Secret Service (X360) Review

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.

Story:

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.

Story: C

Gameplay:

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.

Gameplay: D+

Graphics:

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.

Graphics: B-

Sound:

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.

Sound: C

Replay:

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.

Replay: D

Overall:

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!]

Overall: D+

Achievements:

Don’t Tase Me Bro 10
Electrocute 35 enemies using the Stun Gun or Taser.
Cowboy 10
Accumulate 30 kills using pistols in any level.
Soft Spot 30
Accumulate 50 headshots throughout the entire game.
Gives Instead Of Takes Bullets 50
Complete the game without dying on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
POTUS Secured 50
Complete the game on any difficulty setting.
Yeah, I'm Pretty Awesome 100
Complete the game on the POTUS Detail difficulty setting.
Loves Fire, Hates Red Containers 10
Blow up 10 fire extinguishers.
No Body Cares 10
Destroy 20 busts in Capitol Building levels (Coup D'etat and Filibuster).
Just Like The Real Thing 15
Win 30 hacking minigames.
What Are You, A Cat? 50
Complete the entire game without ever using nightvision (excluding while gunning in Marine One).
Like Static With Unconciousness 20
Zap 75 enemies with the Stun Gun or Taser.
They Shouldn't Have Bunched Up 20
Kill 30 enemies using hand grenades and/or the RPG.
The Memory Of A Goldfish 15
Kill 1 enemy using the tripwire laser bombs that were set by the Sentavans.
Turns Out They Don't Hail A Cab 15
Initiate the explosion of 5 tripwire laser bombs by crossing their lasers.
Too Lazy To Jump And Crouch 15
Blow up all tripwire laser bombs in the Rogue Agent level.
Bullet Waltz 20
Run for over 3 minutes, crouch 30 times, lean 30 times, and jump 30 times.
Awful Surprise 15
Shock 1 enemy with the Taser while they aren't looking.
Some Of Them Still Have Minutes 10
Pick up 10 Cell Phones.
Haven't Found A Color I Like 15
Pick up 35 Cell Phones.
Opening A Local Wireless Store 20
Pick up all 50 Cell Phones.
Countryman 20
Beat the game without killing a single Secret Service Agent.
Weapon Tester 10
Fire each weapon in the game at least once.
Merciless Speed 15
Kill 5 enemies in 5 seconds.
Bow To No One! 10
Complete any level without crouching.
From The Hip 15
Complete any level without using gun sights.
White House Electrician 20
Complete Habeas Corpus using only the Stun Gun and Taser on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
The Best Defense… 20
Complete Extraction with more than 50% of the helicopter armor intact.
Master Of Spin 15
Win 10 hacking minigames in a row.
Cameraman 15
Complete any level without getting hit even once by a turret.
Playing For Keeps 20
Complete any level on POTUS Detail difficulty without dying.
Hopefully No Long Term Effects… 10
Receive 15 hits from high voltage fences without dying from electric shock.
In Just 30 Seconds A Day 10
Perform 5 crouches, 5 leans and run for 10 seconds all in under 30 seconds.
Five Birds With One Boom 20
Eliminate 5 or more enemies with a single explosion (use grenades, RPG or Trip Wire Bombs).
Camera Shy 20
Destroy 25 turret cameras.
No Record 30
Destroy all turret cameras.
Inaugural Assault 25
Complete Inaugural Assault on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Coup D'etat 25
Complete Coup D'etat on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Filibuster 25
Complete Filibuster on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Urban Legend 25
Complete Urban Legend on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Collateral Damage 25
Complete Collateral Damage on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Rogue Agent 25
Complete Rogue Agent on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Habeas Corpus 25
Complete Habeas Corpus on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Last Stand 25
Complete Last Stand on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Extraction 25
Complete Extraction on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Expatriate 25
Complete Expatriate on Agent or POTUS Detail difficulty.
Secret Achievements
Drop The Pin… 0
Killed yourself with your own grenade.
Expert Marksman 0
Fired an entire magazine without hitting anyone.
The Exact Opposite Of Your Job 0
Shot the man you were hired to protect.
Jan
18
2009

Castle Crashers (X360) Review

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...

Jan
16
2009
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FarCry 2 (PC) Review

Story

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.

Graphics

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.

Gameplay

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.

Audio

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.

Overall


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.

Jan
12
2009

Shaun White Snowboarding (X360) Review

 

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.

Story:

 

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.

 

Story: B

Gameplay:

 

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.

 

Gameplay: B+

 

Graphics:

 

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.

 

Graphics: A-

 

Sound:

 

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.

 

Sound: A-

 

Replay:

 

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.

 

Replay: A-

 

Overall:

 

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.

 

Overall: B+

 

