Friday, 11 October 2019

Two Point Hospital - Game Review.

If you were a kid in the 1990s, you probably know of or played the Bullfrog/EA classic game "Theme Hospital". It was a simple and funny simulation game where you built and run your own quirky hospital, treating equally quirky and goofy "illnesses" that patients presented with. It was a simple game, you developed new rooms and things to put in your hospital while working to make money and balance the books, prevent deaths and basically fulfil your required targets. It saw release on the Playstation and PC at the time and was actually a game I played a lot as a kid. I played it a lot as an adult as well, often on my then boyfriend's old PC, in the comfy leaning chair and often with a cup of tea next to me on the desk while he was playing on the PS2, I can't remember if this was before or after my appendicitis happened so it could have been 2005 or 6.

Then someone decided to recreate the game, better graphics, more illnesses, clinics and other things. This game wasn't just a reboot of an old idea though, it was a homage. The creators wanted to pay tribute to the original game play, the idea of being an administrator in different scenerios, including one where the hospital was "publicly funded" and only got money through completion of different tasks and situations. It was created with people who worked on the original Theme Hospital game and was officially named as a "spiritual successor".

That game is Two Point Hospital.

As with the original, the focus in Two Point Hospital is created with the emphasis being on humour and nonsensical illnesses. Where in the original game you had people walking around with "Slack Tongue" (an illness that made the poor patient's tongue swell up) or the notorious "Bloaty Head", in TPH, you are likely to come across unfortunate people with conditions like "8 Bitten" (the person becomes rendered in 8bit) or "Crabbedheadness" (where the person has a crab like creature on their head) as well as some more risque ideas such as "Emperor Complex" (if you know the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes" you'll know this one) where someone will be getting a "nude awakening"! OK so I probably found it funnier than I ought to have when I witnessed some poor chap walking around in his "birthday suit" but it was definitely something new and different. Each place has diffferent illnesses and targets to meet, some harder than others. There's also expansions and DLC to take the game even further and the ability to customise your pictures, walls and floors. There is a lot to offer in Two Point and it definitely is an engaging game.

At first when I was running this game, I was running it on my old laptop which was from 2014 (ish) and was basically not able to run it properly so the game would regularly crash or glitch which admittedly I found disappointing.
If you have an older computer or one with lower specs, you won't be able to get the best out of this game. Since upgrading to something a bit more modern and a lot more powerful, I have been able to really see what this game can do. On the old system, I found the controls a bit clunky and unresponsive. Things would take a moment to catch up and there was often moments where the mouse would lock up and I would have to wait 5 minutes for the game to realise what I was telling it to do, but I think that said more about my old laptop than the actual game. I also had to run it at the lowest graphic setting and turn off things like music in order to stop the lagging. Obviously this didn't always work and the game would crash completely.

The new system however seems to be more competent in running the game. I am finding the controls a lot easier to handle and am finally able to enjoy the vivid scenery and graphics of the game. I was already very impressed with how they had managed to revive something that was totally new and revolutionary in it's time and make it still feel fresh and new. I would definitely recommend this title to anyone whe likes simple simulation games, strategy and have a nostalgia for the old game. My only nag with it would be that you really do need a decent machine in order to run the game to any quality so if your machine isn't up to the task, it won't be as good an experience.

Overall, I do rate this game very highly and recommend it to others. Especially if you fondly remember Theme Hospital and wish there was a faithful and modern version. There's a lot of witty puns, funny descriptions and the staff actuallu all behave as individuals rather than general all purpose men and women walking around actung the same way. So yeah, I would say that this is a solid game and worth paying for, the DLC is good fun too with some real replayability, which is something that a lot of games are lacking that these days which is a real shame.

Graphics - 7/10 The game looks great, characters are cartoony and have a kind of Ardman style to them.
Gameplay - 7/10 The gameplay can be a bit clunky if you have a system that isn't quite up to the games's specs or is only just able to run. The controls can lag a bit and slow down the game a bit which can be a little frustrating. By running the game on the lowest spec though I was able to ease this.
Everything else 8/10 Really fun, retro feeling game. A bit repetitive sometimes but generally challenging and engaging.

Total rating: 7/10

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Keep Calm and Cut at Will

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance 
Developed by: Konami
Platform: Playstation 3 and X-box 360

OK, so before we kick this off, I want to make it crystal clear that this is a completely stand-alone title in Konami and Kojima's beloved Metal Gear series. A lot of people got a bit annoyed because it was a Metal Gear game which didn't have Snake, probably because at the end of MGS4, Snake shuffled off his mortal coil in quite spectacular fashion (I am actually thinking of the getting a PS3 solely for MGS4, which I know is a little on the sad side). The end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty saw Snake handing over his legacy place as the hero to Raiden, the young Foxhound who a lot of people either loved or preferred to put on the receiving end of a ballistic missile. Either way, Raiden returns in this new game, older (albeit not that much wiser) and with some kick ass new toys to play with.

Once the game loaded, I had to mess around on the tutorial levels (admittedly after playing the short demo that came on X-box live) for a bit to try and get my hands around the rather interesting control system (at first it does admittedly feel a bit clumsy and awkward to get to grips with, but after about 10 minutes you are ready to go for the main story). The novelty of being able to chop everything does take a while to get old, purely because you actually want to test the theory and the general boundaries to see what you can realistically hack to pieces (anything from simple objects to bigger things like bridges or other parts of the environment) before remembering why you're there in the first place: to hack up PMC Cyborgs and steal the blue squishy electrolyte cells inside them as well as exploring a well thought out storyline which evokes memories of a past that Raiden would have preferred to have wiped clean.

The story was unusually good for a spin off, which came as a pleasant surprise. Starting with Raiden working to protect a dignitary and being introduced to rival Jetstream Sam and his rather unusual band of cyborg friends. After a battle resulting in the loss of an arm and an eye, Raiden comes back 3 weeks later in a new and more powerful body and a new fighting style that sets the tone for the rest of the game. The new idea of "Zandatsu" (literally meaning cut and take) is both as innovative and clever as it is fun to use. By entering "Blade Mode" you are free to either use the buttons or analogue stick to let loose a barrage of attacks to chop things in to little tiny pieces.

The game is backed up with fantastic visuals and a brilliant "Nu-Metal" soundtrack which both compliments the game and makes it all the more appealing to certain members of the target audience. The only thing that really got to me was the frequent swearing from characters which was never seen in any Metal Gear title but this could easily be overlooked, also, the game is relatively short and I managed to power through it within a few hours, but there seems to be scope for a sequel (as well as a demand for it in the future) so watch this space!

Overall Score: 9/10
Fantastic game with a powerful soundtrack, stunning visuals. Worthy of it's place within the Metal Gear franchise. Come on Kojima Productions, impress us some more with another installment! As for anyone else, don't knock it until you try it, this game makes up for the lack of a Snake character by packing a completely different punch!

Happy Gaming!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

2013... Up and Coming...

Well, 2013 is here (it seems the whole apocalypse thing was a load of complete and utter rubbish!) and I am looking over what new games this year has to offer. I have been spending the last few weeks playing the first Dead Space game (excellent, scary and generally a good game), the SAW game, and Devil May Cry 4. I've managed to finish it in "Human" mode and have started doing the "Devil Hunter" mode. I love the challenge of a game I enjoy being harder to play, but I have been looking at what games will soon be hitting my Xbox.

DMC: Devil May Cry.

A reboot of the ever popular Devil May Cry series. A younger, dark haired version of the legendary Demon Hunter is unleashed upon Limbo City to find out about this cult and the identity of the brother who reveals himself to Dante. So far, I have played the demo of this and it does look promising (I admit I was skeptical when I saw what the "New" Dante was going to look like). The control system seems pretty simple to get your hands around and it does include some new moves, like the Angel Lift. Its set to hit the shops in the next few days and I will be getting myself a copy!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

A spin off of one of my favourite game franchises, Metal Gear Solid is taking a new hero and a new style. Instead of Snake and his stealth approach, we are going to be playing with Raiden, his weird cyborg body and his style of cut EVERYTHING and anything you fancy. Under sleek visuals and what promises to be an intuitive gameplay, I think this is going to be a promising offering from Kojima.

So far, these are the ones that have jumped out at me the most, but I know that given time I am going to find more to play!

Happy Gaming!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Return of A Beloved Classic

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Developed by: Konami
Platform: X-box 360 and Playstation 3

This has been a recent release by Konami and Kojima. A reinvention of a game that set the bar on Stealth and Infiltration games. When they were originally released, these games were extremely popular and the subsequent stream of sequels, prequels and other games on various gaming systems has proven that one thing is true. The legacy of Solid Snake will live on, long after the man himself has succumbed to death.

What made these games great was the fantastic research (particularly on subjects like the Cold War, Soviet Russia and the Nuclear Arms race) which gave the games such a level of plausibility. The realism of the story makes it fascinating and as you progress through the games, you become enveloped within the story and you almost feel at times like you are watching a film instead of playing a computer game. The idea of a soldier sneaking in to a building and doing everything by stealth gave the game an element of fun and a challenge. Unlike other games similar to this, you don't always have to kill someone, you can just cleverly sneak past them instead!

As a long time fan of the franchise, you can imagine the palpable delight I felt when I saw that Metal Gear Solid HD Collections was going to be hitting the stores. I was actually really looking forward to the idea and when I saw that it was not only a PS3 release but it was also going to grace the platform of X box 360. This is the first time since Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes that the franchise ventured on to other systems other than Sony's Playstation systems. So this was a pretty exciting move.

Original Box Art from 2001
Before a HD Makeover
After it's HD Makeover
But, how does it play? Well to start with this game has 3 games in one, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty (original release was on Playstation 2 in 2001) and it followed on after Solid Snake had been victorious at Shadow Moses Island. Once again Snake and his comrades are called again to stop a group of terrorists, this time calling themselves "The Sons of Liberty". The main protagonist Raiden, has to fight his way through a group of old faces and threats from the previous game. After it's HD makeover, it looks polished and almost anew. Smoother graphics and improved gameplay. It looks like a neat little package and a pleasing one at that! It looks like a new game and it is in this format that it will recapture it's appeal for old fans as well as encourage a new generation of Metal Gear Solid fans. It is only a shame that we couldn't experience Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2 and  Metal Gear Solid in the same way, unless Hideo Kojima ever planned on recreating them for today's audience (maybe on a PSP format similar to how Square Enix managed to re-release the early Final Fantasy games).

Original PS2 Box Art 2004
Next up (and my personal favourite), is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. When this was released on the Playstation 2 in 2004, it was received very well and it showed the audience the origins of the Les Infants Terribles project and a bit of insight in to the life of the mysterious "Big Boss" (the game's playable character who goes by the name Naked Snake). You start the game being deposited from a gunship in to the jungle, where you must brave dangerous wildlife, flora and fauna as well as enemies who are armed to the teeth with all the artillery they can carry.
Original Screenshot
As part of the games innovative features is the use of hunting and procuring your own food on the job. This will keep your stamina bar high and helps with health recovery. Also you have to heal your own injuries on the mission as well as typical Metal Gear tradition, procuring your weapons. There is a lot out there, so there is plenty to keep you amused! It has been remastered in such a way that it is as beautiful as it is authentic. The vast research and twisting and turning storyline carry the game forward, keeping it as timeless as it was on release. OK so I did sit for ages with the SPV sniper-rifle picking off KGB guards as they came past where I was hidden. The improved visibility made sniping and hunting simpler and more profitable. After it's remaster, you really get to see just how much detail really goes in to a game like this. Even the individual follicles of hair and beard are carefully reproduced and the textures look incredibly real, not bad considering that this game is nearly 8 years old and was originally released in SD on a console that didn't really stand up too well, especially as HD gaming was being developed as well as more advanced consoles which allow us to enjoy things like this now.

Also included on a separate disk is the 2010 release, Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker. This is the first time this title (previously on PSP) was released on a home console. I've not played it yet so forgive me for my lack of review on this aspect, but from what I have read and seen, it looks to be just as spectacular as the rest of the package. I felt that perhaps an XBox release of "Guns of The Patriots" would have also been a good addition to this, but perhaps that may have to wait for a while. I believe it's release would be a welcome prospect for the future, but we will have to wait and see.

Fabulous re-port of incredibly popular games and I hope it brings in some new fans as well as exciting old ones.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Naruto Games Special.

Apologies for a rather unexplained absence, due to a shattered elbow (not the most fun way to spend 6 weeks, awkwardly trying to balance a controller in a cast), my ole' faithful giving me the RROD treatment after 3 years of being my loyal servant and gaming partner, was actually most gutted about that which is so weird, as well as matters of my personal life giving me hell, but here is so not the place to discuss any of that really is it?

So, I decided that I would review my latest obsession, the rather expansive Naruto games franchise. So far I have played 3 of these games and have to say that they piqued my interest further when is came to the anime and manga franchise and as a result I really am totally and completely hooked and it seems to be a long term addiction. Not that I mind really but it does prevent me from getting things done!

Naruto Rise of A Ninja. (2007)
Developed by: Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360.

Starting at the very beginning of the story of the number 1 Knuckleheaded Ninja. This game begins with the Academy Graduation exam where a group of young shinobi begin their careers as Ninja. The Hidden Leaf Village is full citizens who detest Naruto, which leads to a torrent of abuse until you perform a number of social quests to make them become more friendly towards Naruto. This game covers the first 3 series of the anime, from the Land of Waves story to the Chunin Exams and climaxes with the epic battle for survival between Naruto, Sakaura and Sasuke.

Game play is pretty simple both in battle and in the field, although it has to be said that the missions and quests do become repetitive and it follows the linear story of Naruto's progression. You can perform techniques with the use of the left trigger and the analogue thumb sticks, but the controls tend to be explained to you as you go along. The game almost teaches you how to play which is nice. You become aware of Jutsu which are learned from talking to Kakashi, The 3rd Hokage, Iruka and the lovable Pervy sage. You earn star points for each mission completed and these can be traded for new skills or even improvements on jutsu and over all abilities.

The village is completely explorable and theres no ground you can leave untouched, there is even an achievement thats hard to get that involves you getting up on to the roof of the Hokage's mansion. I don't know about you, but when I finally got up there through the underground tunnel, I really liked the view from here!! 

Outside the story there are a number of support quests and missions that Naruto can do to improve himself further. This includes the rather entertaining Ramen deliveries for Naruto's favourite Ramen shop, a race against time to deliver meals to hungry customers who are waiting in some of odd places including rooftops and even over the lake. You can engage in timed games of Hide and Seek with the Hokage's grandson Konahamaru, races given down to Naruto from Jonin and even small skirmishes with Naruto's friends.

Over all this game is entertaining to play but there are a few short comings with it. The first of which is some of the voice actors are not the ones used in the original anime and some of them sound so weird, confusing to the player. Also the random encounters and inability to heal in battle does become somewhat frustrating, especially after you have been playing for 8 hours and just want to get something done. Yes... I sat there for 11 hours playing this thing! Laughing at making Naruto fart by holding the charge buttons for too long. Online mode is a bit dead, but I think that is purely down to how old the game is so I can't hold that against the game.

Overall Score: 7/10
Entertaining, but I wish there had been more to do.

Naruto The Broken Bond (2008)
Developed by: Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360

Ubisoft really pulled out the stops in their second effort in the Naruto game franchise. Carrying on exactly where the first game left off and the player is to take part in the final battle between Orochimaru and Sarutobi Sensei, before going through the next stages of the the funeral and the quest to find Tsunade. The player goes through the next few parts of the story, this time being able to play as other youngsters in the Konoha 11. Theres more in store in terms of minigames, side missions and the return of the rather entertaining "Lovelorn Villagers."

Again theres the fun of exploring the expansive village, but some areas are much easier to reach. The tree action sequences which gave me a lot of hassle before have been improved and they're a lot more do-able. The environments actually have more detail and are rendered even better than before. There is a much better Vs mode with more characters which can be unlocked. There is something enjoyable about kicking the snot out of someone as Itachi and using Sharingan to my advantage. In this game you learn the powerful Rasengan and Chidori techniques as well as using certain characters to access certain areas.

The story mode is a bit more exciting and cuts out a lot of the fillers that were in the later series of the anime, but the story does progress to Sasuke's deflection from the village and the pursuit for him. With unlockable characters such as Kimimaro and the other Sound Ninja, Kisame Hoshigaki and Cursemark Sasuke. This is like an expansion of the 1st game, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.

The battle sequences are a little easier to get to grips with, an ability to heal youself and the need to build up the lower gauge to be able to use jutsu makes the fights a lot less repetative, returning of course with Rage Mode and the idea of using the thumb sticks and handsigns in order to perform techniques, including the incredibly powerful Rasengan which you gradually learn to master. 

My biggest gripe however was the slightly dizzy camera or a slight glitch where the characters will forget to follow you meaning you have the irksome task of fetching them.

Overall Score: 8/10
Excellent 2nd game and brilliant follow up to Rise of A Ninja.

Right your review of "Ulitimate Ninja Storm" will be on it's way, but I wanted to play a lot more before writing it, but I assure you. It is coming soon.


Friday, 28 October 2011

So... Erm....

