Last week the doors closed at the biggest video game expos? there is, E3, for another year. I must admit almost with a bit of disappointment that at the moment there seems to be no true battle going on right now between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Why do I say this? The reason is simple:
Nintendo absolutely dominated.
First lets look at the two other main contenders starting with Xbox 360. Obviously it?s the most powerful system available right now as it chose to get a head start with an early release. Playing the system right now can only be described as beautiful thing, as at the very least, it provides a graphics euphoria. But if you ask me, there hasn?t been a launch-title or anything since the X360?s release to make me slam the pricey system on my visa. And so, I anticipated seeing that one game that was going to make me consider going into debt.
I actually saw a couple: Halo 3, Superman Returns and Grand Theft Auto IV. That last one there, is a crucial one. Gone are the days when the GTA series was exclusive to Sony. It would seem the developer Rockstar understands they can get the most bang for their buck by buddying up with Microsoft. So then, how exactly is Sony stepping up to the plate?
Oh now I remember, they didn?t step up to the plate. Sure, there was Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Devil May Cry and ? this is a big one ? Final Fantasy XIII, but I was expecting to see a bit more of the innovative ideas promised to the current PSP owners; namely how PSP and PS3 will interact with one another. Alas, only the good people at Nintendo had something innovative to show.
Last week I finally decided to rent a copy of Metroid Prime: Echoes and I was extremely happy with the experience. It was the kind of feeling you get from finally watching one of those movies that everybody tells you, ?oh my god, I can?t believe you?ve never seen it.? The details, design, incredible bosses and gameplay had me really thinking I might have been too hard on the old Gamecube lately. I cannot stress this enough, the game is simply brilliant and a rare union between art and video gaming. Indeed, after watching some of the videos of people playing Metroid 3 with the wii-mote it has become clear to me that Nintendo is coming, guns blazing.
While the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy are more than worthy of mention, also, the genuine innovation that is the wii-mote, there is no doubt in my mind that there is one title guaranteed to take the Wii to the top: Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This game alone is worthy of a column for itself and that is what it is going to get: tune in next week.
I will close in saying that yes, Nintendo dominated E3, but as I have said time and time again, they are very good at hyping things up, so keep that in mind. Game trailers make a strong case but when push comes to shove I can think of plenty of times Nintendo has failed me. Nevertheless, even true cynics like me cannot deny the veracity of the Wii?s potential and even at this early point I do not expect to be disappointed.
Nintendo announced the official name of its next-generation console last week:
It?s pronounced, we. Not why or wih but we. Now, I recall really coming down hard on Nintendo in one of my first columns and I recall receiving a ton of angry reader feedback from Nintendo enthusiasts. Before I start my merciless onslaught against this atrocity of a name I?d really just like to take a minute here to make a sort of pre-emptive comment to those same Nintendo fans and anyone else who?s going to stick up for this name.
Do not bother. There is no argument that you can make for trying to justify this horrible horrible name. You are truly a Nintendo fan to stick up for them at this point, Nintendo should be thankful for your blind loyalty.
The reasoning behind the name is that it encapsulates a kind of togetherness. Also, the two Is beside the W look like controllers. All right, now, that is kind of clever – for about a second and until you say it out loud. Go ahead, say it out loud. ?Nintendo wee.? Or try plugging it in to a casual phrase in which you?d use it: ?hey come on guys, let?s go play some wee? or, ?hey fellas should I bring my wee?? Come on! This is a marketing disaster namely because it?s obvious that only a child could stomach this. What this does is put mature gamers in a tough spot having blatantly realized the fact that they might be too old for Nintendo.
One of the counterarguments that I?ve seen come up is the fact that we already see so many facets or products of our everyday life given funny names such as google, ipod and Napster. But I don?t think those are fair examples, and if you think I?m joking I have one word for you: blog. Oh how I don?t like the name blog. It represents something great: to have a personal web page in which you can express any idea or interest or whatever you like, but you also have a name that just doesn?t grow on people. I can tell you, it?s why I?ve never had one.
Another way to look at it is to think about car names. I?ll shiny and very valuable looney if you think of your five favourite cars they?ll have cool, smart or sexy names. I came up with 9/11 Turbo, 360 Spyder, RSX, 350Z and Mustang. Then think about five cars that you don?t like and would never drive. I came up with Echo, Neon, Crown Victoria, Yargus and of course, Pinto. See the difference? See how important the name of any product is? It?s absolutely crucial, especially in this case; a console claiming it will revolutionize video gaming as we know it.
In the end, I will most likely purchase this system despite the terribly bad name, but there?s no way I?m going to be casually using it in a conversation. In truth, this doesn?t matter because they could have named the system something even dumber and Nintendo would still pull in the sales. The people who Nintendo will loose however are the mature gamers who might have been considering crossing the floor or spending extra money to get a piece of the action. At the very least, the name?s absurdity has drawn plenty of attention but contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
I have never been too big a fan of the tomb raider series. The idea of solving puzzles, climbing ledges, swinging from vines and the typical qualities you get with the adventure genre and games like this, to me, is good in small doses. What can I say? These things just don?t entice me. And to be honest, I?m not positive why it ever was so popular.
On the other hand, Lara is hot.
Isn?t that really what it comes down to? We?ve seen plenty of sequels to this game and I?m no mathematician, but I think it?s safe to assume that developers don?t make four or five sequels for any game unless they turn a profit. Not to mention, two movies have been made and Lara Croft has certainly become iconic in the video game world. I just think we need to be honest with ourselves here, guys; it might not be the games we?re crazy about ? I think were crazy about Lara.
With that said, Tomb Raider: Legend is still a cool game. It?s available for just about every console and a PSP release is slated for next month. If you?ve yet to save up enough money or receive your tax return to invest in an X360, then you?re missing out on the sharpest experience, but you won?t be missing out on too much if you have to settle for a lower tier console.
TRL takes you around the world to places in Bolivia, Africa, and England exploring environments of primordial jungles, desolate ruins, and colossal castles on a search for ancient artefacts. Like I said before: it?s all about climbing up and across cliffs and ledges, swinging and jumping from vines, swimming through moats and rivers and a list of other tests to conquer, simply too long to mention. The lethal gunmen that come along the way are a lot of fun to whoop. Compared to fighting enemies in predecessors, Lara still locks on and depends on her dual pistols ? I thought it?d be cool if they gave her a little bit of kung fu ? but she has much more freedom and agility this time around. Once you get the hang of it, you should have no trouble jumping and rolling around in order to dodge bullets. There are also times when an icon will pop up on the screen indicating that you can fire at a collapsible object in the environment, such as a boulder sitting on a ledge or a fragile column (how oddly convenient!), and enemies don?t stand a chance.
Graphics are smooth for the most part; I noticed a hiccup here and there on the PS2 version. In terms of sound, the music is pumping when it needs to be and the dialogue of Lara communicating on her headset with her crew has its moments.
While the game is challenging, I?d say a mature gamer won?t have too hard a time getting through it, thus, I?d recommend this game strictly as a rental.
With Godfather being released for Xbox, 360, PS2 and even PSP it got me thinking that while that was definitely a great idea, there must certainly be a number of flicks that haven?t been done yet. After googling various movies I loved, such as, Scarface, Indiana Jones and Die Hard I found that, in truth, almost every movie that?d make a great game has been done.
Nevertheless, there are still some movies that either haven?t made the transition or made the transition but were absolute pieces of crap, done years ago and could use a more modernized version. Plenty of these games were made only for PC and to me, games on consoles and PCs are two very different things.
So, without further a due let?s get down to business.
