Flakwolf – Stop getting ripped off.

A while back, I was contacted by the owner of Flakwolf, a new site looking to make a name for themselves in the online game trading business.

I know there are already a lot of trading sites out there (CAG has a pretty solid system) but I never took the plunge myself into any of these services. After having been low-balled (AGAIN) by Gamestop, trying to trade in some games, I decided to give Flakwolf a try.

It’s a fairly simple trading system, with a twist. Most trading sites have you list what games your looking for and what games you have to trade, and try to facilitate the transaction. Ultimately, most of these sites leave the final details to the users, which consists of sending a game through the mail, hoping your trader reciprocates and sends you yours. With Flakwolf, they give you the added option of limiting your trading options to someone close to you, so you can facilitate the trade locally, in-person. Some may be hesitant to meet a complete stranger to perform the trade, but anyone who’s done a local transaction from eBay or Craig’s list knows it’s actually not that big of a deal.

I decided to give it a try. The system is pretty straight forward. You list a game you want to offer. Each title is assigned a “Tier” based on how popular or in-demand the game is. You can list multiple titles. Eventually someone will be interested in a game you’ve listed and request it. You send the game along and the site credits you with the trade. You can then turn that credit around and request a game of the same Tier you traded for. Pretty easy, right?

My experience was very enjoyable. I listed my copy of Chronicles of Riddick, which rated out as a “Tier 2” game. Shortly thereafter, someone requested my game, so I exchanged emails with the requester for address info. I sent my copy of Riddick to him, and he acknowledged receipt of the game at the site. I was credited with one “Tier 2” credit, meaning I could request any available Tier 2 titles. I decided I wanted to give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare a try, so I requested an available copy. Unfortunately, a couple days passed and the guy who offered up MW never acknowledged the trade, so I was prompted (by the site) to pick another title. I decided on Pure and promptly got an email from the owner of Pure to arrange the trade. Since we weren’t local to each other, we agreed that he would ship the game to me and a few days later Pure showed up in my mailbox. Everyone lived (and gamed) happily ever after.

You can read more about Flakwolf at GameGirl.

I highly recommend it and suggest you give it a try. And let us know if you do, we’d love to hear how it worked out for you.

+800 Microsoft Points

Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade has come and gone. A couple of weeks ago I got a message from LIVE letting my know that 800 points had been credited to my account. This made me look back at the  5200 points I spent to get this rebate.

When I first saw the line up, I was unsure of most of the titles. Getting 800 points back was a nice incentive to take a chance on them. Now, having played all of them, I found that my expectations and my experiences with the games did not match up.

'Splosion Man

Pre-demo impression: What’s the name of the game? ‘Splosion Man? Pass.

Post-demo impression: Whoa, this game is kinda fun. The demo let me play through a few levels (six, I believe) and even gave me a sneak peek of the first boss; just enough for me to get a handle on the game. There is no tutorial at all, but I didn’t need one. All face buttons ‘splode. The left analog stick moves. Pretty simple, and I like it that way.

Post-purchase impression: The game starts of nice and easy. Every level slowly ramps up the difficultly, but at no point did I feel overwhelmed or frustrated. No matter how difficult the puzzle, I always think about how I can change my tactics to complete the puzzle.

Verdict: Satisfied. This is my favorite 2D platformer on the XBLA.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2

Pre-demo impression: I played Marvel vs. Capcom 2 when it was out on the Dreamcast. I’d play with my brothers, wife, her brother, and her future brother-in-law. We had a blast, so adding an online mode with Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix’s quarter match setup and excellent netcode? How could I go wrong?

Post-demo impression: The demo doesn’t do a good job of showing what the game can offer; you can only choose from six characters in offline mode. Oh well, since I liked the game years ago, I’m sure the full version will be fine.

Post-purchase impression: I don’t remember this game being completely unbalanced. In particular, multiple characters share similar moves (such as Captain America’s Charging Star and Jill Valentine’s Kinkyuu Kaihi B), but have completely effects in combos, allowing certain characters to be more “cheap” than others. Using the two characters I mentioned as an example, Jill can land multiple hits when your character is in the prone position, whereas Captain America can’t, despite the fact that both moves only differ in a cosmetic way. These differences lead players of Marvel vs Capcom 2 to build squads made up of the cheapest possible characters that can land as many unblockable hits in a row as possible. As I prefer to build thematic squads (such as my Boys in Blue and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants teams), playing against this type of gamer leads to me getting frustrated.

Verdict: Regret. Years of playing better-balanced, slower-paced fighting games like Street Figher IV, Soul Calibur IV, Dead or Alive 4, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix have made this game unplayable for me.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled

Pre-demo impression: Just like with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I played this game with friends and family on the SNES. It was such a simple game with memorable music and colorful graphics that looked like the cartoon. Now I’ll get this game again, with updated graphics and  four-player LIVE play? Instant buy.

Post-demo impression: What happened? I already knew that the graphics were going to be different. Unlike many message board posters, I actually like the new graphics, since they look a lot like the most recent CG TMNT movie. However, I did not expect the light-hearted and sometimes goofy music to be replaced with totally uninspired music that could have been copied directly from a low-budget B-movie’s soundtrack.

Post-purchase impression: I just can’t get over the change in music. When I think back to the multiplayer beat ‘em up action games from my youth, like Streets of Rage and Final Fight, one of the things that sticks out is the music. This game’s dull tones seem to be trying to put me to sleep. Knowing what the music should sound like prevents me from getting into it. That aside, it works well as a four-player online game.

Verdict: Regret. My nostalgia for the SNES version of Turtles in Time negatively affected my ability to enjoy this new version.

Trials HD

Pre-demo impression: Some called this game an HD ExciteBike. I never played that game or its Nintendo 64 follow-up, so that comparison didn’t take hold on me.

Post-demo impression: This game is pretty fun! The tutorial is simple but effective. I breezed through the levels offered in the demo. I imagine the game will get harder, but I should enjoy it.

Post-purchase impression: This game is ridiculously hard. In no way did the demo prepare me for the extreme ramp up in difficulty. The Beginner and Easy tracks are pretty easy to get gold medals in. The Medium tracks are unbelievably hard. I don’t even want to see what the Hard and Extreme tracks are like. Want to see how hard this game is? The split wasn’t in my controller before buying Trials HD:

Stupid Trials HD

Verdict: Satisfied. Yes, it is ridiculously hard. If you have the patience to push your way through, or a lot of controllers to go through, you will enjoy it. When I first wrote my post-purchase impressions on this game, the Medium tracks were practically impossible. Now, I have gotten through them, finished most of the Hard tracks and am struggling with the Extreme ones. My controller has flown across the room a few more times, but I keep coming back for me.

Shadow Complex

Read our full review on Shadow Complex.

Pre-demo impression: This game is constantly referred to as a Metroidvania-style title. Those are mighty big words for me, as that designation doesn’t only describe how it plays, but it is a statement about its quality.

Post-demo impressions: I can see that Shadow Complex has a lot of potential. I enjoyed the opening sequence, where you get to see how powerful your character will become. It is an effective tease.

Post-purchase impressions: Shadow Complex was very difficult for the first few hours. Jason Flemming could not take many hits before dying, and I found the “aim at the background” mechanic to be flawed and aggravating to deal with. Given how difficult the beginning was to me, it became immensely gratifying to see Jason’s power grow. By the end of the game, I strolled into every room without bothering to take cover. I walked over every enemy, including those annoying black-suited agents that would hang from the ceiling. The ending sequence is one of the easier ones I’ve seen in a game, which was a bit anti-climactic.

Verdict: Satisfied. Shadow Complex became an obsession for me. I wouldn’t quit until I found all of the items. I intend on going back to get all the way to level 50.

I spent 1200 more points than I should have. The rebate made up for the cost of Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, but I’m still out for the cost of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Even though I really enjoy the three Arcade titles that I had no previous experience with, buying into the Summer of Arcade was not a smart financial move.

2 Minute Review – Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box

Diabolical Box Art

The Professor and Luke are up to their wacky hijinks again!

Do: Unravel a mystery while solving close to 150 different logic puzzles.

Type: Puzzle/Adventure

Platform: Nintendo DS

Price: $29.99

PL2 Story Screen

Meat: As the sequel to last year’s puzzle/adventure game for the DS, Professor Layton & The Curious Village, Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box comes with some high expectations. You are tasked with guiding the titular Professor and his plucky assistant Luke through a rather substantial tale of murder, theft and intrigue as they attempt to find the Elysian Box, an artifact that kills any who dare open it. This is done by solving upwards of 130 different logic puzzles scattered throughout the tale. Some puzzles are random while some are integral to moving the story forward. Add to that a much larger variety of minigames and you are looking at a game that takes about 12 hours to playthrough with plenty of extra goodies to keep you coming back for more.

PL2 Puzzle Screen

Perks: The art design and music are a slice of whimsy and exotic flair in a world of games filled with too much gritty darkness. While the subject matter in Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box can be quite grim, there is always a sense of innocence about the proceedings. The puzzles in Diabolical Box are integrated into their surroundings much better than they were in the first game, with at least a hint of context given for each offering. Animated cutscenes are sprinkled liberally through the game and are a delight to watch. There has also been an improvement in the localization of the text clues for the word puzzles over the first game, which is a huge plus.

Screams: For a stronger resolution to the core plot. The game spends a lot of time weaving together several plot threads but then seems to rush the ending. The finale is still satisfying but the twists do seem to come out of nowhere and are resolved far too quickly for my taste.

Verdict: Buy. This is the middle game in a trilogy but the story is very self-contained with most of the allusions to the events of the first Layton game summed up nicely.

Cheap Game of the Week – Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Overview: The title says it all, Guitar Hero + Aerosmith.

Pricing: This one has dropped pretty fast. $15 used seems to be the standard and new copies go for $20. The version with the guitar even dropped to $50 or less, which is ridiculously cheap if you don’t already have the controller.

Rip-Off Warning: Not much danger here. All the Guitar Hero games except for Metallica, Smash Hits, and 5 seem to be dropping in price steadily. Look around and you might see the occasional $25 or 30 price.

Platform: Playstation 2, Playstation 3, XBox 360 (Reviewed), Wii

Is it worth it? This might be my cheap game of the week, but I actually purchased this brand-spanking new with a guitar controller and everything for $100. The release was just a perfect storm of having recently discovered the music rhythm genre, needing a second 360 compatible controller, and actually being an Aerosmith fan. How’s that for a disclaimer?

Unfortunately, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was the sophmore effort for Neversoft who released the incredibly well selling but widely criticized Guitar Hero III after Harmonix went off to make Rock Band. The primary criticisms of Guitar Hero III was imprecise note charts, high degree of difficulty, and the ridiculous “boss battles” that they introduced. Instead of the fun, casual, social gaming experience that previous Guitar Hero games had been, Neversoft had seemingly adopted their usual “2 HARDKOR 4 U” mentality of the Tony Hawk series.

While they claimed to have listened to criticisms, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith feels like one of those non-apologies that are quickly followed by a middle finger when your back is turned. The difficulty isn’t quite as bad, but still ramps up rather quickly about mid-game. They retained one boss battle and made it skippable. That just smacks of a stubborn refusal to learn their lesson while also acknowledging that maybe it wasn’t the best idea. As for the note charts, my favorite quote about GH: Aerosmith was “Neversoft continues to display complete ignorance for the mechanical workings of a guitar or even a human hand”.

Other issues is that the game is incredibly short and there are many other songs you have to play through before getting to each Aerosmith set. That’s too bad because if you’re an Aerosmith fan it’s a pretty good song list, but if you’re not a fan then there is no point to this game. Adding other bands that “inspired” or where “inspired by” Aerosmith is just a lame attempt to pull in people who aren’t familiar with their music.

Final Judgement: This is a PASS. If you’re an existing Aerosmith fan you may enjoy it, but otherwise it’s going to feel like a waste of time and money to most anyone else.

[2 Minute Review] The Beatles: Rock Band

Do you want to know a secret?

 

We all live in a yellow submarine

DO: The Beatles meet Rock Band. Simple.

TYPE: While my plastic guitar gently weeps

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, and Wii

PRICE: $60

MEAT: If you’ve played Rock Band almost nothing has changed except the difficulty has been lowered a notch for almost all the songs. The technicality of the songs was much simpler then, but, of course, the songs are accessibe by almost anyone. It’s awesome to the see the evolution of their music as you play each venue they play or as you sit with them in the studio. The dreamscapes (what goes on in the background in the latter half of the game because the group didn’t tour) are so amazing that they can be distracting at first.

beatle_rock_band1252344947

PERKS: style and presentation are top-notch; enough for hardcore Beatles fans; engaging and interesting enough for people familiar with the group; catchy tunes, interesting rewards; a music game that’s accessible for mom and dad; fun with a little help from your friends; 45 songs is just enough for one group; vocal harmonization; got my wife to play late into the evening three days straight

SCREAMS: to have Hey Jude and Let It Be; you’re not really playing a specific character; to have a little more depth; 45 songs is not enough for one game; $60 may be too much for some. The Beatles are the taxmen;

VERDICT: He buys her diamond rings you know. She said so. Im in love with her and I feel fine. I was not a Beatle fan, but the prospect of playing a Rock Band game where I knew at least ten of the songs intrigued me. After one week, I’ve become a fan. I guess the game worked. The title oozes style and substance. A non-fan may not see the substance, but I found the pictures, trivia, group dynamics, and all the history to be very interesting. I think what the game does very well is show how the group was innovative with almost everything they did up until the end. The evolution in their style of music, clothes, and even hair were indicative of the times. I was born in the late 70’s and I guess the biggest compliment I can give this game is that I understand the era in which they played a little better and it’s getting better all the time.

2 Minute Review: Shadow Complex

shadow_complex01

An old school throwback with all modern bells and whistles

DO: Indulge your sense of nostalgia over a game genre that’s time has largely past. Alternatively, if you’re not a gaming dinosaur, find out why everyone loved Metroid so much.

TYPE: Side-Scrolling Platformer

PLATFORM: XBox 360 (Reviewed)

PRICE: $15

MEAT: You play as Jason Fleming (sidenote: More protagonists should be named “Jason”. It’s an awesome name.) who appears to be an everyman in the same way Steven Seagal’s character in Under Siege was “just a cook”. In a very brief flashback we’re given that Jason’s mysterious background includes some kind of training because his father is some kind of super-spy and/or warrior badass and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Despite his attempt at a normal life he finds himself unwittingly drawn into a plot against the United States when he, and I’m not making this up, stumbles into the base of a homegrown terrorist organization thanks to an outing with his “girlfriend” that was supposed to be nothing more than some hiking and spelunking. I used “girlfriend” in quotes because despite the marketing materials for the game they also establish that Jason and Claire have been dating for all of two days. The lengths he goes through for a woman he met at a bar is nothing short of epic.

I wouldn’t usually bother with the back story, but in this case the story is very much part of the gameplay and it does a great job. For a side-scroller I don’t expect much since you’re artificially confined in your actions, yet the action onscreen and the story presentation flow together perfectly. Your character is upgraded gradually and as you unlock new abilities you can backtrack to previously visited locations to acquire upgrades that were inaccessible before. Despite all the backtracking, the ability to explore a section in a way that wasn’t previously possible keeps the game interesting even though you may have visited the same room multiple times.

Just a minor spoiler, but what you have is a guy who starts out with a flashlight and the ability to jump who gradually ends up with a suit of incredible power armor that gives him abilities beyond that of normal men.

PERKS: In my opinion these kinds of retro-retreads are unnecessary since technology has since advanced enough that we can move beyond the old “side scroller”. There is a reason the Metroid series went first person. The only reason why I’m reviewing this game is because I downloaded the demo just to see what all the fuss was about.

Then something miraculous happened.

The game was just ridiculously fun to play. Save points occur often enough that the game can be played in short bursts, if you can actually force yourself to turn it off, but are far enough apart that there is a real challenge. The controls, for the most part, are excellently done. One of my long-standing complaints with platformers, even those that fuse with side-scrolling shooters, is the lack of precision in controlling the character. Aiming your weapons is a bit of a challenge at first, but with practice becomes fairly simple. I never felt like I was struggling with the controls and that is incredibly important.

The actual “Shadow Complex” is vast with many varied environments, hazards, and enemies. The game has an excellent pace, keeping the player engaged and allowing them to flex some muscle on occasion while making sure they get fresh challenges. I really appreciate that as you acquire new abilities some of the early opponents that are quite difficult become easy to dispatch in a variety of satisfying ways. Naturally, the game keeps ramping up the “bosses” so it never gets too easy but the player is not exposed to a challenge too early either.

The first boss fight sold me the game

The first boss fight sold me the game

SCREAMS: The game is “2.5D”, so there are times when you have side hallways that enemies can approach but you can’t travel down. In theory you can aim and shoot them, but sometimes you have your gun pointed at enemies and other times it’s pointing straight up. In this case the controls try to interpret your intention and it doesn’t always work.

Your ability to “wall climb” is limited, which is ok except that sometimes the game doesn’t register your attempt to jump off one wall to another Jackie Chan style. Also, one of your abilities is a grappling hook which is tons of fun but has the same problem as the wall climb. It can be very frustrating to see your grappling line bounce ineffectually off of a wall or ceiling.

Perhaps a personal preference, the game has many areas that are inaccessible early on that you can later unlock by using upgrades the game gives you. The problem here is that the upgrades needed seem to come about midway through the game, but then come quite often. This is kind of frustrating though because you can see areas that have extras you could get to but have to continually ignore because you haven’t acquired missiles yet or can’t double jump.

A common complaint is that you can trigger the endgame by accident. The good news is that if this happens you can simply end and restart from your last continue. This way you can still get any upgrades you may have missed. You cannot trigger the endgame sequence without at least having the basic abilities to beat it, so the game at least gives players the possibility of winning, though the challenge may be greater than it has to be if they are not sufficiently prepared.

Screenshots will not do this game justice

Screenshots will not do this game justice

VERDICT: Let me be clear here, this is my “2009 Game I Can’t Put Down” and I truly do feel this entire genre is well past it’s prime. This is a game I was determined to hate and love it anyway. You can’t rent it and I would recommend this as a BUY even if you could.

[20 Minute Review] inFAMOUS

infamous1

No, the title is not a typo. We’ve got a 20 minute review of inFAMOUS for you.

Brock and I both played through the game, one as good and the other as evil. Our initial goal was to have a special 4 Minute Review where we each took turns writing about the game. The more and more we discussed it, the more we began to realize that almost every aspect of the game flows into the narrative somehow.

We decided to get on Skype and make a rough recording and see what we came up with. So we present a 20+ minute conversation about inFAMOUS and we give our 2MRs at the end. Realize, that this is a rough cut. The only audio post-processing I did was leveling it.

Let us know your thoughts about the game after giving it a listen (which you can do online or download).

[audio:http://www.buttonmashing.com/audio/inFamous.mp3]

NOTE: RSS readers may have to come to the site to listen online.

[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.

[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.

[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!