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Podcasts Press X To Win

Press X To Win 21 – Gamescom Extravaganza!

On this weeks episode of Press X, the crew talks about all of the announcements at Gamescom, including a classic Jake rant about the new WoW expansion. Even the Sony fanboy has something nice to say about Microsoft! Then we go over esports. Good? Bad? What the hell is an esport? Find out on this weeks Press X To Win.

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Guitar Hero Live Reveals Its First Setlist

On the official Guitar Hero Live Facebook Page, Activision revealed the first ten tracks for Guitar Hero Live. “Hundreds” will be available when it launches this Fall, but for right now let’s focus on the first ten.

The songs are:

  • Ed Sheeran – Sing
  • American Authors – Best Day of My Life
  • Jake Bugg – What Doesn’t Kill You
  • Gary Clark Jr. – Don’t Owe You A Thang
  • Band of Skulls – Asleep At The Wheel
  • Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
  • Alter Bridge – Cry of Achilles
  • Biffy Clyro – Sounds Like Balloons
  • Blitz Kids – Sometimes
  • The War on Drugs – Under The Pressure

Personally, I love this setlist. I know it’s not going to be called that, but that’s what this sounds like to me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some music to listen to off Spotify, because Spotify rules.

For all things Guitar Hero Live, be sure to check back here to Proven Gamer every weekday. We’ll have something awesome for you, I promise.

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Resident Evil Remastered Sells One Million Units Worldwide

resident-evil-hd

Capcom announced today that Resident Evil‘s more recent remaster has sold over one million units worldwide since its release in January. The remaster has also set a new record for the best selling Day One Digital title on PlayStation Network and is Capcom’s fastest selling digital title in their history across Europe and North America.

Now, what does this mean for Resident Evil and/or Capcom? Well, I think it would be safe to say that we might hear the announcement of Resident Evil 2 getting a remaster or any of the early Resident Evil titles pretty soon. Maybe even at E3 this year.

For more on Resident Evil and its related news, as well as some other cool stuff, be sure to check back to Proven Gamer every weekday and I promise we’ll have something cool.

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Skulls of the Shogun Review

Note: Only the Xbox 360 version of the game was played in preparation for this review.

Rarely does a turn-based strategy game draw my attention. I often lack that extra psychological *thing* that it takes to plan turns ahead of time, rather than focusing only on what’s directly in front of me. But then a game like Skulls of the Shogun comes along, and presents its systems in a way that makes vanilla players—like me—can easily get the hang of it. But don’t let the game’s accessibility fool you, for–like any good strategy game—Skulls of the Shogun gradually builds on its gameplay in interesting ways to make a much deeper, and harder, intellectual challenge. It’s the kind of game I wouldn’t mind spectating a match of.

 

The first thing you’ll be hit with in Skulls of the Shogun is it’s look. It’s hand-drawn Asian cartoonish art style is a delight to look at, from it’s character art to the beautiful landscape art. The great art direction is complimented well by it’s salutes to the days of old, with it’s retro victory music and mockup CD cover loading screen.

SotS1

Skulls of the Shogun’s story doesn’t dare to take itself seriously, but still manages to be a great companion piece to it’s sometimes brutal gameplay. When General Akamoto is killed in battle just before claiming the title of ‘Shogun’, he is begrudgingly dragged into the Afterlife. You now must guide Akamoto in his slaughterfest through the Afterlife to take back his identity and seek revenge for his death. Now imagine that, but with a consistent barrage of clever dialogue and jokes that assures a great sense of lightheartedness, rather than unnecessary seriousness.

 

And while Skulls of the Shogun’s visual style and enjoyable story definitely contribute to it being a great package, both would be rendered rather moot if it wasn’t actually fun to play. And as someone who isn’t usually keen on the turn-based strategy genre, SotS’s emphasis on accessible mechanics is very much appreciated. The game is played from a 2D isometric view, with players commanding one General and a multitude of troops made up of several classes. Movement is based upon a unit’s circular radius it can travel, rather than a grid, which helps to make the game less predictable or formulaic. Infantry troops don’t have a large movement radius, but have more attack and defense, while Horsemen can move much farther, but lack the defense to take multiple blows. This is a good example of the game’s balance between units.

SotS3

A large aspect of what makes SotS’s combat a breath of fresh air in multiple ways is the importance of the stage environment itself. There is knockback when striking enemies, so a unit unfortunately planted on the edge of a cliff can be quickly disposed of, no matter the strength. Depending on the stage, there are rice pads that can be used to build up Rice–currency for purchasing more units–and Shrines used to summon those new units. The medic unit can only be acquired through specific shrines placed throughout stages, and anyone can take over that shrine to steal that medic from another, which can swiftly change the tide of a battle.

SotS4

New mechanics are always introduced at a gradual pace, which is important, because by later levels the game becomes quite deep. Playing effectively later on requires a complete grasp of everything around you, having to develop advanced strategies like deciding what shrines, troops, and medics are worth going after. But what was a constant problem was the lack of consistency between stages. At least for me, there was always a type of story mission that just ‘clicked’ and the type that I would struggle to complete for hours at a time.

 

One of the most valuable things Skulls of the Shogun has in it’s favor is it’s ability to provide the player with all of the information they need at any given time. It’s a feeling similar to last year’s Mark of the Ninja, which made stealth accessible in a way it hadn’t before with smart visual and UI design. SotS organizes it’s interface and menus in this same way to make a deep game accessible.

SotS2

While I was only able to spend time with the Xbox 360 version of Skulls of the Shogun, it is also available on Windows Phone and Microsoft Surface. But even more interesting is the cross-play functionality between Xbox and mobile versions of the game. Opposed to the normal real-time multiplayer to be expected, matches played between Xbox and mobile are played asynchronously. It’s definitely a cool feature, but I don’t really see myself actively checking in on my Xbox to see if it’s my turn to make a move.

 

I don’t often get into a turn-based strategy game—the last being XCOM: Enemy Unknown—because I don’t like feeling overwhelmed with too many options, constantly wondering if I should be doing something differently. But Skulls of the Shogun definitely helps to ease players into it’s eventually complicated systems. It’s visual presentation directly melds into the gameplay in ways that feel natural. It’s one of the freshest additions to the genre I’ve seen a while, if not a bit inconsistent with it’s difficulty at times. Not only is it an accessible strategy game, but it’s one that could stand up against some of the biggest in the genre.

PG8_10

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Batman: Arkham City Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC Review

Weeks after the events of Arkham City’s main story, Harley Quinn returns, and she’s worse than ever. Harley has taken over the Joker’s old steel mill hideout, and when Batman goes to investigate, things get worse before they get better. Cue Robin, the Boy Wonder, who goes in to investigate.

Sadly, while this might sound like intriguing DLC, most of it does not deliver. The Robin gameplay offers a fresh take on Arkham City’s story but not enough is added to really make this a bang for your buck. The open world content that made Arkham City great has been neutered. While there are collectable balloons all over, it is more focused on story.

The story is also not revelatory or really needed. While it expands the story of Arkham City, it feels like a deleted scene or missing piece of content. It doesn’t add much depth to the final events of the main game, and the ending of the DLC is very upsetting.

The voice acting was also lacking. While I am an immense fan of Batman and Kevin Conroy, I felt the voice-acting was rushed. Tara Strong does very little to sell the character of Harley Quinn, which was an issue in Arkham City’s main story.

Not everything in this DLC is bad, though, and if you are interested in more story content for Arkham City, then this is the DLC for you.

Review Score: 3/5

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Rock of Ages Review

If you are anything like me, you sometimes wish you could do something to break away from mundane workdays and do something erratic like rolling a giant boulder over your boss. Don’t give me that look. I know you’ve had that “boulder rolling over” fantasy before-don’t deny it!  While there are laws against doing so and even physics is against us on that. (Stupid physics) Rock of Ages allows our boulders to stampede throughout time taking down iconic figures in history and mythology.

 

You take control of poor (misunderstood) Sisyphus, condemned to roll a massive boulder up an equally massive hill in Hades all the while being tormented by evil little “imps” that would hamper his progress causing Sisyphus to lose control of the boulder. Each time this cause the boulder to roll down to rest at Chronos’ feet, irritating the titan and demanding Sisyphus to resume his labor. At this point, Sisyphus hatches a plan to escape Hades and so, our journey begins. (OK, so the journey has started a long time ago as this game was released last year for the PC and 360 and we are just now getting it for the PS3)

(Game Modes)

The single player mode is where a lot of this game’s magic takes place.

You get to play across 5 unique time periods encountering historical figures from those time frames. We all know just how serious (and some times boring) history can be. That’s something Rock of Ages successfully conquers by telling its story through a very Monty Python-esque sense of humor. That will have you chuckling at its silliness at the very least. In addition to its lighthearted take on history, the game also pokes fun of and makes constant references to recent and current pop culture trends. Not even video games are off of the table in this “no holds barred” comedic foray.

In addition to the single player mode there is a time trial that has you race through stages as fast as you possibly can to win medals. This is a cool mode, but when you think of boulders, you don’t immediately think of racing. Your boulder starts off slow and takes a bit of time and momentum to get it to go fast, but once it does reach extremely fast speeds, especially barreling down a hill, it can be difficult to control your boulder and there is a great likelihood that you are going to fly right off of the map. But that’s not to say that the boulder is uncontrollable. As a matter of fact… Pro Tip: Use the right stick to keep the camera focused on the path that you want to take. This works exceptionally well on sudden turns. (I don’t know why I told you people that when I may end up being matched up with some of you online…)

 

Another mode available is “Skeeboulder”. That’s right… SKEEBOULDER.

If you ever played “Skeeball”, then you know exactly what to expect with this. Except, you are playing against another player as you race toward the end of the track smashing targets to gain points along the way. And once you reach the end, you “skee” your boulder up and land it into one of the multipliers on the “Skeeboard”. The player with the most points wins the game.

(Gameplay & AI)

For us older gamers, this may remind you of games like Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball mixed with a typical tower defense game. The gameplay is pretty straightforward and doesn’t have much of a learning curve. At the start of a match, you enter a building phase, which allows you to build towers, catapults and other traps to hopefully destroy the incoming boulder or, at the very least, delay your enemy’s progress. A bit of strategy is required here to figure out where the optimal place is to set your defenses and how much to spend if you want to purchase a specialized boulder right at the start. These specialized boulders (fire boulder, armor plated boulder, etc.) provide you with extra damage if you manage to reach the enemy’s gate without damaging your own boulder too much. Taking too much damage, in addition to certain environmental hazards will cause you to lose these powers.

To go back to the tower defense segment of the game, most of them do very little against a speeding boulder. Think about it for a second… What chance does a wooden tower stand against a boulder that’s at least 4 times the size of the tower and is racing down hill unobstructed? The answer is: It has no chance. That’s not to say that none of the defenses are worthwhile. The best ones come later in the game and even the weaker ones can cause the enemy a little distress when they slam into the waiting towers. But it is possible to avoid most of the defenses due to the fact that the boulder has the ability to jump, which allows the boulder to leap over most of the roadblocks. This feature alone makes the defenses almost obsolete with the exception of the catapults and a few other defenses. In reality, you can avoid putting down defenses all together if you strike the enemy’s gates 3 times before your enemy can do so to you. As long as you are the first to land that 3rd strike and enter the enemy’s base to squash the enemy commander, you can avoid building anything and still win the match.

At the end of each time period you will encounter a boss battle. These bosses are symbols of the era that you just went through. None of which are very hard, essentially it involves striking the boss in its weak spot 3 times. Once you figure out how to reach the weak spot, the match is pretty much yours. The boss battles aren’t much of a challenge, but they are still fun and varied. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to be able to launch your boulder through the air to pop Michelangelo’s David right in the crotch.

Unfortunately the biggest down fall in the game is that it can become repetitive pretty fast and there isn’t a whole lot of variety between your defenses and their upgraded counterparts. Some of them have obvious differences while other seem to be just as weak as their level 1 counterparts.

 

(Sound & Visuals)

The quality of the audio is top notch and although there isn’t much voice acting, this game doesn’t really need it. The nonsensical gibberish and mumbles the characters spurt out during the cut scenes fits to the game’s Monty Python-esque feel. You might get a kick out of hearing someone like Vlad the Impaler scream like a little girl once you have broken through his gate.  Seeing this happen for the first time on the first enemy you encounter immediately reminded me of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart thought Ned Flanders killed his wife, Maude. That was the first episode that we learned Ned could release an incredibly high-pitched feminine scream.

The visuals are a combination of 2D and 3D. You have your boulder, defenses and playing field rendered in 3D, meanwhile the cut scenes and the little characters on the playing field are all two dimensional. This mix of graphics blends well with the game’s over the top comedic theme.

(Trophies)

The trophy set for Rock of Ages is pretty diverse, ranging from scoring a direct hit on the enemies’ gate with a fireball to the expected 10 online wins trophy. None of these trophies are really out of the way with the exception of the “Keymaster” trophy that tasks you with locating all of the “hidden” keys through out the game. I use the word hidden loosely as most of the keys are in plain sight. Overall, none of these trophies should cause too much grief and should be relatively easy to obtain.

 

(Conclusion & Thoughts)

Rock of Ages is a perfect time waster for those days that you have a lot of time on your hands and not a whole lot to do. It’s also a great weekend boredom buster or perfect time filler when you just don’t feel like playing a retail title or a game that requires more thought to its gameplay. Although the gameplay becomes repetitive, it doesn’t take away from the overall experience of the game. Initially this game was going to take place across 16 time eras, but ACE and Atlus chose to cut it down to 5. I hope that this means there will be some DLC down the line that will take use through new eras. It would be pretty damn awesome to roll a giant boulder through present day.

SCORE:

Rock of Ages receives a 4 out of 5

PROS:

Fun, mindless smash and run gameplay

Silly and lighthearted Monty Python-esque cut scenes

Varied game modes

The amount of content is worth the price

CONS:

The gameplay can become repetitive

The defenses available can be useless, especially against someone who knows what they are doing

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Max Payne 3 Review

It’s been years since Rockstar declared Max Payne’s return to next generation consoles. It almost hard to believe the dark hero has come out of hiding, but Max has made a comeback and he is packing. This new title leaves one with the question, can Max Payne 3 revitalize a hero that mastered “The Matrix” style bullet time mode in action games or is it too little too late for Max?

Rockstar is known for many great features in their game play: action, reactions in game play, the atmosphere of the world the gamer is immersed in, and great story telling. In Max Payne 3, Rockstar shows their features are still strong. Max Payne 3 starts off with the protagonist still struggling to move on from the loss of his wife and child in previous titles. Max, now addicted to alcohol and pain killers, relieves himself from an inpatient drug rehab and leaves the New Jersey streets to take on a bodyguard position in Sao Polo, Brazil.

Sadly, the role of a bodyguard for a wealthy Brazilian family isn’t easy for Max. When unknown locals try to kidnap the wealthy family members, it is up to Max to step into the scenes and save the day. This is not so simple when a alcohol and drug addicted ex-cop tries to work through the unfamiliar streets and language of Brazil.

Lucky for Max, there are no language barriers for his guns and bullets.

The game follows a mix of comic book feel and the 24 TV series action multi-camera angles. Max creates powerful monologues as he traverses the storyline, levels, ad his descent into his own mental darkness. As certain characters exchange dialogue, selected subtitles are presented through the storyline to portray the importance of certain dialogue.

This use of selected subtitles creates a feel of what each characters focuses on during the heat of each scene (subtle and aggressive). This keeps you focused on scenes/certain factors without pulling you away from the visuals.

Rockstar utilizes the storyline comic books scenes to hide their load screens in order to prevent the player from feeling like they are forced to stop playing.

As for the action, Max Payne 3 delivers an impressive method of deploying action and style throughout each level. Yes, Max’s bullet time mode is back but it with some new improvements. Shoot dodge allows you to slow time in order to dodge bullets and improve your accuracy.

 

Final kill camera allows Max to take out the last bad guy in the room with bullet times and dish out those extra few rounds…… for those of you who had a bad day at work.

Bullet time comes into a savior effect when you are low on health. When Max is on the verge of death, and has one last pain killer heal left, bullet time kicks into effect. This implements bullet dodge, bullet time, and quick heal.

Max speed, 360 degree shooting, and agility is dependent on the choice of weapons you equip him with. An example is when Max is using a handgun but has a shotgun in the arsenal. Max will fire his handgun with left hand, yet carrying the shotgun in his right hand. This has an on his reload time and movement since he is carrying two weapons at once. You can find yourself replaying levels with different tactical and weapons approaches.

As for level game play and action, Rockstar doesn’t bore you with mundane and repetitive level designs. The action can shift easily from Max eliminating a group of enemies on a skyscraper rooftop, to him hanging upside down from a helicopter firing, in bullet time, at incoming RPGs and enemies.

Max comes across intense levels where bullet being shot in any direction will create an aftermath seen mainly in films. After a tutorial gunfight, I discovered: blood stains smeared on the walls, floor, and windows, pillows blown up, pages from bullet riddles books spread throughout the floor, and marbles tiles from pillars throughout the interactive chaos.

Max’s dark monologue also interacts with your game play and level. Max will use his inner thoughts to guide you on where you should be going or how much limited time you have left to catch up to an enemy you’re chasing. I activate bullet time when there were no enemies around and Max felt the need to state, “Despite how much I like to reflect on the things around me, there is no time to waste.”

 

There is also an arcade mode where each kill buys the player points and time to progress through the level. It is an interesting take on the storyline once you finish the game.

While the single player storyline is rich and full of intense moments, dialogues, and scenes, it is best not to reveal too much of the storyline for those Max Payne fans. Multiplayer fans will also get a kick out of online play available.

