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Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army – Just Another Horde of Nazi Zombies to Shoot At

You would think that when a sniper wants to take a shot at somebody the best type of person would be the slow moving ones that are unlikely to take any notice of you if you are far enough away. This would make the zombie the perfect victim. When it comes to the new version Sniper Elite V2, Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army, I doubt this was the first thing on their mind.

In a way the Call of Duty games are to blame for making the zombie a popular enemy in war games. It’s not like Nazi zombies are a new thing though, we’ve seen them in the movie world too though. In a game that should be focusing on taking out enemies that are far away though, what fun can there be if you are staying away from the walking dead slaying action? The answer seems to be if you are not playing with friends, not a lot.

Story, or Lack of It
People who have played Sniper Elite V2 will take a look at Nazi Zombie Army and be able to tell straight away this is pretty much a standalone DLC for the original game. You don’t need to own the original, and thankfully it’s fairly cheap. It’s also only for the PC. The story, of what tere is of it is pretty much there are zombies so go shoot them with your sniper rifle. If they get too close then simply use your backup weapon to kill them. There is an introduction to the story that tells you that Hitler, near defeat has initiated “Plan Z” unleashing the zombie apocalypse which turns the Nazi army into zombies. You as Karl Fairburne (the main character from the previous games) must travel through Germany and find a way to stop him.

Features
The game is made up of five missions and you’ll easily recognise the environments from Elite V2. There has been some work done though to make them look more devastated by war and the effects of the zombies. Most of the work you do in the game is to make your way through streets as wave upon wave of zombies attack, you have to pick them all off, survive the onslaught and make it to safe rooms where you can resupply. There are a variety of zombies to fight, including ones with weapons and even boss zombies. This does provide some level of variety as you fend off sniping zombies, ones with mini guns and even skeletons.

To fight the creatures off you have your trusty sniper rifle, a backup gun for closer comeback and a variety of different mines, grenades and other explosives that you can stock up on at the start of the mission. For fans of Elite V2 you’ll probably be happy to know that X-ray kill cams have been included again, so you’ll be able to see the impact your bullets have on the insides of the zombies.

Multi-Player
The big problem is that the single player game can be quite dull. Even with the variety of zombies that are trying to kill you it still feels repetitive at times, this is where multi-player comes in to try save the day. It’s fair to say that Nazi Zombie Army starts to feel more fleshed out when you play with a few friends. The ability to revive people who have fallen to the zombies makes for a better game, it just feels more fun.

Verdict
If you are fans of the Sniper Elite games then there is a chance that you will enjoy Nazi Zombie Army, that is if you are not sick of zombies by now. It’s pretty evident that this was a game designed to be played with friends, zombie killing is not meant to be a lonely business. At $14.99/£10 on Steam it’s a game that really fits its discounted price don’t expect much and you may just have a few hours of fun.

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Sonic Dash – Maybe a Run too far for Sonic?

It’s fair to say that the Temple Run games and their clones such as Survival Run with Bear Grylls have proven that the endless running games are not only popular but perfect for playing on smartphones and tablets. Whether it’s swiping your finger on the screen or tilting the device to interact with the character it’s easy to play and strangely addictive. On the negative side they also work well with microtransaction systems pushing the player to make payments to gain extra chances in the game and power ups. It was only a matter of time before known game characters started to appear.

Sonic the Hedgehog is the type of character that has fans who are obsessed, they’ve collected his merchandise and played his games almost all of their lives. This is why it’s no surprise whether good or bad that he’d turn up in a game like Sonic Dash. He’s the mascot for Sega so has turned up in many games that fans would rather forget about, so even if this is bad they’ll probably just accept it. With a character like Sonic who is all about running and speed you would think that he would be perfect for this type of game, in many ways he is.

Story
As with most endless running games the story is pretty much non-existent, the object here is just to run and keep on running. As with previous games it’s a case of collecting rings and using Sonic’s speed to make progress through the levels. Fitting in with game model you also need to swipe the screen to jump and duck, also to move left and right on the road. Strangely though there is no tilting the device in this one it’s all on screen interaction.

Features
As with a lot of his games there are quite a few characters now. When you start the game you’ll get a choice of players, though not that many. The choice between Sonic, Tails, knuckles and Amy does give a little variety, but you’ll have to unlock the characters (other than Sonic) to be able to play as them. Now for the downside, the unlocking comes at a price. This is where microtransactions come in.

Sonic Dash, although not free is a game that pushes you to make microtransactions in quite a big way. It wants you to buy rings so that you can make quicker progress, which to be fair is something the other endless running games do too but at least the Temple Run games are free. As with Temple Run though you don’t have to make payments you’ll just have to take your time in collecting normal and red rings to make progress.

Gameplay
As mentioned the interface to the game is all touch screen based. To move left and right it’s just a case of swiping in the direction that Sonic needs to go. When required to jump an upwards swipe makes him jump while downwards makes him duck under obstacles. As you can tell this is the typical controls of games like Temple Run so won’t be anything unusual for people who’ve already played them. Even Sonic fans who’ve not experienced it before will easily pick it up.

Verdict
For a Sonic game this feels quite lazy, but it will kill a few hours. I’m not sure if it’s got the staying power for fans to keep with it though and it’s obvious that pushing people into microtransactions when they’ve already paid for the game may put some off. I’m sure there are plenty of Sonic fans out there though that will buy this just for his name, and will probably enjoy the way that it replicates the 3D feel of some of the games he’s been in. I’m also sure though that Sonic fans expect more of their favourite characters and may give this one a pass.

Sonic Dash is available for iOS devices with Android coming soon.

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Game

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – Is it Enough of an Expansion to Make it a Worthy Purchase?

It’s fair to say if there is one thing that Blizzard Entertainment gets right it’s creating games that garner a dedicated fanbase. We’ve seen that in the Diablo series of game, World of Warcraft and StarCraft. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty may be around three years old now but fans have always known that there were two more instalments coming, even if somewhat annoyed that it felt as if the games was separated into three parts.

StarCraft: Heart of the Swarm now concentrates on the insectoid Zerg troops and their leader Sarah Kerrigan the hybrid human and Zerg Queen who in the first part of the game lost her memory but looks to reclaim it before leading her troops onwards. Fans will of course want to know just how the story continues, but also what multi-player elements have been added. Also, just as importantly is it worth the extra money after all this time?

Storyline
As mentioned above where Wings of Liberty focused on the Terran (humanoid) troops we now look to the Zerg forces to continue the story. Sarah Kerrigan, although at the end of the first game was left without her memories of being the Queen of the Blades at the start of the game in the tutorial missions. This is so that battles can recommence with her in full command once more. This means to rebuild the swarm and focus on defeating Arcturus Mengsk the Terran dictator, and lets not forget the Protoss of course.

Gameplay
In the game you take control of Kerrigan and her forces with the aim of collecting resources, scouting the surrounding area, building up forces and preparing for battles which inevitably come as the enemies swarm your bases. The Zerg strategy during warfare is to build up strength in troops as their organic method of production means that they can build basic battalions relatively easily as long as you have the resources to provide the required materials. It’s pretty standard RTS style gameplay in true StarCraft 2 style already cemented in place in Wings of Liberty. With a few refinements to the user interface and AI though and fans will no doubt notice subtle improvements.

Single-player
It’s arguable that the weakness of Wings of Liberty was the single player mode and little can be said to have changed here. Some of the missions are quite linear in style but with a new perspective to fighting as the Zergs have a different way of entering the battles and managing their troops. The single-player missions will continue the story side of the game, but it will always be the multi-player side that is the strength of StarCraft 2.

Multi-player
The single-player missions in StarCraft 2 are never said to be a focus of long term gameplay, most players will likely rush through it so they can get back to playing against their friends, or foes. New units that have been made available liven things up in gameplay and after three years this is only to be expected if they are to liven up the game. Each team (Terrans, Zergs and Protoss) have new units and weaponry to play with including the Zergs Viper, Terrans Widow Mines and the Protos Oracle Units.

The ranking system for multi-player games has also gone through an upgrade to not only keep the seasoned players happy but also help newer players to find their place in a multi-player world that has had a few years to form. Players will find that they aren’t pushed into unfair battles with people way above their level.

Verdict
After three years there are obviously going to be questions as to just what improvements have been made in the game. For the hardened fan expecting big things they may feel disappointed, but for fans looking for something to just refresh StarCraft 2 for them it may be enough. Then of course there will be the new fans who will also have to buy a copy of the first StarCraft 2 game too (as this is being sold as an expansion) who will just enjoy the overall experience. So to sum up for StarCraft 2 it’s a worthy expansion but one that could have gone a little further. Now just to see how long it takes until the final part of the game is released, which will of course also mean even more money will have to be spent.

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WWE ’13 One of the Best Wrestling Game in Years

Now that WWE ’13 has been released in America and will be released in the UK tomorrow and I’ve had chance to play and fully test out some of the modes it’s to give it a more in depth review based on the actual gameplay and how the new modes work. In the preview I looked at the much advertised “Attitude” mode, and mention how the WWE Universe mode is also available as well as customisable settings now is the time to give my view on just how fun it is.

THQ release these games yearly and sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. A lot of tweaks go on behind the scenes, like this time for example the Predator Technology 2.0 promises plenty of changes to improve the experience to create a more fluid and fun experience. Now it’s time to see if in my opinion as a fan it lives up to the hype.

Bringing Back the Attitude

It’s fair to say that when the words “WWE Attitude Era” was mentioned it caught a lot of fans eyes. This was a popular time for wrestling and is seen as a time that many miss, it was more about attitude than the more family friendly variety wrestling the WWE provide today. The question is can the game fully give the “Attitude” experience that people will expect? The answer is yes and no.

The Attitude Era is the main story mode for the game, working around using actual historical matches giving the player tasks they must perform during that fight. This means things such as you must hit the opponent with a chair when their health is at critical, or you must deliver your finisher and pin them before a certain amount of time. Fans of wrestling who remember the matches will wait in anticipation for the expected cut scenes which do come and add to the excitement and it really works.

One weird part though is blood, in the game there is a lack of it. This caused quite an issue when the included “First Blood” match was changed to Last Man Standing (the opponent must remain unconscious for a ten count for you to win). This was fine in the game itself but in the next fight it was commented on as being the First Blood fight. This is just a little issue of course, but in story terms it is quite confusing. Also confusing is the fact that at the “Attitude Era” time the WWE were in fact known as the WWF, and as the game appears to be using vocal work taken from the actual commentary of the time there is constant usage of “WW…” the F is cut off which you do get used to but again, sounds quite strange. You do tend to get used to it though.

The Attitude Era is a fun mode, and nostalgic for actual wrestling fans. It includes many historic matches that went a long way to making WWE what it is today. In playing terms, for newcomers this will work as a good story mode, for fans of the era itself it’s like a trip to the past. It’s quite fun and addictive if a little hard at times but still fun.

The WWE Universe

The WWE Universe is less restrictive on your style and uses the more modern fighters. You get to choose which fights you want to influence, giving you the ability to shape the way stories for the wrestlers will go. This is less of a story mode and more of a managerial type style, though the only managing you can actually do is to take over the fight and make sure the wrestler you want winning will win. This includes for the most part skipping quite a few matches till you see a fighter you like and then taking part. It’s fun but can be quite repetitive at times as wrestlers tend to fight each other quite a few times (which replicates how the WWE shows themselves are run). For the most part it’s not as addictive as the Attitude Era, but still offers plenty of chances to beat people up.

Features

It is possible to take part in Exhibition style fights, and choose from the quite large selection of fights. These includes Last Man Standing, I Quite, Ladder Matches, TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs), Cage matches and of course the Hell in a Cell matches among others. The Hell in a Cell match is a huge cage that surrounds the ring, but the beauty of it is that the structure itself can be climbed and fights can take place on the top. This means that you can throw wrestlers off the cage and even send them through the ceiling to the ring inside. Over the years with past game releases the modes like Ladder matches, TLC and Hell in a Cell have gone through quite a few changes. Some years these modes have been annoying and the controls have been badly thought out, I was pleased to see that in WWE ’13 they definitely got it right.

A good example of this is the new Hell in a Cell approach, it’s easy to get onto the top and easy to throw people off and throw them through it, which means it’s fun. In previous years this has been toughened up to make it harder to do but the developers have gone back to the easier style with this and decided to bring back the fun. It does feel that a lot of work has gone into getting the controls right this year to work for the gamer instead of the game itself and this is a very welcome approach.

Added to all of this is of course the custom mode where you can create your own wrestler, their moves, style and even what they wear. This is fun if you have the time to put into it and you’ll find you can build any wrestler to your own personal taste. This mode has always been popular with fans of the game and it keeps up the standard in what they can achieve.

Verdict

The WWE shows are meant to be about “experience” about supporting a wrestler in a scripted fight and enjoying the story they tell. In WWE ’13 work has been done to really get back to the fun that the wrestling environment can be and bring it back to the gamer. Sometimes things don’t work, you’ll find yourself repeating moves a few times and the learning curve for newer players may be a little steep at times but after a few hours the comfort begins to push in and you’ll be pulling off all types of moves.

The wrestlers themselves and the arenas the fights take part in are well rendered on the screen with the wrestlers characteristics definitely giving the authentic feel that fans look for. There is also plenty of downloadable content promised in the future to keep fans happy, this includes added wrestlers so gamers will be playing this one for a while. WWE ‘13 is probably the best wrestling game THQ have released in a while, there are plenty of things that can still be worked on but for fans of the games this is probably a must buy.