F1 2014 - PS3 Review

Does this racer hold up to other recent titles like Forza or Driveclub?

Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers - Xbox One Review

Plus a look at the new expansion, Garruk's Revenge

Pure Pool - Xbox ONe Review

Pure fun for billiards fans

Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager - PC Review

I surprisingly high amount of depth makes this trip to the moon worthwhile

Digimon All-Star Rumble - PS3 Review

It might tide you over until Smash Bros arrives

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cut the Rope - iPad Review

My wife got an iPad before Christmas. I say my wife because really, I bought it for her. I have slowly begun to use it more and more over the last few months however, and discovered a wealth of games she had acquired for it. Certainly there are practical uses for the device as well, and I love getting sports updates on it, but I will admit - at least half my time is spent playing games on it. Thing is, they're not the kinds of games I would normally download for myself - yet I often find them to be quite a bit of fun.

The premise behind cut the rope is both simple and brilliant. There is a piece of candy suspended by rope or ropes - and you use the touchpad to 'cut' across a rope and cause it to descend - and that is where the varied stages come into play. It is very easy in the beginning to get through the stages and collect the stars - but later on it can be quite a challenge to properly do either.



Graphics - 8:

I find the graphics to be pretty good overall. They're cute, they're bright and they simply exude fun. Keeping in mind that this device is limited compared to actual game consoles, it is therefore up to the developers to do the best with what they have, and this is a pretty good example of doing just that. You can see everything very clearly, and that helps out quite a bit with the gameplay as well.



Sound & Music - 6:

The sound effects are simple and limited, but do their job. The same can really be said of the music. My wife primarily plays the game with sound off on the iPad, but I generally leave it playing, even if it is little more than just background.


Gameplay - 8:

The design is simple and perfect for the iPad or a touch device. You have to move fast on some of the later stages, and that can be a bit frustrating since there are times I know I swipe my finger across a rope and it doesn't take - or doesn't register quick enough. That said, it works well far more often than not and really feels perfect for a touch device like this.



Intangibles - 8:

It really did not take me a terribly long time to get through the stages, but they were cleverly designed and the additional objective of gathering stars (you do this by swinging the candy into them) adds a fair amount of replay value to it. Getting through the stage itself is seldom difficult, and early on all 3 stars come easily. Later on? You're lucky to get one. It's an affective formula.



Overall - 7.5:

This is an inexpensive game and a great little diversion on the iPad. I'm obviously pretty late to the game here, but I am finding some good value not only in the iPad in general, but some of its titles. This is one I can recommend with ease due to its low price and fun gameplay.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Big gaming sales

So, there's a theme right now I'm noticing - Steam, Amazon, Gamersgate, Good Old Games and Gamestop all have various sales going on for digitally downloaded games. I don't usually post sales like this, but I found a ton of great stuff out there and thought others might be interested too. Anything here catch your eye?

Some examples? Good Old Games has Interplay games for 50% off (think early Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics and more)

Gamestop has Fear 3 and Duke Nukem for $20 off. God of War 3 for the PS is listed as normally $30, and they have it for $15. There's a lot of others too.

Gamersgate has had some 2K sales this week. Today's big one? Civilization 5 for $17. That's $33 off. I may be picking this one up later tonight as I've been eying it for awhile...

Amazon has downloadable titles for up to 75% off. Two titles that caught my eye were Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition and Spore. Big discounts on those 2 titles, and plenty more. One thing to look out for is several of the shown titles don't work on Vista/Windows 7 so make sure to check the specs on those, but there are plenty of good prices there.

I know there's a few of you out there who haven't actually gotten into Steam and have talked about it for awhile (I'm looking at you Coffee with Games - who has a great gaming blog of his own) - and the Steam Summer Camp Sale is off to a quick start. They have some contests going right now, but plenty of games too through July 10th - and they started yesterday. This means that what's posted now may not be there for much longer. Ones I bought (hiding this from his wife: Borderlands Game of the Year Edition, Oblivion Game of the Year Edition Deluxe, Recettear, Bit Trip Beat Runner and an expansion for Spectromancer. In total I spent $26. The normal going rate on those would have run me $95.

