Tron: Evolution Review

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Propaganda Games has extended upon its haphazard 2008 first-person shooter game Turok with their new nostalgic release, Tron: Evolution. It comes off a long list of already existing Tron titles fit for console. It must be remembered, however, that this is a film-to-game adaptation. This type of gaming is always subject to criticism and comparison from gamers and film buffs alike; it’s a hybrid of an already existing narrative in a different visual medium.

Tron: Evolution has relatively solid gameplay and value. Plenty of wall-running means hours of fun and plenty of interactivity. Mobility options are also extensive; check out the game’s parkour movement. Wall-runs are fun and system upgrades work well too. Light cycles, disc mods, game grid enhancers and software upgrades all help the gamer to improve their own performance onscreen.

There are some cool light cycle battles and combat with light discs is great fun too. Whilst throwing discs at enemies provides gamers with fast-paced entertainment, this fluffy enjoyment only lasts for so long. Nevertheless, combo options are also useful when fighting off opponents, which help to elevate gameplay quality and overall value of the product. The game contains single-player and multiplayer options; character progression is well-monitored too. Single player is okay, but multiplayer is useful in that it provides a number of combat modes, such as light disc and vehicle battles, as well as disintegration and team disintegration modes.

The game’s value really lies in its narrative structure. It extends upon its predecessors in the way that it forecasts current film Tron: Legacy whilst encapsulating the nostalgia of the 1982 sci-fi film. It also makes a conscious effort to explain Kevin Flynn’s entrapment in Tron more closely via his son, Sam Flynn.

The game has great graphics. Shiny suits and helmets render the game’s characterization truly Tron-esuqe. The role-playing game quality of Tron: Evolution is also improved by the game’s visual mastery; we assume the role of Anon in slick style. It’s a visually striking game; aesthetically pleasing. Blue colourisation, hi-tech scenery and sharply colour-streaked light cycles draw the gamer in. Sound is of acceptable quality as well. Voiceovers are particularly engaging (Nolan North deserves a special mention, who voices Behemoth, Blaze and Sentries). Daft Punk numbers also suit the game’s aesthetics and narrative, but after a while, they begin to grate.

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The Final Verdict

Particularly suited for Tron heads, Tron: Evolution incorporates aspects of the 1980s film narrative and introduces the recent cinematic instalment of Tron: Legacy too. There’s plenty of wall-running, it’s visually stunning, packed with nostalgia and contains loads of action, which means that those who aren’t particularly fond of the series can still enjoy it too. It must be remembered, however, that it’s a film-to-game adaptation. This type of gaming is always subject to comparisons and scrutinies from gamers and film buffs alike, since the product extends upon an existing narrative in a different visual medium. It manages to strike a relatively nice balance between both. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the Tron films, it’s still fluffy fun.

Beautiful Katamari Review

Trying to understand the concept and direction of a Katamari game would be like watching an episode of Lost mid-way through season 3 and trying to understand everything that’s happened so far. It’s just not possible. That’s because every game in the uncanny Katamari franchise is just that – uncanny. With Beautiful Katamari on XBOX 360, the King of the Cosmos, the silly sod, has caused a giant black hole to form in the galaxy. It’s sucking up everything and everyone near it, so the King enlists the help of the returning Prince to grab a Katamari, or a ball, and roll up everything in its path to create planets and moons and repopulate the dying universe. Please, believe me when I say that I still don’t understand what exactly a Katamari is, why it has the ability to roll up things and why the King thinks that rolling people up, seemingly killing them, is actually helping the galaxy. That’s all I’m saying about the story in Beautiful Katamari. That’s it. That’s because it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it is just as wacky and strange as the rest of the game, but you don’t need to know, at all, what’s going on to enjoy and finish this game. The premises of the gameplay and presentation of the environments is what will drag you in and even if you’ve never played a Katamari game before, you’re going to be sucked in by the addictive and fun gameplay this title has to offer.

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The gameplay is very simple, to say the least. There is a tutorial at the start to get you used to rolling the Katamari around and while it takes a little while to get used to the camera and how to direct the Katamari, it is very intuitive and enjoyable once you master it, which won’t take long. Once you get the Katamari rolling, it begins to pick-up items in its way, in-turn making the Katamari a larger and stronger ball. Initially, larger objects will be immune to the sticky power of the Katamari, but the larger it is the more items it can pick-up, which includes people, cars, skyscrapers and planes. Overall, the game is an enjoyable and very accessible title to play.

On a presentation front, everything fits in perfectly with the feel of the franchise. The menu is set out like a mini-galaxy, where the Prince can hop from planet to planet and interact with people and objects. There, you can try and beat your own high scores, play time-attack modes and view collectibles that you’ve built up throughout your playtime. From a graphical standpoint, it doesn’t look like an XBOX 360 title. The disappointing thing is that it looks identical to the PSP version. It’s difficult to really hold this against the game though, as the graphics are hardly what make the series so special. But they were accepted in the previous generation because they fit in with what was available. With Beautiful Katamari, there is no 360-esque graphical essence. A graphics upgrade certainly couldn’t have gone astray.

Beyond the single-player mode, there is the more extensive XBOX Live mode. There is co-op mode, but unfortunately it’s practically unplayable. Instead of two separate Katamari’s, you both control the same ball, but use different analogue sticks. To say it’s challenging would be an understatement. It’s the epitome of difficult. Battle mode is more fun and it’s a basic, all-out collect-a-thon where you try to out-size your opponents while also bumping into them to knock items off their Katamari. The game collects practically every single bit of information, including what you pick-up, and includes it in your leaderboard standings. Overall, you’re ranked according to how many cookies you have which you get when you win a match. Why cookies, you ask? I have no idea, but it’s just as pointless and wacky as the rest of the game and the game is great fun.

The music again is just your basic Katamari tunes, ranging from wacky Japanese pop songs to uncanny and weird ambient tunes. The sound effects will cause you to shake your head and think, “what the hell did I just hear?” It’s strange to say the least.

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The only major downfall is the length. The single-player mode will take you a few hours to complete, and this is common in almost every Katamari game. It’s disappointing because by the time you finish, you still want the more. The game on Live is fun and just as wacky, but not quite enough to keep you going indefinitely.

It would have been nice for a long single-player mode to justify paying full-price for this title. It’s a great, fun title that’s fantastic while it lasts, which isn’t very long. XBOX Live will give you some enjoyment, albeit for a little while, but the single-player needs to be improved next time round. If you’re familiar with the series, this is worth a look as it’s the first Katamari game this generation. If you’re new to the series, check it out because a game like this strengthens the argument that games can be art.

Darkness Review

 

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From Starbreeze Studios, the makers of The Chronicles of Riddick, The Darkness is a new breed of horror FPS, based on the best selling Top Cow comic book series. You play as Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman living in New York city who is intent on revenge. Equipped with a large range of weapons and an array of devilish supernatural powers, you must fight your way through a realistic-looking New York and an alternate-reality in order to defeat a tyrannical mob-boss and fulfil your destiny as the wielder of The Darkness. This is surely one of the most unique adaptions of a comic book series into a game yet, but does it live up to the hype that surrounded it for so long, or does it get lost among the other many great FPS’s already out on 360?

Gameplay: 8/10

The Darkness’ gameplay is a brilliant mix of gunfights, exploration, horror and supernatural powers. New York is a violent place, and in order to stay alive, you must fight fire with fire. The Darkness definitely stands on its own two feet and truly feels likes a bloodbath. Gunning down your enemies is a lot of fun and there’s a solid variation of pistols, automatic and semi-automatic weapons. At first, you’ll find the combat very difficult, but it won’t take long to get a feel for it. There isn’t a health meter, similar to games such as Call of Duty, and your health recharges over time if you take cover after you’re hurt. You will die quite easily if you stand still for too long in a firefight without taking cover. Combat is simple yet enjoying, yet it does lose its charm after a while. before your health is reduced to nothing.

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Exploring New York City acts as one of the more enjoyable parts of the game. What has always been one of the great aspects of games like the Spiderman titles is that you can interact with the people in the city, and you also have the ability to get assistance from people in the street for side-missions and they are a load of fun to do. The tasks range from fulfilling dares for tourists in the subway station or to helping people with bullies. Each side-mission has it’s own unique experience attached to it. There’s also the no load-screens factor. Rather than the conventional method of watching a little bar move across the screen, like most games when they load, The Darkness gives a unique view of Jackie talking about particular aspects in the game and about his life and this gives you an interesting look at his past and his view of the world. While it doesn’t really add to the story, it’s pretty interesting, and makes load screens less of an interruption to the gameplay and more of an extra. It’s a nice touch.

There are two parts to the Darkness; the New York environment and the alternate reality inside of the darkness itself, which is somewhere between life and death. The New York environment is where most of the gangster stuff takes place, and the really horror type stuff happens in the darkness world. As a horror game, The Darkness is extremely unique in that it’s done a total flip-flop from other FPS’s in the horror genre. With games like F.E.A.R and Doom 3, they rely on your own imagination to scare you. It’s not what you see that scares you in those games, but what you don’t see, or what you expect to see and it’s certainly an effective technique, however The Darkness on the other hand, leaves nothing to the imagination. There are some seriously sick and twisted imagery used; stuff that will give you nightmares. The developers must have just gone “the hell with subtlety!”, and rather than using visual trickery, they added a lot of open, upfront and realistically disturbing things and ideas. It’s a different type of fear altogether.

The major selling point for the game is the Darkness powers themselves. Throughout the game, you will get five different powers that can only be used in the shadows. When you go into the light, your darkness energy is slowly drained and you lose your special powers. As you kill gangsters you have to consume their hearts; one of the more violent aspects of the game, and this increases the amount of power you have and thus unlocks the different abilities as you collect more and more hearts. The one you get to begin with is called the “Creeping Dark”. This allows you to take control of a snake-like creature, which allows you to scout ahead while, leaving Jackie behind. This give you the ability to spot enemies, and if you get close enough, bites their faces off. Literally. Very soon after, you get the ability to summon Darklings. They’re these freakish little creatures that you can control and have them fight alongside you. There are four different types of them too.: Gunners, berserkers, light breakers and my personal favorite; kamikazes. They’re all pretty self-explanatory. The third power you receive puts you in control of a powerful tentacle; you can lift heavy objects, throw them at people, whip people with it, and or just wreak some good old fashioned havoc. That’s what games are about, right? Fourth are the Darkness guns, two special weapons that you can only use when in the shadows. One is sort of a machine pistol, the other is a larger, more powerful, but slower rifle type gun. Lastly, you get the ability to create black holes, which easily can suck in five or more enemies at once, sending them, along with everything else in the vicinity, flying in all directions… lots of blood of course! The powers themselves are a bit of a gimmick. They’re not put to good use in a gameplay sense; you could easily complete the game without using them at all. They are, however, a lot of fun to mess around with, and add to the comical-book style of the game, but could have been put to better use.

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Graphics: 8/10

The Darkness’s graphics are quite impressive and realistic. Like games such as Quake 4 and Prey, the emphasis is on the contrast between light and dark, and its lighting and shadow effects are pretty damn good. You’ll often have to look twice just to see whether it is a real photo or not.

Character models are good, not great. The developers went a little crazy with the bloom effects, occasionally making the characters look like they’re made out of wax… But otherwise, a lot of detail and work has gone into putting personalities into the characters. Each and every one has a different look and persona. Animations, especially hand gestures and facial expressions, are explicitly detailed. You can tell there was some extensive motion capture work done for this game, everything moves fluidly as though it was really happening right in front of you. This is all complimented by some amazing blur effects, which add to the games cinematically, and its overall polished feel. The game is often extremely dark, too dark at points, and it’s annoying but you’ll probably find yourself turning up the gamma in order to find your way around. But really, that’s one of very few faults I can pick with the games visuals, and shouldn’t be too much of a hassle… unless you have cataracts or something.

Environments, especially the subway, can look extremely real, it’s really only when you look up close that you can tell it’s a game, and not an actual picture of a subway somewhere. You can see pictures of the real New York subway system and The Darkness has captured it perfectly. The textures seem to resonate the almost worn out almost antique atmosphere of New York with an astonishing amount of detail. It isn’t the best looking game available… certainly not up to the standard of that of Gears of War, especially in terms of character models, but won’t disappoint if you’re into eye candy.

Sound: 9/10

The Darkness has some of the most impressive voice acting and dialogue in a game to date. It actually sounds like a real person is talking to you, unlike a lot of other games that sound like some cheaply done formulaic sitcom. The dialogue is also good, easily up to the standard of most Hollywood films. There’s also no cheesy one liners, and thankfully, no actors that you can recognize.

One of the creepiest aspects of the game is the voice of the Darkness. He sounds disembodied and evil, and eerily enough,; he actually sounds human. Later on in the game, you’ll hear some pretty spooky things. You can actually hear the agony in the tortured and tormented screams of the not quite dead, not quite alive inhabitants of the darkness world. The developers must have put hot coals into the underpants of the voice actors to get that realistic effect… Well, either that, or there was some seriously talented and dedicated people who contributed to The Darkness.

The sound effects themselves, such as gunshots or footsteps, are all pretty well done as well. None of the effects sound hollow or diluted, they have quite an oomph factor and quite a lot of substance, especially if you’re blessed with 5.1 surround with a fully-sick subwoofer!

Value: 6/10

The Darkness isn’t a game you’ll play through more than once. Depending on how many of the side missions you do and on how much you explore, you’re probably looking at about 10 to 12 hours max. There is a multiplayer segment in the game, but due to lag issues, it’s rendered fairly unplayable. But this could depend on a lot of things, such as your location, your connection or just how many people are on the server. I found this quite disappointing.

The developers obviously saw that there wasn’t really a lot of hours in this game, and as a feeble attempt to justify this, they’ve added a whole bunch of collectibles for you to find throughout the world. They come in the form of phone numbers and letters that unlock extra content. Things like pictures of the game during development and concept artwork. It’s a nice touch, but it’s really not worth putting too much effort into finding them all; there’s better stuff you could be doing with your time.

Overall: 8/10

The Darkness Is good mix of horror and action, and for most of its bad features,points it can bare made unbalanced for in one way or another. The combat, other than a few balance issues, is satisfying and realistic… and did I mention it was violent? The graphics, especially the environments are hugely finely detailed where places can often be mistaken for the real thing, but unfortunately too dark in some areas. Exploration is a hell of a lot of fun, and side missions should keep you occupied, but the sad fact is that you probably won’t play through it more than once. as it’s got quite poor replay value. Sound effects are good, though, and there’s some first class voice-acting. The darkness powers themselves are a bit of a gimmick, but they can be quite a lot of fun if you don’t take them too seriously. Ultimately, if you can see past its bad points, this is a good game. However if you’re not a hard FPS junkie or a fan of the comic book series, you may not find it all that appealing. Definitely The Darkness is worth the try, you could be pleasantly surprised.

Pros:

* Awesome graphics

* Quite possibly the bloodiest game of 2007

* Excellent voice acting and dialogue

* Unique take on the horror FPS genre

Cons:

* Poor replay value

* Gimmicky super powers

* Too dark (and yes, I am aware that the title of the game is “The Darkness”)

Halo 3 Review

Ever since the 360 was released, Halo fans across the world have been waiting, hoping and anticipating a conclusion to possibly the most contagious and obsessive video-game saga to ever grace a video-game console. Halo 2 generated a massive amount of media and public attention on the original XBOX and its cliffhanger ending angered many fans who thought that they would have to wait some four years to finally get the ending they’ve been hoping for. Now Halo 3 has hit the shelves and after some early controversy involving Microsoft employees going online before the release date, the anticipation has slowly turned to excitement and then relief as the 360’s “system seller” comes to life.

There’s no doubting that the Halo franchise is an incredibly fun FPS series. Its basic gameplay, vast amount of weaponry, large number of maps and online options as well as some deep customization make it an almost given in the multiplayer department. While Halo 3’s single-player experience is not quite as much of a standout as Bioshock, like its predecessors it is a multiplayer beast that focuses heavily on online carnage and action instead of a lengthy single-player story. The lack of a strong single-player focus is one of the few issues why Halo 3 may not be the “must have” title for the XBOX 360. In saying that, it has many positive attributes that warrant a purchase and the multiplayer is just one of those. Is Halo 3 really worth the hype and where does it stand in wonderful XBOX 360 game library?

Gameplay – 9.0/10
Halo 3 takes off where Halo 2 ended; Master Chief is headed back down to Earth to stop the Prophet of Truth and its Brutes from destroying Earth and everything it holds dear. Cortana has been captured and Arbiter and his Elites have put aside their differences and joined forces to fight a larger evil for the greater good. The way this story plays out from the beginning makes it feel every bit like a blockbuster action flick and it’s told in more narrative sense than Halo 2 which makes it a little easier to follow, especially for those new to the franchise.

Halo 3’s use of the Master Chief as its main character is a little more applauded this time round and it was often a criticism that the Chief wasn’t used to his best ability in Halo 2. Far too often you were left doing side-missions and such that had nothing directly to do with him, but thankfully now we have more of an influence and more of a focus on the monster of a soldier.

Most of the nine levels throughout the game are generally well designed and executed but don’t stand out as anything extraordinary and overly exciting. The first level plays out like a training drill, even on the more difficult setting. Certain levels, particularly the penultimate chapter, can get so boring and overly repetitive that it’s a wonder why the human race hasn’t already be obliterated; if I were a soldier fighting in that setting, I’d drop my weapon and sacrifice myself just to get out of there. It’s certain areas like this that are consistently boring and far too frustrating to play out that it may completely turn you off from playing the single-player campaign through a second time which, suffice to say, is a shame because the length is relatively short and anything that short justifies a replay.

The difficulty throughout the game seems at times off-track with the actual setting you chose from the beginning. When you first get into single-play you’ll notice that the default is Normal. Any frequent Halo gamer will understand that Normal actually plays out like a really easy shooter and that Easy is actually a difficulty for a toddler who’s never put there hands on a video-game controller before. Furthermore, the toddler probably would be able to play through the game quite easily. However, this direction of difficulty could be justified considering the amount of action this title is going to get from casual gamers who A: Have never player a Halo game before or B: Aren’t overly that good at video games. Bungie has obviously countered this possibility and made a game that is easy to pick up and play from the get go and should satisfy the simplest of video-gamers. The Heroic and Legendary difficulties play out a little more challenging than in the first two titles and this will satisfy experienced Halo gamers, but the truth is even the novice of gamers should get into the tough settings, as Normal and Easy are far to simple and quick to play through and you won’t get the full Halo 3 experience playing on those easy settings.

In may be wise to play out the first level on Normal though if you’re new to the series, just to get a hang of the controls, gameplay and weaponry. Once you get into the harder difficulties the AI gets a lot more challenging and the communication gets a little more intense, allowing for more gun battle and some hectic fighting which may be too difficult for the newbie. The AI, in general, is top notch and counters your aggression with its own defensive and offensive tactics while it gets more complex and smarter with higher difficulties. The Brutes will again be your main enemy in battles and you’ll notice that once fighting gets into full spring, The Brutes will use particular tactics to heal, attack and defend themselves with. Where this really stands out is in the Heroic and Legendary difficulties where the chatter between enemies is a lot more frequent and planned and clearly displays the high level of AI intelligence incorporated into the title.

Fortunately, Master Chief is the saviour for mankind because if your battlefield mates were the leaders the human race would be in a lot of trouble. While you aggressively take out enemies and take cover when injured, your team-mates are far to easily shot down and it often feels as though you’re the only one taking some action. Unfortunately, this lets the gameplay down as the enemy AI can be quite challenging and complex while you’re practically left to fight it all on your own.

The Skulls make another appearance (after being used in Halo 2) as a major incentive for playing through a 2nd and 3rd time. Unlike in Halo 2 when they were only reachable and accessible in Legendary, you may come across some in Normal, Heroic and Legendary therefore making them more of a frequency than in the past. However, not all deem to be good, as some have negative effects on the gameplay, such as increasing your enemies weaponry skills. However, some are a little fun and shooting an enemy in the head may incite a party (yes, an actual party, full with balloons and confetti.) These skulls ultimately add a little bit more to the gameplay and are reasons why people still play Halo 2 today.

Halo 3 may not purely be a multiplayer title, but its main purpose on this planet is just that; to provide an awesome online experience that made the first two Halo’s so special. Where Halo 3 continues this tradition is in its maps, as you’ll notice that multiplayer has a Halo and Halo 2 feel about it that will please many fans of the genre; instead of something completely different, they’ve reworked a formula that already worked so well and added a few extras.

The weaponry still has its broad itinerary and effectiveness. Some weapons will have little to no effect on an opponent, while some will be absolutely brutal and devastating. The typical and original machine guns and hand rifles come off as almost useless against the Brute Spikers that just about kill anything they come into contact with.

When you have a title the relies heavily on its multiplayer you can bet your right arm that Bungie were in for creating an insanely fun and deep online, multiplayer experience. They achieved that with quite easily the number one title to get online for on the 360. You have new vehicles like the Brute Chopper which handles perfectly and looks incredibly cool, eleven maps (which should increase via the Live Marketplace), heaps of weapons and a lag-free and popular lobby that should have you playing Halo 3 online for the next 3-4 years.

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A new addition to the Halo series is The Forge, which acts as a map layout editor that allows you to rearrange locations of weapons, power-ups, vehicles and buildings. These altered maps can then be uploaded to Bungie.net for other Halo 3 gamers to check out and this adds even more depth to the MP and will add plenty of life to the eleven maps on offer.

Overall, Halo 3 offers deep, fun gameplay in both single-player and multiplayer mode. While the difficulty setting may seem a little out of whack and the length can be a little demeaning, the multiplayer is more than worth the price of admission and should be checked out by all immediately. The customization, maps, vehicles and weapons are all part of the deep online experience that made the previous Halo games so memorable and popular. It is also the best Live game available.

Graphics and Display – 8.5/10
Halo games in the past haven’t necessarily been the standard for graphical presentation. On the menu and load-screen front, the amazing animations mixed together with the outstanding soundtrack make all three Halo games, at times, a breathtakingly beautiful title. However, the environments themselves don’t seem to shine out in Halo 3 as much as one would have hoped.

There are moments of significant slowdown in the gameplay most notably when there is a lot going on in screen. Considering the hectic style of gameplay that can occur, this can be a little frustrating and affect your success against the Brutes. There are particular areas that show-off battles in the distance and these add a little bit of character to the environment and make it feel even more like a realistic battlefield.

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The weapons all have a cool, futuristic look about them and there are little things, such as cracks in walls and dints in vehicles that look great and realistic.

Overall, Halo 3 is a good-looking title. It’s not the best looking title available on the 360 and doesn’t quite come close to the environmental beauty of Colin McRae’s DiRT, however, considering the vastness of the maps and draw-distance, this can be excused as the game looks stunning in 1080p.

Sound – 10/10
One aspect that took a backseat to the multiplayer in previous Halo titles was the soundtrack. The futuristic soundtrack, mixed together with classical tunes, made the first two Halo’s memorable and somewhat beautiful and Halo 3 is not an exception. The blistering music as you first pop the game in will give you goosebumps and the in game soundtrack is inspiring and great to listen too. It sounds amazing with Surround Sound and you won’t be able to get the true sensation unless you hook a decent sound system.

The chatter between your teammates and opponents is also fantastic and realistic and adds a feeling of excitement and chaos on the battlefield. Weapon sounds are very cool and not overly loud and they take a back seat to the sensational soundtrack, even during the gameplay. Bungie have focused on the music and you’ll notice that the weaponry sounds, while realistic, aren’t too loud.

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Overall, a brilliantly mastered game that adds to the atmosphere and gameplay which is intense, beautiful, exciting, thrilling and heart-warming.

Value – 9/10
While the single-player won’t tied you over for that long, even if you go back to the collect all of the skulls, the multiplayer will have you hooked for years. It’s quite possibly the best Live experience to date and adds 3-4 years to the life of the title. If you buy Halo 3 for the single-player, it’s the biggest injustice you could ever commit. MP is an amazing feat and an extensive experience that no on should overlook for a second. Join the millions now.

Overall – 9/10
Beyond an amazing soundtrack, Halo 3 is a great title, but not quite perfect. It doesn’t fail miserable in the sense, but the single-player experience is too quick and doesn’t totally justify a 2nd and 3rd play through. While the Skulls may be good enough incentive for you, the games true beauty lies in the multiplayer, which is unfortunate because the Halo story is intriguing and deep. If the single-player was longer and more challenging this title may have challenged for GOTY, however it may struggle when it comes up against titles like Bioshock, GRAW and God of War II.

How to get free VPN for gaming

Providers offer their services for a fee. The average cost 5-10 dollars a month not everyone can afford. On the Internet, several companies offer free VPN for gaming. What’s the catch? Typically, this connection has limited speed, the smaller the degree of protection and advertising.

REVIEW TOP 5 FREE VPN SERVICES

1. Spotflux. Apply for desktop and mobile operating systems. Features a large number of ads, but at the same time, unlimited speed and traffic. The main drawback is the recognizability of some video services. Available an enhanced paid version.

2. Hotspot Shield. Works on all platforms. Free only the first seven days of use, the extension will have to pay about $5 per month. Like Spotflux, VPN this reveals video service Hulu.

3. Private Tunnel. Test mode is limited to the choice of the virtual location of the PC. Additional settings there. There is a limit to traffic up to 200 MB. For just over $ 10 you can get 50 GB extra, but this is hardly enough of a hardcore gamer.

4. SuperVPN Free VPN Client. Is a convenient software for protecting your online information and ensuring your privacy while using the internet. Free for android, under the link the full review and the link to download

5. Hola. Available as extensions for Chrome or Firefox. Dashing to the level of 1 GB, then the speed does not exceed 128 kbps. To remove the restriction, you need to pay at the rate of $5 per month.

6. TunnelBear. The easiest to set up, as it has just one button on and off. The free version is limited traffic. One user can have a maximum of 500 MB per month.

Setting up VPN for online games

Before installing VPN for gaming decide with the provider. It is better to choose paid as a small price to pay off the lack of extra nerves when connecting. Most popular – HideMe.ru. The company’s services are very cheap compared to competitors. For a little more than 100 rubles per year subscription you will be provided with a full package of tools for the safe Internet. No annual subscription for one month costs nearly three times more expensive.

VPN setup here is pretty simple: download the app on your computer and choose one of the offered servers. Available test mode where you for several days can test all aspects of the programme. Its main advantage is a function of the Chameleon. It applies additional encryption to secure traffic.

How to choose a VPN for gaming: the settings of the Internet connection
All interactions on the world wide web happen through the transmission of data “chunks.” One “portion” is called a package, which holds the address of the recipient and the sender, useful information, messages about possible errors. Each box is a separate independent unit; its size is governed by the protocols of the network.

Each network connection has a few parameters characterizing the quality of his work, to which you should pay attention to when choosing a VPN for gaming:

Speed. Directly affects the jump and receiving streaming data. In the case of online games are increased at least 2 Mbit/sec, as the multiplayer mode does not require the transfer of a large volume of packages.

Ping. The length of time for which the package covers the distance from client PC to server and back. For an easy game, the sound should be less than 50 MS. Otherwise, there will be a noticeable lag in dynamic online battles.

The rate of packet loss. The percentage of lost data send. In modern fiber optic cables, this value tends to zero. Mobile network support ratio in the range of 1-2%.
Jitter. Sudden dips in connection speed at work network. Occurs because of a large number of factors and is still present in 4G networks.

Don’t forget that the speed shows how much data is transmitted for a specified period. It is measured in megabits per second. Not to be confused with megabytes! 1 megabyte is eight megabits. It is recommended to specify in advance what the magnitude of the measured characteristics of the tariff plan from your provider.

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Wargaming on Australia, community, and why World Of Tanks isn’t next-gen

Wargaming is continuing it’s push down under with local servers and full support. But what’s driving the interest in Australia? GamePace spoke with Wargaming’s Jasper Nicolas to find out.

So Wargaming is a pretty big deal. The strategy game developer — which started operating in 1998 but didn’t really start making noise until the 2010 release of World of Tanks — is slowly spreading out of Europe, into North America (where it’s already making a splash), and down into the Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia.

Tanks? Really? No! Really?

Anyone at PAX Australia this past weekend may have been taken back by the massive Wargaming booth smack-bang in the middle of the main hall, taking up much more space than anyone else showing off their wares.

There’s a reason Wargaming had such a big presence at PAX Australia, just as it did at E3 in Los Angeles a month earlier. Wargaming wants to take its tools of the trade to gamers the world over, and passionate gamer hubs like Australia are high on the Belarus-based developer’s agenda.

“When we came out with World of Tanks and started talking to global publishers about it, they were like, “No way! It’s not going to work. Tanks? Come on!”

Admit it: just as Wargaming.net’s Asia-Pacific GM, Jasper Nicolas, claims, Wargaming games, like World of Tanks, are always going to be a tough sell.

“Nobody could imagine themselves being embodied in a tank.”

Therein lay the challenge for Wargaming founder and CEO Victor Kislyi: make a not-so-appealing concept the most addictive strategy game on the market. When you have someone at the forefront leading the charge, according to Nicolas, it makes all the difference in selling a quality product to a cautious audience.

“Victor would say, ‘I believe the concept of our game and I believe it’s going to be massive,’” explained Nicolas. “And that’s why we rolled it out.”

Tankin’ it in Down Under

Aussie gamers are often complaining about something: prices, censorship, late release dates, slow internet speeds. Rightly so, it’s a community frustrated at the sometimes lacking support from international games companies.

Wargaming, however, acknowledges the passion among the community down here. Nicolas says that the typical Aussie gamer’s ability to stick it out, despite the frustrations, is enough to justify Wargaming’s push south of the equator.

“Australia has always been very open about participating in the beta service in North America, when play conditions were at 400-milliseconds, up to about 800-milliseconds. At that point nobody would play in that condition, would they?”

“Australian gamers have stuck with it [poor internet]. We recognise the fact that Australians deserve better” – Wargaming’s Jasper Nicolas

The online lag — the rage-inducing internet roadblock that’s been frustrating Aussie gamers for years — is a big part of the shifting Wargaming philosophy: it wants to reinvigorate the sentiment towards online competitive gaming.

“Australian gamers have stuck with it,” Nicolas continues. “And two years hence I thought, now is the perfect time to showcase it and give back to the Australian playing audience that World of Tank is here, Wargaming is here, and it’s here in a very clear and fully supported way.”

One of the biggest stories to come out of PAX Australia was the announcement of local servers for Wargaming’s titles. The company plans to have its own servers in Australia — “in whichever state is best suited” — because the current infrastructure isn’t good enough to keep the local (and passionate) gaming community on even footing with other regions.

“We recognise the fact that Australians deserve better,” Nicolas said.

