Wednesday, November 24, 2010

James Bond 007: Blood Stone

In sort of a strange turn of events, Bizarre Creations, best known for their work with racing titles like Blur, and the Project Gotham series, gets picked up by Activision, who has the license to kill for the James Bond franchise and sets out to create the next game in the legendary series.  Will this one be as good as Goldeneye from days of yore (circa 1997), that happened to also get a Daniel Craig face-lift (sorry Pierce), and re-released on the Wii the same day as it's newer brethren?

If you play it, like me, you'll find a lot to love here.
Daniel Craig in full polygonal action!

We haven't had a Bond movie since Quantum of Solace released in theaters for over 2 years now, so those that are in need of the hero really need to look no further than the latest game, Blood Stone.  While the story doesn't pick up after Quantum, it does star the likeness (and voices) of Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and Joss Stone as the obligatory female lead, this IS a Bond story after all, so it definitely feels like the natural next entry into the series.  I also love the feeling of the added soundtrack that really puts you in the shoes of Your Majesty's Top-Secret Agent.
It's not James Bond without a pretty lady in tow

You begin the game, as the G-20 Summit is about to begin in Greece (eery timing), and you have to interrupt an attack on the meeting, that leads into a full-on boat chase through the channels.  From here, you're paired with your "partner", a socialite/fashion designer, Nicole Hunter, who you can bet will be the object of Bond's desire, if he so chooses.  She will facilitate the next few missions of yours, and plays a role throughout the rest of the game.  As you chase down your target, a man named Pomerov, you'll globe trot and hop from Athens, to Istanbul, Monaco, Bangkok, and Siberia.  Lastly, you'll end up in Burma, navigating the dense jungle, leading up to a pretty epic showcase of a finale.
Drive fast and see lots of explosions.  Oh Bond

Gameplay is in the third-person, and borrows from the latest in "bullet-point" features.  A cover system is integrated well.  There's even a Splinter Cell: Conviction-like "Mark and Execute" feature, that works more in real-time, rather than setting the mark, and executing it, and letting the pre-set marks go down.  As you take out enemies in hand-to-hand combat, you earn "focus aim" that you can use to basically auto-lock onto an enemy, and provided they're in your line of sight, no matter what weapon you're wielding, Bond always gets his man.  You can queue up to three, and string them together to make quick work of a room before anyone really knows you're there.

The action isn't limited to the sneaking variety either, oh no, there was more than a few times where the enemies in an area just kept coming.  The AI leaves a little to be desired, as you could just duck behind a strategically placed wall, and take them out one at a time.  I was sorta hoping they would try to flank me from time to time, but that didn't happen.  Overall, In usual Bond fashion, there's a lot of action here, and the franchise was ripe for Bizarre Creations to add their own signature to the legacy - great car (vehicle) chases.

Multiplayer is here, and if that's your thing, you'll find the standard fare.  With Activision's other release already taking place - I don't think there will be anyone playing the Bond variety, when they can get their Call of Duty on.

All in all, gives James Bond 007: Blood Stone an 8 out of 10.  Clocking in around 8-10 hours, and filled with hallmark Bond moments, fans of the franchise will find this one worth checking out.  Or those of you who just like to avoid the popular things in life.

SBK X | Review

Synopsis: Moto enthusiasts prepare to rejoice for the two wheel super bike racing sim, SBK X. Southpeak games has provided me with a review copy of their new racer boasting a number of new features and changes from their previous entry to make it the go to game for street bike racing fans. With multiple game modes like simulation, arcade, and online multiplayer, there is multiple ways to play through this fast paced racer depending on your liking. Players are able to make their own personal racer and choose their racing team to work their way up the ranks against 90 current racers and legends. Here is my review of the time spent with all the licensed bikes, riders, and tracks, enjoy.

Praise: How often is it that you hear unforgiving as a good thing? Being that you are on two wheels with a motor between your legs capable of sending a rider faster than they can ever dream, it is the closest you will come without the road rash. Simulator felt as technical as other racing sims out there, making sure that you can’t rely on bumping into other racers to move up to 1st place. The feeling of speed is well portrayed in SBK and starting by selecting your team and tuning your bike kept me coming back to try and make more money while having the fastest bike out there. Arcade gameplay is a LOT more forgiving if you are looking for a “sim lite” feel, putting you in the middle of races having to achieve specific goals mid race. Multiple races classes from Superbike to Superstock to Supersport give each class a unique feel and sense of accomplishment. Crashes and bike damage is beautiful and realistic, until you find yourself fighting to get back into position.

Gripes: The graphics of the tracks and environments are mediocre at best, while the bikes and racers look good, it just seems like there wasn’t the same polish put into the tracks. Being a huge fan of both the Forza and Gran Turismo series’ I was expecting more from the simulation mode, but found it to take a while to get the hang of how the bikes control before being able to place in the higher ranks and not crashing multiple times a race, by the way, the brakes are your friend in this one. Tuning, if you choose to tune your bike manually is a love hate relationship, while I am familiar with tuning of cars, I felt extremely out of my element trying to manually tune bikes, luckily I was able to trust my mechanic and his suggestions pre-race.

Overall, SBK X is a motorcycle racing enthusiast’s dream, as it puts you in the shoes of a new racer and shows the player what it is like to start as a rookie and work their way up the ranks without dumbing it down to make it easy. Patience is necessary with this title like numerous other racing sims, to get used to the bike and tracks, before trying to place first in every race. I enjoyed playing SBK X, both arcade and simulation, unfortunately I was unable to locate any matches online, but this will definitely not be put aside after having purchased Gran Turismo 5. gives SBK X a 8 out of 10.

SBK X is available now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sonic Colors | Review

Synopsis: The blue blur is back in Sonic Colors, and what do you know, Sega has sent us a review copy of the Wii version to get a review out to our Sonic the Hedgehog fans and Nintendo gamers alike. Sonic Colors is exclusive to the Wii and DS unlike Sonic 4, which is available on any handheld or console you may have. The premise this time around is that Dr. Eggman has erected an amusement park and Sonic and Tails decide to check it out knowing Eggman’s devious nature. Low and behold that troublesome villain is holding wisps captive for their energy and it is Sonic’s duty to thwart the madman and use the wisp’s energy to do so. So how will Sonic fare this time around?

Praise: Do you remember Sonic Adventures, well this feels a lot like that but much faster with amazingly fast gameplay. The environments are a blast to play and many times I had to go back and play them a second time just to see things I may have missed the first time. The story is something you would find in any typical Saturday morning cartoon, but I miss Saturday morning cartoons with their simple humor and conflicts. Though this game does have a 3D look and feel, it does not have full 3D gameplay, which I prefer with the sonic titles, it is still more of a 2.5D platformer. The addition of the wisps to the gameplay help to complete levels, and once acquired, you can go back to previous levels and use the wisps abilities to help find unlockables and create a different experience after the first level playthrough depending on the colored wisp’s ability.

Gripes: Who needs instruction manuals?!?! You will for this one as when you start, there is no tutorial, you are just thrown into the action and there is more buttons that they old school jump and spin boost you’re used to. On top of the typical jump and spin, you now have slide and a button for the wisp’s ability and I actually found gameplay easier with the remote and nunchuk over the classic remote. The controls are also not so forgiving as previous games being that you can double jump and if an enemy is targeted, you can hit jump and Sonic will take out that nearby baddy. Well the issue lies within the double jump and targeting because if you are trying to double jump on a platform and there is a targeted enemy nearby, then you will have to change your plan of action on the fly.

Overall, this is a classic Sonic game through and through, like a mashup of all the Sonic title with the addition of wisps and a deliberate exclusion of werehog, thankfully. Fans of the iconic blue hedgehog will enjoy this bright multidimensional platformer, while those unfamiliar to Sonic’s roots will enjoy this for the well put together beautiful game that it is. Thanks Sega for giving me a reason to put Hot Pursuit down to go just as fast with the blue rodent that I grew up to. gives Sonic Colors an 8 out of 10.

Sonic Colors is available now for the Nintendo Wii and DS.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gameplay footage revealed for upcoming DiRT 3

Codemasters has released their first Q & A dev diary for the upcoming rally racer DiRT 3. From the looks of it, the developers are putting even more into this racing title from environments to cars in their attempt to create an even better experience from DiRT 2, which I am still a huge fan of. Check out the video below to see what to expect.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goldeneye 007 | Review

Synopsis: The original multiplayer FPS is back, with Goldeneye 007 exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. Though it may not be developed by Rare, the makers of the original entry, however, it is released by a little company that knows a little something about multiplayer games, Activision. This Goldeneye however features a new Bond, Daniel Craig, and while it does feature the old couch competitive multiplayer, it will now include online multiplayer…Thank you!!! As far as the numbers go, here is the breakdown, deep breath…4 player split screen multiplayer, 50 total characters, 8 of which are classic Bonds, 10 maps, 3 standard modes, and 17 special modifiers, which equals hundreds of game combinations.

