Tagged "Binary Domain"

Mar 28
By Matt Gander In Features 1 Comment

If you’re remaining loyal to your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for a while longer yet, you may be looking for something “new” to play. If that’s not the case now, then it may be in the not too distant future – a quick look at April’s release schedule reveals that there’s very little out.

We’ve taken this fleeting chance to round-up six games you may have missed. And if you have played all of these, then you sir have very fine taste.

Blur

Blur

Confession time: we played both Blur and Split/Second before they were released and early impressions lead us to believe that Split/Second was going to be the better of the two. Both were due out in the same month, if your memory needs jogging. The ability to remotely detonate parts of the track – turning the opposition into scrap and opening up new routes in the process – appeared to be more than what Blur was offering. To wit: Project Gotham Racing with WipEout-style weapons.

Activision clearly felt that Mario Kart was a better comparison, releasing a TV commercial featuring embarrassingly cute characters. While not the worst advert to ever air on TV, we would have liked of it more if it didn’t end with the cringe inducing line “Race like a big boy”.

Even though the now defunct Black Rock Studio had worked on racing games before – including the often forgotten ATV racer Pure – their expertise was no match for Bizarre Creations’ racing knowhow. Blur rarely puts foot wrong; an incredibly competent package of excellent track design, finely tuned vehicle handling and balanced weaponry. Online functions too were a highlight – the game has such a sizeable cult following that it’s easy even now to get into a multiplayer game.

In hindsight, I think Blur appeared to be the poorer of the two initially on the grounds that the weapons looked out of place in a reasonably realistic looking racer. With time though my eyes soon become accustomed to the contrasting neon hues.

Curiously, Blur features a track set on Brighton seafront, which is where rival racing studio Black Rock was based. You can pretty much drive right past their window.

Singularity

Spetsnaz-Revert_002

Raven Software were one of our favourite studios. We used the word ‘were’ there as although the studio still exists, Activision nowadays has them working on Call of Duty map packs and nothing more. You can pin this on the poor performances of both Wolfenstien and Singularity, with the former said to have set back Activision an absolute fortune. Word has it that it had no chance whatsoever at turning a profit.

Singularity was their last shot at redemption. A slow-paced and intelligent shooter with a rich Cold War-era backstory, it’s essentially Activision’s very own Bioshock. With Bioshock 2 just a few months old at the time, had they marketed it in a similar manner as to how Irrational’s games are promoted, it would have no doubt performed slightly better at retail.

it’s essentially Activision’s very own Bioshock

One thing Singularity does rather well is provide lots of gadgets and gizmos to play around with, including the TMD – a time manipulation device. This gadget not only rebuilds fallen bridges and repairs rusted control panels but it can also turn enemies into piles of dust by sucking the life out of them.

The game’s highlight, at least for us, occurs during a mission in which you’re ordered to retrieve a bomb from a ship known as The Pearl. There’s only one problem – the ship sunk many years ago. By this point the TMD has been upgraded a few times, and so with some extra power behind it, you’re able to raise the ship from the bottom of the ocean to a good-as-new state. Once on board it becomes evident that the ship isn’t going to stay shiny and new for long, and as you make your way to the cargo hold the walls and floors become coated in rust right before your very eyes. A new weapon becomes available on this mission too – a grenade launcher. The timing is genius – the grenades that it fires are spherical, so quite often they roll back towards you due to the ship rocking back and forth. In fact, dull moments are seldom come by, as there are plenty of unexpected, nay genius, moments such as this.

In an ideal world Activison would have put Raven to work on their movie and TV licensed games. Their X-Men Origins tie-in turned out incredibly well, and the studio could have no doubt worked their magic on the likes of Men in Black, The Walking Dead and other the licenses Activison has acquired since Singularity’s release.

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Dec 12
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Whether it’s a refund from the tax man or one of those elusive Kit-Kats that’s accidentally had the wafer left out, we all like a nice surprise. Here are eight games from 2012 that exceeded all expectations:

Binary Domain – PS3, 360

When Sega’s Japan-developed shooter was first shown it looked rather grey in both senses of the word. Awful memories of Quantum Theory then came flooding back – another Japanese developed game that tried to mimic Gears of War, but failed to capture what made Epic’s series so great.

Thankfully it turned out to be quite a refreshingly different shooter, with a focus on creating a strong bond with your team-mates. The robotic enemies were satisfying to shoot, the colossal bosses even more so. For the £10 it can be found for nowadays it’s well worth a purchase.

Spec Ops: The Line – PS3, 360, PC

When we first heard that Take-Two were reviving the Spec Ops franchise – a series that’s been dormant since the PSone era – our first thoughts were that it wouldn’t better even Medal of Honor, let alone Battlefield or Call of Duty. Like Binary Domain, it managed to put a refreshing twist into the third-person shooter genre.

The Dubai setting allowed for some unforgettable set-pieces, and the story was one of the best in recent times. There was a good use of licensed music too – well known tunes occasionally blared out of the stereos left switched on in the wake of Dubai’s destruction.

Dragon’s Dogma – PS3, 360

Although the first batch of screenshots of Capcom’s RPG looked pretty, it did look rather hackneyed – every western RPG cliché appeared to be present. The developer’s plans for the game’s online functions didn’t appeal at first either. Wouldn’t proper online play be better than simply being able to borrow somebody else’s AI controlled cohort? The answer tuned out to be no. The AI controlled Pawns were an important part of the experience, so brilliantly programmed that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were being controlled by another human player.

We clocked up over 60 hours of play in this RPG masterpiece, eventually becoming strong enough to take on the Ur-Dragon – a massive beast that took us almost four hours. That’s not four hours worth of attempts – we’re talking about a single four hour long battle, which is what it took to whittle down the Ur-Dragon’s health bar to nothing. Epic isn’t a word we use often, but it’s fully justified here.

Learn with Pokemon: Typing Adventure – DS

History is repeating itself. Just as Typing of the Dead on Dreamcast is something of a hidden gem for the system, Learn with Pokemon has become something of an underrated treat for Nintendo DS owners.

Nintendo really didn’t publicise this one at all. We don’t know for certain why, but they must have either felt that it would distract from sales of Pokemon Black and White 2, or they didn’t want to create too much of a demand seeing as they didn’t plan on releasing many copies in the UK.

See also: Pokemon Conquest.

Far Cry 3 – PS3, 360, PC

For us, the original Far Cry was love at first sight. Those tropical beaches and leafy jungles were a welcome change of setting from the usual war-torn cities and muddy trenches that most FPS were set in at the time. Far Cry Instincts on Xbox was well ahead of its time too, letting you choose which order to complete missions.

Over time though the series took a tumble – Far Cry Vengeance on Wii was an abomination while Far Cry 2’s open-world approach didn’t please everybody. Far Cry 3 saw the series back on top form, becoming one of this year’s highest rated shooters. Whereas Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed III tells you exactly how to complete a mission, Far Cry 3 gives you the tools and lets you get on with the task at hand however you please.

The Walking Dead – PS3, 360, PC, iOS

Telltale’s reputation before The Walking Dead wasn’t exactly glowing. The Wii versions of Sam & Max were approaching unplayable due to slowdown, and both their Jurassic Park and Back to the Future licensed games failed to make good use of the source material. Jurassic Park had an QTE event to climb a hill, for pity’s sake.

The Walking Dead saw the studio go back to basics to create a five-part series that had us on tenterhooks from the very start. The interface was simple yet pleasing to use and the character development was very finely crafted. We ended up genuinely caring about the characters – something that made the gripping ending even harder to stomach.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – PS3, 360, Wii U

Rather than being a mere sequel to Sonic & All-Stars Racing, except with karts that now transform into boats and planes, Transformed turned out to be a total overhaul. There’s a slight hint of Blur about it, which is probably (well, almost certainly) because ex-Bizzare Creations staff were partly responsible. The tracks were brilliantly designed and the power-up assortment both well balanced and creative.

A fine celebration of all things Sega, with the NiGHTS track being a particular highlight.

ZombiU – Wii U

Now, this is a game that ended up being completely different to its original concept. It was first introduced to the world as a shooter called Killer Freaks from Outer Space, starring mutated versions of the Raving Rabbids. The Rabbids were dropped in favor of zombies and the B-Movie feel was scrubbed completely.

The end result was one of the most ambitious launch titles of recent times, drawing you in from the very start and leaving you hooked. It was surprisingly hardcore too – comparisons with Dark Souls were made by the gaming press. The Killer Freaks weren’t left out of the game entirely – they can be found inside a supermarket, albeit it soft toy form. A nice touch, we think.

Mar 12
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

We’re surprised that Sega didn’t make a bigger fuss of this third-person shooter being masterminded by Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator behind the Yakuza games. The Yakzua series has a strong following all over the world and as it’s a franchise associated with Sony-formats this will be the first time that Xbox 360 owners get to experience Nagoshi’s skilful blend of storytelling, art direction and surreal yet fitting sense of humour.

The plot involves global warming forcing mankind to build new cities on top of the old ones, which ergo ushers in a new wave of robots designed to assist in rebuilding the world. Robot manufacturers were told never to make robots that resemble humans but one company located deep inside Tokyo has broken this clause and it’s your job, along with a team of multi-national specialists, to sneak into Tokyo and capture the company president for questioning. During an early cut-scene it’s revealed that these human-like robots – referred to as Hollow Children – have been living amongst us for over 40 years which instantly makes the story engaging. Who can you trust exactly?

