Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sid Meier's Pirates!: Somali Buccaneers

Genre: Action/Adventure
Format: Most
PEGI: 12
Publisher: Neptune

Sid Meier Pirates Somali Buccaneers


I suppose that, in light of the ongoing worldwide news regarding these vibrant, Indian Ocean based rascals, this update of the classic Pirates! series was inevitable. The game has had some great reviews, so let's see if we can give it a big Jolly Roger, or have to make it 'walk the plank'.

The original Pirates! games were centered around the Caribbean during the golden age of pirates, this game is somewhat  limited by only featuring the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia (the feeding ground for these modern day 'black beards'). This reduction in the scope does not help the game. There are, however, lots of ports to choose from: Boosaaso, Berbera, Chisimayu, Merca and Mogadishu. These lovely places will soon become familiar to the ardent player.


Sid Meier Pirates Somali Buccaneers
Shiver me timbers, what a fine vessel!
Gameplay is similar to the classic games, except battling a US Destroyer in a dilapidated motor boat is quite a challenge and you are best to run to port, in true cowardly Pirate fashion, and demand an immense ransom.

Overall, not a bad game. I did miss the dancing, which was a major factor of the original games. Co-ordinating prayers to Allah is somehow just not the same...

VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 15 July 2011

Highways Agency Simulator

Genre: Simulation
Format: PC
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Excalibur


Cover


Ever wondered what it was like to wear a high-vis jacket and drive a gaudily decorated Highways Agency 4x4 around the UK's motorway network? No? Well this game is not for you. If you have, then you are in for a treat. Excalibur Publishing, purveyors of some of the most obscure simulation software ever imagined, have come up with a peach.


Sweep that glass up!
Sweeping up blood soaked glass, pulling over Eastern European lorry drivers just for chuckles, enforcing a 40mph speed limit because somebody threw a carrier bag on the carriageway - it's all here.


The game is so immersive, you'll be expecting a very poor salary at the end of the month and may well end up divorcing your wife.


VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Imagine: Pope

Genre: Simulation
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Ubisoft

Pope Game Nintendo DS Cover
Cover
Following titles in this series such as Imagine:Family Doctor, Imagine:Movie Star and Imagine:Master Chef, we should have expected the arrival of this game. After all, what young boy (or girl) hasn't, at some point, dreamed of being the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church?

This game allows youngsters to experience all aspects of the papacy, including: the issue of papal bulls, the proclamation of beatification, state visits and, perhaps most entertaining, dodging deranged assassins in the Pope Mobile.

Pope Game Screen Shot
Don't speed in the Pope Mobile

Graphically similar to the rest of the Imagine series, this game is entertaining but will probably only appeal to children of a Catholic persuasion.

VT Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Adventures of Beatie The Hat

Genre: God Knows
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Neptune




Beatrice Hat Sarah Ferguson Pippa Middleton Bottom
Cover
Based on the forthcoming childrens books, by cash whore Sarah Ferguson, comes this very average game.

Embittered by the missing invite to the Royal Wedding of Wills and Kate, Sarah created this series of books based on the appalling hat that her daughter, Beatrice, wore to 'that' wedding. 

Dubbed Beatie, this spiderlike Hat 'character' gets into a series of troublesome encounters aided by her best friend, Pippa (who, suspiciously, looks like a hovering backside)

It's good fun.

VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 13 May 2011

Fast & Furious

Genre: Racing
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 12
Publisher: Neptune


Fast-And-Furious-5-Game-Cover
Cover
Another movie tie-in...yawn.


Hang on a minute, this is no ordinary tie-in. It's much worse than that.




Fast-And-Furious-5-Game-Screenshot
Total Excitement
Neptune Studio's 'skilled' programmers came up with an idea, ran it up the flagpole, removed the flag and defecated all over it. This putrid canker sore of a game is the result.


Retailing at £39.99, we don't think it's really worth it. Wait a while and buy it used for £19.99.


VT Rating: 7/10





Monday, 9 May 2011

Navy Seals: Bloodbath in Abbottabad

Genre: Third Person Shooter
Format: PS3, Xbox 360
PEGI: 18
Publisher: A&E


Navy Seals: Bloodbath in Abbottabad
Cover
HBO had the TV film in production within 24 hours of the death of Osama Bin Laden. It will be shown on May 25th and we wait for it with baited breath.


You can't argue with the cast: Hugh Jackman and Matt Damon as members of the elite Navy Seal Team 6, Robert Downey Jr as Osama Bin Laden and Colin Firth as Barrack Obama. It sounds really good. However, the game is a different matter...


Now, many people are going to want to shoot Osama Bin Laden in the head themselves, albeit in a virtual environment, so you cannot blame A&E for rushing this game into production. You do get to deal the fatal blow to the terrorist leader, so this game delivers in that respect. Not in many others though.


Navy Seals: Bloodbath in Abbottabad
There he is! Kill him! KILL HIM!!!
Graphically, the game is generic. Shooting bad guys in poorly rendered corridors is the order of the day. Sound is, on the whole, woeful, but does boast some character voicing by the actors in the forthcoming film. Colin Firth as Obama, in the US Command cutscenes, is so bad he's good. Storyline, well you know what happened.


You might like this, we were not impressed.


VT Rating: 7/10

Monday, 2 May 2011

Burying Osama Bin Laden

Genre: Humour
Format: Mobile Phone
PEGI: N/A
Publisher: Kharma


Osama Bin Laden Buried at sea


An obviously hastily produced download for mobile phones, this app allows you to bury Osama Bin Laden in a variety of interesting ways.

It's just possible that Kharma had this application in production waiting for the inevitable(?) day when Bin Laden was killed by US forces. However, the graphics and production are simply woeful - design may have began about 7 hours ago.

If you think you might gain satisfaction from lowering the corpse of the recently deceased terrorist leader into a shark infested ocean or burying him in a rat infested cavern - then this 'thing' is for you.

VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Terror

Genre: Third Person Shooter/Real Time Strategy/Simulation
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC 
PEGI: 18
Publisher: A&E




The Terror Game Cover
Cover
The lengthy historical novel 'The Terror' by Dan Simmons, which proffers a fantastical and horrific slant on the doomed Franklin Expedition, is brought to vivid gaming life by 'Obscure Novel to Game Specialists', A&E. 


Centred mostly around the two ice bound ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, the game follows the novel quite closely. You monitor the running of the ships, controlling rationing and dealing with potential mutiny whilst  keeping one eye on the menace that lurks on the ice: The Terror itself.


The Terror (not the ship) is a huge, shaggy Polar Bear type thing that turns out to be a demonic creature from Eskimo mythology called the Tuunbaq. There is no killing this monster, so when you control a member of the crew who is being menaced by it you have to try to hide or escape rather than fight. However, if you can muster enough armed crew you can scare the beast off with musket and shotgun fire.




Ice Master Blanky and Tuunbaq
Ice Master Blanky Chased Into the Rigging by the Tuunbaq (double click to enlarge)


The game is a mix of Real Time Strategy (the movement of crew, rationing and discipline), Third Person Shooter (not much shooting, more running) and The Sims.


Ultimately, the game is let down by the depressing subject matter. The crews of both ships eventually die and the only survivor (in the novel and the game) is Captain Crozier who 'goes native' with the Eskimo girl who appears early in the game and turns out to be the Tuunbaq's keeper/nemesis.


VT Rating: 7/10



Friday, 15 April 2011

Thieves Like Us

Genre: Thievery
Format: Various
PEGI: Teenagers +
Publisher: Not Known
Logo
Strutting straight from the feverish nightmare of a tabloid newspaper editor comes this new, controversial and immediately very popular website.


Thieves Like Us (or TLU as it likes to refer to itself) is a criminal's dream. Burglars (and potential burglars) have to only enter a few questions about their location and thieving skillset to be presented with a selection of properties that match their ability level and desires. Utilising Google Maps, the website shows the frontage of the property and the rest of the information (ingress points, hazards etc) is supplied by users and displayed on subsequent screens.
TLU Homepage - click to enlarge
The 'target' properties are (supposedly) selected on the basis of a complex algorithm that searches the database of previously looted properties and matches them against your selected criteria and skill levels. The database of properties is, reportedly, constantly growing thanks to updates from users who have logged properties that they have either burgled or 'sized up'.


The website also boasts a thriving and vibrant Forum where all manner of criminal activities are discussed, from burglary to shoplifting. It's all here.


Thanks to advertising, the website is free to use. Sponsors include Aviva Home Insurance, Yale Locks and Chubb Security.


We cannot see why anybody would want to use such a website, but if you are interested, check it out: www.thieveslikeus.com.


VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 25 March 2011

Mission Creep

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Format: Various
PEGI: 18
Publisher: A&E


Cover
Most people will see this game as yet another Call of Duty clone. However, if you play the game, you will see that it has far less to offer.


You are Darryl Cameronian, head of a 'black ops -under the radar' type unit, who must rescue your friend Will Hagger from evil Librorians who have captured him.


Will Hagger Rescued?
The action is hectic and, sadly, generic; harking back to other games that were produced in 2003 and even in 2001.


Many people will want to buy this game, however, we at VT, cannot understand why anybody would want to.


VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 18 March 2011

SentinelVisage

Genre: Facebook Analysis
Format: Various
PEGI: N/A
Publisher: SentinelVisage


SentinelVisage's Website
Since Facebook first appeared, users have wondered who was looking at their Wall, their information, their photos - basically, who was stalking them. Facebook have always insisted on privacy for all; despite many failed attempts to circumvent this policy. Now, thanks to Dutch outfit SentinelVisage, you can find out who has been spending strange amounts of time examining your profile. 


The software is downloadable via SV's website (see link below). The basic version is free but the all singing, all dancing version will set you back £29.99. Is this worth the money? Read on...


Free Version Info Screen
SV insist that their programming does break into the Facebook code and monitor profile views of a given account. Our limited testing shows that this is indeed the case and the fact that Facebook have begun legal action against SV adds legitimacy to SV's claim.


The free version of the software gives very basic information about each of your friends ventures onto your profile. The paid for version goes into much more detail: graphs of profile viewing levels, amount of time spent on each page etc - an anti-stalking dream.


See what you think by downloading the software at: SentinelVisage.Com.


VT Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Séance

Genre: Simulation
Format: Xbox 360 (with Kinect)
PEGI: 18
Publisher: A&E




Cover
This has to be one of the strangest and most compelling uses of the bestselling Kinect device that we have seen so far. The warning on the cover of the game: 'Be Afraid', is completely justified if our experiences after reviewing this game are typical.


Game instructions state that you and up to three friends should set up a table in front of the TV, turn of the lights, place your hands palm down on the table, connect little fingers and get ready for the fright of your lives.


Some scary shit
The séance is conducted by the Xbox with a 'Medium' voice that is both eerie and hilarious in turn. You and your friends will be giggling like mad until the TV image of your little meeting shows that you have visitors from the astral plane. The sight of these entities lurking in a corner behind you or drifting across the table is quite disconcerting. 


After reviewing this 'game' we experienced some strange phenomena: doors closing by themselves, weird smells and red fluid pouring from our taps. We meet next week to discuss the need for an exorcist.


Play this game at your peril.


VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Jamie's Dream School

Genre: Simulation
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: A&E


Cover
Released on the day that Mr Oliver's new show is premiered on TV, this game puts you in the role of a number of 'celebrity' teachers who must attempt to enlighten classes full of rebellious inner city teens.

Historian, David Starkey, gets his class to re-enact
Chamberlain's 'Peace in our time' speech
A&E have outdone themselves with this surprising title. Gameplay is spot on and will hold the interest of most pre-school children. After all, who wouldn't want to play as Rolf Harris teaching art, Tinchy Stryder extolling the virtues of poetry or as Robert Winston encouraging young boys to masturbate into a test-tube?

We also like the cut-scenes where the cartoon version of Jamie Oliver has an enormous rubbery tongue. Makes you wonder whether Jamie actually sat down and played this game before he agreed to put his name to it?

VT Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Days of Revolution

Genre: Real Time Strategy
Format: PC
PEGI: 12
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios




Cover
This game seems somewhat rushed; the social unrest in the Middle East and North Africa began in December 2010 and here we are in February 2011 with the first game based on these unprecedented events. However, as RTS games go, this one is a peach. 


You play as the anonymous leader of protesters within your chosen country. All Arab nations are available for selection and they range in difficulty from Tunisia (very easy) to Iran (very difficult).


As leader of the desperate protesters you must gather your forces and take over the designated focal point of your chosen capital city. Once you have achieved this you must deal with hoardes of riot police, para-military, army and, in the Iran and Libya levels, airstrikes.


It's kicking off in Cairo
You have only a limited amount of time to achieve your goals and overthrow the various despots that confront you before the tide of local and Western opinion turns against you. Some despots, like Gaddafi (Libya) and Ahmadinejad (Iran), pose a greater threat than the others and are more likely to deploy deadly force against your democracy longing throngs.


Graphically, this game is nothing special and looks suspiciously like it's based on a much earlier RTS game about the planning of unrest in various cities... However, if you can get over the second-rate graphics you will be rewarded with a more than adequate gaming experience.


VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Paul: The Game

Genre: Arcade
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: A&E



Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are funny guys. Their movies and TV shows pay homage to and reference various pop culture phenomena. The game of their current movie is no exception.

What they have done (or allowed some programmer to do) is ported the old Atari ET: The Extra Terrestrial game to the Nintendo DS format and given it some flashy cutscenes (taken from the Paul movie).


However, the game is as fascinating and playable as it was on the Atari 2600, and you will be sniggering to yourself throughout as you marvel at how clever the Hot Fuzz boys really are. £27.99 is a small price to pay for this sort of ironic, postmodern genius.

VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 28 January 2011

Twitter VS Spam

Genre: Tower Defence
Format: Mobile Phone
PEGI: N/A
Publisher: PopCap






Twitter Vs Spam is an interesting, and rather pertinent, new release for mobile phones from PopCap. You play on the Twitter side and, in increasingly difficult levels, must place varieties of the "Twitter Bird" in different horizontal firing positions in order to defeat ever growing quantities of marching Spam tins.

The attacking tins cover the different varieties of Spam that are available: Bacon, Turkey etc. For some reason, Turkey is insanely difficult to destroy, even with the "acid powered" Twitter bluebird.

We like this game as it helps you destroy all the pain in the arse Spam on Twitter.

VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Long Walk

Genre: Real Time Strategy/Third Person Shooter
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC 
PEGI: 18
Publisher: A&E



Cover


Stephen King's cult 1979 novel (written under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman) is brought to vivid life in this new release by A&E. 

The designers have taken a huge gamble and place you in the role of "The Major" (the shady antagonist of the novel) rather than the walkers. This switch was probably essential as a 400 mile version of Daley Thompson's Decathlon would be hell on both fingers and controllers!

As 'The Major', you oversee the 'walk' and organise everything from monitoring 'warnings', distribution of food/water canteens and certain aspects of crowd control. You have a small team of soldiers and half-tracks at your disposal, which you must place in positions around the walkers where they will be able to monitor the contestants speed and ensure that none of them try to make a break for it into the woods or crowds of spectators (the crowds start non-existent and develop into massive, troublesome, throngs in later stages).




Trouble on the 'Road'
When a walker exceeds their 3 warnings and needs to be 'ticketed' (an in-game euphemism for brutal death) the interface switches to 'third person shooter' mode. In order to attain maximum points you must despatch the poor lad in as short a time as possible and remove the body before the 'morale' level of other walkers dips excessively and they feel inclined to make a break for it en masseThis horrific mode of play also kicks in when a member of the crowd (this includes children and, on one occasion that we saw, a dog) tries to interfere with the walk. It's a controversial part of the game (in a "Manhunt" sort of way) and, although it feels morally wrong, it is incredibly well presented - blood and brains fly everywhere - and it does fit with the tone of the novel.

The voice acting of the walkers, which can be 'tuned in' using your soldier's high-tech listening devices, follows the dialogue of the novel very closely and is provided by the likes of Tom Hanks (Garraty), Paul Sorvino (McVries) and Kevin Spacey (Stebbins) amongst other famous names. This all adds to the realism and user  involvement in the game.

The only let down for us at VT is the rather muddled interface in which all of this macabre fun is brought together. Controlling the soldiers is not as easy as we would like and the AI of the walkers is sometimes lacking.


VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 21 January 2011

Royal Wedding

Genre: Simulation (Dress Up)
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Deep Silver



Awww, so cute
With the Royal Wedding of balding William and Kate (of so many strange facial expressions) Middleton due on 29th April 2011 it was inevitable that a game would appear.


The proffered Nintendo DS title is a fairly standard 'dress up' game that would not stretch the intellectual abilities of your average 5 year old. We struggled to stay awake whilst playing it.


FFS give Kate some hair!
Pick the wedding outfits for both the betrothed and, for Kate only, give her a nice hairstyle. Unfortunately, there isn't a similar option for William - he will have to go with either his current wispy hairdo or a number 2 all over (we bet he doesn't go with this suggestion).


Anyway, good luck to the happy couple and, whatever you do, don't buy this game.


VT Rating: 7/10  

Foster and Allen: Folkband

Genre: Rhythm Game
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
PEGI: 12
Publisher: Harmonix



The Cover


Does the world need this game? Well, it's a small yes and a rather larger no.


Legends of Easy Listening Celtic music, Foster and Allen, are the latest 'band' to get their own Rhythm Game. All 783 album songs by the illustrious duo are available either within the game or as downloadable content. The game comes with acoustic guitar and accordion controllers.


Pretend to be Mick Foster with one of these.
The gameplay is exactly the same as every other rhythm game that has ever been produced (only much slower).


If you have ever wanted to strum a guitar to 'Bunch of Thyme' or fondle an accordion to 'The Mountains of Mourne', then this offering is for you. Everybody else: move along, nothing to see here.


VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Flight Simulator Drone Attack

Genre: Simulation, Action
Format: PC
PEGI: 7
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios


Cover
Ever wanted to drop a bomb on a secret Taliban meeting using a model aircraft? Now is your chance with the latest in the Flight Simulator franchise. Matching the actual flight procedures of the General Atomics MQ1 Predator as much as Article Three of the US Constitution will allow, Drone Attack is an enthralling simulation.


True to the reality of operating one of these deadly toys, you only have to control take off, landing and picking targets. The former two will not present a challenge to any aficionado of earlier entries in the franchise as the controls are pretty much the same as any standard aircraft. The real fun comes with the targeting.


These two are doomed...
Deciding who is an enemy when you only have grainy thermal/night vision image available is quite a challenge and the missions, probably mirroring real life, are quite vague.


All in all, deadly fun.


VT Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sid Meier's Recession

Genre: Turn-based Strategy Game
Format: PC
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Activision




Cover
Only the singular genius that is Sid Meier could make a game based on the current global recession anything other than a bad joke. His finesse and intelligent overseeing is evident in every screen of this powerful offering.

You are the leader of one of 100+ nations and must make the all important decisions that will either drag your country out of the mire or bury them even deeper. All of the economic, foreign and home choices are yours.

The game interface is intuitive and very similar to Civilization V. It feels good from the start and you will be dashing around the screens, trying to save your country from utter despair, in no time at all.

If you get to this - you're screwed
The 'riot' scenes are nicely presented. You will soon be crushing those demonstrators with any number of advanced crowd control devices that are available to countries that have resource managed in the right way.

The only let down about this game is that it makes you feel like killing yourself.




VT Rating: 7/10

Friday, 14 January 2011

Lady GaGa Karts

Genre: Racing/Rhythm Game
Format: Nintendo Wii
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Nintendo



Interesting stuff...
Imagine the scene. Nintendo executives appear at Lady Gaga's house (would she have a house, or does she live in a sort of avant-garde butchers fridge?).

"Ms Gaga, we would like to offer you $10,000,000 to put your name to an unlikely Nintendo Wii game where players, playing as you,  race rivals on go-carts to a studio and then sing several of your greatest hits. Interested?"


"Where do I sign?"


This, or something very much like it, must have happened because we now have the Wii game which promises much (well, not that much) and delivers only adequately.

You are Lady Gaga. You are in a race on the streets of New York. Your competitors are a number of real and imagined competitors of Lady Gaga. If they get to the studio first they will release the "new song" instead of you.

Hurry, little girl, Ke$ha is gaining!
The surreal action involves racing go-carts against the likes of Ke$ha, Christina Aguilera and Amy Winehouse. All of whom have a number of tricks up their sleeves, which readily appear in the race in order to force you off the road. The race itself is quite exciting and the Wii responds well to the wheel (included with some versions of the game). The bog standard rhythm based studio section isn't as exciting. 

Our advice - Lady Gaga, stick to 'singing'.


VT Rating: 7/10

The King's Speech

Genre: Simulation/Adventure/Education
Format: Nintendo DS
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Nintendo



Cover
You would have thought that The King's Speech, a historical drama movie about King George VI's struggle with a stutter, was the last movie that would generate a 'game tie-in'. You would be wrong. 

Nintendo, shrewd as ever, foresaw the Golden Globe nominations, Oscar buzz and growing cinema audiences  and bring us a game that they hope those throngs will be dashing straight from the cinema to buy. But will they?

The game follows the movie plot fairly closely. You must guide King George through a series of state occasions (starting with his speech before the Empire Exhibition in 1925) and sessions with Lionel Logue, his Speech Therapist. The better you play, the more points you get and the King's stutter becomes less pronounced. The final test is the 1939 radio speech given on the declaration of war with Germany. Mess this up and England is a laughing stock, succeed and the British Empire will defeat the Hun.

King George and Logue having a row
Essentially, the gameplay is just a matter of selecting the words that appear with the stylus as quickly as possible. However, there are some mini-games where the user must attempt to emulate the King's stutter (using the DS microphone) in order to win more 'Therapy Time'. These 'stutter tests' border on bad taste, but are quite fun.

So, will the mostly adult cinema goers be flocking to Game, Amazon and Gamestation to buy this game after attending their local Showcase or Vue? We highly doubt it.

VT Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Nigella Express

Genre: Simulation
Formats: Xbox 360 (with Kinect)
PEGI: 3
Publisher: Ubisoft



Cover Image

Utilising some (probably not all) of the power of the Xbox 360 Kinect, Nigella Express is the title that Ubisoft are hoping will create 'a stir' amongst more culinary inclined gamers. Food goddess, Nigella Lawson, has never put her name to a game before (unlike fellow celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, who had a forgettable foray in to the Nintendo DS world), but she will be hoping that a franchise can be built on this premise.

So, what is the premise? Well, it's pretty similar to the old DS favourite Cooking Mama. The player must complete a number of tasks, in an allotted amount of time, by mastering a number of bodily movements that correlate to certain cooking practices. These include: chopping, slicing, dicing, pouring and icing. Still awake?

Great Parsley chopping

This is Kinect, so extra points are awarded for more flamboyant movements (imagine Ainsley Harriott on acid) and the patented Nigella hair flick is also supported (don't overdo this as we found it caused a nasty system crash).

There are Single Player and Two Player 'Cook Off' options. 'Cook Off' reminded us of the TV programme, Ready, Steady Cook... quite good fun. There is also a sort of 'Campaign' mode where you must produce all of the recipes in the 'Nigella Express' book for them to be judged by a virtual Michelin inspector. This was quite difficult.

Graphically, the game is adequate and the on-screen movements work reasonably well with the Kinetic's motion tracking. Nigella is recreated in all her glory and children will like the 'dress up' option where they can change her clothes and hairstyle.

To sum up - thank goodness it wasn't a Jamie Oliver game.


VT Rating: 7/10

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Road

Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Nintendo DS
PEGI: 18+
Publisher: Rockstar


Nintendo DS Cover Art
The movie of Cormac McCarthy's seminal apocalyptic novel was released in January 2010 to a chorus of indifference. After almost a year we are being asked to get excited by the multi-platform release of the game based on The Road movie. You may wonder if excitement is possible.

The Road game has been held in 'design hell' since January 2010 due to creative differences between Cormac McCarthy and Rockstar. McCarthy had, apparently, always imagined the game of his novel to be purely Real Time Strategy. "I saw it as a cross between Empire Earth and Age of Empires." He told IGN. "I mean, the novel has RTS written all over it - two people, scavenging stuff, building things, making do. You know what I mean?".

Rockstar had other ideas.

What they have finally produced and released, much to McCarthy's disapproval (but grudging acceptance), is a Third Person shooter that blends Survival Horror with elements of RTS. This heady mix has its moments but the dilution of both genres serves to distance itself from hardcore lovers of either.

PS3 Screenshot
The bulk of the gameplay is reminiscent of Rockstar's previous efforts. The Man and The Boy (readers of the novel will understand the mechanics of this relationship) must fend off a series of adversaries and pitfalls before the (depressing/uplifting) climax is reached. Cut scenes are suitably dramatic, the grey and dismal landscapes of the novel/movie are faithfully reproduced, The Boy's constant cries of "Papa, Papa, Papa" when you wander away from him and the RTS mini-games are only slightly tedious.

What Cormac McCarthy made of the Harley Davidson, Rocket Launcher and Flame Thrower that The Man can obtain during the later stages of the game has not been reported.

VT Rating: 7/10 (PS3 version)