Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Opinion Unlocked MOVED...

If you didn't realize already, Opinion Unlocked has moved to:


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

First Impressions: Street Fighter IV

The Street Fighter series can be arguably one of the better series to come out for the fighting genre. Though they drove the series into the ground when it comes to the same game but with different 'things' added to it (new characters, added super abilities, etc...). The series seemed lost with no hope of returning after Street Fighter III came out.

When word of Street Fighter IV was circling around, I don't think anyone was expecting the game to be what it is now. The trailers and gameplay videos looked wonderful and the pictures just instilled good thoughts in player's minds. Now the day has come for gamers to actual see the gameplay for themselves.

The first thing that just needs to be said is the graphics are really, really nice. The mix of 3D graphics and playing in a 2D type environment works out well with this game. Certain moves will mix the two environments but not in a confusing way. You will always know were your character is at all time (if you are performing the move or not). The backgrounds look stellar and just add to the eye friendly feeling of this game.

The gameplay feels like an other Street Fighter game in the series. To perform moves are similar to previous versions of the game and the movement is also similar. Using a normal gamepad can be done but I have found it to be sometimes difficult at times as well (this opinion is only for the 360 version of the game). If you really want to perform the moves better, a arcade stick would be preferred (or a fighting game pad).

The type of gameplay to pick from is similar to other fighting games. They have a story mode, verses mode, Live mode (online), challenge mode and training mode. Each mode has its unique feel and should be able to keep gamers interested. The story mode goes through the story for street fighter as you get to battle your way through with the characters in the game to complete it. Verses mode is to battle friends/family on the local machine. Live mode lets you battle people online and keeps track of other players to see who is the better fighter for this installment. Challenge mode gives gamers a way to beat challenges that Capcom has set up like a time trail or survival match. Training just helps gamers who wish to practice moves/combos with a character without winning or losing involved.

The sounds were surprisingly good for the game and I really enjoyed the main theme of the game (Exile - The Next Door). Fighting sounds were basic but still accurate with each hit placed. The English voice acting was also not bad for a Japanese based game but you can unlock the Japanese voices for the game as you keep playing. The level music as well is enjoyable to listen to (if you take the time to actually listen) and keeps the game flow exciting.

The game itself is a wonderful standard for 2009 Fighting Game of the Year and anyone in this genre will have to find a way to beat out a legendary series like Street Fighter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Take Another Look: Dead Space

EA seems to be expanding their horizons by making themselves not just a Sports Sim company. Dead Space could be one developed game that shows that they mean business.

Take away the fact that this game is kind of a knock off of Bioshock. It's not a first person shooter and it takes place in space but the ideas of making your character grow, level up suits, weapons, etc... was made beautifully in Bioshock. Dead Space also made them wonderful as well.

If we look away from that and focus at the creative wonder of no 'nic-nacs' around the screen, using players back as a health meter and making yourself feel like a sci-fi movie, that is where they exile greatly.

From there, the story of this game might draw you closer and closer as it doesn't become a survival test for Isaac (the character you play in the game) but more for you.

The close quarters, flickering lights, noises, and even music will make your arm hair stand up with anticipation. This makes you take in the surrounding environment not to see how beautifully developed it was, but to make sure nothing surprises you on your way to completing the chapter.

There are back stories with audio and video files that you pick up and gander at while you kill or search around for items. These tapes of auido and visual data will help you uncover the mistery of this ship Ishimura and maybe lead you to Isaac's wife (the beginning of the gives the real reason why Isaac and the crew aboard his ship were going to this infected nest).

I advise you to take another look at this game if youplayed it and didn't enjoy it. I advise those who haven't played it to take a shot at this game. You might be surprised the second time around.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best of 2008 - Categorical List Part One

The Out of Body Experience Award (Best Third-Person Shooter)
The Club
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Gears of War 2
Saints Row 2
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Third person shooters...hell, shooters in general, had an imposing year this year, but finding games that are "high-quality," maybe a more difficult. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames takes what made the last game great and gave you more of it. Same can be said with Saints Row 2. However, they brought back the old problems from the previous games so what makes them great is also what limits them. Gears of War 2 can be said the same thing, however the addition of the Horde Mode adds a better cooperative multiplayer aspect, along with the campaign itself. The Club was one of the more overlooked shooters. Even though it looks like the rest of the shooters, The Club is unique in that the game plays more like a time-based arcade game than any of the other competition. Then again, if you want unique, look at the final game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Improving upon a game that many loved is one thin g, but completely redoing it and making it the pinnacle of PS3 games was a high watermark that Kojima Productions managed to do.

The Retina Attachment Award (Best First Person Shooter)
Call of Duty: World at War
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2
Left 4 Dead
Resistance 2
Battlefield: Bad Company

This category seems to come in flavors: There's the WWII vintage flavor with a dash of startling violence and brutality (Call of Duty: World at War), another with standard tactical trappings mixed with MMORPG leveling (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2), a game with buckets of blood with some cooperative play (Left 4 Dead), a game with three different modes and some great alt-fire weapons (Resistance 2) and an arcadey game with tons of explosions and humor (Battlefield: Bad Company). What tastes the best? Well, that's a tough one...
The Golden Clutch (Best Racing)
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
Wipeout HD
Burnout Paradise

The racing category could very well be one of the more competitive categories this year. If you crave pure speed, Wipeout HD will more than suffice your hunger. With crisp, clean visuals and an excellent techno soundtrack (filled with tracks from both PSP games), WHD satisfies Wipeout fans and makes it more accessible to new players (especially with the $20 price tag). Next, there's Pure. Those who watch Pure may accuse this game of being like every single ATV game out there, but the beautiful graphics, sharp control and excellent course design makes this game one of the more fun games you could come across. Same can be said for Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. It can be called a more polished Motorstorm, but the beautiful graphics and fun courses makes this game even more fun. Want a challenge? GRID may be up your alley. Great controls, graphics and courses, with a great rewind feature that helps make the game more accessible. Finally, there's Burnout Paradise. Racing is great and intense, while the added content and the incredibly fun open world aspect improves on the Burnout franchise.

The Juiced Bar (Best Sports Game)
FIFA Soccer 09
Madden NFL 09
NHL 09
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
Top Spin 3
Since the next gen consoles have been out, Sports fans have had to look for other types of games to get a quality sports game fix. This year, the heavyweights have finally come out of the woodwork to make quality games. None has been more scrutinized than the Madden series, but Madden NFL 09 finally delievered on the promises made since the tech demo from 2006. It took a completely reworked engine, interface and gameplay, but Top Spin 3 also has joined the big boys of sports gaming with a fresh take on competitive tennis. Consistently, Tiger Woods' series has always had a certain amount of quality to it, but Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 adds the same sheen with more features, a more robust create a character mode and even better graphics and an updated GamerNet database. The critical darling from last year, the NHL series, wows again in NHL 09, with one of the best Be A Pro modes in any sports game this year. Finally, Pro Evo soccer has always been a champs game when it came to soccer, but FIFA Soccer 09 has dethroned the king this year, thanks to excellent graphics, control and numerous options on the pitch.

The Platinum Mokujin (Best Fighting Game)

Soulcalibur IV
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Bleach: Dark Souls
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
There were some solid titles for fighting game fans, so let's check out the top picks. Anime fans had reason to brawl with Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit and Bleach: Dark Souls. While both had some shortcomings (Burst Limit was short, while Bleach's single player takes a lot of getting used to on a DS), both gave quality fighting game action with their own unique twists. Then, there's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. A completely reworked, rebalanced version of the final Street Fighter II game, HD Remix takes the old classic and reworks it with excellent animation and a gentler learning curve. After that is the perennial Nintendo favorite Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Not much has changed in the actually fighting mechanics, but the sheer Nintendo fanboyism, followed by the numerous things you can unlock and experience, makes Super Smash Bros. Brawl one of the more developed and fleshed out fighters. And finally, there's this year's 800lb gorilla of fighting games Soul Calibur IV. The first HD Soul Calibur has some of the best looking stages and a robust create a character mode.
The Jumpman (Best Platform)
Mega Man 9
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Bionic Commando: Rearmed

Platforming games haven't been this strong in years, so deciding the five that should be on the list was the toughest its ever been. Let's start small with N+, the simpliest of the bunch. Don't let the sterile and colorless graphics fool you: it hides one of the most challenging and rewarding platforms on any system, portable or Xbox 360. Also on multiple systems, Mega Man 9. The return to form for one of the most iconic gaming characters, the ninth iteration of the series brings the character back to its roots, with old-school graphics and punshing gameplay. Speaking of retro, there's the remake Bionic Commando: Rearmed for PSN and XBLA. Again, punshing difficulty but a top notch graphical presentation and charming old-school feel will let old time gamers enjoy this lavish remake. Speaking of charm, there's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. The hilarious and inventive platformer allows more customization through vehicles to take on the numerous challenges the game throws at you. All the while, the game gives you a very sarcastic, satirical look in the nature of platformers themselves. Finally, there's the highly anticipated LittleBigPlanet. A tight, imaginative side-scrolling platformer is one thing, but to add the amount of customization that this game does is simply phenomenal in of itself. Of any of the games, LittleBigPlanet has the most longevity of any game on this list.

The Eureka! Award (Best Puzzle)
Boom Blox
Portal: Still Alive
World of Goo
Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Puzzle games seem to have had the biggest break-out year this year, from the standard types of puzzle games (Tetris Party) to the more obscure. This year, one of the first puzzle games that took notice was Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Featuring a watercolor art style with great puzzles, Layton uses the DS' strengths in new and different ways. Next, there's the Wii multiplayer extravaganza Boom Blox. More like a cross between Jenga and other game types, this charming game allows you to do all sorts of gane types. Next, there is last year's giant hit Portal in the XBLA expansion Portal: Still Alive. Those who missed the original game on The Orange Box would do well to download the game, while fans who have already completed that game are treated to 14 new puzzles to solve. World of Goo, WiiWare's charming puzzler, has you constructing towers and bridges to reach the goal with your little balls of goo. Finally, there's the enchanting critical darling of this year Braid. Braid has you manipulating time and platforming to areas in order to reach the numerous puzzle pieces and areas in the game.
Tune into our next podcast for the rest of our nominees. Future podcasts will announce the winners, along with the Top Ten Games of the Year

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dynamic Reviews - December 1st, 2008

Sonic Unleashed - Well, let's get right down to it, shall we? Sonic Unleashed is kind of stuck between the incredibly awful Shadow the Hedgehog and the abysmal Sonic the Hedgehog (X360/PS3). Meaning: There are actually a few bright spots, but like my grandpappy used to say, "No matter how much you polish a turd...it's a turd nonetheless."

Sonic Unleashed was said to be, according to SEGA, the return of the Sonic you know and love; back to his 2D roots. Unfortunately, as stated previously in a dynamic review, the game barely scratches the surface on that promise.

In fact, the game is predominately done with the "Werehog" sections, which play off as a mix of God of War and Furby. The problem is two things: 1) The camera is very bad when it comes to platforming and 2) As pertaining to the Wii version, using waggle on both the Nunchuk and Wii-mote to attack and the buttons and stick to parry and dodge, combat becomes an arduous task of shaking and convulsing to the point of near epilpetic fit.

Now, if the "Werehog" sections were a minor part of the game, this would be a minor wrinkle in an otherwise decent game. Sadly, it's 80% of the game and it feels like the game uses these sections to pad the rest of the game in time restraints. The good parts of the game, which is the 2 1/2-D old school Sonic style levels, which consists of maybe 5% of the game itself. The last 15% ends up being the 3D, behind the back stages, a la Sonic and the Secret Rings.

Add to the awful amount of cut-scenes and text boxes for incredibly generic characters in the game and you have a 10 - 12 hour game that brings more pain and embarassment than your friends finding out you play as a character called Cream the Rabbit. Current: 33%

Hasbro Family Game Night - Would you believe...nay, WANT TO BELIEVE...that I was excited for this game to be released? Call me crazy, but the fact of playing Boogle, Yathzee, Connect Four and other Hasbro board games had me interested in seeing how it turned out. And you know what, it all turned out just fine.

Games play exactly as you expect them to play, and the added variants of each game (example: Connect Four has "Advanced" and "Power-up!" mode) make the game more fun to play with others or by yourself.

There really isn't much more else to say about this title except that if you want to save money on purchasing these games and you have a Wii, you might be interested in picking up this game. Revolving: 72%

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - Finally, there's the impossibly long titled (and awaited) fighting game for the XBLA SSF2THDR...hey, I'm not spelling it out all the time. This game deserves a lot of praise by recreating the balance and precision of the last Street Fighter II title.

However, it's not perfect. I have yet to even get into an online match because of the glitchy matchmaking system. A severe disappointment, since this is what people were looking forward to when it came to this game.

Next, some characters and stages actually look worse with the update. Fei Long looks incredibly bland, as does his stage, and Guile looks absolutely ugly in this current state right now.

Only time will tell if the balance is out of whack and who will be a top character (Fei Long and Balrog are my favs thus far), but for right now, I can't whole heartedly recommend the download, even though the updated (read: easier to perform) moves and some excellent stages give reason to keep playing. Revolving: 64%

That's it for this past weekend...next is Far Cry 2