As the story progresses and you make it further into Tokyo new characters join the squad who can be picked and chosen. One thing that makes Binary Domain stand out is a loyalty system. Fellow teammates often ask you questions which can be answered with either a dropdown menu or via microphone and your replies will alter their respect levels. Those that trust you completely will be quicker to react to your commands during battle. Teammates also congratulate on shooting skills or will complain if they feel like you didn’t shift your weight during the last gunfight. Using a microphone provides a bigger list of responses but our experience with it was mixed – during one battle we were simply trying to tell another character to “regroup” but for some reason the words “I love you” kept appearing on screen. After just the first level the microphone was left unplugged. There are enough responses and commands to use from the menu, so it’s not as if we felt as if we were missing out.

The art direction is really something quite special – ignoring some cheesy dialogue the cut-scenes are stylish and it looks spectacular in places, easily rivalling Sega’s own Vanquish. The robots you fight against are coated in armour which falls apart as you shoot them, exposing their circuits and weak points. Blast at their legs and they’ll crawl along the floor; take off their head and they’ll malfunction and start shooting other robots. Relentless in their pursuit, we haven’t come across another set of enemies so satisfying to shoot for a long time. Headshots and one hit kills earn extra credits which can be spent at vending machines where you can purchase nano-machines that boost your base health level and let you carry more grenades and the like. You can also upgrade your cohort’s arsenal to make them more proficient in battle.

Mostly epic in scale, the boss battles will stay fresh in your mind for a long time while the environments feel impeccably well designed. There are a few slower sections where Dan and his teammates get to take a little downtime and bond too, including one set in a posh coffee shop.

The two online modes feel like a little bit of a last minute inclusion and are the only real downer of an impressively polished package. Environments from the single-player mode have been recycled here and this is the biggest problem – they aren’t maps especially designed for multi-player death matches. One level leaves you incredibly open to sniper fire, for instance. Like in the main game kills earn credits which can be used to buy better weapons and add claymore mines and such to your inventory. You only get to keep these items for one life – as soon as you die, you’re back to the basic set. You can however pick up weapons that have been discarded thus giving everybody a chance to get the upper hand. Invasion mode meanwhile is a little like Gears of War’s Horde Mode, but without Gears of War 3’s ability to place turrets and electric fences it’s hard to recommend it as an alternative.

When Sega first showed Binary Domain off to the world we thought it would be yet another Japanese shooter unable to compete with western efforts. The reality is quite the opposite – western developers would do well to learn from its variety and pacing. It’s the full package, pretty much – compelling story, stunning visuals and a slight sprinkling of innovation – and one that deserves more recognition than it’s ever likely to get.

Feb 23
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We’ve had our say on the PS Vita’s line-up, but to quickly recap Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipEout 2048, Lumines, Everybody’s Golf and FIFA Football are the ones that should be on top of your shopping list. Then there are a few decent conversions to consider if you don’t already own the originals – F1 2011, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Vita, Rayman Origins and the 2D brawlers Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and BlazBlue Extend. Don’t expect to find any of Ubisoft’s titles at GAME – they’ve already confirmed that they aren’t stocking them due to ongoing credit issues.

BlazBlue Extend is also out on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this week which Zavvi is offering for a not too shabby £19.95. It’s not the most exciting thing hitting shelves though. That’ll be a combination of Sega’s Binary Domain and EA’s Syndicate.

Syndicate is one that the press seem to universally agree is worth a 7. Fans of online co-op games should certainly take a look – it sounds like it’s the game that Brink should have been.

Binary Domain is by the brains behind the Yakuza games and although set in Tokyo it has a stronger western feel to it. It’s a third-person squad-based shooter with some lively banter between team-mates and some lovely sharp visuals. The way the amour falls off the robotic enemies, leaving their circuits exposed, is quite nifty. We also like the way some crawl along the ground when injured, like something out of Terminator. Give the demo a go – you may be surprised.

Then on Wii there’s Glacier 3: The Meltdown the sequel to… oh, it would appear that there haven’t been any previous games in the series. How odd. The video on the publisher’s site reveals it to be quite a fast looking weapon-based racer. It certainly can’t be any worse than Wheelspin. There’s also Wicked Monster Blast which Nintendo Gamer magazine quite enjoyed. They gave it 72% and billed it as a finely crafted mini-game package. Now there’s a thing.

Both of these are overshadowed however by RPG The Last Story. Not quite as grand as Xenoblade Chronicles, it would seem, but a very nice RPG all the same and one that’s apparently very user-friendly with very little grinding. It’s also of a shorter length than most RPGs, clocking in at around 20 hours.

PlayStation 3 owners shouldn’t feel jealous as they have Tecmo Koei’s RPG Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 to consider.

Next week: SSX (PS3, 360), Twisted Metal (PS3), Mario Party 9 (Wii), Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (PS3, 360) and a Platinum/Classics re-release of Driver: San Francisco.

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