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Posted:
2014-10-09

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

7.0

The original Plants vs. Zombies won over the mobile, PC, and console crowds with its easy to understand design and general charm. It offered a surprising amount of depth in its strategy gameplay and found crossover success with gamers and non-gamers alike. Thirty million players and a sequel later, PopCap has changed up the formula, opting for a first-person shooter game that retains the same kooky charms and successfully apes many multiplayer FPS tropes to carve its own flowery niche.

Like many of its more hardcore genre brethren, Garden Warfare offers a variety of Zombie and Plant classes to approach. From the ridiculous Football Zombie All-Star to the healing wonder that is the Sunflower, players are given options how to approach their residential (or graveyard) garden mayhem. The balance appears, at least so far, to be right near perfect and there seems to be a fair amount of room for experimentation within each class.

Further complementing this variety is a crazy amount of unlockables that do everything from cosmetically alter your player's appearance to giving actual stat modifiers and upgrades. These are varied and usually humorous alterations, and if the player so desires, be purchased earlier (with an in-game currency) if one doesn't want to wait. However, one frustration found in the unlock system is that the player doesn't necessarily control what skill or perhaps which character they'll be unlocking. The skills are random as are the character arrivals and the word 'customizable' does not apply to Garden Warfare like it does to many FPS these days. This is a puzzling but not crippling omission, although it definitely stands to alienate those looking for more customizability.

Thankfully, the core gameplay here stands out as being both tight and well-realized. Controls are simple and approachable, and the diverse player skills all pack their own charms and applications. There's a nice pace to the action too, as the smaller maps accommodate the 12-player count well, making battles quickly heated and always contested. Rarely did a match feel one-sided or empty, and there was always a sense of a battle approaching or the promise of action as soon as you spawned in every environment.

Rounding out the package are great aesthetic qualities and the well-rounded presentational charms. The game doesn't take itself seriously, inherently carving a niche for itself amongst the denizens of self-serious FPS games around. The colors are bright, the music is cheery, and the characters are humorous to the point that you never forget you're witnessing a battle between plants and zombies. This helps the game find a cathartic tone beside the foliage massacre and undead re-deading, and it really defines the title differently than just about any other FPS on the market.

One final point to mention here is that the game does feel a bit scant, even at its $40 point. There aren't quite enough maps or modes to really justify the price, and when you compare feature sets, Garden Warfare fairs modestly to most $15 downloadable shooters. Add in the fact that micro-transactions are suggested frequently and seem more essential than supplemental - the game can feel a little disenfranchising for the more economical gamer.

Still overall, Garden Warfare offers a unique FPS type of battle and setting, and one that plays as tight as it looks (with charm to spare). Gamers looking for a change of pace from the dystopia and blood-stained violence would do well to give this one a look. Those that are a bit more price-conscious may wait for a drop, but for its arcade-y thrills and immediate action, Garden Warfare seems planted to bloom into immediate success.

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Posted:
2010-11-27

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

6.9

The basic idea of this game is to pick a song to dance to, take a grip of that Wii Remote and follow the dance moves on the screen as closely as you can. The Wii remote will track your movements and you’ll earn points based on your performance. Each move earns rating comments ranging from bad through to OK and good,right up to perfect. When the song ends, your total score will be racked up and your friends can then try to beat you. Various songs are included in this game which is suitable for a wide variety of players.

There are songs for teenage kids like Toxic, When I Grow Up, Girlfriend, for young adults such as Take Me Out, A-Punk, Move your Feet, and for older folks such as Viva Las Vegas, I Fell Good, Hot Stuff, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Although, there are familiar dance moves that you will have already come across from the previous releases, there are also new dances with new moves and new cool clothes and costumes; tunes such as Walk like an Egyptian and Sympathy for the Devil. Several play modes are available in this game.

Just Sweat Mode, which is not too energetic, for single players which is a set of six songs just for a work-out session and equipped with its calorie counter. There is a Quick Play mode which can be performed by a group of four dancing together. The Battle Mode allows a maximum of eight persons to complete in minigames. Classic, Duet, Simon Says, Medley, and Race also feature mingames.

Thankfully, Just Dance 2 is an obvious improvement from the past games. The basic presentation is still the same but the score system is better reflects the quality of the dancing and is more accurate and organized. The virtual dancers are all two dimensional, painted with neon colors to give them a disco feel, but if you are someone who loves to dance or work out, this does not matter. Overall, the presentation of this game is entertaining with some strange but excellent choreography and various original soundtracks.

