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Wii Motion Double Plus Fun

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 27 July 2009 12:02 (A review of Wii Sports Resort)

This is in part a review of the new Wii Sports Resort, and also part review of the new accessory that comes bundled with it, the Wii Motion Plus that gets added to a standard WiiMote. Many new games coming out take advantage of this plug-in, and after playing the new Wii Sports Resort this weekend, I'm almost tempted to say I will only be buying games that take advantage of it.

In a nutshell, its perhaps the way the WiiMote should've been done in the first place. In the original Wii Sports, you can have a match of tennis vs a 6 year old and have them beat you, even though they swing around like a demented monkey. Or to see my four year old daughter get three strikes in a row in Bowling, sure it gave her a bit smile, but really killed my score. But now, with the Wii Sports Resort, one thing has changed with the addition of the Wii MotionPlus - precision.

It includes 12 different activities, with many variations of each one of those. And most of them are a blast and fun to do. But one catch. It may not make good impressions for the really young Wii fans out there. In fact, it made my daughter cry when each time she tried to bowl in the new game (Bowling and Golf make a re-appearance in Resort, but with highly increased precision), she kept getting gutter balls. To sum it up, the original Wii Sports, its mostly a gimmick and fun party game for the whole family. The new Wii Sports Resort, its much more of a Sports Simulator that is an even better party game, but only for the older kids and adults that will treat the WiiMote as they would the actual device. Another great example is the Golf portion. In Wii Sports, you can sit down on the couch and do a flick of the WiiMote and do a nice drive down the fairway. In Wii Sports Resort, you need to stand up, hold the WiiMote firmly in both hands, and do a full swing, and keep a very close watch on making sure you don't twist your wrists, or the ball will go slice far into the rough.

Although I haven't played it a while, some of the better activities are jetskiing, frisbee throwing, archery, table tennis, the new Golf, and Sword Play. One of the weak points (IMO) are cycling and basketball. Cycling especially just feels like it should belong in Wii Fit and not in this title.

But overall, a solid 9 out of 10 for the game itself, with and extra 1 point added for the free Wii Motion Plus that comes with the box (but I did go and buy a second one for $25 for my other WiiMote). So a perfect 10 out of 10 and a MUST BUY title for all Wii owners out there.

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Beautiful and damn near perfect...

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 22 July 2009 02:13 (A review of Braid)

I'm stunned. How can a game, in this age of multi-million dollar development budget, photo-realistic 3D graphics, motion-sensing world, how can a 2D platformer with simple 'arrows keys and spacebar' controls, developed by one guy, how can it leave such massive ripples in the gaming industry? One word: Innovation.

At first, it may appear like a been-there-done-that game where the character jumps on enemies heads to kill them, and tries to save a princess in the process --- until you start to play it. I challenge any gamer out there to try out the [Link removed - login to see] of this title to see what all the fuss is about. Its all about the gameplay. Well, that isn't entirely true -- the stunning oil-painting visuals that seem to be alive in the background, and the enchanting soundtrack are two more huge bonuses. But primarily, it's the gameplay.

How do you get a key out of a deep pit? Simple. Fall in, grab it, and rewind time. How do you open two doors with one key? Simple. Open door #1, rewind time, then open door #2. But that's just the tip of the massive iceberg. Some items are affected by time travel, others aren't. And later on, on some levels, you can make the character unaffected by time travel as well. And some levels are freeze-frame, where each step you take moves time forward or backwards for enemeis. Other levels have a shadow of last action you made, and all these elements need to be used to their best ability so you can solve puzzles and ironically collect puzzle pieces (which themselves become part of getting more puzzles solved -- you put together a particular jigsaw puzzle, only to reveal a platform which you then use to jump onto to reach the final puzzle piece).

It's the perfect recipe for a game. Beautiful graphics, nostalgic elements of past platformer games (like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros), great music, time manipulation puzzles, easy to play and hard to master.

The only reason I dock it 1 point from a perfect 10 out of 10 is lack of story and lack of tips. There is a lame 'save the princess' plot to follow, which I guess was put in to give the game an extra mario bros flashback, and many times I found myself referring to Google and Youtube videos to figure out how certain gameplay elements work, since there is no help within the game on how to use your new-found powers. I'm also perplexed why the game starts at World 2, then 3 and 4, with no sign of any World 1. But these points are minor. If you're a gamer, you need to try out this game. It's truly revolutionary and unique, which puts it ahead of 99% of releases from 2009.

