Archive for August, 2008


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Warren Review: Too Human (360)

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Hours Played: 12.5 Progress: Level 28, Main story completed, vast majority of side-quests completed (yeah, I know.) This long-awaited game from Silicon Knights (who are Canadian, woo!), the makers of Eternal Darkness on the GameCube, is finally out.  With a unique combat system and a story based on what can only be described as cyber-Norse mythology, does this game really live up to the incredible hype that has been surrounding it for years? Graphics This game is no graphical slouch.  During my play-through of the game I had very little to complain about, and I'm ridiculously picky.   The only complaints I can come up with are that there is poor shadow-filtering on some of the characters during cutscenes (all done with real-time graphics), a very mildly noticable draw distance for some of the smaller objects, and Freya's mouth is freaking ugly most of the time.  Otherwise, considering that this game uses futuristic graphical streaming thingies to prevent any load times what-so-ever, the graphics hold up very well.  The game also sports great art direction considering places and figures from Norse mythology had to be given a cyber-makeover.  Overall, I give the graphics a "sweet". Sound There's not much to complain about in the sound department either.  There's some very solid music, some even featuring what sounds like a very large choir.  All of your expected clanks and booms and the like are here in full force and are rendered in all kinds of high definitions.  My sound complaints are that almost whenever Baldur (the main character that you play) jumps he lets off a huge grunt when he lands as if someone just prodded him in the crotch with something sharp.  I'm pretty sure that when you're a god that jumping in armour is not going to hurt that much.  Also, some of the in-game voice clips that come from your squad or other Aesir (gods) can be crazy-repetitive.  This only becomes apparent about half-way through the game when you're with Thor who apparently does not have too huge of a vocabulary.  Overall, sound gets a "nice". Controls Controls are one of the unique features of this game.  There's a lot of extra stuff that you can do that I pretty much found myself not bothering with.  Right-stick controls your melee weapon, be it a huge sword, huge hammer, huge pike, or huge lance.  The way in which you point it or rotate it effects how your character wields their weapon.  The right-trigger is for firing your long-range weapon be it a couple of pistols, a rifle, a canon, or a huge laser.  The left-trigger covers secondary fire which can be a second gun, grenade launching, or other such stuffs.  Once unlocked, clicking both sticks will activate your "sentient weapon" that is a copy of your melee weapon that goes around and kicks butt on its own.  X, Y, and RB can be assigned various unlockable moves later on in the game.  Otherwise, it's pretty straight-forward, A to jump, B to dodge, LB to center the camera behind you and the like.  One interesting thing to note is that you can customize what is shown on the screen, whether you want the HUD up or not, whether you want to see how much damage each one of your attacks does, and how zoomed-in to the character you want the camera to be.  Sometimes the stick control for the melee weapons can feel a bit unresponsive, which sucks when you're surrounded by a hoarde of enemies, but it's overall okay.  Thus, I give the controls an "okay". Gameplay Well, I have to start off this section by pointing to the playtime it took for me to finish this game.  Yes, this game is WAAAAY TOO SHORT.  On top of that, the narrative is not even finished within the game.  You'll feel that you're about half-done the game when it abruptly ends.  There is no explanation or reason given for this as you sit in shock during the 15 minute credits.  It's amazing that not one of these thousands of people who worked on the game thought that there should be more than 3-4 levels. With the shortness aside, the game actually holds out quite well during gameplay.  Pretty much all of the enemies drop things like Runes (which can be used to customize weapons and enhance traits), weapons, and armour.  Thus, I found myself usually about once every five minutes going into the Equipment menu to salvage/sell items and craft or equip. new ones.  Customization fans are indeed in for a treat because there are even "colour ruins" that can be used to customize the colours of weapons and armour.  The hack-and-slash gameplay is actually quite engaging and there's an acceptable variety of enemies that come at you, most of which have to be dealt with differently (some go boom).  I was expecting tedium to set in due to the straightforward nature of the gameplay, but I guess the game was short enough to prevent that from happening.  Make sure to fully explore the Norn world from the pool in front of the Great Tree, there's a lot of cool items in there.  Overall, gameplay gets a "not enough". Pros + Plenty of style + Zero load times + Good graphics/sound + Interesting characters, especially if you know a bit of Norse mythology + Tons of weapons and customization Cons - WAY TOO DARN SHORT - Some minor graphic/sound annoyances - Doesn't even end gracefully Perhaps not worth the money right now due to the fact that it's only about 1/3 to 1/2 of a game, this is definitely something that I'd suggest looking in to when it hits the bargain bins rather quickly (like Prey and The Darkness before it). Overall:

8.0

Warren Review: Rock Band (PS3)

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Hours Played: over 50
Progress: Completed "Endless Setlist" (gained Legendary status!)

Rock Band is the first music simulation game to encompass a full band. It allows players to play drums, guitar, bass, and sing. This is the first time drumming has come to a console (at least a full drum set unlike Taiko Drum Master or Donkey Konga). Singing is much like Sing Star and the guitar/bass is much like Guitar Hero.

The game allows you to create a band and tour around by playing songs and sets. Single player mode lets you go through sets on guitar, drums, or vocals.

