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Posted:
2013-12-17

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

7.5

On June 9th, 2013 Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released for the Nintendo 3DS. New Leaf offers players something all Animal Crossing games do, hours upon hours of entertainment. This simulation-style game will keep the player enthralled for years to come. The mechanics of this franchise that fans have come to love will not disappoint in this new addition to the series. The changes and new features that have been made are sound improvements that make play smoother and more exciting.

The Return of Successful Mechanics

In most simulation games, relatively mundane activities are played out by characters over and over. The trick to making the game entertaining and eventually successful is to make each activity fun as opposed to tedious, and to offer incentives to the player for completing the tasks. Animal Crossing games have been well known for entertainment value in the past, and they do deliver again with New Leaf. As always, the player moves into a town and builds a life there by decorating their home, catching bugs, managing relationships with the NPC residents of the village, and many other similar tasks.

What’s New, New Leaf?

In New Leaf, for the first time in the franchise the player is the acting Mayor of the town. This allows the player to decorate the inside and outside of their home as well as the rest of the town. This new feature is a large and welcome change to the previous games in which the player only had control of their own home. Starting at the beginning of the game the player makes important decisions about the layout of their village. The organization of the town and its buildings, and the decorations will be up to the player and their creativity throughout the game. The possibilities can seem endless from more traditional ideas up to a miniature Stonehenge. The more the game is played, the more options open up to the player. With the addition of the resell shop players can even personalize individual pieces of furniture, making their town completely unique from any other player’s.

Ah, the Possibilities!

Somehow, New Leaf seems to have maintained the adorable simplicity of its predecessors. This is exceptional news considering the plethora of new options to choose from. What does this mean for the player? There are new activities like swimming, new clothes and furniture, and even new holidays. With all the activities and ways to make each town unique it is truly impressive that the game has not become too busy or confusing.

Show it Off in Multiplayer.

The multiplayer from previous games is expanded upon greatly in New Leaf. When picking up this game, one expects to be able to visit the home of friends. As usual a visitor can be friendly and leave gifts, or be a butthead and mess up the landscaping. This can be done online or locally.

The new feature, called the Dream Suite, allows players to visit a dream world version of other player’s villages. In this way, a player’s town can be shown off to anyone without the fear of having their flowers stomped on. It is only a dream, so the town can be toured but not affected by the visitor. This is also a fun feature for the visitor because they can still run around interacting with the town, just without permanent consequences.

While that is all incredibly impressive, there is still more! New Leaf makes use of Street Pass by allowing the player to view the homes of every other player they pass in the real world. As long as someone has a copy of the game, their home is available to view in Street Pass.

Resort Island Multiplayer Minigames

For a more personal multiplayer, players can visit Resort Island. The resort is run by former Mayor, Tortimer, and hosts a multitude of games players can enjoy together online. It should be noted that it is not necessary to play with others online, as the island can be visited offline as a single player. This can be convenient in some ways.

The Final Word

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is so much more than just a game. It will offer up more entertainment value for the price than most games on the market, today. The new additions of content, activities, and multiplayer features will keep the game new and exciting for literally hundreds of hours. The online world of other players across the globe helps this game stay current and refreshing. From the huge changes to the tiny improvements in gameplay, the whole game has been revamped without losing its original simplicity and charm. Anyone who owns a 3DS can consider this game a sound investment.

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Posted:
2013-05-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

8.3

Dishonored has been heralded as a new step in the right direction; a step back towards letting players actually play games. A sandbox game that allows for a variety of choices and solutions, Dishonored combines stealth, action and strategy into a single game that will appeal simultaneously to a wide variety of different players and styles.

Players step into the boots of Corvo Attano, the personal bodyguard to the Empress of a strange, Dystopian world. In the gritty port city of Dunwall, Corvo fails in his charge and the Empress is assassinated under his watch. Rather than sit and stew though, Corvo seeks the identity of the assassin and vengeance for what he did. However, just how Corvo goes about that vengeance is entirely up to the player.

Dishonored is, primarily, a game that allows players the choice to accomplish the mission however they see fit. For instance, Corvo can go in with bared steel, cackling like a madman and leaving a sea of blood in his wake. For players that don't want to play the game that way though, it isn't the only option (just the easiest more often than not). Players also have the option of manipulating other NPCs into doing the dirty work for them, or moving so stealthily that they can reach the objective without having to kill anyone. There are even non-lethal combat options, which are more difficult to make effective, but which keep the body count at an absolute minimum. For the truly skilled player it is entirely possible to finish Dishonored without getting any blood on Corvo's hands.

Which path a player chooses to take also has an effect on the world. Dunwall is currently dealing with plague, and the more bodies that Corvo leaves behind, the worse the plague is going to get because of all the additional death and food for the rats. However, the more guards Corvo kills, the more guards will be posted at later missions. This will just amp up the difficulty, so being sneaky might be challenging, but it will result in fewer guards being posted in future missions, which definitely sounds like a major advantage.

Beyond the creativity that went into designing a game with multiple ways to win, Dishonored also offers players a unique control system that helps them get the job done. With stealth and combat often so closely related, Dishonored takes a few hints from Assassin's Creed and makes sure that players have as little downtime between moving quietly in the shadows and pulling steel. After all, sometimes all it takes is a second of hesitation for Corvo to be stretched out dead in an alley somewhere, and the player left cursing and grinding his or her teeth. Of course, as with any game, practice makes perfect. Once players are more familiar with the controls and the world, it's just a matter of time until Corvo can slip through the shadows and bring vengeance on the person responsible for the Empress's murder.

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Posted:
2013-12-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

4.5

The game has you outside of Hogwarts, venturing into the countryside of England to destroy the last portions of Voldemort’s soul. Despite the idea being the same as the movie, the execution of it is entirely different in the game. First off, the scenes that apply to the storyline of the movie are only shown in cutscenes that don’t do a very good job of explaining how your play is affecting the story. If you haven’t read the books, expect to be somewhat confused by it.

The game gives up a lot of the story and plot from the books and movies in order to bring to the table unadulterated combat. If you can overlook the inconsistencies, what you’ll find is a solid third-person shooter. The game shows you looking over Harry’s shoulder, and allows you to lock onto enemies, or take cover behind objects. When you’ve locked onto an enemy, you can let loose with ten different types of spells that are available, all of which are able to be upgraded throughout the game. The spells accessible are changed by hitting the bumper, or there is a radial menu that can be brought up for spell selection. There aren’t any magic or health bars on the screen when you play, so the sense of immersion is pretty complete.

The camera is one thing that takes away from that immersion. While not completely broken, it does have a tendency to move to extreme close-ups when you’re trying to navigate into or out of cover, or if you’re in a small space. That difficulty with the camera puts you into situations sometimes where you don’t really know what is going on, which can end in disaster.

There are a few different enemies to fight through the game, but generally the character models are all exactly the same. Once you see all three Death Eater character models, you can expect to see them all through the rest of the game. Other than that, the graphics are top-notch, with only a little slowdown noted during split-screen games.

A game that is based on a movie that is based on a book has one simple requirement: story. The story elements of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 don’t do the books or the movies that they came from justice, but the game itself does a good job of immersing players. If you don’t need a good reason to magically blast hordes of baddies, then this game might be a good fit. If, on the other hand, you were only going to play it for the story, it might be one to pass by

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Posted:
2013-12-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

7.3

The game has, predictably, three campaigns that can be played through. The campaign for the marines provides a lot of tension early on when you fight in the dark, but in later levels that sense of discomfort is lost due to the levels being more open and less confining. The next campaign has you chewing through scores of marines and scientists as one of the Aliens escaping from a research facility. The Predator campaign is next, and gives players lots of chances to explore the unique capabilities of a Predator.

While the differences in the play styles for each of the campaigns highlights the differences in the races, some of them are a lot easier to play, and work better, than others. In particular, the Aliens particular skills of being able to run along walls and ceilings aren’t implemented as well as it could be. For one thing, even though there’s a button that is supposed to dictate whether your character actually moves onto a wall, there are a times where you’ll do it automatically.

Also, when you get on the ceiling, the control doesn’t always do what you want it to do, resulting in players doing better to just stay on the floor when they’re playing as the Alien.

Playing as the Predator is a little bit more enjoyable, but it’s at the cost of lacking believability. In the Predator levels, you generally have to employ your semi-invisibility and get enemy marines into a certain spot with distractions. The wording the marines use doesn’t seem very believable, which takes a lot away from the satisfaction of slaughtering them. On the plus side, most of the Predator capabilities are in the game for players to use.

While the campaign elements aren’t done perfectly, that can be forgiven with the enjoyable multiplayer that is available. In addition to the standards of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, the game has Infestation, where one player starts as an Alien and converts others, and Predator Hunt, which is like tag, and tagging another player makes them the Predator. There is even a mode called Survivor, where you can work with a teammate to fight off hordes of enemies.

Video games have come a long way in the days since text-based games were the only kind playable online. Aliens vs. Predator takes a lot of the features that modern first-person shooters use and incorporates them in a great way into their universe. You might not want to play through the three campaigns, but the multiplayer is what really makes this game fun, anyway.

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Posted:
2013-12-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

6.5

You play the game as a hero assigned to find and rescue the Queen. You won’t go questing alone though, as you’ll eventually find yourself in the company of several people eager to join you in your quest. You’ll have Prince Anlance, Claymore, your father, and Fleurette, a French maiden. Aside from clever remarks and minor dialogues, they won’t contribute much to your gaming. This also doesn’t mean you’ll get into dungeons with a full party as most of the time you can only have one companion fighting alongside with you.

The game is still essentially an RPG albeit a very simple one. RPG elements of leveling up, upgrading equipments and running around town getting quest objectives before you head off to fight in dungeons are still present. However, each of those elements is kept to its basic form with little or no complications. With the D pad, you can walk around in first person view and talk with characters. For targeting objects you can press the A button. The game controls have even been made simpler as they totally excluded Nunchuk functionality. Despite the game developers simplifying things, you still have to deal with sloppy controls when moving around.

As soon as you are in combat, however, you can use the Wii controls to hack and slash to your heart’s content. You can do slashing and slicing gestures like handling a real sword to mow down approaching enemies which often attack in groups giving you the satisfying feeling of cleaving through them. With the A button, you can also point to specific targets onscreen when you want to focus your attack power on one enemy. With the B button, you can raise your shield and defend yourself from attacks. Conveniently, the direction of the attacks are shown onscreen just moments in advance giving you ample time to react and shield yourself in the right location. There is also this special attack gauge that gets filled up as you’ve killed more enemies. When this becomes full, you can initiate a special attack move which requires you to do a series of wiggling, thrusting and waving of your remote. It’s certainly very amusing and perhaps may be the only highlight of your combat.

Setting the combat factor aside, Dragon Quest Swords doesn’t have anything remarkable to present. With the limited companion you have during dungeon runs, and not to mention that they only do light support by casting spells, to the very basic RPG elements that’s common among other RPG games, it really doesn’t have much to offer. This game may still be able to draw new players to the Dragon Quest franchise, but for long time fans, this is just as stale stripped down version of a popular gaming franchise.

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Posted:
2013-12-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

5.0

The Dungeon Siege franchise has been consistently one of the top action role-playing games genre in the industry. It has secured millions of fans with its first and second installments that achieved its success at multiple gaming consoles rather than just having to be concentrated on one. However, the third installment of the franchise has turned out to be such a blunder especially for the PC version. Unlike its previous installments, Dungeon Siege III offers a limited range of customization, skills, and equipment, which was one of the highly rated parts of the game in the previous installments. It also sets up with a fairly short storyline, very different to what the previous installment were praised for.

It is not really clear what gave the developers the idea of eliminating all the aspects of the game that had proved to be its winning traits. The wild and fun experience of the game though is still there; sword fights, magic, skills, etc. are still something to look forward to. However, when you talk about the PC’s controls, it might prove to be too much for gamers to handle. You would like to think that most PC gamers are experts in mastering all the keys they have to deal with in that wide keyboard. But with how the keys and controls are laid out in Dungeon Siege III, the gameplay would surely be overshadowed by the frustration that the controls will prove to inject unto you. There is also a slight problem with the camera being blocked by objects like walls or trees when it falls in the wrong position, which mostly happens in the middle of fights. Though it might not be impossible to master the controls; if you’re a hardcore gamer then you know that you can handle anything. However, by the time you start to get the hang of the controls, you might already want to exit the game and uninstall it right there and then.

It is utterly frustrating with all these issues of control, display, and limitations. Each character now only has 9 skills to learn, far off from the previous installments which had an ocean of skills to choose from. Also, the story just seems to be unbalanced. There is just too much talk for a very short story. Dungeon Siege was known to cut the talk and get to the fighting. However, the developers seem to plug the gaping hole of the campaign’s lack of length with the length of narratives and dialogues. You choices of dialogue would also prove to steer the fate of your companions and on how the game would meet its ending. The utter limitations to skills and action moves mostly brought by the mechanics and control layout is certainly the most annoying thing about the game, when attacking was as easy as clicking on an enemy to attack, with Dungeon Siege III you will have to manually face the enemy and perform the moves you wish to do. This makes skills and long range weapons miss a lot. The game just seems to be a little bit out of place on the PC.

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Posted:
2014-04-11

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

7.5

The game measures your performance by tracking whether the lyrics that you've sung are correct, but it doesn't stop there. It also allows players to record their performance. There is even a social site dedicated to players who wish to share their recorded session and participate in popularity contests. This in turn adds depth to what could have been just another run of the mill karaoke game. For every aspiring rapper out there, Def Jam Rapstar could be the next best thing to an actual stage performance minus the possible boos from the crowd.

Playing the game is pretty much straightforward. It gets you immediately to the singing part without further annoyances. You are of course presented with game modes to choose from. There's a solo mode, a two player mode where you can perform a duet, or compete with another player and top each other's score. Lastly, there is a party mode. Some players may be a bit disappointed in finding some song selections containing censored lyrics as the game has a T rating for Teens. There's no penalty though, should the player decide to fill them in while singing. If players still find the pre-included song selections inadequate, they could always visit the online store and purchase downloadable tracks to expand their song selections.

In Def Jam Rapstar, there are two scoring mechanics that gauge the player's performance: Melodic section and Rap Section. Melodic sections are shown by bars hinting the pitch of each note and the relative length of the phrase. This is quite common among Karaoke games. The Rap section shows a dot on top each syllable. A ball would then bounce on top of each dot to show the correct timing when singing the phrases. The more synchronized the player is in singing the phrase while it's hit by the bouncing ball, the better the score the player is awarded.

If a player is trying out a not-so-familiar track, it may be best to sing along with the rapper first until you get a hang of the beat. Some song selections may post difficulty for those singing solo as some lyrics during the chorus may be superimposed like the female lyrics of the song quickly following the male lyrics or vice versa. This brings players to choose which parts they sing and which they don't. But all in all, Def Jam Rapstar does a remarkable job in bringing out the fun of this under represented music genre and converting it into an awesome game experience.

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Posted:
2014-04-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

6.8

Like the previous games in the series, you are involved with the military and fighting with Special Forces operatives to save the world from some dire threat. In this case, the threat is from nuclear weapons, and it is up to you and your partner, down from three teammates in the previous game, to save the world from destruction. Another notable change from previous titles in the series is that this game is in first-person view, not third-person.

Playing through the game, you will be playing as either the heavy gunner Lang or the sniper, Graves. You can switch between these two characters depending upon the situation, giving you a lot of tactical capability. You can also heal your ally, and direct the AI controlling them. That will be essential in the game, since your ally provides a lot of necessary fire, and does a good job of killing the enemy as well as you. If you put your AI ally in the right spot, they can really provide the sort of fire that makes it worthwhile to have a buddy in a shooting game, but if they're in the wrong spot, it can prevent you from being able to battle effectively at all.

Properly positioning your AI buddy is something that takes away from the realism, slightly, but adds dramatically to the sense of control that you have available on the field. Add in that you can take over that buddy of yours in a heartbeat, and you end up having a lot of fun battling through the chokepoints and set-pieces in the levels.

Despite numerous chokepoints and other confrontations, there isn't a lot of uniqueness when it comes to the level design of Denied Ops. There are a few different locations such as a castle, a whaling depot, and an African city. These levels generally have few differences in the missions in them, such as go-there-and-kill-everybody missions, and blow-that-up missions. If you're not looking for a lot of variety in your destruction, it'll work just fine.

There is a lot of stuff to blow up, at least. Lots of things in the levels are destructible, giving your battles an epic feel at times. You're taking on large numbers of enemies with heavy firepower, and this game really gives you the feel of that as you fight. You'll fight the same enemies over and over, but you'll pretty well mow them down, if you do it right.

Conflict Denied Ops isn't a thinking-man's shooter, but it does provide a lot of play that doesn't do anything specifically bad. If you're willing to settle for its mediocrity, Denied Ops has some fun to be had.

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Posted:
2014-04-25

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

6.8

Like the previous games in the series, you are involved with the military and fighting with Special Forces operatives to save the world from some dire threat. In this case, the threat is from nuclear weapons, and it is up to you and your partner, down from three teammates in the previous game, to save the world from destruction. Another notable change from previous titles in the series is that this game is in first-person view, not third-person.

Playing through the game, you will be playing as either the heavy gunner Lang or the sniper, Graves. You can switch between these two characters depending upon the situation, giving you a lot of tactical capability. You can also heal your ally, and direct the AI controlling them. That will be essential in the game, since your ally provides a lot of necessary fire, and does a good job of killing the enemy as well as you. If you put your AI ally in the right spot, they can really provide the sort of fire that makes it worthwhile to have a buddy in a shooting game, but if they're in the wrong spot, it can prevent you from being able to battle effectively at all.

Properly positioning your AI buddy is something that takes away from the realism, slightly, but adds dramatically to the sense of control that you have available on the field. Add in that you can take over that buddy of yours in a heartbeat, and you end up having a lot of fun battling through the chokepoints and set-pieces in the levels.

Despite numerous chokepoints and other confrontations, there isn't a lot of uniqueness when it comes to the level design of Denied Ops. There are a few different locations such as a castle, a whaling depot, and an African city. These levels generally have few differences in the missions in them, such as go-there-and-kill-everybody missions, and blow-that-up missions. If you're not looking for a lot of variety in your destruction, it'll work just fine.

There is a lot of stuff to blow up, at least. Lots of things in the levels are destructible, giving your battles an epic feel at times. You're taking on large numbers of enemies with heavy firepower, and this game really gives you the feel of that as you fight. You'll fight the same enemies over and over, but you'll pretty well mow them down, if you do it right.

Conflict Denied Ops isn't a thinking-man's shooter, but it does provide a lot of play that doesn't do anything specifically bad. If you're willing to settle for its mediocrity, Denied Ops has some fun to be had.

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Posted:
2014-04-26

halfwit

Super Gamer Dude

4.7

In the single-player game, you'll be flying as one of four different pilots. You'll begin fighting off German attacks that venture above the island of Great Britain, but end up fighting with the US and New Zealand forces over Germany itself. The characters all tell their story of why they're fighting there, but the voice-acting that follows the cutscenes is absolutely dreadful, resulting in you not wanting to really be any of these terribly boring pilots.

The campaign itself jumps around some, since missions with your earliest squadron can only be played once you've progressed, and moved out of the area to some new group. You'd think that having crossed the channel and being based off the continent would prevent you from heading back to Great Britain and having to defend them, but it doesn't.

There are a number of different airplanes that can be unlocked, especially if you're willing to play at a higher difficulty.

Likely, you'll play at the higher difficulty, even without the bonus of more easily unlocking planes. That's because the AI is not very difficult at all, and will often not even notice you trying to devastate their ride. The missions, also, are only somewhat different as you go through the game, and though there are some novel takes on the essential elements, they mostly consist of your dog-fighting enemies or bombing buildings.

The game does offer a new element of the gameplay, which are Ace kills. These allow your character to zoom in on the enemy and specifically target certain portions to shoot at, such as their engines or the pilot themselves. This option is a nice added feature, but it actually makes a game that is already too easy at the most difficult difficulty level even easier.

One feature that is nice is the extensive online play. There are four different game modes, as well as four maps for your flying pleasure. Up to sixteen players can play a map at a time, though it's very difficult to find that many people playing the game at any given time. The modes are fun, especially Team Survivor, where the last person standing wins it for the team. That will have you performing selfless acts to keep your survivors alive, like diving in front of bullets.

While Heroes Over Europe does certainly provide opportunities for fun, the simplicity of destroying AI opponents, combined with the lack of real opponents to fight, leaves the player with little to do. If you're a huge WWII buff who feels like they've missed out flying the aircraft of that era, then this simulation will offer that opportunity, but beyond that it's a merely average flight sim.


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