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Ninja Gaiden: Sigma 2
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Isn't it great when something surpasses your expectations!? I've played NG2 on the 360 when it was released all that time ago and was suitably impressed then. The wait though has been more than worth it and PS3 owners can breath a hefty sigh of relief knowing that they have a version of the game vastly superior to the last!
Ninja Gaiden has always had the reputation of being brain blazingly hard yet here the difficulty has been refined so those of you that are new to the franchise can still pummel your way through and for those god like button mashing geniuses out there, the harder modes will test your resolve like never before! Graphically it's a little better than the 360 release, sounds are the same (and still excellent!) but where the real bonus comes is the extra content and more appropriate level design. Gone are the times you had to look for keys or save your pennies for the ever awesome weapon upgrades, now it's taken the progressive route which suits the games type much better leaving your cash in your wallet until you really need that health boost (and you will!).
There are a wider assortment of enemies for you to chop into little pieces and some of the very irritating moments of the Xbox version have been dropped or totally re-worked making this much more of a joy to play.
Personally, I love all the ideas of Japanese stories in video games and this is one another step up to greatness! In addition to the staggeringly incredible single player campaign (now with added female characters and extra levels!) is the challenge modes and now you can go online and play through bonus missions with some one else in co-op, brilliant stuff!
I only have two minor complaints though, firstly, as great as the online co-op is, it would've been even more enjoyable with split screen or campaign mode co-op play and most disappointing of all, the gore?! Where has it gone? Ok so it's still hyper-violent but the Xbox version just loved to shower the screen with body parts and gallons of blood, sorry if that sounds a bit masochistic but I thought that was a great feature of a great title, so why remove it? I'm sure there's a reason in there somewhere but I fail to see the point of taking out such blood soaked fun, now you get purple mist and green goo (and a bit of blood).... However! Do not take this out of context, I initially thought this would really put a downer on the gameplay but to be honest, there is so much fun to be had here that after a few moments of play I totally forgot and was thoroughly enjoying dancing through the air like a ballerina overdosing on M+M's waving all manor of awesome and exotic weapons at anything else with a pulse, sensational entertainment!
So in all, after those two rather pathetic quibbles, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a pure joy to play, fluid, fast, satisfying, re-playable and never before has anything so inspired me go outside and backflip everywhere juggling with swords, scythes and flails! This rebuilt version of the game is simply better in every way and definitely worth the time of even the most sceptical hack 'n' slash critic!
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2 Discs)
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Being a fan of the original movies I was a little nervous about this and rightly so after the final scene ended, the credits rolled and I decided to warn other hopeful Indy fans not to destroy their fond memories of a brilliant trilogy.
I will be fair though, this isn't terrible, it's just a blatant cash in for the franchise, there is some promise to the story but it get's to bogged down in stupid one liners, out of place action moments and as everyone else mentioned, Aliens!
I can understand the reasons why Shia Le Beouff was brought in, a new face, more to the side story and an actor in the movie under 60!
To watch this as a stand alone movie is acceptable and passes as a moderate adventure film, however to slap this mess in the same catagory as the first three title is a tragedy, it does not come close to them sadly!
Now we still get iron fists smashing glass jaws and ridiculous over the top action moments but that made the first movies memorable and exciting, by trying to keep the same pace here the action scenes go to far, for example: Swinging on vines through the jungle and catching up with a car chase, erm? Ray Winstons character gets very frustrating though any acting issues I felt are forgiven when Kate Blanchet gets on camera as the typical Indy baddie, over the top single minded bad dudes shape these movies and she fits the bill very well.
I know it sounds like I've lynched the whole film but that's simply a result of being so dissapointed by it, I went into the theatre with no high hopes thinking that I would at least come out satisfied, however the opposite occured and I realised that I'd spent most of the film counting my teeth with just my tongue!
I don't belive there's much point advising others to stay away as the name of the film is going to grab anyone regardless. It may be your thing, you may love it but be warned, this is not the same movie your used to. It's cliched, pointless, badly written, poorly executed and sadly does not deserve to come with a hundred miles of the Last Crusade, a real shame as what could've been such a terrific film instead gave movie goers an excuse to get up and leave the theatre.
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I'll start by informing you that I'm not new to the Sandbox genre, infact having tried and tested quite a lot I approach them these days with caution and a distinct preparation to be dissapointed after a few hours play.
