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issue 23 / vol 2 May 2010

game r eviews! SOCOM: Special Forces LEGO Star Wars III Shogun 2:Total War Mortal Kombat Kirby’s Epic Yarn Yakuza 4 and more...

A New Op

Fight!

Operation Flashpoint:Red River

Mortal Kombat

Shiver Me Timbers

Make a Hole Portal 2

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean reviewed


The Witcher® is a trademark of CD Projekt RED sp. z o.o. The Witcher game © CD Projekt RED sp. z o.o. All rights reserved. The Witcher game is based on the prose of Andrzej Sapkowski. All other copyrights and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2011 Namco Bandai Partners S.A.S. Marketed, published, manufactured and distributed by Namco Bandai Partners S.A.S. FMOD Sound System, copyright © Firelight Technologies Pty, Ltd., 1994-2010. Licensee Developed Software” uses Havok™. (C) Copyright 1999-2011 Havok.com, Inc. (and its Licensors). All Rights Reserved. See www.havok.com for details. NVIDIA, the NVIDIA logo, and The Way It’s Meant To Be Played are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation. All rights reserved. Agent movement powered by PathEngineTM – www.pathengine.com. Uses Scaleform GFx © 2011 Scaleform Corporation. All rights reserved. Portions of this software utilize SpeedTree technology. (c)2005-2011 Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. All rights reserved.

A time of untold chaos has come. Mighty forces Cash behind the scenes in a

struggle for power and influence. Northern Kingdoms mobilize their armies

and prepare for war. But armies on the march are not enough to stop a bloody

conspiracy. Someone is hunting crowned heads. Every assassination attempt

intensifies the chaos, and might truly does make right these days. Cruelty and

violence have become daily fare…


IMMERSIVE, MATURE NONLINEAR STORY Complex, expansive adventure in

which every decision may have grave consequences. An intense, emotionallycharged, nonlinear story for mature players, offering over 40 hours of gameplay, 4 different beginnings and 16 different endings. Make choices that really matter. Your decisions impact relations with Rother characters and entire communities, and may also influence the political situation in the Northern Kingdoms.

ACTUAL GAMEPLAY SCREENSHOT

ACTUAL GAMEPLAY SCREENSHOT

DYNAMIC, TACTICAL COMBAT SYSTEM Spectacular, dynamic, brutal combat system featuring numerous tactical options, including advanced monsterfighting technique. Combine real-time interactive moves like parry, dodge and riposte with combat based on RPG character traits to succeed in battle. New combat elements include ranged weapons (daggers and bombs), traps and bait, the magic Heliotrope Sign as well as the ability to sneak up on and launch non-lethal attacks on your foes.

REALISTIC, VAST GAME WORLD Exceptionally realistic, vast game world, teeming with its own life. Explore numerous, highly varied locations, including the mighty La Valette Castle, the bustling dwarven mining town of Vergen, multiple border garrisons and fortresses, ancient forests, and the vibrant trading post and river port of Flotsam.

PREMIUM CONTENT, STANDARD PRICE •GameDVD-TheWitcher2onDVD. •Makingof-Anewvideoaboutthe game`s creation and all previously published trailers. •Officialsoundtrack-aCDcontaining choice pieces of music from the game. •AguidetothegameforallRPGfans.

PRODUCTION

•Mapofthegameworld.Ideal for pondering in candle light. •GameManual •Pamthletandreal,specialmetalcoin fromtheWitcherworld. •Twouniquepapercraftfigures. Something for the collectors out there!

Do you dare stand alone among the mighty forces that are fighting for power over the Northern Kingdoms? the-witcher2-game.com thewitcher.com namcobandaigames.eu RELEASE DATE 17 MAY 2011


Inside 6 From the Editor 8 Unstuck Some stats to ponder 10 Play Well Combining well loved things... 16 Previews 10 games that are bound to be cool! 36 PS Zealot Where’s the network 38 Xbox Beat Learning from your mistakes 40 House of Mario Wires rule! 44 Reviews 25 games to get on with! 104 Flashtastic Gravity sucks... 106 Mobility Movie games on your mobile 108 Essential Classics Hack and slash 110 Hardware Some essential hardware 120 From Space Why Portal 2 rocks.

THIS MONTH’S COVER A new franchise gets the LEGO treatment. Read our review on page 46.

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Competitions 79 LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean 85 Operation Flashpoint: Red River

g a m e c c a c o n t e n t s • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


Previews

18 20 22 26 27 28 30 32 33 34

Reviews

46 50 54 58 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102

Duke Nukem Forever Dirt 3 Dead Island Call of Juarez: The Cartel PowerUp Heroes Supremacy MMA Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 UFC Personal Trainer Air Conflicts: Secret Wars Michael Phelps: Push the Limit LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Shogun 2: Total War Portal 2 Need for Speed – Shift 2: Unleashed Operation Flashpoint: Red River Mortal Kombat Pilot Wings Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters SOCOM: Special Forces LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (X360) SingStar: Afrikaanse Treffers Kirby’s Epic Yarn Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars Super Street Fighter 3DS Tales of Monkey Island Ridge Racer 3D WWE All Stars Yakuza 4 TrackMania Dive to the Titanic Pokémon Black and White The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe Project Freedom LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (3DS) Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull

GAMECCA Volume2 Issue 23 May 2011 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gamecca.co.za Sub Editor: Charlie Fripp Writers: Alexia Pestana Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Christo van Gemert Dion Scotten Dylan Bouch James Francis Suvesh Arumugam Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za Competition Entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za Design & Photography: 1337 Media Technical Support: Brian Murdoch Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gamecca.co.za

Taking fun seriously! CREATED USING

Adobe CS5

MASTER SUITE

All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced, copied or transmitted without the express permission of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the sole property of the respective owners.

GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

g a m e c c a c o n t e n t s • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2011

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Don’t Panic... From the Editor

by Walt Pretorius

W

e are planning some big things in the near future for Gamecca and its associated website. In doing so, I had to go back and take a look at all the old issues for various reasons. As we work on completing this second-last issue of the second volume of Gamecca Magazine, I have been doing a lot of thinking about where we started, and how far this magazine has come in less than two years. Yes, our second birthday is just around the corner, and we’ll be celebrating by bringing you some really top notch titles. In fact, this very issue shows that the video game industry is in an extremely productive and healthy phase, with numerous really good titles hitting the shelves these days. And the month of May will be no different. April – the month in which we prepared this issue – was odd. From the start, with a few rather strange April Fool’s Day gags, right through to the end, which sees a bunch of public holidays happening in a big cluster here in South Africa, the preparation of this issue has been… interesting. Naturally, public holidays falling into the deadline time for the magazine are far from ideal, and there was more than a little grumbling as we worked while others played. But them’s the breaks when you do this job, I guess. Another oddity that April brought along was the hacking of Sony’s PlayStation Network. At the time of writing, PSN was hacked a week ago, and is still stumbling along at… well, no, actually, it’s down, broken, kaput. It isn’t stumbling

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anywhere. It’s lying dead in a ditch right now. This brings to mind ideas of how exactly the people responsible for bringing services like PSN to the market go about safeguarding our personal details. It is, after all, up to the users to make sure that these services work, and if their information isn’t secure, they’re not going to stay on. Then again, it isn’t Sony’s fault that a hacker broke into their site. That said, they should have anticipated it. On the other hand, there are some very talented hackers out there… we could go back and forth on the subject all day, if we wanted. Fact is, it happened. We don’t know the extent of the damage yet, but I think most PSN users are holding their

breath just a little, and hoping that they manage to remain anonymous within the massive amount of data that was stolen. And we’re all very keen to see how Sony deal with the issue. The hack happened, leaving the PlayStation giant’s response as the next important factor in the situation. So, if you’re sitting there worrying about identity theft and the like, we hope we can distract you for a little while with this issue. We’d like to tell you that everything will be fine but, as much as we believe that, time will tell. What we can say is that, if you are a PSN user, be vigilant. Watch for any odd behaviour associated with your name. But most of all, try not to stress out – that won’t really solve anything. g

Please be patient... We’re having a rough month...

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Stat! Unstuck

by Charlie Fripp

W

ith the whole PSN debacle, it has produced some very interesting statistics about video games, and with one thing leading to another, I did some digging on statistics of the video game industry as a whole. Everybody knows that video games are one of the most profitable industries in the world, but I’m sure that not a lot of people fully grasp its immense size. Just for starters, at the beginning of 2010, the Xbox has sold over 37 million units worldwide, with the PlayStation 3 selling just over 31 million. The biggest seller so far is without a doubt the Nintendo Wii, almost doubling the Xbox sale, with over 65 million units. Nintendo also has the upper hand when it comes to handheld consoles, with the DS selling 124 million units, as opposed to 55 million units for the PSP. The best-selling console at the start of 2010 was the PS2, totalling 125 million units. Out of interest, 114 DS titles have each sold over a million units. With consoles comes games, and

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a lot of gamers invest thousands of dollars every year just to further their hobby. To no surprise, 42% of the games sold on the market are rated E for Everyone, while 28% are for Teens and 15% are for mature audiences. Those statistics are interesting, but what is more surprising, is the fact that the average age of a gamer is 32 years old, and that 40% of players are actually female. The age distribution of gamers can roughly be divided into three sections, with 49% of players being between 18 and 49 years old, 26% over 50 and 25% under 18 years old. With major retailers also selling used games, the market has been growing relatively quickly over the last couple of years. In the US, the average price of a second-hand game is about $20, with the used-games market bringing in about $2 billion every year. Also, about 47.3 million players buy used games every year. Although we don’t have a GameStop in South Africa, about 69% of players buy their second hand games from this retailer, while just

over 20% of them buy their games online from eBay. Speaking of eBay, over a million Xbox games have been sold on the website, while PS3 games rank in at about 900 000 units. It seems as though buying through eBay might not be such a bad idea, as 29% of buyers ranked the games as being in a brand new condition, while 28% said they were like new. Only 6% said that their condition was “okay”. To date, Nintendo games have sold more used copies on eBay than any other publisher, taking the number one spot at 704 000, while Electronic Arts sits at about 650 000. Another shocking thing about the power of the internet is that 13 games are sold on eBay every minute. Data from 11 used game retailers showed that 60% of core gamers buy second-hand games, and 42% of core players trade in their titles once they are done. Of all the core gamers, only a fraction (5%) goes on to sell their used games on eBay. And what is the most popular game to be sold second-hand? Well, it’s the mammoth hit from 2008, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, selling over 50 000 units for the Xbox on eBay alone. Wii Fit Plus and the PS3 version Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 each raked in over 32 000 units sold. With all the selling and swapping going on, there is also bound to be a couple of bargains. The most expensive game to ever be sold on eBay was the NES version of Stadium Events, which went for a whopping $41 300. The Atari 2600’s Air Raid fetched $31 600, while Nintendo Campus Challenge sold for an amazing $20 100. g

g a m e c c a c o l u m n • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


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National Geographic Challenge! © 2010-2011 Leader S.p.A. Published by Leader S.p.A. Black Bean is a registered trademark of Leader S.p.A. All rights reserved. Developed by Gusto Games Limited. Gusto and the Gusto logo are trademarks of Gusto Games Limited. Content licensed from National Geographic is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. “National Geographic Challenge!”, “Nat Geo”, “National Geographic” and the Yellow Border Design are trademarks of National Geographic; used with permission. “ “, “PlayStation”, “PS3”, “ “ and “ “ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ “ is a trademark of the same company. Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Wii is a trademark of Nintendo.


Feature

Play Well

Combining everyone’s favourite toys and movies… by Walt Pretorius

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M

any of us have very fond memories of hours spent, during childhood, playing with brightly coloured plastic blocks bearing the LEGO logo. In fact, there are even some of us who still have a fascination with LEGO construction sets, ranging from the most basic block sets through to amazingly technical and intricate specialist sets. This fascination probably stems from the extremely clever universal system that LEGO takes with making their products… virtually everything they make is interchangeable and useable with everything else. In 1932, during the Great depression, a Danish woodworker named Ole Kirk Christiansen began making toys in a workshop that he had purchased in 1916. It was a hard time for the toy-maker and his staff, but after his son, Godtfred, began working with him, he decided to revitalise his business. Part of it was running a competition for a name among his employees… although, in the end, he chose his own suggestion. Based on the Danish phrase leg godt, which mean ‘play well’, he names his company LEGO in 1934. It wasn’t until after World War II, though, that LEGO moved away from wooden toys, like piggy banks, pull cars and yoyos to use a new, now-commonly available material: plastic. In 1947, LEGO purchased an injection moulding machine. It wasn’t until two years later that the company started producing the predecessors of today’s LEGO bricks. Despite problems with initial consumer response to plastics, the idea took hold, and by the 1960s, LEGO was a well-known brand. And it has continued to expand since. LEGO now encompasses a broad variety of product ranges, from blocks for younger kids through to highly technical construction kits aimed at an older market, and everything in between. The fascination with LEGO is all over – there are even theme parks with massive structures, mimicking real world buildings, constructed entirely of these amazingly versatile plastic blocks. Perhaps it was this versatility, combined with the fact that LEGO started producing play sets based on other franchises (like Star Wars and Harry Potter) in the late 1990s that caused another company to take the idea of LEGO, with all its modular versatility, a step further. But it took Traveller’s Tales a bit longer than that to start producing the products they are perhaps

g a m e c c a fe at u r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

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Feature

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best known for today – the ever increasing series of LEGO video games. Founded in 1989, it wasn’t until 2005 that the British software developer released its first LEGO title. In the 16 years inbetween, they produced a number of other games. Working with a variety of software publishers, including SEGA, Disney Interactive, SCEI, Activision, Midawy, THQ and Vivendi Universal Games, Traveller’s Tales brought 17 titles to the market before they got round to the whole LEGO thing. These games included a number based on movie franchises, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Toy Story 1 and 2, A Bug’s Life and the Muppets. They also produced some games for the Sonic and Crash Bandicoot franchises, amongst others. In 2005, Traveller’s Tales released WRC (for the PSP), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, F1 Grand Prix and, of course, LEGO Star War: The Video Game. The response to the title was massive, and a year later, LEGO Star Wars II: The original Trilogy hit the shelf. This game, too met with incredible success… so much so that the company reworked the code for the first game (which was made for PS2 and the original Xbox) and rereleased it as part of LEGO: Star Wars: The Complete Saga just a year later. The idea of playing through the plots of well-loved films, recreated in a LEGO universe, obviously struck a chord with gamers the world over. The modified plots poked fun at the originals, and the tongue in cheek physical humour of the titles appealed to many. There were no spoken words in any of these games, and yet they managed to remind those who had seen the films on which they were based of the events in those movies more or less perfectly. After the release of the third LEGO Star Wars game (even though it wasn’t marked as LEGO Star Wars III) Traveller’s Tales focus shifted entirely. While there are some titles in their stable after 2007 that don’t bear the LEGO name, these amount to literally three games… out of the dozen released after 2007. In 2008, the company added a new license to their growing LEGO franchise. Still sticking with properties belonging to Lucas Films, Traveller’s Tales introduced us to LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Instead of the Star Wars heroes, players could now take on the role of a LEGO version of Indiana Jones in this new franchise branch. The same year saw g a m e c c a fe at u r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

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Feature

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Traveller’s Tales form a relationship with Warner Interactive, with the release of LEGO Batman: The Video Game. In 2009, the company released three LEGO related titles: LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (in time for the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), LEGO Battles and – using a license but departing from the movie theme – LEGO Rock Band. The large number of LEGO games was, in the eyes of some, becoming a little stale, despite small new addition and ideas added to the titles. But it was 2010’s only LEGO release, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (once again in partnership with Warner Brothers) that saw a big injection of fresh ideas into the franchise. Despite a lukewarm reception, the game brought many new and exciting ideas to the franchise, while still sticking to the tried and tested formula used for LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. This year, Traveller’s Tales have already released the official third LEGO Star Wars title (LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, reviewed in this issue), and have brought a second LEGO Battles game, LEGO Battles: Ninjago, to the market. Later this month, they will be adding yet another licensed branch to their stable, and one that is highly anticipated… LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is a title that fans of the franchise and movies have been looking forward to. This new collaboration with Disney interactive sees the well-known and well-loved characters from these films transformed as only Traveller’s Tales can do. It will be released shortly before the fourth film (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and takes this new tale of Jack Sparrow and his companions on as one of its chapters. You can find a review of that title in this issue as well. Where they might go in the future is uncertain. We had a bit of a brainstorm in the Gamecca office, and came up with some ideas we’d like to see… LEGO James Bond, LEGO Jurassic Park, LEGO The Matrix, LEGO Terminator, LEGO Back to the Future, LEGO Battlestar Galactica, LEGO Lost (only if they ignore the last season) and LEGO Spider-Man. What is certain, though, is that Traveller’s Tales have struck an excellent balance in the combination of well-loved movies and awesome toys, meshed together with great graphics and a thoroughly addictive game dynamic. We say, keep ‘em coming… g g a m e c c a fe at u r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

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Previews Highlights 18 Duke Nukem Forever The Duke’s coming! 20 Dirt 3 Hit the back roads 22 Dead Island A zombie holiday 26 Call of Juarez: The Cartel The modern Wild West 32 UFC Personal Trainer Get fit the MMA way

W

ith E3 2011 just around the corner, there is a lot of anticipation about what will be announced for the remainder of the year. It’s like a big reveal show these days, and a large number of titles will be punted for release around the Christmas season. But with that comes the fact that many companies hold back on their announcements. It’s annoying for mags like us, who like to keep a steady stream of short, informative previews heading our readers’ way. But that’s the industry... what are you gonna do? Still, we have amanged to uneart ten titles to talk about this month... and some of them are really hot stuff! g

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© 2011 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Screen images are simulated.

INCREDIBLE DEPTH FOR THE ULTIMATE GAMING EXPERIENCE.

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Experience real-life depth with the new Samsung 3D LED monitor.

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*3D glasses are required and are included with purchase.


