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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

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

8.0

The fact that the developers at Traveller's Tales have waited so long to transform the Lord of the Rings trilogy into a LEGO game is at first surprising. But since 2005 and the release of LEGO Star Wars, Traveller's Tales has tweaked and expanded their simple formula of taking well loved movie franchises and reinterpreting them into simple LEGO puzzle/action games into an epic art. Seven years ago The Lord of the Rings franchise would have been reduced to ten playable levels per movie. The best part though of LEGO Lord of the Rings is the gorgeous and faithful open world. Traveller's Tale's base formula would have grown tiresome fast if they had simply leaned on the Lord of the Rings films' appeal to sell games, but their devotion to the source material, and utilization of simple yet effective gameplay mechanics, makes LEGO: Lord of the Rings a solid entry for LEGO and Lord of the Rings devotees alike.

The look of this game is as inventive and amusing as any other LEGO reimagining, continuing the tradition from LEGO STar Wars III, The Clone Wars, however, Traveller's Tale include vistas and elements which appear closer to diaramas than LEGO sets. The variety is good and allows the visuals to really capture from the movies what LEGO blocks cannot.

Gameplay in the LEGO games has always broken down to simple puzzles and light boss battles, mixed together in a very straightforward way. Where previous LEGO games have differed though, is that instead of offering a level by level recreation of the feature films, the world of the films is recreated for the player to explore. This is an invitation to nostalgia. Many players will find more pleasure in exploring the detailed world of Middle Earth for every last collectible than playing the game's vanilla story missions. Not that there is anything wrong with the story missions specifically. They are well worth playing in order to enjoy the always amusing cutscenes. The developers have always had a loving sense of humor toward these beloved characters and franchises. The humor in this game is no different. The majority of the enjoyment in the story missions also comes from replay. LEGO games might be the most jam packed full of collectibles and hidden extras of any franchise ever. After finishing a level for the first time, the real fun begins. Freeplay mode allows players to go through any level with any character they want. This unlocks a whole new layer of puzzles and hidden goodies to uncover. Every unlockable character has unique abilities which are worth experimenting with.

LEGO Lord of the Rings is not the most faithful recreation of the Lord of the Rings universe, but it is certainly the best. Other attempts to adapt Lord of the Rings into a video game have failed mostly because they all got away from what makes an adaptation great. There is a secret Traveller's Tale knows and should stamp on the back of every license developer's eyelids, take what is there, and have fun with it.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

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. Don’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 can’t defeat them, so prepare to get defeated!

In the Punch-Out! Wii version there is a two-player mode. Don’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

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:
2013-12-05

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

7.5

Watch Dogs is an open world action/adventure action game from the same makers as the successful Sleeping Dogs, Ubisoft Montreal, and published by Ubisoft.

Players take the part of an Irish vigilante character named Aiden Pierce living in a stylized version of Chicago. Aiden has the knowledge and expertise to regularly hack into the government's CtOS, otherwise known as the City's Central Operating System, a system that runs every technical aspect of the entire city. His knowledge gives Aiden the power to hack everything from bank accounts, public and private records and smartphones to traffic lights and street cameras. Aiden must use this technical know how and everything else he can in a mission to assassinate a media mogul named Joseph DeMarco, who has been acquitted of charges of a murder which he in fact committed.

Watch Dogs allows players access to an open world where they can free roam around many areas. They can use the central operating system to cause traffic jams or even major car collisions or other disruption as a distraction from his real mission. Players can make useful being able to hack into the system to avoid being located by the authorities. The city is literally under the player's control at any given time during the game.

Watch Dogs offers more than just computer hacking and hijacking technology, even though that is the main point of the game. Players can enjoy taking care of business in the city their own way. Players have access to many different weapons, super fast cars, and powerful computers.

In the online multiplayer mode, game players also have the challenge of finding hidden characters that they didn't realize were in the game, which works by one player secretly taking the place of another player or steal another's identity, without the second player realizing. Things can get a little complicated. When online, players will be able to hack into other player's information and use that to their advantage. They can go around the game committing crimes and causing problems without drawing attention to their own character.

With such a novel technological emphasis and amazing game play, players may be left wondering if the game is lacking anywhere else. The answer to that question is no, Ubisoft has worked hard to make sure all of the graphics are of amazing quality. They have continually pushed back the release date so they can make sure Watch Dogs is completely ready with no issues before it was publicly released. It is released for most systems including the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and the Wii U.

