It’s been four years since Eden Games unfurled their majestic open, online world to race in. Despite its shortcomings, Test Drive Unlimited was an immense success and was one of the few open world racing MMOs that actually did things correct. In this second iteration, high on their ‘cars, customization and chicks’ formula, Eden Games has once again open up the tracks in a far more polished and engaging game, though it does come with its loose ends.
The game begins with an awesome party at the rooftop of a building where you get to choose your character. The choices you make here aren’t going to affect your career in any way (at least not significantly).The career proceeds really well and the best part is you can cover it at your own pace. Once you pick you character you’re all set and the first car you get to drive is a Ferrari. You are thrown right away into the open world and you are set free to explore, until you hear a knocking and wake up only to realize that you’re nothing but a chauffeur. The lady who wakes you up is your boss’s daughter and she offers you your dream (a shot at a real race!), all she requires is for you to complete a challenge i.e. to drop her off at the designated location within the time limit. If the task is completed successfully you are selected as the replacement for the driver who fell ill. The remaining follows the usual trend, you have to work to get to the spotlight and race even harder to remain there. The vehicles are fitted with F.R.I.M which is used to keep track of you and your vehicle’s “heroics”.
Let’s get to the most important aspects of a racing game, the three C’s:
Cars, Customization and Controls… The trailers had definitely established that the vehicles accessible in this game are going to be really classy and top of the class. I also learnt that irrespective of how good you are at racing, the vehicle you own will have a huge influence on your gameplay and hence your global level. Once you’ve picked a car, you are asked for an assistance level – full, sport or hardcore. Full assistance is for the newbie, sports for those who enjoy a little thrill and hardcore for the regular gamers.
The customization basically involves both your performance and visual mods. The visual customization has a lot of options from paints jobs to some really beautiful body accessories. It’s all up to you and your creativity to sort this one out. The performance mods are very appropriate but surely did expect a little more from the developers. The character customization isn’t all that great either.
The controls are better than the previous game but still a pain to get used to even in the full assistance mode. The brakes take an eon to start working at full speed and sensitivity to change in directions isn’t very impressive. These flaws are well covered up by the amazing speed and driving experience in the open world, however.
Driven by habit, when I opened the game I ended up reading the manual. It briefed me on the story. The evil Morcubus and his company MorcuCorp are here to cause total chaos and destruction. The Sims are having lots of trouble as MorcuCorp have captured the skies and have made it nearly impossible to trade or even travel freely. If anyone opposes they would end up facing Morcubus’s “MorcuCorp Security Squad” (a.k.a Chaos Pirates).
You wake up on a beach, lost and confused and to add insult to injury you’ve lost your memory as well. The ones who save you help you regain health and as expected you join their battle against Morcubus as a part of Sky Force along with Justice, Derek, Violet and others.
So, you are an amnesic pilot who is confused and has gotten into a battle which keeps getting worse with every passing minute. The only plus point is that you are an ace pilot which is depicted by the first reactions of all the members on the team.
Once the game begins you have to customize your sim and planes which isn’t a very difficult task. There are also some presets for the Sims like Sheppard from Mass Effect 2, Isaac from Dead Space etc. You can have many planes in your hand at a time which means you can customize planes for each kind of battle or terrain.
There are mainly two types of battles, race and dogfight. The latter is split into two – team dogfight and dogfight. Race as it says is basically racing through various check point and taking down your opponents while doing so using the power ups which you collect. Dogfight just focuses on taking down your opponent maximum number of times within the time limit again by using power ups and your weapons.
Speaking of power ups, there are 11 types such as shield, tornado, radar jammer, f-beam etc. Each different from one another. The tricky part is that the power ups which are spread through out the map are kept in spots which require some serious flying action.
The gameplay is kind of glitchy but is made up for by the attractive and creative visuals. The controls are really frustrating and require a real fast reaction time which reduces the essence of gameplay. The sounds are very appropriate but as usual I am bugged by the language they speak in the background.
Let’s get to the aspect of multiplayer; you can either play local or online. Local multiplayer was fun and exhilarating. I couldn’t enjoy online multiplayer as there were no servers available.
Overall the game is very nice and just about playable. The effort was very nice considering that this is the first of the My Sims series to get released on consoles besides the Nintendo. They can still make it better especially the flying aspect of the game.
Front Mission (aka Furonto Misshon) is a tactical-RPG which first released in the year 1995. Front Mission Evolved is set in the year 2171,fifty years after Front Mission 5. I should warn you first hand that, unless you are a hardcore mech-head or a fan of the original series, this is not the game you should look forward to, or actually, even otherwise.
Now, the game as I said is set in 2171 where they have “orbital elevators” which allow military bases in space. The gameplay environment isn’t very “advanced” and most of the emphasis is on the technological advancements i.e Wanzers ( the huge mech also known as wanderpanzer). As the story begins you are thrown into the shoes of Dylan Ramsey who along with the wanzers is out to uncover a truth.
The game supports two modes of gameplay – story mode and online multiplayer mode. The story mode has no story or atleast I didn’t find any and the online versus mode I couldn’t stop playing. The online mode is far more interesting than the story mode because of the variety it offers. There are four options: deathmatch, team deathmatch, supremacy and domination. The story mode on the other hand has a very sober and repetitive gameplay with only five, very small ‘acts’ or levels. Its almost like the game begins and ends immediately. Throughout the game combat is massively wanzer-based and this brings me to the next con.
The wanzers are provided with only two weapons and no method to cover themselves besides hiding behind stuff. On the bright side the health of the wanzers regenerates over time and you possess this awesome jetpack or booster like thing which is real fun to use. You can move around collecting cash for the customization. The customization of the wanzers is also very interesting and realistic. Greater the weight of the add-on greater the difficulty in movement. Also, if the customization (which is allowed before every level) is just right the level can be aced. The selection of add-ons can be expanded and the some levels which have some special requirements should be removed. For example imagine going in to battle with only a single weapon just because the level needs you to hover/slide over water.
Now lets get to the most depressing portion…control. The control requires a lot of practice and the mechs may feel quite unresponsive at times. If its not bad enough that gamers have to move around in a huge mech the controls often leave them completely open and vulnerable to attacks by AI.
The graphics are better than expected, the cut-sequences and the gameplay graphics are impressive. This can be noticed during gameplay using sniper which according to me is the most fun of all weapons.
Another thing is the irritating blue info boxes through the game which constantly pop-up, tackling them by itself needs some use of strategy.
The repetitive gameplay take out the essence of the game and the overall experience of the game dampens over time. The only successful aspect of the game is the multiplayer. All in all the game gives us gamers only a few moments of complete enjoyment but besides that it doesn’t stand a chance in comparison to present day RPG’s.
Bakugan: Defenders of the Core is one of those games where the ridiculousness of it all is only understandable if you are a die hard fan of series, or else you will be as lost as a child in an adult bar (under six of years age that is). For those who don’t know anything here is a little intro to the story (if you’re a loyal fan then you can skip this portion): Bakugan are creatures from another world called vestroia which turn into small balls when they enter our world through a portal. The Bakugan turn into their original selves when they are put into battle. Those who use these Bakugan are called “Brawlers”.
The story changes from game to game as they are based on different seasons. In this one you are teleported to an alternate reality which is totally a mystery to you. There are 2 groups in this game, Bakugan battle Brawlers and The Vexos. The brawlers are trying to protect the earth’s core and the Vexos are trying to destroy it. The Vexos have managed to destroy the ability to brawl and since you are from another world you still retain the ability to brawl (which still doesn’t make any sense). Now for some really weird reason your character can see the spirit of earth, Abyss who requests you to save her.
As the game begins you are required to create and customize your character which doesn’t support many options (you can’t even select if you want to play as male or female!!). Unlike the previous titles, the game is no longer the standard board game. Now the Bakugan are back to their world and you are in control of them in their real form. The game is very basic and a presented in a complete unsynchronized manner. All you have to do is go from one point to another and complete a series of really boring tasks (either protect a landmark or get into a brawl etc).The worst part being that it’s the same every level.
The graphics of this game aren’t very impressive, but it is very good keeping in mind that the game is based on an anime. The is a lot of time wasted on cutscenes throughout the game although they form a very keen portion of the game if you even have a hope to understand the storyline.
The sound department doesn’t perform any better. The background music is really annoying and I can’t comment much on the voice acting as the characters talk very little throughout the game. From the time invested in the game I can say that the voice acting isn’t all that bad but it isn’t very great either.
The controls are very basic and don’t get much time to get used to. Press X and you can jump/fly and hit R2 while you’re at it and you have the ability to dash forward. L2 helps to block and so on. Blocking an attack requires a perfect timing to break the combo which follows that is almost impossible to get.
The gameplay is really frustrating and the attacks don’t seem to do much damage (which means you will be spending more time on surpassing each level). If that wasn’t enough, the targeting system begins to lag (even on the PS3) if you happen to take on more than 2 opponents at a time. Another big mistake is the fixed camera which limits the exploration around the map (Surprisingly the details on the map are really nice) and also gives your opponents a chance to attack you from behind which remains unprotected at all times. The scoring system is fairly simple and most of the time you end up getting either an “A” or “B”. If you’re really good you get an “S” which isn’t the most difficult of things. The AI of the game is really pathetic and doesn’t respond very fast (except for the bosses). The minions are very well placed and tend to attack in a group which generally makes getting past them a little challenging. But most of the time the AI ends up battling with something in the surrounding and you can easily defeat them.
The multiplayer mode (aka Battle Arena) supports 3 game types: Duel (one-on-one battle), Free for All (Two to four going head-to-head) and Destruction Battle (Just a split screen version of story mode).
Overall the game is a total waste of time for anyone who isn’t a total fan of the series or someone who is ready to overlook the nest of flaws in the game.
Smackdown Vs raw 2010 was undoubtedly a great game, and so the level of expectation for the next iteration was to at least match if not exceed. The guys at THQ always have something to make the WWE franchise more lovable and addictive every time they build upon the previous Smackdown vs Raw games to give us a new one. If you are a loyal WWE fan like me, you would be to happy know that THQ hasn’t let us down, at least not completely. I was really excited when I got this game and even more as the game began. Something which caught my attention almost instantly after the game began is that instead of the standard game menu, we have a ring in which John Cena (a personal favorite) and Randy Orton are waiting to fight, and you can have a practice session. Whenever you feel like getting into the game all you have to do is press start and the menu pops up.
As usual we have the exhibition modes which now fall under the WWE Universe. The interesting part is that the game constantly keeps track of your record and interferes by putting in some random cutscenes as per your progress. So this basically means that the wrestler (superstar or created) needs to build up his/her reputation to have a shot at winning any of the titles i.e. either by winning matches or becoming the number one contender. Now this where the fun part in the WWE Universe begins, as you start playing matches the game automatically sets them up for you and as the you progress the rankings keep changing and so do the number of your friends and rivals. The only drawback is that your rivals may strike out at you at any point of time such as backstage or in your locker room thereby gifting you a seriously large disadvantage even before the match has begun. The cool part is the WWE universe is never-ending; it is always full of matches right one after another.
What didn’t fit in well with all this freedom is Road To WrestleMania, there are not many changes besides the fact that you can move you character around backstage, talk to other wrestlers and WWE staff or even eavesdrop on other conversations . There is always a need to talk to other people before you can proceed to a match. But that’s not all; you are also pushed into backstage brawls which aren’t of much significance.
As usual you have only a handful of superstars to choose from (five to be exact), which is a real put-off as we don’t get to enjoy playing all the way to WrestleMania with other superstars. Although the storyline is excellent and is always changing as you move ahead, most of the time you will find yourself getting bored of the backstage brawls as these are very mundane and repetitive.
As you progress on the Road to WrestleMania you collect Superstar Points which can be used to work on the skills of your superstar. Better the skills the higher are the chances of winning the matches that follow. The only flaw in this system of leveling up is that you would have to fight almost every one you see to just reach anywhere near the max levels. Even after this it all comes down to how you control your superstar whether it is in-ring or outside. Sure this mode lacks a few things, but keeping in mind all the awesome unlockables and the exhilarating story and scenarios… Road to WrestleMania has had the upgrade which it was deprived for all these years.
The new physics engine (Havoc) hasn’t made much of a difference. The characters are just about “okay” and the softness gives the game a polished look. The destruction of the tables, ladders or other artifacts used in-ring hasn’t changed much. But the worst of all is the horrible lip-syncing which doesn’t complement the fantastic audio in any way whatsoever. To look on the positive side, now you can do a hell lot more with the artifacts than before, be it stacking up ladders in various formations or throw people head-first onto tables at any random angle.