Tag Archives: girlfriend test

Minecraft: Real Life Review

29 Jun

creeper emblem.jpgMinecraft:

Released: 2011

Platforms: PC, Mac, and Linux (Java), Android, iOS, Xbox 360 (Xbox Live), Xbox 360 (Retail Disc), Raspberry Pi, Xbox One

Age certificate (UK): 7+

Real Life Review GirlfriendGirlfriend test:

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and to go and do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Minecraft’s performance in the girlfriend test varies depending on the context. If you have any hint of OCD the Minecraft does badly in this test, if you are a more casual gamer it is never a real problem. I am somewhere in the middle so I will treat it as such. You can save at any given moment, but the thing that stops you from shutting down is the fact checkpoints are near none existent unless you carry a bed in your backpack. The ability to save and turn off varies. If you choose to save the game and turn off then you only have to wait several seconds and your freshly mined diamonds will nice and safe when you spawn safely back in your bed upon your return. If for some reason the world demands you shut down just as you have discovered a clump of diamond ore that you discovered in a tunnel that is several minutes journey from your base and you have no way of rediscovering it then you will most likely opt to temporarily ignore the real world.

If you are given a short amount of time to play you can make some progress providing you have been storing your materials. If you want to go collect materials you are probably going to find most stuff you want is too far from your base. Creative mode allows you to make a tonne of progress in five minutes as every item is there for your use.

Sound is an issue if you play seriously. Many things in the world can pretty much instakill you, and they sometimes only use sound as a warning. The grunt of a zombie will halt you from moaning through a wall directly into an infested dungeon. The scrunch of a creeper nearly always comes too late and you often leap out of your chair one second later at the sound of the accompanying bang, but the scrunch can make the difference of survival. I for one did not mind dying as it just resulted in you wandering back to your place of demise and picking up everything you lost.

Score: 7/10

Girlfriend: “Let’s go to the shops.”

Me: “Sure, after I get all this ore. Oh wait, I’m dead. Just give me ten minutes to get everything!”

It generally does well in the girlfriend test but sometimes you literally cannot come away without suffering.

Real Life Review GirlfriendMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

If you lack patience you should probably not consider introducing an uneducated gamer to Minecraft as it will all go over their head. While you are stressing out trying to build a shelter they will be at the bottom of a 10 block deep pit. If you can play with a mate then you will have a great deal of fun. You can play locally or online, but if a mate wanders into your room and they want to hang out it is all about playing locally.

To me the main benefit of playing Minecraft locally is that your mate can witness your creations. After you have finished your castle with your lava moat and herds of farm animals you often just reflect on time wasted. If your mate says its cool then it is all worth it. Playing multiplayer locally is sort of like playing by yourself with someone else. Things can go a bit awry if you and a mate are working on the same house and monsters are not generally hard enough to require you to fight them together – until you reach the Nether and the End. It is fun to share resources or have one builder and one miner but you often just wan to do your own thing.

You do risk a mate seeing you play Minecraft consider you to be childlike, and the fact is Minecraft is childlike and that is what makes it brilliant. This is because it is virtual reality Lego with monsters. You can finally achieve your Lego based childhood dreams you could not achieve before because your parents only got you the starter set. Minecraft feels like an embarrassing habit. If you are over the age of 16 you will casually ask your friend if they play in the same sort of way people awkwardly ask strangers if they take the same recreational drugs.

Score: 4/10

Mate: “What are you playing?”

Me: “Minecraft.”

Mate: “Oh, my 5 year old cousin plays that…”

If you propose a game of Minecraft to a friend they will either emit a girlish sqeual or they will use it as reputational blackmail.

Real life review Parent TestParent test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

I do not need to say much in the parent test. The game passes with all the flying colours of the rainbow. There are few things that look remotely offensive when presented as cubes and there is not even a glimmer of drugs, nudity or swearing. There is violence, but what game does not have violence. You only kill farm animals or monsters so this is all morally right and proper. The act of slaughtering a pig is comical and ungraphic. Sure kids turn into murdering maniacs with a higher kill count then anyone in the SAS but it doesn’t matter s everything looks so cute. If your parent walks into your room at a random point you will most likely be mining… or crafting. The worse they have to worry bout is whether or not you grow up.

Score: 10/10

Parent: “Oh, 3d Super Mario Brothers.”

Me: “Since when does Super Mario contain pigs.”

Parent: “Since when do 23 year olds play games like this?”

Me: “Fair.”

The worst thing a parent can worry about is your mental age.

Real life review inner rageInner rage test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

Minecraft certainly gets frustrating, but overall it is pretty relaxing. If you are going to die it will most likely involve lava, or a bottomless pit so all your objects are destroyed or lost. These frustrating features are mitigated by the cute music and a colour palette that tries a bit of everything (which is very unusual in games these days). Creative mode allows any frustration to be removed as you have unlimited access to anything in the game. Part of the fun is in the frustration, you need to have that bit of fear in you when you go on a mining expedition to keep the game fresh. You can also get annoyed by endless traveling…

Score: 7/10

real life review overallOverall

A great game that I wish was available when I was a kid. It is still fun as a big kid but it just doesn’t quite keep me entertained long enough anymore.

