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Posted:
2014-03-20

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

8.0

As it stretches towards its second decade, South Park serves as television's beacon of topical and politically incorrect humor. With its hilariously depraved world filled with eccentric characters and absurd mechanisms, the South Park universe is primed for a proper gaming adaptation, but has yet to see an iteration veering merely competent. Fortunately, seasoned role-playing developer Obsidian has taken it upon themselves to right the ship and have, in nearly every way, succeeded in creating a fun and original game based off the show.

First things first, Obsidian has gone out of its way to be faithful to the show; enlisting creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to write the story and record all of the voice. Pair that with an impeccable 'just like the TV show-look', and it feels like we're getting a 15-20 hour long playable version of the show. The fan service continues thoughtfully too, recreating the town's locations down to the most minute of details, and it offers up an absolute onslaught of easter eggs and gags that go the extra mile to please those that are 'in the know'. Plainly said: in terms of presentation, storyline, and general 'South Park-yness', this game knocks it out of the park (pun slightly intended).

Aside from this stellar aesthetic appeal, South Park trumps a Paper Mario RPG-like battle system beside commendable exploration and some minor systems to fill itself out. The timing-based battles require players to use their reflexes to perform a variety of comedic moves that both upgrade and reinvent over time. They also carry special ties to the show itself, often referencing some great comedic moment in the show's past or building upon the mythos developing in the current story. Players also get to rotate their battle partner (or 'buddy') accordingly, choosing from characters like Butters or Kenny to help the nameless protagonist win the day and deliver more laughs along the way.

Elsewhere, exploration is a mixed bag of highs and lows; letting players traverse an intricate game world that offers up many locations but ultimately feels a little static. It's not so much a design flaw as it is an aesthetic one, and one that's possibly unavoidable given the artistic style of the show. However, Obsidian certainly gives players many secrets to find and enjoy as well as some meaningful rewards to chase after over the course of the game (such as finding all of the hidden Chinpokemon). These offer up a variety of incentives and fan service for players and fans looking for as much South Park as they can get. It should be noted too though that while the quantity of references is appreciated, there are too many meaningless items that serve as easter eggs and little else. Inventory management for those that explore can become a tedious exercise in sorting out the useful items from the dearth of junk. Things are labeled as 'junk' but it would be nice to know it immediately upon finding these types of items (I got excited to somehow use a Terrence Doll as a weapon but alas it was 'junk').

Rounding things out is an enjoyable (and ridiculous) story that feels like a 15-20 hour version of the show. Laughs are constant, and the elements of the show are communicated extremely well due to Matt and Trey's significant involvement. It really compels the player (and particularly the fans) to completion and without spoiling it, the ending hits a ridiculous climax worthy of some of the best episodes.

On the whole, South Park is a quality title mixed with a great license and the right effort from its creators. The involvement of Matt and Trey shows, and Obsidian's dedication to honoring the show and its esteem emanates from the very beginning. Outside of some pacing issues and some not wholly interesting segments/exploration, the game is a very enjoyable title that's worth the wait and an absolute must play for fans.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

5.0

WRC 3 F1A World Rally Championship is a racing video game made by Milestone. This game is a mediocre game all around and although never completely bad it is also never completely good either, it just kind of... is.

To WRC 3's credit, the game tries hard to emphasize the spirit and technical skills of the sport. It has a heavy focus on control and adaptability in attempting to mimic the real life sport, but sometimes failing in the attempt. The race locations are all from the current years events, and the top racers from the sport lend their name to the title. Every team competing, with their drivers and cars, are available to play, as well as a very large selection of other vehicles from which to choose and unlock. The whole racing scene is reasonably accurately modeled, but so it was in WRC 2, so it is not much of an upgrade.

One big, but perhaps understandable mistake this title made was in assuming that everyone who was going to buy this game would be familiar with the rules of the sport. They do not offer any real tutorial and they fail to explain what's going on at any time. You cannot just jump into this game and hope for the best,there are much better racing titles to pick up if you want to do that. This is very bad for the story mode, because you will have no idea what you are doing most of the time, and will find it hard to get your car to do what you want it to do.

The career mode is mainly focused on putting you in the top performing cars and proving who is the better driver. Before every race the game gives you the option to tweak the forward and rear suspension, the gear, as well as the body of the car. There are enough customization options to make veteran and experienced player feel satisfied, but at the same time it does tend to overwhelm the newer players. Almost all of the vehicle handling in this game is very unrealistic, and a lot of the maneuvers feel way too easy to perform, unlike those of a real car. It fails to leave you with any sense of accomplishment. Attempting to finish any race with a lower performing vehicle will leave you frustrated and angered, and needing many tries to complete the track. There are also a host of cars from the 70's and 80's which really do have an authentic look about them.