Duke Nukem Forever

Forever and Beyond! The Duke’s making his big comeback…

I

t made history and it could just change it again. Now “it’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gum.” Such one liners made Duke Nukem a household name. Since the birth of the first Duke Nukem game and the sequels that followed – particularly Duke Nukem 3D – he has proven to be a popular (if brash and crude) hero. And the long awaited Duke Nukem finally has a release date. The game play seems the same as the older version (Duke Nukem 3D, that is); kick alien ass and a lot of it. With puzzles to get the gamer’s mind juices pumping, you

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Dylan Bouch

might just find yourself climbing up walls, literally! The health meter has been swopped over with Duke’s ego bar. To increase this meter the gamer must sign autographs, shoot hoops, lift weights, read adult magazines… that’s if you’re not killing aliens with your over sized weapons. The graphics seem really good and could make Duke Nukem, which is already a great game, a brilliant one, although I have heard a few people say that Duke Nukem is only a cool game for the one-liners and won’t have anything on modern shooting games. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Gearbox Publisher: 2K Games Distributor: Megarom g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Jun 2011 Platforms

The long awaited - REALLY long awaited - sequel is almost upon us. And we’re sure it’s gonna rock.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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Dirt 3

Mud and Snow Codies’ rally king gets ready for a rerun…

A

handful of years ago Codemasters worked at revitalising the Colin McRae franchise by creating a rally game that was a little less stuffy and a lot more fun than anything the series had seen before. It was called Dirt, and it brought with it a whole bunch of new ideas and approaches to the rally game genre. The first Dirt game was well received, despite the fact that it had a few problems. And so, like always in this beloved gaming industry of ours, a sequel arrived. Dirt 2 showed massive improvements over the first game, and presented the player with an even more engaging and engrossing rally driving experience. The extreme nature of rallying was played up in the title, turning the game into one dedicated to an adrenaline fuelled sport, rather than a largely technical one. Now Dirt 3 is on the way – it should be here any day now – and it looks like the game will once again be going the adrenaline route. But it is also going back to a number of more traditional ideas that remind one of the franchise’s

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by Walt Pretorius

roots. Dirt 3 will offer the player more than 100 routes in nine locations dotted around the globe. With these come night and snow races, too, adding even more excitement and challenge to the experience. In addition, a new Gymkhana Mode, inspired by Ken Block’s freestyle driving event, will thrill players with a new kind of challenge. A bunch of cars, spanning fifty years of rallying, will be available for play on tracks in America, Europe and Africa. A new damage model will help keep things looking and feeling real, although a flashback facility (that rewinding of time that is becoming so popular in racing titles) will remove a bit of realism. The title will even feature a facility that will allow players to upload videos of their best runs directly to YouTube. This series certainly has come far in the relatively short time it has been around, and it looks like – with the release of Dirt 3 – it will be moving from strength to strength. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Codemasters Distributor: Megarom g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

May 2011 Platforms

It looks like it will be an exciting next instalment in the Dirt franchise – a must for rally fans.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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Dead Island

Open Season

Bringing the undead to a holiday resort

W

e have all tried to take out as many zombies as possible with wonderful combinations of homemade weapons, but Techland’s latest title is sure to put a different spin on the land of the infested. Techland – who last developed Call of Juarez: The Cartel and Nail’d – will transport the player to the fictional city Banoi in Papua New Guinea, where they will have to literally fight for their lives. After a night a heavy partying, the player and three other characters wake up only to find that the island has been over-run by zombies. The player will then have to defend the other survivors, while completing certain tasks, in order to survive the infected onslaught. In terms of the exact plot, not a lot is known about the game, but judging from screen shots and the accompanying experience- and skill tree system, it seems as though it will closely resemble the Dead Rising franchise – which is never a bad thing. While hacking zombies in itself is a difficult task, the developers also confirmed that players will have to use flashlights in areas of darkness, which will add a bit more suspense to the already-thrilling title. And just like Dead Rising 2, players will be able to

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by Charlie Fripp

fashion their own weapons with bits and bobs from around the open-world. Vehicles can also be used to kill the zombies, which can be customised, while the core of the title will focus on melee combat and RPG elements. Techland have also upgraded their game engine, opting to use Chrome Engine 5 in favour of version 4. What that means is that the game will have a very complex and dynamic weather system, to the point where water will evaporate when exposed to sunlight for a long time. In return, the amount of water evaporated will determine the amount of clouds, which will directly influence the amount of sunlight in the title, which is used for water evaporation. Factors like humidity, time of day, season and temperature will all work together to determine the amount of rain, hail, fog or snow. The new engine will also breathe new life into the undead. The zombies will feature fully-modelled layers of meat and muscle, giving them real-time injuries and a multi-layered damage system. It’s sure to be a great addition to the zombie genre, and with the success of the Dead Rising franchise, Dead Island might just get a few things right that players have been asking for in an open-world. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Techland Publisher: Deep Silver Distributor: Apex Interactive g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Aug 2011 Platforms

Bearing resemblance to Dead Rising, the title has fairly big of zombiekilling shoes to fill.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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“IT FEELS LIKE BOLD NEW GROUND FOR THE RACING GENRE”

IGN


24.05.11

WWW.DIRT3GAME.COM

13 ©2010TheCodemastersSoftwareCompanyLimited(“Codemasters”).Allrightsreserved.“Codemasters”®,“EGO”®,theCodemasterslogoand“DiRT”®areregisteredtrademarksownedbyCodemasters.“DiRT3”™isatrademarkofCodemasters.Allothercopyrightsortrademarksarethepropertyoftheirrespective ownersandarebeingusedunderlicense.ThisgameisNOTlicensedbyorassociatedwiththeFIAoranyrelatedcompany.DevelopedandpublishedbyCodemasters.Microsoft,Windows,theWindowsVistaStartbutton,Xbox,Xbox360,XboxLIVE,andtheXboxlogosaretrademarksoftheMicrosoftgroupofcompanies, ” and “À” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and ‘Games for Windows’ and the Windows Vista Start button logo are used under license from Microsoft. “2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3”, “


A gun, a badge and a bad attitude

by Dion Scotten

T

he Call of Juarez series are famous for their western authentic feel and for bringing a gritty touch to the fantasy heroes of the old west. Call of Juarez: The Cartel brings something new in the form of a modern American backdrop, instead of the traditional Wild West setting. Players will be able to play the campaign as one of three available characters, allowing for campaign replay and seeing the story from each different perspective. The available characters are the young FBI agent Kim Evans, the typical DEA operative type Eddie Guerra and the tough as nails LAPD cop Ben McCall. The characters on both sides of the law are staged as the descendants of the original Call of Juarez characters, sharing similar names and mannerisms.

There’s always a bit of mistrust when it comes to westerns set in the modern era. Can Techland keep the wild west feel and not lose control to a typical modern shooter environment? We’ll just have to see. A wide selection of modern guns will be available so it will be difficult… the difference will need to come from story delivery but in the end a diehard cowboy fan probably won’t care too much anyway. Three player co-op mode is promised, allowing players to experience the campaign with friends and, if done right, should bring a fun replayable element to the game. I’m personally looking forward to this one if not only to play as Ben McCall, the bible quoting cowboy bad-ass and descendent of the original preacher. g

AT A GLANCE: Modern western mayhem… should be a must for fans of the Call of Juarez series. Developer: Techland Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

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Jul 2011 Platforms

Call of Juarez:The Cartel

The Right to Remain Silent

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


PowerUp Heroes

Avatar Face-Off I like your suit, but it looks better on me.

by Alexia Pestana

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eveloped by Longtail Studios, PowerUp Heroes lets players transform their Xbox 360 avatar into a custom superhero to face off in a fight against the forces of evil. Using Kinect technology for more than showing what the hardware can do, this game actually looks… fun! Some of the features include: You are the Superhero – Live out your dreams of becoming the ultimate hero by transforming your Xbox 360 avatar into a superhero, infusing it with powers and unleashing it to feel power like never before. Collect up to 20 Super Suits – Take on opponents each

charged with a different set of deadly powers. Beat them in battles to seize their super suits, strip them of their abilities and wield their power for your next battle. Full Body Brawl – Use your entire body to control how you fight: Strike forward to launch projectiles, move your body to dodge attacks and have a friend hop in and unleash double-powered super assaults. Take the Fight Online – Battle it out solo, in two-player versus or go online to face off against other aspiring super heroes. Display your dominance with the online leader boards and your achievements. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Longtail Studios Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Jun 2011 Platforms

Taking arcade fighting style to the next level, where players actually participate fully.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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Supremacy MMA

No Rules

Stories of real underground fighters by Dion Scotten

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hether you love or hate mixed martials arts, it’s here to stay. MMA is a professional sport today, but illegal fights are not just part of its origin. In fact they are being held in backyards, barns, basements and nightclubs as rising fighters try to make money and a name for themselves. Supremacy MMA brings this other side to the player who follows an underground fighter’s journey to fame and fortune, the plot driven by the chosen fighter’s individual rise to the top. Famous fighters will be playable including, for the first time, some real modern female MMA champions. The developers, Kung Fu Factory, want the game to deliver a

bloody and brutal account of what real MMA is all about. Supremacy MMA will feature authentic fighting styles including Karate, Judo, Muay Thai, Wrestling and Jujitsu. Also players will earn XP from matches which they can then use to develop their character after each fight. The fighting itself is promised to be fluid and realistic featuring “blood, breaks, snaps, tears and MMA pain”. Yes, there will be finishing moves too. The view won’t be the same old either, with more exotic scenery available than just the normal boring hex cage. Over all this looks like an awesome game and an exciting change to the ‘safe’ and slightly limp MMA we’re getting used to. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Kung Fu Factory Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

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Jun 2011 Platforms

An exciting new addition to the MMA fold featuring brutal cage fighting, with finishing moves instead of tap outs.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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A Distributed Exclusively by Apex Interactive Tel: (011) 796 5040 www.apexint.co.za Email: sales@apexint.co.za All rights and trademarks and logos are copyright of their respective owners.

Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. The “PS” Family logo is a registered trademark and “PS3” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. The PlayStation Network Logo is a service mark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3

Mecha!

Giant robot suits doing battle? Yes please! by Walt Pretorius

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f you know anything about anime – even if you just watch a bit of it every now and then – you probably know something about the concept of Gundam. These giant battle robot suits have captured the hearts and minds of fans for more than 30 years, so it’s little wonder that there are a few games out there that allow players to pilot mighty mecha. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is such a game. It will allow the player to pilot more than 70 mobile suits from the Gundam universe, with 50 characters that can also

be controlled. All of these will, naturally, be upgradable. The anime inspired graphics will be presented in a cel-shaded style, adding to the illusion that the player is actually taking part in the series. The developers are promising hundreds of hours of gameplay – which would be a nice change these days – and a deep, engaging story supported by a whole bunch of new, improved game-play systems. Fans of Gundam will probably want to keep an eye out for this one. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Tecmo Publisher: KOEI Distributor: TBC

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Jun 2011 Platforms

A must for fans, this latest instalment promises hundreds of hours of game-play.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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“‰”, “PlayStation”, “PLAYSTATION”, “ ”, “PS3” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “SONY” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. “make.believe” is a trademark of the same company. “Blu-ray Disc” and “BD” are trademarks. White Knight Chronicles™ ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Developed by Level 5. “White Knight Chronicles” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved. *Broadband internet service required. Users are responsible for broadband access fees. Charges apply for some content. PlayStation®Network and PlayStation®Store subject to terms of use and not available in all countries and languages. Users under 18 require parental consent.


UFC Personal Trainer

No Bruises But lots of fitness

by Walt Pretorius

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FC is a pretty big thing these days… there are soon going to be three gaming franchises allowing players to enter the octagon and do some damage to their opponents. That’s more than boxing gets. But there’s another game coming – or software, really – based on UFC that takes one of the most important aspects of the sport into account: fitness. For those of you who (like me) wouldn’t mind getting fit the UFC way – without getting smashed in the face a lot – THQ are releasing UFC Personal Trainer.

The player will be able to choose their own trainer from the likes of UFC hotshots like Javier Mendez, Mark Della Grotte and Greg Jackson. They will then be able to undertake prescribed or custom fitness routines, using exercises based on mixed martial arts. Not only that, but they will also learn a few martial arts moves in the process. It might not be the perfect way to become a top UFC combatant, but it will certainly burn calories, increase fitness and strengthen the player’s core. Fitness fans and MMA enthusiasts will get a kick out of the combat inspired routines, no doubt. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Heavy Iron Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor

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Jun 2011 Platforms

A workout system inspired by MMA, this one will likely get you sweating like crazy.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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Air Conflicts: Secret Wars

Among the Clouds Helping the resistance in the air

by Walt Pretorius

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light simulators are always fun… even the arcade style ones. In fact, one could argue that the arcade games could be more fun (unless the player is a flight sim enthusiast) because the minimised technicality of the game means that the player won’t constantly be flying into the ground. Whichever way you like it, Air Conflicts: Secret Wars will provide you with the opportunity to fly in seven different campaigns. At this point, things get a little unclear… some statements made by the developers refer to World War II, while others refer to World War I and II. Either

way, there will be a lot of air combat in these campaigns, which will see the player siding with resistance movemens like People’s Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, The Polish Armia Krajowa, and the French Maquis. Players will be able to pilot more than 16 authentic aircraft, and will be able to upgrade skills between the 49 missions. These missions will include dog fights, bombing runs and more. Flight game fans may want to look out for this one… it might be a diamond-in-the-rough. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: bitcomposer Publisher: Kalypso Distributor: Nu Metro g a m e c c a p r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Q2 2011 Platforms

This one may go either way, realistically, but it is potentially a good long arcade flight game.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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No, seriously…

by Walt Pretorius

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ell, here’s something you don’t see every day. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen one of these. This is the most original concept I have seen in years… even though its basis is in some other great gaming ideas. Michael Phelps, for those who don’t know, is a top notch swimmer. So when his name gets attached to a game, it’s hardly going to be a golf simulator. Nope, it’s a swimming simulator – or, if you prefer, a swim-sim.

It is up to the player to master different swimming strokes and techniques in this rather original title. It won’t throw you into the deep end, though – Michael Phelps himself will oversee the player’s training as they work their way towards becoming a professional swimmer. Being a Kinect title, the player may feel a little like a fish out of water (literally) but one thing is guaranteed – this game will give you an awesome work-out, as well as a challenging career as a (virtual) professional swimmer. g

AT A GLANCE: Michael Phelps will help the player become a top-notch (virtual) swimmer. Developer: Blitz Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

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Jun 2011 Platforms

Michael Phelps: Push the Limit

Swim-Sim

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS 3DS

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Rules of Derangement PS Zealot

by Suvesh Arumugam

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hey say no news is good news, but not so the case of the flailing Playstation Network! Sony’s unprecedented data meltdown, which has caused the Playstation Network and all online gaming on the PS console to cease for over two weeks now, will eventually cost the company billions of dollars. The outage, now blamed on external hackers, could have potentially compromised the security of the network and its 70 million plus users. Sony has promised that the network should be up within a week, but it must certainly have sent some shockwaves through Japan. And surely there can’t be a worse time than Easter weekend! I had neglected my online community for a while, so I got a chance recently to re-connect to the PS Network just before it went down. Unfortunately, none of my old comrades were at arms at the time, so I battled it out solo, mostly on COD Black Ops Zombies. As much fun as it is to blast and dismember the living dead, dealing with other people’s online habits can be rather unsavoury. The worst has got to be the guys who run from window to window in the first room, trying to get in front of you to score points. Or worse, rebuild a window that you’ve painstakingly staked out and cleared, particularly in the early rounds when there aren’t many windows to build. The game limits the amount you can score from building anyway, so why be a cyberdweeb? Worse still has got to be those guys, who for some reason have billions of points,

who sit in front of the random gun like it’s a menu at McDonalds! There are flesh-eating ghouls trying to eat my brain, I think we need big guns! Much like the guy at McDad’s, there is much we can do except jump up and down, and maybe abuse them verbally (if you have your headset or PS Eye connected). First looks at Rockstar Games LA Noire look absolutely breathtaking! The story is a Mike Hammer/ Maltese Falcon type cop adventure, the hero is a homicide detective in LA just after World War II. Like Grand Theft Auto, there is an overall storyline, connected by mini-stories, in this case homicides and crimes that the detective must solve. Like Heavy Rain, there will be clues and random conversations that will reveal information and locations to solve the cases, with various decisions and actions influencing the sequence of events, accessing certain sequences and endings. The graphics look amazing and the gameplay is far more intense than at first glance. It seems like you literally have to solve crimes, from interviewing witnesses

(and determining if they are being truthful based on facial expressions and previously collected evidence), to examining crime scenes and busting up bad guys. Add some car chases and gunfights, and you’ve got some really pretty cool action! As much as I enjoyed Heavy Rain, I felt it missed a little action, so maybe LA Noire will scratch that itch! Capcom announced several new titles and upcoming releases at their Captivate 2011 Trade Show. New previews of Asura’s Wrath, Dead Rising 2; Off the Record, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. One title which caught my eye is Dragon’s Dogma, whose production team include previous directors and producers of the Devil May Cry series. Set in a Lord of the Rings type fantasy world, this is not the usual “hack and slash” we see from EA. This a complex open-world fantasy, with everything from swordplay and archery to flying griffins and exploding goblins. But we’ll have to wait until next year to play this adventure! g

HACKED!

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ME NSHIP VIDEOGA RLD CHAMPIO O W E D IK RB AN PE RY THE FIM SU REVOLUTIONA CK! AFTER THE Y TO BRING AD RE IS COMING BA IS NE TO N K®X, MILES CING GENRE O ACCLAIMED SB IECE IN THE RA RP COMING TE UP AS E M R TH H HE ANOT 0 AND PC, WIT 36 OX XB E 3, IK N ATE MOTORB PLAYSTATIO 11, THE ULTIM 20 K® SB F O E RELEAS RACING GAME.

GAME FEATURES: , 3D : LIGHTING EFFECTS, PHYSICS GRAPHICS IMPROVEMENTS ION BLUR: NOW MOT S, DOW SHA S, ION CHARACTERS, ANIMAT ACCURATE! EVERYTHING IS INCREDIBLY AGE MODE ALLOWS YOU TO MAN CAREER MODE: THE CAREER MORE A TO TEST E DRIV PLE SIM YOUR TEAM, FROM A ION COMPLEX BIKE CUSTOMIZAT TRY TO UND THE WORLD MAP AND SBK® TOUR: TRAVEL ARO FINAL STAGE THE CH REA TO , GES LLEN BEAT DIFFERENT CHA ILABLE PRIZES. AND UNLOCK ALL THE AVA ES, FIRST TIME IN THE SBK SERI PHOTO SHARING: FOR THE R BEST YOU OF S URE PICT E TAK YOU’RE NOW ABLE TO IAL RE YOUR CONTENTS VIA SOC PERFORMANCES AND SHA NETWORK

SUPERBIKE FIM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

SBK®2011 © 2011 Leader S.p.a. Published by Leader S.p.a. Black Bean is a registered trademark of Leader S.p.a. Developed by Milestone S.r.l. All rights reserved. All manufacturers, motorcycles, names, brands and associated imagery featured in this game are trademarks and/or copyrighted materials of their respective owners. SBK®, SBK FIM Superbike World Championship®, WSS, FIM Supersport World Championship, Superstock(tm) 1000 FIM Cup, Superstock , Superpole® are registered trademarks of Infront Motor Sports License S.r.l. Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. “ ”, “PlayStation ”, “PS3” and “ “ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” is a trademark of the same company. ALL IMAGES ARE WORK IN PROGRESS - LIVERIES AND SPONSORS FOR PROMOTION ONLY.


A Thief in the Night Xbox Beat

by Bryan Banfield

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verybody hates to lose. Losing can take the fun right out of any game. We play video games to win. I have yet to meet anyone on Xbox LIVE that is there to be someone else’s cannon fodder. It simply is not in us to lay down and have others just walk all over us. The worst is when we lose and we know that we had better skill and should have won that game or round. Smack talk has gained a new army with the growth on online multiplayer games and Xbox LIVE is no different. The insults are flung around as carelessly as spent bullet shells. I too was one of these Xbox LIVE players. Losing drove me mad. I only played to win. Losing was no option and when we didn’t win it was always someone else’s fault. My ego was not allowed to be damaged in a Gears game, Street Fighter bout or on the race track. The worst was when I came up against an opponent that I could never win against. That drove me mental. He enjoyed his win and I hated him more for it. Brian would always ask me: “What did you learn from that?” “I learned nothing Brian, you beat me, I can’t seem to win.” In the end I began to shy away from certain games because I associated that loss to that specific Xbox title. And I definitely did not want to experience another loss at Brian’s hands. It was not until I stopped focussing on my own ego and started to listen to him that my gaming took on a new life. I did start to focus on what I learned from that loss. Why did he beat me? What did he do differently?

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Did I even learn anything at all? Then came the best advice of all. Steal everything! This does not mean that when you lose you walk off with your friend’s console. It sure would make it easier as he would not be able to play again and so would not be able to beat you, but you get my drift. I began to steal everything I could in a game. I stole with my eyes and my ears. I watched my opponent play. I watched my team mates in Bad Company 2. I focused on the way my opponent passed in Fifa11. I was a digital thief and I was out to take everything. I can now tell you that I am a fully recovered loser. I now see the silver line that comes from a defeat and can congratulate my opponent in my defeat. It has changed my experience

online and most of all I am far less under stress when competing on Xbox LIVE. As I have mentioned in past columns, getting your game to the level it needs to be to hold your own online in no easy feat. It takes time and the learning curves can be steep, but the enjoyment factor can be far better if you calm down and begin stealing. The added bonus is that you can save your friends and family from more of those terrible four letter words. Enjoy your new horizon of online play. Our service is still up and running and you can bet your bottom dollar that Microsoft is stealing with their eyes and ears right about now. It’s all out there for the taking. So come on... Jump in! g

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Get Wired! House of Mario

by Brian Murdoch

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got a really nice present the other day from Apex Interactive. Something that I have wanted since I first started playing online with my Nintendo Wii. It was only available through import sites and I did not know enough about it to spend the money and get one. I can say now that it is worth the price on its head. The present is a Logic 3 Ethernet Adapter for the Wii. It’s USB plugs into one of the two USB ports in the back of the Wii and the

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Ethernet connection needs to be filled with a network cable, most of the time connected to the ADSL router. There should be two responses to this piece of hardware, first “I can already connect my Wii via WiFi and it seems to work just fine”. Second, “I now will have no issues with sharing connections via my PC or getting this Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector to work”. For those feeling that their wireless solution is just fine, imagine if it was better! The Wireless speed is almost always slower than the Ethernet speed, let alone the unstable fact that if a microwave is turned on within 100 meters of the WiFi connection it drops! The speed of your internet service provider will decide the ultimate connection speed but why get a slow connection to that point? The true joy that comes from having a better connection to the internet on the Wii is not limited with the online gameplay. Yes those Conduit, Golden Eye and COD online multiplayer games will be better with less, or no, lag, but what else does it give me? The Wii Shopping Channel and the Nintendo Channel are great additions to the Wii, but they do require WiiConnect24. WiiConnect24 is the online service that Nintendo provide to only certain countries, so you will

have to change yours from South Africa to the UK. Instruction on how to do this can be found on www. NintendoGamer.co.za. Once this has been done and the WiiConnect24 agreement in the Wii settings has been accpeted, your Wii will be upgraded! In the Wii Shopping Channel games can be bought and downloaded straight onto the Wii. It takes time to browse through the list of games that they have available on there and there are new ones that get added every week! If paying is not an option, or you would like to get them for free, then follow the Connection Ambassador Program and received credits for helping people. In the shopping channel, more channels can be downloaded and my favourite has become the Nintendo Channel. This self-branded channel actually needs to be broken up into different channels because of all that it offers. DS Demos can be downloaded and played on your DS, game information can be found, with trailers that will download and can be watched through your Wii, and much more. The best feature in this channel is the one that my new accessory helps the most with. Nintendo TV is a weekly show to just keep us fan-boys up-to-date with the things happening around the world with Nintendo. I use to have to click to start buffing the video and go do something and come back to watch it. At times if I did not come back before it finished I would have to start again, but no more. The USB Ethernet connection allows me to stream while watching with no lag what-so-ever… the way that it should be. With wire is just better than without. g

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clic her k e fo r Pa

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You won’t only find reviews, news and great community features at www.nintendogamer.co.za. You will also find extremely informative FAQs all about the Wii & DS platforms, and the games you can play on them. At www.nintedogamer.co.za, we want to make sure that the most accurate information & support is free and easy to find.

www.nintendogamer.co.za


And the Award Goes To... Gamecca’s new award system explained

Bronze Award

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t may seem like third prize, but the truth is that a Bronze Award from the Gamecca crew is nothing to scoff at. This award is given to games that score between 80 and 89 on our extremely technical and algebraically challenging rating system. Needless to say, Bronze Awards will be the most common ones you see. If a game has a Bronze Award attached to it, you should consider looking into it, particularly if you are a fan of the franchise or the genre it is part of. Now you know... g

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Silver Award

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f good games get Bronze Awards, great games get silver ones. Games that are rated between 90 and 95 by our panel of experts (well, self-proclaimed experts, actually) then it will get one of these babies. Silver Awards consitute a group of ‘must-play’ games for fans of the genre or franchise they are part of, and should be strongly considered by those that own one of the platforms they appear on. Silver Award games may not be the best of the best, but they are certainly up there, and warrant at least a few more moments of consideration than others. g

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gamecca • review

Gold Award

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he best of the best get the coveted Gamecca Magazine Gold Award. Well, we’re hoping it will be coveted. We’re prety sure it will be... Games that score between 96 and... ok, well, in theory a game can never score a perfect 100, but you see what we’re saying. Let’s leave existentialism out of this, shall we? These are the games that should require no second thought, or no questions as to whether they need to be played. These games are essential. These are games you buy new platforms for. g

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Editor’s Choice

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he Editor’s Choice Award is not necessarily presented to a title according to score. Sure, a high scoring game might get one, but a low scoring game might get one too. They tend to be rare, though. Editor’s Choice Awards mark games that stand out for one reason or another. They are the Editor’s pick to play... and while he might not be in full possession of his mental faculties, letting him select his favourite titles and stick an award on them helps keep him quiet. Seriously, though, this award marks a title that might not be superior, but still stands out. g

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Reviews Highlights 46 LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Plastic blocks on the Seven Seas 54 Portal 2 Making holes and minding gaps 58 Shift 2: Unleashed Super speed 70 SOCOM: Special Forces Saving the world 86 WWE All Stars Wrestlemania time!

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nd so a huge bunch of games have arrived - so many that we had to keep some for the next issue! We’re still bringing you 25 game reviews to take a look at this month, so never fear... And the hits will keep coming, with several big name titles slated for release within the next couple of months. As always, we’ll be right there, pulling all nighters to make sure you get the best possible reviews we can deliver! g

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13 M ay 2011 th

www.legopirates. co.uk www.videogames. lego. com

The Pirates of the Caribbean © 2011 Disney. The Videogame software © 2011 TT Games Publishing Ltd. Produced by TT Games under license from the Lego Group and Disney. LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick and the Knob configurations and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. © 2011 The LEGO Group. Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS and Wii are trademarks of Nintendo. ©2011 Nintendo. “2”, “PlayStation”, “PSP” and “PS3” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” is a trademark of the same company. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft.

BUY NOW:

coming to cinemAs on 20th May 2011


LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Avast!

Johnny the LEGO man…

T

raveller’s Tales certainly have a very interesting niche market cornered. They have managed to bring four movie IPs to the gaming market, thanks to their unique LEGO spin on things; Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Batman (which is only arguably a movie IP) have all been given the little plastic block treatment. Now, another major movie property is joining the burgeoning ranks of the LEGO franchise: Pirates of the Caribbean. And, quite simply, it makes perfect sense to do so. These movies – and we’re making the assumption that the upcoming fourth film will be the same – feature the swashbuckling kind of adventure and varied locations that made LEGO games based on the others so appealing. That, along with a large cast of characters, makes a LEGO version of these particular movies something of a no-brainer. As before, Traveller’s Tales have gone with a different publisher for these games. It’s part of their rather smart business model, which allows them to gain access to numerous different IP subject matters. By keeping publishing rights close to the publisher, they

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by Walt Pretorius have managed to spread their net rather wide. This time around the publisher is Disney Interactive, and we all know that Disney is the movie studio behind Pirates of the Caribbean. With so many different LEGO games out there, Traveller’s Tales have their hands full with keeping things fresh. There was a stage, a few releases ago, when the games started getting pedantic and repetitive. But the release of LEGO Harry Potter marked a departure from the norm for the series, and breathed some new life into LEGO games in general. The same will probably be said for Pirates of the Caribbean. On the surface, it’s a lot like every other LEGO game out there – the player gets to wander around numerous large environments, trashing stuff, building stuff and collecting LEGO studs as they go along. As the game progresses, the player will be able to unlock new characters (which number around 100) and revisit previously played scenes to unlock new things with different character abilities. In fact, anyone who has played a LEGO game before will be able to get into the swing of things quite easily with

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this one. But, that said, Traveller’s Tales have managed to inject a number of fresh ideas into the game, making it something of a landmark for the LEGO franchise. We’ll get to those in a moment. First, it has to be mentioned that the developers did a sterling job with the presentation of the game. The graphics are great, with detailed backgrounds and complex levels providing the player with a wonderful experience. But the true genius is in the LEGO ‘conversion’ of the characters. Most of them are easily recognisable… and none more so than Jack Sparrow. In fact, this is probably the best treatment Traveller’s Tales have ever given a film character. From the way he moves – running with the same ‘hands-up-legskicking-forward motion’ that Johnny Depp used when playing the character – through to the voice. Sure, the characters don’t speak(they never do in these games) but every now and then the LEGO Jack Sparrow will issue and “oi” or “ey” or grunt that sounds spot-on. Naturally, it helps having seen the films before playing the game, just like with any LEGO title. There are tons of in-jokes, and the developers have taken liberties with the

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plots to make the games a little more enjoyable. That’s pretty usual. The game covers all four of the films, touching on major scenes and events along the way. For example, the player will, during the Legend of the Black Pearl section, experience the pirate attack on Port Royal, Jack assembling his crew in Tortuga, the assault of the Black Pearl on Jack’s stolen ship, Jack and Elizabeth being marooned on the rum-smuggler’s island, and so forth. The sequence of events is correct, and the player will easily be able to place events in the game in relation to the films, despite the changes that the developers have made. One of the new aspects added to the game is the size of the team the player can use. Whether playing as a single player, or multiplayer, pirates will task the player with controlling one of up to eight controllable characters in each mission. Naturally, players can jump between the characters as they wish, using a quick command or a radial character menu. In fact, the player will have to do this. Using just one character will mean that the player cannot effectively complete a mission.

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See, the characters all have unique abilities. Will can throw an axe, for example, and Jack can find extra things to do with his compass. Others can fire muskets, repair special objects, dig, jump higher and so on. The game will prompt when these different abilities are needed in a variety of ways, and the player will soon learn who needs to do what. Completing levels now requires a number of more complex tasks, and a bit more puzzling than previous titles. That’s one of the game’s short-falls. Every now and then, the lack of speech makes what the player is supposed to do a little unclear, and results in sometimes frustrating wandering around levels to try and figure out what needs to be done. Another new aspect to the game is the occasional use of ‘first-person’ cannon shooting. It’s a small thing, but it���s a good addition to the game. In fact, Pirates of the Caribbean is a great addition to the franchise overall. Aside from fresh ideas, it also adds a new IP to the series, bringing a whole lot of fresh environments and tasks for the player to perform. And,

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as always, it’s friendly enough to be great for the whole family, without compromising on challenge too much. It may be a little too challenging for youngsters from time to time, and even the parents that get asked for help may find themselves scratching their heads. That’s no deal-breaker, though; it’s a fantastically fun game that offers a lot of game time and tons of replay value. As always, there’re different things to collect and more than enough reasons to revisit previously played levels within the game’s four chapters. The vibrant characters and settings, as well as the quirky humour, add to this appeal even more. Most importantly, though, this game shows that Traveller’s Tales are still committed to producing games that at least have some freshness to them, rather than just churning out the same game with new characters over and over again. While they might have hit a bit of a stale patch before, it’s obvious that they have strapped on their thinking caps for the newer titles, adding even more appeal to already fun titles.LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean marks a new high point for this franchise. g

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A great new entry into the LEGO franchise, this title marks a new high point for it. Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Disney Interactive Distributor: Prima Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

84 49


Shogun 2:Total War

BANZAI!

‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory’ - Sun Tzu by Dion Scotten

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he Creative Assembly returns to Japan with Shogun 2: Total War and for many players it’s about time. Although each Total War release has been increasing better over the years, fans of the series have been waiting specifically for the sequel to Shogun. The reason is simply Japan itself, its rich culture and history for some… but for others it’s the birthplace of honour and martial brilliance. The Total War series is, of course, based on a turn based strategy system featuring real time tactical battles in between each turn. Shogun 2 gets it right again and fans of the series won’t be disappointed. Newcomers should be blown away by the introduction to possibly the best strategy warfare series ever made. Rome, Napoleon and Medieval were great but it’s quite enough of the European maps and landscapes for me…

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Japan is like a holiday. The original Shogun feel is there but with all the added goodness of the improvements made since. The menus and information panels are displayed in a brush-painted format, adding a Japanese art feel to the controls. Armies are represented as painted cards in the control panel and the fog of war is a simply drawn map until you explore the area and the terrain graphics are revealed. Even the general’s battle speech is in Japanese, thankfully, with subtitles, adding a nice touch to the authentic feel of the game. The individual unit details are impressive, featuring clan colours and detailed armour sets, samurai masks and colourful banners. The terrain and weather are also improved on so that trees do actually obscure hidden units from view. Weather conditions feature all the possibilities and lots of fog… also cherry blossoms are everywhere.

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The controls are simple and fluid with an encyclopaedia on hand in almost every screen and in the battles. The camera controls haven’t been changed much and are easy to use. The single player campaign is a simple concept. Warring clans have been battling for years, making alliances while positioning themselves for advantage, but no one clan has become powerful enough to rule over them all yet, of course. Players must choose a clan as their own and conquer Japan with or without honour. Ten clans are available in the game, however only nine are playable in the standard release; the Hattori clan who have a specialisation in assassin skills are only available with the limited edition. Each clan has their own advantage, so choose carefully when considering their position on the campaign map

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and the particular advantage they have. Clan advantages range from military bonuses, like increased morale on the battlefield and prowess in specific combat skills, to strategic advantages like faster movement, construction skills and reduced recruitment cost for certain units. The player assumes the position of Clan Warlord, making the decisions that will ultimately decide the fate of his clan. Unlike previous Total War releases, the general in Shogun 2 is a larger than life heroic figure and does not have just any soldier’s stats on the battlefield. He is a champion and earns XP in battle and gains skill points as he levels up. Each character, in fact, gains XP and players can upgrade their generals using an impressive skill tree. Clan management adds improved family controls and an easy to use family tree. Marriages can be arranged, children’s age can be tracked and commissions can be

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granted to generals to ensure their loyalty. Ninja and Geisha are available as strategic agents, offering skills as spies and assassins, as expected. Agents now also earn XP and skill points when they level up and have their own skill trees for customisation. Clan development is in the usual form of settlement upgrades, establishing alliances and trade routes. Natural catastrophes do occur, including earthquakes and tsunamis, but they don’t really have any effect on your progression. Automatic research does occur in the form of the ‘Mastery of the Arts’ and the player must direct the path of the technological progress of his clan. Two paths are available to the player, being Bushido (military) and the Way of Chi (economic) and each give a significant advantage. The troop types featured in Shogun 2 are made up of four categories, namely spear, sword and bow infantry;

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firearm units; cavalry; and stealth and siege units. Each category has basic and advanced troops to choose from and each unit gains experience in combat to become veterans over time. Land battles have all the features of the previous Total Wars with a little addition to the battle maps in the form of terrain and shallow rivers. As usual though, using the right unit at the right time is what will turn battles in your favour. Sieges are significantly different as the castles in Japan differ greatly to the European ones. Instead of impassable stone walls, castles are made up of tiers availing ‘kill areas’ for defending troops to slow and gather their attackers. Sea battles are focussed on out-manoeuvring your opponent and superior numbers… once again though it reminds me why I should just stay on land. Ships are less floating tanks with guns and more floating troop carriers.

