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Virtua Tennis has been a favorite of multiplayer fans ever since it launched on the Dreamcast more than a decade ago. Since then it has been ported, updated and released on multiple consoles under multiple names. However, despite attempts to freshen things up, this solid iteration of the game ends up being just that: a solid iteration of a game that we have all played before.
As SEGA's first PSVita title, Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour translates to the small screen admirably. While Virtua Tennis's main competitor, Top Spin, has always attempted to make a more realistic Tennis Sim, Virtua Tennis goes for a more arcade-y feel, allowing players to instantly pick up and play. This dynamic is still apparent in Virtua Tennis 4 and the game is better for it. Players are able to concentrate only on getting to the ball on time, hitting it and setting themselves up for the return volley. This is perfect for smaller screens and playing in small bursts, making it ideal for gaming on the go.
As always in the Virtua Tennis series the controls are quick and responsive. You will lose and it will be frustrating at times (as any good tennis game should be) but it will be because of your own failings and not because of any fault of the controls. The graphics are sharp and crisp and the animations look great on the Vita's screen. Additionally, each opponent feels completely unique, requiring different strategies to beat each one.
As has been tradition since Virtua Tennis 2, this game comes with wacky mini games and a career mode. The career mode is a little frustrating, in an attempt to improve the replay value SEGA decided to make the career mode a zany but more importantly random board game. The frustration factors in when a certain tournament or event is missed because you rolled over it. A more streamlined version with more player-choice would have been preferable. The mini-games are as crazy as ever and range from hitting targets, to hitting a soccer ball pass a goalie, to collecting and leading chicks to their hen house without getting hit by a red ball. Additionally some modes have been added exclusively for this Vita version. Players can take a picture of their own face with the PSVita camera and then convert that into their own created character for the World Tour mode. More interestingly two players can play on one screen using the touchscreen, although more of a novelty, it can be used to kill some time and is a nice addition. The real multiplayer is the online or Vita to Vita version and it works fine, although more variety and options for tournaments would have been nice. Players are also given a few new control schemes, the traditional control scheme, a touchscreen version and a hybrid version that utilizes one stick and touchscreen buttons.
A solid version of a solid series, this is probably the definitive version of Tennis available on any mobile platform. However, for veterans of the series the gameplay elements might be getting a tad stale.
Super Gamer Dude
The Assassins Creed series has grabbed gamers by the short hairs and refused to let go practically since its inception, and Assassins Creed III Liberation doesn't look like it will be stopping the tradition any time soon. Set in the back alleys and dark byways of late 1700s New Orleans, Assassins Creed III Liberation tells the story of Aveline de Grandpere; a woman whose father is a wealthy white man and whose mother was a freed slave risen to the status of his common law wife. Despite growing up in the lap of luxury for the time period, Aveline's life is thrown into turmoil when her mother vanishes. When she's taken under the wing of Agate, he teaches her everything she needs to know about the ways of the assassin.
The Evolution of the Plot
As far as the Assassins Creed series goes, the storyline has never been shy about crossing national boundaries and time periods. However this game gets further and further away from the historical-esque roots of the game series, while staying true to the themes that the Assassins Creed games have put into practically every game since the first. Betrayal, a burning need for justice and taking someone and turning him (or in this case her) into a force to be reckoned with. The plot of the game, while occasionally focused more on stealth and infiltration, hits all the same high notes as previous games by intermingling story and character training as it ups the challenges.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Assassins Creed III Liberation for the PS Vita has learned from all of the past Assassins Creed games when it comes to practically everything regarding gameplay and mechanics. Whether it's combat style, stealth missions or just getting around New Orleans as quickly and efficiently as possible (always a major factor when it comes to games with the sweeping grandeur of the Assassins Creed series) is relatively simple to master. However, the PS Vita does run into several problems when it's compared to the full sized Playstation controller.
Players will need to get used to the smaller controls that the Vita provides. The system takes some adjustment, but once players have gotten used to the setup it's no more difficult than mastering any other part of a game with as much motion and movement as Assassins Creed III. However, while the setup on the Vita does make it very difficult for more traditional button mashers to do cool things on accident, it is still not impossible to pull off.
All in all fans of Assassins Creed will enjoy Liberation. Those who haven't played any previous Assassins Creed games might find it a better bet to start earlier in the series so they aren't thrown right into the deep end. However, when it comes to the best graphics, fantastic story, good cut scenes and the very latest in gameplay mechanics then Assassins Creed III Liberation is right where players are going to want to be to experience the best Assassins Creed.
Super Gamer Dude
There is a nostalgic appeal to the Epic Mickey series that cannot be denied. Not nostalgia for the golden age of Disney films but the very genesis of film animation and the construction of the Disney Parks from there inception in 1956 to today. Epic Mickey 2, guided by the expertise of Warren Spector, constructs a world built from pieces of Disney history.
The story of Epic Mickey is pretty barebones. The Mad Doctor, who was supposedly defeated in the first game, returns to wreak more havoc on the Wasteland. Mickey is called to save the day again with his magic paintbrush, and Oswald comes along for the ride this time around. A game like this doesn't call for a complex narrative though. The simplicity is typical of any children's game and effectively opens the door for any range of imaginative level design. The story's cutscenes are also given an excellent shot in the arm with the addition of some excellent voice acting plus full-blown musical numbers to give the game a Disney musical feel.
Where the game falls apart though is in the game play. There is a problem that every 3D platformer encounters and must address at some point in its development, and that is camera controls. Nintendo, in a stroke of genius, solved this problem in the Super Mario Galaxy games by having the majority of the levels take place on spheres, meaning that the camera will never have any walls to navigate or to block the player's view of the character. This elegant solution unfortunately cannot be applied to every 3D platformer and Junction Point's previous Epic Mickey game was marred by poor camera controls. Nothing has changed in that field for Epic Mickey 2. Though playing with two analog sticks is much preferred to the stopping and re-centering the camera that Wii players will endure. The camera tends to want to be too close to the ground and seems to always want to get stuck or bounce off of walls. The effect the camera has on a 3D platformer like Epic Mickey cannot be understated either. Adjusting the camera angle to make the perfect jump is one of gaming's great pleasures, and Epic Mickey 2 leaves the player feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
Epic Mickey 2 offers a cooperative mode that allows you to play the campaign along with another friend. This mode makes it infinitely easier to access the game's more interesting nooks and crannies because the AI driving Oswald always seems to be one or two steps behind what you actually want him to do. Playing through the game alone is an unsatisfactory way to experience this vivid world because the inconsistency of Oswald makes it hard to expect him to do anything beyond what is necessary to move on to the next area in the game.
Warren Spector is known for realizing vivid game worlds and Junction Point delivers his vision adequately. Despite the intricacy of the world however and the beautiful High Definition graphics on the WiiU, this game is plagued with all the classic pitfalls of a 3D platformer, issues which, in this console generation, are hard to forgive.
Super Gamer Dude
The Ninja Gaiden Series has been running for a very, VERY long time. Since 1988, the series has been on arcade machines, Nintendo's NES, S-NES, and the more current portable DS, Sega's Master System and Game Gear, as well as XBOX, PS2 and PS3, and PC's. There had even been an Anime OVA (Original Video Animation) released in Japan in 1991. Originally known as Ninja Ryukenden in Japan, Ninja Gaiden can be placed alongside Mario and Sonic as a game that has stood the test of time.
Originally created by the game company, Tecmo, Ninja Gaiden is a video game the follows the story of Ryu Hayabusa, a cutthroat stealth assassin. What was once a side-scrolling beat-em-up adventure, the series has taken a turn to the three dimensional world of today's action adventure genre of video games. Fast forward to today, the series is now also developed by Team Ninja, under Tecmo, which has created Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, one of the latest installments of this video game franchise for the PS Vita. This video game follows the story of the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden, which is the precedent to all the 3D versions of the game that we see in store shelves today.