5. Pulp Fiction
A royale with cheese? I think that a number of Tarantino?s movies could be made into video games – Kill Bill and even Dusk Till Dawn might be easier – but if Pulp Fiction was done right it?d be a great gaming experience. In this case, I?d suggest focussing on the John Travolta / Samuel L. Jackson point of view before they end up treading on the movie?s storyline. In terms of gaming formats, first-person-shooter would work but I think the 3-D action style, would be more creative. You?d think it?d be costly to get some of the voice actors but video games have especially high budgets these days.
4. Total Recall
This was apparently made for NES, how many years ago remain uncertain. This movie came at a time when Schwarzenegger was at his best and I think there were enough action scenes so that the game could tightly trace the plot. I was actually thinking that to make use of that classic scene in which Scwarzennegger is trying to get past security disguised as a woman, this game would be best if done like Splinter Cell.
3. Planet of the Apes
Bear with me for a minute here. First of all, years ago there was a planet of the apes title for PC, and one for gameboy as well, but neither of them turned out being very successful. What I?m recommending here is either a real-time strategy, or even better a shooter done like Star Wars Battlefront. In either case, the idea is to pit armies made up of homo sapien against homo erectus, to find out who is, homo superior. Rather than trying to decide whether or not using the old movies or the remake I thought it?d be even cooler to have all four sides. If you disagree then DAMN YOU, DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!
2. Blade runner
I remember seeing a promo for this on an old Red Alert disc of mine. Apparently the game was fantastic but that was nearly ten years ago and only for PC. What made that game great was the backgrounds and environments and I think that this should stick. To take full advantage of this however, the genre of choice would have to be a third-person action but with the open environment you get with the recent GTAs.
If there?s one idea of mine I hope developers consider stealing it?s this one. It has been way too long since we had anything cool to do with Ghostbusters. A few years ago a Ghostbusters was made for GBA, but can you imagine a first-person-shooter today on one of the newer systems? It?d be amazing! Lurking through dark buildings and mansions, checking the PKE meter to see where ghosts are hiding, blasting them with the proton gun, and to top it off, tossing the ghost trap. Not to mention the possibility of including a level or two with the ECTO-1; everybody?s favourite car. And let?s not also forget, we?d finally have a reason other than Halloween to hear that loveable theme song.
I actually had a hard time finally getting around to writing this column simply because the game I?m about to ramble about, was seriously addictive. I decided to rent Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X for the PSP.
If you?ve ever played a Mega Man title before, specifically the classic 2-D style, then you?ll find that this game plays exactly the same. Simply progress to the right side of the screen, use your blaster to confront any machines that say otherwise and at the end of every level show the boss who?s boss. In terms of new stuff worthy of mention, first off, the game?s overall presentation; the graphics are so clean and sharp. The game is a 2-D side-scroller yet the background has fully detailed movement and objects ? it?s very impressive.
The storyline isn?t a strong selling point. In a future in which mankind and robotkind co-exist some robots have turned to crime and become dangerous ? the mavericks. Only Mega Man X, with his blaster for a right hand can set things right. Indeed, truly original. Mind you, the game has its fair share of Anime cut scenes that help make the story more exciting.
I like to think of Mega Man as Capcom?s answer to Samus Aran from the Nintendo Metroid series. Even the idea of building up your character?s armor and weapons remains via level progression constant in both titles, however, I?d say the Metroid titles, or at least the ones that are comparable for Gameboy Advance, are superior. The main reason why I say this is simply because the Mega Man titles have always been way too short and this one is no different.
I was rather frustrated with the game at first as it was proving to be quite the challenge. Enemies respawn if you return to any area and bosses can be annoyingly difficult. Despite these annoying features, after beating a boss or two and then stumbling upon some of the weapon upgrades, I?m now convinced I?m going to beat this game five hours after renting it. Heck, I only have about three levels left, and in terms of handheld games, it?s extremely important when investing in any title that it last. After all, for twenty dollars more in some cases you can get something for your console.
Don?t get me wrong though, this game is totally cool and fun. If you happen to be a fan of the Mega Man series then I guarantee that all the elements that have made the game appealing to you before are still there. If you?re like me and you think Mega Man is just okay, then I?d recommend finding a place where you can rent PSP games and just check it out.
Anime is big business in Canada. After the success of Sailor Moon – and I know that plenty of guys used to watch it otherwise I?m in big trouble ? YTV has provided their young audience with plenty of the topnotch Japanese cartoons. They?ve aired nearly every series of Dragon Ball, plenty of Gundam Wing, Ghost in the Shell and nowadays it looks like Naruto is the next big thing.
Me personally, I watch plenty of cartoons but this one just doesn?t stick. Maybe I?m starting to mature but I seriously doubt it. Nevertheless, I can see why kids love it. The ?dramatic? moments are built up with plenty of minutes of fighters gawking at each other in good old-fashioned stare-offs. When the fighting finally starts, ninjas move at lightning speeds and the battles last for half the episode sometimes. It gets pretty intense.
That said, the cartoon has potential for a great video game. Developed by Eighting, Naruto: Clash of Ninja offers players all the characters from the popular television series, complete with the voice actors, and it all comes packaged in beautiful cel-shading graphics.
If you?ve played Tekken or Soul Caliber, this fighting game follows a very similiar format. Fighters can move in a 3-D environment but most of the punching and kicking stays on one path. Every character has an individual combo and special, often lunging opponents into the air, and then beating them the hell back down to the ground. As players become more skilled, the use of counter-attacks becomes the true strategy of the game. A well-timed counter can leave an opponent fully open for a special and completely un/even the odds.
I?d say my only beef with this game is the fact that it gets a bit repetitive. Granted, while in most fighting games, fighters typically have a specific set of moves and combos, if done correctly, players can mix and match these to get a bit more creative. Marvel Vs. Capcom for example is famous for this. Characters in that game have such a variety of moves at times that two rival players who constantly play each other can never get bored.
With Naruto, characters have a very specific set of moves and it?s hard to really mix this up. With combos, there?s no mixing up whatsoever and it feels a lot like a button-masher sometimes. This also works for the game?s advantage however, as characters have very distinct fighting styles and speed and power are definitely balanced differently between characters so that different strategies need to be developed in particular matches. Zabuza who wields a six-foot-long and one-foot-wide sword for example, moves slower but three chops can leave an opponent with a third of their energy bar axed. But when faced with Sakura Haruno, a character that moves incredibly fast and easily nails a barrage of hits in one combo, yet at medium damage, the battle does get interesting.
Overall, the one-player quest and Arcade modes aren?t very challenging and they won?t be for younger players either. Specific characters can unlock gallery art and extra players, which is a plus, but if you?re a mature gamer and aren?t too crazy about the show this game might be worth just a rental. If on the other hand you love the show and have another video game companion to serve as a rival then perhaps you should invest in it. Again, the game is fun and looks great but there are plenty of fightersout there to provide what you might really be looking for. If you have a Gamecube then check this out.
Some of the greatest movies of my childhood were the ones based on video games. I remember going with my step dad to see the Street Fighter movie. It was playing at one of those really small theatres in which the screen is no bigger than a wide screen television. But you know what? That movie was great. Jean Claude Van Dame was at his finest, and Kylie Minogue as Cammy was a real treat. There was also Mortal Kombat, a fantastic movie accompanied with the greatest music of all time. The sequel I wasn?t too thrilled about, especially since they killed off Johnny Cage.
Getting down to business now, in recent years, we?ve seen video game movies such as Final Fantasy, Doom, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. Obviously these movies are an attempt to pull middle-aged men and children away from their consoles and into theatres. While success with these movies has been fairly good, I think there are a couple of games out there that would make for box office hits. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you my top-five list for the ones I reccomend.
5. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II
The latest need for speed games have obviously been influenced by the fast and furious movies. I have been rather content with EA changing the line-up of cars for this flagship title and that is why I?m not suggesting making a movie based on the newer games, but perhaps one of the older ones. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II had a line-up ultra fast super cars such as the McLaren F1 LM, the Lamborghini Murcialago and the Aston Martin Vanquish. Now imagine having a movie in which gangs tear up the streets and leave the law in the dust in cars like those. It?d be free advertising for car manufactures, so it wouldn?t be that expensive I?d say. While gone in 60 seconds came close to a movie idea like this, it certainly was lacking and I think it?s about time we had another testosterone-charged, guys movie about sexy cars.
As I wrote a while back, the Half-Life series have been revolutionary by raising the bar in terms of graphics and computer A.I. The story line in Half-Life however is also incredibly intriguing. A scientist working for the government finds himself fighting a race of bloodthirsty aliens after an experiment goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile a powerful and mysterious corporate CEO watches your every move and seemingly looks to take advantage of the situation. On top of that it seems like the government?s deadly special task force armed with guns so big they can barely carry them, look to wipe out the aliens and anyone who?s seen them. I should also mention that the half-life series tends to be rather dark, gritty and downright terrifying. Indeed, there?s lots of potential with this one.
3. Killer 7
I hear this game?s about to become a comic book and I think that?s a great idea. However a movie, especially a Japanese anime one about this eerie tale of an assassin that can morph into six alter egos would be even better. Every time I?ve ranted about this game I?ve always mentioned how downright creepy the game is, yet at the same time, the dialogue and characters are deep and complex. It?s a utopian world in which world peace has been accomplished but a terrorist group looks to stir things up. The government sends the Killer 7 team to stop this terrorist threat before it happens.
2. Grand Theft Auto
This I think would also make a great comic book, but that?s a column for another day. While San Andreas did sell more, I think it?d be a good idea to run with the plot of GTA III first and see how it pans out. Perhaps a sequel based on San Andreas would come later. Another movie we haven?t had in a while is the Italian mafia one. While many find get their fill from the Sopranos I?m sure that a GTA movie has the potential for some fantastic action scenes.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Armed with a mystic sword and the essence of courage, a young hero embarks on a journey that takes him across a magical land of legend to take on a villain with the power of a god. Sounds kind of like a trailer doesn?t it? Seriously folks, the whole game would be too long, but if they figured out a way to get Link and Ganandorf slicing at each other on the big screen, masses of people young and old, all over the world would see the movie.
As promised this week?s column is dedicated to the starving student Xbox owner. Every system has its hits and epics and especially in the case of Xbox, what with the 360 now on the market, most of these games have dropped in price. So here I give you my top five picks for games you can pick up for under $30 Canadian. Enjoy, and good luck with the student loan.
Sonic Mega Collection Plus
Now, I?m always iffy when it comes to games that basically recycle old games. Retro sells but sometimes it can be overdone. With Sonic Mega Collection Plus I?d say that you get the most bang for your buck. There are twenty games included in this title and while I don?t see why the developers couldn?t have squeezed the Sonic title for 32X on there, which was Knuckles Chaotix, the most important ones are included: Sonic two and three with or without Knuckles and Sonic 3-D blast. This is classic Sega Genesis gaming at its finest and the games that made Sonic a strong opposition mascot. SMC Plus also comes with another game I strongly recommend ? Comix Zone. This was a title that was severely underrated.
I?ve probably annoyed a substantial amount of people by writing about this game and its sequel so many times. But if you didn?t read my rants about XML before or can?t get enough of them then you?re in luck. I actually didn?t play this one myself until it dropped in price but I soon purchased the sequel afterwards. The Action-RPG fits the X-men so well that I couldn?t imagine them appearing in any other genre. It has allowed players to ultilize not just the standard X-men you?d expect like Cyclops, Wolverine and Storm, but also characters like White Queen, Collosus and Jubilee. Definitley worth investing in.
Medal Of Honour: European Assault
It is important that I give this first-person-shooter its proper respects. I have never been comfortable with how Electronic Arts handled this genre, mainly because of what they?ve done with the 007 license. Rare?s Goldeneye raised the bar for this genre but when EA inherited the rights they brought nothing new to the table for the Bond first-person-shooters for too long. Now to put my foot in my mouth: Medal Of Honour: EA proves that the developers not only know how to handle FPS’s but also how to deliver. While MOH:EA doesn?t offer anything too innovative, I?d say that it encapsulates all the things that work: plenty of weapons, an engaging story, good sound, A.I.-controlled squadrons under your command and particularly on the Xbox version, smooth graphics. There are plenty of World War II shooters around but MOH: EA is the best place to start if you?ve never tried one.
Yet another first-person-shooter? Already? Damn straight, because this is Half-Life-freaking-2 I?m talking about here. When I played through and beat the first Half-Life I thought to myself wow, now that deserves a medal. I was excited about the sequel except I really didn?t know how they could actually improve on the original. Particularly in the case of enemy A.I. and enemy animation the developers at Valve were years ahead of their time with Half-Life. The sequel, I am happy to say, is absolutely marvellous. The story picks up where it left off. The head of Black Mesa ? the guy who bore a striking resemblence to the smoking man of the X-files ? is now in cahoots with the vicious alien race that has taken over earth. That?s important to note so I?ll say it again: the aliens in this game, just like in the original, are the most terrifying, blood-thirsty things you?ll ever point a gun at. The game itself looks freakishly good and served as one of the best examples of the Xbox reigning as the graphics champ. If you never played this one and perhaps liked the taste of Counter-Strike, definitely pop this like it?s hot.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Whether or not you?re a Star Wars fan I assure you, you will like this game. There have been many great Star Wars games ? Jedi Knight II and Knights of the Old Republic come to mind – but SWB has really taken the force to new heights. In a nutshell, it?s a game in which you command an entire army, such as rebels or the dark side. That said, the game doesn?t operate like a real-time strategy but instead like a third-person action game. You basically keep on re-spawning until your army captures all the enemy?s command posts or you run out of units. While the sequel gives you the advantage of using the cooler characters such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader as well as the option of vehicles, SWB and its sequel are surprisingly similar. Nevertheless, if you haven?t played this one yet then now?s the time.
In the spirit of writing about games available for Gamecube for $29.99 CDN and under I thought it would be rather biased of me not to dedicate some time looking at the other systems. While if you?re a real bargain hunter you probably know how to shark through used video game stores but if you prefer that new video game scent and simply can?t buy used then you?ve got lots to choose from for your PS2.
Fight Night 2004
Hands down a great boxing game. When I first played this I wasn?t too crazy about the controller configuration because it didn?t operate like most of the boxing games I?m used to. Rather than use face buttons like triangle and square for punches such as jabs and uppercuts, Fight Night uses the joysticks. In fact, it even uses the joysticks to defend as well. Luckily, the person I was playing against was also a newbie so he didn?t clean my clock. And after a while, I found that this control style made more sense. When you think about it, winding back your thumb and then thrusting it forward with the joystick adds so much more realism to a boxing game rather than tapping a button. A nice added feature to this game was the ability to create a boxer so that ideally, you could see yourself pummel opponents with fists of fury, just as you always dreamed. The career mode, which is the main one-player mode, is lengthy enough and the multiplayer mode guarantee this title won?t collect dust on your shelf.
If you don?t have a hockey game in your collection I?d say this is the place to start. While I ranted about 2006 a while back and gave it a positive review, I?d say you?d still get most of the fundamental features in 2005, after all, EA has had a sound formula for the NHL series for some time now. One of the main features I?d say is the fact that 2005 is Online compatible so that you can fill up games with as many as eight human players. This is a pretty straight-forward good hockey game. ‘Nuff said.
