Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

Category Archives: Game Reviews

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Box artI had waited for this title. I really, really wanted it. And of course, I got it on launch day.

Legend of  Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a remastered version of the classic title that original appeared on the N64, which is possible the best Zelda game of all time. And of course, one of my personal favorites.  So, it’s time to talk about it

Note: This is an article for fans of the original. If you haven’t played the original, or aren’t a Zelda fan, I don’t give you much back story.

How does it compare to the original version?

The over all game play is pretty much the exact same. Levels, bosses, difficulty, items, etc are almost the same as they were in the original.  All the audio is identical to the audio in the original. Everything that we’ve loved about Ocarina of Time (and Navi) are all there,  very true to how they were on the N64.  And it’s completely splendid.

Of course, there have been some changes and new additions. Master quest is now available when you beat the game, and you can now go and battle any bosses you’ve beaten. I didn’t ever play master quest before, so I’m excited about it. I haven’t tried the new boss battle system, and honestly likely won’t try it, so I don’t have much comments there.

Now the most notable changes are the new controls with the 3DS, the HUD rearrangement, the gyroscope-view feature, and of course the 3D and graphic overhaul. So let’s break this down.

The New Controls:

So, the first challenge Nintendo had was taking controls from this:

n64 controller

And putting it on this:

Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS

How did it end up working out? Awesomely. Assigning items to different buttons is a breeze with the touch screen and the controls feel completely natural on the new console. The ocarina now has it’s own static button on the touch screen, which means you essentially have an additional item slot.

Additionally- they have made probably the greatest change in the history of  Zelda.The iron boots, which were clothing and had to be equipped and unequipped by pausing the game and going to the clothing screen, are now (along with the hoover boots)  items that can be assigned to a button- no pause screen needed! The water temple is way less of a frustration that it was in the original.

The HUD Rearrangement:

So, on the N64 and your single TV, Nintedo had a lot of things to put on screen. Your hearts, items, buttons, maps… a lot. The 3DS, however, has the benefit of having 2 screens. This means that a lot of space is cleared and you have a much better view of Hyrule. Here are two pictures for comparison.

Ocarina of Time N64Ocarina of Time 3DS

The Gyroscope Aiming: 

In Ocarina of Time 3D, you have 2 choices. You can either use the analog stick or the gyroscope feature, which I feel is one of the best additions they made to the game. With the gyscrope feature, you actually move the 3DS to aim, just like you do on games like Face Raiders or the AR Games.  . Now picture this- you pull out your sling shot, and have all intentions of aiming up to shoot the Skullata above you. But rather than using the joystick, you simply adjust how you’re holding the DS! HOW AMAZING!  Okay, maybe that isn’t very exciting to read. I swear though, I loved this addition. I used the gyroscope aiming over the analog stick aiming 95% of the time. It’s quick and easy to use. It’s smooth. I loved it.

Ocarina of time Comparison of the N64 vs 3DSGraphic Overhaul:

So, Nintendo really did a number on the graphics. Nothing went untouched. It’s amazing. Everything is beautiful. Hyrule is brighter, crisper and with more detail. I was going to say the only way you can truly appreciate it is to see a side by side comcaparison. Lucky enough for me, NOA tweeted the picture to the right just this week. Click it to enlarge.

3D Visuals:

Of course, being on the 3DS, this title has 3D visuals. I want to go on the record and say:

I like the 3D visuals.

I really do. I think it looks great and although its not some game altering experience, and isn’t revolutionizing the title or anything, I enjoy having it on. I also want to go on record and say:

I always end up turning the 3D off.

The problem with the 3D is you have to hold the system at a certain angle. When I first start playing, it’s fine. I always start playing with the 3D on. The 3D becomes an issue when I’ve been playing for a while, or want to lounge in bed while playing. I just can’t hold the 3DS and be comfortable. I start seeing like a second version of Link just off to the right… then I turn the 3D off. If I could lounge and see the 3D fine, I’d keep it on. But I can’t. And my want of being comfy is greater than my want of playing in 3D. So, off it does.

 

Final Call:

This is a great title that I love. It appeals to the old school fans like myself while offering it a way the new players can become involved in an amazing series. A+

HALO: ODST Review

So, I know ODST has been out for a long time… to be exact, it was released in September of 2009… but I just got around to playing it. And to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed with this title. Wanna know why? Here are my reasons.

 

  • I think I was spoiled by HALO: Reach.

I first just want to say I know playing Reach before ODST couldn’t have been helping ODST out at all. Let’s be honest, Reach was amazing. The graphics,  story, balancing… It was sheer awesomeness. It sets the bar really high for future HALO titles. The problem is ODST isn’t a future title, it’s a past title. But, unfortunately for ODST, the HALO title I played most recently was Reach, so that’s the HALO title I keep wanting to compare it to, and it just doesn’t hold up. I know that might not be fair, and it’s likely making not appreciate ODST or some sort of nonsense like that… but oh well.

  • I felt like I spent a lot of time just wandering around, semi-lost.

I really felt like there was a lot of time when I l literally wandering around. I’d be looking for my objective, literally walking in circles.  It got especially bad when I was near my objective, and I was close enough it wasn’t showing up on radar any more… and it would tell me to search the area.  For me, this really took a lot out of the game. It made the pacing feel all wrong. Action. Get lost. Action. Walk around. Action. Walk around. Get lost. Realize you’ve already been here. Find your objective.

I’m also not sure that it helped that pretty much all of the city looked the same. I would have liked to see some variance in the terrain I think. I understand that the whole story took place in the city, but maybe having neighborhoods look different or something? The game got better closer to the end, when I was fighting with the NPCS, but the times when I was the loan soldier walking through the city was horrible.

  • The story was pretty meh. Except for the love story, which was completely horrible.

I’m going to let you know right now, I don’t remember any of the characters names. When what’s-his-face got shot in the chest, I totally didn’t even care.  I didn’t feel a connection to the characters. The story didn’t wow me. And the love story they tried to mash in there was atrocious. Firstly, it really seemed forced. The characters didn’t seem to have an attachment to each other at all. I felt physically uncomfortable at the end when the kissed. Also, I’m not sure when they were evening spending time together to get to know each other. During the fire fights? That’s just awkward. Or did I miss something? Either way… This story lacked the wow moments. Like I said, maybe it’s because I had played Reach before and I was attached to those characters… and I knew their names and was upset when bad things happened.

 

And that’s really about it. The story didn’t wow me, and I felt like I walked around a lot. Pretty simple. Like I said, maybe if  I had played them in the reverse order it wouldn’t have been so bad… but I’m sticking with ODST deserves what I said.

Grade: Meh

 

Dante’s Inferno

Lately I have been loving Dante’s Inferno. It’s really got me at the moment. The graphics are great, I find the epic soundtrack often playing on repeat in my head, and look forward to it at the end of my day. It’s really well done, and even non-Christians could enjoy this title.

 

Game Name: Dante’s Inferno       
Developer: Visceral Games

Publisher: EA
Genre: Hack and Slash

ESRB Rating: M for Mature

Platforms: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

Kat’s history with the game: The local Blockbuster is on its way out of business (RIP!!) and that means everything must go. I have been looking at this title for some time now and recently got the concept art book to add to my collection. I was very impressed and intrigued by the art style, and knew this would be one I would want to check out after seeing the work. $9.99 with 10% off was my Dante’s Inferno ticket, and before long, the Xbox 360 version was in my home and on my big screen, and I was flinging crosses out of my hands and killing the damned every which way.

