Sam and Max Season 1 Episode 5 (PC) – Review

“Reality 2.0” was definitely a different step compared to the previous games, as both the formula was different in the game structure, but also had several nice nods to the geek culture (including a Mario and a Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy and a old Zork text adventure one).

It’s still as short as the others, but now with the end of the series in sight, it’s definitely looking like a good overall experience.

Cooking Mama Cook Off (Wii) – Review

Cooking Mama Cook Off - CoverThe first Cooking Mama game for the Nintendo DS was a nice short little stint that used the DS touchscreen well to simulate cooking; it wasn’t a must-have game, but after the intensity of games like Warioware, it was a nice chance of pace. The transition of the game to the Wii was pretty much a no-brainer; the Wii Remote would allow a wider range of actions than just what the DS would be able to provide while still sticking to the core gameplay. Unfortunately, Cooking Mama: Cook Off for the Wii, developed by Majesco and distributed by Taito, suffers from several problems in the transition from portable to console, and with the rather hefty price tag for the limited amount of game, it’s definitely a game to rent instead of to rush out and buy.

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Enchanted Arms (360) – Initial Impressions

I should note that one of the problems with going through sooo many games is that for RPGs, you can tend to lose track of the plot, characters, and combat/skills/magic stuff if you either drop it for long enough or try to play too many RPGs at the same time.  I had previous tries to do this, but it’s hard to do when a lot of RPGs come out in a few short months.  So I’ve decided to try to make it through one console RPG at a time; other games can be dispersed through this since they’re not plot heavy, and portable RPGs are a different beast.  I did start EA to about 10 hrs before (maybe 3 months ago?) but I decided to restart it to get back into the plot.

Anyway, Enchanted Arms brings a few decidedly non-JRPG elements to a JRPG: first, you can save anywhere (outside of battle) so there’s no need to race between fixed save points; these are also different from Quicksaves that, for example, the FF games on the GBA/DS have where the save is destroyed if you load from it.   Additionally, if you die in battle, you have the option to try the battle again, thus there’s almost no risk in the regular wanderings (they’re the usual invisible random monster encounters).   I think without these elements, there was no chance for this game getting to the 360.

The combat is a turn based type approach, where each character you have can move about in a 3×4 grid and then have special attacks or defensive/healing spells that affect a specific part of the opponents’ 3×4 grid.  The idea adds some more strategy to the usually bashing, because the longer you spend in battle, the more Vitality Points (VPs) you lose.   Characters can fall in battle, but as long as they have VPs, they’ll be back at full health and power the next battle, and specific stations can be used to restore VPs, but should VPs drop to zero, that character is completely out until you can restore him or her at the next restoration point.  Fortunately, your party has more than just the human characters; the world is filled with special robots that you can collect cores, synthesize, and have fight along side you as characters, and thus you have 4 active characters with 4 more in backup.

The combat’s ok, but it can be drawn out a bit because of how long it takes to place each character and determine their move.  It would have helped if there was a way to see the pattern of influence that each move had without having to select it, as to make the strategy work out faster.   Fortunately, if you get into an area with rather easy monsters, you can, on a turn by turn basis, have the computer run your characters for you, which will make save attacks but may not be the fastest way to end the battle.

The characters are… well, odd.  The lead character’s got a notable lisp and is very very dense, but that just starts the pack.

It’s definitely a very different from from other JRPG, as many elements are definitely influenced by western games, but I know not to expect much.  The joke that’s been around since the announcement of EA for the PS3 is that PS3 owners will now too be able “to experience the mediocrity of EA” for themselves.

Destroy All Humans 2 (XBX) – Initial Impressions

The first Destroy All Humans was a rather interesting Grand Theft Auto variation, where you took control of a Gray-like alien that turned to basically destroying all humans circa the Red Scare in the 1950s.  Some of the human was pretty campy, but the game included both several nice weapons, telekinetic powers, and the use of a saucer for mass destruction.

Destroy All Humans 2 takes us a few more years now in the 1960s, where hippies teem and the KBG, recognizing that the new “president” of the States is actually an alien, take steps to try to stop their invasion.  This, of course, turns your protagonist against the humans once again, sending him on yet another rampagn.

It’s still a GTA -style game, but now with more distinction between main and side missions (that it, it feels more open world than the first game).  The areas are much larger, and now there’s a GTA warning style meter to indicate when more tougher foes will try to take you down.  To take some missions, you actually have to talk to humans, and while you could body-snatch in the first game, you now either have to do it in a quiet area or get ready to either erase some minds or send out good vibrations to get the humans to ignore you and reduce the warning level.   There’s more spaces to switch between saucer and on-foot action, and while in the saucer, you can now abduct different types of people to “synthesize” new powers and abilities for your character.   The area buildings are still rather destructible and seem to stay that way as you move away.

The new additions are pretty nice , and the dialog/situations are still as campy as the first; it’s not a great game (yet) but still pretty enjoyable.  It’s just odd that this game came out only for the original XBox (this last holiday season) and doesn’t have 360 backwards compatibility even though the first Destroy All Humans is listed on that list.

MotorStorm (PS3) – Initial Impressions

I’ve heard people say that MotorStorm is going to be the system seller for the PS3.  Unfortunately, I really beg to differ, so far, despite it being one of the two better games for the system to date (along with Resistance: Fall of Man).  The concept is sound: dirt/mud racing in the mesa valleys of the southwest in 5 different types of vehicles (motorcycles, ATVs, buggies, stock cars, and trucks), and the graphics look really nice and all, getting the muddiness and griminess of the race down well, but…

Things seems a bit more sluggish than expected for dirt racing – while I wouldn’t hold the game “FlatOut” as a prime example of a great dirt racing game, I felt I had more control there.  And you can’t go too easy on the track lest you get overtaken quickly.  Of course, I’m just starting so it may get a bit easier, but I’m not impressed.  While you can switch on the Sixaxis to use it as a motion control (like with the Wii), it seems even worse — and here’s where the lack of rumble really screams out.

Add to this that the menus and other parts of the game are just really slow — we’re talking close to PSP loading times, which there is no reason for that here.

I need to give it more time to give it a more fair assessment but as it stands now, I’m not impressed at all.

God of War 2 (PS2) – Review

God of War 2 - CoverGod of War, developed and produced by SCEA, made a large impression on the gaming community when it came out 2 years ago (nearly to date), bringing life back into the stale genre of combat action games. With its success, a sequel was no surprise, but while the same developers could have stayed the course, they have instead started with a much more epic story and quest, and tweaked the gameplay just so in parts to make the sequel God of War 2 a much more impressive title, and maybe one of the top games for the PS2.

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God of War (PS2) – Review Repost

God of War - CoverGod of War, to put it simply, is extremely gory and violent event for taking place in ancient Roman times, but is an excellent gaming challenge and a reasonably fresh approach to platformers.You play Kratos, a mortal on a vengeance against the god Ares, who is currently attacking Athena’s city of Athens. We quickly find out Kratos is much more than mortal–he wields lethal blades on chains, and cares little for fellow mortals. As Kratos rescues the Oracle of Athens, he finds that the only way to stop Ares is to obtain Pandora’s Box from a temple set to safeguard it for all time, and then to use it’s power against Ares.

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