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John Mitchell (Lossiemouth, Scotland, UK)
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Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360)(2CD)
Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360)(2CD)
Offered by Excess Gaming
Price: £11.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A degree of patience is required, 28 Aug. 2014
Assassin's Creed 3 is not the third game in the series somewhat confusingly, but does feature the third protagonist in Connor. The game is set in the time of the American Revolution, which on the surface sounds interesting and at times the story is captivating. It does pick up as the story progresses, but does start off slow and to such an extent that it's so dull that it's possible to just lose interest entirely. This could also be linked to the plethora of Assassin's Creed titles over the years which have been churned out with regularity. Another area which does hinder the game and its story early on are the expansive environments and attempting to incorporate elements from other games such as hunting but not really executing them as well.

Connor as a main character has attracted criticism with a personality which is docile and is a cliché character generally in mannerisms. The dialogue from Connor in particular is sometimes delivered more as if it would be found in a Resident Evil game in the feigned delivery. Overall though the story is largely done very well minus some technical glitches which sometimes appear within cutscenes.

The combat has received an overhaul as has the user interface and both are for the worse as combat is awkward and clumsy to execute at times but the free running doesn't feel right either when on roofs or climbing buildings. The gameplay and its change from previous titles is probably the biggest change that has been detrimental to the game.

There are positives though such as the environments with changing weather patterns which look fantastic, but some of the micromanagement found in previous titles such as purchasing tailors and bookshops has now been removed entirely which is disappointing as the feeling of regenerating a city from Templar control is lost. This has been revamped in the form of forts but it's not as lasting in its impact. Later on, Connor, can control assassin's and send them on assignments as in previous titles. Unlike previous titles though your fellow assassins can't be killed which takes much of the risk out of miscalculations.

One of the main positives and a new addition are the naval missions. These missions are fun and are well delivered. Unlike the main game, the combat works much better and doesn't feel as if it's down to an element of chance and as a result appears more responsive. Multiplayer also returns and does throw up some different dynamics from conventional multiplayer games with a factor of risk and reward. Only deathmatch is really still accessible as the number of players has dwindled. The multiplayer is functional and even occasionally good but probably hasn't got much longevity.

---Summary---
Graphics 8 Some glorious vistas and environments but textures and pop in knock the score down.
Sound 7 Mostly good but for certain characters such as Connor it could have been better.
Gameplay 5 Really wonky in places (particularly in combat) but not unplayable.
Lifespan 7 Assassin's Creed 3 will probably take around 25-30 hours if side missions are also explored. The multiplayer is limited due to the title now aging but it can still be accessed at time of writing.

Assassin's Creed 3 is perhaps too radical an overhaul, although parts of the game do remain largely untouched. It's a game that seesaws between lacking and adequate. There are many shortcomings for tinkering with a formula that already worked. If you're looking for the best of Assassin's Creed, this isn't it. 7/10.


Dead Space 3 (Xbox 360)
Dead Space 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £9.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in isolation, 15 Aug. 2014
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Dead Space 3 is the third game in the series that debuted in 2008. The third outing has received criticism for heading into an action oriented theme, as much of the genre. This criticism is justified, but Dead Space 3 manages to retain some scares and a change of environments sets it out from its predecessors.

One of the first things to notice is the dropping of multiplayer functionality that was found in Dead Space 2. An interesting decision although in truth, multiplayer in Dead Space always felt tacked on. However, all is not lost as a co-op mode has been introduced. This in itself is a negative though from a survival horror standpoint because it decreases tension and difficulty. For that reason Dead Space 3 is best played alone by the player.

As already mentioned Dead Space 3 does feature a change in environments and you will find Issac Clarke battles the elements themselves in his latest outing. As far as enemies go, there are some new types but it's mostly necromorphs as you've seen before. The story is average and does feature characters such as Ellie who has carried over from the second game which is effectively where the game starts with an Issac Clarke that seems distant and despondent. What definitely doesn't work in Dead Space 3 is combat against soldiers which resembles Call of Duty far more than a traditional survival horror game. Puzzles are largely exempt but do feature and aren't particularly challenging.

Another change that detracts from the game is the loss of credits and a store as such. Virtually everything other than rig components are crafted at benches. This gives the player more freedom in order to customise their own load out but is also rather tawdry and just adds another layer of complexity which is forced on the player. Now the player must rely on scavenging for parts themselves as opposed to buying and selling items which worked perfectly well in the first two games. EA's problem with this title in particular as in other titles are paywalls on a number of in-game items and this design decision in Dead Space 3 helps EA rather than the player.