Score: 7/10

Dishonored: Real Life Review

15 Jun

dishnoured emblemDishonored:

Released: 2012

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Age certificate (UK): 18+

 Real Life Review GirlfriendGirlfriend test

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and to go and do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Dishonored did not steal much of my time off my girlfriend.  This was partly due to the fact the campaign is rather short if like most people you end up blitzing through the whole thing spamming blink. The auto-save feature and the general save features are made with a real life person in mind. Each level is thoughtfully planned into many subsections that are created with the thought of your inevitable failure and your requirement to reload. Your play through will usually feature you negotiating your way past a group of guards, then there will be a safe corridor where it auto-saves, then another group of guards, then a corridor with an auto-save, then some rats or poison spitting things, then a book about a whale, then a book about rats. I didn’t read the books.

Dishonored gives you ample amounts of opportunity to switch off your game without much regret. Once you manage to get past a section it is usually easy to use the same technique to get past it again. Unfortunately for me, once or twice I had to turn off and attend to the real world and when I came back I found I had got through a section on dumb luck alone and I struggled the second time. If you are one of those which is aiming for the elusive  ‘no detection’ or ‘no kills’ related achievements /trophies, then the girlfriend test is a whole different ball game as doing it this way can mean a section takes ten minutes to negotiate before a checkpoint occurs.

Unlike many action/stealth games you can easily play for a quick stint while your girlfriend arranges her shoe collection. Even if you don’t make it to a checkpoint in your indeterminate amount of play time, you can still scout ahead, which is just as important.

Sound is an issue in Dishonored. You often hear enemies before you see them, whether it is the soft scurrying of rats, the warble of zombies (let’s face it – they’re zombies) or the woosh of an assassin blinking (that’s teleporting), you often need to hear them so you don’t run straight into them and get mauled to death. I was able to play with sound turned down and subtitles on for most of the game, but I suffered for it. I would often take on the entire group of guards I had dived into the middle of rather than play stealthily. I was often on a drip feed of health potions and I couldn’t help feel a top class assassin would have listened for footsteps instead of overhearing his girlfriend talk to her mother,

Score: 6/10

Girlfriend: “Can we get a pet rat?”

Me: “Nooooo!”

Although Dishonored is exceptionally good in its ability for you to pause, save and turn off, it is very hard to play with someone in the room. Your girlfriend will also not appreciate constant rat sound effects.

Real Life Review GirlfriendMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

If you think Dishonored is going to do well in the mate test then I should stop you right now, as you should know it does not do well at all. There is no multiplayer of any kind, which I am very glad of as that would have been an absolute mess. The game is all about the story. The problem is that it is very much a game for playing in isolation. If your mate walks in the room and wants to watch they will quickly become impatient and they will urge you to stop being a little pussy and to attack everyone in sight. You will of course try to explain how you are aiming to complete the game in low chaos mode and you need to not be noticed by that guard who has been staring at the box you have been hiding behind for ten minutes. Your mate will laugh at what a loser you are. You will relent and attempt a rampage and last for three seconds as you did not notice one of those light walls and you find your super assassin has turned to dust.

Contrary to the opinion of many gamers, steampunk is not universally cool. It is still a niche market so please treat it as such a thing when introducing it to mates. Please do not sit there reading an in game fictitious book about whale oil if your mate is sat watching you play as you will look like a Mega-Nerd. It is perfectly OK to do this when no one is looking, but it does not look cool. I wouldn’t go as far to say the game would be called ‘gayyy’ but it will not boost your coolness reputation as much as Call of Duty does.

Score: 2/10

Mate: “Stop reading that book on rats and let me have a go.”

Me: “OK but you can’t kill anyone as you might ruin my no kill streak.”

Mate: “I thought this game was about an assassin.”

This game is great for playing by yourself but not with your mates. It is full of suspense when you play but it is boring as hell to watch.

 

Real life review Parent TestParent test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

To be honest, you could play most of this in front of your grandparents if you did not go around killing everyone in sight. There is a bit of swearing and it does get a bit stomach churning when rats start munching up a corpse, but overall I found the game to be pretty inoffensive.

If a parent came in the room at a random interval they are likely to see you warping around on rooftops or darting between random urban features. At worst they will see you playing a scene where you are torturing a guy with sexual implements but to be honest it was not as bad as it sounds. At a glance the game’s most offensive features are drugs, witchcraft and prostitutes, but all the features are treated with a very Victorian attitude. Prostitutes are covered head to toe in most cases and you would not really fancy trying the drugs. I do not like witchcraft so I chose to beat the crap out of a certain old lady to make myself feel better. Of course there is the matter of violence, but there is very little gore, as the aftermath of sword fights and gunshots is a corpse with a patch of red. Boring people even have an option to not kill anyone apart from bosses.

Score: 7/10

Parent: “Tell me why you should play this instead of doing homework.”

Me: “It teaches me that stealing and fighting the government is better than murdering everyone.”

The game did not remotely offend me but some of the issues may offend one or two. Despite the game being so dark and dingy you are persuaded to play nicely. How sweet.

Real life review inner rageInner Rage test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

Dishonored is designed to be challenge, so therefore the fact that it is intended to be hard makes the game less frustrating. You know that you are supposed to repeatedly get clobbered to death and you have to learn how you are meant to get through a section. The game was very clean in terms of bugs and glitches; I encountered none despite the fact I often took very unconventional routes. It goes without saying that I would be annoyed when I failed a section for the third time and sometimes I would give up for the day, but I felt the need to complete the game. There were many points where I gave up on trying not to be seen by anyone, so I just went berserk and killed everyone, but I managed to limit myself enough to complete the game in low chaos, which was enough for me. Having said all this, the game is hard, it often makes you feel stupid, and you have to wait too much, so if you play games for a sense of achievement you should try something easier.

Score: 6/10

Despite the fact I know the game is supposed to be hard and there were very few moments that were particularly annoying (other than boss fights), it still gets annoyingly difficult.

real life review overallOverall:

After playing Dishonored I have come to the conclusion that I would not have bought it if I knew what it was like. I feel like Dishonored was more of an ordeal than a fun game, failure was frequently punished and I hate being made to wait or having any sort of time limit in a game. If a guard took more than twenty seconds to patrol a circuit I would give up and go and knock him out rather than wait. The box art sold me one of the coolest looking characters I have ever seen, and guess what – you see the mask for mere moments. It felt like the game was made to give you a guided tour of someone’s art project, and unfortunately I am not a fan of steam punk.

After saying all that, there were moments in the game that were brilliant. The masque manor party was one of the best moments in a game ever and blinking behind a guard and knocking him out is a tonne of fun (remember blinking means teleporting – you do not have superhuman eyelids). The storyline had enough to keep me going, even though it was painfully predictable.

Score:6/10

That is my personal score. I can see why others would like it, but was just not my cup of tea.

Assassin’s Creed III: Real Life Review

8 Jun

assassin creed III emblem

Assassin’s Creed III:

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Microsoft Windows

Released: 2012

Age certificate: 12

Real Life Review GirlfriendGirlfriend test

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and to go and do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Assassin’s Creed games in general do not perform badly in the girlfriend test. Assassin’s Creed III will steal you from your girlfriend for around 20-30 hours on average. I ended the game on around 24 hours but I spent a fair amount of time collecting some of those precious collectables.

You sometimes possess the ability to save and turn off at you girlfriend’s whim. The main missions can drag on for a long time, and sometimes relentlessly run one into another, but thankfully this is not a problem as you can turn off at any point and start again from one of the frequent autosave checkpoints. When you press pause the game actually pauses, which is always a bonus. Problems occur when you have to turn off when you are just about to reach a checkpoint of collectable in the middle of the Frontier. Fast travel points are frustratingly few and far between and you quickly grow bored of riding a disgruntled horse for the majority of the game just to get anywhere important. Sure, you can get more fast travels points in the irksome city tunnel minigame, but that felt like a bigger waste of time than running endlessly – and that’s a big statement. When dear old Connor is stood on a tree branch in the centre of the frontier, inches away from a collectable feather, you will ignore pleas for you to switch off.

If you are given a random amount of time to play while your girlfriend fools around with makeup you will be able to make some progress with your game. There are many activities that can take seconds or minutes to complete and hundreds of collectable’s to hunt down. If you have ten minutes you can complete a few things and happily switch off. As previously mentioned, the fast travel situation can be annoying, so later in the game you will need at leave five minutes just to get to the more isolated activities. If you have time to burn you can also just go on a rampage in one of cities, or you can ride around the countryside air assassinating deer off the back of your indifferent stead.

Sound is not an issue. If an enemy notices you the screen flashes red, so you wont lose out if the game is muted. I had subtitles on most of the time and I didn’t miss the monotonous drone of Connor’s voice. To be fair, the voice acting is not too bad and the background sound effects are subdued, so playing the game in a room with people is not going to cause offense most of the time, but the constant virtual sound of metal going through flesh may eventually cause your girlfriend to demand you mute the game.

Score: 7/10

Girlfriend: “Can you stop playing and come help me choose a dress?”

Me: “Wait, I am busy.”

Girlfriend: “Sure… I have just watched you assassinate rabbits for 20 minutes.”

Me: “Fair enough. Here I come.”

Aside from the problem of where you spawn and fast travel, the rest of the game caters for short stints and the ability to save, or to play with no sound.

