Dealspwn Rating: 8/10
Platforms: PS3 (Reviewed)/360/PC
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Old news for PC and 360 gamers, but Peggle has finally made its way to PS3 via the PSN service. If you enjoyed PopCap’s other games like Bejeweled 2 and Zuma then there’s every chance you’ll love this too.
The aim is to rid the screen of all the orange Pegs. You do this by shooting a ball at an angle from the top the screen, then simply sitting back and letting gravity take care of the rest as the ball bounces of walls and blue and orange Pegs. Pegs light up when touched and disappear a few seconds later, longer if the ball is still pinging around lots. Eventually the ball falls to the bottom of the screen, either into a hole or into a moving bucket which lets you use the ball again. You get ten balls to clear all the orange Pegs out, but more balls can be earned by saving them at the bottom or racking up a large combo by bouncing off lots of pegs. Once the last orange Peg has been hit the ball lands in one of five pits for an extra score bonus.
What makes Peggle so different from most puzzle games is how you don’t really have a lot of control over the ball. Once you’ve launched it, you watch it run its course in eager anticipation and hope.
This on its own would get boring pretty quick so each character that you’re given in turn for a few levels each during the Adventure mode has their own unique talent that you can activate by hitting a green Peg. This could be altering the trajectory of the first bounce in advance for a few shots. Or maybe the green Peg will act like a bomb destroying nearby Pegs. A later one adjusts your next shot to the best angle to get the most hits on the way down. A large fireball is a handy one for clearing a straight line too. The only one that requires you to do something after the ball has been fired is the lobster flippers which put pinball-style flippers at the sides for you to flick the ball back up for more.
Generally though it’s quite a relaxing game to play and makes a nice change from the usual frantic re-arranging of Bejeweled or the quick aim and fire of Zuma. There’s not even a bonus for finishing levels quickly, so relax, have fun with it.
The main Adventure game has 55 levels and after that you’ll want to check out the 75 challenges which are tougher levels with you aiming for a high-score or a larger number of orange Pegs. Master Dual is where you can face off against any of the game’s characters by taking turns on a single map to get the highest score.
If you can find anyone online to play against there are similar dual options for multiplayer, but you can play locally too. If you’re still desperate for more, there’s already an expansion pack out called Peggle Nights. You can even get the Nights pack on PC for free at the moment. Have a look at Neil’s article for more information.
The Short Version: Does what PopCap Games do best; steal the nights from underneath you. You know when they’ve nailed it again when you sit down for a quick game and don’t move for three hours. The gameplay is pleasantly relaxing for a change too.
Peggle is available now on the PSN store for £6.29 and the Peggle Nights expansion is £3.19.
Dealspwn Rating 8/10
Developer: Sumo Digital
Considering kart racers are supposed to be a heavily populated genre, it’s surprising that there aren’t really any on the PS3 and Xbox 360. There are a few film spin-offs like Pixar’s Cars and PSN titles like Gripshift and Smash Cars but it’s almost like nobody’s got the guts to take on Nintendo and Mario Kart.
No longer though. Sonic’s star may have fallen in all manner of horrific ways over the years, with him even having to hop into bed with the porky plumber to pay the bills, but make no mistake Sonic and pals are back in contention with this top racing title.
Offline options include single races and six four-race Grand Prix tournaments which won’t take you long to burn through. Most of your time will be spent trying to get a AAA ranking (a nod to Sega’s classic Out Run series) on the 64 Missions. These include the gradually more difficult (but at a steady curve) list of races, drift challenges, avoiding pots, hitting pots, running creatures over with a giant egg and so on. It’s typical, crazy, Sega-flavoured madness that works great on your own or as pass-the-pad party minigames. Time Attack mode is also available for all the tracks where you compete against Staff Ghosts and leaderboard toppers.
Tracks are littered with plenty of random weapons and power-ups to keep events tightly contested. These consist of the usual rockets, speed-boosts and enemy vision impairments in the form of a trippy rainbow. There are also variations on the classics such as giant rolling bombs that you fire down the track like a TNT stuffed bowling ball, giant boxing gloves that bounce off the track walls or a shotgun-like fog horn.
