Archive for the ‘Xbox 360’ Category

Backlog Barrage! Lets Do A Little Role Playing

March 18, 2011

White Knight Chronicles Publisher: SonyDeveloper: Level-5
Platform: PS3  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: February 2, 2010

White Knight Chronicles (WKC) wasn’t what most expected, or maybe even wanted from Level-5’s first PS3 JRPG. However, I think it was overly criticized and was overall a good title.

Sure the story didn’t pick up till the end, but seeing as the game is just the first in a planned trilogy I can be a little forgiving of that. I think most of the characters weren’t deep enough, and they didn’t grow with the story. This is probably why most people decided to harp on the standard save the princess story. Even if similar tropes are the basis of many other games, which are generally given a pass.

As for the actual gameplay, it plays much like a simplified MMO. You key up actions (spells, attacks, items, etc) and use them when your gauge fills. You are able to stack abilities and actions to create your own combos. During these you will have to complete timed button presses to keep the combo going. It might not be my favorite combat system, but it worked rather well for what they wanted to do.

Besides creating your own combos there is also a very exhaustive crafting system in WKC. You can create a plethora of gear and items. You can also upgrade these. But more unique to WKC is the Georama system, where each player gets to create their own home space. These spaces can be filled with buildings, crops, mineral deposits, shops, filled with workers, and so on. It is a huge addition to the game, and can be fairly addictive. My main complaint would be the amount of time required to grind your way through most of the crafting and Georama systems. I think it would’ve been much better if it were easier to obtain weapons, armor, or new furnishings for your Georama. Instead I eventually succumbed to the realization that the game demanded way too much of my time to really progress. Instead of pushing forward, it made me want to take WKC out of my PS3 and move on to another game.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I really enjoyed WKC. There is a fun and uniquely deep base here that I hope Level-5 can build on for the sequel. The Georama and online aspects added a lot to the game. In fact, if WKC lacked these components I would have scored it lower. Hopefully we will see some needed tweaks in the upcoming sequel.

SCORE: 7/10

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Final Fantasy XIII Publisher: Square EnixDeveloper: Square Enix
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: March 9, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII) is yet another game that I struggled with assigning a score to. If I look at piecemeal it seems like a great game, but when it is all put together I feel like it falls short.

Overall the graphics are very good. During battles the spell and combat effects look really good. For the most part, the character models looks really good. However, whenever there is a close up you can see where they cut some corners. I count myself among the crowd that thinks the game suffered from becoming multiplatform. There are a lot of low resolution textures, and even the way the game is designed feels like it was compromised to work with the 360’s DVD limitations.

Which brings me to the worse part of this game. It is incredibly linear. You are forced to run down one long corridor after another. It is designed like a shooter. However that style of game design only works for fast paced action games or shooters. Where you are constantly fighting enemies in real time and are usually met with dramatic set-pieces. In FFXIII you run down mostly empty  and confined pathways. You engage enemies, and are then warped into a battle mode. After defeating the enemies you are warped back to the map. This is standard for a lot of RPGs, but the fact that there are no side-quests until much later in the game (waits until the second disc for the 360… convenient?) makes most of the game feel like one long corridor. If this was more of an action-RPG, this may have worked better. Or maybe even if it was a shorter game, as it really drags at times.

The battle system is more about managing your roles (think job classes) than actually controlling any one character. It is fast paced and flashy, but most of the time ends up feeling like I was just pressing “x” to win. You do need to juggle your roles a lot more later on in the game, but I still think it was lacking.

The characters are decent, and the story is good. Both of which are very important when it comes to RPG’s, especially when they are fairly long. They both had me interested enough to make me want to complete the game. Even after I became bored of the combat or fatigued by the seemingly endless amount of linear maps.

There were times when I completely loved FFXIII, but they a minute later I would be met by something that made me loathe it. It feels like the game could have been something much better and has left me wanting. If it hadn’t been so linear and felt like it was artificially extended just to make it seem like a longer game (which fans of the serious usually expect), I think it would have been a better game. Maybe we will see some serious revisions in the sequel, FFXIII-2.

SCORE: 8/10

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Fallout: New Vegas Publisher: BethesdaDeveloper: Obsidian
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC  /  Genre: WRPG  /  Release Date: October 21, 2010

Where do I begin… Fallout: New Vegas had a lot to prove to me after playing Fallout 3. I could tell there was an idea of a good game in both of these games, but I was also horribly burned by maybe the worst high-profile game engine in the industry. The bug ridden, low performance, and flat out broken Gamebryo engine. It was completely frustrating in Fallout 3 and when I heard they were still using that engine for New Vegas my heart sunk. I was really hoping they’d do the right thing and release an actually functional game. Turns out, they may have released an even more broken game than Fallout 3.

I know, why am I focusing on the engine and not the game so far in this review? Well, that’s because you have to be able to totally look past the massive amount of problems the engine contributes to the game in-order to find anything redeeming about New Vegas. There are the small issues, like poor lip-synching, late loading textures, and clipping. These are generally forgivable in an open world game if they aren’t too frequent. That is not the case with New Vegas. I would enter buildings or areas to be met with large portions (sometimes whole buildings, the ground, etc) of the world not being textured. It abruptly reminds you that you’re playing a game, and a poorly made on at that.

Then there are the larger problems. Hell, you can’t even run in the game without dropping frames like a tree drops leaves in the fall. I would have to stop moving so the game wouldn’t freeze on me. Even trying to move around the world cautiously to avoid these problems it would still regularly freeze on me (even after the patches that supposedly fixed that problem). Then you have broken missions, characters getting stuck inside each other, or maybe even you getting stuck in the worlds geometry. It’s like the real enemy of the game is the Gamebryo engine… and it usually wins.

As for the actual game, it’s ok. I enjoyed the setting and story more than I did in Fallout 3. Roaming the wastelands going where you please is still immensely gratifying. This is why you play these games. FInding new areas, new enemies, and new stories hidden away in documents, new NPC’s, or computers you get to hack. All of this is satisfying, and what I want out of a new Fallout game.

It is such a shame that a good game was ruined for me due to all the technical problems.  I really wanted to be able to look past this, but since the game wants to constantly remind that it can’t run properly I can’t. Maybe the game just wants you to take a break, for your health, so it freezes which then requires you to get up and shut down your PS3. Or maybe it is time to kill off the Gamebryo engine and move on to a new one (which I believe they are with their next game). If you are able to stomach all the technical problems (a.k.a. a broken game) there is a fun game to be found in there.

SCORE: 4/10


Backlog Barrage! Shootin’ Dudes In The Face Edition

December 19, 2010

MAG Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Zipper
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: January 26, 2010

MAG is easily my biggest surprise this generation. Until this generation, I had pretty much no interest in FPS games and even less interest in playing them online. Heck, I wasn’t even interested in MAG until the week leading up to release where I decided to pre-order this online only game at the last possible moment. I am really glad I did, as I have spent an ungodly amount of time with this tactical squad based shooter.

Yes, you are basically running around shooting people the whole time like any other shooter. However, since it is all objective based it feels totally different. People fall into roles, medics, snipers, engineers, and so on. You can mix and match these abilities, weapons, and equipment to make load-outs that suit different situations and your play style. This customization is great and being able to re-spec relatively cheaply makes it so you can always try out new gear or revise your character if you ended up not liking your build.

The main draw to MAG is the sheer number of players. It depends on the mode you are playing, but in Domination the game supports 256 players. You won’t see all of these players on screen at once, unless everyone swarms one area, but they are there and it really feels like a massive battle is taking place. Even in the smaller game modes there is a large number of players, so the game never feels empty. And like I said before, since it is objective based you are able to gain experience points by doing more than just killing enemies. Actually, healing and other objective based goals usually yield more points so it encourages players to help each other as opposed to just run off all lone wolf style.

If there was only one shooter I could have played this year, it would have been MAG. The sheer amount of players, tactical gameplay, customization, and feel of the game have made it one of my favorite games of 2010.

