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Archive for 21 April 2008

Wall-E This Summer

Another movie tie-in is due for release this summer on all major gaming platforms and hand-helds, Disney Pixar’s Wall-E.In the game players control Wall-E and EVE and guide them through an adventure base don the upcoming movie from Disney Pixar.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Skate Review

Back in the mid 90’s there was a skateboarding phenomenon, a video game that was embraced by not only gamers, but skaters too.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Review

The entertainment world has its fair share of famous crime-breaking duos – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise and Kane & Lynch.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Tomb Raider Anniversary Review

 While Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Anniversary does not bear the most innovative of titles, it certainly captures the essence of the game.  It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I first saw the tight tee-shirt and short wearing heroine named Lara.  I must say that she has aged well.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | 4

Eternal Sonata Review

Just before World War II kicked off, a statue of Chopin was put up in the upper part of Warsaw’s Łazienki Park and to this day piano recitals are performed beneath it to commemorate Chopin’s compositions.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Crysis Review

This has been a fantastic year for gamers with many highly anticipated titles being released.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Need for Speed ProStreet Review

It must be an interesting conundrum for EA: how to genuinely update their franchises each year and expand their appeal whilst avoiding alienating the hard-core fans.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Don King Presents: Prizefighter Announced

There’s something shady about Don King, I can’t put my finger on it, but you just know the guy has been involved in some dodgy boxing deals over the years.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08

Another year, another instalment of EA’s Tiger Woods golf games. It only seems like yesterday that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 was in my PlayStation 3 and as great as it was, there were still some aspects of the gameplay that needed further tweaking to make it an essential title.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Aion – Tower of Eternity Developer Interview

NCSoft’s latest developer interview for the MMORPG Aion features developer Kyoung Won Choi who gives more background on the game’s specific features.How extensive will Aion character customization be?In the game client, which was being showed at the Games Convention Leipzig ‘07, the player had the ability to choose between several different hairstyles, colours, shapes of their face, skin colours, character height and voice.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Ninja Reflex for Wii & DS Announced

The Wii excels at mini-games or anything that involves waving your arms around.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

The Witcher Review

Wow: (interjection) An exclamation of surprise, wonder, pleasure, or the like.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

The World Ends With You Released Next Year

Already released in Japan as Subarashiki Kono Sekai, Square Enix has announced that the game will be released in Europe next spring under the name The World Ends With You.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights Review

If it’s unusual for a games company to release an eponymous game, it must be unheard of for them to continue the series under their label’s moniker.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Activision Vivendi Merger Interview with Blizzard`s President and…

Rather unusually for a weekend there was a big announcement from both Vivendi and Activision as the two companies merge to form Activision Blizzard.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

NBA Live 08 Review

After a disastrous outing last season, EA Sports brings NBA Live 08 off the bench for the PlayStation 3 with a fully revamped game and we have the lowdown on well it performs on the hardwood.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

FIFA 08 Review

Every year, the FIFA series makes some slight improvements but always seems to end up playing second fiddle to Konami’s Winning Eleven franchise.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Clive Barker`s Jericho Review

PC gamers might be familiar with Clive Barker’s previous foray into the videogame space with the very good but somewhat under-appreciated 2001 horror first-person shooter, Undying.  Undying was a decent FPS that had an interesting storyline so we were eager to see if Clive Barker’s next project would hold the same type of promise for console gamers.  Well, I guess Undying got our hopes way too high since Jericho has about as much appeal as that egg salad sandwich sitting in break-room vending machine at work.The games gives you control of a supernatural version of the A-team called the Jericho Team, which is a Special Forces Unit whose members possess unique spells and weapons.  Their mission is to stop God’s first reject child, The Firstborn from destroying the world so where are they sent?  The Middle East, of course, where they do battle with evil minions as they try to push The Firstborn back to the Abyss.  The premise is far-fetched but could make for decent action game if done right.  Notice the caveat?  If done right.First off, the game’s graphics look fantastic on the PlayStation 3.  Your first thought is the game must be using the Unreal 3 engine.  Wrong – it is using the developer, Mercury Steam Entertainment’s own engine, which gives the game a highly polished look.  The high poly count of the in-game characters gives them excellent detail, especially the enemies.  It’s pretty obvious Clive Barker had some input on the look of the creatures and fortunately, the graphics engine allows enough detail to properly exhibit their grotesque form.  The creatures are really bizarre looking and perfectly complement the game’s disturbing surroundings.  The environments are also well suited to the story since they exhibit the decay and twisted images that could only come from the mind of Clive Barker.  Now, if only the rest of the game was as good.The idea of jumping into the shoes of various playable characters is not new in video games and Jericho tries to add some variety with the varying attributes of each different squad member but ultimately, it just doesn’t gel.  The biggest reason is due to your mentally challenged, suicidal squad mates.  You can heal members of your squad after they become incapacitated, which is fine but in Jericho it’s a full-time job.  These knuckleheads will stand out in the open and fire away without any qualms about taking a bullet to the head, shoulder, arm, chest, stomach, leg, foot – I think you get the idea.  This isn’t a good thing considering how intense the firefights are and the fact that enemies are pretty relentless when they charge at you.  Sometimes your teammates will use cover but it’s not often enough so they have to be constantly revived.  Beside yourself, the Preacher character is the only other team member who can heal so if he says his last prayer, then you’re the only one who can revive your team members.  If you bite it trying, then it’s back to the beginning of the level or checkpoint.  So much for kicking evil’s ass.There is a fair amount of depth with each character’s a**nal so you’ll be able to find one that suits you.  Since all of the characters have both standard weapons and supernatural powers, it won’t take long before you’ll get comfortable with a certain squad member.  My personal favorite was the telekinetic, Lt.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Rock Band Review

This has been a banner year for both console and PC gaming.  I have played quite a few five-star games this year.  Of all the releases, Rock Band is the one I have looked forward to most.  I am certainly not naive enough to think that my expectations of a game will be met (and this is usually the case).  Thankfully, Rock Band not only met my expectations, it surpassed them. 

Rock Band is a rhythm music game similar to Guitar Hero, but with the addition of drums, vocals and bass (also available in the GH games).  The peripherals are essential to the game and I am happy to report that they are all of seemingly high quality.  It is a game brought to us by the team that made the original Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II and Rock the 80’s.   With the backing of MTV and EA, Rock Band could not be better situated for success.   The guitar included with the 360 version is wired (as are the mike and drums) with a cord of sufficient length.  There is a breakaway release on the cord, similar to that seen on the original Xbox controllers.  Oddly, if you get a bit overzealous and yank the instrument, the USB is more likely to pull out of the dongle or port.  The guitar is very comfortable to use and has two sets of buttons.  One set is in the normal location (similar to GH) and the second is near the guitar body.  This is useful for both small-handed individuals and looks cool while playing guitar solos.  While I have read a few complaints about the guitar, I can honestly say I prefer it to the GH instrument (and wish it worked in GH, which, sadly, it does not).  The feel is much more guitar-like in that the buttons are recessed into the frets instead of raised. The guitar portion of the game is easy when compared with GH.  As a matter of fact, I was proficient on hard during the first run of most songs.  In GH, this is rarely the case.  The fret display also is easier to time due to the rectangular nature of the notes versus circles.  The hammer and pulls, however, are a bit harder to notice, as they are simply smaller rectangles. 

Rock Band has a feature similar to GH’s star power but is called “overdrive.”  While it is activated in the same way (raise the neck) it differs in that you can fill the overdrive meter even when it is active.  This means you can play some really long multiplier sections.  In addition to overview, there are some guitar solo sections in which you are rated on percentage of notes hit.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

The Simpsons Game Review

The Simpsons has had an interesting journey in the hearts and minds of a large portion of the western world.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Rail Simulator Review

I am sure I was not alone in my disappointment when Microsoft announced it was canceling Train Simulator II a while back.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Ghostbusters Officially Announced

Rumours have been rife about a new Ghostbusters title and Sierra has officially announced that a new Ghostbusters game is in the works.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Guitar Hero III Review

Where can you find a disk with songs from KISS, Metallica and Charlie Daniels?  Guitar Hero III.  Guitar Hero was introduced several years ago on the PS2.  Essentially it was a new take on the rhythm/music genre.  I am not sure where this game-type originated, but the first titles I can think of are Samba De Amigo (Dreamcast, I believe) and Amplitude for the PS2.  Neither of those titles was particularly main stream, but over the years the coordination challenge has grown into a serious contender for gamer dollars.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Medal of Honor Airborne Review

Since the days of Wolfenstein, I have never tired of hunting down virtual n**s.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Geometry Wars: Galaxies Gold

Geometry Wars: Galaxies has now gone gold for the Wii and DS.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | 7

NHL 08 Review

EA Sports hits the ice with its annual hockey game, NHL 08 and we skate with it in our version for the PlayStation 3.  EA battles 2K Sports every year for the crown of the best hockey game and the competition seems to be bringing the best out of EA’s hockey franchise and it shows with this year’s version exemplifying the NHL experience.The first thing you’ll notice about NHL 08 is the fact it isn’t a goal fest that you may be used to with more arcade-style hockey game.  The goalies are incredibly adapt at defending the net so when a puck does go in, it’s a big deal.  This fact alone changes the dynamics of the game since it forces you to take advantage any opportunity you have at scoring and to concentrate on playing a tough defensive game.  You can forget about crushing an opponent or making a miracle 5 goal comeback.  It isn’t going to happen in NHL 08.  Instead, you’ll be scratching and clawing in most of the games.  Sure, you might have a laugher once in awhile or get crushed by the CPU opponent but for most part, you can expect your palms to get sweaty as you battle your way through incredibly close games.         Here’s a great example when I started a season playing as the home team San Jose Sharks, of course.  I’m taking a 1-3 record into Vancouver as I face the always competitive Canucks.  With just few games under my belt, I start to get comfortable using the Skill Stick controls (right analog stick) for shooting the puck.  The Canucks are not as brutal as some of my earlier opponents but they’re still formidable.  I’m up 2 to nil going into the third period but the Canucks score quickly but since I’m playing 5 minute periods, I’m thinking I should be able to hold my one goal lead.  Well, so far so good since there’s only 35 seconds left in the game but the Canucks are mounting a furious offensive attack at my end of the rink.  I have my defenders clogging the lane but the Canucks manage to hit a slapshot high and into the top left corner of the goal.  Ouch!!I resign myself to having to go into overtime but there is still some time left in regulation so I think to myself, “What the hell?”  I’ll give it my best shot before going into overtime.  Ask any hockey fan and they’ll tell you the most exciting time in any hockey game is the last minute of a close game.  I’m able to get a face-off at the Canucks’ end with about 6 seconds left in the game.  I win the face-off – the puck flies over to a defender, who’s lined up directly facing the goal, about 30 feet out.  I take control of him and let a nice slapshot fly and the pucks finds the top left corner of the goal.  Score!!  A classic hockey moment and a perfect example of how NHL 08 successfully captures the intensity of professional hockey.Getting into the gameplay – the default setting for aggression is set below the mid-mark so NHL 08 leans more towards finesse right out of the box, which I actually prefer.  I’m okay with a more physical game but personally, I prefer hockey to be more about athleticism and skill – not the crew who has more effective goons.  When you do try to body check, it’s a bit more difficult to pull off than what you’re probably used to in previous versions of the game.  I’m not quite sure why the body-check control doesn’t utilize the Sixaxis motion control since it would have been a natural fit.  Instead, it’s mapped to the right analog stick.  The newly added one-on-one deke control reinforces the skill type of gameplay since it gives you the ability to completely fake out your opponent.  It takes some time to master and you have to time it right, otherwise you’re opponent will cut your maneuver short with a hearty check.  NHL 08 comes with a full suite of gameplay sliders so you can tweak the game to your liking so if you want a more aggressive style of game, then go for it.  I found the default settings for penalties to be too high resulting in way too many penalties being called.  I notched it down to the middle setting and ended up with what I felt was the right balance. There is a robust Dynasty mode, where you play a full season as an NHL team and its minor league AHL affiliate.  You can fill the shoes of both the GM and coach so there’s plenty to do if you’re into micro-managing your franchise.  There is also an in-depth practice mode, where you can work on your shooting and skating skills.  Other features include team and goalie practice as well as a highly intuitive video-based “Create-a-Play” where you literally draw up unique plays by assigning specific routes for all of your team members.  This is a great way to set up plays for using in certain game situations such as offensive rush attacks and power plays, just to name a few.  This is great for designing plays that use team members as decoys or maybe to bring in multiple shooters to the lane.  The cool thing about this feature is the play is automatically triggered when that certain scenario crops up in a game so if you have a three or two man rush attack on offense, the drawn play lines are superimposed on the ice so it’s like your playing on your own virtual coach’s clipboard – a very nice touch.Besides the gameplay itself, the graphics are excellent with the players and rinks having some nice detail.  The player’s faces look normal and their animations are exceptional.  The rinks are also impressive, especially the little details of flying ice from the skates and the skate marks on the ice itself.  It is also nice to see more attention being paid to the rendering of the fans, which complements the realism in the rink.  The only blemish I could find with the graphics is some distorted color reflections on the glass from the players’ uniforms when they set up for face-offs near the net.  It’s not a major deal but it’s still worth noting.  It’s also great to get this level of detail and not experience a hit to the framerate as the game runs as smooth as a freshly Zamboni-groomed rink.The sound is consistent with the visuals so no real complaints from here.  I like the small details such as the audible warnings from players when you have too many teammates over the blue line and that you’re close to going offsides.  I do wish there was more trash talking from the players and heckling from the fans but I never seem to be satisfied in this department with sports games.  On the announcing side, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement do a formidable job in providing an interesting and varied play-by-play and color commentary.  Their in-game comments also let you know what you need to work on during the game.  All the way around, the sound is what you would expect from a marquee-level sports game.     Multiplayer will also keep you busy with its varied offerings – standard team vs.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Warpath Review

It was with great surprise that I opened my mailbox and discovered Warpath was the next item in the review queue.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Colin McRae Dirt Review

The Colin McRae series of rally games first made their appearance on the original PlayStation console and immediately found an attentive audience with petrol heads and hardcore gamers alike.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts Review

Last year’s Company of Heroes from THQ gave the real-time-strategy genre an injection of vigor not seen in a long time.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off

Historical Games in your Pocket

The History Channel and Slitherine Strategies announce the expansion of their licensing relationship with the creation of The History Channel Pocket History line of games for the Nintendo DS.  Here is the official word:
The History Channel Pocket History titles will extend the mission and core legacy of both companies to bring history to a wider audience.

By Paul Younger | 21 Apr 2008 | Comments Off