OK, so it’s obviously a game themed around Christianity, which many people may be turned off by… I’ve heard some people say they won’t play it because it’s “too much like God of War” but lets be honest here, yes it plays a lot like God of War and yes, the tone is religious… But it’s sad that people are missing out on Dante because of those things (I was among those thoughts for a while, until I found out more about the game)… It’s really a good game that I’m afraid a lot of people pass up with an ignorant eye and a closed mind. It really is worth a go. 

Story: ***includes spoilers*** The story is really about a man who has done terrible things under the impression that he would be forgiven by God.. Things like, cheat on his girlfriend, kill people, partake in huge feasts and drinking binges.. Just when everything is looking pretty OK for Dante, he gets killed whilst in battle. Death shows up to escort him to the underworld, which doesn’t make sense to Dante because he has been under the impression that living a life that isn’t pure is OK because his army and religious leader told him he would be forgiven, as long as he fights for God. Death is pretty much like “Nope” and they fight it out. Dante wins and takes Death’s Scythe, (Hence Boxart) and runs home to see his girlfriend Beatrice. When he gets there, he quickly realizes how badly things have been going at home, finding his father and Beatrice slain in their own house and backyard. He is outside with Beatrice‘s body (AWESOMELY detailed cut scene) when her soul rises and begins to speak vague things to him. Suddenly, this unknown, dark guy shrouded in smoke shows up, and wraps his arms around her, and she says to Dante, “Sorry, I have to go with him..” and he pulls her off into the distance before you can say “Oh no you don’t!” But you know Dante has to save her.. Damsel in distress, anyone?  

*** Pick up from here if you skipped the spoilers*** So the story goes, Dante is trying to repent and save his girlfriend, whom he cursed along with himself when he sinned. I will say, at the very beginning of the game, you will be confused..  But not to worry.. it will all come to light once as you get further into the game. There is a unique blending of animated 2D scenes that cuts into the 3D game play, which seems a little strange at first, but you will come to appreciate the more you play the game.

 As Dante, you must descend each level of Hell, confront and overcome his demons, fight all kinds of unique bad guys and bosses, solve rather simple puzzles, and all the while get to know more about Dante and his broken past. You use various Holy and Hellish magic abilities which you earn points to upgrade by slaying enemies in certain ways, and deciding the second fate of sinners who each possess their own scenario of why they are in hell.

Game play: Smooth and easy to pick up. If you played God of War, then you will pretty much be set. If not, you can expect to have quick attacks, heavy attacks, projectile attacks, a double jump, 4 different magic spells equipped at a time, blocking, countering, running and all the other basics, in case I missed any..  

Graphics: The picture shows a dominant red and gold color a lot of the time (as one could imagine). I played the game on an HD television, and the graphics are crisp and the textures are surprisingly smooth (In HD, some games’ repeated textures are more noticeable, where Dante’s graphics are better blended)
Audio: Ambiance is what you will be hearing most I have noticed. The music is very epic and occurs in the most appropriate places; against the epic bosses and bad guys. It’s all orchestrated and very rich. You barely notice it because it’s so natural with the game. However there is a character named Virgil, the only character you interact with outside of cut scenes, and there are times when he is very hard to hear due to the ambiance. Beware of that if you care about dialogue!!

Overall: It’s a very good game with an engaging story. I would recommend it and hope that the reason people pass it up is because they had a different game in mind to buy that day instead of not being interested because of a stereotype. If you enjoy hack and slash, do yourself a favor and try this game out. You won’t be disappointed.
Kat’s Score: **** (4 out of 5) I can’t give it 5 because the game-play mechanics just aren’t original. It’s God of War with a different skin..  However everything else about this game is very well done and you can tell a lot of attention was given to details. I enjoyed this game very much and I think it is very under-rated.

Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon – You still haunt me.

So, I (Tara) walked into Gamestop over the weekend just to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Not necessarily buy anything, just window shop if you will. That’s when I saw this:

Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon with a $40 price tag

The worst game ever with a $40 price tag

 

Now you may be asking yourself, “Why did she take a picture of this game?” Firstly, this game and I go way back. As you may or may not know, Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon was my first title I ever worked on. Ever.  That’s right, you can go right now and pick up this $40 copy and see my name in the credits if you want. Although I suggest you don’t.

Secondly, this is the worst game ever. It’s horrible. The jokes are bad. The story sucks. The gameplay is lack luster. The art is atrocious. There is no online. There is no multiplayer. There was never DLC. The game crashes… I could go on.

Thirdly, this game – THE WORST GAME EVER – which is like 3 years old by this point… IS MARKED AT $40.

Let’s do a comparison:

  • Halo: Reach is marked at $45.  So it’s only $5 more and way newer and more popular.
  • Resident Evil 5 is marked for $23.  So, it’s a way better game, and almost half as much.
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is marked for $40… the same price and clearly the better game.

Once again… I could go on.

I was floored. I decided to ask the guy working why this game, which is clearly horrible, was matched price-wise with games people would actually want to buy. The response?

“No one bought it when it came out. So, no one is trading it back in. And that makes it a rare game to find. Since it’s rare, we charge more for it.”

So there you have it. DAH: Path of Furon is now a rare game. Kind of makes me wish I wouldn’t have given my copy away to my little brother. 🙂 If only I had known.

Oh well. It’s still all really funny. I hope you aren’t someone unfortunate enough to have a copy of this game. But hey, if you do, send it to me and I can autograph it for you, haha.

 

 

 

 

Majora’s Mask

By Kat

Legend of Zelda; Majora’s Mask

Need I say more?

Game Name: The Legend of Zelda; Majora’s Mask
Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Role Playing Game

ESRB Rating: E for everyone

Platforms: Nintendo 64 with Expansion Pack

Kat’s history with the game: Zelda and I go way back. This whole series composes a lot of my favorite games to date, and they cannot be topped. The first Zelda game I ever played was Ocarina of time, shortly after its release for Nintendo 64. I had heard about it, and didn’t understand what all the hype was about… (Oh coooooool, it’s about a girlie man in a green dress with a fairy! NEATO! … I could kick myself for ever thinking that) It wasn’t really the pansy vibe of the game that scared me off from it; it was the auto-jump. The flipping AUTO JUMP, (I could kick myself for that too) which in fact, turned me off SO bad, I returned the game early from my rental time. A couple months later, I got a brain and some common sense (cut me some slack, I was a 6th grader), and decided to give Ocarina another chance. I fell in love with it immediately, and have never looked back. (I have wanted a Zelda tattoo since my encounter with this game as a kid, and even though I’m old enough to do it, I still haven’t yet… I beat myself up all the time for waiting… But as soon as I find a good place to put it, I am zappiń it onto myself for sure. I’m picky about tattoos, but Zelda deserves a place in my flesh.) This game is as special to me as anything ever could be. And when I heard there was a “sequel” to Ocarina, oh, you bet I was there!

Story: There is something you should know about this game; though it technically comes after Ocarina of Time in the Legend of Zelda Timeline, THIS GAME IS NOT A SEQUAL TO IT.  Almost every character in Ocarina of time is in Majora’s mask too, so you will see familiar faces, but this game takes place at a different time, in a different place then the world Ocarina of Time did.

You are young Link, and you are on a journey to find you’re old partner, Navi the fairy.

***SPOILER*** Navi is from Ocarina of Time, and leaves you after you defeat Gannon and restore the master sword to its pedestal at the end of the game.

***CONTINUE AFTER SPOILER*** at the start of your journey, you are apprehended by a skull kid wearing a strange mask, which you soon learn is Majora’s mask. Using the skull kid as its puppet, the mask is trying to destroy the land by creating a gravitational pull on the moon, directing in straight into clock town, the epicenter where the game takes place. Using masks of your own that possess special abilities and powers, it’s your job to stop this from happening, and return the mask to its rightful owner. There will be temples for you to complete, bad guys for you to defeat and songs for you to collect, BUT you only have 3 days to do it all… Lucky for Link, he can both manipulate and travel through time by playing songs on the Ocarina. Collecting all of the masks is no easy feat without a guide, and can be time consuming even with one. Collecting them all is worth it in the end, as you then have the opportunity to take advantage of the best mask of all; which I will not reveal.  This game will keep you wanting more, but you have to go into it not expecting it to be like Ocarina. If you do, you will most likely end up disappointed, like some other gamers I have spoken to. If you go in with an open mind, this will be a title you will enjoy if you are a Zelda fan, or if you simply enjoy single player role playing games.

Game play: The A button will always be your action button, and will change depending on your environment, if you are targeting someone or something, or simply standing still. You are going to want to try to pay attention to it as much as possible. The B button will always be your primary attack button. The C buttons are where it gets tricky. Hints and going to first person view will always be your top C button, but for the left, down, and right C buttons, be prepared to press START A LOT. By pressing START, you access the item select screens, and you can then assign various items to the C buttons, which you can then use those corresponding buttons to use your items. This is something that will not change for the whole game. In order to assign an item to the C buttons, you must be in the start button item screen. However, in the START button items screen, you can also check your maps, the number of collectable items (such as health upgrades (“heart pieces”)) you need or have collected, and of course, select your items. You move around in the game with the center control stick, target enemies and interactive things/people with Z, and R button is to use your shield. The game play is smooth while getting around and reliable when in battle. It’s quick to learn; pressing START all the time can get annoying, though it’s not required that you do so too often until you get further in the game. There are a lot of side quests, which might be a turnoff to some, but they all aren’t necessarily required in order to beat the game. (You do have to expect side quests in an RPG.. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they must be done to complete the game 100% of the way.)

Graphics: You don’t really appreciate the upgrade in graphics for Majora’s Mask until you compare them to Ocarina of time. You can see a noticeable difference between the two and can really see that the expansion pack is doing its job. Majora’s Mask packs in a lot of textures and colors, making the game very dimensional. This does make some flaws stand out more however, such as when a part of the environment comes to a point and there is no variance in texture size.

Regardless, the graphics are nothing to snuff at, and the game’s creative and somewhat whimsical feel is well represented graphically.

Audio: The soundtrack might be one of the most memorable parts to this game, as it is with any Zelda title. The music is clearly based on the sound tracks from Ocarina of Time (which are furthermore based on the classic Zelda titles), and if you played it before Majora’s Mask, then you will be hearing similar music tracks that start familiar enough, and then transition into a whole different version. The sound effects for similar weapons from Ocarina of Time still match, but the new items added for Major’s Mask blend seamlessly, and don’t feel out of place with the original sound effects and music tracks. You will be playing the Ocarina again in the game, and learning new songs. The songs are not nearly as impressive as the tracks in Ocarina of Time, but are fairly easy to memorize nonetheless.


Pro’s/Con’s: Majora’s mask’s flaws are obvious: Having to go into the START menu often to switch items can be tedious, the side missions can seem somewhat overwhelming, and if you don’t have somewhat of a guide for the game, it can be very easy to loose your way or get distracted from the main objectives. Nonetheless, the Pro’s of the game: rewarding missions, simple and lax game play, a driven storyline and unforgettable characters all make this game one to check out. The Cons may seem like a lot when you read about them, but hey, what game nowadays doesn’t have an items select screen, and what RPG doesn’t have side missions? It’s really in the eye of the beholder where the con’s lie, and despite the cons listed, this game is still EASILY one of my favorites.
Overall: The game gets you into the action right at the get-go. It’s easy to learn, fun to play, and you are always on a mission to help people, defeat puzzle filled temples, get a cool new item or mask, work towards the perfect complete game, or just chill and stroll around the countryside killing bad guys. Zelda is a classic for a reason, and Majora’s Mask is unique and unlike any RPG you have ever played, or will play ever again.

Kat’s Score: ***** (5 out of 5) It’s obvious that I love this game. The soundtrack is awesome, the controls are well assigned, and the story is nothing short of epic. If you liked Ocarina of Time and don’t like Majora’s Mask, I definitely think you should give it another shot. Remember, I strongly disliked Ocarina when I first tried it, but came around before long and even fell in love with it. If you haven’t played either, Majora’s Mask will quickly become one you will enjoy, and could very well make YOUR list of favorite games, as long as you have an open mind and a love for RPGs.


Bayonetta

by Kat

(Is it just me, or does she kinda look like original-form Midna? (Twilight Princess))

One of Sega’s newest titles follows a style similar to that of the popular hack and slash series God of War.  Bayonetta is a sexy, stylish, and dark addition to anyone’s collection if they like titles are fast paced and combine a little bit of corn with some high class.  Bayonetta takes place in several different environments and settings.  There are instances of flashbacks where you are in a beautiful stone church setting, and jump to present day city scapes with airplanes and cars, then to a steam punk, old fashioned train station located next to an outdoor enchanted garden with stone statues and arches. Many cut scenes occupy this title and intend to help you embrace the characters and their individual personalities.  The hack and slash controls are easy to follow, and during load screens  you are presented with the opportunity to test out new combos as the game records your button pushes so that you can see exactly what combos you executed.  The movement is flowing, smooth and simple, nothing too challenging if you are new to gaming.  When you are shown your difficulty selections, you can only choose very easy, easy, or normal.  I always start with normal, regardless of the title, and this mode presents no significant challenge in Bayonetta.

The game is very easy going, and far from stressful.  The only qualm I have developed with this game is trying to see what exactly is going on.  There is so much happening on the screen at any one time that figuring out where you are and who you are attacking presents a little bit of a problem at first, but you get the hang of it before long.  The fact that your enemy selection cursor is a pair of nearly translucent lips give no quarter to the issue, nor does the fact that you cannot select which enemy you wish to attack at any given time.  You automatically lock-on to whichever target is closet until you either defeat them, or another pursues you and gets closer than the previous, unless you are constantly moving towards a particular target. The cut-scenes are done in several different ways including actual in-game graphic animations as well as still-shots on a scrolling old style movie reel with moving accessories and cinematic dialogue. The credits appear in the first level of the game, and are incorporated into the cinematic, which is very cool. They names of the creators are on tombstones in the first area, which is a clever way of getting credits into the game without inducing sighs.