I'll start off by saying that the full game experience exists in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. The PS2 and Wii versions are somewhat limited, but the basics of the game are still there.  The difference lies in the multiplayer "Band World Tour" mode. In PS3/Xbox 360, your band travels from city to city, playing different sets at different venues in those cities. PS2/Wii only allow you to do preset sets (like the single-player mode on all systems).  The PS2/Wii versions also do not let you make custom characters.

The other major difference is downloadable content. This allows you to expand the game on the Xbox 360 and PS3 by getting new songs. I personally have already added 45 songs to my library and allows me for an almost endless challenge to complete all the songs.

Presentation:
Awesome. Simply awesome. Every song has it's own stage show which integrates the rockers you get to create. Even the hammer-ons/pull-offs for guitar are easy to spot.

Graphics:
Great. The graphics engine on the PS3 is very useful and allows for the character rendering for all the scenes in every song.  As is expected with the PS3, the graphics are even better in HD.

Sound:
To assert the same point as Bananabread in his last review - It's a music game. The sound has to be good.

Downloadable content is one of the best selling features of this game. Already, they have added over 200 new songs that were not included in the original 58 on the disc. There's even some freebies! Be warned, the downloaded songs will show up from time-to-time in the random sets in World Tour mode (read: those random sets could get very, very hard *cough*Metallica*cough*)

Gameplay:
Gameplay is done masterfully through the various controllers. The guitar is similar to the Guitar Hero controllers, but this one is a little more streamlined where the buttons don't stand out as being buttons. The guitars are wireless, which lets you rock out without being tied down.  I find that the buttons are easier to slide across for quicker play than the Guitar Hero guitars.

The drums are wired, but that doesn't matter too much. They consist of 4 drum pads and a kick pedal. People have often had problems with the kick pedal breaking, but I have spent MANY hours on it and it's just fine (*knock on wood*). They take quite a beating and are very responsive. One recommendation I have is to buy sound dampeners as the stock drums sound plastic-y without them.

The microphone included in the Special Edition set (the only set that comes with instruments) works well.  I personally suck at singing, but others have used the same mic and have done very well.

Overall:

8.5/10

Rock Band is a very addicting game with almost endless potential with downloaded songs. There are some areas that could use improvement, but that's what Rock Band 2 is for.  As a side note, Rock Band 2, which comes out on Oct. 19th, will be fully backwards compatible with the downloaded songs from the original Rock Band, plus you'll be able to pull some songs off of the original Rock Band disc to add even more gameplay value.

Now to try Green Hills and High Tides again :S

Guitar Hero 3 (Wii)

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Guitar Hero 3

Hours played: 40 Progress: Enough to play each song like 10 times, passed hard. Well, guess which version of Guitar Hero 3 has sold the most.  Yes, the Wii version.  Thank goodness downgraded technology is selling, ah yes, free market, thank you! (-_-) lame Presentation: Cool man, hang ten, rock out…  and the rest. Actually, the presentation is great.  Appropriate animations, lights, and blatantly corny catchphrases keep this title in the stylized universe where only games called ‘Guitar Hero’ can exist.  Easy to understand interface, background music and all the bright colours display the general success of Activision’s talent to have great presentation in their games. Graphics: Holy PS2 port batman! Ok, before the flame-police makes a big deal, let me tell you that I DO REALIZE IT IS THE WII, and therefore has a sort of ‘a cute dog eating your shoes’ handicap, wherein the excuse is “Awwww, that’s ok”. Granted this, it still looks like crap. The character models are terrible and robotic, and the crowd was so blatantly developed using mspaint modeled GIFs. In the end, what you really watch is the Guitar Chart, and that looks pretty good.  So no worries, you can still play for hours, beat every song, then look at the bag of Cheetos in your lap that seems to be running away from you.  Anyone who has played excessive amounts of this game knows what I mean. Sound: It’s a music game. *Period* I liked the song selection in this game because it’s varied and can be challenging. Never-the-less, there is ALWAYS room for more songs.  OH WAIT!!! There isn’t (-_-).  No downloadable content + Nintendo’s nefarious storage problem = epic fail.  Technically the songs sound great, but having the screw-ups sounds that emanate from the guitar in the Wii version are terrible.  This is probably by virtue of having a bad speaker in the Wiimote. Gameplay: Fun as all hell. Good stuff.  I love this game despite its flaws. The guitar is solidly built, and feels perfect, no complaints. Replay value is good, but obviously doesn’t hold a candle to the downloadable content offered by the other platforms.  The game is accessible to casual gamers, and still challenging to the more hardcore audience, which is a plus especially for the Wii.  It’s really the tight game play and solid peripheral that has made this audience devout to the brand, and that will allow the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour to sell very well. Unfortunately, it seems like there was an unfortunate trade-off of impressive visuals for good gameplay. Overall,

8.0/10

Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii, is the technical underachiever that overachieves. It looks like an old game, plays like a new game (for the Wii) and is packaged and presented like a Triple-A title. In the end it is a great metaphor for the Wii itself: All about gameplay (just nothing to do with online), and for that, it succeeds. Here’s to hoping the next one fulfills the need for more of what the other systems enjoy. Now where did those Cheetos go?
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