Forza Motorsport 2

June 13, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

Turn 10 and Microsoft makes another go-round with their racing simulation experience, Forza Motorsport 2 and what an experience it is. Two years ago when it was first appeared on the original Xbox, it had great locations, great cars, and great racing well Forza 2 does all of those things but better, which leads up to be one amazing racing game.

 When you first start up the game the game can be boring at first, but if you got enough patience for about two hours that is when Forza starts to kick in with some good looking cars. Forza has over 300 cars to unlock and buy from across the world. Cars range from Class D to R1, or Muscle to Sports cars. Before a race you can buy new parts to help build your car higher, if you buy enough parts to make your car performance go up your car will actually go up a class making it better for some events. Maybe the paint your car have doesn’t fit your taste, go to the paint section and do what you want, there are limit possibilities, you can make a South Park car or Scarface one it doesn’t matter, then you can take a picture of it and send it to the community website in your profile. You can also tune your car how you want it, how fast you want each gear to accelerate or have top speed or how fast you want your tires to go, costing more or less friction, you can even hire a driver you do not want to play that track, only downside is that if you want a good driver he is going to take all your winnings.

Once you get into a race you will notice how realistic this game is, you will not be able hit turns over 45mph and you won’t be able to break and accelerate too quickly out of a turn without starting to spin out of control. Cars run smoothly at their attributes, but if you take too much damage, be prepared to have your speed reduced and your car turning to the left or right when on a straight away. If you did crash a lot, your credits (which is used to level up and buy cars) will be deducted to pay for the damage. The damage itself is realistic, bumpers falling off and lots of scratched paint, everything you will expect to see in a racing simulation. Their about 8 or 10 different leagues with 7 to 12 events which have some made up tracks and real life tracks, in each some require you to have reached a certain level to enter or have a certain type of car in your garage to participate. The racing requires patience and it will grow on you once you get the hang of it.

One of the great modes of the multiplayer is the auction house, here you can bid on a car that you like, buy it out, or sell one of yours if you are low on money. Here you can search for your dream car that someone else might sell for a lower price. If you need money you can sell one of your hot rides. First set the starting bid price, then if you want a buyout price set that too, then you can that put the car as a featured item if you want more exposure but for a price and then set how long you want your item to stay up. If you know you have a great car put it up for a high price and earn a lot. The other modes of Multiplayer are Circuit racing which is the same as career racing with a certain amount of laps to win and Series races are races one after another to see who wins the most of all the races. You will also be able to do win money online by doing Microsoft sponsored tournaments or doing career races. If you feel you want to study other racers, go to Tournament TV to view other racers race and study all they race.

The visuals in Forza Motorsport 2 vary from perfect to needs some work. The car details are perfect or at least near there, but on the other hand the backgrounds and environments need work. The crowd is flat and looks like paper moving, yes some that are in the front are 3-D but the animation is bad. Background visuals aren’t that bad, but it is only average, no sort of life in the background, trees have no animation, they are flat and not really pleasing. You can’t complain since you are going to be looking at the car and the road the whole time of the race. If you do ride through the dirt you will see some dust clouds as your tires spin or once you burnout at the beginning of the race you will notice smoke from your tires, just little details they pay attention to.

The music in Forza ranges from rock to soft rock, the soundtrack is suitable for the game, but may not be suitable for some who doesn’t like rock. There doesn’t seem to be any way to import or own soundtracks into the game. Forget about the music, the cars sounds realistic as ever. Muscle cars will have more of a powerful and louder sound, while sports cars will be a little lower and sounds a little more of a motorcycle. You will also notice a different in sounds if you change the view from far away to close up. As you get ready to pass a lap you will notice the crowd noises rises from faded to clear to faded again as you get far away.

This game will keep you going for hours and hours as it will take at least two weeks to finish the career mode. Then you might one to try online or create some cool cars or play some tournaments. Maybe if you do not have Xbox Live play arcade mode to unlock more cars and earn achievement points. Overall this is one racing game you don’t want to miss, if you got the patience to learn how to play this game correctly and get the best cars in the game, this is perfect for you, if you don’t like realistic racing simulation, still try this game, it might be worth your time. Turn 10 has created another successful game.

Def Jam: ICON

March 22, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

The next-generation fighting game, Def Jam Icon differs from the rest; it has its own unique gameplay, no more wrestling, but all out brawling, in a few different fighting styles, which I will get into later. This game is mostly about you coming from a young talent to a famous hip-hop icon. EA loaded this game with a total 29 popular songs to jam to and catch a beat down on your opponent. You can also pick through a total of 30 characters, some are rappers, producers, and some are just added for story purposes.

The build a label mode is a great new mode; this is the “story mode” of Def Jam: Icon, which I already explained that you start as a young talent and rise to the top. The only way you can do this is to sell your artists’ songs; if you sell enough units you can become rich very quick. In this game you got to spend money to make money, you can spend money on air play of the song, pr appearances, stock etc.  The artists are signed to you are sort of at random and you can only sign up to four artists, in which Ludacris is already given to you, you can only have three artists. Once you earn money, you will be able to buy clothing, jewelry, tattoos, and hair styles.

You can also get girlfriends in the game, but there is really no interactions with them accept buying them gifts and inviting them over to your crib. The only way you can earn girlfriends depends how much style you have. You will have to keep your artists happy and buy stuff for them like a new console, role in a new movie, or bailing someone out of jail. You will also have to keep your girlfriends happy or they will leave you quick. Soon you will later start to see you moving on up to a new penthouse as you get more money and popular.

Gameplay can be sluggish and frustrating at times, but it is still a blast to play. There are between five and six different fighting styles and they all have their special stats and speed movement. Some styles are betting than others in ways, such as grappling, grappling break, grappling counter etc. The animation is smooth, but you will see some jumpy textures as characters do back flips or front flips, but the animation is still great. The real part of this game is using the music as your weapon, you will have to learn the beats of the songs and know when to throw your opponent into a hazard. If you don’t know the beat you can use the DJ turntables to hit a hard beat and take a lot of damage if your opponent is near or on the hazard. Maybe if your song you picked before a match isn’t going use the DJ Turntables to put your songs on which makes you a lot faster than your opponent. Mostly all the environments in Def Jam are that they are interactive and it is nice to see that in a Def Jam game.

Online is pretty much the same as single player but there are some extras, such as using the chat feature and talking smack to anyone who is getting a beat down. You can set taunts or signatures used for dominated opponents or for quitting opponents. You can hangout in the hood as EA calls it, but it is just a lobby for people to meet and start matches. If someone has bad connection the characters will move slow and you will see a huge delay in your actions.

The graphics are unbelievable as all the rappers looks like themselves, EA got everything to their own style of clothing and stance. Background is very "colorful" as the music plays the backgrounds move with it, making the background a must see. The background is so eye-catching you are just going to say “Whoa” because that is how good it is. You will see nice looking clothing, all the clothing is mostly sponsored by companies like, Adidas, Jordan shoes, Zoo York and Eckos.

Sound is unbelievable, if you are a rap fan, you will most likely know all the songs, as EA picked the most known songs to date. The explosions are sounds pretty good and the voice acting is superb. The rappers got they own style and taunts and tey use it in the game. You will notice words they use in their songs that they will use in their taunts, like the famous “Mike Jones” shout. You can also add your own soundtrack if you don’t like theirs.

Overall this is an excellent game, maybe a rent for non-rap fans and can still be enjoyable, but a buy for the people who love rap and love easy to learn gameplay, fighting system, and a great multiplayer.

F.E.A.R

February 23, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

The game has you part of an F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) operative squad, who is to investigate paranormal activities. You are the newest member of the F.E.A.R. team and you come upon your mission to eliminate a man named Paxton Fettel who takes controls of cloned soldiers that are somehow telepathically linked to him. Soon you will experience why the game is called F.E.A.R.

The gameplay in F.E.A.R. is somewhat different than other first person shooters. Unlike other first person shooters you have a reflex meter which lets you go into slow-mo and lets you get the edge on your enemy. This is a great way to see how great the gameplay is in F.E.A.R., this makes the game unique and you will need this to stay alive. The guns are great to use and there is a variety of them, from your classic pistol to your multi-missiles rocket launcher. All weapons have different effects on the enemies and the environments. Walls will explode and particles will fly off causing dust clouds or weapon might explode your enemy to bits, it doesn’t matter what gun it is the gunfights are always different and satisfying. The AI in these enemies are off the charts, they will flank you, call out orders, and move objects to give them cover. If you get too close to them they will kick you to back you off, it is absolutely amazing what you will see in F.E.A.R.

If you run out of bullets, then what do you do? You hit’em, that’s what. You have four different types of melee attacks; a gun bunt, spin kick, bicycle kick, and a slide kick, these techniques can do lots of damage, but is dangerous. All can be effective in the right situations or if you just don’t have any ammunition in any of your weapons. You can also find boosters to boost your health or reflex meter. The short cinematics you see in the game helps you with story and are usually mysterious. Only downside is the controls take a while to get used to, and you can’t save when you want, since this is a natural pc title. You will see a little collision problems were enemies arms and heads will go through the floor or wall, but it slightly throws off the game. After about a few hours you will notice you will be facing the same enemies, and the starts to get linear.

Xbox Live in F.E.A.R. is great fun. You have 8 different types of game modes to play and 10 nicely done maps. You have your standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. What F.E.A.R. also has is slow-mo deathmatch, or slow-mo team deathmatch which one person controls the slow-mo and him and his team members will have the edge on the other players, this is where F.E.A.R’s multiplayer differ from others. The online play may not be suitable for everyone because it plays like Unreal Tournament, in other words: fast paced. You will have a fun time talking trash over Xbox Live, now it is easier to communicate with your team.

Graphics are superb in this game, they are polished nicely, but it could have better lighting effects, but still great. The character models are done wonderfully; they all have their own unique traits and facial expressions. The pixels particles the blast off walls are great, the bloody pieces of body parts of enemies looks great if you like violence. The dark and gritty atmosphere of F.E.A.R. works perfectly for this game.
And now the rag doll physics, and how lovely they are. The rag doll physics are beautiful if you have a shotgun or a rocket launcher, body will be flying in the air doing cartwheels, back flips, and front flips. Sometimes you might shoot someone and make them flip over a rail or short wall, which is satisfying seeing it happen. The animation on the characters look great, some of the melee attacks need some work, but it is passable.

The sound of each gun has its own great sound, such as the Type 7 Particle Weapon, the laser sound fits perfectly, you could tell which gun would be firing if it was across the map. Even though it isn’t much of this, the voice acting is great, you’ll be surprised how it sounds, and you can hear their voices clearly.

This is a great game if you like fast paced action with intense scary moments and great storyline that you need to discover then F.E.A.R. is your game.

The Sopranos: Road to Respect

January 21, 2007 by  
Filed under General, Reviews

Based off the somewhat popular television show, The Sopranos, THQ sends us a mission-based style game. The Sopranos Road to Respect puts you in the role of Joey LaRocca, the son Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero. After you join the “family” you will have to lots of work to do to gain respect and become a made man.

The fun factor of the game is very low; the gameplay is linear, boring, and full of bugs and glitches. The combat in The Sopranos: Road to Respect is bad, poorly done combat, with environment fighting in which you can interact with the environment at some parts, like The Punisher, but not as satisfying. The controls are tight and non-responsive; you have a grapple, lighter attack, and a stronger attack. Mostly through the game you will just button mash your way through the game. When fighting there will be some collision problems, such as a person walking right through an object or hitting you ten feet away, this really lets the game down a lot. You will be able to pull of special moves like breaking a thug’s arm or leg. You could also but a thug’s head inside a refrigerator and smash the door on his head or put his head inside a toilet. You will have a few different mission types, some could be beating up thugs; others could be giving orders, but they are mostly the same, not fun, and easy. You also have a respect meter, and if you choose wrong decisions and your respect meter goes all the way down you get “whacked” but, you won’t really notice this.

There are some weapons in the game but, can only be used in a fight, you can’t carry it with you are carry it to another location, this also lets the game down. There is only one gun in the game or that have been seen, and it doesn’t feel so great to shoot it. About the cast you will majority see Tony, Paulie, Christopher, Silvio, and Vito. There will be a few others cast characters, but only seen in a short part of the game or just talked mentioned in the game. You will be able to play a Texas Hold’Em mini-game but that isn’t fun neither going to the strip club.

The graphics aren’t really hard to explain, their ugly. Yet, you will be able to identify the characters from the story; the characters model is blocky and has no really unique features to them. The animation is stiff and clunky, the environment looks better as it takes some of the locations from the show.

Sound quality is done better than the graphics, as the music somewhat fits the situation a parts and the voice acting is great. The characters in the game are voiced by the cast of the series, which is good and the developers doesn’t have sound-a-likes, who are usually a little off with an accent. There isn’t much dialogue in the game as expected but it is good.

Overall this is a game that you shouldn’t play unless you’re a Sopranos fan you might want to play it, just to see the characters, not the fun factor.

Company of Heroes

December 14, 2006 by  
Filed under PC, Reviews

In the murk of World War 2, countries have been captured, countries have been gained, and countries have been proud, but in Company of Heroes nothing has happened. You will experience the journey of the brave men of World War 2, in a deep single player campaign that begins with the invasion of Normandy then across Europe. Advanced squad AI brings soldiers to life as they interact with the environment and execute advanced squad tactics to eliminate the opposition forces. There are a total of 16 missions you will have to complete if you want to see the ending.

The gameplay in Company of Heroes is unique yet it is original. You will have maneuver your squad into enemy territory, but unlike any RTS you can use anything you find as cover, either if it’s a wall, car, or building you will need to take cover to complete your missions. Soon later in the game you will able to upgrade your weapons and place mines. Even though this game is a RTS game you will find body pieces and blood everywhere from the grenades you throw, you can also throw satchel charges to blow your enemies out the building. Once you advanced in certain places of the region you will be able to capture a church or outpost to build troops and call in air troopers. You will need to plan strategically to out wit your opponent. The game’s AI is superb you will see something different each time you play. The enemy will ambush, take cover, and call on snipers to take your team out. Occasionally you will have to battle tanks with your troops or tank on tank battles. The battles are immersive and you will have to think quickly while the battle is as large as 50 or more soldiers on screen. The cinematics are done to perfection, with great voice acting and you will not be disappointed by the narration.

When you start to feel the slightest repetition they release something new for you to toy around with, either if it is tanks, bazookas, or a whole new beautiful level. You will move from different countries while this war goes on for years, more you play in the game your technology will be upped with better weapons. You can also take your enemies mortar or Machine Gun. Later in the game you will start to love your squad and know just about everything about them.

Graphics are phenomenon compared to any other RTS game, with character models that are good as yet slightly better than average. There faces look shiny and polished, but really look no better than The Sims 2. The best graphics are in the environment, with water ripples and trees are so great to look at.  When bombs reign down it is at its best with the ground exploding and body flying, this game has some of the best rag doll physics I have seen. When a building blows up, it is so realistic and satisfying.

The sound is a great value to the game, with its expert voice acting by the cast. The telling of the story and the briefing is done with such excellency, its like a teacer reading a book to you. The explosions are great, with surround sound they are superb, you will be hitting the floor cause you will think a bomb landed in your back yard.

Overall this is one game you do not want to miss, with its presentation, graphics, sound, and high quality fun gameplay.

Tony Hawk Project 8

December 10, 2006 by  
Filed under General, Reviews

Your goal is to rise from #200 in the rankings among amateur skaters and make your way up to the top eight. Every secret location found, gap crossed, and every challenge beaten gets your created skater up in the rankings. Complete enough of them to and you’ll soon be in the Birdman’s team, Project 8. There are 12 pro skater cameos in the career mode, which includes Tony Hawk, Paul Rodriguez, Rodney Mullen, and lots more, which you can also play with in free skate and 2-player mode.

The gameplay is alright, compared to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, the latest and best feature of Project 8 is the Nail the Trick feature. Nail the Trick feature is satisfying and has a good camera view to control the action. Yet the latest feature has a major glitch which makes it a little less cool looking. Once in a while you will do the feature and the board will spin or flip, whatever you want it to do but, you legs will not move at all and so you will just be looking at a motionless character with the boards spinning. Falling of your skateboard opens up some of the worst physics in the game, and every time you fall there seem to be blood coming out your head. The game has some fun stages, but it feels like it is tacked on, the levels are not as complicated which made the other Tony Hawk games fun. There are some secrets in the stages which usually takes skill to reach. Gaps in the game in which you have to clear to go up in rankings are also another fun goal to try and accomplish.

The goals in the game are easy; there is no struggle in any of the goals you will encounter. Your created character in career mode can get passed the game without assigning stat points to your character. You can do tricks around civilians with coins around their head to earn money to spend on in the skate shop. You can either buy decks for your skateboard or specials for your character, this is a letdown because they could have been more to it but it’s not, nothing more nothing less.

Tricks come in loads, you will have to pull them off to keep your points up and to get your special meter up. There are lots of tricks to choose from in the game. Its about 100 or more tricks to from. You can choose tricks from air, grabs, grinds, and manuals, with all these tricks in the game you will be trying everyone to see what every one of them looks like and they look good.

Two-Player mode is just like career mode only with an extra partner, all the same skaters, all the same levels. You can play with any of the professional skaters or the extra skaters, with can equal up to 20 or more skaters to play with. The disappointment about two-player is you can not use any focus or Nail the Trick which is a huge let down, since that makes up about half the game. Four two-player modes, Trick Attack, Graffiti, Horse, and free skate, are on an okay basis but they get boring after the first three rounds.

Graphics are on an acceptable level with the environments looking stuck inside the background. Clothing on the created characters are bad and the created character looks just as bad, faces of the created characters looks like a Playstation One game. Faces are square with nearly no face expressions. On the other hand, the developers seemed to make the pro skaters as good as they can because they look beautiful, every aspect of the skater. The cinematics are looking like a next-generation title, with the tricks and skater shown up close.

Sound in the game is average; the voice acting is passable but not good. When grinding, it has different sounds depending on what you grind on. The soundtrack may not be likable for some, it various from rock to hip-hop. The slow motion noise is crisp to perfections as you feel like everything slows down around you.

Overall this game may be fun to diehard Tony Hawk fans, but for others it may seem on the boring side. Tony Hawk is a rent first, buy later type of deal.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

December 9, 2006 by  
Filed under PC, Reviews

Activision does yet another Marvel license RPG game, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, this time around you do not own the whole X-men cast, but several other Marvel characters. Marvel Ultimate Alliance has over 20 playable characters and over 100 Marvel cameos.

This time around, Dr. Doom has created a new Masters of Evil in order to steal Odin’s power. Soon after they launch an attack on a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, and Wolverine respond and proceed to eliminate the evil forces. Our heroes travel to different locations such as an underwater city, Iron Man’s lab and Dr. Strange’s mansion to foil Doom’s plan and save the world.

The gameplay is a lot like X-MEN Legends, but with a few twists. This game focuses more on creating your own team and building them to become the most efficient and best for every situation. You also get a few puzzles that you will have to solve, but they will require no brain power at all. Combat is simple and fun, with a few combos to choose from, pop-up, trip, and stun combos can be powerful in certain situations. Co-op is quite fun, you can have up to 4 players. In co-op mode players will have to fight for the most kills in order to get the most kills in order to get the most XP at the end of the level. Now they can play any level except just playing danger rooms or single player progress like X-Men legends II .There is some RPG elements such as leveling up, points, and equipment, but this game is mostly a brawler. If you do beat the game, which should take about 12 to 18 hours depending if you do the side quests and extra missions, You can go back and play it again and try to collect comic books to unlock custom missions for your heroes. You can also choose different paths which can alter your ending. If you are bored of playing by yourself, join a friend, online will keep you going for hours.

The character models are decent and you will be able to tell them apart but they do look a little blocky, Of course, if you have a high end PC, characters look fantastic and very polished. The environment is beautiful, interactive and destructible. The costumes look like they could have been a bit better, looks like they’re stuck to the characters rather than being worn. That’s the only flaw with the costumes but they do look how they should.

Sound is pretty decent and it captures the comic book feel. The punches and kicks sound painful. The voice acting needs improvement but it is passable. The explosions sound destructive and dangerous but not realistic, so do not expect top-notch explosions or punches.

If you haven’t played any of the X-Men Legends games yet, you’ll like this game. If you’re a fan of the X-Men Legends series, this is a must buy!

Barnyard

August 15, 2006 by  
Filed under General, Reviews

THQ’s Barnyard you play as a cow which is not the one from the movie. You can explore this game open ended; this game is Grand Theft Auto kid style with cute farm animals such as cows, chickens, and ducks. You play as a teenage cow trying to make a good impression by helping anyway he can. There are over a dozen mini-games, which none are challenging to anybody. You will see all the characters from the movie, they also has the real actors providing their voices unlike most games.

The gameplay is like Grand Theft Auto when you got to take missions to gain some impressions on your fellow farm animals. You can either play as a male cow or female cow. You will have missions from mini-games to point A to point B type missions. By wandering around talking to other farm animals you can play mini-games like gopher golf, squirting raccoons and coyotes with your udders, yes udders, or dance behind the mailman. These mini-games aren’t challenging but they do have some uniqueness and are very amusing. Back to missions, during missions, once completed, or by free roaming you can earn “gopher bucks” which you will be able to use on gopher hill to buy items. You will be able to do anything a human can do, like climb ladders or even ride bikes and do tricks while riding it, there is no reward for doing tricks but it gives you something to do. You can buy upgrades for your bike or food items from gopher hill also. If wandering around, you will see some life in the characters, such as some walking around and talking to each other. If you look far into the sky you can see some clouds moving and items pop out from afar, such as trees that comes in from the background.

The graphics are not nearly anywhere a PS2 can handle. The characters animations are wacky and crazy just like the movie but they can also be a little choppy. The setting of the game is great because it takes place in the farm, same as the movie, but the textures are flat but still fits into the game. The animals that were in the movies look just like them, but they really look like animals so you can’t really tell a difference. Overall on the graphics, it’s average but it is passable.

Sound is pretty good for a game like this; the music fits the sort of western farm theme. The only problem is that the music you hear gets repetitive and old fast. Aside from the music the sound around you is not bad, it’s actually good. You will here some chatting between other characters, birds chirping, or anything in a farm. The voice acting is done well, with all the actors from the movie, but it’s not much of it.

Overall this is a descent game, and can be fun for kids or family who seen the movies, but the lack of presentation and graphics makes this game a rent first, it’s sad the mini-games you can’t play with a buddy because it’s a one player game.

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