Review – Ninja Gaiden II

Ninja Gaiden 2 is not an earth-shattering masterpiece. As much as the fan in me wants to spout absurd levels of hyperbole that put recent GTA4 and MGS4 reviews to shame, and devote five paragraphs to how this game’s Oscar-worthy story made me regret having even existed before its release date, I feel it’s more relevant to discuss why games like this are so important in the current landscape of the video game industry.

The game represents what I consider to be the “Nintendo Legacy.” Back in the Sega & Nintendo days, games were short. A combination of small development groups, limited resources, and hardware abilities of the time meant that games of the era were around 2-5 hours long.… Read the rest

Review – Call of Duty 2: Big Red One

I have a confession to make. Despite my general crankiness about the game industry, as well as my increasingly picky taste, I have a soft spot for a bane of the industry: World War 2 shooters. Chalk it up to the fact I am a history buff with a desire to compare in-game depictions of certain battles and weaponry to reality. This weakness has led me to play some of the worst Medal of Honor games, as well as to attempt to beat Call of Duty 3 on two different platforms (I finished neither). Finally the genre has provided a diamond in the rough.… Read the rest

Review – Civilization Revolution Demo

As the name might imply, it’s hard to make a full judgment of Civilization Revolution based on the demo for a few reasons. The game is time limited, you can only play on “pussy” or “Jay” mode (we’ll let the readers decide which is worse), both giving you bonuses significant enough that it’s hard to get a flavor for real balance. The Civlopedia isn’t full, so you can’t analyze all the techs without playing countless times, and you are limited to two civilizations. Despite these limitations, what you can do is get a good feeling for how Firaxis dramatically changed the game-style of Civ while still keeping it Civ–a paraphrased sentence you’ve heard over and over again about the game which is an excellent way to open up this review.… Read the rest

Review – Real Soccer 2008

When I first spotted “Real Soccer” in my local game shop, I was initially under the impression that the game’s name was an indication of a metaphysical breakthrough at Ubisoft labs. Sick of titles stuck with the “virtual” nomenclature, Ubisoft had determined – Matrix-like – that they could decide what is and is not real. I mean, what is “reality,” anyway, right? Yeah.

Sadly, however, the title instead betrays the pathetic lack of sports titles for the DS. Not “this is real soccer,” but “omigosh! Honest-to-goodness real soccer on the DS!!” It makes more sense when one appreciates that the title’s name is Real Football in the UK, and there are probably plenty of British dudes who are sick of us calling our decidedly un-foot-centric game by the name of football, but whatever.… Read the rest

Sins of an Innovative Developer

Sins of a Solar Empire is such a complicated game that I felt compelled to write an accompanying editorial with my review. Because Ironclad has tried something new and fresh, there are more than a few kinks to work through. At least in the current infancy of the game, a big issue Ironclad is tackling is whether a developer caters to the larger gamer audience crowd–even if they’re wrong, or the people playing the game the “right” way.

For various reasons, the game is very difficult to learn to play properly. In no particular order, let me throw a few out there:

1.… Read the rest

Review – Sins of a Solar Empire

Real Time Strategy games have been somewhat dormant in the past few years. The big expectation, of course, is that Starcraft 2 will re-energize the genre and spawn another wave of imitators. The 4X genre, on the other hand, has been bolstered by Galactic Civilization 2 and is being “dumbed down” for the widely anticipated Civilization Revolutions, due out in June. Speaking of Civ, Beyond the Sword, while excellent, is horribly buggy and has been heavily neglected and unsupported by Firaxis. Seriously, Firaxis, you guys are sell-out assholes, and I will continue to call you out until you patch BTS properly instead of cashing in on Civ Rev.… Read the rest

The PC gaming industry is broken

Lately there has been a lot of kerfluffle coming out of the Epic Games camp about the superiority of console development over PCs. CliffyB, as much as I usually admire the man, has hinted that PC games are not exactly a top priority for him, and then turns around (with the help of Epic Master-Spinster Mark Rein) to say that they want to help PC gaming bounce back, if it hasn’t already. It is hard to get a good picture of what their stance actually is. After all, it is Rein’s job to say the right things at the right time, and Cliffy is still surprised and high off of his console successes.… Read the rest

Review – Age of Empires: Age of Kings (and Crashing)

I hate to lead with such a petty slam against Age of Empires on the DS, but the fact of the matter is, the game is crash-tastic. I experienced two irritating crashes during campaigns (if you watch animated battles, the game can crash. This is worked around by disabling animated battles, which you will eventually want to do anyway). Another crash came upon completing a particularly long scenario: the screen just went black and never loaded the victory page.

A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir to a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deni’st the least syllable of thy addition.
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The Trouble with Tactics

As I’m sure you can tell by my previous articles, I love RPGs and strategy games. It should follow, then, that I love the Strategy RPG genre. Just like peanut butter and pizza. Although I like some SRPGs, I have some issues with the genre, particularly the Tactical subgenre. By “Tactical”, I mean finer-scale games where you manage each individual taking part in battles.

For example, I started up Shining Force a couple months ago via the wonders of Virtual Console. I began noticing occasional oddities; enemies with low agility would move twice when my high-agility archers never got a move in, for example (Hans was useless anyways).… Read the rest

Tales of Tactility

Remember H.A.L? That evil-genius-space-robot from Clarke/Kubrick’s 2001? It seems like most of the time I hear him mentioned it’s from some miniaturization fetishist from the Church of Jobs (Steve). Something along the lines of “can you believe how big they thought computers would be back in the 60’s?!?!” Nevermind that the ability to create a sentient AI is still far beyond our reach, and that supercomputers still take up entire rooms. Fans of the MacBook Air expect super-intelligent robots to get lost in a container of Tic-Tacs.

But H.A.L’s massiveness underscores a point about machines that gets lost nowadays: that they are composed real objects and are themselves physical as well as intellectual.… Read the rest