Valedictorian 40
Prove your mettle at all of the Park City challenges.
Baron Von Connors 20
Earn respect from the riders at Park City.
Grouchbedoit 20
Earn respect from the riders in Europe.
Terrani 40
Prove your mettle at all of the European challenges.
Itto-Ryu 40
Prove your mettle at all of the Japan challenges.
Musashi 20
Earn respect from the riders in Japan.
All Aska 40
Prove your mettle at all of the Alaska challenges.
Bizzy Bear 20
Earn the respect of all the wildlife in Alaska.
Frequent Flyer 40
For this one you will have to prove yourself at every challenge and competition.
Ultimate Ultimate 40
How do you become the ultimate of the Ultimate Competitions?
OMG! 40
You can never have enough respect!
Slammy McSlammerton 20
There is this special event called the Triple Slam. I want you to win it!
Y.T.M.N.D. 40
If you want to be the man (or woman), you've got to beat the man.
Supa Bounce 20
If you keep impressing Shaun, he'll teach you how to go really big.
Supa Flash 20
This is achieved by completing another of Shaun's tasks. Don't worry, it's worth it.
Supa Powa 20
Get this one by completing Shaun's first task.
Dr. Air 15
Earn your Ph.D in air tricking.
Dr. Butter 15
Snag your snowploma by scoring huge while grounded.
Dr. Jib 15
You're going to need a pretty big rail for this one.
High Stakes 10
Bet big and win!
The Gambler 10
You're going to need to put up so dough, and come out victorious.
Generation 2.0 10
Did you know that you can share your edited videos online? Well now you do!
Mardi Gras 25
If you want this one, you'll have to get competive with your friends all over Park City.
Octoberfest 25
Doing challenges with your friends online is the cool thing to do in Europe.
Tanaba 25
Up for a lot of friendly competition in Japan?
Ice Worm 25
You'll have to try out all the challenges in Alaska online. Come on, it'll be fun!
New Kid on the Block 10
Show you're more than just talk in online competition.
Mecha Shredzilla 40
You can never have enough respect from the internet.
Dizzy 15
Try to make yourself puke while airborne.
Scenester 10
Not everyone can snowboard with style.
Living on the Edge 15
It's a long way down, but you're not afraid of heights are you?
Gravity Allergy 15
Is flying just for the birds?
Trans Flat 15
It's like doing a really long wheely... but on snow, and without any wheels.
Touchy Feely 15
You'll need to get big air and stay busy to pull this off!
Whitewall 15
You'll have to have to risk getting buried for this one.
Mathemagician 15
Keep that multiplier up for as long as you can!
Big Run 15
Don't bail or stop if you want to score high enough.
Magnet 15
Time to turn an ordinary box or rail into a merry-go-round.
Like a Top 15
Stay grounded and spin to win!
Connoisseur 10
Sit down, stay a while. Maybe you'll learn something new?
Dropping the Science 15
Big and steady wins the race.
CAPiTA® 50
Win the CAPiTA® SlopeStyle
Demon Sings 10
Do a trick that makes the devil proud.
It's Only a Game 10
Throw yourself off something big and resist the urge to land feet down.
Town Bicycle 10
You're going to have to travel online a lot for this one. Maybe you'll meet some new friends?
Airmail 15
I wonder what happens if you snowball somebody who is airborne?
Bonii 15
How many style bonuses can you get from a single jump?

 

Jan
09
2009

Need For Speed Undercover (PS3) Review

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.

Story:

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

Gameplay:

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

Graphics:

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

Sound:

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

Replay:

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

Overall:

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

Jan
06
2009

Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC) Review

Normally, I don't exceptionally like Tower Defense games. However, after playing Defense Grid: The Awakening, my entire perspective changed. First of all, it's not a flash game--which is a first for me. In addition, it's 3D. That means that instead of just winding passageways, there can also be vertical advancements, so that enemies can go under platforms to get to the cores, and you have a much longer time to prepare.

Speaking of cores, let's explain what they are. Instead of going by traditional TDS rules--e.g. Having only one "end" and not two--, they decided to do something else. Each mission has an obelisk containing around twenty power cores--your lives. When an enemy reached this obelisk, they take as many power cores as they can carry--which is normally around one. Instead of immediately losing these power cores, players instead have to shoot down the enemies as they run towards the end of the level! A lot of the time, the end of the level is the same as the entrance, but there can be multiple entrances and exits. As long as players shoot down the aliens before they get to the exit, they drop the power cores and the cores slowly float towards the obelisk. There is a rule here though--if flying enemies take a core, there's no getting them back even if you kill them!

In addition, flying enemies have a different path than walking enemies. At the beginning of each round, the flight path is shown in a yellow line. Only guns, cannons, and missiles can take down flying enemies, so be sure to have these. Players can see the flight path by pressing T, in case they forget. Most flying enemies are easily taken down, though they are numerous in number.


Possibly one of the greatest annoyances is the amount of enemies! They just keep coming in through the entrances, and guns have a very hard time taking them down. Speaking of guns, there are a lot of them to be had. Everything from the gun tower to the temporal tower. Gun towers are obviously towers that have guns attached to the top. Temporal Towers slow down enemies, making it a lot easier for players. Laser towers shoot a constant beam at one enemy, hurting him and catching him on fire, so that even when the tower stops shooting, the enemy is damaged constantly. In addition, there's the Tesla Tower. The Tesla Tower fires rather quickly. However, the longer a Tesla Tower goes without shooting, the more powerful its next attack will be. Of course, there are many more towers than that. Towers can be upgraded from green to yellow to red. At level red, towers are insanely powerful, though even with a ton of red towers, I find it extremely difficult to beat the game! There are a few levels that seem impossible, no matter the tower combination.


The graphics in Defense Grid are very stunning. At first, you start the game to be greeted with a simple menu--nothing extraordinary there. Then you launch the game and BAM! Instant gratification. I absolutely loved the graphical style in Defense Grid, and hope that whatever these guys make next has equally stunning graphics. There's nothing more to be said about the graphics except the fact that they're really enjoyable.


The sound effects, however, are few and far between. There are only a few--seperate ones for the towers, various alien sounds, and finally clicking sounds for mouse-overs. That's it! Also, there seems to be only a single song, looping over and over. This goes unnoticed, yet if you really take the time to notice this fact, it gets irritating. The voice actor for the computer was surprisingly good. You can easily tell the emotion in his voice, making the immersion into the game a lot deeper. The voice actor truly is spectacular, to say the least.


Through short dialogues, players learn the gist of the story--long ago, a similar battle took place. The computer had a son, Zeke--he died, unfortunately. For some reason, he calls the player Zeke once--whether this is a mistake on the developer's side, or the computer thinking you're his son is unsure. The story doesn't seem to be very deep--all the player gets is the rough outline, which is not nearly enough. I would have loved to see cutscenes of the past or maybe some pictures.


Defense Grid
entices players to come back to it again and again, striving to find better strategies that leave them with a higher score. In addition to the story mode, there's "story challenge" and other such modes. This forces players to come back and try their absolute hardest to create a winning strategy. This is rather difficult, though--it's almost impossible to win with a good strategy, but perfecting it just makes my whole body convulse.

 

All of this added together makes one awesome game. I wouldn't be surprised if they continue making such quality games and become the next big game developers. Though it is rather fun, it's insanely difficult. This obviously deterrs players that simply want a fun game that doesn't require a lot of thinking.  Such a game gets an eight out of a possible ten.

Jan
03
2009

Prince of Persia (X360) Review

With 2008 coming to a close the companies give one final push for games to possibly gain the Game of the Year award. While Ubisoft has had some good releases in 2008, but their big bread winner was released this December in Prince of Persia. The series has had it's ups and downs with the release of Prince of Persia being a hit on the PS2, Xbox as well as the Gamecube, but the next few releases being seen as disasters or not measuring up to the par of the original. With everyone shuffling to put out their end of the year games we can only hope for the best and maybe it is right here in Prince of Persia.

