Thursday, August 5, 2010

List of Video Game Reviews and Previews.

Welcome to my crowded review round-up.

First a note: I score reviews based on price rather than a numerical score. I do this not just to differentiate myself from other reviewers but because I feel it simply is a better measurement. Prey as an example was a pretty horrible $60 title. At $3.99 a Gamestop it is well worth picking up. Many games that were to short or simply to flawed to be a decent full priced title simply become a fun experience at a lower price point. Not worth a dollar games on the other hand are not just not worth the money but more importantly are not worth your time.

I often include qualifiers such as if you made it past the first level on the demo or if you are a Mega Man fan in my actual reviews, so please feel free to click on said reviews for clarification.

A final note some people have written in to ask what is an Indie Game. Go to Game Marketplace on Xbox Live scroll up till you see indie games and you will find over a thousand games priced between $1 and $5 waiting for your love. 90% of them are awful mind you so please note my reviews carefully.

Previews are games I plan to buy and have not yet played fully. The preview score is the price at which I would purchase said game.

Happy gaming.


After Burner Climax: Live Arcade: Score Score $3

Blacklight: Tango Down: Live Arcade: Score $3

Crackdown: Xbox360 Disc: Score $25

Death by Cube:Live Arcade: Score Not even a dollar

Helico Hero:Indie Game: Score not even a dollar.

Impact of Towers: Indie game: Score $1.50

Japanorama: Indie Game: Score Not even a Dollar

Just Cause 2: XBOX 360 Disc: Score $80

Leximo: Indie Games: Score $1

Mega Man 10: Live Arcade: Score Not even a dollar

MetaElectric Guitar: Indie Game: Not even a dollar

MyBand: Indie game: Score Not even a dollar.

N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights: Xbox360 Games: Not even a dollar

Scrap Metal:Arcade Game: Score $3

South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!:Arcade Game: Not even a dollar

Stack of Bricks: Indie Game: Score $1


Aphelion: Indie Games: Score $10

Crackdown 2: Xbox360 Disc: Score $10

Deathsmile: Xbox360 Disc: Score $5

Duke Nukem Manhattan Project:Live Arcade: Score $7.50

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge: Live Arcade:Score $7.50

Naughty Bear: Arcade Game: Score $5

Radiangames Crossfire: Indie games: Score $10

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Videogame Roundup 8/4/2010... Collector's Edition

Well the big news this week is Starcraft 2. It looks good and I expect Korea will shut down for August. For those that have more money than sense, (Your faithful blogger definitively fits in this category as well) there is a collector's edition which is currently available second hand on Amazon for a low $126 dollars.

Videogame Roundup 842010  Starcraft 2 collectors edition

Who would spend such coin on a collector's edition? Well it is very nice as can be seen on this video from The Escapist, where guest star Wolverine mangles one. (Even I cringed as he manhandled the comic book that comes with it... it is a strange feeling when your inner geek shows itself.)

Not all collectors editions are so dear of course. For example Bioshock 2 came out with a massive collectors edition. (Seriously its the size of the Beatles Rock Band box) and by the sheer number of dust covered copies still available at various stores I have visited (Best Buy, Gamespot, Fredrick's of Hollywood) they haven't exactly been flying off shelves. In fact Amazon has it for $69 dollars new which obviously is only $10 more than the game cost by itself at launch. I have a feeling that many brick and mortar stores have reduced Bioshock 2's collector edition even more than Amazon, just so they can free up some shelf space for a large screen television or crotchless panties display.

Videogame Roundup 842010  Bioshock 2 collectors edition

On the Xbox360 launch front we have a new Xbox360 that has 4GB of internal memory and no hard drive. Yay?... Alas there are no actual new games to speak of (Gamestop has the sexy stratagy RPG Record of Agarest War as a launch title this week but everyone else seemed to have gotten that one back in April.)

On the XBOX Live Arcade, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is this weeks launch title and well they all can't be winners can they? I will have a proper review of Castlevania: Harmony of Despair later on but initial reports are it's Castlevania dumbed down for co-op. Since all co-op is evil and doubly so on the Xbox Arcade, (I'm looking your way South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!) I have the feeling my review will not be a positive one.

