Medal of Honour Beta Preview


Medal of Honour takes its first venture into the Modern warzone with this new title. The beta will be released to all who pre-ordered on the 21st of June; however, I got a sneaky look inside the Beta. Being a veteran of the previous Medal of Honour games, I was interested to see what this game had on offer.

Similarities

Most people will compare this game to Battlefield Bad Company 2 or the Call of Duty series, predominantly the Modern warfare titles. You wouldn’t be wrong to do that. It’s a refreshing blend of what both games do well. CoD is known for its fast-paced action and that is certainly carried into this title. The controls in CoD are, I think, the reason for this, they are all on hand and where you need them to be. MoH uses a similar, if not identical, set up. This allows people to run and use the gun with ease. I did have fears that this would be a CoD clone and that’s not the case with the inclusion of features from BC2. If you own BC2 then you will notice that the heads up display is quite similar and the fact that the maps are fundamentally ‘open’ with no barriers around them, this leaves the battlefield feeling light and airy. It also feels like the character your playing has some weight and isn’t just gliding over the surface.

Gameplay

A common feature in both CoD and BC2 were campers, I think that MoH has dealt with this quite well. In both the maps that I have played online I haven’t had problems with campers, I don’t really know what they have done, but it works. There are only two maps available to play in the Beta but that’s more than enough to experience the game. There is one map for each game mode, one of which you may have seen being demoed at E3. The team deathmatch mode is simple; each team tries to get a certain amount of kills within a time limit. The mission mode is an objective based game where you have to either destroy or capture points on the map. Quite a fun game mode to play as you can’t sit and camp right next to the objectives very easily; it forces you to become more tactical than CoD. The buildings seem to be designed in a very camper un-friendly way with more than one root in, often two or three that can’t be covered by sitting in a corner.

The game has a sense of satisfaction when you kill someone that CoD just doesn’t have, it must be the fact that you’re not killing someone or dying every five seconds, that sounds bad but I think that the slightly slower pace gives you time to prepare for what’s around the next corner. Unfortunately, you don’t really get a lot of feedback from the sniper. Even if you get a hit you can’t really tell because there aren’t any spasms that help to indicate that you are, indeed, hitting them. Of course, there is the little ‘x’ on the HUD that appears when you hit but that just doesn’t feel right. It’s not helped by only having a Red Dot sight attached at the start of the game, this doesn’t allow you to zoom in to the extent of the scope and get a closer view of further away targets, which often leads to having to guess where they are and often wasting ammo. It seems fine on the quicker firing weapons or at closer distances though. There is always the hope of this being added in the final product.

The game has a separate unlock system for each class, very similar to Bad Company 2. However, it just doesn’t have the same feel. In Bad Company 2 you were unlocking new weapons every few levels with a fair total for each class at the end of it. This game however only has three weapons for each class, including the weapon that class starts with. This seems rather limited and underwhelming to me. There is a huge range of weapons that could have been added into the game yet there are only nine different weapons in the whole of the multiplayer experience. Of course, there are vehicles to vary gameplay a bit, but it feels like they have been plucked straight from Bad Company 2. Maybe Bad Company 2 with its large maps, variation of weapons and optimised use of vehicles has spoilt us because it just feels like Call of Duty that has vehicles tacked on.

Gameplay

I can’t say the graphics are bad because I have seen worse; however, the gun seems a bit ‘squared off’ and very polygonal. Another thing is the size of the muzzle flash, Its hugely excessive and covers a whole person if they are crouched down, this basically means its guess work to fire back at them which is a disappointment; however, the game does handle debris and broken objects nicely. I love the way that a 40mm grenade will cause a dust cloud after it explodes. It looks quite good and adds to the feel that the battlefield is a place of war not casual entertainment. This game also boasts semi-destructible environments. Not Bad Company 2 style but the objects that you would expect to be destroyed in any game can be destroyed in quite an impressive way.

My opinion

Of course, this is only a Beta and, hopefully, not what we can expect from the full game. There are bugs and glitches everywhere, plus a rather irritating freeze that tends to occur after about the second consecutive match. This needs to be sorted for the full release. I’m not majorly impressed by this title, I will keep open minded though, this is subject to change and improvement; it’s still quite a long way from the release. On full release, I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets around 75% from metacritic. That is going on the multiplayer, we don’t know what the single player will be like until the game lands but I have a feeling this won’t be the bombshell everyone expects it to be.

By Chris Thompson

Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2 review

The first game was a good foothold for the series to launch themselves into developing IP’s for the PS3 but it wasn’t without its problems. There were a few issues that I had with the cover system and thought that the game was a bit of a hurried combination of the Platforming and Third-person shooting Genre. Disappointingly, with the first game there was no multiplayer something that Gears of War seem to do quite well in. Now this has all been rectified in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Uncharted 2 sees you; once again, take control of Nathan Drake searching for the mysterious artefact called the Cintamani Stone in the lost kingdom of Shambhala. There are two very welcome returns to the cast – Sully and Elena – plus a few newcomers, possibly a previous love interest for Nathan? There isn’t a dull moment with these three following you over the globe trying to seek out the mystery of Marco Polo’s voyage where 13 ships were lost and 600 people lost their lives. This eventually leads them to Shambhala, a pure Buddhist Kingdome, in which there is rumoured to be the Cintamani Stone, A huge sapphire worth billions.

You would be mistaken for thinking that this title is rather family friendly with all the one-liners thorough the game. This is quite the opposite, near the end of the game; it twists and turns its way through a darkening plot filled with strange mutant beings. The game benefits from the one-liners and upbeat moods from the characters by helping you empathise more with, and build up the characters. I found that the, sometimes, jokey atmosphere also stopped the story clogging down in the darker moments. They are just enough to relieve the tension for a while to enjoy the scenery before the game piles it all back on.
Gameplay
Gameplay is essentially the same as the first game, with Nathan quite happy to execute jumps over high up obstacles that some gymnasts would need a stiff drink before attempting. You won’t have to sink your teeth in far to realise Naughty Dog have been hard at work trying to change the mechanics for the better. They have cured the headaches of the cover system and made the guns much easier to use. They have remapped the grenade button, which always bugged me on the first game, to a more suitable place that fits better with online gaming and general ease of gaming. I found that the game is now handling a lot better with these subtle changes but in no way is it as smooth as in Gears of War; this just gives us something to look forward to in the next instalment.

The riot shield is a new addition to the game and I’m sure that some will like it and some will loath it. It is set up so you can only use a handgun behind the shield but you will move at a snail’s pace, this is okay for some who don’t mind taking it slow and timing their shots well but for Mr speedy Gonzales I can see this being rather neglected. It’s only an optional tool in the game, which opens up a little more varied gameplay for people who want to sneak around. Don’t worry if you’re one of those who like to run and gun, there is that option for you there as well but the run and gun controls are a little twitchy. The game does force you to use this run and gun technique but in an amazingly cinematic section. This could have so easily been another bad QTE and fortunately, the sequence takes your mind of the sensitive reticule.

Unfortunately, the melee combat, I feel doesn’t work quite as well. The punches are too sluggish but this is redeemed by a bar brawl style of fighting that is used when your close to an object, like a wall, using it to incapacitate your opponent. Another thing is the simplicity of the system, which works really well, as depending on where you are you may punch them normally, break their neck from behind or even pull them off a ledge. There is also a counter system, it’s quite easy to spot when to counter, for everyone apart from the most novice novices. You don’t have to like the melee combat as there is always some gun to make use of.

In the first game there were sections that where so irritating when playing through, places filled with snipers and RPG’s and not forgetting the Spanish zombie people. This has been addressed in this game, but not as well as some people would have hoped for. The checkpoints aren’t frequent; this can be quite annoying in the longer firefights. It’s also quite annoying as it’s filled with snipers and RPG people. It would have been better if Naughty Dog relied on clever AI rather than throwing as many people at you as it could.

Fighting is not the only thing that this game offers; there is a good half of the game that is exploration and puzzle based, the puzzles however aren’t the most tricky the gaming world has ever seen, they usually only take a little common sense combined with Nathans journal. Platforming isn’t the worlds hardest compared to the likes of Tomb Raider, but it’s not that easy that it feels like a chore. It’s actually quite good fun as Nathan traverses and climbs the ledges almost seamlessly; in fact, I would go as far to say that the Platforming can be more fun than Tomb Raider. In the unlikely case you can’t find where you are meant to be heading in the Platforming sections, then there is the always handy hint button, press that and it rotates the camera to point you in the right direction.
Graphics
What makes a game truly stunning are the moments where you just have to step back and say wow. There are plenty of games that only get the basics right, this isn’t one of them. There are plenty of standout moments in this game, for example, the train sequence is truly amazing. This game doesn’t need a cut scene to amaze you either, just stood in the Monastery area towards the end of the game was enough to do it for me. To put the graphics in perspective; the first game raised the bar for graphics on the PS3 and then Killzone 2 rose it further. Uncharted two blew the bar away with, possibly, the best-looking game that’s on the PS3 to date.
Overall Thought
It’s not just incredible visuals that this game has to boast about, there is top-notch voice acting, the original cast return from the first to resume their roles. They have kept the standard for the first game with their careful choices of voice actors that fit in perfectly; everyone conveys their lines in a natural way rather than forcing them out like quite a few games do. The script helps with this as well, it all flows and is quite plausible. In sections the script and voice acting made me feel like I was a virtual fly on a virtual wall listening in to a live conversation.

The whole campaign lasts a decent 8-10 hours, that’s if you’re a person that just wants to rush through. For those that take their time with the game there are plenty more hours to get from the game. There certainly isn’t a lack of things to do, even if you play through on the hardest difficulty first time, there is another difficulty level that unlocks on completion. Even if you don’t want to conquer the game on the hardest difficulty then there are treasures to find and there is a whole shop in the single player, that for a small sum of in-game money you can but a ‘tweak’ for the game that mirrors the whole campaign, effectively doubling the single player campaign.

Aside from the single player there is a great little gem of a multiplayer, its complete with Co-Op and several verses mode including: ‘Deathmatch’ a team deathmatch mode; ‘plunder’ a capture the flag mode; ‘Elimination’ a no re-spawning deathmatch and more. To help you in these game modes, a CoD like perk system that give you certain advantages. They have to be bought using the currency you get from the campaign and the money you get from each round you play. The Co-Op is brilliant fun with friends just fighting wave upon wave of enemies. The AI is the reason this works, they will try to circle round behind you and throw grenades to flush you out, it’s almost like you’re playing the game against wave after wave of real people, it’s a pleasure to play and even better if you and two mates have headsets.

Pros and Cons
Uncharted two is so much better than its predecessor, however it still has a few niggles of its own but this game has so many positives that they completely overcome the bad points and make it such an enjoyable game to play. This game will have long appeal and deserves to be played as much on the release of the third instalment as it does today, it should truly be one of the classics of this Generation of gaming.

Written by Chris Thompson     @thompson8993

Left For Dead 2 DLC

When the Left For Dead 2 first piece of DLC was released, being a big fan of it, I downloaded it immediately. The main hook of this DLC is that it ties in the gap between Dead Centre and Dark Carnival, but also you meet the original cast of the first Left For Dead game. Hoping that you find more about what the original cast have been doing, you rarely speak to them as much as a disappointment this is, it does just chuck you into the new campaign level.

The level itself is pretty good it can come across quite linear but in my eyes the coolest way is to be killing hordes is down a small alleyway just because the tension just grabs you and turns you into a zombie-killing machine. While the campaign is quite a short one (estimated 35-40 minutes) it does improve a lot faults from the other campaigns for instance the hordes don’t last very long, but in the Passing especially in the sewer segment they just keep on going and nothing is going to stop them unless you gun them down. Also it has numerous nice changes to the game for example the ending isn’t just waiting for a chopper to come get you while you fight off the horde, you have to get gas for the generator to work to lower the bridge, it brings in a new kind of scenario where your in desperate struggle to find these gas canisters while fending off tanks and other types of zombies, including the new type known as the Fallen survivor which are just essentially just zombies with either med packs or pain pill or even a little bit of ammo or a new gun, which is pretty handy but don’t bother looking out for one desperately as you will get caught with a bunch of zombies wanting you dead.

The new weapons I must say are awesome the M-60 is defiantly the one to use throughout the game if you can withstand short bursts of it, but once you shoot any zombie in your way will be chopped meat in seconds and is hugely satisfying. but does gulp a lot of ammo. Next is the Golf and baseball bat which I think are just as good as any other melee weapon but do have a fun impact when hitting the zombies in the face (and is a pretty fun achievement to go with it).

Overall the single player aspect of it is great fun with some fun scavenger type elements in the end, but the whole hook for the game is about what happened to the original survivors and who’s left, but the content just doesn’t delve into the story well enough to make you think wow I dint see that happening.

But the new game mode is what you have to look out for which In my eyes is the best part of the DLC. Its called Mutations it is basically different styles of original game modes for example the starting mutation is realism versus mode which combines the realism mode (a everything is a lot harder and you have to search for things and rely on communication) while the other online people are the infected trying to kill and stop you getting to the end level anyway possible, it’s a fun idea and Valve are changing it every week to spice up the online modes.

Overall the Passing DLC is pretty good it has all the elements you love from the single player as well as all the elements form the multiplayer at a pretty cheap price of 560 Microsoft points. But the lack of deep story line everyone was hoping does dampen your decision. It is defiantly worth the money despite its flaws.

7/10

Written by Piers Scarisbrick.