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.


REVIEWS:

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




PREVIEWS:


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.)

Crackdown

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Videogame Round-up Thursday July 29th

Two weeks ago in my last videogame round-up I made a lot of promises (reviews, articles, pictures of scantly clad woman), unfortunately due to a combination of laziness and computer issues I manged only a Just Cause 2 review and a rather lengthy description Of a Gamestop Sale.

Undoubtedly my readers are still waiting with baited breath for my Deadliest Warrior the Game preview. I have learned my lesson however and I am steadfastly refusing to put a list of upcoming reviews (sans one... see below). Also my too review list has mysteriously burgeoned to an unlikely 104 games in what I am hoping is another computer issue.



The exception that proves the rule is Crackdown which I actually manged to finish last week. To give away the plot, I score it at $25 which based on current used game prices makes it a must buy.

I am, as a result of finishing Crackdown, currently playing Dragon Age again with the goal in mind to actually finish the damn thing this time. (Like Fallout 3 I keep changing my character in some strange OCD perfection gambit.) Add in the fact Microsoft kindly made the Deal of the Week Borderlands DLC, rather than say twenty Sonic games, I hope to get to some indie and arcade game reviews over the next seven days (notice the word hope.)

Videogame Round-up Thursday July 29th

Speaking of Dragon Age, Game Informer's latest issue claims they are releasing Dragon Age 2 this spring (YAY!) in two separate versions (Huh?) with the Xbox360 version being dumbed down for the stupids. (OH God The Horror.) Hopefully this is yellow journalism and not Civilization Revolutions all over again. (Not that Civilization Revolutions was all that bad mind you but still.)


Videogame Round-up Thursday July 29th


Speaking of dumbing down, Madden 2011's latest new feature is play-calling for the not so bright. A feature I could have sworn I remember from Madden's past. (Wasn't it called Ask Madden or something?) Apparently it is now streamlined and will undoubtedly be the first thing that any gamer with an ounce of self respect turns off. Another new feature is the Jets don't suck this year (A first for the franchise I believe). That new feature might place a new Madden football game in this household for the first time this generation. Anyway a proper preview will be forthcoming.

Well once again thanks for your patience and I due sincerely hope this weeks production will make up for all it.


Videogame Round-up Thursday July 29th (2)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just Cause 2 Review

Just Cause 2: Xbox360 Game: Developer:Avalanche Studios Publisher: Square Enix


Sequels for video games have a better reputation than say movie sequels. Many of the most innovative games ever made (Mario 64, Grand Theft Auto 3, Final Fantasy VII) were of course sequels. Indeed in this generation we have seen many sequels improve upon their original outing (Assassins Creed 2, Mass Effect 2). These games succeed by fixing many of the niggling issues, that made the first game less than perfect, while still keeping the tone of the original piece.

Even among these improved sequels Just Cause 2 stands out. The original Just Cause could neither be called beloved nor all that terribly well received. Calling the first Just Cause a flawed open world game with some fun bits would be the kindest of labels. Nobody certainly seemed to be clamoring for a second go. When Just Cause 2 was delayed from an Christmas 2008 release date to 2009 and eventually 2010 there was no gnashing of teeth. Many expected it to never be released or at the very least, to be an under the radar, by the numbers rehash.

So when Just Cause 2 was finally released it was a jaw dropping shocker. Here was the open world Michael Bay movie we all wanted (even if we didn't know it). In fact Just Cause 2 nails two factors with such perfection mere words simply cannot do it justice.

The first is the open world itself. In the somewhat crowded field of open worlds to explore the island of Panua is simply a standout. In fact it is simply the best open world ever designed. (Knocking Oblivion and Grand Theft Auto IV out of the top spots). It is huge. It has everything from snow capped mountains to rally style deserts to Tarzanesque jungle to coral reefs. What is more impressive is that it is truly three dimensional. Unlike many open worlds you can fly anywhere up to a mile high or dive anywhere a few hundred feet below the surface. The travel is seamless and the graphics are jaw dropping gorgeous.


Just Cause 2 F

If the open world is the star of the show the dual-grappling hook is the love interest. Words again simply fail to describe the eventual joy one gets from use of this tool. With a grappling hook one can tie enemies to trees, fling oneself through the jungle like some parachute wearing Tarzan, hijack any vehicle in the game (including 737 passenger jets), and fulfill your Spider-man fantasies than any Spider-man game can.

