Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gun Showdown - Not Completed

The PC edition of this game did not impress me. But I did take the time to complete it, this version is a different story. This review will mostly be an addition to my pc review since the content is 90% the same. Gun Review

There was allot of news about this not being a direct port. The game had new missions and kind of a make over. This is true and in most cases it did not feel like many improvements were made. Ill start with the positive, the camera angle was reminiscent of Resident Evil 4. Over the shoulder with a cross hair. This is something I really like in third person shooters, give the game a great feel the standard over the head look. The aiming was controlled by the four buttons on the right side of the PSP. This control scheme was something I tried with Metroid Prime Hunter with very little success. However for gun the control was much smoother and reliable. There appears to be a form of grid snapping. When you move the cross hair it would go a set increment. This is only noticeable when trying to move the cross hair a very short distance and made it difficult to hit enemies at a distance.

Now something I literally hate about this version of the game, the horse. Instead of being able to grab a horse out of a field or on the street, the decided to give you one. This means there’s only one horse you can ride and he will come when you whistle for him. Stuck out in the middle of a field with nothing around, then just whistle so you don’t have to walk. This is a great idea and if they would have left it like this, then all would be fine and dandy. But no they had to make it so when the horse takes damage it will buck you off disappear and regenerate health. This seemed to tweak the horse so that it would take a ton of damage in circumstances that are not very dire. The middle of a mission that requires you to run to a certain place in a certain amount of time and suddenly you get bucked of and are left to walk. In the pc version I don’t think I ever had a horse die, to me this just seems ridiculous.

On the subject of horses the new version does not seem to think you should be able to control the horse. When going into a sprint the horse does not respond very well to turning left or right. This ultimately made me stop playing, trying to run across town and spending to much time peeling myself off a wall I just ran full bore into.

The game is 5 of 10, not to much to add to the version if you have previously played it. The game mechanics and controls are lacking. But the storyline and voice acting is awesome.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nintendo Wii Pre-Order: Completed

With much hazing of the GameStop employees I had counted on visiting this morning in hopes a pre-order might be unveiled. Luckily there was no questioning the event when I received an email confirming that the orders would start today.

My good friend Brian "Moose" Montoya has done this a few times before and suggested we arrive at 7 am. With his previous experience I did not question his assessment of the situation. With very little vigor I slumped out of my bed this morning with one thought "am I crazy for doing this?” Packing warm clothes and two portable gaming machines at ready for a three hour haul that lay ahead. Upon arriving a certain satisfaction came over me, there were already people there. We were not going to sit like idiots for three hours in front of a darkened store, these methods to gain material bliss were justified.

After a few games of Mario kart with the posse of DS packing nintendites the manager arrived. Informed us that he would do his best to open a touch early so we wouldn’t have to wait as long. There were maybe ten people in line at this time and all were excited. The manager returned to let us know he had a mere 24 units to disperse amongst us. This was great to hear and made me almost 40% sure I would get a Wii on launch. The other manager arrived a few minutes later and said nothing. Back to the waiting game and to pass the time I was playing the perfect little gem "Bust a Move". Nearing nine a.m. we started standing and preparing, he said he could open early and that could mean anything between 9 to 9:30. Minutes later the second manager came out with cards and announced they had 20 units to pre-order... wait only twenty? Where had the other four vanished off too. Well we can only assume bad retail business’s not forcing there employees to forego the process us mere mortals must endure.

Finally the doors open and wield my business card stating that I am #4. We have been explained the options that are available to us, consisting of controllers, memory cards, games and what not. My decisions had been made quite some time ago but I need to do something last minute or I wouldn’t be me. So I decide along with my ever so coveted excite series which I can race with my dad I opt for a $30 game "Rampage Total Destruction". I was a fan at a younger age of this game since it represented the closest thing to Godzilla I could find. I reach the counter and speak out what I am there for and pay on my credit card mind you because I don’t really have the money a total of $358. Two games and my Wii, now looking back and happy with all my actions I must wait for November 19th and hope that I actually receive my console.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Star Fox Command - Completed by John Blanco

A pee break can do a lot to change a man's life. Let me explain.

My wife and I were at Best Buy, browsing the Nintendo section, when she had to take a pee break. She's pregnant, so it happens a lot. I hung around looking at games, but there was nothing I wanted to get – and that's when I decided to play with the GameCube demosystem.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, the GameCube is all but dead. So, the demo disc they had was several years old. And what demo did it have on? Star Fox Assault.

