Tagged "Most Played"

Aug 09

I didn’t get my first taste of Kinect until a couple of months ago. A friend asked me to sell his on eBay along with Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports. What type of friend would I be if I didn’t give it a good test to see if it’s fully working beforehand? Not a very good one is the answer. I at least had to check that the achievements unlocked. And so I spent an entertaining afternoon messing around with Adventures – which is a clear cut above most mini-game collections – and sampling the sports in Kinect Sports. Apart from the football – sorry, soccer – game which doesn’t flow too well, it’s a really nice package. Even the volleyball game is pretty good.

It wasn’t until the arrival of Child of Eden that I decided to purchase my own Kinect. The price of Kinect games has taken a tumble over the past few months – I was able to get the device with Kinect Adventures and Carnival Games: In Action for £100, and then picked up Kinectimals for £12.99 and Get Fit with Mel B for four measly quid.

Kinectimals really struck a chord with me. Considering it was a Kinect launch title it’s incredibly polished with visuals that aren’t far off from CGI. Whereas most virtual pet games become dull as soon as you’ve catered to your pet’s needs, here there is always something new to do or see to keep your interest levels up. Selecting a toy out of the toy box makes a random challenge instantly appear on screen – bring a ball out and a coconut shy or target range will spawn out of nowhere. There’s no penalty for failing these challenges but beating them awards adventure points that are used to unlock new areas of the map, and ergo progresses the story which involves pirates and treasure. You can also pester your pet with RC cars, some of which are based on vehicles from Halo. It really is a lovely and charming game full of nice touches.

From petting to prancing. I won’t spend too much time talking about Get Fit with Mel B because I assume it was cut to £4 due to a lack of popularity. It isn’t bad though – you appear on the screen in a fuzzy digitised form, standing next to Mel herself. The idea is to copy what she does and then you’re shown how well you did in the form of a percentage. There are warm up and cool down exercises and you can choose what your goals are – like losing fat off your gut, or generally having more stamina. It certainly works – I sweated in places I didn’t even know produced sweat.

Then we have Carnival Games: In Action. Or Carn-evil Games as it should be known. I don’t think I’ve ever detested a game so much. Two hours was all it took to play each mini-game three or four times and unlock a majority of the achievements. After those two hours I wouldn’t have returned to this game even if you paid me. Just about every mini-game irritates and most boil down to pure luck – I played hoopla about 20 times and only twice did the hoop go over the pole. Then there’s a roller coaster mini-game where you have to put your hands out to collect stars and avoid bad things but because the coaster is full of dips and turns you can’t see what’s coming. It took me five attempts to get a score that wasn’t in minus figures.

Barker the ringmaster – the chap in the bowler hat – taunts you with wisecracks throughout, making this even more of a thoroughly teeth gratingly bad experience. Fair play to the developers for not lazily converting the Wii version, I suppose, but the only good thing about it I found was that I was able to trade it in for something else.

Apr 20

As is evidenced by the declining number of reviews I’ve written for this site over the past decade, I haven’t really been playing or writing about as many games as I’d like. Once or twice a year I go manic and indulge, usually every October (traditionally the month of big game releases and nostalgic birthday memories) and around a few other big game launches. It doesn’t bode well for consistent game reviews though.

So, having only just started playing Killzone 3, a mere two months behind the rest of the in crowd, I thought I’d instead write about the games I’ve been meaning to play for a while, but haven’t got around to yet, for whatever reason. Obviously my critical opinion on said games will be moderately worthless, but hey, I like making unordered lists!

Minecraft

MinecraftThe whole world is seemingly playing Minecraft. Initially made by a Swedish guy in his bedroom, over 800,000 people paid €9.95 to play the alpha version of the game. The final version hasn’t even been released yet, and already the alpha and beta versions have sold over 1,940,000 copies and made €23 million – talk about crafty development! Undeniably, Minecraft has been the biggest gaming success story in recent years, turning one bedroom coder into a multimillionaire almost literally overnight.

And yet, I still haven’t played it. I am that lazy. At one point I believe I even got my credit card out and went on to the Minecraft website, but decided against purchasing, in the belief that it would disrupt my workflow and project deadlines (which is fair enough really – World of Warcraft almost cost me a year of my degree).

From what I can tell, Minecraft is about exploring and building whatever you want, on a lego style island. Its simple, blocky graphics certainly have some charm, and clearly it must be pretty good based on all the success and praise. One day I’ll sit down and play it. If you haven’t already played it, you probably should.

Call of Duty: The Newest One

Call of Duty Black Ops or somethingAdmittedly, part of me doesn’t give a shit about the Call of Duty series anymore. Somehow, at some random point in time, Call of Duty went from being a dull wartime FPS game with numerous sequels, to the game industry’s annual mega hit. But you’re kind of obliged to play it, right?

I’m sure the latest one, errm, Call of Duty: Black Ops, is quite good. I guess I can expect it to contain plenty of shooting, dastardly conspiracies, and walking through linear alleys or jungles. I’ll probably pick it some day. Perhaps Activision would have sent me a review copy if I asked. Maybe I’ll get around to it before Call of Duty: Postmodernism 27 comes out.

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout 3: New VegasWell, technically I got as far as installing this one and playing it for twenty minutes. Seeing as Fallout 3 was by far my favorite game of 2008, I feel a little disrespectful not giving New Vegas the time it truly deserves. A Fallout game requires at least a week of free time to truly experience and enjoy. Maybe I’ll get started with it on a long weekend. Alright, I’ll play with you soon Fallout, don’t worry.

All the new Yakuza games

Yakuza 4In this post-Dreamcast world we live in, Yakuza is about as close to a new Shenmue game as we’re likely to get anytime soon. It’s developed by Sega’s Amusement Vision, formerly Sega AM4, which is just two off Shenmue developers Sega AM2. Look past the Japanese gangster setting, and it almost is Shenmue.

I loved Yakuza on the PlayStation 2. It felt like the game version of a cheap Japanese gangster B-Movie, or almost exactly the type of game I’d think up. Unfortunately when I played the demo of Yakuza 3, it felt clunky, boring, and quite old fashioned. That put me off at the time. Still though, now that Yakuza 4 has finally got an English release, I probably should make the time to play it. I hear you can date hostess girls and play arcade games!

Anything on the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS and Japanese lady's faceFive is a fairly good number for lists, and as I can’t quite be bothered to write about ten games, this should round the list off nicely. Now, I don’t want to seem harsh, as I do keep meaning to do something about the 3DS, but at the same time, the 3DS is almost completely failing to interest me.

Perhaps it’s just the uninspiring launch line-up. Perhaps it’s the idea of cross-eyed migraines trying to experience the third dimension on a flat screen. I’m certainly curious, though simultaneously, not quite bothered. I’d liken the 3DS to limping badger – the concept has me interested, and the urge to go over and have a look is quite compelling, yet I wouldn’t really want to take one home.

At least it’s Easter this week. I might actually make some progress in Killzone 3.

Jan 19

Have you ever seen a game that’s ridiculously cheap but it’s not a game you ever planned to buy, but still buy it anyway because it’s at a price too good to miss? This is what happened with me and Crackdown 2 after finding the metal tin edition in Cash Converters for £6.99. Knowing it usually sells for double that I snapped it up, even though it wasn’t on my imaginary ‘to buy’ list.

My initial impressions were mixed – the visuals lack pizazz and there are only a handful of different mission types. I stuck with it though, and eventually a friend invited me to a game of co-op. With a friend in tow to take out mutants with it grew on me incredibly. So much so that we finished it twice – the first time took 5 hours while the second time took only around 2 hours with our (almost) fully powered-up agents.

There are no pointless cut-scenes or loading times: it’s just one huge city with missions to pick and choose at will. You can even leave missions half way through if you spot some ability orbs in the distance and fancy adding them to your collection. The achievements are fun too, like trying to harpoon five enemies to a single vehicle.

Although I brought it pre-owned the developers managed to get a bit of cash out of me via the DLC. Deluge is an arcade-like experience with enemies that attack in waves and have to be wiped out before the clock ticks down. It’s fast paced and rather frantic – there’s always a scramble for the best weapons when the weapon stashes appear – and it managed to provided a couple of extra evenings worth of play. The Toy Box DLC on the other hand is ideal for people who’ve finished the game and want rinse everything out of it. The extra toys include jet boots which make the rooftop races and orb hunting easier plus there’s also a God mode with infinite ammo and such.

I’ve also gone out and brought the original Crackdown (£3 in CeX, if you’re wondering) but I’m not enjoying it as much. I put this down to the fact that Crackdown 2 has instant respawning whereas in Crackdown you have to capture respawn points first. Crackdown 2 also has mutants to kill as well as rowdy gangs, which adds a nice touch of variety. In short: Crackdown 2 is better, although some websites would have you believe otherwise.

Nov 03

Original games are plentiful on the Wii but they don’t appear as frequently on Xbox 360. That’s why when something interesting comes out on Microsoft’s box I’ll give it a whirl, even if it is in a brightly-hued box and has a 7+ age rating on the box.

There’s a rather unpleasant saying that goes something like this: ‘If you throw enough shit at a wall eventually some of it will stick”. I think this is the line of thinking that the creators of Bakugan abide to as it combines elements from just about every popular toy-line from the past few years. To wit: Bakugans are marbles that transform and battle, with the emphasis being to catch ‘em all. You can also throw down trading cards to boost their stats or affect your rival’s abilities.

What I found enduring about Bakugan is that there are dozens of strategies to use. At the start of a match players pick a battle card and throw it into the middle of the arena. They then pick a Bakugan – which are various beasts of an elemental variety – and launch them. If two land on a trading card then a battle commences which involves playing one of three mini-games. If you land two of your own Bakugan on one card though then you automatically win the match. Some arenas have power-ups and health boost icons which you can try and aim for before landing on a card but the Bakugan can only be manoeuvred for a certain amount of time before coming to a grinding halt. It takes a degree of skill to be able to pick up a load of bonuses and then land on a card.

So, if you have a weak Bakugan it’s best to roll around for a while to try and pick up power-ups so that it’ll become strong enough to fight against whatever is in the arena. If your beast is pretty strong already then the ideal thing to do is to smash straight into a rival as this’ll knock some of their health off and then let a battle commence.

Ignoring the candy coated exterior and cheesy voice-acting, Bakugan is a pretty good game. So much so that the newly released sequel – Bakugan: Defenders of the Core – has made it to my virtual shopping list once it comes down in price.

Apr 27

Swedish developers GRIN only made a few games before filing for bankruptcy. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and its sequel were easily their finest moments. Dismal movie tie-ins Wanted: Weapons of Fate and Terminator Salvation were their worst. Bionic Commando sits in between. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s like playing one of the shoddiest games ever.

Dreadlocked and fowled mouthed hero Nathan Spencer is equipped with a bionic arm that can be used to swing through the levels, and then later in the game grab hold of enemies and fling them though the air. Throwing cars at foes is oddly satisfying too, especially cars that are on fire.

The first few levels aren’t anything spectacular including a ruined office block and a derelict city but the later levels, such as a public garden with giant greenhouses, are a lot more alluring. I think if GRIN had changed the level order it would have made a greater first impression on people. The flora and fauna is really quite beautiful in places.

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Jan 09

GIJoe

There are plenty of mysteries in life with G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra’s 16+ age rating being one fine example. There’s no blood, no swearing, no dismemberment and most of the enemies are robots or mechanical machines. When you consider that Batman: Arkham Asylum is only a 15 certificate, it’s very odd indeed. There is a character called Snow Job, but unintentional innuendo alone isn’t going to get the game a 16+ rating.

I was well aware of the mediocre reviews G.I Joe gained on release. However, I was also aware that it’s a fairly simplistic arcade-style run and gunner, which appeals to the retro fanatic inside me. At £7.99 from ShopTo’s sale it seemed rude not to, and although the graphics aren’t anything to get excited about it’s quite a fun blaster with more depth than you might originally expect. The hardcore mode lives up to its name at least; three hits and you’re out. The casual mode plays more like one of the Lego games – you get infinite lives but your score is docked at the end.

At the start only two characters are available with more becoming unlocked once rescued or by finding their contracts during missions. Each has their own skill and has a different weapon, so trying to find the right mix of characters to take into battle adds a tactical element. I always had Heavy Duty on my team though; he’s a good all-rounder. The CPU controlled characters doesn’t take damage so if you’re ever getting low on health you can sneakily swap characters to prevent dying. Activating the ‘super suits’ or (whatever they’re called) gives you some extra firepower and the theme tune from the 80s cartoon blares out in an unashamedly cheesy manner.

Of course, those mediocre reviews weren’t dished out unfairly – it is repetitive and the auto aiming system is a bit naff. But playing this is just like playing a 16-bit shooter (Contra / Probotector spring to mind) only in shiny new 3D, which is something you can’t say about a lot of Xbox 360 shooters.

May 04

TheClub

When a game sells about as well as chocolate covered poo it’s a blow to both the developer and publisher. But it’s not all bad news – after hanging around on shelves for a few months unwanted games more often than not end up in the bargain bin at silly prices. Is £2.97 a silly price to pay for The Club on Xbox 360? I’d say that it’s about a sensible as a giving yourself a paper cut in the eye.

The Club is a result of Project Gotham Racing developers Bizarre Creations trying to do something different with the third person shoot’em up genre. If you fail to kill anybody as you run around the maze-like environments then your score multiplier starts “bleeding out”. Some levels require you to simply stay alive for three minutes or so while enemies swarm towards you, others force you to run and gun to a signposted exit killing as many people as you can on the way. The most unique levels play like something out of a racing game with laps to complete and time extension tokens to pick up.

Trying to beat high scores and rack up huge multipliers is addictive stuff but I think the main reason I enjoyed playing this is that on casual mode it’s stupidly easy. I managed to play through the whole game, dying only once or twice, in around three hours. The levels are short but varied; I just wanted to keep playing to see what was coming next. And of course, because it’s so easy I didn’t find myself wanting to throw the joypad across the room in frustration.

If you fancy feeling like a big man for a few hours, then blowing a fiver or so on The Club isn’t a bad thing to do.

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