Tag Archives: 360

Random Game #21 – Golf: Tee It Up! [Xbox Live Arcade]

Golf Tee It Up!

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Now here’s a game I’ve actually played! Albeit, not in a very long time. Back in my achievement hunting days, I’d call this “an easy 200.” Gamerscore that is, but in truth, this was actually a decent golf game. Even with the limited experience I had with golf games, I was able to jump right in and have a good time. The only downside was the limited amount of content – reading about it now, the game has two courses (both 18 holes) with an additional one available for purchase. Pretty weak, still, for the handful of days that I played it, it was enjoyable and the online multiplayer was a plus.

Golf: Tee It Up! was developed by Housemarque, most recently known for their standout efforts on PSN, such as Super Stardust HD. It was published by Activision on Xbox Live Arcade on July 9, 2008.

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Random Game #16 – Guitar Hero: World Tour [Xbox 360]

Guitar Hero World Tour

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

By the time Guitar Hero: World Tour released, I had not only moved onto Rock Band, but moved away from acquiring the annual rhythm game. This being 2008, the genre was red hot and hadn’t been flooded quite yet. World Tour was Activision’s attempt to evolve the Guitar Hero series into a full-fledged band game and by all accounts, they were very successful. Not only that, they introduced a few differentiating features such as the music creation tools and a drum kit featuring cymbals. I only picked it up this year for a dollar or so and have yet to play it. I’ve been hooked on this type of game before and at the very least, I’m looking forward to playing through the game with a friend.

Guitar Hero: World Tour was developed by Neversoft and released in North America on October 26, 2008. It was available for a plethora of platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, and Mac. The PS2 and Wii versions were ported by Budcat Creations and Vicarious Visions, respectively, while the PC and Mac versions were ported and published by Aspyr Media. These last two were released on July 26, 2009. Activision published all other versions.

Random Game #7 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Xbox 360]

Deus Ex Human RevolutionWhen you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

I completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution about this time last year. Rereading my review, it’s clear that I enjoyed the open-ended nature of the game; especially the ability to play through the game non-lethally. It also offered much variety in a general sense, thanks to the RPG skill tree and the many “features” Adam Jensen had. The questions its story raised weren’t new, but I found them thought-provoking and appreciated the many sides portrayed in the game. It should be remembered as one of the best games of the seventh generation, even if its amalgamated gameplay was becoming commonplace and the boss fights were disappointing.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal and it served as their first project. It was published in North America on August 23, 2011 by Square Enix and released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A special edition was released too, and you can read my thoughts on it here. A Mac version was later released and finally a Director’s Cut was issued and released for the aforementioned platforms, as well as the Wii U.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Augmented Edition Review

The Augmented Edition features alternate box art.
The Augmented Edition features alternate box art.

When it was released in 2011, Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a collector’s edition of sorts in the Augmented Edition. Available for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC versions, the Augmented Edition contained a fancier game case boasting alternate box art, a slim art book, and a bonus DVD containing some extra features. It’s worth noting that I’m discussing the American version as some of the European versions contained DLC not present in our release. I’ve noticed the package is still available new on sites like Amazon, although for someone who has yet to play the game, I’d recommend the recently released Director’s Cut at this point.

A LIMB Clinic offering assistance to an augmented individual.
A LIMB Clinic offering assistance to an augmented individual.

The bonus DVD is the most worthwhile part of the Augmented Edition in my mind. I say that because of the lengthy making-of documentary included on disc. It follows the studio from its founding (this was their first release) until nearly completing the game. This documentary must’ve been shot before the game’s finalization as it ends in 2010 – the game released in late 2011. Interviews varied from all aspects of the development team so many viewpoints were represented.  I was chagrinned that nothing was mentioned about Square Enix’s takeover of Eidos, but I imagine that’s an indication that development continued on hitch free. There’s an interesting tangent about demoing the game to Warren Spector at Gamescom 2010 towards the end which was cool.

Also included on the bonus DVD is the soundtrack in easily extractable MP3 form. I’ve enjoyed listening to the soundtrack thus far. While playing the game I considered it similar to Mass Effect’s. The ambient instrumental music is something I foresee myself writing to in the future. The twelve tracks don’t make up the entire soundtrack, so that’s less than desirable. A motion graphic novel is also present on the DVD as well as a few trailers and storyboards.