If you’re online, chances are you’re part of a community. You may not even realise it. Even if you play Call of Duty predominantly alone, you’re part of that community of players: you each shape the way the game is played, relative to the skills of the opponent.

The online community philosophy, something we’re seeing both Microsoft and Sony push hard on with their next-gen consoles, has existed far longer in the PC landscape. It’s also why we shouldn’t disregard the importance of community in an online environment because it’s part of the push to get Wargaming down here.

“You guys are a great community, you deserve triple-A content, you deserve full support, you deserve to have all the things we do on a global scale be done here,” Nicolas said.

When you’re working on eight different countries, as Nicolas is, the differences in how gamers approach a game like World of Tanks shine through. Each country behaves differently in the online space, shaped by different cultures and understandings of the world. While Australia is “unique” and “independent”, its isolation makes it especially appealing.

“There’s no limit to what we can do as a community. Because as an independent company, we can do more than what governments are able to do. So I’m really glad about that. I’m glad to showcase Australia as the piece to the rest of the world that, despite its isolation from the rest of the world, it yet can be connected online and into the Asia-Pacific community.

Off to console we go…

Last month at E3, Wargaming announced World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition. While hardly a surprise — war games have helped define the Xbox brand for more than a decade — it seemed like a tough transition for a series so firmly embedded in PC game design.

However, Wargaming has acknowledged the differences in PC and console gaming, according to Nicolas, and they recognise the changes that needed to be made to the wider experience.

Top 5 Xbox 360 exclusives as voted by the GamePace community

Back in May we ran a poll asking GamePace’ers to vote for their favourite Xbox 360 exclusive of all time (including games that saw eventual releases on PC, as well as timed-exclusives).

The selection is slim pickings compared to what Sony dishes up for the PlayStation 3, but there’s still plenty of great action amidst the Xbox 360’s long life cycle of exclusive content.

Here’s the top 5 Xbox 360 exclusives, as voted by you. Do you agree with the list? What’s your “top 5”? Tell us below!

5th Place – Viva Pinata (4% of votes)

It’s been more than six years since Viva Pinata first graced our Xbox 360’s. The acclaimed game earned its developer, Rare, the most award nominations since a little-known game called GoldenEye 007 was turning heads. Viva Pinata still holds up as one of the more unique and engaging games on Xbox 360.

4th Place – Gears of War 3 (9%)

While it’s admittedly time for Microsoft and Epic to cool off on the Gears love, the series went from strength to strength with each new iteration. The recently-released Judgment hit the right notes with reviewers, but GamePace members hold Gears of War 3 up as the best in the series.

3rd Place – Forza Motorsport 4 (12%)

The Forza series has become one of Microsoft’s flagship Xbox brands, with the fifth entry set to launch in early 2014 for Xbox One. The latest entry is arguably the best, and ranks third among Xbox 360 exclusives.

2nd Place – Alan Wake (15%)

Remedy’s long-awaited action game went through multiple design changes, but the final product is just as good as many of us expected it to be. Alan Wake set new standards for storytelling in games, and while it didn’t set the world on fire sales wise, it still holds up as one of the Xbox 360’s strongest titles.

1st Place – Halo 3 (25%)

Despite being released in 2007, Halo 3 has stood the test of time to come out the clear winner as the best Xbox 360 exclusive this generation. Despite its successor in Halo 4 being one of the most acclaimed games on 2012, Halo 3 easily trumps it in the quality stakes.

The most versatile video game voice actors

Over the weekend, I (sadly) finished The Last of Us and my intriguing journey through post-apocalyptic America was over. I had an absolute blast with the story and its fascinating characters, brought to life by some extremely well-done motion capture and genuine, emotionally engaging voice-acting.

I enjoyed the cast and the writing so much that it – along with my recent playthroughs of other story-centric titles like Persona 4: Golden and Mass Effect – got me thinking about how under-appreciated the great voice talent in video games are compared to their television or film counterparts, and how important stellar voice-acting is in bringing your favourite video game narrative to life.

I decided to make a list of the most versatile, prolific VAs in video games to pinpoint some of the best talent who should get more recognition for making our favourite games that much more engaging and enjoyable.

Troy Baker

Troy Baker is perhaps the biggest voice actor at the moment, and in my opinion is taking over Nolan North’s spot as one of the most popular and recognised in the video games industry. 2013 has been an especially prominent time for Baker, landing his now famous leading roles as Joel in the The Last of Us and Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite. Baker has voiced a diverse range of leading and supporting characters over the years: he is the default voice for male characters in Saints Row 3, the arrogant Jake Muller in Resident Evil 6, and heroic Ryu Hayabusa in the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden franchises.

Baker is also well known for his work in JRPG localisations in the West, with the most prominent (and my favourite) in Tales of Vesperia as protagonist Yuri Lowell and Kanji Tatsumi in Persona 4, the latter of which he’s personally attributed as one of the most “intriguing characters” he’s played. Kanji is a fan favourite for being a realistic portrayal of a sexually confused adolescent male in an industry that is usually hostile or otherwise stereotypical in their portrayal of such characters.

Baker brings every character he voices to life with genuine emotion and captivating charisma; whether it’s through Joel’s angry grunts and southern drawl or Yuri Lowell’s quiet genius, there’s a reason why he’s recognised as a distinctive and brilliant VA.

Jennifer Hale

Jennifer Hale is undeniably one of the most recognisable voice actors in the industry, with over a hundred roles in games under her belt, and she has even been named the “the queen of video game acting” in a 2011 issue of The New Yorker. Hale is most well known as the voice of Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid, female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect and Bastila Shan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Like Baker, Hale has extensive credits in a diverse range of genres, and has done so much minor voice-acting work – she’s listed as the ‘Multiplayer Announcer’ in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and was the grunts and screams of Samus Aran in the Metroid Prime Trilogy – that it’s hard not to hear her voice somewhere in your favourite game.

My favourite role of Hale is as Sheena Fujibayashi in Tales of Symphonia and as Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. She brings nuance and emotion to every role, making every character she plays infinitely more animated, grounded and exciting.

Keith David

Keith David’s authoritative, resonant voice doesn’t need much distinguishing from the crowd. One of the most profilic and versatile VAs in the medium, David is probably most memorable for playing the hardened but kind-hearted mentor, particularly as Captain Anderson in Mass Effect and Julius in Saints Row.

David’s bad-ass voice as been put to work in more than just mentor roles, though: he’s voiced aliens in Halo 2 as the deeply troubled Arbiter, a trapped spirit in Planescape Torment as Vhailor, and even roles as minor as “Opening Video Voiceover” for WrestleMania 2000.

Whatever game he’s in, David always brings that extra dramatic oomph, especially in the upcoming Saints Row IV, where he plays… himself!

Liam O’Brien

Play any popular video game and chances are you’ve heard Liam O’Brien’s distinctive voice. Whether he’s the laid-back loser, the gruff and tough survivor or the wannabe aristocrat, O’Brien is a master at his craft, but it’s crazy that’s he often uncredited for his work.

O’Brien seems to specialise in voicing a range of minor characters in each game he works on rather than one central figure: his voice is extremely prominent in The Last of Us as the Infected and random Hunters, in BioShock Infinite and Call of Duty as additional voices, and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty as the Terran Ghost Unit.

When he does voice a single figure, O’Brien often plays eccentric, aristocratic villains. He has a knack for bringing the completely insane to life, especially with his evil laugh, which he uses with pretty much every villain he plays. My favourite roles of his is as Cumore in Tales of Vesperia and Dist in Tales of the Abyss, but chances are you’ve heard him voice one of your favourite random characters without even realising it. You’d be forgiven though: his vocal range is ridiculous.

Claudia Black

Claudia Black is another rising star in the video game voice acting field, coming from a successful acting career in several sci-fi television shows. Black is the husky, seductive voice behind the sultry Chloe Frazer in Uncharted, the manipulative Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins, and the tough-as-nails Samantha Byrne in Gears of War 3. She’s also done plenty of minor work in Crysis, God of War, and Rage.

Black’s roles are often of strong-willed, sexually forward female companions which is pretty much a win-win with gamers. However, Black brings more than sex appeal to her portrayals. She brought the witty, manipulative Morrigan to life as a misunderstood outcast and is the only VA that embodies the same charisma and edginesss that Chloe Frazer carries.

Dee Bradley Baker

Dee Bradley Baker is the king of voicing all of our favourite video games monsters and zombies. He’s the rumbling, intimidating roar and scary hiss behind General RAAM and the Locust Theron Guards in Gears of War, the screaming Infected in Left 4 Dead 2, and the evil parasite Gravemind in Halo 3.

Bradley Baker isn’t just the guy to go to for animalistic noises, though. He’s also played Ra’s al Ghul in Arkham City and Joe in Viewtiful Joe, as well as several other minor characters over the years.

However, Bradley Baker’s most distinctive and colourful roles are always in our favourite video game monsters and demons, and the way he brings these inhuman characters to life is simply amazing and should be more noticed. Voicing evil things probably isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone.

John DiMaggio

If you ever want the tough-guy character, DiMaggio makes any game bad-ass. He’s behind the iconic rumbling growl of Marcus Fenix in Gears of War, Juggernaut in X-Men Legends and the voice of the Brutes (fitting) in Halo 2.

DiMaggio may be at his best as the “don’t f**k with me” kind of character, but he’s voiced plenty of unique roles over the years, including the extremely flamboyant Jann Walker in Valkyria Chronicles and, of course, Bender in most Futurama videogame adaptations. His voice is extremely distinctive but his range extremely broad, and he definitely deserves more attention for the level of personality he imbues into his characters.

Tara Strong

If you’ve ever watched a cartoon from the 1990s or early 2000s, you’ll know Tara Strong’s voice. One of the most versatile voice actors in any industry, Strong has played everything from the energetic and spirited Rikku in Final Fantasy X, the stoic and creepy Presia Combatir in Tales of Symphonia, or the bubbly Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw.

Strong is one of my favourite VAs just because of the level of energy she exudes in her performances and how endearing she makes her characters, even if they’re overly happy. She’s best at playing hyper characters but every one she voices has personality and shines through the story, whether or not the dialogue is up to scratch – FF X, I’m looking at you.

Fred Tatasciore

Fred Tatasciore has one of the most flexible voices if you go by his extensive video game voice acting credits. He’s usually the go-to-guy for rough assholes or monstrous brutes like Damon Baird in Gears of War and his continuous recurring role as the Hulk in both television and video games.

Tatasciore’s voice is always prominent wherever he’s employed, with a particular highlight as Saren in Mass Effect. Even in the background, he’s noticeable: he played various brutal Hunters in The Last of Us and several monsters in Left 4 Dead, God of War and injected a level of unique personality many other VAs couldn’t hope to match.

Steve Blum

Watch any cartoon, anime or play a video game in the last 15 years and you’ll know Blum’s voice. Playing a ridiculous amount of extras and minor characters in the background – he voiced nearly all of the random marines in Quake IV, for example – as well as some memorable, quirky roles – think Zombie Voice in Saints Row 3 – and Blum makes this list easily.

Blum’s signature giveaway is his distinctive guttural growl he employs with the various anti-heroes and tough guys he’s voiced – think Colonel Burns in Vanquish or Jack Cayman in MadWorld – and you’ll know who Blum is.

Is the internet turning gamers into “entitled snowflakes”?

Are we raging out for no more reason than “just because”?

The above phrase came out of a personal conversation where a friend of mine used it to describe the culture of self-entitlement gamers have continuously entrenched themselves in. And in light of Microsoft’s ‘Xbox 180’ policy change last week, I’m beginning to wonder if the internet itself is to blame for this change in attitude.

The internet is indeed a powerful tool, my friends. It gives any collective group of people a worldwide stage to voice their concerns, opinions and dislike of any one thing. And in the most extreme circumstance, said feedback can cause entire companies to change course.

That’s what happened last week, with Don Mattrick publishing an open letter on the Xbox website announcing the reversal of the company’s controversial DRM policies for its forthcoming console; Xbox One. In the letter, he cited fans’ feedback as the reason, a reason that we can argue is a desperate plea to urge gamers back to the Xbox brand in face of the onslaught of weeks of negative press and social media trends.

For now, we’ll sidestep the ‘should they/shouldn’t they have’ debate for now, since there’s already a much larger discourse going on everywhere else, including this very site, and instead focus on the apparent cause of Microsoft’s change in policy; gamers online feedback.

This wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory a games company seemingly “caved” to fans online feedback. Just last year BioWare, under intense fan feedback and criticism over the ending of Mass Effect 3, released DLC in the form of an extended Director’s Cut for the aforementioned game.

Rather than stay true to their original vision for the title, BioWare deemed it necessary to go back and offer fans something in the vein of which they wanted; closure, it turns out. And why did the company turn around and deliver this piece of free DLC? To paraphrase the great George Costanza, “the internet was angry that day, my friends,”.

More recently, Nintendo has come under fire for its ‘steep’ pricing of its Virtual Consoles games on Wii U. In Australia, an NES game is priced at $6.50, $10.50 for a SNES title, and in the eyes of many, we’re apparently getting gouged with such prices. Though if you take a step back, you’ll realize that they’re fairly reasonable when you consider the price tag you’d expected to pay if purchasing a physical copy of any one game either at a retailer who deals in vintage games, or a seller on eBay.

And yet, many gamers decided to flood Miiverse and Nintendo’s social media channels voicing their concern on pricing, making the argument that Virtual Consoles are nothing more than “ROM dumps”. Oh, please. While I won’t pretend to know the full machinations of porting a game to Virtual Console, the act alone of ensuring the game runs smoothly as originally intended on both the Wii U and GamePad would certainly justify the price tag.

The fuel of these blazing campaigns is indeed the anonymous nature of the internet. While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter certainly do well to break down that particular barrier, the point is if someone feels strongly enough about something they’ll raise hell and highwater if they so wish.

We’ve all heard the term ‘keyboard warrior’, and regardless of whether our full name, profile picture, and vital stats are on show, and even if they’re not, the internet provides us a way to push our own personal opinions without fear of face to face confrontation. And that, really, is a fear a lot of people have. It’s certainly easy to be a jerk to any company, organization body or individual when you see yourself as nothing more than a title screen name.

Though while the internet gives a forum to allow it, there’s still a driving force behind our actions. In the case of overly “expensive” Virtual Console games, it’s a culture of a ‘race to the bottom’ wherein we’re now expecting more content, for less price. With the Mass Effect 3 controversy we all felt the game was ours, and so we felt BioWare deserved to give us more than what we were given.

And what of Microsoft’s change of policy with Xbox One? The fact of the matter is everyone was scared of the DRM ecosystem the company was moving towards, and all the new innovations it would be bringing to the table. While Microsoft didn’t do the best job of conveying its message, what they were building was new territory, for better or worse, and a future we’ll now forever be wondering what would look like.

By no means am I trying to devalue anyone’s opinion, after all the freedom of speech is a wonderful thing? I only question if we’re being far too liberal with our rights to speak up. If you’re unhappy with something, then, by all means, provide feedback to the company involved. There is, however, a fine line between voicing genuine concern, and outright complaining like an entitled child.

Games are still getting banned – I thought we had an R18+ rating now?

I was an Authorised Assessor for Computer and Video games for nine years. That means that for nine years I was the person at the publisher I worked for who was in charge of completing the submissions to the (then) Office of Film and Literature Classification for our games. I’d fill out the reports detailing all the nastiness in the game – the violence, the drugs, the sex, the coarse language etc.

I was also recording footage of said violent content, giving a recommendation to the OFLC as to what level that content fell in (G, PG, M, MA15+ etc), and basically painting a picture of what all the stuff which was classifiable in each game was like and where in the game to find it.

With the new R18+ rating firmly in place, there are a lot of people wondering why we’re still seeing games being banned, with Saint’s Row IV and State of Decay both falling by the wayside this week.

It’s a shame, but here’s the skinny on why this stuff is still happening. When the R18+ rating was under consideration at a Federal level, the proposed guidelines for them were first releases publicly after some consultation.

The guidelines existed previously when we didn’t have an R18+ rating and listed precisely what was allowable at each level. For example, at G, you couldn’t have any nudity (obviously). At MA15+, you could, but only if it was ‘justified by context’.

Nudity being justified by context was always an interesting one since someone streaking at a footy match is still technically in context.

Regardless, some guidelines changed, others were moved up to R18+, new ones were stipulated and in general, the whole landscape shifted.

Those which are worth noting include that at MA15+ sexual violence was not allowed to be implied unless justified by context. Now, under R18+ it can also not be ‘interactive’.

The interactive nature of the alien anal probe in Saint’s Row IV is the reason is still managed to contravene the guidelines in spite of the R18+ rating being in existence. For a great couple of write-ups on different perspectives on this side of the debacle, see my own work on MCV and Brenna Hillier’s writing on VG247.

But since both titles were flagged for drug use, I wanted to outline the drug guideline, which simply hasn’t changed.

Both before and now, drug use ‘must not be related to incentives or rewards’. This meant that if you snorted cocaine in a video game and it gave you powerups or something, you were banned.

Fairly black and white.

Where the area got grey was in the use of things which were analogous to drugs. In Bioshock, the only thing which saw the obvious drug reference of the Plasmid get through was its name. It was injected intravenously, was addictive as all hell and saw the breakdown of society. An incredibly obvious analogy for drugs. And they definitely were tied to incentives or rewards – they gave you fireballs in your hands for god’s sake!

But they weren’t drugs.

They were Plasmids.

When Fallout 3 got into hot water for the same problem, it was because the drugs were used for health purposes (an incentive or reward), and were real world drugs. Granted morphine is actually used for those exact purposes in real life war situations, but that wasn’t the point. The guidelines don’t specify illegal drugs.

Flash forward to this week, where the guidelines haven’t been changed at all, and what have we got?

‘Alien narcotics’ in Saint’s Row IV. I’d argue here that by virtue of being ‘alien’, they can’t be real world drugs, but since they’re called ‘narcotics’ specifically, the Classification Board has seen fit to override their alienness.

And there’s the myriad of drugs available to create, take and ultimately use for survival in State of Decay. Now that one is in direct contradiction of the guidelines, and it makes sense that it would be banned.

Not that I think the guidelines are right to phrase things the way they do. I don’t think it should be as clear-cut as it currently is.

But the guidelines are what they are, and we’re still going to get games slapped with the RC label from time to time. We may not agree or like it, but this is the reality of what the R18+ classification is and means.

If you want to know exactly what is and isn’t allowed, check out the current ratings guidelines for yourself.