The first one was good, the second was better, the third was terrible and there never should have been a fourth. Yes, you heard me right...there never should have been a Street Fighter 4.
I'm looking at scores for this game on other review sites and can't believe how much kool-aid they must have been drinking to give this game a 9; nevermind a 9 point anything. I simply don't care how many unlockables there are or how cool one of the mundane soundtracks is. The core of the game is highly flawed.
Let's begin the bashing shall we? One of the new features of SF:4 is supposedly the 3D backgrounds you fight in. To its credit, they do appear to have more depth to them giving you a bit of that 3D feel. What hasn't changed in the backgrounds, despite the work that must have gone towards creating such lavish 3D effects, is the people in them. It seems they were simply plucked out of Street Fighter II, given some new clothes, brought their friends and plugged right in. It never ceases to amaze me how two steroid induced monsters (we'll get into that later) fight in broad daylight, all the while a girl is jumping rope and never turns around to see what the chaos is all about. That is, until the fight is over and there is a victor. Couldn't they have come up with something more creative than anime rejects as background people fodder?
There must have been something entirely wrong with the way the Street Fighter characters looked proportional in previous games. You know, Ken and Ryu's physique looked mostly normal. Along with Guile, Bison, hell...even green-freak Blanka. They all must have followed in the footsteps of Barry Bonds or Sylvester Stallone to the nth power. Every single character has a ridiculous muscle bound look to them. Each one of them including, the once attractive Chun-Li, now looks like they're stuck in Incredible Hulk mode, minus the green - except for Blanka, poor guy.
The overgrowth of muscles must have had an effect on how limber the characters are. Let me focus on Chun-Li for a second. Chun-Li was one of my favorite people to play with in the earlier versions of Street Figther, especially SF:2. She was able to jump off walls, tip toe on your head, and do her spinning star kick damned near from one end of the screen to the next. Yes, she was an agile little minx. With her new found bulkiness she's seemed to have lost a good portion of that ability. Her spinning star kick lasts perhaps ten to fifteen feet before she's out of breath and once again upright.
What has changed for the better is the balance of damage done while fighting. Remember Sagat's good ‘ol "Tiger!" uppercut which would take damn-near a quarter of your energy when you happened to catch one of them in the jaw? Not anymore! Even in Zangief style: pick you up, slap you on your head, spin around thirty times and eventually use the top of your head like a jackhammer - the damage taken off is comparable to that of a heavy punch/kick. Hey, they got something right in this version!
Let's move on to the AI now. I played this on medium and I had to double check the difficulty to make sure it wasn't on super, uber, ultra easy. The volume of beatings I dished out was insane. I'm not an expert Street Fighter player...any longer, but it felt like I was playing in training mode and occasionally I would be attacked for good measure. Here is a prime example of how silly it was at one point. Picture it...a wonderful 3D background with anime rejects and two steroid junkie fighters getting ready to tear each other's head and limbs off. I'm Blanka and you can put whoever you choose to as my opponent. A jump, a kick, a throw. A few punches, a couple of special attacks and then I try something.
"I wonder how Blanka's electricity will work in SF:4?"
My curiosity didn't last long. I button mashed my punch buttons until I had no feeling left in my finger tips. As the blood stopped flowing, I kept my eye on the screen to see if my efforts would be worthwhile. Sure enough they were. My opponent did all of two things.
1) Walk up to me and pause for a second, almost like he realized it was a BAD idea to walk in to someone who has electricity surging out of their body...and then walk in to me.
2) To jump off the wall...hold your breath....yes, on top of me, electrocuting himself.
This went on and on and on. If I had one of those old Max controllers from the original NES days, I could have beaten this with no hands.
At least until I reached Seth. The round began and I was amazed at the speed he could get that first hit off. Back and forth we went, chopping down each other's energy bars. He'd win one round and I'd win one. You could almost taste the tension in the air on the final round. The round begins and in what seemed like mere seconds....it was over. He beat me like a red headed step child - which is truly fine with me. I'd rather have an opponent that is more competitive and makes me earn my wins than a drone I can simply practice my moves on.
A few more things that I found highly, highly annoying. Before and after each fight your character will say something. His or her mouth will be moving and words will be coming out. Only one minor problem: the mouth movement doesn't remotely match what is being said. It reminded me of the days of Voltron, Thundercats and especially Robotech. I'm sure the anime fan boys were in seventh heaven. Anyone else like me who prefers to have mouths match - even somewhat - with what they're saying, will be disappointed.
As if that wasn't bad enough you have text boxes appear at the end of a fight with a saying by the character. All I can say is....ESL. English was NOT the primary language of whoever wrote these sayings. While I was playing with my brother last night, one of the boxes appeared and had the word subjugate in it. Now I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but subjugate? I had to go and Google the definition to see what on Earth they were talking about.
There aren't enough unlockables, online play or anything for that matter to get me to say that Street Fighter 4 is anything anyone with prior Street Fighter experience will enjoy. Awful looking characters, annoying soundtracks, poorly done language translation and crappy AI. But hey, things could be worse! You could be playing 50 Cent's latest pile of garbage!
EA is back to suck on the shriveled, dry and dusty Lord of The Rings teat and they’re dragging Pandemics name through the mud to do so. This current attempt to get some money out of this haggard cash cow is Lord Of The Rings: Conquest.
Story: LOTR: Conquest is pretty much a cliff notes version of the acclaimed Peter Jackson movies; in fact it’s so short that it might actually make Randall Graves from Clerks 2 happy. This is because it totally avoids the possible sexual tension between Sam and Frodo and it also nixes that epic walking that he liked to complain about. Pretty much before and after every stage you get a narration by Hugo Weaving (whom is probably happily running to the bank to cash the check EA gave him) and with these you are given scenes from the movies. Pretty much if you’ve never seen a Lord Of The Rings movie you are going to be completely lost and not know the meaning behind any of the battles that you are fighting in. After you deal with that Conquest takes you to an alternate universe of sorts and depicts what it would be like of if the bad guys got hold of the ring. Outside of Hugo Weaving there are no other voice actors from the actual movies. Everyone else is voiced by people from anime’s and other games. I have nothing against the likes of Yuri Lowenthal, Crispin Freeman, Kirk Thornton, Paul Mercier and Kim Mai Guest, but it’s really just not the same. Rating: 4.0
EA has managed to keep the quality control with their LOTR games to a good standard, but Conquest is such a misstep. It can’t even create a better or more cinematic experience than the two movie tie in games that came out last generation. Conquest for the most part revolves around capturing command points on the map. These allow you to respawn at certain points in the map when you die, these also allow you to switch your class during combat. You have four different options and they are Scout, Archer, Mage and Warrior. Pretty much you’ll spend most of you time either in Mage or Warrior, but this also depends on what the situation calls for. What sets each class apart is that the classes have certain special abilities. Take for example the Archer has special arrows like poison, fire or the ability to shoot more than one. The Scout can turn invisible and has a sneaking attack, Mages can heal and cast magic and the Warriors are just good for close in encounters.
After you complete certain objectives you get to play as the heroes from the movies. These pretty much just behave liked supped up versions of the preset classes. And if you die as one there’s no going back to one until the game lets you. Also there are certain times when Conquest will allow you to actually mount and Ent (or play as an Ent) and let you lay waste to the battlefield as one.
