Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) – Review

cover Following on the success of the immensely popular Final Fantasy 7 and the various spin-offs and media from that work, Square Enix has turned to a portable spin-off for the PSP in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 that explores the character of Zack some years before the events in the main FF7 game.  While the game does try to standalone from knowledge of FF7, it is best appreciated with full awareness of the previous title.  The game itself is very well done and works perfectly as a PSP title, but some odd, though not game-breaking, design choices lead to the game being a lot easier than I believe the creators envisioned.

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MadWorld (Wii) – Review

cover The folks behind MadWorld, Platinum Games, have a lot of previously impressive games under their belt: Okami, Viewtiful Joe, and GodHand, to name a few, so it should be no surprise that MadWorld aims to keep up that trend, falling back to the developers’ more fighting-game style approach.  Thankfully, this assumption proves correct, as MadWorld delivers what exactly is promised with an awesome presentation.  While the gameplay does somewhat flatline in the latter part of the game, and there’s some aspect to its shortness, the rest of the game is really well done.

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Peggle (XBL) – Review

cover Keeping this really short and simple – the Peggle translation to Xbox Live is pretty much all forms of awesome, with the "Peggle Party" addition for XBox Live being a perfect touch.

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Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and Damned (360) – Review

gta-iv-the-lost-and-damnedcoverThe Lost and Damned is the first "episodic" content for Grand Theft Auto 4 (with promise of at least one more episode).  As downloadable content, the addon describes simultaneous events in Liberty City with those in the main game, but now from from the perspective of one of the side characters, a leader of a old-fashioned motorcycle club, with his path crossing that of Niko several times.  While the game does little to change the standard mission approach from GTA4, it does toss in a few new gameplay elements, weapons, and other features to make it a worthwhile download for its high cost.

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Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard (360) – Review

cover Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard presents an interesting concept to build a game around: create a fictional video game hero of the past, now returned to revitalize his games, but only to attempt to kill him quickly.  It sets up a range of possible industry in-jokes on video games and recent trends, and to this extent, the game does deliver.  However, the gameplay and overall presentation itself is somewhat lackluster, and rather short, leading to a game that really is enjoyed as a rental, but certainly not worth the cost of a full-priced game.

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de Blob (Wii) – Review

de Blob, developed by Blue Tongue and distributed by THQ, is an interesting title – there’s similarities to Katamari Damacy throughout, but though it is not as quirky as that title, there’s still little touchs that remind me of why I enjoyed that game.  de Blob is a very good effort for a third party Wii game; it’s fun though can be tedious near the end, but does have a lot of collection items that will interest those types of games.  The presentation is very well done, particularly in the sound department.  It’s definitely the type of game that will appeal to those that like ones that go off the beaten path.

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Stuntman Ignition (360) – Review

Ignition coverThe original Stuntman game was interesting: the concept of being a stunt driver seemed to fit the video game mentality perfectly, but the execution of the game was horrible; between long load times and very tight stunt requirements, it made it difficult to run through each stunt enough times to know the entire stunt ahead of time, and then repeating it to get the timing and actions down right, taking much of the fun out of the game. The original game was produced by Reflections Interactive and distributed by Atari, but THQ has taken over development of the sequel, Stuntman: Ignition, with development by Paradigm Entertainment. The sequel has definitely learned a lot of lessons from the first game, with stunt courses being a lot easier and a lot more forgiving to pull off, but with this improvement creates the problem of the game being almost too easy to clear (though presents a score-mode to challenge you to be perfect) and making the value of the next-gen title a bit questionable.

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Stuntman (PS2) – Review Repost

Stuntman - CoverStuntman is one of those few games that really should be able to sell themselves from the concept alone, however, the game fails rather spectacularly due to a number of gameplay and performance features that seem to be easily corrected.

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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) – Initial Impressions

I played through about the first hour of this yesterday (that is, up though the first boss); the trouble with those Wii games that actively engage both hands that if you’re not used to it, it’s hard to jump in and do long doses at the start (had the same problem with Zelda for example).

However, I have to say that the word about the control scheme being near perfect holds true – yes, I’m still at the stages of trying to get used to all the controls, but they feel tons more natural than Red Steel’s version.  The lock-on with side aiming is a very nice feature.  My only nit is that the “pull-twist-push” actions for door seals seem difficult to pull off, the same issue I had with Elebits’ door handles, because of the in/out motion with the remote seeming to not be registering well.  I believe there’s a setting on the Wii main menu that might help that, so I’ll check that again.  The only nit is the scan visor activation process which requires a bit more finger movement to hit the “-” key, then to select the visor, THEN to aim and target the scan area.  Again, haven’t gotten far enough to determine if this could have been mapped any differently.

I’m trying to figure out if the graphics look any better than the GC Prime games — certainly after playing lots of 360 games at 1080i and coming back to 480p, jaggies are very notable, but ignoring that, it doesn’t seem like the engine pushing too much beyond what Prime was doing before on the GC — not that this wasn’t bad or the like.

BioShock (360) – Review

BioShock - CoverBioShock, developed by 2K Games Boston/Australia (previously known as Irrational Games) has been stated as a spiritual sequel of System Shock 2, likely one of the best strategic FPS games of past generations. BioShock does an excellent job in capturing many of the elements that made System Shock 2 what it was: using the environment against foes, hacking security systems to your side, choices on what powers to develop further, and the like, while adding in new features to complete the gameplay. While the game is outstanding in both story, visuals, and audio, there are a few gameplay decisions that I question that detract from the difficulty of the game, notably how the player is allowed to take the path of least resistance and is not encouraged or forced to alter a gameplay style learned early in the game in order to complete the game, and which could have been easily tweaked without significant alteration of the game.

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