Praise: It’s Goldeneye, though I wish I could say I’m not a fan of recycled titles and franchises, but Nintendo has yet to disappoint. This is the Goldeneye you remember playing for hours with friends, in which, it has the similar look and gameplay to the original, it even has the same writer as the original movie, Bruce Feirstein. New to this title is online multiplayer, which I feel is where the replay value is at, as it is quick to find matches, has a large community playing, and uses many of the online FPS elements seen in the Call of Duty multiplayer that makes it more engaging. I played through this with the classic remote as I try to shy away from the motion controls and it handled very smoothly, I even consistently played better online with this over Call of Duty, which for those that have played online with me know that I suck.

Gripes: It has to be some sort of sacrilege to put the voice and characteristics of Daniel Craig as Bond in Golden Eye as Pierce Brosnan was the Bond of Goldeneye, but hey I may be the only one that feels this way about the decision. Though it does play really smoothly and is a fun shooter, but it feel that the storyline behind this title was a little flat and didn’t really stand out as anything memorable aside from a tutorial to the multiplayer gameplay. Also, one thing in which I wish was in this title that was in the N64 versions is the multiplayer gameplay where you have to race for you gun as opposed to starting with your choice load out.

Overall, as a huge fan of Goldeneye on the N64, I feel that this is a sufficient remake for the current gen console. Those new to the series may not appreciate this as much as other FPS shooters out there but the die hards should find this to be the go to shooter for the Wii. As far as replay value is concerned, I see this being my go to shooter for multiplayer action whether it is 4 player split screen or online multiplayer, this is something us older gaming generation needed to take us back to our high school years. gives Goldeneye 007 an 8 out of 10.

Goldeneye 007 is available now for the Nintendo Wii.

Call of Duty: Black Ops | Review

Synopsis: It is that time of year again when Activision throws out their newest release for their highest selling franchise title to see how many records they can break with their newest entry to Call of Duty. Guess what, looks like they did it again with Black Ops, but how does this title compare to the previous entries? In Black Ops, you will once again go behind enemy lines, however, this time you play as a member of a Special Forces unit, engaging in covert and classified missions. Like the others before it, this release includes the cinematic single player, the always popular multiplayer with RPG elements including new wager abilities, and the returning zombies gameplay mode. Time to go back to the Cold War and see if Black Ops can hold a torch to Modern Warfare in the seventh Call of Duty entry.

Praise: Where do you start reviewing a game that has repeatedly been great for any fan of the FPS genre? This is the seventh entry to the Call of Duty series and what can I say aside from WOW? The graphics and sounds of battle are amazing, making you feel like you are the lead in an exciting war flick full of explosions, close calls, and nonstop action. Aside from the visuals, the gameplay is fast, smooth, and practically flawless. The multiplayer is the same as the previous titles, but with new kills streaks and maps to keep it fresh, and weapons, while not perfect, few games come close in providing a comparable experience. Zombies, I have nothing bad to say about that, though it isn’t a new feature, it is always fun to work cooperatively to keep the zombies away from your brains by blowing the crap out of them.

Gripes: The story feels more like a movie than being in battle, especially when you hear Fortunate Sun playing as helicopters are raining fire on villages and enemies as you work your way to the next objective. Though the cinematic experience provides that high production value but what I liked about the previous entries was that it felt like a gritty against all odds experience and not a Michael Bay movie. The online is great, but the majority of matches, Team Deathmatch being my flavor of choice, do not use much if any teamwork. The reason for this is that a lot don’t use headsets, for probably good reason at that due to the unsportsman like audience you are likely to find in most matches whether it be a 10 year old prepubescent child screaming obscenities or the middle age gamer rapping nonsense into the mic. It still takes a number of matches to unlike character customization and perks so your kill/death ratios may be less than you like until you level up.

