Categories
3DS 3DS Reviews

New Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the newest big titles released on the Nintendo 3DS. This time around, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach, but besides that, the Mushroom Kingdom is overflowing with coins! Now Mario must rescue her, and also collect 1 million coins! Why? Who knows?

When it comes to the story, there is nothing new what so ever. I would try to put the coin side quest as a main plot point, but besides you trying to get 1 million coins, there’s no backstory to it, and no explanation on why we must get that many coins. It’s an incredible challenge. Not because of difficulty, but because of the time consuming grinding you will be doing. The whole game was incredibly short. I beat all of the worlds in less than 4 hours.

Gameplay is still the same. Control is still fun, and the levels are designed the old Mario way: some fun and entertaining, and others a bit lazy feeling. The core system used now is based around trying to get coins. There are now golden Flowers, which turn anything Mario fires at into gold coins. There are also gold rings, which make enemies turn to gold at your touch, letting you get a bunch of coins when you defeat them. Even with this though, getting to 1 million will take you a long time. I’ve spent exactly 8 hours on the game, and I’ve collected a little less than 50 thousand coins. I loved playing this, but getting to that million is just too much of a grind for me. You will end up playing only a handful of levels over and over, just because they give the most coins the fastest. It’s a shame. If they just increased the amount of coins from defeating golden enemies, and maybe increased the frequency of golden flowers, it could have been faster, easier, and even more fun. It still is fun if you play it in small chunks of time.

The soundtrack of this game doesn’t sound any different than previous Mario games. That isn’t a bad thing, but a bit more originality would have been appreciated. I really loved the visuals however. The 3D still gives a bit of a head ache after a while, but the style of the game was really easy on the eyes. Besides that, nothing is new.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a risk of buying. If you love grinding for hours and hours, then this is an absolute must-buy. If you hate repetitive game play, chances are very high you will have wasted your money. Even with the grind, in my opinion, NSMB2 is a must have in anyone’s 3DS collection.

 

3/5

Categories
PC PC Reviews

Torchlight 2 Review

Torchlight 2 is the big sequel to Torchlight, which is now available on Steam. Torchlight 2 took everything Diablo 3 did, and made it even better. With an insane amount of replay value and content, Torchlight 2 is a great deal at only $20. Is the quantity equal to the quality? Yes it is, and here is why.

When it comes to gameplay, TL2 is chocked full of possibilities and combinations to experience. There are now 4 classes to choose from in the game: Embermage (the spell caster), Berserker (barbarian), the Outlander (the gunslinger), and the Engineer (the powerhouse). My preferred class in any RPG is the mage, but in this game I was also drawn to all three other classes, and I ended up trying them all out for chunks at a time. Besides the classes there are also new pets that can be by your side; the Ferret, Chakawary, Cat, Bulldog, Hawk, Panther, and the Wolf. Your pet will fight by your side in battle, and can also carry loot as well. Not only does this make it possible to have more inventory space, but you can also send your companion back to town to sell off the loot you have given it, saving time in the long run from having to travel back and forth from battle to town.

You get experience points and reputation points from leveling up from battles/quests. The more quests you complete, the more your name gets spread across the land. This adds to the feeling that the world around you in the game is alive, with the NPCs acknowledging your accomplishments. With XP, you level up, and each time you level up, you can choose stats to increase, such as strength, dexterity, magic, and health. Alongside increasing these stats, you will get one point per level to either unlock or upgrade a new move/spell. These will be very helpful farther into the game when your default powers become less efficient in large battles. One of my main complaints, however, is the battles themselves. The animations and visuals for battling are nice, but when you are surrounded by a large mob, the explosions, magic, and other visual effects do clog up the view, which made it harder to concentrate and see what was going on.

Like in Torchlight 1, when using the controls in the game, get your mouse ready. You’ll be using the left and right mouse buttons to click almost everything. The only times I found myself pressing anything else was either when I used a special attack, a potion, or to open my inventory. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a bit of variety would have been appreciated. Aside from that, the controls were nice and simple. This makes this game easy to pick up for anyone.