This would be nice if it wasn’t for the fact that the battle system you use to kill Orcs and Urak-Hai is clunky. You have a light, medium and heavy attack button and to access combos you have to use these. The animations are stiff and you can’t even interrupt a move to block or dodge. Once you’re in a combo you pretty much have to commit to it and it’s really just irritating. If you do decide to dodge it comes out slow and might just put you into the blade of your enemy. Sometimes the battles get chaotic and you want to block to…I don’t know, keep yourself alive, but it never comes up. After about two stages I completely gave up on the idea of blocking and dodging and just opted to button mash and go Conan on everything. Also before I forget to mention this, but if you do start blocking the enemy will just use their defense breaker on you and knock you on your ass. After that they will hit you until you either get back up or die.
While on the topics of death, it will come cheaply and often. There was one…actually a couple of instances where my character fell off a ledge while running and/or attacking. I also kept getting knocked down by enemies that did nothing but block as you try to attack them. After they knocked me down they just proceeded to wail on me (probably wanted me to squeal like a pig). There’s also the nuisance of cave trolls, which love to throw warriors off the level (happened about six times in three minutes once). Also there are the bosses which eat up a lot of damage (why is Wormtongue kicking my ass!), and depending on which stage you’re in, you might wind up falling off the level while fighting someone (sometimes while in mid-swing). Also there was one time when a sky dragon picked me up on my last life and killed me. It felt really random and just made me turn the game off.
I know you can’t just simply keep rehashing the same game formula, but if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. An updated hi-def version of LOTR: The Two Towers and Return of the King from the previous generation would’ve been far more fun than this. Rating: 5.0 Graphics:
Lord Of The Rings: Conquest is not going to raise the bar for graphics. It most likely won’t even allow you to give it a second glance. All it really does is run smoothly while a whole bunch of boring looking creatures run amok onscreen. The character models for your generic looking soldiers aren’t too bad, with the most detail going to your hero characters and the villains hero characters (most notably the Balrog and Sauron). The random enemies just look like undetailed brown blobs. Pretty much the presentation makes you wish that more time was spent with this. Pandemic is a pretty good studio and EA has a load of cash, which I guess was sunk into new IP’s (and Hugo Weaving’s paycheck) and this project was left to be funded by money they found in the couch cushions. Rating: 6.0
The only thing that saves this game is Howard Shore’s LOTR score. Shore’s opening score is still capable of sending a chill up a person’s spine and is still epic and iconic. The same can’t be said for everything else. I already made mention of the voice casting; battles still sound pretty lively, but there’s nothing that hooks you. You’ll hear people scream in battle, but nothing really sounds as dynamic as something like Heavenly Sword for example. Rating: 6.0 Replay:
The campaign is the same atrocious scenario after the next and the online is pretty much the same thing minus bots. For anybody that’s up for it you have Conquest, which places four flags on the map and each team's point value increases as they gain flags. The other modes are Team Deathmatch and Capture The One Ring (Capture the Flag). Given the fact that it’s based on the campaign engine you’re still stuck with the same slow battle system. Rating: 5.0
What I should just dub Lord Of The Rings: Bore/Snore Fest is something that could’ve been fun, but wasn’t. The battles do a good job of conveying the epic scope of the battles, but ultimately it’s just not fun. The combat is mechanical and isn’t as fun as the games that came out for the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. Hell, if you have the money to blow just buy those. I bet if you chucked this game into Mt. Doom Gollum would not jump in after it. Rating: 5.5
In the day and age of the gridiron that we know as football there has been one game that has dominated the gaming community in the terms of sports and that is the Madden series brought by EA Sports. Well, a few years back they started doing a game called NFL Head Coach which got some good looks, but ultimately was seen as Madden without the football. With interest in the NFL at an all time high, the interest in NFL Head Coach has grown a little. Can EA deliver yet another sports game to continue its seemingly unstoppable monopoly of the sports world? Or will this be something that falls into oblivion as a waste of time and money? Let’s see…
You are the head coach of an NFL franchise [you can be a real head coach or create your own] and you job is to take the franchise to the top of the peak. While taking over the duties of coaching in the games and calling the plays, you must also sign free agents, scout prospects, teach your players the playbook, create new plays, and complete certain goals that your fans, GM, media, players and staff all want you to do. The story is surprising good and has a large amount of things to do. Through the story your approval rating will sway back and forth according to what you do or don’t do. As the head coach you are forced to make some decisions that you may not what to and this will effect your approval as well as your roster and staff.
Surprisingly this game has an interesting take on the NFL in light of the Madden game franchise. While in Madden you act like a GM, signing, trading, cutting and such, it is all very different in NFL Head Coach. For one, your approval in Head Coach determines your standing with your current team. I chose the Arizona Cardinals for my first time and went 11-5, won my division, made the playoffs, went to the conference championship and lost with an ending approval of 89. The next year I went 9-7 and still made the playoffs, but lost in the wild card round and got fired with an approval rating of 70. It is very difficult and much more strategic than Madden will ever be. While Madden is based solely on your abilities in the game, NFL Head Coach makes you play with strategy. The story is fun and creates some real suspense in the NFL.
The gameplay is really interesting. When on the field and coaching you can make all the play selections and you have to be wise with your selections. If your team hasn’t learned the play they are more likely to screw it up, but at the same time running the same play over and over, makes the defense get used to it and therefore more likely to jump the play. You can get playmakers, when doing your gameplan and use them in game, such as making your O-line strong, hitting their RB harder and trying to force fumbles, getting a stronger rush on the QB, or tightening your DBs coverage.
While the on field gameplay is solid, the front office stuff is just as enjoyable. You have to choose what to train or who to train, scout college talent, re-tool your depth chart, sign free agents if needed, and train your coaches. The staff progress ability is a great asset and allows you to train yourself and your other coaches the way you want them to coach. You can also train your GM and add things like learning everything about small, mid-major and major schools to learn about all their talent. The game forces you to make decisions on the fly as well as coach your team. You have to complete goals or you will get fired. The lower your approval rating the less leeway you have with your team.
NFL Head Coach 09 isn’t without its major problems though. Running the ball is extremely hard even against terrible defenses. I was the KC Chiefs and in my third year as Head Coach I had a well established front line with an overall average of 87 and had Darren McFadden an overall 91 at this point. Against the Raiders who still had no one worth a damn on their D front line I could only amass 78 yards on 23 carries with one TD. I had over 400 yards in the air though and thus my point is that the running game in 09 is still a rough one. Beyond that the game is still solid and the create a play is one of the best things.
The create a play has been expanded and allows you to REALLY create plays. Yes, you can make the Wildcat formation or the much loved option play as well as bring in a college coach and even add the heavily used spread offense [or hire Mike Martz]. You can do any kind of motion as well as blocks and the what not. You can sub in your QB for someone else in order to perform said Wildcat formation as well. This is great and an upgrade from games past.
The game itself, is really much harder than you would expect. With all the decisions you have to make you can’t just simulate all the way to the playoffs and be fine. You also have to be wise with your draft picks especially with your first and second rounders and look for gems in rounds 3-7. This game also continues EA’s use of a different name for New Englands HC Belichick by naming him Hal Ophamer. It’s pretty funny actually.
Graphically speaking NFL HC is pretty good. All the head coaches look pretty similar to their real counterparts, you can even see the despair in former Lions HC Rod Marinelli. The only real gripe I have with the graphics and the game itself, is that you cannot create your own HC look. It has been something EA has been seemingly reluctant to use. It seems, “Ask not what AE can do for you, but what you can do for EA.” To which we all open our wallets and buy a game with a heavily overrated player on it [Michael Vick, Vince Young, Brett Favre] and continue to eat it up. All we ask for is a little customization!!! You let us move our franchise to another city if we oh so desire it, but as far as customizing our face that is a no no!
Anyway, back to the graphics, the in game is just as tight as Madden is and includes all the angled shots for your pleasure. Graphics are not what the game goes on and they are easy to see that. While the graphics are Madden acceptable they are still decent at best. Graphics in the game are a thing that is secondary to the game itself and are nothing more than that. Don’t make graphics the reason behind playing most sports games especially ones that focus on the front office and dealing aspects of the game.
The sound is pretty cool in NFL HC 08 and it really gives that coliseum feeling with the epic musical soundtrack along with nail biting moments in game. [I won via a 56 yard field goal with 2 seconds left thanks to Neil Rackers] The game really keeps you on your fingertips with everything a real coach has to go through. Making critical draft picks, extensive trades, as well as gameday starting positions and which play to run. You may think it would be really easy, but it really isn’t.
Hearing your OC and DC get pissed when a play goes awry is kind of funny along with your emotions you can do. The sound is really a great setting for the game itself and keeps the ‘grid iron’ feeling in the football game. I must commend EA for making a better game here especially sound wise.
Let’s just say I have several different saved franchises and just bought the game the other day. I find myself enjoying it more and more after each play and the decisions you have to make are just something fun as well. Playing against friends as well as online is additional fun when you include the franchise mode that is the mainstay of the game. If you dominated Madden see if you can do the same with NFL Head Coach 09 and see how good you really are. NFL HC makes you give up the ability to lob the ball to T.O. or Fitzgerald and forces you to choose plays that are strategically made. If you have a heavy blitz coming and your QB doesn’t recognize it there isn’t anything you can do, but watch him get beat harder than Ashlee Simpson’s career.
The game is solid and well done. If you’re a strategy buff [Civilization series, Age of Empires series] and a lover of sports then this game is a good mesh for you. It combines the ware and tear of the NFL with the sweat and grime of the front offices that keep them running. You take the reigns of the franchise and attempt to drive it home to port in hopes of not only a Superbowl, but also of keeping your job. With the ability to lose it by simply releasing or trading someone that your owner deems necessary even if they aren’t [Seriously, how useful is Tony Gonzalez to the Chiefs? I got a first and second round pick out of him.] seemingly necessary to your teams development. With all your decisions being a make or break at times it really adds the heavy load of stress to the mix and with gametime decisions as well as in game decisions that can make or break your career, this game really tests you in the world of EA Sports.
If you think, “Hey I have Madden and I don’t want to play a game where I don’t get to actually play the game and only coach it” you are severely wrong. This game is very enjoyable and I was just as skeptical as you should be. If you’re gonna play a game like this you have to be skeptical and I must admit that it delivers and delivers well. With a game that is tense and enjoyable this is one of those games that is just too damn fun to put down. All I can say is simply that this game packs a punch that is rare to find in many sports games…replay ability.
Complete a head to head match on Xbox LIVE
Drawing Some Plays in the Dirt
Create at least 10 custom plays
Find 90+ Potential Training Camp Invite
Get your approval level with the media to 80, after one season
Get your approval level with the fans to 80, after one season
Get your approval level with your owner to 80, after one season
Man of the People
Get your approval level with your team's players to 80, after one season
One Big Happy Family
Get your approval level with your coaching staff to 80
Xs and Os Guy
Create at least 25 custom plays
Accomplish all of your Season Goals
I'm The Decider
Get 100 percent correct defining moments during a game day
Best of all Time
Go undefeated during a season
We Like You
Get an overall Approval Rating of 85, after one season
Win your first Super Bowl ring
We Love You
Get an overall Approval Rating of 90, after one season
One for the Mantle
Win the Coach of the Year award, after one season
Welcome to the Club
Win 100 games with a created coach
Win back to back Super Bowls with one team
We Idolize You
Get an overall Approval Rating of 95, after one season
Win the Super Bowl 3 times with the same team
Nerves of Steel
Successful Defining Moments 20+
A Cut Above
Get the highest overall approval Rating in the league, after one season
It takes a lot of balls to do something different within the first person genre. A lot of times a game won’t sell if the guns aren’t big enough or if the main character isn’t masculine enough. So what happens if the crux of the gameplay is avoiding shootouts and your character is a woman? You get a game like Mirror’s Edge with its quickly learned and nicely paced Parkour free-running platforming mechanic. And when you couple this with the attractive and athletic Faith you get a rather interesting, but somewhat shallow game.
As Faith a runner, who must escape her domed society because she’s about to turn 21 and that’s the age when you get killed…wait, wait a minute that was Logan’s Run. That told a much better story than what you’re presented with in Mirror’s Edge. Yes Faith is still called a runner, but in her society the flow of information is highly controlled and that’s pretty much what she transports. Eventually her sister, who just happens to be a cop, gets framed for some murder and it’s your job to find out why it happened and clear her name. On top of this you have to find out the intentions of some secret plan called Project Icarus. The story is told using an animation style that reminds me (and pretty much every other critic) of the Esurance commercials. It takes some of the seriousness out of the story and they’re directed and voiced in a banal and mundane fashion. Engaging characters would’ve been nice as well. While Faith is pretty good as a strong female, but she’s nowhere near as multifaceted, interesting, or portrayed with enough flair and refinement as Nariko from Heavenly Sword. And if EA wants her to be the next video game heroine then for Mirror’s Edge 2 they’re going to have to actually hire a talented writer because this story isn’t cutting it.
A lot of the side characters are irritating and some of them just demean Faith by referring to her as “Faithy” and by the fifth time you hear it you just want to throw that character out of the window. There’s no real sense of tension and it just gives you a reason to hop across the rooftops of sky-scrappers. Rating: 5.0
This is the real meat and draw for Mirror’s Edge and luckily it was pulled off well enough to warrant suffering through the story. For the most part you travel from point A to point B, but the way you do it is both invigorating, but at the same time infuriating. For starters platforming in most first person shooters can be a drag and is painful. This is because jumping is a pain in the ass and your character is about as nimble as a one legged goat with leprosy.
Faith is an entirely different beast. She can run across walls, run up walls, run with blinding speed and a whole bunch of other things. Run fast enough and you will start to see her arms pump, make a leap of faith (pun intended) and see her legs kick as she tries to force that last life saving inch. Pretty much the best way to describe it would be to point you towards the opening on foot chase scene in Casino Royale. The scene took place in a construction site and the way that obstacles were leaped off of and made short work of by famed free runner Sebastian Foucan were a sight to behold. There was something almost inhuman about it. For a brief moment I contemplated recreating it, but the thought of me winding up as a blood splatter at the bottom on the sidewalk made me think other wise. That’s where Mirror’s Edge comes in. It’s all about the beauty and the seamless transition of hopping off of walls and leaping off of them to catch a ladder or pole and swinging off of it. It’s all about that perfect jump from a towering skyscraper on to a rooftop below.
Only problem is that what you’re doing is kind of illegal so you have the fuzz on your ass. This fuzz goes be the name of The Blue. Unlike in Blue Gender these Blue don’t have angry vagina faces, but they do have guns. And have a mad hair up their ass about chasing people with messenger bags. They take this so seriously that they won’t hesitate to call in a helicopter gunship to mow you down. It kind of makes you wonder exactly what they would do if a real crime takes place. For starters the environment is so clean (even the sewer level) that the punishment for littering is probably something Draconian like death or the removal of your hands and/or feet, but enough of that tangent. Since Faith doesn’t have any actual weapons it’s best to just avoid confrontation, but if you do want to mix it up you can disarm the cops. Before you just run in and try to take a gun from someone you have to learn when to do it. You can do it with the triangle button, but you need to push it when their weapon is red. To aid you with this you can slow down time using the square button but eventually you get really good with not relying on it. Some of them are really nice looking but the style of the disarmament depends on the type of weapon that the cop is carrying. While on the topic of disarming. During the load screens you’re treated to footage of Faith disarming soldiers and I must say that a lot of the time it’s cooler than what you get to do. After you disarm him you get to keep the weapon and it’s up to you if you want to kill with it. There is trophy/achievement if you beat the game without using a gun to kill the enemy, which adds an extra layer of challenge to Mirror’s Edge, by the way if you’re not going for that then by all means go Rambo.
There actually is a good balance between combat and platforming with the only real problem being how unintuitive some of the levels are. There were a couple of spots where I had to hop on YouTube just to figure out a couple of scenarios. There is a hint button that kind of points you in the right direction, but there are times where it’s vague and of little use. Once you combine that with the continuous police presence you’ll quickly find yourself at the restart screen often. You have to learn how to find your bearings when you find yourself in an entirely new environment. And in order to do this you have to find your way around the environment in the quickest manner. Granted it’s really fun when you string together jumps, slides and wall runs together, but in order for this to happen you pretty much have to memorize the course, which pretty much just translates to simple trial and error and then the inevitable death.
The gameplay in Mirror’s Edge does take a little bit of a nosedive towards the end, because they up the guard count and it gets to the point where these guards shoot at you as if they have Solid Snakes “infinite ammo” bandanna. Another thing that is short of a doubled edged sword is how precise you have to be to make some of the jumps. Granted it’s immersive and adds a lot impact to every jump you make, but it makes it really frustrating. A lot of times you’ll have to make a jump from one building to another while being pursued and shot at and if you time the jump wrong or you’re off by an inch or two, you wind up falling to your death.
While Mirror’s Edge does a rather good job at being different, it fails to be a game worthy of praise. Mirror’s Edge is quite an interesting package, but it can’t be embraced by the masses. It requires patience to reap the benefits and if you’ve seen footage or played the demo you’ve probably already made your decision about it. Personally I do hope Mirror’s Edge can get a sequel and they can do more to spice up the gameplay, because innovation deserves to flourish. Pretty much if a first person parkour game piques your interest then give Mirror’s Edge a look. If you’re one that needs a game that cascades testosterone then stay away. Rating: 7.5
Graphics: Mirror’s Edge is a little bit of a mixed bag. The scenery and sense of scale can be breathtaking. A lot of environments seem to have color themes either being blue, green, lime green, etc. Climbable objects turn red when you get close to them and this adds to the color palette creating something unique. Once you get beyond that the textures are horrible and the shadows are blocky. It wouldn’t be a problem, but given what the game is you’re always up close to a pipe or wall and the textures for them are blurry at times. To further add to this there is a lot of screen tearing. The character models actually aren’t too bad, but you don’t see many actual people minus the guards, which wear nothing but black. Another thing that’s irritating is that you really don’t see you’re actual character model. You know what she looks like because she’s on the box and commercials, but you only really see her once (not counting the animated cutscenes). One hope for the possible sequel would be in engine cutscenes. One real saving grace is that the frame rate doesn’t drop constantly. Rating: 7.5
The audio experience in Mirror’s Edge was actually done right…minus the lack of music. The sense of ambiance is stunning. While standing on building you will hear cars driving buy and car horns echoing and makes the environment seem alive yet barren. While running you’ll hear the wind rush past your ears and the same happens when you fall. It’s quite chilling when you hear the wind get louder until you inevitably hit pavement. Death actually sounds pretty realistic too as you hear a rather meaty thud. When you run on certain kinds of floors you’ll hear your shoes squeak. The opening theme to Mirror’s Edge is rather chilling yet serene. The only thing that I can’t commend is the voice work. While not bad it does get irritating and it’s rather scary when Faith is the best-voiced character. With that being said she comes off as wooden and everyone else comes off as an irritating character trying to sound cool. Rating: 8.5
While there isn’t any multiplayer you’re offered something equally as challenging. Mainly these are time trials, which require nothing but trial and error and multiple play throughs to learn where you’re supposed to go. Pretty much it’s one part entertaining and two parts masochistic, so doing this depends on how much you enjoy the game. Each time trial level has it’s own leaderboard so if you want bragging rights over your friends or want to climb to the top of the leaderboard then this is a good way to do it. But other than that you’re not really in direct competition with anybody. The only other way to get more mileage out of Mirror’s Edge is to up the difficulty. Rating: 7.0
While not setting the world on fire with its innovative take on the first person and platforming genres. It still manages to be an entertaining game. Once you manage to string a series of complicated maneuvers and almost never stop until you get to your objective, you start to realize what DICE was thinking when they made Mirror’s Edge. Then once you get stuck for a couple of minutes or get gunned down Robocop style you start to wonder what DICE was thinking when they made Mirror’s Edge. While this might be this year’s Assassin’s Creed, I can at least say that I like it more than Assassin’s Creed, because unlike that game Mirror’s Edge didn’t make me take a three hour nap after playing it. Rating: 7.5
As a new student driver I’ve been doing my best to take it safe on the road, but every now and then an urge of vehicular destruction surfaces. I know listening to it means instant death or at the very least paralysis (I happen to like feeling my legs) so it’s always good to find a place to release it. One such place is Burnout: Paradise, but another good suggestion is Motorstorm 2: Pacific Rift.
The original Motorstorm made it’s debut in E3 2005, which is the one I think every one calls the “Ridge Racerrrr!!!!” conference as a CG trailer. It had a lot to live up to and did fall short of expectations, but I like to think of it as a work in progress. Here to correct the mistakes of the original and give the public a chance to race on something outside of a desert is Motorstorm 2: Pacific Rift.
The Motorstorm franchise made itself standout by being about more than one particular type of vehicle. It was a smorgasbord of vehicular carnage where trucks, buggies, ATV’s, motorcycles and big rigs mixed it up. And of course if you get that many vehicles on the track with differing weights even Mr. Magoo can see that crashes would ensue, and they did. The crashes within Pacific Rift are almost as over the top as your average Speed Racer episode, with wheels, chassis’, debris and even bodies flying all over the place. I remember one horrendous crash where my car exploded and sent my driver cart wheeling through the air. I think he did more mid air spirals than an Olympic gymnast. I also think on one occasion I actually drove through somebody’s car as it was exploding. Most of these crashes happened when you slammed up against a rock or drove off a cliff, but there are a lot of times when a crash or explosion would randomly occur, and in Pacific Rift the ante gets upped. Not only do you have rocks to contend with, but now there’s lava and rivers that you have to evade. There’s something hilarious about making a jump over liquid hot magma (said like Dr. Evil) and missing it by a foot and seeing your 4X4 truck melting in it.
Not only do these elements provide obstacles, but they also effect how much you’re able to boost. If you’re on a track with a lot of fire you have to take into consideration that the fire greatly influences your chances of overheating and going up in flames. To combat this you have to find sources of water or sprinklers on parts of the track to cool your vehicle down, which allows you to boost longer. Since Pacific Rift is a racing game there really isn’t much to it, but you do have to learn what vehicles work well on certain parts of the track as well as memorize the track layout so you can take each turn with efficiency. Even when you practically race a perfect lap you still run the risk of flipping over and careening off a cliff. I’m not sure if it’s because the physics engine is finicky, or because there’s a chance that a pebble jutting out at just the right angle can flip over a dune buggy in real life. All I know is that when it ruins your lead it’s irritating. Another thing that is really irritating is that when you get off the beaten path it takes forever for the game to reset your vehicle. But when you finally find the pace of the race and memorize the layout of the track you start to have a good time.
One noticeable change is how you unlock races. Instead of using that ticket system from Motorstorm you get points after a race depending on your placement. Once you hit a certain amount you get access to more vehicle classes, liveries (paint schemes) and races. It’s kind of a play on the A.C.E.S mechanic from Rainbow Six Vegas 2 so it rewards you for playing the game.
Whether you’re ramming vehicles off the road or taking great pleasure at seeing your opponent burst into flames because he boosted too long (in mid-air), it’s a blast. Granted Pacific Rift won’t be known for lighting your hair on fire with blistering speed, but it does a real commendable job of providing you with balls to the walls (and ceiling) action. There’s enough testosterone in one race to make Richard Simmons sound like the late Barry White. To keep up with this theme they added a new vehicle class and these are monster trucks. Sadly you’re not going to squash ATV’s looking like Grave Digger or Bigfoot, but it’s still nice. The greatest allure of these vehicles is that nothing gets in your way. You can drive through vehicles and most obstacles without slowing down. The only problem is that it doesn’t help with the balancing. Pretty much if you see one coming move out of its way, because it’s not going to go around you, it’ll go through you and completely wreck you. But this is the best time to know what vehicle works best on what kind of pavement. If you know that you can either just completely avoid them or get the better of them and out maneuver them.
Once a person is capable of figuring out the learning curve and mastering the tracks it’s pretty easy to have a good time. If there will be a Motorstorm 3 there really isn’t that much to ask for, but I wouldn’t mind some kind of vehicle customization option and more environment interaction. Maybe the occasional avalanche might be a good idea in the sequel. Rating: 8.5 Graphics:
Vehicles show a lot more detail than the previous Motorstorm and the paint schemes are a lot better too. It’s a lot easier to find a livery that makes your ride look like something vicious or at the very least presentable. My favorite improvement is actually how they let you see what you’re driving. Anybody who has actually played Motorstorm has had to sit through (and possibly sleep through) the 30 second to almost a minute long load times of vehicle selection, just so you can go through each livery and then go back to the one you liked. To replace this they just use pictures and it makes the process a lot less torturous. Also when you go to your garage you can choose which livery you like the most and it becomes your default vehicle for that class.
I must say that the move away from a desert setting does a lot for Pacific Rift’s color palette. Gone are the constant browns and say hello to lush greens, vivid vehicle melting reds and cascading blues. On the island you race on it’s hard not to see something beautiful, whether it’s a waterfall that you see while your soaring in mid air after a jump, or rocketing through the air in your truck plastered with flaming skulls as your vehicle catches fire from the lava below, it can teeter from beautiful with a hint of carnage to completely mental. You also happen to get all of this with very little slowdown too. Rating: 9.0 Sound:
For starters Pacific Rift allows for custom soundtracks. This is definitely a blessing and justifies me spending the amount of time it takes for me to scroll through my Ipod tracks and copying them to the PS3 (seriously, when is Sony going to fix the sorting option for this?). There’s something just phenomenal about racing down a mountain to Mountain Song by Jane’s Addiction. It puts you in that Zen like mind set for greater concentration. And I also must say that Pacific Rift actually meshes well with songs from the Cocteau Twins and almost anything from their Garlands or Head Over Heels albums are great for this game. Every vehicle sounds responsive and helps you know just how far to take your vehicle before it spins out of control, explodes or kisses a rock face. And if you do wrap your vehicle around something you’re treated to a nice metallic explosion with glass shattering. And this might be the second review in a row I said this but custom soundtracks should at least be made mandatory for racing games, because it adds so much to the enjoyment. Just knowing that I won’t here the same 50 songs with only three (if I’m lucky) being ones that I like is a blessing. Rating: 9.0
There is a nice multiplayer component with both ranked and unranked servers and if you don’t want to go online you can also play split screen co-op. This actually supports four players, but it you’re going to go this route it’s best to have a television the size of a 1950’s Cadillac because you’ll run the risk of going blind, plus there’s the burden of continuous crashes. But it’s nice to have an improvement over the barebones offerings of the original. Rating: 8.5
For anybody looking for an arcade racer that isn’t about pimped out cars, and are looking for something focused around off road racing and insane crashes then Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is good place to look. The sense of speed isn’t mind blowing and wrapping your head around the track layout can take some patience, but it’s purely entertaining after you spend some time with it. Rating: 8.7
As American citizens we are all familiar with terrorism being used and talked about in our daily lives. With Secret Service you take the role of an S.S. agent and are a direct protector of the US President. Will this game kickass and take names, or will it fail and have a horrid buzzcut like the guy on the front of the game's box? Let's see with the review for Secret Service.
The story is interesting actually, it is 2009 and the president (which isn't black in the game) is getting ready for his inaugural speech when you get a call from an unknown person who tells you the President (referred to as POTUS [Pres. of the United States] throughout the game) is in danger of assassination. He refuses to tell you his identity, but warns you of the attack which happens almost immediately after you get off the phone. They are foreign nationals who directly attack the President and you along with 2 other S.S. agents must defend him. The game sounds like a decent story except the part where it is completely unrealistic.
For example, the first level you are defending the Pres from attackers while taking refuge in the Lincoln Memorial, after taking out the waves of gunmen you need to take out several RPGers stationed around the LM. Security seems like it took the day off for a drinking binge and a fatty. You are turned into an apparent one man army. In the second level you are in the Capitol building (again alone) which has been rigged with a crap ton of explosives and you (literally only you) must take out all of the terrorists as well as disarm the explosives. Like I said, it is just too unrealistic for a one man task force to do the work of a six man team. If you take Rainbow Six and make it just you against everything this is the storyline that you get.
The gameplay is typical and forgettable. It is your normal FPS with typical buttons as well as missions. You have to kill these guys, disarm this, keep this guy safe you know, all the typical things. Secret Service is unfortunately a bust when it comes to gameplay ability. The guns are clunky and it becomes increasingly annoying when you are stuck fighting brigades of terrorists on your own. They give you a lean button that is suppose to help but it is actually in your best interest to stay as far away from it as possible.
It does have some decent guns as well as some good firefights, but it is too far in between all the unreal scenarios as well as gameplay that makes it rough to not die 3 out of 4 times. The enemies also are like super human soldiers that can take loads of punishment from you. All in all, the game is pitiful. It has tough controls, enemies that are on another level of strength and unrealistic campaigns as well to sum it all up. This game is lacking heavily is decent gameplay or anything that stands out as superb. This honestly isn't a game that can be saved by graphics or anything else due to the gameplay's poor turnout.
The graphics are actually good, but nothing that goes KA-KOW! or saves the game as well. It is hard to look past the gameplay and see the graphics as a saving grace in honestly, any instance. The graphics are pretty solid and I mean I gotta talk about where it is strong so here it is, the graphics on the buildings are pretty strong [not compared to Fallout 3s rendition of the buildings though] but they lack that true realistic feeling that makes a great FPS. They are pretty much the best thing that game has, but it just can't measure up enough to save the gameplay here.
The sound is...alright. The weapons are solid, but it does nothing to ‘wow' you or make you turn your head a second time. The guns make decent sound effects and the vehicles aren't half bad, but when it comes down to it, it is the same problem as with the graphics. It cannot save the game. The sound effects are solid and do their job, but don't do enough for this game to get any better.
Really low here. No worthwhile online anything coupled with very minimal playability makes this game a hard one to swallow [Haha Boosh]. The graphics and sound are acceptable, but they don't make up for the utter lack of playability. Since it is a FPS game we have to compare it and this is not something that is worth truly any amount of money. The achievements aren't fun, the controls are lacking and most of all, the story is just downright a rough one to believe at any standard. Not the attempted President situation that has happened several times, but the whole game being one S.S. agent vs. the entire terrorist organization. I mean they don't send over one badass John Rambo from the USMC to take out the Taliban or anything so why would you have it in a game? It just doesn't make sense.
