Feb
09

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Mercenaries 2 is simply about blowing shit up, end of story. For anyone who’s played the first game, should come expecting the same type of game, just on steroids. The playground of destruction your dropped in is almost completely destructible, and it’s your job to finish your mission in anyway you see fit. From air strikes, to  tactical nuclear weapons, to just kicking down the door and kicking ass with an M16, World in Frames is a fantastic set piece for one of the greatest action game of this generation. 

So what can be wrong about a game that’s primary focus is giant explosions, and where rockets are ubiquitous? Well, Mercenaries 2 simply lacks polish, and it absolutely destroys what could have been an achievement in its genre. The AI is dumber than dirt, and the game just has a stigma to where every five minutes you question an aspect of the game, and wonder why it’s the way it is. For example, fire hydrates are more deadly to a tank than a charge of C4. Also, while cruising down the bright would of Venezuela you’ll see the same six-or-so cars repeated over, and over. Some times you’ll witness a traffic jam, but all the vehicles stuck are the same gray car driven by the same nonwhite guy. Things like that, are just lazy and don’t meet the standards of this generation.

Mercenaries 2 is a huge game with loads of stuff to keep you busy, some missions are pointless, and some offer something actually cool to do, like attack a castle full of rifle friendly pirates, and sink it to the depths of the ocean. Luckily, the co-op experience is a blast rivaling that of Crackdown‘s. This proves that blowing things up with a friend will always overpower the stench of a low-quality game. The co-op is drop in, drop out and uses the hosts game world to play around in. While the difficulty doesn’t scale to compensate for an additional player, it doesn’t matter. If Pandemic didn’t bother to incorporate some basic AI beyond the standards of the N64 classic Goldeneye, then if co-op scaled it would just add cheap explosions, and more enemies most likely. Did I mention it’s impossible to die because you control a super hero with one-hit melee kills, and can survive an artillery strike with 5 points of health? 

This sequel to an unexpected surprise is a perfect example of a depressing game that under six feet of dirt lies a game that isn’t an unplayable poor excuse for a current generation game. Co-op is a cheap thrill that I highly suggest you and a buddy rent together for a weekend, but beyond that, Mercenaries 2: World in the Toilet has no buisness taking money from your wallet, until you local Gamestop has it in the bargain bin.

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

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If faced against a psychopathic meth addict would you be willing to beat him down with a riped off toilet seat, or smash his face into a meat grinder? If you answered yes, then you might be prepared to drop down in Monolith’s latest horror entry, Condemned 2: Bloodshot. The sequel to Sega’s Xbox 360 launch title returns to the gritty Metro City, and engages players on a thrill ride jam-packed with the intense horror, and melee combat that made Criminal Origins such a standout. 

Bloodshot picks up several months after the events of the first game, and the city has seen better days to say the least. Special agent Ethan Thomas, returns as our protagonist, but he’s not the same clean-cut nice FBI agent we became friends with back in 2005. In result to the events in Criminal Origins, Mr. Thomas is in bad shape after leaving his job at the SCU. Now and alcoholic, Thomas spends his time wondering through bars, and battling demons both imaginary, and real. Without intention, Ethan Thomas is dragged back into the SCU to uncover the force chock holding the chaotic Metro City. 

Purposely obtuse and disorient like its predecessor, Bloodshot’s gritty atmosphere is its greatest strength and truly evolves both the series and genre. If you’ve played the first Condemned, then the environments will be somewhat familiar, yet still as spooky as ever. You’ll quickly discover Metro City is a nasty place, trash is everywhere, is seemingly every object in site is broken and rusted. Traversing you from repugnant back streets, to dark abandon apartments, to a disturbing burned down doll factory, Bloodshot naturally sets you in horrific environments built for scares. While obviously taken from 80’s horror movies, Condemned 2 throws frights that interlace perfectly in its context. I found myself searching through a medicine cabinet, then closed it to see the reflection of an axe wielding enemy behind me, just one of many “scream like a six year old girl” moments which keeps the momentum moving. 

Like Criminal Origins, Bloodshot’s combat revolves around melee. Rather than have obvious weapons laying around, Condemned 2 challenges you to find them yourself. This includes ripping steam pipes off walls, breaking a bed apart for a chunk of wood, or even using the environment itself to kill your merciless foes. If pulverizing a psycho with a wrench doesn’t tickle your fancy, then why not smash his face into a T.V.? Your options for brutal fatalities are what really separates combat from Criminal Origins, and this sequel. If your a squeamish person who couldn’t sit through a gory movie, then combat in this game is not for you, its brutal, and not for the kiddies to see. Their’s a specific scene that forces you to kill a psychotic woman by smashing her skull in a crushing machine. Rated M for Mature. 

Multiplayer does exist in Bloodshot, but it’s just a distraction and doesn’t belong in this type of game whatsoever. The multiplayer is just deathmatch variants, and various forms of objective team battles. This failed attempt at multiplayer proves melee combat doesn’t work in the context of player v.s. player environments. 

The single player game of Condemned 2 shines as the pinnacle of videogame horror, and contains some of the richest atmosphere ever seen. It’s a hell of a time that any Eli Roth fan would hail as a triumph. With this said, if your stomach can handle excessive amounts of violence and gore, pick up a copy of Condemned 2: Bloodshot. 

 

-Steven Beynon

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

 

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Mario Galaxy aside, Nintendo doesn’t seem willing to reinvent their blockbuster brands, but merely remaking them for the current generation. Between hit titles such as Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Prime 3, and so on, fans of these franchises got high quality titles, but also got exactly what they were expecting. Mario Kart is no different in any such way, its a high quality kart racer, but is also a strictly average take on the Mario Kart franchise. This game is by no means a bad game, but it leaves much to be desired, it delivers just about everything you’d expect from a Mario Kart game, but thats the key problem.

There’s just a subtle feel about the game that feels off. It’s pretty obvious this iteration of Mario Kart is built for first timers and falling into Nintendo’s casual campaign as they sought to dumb down the driving mechanics to even out the playing field among the hardcore, and Nintendo’s new focused audience. Bundled with the game is a wheel peripheral, but a lot like the Wii Zapper this is a mere shell to hold your Wii Mote. Sure, non-gamers and perhaps even hardcore Mario Kart fanatics will get a kick out of using the wheel for awhile, but its the obvious inferior control option. It’s solidly built, and feels comfortable, but your not going to use it if you want to play a serious game. It seems like Nintendo just gave the wheel option so everyone can play equally as bad together. Alike Brawl this game does offer an option for a Gamecube controller, and classic controller use which are the more accurate way to play. 

 

Mario Kart Wii contains both 16 new courses to race through, and 16 retro tracks. While nostalgia does play a role in enjoying the retro revivals, the old tracks aren’t well balanced for the game’s newly introduced trick feature, or many of the new items that have been placed since the game the track originally appeared in. Weird enough a lot of the old courses seem second tier, which leaves the belief in Nintendo thinking about implementing retro tracks in future Mario Karts. Most new tracks are brilliant, giving lots and lots of branching paths, and environmental hazards The majority of the new stages forces you to approach them differently and apply new techniques. With all this together it creates a really fun racing environment. This is really the one area the game excels and stands above and beyond its predecessors.

 

Expect to see your standard roster of characters from the Mario franchise. This is the area of the game that is perhaps the most embarrassing. Nintendo scrapped the bottom of the barrel, and half the characters of baby versions of all the other top tier characters. Baby Peach? This begs the question on why Nintendo doesn’t delve into any of their other franchises for racers, as Shane Bettenhausen said, Super Smash Kart anyone? 

 

What the game surprisingly succeeds at is online play, very possibly being Nintendo’s best online game thus far. Yes there are still friend codes, but you can play with strangers in a lag free environmental. Their’s a fun Mario Kart channel that sets up tournaments, and hopefully is a message that first part titles will get a fully featured channel in the future. While Mario Kart was online in nits DS iteration, it’s just really exciting to see a fully functional Nintendo online game for a console.

Mario Kart Wii is in no way a bad game, but is a part of the best kart racing series and is one of the least thrilling of its own franchise. If your on the fence about picking this game up, just think about if you just want more of the same Mario Kart or not. Online play, and beautiful tracks do raise its status beyond mediocre, but this safe incarnation of current generation Mario Kart only wins the bronze.