SCORE: 9/10

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Medal of Honor Publisher: EADeveloper: Danger Close, DICE
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: October 12, 2010

Once again I find myself scratching my head and coming to a different conclusion then most “reviewers” of a game I played. Medal of Honor got a lot of mixed reviews, and a lot of the negatives came from being compared to other games. I can see why one would compare a FPS to the other FPS’s on the market, but to mark it down for not being those games is just stupid. Let Medal of Honor be its own game. That is why it doesn’t play like the two main shooters it was compared to. It’s like they want every game to be the same. Anyway, that is a whole other topic so let me get back on topic.

Medal of Honor comes at the FPS genre in a much less arcady and more realistic direction. You can’t dual wield shotguns, you can’t really run and gun your way through a level. You are meant to be more cautious and more precise. The atmosphere of the game lends itself to this style. I’m not going to say it is actually realistic, but in comparison to the other shooters on the market it sure does feel more real. Hell, even with all the jumping around between characters I still ended up caring for them throughout their trials.

The multiplayer aspect feels a little more fast paced than the single player, but over all it isn’t your typical run and gun (unless you only play the deathmatch modes). The most popular mode, and one I played the most is Combat Mission. This is a team objective based mode. You have to defend strategic spots, or attack them. These are played on larger maps and include limited vehicles. I really enjoyed this mode in particular a lot, and the overall multiplayer experience in general. You level up one of three classes as you play (able to switch load outs and class during your re-spawn), and unlock weapons and mods as you do so. I wish there were more unlocks and more customization, but that is a minor complaint.

So despite some of the poor reviews I really hope EA plans to keep Medal of Honor heading in this direction. If they are able to work out some of the flaws I think they could make a modern FPS that can hang with the other big FPS franchises on the market right now. If you are tired of some of the other shooters I’d easily recommend getting this game.

SCORE: 8/10

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Publisher: EADeveloper: DICE
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: March 2, 2010

I ended up getting Battlefield: Bad Company 2 much later than its initial release date, but I’m glad I finally got around to playing it. There are some noticeable changes form the first game which may change how you feel about the game overall. I personally didn’t mind the change to a more linear format in the single-player. You are not as free to pick a path in a level, but there is still a lot of room to maneuver and choose your path through the environments.

The other notable change is the interaction of the characters during the story. There is a more serious tone to this game than the previous one. It isn’t as serious as the most recent Medal of Honor game, but the characters aren’t cracking the same jokes during cut scenes as they did in the first game. They do still have their more personal and usually amusing conversations as you move through a level. The down side is that if they start talking during a firefight you may not be able to really hear them with all the gun fire, explosions, and crumbling buildings. Which is a shame as I really enjoyed the joking conversations these characters had. It’s still there, but you have to pay attention to catch most of them.

Even with these changes the single-player is still a lot of fun, but that will only last you several hours. After that, you’ll want to turn your attention to the multiplayer. Here you can spend a ton of time ranking up your different classes and unlocking a ton of gear. I was once again drawn into the more team oriented multiplayer modes. Which have you either attacking or defending positions.

If you play FPS’s you’ll feel right at home, but the destructible buildings really change up how you approach taking or defending a position. This along with the different classes and characters found in the single-player are what makes it feel different from the other major FPS on the market. Which is a very good thing in my opinion.

SCORE: 8/10

New Medal of Honor Multiplayer Trailer

September 9, 2010

Earlier today EA posted a new Medal of Honor multiplayer trailer on the PlayStation Blog (seen above) for a mode called Combat Mission. I’m not going to analyze the details of the trailer, as I mainly just wanted to post the trailer and my response to it since it has me rather excited about the online portion of Medal of Honor. This is because the mode shown in the trailer is objective based and requires teamwork. Variations on deathmatch are fun and all, but having actual objectives besides “kill x amount of dudes” makes for a much more engaging game in my opinion. Thankfully I won’t have to wait too long before I can play this mode, and other portions of Medal of Honor, as it comes out on October 12, 2010.