Devil may cry 3: Dante?s Awakening
You might have no idea how lucky you are if you?ve never played this one and I never thought it would drop in price as much as it has either. Anyways, this third-person action title is brought to you by the same developer that brought you Resident Evil 4 ? Capcom. Clearly, these people have a knack for making these thrilling games. Many critics have felt that this game?s difficulty was a strong selling point, as because of its seemingly-impossible-to beat sheer difficulty, the title will last you longer. In most cases I?d agree and in this case I?m tempted too as well, however I thought that this one was a tad extreme. The sense of accomplishment is there after defeating some of the bosses in the later levels, but man, this game takes some serious skill and hours of dedication. Mind you, the difficulty levels are there, but I?d say the Normal mode is still hard. Regardless, I was completely surprised by the graphics on this one, as typically, PS2 doesn?t always deliver in this area. In short, if you?re looking for something with lots of guns, demons and absolute Terror, pick up a copy.
Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3
Now, just because I love Dragon Ball Z, doesn?t mean I put this title here for the hell of it. For most nerds, it?s great whenever a beloved cartoon, or comic makes the transition to video game but oft times those games are crap. I simply can?t remember the last time I played a decent Transformers, Ninja Turtles or Simpsons game and when your taking something that so many people hold dear, it?s nice when developers do a good job. The Dragon Ball Budokai series has been consistently great and with the third you won?t need to buy a Dragon Ball title for a long time. This fighter takes advantage of cell shading graphics so that the game pretty much looks like the cartoon under your control. All the characters that you would absolutely dream to use from the Dragon Ball mythos such as Super Sayjin 4 Goku, or Vegeta are in there. The one player mode is a little basic but I?d say the multiplayer makes up for this as it encapsulates everything a DragonBall Z fan would want: the ability to pit the most powerful fighters in the universe against each other.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Many and most argue that this was the greatest title for PS2 ever released. Set in the early nineties, GTA: San Andreas pumped awesome licensed tracks from the times and even sampled the voiced talents of Samuel L. Jackson. To this day, I haven?t made it through all the side-quests but that may very well be just because like all the GTA?s, you are constantly tempted to freely roam the city and perhaps commit random acts of criminality. If you’ve never played a GTA or you were under a rock when it came out, now’s the time to check this title out.
On a recent trip to Future shop I noticed something rather startling, namely, that a number of fantastic games have become surprisingly cheap. So, if you?re a starving student perhaps looking to get his/hers video game fix during reading week, I?ve compiled a top five list of games for roughly thirty dollars for Gamecube. Note then, if you pay more than $29.99 CDN for any of these titles you?re certainly getting scrooged.
5. Metroid Prime
Of all the player?s choice titles this one takes a special kind of precedent. I was somewhat torn between this and Spider-man for the number five spot, but I?d strongly recommend shelving out a couple of extra bucks and getting the sequel as it is distinctly superior. If you are a Nintendo-buff Metroid Prime needs to be under your belt as it is a Nintendo flagship game that was revolutionized on the Gamecube. Just like Mario made his transition from 2-D sides-scroller on Super NES to 3-D adventure on the N64, Metroid did the same by going from a 2-D side-scroller on Super NES and becoming a 3-D FPS with its release on Gamecube.
4. Animal Crossing
Games like Animal Crossing somewhat scare me but in a good way. Animal Crossing is not necessarily a video game but I?d say, rather another world. The game operates on true real-time so that if you set your clock correctly on the Gamecube, time will pass by at the same rate as, well, the real world (see what I mean by scary?). Similar to the Sims, you control a character who lives in a little town and has the options of exploring a community, interacting with characters, decorating your home, fishing, write letters ? basically living another life (is this where humanity’s heading?). If you can convince a friend to buy a copy you?ll be in luck as you can save your chacther to the memory card (a memory card is actually included with the game) and explore a friend?s town. And due to the fact every game?s town and settings are randomized you?ll be able to talk to different people and even pick different fruits, which can then be brought back to your home town and planted ? woah. However childish this game sounds, I assure you it is highly addictive.
3. Killer 7
I reviewed this one when it first came out and was rather impressed at the time. Right off the bat, visually this game is spectacular as smooth cell-shading graphics add an eerie cartoony kind of realism to this tricked-out FPS. In all sincerity, I?m not positive under what category Killer 7 falls due to how the gameplay and control mechanisms operate. Your character can only move backwards and forwards on a fixed track and when needed can switch to a FPS view to fire weapons. Your character has 6 alter egos, each with distinct weapons and abilities (e.g. invisibility, or lock-picking), hence the name Killer 7. I never thought this game received enough praise and assure you that if you?re looking for something different this is the way to go.
2. Need for Speed Underground 2.
Finally this game dropped in price! I?ve likely said this before but when it comes to racers, EA?s need for speed series is king. Underground 2?s predecessor is well under thirty but what makes the sequel better is the fact that it marks a different direction for the series. Underground 2 takes advantage of the rising popularity of free-roaming environments and grants players the pleasure of exploring a city in a nice ride; surely every man?s dream. Just like all the need for speeds you?re trying to move up in the ranks, earn lots of cash and buyupgrade cars.
1. Resident Evil 4
I am actually amazed this game is so cheap. This was exclusively released for Nintendo originally and I?d say proved that Nintendo has plenty to offer adults. I suppose that Zombies were becoming a fad, which is why the plot of this game stays away from them completely. This time around it?s all about saving the president?s kidnapped daughter and fighting off demonized villagers, insane monks and cave-dwelling beasts. The graphics for this game were so good that I was somewhat annoyed. Afterall the clean realism makes me wonder why we didn?t see more of it on the Nintendo titles. Regardless, if you loved the fearfactor that came with the series in its earlier titles you certainly won?t be disappointed this time around. Enemies still manage to hack down doors, leap out of shadows and shout bloodcurdling screams so that you?ll be sure to crap your pants at one point or another.
The next generation wars are well underway as we’ve had the release of Xbox 360, yet, there are still many war clouds in the sky. In a perfect world, we’d all have the funds to purchase all three systems but this is seldom the case – especially soon after a system is released when its price can be outrageously high. Nevertheless, we can only begin to wonder about those who have chosen not to invest in the 360. Perhaps, these people plan on buying a PS3 or a Revolution or both. For the record, I predict these two will be the main contenders dueling it out sales-wise very soon. This does not mean I?ve ruled 360 out of course, I simply feel it is important to remember that the video game market moves in very specific directions when consoles are released.
If you?ve already ruled Xbox 360 out and can only afford one system you may still be wondering which one you?re going to buy. To me I wouldn?t say that it?s a good idea to weigh PS3 and the Revolution against each other as I?ve seen many critics do. The kinds of games a person looks for when buying a system in the end, is what matters most. Read all the technical jargon you want, if a game isn?t fun, or if a system doesn?t carry the developers you love it?s a waste of time.
PS3 will be launching with titles such as Tekken, Warhawk,, Gran Turismo, Killzone, and the next Metal gear installment. Those last three I?d say are going to be the big guns. Now in terms of the games that will come out afterwards don?t forget that Sony is cozily in cahoots with Capcom, Enix, Konami and Namco. Apart from this, a real divide between the Revolution and PS3 remains as I?ve mentioned many times before: Nintendo simply has a difficult time tapping into that sports market. This pits Microsoft and Sony directly against each other. While X-box live has been a huge success, the PS3 will be offering seven-player support, a crucial selling point when it comes to sports games. I?d say that as a general rule, the more human players a sports game can pick up, the better the dynamic of gameplay. Read more…
(andPOP) – The Nintendo Revolution?s controller.
Can?t say we expected that one did we? If you haven?t seen it yet I?d strongly recommend Googling for an image. At first glance, it looks like a remote control and this is expected since most of the pictures place the controller in its vertical form, when in fact, the controller can be used horizontally acting like a classic NES one.
When I first saw a picture of it I thought, ?my God, they?ve really done it this time? indeed, as I have feared many times that Nintendo may become the architect of its own demise. But then I read-up on how it works and the criticisms people were giving it, both good and bad, and I think people should be very excited.