There’s more. One swine of a weapon turns your world upside down and reverses the controls; fortunately it doesn’t appear too often. Every character has their own unique star move too, although they’re only given it when they’re getting battered towards last place. They really bring you back into the thick of the race though, even up to a podium position as there’s a semi-auto-pilot feel to it too with you only having to move side-to-side to hit opponents in your strengthened form. Think of it like the Bullet weapon in Mario Kart.
Sonic’s turns him into his golden Super Sonic form with bashing X giving even more speed boosts. AiAi’s power puts him and the other racers into Monkey Balls as he bounces them around the track. Dr Eggman gets to unleash a lethal barrage of auto-rockets at anyone nearby; he never did play fair though.
Every character has their own vehicle with their own stats, with them all feeling fairly balanced and plenty more to unlock with Sega Miles. There are plenty of Sonic characters, supported by members of Virtua Fighter, Space Channel 5, Shenmue and so on. Thankfully there’s no story at all so you don’t have to sit through any dire cut-scenes.Click here to read the rest of Brendan's review...
Now here’s a problem. Super Street Fighter IV is released soon, looks pretty damn tasty and will be retailing for around £25. But look, cheap shiny Collector’s Edition! It’s full of quality extras too, rather than the usual tin-box and art cards guff.
So what’s in the box? There are two limited edition figurines: one of Ryu and one of the new gal Crimson Viper (the one with those outrageous flaming kicks). A new HD movie on a bonus disc that fills out the story of events preceding the game and also a collection of those gorgeous early teaser trailers is also included.
There’s also a comic book-style mini strategy guide for the new characters that might tempt you to give them a go, rather than sticking with old favourites. You’ll also get the ‘Brawler’ DLC pack of extra costumes for five characters, saving you a few quid on PSN/XBLA.
The game is about a year old now but is still one of the best brawlers out there, our readers voted it the Best Fighting Game of 2009 and rightly so. The new art-style is simply breath-taking and a brilliant new look between retro cool and modern graphical prowess. King of Fighters XII seemingly tried to copy it, but realised mid-development it was harder than it looks and came out with an odd looking mess stuck in two minds.
Ultra Combos and Focus attacks look and feel devastatingly effective and the game even has a solid online mode. It was a little lacking in extra modes, which is where the upcoming ‘Super’ version will be an improvement. You just have to weigh up your choices of new version soon or this one now. If you consider yourself a hardcore fan but couldn’t afford the £70 price-tag when it was first released, then it’s a no-brainer.
Thanks to burstlikeabubble and gooner_187 at HotUkDeals.
The series might have lost some of its pulling power over the years and this game’s long development time has had stealth fanatics rubbing their aching backs as they crouch patiently in the dark in anticipation. So you might as well treat yourself to a cheap pre-order, almost a fiver cheaper than the next best deal at ShopTo.net.
Sneaking fans can look forward to a much more open style of gameplay this time around, with Sam no longer working for the government. Instead he is being hunted by his old employers (again?). So you won’t have access to all their cool high-tech spy gear, but you will be able to buy Black Market equivalents.
Objectives and video footage are now projected onto the world’s environments now in a cool new style choice that sure as hell beats menus and pop-up boxes. Using Sam’s environment including objects and even crowds of civilians will all play key parts this time as the series attempts to re-invent itself.
Deniable ops are the multiplayer games consisting of modes where players must eliminate AI guards, each other, defend objectives or remain hidden for as long as possible. At the moment it sort of looks like a cross between the online worlds of Uncharted 2 and Rainbow Six Vegas because of the large amounts of climbing and shooting.
The most interesting co-op mode though looks set to be the Prologue to the events of the single-player game where two players team up. Early impressions indicate that overall the game looks to be very action-heavy and noticeably more forgiving than the early games which may split opinion widely come release day on 16th April 2010.
Dealspwn Rating: 7/10
Developer: Level 5
I don’t want to say JRPGs are like buses but come on! In little over a month, starved console gamers are getting Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Final Fantasy XIII (9th March) and now the very late in translation PS3 exclusive, White Knight Chronicles. The Wii even got a Final Fantasy game too!
Well, enough complaining - just book the whole of March off and get stuck-in! RPG fans may be interested to know that this game is from Level 5, the well respected developers of the critically acclaimed Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy.
The story is a typical save-the-Princess/revenge saga. The only defence I can think of for such simple storylines in many RPGs is that anything too complicated would be hard work to write, bearing in mind the many hours between story scenes we spend levelling-up grinding and exploring - FFX-2 being a prime example of ‘what the hell was all that about.’ Even so, we’re not seven years old! White Knight Chronicles is clichéd up to the nines, but still managed to suck me right in - eager as I was for a solid RPG and enjoying the momentum of the story and the characters anyway.
Click here to read the rest of Brendan's review...
If you enjoyed the first two episodes of this family-orientated mystery and puzzle game but felt a little narked at stumping up a tenner for around three hours of gaming, then you’ll be delighted to hear that you can now get the third episode of the Blue Toad Murder Files for FREE for a month on the PSN Store. Let’s hope they let you sort out the mess from the end of Episode 1 that was somewhat swept under the rug for Episode 2!
You will need to have at least the first episode to get this for free. You can buy that for £6.29 or get a discount by getting the second episode too in a £9.99 bundle.
For newcomers, the game has you wondering around the "quintessentially quaint” countryside village of Little Riddle, solving puzzles to find the culprit of that episodes big mystery. The village looks like a shiny, high-def version of Postman Pat’s world. It’s all vibrant colours, babbling brooks, duck ponds, country manors, twee shops and a small train station.
Puzzles involve anagrams, word searches and maths (boo the maths!). Or they might involve rearranging pipes or maze pieces. You’ll also need to keep a keen eye (and ear) on random details that you’ll be quizzed on too. By the end of each episode you’re asked to collect your evidence together and pick your culprit from a line-up.
I found the first two games to be enjoyable first time around. However they suffered with a lack of replay value with no variation to the puzzle questions or answers second time around which at least made it way easier to get a gold rating! A word of warning though, Episode 2 is considerably tougher.
The bright graphics, well animated characters, brilliantly cheesy acting and script made it a worthy experience though. All the voices were done by one man, which once your hear them all is quite a feat.
This offer expires March 25th 2010. If you do enjoy yourself in Little Riddle you can look forward to Episodes 4-6 on April 8th 2010.
Dealspwn Rating: 8/10
Cinema’s favourite monsters haven’t exactly flourished on consoles. The Alien franchise hasn’t had a good game since Alien Trilogy on the PS1 and Predator is still waiting. PC gamers have enjoyed the clash of these mighty beasts for many a year though, and finally, so can the rest of us.
The plot of the new Aliens Vs Predator video game is pretty basic and shares a few small similarities to the first AVP movie; thankfully the awful Dawson’s Creek-esque sequel has largely been ignored. The Marine plot is filled in better if you pick up audio diaries, similar in nature to those in Bioshock 2. Just as all three stories begin to get interesting though, they finish, leaving you disappointed but tellingly, wanting more.
With the way the game has been promoted for its multiplayer elements you may even be surprised to hear it has a single player mode. It’s good to see the effort has been made where others couldn’t be arsed though, ‘cough…MAG... cough.’ However, the graphics seem to have been neglected a bit, they’re not bad, they’re just so lacking in effort.
There are three separate campaigns to play through in single player as a Marine, Alien or Predator, who each have five missions. Locations are shared but with different routes. Most importantly though they all feel different enough to make it feel like a fresh experience each time. If you don’t try and hoover up all the collectibles there’s only a few hours’ worth of gaming for each species, but in all honesty their general purpose is to give you some practice before you brave the online universes.
Dealspwn Rating: 6/10
Platform: PSN (PS3)
Developer: Just add water
Gravity Crash is another retro-style 2D shooter for the Playstation Network and probably the harshest one yet. Your space-ship handles similarly to games of yesteryear like Thrust and Gravitar; if this means nothing to you, it’s like a hockey puck slowly sliding across the ice, with little thrusts to control changes in direction. The game’s enjoyable to look at in a minimalist way, with its simple yet striking visual style of solid lines making up the maps and lighting them up with a neon glow.
The left stick controls movement and the right one aims your unbearably inadequate weapons. Thrusts have to be applied gently because the more momentum you pick up, the longer it takes to slow down, meaning you’ll overshoot your turns and slam into rocks and die. Floating downwards is a key way of navigating the maps and narrow, horizontal gaps are best survived by pointing your ship upwards and waddling through sideways like a cardboard cut-out of a sumo wrestler (it’s fair to say my mind snapped at some point during this game). Your ship is actually easier to pilot when travelling through water and makes you wish the whole game took place there.
Dealspwn Rating 9/10
Developer: Quantic Dream
Released: 26th February 2010
This PS3 exclusive is the long-awaited ‘interactive drama’ from Quantic Dream. For months we’ve been wowed by the stunning character models and promises of a unique experience. Of course we’ve also been worried that the whole thing may descend into a never-ending line of Quick-Time-Events (QTEs). Read on for the full verdict.
Think of Heavy Rain as a chilling murder-mystery crossing the relentless search for missing persons, a serial killer hunt and horrific trials set by a lunatic. The Silence of the Lambs and the cruel trials of Saw (but less gory here) are amongst the key influences on the plot, but not in a lazy rip-off way.
You might also draw comparisons with the old multi-path adventure books. You know...’turn to page 96 to enter the demon’s dark cave’ or ‘turn to page 53 to go through the field to the fair.’ The developers should have let you hold L2 to let you recreate the moments of: ‘Oh crap I died, but my finger is still on the other page so I can go back.’
The Origami killer has been killing children for years and now another has gone missing. Needless to say it’s full of twists and surprises. You’ve probably heard the first hours’ worth of them already if you’ve been following the game. I’m not going to go into any revealing details though, just go and enjoy it.
Finding the killer is the central obsession of the four main characters you control. Ethan Mars is the emotionally distraught father and one of the game’s most interesting characters. Madison Paige is a photo-journalist who has garnered most of the game’s attention so far for getting naked (oh no!). Norman Jayden’s a Federal Agent on the trail of the Origami Killer. Scott Shelby is a classic noir-style Private Investigator, hard-assed but heart of gold for the dames and owner of a quality 50's car. The story has you swapping between their narratives with the possibility of them crossing paths based on your decisions.
Click here to see if Heavy Rain delivers the goods...
Coming up fast behind Mario Kart is ModNation Racers from Sony and United Front Games. Rather than just another kart-racer you’ll have your chance to create your own tracks and characters. It’s the next game in Sony’s ‘Play, Create, Share’ push started by Little Big Planet.
There’ll be plenty of single player tracks to try out but seamless online integration is the aim of the game with players being encouraged to race against a mix of AI and online racers while sharing their created or borrowed content. All this won’t matter squat though if the racing itself isn’t fun. So it’s a good thing we’ve had an extensive hands on then.Click here to read Brendan's mouthwatering hands-on preview...
Dealspwn Rating: 9/10
Platform: PSN (PS3)
There are already a large number of 2D shooters on the PSN Store, but the genre hopping Pixeljunk series from Q-Games has beaten them all with their first shot at the title. PixelJunk Shooter is a compelling game designed with a distinctive, simple, full-coloured style and perfectly balanced gameplay.
Movement is handled using the left analogue stick with wonderfully smooth and reliable controls that work well at high and low speeds. The objective of each level is to rescue the stranded humans by aiming with the right stick and firing your grabber with L1. Your weapons are fired the same way with R1 instead, so you can imagine some early ‘incidents’ that took place there. Picking up the last (surviving) person opens the gate to the next area.
Enemies start off as simple bats, but soon enough you’ll come across spinning rock burrowers, a variety of organic turrets and mini erupting volcanoes. As well as your basic bullets you can hold down the fire button to release powerful homing rockets. These will overheat your ship though. Get too hot and you’ll need to take a cooling breather or you’ll explode. Dipping into a pool of water will do it quicker.
Platforms: PS3 (reviewed) | Xbox 360 | PC
How do you make a game of the megabucks-making gorno series? Well developers Zombie ran into trouble when their original publisher went bust, but Konami swooped in and picked up publishing rights and seemingly had an influence on the game itself too. So we’re left with this inbred Silent Hill knockoff with more torture scenes and poor hand-to-anything coordination.
You are Detective Tapp (played by Danny Glover in the first film) who after his injuries has been nursed back to health by Jigsaw purely for the purpose of f**cking him around in his own purpose built asylum. Jigsaw’s lair is suitably littered with dozens of his victims’ destroyed corpses in various devices you’ll recognise from the movies. Jigsaw’s game is to try and convince Tapp to forget his obsession with catching him (this’ll help).