The art book was pitiful. I find it such a cheap tactic to tout an included art book, only to discover that its bindings make up more of the book than actual content. If I’m going to fall prey to consumerism, I’d at least like something worthwhile. The artwork on display is stellar, but the art book is tiny and, unless you’re the type to draw inspiration for hours from this type of bonus, it won’t hold your attention for fifteen minutes.

Although the art book is pitiful, I can't say the same for the art or design itself.
Although the art book is pitiful, I can’t say the same for the art or design itself.

I think the Augmented Edition is a mixed bag. I like displaying the premium box and have or will get much use out of the bonuses included on the DVD. I don’t care for the art book as there just isn’t much to it. At this point, it’s a hard sell if you haven’t played the game. The Director’s Cut includes all of the DLC which will save you extra dough if you purchased the standard or Augmented Edition. But if you’re a super collector, it’s a decent addition to your collection for the right price.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Xbox 360] – Review

Lots of goldish hues in this game.
Lots of goldish hues in this game.

2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the first product of Eidos Montreal. Charged with the task of revitalizing the long-dormant Deus Ex franchise, I consider it an overwhelming success. Taking place in 2027, the game is set amongst the backdrop of contentious debates regarding human augmentation. The gameplay is an amalgamation of first-person shooting, stealth, and role-playing style character progression that offers the player choice in approaching confrontations. Further complimenting player choice is the level design – funneling the player towards objectives while offering multiple paths. These elements, aided by the fantastic art design, combine for a laudable single-player experience.

On the eve of a hearing in Washington D.C. regarding regulation of human augmentations, Sarif Industries – a Detroit, MI based manufacturer of human augmentations – is the victim of sabotage. The lead scientists are abducted and the company’s security officer is left on the brink of death. He is resuscitated and implanted with many augmentations, becoming more than human. Upon his awakening, Adam Jensen thirsts for answers and, along with the company’s founder and CEO David Sarif, wants revenge.

Players could choose a confrontational path...
Players could choose a confrontational path…

Adam’s quest takes him from his home in Detroit to Montreal and Shanghai. Along the way, he encounters every side of the human augmentation debate and the corporations and politicians who have major voices in shaping the future. Conspiracies and betrayals were prevalent in the two dozen hours it took me to complete the game. Every major player and corporation seemed to have ulterior motives, and I could identify with, or at least understand, the positions everyone took. If done correctly, players have the choice of four endings, each of which I could sympathize with partially. After viewing them all, I reflected on the concepts laid before me by the thinkers in this game’s world and on my part, I extracted those philosophies to other areas of human nature. In that aspect, I found the game to be very thought-provoking.

Or a stealthier alternative.
Or a stealthier alternative.

I wouldn’t describe the blend of gameplay styles to be provocative however, as they seem like a combination that is becoming ever more common these days. At the very least, the adaptation of RPG style skill trees is becoming increasingly prevalent in all styles of games. On a side note, that was sort of a trend in the seventh generation of home consoles, wasn’t it? In my mind, what makes this game stand out is the viability of either a lethal or non-lethal approach. I decided from the get-go to complete the game non-lethally and at the same time, attempted to do so without being seen and setting off an alarm. This involved reloading many saves and I wasn’t successful on the second objective, but I never felt like I couldn’t do it. In many games that offer this sort of option, it seems that the odds are stacked against the players who choose the stealthy route. I didn’t have that sentiment at any point.

Like most everything else about this game, the characters were interesting.
Like most everything else about this game, the characters were interesting.

What assisted this viability was the open-ended design of the levels. They were linear in a sense as most usually led to a singular endpoint, but as I compulsively explored I stumbled upon many routes propelling me forward. I’d generally choose the one most suited to my stealthy motives. Outside of these mission-based levels were the cities of Detroit and Shanghai. Both were open-world hubs that offered numerous NPCs and side quests. The cities also showcased the dystopian future that Eidos Montreal envisioned for the game. The art design in general was highly influenced by other works of pop culture but I still found it fascinating and cohesive throughout the game’s entirety.

