Tagged "Winter Stars"

Nov 25
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Just think – in an alternative reality Winter Stars could be a game based on the stars we see on TV over the festive period. Gene Wilder as the original Willy Wonka, Sean Connery in one of the old James Bond films and Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin. Maybe also The Queen, if you can count her majesty as a celebrity. I suppose she is, in a strange way.

In this reality though Winter Stars is a collection of 11 winter sporting events. Developers 49Games have made a few winter sports packages in the past, but this is the first that has been made with the Kinect in mind. The menus are stylish and easy to navigate and a plot, complete with cut-scenes, holds it all together. At the start of the incredibly long lasting career mode your team of athletes stands at just three but as the story progresses more sports stars join your team, and thus new events become available. A lot of the new faces defect from another manager who forces his stars to resort to unfair play while another comes from a sponsorship deal from an energy drink company. The voice-acting isn’t up to much but the presence of a story does help drawn you into the proceedings.

When playing for the first time you’re asked if you want to activate family mode. Family mode simplifies the controls, right to the point where you don’t even have to worry about manoeuvring while snowboarding or skiing. Instead, all that’s requested is that you copy the poses at the bottom of the screen when prompted. In events like paraskiing and the biathlon (which involves a target range) you aren’t given your first pose to copy until about thirty seconds in which makes you feel more like a spectator than a player. In other events though, such as figure skating, family mode makes the game a lot easier and enjoyable to play.

The entire game can’t be played in family mode – when trying a challenge you’re handed back full control. Snowboarding and skiing work brilliantly with the Kinect and paraskiing (skiing with a parachute strapped to your back) is good fun, even though tricks in this event are performed automatically.

Curling is slightly laborious – to speed up your opponent’s turn you have to hold your arm out to one side. Cue one tired arm. Fortunately curling doesn’t become available in the career mode until around four hours in, so it’s not like it’s forced upon you right from the start. Bobsleigh is certainly fast but it doesn’t boil down to much – running on the spot to get a good start then gently moving left and right to stick to the racing line.

The career mode is set on a branching path so you can pick and choose what events to partake. The difficulty curve is well judged – challenges start out easy but then get progressively tougher. Winning events awards XP that can be used to buy new equipment and upgrade skills, with extra XP awarded for things like not shoving rivals out of the way and for getting off the starting grids smoothly.

There’s also an online mode, complete with leaderboards, and a local multiplayer mode.

Coming from a small developer, Winter Stars is a pleasingly polished package. Visually it is easy going on the eyes, with some charming snowscapes, and with a career mode that’ll take weeks to finish a little bit of love for it will go a long way.

You do though need to take the rough with the smooth and considering half the events are on the dull side there is a lot of rough to contend with.

Nov 24
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The home consoles did very well for themselves last week, with dozens of new renditions of big name franchises making an appearance. This week it’s the DS and 3DS that get to shine.

Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call is this winter’s big DS offering from Nintendo. Us Europeans however aren’t quite getting the full package – Nintendo has removed a reportedly 100+ hour RPG mode that was present in the US version. Nintendo explained that if they were to translate it into the half-a-dozen European languages that there are then they wouldn’t have been able to release it this year. Even without it though reviews have been strong. NGamer gave it 83% although they did suggest playing the other ones first if you haven’t as Spectre’s Call explains Professor Layton’s beginnings.

Doctor Lautrec and The Forgotten Knights is a very similar offering from Konami, out on 3DS this week. NGamer said it does an awful lot, but it fails to do any of it well. It walked away with a 56% review score.

NGamer also reviewed Sonic Generations on 3DS. Not quite as good as the console version, it would seem, but still very good. They dished out 79% calling it “good-looking and fan-pleasing”. The 3DS also sees the releases of Frogger 3D, Imagine Fashion Designer, Horrid Henry: The Good, The Bad and The Bugly, Happy Feet Two, F1 2011, Cooking Mama 4, James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes, Mahjong 3DS: Warriors of the Emperor and Namco’s RPG Tales of the Abyss. We’d wager that out of those F1 2011, Cooking Mama 4 and Tales of the Abyss are worth a look.

We did though play the demo of Happy Feet Two on Xbox 360 and it wasn’t quite as terrible as we feared. But should you buy it over the glorious looking Rayman Origins? No, of course not. It’s out on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii this week with reviews mostly 8s and 9s. Try the demo if you’re curious – it has a generous amount of levels to explore.

WWE ’12 and The Lord of the Rings: War in the North are this week’s other big console releases. WWE ’12 was given a lot of love from IGN: “What THQ has done here serves its audience spectacularly. WWE ’12 retains and improves upon the already-great presentation of its predecessors, capturing a likeness of wrestling that is uncanny. And it plays just as well as it looks. This should be considered a milestone for the wrestling simulation genre. It’s certainly a much-needed breath of fresh air.” They handed it a 9.0. Games Radar was also positive about it smacking an 8 down.

The Official Xbox Magazine US awarded The Lord of the Rings: War in the North a 7.5: “War in the North is hardly the most memorable adventure through Middle-earth, but you won’t regret any of the time you spend fighting across its grim battlegrounds.”

Just like the two above, King of Fighters XIII – out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – is an acquired taste. 360 Gamer magazine reviewed it this month and gave it an 8. The Official Xbox Magazine said it may be a overwhelming for new fans and gave it 8.5.

Last week the world received Dreamworks Super Star Kartz; this week we get Ben 10 Galactic Racing. The DS version scored 51% in NGamer. “Galactic Racing is alright” they said. It’s probably safe to assume that quote goes for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii versions too.

Winter Stars, out on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, has been designed for use with the PS Move, Kinect and Balance Board respectively. The Official Xbox Magazine US liked the fact it has a story mode linking all the events together, and said that the career mode is lengthy. They gave the pretty snowscapes a thumbs up too.

Then there’s Puma After Hours Athletes for PS Move. It’s not about what two people do when they love each other very much, but rather a collection of ‘late night’ sporting events. Darts, bowling and pool, to be precise. Like most PS Move games, it’s available online for a purse pleasing price.

Next week: Mario Kart 7 (3DS), Puss in Boots (PS3, 360, Wii, DS), Ace Combat: Assault Horizon – Legacy (3DS), Super Pokémon Rumble (3DS), Order Up!! (3DS), Just Dance 3 (PS3) , Power Rangers Samurai (Wii, DS) and a load of Square-Enix’s PSP RPGs being released on the PSP Essentials range.

© 2001-2017 Games Asylum