Tagged "Transformers"

Aug 25
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

The last-gen formats have reached the age where they’re being handed down to younger siblings, with the Xbox One and PS4 taking pride of place under the main TV instead. Both consoles have also fallen in price heavily over the past year or so, making them affordable (and more viable) for children.

Unlike the Wii and Wii U, the Xbox 360 and PS3 never saw a steady slew of children’s games – just the odd movie or cartoon tie-in here and there, plus the usual LEGO, Skylanders and Disney Infinity games.

The aim of this guide is to highlight some of the alternative kids’ games out there while sorting the good from the bad. Contrary to popular beliefs, kids can tell the difference. They may not be able to exactly point out why a game is bad, but they know the difference between boring and entertaining.

With this guide you hopefully won’t be hearing “this game is boring” too often.

The obvious choices


Let’s get these out the way first, as chances are your child already owns a few of these. We’re talking about the games that are always prominently placed in supermarkets and GAME, such as LEGO, Skylanders, Disney Infinity, Just Dance, FIFA Soccer and Minecraft.

Disney Infinity was axed earlier this year, meaning retailers are starting to clear out stock. The first DI features Disney and Pixar franchises and packed in a lot of content, with worlds based on Monsters Inc, The Incredibles and Pirates of the Caribbean. You do however need two characters from the same universe to play two-player in these worlds, which obviously goes against the whole ‘Infinity’ aspect.

Disney Infinity was axed earlier this year

The second DI favours Marvel superheroes and has a quickly cobbled together feel to it, with just one campaign that soon becomes tedious. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man add-on packs also scored poorly by the gaming press.

For the third and final DI, Star Wars is the theme and this iteration focuses heavily on the premium priced add-ons. Despite featuring characters from all different Disney lines, the majority can only be used in the Minecraft-style Toy Box mode…which is due to go offline next year. It can still be accessed, but the ability to share creations with the community will cease.

Children are likely to lean towards their favourite franchise, but for our money, the original DI is the one to go for. With three campaigns lasting around 3-4 hours each, it offers the most out-of-the-box value.

As for Skylanders, we recommend the recent Skylanders Superchargers – which has online co-op play and Mario Kart-style races – and Skylanders Giants, which wasn’t too demanding when it came to extra figures. Although Skylanders Giants is also knocking on a bit now, it’s the prices for the giant figures have hit rock bottom. A full set can easily be obtained for around £20.

While not bad games – the Skylanders games have a rare consistency to them – both Trap Team and Swap Force lock a lot of content away, with the former requiring £5 coloured crystals to capture bad guys in, and Swap Force adding new areas that only Swap Force characters can enter. These two are by far the most money grabbing.

LEGOMovie (1)

Then we have the LEGO games, which too are constantly good…and sometimes even great. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings are generally seen as some of the weaker entries, while Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman, Marvel Super Heroes and The Avengers are perceived as the best.

LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga are the ones commonly found in bargain bins nowadays, both of which are recommended.

LEGO Dimensions stuff meanwhile is slowly starting to come down in price due to the arrival of season two. The starter set hasn’t quite hit the magical £30 mark yet, but it’s almost there. Out of all the ‘Toys to Life’ franchises, LEGO Dimensions is the most demanding on the wallet, and the upcoming second season looks set to be even more so with packs based on Sonic the Hedgehog, Gremlins, Adventure Time and dozens more. At least LEGO tends to hold its value, eh?

This leaves us with Minecraft, which needs no introduction. Several years from launch, it’s still a big seller and just as popular. Thankfully for parents, it isn’t a full price release – expect to pay between £15-£20. If your child is into Minecraft in a big way, also be sure to check out Minecraft: Story Mode – which features a collection of episodic adventures to play through – and Terraria, which is often referred to as Minecraft’s 2D cousin. It’s slightly trickier to master, but chances are your child has friends who’ve already learnt the ropes and will be keen to show off what they know.