This concept art of Shanghai perfectly illustrates the actual cityscape in the game.
This concept art of Shanghai perfectly illustrates the actual cityscape in the game.

My exposure to the original games is slight – I played a fair amount of Deus Ex: The Conspiracy on the PS2, of which I remember liking it and not completing it, and although I haven’t played it, I know that Invisible War wasn’t as well received as the original. So while I may not be the definitive source on judging how well Eidos Montreal did in reviving the series, it’s hard to argue that Human Revolution isn’t fantastic. The game dealt with a serious topic in a mature way and was thought-provoking throughout, but the ending in particular summarized each viewpoint well. I also thought highly of the gameplay and level design; especially the ability to play through stealthily and not feel inadequate in any way. Of course, the overall art design was awesome too. All in all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution combined many elements to form a cohesive, worthwhile, adventure.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Collector’s Edition Review

The contents of the collector's edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I’ve written three articles covering collector’s editions of video games so far and they’ve all been similar. Namely, they all came in metal DVD cases; of course they contained other bonuses too but nothing spectacular in my opinion. Well, when it came to releasing a collector’s edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda Softworks decided to do it big.

The collector’s edition of Skyrim is hard to miss in a store thanks to the massive box it comes in. Because it houses a foot tall statue of the dragon Alduin, it takes up a lot of space, which is also why it’s been marked down from its original retail price of $150 to $100, so stores can get rid of them. That’s still a lot of money and the game itself is FANTASTIC and definitely worth playing, but maybe you don’t need all the extras the collector’s edition comes with.

Alduin is really solid, like, made of rock hard plastic, and he has many protrusions, so he’s hard to grasp and handle. Luckily he comes with a stand resembling a word wall from the game, although the stand is hollow and feels cheap, the opposite of Alduin. Regardless, that’s not disappointing because it does its job of displaying Alduin well. If you’re unashamed in your love of dragons it’s a wonderful display piece, if you’ve got the space.

Another bonus included in the collector’s edition is a massive art book, definitely the biggest and best I’ve ever received with a game. It’s not miniature like the ones I’ve received with other games; no sir, it’s a full size book. It contains nearly two hundred pages of concept art, computer-generated art, and descriptions of almost anything you can think of that’s in the game. It’s a seriously nice art book.

Lastly, the collector’s edition features a documentary DVD distilling many facets of the game. It never delves very deep into any particular subject, but, like the art book, covers so many features of the game. I wished I watched it before playing through the game or at least before beating it, but listening to the developers discuss various features of making Skyrim was still interesting.

The collector’s edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sells for around $100 now and personally, I think the premium over the standard edition is worth it, if you’re into displaying massive statues of dragons. The statue of Alduin is badass, the art book is ridiculous compared to the ones that usually get bundled with collector’s edition of video games, and the documentary DVD provides some deeper insight into the game. Too bad the game doesn’t come in a nice SteelBook though.

Batman: Arkham City – Review

Batman or gargoyle?

Batman: Arkham City is the follow-up to one of 2009s most popular and critically acclaimed games: Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat is nearly identical to Arkham Asylum’s while the environment is many times larger. Throw in a captivating story with a ton of post-game content, and I think 2011 is going to be a repeat of 2009.

Batman: Arkham City’s combat is mostly unchanged from Batman: Arkham Asylum. It revolves around Batman pummeling bad guys with his fists and gadgets and doing it exceptionally well. He leaps from goon to goon, even when they’re incredibly far apart and the blows he delivers are impactful, especially the final hit when dealing with a group of hoodlums. I didn’t make good use of every option available to Batman, but I really, really liked the melee combat. I’ve heard it called the best melee combat in video games and I’d have to agree.

The fights get tougher when different enemy types are introduced. There are a few larger than normal enemies that take a whooping and there are a few that require special tactics such as attacking from behind, but Batman’s biggest threat, aside from a few bosses, are enemies with guns. In a way, Arkham City has two modes of combat. The first is the all-out melee combat where I took on any comers, while the second revolved around stealth.

