Stuart’s Entertainment Review July 2015 (Inc. WWE, UnReal, Nashville, N++, Rocket League etc)

August 4, 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of my Entertainment Review articles, but seeing as I’ve been playing plenty of games and watching a few different things on TV throughout the month of July, I thought I’d exhume the format.

TV

As you’ll know, most American TV shows run between September and May, with the US market seemingly believing that nobody watches TV during the summer.

However, you will get the occasional programme running almost unopposed around this time, and one such example of that is UnReal, which finished its first season last night.

A drama about the behind the scenes running of a reality TV show called Everlasting (which is basically The Bachelor), UnReal ‘exposes’ the reality format and captures not only how stage-managed everything that goes on in these shows actually is, but also the ruthless and selfish types of people both in front and behind the camera.

Whether I truly enjoyed it is something I’m not all that sure of. Yes, I watched every episode and it kept my attention, but I’m struggling to understand how it can go beyond a single season without retreading over old ground. Now we know that everyone involved is an arsehole and that the show will always be run a certain way, surely any new season would just be a repeat of what we’ve already seen.

What’s also interesting is that there isn’t really a single character in it who is likeable. Everyone is out for themselves and though they try to portray the main character Rachel (Shiri Appleby) as sympathetic, she’s arguably the biggest prick of the lot.

Viewers of Entourage and House of Cards watching this must also come to the conclusion that Constance Zimmer has managed to become typecast as the very niche character of ‘Single Minded Woman In The Media’.

Apart from UnReal, here’s what else I’ve been watching…

Nashville: I took a punt at watching Nashville on Sky On Demand after unsuccessfully trying to be interested in the dull as dishwater Ray Donovan, and I was surprised at just how enjoyable it is. Not only does it

Seriously, look at the size of her forehead.

Seriously, look at the size of her forehead.

have a wide range of characters who are all written with some amount of depth, but the storylines are also interesting and it’s all supported well by catchy tunes. And I previously didn’t even like Country music. I think the biggest surprise of all is that previously wooden actress Hayden Panettiere – who I thought ruined Heroes by the time I stopped watching – is actually really good in it. I’m currently on Season Two so I don’t know anything about the most recent episodes, but I’m in this for the long haul.

Under The Dome: When I reviewed the first season of Under the Dome, I took the view that it was shit, but I forgave it because it was so unintentionally amusing. When Season Two came out I gave up after about three episodes, but with the news that it’s on its final season this year, I went back and watched the rest of the second one. Wow, was that a mistake. Season Two of Under the Dome is shit, but it’s not unintentionally amusing, it’s just shit. I don’t really know where to begin. Is it the tenuous way a host of new characters managed to come into it despite the confines of the setting? Is it the terrible acting, not least from the girl with The Largest Forehead In The Universe? Is it that the new science teacher character  is written so one-dimensionally ‘sciency’ that she doesn’t come across as a genuine human being? Is it that the plot became so garbled and confusing that I honestly have no idea what it’s even about anymore? Is it that they have situations like Julia getting stabbed through the leg one week and only surviving her predicament by literally dying of hypothermia so her blood stopped pumping and then in the next week she’s running around with a bandage over her jeans and not even a hint of a limp? Or is it all of the above? I will finish Under the Dome, but only because I feel I’ve put in too much time for me not to. But it’s really shit, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother.

Out of the Unknown: Ok, so I was doing reviews of Out of the Unknown, but I’m throwing in the towel. But for one or two episodes, it was just really boring. I couldn’t face watching another one.

1997 Editions of WWE Raw: I’m a subscriber to the WWE Network, and despite the fact that it must not get as many subscribers as WWE clearly wants it to, I would say it offers fantastic value for money for any wrestling fan. But what it also does is serve as a reminder that in almost all ways, wrestling in 2015 is rubbbish compared to what I personally feel was its heyday, 1997. On the Network at the moment is every single episode of Raw from 1997 (and indeed I think it has everything from 1993 up until 2000) and I have been happily sitting through episode after episode from that year. With the exception of the athleticism of the wrestlers involved, everything about that era – from the recognisability of the wrestlers through to the quality of the storylines – was just so superior to what we’ve got now, it’s quite sad. Most wrestling fans will point to 1998 – the year the Attitude Era came into full swing and when WWE turned the tables on WCW – as the best of times, but not me.

There’s just something – and pardon the pun here – raw about 1997. In March of that year they moved to the new set and thetwo-hour format that the show is most synonymous with, and yet at the same time

Part of the appeal of the 1997 Raws is seeing incongruous stuff like Steve Austin squaring up to Gorilla Monsoon. Naturally, not one for taking shit off of people, Monsoon doesn't back down an inch. Legend.

Part of the appeal of the 1997 Raws is seeing incongruous stuff like Steve Austin squaring up to Gorilla Monsoon. Naturally, not one for taking shit off of people, Monsoon doesn’t back down an inch. Legend.

it feels a completely different era has been placed in that setting. Everything about the environment will remind fans of Austin vs McMahon, DX vs The Nation, The Undertaker vs Kane and everything else associated with Attitude, but for the most part, 1997 isn’t about that at all. There’s Vince McMahon on commentary, Gorilla Monsoon as the President who is not in the least bit intimidated by Steve Austin (who plays the heel for much of the time and is at his best at this point), voiceovers by Todd Pettengil and appearances by guys who you’d be forgiven for forgetting were still around, like Sid, The Patriot, Barry Horrowitz and The Honky Tonk Man.

The Hart Foundation storyline – and everything that came along with it – remains my absolute favourite wrestling storyline of all time. I said earlier that it felt raw, and this is the best example of it. Bret Hart’s attitude towards the way his character was no longer accepted as the hero in the US was genuine. His dislike for Shawn Michaels (and vice versa) was very real, and the exchanges between the two hit so close to the bone that with hindsight (especially knowing how Hart would be screwed at Montreal and forced out of the company) it makes for compelling viewing. There’s nothing they could do now that could touch this for authenticity.

Like I say, I believe 1997 is wrestling’s heyday. Every episode starts with a reprisal and ends with a cliffhanger, just like a good TV show should. It’ll never get this good again, but at least for $9.99 you can relive it and remember what it was like when wrestling was actually entertaining.

The Last Ship: Another show I’ve attempted to get hooked on is The Last Ship, but it’s failing to keep me interested. It’s just a bit corny and it’s difficult to take lead actors (Eric Dane of Grey’s Anatomy and Adam Baldwin from Chuck) seriously because of their past playing more comedic characters. Also, knowing that it was renewed for a second season which is currently airing just makes me think that the overall plot will just end up being stretched much further than it should.

Games

Meanwhile, I’ve been fairly busy on the gaming front as well. Here are some examples of games I’ve played over the last month.

N++ (PS4): Here’s a game I’ve been waiting to come out for years. The sequel to the Xbox 360 game N+, this was supposed to be released around the same time as the PS4, but the developers just kept holding it back and holding it back, Now this is a top game, and has a single player mode every bit as good and challenging as its predecessor, which came in at #8 in my Top 100 Games Of The Last Generation article series, but I won’t lie; I’m a little disappointed with it. One of the best parts of N+ was the ability to play online Co-Op mode with friends. That’s gone, and it’s a shame. The developers came up with a long-winded explanation for why they didn’t add it in, which seemed reasonable, but considering the game came out two years later than it should have and considering it’s not exactly inexpensive for a PS Store game at £15, I just don’t have much sympathy for them or their ‘woe is us’ excuses. All I know is that if the games developer I work for released a game two years late and with expected features missing, we’d be slaughtered.

Rocket League (PS4): Contrast N++ to Rocket League, which came free with July’s PS Plus membership and has been accepted with open arms around the world. Yes, I totally accept the difference between

Looks great, plays great. Fantastic.

Looks great, plays great. Fantastic.

one developer getting support from Sony and another having to go it alone, but Rocket League doesn’t come with a sob story attached (N++ literally does have a sob story which you can click on on the main menu). A simple concept of rocket fueled cars playing football, it’s fast, furious, frustrating and fun. And you can play it online with your friends, not just on the PS4 but on the PC too, which is a breakthrough in cross-platform gaming as far as I’m concerned. My only problem with it is that sometimes struggles to cope with my network connection and can be a tad laggy when playing online. Still great though.

Splatoon (Wii U): I love Nintendo, but I’m going to go against the grain here and say I don’t find Splatoon as enjoyable as I think I’m supposed to. I should love it; it’s bright and colourful, it’s a Nintendo game and it gets fantastic reviews from all corners, but there’s just something about it I struggled with. It felt samey and the controls were a bit awkward. Plus, more than the likes of Call of Duty, I felt that the weapons that more experienced players had unlocked made it nigh on impossible to triumph against with the entry-level options. I’ll try to give it another go, but it feels a bit disappointing to me.

Kirby And The Rainbow Paintbrush (Wii U): I was also surprisingly disappointed by this game, but for a different reason. Kirby is challenging and does what it’s supposed to well enough. It’s never going to be as good as a Mario game but it provides you with a few hours of solid platforming fun. The thing is though it has a huge design flaw; while it looks fantastic, you get no chance to actually enjoy how it looks because the need to use the touch screen on the Wii U Gamepad the entire time. This means that you don’t get a chance to lift your head up to actually see the beautiful graphics on your expensive 55″ TV screen. Madness.

The Secret of Monkey Island 2 – LeChuck’s Revenge (Xbox 360): First released in the late 80s/early 90s heyday of LucasArts adventure games, Monkey Island 2 is regarded by many as one of the all time great games. I take issue with this. It’s amusing and it has been lovingly remastered to look swish on the 360, but I just don’t see the point in a game that you can’t complete without reading a walkthrough. Now you might come to me and say “Stuart, maybe you’re just not clever enough to work out some of the puzzles” but I’d argue that point. Maybe I’m not, but maybe it’s that these games were designed with the post-purchase money-spinner of getting players to phone up hotlines or buy guidebooks to get help finding solutions to these puzzles? Maybe also people had a greater tolerance to devoting time to thinking about all the possible tenuous ways to complete some of the more obscure brain teasers? But put it this way; there’s a puzzle where to get money you have to get a job. To get the job you have to get the cook in the pub sacked. How do you do this? You’ve got to pick up a rat. How do you pick up a rat? You have to pick up a cheese puff, a piece of string and stick and add them all together to create a trap with a cardboard box that’s sitting in a corner in the same screen as the rat. Without any hints, how is anyone supposed to conclude that’s what you have to do to move on? People who have too much time to think most likely.

Professor Leyton and The Miracle Mask (3DS): Speaking of puzzles, the Leyton games are famous for their brain teasers that require actual thought and cognitive reasoning. And that’s fantastic. The Leyton games however are also famous for being absolutely bogged down in layer upon layer of uninteresting storylines that you have to sit through before getting to the next puzzle. I suppose without the storyline the game would feel utterly bare-bones, but for me the puzzles are the only interesting part, so it made it a real struggle to get through it.

TwoDots (Android): My current go-to game for a quick fix is TwoDots, a sort of Bust-a-Move/Zookeeper/Candy Crush affair available on mobile platforms. It’s good, but success is entirely random. Sometimes the way the dots fall (you have to link up the same colours to clear them) means there’s just no way you can complete a level in the required moves while other times it just falls into place easily. After a while you realise there’s no skill involved. I’m guessing this is a deliberate ploy to sell in-app purchases like extra lives and weapons. You can do well without them of course, but you just need that little bit of patience. It’s free and it’s fun, but my advice is to keep calm and avoid paying out for these extras.

Assuming I remember, I’ll be back with more next month!

Calls to Action

Remember to…

a) Like Stuart Reviews Stuff on Facebook or Twitter

b) Read about my books – focussing on reviews of Doctor Who from the very beginning – here

c) If you appreciate my sense of humour, go ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 

 

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Games: One Finger Death Punch Review

December 17, 2014

I’m all for variety in gaming, and having finished off the AAA title Far Cry 3 last weekend, I decided my next game should be something completely different.

So I took a look at my Steam Library to find a game I’d bought and not played yet (and believe me, there are plenty of them), and decided to try The Last Tinker: City of Colors, and when that turned out to be guff, I put on One Finger Death Punch instead.

One Finger Death Punch Review: The Statistics

Platform: PC (also available on Xbox Indie Games)
Game Type: Minimalistic Combat
Theme: You play as a ninja who must repel constant waves of attack to his left and right.
Scores: Full marks across the board, with the game getting ratings no lower than 9/10 in most places.

One Finger Death Punch Review: My Thoughts

In direct contrast to the sometimes over-complicated and drawn out nature of AAA gaming titles, One Finger Death Punch is simple, easy to play (yet hard to master) and 100% fun.2014-12-16_00001

With only two buttons – X to punch enemies on your left and B to attack the ones on your right – it’s a game that anyone can get the hang of with practice, but the key to it is that it has depth.

Rather than being a button mashing game, as the difficulty level increases and the variety of enemies and styles of attack change (for example, some enemies need to be hit more than once to die, while others will require a combination of X and B button taps to defeat) it becomes an exercise in concentration and skill. Missing your target and not hitting the button at the right time leaves you open to losing your own health, so you have to be careful.

And I love that sort of thing. No, it didn’t take me long to polish off the Student levels (there are harder options where enemies attack faster and in greater numbers) but I thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted and it gave me more than enough bang for my buck on that single play-through.

And should I choose to, I can go back and replay it all over again without feeling like I’ve been there and done that already.

So with that said, if you have Steam or an Xbox 360, then you should absolutely give it a go.

You won’t regret it.

 

 


Stuart’s Top 100 Games of the Last Generation Part Nine: #40 – 31

January 10, 2014

#40 – Candy Crush Saga (Facebook, 2012)Crush

I had thought about not including Candy Crush Saga because of the platform it originated on, but that wouldn’t be fair.

Incredibly frustrating and totally addictive in equal measures, Candy Crush Saga is one of those simple ideas (it’s just a variation on Zookeeper after all) that will have made a frightening amount of money.

And you wish it was you who thought of it first.

#39 – Sudoku Free (Android, 2011)Sudoku

Perhaps an odd choice for inclusion, but Sudoku Free is my go-to game whenever I’m stuck somewhere with just a mobile phone to hand.

I only got into Sudoku during the last generation of games as well.

It’s all very simple, but if you play a hard/expert level game, an hour flies by in an instant. Perfect for a long haul flight.

#38 – Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii, 2006)WiiSports

Easily one of the best games ever to come with a console, Wii Sports was, and will always be the most apt use of the Wii’s technology.

For me and my friends, it was always – and still is – about Wii Bowling rather than the likes of golf or boxing.

What it did more than any other game was welcome non-gamers to the industry.

A classic.

#37 – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (Playstation 3, 2007)Uncharted_Drake's_Fortune

There weren’t that many reasons to get a Playstation 3 if you already had an Xbox 360, but Drake’s Fortune was one of them.

It and its sequels were engrossing and well designed games that told a story that I was actually interested in seeing.

And that’s quite rare.

#36 – Hidden In Plain Sight (Xbox Live Arcade, 2011)hidden in plain sight

Yes, yes, this generation sucks for off-line multiplayer; I’ve said that many times now.

But games like Hidden In Plain Sight – a title with a handful of addictive mini games that work exclusively as multiplayer – deserve all the credit in the world for trying to keep the genre alive.

It’s great fun and it’s so simple, but its only drawback, ironically, is that it doesn’t have online multiplayer.

Thus proving I’ll never be happy with anything.gow3

#35 – God of War 3 (Playstation 3, 2010)

Another top PS3 exclusive, God of War continues to impress, despite essentially having the same story every time. Mind you, so do the Mario Games.

Here’s hoping for another instalment in this generation.

#34 Crackdown (Xbox 360, 2007)Crackdown

Crackdown is a game I would consider as being one of the most underrated of the generation.

A free roaming, GTA style game in the future where you play through it in any order you want (you could go after the “Final Boss” first for example) I found it a highly enjoyable experience.

The followup was also a top effort

Pity the developers have gone bust

#33 – Portal 2 (Xbox 360, 2011)portal

Portal is a brilliant idea for a game, and while the original was fun, it was also maybe a little bit short.

The follow-up was even better.

Requiring the player to actually think about how the puzzles would be solved, it was challenging and enjoyable.

I liked the humour too, but I could understand if that wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

#32 – Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360, 2011)MassEffect2

Epic in scale and a rare example of a game where the choices you make actually matter, Mass Effect 2 is one of the most in-depth games I’ve ever played.

Absolutely no replay value of course, but great all the same.

I need to play Mass Effect 3 one of these days.

#31 – DiRT 2 (Xbox 360, 2010)Dirt_2_box_art

Bizarrely, Microsoft’s own RalliSport Challenge failed to make the transition to the 360, but in the Colin McRae DiRT series, it had a worthy successor.

Challenging, well handled and visually impressive, DiRT is one of the top driving games of the generation.

And One That Doesn’t Make It: Halo 4

Like I just said in my Entertainment Review of 2013, I found Halo 4 to be deeply disappointing.halo4

It was the same-old same-old but it also managed to be stupidly difficult in parts.

Even playing online Co-Op didn’t help.

Seeing as I’m off the Microsoft products in this generation, it could be the last I’ll see of it


Stuart’s Top 100 Games of the Last Generation Part Seven: #65 – #56

December 13, 2013

#65 Sega Superstars Tennis (Xbox 360, 2008)

tennis

Apart from local multiplayer, do you know what this generation lacked? It lacked fun and simple versions of Sports games.

The Nintendo Gamecube and Nintendo 64 were first class for games like the “Mario” versions of Tennis, Golf, Baseball and Soccer, but sadly – but for one example later in the list – none of them made their way to the Wii.

Meanwhile, over on the Xbox 360, we made do with the Sega games, and one such example was Sega Superstars Tennis.

Now like I said in the previous entry, tennis games are a bit samey, but what sets this above the likes of Top Spin and Virtua Tennis is that it’s cartoony simplicity often made it a more enjoyable game to play.

#64 Risk Factions (Xbox Live Arcade, 2011)RISK-Factions_XBLAboxart_160w

Just like Monopoly Streets, Risk Factions brought a classic board game to our screens.

Apart from being a better board game in my opinion, Factions also added a nice twist to the tried and tested Risk formula, with tweaks to the gameplay and ways to win.

It also has an easy but fun single player mode too.

Well worth your time.

#63 – Monkey Island Remastered (Xbox Live Arcade, 2009)Secret-of-Monkey-Island_XBLA

Though this is just an old game remade to look better and have character vocals, it still deserves its place in the list.

I don’t think I’d ever gone to the trouble to complete Monkey Island before I played it on the 360, but I enjoyed it.

Having said that, it’s not the best point and click adventure game out there, despite what shows like Charlie Brooker’s “How Video Games Changed The World” suggests.

Give me Day of the Tentacle any day.

#62 – Stick Stunt Biker (Android, 2011)ssb

Like I said in Part Six, as good as Trials HD is, there’s a far simpler version of the game that it a lot better.

And that is Stick Stunt Biker.

One of these games that you can play anywhere on your phone, for a quick 30 second blitz or for hours on end, Stick Stunt Biker is a lot of fun.

But it’s also frustrating. It can be difficult, and unlike Trials HD, there are no checkpoints; you mess up right before the finish line, you have to start all over again.

That just makes completing the tough levels all the more satisfying.

#61 – Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360, 2o07)katamari

While Beautiful Katamari isn’t much of a departure from the original Japanese PS2 games, it still stands on its own merits.

Using only the left and right control sticks, your aim is essentially to roll up as many things in a ball as possible.

Now that might sound like a silly idea, but silly ideas are the basis for many of the best games ever made.

There’s just something wonderfully relaxing about starting off as a 1 inch ball and ending up with one so big that it engulfs the entire universe.

And it’s got a couple of superb pieces of incidental music too.

#60 – Words With Friends (Various, 2010)wwf_logo2

I had thought about not including Facebook games, but since my first experience with Words With Friends was using my phone, and since I’ve included other phone games on this list, it deserves to be here.

Taking Scrabble and making it portable so you can play online against friends anywhere on the globe using your phone, tablet or PC is ingenious.

The only problem with it is that people cheat.

And there’s no way of proving it.

So ultimately it just gets a bit tiresome.

#59 – 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character (PS Vita, 2011)RotatingOctopusTitle

Though this came out in 2011, I only recently got into it having downloaded it for free as part of my PS Plus membership.

This is what gaming should be, in my opinion.

Developers can spend so much time on making games look amazing, and so little time on making them enjoyable to play (*cough* GTA *cough*).

2d Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character looks like a NES game and it plays like it too, but that’s a compliment.halo reach

A throwback to simple-yet-challenging and charming gaming, it’s tough, but absorbing.

#58 – Halo Reach (Xbox 360, 2010)

This should have been the end of the story for the Spartan crew, but alas it wasn’t.

A tough, impressive looking single player game with what I thought was a satisfying conclusion; it did was many of the previous Halo games didn’t do, in that it added a bit of variety in location and enemies.

The multiplayer stuff was crap though.bioshock

#57 – Bioshock (Xbox 360, 2007)

When it first came out, Bioshock felt like a real step forward in gaming graphics.

Moreover, it looked different; the setting and atmosphere had a real freshness about it.

And above and beyond that, as limited as the game was in play time, and though it had no replay value whatsoever, it was still a well told story with strong gaming mechanics.

If only they’d left it there…

#56 – Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360, 2009)arkham

While I don’t usually like grim-looking games, Arkham Asylum is an exception.

And indeed it’s an exceptional game on the whole, with varied gameplay and interesting and familiar enemies to face.

Writing about it reminds me that I need to play the sequel. One of these days…

And One That Doesn’t Make It…

BioShock Infinite (Xbox 360, 2013)

I just don’t get the hype about Bioshock Infinite.bioshockinf

People loved it; it got top marks all over the internet and was touted as 2013’s Game of the Year.

Eh?!

Sure, it looked good, but it just wasn’t fun. It’s like they’d taken the original Bioshock, stripped most of the interesting stuff from it and lazily tried to extend the brand.

For me, the combat mechanics were dreadful, and it was one of these games that gave the impression that you had this amazing open world to travel through, but the reality of the situation was you were moving in exactly the direction they wanted you to.

Utterly boring and a waste of time.

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Stuart’s Top 100 Games of the Last Generation Part Six: #70 – #66

December 11, 2013

#70 – Bit Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien  (PC – 2013)btr

From the same sub-genre of the side scrolling platformer as Food Run, Runner 2 is a game where the character is constantly moving and your job as the player is to get him past a series of increasingly difficult obstacles, whether it be by

jumping, sliding, crouching or shielding.

I found the gameplay challenging and more-ish, and where it really hit the spot for me was in the bright, colourful and well realised graphics.

A steal at £5 in the Steam Sale.

What a stupid name for a game thoughHeavy_Rain_Cover_Art

#69 – Heavy Rain (PS3, 2010)

There weren’t too many reasons to play the PS3 – especially if you had an Xbox 360 – but Heavy Rain was one of them.

Much like The Walking Dead, this is an interactive story, but unlike The Walking Dead, you feel as though what you do makes a difference.

And there’s more to it as well in terms of actually playing the game rather than just watching cut-scenes.mono

#68 – Monopoly Streets (Xbox 360,  2010)

It’s Monopoly for your console, plain and simple.

If you like the board game, you’ll like this, and what’s more, it allows you to play on your own or with friends.

Plus there’s none of that crap where you’ve lost any of the pieces or a bad loser ends up flipping the board over and storms off in a huff.

#67 – Top Spin/Virtua Tennis (Xbox 360)TS3

A tennis game is a tennis game.

They’ve been the same for years.

Oh sure, you can get a bad tennis game – like for example the painfully average variation in GTA5 – but the likes of Top Spin and Virtua Tennis have been providing quality court action for years. The versions that came out in 2008 are essentially the same games as the ones that game out in 2005 and 2013, just with different graphics.

To me, there’s nothing to separate them, and so I have them as a tie.

#66 – Trials HD (Xbox Live Arcade, 2009)Trialshd

I’m sure lots of you will be miffed at how low this is on the list – I know my brother will be – but while I enjoy Trials HD, I don’t find it quite as good as the majority seem to.

No doubt it’s very deep – for those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a side scrolling BMX game where you must get to the end of a course, often involving ridiculous jumps or climbs – but I found the visuals to be a bit samey and the online multiplayer to be lacking in much substance.

It’s good, challenging fun though with a steep difficulty level. To get to the end of Trials HD is to feel as though you’ve achieved something.

There’ s a certain irony though that as in-depth as Trials HD is, a far simpler variation on the theme will appear in my next article.

Still, it’s a lot better than…

One That Doesn’t Make It: Joe Danger

I should prefer Joe Danger to Trials HD because it’s everything I like in terms of colour etc, but the gameplay just left me cold.

I feel as though I’m blind to what everyone else can see in it.


Stuart’s Top 100 Games of the Last Generation Part Five: #75 – #71

November 25, 2013

#75 – Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbox 360, 2010)nfshp

The racing game genre, I think, has suffered in this generation.

If you want to play a four player racing game on the Xbox 360 there really are very few options.

And racing games to me are mostly ones that you’d want to play competitively with friends.

So going back to the previous generation, one of my favourite games was Rallisport Challenge. And though there are games that capture its spirit that will appear further down this list, none had multiplayer for more than two players.

One game that managed to be fun as a single player affair though was Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. Channeling the Burnout spirit more than a Rallisport game, it was fun, challenging and it looked great too.HFGM

#74 – Hasbro Family Game Night (Xbox 360, 2009)

This is one that doesn’t need much in the way of a description.

Essentially it’s a selection of Hasbro board games like Risk, Boggle, Uno and Connect Four.

Not exactly deep, but a fun game to play with your mates when you’ve got a bit of time to kill.

Sadly in the UK we didn’t get Scrabble though.

That sucked…

#73 – The Stanley Parable (PC, 2013)

I was going to include Candy Crush Saga in this list as #73, but I don’t think it counts as a game of this generation since it’s a Facebook game.

Then I realised I’d forgotten about The Stanley Parable, and that does count, so it gets in instead.SPar

I wrote my review of The Stanley Parable only a few weeks ago, and you can read it here.

What I said was that it wasn’t worth £10 because of the lack of play-time and it wasn’t deserving of the 5 Star reviews it was getting.

However, it’s still a fun, unique and enjoyable game while it lasts and is a worthy candidate for the list.

#72 – Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360, 2013)GTAV

I appreciate that GTAV is a big game.

And for a while I enjoyed the single player game, but I did get a bit sick of it towards the end.

There’s no doubt that its style over substance, and is a triumph of marketing over quality, as I mentioned here

But – unlike the incredibly dull GTA4 – it’s still good enough to merit inclusion.

#71 – Flatout: Ultimate Carnage (Xbox 360 – 2007)flatout

Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is by no means the best game in the world.

But it’s like I’ve said before, even in this very article; this generation’s lack of quality offline multiplayer games is staggering.

Burnout never made the transition properly to the current gen, and so its main selling point – Multiplayer Crash Mini Games – was lost. Only Flatout: Ultimate Carnage even made the slightest bit of effort to fill the gap.

Indeed, with its turn-about gameplay style, Flatout is a rare example of a game you can enjoy with a whole party of friends.

It came out in 2007 and though it’s not the greatest of games, I’d still happily play it today.

But that’s more of a sign of a lack of alternatives than anything else I fear.

And One That Doesn’t Make It – Forza Motorsportforza-3-xbox-360-box-art

I have a driver’s license. If I want a realistic driving experience, I’ll pick up keys and go out in the car.

Forza Motorsport is no more fun than that.

For car enthusiasts it might well be an enjoyable experience; I mean, I doubt those who are not keen on the beautiful game would appreciate Football Manager.

So maybe its just not for me. I thought it was garbage.

Indeed, it’s a very rare example of a game I traded in. The guy in Gamestation – yes, once upon a time I did go to high street game shops – gave me this baffled look as to why I’d return this supposedly amazing game within a week.

I was happy to take the hit on the trade-in.


Stuart’s Top 100 Games of the Last Generation Part Four: #80 – #76

November 19, 2013

#80 – Shadow Complex (Xbox Live Arcade, 2009)1-shadow-complex-01

Billed as “2.5d”, Shadow Complex was a side-scrolling adventure platformer/shooter that came out as part of Xbox Live’s incredibly strong “Summer of Arcade” back in 2009.

Think of a game of the ilk of Super Metroid or Castlevania, but with a more modern story. That’s Shadow Complex.

With an interesting narrative, a reasonable challenge and fluid gameplay, it was as if you were getting a full price game for a superb bargain at the time.

#79 – Peggle (Xbox Live Arcade, 2009)peggle

Yet another Live Arcade hit, Peggle – from Plants vs Zombies creator PopCap – felt a bit like Bust-a-Move in reverse.

The idea was simple; you had to shoot a ball at one hundred randomly positioned pegs in the hope of hitting the orange ones.

As the game developed, hitting the orange pegs rather than the blue ones became more of a challenge and an exercise in physics. I suppose that’s why it’s considered a puzzle game.

No doubt you can get Peggle on the cheap these days, and it’s also available through Steam.

#78 – The Walking Dead (Xbox Live Arcade, 2012)WalkDead

Running completely separate from the TV show, the Walking Dead was an adventure game told over five episodes, with its own narrative.

You can read my in-depth thoughts on it here but to sum it up, I would say that it was well told and highly involving, but more of an interactive story than a game.

As enjoyable as it was, I felt that the idea that you could change the destiny of the story wasn’t really true.

Had a fun time playing it though!

#77 – Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (Playstation 3, 2007)toolsofdestruction

Sadly there are far less 3D platform games on this list that there should be.

A major part of the previous couple of gaming generations, the 3D platformer is almost extinct now, with developers mostly preferring to go back to the more linear 2D style.

One rare example of a game that does make the list is Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, one of the early PS3 games.

It looked good, it was fun to play and it had plenty of life in it, but it just didn’t have the character that you used to get from the Rare or Nintendo efforts from the N64 era. It’s a bit like going to a theme park like Busch Gardens. The fundamentals are there, but the lack of charm is its undoing.

#76 – Boom Blox (Nintendo Wii, 2008)BoomBlox

Remember when the Wii was the must have living room accessory? Well Boom Blox was one of the reasons for that.

Ok as a single player but great fun when playing with friends, this was a bit like Jenga. You used the Wii-mote to launch something at a tower to knock the highest scoring block away, but you also had to be wary of simply setting the block up for your friends to capitalise on.

It looked a bit crap, and would probably seem out of date now, but it was fun at the time and made use of the Wii’s motion controls well.

And One That Doesn’t Make The List: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (Xbox Live Arcade, 2013)Call-of-Juarez-Gunslinger-logo

One game I tried to get involved in earlier this year was Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, a first person shooter told from the perspective of a bloke who claimed to have met all the major players in the Wild West.

But the reason a game like this doesn’t make the list is because it just felt light, derivative and on the whole just an unimaginative bore to play through.

Best avoided.