The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – First Impressions (3DS)

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I love Zelda games, let’s get that straight at the beginning. Link To The Past on the SNES is possibly a favourite so when I heard there was a new Zelda 3DS game I was more than a little excited. However, I was less enthusiastic about its reuse of old maps from the SNES classic. I was a little worried that this just a way to reuse that game with a few twists.

However I found that my fears were unwarranted. As I started playing The Legend of Zelda Link Between Worlds I discovered a fully fledged new experience. It makes use of Link to the Past for art style and inspiration but not for content.

The game plays almost perfectly on the Nintendo 3DS, and seems to have been aimed at the slightly more casual audience on Nintendo’s handhelds. Where as my kids (and me at times) used to get stuck and need some on-line assistance with Zelda games, here I found that they could progress at a steady pace without intervention.
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New Wonderbook-Playstation Eye Titles – Let’s Play Videos of Book of Potions & Walking With Dinosaurs (PS3)

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Although they have been a little slow in coming, Book of Potions and Walking With Dinosaurs, the new Wonderbook titles extend the library in fine style and demonstrate what a great piece of technology the Wonderbook-Playstation Eye combination really is.

With some early hands-on time with the game Andy Robertson of Family Gamer TV puts the new interactive stories to the test with his family. Although you do need to ensure your room is well lit to get the best out of the augmented reality experience, the results in good conditions are certainly impressive.

The two games offer very different experiences. Book of Potions, including content from J. K. Rowling is another wizard based adventure where the player must learn potions to compete in a big contest and win the day. Whereas Walking With Dinosaurs from the BBC offers more actually story telling and mixes in a good amount of educational elements as well. You need to pay attention if you are to score top marks in the quiz at the end of the chapter.
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Takedown Preview – Interview with Christian Allen

So back at E3, a couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to get the chance to sit down with an industry veteran, Christian Allen, who’s now becoming responsible for bringing the hardcore tactical shooter back to the market, where more casual shooters have left a large subsection of the gamer audience clamouring for more depth, more realism and better tactical gameplay. Project Takedown reached its Kickstarter funding goal back in the beginning of April, and the team at Serellan is now getting stuck into the development, working to reintroduce the genre, eschewing certain elements of modern FPS design that have begun to compromise the shooter experience, in favour of a more old school approach.
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DayZ Preview – Interview With Dean ‘rocket’ Hall

DayZ, Dean “rocket” Hall’s zombie survival mod for Bohemia Interactive’s Arma II, has exploded over the face of the internet’s games community. This is not just ‘some zombie game’ to add to the pile of industry’s most ubiquitous theme – it’s what everyone, from the word go, has been asking for from a zombie game: open-world realistic survival.

Still in alpha, as its creator is eager to stress, DayZ is drawing an inordinate amount of gamers into its harsh world simply by providing a large open island filled with villages and towns, Chernarus, a selection of scavengable weapons, medical supplies and food, scattered throughout the empty buildings and 30-50 other players, who may or may not be willing to try to survive alongside each other. With 1:1 time, food, drink and blood meters along with the occasional need for realistic first aid treatment and full-on unrestricted PvP, DayZ’s vision of the zombie apocalypse is bleak and satisfyingly simple in its realism.
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Arma 3 Preview (@ZathUK at E3 2012)

arma-3-cover-artBohemia Interactive released Arma 2 three years ago, and thanks to its expansive open world and realistic design, space for player creativity and extensive mod support, it’s still going strong if sales and the activity of the community are anything to go by; which they are. BI’s approach to to its sequel, I’m assured by Jay Crowe, Creative Director, is that of building upon that solid base, developing new innovations and features that can latch onto their powerful in-house Real Virtuality engine.

While Arma 2 excelled in its vast landscapes and incredibly realistic ballistics, it lacked a little in some of the finer details. Arma 3 has gone to lengths to fix that. NPC animations have been updated to look more natural and to take the surrounding terrain into account, the whole world is more colourful and more detailed and the inventory has been revamped (it was really needed) with a tab system that looks infinitely more usable.
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Planetside 2 Preview (@ZathUK at E3 2012)

planetside-2-logoIt’s been a while since Sony Online Entertainment released the original Planetside – nine years to be exact. It was a great idea, and an admirable one, but it was launched way before its time. Now Planetside 2 is well on its way to release, being shown for the first time at E3.

Most notably it’s free to play – this is going to be a red flag to people, especially fans of the original; but from what we’ve been told so far the pricing structure looks promising. Cosmetic changes make up the bulk of ‘Station Cash’ purchases, along with a few limited upgrades and weapons (which can also be bought with in-game resources). Obviously, getting the right balance here is absolutely critical, and success in this area is the difference between pay-to-win games that fall by the wayside and hugely popular games like Blacklight: Retribution or Tribes: Ascend.
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Crysis 3 Preview (@ZathUK at E3 2012)

crysis-3-cover-artCrytek was kind enough to let us get a hands-on preview of Crysis 3 today and opened by telling us that Prophet will be the main character – apparently he didn’t die in Crysis 2. Why? How? You’ll have to wait and see, we are told. On that note I was dropped into a New York cityscape invaded by the elements, sprawling with jungle plants and trees from street level to skyscraper and the CryEngine (with a bit of help from some very expensive computers we were playing on) had made it look stunning.

After having been sealed under a dome by the Cell Corporation, New York has become rather steamy and different sections of the city have been transformed into different types of jungle environment including canyons and swamps.
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Dishonored Preview (@ZathUK at E3 2012)

dishonored-box-artToday, amidst the E3 show floor madness, I got the chance to check out a hands-on preview for Arcane Studio’s new action RPG Dishonored. First up Harvey Smith, lead designer on the now legendary Deus Ex, ran us through a demo set in a brothel, the Golden Cat, showing the variety in gameplay, first running through stealthily and unseen, then bounding in spraying weapons this way and that.

As revealed before, our supernatural assassin protagonist, out for revenge after being framed for the murder of the Empress, has a number of extraordinary abilities: a kind of force push, a short range teleport, time stopping, character possession, dark vision (see guards through walls) and the ability to summon a swarm of rats to strip victims of their flesh. Seeing these abilities being used in conjunction with each other is the real joy.
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Splinter Cell: Blacklist Preview (@ZathUK at E3 2012)

splinter-cell-blacklist-cover-artUbisoft have apparently spent the last two years developing this game and packing in as much content as possible, we are told. At E3 they are focusing on the single player campaign and showing off the new and returned features that Sam Fisher’s newest global conspiracy has to offer.

The demo we see, described to us by lead level designer Matt West, is set on the Iran-Iraq border. Sam, disguised as an insurgent enters in an enemy camp pretending to have a wounded teammate. After a few men are efficiently capped in the head, Sam sticks a knife in the leader’s chest and interrogates the suspect. At this point we are told that this Splinter Cell is going to be all about the choices, as the player is given the option to kill or simply knock out the enemy – how these choices will affect the game, we are not told.
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