GAME ENTHUSIASTS ONLY!

SSssccrreeeeetch!
SSssccrreeeeetch!

As the title implies.

If you’re not into gaming, stop reading this blog.  That is all it’s about.  games, my thoughts on the industry, and N4L stuff…

If you are a Gamer though, I put alot of effort into linking things, To the games websites, information about things I rant about, some great information about current situations in the industry.. check it out.


Recently, I purchased 3 Xbox360 games… don’t even ask how much they where *Feels faint* I don’t want to talk about it..  And I recently got a chance to try out the Nintendo WiiSet for a Nov. 19th release.

…Anyways, Since I’ve always thought of myself as a Gaming Aficionado I’ve always enjoyed reviewing them, So… here I go again.  With my reviews of Need for Speed: CarbonGears of War,  and Viva Pinata.

————– Need for Speed:Carbon ————–
Image of the Dodge Challenger 2007 Concept.

This installment continues the story of you (Unnamed Hero) from Most Wanted in which you return to your old stomping grounds of Carbon Canyon (Get it, Carbon?) to find out that everyone is pissed at you, your “crew” doesn’t control the entire city and instead several rival crews are taking over and it’s your job to, blah blah blah… it’s pretty trivial and not a very good story.  It’s so tacked on to the end of Most Wanted that it’s truly ridiculous, it doesn’t progress very smoothly, not all that interesting either.   My lil’ ol’ opinion?.. they focused WAY to heavily on the “Story” and all the FMV of both Most Wanted AND Carbon, and the gameplay hurt for it.  Underground (which I will forever compare all other  NFS’s to) Had almost NO story, and it was a masterpiece!.. I know Underground 2 had a story, but I don’t remember ANYTHING about it.. But Underground 2 was still fantastic!.  The “Story” in Carbon takes up too much space that could have been used for more gameplay tweaking and perfecting.

———————————–Gameplay——————————————————–

This is really just about the only place the game should matter, sadly with the increase in power of the nex-gen consoles this area maybe the most overlooked (hopefully Nintendo’s innovations will keep gameplay in the forefront) But, Carbon, Sadly… doesn’t change all that radically from Most Wanted.  It feels like a continuation of Most Wanted, since the story followed over, shouldn’t it have just been labelled “Most Wanted 2”? Would have made alot more sense and honestly, I’m betting that EVERY reviewer would have given it a better score.  The name changed kinda made it feel like a new game.. but it’s just a continuation.  Because of that I will continue this review by calling Carbon “Most Wanted 2” (MW2).

The new additions to MW2 are the crippled return of Drifting, and Canyon Duels.  I’ll start with the good, which is the canyon duel.  They add a nice bit of tension to races.  You’ll start behind the opponent and either try and keep close to them or pass them completely.  if you pass them and stay ahead for 10sec. you win.  If not, you’ll eventually cross the finishline, unless you fall off the edge resulting in a failure, and you’ll have to try again.  Once you finish, the race will start over, except this time your in front, trying to keep the opponent off your ass.  it’s not a bad addition to the gameplay alot of them are really fun.

Now the bad, Drifting in Underground and Underground 2 where fantastic, Underground had a really slippery feel to the drift, while Underground 2 allowed an ENDLESS amount of customization to the cars to allow almost all cars to drift quite well.  Drifting was absent in Most Wanted, and sorely missed.  The return of drifting is very bitter sweet.  You lose alot of customizing options, your not scored by angle, speed, and turns.  Your scored on speed alone.  And you can’t do any endless drifts!. (unless it’s a canyon drift) your total is added to your final score at check points around the track.  Finally, the car physics change RADICALLY from there racing physics.  This has always been the case, but never to this extremely, it goes from (race) a heavy, realistic feel to (drift) very light, tires grip too much and… they just feel like toys!… sadness.

The Cop chases have been streamlined and stripped down, which I prefer, the chases from MW1 got too tense and long for my liking.  This is far more forgiving.  Cars feel similar to MW1  as well, which is good.  They felt pretty good.  the slipstream (slo-mo) feels about the same, but more useful because of the tighter courses.

Another big addition to this are the Wing-men!.. basically, while racing you’ll get a crew member racing with you, they can either block opponents from passing, ’cause a draft for you to follow and increase in speed, or find hidden routes and short cuts, depending on who you pick as your member.  Overall, they didn’t change the gameplay all that much, there a nice addition though.

Another addition is “Autosculpting” which allows you to “sculpt” certain parts like the wheels, hood, bumpers and such on your car.  while entertaining for a little while, it feels unfinished, it could have been SOOo much better, and allow for limitless style.

———————————Graphics and Sound ——————————————-

I got my copy for the X360 so that’s what I’m going to judge it on.  MW2 really feels alot like Most Wanted here as well.  Which isn’t really a bad thing, Most Wanted was a very good looking game.  The thing is though, it should have looked better.  The framerate at 1080i resolution stutters around 30fps.  I’d think it should run at a constant 30fps at the LEAST!.. I haven’t tried it at lower resolutions, maybe it players smoother?.. no matter, it should be silk no matter what!… not saying the game is ugly, it’s quite pretty to look at.  I did notice a couple short-cuts (lighting effects, texture work, post-processing) that even looked better on the Ps2’s “Need for Speed: Underground”  I really don’t see any other reason for these half-assed efforts other than to push it out quickly or because they stopped caring about the frianchise… which, with the entirety of this release, I’m prawned to believe that.

In the sound department though, everything again is top notch!… sounds fantastic, you add a turbo, you hear that delightful *HHisssssss*, with a bigger turbo?.. you hear it louder, and you hear the blow off when you let off the gas.  EA’s attention to detail here is simply amazing.  you can hear buildings woosh past as you blaze by them.  Love the sound, the deep roar of the muscle cars, the high pitch whine of the exotics.  Kudos in this department EA.

———————-Final Thought————————————-

While I’ll still play it, and love it, and try and unlock and beat everything… I’m honestly disappointed.  This attempt by EA feels too much like Most Wanted, The continued story, same look and gameplay feel.  Truly should have been Most Wanted 2…would have made so much more sense.

The reinstitution of Drifting, while fun again, just isn’t the same and isn’t as good as it should have been.. Underground 2 from 3 years ago beat this attempt hands down.

+ + Sound design and execution is spectacular, again.
+ Canyon duels are fun
+ Open City better than MW1’s
= Looks about the same as MW1
= Wingmen aren’t crucial to your success
– Drifting just isn’t the same
– Drag racing gone now
– Should be “Most Wanted 2”
– – Buying everything on the Xbox Live Marketplace will cost you an ADDITION 50 bucks! (120 dollar game?!?!)

My Score: 7.4

————————Gears of War———————-

This game has been hyped almost to the extent that Halo 2 was.   And for good reason, this game is actually good (Not saying Halo 2 wasn’t…but come on… it was really over-rated)

Here’s the story.  Your name is Marcus Fenix, and your a traitor and have been jailed for being so.  Your friend Dominic springs you….because your needed back into the Armed Forces.  You are a “Gear”.  A war has broken out on Sera (Earth like planet) Over a new fuel source called imulsion.  A war over this new fuel has been going on for ages and now your needed.

Basically?… Oil, Iraqi, kill people.. got it?  While the story isn’t bad, it’s not riveting either… it’s there to fill a void and it does that well, nothing more, nothing less.  Let’s move on to the more important things.


Yeah, this is basically an in-game shot.  gorgeous game!

——————————–Gameplay———————————

While Gears of War (GoW) isn’t entirely Unique in the way you play it (Was originally done in Kill Switch for the Ps2 and Xbox a few years ago) It does it better and more seamlessly.  In this game, a chunk of concrete or a chassis of a destroyed car is your best friend!  you’ll run, dive, and sneak from spot to spot trying to get that perfect location to blow away the enemy, you simply can’t run up and gun them all down like you can in so many other 3rd person shooters, not possible here.  you’ll be able to lob grenades over your shoulder, or shoot blindly from around a corner as cover fire for a comrade trying to flank for position.  it’s great fun!

The weapons are pretty standard, machine gun, pistol, sniper rifle, shotgun,etc. etc.  There are a couple that stand out.  for one… the Chainsaw Bayonette!.  Dude gets too close?.. rev it up and *BBBBbzzzzzzZ*, he’s dead…that simple.  all in a HORRIFIC spray of blood that covers the players camera and drips down the lens… crazy fun!  The other addition doesn’t come into play much but still cool, called the Hammer of Dawn.  you can only use it outside…sometimes.  but it’s just a lazer that pinpoints the enemies position, from that a satellite shoots a lazer from outer space, incinerating the baddy…

Overall, the gameplay is smooth, hitch-free and not hard to pick up.  My roommate (Jordan) and I actually played for a good 3 hours in a co-op campaign!.. it was nice… I like.

With this games departure from what was becoming an overly saturated  genre of War based games that all felt just a little too alike, it has brought back some faith in me that not all war games are the same.. The last “WAR” game I actually sat down and enjoyed playing all the way through was the 1st Halo (I played through Halo 2 and DID enjoy it… until the ending.. which I was very disappointed in!) The requirement to throw out cover fire, take cover, in such a way that this game does it is very engrossing.


Yes, this is in-game, actual gameplay screenshot…. that good looking.

