Just Cause (360) – ~5hr

Going back through some games that came out during the fall rush of releases.

Just Cause can simply be put as, specifically, GTA:SA taking place in a tropical island.  The goal is to try to overthrow the persons in power, and as such, the island is divided into several zones (like the first city in SA).  There’s settlements in each area that you can raid and take over with the help of “La Resistance” and other people that want to see a coup on the island, and when you take over and do enough side missions, you gain bases there.  There’s lots of side missions, but most tend to end being “go to this checkpoint and then this one”.  There’s also the main story missions that also grant you more safe houses and equipment to use.

The game improves on some of the GTA issues, not as well as Saints Row did, but enough to be given a nod to.  By far, the hardest part of the game is the fact that this is a tropical island, with dorment volcanoes and extremely hilly and forested terrain, so getting from point A to point B is rarely a straight line.  But, you can do stunts (drive a car over a cliff and then parachute out safely, or jump from car to car).  However, so far, it is rather repetitative and with the terrain being hard to navigate, it can get frustrating pretty fast.   It’s hard to tell how deep this game is, there are a lot of side missions but no percentage indicator, the only thing I can really go by is territory control, which I would estimate me to be at 15% then.

Sam and Max Season One: Episode 3 (PC) – Review

Pretty much like the last episode, there’s really nothing wrong with the game from all the usual standpoints, but it’s not very long – it just takes less than 2 hours to complete.

I think I figured out the key problem with the game – it’s the fact that by dividing up a game the length of the original Sam and Max Hit the Road into 6 parts, you still get the same amount of gameplay, but because you have to limit a puzzle’s span to within 1/6th of the game, you don’t get any really long puzzles that would exist in a full game. While I could see them putting puzzles that span episodes, the game would be a bit harder given the release schedule (you may likely have to go back to play previous episodes if you forget the details of them in order to solve the puzzle).

The linking aspect of the episodes are pretty good, and while having more Sam and Max (even any adventure game) is good, I’m wondering how appropriate the episodic nature really is.

Condemned: Criminal Origins (360) – Review

Criminal Origins - Cover As one of the original XBox 360 launch titles, “Condemned: Criminal Origins” wasn’t considered as one of the A-list titles for the console. However, the game, developed by Monolith and distributed by Sega, may be a sleeper hit, as it combines a simplified first-person action game with a dramatic horror story intertwined among the game in a method that other games like F.E.A.R. or Doom 3 have tried but failed. While not perfect nor an significantly impressive showing for the technology, “Condemned” is still a great game with hopes for more games to come in the future in the same vein. Continue reading

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (360) – Review

Lost Planet - Cover Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, produced by Capcom for the 360, was a highly anticipated title, due to two relatively new concepts: a world based on snow and ice, and the use of mechanical suits in addition to typical gameplay aspects. Unfortunately, the overall single player game really lacks any meat or challenging gameplay, leaving this title to mostly as a somewhat unique multiplayer game, but otherwise a lackluster title. Continue reading

WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii) – Initial Impressions

Even with a good bunch of games behind it, this may be either the key platform seller, or a great catalyst for more new games.

The game plays much as the past WarioWare games – seemingly random minigames that require to reacts in seconds, as they come faster and faster. The access to these games (about 10 different ‘sets’ and several combination levels) are the same, as well as the usual features (longer mini-games, ability to play any minigame until you drop, etc.) are there.

The key feature is that the Wiimote is used in so many different ways. Each game starts with a ‘posture’ for the Wiimote, with about 20 different ones. For example, the usual way you use the remote to interact with the Wii is called the “Remote Control”, while another has you hold the remote to your side like a sword handle, and yet another has you hold the remote on your head. Prior to each minigame you’re told what pose you need for it so you have time to get ready, though between getting them ready and keeping the Wiiremote strap on (which is very highly recommending) this can be a bit tricky, and then in some cases, figuring out the right moves for the game can be tough.

The games themselves are the usual weirdness, and true to the series, the 9-Volt games (“retro”) tend to be the most interesting (including some Nintendogs, Brain Age, Pikman, and Zelda: Wind Waker).

The multiplayer modes (up to 16 players!) involve various forms of outlasting the other players as you get to more difficult modes.

As usual, it’s easy to unlock all the basic modes of play, but the difficulty comes in mastering everything.

Okami (PS2) – Review Repost

Okami - CoverOkami, developed by Clover Studios (who previously have done the Viewtiful Joe series) and distributed by Capcom, is best described as a game for the PS2 in the flavor of the Legend of Zelda series, with a lot of similarities but makes strides for its own unique gameplay styling. Nearly every part of this game is done perfectly, with extremely strong gameplay, an engaging story, and stunning audio and visuals. The few minor faults at the presentation level don’t affect how strong a title Okami is. Continue reading

Burnout Revenge (360) – Replay Impressions

I completed the main series of events a long time ago, but decided to pick this back up as I realized I was missing much of the non-online achievements (mostly through completely each rank level perfectly, which along the way includes completing all the basic game modes).  It is still an extremely fun game though there’s certain parts of it that shine and other parts that are really annoying:

  •  Basic and elimination races are still fine.  These are usually easy enough to win and get perfect ratings as long as you screw it up on the last turn
  • Crash mode is probably the best part of the game.  I’d almost say that a Burnout game comprised only of Crash modes would be awesome, though I realize it would get boring – the mix of crash and race modes is what made Burnout Revenge the polished title it was.  A few crash points require being extremely accurate when you launch off in order to make the gold, but thankfully it’s easy to reset these if you fail (you don’t have to wait for loading screens unlike the other modes)
  • Burning/Preview laps are sufficiently hard – you have to basically be boosting all the time as to get the rating up to Awesome, particularly on shorter routes, and you have to be wise about shortcuts that you take – some may save a few seconds in one point but prevent you from getting a better time cut in a second route.  However, these really do help you to learn the routes (including the little stubs on walls that can crash you) for the other modes.
  • Traffic Attack mode – The only mode that using boost is actually bad, save when you have no traffic you can use to attack.  Plus, when you use the boost, it’s hard to tell what is a good truck you can hit safely, and a bigger truck that you’ll crash against.  Usually I found I needed to play these a few times to know where the major traffic patterns were so, such that I knew where I needed to boost through to avoid the wasted seconds in the slow parts.  Also learning how get trick shots (sending a car into a larger vehical) was key.  Getting the Awesome rating then usually comes easy as you do these, though once you get gold, you can boost without impunity to get your rating up.
  • Road Rage mode – The most annoying mode for me, as while I could deal with the time issue, it’s the fact that you actually can only crash so many times before the race is over.  There seems to be a lot more traffic on these, so making it through without crashing is a rarity, so it becomes a combination of knowing the tracks (as in Burning laps) and knowing the usual traffic patterns, and then knowing the tricks of how to bring takedowns (like riding a competitor right behind them while they are on rail, for example)

The largest annoyance in trying to complete these achievements; 4 stars is usally very easily but that 5th star (whether it’s the gold rating or the awesome rating) is the hard part, and unfortunately, if you restart or retry a race you have to wait for the game to reload the race which takes about 15 seconds.  For some Road Rage races, I had to spend close to a hour between racing and restarts to get the stars.

Still, regardless of the technical problems, I cannot wait until the next Burnout game which looks like it will take very good advantage of the next gen systems.