Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (X360) Review

Action games nowadays have become so bland or basic that it is quite sickening. It is either shoot the baddies and save the hot chick, save the world and shoot the baddies or simply, shoot the baddies. Well I was hoping that would change with this game, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. The first CoR: Escape from Butcher Bay was a great achievement and was hailed as a great game which is intriguing considering it is a game based upon a movie character, which usually suck. Alas, we have here Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, the question is will be we yet another great game and addition to the Riddick series? Or a nasty flub that not even Ulaks can save. Continue on to find out…

May
06
2009
Read more

The Godfather II (X360) Review

A stunning disappointment…

I thought back to the original Godfather game and remembered the reason why I never became a ‘Don’. I grew tired of running around taking over a great number of businesses just to achieve that title. The same can be said for Godfather II (GFII). After an introductory level you are given advice on why it is important to take over as many rackets as you can. In GFII, when you or a competing family controls every business in a given racket, a reward is unlocked. Some of the rewards are bullet proof vests, decreased costs for guards, extra ammo and more. If a rival family is sporting the latest in bulletproof-wares, all you have to do is take out a single business in the racket that rewarded them; to do so you either have to take it over or bomb it and they lose those spiffy vests. Just remember that it works against you as well.

Apr
19
2009
Read more

Tokyo Beat Down (DS) Review

Ah how I love games that perform well and also shake my funny bone at the same time. A game that does itself justice as well as rags on itself among other things is one of those rare treats we all get once in awhile and today’s treat is called Tokyo Beat Down. Does the game really measure up with the DS’s capabilities or is it too slapstick for its own good? Read on to find out…

Apr
15
2009
Read more

Legends of Wrestlemania (X360) Review

With WWE’s Wrestlemania coming up here soon, I felt it would be a good idea to take a look at their new installment in the games area, WWE Legends of Wrestlemania. The game makes you an active participant in history’s best and most well known wrestling matches. From Andre vs. Hogan to The Rock vs. Stone Cold, it has a large array of matches. The real question is can it be better than SVR09? Legends of Wrestlemania allows you to connect your SVR09 roster to this game allowing you to use your characters from SVR09 in LoW. So let’s see if the game is going to hit its finisher and claim victory or if it is going to get con-chairto’d.

Apr
12
2009
Read more

Major League Baseball 2K9 (X360) Review

Sports games are a dime a dozen these days and mostly they don’t do anything special or unique to really impress us. We buy them cause we love the sport and want the newest rosters and the such, but with MLB 2K9 they brought a beautiful side of baseball back. MLB 2K9 when compared to PS3’s MLB: The Show has been seen in a less than stellar light. MLB 2K9 with this installation, has really shown what it can do and really taken their game to the next step. 2K9 has a lot to prove in their latest edition of the series and really need to hold up against the foe that MLB: The Show has truly become.

Mar
27
2009
Read more

Peggle (X360) Review

This is the new crack of video games. When you first start to play it your saying, "I'm just going to play for a few minutes." Then next thing you know your sitting there three hours later downing Mountain Dew and eating Oreo's or paint chips at that point you don't care which. Yes, it is that addictive. The game really has to true plot other than the somewhat story mode it has, but that is not what the game is for. It is for pure, addictive fun that the human brain cannot understand why it needs it. Again, it is video game crack.

 

The Characters:

Like I said, there is no Story, so in light of that I am going to go over the characters you can choose from and what their abilities are. In order to activate the abilities you must hit a green peg.

Bjorn the Unicorn- Yes, a Unicorn, man's favorite fake animal is the first creature you work with in the Peggle universe. Bjorn's ability is when you line up your shot, it shows you where the ball will bounce next so you can line up your shotto get the best bang for your shot. (Super Guide)

Jimmy Lightning the Beaver- Awkward name for a beaver, but hey who cares! With Jimmy you get a second peggle ball in play which allows you to hit more pegs and basically is a free ball. (Multiball)

Kat Tut the Cat- How original of a name eh? Anyway, Kat Tut activates an elongated ball bucket at the bottom of the screen in the shape of a pyramid. (Pyramid Power)

