Archive for August, 2007
From the Underground (FTU) is our new section for games that, while amazing, were unfortunately overlooked when they were released. The Game Usagi has gone out of its way to dig these games up from the underground to bring to light for its readers. To start us off is a game that has quickly started taking up more and more of my portable gaming time. Burnout has always been a good series on all of the systems that have housed its iterations. This is especially true on the PSP. Now, Sony and I have never gotten along very well. So it would take an extra special game for me to acknowledge greatness on the industry's #2 portable. Albeit, the greatness does not neccessarily come from Sony, but from EA. Sony did, however, take the leap of faith in making an over-powered portable that made this game possible. Burnout Legends (BL) gives gamers incredible speed, silky smooth framerate, amazing graphics, and the ability to wreck some very fancy cars. The World Tour mode is where I've been spending most of my time, as it presents one with varied challenges and the ability to unlock new cars and events for superior performances. With 80-some cars to unlock and a plethora of adrenaline-charged races, BL is a must for any PSP gamer, even ones (like myself) who are not in to racing games at all. For likely the vast majority of you without PSPs, is this game a system-seller? Perhaps. I think that the PSP has other games more worthy of that title (Me & My Katamari, Crush, and Loco Roco). The PSP is a solid system, even though I enjoy my DS more. Hopefully Sony will keep trying to keep this portable afloat, as I'm anxious for even more unique, original, or just plain fun games for it.
Hours played: ~ 3-4 hours
I'm going to start off this review with a disclaimer which is that I absolutely adored the Mega Man Battle Network (MMBN) series on the GBA. This, of course, is going to have much bearing on my review of the new StarForce (SF) games, because they are the spiritual successors to the Battle Network games.
The games essentially operate in the exact same way as the MMBN. You control a human who has a virtual counterpart (Mega Man-style) and you fight viruses in computers while collecting battle chips. There are many spins on the classic formula, though, that both enhance and hinder the gameplay as a whole.
One essential difference that SF has from the MMBN games is that the battles are now in a pleasant 3D, and your movement within this plane is essentially limited to three "squares" as opposed to the 9 in MMBN. I honestly thought that this would be a bigger hindrance than it ended up being. There's a nice new lock-on feature that can be used at any time with most battle chips that allows you to jump right in front of the enemy and attack as opposed to doing so from far away. This move brings all new usefulness to the sword-based battle chips in the game. Also, now when you perform a counter-attack, instead of dealing double damage on the next battle chip blow, you are instead afforded an extra random chip from your folder to battle with that turn.
The in-battle chip system also functions differently. Instead of having chips with letters allowing for match-ups, the battle chips are arranged into three columns of two. You can always pick the chips in the same column with each other, or you could opt to pick identical chips that show up instead. The chips also appear in one of two colours, silver and yellow. The yellow ones are bound to column rules, but the silver ones can be used in conjunction with any other chip set.
There are only two annoying "changes" in the game that I have observed thus far. One is that instead of just "jacking in" to objects, you now have to discover that they can be "pulsed into", and then find a central hub to pulse into (to change into Mega Man) to then run around in the overlayed "EM world" (electro magnetic world) (not the internet, but it's successor) until you can once again find the object, and then you have to use the touch screen (randomly) to pulse into the object. This entire scenario is a decent and superfluous step backward for these Mega Man RPG games. My second qualm with the game is that the main world still has what can easily be classified as GBA graphics. The DS can do much better. They should have AT THE VERY LEAST added some extra animations to the characters to make them seem more lively, but I would be contented only if they used nice 3D graphics for the outer world as was very briefly shown in a clip montage when the DS was first shown at E3.
Usagi score: 9 / 10
After playing through the demo a few times, I must say that I'm impressed. Until I played the BioShock demo, I gave credit to The Darkness as having the best console FPS graphics to date. I must say that BioShock's (BS) graphics beat out The Darkness by a decent margin. The gameplay is intense, the story is told in real time through varied methods, and the game is also kinda freaky. The magic-like "plasmids" used in the game are fun and accompanied by good effects all around. The enemies all actually talk (minus the Big Daddies), which I wasn't expecting, so that was kinda cool.
On the down side, I have to say that the game didn't feel as free-roaming as it has been purported to be. This may be because it was only a demo, and let's hope that it gives the player a better sense of exploration when it comes out on the 27th. I also found the very, very hyped-up water graphics to only be "quite good" instead of "mind blowing". A lot of the time you can tell where they're using sprites instead of polygons and the water doesn't bounce of your character at all. With that said, I was impressed that (for the most part) when water is pouring somewhere, the place will actually start to fill up with water as opposed to the water magically disappearing like it does in most games. I have to say that I was at least equally impressed with the graphics and water effects in BS as I was with the Black Site: Area 51 demo.
I am still very much looking forward to this game, and I already have a Collector's edition pre-ordered. If the demo is any indication, this game will be an FPS to be remembered for a good while.
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