In a nutshell, the controller uses Bluetooth technology, which seems to be all the rave these days, not to mention a clever selling point, and with a sensor placed above or under a television becomes a magic stick ? no pun intended. The controller not only recognizes pointing but also twisting and even, get this, proximity. It is also possible to connect what is called the nun chuck to the controller. The nun chuck looks like a mouse with an analog stick and a duo of trigger buttons. So with the nun check you?re actually holding what looks like two controllers but they work together in a crucial way.
With the nun chuck addition many video game writers have been commenting on how perfect this would be for first person shooter games. The analog would allow you to move around and possibly shoot, meanwhile the pointer would allow you to aim the gun and I?d gamble that with the D-pad literally at your thumb you?d get some quality strafing. I don?t think I could be happier as I sincerely miss the arcade style shooters on Nintendo. Just imagine what this innovative control scheme could do for games such as Metroid.
Keeping in mind that the Metroid Prime series was an exceptional success for Game cube and it is tied with Resident Evil 4 as the game with highest rating on IGN, there is no doubt in my mind that the revolution may turn out to be single-handedly the top seller in the next generation console wars. Not just for the reason of a Metroid title because after all, they could seriously bomb instead of dropping one. As I mentioned in a previous column, Nintendo knows how to work the media. Regardless, even the coldest of cynics such as myself cannot dispute the fact that with this controller, free online use, the best price and assuming we see the right moves with the Nintendo titles such as Mario and Smash bros., the Revolution not only has the potential to turn the tide in the North American market but absolutely consume it. But remember: this is only if Nintendo does things right.
Now getting back to the controller, I?ve read many criticisms saying that it might be too hard for the controller to work with certain genres such as fighting games in which the D-pad tends to be a preference. Heck, sometimes I prefer the D-pad in racing games. Or perhaps one might just need that familiarity that can only come with a more classic controller. Regardless, I cannot understand these skeptics of the controller from this point of view because first of all, it is possible to plug a Game cube controller in the Revolution. Second of all, you will be able to slide the pointer into an accessory that looks like a Game cube controller so you?ll basically have yourself a wave bird. This was a brilliant move. However many games some of us veterans play, the anxiety that technology might get the best of us some day always lingers.
So it looks like I did some serious advertising for the Revolution this week, not bad. However glorifying I might appear to be of this controller and the soon-to-be-released system I simply remind you that this is all speculation. And that at this point all that I, or anyone out there can do is say based on this cause, this should be the effect; experience however, is the only way we will truly know and I sincerely hope the experience will be the desired effect.
What makes a good mascot? Personality? Time? Physical design? Catchphrases? I thought long and hard about things such as these when I decided that I’d compile a list of my five favorite gaming mascotscharacters. At first I was thinking about going with a top ten list but I realized this made things a little too easy as I was too tempted to throw in a kaleidoscope of Nintendo characters, which is very telling, and call it a day. To avoid this I decided to condense the list, making every place on it all the more important.
As I was not around to enjoy the Pac mans and the space invaders of yester generations I decided that the characters would have to come from a video game or PC game of release within the last ten to fifteen years.
Now keep in mind people that this is just a column, thus it is based heavily on opinion. Everyone will disagree I am sure; nevertheless I implore you to simply take in my reasoning as some food for thought.
5. Terran ? StarCraft ? PC
Now maybe this is a bit of a stretch because this isn?t a character I?ve chosen, but rather an army. To be honest, I wanted to get something from a real-time strategy on here and when I think of real-time strategy games, I think of Starcraft. While I?m not going to argue that Terran was the best faction to use I will say that they were the coolest. In StarCraft you had three factions to choose from: Terran, Protos and Zerg. Those who remember playing this one remember how much this game was typically a race against time as nine times out of ten if your opponent started to attack first all was lost. But why I enjoy Terran in particular is for a reason far more specific, they had the Arclite Siege Tank Crew Member – a unit of power. In that race against time, if you heard the Tank unload its arsenal you knew it was the sound of the end of days.
4.Cloud ? Final Fantasy VII ? Playstation
I’m going to be an honest journalist here because after all that is what we do and come out and say that I am one of those few gamers who never had a playstation while it was in its prime and thus, never played Final Fantasy VII. That’s right you heard me, what can I say, except that turn-based RPG’s never excited me. This does not suggest for a second however that I was at any point unaware of the absolute waves this game made in the industry. Looking at the most successful titles I can comfortably say that FFVII took the Final Fantasy series to new heights thanks to its engaging story, beautifully composed orchestrated scores – many of which I’ve downloaded – and the courageous Cloud. With his dragon ball Z inspired hair, oversized sword and sleek motorcycle if you never played FFVII, he made you regret it – I know I do.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog ? Sonic Shadow Series ? From Genesis to Gamecube
Blue streak speeds by?because he’s too fast for the naked eye – these were actually some of the lyrics for a cartoon show of the popular Sega character, Sonic the Hedgehog. I suppose having this character on this list is a given but in case you didn’t notice, I didn’t make him number two and if I had decided to rank a couple of gaming characters ten years ago, I assure you this would not be the case. So what do I mean exactly? Simply put: Sonic games just don’t cut it anymore. If you’ve kept up with my columns you’ll notice that one of the more recent games I tore up was a Sonic title. Not only this, but I have been keeping tabs on all the Sonics since the glory days of the Genesis, meaning I’ve played all the ones that came out for Dreamcast, Gamecube and even Gameboy Advance and I think that somewhere down the line, sonic was not fun anymore. I’d say that for starters the story line has become really weird. I mean seriously why did they change the name of Dr. Robotnik to Eggman? Another point, while some didn’t like the hedgehog’s transition from 2-D to 3-D, I always recognized the potential. Lightning speeds through roller coaster-like roads in 3-D is exactly what the little blue dude was born to do. But if you keep doing the same thing for too long, even the most impressive elements of a game loose their appeal over time. Regardless, Sonic is still around.
2. Master Chief ? Halo Series – Xbox
I knew I had to have a character from a first person shooter on here and among the characters I had in my head, it came down to: James Bond (Goldeneye), Duke Nukem, the unkown terrorist of Counterstrike and Gordon from Half-Life ? in the end, the Master Cheif took the prize. I suppose my reason here is that I think if you threw all these guys in a room together in a death match, the 7′ tall, 1,000 pound Cheif would reign supreme. I understand even this to be the boldest of claims – just for the record, I think the terrorist would be the last to go – but when it comes down to it, taking on multitudes of killer Predator-like aliens is no easy task.
1. Mario ? Everything Nintendo
Come now, you knew from the very beginning that this tubby plumber was going to take the number one spot. He is the backbone for Nintendo and has managed to stay on top as the Mickey Mouse of gaming through a variety of transitions on console and portable systems. From the days when his absurdly pixilated form made the never-ending journey to the right side of the screen on the N.E.S., to his revolutionary kicking, punching, stomping, surfing and even dancing 3-D form on N64, Mario has become synonymous with video games. I will say that I wasn?t very impressed with Super Mario Sunshine for Gamecube, nor Mario World for Nintendo DS, yet this character has well over a decade of momentum that will keep him strong and if Nintendo has learned anything, I am sure he will easily continue to dominate with help from the revolution.
If you play video games, chances are you’ve heard of this. If you own an X-box, chances are you have this. If you are thinking about buying an x-box, chances are it’s because of this. The Halo franchise nearly single-handedly put Microsoft and the X-box ahead in the console war, and with good reason. Nothing beats a genetically altered super soldier blasting his way though an onslaught of prophetic aliens and plague like jellyfish in a last ditch attempt to save humanity from oblivion on a Sunday afternoon in your boxers with Cheeto dust on your face.