The plot of the story is easy to follow. Taking place years after Torchlight 1, The Alchemist is corrupted by the evil power from the first game, and it is up to you to take up the role as a hero to stop them. The story takes place throughout three acts, and you will be pacing through a huge world to get from one place to another. Besides the main quest, there are the generic side quests, such as saving a group of hostages or even fishing. As an RPG lover I always enjoy a good story, but sadly in this game I found myself zoning out in the dialogue sequences. It was nothing special, but it was still a good plot.

The graphics and soundtrack of this game are great. I found myself in awe of the artwork of the scenery and characters, and the OST of the game was entertaining as well. Right now if you go to their website you can pick up the soundtrack for free, which is great to even listen to outside the game. The visual effects as stated above are stunning, but it does block a lot of the screen.

Torchlight 2 is a great RPG, and is easy to pick up and learn. It has an incredible amount of content, and is definitely worth the price it is currently at. The battle visuals and stereotypical plot were a slight downside, but all-in-all Torchlight 2 is a fun time to be had by all.

4/5

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Podcasts Trophy Whores

Trophy Whores 87 – Another 120 Minute Episode

The boys talk Darksiders, Borderlands2, Vita, & why the PS3 just got smaller, there’s even a Kingdom Heart’s HD Coll-suck…ion (collection) in there. The reason are talking about these things is mainly because we’re a talking show. So, go ahead and push play & listen to what we got to say.

We appreciate you listening!!

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If you wish, you can always download the show here – Trophy Whores 87 – Another 120 Minute Episode

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Playstation VIta Playstation Vita Reviews

LittleBigPlanet Vita Review

LittleBigPlanet Vita is a completely zero-compromise LittleBigPlanet game. It refuses to sacrifice any of what makes LBP so great with its transformation to the Vita, and feels completely natural on the system. While LBPV doesn’t revolutionize the core formula of LBP, it does have the best story mode in both level design and hilarious characters, while also implementing touch in a way that works remarkably well. It’s amazing that Double 11 has simultaneously created the best LBP game while also making the best thing on the Vita yet.

 

The most surprising thing about LBPV is how naturally it translates to the Vita. Its simple and familiar controls quickly become second nature. Anything that you want in an LBP game is here; gadgets, tools, visual fidelity, creation tool, and even 4-player multiplayer are there in full force. If you’ve never been into LittleBigPlanet before, LBPV isn’t going to sway you. There’s no doubt that it is the strongest game in the series, but it is more LittleBigPlanet and not much else.

 

In typical LBP fashion, the story consists of a new fantasy world, now Carnivalia, in danger of destruction by a fearful force, played by The Puppeteer this time around. From there you can expect to travel from world to world, each one varying from each other visually and aesthetically, and also encountering wacky characters. Although LBPV’s story is uninspired and predictable, it’s the most well done story mode yet. Each world’s level feels more cohesive than ever before, and each character encountered is well-voiced and entertaining. LBPV also puts a much larger emphasis on cutscenes than before, including more legitimate voice acting rather than gibberish with speech bubbles.

 

LBPV has the best use of the front and back touch screen on the Vita yet. You can interact with objects directly in the world, like holding down a block and letting go to act as a springboard or extruding platforms to run across. These simple implementations inevitably become more complex, but it never becomes intrusive or annoying because the game never requires twitch-accuracy. You can always take it slow and take your hand off of the screen. It’s also a nice touch that back touch blocks and front touch blocks are different colors and have specific features that make them easy to point out. But LBPV’s touch features venture far beyond platforming implementations.

 

Apart from the core LittleBigPlanet story levels; Double 11 has included an extra pack of standalone games that have nothing to do with LBP, called the Arcade. Each game takes advantage of one of LBPV’s biggest new features, the Memorizer, which now allows you to create a level in which the player can save progress to return to later. Not only are the games are very simple and serve as an entertaining distraction; they also serve as inspiration for what people could do in the creative mode.

 

A lot of LBPV’s creative mode is unchanged, though there are a few important new features like the Memorizer. The addition of touch significantly changes the flow of creating. Shapes can be reshaped and moved with two fingers. If you drag a finger while forming landscape, it really helps you to make small details. For those who are very much used to the classic creation controls, you can still use two sticks instead. There are also a slew of new in-depth tutorials to delve into, all voiced by the wonderful Stephen Fry, of course. Seriously though, the tutorials can get insane, which makes me all the more amazed at the things that the community has already made, and what it will eventually come up with. For every LBP game to date, the community has found ways to surpass the creativity of the included levels. If this is to stay true with LBPV, I can’t wait to see what the community will come up with, because we have big shoes to fill.

 

The game also adds multiplayer into the mix, unlike its PSP cousin from years past. Using the on board microphone and keyboard on the Vita makes it much easier to communicate with people you’re playing, especially when playing with headphones. It also seems (as early as it is) that server fidelity is much better than in the past LBP games. It can sometimes get confusing when figuring out who should activate a touch-compatible object when any of the four players have the ability to. I only ever had a few hitches, and when I did it had more to do with my proximity to the wireless adapter in my house. Assuming you have a good internet connection, multiplayer on LBPV is a ton of fun.

 

The soundtrack in LBP games have always been fantastic, and LBPV is no exception. This time around the soundtrack focuses much more on ambient tunes that do a fantastic job of establishing atmosphere. Not to mention that you can create music using a simple sequencer while making a level, which has already led to some really cool tunes in some community levels I’ve seen thus far.

 

While we have yet to see the true potential of the community in LPBV, I’m extremely excited to see what in the world people are going to think up. Being that it’s on the Vita, coming back to the game every once in a while to see what’s new in the Community section is easier and more convenient than ever. For those without a 3G Vita (like myself) have the opportunity to download any community level for offline use, which is easily one of the smartest things they could’ve done.

 

Who would’ve thought that more LittleBigPlanet on a more convenient system was all that was required to make the best LBP yet? With how poorly LBPV could’ve turned out being attached to a different developer and the potential of sacrifices on the Vita, it’s all that more amazing that they pulled it off. It’s not going change the mind of anyone who’s never enjoyed the floaty platforming of Sackboy, but will completely satisfy the fans. Pick it up, because it’s the best the best thing on Vita to date.

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita gets a 5/5

Categories
PC PC Reviews

Paranormal Review

Paranormal is the type of game that will leave you wishing that this never happens to you. You are Matel Clark, an artist who has decided to record the recent events transpiring in his house. The game places you in the setting of a house in San Francisco, California that has been around since 1910 and is being haunted by its previous owners. The worst part about this haunting is that there is no escape from this nightmare.

When you first enter this game you are presented with some amazing graphics and overall good gameplay. The controls are simple as well: W, A, S, D to move and F to turn your light on or off. Using shift will allow you to sprint; just in case you feel as though you need to leave…now. The flashlight is good when you’re in that dark area and you just need it on, or if you need it for comfort. You are able to use either a mouse/keyboard for this game or the XBOX 360 controller.

Background on this story begins in 1910 when you get a look at the house history and learn how the haunting began by looking into different journal entries. The scary story that’s presented to you will hinder you from wanting to progress further, but do continue. The game has different endings, dependent on how you go about doing things. Be careful. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in the grasp of a horrific apparition. As you progress further into the game your house begins to take on a whole new look as the spirit haunting it moves everything and makes its mark all around the house.

The sound combined with the graphics add to the horror as you hear the happenings going on around the house and the scream of the spirit that is so angered with you for living in its domain. The sounds around the house are the scariest part; leaving you to wonder if it is coming for you or if it is making its presence known. I recommend you to adjust your volume accordingly unless you want to go deaf. The cries of this tormented soul are not as pleasant as you may think.

Being in a beta, this game has many bugs. Walking through solid objects is not something that should happen. I ran into an issue while playing the game where my character continuously rotated; which I found funny at first then began to despise because it started to ruin the gameplay. I also had an issue with going into the options to change settings, but it would not save the changes.

Paranormal is a very well designed and well thought out game with a great back story. This game deserves more attention and support. I recommend getting this game because it is a great buy, especially if you get it while it’s in beta rather than when the game is officially done to save some money.