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Feb 26
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

In a time when review scores matter more than ever, most publishers and developers are putting some long overdue attention into their licensed games. A few duffers do still slip out though, in hope that people will buy them based on name alone.

We’ve put our thinking caps on and tried to formulate remedies to fix gaming’s most abused licenses.



We were really surprised that Aliens: Colonial Marines didn’t have any slower paced sections to build tension and help to create an atmosphere. Although a survival horror game wouldn’t be particularly mainstream, it would suit the license.

Think along the lines of ZombiU – every Xeno encounter as frightful as the last, each with the ability to rip a mere human to shreds within seconds. It’s vital that every bullet hits its mark as ammo is scarce; torch light even more valuable still. Every now and then you’re lulled into a sense of false confidence by finding a flame thrower or such. This would help to keep things entertaining and prevent the experience from feeling dull. The motion tracker too could be used to build tension, sometimes giving off false readings.

Another suggestion? A tower defence game, set during Aliens. Many games have copied Aliens’ sentry turrets over the years – here would be the ideal chance to exploit that idea, giving us upgradable turrets that can be carried and repositioned. Aliens’ long list of Marines could be playable, each with their own signature weapon that’s more powerful than the standard – Hick’s shotgun, Ripley’s flamethrower and so on. The welding tool could also be put to good use, either for sealing up doors when becoming overrun or to open up new rooms as the game progresses.

That last idea is probably a little bit too limited for a full price title, but as a PSN/XBLA game we’d imagine it would do quite well.

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Sep 03
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The anticipated Guild Wars 2 has managed to ‘do the business’ for NCsoft, arriving at #1 in the UK chart. It’s the first PC game to go straight to the top spot since Football Manager 2011 back in November 2010.

Sleeping Dogs moves down to #2. Then at #3 it’s New Super Mario Bros. 2, followed by London 2012: The Official Video Game and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.

Last week’s new entries Darksiders 2 and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron have dropped to #6 and #8 respectively.

At #7 it’s EA’s Madden NFL 13.

Tales of Graces f has charted higher than we expected, in at #14 in the all formats chart and an even more impressive #3 in the PlayStation 3 chart.

Worms Collection wiggles its way into the Xbox 360 chart at #31 but the PlayStation 3 version is nowhere to be found.

Dec 28
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

This’ll be the third year running that we’ve rounded up Metacritic’s worst games of the year, so we assume it’s a tradition for us now. This year though we’ve left out downloadable games because otherwise this article would be based mostly on incredibly bad DSiWare and WiiWare games, of which there have been many. For the record though statistically the worst game of the year is 101-in-1 Explosive Mix on WiiWare clocking in with a mere 16%. That’s 0.15% per game! Real classy work, Nordcurrent.

This year’s round-up looks remarkably similar to what last year gave us – a few Kinect games, a handful of movie tie-ins and some other low-budget guff. EA showed themselves up last year – they were responsible for two of the worst games of 2010 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the download-only Dead Space Ignition) but this year there are zero EA games present. Activision has taken a bad turn though – nothing they released made the list last year, but this time round three of their games have sullied shop shelves across the land.

Atlus’s The Cursed Crusade on Xbox 360 and Actvision’s Wipeout: In the Zone on Kinect both gained a 39% average. The Cursed Crusade may have been set during one of history’s more exciting periods but the developers failed to capture the essence of medieval brutality, giving us a dull and clichéd hack and slasher. Wipeout on the other hand has nothing to do with everybody’s favourite futuristic racer (or at least, everybody’s favourite that isn’t called F-Zero) and everything to do with the humiliating TV game show.

The DS and Wii versions of Thor: God of Thunder are apparently not too bad but the Xbox 360 and PS3 version were lacking in every respect and clocked in with a 38% average. Polish? Thor knows not of this mystical thing – some enemies merely wobbled from side to side when hit, as if their feet were attached to the floor with springs. The worrying thing is that it’s not the worst movie tie-in of the year.

Ubisoft has been knocking out CSI games from as far back as the days of PlayStation 2 but NCIS on Xbox 360 was clearly their worst yet with 36%, panned for sloppy visuals, predictable plot and mini-games which Gamespot described as “childish”.

X-Men Destiny was from the creators of Too Human you say? We would never have guessed it. The DS version scored the worst out of the bunch with a 33% average but the Wii version wasn’t far behind with 36%. Nintendo fans weren’t the only ones getting a bum deal though – even the Xbox 360 version only had an average of 48%.

With 32% 505 Games’s Blackwater is the second Kinect game on Metacritic’s (s)hit list. When it was first announced we were mildly excited about the prospect of playing a light-gun-style on-rails shooter with the Kinect, using over arm throws to lob grenades and such. Then the first review appeared online and it wasn’t pretty – a 1/10 from GamesRadar. The Official Xbox Magazine quite liked it though, giving it a 7/10. Their positive review stands out like a sore thumb when compared to other websites’ reviews.

The first Kung Fu Panda game was surprisingly good. The license changed hands from Activision to THQ for Kung Fu Panda 2: The Video Game and anybody expecting it to be similarly good will have have been disappointed. The Metacritic score stands at just 31% for the PlayStation 3 version with GameReactor claiming its shortness to be a good thing.

And now we’re down to the real dregs – the final three. And lo and behold, it’s a movie tie-in – Activision’s 3DS version of Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition. With a 30% average reviewers universally agreed that it was a bad game but they couldn’t agree on the control system. The Official Nintendo Magazine said that the controls were the best aspect while Nintendo World Report claimed it was the worst thing about it. Then there’s Nintendojo’s bizarre verdict: “Even if you are the most hardcore Transformers fan, this is a game to pass up. If you’re a Stealthforcer fan, then by all means, get this game – I’m sure you’ll love it,” they said before giving it a paltry 25%. What?

Duke Nukem raises his head in second place but it’s not Duke Nukem Forever as you may expect but rather Deep Silver’s Duke Nukem: Critical Mass on DS with 29%. A deal was penned for three handheld Duke Nukem games back in 2009. After a troubled development what stumbled out to very little promotion was an amateurish 2D run and gunner. The PSP version was apparently going be third-person but quietly canned.

So, here we have Metacritic’s worst game of 2011. Or rather the worst retail game of 2011 seeing as we bent the rules slightly. It’s Ubisoft’s Self-Defense Training Camp on Kinect with a mighty 21% average score. Worth Playing sums it up quite nicely: “Just steer clear of this one and always remember to carry some pepper spray – not to ward off muggers, but to spray in the face of anyone who tries to tell you this is a worthwhile title.”

What a kick in the balls!

Oct 21
By Matt Gander In Blog 4 Comments

With the average game length estimated to be 10 hours, you could probably finish 90 percent of the games out there during the space of a weekend if you have a jug of coffee and a big bag of sweets by your side. But what if you have housework to do or errands to run? Then you’ll need one of these games:

Earth Defence Force: Insect Armageddon
Estimated Play Time: 3 hours

Slack on content, especially when compared to the last Earth Defence Force, but a lot of reviewers felt that it was worthy of praise due to its relentless nature. Once you get a homing weapon there isn’t a great deal to it other than running around in circles firing missiles into the air.

Be sure to: start a two-player survival game and then kill the other player to get an achievement for incapacitating a teammate.

Estimated Play Time: 4 hours

THQ’s heavily scripted shooter gives you the chance to protect America while fighting off Korean invaders. It flows nicely but there’s not much in the way of a plot and not a great deal of achievements for playing single-player. The recently announced sequel should walk all over it – it’s being developed by Crytek UK.

Be sure to: bag a precious extra achievement by killing 25 enemies with melee attacks on the first level. Also: talk to everybody at the Oasis safe house and throw yourself off the Golden Gate Bridge on the final level for two other achievements.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
Estimated Play Time: 4 hours

This isn’t a game for everybody. Not due to having a grizzly nature, including a torture scene involving razor blades, but because the screen has a rather nauseating filter effect to make it look like a bootleg video. It does feel rather cinematic in places though. Make a shotgun your weapon of choice and get the knack of sprinting through Shanghai and you can finish it in one (long) sitting.

Be sure to: try out the arcade mode. It’s actually pretty innovative and unpredictable, with the AI turning their backs on their team mates and killing them to make off with more loot. Think along the lines of the start of The Dark Knight, but in videogame form.

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Estimated Play Time: 4 hours

An old game, and thus now very cheap. The trick to finishing this one quickly is to cheat – even with cheats on achievements will unlock. Annoyingly though, when finishing a level on hard mode you don’t get the achievements for normal. Worth a play just to see how far shooters have come over the past five years.

Be sure to: play it on hard mode to get the most Gamerscore out of it.

Iron Man 2
Estimated Play Time: 4 hours

I’m incredibly pleased I only paid £5 for this movie tie-in. I started it at 6pm on evening and finished it by 11pm. That was with stopping to cook and eat dinner too. It’s better than the first game but feels very rough around the edges, and obviously, it’s on the short side. Iron Man fits into the world of videogames snuggly, so it’s crazy that nobody has managed to make a decent game starring Stark yet.

Be sure to: destroy most of the structures in Shatalov’s base to get an easy achievement.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Estimated Play Time: 5 hours

Clearly put together on a tight deadline. The later levels feel very padded out, full of long dull corridors. It’s far from terrible though. In fact, you could even say that it’s pretty good with each level feeling different to the last.

Be sure to: try the multi-player mode. Don’t go thinking that the achievement for reaching the maximum rank will take ages to get – I managed to get it in just over an hour. Unbelievable, really.

Army of Two: The 40th Day
Estimated Play Time: 5 hours

Another set in Shanghai but not quite as brainless as above. Casual mode is just that, with enemies that can be gunned down in seconds. Stick to upgrading one rifle to the max and use it as your main weapon – you won’t need anything else. Quite an underrated game, with a nice solid feel. A big improvement over the sterile original.

Be sure to: play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with your buddy by pressing Y when no enemies are around. Win three times in a row to get another you know what.

Estimated Play Time: 5 hours

A very simple shooter that looks good but offers very little other than pretty explosions. The few cut-scenes on offer are mercifully short, there are no puzzles and as soon as you die you restart instantly. All of these factors make Bodycount a very swift experience. You can run past most enemies too. Oh and it hands out achievements like penny sweets.

Be sure to: make good use of the mines by throwing them at enemies as they run towards you.

NB: We’ve used the Xbox 360 versions as reference here but in most cases PlayStation 3 versions have trophies for achieving the same goals.

Aug 01
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Activision must have been pleased with how High Moon’s Transformers: War for Cybertron turned out – the studio has been allowed to continue their good work here, albeit in a slightly more casual fashion. This makes them the only studio that has been let loose on the Transformers license twice in a row. So well done to them, and well done to Activision for not closing them down.

It’s clear from the start that High Moon was up against a tight deadline – what’s on offer is a rather short experience. But that’s not to say it’s sloppily made – it flows really nicely and there’s a solid and sturdy feel throughout, with each of the seven levels dedicated to a different ‘bot. Rather than relive the events of the movie this is actually a prequel, explaining how the Deceptions discovered the Transformer assassin Shockwave and how the Autobots tried to stop them.

Yellow fellow Bumblebee kicks things off gently; the opening stage acts as a tutorial and gives the chance to play around with the new ‘stealth force mode’. I’m not sure why it has been given this moniker as there’s nothing stealthy about it. Quite the opposite, in fact – it’s a vehicle mode that allows you to circle the opposition more easily and lock onto targets. Most levels have long winding roads, giving you a chance to put the Transformer’s vehicular modes to good use.

