Going Underground – Metro 2033 Let’s Rock PC Game Review

I like a game with a good story, and this one is based on a successful novel of the same name by the innovative young Russian writer Dmitry Glukhovsky, so it already hits that mark sufficiently successfully. The story weaves a winding tale as main character Artyom wends his way through the churning guts of Russia’s capital city Moscow after the nuclear bombs have fallen and the surviving people are forced to live underground. What they aren’t expecting is for mutants from the not-quite-completely-dead world above to try to invade their already delicate realm.

The visuals in this epic work by THQ and 4A Games are fantastic, capturing the feel of a frozen, post-nuclear apocalyptic Moscow perfectly. Top marks to the designers involved. There are certain points when you’re hunkered down in the darkness, trying not to be spotted by enemy soldiers, that you almost stop breathing as you think they might actually hear you. That sounds a little dumb, but the full-on experience of Metro 2033 really gives you that thrilling sense of being there.

The monsters are unlike those in other games too, as most of them have mutated from creatures that were already in existence on Earth before the bombs dropped, such as moles, insects and dogs. This gives the game a unique angle that it maximises brilliantly. It is the small touches like this that set this game apart from many other derivative sci-fi adventures.

The tension in the air is palpable as well. You also get to battle or evade human opponents, be they bandits, rival factions of Red Line and Fourth Reich, or the frightening demons and Dark Ones from above. The bleak underworld and post-apocalyptic overground regions of Moscow are intricately rendered, making this a fascinating game to explore, but it’s the driving storyline as you go from station to station on your developing mission that really gives the game its engaging pace. Metro 2033 is a great game that you will happily submerge yourself in for hours at a time.



Mad World – Batman: Arkham Asylum PC Game Review

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This game really puts the ‘detective’ in Detective Comics’ most famous exponent – Batman. You feel as if you are really going undercover in a film noir epic as you follow in the footsteps of Gotham City’s most famous son. The game is deep, with acres of map to explore to find hundreds of hidden clues and easter eggs. It’s very nice to look at too, the art design is immaculate, and evokes that haunted, gothic science fiction atmosphere that fans of Batman want from a game. Particular scenes of note are the Scarecrow sections when Batman is under the influence of hallucinogenic narcotics and has to guide himself away from the clutches of a hideously huge Scarecrow, complete with glowing lamp eyes. Pretty hair-raising stuff.

The fight dynamics in the game are reasonably good, but don’t advance much beyond punching, kicking, and a handful of different Batarangs and weapon choices. Where it does get interesting are the stealth power-ups that allow Batman to silently swoop down and snatch up the thugs and villains that he has to contend with. This gives the game an authenticly exciting feel, as you’re never entirely sure if the criminals will notice you or not, always keeping you on your toes. Sometimes the line of vision is not entirely clear and you feel unfairly busted, and then you have to play through the same section again when you’re mowed down by machine gun fire, but there’s enough skull-cracking, bone-crunching fun to be had that it doesn’t really matter that much.

The bosses are excellent, covering a swath of characters from Gotham. We meet Poison Ivy in all her botanical glory, along with the deliciously delinquent Harley Quinn, the harrowing Scarecrow as already mentioned, Krok, Viktor Zsasz, The Riddler (never in person, as far as I’ve found yet, but in the background, taunting us mercilessly), and of course, the king of quips, the jester of death, The Joker himself – as voiced by Mark Hamill of Star Wars Luke Skywalker and Batman – The Animated Series fame, no less! These give the game a real nostalgic Batman feel, echoing all of the greatest elements of the movies, TV show and comic books, but in a hefty punch-packing package.

Batman: Arkham Asylum does not disappoint on any level and will keep you coming back for more bat-tastic amusement.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Game Review

Let me tell you a few things about Skyrim that you might not know if you haven’t played it. It’s big. You may have heard this from others, but it bears repeating. You don’t really realise just how huge it is until you’ve played it for a while and then realise that you’ve only found 5% of the locations and completed a similar amount of achievements. It’s BIG!


It’s also beautiful;  an artwork of gaming. It’s just as enjoyable following a quest as it is walking through a shimmering forest glade sometimes (just watch out for wolves, bears and frost spiders, ok?!). The atmosphere created by the changing weather, lighting and other environment effects are staggering. When it snows you almost feel as if you should put a winter coat on, even though you’re indoors on a sweltering hot summer’s day.

If I was to be critical of this amazing feat of gaming, my one gripe would be that perhaps they could’ve done with a few more creepy monsters for variation, instead of so many butterflies, fish or roaming creatures, but that’s Skyrim for you: unashamedly pretty to look at.

That’s not to say that the fighting system isn’t gripping, as it definitely is, with neat level-up stages that deftly improve your self-styled character distinctively over the game. This gives you decent character development, as every great RPG should.

Now we come to the substance of the game: the quests. Oh my sweet Talos! There are more quests in Skyrim than you can possibly imagine. I mean, literally hundreds, maybe hitting the thousand mark (I’ll have to check!). I’ve notched up nearly 400 hours of play, and I still haven’t completed all of the side quests. This is another small (dragon) bone of contention about the game. When I bought it, I was a relative newbie, and naively hammered my way straight through the main quest first, completing it by the time my character had only reached level 20, which was enjoyable, but not as epic as it could’ve been if I’d realised that I could take more time building my character up and exploring more of the world to improve my skills. The other open world stories that you stumble across as you traverse the mighty map are deeply engaging and satisfying, making you feel part of an evolving history of the fantastic fantasy setting. Then you discover there’s a whole underground world of Blackreach too, in some of the most breathtaking visuals I’ve ever witnessed.


Ok, another very slightly annoying part of the game is that you can only carry a certain weight of items at a time, which can increase, but never seems enough for what you really want to keep with you (why make dragon bones so heavy?!). You can store items in your home or safe depositories, but it’s still a bit awkward working out which sword to bring with you for your next mission, then realising it was the wrong one halfway into the dungeon. But enough of my griping!

The sense of real personal engagement in parts of the game such as the Thieves Guild storyline, which involves an enormous swath of quests from quick burglary tasks right up to the thrilling Nightingale story thread, really enriches the game immensely. There’s also The Wizard’s Guild, Bard’s Guild, Companions plotlines, and a number of others. The Dark Brotherhood of assassins offers a particularly grim and gruesome storyline, featuring some brilliant characters and a devilishly dark plot.

Skyrim is a highly absorbing, enjoyably scripted, intricately decorated and sumptuously set smash hit. It’s a gorge-stretching gorgeous game featuring acres of game world to explore. You’ll feel as if you’re a real fantasy adventurer! Watch out for arrows in the knee!



For more information about the game, check out its wikia pages: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_Wiki

Grand Theft Auto Vice City PC Game Review

I played this game when it first came out on a friend’s Playstation, and to be honest, I sucked at it. I just couldn’t get the hang of the movements and various actions to be able to control the character without getting run over or crashing my car and turning into a human fireball within a matter of seconds. My gaming ability was not strong back then. So, I let it rest for a while. A long while. Until the game came out as a bundle package on Steam along with GTA I-IV, GTA San Andreas and GTA Episodes from Liberty City, in fact. I decided to play through the games starting with Vice City, since this was where I left off, and I’m glad that I did. I’ll tell you why.

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Vice City is a game crammed with wry humour, kitsch pop references, amazing music and slick visuals in abundance. Oh, and violence. Lots and lots of violence piled on top of more violence. It’s sick, it’s harsh, it’s gratuitous, but somehow, it’s intensely satisfying. You play a cold-blooded killer hunting down the gangsters who set you up and stole your boss’s drug money, and the dynamics of the game ensure that you revel in the experience.  Vice City is a hilarious mash up of all things 80s, capturing the feel and mood of the time immaculately. Sleek speedboats? Check! Scantily clad beach babes? Check! Cool as helicopters! Checkarino! Flash, snazzy cars! (I’m using 80s lingo here deliberately by the way!) Check’sinthepost! Dodgy drug deals and scorchingly neat weapons? Oh hell yeah! They’re all here. You get such a kick driving along the seafront while The Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ blares from your radio and cops are chasing your tail. It’s a total blast!

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The storyline manages to hang together nicely, incorporating parodies of tv shows and movies from the same era that it’s set, making this a multi-layered experience. It’s nostalgic, but in an unflinching, ironic way, and puts you right on the set of a John Hughes movie or in the middle of Hill Street Blues, or of course, Miami Vice (as a villain, of course, as that’s much more fun!). Get hold of a copy to intoxicate yourself with this heady mix. It’s still refreshingly stylish, dark and gruesome today as it was when it first came out.