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Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Posted by videogames On October - 1 - 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC, PS3, XBox 360)
Eidos, 2009

By Brandon Grant

Batman: Arkham Asylum was released about a month ago at the amazing limited price of $38.83 in Canada.  I don’t know exactly why it was priced so low, there was a rumour about an early Best Buy flyer with a pricing error and Walmart catching on to price match it by advertising it on Xbox Live. For whatever reason it was I think anyone who bought this game on Tuesday came out on the winning side of this deal and let me tell you why.

Obviously, this is not the first Batman game ever, but it might surprise you that it’s also not the first Batman game to include the voices from the amazing animated series from the 90s. I will go out on a big fat sturdy limb and say that this is the best Batman game ever.  The team that made this game has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Batman universe and it is the perfect game to immerse yourself in that universe.  The combat is deliciously satisfying, the bat gadgets are cool, the riddles are fun, and the story is great.  Anything more is just going to be gushing but really I can’t think of a reason to dislike this game. However, you will hate this game if you own the last generation gaming system and you won’t ever be able to play this game. But really it isn’t the game that you hate, that’s your defense mechanism to avoid thinking of how little money you have.  If that is you I’ve just made you hate this game even more but maybe it will encourage you to scrape 200 bucks together and join all us happy folk in the modern gaming world. Read the rest of this entry »

Reviewed: LEGO Batman: The Video Game

Posted by videogames On October - 7 - 2008

LEGO Batman: The Video Game
Developed by Traveller’s Tales
Published by Warner Bros. Interactive

By Santiago Melo

Since 2005’s appearance of the first LEGO Star Wars game – one of the best games in the Star Wars series – Traveller’s Tales (TT) has graced us with LEGO in every conceivable platform. Since then, players have been collecting studs, obtaining canisters, and unlocking secret characters (LEGO Star War’s Darth Maul rocked my face off) for the sheer LEGO pleasure they bring. This year saw the release of LEGO Indiana Jones: though not the best TT LEGO game, it was still better than Indiana Jones 4, with LEGO Indy cracking that whip against Nazis in brown uniforms (with none of the typical Nazi icons), and breaking them into little LEGO pieces. Now with LEGO Batman you will find a LEGO Alfred (don’t you ever forget about the Butler), LEGO Arkham Asylum, LEGO goons, and the classic TT humor that makes every one of their games so enjoyable.

This review is based on the Nintendo DS version, but you can expect the gameplay to be similar across all platforms, with the graphics and sound being the main update to the game. The storyline is fleshed out from the mythology of the Batman movies, cartoons, comics, toylines, and games. LEGO Batman has a robust cast of characters, fanboy details aplenty, and one of the best uses of an electric buzzer in video games. The number of playable characters is vast, ranging from Clayface to Catwoman (sadly or luckily, not the Halle Barry version) to Harvey Dent, with Batman and Robin using different costumes in accordance with the occasion.

The game is divided into two storylines: One where you do hero missions and get to play as Batman and Robin, and another where you play the same mission from the villains’ perspective. For example, in the first mission as Batman, you have to stop Clayface from stealing a very important key. Then you get your chance to break in and steal the key as The Riddler, Two-Face, and Clayface. Instead of saving the day, it is nice to experience the other side of Two-Face’s coin and thwart Batman.

Like previous LEGO games, freeplay time comes once you finish the main two story lines. In freeplay, you can unlock the majority of the collectibles and secrets you didn’t get while completing the storyline. All in all, don’t expect to finish this game in one or two sittings.

While LEGO Batman doesn’t really advance the established TT formula, players who have already gone through previous TT games will enjoy it, with new players quickly grasping the basic mechanics. But this lack of advancement means that camera issues leading to annoying falls haven’t been solved, texture and polygon clipping problems remain, and some repetitiveness in the mission structure persists. Still, despite its flaws, (which we can only hope will be addressed in future LEGO games) it feels like a labour of love.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Reviewed

Posted by videogames On September - 30 - 2008

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Developed by Krome Studios
Published by Lucasarts

By James Wisteard

It is a truth universally acknowledged that ever since Nintendo introduced the motion-based console to the Wii, one of the growing feelings at the back of peoples’ minds has been that it would be pretty damn cool system to play a Star Wars game on. Now, after two years, we finally have the chance to wave around our dream (mock-)lightsabers and slice everything that isn’t made of air into two. Was it worth the wait? Yes, actually, it was.

