Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 55 - Lemmings Revolution

So it's been an awful long time since I wrote one of these blogs - but in my defence, I've been quite busy. Plus, I intended to try something different and do this as a video review, but then it just seemed like an awful lot more work, so I'm sticking to typing! Besides, none of you want to see my face anyway!

No picture of me today. Mostly because of the following reasons:
1) I can't find the case for the game
2) My phone battery is dead
3) I can't be arsed to fix either of the first two issues!
Lemmings Revolution
Released on: PC
Played on: PC
Release date: 2000

I had thought that I'd played at least one game on every gaming platform I own in the course of this playthrough - and then I got to Lemmings Revolution, and realised that I hadn't actually played a PC game yet!

When I was a teenager, the PC was my primary gaming platform - on which I played such wondrous games as Doom, X-Wing, the Secret of Monkey Island and, of course, Lemnmings. But in recent years I have drifted away from the PC as a gaming platform - because there's always confusion about how to make a game work! If you buy an Xbox 360 game, you know you can just put it in the drive and it will play. PC gaming on the other hand means that you have to tweak settings, make sure your graphics card is up to scratch, create boot disks... (oh wait, that was when I had a 386SX16 - oh well, you get the idea!)

But I obtained Lemmings Revolution from a charity sale a year or so ago and picked it up for the grand price of 50p - so I thought it'd be worth a go!

And then it wouldn't play.....


And then eventually, after some messing about, it did. So what did I think of Lemmings Revolution, after all that faffing about to get it running?

Well, it's OK. But it's nowhere near as good as the original - or the sequel for that matter.

The idea is quite good as the lemmings are on cylindrical mazes - so you are working on a 2D plane with 3D graphics - as opposed to the frankly awful 3D Lemmings which came out before this. And the sound is OK, and the graphics aren't bad.

The controls are great - still as intuitive as the original - just point and click. (A practical reason why console ports of Lemmings and it's sequels have never been as engrossing as playing it on a PC).

But the level design just feels a bit.... I dunno... bland?

I played through the first twenty or so levels (I say the first twenty - just like many Lemmings games, you don't have to tackle them in a linear fashion, so my first twenty wouldn't be the same as your first twenty. But then you don't own the game, do you?) and by the end I was just bored.

I didn't feel any particular challenge, and I solved almost all of the levels on my first try. Now I'm not THAT good at Lemmings, so this has obviously been dumbed down a little from the intensity of the earlier games, which is a shame.

Don't get me wrong, there are some funky additions, teleporters, little anti-gravity things that turn your lemmings upside down, switches... all of these are workable additions to the game. But without the excitement of the levels, I just couldn't bring myself to continue.

And yes, I appreciate that there may be some extremely well designed levels further down the line - but I'm not sure I want to waste the time getting there!

So I left Lemmings Revolution feeling both disappointed and let down. These scrappy little blue robe-wearing, green-haired entertainers from the early games feel that they have been replaced by someone in a beige suit, wearing a beige tie, who has recently bathed in a bath entirely filled with "meh". The excitement has gone. And for me, that's the shark-jumping moment for any sequel...

Oh well.

Rating: 5/10
Time played: About 30 minutes
Will I play it again? I'll leave it installed on my PC for years, but I probably won't choose to fire it up anytime soon...

So, what am I playing next? *Has a look at his sheet* Oooh - you'll be in for a surprise!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 54 - Duke Nukem 3D

That's right, the pictures of me holding
games and making stupid faces are back!
Duke Nukem 3D
Released on: PC, Sega Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 64, Mega Drive...... and many many more
Played on: Sega Saturn
Release date: 1996

It's time for another FPS review... no, don't skip to the end assuming that I hated it. It's possible that I didn't... I mean, I know that my track record is that of the four FPS' I have reviewed in this blog, three of them have scored a 6 or under... but that doesn't mean I've written of the genre, does it?

Well, no.

First of all, I must make one thing clear. There is no genre of games which I would completely write off. I'll try anything. Sports games, strategy games, RPGs... hell, I'll even play Sega Bass Fishing to give it a try. As sometimes you can get a diamond in the rough.

And is Duke Nukem 3D that diamond?

Well - sort of.

I remember playing Duke 3D for ages when it first came out on PC, and I thought it was one of the greatest things ever. It was like Doom - but funny! How could I not like it? And that sense of good humour and entertainment swept me up and kept me playing through this review.

Don't get me wrong, as a game it is far from perfect. In fact, if "perfect" was a small island in the outer hebredes, Duke Nukem 3D would be somewhere in orbit around Jupiter.

But for some reason, it's entertaining. Even though it is full of problems (wonky jumping physics, the dodgy sound effects, the difficulty level that isn't so much a curve as it is a series of random, very sharp, unexpected spikes!)  it still kept me smiling all the way through - through the frustrations, through the strange level design - I was always entertained.

And sometimes that's all that you need from a game! It's not a game I shall EVER play to completion, because I suspect it would wear thin after a while, but for the occasional bit of FPS blasting? I could do far worse.

I suppose I ought to talk about how this game, originally designed for PC, fares on a console with a traditional joypad setup - and the answer is, remarkably well! (Apart from the fact that you cannot aim upwards, so if enemies are hovering you need to jump AND shoot - which drives your accuracy down through the floor!)

This has been a very "bitty" review, I know, but I feel like a review should reflect a game, and I feel that Duke Nukem 3D is fun in short bursts.

(Plus, I know that the previous blog was very long, so I thought I'd make this shorter!)

Rating: 7/10
Time played: Just under an hour.
Will I play it again? Not instantly, but probably sometime in the future...

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 53 - Pokemon Silver

Pokemon Silver
Released on: Game Boy Colour
Played on: Super Game Boy (aka the Game Boy adaptor for the SNES)
Release date: 2000

When you live with someone else who loves games, you end up with games that are yours, games that are the other persons, and games that you both play that no-one remembers who originally bought.

The Pokemon games in our house all belong exclusively to Neety, and as such I had decided that they would not feature in this playthrough. This wasn't just because they were not "my" games, but for another reason as well.

Nintendo in their infinite wisdom (in order for households to buy a copy of each Pokemon game for each child who wishes to play) only allow one save slot per game on Pokemon, and as one of my rules for the playthrough consist of starting a game from scratch, if I had played the three or four Pokemon games we have, then I'd have erased Neety's progress on all of them - which as you can imagine, would not have gone down well.

Then Neety pointed out that we own a copy of Pokemon silver where the internal battery is buggered - so it doesn't remember save games. (Well sometimes it does, but not for long). So with her blessing I (reluctantly) put Pokemon on my list.

"But Brawny, why were you reluctant to play Pokemon, when it's a famous Nintendo franchise, and you are a lover of all things Nintendo?"

Much as I hate to admit it, I was prejudiced. When Pokemon was released, my younger brother was very into them, whereas teenage me declared them "kids stuff" and never picked one of the games up.

Until now....

So I sat down with the control pad in my hand, Neety watching with interest, and powered up the game.

Before I get into the game itself, let me just say a quick word about the Super Game Boy.

If, like me, you own Game Boy games and a SNES, then you should have one of these wonderful converters - because it does make playing those game boy games a more social thing (plus you don't have to go searching for the "right" light to play a Game Boy under, because we all know they're a pain to play in normal light!)

But anyway, back to Pokemon Silver. I would tell you what the plot of the game is, but it's the same plot as that in every Pokemon game (from what I understand) - take your fluffy animal out to battle other fluffy animals. Defeat everyone. Capture all Pokemon. Be great.

But the point is, it's an RPG, (And no, I don't mean a Rocket Propelled Grenade...) and I may have mentioned before what my problems with RPGs are. But I approached it with an open mind, and do you know what?

I really enjoyed it.

Now I'm not necessarily saying that I would play every Pokemon game to completion - but certainly for the hour and a half I was playing, I didn't get bored and the time flew past. The battles are engaging, and the tutorials are subtle - with you learning things as you progress instead of the modern trend of spending the first half hour of the game on a tutorial mission with no real point and that explains everything as if you had the brainpower of a ZX81.

The graphics are well done, with nice big sprites and the few colours used adding to the atmosphere. The music, on the other hand, is more than well done - it is irritatingly catchy! (And, as a side note, apparently my wife can sing every piece of Pokemon incidental music, as I discovered!)

But the biggest thing I can praise this game for, is the wonder of exploration. I am sure that later on in the game you have to backtrack and you get fed up with fighting Rattatta's for the 9 billionth time, but I was forever excited to press onwards and play just to see what I would come across next!

Yes the random encounters get annoying, and there's a lot of walking that goes on - but there's nothing worse about this game than that!

There's not a lot more I can say really - I thought I'd hate it, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Who saw that coming?

Rating: 8.5/10
Time Played: 1 and a half hours
Would I play it again? I probably would - although I might have to bust the cartridge open and replace the battery first!

Next time - It's time to encounter a game my teenage self DID play, featuring a blond chauvinist pig who smokes cigars and damages everything in sight....

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Great Playthough: Game 52 - Sonic Adventure 2 Battle

I would like to start this blog with an apology for the lack of updates. I know I have done this before here, and here, and here... but this time I have a real excuse for the quiet time - Neety and I moved house! And I've only just got my computer back up and running! (And yes, I still use a desktop computer - you know why? Because they are better. Accept it all you laptop-luvvies!)

So without further ado, let me introduce our next game....

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Released on: Nintendo Gamecube
Played on: Nintendo Wii
Release date: 2002

Yes, it's a Sonic game. I am aware that I've already reviewed quite a few of these, but I have a soft spot for the speedy blue hedgehog - it's not my fault!

(Disclaimer - It may actually be my fault. Sorry.)

This is the second game that Sonic appeared in which was in 3D. The first was Sonic Adventure, which I shall be covering on another blog. Interestingly, the game "Sonic 3D" (which I shall also be reviewing later in this experiment) is not in what we now think of as 3D, as it is an isometric game based around 2D sprites. Confused? I'm sure you are. I am, and I understand what the hell I'm talking about!

Sonic Adventure 2, meanwhile, started life on the Dreamcast, before being hurredly ported to the Gamecube when Sega threw all of it's stocks of Dreamcasts into the sea and pretended it had only ever made games, rather than consoles. (Which is a shame, as I like the Dreamcast!) The gamecube port simply added "Battle" to the end of the title and faffed about with Chao gardens and extra multiplayer modes.

But multiplayer isn't what we play Sonic games for.... Single player high-speed adventure is!


Sorry, for a moment there I thought I was talking about a 2D Sonic game.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle has some of the best moments of Sonic games, and an awful lot of moments that - if they are not the worst, are certainly down at the bottom of the barrel with the mouldy apples and the broken spoons that have previously been used to scrape the bottom of said barrel.

(Again, I must apologise for my metaphors for being so tortured in this article - and I must also give a big shout out to Neety, who was able to remind me of the word metaphor when I couldn't remember it!)

Firstly, I must state that I always have a problem with Sonic games that appear vaguely set in the real world. The original Sonic 2D games have Sonic, other animal friends and Dr Robotnik, (I shall NEVER call him Eggman!) and in my mind, that seems to be a reasonable (if slightly strange) population of the world. Then, when they start to have other humans, and police chasing Sonic, for some reason it stretches the credibility of that world to breaking point for me.

I'm not sure that paragraph made sense - but I'm not rewriting damnit! Now is not the time for re-writing!

But ignoring that, the problems with this game are many. And the big one is that you only play as Sonic for a third of the game! Or if you choose the Dark side, you get to play as Shadow instead. Isn't that what we all wanted?

..... *watches tumbleweed roll past*.....

Anyway, you spend a third of the game as Tails - who for some unfathomable reason has a plane. Even though he has two tails which means he can FLY UNAIDED!! Oh, and sometimes the plane turns into a giant mech. Just, you know, because.

Then you spend a third of the game as Knuckles. Now I have nothing against Knuckles as a character, but his sections are basically a kind of giant treasure hunt for pieces of.. something or other, I forget... using the worlds crappiest radar as your only hope. Seriously, if the navy used that radar, they'd shoot torpedoes at Grimsby thinking that it was a hidden Russian submarine! And even if you can deduce roughly where the stupid thing is, half the time they are buried in the ground, so you just keep randomly sidestepping and digging again until you find it!

So I'm not a fan of these two sections, but what about the Sonic sections themselves?

There are absolutley brilliant moments in them. When you are zooming down a hill, and Sonic is responsive, and you don't have to try and perform any pixel-perfect movements then it's great fun. But then you turn a corner, and the camera fails to do so. Or you have to inch your way onto a pixel-thin bridge, while still running, and the controls are so twitchy it's impossible to keep him running in a damn straight line!

And the difficulty level... oh dear Sega. Have you never heard of a balanced game? One second you are rushing through, the next you are battling for your life! And then, suddenly, you're running through an easy level again...

It's such a divided game - divided within itself. The graphics and sound are up there with others of its generation, and the music in particular is still often catchy (with the occasional monotonous annoying piece thrown in), but it's just a case of too many ideas, not enough game, and a serious lack of polish.

Sorry Sonic, but you go to the bottom of the class...

Rating: 5/10
Time played: 1 hour 
Will I play it again?: Maybe - although the 3D bits of Generations are better, so I might just stick with that...

Next time, I tackle a famous video game franchise that I have NEVER played before - which one? Come back and find out!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 51 - Road Rash II

You're going to get box art pictures for the
next few blogs - Neety and I are in the midst of
moving, so photos are impractical!

Road Rash II

Released on: Sega Megadrive
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release date: 1992

If you know me, you would think that this game would be a perfect fit for me. It's an arcade-style-racer (and we know I've spoken about my enjoyment of those before, most recently here) - it's also a 16-bit game, and it involves motorbikes, so I should love it beyond belief, right?


*Makes awkward noise*

.... I like it. Sort of.

After my recent run of games that are either brilliant (Street Fighter II Turbo, House of the Dead III etc...) or awful (yes, I'm looking at you Sonic the Fighters - I'm looking right into your polygonal face!) it is both a change and a disappointment that I'm back into games that I remember being better than they are.

But that's right where Road Rash II sits, sadly.

Don't get me wrong, it's got some good bits - beating up Policemen on bikes, beating up other people on bikes, stealing weapons from passing bikers so you can use those weapons to beat up people on bikes...

.... oh wait. That's all the same bit isn't it. That's the "beating up" bit.

So how's the racing bit?

Well - it's distinctly average. And yes, this is one of those situations where maybe I have been spoilt by the advances in racing games over the last few years, but the controls feel strange, there's very little sense of speed, and whether you win or not seems much more down to luck than skill. And the less said about the "progression" through the game, the better.

I don't know if you can tell from the segmented style of this review, but I'm finding it really hard to be negative about this game - because somewhere in my heart I know I should love it. You know when you buy an an album that's recorded by a band you really love, years after they are past their best? You are happy to own it, you know you should like it, but every so often you put it on and are disappointed. So it sits on your shelf, and you gain pleasure from knowing it's there, even though it's disappointing? Well Road Rash II is like that.

Sort of.

(Wow, that was a convoluted analogy - I hope you understood what I meant!)

I think the final thing to say about this game is that I think it was massively ahead of it's time. As I played it I just kept thinking

'If someone remade this for current generation consoles, it'd sell by the bucketload!'

And I think that's the first time I've ever longed for a remake...

Rating: 5/10
Time Played: About 45 Minutes
Would I play it again? In a couple of years, when I've forgotten the disappointment of this attempt.

Next time on Brawny's Great Playthrough - you'll laugh, you'll cry, and most importantly you'll wish a certain blue hedgehog had remained in two dimensions.....

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 50 - Street Fighter II Turbo!

Street Fighter II Turbo
Released on: Nintendo SNES, Sega Megadrive... and almost every other console and home computer ever.
Played on: Nintendo SNES
Release date: 1992

There are many things that are better as a teenage memory. Things that, if you revisit them in  your adult life, are somewhat disappointing. Examples of this include Cadbury's Creme Eggs (which are now smaller than ever before and somewhat sicklier than I ever remember),  Nirvana's Nevermind album (which is OK, but nowhere near as good as you thought it was) and every single episode of the Thundercats cartoon. (Seriously, never go back and watch it - no matter how good you think it is)

Of all the games on my list, Street Fighter II Turbo was the one I was very worried would have been tainted by nostalgia. In other words, I worried that going back to it would make me realise it's not as awesome a game as I remember it being from my childhood.

And this was a seminal game from my childhood. I played Street Fighter II Turbo A LOT with my friends when I was a teenager, and I have incredibly fond memories of it. And as I fired up the game, a lot of those memories came flooding back.

While I'm not traditionally a huge fan of fighting games - preferring platforming and puzzlers (as I'm sure you've established from reading this blog), Street Fighter II Turbo is a game I would classify as one of my all-time favourites. So, I know what you're wondering - does it hold up today?


It's amazing fun! I may have mentioned a few times that I am a huge fan of 16-bit graphics, and this game is full of some of the best of the era. Detailed sprites and great backgrounds combine to make everything visually stunning. Coupled with the awesome music (I dare you to play any fight on Guile's stage and not end up humming the music afterwards!) this game provides a real treat for the eyes and the ears.

But that's enough about the superficial things. What about the gameplay itself? It is a great game to play. The controls are simple enough to pick up yet complex to master, the collision detection is absolutely superb, and the difficulty? Well, it's got a selection of difficulty settings - which is definitely a good thing. I played it on the middle difficulty level, and the first thing I realised?

I'm really bad at this game.

I mean, I was never great at the game, but I could pull off a fireball nine times out of ten - whereas in the thirty-odd rounds I played during this playthrough, I didn't succesfully pull one off once. And while I'm aware that's quite an embarassing admission, it is true. As is the fact that I got to play as every character - and most of them twice! Which should tell you that I managed to lose nearly twenty-four times...

But in regards to this difficulty level - it's not a game breaker. At no point does it feel unfair - which seems to be a regular discovery whenever I play the retro games - most of the time the games are harder, but that makes you more determined to succeed.

So my conclusion? Street Fighter II Turbo is still amazing. An arcade game that has enough of a single-player mode to keep you interested - a gorgeous treat for the eyes and ears and most of all, it's so much fun!

Rating: 9/10
Time played: Over an hour - and I didn't want to stop!
Would I play it again? Of course!

Next time? It's the SNES' biggest rival, the Megadrive, and some motorbiking fun of Road Rash II. Join me, won't you?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 49: House of the Dead III

Firstly, may I say a huge F*** YOU to the blogger app - as I had written half of this blog post and then saved it on there, and it has now decided that it no longer exists. So let us take a moment to mourn the nuggets of well-written criticism and humour that I am now never likely to recover....


And now, let's get on with it!

*Waits for a cry of "Yes, let's get on with it!*

House of the Dead IIIReleased on: Arcade, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3
Played on: Nintendo Wii
Release date: 2002

Hands up who likes zombies? I don't mean those of you who actually like zombies (i.e. those who think that zombies are nice) I mean those of you who like zombie-related media (especially games where you get to shoot them in the face!)

Given the demographic of those of you who read my blog (which I don't have any hard or fast data on - I just make things up to fit whichever blog I'm writing) - I'm guessing that a lot of you are entertained by zombie-related media.

Which is good - because, lets face it, House of the Dead III is all about Zombies. No two ways about it. It's not even about a House anymore...

So a more accurate title would be Zombies Zombies Zombies Zombies (Zombies Zombies Zombies) - Or, alternatively, Boom! Make the Zombies heads explode!

As you may (or may not) have guessed - there is a lot of zombie killing that goes on in this game. And just because I'm a 32 year old video gamer, doesn't mean that I think killing zombies is big OR clever.. however, it is fun. Lots and lots of gory head explode-y maniacal fun.

And that pretty much sums up House of the Dead III for me. It is the second best of the House of the Deads that I have ever played (I also own House of the Dead 2, and House of the Dead: Overkill - and I have played House of the Dead as well) - and that is simply because they have got all of the elements perfectly streamlined.

Big guns? Check.

Zombies that explode when you shoot them? Check.

Different type of Zombies? Check - in fact, this game has standard zombies, slimy zombies, lady zombies, FAT MAN zombies and many many more

Zombie versions of other animals (most notably the bloody zombie vultures?) Check.

A completely nonsensical plot? Check.

So as far as this review goes, this game should be perfect, right?

Well unfortunately,there is an elephant in the room. A giant hulking zombie elephant.(Zombie elephants - thats a great idea!) And that elephant's name is "difficulty."

This was designed to be an arcade game that kept you entertained, and then ate your money - which I can appreciate. However, for this home port, did they give you the option for infinite credits? No. When you first boot up the game, you start with five credits. Which, if you are playing two-player, are shared. Then, every time you play through and die, if you get far enough, you earn another credit....

And this wouldn't be so bad, but the bosses are designed to be almost unbeatable... (And I only know this, because in a previous playthrough, I used a cheat for infinite lives, and it took me and a second player about half an hour to kill the final boss - and we died about twenty times each!) - so it gets very frustrating that you slam your way through the level, and then have to deal with the ridiculous boss at the end of each one!

Apart from all that, though, I did enjoy it. And my enjoyment was increased by playing in two-player with my gorgeous wife! Not only does that just make it loads more fun, but also it meant I got to listen to her wonderful comments on the cutscenes.

Now, bear in mind, that both Neety and I have a love for awful cutscenes in games (why else would we play Resident Evil games so much?) but in this game in particular, she came out with some absolutely cracking lines - mostly due to the ridiculousness of the situation in which all the cutscenes happen.

Basically (for those of you who don't know), all the cutscenes show Dr Curien (the mastermind behind pretty much everything in the HOTD-verse) talking to his terminally ill young son, Daniel, in flashback. But what makes it so ridiculous is that he is asking him hugely philosophical questions, which Neety then kept coming up with comedy responses to. But the best was this one.

CURIEN - "Daniel, have I overstepped the boundries of human morality?"

NEETY (IN VOICE OF DANIEL) "I dunno Dad, I'm eight. I like the Power Rangers!"

This made me laugh so much that I had to pause the game, so I thought I ought to share it with you.

As far as the rest of the game goes - there's loads to enjoy (if you like on-rails lightgun shooters, which I most definitely do!). The graphics appear to be an arcade-perfect port, and the controls are accurate and responsive - so it's great fun all the way through - it's just too damn difficult!

But if you've got the game, and fancy a bit of zombie shooting, mindless fun - there's very few games that offer the simplistic visceral thrills of this one.

Rating: 7.5/10
Time played: About 45 minutes - I couldn't bring myself to start again after dying.
Wouild I play it again? Often!

Next time - it's back to the SNES for the wonders of Street Fighter II: Turbo - join me, won't you?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 47 - New Super Mario Bros Wii and Game 48 - Grand Theft Auto III

You may have noticed that I am, once again, reviewing two games in the same blog,  I am doing this primarily because I think it is absolutely hilarious that these two games turned up next to each other - mostly because you'd have a harder job picking two games that were more different!

New Super Mario Bros Wii
Released on: Nintendo Wii
Played on: Nintendo Wii
Release Date: 2009

I keep running into a problem when writing some of these blog entries. And that problem is simply that when I am reviewing a game I play regularly anyway, it becomes very hard to write about it - simply because I must enjoy it or I wouldn't be currently playing it! And as you all know, I'm a huge fan of 2D platformers...

But is Super Mario Bros Wii a step too far?

Have they finally made a Mario 2D platformer I don't enjoy?

Am I asking too many questions?

The answer is No, No and Yes.

I'm sorry to be as predictable as the outcome of a boxing match between Mike Tyson and a particularly inebriated one-armed lemming, but it's true. I love this game.

Certain critics are very unkind to this game, saying that it is very similar to every Mario game ever, that there is no variation and that Nintendo are flogging a Findus Lasagne.

(LEGAL NOTE - I had to cross that out due to a cease and desist letter from the National Equine Institute of Great Horses (or NEIGH for short) who have advised that they do not wish the good name of horse to be associated with the tasteless meat that one finds within a Findus lasagne!) 
However, I find these criticisms to be silly and unfounded. Yes, it shares a lot of similarities with many other games in the Super Mario Bros series - however, it is incredibly fun to play. And that's the point. (And yes, I am aware that I didn't really deflect any of those criticisms, I am merely ignoring them, but that is my prerogative. And if you don't like it, feel free to stop reading...

NOTE - Please don't stop reading. I like people reading my blog! 

Oi! Italicised text, don't argue with me! 

But I like being read 



Behave. Or else. 


That's better.

Anywhere, where was I?


Don't start with me....

New Super Mario Bros Wii is great. Of course I was going to say it was great, and you all knew that. The graphics are cute, the level design is spot on as always, and best of all, Yoshi is back!!

The only things I would criticise? Apart from the fact that multi-player can make any friendship turn sour (whoever made it so that you could bounce off each others heads while jumping over pits, condemming the person you landed on to fall to their doom was evil!) my only minor criticism is that I would love it if we could have a 2D mario game that doesn't have a desert world as World 2 and an ice world as World 3.

Just saying....

Rating: 9/10
How long did I play for? An hour and a bit...
Would I Play it again? Regularly

So from cutesy "childlike" gaming, to the game that was deemed "horrific" and "horrendously violent" by a lot of over-reactionary newspapers when it was released...

Grand Theft Auto III
Released on: Playstation 2, Xbox, Mac OSX, Playstation 3, iOS, Android
Played on: Playstation 2
Release date: 2001

I was really unsure how I would feel about Grand Theft Auto 3. I remember playing the original top-down game, but had never ventured into the open-world of this infamous threequel. 

I remember when it came out, was a period where I didn't play a lot of games, and I disliked the "adult" theme games appeared to be taking at that time, mostly because of the dearth of FPS's it seemed to be creating. So mentally, I had tarred GTA3 with the same brush. Which was unfair.

Because actually, when I booted it up? I had a lot of fun...

My first attempt at the opening sequence basically consisted of me getting into that first car, starting to drive, realising that the driving controls are in fact really good, and then smashing through lots of scenery, people and cars until my car exploded.

Then I started again. And this time I attempted to actually proceed with the mission as suggested, trying not to destroy everything - which led Neety to mock me, stating that I'm such a nice man I even stop at red traffic lights when playing Grand Theft Auto! 

But I got to the first location, accepted my first mission, and went to collect a prostitute. Which I successfully did. As I was driving around, however, I kept noticing wierd graphical glitches, with sections of road shimmering, disappearing, and at one point it felt like a road just looped around on itself. 

And then when I got the prostitute back to the club, the cut-scene crashed. 

So I tried again - from the beginning of the game. Completed the first mission (the tutorial one) and then.. it crashed again.

Turns out the disc is broken. So I can't play any more. Which made me sad, because I was quite enjoying the game - even though the radar is horribly tiny and hard to read, there's a distinct lack of visual differentiation between curbs you can drive up, and curbs that you cannot, and the button mapping when controlling your character on foot seem unintuitive and wierd...

Because I managed to play about 25 minutes worth, I do feel I can rate the game - although this rating might have been altered if I had played longer - both positively (if I had discovered new bits I really enjoyed) or negatively (if the open world setting had caused me to run around pointlessly too much).But for now, this rating will suffice, although if I get another copy, I shall come back to it!

Rating: 7/10
How long did I play for: About 25-30 minutes, until it broke...
Would I play it again? Yes - if my disc worked! 

So after that huge long blog post, what is next? Well... I'm just checking the list...

Awesome. Next time it is HOUSE OF THE DEAD 3!!!!

See you then....

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Great Playthrough - BONUS ROUND PART II!

Yes, it's another bonus round! Basically, I have ended up buying a couple of games recently, so rather than insert them all into the list - I decided to review two of them in one go here - they are both on the same disc, so it was exceptionally easy for me to do both at once...

Yes - I'm back to logo pictures for this blog....
I'm sure none of you miss my smiling face that much!

Sonic The Fighters

Released on: Arcade, Sony Playstation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox
Played on: Playstation 2
Release date: 1996

I don't understand bad games.

(I know that's a strange start to a blog - but bear with me, it'll get better)

Let me clarify - I understand that games exist that I don't like, or games that have good ideas buried under some awkward design flaws, or games that could have been good but were rushed to prodution - but I don't understand the mindset that creates a BAD game.

In case you hadn't guessed - I'm not about to heap loads of praise on Sonic The Fighters - and yes, I know I am a huge Sonic apologist (and by that I mean I apologise for the hedgehog, not that I apologise using soundwaves. I mean, I do apologise using soundwaves, except when I apologise in writing, like I am here, but ....

*A crunching noise occurs and then reality folds into itself due to the circular nature of that sentence*

You get the idea. I will forgive an awful lot of "bad" Sonic games - I enjoyed Sonic Generations, I think that Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is OK, I even have a soft spot for Sonic Heroes (although, you do have to be hyped up on sugar before you play because otherwise the irritating voices and bright colours do make you want to rise up and attack the nearest person. But I digress... again) But Sonic the Fighters is just bad.
Let's approach this logically and look at the mathematical equation behind the game:

Virtua Fighter (adult, violent game) + Sonic the Hedgehog (Cute, Kidsy fare) + Rushed production (cheap and ugly polygon graphics) = Sonic the Fighters.

In other words, it wasn't worth creating! It barely even has "so bad it's good" entertainment value - Neety and I played it for 10 minutes and our attitudes can be seen below:

1 Minute in - *Smile* This is awful

3 Minutes in - It's an exercise in pointless button mashing

6 minutes in - "Frowns" This is REALLY awful

10 minutes in - *Rips disc out of machine and throws it across the room* GO AWAYYYY!!!!

I am aware that I have said very little about the game itself, rather than just moaning how awful it is, but there's not much to say. It's Virtua Fighter with worse controls, uglier polygonier (is that a word?) Graphics, and music so annoying that you end up wanting to stab yourself in your eardrums just so you NEVER have to hear the bloody music again!

Seriously, this game is awful...

Rating: 1/10
Time Played: 10 Minutes
Would I play it again? I would rather play any FIFA game for a week with only celery to eat than play this game again. 

Sonic R
Released on: Sega Saturn,  Nintendo Gamecube, Sony Playstation 2
Played on: Playstation 2
Release date: 1997

Do you know what the unique thing about Sonic R is? It's the first (and as far as I know, only) game in which Sonic races against people on foot - which makes sense, because he is a speedy hedgehog! Sounds fun, doesn't it? Could it be a diamond in the rough?



It's worse than Sonic the Fighters.

I know what you're thinking: "But Brawny! How can it be WORSE than Sonic The Fighters? You implied (about three paragraphs ago) that Sonic the Fighters was one of the worst games ever. "

Yes, yes I did. And do you know why Sonic R is worse? Because Sonic is IMPOSSIBLE to steer in a straight line! And he takes aaaaages to get up to speed, whereas all the other characters (who are in vehicles, no less) are much quicker. The courses are horribley designed, the gameplay is duller than the water you would find in the bottom of a ditch that was running through a Coldplay concert in Swindon.

These two games, between them, have made me so angry that I can't continue writing.

Rating: 0.1/10 (Only because I refuse to give anything 0)
Time played: 8 Minutes (and that was pushing it)
Would I play it again: *Transforms into the Hulk and smashes your face with the game case for suggesting that I would ever play this rubbish again*

Next time - A better game. (Well it can't get any worse - I HOPE!)

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 46: Star Wars - The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Released on: Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, PS2
Played on: Nintendo Gamecube
Release Date: 2002

Yes, it's time for a Star Wars licensed game. (I apologise, I didn't realise how many of these I owned until I compiled this list!) And it's one many of you may never have heard of - as it was released around the time that Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released in the cinema.

(I'm sure you remember that film. It's the one that feels like it might be a good Star Wars film, except for the horrendous black hole of charisma that is Hayden Christiensen, but is then redeemed in the last five minutes when Yoda pulls out a lightsabre and fights Christopher Lee. Which is awesome!)

So although this game deals with the Clone Wars, it is not linked in any way to the first Clone Wars TV series, the animated Clone Wars feature film, OR the second Clone Wars TV series (or any of that series' spin-offs). Are we clear?

"So Brawny, you've told us what this game is not about or related to - what IS it about?"

It's a vehicular action game interspersed with third-person "on-foot" sections. And you know what? It's much more fun than that description suggests. In fact, to be honest, it was much more fun than I had expected it to be!

You see, I bought this when I first got my Gamecube, and I only ever remember playing it for about ten minutes - so I was not expecting to be blown away by it. And while it's not a superb ten-out-of-ten life-changing game, it's still a lot of fun - and not too easy! (A common problem with licensed games in this day and age)

The third person sections are OK, although marred by some slightly clunky movement, but it's when you're in the vehicles (which are mostly low level floating military craft - much like tanks but with no wheels) that the fun begins properly.

The controls are just the right-side of floaty, and the aiming and combat is engaging. The voice acting is wonderfully laughable, but luckily there's not too much of it, so it doesn't impact in a negative way. And the difficulty? Well it's not an easy game, but it's also not unfair. Very rarely did I die feeling like I had been cheated - mostly I died because, just like in FPS's - I always forget that moving out of the line of fire is a GOOD IDEA!

Do you know what game it reminds me of with it's vehicluar sections? Starfox 64. (Or Lylat Wars as I technically should call it, being from the UK and all). I know that may sound strange as the vehicles were all land based (as far as I played through it anyway), but it's true. In Starfox / Lylat Wars, there are a couple of levels where you have to drive a land-based vehicle, and the controls and style of it is the closest match I can think of to equate with this game. And believe me, that's a good thing.

Most of all - in a day and age where most licensed games are a vaguely disguised rip-off of other, more popular games - Star Wars: The Clone Wars feels different enough to be it's own game. And maybe it's just that I haven't played whatever game it ripped off - but hey, for now I'm impressed with how entertaining it is.

Rating: 7/10
Time Played: 1 hour 5 minutes
Would I play it again? Yes. I think I would.

Coming up next time.... I'm not sure yet! (Sorry, the list isn't with me)

P.S. I apologise for the multiple uses of vehicle and vehicular in this blog. I have used my quota for now

P.P.S. I shall try and get these blogs on a more regular timescale from now on!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 45: Bubsy the Bobcat

The pictures are back! Look at me, clutching
that very damaged looking cartridge. It still plays though :)

Bubsy the Bobcat
Released on: Sega Megadrive, SNES, PC
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release Date: 1993 (except PC, which was 1995)

This should be a game that I absolutely love. It's a colourful, 2D platformer on my favourite (non-Nintendo) console.... but do I love it? Well that's a question I shall answer throughout this blog...

(See! I learned from my last blog and am retaining a little mystery at the start! Look at me, I'm learning and growing...)

From the title screen, my hopes were high. The game has bright, lovely graphics and the full title is the brilliantly pun-tastic title "Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind." But as soon as I started to play, I started to notice a whisker of a problem.

This tail was not garnering a lot of A-Paws as I began the playthrough. The difficulty was quite high, with the game often making me-owt to be a much worse player than I am.

(Ouch - That's four Cat-Based puns in just over one paragraph. Oops. I'll stop now, I promise.)

But anyway, behind the awful puns, this game is far from purrfect...



But it's sadly true. And while I am not usually one to bemoan a difficult game, the difficulty really is a problem here. And it's a design flaw - I'm not complaining that the levels are badly designed, or that the enemies are over-powerful, it is simply that one hit kills Bubsy stone dead. Which is a problem with a speedy platformer. Sonic has his rings, Mario has his mushrooms, even Earthworm Jim has a health bar! But no, Bubsy gets no second chances whatsoever. Run into an enemy, or get hit by a falling egg, or fall off a too-high ledge, and that's it. You are dead.
Which is bloody irritating.

Especially when coupled with really erratic collision detection, which this game is sadly riddled with.

There are other faults as well, the levels are awkwardly designed - not necessarily badly designed, just so large (both horizontally and vertically) and repetitive, that on successive playthroughs you tend to get completely confused as to which sections you have done, and which you don't recognise. The music is repetitive and irritating, which isn't a game-breaker, but is mildly annoying, and the fact that there are two different jump buttons (a normal jump and a high jump), just adds confusion to the whole thing.

It isn't all bad news - the lovely 16-Bit cartoon-style graphics are a joy to look at, and the controls (apart from the jump buttons issue) are reasonable, if slightly wooly. But at every turn you are thwarted by the awkward difficulty level.

It's such a shame, because it is SO close to being an entertaining game, but the difficulty issues just totally ruin it for me. And the programmers were obviously aware of the issue, because instead of starting with 2 or 3 lives (as you would do in either Sonic or Mario), you start with nine. And I get why (yes, he's a cat so he has nine lives! Isn't that funny!) But it just highlights quite how easy it is to die in the game.

Sorry Bubsy, You may have come within a whisker of greatness, but you definitely failed to land on your feet...

Rating: 5/10
Time Played: 35 Minutes
Would I play it again? Unlikely....

Next time on Brawny's Great Playthrough, it's another Star Wars game! But which one? Come back and find out!

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 44: Worms World Party

Worms World Party
Released on: Dreamcast, Playstation, Game Boy Advance and Windows
Played on: Sony Playstation 2 (Don't you just love backwards compatability?)

(Before we get started, I would like to apologise for the lack of photograph on this blog - I am finshing up writing this not at home, so I don't have a picture. If anyone really wants me to include one, I'll add one later. But for now, no picture, so you won't get to see me holding the Worms World Party case - poor you!)

There are games that you know you like, and there are games that you remember that you like, but are disappointing when you go back to them. And then, there are games that you forget quite how amazingly pant-wettingly good they are. The last game in this playthrough where a game surprised me positively was Flashback, and as you can tell from my overtly enthusiastic introduction, Worms World Party belongs in this category.

(And yes, I know that I have broken all of the rules of any kind of review, by telling you how I feel about the thing I am reviewing in the first paragraph, but sod it, it's my blog!)

I have had many good times playing various iterations of Worms (at least in 2D) - starting with the original which I used to play on the PC, through to the the two iterations that I have for the Playstation - and it has provided many hours of entertainment both in single player and multi-player (and indeed, I have spent many hours sitting on a canal boat playing this game while drinking my own body weight in alcoholic beverages).

But why is it such a good game Brawny? I hear you all ask... OK, I didn't hear you ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

When it came out, I remember it being a rather new type of game, best described as "Lemmings with Guns". And if you try to describe it in genre, it sounds the dullest thing ever. A turn based game where you control a team of worms attempting to fight others. But it works, and it works so very very well.

But having not played it for... ooh, nearly 10 years or so, I did wonder if newer games would have sullied my memories of Worms. So imagine how delighted I was when I booted up the game and began to play. Firstly, it gives you ridiculous levels of customisation. You can name your own individual worms, choose which weapons are used, choose a landscape, special features, weapons drops etc - I spent a good ten minutes of my playthrough on the customisation screen, but unlike other games that have this sort of customisation / statistical options (and yes, I'm looking at you sports games, and particularly Speedball 2) - I didn't get bored at all, and that's pretty rare in an options screen!

Once I had my team and my setup, then I jumped into the game itself, and immediately took great delight in bombing and bazookaing (and yes, I have decided that IS a word, because I want it to be) the opposition until they were all satisfyingly dead. And then, I did it again. As well as the normal weapons (Uzis, Shotguns, Grenades etc.,) there is also the selection of idiotically stupid ones that are always available in these games. The Sheep (which runs across the terrain before exploding), the Concrete Donkey (which is exactly what it sounds like) and the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch. (Python alert!) And it's all couched in silly music, cartoony graphics and stupid sound effects.

But (and I know I have said this before) - it is FUN! Loads of fun!!

I'm not really sure what more to say. There are only minor downsides to the game - it can be awkward to enter names etc when you have to do so with a joypad, scrolling VERY slowly from letter to letter, and almost all of the labelling on menu screens is done with cartoony graphics, rather than text, so it can be a bit hard to figure out what you are selecting, unless you have had experience of the game before.

But if that's the worst I can think of? Then it's really not a bad game in any way whatsoever is it!

In conclusion then, I would much rather spend an evening playing Worms World Party with a group of friends, rather than any of the FPS's people seem to happily go around each others houses to play. Speaking of which - anyone fancy a Worms Tournament evening?

Rating: 9/10
Time Played: One Hour Ten Minutes
Would I play it again?: Of course!

Next time - The Megadrive gets dusted off for some platforming action! (And no, it's not a Sonic game)

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 43 - Toy Racer

Toy Racer
Released on: Sega Dreamcast
Played on: Sega Dreamcast
Release date: 2000

Looking back over the games I've done so far, this is the first Dreamcast game I've played in the playthrough, and now I think I've played at least one game on every console!

I like the Dreamcast. I like the controller, the VMU, and it produces very good quality graphics and sound for it's generation. However, my game collection for it is fairly limited - I don't have many of the games that people recognise as Dreamcast games (Jet Set Radio, Shenmue etc) because, when I bought my Dreamcast at a car boot sale, the previous owner had obviously been a fan of racing games. So I have quite a few of those.

And so I approached Toy Racer with trepidation. On the one hand, I like a good arcade racer (a sentence I seem to say more and more nowadays), but on the other hand, I can find racers to be boring after a while...

Before I continue, I should point out that I very rarely do any research before I play a game that I already own. I don't look up its details, I don't read reviews, I just pop it in and give it a try. Which is what I did here.

The first race I played, I was aware there were no other racers on the track - but I quickly realised that I had  selected the Training mode, so that was fine. I used the five lap race to adjust to the handling (which was pretty good), and to admire the graphics and smooth framerate of the game. 

So I finished that race, and then dropped back into the menu system, and I was mildly confused as the options available are the following:

Training - This is a training Mode, obviously.
Local - For playing locally
Network - This is for playing online - sadly, the Dreamarena online system is long defunct!

So I assumed, "Oh, you need to select local, because that's the option which will give you the one-player mode!".

So I did, and I selected a different track and vehicle, and started the race. Sure enough, the HUD proclaimed I was in first, and so I zoomed off competitvely. About a minute later, I realised I hadn't seen any other cars, although I had picked up some offensive weapons (in-keeping with the Toy theme, these were pencils as missiles, and boxing gloves on springs as mines!). And then I crashed. And no-one overtook me. So I got nosy and waited, not moving at all. Still no competition.

Confused, I finished the race, and then looked the game up on Wikipedia.

It turns out? Toy Racer is a multi-player only game. And I have only one Dreamcast pad. 


Rating: N/A (How can I rate a game that I can't play properly?)
Time Played: 10 minutes
Would I play it again?: Maybe, it was fun, but only if I have some other people and Dreamcast pads!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 42 - Sonic The Hedgehog 3

I look like a lunatic in this picture!
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Released on: Sega Megadrive and then ported to.. *deep breath*.. Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Wii Virtual Console, PS3, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, Sega Saturn and Sony PSP.
Played on: Nintendo Wii (via Gamecube emulation)
Release date: 1994

So, I expect you all think you know the drill by now. It's a Sonic game, and I'm reviewing it, so I'm likely to shower it with praise and then insist that it is the best thing since sliced bread.

"We've heard you review Sonic, Sonic 2 and Sonic Generations now Brawny," I hear you all cry, "Why are you bothering with Sonic 3? We all know you're going to love it..."

Well here's a shocking piece of news for you. I didn't love it.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it. It is eminently playable, and has great moments, but it just doesn't feel anywhere as coherent or as much fun as Sonic 1 or 2. I would even say that it didn't feel as much fun as Generations! *ducks as enraged Sonic fans throw all sorts of missiles at my head*

And why? Well that's a good question. Neety will tell you that as I played it I was just sitting there, saying "This isn't as much fun as the others. But I'm not sure why..."

And then after a while, it clicked. It's the level design. I don't know why, and I'm sure it's just a personal opinion, but the levels just don't seem anywhere near as well designed and as much fun as earlier games.

I don't play Sonic to stop running and do pixel perfect jumps. I don't play Sonic for lots of different power ups that are occasionally useful and mostly pointless. I play Sonic to run very quickly through the level, jumping, spinning and running until I reach the exit, or die. One or the other.

But in Sonic 3, there's all sorts of things that stop you running and building up that head of steam to dash through the level. Stupid blue things that you have to spin against to make bits of the world move and new platforms appear. Random little boss fights all over the place. Platforms that appear and disappear.

Plus, it just doesn't look as nice as Sonic 1 or 2. Levels are less vibrant, and the whole thing just feels a bit like a case of "been there, done that". Which is not an unheard of situation for the 3rd game of a series, but it just felt like a giant let down.

I played through the first three zones, and when I died (unfairly) in Marble Garden Zone Act 2, that was it. I felt no compulsion to load my saved game and continue on - I just put the pad down and turned it off. Which marks the first time this playthrough that I have stopped playing a Sonic game before my hour was up.

I feel like I have to point out, there is lots of good stuff. There are sections of the levels where it feels just like wonderful Sonic fun, and the Special Stages are nice (although not as good as Sonic 2's tunnel ones!) The new shields are pointless, but fun, and getting the options to play as Sonic or Tails is a bonus. But even so, it's just an average Sonic game - and that's the best thing I can say about it.

Talk about a disappointment...

Rating: 7/10
Time Played: 45 Minutes
Will I play it again: Maybe, in the hope that I'll be pleasantly surprised...

Next time - I don't know what game I'm playing! Because I'm writing this on the wrong computer so the list isn't in front of me!

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 41 - Halo 3

I look a bit strange in this photo..
Oh well!
Halo 3
Released on: Xbox 360
Played on: Xbox 360
Release date: 2007

Aaah. Halo 3. Long considered one of the best games for the Xbox 360 - the "killer app" for the console at launch if you will.

("Killer App" does sound a little like a dodgy straight-to-DVD horror movie where a phone app kills people one at a time, possibly while playing voice clips of common YouTube comedy videos while it does so... hey wait! That's a great idea! © Michael Braunton 2013! No stealing that idea - that's mine!)

As you should all know (assuming you've read the earlier posts of my playthrough, particularly this one) I have a chequered history with First Person Shooters, often finding them tedious and unimpressive.

Straight off the bat though, there is one accusation you cannot level at Halo 3 - and that is unimpressive. Graphically it is beautiful, and it really shows the power of a current generation console - at launch this must have been a jaw-dropping moment (I don't remember - I only bought an Xbox 360 about 2 years ago!) However, it's not all good news...

I really don't want to bang on about not enjoying FPS's since Doom came out, and I was willing to put those thoughts aside in an attempt to really try and get into this game. I've tried several times since I bought it, and have never made it past the second mission - and I wanted to get into it. So I sat down, with no distractions, and fired it up.

And five minutes later I was bored.

I know this may be heresy to those of you out there who are Halo fans - and indeed, those of you out there who are Xbox fans, and I had to think long and hard to figure out what my issues with the game were.

Is it the controls? No, they are almost perfect controls (which is why almost every Xbox FPS ever has followed suit)

The Game Mechanics? Nope. Again, they work very well - at no point did I have trouble moving, shooting, opening doors etc...

The Story then? The story? Well it's a bit of a mish-mash of Sci-fi rubbish (but I normally like Sci-fi rubbish - I'm a big fan of the TV show "Sliders"!) and it definitely hurts that it is the third chapter in a story where I have absolutely no idea what is going on because I haven't played the first two, and it does just drop you into the story with no explanation whatsoever, but that doesn't harm it too much. (Apart from the stupid, epilepsy-inducing "visions")

No - my biggest problem with it is that it just doesn't seem to connect. The opening level is a jungle scenario, where you run around and shoot lots of aliens. (See, you can tell I couldn't work out any of the plot!) And I have no problem with that. But there seems to be no danger to yourself at all. Thanks to Master Chief's recharging shields, there's no moment like in Goldeneye where you are sneaking quietly along a corridor, screen blood red, almost dead, tension ramped up high.... Nope. In Halo, you can simply hide behind a rock for ten seconds and your health is back to normal.

Therefore, my method of play simply became "Walk towards enemies shooting randomly. When they've shot you a lot, run around/hide behind a rock until your shields are better. Repeat." And that just got very boring very quickly.

That's not my only problem with the game - my other issues may seem like minor niggles but they all distracted me from the game itself.

The guns - There is no way of telling whether a gun you have picked up is good or bad. And yeah, I know that's the sort of thing that you should learn as the game continues, but it seemed like whatever gun I picked up (bar some kind of rocket launcher) took the same amount of hits to kill the alien in front of me. So why bother?

The navigation. This was a problem in the opening jungle level, as lots of caves look like solid cliffs from not very far away, so you occasionally have no idea where you are supposed to be going. It continued to be a problem in the second level, as people would tell me to go somewhere, and then I wouldn't know where it was. Also, I'd end up running up and down a corridor twenty times just looking for where the hell I was supposed to go next.

The way that missions are briefed. I know this sounds pettier than Tom Petty and a six year old girl in a squabble over a tea-towel (and I apologise for that metaphor, but I'm tired!), but I like to know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing in a mission, and that does not equal simply having a one-liner such as "Johnson's gone down, go and find him" announced over the radio, as it gets mixed in with all the background noise, and half the time I wasn't sure what the hell I was supposed to be doing.

And yes, I remember having fun playing it in multi-player round several friends houses (one of the reasons I bought the game), but this playthrough just highlighted the disappointment of the single player campaign for me.

So, in conclusion, it's a very impressive game - both visually and in regards level size/game mechanics, but I was so bored that I turned it off after about 40 minutes. Sorry.

*Ducks head to escape from bombardment of abuse coming my way*

Rating: 5/10
Time Played: About 40 minutes
Would I play it again? Maybe for multi-player. Not likely to play single player again though.

Next Time - Another game with the number 3 in it...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

R.I.P. Musical Talent - The Brits 2013

Well hello everyone! Today is 20th February 2013 - and those of you who pay attention to the mentally disturbed will know that that can only mean one thing.

It's Brit awards night!

And in honour of the blog I did last year, where I picked on the public-voted Best British Single as a highlight of mediocrity within the music industry, I've decided to do the same again.

Now if you didn't read it last year (and why not? shame on you!) or just don't remember, the rules are simple. I attempt to listen to all of the nominees and stop each song when I can't bear it any more, and I record the results below, for your pleasure / enjoyment / criticism.


How long did I last? 1:58

Impressions: This begins, as per always with an Adele song (or at least, the few Adele songs I've ever knowingly listened to) with a repeating Piano riff. It's not bad a bad riff, a bit moody. And then it gets ruined when Adele starts to sing. Well, if singing is the right word. Personally it sounds more like she is accidentally sliding her voice over notes without actually bothering to sing any complete words. Has anyone taught her about enunciation? Or as she would call it ... cia... (because she doesn't sing the beginnings OR ends of words).

And then the chorus starts - and promptly sounds almost exactly the same as the verse, and with this dull chorus came a depressing realisation that this is all that there is. And yes, it sounds like a Bond theme - albiet an an incredibly dull one. And you know that the song is a failure when  I'm sitting here getting distracted by thoughts of how good the film while simultaneously blocking out the music. And that, my friends, tells me that it is time to give up.

Rating: 5/10. It's exceptionally bland.


How long did I last? 0:37

Impressions: As far as I knew I'd never heard this song, so I prepared myself and pressed the play button. 

Oh god. 

Where do I start? Do I start from the overly protracted intro, where it's as if someone discovered the flange effect button on their mixing software and just let it run for what seems like an eternity? (I'm assured it was only a few seconds, but it didn't seem like that). And then for that irritating voice to kick in, and start trying to squeeze lyrics into a tune which fit as well as I would fit into a pair of dungarees designed for a teddy bear? Sorry, I can't take it anymore. Maybe it gets better? I doubt it.

Rating: 2/10


How long did I last? 2:49

Impressions: I have heard this song quite a few times. So actually, my first shock was that it qualifies for this years awards, because it seems to have been around for f*king ever. Now I know it is fashionable to bash Coldplay, and to be fair, I do bash them a lot, mostly because I dislike their earlier catalogue. But this is just average. I wouldn't throw the radio into the bath if this came on, but on the other hand I wouldn't ever seek it out (unless I wanted to listen to a song where the female singer sounds manlier than the male singer.)

It does however, utilise a lot of La-La-La-La's... which is never a positive thing for me. It's as if they were going to write more lyrics, and then forgot. And the less said about the Synth noise, the better. My other major complaint is - where is the chorus? The whole song sounds like build-up and no payoff. Yes I only listened to 2:49 of it, but surely I heard at least one chorus in that time, so why don't I remember it? (Answers on a postcard please)

Rating: 6/10


How long did I last? 0:43

Impressions: Aaah! A robot doing backing vocals! Oh no, it's just an 80's vocal effect. In fact, there's an awful lot of vocal effects - hello autotune, how I haven't missed you. And then the 90's club drums kick in. And I'm done.

Rating: 1.5/10


How long did I last? 1:47

Impressions:  Wow. 

Hello drums. 

You appear to be quite loud in the mix, or at least satisfyingly bassy. Oh and there's some oooh-oooh-ooohs. Really? This is nearly as bad as Coldplay's La-La-La's. You may notice I've not said anything about the song itself, focussing simply on the drums and some offensive non-lyrical lyrics. Well what is there to say? It's OK. Maybe I'm becoming less filled with hatred towards average music than I used to be, but it didn't particularly offend me - it was just a bit repetitive.

Rating: 6/10


How long did I last? 0:53

Impressions: I bashed Florence and the Machine a bit in this blog last year. And this year? I'm going to do much the same. Maybe it's a reaction to listening to it after Emeli Sande, but the introduction does sound like it was mixed by an engineer wearing tupperware on his head, who was overly concerned about the sound being too loud. And then the stupid dancey bass kicks in, and I lost any interest I thought I might possibly have had.

Rating: 3/10


How long did I last? 0:45

Impressions: Neety likes to have crap music TV on when she does things around the lounge - which is fair enough. But sadly that means that I have heard this song before, and just the mention of it's name while it was being cued up was enough to make me throw up a tiny bit in my mouth. But I shall press on... Oh hello - he's been taking lessons from the Adele school of non-enunciation!

Other than that, it is such a typical X-Factor arrangement of a song (start with strings and vocal, build up with slow drums and a bass... I didn't listen past that point, but I would imagine it brings in more instruments including the whole string section and band, maybe has a key change near the end, and then everybody listening dies of UTTER BOREDOM.) Seriously X-Factor, mix it up a bit, why not start a song with a Xylophone solo? Then bring in the Accordions and Sousaphones.  Go on, I dare you.

But no, this is awful.

Rating: 1/10


How long did I last? 0:17

Impressions: Oh dear god, where do I start. A guitar riff starts the song, and bless him, the guitarist is obviously trying to make it interesting. (Apologies if I seemed sexist then, assuming the guitarist was a man, it won't happen again. Unless it does.) Then the singing begins.

If you can call it singing.

Jessie J has what some might call a unique voice, which appears to alternate between outright yelling and then warbling like a nightingale with a microphone shoved down it’s throat that has been run over by a taxi containing Johnny Vegas in the early 2000s, James Cordon and the Incredible Hulk, so that all it can emit are screams of agony.

It’s very hard for me to believe that they can teach a human being to sing like that. Well, I say a human being, I don't believe she is a real human being. Maybe a messed-up clone, that's why her name is Jessie J. Jessie A - H obviously went wrong.. And then, if that wasn’t enough the sound of a cat vomiting begins, replacing what would, in most normal songs, be a bass drum…

Please god no more.

Rating: 1/10


How long did I last? 1:23

Impressions: Interesting. The opening string chords of this sound almost exactly like the opening of Aerosmith's "I don't wanna miss a thing". That was sneaky of Labrinth and Emeli Sande (or whoever wrote this for them) to pinch that before moving onto their actual composition. According to Neety, the lyrics for this are a bit wishy-washy (although I had trouble understanding what the hell he was saying in the first place, as he doesn't enunciate brilliantly and is a little buried by production). However, that wasn't my biggest problem with this song.

My biggest problem with this song (apart from the fact that it is the most X-Factor-y song I have heard in a long time that isn't from the X-Factor) is that they sing the following lyric.

"Won't you let, me, see beneath your beautiful, tonight." 

Excuse me? Beneath your beautiful WHAT??? A Beautiful is not a thing. If you want to see beneath someone's beauty, then say THAT!! BUT YOU CANNOT SEE BENEATH A BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE A BEAUTIFUL IS NOT A THING!!! And if they're saying they'll see beneath your beautiful tonight, well.... that doesn't make any sense either. And then they sing:

“Take it off now girl, take it off now girl.”

Take what off? You cannot take off a beautiful. And then, a little later he asks her to take off a perfect. Guess what? YOU CAN'T. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT A THING. 

Beautiful = NOT A THING.


Rating: 4/10


How long did I last? THE WHOLE SONG. So in your face all you people who think I never like any popular music.

Impressions: I quite like this song. It sounds a lot like Maroon 5 (which is ironic as Maroon 5 now sound quite like generic X-Factor style pop...) it's just funky and fun. (I refer you to my earlier comment about mellowing in my old age) - Plus it has liberal use of a cowbell, which is always good fun.

SIDENOTE – If you ever want to see Neety miming a cowbell overenthusiastically, pop this song on!

It's musically interesting, and gets under your skin, which sounds about as appealing as a tapeworm I grant you, but it does get stuck in your head (in a good way). EVEN the stupid rap interlude from that Florida Man isn't that bad, although it does go on about a verse too long. It's almost as if Olly Murs (or whoever wrote/chose this for him) bothered to look at what makes listenable, poppy music rather than just what sold last week and tried quickly to attempt to replicate that.

Rating: 9/10


How long did I last? 0:23

Impressions: Well what a return to form after the surprise of the previous song being actually good. This is shit. Just saying. What is the appeal of this? Horrible cheap sounding synths, squealing vocals reciting lyrics that just seem to be utter rubbish. Depressingly, it's not the worst or even second worst thing I've had to listen to this evening, but it is joint third worst...

Rating: 1.5/10


How long did I last? 1:25

Impressions: I thought I would hate this. And don't get me wrong, it's certainly not something I enjoy, but in comparison with some of the other things I've heard here? At least it sounds like they are having fun, and I can see how it would appeal - although the female vocal is bloody irritating. 

Rating: 5/10


How long did I last? 2:38

Impressions: Again, due to Neety's excessive use of crap music TV, coupled with Mr Williams’ heavy rotation on said music channels, I've heard this quite a lot - and seen it's ridiculous video. Musically? It's catchy. Good use of instruments, a chorus that sticks in ones head, and it also shares one important thing with both Rizzle Kicks and Olly Murs - it feels fun - which surely is the point of Pop Music? But lyrically? I'm not suggesting pop music lyrics should be poems in their own right, but is it too much to ask for sentences that make some kind of sense? Because there are none in this song. Absolutely no coherent sentences whatsoever. They sound like they are, but they aren't. 

Rating: 6/10


How long did I last? 1:10 (Only because the organ section is about a minute long and I wanted to see where it went after that)

Impressions: Organ? At the beginning of a pop song? It might turn out to be good? Oh wait, now theres a pulsing bassline that means I can't hear ANYFUCKINGTHINGELSE with any clarity whatsoever. And Mr 80's synth is back once again - he's been making good money these last few years. And then drums kick in. And it sounds as if they stole the drum pattern from Hot Right Now (or Hot Right Now stole it from them - either way, it's a shit drum pattern.) And so, I turned it off.

Rating: 2/10


How long did I last? 0:31

Impressions: And when I told Neety the name of the band she delighted me with the phrase, "Oh goody, obligatory band name that sounds like a vagina!". After a good giggle, we started the song. I think this song is trying to imitate Motown, but it appears to be doing so without spending any time working out a good tune, rhythm or lyrics, and without the most important thing - a GOOD SINGER. OK, I only listened to 31 seconds of it, so maybe I'm judging on one singer and they apparently have more than one - but to be fair, if you have a bland singer, don't give her verse 1. I'm just saying...

Rating: 3/10

So in conclusion – please give the award to Olly Murs, while making all the other acts gather inside a bomb shelter which has the bomb inside…