Sunday, April 25, 2010

Video game number one hundred and fourteen: Just Dance

Video game review number one hundred and fourteen in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Just Dance".

I rented this from Gamefly (it was rated really high on a lot of people's lists) and it turned out to be a pretty fun party game. Just Dance is a Wii game that isn't really like the other dance games I've played before. Unlike Dance Dance Revolution, it's not just about what you're doing with your feet, instead....you're supposed to mimic what the character is doing onscreen with their entire body.

Heather and I had just finished spending most of the day doing some spring cleaning, so she was sitting on the couch with the cats when I put this game in to try it out. Although she initially said that she just wanted to watch, three songs in, she wanted her turn. I handed the WiiMote over to her and she tried to beat some of my scores. After she'd played for awhile, I grabbed another controller and we played six or seven rounds together. She beat me in all but one.

The scoring isn't what I'd call "accurate" or "predictable" by any means, but unlike Rock Band, you don't seem to be able to fail out of a song, so that's good. Still, we were kind of frustrated by the bad scores we were getting at first, so I visited youtube to see what other people were doing. I didn't see one tutorial on how to score well....instead, it mostly just people having a good time. We decided to do the same.

Overall Score? I'd say this one is an 8/10 as far as fun goes. I think I'll need to buy this in case we want to play it at a party or something again.

Achievements? No...it's a Wii game, so there are none.

Video game number one hundred and thirteen: How to train your Dragon

Video game review number one hundred and thirteen in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"How to train your Dragon".

This game is one of the more complex kids games that I can remember playing in my gaming history. I saw the movie, and it gave me all sorts of ideas what the video game might be like. I imagined fighting Dragons, maybe running through some jumping puzzles, perhaps a flying game. I was picturing your typical action game, based on a kid's movie. I figured it would be pretty fun. Instead, this game is basically a kid's RPG. It's not focused as much on fighting as it is leveling up your dragons and collecting items to give to them. I'm not sure how enjoyable that will be for kids, but I thought it was pretty fun.

You run around the town, collecting ingredients to make special potions for your Dragons, all of whom live in the basement of your little hut. Every once in awhile, you take them up to the mountains to train them (sort of like the movie) and eventually you take them to the arena to fight them. Although the arena is the same as in the movie, you aren't actually doing combat against a dragon. Instead, you're riding your dragon and fighting other people's dragons.

The fights range from pretty hard to ridiculously easy. If you don't train your dragon properly...you're going to get your ass beaten pretty badly. If you train your dragon (which basically consists of playing grindy mini-games)...you'll be able to dominate pretty much any other dragon you fight. I have this one dragon who has a special move that assures he pretty much can't lose...but it took hours to get him that way.

Overall? 7/10. The gameplay is deep enough that I felt compelled to play a lot longer than I would have ordinarily played a game like this. I was reminded a little of Fable, a little of Street Fighter and the rest was all classic kid's game stuff. Again, I don't know whether or not this game would be any good for an actual kid...but I liked it.

Achievements? I got quite a few.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Video game number one hundred and twelve: Need for Speed Pro Street

Video game review number one hundred and twelve in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Need for Speed: Pro Street".

Let's say you have a successful video game series about street racing. Let's say your series of games features souped up cars racing around the city, occasionally outrunning a police officer or ten. Let's say you're thinking of making yet another sequel. What are the two elements you're not going to screw around with? Probably the races and the chases, right?

Wrong.

Need for Speed Pro Street takes the cars off the street, and (much to the delight of law enforcement I'm sure), also removes the whole "running from the cops" element from the game. Now...you race your souped up street cars on legitimate tracks. You wear helmets (because helmets are cool) and you try not to crash into things, because crashing is not something you should ever do in a car.

Pro Street is basically Need for Speed: Light. It's Need for Speed after the developers raided the suggestion box at a Southern Baptist Church on what might make their racing games better. It's Need For Speed: Fisher Price edition.

I could go on about how the driving engine sucks just as bad as Carbon, or how the first race you enter, you can win with a good 15 second lead (so long as you can keep your car on the track), but what would be the point of that? With what I've already told you, you now understand why you should never, EVER play this game. There are a dozen good track racers out there, and this isn't one of them. There are a bunch of better Need For Speed games out there, and this isn't one of them. This game is like Burnout without the crashing. It's like Halo without the shooting. It's Tetris without blocks and Pac-Man without ghosts. It's a group of bad analogies with no end.

Overall Score? 2/10. Terrible. Buy this one for $6.00 in a bargain bin and give it to someone you don't like for their birthday. Better yet, give them 6 lottery tickets that you've already scratched. Those might be more fun. This game is worse than Carbon, and that's saying a lot.

Achievements? I got one for taking a picture of my car, one for "Dominating" a match (which was much easier than it sounds) and one for totaling my car (which was MUCH harder than it sounds). I had to crash into fences for two laps straight before I finally turned my car around....and plowed full speed into another racer driving in the opposite direction. That description of the terrible physics should really tell you all you need to know about this game. That one sentence should probably save you what....40 bucks?

You're welcome.

Video game number one hundred and eleven: Need for Speed Carbon

Video game review number one hundred and eleven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Need for Speed: Carbon".

I was a big fan of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the game that came out right after this one (and also, the last of the Need for Speed series to sport the "outrun the cops" feature. Outrunning the cops has always been my favorite part of this game...and once they took it out, they basically took the heart right out of the series. I don't think the NFS games will be great again until they add that feature back in.

I've been playing a lot of Forza 3 lately (they released a car pack with the new Mini Cooper concept and somehow, that got me interested again)....so playing Carbon was a big step down. The driving controls in this game are slippery, and you rarely feel like you're really in control of the car. It's not like the Burnout series, where the car moves so fast you're just sort of along for the ride....it's more like the streets are a frying pan, and you're a cold slice of butter. You slip and slide around corners, never feeling a real connection with the road. Crashing causes no damage to your indestructible car...so basically, your driving skill doesn't matter in this game. Like a kid on the Autopia at Disneyland, you can drive however you like, but the rails will eventually take you where you're supposed to go.

I wasn't about to start the career (you can race various street gangs for control of the city). Instead, I wanted to jump right into the freeroam mode and start up a pursuit to see how fun it was to outrun the cops in this one. The answer? Not very.

Finding a cop is hard. I crashed into civilians, wrecked property and sometimes parked right next to my crime hoping that they'd show up, but the cops never came. The only way to find them seemed to be to drive around until your radar detector started sounding, or until you just happened to drive right into one. Once you find the cops, it's on....and you get to run.

I found the cops a little too easy to ditch, and in order to get the one achievement I was able to earn (survive a chase for 12 minutes before escaping)....I had to slow down and let them catch up to me quite a few times. One time, I actually lost them and had to actively go find another cop to keep my pursuit counter going. I couldn't find one (even though 10 had just been chasing me) and that was 8 minutes down the drain.

Overall Score? 3/10. The cut scene graphics are cool (and there's a plot) but the driving itself is not much fun at all. I have no desire to play this one anymore.

Achievements? You get them for playing through the career (which I had no interest in doing) or playing online (which you'll need to earn money to buy good cars for first). I played three or four online matches in my starter car...and I could barely finish the race before the timer ran out. Lame, lame, Lame.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Video game number one hundred and ten: After Burner Climax

Video game review number one hundred and ten in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"After Burner Climax".

I probably haven't played an Afterburner game since I was a teenager, making weekend trips to my local Scandia Fun Center. This was like my idea of heaven, a place to play arcade games, mini-golf and drive go-karts. I remember the Afterburner games, because they were more like rides than games. They were pretty high tech in the 1980's...and had a swinging seat that would move as you did barrel rolls. It didn't actually flip over, but you felt more like you were in the game. I think it cost a dollar to play, so I didn't get to indulge as often as I might have liked to.

I had the console versions on the Sega Master System...and they were fun, but nothing really compares with the giant arcade console where you can swing around in that seat, with the surround sound speakers blaring behind you. This game has updated graphics, but honestly...I felt like I was missing the best part of that arcade experience because I wasn't sitting in a cabinet, rocking back and forth.

Overall Score? 6/10. It's better than average, but it's not as good as the classic, especially if you were accustomed to saving up your cash to play the arcade version the way I was when I was a kid.

Achievements? I probably could nail all 200 in this one pretty easily, but I don't think I'll try.


Video game number one hundred and nine: Puzzle Chronicles

Video game review number one hundred and nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Puzzle Chronicles".

One of the classic "snaps" from the 80's involved asking someone how tall they were, and then replying to whatever measurement they gave you with "I didn't know they stacked shit that high". I don't really have a way to work that into my review of this game, but suffice it to say...this game is a pretty big pile.

In a nutshell, this game is a shitty RPG combined with a shitty jewel matching puzzle game. Think Puzzle Quest, but take away most of the fun...and you'll get the basic idea.

Puzzle Quest is fun because at it's core, it's a good puzzle game. The folks who made that game stacked a little RPG on top of that, and the result was a puzzle game with a little bit of a story to it. You didn't really have to worry about the story, but if you wanted to pay attention to it, it was there and it wasn't terrible.

The folks who made this game were apparently big fans of Puzzle Quest, but they forgot to add in any of the stuff that made that game fun. The puzzle game? It's ass. You match gems, but sideways instead of horizontally. There's no gameplay benefit to this, it seems they just turned the puzzle board on its side to avoid being sued by any of the other similar games out there for stealing their ideas.

The graphics in this game look like the drawings you might find on the binder of someone who was a really big fan of the "Heavy Metal" style of art in high school. It's the kind of art that makes you say "I could probably draw something better than that" (when in reality, you probably couldn't). Still....most video game artists can and have produced better art than this, as these are some of the worst graphics I've ever seen in a modern video game.

I played this game through the tutorial and well into the second act before I realized I wasn't going to get anymore achievements without playing a LOT more of it. The quests are never-ending. You'll walk a step or two on the map, fight a monster (fighting involves playing the shitty puzzle game), then you'll walk another step and fight another monster. The puzzle game never becomes more fun, so you're just stuck playing it over and over until the computer decides that you've had enough and gives you the victory. So long as you can match three colors, it's tough to lose.

Overall score? 2/10. What a boring, stupid, ugly game. Don't buy it.
Achievements? Here's the one I got. Will I ever play again? Doubtful.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Video game number one hundred and eight: Guitar Hero Smash Hits

Video game review number one hundred and eight in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Guitar Hero: Smash Hits".

This game is Guitar Hero.

It's not even a "new" guitar hero, it's just the same songs you've already played in previous versions, but now you can sing along with and drum on them if that tickles your fancy. Unfortunately, my fancy remains un-tickled.

In previous reviews, I've made my opinions clear about Guitar Hero as far as the comparison to Rock Band goes. Those opinions have not changed. In Smash Hits, the ONLY thing they're really adding is the ability to play your "favorite" songs with all the instruments. Frankly, if I want to do that...I'll probably play Rock Band.

Overall Score? 5/10. If you LOVE Guitar Hero, and you were dying to play these songs as a band with your friends, this game is a nine or a ten. If you're like me...and have no interest in playing Guitar Hero as a band, there is nothing new for you in this game.

Achievements? I got a few.

Video game review number one hundred and seven: Ninja Gaiden 2

Video game review number one hundred and seven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Ninja Gaiden 2".

I actually got this game a couple of years ago, and it's been on my shelves waiting for me to play ever since. I suppose I should have played it before now, but the original Ninja Gaiden was one of the most difficult, time sucking games I ever played on the original Xbox and I heard this one was even harder. I had always planned to give this one a shot when I had like....a month with no good games to play. Maybe over a Christmas break. Got it in 2oo8, so obviously I've been waiting quite awhile. Today, I decided to crack the plastic and give it a try.

The good?

This game features A ton of special moves, great graphics, awesome cut scenes and Sonya from DOA as the damsel in distress. That's never a bad thing.

The Bad: The special moves are fucking difficult to remember and absolutely necessary to pull off in some situations, making them annoying. This game features a pretty terrible camera, making even the easiest jumps a pain in the ass to pull off. The combat system is defense and special move heavy. What this means is aside from remembering a dozen different "combo" things, you have to block CONSTANTLY.

There are always 8 enemies around, so this can be a pain in the ass. Last, but certainly not least....a lot of times, you'll either button mash or combo your way into doing something you had no intention of doing. For example, I have absolutely no idea how I killed the first boss. One second, I was slashing at him, and then suddenly, I did something and he was dead. I wish I knew what I did.

I played this for several hours, and even though I was having a good time WATCHING the game, I realized...I wasn't really having fun playing it. I liked the weapons, but I kept forgetting my moves. I liked the cinematics, but killing 100 guys before getting to each one got sort of old.

Overall? I think this is about a 5/10 for me. I must stress that if you enjoy the series, or enjoy very challenging games in general...you might like this. It's certainly not an "arcade" type game though, and I think that's my ideal when it comes to these. Give me Dynasty Warriors or Ninety Nine Nights over this one any day.

Achievements? I did play quite a bit.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Video game number one hundred and six: Disney Sing It

Video game review number one hundred and six in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Disney Sing It".

This game is basically karaoke revolution for people who enjoy the kind of music made famous by various Disney Channel stars. I am not a fan, but luckily for me...my wife likes it. She has the High School Musical soundtracks and even went to the live musical when it came to town. She's already good at Rock Band, so I figured she'd like this one.

I saw that there were a couple of achievements worth as much as 100 gamerscore that you can get for simply doing well in one song...and suddenly, I had a plan. My plan was that I'd bring this title home, I'd sing a few of these terrible songs with my wife. I figured she'd enjoy the game, probably bring the scores up, and I'd get a bunch of free gamerscore in a few minutes.

My plan was foiled by the fact that this game does not support Lips microphones OR the communicator.That means if you want to play two players in this one, you must have two separate USB mics (which I do not). Instead of singing the duets, I realized that if I was going to review this piece of shit, I was going to have to play it myself. I sang two songs, both by "Aly and AJ", and got myself a cool 120 points. After that...I handed the mic to Heather, and she doubled my gamerscore for me.

Since she played it more than I did, I thought I'd ask her for her review: Here's what she said: "I could see how kids could like this game. Little girls".

She sang through all of the High School Musical songs for me...and on the last one she said:

"Only one more to go, and then you can have your stinkin achievement"

When she finished, she said "No More", but then she started flipping through the song list and found something else she wanted to sing. I think that qualifies as a positive review as far as my wife is concerned.

Overall Score: For me: 2/10. Although I liked the gamerscore, this is probably the worst setlist I've ever seen in a music game in my life. I think I'd actually have more fun playing the "Rock Band Country Track Pack" than I had with this. In fact, I may just have to review it and see.

For my wife, my niece and anyone else who enjoys this new school Disney music, I think the score would be more like a 5 or even a 6. It's Karaoke, there are plenty of modes, and all the songs have live music video behind them, instead of pre-rendered animation.

Achievements? I got a couple on my own, and then Heather earned me almost 200 more in this one. If we'd had another microphone, we could have easily earned another 200 playing together. This game is a gamerscore generator for sure.

Video game number one hundred and five: Prison Break: The Conspiracy

Video game review number one hundred and five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Prison Break: The Conspiracy".

Remember the first season of the Prison Break TV show? You know, the only one that was any good...when they were actually in prison, and their job was to break out? This game takes place in that season. If you were a fan of the show (like I was), you might think "cool". I'll have to advise that you turn off your imagination right now.

The Prison Break video game does indeed cover the events of the first season, only you aren't playing any of the characters from the show. You're not the guy breaking out of prison, or his brother, or any of the inmates he takes along with him. No, your character is simply a spy from "the Company" (the evil organization from the TV show)...and you basically watch what's happening from afar.

Is Michael Scofield up to something? You'd better go spy on him. How about his brother? You better climb through the walls to get a better look. The infamous Theodore Bagwell (or "T-bag" for fans of the show) is about to start a fight. Run over there and break it up.

This game reminds me of all those tv shows or movies where the main character is asked to go back in time and make sure not to mess with history. That's your job in this game. Nothing you do has any impact whatsoever, and the manner in which you do it....is boring.

When you aren't sneaking around trying to see what the main characters from the show are up to, as an inmate, you will do things like lift weights, hit a punching bag, get in prison fights. All of these things are just about as fun as they sound. The developers of this one got most of the real stars of the show to do their character's voices...but you won't be able to hang around those characters, because you'll be too busy stealthing your way into the kitchen trying to grab a knife for Joe Abruzzi (presumably before he dies later like he did on the TV show). Oh yeah. SPOILER!

Overall score: 5/10 I liked the first season of the show, which led me to believe I might like this game. I did not. As an action game, it's boring. As a TV show adaptation, it keeps you too far away from everything that made the TV show good. As a stealth game? Look, I just got done reviewing Splinter Cell...and that's what a Stealth game is supposed to be. This one is just...silly.

Achievements? Yeah...there are plenty. As you can see, I played this one quite a bit before giving up on it:



Video game one hundred and four: Final Fight Double Impact

Video game review number one hundred and four in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Final Fight: Double Impact".

Ah Final Fight. I have spent so much money on this game over the years, it's ridiculous. I started contributing my hard earned quarters to Capcom when this one was out in the arcades. The one I played the most was located right next to a Street Fighter 2 machine I liked to play, so when there was a line for that...I'd play this. I beat it in the arcades at least once with every character.

Soon, the game was released for the Super Nintendo, for some reason without Cody. That sucked, but I bought it anyway...and played it start to finish a dozen times. It was one of my favorites to play while talking on the phone with someone at the time.

Another half decade later, this game was released on Xbox Live Arcade for the original Xbox. I bought it yet again....and played the heck out of it some more. Now, here we are in 2010..and the game is back yet again. This time...it's got ACHIEVEMENTS. :-)

Seriously, if you are one of the few people who is willing to purchase this game again just because it now has proper online co-op and achievements, your dream has finally come true. This game delivers. For everyone else who has played it 100 times before, it's the same game, with a few new bells and whistles as far as the scoring system goes. There are "challenges" (get through a level on 3 continues, etc, etc)...but for the most part...it's just plain old Final Fight.

I beat it once, I'm sure I'll go through it with the other two characters sometime soon. It's still a lot of fun. My only gripes are the pause system (it doesn't really have one), and the fact that the default mode has you looking at the coin-op screen (instead of the nice stretched out HD version).

Overall Score: 7/10. It's Final Fight. What else do you need to know?

Achievements? Here's the one I got for beating the game from start to finish. There will be more. :-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Video game number one hundred and three: Splinter Cell Conviction

Video game review number one hundred and three in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Splinter Cell: Conviction".

I spent a brief amount of time playing Splinter Cell on today, its launch day, and so far, I like what I'm seeing. Splinter Cell has always been very hit or miss for me, but mostly miss. I'm not a fan of stealth shooters. I like to "run and gun", and these games punish people like me by making your character incredibly weak when he does that. This particular game is no different, but at least the stealth is fun.

I haven't played it enough to give it a decent review, so I'll be back. In the meantime, here are the two achievements I have:





----Update May 4th, 2010-----

Alright, over the last couple of days I've given this game much more of a chance. My first impressions all remain, but I have to say...I'm enjoying it a lot more now that I've given it a little more time.

The graphics in this game are awesome, and even though you're sneaking around all the time, they keep it interesting by displaying your objectives on walls (projection style) and having the characters you're stalking spit out all sorts of funny dialog. Every time you're in an enemy area and you kill one guard, the rest of the guards start yelling at you, saying all sorts of crazy stuff. It's definitely caused me to laugh more than once or twice.

I haven't quite finished the campaign yet, but I'd say I'm about halfway through. Last night, I also played through some of the co-op with my friend Jason. Playing a stealth game together is a bit annoying at times. One of us (usually me) would Rambo ahead and be seen...causing the other to have to restart the entire level. However, the last level we played, sometime after midnight...had an epic finish. His character was being held as a human shield by one of the enemies. Meanwhile, another enemy had shot and downed me. We were both essentially helpless, and usually, this kind of situation means a level restart. Luckily, there is a "last stand" mode, so my character was able to sit up, shoot down Jason's captor, then I turned my pistol on three of the guards around him....giving him enough time to come over and revive my character who had less than 10 seconds until death. To top it all off, we both jumped onto a helicopter and escaped. It was a pretty rewarding finish.

Overall score? 8/10. I usually don't like this type of game, but this is easily the best stealth game I've ever played. Once I've completed the missions, I can't see playing this again, but it's still going to be a really solid single playthrough.

Here are all the tasty achievements I've gotten so far:


Video game number one hundred and two: Guitar Hero On Tour

Video game review number one hundred and two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Guitar Hero On Tour".

This is the final game in what I'm retroactively calling my "Monday, mobile Monday" series of game reviews. As you probably know if you've been reading, I took a road trip to Portland to see an Evening with Kevin Smith with my buddy John. While on the road, I borrowed a bunch of his DS and PSP games to write reviews of while we were driving the 175 miles or so (each way) to our destination.

I saved this one for last for several reasons:

1. I thought this would be the coolest of the bunch, because it comes with a snazzy little Gameboy guitar peripheral thing.

2. I figured playing the most "active" game of the bunch should be reserved for the 1-2am hour of the drive back, when I would be dying to take a nap...but should stay awake to help keep the driver from doing the same.

3. I thought playing DS Guitar Hero in a public place (the line for the show) would be lame, especially because I was keeping my sound turned down. You can't really play Guitar Hero without sound.

Some of these things turned out to be true, some did not.

First, the good: This game has a pretty decent setlist, the graphics are ok (better than I thought they would be, actually) and I think the way they have you hold your DS is actually sort of comfortable.

Now, the bad: Everything else. This game simply isn't as fun to play as guitar hero is. Perhaps if you're a child, this game would be fun...but the little guitar peripheral barely fit into my hand (even at it's longest length, I couldn't get the stupid strap to fit on my hand). This controller is definitely built for tiny children and other people with small hands, and my fingers were smashed closely together on the keys.

Scratching a pick on your touch screen sounds fun in theory (I was excited about it before playing), but in practice...it feels like you're going to break your DS. I've seen what kids do to their DSes. My nephews and nieces all have one, and I believe between the 5 of them, they've broken about 3 or 4. Furiously strumming a plastic guitar pick on a touch screen just seems like you're begging to break or permanently damage your screen. Maybe I wouldn't have...but it sure felt like I was going to.

Overall score: 3/10. Combining my fear of breaking my gameboy with the buttons being so damn close together on the stupid guitar made this unplayable. I couldn't pull off the faster difficulties, and found myself needing to play on easy or medium, which wasn't exciting at all. I played through three songs before I'd had enough. I'm really glad I never bought this game...because as cool as it looks, it's definitely not a game for grown ups.

I'll stick to my full sized plastic guitar, thank you very much.

Video game number one hundred and one: Mystery Case Files: Million Heir

Video game review number one hundred and one in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Mystery Case files: MillionHeir".

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't include a picture of the box art along with this review, people would probably think that I made this game up just to pad my numbers for the project. I assure you, I did not. I asked my buddy John to bring over every DS game he had that I might not have, and he figured I wouldn't have this one. He was right.

Mystery Case Files is one of those hidden items game where you run a magnifying class around your screen until you find one of the many things you are supposed to looking for. A pair of boots. A mouse. A diamond. A clock. A birdhouse. You get the idea.

There is a game like this for Xbox Live Arcade called "Interpol". They tried to weave a plot into it about how you're this agent searching for things, but honestly...who cares about the plot in a game like this? It's basically a game you've probably played before (maybe it was called "Where's Waldo"), and you don't need a plot to know you have to look for things.

I played through two levels of this before figuring I had done enough "research" to get the basic gist of it. If you like hide and seek games, this is a good one. If you prefer your hide and seek games to star celebrities, I suggest sticking with your buddy Waldo.

Overall score? 5/10. Average. Exactly what you're expecting if you want to play a game like this. I'd score it higher, but frankly...I think games like this need to be on bigger screens (like your computer). Playing it on a portable system just makes it harder to find the smaller items...especially if you're like me, and you want to pretend you don't need glasses for games like this. :-)


Monday, April 12, 2010

Video game number one hundred: Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2

Video game review number one hundred in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis".

Game number lucky 100 was a pretty good one. I had a pretty big choice of games to pick while waiting in line to see "An Evening with Kevin Smith" in Portland. I was sitting on the sidewalk, scrunched up against a brick wall (a perfect place to have a DS)...and decided to play this little game, which I had never heard of, but instantly got into.

March of the Minis is a game that reminds me a lot of lemmings, except the lemmings are all Marios. You guide your little Mario around a level by scratching at him with the stylus. You can steer him, jump him and get him to pick up weapons, but...ultimately...he's always going to walk in a straight line if you don't. That means he'll walk right into pits of spikes, or enemies that can kill him in one shot.

In order to stop this massacre and get your peeps home, you must build bridges for your Marios, or run elevator switches for them. You can grab hammers and hit the little enemies that are in your way. Frequently, you'll be asked to multitask and help several Marios along at the same time.

I played until the sun started to set, washing out my DS screen. After that, I put the DS in the trunk of the car and didn't pick it up until about midnight on the drive home. At that point, tired as I was...I still made it through the first 10 levels, progressing to the boss of the first world and moving on to the second world. Around then, I decided it was time to try a new game.

Overall score is 8/10. I like this one as much of most of the DS games I already own and I'd totally buy it next time I was going on a road trip.

Video game number ninety nine: Midway Arcade Treasures

Video game review number ninety nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Midway arcade treasures (PSP version)".

Midway has packed these games up a dozen times on a dozen platforms, but this PSP version is the latest offering for the mobile crowd. This little UMD disk has the following games on it:

720°
Arch Rivals
Championship Sprint
Cyberball 2072
Defender
Gauntlet
Joust
Klax
Marble Madness
Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat 2
Mortal Kombat 3
Paperboy
Rampage
Rampart
Sinistar
Spy Hunter
Toobin'
Wizard of Wor
Xenophobe
Xybots

I'm a big fan of a some of these games, and others....I don't really care about. I'm really disappointed that some of the greatest hits from previous Midway collections weren't included, like Root Beer Tapper, Robotron, Gauntlet, Roadblasters and Super Sprint.

Still, I was in a car when I began playing this one, and there's nothing better than a quick little arcade game on a long car trip. I played Joust first, and noticed that the graphics looked a bit distorted on the PSP screen. I assumed this was because the aspect ratio was stretched to HD, but seriously...how fucking hard is it to make a game like JOUST look right? Can't be that hard.

Even though it was pretty ugly, I enjoyed Joust. The controls were still good and I played a few games of it before moving on to Paperboy. I found this one much harder to control than it was in previous console versions. The bike was VERY difficult to steer, which doesn't make a ton of sense, considering this has been ported many times before.

Mini-tangent: My PSP is my least favorite gaming console that I own, and most of that is because of the bad controls. Playing games on this thing is a chore. It's nice to look at it, but it's awkward to hold. I've always felt that the system needs a second thumbstick if it's ever going to feel like a Playstation. Sony put one stick on there already, I will never understand why they couldn't spring for the second. Games like Katamari Damacy are SCREAMING for it. Games like Paperboy don't need it, but they could benefit from a thumbstick that's slightly bigger than a laptop mouse nub.

Frustrated of crashing in Paperboy, the next game I played with was Klax, which I really enjoyed. Klax is a puzzle game which I first played on my Atari Lynx back in my sophomore year of high school. I was a big fan of the Lynx back then, and to this day, I can't remember ever playing a better surfing game than California Games on the Lynx. It rocked. Klax on the PSP was just like Klax on the Lynx, and I played it until I finally died around the third level.

Next, I played some Spy Hunter. The PSP controls made this the worst version of the game I've ever played. I played through the first level before becoming frustrated and turning the game off altogether. Like Paperboy, Spy Hunter is not fun at all on the PSP, and I again found myself wondering how it's possible to ruin a 30 year old game. I mean, have the people who ported these games ever played the old ones? Do they know how they're supposed to feel? Couldn't they tell this port sucked before they shipped it?

When I finally got to Portland, one of the things we did was hit up the Ground Kontrol bar and arcade. This place is like paradise for someone like me. It's an arcade filled with all the classic games from the 80's (including all of the ones that I had JUST been playing only hours before on my PSP) along with a whole floor of great pinball games. I went through a ton of quarters playing the real stand-ups, and by the time I whipped this PSP game out again, everything felt lame by comparison. I played Rampage and Defender before putting it back into its case and moving on to something else.

Overall score? 5/10. Average and nothing more. There have been ports of these same games in the past where the game is actually improved in some way on the new system. Joust on Xbox Live arcade offer online chat and multiplayer. THIS was cool. The first time they appeared on the PC with leaderboards so you could challenge your friends to high score contests...this was cool. This PSP port just feels like more shovelware with absolutely no effort put into it at all.

Trophies? Not supported, but I got a few high scores on my PSP. Yay.


Video game number ninety eight: God of War 3

Video game review number ninety eight in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "God of War 3".

When I was playing Dante's Inferno last month, I really enjoyed it. I gave it a great review and ended up buying a copy shortly after writing it. Pretty soon, some new DLC will be out for the game adding multiplayer...and I think that will end up making it my highest rated game of the year so far.

This game feels like a Dante's Inferno sequel to me (even though I'm now aware that game is based on this one). When I started playing it, I immediately felt like I was back in that Dante's world, which is a great thing. Of course, there are drawbacks to having played the other one first. I don't have the familiarity with the first two, so right off the bat...I have to say the plot was not as great of a plot as Dante's was. The characters are all various gods, and they're at war with each other (Zeus, Poseidon, etc, etc)...but their motivation seems to be all about revenge. Just not quite as compelling as Dante's quest through the nine circles of hell if you ask me.

So how about the game itself? The controls were easy to pick up, and combat is a lot of fun. The game has a ton of jumping puzzles, which pissed me off because it's very easy to fall and die as you're jumping. I chalk this up to a bad camera, and had to play some parts over and over again before I'd make the jump.

The graphics are gorgeous. The first level sticks you right in the middle of a fight between some HUGE bosses (similar to the ones you find in parts of Dante's Inferno), and there are lots of quick time events where you press a sequence of buttons to pull of brutal kills. The kills ARE brutal too. Lots of impaling, ripping, stabbing, etc. Definitely not a kids game here.

Overall score so far: 8/10. It's not quite Dante's Inferno, but it's REALLY good. I've hardly scratched the surface of this game though, so expect there to be an updated review once I've gotten further. I don't have too many trophies yet...but I plan to keep playing this one. I may even buy it. I'll review more when I finish it. Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Video game number ninety seven: The Outfit

Video game review number ninety seven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "The Outfit".

I woke up a little early this morning and decided to get to work on a new game. Well, not a new one (this was released in 2006) but was a new one for me. The game starts out with a cinematic of a Nazi getting a knife to the forehead, followed by a bunch of paratroopers taking out their camp. Definitely woke me right up. The following cinematics are kind of cool, and it seems like they have some fairly decent voice actors in this one, including Robert Patrick (whose character wears the Terminator glasses, which I thought was awesome).

This game is a third person shooter/strategy title...and reminds me just a bit of a game I reviewed awhile back, Toy Soldiers. I think Toy Soldiers may have borrowed their concept heavily from this one, because I see a lot of elements of The Outfit in the way they do things. You can fight on the ground, but it'll be easier to win if you use your money to buy the right units.

That's right, there's an economy in this game. You earn money by killing Nazis (you should imagine me speaking the rest of this review in the Brad Pitt voice from "Inglorious Basterds" by the way). Every Nazi you kill earns you some sweet, sweet money....which you can spend on more killing machines. Tanks, machine guns, Anti-tank canons, even air strikes can be purchased if you do enough killin.

Ok, that's enough of the Brad Pitt voice.

There's an entire online mode in this one that I'll never get to play, because it's from 2006 and people have long since moved on to other games. That's a shame, because the campaign is pretty fun so far.

The achievements are REALLY tough to get, because they're all objective based. I'm not generally a fan of games that do this. I think that you need to have your achievements spread out evenly. Some should be earned by simply completing your basic campaign, some should be for doing crazy objectives...and then if there are any left over, use them for online. This game splits it's achievements right down the middle, you earn about 50% of them playing through the campaign...and you'll get the other 50% online (which means I can never earn that half). This sucks, but as I've said several times before, this challenge isn't about gamerscore, it's about new games.

Scoring this game is going to be tough. First of all, if this was a 50 dollar game, I would have to give it a much lower rating than I'm about to. I'm actually having quite a bit of fun with it, but at the same time..it has flaws. First of all, it's a four year old game, so the graphics don't stack up against the newer games (including Battlefield Bad Company, which I just started playing yesterday). The offline achievements are annoying, and VERY easy to miss. I had to go back and play the first two levels over again just to get three that I missed the first time around. Not cool.

The save system in this game is also horribly borked. Let's say you know there's an achievement objective coming up and you want to save before it. You can do that, but when you load that save, your character spawns at the very beginning of the level by deafult. You have to walk (or drive) past all the areas you've already conquered, all the way back to where you were before the action resumes again. This bugged me a lot.Last, but not least...I will also never be able to use the online mode. I will admit this is my own fault for trying this game so long after it shipped....but that has to take my score down a bit.

To me, that sounds like a possible five out of ten, right? Not quite. Because this game is four years old, it's also VERY cheap to acquire. Ebgames has it brand new for 6.99, and at that price, it occurred to me that I should compare it to all the recent arcade games I've purchased...including Toy Soldiers. I gave that one an 8/10 and this one is a lot more fun to play offline than that is. However...since online play is not possible, this one is going to end up with a solid seven.

Overall score: 7/10. If only I would have played this one sooner than I finally did, I could have tried out the multiplayer. The campaign is great though, and the strategy elements are cool. Picking this up for 6 or 7 bucks should net you a lot more playtime than most arcade games out there for the same price.

Achievements? Here are the ones I have so far this morning.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Video game number ninety six: Battlefield Bad Company

Video game review number ninety six in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Battlefield Bad Company".

Last month, I played the sequel to this game. I really enjoyed it. It actually made me feel bad that I'd never played the original, so this month I've decided to remedy that. So far, it's not disappointing me. There are definitely some differences between the two games that I'm not a fan of, but overall...it's the same world, and I like that.

First, the good: I enjoy the combat in this game. It's diverse, you don't just shoot ten enemies, walk around a corner and shoot ten more like a lot of shooter games. Sometimes you're fighting armored vehicles, other times you'll go after anti-aircraft guns or maybe a building. There's a lot of comedy in this one (I like how they're all referring to me as the new guy), and it's funny even though I've already played the sequel to completion. On one mission, I was driving down the road in an enemy jeep and Haggard (I think it was Haggard) asks the company who would win in a fight: The car we were driving or Truckasaurus Rex. Later on, near the end of the episode, there's a call back to that joke, which made me laugh. It's not overt, just background conversation which I think gives the game a lot of personality, like the Grunts in Halo.

The bad: Ok, so the missions are longer. Not really for a purpose, but just because I think that's how the game was the first time around. The first one I played felt like it would never end. Had I bought this game brand new a couple of years ago, it would have been a plus...but since I'm only going through to learn the story, it did bug me a bit. The levels in Bad Company 2 are shorter and just as much happens in them.

Thing thing I hate the most about this game is the driving controls. They fixed this in Bad Company 2, but in this game, they're backwards from most games you've driven in. The right trigger does nothing and the gas is on the left. You can always use the "A" button, but by default...this is VERY annoying, and caused me to crash more than a few times when I was surprised by an enemy and trying to quickly hit the brakes or reverse.

The adrenaline shot. Ah yes, this game leans heavily upon this little "health shot" that you carry around and can inject yourself with unlimited amounts of times. It's cool the first time you do it, but eventually...it becomes a crutch. There's no recharge time, you can just stick yourself as many times as you want and be back at 100 health in no time. I'm glad they didn't keep it for the sequel.

Overall Score? 7.5/10 So far. The missions are a LOT longer than the sequel, but they're still fun to play. The game has a slightly slower flow, but it still feels really similar to the new and improved version I just got done playing weeks ago.

Achievements? The achievements don't stack, so if you play this on Hard, you don't automatically get the normal achievements. I decided to go through on normal as a result....and skip hard. I'm not playing for Gamerscore on this one, so it doesn't REALLY bug me...but it would have been nice if they stacked. I have a handful of achievements so far...but I'll be adding more to this review after I beat the game.

Video game number ninety five: Pimp My Ride

Video game review number ninety five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Pimp My Ride".

Ah yes. Pimp My Ride. Here's a game I've been meaning to play since 2006, but somehow...never quite got around to. Today was a good day for it.

Xzibit stars in this very strange game that is sort of based on the TV show. You drive a car around the city, crashing into other cars to earn gold coins. Sometimes you stop and "ghost ride your whip". Sometimes you "cruise" (which is basically driving slowly past a crowd and honking your horn). After you've done this a bunch of times...you finally get to pimp someone's ride. Sort of.

Pimping a ride in this game consists of Xzibit visiting someone's house, just like on the TV show. Of course, because this is a video game...they had to make it interesting...so you pimp rides by driving from shop to shop and playing mini games to buy parts before time runs out. Just in case that wasn't challenging enough, they add a "rival" (who is also pimping a ride for your customer)...and at the end, your customer chooses between the car you pimped and the one your rival pimped.

If the TV show had this feature, it would be cool. Xzibit could take a car to his garage, and then there could be another guy (maybe Jesse James, he could probably use the work right now). They'd each pimp a car and the winner would pick. That would be an interesting show, but it would surely be VERY frustrating to the employees of one of the garages.

In this game, you play the employee in one of the garages. And I pimped a ride, and I lost to the rival. How lame. :-)

Overall score? 3/10. This game has terrible graphics, a silly premise, repetitive goals and generic cars. It's unrealistic, and the only two parts that are even close to the TV show it's named after are when you pick up the car and when you show it to the owner. The rest is just....silly.

Achievements? Here are my two. I believe I got both of these while "Ghost riding a whip" (which means getting out of the car and dancing next to it as it idles down the street in neutral on it's own).

Video game number ninety four: Fifa 10

Video game review number ninety four in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Fifa 10".

I've never claimed to be a big sports fan. I like baseball and football, but I don't paint myself blue for the team or camp out for tickets. These things are strictly reserved for comic conventions (which I do enjoy). When I was 12, I could probably recite the stats of my favorite teams, but these days...I can't do that anymore. It's safe to say though, that I have a good understanding of most professional sports. I'm a casual fan, which means I enjoy watching and sometimes playing certain sports...but I'm not a season ticket holder anywhere or anything.

Over the course of a year, I'll usually see about ten baseball games. I'll go to a football game if I can get some tickets, and I used to go to basketball games before Seattle's NBA team was sold to some poor Okie who didn't bother to look up their win-loss record before he bought the team. When it comes to the "big three" sports, I've got them covered, and I've played video games featuring them all.

There are other sports, which I might have played video games for in the past. Boxing. Tennis. Golf. Bowling. Hockey. Hell...I even played an Olympics game for this challenge a couple of months ago. Still, there's one sport that I've never been interested in playing a game for. Or watching on tv. Or going to a live match for. Or playing. Judging by the game I'm reviewing in this post, can you guess what this sport is?

If you guessed soccer..."GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL".

Fifa 10 is the latest in a series of soccer games by Electronic Arts that I've never cared about. I've never played one of them. As far as I'm aware, I've never met anyone in the United States who has played one of them without being paid to do so as a game tester. In fact, up until a few years ago, I don't even think they released these games in the United States. I think they were exclusive to the rest of the world (or at least all the countries that care about soccer).

Lately though, soccer fever is creeping into our country. Far more disturbing than the expansion of NASCAR (which is pretty disturbing), the spread of soccer means that eventually, someday...I might actually have to learn something about this game. Seattle has a pro-team now (I think they're named the Xbox 360 something or other)...and they sell their tickets out quite often. The day may come when I care, but that day is not today.

This game is exactly what I thought it would be. You kick a ball back and forth, FOREVER...hoping that eventually the game won't end in a tie. The video game is as boring to play as the real life sport is to watch on TV. The only fun I've ever had with real soccer was playing it at recess in 6th grade, or playing the simulator where you kick a real ball into a real net at Gameworks, and then watch your digital character score goals based on how well you kicked it. This game is not as fun as either of those things.

Thankfully, because this is an EA sports title, there are plenty of achievements you can get that have nothing to do with playing the sport itself. I got a few for uploading replays and photos. I got another one for creating an avatar online and downloading it in the game. I got a couple more for kicking practice goals in the "arena" mode. I have to admit, I enjoyed the arena mode, it's pretty fun. Of course, eventually...I played an actual game...and that wasn't so fun. I didn't score a goal once. The computer didn't score a goal once. We just kicked it back and forth, forever...until I finally quit. That's when I knew it was time for me to call it a day with this one.

Overall score: 2/10. It's soccer for God's sake.

Achievements? Look how many I have here, none of which involve playing soccer against another team. Cool, right?

Video game number ninety three: Cabela's Dangerous Hunts

Video game review number ninety three in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Cabela's Dangerous Hunts".

Ok, so I have to admit...for this weekend, I grabbed more than a few games that I knew I wouldn't like. The reason was simple: I'm behind in my 365 games, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Heavy Rain and God of War 3, both of which I rented using Gamefly.

This game was something I figured I'd pick up, complete the first mission of and move on from. Unfortunately, getting an achievement wasn't that easy. I beat the first three missions without unlocking one achievement. At that point, I searched for a guide and realized you had to complete EVERY objective in each mission in order to get the achievement for that level. You can't retry levels (without starting a completely new game save)...so if you miss an optional objective....you've got to start over. That made the game annoying, but that's not why I didn't like it.

This game makes me feel dirty just for playing it.

The Cabela games have always been about hunting, and somehow, they've appealed to enough people to warrant several sequels. I'm not sure who these people are, but I have a feeling they can be found on the People of Wal-Mart website. In this newest version of the game....they've tweaked the premise a bit. Now, the hunts are "Dangerous". Oooooh.

That's right, no longer will you sneak up on a deer with a high powered rifle and try to get the cleanest kill possible, in this sequel..the animals strike back.

In the first mission, you are minding your own business (and by minding your own business, I mean hiding out in Alaska trying to shoot a deer in the middle of a snowfield), when you and your hunting buddy (who is apparently your hunting mentor) are attacked by a bear. As the star of this video game, you're able to fight this bear off with your bare hands (bare hands, get it?)...but your buddy is not so lucky. He dies a tragic death, and you're left without a hunting hero to idolize.

After you've stuffed his corpse and mounted it as a trophy in your house (the bear, not your dead friend) you decide to seek revenge on the animal kingdom by becoming the best hunter on earth. You start your quest in Africa, where your mission is to "Become known". You become known by killing a bunch of endangered species, specifically...lions. Don't worry about that though, because these lions are BAD lions. They will attack you and you'll have no choice but to defend yourself. Sometimes instead of just shooting them, you'll get to have really cool fights with quick time events where you press the correct button to punch the lion in his junk or something.

Eventually when you're done killing nine or ten lions, you go back to your camp...and the lions come after you again. Even though everyone in the camp is holding a rifle, these lions charge in like the fucking grey gorillas in "Congo" and try to eat all of you. Lucky for you, you're now the best hunter on earth and can single-handedly kill em all. That's just mission one. I played through 3 more before getting my first and only achievement in this piece of shit game.

I've got nothing against animals being killed for food (meat is very tasty after all), but turning it into a game seems a little bit sadistic to me. Turning it into a video game....somehow offends me even more. It's like a video game where your job is to help elect Sarah Palin president or something. Much like that fictional concept, I had no desire at all to win this game.

I know video games are exaggerated. For some reason, I have no problem with the ones like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, or the countless adventure games where you're on quest to save the princess who looks like a Playboy playmate. I know I can't rationally explain it, but this game just bugged the shit out of me. It's a fantasy game for hunters. In the world this game creates, the animals are all out to kill you. Instead of being a drunk with a flannel shirt and a pickup drunk, you're a "hero" who runs around the world saving people from vicious animals and collecting their bodies as "trophies". Never mind the fact that most real hunters kill their prey from 50 yards away, while the animal is usually standing still or chewing on some food...in this game, everything is action. The lions are charging you and you have to shoot (or stab) them before they kill you. You're supposed to feel good when you do it, but it just made me grumble about the stupidity of the premise.

Instead of running away from you and your gun (as almost every wild animal would in real life), all the animals you meet in this game will charge and try to eat you. Even after you shoot them once, sometimes they'll chase you down and try to get another bite in before you get the kill shot.

In one level, a brown bear that you're hunting actually causes an avalanche that buries a helpless park ranger. Even though you're 100 feet above the ranger, you are somehow able to escape the avalanche. Having failed to murder you with his avalanche, the bear tries to eat the park ranger instead. I'm going to spoil the plot here, and say that you are able to save the ranger by killing the bear. After you save him, the ranger looks at the dead bear and says: "Is he yours". You pat the dead bear and say: "Yeah, he's mine". Most park rangers would probably just arrest you, but not in this game.

In another level, a plane crashes, and a hot chick with her top three buttons undone is about to be eaten by a giant anaconda. You get there just in time to kill the snake. Your next objective is to find her husband, who is about to be eaten by a jaguar when you finally find him. Luckily, you're there to kill that critter too. The whole game just makes me sick.

My overall score is a 0.5/10. I thought about giving it a zero, which would have meant it tied Blood Bowl as the worst game of the year for me, but that didn't seem right. As much as I hate to admit this....it was still more fun to play than Blood Bowl was, even though I hated it while I was playing it. So yeah, there's where the extra half a point comes in.

Achievement:

The one and only achievement I will ever get in this awful video game:

Video game number ninety two: Fatal Inertia

Video game review number ninety two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Fatal Inertia".

Remember Wipeout for the PS2? This game reminds me of that one, if it lacked the cool music, great graphics and fun gameplay.

Fatal Inertia has you racing these bland little spaceships around beautiful landscapes that were generated by the Unreal Engine. Imagine playing Mario Kart on some of the multiplayer maps from Halo, only without any of the fun of Mario Kart and you've got a vague idea of what this game is like.

The spaceships aren't fun to control. The "gas" button is "A", brake is X (something that I hate in driving games), and the triggers are reserved for doing barrel rolls. Barrel rolls are the move you use if you'd like to crash into mountains, rocks, other spaceships....or occasionally, shake a magnetic weapon off of your ship if you're lucky.

That's right, this is also a "combat racer". The weapons are mostly projectiles (Magnets, rockets, EMPs, and smoke screens). They are all bland and unimpressive, even when you are able to land a direct hit. The one weapon I really enjoyed was the "Cable". Much like Luke Skywalker in the Empire Strikes Back, you can launch your cable at an opponent, tying them to a long string which you can attach to a rock, another ship or your own ship. It's a lot of fun and the physics of this particular weapon are pretty interesting.

Still...at it's heart, this is just a really bland racer with bland combat. The tracks are short (which is nice, because the game is boring)....but even after unlocking several achievements, I wasn't compelled to keep playing after I easily beat the first "cup" of races.

Overall score? 4/10. It would have been a 3, but I played it on April 10th, so I thought that would be a better score for this game.

Achievements:

Video game number ninety one: Heavy Rain

Video game review number ninety in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Heavy Rain".

I have heard nothing but great things about this title, so when I finally got my hands on it today, I was excited. It's been reviewed well by just about every outfit I've seen online...including Penny Arcade, which I almost always trust. I even waited to play it until Heather was awake, because I'd heard it had such a good story that she might want to watch it along with me.

Perhaps you have to be a RPG fan to really love games like this, but I just couldn't get into it. It's true that there's an interesting story here, but in order to participate in it...you have to perform really mundane tasks, which are slow and repetitive. You start out as a father. You get up, you brush your teeth, you take a shower, make a cup of coffee, turn on the music in your living room. Each of these actions involves waggling your controller using the motion sensor, or pressing a series of buttons in perfect order. You do a lot of other stuff by rotating the right stick around. Eventually, when you've completed enough of the day to day stuff....you are rewarded with a little more plot.

This reminded me a lot of the mini-games in Fable 2...where I'd sit there and hammer out swords, or chop wood...sometimes for ten minutes at a time, just to earn enough gold to buy something that I needed. I believe this is called "Grinding". That's what this game feels like.

Of course...with many games that require you to grind, there are also often shortcuts. Heavy Rain is no different. There are a scripted set of events to complete each level, and once I opened up an IGN guide, the game became more fun. Heather read out my objectives to me...and I'd click them off one by one. Whereas the prologue took me nearly an hour to complete...we progressed through the next three levels in half that time. It was a lot more fun this way.

Maybe I have A.D.D, or I lack the patience to slog through combing an entire crime scene for evidence before finding out what happens next in the story. I know that's what bugged me the most about the CSI Game. Still, with the guide...this game got a little more interesting, and I wanted to see what happened next...sort of.

Right now, my overall score stands as about a 6/10. It's something new, which is cool. The story is good. The controls are interesting (not fun, not terrible...just interesting), and with Heather reading the objectives out to me, I have to say...I wanted to keep playing. However, we eventually switched over to some TV, and when I asked if she cared what happened next in the story of Heavy Rain, she didn't really. Neither did I.

I may rent or borrow this again sometime...but it's not a buy, and I'm returning it to GameFly in the hopes I'll get something more interesting in return.

Trophies? I've gotten several, but you can't see what 5 of them are because they are SEKRETS. All you can see is when I unlocked them, so that you know I'm not full of shit when I say I did indeed earn them.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Video game number ninety: Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

Video game review number ninety in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Kane and Lynch: Dead Men".

I've been seeing a lot of previews for Kane and Lynch 2 lately. They are looking pretty darn awesome. So awesome in fact, that they inspired me to play this one...which I somehow missed when it was original released. It was always something I intended to try, but I just never got around to it.

Right off the bat, I thought the story was rather interesting. You're Kane, some kind of convicted felon, who gets broken out of an armored car on the way to jail by other felons. They take you back to their hideout and threaten to kill your family if you don't work for them. They assign Lynch to work with you. You fight with the cops, and in the second mission I completed...you break into a bank.

It's a really cool premise that is unfortunately messed up by some really awkward controls. This game is primarily a shooter...and shooting people is one of the most annoying parts of the game. It's slow, aiming is awkward...you can have your target right on the enemy and sometimes no damage will register. It's just frustrating.

Overall? 4/10. All four points are for the story...but the game itself was annoying as hell to play. I wanted to see what happened next, but frankly...I couldn't get immersed in the plot because I kept getting angry at the stupid controls. I'm a little behind in my 365, and I don't have time for a game that is this annoying to play. Perhaps I'll watch all the mid-level movies online (or read a wikipedia synopsis of the rest of the plot) and then give Kane and Lynch 2 a try when that comes out. Only way I'd go back to this one is if I literally had nothing else I wanted to play first, and that's hardly the case right now.

Achievements? Dos.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Video game number eighty nine: The Incredible Hulk

Video game review number eighty nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "The Incredible Hulk".


December 26th, 2007:

Interior: A drab conference room, there are white boards on the walls filled with illegible text. 12 middle-aged executives are sitting around a giant conference table, drinking coffee and having a discussion about their new Hulk movie tie-in game. Six of them are participating in the meeting, the other half are checking email on their laptop, texting or chowing down on some of the free food that catering has brought in for the meeting.

Executive 1: Marvel says they need this game to ship at the same time the movie comes out.

Executive 2: That leaves us with exactly 16 months to develop a game for it.

Producer: 16 months, eh? Can we double my staff, lease some new office space and authorize the vendors to hire some extra folks to program for us?

Executive 3: Actually, Ed Norton's agent says he's in for the voice acting. So are Liv Tyler and Tim Roth. We are this close to getting William Hurt. That's right. William fucking Hurt. You're welcome. So, anyway....this is great for your game, but we're also going to have to chop your budget by about 50% to pay those salaries.

Producer: So you're telling me we have 16 months and only 50% of my budget to make this game.

Executive 4: Correct.

A cell phone rings. The ringtone is "Stronger" by Kanye West. You know, because it's 2007 and that song is a big hit at the moment.

Executive 5: (Loudly). "Scuse me guys, I gotta take this. It's the guys who made the Iron Man game. They're talking tie-in".

Executive 1: Awesome, people love tie ins! Anyway, look...there's already a script for the movie, and we get to see it a whole 3 months ahead of the release date! All you guys have to do is follow the script and you've got your game, right?

Executive 2: Besides, how complicated could it be to make a Hulk game? He's a green guy, and he smashes things.

Executive 6: What if we took a slightly different direction with this game? Perhaps the Hulk could solve mysteries like those CSI games? I really like those CSI Games.

Executive 2: He could do puzzles.

Executive 3: Like Bejeweled?

Executive 2: Bejeweled is awesome. And all the gems could be shades of green and purple!

Executive 3: I don't think that would work for people who are color blind, though.

Executive 6: What if he drove cars? Or tanks? Or a giant truck?

Executive 3: What if that truck turned into a robot?

Executive 1: Like Optimus Prime? Now you're talking. People love tie-ins! Get Michael Bay on the phone.

Executive 4: I've got two words for you: "Jet Pack"

Executive 2: For who? For the Hulk?

Executive 4: Yeah. He's already a high jumper, but what if he could fly around the city? Jet Pack games are going to be hot next year.

Executive 3: What if the Hulk flew a big plane instead? What if the plane could transform and into a mech and fight?

Executive 1: Like Starscream! I'll add that to my notes for the Michael Bay call.

Producer: Guys, guys, guys. Slow down. We've only got 16 months and half the budget of our last Hulk title. These ideas sound fun, but I think we're going to have to keep this one centered around the Hulk smashing things.

Executive 6: No transforming trucks?

Producer: No trucks.

Executive 2: No gem puzzles?

Producer: No gem puzzles.

Executive 1: So cancel the call with Michael Bay then?

Producer: We probably want to cancel the call with Michael Bay.

Executive 1: What about the tie ins? We gotta have the tie ins. People love those!

Producer: We'll work on a tie-in.


Fast forward to April 3rd, 2010. I've just gotten done playing this masterpiece for a few hours.


My two word review: HULK SMASH!


Overall score: 5/10. Exactly what you expected. There are no puzzles, or jet packs, or transforming trucks...or anything that might surprise you. Instead, you run around in a sandbox that somewhat resembles New York City. You smash things. You repeat. FOREVER. Nothing can kill you, unless you suck. The plot is loosely based on the movie, but most of the time...you just run from point A to point B, smashing things. If you get tired of running, you can jump. If you get tired of jumping, you can always take the subway. Yes, the Incredible Hulk can take the subway. Oh yes, and there's an Iron Man tie-in. People love those.


Achievements. I got three. I suppose I could always smash some more stuff if I want more.

Video game number eighty eight: Iron Man

Video game review number eighty eight in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Iron Man".

I decided to start off my Saturday with a couple of Marvel games. The first one I picked was Iron Man, because, well...I really liked the movie.

This game doesn't exactly follow the story of the movie. Instead, they went with adding a bunch of twists that make it more video game friendly. You do a lot more battling in the suit, which I suppose is why most people bought the video game. Of course, if you're going to fight in the suit, it ought to be fun . Personally, I wasn't a fan of the controls in this one. The weapons are powerful, but very hard to aim...and the flying just feels silly. If you're looking for better game, check out my review of Dark Void. Personally, I find that game to be a much better example of what a jet pack fighting game should feel like, and Iron Man just feels awkward and clumsy by comparison.

The first level you play, you're in the caves from the movie (sort of)...and you've built your clunky "fire" suit. By the next level, you have the Mark II armor, and you can fly and use repulsor beams. This is all well and good as far as instant progress goes, except it's not a lot of fun to play. I kept crashing Iron Man into the ground, buildings or sometimes whatever enemy I was trying to fight.

I don't know what I was expecting from a movie tie-in game, but this one just certainly sucks. Time to go visit the Hulk.

Overall Score? 3/10. The graphics were ok, and the voice acting is good (Robert Downey Jr. does his own work, and the sound-alikes for the rest of the cast aren't terrible). That's where my compliments for it end though, the rest of it is sort of shitty. I've played over 75 games this year that are better than this one. :-)

Achievements? They're not terribly hard...but honestly, this game sucks so bad it's not worth chasing after them.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Video game number eighty seven: Karaoke Revolution

Video game review number eighty seven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Karaoke Revolution".

I'm not writing sentence one of this review until I ask a question: Why the hell is this game called "Karaoke Revolution"?

Karaoke Revolution was a game I played for the original Xbox over half a decade ago.



Then a year or two later, the sequel for it came out. I bought that one too.





I know these games both existed, because they're still sitting on the floor downstairs in my rec-room, stacked up next to my DDR games and my original Xbox, which is hooked up to a large CRT television in my "Man cave". Every once in awhile, someone will boot up the old Xbox at a party....and Karaoke revolution or DDR still gets a little play.

