Archives for June 2009

Ads coming to the 360 Dashboard?

It seems like we might be getting ads in the near future on the 360 dashboard. (Don’t we already? When it boots up online?) Well, I won’t. I’m selling my Xbox, instruments, and library of 30+ games. It’s unrelated, but makes it easier.

[2 Minute Review] Terminator Salvation

If you liked the movie, then you’ll probably like the game.

Get used to this guy; you are going to see him a lot.Play as John Connor as he and his companions try to save a group of Resistance fighters that are trapped in a Skynet facility.

DO: Take cover, flank the enemy, shoot the enemy. Get out of cover, walk to the next fight. Occasionally shoot from a vehicle. Repeat until the credits scroll.

TYPE: 3rd Person Cover-Based Shooter

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Windows DVD-ROM

MEAT: Terminator Salvation takes many cues from both Gears of War games. Each of the game’s chapters are broken up into little theaters – areas in which you are pinned down and must fight through waves of enemies until they are all defeated. Each theater is easily identified by objects that are randomly strewn about, acting as cover for you and your teammates. Your survival is dependant on taking cover as you will not be able to survive under the heavy automated fire of the machines.

As you play through Terminator Salvation’s nine chapters, you will fight the same four enemies when Connor is on-foot: Aerostats (small flying machines aka “Wasps”), T7-Ts (four-legged machines aka “Spiders”), Hunter Killers (large flying machines aka “HKs”) and T-600s (endoskeletons, sometimes called “skin jobs”). The on-rails segments feature the motorcycle-shaped Terminators and mounted turrets in one segment.

The graphics and voice work are adequate, and the controls work for the game. I found myself frustrated with the lack of a roadie run; on a few occasions I could not use the cover system to get me from one spot to the other, so I had to take a leisurely stroll through enemy fire. Since your health does not replenish until all enemy waves have been eliminated, this was very dangerous, but necessary, action to take.

PERKS: The cover system works well. The on-rails segments are entertaining and are a much-needed break from the standard gameplay. The inclusion of Moon Bloodgood’s and Common’s likenesses and voices help to tie the game closer to the movie it is based on. The achievements are easy to get; simply playing through the 6 hour campaign on Hard mode will net you 1000 points. Cooperative play through the campaign is available both in offline splitscreen and over Xbox LIVE.

SCREAMS: For more than the six enemy types you will encounter, a longer playthrough time, more reasons to play through the game more than once (like collectibles, online multiplayer or multiple paths through the campaign) and a roadie run.

VERDICT: Rent. The game’s short length and few achievements will give Gamerscore addicts a reason to play through this game once. Fans of Gear of War will appreciate playing through a similar experience.

On my overflowing plate…

Sorry for the absence of late. I’ve had difficulty logging into the site since the update but that freed me up to play and purchase a pile of games.

I will have a review of Miami Law for the DS up soon and impressions of SMT: Devil Survivor, Class of Heroes and Crimson Gem Saga as well. I also plan to finish up Ghostbusters within the week and should have a review of the 360 version up soon.

I also want to take this time to bid a fond farewell to my old 19″ Viewsonic CRT monitor as it makes way for my new baby, a new LG 22″ widescreen!

Gameplay impressions (Resident Evil 5 and Prototype)

I haven’t posted much lately about games. It seems like I’ve been talking about talking about games, but not actually the games. So, finally, I’ve got some games to talk about: Resident Evil 5 and Prototype.

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 – After playing the demo a while ago, I told myself I just needed to have an RE4 state of mind to enjoy it. But it didn’t work. I wasn’t “feeling it.” Despite previous experience, I decided to grab a copy of the game and give it a try anyway. After 20 minutes by myself I realized this wasn’t going to work. The AI-controlled Sheva was frustrating almost immediately. I didn’t want to give up, though, and figured it couldn’t get any worse if I played it with James (aka Ehergeiz, who will go by James from now on, since that’s his name) so after scoring a copy for him, we decided to give it a play through together.

I will say this: this game is Resident Evil 4.5. I will also say this: this is not a bad thing. RE4 holds a special place in my heart and I love that RE5 feels so familiar. From the laser sight to the ridiculous idea that first-aid spray is a real thing, this feels like home. That being said, RE4 was four years ago. Game design has changed, for the better. When the game first cam out, gamers complaining about not being able to run and shoot made me want to scream (you try shooting a 12-gauge on the run, big guy!) but now I see what they mean. It can be frustrating. There are other little issues that crop up, but they are harmless gnats on the windshield at 55 MPH.

We’re almost done with RE5. I’m probably not going to review the game, but I would have given it a BUY rating. I am liking it very much. I miss the “What are ya selling?” guy, no matter how ridiculous the weapon upgrade system is (my revolver holds 12 bullets!). I still love this game.

Prototype

Prototype: The obvious comparisons are going to come up — an open world, a superpowered character and the opportunities for destruction abound. I can’t compare it to inFamous but I can compare it to Crackdown. The similarities are there — climbing to insane heights, jumping, throwing cars, collecting “orbs” and upgrading abilities. But where Crackdowns upgrades were limited and linear, Prototype has tons. Both games have “challenges” outside the main story-line, but again, Prototype outnumbers Crackdown in every way. What Crackdown does have more of than Prototype is charm. The satisfaction you get from climbing buildings in Crackdown is absent in Prototype. You just run up the building and you’re done. No challenge. No frustration, either, but it’s not the same. This is a feeling I get quite a bit with Prototype. I’m enjoying it, but it’s not quite satisfying.

The combat conflicts me. I can’t tell if I’m good or it’s easy. I’d prefer the former, of course, but the challenge hasn’t been there for me. I’ve died my share of times in the course of a mission, but the enemies keep you in health orbs and you can always run away (or hide in a disguise) if things get dicey. Disguise mode is a blast. Anyone you “consume” allows you to become that person. So you can blend in the crowd by consuming a bystander or you can get into an army base by consuming a soldier. It’s a riot. Especially consuming an old man, picking up a car, and run through the streets at high speed. It’s a riot.

The mission structure is fine. It’s easy to navigate your way around the city and find what your looking for. Their version of NYC lacks character that GTAIV’s had, but the game does look gorgeous.

Overall, Prototype has strong BUY potential.

Point Lookout First Impression

Point_Lookout

Calling this a “First Impression” might be a bit misleading considering I have all the achievements, even the “Bog Walker” which means I’ve visited all the locations in Point Lookout. However, until I have the time to do a longer write up this will have to do.

Point Lookout is a true expansion to the game. Sticking close to what Fallout 3 does best, with some combat, plenty of exploration, and just enough story to keep things interesting. I love the new weapons and I enjoy what they did to the setting. The terrain and enemies are largely different, with a few familiar faces from the Capitol Wasteland also taking up residence in Point Lookout. On a lark I decided to go to Point Lookout with no weapons other than a Ripper and basic Leather Armor. I think this was the best idea as I had to rely mostly on what I found in the new location. Players often complain about the DLC, but if I showed up with my full kit then it would not have presented much of a challenge.

On the other hand, Fallout 3 was my favorite game last year and I’ve purchased all of the DLC, so keep that in mind. This one isn’t without its problems, but really it’s just the same problems that plague Fallout 3 in general.

[2 Minute Review] Red Faction: Guerilla

rfg_logo_wide

We’re gonna have a revolution, yeah

DO: Blow up every building nearly brick-by-brick and stick it to “The Man”!

TYPE:Third Person Sandbox

PLATFORM: XBox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, and PC (in August)

PRICE: $60

rfg_wide

MEAT: Oddly enough, the more “sandbox” games that have come on the market, the more restrictive they seem to be. What I loved the most about Grand Theft Auto III was the freedom that it gave you. While there is a definite progression in Red Faction: Guerilla, you are free to go pretty much anywhere you want in-between tackling the story missions. Also, you can level every building in the game piece-by-piece.

This is not an exaggeration at all. You start the game with a humble sledgehammer and remote detonated explosives. While the game gives players many options, from conventional assault rifles and pistols to building leveling singularity bombs, the tools you start out with are useful throughout. The game instantly found a place in my heart when an enemy trooper was hiding behind a wall and I was able to strike through the wall with my hammer and take him out. I could not begin to list the number of games that have frustrated me by having an enemy soldier hiding behind the most invincible piece of plywood they could find. The game often rewards players for ingenuity rather than forcing them to follow a strict path or sequence of actions.

There is a story contained within, but it’s a familiar trope that is one part Bolshevik Revolution and one part Total Recall. I suppose there might be some lip service to the previous Red Faction games, but if you’re not familiar with the background materials it doesn’t really matter. Gamers familiar with traditional sandbox games will find the basic gameplay familiar. You have the main story missions to progress the plot and plenty of different side missions to keep you occupied. Side missions include standard defend, raid, demolitions, and escort (Ugh!) with other familiar elements like tracking down convoys or tailing couriers. Despite the harsh Martian landscape there is plenty to do. My initial concern was that this game would be like Just Cause, where everything was too sparse and spread out to keep the game interesting.

Saving the best for last, there is a small cadre of robots you can take control of throughout the game. They are available for specific story missions and some side missions, but you will occassionally find them scattered around the map. These “walkers” are almost overpowered, but so much fun to use that I don’t really care.

rfg_walker

PERKS: Literally every structure in the game can be destroyed. If your idea of entertainment is to blow things up, this game was tailor made for you. Unlike other games that let you play with high explosives, bringing down a building is not done simply by applying the correct number of explosives. There are actual physics involved. Land a giant robot on the roof and you may go crashing into the building. Need a quick path somewhere? Run through walls using your sledgehammer.

The vehicles are somewhat generic, but the controls are great. Vehicular combat is somewhat disappointing in anything other than tanks though. Most vehicles are much better for soaking up enemy fire while you recuperate than having any real offensive capabilities, even if they have mounted weapons. On the other hand, it is very satisfying to literally drive a dump truck into an enemy barracks to start an assault.

The enemy AI is noteworthy as well. They will retreat, take cover, and evade attacks, even on the easiest difficulty. They are not obnoxiously difficult, but it is a nice touch that they don’t stand around letting you blow them away. They do tend to be braver in greater numbers, so you may find yourself massacring quite a few before they remember to play smart. Overall though, the AI is solid.

SCREAMS: Past Red Faction games were more about deformable terrain, in this game the terrain is impervious. The game is also difficult even on the easiest difficulty. Most of this difficulty is the swarm of enemies you can be up against. Furthermore, as solid as the enemy AI is, your allies are next to worthless other than providing a temporary distraction. In the early stages this doesn’t seem so bad, but towards the end you are fighting dozens of troops with air support, vehicles, and possibly armor. This means they can overwhelm you with sheer numbers and they seem to come out of nowhere, making it difficult to find a place to hole up for those few precious seconds you need your health to recuperate.

Vehicles cannot be stored or brought up on demand and the quick travel system is limited to safehouses only. Furthermore, buildings will not regenerate until you beat the game and if you destroy special garages you may not be able to use some of the more spectacular vehicles and robots later in the game.

VERDICT: This is definitely a BUY. I rarely purchase games at full price and feel like I have to wring my $60 out of them. Red Faction: Guerilla was worth every penny. I won’t claim it is a perfect game, but it is packed with tons of fun.

In my hands

Red Faction GuerillaIn my hands: Red Faction Guerrilla [Xbox 360]

Unfortunately, this arrived at a busy time, I’m not sure how much I’ll actually get to play. I’m knee-deep in Prototype and Resident Evil 5 and I’m heading out of town tomorrow and won’t be back home until after the 4th. I do believe Jason O has a Red Faction Guerrilla review coming up soon, so you’ll have to get your Red Faction fix from him.

An introduction is in order

Will saved me the trouble of having to go first. Thanks, Will! I’m Jason O, one of the two new contributors to buttonmashing.com.

I was introduced to the wonders of technology at an early age. I remember when the PS2 was an early IBM home personal computer. I was gaming on it and an Apple IIe in wonderful monochrome. Years later the 4 color Jumpman would seem like the ultimate game in comparison. My first gaming console was an Atari 2600. I’ve observed the trends and changes in the gaming industry for over two decades and I still love this hobby and love to share it with others. I’ve grown from a wide-eyed child to a white collar professional and now have a family of my own.

I love talking about games. How well they play, if they are actually fun, the underlying design, and even how the industry is behaving. This is influenced by gaming as a long-time hobby and my current role in the technology field in general. While games are much different than the software I’ve been involved with personally, there are some commonalities between the two and I’m always interested in how games as a business works versus the more service oriented software I know firsthand.

These days I mostly game on the X-Box 360, I don’t even own a PS3, and the Wii is more for my kids. I don’t game much on the PC much anymore. I don’t have a strong preference or loyalty though. Next year I might be more PC focused, or maybe the PS3 will finally grab my attention. I might yet pick up a DS of my own. For me, games are more than a platform or a company logo. They are my passion, my favorite form of entertainment. Which is why I look forward to my future contributions here.

Hi There

My name is Will, and I am one of the two new faces Tony introduced yesterday.

I’m a collector – one of those odd gamers that holds on to games and never trades them in. Over the past 20 years or so, this habit has resulted in a collection of about 800 games that span several systems: NES, Genesis, SNES, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, N64, Dreamcast, GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, various Game Boys and Nintendo DSes.

My Xbox 360 circa 03/08; one-half of its current size

Lately, my Xbox 360 gets most of my attention. However, I occasionally play my PS3 and Steam games. Feel free to throw a friend request my way:

Oh, and about that name. I like penguins. Back in college I was known as “Chill Will” amongst my frat brothers. So I combined the two and got Chill Penguin. I had convinced myself that I really made up that name, somehow glossing over the fact that Mega Man X is a game that I played a lot, and I always wiped the floor with Chill Penguin first.

I hope you enjoy what I will bring to buttonmashing.com.

[2 Minute Review] Sacred 2: Fallen Angel

Sacred2 Banner

DO: Play like Diablo but with better graphics.

TYPE: RPG (Diablo with a splash of Baldur’s Gate)

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed here), PS3 and PC

PRICE: $60

MEAT: You choose one out of six character classes. Of which the strangest class would have to be the temple guardian,”A Temple Guardian is not fully flesh or mechanical, it is a mixture, half human and half machine.” The temple guardian kind of looks like the egyptian god Horus (kind of) if you choose to go evil or Anubis if you choose to go good.

With all of the different items you come across and all of the different ways you can shape your character there is a good chance you will have a really unique character. I went with an Inquisitor that dual wielded a burning dagger and an ice shortsword. What’s cool about the game is you can choose to use any weapon you want as long as it’s not class specific.

The big let down with Sacred 2 is the parts in between quests which turns into the same thing over and over again. You get quest A and on your way to the location to finish the quest you encounter a plentiful amount of monsters on the main road the whole way there. There is a copious amount of side quests that can lead you away from the main quest which will add playtime to your total playtime. The time spent traveling can be cut down by either using a mount (different kinds of horses or class specific ones like a demon or a sabertooth tiger) or the warp gates which are scattered around the map that are usually near important locales like a town or city.

The multiplayer aspect of the game is where I think that game will shine. Having only played the game hotseat co-op for a limited amount of time I really enjoyed it with another player along for the ride, even though we had to share a screen and couldn’t seperate. Playing online multiplayer will allow the players to be in the same world while being able to roam wherever they want. This gives the game more of an open world feel.

PERKS: Having quite a bit of room to customize your character. My personal pet peeve in video games is when you equip and awesome new sword or piece of armor and then it doesn’t show up on your character, they just have the same sword/armor the whole game through. Sacred 2 did this part of the game right, everything you equip on your character shows up so I had a burning dagger hanging on my back while I rode my horse. Also if your into being into a game for the long haul then this is right up your alley. I’m not even sure how long long you could devote your time to the game but it seems like it could suck you in for a while. The world is pretty huge so the words, “NEVER ENDING!” come to mind. One of the very first things I noticed was how expansive the world was. After searching around for a few minutes in the game world I looked at the the map and only a tiny bit of the map had been lit up showing where I had explored. The world looks great from the grass blowing in the wind to the lush landscapes Ancaria looks good.

SCREAMS: LOADING! The worst time I had with loading was in a town where within 10 seconds the game had to stop the screen from progressing to load the next section of town five times. Now if you install it on the hard drive I’m sure it will help immensely with the loading issues but the game shouldn’t have that many to begin with. How about a boss fight that isn’t just some monster with a long health bar?

Give me a story to care about. The only thing that stands out storywise for the game is that they were able to get the EPIC band Blind Guardian to be apart of it. To have better detail after you zoom out, having the camera zoomed in can give you some great detail with nice graphics but zoom out to where you can actually see whats going on and you won’t be able to tell if it’s the same game. That was a major let down in playing Sacred 2, not being able to enjoy the good graphics the whole time.

VERDICT: Buy. I think you’ll definitely get your $’s worth out of this game. You can play it until you’ve discovered everything in Ancaria which will take you a long time or just go straight through the games main quests. Regardless of whether you’ll be playing the game by yourself or with a friend the enjoyment you’ll get should be the same. If your on the fence about this game I would suggest a rental and you’ll be able to get a feel for the game and whether you want to buy the game or not. I had a good time in Ancaria and I’m pretty sure you will too!