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Archive for January, 2011

Mindless Mini Reviews: Pac-Man, Red Dead, AC Brotherhood and more

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

There were a whole bunch of games that came out during 2010 but since I was in school all year I didn’t have nearly enough time to review everything I wanted to.  So to make up for it I’m going to do several mini reviews on a couple games that I feel are worth mentioning.

Costume Quest
If you looking for a solid RPG with a great sense of humor Costume Quest is definitely worth a look. It’s Halloween and you control one of two twins.  Depending on who you are the other is mistaken for a giant piece of candy corn and gets taken away by some monsters.  So it’s up to you to save your sibling or face being grounded if you fail.

The writing and humor is great in Costume Quest more than once I found myself laughing out loud over some of the dialogue.

The rest of the game plays like your typical RPG, but with a Halloween theme.  Instead of random battles you go door to door trick-or-treating not knowing if a friendly face waits for you, or a menacing ghoul. The battles are turn based but every action you perform has some sort of context sensitive aspect to it so it makes the combat a lot more involving.

The real treat is seeing how the various costumes transform when the enter battle, what might be a crappy cardboard robot, turns into a giant mech towering over the town when you enter battle.

Costume Quest has a great RPG with an amazing sense of humor, and it’s definitely worth a look even outside the Halloween season.  8.5/10

Assassins Creed Brotherhood
Ezio Auditore da Firenze is back in the sequel to 2009’s Assassins Creed 2.  Ubi Soft did a great job of taking the formula from AC2 and building upon it to make another great entry to the series.  New additons like building your own brotherhood of assassins and sending them on missions is easy, but very rewarding to do.

Multiplayer was also added but I never ended up trying it, but from what I can tell it seems like playing tag, but with stabbing.

The story picks up right after the events of AC2, and just because this isn’t a number sequel doesn’t mean the story is any less important, if you think you can skip this and play AC3 you’re dead wrong. 9/10

Red Dead Redemption
When you take the GTA formula and set it in the wild west you get RDR.  With a beautiful open world environment to explore, and a good story with an interesting set of characters RDR is easily the best game that Rockstar has but out to date.

Though the story and environments are really well done the combat could use some work.  The game makes you become really dependent on using the Dead Eye system that slows down time so you can hit multiple targets at once. With it combat becomes really easy, but without it some of the targets are moving way to fast to hit so you the game really makes you use it.

But even with the combat issues RDR is definitely worth checking out. 8/10

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
This game is CRACK… I mean it.

The people at Namco somehow found a way to concentrate crack down to video game form and that game is Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.

It takes the basic Pac-Man formula and give it a new twist.  Featuring a variety of mazes and game modes the object in PMCEDX is to eat all the dots on a path, as you finish up one path another path of dots appears and you keep going until time runs out.

There are also a lot more ghosts this time around where as usually there are only four, this time around you can have up to 30 ghosts chasing you at once in a nice little conga line.  It’s hard to describe how satisfying the feeling is when you grab a power pellet and turn the tables on a mob of ghosts chasing you.

The game is all about trying to get as high a score as you possible can having and having online leaderboards really pushes you to want to do better and better.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is extremely fun, and very addicting. Highly recommended. 9.5/10

Enslaved: Odessey to the West
I’m going to go out an say Enslaved is the best game I played this year that nobody else did.  Ninja Theory’s second game is a great story with a fantastic cast of characters that really steal the show.

Monkey and Trip are two of the most believable characters I’ve encountered in a video game in a long time and that is no doubt do to the fantastic motion capture performances and some of the best facial animations anywhere. All of these factors combine to make two characters you really end up caring about.

The gameplay is a bit of a mix of Uncharted type climbing mixed with God of War type combat system but not as deep as either.  You can upgrade your abilities as you go to open up combat a bit, but not to much.

Despite a few short comings Enslaved is still a really great game it’s one a highly recommend. 9/10

Darksiders
It’s a mature Zelda, but you play as a horseman of the apocalypse, with art direction by Joe Mad.  I think that sums it up nicely.   8.5/10

So there you have it, a slew of some of the best games from 2010 that I didn’t have enough time to mention earlier.  Coming up next a review for Mass Effect 2 on PS3 (spoilers it’s awesome!).

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Sony’s next handheld revealed: The NGP

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Last night at a press event in Japan, Sony revealed it’s newest handheld device codenamed the NGP or next generation portable.

First off I want to say the NGP is damn sexy.

So damn sexy

Secondly it was announced that the NGP will support Playstation Network Trophies, which is great news for me since I’m a massive trophy whore.  So now I can take my trophy whoring out on the rode with me, HORRAY!!!!

Thirdly since I wasn’t at the event I can only go over what I’ve hear from other sites, but it’s being claimed to rival the PS3 in graphics, it will have an area dubbed LiveArea which seems to function like PS3’s XMB.  There will also be two analog control sticks, a touch screen on the front, and a touch pad on the back.  Games that were shown include Uncharted Portable, LittleBigPlanet and Resistance. No price point was announced but a release window of holiday 2011 was given.

The NGP's LiveArea. Note the two most important pieces of this photo, Trophies and Uncharted Portable.

I didn’t think  I would get this excited about the NGP but it just looks so damn good, and the addition of trophies really peaked my interest.  The real question is what Sony is going to do to get people interested in buying it, with the 3DS coming out most attention will be on that.  Hopefully they learned their lesson from the PS3’s launch and won’t charge to much for it scaring potential buyers away.

Categories: Awesome, News, NGP, Trophies, Video Games

Mindless Review: Donkey Kong Country Returns

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Donkey Kong Country series on the SNES was one of my favorite franchises back in the day, so when the announcement came that a new Donkey Kong Country was coming out for the Wii I was over joyed.  Now that Donkey Kong Country Returns is here, is the return a welcome one?

Taking the helm of DKCR is Retro Studios, the folks behind the Metroid Prime series, but instead of reinventing the formula like they did in Prime, Retro instead chose to take DK back to his platforming roots and build upon the formula that made the series such a success in the past.

The story if you want to call it that centers around Donkey Kong having his famous banana hoard stolen by a bunch of tiki creatures (in place of the series mainstay villains the Kremlins) and Donkey Kong must go through hell and high water to get his precious bananas back.  The story doesn’t really matter here because it’s the gameplay where it counts, but at least the story explains why a bunch of tiki creatures are stealing DK’s bananas.

So DK will journey through 8 different worlds, with about 8-10 levels in each.  Gameplay is very typical for a platformer, you move from left to right, using the buttons to run and jump.  Other actions, such as rolling and stomping the ground come into play by a shaking of the wiimote.

There are two options for control, playing with the wiimote on it’s own for a more classic feel, or by playing with the nunchuck.  The wiimote on it’s own is the best way to play since it’s like playing with an NES control which is best suited for this kind of game.

Many of the series mechanics returns such as barrel blasting, mine cart riding and vine swinging, and there’s enough new added to the mix to keep the experience fresh.

One notable absence in the formula are the underwater levels, which where a game staple in the past.  It’s disappointing that not one underwater level shows up in DKCR, cause in most cases I hate underwater levels, but the ones in Donkey Kong Country where actually really good.

Two new additions are the ability to grab on to grassy areas to climb them, and rocket barrel levels where you navigate DK through a a bunch of obstacles by raising and lowering his flight path.  The rocket barel levels are a great new addition to the series and prove to be some of the game’s most challenging levels.

Speaking of challenge, DKCR is hard. I mean really hard.  If there’s one thing I can guarantee about DKCR it is that you will die… a lot.  One level I started out with 40 lives and by the time I was done I was down to 5.

Don’t let the challenge discourage you from playing this however because it’s the challenge that makes the game so damn good to begin with.  It harkens back to the Golden Age of gaming where it actually took skill to beat a game.  It’s rare to get such a high sense of accomplishment for beating a level these days, but it’s something that DKCR offers a lot.

Visually the game looks really good, there is a lot of variety in the stages in not just how they play but how they look.  The silhouette levels in particular are some of the more visually stunning levels in the game.  DKCR also does a lot with perspective to make the action seem more intense and it’s something that just couldn’t be done back on the SNES.

There is also an option for 2 player co-op where the 2nd player takes control for DK’s long time pal Diddy Kong.  While playing solo Diddy hangs onto DK’s back to give him some more hit points, and extend his jump due to his jet pack.

There is also some incentive to go back and replay levels, each level has for letters that spell Kong, and puzzle pieces.  Collecting them all unlocks bonus content like galleries and extra levels. There are also Time Trials for those who want a real challenge.

Donkey Kong Country Returns, stands out as one of the best games of 2010, and it’s a definite buy if you’re a fan of the older Donkey Kong Country games, or if your looking for a game with an extra bit of challenge.  Simply put, if you have a Wii buy this game, because for my money Mario isn’t the king of platformers it’s Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong Country Returns: 9.5/10

Categories: Awesome, Review, Video Games

Mindless Babble: Salad

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Last night while I was laying in bed waiting to fall asleep a large craving to make a salad came over me, but being around 1 am I didn’t want to actual go and make the salad because I might wake someone up in the process.

So instead I lay there, in my bed with thoughts of salad on my mind.

Two thoughts came across my mind in that process the first was how I came about to use the salad dressing that I use on my salad, Golden Italian.

The more I thought about it the more I came to realize that the only reason I used Golden Italian on my salad was that it’s what the rest of my family uses, it’s what I was brought up on as a wee lad.

And it got me thinking, if I went back in time to the point where I first had a salad and was given a choice to what salad dressing I wanted what would I choose?  Would I still choose, Golden Italian? Or would I choose something else?

The second thing that I got thinking about was the worst salad that I’ve ever had, it was about 5 years ago.  It was my first year at Carleton University, and I was in the cafiteria.  The Carleton cafe, had a salad bar in it, so I decided to take advantage of it one night.

I decide to make a caesar salad.

I got all the usual suspects: lettuce, croutons, bacon bits, than it came time to dressing.  I looked over my chocies and saw two white dressings side by side, one said ranch, the other ceaser.  So of course I went with the ceaser.

My caesar salad was now complete, and I made my why over to my new found friends and sat down.  I stuck my fork into a piece of lettuce with a good amount of dressing on it, and put it in my mouth.  As soon as it hit my tongue a knew something was wrong.

The taste was not of caesar dressing, it was of ranch!!!  Someone had mixed up the two and I made, a grave error, and it tasted awful.

I could have just stopped eating the salad, and be done with it, but no I was with a bunch of people I was still getting to know, I didn’t want them to think I was some big food waster.  So instead in my panicked state of mind I decided to grudge on and finish the salad.

Each bite I took was a blow to my taste buds, but still I pushed on.  I got to a point where it looked like I ate a good amount of it and decided I could take no more.  From that moment on I was extremely carful when it came time to make a caesar salad.

So with these thoughts out of my mind, I still lay in my bed waiting to fall asleep, and I think to myself, “It’s funny what your mind can get up to when it’s late and your hungry.”

Categories: Mindless Babble
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