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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

PC Games

8.6

Star Wars: Empire at War is a strategy game that can poses real challenges to the gamer. The battles are just as epic as in the books and movies, the sound effects are just what you would expect, the play styles of Rebellion and Empire are effectively contrasted, and the many heroes involved in Rebellion and Empire serve well for the gameplay. There is a downside though, the land battles are not as exciting, and they can get repetitive. Nevertheless, it's all good. Star Wars was known more for the space battles, not those made on land.

For the record, I am a Star Wars fanatic, have been since I first saw it way back when I was only 11 years. Yes, I saw the original, untouched version of Star Wars and found myself in the movie house no less than 10 times. Through the years I have seen attempts to make the franchise a computer game and they did not catch my attention until Star Wars: Empire at War. To date, this is the best that has ever been developed and it is a relief that it was.

The action takes place on land and in outer space. The Rebellion game play is different from that of the Empire gameplay so that was a relief as well. I do not know how I would have reacted if the developers did not make it so. The strategy game is well developed and even for those not familiar with the story line can still go through the game and find it exciting and challenging.

The action is set to real time so this means that the action taking place in the Empire will happen at the same time as that of the Rebellion. There are maps to show the planets giving the player the options to use their space ports and it can also show the defense systems on the land as well as those structures which can be used by the alliance.

The gamers have to be on the lookout for those planets that offer little bit of extra in terms of economics and power. The costs would have to be spent using credits but these cannot just be used haphazardly. There are rules to follow, policies that need to be respected before any costs can be paid up.

The downside, as mentioned previously, involved the land battles. They do not look as exciting and as much fun as the space battles are, but that is just to be expected. Even the books and movies dwelt more on space battles rather than those on land. Controlling the attack forces on land, from out in space, can also be a bit tricky and would involve a lot of strategy. Then there are times when the tasks can be a bit repetitive, but then nothing is perfect.

In the end, Star Wars Empire at War truly delivers the Rebellion and Empire wars that fans of all ages expect from the popular franchise. It is well developed, fun, exciting, and challenging. Truly, the presentation alone won my heart. My recommendation: buy it, it is worth the money, and the time spent playing.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

PC Games

9.0

Star Wars: The Old Republic (or SWTOR) represented an ambitious effort on Bioware's part. The famed developer, best known for plot and dialogue-heavy titles such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect, promised that gamers would experience a massively multiplayer game with unparalleled scope, with a prominent focus on plot and character development. Given the rather stagnant nature of story-telling present in the online gaming landscape, it was uncertain whether or not Bioware would be capable of living up to their word. After years in development and with fan expectations reaching a staggering height, SWTOR was finally released in December of 2011. But did it live up to expectations, or did it fade into MMO obscurity?

While perhaps not living up to every hope, SWTOR, nonetheless, represents a functional shift in story-telling possibilities within an online title. The Star Wars universe makes for a fantastic setting, appealing to a large demographic of both casual fans and dedicated enthusiasts. Bioware does an admirable job in staying true to the franchise while introducing plenty of original content and characters. But perhaps the greatest accomplishment in SWTOR is the fact that you actually care about the story and characters introduced.

Most MMOs feature sub-par plots that act as a means of acquainting the player with various game mechanics. Functional gameplay systems have always trumped compelling plotlines in MMOs, and SWTOR bravely breaks the mold. Characters and actions have depth and lasting consequence. The dialogue system implemented in-game is comparable to that of, say, Mass Effect's, allowing for similar branching conversations and choices. This obviously works if playing solo, but in group settings, it's adapted to allow for functionality with a simple tweak; each player selects a response, and the game rolls numbers for each player. The player with the highest number rolled is given 'priority' in that their response is chosen.

Being an MMO, comparisons to World of Warcraft are inevitable. There's no denying that some quests and aspects of gameplay draw inspiration from the MMO kingpin, yet SWTOR features a more robust, action-oriented combat style that suits the title beautifully. Wielding a lightsaber in combat would feel nowhere near as immersive if the bulk of combat was relegated to an auto-combat system or queued. While combat is undoubtedly a point in the game's favor, other areas - namely crafting, which isn't exactly intuitive - aren't executed with quite the same finesse. Crafting and user interface are two examples of designs within the title that just aren't as seamless as they could be. Regardless, the bulk of content is extremely well-implemented, and updates since launch have already set to work on fixing what isn't.

