Gears of War 2 Review: Well Whaddaya Know?

November 12, 2008

It’s that time of year again. Gamers are among a slew of high quality games as the holiday season approaches.  We’re infected with sequelitis around this time of the year; which is no different than last year, and the game at the top of most 360 owners must play list is the sequel to 2006’s epic release, “Gears of War 2.” The first “Gears” game really put the Xbox 360 on the map, and cemented its reputation as the console of choice for action/shooter games, but can the sequel follow it up with the same intensity?

“Gears of War 2″ brings us right back into the thick of things with Marcus Fenix and his trusted partner Dom. We quickly find out that the events from the first game hadn’t turned out quite like the humans had hoped, and they are now forced into a corner by the ever ferocious locusts. Humanity must now go on the offensive, if they don’t want to end up extinct. [Read more]

Legend of Kage 2 Review: Back From The Dead

November 11, 2008

“The Legend of Kage” - the original is remembered as a bad port of a great arcade game, which was pretty much the norm back in ’85. Who would have thought that game was going to ever see a sequel, much less a sequel 23 years later. Even by today’s lenient standards, releasing a sequel 23 years after the original is quite far from the norm, in fact, “Legend of Kage 2” might stand alone at the top of that category. Many things about the games industry have changed over the last two decades, but one thing has always remained true; there’s always room for another ninja game - especially a good one.

“The Legend of Kage 2″ starts off by offering two playable characters, Kage and Chihiro, each with their own story, which unfolds as they try to rescue the Princess Kirihime. There hasn’t been a story in a ninja game that has really pulled me in since the original “Ninja Gaiden,” and “Kage 2” is no different. While there are a few characters that get really fleshed out as the story unfolds, it’s your basic ninja-themed plot; save the princess, and/or save the village. I’m fine with that. I don’t play ninja games to become engrossed with the story – I play to be a ninja, which is something that “Kage” definitely lets me be. [Read more]

Resistance 2 Review: Bigger and Badder

November 11, 2008

Everything about “Resistance 2″ screams bigger and badder. The one thing that was missing from “R2″ was a device that makes the Chimera dance and boogie while we blew them to kingdom-come with my LARRK. In other words, this isn’t “Ratchet and Clank.”  With very complex foot soldiers’ AI and slow bosses, the end of chapter boss fights seemed a little laid back; perhaps “R&C” also has a One-Up in this arena as well, but it doesn’t mean that the game was a total loss.

Like its predecessor, “R2″ is presented with a very involved DTS soundtrack. A lot of the effort from the first game shows up in this sequel, particularly with regards to the audio work. Perhaps there is more emphasis on mechanical sound effects, but my sub-woofer enjoyed being tickled as I played this game from start to finish. The last game that surprised my sub-woofer was D3’s “darkSector” and before that, everything is a harsh motion-blur.

Not long after the prologue stage, returning frontman Nathan Hale is forced to make his way to the top portion of your base, all the while enduring the deep bass melody of a Kracken-style beast ramming its’ giant Chimera forehead into your headquarters. A lot more games need to take advantage of sound effects like this; rarely do we even find one that goes nice and deep into the L.F.E. (Low Frequency Effect) range. [Read more]

Tom Clancy’s EndWar Review: Voices Of The Battlefield

November 4, 2008

Once in a while, a game comes along that changes people minds’ about an entire genre of gaming, and, when that happens, it really speaks to the quality of the game. Few titles in the past have been so expertly crafted, with such a broad appeal, that they have actually convinced gamers to make the jump into unknown territory. In recent memory; “Advance Wars” showed gamers that turn-based strategy games were as addictive as they were complex, and “Guitar Hero” proved that rhythm games can be more than just dancing on a mat. Over the last few years, these games have not only defined their respective genres, but they’ve refined gaming as a whole. There’s now another title worthy of adding to that list, “Tom Clancy’s EndWar.”

“EndWar” takes the normally very complex, very niche genre of real-time strategy games and actually makes it accessible for your standard gamer – make that standard console games. Fortunately, Ubisoft Shanghai’s definition of accessible doesn’t mean dumbing the game down, or making it easier just to sell more copies. Their way of making the game accessible actually makes the concept, gameplay, and controls of the game less intimidating, while still retaining the crux of the RTS experience. In other words, “EndWar”’s appeal is unique enough that it should cross the line and appeal to gamers that have never before tried an RTS game, as well as longtime fans of the genre.

[Read more]

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia Review: A Whole New World

November 3, 2008

I’ll admit it. I was wrong. A few weeks ago when I previewed “Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia” I was concerned that Konami was stepping too far away from many of the elements that make a “Castlevania” game a “Castlevania” game. I cited some of the many changes, like the weapons system, female character, lack of a Belmont, and the fact that the game took place outside of Dracula’s castle. However, after spending many, many hours with the DS game, I will be the first one to admit that I was wrong. “Ecclesia” definitely steps away from many of the conventions that have made “Castlevania” titles so memorable over the years, but the changes and tweaks to the formula really pay off in the end, and Shanoa’s journey is worthy of comparison to anyone with the last name Belmont.

Pretty much everything about “Order of Ecclesia” is different from all of the “Castlevania” games that came before it. The weapons system, the magic items, the characters, the setting, even the goal of half the game (hint: it isn’t to take down Dracula) are vastly different than everything from “Simon’s Quest” to “Dawn of Sorrow.” [Read more]

Dead Space Review: The Final Frontier

November 3, 2008

What’s going on peoples? DaveDaGamer here giving you a little dirt on “Dead Space.”

First and foremost I want to say, EA glad you are back, we’ve dearly missed you. You may or not know this, but back in the last gen, EA put out an impressive list of quality titles that had graphics and ambiance that were far above and beyond what other studios offered. I’m not talking about the EA Sports brand either, there have been such gems as “The Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potters,” some of the “James Bond” games, “Medal of Honor,” et al.

But along the way they began to buy out a lot of smaller developers and started putting out crap. (”Catwoman” need I say more?) Fortunately, it looks like they might have gotten their act together with “Dead Space.” [Read more]

Saints Row 2 Review: Headin’ Back To The ‘Hood

October 29, 2008

“Saints Row 2.” The very words will automatically make the inevitable comparison to the sandbox genre’s father, “Grand Theft Auto.” It’s not really a surprise though, as both games deal with the criminal lifestyle, offer a wide variety of activities in a metropolitan environment, and involve hijacking vehicles.

Fortunately, the comparisons end there. “Grand Theft Auto 4” showed the world that Rockstar wants a Hollywood contract, whereas “Saints Row 2” shoved players down into an alternative universe filled with shit spraying trucks, chainsaw wielding cop impersonators, and purple ninjas. So how does this game pan out with all the lowbrow humor and novelty? Surprisingly enough, it’s still a good game beneath all the glitter.

The storyline starts off several years after the events of the first “Saints Row.” You were involved in a Yacht explosion in a political assassination attempt. But since you are equipped with plot armor, you survive the ordeal, and are in major surgery inside a prison. Your character in the first “Saints Row” was forced to be a guy, but you’re allowed to pick your gender in the sequel. After picking a gender, you’re off to get yourself out of prison and rebuild your gang to take over Stillwater while facing off against three other gangs. [Read more]

Prey The Stars Review: Get In My Belly!

October 27, 2008

What happens when you mix hungry monsters with a need to save the world? You somehow get Koei’s newest DS game, “Prey the Stars.” It’s one of the oddest, and most unique titles to grace the portable platform in a while. As an added bonus, it can also be a lot of fun, and a really satisfying experience, especially for anyone looking for a new multiplayer game to play with their friends.

“Prey the Stars” starts off with a rather wacky, slightly humorous, and, overall, pretty random story line where you, the aforementioned hungry monster, need to eat everything in sight to save the world. You play as one of four creatures looking to devour everything in their path, and not let anything get in their way as they do so. The single player campaign is full of goals and missions to complete as you make your way through the game, moving on to bigger and better meals along the way. As you advance you collect spirits which take you to new areas, and unlock power-up skins, and basically help you save the world.

The power-up skins that are unlocked as you complete each area not only allow for you to customize your character, but also help increase your monster’s ability in three different areas, all of which are vital to the gameplay. If you need a little help with biting power, spirit sucking, or element licking, the skins are the only way to go. Each monster has different strengths, and correctly using the unlockable skins can either compensate for your character’s deficiencies, or really play up your character’s strengths. [Read more]

Rock Band 2 Review: Keep On A Rockin’

October 23, 2008

“Rock Band” may have not been the most innovative rhythm game on the market, since it basically was just a combination of three other games, but, the end product was truly something special. Once the game was released, one of the questions that was on a lot of gamers’ minds was whether or not there was going to be a sequel, since the game was described as a “platform.” Well, with the release of “Rock Band 2” there’s little doubt about how the series will be continuing on, but a very different question remains - is “RB2” a worthy successor, or will we be rocking out to a sophomore slump?

A quick look at “Rock Band 2” will reveal that not a whole lot has changed. The basic gameplay, graphics, and music styles, are all pretty much the same. However, when you dig a little deeper, you see that there are a lot of changes that needed to happen, as well as, and more importantly, changes that fans wanted to see happen. Fortunately, the team up at Harmonix listened very closely to their audience (they had to after all that loud music and little ear protection) and put the polish on “Rock Band 2″ that it deserved. [Read more]

Mega Man 9 Review: Better Late Than Never

October 17, 2008

For some reason game companies feel compelled to stay on the cutting edge of technology, mostly because they assume that’s what their consumers want. However, on certain occasions that mentality ends of destroying beloved franchises. For years now, Mega Man has been one of those casualties. A franchise that has been around for 25 years or so Mega Man has “evolved” into something completely different from where it started. Fortunately for long time fans of the series, as well as an entirely new generation, the newest iteration of Mega Man has the potential to become a classic of a new kind – hopefully setting the industry down a new path where they embrace their roots. “Mega Man 9” truly kicks it old school.

The first thing that everyone noticed about “Mega Man 9” was the distinct choice of art style that the developers decided to go with. A true throwback to the 8-bit style of the NES, “Mega Man 9” is pixel perfect, and it continues the style of the original, creating an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for anyone that has ever died repeatedly on a disappearing brick. To complete the experience of playing an old NES cartridge Capcom even included an option to turn on or off flicker that was always present in the originals. Well played Inafune-san, well played. [Read more]

Time Hollow Review: No Time Like The Present

October 15, 2008

Konami’s latest DS title, “Time Hollow” might as well have been named “Butterfly Effect: The Game,” since it borrows so heavily from the scientific theory that the movie was based on. The basic gist of the theory (and the game) is that if you go back in time and change something, no matter how small it is, it will have some kind of repercussions on the future. If you can wrap your head around that concept, and enjoy tinkering with the past courtesy of a pretty sweet point and click adventure, then “Time Hollow” could be the perfect game for you.

In the game, you play as Ethan Kairos who wakes up on the morning of his seventeenth birthday to find a pen that can draw holes that allow him to see and interact with events in the past. The catch being that he can only interact with specific occurrences, and only if he has all the pertinent information, like the exact time and place. Essentially, Ethan must play detective (and God) to find out what has happened to his parents who have disappeared in the parallel time that he wakes up in. As Ethan begins to change things in the past, his actions effect the present, and alter the way the world is – sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

The game starts off with mundane investigation to get you used to using the pen, but it very quickly turns into a murder mystery the likes of nothing the DS has seen before. A true villain rises up, and it’s in Ethan’s hands to put the pieces together to make sure that everything and everyone in the future is taken care of and made right. Murder, revenge, deceit, and love all play vital roles in “Time Hollow,” all of which drive home the idea that the ethical decisions that Ethan is forced to make in the game may be a bit too much for the DS’s younger crowd to really comprehend. [Read more]

Review: NBA Live 09 & NBA2k9- Fight!

October 13, 2008

Hi Ho the Ballers are back! Baseball is winding down, and we’ve all been busting heads on the gridiron in Madden and now comes the bright lights of the NBA. The two heavyweights of the division are back with their 09’ editions and we are about to hit you with the down low on NBA Live 09’ featuring Tony Parker and NBA2k9 anchored by the now “certified” Kevin Garnett.

First I have to let you know right now. This isn’t really a fair fight. NBA2k9 is the better game… PERIOD.
[Read more]

Fracture Review: Earth Shattering Fun

October 8, 2008

Sometimes, all you need to do is add one extra element to an already tried and true genre to make something stale feel new again, and that’s exactly what LucusArts’ new action game “Fracture” does. The added element of terrain deformation (T.D.) adds enough of a new twist on the action genre that “Fracture” makes running and gunning fun again. T.D. does for the 3rd person shooter, what “Gears of War”’s active reload did for … the 3rd person shooter.

While it may appear to be a gimmick, the ability to control the lay of the land to your advantage ups the ante as you progress through the game. From the outset, your gun is equipped with the ability to raise or lower the ground in front of you with just a single shot. This kind of godlike control factors into both your offensive, and defensive attacks, as well as puzzles found throughout the world. Knowing that you have this kind of control separates this game apart from the numerous other, similar titles on the market, because it alters the way that you stage your attacks, and essentially play the game. In other words, if it is a gimmick, it’s a damn good one. [Read more]

Review: Lego Batman

October 3, 2008

Holy Lego Blocks Batman! Yup it’s DaveDaGamer dropping a review on you for Lego Batman from Traveller’s Tales.

These boys are on quite a roll with their on the surface “kiddie” franchise. I say on the surface, because there is a polish to these games that are usually not found in games targeted for your lil brother or sister. These games consistently rank in the high 8’s or 9’s for review scores. That tells you they toe the delicate balance between accessibility and fun factor.

Granted these Lego games are all based on the simple premise of everything in the worlds is made up of blocks from Lego playsets. Already the game strikes a chord with us because most of us have played with Lego’s growing up and I at least imagined creating vast worlds until I ran out of blocks. Famous stores like F.A.O. Schwartz and Toy’s R Us began building huge statues of King Kong and Godzilla out of Lego’s to attract users.

Traveler’s Tales looked at this lovingly and have honed their craft to bring us their latest attraction Lego Batman. Coming off the high that was Lego Indiana Jones, coincidentally the caped crusader killed at the box office and people were all excited about Batmania once again.

The first problem for me was the story. Now I’m a fan of the Batman comics and movies (yes even the first series). But where I feel that the previous Lego games connected with us, watching the familiar scenes from movies we adored played out in silent scenes, this title is missing. You see, this game isn’t based on any particular movie, comic, or cartoon series. It is an original story that manages to get as many of the characters in as possible. While still fun I think that this title would’ve been bolstered by picking from one of the more well recognized stories of the Batman.

What further brings us away is the epic score of Danny Elfman blasting through my speakers as my lil Lego men scamper throughout unfamiliar terrain.

All in all, I think that if you’ve enjoyed the previous Lego iterations you’ll like this one as well. There are some serious laughs, and there are a multitude of gadgetry to work with. One of the coolest features of this game is being able to play the game from the villain side after you unlock the missions with Batman and the Boy Wonder. Playing as a villain is almost universally cooler and this game doesn’t disappoint.

Lego Batman is the first Lego game made for the Next Gen console and it shows. TT definitely gets a lot of expression out of their fairly simple models. That shows the genius of the animation.

One thing this game is not is short. It will take you about 15 - 20 hrs to complete 100% and you will definitely enjoy re-playing levels with new abilities.

Check out Lego Batman for your quick fix of goodness.


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