Need for Speed: Undercover (360) – Review

NFSU_cover Blackbox/EA’s Need for Speed series has been suffering in the most latest offerings by focusing less on driving hard and fast, and instead focusing on more technical driving, and most consider the last good title being Most Wanted.  The latest offering, NFS: Underground, does try to recapture the flavor of Most Wanted while ditching several modes such as drifting and drag racing that were met unfavorable by critics, the game still suffers both design problems that make the game too easy, and technical problems that mar its presentation.  It’s still a fun racing game, but just not a tight package that older NFS have been.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Stuntman: Ignition (360) – Initial Impressions

I already had tried and stated some of the things about the demo that make this game about ten times better than the original Stuntman game.  Notably: there’s a couple ways that you can play through the stunt completely (not quite sandboxing it, but close enough) either by switching to easy mode which gives you the opportunity to miss more stunts, or as long as you don’t miss a critical jump or the like, you can continue even knowing that you failed.  In order to clear a stunt, you still have to play through the entire stunt without missing 5 required stunts, but getting there is much less of a pain than it was in the first game.  Playing through a few more levels, the timing feels a bit more comfortable as the game encourages you more to score more via chaining stunts instead of just finishing a stunt and moving on.  They add motorcycles that can wheelie and also slide under low obstacles.  You can still put together your own stunt courses as well as a challenge mode where you have to meet certain requirements with the course you built (similar to TrackMania’s Puzzle modes).  There seems to be a lot more ‘pick and go’ options as well.

The only concern I have presently is that there’s a total of 6 movies with 6 scenes in the game, so I’m hoping its not too short.  It does look like you can’t just wimp through all the stunts; movies don’t get unlocked until you achieve a certain ranking and that can only be improved by gaining better score ratings on individual scenes.  I haven’t had this problem yet of having to go back to do better, as I only got through the first movie last night, but I don’t expect this to be a critical show stopper (eg I doubt its the case that you can’t do the last movie if you haven’t 5-starred all the previous stunts).

So far, so good…

DiRT (360) – Review

DiRT  - Cover

It’s amazing the type of variation that one can get with racing games still after so many years of development. Just recently was Forza Motorsport 2 with highly realistic track racing, and then there’s the Need for Speed series that does street racing. But DiRT, developed and published by CodeMasters, offers yet another bit of variety for racing, this time in terms of motorcross. The game is effectively a continuation of the Colin McRae motorcross series featuring himself helping you through the game. Most of the game is pretty well done and does a decent job of simulating various types of terrain, but otherwise it lacks much of the staying power that other racing titles have, in part to a rather weak online multiplayer aspect.

Continue reading

DiRT (360) – Initial Impressions

I will say this, that while the demo actually came out before the game (what a surprise!), the demo only had a single race mode that really didn’t display the best of this game.

It’s NOT as graphically amazing as the PS3 Motorstorm, but it’s sufficiently pretty for a next-gen title.  And after play Forza 2 a lot, having two different in-the-cockpit views, including the safety meshing, makes for an interesting gameplay experience (there’s also bumper view, hood view, and two trailing cam views incase you need to see more of where you’re going).

There looks like there’s about 6 different single player modes, including a full-on race mode against other cars at the same time, “crossover” tracks against 1 other car, and then timed courses where you need to go as fast as possible on twisty terrain which can be quite harrowing.   Career mode is a large pyramid structure; you need to complete races and accumulate points going left to right and down to top to get to the single ultimate career race series.  Like most racing games, you earn cash to buy new cars, 43 in all.

Haven’t tried online yet.

I will say that the menu system/loading screens are the most interesting and beautiful ones to look at (same as in the demo)  in a long time, like floating panels within a large 3D environment, yet they move fast from one selection area to another.  Plus at the start of career mode, the announcer quickly (5 minutes) gives you a low-down of how everything works from the menus side, which is pretty nice as well.

Forza Motorsport 2 (360) – Review

Forza Motorsport 2 - CoverGran Turismo has been known to be the most realistic console racing simulator to date through its various incarnations. When the original Forza Motorsport came out on the original Xbox, it did make an impression due to its strong realistic physics and was given very positive reviews, but was still overshadowed, in the overall console market, by Gran Tursimo 4 for the Playstation 2. Now, Forza Motorsport 2, developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios, has hit the market and may have flipped the tide for good in its favor. The game’s physics engine is even further improved, and allows for not only tuning and improvements of cars, but physical damage to cars (something that is generally missing in realistic racing games), and a huge number of options to adjust the game from a detailed racing simulation to a fun arcade racing game. It also sports one of the best Xbox Live implementations that ties in well to the single player mode. By far, Forza Motorsport 2 is a definitely must have for any racing game fan and may easily surpass Gran Tursimo as the best racing game ever.

Continue reading