Halo 2 has been the top choice of gamers around the world for its beautiful texture detail, amazing lighting effects, solid responsive, simple controls, and fast paced action. This is just the tip of the ice berg, any gamer can play a single player game over and over, learn where the simple AI bad guys appear and blast away, but the real challenge, fun, and sporadic-ness is had online, playing against other gamers around the world, just like you. Halo 2′s multiplayer action is so sweet that it is known in the gaming culture as the all time best online multiplayer game out there, utilizing Microsoft?s X-box Live service, playing online has never been easier or more widely used. At any point during any day in any part of the world one can always find hundreds of online gamers going at it, head to head in X-box Live land. From the massive array of weaponry to choose from, to the many options to change the game up from team slayer with shotguns only (my personal favourite) to deathball mode (like capture the flag, but with a human skull) and the many maps available to battle upon, no two games are ever alike… and the deal just got sweeter.
With Microsoft’s new Halo 2 multiplayer map pack, Master Chief?s social life just got a little more interesting. This expansion pack consists of nine new maps made specifically for online play, a plethora of bug and cheat fixes, a short film using the same graphics engine Halo uses, and a documentary about the creation of the expansion pack including interviews with some of the development team. This expansion can be downloaded over x-box live, but Microsoft didn?t want to isolate their majority offline community, so they offered everything that one could download with an X-box Live subscription in this handy CD.
With this new expansion, not only have nine new well balanced terrains been added but a sense of interactivity in the world has been created, a great example is on one of the new maps (Terminal) there is a pathway with a beefy plasma sword out in the open, however, if you stay on this pathway to long, a massive train flies through and crushes you and whoever else is in it’s way instantly, just like real life!
considering Bungie’s (Halo’s development team) tight schedule while working on Halo 2, most of their time and effort was put into making sure the single player story was up to snuff, and believe me it was, imagine how amazing the multiplayer mode would be if Bungie had focused all of their talents on that portion of the game. With this expansion pack, that?s exactly what they did.
Me and my friends spent countless hours in front of the TV with 4 controllers and thousands of people around the world for hours on end. Now with this expansion pack, those hours may very well multiply quickly.
There are some downfalls however, some of the maps, while working astonishingly with some game modes, are horrible with other game modes. There are a couple of smaller quarter maps that are great for one on one or 4 player team slayer, but when you have a full house free for all it?s a button masher?s wet dream. On the flip side, if you?re playing 2 on 2 death ball or capture the flag, and you?re on such a large map that it takes you 5 minutes to actually reach the opponent, you may get frustrated or bored very quickly. If you try out the maps, find out what works well with how many people and what type of game to play, this game will surely entertain for hours on end.
Graphics: 10. Beautiful texture and scenery, amazing lighting effects and mad crazy animations make this a trademark X-box title.
Control: 9. I admit, at first I wasn?t the best at controlling the master and got my fair share of beatings, but after a little but of a learning curve, it felt like second nature to blast my shotgun and follow it up with a jumping gun butt. The controls are well placed and very responsive, and you can customize your controls to an extent, which is always welcome.
Sound: 9. Even though I only played this on my monaural 20? (think what you want). I felt like I could tell where shots were coming from, and jumped up in surprise on more than one occasion.
Fun: 10. It?s Halo. Nuff said.
Lasting appeal: 10. That?s the best part of this map pack, it was made almost entirely to enhance the online experience. It never gets old, never gets boring, and is NEVER EVER the same game twice? if your playing offline however, take a point off of lasting appeal. The AI in this game can only do so much.
Extras: 8. The short video is entertaining, and if you liked it, I suggest checking out Red Vs Blue. The documentary about how this disc came to be is interesting enough, but if I wanted a documentary, I would go to the Discovery channel.
Overall: Overall I would rate this game a 10 out of 10. Halo 2 is the first game anyone with an X-box should buy, and in my opinion, it?s the feel good hit of the decade.
If you have halo 2 and you play online, you probably already have most of what’s on this CD, I would not recommend going out and purchasing the disc just for the short film and documentary unless you?re a true hardcore halo fan with everything from the 2d side scroller Halo game to every action figure built in your possession. If you have halo 2 and you don?t play online I would highly recommend going out right now and picking this disc up to truly get the most out of your multiplayer experience (even if it is with just you and a few friends). If you don?t have halo 2 I suggest you finish reading this article, go out pick up this game and on your way home pick up some red bull and pixie sticks because it’s gonna be a great sleepless night.
This disc gets the Salem seal of approval.
This ain’t your momma’s soccer game
What with the success of Mario Tennis and Mario Superstar Baseball it was rather commonsensical for Nintendo to try their luck with soccer. I believe these games serve as proof that not everybody out there demands the hardcore realistic titles that we see so often as the norm with sports games like the FIFAs and the Maddens from EA. In fact, when it comes to Gamecube, for some reason sports games just aren?t its selling point ? even though I?d argue that of the three systems, Gamecube?s controller is the most comfortable and thus, ideal for sports games as they are typically intense and demand accuracy and precision.
Nevertheless Nintendo has been releasing these mascot-based sports games – such as the one I?ll be ranting about this week, Super Mario Strikers – and when it comes down to it, they?re great. I think the reason is because Nintendo is sticking to a very basic formula when it comes to these games: beautifully coloured and rendered characters, extremely simple and fluid controls, and power-ups and specials such as red shells, bombs and chain-chomps just mix things up.
As aforementioned, the controls are incredibly easy to get a hang of ? perhaps rather facile. I popped the disc in, started up an exhibition game and after experimenting with a couple of buttons and combinations I was whooping my opponent. I went through a few of the tutorials afterwards just to make sure I didn?t miss anything but for the most part I found I nailed the fundamentals e.g. passing, shooting and even charging up shots in quick time.
If you?ve played Mario Tennis, Mario Superstar Baseball or Mario-whatever, then you can expect to see the same roster of characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi and even the ever-popular, and especially ingenious creation – Waluigi. These guys serve as captains and you have to either choose Toads, Koopas, Hammer Brothers or Birdos to make up all of your teammates. I personally liked to use Yoshi with a team of Toads as this combination guaranteed swiftness.
In case you were wondering, there are no such things as red or yellow cards, throw-ins and corner-kicks. Even though the stadiums seem to be oft times outdoors, all the fields are fenced so that they operate like indoor ones, thus, the ball never leaves the field. Obviously, in a game in which you can toss shells and exploding devices at enemies to even or uneven the odds, there is no referee. But strikers has its own kind of penalty system so that players are deterred from tripping too much. Basically, should you trip an opponent who doesn?t have the ball, the opposing team will gain a special upgrade, e.g. three green shells will become three red shells, which can even be upgraded to three spiky shells.
The one downer of this game is the one-player mode is too easy. I assure you, you?ll fly through the tournaments in a day. But because it?s so easy to get the hang of, it makes for a fantastic multiplayer, in fact, you?ll be cursing and throwing fists with people in no time.
I?d say that Super Mario Strikers is worth checking out even if you don?t plan on playing against friends, it makes for a good rental. If you do manage to get four people together to duke it out on a regular basis I?d strongly recommend adding this to your collection as it is will make for engaging matches.
Whilst I was on a much-needed vacation a promising title came out and to not write about it would certainly be a crime. That is why I?m going to be dedicating this week?s rant to Mario Kart DS.
For the most part, Nintendo DS has been lagging behind its archrival, the PSP. From the beginning, PSP has been providing owners with a solid title nearly every other month, such as X-men Legends II, Star Wars Battlefront II and even a Grand Theft Auto?s popped up already. And let?s not forget all of these titles and many more have had online playability. Thus, Nintendo has needed something to turn the tide, something to even the odds, something to launch the DS?s online capability with a bang and yes, Mario Kart DS demands satisfaction.
For the most part, I?d say this game plays similar to the N64 and Super NES versions. The two-player-per-kart system that came into fruition with the Gamecube version has been abandoned and the classic one player-per-kart system is back. The graphics are what we?ve come to expect from the DS so far, clean but nothing too spectacular. There are more than thirty tracks and this number doubles when mirror mode is unlocked. Also, the DS version has taken the liberty of plugging in retro tracks, meaning a selection of tracks from all the previous Mario Kart versions, which is good or bad depending on where you stand. Me personally, I thought this was the only downer simply because Nintendo seems to love brining back old games and commonly elements of old games and does so too often. I personally would have preferred to have more new tracks as it allows developers to get inventive. Again, that?s just me and I?m confident that plenty will get a kick out of being familiar with these tracks or simply relish the idea of enjoying the old-school factor.
Mario Kart DS had me really appreciating one of the huge differences between PSP and DS, namely loading time. I was standing in line at the bookstore and was able to whip the DS out of my bag, switch it on and was burning rubber in seconds ? by the time I had to pay for my books I know my PSP would have been at a game?s loading screen. A second strength the DS can chalk up is how it plays online, whereas you?ll be lucky to play a single body online with the PSP. DS on the other hand connects fast, searches for a maximum of three players in this particular title, and while a load-up screen warns of gameplay changing during online play, I found that this was seldom the case.
I was somewhat concerned that Nintendo might choose to do something overly ambitious with its touch screen but fear not, you don?t have to worry about sliding your thumb around to steer or anything awkward. On the contrary, the bottom screen has become a crucial part of the game?s strategic experience as it provides a sort of action map, providing offensive and defensive possibilities with any projectile item. With green shells for example, you can perfectly align yourself with a player in front of, or behind you, with a quick glance at the bottom screen, thus guaranteeing deadly precision. Evidently, this same rule will apply when on the defence, as you?re now able to see green shells coming from behind.
Those who have been playing the Mario Kart series from the beginning until now will notice that the DS version has reverted to the sliding system used in the N64. I say this because victory in the Gamecube version came with luck of the items, while with the N64 version skilled handling established the true champion. At any rate, this is definitely a good thing as the 150 CC modes and mirror modes demand that players handle corners with flawless execution and developing these skills gives the game a general longevity boost.
The tracks are in a word, nuts. And I definitely mean this in a good way. Walugi?s pinball for example is just as the name suggests: a course running through a pinball arcade machine. Warping through tunnels, bouncing off gigantic flippers and dodging 8-ton pinballs proves that this game is fun and shines with creativity.
So there you have it, Mario Kart DS truly rejuvenates the DS and proves that Nintendo will always be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to portable gaming. If you were disappointed with the Gamecube version, as I was, you?ll be pleased with this one. I would even go so far as to say not to worry about renting this before buying it. With regards to the games the DS has released so far ? I?m tempted to say PSP as well ? Mario Kart DS rules with dominant supremacy.
Back in the days when Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were waging an epic war, each system had its own mascot: a tubby plumber named Mario and a smart-alecky hedgehog named Sonic. Now me, I owned a Sega Genesis and I played every Sonic game Sega released. In fact, I played the bad ones, like spinball and even the title they released for the 32X deal. However, after playing the newest Sonic title, interestingly enough not a Sonic title, as it is actually starring Shadow the hedgehog, I think I can say that Sonic?s glory days are done.
I?m not going to lie here, I?ve actually played just about every Sonic game that?s ever been released, even the ones for Dreamcast and Gamecube in which he made the transition from 2-D to 3-D. For the most part, I?d say there is a large number of superior third person adventures out there, but since the spiky-haired hedgehog has such a hardcore old school factor going for him I still enjoyed these crappy games. With Shadow the hedgehog though, I?m not impressed.
For starters, I played the PS2 version and the graphics were horrific. Maybe this would have improved on the Gamecube version. If you played either of the Sonic Adventures it?s a similar game except Shadow is the only playable character. Basically, the story picks up from Sonic Adventure 2 in which Shadow is trying to figure out what happened to his friend Maria and piece together his memories, which are filled with smoke and mirrors. An alien race invades earth and Sonic and his crew want to stop their path of destruction. Thus, there are two sides, good and evil and it is up to Shadow and you to choose your allegiance. This can be done by simply pressing the D-pad in which case an alien will be your sidekick for bad, and Sonic or one of his friends for good.
Depending on which side you choose, the mission objectives will change and so will the levels that follow. The game actually has a variety of endings, which is a plus as players will want to play through it a couple of times. The problem is, the idea of walking through a level inspecting every nook and cranny just doesn?t fit in with a game that should move at lightning speeds. On top of this, even when you choose your side, enemies of both good and bad forces still shoot at you making the whole choosing either good or evil concept utterly futile.
I also found the controls to be a tad clunky at times. It was rather frustrating when I?d occasionally try to jump on a ledge and of course, fall to my doom on a constant basis. Locking on to enemies is also not as fluid as it used to be, I often found myself jumping in the air several times before finally knocking enemies.
So long story short, this game isn?t that great, however I am a mature gamer and I?m willing to admit that this game is really just for kids. My little brother absolutely loves this game and all the Sonic 3-D adventures that have been on PS2 and Gamecube and he didn?t even grow up in the days when Sonic was in his prime. This doesn?t mean the game is without flaws, and mature gamers definitely enjoy 3-D adventures when they?re well made, alas, Shadow is obviously not for us.
If you want my advice, if you really, and I mean really love Sonic then at the very least check this game out because the FMA?s are beautifully rendered and it?s always a treat to see a hedgehog going super saiyajin on chaos emeralds. But if you?re a mature gamer or just a cold-hearted critic like me then you might find yourself sadly disappointed.
This week I?m going to be rambling about Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for PSP. I?m amazed with this title I mean, the concept that you can have a game that is so in-depth yet on a handheld is mightily impressive I?d say. I was expecting that this was actually going to be just a chopped up version of one of the GTA?s for PS2, in fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this title was the top-down 2-D view as it was when it first came out. But no, this game has a huge environment as well as a brand new story.
You start off with Toni Cipriani, who is the same thug we met on PS2, and once again you have the choice to roam around and see how long you can survive after creating random chaos for the police or follow the missions and move up in the Italian mafia.
I don’t have any complaints for this title simply because all the same great elements that have made the series a success so far are in there: the freedom of the huge 3-D environment, the grand selection of vehicles, even the loading time is impressive, as it only does so once at the beginning. Needles to say, loading times on PSP games so far has been inconsistent. Some games boot and load up fast while others do take a while, and I am a rather patient man. The graphics obviously don?t come close to compare with what you get on a console but they are still sharp for the most part. Regardless, the gameplay is smooth for the most part and the environments are rich with detail.
I don?t feel like I can say too much about this game simply because if you?ve played any of the GTA titles it?s basically the same deal. There isn?t anything too new that?ll blow your mind with the game itself but with the exception of some new features.
For starters, it actually has a great multiplayer mode. Since it is such a huge world and you?re dealing with real players as opposed to computer A.I., it has the feel of an online adventure. You hunt down your opponent in a huge city scattered with weapons and finding your opponent takes a while sometimes, which is seldom the case for multiplayer modes.
Secondly, you have the option of importing your own music to listen to on the radio stations. To do this you need a USB cable and you need download the software, which takes no time to find. For some reason the software won?t let you just transfer MP3?s from your hard drive, the files have to come from a CD. I suppose record companies, such as I don?t know, Sony, want to make sure people by CD?s. To be honest, the music in the game is fantastic and I often look forward to the music tracks when a new GTA title hits the shelves but man-oh-man is it such a bonus to be able to pump old school DMX and cruise around in a Hummer.
If you?ve never played GTA before I?d recommend playing San Andreas first if you can. That particular title gave you the option of customizing your character and had a much more in-depth storyline. The voice acting in the PSP version is nice, but as far as the story goes, Toni just gets jerked around and that?s basically it.
