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Archive for the ‘Xbox 360 Reviews’ Category

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on May 5, 2009

Quick preface.  The movie wasn’t the biggest disaster in the world but it pretty much sucked so I was expecting complete garbage for this game.  Damn was I wrong.  This game is fucking awesome!!!  Period.  The little glitches and such that plague the game are disappointing but really the game itself is just great. 

I usually start with the good, but I’ll get the bad out of the way real quick since well, there isn’t much.  The biggest flaws in the game are in presentation.  Some of the textures and graphics look really low-res (epsecially in the indoor environments). 

Also there are several little glitches that cause you to restore a checkpoint.  During a few fights there is a cutscene that plays or what have you, and the game will not move Wolverine to the right mark causing you get stuck in the environment.  I mention this since it happened to me several times (stupid Sabretooth fight).  Also I got stuck behind a few walls and fell through the earth a couple of times forcing a reload.

And the story, while told better than the movie, is weirdly paced.  The beginning is slow as hell and convoluted using flashbacks to Africa to tell the background of Wolvie getting pissed off at Col. Striker and such.  Once you meet the Sentinals it picks up significantly.  Oh yeah there are Sentinals and a couple of really stupid boss fights.

And that’s it for the bad stuff.  Really.  The rest of the game is pure awesome.  First Wolverine is a badass.  Other than a really short stealth section (which isn’t bad actually) you will be clawing the living shit out of everthing.  Yes the game is rated M for Mature and holy crap does it deserve the rating. 

Dismembering,  massive amounts of blood, decapitations,  and slo-mo stabs through the chest are the norm and are plentiful throughout this 10+ hour adventure.  Yes over 10 hours my first playthrough.  Some of the attacks are just brutal and you feel really powerful as the Wolvie.  Just as the character should be portrayed.

Once you learn the lunge (which is really early) you will be jumping straight into combat all the time.  Wolvie is damn near indestructible and it is really hard to die.  This isn’t a complaint since the game is so fun.  The combat is successful and lunging and attacking NEVER gets old.  EVER.  It is fun as crap just beating the living piss out of everything.

There is a tad too much platforming but then again it is a mild distraction from the killing spree of justice that Wolvie dispenses.  There is an on rails shooting section that is cool and a neat shooting gallery section with a Sentinal hand that was interesting.

Now the boss fights, those are another story.  Most are pretty good.  The Sabretooth fight is good, same with all of the other mutants/baddies.  I liked them.  The only ones that kinda stunk are the weird monsters that pop up in africa.  I know, WTF is what you’ll be saying when you see the fire monster.

The voice acting is good with Hugh Jackman being on point most of the time.  The others aren’t bad, though I can’t tell if they are the actors from the movie.  I don’t think so but I could be wrong.  I think Liev is the Tooth but reall hard to tell overall since this is a Wolvie game.

Finnally we get to the graphics.  The CG cutscenes look really good except for Wolvie who does not look like Jackman in those.  Weird.  The realtime cutscenes and ingame Wolverine look really good though.  The realtime regeneration of Wolvie as he gets shot, beaten, and stabbed is amazing and really cool.  It is awesome to see a hole in the middle of his stomach and then watch it close up in real time. 

Also the blood, while comical (no pun intended) at times is well done overall and the same with the dismembering badguys.  They scream and flail around as they die.  Sometimes with no arms or legs.  Funny as hell.

So should you buy this game?  If you like God of War, X-Men, Wolverine, or kicking the living shit out of people then yes.  The little bugs/glitches don’t mar the experience as much as other reviews would lead you to believe and while the game is contrived and generally rather simple in terms of depth, it is fun as hell and true to the character.  There are a ton of combos and I was never bored.  This is the ultimate Wolverine simulator.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: skate.2 (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on January 30, 2009

Here it is.  The biggest skateboarding game surprise has finally received a sequel.  How is it?

So I’ve had the original game since launch.  I love it.  The Flick-It control scheme, the realistic physics, the ideology behind the game, everything.  How do you improve upon perfection?  You add more shit.  You leave the perfect things alone and you fix the bugs, glitches, and little design flaws.  Unfortunately EA and Black Box only got part of the memo.

Let’s start with the bad.  The 60 frames per second that was promised functions sometimes, but stutters quite a bit.  Noticeable frame rate hits occur (especially downtown or when other skaters are online) that usually eff up your line/trick/overall flow.  With that the graphics are just weird.  They are overly bright and in certain sections of the city get really annoying (as well as the noticeable pop-in).  The city has this surreal feeling that wasn’t present in the original game.  Kinda like how Need For Speed Underground was a little off, so is this in terms of feel.  Plus there are some pretty low-resolution textures in places that should be.

Next Black Box decided to slow down the skaters and tweak the physics.  This means you need to hold a trick longer on the stick, move faster yourself, and overall change up your game.  Not a hard thing to get used to, but it seems to me they just crammed as much shit into the control scheme as they could.  I still prefer this to the archaic press “X” to kickflip, but there will hopefully be a compromise for the next game.  Pressing X or A to one-foot air tricks, is a little weird and very awkward.

Next is the Career mode.  In order to make things easier they made the film challenges mostly optional and you only really have to play the game of s.k.a.t.e. twice in the career.  First the actual career challenges.  They come in two varieties.  Easy as hell or hard as shit.  No in between.  The game of s.k.a.t.e. against Eric Koston and Mike Carroll is fucking broken and some of the other challenges require such specific timing that the control scheme is not made for that it is just unfair at times (looking at you basketball court).

To make things worse, the descriptions of the challenges and what to do next is so cryptic that I didn’t realize I had to find pools and drain them in order to continue the Thrasher magazine goals, or even understand how to get sponsors.  It just happens.  Plus some of the other challenges have you doing tricks in places that are not set up for them.  I understand the idea is make you feel like a real skater and deal with what you got, but when you have to land in a specific spot just to make an ollie and there is a ledge there, things can get really frustrating.

Finally, my last thing in this ongoing bitchfest (yes the good points are coming and there are plenty) is the city.  It is supposed to be a greatest hits of sorts from the first game, but overall it sucks.  The city feels like a corridor shooter in a city with a fake sky.  Like Doom or Duke Nukem.  There just are not a lot of open areas as before (probably to keep the frame rate up).

This leads to my first in the long list of good points, the skate parks.  Where the city itself really does suck, the skate parks are fucking amazing.  The Mega Compound has been revamped and is just perfect.  The Plan B warehouse has done some steroids and became the amazing Training Facility (with your board sponsors flags all over the place which is a nice touch).  Goofy Versus Regular (GVR) is a nice addition and sweet little area.  My new favorite is the Monster Clubhouse.  Despite the obvious branding (but their energy drinks rock so it is ok) the area is like an outdoor arena that is setup for competition (like the Dew Cup).  It has just enough crazy halfpipes added in the realism that it makes amazing.  The only place that is a letdown is the San Van Arena.  Gone is the X-Games of the past (which was awesome) and in is a weird amalgam of the mega ramp and a roller coaster.  Can’t describe it any other way.

Next is the ability to walk.  Yes it looks like shit and is a little awkward but thank you EA and Black Box.  Now I can walk up the effin stairs.  With this comes ability to use the force to retrieve the board which I am not that upset with as a lot of others are.  I think it looks cool.

Here is a good place to talk about the controls.  Once you get accustomed to the timing, the controls work quite well.  This is not a button masher or a game you can just flail away at the stick and hope for happiness.  In order to pull off good looking one foot/no foot grabs you need to plan out your runs.  Most require a combination of the right stick and shoulder buttons along with the A, X, or buttons after you have flicked the right stick to ollie.  Got that?  Check the trick book.  It is more intuitive than you may believe and you will be doing my favorite, Airwalks, in no time.  You can also hippie jump, caveman, foot plant,  no Comply, boneless, and use the grab the world button to do other tricks.

WTF?  Grab the world?  Yeah the RB button is now the grab the world button.  You can skitch cars with it, invert on QPs, and even move stuff.  Once off the board you can move realistic things (picnic tables, rails, ramps, those sorts of things) to set up new lines and even set up your own little Own the Spot challenge.  Once done you can then upload that shit online and challenge your friends.

Had enough?  Need more? Ok.

Once you finish the admittedly short and really frustrating career mode you can venture online.  The normal freeskate is back as well as online own the spots, but now you have freeskate activities.  Like Burnout Paradise (speaking of which, why the fuck are there Paradise City billboards all over this game?) you can initiate a ton of events wherever and whenever you want.  Some are easy fun, others a pain in the ass as well (having 6 people do one grind at the same time is fun.  Yeah right). 

Let us not forget the death races (which are a lot easier in the career mode this time around) or the new Hall of Meat challenges.  The HoM challenges are kinda annoying since they pop up EVERY time you bail.

Oh and the create-a-skater doesn’t suck anymore.  You can be a chick for one and the hair actually looks like hair.  Plus the hats look good (headphone options and different ways to wear them FTW) as well as the way everything just fits on the skater.  No longer do you feel like a set of clothes with a head. 

This also translates to the fact that the skater now takes battle damage as you wreck yourself on spots.  Same with the clothes and the board.  This along with the awesome new bails (which look pretty convincing for the most part) and the excellent animation system make for a pretty game to use the replay system with.

For that you get 90 seconds total.  Infinite clips that add up to 90 seconds.  Replay options are stinted (Filmer Pack is available, I got it and will touch on it next week afte rI mess with it over the weekend)  but for the most part editing is easy and checking out replays of your conquests and failures is a definite win.

So what is the final verdict.  Well if you read the cons they were all pretty big.  With that said the good definitely outweighs the bad here.  I am more pissed off that the little bugs were not fixed than I am about anything else, but since the skate parks are so great and the new tricks are actually awesome (though not necessary) I gotta give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Not to mention my new obsession in the replay mechanic and I can see myself playing this game until skate.3 comes out.  So while this may be just skate. 1.5, it is a definite must buy for any skate fan.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Soul Calibur IV (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on August 20, 2008

So I finally decided to spend some money and get a new game.  I was really bored and skate. is getting old though I still play it online.  I decided to buy the new Soul Calibur game since I loved the originals and the last one I played (number 2) stayed in my system for months.  Well, not this one.

I rarely make a bad decision when it comes to games and this wasn’t a bad decision, just a hasty one.  I wanted a fighting game and with the added Star Wars characters this seemed to be the perfect game.  It’s not, though not a bad game by any means.  Mainly stale.  Read on if you will.

So I fired up SC4 and started to battle.  I realized the same tactics and button mashing tricks from the past worked again here and that the same unbalanced characters were back.  Kilik is a tad slower, but considering how strong he is, he staggers almost any opponent damn near every hit.  Same can be said about many other characters, though Maxi is a weak tool now.  Yoda, a cool bonus character is broken.  He can’t be grabbed and honestly has terrible combos, though his force powers are pretty good.  Same with The Apprentice from the new Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game (demo coming tomorrow, yeah!!!!).  He is a little more balanced but is just Mitsurugi with a new skin and style with a little bit of force thrown in.

Anyway, as you can tell the characters are the same.  I wasn’t too happy, but at least I don’t have to relearn the entire game.  The characters do look great.  Gorgeous graphics and little to no aliasing.  Background are pretty and actually believable in terms of settings within the Soul Calibur world.  Though the chesticles on most of the female fighters are way too big to be effective in combat and cause a few of the fighters to be horribly misproportional.  But I digress.

The story mode is short.  5 fights.  That’s it.  Arcade mode is short.  8 fights.  That’s it.  The biggies are the online fighting and the tower.  To start the tower is lame.  You can customize your character, but really it is just a different  skin on one of the others and not being able to create a custom Jedi is bullshit.  The online play is absolutely phenomenal though.  Almost no lag, full voice, and other than the spammers and people who only pick the same damn fighters it is great.  Good community too.  Not like Halo or Gears where it is a ton of little kids.  I think the average age is more like 16 instead of 12. 

I’m not going to drag this on anymore.  The game is good.  It is just really the same as the other incarnations and really the Star Wars characters are a desperate gimmick that I think I sorta fell for.  Not ashamed or pissed off since I’m going to continue to play online, but really this game isn’t worth $60 of my hard earned money.  Look for a price drop soon.

INDIFFERENT

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Review: The Bourne Conspiracy (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on June 17, 2008

There are certain games out there that play like movies.  Metal Gear Solid 4 which I’m playing now does that the same with games like Parasite Eve, Indigo Prophecy, and Red Faction.  Now some of these have more gameplay than others and even offer deeper, better stories than a typical summer blockbuster. 

The Bourne Identity (which is essentially this game, not sure why the call it Conspiracy) was a great movie that had a great plot, terrific acting, and great action.  Well, if you wanted a game version of that movie minus Matt Damon, but with a ton more action then you picked the right game.

The Bourne Conspiracy for the Xbox 360 follows the plot of The Bourne Identity movie pretty closely, but expanding on the backstory and flashbacks from the books.  What follows is a great mix of fisticuffs, shooting, and a small driving section combined with a very coherent, if not by the numbers, story. 

I’m not going to give away the story, though if you’ve seen the movie (and you should have by now) then you know what’s up.  The game has three sections as mentioned previously and despite the driving sections being weak, the game is a great package.

The first thing is the fisticuffs, or hand-to-hand combat.  There are a few areas that force you into this mode (the boss fights) but generally you are free to do what you will when it comes to either shooting or fighting.  If you choose to fight, then you are treated to the reason why you should buy this game.

The camera shifts to a close up view and you proceed to own your opponent(s).  You can fight up to 4 people at once at any given point.  You have 2 attack buttons, but are free to mix and match for combos, or hold one for a powerfull kick (which is vital on the higher difficulties).  Though the move set is slim, you can’t rely on one combo and the AI does a good job of defending itself, especially during the boss fights.  This would be a problem if the combos sucked, but fortunately they don’t.  Each one is a brutal dance of pain.  The characters (yours included) have faces that deform to hits and the damage on some of the baddies after your done with them is pretty brutal and very convincing. 

This works because both the camera and sound effects work in tandem.  This leads me to the takedowns.  As you attack/defend you get adrenaline.  Once you get enough, you can do a takedown.  Get enough adrenaline and you can take down three people at once.  They look great and really convincing.  Though limited, there are enough animations that you don’t start recognizing them til the second play through.  The boss fights rely on the takedown for 2 reasons.  For one, this is the only way to inflict serious damage.  Second it is a way to get a little health back.

The shooting portions aren’t great since it takes way too many bullets to take out a baddy if you don’t hit them in the head.  Besides that and the really small aiming sight, they work reasonably well.  The camera isn’t too bad.  I’ve seen worse.  The takedowns work here too.  You trigger a shooting takedown and see a cool clip of Bourne dropping a baddy.  It’s cool and can slow down a firefight if things get hot.

The driving doesn’t fair too well.  The section is pretty long (it’s a Mini chase scene in case you were wondering) but thankfully it is the only one.  It’s not terrible, just doesn’t seem as polished as some of the other portions of the game.

Speaking of polish, when your CG videos look WORSE than the realtime videos (complete with Shenmue style QTE events) then you need some better video compression and animators.  The CGI is terrible.  Grainy, ugly, and washed out.  Thankfully the realtime cutscenes look great and show off an impressive amount of detail thanks to the Unreal engine.  Plus you don’t see the typical swapping of textures thanks to the smaller environments. 

Bourne looks good.  Not Matt Damon, but good.  The bad guys, who repeat a little too often all look good and detailed.  The animations are on the whole great with only a few transitions seemingly out of place.  Mostly fluid.

The audio is good as well.  The score and music fit in and the voice acting.  Let’s just is great.  Not sure if these are pros or some random people off the street but they are good.  All the characters work and fit.

The biggest thing going for the game is the pace.  Once the game starts, it doesn’t really stop.  Non-stop action and Quick Time Event cutscenes (think God of War or RE4 and you’ll get the idea) keep you on your toes and it makes seem more interactive than it really is.  Normally I think they’re stupid, but it works here since QTEs pop up all over the place.  In the movies, boss fights, during takedowns.  It just seems fluid and well done.  Not to mention the camera angles and style this game has is just immense.

Other than the driving a few minor complaints, The Bourne Conspiracy is an awesome game while it lasts.  It is a tad short and I got through it in about 5 hours the first time.  A little less the second time.  I wanted to play it again once I was finished and I felt ultimately satisfied.  Definately pick this up if you need a Bourne fix, or just want a great action movie experience.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Import Tuner Challenge

Posted by rapaleeman on June 2, 2008

Well here’s a game that went completley under the radar.  Hell, I even missed it.  Ubisoft screwed around with the name when it brought it to the Xbox 360.  Most people know it as Shutoku Battle X.  Ring a bell?  No?  How about Tokyo Xtreme Racer?  Ahh there we go.

A series that started on the PS One, but gaining massive fame and popularity on the defunct Sega Dreamcast.  It was a racing game that blended realistic car models (without licensing, but named after their engines which was pretty funny), amazing environments, crazy tuning, and what can best be described as street racing meets Street Fighter.  Yeah the one with Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li.  Weird but it worked.

To catch up those of you who have missed this amazing series here goes.  You essentially drive an accurately modeled version of Tokyo’s highway system and search for rivals.  You can tune and customize your car extensively.  I mean seriously customize.  Everything from gears and camber/toe, all the way to the stickers on your car.  Oh, this was before Need for Speed and the Fast and the Furious. 

Random Fact: Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero (the third version and the Playstation 2 premier) had a trailer and stickers from the Fast and the Furious to promote the movie.  It worked so well that Genki, the makers were hired to create a FaTF (not typing it out again dammit) game and you can see a trailer for it on the dvd for 2 Fast 2 Furious.  Too bad they lost the license to Bandai since the game looked sweet.  End Fact.

Once you had a pimped out ride you then took to the streets.  You cruised to find an opponent, flash your high beams and challenge them to a race.  Once accepted, Street Fighter power bars (well SP Spirit Points but come on that’s just stupid) and go at it for as long as it takes.  You take the lead and your opponent’s bar dropped.  You hit a wall, car, or get too far behind and you lose points.  You go until one of you has zero SP.  Plus you get some sweet battle music too.  Once you beat all those rivals in one gang, you can take on the master and some wanderers. 

That’s it folks.  Nothing too complicated at all.  Simple concept yet the game is extremely long and ultimately fun.  With something like 300 opponents plus bosses it can take a while.  Import Tuner Challenge lives up to that tradition and honestly hasn’t changed very much.

The graphics are better.  Not much but they are better.  The modelling of the cars and engines look fantastic, the same with the interior.  The rest of the game looks just like a high resolution version of Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3.  Not bad, just really sparse.  The lights and reflections do look a lot better.

The handling has gotten a little better.  You still drive like you are on ice, but the series has always been drift heavy.  Overall, the AI drives better too and is actually a lot more challenging, especially in the early races when you have no money and your car sucks.  Once you get a better car (real cars and names this time) and customize it the game gets extremely fun and a little easier, yet harder at the same time.  It’s a good balance and is extremely time consuming, but in a good way.

The Quest mode now has a slight story.  Kinda dumb but it doesn’t hurt or get in the way so it’s cool.  The music is generic rock/battle music.  It works and is awesome.  There is an online mode now, but good luck trying to find people to race.  It wasn’t very popular when it came out and it isn’t now.  Split screen works with little to no slow down.

My only real complaint is the lack of cars.  There are only about 20, not counting the variations or special cars.  Granted they all look good and perform well, but seriously.  That is a terrible number.  The issue is there are something like 300 rivals.  You will see each one of these cars again.  And again.  And again.  Granted they look different based on the different mods, but we all know better don’t we?

All in all, even without an active online mode and limited car selection this game is awesome.  For what it lacks in technical prowess it makes up for it in sheer fun and length.  I have enjoyed every version (yes even Street Supremacy for the PSP) and this one was no exception.  I am actually playing through it again now, hence the random review.  If your a car nut (specifically street racing) and want to race, this is the game to get.  Plus it should be cheap.  If the premise above sounded remotely interesting then buy it.  Worth every penny.  The beginning is a tad slow though.  Give it an hour.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

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