Hot chick on the cover? Check. Kind of resembles the Baroness from GI Joe? Double Check. Guns? Check – check her feet too, cause those high heels are packing heat too. Wait, what? From the get-go, you know this isn’t going to be a normal shooter. But just how far down the rabbit-hole does it go? Come with me for an interesting journey.
To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game. On the surface, it looks like Devil May Cry and God of War thrown together, mixed in with a few of the more “respectable” character models from the Dead or Alive series for good measure. In other words, it had the potential for being something very entertaining, or something that felt like it’s been done to death a hundred times before, and that within minutes I would be turning off my Xbox and tossing the game and case back into the Give to Friends I Don’t Really Care About pile of games.
But along comes one of the most over-the-top, guns-blazing, unforgettable prologues I have every experienced in my 20 plus years of gaming. Without warning, you are thrown into what in most other games would be the lead-up battle to a boss fight, with seemingly endless wave after wave of enemies, just asking to be executed in the most over-the-top style you can imagine. Of course, at this point, you have had no proper introduction to the control system or special move-list, so you are basically pulling off random combos and incredibly well animated visceral executions without knowing how or why you are doing so. Did I mention that this was all happening on the face of a giant clock tower – as it is careening end over end down the face of mountain? Bayonetta is a game that reaches through the 4th wall, grabs you by your face and screams “can you hear me now?” as loud as possible, while punching you repeatedly about the head and neck.
The art style for the game is very unique as well, which fits the over-the-top in-your-face atmosphere, from having still photo spreads for cutscenes (which are actually still images from a roll of film, interestingly enough) with the dialogue played over the images, to full out game-engine animated scenes mixed up to keep you on your toes. Bayonetta herself is apparently the last Witch on the planet, and has just woken up from a 500 year nap at the bottom of a lake, and is on a mission to find her memory and cause general havoc and chaos for the good guys – or bad guys, in this case. Every singles enemy in the game is an “angel”, replete with glowing halo’s over their heads, and your job is to eradicate them in the most awful and punishing ways possible. You even have the option of executing Punishment and Torture attacks, such as summoning an Iron Maiden to crush and destroy your enemies, or at later stages when you have improved your magic abilites, calling larger than life demons to eradicate all the enemies around you. Read more…
I’m going to get something off my chest right out of the gate: I haven’t been a fan of baseball nor baseball videogames for the last decade or so. Watching the game can be downright boring, and playing a virtual representation seems to result in little more than timing mini-games and a few button presses.
Then along comes Visual Concepts’ MLB 2K10. For the first time since I last held aloft a piece of lumber, here’s a video game that actually made me feel like I was playing the game again. Everything feels crisp, clean, and connected – as if you are actually on the mound dueling with the batter, desperately trying to keep the sweat out of your eyes as you look down another full count with the bases loaded.
The presentation of the 2K10 is spot on, from the commercial bumpers during the telecast, to the voiceovers calling the shots during the games themselves. Having spent enough time running bases and trying to make double plays, I have yet to hear a repeat canned soundbite, which was a great surprise and welcome change from previous years’ entries. You get the best of both worlds from Visual Concepts’ setup – all of the stats and random personal facts that hardcore hardball fans crave, but enough of the “seen on TV” presentation that it flows wonderfully into you actually stepping into the batter’s box to see just how far you can crank that sliding fastball.
Your options for gameplay seems to have improved significantly as well. You can play any MLB game currently being played, or set up to be played on a specific day through MLB Today. It’s always fun to see if you can do a better job than the big boys at there own game (or feel as humbled as they do when things don’t exactly work out the way you wanted them to). Home Run Derby is included, and is pretty much exactly what it claims to be: hit homers, anything else is an out, get the most points. My Player is the heart of the game, and you’ll definitely find yourself spending the majority of time grinding away through this mode. You create a rookie phenom, pick your favourite franchise to be drafted into, and then set off to try to become an MLB legend. Read more…
For the most part, sequels of any medium, be they film, novel or video game, have a few important items to address on a checklist: better developed characters, a more enticing story, new locations, and most importantly, a sense of polish and completeness that the original, while perhaps something new and unique, was unable to be fully realized for any number of reasons.
Assassin’s Creed II manages to not only address all of these issues, but manages to throw out the entire list and make you wonder just how far the inevitable sequel will be able to go from this point.
Anyone familiar with the first Assassin’s Creed is aware of the ongoing war between the Assassins and the Templars. The story picks up immediately where the first game left off, with you starting out in the shoes of Desmond Miles. Luckily, this is quickly rectified, and you are whisked away to the Renaissance, landing in the middle of 15th century Italy. Immediately, the sense of history, structure and life that flows through the city streets is instantly believable, immersing you in the reality of the game world. Merchants sweep the walkways in front of their stores, businessmen walk the streets with an entourage in tow, all the while engaged in private conversations. Doctors and artists hawk their wares to the passing crowds, some of who even stop in for a quick peek before returning to their chore of the moment. The cities feel alive in a way that the first game lacked, and each character walking the streets is unique – very rarely will you see a repeat costume or face in the same block of cobblestone walkways.
What helps to bring these vistas to life is the fantastic musical score. From haunting melodies to angelic choirs, the music fits the scenery as well as the action throughout the entire world. Attempting to scale to the top of a church tower results in both an uplifting and equally haunting rise in the score, making the sequence feel scripted, even though you are in complete control of when and where you choose to start climbing, or even if you decided halfway up to perform a swan dive into a conveniently-placed ox-cart; and even then, the sound design doesn’t fail. Dive off a high enough ledge, and you hear the wind whistle past your ears, and your clothes begin to flutter faster and harder the longer you fall. It is this attention to detail that helps fully realize the world in which Ezio lives, and immerses you in a way that few other games have been able to do. Read more…
Another big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. Another tie-in video game. But this one has James Cameron’s name on the box, so it can’t be that bad, right?
To be fair, I had very low expectations for James Cameron’s Avatar – The Video Game. It immediately brought back horrific memories of playing through another movie tie-in videogame with a title as long as my forearm (Peter Jackson’s King Kong The Movie The Game). It has always amazed me that a videogame form of a film seems to need the suffix “The Game” tagged on to the end of the title, as if the general public wouldn’t be able to figure out that the product they are currently holding, which may say Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo on it, isn’t actually the film that’s currently in theatres, but a game based on said film. But I digress….
If you’re expecting any kind of spoilers about the movie from this game, you won’t find them. The game is set two years prior to the events of the film, and you play a forgettable character that really doesn’t matter. You have a wide range of choices at the start of the game as to your gender and race, but this has no affect on the rest of the game, as you soon become a nameless grunt stuck on both sides of the ensuing conflict on the planet of Pandora. The basic story is similar to that of the film in that the humans are on Pandora and the Na’vi don’t really appreciate them, but since this is a few years prior, things are a little less established, and the invading human force hasn’t set up such a large presence – at least, not yet.
Through the main arc of the game, you progress to fighting with the humans and then with the Na’vi, eventually allowing you to make moral choices as to which side of the conflict you feel more at home with. The problem with this is that the game makes it very hard to side with the technologically-inferior Na’vi, especially when you can pilot mech suits, use rocket launchers and flamethrowers when you’re human, and on the flipside use bows and arrows and command bees. Bees? Really? I think I know which side I’m going to be sticking with, thanks.
Like blood? No… I mean, do you REALLY like blood?
If you answered yes, and also have a fancy for dragons, fantasy, compelling story, in depth character evolution, complete voice acting, and a really really long story that I believe Bioware’s Edmonton office has created the perfect game for you. Read more…
In yet another case of The Music vs. Acitivision, No Doubt are filing a lawsuit against the makers of Band Hero.
The suit contends the game “transformed No Doubt band members into a virtual karaoke circus act,” and the use of the band members’ avatars far exceeded anything agreed upon in the contract, according to the Los Angeles Times. One aspect of the game allows players to manipulate their characters into singing songs by other artists, for example having lead singer Gwen Stefani sing “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones.
“While No Doubt are avid fans of the Rolling Stones and even have performed in concerts with the Rolling Stones, the Character Manipulation Feature results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes,” the complaint reads.
The complaint also claims Activision withheld information on the Character Manipulation Feature, and allegedly told the band after they had requested to the have the function disabled that it would be too expensive to do so.
The pig skin never looked so good
I’ve never been a huge fan of football (American football for those reading overseas). I never enjoyed playing it in the real world, I never enjoyed watching it. But playing it digitally was always a blast. My first Madden experience was on my original Gameboy in 1996, and would you believe it spoke? Like real audible words!
Now, before I dive into the game, I wanted to point something out. Madden 10 is not for someone who doesn’t understand the finer details of football. You can get by with basic knowledge, and with the help of the Madden quiz, practice, and the virtual trainer included in the title, you can pick it up very quickly. Just don’t expect to buy the game, read the manual and kick ass online. Read more…
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? It’s something I ask of all my readers… I just like the sound of it.
And with that not-so-obscure reference, we begin our review of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is the best game of 2009. Yes, I am saying that in October.
I have been drooling over this game for months now, and anxiously anticipating doing this review. Now, as much as I would like to give an unbiased and honest review of Batman: Arkham Asylum, that is impossible. I am a huge Batman fanboy (Batboy?) and although this will be a fair and balanced review, I am obviously biased in some respects. I mean, I am literally wearing a Batman T-shirt right now, and not even for the purpose of this review. Just ‘cause, suckers. Read more…
Jordan had the opportunity recently to preview the latest big name from Bungie as he took out covenant scum with some of the best in Halo 3: ODST exclusively for the Xbox 360 out now. I guess dropping into hell feet first ain’t so bad.
There are two things I have never done. 1) I have never gotten so into a sporting event that I yelled for (or at) a team or player. 2) I have never gotten so into a video game that I jumped up, yelled at the screen, and swore. NHL 10 for the Xbox 360 made me do both, and I have to admit, I liked it.
I’ve never been an emotional gamer, and I’ve never been that much into sports (then again, as a Canadian, I feel there’s a default certain level of national pride we all share with hockey), but when playing as the Toronto Maple leafs and winning 2-1 on game seven against Ottawa for the Stanley Cup and with less than 1 minute left in the third period you can’t help but get a little into it when Ottawa scores the tying goal with seconds left on the clock. Yes, I jumped up, yes my voice got loud and shrill, and yes I did say some things that would make a sailor blush. I think this was the most rewarding aspect of NHL 10, that after 17 past NHL titles, EA still has what it takes to make a casual hockey fan into a raving sports fanatic, and I didn’t see it coming. Read more…
In early 2006 Harmonix split ways with the Guitar Hero series and went off with MTV to create Rock Band leaving Activision to contract Neversoft to re-build the game that Harmonix arguably perfected. This move marked the day that split the plastic instrument community right down the middle.
While some people saw no problem with the direction that Guitar Hero went in there is a hardcore contingency of people that would like nothing more than to see Guitar Hero vanish into obscurity and let Harmonix’s Rock Band franchise rule supreme. It has been said that ever since Rock Band was released Guitar Hero has been scrambling to avoid doing just that by “ripping off” Rock Band any chance they get. Well if that’s the case then on September 1st, 2009 they finally caught up. Read more…
Once again, we are presented with not only a movie tie-in game, but another reboot of a product from the 1980s – G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero. Except this time, the subtitle is The Rise of Cobra. Which is interesting, and a let down at the same time. What makes this interesting is that the writers of this particular adventure had the option of reworking characters many of us grew up with and expanding on their history and tenuous (at best) relationships which had been established within the G.I. Joe universe. The let down however, was that they chose to completely ignore that option, and instead push another lackluster, under-developed game out the door in time to coincide with a summer movie release, and pray that the name alone would trump up some sales numbers. Read more…
I still remember the summer when Guitar Hero 2 came out. It was a summer not unlike this one. The sun was hot and the air was clear, but I did not go outside. I stayed in and worked my way through career mode on medium, then hard, and then expert. Would you believe, I started impressing girls with my button-shredding abilities?
Video game fans, take my advice. Stay in this season and hone your fake guitar skills with Activision’s Guitar Hero: Smash Hits. Some may scoff at this newest entry, a compilation of the greatest hits from previous guitar hero releases, but the core gameplay remains tight and challenging as ever. The tracks have been taken from Guitar Heroes 1, 2 and 3, with entries from Rock the 80′s and Aerosmith. All of the tracks are now playable by the whole band – guitar, bass, vocals and drums – just as in Guitar Hero World Tour. The selection features lots of reliable favourites, but like the rest of the series there’s a heavy weighting on classic rock and metal. Read more…
Wolfenstein, the first, first person shooter I ever played has come back with an all new story, new powers, and yes, zombie Nazis. But do powers, a unique story and zombies really make a game great? I figured since I have history with this title that I would put it upon myself to find out by writing up a full review about Wolfenstein on the Xbox 360, below see what I thought.
Taking place during Nazi Germany during WWII, Wolfenstein focuses on the paranormal studies both the Nazi’s and the allies looked into. Experiments using a Dark Force known only as the Black Sun are extremely close to giving Nazi’s the power needed to rule the world and all that stands in the way of total domination is a spunky young American soldier known lovingly as BJ. A straight up WWII FPS for the first few minutes, players quickly see where this game veers off course into a sci-fi shoot-em-up with everything from space-aged weaponry to zombie Nazis, what more could a gamer ask for?
