Monday, December 28, 2009

Everyone Loves A Sequel

This year has been full of amazing game sequels. And what's even better is that unlike movies, video games tend to improve with each installment. Now looking forward to the upcoming year, there is even more to prepare oneself for. The question is, how prepared are you for your sequel ?

There are some things you should be aware of before you dive into the latest franchise release. You may not want to play the game at all if you haven't played the first or previous game. Video games are becoming more and more story driven. Mass Effect is a game that really is not that special or amazing. There is some shooting and puzzle solving, but the story is phenomenal. Other games have followed suit, so be aware that playing the first game in a series like this is almost essential to enjoy the sequel. Ask a friend (or your friendly blogger) about a certain game if you are unsure.

When it comes to first-person shooters, just go for it. The single player campaigns usually have very weak story lines that are not memorable. You play as any variety of fighter and you kill the bad guys. The only exception to this rule is the Halo series. But don't worry, you can pick up any Halo game and really enjoy the game play without knowing the details of the story. In almost any case, your FPS games can be sifted through without worry. Just point and shoot. Classic fun.

Even if you have played the first or previous game, read up before you buy the sequel. Games designers are beginning to reward their loyal, diehard players with extra bonuses. The best example of this is Mass Effect. If you rank your character up to a level 60, you will have special privileges when Mass Effect 2 comes out as long as you use the same hard drive. This is becoming more common and is a really nice reward for the avid gamer. So if you want out of the ordinary perks, see if there are challenges you can complete the first time around that will help you when you start round two.

If you have already played the sequel but not the first game, be aware, the original may not be as much fun. Let me guess, you enjoy the story, loved the game play and salivated over the graphics. Well, you are now going to experience your very own crap lousy time machine. When sequels come out, they have usually fixed things. Glitches are gone, controls are easier, and the graphics are always better. So do not expect the same experience. The best example of this is Assassin's Creed 1 and 2. I personally played the second game first. It blew my mind and consumed my life. But a buddy of mine warned, the first game will frustrate you. He was right. The jumps and movements of the character were far less fluid. The controls were tricky. The graphics were still good but less impressive. I'm glad I played it, I just wish I had played them in order.

The bottom line is that you should do your research. See what the original game was like if you haven't played it. If you have, get yourself ready and refreshed for round two. And remember, that anytime you go back to the launch game, don't expect the exact same thing. Any game can seem crappy once you have experienced the satisfaction of its newer, upgraded offspring.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Come on baby, light my fire

You need to come light it, because Torchlight certainly didn't.

Ok - in defense of this game I am writing this review after spending only about an hour in play. So I can't exactly review it 100% accurately, but I'll go off of my 2 levels of experience in the Torchlight dungeons. There is a free demo, so if you are interested I encourage you to download and play it.

Story: 6/10 ZOMG There is evil afoot! As far as I can tell, there are bad guys overrunning the dungeons/mines/caves which hold a magical element that the people of the town of Torchlight make their living off of. This story has definitely never been done in an RPG. It's a good story line, just way...WAY...way over done. "Evil bubbles up from the depths and threatens to overrun this town as it has so many others. The heart of a villain has infused the Ember, and his darkness seeps through the veins. To survive, the townspeople must break the cycle of destruction; they need a champion who can destroy the evil at its root." (from the "About" section of the Torchlight website)

Graphics: 6/10 Again I feel like I keep having to defend this game because of my own faults, but I am not sure that my computer is up to speed? Maybe the graphics really just weren't that great. They seemed really blocky to me.One kind of neat thing was that you can see the outline of bad guys through walls, and they have kind of a 3D-outline-esque look to them. This is a much appreciated addition to the game because of the stuck camera angle and the many, many walls of the dungeons (all basically linked hallways). If it weren't for this feature, I assume you would be getting constantly pwned by baddies you didn't even know existed.
The settings are really well executed. The mines have great textural elements, and the pathways are clearly marked. There's not much getting lost in this game. The map overlays on the center of your screen but it is not distracting. The photo above shows your key items menu and HP/MP meters. It's all very clear. Good thing - because there's basically zilch as far as tutorial. "Click to move. Hit tab to change your spell. Good luck!"

Sound: uhhh/10 I honestly can't remember if there's music. Obviously it's not annoying enough that it stuck with me, just pleasant background noise. The bad guys yell and make a general ruckus when you're slicing through them. There's voice acting for the spoken parts (which you can still click through if you read faster than they say it - love that!)

Gameplay: 4/10 I despised the controls for this game. It's click to move, click to pick up items, click to talk to on Amazon to buy a new mouse when you've played this game for more than 2 hours and your buttons are worn off. I desperately wanted to move my character with the keyboard and click to attack. The attacks are ridiculous though -- you just click click click. I felt like I was going insane. If a horde of baddies attacks it's just madness, and then I kept missing loot because you have to click on each item. Even when you open trunks. Very strange, if you ask me. I prefer the method where you click on the fallen enemy/trunk and a window pops up with the inventory.
Also character creation is extremely lacking. There are 3 classes: warrior, mage, archer. You do not get to customize your character in any way, other than to choose the class & if they have a dog or a cat as a pet. Sad! If you want to play as a girl, you're stuck as an archer. I played as a warrior. He was ok. I named him "Inigo."
When I was done playing through the dungeons I could not for the life of me figure out how to save and quit, so I just quit. I'm not sure if I log back in if I'll have to go back and replay everything I already did or if it auto-saves or what. Like I said, there is nothing as far as tutorial other than little quips on the loading screens. The help screen wasn't even very helpful. Oh well -- If I log back on and I have to replay what I've already done then I'll probably just uninstall.

Overall: 5/10 This is just an average game for me. It's got some high points, it's got some low. I am having the world's biggest brain fart, because I can't remember what game I used to play on console that this is exactly a rip of off (but the one I played was multiplayer..) but I'd just rather play that, to be honest. Admittedly I'm not much of a PC gamer, but it's all that darn clicking.

Buy/Rent: Download the demo if you're into the RPG Dungeon style games. It's definitely a game you could lose a lot of hours in. I recommended it to my husband, as he enjoys these type of games. If you like the demo, $20 for a game isn't much money at all. I wish I could tell you how many hours of gameplay you'll get out of your money, but I just didn't get that far. It was about an hour or so for me to start up and get through two levels of dungeon, so I would assume that it's going to offer quite a bit of gameplay. Also replayability as you can have a character of each class. Try it for yourself - let me know what you think!

And many thanks to my friend Jer for sending me the download of Torchlight. When I am hopelessly addicted to this game, despite my finding it sub-par, I will blame you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Idiot's Guide to First Person Shooters

Playing a First Person Shooter (FPS) video game can be intimidating. When I first started gaming, I played almost exclusively RPGs and Strategy. But now that I'm all grown up, I have strapped on my big girl guns and taken on the world of Call of Duty. I've played with a lot a people from numerous countries and here are some of the tips and tricks that I picked up over the years. Had I known them in the beginning, I would probably be a much better player now. They are simple but obvious. Hopefully they help your game as much as they help mine.

1) Know your maps. Does it ever seem like people are just jumping out of nowhere and shooting you down ? It's because they know their surroundings. Take five minutes in a private lobby to run around the maps. Find stairwells, alleys, windows, sniping locations, and just the general feel of the map. You will know where to go take the defense or where they might be coming to prevent their offense. Even if you have something as simple as a random spawn point, it will be that much easier to find where you are at and get moving again.

2) If you can't find a safe spot, make your own. Getting spawn killed ? Drop a smoke grenade as soon as you respawn. You may die throwing it down, but at least the teammates behind you will have some cover to get out and find the player keeping you pinned down. Need to reload or deploy a time-consuming weapon ? Find a nice, covering bush or tall grass and go prone. Crouching in an obvious corner might be, well, obvious. They know you are hiding to control that AC-130 gunship, they are going to come and find you.

3) Reload, Reload, Reload. I cannot stress this one enough. So many times I have been spectating someone going in for an easy kill, but they forget to reload first. They go to shoot them in the back but only have three bullets left in the clip which isn't enough to kill the enemy. Problem is, while they reload, the enemy now knows where they are and are going to turn around and get the kill. Reload as often as you safely can. Safely. If you are in the middle of gunfire and your clip empties, do a quick drop to prone to finish loading your gun, pop back up and keep on gunnin'.

4) To aim or not to aim. Taking the time to pull up your gun and shoot down the sights will definitely increase your accuracy. Some maps are big and will allow you tons of time to get a shot off. But some maps have much tighter spaces and this is where your Close Quarters Combat (CQC) or "run 'n' gun" come in handy. Shooting without aiming can have its pros and cons. Shooting from the hip is much faster. You are far more likely to shoot first if you don't take the time to look down your sights. However, your accuracy is going to plummet. It's the spray and pray method. But overtime you can become more accurate with hip fire and greatly improve your game.

5) Know your weapons. If the map you are playing on is the size of three football fields, dont bring a shotgun. And it probably wont help to bring a sniper rifle into a tiny warehouse. If its a big map, carry a weapon that will succeed with some distance. If you can carry two guns, make one a ranged weapon and the second a pistol or something for up close. If it is a very small map, maybe an automatic weapon that has a high damage rating or even break out a shotty. And no matter what, dont forget to knife ! Sure it may be funny to shoot someone in the back of the skull, but once you take the shot you have given away your position to other players. Knives also come in handy when you are out of bullets or your running around in circles with them.

So those were just a few tips. They can be applied to almost an FPS game. I may do a section later with even more ridiculously obvious tips. But for now, this should be enough to get any player started on their road to FPS glory.

Monday, October 26, 2009

At night I dream about pegs...

Peggle. The new Tetris? Never did I think that such a simple game, bought on a whim for 800 xbox points to play one night with friends online would take over my life.

Story 2/10: Not that the story sucks, just that it's a puzzle game. Does it really need a story? I guess in the Adventure mode you go through each of the Peggle Masters and learn their tricks... That is kind of like a story, right? If we're going to continue the Tetris comparison then it must be said that Tetris would get a 0/10 on story, and that is still an amazing game.

Graphics 8/10: The graphics are simple. I mean, you're shooting a ball at a bunch of colored bricks and pegs. What more could you ask for? You could ask for nothing more, but Peggle will give you something without you asking, because it loves you and takes care of you. Peggle will give you really funny backgrounds to the levels. And Peggle will give you a loading screen that, despite the fact that I've loaded this game 3023598 times in the last 2 or 3 weeks, still makes me laugh. Loading blinking lights? Loading zen masters? Comedy! PS - The photo below is probably one of my top 3 least favorite levels. I hate it so much.

Sound 9/10: It's repetitive music. When isn't it with a puzzle game? The reason this game gets 9 out of 10 is because the music on the level-choosing screen makes my 2-year-old totally wig out. She gets down with her bad self in a way no other music can make her. I need to download the song and make it my ring tone or something, because she loves it that much. All of the other gameplay songs are okay, they don't get annoying.
My only complaint? When you hit the pegs, there is a series of sounds that ascend in tone based on the number of pegs you hit. When you hit a blue peg it is not worth as many points as an orange peg, but the sound quality is the same. This might be hard to explain without you having played this game, but really you should be playing it anyways. So back to my point: when you hit enough pegs, you earn 25,000 points and you get a free ball. To me the sound of pegs you hit should be associated with the points, not the number of pegs...because when you hit mostly blue pegs you still get the high pitched sound, but you don't get a free ball because you only earned, say, 3,000 points. This makes me sad, because a high pitched noise is exciting and should always equal a free ball.

Gameplay 9/10: Simple is key here. And the amazing thing? You really do get better with practice. Somehow I think this game is stimulating the math cortex of my brain, because it's all about the angles. The problem is that I'm not great with math, and I can't believe how unbelievable the angle-issues can be (at least for me).
One nice gameplay feature is the modes. There is Adventure, Quick Play, Master Duel, and Challenge. You have to play through Adventure to unlock all the characters and the Challenge mode, but it is really fun and totally worth playing through over and over. I've spent some time in Quick Play, where you can just choose any level and play it, but most of my time since defeating Adventure has been spent on Challenge mode. You get all the levels with different and interesting objectives. Tetris comparison: totally fun, totally addictive game, right? So is Peggle, but with the added benefit of totally pissing me off sometimes. Like seriously? I get so mad when I can't beat a level. I was playing a challenge where I had to defeat a master on the hardest difficulty (at least I hope it was the hardest difficulty) and I was getting so irritated that my husband almost forced me to turn off the game. Almost. He didn't, and for that he lives another day. I'm just saying - for being such a simple game, it certainly has my attention (both good and bad). It is so addictive. It's like I can't stop playing it until I defeat all aspects of it. And this is not going to happen any time in the near future because really, 750,000 points on one level? I can not figure that out.

Overall 9/10: This game is so fun. You can pick it up and play it for 10 minutes or you can lose a few hours to beating Challenges and increasing your skill and top score.

Buy/Rent: Buy it. It is beyond worth 800 Xbox points (roughly $10.) You can get on and download the trial which gives you a really great example of how fun the game is. In fact, we here at my house played the trial for about a month, and fairly often, before I finally caved and bought the full game. It is worth owning though because of all the stuff you unlock with the full game (Challenges, etc.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scene It! Box Office Smash

Most of my real life friends don't play video games. I don't understand why and I probably never will. I set out on a quest to find a game that all my friends could play. I wanted something that didn't require much skill but was fun for everyone involved. Thank God for Scene It! Box Office Smash.

Story: There isn't one. You play this game as a team or individual. Its trivia based activities in the form of a variety of minigames, which is nice. No one wants just straight up trivia question. There is the short play (15-20 minutes) or the long play (30-45) options.

Graphics: 10/10 The graphics of each minigame is appropriate. The games that show pictures, sketches, and 8-bit pixilation are pretty fun. Actually movie clips are shown often so you get to see some classic scenes in HD. Plus, you play as your Xbox avatar. So you will dig watching your character flip out at the end of each round. I never knew my likeness could jump so high.

Sound: 7/10 Of course, there is a commentator or presenter for the entire game. His one-liners and quips are actually pretty funny ... in the beginning. But with each round you play, the comments seem longer and more annoying. There is the option to turn down the voice or even possibly off. But overall, he's really not that bad, just repetitive.

Gameplay: 9/10 The game is fun. It moves along pretty quickly so you don't get too tired of any one type of minigame. The categories vary quite a bit so that all different ages can enjoy. There are categories for horror movies, westerns, comedies, Academy-award winners, different decades, and loads more. I'm a total movie buff so I pretty much dominated, but my less movie-savvy friends still had a good time when they came across categories they loved. The fun part is the game has excellent replay value. With constant updates, the game never really becomes outdated. There is always trivia from the newest movies and actors.

Overall: 8/10 I thought it was fun. Its a great party game. I deducted a bit for a couple reasons. One is that it's a movie based game. If one person or one team is amazing at movies, there is a good chance that someone is going to feel bored or not have fun because they are getting dominated. There are clearly more questions about more recent movies as opposed to older ones. So if I were to play with my family, I would probably wipe out the older generation and they might not have a good time. You can also play this game solo. However, if you aren't a cinema buff, the game probably won't entertain you for that long when playing alone. But if everyone is relaxed and ready to have a good time, it really is a great party game and one that is appropriate for most ages.
Buy/Rent : This one is a BUY ! It has great replay value and it won't outdate itself anytime soon. You can play alone or with as many people as you want. And for the simple reason that I love movies, I think it is in your best interest to own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Although I have not reviewed it, I have played an thoroughly enjoyed Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Now I've gotten through maybe half of Diabolical Box and thought I'd give it a shout out. (Yes I should've gotten through more before reviewing, but it's like this: my 2 year old discovered the DS. I rarely get to play now.)

Story 8.5/10: It's not incredibly creative - a strange antique/relic causes mystery and a gentleman detective and his young assistant have to figure out the mystery... Hmm. But it is really fun and catchy, and the Layton games do a great job of expanding the story line through dynamic characters and interesting settings. I really enjoy playing this game and moving the story line along, because it does keep me curious about what I will find in the next room over. Will it be a hilarious character, like a fat lady who thinks her dog is her child? Or an ex-rocker-type who is now a train conductor? The world may never know...but I will as soon as I hit that precious little foot and walk through that door!

Graphics 9/10: I wanted to give it 10/10...well actually I wanted to give it 10,000/10 because I seriously love the art style of this game. I find Professor Layton & all the characters to be so adorably drawn, and the style of the environment around them is really awesome. I feel like I could print screen shots of this game and frame them as art around my home. The only reason I didn't give it the full 10 is because it's all kind of still frame - there's not really any animated action except the cut scenes which, for the DS at least, are really great quality. It's not even that I want it to be action, because I think that would take away from the artistic side of this game. I guess, after all this, it really should've just gotten that 10.

Sound 8/10: The background music for this game is charming, albeit slightly repetitive. And I'd have to put in "Curious Village" again to make sure, but the music might even be the same? (Probably not, probably just the same people creating the sounds.) I wish that we could mix it up. Perhaps let the player unlock different background songs that you can choose from? I do like the voice acting for this game, but I am always wayyyyy too impatient to sit there and actually listen. I'm totally a "Wow I like this voice acting but I am so going to read the closed captions and move on asap" kind of girl.