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

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Previously known as Unreal Tournament 2007, Unreal Tournament 3 has been available on both the Playstation 3 and PC for several months now, and after a long delay due to timed exclusivity for the PS3 version, 360 owners finally get to delve into this generations old school tournament style twitch shooter. If you’ve played UT2K4 on the PC or Unreal Championship from the original Xbox then you probably have a good idea on what you’ll be getting into. The game is still structured as an arena Deathmatch-CTF battleground where you’ll be spending a lot of your time fragging, and doing an equal amount of time blowing up. 

Unreal Tournament probably shouldn’t feel as new and exciting as it does. When you think about it, UT 3 does very little change in the Unreal universe. The game is relatively the same as past iterations of the franchise, its still the multiplayer frag fast reminiscent of Quake. With most multiplayer centric shooters slowing things down and becoming more militaristic and realistic Unreal feels like a breath of fresh air, which is hard to say about most old-school style games thus Unreal 3 contains its own charm, an somewhat of a nostalgic feel. 

The UT games have never been about the campaign, so anyone approaching any Unreal game expecting the singleplayer to be worth a damn would be sadly mistaken. The tradition continues in this game with the campaign trickling down to bot matches separated by poorly written cutscenes. The Unreal universe is in trouble, first it was a tournament, but now its real! Respawners on the battlefield have changed how war is fought (but I thought war never changes!?). Deathmatches are still just a frag count, but how does Capture the Flag play into a serious war? Well in order to take out the enemy’s respawners you have to obtain their Field Lattice Generator, or FLAGS, and bring it back to your own base-This is me rolling my eyes. Give me a break. The story doesn’t need much explanation, bad guys try to kill good guys, your bulky good guy (Epics awesome at rendering big guys in huge body armor), play about 50 bot matches, defeat bad guys. On the plus the campaign is playable with four people, and its a good source for achievement points. 

Epic is infamous with throwing tons of maps into their games out of the box, and UT3 is no exception. UT3 contains dozens of maps, all of course are built for specific multiplayer game modes. There are a healthy variety of maps for all the game modes, and rightfully so. This way all the maps are balanced for their respective playing mode. All the maps are expertly designed, and fun to play in, and non of which are dull or bland, looking beautiful thanks to the games under the hood engine. Overall, UT3 contains some of the highest map quality you’ll see in a videogame this year with plenty of symmetrical, interesting level layouts for the objective-based modes, and a high variation of environments. 

Anyways, the games visuals are a standout, absolutely fantastic. Considering we’ve seen the Unreal tech in countless games, we finally see the damn game itself, and the engine performs as well as ever. You’ll instantly see the art style the game shares with its 3rd person counterpart Gears of War, but thats a good thing. The sound is pretty much similar to what you’ve herd in past Unreal games, the guns sound modernized but no one will find any surprises, the Flak cannon sounds like a Flak Cannon, the Rocket Launcher sound like, well, a Rocket Launcher. The only annoyance I’ve encountered is in single player, the bots are very chatty, do I really need to know if my guys about to score from three different bots at once? Just return the damn flag! However, this annoyance isn’t present in multiplayer, and unless you love playing co-op, or your an achievement hunter just skip the campaign all together.

Anyone whose played Unreal will find no surprises in UT3’s arsenal. All the classic weapons are present, all with minor balancing tweaks. The shield gun has been replaced with the Impact Hammer, and your default weapon is a low powered pistol, which has actually holds its own compared to other pick up weapons. The Sniper Rifle is still good fun for headshots, the Redeemer is still the high powered Nuke which can take out half the map guaranteeing the opposing team crying out “cheap!”. The Flak Cannon’s secondary fire has become a little slower, and forcing you to be a bit more accurate, but nothing drastic. Even if the weapons are the same, that doesn’t mean they don’t kick major ass, and feel great. 

Unreal Tournament 3 is a very basic package, but that doesn’t mean UT3 doesn’t have if fair share of multiplayer madness and thrills. While playing UT3 its very obvious how multiplayer gaming has changed in the sense that these style of games just aren’t made anymore, and quiet possibly outdated by most counts. The only other game like this on the platform is Quake 4, and that wasn’t a very competent port. This is the reason why its impossible to not recommend UT3 to shooter fans, this game isn’t unique to gaming in general, but it’s unique to the 360 library, and console gaming altogether.

Unlike modern shooters like Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and so on, UT3 doesn’t have any perks or rewards to extensive play. Not seeing a little +10, or seeing a rank next to your gamertag wouldn’t mean anything last year. But this will probably be a turn off for some people if mere leaderboard rank doesn’t interest you. The Quake series moved from its roots into a Battlefield-like experience with its Quake Wars game, so this may very well indeed be the last true Unreal game. With its variety in modes, healthy amount of fantastically constructed maps, UT3 is one of the best multiplayer experiences you’ll have this year. If you can get over the lack of rewards, and go into this stoked for old-school action, then it will be impossible to be disappointed. Epic might use Gears of War as their flagship franchise, but it’s Unreal that structured their company and gave them their fame.

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

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Dragonball Z Burst Limit is the first Dragonball game to arrive to the current generation, and on its run here it seemed to of lost a lot of potential. If your a fan of the Japanese cartoon you may be disappointed by the way this game conveys its potentially epic story, and minimizes it to short bursts of cutscenes that pathetically introduce each fight which will immediately turn off anyone who isn’t a fan of the series. Not that Dragonball Z’s story arc is work of genius, but the games presentation on the narrative is just lazy. For series that’s all about filler, and pointless dialog (I’m looking at you Frieza saga) Burst Limit ignores all the backstory and focuses on the fighting itself, which makes me wonder what the point of the less than stellar cutscenes are. 

The story follows the bullet points of the Dragonball Z series, taking you to each of the shows important fights starting with the arrival of Raditz, and ending with the battle between Gohan and Cell. So don’t worry kids, no one has to deal with the Buu saga, although there’s a good chance a sequel will be dedicated to that. The story is just a major disappointment, and I wish it was more fleshed out, or at least the small bits available were better scripted. However, the game does contain unlockable alternate reality side stories, one for both Goku’s father Bardock, and the nefarious psychopathic Broly. While these seem like good distractions it was cool to see Bardock interact with Vegeta, and Goku. Broly’s on the other hand is a pure distraction, and proves he’s a worthless character.

Story aside, Burst Limit offers a decent fighting system. You wont find the depth that other fighters have, but rather an easy to learn button masher. Once you master dodging, and hitting Up and B to do an Ultimate Attack, you pretty much mastered the concept. This doesn’t mean the fighting is bad at all, in fact it’s good middle ground between a game like Tekken, and Smash Bros. One of the more interesting features is the fatigue meter. In theory the more you fight, and more you utilize special Ki moves, the higher the gauge would fill, and you would slowly become weaker and more open to attacks from your foe. While this is how it should work, it doesn’t play enough of a role that effects the combat. The fatigue meter pokes an interesting possibility I look forward to a sequel developing. 

While Burst Limit has multiple issues, the worst of all are the visuals, and sound. When I say visuals, I don’t mean graphics, the game itself looks fantastic. Every character is rendered beautifully, all the environments look fantastic, all that is fine. The atrocious quality in the cosmetic department is the non-playable animations, so basically cutscenes. Characters on screen look stiff and feature no personality, nor does it appear as if DIMPS bothered to do motion capture during the development of this game. It’s a shame such well drawn characters suffer in “story” scenes, and recycled animations. Joining motion capture, American music is also MIA, which I fail to understand. DBZ doesn’t have any fantastic score, but does feature its own distinct music, and the lack of it in the game will turn off many hardcore fans. But those fans will favor the cheesy under modulated music someone created in Soundtrack Pro instead. 

The golden goose Burst Limit does offer is the first ever online play in a Dragonball game, however the online play is very basic. The only thing you can really do is hook up with another player and fight however many rounds the host chooses. It would have been nice to have tournaments or possibly some other modes, but it’s a relief that Dragonball Z fans can finally duke it out. A major downside to the online is the abounding amount of lag plaguing the game, while this is a possible future patch nothing has yet to be announced. 

It’s a shame that the overall product of Dragonball Z: Burst Limit is a disappointment. In fact the long roster list that the series is known for isn’t even present. Players will find the major characters of the series such as Goku, Vegeta, Cell, Frieza, but 24 characters, and only a handful of uninteresting levels is what really pulls this game down considering previous entries to the series had nearly all the characters in the series. The lack of many fighters would be excused if their fighting styles were more distinct, however, with variables of speed aside all the DBZ characters fight exactly the same. 