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piece into a territory he wishes to conquer. The player preselects his army before invasion and an online matcher finds a human opponent to defend in the scenario. Victory must be obtained in order to receive the territory. General XP and other rewards are granted to the clan, which can be used by the player to customise his avatar. Shogun 2: Total War is value for money if only for the single player game and not all of the additional multiplayer options. The game is Steam activated but a constant online connection is not required unless you wish to play multiplayer. Fans of the series probably already have the game but if you haven’t yet, you won’t be sorry in adding it to the collection. What’s next for The Creative Assembly? Will we ever see a break from historical accuracy to a more fantasy setting? That would be awesome. g

AT A GLANCE: Strategy warfare excellence from The Creative Assembly, bringing the violent history of Japan to life. Developer: The Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

Arrow fire is a strong influence on battle outcomes and troop combat actually takes place on board ships. Away from the campaign, players can choose to play quick battles and select the battle type, army sizes and number of opponents to face. Land, sea or siege battles can be specifically selected and AI assistance can be requested. Additionally players can also choose to play one of four historically famous Japanese battles. Multiplayer offers a choice of taking part in multiplayer campaigns or an avatar conquest. Multiplayer campaigns involve two players only and can be setup as co-operative or competitive; campaigns end with the elimination of the other player. Avatar conquests involve the creation of a player avatar who represents the clan general and the establishment of a ‘kingdom map’. The kingdom map shows every territory in the Japanese islands and the players moves his clan

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

86 53


Portal 2

Make a Hole!

Portal 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece!

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t’s always a great thing when one good game leads to another. It happened with Half-Life and CounterStrike (yes, it was a good game, it was just the community’s attitude that ruined it.) And it sort of happened with Portal, a game that Valve released as part of the Orange Box game compilation that was released four years ago… seeing as how everything in the box was pretty much based on Half-Life 2. Portal struck a massive chord with gamers – probably a bit bigger than Valve expected – and, as a result, a stand-alone sequel has been released. And, from the chatter flying around, we’re pretty sure that this game, Portal 2, is going to be a massive success, too. The basic idea behind Portal 2 is extremely simple. The player is a test subject for Aperture Technologies, a somewhat mysterious, totally over-the-top research foundation. When the player enters the game, they have been in stasis for an indeterminate time, and the testing facility around them has fallen into disrepair. With the help of a small, rather amusing robot, the players make their escape from where they were ‘stored’, and have to begin completing tasks and tests to get out of the

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by Walt Pretorius

massive facility. That’s a very rough overview of the game. We don’t want to mention too much more, because there is a story to this one that, while mildly predictable, is still pretty amusing. In fact, humour is a big thing in Portal 2, and voice performances (of pre-recorded messages left by long gone scientists) by people like JK Simmons deliver more than a few chuckles and belly laughs as the game progresses. Jokes aside, though, the action in Portal is seriously unique. True, it follows on from the original Portal’s ideas, but (considering the mass of carbon copy games out there) it’s still pretty fresh overall. Presented in a first person perspective, the game does away with the one thing a player might expect in a title using this view-point: guns. There aren’t any here. Perhaps Valve are trying to prove a point about whether violence is necessary in a game to make it good, or even popular. Whatever the case may be, action fans might be a bit disappointed at the game’s lack of weapons. But that’s no reason to be, actually; what Portal 2 lacks in combat it makes up for with mind bending locational puzzling.

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Actually, the previous bit about guns is not entirely correct… the player does get a gun, of sorts. But, instead of bullets, rockets, mines, grenades, depleted uranium or radioactive poodles, this gun fires holes. Sort of. See, certain surfaces in the game allow the player to create portals in them. In general (from a few minutes into the game onwards) the portal gun allows the player to create two portals at a time; a blue one, and an orange one. Something that goes into the blue portal comes out of the orange portal, and vice versa. In the simplest terms, the player can traverse a bottomless chasm by creating a portal on either side, and simply walking through it. But there is, truthfully, nothing simple about Portal 2. The game leads the player through a series of puzzles, which range from being prescribed tests created by Aperture Technologes, through to being challenges of navigating areas where old structures have collapsed. Graphically, these areas are extremely impressive. From the sterile white test rooms through to the massive cavernous underground areas the player will have to get through, all of them look really, really good. The effects and animations that support them are also superb, making

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Portal 2 a visual feast that can, at times, be breath-taking. Supporting the visual presentation is the aforementioned excellent voice acting, as well as a great collection of sound effects and music. In terms of stimulating the senses, Portal 2 is masterful. But that’s not the only area in which this game shines: it’s pretty good at mental stimulation, too. So, back to the puzzles, then. Seeing as how these are the meat-and-bones of this title, the developers thought of many interesting ways in which to challenge the player. While the portal gun is something they carry with them wherever they go, the various testing chambers and environments provide the player with other elements that can be used to solve areas. These come in many forms. There are lens boxes that angle deadly laser beams onto reactive plates. There are bridges made of light. There are gravity wells that push the player in a certain directions. There is blue gel, which makes the character jump higher, orange gel that makes her run faster (yes, the character is a girl) and white gel that allows portals to be placed in areas where they previously could not have been placed. There are ton of items and substances like these, and they

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all help in solving puzzles. But the true brilliance here comes right back to the portals, and the way in which the player utilises them. See, the above items are all subject to the ‘science’ of portals. If one of the gels, for example, is sprayed into one portal, it will come pouring out of the other. Similarly, a light bridge extending into one will emerge and extend from the other. Added to this is the fact that physics play a part as well. If the character falls a long distance into one portal, she will emerge from the other at the same speed she was going when entering the first. This, as an example, means that the player can reach high platforms by taking a long fall first – she falls into the first portal at a high speed, and her momentum coming out of the second carries her high into the air. This is the kind of ‘out-the-box’ thinking that drives the whole game. Players will need to be observant, and strap their thinking caps on tightly… an almost hidden object or

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surface can make all the difference in this brain-bending title. Luckily the game isn’t overly keen on pressurising the player, and they can take their time solving the various tests and puzzles. I am not quick to say that a game is a ‘must-play’ title, because these things really are taste-driven. But Portal 2 is, in truth, such a game. It offers immense amounts of fun and challenge for the player, from its awesome puzzles right through to its quirky sense of humour. And not a single shot is fired for the whole thing. And co-operative play makes it even longer lasting (despite the fact that it is already a rather long game.) With Portal 2 available on all HD platforms, including PC, there is simply no good excuse to avoid playing this game. It is a high point of the year so far, and is a title that everyone should experience, without a doubt. Valve’s work on this title is exemplary, and the very nature of the game makes it a unique, entertaining and extremely rewarding experience. g

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Portal 2 is an extremely enjoyable, unique and engaging gaming experience… no guns required. Developer: Valve Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

96 57


Need for Speed SHIFT 2 Unleashed

Motor Racing Mouthful

Needlessly complicated title – but is the racing any good? by Christo van Gemert

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t feels like just a few short months ago that I was starting out a review, talking about a Need for Speed game. A quick glance at the calendar and growing stack of unfinished Xbox games on my desk shows that it was actually a few short months ago that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was released. Four and a half months separate the release of this game and its police chasing cousin. You might think that’s a mighty short release deadline, but two different studios worked on these games. Hot Pursuit was put together by Criterion, who also makes the massively fun Burnout games. In fact, NFSHP was pretty much Burnout with real cars. SHIFT 2, on the other hand, has been developed by the sim-racing fanatics at Slightly Mad Studios – the same guys who were once in charge at SimBin, and made the GTR race sims for PC. All that passion and knowledge has been poured into a game they say can compete with

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the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo. We’ll be the judge of that, though. Slightly Mad clearly has an eye for detail. It’s gone to great lengths to find the little things that make motor racing so visceral, and attempted to replicate it in the game. There’s the helmet cam, which gives you a very close approximation of what its like to wear a brain bucket – right down to the muted sounds. Then there’s the shifting viewpoint, whether it’s braking hard and having your virtual head pulled forward by the invisible forces, or having the drive look towards the apex of the corner as you approach it. The latter is not just a common practice, it’s simply instinct to look into the corner when you’re on the track: the game’s implementation is accurate, but takes few laps to get used to. Audio is great, too. Whining differentials, popping exhausts, scary growls from the mega-horsepower motors in the cars on offer. You get the feeling that the only things Slightly Mad couldn’t replicate

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are the taste of fear and smell of hot brakes. Graphically, it comes close to Forza 3 and GT5. While Gran Turismo is the definite king of visual fidelity, its graphics are perhaps a bit too clean. Forza has a certain something about its visual style. The models are very accurate, but it feels a bit cartoony. SHIFT 2 is a bit rough around the edges – at least on the Xbox 360 and PS3. The interiors are very detailed, definitely the best compared to the other games, but there are glitches in certain views and the frame rate isn’t anywhere near the consistent 60fps in the other two games. It feels a bit slower, but things are still smooth. The career mode isn’t much to write home about, the only significant point being the accrual of cash. You don’t have money thrown at you when racing. Instead, you have to earn it bit by bit. Don’t expect to buy a Veyron after one championship – cars cost what they do in real life, and there’s no finance option to pay off a car. So don’t get any

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ideas. What any racing sim is really about are the cars and tracks. Of course, SHIFT 2 doesn’t disappoint. The entrylevel machines are those you’ll see almost every day, and they’re fun to drive. Since you’ll be stuck with your starting car for a while, you’ll get to upgrade it with all sorts of stuff, too. The modification system has been changed now, and you’re able to buy separate components rather than tuning packages. This makes it easier to remain competitive while still earning basic winnings. 140 or so cars are available, from sporty hatchbacks to all-out supercars – including the brand new Pagani Huayra, which has only just been announced. It has some pretty exotic machines, but is no match for the massive 1000 or even the more sensible 400 cars available in GT5 and Forza 3, respectively. Where SHIFT 2 does have the other games licked is with its track selection. Famous racing circuits like Australia’s

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Mount Panorama and Belgium’s Spa are in here, along with a few other petrolhead meccas. In total, about 40 tracks are available, but the classy selection of real world locations is far more appealing than 100 also-ran fictional tracks. Sadly, the numbers only add up on paper. It has a good engine. The graphics are okay. Sound is fantastic and the damage physics are remarkably good. Lots of cars, decent track selection and a proper day/night cycle are there, too. What the paper specs don’t tell you is how the game plays. And the answer isn’t favourable. SHIFT 2 takes its obsession with realistic idiosyncrasies a bit too far. In this case, the most detrimental inclusion is the steering response, and overall reaction to weight shifting. In a real car you’re always managing the weight by carefully balancing it as you go around corners. At 200km/h a car doesn’t just turn on a dime, it is coaxed gently into the direction you want to move. SHIFT 2

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attempts to replicate this, but ultimately fails as the cars feel disconnected and unresponsive. It might be realistic, according to some mathematical model, but it doesn’t make for great gameplay. You’re fighting with the game’s flawed implementation of real world physics, rather than learning how to race. Cars feel fidgety through the corners and you’re given next to no warning when something is about to go wrong – push too hard, and you simply spin out instead of having a chance to correct it. There’s another game that felt like this: F1 2010, by Codemasters. The only way to really experience what these games are trying to emulate is by actually being in the cars, doing those speeds. The sensation of speed and Newtonian forces go a long way to helping your brain interpret why things are that way. A digital representation does not. SHIFT 2 is good on paper, but in the real world it kinda disappoints. g

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The potential is there, but like the first game the execution is lacking, and the obsession with tiny details kills it. Developer: Slightly Mad Studios Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

73 61


Operation Flashpoint: Red River

Oorah!

Invading countries in the name of peace…

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he previous release in the Operation Flashpoint series was something of a mixed bag. While many people thoroughly enjoyed the realism that was injected into Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, the game also had more than its fair share of problems. It was, in the end, a game that offered a better multiplayer experience than a single player one, and the complexity of the title – combined with AI problems – made it a very difficult prospect if one was going solo. The latest release is similar in many respects; Red River is still better if you play it with friends. But, that said, many of the issues that cropped up in Dragon Rising are not present in this newer title, making it a far more enjoyable and accessible game. Operation Flashpoint: Red River places the player in the role of a fire-team leader sent to Tajikistan. Although the mission initially is to hunt terrorist factions hidden in the country’s hills, it soon becomes an all-out engagement with the Chinese PLA, which is invading the small territory from the other direction. In some ways, the game is a step backwards from Dragon Rising. The developers saw fit to do away with

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by Walt Pretorius

lots vehicle use in the game, which many may decry as a bad move. Also, the game is shorter than its predecessor, an all-too-common phenomenon in video games these days. But an improved AI and a more approachable overall style make up for some of the titles less desirable elements. Although Red River has a single player component, it is securely aimed at the multiplayer market. This becomes evident when playing the single player game… because the player is in full control of a fire team, he will get bogged down in issuing orders. These are given via a fairly complete radial menu, which works well enough – when the AI actually does what it is told. Although the player’s team mates aren’t quite as moronic as those in Dragon Rising, they still manage to hash things up fairly often, leaving the player acting as more of a medic and nursemaid than a bad-ass soldier. Most times this is merely tedious but, when scores of PLA soldiers are charging down the hillide, it becomes virtually impossible. Enter the multiplayer game – there are a few game modes available but, quite honestly, the co-op campaign was the one we enjoyed the most. In this situation, up to

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player gains levels. These modifications are according to class. In addition, the player can earn points to improve their general skills, irrespective of class. It’s a simple yet effective system, and one that doesn’t unbalance the game overly much. While Red River shows much improvement over Dragon Rising, the game is still hampered with a few issues. The first are the graphics which, while clear enough to allow an assault rifle head-shot over a surprisingly long distance, don’t really make the grade when compared to other first person shooters. They’re not bad, per se… they just feel a bit dated. The game also has long loading times, and the lamentable AI will result in situations that range from comical to disastrous. Still, if you enjoy squad based, tactical games, you can do worse than Operation Flashpoint: Red River. Despite the lack of some elements from the previous title, it certainly is an improvement over Dragon Rising, and well worth a shot or two. g

AT A GLANCE: Despite its problems, Red River is an improvement over Dragon Rising, and offers a fun multiplayer tactical FPS experience. Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Codemasters Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

four humans came make up the fire team, with any empty slots filled by the same AI guys from the single player experience. In fact, the campaign is seamless between single and multiplayer, so progression through the story is not dependant on the mode you’re playing, and character advancement carries over as well. With less AI characters to control, the fire team leader can concentrate more on killing bad guys. In fact, even with just two human players, the game becomes a lot more fun – the AI characters can be used for suppressing fire, while the human players pull fancier moves, like flanking the enemy and generally being effective soldiers. It is the kind of game you want to play with people you know though, because co-operation is key in this title. Doing your own thing won’t just get you killed, but will seriously impact on the overall mission. Whether human players are going to follow the orders of the fire team leader or not is up to them… but they need to work together, at very least. Red River offers a fair collection of weapons, grouped according to the four classes (Rifleman, Grenadier, Scout and Automatic Rifleman) that can be modified as the

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

78 63


Mortal Kombat

The Ancient Kontest In all its rebooted glory…

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hen Midway started looking shaky a few years back, a lot of people were wondering what would happen to their game franchises. In particular, fans were watching the Mortal Kombat IP with keen interest, because of all of Midway’s franchises, Mortal Kombat was arguably the most popular. Warner Bros stepped in and snapped up the rights for the franchise. That was, as I said before, a few years ago, and ever since, adherent of the series have been waiting to see what the new publisher would do with it. The answer, in a nutshell, is a reboot. Mortal Kombat, in its latest guise, goes back to the roots of the game that sprang into arcades many, many moons ago. In other words, the game leaves behind many of the ideas introduced in later instalments, and moves back towards where it all began. Aside from a very few exceptions, Mortal Kombat is more like the earlier versions of the title than it has been in ages. What this means, basically, is that the game has once again become a 2D fighting game. There’s no sidestepping or depth to the levels; the characters are once

64

by Walt Pretorius again tied to a single plane along which they manoeuvre and do battle. This is not a bad thing, even though it may look like a step backwards. Sure, the 3D environments of later titles allowed for a different kind of tactical approach, but the traditional strategy in games like these has always stemmed from the actual fighting, rather than from fancy footwork. And fighting is what the new Mortal Kombat has in droves. All the old favourite characters are back, including the likes of Sonja, Jax, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden and Kitana. The very healthy character roster provides the player not only with variety in terms of characters, but also in terms of fighting styles. And with these styles come the tactics that were mentioned before. Fans will also be pleased to see that the overall brutality of the series has returned. The fights in this game are bloody indeed, and the return of Fatalities adds even more gore to the proposition. And, of course, the Fatalities are amusing in their over-the-top nature. For all the ‘returning to roots’, Mortal Kombat still offers the player an excellent experience, and fans of the series

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excuse to try a number of different fighters. The game does have an anachronistic side to it, though… the graphics look dated. Some of the character models look a little clunky and a handful of animations (like a character collapsing when defeated) are just plain bad. In a world where flashy graphics hold so much sway, Mortal Kombat certainly is not among the top visual contenders… lively backgrounds and brutality aside. But it is one of those titles that proves that graphics aren’t the be-all and end-all of video gaming. It’s a wellconstructed title that leaves little to be desired (aside from the visuals) and fans of the franchise and genre will find a lot to be happy about with this rebooted version of the (relatively speaking) age-old fighter. It may not win over many new fans (thanks to those lamentable looks) but those that get past the visuals are in for a fast-paced, action-packed, super-brutal fighting treat. g

AT A GLANCE: It may feel old-fashioned every now and then, but the new Mortal Kombat uses refined fighting game principles… and packs a punch. Developer: NetherRealm Publisher: Warner Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

will likely enjoy the tight fighting style and wide variety of approaches that the player can take to the individual matches. Tag teaming is still available, and a new power bar – which allows the player to make use of ‘power-ups’ at three different levels – adds to the potential mayhem. Incidentally, level three of the power bar unleashes a manic x-ray attack which does devastating damage to your opponent… all shown by way of x-ray images that show just how bad the damage is. The game is easy enough to learn, with all the moves being a matter of face buttons and directions, with the odd shoulder button or trigger input thrown in for good measure. All the characters have move lists that can be accessed, and new Fatalities can be unlocked using the game’s ’lucky dip’ Krypt system – in which players can spend earned points to unlock mystery items that range from concept art through to new moves. There are various play modes, too, including the expected challenges, as well as a story mode. OK, the story is a re-hashing of the history of Mortal Kombat and is pretty lame in places, but it does afford the player the

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

88 65


Pilotwings Resort

No Simulator Flying without goggles

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ith Pilotwings Resort Nintendo did great things with the 3D and show off a truck load of features for the 3DS console but leave out some things that make me wonder what happened. Flight school is a requirement for first time fliers but is not going to stop you from flying your glider into the ground or a mountain. Select a Mii to fly around with and sign your card, and head into a one minute flight instruction and trial in a plane, rocket belt or hang glider. Once you have joined the Wuhu Sky Club things begin to get more serious. You don’t have to pick your Mii to fly with and this is where the Mii Creator becomes useful. I have been downloading a lot of funny Miis to include on my console, so I finished the Pilotwings Resort game with Mr. Bean. When he celebrates I laugh, when I fail I laugh as well because his face is so funny! There are two main sections to the game; Mission Mode and Free Flight Mode. Free flight mode might appeal to first time fliers but if you don’t unlock things in the mission mode it will get a little dull. Going through

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by Brian Murdoch the Mission Mode will not only teach players but also push them hard to increase their skills. The next stage in the level might be available but techniques in the previous stages are needed. The next level of stages is only unlocked when a certain number of stars in achieved but it’s generally ok to get two stars to carry on to the next stage. Three stars without a red lining is not a perfect score but is around 90%. Unlock the levels from Novice to Platinum in this way, but Diamond will require three stars in every stage. The stages will guide pilots through their flight path but will require a lot of skill in the later stages. Tricks and precision are really important in the game. An example of this is the speed panels; these require the pilot to fly through them at a particular speed. The maximum points for each panel is 10 and only 5 is given for hitting the panel at the correct speed but not knocking the middle panel out. The pilot’s speed is greatly reduced if the panel is hit at the incorrect speed, which could be devastating for the next panels or even the whole course.

