Tag Archives: psn

Red Johnson’s Chronicles – Demo Impressions

The puzzles revolved around objects. Moving them around and searching for clues was vital.

What is it about realism and video games? For some games that portray a realistic world it can be easy to suspend belief about how things should operate and play along because a mechanic is fun, like with Driver: San Francisco. What about when games portray a partially realistic world but contain elements that make it hard to go along with? Well that’s my issue with Red Johnson’s Chronicles, an otherwise stellar adventure game.

Red Johnson’s Chronicles is a downloadable game released this past week for the PlayStation Network, developed and published by French studio Lexis Numerique. It’s a puzzle-based adventure game following private investigator Red Johnson. I controlled him and was introduced to a few additional characters pretty quickly.

Besides the puzzles, I encountered a few quick time events in the demo.

As Red was sitting in his office, a rotund police officer entered. The two obviously have a past together and Red helps out by investigating a murder. I was swept off to a shady area of town and soon I was moving my cursor around the screen looking for objects I could interact with. There were no witnesses of this murder but a security camera surely caught the perpetrator. After a few puzzles I was finally able to access the camera.

The camera however didn’t have power, which is odd because to reach the camera I had to find a power grid to operate a ladder right next to the camera. It turns out the circuits inside the camera are not in order, forcing me to arrange them correctly. This begs the question, if the camera was on when the murder was committed, who climbed up to the camera, took it apart, rearranged the insides, put it back together, and left it? If it was the murderer, why wouldn’t he just destroy the camera or take the videotape?

So that’s my major complaint with Red Johnson’s Chronicles. The game looks really nice, I mean considering most of it consists of still screens, but it had an interesting art style blending realism and cartoons. Going along with the art style, the game’s characters seemed straight out of a cartoon with their overdramatic acting. I couldn’t get past that one unlikely puzzle however so I’ll probably miss out on an otherwise stellar adventure game.


From Dust – Demo Impressions

Eric Chahi designed From Dust. He also designed the early nineties game Out of This World. I've never played it but it's well regarded.

Have you ever wanted to be a god? Have dominion over creatures and wield unimaginable control? Well From Dust satiates a few god-like desires. Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft, From Dust is a downloadable video game where players take control of the breath, a visual representation of their influence. Appearing like a cursor, I was able to move it around the stages, highlight people or things, and most importantly, manipulate the environment.

The demo opened with astounding visuals and sounds, showing me the people I would assist. They were tribal, resembling African Bushmen or Australian aborigines. A narrator got me up to speed as to what’s going on and my task. These tribal people needed to get somewhere; traveling through portals and I had to get them there.

The stages I played consisted of a few islands spread about in clear blue water, very tropical and desolate. Before the portals would activate, the people had to build small villages. I led them to totems were they performed a ceremony and a village popped up around them. This also brought fauna and animals.

More totems were located on separate islands. To transport the people to these islands, I had to use my powers. I could absorb certain types of terrain, sand or water for instance, and then disperse the terrain wherever I wanted. I had to link islands together by absorbing sand and dropping it to create land bridges. Spreading the sand was a little difficult for me, at least spreading it evenly.

While the environments could be an ideal vacation spot, they start out desolate.

Helping these tribal people out could be rewarding and I’m intrigued by the game, but the few stages I played in the demo had me doing the same thing: leading the people to totems and finally to a portal. The final stage saw a tsunami come, but all I had to do was lead one of the people to a rock and they learned a song to avoid it. It looked great and the concept was fun, but I’m fine with playing as much of From Dust as I did especially if the gameplay doesn’t change a lot throughout the game. From Dust was released at the end of July on Xbox Live Arcade, at the end of August on the PC, and it was just released this past week for PlayStation Network.

Renegade Ops – Demo Impressions

Renegade Ops should be a blast co-operatively.

Wow, I just played the demo for Renegade Ops and I think it is one hell of a game. I’ve written a lot recently about downloadable games and while I’ve enjoyed many of the games I’ve played, I didn’t purchase them immediately afterwards. Well I really dug the demo for Renegade Ops and I plan on purchasing it, a solid endorsement eh?

In the demo for Renegade Ops I witnessed the plot setup and played through one stage. A madman has dropped a bomb on a city and is threatening to destroy more cities soon. A council of politicians is meeting to discuss what to do and they’ve decided in favor of negotiation over retaliation. That didn’t sit well with a high ranking officer and he has decided to take on the madman himself, with the aid of other renegades.

The stage I played through was set in a tropical environment, in what could either be a South American or Asian country. I drove a vehicle around equipped with weapons and completed objectives as they were assigned. The game is played from a top-down perspective and I controlled my vehicle using both analog sticks; the left one to drive and the right one to shoot. The stage was very open and there was a lot to do. I had a secondary objective of rescuing hostages for the entire mission, but I was consistently being updated with timed primary objectives.