Although short the levels feel significantly different from one another. Ironhide’s city based level has a focus on using powerful weapons; Mirage can cloak himself and carries a sniper-rifle thus giving his mission a stealthy feel. Then there are the Deception missions, all of which are slightly longer lasting than the Autobots’ adventures. Starscream’s level takes the form of a reasonably accomplished fight-sim while Soundwave’s stage lets you control Laserbeak. As Laserbeak is only a tiny chap, enemies have to be stunned first before attacking. He’s also able to hide inside crates and the like and leap out when a foe’s back is turned. I won’t spoil the last two levels, but I will point out that it seems a little odd that Optimus isn’t a playable character until the very end of the game.

As shown in War of Cyberton, High Moon clearly has a passion for the franchise. The robots look the part and they’ve managed to capture the personalities of each; there’s some witty banter between Ironhide and Optimus, and the usual rivalry between Starscream and Megatron.

Once single player has been done and dusted there’s a multi-player mode to turn to. This is a streamlined version of War for Cybertron’s multi-player featuring identical presentation. The rather good Escalation mode, in which you had to work as a team to take down waves of enemies, has been omitted however, which is slightly disappointing. This leaves us with team deathmatch and a capture the flag mode known as conquest. Conquest matches can be quite chaotic – it’s a challenge to maintain control of all three bases at once. Much like Call of Duty you can add perks to your character and choose weapon load-outs. The bizarre thing here is that it takes very little time at all to max your character’s stats out. And that’s not an exaggeration – after just over an hour of play I’d gone from being level 1 to level 20.

Make no mistake – this is a very casual experience in terms of length and difficulty. Upon discovering that each level has a target score to beat I thought there might be a bit of replay value to be had but sadly that’s not the case – if you don’t beat the set scores on your first attempt then you no doubt will on your second try. The only incentive to play through the game again is to find all the hidden Transformer logos, which is only going to appeal to those wanting to unlock the achievement for doing so.

If you fancy having a blast with the battling ‘bots go for High Moon’s previous Transformers game. As movie tie-ins go though, this still stands as one of the better ones, especially when compared to stuff like Terminator Salvation and Sega’s dismal Iron Man games.

Jul 18
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It must have been a slow week for sales last week. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 makes #7 in the top 40 UK chart yet Chart Track claims launch sales have been the lowest for any Harry Potter game. Even lower, believe it or not, than ‘Part 1’ which only made it to #20.

Zumba Fitness stays at #1, giving it a five week run, while Transformers: Dark of the Moon rises up from #3 to #2. L.A Noire has left the top ten this week, falling from #5 to #13.

The actually pretty good sales at Game and GameStation continue to propel recently released titles up back the chart. Most notable is Marvel vs Capcom 3 which rockets back from #39 to #14. Dungeon Siege 3 is up from #19 to #11 while Mortal Kombat uppercuts from #31 to #19.

Despite apparently being pretty good, Sega’s Captain America: Super Solider fails to make a top 40 appearance. The best the Captain can do is #30 in the PlayStation 3 chart and #34 in the Xbox 360 chart. The tie-in is nowhere to be seen in the Wii chart, fuelling further speculation that Sega hasn’t bothered releasing it in Europe.

Jun 27
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The good news is that the highest new entry in this week’s chart isn’t the new Transformers tie-in but rather F.E.A.R 3 which makes a chart debut at #3. Optimus and the others have to make do with #17. No doubt it’ll be in the top 10 next week once the movie is released.

Speaking of the top 10, Zumba Fitness is still #1. L.A Noire is up from #4 to #2, DiRT 3 rises from #7 to #3 and thanks to Wimbledon Top Spin 4 bounces back from #28 to #10. Both Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Duke Nukem Forever are on the fall though – Link is down to #6 and Duke is now at #8.

Shadows of the Damned hasn’t got off to a very good start at all – it enters at #31. That’s still better than Child of Eden, which has dropped to #35. THQ has also had a bad week – Red Faction: Armageddon has gone from #12 to #32 while Homefront has drops from #18 to #37.

There’s still no sign of the Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters in the top 40 despite the film now being shown in cinemas. The best the green guy can do is #20 in the Wii chart.

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