Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Synopsis: Just in time for the snowboarding season, Destineer sent me a review copy of their recent title Stoked: Big Air Edition, so here comes your fresh powder carving extreme sport review. Big Air Edition brings the player back to the original Stoked foundation but add two new mountains, Laax and K2, totaling seven available locations to drop into and master. Other new features from the original entry are races, marked trails to find the eight available runs on each mountain, park objects to trick off of, smoother and faster animation, new pros, and lastly, improved visuals. The player is able to customize their character with new gear from over 30 different brands, including 2009 and 2010 styles from brands such as Burton and Volcom.
Praise: Stoked: Big Air Edition has a lot to offer, from races, to the challenges, and the sponsors, it would take a lot of time to dominate all that is available. Unlocking sponsors, equipment, clothing, mountains, and events come from influence points earned by completing trick challenges and races against the pros. The uniqueness of the controls are different from previous snowboarding titles, where the left stick controls the player and the right stick makes you jump and perform tricks, while the left and right triggers are grab trick modifiers. Character customization felt rather limited at first but after gaining some sponsors and completing media events, I was able to unlock gear opening up customization options for my character. The tutorial was also extremely helpful to help me understand the unfamiliar controls and how to enjoy the game.
Gripes: I noticed myself getting frustrated trying to get the hang of the new controls but after a couple hours with the title I started to get the hang of the tricks and physics. Some of the challenges were not so forgiving and found myself restarting numerous times to try and pull off the listed tricks or beat the necessary score. For trick challenges I often had to pull up the PDA interface to go to the trick list to see how to execute the necessary trick or tricks needed to get the influence points. The photo op events are a neat feature, but I was not a big fan of the camera placement, and think this could have been a great addition to the title if you can see where the camera was placed or have the ability to move the camera.
Overall, as a fan of the unrealistic SSX series, and disliking the more realistic Amped series, I found that Stoked: Big Air Edition was rather entertaining. Unfortunately, I did not play the original Stoked title, so I cannot determine whether Big Air Edition feels like it could have been a paid DLC or if there is enough new places and features to make it feel like a whole new title. The $39.99 price tag is great compared to typical $59.99 for new titles, and the amount of content offered gives the player enough locations to appreciate and events to conquer for longer than other similar titles in the genre.
Mashbuttons.com gives Stoked: Big Air Edition an 8 out of 10.
Stoked: Big Air Edition is available now for the Xbox 360.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Synopsis: Our good friends at EA gave us of a review copy of the new WWII sandbox title, The Saboteur, for the Xbox 360 and after much distractions of blowing up Nazi stuff; I have got one for you. The main character, Sean Devlin, is an Irish race car driving mechanic for an Italian racing team, who has a vendetta against the Nazis occupying France when a spiral of events occur after a cheating Nazi takes him out of a race. Sean uses the French Resistance, British Intelligence, along with an arsenal of weapons and disguises to sabotage the Third Reich in open world Paris. Throughout the course of the story, gameplay comes in the forms of stealth elements, wall scaling, third person shooting, and racing.
Praise: There was a lot to this title that I had a great time with. The location, story, and gameplay work very well and it is unfortunate that this was Pandemic Studio’s final title. Like other sandbox titles, the action and controls are similar to other titles in the genre. The feature that helps this stand out from the rest are the stealth elements and the ability to disguise yourself as a Nazi to infiltrate compounds and blow them to pieces. The ability to climb buildings, whether it is to evade alerted Nazis or to get a vantage point on your next target, is a strong feature that is both fun and extremely useful to complete missions and explore new locations. Vehicles that are “acquired” can been stored in numerous garages for later use, and black market dealers through Paris can replenish your arsenal when you die or run out of ammunition. The “Will to Fight” system is probably the most unique feature I have seen in a title lately. When you start playing through the story, the colors of the city is primarily black and white, these colors are a symbol of hope for the French people, and as you complete missions, color comes back to the city, and in turn the people will also launch an underground resistance and come to your aid when needed.
Gripes: Though there was a lot in which I enjoyed, there were also noticeable issues throughout the story and gameplay. Even though sandbox titles are known for their lack of or miminal load screens, in The Saboteur, the player encounters a loading screen every time they open a door, though the load times are not long, it does get tiresome quickly. The voice acting does not really fit the characters as they sound a little over the top and portray the Irish, French, and German stereotypes through the sometimes painful to listen to accents. I experienced glitches throughout this title sporadically, such as having a vehicles spawn out of nowhere on top of me and the most common incident of having my car get stuck on railroad tracks.
