I like games... and tattoos. Yes, those.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just Dance 4 Fitness Challenge - Week 5

So this is the final week of the Just Dance 4 Fitness Challenge I've been running over the month of November. Unfortunately I didn't get around to posting this weeks video yesterday, but I thought I'd save the best for last - I'm a bit old school in the fact that one of my favourite songs on the Just Dance tracklist is Barry White's My First, My Last, My Everything... :)


Thanks to everyone who participated, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! You still have time to get your entries in via Facebook, Twitter or email - The comp for the Just Dance 4 hamper closes on Friday, I'll announce the winner next week Monday :)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Borderlands 2 - Review

This review has taken me a while, I won't deny it. If you listen to UJFM at all you might have heard me review it as a part of my Friday morning segment for The Arcade, however a combination of factors has meant that I never quite had a chance to write a full review for my blog. I was somewhat harshly prodded by one of my Twitter followers however (not to worry @violentdreamer you are completely correct!), and so thought I better get my ass into gear and post up the review.

So here it is, in all it's glory. Buuuuuut, first let's start with a trailer.



Borderlands 2 is the sequel to the somewhat surprise 2009 hit Borderlands. And I'll be honest, whilst I liked Borderlands 1, I wasn't so in love with it that I felt this absolute need to pre-order Borderlands 2.

Maybe I got caught up in the hype... maybe I saw so many trailers that it started to grow on me... I don't know, but by the time it was released (even along with the shipping disaster that delayed it here in South Africa) it was a game I was looking forward to immensely.

So what is the premise behind Borderlands 2? Well, five years have passed since the events in Borderlands, when four Vault hunters guided by the "Guardian Angel" confronted and defeated the Destroyer. A valuable mineral called Eridium now flourishes in Pandora and Handsome Jack, a member of the Hyperion Corporation, ruthlessly controls the planet's Eridium resources. Rumours of a large Vault are drawing more Vault Hunters to Pandora.

Sounds vaguely cheesy sure, but the best part about Borderlands has always been that it isn't afraid to embrace humour, an integral part of this game exemplified by Claptrap, the robot.

Borderlands 2 (and indeed the first game can be categorised in the same manner) is what Gearbox Software call a role-playing shooter. In essence it's neither as complex as a more traditional RPG game nor as violent and intense as most FPS games, but it does combine the two genres in an enjoyable if slightly more simplistic way. As in many RPG's you develop your skills via skill trees, earning and spending experience points and becoming proficient in certain weapons. You can level up and head down the path towards your chosen specialisation.

Introduced this time around is a somewhat more comprehensive weapons customisation ability as well as more focus on vehicles, and a more intelligent AI, both friendly and enemy.

Visually this game relies on the same cartoon look of the original, which somehow always brings back fond memories of XIII. The world is vibrant, immersive and enjoyable as a space in which to interact with both co-op partners as well as AI, and sucks you in both visually and narratively.

If you thought the loot was cool in the first game, well it just got a whole lot better! Borderlands 2 relies on the fact that you must loot EVERYTHING! And that is totally capitalised on purpose. There are so many new weapons on offer that even the most discerning weapons fanatic is spoiled for choice. The best part is that you really need to adapt your strategy and gameplay style depending on which weapon you're using. Each new weapon is a game changer, keeping combat fresh throughout the campaign.

Exploration is absolutely key to gameplay in Borderlands 2, and with such varied beasts and bad guys on Pandora, this is something you could do for hours without even completing a mission. There are however enough missions to keep you occupied for a good 30 - 40 hours depending on whether or not you're obsessive like me and insist on finishing side quests. To a large degree you'll also find more innovation and creativity evident in the side missions than you will in the body of the game's campaign.

Narrative wise this story is so much better than the first game, which to be honest I barely remember. Oh sure I could tell you the basic premise, but it would be filled with many um's as I tried to piece together the story in between memories of looting. In Borderlands 2 this is helped by the wonderful voice acting coupled with the decision to bring back the Vault hunters from the first game.

Whilst I haven't played as much co-op as I would have liked to (time constraints being the primary reason), the little I have played has been plagued by a few annoying bugs but otherwise has been overall an enjoyable experience. The major gripe has been the difference in player levels and the unbalanced gameplay here. The host dictates the level of enemies, which makes the game ridiculously hard for low level players and a walk in the park for higher level players. That said, if you're playing with friends who are much the same level as you, the co-op is immensely gratifying.

So in a nutshell what are the negatives of this game? Well as mentioned there are some nagging issues with co-op, and if you revisit previous areas at a later stage (and higher level) enemies don't respawn at an appropriate level. If you're just looking to take your frustration out on some bad guys then maybe this isn't a problem, but somehow it doesn't feel like much of a challenge.

In essence, Borderlands 2 is much like Borderlands 1. But better. MUCH better in fact. If you're into quirky FPS games that encourage downright fun and don't mind exploring the RPG side of things, then I cannot recommend this game enough.

Quirky, humorous, fun, beautiful - all of these are words that describe Borderlands 2, and the occasional complaint doesn't really detract from what is a must buy title for 2012.

To end off here's a look at the latest DLC offering from the Borderlands 2 team - Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Dance Fitness Challenge - Week 4

So it might not seem like I've been doing much, as I haven't been posting as regularly as I would like. Sadly time constraints are always a bit of a bugger when it come to things like these, but I have actually been doing the challenge even if I haven't been blogging about it.

So this week is the 4th week of the Just Dance 4 Fitness Challenge that I'm running in conjunction with UJFM and the lovely folks over at Megarom/Ubisoft. “

The song for this week is one of the most cheesy and also one of the most fun dances to do, especially if you're dancing with friends, so I thought I'd post the actual Just Dance video that someone so kindly posted on Youtube.

So here it is, Panjabi MC - Beware of the Boyz



A reminder that to win the Just Dance 4 hamper you'll need to enter a video of yourself dancing to one of the songs I've listed so far (the last couple of weeks were Call Me Maybe and Wild Wild West) and email it to me on unexpectedpippa@gmail.com

OR

Upload it to my Facebook fan page

OR

Tweet it to me @unexpectedpippa and hashtag #JD4Fitness

The competition will run until the 30th November at which stage I'll pick a winner with the help of UJFM

Monday, November 12, 2012

Assassins Creed 3 - Review



I'm going to start off by saying that I really was not a big fan of Assassins Creed II, nor Brotherhood or Revelations.

You can hate me for that, I don't mind, but be that as it may, it meant that I was conflicted when I saw the first trailer for Assassins Creed III. Just in case you don't remember it... well, here you go.



I was conflicted because on one hand this trailer made me feel the way I felt when I saw the trailer for the first Assassins Creed, but on the other hand, my dislike of the other games jaded me. As each new trailer was released however, the more I wanted to play this game... and finally on release it was one of the games I had been looking forward to most all year.

Does it live up to the hype however? Were my expectations justified, or was this just another running, jumping, somewhat formulaic Assassins Creed game?

Well let's take a look shall we? And start at the beginning... What is Assassins Creed III actually about, and how does it tie in to the story of Altair, Ezio and Desmond Miles?

The game is set in Colonial America and as always the Assassin/Templar war is a bitter one that is now amplified by the setting of the American Revolution and the slave trade.

You play as two main characters in this game (besides Desmond), albeit one only briefly. You start the game as Haytham Kenway as he sails to America in order to track down and attempt to access a temple with a medallion he possesses. You later switch to playing as Connor, Haytham's half Mohawk son (I won't go into the details of that, you can let the story play out for yourself), and the story then spans 30 years of Connor's life, from the time that he leaves his village to begin his training as an Assassin, to his battle with the Templars.

As always, Desmond Miles plays a part in this story, on his quest to save the world from some or other threat. Without spoiling the story I can only say that there are some wonderful twists, and equally wonderful moments in this game that really push the enjoyment of the series to new heights.

Gameplay wise there a couple of new additions, including muskets, rifles, mobile hiding places and disguises, all of which greatly enhance the gameplay and provide and added sense of depth to the game. Overall though, for anyone who has played any of the previous AC games, its essence remains largely unchanged and the learning curve is definitely not a steep one. A couple of minor tweaks to the freerun system as well have also made for an incredibly enjoyable experience.

Another addition (and this is the kind of feature of which I am particularly fond in games such as these) is the improved fast travel map. This of course makes it infinitely easier to travel between locations, a feature that is essential to people like me who are lazy and don't want to travel through miles of countryside a million times over.

Two other features that I feel the need to mention, mainly because I feel they are significantly improved and deserve notice, are looting and blending. Both have been tweaked and are now infinitely more intuitive overall.

As per usual there are a multitude of side quests, but somehow I enjoyed them more thoroughly in ACIII than in any previous AC game. The game is not quite as open world as some would have you believe, which means that some of the side quests can become a bit formulaic, however there is enough variety to keep you entertained for a fair amount of time outside of the official campaign.

Now lets get on to the part you all love the most. Combat. This is both a strength and a weakness of AC3. The introduction of firearms, whilst awesome even with the long reload times, is also a bit, uh, weird. For example, you can make a "stealth" kill with a firearm, with other enemies standing literally a couple of metres from the person you have assassinated. Uh, sorry did you not hear the gunshot right next to you? Whilst it might be convenient to exploit this poor piece of gameplay it does also break the spell and detracts somewhat from the stealth aspect of an otherwise beautifully made game.

Your main character is also largely unstoppable, which means for many gamers combat will be a little too easy, requiring you to merely watch for the pattern of attack and then block and counter appropriately.

It's not to say that you will never die whilst playing, however the likelihood of this happening gets smaller the further you progress into the game.

Despite my criticisms, the American Revolution as depicted in the world of Assassins Creed III is rich and beautifully imagined. A definite improvement on the previous games, and one that, if you're like me and have become somewhat disillusioned with the series, will grab you by your shirt and shake some sense back into you.

And just to reiterate why you should be playing this game... Here's another trailer :)


Assassins Creed III might not be perfect, but it's definitely a game that you should be playing, even if you have let your enjoyment of the series lapse in recent years.


Just Dance Fitness Challenge - Week 3

This is the third week of the Just Dance Fitness Challenge that I'm running in conjunction with UJFM, and this week's song is We No Speak No Americano.


A reminder that to win the Just Dance 4 hamper you'll need to enter a video of yourself dancing to one of the songs I've listed so far (the last couple of weeks were Call Me Maybe and Wild Wild West) and email it to me on unexpectedpippa@gmail.com

OR

Upload it to my Facebook fan page

OR

Tweet it to me @unexpectedpippa and hashtag #JD4Fitness

The competition will run until the 30th November at which stage I'll pick a winner with the help of UJFM

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just Dance 4 Fitness Challenge - Week 2

So this is the start of the second week of the Just Dance 4 Fitness Challenge I will be running until the 30th November. What started out quite well for me went a bit belly up mid way through the week when I was horribly sick and in bed for four days, so standing was out of the question, let alone dancing, and certainly not the best way to spend a weekend!

I am now armed with antibiotics however, and so week 2 kicks off with this video - Will Smith's Wild Wild West.



A reminder that to win, you'll need to enter a video of yourself dancing to that song (recorded on your phone is fine) and email it to me on unexpectedpippa@gmail.com

OR

Upload it to my Facebook fan page

OR

Tweet it to me @unexpectedpippa with the hashtag #JD4Fitness

The competition will run until the 30th November, at which stage I'll pick a winner with the help of UJFM