After at least 6 hours I found I'd forgotten to eat, drink or sleep as I got very drawn into the nightmarish world that lay beneath my feet. Infamous is quite simply, fantastic! I don't like handing out merits so I'll give the reasons why I'm so chuffed first.
Ok so movement, ridiculously fluid and simple to master, scaling buildings is awesome fun, fast and frantic. The protoganist sticks to surfaces like glue eliminating the need for trial and error gameplay and giving you sense of being utterly in control of every little movement undertaken. Visuals, now a touchy area this as many have said they think Infamous (IF) looks naff, I'm a bit confused as it thrashes the underpants off GTA in terms of detail and lets remember it's a sandbox environment so visuals arent going to be in the same lines as Killzone2 but for the theme of the title, they look brilliant! Length, having sat down for over 7 hours in total now and I'm still playing about on the first location so there is a lot to do here depending on if you wish to suck every last drop out of the game, side quests, collectables and the main story will you keep you busy for some time. IF also sounds great, sure the main character sounds like your typically voiced hero/bad-guy with his chainsaw accent but who cares?! You'll be having such a stupid amount of fun laying waste to or rebuilding the world that you'll hardly notice...
...Though all this isnt to say it's completely a slice of deep fried gold! For what IF has to it's credit can also be it's undoing, this will again depend somewhat on you. Like I said earlier, movement is simple and sticking to surface is a godsend, or is it!? Being able to hug any structure brings it's own problems, if you want to be hurrying down a building you'll find yourself clinging to every ledge in sight meaning restarts for time based missions can be common. Combat, though simple is...Yep too simple, press square to kick, punch or zap any enemy to death is great but dosen't demand any skill. Occasional hidden walls can boot you out of missions if you stray a bit to far when your trying to be creative. Final moan coming up! the good and evil system, this seems to be the same no matter what game we all see it in. No matter what choice you make the outcome and method of getting to it will paint you as god's right hand man or the vermin that lurks behind Satan's toilet bowl! Not always a bad thing but there aren't any in-between choices that shape you more appropriately to your play style.....
....But!! If we wanted realism we would put a copy of Shenmue in our dusty Dreamcasts and remind ourselves just how mind numbingly boring complete realism is. Here you can jump of skyscrapers and land with the grace of a skydiving balet proffesional, take on a huge horde of bad guys and blast them straight back to Narnia with a lightning display that would make the Darkside of the Force look lame! You can vault from stupid high building to stupid high building or park bench without so much as a sprained ankle and it's nearly as cool as the first time we all saw Optimus Prime transform, yes I'm not kidding! All the baddies look and sound very similar but you'll be turning them into charred crisp packets faster than you can say National Grid so do we really care? No!
Ok then so, Infamous is a genuinely awe inspiring video game. Messing about is just as much fun as going through the story. For mindless escapism this is sure to be a contender for the rest of the year. A masterpiece!
Resident Evil 5
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After almost endless delays the stupidly hyped Resident Evil 5 has come knocking on our doors! Was it worth it? Honestly... Of course it was, no matter how many growing numbers preceed the title this franchise is always going to have a huge following. Not because we're all jumping on the wagon like a dog missing it's masters leg, but because Resident Evil is a great game and hopefully it always will be though there are a few things that I'm going to be brutally honest about as it isn't all good news and I'm a devote fan!
Be prepared to grind your teeth with frustration at the irritating aiming system, I think it's safe to say we're all getting fed up with having to be glued to the spot whilst lifting a gun! Why on earth the developers thought a gun toting statue would enhance gameplay is beyond me, what's wrong with being able to fire off the hip? you cant even walk backwards and fire! I know many are going to hate me for saying all this and sure side-stepping and hip shooting are really for FPS's but come on guys you must agree a little? Then we come to your NPC ally 'Sheva', I don't think it would be possible to have a more useless and annoying aid as she somehow manages to get in the way almost constantly and has a habit of absorbing fatal blows in Boss battles meaning all your careful work had gone to waste, however! The new character interface is brilliant to use, very simple, fast and efficient and although NPC backup is an occasional pain it is a great change to gameplay creating a new formula of strategy to the many, many confrontations that lie before you! For all the moans I have, connect to XboxLive and the co-op experience is re-defined in an instant and my mouth is forever glued shut, I promise! Without a doubt one of the best titles for cooperative gaming to date and being able to share such an in-depth game with a friend is fantastic fun and provides a much more enjoyable experience. I would advise first time gamers to play with other first time gamers as to avoid the online clans habit of telling you the story before you know it yourself, you have been warned!