Videogame Roundup 842010  Castlevania

On the Deal of the week front Forza 3 cars and tracks went on sale and yours truly snatched them all up despite the fact I have more time under the hood on indie games such as Armor Valley than Forza 3 and my current car collection in Forza 3 could be best described by the number 5.

Needless to say, I've been meaning to get back to that game.

Videogame Roundup 842010 Forza 3 DLC

What I have been playing is Dragon Age. I am currently sporting 42 hours which puts it at the front of my Raptr chart (which has been keeping track of my gaming since May). That is an amazing number for what has been about eight days. Not just is it more time than I spent with Red Dead Redemption and Just Cause 2 (both completed mind you) it is actually more time than I spent at work or with loved ones over the last week.

Speaking of loved ones my girlfriend popped in on me at two in the morning last night while I was playing said game. I turned off Dragon Age (mainly so I wouldn't have to hear "do you find a French accent sexy" and "Should I dress more like Morrigan?"). Not to mention the fact I feel a little dirty playing a fugly dark elf mage seducing various wenches and witches. (At least when I have an audience. This is what has always bothered me about Fable 2's co-op. While one player is having sex with his wife what exactly is the other player supposed to be doing?)

Videogame Roundup 842010  Fable 2 wives

So I quickly popped in Assassin's Creed 2 which I picked up for $20 at the Gamestop Sale and had not had a chance to actually play yet. I figured I would show off some Italian Renaissance fashions (My girl loves the costume dramas). Alas I only seemed to play some expository warehouse level ( all the while listening to my girlfriend ramble on about French Lieutenant's Woman of all things). What is strange is I managed to get two achievements (Arrivederci Abstergo and The Birth of an Assassin) simply by walking down a hallway into a car trunk and participating in a couple of quick time events... and honestly achievements that cheap also make me feel a little dirty.

Well the doldrums of summer seem as good a time as any to catch up on some indie games. In addition I might actual reach the Landsmeet in Dragon Age. Assuming I can stop creating new characters and just finish with the one I started with.

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Videogame Roundup 842010  French Luetenants  woman

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights Review.

N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights:Xbox360 Game:Developer:Q Entertainment, Feelplus: Publisher:Konami

N3II Ninety-Nine Night Tackling Violent Crime Act

N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights is a Dynasty Warriors spin-off. Dynasty Warriors has developed a very poor reputation over the last few years. Notice I didn't use any modifiers in that last sentence such as undeserved or unfair. Truth is Dynasty Warriors has a well deserved poor reputation. N3II does nothing to improve that.

How bad is N3II? Try Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 bad. First of all, there is your primary "foe" the mooks. I put foe in quotes because these faceless clone warriors don't actually attack you per se. They basically stand around waiting for you to spam the x and y buttons and cleave them in half. There are literally thousands of them waiting patiently for you to walk up and kill them. This is not so much a strategic medieval battle, as it is a grass cutting simulator.

N3II Ninety-Nine Night 1 fois 5

The whole thing reminds me of a quote from a gaming magazine (for you young-ins out there, magazines are like blogs but on paper) reviewing the quite fun Army Men: RTS for the Playstation 2. Commenting on the serious lack of aggro shown by your opponents the Tan Army, he noted that it felt as if the Green Army had found itself in combat against UN Peacekeepers. In N3II I felt as if I had stumbled upon a sluggish group of Terracotta warriors.

Normally this would be the time I would discuss the plot. N3II however doesn't seem to have one... seriously.

N3II Ninety-Nine Night Duchess Sibylle of Saxe-Lauenburg

Now the reviews for Ninety Nine problems and gameplay are all of them were pretty vicious. While a Metacritic score of 47 is pretty damning in and of itself, the fact that none of the usual suspects were willing to stick there head out and actually recommend this game is even more so.

N3II has some good points. The graphics are nice and some of the character designs are well done. (Yes that is code speak for fan service.) Unfortunately that is about it.

N3II Ninety-Nine Night Fulgerata River

It is possible to make a good Dynasty Warriors game. Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires
wasn't that bad after all, but the spin-offs... oh god the spin-offs. No story, lacking power-ups and checkpoints, confusing and yet monotonous controls, ridiculously monotonous gameplay, cheap bosses and it's thirty hours long.

N3II Ninety-Nine Night Ryan Monro

Did I play the full game? No. So who knows, maybe the game turns into a Bioware RPG or a Gears of War tactical shooter halfway through... but somehow I doubt this.

Score. Not worth your time let alone your money less than a dollar. (If you are a die hard Dynasty Warriors fan I would still wait till this hit the $10 bargain bin.

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N3II Ninety-Nine Night Transport in the United Kingdom

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Naughty Bear Preview

Naughty Bear:Xbox360 Game:Developer:Artificial Mind and Movement: Publisher:505 Games

Naughty Bear (3)

I want a Friday the 13th game. I picture a modern HD setting where each level corresponds to a film from the series. In the single player you get to play as Jason's mother in the first tutorial level then upgrade to Jason by the second. I figure you could get the original actors to voice the various camp counselor victims (I'm sure Kevin Bacon is free) and extra achievements for using the original weapons (hello spear gun) as well as killing them in the original order. Heck you could have a multiplayer mode where one person plays Jason and everyone else plays well armed fodder (extra points for skinny dipping after finding your friends dead.)

Naughty Bear (1)

Sorry I got carried away there for a minute... anyway Naughty Bear promises me that Friday the 13th game play albeit with cute, poorly rendered teddy bears rather than topless nubile teenagers. Well you take the hand that is dealt to you.

Naughty Bear takes place on Perfection Island. You play the titular bear who apparently snaps after not being invited to Daddles' birthday party. As a result you stalk the various bears on the island beating the stuffing out of them (literally), setting traps, and frightening them into committing suicide. As a side note, since this is done with teddy bears the game is rated teen. If anything proves the arbitrary silliness of the ratings board this would be the game.

Naughty Bear (2)

Now there have been other games that allowed you to indulge in your serial killer fantasies with a controller in your hand, the infamous Manhunter being the most obvious example. (As a rule you can not mention Manhunter with out using a qualifier such as infamous or notorious.) Alas, Manhunter is hardly alone. The Hitman video games certainly allowed one to set elaborate traps and stalk one's prey. There was a Playstation game where you could set traps in a house and defends it against attackers of which I bought the sequels and enjoyed very much and for the life of me cannot remember the name of despite an exhaustive search of Playstation games on the Wiki, and no it wasn’t Home Alone.)

Naughty Bear (4)

In fact one of my favorite builds in open world RPG’s (Oblivion, Fallout 3) is that of the serial killer. Ramp of the stealth, put on the black hat (and hockey mask), and then go to town. On the surface it appears Naughty Bear appeals to my game play style. Alas there is a fly in this dark ointment… the reviews.

With no demo and gameplay videos that are both uninformative and unimpressive, I am forced to listen to those other voices out there in the ether. And those voices say nein. Naughty Bear got some ugly reviews. While a Metacritic score of 42 is pretty damning by itself, the similitude of the complaints is the most jarring. The reviews complained of game (and Xbox) breaking glitches, repetitive environments, repetitive gameplay, and an overall lack of good programming.

Naughty Bear (5)

While I will occasionally ignore reviews and jump into the pool anyway (Duke Nukem Manhattan) I take this wall of warnings with a heavy heart.It seems like Naughty Bear is a decent concept very poorly implemented. I am still curious enough to pick it up in the bargain bin, but I have no illusions of it being very good.

Final Preview Price $5

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Due to the adult nature of the Stinger please click here to view.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crackdown Review.

Crackdown: Xbox360 Game: Developer:Realtime Worlds

Crackdown came to prominence due to Microsoft's decision to package the Halo 3 multiplayer trial with the game. To everyone's surprise the actual Crackdown game turned out to be a very fun (if somewhat flawed) open world action game.

In Crackdown one plays a genetically enhanced super solider called The Agent for an organization called The Agency run by a disembodied voice known as The Director. Through both your actions and the collection of orbs you increase your powers to the point that you are a true bad ass jumping around the city (surprisingly not called The City, naming things not being Realtime Worlds' strong suit).

The game's city consisting of three islands each controlled by a different gang with your headquarters on a forth smaller island in the middle. The gangs are Los Muertos (Your standard South American Drug Cartel), The Volk (Your standard Russian Mafia), and The Shai-Gen Corporation ( which represents Sony).

The graphics are a colorful cell-shaded affair that fits surprisingly well with the chaos and the ever more outrageous powers you will achieve. The sound (with one notable exception detailed below) is also quite good with the hum of the agility orbs almost being hypnotic (and yes you will see agility orbs in your daily life and hear the hum in your sleep.)


There are a couple of bits of genius in Crackdown. The first and most obvious is the combining of item collection and powers. The powers are more than mere stat boosts as there are both visible (You crackle with electricity when you level up a core power ) and quite fun (You can roundhouse kick a mack truck and leap from skyscraper to skyscraper).

The other brilliant move is the structure. In the game you are tasked with taking out the three gangs as you see fit. Each gang consists of a boss and various sub-bosses that specialize in various tasks for their boss (Such as training bodyguards or providing weapons). By taking out the sub-bosses you weaken a certain part of the bosses defenses therefore making him an easier target. It's a brilliant structure that gives a real sense of accomplishment in a open world environment.

The game also doesn't skimp on weapons with the harpoon gun and the five shot at a time homing grenade launcher being particular favorites.

Crackdown (3)

It is a good thing that Crackdown is such well structured and fun game, because the game certainly has a bunch of flaws that easily would be game-breakers in almost any other adventure.

For starters there is combat. There is a reason my Agent maxed out his punch people in the face ability first. Now hand to hand combat has its own set of issues. (Mainly facing the wrong way and missing enemies outright while jamming the B button.) Compared however to the auto-aim on guns, hand to hand combat is of a Street Fighter II Turbo caliber.

Auto-aim has two favorite targets: civilian vehicles and dead guys. Crackdown loves shooting dead guys, perhaps as a forerunner to the zombies in Crackdown 2 one might muse. Getting your targeting off the dead guy and onto the guy with a rocket launcher is surprisingly challenging. In addition Crackdown allows you to target specific parts of a person or vehicle. The game in theory allows one to blow up a car with a well aimed shot to the gas tank. Getting the cursor to the gas tank part of the car however seems to be a case of random hit or miss. Often the game simply won't let you target that part of the vehicle even if you a clearly facing it.

Fortunately the above mentioned homing grenade launcher renders many of these problems somewhat mute towards the end of the game. Though they still seem to pop up every once in a while.

Crackdown (4)

Part of the games challenge is making seemingly impossible jumps to grab onto a distant ledge. Unfortunately sometimes a ledge looks like a ledge, quacks like a ledge and yet your agent proceeds to plummet eighty stories to his demise. While the parkour in Crackdown is fun, and one of the games selling points, it isn't what I would call fine tuned.

Speaking of both out of tune and poorly tuned we have the vehicles. Driving is one of your abilities in Crackdown and in theory when one reaches the highest level ones car becomes a super powered monster. I say in theory because there is actually no need to power this up to defeat the game. In fact once your all important agility power has a few stars under its belt, cars are simply superfluous since you can now jump from rooftop to rooftop.

And thank God for that. For such a relatively small map Crackdown's streets are a confusing labyrinth. To add to the mess the in-game map has no custom waypoints. Strangely, The Agency claims they want you to capture enemy vehicles and bring them back to headquarters. However the entrance to headquarters is unmarked on your map, almost impossible to find and is disguised on top of that like the Bat-Cave entrance from the caped crusader's sixties TV show.

In addition the way you increase your driving skill is by winning races (easier said than done and hardly a fun pastime in this particular game) or running over gang members. Gang members however seem to metamorphosis into Cirque du Soleil performers the minute one points a car in their general direction.

Crackdown (2)

The final nail in the driving coffin is the in game radio. One of the joys of open world games is simply cruising around the city listening to the radio. I would purchase a downloadable version of GTA Vice City right now (Hint hint Rockstar) just to cruise the streets of faux Miami in a red convertible listening to the tunes.

Per Wikipedia: Music supervisor Peter Davenport was in charge of selecting the music for the game, over 100 tracks of electronica and sample-based music by a number of independent and video game musicians, a task that took three years to complete. Per Videogame Musings: it is the worst collection of "music" I simply have ever heard. Each song is worse than the last and if I would have to guess Peter Davenport's IPod is currently the torture device of choice at various CIA black prisons around the world.

Crackdown (5)

Thankfully, despite the control problems, some features either missing or broken, and a soundtrack from the depths of hell, Crackdown scores high in that hard to define fun factor category and when it comes to games that is always the deciding factor.

Final Score $25... so pick it up if you don't own it. (and from what I have read certainly pick it up instead of its sequel)

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Crackdown dubai towers