens and deathmatches (where do you think the term comes from?).

At the time – the choice was limited to these two games for the vast majority of gamers, but it really didn’t matter – these games were so good and revolutionnary.  Doom & Wolfenstein created the shooter genre & even industry (most shooters afterwards were called Doom clones).

The Diversification of Shooters:  The Following Waves

It’s impossible to cover shooters from the mid-90s to mid-2010s without writing a dissertation – so let’s keep it high level.  Once Doom had engrained the genre into video gaming – shooters started slowly branching in different directions.  Quake took on the multiplayer mode, Half-Life took it to the next level and had an actual story line (a darn good one at that), Golden Eye wrapped them both into one awesome pack.  Half-Life and Golden Eye helped popularize the genre on consoles.

Someone Is About To Die – Getting Your Hand On The Rocket Launcher Was Always Satisfying

As the industry evolved, games such as Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Syndicate, Deus Ex (to name a few) started taking shooters into different directions offering a variety of games reflecting the varied demands of gamers (as well as the diversity in creative juices among development houses).  The diversification has even lead to different sub genres:  First Person and Third Person.  Some would argue that the games above, especially Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid are not really shooters.  You do shoot in them, no?  And this leads us to today…

Today:  A World of Choices

There are two uncontested big hitters today:  Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  They keep the same fundamental as the originals – unadulterated action.  Sure – there’s a story thrown in there for good measure, but it’s all about blasting your way through levels or through online opponents. And boy does the formula work:  Modern Warfare 3 hit $1 Billion in sales in 16 days, more than any other release across all digital entertainment genres (it reached $1 Billion before Avatar and Harry Potter:  The Deathly Hallows – Part 2).  There have been a number of similar style games over the last twelve months which haven’t quite hit the same standard this year such as Homefront and Bodycount to name a couple.

Battlefield 3 Multiplayer – It’s Beautiful, It’s Chaotic, And It’s Hours of Endless Fun

For those not so much into the spray and pray – there’s a myriad of additional choices, some different by degrees (Max Payne 3, Black Ops, Crysis), some offering completely different experiences (Deux Ex, Ghost Recon, Uncharted).  There’s also been a merging with RPG which has given us some absolute classics such as Red Dead and the GTA series.

The multiplayer has also really taken to the fore – even games such Max Payne & Uncharted 3 offer multiplayer modes.  Development houses have kept gamers hooked for tens if not hundreds of hours of gameplay with awesome multiplayer modes.  For example, one of our regular customers wanted to trade in Max Payne 3 – we called him up and suggested he try the multiplayer before he made his decision.  He hasn’t traded it in, he likes the multiplayer too much – not a good business decision, but we’re gamers and we want people to get the maximum enjoyment.  In addition to the multiplayer, new DLCs appearing all the time mean that there’s no need to get a new game – as developers are constantly adding new maps, challenges, weapons to your game.

The Future:  What does it look like?

Developers will keep trying to keep gamers hooked into their games for as long as possible.  This year does not see such a heavy hitting line up as the end of last year (2012 actually might be a lighter year between big line ups in 2011 and 2013).  Modern Warfare fans might make the jump into Black Ops 2 in the winter when it releases, whereas Battlefield 3 fan boys seem a loyal bunch, and might stay away from a Call of Duty game – from observation, they could be playing Battlefield 3 for a while (I nearly got lynched on Facebook too for suggesting Ghost Recon is better than BF3).  Medal of Honor: Warfighter might be the big surprise as they are timing their release to perfection – jut when the market might be looking for a new traditional shooter.

Medal of Honor – Real World Conflicts, Tight Graphics, Chaotic, and Perfect Timing. Could Be A Big Hit

Does that mean the end of diversity in the gaming industry? By no means – sales of Max Payne 3 have been good, and gamers are always looking to get into new games – so while the multiplayers will keep fans occupied, it won’t stop them buying the latest games on release.  Over the last twelve months, games like Uncharted, Deus Ex, Saints Row The Third and L.A. Noire have entertained even the biggest BF3 or MW3 fan.

And this year, well next year actually – there’s a lot of interesting games in proposition which could take a lot of genres to the next level. Crysis 3 in particular looks stunning, and seems to be bringing a lot more options to players. Tomb Raider seems to have reinvented itself into a grittier more real game.  The Last of Us just looks like something we haven’t before.  And finally we can’t wait to get our hands on WatchDogs, which looks like a Deus Ex on steroids.  The last 3 in particular promise so much in terms of the evolution of shooters. Check out our preview of what’s coming in our E3 round up.

Will it look any different in India?

In India, the reason that games such as Ghost Recon and Syndicate struggled even more than internationally is that they were not hitting the spray and pray demand of the market – as well as not having the multiplayer following that will allow you to play against your friends.  The stealth and cooperative modes that these games offered do not appeal as much.  If you can shoot a thousand enemies per minute, why settle for ten?  Especially if those enemies are not your friends…

Watch Dogs – Cyberpunk, Strong Story, Intense Action, Good Looking, Everyone Is Hackable. Hits All Our Buttons

And in the case of Syndicate – the Indian market’s dynamics, a younger average age of gamers meant that the emotional attachment that us old timers had with the title did not push them to buy it. If anything – the Indian market is going to heavily go for the heavy hitters and less likely to go for the offshoots in the shooter genre.  With time – as the market keeps growing and ageing – things might change…but for the moment, we expect Black Ops 2 to perform well.  Medal of Honour is a bit of an unknown quantity for the Indian market, it could do very well as gamers look for a new shooter and it’s timing is perfect…or it could suffer the same fate as Ghost Recon and Syndicate.  We’re not expecting too much from Halo 4…but you never know, Halo fan boys might come out of the closet for the latest one.

2013 should be interesting – the popularity of such the reinvented Tomb Raider, the widely expected Last of Us and Watch Dogs will tell us a lot about the preferences of gamers in India.

What are your thoughts?  Did you choose Max Payne 3 or Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?  Why?

As always – keep up to date with our latest news, offers, and releases on Facebook and Twitter.  For all your gaming needs in India – shop @ GamesINC.  www.gamesinc.in

We offer all the latest and greatest shooters on our Web site.  If you wanna pick up some shooters at unbeatable prices, check out our high quality used games for Xbox here (includes Mass Effect 3, MW3, Black Ops & many more) or our PS3 collection (includes MW3, Syndicate, Deus Ex & many more).

Disclaimer:  Some people will have objections to the classifications of shooter, especially for games such as Tomb Raider, GTA, and Deus Ex. I’ve taken the “if you shoot something, it’s a shooter” perspective.  Controversial, I know…

And apologies to PC fan boys for not covering your platform in a lot of depth (except for the early days). You’ve accused us of being too console oriented, and that’s true – we write on what we know. We’re actually looking for PC bloggers if you’re interested…

 

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE: THANK YOU, E3 2012

This article comes to us from our guest writer, Anish Kataria. Anish is a passionate gamer, a car and bike enthusiast, and a generally happy guy. He can be reached on twitter @AnishKataria.

Gamers in India have never had it easy!  Trying to find a little bit of gaming nirvana has always been a difficult task in our country, and has led countless gamers to tread cautiously across narrow by-lanes and deal with vendors whose products left a lot to be desired.  The delayed software/hardware launches, freakishly high import tariffs, inaccessible network services (thank you, Sony!), and the overall apathy of the international gaming community toward us.

Sony-E3-Never-Stop-Playing

E3 is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry.

But lamentations aside, let’s get to the reason why I am writing this article.  The Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3) is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry and is presented by the Entertainment Software Association.  E3 2012 was held between June 5th and 7th in Los Angeles.  So, here’s my take on the 5 titles that gamers should look forward to.  Unfortunately, some of them are tied down to certain platforms but that just means that we’ll have to call upon our brethren for access, unless you’re one of the lucky few who have both the PS3 and the Xbox 360!

