Archive for March, 2008

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News: Sonic Unleashed Screens!

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Sonic Unleashed

New screens have emerged today of what may be the next Sonic game. Both the resolution and the general quality seem to point to the game being on either the 360 or PS3, but SEGA loves Nintendo, so some sort of similar Sonic game can essentially be assured. There are screens both from cinematics and supposed in-game play, and the difference between the two should be obvious. I'm looking forward to this game already, it looks like (if they're real) SEGA's trying to get Sonic back to his old awesome as opposed to the loading and bug laden last Sonic games. You can download a .ZIP file of the images here: Edit: A video from the Xbox 360 version of the game has been leaked! The screens are apparently from the 360 version as well. You can watch the after the jump: Edit 2:  Confirmed!  Sonic Unleashed was officially accounced by SEGA to be on its way to Wii, 360, PS3, and PS2 this year.

DS: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Ring of Fates

Play time: 6 hours Progress: Main character - Lv. 25, Area - Sinner's Isle Well, to preface this review, I have to say that I don't like Final Fantasy games. I think that they're too slow with their really turn-basedness, even XII, which tries to be sort of real time. But, I did enjoy FFCC on the GameCube quite a bit. It had beautiful graphics, awesome music, the cutest Moogles ever, and a realtime battle system. Luckily for me, so does Ring of Fates (RoF). Graphics: This is probably the best-looking DS game that I own. Not just because of the poly-count, but also because the art direction is as solid as you would expect from Square Enix (Squeenix). Luckily for everyone, Squeenix took this game very seriously and delivered a great visual experience. Environments are colourful when they need to be, (relatively) realistic otherwise. The characters have a decent level of expression, especially considering that this is a DS game. Overall, I give these graphics a "sweet". Sound: The sound isn't quite as awesome as the graphics. When there is voice acting, it's always okay, but rarely awesome. I particularly like the Yuke named Alhanalem whose voice sounds like Mickey Mouse sometimes, but he always ends his sentences with "Al". Well, words ending in "al". For example, "I have tended to your injuries physical" (he puts more emphasis on the "al" part). Otherwise, it's pretty much what you'd expect. Some of the sound effects are borrowed from the GCN Crystal Chronicles, and other Final Fantasy games. Just enough to make it feel comfortable as opposed to derivative. I'd give the sound a "pretty good". Controls: Okay, this is pretty much the only part of the game that I find flawed. I don't normally enjoy games that force you to use your thumbs on the touchscreen (ala Jump Ultimate Stars). If your movements and attacks are controlled primarily through buttons, then so should everything else. The touchscreen should just be used for menus. Well, that's not the case in RoF. On the left side of the screen, you have your character selection, which you have to do with your thumb. And that basically sucks. It's not fast enough in battle, or if one of your party has wandered off (I'll cover that in Gameplay) and you need to save them before they die and become all transparent and even more useless. The Select button isn't used at all when you're on the battlefield, and would have been fine for optionally cycling through your characters. Similarly with items like magicites (from FFCC, the magic orbs that contain the equivalents of things like Phoenix Downs, various attacks, and potions), ether bottles (that restore SP) and potions (HP, duh). There are ten of these guys and they're in two columns of buttons on the right side of your bottom screen. There's no way to switch which of these you have equipped, or drop them, without the use of the touch screen. Even though you can utilize them by pressing X. Tribe Abilities, which will also be discussed shortly, also make use of the touch screen, and are therefore mostly useless in battle. I usually just find myself hitting junk with the A button and healing myself with the X button, with either Potions or Cure