10 seconds later, I was addicted.

So in the next few days, I bought every Star Fox game in the series, including the newest one, Star Fox Command! Star Fox Command is a choose-your-own-adventure style strategy/tactics game which includes certain parts of the classic Star Fox battle and introduces some new stuff as well.

The game is divided into missions. At the beginning of each mission is some storyline. The storyline changes depending on what "path" you take. It's just like a choose-your-own-adventure book from years ago. After the chatter, you are taken to a strategic mission screen where you see your team and you need to draw paths to determine who you attack. At first it seems weird, but then you realize you have a turn-based war sim on your hands alongside classic Star Fox combat.

And what about that Star Fox combat? Well, it's pretty standard. It will remind you a lot of Star Fox 64. The enemies look like Zaxxon graphics. Very weird, nothing realistic, but it's still fun. The big thing that is missing is your co-pilots. You are on your own. But rest assured, you still get commentary from them while you fight.

The game took a while to grow on me. The touch screen took some getting used to at first, but after a while it feels so natural you don't even pay attention to it anymore.

The enemies are pretty easy, though you'll run into some toughies from time to time until you really start to understand the capabilities of each ship. The biggest obstacle you'll face in your first few hours will be the missles. They can be a real trick. Just learn which ships are best equipped to take them down, some of the ships are terrible at it (Falco) while some are excellent (Panther!). Later in the game, all the ships will be quite good and capable of taking them down, thanks to multi-lock. (Multi-lock is yourfriend!)

The biggest treat of the game is the multiple storylines. Depending on which path you take, different stories unfold, with most of them integrating in with others. The neat part is that certain paths will result in power-ups for your ship, making previous missions easier the next time through.

With multiple storylines come multiple endings, too. You'll have fun finding them all, and unlocking all the missions and all the characters. After you finish about 3/4's of them, you might start getting frustrated as you've mastered the game but are spending a lot of time looking for new paths. I gave up at around this point -- it just wasn't worth the effort to get every last one anymore.

Some of us don't have Mobat's time after all. ;-)

Overall, I give this game an 8 out of 10. The stylus controls are fun to experience, the multiple storylines give you a reason to play over and over again long after you've solved the game (ala NSMB). The graphics won't overwhelm you, nor will the sound, but the gameplay is a treat.

And Krystal is hoooooooooooooot...sh-wing!

John BlancoJava Game Development
Blog'ed @ http://zablanc.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 06, 2006

Scarface - Completed

This movie is along the same lines as the Godfather. To me it’s nothing big, just another flick I have no real desire to see. The game seemed to follow the same lines, under 6 hours of game play and way to many cut scenes that don’t benefit the game. It’s strange that when I played cars I kept in mind it was a movie game trying to follow the plot of the movie and what not. When the movie is over twenty years old I just don’t get the same feeling. In my opinion they should be pushing the idea of the movie not just the plot.

Now this game is essential a combination of risk and drug wars. You have two different types of crew, pushers to sell your drugs and thugs which do the fighting. You can only have 10 thugs per territory which gives the battles balance for the most part. Pushers play a small but important role. You can have all the drugs in the world and it does you no good unless someone sells them. One pusher can sell so many units of drugs and you can have as many pushers as you want, which makes it just a matter of money to hire them. Ever round you push drugs for certain prices in different territories and that is how you make your money.

Money comes pretty quickly, however the buying system in place makes money management quite important. When you buy a thug the first one is a certain amount, the second one is double that amount and so fourth. At the beginning of each round this is reset, but it keeps you from completely overloading your territory and gives the game a strategic aspect. Like where to place thugs and if more pushers help etc.

Also there is a feature which can be compared mostly to card type games. The cards give you abilities to influence combat, drugs, and the law. Once per turn you can choose to attack an enemies territory. When this attack takes place you can choose from the cards to start off with and watch the battle ensue. The player has no control of the battle outside the card system. Through out the battle it will pause and allow you to play a card. The cards can be something as simple as a grenade to a coked up thug on a rampage. This is honestly the only part of the game I found interesting.

There are ten scenarios in the movie mode of the game. All of them start with a cut scene from the movie and have a vague connection between what your doing on the battle field and what happens in the movie.

This game honestly is 4 out of 10 for me. The graphics of the actual game play suck, I think they try and pull your attention away from this with all the cut scenes. But its a PSP it plays movies why should I be impressed with this. The game is also very short and not the interesting. When you finally beat it guess what the game tells you "If you want to continue your adventure look for Scarface on PS2". Thanks game developer as if I hadn’t just bought this game to play the adventure.

