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Mike Plant grew up on a diet of Final Fantasy, Monkey Island, TIE Fighter and Super Mario Bros. He now takes advantage of this idle youth by dividing his time between his The Console column for newspaper The Independent and editing his own blog GamesCatalyst.com. His quest to dispel the myth held by mainstream media, that games are the work devil, continues…
Destiny

Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed

Repetition is a funny thing. If I was to write this review and say everything twice (say everything twice), you’d quite reasonably think I was daft. And yet, we gamers tend to delight in the repeat performance. Destiny - Mulitplayer The usual suspects? We even affectionately refer to it as “grinding” – the system whereby RPGs …
Mike Plant, 15 Sep 2014
Naughty Dog - The Last of Us Remastered

Coming to a console near you: Destiny beta and The Last of Us Remastered

During my time with the Destiny beta I’ve veered from game to game in a bid to nail down exactly what it is that Destiny reminds me of most. Activision Destiny Beta Character classes: suits you At first that game was Halo and no prizes for guessing why. Not only is Destiny built by Halo’s creator, Bungie, but with its sci-fi …
Mike Plant, 31 Jul 2014
Sunset Overdrive

Waiting gamer slams no-show show: E3 – was that it?

Bloodborne, No Man's Sky, Evolve, Rainbox Six: Siege, D4, Alien: Isolation, Sunset Overdrive, Witcher 3 and Inside. Call me a hipster, but this short list is made up of the scant few games that I was genuinely excited from this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the gamerfest better known as E3. Youtube Video My overwhelming …
Mike Plant, 13 Jun 2014
Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs: Eat, sleep, hack, repeat

In preparation for tangling with Watch Dogs, I spent plenty of time revisiting the salty seadogs of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Presuming that one Ubisoft stealth-'em-up might have much in common with the other. Watch Dogs Oh, bollards to this In many ways, the fundamental Watch Dogs gameplay of infiltrate, kill and …
Mike Plant, 30 May 2014
Streetfighter 2: Chun Li kicks things off

Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

The petulant slap of a velvet glove across a rival’s cheek – the centuries-old prelude to a duel to the death between gentlemen. To the victor, the promise of a wrong righted and, quite possibly, the hand of a buxom beauty. For the defeated, nothing but dishonour, or else the cold embrace of the grave. Kubrick classic: Barry …
Mike Plant, 29 Apr 2014
TitanFall

Titanfall pits man against machine, Kiefer Sutherland Snakes into Metal Gear Solid V

Long have I wondered why franchises such as Battlefield and Call of Duty bother to include a single player entrée aside the multiplayer main course. The solo campaign might provide action set pieces to demo at E3 and subsequently showcase on adverts, but if it was missing would anyone really care? Titanfall EA has decided to …
Mike Plant, 04 Apr 2014
Thief

Hey frumious Reg gamers: BANG-or-SNATCH? We look at Second Son and Thief

This month we tackle to games at polar opposites of the ends of the subtlety spectrum. First up is Infamous: Second Son, a game that pitches a super-charged hero (or villain) into the midst of Seattle and begs him to explode things. Then there’s the shadowy stealth of Thief, as Garrett once more gets to grips with robbing from …
Mike Plant, 27 Mar 2014
Nintendo Animal Crossing

Wii got it WRONG: How do you solve a problem like Nintendo?

We dedicated gamers are a plucky bunch, happy to scream from the rafters that graphics aren’t everything and that gameplay is king. Trouble is, you need only look to Nintendo’s current plight to see that 95 per cent of our fellow games players – those who fill server upon server with online Call of Duty and Battlefield sessions …
Mike Plant, 17 Feb 2014
Don't Starve

HARD ONES: Three new PC games that are BLOODY DIFFICULT

Who said modern games are getting easier? Though it’s true that a great many titles pamper us with self-healing armour, paint-by-numbers mission design and handily placed ammo, there are still developers out there who remember the good old days. That was a time when coming into contact with any pixel of a foe – even a big toe – …
Mike Plant, 30 Jan 2014
Walking Dead

ASSAULT CORSE: Eager Walking Dead heads get a second series

Ah, the post-Christmas lull. The time of year to take time to reflect on the year just gone and plan for the one ahead. Traditionally, January is also a quiet month for the games industry, and this year’s new releases are similarly sparse. Thank the god of apps then, that nowadays games come thick and fast down our internet …
Mike Plant, 14 Jan 2014
Gran Turismo 6

Gran Turismo 6: Another glossy, gorgeous Mario Kart on steroids

I must admit to being rather surprised when Gran Turismo 6 was first announced. Not because yet another entry into Polyphony Digital’s driving series was a shock, but rather because it was announced for the PS3, not the the PlayStation 4. Gran Turismo 6 GT6: Revved not revised GT6 for PS4 makes rather a lot of sense, you see …
Mike Plant, 18 Dec 2013
Tiny Death Star

Speeding cops, fearsome drops and Death Star shops

Super Mario 3D World There’s been a marked downtrend in Mario’s platforming adventures of late. Especially with the New Super Mario Bros. series, at first something of a welcome throwback, but soon hitting the wall in terms of innovation. Never write off the heroic Italian plumber, however, for with Super Mario 3D World he’s …
Mike Plant, 11 Dec 2013
Killzone: Shadow Fall

Helghast-ly holiday: Killzone Shadow Fall

Guerrilla Games’ Killzone: Shadow Fall is almost impossibly good looking, especially considering it’s a launch title. Cityscapes sparkle, foliage is lush and figures cast long shadows. Lens flare is plentiful – so much so that at times I actually found myself squinting. Killzone: Shadow Fall Hel‘ghastly opponents Think back …
Mike Plant, 09 Dec 2013
Sony PS4

PS-PHWOARRR: We review Sony’s next-gen PlayStation 4

Taking the PlayStation 4 out of its box, my first thought was that it’s monolithic: the kind of object that 2001: A Space Odyssey’s hairy, belly scratching apemen would have danced around in worship. Sony PS4 Black monolith: Sony’s PlayStation 4 The console’s perpetual forward slant lends it an overtone of kinetic energy like …
Mike Plant, 27 Nov 2013
Call of Duty: Ghosts

HAUNTED HOWITZERS, it’s Call of Duty Ghosts

It’s a final stand for the current generation of console hardware as we go on patrol with the latest release in the increasingly tired Call of Duty series, Ghosts, but have a much more entertaining time with A Link Between Worlds in the latest Zelda game, and get to grips with the Big Bad Wolf in Fables: The Wolf Among Us. Call …
Mike Plant, 18 Nov 2013
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

SHIVER ME TIMBERS, it’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

A little bit of colour goes a long way in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. It's a game that takes the series’ parkour-heavy gameplay away from the bleak, ice-covered setting of the American plain, and drops it into the steamy, sunny Caribbean. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Arcade fire The golden age of pirating, circa 1715, …
Mike Plant, 12 Nov 2013
Battlefield 4

Forget 'Call of Duty: Ghosts' - how does its rival from EA stack up?

To borrow from football parlance, Battlefield 4 is your proverbial game of two halves. There’s the dry single-player campaign that, for all its bluster, offers few new ideas. Then there’s the juicy multiplayer version that will pull you in and devour your life. Battlefield 4 Squad manoeuvres My usual approach to writing games …
Mike Plant, 05 Nov 2013
Batman: Arkham Origins

HOLY how-did-we-get-here?: Batman Arkham Origins

It might be that I’m just a Batman fan, it might be that I’ve yet to be jaded by the Arkham series – certainly not to the extent that I am with the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed franchises – but I just can’t help but like Origins. Set on one particularly hectic Christmas Eve during the early days of Bruce Wayne’s caped …
Mike Plant, 30 Oct 2013
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls - the game that thinks it's a Hollywood blockbuster

