Some Quick Game Reviews
Here’s a bunch of quick video game reviews for a bunch of games that I have on my X-Box 360 and Wii that I have not already written about. Hope you enjoy and let us know you’re thoughts on any of the games if you have played them. Almost all the games on this list can easily be found for less than 20 bucks, so if you are a gamer on a budget or are looking to play some games you missed hopefully this list can help you out. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
It’s very rare that I purchase a game and don’t play it to the end, especially when it’s something that I was highly anticipating to hit shelves. With Epic Mickey I wanted so bad to love the game. The darker look at the worlds favorite mouse, tons of characters from Disney’s early history, a very interesting story, and a neat use of the Wii’s motion controls. Epic Mickey had lots of great ideas going for it, but, for some reason, one of the mechanics of the game rendered it almost unplayable no matter how much I kept pushing forward. The camera system in this game is so horribly broken and frustrating that any enjoyment that I got from any of the great points of the game seemed moot as I fought with the camera 80% of the time I was playing. With all the mechanics that Epic Mickey took from the Zelda series, the one thing they should have ripped of 100% was the camera, and then this could have been a great game. I will probably go back and force myself to finish it up one day, but I need to make sure I achieve total zen before making that attempt. If this game interests you and you are willing to put up with one of the worst and slowest camera systems in a game, give it a shot, under the broken camera lies an interesting game and interesting use of a licence, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Remember pounding on extreme cultural stereotypes back in the NES days in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!. Well, this is the exact same thing with a graphical upgrade. You still control Little Mac, Doc wears pink, you punch King Hippo in the gut to knock him down, and all the classic characters make a reprise(with the exception of Mike Tyson for obvious reasons). The game also controls just like the original as you hold the Wiimote on its side and play just like you did back in the day. A complete nostalgia-fest.
Nintendo could have stopped at just the aforementioned, but they went ahead and added a few upgrades to the game to add to its replayability. There are challenge modes to conquer after you finish the main game(which shouldn’t take you that long), and these ramp up the difficulty quite well. Don’t feel bad when you take your first ever fall against Glass Joe ;) You can also opt to use motion controls and the Wii Balance Board, but I found that the classic way was much more comfortable(probably the old-school gamer in me). If you find this one in your local bargain bin pick it up, it’s a ton of fun and a great blast from the past.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Well, it’s a Zelda game and follows the pedigree that the series is known for, it’s nothing less than awesome. How does it stack up against the rest, quite well, but when compared to the rest of the series main releases, I can’t say that Twilight Princess is the best. It has an interesting story for a Zelda game and has a ton of fun dungeons and boss battles, and mechanically, graphically, and aesthetically it is great. But this is a more dark look at the series with lots of drab colors and lacks anything bold and vibrant, a key draw for me to keep me returning back to this much-loved series. Even the music, while being very good and well orchestrated, has a much darker tone to it.
But, even if its atmosphere doesn’t exactly grip me, I can not deny it was a great, and huge, game. As with any game in the series, Twilight Princess is a must play.
On a side note, I’m currently playing the new Skyward Sword and let me tell you, you need to play this game, I may be calling it best in series soon(need to at least finish it first).
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Consider this game pure fan service, something that Nintendo does very well. It’s 2D Mario running and jumping just like you remember from yesteryear with a few tweaks added to increase the fun. Along with a shiny new paint job, Luigi no longer has to wait for Mario to jump into a pit or walk into a Goomba for his turn. This time Luigi can push Mario into a pit or throw him into a menacing Goomba. With up to 4 players simultaneously running and jumping on the screen at the same time things can get pretty hectic, and that half the fun. The other half is completely screwing over all the other players almost turning this into a tweaked out version of Smash Bros.
I had a blast playing this game, with other people and also in single player. The main game is a bit simple for seasoned Mario gamers, but going for 100% is where the real challenge for old-schoolers lie. Getting all the hidden dragon coins is a hell of a challenge and the bonus star levels are some of the toughest in Mario history. I totally recommend this game to gamers young and old.
Super Mario Bros. All Stars
It’s the same exact game that was released on Super Nintendo in the 90’s. Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3 plus the real Super Mario Bros. 2, AKA The Lost Levels, all with a 16-bit graphical upgrade. I was kind of disappointed with the effort put into this. They could have included Super Mario World, some more Japanese versions of the game, and a much more comprehensive history of Mario than they did(it comes with a book that shows a few screens of all the Mario game and some facts here and there), a well produced documentary on Mario would have been real cool. What I really would have like to have seen included in this package is the original version of Doki Doki Panic, which was the game Nintendo re-skinned and branded as the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2.
If anything it’s great to go back and play these timeless classics from time to time on my shiny HDTV. And the big clincher for me really wanting this package originally was that it came included with a CD with tons of music and sound effects from all the Mario games.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
I know I already posted a review of Donkey Kong Country Returns, but I just wanted to reiterate how awesome this game is. For me this is side-scrolling 2D platforming at its absolute best. Everything in this game just works perfectly. The controls are flawless, the music is catchy and fun, the challenge doesn’t hold your hand in the least, and you play as a big monkey collecting bananas with his side-kick monkey who has a rocket pack and a gun that shoots peanuts. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a video game. In a day and age where games are getting more complex and serious, DKCR was a breath of fresh air and proves that all games don’t need to be “hardcore” to be great(even if there is a “hardcore” challenge in this game). Don’t have this game and have a Wii? What are you waiting for?
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Have you ever wanted to see Bowser punch Mario so hard he disappeared into space? Wanted to see Solid Snake pound on a Pokemon? Link give a stern backhand to Zelda? Well here you can get all of that plus play out whatever “who would win in a fight” Nintendo battle. SSBB lets you pit up to 4 of your favorite Nintendo characters(plus one non-Nintendo) in battle to see who can slap the other off the screen the hardest. It’s chaotic, it’s massive, and it’s a ton of fun to play.
All the different control layouts you can use work very well and if you wish you can opt to use the Wii Game Pad or even the Gamecube controller if you wish. Not much more to say on this one other than it’s fun to play alone and a blast to play with when your friends are over.
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption may very well be the best thing that Rockstar Studios have ever put forth. There is nothing not to love about this game. One of the best narratives in a game yet, beautiful and lush lands to explore, 3 dimensional characters, a great sense of humor, gambling, being a cowboy, I could go on all day listing all the great things about this game, but I’ll save you the time and just say, play this game.
I really hope that Rockstar keeps branching out with their games as they have done here and with L.A. Noire. GTA is great, but it is starting to get a bit tired, and nothing wakes a gamer up like a bit of variety(and coffee or Mtn. Dew).
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Best Super Hero game ever? You bet your ass it is. Everything that one could want in a Batman game is here. With a mix of great pacing, varied gameplay that shifts from fun rhythm based combat to clever stealth sections, and a wonderful atmosphere that really captures the spirit of Batman, this game is a winner in every sense. Now that the sequel is(which I’ve heard is even better than this!!) out you should be able to find this in the bargain bin quite easily. Don’t shy away from Batman because it is a licensed game, it truly is one of the best super hero experiences available.
Mass Effect 1&2
If you like the idea of a story driven game where you can choose your own path seems appealing to you, but your standard RPG is a bit to slow and dull for your tastes the Mass Effect series might be right up your alley. One part Star Wars, one part Star Trek, and one part Gears of War this sci-fi epic will keep you hooked from beginning to end.
Graphically the games are some of the best available and their aesthetic doesn’t make misuse of the graphical power house the game is. The voice acting is constantly top-notch with the actors really doing their best to submerge you in the game world and the gunplay is a blast as you shoot through waves of aliens with futuristic firearms and various telekinetic powers.
The RPG elements play out excellently also as conversations you have with NPCs flow naturally and your choice of responses can dramatically affect the direction the story takes, and it even bleeds over into the next game.
This was a great find in a bargain bin. While it still falls on some cheap scare tactics such as creatures jumping out of nowhere, Dead Space created one of the most scary gaming experiences I’ve been on since Silent Hill 2. The atmosphere and sense of danger and urgency in the game is unlike any other I have recently played. As you explore the Ishimura Space Station you soon discover the horrible truth as to what has happened to its inhabitants and go to make you escape while you learn even more of the disturbing truth.
This game is also brutal. Instead of the usual “cut the head off and the body dies” approach most horror games(and every other game) have, you need to dismember your grotesque enemies limb by limb leading to one of the goriest and strategic shooter experiences available. Graphically the game looks great and the clever way all your necessary information is grafted into your characters space suit resulting in no stats such as health or ammo left really adds to the great atmosphere of Dead Space. If you enjoy horror or 3rd person shooter games definitely give this a spin. The sequel is on my pile of game to play, so expect my thoughts on how the follow-up fares soon.
Bioshock ushered in the next wave of video games. While on its surface it may seem to be a typical FPS where you can shoot fire out of your hands, it goes so much deeper than that. You play as a character who has found himself in an underwater self-proclaimed paradise city known as Rapture. In Rapture rules against what is right and wrong are look at much differently. Scientists and artists are no longer held back by morality and Raptures chosen inhabitants are encouraged to live their lives as they see fit…. Under the watchful eye of Andrew Ryan. Part Ayn Rand, Part George Orwell, Bioshock crafted a deep and thought provoking narrative unlike any game before it. While the game play is fun, the story is the reason that every gamer needs to play this game, no if and or buts.
The sequel is a different story. While the narrative is still pretty good, and the gameplay is built upon, it just didn’t live up to the genius of its predecessor. It’s still a great game, but there is a reason I’ve played through the original about 6 times now and the second only once.
Out right bat-sh*t crazy Bayonetta is. You play as a witch who can summon man-eating dragons and giant high heel shoes from her hair, which also doubles as her body suit, to crush, kill, and maim various grotesque angels sent from Heaven to stop you from saving the world along with a plethora of various other weapons like ice skates, guns attached to each of your 4 limbs, and a dominatrix whip…. There is some kind of story going on in this game but I eventually got lost and gave up on it, but the gameplay is so tight that the lack of story didn’t affect my sublime enjoyment of Bayonetta one bit. It plays similar to Devil May Cry and it contemporaries, just a lot tighter and better. With hundreds of different combos strewn throughout various weaponry and a great “bullet-time” dodging system, Bayonetta is nothing short of a blast to play.
This is definitely not a game for those who are easily frustrated either. On normal mode the game kicked my ass, and each time I failed it was for a completely fair reason, the game is never cheap, it just requires your full attention at all times. I eventually made it though on hard mode and am currently making an attempt at the ultra hard mode. Only gameplay as tight as this will keep me coming back for this amount of punishment. Like action games, you need to buy Bayonetta now, it should be nice and cheap in the bargain bin as it has been out for a couple of years now.
Assassin’s Creed 1&2
The Assassin’s Creed series is pretty cool. While there may be some minor issues such as iffy controls and repetitious quests and action sequences, it makes up for it with an interesting sci-fi story and some wonderful game worlds. Actually, as charming as Ezio from the second entry is, the real character that steals the show is the various cities that you run, bound, and leap through on your way to assassinate your target. In the first you go through ancient Damascus during the Crusades and the developers did their homework creating lifelike architecture that makes you feel as if you were actually there. In the second game they upped the quality and research and brought you to Renaissance Italy, and me actually living in the country, can vouch for the amount of attention that was put into all the historical landmarks and cities. Even if they may not be an exact copy of the cities(street names, exact locations, etc.) the feel of each of the locales is wonderfully captured. And usually I play all my game in English since it is my mother tongue, Assassin’s Creed 2 actually worked better in the overdubbed Italian language. Makes me wonder why the developers just didn’t record the parts in Italy in Italian and put subtitles if they were going for a full on immersion feel. Both are well worth checking out, but I do have to say part 2 is by far superior than its previous, and you don’t miss too much if you skip over part one.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band(various)
What is there to say about the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. You get a little plastic guitar or drums and a mic and pretend you’re a rockstar. It’s a ton of fun and even if you are already proficient at the respective instruments, it still a blast to play as it is quite different from hammering away on the good ol’ six string(you don’t need to pay as much attention, for one). If you love music and haven given these games a shot you’re missing out on a great experience.
My favorites in the series include Guitar Hero:Metallica, well, because it is a whole game dedicated to METAL!!!!! And Rock Band: Beatles is also awesome with its beautiful original background videos that play as you play the game, the ability to use multiple mics to do harmony vocals(and it works really well), and the great selection of Beatles songs. On a whole I tend to prefer the Guitar Hero games because they seem to embrace metal a bit more than the other.
Final Fantasy XIII
With the 13th entry in the main series, Final Fantasy XIII continues to provide the same high quality of JRPG gaming. Going back to 7 and 8’s futuristic art style the game is an absolute beauty to look at. All the backgrounds, enemy and character designs, and level designs are just oozing with polished style. This time around there is yet another tweak in the battle system, and one of the best ones made yet. Instead of individually selecting attacks and commands for your party you choose between a set of specific auto-battle options for you party members to automatically carry out. For example, you can set one to be a healer, one to do magic damage, and the other to cast debuffs. At first it seems that this might be a bit boring to play, but it is the most fast paced battle system of the series yet. You will be constantly switching battle roles to gain an edge on your opponents and timing and strategy is key to getting the best of your foes.
The story this time around is as always excellent and overly melodramatic, nothing new for the series. If anything, it takes a little bit to get off the ground before it starts to get real interesting, those who stick with it will be greatly rewarded.
The main complaint about this entry is it is very linear. I can’t say that this not the most linear in the series, but I really didn’t find it as detracting as many people have said and no less linear than Final Fantasy X. The linear style kept everything moving and helped with the fast pace (for an JRPG) of the game. The game should take about 60 hours of playtime for a straight playthrough, and now I am pushing 90 hours working on the side quests and various other item hunting quests. If you are a fan of JRPGs this is a well worthy addition to your collection.
If you have played a game in the Katamari Damacy series, Beautiful Katamari is more of the same and just as fun. For those who are unaware of this oddball series the game plays out like this. You roll a ball around different environments and objects from the environment stick to your ball making it grow bigger. As you ball gets bigger, larger stuff sticks to it, and so on. Your goal is usually to make a ball a certain size within a time limit, but other objectives do pop up here and there.
Mix the cool gameplay mechanic with the Legos meet Japanese artstyle, catchy soundtrack, and many moments of WTF and you got yourself one hell of a fun game. Seriously, if you have never played a Katamari game you need to check them out. I found this for only 10 bucks, a complete steal.
The Orange Box
I’ll keep this one short. Buy this now! The best deal in gaming history. Half Life 2 plus the expansions, the mind-blowing Portal, and the super fun online team shooter Team Fortress 2 all in one package which I’ve seen being sold for as little as 15 bucks. No video game collection should be without these games.
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
The amount of hours I sunk into this game is uncountable (ok, somewhere in the 2-300s) and there are still some stones I have yet to turn over. Until its sequel (Skyrim) hit recently Oblivion was the biggest game to be released on a console.
If your itching for a first person game that doesn’t involve shooting things and feel more comfortable swinging a gun and wielding spells this game is for you. The combat is fun and varied and the story is fathoms deep and very entertaining. Since it came out near the 360’s launch and the sequel is out Oblivion is a bit dated, but like any good game, the fun factor makes up for the antiquity of it. If you somehow finish Skyrim and stumble across this for a nice price it is well worth picking up.
On paper this game sounds like it would be a sure win. Guy can fly anywhere on a jetpack and get into dogfights with alien spacecraft while he tackles enemies both in air and on the ground with Gears of War style shooting mechanics. And good ol’ Nicolas Tesla joins in on the ride to give you a hand escaping from the alternate reality your character has found himself sucked into. TBH, I was sold at ‘jetpacks’. Unfortunately, Dark Void was a big let down. If more work went into the game, it could have been something awesome. The full on flying and dog fighting parts a tons of fun but are so few and far in between and the lack of them really mars the game as you spend more time than you should on foot. The ‘shoot and cover’ is finicky and imprecise leading to many cheap wins and deaths and overall just plain frustrating. If you wish you can use your jetpack when ever you want, but going from ground to air is very confusing and disorienting and picking off enemies on the ground from the air isn’t as cool as you might think.
In the end, the game felt unfinished (which became even more clear to me when I watched the half assed ending scene) and many ideas left only half realized, which is a shame because Dark Void could have been an awesome game with a bit more love put into it. If you get this game for free it should be worthwhile playing but I wouldn’t recommend paying money for it.
Ninja Gaiden II
Since its inception back in the NES era the Ninja Gaiden series has been known as one of the most hardcore difficult game series every conceived. It’s reboot on the original XBox was a work of pure genius and its sequel looks to continue in its path. While far from being a bad game, the second entry in the reboot series just doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The action is fast paced and action packed and the game is filled with crazed ninjas and grotesque monsters and demons. You get a ton of cool weapons to fight with (my favorite were the Wolverine claws) and a few cool magic spells to decimate your opponents with. All in all its a fun action game with a serious challenge.
My problem with it is that often times the challenge comes from bad camera control which leads to many cheap shots and unnecessary deaths. In the previous game, if you died (which happened a whole lot) it was you own damn fault for not paying attention or muffing up a combo, here, the majority of failures will come by some enemy leaping out of nowhere or an archer or grenadier attacking you from some spot you can’t see unless you tweak the camera in a weird position, which is neigh impossible when taking on 4 ninjas and 3 crazed demons. This didn’t ruin the game completely for me, but it didn’t make the game any more fun. If you find this on the cheap it’s worth playing if you can get past the technical difficulties, just be warned, you will suffer many unfair deaths.