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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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.

Crackdown (360) – Review

Crackdown - CoverTying a full game to the chance to beta test the highly anticipated Halo 3 may seem like a cheap marketing tactic by Microsoft in order to push Crackdown, but the game itself is much more than just a free Halo 3 ticket. It’s a well done take on the open world genre, focusing much less on missions and instead giving the player an incentive to build up their character’s abilities in order to do more amazing feats within the game, with a pacing in this buildup rather critical to keeping the game interesting throughout the entire main plot. While it’s certainly not perfect, it’s definitely a title that should hopefully inspire similar styles of open gameplay in future games.

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Crackdown (360) – Initial Impressions

Finally, a game that’s just stupid fun, with jump-right-in type approachs for the 360 (more so than Saints Row).  Take your open world of GTA, the complete chaos that occurred in the otherwise dismal State of Emergancy, and you get Crackdown.

The player is overpowered (though I’m playing on the easiest, default setting), but not so much to make it a cakewalk.  But as soon as you start earning the skill levels and getting even more powered, the game becomes, again, stupid fun.  Sure, there’s missions and side events, but just wandering the city on foot looking for the HUNDREDS of bonus orbs seems like a great way to waste an hour of so if you need it.

Of course, this is only an hour of so of play time, so the question of easiness and repetition remain.  Hopefully there will be at least some challenge from the AI down the road.

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.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories – Initial Impressions

 

Got a few hours down into GTA:VCS today. So far, it’s pretty good:

  • You can change the control scheme to use the dpad for movement and aiming instead of the analog nub. THANK GOODNESS.
  • There’s some hints that they’ve listened to critiques about the GTA series (in general) and maybe have taken from Saints Row (though given the release of that with the development time, I’m guessing they had similar ideas). When you end up at a hospital, you have the taxi to take you back to the last mission (as from GTA:VC), as well as the option to buy back the weapons you had before you entered the hospital for a ‘small fee’. There’s several facilities that you want to take over; to do that, you need to do several missions for them which will increase your reputation with that facility, and will earn you more cash on a daily basis (no more running between all the properties you own to collect this as well). VCS
  • You start near the airport (effectively the complete opposite side of the city), so you get to explore this area more. Unfortunately, the entire map is not open at the start, but save for going into or out of buildings, I’ve yet to hit a loading screen while just driving around.
  • Most of the missions have been the same-old, same-old. Nothing yet really ‘new’.

Still got a ways to go on the game, but so far no annoying accurate aiming missions yet like an early one in GTA:LCS.