Rabid fans will buy anything involved with their favorite series, and its unfortunate Dragonball Z has that fanbase. If you love Dragonball Z so much you secretly do kamehamea waves in front of the mirror in the bathroom, then you’ll enjoy Burst Limit. Despite the new name, this is basically Budukai 4, and don’t be fooled by the idea of this being the first appearance of DBZ in the current generation of consoles. Rather your a huge fan or just enjoy the franchise, it would be hard to be not disappointed by Dragonball Z: Burst Limit. If the lack of innovation, and DIMPS crapping on this major anime doesn’t bother you, then you might be one of those people who are willing to pay for crap if it has the right name on it. 

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

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Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a game that’s virtually impossible to dislike for anyone who’s been around the block in the gaming world, or anyone who’s just a sucker for nostalgia. While Brawl is an obligatory player’s choice on the Nintendo side, gamers from all demographics will indubitably find charm in this Brawler.

Veterans of the Smash Bros. series will find no surprises on the game play side of Brawl. Like its predecessors, Brawl sticks to chaotic four player battle contentions, and simplistic two button fighting mechanics. Combining these two attributes creates a very accessible party game anyone can enjoy. While it may seem to be a minor issue, and a common dispute people have with the Smash Bros. series, it must be restated that after spending just a few hours with Brawl, you’ll find tiers of characters. Some characters like Meta Knight are obviously over powered, and since this isn’t a serious fighting game that’s an aimless statement. However, it’s common knowledge that Smash Bros. is a common figure in competitive gaming.

Anyone who picks up a Gamecube controller (controller of choice) for the first time, will find no difficulty in learning the basic gameplay formula of the two button combat, and trying your best not to fall of the edge. More time will be spent training yourself to cope with the chaotic action, and depict where your character is on screen, while managing to fight off three other guys, also successfully dodging at the same time. 

Long term fans of the series will be in awe over this iteration’s character roster. Your typical guys from the Nintendoverse are here, Mario, Pikachu, Link, Samus, Fox, and so on. But characters like Diddy Kong, and Wario finally make it to the fight. While Nintendo faboyism will smile at any roster with these classical gaming icons, 3rd party characters like Sonic and Snake enter the fray, adding to the astonishing thirty-plus roster. 

Playable characters almost seem secondary considering all the arenas you’ll be unlocking throughout playing. Some arenas are straightforward typical Smash Bros. environments, but some others are totally rad. Stages, such as the Metal Gear Solid arena will take you to Shadow Moses Island, the beginning area of the Playstation classic, or Twin Snakes since we’re talking Nintendo here. The PictoChat level is crazy, because while you’re fighting, the level is constantly being redrawn. The WarioWare stage is the most chaotic of the bunch, as it occasional breaks into WarioWare-esque mini games, and failing to do so results in some minor harm to your health, adding to the overall chaos, and fun. 

With all these playable characters, and stages, comes with a soundtrack that would make Tommy Tallarico cheer as a triumph. Fans are served with audio on a platter, with musical scores both new, and old, covering all the characters in the game. 

To the excitement of the entire world, Smash Bros. will finally be playable online to play with strangers, and friends who share a long-ass code. To much surprise the online works fine, but feels empty. The lack of a voice chat option really hinders the experience, and really takes away from the Smash experience, which is a collection of dudes in a room yelling, swearing, and laughing. Even if Brawl had a more constructed online, and voice chat, I don’t believe it could duplicate the experience of the local multiplayer. Gather your friends, order some pizza, crank out the unhealthy energy drinks, and Brawl until the sun rises. That’s where Super Smash Bros. Brawl shines the brightest. 

In addition to regular fighting, and multiplayer madness Brawl also has an adventure mode that is the personification of nostalgia, the Subspace Emissary. In reality, the Emissary is just a side scroller that has a co-op option. Those who aren’t familiar with the Nintendo family, or simply don’t hold sentimentality towards the 1st party franchisees will find little enjoyment here, but those who love the characters will find plenty of novelty in the Emissary. Some levels feel tacky, and trivial, but seeing Fox and Diddy Kong team up against a giant Pokemon is awesome, not to mention uncovering R.O.B. the robot to be a villain. After twenty years, who knew!? It seems the game play in this mode was an afterthought, and the true purpose was to provide players with awesome cut scenes with unvoiced (thank God) Nintendo icons interact with each other, and fight against a common enemy. 

Recommending Brawl comes down to three simple questions. One of course would be, do you like videogames? No, Brawl isn’t to that degree, but if you’re a fan of Nintendo novelty, and can appreciate Nintendo’s rich history, a Brawl purchase is a no-brainer. If you have the ability to gather together a good set of buddies, and you never sold those Gamcube controllers, Brawl is a game that should be in every Wii owner’s library.

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

 

 

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Ninja Gaiden II is an oddball, the game blends aspects that make it both a standout, and a less than great title. As fans of any previous Ninja Gaiden adventures would come to expect, you return to the role of ninja master Ryu Hayabusa rolling around the world hacking up evil demons, nefarious nameless ninjas, and random gigantic monsters. Fans can also expect that Team Ninja kept one thing in mind while developing Ninja Gaiden II, and that’s the combat. While chopping off enemy’s arms and legs prove to be entertaining, the brutal combat never really evolves from the game’s first stage. The game does offer a wide variety in foes, werewolves, ninjas, dogs with knives, but most of these minions die the same way, and while they typically appear to fight you in a different manner, you predominately go about killing them the same way you would any other beast. Enemy’s can mostly be broken down into three types, ranged, toe-to-toe, and the boss battle which we’ll talk about later. 
This leads me to my next topic, and thats that your foes (forget that) every character in this game is crazy, and sometimes, if not all the time, a major turn off. What I mean by that is every character in this mature bloody tale feels ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon. This includes your antagonist, minions, and most embarrassingly, the bosses. For example, at the end of chapter seven their’s a boss fight against a giant turtle with a beard, that shoots fireballs at you. While it’s perfectly ok for a game to have an over the top Saturday morning-like character style, but Ninja Gaiden II presents itself as a mature gore-fest and immature art design really sticks out. Remember, dogs with knives. 

What really holds Ninja Gaiden back from being great is its horrendous level design. Well, maybe horrendous isn’t the correct vocabulary to utilize, but it seems as though the level designers haven’t worked on a game thats released since 1998. You’ll encounter the classic level barriers such as the doorway to the next area is locked, oh wait, you defeated all the enemy’s in this area, alright the door magically unlocked! Unlike the ridicules character work, the level design is just lazy linear throwaways. In a game that seems to be all about arena style battles, Team Ninja could have at least given us interesting or attractive environments. Poor lighting, boring areas to fight in, and a lack of environmental interaction hinders Ninja Gaiden II’s artistic side a thumbs down. 

While the artistic side of the Ninja Gaiden coin is rusted, few will care because players will come and stay for delicious combat. Clashing steel with your mighty foes is as flashy as ever, and pulling off stylish moves is as easy as 1, 2, 3, or at least X, X, Y. The fighting mechanics are incredibly easy to pick up, making Ninja Gaiden II more accessible to a wide audience, it’s just a matter of how quick your figures are sometimes. In fact, on the medium difficulty the combats a bit to easy compared to the original. The first nine levels or so area cake walk, I didn’t even worry about blocking the first half of the game. The difficulty does progress, but in less than a dramatic fashion then you would expect.

The difficult segments are the most depressing aspect of the game. This isn’t because it will cause your favorite controller to be thrown out the window (well, maybe) but when the game is kicking your ass in true Ninja Gaiden fashion, it’s not because of the sharp AI, but the game just becomes a cheap joke. Enemies and bosses alike will spam cheap moves, and unleash unblockable attacks. As Ryu, you too can be cheap and spam such attacks as the almighty Ultimate Technique which can pretty much be your fail safe plan if your in a jam. Between button mashing, your Ultimate Technique, and Ninpo spells, no minions will give you much problem if you can tame the game’s horrendous camera, which can pretty much serve as a game-long boss itself considering how many times you’ll die because of it. This time I utilized the correct vocabulary. 

Keep in mind Ninja Gaiden II isn’t a bad game, but it posses many negative aspects that are however, mostly outweighed by its positives. That goes to show how powerful the combat is considering its the only redeeming quality about the game, and has so much negativity going against it. With the bad camera, and level design a side this sequel has failed to evolve from its predecessor, and it leaves me the impression it was a rushed product. With that said everything about Ninja Gaiden II feels eight years old, menus, level design, presentation, and so on. However, there is little on the Xbox 360 library in the realm of character action beyond Devil May Cry 4, and this game is totally better than that. So fans of the series will find no surprise, but will return to an even bloodier battlefield comprised with many faults, but also some of the best action you’ll find on the platform. Change is a powerful thing, Team Ninja should keep that in mind for their next title. 

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

 

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Lego Batman is the fifth part in the popular Lego (insert popular LucasArt franchise here) series. With the lack of under the hood maintenance to the lego formula, this iteration comes with built-in problems that anyone who’s played previous games should expect. Lego StarWars was a success because it told a mature story in an innocent point of view, and Lego Indiana Jones was great because the films had so many iconic scenes to imitate. So what does Lego Batman do? Nothing really, it tells a generic original story, then expects you to care.

 

You’ll be doing the exact same stuff in this game, solving puzzles, punching baddies until they explode, and collected random stuff fr unlock ables. I’ve been playing games for a long time, and I found the puzzles to be a little more challenging then they probably should be. So the younger demographic may have some issues in several parts of this 30 level journey.

The decision on picking up Lego Batman revolves around two questions. Do you like Batman? Did you enjoy the past Lego games? If you checked yes to both of those questions, then It looks like a Batman purchase is in your near future. Otherwise, avoid. This isn’t a bad game, but it wont change your opinion on the Lego franchise. On a side note, the lack of online co-op in 2008 is inexcusable.

 

 

-Steven Beynon

Feb
09

 

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It’s impossible to try and describe the absolute chaos that is Smash TV is. One of my personal favorite arcade games from the past. Not only are you treated to an arcade faithful recreation of a fantastically frantic game, but you are also given online play to a great co-op game. While I experienced getting kicked off 2 times, I can’t say if it was my poor connection at the time or the game itself. Regardless, the time I spent blowing endless swarms of enemies away with a buddy was exhilarating.
The game is designed kinda like Blade Runner. You are set in a futuristic TV game show and have to survive countless enemies to win prizes. That’s about it. You play through only 3 levels of mazes with multiple paths and literally THOUSANDS (if not more) enemies. Once you think things are going to settle down and you’ll move onto the next stage, you’re bombarded again. The enemies are relentless and come in droves…And then there are the bosses. Gigantic things that have multiple forms and shoot the hell out of everything are exactly the kind of bosses I like to fight. Smash TV does not disappoint at all in this aspect.
Controls are simple, left joystick moves, right joystick shoots. Sound is what is expected from an arcade game from the 80’s, but it isn’t horrible. Replay value is huge since there are multiple paths in each level, not to mention the seemingly impossible achievement system to beat the levels without continuing…And online play only adds to the replay.

This is a solid game and a classic experience. While not as satisfying as the similar Geometry Wars, it’s hard to compare the games since they set out to achieve totally different gameplay styles. If you’re looking for lots of mayhem on your Live Arcade, this is the game for you.

Feb
09

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Quake Wars finally makes its way to consoles with a competent port. Though the conversion from PC to console certainly has its faults-such as slow reloading, lack of a grenade button, and abysmal weapon switching mechanics. This combined with a weak single player will turn off most console players. The singleplayer is basically a series of bot matches on each of the games twelve maps, although the bots are surprisingly intelligent. With a good team of people online the core game shines, but its a longshot that a community will be backing up this port, unlike it does with the PC iteration. Quake Wars is a heavy on team focused objectives, and unless you can gather up friends to play this your experience may not be so rewarding by playing with strangers who will most likely lack communication. 

Overall Quake Wars is a great game, but its a great game on the PC, a $60.00 price tag, and outdated visuals will more than likely force this game into the bargain bin. It’s a shame the game didn’t turn out like many people wanted it to, but if the large scale multiplayer is the itch that needs to be scratched, it seems like Battlefield is your only option.