You play as the epically proportioned femme fatale Bayonetta, (which you will find is connected to butterflies- she has butterfly wings when she does a double jump, her shadow shows tribal-design butterfly wings when she is standing still, and many little butterflies appear when she lands from a jump) and with the help of your money-loving gangster grunt named Enzo, you awaken your bartending /bouncer/upgrade shop owner ally named Rodin, from the dead. There is no known particular reason why they aim to aid you, they just do. And specifically you, as every item in Rodin’s shop consists of butterfly, crescent moon, and floral motif upgrades, as well as provocative dance-move-esk physical attacks and evasions. (who else would want those, except Bayonetta?)   My personal favorite is the lollipop health and magic replenishers  that are shaped like hearts, among other girlie things.  I would like to take a moment to make note of the “Green Herb Lollipop” which, guess what, restores health! (Resident Evil series) Getting back to the story.. You are Bayonetta, a witch from the depths of Hell, as it would seem, and your main objective is to go around and kill angels, while trying to gain your memory back, as you have been under water in a lake somewhere for the last 20 some-years.  There is also another mysterious character that keeps showing up amidst  all of this named Jeanne. She seems to also be a witch, even though you are said to be the only one left alive.  I don’t know all of the details, as I have only begun this title, but if I did know them, I wouldn’t want to ruin any surprises 😉

There is a fun little mini game in Bayonetta called “Angel Attack” where you go into a first person view and try to cap some angels and earn some bonus points.  These points can go into your monetary earnings, or be used on special items that you can only receive through Angel Attack.  Your monetary earnings are the halos that fall from the bodies of the angels that you kill, and bear a striking resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog’s collectible items, the “Power Rings”.  Some enemies have big weapons such as axes, spears and even trumpets, which you can collect and fight with- each with their own unique specs, amounts of deliverable damage, and animations.  Bayonetta herself also has some pretty cool tricks up her sleeve. When combo multipliers are at a high, she can do damage using the “Wicked Weave”, which strips off all of your clothes, except for a few convenient places, and morphs her hair into a giant fist, leg and stiletto shoe, or other damage inducing shapes, attacking your enemies and delivering quite the heavy amounts of damage.  The game may be a little hard to follow at times because there is no map or list of objectives.  Though the path is pretty straight forward, there may be times you get a little confused, and just have to explore.  The story goes beyond Bayonetta herself and speaks of the everlasting feud between heaven, hell, the world people live in on earth, and purgatory. Bayonetta’s story takes place in purgatory, and even though she is traveling around upon the earth, all mortal people appear as grey and black silhouettes, symbolizing that nothing you do can directly affect them, (such as shooting them) and visa versa.

This game is definitely one I’m going to finish. There are many more characters yet to be introduced, as well as story to unfold.  It’s got me gripped for the time being, (I’m listening to its soundtrack in the background right now) which is one other thing I’d like to note…The music in this game is pretty nice. Though it goes into some peppy Japanese pop every once and a while, the score is mostly moving instrumental tracks and is pleasant enough that you can stand it for the duration of your play time. All in all, I have to say that this game is one to check out if you’re not afraid to tap into your girly side a little bit, and want a little bit of recreational game play in your collection that is more on the mature side.

(If you want a laugh while playing this game, just hit the left bumper for some provocative body taunts and somewhat dirty dialogue.)

Until next time, Game On!

Modern Warfare 2: Taking the Cake! (Spoilers)

by Kristianna

Let me start off by saying that it wasn’t until Left 4 Dead that I really started becoming a fan of shooters. With this in mind, war games were never my forte. I had recently purchased Left 4 Dead 2, so peeling myself away for 5 minutes was tough. I finally became curious enough of the hype to give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a go. I don’t believe I can say anything but, HOLY SHIT!

The fantastic thing of MW2 is that if you haven’t played the first (which I would recommend), it wont prevent you from playing the second. An introduction brings you to speed where the story picks up 5 years later. You have been fighting a long side Russia, who has eventually turned it’s back on you. While things are heated between the countries, violence is at a hold. You also have a new face in terrorism– Makarov. Makarov commands many ex Spetsnaz in an elite Russian terrorist organization. As the game says, you take down one evil, and there’s always someone bigger to replace it.

A couple missions in is where things get hot and heavy. Your opted to either play or skip the infamous controversial scene. You attempt to infiltrate Makarov’s group, where you walk through a Russian airport and gun down innocent civilians. After turning things into a blood bath, Makarov guns you down leaving you for the Russians to find. Assuming the group was only American, the people of Russia cry war. This is where things take off.

You spend your time trying to link Makarov’s group to the terrorist attack. You race around the world trying to unveil different facts that can lead you to proving the United States innocence, and preventing an all out world war. In the meantime you’re also spending your time running through different countries holding the terrorists at bay. While the scenery isn’t ground breaking, MW2’s variety of location and attention to fine detail certainly adds the icing to a very delicious cake.

If you’re looking for a little change from single player you can switch things up with Spec-Ops. This can either be done single player or co-operative. It hardly seems fair or fun to breeze by solo, so I stuck with co-op. Infinity Ward also included a difficulty setting to tailor the each player, so you’re partner can have an easier setting if their abilities a slightly less than par… or vice versa. Some missions require to go in guns blazing, some require a more stealthy approach, but with 20+ missions you’ll keep yourself entertained for hours. Just remember, just because you can complete one mission on hardened or veteran, do not count on it being so easy for other missions.

My mom always told me drugs were bad, but I recently found something more addicting than crack– Multiplayer. This alone has exceeded the games value over and over again. Team death match, free for all, and capture the flag are just some of the few modes that can be played on multiplayer. One of my favorite aspects is perks given not only to kill streaks, but to death streaks as well. Dying so many times in a row without a kill could allow you to Copycat your killer (ie: steal his perks/weapons/etc), allot a temporary health boost upon respawn with Pain Killer, make you drop a grenade upon your next death (in hopes your killer is nearby) with Martyrdom, and a few other fun filled goodies.

Fortunately Infinity Ward stuck with one of the things that really makes their multiplayer– Kill Streaks. The perks that come with this can truly alter the outcome of the game. You can drop missiles via UAV, Emergency Airdrop crates which delegate more perks, call in air strikes, or just nuke the whole damn place! As you begin to level up you’re able to upgrade other things as well that help to finely tune your character.  The better you become the more weapons and perks you can unlock. So if there is someone like me who comes in late, starts at level 1 and knifes a level 70, victory is oh so sweet. Finally, one of my favorite parts about multiplayer is the Winning Kill camera, mainly for comical humor. I love having the final kill on display for everybody to see– especially when it’s my death.

Here’s an example of some of the Kill Streak rewards.

The fantastic thing about MW2 is that it isn’t just your typical hit em’ up shooter. You play a variety of characters (mainly Roach), are introduced to new characters, and cross paths with old acquaintances. Infinity Ward involved different elements to the game to keep things interesting. Whether you’re shooting and shenking, dropping predator missiles, piloting a helicopter, or racing through the mountains with a snow-mobile, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has exceeded my expectations not only on what a shooter should be, but what a video game should be.

Modern Warfare 2 could have been perfect, but they forgot one element, NOM4D. After the release of Call of Duty 4 and World at War Infinity Ward did something inspirational. They released something called the “NOM4D Patch”. This was a special request by Randy “NOM4D” Fitzgerald to allow a button schematic that allows him to play with his face due to his physical handicap. Instead of using the trigger to sight the gun, he can now toggle, thus eliminating the need for the trigger while operating the other functions of his character. Looking forward to Modern Warfare 2, Randy Fitzgerald has signed up for multiple tournaments in hopes to compete. Unfortunately upon the release of MW2 the NOM4D setting was not available. Modern Warfare 2 was released back in early November, but Infinity Ward has yet to answer why the setting was not included after they claimed it would be. This is extremely disheartening to see such a wonderful gesture by Infinity Ward be recanted upon the release of an amazing game. We will be interviewing NOM4D later, so please look for that coming soon. Lets hope that Infinity Ward implements the setting before then, so Randy and other gamers like him can enjoy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 fairly, something so many have taken for-granted.

Left 4 Dead 2

a review by Tara

Left4Dead 2 is the promptly released sequel of last year’s Left4Dead. Although the game has faced some opposition from fans due to its release being so closely to the release of the original, Valve promised real changed and not something that should have just been a DLC package.

L4D2 has five modes, most of which you will recognize from L4D1. There is campaign, realism, survival, versus, and scavenger. Campaign mode will seem very familiar when you first begin to play it, but it’s easy to see that there have been changes. Yes, your goal as a survival is still to get from safe house to safe house avoiding the hoard, but this time it’s different. I’m not talking about the new maps or the new cast, I’m talking about the other new stuff. I mean the new guns, the addition of melee weapons, new projectiles, new health items, new special infected and the introduction of uncommon infected.

Valve also had more up their sleeves than some new things to look at, they changed how you played the game. They even beefed up the infamous A.I. Director. Not only can it dropp infected at will, it can now move the very walls and route you take. To make this Left4Dead even more of a challenge than it’s predecessor, Valve also changed how events that would trigger horde moments worked. During L4D1, players could alert the horde and then sit in a corner and melee until it was all over -not any more. Players must now run to turn off alarms, race to a new area and stick together all while dealing with the new infected. I won’t go into too much detail, just know the game has been stepped up. It’s more intense, it’s harder, it’s fun.

Versus and survival still play much like they did in the first one, the only differences being the same changes that were mentioned before like new infection, weapons, etc. These modes are still a lot of fun. The same can be said for the other new mode, scavenger. In this mode, its a four on four of survivors versus infected. The survivors run through the level trying to collect 16 gas cans that are scattered across the map to keep their generators running. The infected do what they do best; try and stop them. A lot have people said it’s a great alternative to those who want to play as the infected, but don’t want to sit through an entire campaign in versus. It’s a quick game, perfect for a short adrenaline rush.

Now, you may have noticed that I skipped over realism mode, and that’s because it’s not so much a mode itself, but a game play modifier. It’s something that has been added for the hardcore players. Realism mode can be enabled for any mode, and when it is enabled things get harder. Items no longer glow white when you hover over them. People no longer turn red when they’ve been pounced by a hunter. Head shots really do matter. It really can be a challenge. It’s something that really forces the team member to communicate well, and stick together. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s a lot of fun.

Overall, I say L4D2 is a great game. Valve promised something more than a glorified DLC pack, that they can through. The game is harder, more intense, and just as fun as the original. They’ve tweaked some game play mechanics, and some of them I can’t even put my finger on. I just know that now the game feels smoother, faster, sharper. It’s awesome.

*This is a portion of a review originally featured on AbleGamers.com. For the full review and accessibility review, you can do so here.

Bioshock Review

by Kat

Bioshock is a first person shooter/ role playing game from the minds of 2K Boston/2K Australia. It was released August 21, of 2007 for the Xbox 360 and PC, with a PS3 version following it about a year later. (I’ve heard there’s also some special extras on the PS3 version that I’m definitely going to have to look into…) Bioshock is like no other horror game in my repertoire. I recently obtained it for PC as a gift, and knew that it was time to finally sit down and have some personal time with this title.

I noticed right off the bat how flighty the mouse controls are. If you ever so slightly push the mouse any direction, that cursor on screen just flies! This was moderately remedied by a  fix in the control options, as you can adjust your mouse specs on several levels of sensitivity. You can also bind all of your keys easily, and turn the music off without having it hinder you game play. (I’ve encountered problems with that in the past) I find that this game has some EXTREME load times on PC. I sat for about 3-5 minutes waiting for it to load up. This lag time in loading seems to occur when you first load up or enter a new area.  I thought my computer was crashing at first, and ended up shutting it down, and having to endure it again once re- booted. I thought maybe these obscene load times were just my computer, so I moved the game to my XPS laptop, instead of my HP desktop. Nope. This game is just massive, and takes some time to load, so you have to be patient.

You play as a chap named Jack, and with weapons and plasmids at your disposal, (something I would have like to have seen with the title is melee use with your guns) you make your way through Rapture, an underwater metropolis full of disfigured flappers and crazed doctors. They all are very chatty, and give their positions away well in advance, which is different for a horror game. This game does constitute some stealth tactics which makes it fun and interesting as well. One of your main focuses in Rapture is to avoid being seen by any security cameras as you make your way through. (There’s a time and a place for run and gun, but Bioshock will keep you on yours toes with those pesky cameras) Or, you could do as the trigger fingers do, and just blast any that you see. Be careful though, if it sees you and you don’t get out of the way fast enough, they will summon baddies for you to fight off while a timer counts down how long till they’re off your back. But worry not! You can hack into nearby baddy bots and make them into allies that attack your foes on their own accord.

In this game, as you make your way through the levels, you have to the option to kill or save little girls, also known as “Little Sisters”. This is cool because it’s a test for you on your morality. It doesn’t, per say, effect your game play, but if you save them whenever encountered, you get a little less Adam; the currency you use to buy special plasmids for your character. However, by making the obviously more humane choice, you are promised something wonderful in return. (I always like the walk to good path when I play games… the first time…)  But there is one BIG obstacle standing in your way of saving or harvesting each Little Sister. They each have a body guard that they call Mr. Bubbles, but you will come to know as The Big Daddy. This may be strange of me, but.. I really don’t think the Big Daddy is all that scary. I actually think some can be kinda cute. I won’t lie, I felt a big guilty when I killed my first one..

But I digress.. Bioshock is a great game. Personally, I wouldn’t call it so much “scary” or “freaky” as I would call it intense. It’s definitely a title I would recommend to the seasoned gamer, as the feel takes some getting used to due to firing recoil, quick action requirements, and somewhat jerky controls. (for PC) If the game seems a bit hard, you can modify its difficulty while in game, and you will notice the difference. This is a great title for those who are fans of FPS and horror games with a little more of a steam punk edge.

Game On!

Tekken 6 Review

by Tara

Tekken 6 is the latest installment of Namco’s popular 3D fighter, Tekken. Although, Tekken 6 just recently made it to console, it has been out and playable for a couple years. The game was first released in Japanese arcades in November of 2007. The following year, the game was updated (Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion) with new stages, characters, and tweaks to the game’s balance. Now, in November of 2009, the game finally has a console version, based on the updated arcade game.

The plot of Tekken 6 is similar to every other plot of Tekken… someone in the Kazuya family wants to be all powerful and for some reason the only way to do that is to through a hand-to-hand fighting tournament. In this game’s case, Jin Kazama is throwing the tournament. Now in charge of Mishima Zaibatsu, Jin has his plans set on world domination. The only thing in his way is his father Kazuya, head of the G Corporation. Jin plans to fight his father and win, taking Kazuya and G Corporation out of the picture, and securing his of dreams of becoming a global superpower.

The game itself is divided into three parts. There is scenario mode, online mode, and offline mode. Online and offline mode are the modes are the modes that reflect what I am going to refer to as “classic Tekken.” In these modes you can find the arcade mode, practice mode, versus (both on and off line) and more. All of these are set up with a one on one, hand-to-hand, 3D fighting match.

The controls at first seem relatively simple: one button for the right hand, one for the left hand, one for left leg, one for right leg and the D-pad (or analog stick) for movement. They can quickly become complicated though when you try to do the many juggling combos in Tekken, which the game heavily relies on. Once you land a hit on your opponent, it quickly becomes a test of your memorization skills and reflexes. It can be hard, but it’s fun to see on screen.

Tekken 6 also has a new game play element known as rage mode. When a character’s health reaches a certain low point, the character’s attacks will deal more damage and give you a better chance at a come back. Sometimes it give you just the edge you need, although sometime you get it while still in hit stun from your opponent’s combo and did won’t make a difference. It’s still an interesting mechanic that is getting mix review from the Tekken community.