The game plays like a broken version of the Silent Hill games, complete with even more awkward combat and plenty of identical, bleak corridors to explore. The combat is the game’s ultimate weakness with the controls redefining unresponsive. You do get a wide range of weapons that would be quite at home in a Manhunt game, such as scissors, mannequin arms, baseball bats (with/without nails), table legs, pistols (rare), hypodermic needles or just your fists. The medium and strong attacks take forever to travel from your couch to on-screen; thankfully the AI is pretty thick and goes down without much of a fight. The only real selling point to the combat is that each first kill with a weapon is awarded with a Trophy. The main people you fight are people in similar situations to yourself, but their task is pretty much to kill you. Great, they get a quick stab mission, I’ve got eight hours of clumsy combat and puzzles. Cheers Jigsaw, you prick.
There are traps you can set for your enemies but you’re only allowed to do this really late in the game. It’s too late by then; you’ll just be heading towards the light at the end of the tunnel that is playing something else. You’ll have to watch out for traps too, such as the shotgun tripwires and shotgun door-opening QTEs.Click here to read the rest of Brendan's review.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Hype and video games can be a cruel mix. But it can also be wonderful when a game smashes the door down and delivers everything it promised. Any adulterous thoughts PS3 gamers may have been having concerning a fling with Gears of War will be washed away with this bona-fide PS3 exclusive classic
We start with Nathan Drake wounded and hanging over a blizzard ravaged cliff inside a train cart. As you make your way up the side of the train you can feel the epicness coming as you make a last-ditch escape. For a short while from here the game stumbles for the following chapter with a stealth level to set up the story. There's nothing really wrong with it. It’s just too early in the game, we’ve been waiting to get involved in the juicy shootouts for months, but we’ve got to sneak around first.
Soon enough you’re bounding your way through the jungles of Borneo and climbing crumbling buildings in the city of Nepal to earn the best view around as you see the whole city stretched out before you. The game makes a wonderful habit of just giving you views to die for. Naughty Dog have done an incredible job of harnessing the PS3, you have to wonder what the hell everyone else is playing at.
The cutscenes and character animations are of a different class to the competition too. The transition from cutscene to gameplay is so seamless you won’t dare put down the pad, as control is often thrust back into your hands for all the best bits, which makes a nice change from the usual cut-scene cop-outs. If you saw the E3 demo with the helicopter scene, you won’t be disappointed as you play every exhilarating second for yourself.
Uncharted 2 has the game to back up the looks too with the gunplay and platforming improved from the first game (which was no slouch). Most of the time you’ll enjoy shooting from cover, but it’s fun to occasionally run in, pop off a few shots and finish in style with a melee combo. Chapter 2 aside, stealth is optional, but very useful for thinning out enemy numbers before launching a full on assault.
The enemy design is a bit of a let-down as until the end chapters they’re all black-clad mercs. Their weapon loadout varies, but they lack the character of the pirates from the first game.
Any sense of disappointment is swept away though with a constant barrage of well-designed levels and outrageous set-pieces that always leaves you in control. Back on the Mega-Drive every decent action game worth its salt had a killer train level. Well they’re back and get ready for the best one yet. It has all the great staples like pushing enemies off, dodging barriers and a seemingly never-ending (in a good way) journey to the front. You’ll be clambering around the side of the carriages and jumping in through windows to get the drop on gun turrets and shotgun heavies. Don’t forget to admire the view through the jungle though; you’ll miss it if you don’t flick the camera around. I’d do it early on too as the helicopter boss fight is one hell of a sprint finish.
A later level that has you leaping between trucks speeding along a snowy mountain-side is a lesson in outrageous excitement too. But you’ll need the odd breather and that’s where the puzzles come in. There’s nothing too taxing to work out, the challenge is generally how to climb up to a certain area to switch a light-reflecting mirror and the like.