The version now still sets the main Player's character as Ryu, however, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus has a segment where players play as a demon hunter named Rachel. The premise is simple, follow the story line, beat up all the bad guys, get as many points as possible, and exact revenge for the characters being played.
The game mechanics are a lot more fluid than the Side-scrolling counterparts of yesteryear. The ninjas are able to scale walls, find power ups to upgrade abilities, and have many different weapons from which to choose from and unlock. The controls are fluid and very responsive. Which is great because enemies will stop at nothing to defeat the player, regardless of the difficulty level chosen. And in order to counter the onslaught of enemies (on average, the battles, except for boss fights, are always multiple versus one), it would sometimes be necessary to use Ninpo techniques. These are special techniques that make use of the Vitas touch screen, located in the back of the portable console. Some Ninpo techniques utilize the elements such as water or fire. This gives it a very unique taste, allowing gamers to feel the true strength of a ninja during gameplay.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a beautifully made game for the PS Vita, and makes great use of the console's graphics card and system. Although the environment may be considered slightly bland by some of today's standards, the character design and integration within the environment is fairly superb.
While there is quite the learning curve for some people, once mastered, the game will be able to take up hours of a gamer's time, because of the extensive plot and sequence of events. Anyone who picks up the game is sure to experience greatness.
Super Gamer Dude
Atlus has once again taken their off beat brand of Japanese role-playing games to new heights. Having taken the mantle of premier JRPG developer from Square-Enix, they have not looked back. Persona 4 Golden only serves to solidify the gulf that stands between Altus and the rest of the Japanese developers. So let us learn more about the twist of fate in the life of an unsuspecting Japanese teenager.
Persona 4 Golden is a revamped and remixed edition of Persona 4. Atlus has done this in the past with remixed versions of Persona 3 Fes for the PlayStation 2 and Persona 3 Portable for Sony's PSP. With more development time, the Atlus team is able to fine tune the gameplay and broaden the scope of the game with additional story lines, personas and items to collect.
For the average Persona fan, the overall feeling of the game is as familiar as a comfy sweater or slippers. This is due to the fact that Altus have positioned the structure of these games in a fantastic manner. Shortly after starting the game, you find yourself once again in the Velvet Room, where Igor serves as the host as he does in other Persona games. It is here in the Velvet Room where you learn about play mechanics and most importantly, the personas. Additionally, the time of midnight again plays a role in a Persona game. In Persona 3, when the clock struck midnight, the dark hour began and you had the ability to fight in a tower of a dungeon called Tartarus. In Persona 4 Golden, you have to be mindful of the Midnight Channel and who appears on the television.
Personas are very integral to this game, hence the name sake. Personas are creatures that are created through fusion. It is through this fusion that more distinctive personas can be created. These personas are used in battle when you fight against various enemies or shadows in the game. Through social links in the game for each type of persona, your personal personas can grow to be even stronger in battle. It is through these Persons that pick up specific traits such as being powerful in the domains of ice, fire, electricity, among others. Enemies have weaknesses that can be exploited and picking the proper Persona does the trick for that job.
The story of Persona 4 Golden is more of a lighthearted affair than Persona 3 as Persona 4 Golden is asking our protagonists to look within themselves to see that there are sides of them that they might not like, however, these unfortunate deficiencies that we have still make us who we are.
In conclusion, something has to be said for the quality of a product when the gaming community knows exactly what we are to expect with the advent of a new Persona game, yet when we get it, it goes down easy like our favorite meal. There was a dearth of system selling titles for the PlayStation Vita when it hit the scene but with the release of Persona 4 Golden, can finally lay claim to have a killer app. Vita means life in Latin, let's hope the star power of this newest edition of the Persona franchise gives some to the Vita.
Super Gamer Dude
ZombiU was supposed to be a flagship title for the console, displaying it's graphical abilities and the new features of the gamepad in a manner that would make the console the "in" thing for gamers everywhere.
Instead, what it became was an extremely polarizing game. There are very few people who are of the mindset that this game is "just alright". Most people you run into will find it either a brilliant video game, full of depth and difficulty, or a janky, poorly executed mess.
ZombiU takes place in London in November, 2012. An old legend called the Black Prophecy is coming to pass, with a zombie outbreak. There has been an underground group researching and preparing for this day. As one of the survivors of the apocalypse, you are tasked with working with this underground group to find the cure.
ZombiU doesn't set out to be your typical run-and-gun shoot-'em-up first person shooter. It, instead, wants to be a survival horror game. You can shoot all the zombies you want, great. What's more important is the goal of survival. Survive so that you can get samples. Survive so that you can help find the cure. Survive so that you can just keep living. It takes an angle on the zombie fad that a lot of games just look past.
One of the more polarizing aspects of the game is it's permadeth. In ZombiU, when your character dies, you don't play as that character anymore. Instead, you respawn as another one of the survivors. Your old character, in keeping with the elements of the game, doesn't just disappear- it becomes a zombie. You have to kill your old self to get your items back, which is a surreal experience. You have just spent three hours or so as character A, and now you are character B, and your first mission? Smash in Zombie Character A's brains. The weakness to this system is that there is only one dead copy at a time, so if you die again before you can retrieve your loot, it's all gone.
Another polarizing aspect is the combat. It tries to do so well. You are always armed with a melee weapon, a cricket bat. Along the way, you can pick up other weapons, including, of course, guns. The problem with guns is that they make noise. The noise attracts other zombies to come see what all the fuss is about, which turns your group of three zombies that you got the drop on into five or six guys trying to eat your brains. Add in that kickback causes problems for you (which, if you're thinking about yourself as a survivor in England who might not have the most experience shooting a gun, adds a level to this game that isn't always thought about) and that ammo is very, very scarce, and you have all the elements for a great survival horror game. However, the problem is that the melee with the cricket bat is unrewarding. It can take five or six hits at times to down a zombie. Finding a group of three or four means fifteen to twenty hits, and that's a chore.
The use of the WiiU gamepad is a fun part of this game. When you go to loot things, rather than a menu coming up and the game pausing, you are directed to look at the gamepad's screen. There, you can see what is in the filing cabinet and decide what you want to keep. While that is happening, though, the game isn't paused. Everything is still going on around you. It adds an element of tension to your adventures that is not found in many other games.
This game tries to be one of the best zombie games out there. It tries to take a fresh approach to things. It has all of the right ideas, too. Rather than an amazing story or just being a game about killing a million zombies, it really nails the feeling that you are trying to survive so, so well. Unfortunately, it misses in execution of parts. I really hope we see a sequel to this with more polished combat, or at least another game trying to do the same things here. This game is the epitome of having great ideas, but not quite executing them in the right way. It's an enjoyable and unique experience for sure if you're willing to forgive it of it's faults, but that is a bridge too far for some people.
Super Gamer Dude
EA Sports UFC on the PlayStation 4 is a mixed martial arts fighting video game developed by Electronic Arts and SkyBox Labs. It is based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship series and was released on June 17, 2014.
UFC has a gritty and impressive realism not only from its graphics. If you're looking for the definitive recreation of the world of Mixed Martial Arts, you'll still be looking after playing this. However, if you're just in it for the fun of brawling with friends in the world of UFC, this will do nicely.
So why isn't the game itself realistic? Well for one, TKOs aren't included, which is a major oversight as their inclusion in the real UFC is part of the reason matches work as well as they do, albeit a concession that real people might get injured to which a video game need not necessarily adhere. Another reason is because penalties are out as well, meaning that you don't have to be at all careful about doing a dick move to a digital dickhead of a fighter. It would have been nice to have these as features players could turn off or on, because they would significantly change the fight and introduce a variable level of strategy similar to how lengthening or shortening match times or knock out chances in arcade fighters like Tekken change the strategies in those games.
That's not to say that EA's graphical designers don't put in the time getting the look and feel of MMA correct. Rippling muscles, disgustingly realistic sweat, and a roundup of around 100 real fighters who have had a stunning amount of attention devoted to their mannerisms and physical attributes, with few oversights, make the spectacle look great. Unfortunately, this doesn't extend through to showing their moves. Jon Jones doesn't move like the real guy does. He shuffles around like EA's somewhat clunky animation system expects him to do so. Some of the showboating the fighters do is fun to watch, but otherwise the game fulfills the promise of the uncanny valley - the weird effect when a computer is trying to approximate a human, but fails utterly.
What is especially quaint is the laughable career mode. Oh, to be sure, the ability to create any kind of real person you know or grotesque monster of a fighter is great and extremely flexible, but what kind of career mode never lets you lose? That's not how careers in the UFC work! It's also not nearly as robust as EA's other sports game like FIFA and Madden. As well, they don't put nearly as much of the entertainment of personalities into it like their NBA games do. Sure, they've got coaches and announcers, but they are as bland and ill serve the desires of UFC fans as a meal of white bread with water.
Additionally, since weight doesn't come into play in any sense but choosing a weight class (it doesn't factor into the actual fights) knocking down fighters isn't the aggressive and cringe-inducing spectacle of referees pulling off fighters it is in the real UFC. This would have really set it apart from the fantasy fighters like Dead or Alive, which seem to never use this element, but alas.
The basics you'd expect from this sort are charmingly all there, but EA doesn't go much beyond that beside adding some smile-worthy bonus characters, free updates and quickly boring tutorial-like mini-games. Online is a basic series of matches. There are no creative modes. Robotic assembly line creation, which is typical of EA, define the game, but at least it also has the typical EA production values and money poured into it to make a decent rumble with fellow UFC fans.
Nevertheless, EA Sports UFC on the PlayStation 4 is supposed to be EA's first major foray into the UFC and only the first step. On the new generation consoles, it is a notable step above THQ's efforts from the previous generation, though their technical ambitions mean the game's frame rate can sometimes chug, which is a big no-no for fighting game fans who depend on being able to read the frame data of moves to determine their priority in connecting a hit to the opponent. As a first step, this is a case of "better than we've had before," so looking back in the coming years, while it may appear as quaint, it's the best option currently on the console market.
Super Gamer Dude
Call of Duty has been a prominent first-person shooter throughout the years. The gripping action and heart-racing missions have proven to be addictive amongst players. Now with Modern Warfare 2, all the factors have been improved and will surely make fans and gamers begging for more in the end.
Modern Warfare 2 continues the legacy of the Call of Duty saga but this version is the least traditional among the other Call of Duty games. The main game package is divided into three pillars of gameplay. Fans who like single-player games will still have their main campaign, gamers who like to cooperate with other players either through a local or online connection will have the new Special Operations mode, and last is the multiplayer which got even better. Each mode is 100 % standalone that it does not have any connection with the other modes, so you actually get to have three different experiences in one game.
Gamers should definitely try the single-player campaign mode first, which is absolutely back and more intense than past campaign modes. Fans will truly appreciate the improvement in the mode as they are thrown into the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro, the very cold mountains of Kazakhstan, the very dusty roads of Afghanistan and a whole lot more destinations. Modern Warfare also offers stunning visuals that are steps over Call of Duty 4 and World at War. There is an emphasis on intricate terrains in the environment, interesting weather effects, and a whole lot that adds improvement to the chaos and action of the entire game. A great audio also accompanies the stunning visuals with effects from returning weapons and a very captivating score by Hans Zimmer that will truly complement some game scenes. With the dazzling visuals and a captivating audio, you would feel like you are watching an action film when playing the game.
The campaign mode has its issues, though. For newbies, it’s quite short. But despite its shortness, Modern Warfare 2 is definitely more chaotic; brought by better visual effects, upgraded production values, and very tough scenario designs. Realism is even more exemplified in Modern Warfare 2 with better visuals, which is more pronounced when it comes to bloody scenes. There surely were effects in previous versions that showed blood with the screen getting red. But this time, blood splatter can truly be noticed as more real-looking on your screen throughout the game. Though others find this as a distraction, it’s still quite amazingly awesome.
Modern Warfare 2 is also the debut of the Special Operations or Spec Ops mode. This mode is actually an arcade-inspired challenge mode. The mode can be played with a single player for the most part, but is actually intended to be around two people’s team play. The Spec Ops mode is divided into 5 tiers that have missions where there are three possible stars to gain based on the level of difficulty in each of the 23 missions in the game. Fans and gamers will truly be surprised with this mode because of its entertainment value and is actually longer than the single player campaign mode.
The multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 got even better, as well. Being the front bearer in the Call of Duty saga, Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer visuals and effects indeed got a good boost. You are guaranteed to be in for an engaging experience with the multiplayer mode enhancements.
Overall, Modern Warfare 2 really proves to be one of the best first-person shooter games out in the market. But there’s a catch for those who prefer to play the single-player campaign mode. It is really short and it only forms part of the entire Modern Warfare experience. If you opt to immerse on all three modes, then you will definitely have one hell of an experience and action with Modern Warfare 2.
Everyone should know by now that Infinity Wards latest is not to be missed, and it was more than just a video game release. It amassed millions of hours of playtime and had gotten endless amount of press over the past year, making it practically a force of nature unleashed on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Every nuance of the game as been inspected, every detail has been examined, to the point that if they wanted an unspoiled experience when their copy arrived they would need to make an effort to avoid the news about it. The developer has honed its well-worn formula to achievable and logical shine, far from shunning the weight of expectation; rarely in mechanics, it crafts a campaign that surprises with scope.
The series of Modern Warfare 2 is back on the hands of Infinity Ward, the developer that brought us Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the most significant multiplayer FPS. But between Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 was another game that managed to be successful in its own right, which was Call of Duty: World at War, it never had a chance at being another Modern Warfare, though.
I need to get one thing straight – it was obvious that Modern Warfare 2 wasn’t going to be able to compete against its original, but that’s not to say this sequel has practically no chance of being anything other than a great game. COD4 had featured a strong single player campaign and was nearly perfect as a multiple game, Infinity Ward is simply building off this. Their mission, which turned out to be very successful, was to keep gamers interested and to add to the franchise regardless of how much time they might typically spend on a first-person shooter. Modern Warfare 2 has a top-notch online experience, a great single player campaign, and a new Spec-Ops mode that lets players test their skills in one-off missions and builds off COD4’s popular coda.
The single player campaign in MW2 takes everything a step further, but can be found a lot similar to COD4. The story is much harder hitting; they get you ready for a much more in-your-face look at nuclear attack, terrorism, and hand-to-hand combat than the previous game. Despite that MW2 is more of a mature game than the series’ previous titles, it also takes the story and goes completely over-the-top with it. It’s a military plot combined with different vehicular sequences, and slow-motion action stunts along the lines of the Watchmen movie.
The story isn’t entirely clear why certain things take place, following it can be very hard and muddled, and many of the character’s relationships with one another remain foggy. While there are some missing links they don’t really detract from the story and their almost always clear what your character needs to accomplish, why you’re on a specific mission, and the larger strategy that you are operating under. The story doesn’t quite hold up for the same period as the original, which is a huge shock since COD4’s campaign mode was a quick run through. It’s not by much but I would have imagined Infinity Ward trying to make something longer with their sequel to listen to all of the criticism. You may want to not ask too many questions and suspend your disbelief though, especially if you’re geo-politically minded. One point that’s interesting though is that you never fight in the anonymous, sandy regions found in COD4, instead the game mentions many specific places and countries which you never step foot on. Another thing is how quick the set pieces get put together just apparently after America went to war. It looks like the war has been going on for years!
This is a title that oozes a confidence built on collective experience, from the comforting and safe assault course opener. It’s the sort of videogame that doesn’t flinch in delivering set-piece after set-piece understanding exactly what its audience wants with barely a pause to load the next scenario. The commitment certainly isn’t questionable, but the politics may be.
The developer has – controversially – included an extremely graphic depiction that the player has full control over of a very specific act of terrorism early on in the game. This is something of a talking point, unsurprisingly, and to ignore the issue would be remiss.
I wouldn’t say it was deeply disturbing but the level is, without the doubt, an experience that is the most thought-provoking I have yet encountered in any mainstream game. Providing you’re immersed in the context and its atmosphere it can also be a pretty sobering experience, but you can easily skip or ignore this level if you don’t want to put yourself through a fairly clearly-defined moralistic mill. Despite the abhorrent undertone running beneath, it’s powerful in a way that videogames rarely are, and I just can’t help but admire it in some twisted way. It shocked me all the way through of playing it.
For those of you in the persuasion of wondering what all the fuss was about, as there will be a significant chunk of the gamers that will end up feeling this way, MW2’s action beat and constantly assaults the senses that proves the primary draw.
At times the visual panache and superlative gunplay borders best-in-show which is here Infinity Ward steps above and beyond criticism. Set-piece animation is integrated in an almost seamless fashion within the level design, enemies crumple realistically under fire, and you’ll be hard-pushed to spot a single respawning set of foes, which even if early reports of veteran difficulty as a direct consequence are to be believed.
The colour and lighting is noticeably improved in this second iteration, the crisp 60fps console versions are surprisingly well-detailed, and whilst the environment remains resolutely non-interactive, it’s a sheer pleasure to keep the eyes locked onto the screen when things are being blown up for you with relative frequency.
New additions to the mission structure will be pleasingly well judged, from climbing mechanics that offer up a healthy dose of tension to vehicle sections that work within the confines of the physics engine – it’s all integrated with a strong taint of talent and money behind the scenes, but whilst all this is great fun the majority of the missions will be familiar (clear the house, destroy the AA gun, follow the tank, etc). Even this is still done brilliantly, its Infinity Ward’s baby after all, and even though Treyarch may well be an improving off-year custodian, the fingerprints are unmistakable.
There is a new part to the game called The Special Operations (Spec Ops). These are short missions where you have a very clear goal – kill this many rebels, win this race, get to this point, etc. They are basically run through missions on either normal, hard, or veteran modes that are Call of Duty skill challenges in order to win stars. More stars will win you some achievement points and will increase your ever-present completion percentage. The missions include defending a point and stealth escapes, though you also get vehicle missions like a snowmobile race and a helicopter attack, even though their varied they stick to the same operations and settings handled in the game. These Ops can be fun, but not long lasting as there isn’t any way-points making the missions very challenging – you have to start over by making one critical mistake, which is not so easy when you have attack dogs and about 40 guys to kill. Anyone who dreams of getting 1000 Xbox achievement points must know that Veteran-level challenges are only for the most skilled gamers and anyone else putting in the time is going to be disappointed. Ops is a great way to improve your game while playing with a friend as it can be done in single player or multiplayer (including local) modes.
It’s all about more within MW2’s multiplayer. More mayhem, more levels, more weapons, more skills, and so on. COD4’s multiplayer has become the baseline against which all online FPS games are measured, and what better way could there be to follow this experience with MW2? With highly customizable skills and weapons and huge skill streak bonuses, Infinity War this time made sure to keep Veteran players interested while allowing new players to get into the game, with solid early level weapons and death streak bonuses. You feel like your achieving something with every session you are playing multiplayer because you are building up towards the next level. So that next holographic sight or launcher could be right around the corner. This means two things – there is a constant sense of achievement whether you were victorious or not and you don’t want to put the game down. It might not be a huge step up from COD4 but it’s still a great experience with enough changed to keep things interesting.
This may arguably be the best online FPS right now, but not everything is perfect with the multiplayer though. The game is now largely silent as MW2 has basically killed voicechat. This was about the opposite in COD4, this was mainly put down by numerous homophobia, racism and cheating. So instead Infinity Ward decided to curtail the chat, except allowing it in a few games. Most players (at least on the Xbox 360) have unplugged their headsets because the cuts that were made were large enough. Teamwork is what could have taken MW2 multiplayer to the next level, unfortunately it just doesn’t look like its going to happen in this generation.
MW2 refines and builds on the most solid of bases and is spectacular, as a whole, in all the right areas. This game has problems just like any other, but despite this it’s a game you should play for what it does achieve. The single player subject matter is often hard to follow and mostly over-the-top, but it also has powerful settings and compelling characters with a thought-provoking undertone. It really gets players into the mindset of the game as it’s a much more cynical look at the battlefield than previous titles. Spec Ops often requires a second player due to its difficulty, but it’s the single biggest addition to the game, and lets players perfect their skills in scenario-based combat which becomes quite rewarding. It’s definitely not as brilliant as its original, since it’s the same type of exercise but with a few different ideas added in, but MW2 is still a brilliant game in its own merits and stands proudly head up high above most other FPS shooters. This is a game every FPS and war veteran fan should definitely buy.
Super Gamer Dude
If you know what I mean when I say that it is refreshing when a real time strategy game attempts to do something outside of the familiar concept where several factions build structures that allow them to kill off their competition, then Pikmin 3 is a game you will probably enjoy. Alas, if you are also the type of person who swore off Winnie the Pooh as too childish when you were six years old, then you might want to look elsewhere.
Pikmin 3 is a game for those who like to tinker. It is for the mechanically-minded, the patient and the curious. It takes place in hugely miniature play areas rendered in a gorgeous 3D elegance as if they were the computerized visual notes of an artificial intelligence that travels to alien worlds and records what it sees. It is a game about cute little space people who raise adorable plants and flowers to twit and twitter through twee adventures with bizarre organisms. These adorable creatures live in a world that is at turns heartbreaking, unnerving and devastating, aimed toward neither children nor adults.
Pikmin 3 requires patience in order to fully appreciate it. Above all other things, it rewards long-term planning, careful strategy and a keen eye for observation. If the essay is about you commanding a legion of small creatures to do an astoundingly varied series of tasks, its thesis is that it's hard to manage so many independent lifeforms. If you have entertainment ADD, where you buy lots of entertainment things, but don't read, play, watch or listen to many of them, you might just play Pikmin 3 for five or so hours and then forget about it forever.
That would be a shame, because it's ultimately the best game in the series. In the original game the concept was a little undercooked, and while the time limit was a neat idea, it didn't work quite right. Pikmin 2 was more thorough, but went too far in the other direction in making it more of a hardcore dungeon-crawling real time strategy plant army simulation. Pikmin 3 nails the balance. You need to carefully look at your map, consider your options and delegate duties well, like Pikmin 2, but it has the tension that time introduces without being too short or frustrating like Pikmin.
It's best if you don't know a whole lot before you play it too. Much of the joy of Pikmin is similar to that of a child examining bugs in a microscope. If you've followed Pikmin 3's promotion and know all about its features and different Pikmin, the joy of experimentation amidst the unknown that the game fosters will be hampered somewhat. Pikmin 3 would have benefited from a surprise release because of this. However, it was blessed with an incredibly lengthy development time ranging past 5 years, so it is polished, long and contains lots of features for extended enjoyment.
Pikmin 3 is a game for armchair philosophers who can also find pleasure in the simpler things in life.
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