Paranormal gets a 4/5.

Categories
XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Dust: An Elysian Tale Review

Dust: An Elysian Tale is the last game in 2012’s Summer of Arcade, and it finishes the series with a bang. Every year there is a game that stands out from the rest and Dust is that game this year. Despite being a game designed by a solo person, it’s wonderful art design and crisp controls manage to raise it above the few minor complaints I had with the game

 

Combat in Dust starts from minute one and doesn’t slow down for the rest of the game; a strength that really makes the game stand out. While only having a few basic abilities at first, like the ability to dash behind them and strike them from behind or pop them in the air, the game strategically gives you more techniques to string together massive combos without overwhelming you. One of the greatest feelings in the game is how easy it is to get a combo in the 500’s or above due to how crisp the combat feels. Whether it be dashing, jumping, or smashing an enemy, there is never any doubt what you are doing at any given time. While the combat is great, one of the most disappointing aspects in the game is the sub-par boss battles. While all the boss battles fit into the story surprisingly well, none of them are really fun to fight. All use just two or three basic attacks that are easily figured out. The bosses aren’t very intimidating due to them all being the same size as you. Dust is also plagued with having a final boss fight that is too long and easily cheesed using the spinning magic attack.

 

One of the first things you notice even before you start the game is how beautiful it looks. From the environments to Dust’s ability to provide a strong sense of atmosphere, the game is visually stunning. As you travel through dimly lit caverns, snow covered mountain ranges, and long-destroyed forests, every area has a very unique tone, fitting directly into the story. Another major strength is how well-designed the characters are. Each one of them stands out with very unique look and dialogue that fits the characters, which really adds to the enjoyment of the story.

 

Beyond the main story mode, Dust succeeds at making you return to its world long after you “beat” the story. With RPG elements like crafting, quests, and stat point allocation, there are many things to keep you going. In each major area there are plenty of side quests to do that give lots of XP and are lots of fun. Once you’ve leveled up, there are four options for you to put your points into: Health, Attack, Defense, and Magic. Whether it’s finding the ingredients you need in order to craft or finding the recipes, the crafting system is another great aspect of the game and is very rewarding. The one thing I spent the most time in after finishing the game was finding all the hidden indie buddies they placed throughout the environment. These buddies increase your health each time you found them and each has a special environment built for them on the map.

 

Players who play straight through the game completing minimal side quests can beat the game in about 12 hours, but Dust’s real depth comes from experiencing everything it has to offer. That can push your time to over 20 hours. Be it exploring the “Metroidvania”-like map or just enjoying the crisp combat system, there is much to enjoy in Dust. This 2D masterpiece made by one single man is a wonderful piece of work and should be played by any fan of videogames.

 

Dust gets a 5/5.

Categories
XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Dogfight 1942 Review

In Dogfight 1942 players climb into the cockpit and into the shoes of one of four pilots taking on Axis powers during four different air campaigns. They span such historical campaigns as the Battle of Britain, the war in Africa, the Eastern Front and the Pacific island-hopping campaign.

The game features more than 20 iconic aircraft from the WWII era including the P-51 Mustang to the P-38 Lightening. Players will conduct missions ranging from escorting bombers to shooting down V2 rockets before they can make it to their destination. Even with all that going for it, Dogfight 1942 manages to fall somewhat flat.

The first thing you notice when you start up the campaign is the mediocre voice acting. From take-off until the end of every mission you are condemned to listening to half-hearted attempts at emotion and borderline racism. By the time you reach the third mission you will realize that there is no common narrative going on. The story for this game is nearly non-existent. From a graphical standpoint the mediocrity continues. Dogfight 1942 could easily be mistaken for a late original Xbox game or a PS2 title.

 

On the bright side, Dogfight’s combat is engaging and fun, especially with the inclusion of Ace mode. Dogfight’s greatest attribute is the pure simplicity of the controls, as anybody can pick up a controller and pilot their fighter with the precision of the Red Baron. The addition of an easy to play “couch co-op” means you and a buddy could be shooting down axis pilots all night long, and at a price point of only $15 (1200 MSP) it’s an affordable foray into the aerial combat genre.