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Posted:
2011-03-13

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

7.5

Guild Wars really made its mark on the online MMORPG scene by placing giving players a breathtaking gameplay with no monthly fees attached to it. The endless hours of questing and levelling up with other players made the game a joy for most players. Along with the many instalments of guild wars that have already been released in the past, the mechanics of the game is still the same. You still control one character and groom it until it becomes strong enough. There are various ways to do this, you can do quests or even party up with people to get you there. There are also skills that you have to pick to make your character a formidable one.

If you are still starting out with the game, you can have a helping hand from the computer and it offers a few henchmen to your aid; a really helpful feature if you ask me, since you do not want to keep on dying every few minutes.

The new instalment features a new location to go to known as Canthas. The place is pretty much on the Asian theme as opposed to Tyria where the theme is stranded in the medieval times. Not to mention that there are new classes of characters that you may want to try. The Assassin is quick to move and hits effectively, the Ritualists on the other hand summons spirits to their aid. With two more added classes, battles can be more diverse than ever.

Similar to most MMORPGs out there, the main feature is really on the PVP which is handled by GW really well. If you just want to hop in a PVP battle, you can always enter small matches that team you up with a group and match you with another group. But if you want to go big time in terms of PVP you may take note that killing is not the only path to winning; you must achieve specific objectives before you win the match.

The word “Faction” is not placed on the title for nothing. The new instalment features various guilds fighting over their turf. The more they win the more places do they get to conquer and the more resources that they get to enjoy. The aim is not really to eliminate the opposite guild, but winning is all about gaining territory.

The game has breathtaking graphics and music. What more can you ask for an MMORPG game?
Well the game is not perfect. Take note of these small details. Whenever you are doing quests, the details of where to go and what to get are placed in small texts which can be easily missed. Doing the campaign can benefit the player in small ways which can make the whole portion forgettable.

Being a newbie in all this war is a bad idea. You do not really get to be a part of all the action until you spend time in making your character stronger to qualify yourself to join the strongest guilds out there.

Although it is not required, having the previous titles installed still means that you get to enjoy more places to go and a more complex game to play. This means if you want to fully experience guild wars, you need to purchase the previous titles which can be pricey. Nonetheless the game is a wonderful experience for MMORPG lovers out there that are looking for great PVP experience as well as stunning graphics.

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Posted:
2010-11-27

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

7.9

Using the popular TV characters, the objective of the game is to construct a fabulous roller coaster, which you achieve by playing the ever present minigames and explorations; they are everywhere. Many of the adventures follow the normal formula; Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher go to explore a town and collect items and parts with which to assemble their roller coaster, and meet various challenges along the way. But that is what this sort of game is all about and it certainly doesn’t make these games any less enjoyable because of it. You can use Ferb for some of the more mundane tasks, like building barriers and other structures, to help you achieve your goal. Some of the minigames use screen touching techniques for things such as hammering in a nails or tracing lines.

The character Candace is also present to try to frustrate the boy’s actions and generally interfere and be a nuisance. The game has a busted bar display and any activity such as fooling around, or anything that may distract from your purpose will increase the reading on the busted meter, and if it is filled, you’ll just have to play more minigames to gather other bits in a puzzle, while being chased by Candace, but you have an invisibility potion at your disposal to keep you out of her sight. After gathering the parts, Minigames also need to be completed in the actual construction of the roller coaster, and when you have finally completed building what may turn out to be an ingenious contraption, you get to take a ride on it if you dare.But even at this stage of the game there are more surprises and bonuses and time challenges.

There are also vehicle upgrades that you can get to unlock that can adapt your vehicle and even make it suitable for space travel. Phineas and Ferb also has an online feature. By connecting to DGamer, you can have your own avatar and unlock many items, from avatar costumes to sunglasses. The artistic graphics are incredible and the music effects are well fitted to the game, adding to the overall enjoyment of gameplay.

It is well organized, the first challenge being spare part hunting, then its second stage is the assembling these discovered parts, and, after all the hard work, you get to ride on your own fantastical creation. Content-wise the game is very simple yet still providing entertainment and the DGamer feature is definitely a plus since you can chat to other gamers and get them involved. It is certainly worth considering as an addition to your wish list.

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Posted:
2010-11-28

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

7.8

Certainly not the easiest game in the handheld format, making it the best I have played on Nintendo DS to date. The underlying Sims idea is still the same as its PC counterparts,the Sims attempt to fulfill their needs and by doing so achieve Sim happiness. The point-and-click system using the stylus makes filling the game’s day planner easier, but in planning for the Sim’s house the Build and Buy play mode doesn’t have much inventory like the other versions, but this is not a major problem.

