Magic: The Gathering, Pure Chess, Mass Effect 3... yup, it was the weekend

Good morning - I sure hope you all had a really nice weekend.  Mine was fairly uneventful - which is not a bad thing at all.  My wife and daughters were out of town since Thursday, leaving my son and I to sit around and kill time how we saw fit.  Generally speaking, that was video games.

One game he and I have both been playing a bit is Pure Chess.


Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 - PlayStation 3 Review

I will start right off by saying that I am not a big fan of the Naruto manga books or television show.  It is not that I dislike it or have anything against anime - it is just that I have never sat down to take any of it in.  My older two in particular are fans of the series and both enjoy anime, so I picked this up largely figuring they might give it a shot.


Some new Madden 13 Screenshots

I'm a huge NFL fan and almost always look forward to the release of the next Madden game.  Say what you will about the series never updating or doing anything new, but I have wound up getting it almost every year and I am planning to continue that trend again this year.


Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Lots of Screenshots

I really enjoyed Transformers: War For Cybertron (you can read the review here if you're interested).  As a result, I've been keeping something of an eye on the upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron game.


What's shaking at Otaku Gaming

And over at Otaku Gaming, I have had quite a few new posts go up over the last week or so.  My latest one?  Good news for Final Fantasy fans who have been looking forward to Final Fantasy Versus XIII.  Things did not seem so rosy last week when rumors the game had been 'quietly cancelled' surfaced, but a new article from IGN states that the game is alive and well.


Risen - Xbox 360 Review

This is a game that I really wanted to like more than I did.  With all the recent talk about Risen 2, I thought it might be a good time to post this review that I have had on my mind for quite some time now.  I have heard that this was a title that was better on PC than Xbox 360, but it is for the latter system I played it.

What is Risen?  It is an open-world action-RPG set against a somewhat generic but pleasant fantasy world.  How long does it take to beat?  That much I'm unsure of.  There were some points of technical excellence, but some failings as well.  I logged about 25-30 hours with Risen before I simply lost interest in it in favor of some other games.


The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav

I remember the first time I saw images for this game - I was immediately taken by the artwork.  I knew absolutely nothing about what the type of game it would be, let alone that it is apparently based on a very popular German RPG.  Then I began to read more about the game and came to discover that The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav is a point and click adventure game from Daedalic Entertainment.


"Broken" Fez patch to be placed back on Xbox Live

I have not played Fez myself, but the game released to considerable acclaim on the Xbox Live network.  Then they updated it with a new patch that was quickly rumored to have a serious bug in it - one that could corrupt your game saves.  Accordingly, that patch was pulled down and the team at Polytron began to investigate the issue.


Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - PlayStation 3 Review

I am coming at this review from a slightly backwards perspective.  My second review on this blog was actually Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  I had never played a CoD game prior to that one, and honestly had never had much interest in it or first-person shooters at that point.  However, when MW2 hit, it was tremendously popular around my workplace.  Finally, two of my co-workers chipped in and basically got it for me for free - so I felt compelled to not only play, but sink a good deal of time into it.  Turns out, I enjoyed the game a great deal.  I haven't played MW2 in a couple of years, but plan to do a re-review on it in the somewhat near future.

See, I eventually traded it in.  I had been playing it quite regularly, but when most of my friends quit playing, so did I.  Then my son got into FPS titles on the PlayStation 3, which has the added benefit of allowing people to play multiplayer titles for free (he does not have a Gold account for Life).  So, my son bought Modern Warfare 1 and 2.

I only recently played the first Modern Warfare, and even though it is not a title I will probably play with any regularity going forward, it really gave me a unique perspective on the series' growth.


Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown - PlayStation 3 Review

I enjoy my fighting games.  I am not always particularly good at them.  I can beat the average button masher in most games, but the truly skilled beat me more often than not.  I do not enjoy the experience any less as a result of that though, because I take it as a personal challenge to get better.  Virtua Fighter is one such game where smashing buttons randomly will almost never end well for the player, but if you sink the time into the deep, precise combat system, you will come away a better player for it.

I have been a fan of the Virtua Fighter series for a long time - ever since I first discovered Virtua Fighter 2 by Sega in the arcade.  While it was not as pretty as say, Street Fighter II, there was a sort of technical precision that drew me in, and it was probably my first brush with a 3D fighter as I believe I discovered Battle Arena Toshinden and Tekken for the PlayStation some time afterward. 


Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 - PC Review

I am a huge fan of Magic: The Gathering.  I have had several posts about the topic in the past - both with release announcements, reviews for the last two Duels of the Planeswalkers games and the fact that I am (once again) playing the actual card game with friends.

Needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on 2013.


Some Mass Effect 3 items

I am a big fan of Mass Effect 3, all the controversies aside.  I am hoping to dust off Mass Effect 2 again soon, and build up a new character to put through 3 for another, different take on the storyline in the somewhat near future and still play the multiplayer component every other weekend when Bioware has their bonus weekends.  There have been several hints at a single player DLC coming soon that may be called Leviathan, in reference to a potentially rogue Reaper.  In the meantime, below are some confirmed goodies.


Viva Pinata: Party Animals - Xbox 360 Review

I have not spent a lot of time with this game, but boy I have seen this game get its use over the last couple of years.  However, I saw it on the shelf next to a few of our other titles and I realized: This game has not been played in quite a while.  I'll start by saying the only person in my family who has given this game much of a whirl has been my youngest.  When she was seven or eight, she really seemed to like it, but somewhere around nine years old and up, it lost her interest.

The characters and scenary all look good, with bright, vivid colors.  My son at one point made a remark that our television looked as though it had been attacked by an army of skittles, so he was less than impressed apparently, but my daughter really seemed to enjoy it.  The sound effects are fine for what they are - goofy sounding character voices and ambient noises that add to the colorful experience.

What about the game though?  Well, I've only picked up a controller a handful of times, and that was at my daughter's request to play with her.  But the title itself is a mash up of racing and mini-games that really did nothing to excite me.  I am okay with bright, colorful and kid-friendly graphics as long as there is some meat to the gameplay.  Sadly, Viva Pinata seldom delivers on that front.

Obviously this game is aimed at children - young children at that.  The mini-games are mind numblingly dull and repetetive.  The racing was a bit more interesting, but only because the mini-games set the bar for entertainment so low.  The challenge is fairly none-existent as well.  I am not sure how long it took my daughter to beat the game, but I swear I have had longer sessions of multiplayer on Mas Effect 3.  I suppose if you like achievements and don't really care how you go about farming them, this game could be of interest to you.  Sure, I'd want those two hours of my life back, but most of the achievements were ridiculously easy to get.  Without a doubt my daughter has more achievements for this game than any other on her player card.

I really cannot recommend it for anyone outside of the kid-friendly five year old demographic.  When I saw it sitting on the shelf, I asked my daughter about it.  After all, she had played it quite a bit a few years ago.  She shrugged and showed no interest as she instead was heading out to the living room to play Little Big Planet, 2.


Otaku Gaming: What's new over there?

With the holidays and my recent bout of being sick, my posting has definitely been down of late.  That being said, I've still be getting fairly regular articles up here and at Otaku Gaming.

I posted a review of Record of Agarest War Zero for the PlayStation 3 there.


The Splatters 50% off from July 10 through July 16

How was your weekend?  Got anything coming up this week you're looking forward to?  If not, maybe take a peek at Xbox Live's discounted games tomorrow.

I really enjoyed The Splatters when it came out on Xbox Live, and if you want to see my review of the game, you can find it here, where I scored it an incredibly solid 8 overall. 


Record of Agarest War Zero - PlayStation 3 Review

 Good morning.  I decided to update my color scheme to be much more summery green and yellow, as it has been a blistering week up here, at least by Michigan standards.  Halo as a backdrop seemed appropriate since my son and I spent most of the 4th playing the Anniversary Edition.  Here's a review to cap off the weekend.  TGIF and I hope you all have an excellent weekend!

One of the earliest games I reviewed on this site was the original Record of Agarest War. I then went back to reevaluate the title not too terribly long ago, after reading about the upcoming Record of Agarest War 2.  This is not a series for anyone.  In fact, truth be told, it really only seems to appeal to a fairly narrow group of gamers, but I just happen to fall into that group.


Crayon Physics Deluxe - PC Review

Another small review here, as this was a title I had never even heard of before getting it with one of my Humble Bundle purchases last year.  I never played any titles like Scribblenauts or Drawn to Life where you get so much control over your encounters, so the idea here is completely novel to me.  The premise is incredibly simple in that you try to move a ball to a target zone while trying to collect 'stars' based on the kind of solution you find.  There is so much flexibility built into this game, because you use your mouse to draw out slopes and objects that can scoop and spin to propel the ball where you want it.  Each level comes with a different layout that you must overcome, and while some are incredibly easy - others are devilishly difficult.

The graphics are not going to amaze anyone from a technical level, but the style is amazing.  You look like you are drawing on paper with crayons, and while that does not sound like much, it is a clever way to present the game's potentially deep mechanics in an appealing way that will appeal to kids.  Sound and music fail to impress as there really is very little in the way of sound to be had here, and the music while pleasant, is not remarkable in any way.  None of it ties into the game in a way that benefits you, so it is all largely forgetable.

The gameplay is hard to try and critique because so much of what happens is open to your imagination.  You can tackles levels in so many different ways.  One level had me pretty well stumped somewhere in the high 50's (there's 70 or so levels, so lots of variety there as well), so I looked it up on Youtube.  What I discovered first of all made me go 'duh' at my own inability to realize the solution - especially when I saw probably eight or nine variants to the solution.

Overall I beat the game in around four or five hours just going straight through it, but if you like the formula?  There's a ton of replay value to be had here given the above paragraph's realization.  It is not a terribly difficult game, but my kids definitely got stumped later on and needed my help more and more frequently as they progressed, but the charming visuals and openly creative puzzle solving really appealed to them and myself.


Happy 4th of July!

I just wanted to take a moment to say a couple of very quick things.  The first?  Happy 4th of July!


Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction - Xbox 360 Review

So this was a game I picked up around a year or so ago very cheaply.  I recalled it getting an outstanding score on IGN and a few other sites, so when I saw it for around ten bucks used, I decided to pick it up.  Then it sat on my gaming shelf, untouched for a long time.  Then one of my buddies at work said he was looking for something new to play at the time, and I knew he was a huge fan of sports and Call of Duty games.  I pointed out that I had Splinter Cell, which I had heard was good, but had not gotten around to playing yet, so he agreed to try it.  He beat it over the weekend and told me it was short, but a lot of fun so I should try it.

So, that next Saturday I did just that, and he was right on both counts.  The game is very short, but it is a lot of fun as well.


So, how was the weekend and any plans this week?

So I have a pretty relaxing weekend with lots of gaming.  Finished off Naruto Ninja Storm 2, nearly done with Game of Thrones, almost have the campaign for Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers done and put a sizable dent into Elemental Monsters Online HD.  I also started White Knight Chronicles 2.  I have some new decks assembled for Magic: The Gathering tonight at work I'm looking forward to trying as well.


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