Prey

•March 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Prey follows Tommy, a mechanic of Native American descent. Things start off normal enough. It’s just a normal night at Jen’s (Tommy’s girlfriend) bar with his grandfather. But the shit hits the fan and they’re all abducted by aliens.

Not the welcoming party he was hoping for.

Not the welcoming party he was hoping for.

Sounds like the beginning of a bad movie right? Don’t worry, it’s more fun than it sounds. Tommy soon escapes from the aliens but he is still trapped inside their ship. He starts to desperately search for his grandfather and Jen. Of course this involves killing lots and lots of aliens. One the the cool things about Prey, is the use of portals. This allows enemies to come from just about anywhere. Fun fact, this game had portals before Portal was out. The gravity can also be changed in places. The weapons are different than usual too, they all are organic and you don’t have to reload. Because Tommy is of Native American descent, he can (don’t ask me how) have his spirit leave his body in order to access otherwise unreachable areas. In your spirit form you are also invisible, until you attack someone with your spirit bow. The main feature about the game though is that you can’t really die. When you lose all of your health, you get sent to a spirit dimension where you kill demon things in order to gain life. Afterwords your transported back right where you left off. Although this means no reloading a level, this also means no consequence for dying, which makes enemies about as fearsome as kittens. The story isn’t that great but the environments and creatures make up for it. The online multiplayer doesn’t have much depth, so you won’t be playing it very long.

Final Rating: B-

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The Secret of Monkey Island

•March 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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Over the past few years, we have seen many great releases in the gaming industry. Most of them with stunning graphics, amazing sound quality and none stop action. This is truly the age of the gamer, were videogames have the power to rival that of the movie industry (though with some of the most recent movie releases, that doesn’t seem to be too difficult). In spite of this, I believe that today’s games are still missing something. “The Secret of Monkey Island” has that something.

“The Secret of Monkey Island” is an old game that was produced by the (then) imaginative crew of Lucasfilm Games. It follows a man named Guybursh Threepwood, who washes ashore on Melee Island and having no memory of his past, decides out of the blue that he wants to be a pirate. The game follows Threepwood on his comedic quest to make this a reality, through random item bashing and hilariously random conversations. This is a true adventure game that, though it is not incredibly challenging, is just fun to go along for the ride. There is nothing more classic, than using a rubber chicken as a sling line to get across a gigantic gorge, or as strange as using insult fighting to beat opponents in duels to the death. This game is very well written, and unlike many other games that penalize you for saying stupid things with the conversation options, you are sometimes rewarded for it. In fact, half of this game is centered on conversation amonkey_island3nd the colorful characters that you have to bargain with to get the item you need for the next puzzle. There really is no way to loose in this game, (In fact, you can jump off a cliff, but he simply dusts himself off and walks away) but this is not exactly a competitive game.

I do have some criticisms, though. Sometimes, the usage of the items are so bizarre, that it can take a while to figure out what you have to do (ie. Chicken with sling line). However, to some, this might be seen as where the fun and the challenge comes from. Also, occasionally it is difficult to maneuver the character to where you want him to go, but you never have to dodge bullets or run from alien monsters, so this simply more of an annoyance rather than anything else. This game is also very linear, so to gamers who are used to action games that have alternate endings, there is just the one.

Overall, this is a good game. It may not have the graphics or the adrenaline pumping gameplay of most current games, but it will always go down as one of my all time favorites. If you’re looking for a game that is full of adventure, will make you laugh and has a protagonist in a puffy shirt, then this is the game for you.

Final Grade: A+

Noby Noby Boy

•February 28, 2009 • 2 Comments

Noby Noby Boy is made by the creators of Katamari, the wacky game where you pick up small objects with your ball so that it grows larger so you can pick up even larger objects. The story in Noby Noby Boy is this, you play Boy, a creature that can stretch hisnoby_boy_esrb body, and you try and help Girl (a much larger version of Boy) reach all of the planets in the solar system. As you make Boy grow, so does Girl. Every player playing adds to Girl’s growth, so it’s a combined effort. The problem is though that there is no objectives, no point. Your not forced to make yourself grow. You can do whatever you want, but there isn’t much to do. You can eat people, which is a plus, and then crap them out. When you arrive at a planet the only thing you gain is new environments to explore, and by explore I mean walking around for a couple of minutes looking at the little area they gave you to explore. Is this game worth a $5 download? That’s debatable. I don’t think it is, but that’s just me. The fun doesn’t last very long.

Final Rating: C

Baseball Advance

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

baseballadvaceBaseball Advance is hands down the best way to play a game of baseball on the go. All teams and players are here, including four real ball parks. There is a great season mode, with the ability to control how many games, innings, etc. The graphics are phenomenal for a GBA game. The hitting mechanics in this game are rather unconventional, and definitely takes some getting used to. You hold down the A button to charge up the swing meter, and when you release it you swing. This means you have to time your button presses with the pitcher, and the best time to begin holding is usually right as the pitcher is in the middle of his windup. Fielding is another great part of this game, and doesn’t really have any flaws. Throwing to the bases is fast and responsive, so you really can’t ask for any more from the fielding. Running the bases also works great. As for hitting, there is a big blue circle in the strike zone that varies in size depending on the hitting ability of the batter, and you have to move it around so that it can lock onto the ball. This can be frustrating at times, and although not bad by any means, hitting is the weakest area of the game. Compared to some other portable baseball games, this one’s a winner.

Final grade: B+

Elite Beat Agents

•February 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Yeah, I don't know what's happening here either.

Sometimes, a game comes along that is fun to play, and has a lot of replay value, but you just can’t believe the premise. Elite Beat Agents is that game. Based on the Japanese series Ouendan, EBA puts you in the shoes of one of the Elite Beat Agents, basically an elite force that helps fix people’s problems through… wait for it… DANCING! Yeah, okay, it’s pretty weird, but that’s definitely a part of this game’s charm. Just watching the Agents dance around on the bottom screen is enough to make you laugh. The top screen plays out the story of the person in trouble. These may be the highlight of the game. From the weather forecaster who blows away rainclouds (with the help of friendly forest animals, of course), to basically helping a French painter “get lucky”, the stories are crazy. With all the gameplay on the bottom screen, you’ll probably miss these the first time through, so it’s a good thing the game has a replay option to watch your sessions over and over.

Gameplay-wise, EBA shows that simple is sometimes best. The basic gameplay consists of circles appearing onscreen. These circles have another circle which close in on them slowly. Your goal is to tap the circle as soon as the outer circle touches the inner circle. This may seem easy, but at times, there can be so many circles onscreen at once, you must be a master to get a perfect score. There are variations on this. Sometimes a path will appear onscreen, and you must trace it with your stylus. The other type of marker is a spin marker, which is pretty self-explanatory. The spin marker is pretty much my only problem with the gameplay, as it feels like a pretty useless aspect, and just succeeds in making you worry about breaking your stylus. This is compounded by the fact that EBA is not an easy game. In fact, it gets damn near impossible on certain difficulties. With 4 difficulty levels, though, the game never quite gets out of hand completely, raising your skill through making you repeat levels over and over as you fail.

The main problem I have with the game is its soundtrack. It does fit the game perfectly, but it’s just a little strange. Samplings include classic rock hits like “Highway Star” and “Jumping Jack Flash”, but also throws in some oddities like “Material Girl” and “La La”. This weird mix of songs makes the game a bit difficult to play in public, unless you want to be seen jamming to Ashlee Simpson on your DS. EBA is definitely a must-have for any DS owner, and for any fan of rhythm games. Just make sure you’ve got some headphones for playing outdoors.

Final Grade: B

All-Pro Football 2K8

•February 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Back in 1999, Sega released the Sega Dreamcast, a quality system which eventually ended in failure. At the Dreamcast’s launch, EA Sports declined to release the Madden franchise on the console, prompting Sega to find another football franchise to fill this gap. NFL 2K was the football series to take Madens place, and it performed excellently. The series continued in yearly installments, eventually gaining an ESPN license and moving onto the Xbox and PS2. Unfortunately, in 2004, EA signed an exclusivity agreement with the NFL, effectively shutting out all competition from 2K Football. The franchise disappeared for several years, only to be ressurrected with All-Pro Football 2K8. The series still has some serious fight left in it, but there are a couple glaring omissions that keep the game from reaching the heights of its predecessors.

Since the NFL is now off-limits for everyone but Madden, 2K Sports decided to go with a more inventive solution. The game’s roster is made up entirely of former NFL players, mostly Hall-of-Famers. This means you can finally assemble your dream football squad. Want to go for an all-out assault with Dan Marino and Barry Sanders? How about the epic team-up of Bubby Brister and Yancey Thigpen? Go ahead. All 240 legends in the game are ranked as either a Gold, Silver, or Bronze star player. At the beginning of the game, you choose 2 gold, 3 silver, and 6 br177315-apf2k8_screens_0003_layer_221onze players. While an average football fan should recognize all of the Gold players and most of the Silvers, once you move into the Bronze tier, you’ll start scratching your head. Any open positions left after your draft are filled by randomly generated players who do a decent job carrying out their roles. Once you move past the draft, the serious downfall of 2K8 is revealed. After naming your ridiculous made up team, you are presented with only four game types – Quick Play, Season, Practice, and an Online Match. For whatever reason, 2K Sports decided not to include a franchise mode in the game. despite the fact that ESPN NFL 2K5, the last 2K football game before this, did include it. This omission severely limits the replayability of the game, as after you beat Season mode once, you most likely won’t do anything else but play online.

Fortunately, the game shines in its most important area: gameplay. Simply put, this is the most realistic football game you will ever play. Every play and every formation you could want is included. Every player handles realistically, as opposed to the ice-skating running backs and ball-magnet recievers of Madden.The only detail that seems to plague all football games, what I like to call velcro tackles, still plague this game too. Whenever any player makes a tackle, they seemingly home in on their target and attach themselves instantly, like some strange adhesive is holding them to their opponent. Luckily the rest of the game overshadows this small problem.

If you’re sick of Madden’s recycled games every year, and are looking for a new football game fix, do not pass up All-Pro 2K8. And if you were ever a fan of the series in the past, by all means, buy this game now. It’s a worthy, though not perfect, continuation of the series.

Final Grade: A

crackdown

•February 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

x360_crackdown_131When Crackdown first came out, all you seemed to hear about was how it seemed like a nice bonus that came with the Halo 3 beta. Now call me crazy, but I ended up enjoying Crackdown way more than I ever did Halo 3. The one problem that I have consistently had with every sandbox game that I’ve ever played is that I usually have more fun driving cars around, shooting guys, and just exploring the world than I do actually completing the missions. Boy am I lucky, Crackdown is almost the perfect game for me. There literally is no story in this game, other than “there’s a bunch of gangs, they’re fighting for supremecy, KILL THEM ALL!” There are 21 gang leaders scattered across the world, and you can take them down in any order you want. The cool thing about it though, is that if you take down the lower gang members first, the higher ones become easier to kill. For example, taking down the gang member responsible for explosives will get rid of those pesky rocket launchers that the higher gang members use. The action in this game is absolutely amazing, and easily the best part of the game. You have four skill areas to level up: strength, driving, agility, and firearms. By doing something associated with one of these four categories, you gain points, and you can eventually level up each category, making you a mix between the Incredible Hulk and Spiderman by the end of the game. One of the unique parts of this game, and also the most fun, is the superhuman jumping ability that your agent has. This means that you can scale any building in the game, and there are usually agility orbs (which increase your agility level) atop some of the higher buildings. The jumping and climbing mechanics work very well, and it’s always great fun to leap from building to building. The hands-down best part of this game though are the explosions. As you gain some more advanced weapons, a homing missile launcher becomes a part of your arsenal. By locking on to a target, you can blast them into smithereens. Levelingcrackdown-screenshot-_37 up your explosive abilities makes blasts even better. Heck, they even sound amazing, and with the right speakers…oh man! Crackdown is a no-nonsense action game, and I realize that this will turn some people off. Those who give it a chance though, will find an amazingly fun to play game with a huge city to explore and a nice atmosphere to boot. Oh, and there’s online co-op too, making the game that much better.

Final grade: A-