Alas like any Michael Bay movie the plot itself is a throwaway. You play Agency Agent Rico Rodriguez being dropped into the South-east Asian island nation of Panau. Panau has taken over by Kim Jong Il doppelganger Baby Panay, who assassinated his father, institutes a hilariously propaganda filled regime and cuts off all ties to the US in favor of eventually revealed evil foreign powers. Your mission is to oust Panay from office, as well as track down your mentor from the first game Tom Sheldon, whom the Agency fears has gone native while on the island. To achieve all this you ally yourself with the three dominant criminal gangs on the island: the Roaches, the Reapers, and the Ular Boys.

Just Cause 2 E

In other words you blow stuff up to unlock criminal gang missions (which honestly consist of blowing stuff up)to finally unlock Agency missions (which also consist of blowing stuff up).


Fortunately blowing stuff up (like shooting super-mutants in slow-mo while playing Fallout 3) simply never gets old. In fact the game gets more enjoyable the longer one plays it. As one becomes more comfortable with the grappling hook-parachute mechanic, learns which cars to avoid, and realizes that the developers really did think of everything. The Island of Panua becomes an increasingly enjoyable experience.


The Nitpicks

Anytime I gush uncontrollably about a game it only seems fair to point out those few niggling problems that others may have noticed.

Just Cause 2 D


Vehicle Control: With over a hundred vehicles in the game it is no surprise some are better than others. With cars one will find their comfort zone between the Tuk-Tuks that can't seem to make it up hills and the overpowered Titus ZJ Cabriolet sports cars that cannot seem to go two hundred yards without flipping over. Cars in general handle well as do motorcycles and boats. Helicopters in particular are a joy to control... and that is an awfully good thing to since planes are the definite fly in the vehicle ointment.

For some reason developers decided to control planes with only the left stick. How does one fly a vehicle in three-dimensional space with a two dimensional control? Very poorly it turns out. Fortunately, outside of one mission where your jet fighter has to shoot down a rocket in flight, this really doesn't come into play if you do not want it to.

Just Cause 2 A


The Story and Voice Acting. I finished the main story without really finishing the game. In fact I was only 22% done when the final credits rolled. (In the games defense It did take me 33 hours to get to that point.) Needless to say many of the Easter eggs, Mile High nudie bars, Japanese WW2 soldier encampments and the island from the TV show Lost will have to wait till my next play through.

While clearly Just Cause 2 has an insane amount of content (There is an achievement for 75% completion but none for 100% ) I do wish the story had been a little more... well there. The criminal gangs you do missions for could have also been a little better drawn as they all seem to blend together (Think the gangs in Saints Row 2 as an example of gangs done right).

The voice acting is universally awful. If it is so bad its good is truly a personal judgment. (I vote for no). Who gives the worse performance in Just Cause 2 is a game one can play with ones friends. The popular choice around here is Bolo Santos' G-Man like Singaporean accent as leader of the Reapers, but I am inclined to give the prize to Tom Sheldon's massacre of a Texas drawl.)

Ironically even though you are forced to play with a fixed character throughout (A common complaint I have with Rockstar open world games) the sheer lack of story and personality actually negates my usual complaint of being unable to "roll my own".


Just Cause 2 C


Some others have complained about the lack of ammo (and general difficulty) in the beginning of the game, the loose gun-play (which once you get used to it works rather well) and the fact they want a pony.

Generally these complaints (outside of the pony one) are negated as one gets used to the controls, upgrades their weapons, and discovers the myriad ways one can use the dual-grappling hook. The game really does improve with time and I am chomping at the bit to try another go (at a higher difficulty level no less.)


Just Cause 2 is in the running to be my Game of the Year (against some pretty hefty competition) and is simply a must by for any action fan.


Final Score: $80 buy it now.



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Just Cause 2 B

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adventures with Gamestop's Power Saver Sale.

Every once in a while a retail outlet has a big game blowout: to raise cash, create space, fund terrorism; you know, the usual suspects.