You have to start off with the basic weaponry, character avatars, and game modes. Once you get past the 50 kills starter perk, other modes and weapons are available. What you do play is intense and thrilling third person multiplayer action. Online game play possesses the same grit and action as in the single player.

Destructible environments are still involved in online play and can be used to your advantage. Getting attacked on a rooftop, shoot a nearby window and drop down to escape or turn the tables.

One particularly interesting mode if the “PAYNE KILLER” mode where the first player to get a kill becomes Max Payne and the first killed become Max’s friend, Raul Passos. Once these to two characters are assigned, everyone else must battle against Max and Raul. If a player kills Max or Raul, that player becomes that character and must fight to stay alive.

In a surprise twist, Bullet time mode has been adapted to online play. The bullet time and bullet dodge mode is shorter in online play and the person you shoot at will have bullet time activated as well. If not executed properly, you can find yourself on the floor as an easy target with no bullets. Choose wisely when you activate bullet time.

 

Players can earn XP, and cash throughout online play which can be used for leveling up, buying weaponry for load outs, and making wagers as to who will win a game mode before the game begins.

Players can loot the dead bodies of their fellow online combatants for cash, ammo, and any powerful weapons on the ground. A newbie can pick up a powerful handgun left be a veteran player for an unexpected advantage.

Character load outs can be tailored to help you play online to the best of your abilities. Weapons can be leveled up, based on usage, which unlocks accessories and perks for that particular weapon.

The controls for online play have a long handicap for comprehension. Melee attacks are instant kills, but don’t easily execute unless you are extremely close. It will take a few times to get used to throwing a grenade since it has to be selected from the quick weapons load out. This process isn’t so fun when you are going against people who figured out the method to lobbing six grenades your way.

An interesting tease in multiplayer is the kill/death ratio you will have with each individual player in an online match. When a player frags you, the screen will display how many time you fragged that player and who many time the player fragged you. This can help to create an online vendetta when an online player has 10 kills on you as opposed to your 2 kills.

Max Payne 3 contains a great deal of features involved in single player and online play. Despite some requirements to unlock a great deal of online features and handicap control scheme, Max Payne 3 is still a fun and addictive game. The dark storyline and intense action will leave players wanting to go deeper and deeper into the game play.

I give Max Payne 3 a 4 out of 5.

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Sonic Generations Review

It’s been a long time since I have looked forward to playing a Sonic game. To be fair, I was never fond of any of his 3D outings with the original trilogy the stand out games. When I first seen Sonic Generations image and video coming from E3 I thought it at least had a good chance of reinvigorating the Sonic franchise. The promise of playing as classic Sonic and new age Sonic appealed to me. Although it wasn’t on my must buy list, it was one of those games I hoped I would get around to playing.

The story starts with a birthday party being thrown for modern Sonic with many of the characters we know in attendance. The party doesn’t last long when the Time Eater appears throwing Sonic and his friends into separate portals in time. When Sonic comes to he finds himself in “white space”, worlds with no color where he and classic Sonic must race through levels to return color to the worlds and restore time.

Each act in the game is taken from a different Sonic game starting with Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. There is only one zone per act, but the game play is doubled as you have to play through the acts as classic Sonic and modern Sonic. Thankfully, there is a different experience depending on which Sonic you are controlling. Playing classic Sonic shows the world level in 2D while only using original moves spin attack and spin dash. Switching over to modern Sonic changes the world into pseudo 3D environment where the camera will pan from a view behind sonic hurtling forward to side-scrolling sonic. The developers also included moves taken from recent sonic games. The homing attack from Sonic 4: Episode 1 makes an appearance when playing as modern sonic. This is a great inclusion as it helps Sonic flow with speed through the 3D levels easier. And lets face it, Sonic is always better when you are able to glide through the act as fast as you can. Other notable mechanics are available in Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. It maintains Wisps allowing Sonic different properties to reach other parts of the level.

 

Using the Wisps is by no means bad game play, but it does distract from the game and feels much less of a Sonic game. I found most acts that were based on pre-Dreamcast games felt excellent whereas post levels didn’t have the same flow to them and broke up the pace of the game. This may be down to level design as latter levels feel less colorful and it loses its cartoonish charm. With only nine acts in the game, the main story is very short and can be completed within a few hours.

To give the game some longevity, there are many challenges in each act. The challenge levels vary from speed runs, ring collecting or using a friend’s skill to complete the mission. Although there is no need to complete all challenges, one per act is required to release a key. After every 3 acts, Sonic will have a boss battle activated by using the key from each of the acts beforehand. Further time can be spent gathering the elusive chaos emeralds. Three of these can be obtained by locating the familiar faces of Shadow, Silver and Metal Sonic between the challenge areas. Each has a test for Sonic to pass. Although it fleshes out the game somewhat, it still feels incredibly short.

 

This may not be the full return to form that the Sonic team at SEGA were hoping for, but it is definitely a huge leap in the right direction. If you are interested in Sonic, I would recommend this as a rental or maybe picking it up if you are able to get it in the £15/$20 range.

Sonic Generation garners a 3/5

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Trials Evolution Review

Trials HD, the arcade smash hit from 2009’s summer of arcade, took Xbox Live by storm two years ago, with its difficult tracks and competitive leader boards enthralling people and leaving them begging for more. There were only a few faults in the original game, which included a very tough learning curve and a very poorly executed file sharing service. Despite the steep curve that RedLynx faced to top the near perfection it had achieved it did that and more with Trials Evolution.

It’s hard to decide where to start first with Trials Evolution, so lets start with the new and improved Trials Mode. Like it was stated earlier, the steep learning curve in the original Trials was in part due to a lack of explaining the more difficult concepts, which led to some frustration when the game got to some of the crazier challenges. However, in Trials Evolution, between each bracket of difficulty, they have license tests, which are used to teach some of the harder concepts like going up steep inclines and bunny hop as well as unlocking new bikes to use. While this does help you learn, it doesn’t take too long before you are getting frustrated, but in the best way possible. Trials Veterans don’t be worried about the easier early maps, after cruising through about the first half of the game; there are some challenges that are even harder than the first game. One thing I have to applaud RedLynx for is that at no point can you ever blame the game for your failure. You always know you failed because you didn’t land a jump right or your front tire wasn’t high enough off that last jump.

 

Outside of the basic Trials mode, they have expanded the mini-game section of the original Trials that was limited to a few different variations to now a very robust selection. From flying around a UFO to flying yourself across the stage with cardboard wings it helps vary the gameplay from the other modes. There is also now a competitive multiplayer mode, where you race against three other players in either supercross or trials modes. In Supercross all four players are shown on screen as you race for the finish line where you gain points based on the place you finish and the amount of times you crashed throughout the race. There is also a more by the book, serious competitive mode through tracks from the single player where you race against the other player to finish the maps first. All the racers and bikes in the multiplayer will look unique due to the many different cosmetic options you have using money you gained in single-player by completing tracks.

The totally redone map editor in Trials Evolution is so detailed there are two editors, a “Lite” editor and a “Pro” editor. In the Lite Editor, it is easy for anyone to make a good Trials like map and share them with their friends. However in the Pro editor, there are a ridiculous amount of options you can mess with down to the core engine and game mechanics. This allows you to end up with maps with core gameplay similar to other games like Angry Birds, JetPack, Foosball, and even First Person shooters. The depth in the editors really makes me excited to see how crazy the community will go given enough time and the amount of possibility there is within it.

 

One of the things that really stood out within Trials HD was the lack of variety in the background between each course. Throughout most of the game you were just going through warehouses. In comparison, Trials Evolution almost every map is totally unique in its own way. From World War like locations with bombs exploding around you to a baseball field where you are racing home for the score, each map is unique and makes you want to race to watch what creative way they injure your racer each time. One of the most creative maps in the game is a map inspired from their fellow Summer of Arcade Game, Limbo.

The creativity and love behind Trials Evolution is evident behind all the sadistic and hair-clenching moments throughout my experience with the game. The pure addiction of beating your friend’s times that are just barely ahead of you to competitive multiplayer this game just offers so much. With the price tag of 1200 Microsoft points or $15, I wouldn’t even hesitate to pay double that for the experience I had with this game.

I give Trials Evolution a 5/5

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World Gone Sour Review

Upon first glance, World Gone Sour appears to be a cheap licensed game all about shoving Sour Patch Kids down your throat. For the Sour Patch Kids in this game, that is just what they want you to do.

World Gone Sour, developed by Playbrains, is on the surface a simple platformer where you play as a green Sour Patch Kid who’s only goal in life is to be eaten. Quickly at the beginning of the game, the narrator, who is voiced by Creed Bratton from The Office, shares with us that if a Sour Patch Kid is not eaten they are driven insane and attempt to kill other innocent Sour Patch Kids. This is emphasized by then showing a Sour Patch Kid stabbing another Sour Patch Kid in the back. Much to my surprise this game is incredibly dark, and not intended for kids. From a creepy eyeless doll controlled by an evil sour patch to mutilated Sour Patch Kids throughout the levels this is not intended for children

The gameplay in World Gone Sour is much like many other sidescrollers from jumping across chasms, jumping between saws, and over fiery pits of death. You also are able to save 25 smaller Kids throughout the level who are used to reach items and flip switches in hard to get places. They also are used to change the size of your Sour Patch Kid. There are three sizes available to you depending on how many kids you currently have following you. At your smallest you are easily able to reach hidden places and make some harder jumps and at your biggest absorb more health or hurl your followers like a fastball.

 

Each stage, besides getting to the end of the level, you can collect green gummy pieces that give you extra lives, five secret trophies, and stars that give you a higher score at the end of the level. The other way to get more points at the end of the level is by getting as many of the unique eight deaths by the end of the level. You can accomplish this by either killing yourself or your minions in these death traps. You can throw your minions into spikes, drown them, or set them on fire. Don’t worry about them dying though because in a few seconds they will spawn again like nothing ever happened.

The game starts off very strong with great pacing and decent difficulty, but at the middle of the game is when things start to go sour. The game’s difficulty quickly ramps up with some very grueling hazards and complex wall-jump challenges that are made difficult with the finicky physics. The jumps in this game are very long which is capitalized on when playing. However the wall jumping doesn’t always work as intended and the enemies have very small hit boxes, which can lead to deaths that don’t feel justified. While the game still gives you tons of checkpoints and green gummies to replenish your lives you will still have moments of frustration leaving you annoyed. Also around the mid-point the narration really begins to fall off which was one of the highlights of the beginning of the game. One last complaint is there is not any online co-op which means its local only – which is a bummer

World Gone Sour despite the flaws isn’t a bad game for it’s price of five dollars. The dark humor, decent platforming, and a great bonus video of Method Man rapping about Sour Patch Kids make it worth the five dollars.

I give World Gone Sour a 3/5

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Dungeon Defenders Review

Dungeon Defenders; where does one even begin when trying to describe this game?

Take one part tower defense game, one part RPG and one part action game, throw them in a blender and you will get… Well, you will get a mess, but you get my point, I’m sure. Dungeon Defenders combines elements from these popular genres in an attempt to bring us something that stands above most games in these genres. Dungeon Defenders had its humble beginnings on the iPhone and was announced to be released on the PS3, 360 and PC on August 25th, 2010 and was released on October 18th, 2011. 14 months after the announcement. Was the long wait worth it? Continue reading this review to find out.

The story revolves around 4, somewhat unlikely heroes. They are the younger siblings of 4 legendary heroes whom are called away for important matters and leave their younger siblings in charge of defending (Well, I wouldn’t say leaving them in charge per se. It’s more along the lines of: “Ok, we have a new quest. Peace!”) the Etheria crystals which house evil spirits. One day, while horse playing, the young apprentices “accidentally” knock one of the Etheria crystals over and summons a horde of evil monsters. These evil monsters are tasked with destroying the remaining crystals to unleash those evil spirits captive inside.

(Game Modes)

To begin with you have the single player campaign that takes you through many different levels which you must defend the Etheria crystals. Each level alternates between a build phase and a battle phase. In the build phase, you have limited resources to build towers to protect the crystal. In early stages, you have primitive towers such as a spiked barricade or a Bouncer, a round tower with spikes surrounding it that thrusts itself outwards and shoves the enemy away whenever they get to close to it. The further your character progresses, the more powerful and advanced towers you will have access to.

In addition to the single player campaign, you have the 4 player co-op campaign, which is essentially identical to the single player mode. The only difference is that you actually have other people helping you out. Which brings me to a critical point in this review: This game is blatantly made for co-op. Playing this game solo, can be brutal and in later levels, especially on harder difficulties, can seem to be impossible. That’s not to say that it isn’t still fun or that it’s impossible, but there isn’t much room at all for error.

 

Dungeon Defenders also provides a robust challenge mode with quite a variety of different challenges, which can also be played with friends. The challenges range from “No Towers” to “No Heroes”

There are challenges where the crystal you are suppose to be guarding warps to different places on the map which effectively blows out any of your chances at strategizing a defense of towers. Completing these challenges successfully provides you with powerful loot which brings me to the game’s item system.

Dungeon Defenders has an immense inventory of items and an extremely deep customization factor. Upon selecting one of the character classes (Squire, Mage, Monk or Huntress I know, it sounds like the start of a dirty joke) you are allowed to decide on the color palette your character’s armor is made of. You have to choose a primary color, secondary color and a detail color. (The PC version of the game gives you the ability to change your character’s outfit) Each class has their own specialties and they are designed to suit the individual player’s style, although you are allowed to swap from class to class whenever you are in the build phase of the battle. There is a down fall to the game at this particular point, however…

While you are building up experience in the main class that you picked, the class that you chose because it suits your playing style, the experience points is not localized to your character; it is localized to your class. So with that said, your level 27 Squire may have a somewhat easy time in some later stages. But your level 1 mage will be to weak and pretty much screwed when it comes to those same stages. The mage will not have access to the same towers that the squire has unlocked. The mage will be stuck with the very basic towers. With that said, your mage’s special abilities will be very weak, just as if you started the game from the beginning. So this adds to the level boosting grind. (You’ll find out why I say that a little later.)

 

The customization doesn’t end there, there are tons of weapons that you can collect and upgrade to suit your needs. Everything can be upgraded from the lowliest leather boots to the most powerful sword. In addition to those features, you can also have a pet to take in battle with you, that’s right… A PET. The game refers to these pets as “familiars”. These familiars can also be upgraded by pouring the same mana that you use to upgrade your equipment. You never really have to worry about staring at the items status to figure out if one is better than the other. Dungeon Defenders borrows what some RPGs have, a color coded equipment optimization feature. The game utilizes several different types of visual clues to let you know an item is more beneficial. If an item that you find is better than the one you have equipped of a similar kind, the game will display a green outline box around the weapon before you pick it up. When you get close to the item, its stats are visible to you. Not only are the color coded stats visible, there is also either a thumbs up or thumbs down to let you know if that item is better.

Another cool aspect to this game is that when you are not in a mission, you are in a tavern where you can buy and sell items to the tavern keeper, set up your equipment the way you want and all of the in-game trophies that you collect will be displayed around this tavern.

(Gameplay & AI)

Dungeon Defenders is exactly what you would expect from the genres that it takes its inspiration from. You walk around dungeons placing your traps and towers where you think they will be the most effective against the onslaught of monsters in the battle phase. You have to play it smart and think about ways the traps could be used. One of my personal favorite set ups is to have a Bouncer knock an enemy into another trap, like a spiked barricade for example. Once the battle begins, you need to think about potential weak spots in your defense. The squire can either protect the holes in the defense or go Rambo and charge the horde head on. The Huntress can lay down traps to catch the enemies in them or focus on taking down the most powerful monster in the mob. The choice in how you play is ultimately up to you.

The game’s AI is pretty straight forward. Seek out and destroy the Etheria Crystal. It doesn’t particularly care whether you are there or not. I’ve had enemies walk past me just to proceed to its goal. I have not noticed any strategy on the enemies’ behalf.

 

(Sound & Visuals)

There is a lot of voice acting in this game; a huge part of it is sunk into the tutorial. This is needed because the learning curve on this game is enormous. It’s also important to have these voice-overs in the tutorial because depending on whether you have an HDTV or not, you may not be able to read the in game text. Graphically speaking, this game looks like a full retail game. You can tell that they didn’t skimp on the art of this game.

 

(Conclusion & Thoughts)

A little earlier in this review I stated that there was a level grind to this game, the maximum level each class can reach is 70. There are 4 classes, so that is 280 levels to grind out if you are a “completionist”.

With that said, that brings me to this game’s trophies. If you are looking for an easy platinum to add to your trophy count, be warned: THIS GAME IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Dungeon Defenders boasts perhaps the largest amount of trophies for a core downloadable game. It provides you with a whopping 57 trophies to gain. And of which, requires you to play on the hardest difficulty or level up all 4 classes to level 70.

The bottom line is this: If you are looking for a new tower defense game, Dungeon Defenders is the logical choice, especially for the challenge it possess. If you are looking for a simple tower defense game like Plants vs. Zombies or any other casual game, this game is not for you. It will tear you up and devour you. In all honesty, this hybrid tower defense action RPG is perhaps the most compelling and engaging game in its genre(s) that I have played in a long time.

SCORE:

4.75 out of 5

A PSN must have for strategy and tower defense enthusiasts!

PROS:

Endless replay value

A crap ton of content for the price tag

Tons of co-op fun

CONS:

No global leveling for your character.