Crysis 3

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Q2 2013

The Crysis series of games has always been the top of any list that I’ve created as a result of the exhilarating game-play, brilliant graphics, and well-written storyline.  Initial trailer reveals that Crytek (the game developer) has another ace up its sleeve and ‘Prophet’ (the main protagonist) looks amazingly cool handling the killer composite bow with 4 different arrow tips (remember John Rambo facing the Russians in Afghanistan?). The trailer shows that the developers have made it easier for gamers to use multiple paths/ways to plan your attack before each mission!  Other interesting bits include being able to control alien weaponry for the first time in the series and multiple pre-scripted settings for the nanosuit.

The game starts with the Prophet returning to New York City in 2047 and finding the city enclosed by a nanodome that turns most of the city into a rainforest.  The corrupt Cell Corporation (Yes, every cool game must have one evil corporation!) is trying to grab both land and technology, while Prophet battles wicked aliens and Cell’s thugs for payback!

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter

Platform(s):  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  End October 2012

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter (also called Medal of Honor: 2) builds on, and is a direct sequel to, the critically acclaimed series reboot Medal of Honor from 2010.  Expect some breathtaking visuals and immersive surroundings from this game as it’s based on an evolved version of DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 engine (the one used in Battlefield 3!).  The single player mode will continue to follow the story of Tier 1 operators who are the most precise, aggressive, and disciplined (make sense?) warrior in the US arsenal.  Every single mission in this game is aligned to an actual historical event or a real world hotspot (e.g. Somalia).

The game’s stage-debut at E3 provided a great insight into the vast number of preferences on offer in the single player campaign.  This includes taking out entire buildings with air support, using a remote-controlled robot that offers grenade launchers and Gatling guns, and engaging in firefights in different ways.  To top it off, the multiplayer mode features 13 playable Tier 1 special force units from 10 countries!

Watch Dogs

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release: 2013

You are no longer an individual; you’re a data cluster bound to a global network—so says the trailer (woah!). Storyline, good storyline, the most awesome storyline! This game from Ubisoft Montreal has unleashed a torrent of tweets across cyberspace, left the gaming community stunned, and is undoubtedly the most anticipated game coming out of E3.

The game takes you to Chicago of the near future, one of many cities controlled by a supercomputer called ctOS (Central Operating System).  ctOS controls almost every piece of technology in the windy city and collates/processes information on all its residents.  In the game, you’ll play Aiden Pearce, a highly skilled hacker who can kick ass in the physical domain as well.  Gameplay demo from E3 showed Aiden jam cellphones to serve as a quick distraction, access personal information from the central hub to start conversations, tapping phone calls to retrieve critical information, and manipulate traffic lights to cause massive damage.  The game seemed a bit GTAish when the gameplay demo was demonstrated but slowly started revealing the strategic insight and behavioral tendencies of our antihero (?).

Overall, cyberpunk comes back with a bang!

Tomb Raider

Platforms:  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early March 2013

Guess who’s back?  Yes, she’s back—the fantasy of every teenage boy at the turn of the century.  Tomb Raider became a household name (Angelina Jolie may have played a small part) because of the way Lara Croft was designed (sexy, suave, intelligent, and dangerous), the depth and multiplicity of plot (first 3 titles mostly?), and the ever changing game environments.

This new game is a fresh start for the franchise and is a prequel to the original series.  In this game, a young naïve Lara Croft gets stranded on a tropical island in the dragon’s triangle after the ship she was travelling in is hit by a storm and shattered in two.  The game shows how Lara developed her tomb raiding skills because of chance and not by choice (she’s really scared of tombs in the beginning of the game).  Further, it makes Lara more human, more believable, and develops her character/her physical presence slowly as the game progresses.  More so, it makes you forget the cold icy Lara of the past and gives her a heart (she apologizes to a deer she had to kill in order to get some much needed nutrition!).

It looks like the developers have done a really good job of adding some RPG elements to the game, making it a wee bit more open-world rather than the linear (reach-your-objective games of the past), and making her physical movements more authentic.

Halo 4

Platform(s):  Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early November 2012

Personally, I’m not looking forward to this game since I feel this franchise is over-rated (and I don’t have an XBOX 360) but since this is the highest selling game on the Xbox platform, I just had to include it (yes, double standards!).  On second thoughts, the new game actually looks pretty cool.  Graphically, the engine in Halo 4 seems to be doing a better job than the one in Halo 3 as the lighting effects feel better and Master Chief’s character model looks a bit more detailed.

The game continues 5 years after Halo 3 ends and marks the return of Master Chief and his best friend Cortana after they were lost in space.  Action in the game takes place on an unknown Forerunner (race of ancient beings) planet.  Other game elements highlighted across gaming discussion boards include Cortana’s insanity, increased emphasis on exploration/discovery, and aligning the multiplayer campaign with single player story elements.

Other notable mentions from the event include:

The Last of Us (only PS3)

This game is going to be awesome! Check out this discussion from the great guys at http://www.ign.com.

God of War Ascension  (only PS3)

Epic series comes back with a bang and also adds a multiplayer mode!

Assassin’s Creed 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and WiiU) 

Shows potential.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

I feel that the series is over hyped (especially after the last one) and I’m not really looking forward to it!

Dead Space 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Scary, very scary!

In other gaming news – DICE has just launched Battlefield 3 premium.  This membership service costs a one-time fee of USD 49.99 (Rs 1899 in India, if I remember correctly from the figure I saw late last night!).  This service is a must have for any BF3 aficionado as it offers all five expansion packs (Back to Karkland, Close Quarters, Armored Kill, Aftermath, and Endgame), exclusive in-game items, online double XP events, and insider tips/tricks from DICE.  I really want to get this but I’m wondering how to bypass Sony’s hackable payment structure. Sigh!

Till we meet again, may the force be with you!

THE CALM AFTER THE STORM: A RATIONAL GUIDE TO BATTLEFIELD 3 AND MODERN WARFARE 3

This article comes to us from our guest writer, Anish Kataria. Anish is a passionate gamer, a car and bike enthusiast, and a generally happy guy. He can be reached on twitter @AnishKataria.

The gaming world’s ultimate showdown took place in the latter half of 2011, when Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 were launched within a month of each other.  Most gamers (including this particular MW fan-boy) were blown over and confused by the blitzkrieg of marketing offenses and pre-launch videos offered by Electronic Arts and Activision.  Most gamers reading this article might have already purchased a copy of one of these games.  That said, for the few who are still undecided/waiting for prices to reduce/thinking about getting a multiplayer pass, this review might help you make an informed decision.

For the uninitiated, MW3 builds on the success of the original MW, MW2, and related title Black Ops which dominated the gaming industry with unmatched gamer experience (both visually and game design).  BF3 comes from a slightly different genealogy that started in 2002 with Battlefield 1942 and primarily aimed at the PC gamer.  Its last iteration, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was critically acclaimed—but a moderate success commercially when compared to the Modern Warfare titles.

So how do these games stack up against each other?  Modern Warfare 3 (to a large extent the series) makes you feel like Superman.  It’s relatively simple, unabashed arcade shooting style which focuses on the ability of one man to change the world provides the gamer a fast-paced ego rush that in itself is a highly-entertaining gaming experience.  Battlefield 3, on the other hand, makes you feel like Batman.  The learning curve is steep—some parts of the game almost force you to give up the controller, while others require you need to change the way you play—and you don’t have any superpowers that make you invincible.  Working effectively with your squad, selecting the right weapons, mastering key tactics, and being nimble on your feet are some of the aspects of the game that any gamer needs to master.

Let’s see how these games compare across categories.

Graphics

Frostbite 2: Sometimes you just want to take a break and enjoy the surroundings

Battlefield 3 leverages the brutal computing power of the Frostbite 2 engine (Link).  This translates into smooth animations, immersive yet destructible environments, dynamic lighting and real-world visual effects (e.g., shadows, water droplets, smoke, and other textures).  The wide range and high quality of visuals present in all different game modes are astonishing but they can overwhelm the gamer at times.  Sometimes finding that critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle can be taxing due to overwhelming visual input.

Modern Warfare 3 is based on an evolved/tweaked version of the I-Ward/MW2 engine.  The lack of innovation/investment results in the graphics in MW3 feeling a little dated when compared to BF3.  The lighting and animations seem to have been enhanced in comparison to MW2 but is nowhere near the realism of BF3.  That said, the speed and build quality will keep gamers engaged.

Advantage:  Battlefield 3

Single Player Campaign

Makarov is back.

Captain Soap MacTavish, Captain John Price, and their evil nemesis Makarov return to light the world on fire in Modern Warfare 3.  MW3 continues from where MW2 left off.  It feels like a high on adrenaline, big budget Hollywood movie but sadly backed by a flat storyline.  It does have ‘scripted’ plot twists but I bet those of us used to the franchise see most of them coming.  I still love the characters, the transitions between missions, and the amazing superhero type quests in exotics locales.  It gets you high on the familiar, keeps you away from everything that you hold dear, and makes you beg for more.  That said, I would have preferred if the storyline hadn’t been carried over from MW2.

I had high expectations of the campaign mode in Battlefield 3 as a result of the incredible storyline of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and the pre-launch teaser videos provided by EA.  BF3 puts you in the shoes of Staff Sergeant Henry Blackburn fighting the evil PLR held together by the main antagonist, Solomon.  The single player mode is based on a storyline that has been seen before, boring scripting, an AI that knows all and kills all.  It does have a couple of over-the-top moments where it feels awesome (but these are limited to the cut scenes between missions/introductions to mission).  The campaign seems like a bunch of cool ideas which were over cooked and poorly executed.  Further, sometimes it seems that the developers consciously designed the single player mode to be frustrating and painful.

Advantage:  Modern Warfare 3.  It’s moronic but I still associate with the characters.

Multi Player Modes

Aerial dogfights on BF3: You should play the multiplayer just for that!

Realism, different abilities for different solider classes, huge maps, insane graphics, vast magnitude of weapons… phew!  Multiplayer is what Battlefield 3 was designed for.  24 console players (or 64 PC players) can collaborate and overrun/capture/annihilate enemy positions in the immersive multiplayer maps.  The author of this article wasn’t a big multiplayer fan (apart from the customary FIFA sessions online) until he came across this game.  The multiplayer of this game is addictive beyond comparison and will turn you into ‘Level-Up’ junkie who only cares about when he can fire a Stinger missile, drive an Abrams Tank, or fly a Sukhoi-25 Frogfoot.  The most critical differentiator here is that the maps turn into huge battlefields with different types of gamers (infantry soldiers, tank commanders, and combat aircraft pilots) fighting against each other at the same time.

Modern Warfare 3 builds on and enhances the multiplayer experience from MW2.  It’s fast, addictive, and you will not get bored playing it over and over again.  Infinity Ward has added the ability to set up streak rewards for support play rather than the aggressive over-the-top one man army style antics (gamers who focus on maintaining a high kill-to-death ratio over supporting the team).  Overall, it’s a great package that’ll make you log on and play because of the large number/experience/quality of gamers using the multiplayer functionality.  That said, I’m disappointed that Infinity Ward hasn’t pushed the envelope over here.  They seem to be happy with just sticking with what has worked in the past.

Advantage:  Battlefield 3

My Choice

It comes down to choosing between a glamorous supermodel for a single encounter vs. the girl who you truly love (is that even possible?) for the rest of your life.  I choose Battlefield 3.  What do you choose?

Where to Pick One Up?

Why, at GamesINC of course.  At the time of writing, we have copies of Battlefield 3 pre-owned and Modern Warfare 3 both new and pre-owned on PS3.  If Xbox is your platform, then we only have Modern Warfare 3 new – but we should getting BF3 new, as well as pre-owned versions of both in the near future.

Looking Forward To

The Last of Us

GAMES FROM 2011 YOU SHOULD NOT MISS: PART II

The second in our three part review of the best games of 2011 features one of the best games of all time, and two games that pleasantly surprised us. With such a fantastic line up of games hitting our consoles last year, the three games listed below really focus on a great single-player experience.

Pick one of these up new or pre-owned, you will not be disappointed!

Unchartered 3: Drake’s Deception

A rollercoaster story, visuals with beauty and depth, intuitive and riveting game play, and great character build ups makes Unchartered 3 the best single-player game of the year, and dare I say all time? If you play games for great single-player modes, then you just cannot miss Unchartered 3. Actually, if you have a pulse you shouldn’t miss Unchartered 3 (however faint the pulse) – it is one of the ultimate entertainment experiences (across all forms of entertainment). Naughty Dog have done the impossible and improved on Unchatered 2 (voted best PS3 game of all time by Play magazine).

The game starts in the wet streets of London where you end up in a pub brawl. Your journey propels you to an abandoned Chateau in France, a crusader castle in Syria, a pirate lair, and an abandoned city in the desert of Yemenon to trace Sir Francis Drake’s mysterious voyage in the Middle East. Mind blowingly beautiful sceneries often force you to slow down and admire the view. The game itself builds on the previous versions of running, climbing, hand to hand combat, and shoot offs with groups of bad guys. The hand to hand combat is seriously improved and shooting mode works seamlessly – while not at the level of a BF3, it is very enjoyable nonetheless.

Riveting Action, Stunning Landscapes, and Great Characters - Unchartered 3 Delivers

Riveting Action, Stunning Landscapes, and Great Characters - Unchartered 3 Delivers

The character building and story line immerse you so deeply in the game that it is nearly impossible to put down. The cut scenes work so seamlessly with the game and often lead to rollercoaster game sequences (whether it is escaping a burning down castle or hanging onto the ropes of a cargo plane). In fact, the character building and action are so good they are looking at turning the franchise into a movie. There is also a great coop mode and the online multiplayer is surprisingly good. This game is the answer to the prayers in our blog post (How to Ruin a Video Game in Five Simple Steps). Unchartered 3 is the one game you should not to miss from 2011 (and that is saying something with the quality of the competition), so go and buy it NOW!!!

Deus Ex : Human Revolution

Deus Ex was the surprise of the year for us. While it’s predecessor, Deus Ex, lies in the Hall of Fame, we were expecting another Duke Nukem; but boy were we wrong! Human Revolution does not have the multiplayer modes of Battlefield 3, it is not the complete package of Unchartered 3 – but it is a really deep single-player experience. Picture Metal Gear Solid meets Red Dead Redemption meets Infamous meets L.A. Noire. The game is set in a futuristic cyberpunk style world where humans can be augmented by humans. You play Adam Jensen, who (yes, you’ve guessed it), is seriously augmented as a result of a terrorist attack leaving him in near death status. Your aim is to track down the perpetrators of the attack and as you progress, you go deeper into a global conspiracy theory revolving around your lost ex-wife and your current employer.

Multifunctional Augments - The Arm Blade: Useful for Killing Enemies and Slicing Your Morning Bread

As you progress through the game, you can augment your character with some interesting features: a 360 degree grenade, the ability to jump ten meters in the air, become invisible for short periods of time or punch through walls. Human Revolution gives you the freedom to decide the style of play you want: depending on how you choose to augment your character, you can take a stealth approach, a brute force approach, or a mixture of both – and these apply also to the open world of each city. There are also a number of side missions on offer which tie in very nicely with the main story line, and don’t feel pointless like is so often the case. We preferred the stealth approach, as the brute force approach seemed to less intuitively go with the game. Though we did get a surprise when the first boss required a brutal set up…

If you like deep one player experiences with strong story line, then Deus Ex is a game you can’t miss.

L.A. Noire

Mmm - That Is A Strange Place To Fall Asleep

L.A. Noire is a bit like Shah Ruh Khan as in you either love it or hate it. You play a cop in post WW2 LA, traumatized by the war and the decisions our man had to make. This is a sleuth game with a straight story line coupled with a free world environment where you can pursue additional cases. You solve cases by finding clues and interrogating characters (using both the innovative face reading feature and the clues you have gathered). You also get involved in tailing suspects, or more hardcore car chases and full on shoot outs with gangsters.

The game play is intuitive as you’d expect from a 2011 release, and the story line is well written and keeps you hooked onto your haunted character. How you perform on each case will also modify the story line and how quickly you rise through the ranks of the police force.

If you’re looking for a very different game or love crime shows and solving crimes, then L.A. Noire is well worth the investment.

GAMES FROM 2011 YOU SHOULD NOT MISS: PART I

You have to admit, the year 2011 has been like no other when it comes to gaming.  There have been great games in every genre that has revolutionized how we think of gaming.  Further, a new genre of (ahem) casual gaming has been defined by multiple motion gaming releases, games the true core gamer would not have considered otherwise but is now willing to throw caution to the winds and play a bit of bowling over beer with friends!  We compiled this list of games that we were glad to have played this year.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, and is also the first of our multi-part series of articles.

Third-Person Shooter:  Gears of War 3

Join Marcus Fenix in his search to rescue his father

Now what gamer is not a fan of the ultra-adrenaline junkie that is Marcus Fenix, with arms the size of Bollywood damsels in distress!  In Gears of War 2, Marcus and his faithful friend Dom battle hordes and hordes of Locusts to save the last city of Jacinto.  Gears 3 is very similar to the legend of Gears 2, with a lot more style and polish.  Every movement appears more distinct, more pronounced, every shade of color a bit easier to look at.  The storyline still attempts a good bit of emotional ups and downs, but only as much as a Rambo-like character can pull off.  Gears 3 starts with a surprising twist to the story: Marcus’ dad is still alive! In this season though, audience favorite Dom takes a plunge at the invaders with a truck load of explosives and lays down his life for his squad.   Four-player cooperative campaigns and new multiplayer modes also makes Gears 3 a sweet game to play online against teenagers high on coke (the cola variety, of course!).

First-Person Shooter:  Battlefield 3

Take a moment to admire the power of Frostbite 2

Ok, I will go ahead and say it.  I am a Battlefield fan and no, I don’t think Modern Warfare 3 sucks.  Both are great games, but I am going to write about BF3 because I am the one with the laptop right now.  EA’s Frostbite 2 engine’s capabilities really shine through in this edition of Battlefield.  The level of detail that this engine manages to add to the campaign is immaculate.  A scene where you turn around from crossfire to notice a helicopter flipping in mid-air, only to have a 80 storey building come crashing on it, provides you with a sense of awe.  The enormity and mammoth-scale of it all makes you sit up and notice.  The storyline itself is much more predictable than BF2: Bad Company and follows the usual formulaic components of Russians, nuclear weapons, and middle eastern rogue regimes. But that isn’t what puts BF3 on our map, it is the multiplayer action that this game brings to us.  The MP action is almost like a different game and allows you to do a lot of different things you wished the campaign would (e.g., not making you wait for that exact moment so you can hit X to score that perfect punch on the enemy’s face!).

Sports:  FIFA12

Enter a whole new world of tactical defending

It is difficult to be a core gamer and not like the FIFA franchise.  The biggest change EA delivered on its franchise is augmented defensive plays.  Tactical defending provides a lot more realistic feel to the game, allowing you to contain, marshall, and jockey your opponents.  On the other hand, precision dribbling now allows you to keep the ball with you longer…once you have figured it out!  The last thing that makes the FIFA12 experience stand out is the Player Impact Engine, which — like the name suggests — makes for better collisions.  Each player’s “mass” and angle of impact (among other things) are taken into account to simulate collisions that are as close to the real thing as current technology can get.  So this legend is another game that you must possess.

These are only three games to feature on the first of our series.  Within the genre’s above, what other games do you think should make the cut?  Crysis 2? Deus Ex: Human Revolution? Uncharted 3?  Post your comments below to let us know!