Gameplay 8.75/10: Again, I'm dinging this one just a little tiny bit because it is still frame and you just click around to move in the environments. This is kind of handy if you're not all that video-game oriented and you don't want to have to direct your character around, but for me it gets a little tedious and I feel like I am just sitting there clicking arrows instead of really immersing into the game. Also, finding the hidden "clue coins" by clicking all over the place? Really fun but also it has its moments where you just want to scream. Clearly I didn't mean to click on that same suitcase three times and hear Luke say, "Wow the Professor knows how to pack neater than anyone else I know!" I don't want to do that. I want to click on the couch cushion and find that darn hidden coin that I just know must be under there.
The puzzle play is fun as always. If you have played "Curious Village" then you know exactly what you're getting into.

Overall 9/10: This game is really amusing, and a great way to pass the time. It's also nice because you can put into it as much time in a sitting as you would want. Have 10 minutes to kill? Get on and play a couple puzzles. Want to lose an hour or more? Get into it and really progress the story line. Like I said, if you played "Curios Village" then you will know exactly, and I mean exactly what to expect with this game. It is very similar in storyline, and exactly the same in gameplay. Just new puzzles. And, thus far, I actually think the puzzles are easier than they were in "Village". Granted, they seem to get more difficult as you move forward in the game, but I specifically recall being a lot more frustrated early on in "Village." I think that this is a ding for "Box" because, well, I like a challenge. Don't get me wrong - I have definitely had some head scratchers and used up a few of my hint coins...just not as many this time as before. But man, I can not resist these early math class puzzles. They are so fun!

Buy/Rent: You know me..I always say Buy - haha. But really I think that the Layton games have a certain amount of replayability. There are quite a few puzzles that have solutions that you can improve your score, and, if you're like me, you could play this game and finish it, then play it again 6 months later and not remember any of the solutions. Oh, recycled joy! DS games are cheap though, and if you buy it you can just play this game at your own pace not have to worry about renting and returning. Do yourself a favor, pick this one up. It's way more fun than Brain Age.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thoughts While Rocking

I was playing Guitar Hero World Tour and had the following thoughts:

- Is this game fun enough for me to deal with the eventual carpal tunnel (and explaining that I didn't get it at a respectable, secretarial job?)

- Why are so many of these songs featured on car commercials?

- Why did I listen to so much of this weird angry rock when I was in high school?

- Did I just have a seizure? Can I turn off the insanity behind the scrolling notes? Good-ness! I can't focus here! Yes.. Yes I think I did just have a seizure.

- Orange! You are my nemesis!

- Wow it's been a really long time since I've played a game with...well...a plot.

But music games are so fun. I can't resist them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fab For You!

It's almost like a dream come true: The Beatles Rock Band? How could a girl ask for more? (Also a new post - and one that is relevant bc it's a fairly new game?? It's like Christmas around here!)

Story 10/10: The story is awesome, because it follows The Beatles career. The songs are split up into sections of their years together. There are also a lot of unlockables that give you more of The Beatles story, like pictures and video. I particularly like the sound clips on the loading screens that have previously been unreleased. It's like I'm finally a fly on the wall in the studio. I just...I'm all emotional about this game because I really do love The Beatles that much.

Graphics 9/10: The graphics are so awesome. I love the animation in the cutscenes and the way they put pictures together with crazy colors and swoops to intro the new locations in the career. Also the video that plays when you're playing a song is so cool. The characters REALLY look like The Fab Four! It's obvious that a lot of time was spent perfecting this game. My only complaint? Ok, I have two. 1) When you're playing, you can't really watch the videos! And I want to watch them! 2) Sometimes (mainly in the trippy, Sgt. Pepper years) the action behind the notes is so crazy that I felt like I might have a seizure and/or be unable to 5-star the song. Equally traumatic.

Sound 10/10: The songs are remastered and sound amazing. The only problem? The potential for people to completely butcher the music!! I feel like I'm making John Lennon cry whenever I miss a note. I haven't even braved singing yet. I just...can't bring myself to screw it up. It sounds too pretty now.

Gameplay 10/10: If you like Rock Band, you'll like this game. It's your generic music game. I played on medium difficulty for my first run through on the guitar, and kind of think that some of the songs are more difficult. I point the finger at The Beatles' awesomeness and clearly the songs would be more difficult than other music games. I have yet to try out the drums but I think they have the potential to be difficult. Ringo is a King on those drums (lol). One nice thing is that when you start a song there is a rating system that shows how difficult each different instrument would be. Sometimes the guitar would be 2 blocks out of 5 on medium, sometimes it would be all 5. It's nice to have that extra information going into the game.

Overall 10/10: That's right, I'm giving this the 10. At first I was afraid because I thought that the gameplay would be lacking (the song list is shorter than other Rock Band/Guitar Hero games). And I was afraid of what they would do to my darlings...but I think that they remained true to The Beatles and their legacy. And I like the idea that I read in GameInformer -- this game has the potential to bring people together. People who never thought they could have the ability to use this game to train themselves to sing harmonies with their friends, and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it. I'm so glad that this game exists.

Buy/Rent: Buy it. You're going to want to replay it, perfect it, enjoy it with all your friends.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I am inspired to publish a post more often than the twice-a-millenia I've become known for. But I am not sure how to accomplish this because I can only play so many games, making it exceedingly hard to review new games consistently. How about some feedback, three loyal readers? ;) Do you hate it when I review old games? Do you want more of my opinions about sweet upcoming games? Do you want me to shove the game stuff and talk about my adorable daughter and chihuahua?

The world is our oyster!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Found Out the Secret to Monkey Island

The secret to Monkey Island? TEDIUM

Story 7/10: The story is pretty weak, the climax is weaker, and the ending is crap. In defense of SMI (Secret of Monkey Island), it was written and created in 1990.
"The game was originally released on floppy disk in 1990 for Atari ST, Macintosh and PC systems (using EGA graphics)." (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Maybe people expected a lot less back then? Also I guess a floppy could hold like, 10 lines of a word document and then it was full. Doesn't leave a lot of space for the storyline. And I respect their desire to maintain the integrity of the game rather than pump it full of the awesomeness we know now. Like character development.

