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Just Dance 4

Considering that I’m such a lazy gamer, I’ve been infected with the sudden need to dance, and party, and just be lively. After meeting the Ubisoft Reflections guys in Newcastle, I got a shot at Just Dance 3 for Xbox 360 and it was a barrel of laughs! Still unsure of whether I should venture out and grab Just Dance 4, I took a trip to the Metro-centre where the same guys were helping GAME celebrate it’s release. I had a blast there too, and quickly decided to rush out and buy the latest instalment of Just Dance.

Song List

Like any music game, the songs available are important to the player. Previous Just Dance games failed to disappoint with songs such as Funky Town, Barbra Streisand and Party Rock Anthem. The new game also has a great range of songs, making playing JD a great addition to any party. I’ll name a few I can think of:

Las Ketchup – Asjere (The Ketchup Song)

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

Flo Rida – Good Feeling

Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger

Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give you up

So there’s a few of the songs available and it keeps to the tone that was set by the previous titles. There are a few songs that I wish weren’t there, but that’s all down to personal preference. I don’t quite understand Skrillex for example, but I’ll still give it a go.

Some songs are better with more people

Dance Move Precision

Like all dance games, they ask you to complete a few moves and they grade you with an overall star rating and a mini grade for how you pull off each move. Whereas Dance Central make their grading of moves a little more visible (around the dancers feet and glowing limbs if you do it wrong) JD places it above your character and next to your dance-card.

You do get better scores for better precision, naturally. However, when the game has you twirling, ducking, weaving, and more it’s very hard to see what you’re meant to be doing, and you start to ignore your grades.

Just Sweat Mode

Just Sweat is the JD equivalent of a dance workout. There are multiple classes in which to choose from, sorted by the style of music they use, and add in a few extra short routines specifically for the workout such as stretching. There are a few workout length choices too, ranging from 10 mins to 45 mins, and I’m sure I saw a 1 hr workout in there somewhere. Nevertheless, I tried them all out in a bid to get fit for Halloween…

They are pretty good I must say. I started at 10 mins but it didn’t seem like long enough for me. I was only just working up this sweat that the mode had so promised me, but was soon to regret choosing a 45 minute cheerleader workout. My shoulders are still sore now, probably has more to do with the fact I’m rather unfit. The routine was great, it lets you know when they are cool down sections and intense sections, and tells you the calories you’ve burned at the end. My only issue with the calorie count is that, unlike DC where they ask you for weight, this game does not, so it makes me wonder how it’s calculating this…?

Downsides

I can’t really think of the downsides of this game, but if I had to share what I thought was bad…

– I couldn’t play this on the Wii because every time I do, I seems to whack myself with the Wii-mote. It’s hardly a complaint but when you do hit yourself it really hurts.

– Playing certain songs by yourself allows you to realise how lonely you are. Barry White’s song is a 4 player dance group and you can look really silly doing it alone. The same with Asjere, Time of my Life and Time Warp. Forever Alone 😛

– Justin Bieber (but that’s down to preference)

– With bigger dance groups you need more space otherwise it becomes difficult. The Wii doesn’t have so much of a problem, but the Kinect needs to see everyone and they all need to be in the right place otherwise it goes a bit nuts.

– Not enough DLC songs but I suppose the developers need a little more time to add them.

– There’s also the problems that accompany most motion gaming, such as calibration of the sensor, which can become a little irritating but it’s not a major issue.

Quite a fun game

In conclusion I’d say that Just Dance 4 is a great party game and is a lot more fun when with friends, as you can have a laugh at each other whilst doing the silly routines they have planned out for you. It’s still good as a 1-player game but it feels a little more like a chore after a few songs. Plus, after a while a few of the songs you’ve never heard before start to grow on you. Just need some more songs to dance to and I’ll be happy.


Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Friday Sept 14th was a special day for me. There was a birthday in the family, it was Friday, and my 2 year wait for a new Tekken game was finally over! Sure, Street Fighter x Tekken was also a “Tekken” game, I found it had more Street Fighter influence, so getting my hands on Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was a great feeling!

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is finally here!

I got an early feel for the game whilst competing in a tournament to celebrate the game’s release. My local GAME store held a Time Trial tournament, clocking how fast I could finish one fight with 2 rounds. I managed to clock a time of 51s and came 4th overall, losing out to a great 36s attempt. After hearing I qualified for an elimination heat, I couldn’t get home quick enough with my game to get some much needed practice with the game.

Familiar Faces

I was greeted by some familiar faces when I started up Tekken for the first time in a few months. I was glad to see some old veterans such as Nina Williams, my favourite Irish assassin, Kazyua Mishima, my not so favourite Japanese murder machine, and the almighty Yoshimitsu! I was also happy to see my good friend Steve Fox was still there, meaning I was set for my playthrough of Arcade mode. There a few new faces, but by new, I mean I hadn’t seen them since Tekken 2/3 where they made an appearance but disappeared after that, like Ogre and more notably Jun Kazama and Kunimitsu. There is one new character, Jaycee. She’s a mysterious masked wrestler, or so they say but I think I’ve worked out who she actually is… *cough* Julia Chang *cough*

Gameplay 

My first match on TTT2

I’m not very good at formulating combos so I’m not going to pretend, but I get pretty close with Steve, so I picked Steve and choose Lili as my partner and set out to try out the gameplay, mainly the Arcade mode. Gameplay is like any other Tekken game, only they elaborated a fun element of Tekken 6, and made it easier to use your equipped items as weapons. I’ve had great fun picking up the handgun and shooting away at Kazuya or Devil Jin in the hopes of hitting them. I can’t wait to try out the pineapple I’ve just unlocked! I’ve even come across a cat as a weapon? Apparently it’s meow hurts but I’m not sure how much… I won’t let it hit me!

Whilst using items has become easier, the ghosts have not. They still have their own rank, and you can still promote your characters. In fact, you can finally get past 2nd Dan offline (Tekken 6 only let you advance your rank further by playing online) so you can now attain the coveted Tekken Lord rank, not that I’m getting there anytime soon. Ghosts past 5th Dan are rather difficult to defeat, unless you’re very good, whereas I’m just lucky. This is probably why I won’t play online. Last thing I need is a Pro player in Japan kicking my ass every minute.

Narrow escape against a bot! Not ready for online yet….

I’ve only figured out 2 Tag moves so far; Tag Crashes that are helpful if your on the ground and need a very quick tag, and Tag Throws which are just fun to do. I know there are more Tag Moves that can be done, but I haven’t figured them out yet. Fight Lab has helped out a little but I’m still not confident using the other tag moves on offer.

Return of the Unknown

She’s back!

Of course one of the biggest things for me was the return of the boss from the first Tekken Tag game. She’s been revamped, she lost the silly floaty wolf thing similar to that of Z.W.E.I from Soulcalibur V, and she now utilises her environment instead, which looks so much better. This mysterious character is of course Unknown, and yes that is her name.

I got confused when they showed Jun Kazama as the final stage, rather than Unknown, but they cleverly crafted a cutscene to go between rounds, provided you stick to the conventional 2 rounds set as default. Upon defeating Jun once, she transforms into Unknown and somehow turns from rather skilled martial artist into someone almost completely different and can destroy you in 2 simple moves, one of which includes a hand rising from the floor and flattening you. That wipes the majority of your health bar away, so you’re screwed if you’ve already taken a beating from her.

Flaws?

No matter how much I may seem to like a game, it always has flaws, whether it be issues with the story, graphics, etc. Tekken Tag 2 has a few that have really stuck out. First off is loading issues during gameplay. I understand that when playing online that some lag can occur, depending on internet connectivity, but when I’m in offline mode, sometimes my game has an effect similar to lag and it always results in me either losing or getting close to. I’ve seen it happen a few times which is a little annoying, especially when entering a combo, the game “freezes” temporarily then anything I press after that didn’t count, therefore ending my combo. Saddens me a little, but I’m working past that on the hopes that it’s just the old console giving up and not an issue with the game.

I wasn’t really a fan of online play either. I haven’t played much of it, but I found it rather irritating and frustrating, but that might be because I’m rubbish at online unless it’s Guitar Hero, then I have a fighting chance. But even when watching my brother who is probably always going to be 10x better than me play online, even he found it irritating and he was on a 5 win streak! Maybe it’s because I will always prefer standing/sitting next to the person I’m fighting against so I have a little prejudice, or maybe it’s because no-one told me that you could have 2 controllers and have 2 people play! Would have been so much easier. Personal issues aside, the online is smooth, no huge connectivity problems, and the “Team” option (similar to Clans on Call of Duty) is a pretty cool feature too.

After 3 online matches…


Last but not least, this new feature in the game added another element of story, but was really complex and a little vague. Fight Lab is a tutorial, there to teach you how to fight. I was hoping it mostly teach you about Tag functions, but one stage 5 shows you that. Fair enough, the other stages teach new players how to play, but even those stages were a little complex and took me a little while to figure out, and I’ve been playing Tekken for over 10 years! *Shame I’m not getting any better at it*. By the time I reached the tag functions I was pretty much at the end of my tether, frustrated with all the aerial combos that wouldn’t register. Eventually I reached the end, only just otherwise I’d still be sitting trying to complete it.

The combos didn’t register correctly as I was trying to complete Tag Throws, Combot’s move-set wasn’t ideal and it took almost 20 minutes to realise the colours of the suits of people I was fighting signified which move I had to use. For a tutorial, it seemed a little vague and unhelpful, however I do now know how to use tag combos so I suppose it did what it was supposed to do… eventually.

Overall…

I love this game. Plot aside, its a great game. I can’t compare to Street Fighter, due to lack of experience playing it. Some people are either into one or the other, and in my case this is true. Tekken was the first game I ever played, back when I was only 4 years of age. I’ve watched Tekken grow into what this is now. It’s challenging in all the right places, and pretty easy to pick a favourite character or two. I wouldn’t say it was the perfect game, as like most fighters it becomes monotonous, and eventually boring.

Whilst the game is still pretty new and shiny, I’ll be playing it, but who knows how long that will last. Possibly until Assassin’s Creed 3 is in my hands this October…


The Sims Go Supernatural

I’ll apologise for not writing so much. There are plenty of reasons why I couldn’t, such as sorting out university stuff. But rather than waste time explaining everything, I’m going to get right to it and talk about the recent expansion to The Sims 3.

Finally, EA and Maxis have re-introduced the supernatural beings into the game. It’s only taken them about 7 expansion packs to do it, but I suppose good things come to those who wait… or perhaps I’m being unfair as vampires did appear in the second expansion Late Night? Either way, I’m glad to finally have a few more options in terms of supernatural beings.

New Character Creation

Customise your fairy’s wings to match your outfit

By this, I mean of course the ability to create the supernatural Sims. One thing didn’t strike me until I was reading up about the next expansion, Seasons. Where are the aliens? Much to my dismay aliens won’t make an appearance until the next expansion in November. I thought Aliens were Supernatural too*. But I likely didn’t notice this as my favourite Supernatural was there to occupy me; Werewolves! Naturally I messed about with most of the creation tools, and found the werewolves and fairies creation to be the most fun, as you can alter the appearance of the fairy’s wings, and could customise your sim’s werewolf form. Genies didn’t offer much, only the preset blue skin and themed outfits, vampires were similar with their preset skin-tone and bite-mark. I haven’t created a witch through CAS yet, or a Ghost, but I’m under the impression that creating them will be similar to Genies, in that there won’t be much to play around with that is completely unique to them.

Proper Sims do everything in formal wear

However, there’s the addition of new traits and lifetime wishes which is evident with most main expansion packs, by that I mean anything that doesn’t have “Stuff” in it’s name, and as expected they are completely fitting with a few less-obvious but brilliant traits such as Night-Owl and Proper. Each new character gets their own unique lifetime Happiness perks too, so Fairies can become King/Queen of the Fae, but Werewolves can become the Alpha Wolf instead. This is where Witches begin to redeem themselves as they have a perk that allows them to cast magic without a wand.

Supernatural Gameplay

The gameplay has received a couple of new features and a few that enhance current elements, like the collection journal. Finally the game keeps track of everything I’ve collected! The lunar cycle is great but I have a tendency to forget about it and throw parties on a full moon, resulting in werewolf chaos! But I enjoy that the fairies are also affected by the moon too, and it’s not just there for werewolves.

Fortune Tellers are fun within the game too, with the option to pursue that career with the intent of being fake and scamming people, or if you want to be a legitimate fortune teller. I also love how if you get your fortune told, the amount they tell you is depending on how many “donations” you give them throughout the session. Then there’s the ridiculous fortune at the end, no matter how much you give, as that’s the way TS3 does it!

