Friday, August 26, 2005

Whoof!

Nintendogs (Nintendo DS)

Two weeks ago, if I was asked what I thought the best DS game to date was, I would have responded, "Meteos, no doubt." Today, if I were to be asked that same question, your reponse would be, "Woof!"

Nintendogs is flat out brilliant. It takes Tamagotchi-esqe interaction and adds to it drastically. When the game starts, you find yourself at the kennel, with a large selection of dogs in front of you, from multiple different breeds. After choosing your pup, you'll take him or her home, and begin getting a feel for one another. You'll learn how to go about teaching tricks, making sure your dog is happy at all times, the basics. From there, you're on your own.

Your new friend will quickly begin to learn your voice and come when called. There are countless tricks that can be learned. Simply guide your dog through the motion,, then touch the prompt and say the verbal command you wish to use for that trick. repeat this, and soon enough, it'll be second nature for your puppy. The only weak point here, if that sometimes your dog may confuse verbal commands.

Perhaps one of the game's strongest points, is what takes place outside of the house. Going for walks often results in new items and some exercise. You can also enter your dog into 3 different types of competetions, agility (obsticle course), obedience (how well your dog listens), and disk catching. Practicing these will result in some more cash to remodel the house, buy more dogs or supplies.

All in all, this is one for the ages. Dog lover or not, odds are, this one'll have you barking.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Online Game Sites

we all love to play games. right? I mean, thats why we come to the site! Check out reviews and articles on games! Well, i did a (VERY) little bit of searching, and found a few cool sites for games!

I'm sure you'll recognize them all, but i felt the need to post them for those that didnt know.

www.gamescene.com (shockwave games home)
www.miniclip.com (movies AND games!)
www.newgrounds.com (beware! adult orientated site!)
and lets not forget my favorite,
www.dlstudios.net

for more, i believe busterbot has some other sites listed in the affiliates section, so i advise checking them out too!

--
The Evil Ryan Von Levingston!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

With A Vengeance

Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance is a thrilling take on the BattleMech genre. Its amazing graphics, incredible attention to detail, and replay value all contribute to the success of this great game for PC.

The graphics stun even the most experienced of players. Although not as good as its sequels, it sports a very well designed view and a great user interface. Building and designing mechs is as fun as marching them around and blowing things up with them.

The selection of weapons is very large, and all the weapons (and other parts) have certain weights, which you must carefully balance with armor to create the perfect mech. Too much armor, and your mech won't be able to take out th enemy. Not enough, and you'll perish before you can unload your weaponry.

Mission strategy is a huge part of this game. Although the story is very linear and therfore very constricted, it is interesting and well thought out, creating a wonderful gaming experience. The controls are not very intuitive, requiring frequent glances at a reference sheet, but once you get used to them it becomes easier.

Mech control is also fundamental and well thought out. From turning the torso, to looking sideways, to strafing, to using jump-jets to fly over an enemy, every part of the game is simple, yet challenging. Even the best of players will stumble across a tactic they haven't used yet half-way through the game.

All in all, Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance is a great game. Although surpassed by its sequels, it continues to amaze and entertain me. 8/10

Friday, August 12, 2005

Third Attack

Heli Attack 3 is a great online game by squarecircleco that deserves a test-drive by any online gamer. Ranked #1 on Miniclip.com (even months after its release) it ranks high in user satisfaction. In this article I will examine how it differs from its prequel, Heli Attack 2.

First of all, you will immediatly notice the dramatic improvements on the graphics engine. Recoil effects, extensive rotation features, and alpha effects together create a very nice gaming environment, while maintaining the old feel of the game.

You'll also notice the much better range of weapons available. Sniper rifles, chainguns, and double shotguns (plus more) are added to the already plentiful arsenal such as firemines, Uzis and shotgun rockets (plus more!)

Another great feature is a "story" mode, that (thankfully) hides the actual story from the player (who wants to read that boring stuff about saving the world, anyway?) This feature did not exist in Heli Attack 2, the only way of playing being blowing up helicopters and surviving as long as you could.

There are also new enemies as well, and several varieties of helicopters. All of them are robots this time, some with big turrets, all with different ways of attacking as well as different weapons.

The movement has been greatly improved, with the addition of climbing certain walls and crawling while maintaining old favorites like hyperjumping and time warps. There are also alot more time-altering tactics.

All in all, Heli Attack 3 is a beautifully rendered online game that is loads of fun to play, and worth your wasting a few hours (or days) on.

4.5/5

Monday, August 08, 2005

Resident Evil 4

From Capcom, the company that revolutionized survival horror, comes Resident Evil 4, perhaps the best game in the genre ever to hit shelves. However, instead of sticking to the traditional and proven formula that Capcom admitted was becoming stale, the company decided to create a brand new experience for true fans of and newcomers to the series. The most obvious change presents itself right from the start in that there are no zombies, a staple for the franchise up until now; luckily, the amazing gameplay experience and ambience more than make up for that seeming loss as the title truly takes the franchise into a previously unreached realm of survival gaming.

STORY (9.0/10):
Resident Evil 4 takes place six years after the events portrayed in Resident Evil 2. The Umbrella Company is in ruins due to a stock price plummet after the government nuked Raccoon City in response to the release of the T-Virus. During this time, Leon S. Kennedy of Resident Evil 2 fame began his government training as a highly specialized agent. This newest Resident Evil installment begins as Leon is sent on a top-secret mission to retrieve the President's daughter from a religious cult in a remote area of Europe.

GAMEPLAY (9.5/10):
Unlike previous installments in the franchise, Resident Evil 4 moves at a blistering pace and wastes no time in getting started. Throughout the title is an overwhelming sense of urgency and despair, providing a truly frightening experience- moreso than any given in any other title to date. Perhaps the greatest reason for this is that almost completely absent are times where Leon can set his own pace of progression; instead, the consistent barrage of frenzied enemy attacks maintain the enveloping experience.

Fortunately for traditionalists, Resident Evil 4 is able to appeal to every type of horror fan. The new, over-the-shoulder third-person viewpoint creates some truly intuitive control and movement, allowing gamers to see and prepare for everything surrounding and approaching Leon and Ashley. Alternatively, Capcom has remained loyal to traditionalists by incorporating moments purely for fright. Enemies will moan out in the dark, break down doorways, and quickly run in to eliminate the American threat. This old-school fear is clearly put into focus in several portions of the game, including run-ins in a graveyard, in a hedge maze, and in darkened hallways. Perhaps the most startling and most welcome inclusion in Resident Evil 4 is the opportunity to control Ashley, the girl often captured and often in need of an escort. Though nearly helpless, armed only with a flashlight, Ashley must quickly sneak past enemies while raising and lowering gates to avoid capture. These scenes are perhaps the most suspenseful in an already action-packed title, and they definitely help to put Resident Evil 4 in an entirely new level of gaming.

Additionally, Capcom has incorporated several new control aspects that greatly improve the gaming experience. As mentioned previously, the flexible camera now shows the action from behind Leon, greatly limiting moments with disorientation and unseen enemies. The R button has also become an essential tool for combat, though. Holding it down allows full analog control of weaponry, a superb addition that greatly changes the gameplay for the better. Headshots are fairly good for quick kills, especially at the beginning of the game, whereas shots to the leg can temporarily clear a running path when low on ammo and in need of a quick escape. Sniping from afar, blasting from up close with a wide array of guns, and even combating by knife can all be executed seamlessly and satisfyingly. Finally, Capcom has also implemented new interaction-based moments. When Leon nears certain objects or is in the middle of some particular sequences, button commands will appear on screen cueing what the player need do next. Seemingly a simple addition, this feature greatly expands Leon's freedom for exploration in the vast locales, once again making for an even more enjoyable experience. Though a strafe feature is noticeably absent, the overall control and gameplay of Resident Evil 4 is fantastic.

Though usually not mentioned in a review, both the bosses and upgraded save system simply must be mentioned to do justice to this title. Somehow, Capcom has managed to create some of the most visually appealing and overall engrossing boss creatures ever to grace a console. From giant ogres to monstrous underwater menaces, each boss in Resident Evil 4 is extremely intuitive and engaging, and players will have to both use and overcome the environment as Leon searches for the clever weakness always present. As for the save system, the usual typewriters are still in place. However, the ribbon-based aspect has been eliminated; any found typewriter can be used to save. Additionally, each level includes several checkpoints which thankfully eliminates the need for tedious replays to continue. Capcom has truly come a long way in terms of presenting a dynamic gaming experience, and the twenty-plus hours of Resident Evil 4 shine in every area because of it.

GRAPHICS (10/10):
Resident Evil 4 is simply the most beautiful GameCube title to date, even surpassing the likes of Metroid Prime. Every aspect is excellently polished and overflowing with creativity more than supported by the amazingly detailed character models, all of which fluidly run at thirty frames per second. Featuring motion-captured movement, both the bodies and the faces of enemies spring to life with energy and detail rarely seen in games so far. Environmental effects are also beautiful- from the realistic lighting and texture effects to the spectacular sight of simple rain falling and heat waves rising at all times of day. Little can be said about the amazing graphical feats Capcom has performed with Resident Evil 4 that hasn't been said plenty of times before, but every ounce of praise is extremely well deserved.

SOUND (9.0/10):
In a first for the Resident Evil series, every aspect of sound is very well done. Like always, the sound effects of thumping, screeching, and yelling are excellent and very believable, a small feature that truly adds to the realism of the fantasy environment. However, Resident Evil 4 also features solid voice acting, made all the better due to Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound capabilities. Finally, the soundtrack mixes excellently with every environment and situation presented. Both subtle and overpowering musical pieces truly add to the overall ambience in this truly remarkable piece of work.

OVERALL (9.5/10):
Capcom, to put it simply, has resurrected what is perhaps its most famed franchise in Resident Evil 4. Featuring absolutely amazing graphics, a new control and camera system, and excellent sound, there is very little Resident Evil 4 doesn't do right. This title had extremely high expectations throughout its development cycle, and it more than delivered upon its release. Resident Evil 4 is definitely a must-have for Nintendo's GameCube.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

GTA Not-All-That-Advanced

Grand Theft Auto Advance is a fun game that provided me with alot of entertainment. However, it didn't really live up to its name, and alot of changes were made to fit it to the GBA that I didn't particularly like. (Please note I have only ever played Grand Theft Auto 2, so I will be comparing them).

In GTA2, you are a gangsta that does what he wants. If he chooses, he can go on a rampage, or he can do missions to move to other areas. In GTAA, there is a complete story line. Granted the player doesn't have to follow the story (you can be a taxi driver, a cop, a paramedic, or a firefighter to earn cash if you so choose), it's still kinda irritating to be constantly nagged to go do a mission for 8-ball or Johnny.

If you have no problem doing the missions, however, the storyline is fine, and the learning curve is great. It was very intuitive to figure out the controls and how the missions worked. The addition on the screen of a map was very helpful, and really made it alot more fun. Cops were a bit too easy to kill, but they presented a formidable challenge. All the standard weapons were still in place (except the taser. Is that only in area 3?), which made it easier to learn, having played GTA2. The map size was perfect, but the lack of z-effects was kind of disappointing. Also the tire-screeching was a little annoying, and the controls required some trial-and-error, but it was worth it.

All in all, it was a good game, had nice graphics, and OK sounds. I liked the map, the cars, and the weapons. What should have been changed? Some original concepts would have been nice. Other than that, I think it was a good game that deserves borrowing from a friend (the price is a major rip-off).

4/5

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sony Vs. Nintendo

Nintendo made its debut with the FamiCom and the Nintendo Entertainment System (the US version), a moderately well-put-together gaming system aimed at younger children. Nintendo continued to improve the product line with the Super FamiCom and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (the US version). Each time a new system was released, a game series was created (or expanded) to take advantage of the new capabilities.

Then it was the Nintendo 64. Nintendo had had moderate success with the FamiCom and decided to take it further and improve performance, adding 3D graphics. Sony decided to jump on the wagon with the PlayStation, a slightly improved but mostly identical version of Nintendo's new product. Nintendo started several new series of games and improved old ones, almost all of which were destined to be big hits later on. Sony, well, didn't.

Nintendo then decided to take it further with the GameCube. Better graphics, a new CD system instead of cartridges, a faster processor, all of these made it a major improvement over the N64 system. Sony turned around and cranked out the PS2, a minor improvement over the GameCube but enough to give it the edge. Nintendo continued to flesh out its new system with new games series, and made major improvements to old ones. Sony continued to fall short on games quality, preferring shoot-em-ups to attract an older audience while not really caring if the games were entertaining.

Then the Nintendo DS came out. Featuring N64 graphics quality and fast load times, plus a touch screen, voice control capabilites, and more, it was ground-breaking. The GameBoy had been around for a while now; it was a toy, not really threatening Sony's product line. But this, this "DS" thing, this was a serious problem for Sony. Sony turned around, added a camera, better graphics, and an mp3 player (plus a few more features), and threw the PlayStation Portable into the fray. Once again, Nintendo cranked out excellent games for the DS; Sony only made new versions of old clunkers and made them compatible with the PSP.

Now the next generation of gaming consoles is coming into view: the Nintendo Revolution (no better word can describe it) and the PlayStation 3. The NR adds DVD reading features, and functions as a full-fledged multimedia center. The PS3 adds better graphics and more processing power, and not much more. And, if the trend continues, Nintendo will add a host of new and entertaining games, while the PS3 will have newer versions of the oldies with more blood and gore than ever. I won't even wait for the reviews; when the NR is released, it will be in my living room faster than you can say "Boring Games On Good Hardware Just Doesn't Work."