Story:

You are the nameless Prince who is cast into this because of a sandstorm and a missing donkey. You fall into a cavern and right after are nearly hit by a young girl jumping in right after you had. You catch her and decide to fallow her even though she tells you otherwise. Her name is Elika and she is the apparent princess of the Ahura who guard the Tree of Life which holds Ahriman, the god of Darkness. The reason for Ahriman being imprisoned is due to the Celestial War in which Ormazd the god of light and Ahriman’s brother, was forced into war with Ahriman and forced to imprison him in the Tree of Light. Before I continue I want to do a quick character rundown:

The Prince: it is only a nickname, he is a drifter in search of fortune and a solitary person. He lost his family at a young age and vowed to not get close to anyone again. He lives with a live this moment vigor and worries not of the past or future only the present.

Elika: A princess of the peoples known as the Ahura who are the guardians of Ahriman’s prison. She is forced into this struggle apparently due to her people losing faith as well as her father’s poor decisions.

The King: He is the leader of the Ahuraand has currently retreated from his duties in order to mourn the loss of his wife. The king neglected his people and allowed the City of Light to slip into decay and the last vestige of his people to wonder off and abandon the Ahura ways.

Ormazd the god of Light: he is not part of the game, but you feel him through Elika is some way. Ormazd fled the world and left for the stars after seeing the consequences of his reluctance to act properly.

Ahriman the god of Darkness: the creator of what darkness is. He was the first to know the feelings of envy and hatred and was not content with only half the universe. Ormazd tricked him into the Tree of Light when Ahriman had the war won thus ending Ahrimans quest for power…for now.

The Hunter: A former Prince who grew up with riches and indulgence. He got everything he wanted and more. Of everything though he loved the sport of hunting. He tracked and found every type of animal he could using the best advisors he was given. He then gave his soul to Ahriman for the ability to hunt the ultimate prize… man.

The Alchemist: A smart and brilliant man who worked and studied within the City of Light. After achieving many successes he sought the secrets of the universe, and as he sought these findings his health began to fail him. He turned and looked for assistance from Ormazd, he feel on deaf ears though. So he turned to someone else…Ahriman.

The Concubine: A beautiful woman who was adept at navigating politics. The Concubine knew the real power rested in men not in intellect. She used her beauty to manipulate powerful men. With this came jealously from other women and when she was involved with a man of great power another woman had her beaten and scarred thus relieving her of her power. Left without a way to gain favor she turned to Ahriman.

The Warrior: A king of a peaceful people his kingdom was besieged by war on all fronts. As his people faced destruction Ahriman called offering salvation for them in return for his soul. He accepted this in order to save his people and was given the strength to destroy all his peoples enemies. After he defeated his enemies he realized he couldn’t return to his people and left to fulfill his purpose for Ahriman.

These are the major characters throughout the game. From here you must free all of the fertile grounds in order to reseal Ahriman into his tomb. Each of the 4 chosen Corrupted (Hunter, Concubine, Alchemist, Warrior) control a part of the fertile grounds and each have a stronghold which you must destroy. Each of the chosen control 6 fertile grounds including their stronghold and you must heal the 5 they control in order to take them on in their sanctuary. Throughout the game you must collect Light Seeds which enable you to gain the 4 powers of Ormazd. You can get The Step of Ormazd (Rebound), The Breath of Ormazd (Dash), The Wings of Ormazd (Fly), and The Hand of Ormazd (Grapple). With these 4 powers you will be able to get to the fertile grounds that are being guarded by the chosen Corrupted.

Story: A

Gameplay:

The gameplay is very solid. It brings back the entire wall climbing acrobatic craziness that Prince of Persia is most renowned for. Everything is quick paced yet basic and simple to master which gives you a better curve of learning and better feel when you get used to it. What I’m saying is that the game flows beautifully and even the most uncoordinated schmuck could learn these controls. The real addition here is Elika. Her powers of light as well as her ability to basically fly (which pissed me off at many a time) she is the cornerstone and savior to The Prince. If your about to be diced she’ll save your ass, if you are overtaken with corruption she’ll save your ass, if you jump and miss that long jump you oh so thought you had guess what? Yeah, she’ll save your ass. See a trend here?

The real great addition here is very simple, yet it is the most helpful tool in the game. The compass. If you get disoriented which you will and you lose your way just press the Y button and a light will guide you the way you must go. Another thing is the teleport ability she has which allows you to move from one healed fertile ground to another which saves some good time considering how large the world is.

The one problem I can really pick out throughout the game is honestly the lack of fighting throughout the game. While your main quest is to rid the world of corruption and the game is truly centered around the agility and speed you possess, it seems like a few more fights would have been fun. Fighting the regular corrupted wasn’t really much of a challenge compared to the boss corrupted, so it could all be a cry of vein conformity from my vocal chords.

Let’s get to the real bread and butter here though, the agility. This game flows like Tim Tebow through the Alabama defense (Zing! That’s one for my Buckeyes!). The game is so flowing and keeps you tight and on your seat with the crazy ass acrobatics your able to perform with and without the help of Elika’s powers. From wall running to vine climbing this game is packed full of unbelievable stunts not even a John Woo film would contain.

Gameplay: A

Graphics:

This is one of the most majestic and beautiful games of 2008. With vibrant colors and the best looking Prince of any game, along with a very good looking girl in Elika this game has a lot to offer in the graphics department. The Prince has a rugged “Don’t F with me look” that fits his Deadpool like attitude with a load of sarcasm, but the badassness to show he isn’t a joke. The world of the Ahura is stunning. The world with and without corruption is a large and wondrous place that you can tell was once a place of great majesty. The world is in decay and it shows but in a beautiful way. This is truly one of the best graphical games in 2008 and should be accounted for. This is something that will set a new standard for a lot of games graphically.

Graphics: A+

Sound:

The sound fits into the game perfectly. It has an Arabic feel with the old mystic times that it takes place in. The voice acting is phenomenal and both characters fit their voices well. The sword and corruption sounds are good and give you a realistic feeling with how they look. The sound does its job here and delivers a fine performance.

Sound: B+

Replay:

The value here you would think is minimal at best, but your wrong. The games many achievements will give you the worth of a second play through at least. The game is a fun one as well and is something that will give you a good amount of play that keeps your interest. All 50 achievements are able to be achieved with 2 plays. It is worth it and is a worthwhile and entertaining play.

Replay: B

Overall:

The game is a completed work and a great one at that. After the first Prince of Persia with the sands of time deal I thought the others were honestly bad. This renovated Prince is one of the best character remakes in gaming history. He is brash, arrogant and skillful and really gives you that sense of in the worst of times he can still come out on top. The game is an amazing work and will reinvigorate the Prince of Persia series. With flowing gameplay and some of the best graphics in 2008, Ubisoft has presented a hell of a game for the end of 08 and for Game of the Year consideration. With Gears of War 2 and many others out there for these many awards one that will soar under the radar is Prince of Persia. I admit when I originally saw it I thought, “Meh, it looks pretty but I bet it will be over done” and damn was I wrong. Prince of Persia is a top 5 game for any person. It has easy controls for any person to learn and an epic storyline that will keep any person occupied with this game for around 2 play throughs. The game is graphically wonderful and a real joy to play. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.

Overall: A-

Achievements:

Alchemist Special - 20 points.
Defeat the Alchemist without using the acrobatic button.

Assassin View - 10 points.
Find the Assassin's view.

Be gentle with her - 100 points.
Elika saves you fewer than 100 times in the whole game.

Block Master - 20 points.
Block 50 attacks.

City of Light Runner - 40 points.
Run between the Fertile Grounds in the Tower of Ahriman and City of Light in 7 minutes.

Climbing to New Heights! - 10 points.
Find the highest point in the world.

Combo Specialist - 50 points.
Find every combo in the game.

Compass - 10 points.
Use the Compass.

Concubine Special - 20 points.
Defeat the Concubine without using grab.

Death of a Concubine - 20 points.
Kill the Concubine in her Palace.

Death of a Warrior King - 20 points.
Kill the Warrior in his Fortress.

Deflect Master - 20 points.
Deflect 20 attacks.

Explorer - 20 points.
Explore every part of every region.

From Darkness... Light! - 30 points.
Reimprison Ahriman.

Getting to Know You - 10 points.
Get to know Elika by talking to her.

Good Company - 10 points.
Learn about the world, and Elika's history.

Heal the Land - 30 points.
First Healing.

Hunter Special - 20 points.
Deflect the Hunter's attacks 5 times in one battle.

Improviser - 10 points.
Use the environment against an enemy.

In Harmony - 10 points.
500 coop jumps.

Into the Storm... - 10 points.
Enter the Canyon.

Light Seeds Accumulator - 10 points.
Collect 800 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Collector - 10 points.
Collect 200 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Finder - 10 points.
Collect 100 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Gatherer - 10 points.
Collect 700 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Harvester - 10 points.
Collect 500 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Hoarder - 10 points.
Collect 600 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Locator - 10 points.
Collect 400 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds master - 50 points.
Collect 1001 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Protector - 10 points.
Collect 900 Light Seeds.

Light Seeds Provider - 10 points.
Collect 300 Light Seeds.

Now who's the Hunter? - 20 points.
Kill the Hunter in his Lair.

Precious Time - 10 points.
Take one minute to think.

Royal Palace Runner - 30 points.
Run between the Fertile Grounds in the Royal Gardens and Coronation Halls in 4 minutes.

Ruined Citadel Runner - 10 points.
Run from the Sun Temple's Fertile Ground to the Fertile Ground in Windmills in 5 minutes.

Saved! - 10 points.
Unlock Elika's Saving Ability.

Saviour of the City of Light - 50 points.
Final Healing.

Sinking to New Depths! - 10 points.
Find the lowest point in the world.

Speed Demon - 10 points.
Finish the game in under 12 hours.

Speed Kill - 10 points.
Kill 10 generic enemies before they spawn.

Sword Master - 20 points.
Perform 14 hits in one combo.

Throw Master - 10 points.
Throw 10 Soldiers of Ahriman into pits.

Titanic view - 10 points.
Find the Titanic View.

To be continued... - 80 points.
The End.

Traitor's End - 20 points.
Kill the Alchemist in his Observatory.

Up against it - 10 points.
Win a wall mini-game in combat.

Vale Runner - 20 points.
Run between the Fertile Grounds in the Construction Yards and Heaven's Stair in 6 minutes.

Wallrunner - 10 points.
Completing the Canyon.

Warrior Special - 20 points.
Dodge the Warrior's attacks 20 times in one battle.

Where's that Temple? - 10 points.
Talk to Elika.

Jan
02
2009

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (X360) Review

One of the greatest gaming years in history 1998, holds many games near and dear to our hearts and one of those was Banjo-Kazooie. A quaint little game about a honey bear and his breegull partner battling Grunty an old hag of a witch bent on controlling spiral mountain and doing away with our heroes. The game was centered around jiggies which were jigsaw pieces used to create the various paintings Banjo-Kazooie had to use to attempt to get Banjo's sister back and pummel Grunty. It was hailed as a great game that brought sarcasm and off the wall humor as well as great gameplay and a fun storyline. Banjo-Kazooie was then fallowed by its less than admirable sequel Banjo-Tooie which was considered a real let down. Now 10 years from the original Rare has released another installation of the infamous bear, breegull and hag. How will it fair? Here is the review for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bots.

Story:

 

After Banjo-Tooie Gunty's head was removed and buried under rock in a cave. Now, since Banjo and Kazooie have had nothing to do and no one to fight they have needless to say, put on a few pounds and been just lazy, like Rosanne Barr and John Goodman. One day though, Grunty gets herself free from her rocky grave and decides to go right back to fighting with Banjo and Kazooie. Just before they had one of the probably worst slowest fights in gaming history, they are frozen. The L.O.G. (Lord of Games) has grown bored and decided to make the stakes higher and more interesting. He gives Grunty a robotic suit for her decapitated head to live in, and grants Banjo as well as Kazooie their figure and strength back.

