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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
Overview
The second outing of this batman and it’s still good. Arkham Asylum has been closed down since the first game, and in its place is an entire prison city, filled with treachery, secrets and lots of Batman’s well known villains.

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
The World
You spend your entire time within Arkham City, a sandbox cityscape where it always seems to be night. The city itself, as you would expect of Gotham, is dark and festooned with Gargoyles and decrepit buildings. In a lot of ways it is comparable to Prototype, but the atmosphere is created very well in Arkham City. There are a number of interior environments as well, and these also have the dark and collapsing feel about them, that surely comes from years of neglect and then a large number of convicts and psychopaths moving in!

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
Combat
The combat is very fluid, similar to the first game but they have smoothed it out a little. Batman darts across the battlefield, quickfiring gadgets in the middle of combat of which he has many. I still often find the combat very hard to master, as it will often require a high level of dexterity, concentration and knowledge of all his available moves to get the really high combo’s you need (particularly for the Riddler Combat Challenges).

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
Enemies
Everyone knows a few of Batman’s enemies and the most famous can be found in Arkham City. Here you will find the Joker, Harley Quin, Ra’s al Ghul, the Riddler, the Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze, as well as the Mad Hatter, Zsasz, Deadshot, Hush and a Mysterious Stranger, the last two of which seem to be earmarked for the next game. All of these villains are very well brought to life and you get a real feel for the characters, and of course the shear amount of them is extremely gratifying.

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
New Game+ and Riddler Trophies
New Game+ is Arkham City’s hard mode, and interestingly it is carried out separately from the normal game, so you can play through to different points on both games. New Game+ is indeed harder, but being used to the environment, combat and storyline I didn’t find it too hard. It also helps that you start with all the unlocked gadgets and special moves from your first playthrough.

The other thing that is carried across both games is the Riddler trophies you have found, hundreds of little green trophies hidden across Arkham City by the Riddler, each one almost always requiring certain gadgets or acrobat skills to reach them. Batman would of course not care normally, but the Riddler has captured hostages and will only reveal their locations when you find a certain amount of the trophies.

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
DLC, Catwoman and Riddler Challenges
Yes there is even more. With the Catwoman DLC you receive an extra four missions for Catwoman. These are quite fun to do, but her poor gadgets and inability to fly will have you waiting for Batman to come back, although she does have some cool predator moves and can climb on the ceiling.

Harley Quin’s Revenge is the main DLC, continuing on from the main story.  It’s not particularly long but you get to play as Robin, again with his own particularly gadgets and fighting moves. It’s a nice little addition to polish off the story but it won’t keep you busy for long.

The Riddler Challenges are extensive and they comprise Combat Challenges, Predator Challenges and a three of them combined. The Predator Challenges involve silently taking down a number of enemies in a room, with three awards for completing sub-objections and I thoroughly enjoy them. The Combat Challenges involved four rounds of combat with awards for hitting certain point values, I find these much harder, as to get the scores you really need to complete the round in a single combo without being hit, something that is quite difficult to achieve. This in turn makes the campaigns combining them harder as well, tricky indeed.

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Image taken from http://batman.wikia.com
Conclusion
This is a very good game; the characters, villains and plot are all pretty good. The gadgets are fun to use and the sandbox world is atmospheric and fun to try and seek out all the Riddler Trophies. There is so much to do and complete in this game that it will be quite a time sink, particularly if you plan to master the combat. Definitely one to buy.

 
 
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Image taken from http://cdn0.spong.com
Overview
One of the main Lego games out there now, but still managing to have its own individuality. This follows the basic structure of the four films of the same name.

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Image taken from http://legopiratesthevideogame.wikia.com
The world
Following the films there are a number of different settings, but they are mainly Caribbean islands, on board ships and in underground caves and secret caverns.

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Image taken from http://legopiratesthevideogame.wikia.com
Combat & Enemies
The usual standard of combat in Lego games, with some characters having a few special moves, such as the captains. Sometimes there are particularly tricky fights or boss fights in the Lego games, but this doesn’t feature those, apart from fighting the Kraken, which understandably takes a lot of killing.

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Image taken from http://legopiratesthevideogame.wikia.com
New Features
As usual you will often smash up some Lego bricks to rebuild them into a useful item, however in this game there are red hot bricks that only characters with the blacksmiths hammer can use. Blackbeard’s sword is also required to get everything from the free play, sending out red lightning that is used on black and red things to cause a variety of effects, similar to the dark side used in Lego Star Wars.

The other new addition is Jack Sparrow’s compass, which is used in each level to find 8 items, some of which are useful or needed for the level, others being completely pointless like masks or frogs. You select the item you are looking for on a scroll wheel and follow footprints on the floor to find the item, each item needing to be found to 100% the level.

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Image taken from http://pirates.wikia.com
Comedy and Faithful to the Films
The Lego games are often enjoyable to play thanks to the humour that is created in the cut scenes. Although there is the odd moment, this Lego game hasn’t quite hit the right levels of funny. It does follow the films quite well, and I think maybe getting the plot across without speaking had become more important than the humour.

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Image taken from http://legopiratesthevideogame.wikia.com
Conclusion
A good staple Lego game, fun to play and the little quirks do make it different from the other Lego games. Although you would probably enjoy it the more you like the Pirates of the Caribbean films, there are better Lego games out there.

 
 
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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
Overview
The latest bioshock game doesn’t disappoint, but it seems to have little to do with the previous two Bioshocks.  “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt” is your objective in this game, trying to rescue Elizabeth from the tyrannical Father Comstock, with plenty of twists and turns on the way.

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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
The World
In short, the world is beautiful. It is set in a floating city (powered by quantum hehe) with plenty of Zeppelins, floating shops and building and sky rails. There is plenty of different scenery, towering statues and wide vistas as well as lots of interior and exterior building environments. The only real downside is that, despite doubling back on yourself a few times, the game is very linear so despite the massive openness of it all it’s actually quite limiting on where you can go. That all ties in with the plot of the game though, so maybe that slight feeling of being tricked and trapped was intentional.

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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
Combat
Again Bioshock: Infinite delivers here, with a plethora of weaponry and “Vigours” (Infinite’s version of plasmids). There are environmental hazards to exploit as well as various Vigour combinations such as possessing enemies so they fight for you and then electrifying them so they stun nearby enemies.

 As in the other Bioshocks you have a constant melee weapon, this being the sky hook which you can use to smack and execute enemies as well as utilise the sky rails to speed around the combat zones, both to flee and to attack enemies. 

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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
Elizabeth and Tears
A big part of Infinite is the fact that you are accompanied by Elizabeth. Unlike some other useless partners (as in Resident Evil 5), Elizabeth is incredibly useful. When you are running low on ammo or salts (used to power the Vigours) she will throw you some. Later in the game she becomes even more useful, being able to create tears in reality, bringing through allied gun turrets, cover and allied motorised patriots and even tesla coils! I think this definitely gives you more of a connection with her and so draws you into the plot more.

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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
Enemies
Bioshock has always been famous for its Big Daddies. Infinite tries to reach the same heights with the Handymen (massive guys with exposed hearts) and Mechanical Patriots (robots with gattling guns).  Although they are good neither of them come close to the Big Daddies, the Handymen are good but you see about 3 throughout the entire game, and the Mechanical Patriots are pretty cool, but being totally automated you can’t really connect or care about them.

Finally there is the Songbird, which does have a similar relationship to Elizabeth as the Big Daddies of Bioshock, but like the Handymen it just does appear enough to really satisfy, instead popping up when unexpected like the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3.


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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
1999 Mode
A big selling point prior to release, 1999 mode was supposed to be the very hard mode requiring “a careful choice of upgrades and making every bullet count”. It was quite a disappointment in this front. It was mildly harder, but nothing compared to Veteran on COD or Insane on Gears. The objective arrow was removed, but having only used this once in the game I didn’t really miss this.

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Image taken from http://bioshock.wikia.com
Conclusion
Overall an amazing game, the combat, world and plot were all top notch, with the best ending I’ve ever seen (in my opinion of course). The enemies, although awesome, weren’t quite to the level of Bioshock but still good and the Vigours were fun to use. A nice variety of weapons but it was a little frustrating to only be able to carry two guns at a time, and when upgraded there was no visual difference to the guns, unlike the awesome steampunk alterations from the earlier games. 1999 mode was also a bit of a disappointment, as I was looking forward to a true challenge, but I can’t be too annoyed that it wasn’t difficult enough for me. As I said, overall one of the best games out there.

 

Brink

05/11/2013

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Picture
Image taken from www.wikipedia.com
Overview
Brink is a simple game with a massive amount of build up around it. It is supposed to be about two factions fighting over the last stronghold of the human race in a dystopic future. In reality it is basically Team Fortress with backstory.

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Image taken from http://Brink.wikia.com
The World
Each map is different, they aren’t particularly well rendered or pretty, but they do often offer a number of flanking routes and so on. There are two different styles of map however, those of the ordered Security forces and those of the ramshackle Resistance.

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Image taken from http://brink.wikia.com
Combat & Enemies
Very basic class based combat, some cool character abilities but the weapons themselves, although there are a lot of them, they do not vary much and even with customisation you will generally find two weapons you like and use them for the entire game.

The enemies are exactly the same as your team, with the same class options and abilities in a different uniform.

Customisation and Cutscenes
The main part where this game shines is the character customisation. There is an enormous amount of different clothes, hair and other apparel that you gradually unlock as you level up and as you play as both factions throughout the game you have in effect two people to fully customise.

The cutscenes are also worth noting. There are game level cutscenes before each mission, but separate from that are some larger cutscenes. These give the deep detail about the world, the two factions and they are really well done, quite out of place with the rest of the game.