————————–Graphics and Sound————————


Looks fantastic.  Simply great.  The stills I’ve posted do not do the actual moving game justice.  The detail in EVERYTHING is impeccable.  textures are all high resolution, the blood spray is impressive as hell, the gloomy mood that the lighting effects on the buildings and off your characters armor is impressive. There is almost a constant blur effect added as you turn quickly, which makes sense and looks great!…but can be a little disorienting for those not use to alot of post-processing effects.  The art direction is great as well.  The camera shifts, shakes, and jostles  as you walk and run.  or get into close combat with someone, feels alot like someone is  running  around with  a  camcorder recording everything over your shoulder.  Character design is pretty good, personally it all looks a bit too much like Unreal Tournament… Epic Games (creator of Gears of War, and Unreal Tournament.) I’m not really complaining… but, you know.  Still looks great.  The enemies though, *shrug* not real partial to the way they look.  Much less cartoony then Halo though, big thumbs up for that.

Sound is awesome!.  Every shell, bullet, ricochet, footstep, etc. etc is audible and sounds extremely well placed and made, Voice acting isn’t top notch, but it’s pretty  damn good for a Video Game, I’m not at all disappointed that they went with relatively unknown voice actors, they do well and don’t take away from the games void-filling story.  Small gripe, some of the enemy sounds and voices don’t have alot of pull…. you hear them, and there distinct, but they just sometimes seem generic.  they sound alot like other games in the future/fantasy genre.  not a big problem.. still sounds good!

———————————–Final Thought————————

I haven’t tried the online mulitplayer yet, While I think it’s  going to be really fun and I can’t wait to try it… I’ll hold off on talking about that.

Microsoft REALLY, REALLY hyped this game.. with good reason, not only is it a fantastic game… but they absolutely needed a there killer app to showcase the Xbox 360 for the holidays.  Because, not only is the Ps3coming out on the 17th, but the Wii is coming out the 19th.  Never…EVER in the history of gaming have 2 consoles come out in the same WEEK!  The 360 had been given a basic free-ride the last year, with no real need for any killer app or even a game to set it apart from the current-gen systems to sell there system until right now.  While Dead rising can’t be had on any other system, It didn’t quite reach the “Reason to buy a 360” level that Gears of War has reached.  This game will sell 360’s just as Tetris sold Gameboys.

+ + Fantastic visuals, audio and Style.
+ Gameplay style deviates from the herd.
+ Co-op campaign! (2-players playing story mode)
= Looks alot like Unreal Tournament
– Xbox 360’s killer app  comes out over a year past it’s console did.


My Score: 9.1

————————–Viva Pinata———————–


Don’t ya just feel like your gonna get diabetes from looking at it?!

This is gonna be kinda short, for one because I  haven’t played this game ALL that much.. anyways.

Story?… you tell me… ’cause I’m not entirely sure there is a story here… haven’t really found one yet anyways.  So, I’ll explain the game.  It’s a God game, in the same respects as The Sims, Animal Crossing or Populous.  You’re job?  clean up your garden to attract “Pinata”  which come in all shapes and sizes.  The better your garden looks and the more you’ll attract and eventuall want to live in your garden.  That’s about it.

So far, I haven’t found anything deep about the game play, you do what your suppose to… simple as that, I’m really hoping there is something deeper to the gameplay mechanics because as of right now, it’s not enough to keep me all that interested, I’ll keep playing though because it’s really cute and cuddly (I’m not gay, bite me… ignore that, I’m not gay!)  In Animal Crossing there was a nice dynamic and a need to play it, weeds would grow and you’ve have to pull them, on certain times of the year special things would happen in the game, you could collect ALOT of  different things… I’m hoping to find something like that in this game.

——————-Graphics and Sound——————


Well, the graphics may not push the 360 to it’s limits, but they sure are  cute and fuzzy aren’t they?.. they do look really good, the paper on the Pinata animals sway and switch with how it walks and the wind and such, there animations are all fitting of the animal they are and they animated  in an over the top cartoony way that just seems cute and entertaining.  Lighting is top notch, it’s a pleasure to look at.

The sound on the otherhand, while all fitting for the cutesy nature of the game can get a little grating.  There very clean sounding and are high quality and all… but there very simple.  And the voice acting!… Oohh god.  That Tutorial lady…Leafos, she can die… so annoying, I feel like I’m back in grade school with how she talks down to the player.. like “WAY TO GO STUPID!, HERES A GOLD STAR!”  I want to punch her.

Aside from THAT annoyance though, the production values on the game are pretty top notch, but thats typical for Rare (Creators of Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct , Conker’s Bay Fur Day, and many more.)
There known for pushing concept, gameplay and the hardware lmits of there current system.

While Viva Pinata doesn’t really push the hardware, it’s damn retty to look at.