Real Life Review GirlfriendMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

If they walk into your room midgame a mate who has not got Assassin’s Creed III will be entertained for a short period of time. If they are completely new to Assassin’s Creed altogether they will be impressed with your constant swashbuckling prowess and the graphic visuals. Unless of course they walk in at a frequent Desmond scene, in which case the game looks like a boring pile of steamy horse dump. If your friend is familiar with Assassins Creed they will be unimpressed with your combat skills, as they know how damn easy it is to play. If they have not progressed as far as you have they will instantly run out of the room to avoid spoilers and if they have completed it is likely they will tell you what the ending is.

Don’t get me wrong, Assassin’s Creed III is a cool game. The graphics are painfully good, (if you disagree you need to get the brightness right, or it looks washed out), but it’s not that fun to watch or to take it in turns on rampages, simply because it is so easy to play. The game is more about the storyline, and you will want to share this experience alone with Connor.

Multiplayer on the other hand can be great for playing with mates as a drinking game. Go ahead and take it in turns and see who gets the best score. You can go mental and sprint around like a mad man therefore ruining it for everyone, or you can play stealthily – both options are entertaining. Mates new to the game will murder everyone in sight; so if you care about your kill/death ratio play something else. You cannot play multiplayer on the same console so don’t buy it if playing with friends is that important to you, and if you do not have an Internet connection you may as well give up on playing with mates.

Score: 3/10

Me: “Kill the guy that is shown in that portrait, but only when the sound effects show he is near.”

Mate: “I’m dead.”

Me: “Try again.”

Mate: “He’s dead. I’m dead”

Mate: “Let’s just go outside.”

Assassin’s Creed III is made for the story mode. Just give up on local multiplayer. Online mode is fun, but I have had issues connecting with mates.

Real life review Parent TestParent test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

Assassin’s Creed III is inoffensive to most, if you ignore the constant emotionless murder. I like the way the game tries to be ethical and it does not let you kill too many civilians, but I feel a small pang of guilt when I stand in a pile of redcoats. I look at the those poor English men dying in a foreign land and I imagine them looking forward to going home for a steak and ale pie with their mother, and I think about they only signed up because the local linen mill up north wasn’t hiring that summer.

Did I mention I am from England? The game pricked a nerve when I received help from a Frenchman in killing redcoats, I would have stabbed that dude in the face, but I am rather patriotic. Since my family has a military background I would not like to let my Dad walk in and see me slaughtering our own men for my own entertainment. I was fine with it as the game assured me they were evil Templars, and you find out the American’s are just as bad, but it would not look good at a glance.

If a parent walked in at a random moment it would most likely feature you running around aimlessly or riding a horse. As usual, swearing is pretty held back and there is thankfully no awkward virtual nudity or virtual shags. The game is very pretty and quiet so you could play most of it sat in the middle of the lounge without offending anyone. If you have any animal lovers in the family don’t let them see you play the game for the first few hours as you are forced to massacre the entire cast of Bambi, but after that you don’t generally have to bother with the unfortunate local animals.

The game also has the added bonus that it teaches you history, or at least, the history of a parallel universe. You do require knowledge of the American Civil War for most of the story to not go over your head, but you can claim to parents you are being ‘educated.’

Score: 7/10

Parent: “I said dinner’s ready… why are you stabbing all those raccoons?”

Me: “So I can sell their hides in Boston so I can buy more weapons.”

Parent: “Oh OK. How much would we get for your stinky hamster?”

If your parents like to invade your room they will not be likely to be offended if they are OK with violence. Otherwise they will probably ban you from this game, in which case you should pause it if you are stood on a mound of corpses.

Real life review inner rageThe Inner Rage Test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

Assassin’s Creed III is easy as long as you master the simple combat system, so you should be able to get through most of the gameplay without being halted. There are one or two missions that are notable exceptions, such as when you are chasing a certain Templar at the end of the game. You will either love or hate the ship missions; I for one saw them as an annoying obstacle, but I completed them easily enough. I also did not want to kill animals, at all. I wanted to climb tall buildings and gaze across the game world, but the tallest thing I found was a tree. A tree. I fell out the tree a died. Connor was a nice enough chap to play as but he was a bit dim at times; Connor’s befriending of the main enemy was predictable and cringe worthy.

I had to restart one or two missions due to bugs and glitches, sometimes you would get to the checkpoint and nothing would happen, and people would spawn several metres away. Sometimes just as you assassinate a target a group of guards spawn in your exit, which seems implausible with colonial technology. As funny as it was when a NPC got stuck in the scenery and started spasming it would kind of ruin the atmosphere of the supposedly ultra advanced simulation.

Obviously the Desmond scenes were annoying, as you found yourself being ripped out of colonial America and thrown into a depressing modern day, but they were the most enthralling Desmond moments of the series. At least when you completed the game you feel Abstergo deserved everything that happened to you.

Score: 6/10

As you can see I had a few things to moan about but in general the game is very satisfying as you easily outsmart the enemy hordes and you pay very little for a series of mistake leading to death. There were some serious bugs that upset the game in parts.

real life review overallOverall

(I briefly rate games on a number of factors such as graphics, storyline, entertainment and longevity irrespective of the other tests.)