First of all, let’s go over the controls. I hesitate to use the word “control” because I think “waggle fest” might be slightly more appropriate; this game easily takes the reward for being the Wii’s most motion-intensive game yet. To swing your lightsaber up, down, left or right, you swing the Wii-mote in the corresponding direction. To use a force push, you thrust the nunchuck toward the screen. To block incoming blaster shots, you hold the Wii-mote up and sideways. In boss battle “quick time” events, you tilt the Wii-mote or nunchuck at indicated angles. Picture yourself in a room with a dozen storm troopers, and you’d better make sure you have a clear area around you. Maybe attach some wrist weights too — you’d have a work out that Wii-fit will never match.

Despite sometimes feeling hectic, your character is always able to do what you want him to, which is rather impressive. I very rarely missed a jump, found myself swinging at nothing (at least in terms of my character on screen), or messing up one of the quick time events. As in most 3-D platform games, the occasional camera issue pops up, but in this game it is easily fixed by pressing down on the D-pad.

The game begins to feel highly repetitive towards the end; no enemies call for specific strategies or powers — you just run up and slice at everything. Shoot lightening here. Force push there. You’ll quickly fall into a pattern that you’ll stick with for the rest of the game, even in boss fights. This is the game’s greatest fault. Although you can upgrade your lightsaber and force powers and discover new combos on your journey, nothing really feels fresh after the first few levels.

Besides this, the graphics are definitely below expectations. I know the Wii doesn’t have the power of its next gen competitors, but the images featured here on The Force Unleashed are unfortunately identical with the PS2 version of the game. Even from that lowered standard, the graphics are often sub-par; not embarrassing, just disappointing. The Wii is easily capable of much more than this, but for some reason only Nintendo knows how to pull off good-looking games right now.

On the other hand, the music and sound effects here are just as incredible as on any other Lucasarts project. The soundtrack is full of swelling strings and familiar songs, while the sounds are pulled directly from the movies. Even the little speaker on the Wii-mote hums as you move it around, which was a great touch.

For the majority of the game, you play as Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice, code-named ”Star Killer”. Vader starts you off on errands around the galaxy to various planets, locations, and temples, so you can execute renegade Jedis and bring back their lightsaber hilt as proof of their death. The story quickly becomes more complicated through double- and triple-crosses, lies and deception, failure and redemption. Later on in the game, you come to realize that your actions have had a very direct impact on the formation of the Rebel Alliance. It’s worth playing The Force Unleashed just to watch this unexplored chapter come together from such a unique viewpoint.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed definitely has its fair share of weakness and missed potential, but I still highly recommend it for anyone interested in anything to do with the Star Wars cannon. For anyone else, the journey may only be worth the length of rental.

Rock Band – Track Pack Volume 1 (for the Wii)

Posted by videogames On September - 2 - 2008

Rock Band – Track Pack Volume 1
Nintendo WII
Harmonix, Electronic Arts, MTV Games
Release date: Out now

By Curtis Amisich

Last year Harmonix’s Rock Band amazed Xbox and Playstation owners with its multiplayer, replay factor, and yes, even its karaoke. This year, Wii owners finally got their chance to have the requisite rock band party.

Rock Band for the Wii was basically a carbon copy of the PS2 version but with a few extras. One of the extras is “5 exclusive Wii tracks.” Since Rock Band’s Wii release those “Wii exclusives” have shown up as downloadable content for the Xbox 360. False advertising it might have been, but this writer thinks it’s a good thing that Xbox owners can jam along with Sting and rest of The Police to “Roxanne.”

The Wii does not have a large hard disk, however, so downloadable content is extremely limited. As such, Harmonix has just released the first volume of its Track Pack. Included is a disk, which can only be played as an entirely separate game from the original Rock Band, which makes it a real pain in the ass if you feel so inclined to play songs from both versions. My second gripe with the game was the price: $29.99 at EBGames for only 20 songs seemed way overpriced. However, once I compared the price to that of a 24 case of Labatt and the hours of enjoyment my three friends and I would get out of it, it became much more reasonable. The “band tour” took only a couple of hours to get through (it is the exact same format as in the original game, just shorter), but it was some of the most memorable and memory-jogging times I have had playing one of these musically based games. The song list was excellent for what, at first glance, seemed be a random selection. The song selection is great if you, like me, were a child of the late ’80s and ’90s. The list is a veritable buffet of old school rock tunes, familiar grunge, and some new school emo that I would have never otherwise been exposed to.