Splork the Alien- Has a damn good power, when you hit the green peg and activate it it lights up all near pegs essentially wiping out large areas of each map. (Space Blast)

Claude the Lobster- Claude gives you pin ballesque flippers with his lobster-like claws. Allows you to keep a game going longer. (Flippers)

Renfield the Pumpkin- After your ball falls out of the game it reappears at the top in ghost form for another go at it. (Spooky Ball)

Tula the Sunflower- Essentially enlarges all of the orange pegs by 20% to make them easier to hit. (Flower Power)

Warren the Rabbit- Gives you a lucky spin on his wheel of fortune like board. The wheel's choices are Magic Hot, Extra Ball, Zen Shot, and Triple Score. (Lucky Spin)

Lord Cinterbottom the Dragon- Turns the ball into a giant fireball that torches through all pegs. (Fireball)

Master Hu the Owl- an apparent wise owl who uses his power to guide your ball into the best situations possible. It can increase your shot my 500% effectiveness. (Zen Ball)

 

Gameplay:

The gameplay is simple yet complex. Yes it is shoot your peggle ball and hit the orange pegs to achieve maximum scores and to win. The green pegs activate your chosen characters special abilities and there are two green pegs per single player game. The purple colored pegs increase your scores with each peg. The blue pegs are just points and somewhat obstacles with trying to get the orange pegs.

The game like I said is simple, but it is one of the most addictive experiences you will ever have. With so many levels of sinple play and one of the most addictive multiplayers I have had the pleasure of playing, I can simply say, buy this thing now.

 

Graphics and Sound:

I grouped it due to how small both would be separately. The graphics are done in that cartoonish way that makes the game enjoyable and keeps your interest with a vast amount of pretty bright colors. The backgrounds are cool and have that Worms feeling to them.

The sound has a beat that goes with the game and the style equally. While the game doesn't rely pretty much at all on either of these things, they help keep the game going and keep it from being tasteless. In an overall sense, it is more of a back-up kind of thing more than anything else.

Final Analysis:

The game is highly addictive and the game is one you can play for eons. With a long single player campaign along with some great online play I can't get over how addictive and grand this game truly is. Peggle is an artwork for the XBLA and holds true to that of the addictive games like Bejeweled and the such. Peggle offers that crack filled love that we all crave once in awhile and gives us hours upon hours of great gameplay. From blue peg to orange peg to green and purple you will sit there and continue to play and play.

I rarely will openly say to buy a game now and to play it over and over, but here I am and I will say it, buy this game and play it...now. The game is awesome and is one of the best games on XBLA right now. If you don't get it you won't know the best craze around since Ball in a Cup.

Achievements:

Catch the Fever 5
Cure your need for fever with an Extreme Fever. (Except Duel)
Go ULTRA! 15
Clear all the pegs in a level. It's pretty extreme, but you look up to it. (Except Duel)
Be Cool 10
Hit the last orange then the last blue to rack up a Cool Clear. (Except Duel)
Free! Free! Free Ball! 15
Rack up the score or hit the bucket for 3 free balls in one shot.
Party Master 10
Winning a Peg Party is way better than playing with a ball of yarn!
Peggle Graduate 20
Complete Adventure Mode and earn your degree from the Peggle Institute.
Peggle Professor 25
Complete every level in Challenge Mode and even the Peggle Masters will be impressed.
Rock Lobster 15
Win a Xbox LIVE Duel like a crustacean born. 'Ave you tried ze flippers?
Doctor of the Peggle Arts 30
Clear all pegs and bricks in every level in Quick Play or Adventure mode and gain explodious fame!
Ace of Adventure 30
In a peg defying feat, score 20 million points in a single play-through of Adventure mode.
People's Ovation 10
Win a 4-player Peg Party by a whoppin' 100,000 points to acquire everlasting coolness.
Stylish Project 15
Bust out all your Skillz, Bounces, and Slides for 1 million style shot points!
Mar
25
2009

Resident Evil 5 (X360) Review

Ah, it is upon us in all its glory, Resident Evil 5 brings all us fanboys back to our knees with the re-introduction of Chris Redfield and the brand new introduction of Sheva Alomar. RE5 fallows after Leon Kennedy’s scrape with Las Plagas and Las Ganados and the new look at the new bio-weapon since the Raccoon City zombies. The RC zombies were slow, lumbering and dumb and possessed little threat alone, but a mild threat in numbers. In both RE4 and RE5 with Las Plagas, your advantages of organization, agility and strength are all but taken away. While as Leon you had no info on what was going on with the cult Los Illuminados and the use of Las Plagas, but in RE5 Leon’s success and information gained are truly indispensable information. Where RE4 was a pinnacle of horror genre gaming, can RE5 continue it and even add upon it in this installment of Resident Evil?

Story:

You are Chris Redfield (or Sheva if your playing online and P2) and you have been sent to the city of Kijuju on a BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) mission to investigate on a terrorist threat with Umbrella B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons). You meet up with your contact fellow BSAA agent Sheva Alomar who is native to the surrounding area and will serve as not only your guide, but your partner.

You are also accompanied by Alpha Team to work together to stop the illegal weapons deal that involves former Umbrella weaponry. You are looking for a man named Irving who is seemingly the beacon of this deal in Kijuju. Irving is a known terrorism weapons dealer and has been tracked to Kijuju, Africa. After you get your information and supplies from your local contact known simply as The Butcher you go on to witness two villagers force a small object into another villagers mouth which he swallows reluctantly and in mere seconds is turned into a Majini. If you played RE4 you remember that Ashley was infected with Las Plagas virus throughout the game, but you were able to cure her before it could overtake her mind and body. That was a long amount of hours from her contact with the parasite and still being able to kill it off. In RE5 it takes mere seconds for the parasite to overtake the human body. This creates a much harder challenge. They infected Majini also are stronger, faster and work with better organization than Las Ganados. To fill you into the lingo of the past two games, Las Ganados are basically first tier Plagas infected which takes from hours to days to force the host to succumb to it. The Majini however, are a second tier and are much stronger, faster and succumb in mere seconds after infection. They are also more violent and powerful and have varied mutations in their hosts. One variation bursts from the head of the infected and swings around trying to hit you (known as Cephalo), another bursts from the body completely and takes flight (known as Kipepeo), and the final blows the body up above the torso and attempts to eat your character (known as Duvalia). So needless to say, Las Plagas has evolved.

From here you must continue your mission to retrieve whatever Irving has and also to stop him from whatever he is doing. The parasite has been apparently synthesized and matured so that it is able to infect and overtake the host’s body almost immediately and now you’re facing a stronger enemy that wants nothing more than to cut you six ways to Sunday. Your only hope is that you and your partner are able to be strong enough to take down this new threat.

Gameplay:

RE5 delivers well, but not without its own falters. Let’s look at the good first, shall we? The game has a great upgrading system that allows you to make a pistol that can take down huge enemies with small amounts of fire. You can upgrade your critical hits chances; reload time, and even magazine size in the same style as RE4. Sheva’s AI is fantastic and by far one of the best AI components in gaming history. She does relatively nothing incorrectly, she watches your ass and most importantly she actually heals you! I know, an AI character that has some brains is rare, but Sheva is by far one of the best AI’s I have come across. She conserves her ammo, she watches you and makes sure that any enemies in your area are downed ASAP and most importantly she actually listens to your commands. Sheva knows when to back off and flee and will even dust your ass in the free for all get the hell outta here moments.

The weapons are variable and fire wonderfully. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but ammo conservation is seriously important in this game and head shots are a must. You’ll find your pistol and shotgun most accurate, but the machine guns are reserved for bosses or large groups of Majini that you’re forced to fight. Also having a side weapon (machete) helps fight singular Majini so you don’t have to waste precious ammo on them. It takes one or two headshots to take them down, compared to about four or five chest shots. When a Majini grabs you it sends you into a mini battle when you must shake the left stick back and forth to shove them off of you. When you hit a Majini down to the ground and they don’t die you can stomp on them to finish the job. If your partner is being restrained by a Majini, press B to knock off their attacker. With the basic Majini suppressed you really need to pay attention to the stronger majini (i.e. the Executioner, Big Man, Giant) who can take an over the top amount of damage.

