PixelJunk games have spanned across genres and the reason they are held in such high regard is the one constant – originality. And PixelJunk Shooter is no different. Playing through this game is a refreshing experience and even though it’s only 5-6 hours long, it is well worth its asking price. In fact, it’s well worth twice that. And my detective skills suggest that expansions are on the way as well. If you’ve played and loved past PixelJunk games, you know what I’ve been going on about. But if you haven’t, don’t let the simplistic 2D visuals fool you; this is one of the best games to have come out in 2009.
The legendary Tekken franchise makes its latest home console appearance as Tekken 6, a port of the updated arcade machine variant - Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion. A solid four years after its last iteration Tekken 5 was released on the PlayStation 2 system (not counting the HD PSN remake for PS3), Tekken 6 unbelievably contains an even bigger roster.
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game may not be a total train-wreck as most other movie-licensed games, but it’s not great either. The visuals are very impressive and there is a fair amount of replay value thanks to the branching storylines. But it’s very difficult to recommend it over other big titles that have been out recently.
Many people may have been turned off by the fact that The Saboteur is a World War II game. And you can’t really blame them thanks to the steady stream of generic Nazi-killing first-person shooters that have been shoved down our throats over the years. But The Saboteur isn’t a World War II game, it simply happens to play out in a World War II backdrop. You don’t play a soldier fighting for his country on the frontlines, but rather a man on a quest for personal vengeance in Nazi-occupied Paris. [singlepic id=1701 w=450 float=center]
The biggest strength of Assassin’s Creed 2 comes from the capability of the development team behind it to take feedback and channel it constructively to weed out almost every issue that was counterproductive to every great idea that the original had. So lets dwell deeper into what makes Assassin’s Creed 2 a near-perfect realisation of the series. For starters, Altair is gone. Well, not exactly, but he’s gone nonetheless. Enter Ezio Auditore da Firenze, son of a nobleman by day and assassin by night. Ezio’s carefree life of running across rooftops, getting into fights with rivals and courting pretty ladies comes to a screeching halt when his family gets caught up in a diabolical plot to overthrow the ruling family of Florence.
I think my favourite bits of Left4Dead were its moments of tranquillity that came between the bouts of carnage. The brief periods of time where you were grabbing ammo, healing team mates, swapping weapons and preparing for the horde you knew was coming. Every one of those moments felt like the climax of a great zombie film and even the fact that it happened so often never seemed to make them feel repetitive. Problem was that despite these moments of brilliance, I always felt that the game was lacking in content, depth and variety. Left4Dead 2 brings all three to the table along with a mountain of dismembered bloodied zombie corpses. [singlepic id=1693 w=450 float=center]
Bioware first introduced Dragon Age: Origins as a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2. I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about the prospect – excited because this is Bioware. They have some of the best role playing games in their lineup, including Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic and the legendary Baldur’s Gate 2. Apprehensive because they weren’t using the Dungeons & Dragons licence. How can you have a fantasy-based traditional RPG touted as a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate without D&D? Also, how would the controls feel on the console? Read on to find out why my excitement should’ve been higher and how my fears were wiped out.
It all started with a wrench. Ratchet could not move and throw the wrench at the same time. Honest. Reminds you of Resident Evil, huh? But you need not fear much; all of that has been remedied. In Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, Ratchet can throw the wrench while he moves, the environments are more destructible, the script is funnier, Captain Copernicus Qwark is still the man and the Clank levels are not boring anymore. And yes, all of this at 60 frames per second. Well, most of the time anyway.
Dante’s Inferno isn’t going to win any awards for originality. In fact, barely minutes into the game you’ll start to wonder how EA isn’t neck deep in Sony lawsuits for all sorts of legal violations. It’s almost funny at times how blatantly similar this game is to God of War. The art style, the health pick ups, the enemies and bosses, the static camera angles, and yes, the gore. It seems all too familiar, and not in a subtle sort of way. It’s in your face, almost like the developers (Visceral Games) are openly saying, “Yes, we’ve made a God of War clone, and a good one at that”. And they may be right. Dante’s Inferno can be a lot of fun once you get over the striking similarities between the two. [singlepic id=1647 w=450 float=center]
Equal parts action RPG and equal parts first-person shooter and an all-around fun experience that’s even better when played with friends.
While 2K Sports have been the undisputed kings of basketball gaming by default for a fair number of years now, EA’s push for credibility with NBA Live 10 must surely have made them sit up and take notice. With this year being the tenth anniversary of their initial foray into NBA games, most fans of the series expected them to pull out all the stops and deliver big time. Unfortunately, NBA 2K10 by and large fails to do so. [singlepic id=1612 w=450 float=center]
Since its not-so-distant beginnings in December 2006, the Motorstorm Festival has made its mark at some exotic and dangerous locales around the world. The offroad racer started its journey on the PS3 at Monument Valley before arriving at greener pastures, complete with dense forests and smoldering volcanoes in Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. Now, following the trend set by many major Sony franchises, Motorstorm has made its way to the edge of the Arctic Circle on the PSP with Motorstorm: Arctic Edge courtesy Bigbig Studios. [singlepic id=1602 w=450 float=center]
Dark Void is the latest product of Capcom’s little experiment of commissioning games from independent Western studios. The last game to come out of this westward approach (Bionic Commando) sank without a trace and the studio behind it was forced to close down as a result. Eager not to turn that into a trend is Airtight Games, helmed by former members of FASA, the studio behind arcade flight game Crimson Skies. [singlepic id=1601 w=450 float=center]
The maniacal genius of Tim Schafer unwraps itself in yet another piece of pop culture art after a 4-year hiatus. However, his newest action-adventure tribute to the awesomeness that is Heavy Metal – Brutal Legend – is only a soul successor of the critically acclaimed Psychonauts in the vaguest of terms. The fresh IP surely generated a lot of pre-release publicity due to the Schafer tag, but does it deliver a full throttle electrifying experience? [singlepic id=1590 w=450 float=center]
Ever since Blizzard’s action RPG epic Diablo II and its expansion Lord of Destruction left us with sleepless nights, broken mice and sore index fingers, many similar games have tried to fill the void until the inevitable sequel to the series. Torchlight from developer Runic Games is the latest in the long line of Diablo-like action RPGs and for what it’s worth, it’s probably the best ‘Diablo clone’ to grace PCs since Titan Quest. Available as a digital download only for the moment, Torchlight hits almost all the right notes and is certainly the best way to get your loot mongering fix until Diablo III comes out (whenever it does). [singlepic id=1573 w=450 float=center]
Accessibility seems to be the flavour of the season for racing games. MotorStorm: Arctic Edge on the PSP has done it brilliantly and Forza Motorsport 3 seems to be all about it, but Colin McRae: DiRT 2 takes the cake by going so far to attract the casual gamer, that it’s now unrecognisable from the pre-DiRT Colin McRae games many of us have enjoyed for years. Codemasters have given precedence to the sizeable X Games loving American audience over the rally fans, and as a result, the Colin McRae series is no longer about rally, but rather an off-road racing assortment. [singlepic id=1559 w=450 float=center]
Risen is the latest RPG from German developer Piranha Bytes, better known as the creators of the Gothic series of games. Anyone familiar with that series knows that they weren’t exactly the friendliest RPGs out there. While the first two games are highly regarded among the hardcore RPG crowd for their gritty style and difficult but ultimately rewarding gameplay, the third was plagued by serious technical issues at launch, addressed later by official and unofficial patches. Despite featuring a game world almost as big and twice as mature as Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Gothic 3 never really achieved the popularity it could have. Now Piranha Bytes are back to make up for their last game with Risen, a brand new RPG that’s very much Gothic 4 in spirit and then some. If you’re one of those people who were somewhat disappointed by the accessible nature of recent big name RPGs, you’ll find a lot to like here. [singlepic id=1544 w=450 float=center]
Before I get into the nitty-gritties of FIFA 10, it’s necessary to mention the uphill task that it faces to live up to the standards set by FIFA 09, a game that redefined football games in a way not seen since Pro Evolution Soccer 3 close to a decade ago. We thought we knew what a football simulation was until FIFA 09 shattered those perceptions with realism that was miles ahead of any other football game ever made. Unfortunately, FIFA 09 casts such a gigantic shadow that only occasionally does FIFA 10 manage to step out from under it and shine for itself. [singlepic id=1294 w=450 float=center]
Riddle me this: What do you get when you put a hot girl wielding a sword, a pair of guns, and acrobatic shooting in a mixer and hit the switch? A sure shot recipe for success? Well, not quite. You get the Artifical Mind and Movement’s ticket into current-gen gaming – WET. Another abandoned child from the Activision-Blizzard marriage, the game happens to be the studio’s first foray into HD gaming, and it shows. Having primarily developed games for the Nintendo DS, PS2, Wii and the PSP before this, the studio hasn’t exactly come out with graphics to write home about. The textures are bland with a low level of detail, and the whole game, which predominantly jumps between London and Hong Kong, with some Texas thrown in for good measure, looks washed out with brown and grey. [singlepic id=1529 w=450 float=center]
There have been many superhero games focused on single iconic characters, but no game has managed to capture the breadth and scope of 2006’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance from Activision and Raven Software. The game itself was a broader take on the X-Men Legends games that came before it, offering more characters from the entire Marvel universe than just those from the X-Men series. If the prospect of choosing from a truckload of famous (and some not-so-famous) heroes and villains from the Marvel universe wasn’t enough to make comic book and video game enthusiasts salivate, there was the surprisingly addictive Diablo-like top down action-RPG style gameplay which offered countless hours of nerdgasmic fun. Now Activision is back with a sequel, only this time it’s done by Vicarious Visions, the team behind the Wii and PSP versions of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. [singlepic id=1525 w=450 float=center] Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 sticks very close (and perhaps too close) to its predecessor’s tried and tested formula. For most part, it succeeds. However there are still some loose ends and some questionable changes, which make it look like a step back for the franchise. With majority of the gameplay being all too similar to the previous…
SNK’s King of Fighters (KOF) franchise has been around for an astounding decade and a half, and with a loyal fan-following almost rivalling that of Street Fighter, the latest iteration of the long running fighting series has been anticipated for years as the rebirth of the series, which would finally place it firmly atop the podium. But does King of Fighters XII stay true to the franchise known for its massive character roster and over the top team fighting action? [singlepic id=1507 w=450 float=center]
Looking back upon the Halo trilogy, I have come to realise that the whole series is about moments. Yes, there is the wide open level design, the superb combat balance, the brilliant AI, the space opera storyline and kick ass multiplayer mode too. But what really stands out over the past 8 years of Halo are the moments which stay with you long after you have played the game. Some of them are designed set pieces (the beach landing in The Silent cartographer) while others are of your own making (“accidentally” sticking your co op buddy with a plasma grenade when he is making a run for the Scorpion Tank). The point I am trying to make with this trip down memory lane is that what makes Halo 3: ODST great is that it’s like a highlight reel of the past 3 Halo games. [singlepic id=1499 w=450 float=center]
Mario Andretti famously said, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough”. Few racing games have managed to nail that sensation of being on the edge of control at top speed the way Need for Speed: Shift does. Sure, this has more to do with visual effects and camera animations than the way the cars themselves behave, but the first time you near a hairpin after a long straight at 250 kmph, you will genuinely fear the consequences of being even a fraction late getting on the brakes. And when you perfectly negotiate that corner despite this fear looming large, the feeling of accomplishment is brilliant. Need for Speed: Shift then, makes a great first impression. The question is, though, is it a lasting impression? [singlepic id=1490 w=450 float=center]
The pinnacle of story-telling in video games, as complete a single-player experience as you can ask for, and without a doubt, one of the greatest games ever made.