My two favorites are Best Buy's Top Secret $10 sale and Gamestop's Everything Must Go Please Feel Free to Pre-order Something While you are Here Sale.

Best Buys Top Secret $10 sale involves new games being sold, one day only, in an very unannounced and unmarked sale for $10. It is popular with Best Buy employees and E-bay entrepreneurs and if you get there at opening you can pick up some decent $30 games before the only thing left is Command and Conquer, survival horror, and 40 copies of Infinite Undiscovery


Gamestop's Everything Must Go Please Feel Free to Pre-Order Something While you are Here Sale on the other hand tends to run for a few weeks, have a nice display, and can be a minefield of pain if you don't know what you are doing.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale G


This post is about Gamestop's current sale whose actual promotional name is Power Saver Sale. An unfortunate moniker seemingly a step below Homer Simpson's spy alias Max Power which, it should be noted, Homer came up with after looking at a hairdryer. The Power Saver Sale runs till August 8th. It consists of both new and used games and it is of note because, like the Best Buy Top Secret $10 sale, many of the prices will still be a bargain six months from now.


So the first question one should ask oneself is do I really need to go buy new games with all the $60 goodness coming out only a few months from today?


First look at the number of games you have that you need to finish (I have 10). Then look at the number of Indie, Arcade and Disc titles that you currently own that you haven't even played yet (My number an embarrassing 22).

And at that point feel free to say screw it, I want to load up on some bargain love.


First I will identify the games you may want to pick up in the sale then I will give some specific advice about shopping at Gamestop which can be intimidating especially when it comes to used games.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale I


NEW GAMES


No Brainers...

Mass Effect 2 for $30
Assassins Creed 2 for $20


If you don't already own Mass Effect 2 then run, don't walk, to Gamestop. Mass Effect 2 may eventually settle down at the $30 price point, but it will take a while. In addition because of the Cerberus Network DLC (Included free in the new game, $10 in a used copy), Mass Effect 2 is one game that is often cheaper to pick up new rather than used.

Assassins Creed 2 at $20 is an outright steal. In addition, the somewhat lambasted Assassins Creed 2 DLC is currently Xbox Live's Deal of the Week , which means you can pick up the full package for under $30 total.



Gamestop Super Saver Sale B


Benchwarmers

Bayonetta for $20
Darksiders for $20
Sacred 2 Fallen Angel for $20
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis for $25

Bayonetta may be Devil May Cry with a fethishized gun toting witch, but it was a surprisingly well reviewed Devil May Cry with a fethishized gun toting witch. Certainly at $20 it falls comfortably into the really good bargain category.

Darksiders is a slightly less well reviewed, God of War style game which also came out earlier this year. Like Bayonetta above the $20 price point is certainly attractive.

Sacred 2 Fallen Angel and Divinity 2: Eco Draconis are the outliers in this category. Sacred 2 is a buggy dungeon crawl that reviewers seemed to like despite the fact it was a buggy dungeon crawl. Divinity 2 was a completely ignored combination of Eargon and Oblivion which wouldn't have made the list had the demo not reminded me a lot more of Oblivion than it did Eargon.


Technically I should have picked up all four of the above games since they fell at or under my preview price points but I was trying to keep the total tab under a hundred dollars with at least 10 games purchased. I ended up with 12 (or 14 depending on how you count) and the tab was a $97 and change before tax. Needless to say, I would have blown my whole wad on the new games alone had I decided to pick them all up.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale F


The rest of the pack.

If you were already in the market for say Just Cause 2 or Fallout 3 GOTY Edition the $40 price points are excellent buys, but in reality I am looking for bargains. All games eventually fall to forty dollars in a reasonable time period. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the sale games currently priced at $40 dollars or higher kept that price point after this sale. There were also couple of out and out landmines in the new games section.

For example having FIFA World Cup 2010 priced at $40 is a bit nuts. The World Cup is over and that title has future resident of the bargain bin written all over it. Pure for $20 also makes little sense since one can buy a promotional two disk set of Pure and Lego Batman for ten dollars next door in the used section.

And as always a bad game is never a bargain (cough Dark Void cough)

I ended up with Assassins Creed 2 for $20 (I already owned Mass Effect 2) and Divinity 2: Ego Draconis for $25 (which is only five dollars off admittedly, but what can I say I am a sucker for open world RPG's). My gut unfortunately tells me that the next Best Buy Top Secret $10 dollar sale will feature, along with the Command And Conquer and survival horror, 40 copies of Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. So I am two games in and already I have buyers remorse. Yeah that is par for the course in these sales.


USED GAMES


No Brainers...

Perfect Dark Zero for $2.50
Gears of War for $5
Conan for $5
Assassin's Creed for $6.50
Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda for $4


With used games price matters. A game that is a hell no at $60 becomes an attractive buy at $2.50. Perfect Dark Zero is a fine example of this. It is dated, flawed and the online is presumably non-existent but for $2.50 its well worth picking up. (The most important criteria of any game is that it is worth your time to play and overall Perfect Dark Zero certainly is).

Gears of War for $5 is a great bargain for those who never got around to buying it and those of us whose disk mysteriously got scratched and need a replacement.

I would have a hard time defending a Conan game purchase at $40, but I have no worries promoting the hack and slash joy at $5.

Assassin's Creed may not be as good as it's sequel, but at $6.50 it is another Great example of an outright steal for those that don't currently own one.

Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda were included as in game discs in Xbox360s sold in a bundle promotion. As a result the market is flooded with these and you can pick both games for a total of $4. Surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda may very well end up being the stronger game of the two. Again, at two dollars each, this purchase is a no brainier.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale C


Benchwarmers I picked up

Lost Odyssey for $12.50
Army of Two for $7.50
Dark Sector for $3.50
Viking Battle for Askard for $6.50
Lego Batman/Pure for $10
Frontlines Fuel of War for $5


Lost Odyssey is considered by some to be the best JPRG on this generation of consoles (And if that isn't damning with faint praise I don't know what is. It is like being voted best Dynasty Warriors spin-off.) Digressions aside, it is a meaty game on four disks with a novel for a instruction booklet. If you like RPG's (in particular JRPG's) it is a bargain at this price.

Army of Two is a silly co-op action game. And for $7.50 I don't mind a little silliness (even if I do think that co-op is the devil's work.)

Dark Sector is also a silly action game. It got some lambasting when it first came out, but all reviews agreed decapitating foes with a three bladed boomerang never got old. At $3.50 I certainly can think of worse ways to occupy my time.

Viking Battle for Askard is basically Conan but with Vikings instead of Barbarians., Mixed reviews keep it from the No Brainer category (observant readers will note that Conan has the same Metacritic score a yet it managed to land in the No-Brainer catagory... What can I say I am a Conan fan.)

Lego Batman is the best received Lego game behind Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy and the new Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4. Lego Star Wars isn't on sale however and Harry Potter is still $50. In addition one receives Pure which got very good reviews and will fill that extreme sports void in my collection. (Of course I have an extreme sports void in my collection because I really don't care for those games. So we shall see how this works out.) Think of it as Batman Arkham Asylum for kids. (Heck it has the same plot... come to think of it most Batman games, comics and movies have the same plot.)


Frontlines Fuel of War is a pure flier for me. I picked it up for the single player action since the multi-player, one can assume at this late date, is dead as a doornail. The reviews were decent and the single player campaign got some praise. Truth told, I have no idea how I ended up with this instead of perhaps one of the Tom Clancy games.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale E


Benchwarmers Still Sitting There.

Condemned for $4
Rockstar Games Table Tennis for $2.50
Forza Motor Sports 2 for $2.50
NCAA Football 2008 for $2.50



I personally didn't care for the Condemed games. But I recognize when a game is good and for some unknown reason my personal preference blinds me to a bargain. So for $4 the first Condemned is a good bargain for survival horror and action fans looking forward to getting hopelessly lost while impotently fending of zombies with a pipe. (Did I mention I really didn't like Condemned)

I don't particularity want a Ping Pong game either; but if I did, $2.50 cents for Rockstar Games Table Tennis seems to be the correct price point.

The brilliant Forza Motor Sports 3 may be an improvement on its predecessor but seriously an giant Gran Turismo style game for $2.50? Forza Motor Sports 2 may be the best buy of the entire sale assuming you don't already own 3 and are not looking to pick it up anytime soon.

The same philosophy also strikes with NCAA Football 2009 at $4. If you just want a football game, and are not worried about online community, you certainly would have a hard time finding a better deal.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale D


The rest of the pack.


There are actually plenty of used games that I simply am not familiar enough with yet to put on my buy list. Ninja Gaiden 2, Turok, and Timeshift are all examples of this. There were also some used games that simply fell through the cracks, such as Soul Caliber 4 and Rainbow Six Vegas. Anytime you restrict yourself, as I did, to 10 games at $100 you will leave some good games behind.

I also managed to once again not buy Quantum of Solace. I have watched that game make a long and somewhat humorous journey from $60 in the wrapper to a price of $7.50 used. My local Costco for example still has the exact same thirty copies of the game it possessed in late 2008 and each now dinged and dusty box has ever more desperate price tags as it continues to be marked down. I said I would wait till it was five bucks when it initially was released and I am sticking with those guns.

I also avoid buying Two Worlds as well. Though the siren call of the open world RPG was very strong at $2.50, I remembered my mantra: a bad game is never a bargain.


Gamestop Super Saver Sale H


A Few Words About Shopping At Gamestop


First of don't buy used games online and don't shop on Friday evenings. Game stores are very busy after gamers get their paycheck and the chance of you walking out with a mistake are much higher.

My second rule is when you buy a new game at Gamestop is to demand a factory sealed version. Gamestop has an annoying habit of selling pre-opened new games and that is a recipe for problems. I actually prefer to buy my new games at Best Buy for this very reason.


Finally always get a rulebook and the original box. You are paying good money for a used game there is no reason to accept anything less. If your local Gamestop doesn't have a your used game in that condition simply choose not to buy it that afternoon.


Rulebooks in particular are sticking point. While for many games they may seem spurious, it amazes me that people would buy a copy of say Lost Odyssey without the sixty page tome that is included. Anyone who has rented games on a regular basis has certainly come across a time when a rule book would have come in handy. Even in pure action games it is useful if only to have the controller set-up in front of you so you can learn that L3 allows you to breathe fire or some such nonsense.

Demand clean game disks. The first copy of Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda I was given looked like it was last used as a cat toy. The second copy was pristine to the point I doubt it ever was opened. And while I can excuse some things because they were busy, both Gamestops had an annoying habit of giving me different boxes sans rules on my purchase. It was if they had a game of thimblerig going on back there. So post purchase I had to stand there at the counter saying in a friendly but firm voice can I have the rule book for Dark Sector please, you know the one that was in the box I just gave you?


Gamestop Super Saver Sale



Final Verdict



Despite spending $25 on Divinity 2: Ego Draconis and $20 on Assassins Creed 2 my final take was 14 games at about $100. Prices below also reflect the Edge card discount which I highly recommend getting.For one thing it does have a nice magazine subscription attached (Game Informer) to it and, unlike many discount cards, it will pay for itself if you buy used games.


Conan -- $3.99
Army of Two -- $5.99
Dark Sector -- $2.79
Lost Odyssey -- $9.99
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis -- $24.99
Assassin's Creed 2 -- $19.99
Viking Battle for Asgard -- $5.19
Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda -- $3.19
Frontline Fuel of War -- $3.99
Lego batman/ Pure -- $7.99
Gears of War -- $3.99
Assassin's Creed -- $5.19

Total Cost -- $97.28
Total number of games -- 12 boxes 14 games.



Well I hope that was helpful or at the very least a good read. I am headed back to Gamestop today... no not to exchange Divinity 2 with Bayonetta, I stand by that = wrongheaded decision. No I am headed back because they somehow gave me a Perfect Dark Zero rulebook instead of a Dark Sector rulebook, even though I handed them a Dark Sector box with the Dark Sector rule book conveniently located inside. Oh and Viking Battle for Asgard refused to work. Which brings me to one last rule. Test all you purchases when you get home . Clean looking used games can be deceiving.



Happy Hunting.



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Gamestop Super Saver Sale K

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deal of the Week: South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play Review


South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!: Xbox Live Arcade: Developer: Doublesix

South Park games have a long and ugly history. South Park Rally , South Park: Chef's Luv Shack and the titular South Park all poisoned the well on the Nintendo 64. (Gamespot gave them scores of 2.6, 3.9, and 5.8 respectively.) So one can see, even by the standards of licensed games for the N64, South Park reached its own particular level of abominable game play.


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Possibly because of this dubious history, it has been a fairly long time since the South Park license appeared on the consoles. One rightfully wonders what Trey Parker and Matt Stone have in store for us after all this time. Did they license Rockstar's RAGE game engine to create GTA IV in the town of South Park? Did they go the Heavy Rain route, where you play as four separate characters, solving the mystery of who killed Kenny? Or did they finally fulfill every childhood fantasy by filling the gap in the long neglected tower defense co-op tradition?


South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play E


Well as you might have gathered from the title, it was the latter game style they choose after nine long years in the gaming wilderness. As South Park's very own Darryl Weathers might say W.T.F.?

South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play D

Well it so happens I do like South Park and I like Tower Defense games (if my hard drive is any indication), and yet I have to admit trepidation. So is this game a perfect fit? Well let me answer that in the old fashioned game we call The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.


South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play A


THE GOOD:

Well for starters it definitely could have been worse. This isn't shovelware. There are 15 playable characters all with separate special abilities (16 with a promotional code), 15 types of enemies all with special vulnerabilities, Bosses, different towers, you name it. The game captures the look of South Park perfectly down to Eric Cartman's little wobble when he walks.


THE BAD:

While the game captures the look of the show it certainly doesn't capture the feel of the show. Catchphrases are repeated endlessly; and since they are out of context they are barely funny the first time they are used. Ginger kids and Mongolians might be funny enemies in the context of an episode, but do nothing here. One would have hoped the South Park team would have taken their crude wit towards videogame conventions (As many of the Simpson's games did a generation ago), but alas all they provide is series of fuzzy unlockable clips and unfunny gags.

South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play B


THE UGLY:

This is not a terribly good tower defense game. Actually as a one player tower defense game it is basically broken. Tower defense games are a little like Breakout. They are the kind of games you play to relax when no-one else is around. Now let us say that somebody came out with four player Breakout co-op. Yes that does sound stupid as all get out, but follow along with me.

Now in four player Breakout you have four colored paddles and four colored balls. (And much like my idea for a Syfy movie where the shark has bear claws, I will hunt anyone down who actually makes this.) Now imagine that the one player version of the game still had the four colored paddles and four colored balls and made you switch between paddles to play... yeah that would get ugly real quick.

And South Park Let's Go Defense Tower does get ugly quick. Unlike other co-op games, such as Left 4 Dead, the computer does not take over the role of the other three characters in solo play. In addition, unlike say Borderlands, there is no option to just play with just one character. As a result you have to spend an inordinate amount of time switching between characters in single player. If you have even a passing affinity with Tower Defense games, you will know that there is enough running around as it is, with the upgrading of towers, putting up walls, excreta. Throwing four player controlled characters into the mix makes early levels difficult and later levels impossible.

The idea that four friends would pick a tower defense game over say Left 4 Dead, Borderlands or Hungry Hungry Hippos strains credulity. This is simply a party game with one rather difficult party. On that note if you and your friends are tower defense fanatics, South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play provides the first (and God willing only) co-op tower defense game experience.


My Score: not even a dollar unless you are hankering for four player tower defense than I say go for it at $5



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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Videogame Round-up 7/14/2010 Deathsmiles revealed...

Well I finished my adventures on the Island of Panua. Yes story mode complete in a mere 30 hours. Did I reach one hundred percent completion you ask? Would you believe 22.8%...

I will have a complete review of Just Cause 2 later in the week, but in the meanwhile a helpful hint it is a must buy and in the running for game of the year. Another game that I completed was Aquarium HD which is a fish feeding simulator and the best use of Microsoft points since I bought my avatar a pair of white slacks. (this would be sarcasm though I admit the pants do look nice.) Needless to say Aquarium HD is not in the running for game of the year.

Just Cause A

A correction on Monday's Videogame Roundup, Magic the Gathering is not on the Deal of the Week list after all. Another correction, is that it isn't Lady Gaga's Poker Face that went on sale as a downloadable tune but the Eric Cartman version from South Park... which honestly sounds like a better listen.

In fact Monday's post was full of misinformation. I still have Crackdown 2 at a rent or $10 wait for the bargain bin recommendation and have no plans for another preview. In addition Castlevania for Dummies as of 11:47 EST has not been released on XBOX Live Arcade as part of a very special start of the Summer of staying home and sitting on your ass promotion. I did however find out what a 'Deathsmiles' was.

Deathsmiles A

Before I reveal my heavily researched top secret Deathsmiles information below, let me give a proper preview of this week's game reviews, previews and features that are on tap.

Features
"When demos go bad a story of Too Human, Afro Samurai and Earthworm Jim HD."

"How not to release your game: a story about Alan Wake, Blurs and Split Second's May sales."

XBOX

Just Cause 2
NCAA Football 2011
Deathsmiles
N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights
Naughty Bear
Singularity
Sniper: Ghost Warrior
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

Xbox Live Arcade

Deadliest Warrior the game
Deathspank (not to be confused with Deathsmile)
Ancients of Ooga



Xbox Live Indie Games

Aquarium HD
Bombs Away
Sleepwalker
UFO Commando
Decay 2
7strains The Infection
Lumi
Comet!
MusicNow!
Jurassic


Okay now that you have digested all that; Deathsmiles is a 2D side scrolling shooter featuring a Japanese “Gothic Lolita character design". In other words it is a very Japanese game. Deathsmiles is also a straight arcade port from a few years ago and as a result not in HD. Expect lots of colorful sprites, endless waves of bullets and fan service upskirt shots. Or you could just play Aegis Wing while watching Ikki Tousen on a separate set. BTW chances of me accidentally interchanging Deathsmiles and Deathspank in my commentary are running about one hundred percent. And yes those are actual cosplay Deathsmiles characters below.


Deathsmiles B

Eurogamer.net Podcast #26 is out and it is an interesting listen. Yes the sound quality on the Eurogamer podcasts is still pretty spotty, yes it often sounds like the B-roll for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is playing in the background (For some reason there are a lot of seagulls and England doesn't have windows that block sound) and yes they use those cute foreign terms and references. Their very special guest this week was Ignition Entertainment's Jamie Firth to talk about Blacklight: Tango Down. Since Eurogamer gave that game almost a worse thrashing than
I did I do admit I was disappointed in the lack of a Real Housewives of New Jersey weave pulling fisticuffs. Instead they talked about the poor sales for certain games that were stupid enough to come out around Red Dead Redemption's release date as well as the upcoming Dragon Age 2 (YAY!). All in all a good listen this week.

A special note: Mr. Firth wisely points out that as European producer he had nothing to do with the actual game Blacklight. (The old it's all the Americans fault gambit). The Eurogamer podcast does make a nice companion piece to my first feature this week "How not to release your game: a story about Alan Wake, Blur and Split Second's May sales."






G4's feedback above features special guest Geoffrey Zatkin who's scientific study proves that game reviewers matter. Expect Zatkin's research to be trumpeted by the review crew till the sun turns into a white dwarf and the earth becomes frozen lifeless hulk. Between the self congratulatory coverage the panel also touches on the sales numbers from May and one of my favorite topics comes up, the importance of demos. Which leads into my second article planned for this week "When demos go bad a story of Too Human, Afro Samurai and Earthworm Jim HD."


On Metacritic this week NCAA Football 2011 has gotten some good notices, along with the usual is it worth buying if you already own NCAA Football 2010 hand wringing. I will have a full report soon.

Crackdown 2, Blacklight: Tango Down and Ancients of Ooga continue to take a light pummeling from critics. Gamers that plunged their fifteen bucks into Blacklight seem to be taking it pretty hard... while reviewers of Crackdown 2 strangely enough kind of wish it had been a fifteen dollar DLC itself. Ancients of Ooga seems to suffer from being too nice and too easy. (It is an awfully good looking and charming game.)

Ancients of Ooga A


Well as you can see from that giant list above we have our work cut out for us this next week. Will all those reviews, previews and articles get done in the next seven days? Nope... but we should take a good chunk of them out and try to keep it witty and informative. Meanwhile back here at headquarters we are looking forward to starting up Crackdown. (No not Crackdown 2, Crackdown... lets just say I am running a tad behind on my games)


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