gaming

REPLAYABLES: Driver, San Francisco (2011)

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A funny story prefaces the reason I own this game; we found the disc lying in the bottom of our family’s pool. Someone had thrown it over the back fence and it had landed in the water. Five months after we fished it out, it still operates on the PS3. So for being not only an enjoyable driving game but for sheer ability to survive in chlorine and salt, I’m reviewing Driver San Francisco on how likely it is to be replayed, years after its release on multiple consoles.

Consisting of over one hundred and twenty cars, huge networks of roads and playable areas and nineteen brilliantly constructed multiplayer modes, Driver San Francisco boasts of some great features. The initial storyline is straight from a ‘Fast and Furious’ script – a thrilling manhunt for an escaped crime boss across the city while trying to anticipate and bring a halt to the evil man’s dastardly plans. As someone who doesn’t usually become engaged in stereotypical fast-car plotlines it was a decent crime story to use as an excuse to race a lot, jump things, blow stuff up and shoot the hell out of the city while buying new and better vehicles at various points throughout the game. You play as the protagonist Tanner, a disgruntled cop chasing desperately after the crime lord Jericho but you can share the experience of other individuals you interact with during the course of the story which shakes up things a little. These ‘city missions’ are a variety of stunts, races and demolition-charged chases in different locations. Tanner can also take challenges to build up on willpower and gain other advantages for the game. A combination of competitions, drifting, smashing stuff up and movie-inspired contests – the challenges are decent entertainment and worthwhile completing. For the truly brave there are various dares located at icons throughout the city, which are fun to attempt even if the payouts aren’t that much.

Then of course, there are co-operative plays, either online or in split screen against a friend with another controller. Competitive or co-operative challenges – you choose. Personally, this is what makes the game so worth pulling out again years later – the fact that I can try to annihilate my friend on my favourite tracks. Co-operative running from the cops is also enormous fun, I thoroughly recommend you have a go with someone and see who panics more. For the more fanatical car drivers there are accuracy-dependent games of skill and technique but be prepared to give up a lot of the time if you spin out of control with the slightest nudge from another car. Frustration abides in all of the various modes of play. 

The graphics are pretty and the mechanics can be a little tricky but once you get used to how the cars drive the experience becomes a great test of skill. Not being a car fanatic, I have to admit there is a plethora of driving experiences from cars famous in the 60’s until today with various gimmicks and advantages. By far one of the best features of the game is the ability to ‘shift’, jumping forward into other cars or using other drivers on the road to advance you forward. It also makes the artificial players much harder to overcome because suddenly, in a burst of lightning, they can spawn in front of you to cut you off. The leveling system is also one of the best I’ve seen in a racing game – simple and straightforward but resulting in a great sense of achievement when you are successful at acquiring another level.

All in all, this game can be replayed many times over, either with your friends or online or even just to try and find everything to complete in the story mode. I’m not even a massive fan of the genre but I can admit that the straightforwardness of Driver San Francisco and the ability to customise to your liking makes this an enjoyable game. It’s not run-of-the-mill at all and I applaud the developers for streamlining what makes an effective racing game whilst making unique features.

Pull it down off the shelf and have another go. This one is worth it. Even if you do throw it over the back fence into a neighbour’s pool because your friend beat you. 

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REVIEW: Lego Marvel Superheroes on PS3

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Be the heroes and villains of Marvel!

 

I will state from the outset that I am unabashedly a huge fan of nearly all of the Lego games, mainly because there is something exceedingly satisfying in making one of your favourite characters tear the scenery into absolute shreds and being rewarded in showers of coloured bricks. The Harry Potter Lego games however weren’t nearly as good because you had to use your wand to do everything and I resorted to screaming at Harry, begging him to forget his wizarding ways and just kick the furniture apart with one of his plastic feet. I’m pleased to say that from this perspective Marvel Lego Superheroes fits the bill.

As far as characters go, you can play as all of your standard big-franchise names – what with the Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Ironman, X-Men and the Fantastic Four being in the spotlight of movie madness at the moment. Marvel’s popularity is certainly winning favourites with the cinema-goers and the Lego variation of these characters are simply too adorable for words. You get all of the associated famous villains and heroes for your block-decimating pleasure. There are also some minor Marvel faces that I thoroughly enjoyed, although I still have only a limited knowledge of who they are in the expansive Marvel-verse.

The game itself is bright, colourful, doesn’t take itself too seriously and only requires a low level of skill to get through the main story mode but there’s enough to do wandering around and replaying in free mode that it can be an exceedingly lengthy game to complete to 100%.

Another major plus is that the open world is the entirety of ‘comic book’ New York. I’m not going to lie and try to convince you that the inner nerd which resides in my heart did not skip for glee when I realised I could not only fly to the summit of Stark Tower but also the Empire State building. The mechanics of flying with different characters is extraordinarily good fun. And you can drive any vehicle you encounter along the way (my sister and I had a brief interlude of hijacking cars GTA style and running into other road users until their vehicles simply exploded, giggling like maniacs and driving off to complete every race through the streets we could find). There are random civilians that barrage you with their problems and often that just entails running off into the subway, beating up some foes and rescuing someone’s favourite shovel but the effort is worth the bonuses of accumulating enough gold bricks to unlock other areas and challenges. Deadpool has some fantastic comic-book-styled levels that are scattered all over the city as well, some of which involve fighting other villains and some of which mean setting up a party in Tony Stark’s pad for all the heroes. The means by which you find the entire staggering amount of characters are suitably comic-book and none of the vehicles are particularly difficult to unlock and buy but are fantastic to get around in.

But the game isn’t without issues. Firstly, it is primarily a two-player co-op game and while this is great if you have a friend who is considerate and kind and won’t murder you constantly, it can become irritating; however it is tedious to attempt it all on your own. There are additional problems too – the damn split-screen camera is extremely temperamental and just when you are standing completely still so your mate can set something on fire as the Human Torch it lurches away and you must attempt the section utterly blind. Unlike in the Batman games it is also harder to switch characters, so if you and your friend want to try another character in story mode one person has to drop out, you switch and then drop back in. The sheer amount of possibilities in the game in terms of characters and their abilities has its drawbacks; often the solution to getting into a secret area is absurdly simple, meanwhile you’re there jamming all the buttons on several characters trying to figure out who on earth you’re supposed to use to get past an obstacle. Here’s a hint if you get stuck in this situation – usually the way forward is via a dumbly placed lever. Once again those cameras work against you, hiding the obvious. And don’t get me started on the glitches. They’re primarily in story mode and if your poor character gets squished up against a wall say goodbye to your progress. Do it all over again. Expect to Hulk out multiple times in frustrated fury.

But it’s fun and gimmicky and it’s so Marvel – from the ridiculous puns, hilarious cut-scene interactions to the signature character fighting styles. The story is good and the cut scenes are well-done and the attention to detail is commendable. It’s a children’s game but there’s a little child in all of us, who re-watches all the Marvel films (expect for the original Spider-man movies, I cannot think of these abominations without an instantaneous surge of bile rising to the back of my throat) and digs out all the comics and dreams of being a superhero. Just for a bit. You can fly or hover or drive or ram through things with the Hulk, you can sail through the Bifrost, you can find Stan Lee on every level and that’s the way Marvel should be. Uncomplicated and glorious.

Anyway, that’s off my desk. Not sure if I’ll do these consistently – if you like my stuff send me a message on Twitter or something. Follow if you have even more faith in me. Whack a comment down below if you’re especially kind and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I watch the new Lego movie. It looks amazing.