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Velvet Assassin Review

It’s hard to get stealth games right. With games like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell doing it so differently, it’s hard to say which game does it the best. Velvet Assassin doesn’t try to re-invent the stealth genre, but it does go back to the old school ways that make it rather challenging, intense, and satisfying.

Velvet Assassin follows the story of Violette Summers who is based off of the real-life assassin – Violette Szabo. At the beginning of the game you’ll learn that Violette is unconscious on a hospital bed, and because of this, you’ll be reliving her missions as she remembers them. You’ll relive 12 missions, learn why Violette is in this condition, and get more history as to why Violette was on these missions.

As said before, this is a stealth game. The stealth is most similar to Splinter Cell, but a little simpler. When Violette is in a dark area her silhouette will be outlined by purple, so either she’s in stealth or not. The main part of the game revolves around Violette moving around in shadows quietly taking out soldiers in her way, collecting intel, or setting explosives. These parts are made better by the atmospheric sounds and intense music–even when Violette isn’t in an encounter with an enemy, the music makes everything much more tense and uneasy.

To help set the mood, levels will often remind you that Violette is in the middle of a war zone. You’ll often see military vehicles such as cars or tanks, dilapidated buildings, and civilians that were executed. The dialog shared between German soldiers is often really interesting to listen in on. The dialog isn’t far-fetched whatsoever as you’ll hear them talk about women, death, their families, drinking, war, etc. Letters can be found and read which contain personal messages from soldiers to their families. These are well worth the read since they add personal feelings to the soldiers you’re killing.

The game relies heavily on the player’s patience, and it requires a lot. Sitting around waiting for an enemy to turn his back or waiting and learning a soldier’s path is imperative as Violette will have very limited ammo. There are a few ways to get a soldiers attention so you can sneak around them like whistling, turning off a nearby radio, or breaking a fuse box.

Though Velvet Assassin sounds and looks wonderful, that’s not to say everything else is great. Unfortunately, the enemy AI is rather dumb and simple. Enemies can be easily tricked and it seems they either see really poorly in dark areas or surprisingly well depending if they’re on high alert. Enemy soldiers are also well equipped to take you out on sight. If Violette is caught she’ll more than likely die with a few gunshots as she’s rather fragile. It’s always helpful to have an escape route planned before going in for a kill just in case.

Stealth kills are what you’ll aim for most of the time. There are a number of different animations for these kills, depending on what weapon you have equipped. There are gas-filled rooms that will have soldiers in them, and sneaking up behind them and taking their gas-mask off is always great. Stabbing people in the face, ear, chest, or neck never gets old either. When Violette makes contact with an enemy, whether it’s with a knife or fist, it has a nice and believable thud to it. Soldiers sometimes have grenades attached to their belts allowing you to pull the pin and let him explode.

The stealth action is broken up by shooting sequences. While these can be optional, it is the easy way out of tricky or timed situations. Shooting sequences are easily identified when the game gives you a shotgun, or anything that isn’t a pistol really, with enough ammo to play Call of Duty. These sequences feel a bit out of place since the whole game is about stealth, but makes sense given the setting.

During certain levels you’ll be able to switch outfits. Having a disguise means you’ll look like you’re part of the SS and enemies won’t pay too much attention to you. When in a disguise, a meter will appear on screen. When you get closer to an enemy it will shrink. If the meter is completely gone, then an enemy knows you’re a fake and will start shooting. Switching into a disguise is great, but the meter isn’t all that great and feels tacked on.

As you progress through the game you’ll learn more about Violette. At times she gives narration during a mission explaining the situation she had to go through. At random points during a mission Violette will slip out of consciousness and she’ll overhear a conversation between the two men standing at her bedside. These conversations are usually the most interesting as you’ll learn more about Violette’s history and what’s going to happen to her body.

You’ll find morphine throughout levels, which basically giving you a free shot at an enemy. When you activate the morphine mode the area around Violette will turn white, flower pedals will float in the scene, and she’ll be invincible for a short period of time. This is mainly used to get out of sticky situations. When she goes into morphine mode, Violette will have a rather sexy nightdress on. This seems a little weird as Violette isn’t over-sexualized in any way during the game outside of this instance.

Finding collectibles nabs you experience. For every 1,000 experience points you can increase one aspect of Violette – strength, stealth, or morphine. You can increase every aspect 5 times and then it’s maxed out. Improving her stats didn’t do a whole lot, as she still died with very few shots and didn’t seem to improve anything too drastically in the end.

Velvet Assassin isn’t perfect by any stretch. Checkpoints are few and far between. Trial and error is a big part of figuring out how to take out certain enemies without getting caught. The games’ two difficulty modes might as well be the same since in normal difficulty you can easily die with two or three gun shots. Enemies will always be on a fixed path, making them way too predictable. These issues can really keep the game from being enjoyable, especially since the difficulty spikes randomly.

It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with this game. Sneaking around and then silently killing enemies is satisfying, but it gets bogged down by uneven difficulty and unforgiving checkpoints. It’s also hard to recommend this game since it requires so much patience and falls too much on trial and error. It all comes down to personal taste. Do you like stealth? Do you like challenge? If you’re even slightly interested, it’s worth at least a rental.

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May 25, 2009 Posted by | Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Metal Gear Solid Touch Review

Metal Gear Solid Touch is an interesting take on Metal Gear Solid 4. MGS4 has remarkable storytelling that is one of the best we’ve seen in years. Take that story, sum it up, and then have shooting gallery-like gameplay with touch-screen controls and you’ll have Metal Gear Solid Touch.

MGS Touch is set up in a way where you’ll read a bit of text and then jump in to a mission. The missions consist of Old Snake hiding behind a piece of cover and then occasionally popping up to shoot enemies. You’ll do this by dragging your finger to move where you’re aiming and then tap the screen to shoot. Old Snake will always stay crouched behind cover, but only when you start shooting does he stand up and take the risk of being shot. If your health is dangerously low you can stay behind cover and your health will replenish.

If you’ve played MGS4 you’ll immediately recognize the setting. Perhaps the worst thing about MGS Touch is that you don’t move, at all. In each level you’ll stay stationary, essentially an Old Snake turret if you will. Old Snake will stay behind his piece of cover while enemies pop out from objects within the level. The levels look like they took a picture in MGS 4 and made a level out of it for MGS Touch. If you zoom in on the level at all it immediately becomes a blurry mess. If not zoomed in it does look rather good for an iPhone/iTouch game.

Since it is a mobile game it does have its limitations. I encountered many cases where the game will slow down drastically when a smoke effect appears, an explosion occurs, or when something big jumps on screen. Luckily these effects don’t last very long, but it’s still enough to break the action.

Since this is a shooting gallery type game, playing it is mighty simple. Enemies that are exposed will have a slowly filling circle around them. Once that circle is filled and blinking red they will attack and hide back behind their piece of cover. Aside from just seeing cover with enemies popping out behind them there will be goodies scattered around, such as idols that can be shot for extra health or new weapons. Exploding barrels can also be shot to easily take care of surrounding enemies.

MGS Touch is like a story book broken up by fighting sequences. While MGS Touch does have the story of MGS4 backing it up, it’s told in a way that doesn’t make you care. The story is told through text which is summed up in a shoddy way. The overall quality is straight up missing in the story and doesn’t play that big a roll in the game. MGS Touch tries to stand on its own, telling the story while giving as much background information as possible (see screenshot below).

At first when I was reading through the bunches of pages explaining the controls, I was overwhelmed. The long tutorial made the controls sound complicated, pinching in for this, pinching out for that, scrolling, tapping, whatever. Getting into the game wasn’t bad at all though. Your default weapon will be an M4 but if you pinch the screen you’ll zoom in, which means you’ve switched to your SVD sniper rifle. To zoom out you pinch outwards. That’s all there really is to it.

Since this is a Metal Gear Solid game, you’ll hear familiar music and sounds. When you beat a mission you’ll be rewarded with Drebin Points. With these points you can go into the shop and purchase various artwork. Other than that there really isn’t a point to replay MGS Touch. If you have played MGS4 then there really isn’t much point in playing MGS Touch, since the two vastly differ in quality. Ultimately, it’s a sub-par shooting gallery game that isn’t very Metal Gear Solid-like.

Perhaps the biggest flaw with the game is me. My hands are rather big so touch screen games have never been my forte. Using my finger to aim never works well for me since my finger will take up a huge chunk of the screen, causing me to guess where I’m aiming. Maybe I’m not the only one here?

Available in the iTunes app store for $7.99

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Review | Leave a comment

Crystal Defenders Review (XBLA)

Crystal Defenders has been released on a number of consoles now, iPhone, PC, DS, Wii, and now it comes to the Xbox Live Arcade. This release by Square Enix has the gameplay style of a tower defense game but with a Final Fantasy theme slapped onto it. The game comes with three modes, an interesting amount of units to deploy, and a level of challenge that is oddly addicting.

If you’re unfamiliar with tower defense games, you strategically deploy units on a map to take out waves of enemies while collecting currency to upgrade your units or to deploy new ones. Crystal Defenders follows that description completely. You’ll battle on 12 different maps, though really there’s only 6 since every map has an alternative advanced version. The normal maps have only one path while the advanced maps usually have two with less space for your units. If an enemy reaches the end of the path it will take away one of your 20 crystals, and in some cases multiple crystals.

As far as the selection of units go, you’ll have ground units and then some that will attack both ground and air. The units look like they were taken straight out of a Final Fantasy game on the Super Nintendo. They range from a soldier, different types of mages, thief, archer, and many more including crystals you can deploy to increase certain stats of nearby units. If you feel like you’re about to lose, you can scroll up or down in the unit selection menu to choose a summon. The summons were taken from a plethora of Final Fantasy games and will either deal a massive amount of damage to the enemies on-screen or buff your units for that turn.

Graphically it does look a little rough. It looks like this game belongs on a hand-held. Played on a bigger screen it looks pixely and doesn’t seem like it was scaled up very well . There isn’t a whole lot of music to listen to in the game, but what is there fits right in with the game.

The pacing of the game is rather slow. Going from wave 1-30 can soak up some time since you need to decide how you’ll set up for the next wave. Enemies will walk slowly from point A to point B while your units hack away at them. There is a fast-forward button so if you’re confident about you’re current setup for that wave, you can go ahead and zoom through. As soon as I found this button, I didn’t sit through another slow wave again.

It’s weird that Crystal Defenders turned out the way it did. Games with the title of Final Fantasy or games baring a similar theme have an expected level of quality to them. This is not one of them. The challenge is oddly addicting and the theme does have some charm, but if you’ve played one level you’ve pretty much seen the whole game. The twelve levels look remarkably similar and there isn’t much enemy variety. The only thing you can do is place units on a map, upgrade them for more attack power and reach, then hope for the best. While the game can be fun, there is little to no reward for any of it.

Crystal Defenders is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Review | Leave a comment

Peggle Review (XBLA)

peggle_headerPeggle was originally a flash game that was released by PopCap games a while ago. Along the way they’ve released different versions such as Peggle Nights. Now it comes to the Xbox Live Arcade to wonderfully grace our televisions. This release of Peggle will have four single player modes along with three multiplayer options. Whether you’re familiar with Peggle or not, this is one game that is sure you keep you coming back for more.

The concept of Peggle is very simple. You shoot a ball from the top of the screen and hit as many pegs on the way down as possible. Lining up your shots is key as you’ll need to make some tricky shots by bouncing the ball off of walls or other pegs. The object is to eliminate all orange pegs or blocks by hitting them. If you happen to land the ball in the moving hole at the bottom you’ll receive a free ball. It’s a lot of fun just dropping a ball into a bunch of pegs and seeing how it plays out. A lot of times it will play out in a lot of cool and neat ways.

Peggle is full of character and is sure to put a smile on your face in one way or another. When you beat a level, not only will you be honored by seeing the best phrase ever, “Extreme Fever”, but you’ll also hear a choir bust into song. After the last orange peg has been hit, the ball will move in slow motion as it makes its way down to the bottom where bonus point slots lay.

peggle1

There is a number of modes for you to play, Adventure, Quick Play, Master Duel, Challenge, as well as some multiplayer modes. The single player modes have basically the same concept, while multiplayer modes will have different people taking turns to get the highest score.  When you start up a game you’ll have the option to choose from 10 unique characters, each having their own special ability. The abilities range from a super guide, to flippers and multiballs. They come in handy in the later levels where orange pegs may be difficult to reach. Abilities can be activated when a special green peg is hit, usually a couple in a level.

Ultimately I can’t really say anything bad about Peggle. It’s an undeniably addicting game that’s extremely easy to pick up and play. The only flaw I’d say it really has is it being a little too difficult on some levels, but even saying that there’s always some way to easily take care of a not-easily-accessible orange peg by using a different ability or by attacking it from a different angle. Any version of Peggle is recommended, but the release for Xbox Live Arcade is no slouch and will keep you coming back for more.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Review | Leave a comment

Fallout 3: The Pitt DLC Review

welcome-500x3001The Pitt has finally arrived, taking you through the journey of a slave in the nuclear remains of Pittsburgh. Along the way you’ll encounter new characters, enemies, and acquire new weapons and armor.

To start off you’ll need to listen to the new distress signal that can be heard across the Wasteland, starting your journey to The Pitt. You’ll meet up with an escaped slave, Wernher, who tells you how to gain access to the Pittsburgh ruins. Once there you’ll almost immediately have to make some choices, most of them changing how things play out later on.

The new area is aptly named, since the place is essentially a hellhole. Crossing the bridge to get into The Pitt sets the tone for what’s to come ahead, as it’s covered with blown up cars, rubble, and frag mines, while corpses are dangling above you. Entering into the city, not only are you greeted by slave raiders, but there’s a disease that has plagued the city which catches up with everyone within a few years turning people into Trog’s – monsters who are ready to tear the flesh off of anyone. You’re set off to find a cure for Wernher’s friends, who no doubt probably already have the disease.

Aesthetically The Pitt isn’t very appealing as everything is in ruins, but graphically it’s impressive. The graphical style stays the same as it did in the Wasteland and won’t be as pretty or colorful as in Operation Anchorage, the previous expansion. The Pitt is a dark and gloomy place with haze and smoke filling the sky. You’ll see dead slaves around the city as well as chopped up corpses hanging from hooks or in bloody piles. You’ll talk to other slaves and raiders who have gross battle wounds and almost glowing eyes, likely due from the disease setting in. It makes for a very unsettling feeling as you’re forced to do some uncomfortable things to progress in the story.

The Pitt is finished once you complete three major quests, taking 2-4 hours max. You’d think since the setting is in Pittsburgh there would be a lot of areas to explore, but this is not the case. There is a very small Downtown area and an uneventful Uptown area. The biggest area to explore is the Steelyard, where you can access a few buildings and collect ingots which you can then trade-in for armor and weapons.

This expansion fits perfectly into Fallout 3, more so than Operation: Anchorage, and gives you some very interesting weapons and armor to try out like the auto axe – a chainsaw with four blades spinning at the end. It’s a little hard to justify the $10 purchase price with only the few hours of gameplay, but the content that is featured is well done and fits so well into Fallout 3 that it’s worth checking out.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Review | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halo Wars Review

There has been a number of real-time strategy games coming out for the Xbox 360 lately, Red Alert 3, Tom Clancy’s End War, and Universe at War to name a few. All of these games have tried to make controls work for an RTS on the console. While some of them have been somewhat successful, there still isn’t a perfect control scheme and we’re left fumbling with the complicated controls. Halo Wars comes close to making it as easy as possible, but it’s still a little tough under intense conditions.

Halo Wars takes place 20 years before the Halo incident. You’ll join the crew of the Spirit of Fire and take the fight to the Covenant. Through the campaign you’ll play as the UNSC, taking command of hero units, building a bigger base and making an army. Halo Wars comes stocked with a campaign mode, skirmish, tutorial, multiplayer, and extras such as a Halo timeline and a service record.

Unfortunately, you won’t have very many options when it comes to the different modes. The campaign is limited to only the UNSC. As far as multiplayer goes, you’ll only have two options – standard and death match. Halo Wars is a good game but it could have been so much more.

Liked:

Simple Console RTS: The control scheme is easy to use and figure out. There isn’t much base building and very little micromanagement. When compared to other console RTS games, Halo Wars doesn’t feel like you’re playing with an alien controller, constantly trying to figure out and remember the controls.

Interesting Throughout: While it doesn’t have the most interesting story, it’s told well through gorgeous cutscenes. Some of the missions play out in neat ways and throw unexpected twists at you.

Disliked:

Ugly Visuals: When looked at up close the graphics aren’t very clear and are rather ugly. While the game does provide a nice mix of colors, that’s about the only thing that will catch your eye while playing.

Too Simple: It kind of seems that since they have such a simple control scheme, they needed to cut back on some of the things that make RTS games so complicated. No matter what side you’re playing as, you won’t have a big selection of units to pick from. There’s very little buildings to create, and most missions boil down to building units and then going to kill or destroy something.

Where’s The Rest?: It would make sense for the Covenant to have a playable campaign, but that’s not the case. The flood isn’t playable at all and there’s only two multiplayer modes. It just feels like there should be more to the game.

Final Word: What Halo Wars does have is good and fun but what it’s missing is a great fault. The game is recommended, but not at full price.

Originally posted on Endsights, March 2, 2009

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Review | , | Leave a comment

Onechanbara: Bikini Samuri Squad Review

How’s this for a game: girls in bikini’s chopping up hundreds of zombies with samurai swords. Sounds totally awesome, right? Well, unless you’re playing this game for your own reasons, Onechanbara is one of those really bad, yet kind of awesome games.

In a nutshell, zombies have invaded the city and it’s up to you to stop them, so, the whole point of the game is to kill hundreds of them. Along the 20 levels, you’ll encounter bosses, level up your characters, collect items, and complete quests. There really isn’t much to Onechanbara, just lots of derivative zombie killing with occasional boss fights. Besides story mode, there’s survival mode, free play, and practice. Other options are dress up and view mode, allowing you to change costumes and view profiles of characters.

Liked:

Brutal: Chopping up hordes of zombies is always satisfying. Body parts will fall off, along with pools of blood that will stain the ground and your character.

Guilty Pleasure: I’ll admit I’ve played through the game more than twice and had fun. There is some Japanese charm to Onechanbara, as English voice acting doesn’t even exist. Personally, I put it with Earth Defense Force: 2017, there’s just something about it that makes me want to play through it again and again.

Disliked:

Bad Value: Even while priced at $40, there really isn’t enough content to justify paying that much. Beating the game can take anywhere from three to five hours depending on how long you spend killing zombies in each level.

Bad Graphics: It should come as no surprise that the only good looking thing in the game are the main characters. Everything else looks bland, blurry, and sloppy.

Bad Level Design: Throughout the 20 levels you’ll revisit certain places multiple times, often running through the same areas repeatedly. To access new areas, a lot of the time you’ll be fighting or searching for a key. It doesn’t help that the mini-map is useless and the full-sized map often doesn’t indicate where you need to go.

Technically Flawed: I often got stuck on nothing near the edge of a level or by a wall. The controls feel fairly stiff. Awkward animations seem to be everywhere. The Motorcycle level feels like it tacked on at the last moment and does not play very well.

Final Word: Onechanbara is an OK game, if you’re into this sort of thing. If you plan on playing this game, just know what you’re getting into.

Originally posted on Endsights, February 20, 2009

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Review | , | Leave a comment

GTA IV: The Lost and Damned Review

The Lost and Damned is the first expansion episode to Rockstar’s hit game Grand Theft Auto IV. The Lost and Damned stars Johnny Klebitz, the vice-president of the Lost gang. This episode will take you through a wild and exciting journey that is sure to please fans of GTA IV.

When Rockstar said The Lost and Damned would be a “full game”, they weren’t kidding. It took me roughly 14 hours to beat the game, clocking in at 66% complete. The main storyline will take about 10 hours to complete, but it’s easy to get side-tracked by the number of new activities to take part in. A welcomed feature Rockstar added was the option to restart a failed mission right from your cell phone, and in some cases, missions have checkpoints so you won’t have to start from the beginning every time.

The Lost and Damned fits right in with GTA IV, as both stories intertwine. You’ll see a lot of familiar characters, hear familiar lines, and see a different side from the original story line from GTA IV. It’s easy to say that the Lost and Damned story doesn’t stand out as much as it did in GTA IV, but it’s still solid in just about everything it has to offer.

Liked:

Great Value: Priced at 1600 Microsoft points ($20), I have no problem saying it’s worth every penny. Not only will the story take about 10 hours to complete, there are a number of activities to take part in, such as new games to play with your buddies, new multiplayer modes, 50 seagulls to shoot, races where you can hit opponents with a bat, and gang wars to win.

Fits Right In: The Story will mix in with the GTA IV story in some neat ways. Not only will you be interacting with familiar characters, but you’ll be doing some of the same missions, just from a different perspective.

Good Story: It may not pull as much weight as the story in GTA IV, but for being DLC it’s surprisingly satisfying.

Disliked:

Repetitive Dialog: While playing through missions, you’re bound to hear the same one-liners repeated countless times. I also wouldn’t be able to count the number of times I heard “brothers” or “deadbeats”.

Final Word: The Lost and Damned is something that should not be missed. It’s a great value that is sure to please just about anyone.

Originally posted on Endsights, February 20, 2009

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Review | Leave a comment

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Review

Monolith Productions is one of the best when it comes to making scary games. The original F.E.A.R. had a creepy atmosphere that gave you some good jumps. Now it seems they’ve taken what they learned from their previous games and applied that to F..E.A.R. 2, making yet another creepy atmospheric game that is well worth a playthrough.

F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin takes place right before the ending events of the original F.E.A.R. and continues the story. You’ll play as Michael Becket, a Delta Force operator whose ultimate goal is to stop Alma Wade. As you start the game, you’ll learn you’re part of a different F.E.A.R. team. Almost immediately you’ll encounter Alma and start to learn more about her and what’s been happening. A big thing about the first F.E.A.R. was the mystery of everything and not knowing what was going on. Project Origin still does that to a certain degree, but definitely addresses some questions along the way. You can also learn a bit more about what’s going on in the background by collecting and reading Intel found throughout the levels.

The level structure is very linear. You won’t need to do much exploring to progress through the game. A big issue people had with the first F.E.A.R. was too much of the game being in office type buildings. Project Origin addresses that by having you go outdoors a lot more and having more variety in the way of indoor areas. The environment has interactive cover scattered everywhere. Say you’re being shot at inside an office and you need cover, you find a table, flip it over and duck. The enemy AI is rather clever when it comes to cover, as they jump behind walls, pillars, knocking over tables, etc. It makes the experience that more pleasurable knowing that enemies will do whatever it takes to flush you out of your cover and make you move.

The overall story of the game has its ups and downs. The game starts off with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. In between the start and end the overall action and intensity dips down a bit as some of the levels seem somewhat stretched. Mech suit sequences help break up the on-foot action very well. The mechs are extremely powerful and are great to use, but if you’re not careful you’ll be forced to eject from the suit to let it repair. It’s nice to see something like this that works so well to break up the gameplay.

Liked:

Better Sequel: The original F.E.A.R. had its quality moments and delivered a pretty solid experience. F.E.A.R. 2 improves everything in the single-player side, starting the game big and ending it even bigger.

Highly Atmospheric and Intense: I wouldn’t necessarily call the game scary, but the atmosphere definitely can give you the chills. You’ll see dead soldiers laying around, blood on the floor and walls, and other spooky atmospheric effects. Enemies can come at you from every direction making certain low-light situations very intense.

Brutal: There is no shortage of blood in Project Origin. Whether you go into slow-motion or zoom in, buckets of blood will fly and go everywhere. It’s really a beautiful thing.

Great Ending: Without spoiling anything, the ending is really shocking and leaves it wide-open for a third installment. It left my mouth wide-open, wanting more. I also felt weird towards Alma, as my feelings weren’t all negative anymore.

Technically Proficient:
Everything about F.E.A.R. 2 looks and plays great. The graphics look sharp and very rarely does the frame rate dip down. Moving around and shooting the guns feel solid.

Disliked:

Still A Mystery: There’s still a lot of learn about the F.E.A.R. story. You do learn a lot about what was going on in the first game as well as some background elements. Unfortunately, Project Origin ends with another cliff-hanger.

Weak Multiplayer: The multiplayer modes don’t really stand out from other first-person shooters. The modes are pretty standard and play like you would expect them to. I didn’t have any trouble getting into matches, but nothing particularly stands out about the modes.

Final Word: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is an overall solid shooter. There’s plenty of spooky moments and violence to make this easy to recommend, if you’re of age of course.

Originally posted on Endsights, February 16, 2009

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Review | | Leave a comment

Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review

If taking over control points and killing massive amounts of soldiers sounds appealing to you, Lord of the Rings: Conquest will be right up your alley. From EA and Pandemic Studios comes an action packed Lord of the Rings game much similar to their Star Wars: Battlefront games. Conquest takes those same ideas from Battlefront and improves upon them.

To describe LotR: Conquest is simple; you take your soldier, kill lots of people, and then complete a simple objective. The objectives you complete boil down to killing a hero of the opposite faction, such has a Balrog, The Mouth of Sauron, and even Sauron himself. Conquest features two campaigns to play though, good or evil. The good campaign will follow the story line of the movies, playing clips before and after each level. The evil campaign is easily the star of the show. This side of the story takes some movie clips and remixes them to make a different story as you slowly take over Middle Earth.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest is all about combat, which unfortunately is held down by some cheap AI and the button-mashing nature of it. There is more to the combat than just mashing a button however. Every class has different abilities, all available with a press of a button. Warriors gain strength for more powerful moves such as setting their sword on fire. Archers get poison and fire arrows and with a multi-arrow shot. Scouts use stealth for killing blows and bombs. Mages can heal while using fire and lightning magic. It’s an overall good game, but it’s just unfortunate that it has a bundle of issues.

Liked:

Epic Scale: There are many battles where you can look in the distance and see hundreds of soldiers fighting. Take example the battle at Pelennor Fields. The battlefield is very open and there is fighting on just about every inch of the field.

Playing with a friend in co-op seemed to help build in the epic scale since it seemed like two heroes were killing hundreds of enemies wherever they went.

Heroes: Quite often you’ll have the option of play as a hero. To play as one all you need to do is finish a certain objective on that level. They are very powerful and can help you win in tough situations. I found that the magic users, Gandalf and the Mouth of Sauron, were the weakest, not just in health but their attacks as well.

Being Evil is Fun: As stated before, the evil campaign has you playing a number of evil characters to take over Middle Earth. This campaign takes the Lord of the Rings’ movie clips and remixes them to tell a what if story. This side of the story has more variety in the objectives and is very interesting to watch what unfolds–especially at the end.

Stylish: Since the main focus is combat, they seemed to have put a great deal of time into it. Movement and combos flow nicely and have a good look to them.

Disliked:

Cheap Combat: There’s an old saying, “Never kick a man when he’s down”. Conquest takes that to a whole new level. Maybe it was just my play style, but I got knocked down a whole lot. While knocked down the enemies sure take advantage of it, making some fights very frustrating.

Bad Value: Beating both of the campaigns, good and evil, took about five to six hours.

Multiplayer does exist but it probably won’t keep your attention for very long.

Messy Visuals and Bad Sound: Nothing about Conquest looks particularly good. While there are a lot of characters on screen at once and the frame rate rarely drops, I just couldn’t help but think that it looked like a good older-generation game.

The announcer of the game does not fit with the setting. The way he sounds seems like it’s coming out of a bad speaker. The dialog and sound design aren’t particularly strong either. Some sound effects seem muffled which can take you out of the experience.

Small Feeling: All of the settings seemed a lot smaller than they should have. The battle at Helms Deep seemed very small scale and during the battle at Pelennor Fields it seemed like I didn’t move very far from where I spawned when I beat it.

Final Word: Lord of the Rings: Conquest is fun to play while it lasts. Even with the flaws there is fun to be had, just keep in mind that it is short and you may get frustrated.

Originally posted on Endsights, January 27, 2009

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Review | , , | Leave a comment