Overall, there was a lot of fun to be had playing through The Saboteur. The story does not get old too quickly, however the French accents do, but there is plenty to do to keep one busy with a good sandbox game for a long time. Often times, I would throw in the game to play through the story, but found myself just blowing up Nazi vehicles, towers, and refueling stations in creative and satisfying ways. The soundtrack, cars, and weapons all fit the WWII era very well and the “Will to Fight” system looks great and plays a large roll on the mood of the game throughout the areas of Paris. Last but not least, there are cabarets.
Mashbuttons.com gives The Saboteur a 8 out of 10.
The Saboteur is available now for the Xbox 360, PC, and the Playstation 3.
Synopsis: Konami recently sent us a review copy of their newest action adventure horror title, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. This is the first time the Silent Hill franchise has made an appearance on the Wii and the developers have successfully worked to increase the fear aspect of the franchise by using the Wii remote as a flashlight and cell phone to unlock key story elements. Shattered Memories follows the main character, Harry Mason, who is trying to solve the mystery of his missing daughter throughout the city of Silent Hill. Choices in which the player makes throughout the story shape how the character interacts with characters, objects, and places.
Praise: This title was put together very nicely and the soundtrack, psychological tests, messages, and the flashlight controls make it one of the scariest games I have played in a while. I must admit when I started the game and went through the psych test, I did not realize the input in which it had on what I would encounter, but after having to do multiple tests through the story, I put a lot more thought into my answers and would even go back to my previous save point to see what would change from answering differently. The graphics are crisp and dark, mixed with the soundtrack that gets more intense when you are about to encounter a voice mail and the dimming and flickering of my flashlight, actually had me holding my breath waiting for something to pop out, and that is what makes it as scary as it is. The story is great and I do not want to spoil anything but does move forward nicely making you want to keep playing and with the different outcomes on my interactions, had me immediately go back for more punishment.
Gripes: The title was rather short taking me about six to seven hours to complete. The controls also got incredibly frustrating at times when it came to trying to knock baddies off of me and maneuvering the flashlight and movement, controls were overly sensitive and headache inducing at times. Lastly, the camera is just plain bad, mainly when you are being chased and trying to run to the next highlighted ledge or door to get away, as the placement makes it very difficult to locate where it is you need to go.
Overall, even though the game was short, it was scary and had strong replay value. Despite the issues I had with the control and camera, the soundtrack adds to the fear element and the shock value when you encounter really intense story elements. Along with the intention to scare the player, this title has made me think about my actions more than anything I have played in a while.
Mashbuttons.com gives Silent Hill: Shattered Memories an 7 out of 10.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is available now for the Nintendo Wii.
Valve has announced that the first DLC pack for Left 4 Dead 2 will be released in early 2010 and will be called "The Passing".The pack will bring the original Left 4 Dead survivors to the south to meet the new cast and will include new single player, multiplayer, and co-op gameplay on Xbox 360 and PC."The Passing" will take place after the Dead Center campaign, in rural Georgia as the new survivors meet the original cast.A new zombie class, melee weapon, and firearm will also be included in the DLC pack.
SouthPeak Games has announced that the sequel to the 2007 horror title for the Nintendo DS, Dementium II, will hit store shelves in the states on February 16th, 2010. The unlucky fans of the series that are in Europe will not see this title in stores until March 5th, 2010.Dementium II will push the horror experience further by melding puzzles and FPS action with a story and ambiance to give the player nightmares. New features to this sequel consist of all new weapons, dual wielding items, interface, save system, and environments never thought possible.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
We're not aware of any bad blood, sour grapes or anything else that might affect our overall experience when we get to play the game, in fact, according to Bethesda, the ongoing development of the title is unchanged, and the show will...go on.
We're certainly fine with this news, and we'd be happy to see a game worthy of Bethesda's pedigree again.
RAGE is all the rage
Monday, December 14, 2009
Square Enix and Pop-Cap; both well respected names, and immediately recognizable for sheer brilliance in their respective genres; have teamed up to delivery one hell of a jewel-twisting game. Taken as two parts of a greater whole, the puzzle and RPG elements of the title are nothing new. You twist groups of 4 jewels, rotating them to match at least 3 jewels of the same color to eliminate them from the board. You twist enough, and your "attacks" queue up, and upon the "enemy" they are unleashed. Defeat your enemy and in classic RPG fashion, you get an XP screen, showing you how you achieved your total XP. You navigate a map, almost like a board game, along the way, running into beasts (random battles) and taking them out as you explore.
Each of these boards, has a defining goal, and you must make your way towards it, battling baddies along the way. There are also "side-missions", whereas you can defeat mini-bosses to eliminate a group of enemies on the board so that you can maneuver easier to attain all of the side-missions.
There's one more element that goes into the challenge here. You start off with a few of your own beasts. Elemental-based "characters" that level-up with you and based on their abilities, have strengths and weaknesses towards certain enemies. As you progress through each level, you earn the ability to unlock the full roster of cards. Knowing what's ahead will allow you to plan accordingly to what beasts you need to have in your own roster.
All in all, the Square-Enix/PopCap mashup works here, and provides a ton of quick access gameplay, and a unique twist on a jewel-based genre that has more imitators than innovators.
Mashbuttons gives Gyromancer a 9.0 out of 10.
*Editors Note: Mashbuttons did receive a review-copy of this title from the publisher. No reviews were harmed in the writing of this review.
Synopsis: Bethesda sent us a review copy of their newest FPS, Rogue Warrior, and after playing through the entire campaign, I have a review for all you devoted readers. You play as Richard Marcinko, the founder of the SEAL Team 6, whose history of defiant and ruthless behavior has earned him a place in history after his operation to go behind enemy lines and stop a North Korean missile program around the time of the Cold War. The ability to brutally kill the opposition before being detected is a key element in carrying out the operation, while providing 25 unique kill moves. Head to head and cooperative gameplay are just a few of the 10 available online gameplay modes, that allows up to three additional players to enter and leave missions without taking the host back to the menu.
Praise: Some of the most enjoyable features in this title are the stealth and cover elements as starting the level if you plan your movements right, you can sneak your way through and rack up some visually pleasing brutal kills. Mickey Rourke’s voice for the main character was a great fit added to the over the top scripting and plethora of expletives were amusing and never got old or repetitive throughout the story. The large level maps and environments were fun to explore and provide numerous ways to strategically take out the oppositions without just running into a firefight with guns blazing.
Gripes: The gameplay seemed generic, without providing much in the way of innovation over the number of other FPS titles that have been recently released. The length of the story was also disappointing as it took just short of four hours to complete the entire single player campaign. A few attempts were made to get some hands on time with multiplayer game modes, but seemed like the lack of people playing this title online prevented this from happening. Lastly, I noticed myself getting frustrated when aiming down the barrel at an enemy whether it was with handgun, assault rifle, or sniper rifle and having the enemy in my crosshairs, but yet not being able to hit a stationary target with the first couple shots at times.
Overall, Rogue Warrior is not a bad game; while being entertaining at times, but mediocre for the most part. The voice acting and witty lines give a strong feeling of the character’s personality, and knowing this is based on a real person that went through the operation you encounter, make you realize what this soldier went through. However, the short length is essentially where I felt the most let down from the experience.
Mashbuttons.com gives Rogue Warrior a 5 out of 10.
Rogue Warrior is available now for the Xbox 360, PC, and the Playstation 3.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The open world sandbox title, The Saboteur, launches today, and those console owners looking to check this title out, get a free DLC pack called 'The Midnight Show'. The content pack unlocks a V.I.P. room in the cabaret, sultry cinematics, a minigame, five seedy hiding spots in Paris,and last but not least the ability to unlock nudity.
SouthPeak has recently announced that the first thousand people to pre order the survivor horror sequel for the Nintendo DS from Renegade Kid and send in a copy of their receipt to DementiumII@southpeakgames.com will win a Dementium II poster signed by the game's creators. The only restrictions for the offer would be that the title would have to be pre ordered from an authorized retailer, scan or take a picture of the receipt, and send to the above email address. This offer is only available to US and Canada residents and limited to one per household. Dementium II is scheduled for release in February of 2010.
Monday, December 7, 2009
It’s been officially unveiled today, EA announced the sequel to 2008’s hit Dead Space that will continue the adventures of protagonist Issac Clarke in his battle against the Necromorphs. This is not altogether surprising considering the first title was welcomed among critics with very wide and open arms (still sits at an 89 average on Metacritic).
Helmed once again by Visceral Games (Dead Space, Dante’s Inferno), Dead Space has all the makings of a true stellar sequel, but with no launch window, I cannot, in good faith, tell you when you can enjoy such an experience.
So this sets upon me a task. I’ve put off going back and playing the first Dead Space because my roommate at the time blasted through it and traded it in before I had a chance to play. I vowed that once a window opened up I would pick it up used, or on the cheap. Well that window just suddenly became agape! Best Buy has the title for both PS3 and Xbox this week for only $14.99 if you can believe it. That coupled with today’s announcement has sealed the proverbial deal, and I’ll be heading up to pick up a copy after work today.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The day before baby Jesus himself was born sounds like a great day to release the demo for a game about hell sounds like the perfect time, right? EA has announced that Dante's Inferno, Gates of Hell, demo will be available on December 10th for the Playstation 3 and December 24th for the Xbox 360.