I think most players will be disappointed that they don’t get to shoot a bunch of people with Tony Montana.

Final Fantasy IV - Completed By John Blanco

My first official guest review!!!!

I was a latecomer to the Final Fantasy series. It started when I played Final Fantasy I in early 2006. I never was much into RPG's as a kid, but have grown to love them as a quasi-adult.

After playing Final Fantasy I + II (Dawn if Souls), I had some questions about what the big hubaloo was about. Final Fantasy IV Advance, however, showed me.

FF IV Advance is my favorite FF adventure to date. It's the first title that really integrated a cohesive storyline alongside the usual great turn-based game action.

The game's lead hero is Cecil, a man of mysterious origin who is ousted from Baron's Red Wing army when their missions become a bit too tyrannical for his tastes. His questioning of the King leads to his ouster, and upon finding out who is behind the change in strategy, decides to overthrow Golbez, his sworn enemy.

The game ran me about 25 hours. As opposed to the "on your own" game play of the first title in the series, this game featured a lot of in-game cut scenes. The story flowed nicely, with characters mixing in and out of the party -- characters that would really grow on you.

The redone graphics for the GBA version are clean and the sound and music are much improved over the early GBA titles. Anything is better, anyway, compared to the repetitive music of the first two games.

Along with improvements in aesthetics, the game was far more difficult. I found myself going to the walkthrough more frequently, about 5 times total. Sometimes, I was a putz, but other times it was very difficult to determine what to do next -- no hints, just explore.

Exploration is a sort of double-edged sword with the FF series. The random battles make the mere act of walking around frustrating if you're not in any mood to fight. Additionally, after the fight ends, you are oftentimes puzzled as to what direction you had just come from. It's this hesitation to spend hours exploring a small area, because of the attacks, which led me to the walkthrough to save some time.

The other side of the argument is that the exploration SHOULD lead to more battles as this allows you to be leveling up. I believe this caused my stonewalling later when I couldn't advance because my weak party.

Later in the game, when you advance to the Moon, the enemy difficulty ratchets up severely. I spent hours leveling up, but despite the improvements the battles were still very difficult all the way through the rest of the game. Be prepared with lots of power up items, and make sure you are leveled up quite a bit before tackling the Moon.

The final dungeon was the most difficult of all because of the length and ferocity of the enemies. The Behemoths and Wicked Masks were such a tough hill to climb. There was no easy way to fight them, and they were a drain on health and especially magic. I spent most of my hours in this final push sweating bullets, hoping I could find a save point where I could stop and sleep in my cottage. :-)

Not to give away the ending, but you'll find yourself shitting a brick when you barely make it to the final boss, only to realize you didn't get that save point you'd hoped for!!

Overall, I give this game 8.5/10. The game was great, but sometimes leaves you a bit lost as to what to do next. I believe my problem is that the previous games could be finished in 20 hours and were pretty straightforward. I think it's time to start treating these games like 40-50 hour adventures where your approach is more like an online RPG -- seeking out quests in non-linear fashion and enjoying your opportunities to level up.

I can't wait for FF III for DS! I'm now prepared!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Less then 30 minutes per game!

Alright so this past weekend I was completely unable to find a PSP game I wanted to play. These are the four games that were played and well I just didn’t care for.

Pocket Racers:

It’s a racing game, the tracks are composed of environments you would expect hot wheels to travel through. Messy bedrooms with all kinds of junk in your way and so fourth. The first few tracks were fun, how ever it became fairly dependent on the weapons to get ahead and stay ahead. I wouldn’t recommend picking it up.

Mercury Meltdown:

This looked like a fairly neat little puzzler. But as with most of the puzzle games I have seen lately, it does not give you time or solid control to complete the levels. I could see how this would be fun for the smart bomb crowd but not for me.

Rengoku II:

This is a third person adventure type game. You go from room to room killing enemies, the repetitiveness of the game in the first five minutes turned me off. If you like hack and slash I think you might enjoy this, there might be more to the game I just missed.

Spectral Souls:

Seems like a final fantasy tactics knock off to me. It’s been a while since I played a turned based RPG and I guess I don’t really care for them. Nothing really stands about this game. If you’re looking for an RPG I suggest Tales of Eternia, I think Legend of Hero’s is suppose to be pretty good also.

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