Resistance is Futile

Tonight I'm going to be streaming multiplayer gameplay for Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2 and Resistance.

You can watch the stream at http://www.twitch.tv/vashkey

The servers are being taken down tomorrow and I've tried finding out precisely what time but I was unable to despite looking through Insomniac's and Sony official pages and twtter accounts.

I'd say it's safe to assume that tonight is the last night you can expect to play those game online.

There will be minimal to no commentary and I'm new to Resistance, actually. I just wanted to try the multiplayer before it was gone. Right now I don't have the greatest connection so the video quality isn't going to be high. That said, if you would like to watch just to see what it was like to play on the last night or for any reason I would very much welcome you to watch.

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I swear this blog was going to be about a lot of different stuff-

But then Gears 3 took over

Well, Gears of War 3 is pretty much exactly what I expected. Better, longer campaign with a signicificantly better plot and a much improved multiplayer experience. This is probably my favorite shooter since Halo 3.

As awesome as the game is... Theres an odd lack of enthusiasm I have for it now. After a solid five year run of the super block buster shooter cycle running it's course it's hard to be as enthusiastic about the next big shooter on the block. Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare are just around the corner and I really couldn't care less, and while I've never really been a big fan of either series I at least gave them a little more acknowledgement, previously. I don't intend to play either(especially after having played the Battlefield 3 beta, more on that later).

It's nothing against Gears of War 3 though, it's does just about everything right and It's the best games I've played in years. This'll probably be what I play most up until... Halo 4, I guess.

So what did the game do right? Well, the netcode has been vastly improved, so the competitive multiplayer is actually playable even if your match isn't making use of the dedicated servers. There's a slew of unlockables so you have a lot of motivation to just keep playing. I really love how there an event callendar in the game, it's great to see that Epic has a plan for this game and activities for players to take part in on specific days.

The art direction is fantastic, the environments especially are a great improvement, theres alot of variety in the locations you'll be traversing.

While there aren't really any huge changes to gameplay(and really, why should there be?) some of the minor changes are appreciated like the ability to que up a weapon change while sprinting, the ability to trade weapons with allies and the ability to grenade tag meat shields and sending them hurtling towards foes.

Is there anything wrong with the game? Sure, but nothing very significant. In the campaign there are a few cut scenes that are prerendered and aren't hd, which standout. The seriously 3.0 achievement is just stupid.

4-player co-op, a feature fans have been begging for might not be as great as you might have hoped for. You'll likely have allies go down some what frequently in battle between the four of you and having to constantly revive each other can become a hassle, especially in the tougher fights. If just one of the players die you have to restart from the last check point.

It might sound silly to complain about the difficulty when you can always turn it down but it's either deal with some what frequent deaths or downs vs unchallenging foes. Ultimately, there is a solution, the arcade mode. It's a scoring system like Halo's meta game but in Gears turning this mode on allows players to continue the campaign even if a player dies(said player will respawn after a whole thirty friggin second wait). Which makes a co-op run significantly more enyoable/tolerable, especially on Insane. There is no downside to using it either, you'll still pick up achievements.

Gears of War 3 also alters the horde experience by including many of the bosses you encounter in the campaign in it's boss waves and adding a tower defense element to horde with fortifications like barriers, turrets and decoys. While fortifications are great you may be left wanting to return to the more simple classic horde experience. But it's still great and it really doesn't hurt to treat it like the old horde experience. Fortifications really only serve to slow down locust rather than out right handle them for you, for the most part, and they do practically nothing against bosses.

Beast mode is the new mode on the block and while at first it seems like the Horde mode flip flopped there's a bit more to it. You play as the locust trying to kill the CoG who are armed and hiding behind their own fortifications. It's a class based mode and the more damage you deal to the fortifications and the more foes you kill, the more money you earn which you can use to purchase which classes you want to play as and the more you do you'll be awarded with higher tier classes to play as.

Beast mode features a strict time limit to work under but the time limit is expanded the more you destroy fortifications and kill humans. It's a really fun mode but you probably wont stick with it too long since there are only twelve waves that end all too quickly. It's just not as an engaging experience as the competitive multiplayer or even horde.

While the multiplayer experience as a whole has just improved in playability, whats on offer is largely the same. You have warzone and executions, Gears' classic single spawn deatmatchlike variants with the main difference being that in execution to kill an oppenent you need to either headshot them or execute them. Annex has changed it's name to king of the hill and the original kill of the hill mode is gone. And meatflag and gaurdian have been merged into the "capture the leader mode" where players must capture and hold the enemy leader for a set amount of time.

Gears 3 seem to focus on taking what it already had, mostly cutting what it didn't need and refining it. The only "new" mode is team death match. Closer to what you'd expect to see in most shooter it's pretty much what you expect except that players share a set number of respawns.

While Gears of War 3 hasn't been out for even two weeks it's got "DLC" coming out the wazoo already with weapons skin packs galore and a season pass. Microsoft has made some advances in their microtransaction conquest with Gears of War 3. The most controversial part of this though is that these weapon skin packs are content that are already on disc. Rod Furgesson of Epic games has explained that they made this content on disc so that all players would be able to view it without haing to download anything.

what do I think about it? Well, I have some mixed feelings. Some of these weapons skins were actually show cased in a vidoc for the beta. I think it's reasonable to assume that most if not all of these skins were originally inteded to be unlockable by the players. The concept of buying the skins were never presented until I think weeks before release. Microsoft likely caught wind of the success of the microtransactions we see in many free to play games and decided to try it out here in a premium game that was sure to sell millions. This is purely speculation though.

Ultimately I think there's really only one thing to consider here, is Gears of War 3 worth the sixty dollars as is? I say yes. So while it might be kinda lame that we missed out on some skins and... Other things, probably, it really shouldn't be that big a deal considering what we get in the game right of the bat already far exceeds what most other games offer.

The truly ridiculous thing here though is the price of the weapon skins. A single skin costs three dollars and an animated skind skin costs four dollars. If you want all the skins for one particular weapon only it costs fifteen dollars. If you want the "launch collection" skins, which consists of every skin currently available then it'll run you fourty five dollars. Apparently around twenty something weapons skins are worth four times more than a map pack. Unfortunately, I can see this taking off and becoming an industry standard. While 'm not against the concept of these micro transaction I really don't think the pricing is right at all.

Aside from these weapon skins there's the season pass which will nets you four of the upcoming non weapon skin dlc packs at a 33% discount as well as a free bonus weapon skin set(alot of people seem confused, you aren't paying for a discount, you're paying for all the DLC up front at a discounted price). These will consist of multiplayer maps and a new campaign and characters, but Microsoft has been vague on what specifically will be included. You can already see there are three unreleased maps on the leader boards so it's safe to assume the first dlc pack will be a map pack.

my only concern is if one of these dlc packs will be a character pack or something. I really only want new maps and the new campaign. It would make sense to maybe have these new characters as incentive to buy the dlc but I wouldn't pay for them all on their own.

Now that the dlc shenanigans are out of the way, I feel that while Gears of War 3 is very, very similar to it's predecessors it's multiplayer has been rehauled to the point to where I would encourage those who didn't like previous entries to still give Gears of War 3 a chance. The campaign has a satisfying sense of closure I haven't seen in a game... probably ever. The multiplayer is a satisfying and consistent experience. Gears of War 3 had pretty much everything I wanted... Except a theater mode. :P

Stay tuned for the next blog I promise I'll make soon and totally probably not follow up on in a reasonable amount of time.

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Ten Years ago

Numbers are pretty cool and in the world of gaming(or really, any sort of entertainment medium) people often like to take notice when games or franchises have ageed to ten years, or some other decade. This year though A LOT of very important games and system turn ten.

2001 was a very important year in gaming. Industry changing, genre (re)defining games were released and consoles were launched. You could argue that it was the most important year in gaming in the past decade.

Final Fantasy X was the series first foray into the then new generation of consoles with fully voice acted cut scenes to show for it. Back in a day when fans weren't as divided and Square didn't end with Enix, Final Fantasy X was met with both great critical reception, currently being the fourth highest rated game of the series with over a 91% average on gamerankings as well a a huge sales success being the fastest selling rpg at one time as well as currently being the second best selling Final Fantasy game of all time.

Reception for the title was so good that it convinced Square to break away from their tradition and make a direct sequel to the title which has since become a trend for the series.

Grand Theft Auto III really pushed the envelope on mature content in game and recieved tons of controversy for it. More importantly though it practically invented the open world action adventure sub genre. The massive sandbox it provided attracted many new gamers to the fold and offered many hours of fun unlike anything else around at the time making the PS2 the console to own.

Despite the plot really going off the deep end and Raiden not being Snake MGS2 was an amazing improvement over the original game in terms of graphics and gamplay. Players could now hang from ledges, aim from first person, drag fallen foes to hide their bodies from patrolling gaurds and more. MGS2's one of the earliest examples of mocap in gaming and aside from resolution the game looks very good even today. The game just felt ahead of it's time and was really impressive.

What could I possibly say about Halo here that I haven't already? Halo launched a generation of shooters, it's credited for many gameplay conventions you see in many games even outside of it's own genre such as the regenerating health models and the two weapon capacity. Halo validated the XBOX's existence, being the highest rated game of that year on gamerankings. It was a game worth getting friends together and playing all night at a lan party.

Similar to Halo and it's XBOX, Super Smash Brothers was THE reason you got a Gamecube. The mother of all cross over fighters, Super Smash Brothers Melees was all you wanted in a fighter. Accesibility but a good level of depth. A large roster full characters from gaming's most beloved granchises. Super Smash Brothers was great, but Melee took it to the next level.

2001 saw the release of many great new game franchises such as Devil May Cry, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Red Faction, Max Payne and Project Gotham Racing. And it saw the launch of many sequels such as Sonic Adventure 2, Silent Hill 2, Dragon Warrior(Quest) VII, Mario Kart Super Circuit and Twisted Metal: Black. 2001 saw too many games I could possibly recount but it was a year full of many great games and surely the gamers will remember them.

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Halo: Combat Remembered

Lol

There it is, the new Halo remake. Totally digging the new box art. So we got two new Halo games on the way.

I have mixed feelings about this though. We just got Halo 3: ODST and Halo Wars in 2009 and Halo: Reach last year. Now we're getting another Halo game this year and Halo 4 next year? Thats four straight years of Halo. Not only that but Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy. We're gonna have a Halo 5 and 6? Just how long after 4 will they come?

I guess my concern is if Halo is becoming a yearly thing. I love Halo and all but Xbox is getting a bit cramped with them. We're getting to the point where a Halo game announcement just doesn't have the same impact. I doubt that for many people the announcement of two new Halo games really significantly improved their outlook of the Microsoft press conference.

Well, with that rant out of the way lets actually talk about the Halo Remake(and start a new rant). So it turns out this remake is very faithful. So faithful that apparently it's pretty much the same game. All they're doing is improving the graphics. I'm not kidding, one of the remake's features is allowing the player to freely switch between the new graphics and the old.

343 claims they're doing this out of respect to the game and it's fans. I can understand this to an extent I guess. Halo: Combat Evolved has stodd the test of time very well and it's pretty fun.

However, I feel this doesn't leave many people too much reason to buy this. The only people that are really going to enjoy this are the Halo hardcore and those who've never played it before but even for them it might seem a bit odd to if they've played later games in the series since in the original Halo vehicles can't blow up, you can't use the sword and some of the aspects of the physics and animation such as how theres only one animation for flying dead bodies and how Halo Reach used mocap where as Halo 1 used more traditional animation will feel a bit antiquated.

This remake will not include the original Halo's multiplayer. Yeah, too bad, tad disapointed, what ever. I'm not going to dwell on it. Obviously they don't want to kill Reach off already, thats understandable. So This rmake includes seven new maps for Reach, all of which are remakes of older Halo maps(one of them is for firefight).

The odd thing is you can choose to play the Reach multiplayer from the disc but you're limited to these seven new maps. You do not have access to Reach's original maps or the two already rleased map packs. However, the game also comes with a code you can use to download these seven new maps to Reach so that you can play with them along with the original maps and the other DLC map if you already own them.

So what if you don't own Reach? I suppose your limited to only the playlists tht utilise the maps. Will they offer the maps that shipped with Reach as DLC for those who want the maps but don't want Reach? Or do they expect them to just buy Reach if they want the full multiplayers experience?

What ever. I already have Reach so it doesn't to me, I guess.

So when I first saw this I was kinda worried we'd be paying sixty dollars for expansion material again. Turns out that it'll actually just be fourty bucks.

Initially that was a rlief but after some thought I'm not really sure that it's any better a deal. ODST was at least an entirely new campaign and included the new fire fight survival mode along with the complete Halo 3 multiplaye experience. This is just a prettier version of a campaign we've already played with online co-op and a map pack. Still, if not having the complete Halo Reach multiplayer is what stopped this from getting the sixty dollar price I wont complain. As much.

343 claims there are still some additional features not found in the original, such as terminals and some things they've yet to reveal so this remake just may yet further justify it's price.

Oh, and it's releasing on the 15th of November. When I first found this out I thought they were being stupid. Thats only a week after Modern Warfare 3, the same week as Skyrim and the new Assassin's Creed will be out sometime during the month. But then I remembered, November 15th was the same day the original Halo Combat Evolved came out.

I listened to their podcast recently and apparently they had to fight with Microsoft for the price and the release date. These people really care about Halo. They cared enough to make sure this was on the anniversary, they tried to make sure the price was right and they loved Halo so much that they triied to respect the game by keeping the gameplay exaactly as we remembered, quirks and all.