A new inclusion to Dead Space 3 are side missions. These side missions for some reason don't have save points though, so if you decide to stop playing the game whilst in a side mission you'll lose all your progress on that side mission which is needlessly annoying. The side missions are watered down from the main missions and usually aren't very interesting and may involve collecting components for example but with a limited narrative to drive you along.

---Summary---
Graphics 9 Dead Space 3 is a great looking game with detailed environments and one of the nicest looking user interfaces in gaming.
Sound 9 Does the job well with good voice acting and solid sound generally.
Gameplay 9 Not much has changed on this front but it works well.
Lifespan 6 Main campaign is 10-15 hours with no online play as such.

Dead Space 3 could be the final outing with reported disappointing sales initially. That would be unfortunate but the Dead Space franchise may do well with some time away to perhaps reinvigorate the franchise. It's not on the same level as the original which still stands as the best of the three. However, for under £10, Dead Space 3 is worth playing and is enjoyable if ultimately slightly unsatisfying in the story. 8/10.


Savages
Savages
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form in some areas, 15 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Savages (Audio CD)
Theory of a Deadman's new album Savages is good and is an improvement in certain aspects on their last album The Truth Is. It's still not really a patch on TOAD's earliest two albums which are probably still the best overall. Theory in their last three albums have deviated away from rock and brought in ballads and other sorts of things which I don't believe shows them at their best.

This album has some good songs, there's only really one song on the album that seems entirely out of place and that's "The One" which just doesn't fit in. The rest of the songs on the album though are pretty good and in particular, Drown, Blow, Angel, Panic Room and World War Me are some of my own favourites.

Overall, I would recommend the album and especially if you're a Theory of a Deadman listener. Some good songs on the album but as I said previously in this review it still hasn't passed the bar that was set with their first two albums. 8/10.


Resident Evil Revelations (Xbox 360)
Resident Evil Revelations (Xbox 360)
Offered by scaddingk
Price: £10.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A backwards step, 15 Aug. 2014
Resident Evil in recent times has been criticised for its new found emphasis towards action at the expense of horror. Resident Evil Revelations attempts to bring back the horror and is essentially a port of the 3DS title that was released in 2012. A port but polished with updated shinier graphics primarily. One of the main flaws of the title on the Xbox 360 is that it always seems that it was designed for another platform. This is most clear in terms of loading screens which frequently pop up throughout the game. In this respect it feels more like a last gen title.

The plot of the game involves three main organisations, two anti bio-terror organisations the BSAA (as seen in Resident Evil 5) and the FBC. Added into this is the shady terror organisation, Veltro. The storyline involves the player as playing a number of characters including favourites such as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, but others feature such as Parker and Jessica plus others. This is also one of the problems with the game in that it switches between the stories of the various characters and either goes back or forward in time in doing so. The episodic format doesn't really work either. It proves irritating at the beginning of each chapter to be provided with a "previously" section such as on a television show when the episodes themselves are generally not that long. Despite these annoyances though the story is generally good in places and the cut scenes are well done with the traditional hammy lines.

The campaign is short and in terms of the horror only really ratchets it up towards the end of the campaign. The enemies are bland and that's another main criticism as enemies for the most part seem generic. There are a few boss battles that mix things up a little which helps but they generally aren't very inventive either.

Other than the campaign, there is a Raid Mode. This mode works as in previous titles where gaining a high score is the goal. However, unlike previous titles leveling up and a progression system feature. It could be fun with friends and is something to challenge yourself with after the main game has been completed.

---Summary---
Graphics 6 It doesn't look much better than a 3DS game and most of the enemies are really dull.
Sound 8 Everything fits into place and voice actors are there as usual. Kind of a mixed orchestral score that isn't really too involving.
Gameplay 7 Mostly solid, although the inability to sprint alongside the randomness of the dodge mechanic are let downs.
Lifespan 6 Short campaign which can be completed in under 10 hours. There is Infernal Mode (which is really difficult) for those who would like a challenge or frustration. Raid Mode is a diversion but loses it appeal eventually.