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Hydrophobia Prophecy Review

Hydrophobia Prophecy is what developer Dark Energy Digital likes to call a “Comprehensive Reinvention” of their initial release of the game “Hydrophobia” (or Hydrophobia Pure after the patch that was released to correct some issues) on the Xbox 360 on September 29th, 2010. Although it was met with some mixed reactions from critics, it still managed to gain a fan following. We first caught wind of this “reinvention” of Hydrophobia back in April of this year. Dark Energy Digital stated that they listened to the fans of the first title and took every bit of information into consideration and made it their mission to improve the areas of the game that were issues. Now, nearly 14 months after the first game was released, Hydrophobia Prophecy for the Playstation 3 and PC has been released and we finally get the opportunity to find out if it can live up to the promises that were made or will it drown itself in unmet expectations? Read more to find out.

Hydrophobia Prophecy puts players in control of Kate Wilson, a systems engineer aboard “The Queen of the World”, a floating city that was created to allow the richest and most powerful people prosper as the rest of the world is doomed because of their own over-populating. Shortly after the game begins, things take a turn for the worse when the ship is attacked by a group of terrorists known as the Malthusians. The Malthusians derived their name from the political/economic thought of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who described the potential issues the human race would face due to overpopulation. How the population would double (example: 1 becomes 2, 2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8, etc.) and the worlds resources and food supply would remain linear. (1 becomes 2, 2 become 3, 3 becomes 4, etc.) The Malthusians made it their duty to make those aboard “The Queen of the World” to suffer like the rest of the world and they somehow believe that they are doing the world a favor by their actions. You can think of the Malthusians as a very “pissed off” version of Green Peace.

 

(Game Modes)

Hydrophobia Prophecy is about 5 to 6 hours long across 3 acts, although the action doesn’t really kick into high gear until just before the 3rd act. The first 2 acts seem to focus more on the platform and puzzle aspects of the game, but that’s not to say that there isn’t any fire fights on your journey trudging through the water. (Somehow that just seems a little weird to say) You will find yourself trying not to drown while you move from area to area and solving puzzles that hinder your progression until you figure out what to do. Many of the puzzles and platform areas have obvious solutions while others may force you to think about a little while longer. Aside from the campaign, there is a challenge room that pits you in a 3-tiered arena. You will face progressively tougher enemies across 5 levels and with each level you are given 5 minutes to wipe out all of the enemies. I personally cannot fathom why anyone would need more than 2 minutes to kill the handful of enemies that are thrown your way. I stayed behind cover in one of the corners of the room’s second floor and was able to wipe them out in less than 2 minutes. The challenge room is far from being just that: Challenging. When I first learned of the challenge room, I was expecting some really intricate puzzles that needed to be solved. I was sorely disappointed once I learned what it was. It can be good for a few good cheap laughs at your enemies’ expense, but that’s about it. Although it does give you an easy silver trophy just for spending 10 minutes with the challenge room. (Well, beating the challenge room I should say)

Although this next feature was in Hydrophobia Pure for the 360, this feature made me smile when I saw it. When you “pause” the game, there is an option in the pause menu that brings you to a feedback form that you can fill out and submit to Dark Energy Digital, who stated that this very feature is what made them make a lot of enhancements and improvements from the 360 version, based off the feedback that they received alone. Dark Energy has also stated that they plan to continue to listen to the fans to help make future improvements.

 

(Gameplay & AI)

Imagine Metal Gear Solid franchise stripped of everything that made it what it is, now include acrobatics, climbing and a lot of water and you end up with a pretty accurate description of Hydrophobia Prophecy. The game takes place in the third person view and will go into first person view when you activate your “Mavi”. The Mavi is this cool little device that resembles what you would get if you could get an iPad and an infrared water temperature sensor to successfully mate. With it, you are able to see things that you would not be able to see with the naked eye. Mundane things like graffiti that say things like “Kill Yourself” which holds very little to the game, other than sort of a taunt by the Malthusians. But aside from that you can also see important encrypted messages that your Mavi will encode to help you progress through the levels. The Mavi also has the ability to help you to “hack” specific devices to help you progress. Once a hack is initiated; you are given a mini game puzzle to solve. The mini game puzzle tasks you with matching the frequency wave of the device within about 20 to 30 seconds. You control the wavelength of your hack with the” L” and “R” sticks to match the waves. Once the waves are matched, you have to maintain the shape long enough for the Mavi to do it’s magic.

Eventually (before you actually encounter enemies) you find a weapon, this is the only weapon that you have during the game. Although there are 5 different types of ammo, you have your default and unlimited stun rounds to start out with. Sooner or later you will find the other types of ammo: Semi-Auto, Rapid (Auto), Explosive Gel and Energy. (Basically a small device is discharged from your guns chamber that electrocutes its target and anything nearby)I have not seen a reason to switch ammo types to be frank; I’ve only changed ammo types when the game has told me to. Your stun rounds get the job done just as well and with a charged shot, can get the job done better.

There were a lot of changes and enhancements to the combat system that were much needed from its Xbox 360 release over a year ago. If you never played that version, you will not notice the differences in the combat systems. The cover system could still use a little more refining. I’ve had issues where my character didn’t want to move away from the cover in some of the most unfortunate times.

The AI of the enemies is mediocre at best. They will seek out cover to hide behind, but you will probably end up shooting them before they can reach it considering that they move slowly as if they are dragging an anchor behind them. I have had moments where I have snuck up behind an enemy and have literally gotten close enough to breathe down his neck without him even knowing I was there. So that proves that they can only detect what’s directly in front of them.

 

(Sound & Visuals)

One of the changes that were made was some re-casting in the voice acting. Scoot, who acts as Kate’s support was one of the characters that were hit with the voice re-casting and a body character model change. I didn’t particularly care that there was a voice talent recast because I never had an issue with the voice talent. There have been some improvements in the graphics over its predecessor. The lighting and shadowing effects, anti-aliasing and texture resolution has improved over the 360 version of this game. The water seems to react a little more fluid-like and is a little bit more believable. But an issue that makes the water seem unrealistic is the fact that the water has no effect on Kate or any other enemies clothing. All characters do react to the water appropriately when they walk. The higher the water level is the harder it is to maneuver and also makes it possible to be swept off of your feet. This action can be instrumental in combat. (The water itself can be used as a weapon of sorts) As for the audio, the sound effects and the music sounds a little bit better than what was heard on the 360’s version of this game. But, again, these changes mean very little to people who did not experience this game on the 360. They can only take comfort in the fact that there was an improvement.

(Conclusion & Thoughts)

For the most part, Hydrophobia Prophecy is a decent game with some flaws. It’s not Metal Gear Solid, but with a lot more work, it could be a great franchise. I hope that Dark Energy Digital do what they did through the Darknet and use that feedback that they receive to make more improvements. One of the biggest pluses to this game is that it stars a female character in the lead protagonist role. She’s not whiny and she doesn’t rely on someone else to do all the dirty work. For the price of $10, I will say that Hydrophobia Prophecy is worth the money, especially if you can look past some of the remaining flaws. Dark Energy Digital chose a reasonable price point because if this game was $15, I would not be saying the same thing.

SCORE:

3.75 out of 5

A good game with some flaws, but is still worth it’s price point

PROS:

A lot of improvements were made from its previous iteration of the game.

Reasonable price point

Strong female protagonist

CONS:

Uninspired story and short story mode

Not so challenging Challenge Room

The cover system can be a little wonky at times

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Payday The Heist Review

Do you remember when you were child and you played cops and robbers with your friends? If you were like me you were always the robber. (That’s right, I’m an antagonist, holding kids hostage and all. Don’t judge me) Overkill Software allows gamers to recapture that “robbers” experience from a first person perspective through the eyes of one of the four protagonists in their latest title for the PlayStation 3 and PC. (I’m not sure if they are considered protagonists or antagonists to be honest… I guess it’s kind of a glass half empty or half full question on their disposition) Payday: The Heist hopes to break into every gamer’s PS3 and provide them with an intense heist simulation action. Does it succeed in its goal? Continue reading this review to find out.

(Game Modes)

Payday: The Heist only provides gamers with 2 modes; single player and co-op.

There are a total of 6 heists for you to play and each of them can take upwards to 30 minutes to complete, especially when you are playing by yourself. There are 4 difficulties for you to choose from: easy, normal, hard and overkill. You can really feel the difference in the game difficulty levels as the opposing forces (the police, FBI, etc.) become tougher and hit you hard when they shoot you.

The multiplayer co-op has the exact same 6 heists and it also allows you to adjust the difficulty setting.

The multiplayer co-op is pretty much what you would expect from any other team based online game. You can experience the same problems such as horrible team mates and lag. (Although, I haven’t experienced either very often) Paydays is nowhere near as riddled with these issues as some other games and please keep in mind this fact, at the time of reviewing this game I am rocking a DSL connection.

 

(Gameplay & AI)

The best description possible for this game is to say is to take the mission from GTA 4 where you rob a bank and graft it into the co-op style of Left 4 Dead. That pretty much describes the whole game. Although banks are not your only target in the game, there are other targets such as a drug dealer’s den and hitting up an armored car. There is a very expansive skill tree for those three playing styles that you can switch between at any point in the game. Those three styles are: Assault, Sharpshooter and Support. Each playing style has its own perks. Some of them are automatically applied to your character while others will have you select between them. Such as the type of weapons you are carrying. Every perk and weapon will unlock gradually as you increase your reputation.

By my count, there are a total of 10 weapons that you can have as you progress through the game and level up. You also have the crew bonus perks that affect everyone in your team such as the Mr. Nice Guy perk or the Noob Lube perk. My biggest beef with this system is that the game does not educate you on how the system is designed, so it can easily become confusing at first, but as you progress through the game you may figure it out.

Your AI partners are there for one thing and for one thing only: to be your support and too shoot any threat to the mission. They will not help you accomplish objectives as some people were apparently expecting, this is a positive to the game as it extends the mission’s play time and keeps you running and on your feet. I cannot fathom why anyone would want the AI to help you do missions, that would just take away all of the fun. They would be running circles around you completing goals while you are trying to figure out what you can do that they will not do.

 

Personally, I prefer that they shoot at every law enforcer that has their sights trained on me. When you or another partner is down, they try their best to rush over to help you up. There have been times that I had to yell at them by putting them in my cross hairs and suppress the R2 button to get their attention, but that isn’t very often and when it has happened, they were in a firefight in another area of the building. There has been times that I have needed to go to the bathroom and I would back myself into a corner and the AI would protect me from the law successfully. You are probably thinking: “Well, why don’t you just “pause” the game?” There is no pause to the game what-so-ever, you can bring up your XMB and the action is still going on. This isn’t a flaw to the simulation… Because the last time that I checked, life does not have a pause button. (If there is a pause in real life, someone please tell me how to use it!)

That’s not to say that the AI partners don’t do some weird stuff. I’ve seen them climb the fire escape of the drug dealers den to the top roof and then climb over the guard rail to drop down to the floors below and continue doing so until they reach the ground, and then start up again until I move away from the fire escape. The enemy AI is pretty much the same as your partners AI. They are hell bent on stopping you from completing your heist whether they kill you or cuff you. You have a decent variety of law enforcers that are going to try to take you down from the typical boys in blue, police officers to FBI agents. But it doesn’t stop there. They will also send in what is referred to as “Special Forces”, these guys are not something to be taken lightly. The first one you will meet is a Bulldozer, a very heavily armed shotgun toting menace that would rather blow your head off than to cuff you. That’s just a small example of the menacing Special Forces that will be waiting for you.

 

(Sound & Visuals)

Some of the voice acting in the game is not so great, some of the characters sound like they are forcing out an English accent and in the process it just sounds cheesy. The sound effects from the gunfire and other environmental elements are reasonable. However there is no discernable difference between shooting your automatic rifle outside of the bank and shooting it inside of the vault. Either way, your weapons and any other devices or voices sound exactly alike regardless of the situation. In terms of graphics, when you are not playing the game and you are in the menu, the 4 main characters appear to be made up of CGI. When you play the game however, much of it makes it look like a Playstation 2 FPS. It just does not have the same or even remotely similar textures we see from many games today, retail or downloadable. I would have gotten past the somewhat dated graphics or the game had there been destructible objects in the game other than glass windows. If I’m shooting at a computer monitor, I expect the screen to be destroyed at least.

In addition to the dated graphics, there is a frame rate/clipping issue that shows its face when there are too many people on the screen at the same time. When I first saw this, there was a small group of helicopters hovering near my team’s location and in a matter of seconds four Special Forces members repelled from them to the ground. The moment all of them reached the ground is when the frame rate dropped a little. But it does not make the game unplayable at all; it seems to affect the law enforcers more than it affects the player. So you can still continue to gingerly mow down every law enforcer that gets in your way.

 

(Conclusion & Thoughts)

At first look the trophy list looks somewhat easy. But be forewarned, there are some pretty tough trophies in that list. Easy street is a good example: Beat “Heat Street” on “OVERKILL” difficulty, with your group’s accuracy being at 60% or higher. So the platinum trophy is not very easy to earn if that’s what you are looking for, however that does not mean that it isn’t fun trying to get some of these trophies.

Unfortunately the lack of game modes and the limited number of missions is this game’s biggest draw-back. Had there been a few more missions such as a museum heist or the mother of all heists: the Federal Reserve… had there have been more co-op specific goals such as an alarm needs to be disarmed by disengaging 4 security switches at the same time, all located in different areas… had there have been competitive co-op missions either pitting 2 against 2 or 4 against 4 to beat the opposing team to the jewels or whatever the target is and thwart their progress at the same time, or even putting a team as a group of law enforcers-with additions such as these have been added it would have made this game an even better one. With that said, I highly recommend this game. It’s endless replay value and fun missions make it worth the price. With that said, for 20 buck, it’s like finding an older classic FPS game in the bargain bin at your local game store.

I sincerely hope we see some DLC for Payday: The Heist from Overkill in the near future, this is one game that I would like to see supported so it can blossom into something special.

SCORE:

4 out of 5

If you own a PS3 (Why wouldn’t you own one at this point?) this is a PSN must buy

PROS:

Endless co-op fun and replayability

Challenging trophy set

Challenging heists

Defending AI

Challenging enemy AI

Growing online community

CONS:

Dated graphics

Only 6 missions and no co-op specific missions and objectives

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning needs to be up there with a lot of competing RPG games available on multiple consoles. Will the collaborate minds of R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane be enough for the RPG to stand on its own two feet? Well, I have been playing this new game and I am ready to give you my results.

The game starts off with a basic cut scene that describes the world of Amalur and the evil threatening it. Your character (which you can customize from one of four different races) wakes up on a pile of dead bodies after everyone assumes you died in a great battle.

Once you go through a simple tutorial in regards to combat, equipment, quests, and dialogue, you can begin your own person quest into the vast world. Your character is possesses no voice when interacting during cut scenes, but you do have the luxury of deciding what to say in regards to dialogue interaction.

The game has similar feels to the Elder Scrolls series but has the graphics that fit World or Warcraft. The graphics involved may make this game feel like a simple man’s Elder Scrolls, but don’t let that notion trick you. This game can pack quite a surprising punch.

 

The game sports a different variety of weapons that the player can use. You are allowed to equip two different sets of weapons throughout the game. Each weapon type has its own unique advantages, surprises, and skills based off your level up system.

The game doesn’t promote dual wielding, but you can switch between weapons in combat just like the Devil May Cry or God of War series. The more familiar you become with weapon classes, you will be able to pull off better combos and damage attacks. My preferred weapons were the long sword and daggers. The dagger work very well for thieves and stealth character because you are rewarded with an amusing execution cut scene when you sneak up to kill an enemy.

Switching weapons, magic, and using potions on the fly helps keep the game’s combat in constant motion. Constant motion is something the game needs when facing giant fire-breathing Skeletor T-Rex monsters.

When you have done enough damage, you can enter Reckoning mode where the player possesses magic energy weapons and stat boosts. It doesn’t last long but allows for mini game executions an extra experience points rewards.

The game promotes crafting, blacksmithing, and alchemy in order to improve your stats. So collect as much as you can. The lock picking chests/door is a simple water-down version of the Fallout/Elder Scrolls lock picking, but it still works.

There are a plethora of quests involved whenever you travel to different areas. It has been 15 hours of game play since I was giving the first main storyline quest and I haven’t been able to get back to it.

 

One fun feature is the aggressive mode function. By pressing one button, you are given 20 seconds to steal, assassinate, or attack any simple NPC in any town. It may not seem like much in a review, but it is a lot of fun when in small doses.

The combat class system is all based on how you level up your character. You have three “level up” sections to choose from: Might, Finesse, and Sorcery. What you put into one, two or three sections can unlock different classes for your benefit. The gamer has the ability to change the combat class at any point in the game and isn’t penalized for taking a different route.

The variety or combat classes, skills, weapons, and races allows for multiple replay options when one gets bored with a particular class or when one wants to take on advanced roles of RPG games.

Kingdoms of Amalur feels like a very simple action RPG and it may be helpful for those who are too intimidated to try some of those complex RPGs available. This would be a great starter for gamers new to RPGs or for those experienced RPG players looking for a change of pace.

I give Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans.

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Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

There are many RPGs that try to make a name for themselves in the world of gaming. Not many of them succeed. With Bioware, Blizzard, and Bethesda dominating an RPG realm that was owned by Japanese games, 20 years ago, it makes one wonder if the Final Fantasy series has a say in the American market anymore.

Even though Square-Enix has produced a degree of “questionable” quality games (Final Fantasy XIV, Dungeon Siege III, Front Mission Evolved, etc.), the company is still pushing through in adding to the Fabula Nova Crystallis series with Final Fantasy XIII-2.

For those of you who are not familiar with Square-Enix latest Final Fantasy project, the Fabula Nova Crystallis is a series of games (Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Final Fantasy Type-0) that centers on the theme of crystals and their affect on the universe. For those that haven’t played Final Fantasy XIII, this love/hate type game focuses on fugitive on the run in an attempt to stop the world from being destroyed by crystal like machine gods. Hard to understand that notion, but becomes understandable when you play the game.

Square-Enix tried making the gamer enjoy the beauty of XIII’s combat, cut scenes, and World when they limited the combat mechanics and ability to travel between town. This helped to add the danger that the fugitive protagonists were on the run, but many people felt a bit detached from the game unlike previous series.

Square-Enix looked at these issues and tried to address them, in Final Fantasy XIII-2, without destroying the lore established by its predecessor.

 

The game kicks off three years after FF XIII. Lightning, FFXIII’s main hero, has gone missing from the timeline and ended up in Valhalla, a world where time has no meaning. It is up to Lightning’s sister, Serah, and a mysterious time traveler, Noel, to travel through time and figure out what happened to Lightning and the time frame.

The main focus of the game involves traveling through different time periods and fixing time paradoxes.

An example is you travel back in time to the Civil War era, 1861-1865. Once there you discover the South is using Apache helicopters during the war while the North is using night vision goggles. That notion is a time paradox because the helicopters and NVGs weren’t used during that time period. Because that time paradox exists, the rest of time is in a state of disarray. Only way to repair time is to remove that paradox from the improper time period. That is the essential mission for Final Fantasy XIII-2.

This concept provides a very useful tool to the world because it allows the gamer to see a lot more of the Final Fantasy world and culture. It also allows the gamer to travel back and forth to look at the time periods and interact with the people. A concept that was removed from Final Fantasy XIII.

The game play concept seems like a great way to play this game, but the dialogue and interaction tends to insult the gamers’ intelligence. Purposely misspelling artifacts with “Artefacts” doesn’t make a game cool. At one point the characters were discussing a time paradox mirror. When the dialogue states, “This mirror must be from the future….. Or the past…… It doesn’t belong in this time period…” one gets the sense that Square-Enix assumes gamers have a low level of intelligence.

The combat mechanics are pretty much the same from Final Fantasy XIII, but it has been improved for a greater feel of involvement. The combat is composed of the same “trial and error” class team up battles. This set up allowed for gamers to try and experiment different tactics without being punished. The combat now possesses a Pokemon type concept where the player can capture monsters, train them, and have them fight on one’s side. It’s not a bad twist to the series, but the concept still needs improvement.

 

The cinematic action events, a mini game in mid combat, has a feel that one is doing a little more than just standing around waiting to attack or be attacked. The mog clock, an ability to attack the enemy before the actual battle, has been added to help set an advantage/disadvantage before combat.

When not in combat, the gamer can take part in dialogue action events where they get to choose what to say in regards to the plot. This allows the player to unlock one of five different endings for the game. The game is also shorter than the average Final Fantasy game so you can replay it again and obtain those different endings.

The characters are a little more fleshed out and the story gives the gamer a better feel on the Crystal theme. For those Final Fantasy XIII fans, you get to see how the past characters have come along in the series.

The sequel has come a long way from its predecessor, but still has a lot to work on. The time traveling concept was a great jumping off point for the series, but doesn’t deliver much. A component that is absolutely critical when Final Fantasy series is struggling to keep up with other RPGs.

I give Final Fantasy XIII-2 thumbs down for our ProvenGamer fans.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

Oh Bethesda, you silly developers. I did have a life before you brought out Skyrim. I had things to go to and finals to study for… But NO, you made this giant game for us to play. Even so, it is an epic journey worthy of all the hype about it.

The massive story is just that, massive. It starts, as with Oblivion, with your character as a prisoner. You are told briefly about a civil war happening in Skyrim before literally being brought to the chopping block. As the axe is raised and you realize how much you really do value your neck, a dragon appears and attacks the village. After scrambling away and doing a few minor quests you find that you are the last Dragonborn, a warrior who can use and absorb dragon souls in “Shouts”, and is the only one who can stop the reemergence of dragons who have not been seen for thousands of years.

That, however, is only the main quest. There is much, much more to be done in Skyrim: Dark brotherhood, Thief’s Guild, the civil war and the Companions fighter’s guild are just to name a few. This is not even considering the downloadable content that is sure to come to the game. There are also many small missions for random citizens. All quests aside, there is still exploring, hunting, cooking, crafting and other such activities that are available.

 

One cool addition to this is that you can craft your own armor and weapons. Pretty much every kind of weapon and armor can be created by your character’s own two hands. It is a hassle to carry ore, leather or whatever other material around, but there are places that you can drop them off.

Like in its predecessor, Skyrim also gives you the ability to buy houses. They are safe places to drop off items that are not worthy enough to join you on your quest but are good enough to not be dropped somewhere random. Unlike Oblivion, in this Elder Scrolls game, you also get somewhat of a servant guard called a “housecarl”. They stay in your house unless you ask them to follow which means they will follow and protect you on your quest, and/or, and much more importantly, carry your stuff for you. However, getting a house can sometimes not be worth the cost.

The combat in Skyrim is also greatly improved. There is now an option to dual-wield weapons. Dual wielding prevents you from being able to block, but it has different power attacks and bonuses. Magic is also improved. In Oblivion, I could not stand using a mage, but in Skyrim, I stopped playing my first warrior character to make a mage. It can be argued the magic is overpowered in this game, but I enjoyed burning, freezing, electrocuting, etc. the enemies who got in my way.

While the super strong hero role is easy to play in Skyrim, it becomes extremely difficult to try and play as a low profile kind of character. You can get through the game alright, however it’s hard to try and be a sneaky thief kind of guy and a dragon falls out of the sky and starts fighting you. Realistically speaking, that MAY cause attention. If you are trying to really “get in the game” it really ruins the illusion, but if you want to be a bloodthirsty, Viking-like badass then don’t worry, you’re good.

 

The new ability of “shouting” for Elder Scrolls games is in Skyrim. Shout does not take “Magicka” to use, but instead uses a separate recovery meter. You can get a variety of shouts in the game that have different effects. The shouts can do anything from pushing things away to breathing fire. Shouting is a very interesting addition to the game and, luckily, it is very easy to make it a core part of your gameplay without feeling forced to use it.

The visuals of this game are also amazing. It was entertaining to just to travel around and view the mountains or flow fields or the occasional babbling brook that are scattered throughout the very large world. It’s not often that I, personally, have a feeling of awe by the landscape of a video game, but I did feel it at some of the areas in this game.

The massive game of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim can proudly carry on the prestigious reputation of its predecessors. The only downside to this game is also one of the great things about it, its size. It requires a lot of time to play this game. Other than that though, this is definitely a game that I would recommend to all ProvenGamer fans.

I give The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans.

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FIFA 2012 Review

Each year EA Sports releases the next installment of their FIFA franchise and millions of gamers are there eagerly waiting to pick it up. For so long the only noticeable change to the game was the roster update which would see Electronic Arts football game speedily lose out to Pro Evolution Soccer from Konami. But since FIFA 10, the tables have turned with fantastic improvements year after year making FIFA 12 not only the best football games around, but one of the greatest sports games ever made.

So how has the beautiful game been improved in its digital form this year? The most noticeable change is the defensive engine. No longer are you able to hold down one button to close in and tackle the opposing team and steal possession. Now it’s a lot more tactical. Holding down the X button will allow you to follow the player in possession, but you will have to time your tackle perfectly or the player will skip right past you. The change to tactical defending also allows you to call another defender to help. This sends an AI player to cover the ball while you take up another position and even pull a players shirt as they run past you. Although it makes the game more realistic, it is not without faults. On multiple occasions I feel I made perfectly timed challenges only for the AI player to walk through me. Even after reviewing replays it looked as if my foot would go right through the football. Some players will find this so frustrating that they may decide to change back to legacy defending which is available in the option menu.

 

Another change from FIFA 11 is the player impact engine. With this new engine it allows for more realistic collisions between players. Ninety percent of the time the difference is clear to see with the AI acting to tackles like you feel they should. But there is still a lot of work to be done to solidify the engine. There are moments in the game where a player will act erratically to the slightest touch from the opposing team. The engine is also supposed to simulate injuries with greater accuracy although whether this is true or not I was unable to tell.

EA has also taken time to try and rectify problems with the online game. The bulk of these problems normally stem from quitters who will leave near the very end of the game. It caused genuine players to lose the win and XP without much punishment being dished out to the quitter. To change this players who regularly quit will find themselves paired more often with other people who are liable to quit. In practice, I have noticed that although it is less likely that the opposing player will quit but it still happens from time to time. No matter how EA Sports tackles this problem it will probably still remain. One small change that makes a huge difference online is the team selection process. In previous FIFA’s an online game meant playing Barcelona’s Real Madrid so many times to match the opposition. This has changed in FIFA 12 with the player selecting their team before being paired with a player. Not only does this allow a greater variety of teams used online, but the engine also pairs with a team of similar quality to the team you have chosen. This makes online much more dynamic. Along with new game modes within online, such as an online league that allows the gamer to climb through the divisions by gaining a certain number of points within ten games. Lose too many games and the slippery slope of relegation will see you drop down leagues.

 

For those who prefer to remain offline, EA has not totally forgotten about you. The staple career mode still exists allowing you to play as a player, player/ manager or manager. To make the experience of being a manager more immersive the fun of transfer deadline day has been added. On the last day in which the transfer market is open, the game simulation will go down an hour at a time instead of simulating a day at a time to give the player a last chance to make a last ditch signing. Its small touches like these that add to the FIFA experience.

FIFA 12 is easily the most satisfying and realistic football simulation that has ever been released but its not without its flaws. As usual with FIFA fanatics, we hope these issues will have been resolved by the time FIFA 13 hits store shelves. Till then, we can enjoy playing the great game as it just keeps getting better.

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Dragonball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi Review

This is one of those games, along with any Dragonball Z game, that has prejudice against it. Many of its predecessors were button-mashing, overpowered disasters that appealed only to die-hard fans. While I, myself, am indeed a fan of the series, I believe that Dragonball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is revamped and innovative game that is a first of its kind for Dragonball Z.

The regular story mode follows the story of Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT from Raditz to Omega Shenron. Those unfamiliar to the Dragonball series… I don’t know where you’ve been but it would take me far too long to explain its story. However, there is an alternate story mode that is a first for Dragonball Z games. This game features a character creation mode called “Hero mode”.

In hero mode, you have to create your own Saiyan warrior and save Earth in an alternate universe. There is very little customization to start off with, but more is unlocked as you play. The planet has been thrown into chaos due to a mysterious enemy’s wish with the dragon balls. Your character is on a mission to collect the dragon balls and set things straight. Over the course of the campaign, you fight battles to improve your character’s statistics and can train under well-known characters, such as Piccolo, Goku, Gohan, etc., to gain new abilities, such as Kamehameha, Spirit bomb, etc.

 

The character creation is not the only thing innovative about this game. The actual combat is more cinematic than I have experienced in other games. Button-mashing still does play a role in the game, but most of the combat is about picking the right attack and when to use your specials. Counters and boss battles are the only times that button-mashing is used. However, countering is a big part of combat so button-mashing is still in the game a significant amount.

Combat is also broken up into ranged and grapple. If you are close, you will attack with melee moves, but if you move too far, there will be an interactive cut scene after which you can only attack with “Ki” attacks. Charging also serves no other purpose than defense. I found that charging really only hurts you in this game because if you charge, you leave yourself open to a combo much to much.

Big boss battles are a new and fun addition to the Tenkaichi series. It is partially combat and partially interactive cut scenes with giant enemies. Most of them are story significant enemies such as “Great Ape Vegita” and Baby. I found most of the fights to be on the easier side but there was a few annoying ones.

 

Other than hero mode, the other modes are basically the same. There is still versus mode, tournament mode and a story mode. The character was okay, not great. Also there is only one Super Saiyan 4 character, that character being SS4 Gogeta. That disappointed me, but there isn’t a big gap in characters abilities.

Overall Dragonball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is a great Dragonball Z game. Dragonball Z fans should definitely give this game a try. If you ProvenGamer fans are not also fans of Dragonball Z, then this may not be the game for you.

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Rage Review

It’s been a while since id Software announce the Rage title two years ago and even longer since the developers brought out a fun title. Their long hiatus is over and it is time so see if Rage stands up there with the famous Doom and Quake series.

As a sadly asteroid head toward Earth, an ark survivor (that’s you) is placed into a hibernation chamber with other survivor, waiting for the day you will wake up and continue human civilization.

But it is never that simple in a video game title, it is? As you awake from your chamber, you discover you’re the only survivor in you group after decades of sleep. If that isn’t a bummer, your first vision of Earth is revealed to be a desert swallowing post apocalyptic nightmare. Your brave first steps into this dead world are interrupted by immediate bandits ready to end your life immediately. Luckily a wasteland inhabitant rescues you, takes you back to his home, hands you a gun, and gives you a mission to kills some evil bandits. That is always a hallmark moment is any video game.

The game has a Borderlands/Fallout feel when you play. You head talk to people who give you missions and in return you will get: money, guns, recipes for ammo/devices, or more missions. There is a little more feel to this aspect since there is voice dialogue from NPCs involved with the mission briefing. It gives you an idea of why you are doing this mission instead of just simply accepting quests.

 

The characters throughout the world provide a mixed sense of the world when talking to them. Despite how this is a setting where civilization has taken a huge step back, everyone welcomes you with a warm smile and personality. It is hard to accept the fact that you need to destroy a tribe of bandit to ensure a towns survival when the guy handing you the mission has a personality that is livelier than a cast member on a Disney show.

Now a good adventure game needs an acceptable combat engine to keep the player engaged and that is where Rage delivers. Whether you wield a shotgun through a bandit fight or take on Authority troopers with the BFG for the first time, you have the feel that you are playing a fantastic newly update version of Doom or Quake. The combat is as intense and action packed as its predecessors.

A new addition to the combat is the use of different ammunition throughout the game. Weapons have different 2-3 different types of ammo that posses different affects. Switching ammo during a gunfight adds a whole new tactic to the battle.

There are of course some fun toys to add to your weaponry such as auto-turrets (deploy and let them have their own fun), bomb equipped RCs, and dynamite attached to a balloon. The new and uniquely enticing weapon is the wing-stick. A CPU operated boomerang style weapon that adds an interesting take to combat. Used in a certain way, the wing stick can home in and instantly attack multiple enemies in one throw. Buying a bunch of these wing-sticks can help you go Crocodile Dundee in this post – apocalyptic world.

While the combat and clever weaponry keeps you interested, the travel method in Rage tears that interest down. The only real way to travel around the world is with through vehicles like dune buggies and ATVs. This would be a nice addition to the game except the control scheme doesn’t work in the player’s favor. All vehicles can stop on a dime, but adjusting your vehicle afterwards can be frustrating. The lack if drifting can be obnoxious during mini races or traveling the world. I can’t tell you how many times I was in the lead of a car race only to lose the match because of the poor vehicle controls and a single u-shaped turn.

 

As for the multiplayer function in Rage, online play is based solely on vehicle matches (I.e. Races, car death matches, drive to collect particular items, etc.) Since the same vehicle glitches from the single player exist in multiplayer, it can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because everyone else is struggling with the controls and you have an equal to greater chance of winning a match (I won seven in a row). It is also a curse because the controls may steer you away from online play. There is a level up system similar to Call of Duty (minus killstreaks), but you may not want to go that far if you can’t stand the game play.

So does Rage fit the bill for gamer fans out there? Not a simple question to answer. The combat will keep you interested, but the vehicle combat and online play hurts the game’s interest.

As a die hard fan of Quake and Doom, I have to say yes to this game. The best advice I can give to those Doom/Quake fans is to wait for a sale on this game because seventy dollars isn’t worth it.

If you a part of the generation that hasn’t heard of Doom or Quake, I’d say wait for the game to drop down to a cheap price and give it a try.

I give Rage thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans.

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Renegade Ops Review

When you take a first glance at the Renegade Ops trailer, you may get the sense that there isn’t much to this over the top shooter. It’s only after you sit down and try this download only game that you become addictive to the destruction factor.

The game’s story is told through comic book style movie scenes. A mad dictator, Inferno, mysteriously shows up and announces his army will destroy countless cities unless all nations hand control over to him. While the U.N. looks into finding a way to overcoming this conflict, a five starred general, named General Bryant, gets frustrated with the red tape involved in taking down a warlord and leaves the military to form his own private renegade team dedicated to taking down Inferno. Thus Renegade Ops is created and your role in the game begins.

You get to choose from one of four different characters, each with his/her vehicle and abilities. Although it is partially sad to know the general isn’t a playable character, the four different characters still have some great fire power to tackle the vast army ahead.

 

The characters don’t have any dialogue, so expect any and all story involvement to come from radio transmissions from the general and movie cutscenes.

Once you get underway, the gameplay is actually gripping and entertaining. This over the tap gameplay (similar to Dead Nation view) has simple enough controls for any player to get involved. As you progress through the game, you build up a level up system that improves your abilities for future levels and higher difficulty. I have mainly played with a character that utilizes an EMP weapon, but upgrades have allowed that ability to last longer or do effective damage while temporarily shutting down enemy forces.

 

As you play through levels, you will be coming across tons of enemy AIs ready to take you out. Luckily the destruction level involved with destroying the enemy forces will leave you itching to take on as many enemies as possible. The end of the first level has you temporarily trading your vehicle for a helicopter so you can rain destruction on an immense enemy aircraft carrier. The level of explosion you will create in that fifteen minute boss battle will leave you wanting to replay the level again and again.

This DLC isn’t as grand as the next Call of Duty game, but the game is a great deal of fun for ten dollars.

I give Renegade Ops thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans