Tag Archives: Xbox

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.

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.