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KK-Slither

KK-Slither
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Member since: 13.05.2010

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      29.10.2010 13:01
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      KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

      Metroid: Other M

      September 3rd 2010 was the release date of Metroid: Other M for the Nintendo Wii, the latest instalment of the much loved and respected Nintendo series Metroid. Being the first Metroid game for some years to be under the direct development of Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto (the other creator being the legendary Gunpei Yokio) was a big deal and add to that the shock announcement that he would be working on the title in tandem with Team Ninja (Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) meant a big degree of expectation for the title. Did Other M live up to it's hype? Let's find out.

      The plot to Metroid: Other M is fairly straight forward, taking place an undetermined amount time after Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo but before the events of Metroid Fusion on the Gamboy Advance sees protagonist Samus Aran answering a distress signal from a drifting ship while travelling through space, after landing on the ship Samus finds that she is not alone with a platoon from the Galactic Federation who have also come to investigate the ship. Unfortunately the ship seems devoid of it's crew and infested by hostile creatures, as a result the Commanding Officer of the platoon (and Samus' former CO before becoming an independent bounty hunter) Adam Malkovich agrees to work with Samus to get to the bottom of what's going on. For the most part Other M focuses on Samus herself with the current state of the "Bottle ship" being divulged as Samus further explores the ship, Sakamoto has tried hard to put Samus' personality and humanity across in this game which was only really done in any real detail during Metroid Fusion (and to some extant in Super Metroid) which is a very good thing in my opinion, I feel the last thing Sakamoto should do is try to make one of the best characters in video games (and probably the best female character) Marcus Fenix (as much as I like Marcus Fenix...). The over-arching story, while not outstanding is what you may expect it to be considering this is a game where the main draw should be the gameplay, it's plausible enough to propel the characters to action and push the game along.

      Now gameplay is where you'd expect not just an action game but an action game developed by Team Ninja to really stand out. The game takes place in a similar fashion to the older non-Prime Metroid games in the perspective sense, that being the fact that this game is third person with first person sections (it was the other way round in Prime) however unlike the older games Other M is not 2D, while it may be presented that way at times it is very much fully three dimensional. Exploration is handled in a rather simple style, for the most part the game is very linear with Samus' next destination shown on the map which can be accessed at any time with the push of the wiimote's + button. Every now and then inspection of a room or morph balling into a small tunnel will turn up a power up but that's about it as far as unsupervised exploration. Being an action game combat is the main aspect of gameplay, best described as a streamlined and simplified (not stupefied) version of a Ninja Gaiden game. Action is fast with Samus having to dispatch enemies with blasts from her arm cannon, she can also morph ball and lay bombs or jump on some creatures and blast away for extra damage."Lethal strike" or finishing attacks are also possible in this game which are preformed by approaching a downed enemy with a fully charged beam for some choreographed action, dodging is also possible with a timed press of the D-pad before an enemy's attack lands and Samus will enter a short slow motion dodge opening up the possibility for counter attacks. One part holding exploration and combat together is the first person sections, throughout the game there will be sections in which you will have to point the wiimote at the screen in order to enter first person perspective, normally this will be to look around a room to examine a particular point of interest or to lock onto switches for blasting. As far as combat goes first person is used for boss fights, general flow to boss encounters is that you will shoot away for a while until the boss shows some kind of weak point after which you will have to enter first person and lock onto said weak spot to do real damage. As far as gameplay the only major complaint for Other M is the first person, the idea for the most part seems pointless, to begin with is a little awkward changing position of the wiimote from horizontal to vertical and as the game progresses it merely becomes a time consuming chore however the simplified combat is very tight and surprisingly enjoyable. One fault which cannot be ignored however is a game breaking glitch which stops progression of the game by eternally locking a door which you have to pass to progress further in the game, brought about by backtracking during a certain point in the game as some online sources have purported means that while the linearity of this game means most won't get this glitch it just simply isn't up to standard. Considering the talent behind this game the fact that this glitch was not found is a big disappointment, thankfully as with most Metroid games completion doesn't take too long, (odd that I would consider that a good thing) we're talking eight to ten hours for the average person so you most likely won't lose much time and for those who don't want to play through again Nintendo (as of posting this) are willing to fix your glitched save for you if you send them it on a SD card.

      Music and graphics are as you'd expect from a Metroid game, the music is suitably grafted to the environment with dark and sinister themes in the background to add to atmosphere and science fiction sound effects that wound fit to most people's imaginations of how a laser beam would sound like. Graphics are simple as you'd expect from the Wii but are still nice and shiny and it's also nice to see a wider range of palette colours other then grey and black in a video game.

      Overall Metroid: Other M is a good attempt at bringing Metroid to a new audience while trying to please the old fans, the game has gotten a lot of negativity on the internet for numerous reasons, most of which I don't agree with and in some cases don't even see as a problem at all. While there is no doubt that Other M has it's weaknesses the Project M staff have done well to take an old fashioned concept like the 2D Metroid games and make it contemporary, it's simple play style is easy enough to pick up and play but still enjoyable enough to keep those of you at a higher skill level entertained till the end of the game. The development of Samus as a person that started in Super Metroid has been handled well, allowing her to keep her cool and hard lady persona while showing she's still human. If you don't like action games then don't buy Metroid: Other M, if you're a fan of Metroid or a Wii owner looking for a game worth adding to your collection then this is definitely for you.

      At A Glance.
      Gameplay ~ 8/10
      Story ~ 7/10
      Graphics ~ 7/10
      Sound ~ 7/10
      Replay Value ~ 6/10

      Final Score: 34/50

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      18.09.2010 19:21
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      KK-Slither Says ~ Must Buy.

      Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Altimate All-Stars

      In 2008 Capcom released (developed by Eighting) Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes, the idea was a cross over beat 'em up in the image of Marvel vs. Capcom/ Capcom vs. SNK/ Capcom vs. whatever blew their skirt up at the time. At the time of release many people believed that the game would never see the light of day outside of Japan, forgetting the fact that most people in the West don't know what or Who Tatsunoko is there was the legal nightmare of property rights for Tatsunoko's characters outside of Japan. Well in 2010 Capcom proved those fears wrong with the release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Altimate All-Stars (from now on TvC... I'm not writing that every time). For those of you who don't know Tatsunoko just consider them the Japanese equivalent of Hanna-Barbera (what do you mean who is Hanna-Barbera? Fine). Tatsunoko Pro. are a Japanese animation company who dominated the television screens of Japan for years, and all of their characters in this game come from their catalogue of anime.

      Okay so the story, there isn't one or rather it's pretty much non existent as you'd expect from a fighting game. Basically some evil force is merging the worlds of Capcom's and Tatsunoko's characters, that's about it. Obviously the story is poor, very poor but that's not why you buy games like TvC, you buy them for the gameplay.

      As far as gameplay goes there isn't too many things to find on the Wii that will stand up to TvC. First of all TvC is really the Marvel vs. Capcom series with Japanese cartoon characters instead of Western comic book ones, for anyone who played and enjoyed the classic series you'll feel right at home playing this game. Any of you unaware of the brilliance that is Marvel vs. Capcom I would recommend you buy MvC 2 as soon as you finished reading this review (oh why wait just buy it now), the game is in essence the same as any other fighting game however in the case of TvC your senses will be assaulted (in the best possible way) by bright lights, screen consuming special moves and outrageous golden lighters that turn into giants robots. The pace of matches in TvC is a lot higher then most fighting games, the control scheme is a simple three button set up, a light, medium and strong button for each character. For fighting fans that might be a little alarming but despite the easy accessibility there is a big level of depth for those that want to look for it, a beginner will be pulling off air combos and decent length ground combos after a day or two and that's the idea, if that's how far you want to go then that's great but for higher level players more advances mechanics like "cross over air raids" and "baroque" combos will have you demonstrating eighty plus hit combos. There are several modes on offer in TvC too, there are the obvious classics like arcade and time attack modes but there's also an extra unlockable top-down shooter mode called "Ultimate All Shooters" which in itself is surprisingly fun to play. The final big mode is the online multiplayer, while the quality of your experience online is down to your connection it must be said that even without a Wii LAN adapter this game plays well, there may be some lag and every now and then you will have to endure a match which isn't up to the mark but for the most part it's very enjoyable especially when you consider certain other titles (I'm looking at you Smash Bros). Let's not forget the ultimate form of multiplayer fun though, that's right, getting some friends or family around and
      giving them a real pasting. By the way it's compatible with the Wii remote and nunchuk or a Gamecube pad, go for the Gamecube pad since the game is scaled down for the lack of buttons on the remote limiting the enjoyment.

      Graphics is another department where TvC excels, it's one of the nicest looking games on the Wii, it's 2.5D cell shaded characters and environments are vibrant in colour and movement, they're fluid and realistic with uppercuts from Ryu looking like they really are hitting Joe the Condor pretty hard.
      Like I said before there's plenty of stuff going on during a match with big bright hyper combos covering the screen so nothing ever looks dull, music is similar in the sense that it's plenty up beat and up tempo but other then that for most you'll either take it or leave it.

      Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Altimate All-Stars is a great game, for all the crappy shovel ware out there on the Wii that claims to be universally entertaining, fun for the whole family, the truth is that TvC is one of the few games on the Wii that actually lives up to that label. Considering the lack of AAA titles on the Wii there aren't too many reasons not to buy this but here goes, if you don't like fighting games or good games then don't buy this, if you do like fighting games or are just looking for something to play on the Wii then definitely buy this. You may not know all the characters in this game but don't let that put you off, with all the fun you'll be having you won't notice.


      At A Glance.
      Gameplay ~ 10/10
      Story ~ 5/10
      Graphics ~9/10
      Sound ~ 6/10
      Replay Value ~ 10/10

      Final Score: 40/50

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      • More +
        05.09.2010 15:52
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        KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

        Silent Hill 2 (PS2)

        Peaceful vacation town, scenic lake view, suspicious noises, unsettlingly dark rooms and disfigured
        monster nurses... yes, it's Silent Hill again.

        Konami decided to give fans a second scare with the release of the sequel to Silent Hill on the Playstation, Silent Hill 2 was released back in 2001 on the Playstation 2 and has since seen
        re-releases and even a port to the Xbox 360, but how does it stand up to it's predecessor?

        Silent Hill 2 is not a direct sequel to SH1 (if you want that you have to play Silent Hill 3) even though it does take place in the same town it has a new set of characters and a whole new story, that being the case means even if you missed the first game you can still jump right into playing this one without feeling out of place. The game starts with the main character James Sunderland staring into a public bathroom mirror on the outskirts of Silent Hill. Three years prior James' wife Mary passed away after a long bout with illness however James received a from someone claiming to be Mary, saying that she was waiting for him in the town Silent Hill in their "special place" where James and Mary spent time together while she was still healthy. Now James isn't the type of person to just believe that his wife is back from the dead and writing him, however James wants to find out who did write the letter and why and so the game begins. The story for Silent Hill 2 is vastly superior to that of SH1, the character's emotions are presented in a much clearer fashion (partly due to better voice acting and partly due to better scripting), the story overall is also far better (though not perfectly) explained to the player and more intelligent than the first Silent Hill.

        The gameplay for Silent Hill 2 hasn't changed much, for those of you who haven't played the original (or read my fantastic review of it... what?) Silent Hill relies on gamelpay focused on survival over combat, to that extant combat is made purposefully cumbersome in an attempt to make the player consider avoiding combat a more appealing option. The puzzle element features more heavily in this game with there being at least one puzzle in every area you visit in the game (though there's usually more). Exploration in Silent Hill 2 is also unchanged with the use of fog or darkness to obscure visibility, making for some feeling of isolation while paradoxically making you think there's something in the corner of that dark room, fortunately the radio also makes a welcome return letting you know whenever there's a nasty lurking about by giving off plenty of noisy static. Silent Hill 2 is easier than the first game with the only real difficulty coming from some of the more challenging puzzles (even they aren't too difficult) however the game still manages to keep your attention with the intriguing story and tangible atmosphere, as with the first game the length is somewhat disappointing with an average person beating the game in five to seven hours which while still an improvement on the original is still a little short. Thankfully multiple endings reappear for this game as well as end of game scores giving a shot to the game's replay value and helping to make up for the low play time. An extra sub story called "Born From A Wish" is also available, though it's only on the re-released director's cut version of the game.

        Graphics are well observed in Silent Hill 2, it's a nice looking game (though there are better on the Playstation 2) with monsters contorting and shifting realistically, lighting and shadows created from the the flash light flowing fluidly enough. The environments are suitably sparse to give the player a feeling that the town of Silent Hill really is abandoned without feeling lazy or empty.
        Akira Yamaoka, composer for the original Silent Hill was back for the second instalment and managed to outdo himself (that's a difficult thing to do) with music and sound effects. When the game is trying to give you a case of the shivers Yamaoka's quiet and unassuming background music goes a long way to setting the atmosphere will the guitar heavy melodies he places after major events occur in the game give a good account of James' mood.

        Silent Hill 2 is better then the first in the series in just about every department, the graphics (going from PS1 to PS2 means they obviously would be) and sound are a cut above the original and story wise this game is on an entirely different planet. For those who enjoyed Silent Hill then the sequel is most definitely for you, if you're a fan of psychological and atmosphere induced scares then again I recommend this game. If you didn't like the like the original game or don't like survival horrors in general then don't buy this game. On a side note, the European release of the game comes with a "making of" CD with an art gallery and information from the creators which is a nice touch if you find learning about development of games or the men behind them interesting. This game (like the first) won't set you back much, going for as little as £2.00 to £3.00 it really is a bargin.

        At A Glance.
        Gameplay ~ 7/10
        Story ~ 8/10
        Graphics ~ 8/10
        Sound ~ 8/10
        Replay Value ~ 7/10

        Final Score: 38/50

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        • Silent Hill (PS) / Archive Game / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
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          03.09.2010 22:33
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          KK-Slither Says ~ Recommended.

          Silent Hill

          What's that? What is that? It's getting closer, it... IT'S AHHHHHHHHHH... Oh, it's Silent Hill. Are you scared yet? No... I thought it was kinda scary...

          Released by Konami in 1999 for the Playstation, Silent Hill is one of the most critically acclaimed and well loved games in the "survival horror" genre and with good reason. Rather then try to emulate the success of the massive of the Resident Evil (RE) franchise the fan dubbed "Team Silent" decided to give their own take on the genre, and while there are definitely similarities between the two series the differences help to give Silent Hill it's own unique identity.

          The story and style is the first change from RE, Silent Hill goes for a much more horror centric stance to both with lots of low visibility areas, a grainy camera and lots of nasty looking stains, coupled with suitably creepy sound effects go a long way to sending the shivers. The sound of radio static (more on that later) is something you simply don't want to hear early on in the game when all you've got to defend yourself is a stick (you don't want to waste handgun ammo).
          The story sees Harry Mason and his daughter Cheryl driving their way to the resort town of Silent Hill for their vacation, everything is fine until Harry skids out to avoid a shadowy figure resulting in an accident which sends him into unconsciousness. When Harry comes to he finds his car at the outskirts of Silent Hill and no Cheryl anywhere to be found, well like any good father would Harry goes off to search for his missing daughter but unfortunately things aren't that simply. For starters the town itself is abandoned (no one to ask for directions then...) and is being pelted by an out of season blizzard, on top of that it's infested with hellish creatures not to mention a nightmarish "other world" which pops it's head up every now and then. Story wise Silent Hill is not outstanding by any stretch of the imagination and once you've played through it you'll probably feel like it just doesn't touch on the important aspects like it should, that's not to say it doesn't do it's job because it certainly does enough to be coherent and pull Harry along, but rather it just comes up short of properly explaining itself when it really matters (a problem which Team Silent went some way to rectifying in later instalments).

          Gameplay is where Silent Hill really separates out those that like it and those that hate it. The movement is the old "tank"style like RE, that is to say that when using the D-pad up is forward, down is back and left and right turn your character left and right, if you didn't like the old REs
          then you won't like this. As mentioned earlier, areas in Silent Hill are low visibility which means that more often then not you won't be able to see any further then a few feet ahead of you, but that's where the radio comes in. You see early on in the game Harry will find a broken radio which when near monsters will rouse to life in the form of spouting out static, which means even if you can't see them you'll still hear the static. Combat and movement in Silent Hill are purposefully chunky, the idea is to survive rather then kill everything in front of you so Team Silent make it unappealing to engage in combat if you don't feel you have to, the weapons you get will be mostly melee oriented meaning even more reason to only use them when necessary. Running and poking isn't the only thing you'll do though as there's also a big focus on puzzle solving in Silent Hill and certainly on some occasions the tasks are quite clever. This game won't take long to beat, most won't take longer then four or five hours but there are reasons to revisit Silent Hill after completion with end of game scores, multiple ending and unlockable items to use on new playthroughs pushing the play up to a slightly more respectable level.

          The appeal of Silent Hill's graphics aren't that they're the best you'll find on the Playstation (though the certainly aren't bad by the console's standards) but instead the intelligence with which they're implemented, dark colour sets, a grainy camera and crooked camera angles make for a pleasingly unsettled feel. Sound is very good with music being subtly eerie at some points but loud and menacing when needed. The effects are well place and clear, static sounds like static and loud bangs can provide a jump or two when playing alone at night. Unfortunately the sound does have one noticeably low point, wooden voice acting, the bane of many games is present throughout this one and the main offender is Harry Mason himself (it's bad when it's the main character).

          When looking at Silent Hill you are going to compare it to the superb Resident Evil, it's simply unavoidable when you consider the similarities and the fact that Silent Hill is probably the most recognisable survival horror series after RE, that being said it's unfair to always consider the two in the same breath, Silent Hill developed it's own style of play and scares with a bigger focus on atmosphere, puzzle solving and survival. You can pick this up online for as little as £2.00 in some places so even if it turned out you didn't like it, it wouldn't be a huge loss, but even so I'll say avoid this if you don't like survival horror games or are looking for a lot of action in your games. If you do like survival horrors though or would like a more disturbing version of the genre then this is for you.


          At A Glance.
          Gameplay ~ 7/10
          Story ~ 5/10
          Graphics ~ 7/10
          Sound ~ 8/10
          Replay Value ~ 7/10

          Final Score: 34/50

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          27.07.2010 20:13
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          KK-Slither Says ~ Not quite past glory but better then 12.

          Final Fantasy 13

          2010 saw the release of Final Fantasy 13, that all conquering juggernaut, icon of the video game world that is the Final Fantasy series. Being from such a pedigree means big hype and big expectation however off the back of the very disappointing FF12 (for me anyway, Famitsu gave it a perfect 40/40...) it was time to see if FF13 could bring the series back on track.

          One of the criticisms FF12 has had to face is the story or rather the perceived lack of anything of any king of interest, well that's not the case as far as FF13 is concerned. The story follows six characters; Lighting, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Vanille and Fang and their struggle to complete a task or "focus" handed to them by a "Fal'Cie" the beings responsible for shaping and controlling the world of Cocoon, upon completing said focus the participants or "L'cie" receive the gift of eternal life however failure to complete the results in transformation into a lumbering monster so it's a race against time for Lighting and company to avoid such a terrible fate. It may not win too many awards and compared to previous games in the series it's definitely lacking but compared to the "politically driven masterpiece" (what?!) of 12 this is a nice change of pace. Characters also surprisingly decent, Lightning was supposedly made to be cool like Cloud Strife of FF7 which does her quite the injustice being a good character in her own right and comedy relief being supplied by Sazh whenever things get a little too heavy. Despite getting the heroes right Square Enix have managed to get the villains very wrong or in reality not at all, what I mean is that there simply isn't a real antagonist of any worth in 13, you won't find any Sephiroths or Seifers and here no matter how hard you look and not having that strong figure to base the conflict around is something the game is really missing.

          Gameplay is very different to previous Final Fantasy games, this is particularly evident when it comes to exploring the environment, you see every area in FF13 with one exception is a big corridor, what I mean by that is there is no real exploration to be had , no world map (why... Why are there no more world maps?), no NPCs to talk to or shops to enter, you literally start at one end of an area and walk forward erring two to three steps left or right before soldering onward again.
          On the subject of walking you may have to do a lot of it but it's not something you'll generally notice through the torrent of cut scenes in this game, without any exaggeration there are times when you will literally sit through a scene walk for half a minute and sit through another cut scene. Levels are another thing missing in this game, instead of experience points you receive csytogenesis points or CP at the end of battles which can be used on stat upgrades for your character such as increasing HP or gaining new spells, it's all housed in a branching grid called the Crystarium, if you're familiar with FF10's Sphere Grid then you'll have a perfect idea of how this works. Finally we have battles, FF13 uses the "Active Time Battle" or ATB system created by Square back for Final Fantasy 4 which basically means that until a gauge in the corner of the screen fills up you are unable to take any actions. Battles are not random encounters, instead monsters can be seen on the map before battle so don't get too close if you don't want to engage them. The main chunk of strategy to FF13 is not to choose commands for your characters but to instead change the classes of your party members mid battle while allow the game to issue commands for you using the auto-battle command, there are a total of six different job classes each with there own strengths and weaknesses, the Commando for example provides strong physical attacks however won't be able to heal party members if their HP is running low, the Medic is capable of providing healing however cannot attack. The system has good and bad points, while it definitely provides originality and for some can at times mean control over higher levels of strategy I just fell that only controlling one character at a time and simply changing classes just isn't enough control for my liking.

          Graphics are as to be expected very nice with character models and environments very nice to look at although some of the indoor areas are a little drab. Music is good despite the use of Leona Lewis' "My Hands" (Leona Lewis... this is a Japanese game) to replace the Japanese theme, the soundtrack is generally lively with plenty of JPop taste. Voice acting is also good however you may have a hard time enjoying it if you don't like JRPGs since the scripting is filled with the cliché cheese you come to expect.

          A good game and a definite step up from Final Fantasy 12 however perhaps a step too far in some directions, good ideas such as the innovative battle system that although enjoyable just aren't quite capable of living up to the prestige that comes with having Final Fantasy in the title. If you Like JRPGs then this is a game for you, if you didn't like FF12 then give this game some consideration as it's a different breed, but if you don't like JRPs or think that FF12 was the way forward then maybe give this a miss.

          At A Glance.
          Gameplay ~ 7/10
          Story ~ 6/10
          Graphics ~ 9/10
          Sound ~ 7/10
          Replay Value ~ 6/10

          Final Score: 35/50

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          • More +
            07.07.2010 21:38
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            KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

            Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

            Back in 1999 Crystal Dynamics released Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, a sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain which was developed by Silicon Knights. After a messy legal battle Silicon Knights lost the rights to Crystal Dynamics and so development and in turn style shifted. Soul Reaver is a 3D action-adventure game and although I say that it's a rather unfair label, with complex (at times head scratching) puzzles, huge exploration and touches of platforming elements Soul Reaver is a game with plenty of dimensions running through it.

            The story sees Vampire lieutenant Raziel tossed into a whirlpool by his master Kain as punishment for taking the evolutionary step of growing wings before him, a punishment that should have killed Raziel. A creature named the Elder has another fate in mind for Raziel however and resurrects him then tasks him with eliminating Kain and his minions. The plot to the Legacy of Kain games can only be described as EPIC... I know that's an over used term on the internet but considering there are a total of six games in the series in total all connected together by the presence of Kain. This means there's one very important thing to remember, if you do enjoy this game and join the critics (and myself) in praising the plot you will not get all the answers from this game or indeed many of the games as the stories are directly linked.

            Exploration is a big part of Soul Reaver's gameplay with ledges to jump (or glide) to, blocks to push and a clever mechanic which allows Raziel to switch between the physical and spectral planes. By doing this you effectively have two versions of every area in the game which is crucial to utilize when trying to solve some of the game's puzzles, on that subject it's worth saying again that these aren't the simple "here's a lever" puzzles and are in some cases are very clever. There is combat in Soul Reaver but not as much as you might expect, be that as it may the developers also put some thought into the combat system, you see you're fighting vampires and as we all know vampires aren't like people, you can beat on them all you want but if you want to kill them then you'll have to either impale, incinerate or expose them to sunlight or water. The souls of dead enemies can be devoured by Raziel to replenish health which is very useful considering that Raziel's health depletes slowly over time.

            When playing Soul Reaver it won't be long before you realise that the environment is huge (yes if you've played Morrowind or Two Worlds then this isn't that huge but remember this is PS1) and not only that but unlike other games there is no loading of other areas as the game uses a "fog of war" style mechanic for areas in the distance allowing the environment to be constantly streamed from the CD, while the "fog of war" thing may sound bad it really isn't as the fog actually adds to the gothic atmosphere. Graphics wise this is very impressive for a Playstion game with nice realistic lighting and fluid animation, when Raziel picks up a torch it looks like he picks up a torch, when he jumps to another platform it looks like he's jumping, when he logs onto the SSBlastoff blog... (well maybe not that but you get the idea).

            Sound has no real issues, it really comes down to taste as far as the music is concerned, I found for the most part that music is suitable for the setting and quite original (I can't think of too many games with a distinctive almost archaic while at the same time modern feel at the same time... yes it's a paradox... I know) so enjoyable enough. Voice acting is done very well and is on par with anything you'll find on the market today, Soul Reaver proves that with a good script and competent actors who take the idea of a game being a story seriously means you can produce high quality western voice acting.

            Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is a game with class in abundance and plenty of reasons to like it, at first the sheer scale can be a little overwhelming with a sense of a lack of any real direction, once past this initial phase however you'll find a game that deserves to be in any list of must haves for the Playstation. Definitely a slow starting game that requires a lot of patience (and time if you plan on seeing as much of the story as possible... six games...) but persevere and you won't be disappointed.



            At A Glance.
            Gameplay ~ 8/10
            Story ~ 9/10
            Graphics ~ 9/10
            Sound ~ 8/10
            Replay Value ~ 4/10

            Final Score: 39/50

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            • More +
              20.06.2010 22:13
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              KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

              Valkyria Chronicles

              Brought to you by Sega's Sega WOW division of development (includes the minds behind the excellent Skies Of Arcadia) Valkyria Chronicles is a strategy role playing game released for the Playstation 3 back in 2008.

              Set on the fictional continent of Europa during a huge conflict Valkyria Chronicles is a fantasy take based on World War One and Two, now that might sound odd for a Japanese RPG of any description but when I say "based" and "fantasy" the operative word is definitely fantasy. You follow the story of Welkin Gunther who joins the war effort after his home town of Bruhl is attack. There is more complexity to the story with the culture and history of Europa being unravelled as you go through the game but I don't want to spoil that for you. Welkin isn't alone in his fight as his joined by his adopted sister Isara and Alicia Melchiott, a girl from Bruhl who Welkin meets during the attack as well as a host of other characters in Welkin's squad.

              Gameplay really stands out for Valkyria Chronicles when you compare it to other SRPGs and is definitely one of the game's major strengths, if you've played other SRPGs then it may surprise you, Sega have done away with the grid based maps which fans of this genre have become accustomed to and has instead allowed the player to move in real time 3D. Basically like most SRPGs you have to complete a mission which like most SRPGs involves picking a team of characters to send into battle however unlike in other games of this genre you have the ability to run around the map freely in all directions when in control of a character, however just like other games you can only move so far and in this case how many steps you can take is dependent on the character's current AP gauge (think Breath of Fire: Dragon's Quarter or Phantom Brave and you'll know exactly how it works).
              It isn't a good idea to take too long with movement though as if you're in the enemy's line of sight you'll receive damage from "inception fire", yes just like in a real war if a solider sees you walking around they will shoot at you and vice versa so be sure to move quickly and take cover when you can. When you choose to attack an aimer will appear and you will be able to choose your target without taking damage as everything pauses (without this you would die a lot... yes an awful lot). There are unit types just as in any SRPG and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, the well balanced scout for example can't stand up to a tank but they can easily handle a lancer who in turn can take out a tank in one hit given the right circumstances, this leads to the old fashioned "rock-paper-scissors" style of unit interaction albeit with more then three options. Coupling the original battle aspects while keeping an old school core means Valkyria Chronicles allows fans of other SRPGs like the superb Fire Emblem series to enjoy the established elements of SRPGs that we enjoy while keeping it fresh.

              As far as graphics go Valkyria Chronicles does a very nice job of standing out from the crowd with a colourful style which closely resembles watercolours (it's not quite paintbrush like Okami but is pleasing to look at). Sound is quite nice as it goes, music and sound effects are appropriate and the English voice acting is done well, however the dialogue is at times cheesy, if you're a fan of Japanese RPGs or anime then you probably have encountered the type of cheese I'm talking about (friendship/ love/happiness/lollipops etcetera) so if that turns you off then it may bother you (who doesn't like a little bit of cheese sometimes though?).

              The PS3 is lacking in quality exclusives which is one clear reason to buy Valkyria Chronicles, add to that the fact that this is a very good and original strategy role playing game and you have another reason to add this gem to you're collection, if you don't like SRPGs maybe you still should give this a look since it isn't the usual fare, though if you are a die hard "strategy is boring" person or find the idea of a fantasy World War game confusing and irritating then this should probably be given a miss.


              At A Glance.
              Gameplay ~ 8/10
              Story ~ 7/10
              Graphics ~ 8/10
              Sound ~ 6/10
              Replay Value ~ 6/10

              Final Score: 35/50

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              09.06.2010 11:40
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              KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

              Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions

              Back in 1997 Squaresoft (now Square Enix) publishers of the world conquering Final Fantasy series released Final Fantasy Tactics for the Playstation, being a Japan and America only release game meant that unfortunately many people in the PAL region missed out on what was a universally acclaimed strategy role playing game from the highly celebrated developer and creator of the Ogre Battle series Yasumi Matsuno. Fast-forward to 2007 and the release of a ported version to the Playstation Portable, obviously a big deal to those fans who were unable to play the original or to those fans who felt as if the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series (indirect sequels to the original) hadn't quite filled the hole left by FFT. That's the brief history lesson over so on with the review.

              Final Fantasy Tactics is a strategy role playing game (SRPG), it takes you through the story of "The War Of The Lions" and more specifically the role the protagonist of this game Ramza Beoulve played in it. The game starts with Ramza and a group of mercenaries defending a monastery and Princess Ovelia within. The Princess is kidnapped however is saved from an assassination attempt thanks to Ramza and his best friend Delita, this leads to the first chapter of the game which tells the history of Ramza and Delita and what drove them apart. Tactics has a fairly complex story to say the least, it's filled with deception, betrayal and lots of other dark subject matter, it's a little slow to start and is certainly a choice for those who have patience but never really gets boring once it's started.

              Gameplay is your standard SRPG stuff, if you've played other SRPGs like the Disgea or the Fire Emblem series then you already have a fair idea what to expect,you have control over a group of characters that you can outfit with equipment and skills depending on their class and level which change their effectiveness in battles (it's very menu heavy). Battles take place on an isometric grid with you choosing which characters you want to take part in battle to defeat your opponents who are scattered across the battle map. As far as classes or jobs as they're referred to (they usually are in FF games) are basically what they sound like, jobs, depending on what job a character is effects the equipment they can access and the skills they have available, for instance a black mage has the "Black Magic" ability where as the knight job has the "Arts of War" ability. Stats also differ according to jobs, while all stats increase when you level up depending on what job a character currently is some stats will grow faster than others, using the black mage again, when it levels up it gains a bonus in the magic stat but the knight gains extra defence, this means that FFT provides you with a lot of depth and customisation options. Add to all this side quests and extra multiplayer missions (assuming you can actually find someone to play with...) and you have yourself a very long total playtime.

              Graphics are old fashioned, they fit right in with the PS1 which makes sense when you consider this is a port of a PS1 game, the 2D character spites are nostalgia inducing and the 3D battle plains are nice enough. The story is supplemented by cut scenes done in a cel-shaded anime style which are very nice to look at. The game isn't without it's flaws though, these are evident during battles, while battle animations look impressive the problem is that some suffer from obvious slow down and you'll often notice that while the sound effect has ended the animation has yet to catch up, this is by no means game destroying but rather a small annoyance until you get used to it. Sound is good, music is the usual orchestral fare you expect from Square and during aforementioned cut scenes character actually have voice actors, they don't do a bad job either though these scenes only occupy a minority of the game so don't expect anything other then a lot of reading (not that that's a bad thing).

              Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions is in my opinion an excellent game, it's one of the best games on the PSP and is a must for fans of strategy RPGs in general, if you own a PSP and are just looking to expand your collection again this game is highly recommended, if you aren't a fan of the genre then this extra text heavy outing isn't for you.

              At A Glance.
              Gameplay ~ 9/10
              Story ~ 9/10
              Graphics ~ 7/10
              Sound ~ 7/10
              Replay Value ~ 7/10

              Final Score: 39/50

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              01.06.2010 16:14
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              KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

              Mass Effect

              (If you're reading this feeling deja vu don't worry this isn't the Matrix... I think... I've just finally gotten around to putting ME and ME2's reviews under the right products, oops. Anyway enjoy the review)

              The year is 2183 and you are Commander Shepard of the SSV Normandy... well actually it's 2007 and the highly anticipated Mass Effect has hit stores and... no it's 2010... and you're just reading a review of Mass Effect (Oh). Developed by Bioware Mass Effect had a sizable chunk of hype behind it, despite a relatively disappointing last game (Jade Empire) Bioware had a firm fan base and a good track record (particularly after Knights of the Old Republic 1&2 for those who didn't follow them on PC) and Mass Effect seemed to be another daring western RPG which promised large worlds and top notch story telling.

              Well Getting right down to it, Mass Effect is a science fiction WRPG which sees Commander Shepard Earth's number one solider going forth in search of the man (alien) responsible for the murder of a Turian Spectre. To do this Shepard (you) will have to build a squad, explore distant planets and speak to many different people. Obviously I've summarised the story's premise just slightly but you get the idea. Commander Shepard is customisable, you can change the general appearance such as eye colour, hair and the first name though for script purposes Shepard as the last name can't be changed and is how other characters will refer to you in game. You also get to decide the gender of Shepard. The final aspect of character creation is choosing your class which effects the abilities your character will have. You do gain experience to spend on new stats and abilities in Mass Effect and money to spend on new fancy equipment (it is an RPG). It's also good to see that different armour actually looks different so if you equip it your character you will look different, far too many console RPGs don't do this.

              Mass Effect sees you spending a lot of time talking to NPCs (none-player characters) to gather information for missions and general curiosity or to buy equipment to improve your character. Interaction with characters is controlled with speech choices, when having a conversation with someone you are given a set of choices as how to respond with different decisions yielding different answers, your words and actions also affect your morality earning you either paragon (hero) points or renegade (badass) points. If you aren't talking then you're probably fighting, this is handled with an over the shoulder shooter angle during which you can cycle between weapons and powers to defeat your foes. You have to go through a menu to switch weapons or use a power which can slow down battles a little but it's no big deal. The main story for Mass Effect isn't long (for an RPG), if you avoid side quests than your looking at between thirteen and eighteen hours depending on your skill level but add to that the side quests and it increases by a good twenty hours, these normally involve you exploring a desolate planet in your Mako, a buggy type vehicle. There are a lot of planets to explore and while it may become tedious after a while, it's clear the developers put some effort into making the universe you're in seem as large as possible. If you really enjoy Mass Effect then there's a welcome option to replay your completed file with all your equipment and stats, maybe you played the game choosing paragon options and now want to try the renegade to see the way Shepard approaches the story or perhaps on this playthrough you'd like to tackle side quests, this all adds to replay value but probably only if you really enjoyed the game first time through.

              Graphics are a mixed bag, while Mass Effect certainly looks nice and attention to detail like lip syncing while the characters talk is handled very well there is a big problem with texture pop in. For those of you who don't know this is when the general detail in textures doesn't load quick enough so for about a second and a half or so while talking to a character or looking at the environment you'll find that the place or person seems to have lost any real texture instead seeing an eerily smooth surface. Load screens are also a problem, that isn't to say there is a lot of them as they are replaced in many instances by elevators, yes you get to stare at your character for ten or more seconds in an elevator while the game loads a new section of an area (I'd prefer load screens).Music is at best forgettable, I generally found myself not even realising there was music playing. Voice acting is however definitely not a problem in Mass Effect, it's clear Bioware worked hard to make sure their actors did a good job of letting you know how a character felt when they delivered their lines.

              Mass Effect is a very good effort from Bioware and does some things very well, it might not be a huge revelation in the RPG genre as a whole but as far as WRPGs go this is definitely one of the finest examples of how they can be made. If you own an XBox 360 then you should definitely buy this game, particularly for the fact that there is a planned trilogy of the Mass effect series. If you don't like WRPGs then don't buy this game.

              Also if you do buy this game you can carry over your save file to Mass Effect 2 so don't delete it.

              At A Glance.
              Gameplay ~ 7/10
              Story ~ 8/10
              Graphics ~ 7/10
              Sound ~ 6/10
              Replay Value ~ 7/10

              Final Score: 35/50

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              • Nintendo Wii / Games Console / 21 Readings / 20 Ratings
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                28.05.2010 21:50
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                KK-Slither Says ~ Maybe...

                Nintendo Wii

                If the Wii keeps going at the pace it's set then it will eventually out sell the Playstation 2 and become the highest selling homes console of all time, the question is does that mean the Wii's a great console or indeed the greatest console of all time?

                Back in 2006 when the Wii was released Nintendo promised big things, that was to revolutionise the way people play games and introduce a whole new generation of people to games. If you start with how much heat the Wii is packing you'll be disappointed, compared to the PS3 or Xbox 360 the Wii simple can't compete graphically or in terms of storage loosing out over both consoles. With only 512 megabytes of memory on the Wii it's not hard to see why you may feel let down , add to that the SD card slot provided and things get a little bit easier especially after 2008 when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced Wii users would be able to save titles downloaded from the Virtual console and Wiiware channels directly to SD (what you aren't familiar with Virtual console and Wiiware?).

                The Virtual console channel is an online service which allows Wii owners to download classic games and save them to the Wii's internal memory or onto SD cards thus eliminating the need to bring out the old Super Nintendo or Sega Megadrive to play your favorites. At first glance this seems like a really good thing but when you realise that some games are going for upwards of £7.00 you start to wonder (maybe it's just me but I don't think it costs that much to make a rom and distribute it over the net, sure it takes some effort but 1200 Wii points...). Wiiware on the other hand is composed of entirely new modern titles developed in the most part by teams which otherwise wouldn't have the capital to get their games released. While you can go on the internet using the Wii with the Opera web browser I don't know why you'd want to, it's slow, ugly and has trouble loading videos. If you have a router for the internet then the chances are you already have a PC or laptop so just use that instead. One good bonus to Nintendo's online service is that it's free, yes as long as you can find a game worth playing online on the Wii you can enjoy it for free (mario kart doesn't count because of rampant cheating and Smash Bros/TVC have poor lag).

                The remote (or wiimote) is the key to the Wii's claims of revolution, first off it's wireless (but Nintendo already released the wireless wavebird controller for the Gamecube years before... )
                and second it delivers motion control. Basically the idea is that whatever motion the character you control on screen needs to do you preform in real life to do it, that again sounds very interesting unless you're a cynical person (like me) and instead of putting the effort in realise that the wiimote only needs a slight flick of the wrist to get the desired effect. The lack of required enthusiasm isn't a bad thing it just means if you want to jump and jiggle you can or if you want to sit on a chair and try to play a game like a game you can. The motion detection is decent but isn't as sharp as it should be, thankfully the introduction of motion plus (a small device which improves motion detection)
                solves these little annoyances, I just wish Nintendo had sorted out these problems before the Wii was released.

                This is where we get to the Wii's biggest problem, games. There is one simple undeniable fact about the Wii and it's that third party developers for the most part just can't be bothered to produce a decent game for the Wii, I'm not asking for quality on the level that Nintendo provide but just that I don't see yet another mini game compilation or some other poor excuse of a game which exists solely to piggyback off Nintendo's success. While Nintendo isn't totally blameless in a sense that their quality control has dropped in recent years the release of games like Mario Galaxy have helped to give gamers something to play, yes until we get a few more Platinum Games or Vanillawares out there I'm afraid the Wii will continue to have to rely heavily on it's in house game development.

                So did we answer the question posed way back in the first paragraph? The Nintendo Wii will most likely beat the PS2 sales wise and will have introduced a whole new audience just as Nintendo wanted, unfortunately a lack of quality titles means the Wii falls short (very short), compared to the Gamecube or Nintendo 64 the Wii simply doesn't match up. You can overlook the technical shortcomings of the Wii but only if it has the quality to draw you're attention away and it simply doesn't, if you're new to games the Wii is definitely worth looking to, it will ease you in and at £129 to £150 it's still a fairly cheap option, if you're a gamer looking for the premier seventh generation console then maybe put this at the bottom of you're list, it may have some games that are without doubt worth owning there's just not enough to warrant this as a first choice console.

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                  23.05.2010 21:31
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                  KK-Slither Says ~ Highly Recommended.

                  Mass Effect 2

                  (If you're reading this after reading my review for ME and feeling deja vu don't worry this isn't the Matrix... I think... I've just finally gotten around to putting ME and ME2's reviews under the right products, oops. Anyway enjoy the review)

                  Bioware's Mass Effect 2... it has a lot to do, juggling the pressure of the critical acclaim of it's predecessor while trying to expand on the interesting (if a little underdeveloped) story.

                  Mass Effect 2 takes place directly after the events of the first game and again sees you take control of commander Shepard. Through some very unfortunate events Shepard is separated from his old crew of the first game and after some considerable time has past finds himself having to work with the infamous terrorist group Cerberus in order to combat the threat posed to the galaxy by the evil Reapers. The story isn't bad, and it helps if you have played though the first game though Bioware have gone to some effort to fill you in on previous events in the last game so eventually you should be able to piece everything together if this is you're first Mass Effect. The story does however suffer from the lack of an antagonist to aim your hate at, it sorely misses Saren from the first game.

                  If you haven't played the first Mass Effect then this doesn't apply to you but if you have then I hope you kept you're old save file as ME 2 features an import option which allows you to start a new file carrying over some of the key data from you're old file, this includes story choices you made and the appearance of your character. I really like the import option since it adds continuity to the ME universe, it's a shame though as for some reason Bioware don't allow you to edit the appearance of you're character, if you want to change even the slightest detail you'll lose all changes and have to start from the default appearance all over again.

                  From a gameplay aspect ME 2 has change, it's not unrecognisable from the first game to those who have played it but one thing you will notice while playing ME 2 is that the RPG side of things have been toned down considerably in favour of a more streamlined experience. Fighting still takes place through an over the shoulder view accompanied by gun shifting, power selecting, bullet flying action. The combat aspects of this are actually better feeling more fluid and powers have also improved in this with more to choose from and looking more impressive. Unfortunately this leads us onto the whole less of an RPG more of a shooter thing I was saying earlier, the combat is improve but equipment is severally, depressingly reduced in this game, while there are more weapon types in this game you will only find two or three versions of each, for example in one playthrough I only got two types of heavy pistol... maybe I'm alone in this but that just isn't on, RPGs are supposed to have a plethora of stat altering equipment designed to develop a character the way you want, not two swords and three shields to choose from. Exploration has also taken a hit, the old Mako used to search desolate planets has been replaced by a boring scanning process which finds minerals which can be used to purchase upgrades for your equipment and ship. I know that the Mako could at times get repetitive but compared to the scanner it's practically heart racing action, the loss of planet exploration also makes the universe feel much smaller really taking away from the grandeur. The other main point of interest is character interaction which is a mixed bag, while there are more characters on your party to interact with the conversations in the romance sub plots seem forced and clichéd (not in the good way).

                  Graphics have been really improved in ME 2, one of my minor gripes with the original was the all too often pop in and other graphical glitches, these have been greatly reduced and the long elevator scenes have been replaced with load screens (that may sound bad but it's a good thing). The music is just as disappointing in ME 2 as it was in the original, it's very understated and almost unnoticeable. Voice acting is even better in this game then in the last (it's hard to believe) with a particularly strong performance from Martin Sheen (yes that Martin Sheen) as The Illusive Man.

                  Mass Effect 2 does some things better than Mass Effect, it does these thing very well, unfortunately the things it does worse it does noticably worse. If you enjoyed the first game then definitely buy this, if you didn't then definitely don't. If you aren't either you should consider this but maybe buy the original in the series first.

                  There is a planned trilogy so just as before be careful not to delete your file when you're done playing.

                  At A Glance.
                  Gameplay ~ 7/10
                  Story ~ 7/10
                  Graphics ~ 8/10
                  Sound ~ 6/10
                  Replay Value ~ 6/10

                  Final Score: 34/50

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                    21.05.2010 20:39
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                    KK-Slither Says ~ Good Buy

                    Zack & Wiki Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

                    If you're of a certain age and familiarity to video games then the chances are you've had some experience with point and click adventures, while for the main they're nothing more than an obscure flight of fancy for nerds nowadays there was a time when point and clicks were a major part of the gaming world. Well in January 2008 game developers Capcom decided to bring them back.

                    Staring off with Zack & Wiki (Z&W) can be a deceptive game, it's comedic story follows pirate in training Zack and his sidekick the golden monkey Wiki as they attempt to find the pieces of the skeleton pirate Barbaros who promises them the location of his coveted treasure and pirate ship. The theme continues with the bright and shiny graphics which wouldn't be out of place in a children's book. These elements can mislead you into believing that Z&W is a simple game aimed at people who have no interest in the challenge a game can present and as a result won't test skill or mental capacity, add to that the opening tutorial stages in which the game holds your hand constantly and it seems those fears are correct... that is until that tutorial ends and the game commences to throwing a marathon of puzzles at you with little or no help and say good luck (yes Z&W is anything but a walk in the park).

                    Now if you've played point and clicks before then the gameplay of Z&W isn't anything new, start in an area and examine the environment and any points of interest setting into motion a set of actions or events which are to help Zack and Wiki get the treasure chest at the end of each area, in Z&W this can be a whole set of things from turning a crank to draining a lake but of course it isn't as straight forward as that or it wouldn't be a puzzle. Z&W works exclusively with the wiimote (no nunchuck) which you use as a cursor to tell Zack where to walk and what to interact with, it is also used to act out the actions of Zack such as pouring water or opening an umbrella. Using the A button will let you move or interact while holding the B trigger lets Zack look around without moving to give you a better view of your surroundings. The other important aspect of the controls is to shake the wiimote which turns Wiki into a bell transforming all the nearby enemies into objects to help you solve the puzzles at hand. Depending on how good you do you also receive points called HirameQ and coins earned can be spent on helpful items.

                    There's some treasure to be had in Z&W (no surprise considering it's what pirates do) and it's provided in the form of the catalogue which is filled with all the plunder you find meaning the perfectionists among you have reasons to keep playing after completing the game.

                    I've already touched on presentation but in case you weren't paying attention I'll say again that Z&W is a bright and shiny game full of cute, cuddly and silly characters, the music is light hearted as you'd expect and does it's job nicely.

                    Z&W is an enjoyable game that does a good job of bringing the point and click genre to a new audience, it can be frustrating at times (as any good point and clock should be) but never leaves you wanting to give up on playing, it is slow and does require patience but that's just the nature of these sort of games. If this thoughtful gameplay doesn't appeal to you then Z&W isn't for you but if you like point and clicks or want to add to your Wii collection then this is worth considering.

                    At A Glance.
                    Gameplay ~ 7/10
                    Story ~ 6/10
                    Graphics ~ 7/10
                    Sound ~ 6/10
                    Replay Value ~ 5/10

                    Final Score: 31/50

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                    20.05.2010 22:01
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                    KK-Slither Says ~ Give it a go.

                    Stranglehold

                    Hard Boiled (the film) came out way back in 1992. It was directed by John Woo and stared Chow Yun-Fat as Inspector Tequila Yuen a hard as nails Hong Kong cop. Skip froward to September 2007
                    where John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat are back together this time in game form.

                    The story to Stranglehold shares many similarities to it's predecessor with you controlling Chow Yun-Fat who is playing Inspector Tequila. Tequila finds himself involved in a murder case, one where innocent Hong Kong police officers have been killed. Needless to say Tequila deals with this case like any other case, gathering witness statements, collecting evidence and building a solid case...not really instead he takes to the gang ridden streets of Hong Kong with his trusty pistols and a hell of a lot of bullets. Story is not Stranglehold's strong point but it is as enjoyable as most no frills Hollywood action flicks.

                    Stranglehold performs best when it comes to gameplay, it's a no nonsense shoot 'em up in the vain of Max Payne, this means lots of jumping, wall running and bucket loads of slow mo. All of this adds up to adrenaline filled gun fight after gun fight each one harder then the last. Many other action games within this genre have found it difficult to maintain a steady flow of non repetitive action sequences but Stranglehold has done well to avoid this with it's interactive and very destructible environments.

                    Controls are another area where these kind of games can fall down but once again Stranglehold's are mostly smooth and intuitive.

                    Graphically Stranglehold also stands up well with solid models, good lighting and detailed environments. Clipping (when body parts or guns poke into or through people and environments) can be an annoyance but it's easily ignored. Sound is Stranglehold's main weakness with the soundtrack being forgettable at best and the voice acting bar Chow Yun-Fat himself being flat. This is a real shame considering the big names attached to the game and could have been easily solved by leaving it in Cantonese (like Hard Boiled was) and subbing it.

                    All in all I found Stranglehold to be an immensely playable and continually fun game. Some have criticized it's lack of innovation, it's length (played on hard it's about eight hours) and it's (by now dead) uninspired multiplayer but I say to them why not come down off that high horse for awhile and just enjoy this game for what it is, a video game.

                    At A Glance.
                    Gameplay ~ 7/10
                    Story ~ 5/10
                    Graphics ~ 7/10
                    Sound ~ 5/10
                    Replay Value ~ 6/10

                    Final Score: 30/50

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                    19.05.2010 21:49
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                    KK-Slither Says ~ Highly recommended.

                    Muramasa: The Demon Blade

                    Muramasa is classed as an action RPG but it's more accurate to say that Muramasa is an old school hack 'n slash with about 5% role playing elements. Developed by the excellent Vanillaware and published by Rising Star Games (the champion of everything Japanese) in Europe Muramasa was released back in November 2009 and actually presented the prospect of a quality third party title for the Wii that wasn't a port or No More Heroes.

                    Muramasa allows you to follow the story of one of two character, the first is the unfortunate princess Momohime who finds herself disembodied as her spirit has been forced from her body and been possessed by the the evil swordsman Jinkuro which leads the two on an adventure to fulfil Jinkuro's evil plan. The second character is an amnesia suffering young ninja named Kisuke who seems to be being chased by just about every other ninja in the whole of Japan, so Kisuke sets about discovering what the problem is. The story for Muramasa isn't anything too special, it's good enough to keep you interested until the end and the characters are likeable, each with their own quirks and personalities.

                    You have a fair bit of variety with Muramasa as far as controls go with Vanillaware programming in control schemes for the wiimote, classic controller and the gamecube pad, I can say with first hand experience that the wiimote and gamecube pad (didn't try the classic controller) both work well and it really depends on preference (but why use up charge on a wiimote?). If you've played Vanillaware's Odin Sphere then you'll already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Muramasa. When you start you'll be given a choice of what difficulty you want to play on either muso (easy) or shura (normal) and then you choose which character's story you wish to play, every time you load up your file you'll have the option to change the difficulty and choose which story to play as progress from both are saved onto the same file. I would recommend playing on shura if you're an experienced hack 'n slash player as muso was too easy. The gameplay is simple with you having a basic combo supplemented with a block, charge attack, low attack, uppercut and dash attack. There is also a quick draw (whole screen flash) attack and a secret art for each sword (though some are just more powerful versions of old ones) you have equipped, you carry three swords at a time and there are over one hundred to collect. The flow of Muramasa is simple, you start in one area and make you're way through it while fighting off random encounter battles until you get to a boss battle. For beating bosses you get a new sword that will allow you to break barriers of a certain colour of which there are many throughout the world impeding you're progress. The rest of the swords can be forged in the menu at the cost of soul which you collect from defeated enemies and find scattered throughout the areas you traverse, and spirit which you accumulate as you eat food that you either buy at restaurants or cook yourself. Most of the time in Muramasa you'll be running or jumping from one screen to another to reach your destination and the rest of the time you'll be cutting through one enemy after another which might sound repetitive but the challenge presented by the tougher enemies and bosses coupled with the simple yet fun gameplay means you won't mind. As for the minimal RPG elements there is experience and when you level up you're hit points and attack goes up though you won't notice as the most important aspect of Muramasa is skill rather then stats.
                    There's also some replay value to be had with extra endings and a harder difficulty.

                    The graphics for this game are 2D sprites and hand drawn backgrounds both of which are of the highest quality. I can't really do it justice but just as with Odin Sphere Vanillaware have managed to produce one of the best looking games on the console they've chosen to support, choosing the obvious talent required for 2D animation (as usual) over the pixel pushing power houses we're used to seeing from developers these days. The music does it's job of reminding you you're supposed to be be in Japan but not much else.

                    All in all if you're a fan of Vanillaware you should get this game, if you're a fan of action games you should buy this game, if you're a Wii owner who doesn't have a fear of games which rely on dexterity then again you should buy this game. If however you don't like action games or don't like 2D because you feel it's a step back for the games industry then don't buy Muramasa (who doesn't like 2D though?).

                    At A Glance.
                    Gameplay ~ 7/10
                    Story ~ 6/10
                    Graphics ~ 10/10
                    Sound ~ 5/10
                    Replay Value ~ 7/10

                    Final Score: 35/50

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                      17.05.2010 18:35
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                      KK-Slither Says ~ Must buy... unless you'd sooner get SSF4.

                      Street Fighter 4 PS3

                      The eighth highest selling game in Capcom's catalogue (as of writing this) is a game I have spent many hours enjoying. Released in February 2009 SF4 was met with critical acclaim and financial success alike being haled as the game that would reignite the gaming world's interest in both the Street Fighter series and the arcade scene, a tall order as although Capcom had found some success with previous titles like Marvel vs Capcom 2 the stand alone series had trouble emulating the dizzy heights of Street Fighter 2/turbo which are (again as of writing this) first and third in the aforementioned list respectively.

                      If you're a fan of Street Fighter 2/turbo the first thing you'll notice is the cast of character, yes with the exceptions of Dee Jay and T Hawk all of the cast return as well as a few from the Street Fighter Alpha line of games and six whole new characters for you to play as, that's twenty five characters in total. You can enjoy the story of each of these character (not that story ever really mattered in beat 'em ups) in mediocre anime style cutscenes in the arcade mode which in one way or another will see every character find their way to fighting the antagonist of SF4 Seth (terribly crappy). While I won't spoil who the unlockable characters are I will say that Capcom does appear to have tried to cater to a lot of different tastes. The new characters (Crimson Viper, Rufus, Abel and El Fuerte) aren't necessarily bad character however they seem to lack a degree of character and originality (a luchador oh haven't seen that before... and Rufus/C.Viper won't remind anyone of Allen/Sharon from the now defunct Street Fighter EX series). The game itself tries hard to remind everyone of the old days of Street Fighter with the cast, the gamepaly isn't quite as capable. The general premise of SF4 is as in all beat 'em ups one opponent faces another in mortal combat, you deplete you're opponent's life bar by landing blows and when the bar is empty you win. Despite being sped up when compared to the first video shown SF4's 3D models just don't move as fast or as smooth as the old 2D sprites of yore, don't get me wrong the game looks very nice and the original (described as eastern meets western) style really gives the game an identity of it's own.

                      There are a few new techniques in this game in the form of "ultra combos" which when landed starts a flashy cinematic for MASSIVE DAMAGE. This can be preformed when the new "revenge gauge" (Samurai Showdown anyone?) is filled. The second is the "focus attack" which can be performed by pressing the medium punch and kick buttons simultaneously which allows the user to absorb one hit without flinching and if it's charged to a high level can actually crumple you're opponent letting you land a free hit and expand into combos. While you still receive damage in that one hit it will regenerate after a short time assuming you're not hit in the mean time.
                      "Super combos" (SF Alpha series) and "EX moves" (Dark Stalkers series) make their return providing more depth to the gameplay. All this depth means nothing if you don't have anywhere to use it but thankfully with an arcade mode, survival, time attack and both online and same room multiplayer modes you'll have plenty of choices of how to spend you're time, and if that's a little daunting the training mode will help you get to grips with using you're character of choice. It is worth saying though that the online mode is far from smooth with it at times taking what seems like forever to find a match. That being said it should be clear that for free online play (I'm very cheap) and also a far better pad (playing with a 360 D-pad is garbage for fighters) that you are far better off getting this for PS3 then any other system unless you have spare cash for the overpriced Xbox online service and an arcade stick.

                      Trying to take SF4 into modern times with 3D graphics as Akira tried with SF EX while hoping to retain an old SF2/T fan base has left SF4 somewhere in the middle of both with a lack of speed when compared to SF2/T but some original modern ideas, overall slower speed and dulling of button input executions to ease in new fans means that while more accessible SF4 hasn't quiet copied the feel of previous SF titles not that it's a bad thing, just don't expect this to feel like you stepped into a time machine.

                      Music is a big disappointment when you consider the timeless tunes of the old SF2/T being replaced by the cringe inducing theme "The Next Door" not to mention the very bland stage music. If Capcom wanted to remind people of SF then they should have torn up the entire soundtrack save a few of the old remixed themes.

                      Now with Super Street Fighter 4 out you might ask yourself why bother with SF4? Well there are a few reasons why, first if you're like me then you want as complete a collection as possible, if you're new to the series and aren't sure if SF is for you picking up a now cheap (£10.99 in some places and even the collector's edition isn't too steep now) copy could be a really good way to make up you're mind and there is of course those of you who won't like the rebalancing that some of the characters in SSF4 have gone through and will after the initial hype has died down go back to playing this. Even forgetting all this it is worth saying that SF4 is a quality game and a must for fighter enthusiasts and SF fans alike (real shame about the crappy boss though).

                      At A Glance.
                      Gameplay ~ 9/10
                      Story ~ 4/10
                      Graphics ~ 7/10
                      Sound ~ 5/10
                      Replay Value ~ 10/10

                      Final Score: 35/50

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