While I can't agree with everything here it's clear that they tried to do this right. I'm betting this will probably be the least well recieved Halo but I think whats important is they've met their goal. It's not like they could of let the occasion go by withoutdoing something big.

And my thoughts on Halo 4?

...

um

It's Halo 4. Not much to be said at this point.

I was originally going to make this an E3 post... But I got too caught up in eh Haloz to reasonably get my thoughts on other E3 content in here. Maybe tomorrow.

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Did Reach fail? Is it the Call of Duty Box?

Today I got on Bungie.net and I noticed something almost surprising...

This is from Halo: Reach's online stats page on bungie.net. As you can see today's population for Reach is just under 500k. I assume most if not all of you do not keep up with this kinda of stuff. I can't blame you, it really isn't that important, I just personally find this kind of stuff interesting.

Anyway, point is the Halo: Reach population has really taken quite a hit. It's slowly been shrinking, but a much faster rate than it ever did for Halo 3. Halo 3's population never wnet below 600k prior to Reach and was regularly above 700k back in 2009.

Now, a few months ago a Bungie employee did clear a few things up on bungie.net about the population counter. Apparently it works differently/more accurately than the population counter for Halo 3 and thats what made up for the discrepency... Back then. But I have difficulty beleiving the this desprency of hundreds of thousands is now fully up to the accuracy to the population counter.

You can attribute the recent population drop to several things. Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 just recently launched, the Gears of War 3 beta just went up and today the newest map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops was released. But still, Reach has been on a slow but sure decline.

So you can't help but ask why. Did Reach do something wrong or is there something else?

I'd say some of it is on Reach.

I don't want to sound like a whiny fanboy but it sorta seems like the additions made to the Halo gameplay in Reach has served as only a detriment. First, lets start with armor abilities.

The obvious offender of the armor abilities is armor lock. With armor lock players can become invincible for a full five seconds(without the ability to move, of course). This put the action to a dead stop. It kills the pace of combat completely. The moment a player uses armor lock the enemy is at a complete disadvantage.

Let me set the usual scenario for an armor lock encounter for you. Two players are in a heated fire fight and the armor lock equipped player shields are dropped so he goes into armor lock. What should the other player do?

One option is to wait for the armor locker to leave armor lock, but thats five whole seconds of waiting. In that time the armor locked player's team mates could easily just swoop in and kill the other player. Another option is for the other player to retreat, but the armor locked player is free to leave armor lock and attack his foe as soon as he tries to leave or turn his attention else where.

Also, keeping in mind that players can sit in armor lock for a full five seconds before running out of energy, thats only one second less the the amount of time it takes for the player's energy shields to start recharging. If the players waits only one second after losing their shields to go into armor lock then by the time they leave armor lock their shields will already be partially recharged.

Armor lock also generate a short range EMP blast based on how long it's held down. If you're near a player leaving armor lock, chances are your shields will go down and all it will take for that player to finish you off is a single melee, so a player using armor lock at close quarters has a huge advantage. This makes using weapons like the energy sword and showgun more risky than ever. Meleeing a player in armor lock also stuns them, not only that but players in armor lock can freely change their view so once they leave armor lock they can be facing a player tha was originaly directly behind them.

Really, the only time you're not at a huge risk dealing with a player in armor lock is when you're at sniping range in a large open map.

Then we have evade and Sprint. The main issue with these is that players will rush up and double melee. With the amount of shots it takes to drop a player's shields in Reach if a player can just be sure to rush in and get a melee on you before you can shoot down their shields they they pretty much have a garenteed kill. Reach got rid of bleed through damage, meaning all damage done with out power weapons do not damage the player's base health until the shields are knocked out.

So say a player has small sliver of shields left and are meleed, it will only knock out the shields. The player will have to melee again to finish the kill(or you know... shoot). But yes, the reason double meleeing is so effective in Reach is because usually a player can not shoot a sprinting player enough to drop their shields before they get in melee range. if bleed through damage was in Reach then this tactic would not be as effective since the rushing player would likely be killed in the melee clash after having been shot up on the way in for the double melee.

The rest of the armor abilities aren't as offensive. Holograms can be picked out from a normal player since crosshairs don't turn red when over a hologram and holograms flicker. The jetpack isn't bad unless used to reach areas on the map that shouldn't be available to players(thankfully these spots are few and far between). Andthe drop shield isn't featured enough in matchmakign to be bad.

Then theres the bloom and the damage output. First off, alot of people really don't seem to understand how bloom works and what it was intended for and really, Bungie probably should have tried to explain that to the players. Alot of people believe bloom was made to prevent player from "spamming the trigger". This is not the case and I really don't see why shooting your gun as fast as possible has suddenly been considered a bad thing.

No, bloom was made so that the non sniper weapons would not be usable at sniping ranges. As the crosshairs expand on the DMR all thats inside the crosshairs are possibly locations as to where the bullet can land. If most or all of the area in the crosshairs are taken up by your target then the bullet will hit the target. Spam on that trigger unless the target is so far away that they do not take up most of the crosshairs.

The real problem with bloom is that once you start spamming the precise location of where the bullet lands is random after a few shots and in a heated battle you have to choose weather to slow down for the headshot once the enemy's shields are down or to keep spamming. The enemy might not stop spammig and once they get your shields they just might get lucky and get a heatshot despite spamming.

Then the damage output. I was reading through a message board a few months ago and almost to my disbeleif I read that in Halo: CE that three pistol shots could kill a spartan(provided the third shot was a headshot). I went back and tested it out and this was in fact the truth. After years of Halo 3 and my recent time with Reach I had forgotten all about this.

Halo has progressively become slower and slower. The player movement has become slower from game to game and the weapons have become weaker. The primary weapon of Halo CE, the pistol, took three shots to kill, The BR of Halo 2 and 3 took four shots(and I'm not going to get into the whole BR spread in Halo 3 debate), and finally in Reach the DMR takes five shots minimum to kill a player. Add bloom into this and you have the longest kill times and the most effort it's ever taken to get a simple kill.

I know it looks like I'm painting a bad picture here, but don't get me wrong. I love Reach. I think it's a great game. I'm just stating some observations. Hell, I still stand by my review.

I wouldn't say it's entirely on Reach though. To be honest it feels like most of xbox live's population is afraid of learning how to play anything that doesn't have the words Call of Duty in the title. For months now not only has Call of Duty: Black Ops dominated Major Nelson's xbox live charts, but Modern Warfare 2 also occupies the number 2 spot, right above Halo Reach. Not only that but Call of Duty 4 and World at War sit at the number 9 and 10 slots, respectively, beating the likes of much newer games such as Crysis 2, Red Dead Redemption and Homefront. Thats right, four out of the top ten most played games on xbox live are Call of Duty titles.

It seems that an annual release cycle, once percieved by many a game as detrimental to a game franchise actual may just help bring of awareness of a franchise.

So, could Reach or a future Halo turn things around? I believe so, through adressing the gameplay issues I stated. Reduce the amount of shots it takes to kill a player and bring back damage bleed through. Nerf armor lock by perhaps reducing how long players can stay in it, getting rid of the EMP, not allowing them to turn the camera while using it and/or now allowing shields to recharge while in armor lock. That or just get rid of armor abilities or armor lock entirely. increase the player's movement speed.

Maybe my fanboy senses are too sensitive and I'm just over reacting though 

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Beyond Good and Evil Impression

I feel like typing stuff here. So I will.

So I bought some xbox games recently, sorta, I figure thats something to talk about.

Beyond Good and Evil HD

Notice I use pictures to make my blogs more interesting to look at. Who wants to look at walls of text? Thats boring.

Anyway, theres actually an interesting story to this game before I even played it. Back in the day I actually used to really want to play this game but I could never find it. To be flat out honest I just thought the main character looked cool and I like my action adventure games, theres really not much else to it. But yeah, I looked real hard and I just could not find a copy.

In 2007 I finally found a copy for the original xbox. Unfortunately, it's not compatible with the original xbox which I got rid of. So I was really happy when I found out that this was being ported to the 360 and in HD in wide screen, but in all that time searching for it and hearing about how it was some hidden gem of the last console generation I feel that maybe that set up my expectations too high.

Beyond Good and Evil could easily be described as an action adventure game in the vein of The Legend of Zelda. Theres a lot of puzzle solving in "dungeons"(not litteral, but they are in the videogame sense). I would say this is the greatest part of the game. The Puzzles are fun to explore and beat. However, every other aspect of the game isn't particularly strong. Theres some stealth But it merely boils down to learning the simple routes gaurds walk(simple as in, they walk in a circle within a ten foot radius) or the four different directions they're field of vision shifts to while they stand in the same spot.

The combat consists entirely of button mashing and occasionally hitting the Y button(if I remember right) to activate your partner's special ability. A neat aspect of the game is photography, you take photos through out the game of animals and you'll recieve chash for it that you can use to buy health restorative items, upgrades and the like. The camera recieves a few other uses through out the game, not too many though. It's hard to describe but the photography is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. Maybe becuase it's just something different?

There are some side activities you can partake in. In the main city there are a couple minigames, a air hockey-like game and a gambling game. Theres are four races you can compete in and four bandit keeps you can raid. None of these side activities will last you very long though, they certainly aren't as sustaining as side activities you might do in a game like Grand Theft Auto.

In fact, the game as a whole isn't very long. I managed to beat the game and earn all the achievements in under eleven hours. I did everything you could do in the game save for a couple of short and meaningless side quests. The game really feels rushed towards the end. As you progress through the game you purchase ship upgrades with pearls you earn throughout the game. The last couple upgrades lack any major story missions in between unlike the other upgrades and one of the side quests practically throws around twenty pearls at you for killing some common monsters you had been beating up with ease early in the game. The effort it takes to get those pearls is completely disproportionate to the effort it took to get the rest. It's as if the game designers ran out of time and had to throw in those extra pearls you needed all in one place.

Alot of people praised the game for it's plot and honestly, I'm not too impressed. It's not bad and I give the main characters props for not join the rebel forces right of the bat without evidence as to why she should unlike most main characters of many games would but aside from that it's nothing particularly great. The writing is cheesy at times and the villains just aren't as well portrayed as the main character.

:::SPOILERS:::

For instance, the leader of the military force's last words are "May the Angels of Darkness Rise to Glory". This character's motivations or origins are never explained. He's just some evil guy. The ending isn't very strong either. A revalation is revealed, Jade apparently is an alien with magic powers and saves the day. This is dropped on the play's lap out of no where and this is litterally the ending. Not much closure

:::END SPOILERS::::

I don't feel Jade is that great a characters. She's not witty, not funny, you can't really say she's particularly courageous, she nearly gives up at one point. I'd argue there aren't really any traits that stand out about her, just the design. I honestly feel most gamers actually believe she's a good character just because she's a girl instead of a guy.

I wish I had typed up my feelings on this game earlier, I generally feel more strongly about things shortly after the experience. At this point I kinda just don't care too much about this subject and sorta half assed this(funny that I say this despite having just typed up several paragraphs on the subject).

Anyway, is it worth it? I guess? When I first saw that the game was just ten dollars I was shocked at how generous Ubisoft was being. Alot of xbox live arcade games are priced at fifteen dollars now a day. Now that I've played the game though I feel this is probably the highest price Ubisoft probably could have sold this and expected people to actually buy it. It's a good game but nothing amazing. You can easily complete everything in less than twelve hours. The most impressive part of the game is the presentaton, top of the line graphics for last gen which is pretty good by Arcade game standards and fully voice acted cut scenes are pretty rare for Arcade games.

It's not a rip off but it's not a bargain either. If you're interested check it out.

Well, I was going to talk about more subjects but it's late and I've gone on about Beyond Good and Evil for longer than I expected. I'll probably blog again very soon about Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and share some thoughts on Halo: Reach.

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Reach Rundown

It was inevitable.  Just prepare for a wall of text my pretties. 

  

Would You Like Some Campaign? 

 

You like cheesy titles too?  Cool!

So like I do with every game I started with the campaign for Reach.  One awesome thing you'll find about the campaign from the get go is that your customized Spartan will be the guy you play as in campaign which will appear in the cinematics.  For this though you pay the price by having a less interesting character as the rest of the cast whom are perfectly comfortable taking of their helmets and expressing their opinions.  Clearly this was done so the player could more easily project themselves onto Noble Six...  Still it's nice this guy isn't a mute like last year's "Rookie" of ODST.

Reach has an interesting and diverse set of characters in Noble team but personally I found it hard to care most of them.  Jorge and Kat probably get the most screen time, you'll likely become more attached to them.  Jun and Emile feel like they're hardly in the game.  Carter's alright I guess.  In the end I actually found last year's cast of over the top ODSTs to be more memorable.

The plot is more about heroism, sacrifice and thrills here.  The game makes no effort of making characters out of the Covenant like Halo 2 and Halo Wars did.  You see this from one side and the game really tries to make the covenant more alien and menacing than before.

How the game ties this story into the trilogy is great... So long as you aren't a hardcore fan such as me who has read the novels and take note of the large plot holes it creates.  That probably my biggest complaint about the game as a whole.  How some of these plot holes slid past Bungie and 343(who's job is to make sure crap like this does not happen) is beyond me.  I've heard that Halsey's journal which is included with the Limited and Legendary editions of Reach cover up some of these inconsistencies, but thats bull.  I shouldn't have to pay extra for a plot hole free story.

I'm not being too specific here with the plot here so I don't spoil it for you guys but it's actually enjoyable, especially if you leave your Halo knowledge absorbing mind at the door.  You don't get to learn too much about these characters, and while it would have been nice to it's not really all that bad.  Like I said this is a story of heroism and sacrifice.  This is about Reach and how Spartan fought to try and protect it and that much the game gets with flying colors.

In terms of how it plays though it's great, theres a ton of variety in the tasks the player is given.  As you've probably seen by the e3 trailers theres one level where you storm a beach fighting the covenant on foot, you then move onto a space battle and then fight on a covenant shit in low gravity.  Halo: Reach has a wealth of set pieces that really mix things up.

At the same time however, alot of these set pieces feel recycled from previous games.  The beach storming scene I just referenced is very reminiscent of the opening to the Halo: Combat Evolved's level "The Silent Cartographer" and Halo 3's "The Covenant".  The games third level is practically a throwback to Halo: Combat Evolved's "Truth and Reconciliation".  The game's still great fun but at times you'll get a sense of "been there, done that".

The enemy ai has been significantly improved over Halo 3.  My main complaint about Halo 3's ai was answered in Reach.  In Halo 3 Brutes spent too much time with animation to challenge the player like they did in Halo 2 or the Elites did in Halo 1.  After you took a Brutes shields out in Halo 3 by the time it took for him finish throwing a fit about it you'd have already had the chance to finish him off with a head shot like three times.

In Reach enemies will frequently fall back to another group of their allies if they find themselves out matched, elites will run to cover if their shields go out, enemies frequently jump out of the way when they find a rocket or grenade coming their way.  Reach has the most variety in enemies as well, the entire covenant and then some join the fight.  We have Hunters, Elites, Brutes, Grunts, Jackals, Engineers, Drones and Skirmishers.  Each of these species aside from the Engineers come with a variety of ranks and come equipped with different weapons.  This is easily the richest combat experience in the Halo series when it comes to fighting the ai.

Despite the game taking place on one planet unlike some other Halo games the scenery has plenty of variety.  You'll be fighting on beaches, in a sterile white ONI facility, In a Shiny purple Covenant ship and even the stary skies above and then some.

All the campaign options remain, you can do 4-player co-op over live and system link, 2-players per box.  You can do scoring, team or free for all like Halo 3 and ODST.  Like ODST skulls are available for use from the outset.  While you wont be hunting them down in campaign like you did in Halo 3 Reach still has it's collectathon fix in the data pads.  You wont be getting any rewards for them this time around though so check out the side stories provide at your on discretion.  Campaign matchmaking will be coming to Reach this October to round out the feature set.

I didn't encounter the problem often at all, but if I recall players can continue to play campaign even if one player drops out.  I'm not entirely certain though but the problem was alot less frequent in Reach than in Halo 3 or ODST.  players rarely dropped out from my experience.

I had a fun time playing Reach's campaign.  I wasn't completely blown away, although I was caught off gaurd by some scenes and set pieces and was impressed over all.

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It's All About Presentation!

 

So, I've already touched on Reach's environments a bit.  It's quite diverse.  However, I'd say whats seen the biggest improvement, graphics wise, is character models.  Specifically faces.  They look awesome now.  In fact, the game as a whole looks pretty damn good.  A nice step up from Halo 3.  Much better anti-aliasing, bigger better environments.  Everything is better.  I still wouldn't say it looks as good as say Gears of War 2 but it still looks great and the scale is pretty much unmatched among console shooters.  Another thing that really helps elevate Reach is that for the first time a Halo game uses mocap, making the characters and how they move more believable.

It's not perfect, however.  The few moments the game more heavily relies on more traditional animation, it sorta stands out.  Especially the assassinations.  They're cool but they look unbelievable, over the top and even goofy some times.  They go perfectly with multiplayer but not so much in campaign where the game is constantly trying to be a more serious than past games.  Occasionally the frame rate seems to take some dips in the campaign when theses a ton of stuff happening on screen.  I haven't had this issue in multiplayer.

Still, this is a big step up for Halo and over all it's a fantastic looking game.

As for the audio, it's just as great as every other Halo game.  Great voice acting.  The sound remains on par with the rest of the series and Bungie is successful in making recognizable sounds for each of the new weapons while adding more umph to the staples. Halo joins the scores of other shooters that have the ringing noises the player experiences after explosions with Reach.  I thought I'd point that out.  Another interesting addition is that while a player is invisible they can't hear anything except music that might be playing in the game.

Speaking of which, music in Reach is awesome.  But anyone familiar with the Halo series probably isn't surprised that Marty does good again.

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The Meaty Center 


Yeah, yeah, campaign is cool and all but must people will agree the heart that keeps the Halo beast alive is the multiplayer and this is just as much the case for Reach as it was for every other Halo game.  Reach brings with it every game type ever featured in a Halo game and then some.  The classics like Slayer, King of the Hill and Oddball return, race is revived and new comers like Invasion and Head Hunter round out the competitive multiplayer scene.  It's safe to say if you value your player vs player shooting theres something here for you.

And if theres isn't you can always make it so with forge and custom games, but more on that later.

Matchmaking has seen a bit of change in Reach.  Right now the selection is more broad.  Less playlists but more variety in game types in each.  After you've found the players to be matched up with all thats left to do is to vote on a list of game types and maps.  Definitely better than Halo 3's veto system.  What unfortunately hasn't been improvised is players still can't join up mid game.  If you find yourself with half team or more gone then you're screwed or you're guaranteed victory depending on game type.

Ultimately whats most important about the experience about the multiplayer is the gameplay and instead of explaining it in a different section I'll talk about it here.

Reach really returns to it's root, or picks up where ODST left off.  It feature recharging shields over a base health system like the first Halo did.  I can't say I feel too strongly about this in any way.  I guess I would have prefered a simply shield system like Halo 2 or 3, but I'm fine with this.  It really doesn't make any significant difference unless it's a one on one between two equally skilled players.  But in most cases that isn't the case.  I do think it's stupid that you have to press the X button to use health packs in Reach though.  In Combat Evolved and ODST all you had to do was get next to the,.

Another thing done that makes Reach similar to the original is there is no dual wielding and personally I fully support this.  In Halo 2 in order to fit the feature in the Assualt rifle wasn't included.  While dual wielding the player can not throw grenades or melee which were two major parts of Halo combat.  In Halo 3 the assualt rifle was brought back and hardly anyone tough dual wields again.  Most dual wielded weapons were really only good in close range and the shotgun beat them there.  And the fact that every time you switched to your other weapon you'd drop one one of the weapons you were dual wielding it really made it more trouble than it's worth.  Personally I felt the feature just didn't add much to the game.

Reach also reduces the amount of grenade types to just two, the classic plasma and fragmentation. I also support this since it makes switching grenade types much more simple and the other grenades featured in Halo 3 really didn't do much the others couldn't.

The major addition to Reach's gameplay here is armor abilities.  These abilities range from sprinting, invisibility, jetpacks and more.  These really change the flow of battle to the point to where I'd say Halo's three golden rules have turned to four.  If any of the part of Reach refreshes the Halo experience it's armor abilities.

The second biggest addition would probably be the crosshair bloom.  You have one part of the crosshair that shows the ideal area of fire you want stay in and a second that expands as you shoot.  If you pace your shot and Keep the second circle inside the first your shots will hit their mark.  The tricks here though is that you need to learn the rhythm in which you should shoot your gun in what ranges.  You can think of these blooming crosshairs are guideline rather than rules in close range.  Feel free to spam the trigger on the pistol at close range just try to slow down for the finishing head shot once the shields are down.

 Speaking of weapons, I'd say Reach's set are pretty well balanced.  Every weapon is pretty useful.  I don't feel like going into detail since theres a long list of weapons here, I'll talk about the most notables.  The pistol is back with sweet vengeance.  It's just as powerful as the DMR, the primary weapon most players will go by.  While it is just as powerful, it has a higher rate of fire, so it has the potential to down enemies faster.  The trick here though is that the bloom is bigger.  You have to pace the shots wider apart for enemies that are farther out.  The pistol is more ideal at mid or close range, but the DMR is more effective at longer rangers than the pistol and is easier to use in mid range.

If theres any weapon I feel is less usefull than others, it's maybe the assualt rifle.  It's not headshot capable so I generally rely more on the pistol in it's place.  However it seems to be more accurate than it's previous iterations, there isn't much bloom for it and it seems like a decent weapon for the new comer.  If any weapons seems a bit over powered it's the plasma launcher.  It launches plasma grenades that will kill a player if just one of them sticks.  It takes a bit more for vehicles but one charged shot will launch four grenades which is more than enough to stop any vehicle.  Still, the charge time is long and the rounds actually move pretty slowly.  I'd say for the most part Bungie has done a fantastic job making sure everything works well here.  The game has been out for a week and I have seen no exploits and the weapons are mostly balanced.

A subject I almost forgot to cover are the maps.  This Halo technically has the least right from launch, nine for competitive play.  A number I wouldn't say is too bad.  One of the maps, Forge World comes with five custom maps built by Bungie, which would increase the total map count beyond that of any other Halo game if you wish.  Given how robust Forge is I'd say that it more than makes up for the shoter map count but more on that later.

I'd say that the over all map quality is pretty good.  There aren't any duds here if you ask me.  If there any problem I have with the maps is the best ones are remakes.  This Halo game comes with more remakes out of the box than any other.  Counting the Forge World variants there are four remakes.  While the other maps are good fun none of them feel like they'll become fan favorites like Blood Gulch and Lockout.

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We Have The Technology, We Can Build it 


Your customization options in reach is a pretty long list.  Already mentioned, you can customize your spartan selecting different armor for most of their body, like the helmet, torso, shoulders and even knees, visor color and wrists.  However, most of the armor you'll have to purchase with credits you earn in the game.  You get credits for just about everything you do in Reach, be it campaign, forge, matchmaking.  Everything except watching films.  These credits will rank you up(spending them wont rank you down, rest easy).  You can earn bonus credits by completing daily and weekly challenges and upgrading commendations(think CoD's challenges).

Then you have the return of Forge, bigger and better than ever.  Forge as recieved a slew of upgrades such as allowing players to phase objects throgh solid objects and have them hang in the the air.  The new expansive Forge World map effortlessly puts it's predecessors Sandbox and Foundry to shame.  While forge isn't as robust as a map editor of the likes of Far Cry 2 it's the next best thing, a big step up from Halo 3's Forge and flexible enough to make some really fun maps and remakes of your favorite classics such as Boarding Action.

You can carry your Forge maps over into custom games where you can tweak the experience further such as effecting player movement, gravity and damage.  The only option that felt like it was curiously missing was the ability to force players to play a particular race in regular game types.  Assuming you play with your friends though this shouldn't be a big deal.

The Fire Fight co-op survival mode from ODST returns in Reach.  Interestingly, it comes with it's own set of maps entirely seperate from that of the competitive multiplayer.  A shame since some of the multiplayer maps feel like they would work just fine in Fire fight and vice versa.  Whats an even bigger shame is that you can't forge fire fight maps.  Still, theres a wealthy amount of customizable option for your covie killing experiece.  You can customize what enemies come in each waze, how they appear, your load out options, what skulls are turned on in each set, the list keeps going.

Also returning to Reach is theater mode where you can view games you've recently played or videos you''ve saved or downloading.  An awesome addition to theater mode is that you can now rewind campaign and fire fight film and create clips from them.  A lame subtration is that parties can no longer view saved films together.  If you want to view a film your going have to split up, which isn't too big of a deal since in Halo 3 if player tried to view film clips in a party it would usually take forever to load and then kick players out of the party...

Custom gametypes, films, screen shots and maps can be shared via file share just like in Halo 3 & ODST.  Added are the abilities to tag files and search for files based on tags, so you don't need to go to bungie.net or wait for a bungie's favorite update in order to get files from people outside of your friends list.

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All things considered I'm pretty satisfied with Reach.  Bungie has improved Halo in just about every way.  Would people who dislike Halo like it?  No, but you'd think people would get the point after ten years.  If you enjoy Halo though this is a must.  This is easily my favorite game of the year thus far, heres hoping for just as much fun in Reach as I had in Halo 3 and Combat Evolved.

 

Ps- I totally jacked the pic of the two Elites from Sandman.  The rest of the screens were made by me   8)

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Summer Gaming Round Up Part 3 - Crackdown 2

So, I had been looking forward and fearing this one for a while.

Yeah, I couldn't find a decent sized green swoosh ****box with the ESRB rating. You'll have to live with BBFC.

I was excited to hear of a sequel to Crackdown, the game bundled with the Halo 3 beta. But I wasn't too excited the sceen shots in the Gameinformer magazine showing off a game using the same engine that the original Crackdown used that wasnt very impressive back when it debuted back in 2007. Fears krept in my mind that this sequel was a rush job that offered little new.

Then I played the game and found out I was right. Crackdown 2 uses the same graphics engine, the same city and the same exact gameplay. It plays almost exactly the same. The controls are the same. Any change is extremely minor.

The problems that existed in the original still exist. Climbing can be frustrating with buildings that have parts protruding outward so you have to back away in mid air so that you don't hit your head on the way up and get back close to grab a higher ledge. Some problems are worse. You're more likely to target things you don't intent to like vehicles in the background and near by explosives and there now way to switch targets on the fly so if you targer the wrong thing you have to disengage your lock on and reengage and hope the targeting system get the right thing. The enemy ai is actually worse. In the original enemies would occasionly try to at least flee from grenades. The human enemies in Crackdown 2 think nothing of standing in place in the open to get gunned down.

Instead of fighting three gangs your tasked in taking out a resistance group and zombies. It's just as repetitive as before. The only missions actually required to finish the game is activating beacons and clearing out freak lairs. Each beacon is protected by a small amount of the "cell" resistance forces, after clearing them out you just stand on a pad for a few seconds and running again and you move onto the next one. After reactivating enough of these in a district and you'll be tasked with clearing out freak lair, where you'll fight all manner of zombies to protect some super beacon thingy until it activates and kills all freaks in the area. Do this nine times and you've beat the game.

There are a few side tasks. You can clear out tactical locations held by the Cell and claim them as your own, Just like in the original Crackdown, but each tactical location Crackdown has a partner sight you need to clear or the Cell will reclaim the other. Then there are freak breaches where you just kill a bunch of zombies as they come out of a hole until a bar on the side of the screen empties and a helicopter comes and plugs up the hole. There are no benefits to clearing out freak breaches other than achievements. Then theres audio logs. They really don't cover much story the player can't get from the first cut scene and simple observation during gameplay, but hey, it's more achievements.

Leveling up your attributes in Crackdown 2 works the same as the original. Collecting orbs. Collecting green orbs from rooftops and participating in roof top races will increase you agility which determines how fast you can run and how high you can jump. Shooting guys will earn you Firearms orbs making the damage you doll out with guns more potent and you'll become more accurate. You can also earn a little bit of agility and firearms orbs at the same time by shooting foes from high places. You'll level up your stregnth by punching guys and tossing stuff at them and you can level up your driving skill by completing races in your vehicle, running over enemies and pulling off tricks like drifts and barrel rolls.

New to Crackdown 2 is renegade orbs, orbs that flee the player. It's satisfying to catch them but most the time their extremely frustrating to catch. It doesn't really matter though since you wont need them to max out your skills. In fact, it's pretty easy to max them out. I didn't even drive much in the game and I managed to nearly max out my driving skills thanks to the "hidden" and xbox live orbs(the latter can be collected when other players in a co-op session gather around it) that net you experience in all skill types.

Similar to the original Crackdown, once you've leveled up your skills enough you unlock new abilities. Upping your strength will allow you to lift heavier objects and eventually learn a football-like tackle move thats good for busting through crowds of punks, and finally an ability that lets you slam your fist into the pavement after jumping causing a shockwave that can kill most enemies. Maxing out your agility gives you a wing suit that works similar to Mario Wing cap. Maxing out your fire arms earns you new guns. leveling up your explosive skills increases your explosive damage, radius and earns you new explosive weapons and leveling up your driving skills earns you new vehicles.

Driving is almost as pointless in Crackdown 2 as it was in the original. While Agents aren't as fast as they were in the original, they're still fairly fast. But what really kept me from doing much driving was the map. Unlike more recent open world games like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV and Saints Row 2, there is no way to set waypoints that guide you to your destination. Normally theres a symbol on the map showing you the general direction to go but theres no line path showing what roads you need to take so if your driving you constantly need to open it up and check where you need to go. It's far easier to just go on foot and just parkour your way through all the building between you and your destination. To top it off, the vehicle don't even transform anymore. LAME.

One thing I don't get is that Ruffian was talking about how they improved melee combat. It really isn't much different. Now when you mash the by button over and over you'll go into a combo. It doesn't really matter though, each hit doesn't differ in damage or delivery time. There are also so called melee weapons. Things like helicopter blades, street signs can be picked up and you can go over and mash the b button with it. They do more damage than using your fists and you have a longer reach. Over all it's not a very different experience and it's not much more useful.

The game tries to make players use different tactics to take on enemies. Freaks are more susceptible to UV weapons and humans no like bullets. But explosives seems to be pretty effective on both so I just ran around using the rocket launcher, grenade launcher and flocket launcher all game long. Worked out pretty well. Enemy behavior also effected by the day and night cycle. During the day the freaks hide in their lairs from sunlight so their lairs are more crowded then and them come out during the night. I'm sure if the cell is effected as much by this, they don't show up as much during the night but I didn't notice any difference for the tactical locations and beacons.

Either way, in co-op there isn't much challenge. Me and my friends have gone into freak layers during the day time for the added challenge since it was ridiculously easy at night. And Crackdown 2 feels like it was primarily made for co-op. I can't imagine taking on the freak layers closer to the end of the game. Full of enemies and some doing attacks that cause you to go into a long reaction animation that you have to wait to end before fighting again. Some tactical locations are like this too, occupied by tons of baddies with explosives that cause you to roll around on the ground like a tard. It's annoying but if you're in co-op, as you should be, then it wont pose too much of a problem.

Co-op is hands down the biggest improvement to Crackdown 2. I almost want to forget some of the game's short comings for it. Rocking Pacific city with three buddies is a blast. What made the original Crackdown 2, the crazy stunts and explosions is that much more awesome with more friends. Still, it could have been better. My biggest beef is that when players are far apart theres no indication as to who those small triangle on the map are. They're all the same color and there no names. You're not gonna know who is who until they're on screen. Theres also the issue of friendly fire. You can turn it off, but even then, friendly explosion and shots from the UV shot gun are going to blow friends away and leave them disoriented for seconds. It's funny at first buy after a while it's annoying.

Crackdown 2's list of good additions don't extend much further than that. You can now see where near by orbs are by pressing up on the D-pad and you can see the locations of all orbs in the menus, although the ones you already found arne't marked off. Still it makes or hunt significantly easier. Theres helicopters but you'll need to get to level five in agility to actually get to them and by then it's entirely possible that you've beaten the game. Same for the glide suit, it's cool but you wont be getting it till near the end of the game and by then there isn't practical use to it other than to goof around. Mag grenades are awesome, allowing the player to link objects together. The applications are endless. For instance, having trouble getting all the vehicle stunt rings? Stick a vehicle to a friend's chopper and have him fly you through the rings while you sit back and relax. Just likethe others though this is just something that'll probably entertain you on the side.

Then theres the competitive multiplayer which is tacked on if I'd ever seen it. You have the choice of either Team Deathmatch or rocket tag. Thats it. Not even free for all deathmatch. Team death match is self explanatory and rocket tag is like Halo's oddball game type expect the players are going after an orb instead of a skull. On top of the unimpressive offering of modes Crackdown 2 does not even support parties. What is this, 2003? What amazes me though is this game actually support host migration. Really? No parties but it has host migration? It doesn't matter, the multiplayer sucks anyway.

Crackdown 2 is fun, but it's really disappointing. It doesn't do much the original didn't and it actually took out some of the cool things the original had. It plays the same, it loks the same, it's using the same engine and same city as the original. Even more than ODST this should have been priced as an expansion. Rent this if you're interesting but don't spend more than twenty dollars if you want to purchase.

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Summer Gaming Round Up Part 2 - Singularity

I really should quit doing muli-part blogs. Setting myself up to finish something later never ends well...

But yeah, so next up we have Singularity!

The game begins with you and Nolan North investigating an island because apparently Russians did some crazy stuff you should check out. I'm lazy and have bad memory, alright people. To make a long story short, thanks to some strange resources some how people and animals turned into zombie monsters and have messed with the time line or something. Don't think about it too hard, it's a videogame and the ending creates plot holes anyway.

These same resources, called E99 are what power your nifty time manipulation device. When I say time manipulation device I mean it lets you age enemies, Shoot slomo bubbles, age or revitalize crates for crate puzzles and restore stair ways. Yeah, for such a cool piece of tech you'd be surprised at how short your list of options are with it. Sure, you can jump between time lines, but these are only in key areas of the plot that are entirely scripted. You might as well have replaced some of these sequences with cut scenes. But of course they because the character is as interesting and full of personality as such riveting characters like Gordan Freeman and ODST's Rookie.

The game starts out kinda spooky. You're separated from Nolan North and you're fighting monster things with just a pistol. But as you progress that atmosphere is completely destroyed as you power up your happy gadget(not that one! Get your mind out of the gutter) and you pick up uber power weapons such as a minigun and a rifle that you can has rounds you can personally guide to their targets in slomo and insta kills regardless of where the round hits. About half way through the game the challenge is completely gone.

The game allows you to level up your abilities and equip perks, which is pretty cool Whats not cool is that once you beat the game you're done with that character. There is no importing, if you missed some upgrades you're out of luck. If you want to pick up some stuff or earn achievements you missed on your first run you have to play through the entire game over again. Singularity has multiple endings and fortunately if you select to continue from the last checkpoint after beating the game it'll got back the game's last check point and you can get the other endings without playing all the way through again.

Now, one complaint I've heard that I do not understand is the graphics. The game looks good. Not fantastic, but certainly above par. The environments are well realized, the characters look pretty good, I think they even used motion capturing. It's not going to blow you away but it still looks good.

If anything is unimpressive, it's the multiplayer. Only two game modes. Creatures vs Soldiers and Extermination. Creature vs Soldiers is just death match with one team playing as regular humans and the other playing as the game's cast of beasts. The Elimination is similar in that one team takes on the role of human and the other as monster but the goal is different. Human players try to activate beacons in the map while the monsters try to prevent it. So it's kinda like Battlefield's Gold Rush mode.

This concentration of human vs monster gameplay is a bit reminiscent of Left 4 Dead, although I'd say cooperation is less pivotal here. The multiplayer is class based. You can select a class and customize it to an extent, choosing between perhaps a couple of abilities and weapons. but it ends there. There are no unlocks, everything is available from the get go.

What confused me the most about the multiplayer was the ranking system. It served no purpose. There are no unlocks, like Call of Duty, but like Call of Duty players gain experience and rank up for just playing, essentially. So the ranking system doesn't say anything about player skill. It's just there decoration, really.

I almost want to say the multiplayer felt tacked on, but the campaign wasn't anything amazing either and can be beat in around seven hours. Without the multiplayer the game would have been less appealing. It's fun, but it's nothing amazing. A rental is enough.

Bringing a Knife to A Gun Fight

Something I wanted to mention that I never got in, early in the game I was try to earn some achievements. One for getting a certain number of kills with the sniper rifle and another for getting a certain number of kills the pistol. These two weapons aren't exactly a great combination for taking out waves of enemies but against my better judgement I went with these anyway. I was pretty sure my MLG clutch, clutch, clutch skills would come through.

I suffered for that decision. A checkpoint came and I got to a segment where I had to fight with a bunch of fast enemies that fought in close quarters. There were no human enemies to pick different weapons up from, I was pretty low on ammo and there were none of the station where I could get other weapons picked up previously in the game. I was pretty close to just starting a new game.

I ended up just hiding in an area clustered with cars the monsters had trouble getting into. An area I probably wasn't meant to go into. Essentially I had to cheat the game.

Moral of the story, don't use sniper rifle and pistols for close quarters fighters just to earn achievements.

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Summer Gaming Round Up Prt 1 - Transformers War for Cybertron

So vashkey rented a fair number of games this summer and he was so selfish he so lazy he didn't attempt talking about it. Weird right? You normally can't get me to shut up. Well I'll try and recall my time with them all despite my poopy memory and share my thoughts on them with you, the not so little people by direct comparison to in terms of value but possible in height...

So I'll start with Transformers: War for Cybertron.

Um... Yeah, i'm pretty sure the actually box had that new green swoosh on the right like all new 360 games have... but yeah, anyway...I've been keeping a close eye on this game since it's announcement. Robots that transform have always interested me since I watched Beast Wars back in my Elementary years. So seeing this game not look like dog doody caught my interest. Still, just because something is dog doo doesn't mean it's gold either.

I'll just start of by saying the campaign isn't going to blow your socks off. It's your standard yellow brick road shooter sprinkeled with set pieces. It's enjoyable but if you play shooters you're going to feel some intense dejavu. Alot of what you see feels lifted right from other shooters. Thats not to say it's not fun, running through in co-op is a blast and jet sequences, easily the campaign's most memorable scenes, are a blast.

The plot isn't amazing or anything but it's what you'd expect from Transformers. It gets the job done and it should be enough to satisfy Transformers fans. The world of Cybertron is probably faithfully captured in the game but I have to admit, it gets a bit monotonous with all the blacks are gray environments. It makes Gears of War look like a double rainbow.

War for Cybertron incorporates transformation pretty seemlessly. Just click down the lest stick and you're in vehicle mode. Each transformer comes with a couple of special abilities unique their class and in some cases just the character). These elements help separate this from the pack.

Since apparently every shooters needs one these days, War for Cybertron comes with a co-op survival mode called Escalation. Played any co-op survival mode and you know what to expect. Fight your way through waves of ai controlled baddies you already encountered in campaign as long as you can. It's similar to Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi Zombies mode in that you can spends the points you earn on opening new rooms to better weapons and equipment with the down side of giving enemies more areas to spawn. There are two maps, each one dedicated to each of the Transformers factions and with some enemies unique to each location.

I didn't really get to play too much of the competitive multiplayer. It seemed pretty solid though. Similar to the Call of Duty series you can customize your transformers class. You have a selection of promary calles that you can tweak to your liking such as leader and scout, you can choose their abilities and spawn weapons and such and even choose between chassis and colors. And of course from threre you can earn new awesome stuff from leveling up and once you max out you can go Prime(prestige).

Theres a selection of playlists with a fair amount of of game types. Like I said I didn't get to play too much but certain classes seem better equiped to take on certain tasks so it seems like mastering them all would be key.

Thats about all I care to share. It's a fun game but aside from being about robots in disguise it doesn't really break the mold. It's recommendable and it's about the best quality you could hope for a licensed video game(well, short of Arkham Asylum..>). But against all games in general it really doesn't hold up against the Halos, Gears, Call of Duties and Half-Life. It makes for a good distraction though.

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