Something that can be easily be loved by anyone who plays Tekken is the amount of choice that game offers to you. When starting Tekken, it will show your main character, which you choose, next to the menu. You can also tweak your main character’s appearance. You can customize their clothes, shoes, jewelry and even their hair. You get to choose the background for your menu… and you can even change the effect for rage mode. Of course, you have to unlock money to make most of these changes, but you can use the money for more than your main character. You can customize any of the games 40, that’s right, 40 character’s two default costumes.

In all, these “classic” modes are fun. Namco has done a nice job of adding and tweaking features from the previous Tekken games without losing any of the appeal that attracted fans of the previous Tekken generations. The fighting has felt energized and balanced. The fighting locations were great and the visuals were beautiful – not to mention that it includes a level with sheep (that you can kick around) and techno yodeling. I have had a lot of fun, and think that it’s a great game that most people, both veterans and new comers to the series, can enjoy.

Tekken’s 6-scenario mode is very different from the “classic” Tekken modes. Scenario mode is a 3D beat-em-up style game, where you can run around 3D linear worlds fighting several enemies at a time, and boss fights at the end of a map. In this mode, you play as Lars with sidekick Alisa the android in search on Lars’s past, as he has lost his memory. Scenario mode also has an area, which is essentially a mini version of arcade mode.

I didn’t care for scenario mode much at first, but as I played it, it began to grow on me. Although I think that this may be directly related to the fact that you unlock pieces of clothing for your characters as you play through… and I had Alisa in hot pants and star shaped glasses with green hair… It’s just amusing.

I was also able to see this game alive and in action went I went to the Redemption Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa a couple months back. The game seemed to be well received by the hard core Tekken players and I didn’t hear many complaints about the game play at all.

*This is an edited version of the review originally featured on AbleGamers.com. To see the original review along with the accessibility review, you can do so here.

Trials HD – An XBox Live Arcade Game

by a highly entertained Tara

Trials_HD_XBLALet me introduce you to an XBox Live Arcade game known as Trials HD. It’s a simple game. You control a motorcycle and rider through a two dementional course. Your only goal is to get to the end with as few crashes as possible and as quickly was you can. And that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. The course is riddled with steep inclines, extreme jumps, little bumps and exploding barrels.

The game starts out easy enough. First you have a short short tutorial and then a basic track that allows you to get comfortable with the controls. From there you do harder and harder tracks along the four difficulty levels while unlocking new bikes and mini-games on the way.

To be honest, I’m horrible at this game. On one track on the hard difficulty setting I’m pretty sure that I crashed +150 times (maybe +200) before I was able to complete it. But it didn’t matter. This game understands you’re going to crash and that you’re going to explode. Knowing that, they incorporated a “jump to last checkpoint” button. If you’re going to fail your jump and you know it, you don’t have to wait to see your character skid face first across the ground before finally coming to a halt half a mile from where you originally crashed (although sometimes that’s fun too)… you can just jump right back, which you will do often. But for some reason it doesn’t matter. It’s almost like after you fail so many times, you have to complete the track to prove your self worth. And the feeling of pride and confidence you get when you beat it is second to none.

And at the same time, just completing the track isn’t always enough to make you feel satisfied. Some times it’s trying to get the gold medal, but other times it is trying to beat your friends. Across the top of the screen during all tracks (and mini games) there is a bar that compares how you’re doing on whatever track to how your XBox Live friends did on the same track. And then on the completion screen, it shows both of your exact times. There is nothing worse to kick some track’s ass to only see on the completion screen that your boyfriend beat you by less than a second. Or equally bad is when you crash and see your friend’s gamer tag zoom by yours on the progress bar.

The mini games in Trials HD are also exceptionally fun. There are several that you are unlocked by completing the different tracks. My personal favorite involves trying to injure your rider as much as possible. You’re given a short run way and the a wall that you have to bail out by. After bailing out your driver goes flying through the air over a series of platforms that are covered in obstacles. Your goal is to fly far enough to hit the ground with a nice smack and break as may bones as possible. There is also a pretty amusing ski jump mini game. You have a short ramp for your bike, and once you have launched off, you explode your bike to send you flying. Just go as far as you can. There is also one where you have to complete a course while keeping your bike balance on top of a giant ball, another where you complete the course while inside the ball, another where you’re pulling a cart full of some explosive (nitroglycerin maybe?) and you need to complete the course with out bouncing the cart too much so you don’t explode. Like I said, the mini games are very amusing.

So, Trials HD… simplicity at it’s best. It’s a great game. It’s addictive and fun. As a friend put it, it’s “ExciteBike brought to you by Michael Bay.” I highly recommending spending the $15 dollars to get this one. You’ll love it.

And of course, here’s a trailer so you know what you guys who don’t have it know what you’re missing.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – A Brief Look

from a more optimistic Tara

shattered-memoriesLast April, I expressed my fears about Konami and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii. I had hoped that by setting my expectations low that I would be pleased by whatever the results happened to be. Well, I’ve spent some time sifting through everything I could find about the game being released October 13th, and I was really surprised to be really liking everything that I saw.

I’d first like to show you a trailer, just a little teaser that was released to us last May…

I was originally having a lot of doubt about this game because they kept calling it an “re-imagining” of the first Silent Hill. I wasn’t sure what they meant, or what to think. When you play through the game a lot of key pieces start out the same. You’re Harry Mason, and you’ve just wrecked your car in Silent Hill. You wake up to see the world around you covered in a thick snow, blocking your visibility. Groggy and dazed, you turn to the right to see your daughter, Cheryl, is missing. You leave you crashed car and start looking around town… but not only is your daughter no where to be seen, but no one else is either. Finally, you stumble into a diner where you begin to speak with a lady cop… something’s wrong with the town…. Sound familiar? It should. It’s a lot like the original story. Although it starts out similar, everyone kept stressing it wasn’t just a normal remake. As I watched the game play videos, it felt different. I think now I’m not only starting to understand what they meant, but really like this idea despite my initial fear.

(There’s a lot to read here so if you’re just interested in game play videos skip to the end 🙂 )

I think that first thing that made me worry about this title was the fact that it was on the Wii. Although I was worried about it being watered down for the kiddies, I was horrified at the idea of flailing my arms around while attempting to explore Silent Hill. Thankfully, I haven’t read anything bad about the controls yet, and actually it’s the contrary. Everything I have seen has been very positive. You move Harry around by using the nun-chuck analog stick, pressing Z to run, and C to quick turn. The flash light is aimed is done moving the Wiimote. A is used as your standard action button. Finally, the D-Pad is used to navigate your cell phone. From what I can tell, in addition to feeling in my gut, the controls will be easy to use and natural. I think that it’s going to be like the Wii Version of Resident Evil 4. Yeah, you used the Wiimote to aim, but you weren’t doing any extreme movements, just flicks of the wrist. It was all smooth. From all game play videos I’ve seen, no one has seemed to be fumbling or having issues getting the controls to respond as they wanted. I really felt better after seeing the controls weren’t going to be wonky, and it really let me look deeper into Shattered Memories with a new found optimism.

There are a few things that have become Silent Hill staples, such as amazing music by Akira Yamaoka. There isn’t a Silent Hill title that doesn’t have beautiful melancholy under tones or a huge music fan base. You would think that by now Akira wouldn’t be able to keep coming up with new and amazing pieces, but he does. While watching the game play footage (shown below), we see some of the lonely, sad and beautiful piano music he is known for. I’ve read that this game also spans the full length of his talent, including the heavy hearted piano pieces to the crushing industrial sounds that plague Silent Hill. Once again, it looks like we have another amazing soundtrack on our hands.

One of my favorite things to hear about this game is the Konami has stressed that they wanted to return back to the feeling of the original Silent Hill games… more solitude, more fear, less action. Silent Hill was a psychological thriller, made to play on your emotions and the fear of being alone, lost, and out of control. A lot of the intensity from Silent Hill stemmed from trying to deal with being only a normal person against a larger than life enemy, more than a person… the entire world. Of course the creatures were always a large part of that, and now we have new and equally frightening beasts to encounter. The enemies in Silent Hill out number Harry, can go any where he can, and are extremely intelligent and dynamic. They work together, they can open doors. It’s horrifying. To ensure that the player constantly felt like he was struggling, constantly in fear… Komani did something sort of radical… they took weapons away from Harry. When questioned about it, lead designer Sam Barlow had this to say:

“Hitchcock said that all horror goes back to childhood, that’s why it’s a universal thing — it’s a fundamental. How many children wake up screaming because they had a dream where they beat up a zombie with a baseball bat? You wake up screaming because you ran and you got caught. So don’t get caught — run.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a direct response to people completely punching their way through Silent Hill: Origins and the mixed feeling about melee combos in Homecoming. Either way, I’m interested to see how it works. From the game play it looks like you have to out smart them, running, taking allies in attempt to flee, jumping fences, and hiding in lockers. I like the idea and I hope that it’s executed nicely.

Along with trying to keep the feeling of the original Silent Hill, there was definite attempt to make Shatter as immersive as possible. It can be easily be seen in the tweaks they made to the game play. Not having any HUD elements has always been a staple of Silent Hill games, but this time they took it one step further. They wanted the player to have a map, as usual, but didn’t want to make the player be taken away from the game to see it. To solve their dilemma, they introduced the cell phone (which is very iPhone-esque) which has a GPS feature. The player can access their phone at any time to use it. They can also make calls, receive text messages, take pictures, and receives voice messages. To further surround the player with the Silent Hill environment, no information will be given to the player by walking up to something, pressing action, and having text appear about the object anymore. This means no more diaries or books left behind for you to read. Instead, everything comes in the form of voice mails or Harry speaking. If there is something you would like to know more about, you take a close look at the object and if Harry is thinking something about it he will say it, or if it has writing he will read it aloud. It sounds a little odd when I try to explain it, but it’s actually a lot nicer than it sounds. Take a look at the game play video below and you can really see it.

I think the largest change they have made to the game is the fact the the “game plays you as much as you play it.” It sounds a little confusing, but it’s a cool idea. When you first start playing the Shattered Memories, you start out in a therapist office, and are asked to fill out a short questionnaire with true/false questions like “I make friends easily” and “Having a drink helps me relax.” From the moment you start checking those boxes, the game starts developing a profile on you, a psych profile. The game watches your every move, straight down to the items that you look at and uses it to create the perfect nightmare for you. For example, when you first start the game you wander into a room that has both a phone and a pin up girl calendar. Which would you look at? If you walk up to the phone with the intent of calling home or 911 to find your daughter, the game might begin to label you as practical. It would then bring you to the dinner, and lead you to the cop, as its something you would probably try doing. Then, the cop doesn’t want to help you… your practical choice has turned against you. You’re now forced to think of non-practical solutions… you’re out of your comfort zone. It’s a little more complex than that, but you get the idea. Shattered Memories changes the environment to custom tailor your nightmare, and make it more creepy for you.

Did you see in 0:37 of the video when the screen quickly flashed? That’s the other person you could meet at the diner based on your choices.

So like I said, I’m feeling a lot better about this game than I originally was, mostly due to the game play footage I’ve seen. So to wrap this up, here is footage from the beginning of the game up through the diner. The only thing that isn’t awesome about these videos is it doesn’t have any of the noises that come out of the wiimote… so radio static, voice mails, phone calls… that sort of thing. Other than that it’s great though. Enjoy. (Oh, and for those of you who want to skip straight to dark Silent Hill- video 3 about 40 seconds in.)

Silent Hill: Origins for PS2- First Impressions

First impressions from Tara

Silent_Hill_Origins

I haven’t finished Silent Hill: Origins, and as a matter of fact, I’m not even half way through it. But as I have been playing it I have started having a lot of thoughts piling up in my head and I felt like I needed to get them all off of my chest. None of them have been necessarily bad things, but things that have made me feel uncomfortable. So here we go, here are my first impressions.

I would like to say first that I love Silent Hill and I take a lot of pride in being a fan. I am such a fan that the Zelda tattoo I have on my wrist was almost the save icon from Silent Hill instead. So with that in mind, I love hearing new and interesting things about the Silent Hill story line. But already, I am feeling like the story of Silent Hill: Origins isn’t adding anything new to the series. It’s pretty much things we already know, Alessa was in a fire, her mom is the cult leader, Dr. Kauffman keeps Alessa hidden and so on… it’s just now you see it in a little more detail through the eyes of Travis the trucker. Further more, there really isn’t a reason for Travis to be in Silent Hill in the first place. There isn’t a daughter or a wife or brother or anything. Maybe it will all feel more complete by the time I finish the game, but right now I feel like I already know what’s going on, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

So, there is a new element to the fighting system… weapon degradation? Yeah… it’s there. I feel kind of odd about it… I feel like it may have originally been there to make the player conserve their weapons in the same way that someone may conserve bullets when they have a gun, but the fact that there are a million things that you can pick up sort of ruins it anyway. Why save when there is a new weapon every five steps? Instead of  being a new element that puts more pressure on the player, it just becomes annoying. As soon as the weapon breaks you have go back to fighting with your fists and have to equip another weapon. The real question is why anyone would bother equipping anything when the punch Travis delivers is so strong that you can fight practically everything with it. I may be able to beat the entire game with little to no weapons, simply punching my way out of Silent Hill. I think the only thing that could salvage this for me is enemies needing the 12 portable TVs I’m carrying bashed on their head instead of punched, but we will have to wait and see.

Alright… the thing that has been bothering me the most is the fact the player can control when the player enters the dark Silent Hill. Travis will see mirrors, and in the mirrors reflection you see the alternate, evil Silent Hill. When Travis touches it, he switches sides. Further more, he can do so at will. I don’t like this, at all. I always felt that the fact that you didn’t know when it would change added both a feeling of tension and the helplessness for the player. Silent Hill was all about the main character feeling lost, and frightened… just a pawn in the world the was swallowing him. Now, the player has a sense of control in what should be a chaotic nightmare. Giving the player control takes away from the suppression that is dark Silent Hill.

Although I’m still not sure about how I feel about these things, I haven’t dismissed this as a bad game yet. I don’t feel like it’s going to be a great game either, but I really don’t feel like this game will be a bomb (even with weapon degradation).  I predict it will be an average game, maybe a good game, but still not living up to the Silent Hill glory days. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Prince of Persia Review

by Tara ❤

Prince Of Persia box art
I haven’t been sure how to go about writing my review of Prince of Persia, mainly because I kept changing my mind on whether I liked it or not.

I would to start by saying right away, this game’s visuals are amazing. I kept finding myself stating how pretty the game was, over and over. Unlike a lot of the games today that go for gritty realism and paint a world in grey and brown, Prince of Persia has bright, eye-popping colors. The entire world seems to have a soft flow to it, which is probably related to the cell shaded art style. Animations are seamless and the characters fit very naturally into the world. Like I keep saying, this game is really pretty. I love how this game looks. Look for yourself:

prince-of-persia-20081126005237417_640w
Sadly, the visuals seem to be the only thing I really love about this game.

As you may have known about the Prince of Persia games, they tend to be a weird sort of action adventure-platforming mix. And although all the characters and story lines from previous games were abandoned, they did keep the game play style the same. Much of it is you navigating the Prince around multilevel, destroyed cities. Learning to control the Prince is fairly easy and the game takes ample time to make sure you understand how to get from point A to point B efficiently. Although the jumping, climbing, swinging world exploration is fun at first, the feeling of satisfaction you get from crazy jumping wall-to-wall combos doesn’t last long. Most of the game comprises of you climbing your way up to the top of a tower to a boss fight, Elika (your spunky, female side kick) having a seizure that rids that land of evil, and then climbing pack down while collecting floats balls of lights (known as light seeds) for Elika so she can get new powers. In other words, you get to explore and climb every part of the map tiwce. It gets really repetitive, and it does so fairly quickly.

As do the boss fights now that I think about it. There are four sub bosses before the final big boss, but you fight each sub boss about four times. The battle doesn’t change much from on battle to he next, so it gets kind of old.

As for the fighting combat itself, you can do somethings that look really cool by just mashing buttons and throwing Elika at your enemies. There are grapple, sword, acrobatic and magic attacks. In theory you can hit someone with your sword, throw them in the air, jump in the air next to them, then throw Elika at them for a really nifty looking combo, or something like that. I never took the time to learn how to actually do combos because it doesn’t really matter, you can never die. Really. You can’t die. Ever. If you fall of a cliff, Elika saves you with her magic. If you are about to get smashed by an enemy, a quick time event occurs. If you win the quick time event you walked away fine. If you lose, your enemy gets more health, so it doesn’t really make the battle harder, just longer.

I think the most annoying thing about the game is the dialogue between the Prince and Elika. It’s like they are two snotty, rich high schoolers who can’t decided if they like each other or not. It’s bad.

On a side note, if you like achievements this game is for you. You get like seven in the first 10 minutes. There are so many super easy ones like one for starting a game, one for falling off a cliff for the first time, one for looking at your map, one for using the GPS magic, one for talking to Elika a few times….

Anyway to go back to where I started, I couldn’t decide if I liked this game or not.  I would play it, like it, get bored. Then I wouldn’t play it for a bit… play it again, like it, and get bored. I think my final verdict is this game is far too repetitive for me to really enjoy, but it’s okay. I don’t mind it in short bursts or if I haven’t played it in a while. I can’t say that I would tell anyone to buy it, but I would suggest renting it for sure. I think that everyone should at least check out the visuals and get the sense of pride you get from doing your first super jumpy, wall running combo. And if you rent it, you can bring it back before it gets old and boring.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for DS review

a review by Tara

Hotel Dusk: Room 215I would like to start this review off by saying I think I only played Hotel Dusk for a half hour before quitting, but I feel like it’s all I need for  doing  an accurate review. To make up for the lack of actual time I spent in game, I’m going to tell the whole story from when I bought the game to setting it down in frustration. I think you’ll understand.

This all began after the release of Saint’s Row 2. My Xbox360 was taken over by boyfriend who had found himself attached to the controller. Unable to play any of my 360 games, I was left alone with only my DS to comfort me. Sadly, I had a severely limited game selection. Promising myself that I would not let my 360 being commandeered ruin my day, I set out to the nearest 24 hour Walmart to see what I could pick up.

*Flash forward 20 minutes*

As I stood in front of the glass case full of DS games I found myself in yet another pickle… What game do I buy? I could see Animal Crossing and felt the glow of a title I loved on the Gamecube… no matter how nerdy that made me… but I kept looking. Another title that caught my eye soon after…. Hotel Dusk: Room 215. I asked the clerk to let me see it and Animal Crossing… I read the back of the cases and was quite intrigued by the description of Hotel Dusk… a mystery novel of a game… investigate a hotel room where wishes come true… It sounded rather interesting to be honest. After much consideration (and buy that I mean I realized I had enough money to buy both) I made my purchases.

I returned home to find my boyfriend still sitting on the floor, listening to his SR2 character singing “The Final Countdown” with the radio. Knowing that the 360 wasn’t going to be free for me to play anytime soon, I plopped myself down on my couch, opened up Hotel Dusk, and began playing.

My first impressions were very positive. You held the DS sideways like a book, which I thought was kind of cool… you know… mystery novel game… holding it like a book… I thought it was clever. My next observation was the art style, which I absolutely loved. It didn’t have much color but was done in a sketchy, art book fashion.

The beginning started out with a lot of reading as the game laid out an insane amount of back story for the main character. The year is 1979, as Kyle Hyde, disgraced former New York Detective, arrives at the Hotel Dusk. Kyle is now a salesman for some company and is there for some business trip or something…. It wasn’t holding my attention very well for me to remember the details. I felt like I was doing too much reading to really get in touch with my character… It was almost like I resented him for having such a complicated past that I had to reach so much about. I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to play the game!

Finally after endless paragraphs of  boring details, I could finally control my character, and was able to explore the hotel a little…. very little. Kyle literally walks up to the front desk and triggers a conversation with the hotel owner that I had to read. … an exciting conversation, too. Let me recap:

“My name is Kyle Hyde.”
“Your name is Kyle Hyde?”
“Yeah, I’m Kyle Hyde.”
“We had a guest last week named Kyle Hyde.”
“You had a guest last week named Kyle Hyde?”
“Yeah, he had the same name as you, Kyle Hyde.”

You get my point. At the end of the riveting conversation, I had the choice to ask him questions about what he had said earlier (in case I wanted more information about whatever… ug). It’s clearly not necessary though since he already repeated everything at least twice.  When I was  done speaking with the hotel owner, I began to walk through the hotel to my room. I controlled Kyle as he turned the corner and started to walk up the stairs. As I took a few steps up,  a little girl sitting with a half finished puzzle started crying…. Then, are you ready for this? I started another conversation, full of repetitive dialogue that seemed to last forever. This conversation is even worse than the first one. Although the first conversation was repeated four times, I at least left with some information. When I was done speaking with the little girl , I felt like she needed a swift kick in the ass for firstly, playing on the stairs and for secondly, crying over a puzzle. Finally, this conversation ended and I continued down the hall to get to Kyle’s room….

I bet you thought I was going to make it to the room didn’t you? Well, I don’t. I happened to run into the bell hop who promptly started another conversation.  Once I was done with the bell hop another giant “READ ME!” text box appeared as soon as I got into my room. The phone had started to ring, Kyle answered it and the dialogue boxes immediately followed. This is as far as I got in the game before I gave up. Let me recap… I played for a half hour and my character went from the hotel lobby to his room after encountering a minimum of four conversations. All I could do was set  my DS down and wonder if I had a copy of “And Then There Were None” that I could read instead.

What’s really great was my boyfriend told me it couldn’t be nearly as bad as I made it out to be… played the game for a half hour… then set it down on our coffee table. He simply said, “That was a lot of reading. I’m done.”

This game is advertised as a novel, and that is really what it is. It is a semi-interactive murder mystery that you read. If you want a game to read, this might be for you. Although, I really doubt you would like it. A good murder mystery isn’t going to have you reading the same thing twenty times.

Final call:

Good idea. Pretty game. Horribly executed. Horribly boring.

<insert fail picture here>