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THE CHASES OF L.A. NOIRE

May 23, 2011 Leave a comment

There isn’t any shortage of chase scenes throughout most of Rockstars’ L.A. Noire. In fact, you’ll often ask yourself how some of the people you’re chasing have achieved such speed; even those who are blatantly overweight and should be a push-over to catch up with. While the chase scenes may be a little nerve-racking at first try to keep your cool. Some times you’ll have the option to draw your weapon but more often than not the game will penalize you for shooting a fleeing suspect (unless instructed otherwise). You’ll find suspects running and running and running: some suspects you’ll catch up with and others will attempt to challenge you to a fistfight (idiots). Just don’t rely on your partner for much help though it isn’t odd for them to cut off a fleeing suspect by car. If you’re patient and haven’t shot the suspect sometimes they will just simply corner themselves, allowing for an almost anti-climactic  conclusion.  If you happen to shoot the suspect by accident or out of sheer impulse not to worry, the game will reset back to the beginning of the chase and hopefully you’ll have learned that patience is the key to catching a fleeing suspect on foot. Again, don’t think you’re doing anything wrong or not hitting an appropriate button: apparently in this game everyone BUT Cole Phelps is a track-star prodigy.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE FORGOTTEN SANDS

August 22, 2010 2 comments

3.5 / 5

While the new Prince of Persia’s release may have been overshadowed by Rocktars’ release of Red Dead Redemption, it still packs a pretty big punch. Playing this game after playing through Assassin’s Creed 1 and 2 really gives you a sense of familiarity and taps into perhaps Ubisofts’ inspiration behind the Assassin’s Creed series. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands presents an unmatched array of abilities which manageably escalate in difficulty, and are honestly a hell of a lot of fun to use. Enemies and bosses in the game are on the easy side….the very easy side, and you’ll seldom find yourself in situations where using your powers are “necessary,”  but, with all Prince of Persia games, it’s not about fighting but more about incorporating newly acquired abilities into getting from place to place.

BOMBERMAN ULTRA

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment

4.5 / 5

The DLC release of Bomberman Ultra on the Playstation Network has fans eagerly surrendering a mere $9.99 to get in on the action. Those gamers not familiar with the game, or its preceeding releases, this is your opportunity to play one of the most fun and mayhem-filled 4 player games out there. Whether you want to practice on the computer in up to 8 player Local Play, or take your skills Online in an assortment of various competitive modes, it’s surprising Bomberman Ultra maintains its anonymity among critics. Local Play is a good way to get a handle on what Bomberman is all about if you aren’t familiar with it: kill your enemies by strategically placing, throwing, kicking and punching bombs along the map while always be mindful of the path of/to safety. Blowing up boxes and getting power ups (increase fire, speed, etc) is the road to strengthening your bomber and creating an easier path to victory. Customizing your matches is quick and easy and adds an extra level of difficulty through introducing new ways to kill or be killed.

 

RED DEAD REDEMPTION

July 1, 2010 2 comments

 

9.5 / 10

It’s difficult to argue the fact that mass excitement surrounds almost every release from Rockstar Games. While still likely basking in praise from the popular Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar looks to have a promising 2010. The announcement of a new PS3 exclusive IP currently dubbed “Agent”  looks to be expected sometime this year, as well as a highly anticipated “L.A. Noire” hitting shelves this fall. But for the time being it seems the majority of gamers are all talking about the same thing: Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption comes as a creative successor to “Red Dead Revolver.” While Revolver overall received little acclaim from the gaming community, it served as a bridge to one of the best games of 2010 (thus far). Redemption is NOT a sequel; it seems our adventures with Red Harlow have been abandoned completely and we now occupy a familiar looking gun by the name of John Marston. While the game keeps track of various aspects of your decisions throughout the game, fame and heroism are attained through doing good deeds. Whether you are helping various strangers along the way or simply continuing on throughout your story every action, negative or positive, will affect the way people in the game respond to you.

Whether your accepting a dual from a stranger in a saloon, or hunting coyotes  for some extra cash, Red Dead Redemption provides you with an overhwhelmingly expansive and truly breathtaking environment to help unfold your story. And the environments really are breathtaking: you may even find yourself just sitting idle on your horse and staring at the night sky because it looks THAT DAMN GOOD. The game doesn’t necessarily encourage hunting but be sure that you do it often; it’s an easy way to build your bankroll and unlock/purchase a variety of helpful necessities from various shops, gunsmiths, and doctors, including: faster horses, rifles/pistols, survival maps, medicine, and a plethora of outfits that become specifically useful when dealing with certain parts of the game.

The mini games are only a tiny fraction of your Red Dead Redemption experience, but they can certainly prove to be a hell of a lot of fun. Between Poker, Blackjack, Liars Dice, Horseshoes, and Five Finger Fillet, you can truly find yourself getting sidetracked peculiarly often. Some take time to get the hang of; five-finger fillet and liars dice, but when you do you’ll find yourself spending more time on these mini games then developers may have originally intended.

Controls take very little getting used to. Most gamers familiar with any kind of shooters will jump right into Redemption no problem. Of course the famous “Dead Eye” feature, staple of the Red Dead series is back, and as awesome as ever. For those unfamiliar with Dead Eye, your meter allows you to slowdown time and mark your targets; allowing you to take out multiple baddies at once. Be mindful of your meter when using it, it runs out fairly quickly and takes some time to restore. Of course, visits to the shop allow purchase of various items that will instantly restore your meter, so be sure to pick flowers, hunt, and help strangers to maintain a steady cash flow for such upgrades/items.

Online Multiplayer adds a high level of replay value to Redemption. After completing Single Player you can now build your online reputation and apply your skills against the rest of the world and see exactly how you measure up. I’d recommend beating single player first and having a good sense of comfortability with controls and such before diving into multiplayer. While it’s fun there’s a certain level of annoyance in that everyone seems to have the same idea: Kill Everyone. If you’ve coordinated a party with friends than that’s really where you’ll get the most out of online, but running around on your own with no one on your side will likely lead you to repeated deaths and a whole heap of frustration.

With all the anticipation surrounding their future 2010 releases, Rockstar has proven yet again that they make quality, entertaining, kick ass games. Breathtaking environments, obnoxiously addicting mini games, and a gaming experience unmatched by any other of its genre, Red Dead Redemption undoubtedly inserts itself as a potential 2010 Game of the Year recipient.

JUST CAUSE 2

June 9, 2010 2 comments

7 / 10

Just Cause 2 isn’t a game that should be on the top of your list of games to play. At the same time it shouldn’t be on the bottom. If you’re concerned about playing the original first my advice to you is to curb your curiosity entirely; it’s a terrible game. Certainly comparable to the mixed reception of Assassins Creed: tedious and unexciting. As for 2 we see some intriguing improvements, but a continuing lack of depth in what could have been an unbelievably expansive open world sandbox game.

Getting around in Just Cause 2 is a hell of a lot of fun. The convenience of releasing your parachute at any time adds to the entertaining part of traveling, coupled with the newly introduced grappling hook. As you become more familiar with the grappling hook you’ll quickly and creatively incorporate it into the way you get around, as well as in the way you take out various enemies throughout the game. If you like causing destruction and chaos this is definitely the game for you, but do prepare yourself for a game that gets very old, very fast.

Chaos is the key to furthering the story and unlocking objective missions in Just Cause 2, and it gets pretty repetitive. If you are one of those people who thought Assassin’s Creed pickpocketing missions were tedious, Just Cause 2 redefines the term. Aside from the occasional race challenges, which bear near meaningless rewards and often involve airplanes with some of the worst handling and controls you may ever encounter, the game is surprisingly limited for an open world game. If you’re not discovering a civilization, then you’re trying effortlessly to blow one up, one fuel station or army base at a time. While there are sidemissions, like joining a military faction, the objectives and missions are just as, if not more lackluster and unexciting. The run and gun system is entertaining but often annoying as there is no way to take cover. In that sense, when you are introduced to a room of baddies, your only choice is to hope for the best and pray your rambo-esque attack is enough to keep you alive. It’s almost laughable the lack of stealth this game provides you with, given the nature of the game. It would be so much easier if you could sneak attack a few guys first before throwing yourself into the open; especially considering the aforementioned inconsistency and unexpected results of run and gunning.

This whole seek and destroy concept is fun, but would of course be more effective in smaller doses. What this game forgets to do is to take and tweak aspects of other open-world games to help create a more involving and still original gaming experience. If you do decide to play it you’ll likely find yourself, more often than not, rattling off to yourself things you COULD be doing that developers neglected to include.

BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

9.5 / 10

Who would have thought that Rocksteady Games, a fairly fledgeling developing company, would have their second project be the juggernaut of a game it has turned out to be. Expectedly in the running for game of the year, alongside Assassins Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Game of the Year Recipient Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Batman: Arkham Asylum heavily appeals to gamers of any particular skill/commitment level; and, if you’re into the comics and the whole Batman thing, you may even learn a thing or two.

If you’re looking for a game with smooth gameplay this is your game. The opening minutes of the game you’ll immediately realize that. Fighting sequences in this game are unmatched by others, and future games will no doubt take traces of this game’s astounding gameplay success and incorporate it into future titles. Button mashers beware, hand to hand combat in this game is very sensitive, what button mashing may have helped you with in other games WILL NOT help you in this game. Hand to hand combat is easy, but a great deal of patience is required to build the largest combinations possible. Like other games variations score big points, so while fighting opponents you’ll be prompted during combinations to vary your moves, which as you’ll see will be nothing other than personally rewarding for Batman, and any upgrades that become available throughout the game. The more varied your combinations the more points (duh!), and the quicker you’ll be able to purchase items from “WayneTech.” WayneTech is a branch of Wayne enterprises where Batman gathers his equipment; a pleasing callback to avid fans of the comics and series.

Fight Scarecrow, Bane, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and more! Solve an array of demented riddles from the Riddler; gather his trophies, and along the way unlock biographies of all the characters of Batman, heroes AND villians. This is a great way to read more into character backstories including factual insight like names, aliases, and their overall involvement in the all-encompassing Batman story. For existing fans of Batman you will love it, and for new fans you’ll find it capturing and interesting. As you progress in the story you’ll see that increasingly difficult obstacles arise, but not to worry. As you progress in the story all your newly acquired WayneTech equipment will guide you through any dead ends you may encounter: whether its the batclaw for propelling you up previously unscalable buildings, batarangs stunning armed enemies, or upgrading your armor – an importantly overlooked upgrade which is most helpful for the frequent “Boss” battles in Arkham Asylum.

Be sure to frequently, if not always use Detective mode, the stand-out feature of Arkham Asylum. Detective Mode, similar to Assassins Creeds’ Eagle Eye, allows you to see items that are not visible through Batmans regular view. Detective mode assists in viewing objects that are potentially breakable, so Batman can get around easier and more stealthily, or, Detective mode will help you follow blood and alcohol trails that are necessary to tracking down clues throughout the story. Detective mode also helps identify batclaw points; batclaw points are where Batman can propel himself to higher ledges or objects. Their are many rooms in Arkham Asylum that are filled with both armed and unarmed prisoners (use detective mode to identify the armed and unarmed, red prisoners are armed, blue are unarmed). As the game deepens you’ll find that most rooms have NO unarmed guards and you’ll begin to see prisoners with tazers, but not to worry. Propelling up to objects (like ledges, gargoyles, etc) will allow you to move around unnoticed and plot an opportune time to take down one guard at a time. Be patient in situations like these; if you’re patient enough when prisoners get close to your location you’ll be button prompted to glide kick or drop and grab them. You’ll see that if your patient prisoners spread apart enough to make this as hazard free as possible. People make the mistake of not using Detective mode enough, and my recommendation to them is that you’ve likely missed a handful of breakable walls that have either lead to Riddler Trophies, Character Bio’s, Interview Tapes, or other important items throughout the span of the game. Did i mention you need to be patient?

Overall the game is a must play for any gamer, fan or no fan of Batman. Remember that combo attacks are very fluid, so sideline your button mashing impulses and plan your combo’s well; the higher your combo’s the more points, and the more points the more frequently you’ll be upgrading Batman. Use these points and upgrades to make present your unstoppable abilities to various Bosses, all of whom are impressively captured by the games design and art team. Don’t forget, a good portion of the game’s story involves tracking down clues using Detective Mode, so be sure to use it to your advantage. As you begin to progress through the game you’ll be pleased to see a “Challenge Mode” bar at the main menu. Transfer your acquired skills from playing the Batman story to climb the online ranks of Challenge Mode. Their is a good mix of maps in this mode, some of which are strictly fighting and combo related, as others involve more stealth objectives, like taking out a room of armed guards in a designted amount of time. Either way, their are enough challenge maps and difficulties to keep you playing Arkham Asylum well after you’ve beaten it.

HEAVY RAIN

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

9.5 / 10

To those who have played Indigo Prophecy for the PS2, no stranger will you be to Quantic Dreams’ PS3 exclusive release of “Heavy Rain.” For those of you that HAVEN’T, prepare yourself for a gaming experience unmatched by any other game you have ever played.

Enter the dark and expectedly damp world of HEAVY RAIN through the eyes of four strangers, as the hunt for the Origami Killer orchestrates their own personal motives: The FBI Agent, The Insomniac, The Private Detective, and The Father of the victim in question. The first thing we notice when we meet these characters for the first time is how noticeably displeasing the voice acting is. I mean, things like this seldom affect my gaming experience but its tough not to say it’s a little annoying. Getting through the first hour is slow; to be completely honest the whole game is slow, but once through the developmental part of the game is REALLY when those little annoyances like slowness and voice acting are overshadowed by the overwhelmingly involving experience that is HEAVY RAIN.

Adding to this stimulating and often frustrating experience is a system in which deaths and continues are equally non-existent. Dying in this game simply shifts the story to another character still alive in the HEAVY RAIN story. So, you CAN die, but there are no replays. Of course if you wanted to go back for a trophy or just to say you got the better of that specific part, everything is broken down into chapters on the menu screen, making playbacks convenient and appealing. The countless endings and shifts in story via decisions and potential deaths are overall what gives HEAVY RAIN such a high replay value.

This concept of no continues plays heavily into the way your particular HEAVY RAIN story will unfold. Everything comes back to circumstances of decisions made throughout the story. So, it’s quite possible a friend of yours, among others, experienced a different game completely. In an attempt to be brutally honestly their’s no doubt this game will frustrate you. Interestingly the controls make it possible to see whats on your current characters mind, leading you to complete certain tasks or direct your story to a specific person or place. Similarly, in moments of distress or demanding quickness, these fill the screen in a way that’s hard to see, and which allows you a shorter time to choose. Thats the frustrating part of the game, making these last-minute decisions and hoping that they end up serving the story you want to play. It’s tough because their will be times where you choose something by mistake, simply because you didn’t have enough time to feasibly weigh your options.

Despite some of the frustrations you’ll certainly see the rewarding side of this game as every scene becomes increasingly saturated with mystery, suspense, and a rapid rise in difficulty. Overall the game does a good job of evenly distributing the allotted time we spend with each character. Each character shares an equal ability of interaction with things around them, some consequential and some not. Their is so much interactive potential in this game; the only limit is your willingness to do so.

Every gamer should play this game at least once, despite your loyalties to a specific genre. HEAVY RAIN combines a captivatingly mysterious, dark, and suspensful character driven story with a cutting edge gameplay mechanic that’s addictively absorbing. How this story unfolds is entirely up to you.