Episode Six: Crysis 3 and Halo 4 Spartan Ops!

Even more Halo news incoming! This time I take a look at the Spartan Ops CG videos which are rammed with those juicy details and extras we all crave! The CG effects on the videos are incredible and you’ll get to see Sarah Palmer amongst others making an appearance, these videos come tied in with the Spartan Ops missions you can find on the Halo 4 disk. They’re also released periodically every week by 343 Industry’s so don’t panic if you don’t have a copy of Halo 4! Crysis 3 is making a big techy return with its mammoth list of requirements to run… Will you be building or upgrading your PC to play this beauty? Maybe you already have? Let me know in the comments box below!

Review: Android: Angry Birds Star Wars

Aaaaaaand they’re back again! Sporting the Star Wars theme this time around those Angry Birds are flocking to our itchy little fingers once again to test our patience with a brand new set of birdy powers that mimic some of the most loved aspects from the Star Wars universe.

The Angry Birds themselves are fashioned in the image of the main characters from the books and films; Chewie, Princess Lea, Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and many more of the characters you’ll know. These characters also have a set of powers and have upgrades too, meaning the game goes that little bit further and is ultimately set-up to be more of a challenge, Which it is. The chapters are set across five locations one of them being a bonus chapter. Tatooine, Death Star, Hoth and Path of the Jedi are the four chapters you’ll play through trying to nail those three star ratings. There’s new elements to consider too like gravitational pulls, moving stages and objects that are placed to create timed throws. These elements all combine to keep this new spacey instalment of Angry Birds as challenging and fun as it could be but you also steadily unlock other powers and super tricky bonus levels which gives it a better life span.

It’s a very testing game once you get stuck on that level that just simply defeats you every time. Angry Birds often requires a good eye for physics and trajectory to get the best out of it and these new level designs will test those aspects even further than before. I’ve invested over five hours into it and that all whizzed by very quickly, it’s a very good game and continues to offer a worthwhile experience again thanks to the Star Wars universe additions.

While playing it, the noises that you get from the birds, pigs and random objects are very amusing and helps create a childlike atmosphere while you play especially if you have ear phones in for whatever reason. These details really sets the game off well as soon as you pick it up, making it one of my favourite additions to the Angry Birds series. You can immerse yourself rather easily into it and there’s 80 force filled levels to get stuck into and challenge your friends on. Rovio Games seems to have their birdy niche perfected once again, so why not get involved? There’s a free version and a HD version for around £1.99 so there’s no arguments just those ones between the you and the those pigs!

Score: 4.5 / 5

Requires Android  2.2 and up

Angry Birds Star Wars Google Play Link

I also recorded a short video about Angry Birds Star Wars on The Frag Mentality YouTube Channel, You can check that out here!

Review: Android: Jetpack Joyride

Looking for a another good time gobbler for tube journeys or the odd 10 minutes of quiet in the office? Jetpack Joyride fits that gap effortlessly with its fast paced rhythm and quirky science theme.

The aim of the game is to get the little fella you see on screen as far as you can by dodging electric type obstacles, highfiving scientists and riding robotic fire breathing dragons!… Yes, you did just read obstacles, scientists and fire breathing dragon in one awesome sentence. You collect coins, pick up spin tokens and jump in some wicked vehicles as you progress, these are used to unlock extra equipment, earn end of level bonus’s and get even more distance for your current run. With this perfect balance of rewards and in game objects to use/interact with Jetpack Joyride gets addictive super quick and will have you investing a good healthy number of runs until you’ve bought some extras with those coins!

As you get through the early stages of this arcade game it opens you up to its collectibles and tactics as you progress, not lose it like some other repetitive games can do on the Android platform. There are better missions and more pricey equipment you actually want further into the game and even some funny zombie costumes and amusing jetpacks to collect. There’s even a set of gadgets to spice things up a little, Gravity Belts can create faster paced game play by enabling you to sink faster after a burst from your jetpack. The vehicles are designed well and fit in with the games design which just adds more freedom to get that little bit further! Gathering distance is the key to cracking your addiction when the game grips you good, you’ll find yourself desperately trying to skid an extra few inches or blast yourself another 300m further using a spin token to beat your previous score. The spin tokens always give you a glint of hope too after you’ve destroyed that poor little guy across the floor again, at the end of your run a slot machine pops up with coin bonuses, utilities and maybe if you’re lucky… A extra life!

