Killzone 2 Review: War is Beautiful

March 6, 2009

The tagline for “Killzone 2″ is “War perfected.” While perfection is a tall order to fulfill for any game in any genre, “Killzone 2″ comes refreshingly close.  Since its infamous debut trailer back at E3 in 2005, “Killzone 2″ has had enormous shoes to fill. So, could Guerrilla Games actually meet the ambitious expectancies of gamers across the globe? Rest easy PS3 owners, as “Killzone 2″ improves upon nearly every aspect of the FPS genre, and, in doing so, becomes an early frontrunner for 2009’s game of the year.

The story of “Killzone 2″ is epic. You play as Sergeant Thomas “Sev” Sevchenko, and you and you team, Alpha squad, are sent to the Helghast homeworld to help take down their leader, Scolar Visari. You will be aided by familiar characters, like Rico (Killzone) and Evelyn (Killzone: Liberation). You’ll also be taking orders from Colonel Jan Templer, who’s the main protagonist of both the PS2 and PSP entries. While many of the characters from previous games have returned, playing those games is not integral to enjoying “Killzone 2″. [Read more]

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection Review: Still Doing What Nintendon’t

March 2, 2009

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

Nostalgia is a funny thing, especially when it comes to video games. Some gamers think that retro games are classics, and should be appreciated as such, and others think that the games of the past should be left in the past. Fortunately for both groups, every now and then a compilation of classic titles is released to remind both groups fondly of the old days. The most recent of these compilations is Sega’s “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” which revitalizes such Genesis classics as “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Golden Axe,” and “Phantasy Star” games in addition to some 40 other games, and it does it with class.

Maybe you can blame it on the fact that I never had a Genesis when I was a kid (it was Nintendo all the way in my house), or the fact that I’m really bitter that my Sega CDX died over the weekend, but I never really thought that Sega’s games were on the same level as their competitors back in the day. There was something about the quality of games that were released for the Genesis that just never appealed to me. Sure, there were classics that I loved to play at my friend’s houses; the “Sonic” games, “X-Men,” and even “Holyfield’s Boxing” but beyond that I didn’t think I was really missing out on much. “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” showed me that apparently I was wrong. Even though I still remain a true SNES fan at heart, the “Ulitmate Genesis” collection has finally convinced me that there are some great titles that I’ve missed out on; “Comix Zone,” “Ristar,” and “Streets of Rage” just to name a few, and maybe it’s about time I went back and did some deeper digging into Sega’s back catalog. [Read more]

F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin Review: Alma’s Back

February 19, 2009

Prince

I’ve been waiting for a sequel to the original “F.E.A.R.” since I finished that game. The first title was a such a rush, and at the time there was nothing like it with memorable gun fights and online battles that tended to get very intense when the rooms were maxed out. In the official second installment “F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin,” starts out some thirty minutes before the events of the original “F.EA.R,” and the single player campaign delivers on every front. For anyone that might pick up this game for the console, you’ll be in a new nightmare during your online multiplayer adventures.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Several other gamers I’ve spoken on the PlayStation Network all concluded that the online needs some work as there’s something that’s just not intuitive about it. After playing multiplayer most of last week and the weekend I realized what that was; it’s the design of the lobbies, matching, and party selecting - they were all was designed with the PC in mind. I’d bet my bottom dollar on that, because I played “F.E.A.R.” online extensively for two years, and still occasionally play it even now on my PC. I can’t say the same for the MP on PS3 though: users seem to be quite frustrated with the way you match up, as they spend countless hours trying to get into a game. [Read more]

Midnight Club: Los Angeles Review: Expect More Than Traffic

January 20, 2009

Hollywood and 300

Needless to say, this review of “Midnight Club: Los Angeles” is long overdue; I have been writing it for a while, but a few issues had my opinion flip-flopping like politicians with pending indictments. So, finally, here are my complete and final thoughts on the game:

It’s roughly 10:30 P.M., and I’m driving around Los Angeles bumping The Game and feeling mighty nice. I need to make a right on Wilshire Blvd, so I get over in the far right lane. The moon is full and bright and I pass a few women who I assume are night club rejects; I prepare to brake and reach down for the turn signal and… After a couple of swipes at pure air, I get the hilariously shocking realization that I’m still just a North Carolina apartment dweller with a need for loud music, fast cars, and video games. Since my Suzuki isn’t getting me anywhere too swiftly and most of the other games in my collection don’t mesh too well with Hip-Hop, I’ve been spending a lot of time with “Midnight Club: Los Angeles.”

