Review – Rise of the Argonauts

I’m not really sure what I think of Rise of the Argonauts. On one hand, the game suffers from some poor design choices that can really slow the pace to an insufferable crawl and frustrate the player immensely … so I wouldn’t recommend it. On the other hand, the exciting combat sequences, engrossing story, fine voice acting and art direction made the game quite enjoyable … so I’d totally recommend it.

On another hand, the developer calls this game an RPG, which it totally isn’t. Yeah, you can choose new abilities and change your outfits, but both aspects are so limited that you can’t really call it a full-blown RPG … so we’re back to not recommending it again (for RPG players). And on the final hand, that limiting of options actually works in the game’s favor, because coupling intricate inventory management with sometimes slow story progression would kill this thing outright … so is that a plus? →  Read the rest

Review – Grand Theft Auto IV **

Grand Theft Auto IV is the greatest game in the history of electronics. No game since GTAIII has revolutionized digital entertainment this awesomely (ok — maybe since Halo 3). I bought my copy the night it launched and have already put in over forty hours of play, merely enough to scratch the surface of this diamond in the rough.

For those of you who don’t know, GTAIV was made by Rockstar Games, a company made exclusively of the “who’s who” of game developers. Everything they touch turns to solid gold and the innovation they bring to the table is easily enough to drive dozens of smaller developing studios. I think their true brilliance lies in the fact that they’ve managed to keep all of that innovation from leaking out and diluting their unique IPs. →  Read the rest

Review – Lost: Via Domus

This game is horrible.

I could finish the review there but I think I really need the warped therapy that you can only get by ripping into a game that’s tormented you for a week. Not one aspect of this game is redeemable (except maybe the easy 1000 gamer points — but even then I feel cheap). From inception to execution I can’t believe that Ubisoft Montreal had anything to do with this poor excuse for digital entertainment. On top of that, I can’t believe that ABC and the show’s writers signed off on it. Scratch that; I can totally believe ABC signed off on it. I’m a pretty big fan of Lost, the second season was less-than-stellar but I think the writers really picked it up during the latter half of the third season and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down this year. →  Read the rest

Review – Mass Effect Downloadable Content: Pack #1

Mass Effect is one of the best games I’ve played in recent years. The intricate character development, the beauty of the various worlds, the epic music, the quality voice work … fantastic. I’ve already played through the game twice and I can’t wait for the sequel (which was just made official). So naturally I leapt at the chance to get some filler content with the first DLC pack “Bring Down the Sky”: a 400 point ($5) roughly ninety minute add-on with an additional fifty achievement points thrown in.

Before I get to talking about what I thought went wrong with the pack, I just want to say that I loved playing it as much as the rest of the game. If you were a fan of the original it’s exactly the quality you’d expect from BioWare, but this side quest is given the same cinematic treatment that only the main plot missions had the first time. →  Read the rest

Are you ready to rock? … well you can’t.

Way to go EA / MTV. Way to f up the launch of what should have been your biggest title this Christmas season. Rock Band launched today, or so gamers were told. In reality it seems like there were only a handful of units shipped to retailers with little or no warning about the shortage. The only press release I’ve seen even hinting at production shortages was unearthed yesterday, in which the EA spokesman said that there might be a little supply crunch … until MARCH OF 2008!

Best Buy held midnight launch parties at about two dozen locations across the US and reports are coming in that a large majority of those stores got shipped a paltry number (one store in Kentucky received two PS3 bundles, and that’s it) or no games at all. →  Read the rest

Review – Portal

Portal is a fantastic little game that really compliments Valve’s Orange Box compilation. If it were just a Half-Life collection with Team Fortress thrown in (as it pretty much always was with the PC versions of the franchise) then the Orange Box would still be a steal at $60, but Portal adds some great new game play and some interesting story elements to the Half-Life universe. The only problem I have with the game is that it’s too short, which isn’t the worst problem you could have.

Starting with a tech demo called Narbacular Drop, the student developers at DigiPen caught the attention of the Valve team and it’s easy to see why. I haven’t played an FPS or adventure game in a long time that had me scratching my head like some of the puzzles Portal throws at you. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Previews/Reviews – Week of May 20th

Wii Virtual Console:

Streets of Rage 2 (Genesis): One of my favorite games of all time. So simple, yet so amazingly fun … and a great soundtrack, too. I’m still amazed that they can get music that intricate from a console less powerful than my phone. Same-screen co-op makes this game even more fun with a friend. A no-brainer in my opinion, unless you have that Sega classics disc for the Dreamcast.

The Grand Uppercut … the henchman’s most feared foe.

DK Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest(SNES): I was never a big fan of the DK series (except for the original), so I’ve never really played more than a few minutes of either DK Country games. They looked great for the time, but the gameplay felt a little sloppy to me. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Previews/Reviews – Week of May 14th

Wii Virtual Console:

Ninja Gaiden (NES): Play as Ryu Hayabusa, a ninja warrior who embarks on a quest to avenge his father’s death. A classic, albeit frustrating game. I would hope that unlimited lives are included in this version as dying repeatedly because of wonky wall-jumping mechanics would bring back too many traumatizing memories.

Ninja Spirit (TurboGrafix): Play as Moonlight, a ninja warrior who embarks on a quest to avenge … his father’s … death … wait a minute! So yeah, expect more of the same here but with better graphics.

I pitty the fool who plays Battletoads!

Pac-Man (NES): I don’t think I need to say much about this one.

XBox Live Arcade:

Double Dragon: With new and improved graphics but the same gameplay you know and love. A great game that got a much needed facelift, plus it allows for two players on the same screen or over Live. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Previews/Reviews – Week of April 16th

Wii Virtual Console:

Glass Joe, you were so misunderstood.

Punch Out!! (NES): Not Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, but I actually liked this one better anyway. Quite possibly my favorite NES game of all time. At 500 points, this is a complete no-brainer. Go get this … now. Japan has had this on the VC for about a month and a half now, I wonder what the hold up was? We have it now so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Genesis): The reason I purchased the infamous 32X for the Genesis was for Virtua Fighter 3D and it was well worth the money (at the time). This, sadly, is not the 32X version but the pseudo-3D version for the Genesis. Still fun, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Previews/Reviews – Week of April 9th

Wii Virtual Console:

30000 high score? n00b.

Galaga (NES): I don’t really need to explain this one to the people who would be reading this article. Galaga was an awesome arcade game and the NES conversion was good enough to recommend this purchase to any fan of classic shooters.

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Sega Genesis): A horrible game. I have no idea who is deciding what titles are released for the Genesis, but they should be fired. Seriously … Alex Kidd?!? Before Earthworm Jim, the NHL series, Road Rash, etc.? This game is worthless.

Bravoman (TG16): Another good game for the TurboGraphix this week. Bravoman is a platformer that moved between classic side-scrolling play and pseudo-3D shooting levels (think 3D World Runner for the NES) with some great level design and perspective tricks. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Reviews/Previews

XBox Live Arcade:

This cutscene was awesome when I was younger … it still is.

Luxor 2: I played the first one on my PC and it was quite fun. Pretty much the same game as Zuma but with some added special effects and an Egyptian theme. The new version has almost 90 levels and supports HD 1080i, which is a great deal for the price. Plus, I love when games like this have a plot they want the gamer to care about. “You must save ancient Egypt from the terrible wrath of Set” … by shooting colored balls into a snaking line.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (arcade 1989): I know this one was technically released a couple of weeks ago, but I had to throw it into this list because it’s that good. →  Read the rest

Sony’s “big announcements” at GDC07

I’m really unimpressed with Phil Harrison’s GDC07 presentation. Not one of the announcements made me re-think my choice to not purchase a PS3.

Playstation Home is basically “Second Life” or “There,” and not in any way new or innovative as the press keeps saying. Why would I want to use a $600 console to make an avatar and hang out in an online version of the Sims? And then pay real money for digital clothes and furniture to show off to people I wouldn’t want to talk to anyway? No thanks. This just seems to be Sony’s lame attempt at cashing in on the Web 2.0 market (the MySpace generation). “Hey kids, you can use this boxed computer and internet connection to talk to other people online. Don’t forget to make your avatar your own by giving us some cash for generic yet ad-supported mechandise. →  Read the rest

Review – Super Swing Golf

After playing my first round of Wii Sports golf I couldn’t wait for a developer to make a golf simulator for the system. I’m a huge fan of the Tiger Woods and Links series and an actual real-life golfer and the possibility of getting a solid golf sim on the Wii was quite exciting. Until then, I’ll have to make due with Super Swing Golf.

The primary thing that makes Super Swing Golf practically unplayable is the swing controls. If you’re going to put out a golf sim you’d better made sure your swing mechanics are rock solid. I don’t care that it’s a pseudo-rpg. I don’t care about the cutesy graphics and plot. I don’t care about fantasy courses. I want to swing my Wiimote like a real golf club and get real club-like results. →  Read the rest

Review – Prey

I first heard about Prey in 1998 when sci-fi shooter was announced by 3D Realms as being in production for release on the PC “in the near future.” Apparently the near future is almost ten years later, and the PC they were talking about is the XBox 360 (although it was released for the PC shortly after). Regardless of how much time it’s taken, this game was conceived ten years ago and it shows.

We heard you guys were looking for extras for the new Doom game. What the hell is Prey? Ah, why not.

The gameplay is perfectly straightforward. You run around the levels and shoot aliens, you take their weapons, and then you kill tougher aliens with those new, more powerful weapons. There are four basic armaments (a very small number when compared to other recent shooters) and they are as unimaginative as you can get. →  Read the rest

Review – Advent Rising

This is one of those times I’m sorry I listened to the reviews on a game and passed it up. I had been following Advent Rising mostly because its story was written by Orson Scott Card (author of the Ender’s Game series) and it was originally supposed to be an epic, three-part sci-fi adventure. From the screenshots and scraps of gameplay videos I saw, it looked quite promising.

However, upon its release Advent Rising got anywhere from mediocre to downright insulting reviews. Most complained of crippling bugs and game engine problems, making the game virtually unplayable. Others said the story was boring and then made worse by bad voice acting talent. I have no idea what game these people were playing.

You see this glowing orb of destruction … yeah, not many people can do this.

 →  Read the rest

Review – Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (Wii)

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a great game … just not for the Wii. I originally played it about a month ago on an XBox 360 and was quite impressed, and then I noticed that it was launching with the Wii. Something told me to lay off the knee-jerk purchase and use good ol’ Game Fly once again to test the waters with minimal cost. I sent the game back in four days.

The X-Men: Legends series is fantastic. Four-player (later over XBox Live) superhero, beat-em-up RPG. You just can’t go wrong. I played both versions through about three times trying to level up the thirty-some-odd unlockable characters, loving every minute of it. So when I heard that Marvel was teaming up with the same developer to make a game with over 150 playable superheroes spanning the entire Marvel universe I could barely wait. →  Read the rest

Review – Rampage: Total Destruction (Wii)

Thanks to GameFly, I’m able to get my hands on games like this for a negligible cost, taking some of the sting away. I guess I wasn’t really expecting much from this game but I was still rather disappointed. I enjoyed playing the past iterations of the series… I mean, as much as one can enjoy this type of repetitive game play, and I was looking forward to some sort of innovative control scheme with the Wiimote. Nope.

The Wii functionality was obviously an afterthought, as you can only execute two movements with the motion sensing (a ground smash and a swipe attack). Movement in general was pretty sluggish, and there were times when I could barely get my monster to do anything let alone pull off the unlockable fancy combo moves. →  Read the rest

Laying this generation to rest: Xbox

The Xbox cost Microsoft a lot of money but as far as first entries into the console market go, was pretty successful. Not NES or PlayStation successful, but it sure made the Master System and CDi feel stupid. Microsoft’s machine thrived in Western markets and is seen by some as the hardcore system of choice. Apparently to these people, terrible Japanese support equals hardcore. Still, if you are a fan of FPSs and PC developers console games, the Xbox is an excellent system to own.

What would zombie Jesus do?

Joe –
Ninja Gaiden (Team Ninja/2004) — Told everyone what I’d been trying to say for years. Nintendo may have bought Sega (not literally) but Xbox got most of the games and the teams that made the Dreamcast fly. Ninja Gaiden also did major things for the way we look at arcade games and their interaction with Xbox Live. →  Read the rest

Review – Doom 3

I didn’t understand all of the hype surrounding the release of Doom 3. So the graphics were cutting edge (assuming you wanted to drop $500 to get your memory and graphics card up to snuff), it was still a game based on a series well-known for having repetitious play and no story line whatsoever. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved playing the first Doom games/expansions, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t hold up if played them years later. I found my fears were correct as I tried to play both 1 and 2 off of the “Special Edition” Xbox game that comes with the entire set on one disc. Fun for the nostalgia, not so much for the gameplay. I made it about fifteen minutes in before moving on to the new game. →  Read the rest

Review – BloodRayne 2

A lot of reviewers would start this off by saying BloodRayne 2 “sucked” and then make some lame joke about this being a vampire game and there being a lot of “sucking” going on anyway. Well I think that sucks … and this game blows. If you’re not familiar with titular character you need only watch Uwe Boll’s opus “BloodRayne” to gain absolutely no insight whatsoever into this franchise and probably confuse the hell out of yourself in the process. Now that movie sucked!

Putting aside the cinematic abortion that will forever mar the face of this spotless product line, BloodRayne 2 is one of the most boring games I’ve played in a long, long time. Poor voice acting, horrible dialogue, tedious battles made even worse by a frustrating combat system… this puppy runs the gamut. →  Read the rest