Karaoke Revolution was a great game. Between those two titles and Dance Dance Revolution, Konami pretty much had the "music game" market cornered until Guitar Hero came along. Suddenly, dance mats and microphones got put in storage and everyone bought a plastic guitar. Then Rock Band came along with some drums, re-introduced the microphone and created what has become the ultimate party game. Karaoke Revolution, the game that started it all was somehow forgotten......until last year when they decided to release a new one...with the same damn name. I suppose that these days, this is called a "reboot". It bugs me a little though. I feel like by not calling it "Karaoke Revolution 3", they sort of ignored their legacy, which was completely awesome.

Putting this nitpicking aside, I picked up the 2009 version of Karaoke Revolution and popped it in. Right off the bat, this game shows promise. You can make your own singers (just like Guitar Hero and Rock Band), but there are a TON of options. You don't have to unlock shit, it's just there. Make your person look however you want, then dress them however you want. You don't have to play through 50 songs before your character looks cool. But wait...there's more.

You can design the venues.

This is a fucking cool feature that I've never seen a music game implement before. You can set the venue (I put mine in a place that looked like the Gorge amphitheater in George, WA), then you can build a stage with whatever features you want. Mine had about 20 giant TV screens, a couple of light shows, a giant Vegas sign in the background, and spaceships flying around behind the singer. If your favorite band came out on a stage like the one I made, you would probably shit your pants right there at the concert. The stage I made would be so awesome that you'd have to listen to all your favorite songs from the bathroom (because you'd be stuck in there with your shitty pants).

Anyway...as cool as this stuff is, ultimately, it's all in the background. A good music game seems to rise or fall by three things: The music library, the controls and the game modes. This game is average in those areas. The set list is pretty diverse (it has some great songs you can't find in the other music games out there). Some rock, some pop, some 80's, and...quite a few songs in spanish. Still, even though there's a lot to choose from, the library simply can't compete with Rock Band, but that's because MTV isn't backing them. It's still got a lot of stuff that Rock Band wouldn't think about putting into their game...and that's a good thing.

The game controls like all the old karaoke revolution games did. You can adjust volume and stuff with the controller, pick songs...but the rest is vocals. I sang myself hoarse playing through a bunch of the career mode....and I've got a long way to go.

Career mode is made up of "full songs", "short songs" and "melodies" which I think are awesome. You pick any three songs (or the computer picks them for you), and the game mixes them into a little melody you'll have to sing. This was a lot of fun.

In Quickplay, you can play by yourself, or as a "party" with friends. You can choose characters for anyone who happens to be hanging around, and play either cooperatively or competitively against them. I imagine it's a lot of fun, but in the interests of writing a good review, I didn't wait for my next party to mess with this feature. Instead, I booted the multiplayer, selected a 3 song set and sang all three by myself just to get the achievement. :-)

Overall, this game is a lot of fun. It's too bad it is probably on bargain shelves by now. The singing in this game is just as fun as Lips, Rock Band or Guitar Hero, and the stuff they've done with character and stage creation is more innovative than anything the bigger games have to offer. The only area where this game suffers is from it's limited music library. I can't blame the developer for this, they're the underdog now...and they can't pay for the kind of licenses Activision, Microsoft and Harmonix can. Still, with what they could get....they put together a nice little library of songs.

My overall score for this one is a solid 7.5. I'd score it higher, but I know if I was having a party, there's probably no way I'd convince people to play this instead of Rock Band. For me, this is going to be a solo-mission...and that's never as much fun as multiplayer, as far as music games are concerned.

Achievements? I unlocked all of these myself, singing about 20 songs before I had no voice left at all.

Video game number eighty six: Backyard Football 2010

Video game review number eighty six in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Backyard Football 2010".

I have to be honest. I played this one for the achievements.

Yes, I have this whole "365 games in 365 days" thing going, but there's nothing wrong with picking up a quick 1000 gamerscore along the way if it's not going to take much effort. It's like...if you're headed to your friend's house to hang out, and they call you on your cell phone and say "Hey, while you're out...could you pick up a pizza? I'll pay for it." You were already on a trip, and someone's offering to add free pizza to the adventure, if you can spare a few extra minutes of your time. How can you turn that down? The 1000 gamerscore in this game was like a large pepperoni from Giordanos in Chicago, staring me right in my eyeball. All I had to do to get it was take a game I was going to play anyway and game the system a bit. All in all, it took me an extra 15 minutes over the 30 or so I had planned in investing in this one. To me, that was an acceptable way to spend an extra 15 minutes.

This game was made for children...or adults with the mentality of children...OR adults with silly, childlike obsessions about things like gamerscore. It will probably please all three demographics. It's a football game, with real NFL players....but for some reason, they're all little munchkins. It seems like the kind of game that should be on the Wii. There's nothing wrong with games like this, if you're a little kid. As an adult, you just feel sort of silly playing them.

I actually thought the game was sort of fun, the plays are simple enough to pick, it's easy to control your players....and the announcers are kind of funny. The achievements I was going for were easy enough that I didn't have to deviate from normal gameplay too much. Still, if I want to play a football game, I'll probably stick with the Madden series. In fact, I should probably add the newest Madden to my list of games to play (because I haven't tried it yet).

I'm going to have a tough time scoring this one...because I didn't take it seriously at all. This game is a joke. If you want some gamerscore, rent this one and get it. It'll take you less than 30 minutes to get all of it, and that's if you're playing against the stupid AI. Plug in a second controller, and you could potentially get it all in about 10 minutes.

If you have a child...I think this might be a fun game for them. You might even enjoying playing with them. But unless you ARE a child, or buying games for one...you should probably steer clear. This is football for babies.

Overall Score? 5/10. Average. It's not bad, but it's not good either. If you're not going to get it for the points or get it for the kids...then you should skip it.

Achievements? Why yes..I got a few. This took me about 30-45 minutes.



P.S. The Rusher achievement was the only one I thought was kind of hard. I actually said "fuck" once or twice when my pint sized Peyton Manning was sacked by some 3rd rate Seahawks linebacker.

Video game number eighty five: Moto GP 09/10

Video game review number eighty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Moto GP 09/10".

Hello Moto.

One of the first two games on Xbox Live for the original Xbox was Moto GP. I played the shit out of that one. I'm not sure if it was because being on the Xbox Live beta was the most awesome thing ever, or because the game was cool...but I just remember that being one of the most fun racing experiences of all time. MotoGP 06 came along and totally screwed the pooch. I hated that game. I bought it, thinking it was going to be awesome...and it ended up sitting on my shelves getting dusty until I sold it for a couple of bucks on Ebay.

I was hesitant to try Moto GP 09/10, even for this challenge...because I still have bad memories of that stupid 2006 version. Every review I've read said they fixed the controls, so I was hopeful enough to give it a shot. It's not a bad game at all.

It takes awhile, but you get used to the Left stick/B-Button braking (for your front and back wheels). You get used to leaning forward to speed up and leaning the bike on turns. It's not as "arcadey" as the original MotoGP, but it's a lot of fun just the same. I played some online games, I played a little bit of the career...and I even beat the 125cc class in the arcade mode (which took me several hours). This game definitely has good parts.

Of course, with the good..there must be bad. First of all, you have to unlock everything...which is grindy as hell. Want to play with the fast bikes? Too bad. Even in the arcade mode, they are not unlocked from the beginning...you have to play through entire seasons to get to them. That meant that I could never go faster than 140mph or so (and I know there are bikes in this game that go over 200, because there's an achievement for going that fast).

The second thing about the game that annoyed me was that in the career mode, it's all about simulation. You have to hire staff, pick your rider, train them...PAY them, and then you have to do all sorts of practice runs and qualifying matches to raise your reputation. It might sound interesting to someone who likes sims, but to me...it was just a lot of racing the same track 3 times in a row (practice, qualifier and race), which was annoying.

Overall...it's about a 6/10. Above average, but nothing to rush out and own. It's a rental to see if you like it, and if you do...it's probably worth buying. In my opinion, it's better than MotoGP '06, but I can't imagine anything being quite as fun as the original. Actually, I can...it was called "Road Rash" and it came out on the Sega Genesis. Someone should remake that thing for Xbox Live Arcade, complete with updated graphics. Man, I'd pay 20 bucks for that in a heartbeat. :-)

Achievements? Yes...I played through this quite a bit. Took me several hours to get all these, but I did have fun while I was trying.