Graphics 9/10: The graphics functions made this game really fun. You can switch back and forth between the old school 8-bit and the funky fresh restyled graphics. I love that they maintained the original feel of playing a platform game though, even with the 3d look of the new graphics. Although I never played the original SMI, I feel like they maintained the original feel/concept.

Sound 8/10: This music isn't going to win any awards, but I get the feeling it was only slightly retouched from the original and then moved into the new game. Although I fully expected it to, it did not annoy me! Apparently I love island tunes more than I knew. Also I really enjoyed the voice acting in this game. The main character sounds like a total tool, and he's supposed to. My only problem? No option that I could find for captions and sometimes it was really hard to hear/understand. Well, there is always the option to go into the 8-bit graphics which don't have the voice over and they have captioned speaking, but ... well ... I guess I just like the new graphics.

Gameplay 6/10: Remember that time I said that it was so tedious? I am going to repeat that a few times so you know how I felt over the last 5 1/2 hours. TEDIOUS TEDIOUS TEDIOUS. I was pretty excited to play a 'mystery' style game...but man. Going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth (getting the tedium yet??) got SO ANNOYING. Mostly because Guybrush Threewood (the main character) moves achingly slow. Also, and this might just be me, but I had SUCH a hard time figuring out what to do. Sometimes the connections in this game just were not clicking for me. I would have all these items in my inventory and be wondering, "What next?" Then give in and use a hint and it would be like "Go talk to that dude over there and give him something" and I'd wonder, "Who the hell would've ever guessed to do that?!?" This is definitely the kind of game I do not have the patience for, but my husband would excel at. (He has no problem spending hours in a game searching every nook and cranny. See: YEARS spent playing Fallout 3.)

Overall 6/10: This isn't really that fun. I mean, I played it through...but I'm not looking forward to going back and playing it again to get the last 75 achievement points I am missing. Maybe it would mean more to you if you spent hours of your precious 1990 childhood chilling on your old Apple figuring out why Guybrush was such a man-gina...but for me? Not the most thrilling. In fact, I'm a little irritated at GameInformer for making it sound so cool.

Buy/Rent: If you could, this is definitely a renter. I finished it in about 5 1/2 hours. But since it's Xbox Live Arcade, you have to buy if you want to fly. Really when you think about it, it's only about $10 for a lot of hours of entertainment. More than you get for $10 at a movie. Or eating McDonald's one and a half times. I don't know...if you like adventure/mystery games, and you're totally bored some weekend, and have 800 Xbox points just lying around...go for it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Legos have been fun since I was 4

I am notorious for not finishing a game before reviewing, but for Lego Batman I can't really even begin to review. I have played part of it before but just picked it up today at GameStop for $20, which is awesome. They are running a special and I was happy to fill in my Lego game collection. I have played and plan to review Star Wars The Complete Saga & Indiana Jones, just haven't gotten there yet.

Anyways, Lego Batman, cheap at a store near you! I can't decide if it's cheap because they want to push it or because it is sucky and they're like "crap get this off our shelves." In my opinion it is not the most fun Lego game, that title is strictly in the hands of Star Wars The Complete Saga. It is so amazing and fun. Indy was fun too, but I am less a fan of Indiana Jones so I don't know how much that swayed me. Batman is least fun so far, because I think that it is kind of hard to maneuver the "menus" (batcave/asylum) compared to the school or the cantinas from the other two games.

Also, Star Wars had a leg up on these two because there is such a variety of characters. You can choose between 6-ish characters that do the same needed attack, instead of one character who can do the attack in 6-ish different outfits. It is much more fun to choose your favorite Jedi than it is to choose your favorite outfit.

I feel slightly less attached to Batman because I thought it would be based on the movies but it is based on the comics. Not that I wouldn't love to read the comics, I just never have, and I am less familiar with them. Although as I become more and more nerdy, and do more comic-based research, I am lead to wonder how on Earth Harley Quinn has not been in a Batman movie? That chick is amazing!! In defense of Batman, I also had not seen and am not really that fond of the Indiana Jones movies, so ... well .. I guess Star Wars has the unfair advantage. (Not unfair really, Star Wars just rules.)

Basically to sum up the reason I wrote this post:
1 - I am back from not posting. We had family here and I was unable to spend my quality time with the interwebs.

2 - I found myself fantasizing about Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 this morning. Basically I love the Lego franchise and think it is so fun. And Lego HP will probably be the ultimate for me. I can't wait to play for the Wizard's Cup. Or -OMG- QUIDDITCH@?!? Seriously!?

Friday, June 5, 2009

What Can E3 Do for You?

I regret not being at E3. It would just be so fun. I've never really considered going in the past, it has been like a dream mecca, attainable only if y0u are very very good. But this year it was heavily in my mind. I couldn't even watch the live footage on G4 though because of the move. So I'm relying on a different blog to tell me what all was announced and now I want to talk about some of those announcements.

Link to blog where I found a list of games is here. Thank you, ivory_soul. For some reason I couldn't find any specifically E3 related press releases etc. Probably because I didn't try very hard. (Update - I got on E3's site and it is hard as crap to compile a list of everything that released just to do this blog. So I now am that much more grateful to ivory_soul.)

Xbox 360
Sept. 22 '09 -- Halo 3: ODST - Clearly Xbox only releases are going to be ruled by Halo. It is amazing, and we need more. I need something to jump-start my love for Halo again.
Q4 '10 -- Halo Reach

Sept. 29 '09 -- Dead Space: Extraction - I have never played Dead Space but I was just told by a friend that it is super fun and terrifying. I don't know how I feel about this being a Wii title though. Did I miss one releasing as a multi-platform perhaps?
Q4 '09 -- New Super Mario Bros. - Hello? If you're not excited for this you should go take your pulse because I think you are dead.
TBA -- Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Galaxy 1 made my top 3! Obviously I am totally psyched about further exploring the galaxies with my best red-hatted & mustachioed buddy.
TBA -- A Boy and His Blob - This game was so fun on the NES and it was ridiculous and I don't really know anyone who understood it enough to play it. Hopefully a Wii release will be slightly clearer and therefore even more fun!

Sept. 29 '09 -- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - Okay I have to admit something - I've never played Kingdom Hearts. But I have heard it is awesome and I'd love to give this DS title a run.
TBA '09 -- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - I haven't read anything about this but a Mario & Luigi title gets my attention.
TBA -- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - Same here, Zelda on the DS is super fun.

PS3 (which I don't even own..yet)
TBA -- Fat Princess - I read about this title in Game Informer and it sounds so fun and silly. You steal a princess then feed her cake so that her people can't come and steal her back. Hilarious!
TBA -- LittleBigPlanet 2 - Because I don't own a PS3 I haven't played LBP 1 but I have read and heard amazing things, so I am psyched that they are releasing a 2nd. Idk what it would have, since I've been lead to understand a lot of the content of LBP 1 is user made? I guess just more levels designed by real people who get paid

Multi-Platform (platform of choice for me? Xbox)
Jun. 16 '09 -- Ghostbusters - What person in their 20-30's didn't totally love Ghostbusters as a kid? From what I've read this game is really spot on, the original Ghostbusters even voice the characters. So fun!
Jun. 23 '09 -- Overlord II - I've played the demo of Overlord 1 and it was ridiculously humourous. I would definitely play II, maybe even without picking up the full first game. Or maybe now that the 2nd is coming out I'll get the first for cheap. Who knows.
Jun. 23 '09 -- Fallout 3: Point Lookout - I've watched so much Fallout 3 being played that I could easily review it, so I'm excited for more content for the game but mostly just for my husband who, I'm pretty sure, wishes he lived in the Wasteland.
Aug. 4 '09 -- Wolfenstein - This is along the same lines as Ghostbusters. Who didn't play Wolfenstein for hours and hours as a kid? Who doesn't want to play it now in amazing graphics?
Sept. 1 '09 -- Guitar Hero 5 - Seriuosly I love Guitar Hero. It's like the Now of video games. we'll all be playing Guitar Hero 32 and saying "wow I owned Guitar Hero 1."
Sept. 9 '09 -- Rock Band: Beatles - I am beyond psyched for this. Who doesn't want to pretend to be the Beatles?!
Oct. 13 '09 -- Brutal Legend - I've been watching this game grow in articles and man it looks so fun. Not only is the main character voiced by Jack Black, but he is also his likeness (kind of), and the premise of the game is blood spilling on his amazing belt buckle and sucking him into some kind of alternate dimension of ROCK. Ahh!
Oct. 16 '09 -- Where the Wild Things Are - I've read nothing about this and assume it will suck as most game-made-from-movie titles do, but the book is so cool. There is real potential.
Nov. 3 '09 -- BioShock 2 - Man this is like a catharsis for me, because I am yet again admitting to not having played BioShock 1 even though I have been told it is so awesome. I want to play it before I play 2, as 2 is the storyline continuation.
Nov. 10 '09 -- Modern Warfare 2 - I've read some on this, but mostly am excited for it because a lot of my gaming friends are thinking it will take over in our lives as the "new Halo". We'll see.
Q4 '10 -- Dante's Inferno - I love literature. I love video games. This is like heaven - but it's hell! Ha irony. I am so excited to play this game. The articles I've read on it make it look amazing and so fun. I've never played God of War but I guess it would play something like that? All I know is they're sticking pretty true to the actual Inferno which is awesome.
TBA '10 -- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 - Oh man I love HP so much and I love the Lego games so much. Again, did E3 find and read my personal "this would be a perfect video game" journal??
TBA '10 -- Final Fantasy XIII - I love the Final Fantasy games and I'm excited that I'll be able to play this one on the Xbox.

Obviously there are more I'm excited about, but these are the ones that are really pushing my buttons at this particular moment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This one's a toughie..

A good friend posed the question, "What are your top 3 games? Two separate lists, single player & multi?"

This has turned out to be an incredibly hard question! I mean, when you have played like a billion games it's hard to narrow it down. Also I wanted to have list up list -- top 3 single old gen consoles, top 3 single handheld, top 3 multi pc.... I mean, you could list and list and list and, eventually, list everything you've ever played. I don't think this is quite the idea behind the question.

So I ended up with (in no particular order) --

1. Mario Galaxy is the most fun, cleanest 3D entry in the Mario lineup. And I think the open games are more fun than the platformers for a long-term relationship. Yes, I still go back to Super Mario Bros and love running from left to right with a few well timed jumps, but I can spend hours and hours lost in the worlds of Galaxy.
2. Harvest Moon (series) Again, a game where I have lost many an hour. It is so surprisingly fun to tend a virtual farm. Raise virtual farm animals. Spend virtual days watering your huge fields. Finally - harvest time. Ahh, 3 bushels of apples. It was worth it.
3. Final Fantasy VII - Honestly FF7 is one of the first games I really got into when I started gaming again around my sophomore year in high school. And it is a big one! I mean, who doesn't have fond memories of FF7? If you just answered "I don't" then get yourself a copy and play right now. It will make you so addicted to RPG you will never let it go.

1. Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl - Oh man, the game that made me buy a Gamecube. Melee - I played and played you on that fateful game filled trip to Colorado so long ago. And your little brother, Brawl? So much fun. Melee wins out on true multi-player prowess, but Brawl had to put its foot in because it offered so much single player fun. Yes I know that doesn't make it a contender in multi, but it is basically the same game, so it deserves to be here.
2. Halo 3 - The game that made me love the 360? The game that thousands of people are logged in to every single night? At this moment, 1:04 am on a Wednesday morning, there are 93,273 people logged in. There is a certain level of commitment you feel with this game. First you learn to play. Then you have to get all the skulls, and assorted achievements. Then you have to hone your skills so that you can pwn p00bz forevahhhhh online. This game is hugely the reason I had to buy my Xbox Live account. I love it.
3. Mario Party (series) - What happened in college? I became Queen of 30 second mini-games, thanks fully to Mario Party. It all started with Mario Party 4 which a boyfriend-at-the-time and I rented and only played for about 20 minutes before the fire alarm went off! Blasted dorm rooms. But it was love at first rapid-A-button-tap. I still don't own Mario Party 4, it has been my elusive lover, refusing to be pinned down...but I have voraciously purchased 5, 6, 7, and 8. This game is amazing. If you have friends over, it is perfect. You look especially ridiculous playing this on the Wii, which makes it extra fun.

What's your list?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grand Theft Auto IV

Another delicious taste of pure anarchy from the Grand Theft Auto lineup. And what can I say? IV delivers. Although, in my opinion (which you obviously want because - hello - you're reading my blog), this game is freaking hard. Not necessarily the concepts. Maybe just the controls?

Story 9/10: Niky, Niky... If you can play this game and not fall for Niko Bellic, I just don't know. You must be made out of steel. I love the story-line and how it progresses with Niko. You are constantly finding out just tidbits abou this life before he came to America. And everything you find out emotionally ties you to him as a character/person. Actually, I cared so much for Niko that it made me angry that I didn't have more options to be a "good guy". I wished GTA & Fable would have a little game baby where I could cause mayhem but maybe also be good. Niko wanted to come to America for a fresh start, and here I am with my Xbox just making him shoot drug dealers all day long. I guess, in a way, he's doing good for society?

Graphics 9/10: The graphics on this one are solid. I mean, there is a LOT going on in this game and I think that it is all handled well and with great detail. I love the chance to change Niko's clothes (although I wish there were even more options). The detail and damage system for the cars/motorcycles/boats/helicopters etcetc is great. Also - non-graphic related - I think the cars last longer in this GTA than they have in previous versions. Longer lasting car = more mayhem = more fun! The cutscenes are fun to watch, and play out kind of like a movie. This whole game is like watching a Scorsese film, actually.

Sound 10/10: I'm sorry, but I have to do it. I have to give GTA the 10. Most of the time in this game you are in a car. And what does GTA offer in the car? Your choice of TONS of radio stations. It is so sweet. I prefer Liberty City Rock, although the talk radio station is good for a laugh. I also enjoy the voice-overs in this game. Although I have to play with closed-caption on because half the people are so heavily accented I can't understand them. Believeable, but CC is a requirement.

Gameplay 7.5/10: Okay this is where I ding you, GTA4. I love you and all, but seriously? Could driving a car be any more difficult? And then trying to shoot and drive?? It's like punishment. And there are a LOT of missions where you have to shoot someone and follow them in your car at the same time. I feel like I need a second player to do one or the other because I just can't seem to do it. I'm failing missions left and right on this thing. The race missions? Forget about it. I don't know HOW you get going fast and take a turn without totally losing it (if you know, please please comment I need to pass some of these races!!). The walking around and shooting is pretty concise though, and with practice I've gotten sort-of-fairly decent. I'm not exceptionally good at this style of game, so I don't expect to excel. I don't expect to struggle like crazy either.

Overall 9/10: This game is awesome. It is fun. The map is unbelieveably gigantic. The options are so vast it's close to limitless. One bummer? All I heard was the hype for this game - it's going to be so huge, they actually used NYC blueprints to create the game, etcetc. Well, I'm bummed that I can't go into more buildings. Unless it's part of the current mission you're playing you are pretty limited. There are maybe 5 or 6 shops/bars/restuarants you can go into on each island, and they are mostly repetitive from island to island. It's just kind of a bummer. If you go to all the work of making the game look like a real place, how about treating it more like a real place? Open up a few more buildings for us to explore.

Buy/Rent: As always, I am far from finishing this game at time of review, but it plays a lot like any other GTA I've played. And that means Buy. There is never a time when it isn't fun to throw this game in and tear some shiz up. You can tear around town in a sports car, or a semi-truck, or any other myriad of vehicles. Your choice! And with guns! Go now and buy buy buy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fable II & Knothole Island DLC

Fable Fable Fable.... I loved thee on Xbox, and I loved thee, perhaps even more dearly, on Xbox 360. Actually a lot more dearly, because I finished Fable II but never got around to finishing Fable I. Oops. Also, wow! A game review of something non-Nintendo! Enjoy.

Story 7/10: Set 500 years (give or take) after Fable 1, and I really like how they tied the two together. You are a distant relative of the main character from the first Fable. Genius! This has never been done before... ha. A classic tale of hero with super-human powers having to go up against an evil-doer of magnificent proportions. Spoiler alert: Story ending? Lame times 1 million! Knothole Island? Doesn't add much to the story line, only rectifies a small portion of the original ending's lameness (if you choose 2 out of the 3 final options.)

Graphics 8/10: I liked the graphics a lot for this game. They were consistently good, and the transitions between day and night were pretty sweet. The details are lush, if you stop running around from quest to quest long enough to check out the grasses, houses, scars, etc. I suppose the greatest graphic feat is your characters ever changing appearance. Eat one too many liver pies? Guess what? Now you are a fatty! Die once or twice? You are now horribly disfigured by scarring and no one will love you. Knothole Island remedy? Potions! Huzzah now you can be taller or shorter or fatter or skinnier or more or less scarred. This is totally 'realistic' and I love it.

Sound ?/10: I have not spent a significant amount of time playing this game in a long while, and I can't actually remember what the soundtrack is like. Does this speak well of the game, that they have created a soundtrack that blends so seamlessly with the game that it didn't annoy me and stand out? Or does it speak negatively that there isn't a song so epic and catching that I would remember it even after a few months of neglect. Hmm. One thing I do like about the sounds on this game is the fortune teller's narration. She has a nice voice. Also you can skip ahead because hello, listening to narration takes FOREVER.

Gameplay 7/10: I hated the original Xbox and it's giant sized controller with too many buttons. 360 has improved upon that and this game takes full advantage. Sadly, I could never get 100% used to the controls. I kept pulling out my weapons in the middle of town or accidentally doing spells which make the townspeople hate you! Lame!! Other than controls, the gameplay is smooth. The camera follows pretty well. I liked the addition of the yellow sparkling trail that you can follow to the next point in your quest (or turn off if you don't want the help). It was very good for someone like me who gets lost in games, but it also meant that I paid a lot less attention to my game-surroundings and pretty much just followed that line everywhere. I'm sure I missed out on the graphic beauty of the game and actually learning the maps. (Yes I could've turned it off, but then I would be lost!) Also, because of the yellow line function, the game is lacking a really good in-game map. All you get are these stupid little maps that you can't even interact with. Hello? I would like to see exactly WHERE that tattoo parlor was so I can remove this awful Lionhead face tattoo please? You can't really set the line to direct you to specific locations so that can be frustrating if you haven't been paying a lot of attention and are, subsequently, lost.
I was not as pleased as I could've been with the maps either. I heard that this was some amazing wide open game and you can just explore everywhere but I found the maps to be much smaller than I expected and a lot less open. If you play this game with any expectations that the maps would be as open as, say, World of Warcraft, you will be sorely disappointed.

Overall 8/10: I enjoyed this game. You have a lot of choices which I really like in an RPG. And it does a really good job of letting you upgrade your character to your personal specifications (like if you are all about magic you will get more exp points towards magic. This makes perfect sense!) I also thought it was nice that there isn't a lot of crawling dungeons over and over. I hate having to repeat the same areas of a game. Sometimes the extreme changes in your appearance/personality were frustrating. Like if you accidentally steal something you get really evil and it takes a while of doing good deeds to get back to your previous status. Why is it so much easier to be bad?
As for achievements: this game deals them out well, and for fun things! The achievements really get you to experience and explore factions of the game that you might otherwise ignore. Like jumping off of a 300 ft drop off and living. I can't tell you how many times I jumped off of everything in sight. Actually I think I accidentally ended up getting this achievement. Go figure. The only bummer is that there are 300 available gamerpoints for the end game options, and unless you "cheat" you can only get 1 without having to replay the entire game. And you can only have one game saved under each profile so you would lose all your progress just to go back and get those other end game scores. Is it worth it? I don't think so. Also there are a lot of achievements for which you have to be either all the way good or all the way bad, and if you go one way or the other I can only imagine it is a super pain to get the opposite ones. I went all the way good and have not 100% gotten all the achievements.

Buy/Rent: Well, I borrowed it from a friend and eventually bought it later on. It is a fun game. I always find that Fable is fun to just throw in and run around for a while, although now that I have completed it it's not quite as fun. I have so much money and all the exp I would ever need so what's the point? I guess exploration. *shrug* And Knothole Island? In my opinion it was NOT worth all the money I spent on it. Yes, it rectified the situation with my dog, but seriously? There were only like 2 hours of gameplay and I think a couple hundred gamerscore points. Lame.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Super Mario Brothers

I swear, I play more than the DS. I play an awful lot of Xbox these days. I just can't seem to actually finish an Xbox game. Maybe they are just too vast of a scale for me and the time I'm putting into gaming these days. Games I have played recently but not finished include: GTA IV, Lego Batman, Guitar Hero II. I also recently purchased Battlefield: Bad Company, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Fallout 3. There will come a time that I will play these games, and review them. Wait for it, preferably with bated breath.

New Super Mario Brothers

Story both 1/10 and 10/10: The story of Mario. It is epic. It is timeless. It has never changed in the last 16 years. I love getting into a Mario game because I know I don't have to pay attention to any of the cut scenes. They will be as follows: Mario & Peach are on a vacation together. Peach is abducted by Bowser and/or Bowser's little minions. Mario seeks out Peach. Mario rescues Peach and she kisses him on the head and/or bakes him a cake. I, personally, prefer the cake method. Mario deserves something for all his time and effort.

Graphics 9/10: For the DS I think this game is awesome. The graphics are smooth, and they hearken back to a better time. A 2D time. A left to right platformer time. But with awesome 3D background images. And I love how recent Mario games play with the gravity in the game. In New Super Mario Brothers there are levels where you play and have to hit switches that turn the level upside down. So fun! (I believe this was also done, more extensively, in Super Paper Mario-- I'm noticing a naming trend.)

Sound 9/10: The soundtrack is a trip. It's so fun to hear the Mario songs we've known and loved throughout the ages again. That said, most of the time on my DS I have the sound turned way down, until I accidentally hit the slider and it skyrockets my eardrums out. (Apparently the DSi has fixed this issue, but I won't have one of those for quite some time.)

Gameplay 10/10: Like I said earlier, this game is a total walk down memory lane. When you play it, you feel like you are 10 years old again, plugging in those awkward NES controllers. Because, let's face it, in a game like this the DS is so uncomfortable. My wrists want to fall off after about half an hour. This does not diminish the fun that is the game play. In fact, it might accentuate it because old school gaming was so uncomfortable. I love the secrets hidden throughout this game, it gives it great replayability. I feel like it will take a while to 100% this game, and even once that is done I will find myself going back and playing favorite levels.

Overall 9/10: Just because I feel nervous about giving a game a perfect 10/10. This game is so fun. I recommend it for all gamers. I feel like anyone could get into this game. Hardcore gamers can use it to cleanse their palate in between gaming sessions. Not so hardcore? Play a few levels and take a break. It's as easy as the original Mario Brothers, but better because you can save. (Although I think the saving feature sucks until you purchase all available mushroom house paths. You can only save by buying a path, or beating a castle. Lame!)

Buy/Rent: I say buy. But you know me. I do think this game has good replay factor. I mean, how often do you go back to the original Mario Brothers? It's one of those games that just sticks with you.

Oh PS - In writing this I forgot to mention that this game also has an awesome and fun selection of minigames. I have spent a lot of time playing them when I am just too frustrated with trying to find the secret exits to the levels. Also they are excellent for letting your 18-month-old child play when she refuses to take no for an answer. I'm raising a gamer!