Dead Space 2 First Multiplayer Info

September 5, 2010

Sometime this month we are suppose to get an official announcement of Dead Space 2’s multiplayer, but it seems as with most things in this industry it may have already been partially leaked.

At the annual GameStop conference EA gave up the first details of the multiplayer. One of the multiplayer modes featured in Dead Space 2 will be soldiers versus necromorphs. I’m not too sure how this mode will work out, seeing as the standard necromorphs don’t stand up too well against Issac in single player. However if they are able to balance it correctly and allow for the necromorphs to move more stealthily about the level via ducts or other pathways only accessible for them it could get rather interesting.

Along with this tidbit of multiplayer info, some pre-order news came out of the conference as well. If you pre-order at GameStop you will get a free Rivet Gun. I’m not sure if this is for the multiplayer, but it is probably more likely for the single player portion of the game. Also, no matter where you pre-order Dead Space 2 it seems you will be get the downloadable prequel Dead Space: Ignition for free! This is very good news, as I was worried they were going to over charge for it.

Hopefully EA will make their official announcement soon and we will get some footage of the multiplayer aspects of Dead Space 2. I didn’t think they needed to add multiplayer, but I will wait and see how it turns out before passing judgment as I was wrong about Uncharted getting multiplayer.

Source: PlayStation LifeStyle

Vanquish Demo Impressions

September 3, 2010

Earlier this week a demo for Platinum Games’ newest game, Vanquish was released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. It is only a small sample of what I hope will be a suitably lengthy game seeing as there is no multiplayer., but it is more than enough to tell whether or not you will be interested in Vanquish.

When you start the demo you can either select a playable section of the full game or a tutorial section. I’d suggest going through the tutorial first, but if you’ve played other third-person shooters (TPS) you should feel somewhat comfortable with the controls. However, Vanquish isn’t your normal TPS.

Once you start playing the game part of the demo you will immediately realize that Vanquish is much faster and frantic than your typical TPS. It thrusts you into a rather hectic fire fight. Because of this it may take you some time to adjust to the way it plays. You will want to make use of cover, and more importantly the abilities your suit grants you. It allows you to propel yourself at high speeds, sliding on your knees the whole time, around the environment. This is incredibly useful to move from cover to cover, boost up to enemies for melee attacks, to jet over to a fallen comrade and revive them (resulting in some sort of ammo drop as a reward for your help), or even used to escape if you find yourself low on health. This simple ability makes you much more mobile and really does change the feel of the game when compared to contemporary TPS’s. However, this isn’t the only ability the suit grants you as you can also enter a slow-mo mode. This allows you to aim much better amidst the mayhem going on during the demo. You can combo them into each other and also use slow-mo as you vault over cover. Doing this really makes you feel like a badass, for lack of a better word. Both of these abilities are limited by one meter, so using either drains it. It does regenerate quickly, but if you use all of it you’ll have to let it cool down before you can tap into it again. Who knows if the suit will grant you other powers as well, but even if it’s just these two I think I’d be content with that.

From the demo it is hard to say how the story will go and the characters will develop. You may be turned off by some of the voice work, as it seems very inline with voice work done for dubbed anime. I admit I wasn’t sure about it the first time I played through it, but after playing through the demo several times I don’t mind it. In fact it may even suit the game as it has a very over the top anime vibe to it.

Overall I was very pleased with the demo. I was hoping Vanquish would play and feel different than other TPS’s and that is exactly what it is doing, and doing it very well. So I’d recommend playing the demo yourself if you think you are up for trying an over the top fast paced anime inspired TPS.

Catherine Trailer & More (Via Kotowari.org)

August 21, 2010

I just wanted to make a quick post to show off the trailer for Atlus’ new, and first HD game, Catherine. I’m not going to go into any depth about the game, as my friend Roy of Kotowari.org has already done so and to a great extent. So if you are at all interested in this game at all I highly suggest you check out Roy’s posts about it. He has covered the info from the trailer, scans from Famitsu (you can also see the images on his site), and some good old fashioned speculation about the game. So if you are interested in this game make sure to head over to his site and get schooled. As for me, I’ll just say that I’m really interested in this game, and love its look and atmosphere. Hopefully we’ll get to see some gameplay at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show in September.

