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.

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Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions (360) – Initial Impressions

Well, while the multiplayer for those appears to be good, I’m very underwhelmed with the single player game.  The background of the story seems interesting (people defending themselves from hostile aliens on a chilling cold, snow-covered planet) though we just had that same story effectively from Gears of War, but the in-game presentation of the story is lacking, so far.  While the game does combine, moreso than Halo, the combination of on-foot and mech use in fighting the alien foes, there’s nothing yet drastically new with the game, plus the graphics seem less than stellar when things get a bit hectic on screen.

The multiplayer looks good, however, with a few new modes that aren’t normally in other multiplayer games, though I’ve only tried a couple matches so far.

Super Swing Golf (Wii) – Initial Impressions

If you’ve ever played Albatross Golf, a free online multiplayer golf game for the PC, you’ll be quite familar with 90% of what Super Swing Golf has – it’s basically a port of the game to the Wii, using the same characters, graphics, courses, and other features, but adding in a story mode and, of course, using the Wii mote as your golf club.   It doesn’t have online competitve play though you can play with 3 others.  The swing is a bit less forgiving than that in Wii golf, but also gives you a bit more control of how you can play up the ball.  Plus with the larger number of courses, computer opponents, and other features, it’s a nice, if easy, adaptation of the game.

Tales of the Abyss (PS2) – Initial Impressions

I was rather disappointed with the last Tales title (‘Tales of Legendia, PS2) which, while keeping the general mechanics of the previous title (Tales of Symphonia, GC); it may have been that the battle system while still using the active but linear (like most 2D fighting games) system, it had no 3D depth, or the look of the game was a bit weird, or maybe just a very odd story, but it didn’t grab me as much as ToS did.

I’m glad to say that Tales of the Abyss feels much closer already to Symphonia that Legendia, as the graphic styles are closer to ToS, it uses close to the same battle system, and the story feels a bit better.  A few changes to the Tales mechanics are there, but not too much that I’ve seen yet (though only about 3hr into the game).  The largest annoyance which I’ve found is that the character sketches are back – brief little scenes which use 2d sprites instead of the 3d models and with text-only dialog to talk about aspects unrelated to the story but generally help with character development.  However, unlike the main text dialog (both voiced and text) which you can skip ahead, you have to wait for character animations to finish out to progress forward; you can cancel out of these with a button, but you don’t see the rest of the dialog.  I beleive, if I remember correctly, that ToS had the same problem with this mostly unskippable scenes.

But I’m still glad to see something more along the lines of ToS for Tales of the Abyss rather than ToL.