PC Trailer:

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Right direction, wrong execution

Posted : 14 years, 9 months ago on 3 March 2009 04:25 (A review of Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle)

To all the older gaming crowd amongst us, mention Adventure games, and you will get great flashbacks to the classic early 90s Sierra and LucasArts titles such as [Link removed - login to see], [Link removed - login to see], [Link removed - login to see], [Link removed - login to see], and [Link removed - login to see]. But we all are fully aware that this genre has pretty much died these days. Certain titles do break thru into the mainstream ([Link removed - login to see], [Link removed - login to see], [Link removed - login to see]) but for the most part, adventure games are released to the same small group of die-hard fans.

But a few years back in 2003, there appeared a runaway hit, in the for of [Link removed - login to see]. Blending great humor, slick cartoon-like graphics, a great story and nice puzzles, it sold well and gathered nice reviews from most sites. So it was with high expectations that I was looking forward to its sequel, Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle. And what a huge letdown it is.

I had great hopes for it at the start, because the intro is very up-beat, with a great song, and truly almost feels like the start of a major motion picture, and not a video game. But after the plane crashes, and you're thrown into the classic adventure game formula or pointing & clicking on items and trying to figure out what to do next to proceed to the next scene, I quickly realized how weak this title is. For starters, even though its the same character as the original, it feels like a completely different (and worse) individual. You are now a surfer dude, arrogant, sexist, and even though you are on vacation in Hawaii with Gina, you seem more concerned with flirting with the local bar girl rather than trying to find out where Gina's parachute landed during the plane crash. And the puzzles and inventory items you need to piece together to achieve goals are downright insulting to anyone with half a brain. And even one particular scene early on, when I thought right from the start the best thing to do would be do put booze into the robotic dog (if you play it, you'll know what I mean), the game simply refuses to allow you do that, until you first try it with water, then it fails, then it allows you to use the booze instead. And many other parts along the way are this insulting, resulting in going back and forth to same locations until the story finally 'allows' you to use the item you had all along.

Next up, the story. I got part way into chapter 3, so I dont really know the full story, but from the parts that I did discover, I'm actually quite bored and dont really care to find out what happens next. Ok, so there is a shady colonel doing something secret in Hawaii, and he probably knows what happened to Gina. Great. What exactly it has anything to do with flirting with a bikini girl at the beach, I haven't got the faintest, and I really dont care. And all the text dialog all point to same conclusion, so I found myself just clicking thru it fast and not even reading along, also in part because of the next negative point: the humour. As in, there is none. But its worse than that. They are clearing TRYING to be funny, but its such lame jokes that it just bores me and insults me. Oh, the monkey is drunk. haha... because I gave it some booze! and now it wants MORE booze! oh, that is comedy gold! (apply sarcasm)

I really wanted to love this game; I love adventure games, I loved the original Runaway, and the production value is very high (graphically, voice acting, music - all reasons why I gave this game a generous 5 out of 10). But if the gameplay is so broken that its frustrating and insulting to try to figure out the puzzles, the story is dull, and the dialogue feels like its written by some high school kids, I gave up and uninstalled the game maybe about 1/10th of the way into it.

The worst part is that this game had such a potential to be a smash hit that re-awakens the Adventure genre, but since the core gameplay was completely ignored, I cannot recommend this to anyone. Its probably only good in the form of a movie-like walk-thru, using a guide you find on the net for this game's stupid puzzles.

High-definition trailer:

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A Truly Epic RPG

Posted : 14 years, 10 months ago on 8 January 2009 03:41 (A review of Mount & Blade)

Let me start off by quoting a blurb out of Gamespot's review, because it was that review in particular that kept me away from this title, and I'm glad I read thru many gamer's reviews to give this title a chance.

From Gamespot Review, in which they gave it a low 6.0 out of 10:
TaleWorlds Entertainment has come up with one of the most innovative and user-friendly re-creations of combat ever seen in a first/third-person RPG, with exciting battles on foot, mounted on horseback, and at the head of a private army. Unfortunately, this derring-do is only one part of a cheaply stitched-together, single-player-only role-playing game that replaces plot with a sandbox world that leaves you without a clue of what to do or where to go. There is something positive to be said for wide-open RPGs that leave the storytelling up to you, but this game is so incomplete that it'll feel as if you're being asked to script a heroic saga without the benefit of pen and paper.
[Link removed - login to see]

Despite the scathing review above, this release is getting quite a good reputation amongst fans of epic RPGs. I'm not a fan of review that bash a game because it doesn't fit a 'mold' they envision. It seemed that GS was comparing this as the next Oblivion, but fact is this is a very ambitious and great game by an indie developer. They didn't have a massive budget for Hollywood-style voice actors, riveting plot and very tight storytelling and scripting. And to be honest, many gamers out there want a game that is very open-ended and throws you into a world where you determine your own goals and quests. And judging by the vast amount of gamers who wrote their own [Link removed - login to see] on Gamespot's website, majority do view its wide-open gameplay as a bonus, not a negative, and the attack combat system certainly puts games like Oblivion to shame.

Its nice to see indie developers pushing the envelope in game design, and it makes GS look very biased when they review such a great title as this one. If you're a fan of massive Epic RPGs and are NOT a fan of hold-your-hand very linear storytelling in games, you owe it to yourself to check this gem out.

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Posted : 15 years, 2 months ago on 11 September 2008 05:04 (A review of You Don't Mess with the Zohan)

I've seen some real shit films in my life, but this has, to date, quite possibly been the worst fucking movie I have ever seen. This movie makes 'Little Nicky' look like a masterpiece.

Not even worth wasting another word on...

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Glad I didn't waste money on this

Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 29 April 2008 04:39 (A review of Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights)

'Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights' is yet another run-of-the-mill generic console racing game to get released on every platform under the sun. Xbox360, PS2, PS3, PSP and DS editions of this game were developed, and I use that term with reservations, as this game wasn't so much developed, but rather coded up by a late-shift coked-up monkey at THQ.

The PC/Windows edition of this racing game was released in Europe in December 2007, and its coming soon to North America, but I pray it never reaches these shores. I've played lots of sloppy ports before, most recently [Link removed - login to see], but at least in that game, they attempted to code up support for a steering wheel. The drugged up monkey at THQ didn't even bother to include support for a steering wheel & pedals for this racing game. Let that soak in. ZERO support for a wheel - in a racing game. Yes, that alone made me scream in rage.

Oh, and it gets better. Of course as with all sloppy console ports, there is no mouse interaction at all, but these guys didnt even bother changing bitmaps and key assignments. You are presented with Green 'A', Red 'B' and Yellow 'Y' buttons as you navigate the idiotic menu system. Yes, you actually have to hit the letters A, B or Y to set your options.

As I'd try this game even with a bloody keyboard (actually bloody from all the times I had to hit arrow and enter and A, B and Y keys before I finally got to a fucking race), I figured maybe the game would make up for it in gameplay/graphics. But it got even worse. I just played a bit of [Link removed - login to see] and [Link removed - login to see] earlier this evening, with full graphics, full rez, full AA and HDR, and both those games ran as smooth as a baby's bottom, but Juiced 2 looked like shit, and was choppy as shit as well. And I mean 'so-choppy-it-was-unplayable'. And its not even a frame rate issue. It was smooth for 2 seconds, then screen locked up for a half a second. Smooth for 2, locked for half. And in half a second, I always re-appeared crashed into a wall.

So game's graphics look horrible, menus are ripped straight out of an Xbox, there is no steering wheel support whatsoever, and its got some serious lag/stutter/lock-up issues making the game un-driveable even with a keyboard. If I could give this turkey a 0 out of 10, I would. My only consolation is that even the console versions are crap, based on reviews and sales figures, so nobody will hear or care about this PC release. But if you do happen to see it by next christmas in the $2.99 bin o' crap games, spend that money on a hot dog and pop instead.

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The Ultimate Test Drive

Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 29 April 2008 12:49 (A review of Test Drive Unlimited)

[Link removed - login to see]I grew up in the golden era of PC Gaming - the DOS years of late 80s & early 90s - so I'm very familiar with this series' roots. But despite its concept early on, with add-on packs of different cars to test drive, the series never flourished, and was nothing more than second (or third) fiddle to the hugely popular Need for Speed series. The closest the game actually felt like a test drive was the first Off-Road spin-off series, with a large selection of trucks & SUVs, and wide-open terrain to explore, and the buggy but ambitious Test Drive III.

And now comes Test Drive Unlimited, released a few years back for the Xbox360 and then on the PC. It is the latest (and perhaps the last, given Atari's financial woes) of this long running series of driving/racing simulators. And man, what a ride it is!

Unlike the disaster of a PC racer that is [Link removed - login to see], TDU developers took a lot of effort to make this PC game much more than a worthless port. For starters, not only are steering & pedals well supported and setup, driving with a wheel feels very realistic and is a pure blast. And OMG, mouse-driven menus in a console port! Unheard of! :)

You start the game with $200,000 and a ticket to Hawaii. Upon your arrival, you choose a rental car, choose a house (which acts as a hub for your stats and multi-car garage for the cars you purchase along the way), and go to various dealership to test drive and pick your first ride. I started off with a sexy Audi TT Coupe, bright red.

And now the beauty of the game. It's open-ended, and the world is massive (complete island of Olahu, to be exact). And driving 15 miles actually feels like driving 15 miles. And on a high-end system, you crank out all graphics and turn on HDR and you've got a stunning looking world to explore. Various races are held throughout the island, as well as several missions (courier, hitch-hikers, etc..) are you chances to rack up money. You can sell your cars, collect them, but other than paint jobs and rims, you won't find Grand Turismo or Need for Speed Underground level of tuning. This isn't pimp my ride - this is test drive the world's most beautiful exotic cars (although several dozen cars from all dealership, from GM, Nissan, Audi, Cadillac and many others, are available - its not strictly supercar city). Damage however is non-existant, except for fact more cars you hit, the more the cops will be out after you with a hefty fine (racked up a $20,000 fine after evading the cops for half hour, passing numerous road blocks, and trying to hide from them. Man, that was a riot :)

And let's not forget about the music and sounds. Every car is perfectly re-created, not just in details, dashboard and instruments, but also by engine sound. And if you turn on the radio, you'll notice the game comes loaded with a killer list of tracks (although its easy to link to your mp3 folder for a personal radio station.)

I haven't had this much fun in a driving/racing game in ages. I mean, if racing is your thing, there's so many to choose from on the massive island (and even more if you choose to race online, where everyone else is driving around the island in real-time, waiting for challenges). And if you just want to drive around a beautiful island, in a lambo with the top down, soaking in the rays, you can do so as well, for hours at a time without seeing the same scenery. This game truly is unlimited.

Gameplay: [Link removed - login to see]

The only drawbacks some may see is lack of customization of your cars (which in all honestly, go play NFS: Underground or something similar, if that's your thing). Also even though handling of the car is quite accurate, physics and damage model are not (the car never seems to be affected by damage, and everything except for street signs is totally rigid and indestructible). The lack of any pedestrians is also a bit weird, especially after being used to moving down people in GTA. ;) But I'm sure to model up all the buildings, every tree and shrub, and have tons of dynamic traffic around, it was probably deemed unnecessary to include pedestrians, as it would just kill system requirements needlessly.

Presentation (graphics, framerates, level design): 10/10
Gameplay (controls, interface, game mechanics): 9/10
Sound (sound FX, music, voice acting): 10/10
Personal slant (fun factor, nostalgia): 8/10
Overall: 9.3 / 10

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Colin McRae rolls in his grave

Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 April 2008 06:08 (A review of Colin McRae: DiRT)

[Link removed - login to see]DiRT, the next gen installment of the long-running Colin McRae series of off-road/rally games, is getting some good reviews on the net, and being a rally racing fan, I was excited to finally get my hands on this title. Unfortunately, the excitement ended very quickly.

Let me say the few pros of this game before I bash it senseless. For starters, this is a beautiful game, and it gave me great framerates at full resolution. It's probably one of the finest looking racing games to come out on the PC to date. And that's all the praise this lemon is getting.

The Joys of Installing: As seems to be the current trend, games are released so buggy they need a patch before you can even run them, and DiRT is no exception to that. In fact, had to get 2 patches before my steering wheel & pedals would even be recognized in this driving game. Its not like my hardware is obscure - it's a Logitech Formula GP.

Interface: The game's menu and navigation make this title feel like a sloppy port. Mouse is not recognized, so I have to resort to bashing the arrows keys, Enter and Esc a dozen times to get anything done. Even when its saving progress and settings, the game keeps telling me not to turn off my PC. Yes, that's just what I was going to do. Turn off my PC and lose data on my memory card. *roll eyes*

Racing & Driving: Now for the painful part. I do not believe that Codemasters have spent more than 3 hours tops programming in support for a steering wheel. I turn the wheel, and car responds two seconds later. Sure comes in handy flying thru narrow paths at over 100mph. Oh but it doesnt really matter anyways, because the car just bounces off scenery like its made of rubber, and you can honestly drive with pedal to the metal, make a hard turn, and your car flies thru a narrow tight turn like its on an invisible set of train tracks. Thats the whole game. Keep pedal buried, turn wheel sharply. Of course, that wheel delay simple kills you. But if you turn off wheel & pedals and go back to keyboard setting, steering is flawless, instant, and you just keep gas buried and fly thru all the turns, and you will move up the elegant career mode because you'll be winning every race like that.

I want a real racing game though, so I didnt give up. I went to Google and searched up anything I could to improve DiRT. And it turns out I'm not the only one. In fact, everyone with a steering wheel & pedals finds the game hopeless. There's one custom patch that made the grip more realistic, and it helps as it no longer feels like you're on rails, but since you're now actually sliding around and fishtailing and fighting for control of the car (the way a real racing game should be), and you still have that nice 2 second delay to your wheel, you'll find yourself alway in last place, a full minute or more behind all computer car times. So much for career mode.

But since this is the only recent rally game for the PC, I had to give it one more chance. Maybe me (and everyone else) on racing forums were wrong. Maybe it's just been a while since I played a racing game with my wheel on my PC (probably has been 6 months at least), so I fired up Richard Burns Rally, and was in heaven once more. Every single twitch of the wheel is recognized, you can pull awesome moves, and the game honestly feels like you are really driving. And I noticed something else in that game - the sense of speed. In Richard Burns game, you can feel the speed. I loaded up DiRT, and noticed the difference. Going 50km/h or 100km/h or 150 km/h, its such a minor change. Its almost like your speedometer and the rate the scenery flies by you are on two seperate clocks. You go 150km/h in RBRally down a narrow forest track, you're crappin' yourself. You do the same in DiRT, and you can look around and enjoy the scenery and call your wife on your cell phone and maybe flip thru your CD collection. It doesnt have the sense of speed whatsoever.

The Final Verdict: It's a pretty game, but it's nothing more than a keyboard-driven arcade racing game. And if using a steering wheel in a racing game feels worse than using a keyboard, there's a major problem. It may be a fun game on consoles, but PC racing fans should avoid this at all cost.

Presentation (graphics, framerates, level design): 8/10
Gameplay (controls, interface, game mechanics): 1/10
Sound (sound FX, music, voice acting): 3/10
Personal slant (fun factor, nostalgia): 1/10
Overall: 3.3 / 10

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rehashed american junk

Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 11 April 2008 07:42 (A review of 21)

This movie was great!.... when I saw it 4 years ago, as a Canadian-made film called [Link removed - login to see].

[Link removed - login to see]
That's Hollywood for ya - no more original ideas left. They had to steal all Canadian actors, now they're stealing our movies too. And some IMDB reviews are calling it 'fresh and original'. *sigh*

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Kind of grows on you...

Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 9 April 2008 12:28 (A review of Super Mario Sunshine)

[Link removed - login to see]
Being a mario fan for life, I knew I was going to have to get Sunshine for my Gamecube, despite some of the poor reviews I read. And to be honest, at first, I tried it for about 20 minutes and was rather disappointed. The water canon / water jet pack was too strange and too different, and I think the issue I had was that Mario seemed to do 90% squirting and 10% jumping in this game. That's not the Mario I know and love. First impressions, I probably would've given it a 4 or 5 out of 10, and was even contemplating trading the game in at a pawn shop.

[Link removed - login to see]

After it sat on my shelf for 6 months untouched while I was having fun with Paper Mario, Zelda Wind Waker, Mario Party series, Mario Tennis and Mario Kart, I finally decided to give Sunshine a second chance this past week, and I'm actually hooked. What's odd is that levels are scattered all over the place and there is no set path you must take, but each level is actually very nicely made and very creative, and there is a lot more jumping and other tricks Mario has to do than just using his water pack. But once you get over the initial 'WTF is this?' feeling when loading the game for the first time, you will find a very addictive 3d platformer.

Inspiration for Super Mario Galaxy?

For the negatives, there are a few issues I find rather frustrating. First, the way the characters talk, with the arcs of blue ribbons, is ugly as sin. It almost makes me not want to interact with all the townsfolk. They should've just stuck to Paper Mario style bubbles. Second, the camera is a major pain in the arse, often rotating when you don't want it to rotate, clipping behind buildings or mountains, or not rotating in one direction at all because 'something' is in the way. Third, Mario is known for cool unique power-ups, and despite some variety in enemies and ways to defeated them, so far everything is either water nozzle or jump. Where's the Fire Flower? Where's the raccoon tail? Frog Suit? man, give me something different. Maybe it comes later in the game, but after bout 5 or 6 episodes, I'm starting to lose hope in new cool power-ups.


The final verdict: if you love Mario, and have a Gamecube, its a must-have title, though definitely not his finest game.

Presentation (graphics, framerates, level design): 9/10
Gameplay (controls, interface, game mechanics): 6/10
Sound (sound FX, music, voice acting): 6/10
Personal (fun factor, nostalgia, personal slant): 9/10
Overall: 7.5 / 10

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