Game Enthusiast: Sk”8”

Yep, another one.. don’t bother unless when I ask “Have you finished the Fight?” and you know what the hell I’m talking about.

Unless you live in Tibet or Mexico… You know what “Halo” is. right?.. and unless you’re a complete non-gamer then you may also know that it’s kinda popular. Just a little bit… so much so that the last game in the Halo Trilogy (yeah..right) “Halo 3” made more money then any other Entertainment based product in a single day…Ever.  beating Spiderman 3, Titanic, E.T., Star Wars, and everything else to the tune of 172 Million dollars on it’s release day.

So, is it really worth all this hype?.. my answer conflicts drastically with the foamy mouthed fanbase.

The final game (yeah, sure) Starts off where Halo 2 abruptly slammed into it’s credits with Master Chief falling to Earth.  I won’t get into the Story as it spans 2 other games and if you haven’t played them…the read about it somewhere else I’m getting right into the meat and potatoes of the game (Personal note, get Oregon burrito when finished.)

–Gameplay– Gameplay wise, a couple new things have been added, such as an inventory, you can now use things such as a “Bubble Shield” which encases you in a shield that keeps grenades and gunfire out, but not bad guys themselves. Also, there is a radar jammer, flat shield, energy drainer, etc etc.  These items come in handy as the game can get pretty difficult in some areas.. other areas its a breeze.. the difficulty is pretty unbalanced like that, not a big issue though really.  All the OG weapons return with a couple new additions, all in all they all balance gameplay very well, Halo is King for balanced gunplay, Also new to the series are HUGE environments, the campaigns of Halo where pretty wide open, well, there even more so now, your not confined to buildings as much anymore.  in All, the game feels about the same as it always has, why fix something if it ain’t broke right?.

Not the prettiest game…

–Graphics– This ain’t no beauty queen thats for sure.  Think the PC version of Halo 2.  and thats just about what this game looks like.  while there are alot of nice new efects, larger area, the game is at a constant framerate at ALL times with no slowdown or chop… it’s just not as pretty as other games that have been released.  Take Bioshock for example with it’s gorgeous art direction and fantastic design. Halo 3 by comparison:  flat textures, everything still feels overbright like in the other halo games, It’s not bad by any means, there are moments of very convincing graphical prowess… but too few and far between.  alot of fanboys can look past this because there too busy going “OMGZorz I need to change my 3month old undies I heart Masta chief!11eleven”. but the average gamer who isn’t addicted will be a little disappointed and asking “What happened to my 360’s Graphics?”.

–Sound– ..If you’ve played Halo 2… almost NO change.  there is more atmospheric sounds and great ambient music.. even though the music is from Halo 2.  It’s really not any better.  you still get the lame laser sounds.. I said IT!.. there LAME!.  I’ve heard better laser sounds from Tom and Jerry cartoons!.  *sigh* Other than that, still, fantastic music, I love the Halo soundtrack, sounds like a couple new songs have been added, but many are from the other games.. not a slam, it makes sense, there great songs and this is a game in a series, can’t really change it up TOO much.  the voice acting, as usual, just feels campy, or uninspired, never liked the voice acting in Halo. Halo 2 had a couple actors that did a GREAT job.. especially the guy how plays the Arbitor. great.. he’s used much less in this game, thats a shame.

–Presentation– I remember REALLY liking the first Halo story, it was pretty original, and well done, Halo 2 pissed me off, because alot of the Story dragged along and when it was FINALLY getting good, the game ENDED!. I’m still tramatized by that.  This one, while I haven’t finished yet… just.. doesn’t seem to be holding up yet, I can’t completely say it sucks or anything like that, hopefully it will get really good soon, but as of RIGHT NOW!, I kinda forgot alot of it..

But, this game is about the multiplayer right?.. I honestly haven’t even tried it yet, I will, but, right now, *shrug*.. not super interested in MP gaming. so, can’t comment on that part of the game.

–Final Thoughts– I kept saying “Yeah right” and “uh huh, sure” when I stated that this was the supposed last release of Halo.. this thing is the BIGGEST selling game series ever, you think there going to stop if it’s making more money then anything else?. oh hell no, thats bad business… There are rumors flying around that Bungie (developer of Halo) is leaving Microsoft.. this may be true.. there reasons?.. there tired of making Halo games..if this was really the last one, wouldn’t they stay because… this is the last one…right?.  Well, if thats the case, Microsoft will probably keep the rights of Halo and keep chugging them out. Just watch..

Personally… I’m not really that impressed.  It’s a very well balanced game, it’s still fun, I can see why it’s so addictive online, all the weapons are great,.. but, it’s too much like Halo 2.  It suffers from the Maddenosis.  Each year, EA releases another Madden game.  They polish it a little shiner, change a couple player statistics and call it a new game.. and charge 60 more bucks.  Tony Hawk as of late is suffering from this as well.  and Now it’s Halo.  This is too much like the 2nd for my taste.

—-Final Score: 7.9

+New items very useful and add to the gameplay +Music is still kick ass +Larger environment -Basically Halo 2 -Graphics only tweaked from Halo2’s, nothing spectacular.

Well, with that same ol’ same ol’ game thats deeply rooted to the mantra “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” we swing the other direction with a game that breaks barriers, the normal, and does it to perfection!.. EA’s answer to the Tony Hawk stalled monopoly. skate.

There is a little story under skate. but it’s really not important, you play as you, your skating around with your friend taping you when you get hit by a bus and are rushed to a hospital, this just sets up all the skaters in the game being goofy, it’s not bad, but ya can’t skip it. Anyways, once you come to, your friend has the camera in your face and tells you that your ok, and “lets get out of here and go skate!” At this point, you creat your character, and your let lose on the world.  Your goal?.. become a skating legend, from a small time poser to a Big X-Games medalist..thats the main goal of the game.

–Gameplay– Ea must have some boner for the right analog stick… because in almost ALL the newest games there implementing this thing in new and great ways.  Just like in the Fight Night boxing Series by EA and Tiger Woods, almost everything is done with the right analog stick.  instead if pressing “A” “Left” and “X” to do a simple kickflip (Ala: Tony Hawk) in skate, you push down on the right stick and flick it diagonally to the left. all flip tricks. grinds, and Grab tweaks are done with the Right stick.  They range from “Thats easy” to “wtf? how did I do that?” This system works very very well and really gives this game a much greater sense of “I just pulled that shit off!” while referring to something that in the world of Tony Hawk would be like “Big effin’ deal, yo.”  While that may sound like an insult, it’s not.. this game boils skating back down to the basics.  Tony Hawk, getting a 1million point combo was kindof a big deal, in skate. a 3,000 point combo is kindof a big deal, no 40 trick combos here, no HUGE crazy air, no cartoony tricks.  it’s pure, raw, skating.  And it really works great.  I’m not a fan of EA really.. but there Black Box studio really has a gift.  They’re responsible for the Need for Speed: Underground series and the SSX snowboarding series of games as well.

–Graphics– This game looks pretty darn good.  Texures are realistic and at a high enough resolution, Polygon count is high, great lighting effects, there is a sublte but noticable blur effect applied that really addeds to the immersion of the game.  I love the camera angle, while it can be cumbersome at times, it works out well, it’s at the angle that a large majority of actual skate videos are shot, because the thats how the game is played out, Your skating, and your view perspective is that of your cameraman.  Your guy never talks, the guy following you with the camera talks though, he’ll greet other skaters, encourage you to do something huge, tell you your dumb for getting hit by a car, etc.  The cars are not very good looking though, they look a bit crappy.. not terribly noticable until you run into one, but still.  character animation is fantastic.  it’s extremely realistic, going through replies you’ve taken is great and truly capture the movements and animation of a Hardflip 360 without looking fake or out of place at all.  The EA Black Box Studio guys really now how to add style and character to there games, just like in Need for Speed Underground, this game really screams “I’ve got it, bitches!” camera angles, blur effect, lighting..graphically, it wants to be noticed!

–Sound– Another place where EA Black Box shinys bright. From the clicking of your wheels over rippled concrete, the reverb change as you pass closely by buildings, the whistle of the wind as you race down a hill at top speed, they know how to draw you into the game with sounds.  The world around you is never stopping when you do, people talking in the distance, cars driving by there music playing from inside there cars. and the attention to details.  When music is coming from a car with it’s windows rolled up, in real life you won’t hear it as if it’s attached to your left and right ear are you?. it’s muffled, heard to distinguish and changes pitch as it gets farther away right?. same in the game, they do an excellent job.  Voice acting is good, sometimes a little pressured and such, but there not bad. on pair with Tony Hawk.

–Presentation– EA must believe in this game, there user community is already pretty big, you can record videos, take pictures, edit replies with film speed changes and different camera angles, different filters, and then post them right from the 360 to your EA Pro.File. This is mine “the Rev3rEND” I already posted a few videos and some pictures.  There are some other amazing, funny, and crazy videos posted by alot of other people.

Back to the actual game, while the other skaters you encounter are lively and have personalities with intelligence of some offering, the citizens of the city you skate in are basically zombies and only get in the way, never interesting or pro-active about you skating or very cautionary that you even there around them.  not a huge disappointment, but with everything else being so lively and fantastic, they are a bit odd in the role in the game. oh well.  the 4 player game is all turn based and there is no split screen as with many other games now a days, but thats quite alright, it’s still alot of fun to play over and over, everybody gets caught up in trying to nail that trick or out do someone else, it’s alot of fun.  gonna try the online aspect here soon as it looks like alot of fun as well.

An irritation I have with this game is a couple missing tricks that I simply love.  for one, the Darkslide.  While I know with this trick system in place it’s gonna be hard to impliment it in the next game…but damnit.. I love me some darkslide! Another thing, is flatland tricks are pretty non existent as well, I love specialty manuals, and pogos, and such, and there all missing as well, things that would be GREATLY appreciated in skate2.

–Final Thoughts– Tony Hawk has been usurpered big time.  that’s not easy to say, the Tony Hawk franchise came in and MADE the skateboarding videogame.  Before Tony Hawk ALL other attempts failed horribly and left a bitter taste in the mouths of gamers, the Hawks Games changed everything, and with each release in the numbered games (1 thru 4) changed it up, refined it, tuned it and polished the original to the point of perfection.  Tony Hawk 2 and 3 are hailed as not only some of the best sports games, but BEST games PERIOD.  But as of late, the series has really stalled…especially on the Next Gen systems.  Suffering from Maddenosis, only adding a couple new tricks, or new, uninteresting levels without enough change to get gamers excited again. it’s a shame.  Tony Hawk’s Project 8 tried a little harder with the Nail a Trick system, but it was a little flawed.  It’s really ironic that the Newest Tony Hawk game coming out is titled “Proving Grounds”… because, frankly, It’s got to prove itself as king of the hill once again.

–Final Score: 9.2 ++Great, innovative trick system ++Fantastic attention to graphical/audio style,detail,presentation. +Soundtrack is very good when you want to listen to it. -Some key tricks missing -Zombies…but, not real zombies.. that would be cool.

Ok, now time for that burrito I promised myself.

catch you on the kickflip-side

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