In return for this, they must compete in a win all game he has constructed. Whoever wins this battle controls Spiral Mountain. Banjo and Kazooie must go through the worlds collecting parks and blueprints as well as jinjo (remember these little buggers?) tokens and music notes. The music notes are currency for Showdown Town where your main place of rest, relaxation and building of your vehicles is. Gruntilda's job is to hinder you and force you to fail in every which way possible and if she succeeds then she wins Spiral Mountain. The game brings back such favorite characters as Mumbo Jumbo, Humba Wumba, Captain Blubber, the Jinjo's, King Jinjo, Minjo's, Bottles, Jamjars, Mr. Fit, Jolly Dodger(Rodger) Klungo and Boggy. They introduce new characters as well, Pikelet, Lord of Games, Trophy Thomas, and Grunty's new unfortunate yet psychotic cat Piddles.

The crew is back and for another adventure, it is a long enjoyable story with the same quirks and comical satire as the original games from yesteryear. The story is long fun and gives you a history lesson of the game itself as many of the levels have intergraded certain things from the original two for you to enjoy.

 

Story: A

Gameplay:

 

Here is where you will worry. The story is strong, but how is the gameplay? Well, luckily it was done well and actually totally different from the previous games. It is fresh and a new style for the Banjo-Kazooie series. Your egg shooting from Kazooie as well as many other attacks once held by the dynamic duo (as I type this im paying my royalties to DC comics). This makes way for their new vehicle based game they have created which seems sketchy to which I understand, but let you skepticism rest and give it a try. You will find that it is great. You can customize your own vehicles from hundreds of parts and create vehicles that range from regular racing cars to planes and helicopters. I made a plane with two grenade launchers and flew around dropping bombs all over the place, now I know how it feels to be a bombardier for a US plane in 1944. The one catch from the L.O.G. is that you can only use the cart he has provided for you while in Showdown Town.

When you enter the game world you can choose from any vehicle you would like. From your speedboat to your hovercraft you can go all out with it. Think of unlimited Lego designs that fit together at all times. Kazooie is given a wrench that is magical with the lovely Mumbo Jumbo skull on it. You can pick up just about anything with this wrench and carry it or place it in the cart of your vehicle. You get to complete missions of very little significance, but somebody needs them done eh? They range from taking a large bomb to Bottles to be deactivated to racing and sumo wrestling Jinjo's.

The real kick from the game is endless possibilities. With so many things to create it is hard to get bored which really seems to work well for the game. It has minor problems such as some vehicles are very hard to maneuver and some time trials are just astoundingly hard to accomplish. Beyond these small problems the gameplay is fun, solid, and all around enjoyable. The quirky and stupid jokes are back and the gameplay helps move them along wonderfully.

 

Gameplay: A

Graphics:

 

While they will not wow you the cinematics are well defined and produced well. All of the characters have that cartoonie feel that Rare excels in. They took their original N64 game and made a great work out of it. As I said before the graphics are not Gears of War 2 or Fallout 3 esque, but they are not made to be. They are supposed to be slapstick and cartoonie which they do extremely well at. The details to the vehicles are very good though and give you a innovative feel as well. You can make a single wheel motor bike out of 5 pieces or an airship that could rival a US flying fortress. While graphically the game may not be what astounds us it does keep your interest and keep you enjoying every minute.

 

Graphics: B

Sound:

 

The sound quality is exceptional. The music is integrated from the original games so you already know and love it. The vehicles motor or hover sounds are great and keep your realism within the cartoonish game world. They brought back the original conversation system of the weird sounds all the characters make when talking. For anyone that dislikes this I ask you, "How would Link sound?"; yeah that's what I thought...

The effects in the game are simple yet work well. The whole point in the game is fun and the sound does its part. While the effects are nothing to gawk at they do their job respectively and should get the credit they deserve.

 

Sound: B

Replay:

 

With an online battle melee kind of thing going I have to say I was impressed with how much online I really did. I love the single player storyline, but the online was something that is a stone unturned by most. As you can create your own vehicles and use them online or trade, it makes matches more fun and different nearly all the time. The campaign is a long one and if you're a fan enough of the series it is worth a second play, but the online is worth the packaging cost in itself. Think Halo, Build a Bear and Lego rolled into one crazy ranked matchup.

 

Replay: A-

Overall:

 

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts offers a new twist to the games series. With a reliance less on combat and more on building of vehicles they took a great idea and ran with it. With new looks and moves the game takes it all to a whole new level of fun. They give you the gameplay of Banjo-Kazooie, but add in creating hundreds of different vehicles to use and abuse along with a storyline that is full to the brim with stuff that will keep you going. Between the story mode and online play I gotta say that it will keep me playing for awhile. If your new to this game or think you might want to try it out you can also get Banjo-Kazooie off of XBLA for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15 USD) before you buy this game ($35 USD). I you like building and constructing as well as racing and hitting things this is a game that will keep you interest and give you plunty of gameplay for the cover price. Needless to say, you'll go NUTS and BOLTS for Banjo Kazooie!

Overall: A-

 

Achievements

 

Pointless Collector (10 Achievement Points)
Take part in the L.O.G. badge collecting challenge at the start of the game in Spiral Mountain

Open Nuts (10 Achievement Points)
Place the Nutty Acres Game Globe on its plinth in Showdown Town

Next-Next-Gen (10 Achievement Points)
Place the LOGBOX 720 Game Globe on its plinth in Showdown Town

History Lesson (15 Achievement Points)
Place the Banjoland Game Globe on its plinth in Showdown Town

Let the Games Begin (15 Achievement Points)
Place the Jiggosseum Game Globe on its plinth in Showdown Town

Super Banjo Universe (20 Achievement Points)
Place the Terrarium of Terror Game Globe on its plinth in Showdown Town

My First Bank (10 Achievement Points)
Bank your first Jiggy in Showdown Town

Little Banker (20 Achievement Points)
Bank 10 Jiggies in Showdown Town

Big Banker (30 Achievement Points)
Bank 30 Jiggies in Showdown Town

Shower of Gold (40 Achievement Points)
Bank 60 Jiggies in Showdown Town

Jiggillionaire (50 Achievement Points)
Bank 131 Jiggies in Showdown Town

Pimped Up (20 Achievement Points)
Complete the Showdown Town Trolley with Parts won from Grunty battles

Witch Hunt (50 Achievement Points)
Defeat Grunty at the end of the game

My First Trophy (10 Achievement Points)
Earn a T.T. Trophy from any challenge

Few Trophy Pts (20 Achievement Points)
Earn 10 T.T. Trophies from any challenges

More Trophy Pts (30 Achievement Points)
Earn 30 T.T. Trophies from any challenges

A Lot of Trophy Pts (40 Achievement Points)
Earn 60 T.T. Trophies from any challenges

Be Crateful (15 Achievement Points)
Find and return two crates to Mumbo's Motors

Blueprint Buyout (15 Achievement Points)
Buy a blueprint from Humba in Showdown Town

Roid Rage (15 Achievement Points)
Train Banjo once in the Showdown Town gym

Start to Free the Showdown Six (15 Achievement Points)
Free and re-house a Jinjo in Showdown Town

Vigilante (15 Achievement Points)
Lock up a Minjo in Showdown Town

Bingo (20 Achievement Points)
Complete a line on the Bingo card at King Jingaling's Palace

Stop 'n' Swop (0 Achievement Points)
Return a Stop 'n' Swop crate to Mumbo's Motors

BBQ Beef (20 Achievement Points)
In Nutty Acres, they like their steak well done

Massive Damage (20 Achievement Points)
Aim at the 10 legs for massive damage

Test Your Strength (20 Achievement Points)
Roll up, show the whole of Banjoland how strong you are

Great Balls of Fire (20 Achievement Points)
Take a heavy ball around the Jiggosseum and get a burning sensation

Ultimate Combo (20 Achievement Points)
More like a three-hit combo in the Terrarium of Terror

Floater in the Pipe (20 Achievement Points)
Eeurgh That's not going to help the Test-O-Track plumbing

Burn the Witch (20 Achievement Points)
Showdown Town witch hunt

Head for Heights (20 Achievement Points)
Find the best view in Showdown Town

Fuzz Off (20 Achievement Points)
POP goes the Weasel

Paint Your Wagon (10 Achievement Points)
Paint any part of your vehicle in Mumbo's Motors

Speedy of the Colossus (25 Achievement Points)
Build a vehicle with 200 blocks or more and go over a set speed

Minimalist (25 Achievement Points)
Build a vehicle with five blocks or less and go over a set speed

Whoa Nelly (25 Achievement Points)
Travel in a vehicle over a set speed

Loose Change (20 Achievement Points)
Collect ALL the Showdown Town Loose Change

Arcade Pwner (20 Achievement Points)
Finish all levels of Klungo's Arcade game

Sunday League (20 Achievement Points)
Play in and complete a multiplayer game League

Premier League (40 Achievement Points)
Play in and complete a marathon multiplayer game League (Every Race, Every Sport or Every Race and Sport)

What's That Smell? (10 Achievement Points)
Play an Xbox LIVE multiplayer game against a Banjo team member, or somebody who has already done so

Bit of Blue (10 Achievement Points)
Share a blueprint with another player or Friend over Xbox LIVE, or save 20 blueprints

Paparazzi (10 Achievement Points)
Take a photo and upload it to Xbox LIVE, or take five photos

Caught on Camera (10 Achievement Points)
Send a video replay to a Friend over Xbox LIVE, or save five replays

High Fives All Round (10 Achievement Points)
Be on the winning team in a ranked team game

All My Own Work (20 Achievement Points)
Win a ranked solo game with a custom vehicle

Too Easy (10 Achievement Points)
Win a ranked solo race by reversing over the finish line

Too Easy Too (20 Achievement Points)
Win a ranked solo race by running or swimming over the finish line

Are You Trophy Thomas? (40 Achievement Points)
Win 20 Xbox LIVE ranked multiplayer games in any mode

 

Dec
17
2008

Braid (X360) Review

 

With Xbox Live being one of the greatest online components in Microsoft's arsenal against Sony and Nintendo, they have released many a game to a willing audience. With so many games out there like Xbox originals (Indigo Prophecy, Halo, Ninja Gaiden) as well as others from smaller companies. This is one of those many online games from a smaller company. It is called Braid and is the story of young Tim in his quest for the Princess. Braid is done in a side scroller fashion and as you go from one world to another you must piece (literally) together the forgotten past in order to find her and save her. How will Braid fare against a loaded X360 with the many games it has? Let's find out, here is the review for Braid.

Story:

 

This is the story of Tim and his quest to find the Princess, a character that is seemingly and totally unknown to you the player. As you go from each world you are given texts that give a story of love and of tragedy. As you progress you learn more of Tim and more of the Princess and how their lives intertwine with one another. The story itself is one of deep originality in this day and age and gives you, the player a vested interest in seeing this thing through to the end. In the days of kill first ask questions later gaming this is one where you must think and combat only your own knowledge of the situation. Braid is a triumph in the gaming world with an innovative and direct storyline that begs the question "What's going on here?"

 

Story: A

Gameplay:

 

The gameplay is one of difference and learning. If you are hard headed and hate to learn a new system then steer away from this scrolling puzzle game. Braid lets you control time and utilize it to your advantage in most of the game. Each world has its own style to the time control system you posses. Your fighting is simple and Mario Bros like. You just jump on their head and kill them, except bosses who you must drop things on their heads in order to do away with them. You collect puzzle pieces which you must piece (get it now from the starting paragraph?) together in order to solve each world. The pieces are no easy task to collect by any means. You must utilize your enemies, time and leverage to get to all the pieces successfully. The gameplay is amazing and what this game lacks in graphics it makes up with creative and innovative gameplay.

 

Gameplay: A

 

Graphics:

 

While graphically Braid is inferior that is not what the game is made for. Braid is a nice and detailed game in the 2D scroller sense. The details of the background though are just beautiful. Right when you start the game you see an amazing and astounding view with a great fire styled background(second picture posted at the top). The game itself is a wondrous looking engine with the minor details that make up for the games 2D style. The main character Tim, for example, has very detailed clothing and a very defined face. This is where Braid makes its true marks.

 

Graphics: B+

 

Sound:

 

The sound effects are calming and really define each world you enter. You will get different music for each world you go through and it helps you along most of the time. The sound gives you a calm for all of the puzzles that Braid contains. The sound effects provide you with something to keep you going and keep you alert when doing all of the puzzle solving. It is enjoyable and fun and is exceptional.

 

Sound: B+

 

Replay:

 

Replay value is of some interest with this game. It will take you a good amount of time to actually beat the games main story to which I have to say will credit you with a long game. While this technically is not replaying it, it is giving you a large amount of playing time which is what you definitely desire. It is a game of monumental interest, intrigue and hardship and while it may not be totally worth a second playthrough, it will be worth the long long playthrough it gives to you.

 

Replay: B+

 

Overall:

 

Braid is a one of a kind XBL gem. While there are hundreds of games to choose from Braid will force you to think and force you to learn. It is a game of deep interest and rough learning that gives you that great feeling of accomplishment once you get it done. If your looking for something to pass your time and something that is worth the price tag of 1200 Microsoft points ($15 USD). What I have to say is if your looking for a game to get into and a game that will honestly catch you off guard, this is it. Braid offers innovation to the slide scrolling games of yesteryear with a ending that will leave you wondering...

 

Overall: A-

 

Achievements:

 

Closure (60) - Complete the game.
Solved World 2 (15) - Fit together all the world 2 puzzle pieces and align the puzzle in its frame.
Solved World 3 (15) - Fit together all the world 3 puzzle pieces and align the puzzle in its frame.
Solved World 4 (15) - Fit together all the world 4 puzzle pieces and align the puzzle in its frame.
Solved World 5 (15) - Fit together all the world 5 puzzle pieces and align the puzzle in its frame.
Solved World 6 (15) - Fit together all the world 6 puzzle pieces and align the puzzle in its frame.
Speed Run (15) - Complete a full speed run of the entire game, beating the challenge time.
Traversed World 2 (10) - Travel all the way across World 2.
Traversed World 3 (10) - Travel all the way across World 3.
Traversed World 4 (10) - Travel all the way across World 4.
Traversed World 5 (10) - Travel all the way across World 5.
Traversed World 6 (10) - Travel all the way across World 6.

Dec
16
2008

Call of Duty: World at War (X360) Review

With such high expectations nowadays for FPS style games it is hard to say that the Call of Duty series hasn’t been a grand one. With Call of Duty 4 they finally left the trenches of World War II and jumped into modern day terrorist infested lands, which is a big leap from the days of Nazi occupation of previous games. With CoD4 they proved they can make more than just WWII games and made definitely the best CoD game to date. With this the decided to create Call of Duty: World at War, which takes us back to WWII, but instead of just Nazi’s you are now fighting the Japanese as well. Will CoD continue to dominate or did they recede from the glory of Call of Duty 4? Let’s find out…

 

Story:

 

Just like in Call of Duty 4 you assume several different roles throughout the game. You are a Marine Raider Private Miller as well as a Soviet Shock Trooper Dimitri Petrenko and can be an extra character, Petty Officer Locke in only one mission titled“Black Cats.” When in the role of Pvt. Miller, you must fight the Japanese Empire across the island hopping campaign of the Pacific theatre. You fight from Peleliu to Okinawa all while fighting the fierce and resistant Japanese imperial army. As Dimitri Petrenko you are placed at the start of the battle of Stalingrad with your entire unit totally decimated. You then fallow your superior who himself is a sniper, but is badly wounded on his trigger hand so you must be his crosshairs. With Petrenko you will fight from Stalingrad all the way to the battle of Berlin.

 

The story I believe is the best in the WWII Call of Duty game series. It excels in the sense of it is not just you vs. Nazi’s, it is you vs the entire Axis. The Japanese are unforgiving in every sense of the game just like during WWII and it works both ways for the duel stories as the Soviets are also, just as unforgiving and angry as the Japanese. The story is thick, long and just as interesting as all other Call of Duty games. It is fallowing a dreadful trend though with a campaign that is short enough to beat in just a couple hours (5 or so) and relies seemingly entirely on the multiplayer aspect.

 

Story: A

Gameplay:

 

Here is where CoD games really need to make their mark. CoD:World at War is very decent, but not better than CoD4. The gameplay is solid and with new WWII weapons like the M2flamethrower, Thompson MG, Mosin Nagant and Panzershreck you may ask me how it is not as good? Simple actually. The levels do not contain the same emotion and do nothing different from CoD3 in all honesty. CoD4 gave us some of the best FPS fighting I believe we have seen in gaming since the original Halo. World at War just seems like CoD3 with amped graphics, new weapons and Japs instead of Germans.With CoD games you have to compare them and World at War is the best WWII game in the CoD series,but CoD4 in my book still holds that title.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this game very much and really think it has some value to it especially to those who covet the series. The new weapons are very fun, the enemies are smarter and well trained. The Japanese especially are just the most aggressive sons a bitches’ this game series has ever had. They crawl out of spider holes, trees and tall grass to try to banzai(charge you with their bayonet and try to skewer you) your ass! Fighting them is honestly the best part of the game and brought me the most enjoyment. The big problems with the game lie within repetitive gameplay and your AI allies inability to complete simple as hell tasks. The Japanese AI is smarter and better trained than your allies and to put it simple, it is literally up to you to complete missions. I know this is part of the game, but if you add that with the enemies ability to land a grenade with perfection all the damn time it makes it hard to find cover, kill kill and then go to the next area all while your AI cowers in the dark with Christian Slater yelling, “Game over man! Game over!”…yeah I went there.

 

Gameplay: B

Graphics:

The graphics are really strong here just like in CoD4. The one big problem I had was the tall grass in the entire island campaign and the fire from the M2. The grass graphics were ok at best, nothing amazing though. The grass should all catch on fire, but it didn’t. Only pockets of fire appeared and then died out quickly.Beyond that one problem nothing really caused me any pain. The weapons were well designed, the soldiers were great looking and the rain effects were awesome as well. The graphics are real solid with minor problems for me.

 

Graphics: B+

Sound:

 

The sound is decent with some nice explosions to amp up the destruction. CoD: World at War offers very little new things in the way of the sound system. I was used to the whole yelling of a battlefield screaming of death and constant “Grenade!” calls you get from you teammates as it explodes on your ass. One thing I have to commend them for is something simple and necessary for this game due to the campaign,the Japanese soldiers Banzai charge yells. You know when to check your ass when you hear “Banzai!” being yelled by a squad of suicide soldiers bent on forking you to the ground. Beyond that it was essentially the same.

Sound: B

 

Replay:

 

If your one of those people who played CoD4 online more than Halo this is worth a try. In my personal opinion(your reading this so your gonna get it!)the online for World at War is dry compared to CoD4 online play. The fun cat and mouse gameplay and all out war that you went through in CoD4s online was grand and awesome and unfortunately World at War is just pennies compared to its older brethren. The co-op gameplay is worthwhile and gives the need for a second playthrough. The online is worth at minimum a checkout though so don’t think I hated it, I just believe it is not as amazing as CoD4 was.

 

Replay: B-

 

Overall:

 

CoD: World at War offers a new spin on their WWII games that we have not seen before. The downside is that it is fallowing their best game to date in Call of Duty 4. While it offers new things such as the M2 flamethrower and fighting on the Pacific front, it is just the same as CoD3. The game is interesting and you are fighting a seemingly just as ruthless if not more ruthless enemy in the Japanese compared to the Germans.The gameplay is strong just like every other Call of Duty and it has great weapons and environments to back that up. Compared to the older brother though it is just a more beautified Call of Duty 3 and changes very little in an overall standard. I enjoyed the campaign missions as well as some of the online, but the overall ability it is in comparison is just a shadow.

World at War’s online is doable just not something I can recommend compared to CoD4 online. The weapons are viable and the environments are a thing of beauty, but it just has nothing that really WOWs me over compared to CoD4. With Call of Duty 4 still running an easy $45 or so I would tell people to buy this over World at War or to take that money for World at War and buy the new map packs for CoD4 if you haven’t already. I would say that the best part of this game is through the Pacific theatre against the Empire of Japan due to the psychotic nature of their AI. The game is enjoyable and any diehard CoD fan will clamor to get their blood stained hands on a copy of this to which I say I understand and know how you feel. I went crazy for Halo 3 and many say it was the worst of the series, yet you can catch me online playing the damned thing all the time.This is worth a rental definitely and worth the buy if you are enthralled with the series to that degree. Checking it out is a must though.

 

Overall: B+  


Achievements:

 

Carlson's Raiders 10
Complete 'Semper Fi' on any difficulty. (Solo only)
Stormed Peleliu 15
Establish a beachhead on the island of Peleliu on any difficulty. (Solo only)
The Last Stand 20
Survive the land and air conflict surrounding Okinawa on any difficulty. (Solo only)
Stabbed in the Heart 20
Complete all missions on the Eastern Front on any difficulty setting. (Solo only)
Get Your Hands Dirty 30
Complete 'Semper Fi' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Saved Private Ryan 10
Save the soldier before he burns to death. (Solo or co-op)
Bloody Peleliu 30
Complete 'Little Resistance' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Weapon of Mass Destruction 15
Radio in a naval bombardment that kills at least 4 Japanese soldiers. (Solo or co-op)
The Sword Is Broken 30
Complete 'Hard Landing' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
No Safe Place 15
Burn an enemy out of a tree with the flamethrower in 'Hard Landing' (Solo or co-op)
Architect 30
Complete 'Vendetta' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
The Professional 15
Shoot all of Amsel's henchmen, including their attack dog, without reloading. (Solo only)
Gunslinger 15
Assassinate General Amsel with a pistol shot. (Solo only)
The Hammer Strikes 30
Complete 'Their Land, Their Blood' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Scorched Earth 30
Complete 'Burn`em Out' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Firestarter 15
Complete a mission using only the flamethrower. Melee, grenades & explosives are OK. (Solo or co-op)
Fearless 30
Complete 'Relentless' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Hell on Wheels 30
Complete 'Blood and Iron' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Iron Fist 15
Destroy all towers and bunkers in 'Blood and Iron'. (Solo or co-op)
No Return 30
Complete 'Ring of Steel' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Ruthless 15
Kill 15 enemies while mounted on a tank in 'Ring of Steel'. (Solo or co-op)
When It Rains, It Pours 30
Complete 'Eviction' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Shot in the Dark 10
Kill 10 enemies while the lights are out in the subway in 'Eviction'. (Solo or co-op)
One Bad Gato 30
Complete 'Black Cats' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
The Sum of All Zeros 15
Down 45 Japanese Zeros in 'Black Cats'. (Solo only)
Lights Out! 10
In 'Black Cats', blast out all of the spot lights in the Japanese cargo convoy. (Solo only)
Blowtorch & Corkscrew 30
Complete 'Blowtorch & Corkscrew' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Setting of the Sun 30
Complete 'Breaking Point' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Mortar-dom 10
Kill 8 Japanese with thrown mortars in 'Breaking Point'. (Solo or co-op)
Guardian Angel 10
In the final battle for Okinawa, save Sergeant Roebuck. (Solo or co-op)
For the Motherland 30
Complete 'Heart of the Reich' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Bearing the Burden 30
Complete 'Downfall' on Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Rough Economy 15
Kill 3 enemies with a single bullet. (Solo or co-op)
Close Shave 10
Survive a Banzai attack. (Solo only)
Snake in the Grass 15
Take out a Japanese soldier while he is lying in wait in the grass. (Solo or co-op)
Grave Robber 15
Collect all Death Cards in the game. (Solo only)
Kamikaze 15
Complete any level on Regular difficulty or higher using only melee and grenades. (Solo only)
Throw a Six and a Half 15
On Hardened or Veteran difficulty, complete a level without dying. (Solo only)
Purple Heart 5
When staring into the face of adversity, show courage and persevere.
War Hero 40
Complete the game on any difficulty. (Solo only)
Hardened War Hero 100
Complete the game on Hardened or Veteran difficulty. (Solo only)
Get Your Left Foot Wet 30
Complete a match in Campaign Co-Op mode over Xbox LIVE. (Online co-op only)
Get Your Right Foot Wet 30
Complete a match in Competitive Co-Op mode over Xbox LIVE. (Online co-op only)
Blue Ribbon 25
Complete a 4-player Competitive Co-Op match in 1st place over Xbox LIVE. (Online co-op only)
Secret Achievements
It’s All about Prestige 0
You achieved the first level of Prestige. Only 9 more to go.
Secret Achievement 0
Continue playing to unlock this secret achievement.
Dec
15
2008


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