Dead Space 2 Prequel Announced

July 18, 2010

EA has announced a downloadable prequel to Dead Space 2, called Dead Space Ignition. This extension of Dead Space 2 will be a mix of motion comic and game. Which sounds like an interesting tie-in for a franchise I am a huge fan of.

In the lead up to the original Dead Space EA released a serious of very well done motion comics on both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. An example of these (episode zero) is at the top of this post. I really enjoyed these comics, as they added to the story and mythos of the Dead Space fiction. Which is actually very interesting, especially for a game. It isn’t just about shooting necromorphs, although that is still a lot of fun. The same author will be returning to work on Ignition.

It sounds like it will mostly be a choose your own adventure style game, but will have some hacking mini-games mixed in. I doubt we’ll be playing as Isaac, or following him in Ignition. Most likely we will be following a person or people that live on the Sprawl, the giant space station that is the setting for Dead Space 2. Hopefully it will give us information about how the necromorphs got there, and give us even more insight into the twisted religion know as Unitology which is a very important part of the world of Dead Space.

EA hasn’t given us a price, but I’m hoping it is very reasonable considering it is mostly a promotional game and to be honest I’m not too sure how much actual game will be in it. Also, the comics for the first game were free. Ignition will actually give you in-game items and even an exclusive suit. Dead Space Ignition will release sometime in the fall of 2010, which should leave you enough time to see all four endings and get ready for Dead Space 2 which releases on January 25, 2011.

Dead Space 2 E3 Footage & PS3 Exclusive Content

July 10, 2010

At E3 this year, EA didn’t disappoint me and many other gamers as well with their footage of Dead Space 2. They showed off two impressive demos, one of which is was shown off during Sony’s E3 press event since there was a special Sony exclusive announcement. I’ll get to that later on, but lets first talk about the trailers (seen above).

First off you’ll notice that Dead Space 2 is looking great and still has an amazing atmosphere like the first game. Necromorphs are still looking exceptionally nasty and being creepy as ever. Jumping out of grates, busting through walls, and coming out of the shadows in an all out effort to kill you.

The trailers show off several new necromorphs, some of which we’ve seen in screens before. We finally got to see the small child-like necromorphs that will swarm you since they travel in packs. It looks like you’ll have to use your stasis ability for crowd control against these guys or you’ll b quickly overwhelmed. In the trailers we also got to see some returning necromorphs and two new rather large ones as well. The first large one attacks Isaac, the main character of Dead Space 2, in a church of Unitology and starts to drag him away. Like in the first game, you’ll have to shoot some weak spots to make it drop you and retreat. If you’ve played the first game, you’ll know how stressful this can be. As you can’t easily shoot and aim while you are being dragged or held upside down. It really makes you feel the desperation of the situation.

The second even larger necromorph is in the second trailer. It is much more aggressive and brutish than the one in the church. It is going all out to kill you. It destroys the area you are in and forces Isaac to run for his life. In doing so you enter a chase scene, where you have to use your stasis ability to open doors in front of you.

This chase leads you to a more open room with a view of the sprawl, which is immediately obstructed by some type of ship that is firing on you from outside. The rain of bullets break the windows, which in turn breaks the seal of the room you are in. This causes everything to be sucked out the window. Isaac struggles to not get sucked out, but the large necromorph that was chasing you comes into the room and is pulled out into space, bringing Isaac with it. The demo shortly ends after this, with Isaac fighting the large necromorph in Zero G. It was very action packed and frantic.

All of this just looks amazing. It looks like Visceral Games is keeping all the good stuff that made the original Dead Space so great while adding enough to make it a worthy sequel. You won’t be only in hallways, as you are not stuck to a space ship this time. Instead you are on a colony, known as the Sprawl. Besides the much larger world, there will be some new guns in Dead Space 2. The one shown in the first trailer is a javelin gun, which pins enemies against objects and walls… Always fun.

Visceral also mentioned that there will be a much stronger emphasis on the Unitologists actions, plan, and religion in this game. Which brings up something else very interesting in these trailers. That ship that is firing on you must be operated by humans. So this means there will be human enemies as well as necromorphs in Dead Space 2. I’m guessing these will be tied to the church of Unitology, seeing how they believe the necromorphs are a good thing and Isaac is trying to exterminate them.

Oh, and don’t forget about that Sony exclusive announcement. After the demo at Sony’s conference EA announced that Dead Space Extraction will be coming out with Dead Space 2 for the PS3 in a limited edition of the game. It will be on the single blu-ray disc, and free. Meaning the limited edition will be your standard $60, but you’ll be getting two games for that price. It will be an HD port, with trophy support, of the previously Wii exclusive game. I know this might not be the biggest announcement ever, but it was a big deal to me. I’ve always wanted to play Extraction, but never got around to it. I didn’t have  a Wii when it came out, and then decided to hold out once rumors of it making its way to the PS3 starting to surface. So I’m glad I waited it out, as I will get it in HD, with trophies, and for free! It will be a PS3 exclusive for now, but I’m sure it will turn up on both the PlayStation Store and Xbox Marketplace for a price.

Dead Space 2 was one of my favorite games at E3. I loved the first one, and I think it is a great universe. One that I have been looking forward to jumping back into it. Dead Space 2 will release on January 25, 201, so I’ll have to wait a bit. I think I am willing to do so, so they can polish what could be a game of the year contender for 2011.

Vanquish Gets A Release Date

July 9, 2010

Platinum Games’ upcoming over the top third-person shooter Vanquish has been given an official release date for both Japan and North America. It is set to release on October 19th in North America and October 21st in Japan.

Sega also announced that Vanquish will receive DLC at launch and in the future. The launch DLC will be free and come with the game. It will be a weapon pack that will include a Boost Machine Gun, Anti Armor Pistol, and a Laser Cannon. If you don’t get these at launch you will be able to download them later on the PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace for a price. Sega didn’t go into detail about the other DLC, but they did say it will not be free.

Vanquish is one of my most anticipated games for 2010. So it is nice to finally get a solid release date. It looks like a nice take on the third-person cover based shooter genre. Hopefully it will live up to my expectations.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood E3 2010 Trailers

July 6, 2010

Ubisoft finally spilled the beans about Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood at this years E3. Letting us know what exactly makes up this new edition of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. They showed footage of both the single player and multiplayer aspects of the game.

Lets get the single player out of the way first (above). In the demo, you will see Ezio defending his villa using cannons that are located on the surrounding fortified walls. Ubisoft use this as an example of their promise of many different gameplay experiences that will make up Brotherhood. They also said they slightly changed the combat and added more horse combat. All of this sounds fine, but not sure it is enough to make it worth a purchase seeing as Assassin’s Creed 2 isn’t that old.

The multiplayer on the other hand (above), is what will probably bring people to this game more than the single player. Ubisoft demoed off one type of multiplayer mode, which was basically a predator and prey gameplay style. You are given a target and you must assassinate them to gain points. However, there is also someone stalking you this whole time as well. It sounds like you will want to blend in to the crowds as much as possible, as to not stand out. It also sounds like you will be able to have different load outs for the multiplayer, which could add a nice level of strategy to it. It looked fairly fun, but I think I’ll need to actually get my hands on it to see if it is really worth it or not.

Even with all this footage and some of the info that came out of E3, I’m still not sure what to make of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. I really enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 2, so I should be pretty excited about this game but as it stands now I’m only mildly interested. Most of that interest comes from seeing what they do with the multiplayer and how it feels once I get a chance to play it. There will be a beta for the PS3, so hopefully I can get in on that to make up my mind. I’m also waiting to hear more about the single player aspect of the game. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up feeling like something that was cut from the first game to add on to the multiplayer in order make it feel like a full retail game.