The game just straight up blows. I have to be honest people, I have played some bad games [Drake of the 99 Dragons], but this one exceeds many expectations of bad games. Poor story, terrible gameplay and sound and graphics that cannot make up for it either really just kills this games possibility. One of the big ‘additions' to the game is actually one of the biggest busts of it with the leaning ability. Leaning is not only ridiculously hard to do, but it leaves you totally immobile and gives you very little help when shooting. The replay value is non-existent and it is due to many reasons which I have talked about frequently thus far. I cannot recommend this game even for a rental due to how boring and unrealistic it is.
I can usually find something in a game that makes it mildly playable, but not here. It offers nothing worth even $20 in all honestly and fails in the wake of post-terrorist fear mongering. If you were part of a team [Rainbow Six style] this game could be decently playable, but no you have to end the threat all on your lonesome. It pains me to say that this is one of the worst games that I have played on the X360 and that is a pretty steep fall. This game ranks down there with Dark Sector [isn't that bad though] and is just downright not worth the money. Sorry, but Secret Service is just not much of a service for gamers to enjoy. [Zing!]
Don’t Tase Me Bro
Electrocute 35 enemies using the Stun Gun or Taser.
Accumulate 30 kills using pistols in any level.
Accumulate 50 headshots throughout the entire game.
Gives Instead Of Takes Bullets
Complete the game without dying on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete the game on any difficulty setting.
Yeah, I'm Pretty Awesome
Complete the game on the POTUS Detail difficulty setting.
Loves Fire, Hates Red Containers
Blow up 10 fire extinguishers.
No Body Cares
Destroy 20 busts in Capitol Building levels (Coup D'etat and Filibuster).
Just Like The Real Thing
Win 30 hacking minigames.
What Are You, A Cat?
Complete the entire game without ever using nightvision (excluding while gunning in Marine One).
Like Static With Unconciousness
Zap 75 enemies with the Stun Gun or Taser.
They Shouldn't Have Bunched Up
Kill 30 enemies using hand grenades and/or the RPG.
The Memory Of A Goldfish
Kill 1 enemy using the tripwire laser bombs that were set by the Sentavans.
Turns Out They Don't Hail A Cab
Initiate the explosion of 5 tripwire laser bombs by crossing their lasers.
Too Lazy To Jump And Crouch
Blow up all tripwire laser bombs in the Rogue Agent level.
Run for over 3 minutes, crouch 30 times, lean 30 times, and jump 30 times.
Shock 1 enemy with the Taser while they aren't looking.
Some Of Them Still Have Minutes
Pick up 10 Cell Phones.
Haven't Found A Color I Like
Pick up 35 Cell Phones.
Opening A Local Wireless Store
Pick up all 50 Cell Phones.
Beat the game without killing a single Secret Service Agent.
Fire each weapon in the game at least once.
Kill 5 enemies in 5 seconds.
Bow To No One!
Complete any level without crouching.
From The Hip
Complete any level without using gun sights.
White House Electrician
Complete Habeas Corpus using only the Stun Gun and Taser on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
The Best Defense…
Complete Extraction with more than 50% of the helicopter armor intact.
Master Of Spin
Win 10 hacking minigames in a row.
Complete any level without getting hit even once by a turret.
Playing For Keeps
Complete any level on POTUS Detail difficulty without dying.
Hopefully No Long Term Effects…
Receive 15 hits from high voltage fences without dying from electric shock.
In Just 30 Seconds A Day
Perform 5 crouches, 5 leans and run for 10 seconds all in under 30 seconds.
Five Birds With One Boom
Eliminate 5 or more enemies with a single explosion (use grenades, RPG or Trip Wire Bombs).
Destroy 25 turret cameras.
Destroy all turret cameras.
Complete Inaugural Assault on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Coup D'etat on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Filibuster on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Urban Legend on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Collateral Damage on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Rogue Agent on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Habeas Corpus on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Last Stand on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Extraction on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Complete Expatriate on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Xbox Live Arcade, one of the cornerstones of Microsoft's power hungry juggernaut that is the X360 has produced some great games. While some games are older games brought back, there are some totally new and fun games. One of those games is Castle Crashers made by those at newgrounds.com and also the makers of Alien Hominid. With side scrollers being something they find fun, can they make a damn good one that also isn't boring or just overall stupid? Let's see...
Enough to get by, the base storyline will interest you but isn't quite... amazing. The story changes depending on the character you pick, and by the choices you make throughout the game. At the beginning of the game you're thrust straight into the immersive style of FarCry 2. You begin in a taxi, driven by a talkative and wise native African man, a basic exposition of the setting takes place here as he tells you about the conflicting factions in this area of Africa and such. At this point one of the most interesting details of the game shows itself for the first time. The screen blurs and distorts, you hear the character grunt, and you begin to writhe. Sickness, while not central, doesn't take a backseat in this game. Throughout the entire game you'll be reminded of your sickness, and have to care for it. As well as healing yourself from the illnesses damage, you must also perform first aid on yourself and others. Examples of this are pulling a bullet out of your hand, or calming and treating a friend who seems to be in shock by playing micro-games, similar in style to the Trauma Center games on DS and Wii.
The graphics are beautiful in this game. Absolutely the most gorgeous graphics I've seen since Crysis. FarCry2's graphics aren't quite to par with Crysis, but they're certainly second best. Even with the gorgeous graphics, those of us who can't quite run it on full will not be disappointed.
The game's graphics aren't nearly as demanding as Crysis to begin with, and almost anyone can run the game on medium settings. My only complaint about the game's graphics are the trees. The trees in FarCry 2 are incredibly low-poly and the show it. This isn't an uncommon problem in recent video games for some reason. It really does lower my opinion of the graphics when I see trees that resemble origami.
As I mentioned above in the Story section, Sickness is ever present in this game. Another constantly present and absolutely original detail of the gameplay is gun degradation. Due to the setting, and the poor conditions you're in, it's very uncommon to find a firearm in good condition. Because of this, the guns that you find will begin to break with use. This causes them to jam, and while you can still use the weapon, it's incredibly irritating and will surely cause you to stop using the weapon. Throughout this game you will come to love the flamethrower.
Due to FarCry2's use of the Dunia engine the fire-propogation in this game is excellent. So excellent it can actually be effectively used against your enemies. One of my major complaints about this game is the repetition, and tedious travels. Many of the missions are of the generic "Kill this, kill that," nature that I've simply had enough of. As if the repetitive missions weren't enough, getting to the missions is also a pain. The vehicles just don't feel quite right, and are easily crashed or stuck upon even the smallest of rocks. This is a massive pain in the butt. In a game applauded for it's open-world style, you'd think more attention would be paid to transportation around the gargantuan game-world! This is sadly not the case. The side-missions are fairly fun, and finished them upgrades your safe-house with things like weapons.
One of the most noticeable achievements for this game is it's AI. It's absolutely fantastic. Enemies react as they should, and have even been programmed to use the fire-propogation system against you. AI is never without it's quirks though. Many times I killed one enemy, to have one directly beside it not budge. This isn't quite right, but excusable. I've also shot quite a few enemies to have them simply stand still! That, isn't excusable. While the AI is truly a success, despite it's few quirks and issues, the enemies themselves are not. There is a very limited amount of enemy-types. In an open-world game most expect to see many many enemy models and varieties. This is not so here. It's not a major issue, but noticeable.
I've only had a very limited amount of time to play around in the Map Editor, but so far I'm very impressed. It's powerful, easy to use, and fun. There's an enormous library of objects to choose from, and the terrain editing is very easy to use and usually ends in near-profession results.
The sounds are high-quality, and the music is fitting and discrete. I found no problems with the sound, and have nothing but good to say about the excellent sound-design.
FarCry 2 is a gorgeously rendered and composed open-world shooter. Average enough to please die-hard shooter fans, and just original enough to please fans of action and adventure games. With micro-games tastefully dispersed through the gameplay, the repetitious quests don't have as much of an effect as they did in Assassin's Creed, but still damage the game experience. I suggest this game to any fans of shooters, or fans of the FarCry series. I give FarCry 2 a Nine out of Ten.
While in the late 90s to the mid 2000s Tony Hawk Pro Skater was the number 1 in X games styled sports games. While the THPS franchise has come to a bit of a grinding halt due to lower interest in the games and what they present another game has tried this market. With X game games getting more and more out of the main stream loop it is trying to rally around it’s big bad centerpiece in the flying tomato himself, Shaun White. He is presenting an open world game for you X gamers out there in Shaun White Snowboarding. Can Shaun White pick up on where Tony Hawk and Matt Hoffman left off? Let’s see in the review for Shaun White Snowboarding.
The story here is simple which is nice. You are your created character and Shaun White is here to help you up to the pedestal. You start out in Park City and can travel to Europe, Japan and Alaska. He helps you along the way also giving you help with his chopper pilot to take you to the top of the mountain. The story isn’t what the game is really trying to get you hooked with it is just a simple story that gives you a sense of purpose and sense of necessity. Your story is to medal enough to get into the finals at each of the 4 parks you go to. You also collect Euro’s and money to buy new clothes, boards etc. The story is not bad, but not really what this game was built around.
Here is where SWSB really needs to make the mark and it delivers fairly well. The snowboarding is flowing and realistic. It is helped by being in a snowboarding environment where gravity is an asset not a liability like what THPS had to fight from game to game. The challenges have a degree of difficulty mark so you can get better with easier challenges before you try the more difficult tasks. The tasks themselves are fun and enduring as well. It is a smooth running game with very few problems in gameplay. The only gripe is some of the harder challenges are really really difficult and make you work real hard for them, but that is the point isn’t it?
SWSB is a game that gives just some real fun. You’ll find yourself not even trying challenges and instead just flying down the mountain as fast as you can and doing some psychotic as hell jumps in the process. The gameplay is realistic yet still has a great fun factor. You can do stupid things like hitting people with snowballs on and off your board and you can do this in order to win races too. SWSB is a solid game that gives the player a lot to look forward to and a lot to accomplish and performs well in the wake of a lower interest in X games materials.
The graphics are really solid and realistic. The mountains and areas are breathtakingly real. It is a soothing feeling with just going down the mountain and checking out the scenery. While THPS relied on slap stick humor and a long somewhat awkward storyline and Skate is good looking but lacking in the gameplay department, SWSB really hits a good 50/50 with gameplay and graphics. While the gameplay is solid as stated above the graphics are just as great if not better. Your character is good looking and solid and the environment is wonderful and intriguing. When you jump from a high part of the mountain and over a large gap, you really get a hell of a rush and feel like your there. The races are tough but the graphics engine helps keep races and other tasks realistic but still fun. The graphics are the real bad boy of this game and keep it up there on the scale.
One of the better soundtracks in games, it ranges from Jefferson Airplane to Blue Oyster Cult and it was handpicked by Shaun White himself for the most part. The snowboard makes great sounds weather grinding or riding normally. When your getting air you can hear the air flow and it again keeps some strong realism within the game. SWSB is a game built around strong gameplay and great graphics and the sound is one of those nice little additions for players to keep a fun and enjoyable experience when playing.
The replay is relatively high here especially with the online. The online is a drop in drop out style and can be accessed from in the game on the spot with the diagonal buttons. The game itself is an extensive single player campaign and will keep your interest for a good amount of time and when adding that to your online play it is a sweet combo for those of us craving some X sports games which we haven’t had in a short time. SWSB offers players a worthwhile game with good replay value for friends and for random racing.
Shaun White Snow Boarding gives a lot and isn’t getting some of the accolades it deserves. It is better than Skate and the most recent Tony Hawk Pro Skater and probably better than Skate 2 as well. SWSB gives a fun game with lots to do and without a fake feel to it. Gamers will get into it and enjoy the online playability as well as the challenges you encounter. Customizing your own boarder is a plus and making it into the same RPG like thing of the first THUG it changes and reinvigorates the snowboarding game genre. While I won’t expect there to be many snowboarding games to be made this stands out among the off styled sports games that EA constantly pumps out each year. This game is enjoyable and keeps you into it. From the lengthy solo game to the fun multiplayer there is a lot to get into here. The graphics are wonderful and the gameplay is solid and adequate for the X360 as well as the PS3. This is one of the better X games out there in the last few years and is better than it’s older brother in Tony Hawk. This is something to fill in that gap between games and to get some fun with friend’s out of as well.
Prove your mettle at all of the Park City challenges.
Baron Von Connors
Earn respect from the riders at Park City.
Earn respect from the riders in Europe.
Prove your mettle at all of the European challenges.
Prove your mettle at all of the Japan challenges.
Earn respect from the riders in Japan.
Prove your mettle at all of the Alaska challenges.
Earn the respect of all the wildlife in Alaska.
For this one you will have to prove yourself at every challenge and competition.
How do you become the ultimate of the Ultimate Competitions?
You can never have enough respect!
There is this special event called the Triple Slam. I want you to win it!
If you want to be the man (or woman), you've got to beat the man.
If you keep impressing Shaun, he'll teach you how to go really big.
This is achieved by completing another of Shaun's tasks. Don't worry, it's worth it.
Get this one by completing Shaun's first task.
Earn your Ph.D in air tricking.
Snag your snowploma by scoring huge while grounded.
You're going to need a pretty big rail for this one.
Bet big and win!
You're going to need to put up so dough, and come out victorious.
Did you know that you can share your edited videos online? Well now you do!
If you want this one, you'll have to get competive with your friends all over Park City.
Doing challenges with your friends online is the cool thing to do in Europe.
Up for a lot of friendly competition in Japan?
You'll have to try out all the challenges in Alaska online. Come on, it'll be fun!
New Kid on the Block
Show you're more than just talk in online competition.
You can never have enough respect from the internet.
Try to make yourself puke while airborne.
Not everyone can snowboard with style.
Living on the Edge
It's a long way down, but you're not afraid of heights are you?
Is flying just for the birds?
It's like doing a really long wheely... but on snow, and without any wheels.
You'll need to get big air and stay busy to pull this off!
You'll have to have to risk getting buried for this one.
Keep that multiplier up for as long as you can!
Don't bail or stop if you want to score high enough.
Time to turn an ordinary box or rail into a merry-go-round.
Like a Top
Stay grounded and spin to win!
Sit down, stay a while. Maybe you'll learn something new?
Dropping the Science
Big and steady wins the race.
Win the CAPiTA® SlopeStyle
Do a trick that makes the devil proud.
It's Only a Game
Throw yourself off something big and resist the urge to land feet down.
You're going to have to travel online a lot for this one. Maybe you'll meet some new friends?
I wonder what happens if you snowball somebody who is airborne?
How many style bonuses can you get from a single jump?
Several years ago during the Xbox/PS2 days I walked into a Toys R’ Us and played a demo of Need For Speed Underground. I fell in love with the slick visuals, blinding speed and car customization. This was back before they re-added the cop chases and opted for cheesy over the top stories with equally cheesy FMV sequences. As far as I’m concerned the ultimate culmination of the current franchise is still NFS: Most Wanted. After the dismal NFS: Pro Street EA’s Black Box studio goes back to the ground work that was laid by Most Wanted and finds a way to cock it up with Need For Speed: Undercover.
I’ll give you the best rundown I can muster because it’s boring, lifeless and it’s something that you’re essentially just going to skip to get to the racing. You’re hired by federal agent Chase Linh (played by the foxy Maggie Q) to bust up some street gangs. But in order to get close enough to them you have to earn their trust by winning races. There’s a lot that goes on within the narrative and none of it is really too important, but I will at least say that it’s better than the story in NFS: Carbon. The FMV’s make a return and they’re not as over the top as Carbon’s (no fat dudes with really bad Elvis mullets). There are times that the camera angles appear to show some sense of style, but it tends to get lost in the lifeless performances. What makes the FMV’s bearable in stuff like Command and Conquer is the fact that the actors are hamming it up. Whereas in Undercover the actors are actually trying to take it serious. Rating: 5.0
What made Underground fun was its challenge. You had to be able to dodge oncoming traffic and normal traffic without slamming into another car. This was because you wrecked you ride and had to start over again. Once Most Wanted came out you were no longer penalized for hitting traffic. This I didn’t mind because you weren’t able to just smoke your adversaries. Undercover just might be the “noobification” of the franchise because for the most part it’s easy to leave people in the dust. This is actually something you’re rewarded for as well. It’s called “Domination” and this is the best way to increase your wheelman level as well as upgrade your stats. Whenever you gain a wheelman level it gives you a boost to certain stats. This gives Undercover an RPG like quality.
As nice as this is you have no control of what skills get raised. It will just randomly give you more points to something. I’m personally not sure if you’re able to feel the difference in the handling of your vehicle, but at least when you blow people away by ten seconds you’re at least awarded for it. I’m personally not sure if newcomers will even notice the difference between this and Most Wanted, but veterans can tell in a heartbeat. In Most Wanted the vehicles had a good sense of weight to them, and you were able to feel the tires bite into the pavement for traction. As you got used to breaking and easing up on the accelerator in just the right way you were able to drift into turns and slide right between cars and take corners just the right way to slingshot past people. Granted this is still here in Undercover, but the cars feel a lot lighter and are just too arcade like in their handling.
The alterations to the handling is somewhat expected since Undercover is operating on an entirely different engine, but what really grinds my gears is how much you get fined money. Once you start playing for a while you notice red numbers that appear on the left side of the screen. What this is is you losing money. You get fined for speeding, street racing, destruction of property, driving off road and numerous other things that didn’t matter in past incarnations (why the f*ck does it cost me $200 to go fast!!?).
In Undercover you still have boss races, but they seem to come less frequently and how you access them is open to interpretation. In Most Wanted you had the “Blacklist” in Carbon you took over their territory, but in Undercover I couldn’t tell you how it happens. I guess you just race until you get a text or cutscene where they ask to challenge you. Just like in every Need For Speed they introduce new ways to race. Some are entertaining while others are just infuriating. One such new addition is called “Highway Battle. (or some permutation of it)” It has you and another racer driving on the open road dodging traffic and at the same time trying to get as far ahead of each other as possible. As long as your opponent does not outrank you these tend to be really easy. The irritating ones are where the course isn’t blocked off; now as exciting as this sounds, there’s a reason why they stink. One reason is that they tend to be timed and the other is the amount of traffic that’s on the road at times. You’ll find yourself peering down at the map and almost driving via the map, and when you have traffic coming towards you it gets irritating. It gets to the point where you have to memorize the track, which can only be done by screwing up and starting over.
What I do find interesting is how infrequent the new cars are. In Most Wanted and Carbon after every boss race you had the chance to win a new car so you always had ended up with a new ride. Granted that depended on how fast you got bounty and milestones (in Most Wanted), but hey at least you knew you would eventually get a new set of wheels. In Undercover I think I was driving the same car for four hours, it drove me nuts. I was constantly muttering, “do I finally get a new car” after about every race, and buying isn’t the best option. I finally got a second set of wheels once I hit 40% completion. How they handle that is actually interesting. When you do challenge a boss you don’t do it in your car, it’s done in different car. You have the option of taking that car, or taking the bosses car.
The greatest allure of the franchise is the car customization and it’s a lot more toned down than it used to be. Since autosculpt came in with Carbon they’ve decreased the amount of body kits and even this works differently. In Carbon you had specific body kits used for molding and in Undercover you can sculpt the preset body kits. I’m personally not sure which method I prefer, but it’s at least good to see that this feature hasn’t been taken out.
There are still cops and they’re actually pretty tough. You can’t ram the crap out of them like before because their cars seem to be made out of submarine grade titanium. You hit them and you bounce off unlike in previous games when you could’ve taken them out by ramming them. Also there are a lot less pursuit breakers than before, which seem to be the only ways to get cars off your ass. Yes you can still out run them, but when you have loads on your tail it isn’t that easy.
Pretty much Undercover can be called the most inconsistent Need For Speed. It does some interesting things like try to tell a story, but it seems like by going after all the actors the team probably had to cut corners in gameplay for budgetary reasons. The racing isn’t as smooth or challenging as it used to be. The police chases are still exciting at least and the vehicles at your disposal are pretty nice. To sum it up if you’re not a huge Need For Speed fan then don’t touch it. If you are one then it’s best to lower your expectations. Rating: 6.0
For some odd reason Most Wanted a three-year-old game looks better than Undercover. I do believe Undercover has better lighting, but when it comes to car detail Undercover loses. While this I can live with the most blatant problem lies within the frame rate. The frame rate stumbles and wobbles more than Robert Downey Jr. (don’t worry I know he’s clean now) during his years of alcoholism and drug abuse. It really hampers the racing, because there are times when it will hitch up during a turn and throw you off. Next thing you know you’re spinning out of control or you run into a car. Since I know developers are just in love with patching games I can only hope to god that they release a frame rate patch (which better include trophies and a custom soundtrack option). Other than this the sense of speed, tricked out cars and vibrant colors are still here. The sun seems to be blinding at times and does a good job of reflecting off your car. Rating: 6.0
For starters I really hope that Sony demands mandatory custom soundtracks in every game (especially racing games) from this point on. Because I can’t stand the music used in this game, but aside from that Undercover does a decent job of conveying the growl of certain engines. While anything mechanical doesn’t distract the same can’t be said for anything organic. The dialogue is both boring and flat or over the top and makes me reminisce about the time when they simply made racing games sans story. Rating: 5.0
There’s online multiplayer, which I didn’t bother to use because the last time I played an NFS game online it was a debauched lag fest. Granted I’m pretty sure that the servers are a lot better now than the last time I played Most Wanted online I’m pretty sure that my sessions would be with people using the most powerful car with the stats maxed out. So if getting smoked by strangers is your idea of a good time then have at it. If you plan to race with friends only than it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Only real problem might be that they disable vinyl’s for online. That and you have to create an account with EA Nation, which I’ve had for a while on my 360, but I guess you need a new one for PSN games, but if this is the case why the hell didn’t I need this for Battlefield: Bad Company? Rating: 7.0
After the dismal NFS: Pro Street this is more of a return to form, but this form isn’t in the best of shape, it’s practically fat and ridden with cellulite. EA and the now defunct Black Box studios needs to figure what made Underground and Most Wanted entertaining experiences. When stacked up against the competition of Midnight Club: Los Angeles (which is only hampered by its obscene amount of traffic and invincible cheating A.I. that smashes you onto oncoming traffic) it just can’t compete. The car customization is better, the cars are more varied and it’s presented much better. While Undercover doesn’t drop the ball completely in entertainment, but it does fumble said ball more times than an epileptic quarterback with leprosy. Rating: 6.0