If you're curious about the breakdown:

Oblivion: Normally $25, on sale for $8.50
Borderlands: Normally $30, on sale for $7.50
Bit.Trip Runner: Normally $10, on sale for $2.50
Spectromancer: Truth and Beauty: Normally $10, on sale for $2.50
Recettear: Normally $20, on sale for $5

There are all games I've eyed in the past, so it seemed like a pretty good time to pick them up :P That said, one thing to watch out for on Steam sales like this is that lots of other content is on sale. For example, I think everything from Epic is like 25 or 33% off. Several times individual titles will show up with steeper discounts on Steams daily sales, so those are usually what I focus on (they had something similar over Christmas. When I picked up King's Bounty, I had seen it listed for 25% off at one point and considered it, but then held off. Glad I did, because it was later offered for like 75% off as a one day sale).

Not all of the deals out there right now are specific to computer, however.

Digitally Downloaded (another really good blog) posted these titles earlier at half off on Xbox live:TMNT: Turtles in Time Reshelled -- was 800mspts, now 400
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light -- was 1200mspts, now 600
  • X-Men Arcade -- was 800mspts, now 400
  • Comic Jumper -- was 800mspts, now 400
  • Hard Corps Uprising -- was 800mspts. now 400
Last but not least, there's some discounted games on PSN right now too:

  • Dead Space Ignition (PSN, Discount)
  • Deathspank (PSN, Discount)
  • Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue (PSN, Discount)
  • Funky Lab Rat (PSN, Discount)
  • Magic Orbz (PSN, Discount)
  • Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom (PSN, Discount)
  • MicroBot (PSN, Discount)
  • Shank (PSN, Discount)
  • Spare Parts (PSN, Discount)
  • Tetris (PSN, Discount)
  • The Fancy Pants Adventures (PSN, Discount)
I've been keeping a pretty good pace on reviews lately - about every 3 days. I am hoping to keep that going for awhile and would appreciate any comments about titles of interest - they're all over the place in terms of age, system, genre. And glancing up at the list above... I suspect I'll have plenty more incoming over the next couple of months. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gaming Thoughts... 6/30/11

Got a few quick ones here.

First, hackers suck. Of course, I could be talking about the Sony downtime or the various gaming companies hit by this particular internet blight, but unfortunately I'm referring to my own situation. Apologies for anyone who got a spam email from my Yahoo! account. My work machine apparently picked up spyware (downside to tech support - I'm stuck opening files and visiting sites customers want me to go to frequently and it looks like one infected my cpu) - and then my email got hacked shortly after (some incredibly bored person spent nearly 2 hours sending out individual emails w/ links in them according to my sent folder that next morning - downside to having that email account for over a decade - I've accumulated a lot of addresses in my addy book).

Work cpu is currently getting wiped by IT, I've changed all my passwords, should be good to go but I apologize all the same.

Next up, a quick thought on Nintendo: I really feel like they're giving their Wii customers the bird. There's really no other way for me to put it (okay, I suppose there's a lot of other ways to put it, but I don't really want to).

I felt like E3 was almost a joke for Wii customers. Their main presentation only showed one title, and everything else was about the 3DS and the Wii U. There were very few titles for the Wii shown separately as well of interest. Now on top of that, there are a trio of games that North American gamers have been waiting on for some time:

- Xenoblade Chronicles
- Last Story
- Pandora's Tower

Now mind you, these are not titles everyone's been excited for, but enough people have been excited that a lot of gamers have come together to try and draw attention to the titles and get a response from the big N about whether or not they will come to the US as sites like IGN have been teasing content from them for a long time. Apparently Nintendo even told IGN they would have a specific, detailed response for the website on the matter - but has apparently backpedaled and made a brief Twitter and Facebook post saying that these titles would not be making their way to North America. You can read more about it here.

So, what do you think? Is Nintendo making a mistake? Are they blowing off Wii customers? Is this just a big to-do about nothing at all?

My personal feelings are that it sucks. I've been looking forward to 2 of these games for quite awhile. I haven't seen many compelling Wii titles released of late, and those two things combined with E3 have me quite down on the system and Nintendo. What does that mean for me? Hard to say. If I buy a handheld, I'm probably going Vita. I believe Sony's device looks more appealing, but if all things were equal I'd probably lean toward the non-Nintendo device right now on principle. Does that affect my interest in the Wii U? Maybe a bit, if only because I feel a bit let down by Nintendo lately to begin with, but I'm still very skeptical on the console at this point anyway.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marvel Trading Card Game - PSP Review

I grabbed this game awhile back on a whim - it was one of my first PSP games. I generally dig card-based games, Marvel's a fun property and it was pretty inexpensive at the time. Overall, I had some fun with it. The game is lacking in bells and whistles, but the card strategy elements are pretty sound. There is not a great deal of revolutionary gameplay to discover here, but it does provide a pretty decent diversion.



Graphics 4:

I mean, there's almost no animation to speak of here. The cards are not real easy to read, and the layouts get a bit claustrophobic at times. I understand that this is a card game, but it sort of feels like a missed opportunity given the Marvel property they had to work with.



Sound & Music - 5:

The music is pretty decent actually, but it repeats a lot. The sound effects are absolutely minimal. Again, it is a card game and with that comes this sort of stigma where good graphics and sound are not needed, and while that is true, it does not mean they need to be so badly neglected either.



Gameplay - 6:

There are some different modes, including an online mode that seemed to be getting a lot more traffic a couple of years ago when I first got the game than it has now. Still, the game mechanics are solid and mostly fun, though some of the winning requirements to the story mode in a handful of stages were frustrating. The deck building is a lot of fun though, and the way you get cards for your deck is pretty addictive.



Intangibles - 7:

There are a lot of cards to go through, and a lot of different strategies you can employ in deck building. I love that part of the game. Deck design is one of my favorite parts of games like this. Unlocking more cards is addictive as well. The actual story mode is not too bad, and gives you a good excuse to play through solo. Online used to be a lot more active before, it seemed pretty vacant when I was recently poking around. Still, if you like single player card games like this, it can be found pretty cheaply.



Overall - 5.5:

I actually enjoyed the game more than the score would indicate, and at the price it may be worth a pickup. This game has been out for some time - I believe 2006. I saw a copy of this at Disc Traders for $4 the other day. That said, you have to be a fan of this type of game. It is not going to resonate real well for people who prefer heavy action games, but I thought that it actually suited the portable nature of the PSP better than it would have on say, a PS3 or Xbox 360.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Gaming thoughts... 6/27/11

I just saw this headline:

Court: California can't ban violent video game sales

I'll be honest, I haven't been following this case too closely. A) It's nowhere near me B) My kids don't buy video games without me currently and C) I had my 13 year anniversary yesterday and couldn't have cared less about video games by and large. :) Had to slip that last one in there.

But seriously - I sort of viewed this whole bill as similar to the 'no more happy meal' or 'no more Ronald McDonald', and the slew of other odd bills people are trying to pass. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of games my kids aren't allowed to play. And being an avid gamer, I probably have a much better idea of a game's content than most other parents - that's what the ESRB labels are for.

But it's a parent's job to regular the movies, games, french friends and whatever else our kids are doing - at least that's my take. Obviously, it's not everyone's. Some of my readers are parents, others aren't - what do you think of the gaming bills like this one in California that got voted down? In case you're unfamiliar with it, the story can be found here.

Also if you're curious, here is Executive vice president and chief public policy officer of Activision Blizzard Incorporated George Rose's opinion on the bill earlier this year.