Don't misunderstand me, I still love every aspect of Res5 but I wish it wouldn't be so afraid of change, Res4 was massively different and was a global phenomenon and there's opportunity for that here though these small complaints may hold it back a touch!
Enough of complaining though as I don't like slating a game that is awesome in it's own right! The visuals are beautifully crisp and gameplay is fluid, furious and very, very violent, exactly what us Res fans want from Capcom, many thanks guys! Sound effects are terrific (massively so on 5:1!), from the all out gun fights to simply creeping around a dark corridor and hearing your own footsteps... or something else's?! As always, Resident Evil's immersion factor is off the chart! After the first 5 minutes of play you won't want to turn off your console in anticipation of what lies ahead.
So to sum up, firstly to Res fans out there who may be plotting to rip the skin off my back for a few negative comments, Sorry but I'm a critic!... Resident Evil 5 though is a fabulous title that fans are going to salivate over and newcomers be made converted to the franchise! Capcom's brainchild is still going from Strength to Strength and this is the penultimate icing on the series so far. Once again, lights off, surround sound up high and charge the battery packs for a hideously graphic and mammothly enjoyable thrill ride! Go for it, everyone!
Street Fighter IV (4)
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I really enjoy it when a new title is released and it surpasses the standards of my expectations! We've all seen countless screenshots and gameplay footage leading up to the release but when you can finally wrap your eager paws around it, it's most likely to leave you salivating for more and your xbox could well die of exhaustion before you turn it off to catch a few minutes sleep before doing it all again!
I'm going to be brutally honest though, no game is ever perfect (apart from Turrican on the Amiga!), and there are a couple of very slim gripes on SF4. The first will be the control system, even thought the xbox controller does a very good job it simply isnt made to handle a 6 button interface, the control sticks not bad but it will take patience to master moves and pull them off when you want to. I'm still on my search for an arcade stick (Madcatz are producing more so wait a bit people!) as, initially, it may be harder but your going to get a lot more form the title. This really isnt a major issue as if your going to stick with the controller, in time your sure to be a wizard anyway! The second issue may or may not be more substantial depending on your ability, Online play is shockingly hardcore! I'll be honest, I can pummel through the arcade mode but start hitting the ranked matches and expect to have your limbs served up by the frighteningly skilled players out there who will slap you back and forth across the stage! Initially this drove me nuts but the only way to get better is to play those better then yourself right and after a while you will actually learn heaps from observing other players and eventually those hard earnt victories will be coming your way! The learning curve is very steep here but that only makes it more rewarding when you start to crack it open!
The most brilliant point about SF4 has to be it's originality, the 2D fights on 3D backdrops are outstanding and every fight you have will be vastly different from the next. The EX moves, Ultra's and Focus Attacks are great fun and are a joy to watch and thankfully nowhere near as hard as trying to pull off Zangiefs moves in the arcades on SF2 all those years ago! There's some great anime cutscenes at the start and end of each characters story, they don't really serve much point but who cares?! You get to have street brawls in a snowy Russian Train yard with Fireballs and Lightning shouting out "Haduken and Sonic Boom!" How could this possibly be more fun?!?
Everyone out there who's breathing should at least experience SF4, you might not like it for some strange reason in which case I appologise for wasting your time but for all you others, prepare to be staying in your gaming pit for hours on end!
There is such variety here, from challenge modes including Survival, Trials and Time Attacks, Arcade, Versus, Online play (ranked or friendly bouts) and a Training ring! Fantastic stuff! This deserves to be played, it's a welcome return to an awesome and ground breaking series that will not dissapoint and will provide you with months upon months of gameplay and enjoyment!