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Image taken from http://brink.wikia.com
Conclusion
Brink looks really good, as you can probably tell from the pictures above. But as the addage goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. On the outside, Brink has a great plot, with lots of input into your character. It promises so much however once you get past that, Brink doesn't deliver. The fighting is predictable and doesn't stand out from the many other FPS games out there.
 

Portal 2

05/11/2013

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Image taken from http://sectorw.wikia.com
Overview
It’s more of the same Portal goodness. You use a Portal gun to create portals (shocking) and those are used in turn to solve puzzles.  In this review I will assume you have played the first Portal game, beacuse everyone should have played it!

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Image taken from http://sectorw.wikia.com
The World
Since the demise of GLaDoS in the first game, the testing centre has fallen apart a bit, so the environments alternate between the pristine testing centres to decrepit falling apart ones, with the occasional foray into the sub-structure. Plants have also started reclaiming the land and provide some colour to the white, grey and brown world. You also visit an extremely old part of the testing centre so are provided with some 20s nostalgia there.

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Image taken from www.facebook.com
Combat & Enemies
There is no true combat in portal, the closest thing to it would be avoiding the gun turrets which you do by utilising portals to drop them, knock them over or make them shoot each other. They still have the creepy voices so cool from the first game. Without spoilers all I would mention is that you meet a guide robot, voiced by Stephen Merchant who does a wonderful job of combining madness and humour.

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Image taken from http://sectionw.wikia.com
Puzzles and New Elements
The puzzles are on the whole fairly easy to grasp although there are a few tricky ones. Where it gets hardest is in the sub-structure where you aren’t entirely sure where you need to go. This is made tricker with one of the new elements, fluid which you transport through portals to make surfaces slipslide-like, or trampoline like or even able to support portals.

Another two new elements are a hard light bridge and an Excursion Funnel (like a two way tractor beam) both of which you can again pass through portals, and it is used for a multitude of purposes. Most obviously for getting from one place to another but also to get to wherever the bridge started or for blocking laser beams or gun turret fire.

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Image taken from http://sectorw.wikia.com
Co-Op
A big additional to Portal 2 is the co-op mode, almost as long as the single player. There are plenty of puzzles to get through here and the fact that you now can have a total of four portals (two from each player) allows a much greater scope for complexity. Of course you have the both of you to try and work out the solution to the puzzle and you’ll find you need it.

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Image taken from http://sectorw.wikia.com
Conclusion
It would be hard to top the first Portal and although good, this game doesn’t quite get there. There are new mechanics, Stephen Merchant is really good in his role and the co-op campaign is great fun, but Portal one was one of the best games ever and Portal 2, although a good and worthwhile game, is still firmly in its shadow.

 
 
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Image taken from http://prototype.wikia.com
Overview
Prototype is an interesting sandbox game. It is set in New York and there has been a massive viral outbreak with the streets full of monsters and zombies. You play Alex Mercer and you are an infected as well. The difference being you have loads of badass powers like being able to glide through the air and being able to take on the form of any person you assimilate.

The World
As stated, the game is set in New York so there are pretty much only two different landscapes, cityscape and buildings and central park in the middle of the map. What makes it varied are the infected city blocks, surrounded by monsters, and army bases full of troops, AA guns, tanks and helicopters. It’s not an amazing landscape but you will need to explore all its nooks and crannies to find the large amount of collectables everywhere. You’ll also spend a lot of time running up the side of buildings and leaping into the air.

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Image taken from http://prototype.wikia.com
Combat
Although there is a lock aim system, fighting is often very chaotic and you can sometimes get lost in what you are doing. You can use machine guns but I didn’t really touch them, instead using the array of destructive forces at Alex’s command, such as having big blocks of stone for fists or a long tentacle arm. You are also often required to hijack helicopters or tanks, which are fun to use as well, and as helicopters travel quickly they were my preferred method of transportation. I got into quite a few fun dogfights with other helicopters, and when your chopper is too damaged you can just jump out and hijack a new one!

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Image taken from http://prototype.wikia.com
Infiltration and the Web of Intrigue
Alex has no idea what is going on, he has lost his memory and to help him get it back you can consume other specific people for their memories. This is also how you gain skills such as how to drive the vehicles in the game. This is often done by infiltration into one of the generic army bases and assimilating various base commanders.

The web of knowledge is a web constructed from the knowledge you have gained by consuming important individuals and you can only find these people once you have consumed the previous link in the chain. You don’t need to do it to complete the game but it does provide you with a deeper knowledge of the plot and Mercer’s history.

Conclusion
Prototype is a fun sandbox game, flying around the map and indiscriminately slaughtering monsters, army and even civilians alike, eating people to restore your health. There isn’t that much depth to it, but there are lots of side missions and collectable to find. It’s not going to be your new favourite game and the plot isn’t going to blow your mind, but is a nice little game to go back to every once in a while.