Throughout the explosive gunfights and quieter moments, the cast do a supreme job of keeping you entertained. Drake is again voiced by gaming’s favourite ‘everyman’ Nolan North, whose fallible nature is so much more likable than the usual gaming grunt. Elena returns too, but she’s got a bit of competition from new girl Chloe who’s been working with Drake. The story focuses on the legend of the Cintamani Stone and the lost civilisation of Shambhala (Shangri La). It’s got mystical powers and all that and there’s a psychotic war criminal in the shape of Zoran Lazarevic. It’s a great traditional adventure full of plot twists, betrayal, laughs, stunning scenery and the ambitious level of action that Hollywood blockbusters have been missing for years.
By the time the conclusion comes round you’ll have seen the best looking levels in gaming today (especially the last location) and will in all likelihood start a new game. However you might be tempted to check out the multiplayer too.
Nobody asked for it, but what the hell, it could be a laugh for an afternoon. Turns out we should have been looking forward to this side of the game with an obsessive six-month fever too. The platforming and cover options work as well as they do in the single player game with the especially redesigned environments from the main game making up the arenas. Sometimes online shooters with cover options tend to descend into everyone ignoring it in favour of full on assaults, but everyone seems to be enjoying playing the game as it’s supposed to be.
The usual single and team deathmatches are supported by a mode where your team is stealing a heavy gold idol, which forces the carrier to use a pistol to defend themselves. On the plus side, they can sling the idol to teammates to quicken things up.
No problems with lag and the promise of extra skins, maps and modes from Naughty Dog mean that this will probably be no flash-in-the-pan experience for the online community. Considering the awesomeness of the single-player game, this is one hell of a surprising but most-welcome addition to the series.
The Short Version: It’s not just the visuals, the peerless acting/script and gaming’s most likable hero that have made Uncharted 2 one of the finest adventures you’ll ever have. It’s just so goddamn exciting to play, refusing to side-line you while the cut-scenes step in and do the hard work; it’s you all the way. You’ll dread it having to end.
Dice have done the impossible. The Swedish developers have taken the fist-person perspective game that has barely evolved fundamentally since the days of Wolfenstein and Doom, and injected new life into it with a quite literal leap of faith.
Despite its first-person perspective this is definitely not a shooter. You play as the aptly named Faith, a rooftop Runner, a courier of sorts. Your aim is generally racing across skyscraper rooftops, through underground train tunnels, office blocks, shopping malls and building sites, usually while evading police and security forces and making death defying leaps between buildings, often requiring a last minute grab onto a ledge or drainpipe. If you’ve been waiting for a game that let’s you play out your fantasies of Parkour and free-running as seen in movies like District 13 and Casino Royale, this is the game for you.
Mirror’s Edge has a simple control system that uses the shoulder buttons to jump, roll, slide and attack. Even the all conquering Half Life 2 suffered because of poorly implemented platforming sections, but Mirror’s Edge has proved that jumping and climbing can be done well from the first-person perspective.
The look of the game is all squeaky clean sharp colours and towering glass buildings, which is a big improvement on the dark and dismal settings of most games today. Some parts of the scenery are coloured red, this ‘Runner Vision’ acts as a hint for where Faith can jump or climb. For those of you wanting an extra challenge this can be turned off.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ready at Dawn Studios
God of War: Chains of Olympus is a real slap in the face to other developers trying to wrangle a half-decent looking game out of the PSP. One look at these screens is enough to show that Ready at Dawn have an understanding of the PSP that nobody else is even close to obtaining. On top of that they’ve kept the God of War brand in great condition while Sony Santa Monica press on with God of War III.
This game is a prequel to the original PS2 title where Kratos is still on the Olympian's payroll. The tale begins with Kratos taking on an invading Persian army before the true enemy, Morpheus is revealed. The gods believe Morpheus to be behind the recent disappearance of Helios, the Sun god. If Morpheus is not defeated soon, it may be the end of the gods.
The combat survives the transition to the PSP extremely well. The lack of a second analogue stick means the evasive rolls are now performed by holding the L and R shoulder buttons and tapping the analogue nub. The series has always managed well with using fixed camera angles and on the PSP it makes life especially easier. The only time it becomes an issue is against some of the larger foes that can block your view of Kratos. A quick roll and a flurry of the Blades of Chaos will put him back on the map though.
The rest of the combat with those infamous chained blades is reliably familiar. Gory finishers are in, the best one that springs to mind is climbing up onto the shoulders of a Cyclops and stamping one of your blades into his eye. Jesus. F**king. Christ.