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Easily one of the most anticipated games of 2014, Destiny, from Halo creators Bungie, sets out to be the biggest new franchise of the generation so far. Requiring a constant internet connection, Destiny is a futuristic first person shooter set in a variety of open worlds based within our own solar system.
The plot, if you can call it that, is based on the human race reaching out from Earth and exploring other planets such as Mars, Venus and our own Moon. As the years pass, colonies who have settled on these new worlds, begin to crumble and the fortunate survivors remain on Earth, who are now labelled as "Guardians", aided by an illusive sphere known as the "Traveler"
In an attempt to re-establish colonies across these once human populated planets, you and other players must destroy various alien races before it's too late and the Traveler is no more. It's pretty basic stuff and the disappointing aspect of the story is that nothing changes, there is no plot twist or pacing that keeps the player engaged or interested.
The first thing that really stands out when you play Destiny is the graphics, Bungie deserve huge credit here, despite being available on last generation consoles Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, the Xbox One version of Destiny is a beautiful, crisp, atmospheric delight, Earth's Moon and Mars in particular are stunning.
Those who have experienced Bungie's previous series, Halo, will know how talented the studio is when it comes to gameplay and particularly the feel of weapons and there is no exception here, the feel and variety of weapons is excellent.
Sadly these positives are let down by glaring issues in the level design and variety of the missions. Without wishing to come across as hyperbolic, the lack of awareness by Bungie in terms of keeping the player interested is staggering. The vast majority of missions are set on a template of waiting for a AI companion to finish a task (more or less a countdown) whilst the player either solo or with two companions, fight off wave after wave of enemies until the AI's task is completed. It become's boring and stale quickly and raises questions as to what was Bungie thinking during their own in house play tests. Surely variety must have entered their thoughts at some point.
Destiny's competitive multiplayer modes fare no better and pales in comparison to the legacy they left with the Halo series. Not to mention being dragged into constant server issues.
After spending many hours with the game, I cannot help but feel this could of been a lot better than what the final product has given us. Sure, things could improve, in terms of downloadble content but you should expect more from your £50, a lot more. If only Bungie had spent as much time on the missions and objectives as they did with the stunning visuals and atmosphere.
If I was ever requested to put together a list of top 50 films of personal favourites then James Cameron's The Terminator would be high on that list. A film that could of been laughed and snarled at through it's mere concept, Cameron managed to set a tone and craft that many film makers today struggle to achieve.
First released in 1984, The Terminator made Arnold Schwarzenegger a huge star and gave the world a mythology that many still hold dear to their hearts today. Those many will want to know if the release on Blu Ray has been worth it and the short answer is...Yes! The long answer? Well, we will get to that but let's talk about the actual film itself first.
The story is pretty easy to follow, in the distant future mankind has faced it's greatest fear, almost total wipeout from a race of machines created by a computer system called SkyNet, which became self aware to cause a nuclear war with the remaining survivors managing to stay alive long enough to build an army to fight back organised by a man known as John Connor. SkyNet hatches a plan to send a Terminator , a human form template containing a tough machine structure underneath, back in time to 1984 to eradicate John Connor's mother therefore wiping out his existence and winning the war against the human fight back. Connor gets wind of this plan and sends his own time traveller to protect his mother, Kyle Reese, who must do what it takes to destroy the Terminator and save Connors life.
As a plot, it would of been easy to dismiss it as average B movie style material but what director and series creator James Cameron did was create a film with a wonderful dark tone, excellent pacing and some highly competent performances from the main cast. For a film that is meant to be a chase, Cameron knows the right time to stop the intense action, take a breath then pick up again. It is one of the best paced action films I have seen in my many years of movie watching and it still stands up today.
As mentioned previously, the Terminator made Arnold Schwarzenegger a huge star and whilst the Austrian born body builder lacks high competence in the acting stakes, here he gives a real presence to the role of the killing machine set out to kill without fear or remorse. He has hardly any dialogue but his body movements and his sense of timing are excellent and it would be very difficult to think of any other actor improving what should be a basic role should a remake be ever be brought to the big screen. He is backed up by Linda Hamilton's performance as Sarah Connor (the future mother of John) who starts out vulnerable but as the realisation of her nightmare continues, starts to become tougher and strikes up an interesting relationship with Kyle Reese (played by the excellent Michael Biehn).
The Terminator is a film that shines as an example of everything being at the right time along with the right people. Granted the special effects look very outdated but it never fails to disrupt the charm, tone or talent on show here. Everything clicks into place and it's easy to see why the film is still so cherished by millions of film fans today.
The positivity goes further with this Blu Ray release, seeing the film in High Definition is a real surprise, seeing many 1980s movies in the HD format have been obvious half hearted efforts but this is not the case here, much love and care has been given to The Terminator Blu Ray. Colours stand out night or day, close ups provide vast detail into the dirt and roughness the characters go through and the excellent soundtrack by Brad Fiedel has never sounded so good.
The only negative aspect to this release is lack of commentary by James Cameron and the lack of HD polish to the special features which include deleted scenes, a retrospective look at the film by Schwarzenegger and Cameron and a short look at how the special effects were created. The special features look washed on a HD screen and it's disappointing to see this release not add anything more to what were already released on the previous DVD release.
Despite the disappointment in the special features, I gladly recommend this release to any fan of the series or new comer of action films. It is stylish, well directed and acted plus it never feels stale or mundane, something you cannot say about a lot of Hollywood blockbusters today.
The Call of Duty series is one of the most successful franchises in the history of video games, the last three main entries on home consoles have sold around 20 million copies each, making publisher Activision one of the most lucrative companies currently, so for a new entry in the military shooter series to be brought forward exclusive for PS Vita, seems like a chance to put a spring in the powerful handheld's step.
Developed by nStigate Games (Conan - PS3,360, Resistance Burning Skies -PS Vita), the portfolio of the Californian studio is hardly covered in glory but there is always a chance of a high point in any studio's lifetime...sadly Call of Duty Declassified is not it.
The moment you start the main single player campaign the lack of polish and slickness in the visuals will hit you. Visuals are not everything of course but you would expect a level of care to impress especially given a high profile franchise is making it's debut on a fairly new platform. The disappointing graphics are just the start of a underwhelming experience.
Single player consists of running from point A to point B, taking out enemies from a first person perspective like all Call of Duty games but with Declassified, it becomes mundane and tiresome very quickly with some downright lazy copy and paste level design that does nothing but make the player feel the objectives at hand are a chore rather than a fun way to spend some time. This is complimented by some disjointed controls which is a basic requirement to get right in any first person shooter. After around four hours, the uninteresting story and tedious campaign should be complete.
nStigate have provided two other modes to coincide with the terrible single player experience, Hostiles, which puts the player in a closed map environment, having to withstand wave after wave of enemies, similar to Special Ops mode in the home console releases. It becomes dull very quickly and like single player, feels more like a chore than enjoyment.
Multiplayer is in, one of the key fundamentals to Call of Duty and sadly does nothing to improve the experience. Allowing only 4 v 4 players in a ridiculously tight and small environment, multiplayer is a shadow of the home console template, a half hearted, frustrating waste of any first person shooter fans time with unfair player respawns and maps so close knitted it feels the player is given no room to breathe, nevermind take a shot at a fellow player.
Call of Duty: Declassified is a shambolic waste of anyone's time and money. A complete waste of resources, this product screams "half hearted" hoping to sell as many copies of the game on brand name alone which is a real shame considering the PS Vita is a excellent piece of hardware, capable of producing some great games. Avoid.
Based on the mythology surrounding the 1980's cartoon and toy sensation Transformers, Fall of Cybertron is the sequel to the critical hit War of Cybertron released in 2010 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
A third person action shooter, Fall of Cybertron focuses on two battling factions of robots with the ability to change form into cars, trucks, planes and so forth. The Autobots, which are the peace craving, freedom fighters led by the brave and noble Optimus Prime, face the Decepticons, led by Megatron, who believes in dominance and tyranny. Their home world, Cybertron, is a crumbling, decay of war and death leaving both factions concentrating on a way to save it whilst fighting over the best way to see the metallic planet prosper once more.
Developer High Moon Studios, are huge fans of the franchise and it shows in abundance the moment you pick up to play. Long term Transformers fans will instantly notice fan service they will no doubt find pleasing without confusing new fans learning about the characters and story.
Eyebrows were raised when Fall of Cybertron was due to be released only two years previous to it's excellent predecessor, War of Cybertron, with concerns from fans that the game may be rushed to market and perhaps a longer development cycle was needed. Make no mistake, this is no rushed product with improved visuals, excellent voice acting, competent mission design and a deep multiplayer component.
High Moon Studios have provided a stunning looking game, using the latest Unreal Engine 3 update, textures and lighting are a clear step up to the previous entry, providing a strong sense of battle and carnage with a large playground to transform into a characters alternative mode to rake havoc on enemies with a variety of weapons and upgrades, which creates a feeling of fun and freshness each time you pick up the controller rather than slipping into a mundane and repetitive experience.
The story, as basic as it is, flows along nicely and never feels as if anything has been missed or main characters have been poorly developed. Some excellent voice acting compliments the story, especially Peter Cullen, who voices the Autobot leader Optimus Prime and is a excellent nod to veteran fans of the series.
Once the campaign is completed, which should around 8 hours on normal difficulty, you have two types of multiplayer modes to delve into. Escalation, which is a four player co-operative mode, sees players take on a wave of AI enemies with difficulty extending with each wave to its conclusion of 15 waves. For those looking to battle it out with each other there is an array of versus modes which include the basic Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch alongside more team work templates such as Conquest which sets the player out to capture the enemy base and Capture the Flag which involves stealing the enemy flag and bringing it back to your base.
Versus multiplayer can be enormous fun but can also be equally frustrating. The netcode provided by publisher Activision and developer High Moon Studios is of a poor standard which means a sense of lag can be experienced for the player, especially when a situation arises of a large battle in a small environment. Inexperienced players could find a unforgiving learning experience whilst the more experienced player could still find Versus frustrating thanks to the weak net code.
Overall, despite negativity surrounding certain elements of multiplayer, Transformers Fall of Cybertron is a terrific game, once rich in fan service and high octane action which will give hours of fun to fan veterans and new comers alike.