BJ has a number of weapons at his disposal, from melee attacks using his gun butts and shovels, to occult powers of the veil and a mysterious amulet that lets him use and recharge his powers. These powers are somewhat out of place, but give the title a little more depth to the already shallow story. With the ability to see an alternate world around him (complete with exploding freaky metroid type monsters only you can see), slow down time, create a shield, strengthen bullets, and more you will find yourself constantly utilizing these powers (more than I would have liked), and constantly looking for pools to refill your veil energy. Like Wolverine’s feral sense, Spiderman’s spidey sense, and Batman’s … bat sense? You will find yourself playing through most of the game in veil view, taking away from the graphics and textures… which might not actually be a bad thing.
andPOP was given a special opportunity to have a look at EA NHL 10 which comes out very shortly. Jordan and Josh spoke with Patrick Kane and John Tavares about being on the cover, and also had a quick play of the game. What we can say is it’s the best EA NHL game yet!
Less Than Meets The Eye
Normally, video game tie-ins to blockbuster movies suffer rush-to-release, loosely-based-on, terribly-voiced products. In all of these categories, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen excels. Once the disc starts spinning up, you get the standard “voice-over to bring you up to speed” cinematics. Which would be tolerable, except Peter Cullen sounds completely bored out of his mind, and is just waiting to see the recording light in the studio shut off so he can go home. Not the best way to get the player into the mood for what follows. Although, it is an honest measure of things to come.
From a technical standpoint, Revenge builds on the original Transformers game, itself a tie-in to the 2007 film. There were numerous issues with the original, from poor environment detailing, shoddy controls, boring missions and a general lack of feeling like you are controlling a 30 foot mechanical behemoth. In Revenge, you have much better looking character models, almost identical in scale and detail as their movie counterparts, and you have decent enough environments to play around in. The most inconvenient thing is that you are always forced to remain within the confines of a pre-determined “action zone”, and there is simply no way to escape it. See a neat skyline in the background of Shanghai? Forget it – you’re stuck in the same quarter-mile block of identical buildings, fighting identical looking robot drones. Read more…
Marcus, Dom, and all the Locust hordes you could ever hope for are back in what I would like to call the Ultimate Gears 2 collection. Unfortunately I am not allowed to name these DLCs so instead, Gears of War 2 would like to proudly present the All Fronts Collection.
The Gears of War 2: All Fronts Collection is exactly that, a collection of every GoW2 map add on to date. With this collection, the over 5 million gamers who have clashed with the Horde since it’s launch last fall will not only get access to the Flashback map pack, not only get access to the Combustible Map pack, not only get access to the Snowblind map pack, but also get access to the brand new Dark Corners map pack as well as the elusive deleted campaign chapter entitled Road to Ruin. That’s right, a chapter campaign and 19 maps are being released in the All Fronts Collection this July 28th, for 1600 MS points. For those of you who have been keeping up with the horde and already have Flashback, Combustible, and Snowblind; the Dark Corners map pack with Road to Ruin chapter will be available by itself for 1200 MS points. Now that the general details of this glorious package have been taken care of, let’s move onto the details of the All Fronts Collection and revitalize one of the best titles of last fall. Read more…
This review marks a number of firsts for andPOP. It’s the first time I’m reviewing a Disney title, it’s the first game I get to play and write about before the official launch date, and it’s the first game I’ve ever reviewed… in 3D! That’s right, today I’ll be reviewing, nay, PREVIEWING Disney’s G-Force video game on the PlayStation 3; talking about what I liked, what bugged me, and all the interesting cute little things guinea pigs do that now freak me out when I see them in real life. With the movie comes out this Wednesday on July 22nd, and the game being released July 24, this is your first look into the inner workings of a super secret group of spy rodents. Read more…
This was one title I was excited for, for a while. Not because any of the press releases talking about its sandbox dealings and all the cool powers, but just because of the sheer bad-assery this game exudes. After popping Prototype in for my initial test drive, I got all giddy from the intro trailer alone! Dude jumps off a building, cuts people in half, survives an explosion, and more… in the first 30 seconds of the game!
So as those who have been following gaming news might guess, this game shares a few similarities to the recently released inFAMOUS, while I assume this to be poor timing, it is most unfortunate that everyone playing these two games will begin by comparing them directly. While some parts are uncanny copies, for example the introduction of inFAMOUS has Cole in the centre of a giant catastrophe, no one knows what happened or why and why this one guy is the sole survivor and has all these powers, but they think he’s a threat and is labelled the most dangerous terrorist in the United States. Ditto for Alex Mercer in Prototype. I think this is where the majority of similarities end. Read more…