The game has such a great mix of features and unlockables it just simply plays great casually and would be a great addition to pick up and down regularly. On the flip side if you do like your challenges, Jetpack Joyride will push and push you just to hit crazy distances. It also just screams complete me to a 100% which many of you out there will love due to its lovely set of equipment, utilities and gadgets.

The fact that Jetpack Joyride is free is just the cherry on top for this speedy little side-scrolled… So give it a go and knock yourself out!

Score: 4.5/5

JetPack Joyride Google Play Link

Review: Xbox 360: Halo 4

So it has landed and with a massive retail entourage in the form of that trusty steed, the Warthog and even the chief himself turning up to impress the eagerly awaiting crowds… But does the game itself pull through and offer anything worth dying for? Let me run through just a couple of its amazing attributes!

Well, 343 Industries, I can safely say, has delivered a fine and solid Halo experience for fans and newcomers to enjoy, and that’s what I really like about Halo. It’s always had its proverbial arms open to the public just like most big hitter titles but Halo sets up this atmosphere of bravery, commitment and community really well in the fourth installment to the main series.

You’re looking at a healthy campaign, not too short, not too overly long or drawn out either. Cinematics which move you due to the new emotion being portrayed through the characters you may or may not know and love, that never mattered as you do really fall in love with the two; Cortana and John. There’s also the new weapons, new vehicles and new enemies as you’d expect but most of all it offers a more intense ride through the Halo universe and brings you to an amazing close you won’t forget… One I cannot give away either! (Over my dead body!). You can co-op in the campaign and up to four players (all play as chief) to take on Halo’s infamous Legendary difficulty where one misplaced tactical move can cost you your little spartan life. Co-op is always great fun really, Halo 4 is no different but the whole four player split-screen in the campaign mode can get a bit hard to focus on, one would propose linking over Xbox Live to be a much better idea.

There are secrets to look for in the campaign, I guess 343 Industry’s picked up on the whole Skull collecting phase from Halo 3 and carried it a little bit further (Try to find all the Terminals, they’ll hold some juicy knowledge!). There’s also the fact that you can add your long (Or short) running spartan career to Halo 4 using the Halo Waypoint feature which also coughs up some extra rewards for Halo fans and users. This will push you to polish off the campaign, it usually does! Then it’s onto the Multilplayer and 343’s new shiny offering in the form of Spartan Ops!

Halo Multiplayer… A place where many of us grew up, fighting each other with Plasma Swords and sticking grenades to each other… Those were the days! And they’re back and packing some interesting additions like the new Perks addition. This pops up in campaign but truly comes optimizable in the multiplayer elements of Halo. They really can liven things up on the battlefield a bit… Spray and pray is right out the window when you deploy a Hologram, tactics are shaken up and brought together because of the perks. I think this is a fifty fifty feature for previous fans, it brings the dimension further forward which creates better combat but not all will agree… Until you find YOUR favourite that is, then you’re laughing!

There are the new Multiplayer modes and some oldies to get stuck right into and you also level up your spartan using the Multiplayer element and the Spartan Ops modes. There’s a pile of armor to unlock which just looks so bad-ass when you equip it, you can colour your spartan too and create a flashy logo for yourself. The customisation is superb this time around and the different sets of armor can give you a little sense of individualism to top it all off with. Overall I really enjoyed the Multiplayer, you can get some crazy set-ups and insane fights… You can also record all of the fun and upload it thanks to the fantastic Theatre feature Halo has built in. Theatre mode lets you upload your favourite spartan fuelled moments to the internet, where you can then share them with internet goers. There’s a ton of great films and screenshots so if you’re browsing… Take a look at someone else’s moment of glory or in fact, failure (Both are just as hilarious as each other!).

Right, Spartan Ops! This is a new element that has been added to the overall Halo experience and has been referred to being a little like CoD’s Special Ops missions. These are paced differently from the other two elements, and it shows. Though this pace isn’t a bad thing, I’m just not sure how to evaluate it apart from it being right smack bang in the middle of the other two elements which brings them together rather well! You get an objective, you then complete said objective… Sounds simple right? Well I’d kick the difficulty up a bit and invite some friends… It goes from quiet small time mission to knees up spartan bash! It really flexes well like that and can fill some gaps if you’re feeling weary of the other players or the campaign itself.

Overall it really is well polished off with the faster mechanics and combat speed along with the crisp new look it’s sporting. It’s energised with new perks and filled with maps, weapons and more than one element to explore multiplayer-wise which was a massive fear of mine and probably to other fans. It offers you everything you’d want plus a couple of surprises and even gives you the option to record your experiences and cut them, giving everyone a chance to share the best moments to go on to make more.

