Tuesday, 25 October 2011


That nonsensical title is the literary description of a beautiful thing. That beautiful thing is birth, more specifically though, it’s a rebirth....that’s right bitches, we’re back!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Retro Review: Streets of Rage 2

Let's take a trip back in time to 1992 when video games were still young, heavily stereotyped and made almost entirely in japan. Today I bring you 'Streets of Rage 2', a sequel to the very successful 'Streets of rage' ( duhhhhh). SoR2 was very well known for it's quintessential early 90's theme; evident in character design, environments and the soundtrack.

SoR2 is part of the 'beat em' up', side-scroller genre, a genre which in recent years has seen some decline from its former glory days in the early 90's. Players complete levels by traversing a map from left to right (generally), defeating numerous enemies along the way, each with different amount of health and forms of attack. These two aspects pretty much exemplify the genre and is an award winning formula to video game genius. So why is this game any better than other beat em' ups? It's not exactly the first or the last game in the genre, so what makes this game so great? Well, let's take a look.

Early video games where not exactly well known for having intricate, complicated or even compelling story lines... And this game is no different. It's a simple concept, Adam (a character from the SoR1) has been abducted and held by the notorious Mr. X; whom you supposedly killed in SoR1. Axel and Blaze are informed via Skate, Adam's much, much younger brother ( I'm mean seriously, there must be like 20 years between them!) and they all decide to save his ass. So they, with the assistance of Max (some random wrestler who would put Brock Lesner to shame) set out the Kill Mr. X, again, disrupt his syndicate and rescue Adam. That said, It's time to pick your character.

Welcome to the days when people moved in one of eight directions and only had three buttons to control attacks, jumps and specials. Simple times. But yes, it is as bad as it sounds; generally the controller was the primary cause for some serious RSI's (Repetitive strain Injuries), noticeably the 'Nintendos thumb' condition. Characters are slow to react to the pad compared to modern gaming controllers, but at the time, they were great, some may even say fantastic. No need to memorise long, arduous combos; instead just mash the crap out of the 'B' button until your enemy was dead. Even better, was the ability to literally walk up an enemy and your character would grab them, this made them your bitch for a good few moves, with a partner you could take an entire screen of enemies to pieces using this tried and tested method. However, that said, two things really peel my potatoes. First and foremost is the shy enemy; you walk towards them, they walk away... you walk away, they walk towards you... This cycle is continuous, monotonous and down right aggravating. My favourite solution was waiting for the dick to get close, turn around and lamp him one with a baseball bat or throw some sharp object at them. The other issue isn't really an issue but more of a preference. When you press the special button, your character does a little display and generally fights off all the enemies around you at the price of some health. But I much prefer the special in SoR1, press that and a mother fudging police car rolls up, and the smallest cop hops out clutching onto a freaking rocket launcher! Why remove something so cool!

Playing this game with friends will undoubtedly result in hours of fun, enjoyment and endless arguments over characters and accidentally killing one another. Personally, I always choose Skate, he's little, fast and the way he controls suits my style of gameplay, however, everyone else I play with also always wants him... And as you can imagine, being six and debating on who gets what instantly becomes a 'mine or bugger off' conversation. The game compensates for the addition of the extra player by adding additional enemies and generally doubles up on stage bosses, which in some situations, can make the game harder than it would be solo. But as I've always said, the social aspects, whenever introduced into a game, will generally outweigh any other aspect in the game as long as it flows well and adds, if not makes, the game experience better.

Considering this game, along with several others, was built for a 16-bit console, the colour scheme and depth is intense and way beyond what this reviewer would have thought was possible. Then again I did just read that a 16-bit console has 65,536 available colours to use. The environments are very reflective of the early 90's, to me it's very reminiscent of the 'Teenage mutant ninja turtles movie'. The music from SoR2 is very memorable, composed by Yuzo Koshiro (who?) who at the time was known as the master for 16-bit music composition. It is heavily influenced by synthetic music played on numerous synths and keyboards which makes you feel so immersed in the 90's sub-culture. It does become a little grinding listening to up-beat dance/rave music constantly but the music variates itself enough that it doesn't become to monotonous, if anything I would say it's rather well done considering.

Score Breakdown:

Visuals – 7/10  - Unfortunately, by modern standards, it doesn't hold a candle to it, but what we are treated to is far beyond what most would expect from a 16-bit video game, bright colours, pretty detailed graphics considering the pixel ratio and just some damn fine detail put into the environments.... Except the part when we see the same background over and over again...

Presentation – 7/10 - story line isn't amazing and it definitely wasn't groundbreaking. I don't even remember caring about the story if I'm honest, you seem to zone out and just concentrate on beating the crap out of things and throwing knives at people. Any game that can completely immerse you into its basic mechanics while presenting such piss-poor story telling deserves some reward and for that it gets a 7.

Sound – 8/10 - As stated above, the soundtrack to the game is undeniably fantastic and heavily saturated with that 90's club vibe. Sound effects are also well done, punches are enthusiastically loud, picking up fruit or 'lives' makes either an interesting 'gulping' sound or a loud 'beep' to acknowledge the command and is kind of funny at times.

Gameplay - 8/10 - Sweet, simple and to the point; Kill everything and move right... Can't realy think of a simpler concept if I'm honest. Few things let it down, like the sticky controller, which havn't been improved upon the newer 'virtual consoles'; one can only assume it's to preserve the concept of the old system and not detract from the games original imperfections.

Overall - 7.5/10 - I bought this game via XBOX arcade for about 400 MS points, so about £3.50 ($5) and I can honestly say I don't regret a single penny. It has given me hours of enjoyment and some serious challenges in terms of achievement hunting. The only thing that really got to me was the inability to recover this game on another console, there are some major issues here. That said, if you haven't already played this or its predecessor, I would immensely advise It. Now... has anyone seen my lead pipe?.. I think I'll need it with these London riots...


Friday, 5 August 2011

UFC Undisputed 2010

UFC makes a grand return to the console, now with a greater line up of the hardest fighters, improved graphics and harder hits. Has UFC 2010 been able to surpass it's predecessor and blow other MMA fighting out of contention? Gloves and 'roids' at the ready, lets go!

As most will know, UFC (Ultimate fighting championship) is a sport which consist of a octagonal fighting ring, with a 2 meter high metal fence, 2 barbarically huge men, 1 ref, 3 minute rounds, a fistful of adrenaline and wheelie-bin full of testicular fortitude. This game is almost as brutal as it's real life counterpart, you can almost feel every punch, every kick as they slam straight into an opponent. There are 3 main ways to win in UFC; points, knockout or submission. From my experience, you will never make it to points... Or even the second round in some cases. Fights are fast, moves are powerful and rounds are long; this makes fights generally quite short and when players are mismatched, almost instantaneous victory can (and probably will) be assured.

UFC doesn't seem to pride itself too much on it's story. I played two modes which can be 'kind of' associated to what could be concerned as a story. The initial was an arcade style story progression, you know, beat one guy, move onto the next, progressively gets harder until you get to the final 'boss', who is generally hard as nails (could probably take a chainsaw to the face and live). But my god was I not ready for this final guy... I played for what must have been 3-4 hours trying to beat this guy, but nothing I did worked. I occasionally got him on to his ' woozy gray screen of immanent death' but he always survived and would pull an irreversible submission on me.... It really boiled my potatoes...
The other story mode was more like an MMO, or at least felt as long and pointless as an MMO... You start out with a character with no skills or abilities or anything.... I mean the guy probably gets the trainer to tie his shoes with the general lack of gumption he has about him. You then spend countless hours training your guy, learning stuff, buying stuff, improving stuff, stopping him from declining in ability whilst combating fatigue; It's an endless cycle of events which never seem to conclude or improve at an sort of pace... This mode is strictly designed to make the game appear longer, I personally got very bored with this and soon sacked it off after playing a full season with fractional improvement.

If anyone has played UFC 2009, then you will know what I mean when I say 'clunky controls' or 'button mashers paradise' and you'll be glad to hear... this is pretty much exactly the same with some slight improvements. The instruction booklet instantly become your bible as a beginner, as the in-game instruction and 'tutorials' are abysmal. There are moves set out for whilst your character is grappling and clinching (or hugging), most of which involve the use of the right thumb stick. Maybe it's just me, but i can never see the pattern for moving it correctly, I could be as accurate as possible, gently moving it as instructed or go wild on it as if i was a five-year old swinging on the stick and get the same result. I personally found the best method is just to punch and kick, with that you have at least some chance of knocking them out and winning... It's either that or spend your evenings memorizing 2 pages of combos.

It seems to becoming the norm now that all fighting games, or any game really that brags about 'customisation' has to offer it to the MAX. Do we really need to be able to adjust nostril size or what colour Pinky-ring our fighter wears... in this reviewers opinion, no... we don't. But then again we don't want the option of too little. UFC has gone slightly more in the favour of the first but has not gone to the lengths that 'fight night champion' has, for which I can be nothing but grateful. Again it's fun to make characters of yourself and your friends, but when the controls are as fidgety as they are, it detracts from the fun and becomes a mad bash for buttons. A dog with the controller in it's mouth is the key to success I find. But in fairness, there is a lot given for customisation, I personally couldn't stand to pay that much attention to a small feature of this game, but those who love the MMO style storyline will probably love this feature and rightly so.

Some aspects are kept very true to UFC, the characters all wear the attire you see them in on the TV, rock music is prominent throughout the game ( which i welcome with open arms), Lots of Ed Hardy clothing (adding to the douche bag appeal) and all the signs, designs and logos are true to their real sponsors; which I find really helps to immerse the player into the game environment. Graphics are nothing too special but they are in order with current gen graphics and flow well considering how much contact there is with the characters. As for environment.... Not much can be said, they have designed a few classic UFC fighting arenas, a training gym and that's pretty much it... wow... Oh and the arenas have fans, not that it was not going to be expected.

Score Breakdown:
Visuals –7-8 /10: They cannot be faulted, they are up there with what anyone would expect from a fighting game, especially one as young as this. Environments are as seen on the TV and again, nothing special, but nothing below expected standards; I can't really fault this or be amazed as it just feels like it lacks but also delivers...
Presentation – 5/10: Feels slapped together from the remnants of the first UFC game, similar layout, similar stuff. Some parts have shown improvement, like the menu designs, graphics and transition between options within the menu. Other than that, Not much new to the table.
Sound: - 7/10: Steady and safe music, most of which you hear at any UFC fight. Voice acting is standard for a fighting game, not too impressive but at least we have a nice bit of talent for the introductory sequences.
Gameplay – 6/10: Single player is pretty boring, repetitive and until a point, not very challenging, until it becomes unbeatable.... even on easy.Multiplayer however offers some interesting gameplay and tests who has read the instruction manual. It gets to be, dare I say it, fun on occasions but nothing any good game would get jealous over. Sorry UFC but you're just to plain in this creative gaming world we live in.
Overall – 6.5/10: You could do a lot worse than play / buy this game, that said, this game's only winning point to me is the multiplayer value and even that gets old pretty quick. So do all your friends a favour, keep picking Brock Lesner, beating the crap out of them until they get tired of loosing and move onto something better like playing with your G.I. Joes or something.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

CDS E3 Awards!

WOW! What an show we had at E3 this year. We saw some amazing new titles and new 'futuristic' technology to get excited about over upcoming months. We at CDS have decided to hand out awards for some of our favourite (and less favourite) E3 moments!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Duke Nukem Forever

So!  The Duke has finally returned!  After 14 years in development hell, he finally sees the light of day.  But has the wait done him any good?  Well, much like the aliens invading Las Vegas I have some bad news for you.  Duke Nukem is here, all the way from 1997...

Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge is a truly unique gaming experience. It is a fascinating action platformer that has its fair share of innovations from its first-person perspective to its clean and crisp visual style. 

E3 Presentation Afterthoughts

I watched four press conferences at this year’s E3 and decided to give you all an idea of how I feel it went, at the end of each conference I've given a score. This is not indicative of the games that were shown but more on the actual conference itself. Enjoy!

Friday, 10 June 2011

WiiU or not WiiU? That is the question.

Wii U or Won't U?
No doubt Nintendo made the biggest splash out of the three developers with there conference earlier this week. The huge amount of games that were shown off, for all the platforms, was something that Microsoft and Sony didn't seem to include in their conferences. The conference was great, look out for Dave's article on the respective conferences, but the biggest thing from the Nintendo conference was of course WiiU.

Monday, 6 June 2011

L.A. Noire

Are games art? A question which has been asked a fair amount during this generation yet we still don’t have an answer. Team Bondi and Rockstar have pulled out a title which is sure to add another feather to the bow of gaming as a form of art.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Mortal Kombat

So just where do you start with a game like Mortal Kombat?  A legend, a true gaming colossus, up there as one of the great gaming series’ alongside classics like Sonic, Mario, Zelda and modern hits like Call of Duty.  The series has spawned a multitude of sequels, movies, catchphrases, memorable characters and has undergone more attempted rebirths than Britney Spears’ career.  But can this offering truly revitalise the series once and for all?  Well, ‘get over here!’ and you’ll find out, but be careful, it’s about to get messy!

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