Magicites selected. And that's the game for me. There's no time to switch magicities and use them when fighting bosses, and you never really need them for the little guys, so that is that. I give the controls a "grr...". Gameplay: Even with the lacking controls, gameplay ends up being pretty enjoyable. As characters come and join your party, you will gain abilities (Tribal ones, even) that allow you to reach different parts of levels. Yukes can use magical totem thingies to make things like blocks and vines appear, Clavats can whack stuff with their weapons, Lilties can roll around in a pot over things like spikes and lava (they can also use these pots to float and fly depending upon the circumstances -- pretty cool pots), Selkies can jump like Sonic the Hedgehog (which is very useful, I wish the Clavats could do that) and shoot arrows. These will have you switching characters often to reach items, or new parts of the map. If you can make it somewhere with one of the characters in your party, everyone can go there too through the magic of the L button. You hit that guy and all of your minions (the party characters that you're not currently controlling) will Star Trek-warp behind you, seemingly to help, but more often to just stand there. The friendly AI in this game straight up sucks. They pretty much don't attack enemies unless they're standing on top of them (which you can do, incidentally. You can grab on to most enemies and even huck them around, but you rarely have the time to do this whilst fumbling with the touchscreen and hating your teammates), and then they pretty much act like the game's turn-based and only attack every now and then. Magicite combination is also an issue. The enemy that you're fighting pretty much has to be standing still and not attacking at all for you to combine magicites. This was a big thing in the GCN FFCC, where whenever you used a magicite, your Moogle carrying the crystal to keep away the miasma would use a complimentary one as well. While this action is technically possible in the game, in practice, it never happens. This is because you, yourself, have to switch between the characters one by one and point all of their respective magicite reticules at the same spot. Meanwhile, you've died because that fireball thingy isn't going to sit around while you conjure crap. One major, MAJOR improvement in this game is the lack of miasma. There is no crystal bearer like in FFCC that everyone has to stay around and who can kill anyone at any time by randomly stopping, or running the wrong way. Early demo videos of the game showed characters carrying around a "crystal-bucket" and essentially having to follow that person around in much the same manner as FFCC. So far, this hasn't been the case. I'm unsure if they'll bring this up eventually, but so far I'm enjoying the freedom. Equipment buying, crafting and equipping works pretty much the same as FFCC, but you can't carry around food anymore. When you pick up that Star Carrot, your gluttonous self automatically stuffs it down his/her face as though they haven't eaten. Ever. So, they're basically pick-me-ups as opposed to viable health sources most of the time. All equipment that you put on directly effects the appearance of your character, and you'll often find yourself wearing really ugly clothes, or ones that clash horribly, (like a pointy metal helmet with horns and what looks like a yellow dress) just because it ups your attack by 2. Overall, gameplay gets a "nice". Storyline: No spoilers, but I have to say that, unlike FFCC, the storyline exists! Albiet it has you controlling a Clavat most of the time (didn't bug me, because they're my favourite, but it might bug you), but having characters with proper personality and development instead of wandering around and running across random cutscenes. The cutscenes are all real-time rendered, so don't expect any Crisis Core or Brawl kinda stuff going down, but they're enjoyable and serve their purpose well. Overall, the storyline gets a "cool". Overall: Pros: + No more miasma! + Great graphics and sound + Actual storyline + Moogles are awesome + Lots of equipment and stuff Cons: - Random touchscreen use - General controls - Blatantly dumb friendly AI - Recycling of boss battles - Not enough save points! Therefore, this game has earned a:



Silver Usagi Award

360/PS3: Army of Two

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Army of Two

On the surface, games can appear to be flawless, enjoyable and worth 60 dollars. Sometimes, though, you're going to have to look deep, deep down to find these flaws. I searched for it, and sadly enough I found it. It was less of a deep, deep down and more of a start, a down, and an A button away... darn you multiplayer... darn you... Visual & Audio: Visuals surprised me in the way that I thought that this game was going to be very dark and gloomy. Little did I know that if the sun hits just right, you can see the shiny smile on that terrorist's face as you blow him to kingdom come! They really hit a homerun with the weather effects along with gloom and what not. Audio is what is expected from this title; accurate. From hearing the sound effects from so many games, the gun shots all start to sound very similar. >_< But gun sounds will be gun sounds, what can you do? The real audio that catches attention is the mid-game voice-overs. When playing the campaign, you will constantly hear the two main characters arguing or just plain talking about whats going on, which is by the way, very entertaining. Gameplay: If you played Gears of War and liked it, then you will probably enjoy playing Army of Two. Both Gears and AoT were made using the Unreal engine, so you're going to get a similar feel while shooting and controlling. Army of Two is played as an over the shoulder third-person shooter. As an army of two you will often find your self cowering behind crates and other objects as you fight for your -CENSORED DUE TO SPOILERS-. This will feel like mix between a run and gun and a stop and pop shooter. Aggro plays a big role in how you play the game. I probably won't do a good job at explaining this, but I will do my best. Aggro is what your teammate has if everyone is paying attention to him. So if every terrorist in site is firing at him, that means he has all the aggro and they don't even notice you. In Army of Two you have an aggro meter that shows who has all the aggro, if your teammate has it he will be glowing red and you, not having aggro, will be slightly transparent. The possibilities after that aren't endless, but it is pretty funny running straight up the middle and taking out three guys who aren't looking at you. You have a variety of weapons to choose from. Depending on how you like to play you can choose a assault rifle, or even a grenade launcher. But when playing, you will often find yourself with no ammo, or it might just be me because I have a tendency to use one entire clip on a guy even if he is already on the ground. Almost every weapon can be upgraded with barrels, grips, bigger magazines, etc. If you want, you can even upgrade your weapon with what they like to call "pimp". If you pimp your weapon it then becomes golden. The only thing that that does is change the colour and give you more aggro. You can play this game however you like, whether it be staying back and using the whole pop'up and pop'em in the face with your sniper rifle, assault rifle, or pistol or running in with your shot gun pushing Y to roll, pulling matrix-like moves and punching the terrorist in the face! I like using the second opinion, but here is a tip: if you are playing with a friend, then I would avoid using that technique on the account that your teammate is going to get very pissed, or will be running up along side you through this whole ordeal with their own shotgun... which can lead to sweet victory or a tasteless (or salty) defeat... :( This game has three different difficulties: Recruit, Contractor and Professional. I am currently playing on Professional (play time has been altered on the basis that Super Smash Brothers and school own me). So far, Professional hasn't been too hard. There's occasional outbursts of terrorist AK's that will have you restarting from a checkpoint. The same can happen if you have teammates who play superhero kamikaze... people don't like that... The melee system is what had me saying "Army of Two, you dropped the ball". To melee an enemy you must run up to that terrorist and push R trigger, the same button to shoot. This leads to a lot of problems, first problem is that you keep firing your weapon instead of actually hitting the guy, that makes is so that you are now reloading and the terrorist can do with what he pleases. Second problem is that its always a gamble to see who will actually get the kill. There is another problem but I will confront that later in the multiplayer section. Multiplayer & AI Co-op: The AI can often be a problem at times, sometimes he has the need to follow you when you specifically tell him to stay right where he is, or you may want him to follow you so he can boost you up to finish the mission, but he decides that he should stay right there, lodged between two rocks. I strongly suggest playing offline splitscreen or online co-op with a friend. This game does not cut out anything online from the offline campaign. Online with a friend will have you laughing every 5 minutes due unexpected situations. If you so choose, you can run up to your friend and push A to give him kudos, or you can smite him down with a backhand or a punch to the face. This is really cool idea and looks really funny, but the problem is that to hit your friend you use the R trigger, the same button to shoot, and the same button to hit the enemy! So Army of Two now turns into Army of One when it comes to hitting the enemy because you fear your might hurt your friend. Online Versus: You and a friend can team up to fight two other people online. You can even have two people from the same console fighting two other people online. Versus has three different game modes you can play: Warzone (a battle mode where there are NPCs scattered all over the map, and your objective is to assassinate someone, blow up something, or save and bring someone back to a helicopter before the other team does), Extraction (the same as Warzone, but your only objective is to save and bring people back to your helicopter, while the other team is trying to do the same), and Bounties (the same as everything else only your trying to assassinate and blow things up before the other team does). I have this to say about multiplayer, WHY!? Your goal in multiplayer is to gain money, everything you do will have you gain money. If you do the objective at hand you will gain more money than anything else, such as killing the other team or random NPCs. Online's melee is exactly the same offline, but now you're fighting against actual humans so someone is always going to come out angry. When you die, you have the choice to wait 10 seconds and respawn, or wait for your friend to run over top of you and push A to heal you. All it takes to revive your teammate is to push A, so when you're having a two vs one situation, the other team just has to run around you pushing R and A and they will win because they just need to hit you once and you're done. My friend and I were playing online yesterday, and for some odd reason we could not beat these guys in any close range fight, but it was great for us because we would get to the objective first, blow it up, and then we would both lose the fight. We would then respawn on the other side of the map, exactly where the new objective was, so now we would just finish assassinating someone when the team would show up and kill us. It went on until we were beating these guys by 2 million. Pros: + Co-op Through Entire Campaign + Different Playing Styles + Variety and Upgradeable Weapons + Kick-Anus Storyline Cons: - AI Isn't Very Smart - Melee System Needs Work - Far Too Many NPCs Online I give Army of Two a:




Thursday, March 6th, 2008



Play Time: 4½ Hours Progress: 35 Single Player Missions Cleared Addicting, fast paced, neato physics, multiplayer mayhem and the power to be a pink ninja. From a small flash game to a 10 dollar xbox 360 live arcade game, this game has evolved to have everything that I want in an arcade game!... and maybe you too. Visuals & Audio: The audio for N+ is all techno and very up-beat. It stays stuck in your head long after you play the game, but remember, others don't like to hear it when you're nowhere near an Xbox 360. From flying missiles and explosions, to breaking legs and "splatting" body pieces, this game's sound effects are spot on. Yes the game is blocky, but the blocks are so... smooth? Graphics are clear, colours are bright and characters are distinctive (my standards are set by the fact that this is an XBLA game). Overall these visuals are "sweet & awxum" :). Gameplay: N+ has addictive gameplay, PERIOD! The gameplay is fast at most times, but can often halt when you are confronted by a difficult level that has you restarting from right at the beginning multiple times. If you have played this game you will say "the levels are short, so who cares if you start from the beginning", well I debate your outburst with an "I CARE!" Seriously though, some levels are really hard. While this often makes for a good challenge, it could end up hurting someone (or something, like a kitten) in your vicinity. I have yet to discuss the mechanics of the game, so I guess I better jump on that. You're a small ninja packed into a variety of different sized rooms. Most levels contain big rooms, but you will occasionally get the small rooms. No worries, though, because the room size does not decide the balance of the difficulty that you will face. Your objective is to flip a switch, usually on one side of the room, that opens up a door on a different side of a room. You then enter this now opened door to complete the level, but all at the same time you must avoid hazards such as proximity mines and evil destructive laser shooting, ninja homing, turret firing ROBOTS! Oh, by the way, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN MAPS BECAUSE IT HAS IT'S VERY OWN MAP EDITOR! Multiplayer: Multiplayer is exactly the same as single player... TIMES FOUR! Yes, online and offline you can play with up to four other players on any mode. Co-op is extremely fun, especially if you have very dramatic friends who have no problem sayi-... yelling what they think if the occasion calls for it. The only problem I found with the multiplayer is that sometimes you will run into a lag spike where you will suddenly be shifted right into the middle of an enemy. BAM! Pros: + Quick & Solid Gameplay For Only 10 Dollars + 4-Player Cooperation Online & Offline + Nice Visuals & Audio + Map Editor Cons: - Repetitive - Difficult - Occasional Online Lag - No Ninja Turtles This game receives a big:



Blue Unicorn Usagi Award

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