Tuesday 31 January 2012

My first 10 hours of InFAMOUS!

I've played about 3 or 4 sittings of this game so far since I bought it last December in the US, amounting just over 10 hours of gameplay. If you have a PlayStation 3 then it is highly likely that you've heard of this 2009 smash hit by dev team Sucker-Punch. It even has a sequel which was released last year!

You play as Cole MacGrath, a bike messenger caught in the epicenter of an explosion that devastates several city blocks of the fictional Empire City. The explosion sends the city into chaos while Cole finds himself with new electricity-based super powers. Though the game's story follows Cole using his new abilities to restore some semblance of order to Empire City, the player is given several opportunities to use these powers for good or evil purposes in the game's Karma system. These choices ultimately affect character growth, the reaction of the City's populace towards Cole, and finer elements of gameplay and the story.

The game is an open-world action and adventure with a lot of comic book style cut-scenes. One of the highlights of the game other than being able to awesomely fry your enemies with a number of electrical-based attacks is the free-running and climbing ability of Cole which allows you to fall from any height and practically climb anything in the game that isn't to high to reach. My only problem with the climbing is that a lot of the time it can just feel like you're pressing X and holding the analog stick forward, not really doing much - seeing as you will be climbing something nearly every minute this can seem a little tedious at times. However, one benefit is the cool and stylish buildings of which are immensely varied across Empire City's apocalyptic-like streets.

The graphics are decent, taking in the fact the game was produced nearly 3 years ago. There is lots to do as well, you can complete side-missions which in turn reward you by taking over districts of the city and giving you XP which you can spend to upgrade Cole's abilities and skills. There are also 350 'blast shards' scattered across the city! That's 350 individual collectibles, they are very common to find but even so it takes a long time to get them. So far I have just over 90 of them, baring in mind I've been playing for over 10 hours you can sort of get a feel of the scale here.

I'm actually really enjoying this game and to be fair, I didn't think I would! When I first saw it I thought it looked like nothing too special but I can see now that it is truly a masterpiece of game design. More on this game in the coming weeks!

Thinking about Elder Scrolls VI

Okay I know that Skyrim was released a couple of months back, but I've been thinking: where will the next game be set and in what era?

In Skyrim the empire has been taken over by the Thalmor so that will definitely effect whatever region Bethesda choose to use for the next game. Personally I'd like to see either Hammerfell (Redguard homeland) or Elsweyr (Khajit homeland) in the next game. Hammerfell sounds interesting and is covered in many harsh deserts which would make an interesting change from Skyrim's harsh, snowy mountains. Elsweyr is said to have many different terrains such as badlands, thick jungles and vast flat plains so I think - for the next gen consoles - it would definitely look outstanding and be a big challenge for Bethesda to achieve. The only problem is the lore of the Khajit. They are very different to the other races as they don't even worship the Nine Divines! Elsweyr sounds mysterious and weird and I think it would be very interesting to see Khajit custom and culture in The Elder Scrolls VI.

So, what do you think?

Monday 30 January 2012

Gamingheap Special: SKYRIM - Part 5

 Gamingheap Special: SKYRIM 

Part 5


I have now (finally) hit 100 hours + of total Skyrim gameplay, a respectable amount I believe seeing as there is said to be over 300 hours worth of gameplay. I decided to follow more of the main quest, so much so that I have only a single quest to complete until I have finished the main story. However, I will most likely stay true to Elder Scrolls tradition and finish that last story quest after I have finished everything else!

One of the quests saw me delve deep into a dwarven ruin to...


transcribe a blank lexicon and retrieve an elder scroll!

This took a fair amount of time as it was a sprawling labyrinth of a dungeon filled with locked gates and small nooks and crannies to explore. As I progressed through the dungeon I came across several journals and their deceased owners laying next to them (covered in blood of course!). Reading the said journals told the story of how a small expedition crew came to seek treasure in these ruins but a violent storm stopped them from getting back out again. The later journals and the bodies nearby told the story of how slowly each and everyone of them got picked off one by one by the blind Falmer that dwell in within. I think this sort of 'side-story' is really cool to see and adds to the game making it so much more than a bland and repetitive dungeon adventure. This style is actually used so much in the game in lots of detail; it is very impressive!

The next quest saw me...


Capture a dragon in Whiterun and interrogate it to find out where Alduin fled to after I defeated him atop The Throat of The World in the previous quest.

During these quests I obtained a substantial amount of soul-gems which I really want to use to further level my enchanting skill. I've also been fooling around with pick-pocketing something I never really did on Oblivion (kind of ironic seeing as my character is a sneak-bowman!). I like the inventive skills such as Smithing, Alchemy and Enchanting the most as they seem to pay off the most and it's fun to collect the ingredients and ores etc. needed to forge certain items.

Strangely enough, I have played so much of this game but I still don't know how I will shape out its review or how it's going to come out. I will probably piece it sometime this week or next. One thing I'm not sure whether to do is to compare Skyrim to Oblivion. They are obviously both outstanding games but I just don't think it is fair to do so as everyone is going to have different opinions and as Todd Howard himself said: There's always going to be people that say 'oh Oblivion was the best' or 'Morrowind was better'. Anyhow, until then I will probably keep updating this series. I hope you are enjoying it!

Sunday 29 January 2012

A new detective game for the next gen consoles?

I was browsing through a list of upcoming titles on AmazonUK and came across one that piqued my interest earlier today. The game itself is called 'The Testament of Sherlock Holmes'. Now I really enjoy detective/crime drama on the TV and just recently the second series of the BBC's Sherlock (a modern take on the famous books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) ended. I was also thoroughly transfixed when L.A. Noire was released in early 2011. So, when I saw this I got a bit excited and decided to see if there were any trailers or gameplay videos on youtube. Here's the E3 Trailer...

Yeah... the trailer is really crappy but at least it shows us that the visuals aren't all that bad, although they have nothing on L.A. Noire and that the game appears to be set in the late 1890's. You seem to have to walk everywhere as well...

Here's what IGN say about the story...

1898, London. All the evidence of police investigation points at Sherlock Holmes as the main suspect in a case involving theft, fraud and double-crossings. Unable to prove his own innocence, Holmes is rapidly losing London’s trust as doubt spreads through the city like wildfire. Even Doctor Watson's faith in his friend begins to waver, as the famous detective flees Scotland Yard and raises further suspicion; prowling around at night, destruction of evidence... would Holmes go so far as to commit murder?

'Prowling at night' tells me that there's probably some sort of sneaking or infiltration involved in the game which will hopefully deliver a sinister atmosphere to the game and prevent it from boiling down into something horrifically tedious and boring

From the information I've read it seems to play a lot like what you'd expect. You enter crime-scenes and analyse clues, you can choose to ignore some clues you think may be irrelevant to the case or record others to refer to later. Apparently there are interrogation scenes which I assume play out a lot like L.A. Noire's did although I haven't read anything about any action scenes. I'm sure they'll be some sort of action scene otherwise the game wouldn't be a whole lot fun to play or indeed very interesting.

I'm not sure about this title yet, I may decide to preorder when I hear more about it. It's rumored to be released early this year.

Gamingheap Special: SKYRIM - Part 4

 Gamingheap Special: SKYRIM 

Part 4

Well, well I seem to have sort of ditched writing these specials up for some reason. Luckily right now I'm going through another Skyrim phase so I've decided to update this series! I'm sure you're happy to know :)

Plundering many dungeons, caves and forts and slaying any beasts that stand in my path I have amassed a small fortune of 40,000 gold - unfortunately not enough for the 'Golden Touch' trophy which requires 100,000 gold. I've begun to dabble in alchemy and have made several trips out to the forests and highlands of Skyrim to pick mountain flowers and find other natural alchemy ingredients. Making potions and poisons with alchemy is not only beneficial in battle but brewing those concoctions also fetches a pretty penny at any store. My ingredient collection isn't the only collection I have either! I have well over 100 books all retrieved (or stolen!) from the clean shelves of the court-mages to the dusty, cobweb covered shelves of the deepest dungeons. I have read only a handful of these books and I have to say, they are definitely one of the most interesting and enjoying parts of the game! Some books tell stories, others describe Skyrim's many wild beasts and of course there are the books that tell the lore of the elder scrolls series. I will probably sit down one weekend and read them all just for the full experience. I also have a mean cheese collection!

I have attempted several times now to decorate my manor house, but with no avail! It takes a heck of a long time to actually get the item you want to sit right on a table and then when it does you either end up knocking it off or it will be on the floor the next time you enter your house due to an unfortunate glitch. One thing that did end up alright however is a large tray in the basement of my home filled to the brim with valuable stones (emeralds, amethysts, garnets etc.).

In combat terms my bow skill is now 100. Because of this I have decided to switch to one-handed combat to further vary my fighting ability. My favourite combat style at the moment is a sword or dagger in one hand and a spell in the other (usually Magelight so I can send an orb forward to light my path if it is dark). I have done a few more quests and killed a lot more dragons too! One highlight I must mention is when I found my first dragon priest - Krosis - and after a tough battle managed to loot its mask which gives me +20 alchemy, lockpicking and bow skills. Other quests included obtaining daedric artifacts such as mehrunes dagger which has a chance to one-hit kill any enemy. One particular quest saw me scale a tower filled with witches and hagravens with a priest and then kill the master witch and looting a unique fire staff from her.

I will probably get around to doing a proper review on this game sometime this week or next - I warn you, it will be a hell of a long review! Yes, I'm having a heaven (or should I say Sovemgarde?) of a time with Skyrim and today I finally hit my 100th hour and I'm not looking to stop now!
How's Skyrim going for you?

Monday 16 January 2012

Zombie Skull, Meet Hammer!

His head will explode in 3...2...1...
I've been playing a fair bit of Dead Island today. As you can tell from the name, if you haven't heard about the game already, it takes place on an island (Banoi) in Australia where a freak zombie apocalypse has infected the local populace. You are one of 4 people that happen to be immune to the virus and therefore stand a much better chance at cracking open their mouldy skulls, which of course is what the game is all about.

The island is surprisingly big loads of buildings you can break into to take supplies or meet people and do quests.   There are weapons literally everywhere you look and there are so many of them, whether it be a hammer, a sickle, knives, baseball bats and even boating oars you can use all of them to bludgeon helpless animated corpses! The story is pretty weak, nobody knows where the virus came from or how it spread so fast and you don't know how you're immune (although that is probably revealed later on i'm guessing). At least the gameplay is highly satisfying! You can break any part of a zombie's body if you hit it hard enough - you can sever limbs, decapitate or just stab them in the stomach if you so wish. The physics work great and the combat is mostly fluent with the zombies falling in realistic ways. Sometimes it can feel clunky and repetitive like you're just mashing the shoulder buttons but for the most part its highly satisfying to see zombie brains splatter onto the ground.

I want to spend quite a lot of time on this game in the future, I've always liked the whole survival aspect in zombie themed video-games and this one seems to hit it right on the nail.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Trying to Platinum Saints Row: The Third

I spent most of today working through various activities and side-missions in Saints Row: The Third trying to get trophies and eventually the platinum. There are some tough trophies to get however and I need to play through the game again and make different choices to get some of the trophies. I raised enough money to buy the collectibles map upgrade which allows me to see where every collectible in the game is on the map. I spent 30 minutes flying around on a hover-bike and managed to collect 40 of the 80 collectibles bagging myself a bronze for getting over 25% of them. I'll get another trophy when I get all 80. One thing that's slowing me down is various bugs and glitches. I am supposed to liberate all of the hoods to get a gold trophy but some of the activities I need to do to achieve this are not showing up on the map and indeed in the game. Hopefully it's just a random bug that'll sort itself out otherwise I won't be able to get that gold!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Backlog of trophies

I looked at some trophy cards of people on PSNProfiles today and realised that a lot of people play PlayStation 3 games to their fullest collecting every trophy and not quitting until they get the platinum. I don't know why but I've never been that much of a completionist when I play. My only platinum out of a possible 32 platinums is on Fallout 3 and even on that game I haven't finished the add-on packs. This kind of made me feel depressed so I've decided I'm going to try my hardest - no matter how hard it is to get the trophy - and start working towards some platinum trophies!

Added Dual-Sidebars

A little change to the blog - I noticed it was taking forever to scroll down the page and look at all of the stuff in the right-sidebar at the bottom of the blog. So, I took the liberty of expanding the width of the blog and adding a new left-sidebar. I haven't had dual-sidebars for well over a year. I think it makes the blog look a little more pro which is good! I also added the 'Follow By Email' feed on the left so anyone who likes reading Gamingheap can subscribe and receive email notifications about new updates. I'm also thinking of trying out Twitter, perhaps I'll tell you what i think of it tomorrow!

What Makes A Good Video-Game?


I have been thinking about this a lot recently after playing through last years great releases and reviewing a few of them over the past few days. I suppose, in a way, this question is a tricky one to answer as gamers have different opinions and where one person would like racing games but hate FPSs, another person will enjoy playing FPSs but hate racing games! I guess this post is mainly my own views on what makes a good video game but if you're reading this I invite you to share your views on the comments page below...

                                                         Fun Gameplay                                                              

First things first, I think the game your playing has to actually be fun to play, otherwise what's the point of playing it? For the game to be fun, it should have a diverse form of gameplay with lots of different things to do else it will just be repetitive. If the gameplay's weak then the story should be really good and engrossing. An example of this is Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain practically just makes you press buttons at the right time - yet it has one of the most gripping and engrossing stories I've ever seen in a video-game. I personally love most open-world games that allow you to stray from the missions and explore the game, doing as you please. Games that like that - which allow you to have fun outside the storyline - always seem to do well in my opinion.

Friday 13 January 2012

Scared in Space

So I recently started playing Dead Space, the sci-fi/horror third-person shooter that appeared on the gaming scene roughly 3 years ago. I heard a few people talk about it and had read some posts on other people's blogs about it but had never tried it myself. I suppose the main reason was: I don't really have a good history with scary video-games. Ever since I played Ghost Hunter on the PS2 (I actually managed to finish it) which involved too many scary monsters, ghosts and overall disturbing things (including giant mutant teddy bears and dead witches in rocking chairs) I have never really been too keen to return to the world of 'jump out of your seat' scary gaming. So what possessed me to purchase both Dead Space and it's sequel Dead Space 2, I don't quite know!

Lucky I did though, Dead Space can only be described as a game that creates the most suspenseful and seriously frightening moments just by using a combination of darkness, scary music and disturbing alien sounds! There are times when you will think it is safe - the lights are all on, there's no music; nothing to make you think you're unsafe - then you'll walk forward into a small room and a necromorph alien will smash through an air vent and maul your face off! Scary moments also include eerie sounds and music and hearing the scratching of the aliens but not being able to see them. It's also frightening when the lights are flickering on and off and all you can hear is the screaming off aliens, not being able to get an accurate shot to kill them.

The combat is really fun and is highly strategic! The only way you can kill the aliens is to sever their limbs whether it be their arms, legs, tails or tentacles if they have them. All of the enemies are really fast and can close a far distance between you and them in a second. This requires you to be both quick, before the enemies can deal damage and accurate so as you don't waste ammo on their torso's or heads. If there is a small room with lots of enemies it's likely they will overpower Isaac and clutch at his body. It's at these points you must tap the X button repeatedly or face having your torso torn from your legs or you head implode on itself! There is also melee - left and right hooks and a nasty kick - which knock most enemies away from you stunning them and giving you enough time to get a few shots in. The kick will also smash open storage crates and other objects which hide ammunition and health packs.

The story's okay, but the game's more focused on creating the suspenseful scary moments. One cool thing is zero-gravity areas where you can jump onto walls etc. and the use of telekinesis; moving heavy objects out of your path or putting power cells into electric outlets. The graphics are impressive for 2008 but are of course mediocre compared to the progression in visuals that has happened since.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Gamingheap Review - Deus-Ex: Human Revolution (PS3)

I had been interested in this game for quite some time before I bought it in December last year. Now I've actually been playing it I can talk about my views on what it is like.

The game is set in 2027, 25 years before the first title of the series, at a time when cutthroat multinationals have developed their operations beyond the control of national governments. The game follows Adam Jensen, the newly hired director of in-house security for an up-and-coming biotechnology firm specialising in human cybernetic enhancement, Sarif Industries. After a brutal act of industrial terrorist sabotage at Sarif's Detroit-based headquarters, the mortally wounded Jensen is forced to undergo radical life-saving surgeries that replace large areas of his body with advanced cybernetic enhancements. Upon returning to work, he becomes embroiled in the global politics of the human enhancement movement in the search for those responsible for the attack.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Gamingheap Review - Saints Row: The Third (PS3)

  Saints Row: The Third  (PS3)

First of all I will just apologise as it is January the 11th and this is only my second post of the year! I kind of got carried away with this game and finished it before talking about what it was like as I progressed through it. Yeah, so I thought I might do a review instead! :)

Saints Row: The Third is what I like to think as GTA but a whole lot wackier and in places less serious and much more fun! You play as the boss of the criminal organization known as 'The Saints'. The Third Street Saints are at the height of their power and are practically celebrities, selling their own branded energy drink, clothes, you name it! Then, some major crime gang called the Syndicate contacts you after you steal their big-ass vault in the bank. Chaos ensues and eventually you end up in a sordid city of sin called Steelport. Throughout the game you play through the story gradually taking over the city and neutralizing threats such as The Syndicate and STAG which stands for 'Special Tactical Anti-Gang' an 'above private-class' military department made to rid Steelport of its gang warfare.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Starting the year with a boom... and a bang... and crash!

Over the Christmas period I mentioned buying a lot of games for my Sony PlayStation 3, one of which was 'Red Faction: Guerrilla'. Guerrilla was developed by Volition and published by THQ in 2009 making it a fairly dated game.

The game takes place on the planet Mars in 2125. Mankind has successfully colonized Mars and a government body called the 'EDF (Earth Defense Force)' takes charge.  Earth's natural resources have run scarce, and as a result, its global economy has collapsed from rampant speculation of commodities and lack of production. Under pressure by Earth's corporations and leaders to acquire the resources of Mars at any cost and at a pace to meet Earth's high demand, the EDF has forced Martian society into a permanent state of unfree labour. The newly-reformed "Red Faction" arises to rebel against the EDF, drive them off the planet, and begin fairer negotiations with Earth.

This is the first time I have played a Red Faction game and here I my views on what I've experienced so far...