The game advances wonderfully allowing you to back track a decent amount in case you missed anything. The aiming for your weapons is still very good and it's easy to get many head shots. Finding ammo and other items is pretty good and somewhat easy to find throughout the game. While the ammo and whatnot is easy to come around you use it quickly and you really must keep conservative with your rounds.

Now, onto the unfortunate bad, with today’s upgrades and abilities that gaming allows you would think they would let you do simple things, things like shoot and move at the same time. I know, it is so hard to do two motor functions at the same time, but I think in 2009 we can achieve that goal. On that note as well, attempting to take cover is pretty much useless. Nearly all of your enemies use CQC kind of weapons or their own fists and claws. You more need to rely on your speed and agility as well as your accuracy with your weapons. You’ve got to stay sharp with your weapons. The inability to use duel motor functions really keeps this game from total greatness just a little and the terrible cover system doesn’t help either.

The other big problem is a bulky inefficient items area for your characters. It is small and difficult to deal with during fights. You can use the four directional pad buttons (left, right, down, up) to switch items/weapons quickly, but it would have been better to utilize all eight directions for easier item use.

Other than those minor problems the gameplay is very solid. The weapons are easy to use and the game is quick paced allowing you a good eight to fifteen hours depending on your difficulty. The gameplay is awesome and very enjoyable and definitely up to date minus the few flaws. It is still Resident Evil and it is still amazing and delivers great gameplay.

Graphics:

The graphics are really great. Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar are well defined and have great characteristics. Chris has a 5 o’clock shadow that is well done and both Chris and Sheva have awesome muscle definition. The Majini are just as good looking and there are many different styled copies so that you don’t feel like your fighting the same three looking characters. All the boss and mini boss characters look bad ass to say the least, add that in with the beautiful graphics of the landscape and structures and this looks scary real.

The lighting effects are simply wonderful. The game itself is straight up a beauty in the graphics department. The definition of everything and lighting effects added in with the pure ecstasy of the Resident Evil environment and this adds up into a big graphical love.

Sound:

The sounds are utilized very well. The weapons have distinct sounds and the Majini are defined in their mob rambling. All the enemies have distinct sounds and the musical scores fit perfectly into each and every experience. The sounds and music fit each and every scene and leave you in the grip of the moment each time. You feel your muscles pulsate in each battle and the sound instills all kinds of fear into your system to the point that you feel exhausted, but you continue to go on.

The sound is simply one of the best and most attractive features of the game. The quality of the sound is astounding and one of the best I have had the chance to check out in a long time. With the game itself being very exceptional and the addition of this quality of sound creates for a fun and exciting game.

Replay:

With the online co-op play added in with the single player campaign and the upcoming match making multiplayer need I really say more? The game offers a lot of incentive to keep playing it and when its RE do you really need more than that? The game truly has expanded upon the Resident Evil series into a great online player and a multiplayer for RE and match making coming, how can you not be interested in playing it over and over?

Final Analysis:

The game is one of the best of the series. It expands upon the actual series of games (not RE: Outbreak series or RE: Umbrella Chronicles) and fallows our favorite characters in Chris Redfield and several others I won’t name as to spoil the game for you. With the addition of the new character Sheva Alomar, it expands our knowledge of the Resident Evil world. It explains the BSAA and gives a wonderful synopsis of how the T-Virus and such were in fact created and information about the RE series up to this game.

The graphics and sound effects are some of the most effective and best utilized among games today. The sheer magnitude of awesomeness is unparalleled to most games out today and it is what truly makes this Resident Evil game a Resident Evil game. The graphics are perfectly shaded and built in such a wonderful run down look that really makes the area realistic. The fictional city of Kijuju is set up wonderfully and landscaped to pretty much perfection. The sound effects are strewn and weaved into a wonderful web that created this great game.

Resident Evil 5 is a culmination of everything you love and know about the series and expands further into Las Plagas virus story and turns the page into the next chapter of the Resident Evil saga. This game is astounding and one of the best survival horror games ever made easily. You get a much wanted reunion with Chris Redfield and a fresh face to the epic in Sheva who also contributes very well to the game and to the series as a whole. This game is well worth any price and is a game that not only will get fans of the series, but will also get those not exposed to the series (if there are any) and give them that extra boost to try it out. The game is a must own and simply the best bang for the buck right now. It will go down as a great game and by God it is a damn good one.