Needless to say, I am a big fan of driving games; I feel like I have a connection with them that I don’t have with many other games. It’s probably because I spend much more time driving in real life than I do sword fighting, casting flame spells, and popping off AK-47s. Even with that in mind, I still feel like this is a game for almost everyone over 13 years of age (Midnight Club: Los Angeles is rated Teen by the ESRB). [Read more]

Sonic Unleashed Review: Unleashing The Beast

December 23, 2008

Sonic UnleashedI’m certain I wasn’t the only gamer who got their hopes up a few months ago after seeing the first batch of screenshots for Sega’s new Sonic title, “Sonic Unleashed.” For some reason it seemed like there was some extra glimmer of hope this time around, and that we wouldn’t be let down by yet another Sonic game. From the screens there appeared to be some semblance of a return to 2D, and a step away from everything that has caused the series to deteriorate over the last few years. However, after actually sitting down and playing “Unleashed” I can say that anyone that got their hopes up might end up being letdown, yet again. HOWEVER, “Unleashed” isn’t a bad game, it’s just not the game that we were hoping for.

3D is a tough dimensional proposition for any game that established itself as a 2D classic. This goes for all franchises that have been around for the last 25 years, and not just our blue hedgehog friend. Sure, some 2D games have made the jump to 3D successfully, and have continued on in that form for multiple titles, but no matter how well those games have done, there’s still something to be said for their original releases. Those games introduced us to a 2D hedgehog, plumber, and elf (seriously, what the hell is Link?) to an entire generation, and that’s how we fell in love with them. At the same time, I’ve always felt that it’s unfair to hold Sonic to the same standards as we have placed on Nintendo’s titles. Sonic is, was, and will always be different. His games have always been faster, less predictable, and less linear than any Mario title. His 3D games have always tried to reflect those characteristics, and, unfortunately, they’ve never really succeeded, mostly because those mechanics are extremely hard to express in a 3D game. Somehow, despite everything it has working against it, “Sonic Unleashed” manages to be fun, but Team Sonic manages to spread out the fun so much that it’s really hard to enjoy the overall product. [Read more]

Prince of Persia Review: Beauty And The Beast

December 22, 2008

Prince

The long-time “Prince of Persia” fans that have followed it throughout its’ remake trilogy on the PS2 and XBOX have been anticipating the release of the PS3 and XBOX 360 versions. Those gamers that spent several hours playing through those games, already have an idea of what to expect in the new version’s story.  Sadly, I haven’t played any of the previous revamps for the series.  The last time I played “Prince of Persia” was on my PC back in the West Indies.  Before you brush me aside for this atrocity, consider that it is perhaps best to get an opinion from someone like myself, in its most unbiased form.  Like anything under the Sun, “Prince of Persia” is not without fault, even though it has a lot going for it in its current incarnation, but there’s always room for more.  The ending cements itself and sets up what could be another (at least) 4 years of wall runs, leaps, double jumps, and light seed collecting.

Perhaps holding back made this game easy, but nevertheless this game is easy. It may have been intentional by the creators to make it approachable, or it could have been a strong belief in not punishing users with the “Game Over” screen.  It’s odd, but just because you don’t ever see a game over screen, does it make a game easy?   Although, with “Prince of Persia” it might not be necessary; perhaps that’s when all the visuals kick in, and you’re stuck, stuck with it like staring at a midnight Gypsy dancer.  It’s perhaps the right  time for anyone to get aquatinted with the series.  In its current form it is an obvious amalgamation of technologies used in the PS2 titles, and newer systems like the XBOX 360.  Yet, for all the power available to the creators, I’m puzzled why the gameplay mechanics forces you on a set path, one that you are punished heavily for if you do not follow?  For instance, if you don’t perform a double jump when you are supposed to, even though there may be a wall near by that you could do a wall-run jump off of, you will … die or be saved by your partner Elika.  That’s where most people will begin to label this game as not easy.  And, let’s not forget that 14-hit combo that’s almost impossible to pull off for beginners.  In the hopes of keeping the flow of the game going, you will want to be saved by Elika, and every time you fall into a pit, you are almost satisfied that there will be no Game Over screen.  Think of Elika’s life saving cut scenes akin to the reviving chambers in “Bioshock.” At the same time, there is a trophy that you can obtain which requires you to use Elika less than 100 times, however, you’ll quickly find out that attempting this the first time around may seem more challenging that you originally thought. [Read more]

Shaun White Snowboarding Review: Tomato On The Slopes

December 8, 2008

When I was younger, I’m sure there was a point where I dreamed of winning an Olympic Gold Metal, and I can completely guarantee that there was a point where I dreamed of having my own video game. Unfortunately, neither has come true for me (yet) – Shaun White, on the other hand, now, he’s living out my dreams (a well as those of countless other males). He’s already won a gold metal at the 2006 Torino Olympic games, and now he has his own video game “Shawn White Snowboarding” out for just about every console. I never thought I’d be so jealous of someone with red hair … or with the middle name Roger.