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trick rings, Miis and gold rings are required by the plane, rocket belt and glider respectively. Dioramas are unlocked for some things in the mission mode but mostly from these collectables. The game is short if you are just in it for the flying and don’t like to collect or achieve everything. Playing through the game and wanting to get and do everything will bring great reward to the pilot and extend the game’s length quite considerably. Even letting your friends play will put more worth in the game, but this does bring out something that was missed. The best scores that are displayed and the message of top score does not mean across all membership cards. It would have been great to compete against your friend’s score or even have street pass to update and beat the clubs score across all membership cards. Hopeful this will be included in an update that the 3DS is well-equipped to provide. g

AT A GLANCE: Pilotwings take the 3DS player around Wuhu Island and is short unless you are into collecting and exploring all the pieces of this flight puzzle.

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

3DS Platforms

As pilots progress through the missions, faster or more agile machines become available for each type. The plane gets a turbo jet and the rocket belt gets a super rocket belt. The hang glider’s super is a pedal glider which lets the pilot pedal to get speed, as well as the gliding mechanics. These supers will be used only for the missions that they are given in and then become an option in the free flight mode for a faster way to get those collectables. The Free Flight Mode is not just riding around the island doing whatever the pilot wants because, other than clocking up some great hours, it becomes a little pointless. There are locations, balloons, rings and Mii characters all around to collect. The locations and balloons are there for every mode, except that the balloons each have a time of day and mode of flight that they can be collected in. There are 40 balloons in each mode and after collecting 20 the free flight mode time limit is extended. Collect the locations to unlock different times of the day and show that this pilot has been everywhere on the island, but this will not mean that you have collected everything. The

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

90 67


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12:The Masters

Yes, Master… Taking the caddie by the horns

E

very year Electronic Arts releases a golfing game, and very year it just gets better and better. The latest iteration, Tiger Woods 12: The Masters is no exception to the rule. As the name suggest, this time around players will be able to compete in The Masters throughout their career, while still winning tournaments like The President’s Cup. But the game has also added a new and exciting game mode, called the Caddie Experience. The Caddie Experience is somewhat flawed in a couple of ways. In the previous versions of the game, it was entirely up to the player to decide what type of shot, angle and club they want to use. A lot of planning went into the perfect shot, and caused much frustration if the slightest calculation was off – just like real golf. But the caddie by the player’s side has dumbed the game down a bit, leaving no decision for the player to make if they choose to. It made the player lazy in a sense, as they simply choose the best-looking shot, and hit the ball straight. The caddie’s recommendation factors in all the elements to make a good shot, like wind speed, lie, angle

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by Charlie Fripp and bunkers. So there is no real creativity when taking a swing, but the player doesn’t have to follow the caddie’s suggestion. There is the possibility to make up one’s own shot, and here the player is completely on their own. With a custom shot, the player has to factor in all the above-mentioned elements, and determine how to play the ball. On the odd occasion however, the caddie won’t have any suggestions, leaving the player to fend for themselves. But there is an upside to the caddie. The more the player progress through the courses and the more course mastery they achieve, the cleverer the caddie will become, suggesting better and closer shots. There has been an instance where a player scored three eagles in a round just by using the caddie’s recommendation. The other great feature about Tiger woods 12 is The Masters. Although it sounds all fancy, it’s actually just one course in the entire PGA Tour, so the joy of wearing the green jacket is a bit short-lived once the tournament is over. However, while playing in the Masters, the commentary and in-game presentation does change from the rest of the

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though, and that is that two players on the same machine can’t use the three-click system and the analogue swing at the same time for two different golfers. In essence, if one player opts to use the analogue swing for their created character, player two will have to do the same without reverting to the three-click system after every hole. It’s slightly annoying, as this was possible in previous versions, but on the other hand it does force a player to learn a new control system. Another problem, although not a deal-breaker, is that players can’t transfer their character data to another machine. It’s possible in the PlayStation 3 version, but since the Xbox is governed by profiles, it’s not. It comes in handy when a player has reached a certain level and would like to play with their character on a friend’s console. But all the small niggles aside; the game has managed to keep its excitement and addictiveness intact, which provides for a very enjoyable and competitive experience. It’s a must-buy for any golfing fan. g

AT A GLANCE: Although it has small niggles, it’s still one of the best golfing games. Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

game, making the player truly feel as if they are playing in the world’s biggest golf tournament. For XP, the title kept the format of Tiger Woods 11, where players will gain XP after completing certain objectives and scoring birdies, long drives and eagles and winning rounds. The XP can then be used to upgrade the character’s stats, and clothing in TW 12 is free this time around, as long as it’s unlocked. In terms of graphics, there has been a significant increase in detail, although Tiger himself doesn’t really look as good as in previous versions. The course detail has been meticulously recreated to deliver the best golfing experience, but the crowds still seem like they are made from cardboard cut-outs and all bought their clothes at the same store. Various other small graphical enhancements have also been placed in the game, like a better view of the ball’s lie and the wind ruffling the caddie’s clothes, all which lend a bit more credibility to the title. As far as control goes, the swinging aspect has been kept pretty much the same, except for the caddie’s controls – which are brand new. But there is one downside

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

82 69


SOCOM: Special Forces

Saving the World One country at a time…

T

he SOCOM franchise has a fairly long and well established history. The series has managed to bring a number of tactical shooter games to the market, and was responsible (in its earlier days) for establishing a number of trends in the genre. These days, the SOCOM games aren’t really trend setters anymore. Rather, they deliver a good tactical shooter experience. The latest in the series, SOCOM: Special Forces, is no different. The game delivers moreor-less exactly what is expected, in terms of squad-based tactical combat. There are a few things, though, that may have some gamers grumbling. Some of them are related to this newer title, while others are the reason that people either love SOCOM, or not. This time around, the player is in command of a multinational team. Well, two nations, anyway. The game leaves the US military behind and puts the player in the role of Cullen Gray, an Operations Commander for NATO. Gray is sent to a small country in Southeast Asia, where he must lead a team to prevent a crack-pot expirate from endangering the entire world’s economy.

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by Walt Pretorius Initially, the player gets to command two of Gray’s countrymen – Australians, mind you – but the team expands to a full five member squad before too long. The Aussies are joined by two Korean operatives, adding a stealth component to the fire team. In controlling Gray, the player will get to issue various commands to the teams. Although the controls for these commands are really simple (they are all issued via the D-Pad) clever implementation of the scheme allows for a fair variety of orders to be given. And they need to be given – the player cannot approach this game like a one man army, particularly not at higher difficulty levels. Rather, he will need to issue move orders, get his team to provide cover and suppressive fire, order them to target specific enemies, and so on. The two two-man teams act independently of each other, so the tactical options are quite varied. The player will possibly find that their teams are a little too good, and the enemy AI a little too weak. The ally teams can wipe out swathes of the enemy, leaving little for the player to do, other than issue more orders. This isn’t always the case, though – sometimes the game will

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and the ability of the player to collect new weapons and weapon upgrades. The biggest issue that SOCOM: Special Forces faces is that it is a little too easy. With the excellent ability of the friendly AI and the rather dense enemy AI, the game doesn’t always pose the challenges it should. The difficulty levels between the normal and stealth missions is also a little off – the stealth missions are considerably tougher – so the overall experience can come across a little inconsistent. This is a game that works very well in multiplayer – in fact, the multiplayer component is far more satisfying than the brief single player campaign. It also offers Move control options, but you may well find yourself returning to the sixaxis controller before long. Not that the Move control isn’t good – the traditional controller is just better. If you’re looking for a tactical shooter that offers excellent multiplayer, this is a good bet… just playing it as a single player game may prove to be disappointing. g

AT A GLANCE: A solid game, if not a great one, SOCOM: Special Forces performs best as a multiplayer title. Developer: Zipper Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

throw the player a curve ball or two, and they will have to box clever to get through some of Special Forces’ trickier situations. The single player campaign is short – only around six hours long – but is well supported by a handful of rather enjoyable multiplayer modes. The story is also rather predictable, and character development – other than Gray and “Forty-Five”, the two playable characters – is virtually non-existent. Speaking of “Forty-Five”, she adds variety to the game by way of allowing the player to undertake solo-stealth missions. These are a fantastic respite from the meat of the game, which would get a bit old without them. The settings of the various missions are quite similar, and without the variety that the stealth missions add, Special Forces would descend into the realms of repetitive and possibly even boring. The presentation of the game is fairly good, with excellent voice acting supporting better than average character models. Some of the environments leave a bit to be desired but, for the most part, the game is pleasing to the eye. This is supported by tons of in-game action,

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

77 71


LEGO Star Wars III:The Clone Wars

Same Galaxy Same long, long time ago…

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raveller’s Tales have been doing really well with their LEGO games – one of them even made our cover this month, I am sure you noticed. But what makes these games so very popular? At a recent editorial meeting, a discussion of LEGO titles erupted, and many points were raised, often pertaining to the fact that the elements of these games, individually, are nothing to really write home about. But that’s just it – these games are certainly greater than the sum of their parts. They (often shamelessly) beg, borrow and steal elements from other games and genres, generally simplify them, and cram them all together in an end product that would seem disjointed and cobbled together, if anyone other than these guys were on the development crew. But Traveller’s Tales take these disparate elements, combine them with a well-known franchise, give the characters and settings a LEGO overhaul, and produce games that are, quite frankly, awesome amounts of fun to play. They’re not exactly super-fast, super-challenging games, but they provide a lot of enjoyment for those that want to sit back, relax and enjoy an amusing title for a few hours. Arguably the most popular ‘series’ within the LEGO

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by Walt Pretorius games franchise are the Star Wars titles. They were among the earliest attempts to create these unique games, and have been well received by players. The latest one should be no different, but for gamers here in South Africa, the subject matter of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars may be a little obscure. The television series on which this game is based is very popular overseas, but doesn’t have a massive following here (perhaps if someone would televise it locally, that would change.) The reason that this is a problem is that, unlike other games based on movies and the like, the LEGO games make the assumption that the player has seen the subject matter on which the game is based. This allows them to get away with the mumbling dialogue and copious in-jokes that poke fun at the original. If you haven’t seen what they’re making fun of, some of the game’s impact and enjoyment will likely be lost. But that is only a small reason not to play this title, and fans of the LEGO Star Wars games will likely just forge ahead and figure things out as they go along. This is a good thing, because LEGO Star Wars III brings a few new ideas to the table.

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of activities – even flying a space fighter every now and then. All of these activities can be accessed via a truly massive central hub in the game. Many other cools things can also be done in the hub, including creating custom characters and the like. The hub’s downfall is its size… it is just far too easy to get lost trying to find things to do in the massive area, and moving from one activity to another can get extremely tedious. Sure, the developers were obviously trying to create a sense of deeper engagement by providing the player with a large, explorable home environment, but it actually detracts from the game, rather than adding valuable longevity to it. If you enjoyed the previous LEGO Star Wars games, this one is still a safe bet. It shows good improvements (thanks to changes made in games like LEGO Harry Potter) and is worth the effort if you’re looking for something a bit more casual. g

AT A GLANCE: This third LEGO Star Wars instalment offers some new activities for fans to enjoy… great for the whole family. Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: LucasArts Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Aside from the usual adventure levels, crammed with breakable objects, puzzles and combat, the player will also be able to undertake a new mode, called Galactic Conquest. It’s a very simple strategy game that the player can play solo, or with a partner. Yes, it gets a little old a bit too quickly, but it’s a nice break from the usual LEGO-style game dynamics. In addition, the game features the usual massive roster of unlockable characters, varied environments and changing game dynamics. There are a large amount of puzzles in the game again, ranging from the relatively common, really easy variety through to some that will get you massively frustrated, due in part to the fact that the game (as with all titles in this franchise) lacks any kind of coherent instruction or task system. The player will often find themselves wandering around a level for an overly long time, trying to figure out what to do. It’s the one big failing of the franchise, and it’s still around. The title allows the player to do a hell of a lot, which is great if you’re considering buying it for your kids, to play with your kids, or to satisfy the kid inside. The game spans the first two seasons of the series, and features a variety

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

80 73


SingStar Afrikaanse Treffers

Ja Nee

Local is, in this case, lekker…

by artists like Karen Zoid, Juanita du Plessis, Kurt Darren, Die Campbells and the irrepressible Jack Parrow, but it also allows you to change the menu language to Afrikaans. The language is not exactly the most computer friendly, and there were some real howlers in the translation, but it really is the thought that counts. And before you start scoffing again, you need to consider that – even if this is not your taste – the Afrikaans music industry is massive. This means that potential sales for this very well put together edition of SingStar will likely do well… even if it is probably only available within our borders. It is the usual SingStar fare, with a good selection of songs by top Afrikaans recording artists available for karaoke-style play. It’s good fun, if this kind of game is your bag. And personally, I must say that it was the freshest experience I have had with SDingStar in years… but then again, I may be biased. g

AT A GLANCE: There’s nothing like humiliating yourself singing in a localised language… SingStar Afrikaanse Treffers is awesome fun. Developer: SCEE Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 74

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

T

rue story: the last Gamecca editorial meeting was disrupted due to the fact that we decided to try out the latest title in the SingStar range: SingStar Afrikaanse Treffers, and spent most of the meeting playing it. Now, before you roll your eyes, think about it. The fact that South Africa was one of a handful of countries to get localised SingStar content speaks volumes of the faith that some video game companies have in our territory. Not only that, but it also hints at the power that PlayStation 3 has in our territory. This game is not just a fun party title which will allow you to embarrass yourself in front of your friends and family, but it is a testament to the fact that we are being taken seriously as a video game playing nation – something which we might hear every now and then, but don’t often see proof of. Anyway, back to the story. We gleefully discovered that not only does this version of SingStar feature songs

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

79

g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


c ompe t i t io n • c omp eti ti o n • com pe tit ion • com pe t ition • com pe t it ion

Dead Man’s Chest

WIN

A LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean hamper! Courtesy of Prima Interactive TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gamecca.co.za. Tell us who published LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. Insert ‘POTC competition’ in the mail’s subject line. Subscribe to www.gamecca.co.za Like Gamecca’s Facebook Page

Competition closes 31 May 2011. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Hampers may not include a copy of the game. Games may be ‘white label’ products. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC & Prima Interactive. The judges’ decision is final.


Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Epic?

It’s so fluffy I’m going to die!

T

his grass feels funny,” Kirby thought. “It feels like pants.” And to Kirby’s surprise he saw that his entire body was made out of yarn! Kirby’s Epic Yarn brings a new style to side scrolling games. Kirby might be made of yarn but his energetic and fun nature has not changed one bit in this title. Kirby is not the only one made of yarn, either; the world that Kirby has falling into is all made of everything found in an arts and crafts store and forms a great basis for the game. The game-play will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played a game in the last 20 years. As traditional as the gameplay is, its style is what enhances that tradition. Kirby can pull zippers to unfold the next part of the level or tug on threads to reveal hidden items. Kirby can also duck under the stitching and behind the

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by Brian Murdoch material into another layer of the world to get to those hard to reach places. Players that have played or know about his previous games might have noticed that the famous sucking power of his is missing in this game, but there is a range of other powers that he now has. Kirby can wind most enemies up in a deadly ball of yarn and throw it back at others. Kirby turns into a Kirby tank at times and blows missiles from his mouth while punching others from his giant size punching glove. Transformations are needed to get through the stages and Kirby adapts to the requirements of the environment. Kirby can be a fire-truck to put out fires or a dolphin to swim through hoops or even a train or digger. Each of Kirby’s unique forms gives the game a great variety.

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ables for Kirby’s apartment, which can be snapshotted and shown off to your friends via the Wii message board. We call it easy because, well, it is. There is no way to die in the game and the skill comes in how many beads and collectables Kirby has managed to hold onto by the end of the stage. Getting the amount of beads for a gold medal in the end is the challenge in this game, and that challenge is increased when having a second player. Beads are lost if either player is damaged and in the monsters levels it’s the hardest to keep your gems, but they are not very difficult to get through. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a traditional platformer and is aimed at the age a little younger than normal but still brings a good few bits and pieces for the older group. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s not a particularly difficult game, but the new world and fun dynamic offers a little something for everyone. Developer: Good-Feel Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

The story is played as Kirby and is entertaining enough for a few hours, but it becomes easier when a second player joins in the fun. The second player is not needed to make it easier but adds to the stitching fun. Prince Fluff is the second player and has the same powers and abilities that Kirby does; he will also follow Kirby if pushed off screen. This is great for parents and children to get together and play… just make sure that the children are the second player (unless they are better than you). After finishing the story, don’t think that it’s a wrap; for the completionist there are a bucket full of unlocks to keep the game going. There are hide-and-seek challenges to find a number of characters in the required time. There are also sound track, backgrounds and furniture unlock-

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

85 77


Tactical action in 3D

I

t seems to me that graphics really can add to the excellence of a DS title. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is so far the best 3D game graphics that I have seen on the 3DS and I have played almost all of the games that are available. The menus and speech dialog boxes pop out on the screen so well that I don’t turn the 3D off past the 5 hours of time that is the suggested limit. I also have not received any warning messages that I have been playing too long. Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars for the 3DS does what most expect and that’s bring the game to a tactical turnbased strategy model, with the Ghost Recon soldiers and feel of missions. There is a long single player story and as you play through the different mission, extras are unlocked to lengthen the game even more. There are Training Missions at first, moving on to Battle and Challenge Mission later, and if this is still not enough, you can battle your friend in the multiplayer missions. At the start of each mission a tactical camera moves

by Brian Murdoch along to show the initial position of troops, all displayed in 3D. It’s not taken away during the game because the player is given control of the camera to look at different angles, which helps when checking the line of sight. While playing through the game I got the distinct reminder of UFO: Enemy Unknown… I’m showing my age because I played it when it first came out and the mouse was something new. After doing some research I found that Ubisoft got Julian Gollop in to help with the development. He was the designer for UFO: Enemy Unknown. This is now a name I am going to follow and make sure that I have every game that he is a part of. Elements of the game come through very strong in building and upgrading a squad of different abilities, and kitting out the soldier to allow for the maximum damage in the worst situations. With the excellent dialog, the player gets to know and befriend each soldier to take on some awesome missions. g

AT A GLANCE: A great, well put together game with excellent 3D graphics and an awesome feel. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

0+ 78

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

3DS Platforms

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

Ghost Fighters

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

79

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2011 SQUARE ENIX, INC, DEVELOPED BY OBSIDIAN ENTERTAINMENT, INC,. DUNGEON SIEGE IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF SQUARE ENIX, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ‘ ‘, ‘PLAYSTATION’, ‘PS3’ AND ‘ ‘ ARE TRADEMARKS OF REGISTERED TRADEMARKS OF SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC, ‘ ‘ IS A TRADEMARK OF THE SAME COMPANY. KINECT, XBOX, XBOX 360, XBOX LIVE, AND THE XBOX LOGOS ARE TRADEMARKS OF THE MICROSOFT GROUP OF COMPANIES AND ARE USED UNDER LICENSE FROM MICROSOFT.


Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition

Small Screen Domination! Touch fighting at its best

S

treet Fighter IV became Super Street Fighter IV and it’s now Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. Is the 3D enough to warrant the purchase another version of the game? Sure, it has added 3D, but is it just the same thing all over again? Street Fighter IV hit the consoles 2 years ago and was shortly followed up by a ‘new’ version with Super added to its name and a few additions… and we all went out and bought it. The 3D version coming to the new Nintendo 3DS will probably be no different, as least as far as fans who own the new hand-held go. When it comes to graphics the 3D element brings its own pleasures, but putting that aside, the graphics on this small screen are still amazing. It’s like walking around with a HD 42” screen in your pocket, even though it’s only 90mm. I even think at times it looks a little better, considering some of the horrible screens out there that claim HD but lack clarity. The 3D effect is almost wasted in the standard

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by Brian Murdoch gameplay because it just looks cool for the first few minutes. After this impression, while fighting and moving the console, the 3D gets off set and blurry images are seen because your head has moved off of the sweet spot. Seeing as the fighting is purely superimposed on the background and the background is not moving, I just turn the 3D off. Where the 3D is really cool is in the Dynamic mode, here the characters are angled on the screen at 45° and the camera is just behind your fighter. It looks truly awesome and the game remains the same for fighting and moves… here the 3D should be set to max. Some would be concerned with the control not being like the other console versions but, with the new D-Pad on the 3DS, players are free to choose either of the controls and move around just like in the HD counterparts. My personal preference is the standard up, down, left and right control pad because extra moves get added to my D-Pad skills. I see this by jumping into the practise mode and turning on the move display option. With the DS come the easy-to-

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in which players battle with the characters unlocked or earned. A team has to be created and to keep the fight somewhat even, a certain number of points can be spent to build these teams. Editing the team and swapping out more powerful characters for more strategic ones adds a different feel to the Street Fighter game. Be sure to “Activate the Street Pass” every time, as the team is stored on the console and Street Pass can happen without the game needed. If you don’t activate it every time the old team is kept. Play Arcade and Versus modes to get more points to spend on characters and make a better team. Refreshing the team is a good idea as well because your perfect team will continue to lose health points after each battle. This is to make sure you don’t just create a dream team and leave them there; your friends will eventually break them. g

AT A GLANCE: The 3D edition is just like the HD version, only it’s 90mm of screen and has 3DS features added. Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

3DS Platforms

execute Ultimate and Super moves, done with a touch of the screen. The online play is rumoured to be even better than the other console versions. We still have to wait for some 3DS updates though because other than seeing which of my friends are online playing Street Fighter, I have no way of sending them a game invite or joining in with their play. Updates will fix this but for now I have to SMS them to ask if I can play against them. This version also has local wireless play, made even better with its spectator mode. I love sitting on the Gautrain and watching two other players battle it out and not have to hunch over one of their shoulders. I can just sit back in my chair and watch the match on my own 3DS. Player Points and Battle Points are earned from player’s overall performance and character performance respectively, and titles can be shown off to other players… but there is no way to show these off outside the game as yet. Street Pass brings a new way of fighting offline,

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

85 81


Tales Of Monkey Island

A Legend Returns

Monkey Island’s first season brings this loved series back to life. by James Francis

G

uybrush Threepwood is back, saving the Caribbean from the evil plans of the ghost pirate LeChuck. If your gaming lexicon doesn’t let you down, you will know the name. If you played adventure games in the ‘90s, we don’t even need to have this conversation. It is also for that same reason that this is a delicate topic. Monkey Island is not some highlight of a bygone era. It is, undeniably, the best - or at least most loved - adventure series ever made. Sure, some will fight for classics like Full Throttle and the Kyrandia games, but nothing ever had the reach that the Monkey Island games had. To go out on a limb, one might even suggest that Orlando Bloom’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean had a distinct streak of Threepwood. Or maybe that was just the collective hopes from fans of an MI movie. But we would hate it - unless it was awesome. The same goes when you resurrect such a royal bloodline into a new studio and format. But there was always one reason why Telltale’s adaptation didn’t sound like an entirely terrible idea: it stepped in for Lucasarts,

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which might be a good publisher, but hasn’t managed to really resurrect its classics. Monkey Island needed a new approach and Telltale, with their current slew of games, are the most qualified to give it a stab. But then there is the episodic model and its quirks. The main issue is that point where the game seems to be shuffling assets more than giving you a sense of epicness (sic). This could slide with Sam & Max, which took advantage of the TV-set quality of their world. But Monkey Island is a different beast. Also, Guybrush and company subscribe to a trademark sense of humour, one that long departed when the game’s creators left for other pastures (and today found in Deathspank and Brutal Legend). Long story short, these shortcomings are glaring in the first episode, Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal, and it pandered to fans too much. Yet Telltale also knows how to peak a season. Another good sign was that the episode displayed a significantly more robust inventory system. In fact, it is great how items “carried” over between the chapters - all that lacks now is a mode that seamlessly takes you from the one chapter to the next. Most of the above, depending on how you take it, was

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Episode 1 flounders, but the rest of Tales Of Monkey Island blossoms (in a macho piratey way, of course) to become the new Monkey Island (not that it supersedes the original, but it won’t suffer from MI4’s stepchild syndrome). A tip of the hat also has to go to Telltale’s animators, who took the fairly low-poly models and made them live. If this review sounds like a gushing tribute - after playing the first episode in December, there was no urge to return to the series. It only happened under the, shall we say, insistence of Gamecca’s editor. And it turned out to be a fantastic surprise. Look, if you just know deep inside that you will hate this, there might be no changing your mind. But everyone else should listen up. One caveat: it is not particularly difficult (though, like the first games, beautifully laterally logical), but seasoned gamers will have a ride while newcomers will find something that might lure them further into further adventure. g

AT A GLANCE: It starts wobbly, but Telltale’s first season for Monkey Island soon finds its feet, then makes it its own - even fans will like it. Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Lace Mamba Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

the bad news. Everything else about Tales Of Monkey Island does the original series full justice (with one exception - using the MI3 radial menu system would have worked much better). After episode one the writers found their mojo and synced with the spirit of the series. There are still blatant references and flat jokes, but looking back it’s hard to think of any. As the storyline develops - a voodoo plague, matrimonial difficulties and a unnervingly human LeChuck - the season follows suit. Puzzles become interesting, set pieces are well worth viewing and it doesn’t rip off the earlier games, yet doesn’t forget them entirely. Unlike Sam & Max’s onslaught of pop culture references (which made little sense to most non-Americans), this game occupies its universe faithfully. But what ultimately works is that it uses its own absurd creations - talking parrot statues, merpeople, deranged surgeons, a huge manatee... Apart from the absolute staple characters, it’s pretty much an all-new cast. There might be a moment when you expect to see Herman Toothrot and then you surprise yourself that you are happy he’s not there. Because this new Monkey Island feels right.

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

85 83


Ridge Racer 3D

And They’re Off! One of the first racing games for the 3DS

Performance on the 3DS is good. The graphics are clear, and if the player focuses around the middle distance, the 3D effect is rather good. Control-wise, the game is pretty simple to handle, too. The player needs to brake and accelerate, as expected, and the vehicle can be steered using either the D-Pad or the analogue pad. The thing is, realistically, that this is a game you’re going to probably to play in short bursts. There are a wide variety of race modes and upgradable vehicles, but the repetitive commentary and similarity between the races might get old a little quickly. And in short bursts, Ridge Racer 3D will keep you busy for a good long while. With advances in the hardware, the game is better than most racing games of this nature that we have seen on hand-held consoles. It’s not realistic at all, and it won’t provide petrol heads with any real kind of thrill. But it is a lot of fun to play for those that enjoy casual racing titles.g

AT A GLANCE: It’s good fun, but it isn’t realistic at all. This one is best consumed in smaller chunks. Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 84

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

3DS Platforms

R

idge Racer has been around for absolute years, having debuted in arcades a good long time ago. And, since then, the franchise has made the odd appearance on almost every console out there. It’s small wonder, then, that it would show up on Nintendo’s revolutionary new hand-held, the 3DS. And, just like other Ridge Racer releases in the past, this game doesn’t try to be anything other than a thrilling arcade racer. It presents the player with a number of tracks (a surprisingly large number, in fact) and ‘fantasy’ vehicles to sling around them. And I mean sling… See, drift is a big thing in Ridge Racer, and the ambitious player can get their car more than sideways around many of the game’s curves. It does punish overzealous drifters, but not overly much, and the general challenge of the title is fairly easy.

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

77

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“‰”, “PlayStation”, “ ”, “” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. “make.believe” is a trademark of the same company. Sports Champions™ ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment America. “Sports Champions” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment America. All rights reserved.


WWE All Stars

Fifty-foot Powerslam

Over the top and awesome – just the way we like our WWE. by Christo van Gemert

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et’s take a trip back in time, to 1995. Arcades – remember those – were packed, with people lining up around the block to play either Mortal Kombat or Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Now, sixteen years later, we have a new version of each. Neither game is being developed by the company that started it all, Midway. Still, it’s good to have modern reinterpretations of games we used to love. I grew up watching a ton of wrestling, back when it was still called WWF, and therefore played the hell out of Wrestlemania. It had many similarities with Mortal Kombat, including its digitised graphics and over-the-top moves, but that’s what made it awesome. Real wrestling is boring. What we see on TV, in the WWE soap opera, is nowhere near as glamorous when converted into a videogame. As proof, I submit the recent Smackdown vs Raw games. They sell because they have big names in them – which 10-year-old kid doesn’t want to play as

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John Cena? – but they really aren’t that fun. Wrestling is technical, and when you add a control system to try and interpret those moves, you suck the fun out of it. To spice things up and make it both more fun and accessible, All Stars takes a cue from Wrestlemania. The action is insane: play as the Undertaker and execute his signature finishing move, the tombstone. He jumps a few metres into the air, dramatic music plays, everything goes into slow motion and a few seconds later the unlucky recipient’s skull meets the canvas, shockwaves rippling and a satisfying “K.O.” appears onscreen. Yes, you can knock out an opponent rather than pinning him. The original pinfall is still a valid way to end a match – it wouldn’t be wrestling otherwise – and you can get disqualified if you do something horrible like take a chair into the ring. Keep it outside, though, and you can bash an opponent’s head in a few times. The exaggerated fighting style echoes the bravado we see on TV, but doesn’t turn

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then you’d better watch out for a finishing move. There’s nothing stopping you from mounting a comeback, though, and that gives it a bit of balance (especially against the AI opponents who can be relentless and annoying). Sure, there’s a career mode where you can relive old matches and play for glory, but they just give you something to do. What you really want – and where this game will shine – is with three buddies on the couch next to you. Four player fights are where it’s at, and if you don’t have any real friends then the Xbox and PS3 versions have online play, too. Do you have to be a fan of wrestling to enjoy this? Not at all. It’s as accessible as any other fighting game, with the advantage of being based on a real sport with real competitors. Suspend your disbelief, as you would do with Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, and you’re gonna have a heck of a lot of fun. g

AT A GLANCE: A solid fighting game that’ll appeal to fans of fun, and of the sport. Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

it into a few complicated button combinations. When you punch somebody, they can go flying over the top rope – that’s satisfying, and sort of what you expect. It’s not just the Undertaker, though – 31 “all star” wrestlers are available fighters, and there’s the ubiquitous “create a fighter” mode, too. There are a few different arenas, none of which really impact the gameplay, except if you participate in something like a cage match. The real focus of the game is the arcade-like fighting style they’ve chosen – courtesy of direction from Sal DiVita, whose creative inputs we last saw in… Wrestlemania. All of this makes the game fun. As mentioned, the previous WWE games were all a bit too technical to really get into. All Stars changes that by speeding up the action. You still get the feel of wrestling. You perform moves you’re familiar with and you wear down your opponent as per usual. The exception here is that there is a health bar, and once it starts flashing red

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

80 87


Yakuza 4

The Code of Silence Actually, literally built into the game’s code…

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he Yakuza series has developed something of a cult following over the years, striking a chord with gamers that enjoy a mix of deep story and combat. This formula has worked and, moving into the fourth iteration of the franchise, Sega decided to develop things a little further with the title. And in some ways they did. In others, though Yakuza 4 feels anachronistic and out of place when compared to other new titles. The story – which the developers certainly did not put enough time into crafting – tells of four separate characters: a loan shark, a crooked cop, an ex-con and a semi-retired Yakuza member (who is, incidentally, the hero of Yakuza 3, as well as the two titles that came before it). Each of these characters has their own story, complete with unique abilities and side quests. The four stories come together in the end during a short finale but, when all is said and done, the tale told by this game is far weaker than that of its predecessor. It has some awesome moments, particularly in the cut-scenes, but the overall plot is nothing to write home about.

88

by Walt Pretorius

Part of this stems from the fact that Sega have opted to stick with the rather frustrating in-game dialogue system that the game originally came out with – text boxes. In this day and age, with massive media disks and hard drives built into consoles, surely games can get past the whole reading thing. Not that I don’t like reading, but as part of my gaming – especially in a game with such a strong emphasis on story – I want to geek-out to a movie-like experience, not have to scroll through reams of text. We’re in the second decade of the new millennium, damn it! The game tries to position itself as an interactive movie, too. Aside from the obvious dialogue failing, things are pretty good in that sense. The cut scenes are well put together, and although you’ll have to live with Japanese audio and English subtitles, it’s a fairly enjoyable experience. The game itself comes down to lots of running around, regular seemingly random combat (a la JRPG) and scores of mini-games that serve as both good and bad distractions from the crux of the title. The combat is a

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of the franchise, despite some of its weaker areas. It is a progression in a few ways, but truth be told, not enough of one to feel like a sequel coming out almost two years after its predecessor was released in Japan. Had Yakuza 4 come out shortly after Yakuza 3, the game’s aged feel would have been forgivable. As it stands, it feels much less satisfying than it should. And then there’s the complexity of the plot. Despite not being very good, the plot is extremely complex, and quite often confusing. This might be a cultural thing, but I spent a lot of time wondering what the hell was actually going on in the game. I suspect, though, that this has more to do with the developers trying to get ahead of themselves, and not paying careful enough attention to the ever-increasing complexity of the game’s story. If you enjoyed Yakuza 3, then you will probably get a kick or two out of this new title. It’s extremely taste-driven, though, and not a good place to start out he franchise with, if you have never played it before. g

AT A GLANCE: Yakuza 4 may appeal to fans of the franchise, but the complex plot and tons of written dialogue will likely put others off. Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

carbon copy of the system used in Yakuza 3 (as are the graphics, apparently) and while it is simple enough to learn and fun to play, it still has a few problems. The chief among these is the thoroughly dodgy targeting system which, in the generally nasty boss battles, can lead to more than a few cheap defeats. The mini-games provide the player with a huge amount of game longevity. There is a massive amount to do in the fictional red light district where the game is (still) set. From pole dancing clubs through to game arcades, the player can find lots of ways to keep themselves busy, outside of the main story line. That’s all good and well, and it adds valuable length to the experience, but it does detract from the game in many ways. The mini-games feel a little tacked on, for the most part – almost as though the developers were squeezing every ounce of blood out of this particular stone. Perhaps they should have put less mini-games on the disc, and saved up some space for spoken dialogue. Fans of the series will likely enjoy this new instalment

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

68 89


TrackMania

Race Around the Wii Precision racing...