Perhaps more Track Packs directed at specific audiences would be appropriate in the future and would be able to please the hardcore audiophiles who enjoy the game, but for the average Rock Band groupie Track Pack Volume 1’s smorgasbord hits all the right spots.

Metal Gear Solid 4 reviewed

Posted by videogames On July - 15 - 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Developed by Kojima Productions
Published by Konami

By Miles Baker

You can’t tell right now, but the theme to Metal Gear Solid is playing in my head and I’m tearing up.

It’s so fucking beautiful.

If you’ve been around the site long enough, you’ll know that I love MGS series. I like everything about it: I like the cinematic quality of the games, I like the ridiculous character names, I love the postmodern conspiracy/philosophy theories and I love sneaking. This game has everything I love about the series and then turns it to MEGA ULTRA METAL GEAR.

If you hate the series, you will find plenty to hate on. If you love it, like I do, it will make you happier than anything ever could. If you’re in the middle, or are one of those who have a Playstation 3 and have never played a Metal Gear Solid game, and are wondering if this game is worth buying for the hype? It is.

Kinda.

First of all, I think MGS4 is probably the best-looking console title, maybe even videogame, ever. There are short periods of time while watching this game where you will forget that you are watching computer-generated people. The skin textures, the animations, the weight of the people — every detail is fanatically rendered and makes you wonder how much better graphics can get. Same goes for the environments; it’s a game that will make you happy that you own a PS3.

Second, the gameplay is fun and very exciting, for the most part. Apart from a low-key mission where you follow a secret agent back to his base, each level is really intense with Snake essentially trying to sneak through active war zones. Bullets fly overhead while soldiers fall dead to the ground, and grenades go off next to you. All the while, you try to go unnoticed by either side. Like all the other games in the series, you are rewarded for sneaking through levels, rather than blasting your way through them. Though, to be fair, there are a lot of new gameplay mechanics in MGS4 that make it a lot easier to run through the zones, by blasting your enemies, rather then sneaking around them.

However, there isn’t a lot of gameplay. Metal Gear is a game you literally watch for as much time as you play. My calculations took me to 9.5 hours of gameplay, including continues, and 8 hours of watching cinematics. The story is convoluted and talks more about nano-machines than do advanced courses in nano-technology. Exposition flows thicker than the blood of your enemies. And the hero has a bit of a mullet. At least his mustache is a non-ironic one though.

This game is a masterpiece. Not everyone is going to like it, but there it is — it’s one of the most ambitious, pretty, political, and postmodern action games you’ll ever play/watch. It’s a carefully crafted and interesting game that I will replay a few times.

Controversy Strikes Back and Boosts Sales

Posted by videogames On May - 6 - 2008

By Diana Poulsen

It’s finally the beginning of the summer blockbuster gaming season and thank Rockstar, because I was getting bored. Summer sprinted out of the gate with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV and as per usual some controversy has already started. M.A.D.D (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) would like to see GTA’s rating boosted from rated M (Mature age 17) to A/O (Adults Only 18+) because the player can drive intoxicated. I find the difference between rated M and A/O fairly meaningless because the ages of 17 and 18 are not terribly different. When I was 17 I was aware that games were fantasies, had seen sex in movies ,and knew that drunk driving was stupid and dangerous. Honestly, if you’ve made it to 17 without learning that drunk driving is dangerous and potentially fatal for you, your friends and innocent bystanders, you should get your head checked. You’re either chronically stupid or a sociopath. On top of that, M.A.D.D has had the most enormous ad campaign against drunk driving for as long as I can remember, so how could anyone tv-literate enough to see GTA’s ad not be informed? Though, as the proverb goes, you can take a horse to water, but it doesn’t mean it will drink.

No pun intended.

Of course, technically, the rating is decided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and not software company and therefore all protests about rating should be directed at the ESRB.

Luckily for Rockstar controversy is free publicity and Rockstar is the master of free publicity. This new controversy is only quiet rumblings in comparison to what Rockstar has created in the past. When someone finds Hot Coffee 2.0, that’s when the real controversy can start. Personally, I say hurrah for consensual sex simulators – finally us socially awkward folks can get laid in glorious HD.

There probably isn’t a Hot Coffee 2.0, but at least I can start the rumour mill.

So far, GTA IV is the game that Sony needed, because PS3 sales finally increased in time for the release. The PS3 will be boosted again for the release of the highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid IV. It will be available to purchase bundled with a PS3 or on its own.

However, the PS3 is still experiencing trouble with several glitches already reported in GTA IV. Be prepared for stalling frame rates and having to turn off your online connection. All the experienced PS3 and PC users have become accustomed to downloading patches, so it’s nothing new for them. Gamers will just have to cross their fingers that the patch comes out shortly. The Xbox 360 version of GTA IV has had no problems so far, and has overtaken Halo 3 and Call of Duty for the top spot on Xbox live, and gamers have already unlocked over 2 million achievements.

It looks like it could shape up to be a satisfyingly indoor summer for gamers. Maybe, it will be a gaming summer thrilling enough to make me stop playing World of Warcraft.

Now here’s a thought, what about GTA on the Wii?

Monster Hunter Freedom 2 Reviewed

Posted by videogames On April - 8 - 2008

Monster Hunter Freedom 2Monsters!

Capcom 2007
PSP

By Diana Poulsen

One of my friends asked me to review Monster Hunter Freedom 2 because Monster Hunter games typically receive bad reviews from critics. Of course I will still be objective, but I couldn’t help but wonder why these games get such bad reviews.

You play as a monster hunter who has woken up in a village after being attacked by giant dragon-like creature that almost devoured you like stuffin’ at a turkey dinner. The whole premise of the game is to kill monsters: this is not an RPG but a fighting game. Instead of gaining levels, you will learn how to create better weapons, armour, and items to help you fight. There’s no room for power levelling to make yourself more powerful than the monster; you actually have to learn how to play strategically to annihilate your target. Observation is key, you will need to watch the beast to figure out when it is going to attack and when it is open for attack. It can be a bit of work, but once you kill the monster you are after it feels really good. Defeating the boss monsters can feel as good as taking down one of the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus, and that’s a gaming high that is hard to come by.

When I began to play, I didn’t understand what was so bad about the game. In fact, I was really impressed by the incredible control that MH gives the player. There is a complex character creation interface so you can really make your character to suite your taste. There are a variety of faces, hair styles, and hair colour. There are at least 30 different voice selections for both the male and female characters, but they sound very similar because they are really just grunts and groans. You can create armour, weapons, and items by mixing materials. You can use bombs and traps and all of them are created by mixing items you have gathered. All of the items created will help you become a better fighter. From the beginning you have all nine possible weapons and each has its specific uses. You will need to learn all of the weapons because some jobs require the quick, low-damage duel swords, other jobs require the slow, high-damage great sword, and another will require a bow. Each weapon has its own special attack and each will require some learning to use. I recommend the sword and shield when you start because it is the easiest and from there I suggest learning the great sword.

Of course this game takes some figuring out and a fair bit of reading to get going. Luckily there are good tutorials and the book that comes with the game describes just about everything. Yes, it can be a pain in the ass and that’s the part that reviewers don’t like; yes, it has a learning curve, and yes, it requires some effort to get into.

THe good news is that you can play with a friend. Teaming up with a friend makes questing a lot easier. There is WLAN play and there is apparently a hack for full online play. You also earn special treasures by teaming up with other people.

Despite all the reading and the sort of high learning curve, I really enjoyed MHF2. Once I learned how to fight, the game transformed from a button masher into one where I had to actually think about how I was going to hunt my monsters.

Review of God of War: Chains of Olympus

Posted by videogames On March - 11 - 2008

Kratos’s Ripped BehindGod of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)

Developed by Ready at Dawn Studios
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment of America

By Miles Baker

At one week from date released to date published God of War: Chains of Olympus (from here on out called COO) is the fastest we’ve ever reviewed a game. There is one reason for that: because the game only takes about seven hours to play from beginning to end and I had a free Saturday.

While the short run time is a problem, it’s pretty much the only problem with this game (except for some sex and gender issues, which are debatable, that I will not get into in this review). I do think the writers could have dragged out the plot of this game a little more, giving Kratos more to do and more mythological creatures to kill, but what is there is entertaining. Last week, I said I didn’t play God of War for the story – I was wrong. I forgot how much fun it is to watch Kratos be a jerk to everyone: god, demi-god, demon, titan, helpless victim. The mythological world is wonderfully sensational and very inspired. The story itself is unnecessary in the greater plot of God of War, but COO fills in a gap mentioned in God of War 2 about how Kratos left Atlas to hold the world for all eternity. Overall, it’s just fun to watch a badass be a badass.

But the really important thing about any game is how it plays, and COO is impressively deep, yet uncomplicated. The basic control of Kratos isn’t super complex (hit, hit harder, grab, jump, block), but when it gets a little more complicated (cast magic, roll, switch weapons) the game keeps it very playable. Pretty much every button is used in a couple different ways, but each element is introduced slowly and almost never does Kratos do something you don’t want him to do.Great Zeus! Look at those graphics!

Then there are the graphics and holy crap, this thing looks like a PS2 game. It doesn’t look like the best PS2 game out there, but it has detailed characters and environments with little to no slowdown or load times. The animation is smooth and so wonderfully violent.

Other game standouts include the wonderful and terrifying design for Charon, the ferryman for Hades, and his fantastic voice actor; the needlessly topless Eos; a very exciting final boss battle; and everyone calling Kratos “The Ghost of Sparta” – for some reason that just tickles me.

So, if you own a PSP, this game is a no-brainer buy. If you don’t own a PSP, I wouldn’t buy it just for this game – I’d say buy it for this and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and then I’d tell you, “Dude, like, only two more weeks until that Final Fantasy 7 game is out.”

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology: The Review

Posted by videogames On January - 29 - 2008

Tales of the World: Radiant MythologyPublished by Namco
Developed by Alfa System

By Diana Poulsen

I have been a big fan of the Tales series since I played Tales of Symphonia. Since then I have been playing any Tales game I can get my hands on and have been generally pleased. So when Tales of the World was released, I was excited to hear about a game that included so many of the characters from previous Tales games, and a little worried. Could it be as cool as Kingdom Hearts? Or would it simply be a grinding quest-based game? If you said grinding quest-based game, congratulations! You win the metaphorical cupie doll.

Now, I didn’t hate this game. It’s just that as much as I like running around and doing quests (and I really do – I play World of Warcraft), I really can’t get behind gaming like that in a Tales title. It’s nice to fight alongside old friends, and it’s good distraction, but the story is not particularly interesting. There are some amusing skits but they just don’t make up for the boring and predictable storyline. The quest-based system only bores me because I expect good humour and excellent story telling from a Tales game. So essentially the game has been stripped of the story, and has only left the fighting system – which is honestly the bright side.

The awesome fighting system of the Tales series has been put into the foreground. In Tales of the World you can run around in the 3D space while fighting (introduced in Tales of the Abyss) instead of planning your fights two-dimensionally. There are the usual fighting-game style button combinations and you can program your character to fight the way you want by attaching your favourite techniques to your favourite buttons. Also, the A.I. for the other member of your party is pretty smart, and you can further customize it to your style of fighting. This means that the player has a lot of control over the way they play the game.

When you start the game you create your own character from scratch. The options are fairly limited but I was able to create something I liked and select a voice that didn’t drive me bonkers. When creating the new character you are given the option of thief, warrior, mage and priest as the initial jobs. After a brief stint of gaming, you can change jobs if you’ve gotten bored, and there are a few more unlockable jobs.

A big part of the game is completing quests, as the more you do the better your reputation, and the better the characters you will be able to recruit to help you. As I said, it’s nice to fight alongside some of your favourite Tales characters, but sadly several of them are not voiced by their original voice actor. I was so happy that Kratos Aurion (Tales of Symphonia) was still voiced by Cam Clark.

Despite Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology’s vacant personality and narrative mediocrity, the fighting is satisfying and may get you through the whole thing. If you don’t mind long, grinding quests and the gaping absence of a good story and just like to fight, then this might be the title for you.

Review — Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Posted by videogames On January - 8 - 2008

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)
Developed by Naughty Dog

By Miles Baker

All of my excitement for the idea of a new Indiana Jones movie has dissolved. Really, who wants to watch over-the-hill Harrison Ford when there’s Nathan Drake standing just over there waving his arms saying, “pick me, pick me!”

Uncharted is the PS3’s first big outing, and unlike previous PS3 games it’s actually very playable. Lair failed in every department and Heavenly Sword was just a little too thin. Uncharted follows treasure hunter Nathan Drake on his quest to uncover El Dorado. Drake is aided in his quest by his friend Sully and his reporter/potential love interest Elena. All the characters are very well acted, and Nolan North and Emily Rose do honestly fantastic jobs as Nathan and Elena. I think it’s partly because Naughty Dog had the voice actors wear motion capture suits when recording the performances. This could explain the added dimension and subtlety in the characters’ movements and voice acting.

To say that Nathan Drake is inspired by Indiana Jones would be an understatement. He practically is Indy. There are even Nazis and supernatural elements. But all the Indy clichés aren’t a problem. Just because Nathan and Indy are from the same mold doesn’t mean they are the same character. For one, Nathan is way more relatable. And while the story is just as ridiculous as Raiders of the Lost Arc, it’s also just as gripping.

Oh, yeah, I should probably talk about how it plays too, huh?

Overall it plays well. Essentially it’s Gears of War with platforming elements and the occasional vehicle sequence. Most of the game is a series of gunfights where duck and covers are the only thing that’s really going to keep you alive. The shootouts are a lot of fun, but also extremely hard at times. You’ll often find yourself just doing the same fight over and over again as you shoot wave upon wave of pirates. It gets a little tiresome at times, but because the combat is a means of furthering the story — and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next — you’ll put up with repeating the same fight over and over. And dude, it’s so worth it, that ending was super exciting.

You’re also going to want to see what’s coming next. As I said before, this is a big title for the PS3 because it begins to show you what that expensive zeppelin can do. Not only are the graphics, textures, and details amazing, but also the animations. Some times they don’t quite sink up with the environment, but Nathan always transitions between motions realistically, with no jerking.

The game is rounded out with a pretty interesting set of “making of” special features, including full scenes of the voice actors in their skin-tight motion capture outfits, looking like something out of a Cirque du Soleil production. It’s fascinating to see how they did it all. On top of all that, there’s a fair amount of re-play value if you have that “gotta catch ‘em all” attitude about weapon badges and treasure hunting — though they mostly just unlock new outfits. (Hey, who doesn’t like a new outfit?)

I’d say it’s worth at least a rental. And a purchase if you want something to show off your system to your friends.

Note: I am kidding about over-the-hill Harrison. I do want to see him rock the fedora one more time.

Review: Metroid Prime 3 Corruption (Wii)

Posted by videogames On November - 20 - 2007

Developed by Retro Studios
Published by Nintendo

By Miles Baker

After playing this game for a whole weekend I had a case of tennis elbow. I’m not left handed, and I don’t fish, so the constant casting of the Wii’s nunchuck became tiresome. It’s not that you have to do it all that often — although you really do — it’s just that the fucker doesn’t read your movements right half the time and you have to keep doing it. It’s the one big frustration of a nearly flawless game.

It should have been a homerun. It should have made me knock down old ladies in my mad dash to buy a Wii and a copy of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption — not because they’re in my way, but on the off-chance they were also going to buy it. The graphics are so pretty you forget that technically the Wii is the weakest of the next generation systems; the character design is hip and emerging; there are tons of great gameplay activities and, dude, you get to fly Samus’ spaceship! And 95 percent of the time this game is so awesome — it’s just that 5 percent you have to worry about; that 5 percent is when the Wii won’t properly read your activities, and it’s usually during a critical part of a boss fight. It happens in every Wii game I’ve played, and it’s the most frustrating thing ever. It makes me swear and say things I don’t mean about Samus Aran.

But more on the positive side: this is the most immersive game in a series of immersive games. This time around, you get to see more of the universe that Samus inhabits. Until now she’d just been this lone bounty hunter fighting against Space Pirates. You didn’t know who her employers were, and you never even saw her take a bounty. Mostly she just kills Space Pirates and saves the galaxy from Metroids. Now, there’s a lot more context, and a few more planets for Samus to sink her teeth into. The variety of locations is a welcome addition to the series, especially because it means that your spaceship is more than just a super save station. The art direction in each area is fantastic and Retro makes the most out of the Wii’s graphics engine. Though, man, this game in high def would be sweet. Hella sweet.

And when the controls work, it’s very cool. But when they don’t, well, you’ve read about the rage. It’s deep and plentiful, much like the puzzles in this game.

So, uh, buy it if you like mixed emotions.

Review: Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock (Xbox360 & PS3)

Posted by videogames On November - 6 - 2007

Published by: RedOctane
Developd by: Neversoft Entertainment

By Alexander B. Huls and Miles Baker

Alex’s Take (for the Xbox 360 version)

If the new installment is any indication, Guitar Hero is going to be around for a long time. Some were worried that the change in management might affect the game’s quality, but Neversoft has managed to create another successful game in the series and in some ways the best one yet.

Without a doubt, Guitar Hero III has the best soundtrack to date. The previous games had a handful of songs that were too far above the back that you would end up playing those and skipping others. In the third game, you almost don’t want to repeatedly play your favorite because you’d be missing out on playing songs that are equally good. QuickPlay has never been harder, because there are just too many good choices there. Of course, the best part of having a great soundtrack is that it makes the game that much more fun to play.

While the basic and most important elements of the game are all awesome, not everything works. It’s partly on account of these cursed slabs of meat I call hands; I’ve pretty much reconciled myself with the fact that I’ll always be a Medium-difficulty-level kind of guy. As Miles will say, for someone like me, who apparently just can’t move his fingers fast enough, Hard is too fast too soon, with too many buttons. Hell, I can barely make it through Metallica’s “One” on Medium, let alone the musical monstrosity that is DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and Flames.” Also, though the Battle Mode isn’t a bad idea in theory, the execution is somewhat mangled, on account of Mario-Kart-like “weapons” employed. You’re better off sticking to the usual Face-Off and Pro Face-Off modes. Finally, even though the little video cut-sequences in between set lists in career mode are welcome, it becomes annoying when its narrative plays on the idea of selling out, when Guitar Hero itself has purchasable guitars sponsored by Axe and an entire stage with Pontiac emblazed on it.

What really matters though is the quality of the soundtrack and its fun factor, and though I wish the game was more accommodating in the difficulty department, Guitar Hero III is exactly what you want — and even need — from a Guitar Hero installment.

Now, I didn’t buy the new guitar for the Xbox360 because a) I already have two guitars, and b) I’m really saving up for Rock Band, I can’t really weigh in on the new Les Paul, but that’s why we have Miles Baker, our own personal Spider-Man, ready to swoop in and save the day.

Miles’ Take (for the PS3 version)

The new wireless guitar is much like the game itself — mostly awesome with a few flaws. The size is a little bit larger than the other models, which makes it feel a little less flimsy and better in your hands. And this baby is sleek. I’ve been known to caress it in a way I should reserve for lovers. The wireless function of it is merely okay. I’m not doing a lot of moves that require me to be cord-free, but there it is — no cord. The most annoying feature is that you have to plug a USB doggle into the front of your machine to make it work. I don’t know why they didn’t use the built in Bluetooth, because then we could also have a rechargeable battery, rather than this AA nonsense.

That said, I love my baby.

As for the game — amazing songs, a ton of fun to play. I just wish the difficulty were more manageable and the learning curve less steep. Activision is assuming people can see faster these days, what with our fast-cutting music videos, but they are wrong. But I still see at the same speed I always have and still only have five four fingers and one thumb. If you’re going to introduce the fifth button, maybe have a song or two at normal speed just so we get the hang of it. But as I type this I’m confused that my fingers aren’t being associated with a colour (I can’t wait to wear a ring on my red button finger, it will be so romantic). So to ease my confusion I’m going to induce more carpal tunnel syndrome.

Miles’ Top 5 Songs, the most awesome/fun to play

1. My Name is Jonas – Weezer
2. Ruby – the Kaiser Chiefs
3. Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
4. The Metal – Tenacious D
5. Black Magic Woman – Santana

Alex’s Playlist

1. Hier Kommt Alex – Die Toten Hosen
2. When You Were Young – The Killers
3. La Grange – ZZ Top
4. Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan
5. Same Old Song and Dance – Aerosmith

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MONDO is a non-profit, weekly, Toronto-based, online magazine that focuses on arts, culture, and humour. We’re interested in art of all kinds (music, theatre, visual art, film, comics, and video games) and the pop culture that we inhabit.The copyright on all MONDO magazine content belongs to the author. If you would like to pay them for more content, please do. To contact MONDO please email us at editor@mondomagazine.net

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