One of this years finest releases so far and likely overall, without a doubt. Criminal to miss this!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Fear)
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Ok, so F.E.A.R 2, it really is a pleasure to play a sequel where you can actually observe the improvements made over the original by a group of developers who paid attention to the problems with it's predecessor. For those that played F.E.A.R, we can all probably agree that after the first office gunfight (as fun as it was) the novelty soon begun to ware off as the hole game seemed to take place in an industrial call centre for people selling double glazing! This time round we're given many different settings for the action and story to unfold, ok so the odd office does make an appearance but only briefly, otherwise you'll be outside in the streets, through an Elementary school with a hideous secret and walking into an abandoned Nuclear reactor, awesome!
Despite being much better polished F.E.A.R 2's graphics still cant compare with other shooters on the current market, textures do look basic and there are some lazy shadowing effects coupled with rather drab colouring. Although before I get heaps of negative feedback I will state that for everything lacking in visuals is more than made up for for a fantasticly solid engine! Bullet effects, blood, explosions, rag-doll physics etc are all brilliant and draw you into the gunplay even more!
Audio isn't bad, the in-game music is fitting and the voice acting is decent enough though weapon effects never sound very impressive, a shame as the weapon line up is pretty good, just a pity none of them sound better!
After encountering no less than 4 or so NPC adversaries in F.E.A.R this time there are a hole lot more. The Replica soldiers return but at least there are some visual differences between them and their respective weapons. Black-Ops military are gunning or you as well and these guys range from the early idiots who for some reason sport large explosive canisters on their backs to the later versions including Assassins, Snipers, RPG's and so on. Also there's the robot gun platforms, these look a great deal better than before and now there is an Elite model that you get to pilot on a few occasions. Ok so in this huge contraption you are all but indestructible but these sequences are fairly brief and also terrific fun!
The only real concern that I feel should be mentioned is with the story, no it isn't bad at all, in fact I was quite impressed though if you haven't played the original title you will be completely baffled as to the going's on here, my advice being to play the first game, read up on the plot on Wiki then go from there as you'll miss out on a lot of scare elements and simply not understand what on earth your supposed to be doing. The reliance on having to play these games in order can be a bit of a bind but it is well worth your time especially if you want to grab everything F.E.A.R has to offer.
Monolith must love to pride themselves being at the forefront of horror gaming, most likely as they are very good at it as we've seen from Condemned and now again here. Though some of the scares in F.E.A.R 2 are not at all new and to say 'it's been done before' would be an understatement. This isn't to say it's ineffectual but surely we're due some deeper thought into what makes us gamers jump out of our seats and want to play with the lights off. This title can make you jump and give you that sense of dread as you nervously peek round the next corner to find the walls splattered with the remains of the last poor victim it just needs to be a bit more fresh and not rely on cheap scares giving it that sense of being afraid to try something new.
To sum up then, F.E.A.R 2 is a very good title, it isn't without a few growing pains but they are easily forgiven once you begin wondering down those dark corridors, enjoy
Clive Barker's Jericho
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A huge range of reviews surrounding this title. Honestly, most contain valid issues from both sides of the argument.
Jericho is rather unusual, the control system, story and other content are something very different. To begin with, you control one character though without spoiling the story, has the ability to jump into the other team members bodies allowing you to control them and their different abilities and particular weapons. It's a unique take on the normal level treking, weapon searching and gradually powering up your character, although I can understand other gamers comments for being against this system as it can also become quite restrictive and does take some getting used to.
Each of the Jericho team has a different skill set to offer and these come into play solving levels and dealing out the punishment to the bad guys, who I'll get to in a minute. These skills are great fun to play with and can drastically alter the gameplay depending on your style (and the characters available at the time!).
The story of Jericho is a bit of a mixed bag and expect to find yourself a little baffled especially as the game nears it's conclusion. It does make sense though you will need to pay attention and give it a chance to get going before you start getting many answers. Jericho benefits from having an involving plot and when you reach the end credits and stare in the screen in possible dismay as your volumes of questions remain, take some comfort in knowing that this is the first title in the series and the story is set to continue from where it leaves you. I wont give anything away suffice to say that Jericho needs to be played from start to finish in order to get everything you can from it. The story may drive you mad but remember this is supposed to be a dark, miserable and bloody tale and it goes without saying not expect happy endings.
Many others mention issues with the titles graphics? In defense this game hasn't just been released and for when it was the images are very good. Everything about it exudes menace and the sense of conflict. Though even if the picture isn't quite up to your expectations Jericho has truly awesome sound effects and music, if you can hear this over surround then go for it!
Throughout the campaign enemies are numerous enough and can present some challenge however once you nail the control interface you should be flying through hordes of baddies as they never quite feel as tough as they look. This is a real shame as Clive Barker presents us with some brilliant looking creatures and bosses that each have some foul and utterly disgusting method of dispatching you. In the games later stages you enter an arena and encounter a very intense looking firefight. I say 'looking' as when the hordes descend on you they are relatively easy to overcome. All this being said Jericho is a relatively good length though I would suggest playing on hard from the beginning even if your new to FPS's.
My biggest moan? Invisible walls, these days there aren't any excuses to make this acceptable and sadly Jericho has them by the bucket load! Hopefully this is something we"ll see the back of in the sequel!
To sum up, Jericho genuinely has something good to offer it's just a shame it didn't have a little more time in production to polish up those rough edges to make it awesome and not just good. Whether or not you enjoy will depend on your reception of the ideas involved in the game but be sure to give it a thorough chance before condemning it. Personally I loved every moment. This is a true horror game, maybe not jumpy but very moody, brooding, dark and very very bloody!
Far Cry 2
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Yep, I'm afraid it does have issues. I'd love to babble on about how much i love this feature (and I could easily do it) yet that wouldn't really be fair. Having read a lot of reviews surrounding FC2 ranging from brilliant to dreadful I think it's only honest to say both sides have good points.
Problems? Re-Spawning enemies, now obviously if you killed every enemy in the game and re-spawning wasn't invented then Far Cry would be shockingly dull, but come on! You approach a road block, spend some time planning your explosive, bullet filled, fire-ridden assault, and toast your success on a job well done as you drive off away from the gun fight only to turn around and go back that direction 10 seconds later to find all your efforts were pointless as everyone and everything is back in place in the same condition you found it previously, annoying? Very!
Vehicles, Yeah they're alright but rather slow and extremely short on variety and could be made of china for how fragile they are (especially the sand buggy). Then there's that repair sequence that dosen't change a bit throughout the whole adventure! As for these so called flying vehicles, the glider really does suck and your better off leaving them well alone, that is if you can find more than 3 or 4.
A large amount of complaints have also been in reference to the map? Now these I don't understand. The fact that FC2 has 2 huge free roam map sections has been a major deal during it's production and a brilliant breath of fresh air upon release. It seems bizarre that some individuals cant stand it? Sure it isn't going to be for some gamers but it has to be worth a try? I'll be honest, yes most of the environment looks the same and as a result the sandbox area never really looks that different but on the flip side, what an environment?! Everything looks great from texture mapping, water, wildlife, the NPC's, undergrowth and the results of your weapon interactions, all awesome!
As for the story, well it can be quite hard to actually care about what your doing sometimes and then you tend to forget anyhow so more often than not you'll find yourself roaming through the game world encountering different enemy locations and some briefcases containing diamonds which you can spend on weapons etc. This isn't to say it's bad, Far Cry 2 is more of a pick up and play title than an engrossing adventure through darkest Africa and I'd imagine most will play it gradually as opposed to slogging it out to the end in long sittings as some are going to get bored doing so.
I know this all seems like one long moan but as I said before other reviews have got a lot of valid points and being aware of them is going to help you make a better informed decision. Personally I love it, yeah I get frustrated some times when I forget to save my progress and have to drudge through a few hours yet again but then I'll find new ways of planning an attack, it could be a plain old gun fight, get enemy trucks to follow you into a mined road block and watch the pyrotechnics commence or sit atop a mountain ridge a long way off and watch the patterns of your enemies before you snipe them all off, fantastic!
There are going to be a lot out there who wont get a great deal from Far Cry 2 but not to check it out would be a big waste as there is a huge amount here to offer!
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To feel scared, on edge, tense, it's an easy thing to convey in a movie theatre, but not quite so simple in your own home... Or is it?
After a lot of attempts to frighten gamers (zombies, vampires and so on, you know the ones!) and some being moderately successful, it's clear the survival horror franchise is desperate to make a stand above all others. Now along comes Dead Space and within the first 5 minutes of game play expect your hands to be cold, clammy and have your nerves trembling in suspense of what's round the nest corner. EA has developed something very special here and I believe it's going to give the upcoming Resident Evil 5 a run for it's money.
Dead Space begins with you sat aboard a rescue vessel on the way to the Mining ship, The Ishimura that has lost communications, it quickly transpires that what you thought was a routine maintenance mission is something far, far more sinister. I'll say no more in reference to the story as you really need to experience it first hand suffice to mention that for once we're provided with a plot that really will leave you gasping for breath! This title oozes outstanding graphics, awesome sound effects and eerily appropriate music. Each of these making the next even more immersive, sucking you deeper into a futuristic nightmare that you wont be getting out of for at least 12 hours of play. The level design consists of mainly cramped corridors and tight corners, swaying lamps, creaking gantry's and the distant scratching of something trying desperately to creep up on you before you drop the controller in shock and your character gets torn into pieces. As un-nerving as it is, being made to feel that you constantly need to check what's behind you is a brilliant touch that this game has so many of. It's been fantasticly thought through as the classic movie moments that usually mean something is about to jump out at you remain quiet and cautious yet just when you think it's safe to relax you find yourself firing wildly in any direction!
Creature design is another brilliant achievement, the dis-memberment of your many adversary's is extremely satisfying and the sheer amount of variety in how you choose to dispatch them is staggering, head, arm, leg, other weird gloopy slime covered thing and so on. Make no mistake the content of this title is not for the faint of heart! There are a decent number of enemies as well and the idea of boss fight's has had a huge overhaul, you've not seen anything like this, believe me!
Ok so I'm shouting praises like I never thought I would here, but that's a testament to just how awesome this game is. I honestly can't think of a bad thing to say, sure I'm probably a little bias as I've always enjoyed survival horror titles (Res3 was alright, barely) and it's great to be able to be so positive about something you didn't expect to meet the highest expectations.
To sum up, I think even the most sceptical gamer would be daft to pass on Dead Space, it piles on shock, intrigue and story in equally good doses and an aspect of horror and gore that would make John Carpenter proud and will leave a big lump in your throat. Turn up your volume, draw the curtains, dim the lights and have a fresh battery pack stood by. Dead Space will keep you awake for a long time to come!
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Having dubiously followed the progress of this title from very early days I was expecting a lot on the outset. The end result is pretty good but Dark Sector is, unfortuneately, stalled by problems that really do hold it back from being the great game it deserves to be!
The bad news? Most of all, comes the completely non-existenent story. Your introduced to a world which I assume is based in an appocalyptic Soviet Union not to far from our own future. It seems to be revolving around a few different agencies that want to claim power by harnessing the abilities of some weird bio weapon. Now that is all specualtion as if I'm honest that could all very well be totally wrong as you are given absolutely no reason for anything your doing? I found myself introduced to characters that have just been flung into the game and then vanish just as fast leaving you wondering just what on earth the point of them was?! Personaly I really enjoy a good story in my games and Dark Sector fell very rapidly into the Arcade style game as I gave up trying to make sense of what I was doing, were I was and what I had to do because frankly it was all utter incoherent nonsense!
Story aside character graphics seemed very irregular as well. For the most part everything is fine yet Hayden (your character)'s face looks bizarre? His expressions didnt seem to fit and this left me wondering as other non player individuals looked brilliant!
Complaints over now and into the meat of things. Dark Sector comes into it's own when you begin to get to grips with controlling the Glaive. After one dismemberment you will find yourself trying all sorts of grim ways in which to slice and dice anyting that moves in a slow motion blood filled body chopping gore fest, ace fun! Your other weapons will soon gather dust as you aquire more abilities making you a rather nasty handful for any badguy to take on and near the end of the game, hordes of zombies, mutants and of course governement henchmen simply gather in the gutter at the hands of your unstoppable onslaught! This isnt to say the game lacks challenge, it takes some skill to master and to perfect the most violelent and graphic of kills will take you some time but as it never ever gets boring this is very welcome!
All in all, Dark Sector felt incomplete, the story needs a total overhaul and there are never ending ideas for abilites for your charcter to gain but maybe these will appear in a future title as with the mess ups ironed out and more depth breathed in like it should have! Dark Sector could have easily entered the gaming elite. Sadly though it's left it's stamp around the better than average third person shooter.
I borrowed this from a friend and as such had great fun, otherwise I would wait until it falls in price a little as for a bit cheaper, it makes for a good experience!