If you have played GTA before and you?ve come to be a fan now, I don?t think you even need to rent this game, you?re sure to love it. Until I try Battlefront II I?m tempted to say this might very well be the best PSP title out there right now.
It occurred to me recently that of all the superheroes that have made it onto consoles Spider-man has had the most hits. Generally, comic games can be pretty bad: typically leaching off movie hype or getting stuck with a lousy developer but Spidey has endured for a long, long time.
Back in the good old days of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis there was Maximum Carnage, released in 1994. This was a 2-d sidescroller in which you used Spider-man and later on Venom to take on a variety of villains from the comic series as well as the most ruthless thugs and bandits New York has to offer. Anyone who remembers playing this game knows that I don?t have to go into detail as to how fantastic it truly was. Graphics, gameplay and a badass theme song made this title a triumph.
A Spider-man title came out for N64 and Playstation in 2000 and it was the first time the web-slinger was brought to life through the beautiful spacious element that is 3-D. No longer would players have to simply move in the rightward direction for hours on end, no, now it was possible to shoot webs and swing through the air. To this day, and you heard it here first – no other title has covered such a broad number of the villains of the Spider-Man universe. Venom, Carnage, Doctor Octopus, Scorpion, Rhino, Lizard and Mysterio were all bosses. Nowadays, especially with the movie-based titles, no more than four of the top-notch villains make an appearance.
This game also had the best reward system of any Spider-Man game to date. First of all there were a ton of comics to unlock and you didn?t just get a picture to pull up on the screen of its cover (like so many of unlockables of today), but also a sweet, concise synopsis.
Even better than the comics, were the costumes you could unlock: the Symbiote, Scarlet-Spider, Spider-Man 2099 and even Cosmic Spider-man – now that is what I call a reward for pumping in hours of gameplay.
Recently, we?ve had the movie-based Spider-Man games. The first one received great reviews but frankly I?ve never understood why. I mean, the graphics were great, the CGI sequences were sharp and the environment became more spacious but I remember this game didn?t take me too long to beat. It was possible to play as Green Goblin after beating the game on the harder difficulty, which was a cool reward, but this didn?t necessarily make it a hit in my opinion.
Now, Spider-Man 2 deserves a round of applause. For the first time, the environment covered every inch of New York City; this undeniably set the new standard and perhaps this is really why its predecessor doesn?t seem so fantastic to me anymore. I own both of these titles and since I purchased the second, have never played the first.
Needless to say, I?ve noticed that the movie-based titles co-exist with movie plot lines in a very specific manner. That is to say, in the first spider-man game no mention was made whatsoever of Doctor Octopus as I assume Sony already knew he was going to be a villain in the next movie. From playing both titles and seeing how tightly-knit game developers and movie producers keep their continuity I?d wager the villain in the next movie is going to be the Lizard.
Anyways, back to video games, this week I rented Ultimate Spider-man (USM). I had held off renting this for a while simply because my little brother had played it a few weeks ago and managed to beat the story mode in less than ten hours. Thus, I was in no mood for playing a title that had been so hyped up only to be disappointed, however USM is?well, okay I suppose.
Part of the reason why people were so excited about this game was because the highly acclaimed writer, Brian Michael Bendis, wrote the story. This definitely makes a difference as the re-invention of the symbiote saga unfolds just like a comic book. And this idea is brought to life through sequences of comic panels in which heroes and villains duke it out by literally by leaping off the page ? definitely a nice touch.
Taking the aspect of using Venom, which was one of the main reasons Maximum Carnage was so great, the game seems to have a bit more variety. The control styles of Spider-Man and Venom are also quite different. Instead of swinging through the city like Spider-Man, Venom makes a 20-story leap, extends his arms to grapple onto buildings and surfaces to then lunge himself forward. I know it sounds like web-swinging but trust me they it’s different.
Smooth, crisp, cell-shading make the graphics exceptional and gameplay for the most part is decent. I say decent because I actually wasn?t impressed by Spider-Man?s occasional awkward web-slinging. At first I thought this might have been because I am so accustomed to the predecessor but even within the last levels of the game I realized it was actually because the buildings and environments in the game make it difficult. There don?t seem to be as many skyscrapers and the ones that are there are spaced so far apart.
After beating this game, which took less than ten hours just like my little brother, I was really disappointed. The option becomes available to switch between Spider-Man and Venom at will, but there is close to nothing to do after beating it anyways. I mean, there are costumes to unlock, which are for Spider-Man specifically, but the only one anyone would want to invest time in is towards the symbiote costume. And I should mention that to get this costume you have to fully complete the game, which means collecting a ton of tokens, which I think is an incredibly tedious task.
I?ve read a lot of reviews for USM and quite frankly, I think that this is a case where the game was so hyped up that people seemingly don?t care whether or not it?s good or bad – I for one, sure don?t think that a game that takes no time to beat deserves so much positive criticism. Don?t get me wrong, if you like Spider-Man you?ll like USM, but trust your spider-sense, you?ll regret buying it before renting it first.
This week I rented X-men Legends II and let me tell you right off the bat that I can?t stop playing it. My current employment situation, my education, love life and friendships have all been thrown into an absolute state of jeopardy as a result?okay I?ll admit they were before, but now I at least have an excuse. Now that we?ve settled that let?s get this column rolling.
X-men Legends II (XL2) is available for Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube. You can play online with the PS2 and Xbox versions but not Gamecube ? Nintendo must be too superior to make great games with online compatibility.
Just like the original, XL2 is an action RPG in which you have four characters at your service. You can cycle through and command any one of them while the computer will control the other three for you, or one to three players can take their place. In truth, it?s quite possibly one of the best co-op multiplayers out there. As you slash through the levels characters gain experience and level up to get new specials and moves.
XL2 is not without some great new features.
First of all, since the story follows that the world as we know it is threatened by the most unforgiving mutant of them all, Apocalypse, you have not just the X-men but also some of their most powerful villains at your disposal. I was mightily impressed with variety and number of characters available this time around.
Needles to say, my most formidable and downright coolest team consisted of Magneto, Juggernaut, Storm and Colossus.
Secondly, and perhaps this improvement is debatable, there is now an automatic setting for distributing experience points. Because XL2 is so engaging it can be rather annoying constantly having to distribute points every time a character levels up. Personally, I keep it on manual just to make sure the best moves are unlocked first but with the new online feature having an automatic setting is a good idea.
Thirdly, in the original X-men Legends characters would learn four similar moves that would improve as progress was made. This time around, characters learn tons of new moves, even specials, all of which can be cycled through at any time.
Fourthly, depending on what combination of characters you select andor costumes you choose, you can gain bonuses on things such as attack or defence. For example, if you make it so that all four of your characters all wear the Age of Apocalypse skins, which look the best by far, your team will gain 100% to attack.
And finally there?s the improved ally A.I. With the original I needed a partner to beat the game because the odds sometimes seemed unfair. I recall instances in which every enemy on the screen was mauling my character meanwhile the rest of my team would be relaxing somewhere firing an energy blast every now and then. And even though at any time you could summon your team to come to your aid I always thought it would be best if the team would just split up and each take on an enemy, especially when you?re trying to take on mammoth bosses. With XL2, your allies never hesitate wasting your enemies. Magneto in particular I found would always calmly hover into a room and start single-handedly tossing swarms of enemies around in a furious surgical storm.
If you?ve played the original, the controls haven?t changed but if you haven?t, fear not for it takes no time to get comfortable with them. I?m not going to say which characters are available for unlocking but they do make for terrific rewards.
The original X-men Legends was fantastic; four characters at your disposal, quality FMV sequences, voice actors from the movies such as Patrick Stewart, an engaging plot and a true challenge to beat. XL2 encompasses all those great aspects and offers more. Indeed, with online compatibility this game surely becomes a worthwhile investment.