I am a Halo fan, I do favour this installment above the third but not because of the flashy advertising that came before its launch but because it does deliver and it does deliver all of the above well. I just wish the story never had to end… Till next time I guess!

Review: Xbox 360: Binary Domain

I’m going to get right to the point… Binary Domain really does have the crappiest looking box art that I’ve seen for a good while, very generic for a first person shooter. The whole strutting guy thing got old a while back too and I over looked it for that one fact alone. I then however saw a couple of comments on twitter basically saying it was a bit of alright.

I picked a copy up and began to play and realised the controls worked pretty well, the environment was rather impressive and character roster in a cliche way was fun and familiar. Binary Domain revolves around a two sided struggle between humans and A.I. It’s up to you to start pushing back against these metal menaces!

You proceed through various parts of the city taking out various squads of robots to reach objectives and goals to ultimately uncover the fate of humanity. This is simply great fun when you first begin as you can blow various parts off the robots in various ways. There are various characters that accompany you though the game, all having different strengths and styles of combat. The classes don’t create a huge amount of difference and your buddies can be a bit clumsy. They’ll start to dislike you as well if you clip them with fire. A blue bar will appear that indicates whether you’re on their good side or their bad side. If you stay on their good-side characters fight harder or by answering their questions right, they’ll try and be that harder to kill when push comes to shove. This is a feature that runs through the game and often links into button prompted scenes too which gives Binary Domain enough action and pace to carry the slightly predictable story of man vs. machine.

As you progress through the levels you’ll hit the boss. They normally require you to hit certain weak spots and dodge there series of tactical advances. These parts of BD are especially rewarding as you get to hammer the bosses with everything you have in your arsenal and with what’s scattered throughout the area around you. The designs of the bosses look really cool too, you get to see exo- skeletons while you’re ripping parts right off them. They’ll usually go rampant after a few good hits, which ups the pace and will have you ducking and diving. However your ally’s seem to think this is the best time to try spark up a face to face conversation with you, they really aren’t the sharpest bunch when it comes to fighting a giant, armed to the teeth, rampant robot. When you suffer too much damage you’ll hit the dirt and require medical assistance. You and your ally’s can carry medi-packs and can administer them to each other but you will have to shout for help before an allay will heal you on the ground. Your allays can also die, which will end the game. This can become a bit of a drag especially when bosses are concerned, your allays can pretty much end the game for you if you can’t get to them in time.

The best part of Binary Domain is the robots! You’ll take your time picking them apart, watching them crawl across the rubble with their glowing red eyes. The special effects from the sparks to the smoke are well done for such a quiet game, you really will get engrossed in shooting them. A lot of enjoyment is in the detail, having panels blow right off to reveal more underneath is strangely addictive and will draw you in. There are some car chase scenes (which are good) and a couple of spots where you can interact with the figures around you… But that’s it! The game would have benefited greatly from more additions like these and maybe a couple of other idea, it’s just such a shame that there isn’t necessarily anything worth going back for

You can upgrade your weapon and your ally’s but not much else after that. It lack in the upgrade department but does offer a nano booster feature where you can add several ability boosting nano chips within a 6/2 grid. Sadly the game does lack badly in some areas, leaving parts of the game too thin or bare which is a total shame as I think the game would have benefited hugely from some mini-games or a more interactive areas in the game.

The story isn’t too bad and not too badly told either, it even holds a little bit of romance too! The characters expressions do portray the urgency of some of the scenes rather well and the character designs make them come across like a right rough rabble… I just can’t completely escape the repetitiveness and the game gets too thin too quickly in places and shows that it’s in need of more detail to fill it out.

Binary Domain is a good game and has potential but lacks the diversity other bigger more expensive titles have right now, however if you like your robots and you like your action don’t walk past it next time in store. Maybe take a look at the back of the box!

Review: Android: Devil Ninja

Run and jump over cliffs and obstacles as you slice your way through levels of monsters with an awesome array of ninja weaponry in Driod Studios action game Devil Ninja!

Devil Ninja is definitely an addictive little time gobbler and is also quite the challenge to complete. The main goal of the game is to destroy as many enemies in front of you as possible while missing the various hurdles and trying to get as far as you can into the level without dying. Your character runs through the level automatically so it’s a speedy game to play and along with the weapon pickups means the game gathers a good pace and rhythm which will have you coming back to beat your previous score.

It’s a hard game to master and complete but the controls are easy enough to pick up on. There’s a virtual jump button and a virtual attack button, nothing else as your character runs under his own steam through this demon infested world anyway. You can double jump which has to be timed right or you’ll end up off over a cliff or smack bang in front of an enemy, you can also hold down the attack button for a more powerful attack. You can pick up snippets of life and more powerful weapons along the way to the occasional end of level boss fight too.

Devil Ninja’s Leaderboards are also very hard to get your name up onto, some of the scores already posted are very impressive. After around twenty minutes of play Devil Ninja will have drawn you into its side-scrolling ways and you’ll have learnt to give it some time to get better at but once you’ve gotten over the initial level of difficulty you’ll enjoy it simply for what it is, and that’s a solid and challenging side-scrolling action game.

Score: 3 / 5

Devil Ninja Google Play Link

Devil Ninja Trailer

There’s also now a sequel to Devil Ninja, Devil Ninja 2! (Requires 2.0 and up)

Devil Ninja 2 Google Play Link

Devil Ninja 2 Trailer

Review: Xbox 360: Forza 4

Think about all of those 8,460 bolts it takes to make just one car run on the road and then think about a racing simulator that could reflect that exact engineering vision but with crisp and easy to navigate menus. Take an options system that’s capable of filtering difficulties for maximum accessibility include the considerable growth from a widespread community and merge them all together. You have the world of Forza 4.

Forza 4’s instantly crisp impressions touch the vehicles too and will have your engine roaring for a good long dose of racing simulation action. The edges of vehicles look slightly smoother compared to F3 but keep those recognisable details and features which always finished off Forza’s cars making them look so damn good! The most exotic vehicles drive even more beautifully and you can take them onto some of the most famous (and infamous) roads you can imagine experiencing. Forza offers this and more to its gamers as its smart and smooth layout takes you right into this world of speed and beauty without any hiccups.

Forza 4 begins with a proper petrol head intro with Jeremy Clarkson providing the voice over for gritty clips of some beautiful cars belting it round multiple tracks It then shows you the power Forza has when it brings a sparkly new virtual Ferrari up close to the screen for you to get a bit steamy over. Soon after that you’ll get your first chance to experience that smooth feel to the driving with a quick lap round a circuit before you choose your first vehicle and get stuck into the majority of the game. When you first stick your foot down you can feel the grip of the tires as they grab the track, you can really feel this coming through into your hands. Then there’s the entourage of sounds that accompany you round the track, the revving engine tones and collisions being particularly enjoyable. Forza’s soundtrack isn’t too outrageous either, which leaves more of these sounds to be picked up during game play and when all of these little delights come together you have one of Forza’s characteristics, and that’s outstanding quality as standard.

Forza has always had a great talent for showcasing its in-game vehicles (it even has its own showcase mode in AutoVista) and when you pick your first car you’ll notice this attention to detail and the amazing lighting effects that go with them. When you start World Tour mode the vehicles for the first races are already optimised – you can learn about that later in the game. You’ll start with the lower tier cars and work your way up either buying them from dealers with hard earned cash or with Microsoft Points, you can also earn them as rewards for completing certain requirements through-out the game. Forza’s lighting effects can make even the smallest hatchback look like a Mini Cooper, even watching your opponents pass you is actually enjoyable. The lower tier cars are good fun to practice with but they’re a little tail happy and will flick and spin if you push way too hard round corners. There’s an option to tinker with the difficulty so you can hammer the brakes and corners if you wish but when you add these aids they will cost you experience and credits as punishment for your shortcomings.

In World Tour mode you’ll start in a division and within that divisions they are a certain amount of races to complete to get to the next set of races. This is all World Tour mode essentially is but you have a huge amount of tracks, vehicles and objectives to complete within it and it’s a great way of earning extra cars and other such goodies quickly. World Tour mode is Forza’s base, its foundations, and from this point you’ll get lost in Forza for a good few hours as it can quickly become a deceptively captivating experience. Forza has a great selection of vehicles to compliment all of its circuits too, there’s over 500 vehicles from manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota, Ferrari and more. It does lack some more serious exotic cars, with Porche is conspicuous by its absence, but Forza has more than enough to compensate.

You can paint, tune and generally tinker with you purchased vehicles in the Cars menu, these features help keep you looking like a boss on the track and help you create a near perfect racing balance and load-out for your four-wheeled friend. If you like to fiddle around under the bonnet or want to take your vehicle into another higher (or lower) tier you can upgrade the parts and change the performance of the vehicle in this menu tab. You can adjust the tyre pressure, gear ratios, wheel alignment and more while there are lots of parts and manufacturers for the more advanced drivers to get choosy over. You can even change the colour of your rims too or even tint your windows! There is an instant option for gamers who find this a little unsatisfying or too difficult with the A.I. building you a better set-up depending on what tier you want. Forza offers you some cool stuff to mess about with in-between races and you can and up with some amazing results if you go all out on your chosen vehicle!

To unlock extra items you’ll have to get winning races and improve your driver level and your current chosen manufacturers affinity level. You improve these levels by racing on a higher difficulty, not using the rewind system which makes a return from Forza 3, and taking no damage to gain extra credits. This experience system will unlock most of what you need or want during your game time and gives you something else to aim for while your collecting your cars and defeating every racer who fancies trying it on. If you want to capture and relive these moments when you overcome your rivals you can save your replays at the end of the race and then view them at your own leisure – maybe even take a nice photo to show your mum. For online gamers you can upload your favourite photos or replays to the Storefront.

The circuit list is impressive with many recognisable names surfacing and as always the Nürburgring circuit steps-up to offer some of the best driving to be had in the game. World Tour mode’s different classes make certain tracks a pleasure to drive every time and can be used to create some ferocious competition online as well. Forza’s Xbox live features means your times can be uploaded to the leaderboards and you can receive recommendations in the Message Centre menu. These recommendations offer you a specific challenge where you’ll need to beat your friends or online rivals times for certain locked rewards.

When navigating anything Forza 4 always keeps you informed; sets of information like Circuit locations and reward types appear neatly on your screen, organised in rows, sometimes within boxes helping to give Forza 4 a more laid back appearance. It is much easier to navigate the menus this time around and is kinder on the eyes; no blinding white menu just cool gray shades with a crisp linear design.

There’s a healthy selection of race types to choose from online or off which gives most players a chance to win or improve their driver level. Challenge Events consist of events like World Championships and Autocross events; World Championships will require you to compete through a whole day of gritty racing in two heats. There’s the Multi-Class races where two different classes of vehicle are placed on the track together but with a distinct margin between them, a race type which makes a return from the previous title. Finally there’s the Top Gear Bowling Events which frankly strike me as being a little half arsed at best. These events provide a small challenge if you want to spar it out and beat your friends’ times.

Event list mode and Rivals mode are available just underneath the World Tour mode and smartly round up all of the available events and records for you to view in a easy to use system where you can explore other information and driving aspects. Events lists lets you browse all of the races easily in a neat grid organised by class and race conditions; you can also select races here to complete separately from World Tour mode so gamers have a quicker way to get into the action with all experience and rewards still given.

AutoVista isn’t incredibly useful but a nice feature to have anyway. With AutoVista you can explore every inch of your chosen vehicle and interact with various parts too, you can move around it and open doors to climb inside. When you get inside the vehicle you’ll be able to see the great amounts of detail Turn 10 have added to the cars, you can also see this detailing when you’re driving in the cockpit view which adds a touch more class to Forza 4. The attention to detail is staggering as Forza seems to improve on this every time, with the developers adding little touches to bring the series up to speed without destroying the structure within the Forza series.

Forza 4’s online world always seems to have something going on within its walls and the multiplayer lay-out is similar to World Tour with the section tabs being laid out down the left side. Amongst other things here, you can read the news – do it every day and you’ll receive a free complimentary random credit bonus from Turn 10. Races are normally set up without any problems and you’d be surprised at the quality of sportsmanship found in the Forza community (do watch out for the odd hot head though) and you can create a car club if you want to get involved further. If you are the founder of the club you have control over who gets into your club, who’s in charge when you’re gone and create the clubs identity, this can provide groups or clans with an ideal set up to create rivalry online with other clubs. There are online Leaderboards to climb as well as an Auction House where you can bid on cars or sell a few of yours. Forza 4’s online hub caters to a lot of people and does a great job structuring its game for its community. Storefront

Forza 4 is a pretty impressive game all round as it can offer so much for so little effort but if its not appreciated for what it is (a damn good driving simulator) it will leave you behind and lose your attention. However if you look past its slightly cold exterior Forza can offer you streams of activity thanks to its excellent Xbox Live integrated features, all of which work superbly well. I’m starting to wonder if the Forza series will ever truly have a bad title, it wont falter on the technical side of itself anytime soon and will be around for a while yet.

Review: Xbox 360: Need For Speed The Run

150mph down a busy highway, police on one side of you and your rivals on the other, Need For Speed The Run takes its chances on the open road but this racing title uses the Frostbite 2 engine; the engine known for its amazing ability to create human looking humans (I know, human looking humans?). This isn’t normally grounds for criticism but it’s the fact that Black Box have made such a big deal out of the Frostbite engine as a selling point while not using it to its full potential that’s makes it an issue in this racing title. NFS Shift and Hot Pursuit both made good ground with their different directions and were well received by fans and critics alike, which makes the direction Black Box have chosen for The Run a little puzzling.

The Run is structured around a story, an almost transparent story which sets you on a path to play through stages which eventually get you to Las Vegas; a coast to coast dash but in sections. This limits the games one player mode dramatically compared to the previous NFS brethren even though TR has a shiny new engine and a longer development time. However there are still some neat online features to be had, not all have been replaced and there’s the array of cars and unlockables to acquire which the NFS titles usually come up trumps with.

You begin with a rather empty cut-scene where Jack Rourke the protagonist is waking up in a sporty looking number with a few cuts and bruises and is about to picked up by a crane by some unidentified evil men and, well, crushed, Mafia style. Most characters in NFS:TR have some really good textural effects on their skin, and other human details like hair are cleanly displayed without any difficulty. Unfortunately the story only delivers instant disappointment as dialogue is poor and characters seem wooden, thus the interesting idea of creating an overall direction to the experience through a coherent and semi-interactive story is whittled away. This inconvenient story structure also brings some dull and irritating button prompts into the mix, very dull and irritating button prompts in fact, that try and act as filler for Jacks transparent tale of “’urban’ male down on his luck forced to fall back on his sociopathic tendencies to rescue himself from an unfortunate predicament” or rather; “criminal freeing himself from crime with crime”.

You’ll begin you first taste of driving in TR when you scramble into an Audi while some evil bozos are chasing you, instantly you’ll pick up the feel for your car which isn’t great, it has far too much drift. The vehicles don’t seem to have a good weight to them which alters how well your vehicle moves around corners and traffic (or doesn’t) and spinning out (if you haven’t compensated) will occur in the most inappropriate instances if you slightly misjudge a corner or traffic. A more exciting aspect of racing in TR is when your opponents or the police start to get heavy with you, it starts to give you something you expect, driver brutality. The race lines through the courses are built around this aspect and you’ll end up flying through barriers, hitting flimsy objects into the air, trying to avoid a big pile of explosives on trucks; TR does offer some small fork in the road type challenges within your actual objective. After you’ve been introduced to the controls, physics and general layout through this brief initial race, you will meet an old friend of yours, Sam Harper and she’ll get you to pick your first car.

Initially you can choose from five vehicles, two more can be unlocked if you have the limited edition copy of the game. You have most of the big manufactures to choose from, BMW, Nissan and Ford are just a few of them. All the cars you choose form here are classed at tier 4, in other modes you can choose lower tiered cars but for now it’s just this tier and you can check other specs like Drivetrain, handling and performance when and as you view them. You get the three standard view points to choose from when you’re out on the road, dashboard, bonnet and behind car view, the exterior view point is the only usable one as the handling is rubbish and causes too much swinging for an inside view, unless you like feeling nauseous that is.

As you get into the game you will familiarise yourself with the games experience system to level up while racing and unlock some cool extras like Nitrous, Cop Eliminator and many others. Also you’ll get to grips with NFS Autolog feature which takes your best times and posts them online so friends can have a good crack at them. Autolog will also inform you when your friends beat course times and will grant you rewards for slapping a time back at them, this is one feature that offers gamers simple enjoyment as it ties in well with the online capabilities of the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles. When you put these features together you get the basic experience and reward structure of TR which isn’t that bad or good, it just doesn’t move on from these features to open up bigger and better ones, it just adds and adds items and unlocks to your seemingly eternal battle to reach Las Vegas. This makes some middle sections of the game very blurry and uncharacteristic, which isn’t what we’ve been shown from the past titles. NFS titles are normally filled with mad scenarios, awesome sound quality and plenty of driver brutality but it’s hard to find those qualities in TR which is a shame as the promise of a good story to place yourself into was a big draw when it was first announced.

