Ninja Gaiden II Review

Ninja Gaiden was an astounding entry on Microsoft’s original big, black box; it redefined the action genre with bar-raising visuals and amazing gameplay. Years later, it’s still considered one of the console’s crowning achievements and one of the best hardcore gaming experiences of all time. And as great as it was, it was actually bested by its own enhanced versions—Black, also on the Xbox and, more recently, Sigma on the PS3. Now on the 360, gamepad ninja finally get the true sequel they’ve been waiting for with the aptly titled Ninja Gaiden 2

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Once again, Team Ninja doesn’t disappoint with a balls-out, gore-filled actioner, offering a challenge and addictiveness that will gnaw dedicated players’ thumbs to bloody nubs. But more on the blood-soaked goods in a minute.

First, as much as it pains us, it’s got to be said that NG2 just doesn’t pack the “wow” factor of its predecessor. In part, this can be blamed on Team Ninja’s excellent track record, specifically the three aforementioned versions of Ninja Gaiden. The original was just so damn impressive that topping it is a near impossible task. Because its visuals were practically a generation ahead of the hardware, it’s difficult to get as excited about NG2’s slightly upgraded presentation. Additionally, rather than delivering a sequel earlier, Team Ninja honed their skills on Black and Sigma. So, advances—both graphical and technical—that could’ve been saved as sequel surprises, are now the norm because they’ve already appeared in these NG follow-ups. By delivering such fantastic previous entries, Team Ninja essentially shot themselves in the tabi-booted foot; had we not seen uber-ninja Ryu Hayabusa since the Xbox’s original offering, then we’d no doubt be more struck by his next-gen debut.

Not all of NG2’s inability to leave our jaws on the floor can be blamed on the developers’ previous awesomeness; another issue is that NG2 stubbornly sticks to some old school conventions most current games have moved on from. For example, invisible walls and cheap path blockers are much more noticeable in a generation when even movie-based mediocrity like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man offer some moderate free-roaming.

It just seems a bit odd when Ryu, who can scale an elevator shaft with ease, can’t jump a hip-high blockade. After doing pretty much whatever we wanted in GTA4’s Liberty City, it’s somewhat jarring when Ryu attempts to hop on the roof of an NYC taxicab, and is deflected by an invisible wall. Additionally, Ryu can slice through bone like warm butter with his steely arsenal, yet his blades don’t leave a scratch on this same cab; shouldn’t he be able to tear it up like a ginsu through a tin can? NG2‘s other occasional aggravation is the sometimes difficult camera. In any other game it probably wouldn’t be noticable, but because the action unfolds at such a rapid pace, you’ll wan’t optimal viewing angles at all times. These can usually be achieved, but be prepared to frequently center the camera (with the right trigger) behind Ryu.

You’ll be pulled out of the action occasionally by these dated design choices, and you won’t be saying “Holy sh*t, look at that!” nearly as often as you did with the original, but that’s not to say NG2 doesn’t deliver one of the best action experiences the 360 has ever seen. Don’t let the complaints fool you; this one’s still an amazing experience, both in its gameplay and presentation, and a must-own for fans of the franchise. The combat is as beautiful as ever. Ryu’s acrobatic moves make the Prince of Persia’s look like grade school gymnastics, and his finesse with a blade yields a bloody ballet that’s endlessly satisfying to control. The simple combination of light and heavy attacks (X and Y buttons) and left trigger-controlled blocking deliver visually impressive animations almost always resulting in large piles of chunky, blood-spitting flesh. As with the original game, button-mashers will quickly learn that quick hammering just won’t cut it. The block button is your friend, and blink-of-the-eye counter attacks will generally keep your black-clad badass safe.

Deus Ex : Human Revolution PS3 Review

Deus Ex was a game that was first released on a pc in 2000. The wonder of the Deus Ex franchise is that is a combination of a first person shooter and a role playing game. This is a rare breed of game. The story is also based on science fiction and this became a classic. The last instalment was the Invisible War released in 2003.

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First of all if we examine the graphics and compare to other first person shoots like Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 there is no comparison. The backgrounds are not that detailed and the colour scheme is very simplistic. However, they are efficient and the animation of the characters are adequate. The characters are unique and grab your attention and there is a lot of variety in the gameplay 25 – 40 hours. So overall the experience of the game is very good even though it will not win any awards. Similarly the sound is also adequate, but not outstanding.

Indeed the science fiction story is very intriguing and this is where the game dramatically makes up for what it lacks in sound and graphics with a very engaging story. It is very captivating and makes you get deeply engrossed into the game. The longer you player the deeper that you will get involved into the game. You portray the role of Adam Jensen the head of security for Sarif Corporation. Basically the primary business of this corporation is to develop a better human through advanced surgery and implants.

The gameplay is absolutely amazing. It has a huge world that you can explore and take different options for different outcomes. Sometimes the artificial intelligence can be awkard. The game is made for a single player and there is no online multiplayer. Overall based on the captivating story and engrossing gameplay this is an exceptional game. There is also a lot of replay value.