Despite its failures Dogfight 1942 manages to be a decent addition to the aerial combat genre.

I give Dogfight 1942 a 3 out of 5.

Categories
Playstation 3 PlayStation 3 Reviews XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Borderlands 2 Review

In late 2009, Borderlands was released to the fans gripping them with exciting co-op and as many guns as you can imagine. While not a perfect game by any means, Borderlands built up a good following and had many successful DLC packs, allowing for a sequel to be released. Fast forward to now, Gearbox is at it again bringing us Borderlands 2 touting 870 gajillion guns, a more in depth story, and new classes; and I am happy to say they have succeeded.

 

In the first Borderlands, there were four classes: Brick the Berserker, Lillith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, and Roland the Soldier. While these characters return as NPCs, this game introduces four new characters: Salvador the Gunzerker, Maya the Siren, Axton the Commando, and Zer0 the Assassin Class. While I spent time with all of them, the person I played the most was Axton the Commando. Each class has a special ability ranging from a turret to briefly going invisible to do massive damage. Out of all of the classes, the Deception ability from Zer0 was the most fun. Depending on how you spec him out you can do ridiculous critical hit damage or even chain together kills to keep you in deception for a long period of time. Playing alone, the way you spec only impacts your game due to your preference, but playing with friends is where specs really come into play. In the few opportunities I had to play co-op, the way you build up your character can help your team. For example, I threw down two turrets that created shields to help protect our team while also regenerating our ammo. I also experimented with more attack-based combat by increasing my damage and having my turrets fire missiles. I really enjoy the new Badass Ranks system which replaces weapon proficiency from Borderlands. When you achieve a new Badass Rank you unlock a Badass Token that allows you to unlock a buff for your character. You gain Badass rank by completing milestones like killing enemies during the night or getting certain amounts of kills on different types of enemies. Given the many different ways you can spec your characters, each class is very unique and fun to play.

 

One of my biggest gripes in the original Borderlands was the lack of a deep and gripping story. While the original introduced some interesting characters, it was hard to feel invested in them because of how quickly you moved on from them. Luckily, in Borderlands 2 this has turned on its heels. There are many long quest lines that get you well acquainted with the characters and have meaningful outcomes. For players of the original game, many characters such as Scooter, Mad Moxxi, Dr. Zed, and Marcus Kincaid return to give you quest. The addition of a very polarizing antagonist, Handsome Jack, is one of the main contributions to a more complex story-line. The storyline of your objective against Handsome Jack has some great turns that even surprised me at some points and made me want to know what happens. There were some moments in the story line that genuinely made me feel disappointed and motivated to take down the evil power that is Handsome Jack.

 

The gameplay in Borderlands 2 remained relatively the same with only some minor differences. The gunplay in the game feels relatively unchanged. It may be a bit more responsive. All of the guns shoot and feel the way they should; even the more unique ones like the guns you throw at enemies once you empty the clip. The guns are one of the more improved things in Borderlands 2. In the original, you would find lots of guns, but they all felt the same and weren’t very unique. Now each manufacturer has a unique look and feel to the guns and heavily influence the way you play. Using a good combination of weapon types and elemental types of weapons, you should be in good control of every battle. The AI of the enemies in the original game were heavily criticized and I feel it is one of the few things that hasn’t improved that much. While there are many unique types of enemies who change the way you fight against them, you rarely have to face them with other types of enemies. This makes defeating them quite easy. After finding the best way to defeat an enemy they will never be hard to defeat again. My only other complaint is the lack of fun boss fights. While all the boss fights fit thematically into the game, none of them were very hard to defeat. Usually, the only reason it was difficult was because the boss had a massive life bar that took time to take down. Also returning to Borderlands 2 is the Catch-A-Ride system that allows you to get across areas by vehicles. This system is left relatively untouched aside from adding a new type of car that fits all four characters. The cars still drive very loosely, but they are still fun to hop in and drive around. Despite these few flaws the game is still very fun to play.

 

I was sucked in to spending endless hours on the game, devoting around 38 hours into my main character completing a majority of the quests. While I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked in the multiplayer co-op, it still works great with an easy drop-in and drop-out style. The only problem is that if you are over-leveled or under-leveled, the game doesn’t scale to you. With lots of opportunity for replay in True Vault Hunter Mode (which helps you continue leveling to 50 and gives you better loot as well as the ability to go back through the game with any character) I can see myself playing for a while. There is also the task of killing Terramorphous, a Level 50 boss, that is extremely difficult. From the very compelling story, ridiculous amounts of loot, and hours upon hours of co-op fun, Borderlands is a must pick-up for any avid video game player.

 

Borderlands 2 gets a 5/5

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Podcasts Trophy Whores

Trophy Whores 86 – The Trophy Whores Killer

The mystery comes to an end. We finally find out who the mysterious killer of the Trophy Whores is! Join TrickyMic, Alex and Donny as they discuss the new PlayStation firmware, Resident Evil DLC, Metal Gear goodness and much much more!

We appreciate you listening!!

Please make sure to subscribe to the Trophy Whores feed in iTunes or RSS and please leave a review.

You can find us on Twitter: @TrophyWhores, and @ProvenGamer

You can also email us at TrophyWhores@provengamer.com

If you wish, you can always download the show here – Trophy Whores 86 – The Trophy Whores Killer

Categories
PC PC Reviews

Guild Wars 2 Review

The superlative “Most Revolutionary MMO of 2012” is most often used when describing Guild Wars 2. Seeing as I was a fan of Guild Wars 1 and played it quite a bit, I knew that I had to pick up this game the minute it was announced. I honestly have a hard time describing it as revolutionary playing the game for as long as I have and experiencing most of the content. The good thing is that Guild Wars 2 is still a fantastic game that does so much more right than it does wrong. I’m going to break down what are, in my opinion, the three main points about the game: the combat system, the story/interactions with the environment, and World versus World alongside the MMO tradition of PvP and PvE.

 

One of the most interesting things about Guild Wars 2 is the combat system. The abilities and your skill system are broken down into three parts: your first 5 abilities are dictated by what weapons you have equipped, your 6th is a self-heal, and your 7-9 abilities are utility talents that you can use to strengthen yourself or the environment. While at first it seems shallow only having the option to choose 3 abilities, those 3 abilities are useful and can define your entire play-style. For example, my Mesmer is built for support so her abilities are centered on locking other characters down and taking them out of the fight. Other abilities include gadgets, bombs, turrets, poisons and a whole slew of other fun things to play with by each class. Guild Wars 2 also has a trait system which acts just like talents from other MMOs to wither abilities or characters. The combat and skill system is surprisingly deep. Combine that with the ability to move and you’ll experience the blending of a traditional MMO meets MOBA game, even if some skills seem to not be working as intended.

 

Surprisingly, Guild Wars 2 has a very intriguing storyline. Set 250 years after the events of Eye of the North, the dragons (creatures of pure primal energy) have awoken and started taking flight across Tyria, laying waste to other parts of the continent. Your story starts off a lot simpler, but soon you discover what is really happening as you join one of the three orders of Tyria to discover how to stop it. While the story certainly grasps you, the NPCs in the game will call you hero or constantly thank you for your heroics and what you’ve already accomplished. It really draws you in when you enter Faction City or Lion’s Arch and people will stop to wave at you or greet you as you pass, interrupting their conversation to do so.

 

Last but not least, let’s get to the fun stuff that is PvE and PVP. PvE is divided into 2 types: instanced story quests and events. Instanced story can be done by you or a group of friends so you won’t have to fight solo if you don’t want. Events can be done in groups where you get experience and karma (a currency used to exchange for gear from event givers and certain merchants) for your level of participation. PvP is divided into two types as well: Structured (sPvP) and World versus World (WvW). Structured PvP is reminiscent of GW1 where everyone starts out at max with everything unlocked and access to all gear and gear mods. This mode is great for discovering class builds and how a character feels. Structured PvP is also the home of Tournament PvP, which is where the E-Sports and competitiveness of this game lies. WvW is a very fun alternative to leveling where you get boosted to 80 and stats modified to meet it without getting your abilities unlocked. WvW gives you a great way to get XP. All you have to do is level equal items and materials for crafting and you use those supplies to upgrade. It is very reminiscent of Dark Age of Camelot’s PvP where you capture towers, supply camps and castles. It is a great feeling to see massive armies clash and to see your guild flag fly high above a keep which hides broken bodies within the castle walls.

 

Guild Wars 2 might not be revolutionary but it is definitely a much needed evolutionary step. GW2 adds a fresh take to the MMO and adds a whole bunch of features and fun things to do. The game is flawed in some respects. Some classes have skills that are broken and there is a huge XP gain unbalance in WvW (which I recommend to level from rather than PvE from the speed alone) but it’s definitely a game worthy of your time. With a fresh look at Tyria and old throwbacks to GW1 that cannot be ignored, Guild Wars 2 easily gets a 4/5.

Categories
Playstation 3 PlayStation 3 Reviews XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Double Dragon Neon Review

The Double Dragon franchise has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. From the original game in 1987 to the iPhone release in 2011, Double Dragon has stretched itself over many decades, and several platforms. Unfortunately for many fans of the series (and to those unlucky enough to give this game a try), Double Dragon Neon (DDN) does not move forward in any sort of positive direction. In fact, aside from some new visuals and music, it hardly moves at all.

 

Look familiar?

 

Good news first, DDN is colorful and features some very cool music that syncs well with the style of play. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new “Stances” and different powers to aid you in your quest to save Marion. Some of these powers feature extensive and thrilling visuals, while others are quite bland. Co-op mode is just as fun as it has always been in Double Dragon games, and gives you an even larger arsenal of attacks to throw at your enemies. That aside, none of the positive features in any way make up for how broken this game actually is. What was acceptable in 1987 just doesn’t quite cut it with modern day action games.

 

Light ‘em up!

 

So now we come to the unfortunate bad news, and given the immenseness of it, let’s take it slow. My first case against DDN is how the game seems to drag along at a monotonous pace. The music and visuals cry out to make this a fast-paced, action-packed game, but this is simply not the case. DDN is slow and repetitive, with horrible control mechanics and frustrating combat design. Besides the fact that almost all moves require perfect alignment on the player’s part, most enemies have some sort of attack that makes them seemingly invulnerable for its duration. Prepare to spend a lot of time on the ground in DDN, especially early on as you stagger to get a handle on the controls.

 

Boredom and frustration are a potent mix for button mashing, which is what you’ll ultimately revert to after realizing how taxing it is to die in DDN. If at any point an opponent manages to knock you out for good, you’ll be sent all the way back to the beginning of that level. No big deal right? Wrong, as you’ll now be faced with all of the same enemies, in the exact same intervals, with the exact same frustrating problems that you wrestled your way through the first time (or second, or third, etc…).

 

Managing to survive yields this little gem

 

While not quite as bad as the live action film in 1994, which to this day still has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, DDN certainly does not do any favors to the franchise. My advice would be to let a once glowing franchise keep its proper place in 1980 and remain a classic in our hearts.

 

Classics never die… unless you

murder them in cold blood.

Categories
Playstation 3 PlayStation 3 Reviews XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Rock Band Blitz Review

After the downfall of rhythm games in 2010, thousands of people were left with unused plastic instruments taking up space in their homes. There was never anything legitimately wrong with rhythm games, but oversaturation combined with the absence of innovation drove them into the ground. In the last few years Harmonix has rebounded off of their rhythm game past with their huge Kinect success, Dance Central, seemingly leaving Rock Band behind. Rock Band Blitz is about the smartest thing Harmonix could have done to subtly return to their former love while also adding new gameplay twists that completely change the way you think about Rock Band. And if you’re not into the new gameplay style, think of it as a fifteen dollar song pack for Rock Band 3.

 

Imagine the note highway you’re used to in Rock Band. Now imagine a track for all five instruments, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, lyrics, and piano, all laid next to each other. Now imagine that each track only holds two notes a time, rather than five. And finally, imagine burning every plastic instrument you own and picking up a controller instead. This is how one plays Rock Band Blitz, and yes, burning the plastic instruments is necessary.

 

The inherent gameplay of Rock Band Blitz is incredibly smart, forcing you to strategically decide which track you’re hitting notes on at any given time. It’s impossible to not miss notes, so paying attention to which tracks currently have the most notes or which track is closest to the next multiplier is infinitely important. Blitz introduces a new score multiplier system, the foundation of what makes Blitz strategic. At the beginning of a song, you can get any instrument up to 3x. After 30-45 seconds have passed, you reach a checkpoint, which raises the score multiplier level cap by three. If you were able to get three instruments to 3x, but a few were stuck at 2x when you reach the checkpoint, the level cap is only raised to that level, making 2x the new minimum rather than 3x. It might sound super complicated, but is very simple and intuitive in practice.

 

Throwing even more depth into a relatively simple genre, there a load of different power-ups that you can purchase with coins earned from playing songs. You can equip a maximum of three different power-ups at a time, each one pertaining to a different aspect of the gameplay. Bandmate, one of my personal favorites, plays a track automatically for a limited amount of time when activated. Power-ups like Bandmate consume Star Power, or whatever they’re calling it nowadays, but others are more passive, like Super Drums, which just makes drum notes worth more points. If you’re low on coins, you must consolidate on which power-ups to purchase, and possibly just roll without a third one for a while until your funds are back up. In my experience, I’ve never been below 4000 coins, so there’s no need to worry too much about it.

 

One of the best things about Blitz is its ability to import every song you already owned of the Music Store or in Rock Band 3. Apart from the 25+ songs the game already comes with, importing previously purchased songs adds even more initial value to the package. You can also purchase any song already featured in the Music Store, which will surely make a few dollars disappear out of your wallet. Songs are also added weekly to the store, so expect to come back to Blitz periodically to see what’s new.

 

Where Rock Band Blitz really starts to bum me out is in its official Facebook app, Rock Band World, which has been designed to be a companion to the game. A lot of the features of the app are actually pretty interesting. After linking your XBL or PSN account, you can begin to join in on community goals, requiring such conditions as playing Linkin Park songs for double points, for example. The app also serves as a great way to buy music for the game. The problem comes with the starting of Score Wars. Score Wars are kind of an Autolog-like way of challenging friends to the highest score in a specific song. The game will randomly present the opportunity to challenge a friend, or random player, to score war on a pre-selected song, but completely restricts you from choosing the “when, who, and what”. It is possible to choose all criteria through Rock Band World, but the given player must be your Facebook friend for it to work. I don’t know about you guys, but my Facebook friends list and my PSN friends list are two very different lists. I don’t game with the same people I virtually socialize with, and that alone renders Score Wars, the most attractive aspect of replayability, completely handicapped. The simple addition of starting custom Score Wars through the game would completely fix this problem, and subsequently nullify any reason for me to use Rock Band World.

 

Because Rock Band Blitz uses a special algorithm for converting previous Rock Band songs into Blitz, I found that some songs worked much better as a Blitz song than others. From experimentation buying songs from the store and trying them out, I noticed that some checkpoints were placed oddly, and songs with few instrument sections left me unable to upgrade a certain track enough before the checkpoint. On the other hand, the hand-selected tracks that come packaged with the game are all excellent fits, as you would expect.

 

If score chasing isn’t your thing, then Rock Band Blitz probably won’t keep you around for long after your initial kicks. But what it will do is make it much easier to return to once in a while, by virtue of plastic instruments not being a factor and the constant addition of new songs. Its pick-up-and-play nature makes it very easy to play a song or two at a time.

 

Rock Band Blitz is truly the smartest thing Harmonix could have done with the Rock Band series. It innovates on the genre in interesting ways, adds instant value to Rock Band faithful, and completely does away with the genre’s biggest barrier to entry—plastic instruments. It’s a shame its social integration is partially ruined by it being forced on those who want to experience the best part of the game, but it doesn’t taint the game. Is it the second coming of rhythm games? No, but it is the most intelligently crafted one in years, and definitely one worth checking out.

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