Friday, 9 November 2012

Gaming's Best Week ever?

Fridays! Aren't they great? You get to take a few days off stupid work stuff and on Monday go back to work and try to pretend that its not all too much after you have spent the whole weekend gaming into the early hours. Its the gamers hangover and the severity usually depends on how much you had to play. Well, this week, for me, was the gaming equivalent of going on a bender with Oliver Reed (if that reference is too old for some readers, replace Oliver Reed with Rylan Clark).

Due to a Little Gamers excursion to Scotland for a few days, I found myself arriving to the Assassin's Creed III party a day late. I made up for it though by bringing both Assassin's Creed III for the Xbox and Assassin's Creed III: Liberation for the Vita home with me.

Assassins Creed III is brilliant. After spending so much time with Ezio Auditore, introducing a new character could of been disastrous. Instead, the way the Ubisoft Montreal have gone about the introduction of not only Connor but also America to the Assassins Creed universe is inspired. There is also time for a twist so unexpected that even Desmond himself says "What the...?"

After my brief time with the demo on show at Eurogamer Expo (which actual turns out to be just a side quest level) it has been great to get to grips with the expansive Frontier world they have created. Everything about the game has improved. Visuals are stunning, Connor's movement and free running is much more fluid than previous games. The combat is still not the most advanced in the world, but it is very satisfying. There is so much to do in the world to keep achievement hunters happy for many weeks to come. The star of the show for me is the Naval Battles. The excitement and tension as a enemy frigate bears down on your ship, canons blazing. Screaming at your crew to take cover as chucks of your ship fly through the air. I wish it was a game all on its own. Maybe there might be more Naval Warfare missions in later DLC. All in all, Assassins Creed III is probably going to be my game of the year. Plus, I have not even touched the multiplayer game yet either!

Meanwhile the Vita is treated to a whole new chapter of Assassin's Creed. Set during the same time as the console game. Liberation is set in New Orleans and the surrounding Bayou. Playing as Aveline, Lady and Assassin. The story follows her struggle to stop the slavery trade that was rife in New Orleans at that time. I was expecting this to be Assassins Creed 2.5, but instead it seems more in keeping with AC III. She moves across the city and trees of the bayou with speed and grace. Possibly better than Ezio or Connor. Liberation has a different feel to it as well. The game is based more on stealth at all times and to aid with that comes the personas. Aveline has 3 personas each with their own pro's and con's. The Lady can move around the city freely and stealth kills are easier to do. The drawback whilst in her pretty dress, Aveline cannot carry any other weapon execpt her hidden blades and she is also stuck to the ground and cannot jump up to the safety of the roofs. The Slave persona can move freely around the city and can blend in to a crowd, but cannot take much damage. The Assassin persona is the persona for killing and stuff.

Graphically, Liberation is on par with Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The bayou is beautiful and the the cities are full of people and animals wandering the virtual streets. Ubi have made use of the Vita's custom features as well with touch screen targetting, "near" collectibles and even the much sought after envelope opening simulation, performed by pinching the front and rear screen and sliding across.... epic! I haven't got very far into this adventure yet but it is shaping up to be one of the best games on the Vita.


As if two new Assassin's Creed wasn't enough for one week. Criterion decided to unleash their latest entry in the Need For Speed franchise Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Basically this is Burnout Paradise with police chases with added Autolog. Criterion have also done something special here. They developed the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and PlayStation Vita version in tandem. The result is a Vita version that delivers the promise. Home console gameplay on the move. The whole of the open world city of Fairhaven is squeezed into the Vita with a very little loss of visual quality from its home console counterparts.
Although there is a visual dip, the gameplay and handling is spot on. The icing on the cake is the ever impressive Autolog system. Autolog is constantly recording stats of race times, speedwalls and city events and constantly feeding back your friends information whether they are playing on Xbox, PS3 or Vita. The drop in, drop out multiplayer of Burnout Paradise is back and works so well. Every kind of car is represented as well, from everyday saloons to Concept cars and road legal race cars. The best thing is that all the cars are available at the start of game. No levelling up, no licence tests and no unlock trees. You just have to find them hidden in jack spots all over the city.
Needless to say I think I have my gaming sorted for the rest of the year. Thank God no-one is planning on releasing a new Call of Duty game anytime soon.
Awww crap!

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