Graphics wise the game is very good and is in many respects detailed and a pleasing to the eye, and this, the PS3 version, has better graphics because of the better hardware involved. But unfortunately most of the spectators seem lifeless and so the atmosphere of a real race track is not well presented. The scenery also is lacking in quality as the distant backgrounds can appear a little blurred.

A big problem with WRC 3 is that it is way too similar to previous titles and so does not really offer anything new. It is a bland experience, and I would not recommend it.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

8.0

The common complaint about the Madden football series is that each new release is merely a roster update. In essence, argue the critics, it’s the same game regardless of the number behind the name Madden. However, Madden NFL 13 for the Playstation 3 is the exception. Not only is it far from simply a roster update, it is the best Madden game to date and is arguably the best football game available.

In previous installments of the series, Madden football felt stiff. Team introduction were generic, announcers and play-by-play were both mechanical, and all games felt the same regardless if they were the first of the season or the Super Bowl. Bluntly stated, the game presentation was boring and much of the gameplay unless players were playing real-life opponents was stale. This is no longer the case.

In Madden NFL 13 EA has done much to improve the presentation. To be sure, the graphics are roughly the same, but EA has injected much needed life into Madden 13 by adding a television-style presentation that includes orchestra music and CBS graphics, new and unscripted commentary by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz, and numerous other bells and whistles such as on the field chatter. All of this brings players closer to a true football experience. In fact, EA developers have expressed that they wanted Madden NFL 13 to feel familiar, but not familiar in a Madden-sense; instead, they wanted it to feel more familiar to a Sunday afternoon of football. Madden 13 succeeds.

Assisting in this improved presentation is the power of the Infinite Engine, which EA’s much-celebrated physics engine. While to the casual observer there seems to be little difference between last year’s Madden gameplay and this years Madden 13 for the Playstation 3, a closer inspection reveals enormous change. The Infinite Engine has created dozens of new passing trajectories, cut down on so-called psychic cornerbacks and receivers, and eliminated canned tackling sequences. The result is startling: plays never look the same, as the football players’ reaction to hits and tackles are determined by stats, speeds, and angles. Never before has a football game looked so good, which results in it doing a remarkable job of not breaking players’ suspension of disbelief. Of course, with all of these presentation strengths, Madden 13 still has some graphical flaws.

The crowd, although such an important component within the beautifully rendered stadiums, is (once again) an eye sore. Even on a casual glance, it’s clear that the crowd is poorly rendered, as it is overly pixilated and filled with graphical repetitions. It is a glaring weakness that has plagued Madden and most sports games for years, but there is no indication that it will be fixed. Also weakening the presentation in Madden 13 are the grotesquely modelled coaches and referees. Echoing the body type of Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, they negatively stand out among the superbly designed football players.

Madden NFL 13 is an excellent football game. Unlike previous iterations, is a complete package, succeeding both in providing fans with a more fluid gameplay as a result of the Infinite Engine and superb presentation. It is a must for any football fan.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

7.1

Namco Museum Virtual Arcade on the Xbox 360 is a fantastic game and may be fit to those with budget-tight gamers unlike The Orange Box, which was released last year. The Namco Museum includes some terrific games for a modest entry fee. Compared with The Xbox Live Arcade games have classic games that round out the collection which is quite impressive enough in their own right.

There is a wide range content of Pac-Man in the game, including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and a full version of 2007's addictive Pac-Man Championship Edition. Among the latest Pac-Man series are Pac&Pal and Super Pac-Man join two 3D Pac-Man games, Pac-Mania and Pac-Man Arrangement. Pac-Mania is still a mediocre 3D entry from the late '80s, in comparison to Pac-Man Arrangement that is a fully 3D revised of the original Pac-Man game. Both games are new and fresh for the first time players, but it fails to amount to anything beyond more Pac-Man. Super Pac-Man is passed on to the best of the ancient Pac-games included in the Pac-section. In playing the game, you start off with pellets walled off behind closed doors. Then, you eat keys to open gates and then devouring the red pellets hiding inside. You can get bigger in size so it becomes more and more difficult to evade your pursuers. The ghosts return to chase you around and that makes it even more challenging, enjoyable, pleasurable, and gratifying. Pac&Pal is a less-than-original return of the Super Pac-Man gameplay, and is distinguished by the addition of a similarly characterless green friend who wanders the levels and picks up items. The gameplay is slower and the part is not much of a helper.

If you tire of gobbling up pellets with the artist-formerly-known-as Puck-Man, the full Xbox
Live Arcade versions of Galaga and Galaga Legions are included. Anybody who has yet to face the waves of pattern-approaching enemies is almost sure to enjoy tearing through Galaga Legions' five levels. Sure, it's punishing, but within the portfolio of Galaga games on this one disc, you can see what an impressive evolution the game series has undergone during its more than 20-year span. Galaga '88 added colorful new enemies, vibrant backgrounds, and the opportunity to start the game with two ships instead of one. This Galaga Arrangement is clearly the missing link between '88 and Legions. It has large bug bosses, increasingly challenging waves of enemies, and is segmented into enjoyable, progressive levels.

Xevious is part of the collection, as is the classic Dig Dug. When played alongside the included Rally X, New Rally-X shows how relatively indistinguishable the two are. Finally, Mr. Driller Online returns with a functioning online mode. The games formerly released on Xbox Live are playable only via the Xbox Live Arcade section of your dashboard (as long as the disc is inserted). It isn't much of an inconvenience, but it does become tiresome to navigate in and out of menus to work your way around to the games you want to play. The versions included on this disc are fully compatible online (where applicable).

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

8.1

The most important thing in a party game like this is that the mini-games have to be fun, and that is consistently true here. The more-than forty different games offered fit all different kinds of categories, from direct mano-a-mano competitions inside giant gladiator balls, to outrunning gigantic lava waves. The types of actions that are required to win each game are different too, and range from games that force you to mash buttons to win, to games where the fastest, accurate button push wins. The games are generally all fun, and the variety helps keep players coming back for more.

If there is one problem with Fusion Frenzy 2, it would be the tournament mode. Despite the idea being entirely sound of having an intergalactic game show be the reason for your numerous games that you’ll play, the announcer that goes along with this mode makes it entirely no fun to play. That is because he has a limited number of things that he says, and he says those with extremely poor voice-acting. Those phrases, though, will come out of his mouth through all the mini-games you play in this mode, and in between, continuously. It is distracting, to say the least.

If players don’t want to deal with that, there are other ways to play. You can play any mini-game individually, or you can design your own tournament with the 45 mini-games available. There is also an online component which lets you play any of these games online against other, real opponents. Considering that the AI which fills any empty spaces up when you play at home is terrible at the game, it is nice to have a separate option from having three other controllers and three friends over any time you want to play the game.

One of the nice things is how good the mini-games all look. None of them are exceptional in look, but they all do the graphics of the Xbox 360 justice. They also all fit the theme of the futuristic, intergalactic game-show, so it’s a different look than you’re likely used to in the party game world, but it works well considering the games that are in the package.

All told, Fusion Frenzy 2 is rather remarkable for the experience that it brings to players who are looking for a game to play with their friends. There are a lot of options there, so it’s likely that there will be a game for just about anyone. If you have a bunch of people who want to play, and a bunch of controls for them to do so, then this might be one to consider adding to your collection.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

8.0

The common complaint about the Madden football series is that each new release is merely a roster update. In essence, argue the critics, it’s the same game regardless of the number behind the name Madden. However, Madden NFL 13 is the exception. Not only is it far from simply a roster update, it is the best Madden game to date and is arguably the best football game available.

In previous installments of the series, Madden football felt stiff. Team introduction were generic, announcers and play-by-play were both mechanical, and all games felt the same regardless if they were the first of the season or the Super Bowl. Bluntly stated, the game presentation was boring and much of the gameplay unless players were playing real-life opponents was stale. This is no longer the case.

In Madden NFL 13 EA has done much to improve the presentation. To be sure, the graphics are roughly the same, but EA has injected much needed life into Madden 13 by adding a television-style presentation that includes orchestra music and CBS graphics, new and unscripted commentary by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz, and numerous other bells and whistles such as on the field chatter. All of this brings players closer to a true football experience. In fact, EA developers have expressed that they wanted Madden NFL 13 to feel familiar, but not familiar in a Madden-sense; instead, they wanted it to feel more familiar to a Sunday afternoon of football. Madden 13 succeeds.

Assisting in this improved presentation is the power of the Infinite Engine, which EA’s much-celebrated physics engine. While to the casual observer there seems to be little difference between last year’s Madden gameplay and this years Madden 13, a closer inspection reveals enormous change. The Infinite Engine has created dozens of new passing trajectories, cut down on so-called psychic cornerbacks and receivers, and eliminated canned tackling sequences. The result is startling: plays never look the same, as the football players reaction to hits and tackles are determined by stats, speeds, and angles. Never before has a football game looked so good, which results in it doing a remarkable job of not breaking players suspension of disbelief. Of course, with all of these presentation strengths, Madden 13 still has some graphical flaws.

The crowd, although such an important component within the beautifully rendered stadiums, is (once again) an eye sore. Even on a casual glance, it’s clear that the crowd is poorly rendered, as it is overly pixilated and filled with graphical repetitions. It is a glaring weakness that has plagued Madden and most sports games for years, but there is no indication that it will be fixed. Also weakening the presentation in Madden 13 are the grotesquely modeled coaches and referees. Echoing the body type of Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, they negatively stand out among the superbly designed football players.

Madden NFL 13 is an excellent football game. Unlike previous iterations, is a complete package, succeeding both in providing fans with a more fluid gameplay as a result of the Infinite Engine and superb presentation. It is a must for any football fan.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

8.5

The feeling of Max Payne 3 is all in the name. The game is extremely character centric, continuing Max's story from the previous two games. That said, the game does do a brilliant job of developing and exploring Max's character. Story elements are enhanced with many cut-scenes, both short and long, and these are not just glossy cinematics, in fact they are always meaningful and relevant, and effectively enhance the story and the character of Max.

Max Payne 3 is a violent game, gory right down to its very core. The graphics depict the full horror of the damage done by modern weapons, showing in detail bullet wounds, flying limbs and charred flesh, ensuring that fans of blood and guts action will get all they need. It stands out from other such action shooters by emphasizing the vulnerability and desperation of the character. Yes, Max is certainly a badass who never thinks twice about killing hundreds of enemies or blasting rockets from helicopters, but he is not some invincible superhuman who wades trough hailstorms of bullets or shrugs off grenade explosions.

The game mechanics artfully develop this mood throughout the game. The bullet-time and shot-dodge mechanics present the constant feel of narrowly escaping a lethal attack, but they still give players the tools they need to cause serious mayhem. Unlike many other shooters, which cheat realism by providing players with a constant supply of health packs or health bars, that slowly regenerate overtime, the game has no health regeneration mechanics. It is impossible to duck behind a wall and return to full power while the computer enemies wait around haplessly. The AI in Max Payne 3 will keep the pressure coming, and a highly destructible environment means that walls, doors, crates and pillars may not remain dependable bullet shields for any length of time.

Weapon choice is also a serious deal in Max Payne 3. Max may only carry two side-arm weapons and one two-handed weapon at any one time. Players may find they have to make do with whatever weapon choice they selected throughout a level, facing some challenges that such weapons may be suited to, and others that will punish, their choice. This adds yet another layer of realism and desperation to combat. How many real humans would be packing two pistols, an assault rifle, a shotgun, a sub-machine gun and a rocket launcher all at the same time? Max may not have the perfect weapon for every scenario, but he must adapt and endure anyway.

While the story-telling, realism, graphics and characterization of Max Payne 3 is top notch, level design and pacing may irritate some players. The game is intensely linear, and players will constantly feel themselves nudged toward the next objective or cutscene. While the game provides a variety of weapons to choose from, there is rarely more than one or two ways to approach a combat scenario. The game has a distinct emphasis on direct assaults and mayhem, and it may leave players who enjoy stealthy, tactical approaches wanting.

Taken together, Max Payne 3 is an amazing addition to the action-shooter genre and sets a new precedent for characterization and drama in the video game medium.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

3.8

Bleach is a game about a young man who has the gift to see dead people. He met a young spirit ninja who was sent down to earth to hunt down corrupted souls that victimize every lost soul they find along the way. The young man absorbed the powers of the ninja spirit and took on his task of capturing hollows. In the beginning of the game, you need to choose one of the three characters and start with what this game calls episode mode.

There are specific goals at the start of each episode which you have to complete in order to get to the next stage. The fight scenes can be exciting if not for the four major pitfalls; the cut-scenes or mere, immobile pictures/frames with voice-over; the dumb, repetitive dialogues; the poor gameplay and of course the game loading which could take forever and bore players to the core.

The use of remote in this game is quite simple which can be good for beginners. The critical attacks are impressive since they are fast and cannot be blocked by your enemies but you can block incoming strikes from opponents. If you and your enemy happen to perform critical blocks at the same time, you get into a best of five and if you beat your opponent, you get to hit him and collect his health. These fight scenes becomes cyclical as you go through different episodes but if you have already filled up your power gauge, fight scenes becomes an option called bankai mode. In bankai mode, your chosen character becomes more powerful and can perform deadly attacks in an instant.

Shattered Blade also allows you to play in an arcade mode with a character in the game or with a friend. Arcade mode has eight matches which can be thrilling for those who love to play in arcades. Another positive thing about this game is its graphics. The colors are vibrant and the characters are garbed in intense, colorful clothing. But aside from the mentioned points, Shattered Blade is such a waste of time and money, more so because it costs $50, a far cry when it doesn’t even deserve a dollar from your pocket. Its dialogues are rubbish and spoken with a voice that sounds so horrible. The plot is so lame, the fight scenes are also weak and the controls are a big inaccurate joke. If you want to fall asleep while playing, you can get this game at your nearest Wii outlet, otherwise, just forget this game ever existed.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

7.0

This release is a set of twelve titles that were created in the Command & Conquer universe. They include everything with the C&C name, from the original Command & Conquer, to the single FPS in that universe, Renegade, to the more modern-day RTS games Generals and Tiberian Sun. In between, there is the alternate-universe Red Alert, with its storyline that involves Einstein going back in time to kill Hitler, which allows the Soviets to rise to power against the Allied forces, and the second one in that timeline, Yuri's Revenge. All told, there's a lot of gameplay in this package.

One of the nice things about this compilation is that all of the games are recent enough that modern-day systems and operating systems should have no problem getting them up and running. Compilations where the earliest game doesn’t work in a new operating system always disappoint, and this one fortunately misses that threat. Even though the games all started up pretty easily, there were some issues relating to multiplayer play on the earlier games. Considering that RTS play against humans is a pretty vital component, it would have been nice to see the people putting the games together try harder to ensure multiplayer would work, but it’s not a requirement, and there is a workaround figured out by the online community.

Another aspect missing from the originals was the involved installation screens. The team that created this compilation chose to use the standard Windows installation screens to install all 12 games, and it’s unfortunate that they didn'’t include one of the elements of the original games that set them apart from other RTSs of the time.

One thing I noticed in playing through all these old favorites once again was the obvious progression of RTS elements through the years. Waypoints, units taking paths around obstacles, rally points, these are all things that come as you play further down the line, until you end up at C&C Generals, the 3D entrant to the series. This, along with the expansion to Generals, Zero Hour, tops off the list, and leaves any true RTS fan wanting more.

While the C&C universe has brought us some solid games over the years, they were never really cutting edge in either the technology or the gameplay elements that they brought to the table. What was continually handed to gamers, and is handed out again with Command & Conquer The First Decade, was a solid gameplay that made the best use of established gameplay and graphics of each successive generation. Playing through this historical journey is sure to wet your whistle for the next generation of C&C games down the line.

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Posted:
2013-05-27

9aah

Super Gamer Dude

6.7

Nitro games has certainly proven that they are more than open to any new ideas, as with their previous games East India Company, they certainly tried their very best to give the players a deep and also very in-depth trading type simulator that was set on the background of India’s colonization and also the rise of the very famous East India Companies.

Though that game wasn’t at all perfect, it was indeed a very pleasant concept and also proved to be addictive as well as satisfying. Of course the developers also knew that it wasn’t as good as it could have possible been and in order to improve it, they asked for feedback from the fans of the game.

So when they came up with Commander: Conquest of the Americas, they certainly did a bang-up job. This time instead of setting it in India they decided to set it up in 16TH century America instead. Being the player, you can take the reins and be in control of one of the major European powers at that time and you can do this with your small army fleet and some rather stinky peasants. With these on tow, you can set out and try to take control of the New World.

If this game seems familiar to you, try not to compare it with other games that are of the same ilk and instead try to compare it to its predecessor instead and you will really see the beauty of this game. The developers have included the things that they wished they had put in the older game and this is why this certain game proves to be very entertaining and surpasses its predecessor.

There really are no big changes with EIC and while you may think that this is a bad thing, you have to remember that older games that have newer versions are also the same. This is just a more improved version of its predecessor and yet has taken huge leaps and huge bounds in its development.

When they set about developing EIC, the developers went out to a vast number of things. One of them was to streamline interface of the game. Another was that they improved the way the trading systems working mechanics added to that, they made sure to improve on the longevity of the game and also add more depth to it especially when it comes towards the end part of the game. It has to be said that they did improve on those areas but one has to ask if perhaps those improvements are enough to make this game a true winner.

One way for you to find out is to try out this game and see how it compares to the one that came before it. If you haven’t played the previous game, well then this might just be what you need to try out so that you can compare the two more accurately and to truly appreciate the changes that EIC has undergone.


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