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he TrackMania games have been around for a very long time as a franchise, and even competitively in many E-Sports competitions. For those with a moral compass there has always been a question as to which version is free and which version is not. Well, if there is a free version out there then why would I spend my hard earned money on the Wii version? Does the Wii version encompass the competitive nature of this racing game? Let’s look at the points that make this title a worthwhile Wii purchase… Is the game worth the money? Aside from the fact of game quality and if the game is right for the buyer, the price can also be because of them collecting and collating everything for you. The free versions of TrackMania out there are only for the competitions that they were used in; for example the ESWC version of TrackMania is free to be used in the ESWC tournaments. There are six versions of the game included in this Wii

90

by Brian Murdoch compilation, and each provides different tracks and types of cars for use on those tracks. The Stadium features a F1 car that hugs the track and shows the precision needed to win races. The Island tracks seem faster as the cars glide impossibly around sharp corners and hit some serious air off of huge ramps. Slap some snow wheels on for the Snow levels and get boosted around the track while the large roadsters take up most of the width of the narrow coastal circuits. Then hit the dirt with some rally and desert tracks, skidding around on two wheels. If you have never played TrackMania before then it might come as a surprise that it’s not a standard racing game. Opponents are visible but only in ghost form as the tracks are only made for one racer. In competitive modes players only have three tries to get the best time on the track and are then placed and the game moves on. Practise mode lets the racer learn the curves and ramps to see when to slow down and when to speed up the car. Precision is more

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21 levels, will inspire creativity in some to carry on with the track editor. When it comes to controls it’s a hard choice because I love Mario Kart so much. In Mario Kart I am use to the mindless fun and using the motion controlling and the Wii remote plugged into a steering wheel. With TrackMania there is a more serious fun that needs to be had and the steering wheel options leads to too many mistakes. Sticking with the Wii remote on its side or even plugging in the nunchuk will give players a bit more control on the racing. TrackMania’s multiplayer is curiously serious, racing again and again to shave only hundredths of seconds off your time. Even with its unforgiving nature the game is still a huge amount of fun with a good balance of racing, challenges and track creation. It does require a lot of grinding to perfect your skill and if that is too much for you then just move on. g

AT A GLANCE: Bundled TrackMania for the Wii. It’s racing precision at its best with all the corners and curves. Developer: Firebrand Games Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

important to this racing game than any other I have ever played, and the slightest error might cost you the gold. The track creators are always added to a game to lengthen it and let the player make or change the courses in the game. The creator in TrackMania is the relaxing part and has a simple interface to let the player quickly snap parts of the track together. Spending coppers earned from racing unlocks new blocks to use in the tracks. At first it might seem a bit overwhelming but once the rotation and zoom tools are mastered it gets a lot easier to clip in those blocks, especially when there are different heights involved. An extra bonus is once players have constructed their first track the puzzle mode is unlocked. This mode gives the player incomplete tracks with just the right amount of blocks to finish it, and they will need to place them correctly. I suppose this mode, even though it’s limited to

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

77 91


Dive to the Titanic

The Murky Depths The Grand Old Lady lies in wait…

it. The graphics are rather good too, with the dark ocean depths and the rusting hulk of the world’s largest ocean liner looking absolutely fantastic. The problem with this game comes in on the control level. There are a hell of a lot of key inputs, and they don’t make a lot of sense on default. They can be remapped, but there are so many that the player will probably want to take notes. While this game is not everyone’s cup of tea, it will most certainly appeal to a certain niche in the market… simulator fans should keep their eyes peeled for it. g

AT A GLANCE: A great experience for simulator fans, this is a detailed, interesting underwater adventure. Developer: Astragon Publisher: Excalibur Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 92

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

T

he Titanic captured the hearts and minds of people around the globe on the day she sailed. And after she struck an iceberg and sank, she still does. Millions are spent exploring the depths, while the ship slowly decays into nothingness. Now simulation fans can join the exploration, albeit in a virtual sense. As pilot of an advanced mini-sub, players of Dive to the Titanic get to find the old lady in the murky depths and explore her water-filled passages and cabins. The game is surprisingly fun, although it takes the kind of player that is pedantic and patient to get through

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

77

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c ompe t i t io n • c omp eti ti o n • com pe tit ion • com pe t ition • com pe t it ion

Teamwork!

WIN

An Operation Flashpoint: Red River hamper for PS3! Courtesy of Megarom TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gamecca.co.za. Tell us who developed Operation Flashpoint: Red River. Insert ‘OFRR competition’ in the mail’s subject line. Subscribe to www.gamecca.co.za Like Gamecca’s Facebook Page Competition closes 31 May 2011. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Hampers may not include a copy of the game. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC & Megarom Interactive. The judges’ decision is final.


Pokémon Black and White

Pokémon Masterpiece I choose you!

P

okémon Black and White brings hopes, dreams, and discoveries to Pokémon fans. Everyone seems to have been hoping for 3D in this title since the first screenshots and videos came out. But after discovering that this is only true in a 2D kind of way and will not do anything different on the Nintendo 3DS, they settle for dreaming about their Pokémon in 3D. Sarcastic notions aside, the latest version of the successful Pokémon series is just another DS game. Playing the game in the Nintendo 3DS has no hidden features or exclusivity just like any other DS games used with the console. This does not take away from its way amazing features and gripping new story line. In every Pokémon game there has to be a Yang to your Yin in the story and they are normally as blinded as Team Rocket, with only a few sharp tools in the shed. In Black and White they have really out-done themselves with the story. Most of the time adult Pokémon fans and some younger ones are rushing through the game so that they can get to the levelling at the end and battle in the tournaments. This makes the story a slog, as if levelling

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by Brian Murdoch Pokémon to level 100 was not enough. The story here had me interested and intrigued so much that I am almost temped to get another cartridge or backup this one to replay the story without losing all that effort. This game, just like all the other DS versions of its kind, is a collect-and-battle Pokémon game. That’s how the first Pokémon games started and the idea continues to be a great hit. The old questions of if you’re a boy or girl Pokémon trainer and the explanation of Pokémon and the role they play in our lives are the standard introductions. Then on to the fun stuff that makes you feel like a kid, even if you’ve done it before; picking your starter Pokémon and catching more to make a team. Level them up to earn badges by beating gym leaders and all the other battles required by the story. This title is not only for those that have played Pokémon before; the game is a great starter for new comers or people that would like to see what all the fuss is about. Throughout the Black or White story you will find not one Pokémon from the previous series. There are 156 new Pokémon unique to the Unova region. This evens out the

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tilts in the camera that make the elements come out in the game. This is the source of all the 3D fuss because, when seen in trailers, players will think it’s 3D when it is just a camera angle change in 2D. Having played around with the different resolutions on the DSi XL and 3DS (using standard and expanded) I find myself wanting a smaller screen. I can’t get it small enough because the Pokémon closer to the screen is not as clear as the one on the other side of the battle. The animations of the Pokémon look so good when my enemy has them, but a little pixelated on my side. Game Freak always makes a better game than the previous one and with Black and White there is no exception. We know that 3D Pokémon cards are going to come with the trading card game and that there will be another version of Pokémon that will use the 3DS features so well. These are good things to look forward to and if you’re a veteran or a new trainer, then Black and White is a good booster for the Pokémon community. g

AT A GLANCE: An improved version of the same, with new Pokémon. Great for beginners and out-of-touch fans, as well as veterans. Developer: Game Freak Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

playing field a little as we are all learning the new names and abilities of the Pokémon. The Dream world is another extra and is the replacement to the Pokéwalker from Diamond and Pearl. Use the C-Gear in game to put one of your Pokémon to sleep and play online with that Pokémon for a limited one hour a day. Here that Pokémon can wonder around and is able to get other Pokémon and berries to bring back into the game. This will also interest most people in the other range of games on the Pokémon online site to collect and obtain other things for their online profile or in game benefits. The battles modes have not changed but there are some new ways to fight. Triple Battles and Rotation Battles each bring their own unique differences in strategy. In Triple Battles the far left can’t attack the far right. Group damage and joining attacks are new things that could cripple an entire team in these battles. The Rotational Battles are fun in being able to swap Pokémon before attacks and almost turn the standard battle strategies on their head. The engine of the game might be the same but there are

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

83 95


Getting off won’t be so easy

O

ver the last couple of years, hidden-object games have really evolved into a fun-filled experience, and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is no different. From exploring hidden caves to collecting objects for later use, the title grips the player for long hours on end. Although the graphics aren’t terrible, developer eGames could have invested a bit more time in the details and level layout, but that doesn’t make the game horrible. On the contrary, the title is incredibly addictive and the few twists and turns make for good fun. As far as a loose plot goes, Robinson Crusoe is stranded on an isolated island in the middle of nowhere, and it’s up to the player to find hidden objects through

by Charlie Fripp the six stages to help Crusoe rebuild his ship. Many of the levels comprise of secondary objectives that have to be fulfilled in order to continue, like finding a candle among the many objects to shed some light in a cave. It takes a bit away from the mundane normality of hidden-object games, keeping the genre fresh. But the game doesn’t only have hidden-object levels. On many occasions the player will be tasked with completing a puzzle first in order to reveal the real hidden-object aspect of any given level. The game can be a bit difficult at times as some of the objects are really well hidden and can be somewhat small, but that doesn’t take away from the fun. It’s a great title to keep the young ones interested and will provide for

AT A GLANCE: Although a bit difficult at times, it will provide hours of fun. Developer: eGames Publisher: Avanquest Software Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 96

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Land ahoy!

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

79

g a m e c c a r ev i ew • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


Project Freedom

Spaced…

Simplicity is the name of this game

performance. There are a lot of aspects of Project Freedom that could be better but, when all is said and done, it’s still an addictive and enjoyable game for those who don’t want to put too much thought in at the time. Just don’t expect too much of a ground breaking experience… this is an older game, and should be treated as such. Ignore some of the dodgier elements (like the occasional really bad character model) and you should be A-OK. g

AT A GLANCE: A very simple, yet oddly satisfying space shooter – if you can look past its shortcomings. Developer: City Interactive Publisher: City Interactive Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ 98

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

P

roject Freedom is, quite simply, a space shooter. While it might try to pass itself off as some kind of space based flight sim, it really is more of an arcade shooter that allows the player to tool around and blow up lots of different things. The controls for this game are almost all mouse-based. The player will steer, attack and determine speed with that peripheral. The keyboard is only really used in-game to switch weapons. While the player’s ship is upgradable, these upgrades are automated, and happen according to the player’s

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

65

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3 Zumba Fitness ® © 2010. All rights reserved. Published by 505 Games. 505 Games and the 505 Games logo are registered trademarks of 505 Games s.r.l. All rights reserved. Under License from Majesco Entertainment Company. Zumba®, Zumba Fitness ® and the Zumba Fitness logo are registered trademarks of Zumba Fitness, LLC used under license. FMOD Sound System, copyright © Firelight Technologies Pty, Ltd., 1994-2010. “2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” and “À” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” is a trademark of the same company. KINECT, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Wii is a trademark of Nintendo.


But not too much of a clone game…

T

he Clone Wars characters are already so close to being LEGO characters that, if you think about it, you almost can’t make out the difference. This leaves more space for creativity in the story, dialog (LEGO people don’t talk) and general story of it. It also makes the title look great on all the consoles, no matter what power is provided. The version of Super Street Fighter IV for the Xbox and 3DS are identical and there is no real performance difference (and the 3DS has more features)… but this is not true for LEGO Star Wars. I don’t understand why but the hand-held game is watered down. The story line is still played on each planet with 3 acts in each stage to complete but there is no flying to other planets or star systems. The close-lid-and-pause feature on the DS is really needed here because players can’t save mid stage or ever after an act; not until the stage has been completed. Street Pass comes to the 3DS version but is really not

by Brian Murdoch

a feature that deserves to be on the back of the box. All it does is give you more studs… not even the name of the player that gave them to you. These studs are effected by your stud modifiers and can be collected up to 7,5 million studs. There seems to be fewer characters to unlock in the hand-held version so this amount of studs can clear all of them on one shot. The mini games unlocked are fun but at times very difficult. Drone Volleyball and Lightsaber Baseball were my easiest and hardest games respectively. The graphics are great and the 3D effect is handled very well and is even needed in some areas. They did not stuff around here; I found myself missing the jumps that require vertical running to get there. When I turned on the 3D, I could make them with ease. The game is better than most other DS games and will keep players entertained for a long time but there is a lot missing when compared to the HD versions. My advice would be to get both, if you can afford it and have the consoles.g

AT A GLANCE: Although it’s great on the 3D small screen, there’s some stuff missing from this version... Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Lucasarts Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ 100

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

3DS Platforms

Lego Star Wars III:The Clone Wars

3D Clones

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

73

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Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull

Solving a Mystery One hidden object at a time

Going beyond the normality of just searching for objects, the title puts the player in an environment that needs closer inspection to solve all the riddles. Moving around the mansion, players will have to navigate the many rooms, and upon entering will be presented with a handful of options and areas to search. While the normal search for objects is present, some inhabitants of the house will task the player with finding additional objects in return for a reward. This reward will then be used in other parts of the house to unlock more areas. While it’s a hidden-object game at its core, the liveaction videos lend a feeling of true mystery to the title, and while the walking around the house is fun, searching for the hidden objects is equally as thrilling. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s really refreshing to see how hidden-object games have evolved, and 13th Skull is no different. Developer: Big Fish Games Publisher: Focus Essential Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ 102

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

I

t’s really refreshing to see how hidden-object titles have evolved throughout the years, and it seems that the genre has been given a new lease on life in the last year or so, with developers really going out of their way to take them beyond the boring element of just searching for objects. With the seventh instalment of the hugely successful Mystery Case Files franchise, developers Big Fish Games have truly gone out of their way to make 13th Skull entertaining, as well as gripping. The title starts off with the player taking on the role of a detective who is tasked with solving the mysterious disappearance of a man from a mansion in Louisiana. The game starts with a live-action video explaining what happened, something that is rather unusual for budget games.

by Charlie Fripp

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS 3DS

Score

82

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Flashtastic

Gravity Rules Be good at falling

By James Francis

E

ver get that feeling that you are stuck? Going nowhere? Perpetually bound? Maybe you’re in a rut. But perhaps you are just a selfish bastard who can’t spare an inch of gratitude for gravity. Were it not for this strange and wonderful force, you would spiral into space -

where it is really hard to hit the urinal and not your shoes. But nobody would decline the ability to bend gravity. For one thing, changing light bulbs would be much easier and you would never struggle to find parking. Not unless the ceiling is taken... g

VVVVVV http://www.kongregate.com/games/TerryCavanagh/ vvvvvv-demo Alas, not the full game, but a demo. Still, this game will have you climbing the walls at high speed as you duck and dive through all kinds of creative platforming hazards. It looks like an old-school game that was snuck off a magnetic tape. It plays like it too, employing that harder-than-hell masochistic streak so well known in the games of the ‘80s. This has attained a cult following in Indie circles, partly because it is actually relentlessly challenging. But that, as you will discover from the games below, is the point: Hell to play, but you just can’t stop... because you are so very close...trademark style and polish, it’s hard to find equals...

Gravity Hook HD http://gravityhookhd.com/ Taking up the theme that this genre is impossibility bred with addiction, Gravity Hook HD does not get much simpler and harder. You are a robot and using your grappling claw (which shoots out) you have to climb as high as possible. It’s go-as-far-as-you-can, except instead of just dodging things, you have to aim and shoot, hopefully giving the robot momentum to reach up higher. Eventually you will miss the shot and then, if you are fast, you might be able to yank the robot out of oblivion - because once you pass the bottom of the screen, it is over. But that’s just another chance to start again.

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Mining Truck 2 http://www.solidgames.com/mining-truck-2.html Sometimes it is not the destination, but the journey. Sometimes it’s about the stuff you found on that journey. Sometimes you make a lot of money from that stuff. Sometimes you even find a chest with a helmet in it. But it is safe to say that more than sometimes you’ll be hurtling down a maze of tunnels, trying to keep your cargo of oil, coal, gems and more safe and intact until the end. Mining Truck is an interesting take on physics/ gravity games. You can reach the end of the level with nothing, but the real challenge is to move what the level objectives demand, as well as extra items that give bonus gear or points. Even at its simplest you can’t help playing.

Push And Pull http://www.quickflashgames.com/games/push-andpull_v697146/ Sometimes you play the player. But every now and then you get to play the environment. Usually the providence of god games, this notion finds itself in the strange world of Push And Pull. Strange, firstly, because it is a love story, but involves an astronaut trying to reach the far hatch of a room. Each room can have several obstacles, most often deadly spinning blades - possibly a metaphor for the troubles of love, but certainly a material risk to your guy. The way to get him through safely is by activating lights at the bottom of the level. Each light does something different - raise the astronaut, lower him, slow him down, etc. The aim is to find the correct pattern that beats the level. Since the formula is so native to experimenting - you can just keep trying - it is also hard to put down.

Gravinaytor http://www.gimme5games.com/play-game/gravinaytor Okay, so far every single one of the write-ups end by saying how you are doomed to addiction. This is not overstating things, since gravity games flex your brain just enough for it to want more. But there is an antidote and it is called Gravinaytor. This game is not bad. In fact it is quite excellent. It is also nigh-impossible at times, requiring the perfect match of luck and timing. Here your character has to reach the exit. To do this he has to jump into fields that change gravity, inverting his momentum and shooting him into the other direction. You essentially slingshot the guy across a stage filled with hazards. We’ll admit that we gave up at level 18, which is where the insanity starts. But there are legends of those who have reached the final level.

gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011

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Mobility

Hollywood! Films coming to the tiny screen

by Charlie Fripp

M

obile games have grown immensely since the introduction of the smart phone, and Hollywood hasn’t been very far behind. Just as films spawn console and PC games, mobile gaming has quickly been

able to latch onto the excitement of the big screen. In this edition, we’ll take a look at some of the more recent pixelated incarnations of Hollywood’s blockbusters.g

Sherlock Holmes THE OFFICIAL MOVIE GAME Step into the shoes of one of the world’s most wellloved and notorious detectives as he tries to solve the mystery of the disappearing women of London. Players will be able to play as Holmes, but there will be opportunities to play as Watson as well in this fistfighting and bar-brawling adventure.

Fast Five THE OFFICIAL MOVIE GAME Playing as Brain O’Conner, gamers will have to drift, race and boost their way to the finish line in the official game that follows the storyline of the latest film in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Racing will take place in exotic locations like Rio, Las Vegas and Hong Kong and the ability to tune and customise has returned.

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Iron Man 2 Also based on the highly successful film version, players will be able to play as either Iron Man or as War Machine in an attempt to battle it out with Ultimo, Firepower and Whiplash, in game that spans nine locations in stunning 3D. While fighting off hoards of mechanical foes, make use of Tony Stark’s famous weapons like the Repulsors and the devastating Unibeam.

Chronicles of Narnia VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER Playing as Prince Caspian, Edmund, or Lucy, players will have to sail into Narnia to battle sea monsters and dragons in epic battles in the mobile version. Once the player arrives at the Goldwater Islands, which is also home to the Dufflepuds, it will be up to the player to unravel many mysteries, while battling the monsters at sea and on the Dawn Treader’s deck.

Jurassic Park Everybody remembers the memorable scene when the big dino stuck its head through door, and now gamers can relive those scenes when they play as Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant. All the environments and buildings of Isla Nublar have been faithfully reproduced, as gamers will discover a new story of Jurassic Park while exploring the jungle, rivers and facilities of the island. Oh yes, and be on the lookout for the giant T-Rex.

gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011

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Essential Classics

Diablo 2

The evergreen fantasy action classic by Walt Pretorius

T

here’s been quite a lot of speculation regarding the release of Diablo 3 for some time now, with fans hoping that it happens sooner rather than later. Although it still looks unlikely for this year, we might get a surprise announcement at E3 next month- particularly since a Blizzard spokesperson is quoted as saying that the highly anticipated action fantasy title is “in the home stretch.” As far as Blizzard goes, of course, that could mean anything, and their policy of releasing games “when they’re ready” means that we won’t get a solid release date until a month or two before the title is going to hit shelves. What is certain is that when Diablo 3 does arrive, it will be quite the event. And it’s no wonder; 11 years after its initial release,

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Diablo 2 is still a firm favourite among gamers. The game was, of course, preceded by the original Diablo in 1996, but the 2000 Blizzard title was the one that caused all the fuss, along with its Lord of Destruction expansion, which followed a year later. It certainly has been a long wait for the sequel, and the fact that people are so excited about it, combined with the fact that people are still playing Diablo 2 more than a decade after it hit the shelves speaks volumes for the franchise – and, of course, for Diablo 2. But, quite honestly, it’s not really a big surprise. Diablo 2 had what it took, at the time of release, to capture the hearts and minds of gamers the world over. While the initial release was a little shakey, and was missing gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011


a number of the promised features, the game was soon patched up to be exactly what gamers wanted; an action packed adventure game, based in a fantasy world. In addition, it gave the player the option of five unique character classes (which expanded to seven with the release of Lord of Destruction) and massive amounts of customisation. This personalisation of characters was allowed by extensive skill trees and a massive store of items that could be found. In addition, a randomised level system meant that the game’s already massive play-time was increased greatly, as players could not only get a new experience with each of the characters, but also by replaying levels they had already visited. gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011

And then, of course, there was the fact that it provided an excellent co-operative gaming experience, allowing players to take on the forces of evil in groups – not only locally, but also via the Battle.Net service online. There have been other titles that have followed in Diablo 2’s footsteps – the awesome Titan Quest springs to mind – but, even if they brought new and improved ideas to the genre, none were able to innovate quite the way Diablo 2 did. It was a landmark title, without a doubt, and the achievements that the franchise made with the release of this game are likely to be improved in the new title. But until it is released, it looks like we’ll have to keep playing Diablo 2 for a while… which, quite honestly, is not a bad thing. g

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MSI N580GTX Graphics Card

A New Benchmark You want power? You go it!

by Alex Scanlon

G

raphics cards are something we get to look at fairly regularly here at Gladget, which is always fun. But often the cards become something of a blur – for the average user, the differences between many of these cards are almost imperceptible. It is only the enthusiast who notices the often small differences in the cards, and then only if they run some kind of diagnostic program. But the truth remains that a more powerful (and more expensive) graphics card will deliver a better experience, particularly in terms of 3D applications and video gaming. This is one of the components where more certainly equates to more. Enter the MSI N580GTX. This is a card that the makers are so confident in, they actually ship it with a free advanced edition of 3DMark 11, the accepted top benchmarking tool for graphics cards. What this says to the consumer is that this card can prove itself when put through its paces by this thorough benchmarking tool. But it could also be a clever marketing ploy, now,

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couldn’t it? We decided to find out for ourselves, stuck the card into a test PC and ran 3DMark on it. The results, quite honestly, were impressive. The inclusion of the free software with the card is not a temptation – rather, it is MSI putting their money where their mouth is. The N580GTX ships with 1536MB or GDDR5 memory, meaning that it’s already fast performance – granted by the chipset – works even better, thanks to the large amount of on-board memory. The processor itself is rather quick and, supported by MSI’s easy-to-use Afterburner overclocking software, users can squeeze amazing amounts of power out of the card. The box claims that the card has up to 85% overclocking capability, but we were a little too hesitant to push it that far. Regardless, the card performed well under pressure, and tweaking a few settings delivered good results – we checked. As with almost all NVidia cards on the market these g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


days, this card comes with SLI technology, 3D Vision technology, PhysX technology and a host of other built in functions that make it an excellent way to view graphics, whether they be HD video, 3D games or anything else. On the downside, it is a rather power-hungry card, requiring a minimum 600w PSU for use. OK, quite honestly, any gamer worth his salt will be packing a bigger power supply than that. We’re just saying. What is disappointing is the ports that the card has. It features two DVI ports, and one mini-HDMI port. Sure, you don’t need more than three ports, but we would have liked to see a few more video output options. Not that the ports are a deal-breaker. This card is well worth the money, and will deliver exceptional performance in virtually any system that meets its requirements. As always, the bundled software offers a lot of added power and versatility, and the excellent construction of the card almost guarantees a long life-span. It might be a little costly, but we firmly believe that every cent invested into this monster is money well spent. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Very powerful • Bundled software

CONS:

• A little pricey • Few port options

Manufacturer: MSI Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R5599

A powerful option for those willing to spend a bit extra on a graphics card… and it comes with the software to prove it!

TECH SPECS: • NVidia 580 chipset • 1.5GB GDDR5 • Afterburner software • SLI ready • 3D Vision ready • PhysX

Score

97 111


Razer Lycosa Keyboard

Stylish Backlights and all…

by Walt Pretorius

A

keyboard can make all the difference to a number of PC applications. Whether it be inputting of letters and digits for writing purposes, or to help control a game, having a good, responsive and well-built keyboard can make your computing experience much better. Razer are known for their gaming peripherals – most notably their gaming mouse products – and they have a broad variety of input options for those that concentrate on playing games on their PC. At the lower end of the range is the Razer Lycosa, but that statement shouldn’t be taken to mean that it is a low end keyboard. In fact, the Lycosa is an excellent piece of hardware, for gaming and any other PC use. The stylish black keyboard features keys that are finished with a comfortable, non-slip surface, and tastefully backlit with a gentle blue light. This backlighting has three options… the user can either have all the keys illuminated, turn all the illumination off, or have just the WADS keys lit up.

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Naturally, this last option is great for gamers, particularly those that play games requiring movement controlled by these keys. Above the number pad, a set of multimedia controls have been included in the form of a touch-sensitive pad. In addition to these handy controls, which govern volume, audio playback and the like, is the control for the keyboard back-lighting. The user can cycle through the three presets from here. At the far end – or top edge, if you prefer – of the keyboard are headphone and speaker jacks, as well as a USB port. These are directed to the keyboard by the generous cable, which plugs into the respective ports at the back of the PC. It’s a great idea, because it can help keep clutter to a minimum. The keyboard also features a detachable wrist rest. However, if you’re thinking of removing it, you’ll need a screw-driver… the rest is literally bolted to the keyboard. That’s a good thing, actually, because clip-on wrist rests can be damaged during transporting. g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


The rather light-weight keyboard is strongly constructed, none the less, and provides the user with a very comfortable use experience. The keys are beautifully responsive, and deliver a quiet yet audible click when depressed. The keyboard is further governed by software that can be downloaded from the Razer website. With this software, the user can set up all number of options for the keyboard. The only downside of the Lycosa is that it is a little pricey. If the user is a keen gamer, getting this keyboard – with its reliable performance and tough construction – is not a bad idea. But everyday users may not want to spend quite so much money on a keyboard that has few functions more than ‘normal’ input devices. Either way, the Lycosa delivers excellent performance all-round, so those that want a reliable and strong keyboard may well consider it. It’s good looking, comfortable to use and sensible. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Versatile backlights • Extra ports • Sturdy

CONS:

• Pricey • Not many added features

TECH SPECS: • • • • •

Backlight Headphone port Microphone port USB port Media controls

Manufacturer: Razer Distributor: Apex Interactive Online: www.apexint.co.za RRP: R899.95

Score

A sturdy and reliable keyboard, although maybe just a bit pricey.

78 113


Apacer 8GB SD Flash Card

Big, yet Small An SD brand to keep a lookout for…

by Walt Pretorius

W

hat can one say about an SD card? Well, quite a lot, really, if you use them regularly. A good SD card is an important addition to anyone’s arsenal these days, particularly if they use digital devices like cameras, video recorders and the like. Apacer, who are well known for their digital storage and memory modules, produce a thoroughly excellent SD card. Like any other, the Apacer 8GB SD Flash Card works with a multitude of devices. Thus far, it has been reliable (we say thus far because it takes quite some time for SD cards to degrade… more time than we had for this review). The card is a little thicker than other SD cards (we’re talking hair-breadths) so some older devices provide it with a tight fit. Best of all is its price. With a recommended retail of around R170, it certainly is a bargain. Of all the brands on the market, there are only a handful that provide excellent reliability, and we suspect that this card is one of them. g

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AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• High capacity • Great price

CONS:

• A little thicker than normal

TECH SPECS: • 8GB

Manufacturer: Apacer Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R169

Score

A good, reliable SD card at an excellent price.

78

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


And a few other extras, too…

by Rob Edwards

L

ooking after your DSi XL is a good idea – it’s a pretty expensive piece of hardware, after all. And even if you’re yearning for a 3DS, you should take care of what you have! Atomic’s Easy XL accessory pack makes this task simple. The pack includes a stiff case, lined with a soft material. In addition, protector films for the two screens are also included, as well as a ‘soft card’ to help with applying and removing them. Further, the kit has three game boxes, two styluses, a set of headphones and a funky screen cleaner that doubles as a decorative pendant. The kit sports a funky black and white design, and is great for keeping your DSi XL well protected. The added bonus of extra styluses and headphones doesn’t hurt, either. Of course, you can keep you 3DS in it until accessories for the new Nintendo handheld flood the market, but be aware of the fact that the screen protectors and game cases are not compatible. Still, for the price, it’s a great deal, no matter which kind of DS you’re going to keep in it. The various parts are well made and sturdy, and the stylus tips are good quality. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Good quality • Funky design • Value for money

CONS:

• Not for the 3DS

Manufacturer: Atomic Distributor: Sensation Lab Online: www.take2.co.za RRP: R249

TECH SPECS: • Stiff case • 2 x screen protectors • 2 x styluses • Headphones • 3 x game cases • Screen cleaner

Score

A good quality accessory kit for Nintendo DSi XL owners.

79 115

Atomic Easy XL Utility Pack

Protection


ORB GX1 Headphones

Hear Me

Talking and listening at the same time is great by Charlie Fripp

P

laying games on a console or PC can become a bit of a tricky affair when silence needs to be observed in the household – especially when online chat is involved. Luckily ORB has come to the rescue with their all-in-one GX1 headset. See, not only does the headset stream the game sounds, but it also integrates the online chat into the headphones, so there is no need to look like a spastic robot trying to juggle two different sets of earpieces. This particular headset is compatible with the Xbox 360 and PC, while there is a separate version for the PlayStation. Besides for the headphones, included in the box are all the necessary cables to make it work – including a rather lengthy cable that houses separate in-line volume controls for game and chat sounds. The cups aren’t great, as they tend to be a bit small, squashing the user’s ears a bit after prolonged use, but on the up side, they are very loud and the sounds are crystal clear. The chat sounds and built-in microphone could have been a bit better, as users will find themselves juggling between the two volumes to get the balance right. An all-round good headphone set, it’s great for

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gamers who live on a budget but don’t expect it to work beyond its prime. It serves as a good entry-level all-in-one headset combo. g

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Loud • Easy to use • Versatile

CONS:

• Cups are uncomfortable • Needs a USB to work

Manufacturer: ORB Distributor: Sensation Lab Online: www.take3.co.za RRP: R689

TECH SPECS: • Game sounds and chat simultaneously • USB powered • Built-in microphone • Generous cable • Xbox & PC compatible

Score

Although it’s a great entry-level headset, it does have its flaws.

75

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


A steady supply of AA energy

by Alex Scanlon

T

he biggest problem with batteries is that they are a pain to replace. We don’t mean putting them into the device that needs them – rather, we mean buying them or, even worse, not having bought any when you really need them. The argument for rechargeable batteries is, as always, strong. Well known battery producer Duracell have some rechargeable options, like the Duracell Active Charge Mini Charger. This device, which plugs directly into a two pin wall socket, charges two AA or AAA batteries at a time. It can be used with any brand of rechargeable battery, apparently. Although it only charges two batteries at a time – we prefer models that do four – the truth is that most devices using AA or AAA batteries make use of two, so it sort of works out. The charging cycle is relatively fast, with batteries going from dead to full of life in around 8 hours, depending on brand. The units come in a few different colours, and look better than the average ‘exposed battery’ chargers, thanks to a stylish cover. In all, a good choice, and as reliable as one would expect from Duracell. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Nice design • Versatile • Fairly quick

CONS:

• Only two batteries at a time

TECH SPECS: • AA Batteries • AAA Batteries • 8 hour charge time

Manufacturer: Duracell Distributor: Duracell Online: www.duracell.com RRP: TBC

Score

Better looking than most, this is a handy two battery charger that handles AA and AAA batteries.

79 117

Duracell Active Charge Mini Charger

Keep the Power Up


Apacer AL670 HD Media Player

Entry Level

Decent performance, but lacking in some ways… by Alex Scanlon

M

edia players are an important part of a home entertainment system these days. Whether you are making digital copies of your own DVDs (to protect the originals) or getting media files through less honest means, the ability to play movie files on a TV is quite important. But the interface between the files and the TV sometimes gets tricky (unless you are lucky enough to have a TV that can play these files directly off of an external hard drive or USB stick.) Enter the media player… There are numerous companies taking on the media player market these days, including Apacer. Apacer is generally best known for their memory modules and digital storage devices, so it’s no small wonder that they would try this market out, too. That said, this brings to light the fact that their entry level media player, the AL670, has absolutely no built in data storage. None. Older media players commonly do not have built-in storage space, but

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newer competitors to the AL670 have certainly got some way to store files built in. This anachronistic approach seems somewhat strange. What the AL670 does is sit between your hard-drive – be it external, PC based, or whatever – or other removable media and the TV you want to view said media on. It’s pretty much a media-decoder in a box and, to that end, it handles massive variety of file types. All kinds of media can be used with the device, from music to movies, and it can decode almost every format around. Picture is delivered either via component cables or HDMI, and media sources can be connected to the unit using one of its two USB ports, or a LAN cable. The TV image is delivered in full HD, which is a win, but the chip set used to decode the files is a little on the old side, meaning that enthusiasts may be a little disappointed in the unit’s performance. On the upside, it offers full bit torrent support, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing – at least, copyright owners g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1


won’t think it is. The AL670 is attractively designed, and is fairly resistant to scratches and finger prints. It looks good next to virtually any TV, and is a fairly discrete addition to the home entertainment kit. It ships with a full function remote control as well, which helps the user navigate its fairly varied functions with ease. In addition, the odd component-out ports used by the unit necessitate that it ships with these cables as well. In the end, it is a decent entry-level media player, but it won’t offer much competition to bigger models. Sure, the pricing is good, but someone who is serious about their media player will likely opt for a model that features a current generation chip and some kind of internal storage. While the lower pricing may be attractive, the user will need to spend extra money on external storage, if they don’t already have any. In addition, this adds an extra step to the process… the user cannot simply load files onto the AL670 itself. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 3 • M ay 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Nice price • Good performance

CONS:

• Older chip • No internal storage

Manufacturer: Apacer Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R899

TECH SPECS: • Multiple file formats • 2x USB ports • Full HD playback • Bit torrent support • HDMI output

Score

It performs well enough, but it’s older chip and lack of internal storage don’t do it many favours.

65 119


Portalling... From Space

by Columnist A

I

just finished Portal 2. If you must know, it was the PC version. More specifically, the version published on Steam and made available to PC and Mac users. Yes, I use a Mac. It’s a “work” machine in the sense that it’s my laptop, but I use it mostly for writing, browsing the web and looking at the crap other reviewers and journalists put forward as “writing”. I use that word in its loosest sense. My bitter inner dispute aside, let’s get back to Portal 2. I played the original game on my Xbox 360, as part of the Orange Box. It’s the only game on that disc that I ever finished and one of the very few that I can add to my list of all time favourite

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games. If we look at the game’s origins and development, it would’ve been hard to predict that it would be as popular as it was. Nobody expected anything more than what was shown in the trailers, and what they got was something that started a craze. Internet jokes about cakes, and a memorable end credits ditty defined the Portal generation. Of course, the second game had to build on that. It’s longer, there are more clever puzzles, it’s got a deeper plot that explores the history of Aperture Science and there are subtle references to the first game. Thankfully, no cake jokes. We’re not quite ready for another round of

repetitive quips, just yet. What Portal 2 does have, though, is the most satisfying ending in the history of videogames. Now, I’m a fussy gamer and I’ve probably not played a lot of what people consider classics, but I can confidently say that the closing events in Portal 2 are the best in the world. Pay close attention to the story and what is being said, as you play, and that final shot with the ASHPD will make you go “yesssssssss”, as you fistpump and laugh uncontrollably. And when you think back to what just happened, you’ll realise that nobody could’ve done it better. g

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Gamecca Magazine May 2011