Zombies are fun. Yes, you can’t create them per-say. You can’t through CAS but you can by developing a Zombification potion and either drinking it or throwing it on a Sim. All of their interactions are to do with brains, they have the zombie walk, and they are good sports when playing Plants vs Zombies with my on my front lawn (Limitied Edition extra). The annoying part is when they torment your horses, attack you on your doorstep, essentially leaving you housebound for the night. Goodbye fun, Hello early night!

You can transform into werewolves at any time you want which is cool! It may not have been a full moon but when my dog died, my Sim was so upset I sent him on a werewolf hunt. It just means that you have no choice on a full moon, which is fair enough. I quite enjoy the whole concept. Fairies also benefit from a full moon, making it easier for them to cast fairy magic. They do however suffer from a new moon, so are a bit like werewolves in reverse. They also have the ability to enter fairy houses and treat them like a normal house. You know what that means? Fairy House Parties!

Blue Harry Potter demonstrates broom-riding

Infact I even enjoyed playing as a witch. You get a wide selection of wands to use, broomsticks as transportation or just to mess about on and, as mentioned earlier, you can even learn to use magic without a wand! The only downside I found to witches was I found it very hard to learn how to increase the Spellcasting skill which doesn’t appear in the Skill journal unlike most other skills. Even the in-game tutorials didn’t help out much!

The biggest disappointment was possibly the Genies. Everyone knows what Genies are famous for! Jumping out of lamps, granting wishes, Aladdin. Under this image I excitedly created a genie only to be let down by what the Genie could actually do. Cool, he’s blue, and can float about! All he really can do are one of three things; Summon Food (perfect food every time though), clean either the house or a Sim, eliminating the needs for Maids or Showers, and Banish Sim. I haven’t tried out that last one yet, because I do not yet have a Sim I wish to Banish but next time I want a Sim killed I’ll send ’em to the Genie! I then searched for a tutorial only to find there wasn’t one, meaning there wasn’t much else to them. There wasn’t even a flying carpet which would have made up for everything in my eyes!

I can’t comment on Ghosts yet either for I haven’t really created one yet, but I reckon I’ll have great fun possessing stuff and scaring other Sims. It would also be unfair to criticise vampires under this expansion as they were introduced in the Late Night expansion pack, but the cool thing is you can now create them in CAS rather than run around begging vampires to bite you. There’s also the ability to learn skills ridiculously fast but I’m still unsure if that was already in the game or not.

There’s one last little extra they added to the gameplay which I am hoping to exploit a little with an unknowing friend. Showtime, the previous expansions, added the ability to communicate with friends within the game, allowing you to access your Origin/EA account in-game. This also allowed you to access the Store, link/share memories and unlock achievements. It also enabled a function called SimPort, allowing you to send one of your Sims to another friends game as an Acrobat/Magician/Singer and perform in their world, or “go on tour”. In Supernatural they added the ability to send gifts to your friends through the mailbox. You can send potions if you want, or you can send in-game items. I once sent a teddy bear to my friend. Not only do you send your friends something they need, but you also gain Lifetime Happiness points for your Sims! Quick and easy lifetime Happiness, but there is a limit of 5 items a day and some items can only be sent if your friend has registered their game.

Overall I’m enjoying TS3 Supernatural. It has its ups and downs like all games do, and it must be alright if I can sit for 12 hours straight playing it. Hopefully I can grow to like Genies and Ghosts will be as fun as I expect them to be.

*I’ve now realised that Aliens are more Extra-terrestrial than Supernatural, which explains why they weren’t included.


Metal Gear Solid 4 Trophies At Last!

Today is a big day for the PS3 gamers and fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, as today is the release of the patch many have waited for … the patch that adds a trophy system onto the 4th game of the franchise.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was released a long time ago, 5 years or so I do believe as I was in high school when it was released! It’s amazes me how it’s taken them 5 years to add trophies to the game, as I know a lot of people who’ve wanted trophies from the beginning. I suppose it’s better late than never. Maybe it was the success of the MGS HD Collection and its trophies that inspired Konami to finally add those coveted trophies. Who knows…

Metal Gear Solid 4 now has trophies!

I’m unaware of the what the trophies themselves are but I’ll find a link to them so you can see:

I’m not a huge PS3 player, but I am an achievement/trophy hunter (on the Xbox side) so the addition of trophies may just inspire me to clear some space on my already packed PS3 hard drive to gather as many of these trophies as I can!

Here’s the promised Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots trophy list, as posted on ps3t.org:
http://www.ps3trophies.org/game/metal-gear-solid-4-guns-of-the-patriots/trophies/


Assassin’s Creed 3 VIP Event, Newcastle

I’m a huge games fan and, like most other people, got super hyped at the Assassin’s Creed 3 footage screened at E3 this year. So like any fan, when the opportunity arose for me to attend an Assassin’s Creed event in my hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne I jumped at the opportunity.

My VIP event invitation

As VIPs we were entitled to a few goodies, such as AC3 t-shirts, pin badges, posters and lanyards which were pretty awesome. Lots of people put their t-shirts on immediately but I was already wearing an Assassin’s Creed hoodie, so I didn’t switch. I did put my lanyard on though, makes you feel more like a VIP.

The room was appropriately decorated with both American and British flags, and loads of AC3 boxes which I really wanted to take home. There were 12 operational consoles, all of which sporting at least one of the past four Assassin’s Creed titles; from Assassin’s Creed, all the way to Revelations. There was such a big turn out, the viewing had to be split into two, so we made ourselves at home on the consoles as the first half of people made the first showing. We were treated to pizza and drinks, the largest order of Domino’s Pizza I’ve ever seen, and then made our way down to the VIP viewing area, which meant down our own little red carpet.

Josh Winward (@JRWinward), the Field Executive for Ubisoft, introduced himself and seemed super excited to be there. He was looking forward to showing us some of the new features. He proceeded to show off 3 different demos for us, 2 of which were seen at E3 and the third I had never seen before.

The first was the footage we saw during the Ubisoft conference at E3 early last month; The Frontier. Josh explained how difficult it was to walk through the deep snow in the woods, and demonstrated how running through the trees was a much more viable means of transportation. That doesn’t means there’s no horses! Connor still jumps on a horse to cover the large distance between the camp and the fortress. Josh also talked about runners, the people who try and sound the alarm and warn your target of your prescence, then nicely executed him with that rather beautiful tomahawk. A quick demonstration of how easily distractions work in aiding a more stealthy approach to your target and that was the first demo complete!

The second demo was seen at Sony’s E3 conference and that is the exciting concept of Naval combat. Josh informs us that you can take full control of the ship, have 360 degree camera control, and access to a range of weapons. To demonstrate, he sails a boat into the rapidly changing sea, and utilises a few weapons, including the ships main cannons that aim to sink other ships, a cannon which is much more precise and can deal huge amounts of damage, and of course the Chain shots which he uses to take out the ship’s masts and enables Connor to board the enemy ship.

Then the final demo emerged; Boston 1775. This was an opportune moment to show how the evasive techniques have adapted and changed. Firstly, I was impressed by the moving hay bales on the back of the NPC’s carts, and how you can assassinate from it, maybe because it looked like so much fun! Josh then moved on to complete a side-mission to help a woman get her husband from the Red-Coats. Connor is now able to use buildings as cover, and uses the woman to gain the guards attention, unaware that he was walking to his death. Connor then utilises the Rope Sling as a distraction for the other guards, and sneaks past to free the husband. Now, he is no longer incognito, so Josh shows us how it is easier to blend within the crowds, and how you can use your surroundings to assassinate guards, by driving a Red-Coats head through a pitchfork. We are shown that Connor can use open windows as a means of escape, by running through an unsuspecting lady’s house. We are also shown that your fellow assassins can now be summoned in disguises to allow passage through guarded sections, pretending to have Connor as a prisoner. To end the demo, Josh grabs a bayonet and drives it through a couple of guards on a boat, pushing the third overboard, then climbing the mast to show us that the game still has vast landscapes to explore.

(from left to right) Myself, Josh Winward and Andrien Gbinigie

Overall it was a great day, and watching the footage made me run to the game shop and pre-order the game, and free pizza is always a plus! I also got to meet Josh Winward and Andrien Gbinigie (@EscoBlades), Microsoft Xbox MVP, Deputy Editor for XboxGameZone and Machinima Partner & Director.

I’m really excited, so I better finish off Revelations quick! Release date is October 31st 2012.