If I didn’t act stealthily around bad guys with guns and they noticed me, it was basically game over. Batman can take a walloping from run-of-the-mill bad guys, but guns shred him up. When I encountered a group of well equipped thugs, I took them out quietly, and this was as fun as tackling a large group. As I took more enemies out, they would freak out, giving me direct feedback on how I was doing. What I liked most about this sort of combat however was my forced reliance on my environment and gadgets. If I didn’t take these two aspects into consideration, thugs with guns would be much tougher.

Detective mode returns!

After the events of Arkham Asylum, Gotham City is still fed up with the villains that plague them. Through a curious chain of events, the most crime-ridden area of Gotham City is condemned and turned into Arkham City, a massive jail essentially. Dr. Hugo Strange is a key figure and as one might guess, up to something sinister.

Strange captures Bruce Wayne as he’s criticizing Arkham City and announcing his bid to run for mayor of Gotham City. Unfortunate for Strange, Batman is now inside Arkham City, but he’s not alone. Catwoman plays a large role in the game, but it’s strange how she is implemented. The ability to play as Catwoman is really a piece of downloadable content and included with any new copy of Batman: Arkham City. But everyone else will miss out unless they buy the DLC. Not infuriating, but whatever.

Her story is woven into the game at four points, and at natural breaks in Batman’s story. Her plot intertwines with Batman’s and I generally liked the break from Batman. She plays very similar to Batman, but she doesn’t have the same gadgets. She doesn’t have a lot of them either; only three compared to Batman’s dozen. Her fights were predominately just that, fights; I rarely took enemies out stealthily as her.

Batman and Catwoman meet many familiar and not so familiar villains from Batman lore. Batman has run-ins with a few major players like The Penguin and Mister Freeze, but The Joker is his main foe. What happens is very peculiar though. For most of the game, they are seeking the same thing and they operate as frenemies, but the way their relationship eventually plays out is intense.

I was really captivated by Arkham City’s story. Every time I’d finish a story thread, something interesting would happen and make me want to continue. Unlike a lot of games, I rarely wanted to stop playing it, and when I wasn’t busy with the story, I had a fairly large open world environment to explore.

By interrogating certain thugs, locations of Riddler items would be placed on my map.

Scattered about Arkham City were hundreds of riddles and trophies The Riddler left behind; literally hundreds, nearly five hundred in total. I almost feel like it’s too many, but then again, I’ve spent as much time with the game after I beat it as I did to beat it. Most of his items are trophies and these require clever uses of Batman’s gadgets. There are also riddles which require me to take a picture of something, but I had a hard time with these considering the large environment. His items would be tagged on the map after beating up certain thugs and this was very welcome.

When not going after Hugo Strange, The Joker, or The Riddler, I had a decent amount of side quests to tackle. These were mostly tasked to Batman by his enemies, which seemed odd. I mean Batman had incentives to undertake them, but if I simply told you Batman was assisting Bane without elaborating, you’d probably be confused. In the same vein, Batman never kills his enemies, which in some circumstances, is frustrating. I understand he doesn’t want to take a life, but locking someone up in a simple cage seems shortsighted.

Besides the standard game mode (in which I could fully explore Arkham City post-game and tidy things up as Batman or Catwoman) I could undertake the Riddler’s Revenge mode. This mode contained a lot of maps where I was tasked with beating up groups of thugs and getting ranked on how well I did, or taking a group of thugs out silently, and in a few specific ways. There is a lot of stuff to do in this game!

Tagging objectives and items on the map resulted in a Bat-Signal which was very helpful and just plain cool.

Batman: Arkham City is an improvement over Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat system has changed little in two years, but it’s still so great. I really liked the story and was surprised by a few things that happened; I’ll definitely remember the ending. My biggest takeaway from Batman: Arkham City is the amount of content it contains. I’ve spent a lot of time with the game these past two weeks, and it’s one of the only games I’ve ever completed and then jumped right back into… for another dozen or so hours. Having strayed from many of this year’s new releases I can’t say with authority, but I believe Batman: Arkham City is one of the year’s best games. Batman: Arkham City was developed by London based Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and soon the PC. I played the Xbox 360 version.

5/5

Links:

Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady Studios

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment