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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…
Prototype 2

Prototype 2

In my mind’s eye I see the original Prototype in murky black and white, not because the game was without colour per se, but more because everything about it, from the repetitive use of textures through to the monotonous mission structure was somehow muddied and just, well, uninspired. Prototype 2 High blood pressure In a way …
Mike Plant, 04 May 2012
Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal

David Jaffe's vision for car-based deathmatching has always split gamers down the middle. Its love-it-or-hate-it mix of crass humour, barely there vehicle handling and everything but the kitchen sink approach to weaponry won't appeal to everyone. Nevertheless, Twisted Metal still garnered a sizeable following in its heyday. …
Mike Plant, 20 Mar 2012
Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Is it just me who remembers Final Fantasy III – actually, that’s FF VI if you’re Japanese – the mercurial tale of the evil Kefka and heroes Sabin, Edgar, Terra, et al? I recall the brilliant use of magical espers, its line-up of amazingly distinct fighters – Sabin even channelling Street Fighter-style special moves in a clever …
Mike Plant, 02 Feb 2012
Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur V

Ah, Soul Calibur, a game where over-muscled beefcakes and scantily clad teen girls clash in violent, weaponised mortal combat. Then, having ripped each other a new one, said combatants dust themselves off ready to battle the next day. Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a little trouble with the believability factor here; mind …
Mike Plant, 30 Jan 2012
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Look who it is. Just when you thought that the dust-gathering ornament you used to call a Nintendo games console was in permanent retirement, back it bounds. Why? Because there’s a new Legend of Zelda in town - a game most will have played before in one guise or another, and one that Nintendo always finds a way to freshen up. …
Mike Plant, 22 Nov 2011
Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

It might just be me, but as Ezio Auditore effortlessly scales yet another tower, it’s hard to shake the feeling we've been here before. I know it's the continuation of a story arc, and I know that the game's engine – as already rolled out in last year's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – is already adequate enough in its animation …
Mike Plant, 18 Nov 2011
Sony PS Vita handheld games console

Hands on with the Sony PlayStation Vita

It seems fair to state that for a while now Sony's PSP handheld games console has been experiencing something of long and undignified death. Even the Japanese technology giant itself saw fit to limit PSP software releases to largely redundant updates of its EyePet and Invizimals franchises – a move hardly likely to cause a …
Mike Plant, 11 Nov 2011
Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Look who’s back. Despite well-documented development team difficulties after the release of Modern Warfare 2, a feeling of increasing apathy for a franchise already over milked and fierce competition from EA in the shape of Battlefield 3, it seems you just can’t keep a good - and immensely profitable - series down. Modern …
Mike Plant, 08 Nov 2011
Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3

Even the staunchest opponent of all things games would have been hard pushed to avoid the determined advertising campaign waged on us by EA of late. TV spots, billboards, websites, magazines, sides of buses, newspapers, even logos on tanks in one recent London stunt, all liberally displaying brand Battlefield. To say the war …
Mike Plant, 01 Nov 2011
Uncharted 3

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Naughty Dog has created a monster; I remember when I first snapped up the original Uncharted, back when Sony was still looking for its first killer PS3 title. Resistance: Fall of Man had been mooted as such a title but ultimately disappointed, Motorstorm wowed us with its graphics but was limited by its genre, Heavenly Sword …
Mike Plant, 28 Oct 2011
Forza 4

Forza 4

Driving simulators - you either get them or you don't. For those of you who can't tell your carburettors from your crankshafts, there's perhaps little chance that anything written here will convince you to invest. Shame, because Forza 4 is perhaps the most accessible driving sim yet designed. It has the depth demanded by the …
Mike Plant, 14 Oct 2011
Rage

id Software's Rage

Is it an RPG? Is it a first-person shooter? This is a question which reverberates around my mind while I wander through Rage’s wastes. Why the confusion? Because id’s latest shooter hovers somewhere in the middle of these genres, a chimera with, oddly enough, lashings of Motorstorm-esque racing thrown in for good measure. Rage …
Mike Plant, 04 Oct 2011
Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Can games be ahead of their time? I’ve heard it said of musicians, film directors, even comedians but rarely attributed to any person, or any particular release, within the games industry. Perhaps it’s time we started? Take Ico, for example, originally released for PS2 in Europe in 2001 to critical praise but scant commercial …
Mike Plant, 30 Sep 2011
F1 2011

F1 2011

It’s a funny old sport, F1: an ever changing maelstrom of rule adjustments and technology upgrades, ensuring any given season is entirely disparate from the next. Imagine if FIFA suddenly deemed that football’s throw-ins were to become kick-ins, before adjusting the rule once more the next. That’s precisely the issue facing F1 …
Mike Plant, 23 Sep 2011
Ubisoft Driver San Francisco

Driver San Francisco

Defusing bombs, rounding up drug runners and saving damsels in distress, just a sample of the heroic acts possible while behind the wheel of a high performance vehicle – who knew? Driver San Francisco is a game that rather lacks any semblance of plausibility, yet holds such a penchant for the ridiculous that you'll be amused …
Mike Plant, 09 Sep 2011
Codemasters Bodycount

Bodycount

In the ever deepening reservoir that is the FPS genre, most games ultimately fall into one of two categories. There are those which encourage thought, exploration, tactical nous, micro-management of resources and, of course, a good shot. We’re talking the likes of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Half-Life 2, BioShock and even Modern …
Mike Plant, 06 Sep 2011
From Dust

From Dust

Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade has become something of an institution these last few years, ushering in the release of some of the best seen download-only games yet seen; the likes of Limbo, Braid, Shadow Complex and last week’s Bastion to name but a few. Up next is From Dust, a release with a pedigree all of its own in the gaming …
Mike Plant, 29 Jul 2011
Captain America: Super Soldier

Captain America: Super Soldier

Games based around movies have a reputation (most would say justly deserved) of seldom living up to their silver screen counterparts, while those timed to debut simultaneously with their movie counterparts have an even worse success to failure ratio. It might not come as a massive shock to anyone out there then, that Captain …
Mike Plant, 15 Jul 2011
Fear 3

FEAR 3

If you've not followed developments in the FEAR franchise of late then you might be left somewhat puzzled by FEAR 3's initial goings-on – the game plunging the player into a set-up which is never particularly embellished or explained. Waking in a prison, series protagonist 'Point Man' must not only put up with his rather mundane …
Mike Plant, 28 Jun 2011
Child of Eden

Child of Eden

"Save Eden. Save Lumi." The precluding order of an introduction which summarises Child of Eden’s essentially superfluous plot. I could tell you that the general gist is that we’re hundreds of years into the future, Lumi – the fist human born in space – is long dead, and the internet has evolved into something approaching The …
Mike Plant, 22 Jun 2011
Dirt 3

Dirt 3

The fact that rally is a niche market, even among petrolheads, perhaps goes someway to explaining why Codemaster’s Dirt franchise strives to rein in the time challenge aspects of the sport – instead favouring racing, albeit in a way which retains the drifting and suicidal cornering of the motorsport. Codemasters: good decision …
Mike Plant, 27 May 2011
Outland

Outland

A quick check of the map confirms the hero’s next objective – a mere two levels above him. What the map doesn’t reveal are the obstacles standing between him and that adventure-progressing goal. Outland How Inca-pacitiating Skilfully evading not one, but two spike traps with graceful fleetness of foot, the hero finds himself …
Mike Plant, 25 May 2011
Brink

Brink

“Save the Ark, or escape it?” The choice initially offered to players upon loading up Brink, Splash Damage’s latest first-person shooter. What’s the Ark you ask? A last bastion of humanity, following worldwide flooding caused by the rising of the oceans – darned global warming! Brink Hit and miss After a period of peace the …
Mike Plant, 17 May 2011
Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, Mortal Kombat has ever been the lumbering chimera, an amalgamation of individual parts thrown together, somehow brought to life much to the despondency of nature’s will. Mortal Kombat Two girls, one mug Take the series’ visuals, for example: ever shifting from one trend to another, as the …
Mike Plant, 29 Apr 2011
Dynasty Warriors 7

Dynasty Warriors 7

Parkouring across the backs of galloping horses; fighting while cascading down a majestic waterfall; evading a ball-and-chain attack before using the weapon’s momentum to swing to safety. What do these things have in common? Simply that they’re all shown in Dynasty Warrior 7’s rather epic FMV intro and they’re all acts you’ll …
Mike Plant, 20 Apr 2011
Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4 manages to pack so many disparate gaming elements into the one package that it’s hard to know where to start. Part soap opera, part noire, undoubtedly a kung-fu fighter, but with fleeting resource management and a reasonable-sized city to explore, this is the JRPG, at its most offbeat. Yakuza 4 Too cool for an umbrella …
Mike Plant, 25 Mar 2011
Homefront

Homefront

THQ has made it abundantly clear that it intends to step it up as a publisher, marquee titles – the likes of De Blob 2, Red Faction: Armageddon and indeed Homefront are all part of that plan – as the publishing house looks to take on Activision and EA, specialists in the art of the cross-platform blockbuster. Homefront Cop a …
Mike Plant, 18 Mar 2011
Dragon Age II

Dragon Age II

Dragon Age 2, sequel to 2009’s Dragon Age: Origins, plunges us once more into the realm of swords and sorcery – even adapting its history based on your Origins' saved game (if you have one). However, in terms of style and gameplay, there is perhaps more here that fans of Mass Effect will find familiar than series veterans. …
Mike Plant, 11 Mar 2011
Bulletstorm

Bulletstorm

To say that Bulletstorm draws parallels with Duke Nukem 3D is to put it mildly. There’s that same cocksure attitude, same over-the-top one liners, the same penchant for violence, even a similar range of physics-defying weaponry on offer. Bulletstorm No joke, splitting your insides In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that Duke …
Mike Plant, 23 Feb 2011
Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2

If you’re of a nervous, sensitive disposition I advise you to look away now. For, you see, Dead Space 2 – Visceral’s space-based survival horror – is instantly, and without question, one of gaming’s most gruesome penny dreadfuls to date; eclipsing even its predecessor in the nausea-inducing stakes. Bodies will be mutilated, …
Mike Plant, 28 Jan 2011
Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 for PS3

Saren, Reapers, Blue Suns, Geth. If these names mean nothing to you then consider yourself in the position of the majority of PS3 owners: that of never having experienced Mass Effect. That’s because Mass Effect, BioWare’s seminal action-RPG, never made its way onto Sony’s console, instead finding a home on only Xbox 360 and PC …
Mike Plant, 18 Jan 2011