Guitar Hero: Metallica (360) – Review

cover Guitar Hero: Metallica is the second band-specific game in the series, and given how woefully flat that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith came across, it’s very reasonable to have certain cautions about how well this game will be.  Fortunately, Neversoft did a lot of extra work to spit and polish this game up, paying a much better tribute to the band Metallica while also learning some of their lessons from past Guitar Hero games, making this game their best effort yet on the series and shows about as much skill towards music games as Harmonix has already.  It’s still got a few problem, mostly that if you’re not a fan of Metallica’s songs, you’re not going to find anything here, and that you’re going to spending the same price as a full game for a reduced soundtrack and fewer songs. However, the added features and touches really do make this game a great example to follow if they do attempt any more band-specific titles.

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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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Fracture (360) – Review

cover Fracture, created by Day 1 Studios and published by LucasArts, makes its claim to fame by adding in the concept of “terrain deformation” to a third-person shoot to alter the environment for both progressing in the game and defeating foes.  Unfortunately, while the mechanic certainly works, the whole game is mostly a mess with a weak story to try to justify the mechanic and gameplay that really doesn’t make the most of the mechanic, while also being on the shorter side.  I strongly recommend trying the demo even before hitting the rental store on this.

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Dark Sector (360) – Review

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Dark Sector by Digital Extremes and published by D3 Publisher, is a third-person "shooter", in the sense that while there are guns, the primary feature is a "glaive" that your character gains early in the game that can be used both offensively and to solve a handful of puzzles as you work your way through the game.  The game is not bad; it’s a fair challenge and its presentation of new gameplay elements is well paced.  But as a game with any lasting power, its weak story and uninspired gameplay and design make it hard to put this as anything but a rental to try and see.

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Call Of Duty: World at War (360) – Review

cover With this iteration of Call of Duty flipping back to Treyarch, Call of Duty: World at War returns to the historical setting of World War II, this time focusing on two theaters of war that haven’t been explored in depth: the Russian invasion of Germany, and the retaliation of America on Japan.  While the game does little to change up the formula of the game (including keeping some of the more disliked elements such as infinite enemy respawns, while using the same experience-based approach to multiplayer as Call of Duty 4), the game is otherwise a decent and solid title

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F.E.A.R. 2 – Project Origin (360) – Review

cover The first F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) game was a decent game for its time, combining elements of a first person shooter with aspects of horror and suspense films to create an dark and scary experience.  While FEAR 2: Project Origin attempts to continue both the gameplay and the story in the same fashion, still having you chase down the nearly omnipotent Alma before she brings destruction to the world, there are several places where it faults mostly for doing more the same and not really attempting to distinguish its gameplay from other first-person shooter games, as well as for having too much broadcasting of soon-to-take-place surprise events, thus diminishing it as a horror title.  There are still faults from the first game’s overall design that also linger.  It’s still does a good job when it gets to the horror-aspect setpieces, but the points in between are mundane.

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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.

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Tales of Vesperia (360) – Review

Namco’s first venture of the Tales series onto the current generation of consoles, Tales of Vesperia, will feature little surprise to those that have played the series before, not that this is a problem; the few touches on gameplay changes make for a familiar, yet new, experience, and the advantages of the new hardware help to make the presentation nicer.  For those that haven’t had a chance to experience the series, the game is very accodating to new users and is a good introduction to the series.  It still, however, has the usual stereotypical elements of a JRPG and is not going to convince those with an aversion to them to reconsider.

 

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Rock Band 2 (360) – Review

Harmonix’s and MTV Games’ Rock Band was a stunning success last year, beating the Guitar Hero to the punch at incorporating several more instruments besides just guitar into the music game set.  Now, less than a year later, we’ve got Rock Band 2 (at least, those of us on Xbox 360s), and while it’s denoted as a sequel, it’s better to think of it as a version upgrade; there’s no major changes to gameplay (unless you never had the opportunity to play in Band World Tour mode before), and the set list is full of 84 new songs, so it may seem like simply a quick way to chug out a new title.  But Rock Band 2 is very very polished, and a few new features and some tweaks to gameplay really make up for all the small failings that were in Rock Band.  But more importantly, add in the fact that while there may only be 84 songs on disk, you have your DLC library as well as most of the original game’s songs available to play, making this title one that will continue to expand week after week.

 

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