Rock Band 2 Review – final

The new tour mode still has the same basic setup as before, where you’ll play single songs or sets of them at various venues around the world – many of them are real-life places – and get as many fans and stars and money as you can to get to better and better arenas. You’ll also be able to hire staff, some of which are really just a way to force you to finish a specific challenge before you can move up, but on the way you’ll get a choice of managers each with their own perks, a merchandising girl, a sound guy, roadies, a bus, eventually a plane, and more on your way to the hall of fame.

Playing in this mode is way more fun than before, as you’ll have much more in the way of choice of what songs to play than in Rock Band. You still won’t be able to veto that one RB2 song you absolutely loathe (and don’t get me wrong, the track selection in this game is just as fun as last time, but everyone will still find at least a half-dozen songs to hate) but you will be able to mix in your tracks from the first game if you exported them as well as any new downloaded songs.

rock2As with the first game, I have found a few tracks to be a surprise in just how fun they are to play. Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”, Nirvana’s “Drain You”, and System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” are all tracks I expected to be pretty good, but they are just a blast – and our impromptu band which has been revolving in and out of the house since Sunday still hasn’t unlocked every track, but the absolute best has to be “Master Exploder” by Tenacious D for just ridiculous fun.

Still, even when everyone else has gone home I can keep working on the band’s progress, because this time you can play your band in their world tour while solo. You won’t be able to compete in the fixed challenges that have been added or compete in the daily Battle of the Band competitions (where your band competes with those on your friends list to get the best score on one of several challenges changed out by Harmonix every few days – and once you top your friends list, you start competing with the rest of the world), but playing alone still winds up being much more fun than just going methodically through a list of songs like the first Rock Band and every Guitar Hero game so far.

Rock Band 2 Review

Get out your mandanas, because it’s time to rock – again.

It’s time to get out your cheap plastic instruments again, folks, and tear up the charts with some great new songs with Harmonix’ Rock Band 2. Of course, many people playing the first never stopped due to the weekly additions of new tracks, but with the release of the sequel, we’re getting a huge infusion of songs to play and some great new features that will make playing the game either alone or in a group easier than ever. The focus is even more on the music than before, so get three of your buddies and set aside a few days to take on the latest tracks.

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Rock Band 2 doesn’t change the formula – it just tweaks it. The first game showed us a vision of the “right” way to play a music game, where four people got together to all play cooperatively, and RB2 tries to perfect the formula while giving us a great selection of new tracks. It’s easier to play alone, it’s easier to play with friends, and it’s also easier to compete against others as a band. Mix in a slick new visual style, the same on-screen antics by the band members and plenty more convenience in the way of setting up controllers and band members and simply playing the game, and I think you’ll find that your original Rock Band disc will have become completely obsolete.

That’s also due in part to the patch for the original game that allows you to export the original Rock Band tracks to your hard drive for play in Rock Band 2 – the charge is a one-time fee of $5 for re-licensing those tracks, and it’s well worth it to be able to take those original tracks and mix them in with your downloaded music (all of which works in Rock Band 2, including the stuff sold under the first game many months ago) and the new stuff that is offered in this release. All told, the Rock Band series, according to Harmonix, will have 500 songs available to play by the end of this year, and all will be playable in RB2.

And that’s really where Harmonix has differentiated themselves from Activision and their upcoming Guitar Hero : World Tour. Sure, the new GH has some cool instruments and also reproduces a whole band playing with guitar, bass, drums, and mic, and hell, they even have real musicians like Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Corgan represented in-game with motion capture, but put simply, Rock Band 2 is all about playing a huge range of music with your friends. Rock Band 2‘s music is made up of 100% master tracks, although Harmonix has gone on the record saying that we may still get less-desirable covers in future downloadable tracks.

 

Enemy Territory : Quake Wars 360 Review – 2

For console gamers, many of the good things about Quake Wars also apply to Frontlines : Fuel of War, an underrated online shooter that made it onto consoles earlier this year. What you get is a moving, unified front with lots of action in the way of aircraft, vehicles, and ground troops that counter each other in a big rock-paper-scissors cycle. The game naturally funnels people into the same area on the map, making sure that even though the maps are large and the player count isn’t massive, you still get a lot of intense fighting. Quake Wars is a little rough around the edges and the presentation isn’t as slick compared to popular recent online shooters on the 360. Jumping into games isn’t quite as fast or easy either, but the depth of the action once you do get in is what sets this game apart.

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All that being said, this is a no-frills port of a title that many PC gamers themselves just couldn’t really get into. It’s not a total mystery as to why Quake Wars didn’t capture its intended PC audience, and I’m pretty sure that when it comes to the 360, they probably still won’t find it. Most gamers want a nice simple learning curve, even if the game isn’t very deep once you get into it. And while it’s hard to fault this solid console port in any one area – the graphics are good if not great, the frame rate is solid, the online play works fine, and the action is intense – it’s just not quite as good overall as many other games out there. This was true on the PC when it was pitted against The Orange Box, and it will be on consoles when put up against titles like Call of Duty 4 or the ridiculously popular online play in Grand Theft Auto IV. Maybe it’s the lack of persistent perks that come from extended online play, maybe it’s just that the competition on the 360 recently has been really fierce, but Quake Wars just doesn’t feel right for this console-based audience. The learning curve is steep and while there are bots to play against, there is no dedicated single player campaign to play through. And those bots do stupid things often enough that you’ll find any kind of single player enjoyment tarnished or even ruined.

If you’re looking for a sci-fi action game with plenty of depth and great online play, you could do a lot worse than Quake Wars. If you’re looking for a strong narrative and interesting characters, go out and pick up Mass Effect or BioShock instead, as this game is almost entirely built around multiplayer. Oh, sure, you can play the campaign with bots, but it’s not going to wind up being very compelling. Get this one for its online action, which moves quickly and rewards those who have the skill and knowledge to play to the strengths of the many weapons and vehicles.

Enemy Territory : Quake Wars 360 Review

While they’ve never said it, id Software, Activision, and developer Splash Damage have likely had a frustrating year in dealing with the Quake franchise. Enemy Territory : Quake Wars was the next big thing in online shooters when it was released on the PC in early October last year, but the game and its steep learning curve never really took off with gamers. The release of Valve Software’s Team Fortress 2 in the Orange Box package cemented Quake Wars‘ somewhat mediocre sales. Now, the guys behind the game have released an Xbox 360 version of the game hoping to capture console players’ attention.

quakeOne might expect that a shooter that’s complex compared even in the realm of PC games would probably be simplified to the point of being almost a different game when it’s moved to a console, but that’s not the case here. Quake Wars has just about all the depth of the PC version, with lots of special abilities for the game’s five classes and plenty of different gadgets and perks that are different between the Human and Strogg sides. Sure, a few things are changed and simplified from a control perspective, but the game’s signature attributes are all here. The player limit is a slightly oppressive 16 for both single player and online modes, but because of the way action is funneled into a front line that moves as the attacking team completes objectives, the maps won’t feel empty or barren.

The story goes like this: Earth is being invaded by the aggressive, alien Strogg race, who can turn humans into Strogg with a gruesome process. It’s the first stage of the war – chronologically, the game is a prequel to the classic PC shooter Quake 2. Across the game’s twelve maps, one side or the other will be on offense, trying to further the goals of either defending Earth as the GDF (Global Defense Force) or, as the alien Strogg race, subverting it and conquering it. On one map, the GDF will be trying to destroy a Strogg water contamination facility or steal alien technology, while on another the Strogg will be actively trying to take down a major new GDF weapon that could end the war. It’s these objective-based maps, each with their own little story, that add flavor to the game. It’s a nice contrast to most other games’ scoring system that resembles a sporting event more than all-out war.

Playing Quake Wars from one side or another is almost like playing a totally different game, with the completely unique set of weapons, perks, vehicles, gadgets, and objectives on each map. But don’t expect to jump right into this one too quickly, though; Quake Wars includes a tutorial, but most gamers won’t get too much out of it and the spoken tutorial help that is peppered throughout the PC version as things happen across maps is just gone here. It seems strange, too, considering that PC gamers are usually the ones that are happy to dig into a deep online game, so it’s going to take a little bit of work for a console gamer to get used to Quake Wars‘ added complexity over the online FPS competition that’s out there.

quake2There is one area that did get oversimplified, which was the perks you get from completing goals and such inside a campaign. These have been replaced with a system that boosts your character’s stats and they’re the same for each class, and then when you combine it with the PC version’s dumping of that progress every time you get into a new game or start a new campaign, it adds up to almost zero progression in your character. Building up a character in an online game is something console gamers have started to get accustomed to, and it’s a shame that it was taken out here.

2 Games to Look For in 2015

Resident Evil 5

Capcom’s long-awaited horror sequel is almost here. The fourth game was a reboot for the series, combining a fantastic storyline and great action with just enough of that movement-limiting feeling that makes the Resident Evil series so challenging. The new fifth game adds a cooperative element between the two protagonists while continuing to make sure that you can’t just blindly run-and-gun it like a shooter. Previews so far have been very positive, so if you liked RE4, it seems like a given that you’ll enjoy number five.

Wii Sports Resort

wiiOf all the Wii games that get kicked around, few have the instant fun factor of the original pack-in, Wii Sports. Its infectiously simple gameplay leads to more depth than you first thought as everyone improves at each game, and its accessibility is top-notch. The sequel takes everything to a beach resort where new sports come into play, like fencing and jet skiing. With the new attachment to further refine the Wiimote’s motion sensing capabilities, we’re not just looking at the same stuff with sand and oceans in the background.

Either way, will people pay full price for a Wii Sports sequel, and buy the appropriate attachments for the rest of their Wiimotes ? Will they even be in stock in local stores ? We’ll find out soon.