Resident Evil Revelations is plainly average. It's a disappointment and feels more like a half-title than a fully fledged Resident Evil. It certainly doesn't live up to some of the praise that has been given to it. After being treated to a more movie style experience in the last two games, which wasn't without flaws, this feels left out in the cold by comparison. It doesn't really up the tempo with the horror either and just feels like a homage to Resident Evil in yesteryear which whilst good in some respects will leave some players wanting with its lack of ambition. 6/10.


Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Classics (Xbox 360)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Classics (Xbox 360)
Offered by rockaway-records
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hi-tech strategy continues in the military shooter, 31 Dec. 2013
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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier is the delayed and effectively third game on the Xbox 360 console. The game is different to Advanced Warfighter and features a different protagonist in Kozak. Was it worth the wait? Or with an oversaturared market of shooters, is it missing in action?

Future Soldier is an accomplished game in what it does. It's a shooter, but from a third person perspective where planning ahead is pivotal to success. The cover system can be compared to Gears of War. However, it is also fair to say that no game has perfected the cover system as well as GOW and Future Soldier is no exception. While the cover system works it also doesn't at times and leaves you open to enemy fire. The combat and guns work well, but there is less emphasis of your own character than in previous Ghost Recon titles. That's because you're not the Squad Leader, but are instead part of that squad. This is largely irrelevant though as you can still make orders and scout the field with drones and use other tools that you will be provided with throughout the course of the story. The story is one of the highlights (if admittedly unimaginative). Still, the way it all ties together and the mission briefings are a particularly nice touch. This helps embolden the notion that you are a part of a top secret team. In other words, it is immersive. The briefings in addition to cutscenes help to move the story along nicely. One of the big features is the ability to customise weapons and apparently there are millions of possible combinations. This is not as far reaching as it sounds and for many players will not be explored in depth. It's a diversion more than anything else.

The main campaign starts off slowly, but does ratchet up the intensity with increasingly difficult assignments towards the end of the game. Other options include an online mode. This has not been tested extensively for the purposes of this review as the servers by this point are far more sparse with the game being released over a year ago. There are a mixture of game types where teamwork is key. Much like Modern Warfare, you can't take too much damage. As a result, running around recklessly will get you killed. Guerilla mode is the other inclusion which is best described as similar to Gears of War and the "Horde Mode" with 50 waves of increasingly tougher enemies. At time of review, the servers are not inundated with players making it harder to get the most out of it. The multiplayer probably works best in the campaign, in the form of co-op, as the main game really is the best element of the package.

---Summary---
Graphics 9 Some great environments with characters and weapons all on point. One of the better looking games on the Xbox 360.
Sound 7 Soundtrack is above average, if forgettable with dance/trance tying into the "futuristic" theme. Voice acting fares a little better.
Gameplay 8 Solid and does the job. A lot is carried over from Splinter Cell Conviction, but with far better implementation.
Lifespan 6 10+ hour campaign. Online is limited at this stage and generally feels "tacked on" anyway. The campaign is re-playable and some players may go through more than once at a tougher difficulty.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier is a good military shooter. It isn't as radical in a departure from the past as some fans may have liked to see. It is recommended though and especially so if you like having more of a strategic challenge as opposed to purely combative one. 8/10.


Scotland's Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards
Scotland's Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards
by Iain McLean
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview that remains balanced, 15 Nov. 2013
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The upcoming Scottish independence referendum next year will have profound implications for Scotland and the UK as a whole. Up to now the debate from both sides has been negative and a strategy very much of attack the opposing side. This book attempts to break through that barrier and offer a comprehensive analysis of what awaits Scotland if it votes for independence or if the people of Scotland decide to remain as part of the UK. In truth, there is little in the way of certainty of what a vote for independence would mean as it would rely heavily on negotiations with the UK government on crucial issues such as currency.

A number of issues are touched upon in the book and particularly interesting are the chapters on oil and on welfare within the UK and the alternative, from a nationalist standpoint. I would use the book as a guide certainly and it does remain balanced throughout which is refreshing and adds to the value of the book. I would read further around the subject if you want to gain a better overview, because this doesn't tend to go into too much detail. Which is understandable and is one of the overriding purposes which is for the book to be readable.

Perhaps, Scotland's Choices is best viewed as part of a wider collection. I would recommend the book, but to get a more detailed understanding I would recommend additional reading.


Silent Hill Downpour (Xbox 360)
Silent Hill Downpour (Xbox 360)
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £19.03

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The quiet town of Silent Hill once again awaits, 26 Oct. 2013
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Silent Hill Downpour, marks the eighth title of the fabled survival horror series. So far, in the current generation it seems as though horror has been sacrificed in favour of action. Which has been seen in other popular survival horror games. Silent Hill, even in the last generation was more disturbing or featured more precarious moments. Is Silent Hill Downpour a return to its roots? Or just another pale comparison to tales of old?

The game sets you as the game's protagonist, Murphy Pendleton, who finds himself as a prisoner. Throughout the game you will find out why and this ties back to a central theme of Silent Hill itself. That is, that there is a reason certain people are drawn to the sleepy town, where all is not quite right. The story is one of the highlights and the Czech developer, Vatra, (sadly no longer operating), along with Konami did a sterling job in this respect. Silent Hill titles, or at least the games I have played have always had good stories. The voice acting is also improved and in the Silent Hill vein, at certain stages you will be given a choice although it is not on a Mass Effect level.

Moving on to the combat, I feel this is one of the letdowns of the game. The combat of old in Silent Hill 2 and 3 worked, because the enemies were sometimes simple to dispose of by "button mashing." Now, because the enemies are more sophisticated, this is no longer possible. Furthermore, enemies in groups are especially dangerous and it's not helped by a awkward camera. The weapons that you come across are rather disappointingly geared towards what you can find, which could be a crowbar, pipe, axe or even a piece of wood. This leads to the player having to rely on close quarter combat and not being given the option to a great extent of using ranged weapons. Although, the targeting system does have a tendency to not shoot what you are actually aiming at which is equally costly as it is frustrating.

Puzzles are featured extensively and some are fairly challenging. This is good to see, in an era where the player is eased through games at every available opportunity. Requiring the player to additionally think is standard survival horror stuff, but also ensures that the game does not deviate from the genre's roots. There are plenty frightening and unsettling occasions within the game, despite the fact that blood looks more like an artist having too much paint at some stages. Overall, though it does the job. Side missions are also in the game, but easy to miss, as I did myself. Then again, Silent Hill isn't exactly a place that you want to stick around in, getting out of it as fast as possible seems a safer route. That is Silent Hill's draw though, in that it does keep you on edge, which isn't the case for every game that you will play.

---Summary---
Graphics 7 Suitable, but not necessarily impressive.
Sound 10 Some great voice acting, with all sound effects to unnerve the player as standard. The sound gets extra marks, earning a top score, for a brilliant soundtrack.
Gameplay 6 Flawed and can be punishing through no fault of the player. The jerky camera doesn't help.
Lifespan 7 One play through is around 8-10 hours, but things are easy to miss which gives a reason to play again.

Silent Hill Downpour is a good effort and in terms of a "horror experience" probably delivers about the best you will find in the genre. On the other hand, the gameplay can't be ignored, with some bad mechanics, which hinders the player throughout the game. In terms of gameplay and to a lesser extent, chilling moments, it's not as good as the classics, but is still above the normal standard for the genre. Silent Hill Downpour is not without it's faults though and those shortcomings are, at times, relentlessly annoying. 7/10.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2015 10:31 PM GMT


Madden NFL 25 (Xbox 360)
Madden NFL 25 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £10.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short of the playoffs, fairly unremarkable season, 26 Oct. 2013
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Madden NFL 25 marks the 25th version of the sports game that has become a juggernaut. No doubt, Madden has adapted, changed and incorporated new features down the years, although admittedly recently this has seemed lacking. Seeing as the legendary Barry Sanders, one of the best running back's to ever play the game adorns the cover, is Madden 25, legendary? Or does it fall short of that level?

Madden, as is the case with most sports franchises, doesn't seem to have radically progressed in recent versions. There have been tweaks to gameplay and new and improved graphical touches, but nothing has really been radical in terms of the overall content of the game. Game modes have seen small differences at the expense of graphics and what some may see as "gimmicks" such as Kinect connectivity. In terms of Madden 25, the story is much the same. Owner Mode is back, but it's not as functional nor as deep as it was 8+ years ago on the last generation of consoles. The mode is hampered by an interface that is prone to stuttering and slowness. It seems to be that every year EA Tiburon updates the aesthetic side of the game, even if it was better before. Nevertheless, in Madden 25, there is the option to play as owner, player or coach. A raft of options are available, such as taking your connected franchise online to compete with friends, or indeed strangers. Ultimate Team is back and better than ever, although I haven't myself played the mode in-depth.