Completed Chapter 1 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 1 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 1 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 1 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 2 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 2 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 2 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 2 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 2 - 3 15
Complete Chapter 2 - 3 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 3 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 3 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 3 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 3 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 3 - 3 15
Complete Chapter 3 - 3 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 4 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 4 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 4 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 4 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 5 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 5 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 5 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 5 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 5 - 3 15
Complete Chapter 5 - 3 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 6 - 1 15
Complete Chapter 6 - 1 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 6 - 2 15
Complete Chapter 6 - 2 on any difficulty setting.
Completed Chapter 6 - 3 15
Complete Chapter 6 - 3 on any difficulty setting.
Recruit 15
Complete all chapters on Amateur.
Soldier 15
Complete all chapters on Normal.
Veteran 30
Complete all chapters on Veteran.
War Hero 70
Complete all chapters on the most difficult setting.
Egg Hunt 15
Find all 4 types of eggs.
All Dressed Up 30
Purchase all available alternative costumes in Bonus Features.
Stockpile 30
Obtain all available weapons.
Take It to the Max 30
Completely upgrade all weapons.
They Belong in a Museum 30
Obtain all treasures in the game.
Badge of Honor 30
Find all the BSAA emblems.
They're ACTION Figures! 30
Collect all the figurines.
A Friend in Need 15
Save partner 10 times when HELP is displayed.
Lifeguard 15
Save partner 10 times when DYING is displayed.
Exploding Heads 15
Pull off 20 headshots.
A Cut Above 15
Defeat 5 enemies with the Knife.
Cattle Prod 15
Defeat 30 enemies with the Stun rod.
Crowd Control 15
Defeat 30 enemies with the Gatling gun.
Bull's-eye 15
Defeat 30 enemies with the Longbow.
Get Physical 15
Defeat 20 enemies with physical attacks.
The Works 15
Chain the maximum number of combos together in one go.
Lead Aspirin 30
Defeat a Majini with a headshot while it's jumping.
Fireworks 15
Shoot an enemy Molotov cocktail, dynamite stick, or hand grenade.
Be the Knife 60
Deflect a bow gun arrow with your knife.
Meat Shower 15
Defeat 3 Majini with one grenade or proximity bomb.
Go into the Light 15
Defeat 2 enemies with one flash grenade.
Ride the Lightning 15
Defeat a Majini using the electric current from a transformer.
Stop, Drop, & Roll 15
Defeat 3 Majini at once by setting oil canisters on fire.
Baptism by Fire 15
Defeat 3 Majini at once with a drum or gas tank explosion.
Masters of Removing 15
Work together to save someone special.
Bad Blood 15
Inflict a set amount of damage to your greatest enemy.
Drive By 30
Stop an armored truck by taking out the driver.
Egg on Your Face 15
Defeat a Majini with a rotten egg.
Heart Stopper 15
Defeat a certain enemy by stabbing it in the heart.
Who Do You Trust? 30
Build up a certain level of trust with your partner.
Mar
20
2009

Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ (DS) Review

The title says and shows it all here; zombies, guns, death, humor and giant watermelon sized breasts. The real question you are obviously asking is, "it looks funny and down right awesome, but can it in fact live up to the name and situation it gives?" To that I say first, yes and fallow it up with this game makes the DS an adult fun machine yet again.

Nintendo has been willing to step out of its Disney like room and take a few chances in the past several years and Zombie BBQ is one of those games that seems like Nintendo did it to blow some steam off and have one of helluva a time doing it. Nintendo takes chances on thrillers that for the most part, are big hits. From Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem to Resident Evil 4 Nintendo has taken big chances and made big hits. Let me tell you this, Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ is yet another one of Nintendo's triumphs out of nowhere.

Story

The story for the game is funny yet an interesting twist on the fantasy world it is presented in. After Little Red Riding Hood saved her grandmother from another wolf attack, she realized that the world of Storyland was being plagued by an upcoming zombie infection and decided to do the best thing and grab her favorite weapons and go out with her friend Momotaro to rid the world of the infection. The reason this basic story is awesome is due to the use of such well known characters like Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs as enemy zombies.

By taking such a basic story like a zombie attack and amping it up with fairytale characters and getting to blow them to hell and this is a great entertaining game to play, somewhat similar to American McGee's Alice in warped plot. By effectively taking such a well known genre to all, they have essentially taken stories and bent them into a sinister story filled with guns, death and getting to kill those damned Three Little Pigs finally! Oh the lovely horror that ensues with this games plot!

Gameplay

Since it is the DS the gameplay has to be easy to understand and fun altogether and LRRH stepped up to the plate and hit the home run. You can scroll from left to right to fire at enemies as well as evade them. There are crates with ammo for other weapons like the flamethrower, shotgun etc. etc. and there are also explosive crates to take out enemies from afar. At the start of the game you get the tutorial which really helps you learn the game quickly and all of the ins and outs it contains.

Now, the real meat and bones of the game is in the boss fights which are as awesome as they are funny. When you have to fight the likes of Santa Claus, Granny, Sleeping Beauty, Gretel, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs and yes, Zombzilla. Even the likes of Godzilla couldn't overcome this. The game gives you the ability to kill everything you have ever wanted in a fairytale book and do it in style.

Sound

As for the sounds it is solid. The weapons are groovy sounding and the cutscenes are enjoyable. The game uses its sound effects properly and doesn't do anything to try to overdo it or make it extravagant. The game does the quality of the sound well and does it without making it a rough kind of cut. While sound is one of the simpliest things to do, if done improperly it can be disasterous to anything really. LRRH does the sound without forcing it and gives you some decent music to listen to durig battle and during cutscenes. Really did a good job.

Visual

While the DS is lower ended in a graphical standpoint to some, LRRH does a wonderful job of taking what it is given and doing the best it can. In part thanks to the fairy tale setting it can get away with being cartoonish, but honestly it doesn't even need it. The game is a fun one to look at and even though it is more 2D it has 3D qualities to it that are undeniable. The graphics for the zombies are pretty nice with the evil cartoon look, but the bosses are done relatively well and look extremely fresh. Wouldn't you want to see zombie Sleeping Beauty? That's what I thought.

Replay

The game is pretty long (several hours of gameplay) for a non-RPG DS game. The replay for the game is pretty good as it is fresh and something that you can easily fall into. I found myself wanting to just check it out and see how it was and then I realizied it had been about 3 hours later. The game is one you can pop in and play on a decent basis and considering the game is under $20 new, it won't even cost you a Hamilton for this wonderful time waster. The game has a awkward yet strong premise and very enjoyable gameplay coupled into that. The game has some real value to it.

Final Analysis

The game has all the necessary qualities of a good game, strong story, strong gameplay and a high fun factor. Getting to kill your oldest nursery story characters with guns and flamethrowers is entirely to fun for anybody to even think of passing up. Like I said, the game is under $20 new and with today's economy I can't stress this games value. It brings out the inner kid in all of us...the inner psycho kid who has wanted to put a bullet in between that uppty Sleeping beauty's bitch ass eyes. That's right, I said it! Um...yeah oops, so like I said, the game brings out the barbaric murderer in all of us...because in the end, we all wanted to kill Pinocchio and his fake half wooden half real self. What I am saying basically is, this game is great and really fun. It is worth every penny and I recommend it.

Mar
15
2009

Halo Wars (X360) Review

Want to know what happens when Bungie isn’t involved in a Halo game? Well thankfully for us, the end result, Halo Wars turned out remarkably well. The studio behind the project, Ensemble Studios, is no more, but having done a stellar job with their real time strategy (RTS) franchise, Age of Empires, this expansion of the Halo franchise is a fitting swan song for the developer. Built from the ground up specifically for the Xbox 360 console, you could call Halo Wars a simplified RTS that focuses more on the action and less on the management. Call it your RTS "made easy" game.

PC Gamers Just Deal With It

Look, anybody who’s played a videogame on the computer of a friend whose primarily a PC gamer, knows that there is a nuance and skill relegated to PC gaming, especially with an RTS like Warcraft, or Command and Conquer. We all know this and so far there has yet to be a game developed for PC that was ported to the console that has captured the precision you get with a mouse and a keyboard. This is an irrefutable fact. So all those PC fanboys out there who are going to start saying that "Halo Wars doesn’t play like it does on PC, blah, blah, blah,” well just shut it. This was never intended to be one of those games at all and it was not designed to be a PC game. So if you come into this thinking that it “could be better on PC” well too bad. Just deal with it.And therein lies the beauty of what makes Halo Wars a truly entertaining RTS. The downside to this simplified game build is that you don’t have as much freedom and management that you do in a traditional RTS. Here’s the thing though, this is a Halo game. What’s the basic build of a Halo game? For 3 games and counting it has all been about the run and gun intensity, solid story and outstanding multiplayer. What Ensemble Studios was able to do successfully was to follow the Bungie playbook, throw in a little of bit of their own style and produce what you would expect for a Halo RTS -- lots of stuff blowing up and good fun.

Master Chief Who?

Just because he’s not in the game doesn’t mean there aren’t any Spartans. Heck there are even ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers).The story is basically one that has our brave USNC soldiers fighting the good fight against this menacing force called the Covenant many years before the first Halo game takes place. Your two main characters are the gruff and ready Sergeant Forge (a bowl and a half of macho) and Professor Ellen Anders (your basic movie/videogame hot chick with smarts). In addition you have the cut scene crew featuring Captain Cutter who helms the “Spirit of Fire” and an AI character named Serina who makes her future counterpart Cortana look like a dull day at the library. The campaigns unfold in a very linear path with a story that’s not set to win any awards for depth but it’s serviceable.

You do have a basic and advanced tutorial at your disposal but once you get the basic functions down, controlling and managing your troops will not be a challenge. When you dispense with the free-roaming RTS style of Warcraft for instance (chopping down trees, building huts) what you’re left with is building a base, amassing troops and then have hella-battles. Since the base locations are selected for you, the biggest concern is building troops and training them so you can take advantage of some more advanced weaponry and protection. The loot for all this comes in the forms of supplies which mined for you after you build your supply bases. Make more then you get more supplies which means you can build more stuff. It’s intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. Where the strategy does come in is figuring how to best your enemy whether it be with armored vehicles, aircrafts or infantry.Most times it will take a combination of troops to succeed.

 

But Does It Play Like Halo?

 

Ensemble did a fantastic job of using the iconic Halo staples to highlight in gorgeous detail both in the cut scenes and during actual gameplay. Just imagine looking down on a skirmish in Halo from above and it would look something like this. In the graphics department you have a stellar presentation that pays close attention to detail and design so for the Halo fans it lives up to what you would expect to say and for newcomers to the franchise this is a great way to jump in to this universe. Nice touches like Warthogs plowing down enemies or Spartans jacking Ghosts give it that Halo stamp that makes this franchise so great. You might even find yourself wanting to actually play the original game after a few campaigns of Halo Wars. It’s simply impressive to send off a massive squadron of tanks and troops to take out the enemy base and watch the battle unfold. Characters are programmed as such that they’ll fight when they encounter an enemy regardless of your direction and that’s a good thing.And with a good mix of strategy and action this game hits the mark on many levels of enjoyment (unless you’re one of those aforementioned PC freaks).

Hopping on to the multiplayer modes you can take on the role as the covenant or USNC (also in the skirmishes but not in the campaign mode) and basically do your best to blow the bejeezus our of your enemy. And yes, the Covenant does play differently right down to they way they upgrade. Suffice it to say you will have agreat a time battling your online foes. With seamless play and no lag in voice chat, you’ll have a great time waging war. One might complain that there’s a lack of enough “factions” to mess with but technically there shouldn’t be the flood according to this timeline, and what else would you have? Granted you are limited to two teams in a six player game but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

A Good First Venture for A Last Effort

For us gamers, we were lucky enough to reap the benefits of this game before Ensemble Studios ceased to be. Hitting the mark on graphics, soundtrack, visuals and gameplay you have an RTS that looks and feels like a Halo game. Certainly there are some flaws that can be pointed out in terms of troop management and the true flexibility of an RTS but there are few first time efforts that come out perfect. Halo fan or not you’ll enjoy playing Halo Wars and you can surely get a sufficient enough of play out of it

Mar
14
2009

Trials 2 Second Edition (PC) Review



Trials 2 Second Edition was made by RedLynx. It's an indie game, yet surprisingly it has superb voice acting (yes, that's voice acting), graphics and gameplay. Let's take a look.