Yeah, I have been spending WAY too much time on my PSP again and forgetting that there are so many other games that have been awaiting my attention. Oh and my old Xbox decided that after being booted by a mardy ex and generally screwing up "conveniently" since I kicked him out in May (long story, not the point mind), that it had had enough of working now and decided that it was going to do the dreaded RROD (Red Ring Of Death = Nastybad not work anymore...) and I was left thinking "Oh fantastic yet another outlay on Tuesday" but that's OK I was thinking of getting a new one eventually anyway it has to be said.

Well enough of my grousing and grumbling about it. My adoptive little brother Josh (who is frankly awesome) said I could borrow his Xbox until Tuesday so I'm back in the game. HA! There is no stopping Sin when she wants to game is there?

I've been attacking Dissidia still and for some reason have taken to playing it just before going to bed. It seems that I find some kind of perverse pleasure in kicking the shit out of a load of characters before bed. That's OK I guess and its not like I physically go out there and knocking the teeth down people's throats. Controlled aggression. Or something like that. As well as embarking on FF VIII on the PS2 (it was actually a PSx release, BUT I have a PS2 so thats how I play it).

Over the next week, I think Tom wants to see how I fare on F1 2011, and I will probably do my own review of it. The only driving game I play is Burnout, it has to be noted so this could be really REALLY interesting!

Keep on Gaming!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Dissidia 012 Duodecim

RELEASE: March 2011

After it's release in 2008, the original Dissidia title was received well by fans of the series. It allowed the player to play as favoured villians such as Emperor Mateaus and the ever popular Sephiroth, in a whole new idea. The idea was to combine all the past heroes and villains in an alternate universe where they are caught up in a battle between the gods, Chaos God of Discord, and Cosmos Goddess of Harmony in an attempt to quell the endless cycles of battle and the struggle between good and evil. The player was presented with the package of an RPG and an unconventional "Bravery" based battle system.
Before I go any further, let me explain the bravery system .What you see here is a typical battle scenario. You have the vertical bar which is your character's EX gauge (fill this up, do a HP attack, press Square and something VERY nice happens). Then you have the 2 horizontal health bars showing the fighter's current HP. Above these are a set of numbers, each shows the character's current "Bravery" which is either increased or decreased depending on the other fighter's attacks. Lost yet? It took me a while. If you run out of "Bravery" you enter "Break" which nullifies your HP attacks, until it recharges OR you do a moot attack which only serves to recharge your Bravery. When you do a HP attack, providing you have the Bravery, your attack will take that amount of HP from your opponent, so if your Bravery is 1208, then your HP attack will do 1208. Also, that little number between the bars? Well that is what is known as "Stage Bravery", all this means is that when you inflict break, you get that "Stage Bravery" added to your Bravery so that you can do some REAL damage.

It was somewhat confusing and they only seemed to tell about 75% of the story. The heroes all learn about friendship and team work while looking for crystals in order to save the world from utter chaos. This game, it must be said had me swearing with frustration at first, but once you get past it and enveloped in to the story (which seemed a bit weak in places it had to be said) you do start to enjoy it and it rewards you with Accomplishments and PP (to buy new elements for the game).

Duodecim seemed a little bit of a moot point really. The scenerio unique to this game was decidedly rather short, then was coupled with a truncated version of the original game's story mode. That seemed a little bit of a waste, but then I looked in to all the hidden extra stuff you have to play with and was blown away. Such as the Reports mode where you have a story and as you read it, you can highlight certain areas to see either a short FMV sequence or a fight with 1 or 2 characters.

It also seems that they have tidied up the more complex part of the game, in battle it seems a bit smoother and things like Bravery are more fairly distributed among the players. The Battle Colosseum of the original game (which I spent hours slacking off with) has been replaced by a more challenging Labyrinth mode where your character is stripped of equipment and accessories and tossed in to a 2D labyrinth and has to battle their way out. Other new features is the addition of a free-roaming environment for the characters to gain treasure, summonstones and other skills to give them the edge in the next Gateway. In addition to the 20+ character cast in the original game you are given some extras, Lightning Farron (FF XIII), Yuna (FF X), Laguna Liore (FF VIII), Tifa Lockheart (FF VII), Kain Highwind (FF IV), Gilgamesh (FF V), Vaan (FF XII) and Prish (FF XI).

In all, I feel that this is a good game, but I don't think it is as good as the original, but as it is a prequel, it does whet your appetite enough to want to go back and play the original again.

My score out of 10: 7