SWTOR had impossibly high expectations, and has managed to succeed in toppling a number of them. It represents an admirable shift in focus for MMORPGs at no cost to functionality or playability. It's a truly entertaining title, and a treat for fans. Prepare to live out your fantasy in a galaxy far, far away.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

7.9

Taking a much loved literary series and movie franchise and turning it into a successful video game can be a tricky proposition, but Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 for the Nintendo Wii manages to accomplish the task with relative ease. The title is a one or two player co-op adventure that allows the players to explore the world of the famous boy wizard that was revealed through the first four books and movies.

Gameplay is centered on exploring the Hogwarts castle and grounds because that area serves as the launching point for each level of the game. The castle and grounds are huge, but the game takes full advantage of whatever horsepower the Wii can conjure up because the graphics and sound are top notch and could have come right out of the films themselves.

The control scheme is pretty simple, at first because of the usual combination of Wii remote controller and Nunchuk dictate movement, jumping, spell casting, and all other player moves. The game uses a submenu, easily controlled by the Nunchuk, to select individual spells collected through playing. The spell casting menu is a bit difficult to control at first, but fortunately becomes second nature after spending some time on the game.

The biggest asset of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is the familiar and famous characters that players get to control. Exploring the world of Harry Potter as Harry or Ron is one thing, but walking around as Dumbledore or an evil wizard is something altogether different. In typical Lego game fashion, players start out with limited character options but can unlock other characters by redeeming studs and discovering new faces around the Hogwarts grounds.

Those unlockable features are what makes the addictive gameplay of the game. Players need to find owl posts and collect as many studs as possible to get bonus abilities, like invulnerability, that make the game easier and a bit more fun to play. The co-op nature of the game requires players to work together to solve certain puzzles, which only enhances the need for certain special abilities or characters to be unlocked and playable. Luckily, this only adds to the fun of the game.

One issue in particular that changes things up for players is the split screen that occurs when players are far apart. At first the split screen can be a bit frustrating because the play area gets shrunk by nearly half for both players; however, after a few sessions, this issue becomes invaluable because both players can explore areas of the level or the castle without having to be in close proximity to each other.

All things considered, Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is a fun game that doubles as a platformer and a puzzle game. This combination has served several Lego titles well, and it does complete justice to this particular game. Players will spend hours combing through the world of Harry Potter and facing down the challenges the famous character encountered, which makes for some familiar and entertaining days and nights.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

7.0

To be completely honest, I'm surprised to even see a copy of Sleeping Dogs sitting on my desk. Initially a True Crime game, it was cancelled and then eventually revived into its current incarnation. In other words, suffice it to say expectations were rather low when I first booted up this game. Despite my initial hesitance though, Sleeping Dogs is a rather good open world crime game in a market that is no longer flooded with them.

There's not really anything inherently wrong with Sleeping Dogs other than the fact that it stays very close to the mould created by the open world games that have preceded it. As is usual for these games, the core game play consists of driving around in a car that may or not belong to you, shooting some guys and doing some missions that contribute to a larger story that sticks to the same tired cliches that crime game and movies have been sticking to for countless years. Sleeping Dogs in particular follows the "Undercover cop questions his allegiances" plot just about as closely is possible, and while there are a few interesting characters involved, they can't rescue a terribly generic plot.

That being said, Sleeping Dogs is not without its unique elements. The melee combat system of the game, an afterthought in most third person action games, is the most interesting feature to be found in Sleeping Dogs. The system borrows its core elements from Batman: Arkham Asylum, allowing for blocks, counters, and disarms, along with a difficulty that slowly ramps up as you get further into the game.

In addition, while the story does tend to follow overused story beats, it takes place in a Yakuza infested Hong Kong, a far cry from the extremely generic American city found in your standard GTA type game. Even small touches brought about by this setting such as having to drive on the left side of the road instead of the right make the game unique and interesting.

On the other side of the coin, the excellent melee combat seems to have come at the cost of the gunplay. The moment you pick up a gun in Sleeping Dogs, you can almost feel the game taking a turn for the worst. Aiming never feels consistent, particularly when getting out of cover. The shooting isn't particularly terrible, but after spending several hours with the melee, it simply does not seem up to par with the rest of the game.

Realistically, you probably are not going to be playing much Sleeping Dogs after you complete the story once, and that sentiment echoes my feelings on the game as a whole. Sleeping Dogs is that kind of game that really is not exceptional in any way, but remains an extremely fun ride the entire time that you play it. In the case of Sleeping Dogs, the game has some extremely enjoyable core mechanics and a few great characters that rise to the surface amidst a sea of blandness.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

8.0

To move the pieces, you just press the A button and move it using the D pad. If you press B, you will cancel your move or display the menu that gives you the option to quit, get hints, save your current games and do other related functions. There is also an option that would allow you to receive hints and ideal moves when you highlight a particular piece. On the screen, a timer is displayed to provide you and your opponent an idea on how much time its taking both of you to do your moves. There is also a sort of reviewer on the side of the screen that enables you to check recent moves.

Chess allows you to play on a single mode. There are actually ten levels of difficulty and the higher your level gets, the degree of difficulty naturally increases. It also allows you to play offline or online. Offline chess is more like an actual chess game only that with Wii, you and your opponent need to use the controller to execute your moves. The game warns you about illegal moves and it also does not provide an area for you to cheat.

On the other hand, playing Chess online is what this game is all about. You just have to hook your Wii to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and you are all set to invite and play with your friends all over the world or find someone your match online. There are two options for you to choose from when playing online, one provides five minutes and the other one provides 20 minutes to each player to strategize and do the moves to beat his opponent.

The downside about Wii Chess is that it doesn’t have a correspondence option so you won’t be able to communicate with your opponent even when you are both online and this is also sad because Wii has a built-in messaging system. If this system could be utilized, it would boost this game’s popularity. For the good part, this game allows you to save up 20 finished matches so you can review your strengths and weaknesses and hit the start or stop controls whenever you want to.

In general, Wii Chess remains to be a good choice if you want a healthy chess game. Although it lacks some features that would make it even more commendable like motion sensors and correspondence options, its sound game options enhances the game to make its players feel like they are playing professionally and Wii Chess is also a good game for starters as it does not require complicated set ups.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

8.5

There have been a lot of movies turned into games and didnÂ’t quite succeed, and had given people less to expect from the same deal. It was announced that Electronic Arts would be making a game based on a movie, The Godfather. Although may be a bit risky especially for a movie title adored for all time. Electronic Arts really tried their best to pull it off. Good thing they did it well, with the different platform releases. So, as Playstation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC version was a big hit, itÂ’s time for the WiiÂ’s version of the game. Although it is the same game, there are noticeable and enhanced tweaks done for the WiiÂ’s version. As for the movie goes, the gameÂ’s giving it a much respectable applaud as well. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition.

With WiiÂ’s unique controls, there is no wonder it would be a totally different experience when you played in a different platform. With the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, you get the advantage of getting the feel of the game like making the gestures and doing some punches. Though it is not perfect, sometimes it might not respond to your gesture right away, so might need to get familiar with the exact gestures what action suits you the best.

As normal game goes, you start at the bottom working your way up to be the Don of New York. The Character didnÂ’t really appear in the movies but still, gives you the feel of connection of the concept. The Don of New York of that period held you in his wings and will be teaching you how to be a true mobster.

You will be going through a lot of mob fights and rivalry. Have missions regarding killing someone of getting something from someone.. As typical as it gets, Grand Theft Auto Series might be familiar when playing this game. You can run around town, shooting people at random, steal vehicles, or just goof around looking for a senseless fight and getting chased, both enemies and police. You will have badge icon indications which help you know how youÂ’ve been doing with the authority. These games are really not for kids, specially this game. The story is serious with a mix of suspense and action, nostalgic with the movie. There youÂ’ll have the a gambling den, Extorting businesses, and a lot of illegal rackets. And different thing about with WiiÂ’s version is that you can bribe the police to stop chasing you down. Unlike from another platform which didnÂ’t have this idea.

With the Wii remote and nunchuk controller, it really built a different feel for your liking. You can manually use the gun to aim where the wii remote is aiming. Picking up people and punching with gestures. Although graphic-wise. ItÂ’s not didnÂ’t outstand from the other Wii games. But definitely not noticeable on the long run because youÂ’ll be busy with the actual gameplay. Overall, itÂ’s a great game that was developed with confidence and did its fair share out from the movie.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

6.9

The game will take you back to the days when television was all game-shows and situational comedy, and the word reality hadnÂ’t even been thought up yet. It features your standard TV game show host, a shapely model of a co-host, and up to four contestants going wild on stage. After a question is answered, players have to select from the multiple choices available for the correct answer. Since there are multiple people playing, you also have to select the correct answer the fastest, since that is what gets the most points. If you select the correct answer after someone else has, youÂ’ll get less points, but at least youÂ’ll be right. ThatÂ’s just one of the ways this game balances out trivia knowledge.

In addition to being able to ride on your friendsÂ’ answers, there is also an option after every round called the wheel of chance. If anyone that is playing decides that they want to use the wheel then everyone has to use the wheel. This can really slow down the game, since spinning the wheel can either increase the amount of money you have, or can make you lose everything. Generally, anyone who is behind the leader is going to want to spin the wheel each round, leading to a game that is more based on luck than on any amount of trivia knowledge.

There is also the fact that later on in the game, there are little sub-games that will hide one, or more, of the answers. Through such methods as directing a looking glass onto the screen to show what the answers are, to scratching off answers like a lotto ticket, this other method of balancing out the game turnÂ’s trivia knowledge into less of a weapon in the game, and more of a hindrance.

On the bright side, there is extensive Mii support in the game, so your character will be able to stand in and play for you on the show. The expressions that are provided are also very expressive. This game does an excellent job of getting your Mii to react like they would, and itÂ’s very entertaining to watch. Another positive thing about the game is that there are a ton of TV trivia questions in it, allowing people to play for hours and hours before the questions start repeating.

While the problems with TV Show King donÂ’t make it unplayable, the do make it less of a party trivia game, and more of a group video game, but thereÂ’s still a lot of party-aspect to it, enough that itÂ’ll likely keep you and your friends and family enjoying it for a night, at least.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

7.8

For over 20 years Punch-Out! has been a source of exciting gameplay and intense action. The brawls are weirdly fun but it is just as addicting as the first version. There are around thirteen fighters who challenge the player into exhilarating and exciting fights. Other than the unbalanced board, this is still a source of good fun.

The goal is to become the Punch-Out! champion and once that is reached, there is a fight to defend the title several times. DonÂ’t think that simply because you will meet the fighters you defeated again that you can get over them with the usual moves though. They learned what your moves were and know how to evade them. This adds more challenge to the gameplay and you may need to calm down a bit to learn new moves and use them wisely so you can defeat your challengers. You need to find the weaknesses of the challengers and until you do you canÂ’t defeat them, so prepare to get defeated!

In the Punch-Out! Wii version there is a two-player mode. DonÂ’t expect too much out of it though; it is quite ridiculous, but weirdly fun. Here you cannot avoid the punches, you just have to keep on hitting and take advantage of any opening if you can. It is not a really deep game, but is antes up the challenge and fun a lot. Prepare to clean up the mess you create while in playing this mode, any sodas can get tipped over in the excitement of the game.

Punch-Out! may be a familiar game, but replaying it is not monotonous at all. This Wii version is a fantastic upgrade to an old and familiar game. The intensity of the fights are more than expected and just as rewarding when you get to win the challenges. You need to be constantly on your toes with this version with all the learning the challengers do along the way. You cannot just stick to one move all the time; remember they learn so you need to learn as well. This is probably why it is more intense because there really is a need to step back and observe how to get over the challengers and win.

If you are looking for fun, excitement and a lot of challenges, then the Punch-Out! Wii is the game for you. The balance board may be difficult and disappointing and the motion controls exhausting, but that just adds to the charm of the game. If you want entertainment value you get it with this game with no problem. Playing it again and again is not monotonous either because of all the learning involved.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

6.2

Call of Duty is a name that has found its place in the gaming world as one of the all-time most popular FPS (first person shooters). This is the third game on the Modern Warfare line, but the eighth game on the Call of Duty title as a whole. The game definitely has a more realistic approach to the first person shooting genre than some of the other competitors out there (ie., the Halo series). The weapons, vehicles, and scenery all give the player a sense of warfare that is reminiscent to that of real life combat.

Now for the Gameplay.

There are two modes of gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, single-player campaign and multi-player. Single-player campaigns in Call of Duty are notorious for being short, albeit exciting. Modern Warfare 3 is no exception. You'll control a war hero who guides a team through a rain of bullets and explosives fired from masses of terrorists. Your team may die in the process, but most of the time it doesn't effect your primary objective: keep yourself alive. You'll use a host of different weaponry: snipers, sub-machine guns, and rocket launchers to kill off the enemies. The end result in many of the campaign missions is the player reaching the objective as the sole survivor after a series of bloody battles. The campaign as a whole is very interactive and fast paced, and usually takes about six to seven hours to complete.

The multi-player, on the other hand, is endless. Ever since online multi-player was added to the Call of Duty series, the game started selling big. Many owners of the game neglect the campaign, and bought the game for the sole reason of enjoying the multi-player experience. You'll start out on multi-player with just a few weapons with new ones becoming available as you gain experience through victories and kills. One of the huge draws to the multi-player mode is the ability for the player to customize a series of classes that he/she can choose from to engage in online battles. The class system allows you to choose weapons, gear, and perks that you'll spawn with. There are nearly endless possibilities for customization.

The killstreak system in multi-player got a total re-haul from Modern Warfare 2. Instead of the traditional "get rewards for your kills" system, Modern Warfare 3 breaks it down into three different modes: assault, support, and specialist. The assault follows the same routine as the original system and rewards you by kill count. The support mode tallies up actions and kills between lives and bestows you rewards that benefit the team as a whole, like the UAV. The specialist stands unique in that the rewards are not guns or UAV's, but the player becomes faster, stronger and bullets deal more damage.

Overall, the game is a great buy. The campaign is short, but the multi-player more than compensates for that. The player will play endless hours of online battles all the while gaining upgrades and abilities that make it feel completely satisfying and worthwhile.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

Xbox 360

7.1

F.E.A.R. was a great example of a fantastic first shooter game. The fear factor was high in the previous game which lent a thrilling chill when shooting the enemies. This fear factor was much in demand and a lot of the fans wanted more. Not to disappoint, the developers, Sierra, increase the fear in F.E.A.R.

There is really no need to feel that you have to play the older version, F.E.A.R. Files can stand on its own. It is merely an extension of the older version, yes, but the atmosphere which surrounds the game is anted up.

There is an Extraction Point where the gamer returns as the point man from the original game and this is where the action immediately picks up. The climactic ending of the previous game becomes the beginning of Files and once again, the gamer is in the middle of Auburn City, once again surrounded by clone soldiers and some ghostly phenomena. However, instead of trying to get to the bottom of the whole thing, the gamer simply tries to battle out of the city. Extraction Point is getting out and this is exactly what the gamer is trying to do. There is a lot of running, a lot of shooting and a lot of F.E.A.R.

Files has a new character, this is true, but this really does not matter, there is enough action to point the gamer out of the city. Unfortunately, Perseus Mandate is really ugly in this version which makes the whole look of the game disappointing.

The single player campaign is not the only mode to play. There is also the instant action mode which allows the gamer to battle computer controlled enemies. The plot remains the same, the gamer has to find the first exit out of that city, safely.

There is a multiplayer option which can offer the gamer basically the same things found in the previous version. The downside is that there are not a lot of players online for the multiplayer option. Somehow, this is one option which is not very popular. This means that the single player mode rules in Files.

In conclusion, F.E.A.R. Files is a solid game which clearly satisfies the need for more atmospheric games in the fans that had first experienced it in the original game. For those who have never played this before, it really does not matter which game is played, they both rock. However, from this gamersÂ’ point of view, it would be best to go through the first game and then onto Files. This way, the player can experience the full gamut of fear which only F.E.A.R. Files can deliver. Is this game recommended? Yes, for those who love single player modes. However, I hesitate to recommend this for the multiplayer fans because of the lack of members in the online community.


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