GAMEPLAY

The gameplay in Trials 2 is focused solely on getting from point A to point B. Along the way, there are a few checkpoints. These are represented by flags on both sides of the track. Getting from point A to point B isn't easy, though--as we'll soon find out. The game is 2.5 dimensional--that is, it has 3D graphics, but it is played on a 2-dimensional plane. Basically, it is only possible to move left, right, up or down. That's very preferable--I'd hate to play in a fully 3D game. Another thing I feel that I should mention is that it's hard. Very, very hard. Players will die countless times--watching the hilarious ragdoll for a bit then continue to play. If not for the checkpoints, this game would be quite impossible. Countless times I've died right after or before reaching that lone checkpoint in a shout of triumph or utter despair. So while the game is fun, it's also difficult. It's like the developers were trying to make us die as much as possible.

AUDIO

Awesome music plays in the background in an attempt to get players into the "rider" feeling. There are only a few songs, but they don't seem to get repetitive. You will always enjoy the music, never tiring of it being played over and over...and over. The voice acting is incredible. When the rider falls off of his bike, he starts moaning in pain. Of course, his screams sound like they're being said from behind duct tape or a helmet. When the rider dies or gets knocked out, you can hear the "haaa" sound of his last breath escaping from his lungs. Truly incredible. Plus, the motorcycle sounds very realistic. It spins and whirrs obviously, but there are a lot of different sound effects that are cleverly matched together randomly to make it different each time. Plus, if the tires skid on the ground, then the tires sound like they're skidding on the ground. There isn't much more to say. There are a handful of other sound effects, like the flags popping open to reveal fire and whatnot. So to sum it up, the audio is superb. I'd love it if every other game sounded like this.

VISUAL

There are three different qualities to be had: Normal (for high-end computers), Low and Very low. I’ll be telling y'all about all of 'em. Normal: On Normal quality, it's beautiful. There are dynamic shadows that are shown with every light in the game. Shaders make the lighting look stupendous--the rider can be sleek and shiny. It's especially amazing to go up extremely high and have your shadow be portrayed on the wall, big and foreboding. In addition, there are flashlights on the bike. Low: On Low quality, it's not as stunning. Textures are low-resolution and ugly. There are very little lighting effects, and the effects that are there just don't stand out. Plus, there are no shadows--none at all. It really ruins the effect. Since there's no lighting, everything seems to be at the same or close to the same lighting. There aren't any flashlights on the bike, either. Also, there are little to no particle effects. Very Low: On Very Low quality, the game is just ugly! The models all have very little polygons, while there are absolutely no lighting effects at all. Almost every effect that could get acclaim is gone. Nothing looks right. Of course, this is all in order to make the game run on even the worst computers.

In every quality there are fires. These fires bend and sway when the rider moves past them, to indicate wind. It looks incredibly cool to rush by a fire and see it bend in the direction you're heading. In every quality there is also a ragdoll effect. A ragdoll is basically when there are no animations at all--everything is governed by an in-game physics engine. So the rider flies and bends and whatnot in a different way every time. Bones can even be broken whilst in ragdoll mode. Plus, there's an achievement for breaking every bone.

STORY

There is no story. Why is there no story? Why, that's an excellent question, little Jimmy! The answer is clear and concise: because it doesn't need one.

REPLAY

Players will continue to come back to Trials 2 over and over again. They will never grow tired of purposefully bashing the rider's head into a wall and watch him struggle on the ground, fall into a pit and die. There are tons of levels, branching into many categories, including dynamic, flip and the difficulty levels. More levels are added over time as well.

OVERALL

Overall, Trials 2 is a very fun indie game. It's available on Steam for a lowly $10. Support the indie scene and buy it today.

Mar
09
2009


Popular

New Reviews