Players can use the efficiency of the game’s touch screen for painting walls, drawing, and dragging and dropping items with ease. You can also make up your own story should you so wish. When you pick your Sims’ character and Lifetime wish, you set out a plan to follow to achieve this wish. Your character can also go on explorations to the town, be in, and fall out of, love, visit their neighbors; whatever you wish. The new feature for this version is its Karma. It is earned by completing particular set goals in the game, which earn as a reward Karma points that can then be used in different ways such as spending on items for added luck or throwing a fire spell at a neighbor. There are other means of collecting Karma points which require searching out, and others that need to be unlocked.

Looking for Karma adds a twist to the overall enjoyment of the game. Another added feature is the ability to personalize your Sims’ facial character by using the stylus. You can widen the forehead; change the nose, sharpen the chin and a lot more, producing some quite grotesque looking features. It is a great addition although in the DS version there is more pixilation so rendering the facial customization a little less effective. This really is a shame as this feature is great fun by itself. Generally speaking the music and sound effects are catchy and the ever present mumbling and chattering crowd noises are still there, which is good as they would certainly be missed.

The gameplay is great and the addition of Karma points gives scope for added imagination. While it isn’t that graphically-rich, the inclusion Build and Buy mode is a welcome feature, but the most enjoyable new feature and of great amusement value in itself,is the Create-a-Sim facial function.

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Posted:
2010-12-21

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

9.1

If you like the idea of getting inspiration from action films to create a totally different game then take a look at this game which tries to copy action films that became a hit over the years. This game is a combination of car chases and gunfights that are typically seen in action films. This game is really a cracker, and one of my favorite things in it is jumping from car to car. You can even jump on the hood and blast them in the face, or throw them out and jump into the driving seat. There is a laid back feeling you will get from this game. Nothing is too serious, but don't expect there to be that much of a storyline. However, don't let that take away from the game.

So here is how the game goes, you play as the cop in a new branch of the police department. Pursuit Force is the name of your police group, and its purpose is the control and testing of experimental vehicles for use in high speed chases, and the development of new weapons. Your group is assigned to capture five gangs who are known for crimes using high speed getaway cars for armed robberies. Each gang has their own special skills and methods. You will be given 30 missions in which to capture them. With the degree of difficulty involved it takes quite a while to complete these missions.

At the start of the game, you will be given four missions to unlock the gangs. Once you have succeeded in these missions, you can start tracking for the gangs you have unlocked. You will also be ranked on the missions that you have finished. If you did well with the missions, you can get a promotion. The fight scenes, chase scenes and hi jack scenes are awesome. It is action packed and you will never have a dull moment in this game. It is full of fun and excitement.

The graphics are well done. You will notice little lovable characters poping up and saying silly things while chasing gang members. The vehicles and characters are so realistic. The scenes were all carefully crafted to get the feel of reality. All in all, Pursuit Force is the game to take when you want a full action game. It is so intense and will definitely take you on the edge of your seat. Your skills will be challenged as you get to do action stunts like in the films. I would HIGHLY recommend this game, it is badass! I would rate it 9/10.

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Posted:
2011-02-28

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

9.0

This game is based on the 1967 Grand Prix Season, presenting the same cars as in the original season - the Lotus Ford 49, the Eagle-Weslake T1G, the Repco-Brabham BT24, the Ferrari 312, and the BRM H-16-Papyrus, together with two other cars – the Murasama and the Coventry. You will also get to play with the teams of Kyalami, Zandvoort, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, Rouen-les-Essarts, Mosport, Silverstone, Monte Carlo, Nurburgring, and Watkins Glen.

The graphic presentation is really wonderful. From the little details of the mirrors to the fancy backgrounds and scenery, everything is just mind-blowing.

So, how real is this real game? It can be definitely said that driving each of the cars will be a great challenge for you. They have realistically different handling characteristics, but all of them are incredibly difficult to drive. You can never complete a single lap in your first few games without crashing, spinning, flipping, and rolling over. Don’t be surprised, as Papyrus even posted a warning about this in the second page of this game’s manual, which reads, "You will spin and crash because everyone who tries the simulation spins and crashes the first time out. And the second time out. And the third. People who have raced real cars spin and crash in the simulator - mainly because they aren't feeling the forces they are used to feeling while driving."

Apparently, Papyrus made it so real that even real racers can play it just like they do in real life. But how about those aspiring (and frustrated) racers like me who just get to do these races on the sim? I am not sure how they plan to deal with this. But I guess they should have given us more help to play, maybe some input or hint to let us know how close we are to these turns? Don’t get me wrong. For me, it’s still the best driving sim ever, but hey, would it hurt if they didn’t make so tactful AI drivers so that we can get to train ourselves?

Despite my rants, I still have the GPL spell on me. Yes, I am still literally spending hours to play this again and again, and on the bright side, its difficulty makes it more rewarding if you get on the top ten. That’s the time I enjoy using the instant replay feature to see how I did.

Maybe the only downside of the gameplay is that you can only use cockpit and chase views during the race, which does not give you a wide view of what’s in front of you. That’s more likely why you will not see if you are gopng to be crashing into a wall. And I guess not everyone can download and play this, as it requires high-end hardware requirements as well as controllers to do so.

However, if you can get pass all these obstacles, you will truly enjoy playing this racing sim. Once you get past through the getting-used-to stage, you will definitely be rewarded with the most realistic game experience. A hard, but super realistic driving simulation game.

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Posted:
2011-03-01

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

6.0

Electronic Arts has again released a sequel for the NFS Underground series which focuses on the import tuner scene or modifying branded cars, this time on the streets of an open city, much like the Grand Theft Auto series but not even close in quality as a game. It might be set up in the streets of an open city, but you will race on preset tracks too, which isn’t the feel of the GFA race style where you really race on the streets informally, without any tracks, and just find your own start and end points. This is the main difference of the game compared to the last year’s version. You can also go to different shops around the city to pimp your ride. However, you can only find them while roaming the city, and maps won’t help you.

Overall, it is pretty much like the first release, and the actual racing gameplay is pretty good. The graphical effects are impressive, except for the GameCube version. The car models look sharp and cool and the background city looks fine. But for some reason, last year’s version was better in terms of blur effects. Also, the crashing of the cars is actually weak, and you would not feel the impact at all. However, you have to have gamepads connected to the PC to maximize the controls, as the controls don’t work too well with the keyboard. In terms of sound, the dialogue and speech are actually lame, but speed sounds actually do their thing. The slang dialogues are pretty inappropriately placed along the way, and this is very disturbing especially if you know that language. The soundtrack made up of remixes by Snoop Dogg and Jim Morrison is actually pretty cool though.

The game starts with you driving a slow car and then you upgrade them as you earn enough money. Movements are incredibly fast, and techniques are easy to execute. Race types are either circuit, drag, or drift races. You can also race in street X races, outrun races, and underground races. Everything goes wrong, however, when you go into career mode. You’ll enter a new town and find yourself in a new story. This is rather far away from the whole theme of the game, and the cutscenes are noninteractive.

What you will love with NFS Underground 2 is the process of pimping up your car. You can purchase parts to speed the engine up, or you can buy necessary accessories to get noticed enough to put your car on a magazine centerfold.

The game does okay with its purpose of simulating an “underground” type of race, but it also somehow puts too much emphasis on it, and this comes to the point that it gets really annoying. Overall, the game does as well as its predecessor did, but I don’t think that the new additions helped at all. They actually draw you from the heart of the game and take the fun out of the races.

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Posted:
2014-05-19

A mediocre title.

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

6.0

The Castlevania series has been at the forefront of the action/adventure genre for generations. As it has evolved through its definitive high and lows, the series has seen classics such as Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood, and even the highly underrated 3D transition in Castlevania 64. Unfortunately, the series took a nosedive in the PS2 era, focusing on flash and repetitive combat instead of exploiting the core competency of its design (exploration). This quality then returned in the first Lords of Shadow game, offering the Metroidvania charms in a 3D space and now in 2014, MercurySteam has returned with a meaty, but sadly scattered sequel.

Set mostly in a more modern setting, Lords of Shadow stretches across a great number of vistas and set pieces in its 20+ hour running time. Dystopian this, overly dark that; environments are consistently somber and at points evocative, and they are fairly well unified in a way that fits into the Castlevania universe. While it's not as appealing as the classic castle setting we're all accustomed to (which does thankfully show up), credit should go to MercurySteam for trying something new here.

Unfortunately, while these environments are artistically sound, they feel as if they've been smushed together as vignettes that don't really connect us to a cohesive world. There's a generally empty feeling to the areas, and as exploration takes a backseat, we feel a general disconnection to them. A strength of the series has always been the iconography of its settings, and here the locales are muted and forgettable, and without great incentive lurking in their more hidden depths. Plainly put, the series' intricately designed areas have been reformed by a 'quantity over quality' mentality. The open-world design ends up exploiting the 'under-design' of the levels as opposed to giving players the sense of unending exploration and excitement the series has been known for.

These are fairly damning words for any adventure game and particularly a series known for its exploration. Thankfully, the game does offer a pretty robust combat system that never feels less than tight and gives players a variety of mechanics to explore. Sadly, the enemies are no more exciting than the areas themselves, so while the combat is indeed fun, the enemies are a mashup of poor AI and frequently recycled assets. Boss fights do liven things up from time to time (and are certainly worthy spectacles), but the general repetition doesn't create a sense of momentum or build into these grander fights. Instead, they feel like random flourishes that only breakup the monotony before sending us back the drab environment X to fight generic enemy Y.

MercurySteam does fair a bit better when it comes to presentation and audio here luckily. There's notable voice talent with the likes Patrick Stewart and Robert Caryle (among others), and a great sweeping score that sits neatly beside the series' normally captivating audio. As well, the story blends in some Castlevania mythos surrounding Dracula that's sure to get long-time series fans talking. Again, MercurySteam takes some risks in this area, and they should be commended for, at the very least, mixing things up.

On the whole, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow II feels bloated and sadly unfocused. The idea that ambition outpaced its focus seems apt, and while things like the tight combat shine at their foundation, these aspect too feel undone by the stretch of the design. Compound this with a too long running time, a de-emphasis on the series' bread and butter (exploration) - Lords of Shadow II feels like attrition the more and more it drags along. Unless you're a diehard Castlevania fan that just can't get enough, or perhaps a action junkie that can look past the hollow exterior, stay clear of this one until it hits the bargain bins.

avatar name

Posted:
2014-05-19

A mediocre title.

tomgreen

Super Gamer Dude

6.0

The Castlevania series has been at the forefront of the action/adventure genre for generations. As it has evolved through its definitive high and lows, the series has seen classics such as Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood, and even the highly underrated 3D transition in Castlevania 64. Unfortunately, the series took a nosedive in the PS2 era, focusing on flash and repetitive combat instead of exploiting the core competency of its design (exploration). This quality then returned in the first Lords of Shadow game, offering the Metroidvania charms in a 3D space and now in 2014, MercurySteam has returned with a meaty, but sadly scattered sequel.

Set mostly in a more modern setting, Lords of Shadow stretches across a great number of vistas and set pieces in its 20+ hour running time. Dystopian this, overly dark that; environments are consistently somber and at points evocative, and they are fairly well unified in a way that fits into the Castlevania universe. While it's not as appealing as the classic castle setting we're all accustomed to (which does thankfully show up), credit should go to MercurySteam for trying something new here.

Unfortunately, while these environments are artistically sound, they feel as if they've been smushed together as vignettes that don't really connect us to a cohesive world. There's a generally empty feeling to the areas, and as exploration takes a backseat, we feel a general disconnection to them. A strength of the series has always been the iconography of its settings, and here the locales are muted and forgettable, and without great incentive lurking in their more hidden depths. Plainly put, the series' intricately designed areas have been reformed by a 'quantity over quality' mentality. The open-world design ends up exploiting the 'under-design' of the levels as opposed to giving players the sense of unending exploration and excitement the series has been known for.

These are fairly damning words for any adventure game and particularly a series known for its exploration. Thankfully, the game does offer a pretty robust combat system that never feels less than tight and gives players a variety of mechanics to explore. Sadly, the enemies are no more exciting than the areas themselves, so while the combat is indeed fun, the enemies are a mashup of poor AI and frequently recycled assets. Boss fights do liven things up from time to time (and are certainly worthy spectacles), but the general repetition doesn't create a sense of momentum or build into these grander fights. Instead, they feel like random flourishes that only breakup the monotony before sending us back the drab environment X to fight generic enemy Y.

MercurySteam does fair a bit better when it comes to presentation and audio here luckily. There's notable voice talent with the likes Patrick Stewart and Robert Caryle (among others), and a great sweeping score that sits neatly beside the series' normally captivating audio. As well, the story blends in some Castlevania mythos surrounding Dracula that's sure to get long-time series fans talking. Again, MercurySteam takes some risks in this area, and they should be commended for, at the very least, mixing things up.

On the whole, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow II feels bloated and sadly unfocused. The idea that ambition outpaced its focus seems apt, and while things like the tight combat shine at their foundation, these aspect too feel undone by the stretch of the design. Compound this with a too long running time, a de-emphasis on the series' bread and butter (exploration) - Lords of Shadow II feels like attrition the more and more it drags along. Unless you're a diehard Castlevania fan that just can't get enough, or perhaps a action junkie that can look past the hollow exterior, stay clear of this one until it hits the bargain bins.


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