The productivity of the roads and environments you are placed in and around vary as you proceed from urban streets to rural settings. The weather will change occasionally too, creating an environmental type challenge alongside your current one and some of the more rural courses are much better at creating fun and challenging situations and look pretty good too; they get that blood pumping as you miss falling boulders and heaps of traffic by just a nip. There’s crazy jumps to bound over, they’re normally hidden in and around short cuts and there’s a small amount of off road tom-foolery to be had too. There’s one quality TR has down to a T and that’s its sound effects; crashes, traffic and tire squeals all sound sublime and create a nice bite to your best crashes and accidents. Some accidents however can put you out the action for good, there is a rewind feature that doesn’t so much rewind time but resets you to the last checkpoint you passed and half the time you end up behind the A.I you’ve already beaten. Frustrating indeed.

If you need a break from the continuous prologue there’s a couple more sections of the game which open up TR that little bit more, one of those sections is the Challenge Series section which basically involves you earning medals on certain courses. There’s quite a few to get through and they have a range of different restrictions on them too, you’ll work your way down the list of challenges unlocking them as you go and try to earn the most experience so you can to nab all those platinum medals and get your gloat on. Overall it’s a nice time filler but it isn’t mind blowing either, however the Autolog feature does try and keep it fresh by offering you challenges and rewards.

If your looking for a more human challenge TR does offer a healthy multiplayer option to gamers but offers no private lobby feature or slit-screen mode, which limits the games brotential on the sofa. You start by selecting a playlist; playlists contain several unique race sessions of three-five races each and can earn you extra rewards. Playlists can offer a distinct experience as they mix up different locations with vehicle types and performance tiers, here you get the change to mess around with other tiers of cars but with the less powerful ones come some handling issues which ultimately brings the fun down a notch. As always with online modes there are a couple of things to watch out for; disconnecting from the EA servers happens from time to time but not enough to ruin the game online. You can also choose races which promote more sportsmanlike racing for those who like a clean fight and but there’s the Mixed Competition mode for the masochists.

Need For Speed The Run doesn’t even get off to a good running start, it stalls terribly. It does try and make an effort here and there but ultimately the design prevents the title from achieving the things it set out to do and what you’re expecting from the series.

Score: 6/10

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Black Box

Review: Xbox 360: Goldeneye Reloaded

Remember the days when all you needed to do to simply enjoy a game was to either take your pad round a friends house or invite them all over to your gaff? Not that GR needs the nostalgia to help you revisit those times as it builds upon the previous N64 performance by illuminating, evolving and re-animating certain previous elements with a smart 3D infrastructure to the level design.

This ultimately enables the gamer to receive the best experience possible whatever the difficulty, mode or level of skill the gamer has; and it’s because of the carefully implemented tweaks that give Goldeneye a layer of modern polish. These changes have been implemented with obvious love and care which ensures the original action and stealth elements of the beloved Goldeneye are intact throughout the remake but with the added features that you normally associate with the more modern consoles. This brings heaps more of the game-play you love and would normally associate with the N64 classic.

The story isn’t anything special in itself but it helps create the right environments to utilise all of Bonds tasty skills and equipment, there are also slight changes to the character line-up but this doesn’t effect the actual balance of the game. You’ll start off with a little dab of training in a small MI6 training room and if you’ve played the Wii or N64 version(s) you will instantly recognise certain areas and reflect what changes you can see through the previous versions. The control scheme isn’t anything out of this world, most of the commands you will already associate with FPS’s and the new gadgets can be used with the d-pad, this allows even newcomers to create a little bit of pace and fluidity to their in-game combat ability. The only control issue I can see gamers having misgivings with is the rather abrupt and odd button prompt scenes, which create a slight pot-hole effect in the games pace.

You can ultimately play the campaign in two ways, either using the stealth ability of several foam-wrapped mute ninjas to take out unsuspecting evil henchmen or run in like Rambo and watch the mayhem unfold. Both are perfectly viable options to enjoy either way and both bring you a different view and vibe on the campaign, even when you replay levels multiple times. The campaign also has some fitting action orientated cut-scenes which takes you further into the game and keeps the story intact, no plot-holes or seemingly thinly stretched cut-scenes here just added benefits to an already solid experience. The A.I isn’t that dimwitted either even on the easiest difficulty, you can be creeping away and get spotted if you are too brazen, they also dive behind cover and have other oddities to their behaviour to make them that little bit harder to nail in the head.

A welcome addition to the games campaign is the action-packed but sadly brief vehicle sections, these tie-in with parts of the previous version but improve upon and open up some impressive sequences instead. The Tank especially is hordes of fun and incredibly easy to control, you’ll be rolling along firing at buildings to scatter men on foot and then lock-on to some airborne targets as you chase Ourumov through the streets of St. Petersburg. The array of weapons you have access to straight away is a delight, you’re normally made to skimp on ammo or keep your favourite weapons till you need them, thankfully not for Bond though. There is a small amount of collectables in the campaign, not many at all in fact, but the replay value is found when changing the difficulty as this affects your health, objectives and certain features are removed to create an uber hard test for you and Bond to get through. The campaign is about 10 hours of play altogether, throw in the other difficulties plus collectables and at best your looking at 10-15 hours play, however as this is a remake, Bond has a few more tricks up his sleeve thanks to the MI6 mission mode and the return of the mouth-watering multi-player mode.

MI6 Missions basically require you to do one of three things: Elimination, Defence or Stealth your way through the challenge maps. You are scored on many aspects, though it’s mostly speed and you can change several options and stats before you start your challenge, if you change the amount of health you get or the aggressiveness of the A.I in the option menu it changes the overall difficulty rating bonus you will receive at the end of the challenge. There are some bizarre Mission Modifiers to activate if you wish like; Paintball mode, Golden gun and Ragdoll mode which can spice things up on the battlefield… just a little! They are several maps to complete and these add a miniature sense of accomplishment whether completed on some silly hard difficulty or not; this is all user friendly and changeable. The optimisation of the customisation elements of Goldeneye helps accommodate lots of different ranges and levels of skill gamers have and can satisfy even the oddest or most hardcore appetites, also maps are designed so you can get into different positions and utilise certain weapons to complete the mission quicker.

Goldeneye offers up an impressive multi-player selection, the next selection being the split screen mode. You and three others are able to play on 14 maps, with 6 game modes and a staggering 56 characters (including favourites from the bond series) to choose from. Having a four way with Blofeld, Scaramanga and Oddjob is extremely funny, especially if you’re familiar with the characters or the actual bond movies and this wide range of guns, modes, characters and maps creates a Pandora’s box of funnies. Some of these modes are quite creative, modes like ‘You only live twice’ are fun and challenging; as to win you’ll need to be the last gamer standing after everyone has lost their lives and can’t respawn. Eventually, if you’ve had enough of ruining your mates day in your own home you can always take a trip to multi-player land where the boisterous mayhem hits its critical point and you can ruin people’s day online instead.

Multi-player mode as a whole is solid, it gives you a good range of maps and weapon load-outs and the experience system helps keep your attention on getting as many kills as possible in matches. The best way to describe the game-play at times is to compare it to Counter Strike, when everyone is running round with shotguns or smaller more powerful weapons things can get very fast paced. Online games can also start at the other end of the scale on more evasive maps with multiple objects or buildings that create cover, players pick there other long range load-outs and other players take the lead on the scoreboard. When you create your first weapon load-out, you will find some gadget slots that remind you of the perks feature from the COD series. These work really well with a smaller more compact multi-player mode, the differences are more noticeable and can help gamers easily create a better fitting class that can kick-ass. You have 3 gadget slots altogether, one is for proximity, timed or remote mines along with grenades if you wish, proximity mines are especially crafty which makes them a must for gamers that like to be creative. Gadget slots 2 and 3 are for your character and weapon perks, Fast-Forward; increased speed or Snap-Shot; improves accuracy and you have a acceptable amount to switch between. You can get a lot of good game-play from the multi-player side and you can team up with friends too which makes Goldeneye’s multi-player experience an all round brilliant one. The only slight issue is with the amount of players online; you might have trouble filling rooms for Escalation and any modes that differ from Team Death match and One v all.

Goldeneye Reloaded is totally packed with the stuff you really want, it’s filled with the improvements gamers maybe wanted when it was first available on the N64 but had no way of ultimately picturing this dream. Though we, as gamers are used to being spoilt these days with hogs of extras and DLC to comprehend buying, Goldeneye Reloaded takes all of these previous after thoughts, issues and evolution that is achievable and incorporates it into the original design but with vastly improved level design and pace. This is definitely a title to pick up for good if you and your friends are looking for a solid remake of the N64 classic, re imagined by modern minds for current technology.

Score: 7.5/10

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Eurocom Entertainment Software