The demo is to be a prelude to the journey players will get on February 9th, 2010. In the demo, Dante's returns home to Florence to dustcover that his love, Beatrice, has been murdered and kidnapped by the shadow form of Lucifer. Dante swears to rescue her, journeying through the nine gates of hell to battle the undead, unholy demon bosses, and Death himself.
Valve has announced retail sales numbers for the zombie horde killing sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, and they are not disappointed. Two weeks after the release of the title, two million retail copies of the coop shooter have been sold worldwide, placing it on track to be one of the top selling Xbox and PC games in November. Along with the excitement over sales, Valve has stated that news regarding a DLC pack for the entry will be coming "very soon".
Friday, December 4, 2009
Set 20 years after an earth-changing event, it’s the year 2033, and you are part of a generation, born and raised after the event, underground and have never seen beyond your Metro station. I know what you’re thinking, “post-apocalyptic”, “born underground”, near-future”, this sounds a lot like Fallout 3, but I assure you, of nothing, as we haven’t played it. However, unlike the last few years and the dominating Teen/Vampire theme, I’ll take a poisonous wasteland of turmoil and evil, any day of the week.
Check out the box art and some screens for this upcoming post-apocalyptic shooter. Full screens can be viewed at our Flickr Page
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So I happened to skip the period through the 90’s where Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 were all the rage. I was a huge fan of other Blizzard properties (Starcraft and Warcraft for example), but just never got into Diablo. Though I must be clear; this wasn’t by any fault of the game, I just simply never played it. So when I came across a small “budget” title by the name of Torchlight, I didn’t even realize it was of the same vein, until I did some research, and playing the game itself. I use the term “budget” to describe the price ($19.99) and not the quality behind the game.
Developed by Runic Games, comprised of Travis Baldree, Max Schaefer and Eric Schaefer (no relation to Tim), who were co-founders of Blizzard North, known for the Diablo series. Okay, so the Diablo reference is becoming clearer now. The game pits you as one of three classes, who come upon the town of Torchlight, and you explore the near-by mines (dungeons) searching for loot and leveling up. As mentioned earlier, you begin the game choosing between one of three classes, The Destroyer, the Alchemist, or The Vanquisher; each specializing in melee combat, spells/magic and ranged weapons respectively. I chose the Destroyer, and have been having a blast going dungeon to randomized dungeon amassing spoils and leveling up. This is pure old-school rpg hack-n’-slash action, with a beautiful exterior. Graphics are 3d, with an isometric perspective, allowing you to see a large area of the map. Story is fairly basic for this type of game, and there are plenty of side-missions to keep you busy as well.
Along your side, you choose a pet to accompany your adventures, who’s capable of fighting by your side, and helping you carry more loot (sending your pet back up to the town to sell your loot is ingenious!). You can select a dog or cat, and you can feed him different fish and even outfit him with different items to enhance their support abilities.
Currently the game is only a single-player title, but there’s replay to be had here. There’s a retirement system, similar to a “new game +” option allowing you to pass on an heirloom from your old character to your new character, which definitely is a cool addition. Plus, the whole randomized dungeon aspect keeps things nice and fresh. There is an upcoming MMO that’s still yet a ways off, but will be a “free to play” MMO and having played the single player, I personally look forward to checking that out.
Mashbuttons gives Torchlight a 9.0 out of 10
Torchlight is available now as a digital download here, and on January 5th, 2010 a Windows boxed version will be available.
*editors footnote: Mashbuttons did receive a copy from the publisher for our editorial consideration, however that does not a good score make.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
December, for the most part, is looking like a fairly bleak gaming landscape due to most of the heavy-hitters landing in time for the early holiday sales, and Sam Fischer’s latest got pushed till March, so what sort of sneaking around and killing will you be doing now that you’ve played Modern Warfare 2 for the 13th time? Please direct your attention to Rogue Warrior, the latest to be published from Bethesda Softworks, and developed by Rebellion.
You’ll jump into the role of real-life bad-ass Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko, who was a legend in his service with the Navy Seals (amongst other roles), and infiltrate the iron curtain to uncover a suspected North Korean ballistic missile program. Of course, this wouldn’t be an espionage thriller without a little conspiracy thrown in. So there’s that too…
Check out the few screens, and know now that the game is available now for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.