———————-Final-ish Thoughts————————-


Since I haven’t played the game all that much, I don’t think it’s fair for me to have any “final thoughts”… I’m still playing through it, and I’m hoping to find a deeper gameplay than what I’ve uncovered so far.  I will leave this game saying this.  It’s very unique in it’s style!.. and it’s a much needed game on the 360, here is why I think so.  so far, all that has been released on the 360 is sports, racing, and violent games.  not a whole lot has come out in the way of kid-friendly gaming, this is it!… and it’s one of the 1st God games to appear on the new console.  Thats a much needed demographic that the 360 doesn’t have yet.  Also, this game is very unique and exclusive to the 360.  Something that Microsofts flagship is Sorely needing!.  Just about EVERYTHING on the 360 can be had on all other consoles, and in some cases BETTER ON OTHER CONSOLES!!

+ + Extremely nice to look at, great cartoon feel.
+ Great for kids, and the kid at heart.
+Sorely needed on the x360.
– So far, not much to keep me interested
– – I wanna punch Leafos.

My Score, So Far: 7

Remember, this is just what I’m giving it til I play the game a bit more.  It is very likely to go up.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Well, with all that done.. I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience with the Wii!  YAY!

I went to my local Gamestop and they had a Wii demo system set up and ready to play!.. I started up Excite Truck

1st off, The Wii-mote (The remote-like controller of the Wii) felt really natural, it wasn’t too heavy, but didn’t feel like a cheap toy, it felt like it could take a drop or toss.  I held the Wii-mote sideways like a steering wheel for this game, and actually tilted it left and right to turn in said direction.  The responsive-ness of the Wii-mote was really good, not perfect, there was a slight lag I could sense, but completely overlookable, nothing severe.  This thing was REALLY precise… pinpoint accurate.  I was pleased as this was my biggest concern of the wii-mote control.

Alot of Websites are slamming Nintendos decision to not make the Wii a SUPER power house like the X360 or the PS3.  But honestly, as long as the games are fun, addictive, and look decent enough it shouldn’t matter.  Nintendo is playing it smart and there going to be the ONLY system actually making money per unit sold.  It’s been standard for companies to lose money on selling a console but making it up on the games and accessories sold.  Nintendo actually started that fad with the original Nintendo and it’s been standard ever since.  Right now, the x360 loses Microsoft $71 dollars per unit sold.  Hell, the PS3 could lose Sony twice that per unit.  By keeping the Wii out of the Hardcore “Could-render-Gods-Will” Category of gaming systems, The Wii is also going to be less than half the price of the PS3, Hell… even a Wii and an Xbox360  is going to be cheaper than the PS3!… don’t believe me?.. lets do the math shall we?

$249.99 for Nintendo Wii (includes Wii Sports Game!)
+
$399.99 for Xbox 360 Premium System (Now includes Burnout: Revenge!)
=
$649.98

Got that so far?. So your getting 2 Nex-gen systems, and 2 free games!. and not crappy games, Burnout: Revenge is highly rated.. and Wii Sports, Well… honestly I don’t know about that… but still!  .ok…lets go onto the Playstation prices, shall we?

$599.99 for Playstation 3 Premium System
+
$59.99
for any game for the PS3 because it isn’t coming with a game.
=
$659.98!!

For that price, for one system… that damned thing better beat me off and feed me sandwiches at the same time!

That’s ridiculous!.  and that’s why when you look around on alot of forums on the internet you’ll see alot of people saying things like “Screw that, I’m going with the Thwii-60” or “I’m just going for the Wii/360 combo”  Because it’s cheaper to Buy 2, then 1.   Sure, the Playstation is going to have the Blu-Ray DVD… and the closest Blu-Ray (and only) Player is upwardsof $1k.  But this is mainly a gaming system, and the last time a gaming system cost 600 bucks….it FAILED. Also the fact that some preliminary reviews of some PS3 games are actually playing worse on the PS3 than there Xbox360 counterpart is a bad sign.

All in All, I’m very excited for the release of Nintendo’s Wii, The fact that it can play Gamecube games, that you can download NES, SNES, Genesis, and Turbo-grafx 16 games is any Gaming Nerds DREAM!.

As for the PS3, It’s WAY too expensive right now.. I’ve seen Blu-Ray DVD demonstrations and I’m not impressed, gimme an upconverting DVD player and I’m good, and just gimme the extra 500+ dollars and I’ll be happy til the price of a PS3 comes down.  I know the thing isn’t going to fail, there Sony… and so far the only console they’ve failed on is the PSP (Sorry, I love mine.. but honestly, it’s failing) even with the crazy price of the PS3, people will buy it..  They really shouldn’t though.. it’ll force the price down… just like in Japan

Ok, I’m down, it’s really late / Early, and I’m sleepy.

hopefully there are some gamers who appreciate all the ranting and none-sense I spout about.

…..I REALLY know way too much about the video game industry. it’s sad sometimes… but…




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