Shadowgate - PC Review

This throwback to the NES classic hits almost all the right notes

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 - Vita Review

The original game was charming, but flawed. Re;Birth 1 fixes almost all of that.

Akiba's Trip - PS3 Review

It's like playing an anime

Hegemony Rome: The Rise of Caesar - PC Review

Some good takes on the tactical genre, but somewhat lacking in depth in the end

Whispering Willows - PC Review

A memorable, haunting point-and-click adventure

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Transformers: War for Cybertron 360/ps3 game review

Childhood television shows are making for popular source material these days. Shows like He-Man get a new animated series, others like Transformers and G.I. Joe get the movie and game treatment – and all of it is received with mixed results. Generally Transformers has fared a bit better than its counterparts, but even then most people felt that the 2nd movie was inferior to the first and that the movie tie-in games were average at best.

Then it was announced that High Moon was making a Transformers game that was a prequel to the movies and cartoons – dubbed War for Cybertron. The graphics looked pretty good in early stills that were released and seeing an intro video with Omega Supreme walking with other Autobots (I loved the Omega Supreme toy as a kid – c’mon, who doesn’t like seeing that one?) to Peter Cullen’s voiceover as Optimus Prime – it sure felt like High Moon was making a game that had the potential to appeal to diehard Transformers fans. So – how’d they do?



Graphics – 8:

What is there looks very cool. The robots are well animated and the backgrounds have a nice look to them too. Cybertron feels alive with movement and energy, just like its mechanical inhabitants. The transformation animations are especially cool and it looks like a ton of effort was put into the entire process. That makes the occasional framerate stutter all the more frustrating during heavy action sequences, because it really pulls you right out of the experience and can impact combat as well. Also, for as cool as Cybertron looks, it lacks the variation of Earth or other organic worlds. After awhile the textures start to look the same and you don’t have a great deal of variation. Color pallets change but you’re still dealing with moving squares and pulsating energy – from start to finish. It’s a limitation of the source material, but it all does still seem to blur after a time with few standout set pieces that games like Bayonetta become remembered for.



Music & Sound – 7:

The music’s good and fits the pace of the action, but there were few parts that were particularly memorable after you’ve turned off the game either. The voice work is good enough and for fans of the series hearing Peter Cullen reprise Optimus Prime’s voice immediately made a good impression. The sound effects are good and help make the environment and combat feel very alive, but as is often the case with games like this where you fire off a few million rounds, they can get a bit repetitive as well.



Gameplay – 8:

The characters handle well and aiming is really sharp so I had have to give it solid marks there. Also the integration of transforming was handled rather well and plays nicely into some of the online modes, giving them a really unique feel while reprising some of the more common online modes you find in other games. I did have a tendency to run out of ammo fairly frequently, which is one of the factors that adds to a shooting game’s challenge of course, but it does feel like perhaps there was just too little ammo spread around the game at times. I’m torn on the boss battles – they looked impressive and had a nice, epic feel to a few of them, but on the other hand they had a tendency to grow a bit repetitive and somewhat boring in a few instances. Also it should be pointed out that the AI for both enemy and ally alike is fairly limited – they were not terribly smart or creative most of the time. Still, the transformation mechanic is huge in this game and it is a lot of fun, where as in the prior movie tie-in games I thought the mechanic was often flawed and cumbersome.

One area that was a miss was a the lack of a cover system. The game in many ways moves and handles like Gears of War, but feels more like a 3rd person Modern Warfare – you can duck behind the environment – and you have to do so often. But it feels like there should have been an actual cover mechanic put in place that would have given the robot mode just a bit more distinction from the vehicular mode.



Intangibles – 8:

Aside from telling a good story about a beloved franchise and shining a light on events that most people would not be aware of, the game itself is simply a lot of fun to play. It does clock in at a modest 11-14 hours for most gamers, which is about average for a game of this nature. Getting to play as both Decepticons for one part of the story and Autobots for another was pretty cool as well. The multiplayer co-op makes this fun for you to sit down with friends or a kid as well. The online modes are pretty good too. They’re nothing terribly new in and of themselves, but they feel a bit fresher thanks to the transformation modes. One of my friends has been dropping a ton of time into the online mode, which has a decent amount of customization to it and gives you a nice sense of ownership over your transformer that is lacking in games like Modern Warfare 2 where you are a nameless, generic charcter.



Overall – 7.75:

It’s nice to see this kind of a game come out of an established IP. I think it helps that High Moon got to work with more original storyline and was not tied to the plot and characters of the movie. This allowed them to flex their creative muscles a bit – though given the excellent handle they seem to have of the source material, I am certain I am not alone in hoping that they continue to make more games in this series down the road.


Gaming News and Notes from 8-10-10

Just a handful of notes over the last few days that caught my eye…

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light will be coming out for the Xbox 360 first, but it does not include multiplayer right at first. That functionality will be patched in later when the game releases for the PC and PS3 later.

THQ announces that their popular UFC games may start releasing on a slower schedule. Recent reports show that while the game has sold well, the company’s profits have been hurting.

Sorry PSP owners – Force Unleashed 2 just got canceled for it.

Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition is scheduled for release this fall. There’s no details for it yet, but I would guess that the various download packs such as the $40 retail release Awakenings and a few others would come with it. Not a bad deal if you’ve yet to play this game, but probably not much there for people like me who have played through it a few times already. Still, following their recent announcement of Dragon Age 2 – this is a good idea for BioWare to keep interest in their new IP high.

On the collections front, it looks like Ubisoft is going to drop collection packs of Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia. Right now the listings show PS3 only apparently but I suspect we’ll see these show up for the 360 as well.

I enjoy the Guitar Hero and Rockband games – they’re fun with friends and family, and though I feel that they’ve over saturated the market (I dug the Aerosmith and Metallica releases, but these single-group centric releases are starting to feel like a bit much) – I still look forward to the main releases. Well, the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock track list was potentially revealed and here’s what it has:

1. A Perfect Circle - "The Outsider"
2. Aerosmith - "Cryin'"
3. AFI - "Dancing Through Sunday"
4. Alice Cooper - "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
5. Alter Bridge - "Ties That Bind"
6. Anberlin - "Feel Good Drag"
7. Anthrax – "Indians"
8. Arch Enemy - "Nemesis"
9. Atreyu - "Ravenous"
10. Avenged Sevenfold - "Bat Country"
11. Bad Brains - "Re-Ignition (Live)"
12. Band Of Skulls - "I Know What I Am"
13. Black Sabbath - "Children Of The Grave"
14. Blind Melon - "Tones Of Home"
15. Blue Öyster Cult - Burnin' For You
16. Bush - "Machinehead"
17. Buzzcocks - "What Do I Get?"
18. Children Of Bodom - "If You Want Peace… Prepare For War"
19. Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Fortunate Son"
20. Deep Purple - "Burn"
21. Def Leppard - "Pour Some Sugar On Me (Live)"
22. Dethklok - "Bloodlines"
23. Dire Straits - "Money For Nothing"
24. Dragonforce - "Fury Of The Storm"
25. Drowning Pool - "Bodies"
26. Fall Out Boy - "Dance, Dance"
27. Five Finger Death Punch - "Hard To See"
28. Flyleaf - "Again"
29. Foo Fighters - "No Way Back"
30. Foreigner - "Feels Like The First Time"
31. George Thorogood And The Destroyers - "Move It On Over (Live)"
32. Interpol - "Slow Hands"
33. Jane's Addicton - "Been Caught Stealing"
34. Jethro Tull - "Aqualung"
35. John 5 Feat. Jim Root - "Black Widow Of La Porte"
36. Kiss - "Love Gun"
37. Linkin Park - "Bleed It Out"
38. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Call Me The Breeze (Live)"
39. Megadeth - "Holy Wars… The Punishment Due"
40. Megadeth - "Sudden Death"
41. Megadeth - "The Day We Fight!"
42. Metallica Feat. Ozzy Osbourne - "Paranoid (Live)"
43. Muse - "Uprising"
44. My Chemical Romance - "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"
45. Neil Young - "Rockin' In The Free World"
46. Nickelback - "How You Remind Me"
47. Night Ranger - "(You Can Still) Rock In America"
48. Nine Inch Nails - "Wish"
49. Orianthi - "Suffocated"
50. Pantera - "I'm Broken"
51. Phoenix - "Lasso"
52. Poison - "Unskinny Bop"
53. Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
54. Queensrÿche - "Jet City Woman"
55. R.E.M. - "Losing My Religion"
56. RX Bandits - "It's Only Another Parsec…"
57. Rammstein - "Waidmanns Heil"
58. Rise Against - "Savior"
59. Rush - "2112 Pt. 1 - Overture"
60. Rush - "2112 Pt. 2 - The Temples Of Syrinx"
61. Rush - "2112 Pt. 3 - Discovery"
62. Rush - "2112 Pt. 4 - Presentation"
63. Rush - "2112 Pt. 5 - Oracle: The Dream"
64. Rush - "2112 Pt. 6 - Soliloquy"
65. Rush - "2112 Pt. 7 - Grand Finale"
66. Silversun Pickups - "There's No Secrets This Year"
67. Slash Feat. Iggy Pop - "We're All Gonna Die"
68. Slash Feat. Ian Astbury And Izzy Stradlin - "Ghost"
69. Slayer - "Chemical Warfare"
70. Slipknot - "Psychosocial"
71. Snot - "Deadfall"
72. Soundgarden - "Black Rain"
73. Steve Vai - "Speeding"
74. Stone Temple Pilots - "Interstate Love Song"
75. Strung Out - "Calling"
76. Styx - "Renegade"
77. Sum 41 - "Motivation"
78. Tesla - "Modern Day Cowboy"
79. Third Eye Blind - "Graduate"
80. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - "Listen To Her Heart"
81. The Cure - "Fascination Street"
82. The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants"
83. The Edgar Winter Group - "Free Ride"
84. The Hives - "Tick Tick Boom"
85. The Offspring - "Self Esteem"
86. The Ramones - "Theme From Spiderman"
87. The Rolling Stones - "Stray Cat Blues"
88. The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"
89. The Vines - "Get Free"
90. The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
91. Them Crooked Vultures - "Scumbag Blues"
92. Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It"
93. ZZ Top - "Sharp Dressed Man (Live)"