One of the other new features is the "skills trainer." This isn't a bad addition and does help to familiarise you with all the new moves, or more accurately refines old moves, such as the hurdle, juke and others. This consists of drills, where some also include the defensive side of the ball. Within the mode you are awarded medals depending on how well you do. The drills can be tricky as at times as you're entirely reliant on A.I which is lacking more than once.

The gameplay is seen as a letdown by Madden veterans in Madden 25. I remember in previous versions having a "top-notch" defense, but having trouble to score. Now, the roles are reversed and it's more difficult than ever to stop the opposing team, no matter what you do and further it's easier to score for the player. This means that you'll probably be engaged in more "shootouts" or (high scoring games), than you may be used to. That said, this does seem to be the way the real NFL is going with defensive penalties now being all the more common, giving the offense an extra advantage.

---Summary---
Graphics 9 Good as always. Madden remains one of the best looking games on the current generation systems.

Sound 7 Menu music is triumphant, but soundtracks from artists are missing, other than in the games and practice itself. The commentary by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz is solid and is good as it's ever been.

Gameplay 7 Not much in the way of radical changes. Although, the gameplay does seem to have been overhauled in terms of A.I logic which may spoil the game for some.

Lifespan 7 A fairly comprehensive package, including Connected Franchise, Ultimate Team and online play modes.

To state the obvious, perhaps EA Sports have taken their eye of the ball in terms of the current-gen systems. With Madden NFL 25 being released on both the next-gen systems too, it seems as though the current-gen titles have been neglected as a result. Owner Mode is back, but not as we once knew it and is still not deep enough for purists and some franchise mode fans. It's another safe outing from EA Tiburon and not a bad game by any means, but once again is lacking in imagination and some of the features are watered down to such an extent, that the highlights of old cannot be completely replicated. 7/10.


Silent Hill HD - Collection (Xbox 360)
Silent Hill HD - Collection (Xbox 360)
Offered by VGP_VideoGamesPlus
Price: £21.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Putting the horror in survival, 23 Aug. 2013
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Silent Hill, quite possibly the most truly terrifying survival horror series in the last 10 years. The Resident Evil titles did once hold that title, but have increasingly sacrificed horror in favour of action. This isn't a problem that only includes Resident Evil, it's endemic throughout the video games industry. Regardless, Silent Hill 2 was a title I could not get myself to play 10+ years ago, because I was too scared to play it. The HD collection includes both Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3. This isn't all the titles within the series and as a result isn't quite as comprehensive as some collections that have been released. However, arguably the two games that are included are the best games of the series.

Firstly, Silent Hill 2. The game has you stepping into the shoes of James Sunderland who ventures to Silent Hill in an attempt to find his missing wife, Maria. Suffice to say when James gets to Silent Hill, things are not exactly "rosy." The map in both games becomes incredibly important as a way of orientating yourself through the many labyrinth like corridors you will come across. Helpfully, the map will also pinpoint puzzles and where they are located. Puzzles will vary in difficulty depending on the "riddle level" set. These puzzles are challenging which is welcome as they used to be very much a staple of the genre, puzzles are still used within the Survival Horror genre, but are now not nearly as challenging.

Silent Hill in both games is an incredibly bleak and depressing place. It's fair to say that Konami got the backdrop perfect in both games, where the environment is genuinely unsettling. Akira Yamaoka, who produced the sound on both titles, delivers one of the best game soundtracks you will see, which ticks all the right boxes in a profoundly organic way. Going back to the atmosphere of the games, perhaps the key element of this is the fog, which when out exploring the streets of Silent Hill makes things unpredictable, much like many sections within both games where you never know where an enemy may be lurking. That's where the static from your radio picks up enemies, again frightening the player as whilst the static may be audible, enemies may not be within the immediate line of sight.

Silent Hill 3 has you playing as the character Heather. The game mechanics remain largely the same and the graphics are touched up a little. The story is more Hollywood inspired and as a result perhaps a little more irrational. That's not to say it's a bad story, the story in both games is effective and largely great. SH2 is perhaps the pinnacle of the series as far as story telling goes as it is fairly powerful, even if it is downright dispiriting in tone throughout. Rarely does a video game leave a lasting impression on the player, but Silent Hill 2 is one of those games. The weapons in both games whilst not vast, each, have their own differing characteristics. The survival horror staple, the shotgun, features in both titles. Weapons are a mixture of guns effective at differing levels of range and a variety of melee weapons where some are also more effective than others at close range. Completing both games will result in unlocks with new weapons to play with, if the player returns to the game after completing it. There are plenty reasons to do so, not least the multiple endings in both games.

---Summary---
Graphics 7 Touched up with HD but still dated. That said it fits both games perfectly and whilst some "jaggies" are occasionally present (along with occasional slowdown in SH3), mostly, it does the job well.

Sound 9 Superb soundtrack, the hammy voice acting (which is what some survival horror fans have come to find synonymous with the genre) prevents a top score.

Gameplay 8 Functional, with little wrinkles. Weapon and item selection is distinctly 2000 but it does help ramp up the tension in being clunky.

Lifespan 6 Both games can be finished in 8 hours but to do so you end up missing some collectibles and content, at least on the first play through. I took about 6-8 hours with each title on my first play through.

Silent Hill, unlike many other competitors does bring the horror within the games. Yes, games 10+ years ago where more willing to take risks and be on the edge a bit more, but as far as survival horror games go this is at the top of the pile. Within this collection you will find two games that whilst far from perfect in terms of implementation, both games do hit all the right notes in terms of setting. Current titles have sacrificed atmosphere in favour of instant gratification, where the more destruction the player creates, the better the game. Within the Survival Horror genre, that doesn't always work and at the very least leaves the player with a diluted experience. Both games are full on survival horror fests and if that's what you are looking for, you won't be disappointed. 9/10.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2015 11:34 PM GMT


Hitman Absolution (Xbox 360)
Hitman Absolution (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.78

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge, 2 April 2013
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Finally, after six years Agent 47 makes his triumphant return. Does this latest adventure achieve success or has it been marked for failure?

Hitman Absolution picks up not long after Blood Money's conclusion where Agent 47 is betrayed by his handler at the ultra secretive agency, the story begins with the assassin in a difficult position that will outline the entire context of the story that proceeds. The story is well written and even manages to inject a little humour into its somber backdrop to its credit. The voice acting is of good quality and thankfully Dave Bateson returns as 47 which was for a time uncertain, purists become attached and rightly so. The disdain with the decision of Ubisoft in axing the voice of Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher has drawn widespread criticism for changing a winning formula.

Anyway, perhaps the biggest difference that you will notice with Absolution are the graphics. Blood Money was not a bad looking game but this takes it to the next level. The Glacier 2 engine looks fantastic and the crowds come to life even more than they did in Blood Money which were already impressive.

Now, to some drawbacks. The hideout of old is gone and as a result you're stuck with whatever weapons 47 can find in a given level. On the other hand, the contracts mode allows you to stipulate all those formalities, provided that you have found the weapons in game. Alternatively, they can be bought with credits which can be obtained through playing the campaign and contracts, but more on contracts later.

Purists may find Hitman too forgiving when compared to previous versions. Once again the "holding hands" approach of Square Enix titles does appear. The argument is a little stretched in that all the hints can be turned off and the gluttons for punishment can always opt to play on expert if they do desire.

The layout of levels is also perhaps too guided for some. Although it is entirely the player's choice, the challenges within the game give hints of how certain things can be done within a level. This allows experimentation but also erodes the uncertainty and trial by error of previous versions.

There are few negatives though overall and one of the biggest positives of Absolution would be the contracts mode. Instead of bolting on some lifeless multiplayer expansion, IO Interactive have created something unique and this should be applauded. The premise of contracts mode is to go through a level in the campaign but you choose the targets and the conditions of which the contract must be completed. Not only does it add replay value to the game but it also allows the player to be creative, akin to say the Forge in the Halo Universe. It's not that deep but is a start and at least IO Interactive have chosen to do something different when they could have gone in a different direction.

---Summary---
Graphics 9 Some of the best graphics on the system the engine looks great and melds with the graphics really well with some occasional hiccups.
Sound 9 Top notch voice acting throughout with all the right sound effects to match. Conversations within the game world add further to a great orchestral score.
Gameplay 8 Simplified it is but the player can still set the difficulty, therefore any challenge can be accounted for.
Lifespan 8 Solid campaign clocking in at around 10-15 hours. The contracts mode adds replay value in addition to replaying the campaign.

Hitman Absolution was worth waiting for. It is perhaps the most accomplished Hitman title to date and whilst things are signposted more than they were previously, this can still all be changed by the player which is crucial. Hitman is as fun as ever, here's hoping this is built upon as opposed to turning the series into a yearly "churned out" update. 9/10.


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