Watch Dogs has beautiful, stunning views along with great story lines. After playing Sleeping Dogs and comparing it to this game, I found it every bit as good and I can say with confidence that Watch Dogs will be a new best selling game.

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Posted:
2013-12-17

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

8.0

Featuring player characters who are either plumbers or strange mushroom people, and journeying through lands that turn you into a flying squirrel simply by touching acorns, it will surprise absolutely no one to learn a Mario game is peculiar. Even Mario DLC is strange.

That's what New Super Luigi U is. Though you can buy the game in a retail package, like most DLC, it was designed to be downloaded and played as a companion to the main game. New Luigi U contains nearly the same multi-player setup, graphics, sounds, and game mechanics from its brother title, New Super Mario Bros. U. Although there's an unlockable that will take players a step closer to Mario, you can't actually play as the more famous brother. As a piece that fits into a whole, it is prudent to keep in mind that the levels are shorter, and while multiplayer is available, elements like the Challenge Mode are not.

While some levels are modifications of earlier ones into significantly altered forms, others are entirely brand new. What they all share is a 100 second time limit and a tall, lanky, green, skittish, mustachioed coward who sweats out "Whew! I did it!" when you make it through. Like Mario U, this is an adventure through 80 or so levels of 2D platforming. Unlike Mario U, Nintendo's designers seem to have been cackling like mad scientists while making it.

Whether you will enjoy it has little to do with how much you enjoy flipping and flopping through bizarrely fantastic physical landscapes that play out like Rube Goldberg machines filtered through the minds of Roald Dahl, Salvador Dali and Hello Kitty, which is a "typical" Mario experience. It has more to do with whether you're the type of player who can enjoy mastering extremely precise demands on your trigger finger. These demands play out like being asked to thread a hyper, wobbling needle through a hole that's doing the limbo while drunk. If you don't like trying again when you don't succeed the first few times, Luigi U may be a little intense and cause anger issues.

(And if you just find it too unbelievably cruel, there is a secret that allows you to play as usually multi-player-only character Nabbit. This guy is a strange thief who appeared in the original as an enemy. He can't be hit by enemies or collect power-ups, which is like entering an invincibility mode of sorts.)

This is not to say the levels are poorly designed. Each stage is devoted to the idea of the younger brother's wonky momentum. A bevy of surprises and laughs are waiting for those who appreciate that Nintendo is top of the class for making these types of games. However, considering how much more the levels bear repetition, it would have been nice if there was an easier way to repeat them without going through multiple, irritating steps.

Just like Luigi himself, this game is New Super Mario Bros. U's lesser-known, more unique, loopier brother.

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

8.2

Many gamers out there like to play shoot and kill games with nothing much going for it in terms of plot or depth of characters. With Nightfall Mysteries Asylum Conspiracy, this is a game where you have to be determined to complete the game or risk the chance of not sleeping anyways.

The plot is on a remote island where an asylum is said to be located. Grandpa Charles was last seen on the island and you are determined to find out where he is while having to experience the mystery and suspense of the search.

When you get to the island, you find yourself looking at an abandoned hospital which curiously holds a big population consisting of ranting and raving patients who may or may not know about your grandfather; then there is that brother and sister who seem familiar to you and yet you can't quite place from where you knew them from; there is even a police officer who is investigating the mystery surrounding the death of his wife. Add on the mysterious doctor who is too good to be true and is as sleazy as can be. You need to figure out how to put all of these people together to find out where your grandfather was last seen and his relationship with the mysterious lot.

Nightfall Mysteries Asylum Conspiracy was obviously well throughout as a game of puzzle, mystery, and suspense. You, as the grandson, will go through the hospital and experience the horrors and mysteries which you need to uncover and pick up bits and pieces of items that can help you find your grandfather. The game is a little short, but the suspense more than makes up for the lack of time.

There are so many tasks you need to accomplish before you can even enter the hospital like getting an ID (whatever for? It is abandoned supposedly), and you need to guess a password to get in. then there is the demon door which you need to get through. It can be quite annoying and frustrating at times, but it just adds on to the appeal of the game. You may have to make use of your notebook a lot through the game for this will hold the hints that will help you complete the game levels, one by one.

For gamers who like mystery, suspense and horror, Nightfall Mysteries Asylum Conspiracy is a wonderful game to add to the collection. It hits the nerves directly which just antes up the suspense and the determination of the player to continue and complete the game levels. The only downside is that the game is a little short for my taste, but it can be lengthy for the yellow blooded. This is the perfect experience for those who love mystery games and sweat out fear in the process. Good One!

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Posted:
2013-05-29

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

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

5.8

The story of the game has to do with the continent of North America being split down the middle between the Pacificians and the Atlantic Alliance. The West Coast ended up choosing to allow DNA alteration, while the East Coast banned genetic engineering and chose the route of cybernetics instead. When the Pacificians can't take the ban on genetic engineering any more, they secede, and the Atlantic Alliance sends you, Jet Brody, to bring back the renegade general leading the separation.

This third-person shooter plays very similar to other games of its sort. When you take cover, your health regenerates. You get to shoot machine guns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and other implements of distant death. You get to drive around on an All Terrain Vehicle in between shooting at foes. One thing that is different about this game, however, is that you are able to terraform the ground with your guns and grenades. You can use this feature to move the terrain up, or down. This is used in the game to help complete a couple of traps, and to find hidden items throughout the levels, and in a couple places to kill enemies, but that's it. Generally, too, the game points out any opportunity to use the skill to take out targets, so there goes your chance to feel like you pulled off a sweet move with it. While it's an interesting feature to check out, it doesn't really add a lot to the gameplay.

That's too bad, too, because the gameplay could use a little adding to. It mostly consists of fighting off the enormous number of enemies that the game throws at you. Spending time fighting through the same section over and over again to reach another save point would be the most rewarding part of the whole experience, except that you end up doing it again in the very next section. That makes the yellow goo that comes along with each head shot the most rewarding part of the game.

The visuals in the game definitely make a person feel like they are a couple hundred years in the future, if that future became very drab. Most of the levels are filled with grays and browns, making a person wonder if the if they had outlawed color in the future along with genetic engineering.

While the Fracture experience isn't a completely unpleasant one to take on, it had its annoyances. The fights are difficult, sometimes overwhelmingly so, and the tool that the game gives you to help deal with them, doesn't do much for you tactically. What you're left with is a game that you could slog through the muck and fight for but probably won't.

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Posted:
2014-06-28

A mediocre title.

kandoo

Super Gamer Dude

6.3

Ben 10 Omniverse is a classic example of a game that relies on a TV fan-base to be successful. Keeping in mind that the game is obviously targeted at boys aged six to ten, it succeeds on a few levels and fails at others.

The game does a good job at remaking the story elements and characters from the show. Players will play as young boy hero Ben, who has the power to temporarily transform himself into various alien creatures using a device called the Omnitrix. The game successfully uses this mechanic to add a layer of strategic depth to the game. Players will need to consistently use the Omnitrix power to win, and they will need to choose the correct alien form for any given scenario. There are multiple simple puzzles that will require the use of specific forms to overcome. There's nothing overly challenging, but considering the target demographic, simple is probably best.

The combat itself has very little depth. With some exception, combat revolves around mashing the attack button in order to stack as many attacks together as possible for maximum damage. There are some combos, and different alien forms have different attacks, but the basics are always the same. One serious lacking, considering the game's platform, is that it makes very little use of the Wii's motion functionality. All of the game's controls could easily be rolled into a standard Xbox or PS3 controller. While the game is available across consoles, its target demographic is most likely to have a Wii, and thus it would be nice to see more Wii-specific functionality. The control format, however, is easy to use and readily accessible, even to less-experienced players. The Omnitrix tool is a bit clunky at first, but not overly difficult to master.

Where the game really shines is in dialogue and characterization, which is taken right out of the cartoon. Many of the lines are actually quite humorous and would be downright hilarious to the target audience. Players will immediately recognize the voice and personality of their favorite characters from the show. The dialogue is also delivered in a classic text and voice-over format, so young gamers can read along as they play. This inclusion of text is a major plus for any children's game.

Graphics quality for the game is understandably cartoon-looking, but this is acceptable because it fits the cartoon quality of the original show. Level design and appearance is nothing spectacular, but it isn't something that hurts the game overall.

Repetition is what kills Ben 10 Omniverse. Targeting a young player demographic should be no excuse for simplified gameplay. The entire game consists of basically traveling to various locations and beating up on various alien or robotic enemies over and over again. There is low replay value and the multiplayer options are limited.

All in all, Ben 10 Omniverse is an okay game that will appeal to fans of the series and probably no one else. The dialogue is fitting, humorous and memorable, but intensely repetitive gameplay and lack of strategic depth will limit the game's overarching popularity.


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