Assassins Creed III is a great game and I recommend it. It will keep you occupied for hours, but only the most OCD of you will persevere to get all the collectables. The storyline is the easiest to follow in the series but you have to keep concentrating. It is just as entertaining as the other installments but I can confess I ignored most of the introduced weapons such as rope darts, as a sword and pistol suffices in nearly every single situation. I also rejected many of the new features of the game such as ship battles and animal slaughter. It was still my second favorite Assassins Creed after good old number II.

Score: 8/10

Please. No more ship battles, no more massive environments that require hours of traveling and more tall buildings and more swashbuckling. What’s this? Assassins Creed Black Flag? I guess that means more ships!

Black Ops II: Real Life Review

2 Jun

black ops II Mike Harper

Black Ops II:

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Wii U

Released: 2012

Age certificate: 18+

Real Life Review GirlfriendGirlfriend test

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and to go and do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Black Ops II and Call of Duty in general does not have a positive relationship with girlfriend’s of gamers. The phrase ‘COD widow’ is not thrown around without any reason. However, I think that when compared with other games, it is not that bad in terms of time consumption. If your girlfriend needs constant attention then the Campaign is not a problem, as auto saves occur constantly. You can pick up and play for ten minutes and turn off without any regret.

Lets face it; Black Ops II is all about multiplayer. Each game takes about ten minutes, but you will often be committed to the game for the WHOLE ten minutes. If you get into COD and play with friends you inevitably start to care about statistics. You will not want to leave a game if you are ‘in the zone’ as this will be detrimental to your kill-death ratio, and if you leave a game it counts as a loss, which is bad for your win-loss ratio. It takes a lot more than love for a guy to leave a game when he has just earned a K9 unit.

Your girlfriend will legitimately want to play some music to mask the fairly brutal sound effects of gunshots and your unrestrained outbursts of rage aimed at enemy players who have just painted a wall with the contents of your character’s head. This can cause terrible consequences for you and your kill-death ratio. You should never underestimate the importance of hearing footsteps or being able to estimate how close that bullet was to your head based on the sound effects. In campaign mode, enemies love to scream at you so you know where to chuck that final grenade and sound in zombie mode is a full on requirement for success. Those adorable decomposing chaps make a racket from the moment when they start to smash barriers to the moment when they try to smash your spleen. If you want to play seriously, your girlfriend can’t play music or chat to friends, end of. Black Ops II will cause some arguments with the other half.

Score: 6/10

Girlfriend: “Does my new dress make me look fat?”

Me: “I will not be able to tell you until we kill 75 people.”

The problem of Black Ops II requiring your full attention is negated by the fact that multiplayer matches are quite short. Zombie mode requires you to play in a silent room. If you are one of the few that buy the game for the campaign your girlfriend will have no qualms.

Real Life Review GirlfriendMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

 

Black Ops II is all about multiplayer for me. If a housemate walks in your room and wants to play you will throw the controller at them in your barely controlled excitement. Playing online multiplayer alone or even with online mates does not even compare to playing local multiplayer. Few things can compare with a getting a high five off a group of your mates after they witness you get a triple kill headshot.

A typical ‘uneducated gamer’ as I like to call them, will initially struggle if you play online. As you dive into prone after sending a throwing knife into the eye socket of a Russian, your mate will walk past looking at his feet, then they will kill themselves with a rocket launcher shot at a harmless flower, and remember that is AFTER they have been killed 23 times by unsympathetic enemy players. If you care about your win/loss ratio too much then don’t bother playing with an uneducated gamer. I do not care much, so I make a point of celebrating every single kill a mate makes when they start their COD apprenticeship, especially as they are often hilariously accidental.  Thankfully Black Ops II accommodates for the casual gamer as it has a great feature known as combat training, which is where you hone your skills against AI enemies. You can play this even if you are offline. This is a great way to train your friends without caring if your character is relentlessly slaughtered.

Black Ops II has good pick-up-and-playability as it has the standard first person shooter controls. Having said that, a mate new to Call of Duty will struggle to use the sticks to stab and sprint and you may as well give up on trying to teach them how to bring in that UAV they somehow earned. Black Ops II is treated with reverence by all housemates, as with most COD games. Being skillful in COD at this is considered to be one of many tests of manliness. Now I only play this game with a mate as nothing compares (when playing games) to the virtual reality of being brothers in arms.

The zombie mode is a true test of your mate’s patience. I would not even bother trying it if you don’t think you can stay in there for the long haul. Having said that, if your Internet connection is being dodgy, zombie mode is the next best thing to online multiplayer. I suggest you check out walkthroughs, as it is way more confusing than previous zombie installments.

Score: 10/10

Mate: “I was thinking about doing something productive but then I heard you got Black Ops II. Fancy a game?”

A king of games when it comes to the mate test. My only concerns are to do with the fact multiplayer should have more arcade style game modes, I can’t believe there is no infected mode. Current generation console games are pretty terrible when it comes to local multiplayer so Black Ops II still stands out.

Real life review Parent TestParent test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

Black Op II is actually pretty inoffensive if your parents have grown insensitive to video game violence by now. If your room is randomly invaded the worse word they are likely to hear is ‘shit’ when your American dude is skewered by a crossbow bolt. I personally think the game should be a 15 certificate. If your parents are Russian then they will be a little shocked by what those Russian guys are shouting out (I have Russian speaking friends). The campaign is pretty inoffensive compared to any other 18+ as long as you ignore painfully stereotypical racial profiling. Zombie mode should not cause any problems either. There is nothing embarrassing about playing this game apart from the fact you openly enjoy simulating shooting several thousand people.

Score: 8/10

Parent: “Are you killing Russians?”

Me: “Yes.”

Parent: “Good.”

Me: “Actually you are not supposed to feel good about it.”

It’s no Super Mario happy fun land, but there is not the slightest hint of an artificially designed boob, and morphine injections are not advertised as medicinal and not recreational. As violence is now pretty standard your parents will be fine with this games as long as you don’t play it in the middle of the lounge on full volume.

Real life review inner rageThe Inner Rage Test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

              I experienced my fair share of frustrating experiences while playing Black Ops II, but I did not come away frustrated. Anyone familiar with COD is used to being treated with instant death when they stray away from the linear path in a world that appears to be open. I died several times while on a horse in Afghanistan when I moved more than five metres away from the butt hole of my AI teammate’s stallion. This pissed me off but I eventually conformed so I may survive and progress. I was annoyed by unexpected storyline changing moments, such as when I burnt my squad mates face off by driving through what I though was ‘artistic’ fire effects. When I play Call of Duty I just play as a soldier, with a couple of missions thrown in where I am an invincible pilot in control of flying battleship. Instead I am forced to play strike force missions, which require a completely different skill type to first person shooters. I did not like those missions and they have prevented me from replaying the game. My play through on veteran was stymied when I encountered a mission where I played a man armed with a machete who has to navigate his way through a fully armed battlefield. I eventually put aside the campaign after a completion on regular.

I really play Black Ops II for the multiplayer. This triggers most of my gaming pleasure senses. I now know where to throw a grenade at the start of a game so that it lands on someone’s face. I know which gun to use and which parts of the map to haunt. Gameplay is much more even than previous COD installments and people do not tend to dominate the game or get high level killstreaks, I am much more in favour of this system. You do occasionally come across a player that will kill you with one shot that misses by a metre and the spawning system is a bit chaotic. I do not like the maps as much as Black Ops I or Modern Warfare II, but they are OK. Zombie mode is annoying but I only play it casually so it does not bother me.

Score: 7/10

Black Ops II has some seriously annoying aspects but I like multiplayer so much I am willing to overlook it.

real life review overallOverall

(I briefly rate games on a number of factors such as graphics, storyline, entertainment and longevity irrespective of the other tests.)

Overall, I prefer Black Ops I and Modern Warfare II, but no one plays them anymore and luckily the multiplayer maps are nothing like the chaotic atrocities of Modern Warfare III. The campaign is fun but I do not appreciate the large parts of the game that do not involve shooting someone. In multiplayer the guns are much more evenly powered and the decent killstreaks are much harder to obtain. As usual the graphics are great and you will get your money’s worth. I also find the servers are way more up to scratch now.  A great online multiplayer game.

Score: 8/10

The second best Call of Duty game to play with a mate sat next to you.

Terraria: Real Life Review

31 May

terraria emblem

Terraria:

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita

Released: 2011/2013

Age certificate: PG

the GFGirlfriend test

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and go do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Terraria does well in the girlfriend test. The ability to pause and save is strong in this one. If you have to turn the game off to go and help with girlfriend issues you will not be left crying – most of the time. You can instantly save all your money materials whenever you want. The main issue with saving and coming back to the game is that when you load a game up it always starts in the game world morning, so if you are trying to complete a night time activity such as boss fights you will have to wait ten minutes for night time to reoccur. If you want to play for a quick five minutes while you girlfriend slaps on makeup you can find those minutes quite productive as long as you plan ahead and you make easily navigable tunnels to your precious subterranean ores as well as outposts where you can save.

The only real issue with Terraria in terms of time commitment comes with the bosses. You are not going to want to attend to your girlfriends needs halfway through a Wall of Flesh fight and you will literally want to book a time slot for yourself to fight the hard mode bosses.

Sound is almost completely irrelevant, so if your girlfriend wants to listen to her freaky girl music while you play it is not a problem. You will quickly mute the limited music tracks as they are on a short loop. You may fall victim to the occasional skeleton that spawns off screen and drops on your 8-bit head down a mine shaft that you would have otherwise avoided due to their off screen groaning’s, but you won’t if you are playing in normal mode as the repercussions of death are fairly acceptable.

Score: 9/10

Girlfriend: “Can you mute that annoying music?”

Me: “Gladly.”

Terraria does very well in the girl friend test. You can save any time, pause freely and you can make productive use of short stints in Terraria land. Hardmode bosses are a different matter entirely but they are not a girlfriend problem providing you book your time.

 mate emblemMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability, and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

 

The reactions of your mates will vary greatly with Terraria. Many will consider it to be ‘gay’ as it looks like a happy game where you dig holes in the ground. This is mainly what it is – particularly at the start and this is what most people love about it. If your mates like Minecraft they will have no problems adapting to the 2d translation.  Initially your mates that are uneducated in gaming will scorn Terraria but if you can persuade them to play you will soon be working together to smash the hardmode bosses.

Terraria has poor pick up and playability. If a mate joins part way through your game you will spend  a good 20 minutes teaching them controls, how to fight, which ore is which, how not to destroy your perfect tunnel system and where to find you. You will then find they have accidently equipped your special armour that you put on a statue for safe keeping and that they deleted your gold reserves. You will end up playing Fifa.

If your mate learns the controls then multiplayer is quite a bit of fun. The split screen feature is sound (nothing like the Lego Pirate of the Caribbean split screen…) and you will often find yourself playing solo and doing your own thing and then coming back to share resources. You only really need your mates for the boss fights, which are way more fun together. You can have fun trying to secretly assassinate unseasoned players by placing boulder traps and lava in caves…

Score: 7/10

Mate: “That game looks pretty gay.”

Two hours later…

Mate: “Let play for one more hour.”

You can happily play your own solo game on the same screen and then join together to fight the goblin hordes. Just don’t expect much from an anyone unseasoned gamers.

 The Parent TestThe Parent Test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

Terraria is inoffensive. Unless your parents feel squeamish when they see you attacking a giant eyeball, they have no right to complain. To me simulated 8-bit violence does not count, even when you cut a bunnies head off.

Score: 9/10

Parent: “Why has Super Mario Brothers got a sword?”

Me: “Not all people on games are called Super Mario and Super Mario Brothers is not a name.”

I repeat. Terraria is inoffensive.

inner rage emblemThe Inner Rage Test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

 

Terraria causes little rage – on normal mode. The game is very easy at the start. On normal mode I rarely went to much real effort to avoid death. You simply return to the location of your corpse and pick up your money or materials. The humourous phrases used on your gravestones take away much of the rage and they are very reminiscent of Worms. It becomes fun wandering through caves and remembering how you were crushed, beheaded and disemboweled.

Rage scales with your progression. Things get tricky when you reach the Wall of Flesh and after several attempts you relent and look for walkthroughs and find you have to dedicate hours to building a bridge across the whole map to defeat the boss. The difficulty escalates at an obscene pace when you enter hardmode and just when you think you are getting the hang of things you attempt a hardmode boss. This is where I gave up as when I read what preparation and grinding was involved I realized I would not find it fun anymore. I threw the controller across the room in my rage when I encountered the destroyer and I lasted two minutes.

Score: 5/10

Terraria performs averagely in this test. In normal mode it is extremely pleasant to play. In hardmode the difficulty mode increases to insane. I rarely get so frustrated I stop playing.

scale emblemOverall

(I briefly rate games on a number of factors such as graphics, storyline, entertainment and longevity irrespective of the other tests.)

Terraria was one of my favorite games, but I won’t go back to it after I got stuck in hard mode. The visuals are charming, the desire to attract more residents is strangely compelling, and you don’t get bored of killing slimes.  You will have a blast playing with mates but only if they are open minded to such games.

Score: 7.5/10

Fantastic value for money.

Saints Row the Third: Real Life Review

28 May

Saints Row the Third: Real Life Review

Platform: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PS3

Released: 2011

Age certificate: 18+

the GFGirlfriend test

(This tests how much freedom the game gives you to turn it off and to go and do the laundry. The test considers how much the game allows you to play for an indeterminable amount of time while your girlfriend does her make-up. It also rates how important sound is – will your girlfriend’s hairdryer or music be the matter of life and death for your character?)

Saints Row the Third does well in the girlfriend test. If you think you have ten minutes free you can sit through some quick loading times and complete a couple of activities/minigames.

The game lets you save at any moment outside of a mission, which is very useful. I wasn’t able to save during missions but I didn’t see this as a problem as they were pretty short and not difficult, so I didn’t mind when I had to switch off and restart later on. I was annoyed that you couldn’t pause cut scenes, especially as I missed the cinematic end of act one due to a deliveryman.

The volume was not an important factor. Subtitles worked most of the time and if someone shot at you they were visible on the radar. The only girlfriend problem was the jealous matter of scantily clad women and the sexual scenes.

Score: 8/10

    Girlfriend:: “Are you ready to go out?”

    Me: “One sec… yep.”

Nearly perfect. I just wish you could pause cut scenes and save properly during missions.

mate emblemMate test

(You are playing the game and your housemate walks in. Apart from Fifa they are pretty much uneducated in gaming. This test is a mix of the coolness rating, pick-up-and-play-ability and most importantly: same console multiplayer. Anything that could be called ‘gayyyyy’ loses points in this test.)

 

An uneducated gamer’s first reaction to any Saint’s Row game will be “is that Grand Theft Auto?” Your reaction will be to sigh deeply and then try and explain how it is not Grand Theft Auto.

Saint’s Row the Third has online multiplayer capabilities, but not on the same console. To me this game would be great for playing split screen. You can get a feeling for this in the well-made online co-op mode.

If your mate comes in your room to hang out, they can either watch you play or you can take it in turn to go on rampages. If they are watching you play they will find it pretty entertaining; a tank rampage is good to watch, and the storyline is pretty funny, but the fact is that the game is just not hard enough to be that good to watch. If you decide to go on a rampage you find that enemies stop spawning for no apparent reason. Taking it in turns on minigames can be fun but as the owner you don’t want your friend completing all your activities.

The game passes most cool tests. The radio music is good, varied and not repetitive so you can play it in the background while your mates chill out. Mates always like violence and they will give appreciative nods as you run over a group of pedestrians. As mentioned in the parent test, the messed up scenes will make your friends see you as some sort of perverted freak.

Score: 4/10

    Mate: “That looks fun! Can I play?”

    Me: “No.”

The game looks cool but you can’t play with someone else, and you get bored watching each other play.

The Parent TestParent test

(Imagine you have parents that are easily offended – especially by sexual themes and swearing; and at random intervals they invade your room.)

Anyone who has ever played Saints Row will know that any game in the series will fail the parent test. The humour heavily focuses on crude, sexual innuendoes, with an emphasis on dominatrix. Expect to see hos, prostitutes, dildos, gimps, fully naked statues and a surprisingly dark sex trafficking storyline. Even though the majority of the gameplay is spent driving inoffensive cars and shooting members of the fairly inoffensively dressed gangs there are some scenes that are guaranteed to make you squirm at the thought of your parents walking in.

Many people would rather snap the game CD in half rather than let their parents see them playing several particular scenes. One part that really stood out was the Doors To Perversion scene. In this scene you are naked, you wield a giant dildo as weapon, all the NPC’s are in dominatrix gear, bedrooms you explore have pneumatic dildo machines that are equipped with rubber fists, there is porn on the television screens, torture gear and cages. To be honest, I did not find this scene funny-  it was actually really creepy.

If your parent walks in your room at any one point you can be guaranteed you will be doing a mission with Zimo the perverted pimp, and that your character will be naked, that your character will decide to shout ‘Fuck’ for no reason in particular and you will be waving around ‘The Penetrator’ just for the achievement.

Score: 4/10

    Parent: “What is this filth!?”

At an average moment the game is not offensive, but there are some seriously messed up moments.

inner rage emblemThe Inner Rage Test

(You have had a bad day and you want to feel a sense of achievement. This section talks about how frustrating them game is.)

    When played on normal mode, this game is incredibly easy, the difficulty should not be a problem for any seasoned gamer. Even without upgrades your character can eat a grenade and survive the explosive outcome. If you are finding it hard you can level up your character and make them invincible. 100% completion and all the achievements/trophies is a matter of patience rather than skill.

I found the mission: http://deckers.die to be incredibly annoying. It is supposed to be annoying, but it goes too far. Your character is playing in a computer game and if you die in the game you die in real life (cringe). The enemy boss is hacking you the entire time, which comes across in game as the inversion of controls, slowing down of your character and teleporting/glitching. This just pissed me off. They level was very long and if I had to turn off the console then I would have stopped playing the game. Zimo also pissed me off – I hate singing characters and auto tuning. Other than that the game was very pleasant to play and your inner conqueror is free to rape and pillage without much resistance.

Score: 8/10

    Me: “Bow before me, puny humans.”

I am able to ignore one annoying character and one very annoying mission for the sake of satisfying gameplay.

scale emblemOverall

(I rate games on a number of factors such as graphics, storyline, entertainment and longevity; the real life tests are considered but they do not necessarily affect the final result.)

Saints Row the Third is an addictive game. For me it is a filler between Grand Theft Auto installments. The graphics are an undetermined mix of cartoony and realistic, the storyline is funny and easy to follow and the characters are likable. Most importantly, the gameplay is excellent and it appealed to my inner conqueror. There are plenty of hours involved and you get your moneys worth long before you are bored. The missions, minigames and activities are all really fun and they feature the sort of things that most current games are lacking. I would instantly buy a spin off arcade game called Insurance Fraud or Tank Mayhem.

Score: 8/10

Even after doing badly in the mate and parent tests, as a whole Saints Row the Third is a great game and I think there should be more like it.