Say hello to Jodie Holmes, a woman whose eventful life from infancy to adulthood forms the entirety of Beyond: Two Souls. Beyond: Two Souls Beyond: Two Souls tracks Jodie Holmes‘ life from paranormally active nipper... Assist Jodie as she sneaks out of her house during her rebellious teenage goth stage. Help her chop …
Mike Plant, 18 Oct 2013
FIFA 14

Reboot the formula: F1 and FIFA tweaked for another year

FIFA and F1 in the same review packed column – why, it must be nearly Christmas! Elsewhere we go dungeon crawling with Dragon’s Crown and get soaked through to the skin in Rain. FIFA 14 Another year, another FIFA. The arrival of FIFA 14 was so predictable that I’m not quite sure why EA doesn’t simply announce FIFA 15, 16 and 17 …
Mike Plant, 14 Oct 2013
Grad Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto V: Violent, sweary and amazingly ambitious

It’s rare that I walk out in the mean streets of London and experience carpet-bombing marketing for a videogame, but that’s exactly what happened this week. Something called Grand Theft Auto V is now available to purchase apparently, so I thought I might start with that. Elsewhere the rather great Zelda adventure, The Wind Waker …
Mike Plant, 23 Sep 2013
Rayman Legends

Everybody Loves Rayman: Legends dethrones Mario

Heading this week’s games was meant to be Total War: Rome II, but a PC malfunction means I’m having to postpone marching off up the Appian Way until next time. No matter, however, as a feast of games still awaits – including the year’s best platformer... Rayman Legends Wii U owners are a hardy bunch, capable of taking abuse on …
Mike Plant, 12 Sep 2013
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist... Spy HARDER

With the excitement of Gamescom still ongoing, it’s easy to forget that the weekly release of videogames continues unabated. Thankfully the idle hours of the impending Bank Holiday offer a firm reminder - especially given the extended weekend marks the release of one of the year’s best action games: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: …
Mike Plant, 23 Aug 2013
Killzone: Mercenary

Shadowrun Returns and Killzone: Mercenary ... old titles, new takes

As the traditional quiet of August sets in, it’s over to a selection of download-only titles to provide the fix that gamers need. Step forward Microsoft’s latest Summer of Arcade collection – led by the excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – and Harebrained Schemes’ take on Shadowrun, both proving that there’s still reason to …
Mike Plant, 13 Aug 2013
Pikmin 3

Pikmin to the rescue: Can Nintendo revamp revive Wii U fortunes?

With the heatwave apparently set to give way to stormy weather, it might be about time to batten down the hatches and get comfy with a new game. This week we’re off for a walk in the forest with Pikmin 3, tracking down a master thief in The Raven and getting overwhelmed by choice in Valve’s Dota 2. Pikmin 3 The Wii U’s version …
Mike Plant, 24 Jul 2013

The Yawhg vs XCOM: Enemy Unknown. How small devs can win against the big boys

As far as the recipe for a successful new gaming genre would go, the combination of an essentially text-based role-playing adventure with a beery party game would seem very wide of the mark. Crunching stats and hardcore partying hardly seem to go together. Colour me wrong, however, for in Emily Carroll and Damian Sommer’s PC- …
Mike Plant, 11 Jul 2013
Bungie's Destiny

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo: The big three slug it out at E3

Now that the dust has settled on the maelstrom of gaming news that is the E3 show, it’s down to us gamers to sift through the detritus and choose sides. Why can’t we all just get along, huh? This year’s show was even more brutal than most, with Sony and Microsoft all but resorting to fisticuffs over their PS4 and Xbox One …
Mike Plant, 25 Jun 2013
Last of Us screencap

Out with a bang: The Last of Us lets PS3 exit with head held high

I’ll soon be offering my thoughts and reflections on this year’s E3, but before all that it seemed worth waxing lyrical about new PS3 exclusive The Last of Us, a game that points the way to what the next generation should really be aspiring to do. Gaming’s Citizen Kane moment? Maybe, if Mr Kane was being chased by zombies. The …
Mike Plant, 19 Jun 2013
Steve Jackson

Interview: Steve Jackson, role-playing game titan

There aren’t many interviews – particularly when it comes to those offered because someone has a new video game to promote – that take place at the home of the interviewee. Such was the case, however, when I went to meet Steve Jackson. A man who, along with university chum Ian Livingstone, not only founded Games Workshop, but …
Mike Plant, 06 Jun 2013
Metro: Last Lights

Is the next-gen console war already One?

How else to start a Game Theory column other than with the Xbox One? With the dust starting to settle on news reports, I’ve gone for a rather more devil’s advocate approach to Microsoft’s unveiling. There’s also room for a review of Metro: Last Light, and a quick look at the splendid The Last of Us to whet the appetite for next …
Mike Plant, 24 May 2013
Sorcery!

Fighting Fantasy and fantastic fights in tights

This month’s column has been unceremoniously cleft in twain. Why? Because, while May’s big news will undoubtedly revolve around Microsoft’s unveiling of its Xbox 360 successor, there are still a fine number of new releases to discuss. Expect the second part of this month’s Games Theory right after the dust has settled on all …
Mike Plant, 10 May 2013
Gears of War: Judgement

Gaming's favourite platters get another stir of the pot

Another month goes by and, as ever, gaming isn’t short of its share of news and controversies. While recent reveals of Battlefield 4, Metal Gear Solid V, The Witcher 3 and Thief: Out of the Shadows show us what the future holds, there's no getting around the fact that we're currently entrenched in a present in which …
Mike Plant, 05 Apr 2013
Lara Croft 2013

Trip the fight fantastic

After a gap of five weeks or so since my last column the games industry has suddenly become a whole new animal. The next generation - well, Sony’s at least - has been revealed, and games publishers are finally able to talk about developing for a new breed of consoles without resorting to coded, barely voiced communications. It’s …
Mike Plant, 15 Mar 2013
SimCity 4

SimCity 4

There’s a prevalent feeling throughout the whole of SimCity 4 that this is the game that Will Wright and Maxis would have liked to have made from day one. That is if graphics technology and PC hardware had been up to the task when the original SimCity was in development. The 2003 release was expanded in both the macro and the …
Mike Plant, 14 Mar 2013
SimCity 3000

SimCity 3000

I don’t know if my gaming habits had started to become dominated by RTS and FPS games by the time SimCity 3000 made its delayed debut in 1999, but for some reason I don’t recall it registering on my radar. Strange, for not only was SimCity 2000 one of my favourite games - as it remains to this day - but its sequel was also a …
Mike Plant, 07 Mar 2013
SimCity 2000

SimCity 2000

The summer of 1995, I remember it well. I was but a slip of lad at the time, slightly console obsessed perhaps, but about to embark on a period of PC gaming that would put me at the forefront of cutting-edge videogame technology, nearly bankrupting my parents as I went. It was my birthday and I’d just finished hooking up my …
Mike Plant, 01 Mar 2013
SimCity

SimCity Classic

Doughnuts. Doughnuts are what I think of when someone mentions SimCity in my vicinity. Not because I used to cram them into my face, Homer Simpson-style, while I played, but rather because, back in my childhood, I was obsessed with arranging my own ‘simmed’ city in perfect concentric 'doughnuts'. Squares in three-by-three …
Mike Plant, 22 Feb 2013
Strike Suit Zero

Bioshock Infinite, Devil May Cry, SimCity

The first few months of the year are, as ever, a time for the public and publishers alike to draw breath after the Christmas frenzy. Only a handful of full-price games launch, giving gamers time to catch a breath and ponder what they’ll spend their money on in the year to come. That said, this period is already clocking up …
Mike Plant, 08 Feb 2013
Far Cry 3

2012: A generation-spanning year for gaming

This year has been arguably the most important year for the videogames industry in a long time. Not only did we see Sony take a final punt at the handheld market with the PS Vita - a move it may well now be regretting - but 2012 also saw Nintendo usher in the next generation of gaming with the Wii U. Sure, the Wii U may not be a …
Mike Plant, 13 Dec 2012
New Super Mario Bros. U

Six of the best Nintendo Wii U games

All new consoles need the right line-up of games to make them a success. The Wii U, however, finds itself in the unusual position of not only having brand new games built for it at launch, but also having numerous games ported over from Xbox 360 and PS3. Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders 2, Assassin’s Creed 3, Mass Effect 3, FIFA …
Mike Plant, 30 Nov 2012
Wii U

Nintendo Wii U Review

Six years ago Nintendo brought gaming to the masses with the Wii, now it’s hoping to repeat the trick. The Wii U signals not only Nintendo’s first foray into HD, but the arrival of a new peripheral for us to get to grips with in the shape of the Wii U GamePad and its ‘asymmetric’ gameplay. Wii U Playing the field: Nintendo's …
Mike Plant, 30 Nov 2012
Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 game review

In a few simple beats Far Cry 3's accidental hero, Jason Brody, goes from being nervy, spoilt rich kid to John Rambo, as his extreme sports holiday takes a turn for the worse. It’s a forgivably quick process for plot development purposes, if an abrupt one, but made palatable by the use of subtle tricks skilfully employed to pull …
Mike Plant, 29 Nov 2012
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 game review

The knives have been sharpened, the vitriol pumped, the maps cleared of bodies and the zombies starved. It can only mean one thing: Call of Duty: Black Op 2 is upon us. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Flagging the issue It's the series where reviewers can never win, and Activision's coffers never fail to be filled. Where one wrong …
Mike Plant, 16 Nov 2012
Assassin's Creed 3

Assassin's Creed 3 game review

"His name is Desmond Miles and he has brought us to the end." So begins Assassin's Creed 3. Frankly, if you believe this really is the end then you'll believe anything. No, rather than an end, AC3 is a fresh beginning, a place for new hero Connor Kenway to "rise" as the game's tagline puts it – form an orderly queue behind …
Mike Plant, 09 Nov 2012
Master Chief

In the loop: how Halo defined a new decade of first-person shooters

The glint of alien sunlight on green body armour; the spark of purple crystal shards arcing their way across the battlefield; the roar of a Warthog’s engine as it bounces across uneven terrain; and the dull thud as the butt of Master Chief’s gun impacts Covenant skull… familiar enough occurrences these days given the impact Halo …
Mike Plant, 06 Nov 2012
Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6 game review

What a dumbfounding series Resident Evil is. First, we have the innovations – popularising the survival horror genre for one. Then later, perfecting the third-person shooter camera, before taking environmental interaction to new heights. The game even led the way in cooperative campaign mechanics. But then there's the series' …
Mike Plant, 19 Oct 2012
Dishonored

Dishonored game review

Remember those Fighting Fantasy "choose your own adventure" books penned by the likes of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone - now whatever happened to them... - in the mid-1980s? Well, Dishonored plays like the ultimate version of one of those, offering choice in terms of strategy and approach at every turn. Dishonored Dolly …
Mike Plant, 16 Oct 2012
Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 review

Loot and shoot, shoot and loot: Borderlands 2 in a proverbial nutshell. Thank goodness then that it’s looting and shooting of the highest order, as another intrepid gang of vault hunters get tooled up and head into the wastelands, with the lure of untold wealth at the forefront of their minds. Borderlands 2 Crash and carry …
Mike Plant, 09 Oct 2012
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Take a good close look at your favourite multiplayer first-person shooter and chances are it owes much of its weapon balancing, map structure and pacing to Counter-Strike. A tactical, team-based Half-Life mod which first saw light of day in 1999 – having itself been influenced by the brilliant but glitchier Action Quake 2 – …
Mike Plant, 31 Aug 2012
Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw

Its name alone could be enough to suggest the origins of Lollipop Chainsaw. It's a title that somehow immediately resonates with Suda51’s Grasshopper Manufacture Inc, whether you knew it was one of its titles or not. Lollipop Chainsaw Bright squeeze With his studio already responsible for the "out there" experiences that are …
Mike Plant, 22 Jun 2012