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Review: Spec Ops: The Line

 

Developed by Yager Development, Spec Ops: The Line takes us on a mission to find survivors in Dubai, after it was hit by a devastating sandstorm. The continuing sandstorm makes travelling away from the city impossible, and much of the city has been destroyed by the storms. The Line follows the story of a group of marines -  Walker, Adams and Lugo - as they attempt to assess the situation and find out if anyone is left alive to be rescued.

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Review: Star Trek: The Video Game

 

 

Apparently delayed to coincide with Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek: The Video Game (it's just called "Star Trek", but that could get confusing) brings us a story set shortly before the second film set in the alternate universe created by JJ Abrams. The new Enterprise and the main cast are there - each with the film actors providing the voices, along with new locations to see.

On a patrol to New Vulcan, Captain Kirk discovers that an experimental device built to speed up the process of city-building (which would otherwise take generations) has caused a rip in space. A deadly enemy have travelled through this rip in order to conquer new planets - the Gorn. Now, these Gorn aren't your traditional men in rubber suits, they take the form of many different varieties to play different roles (their vast difference to the ones in The Original Series and Enterprise is actually explained, too). Kirk and Spock work together to stop them and save the galaxy.

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Review: Defiance Episode 1

 

A TV show which gets an MMO before release is certainly interesting, especially as events in the MMO will supposedly influence events in season 2 of Defiance. SyFy also seem pretty confident that Defiance will succeed, and it's very nice to see them get excited about a science fiction show for a change. 

First, a quick word about the game. Before the show was released, I had no interest in the game. It looked rather poor and the MMO aspect really put me off - MMOs can suffer lag from the usual controls, let alone being a third person MMO. Still, it's nice to see another MMO with no subscription fee and, based on feedback I've heard, the controls and gameplay are actually really good, although the story in the MMO is rather bland and the characters uninteresting.

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Review: Paper Mario: Sticker Star

 

After a departure from the series in the form of Super Paper Mario, the cutout Mario series returns to it’s turn-based roots with a new RPG adventure on the 3DS. Sticker Star starts of at Sticker Fest, a festival celebrating the arrival of the Sticker Comet. As with every major event in the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser has to spoil the day. Taking the power of the Sticker Comet for himself, Bowser wreaks havoc on the kingdom and scatters the Royal Stickers across the lands. As you have no doubt guessed, he also kidnaps Peach.

Paper Mario games are well known for their humorous dialogue, and Sticker Star is no exception. While the cast is a bit lacking in characters and has an overabundance of Toads, the writers have managed to give them many unique personalities, and all conversations with Mario’s enemies are at the very least amusing and hilarious at their best. Mario is joined by Kersti, a living sticker who wants the Sticker Comet restored, her friends saved and to go home. He also does all the talking for Mario.  The graphics are crisp and clean, as always, and the 3D screen adds a bit of extra “oomph” to the flat characters moving in the 3D world.

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Hands-On: PlayStation Vita

During this weekend, and up until Tuesday (17th Jan), Sony have rented a shop front in Manchester and are showing of their brand new handheld - the PlayStation Vita - for all to play. I popped in and managed to get a decent play on most of the games in there, as well as getting used to the Vita console itself. 

Console

The Vita itself looks fantastic - all the press photos you may have seen simply don’t do it justice. The shiny black plastic is extremely solid, the face buttons and d-pad are extremely high quality and the screen is simply beautiful. Frankly, the build quality of the PS Vita makes the 3DS feel like a toy. Sony have gone all-out to make the Vita look like a premium product. One aspect I particularly liked was the shoulder buttons - looking from the front they’re clear, but the top side of them is black, they look strange and wonderful at the same time.

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Review: Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Christmas is upon us and Nintendo have granted us with a second Mario game for the 3DS, this time from a series which has graced every successful Nintendo platform since the SNES, and every single one has been well received. Does the seventh addition to the series continue this tradition, or is this a rush job made to maximise the 3DS’ sales performance this Christmas?

The biggest additions in this version of Mario Kart are the glider and underwater sections. Large jumps will cause a glider to pop out of your kart, giving you a surprising amount of control as you decide to swoop back to the course or prolong your fight as long as possible, even trying to sneakily cut out a corner or two. Weapons also work while in mid-air, and managing to get perfect aim with a green shell to hit another gliding racer is a wonderful feeling.

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Review: Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call (DS)

Professor Layton has been somewhat of a surprise success. Originally released when everyone was crazy for Brain Training games, Layton grabbed the world with his British-Japanese charm and still remains hugely popular - he even had a (straight to Blu-Ray) film, created by the same people who makes the wonderful animation for the games. The Spectre’s Call is the Professor’s latest (well, earliest) adventure, bringing about it’s own set of bizarre plot twists and lovely characters.

The Spectre’s Call is the start of a new trilogy of Layton games, and takes place before any of the previous three. If you’ve yet to experience Layton yourself, the fresh start makes for the perfect point to jump into the series. After getting a letter from his good friend Clark Triton, Layton and his assistant, Emmy, head off to investigate mysterious happenings in Misthallery. A giant spectre, supposedly controlled by a flute, has been attacking the city. Thankfully, with help from the predictions of Luke Triton, nobody had yet been hurt. It’s up to Layton, Emmy and Luke to hunt down all of the town’s secrets to find out who, or what, is behind all this.

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Review: 1950s Lawn Mower Kids (DSiWare)

Back in the 1950s kids had to earn their fun. They had to think up of a medial task - say, washing cars - and work for suspicious men with nondescript names in order to earn money for picnics and visiting theme parks. Developers Zorbix have taken one of these tedious tasks and attempted to make it accessible and fun, similar to their previous game Valet Parking 1989.

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Review: Star Fox 64 3D

Hot on the tail of Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo bring us another Nintendo 64 classic, this time in conjunction with Q Games (responsible for Star Fox Command). Star Fox 64 3D brings us an updated version of the on-rails shooter originally released over here as Lylat Wars. 

If you’ve never had a chance to play the original Star Fox 64, it is an on-rails space shooter. The Lylat System has been taken over by a giant disembodied head (called Andross) and it’s up to Fox McCloud and his team to save the galaxy. While there are 16 levels, you only play seven in each playthrough - completing levels in different ways will send you along different paths. It doesn’t take long to complete a playthough - between 30 minutes and an hour - but it’s a game that’s built to be played many, many times thanks to high scores and medals. 

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Quick Review / Starter's Guide: HP Touchpad

Well, the HP Touchpad has been discontinues by HP and as a result the prices went massively downhill - as low as £89. I managed to pick one up after previously stating that I have no use for a tablet, even though I was impressed by iPad 2. I know plenty of other people have got one, so I’ll include tips on apps and making it better (or rather, include handy links to places the tips are from)

The Good

The Browser. There is one pretty important things that sets this apart from the iPad: Flash. In particular, flash videos. Sites like the BBC iPlayer, Gametrailers, TGWTG, etc all work within the browser extremely smoothly (depending on connection speed, obviously) without the need for an App to replace flash. Opening multiple windows is very easy and you can have different groups of windows. I’ll say more about this later.

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