Overall, Black Ops is just what you would expect from a Call of Duty title, a strong FPS full of action, online with a huge community, and replay value out the wazoo. Though most of my issues come from the online side of the game, it still provides a dominant online experience you aren’t likely to find in any other recent shooters out there. This is almost the same experience we have grown to expect from the franchise but like the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, there is no reason to fix it, so if you’re a fan of the series or genre, you will not be disappointed. gives Call of Duty: Black Ops a 9 out of 10.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is available now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii and the DS.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Get Nail'd and get free DLC token

That is right, this just in from those wild and crazy peeps over at SouthPeak,if you purchase a new copy of Nail'd in the states, you will also receive a token for a free content pack. What is in the content pack you say? Well, you can expect to find four new tracks, vehicle paint jobs, parts for both mikes and ATV's, and rider suits. Also, you will see a new tournament called the Bomb Cup that will have five new campaign events.

New epic mickey trailer shows off the epic environment.

The friendly folks at Disney Interactive sent over a five minute featurette showing off the Disneyland-scape behind Epic Mickey. With these featurettes, I have learned that they can be hit or miss, but with this, it surely was interesting to see the development team take as much as they can from the park and put their own dark little twist on it. November 20th cannot come soon enough for this release.

Monday, November 8, 2010

EA MMA | Review

Synopsis: Fight fans, here is a little review for you as EA Sports has provided us with a copy of EA MMA to let out some of that testosterone in the ring without the pain and swelling. In this title you can create your own character and climb the ranks to become the title holder of the worldwide circuit. You will travel the world to learn a variety of techniques and special moves to work your way up the ranks and train to perfect the basics, ultimately making you a force to be reckoned with. EA Sports has also put a lot of work into the online side of this game giving the player the ability to set up fight cards, broadcast live matches, and fight as either your created character or your favorite MMA fighter. Let’s get on with the review, will you submit or dominate the competition?

Praise: After the most recent Fight Night title was released, I have fallen in love with the twin stick fighting style, well that same fighting style is in MMA, however, depending on the modifier buttons used, you can take down, grab, kick, and deliver some match ending moves on your way to the title bout. You can develop your fighter however you see fit, from weight class to fighting style, I was granted full control as to the type of champion I wanted to be. The graphics are amazing and with the lights and atmosphere of the bigger bouts, it is pretty awe inspiring. Fights for the most part are pretty quick and extremely gratifying when you win, especially when you are getting worked, you deliver that one blow to take the opponent by surprise and depending how you handle yourself from there it can be over quickly, the downside is that it goes both ways.

Gripes: First and so very foremost is the online community. This title came out less than a month ago and I have yet to see more than one hundred people playing at any given time, but it is usually less than fifty people playing. While the online gameplay is fun when you can find a match, but when a title that gets its replay value from playing online doesn't have many people playing and you are continuously getting beat by the same people, it isn't as much fun. Building your character, while mostly fun has its downside as you allot your time out of the ring training, but after doing each training exercise you can have it simulate training, which means constantly being smacked into submission with load screens. The roster is also something that I was less than impressed with as I am semi familiar with the MMA fighters, more so with the Thq title’s roster but barely able to recognize a handful of those appearing in EA MMA.

Overall, if you are a fighting fan and online gameplay is not important to you then EA MMA might just be the game for you. Being that you are able to create multiple fighters there is a lot of replay value to keep you coming back for more. However, if you are interested in this game to play online against the Xbox community then you may want to pass as you will spend a lot of time looking for matches and even longer trying to find matches against people you have fought yet. gives EA MMA a 7 out of 10.

EA MMA is available now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii.

Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage | Review

Synopsis: Fans of the anime series, Fist of the North Star, have a reason to rejoice with the release of Ken’s Rage, a new beat em up from Koei. You play through the game as Ken and have the ability to play as other unlockable survivors through progression, each with their own special moves and techniques. With a number of special and standard moves along with a destructible environment makes for almost limitless ways to take out dozens of the vicious gang members that inhabit the resource pillaged wastelands. With the visuals reproduced from the comic series, all the levels provide an accurate representation of the world. Let the button mashing begin for the review of not Dynasty Warriors.

Praise: I have not followed the anime and actually found out about it after telling someone I was reviewing this title. But like the intro states this is made by Koei and is NOT a Dynasty Warriors game, it didn’t even feel like one, even when fighting a screen full of baddies. The graphics are amazing and the move lists are plentiful, meaning less button mashing and more strategic planning of moves. It has a strong story element and makes more sense that it is following an anime series, but the gameplay feels more like you are playing a solid IP. Ken's Rage is rated M, and for good reason, as when you strike and kill your opponent, there will be blood and lots of it.

Gripes: How many of our loyal readers remember the movie, Hook, well it almost seems like an Easter egg that Ken's face resembles Rufio, of the lost boys, so strongly. The voice acting is also not something to write home about but with the exception of a few characters, helps move the story along throughout gameplay. Camera control, yes I have to bring it up as I felt like I was fighting with the camera about as much as I was fighting wasteland riff raff. Also, for a game that focuses on action, the moves are executed slower than you would see in other current beat em ups, this isn't a huge issue, but will take some time to slow down your move inputs.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Fist of the North Star, possibly because I was expecting it to play like other previous beat em ups from the same developer. There is a lot of replay value behind Ken's Rage, as you will be able to go back and experience the other playable characters' rage as well and experiencing the story through their point of view. gives Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage a 8 out of 10.

Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage is available now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vanquish | Review

October is an unforgiving month.  With all of the AAA games coming out in its window, it's a shame a title like Vanquish gets thrown in the mix to fend for itself amongst the Fables and the upcoming Call of Duty's, etc.  Vanquish, the Platinum Games developed (and Sega published) title, isn't by any means a AAA title, it does have some pretty redeeming value to it.

Developed by Shinji Mikami, most notable for his hand in creating the Resident Evil series, Vanquish takes a turn from the horror past, and shoots an adrenaline-filled syringe right onto your screen.  Where story, and dialog lack, action, graphics and speed makeup for.  When I mention story, there is one, but it's skippable at best.  It's (of course) the near future, and there's been an attack on the US by a Russian coup.  Rather than giving into their demands, the President of the US, calls on you, Sam Gideon, who's been equipped with the ARS (Augmented Reaction Suit), or better known as, "an ass-kicking robotic suit of armor".

Played in the Third-Person, Vanquish borrows a bit from a few titles.  Mixing a little Gears of War's cover system, with the over-the-shoulder third-person camera angle of a few others (Lost Planet, Resident Evil 4, etc), but then adds speed of a Devil May Cry (or more appropriately, Bayonetta).   And it's this gameplay where the title shines (or causes epilepsy, it's a fine line), as you slide from cover to cover, shooting with various normal and unique weapons, and even adds some melee, all while keeping a smooth frame-rate.  That's the impressive part.  As you'll encounter waves of enemies, and Boss battles, that have so much going on screen, it's a wonder our Xbox didn't melt.

We've been hearing that play time is "under 4 hours", but in reality, most gamers will take beween 6-10 hours depending on their gaming experience and difficulty, fitting in with the length of most of these games nowadays. gives Sega's Vanquish a 7 out of 10, and is available now for Xbox 360,  and PlayStation 3

Editors Note: A copy of this title was sent to us by the publisher for our editorial consideration

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rock Band 3 | Review

Synopsis: It is that time again, that time of the year where the big music games step it up and release their titles at once to see which one really has the bragging rights. With Rock Band 3, comes a huge 83 song set list along with supporting the existing library of over 1500 songs while still adding songs weekly. There is also a redesigned music library with this third entry that allows the user to make and save set lists along with sorting music you like or dislike making management of your music library much more painless. New instruments were also introduced to the game, with the pro guitar and pro drums to provide a more accurate music experience and last but not least is the pitch accurate keyboard to provide that variety of instruments that up to seven players can enjoy.

Praise: The sound quality is amazing, with the amount of clarity and how the added emphasis on the sound of your instrument is not overwhelming. The cut scenes and background while you are rocking out is great, with more realistic looking characters to choose from along with the vibrant stage effects. Since there is only really two dominant games in this genre, finding people to play with is fast with very few people rage quitting while also being lucky enough to not experience lag in any of the matches played. The track list is absolutely amazing, there were few songs that I didn't know and about the same amount of songs that I didn't really care for.

Gripes: My first issue with Rock Band 3's gameplay is with the difficulty as I stick to the medium difficulty as trying to get used to the fifth (orange) button is something I have problems getting the hang of, but in this title if you pick medium, you have to use all of the buttons. The only other issue I had with this this game was hitting note streaks as it seems that you have to more accurately hit the notes as opposed to the Guitar Hero titles, recalibrating the TV did help, but still seemed rather overly sensitive as to when notes are considered successfully hit.

Overall, my experience with Rock Band was very satisfying, especially when everyone in the family was able to play together. When it was just myself I think it may have even been faster than playing with a houseful, mainly because of setting up instruments and having to agree on a song to play. My review was done using the Guitar Hero instruments, so the drums, guitar, and microphone worked with this game. gives Rock Band 3 an 9 out of 10.

Rock Band 3 is available now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS.