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Posted:
2013-05-24

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

6.5

Ben 10 Omniverse is a new Wii-U game based on the Ben 10 television franchise. While the game is sure to satisfy die-hard fans of the tv series, newcomers may find the game content enjoyable but a bit lacking. One of the upsides of the game is the sheer amount of characters to play, and while that adds a lot of seeming diversity, the characters themselves lack a commensurate diversity of functions and abilities. The general premise of the game (and franchise as a whole) is that the main character, Ben Tennyson, has in his possession a tool which allows him to mutate into a variety of alien forms.

The aliens are all very interesting and distinct looking and the game allows you to shift into these different entities at any point during the game as they become unlocked. Even the storyline within the game radically shifts between past and future points, there isn't a lot that changes between each time shift, therefore the game comes off as that much more creatively shallow as a consequence. If the developers had added more diversity and richness to the settings contained within different time frames, it would have added a much needed sense of immersion.

There is a certain degree of creative problem solving within the game that can be quite compelling, however. When different environmental challenges present themselves, Ben must inhabit the different alien forms he has it his disposal in order to use their specific abilities to overcome an obstacle. These physics-based situational puzzles are relatively entertaining and fairly engaging, yet the simplistic difficulty seems to skew to a younger audience.

Besides the numerous environmental puzzles, combat tends to make up the meat of the game-play. As you travel from one obstacle to the next, you're bound to run into a variety of enemies that need to be dealt with. By far, the most rewarding element of the combat-based game play involves the initial experimentation you find yourself immersed within when trying to find the optimal strategy for dealing with the opposition.

After you get the hang of how to properly take down the enemies, however, the challenge begins to wane, as does the fun and engagement. An interesting quirk contained within the battles, however, involves an energy meter which you have to keep an eye on while inhabiting an alien form as Ben; if the energy meter depletes, Ben's bulky alien incarnation disappears and he is left relatively defenseless until the meter charges up again. This game mechanic makes the combat a bit more involving and requires some planning.

While the Wii-U is capable of fairly impressive graphics, Ben 10 Omniverse is somewhat lackluster. The graphics are not terrible, but they are somewhat sub-par. Additionally, the game is very linear and feels somewhat formulaic after a while. There aren't many surprises to behold. An annoying restriction of the game involves needing to have access to a television in order to activate non-TV play with the console, which is somewhat inconvenient.

Ben 10 Omniverse looks like it had a lot of potential while in development, unfortunately, the overall gameplay is somewhat hampered by a lack of depth and an abundance of repetition. While the puzzles are the main strength of the game, these elements are unfortunately the least prevalent. All in all, a fun game for lovers of the Ben 10 franchise, and a so-so diversion for others.

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Posted:
2013-05-24

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

5.2

Club Penguin Game Day Wii gives the player hours of playing time in three different modes. The Story Mode entertains the player with plenty of competition, Quick Play and a Tournament mode challenges the player to mini-games.

The player must first create his or her own penguin, choose the color for the penguin and give the penguin a cute name. In the Story Mode players have a choice of four different colors blue, green, yellow or red as a team color. The task they are presented with is to conquer the winter island. The team color must control all areas of the island. The player engages in mini-games and must come in third or higher in order to control an area. Once a mini-game is completed, the player will receive coins and some new games to play. Zones on the island will also be unlocked and the player can buy items for the penguin. Players must go through the game’s Story Mode in order to play the dozen events of Game Day.

Club Penguin Game Day has a good assortment of mini-games that will entertain the kids for hours. The limited numbers of mini-games can be played out if different ways every time, giving all players many hours of replay appreciation. The mini-games center on Fast Freeze, Sumo Smash, Sled and Slide and more. Kids and adults will find the games exciting with a lot of action. Every time a team beats a challenge, they triumph over another area of the island. The player’s goal is to take over as much of the island as possible.

The island is sectioned off into six locations. The players must play a set of four mini-games and a challenge game. Once they have conquered all the challenges and the areas are changed to the player’s team color, the player can move on to Quick Play or Tournament mode. Only the Wiimote can be used on the mini-games. The events the penguins perform are well executed. The family will have hours of fun completing each event. The cute little penguins will waggle and twist around in events like snowball rolling contests, sack races, to throwing large sacks of coffee off their heads to the finish line. What a bizarre sight it is to see, coffee being hefted off penguins head.

While the games are simple enough to learn the controls can become frustrating. The player needs to point the location in which they want to penguin to go in order for the penguin to move and then click. The penguin will then be located in the right spot. Each of the mini-games moves the penguins in a different way in order to complete the task. Some of the maneuvers will be hard for a younger child to master.

The mechanics of the penguins in the game are exceptionally well done and will wiggle and bounce their way into everyone’s heart. The team playing is fun with both friends and family and those of all ages. There is hours of enjoyment for everyone.

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Posted:
2013-05-25

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

7.6

When Nintendo and Sega first announced that Mario and Sonic would be teaming up for a title together (along with their many friends) for 2007's Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games, the title was heralded as exciting by many long time gamers because it was the first time we've ever seen Mario and Sonic together in the same title. The once fierce rivals from the 16-bit era then saw fit to fight each other in the Wii's Super Smash Bros. Brawl and then joined up again for Mario and Sonic At The Winter Games in 2009. We were able to forgive some of the flaws in the previous two Olympic outings for these two, simply because we enjoyed the novelty and feelings of nostalgia we received by seeing two of the industry's greatest icons finally together. Now that this spell has worn off however, we have to say that the game at its core doesn't really live up to what you'd expect from a Mario or even Sonic game. It's fun in bursts, but lacks the polish of a true high end Nintendo or Sega title. The city of London does shine bright though, and the backdrop it provides does add some charm that makes this game worth at least a look.

The games in this release are almost identical to the games released in the 2007 version. But getting to see Mario and Sonic jumping around on a pretty decent cartoon recreation of the London venues and the city itself is amusing at least for a little while. Big Ben and other London landmarks make an appearance. The game has added a bit of a Mario Party feel to it, you'll navigate to the different menus through a map of the city of London that looks similar to a Mario Party map. This is actually called "London Party" mode, so it's not like Nintendo is trying to hide the inspiration. Up to four characters can compete against each other, just like in Mario Party.

Beyond London Party are the game modes you've played before. Dream Events are mini-games where the characters get to recreate certain Olympic sports competitions with a cartoon twist. When you do the Long Jump, you'll also be trying to grab rings from the Sonic series as you fly through the air.

Finally, the game does bring back the actual Olympic sporting events, but just like in 2007, these feel uninspired. There are four new games for this version, horseback show jumping, soccer, badminton and canoeing. None of these are especially inspiring.

What's most ironic about Mario and Sonic at the 2012 London Games is that the best gameplay the title has to offer comes from the party mode and the Dream Events. The actual London games themselves don't really have much excitement or replay value. Still, seeing London in cartoon form and watching your favorite characters from the last two decades of video games jump across the screen does warm your heart a little.

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Posted:
2013-08-18

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

7.7

Scribblenauts Unlimited is a unique puzzle game that follows the story of Maxwell and his sister, Lily. The game takes players through different world levels where they are challenged to solve other's problems using a magical notebook. The notebook works by magically creating any object they the player writes in it.

This title is very similar to the previous Scribblenauts titles. In each, puzzles are solved with the same magical notebook. However, this title actually includes a great background story which answers a common question throughout the Scribblenauts series: Where did the magic notebook come from?

The game opens with the story of the notebook. Players learn that the notebook was actually a gift from Maxwell's parents. He, and his 41 siblings are raised with the best of intentions, however, they have become somewhat spoiled. The story continues with Maxwell and his sister Lily as they come across a poor, old man. He seems to be hungry, so Maxwell decides to play a joke on the man by conjuring a rotten apple from the magic notebook. The man confronts Maxwell for his misdeeds, says he is spoiled rotten, and punishes him. The man curses his sister, Lily, and she begins to slowly turn to stone. The only way that Maxwell can save her is by collecting starites. He can collect these starites by using his notebook for good and helping others solve their problems.

The game introduces players to a map of the world, where you can visit different areas. Each area has a theme. There is a school, restaurant, firehouse and castle, just to name a few. Each level has different characters with unique problems that Maxwell has to solve with his notebook. The player is able to interact with each character and can create different objects to help solve problems. For example, a character may need help putting out a fire. The player is then challenged to come up with an object that will help them complete this task. After writing it in the notebook, the object appears on the screen, allowing the character to interact with it. Players can write almost any kind of object to create and encourages them to be creative with their choices. The ability to add adjectives to objects adds an interesting element to puzzle solving.

The puzzles become increasingly difficult as the player goes through the world. All the while, they collect parts of the starite. Once they collect enough pieces, they are periodically able to visit Lily at the farm. Each visit shows how Lily continues to turn to stone as Maxwell works hard to break the curse.

Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U also allows players to play in a multiplayer co-op mode, so they can play with friends. There is also online interactions where players can save and share custom objects. This gives the game a lot more content and more fun for all players. As a whole, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a fun puzzle game for children and adults.

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Posted:
2013-05-24

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

8.3

Hitman HD Trilogy on the PS3 comes jam packed with Hitman 2 Silent Assassin, Hitman Contracts and Hitman Blood and Money all into one enhanced bundle. Fans of the Hitman series or gamers who never got the chance to experience the joy of the games for themselves get the opportunity to play it in Hitman HD Trilogy PS3. The game was developed by IQ Interactive and published by Square Enix Europe. This game is a single player first or third person action adventure, stealth shooter.

The first Hitman that seemed to catch the attention of the video game world was Hitman 2 Silent Assassins. This game was created by Eidos Interactive except with superior graphics for the Hitman HD Trilogy PS3 version. In Hitman 2 Silent Assassins your goal is to complete a set of objectives. The new element added to Hitman 2 is the ability to choose between different ways to complete your missions. Instead of running and gunning your way through the game you can set different traps and plan an assortment of strategies to progress through each level to complete your objectives.

Hitman Contracts is the next game in the HD collection and impresses gamers even further. This game takes off from the story of Agent 47 and has you take on the role of him again to tackle missions. The game runs off the Glacier engine and looks and feels even greater with enhanced graphics. While you play Hitman Contracts on HD it feels as if you were in a movie.

The last action adventure stealth game in the Hitman series is Hitman Contracts. This game is the first time Agent 47 gets to venture to the United States. The goal in each mission in Hitman Contracts is to ensure you kill one or more people. In this version of the Hitman games you have new abilities such as the Blood Money feature. You can climb through obstacles and there is more hand to hand combat in this game.

Remember that the graphics are improved and the sound has only gotten better in this triple pack of Hitman games. With the movie being released and many games out Hitman is one of the most well known video game franchises. Dive into the Hitman universe with Hitman HD Trilogy PS3 to see how some of the most pivotal games in the series developed. The unique play of Hitman where you do not simply run around and shoot enemies is what makes it so appealing. Codename 47 has something to prove and he is ready to accomplish any task that comes his way. The game is fun for those that love a good challenge, but not suitable for younger audiences. The Hitman games can be quite disturbing therefore it is highly recommended to take precaution when allowing young gamers to play.

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Posted:
2013-05-24

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

7.0

Games that have an engaging or interesting story are few and far between, and when Catherine was first being shown to the public, it certainly had promise in that department. The core concept that the game is built around involves you playing a man named Vincent. Vincent has been engaged in a longtime relationship with his girlfriend Katherine, and she desperately wants him to commit. In this environment, a second woman, Catherine, comes on the scene. This new woman is youthful, energetic and carefree, the exact opposite of Katherine. Before Vincent even realizes it, he is cheating on his girlfriend with this new girl, and he has to make a choice between his carefree past and a more responsible future. As he goes further and further down this road, he begins to have nightmares in which the game's actual gameplay takes place.

Of course, just telling the story through a whole bunch of cutscenes doesn't necessarily play that well in video games, and the game realizes this, at least at a basic level. While there are still an excessive amount of cutscenes and boring dialogue, at some point in the "real world" segments of Catherine, the game dumps you into a bar where you get to hang out with your friends, talk to strangers that are going through the same type of nightmares you are, and answer text messages from both of the women you are having relations with. As you engage in all these activities, there is an "alignment meter" that determines who you are being most loyal to.

You might have noticed I haven't spoken to the gameplay at all yet. That is because the gameplay is by far the worst part of this game, and for me it ruins the rest of the experience. The core gameplay takes place in these surreal nightmares that Vincent is having in which Vincent has to climb a large tower of blocks. That's right, Catherine is a puzzle game. By pushing and pulling the blocks, you create a safe path for Vincent as an enormous, demonic version of Katherine tries to kill him. The puzzles start out easy enough, but they quickly become extremely frustrating, and eventually become a roadblock that prevents you from getting back to the part of the game back at the bar that is actually interesting.

Catherine is one of the few games that I am willing to say would have been better off as a visual novel. The strongest parts of the game involve how Vincent is handling these two relationships, even if the player does not have all that much control over how the story plays out. Although I find it difficult to recommend this game, I think it is something that everyone should at least try out to see excellent storytelling, but pick it up as a rent instead of a full-fledged purchase, and if you like it go out and buy it. Just make sure that you play it on the easiest difficulty.

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Posted:
2013-05-25

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

6.5

The Nintendo Wii has come up with some great games in its short life and exercise, song and dance games have featured in disproportionately large numbers, but have nevertheless proved to be very popular, or so we have been led to believe. Most of these games are merely clones with different music and a few added extras to differentiate one from another. Exerbeat does not really have enough to make it stand out from from other games in the overcrowded fitness market. Some reviewers have claimed that ExerBeat encourages exercise for its own sake and not just as part of a competition to gain the highest score and so win some sort of competition, but there are elements of the 'game', such as party and mini games that are not absolutely necessary to a fitness regime but act as a means to make the workouts less boring. This puts it back into the category of most of the other fitness titles on the market.

So what does it offer. There are 150 simple exercises with varied themes such as martial arts and dance. There are also facilities for customizing the exercises to suit the user's current fitness rating, preferences and goals. There are the almost obligatory calorie counting and body mass index indicators. A novel idea is a measure of equivalent distance walked as indicated by on screen Mii characters which travel through locations on the globe, roughly at that equivalent distance, and give on screen information about the local scenery and customs.

So for its function as a fitness aid it does what it sets out do and presents itself quite well. It is certainly no worse or no better than all the other get fit quick software packages out there. I have no real beef about Exerbeat as a means of making exercise a little more interesting, my complaint is with the hype and marketing blurb that make it, and all of its kind, sound as if they were the greatest exercise aid since carrying suitcases of money to the bank.

If you want to buy this sort of exercise 'game' you might just as well buy this one.

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Posted:
2013-08-18

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

6.0

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D is a remake for the 3DS of a previous game for last-generation consoles (GameCube, Xbox, PS2). Despite widespread acclaim for its predecessor, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the remake for the 3DS received largely negative reviews. Accused of just being a downgraded port to the 3DS, complaints were mostly made because of lack of replay value and poor gameplay due to unclear objectives and unintelligent AI.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was, by all accounts, at the absolute top of the spy/stealth game genre. With an excellent enemy AI system, graphics and playing options, a spin-off for a next-generation console should have been something to look forward to.

Unfortunately, most players were unimpressed by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D. IGN described the game as "pretty watered-down" in their official review, and the aggregate ratings website Metacritic gave it a paltry 53/100.

The biggest complaint is the enemy AI. In other Splinter Cell titles, this was one of the defining characteristics of the series; those games were marked by a smart AI that made the game challenging and addictive. The AI in Splinter Cell 3D, unfortunately, falls short of the mark. You can sometimes leave bodies in the open without being detected, and you can occasionally be detected when it says you're hidden. It seems a step down from previous titles, despite having better technology than previously accessible.

Splinter Cell 3D's graphics aren't terrible, but they aren't very good either. It's hard to play if you're in a well-lit area, and that's due to how dark the game is overall. Usually, 3DS games are known for their brightness. A good point of the graphics system for this game is the use of the 3D feature; unlike other games that overuse it feel like their giving you a headache, Splinter Cell 3D just gives a more realistic sense of playing in third-person perspective.

The campaign in this game will last seven or eight hours, but after that you probably won't play the game again. With that in mind, it's difficult to justify the price of the game, especially when the previous title on last-generation consoles was so much better in general. Gameplay can be engaging and pretty fun, despite being marked by the faulty AI mentioned earlier.

Controls are mostly good, and will feel completely intuitive to any veteran shooter player. Getting the controls right has been hard for developers making this type of shooting game on a handheld device, so it's good to see the direction this is going in.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D isn't an absolutely terrible game, but it is a huge letdown to the potential it had. The original version of the game is much better, and despite some good points with the controls/graphical interface, Splinter Cell 3D falls drastically short of the bar set for enemy AI by earlier titles in the same series. In fact, compared to Chaos Theory, the AI is laughable. If you're a hardcore fan of the series, you should pick this up for a fun and fast play with some decent elements. If you're not, though, you shouldn't waste your money. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D simply can't compare to other titles in the series or other, last dark and disappointing, games on the 3DS.

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Posted:
2014-03-29

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

8.0

I certainly don't envy the job that Eidos Montreal was given when they were told to make a new Deus Ex game. The original Deus Ex is perhaps one of the most revered PC games of all time, but it hasn't aged particularly well. Of course, that meant that Eidos would have to make some major changes to what the game was, and we all know that gamers are not huge fans of major changes.

Thankfully, Eidos has done great job of managing to maintain the feeling of the original Deus Ex while managing to bring the gameplay into the modern day. The core gameplay allows you two basic ways to go about missions, either stealthily or violently. You get a talent tree, like in any game with RPG elements, that allows you to choose your preferred methods and make you even better at executing them.

When making your way through a mission stealthily, you run around and either slit people's throats or choke them out, leaving them unconscious. Stealth is certainly the most rewarding way to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it can often be entirely too frustrating to actually make it worth it, thanks to sub-par AI that seems to be both psychic and clueless at the same time. One moment they won't be able to figure out where you are, and in the next moment they'll somehow see you through a wall.

That same horribly programmed AI makes going throw every level like a shooter the much easier way to go about things, but the shooting mechanics that are built into the game aren't all that great, and the way the AI behaves when you're just shooting everyone is even worse than it is when you're trying to sneak your way through a level.

The game's story feels very similar to that of the original Deus Ex, at least in general. Practically every overarching conspiracy theory regarding the Illuminati, the Majestic 12, or even FEMA can be found in Deus Ex Human Revolution, all crammed into a story that starts out as a simple "rescue your love interest from the evil people" story.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Deus Ex Human Revolution has nothing to do with either the story or the AI, though, it's the boss fights. Post-release it came out that these boss fights were made by a completely different studio than made the rest of the game, and it certainly shows. These boss fights require an extremely violent approach, and since there is no way to stealthily kill them, players who took a stealthy approach in their talent tree get the short end of the stick.

It really is quite amazing that even with all these problems, I am still wholeheartedly willing to recommend Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Sure, it has its share of problems, but as a whole its a solid open world experience that encourages exploration and experimentation with the game's mechanics, and that is something more games need to do.

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Posted:
2014-11-06

deanowen

Super Gamer Dude

6.3

We may never invent a time machine in our life times but we sure as heck can pop in games like WWE 2K15 to revisit what made our childhood so much fun. For the younger gamers WWE 2K15 will be another entry into the current media mogul that is wrestling entertainment. For the older gamers, the ones that grew up with the WWF N64 entries, 2K15 will show us exactly what we've been missing. This latest entry into the pantheon of wrestling video games was released this past October for all of the current gen and last gen consoles: the PS4, XB1, Xbox 360, and PS3. We'll take a look at the general gameplay of the game before diving into the nitty gritty of what makes it better, or worse, than the prior entries in the series.

The WWE gaming world had quite the challenge on its hands when it was asked to come up with an entry that surpassed the WWE 2K14 smash hit of last year. 2K14 showcased an incredible deep roster, an interesting campaign mode, and one of the most interactive customizable suites in the history of wrestling games. So did they live up to the challenge or just get bounced like so many jabronies before them?

WWE 2K15 Has A DEEP Roster

The most important aspect of any yearly sports game is the updated roster. What good is it to have a game full of out of date wrestlers? Nobody wants to be busting heads with the 1996 version of Goldust in 2014...well, maybe they do but that's not the point. For 2K15 we get to play with 63 of the hottest names in sports entertainment along with eight special divas and three managers. Sounds like quite a few people, right? While the actual number is DOWN since last years entry we can still say that the roster here has enough oomph to make up for any perceived lack. You have all of the new wrestlers like Bray Wyatt and the NXT crew and the classic dudes that are still active today like HHH and Shawn Michaels. Considering the path that we've taken from the days of Atari gaming, it's hard to complain about a 70+ person total roster.

The Gameplay Has Been Elevated

The second most important aspect of a wrestling game is the way that the controls respond in your hands. Much like any other twitch based fighter, like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, you need to know that your avatar will strike and combo when you ask them to. Fans have been promised by the 2K crew that there would be a major overhaul in gameplay mechanics. While this is not the case for the old gen versions of the game, the next gen systems play very smoothly. There are occasional mix ups when you try to do work on the mat and sometimes you can lose yourself in space as you try to line up your special moves, but those are indicative of the type of game--not the game itself.

Relive Your History

One of the greatest things about professional wrestling is the fact that it is a long running narrative that incorporates thousands of people across decades of television airings. In 2K15 you can step into the shoes of some of the most legendary fighters in that span and relive their greatest moment. Want to experience the rivalry between HHH and HBK first hand? How about stepping into the shoes of some of the greatest legends in the history of the sport? You can do that too. There is literally infinite re-playability in this game thanks to the great roster and open gameplay modes.

In Closing: To Next-Gen or Not to Next-Gen

Fans of the WWE 2K series will have a decision on their hands this holiday season. With the game being released across old platforms and new it stands to reason that there will be some major differences in gameplay experience. The 360 and PS3 versions of 2K15 are noticeably worse than the XB1 and PS4 versions. The graphics are dulled down, some gameplay elements have been pulled, and the mechanics of the fighting are a little loose. If this sounds like something you don't want to deal with then stick to WWE 2K14 or move on to the next gen consoles.


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