“Shaun White Snowboarding” is the first game in a long time to take a more realistic look at hitting the slopes, as opposed to the over-the-top releases of the last few years. Most of the successful snowboarding games that hit the market since the PS2 launched have been very arcadey, and all about landing the biggest tricks possible – throwing the laws of physics out the window completely. “Shaun White” is more firmly rooted in reality, lending a solid nod to gravity, moreso than any snowboarding game … ever. Take that as you will… if you were hoping to go Uber-big as the Flying Tomato, you might want to stay home, but if you want to prove that you can rule the mountain without having to push the limits of reality, then “Shaun White” just might be for you. [Read more]

LittleBigPlanet Review: LittleBigger Is Better

November 25, 2008

“LittleBigPlanet” is Sony’s saving grace this holiday season. If it didn’t come out there’s a chance that the PS3 might have fallen off the radar for a lot of gamers, especially the ones that haven’t picked one up yet. I’ve had numerous arguments about how “LBP” isn’t a system seller, but I genuinely think that it’s the breath of cute, fresh air that the console needed to get its’ second wind. “LittleBigPlanet” sold me on the PS3 a few years ago when I first saw it, and now that it’s finally here, it has lived up to just about every expectation that I’ve had.

“LittleBigPlanet” has a bunch of things going for it. The graphics are adorable, stylized, and inspired. The gameplay, although time-tested and classic, has been updated to offer new and creative ways of navigation and puzzle solving. The level of character customization rivals that of almost any other triple-A title on the market. It’s also simple enough for anyone to enjoy; even the lapsed gamers who haven’t picked up a controller since their NES stopped working. Not to mention, “LittleBigPlanet” may have the best character to never be seen on-screen in the game’s tutor. While, most of those things aren’t necessarily revolutionary, “LBP” achieves each of them superbly, and really makes it a delight to take your Sackboy and run all over each of the levels looking for all the collectables. [Read more]

Mirror’s Edge Review: Problematic or Genius?

November 20, 2008

Game Cover

Mirrors Edge was announced back in July 2007 and ever since it’s debut screens, and amazing teaser video, we’ve clamored for it. The title echoed a departure from the standard FPS; that’s the this-is-a-post-appocaplytpic-nightmare-world that we need to straighten out for the betterment of mankind. Gone are the heavy geared enemies, and weapons with secondary fire. Enter, as you watch in awe, the lead character interact with the environment in a way that we always wanted one to.

It is perhaps this very focus on environment interaction that gives ME its’ edge but also delivers a blunt blow in other aspects for the game. Specifically, the story, cutscenes, and use of other elements in the game; weapons. The game itself is not for everyone. Apparently my brother became queezy from just looking at this game and subsequently began to complain about dizziness during his experience with the title. Never the less, he never had a stomach for FPSs to begin with.

While he may have had his problems with keeping yesterdays’ Carnitas Boritto down, for me it was more on the weapons and presentation. This game is great in every other way; it hits you from a perspective that you wouldn’t believe, but it falls short on the story, and the way the characters are presented. I mean it falls so hard, it’s almost too obvious that they spent a lot of time working on the running, wall running, climbing, shimmies, and all that other lovely stuff that Parkour runners do. This is a typical mistake and perhaps there are good reasons for it; budget being the first in my mind. [Read more]

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe Review: Bloody Fun

November 18, 2008

At first glance, “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” seems like it should have come out around 1998, to go head-to-head with the wildly popular “Marvel vs. Capcom” series, but, for whatever reason, it didn’t. Fast forward to today, and, through some wild twist of fate, or, possibly the will of the Elder Gods, 10 years after the game should have been released, gamers finally have the chance to kick Scorpion’s ass with Batman. On the plus side, waiting may have paid off; after a string of less-than-awesome “MK” games “MK vs. DC” may put the franchise back on track.

“Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” isn’t the best “MK” game ever released (that honor goes to “Mortal Kombat 2”), but there are some redeeming factors that might make fans that soured on the series years ago think twice about this iteration. A good deal of the game has been revamped, since “Armageddon” was released, taking full advantage of this generation of consoles. The controls, gameplay, graphics, and characters were all treated to a much-needed upgrade, and the improvements show over the course of the game. [Read more]

Fallout 3 Review: Boom Goes The Nuclear Blast

November 13, 2008

“Oblivion” with guns; those three words have been repeated across the vast ocean of the internet ever since Bethesda announced “Fallout 3.” After beating the game, and working through my second play through, I am going to have to agree with those three words. The quick traveling, interface, and even the way you sleep are all elements borrowed from “Oblivion.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is bad; on its’ own, it’s jammed with content that places heavy emphasis on exploration and morale decisions. It’s just too bad that while the ideas of “Fallout 3” sound good on paper, a lot of it falls apart in the end due to bugs, and shoddy execution.

“Fallout 3” starts out with your 21-year-old character on the verge of escaping Vault 101, where he has lived for his entire life. He was born and raised in Vault 101, got his Pip-Boy at age 10, took his G.O.A.T test at age 18, and, at age 21, his old man escapes the Vault. The Overseer (the guy who runs this particular Vault) gets pissed off, and begins searching for you. Don’t worry though; his daughter wakes you up in your room to and informs you of the ordeal. After nabbing a pistol, some medical supplies, and a baseball bat, you’re on your merry way to follow in your Papa’s footsteps and escape the Vault - by beating up some highly trained security officers, as a level 1 character. [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]

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]

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]

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