Besides the environment looking gorgeous, the explosions are something else.

Renegade Ops looks to have a few hooks to keep players coming back such as leveling, upgradability, co-operative play for up to four including both split-screen and online play. The stage I played was a blast and it seems like the game will be very cool playing with a friend or two. The tropical environment looked gorgeous and I was surprised by the amount of destructibility. But I guess I shouldn’t be as it was developed by Avalanche Studios, the developer behind the Just Cause games. I’m really stoked about Renegade Ops after playing the demo and I plan on buying it, a ringing endorsement. Renegade Ops is published by Sega and it was released this past week as a downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, with a PC release coming.

BloodRayne: Betrayal – Demo Impressions

When Rayne is initially summoned, she lands in a coffin from the sky. What?

BloodRayne: Betrayal is a side-scrolling hack and slash game aiming to reboot the BloodRayne series. I personally remember the series pretty well. I’ve only played a smidgen of the first game but I remember it and its sequel receiving mixed reviews. BloodRayne: Betrayal was developed by a different studio however  and it garnered a lot of positive prerelease buzz and after playing the demo I can see why.

I’m not sure how much the plot is related to the previous games, but the demo contained two stages that had me fighting to reach a castle. An army was trying to get to it, but they weren’t going to be able to handle the occultist enemies so they called in Rayne.

The game looked phenomenal. The animation was really slick and the graphics were dark but pretty. The same goes for the soundtrack. There were a lot of sad piano riffs and a lot of epic rock mixed with orchestral instruments.

I hacked and slashed my way through a few different types of enemies and tons of them. The stages were pretty long (each about fifteen minutes) which gave me plenty of time to experiment with combos. The action was fast-paced and open to combos, but for the majority of the demo I simply button mashed. I was graded at the end for my score and I got an F, really terrible. It seems like the game is going to require a lot of time to master the combat and receive really good scores. Regardless, I had a fun time cutting up bad guys by button mashing.

The game looks incredibly slick in motion.

BloodRayne: Betrayal was super gory. As I cut through bad guys, blood would fly everywhere. And when they were stunned, I could suck their blood to refill my health bar, a very cool feature. I enjoyed plowing through my enemies, even though I wasn’t doing it very well. But as I did with Devil May Cry 4, it might be fun to replay to improve my skills. I was surprised at the production values of the game. The graphics and the soundtrack were really good, as was the combat. It seems like a really intense side-scrolling hack and slash game. It was developed by WayForward and published by Majesco for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network last week.

SkyDrift – Demo Impressions

This game has substance over style.

SkyDrift is a downloadable game released last week for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and the PC. It’s a racing game featuring airplanes and power ups, think Mario Kart and I thought it was pretty good. It was developed and published by the Hungarian studio Digital Reality; they also published Dead Block.

I played through SkyDrift’s tutorial learning how to maneuver my airplane as well as what the power ups did. It took me a few races before I really got used to controlling my airplane. I had to learn to plan my turns about a second before the actual turn. What helped was going knife-edge by turning with both analog sticks.

There was a decent blend of variety within the power ups. They were mostly focused on attacks but there were a couple of defense-oriented ones. I could hold two power ups at a time and if flew over a power up that I already had, that power up would level up and become stronger. Similar to Wipeout, if I didn’t want a power up, I could recycle it for boost. There were alternate ways to receive boost too. I got more for damaging and taking out other players or for flying close to the ground.

Fly through power up icons to receive them.

The demo also featured a multiplayer component but I forgot to try it out. There was only one stage in the demo, but it looked very nice. The demo ended touting a few more environments but I wonder how different the stages are visually. The soundtrack was very noticeable and it was rocking and upbeat, matching the tone of the races. There wasn’t much style to SkyDrift’s design; it seemed like everything was created realistically, but like I said, it looked very nice. I enjoy this type of racing game and SkyDrift seems like a fully featured power up-based racing game.

The Baconing – Demo Impressions

I'm pretty sure DeathSpank as a character name is pretty terrible.

The third game to be released in the DeathSpank series is The Baconing, and it’s my first experience with the comedic action-role-playing series. It was released last week for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and on the PC via Steam; I played the PSN version. The Baconing was developed and published by Hothead Games with the exception of the XBLA version, published by Valcon Games.

Having become bored without foes to fight, DeathSpank tries on his Throngs of Virtue and inadvertently creates an evil version of himself that begins wreaking havoc and already the game is making callbacks to a previous game in the series.

The demo had me fighting through groups of enemies and meeting unusual non-player characters who issued quests to me. Although the demo was linear, the rest of the game should be fairly expansive and open to replaying stages.

When enemies, objects, or NPCs where on the screen, I could target them and a circle would surround them. If I was targeting an enemy or an object I could attack with one of the four weapons I had assigned to the face buttons. If it was an NPC, I could begin a conversation. I was given options as to how I wanted to respond in conversation and I was surprised to see that all of the dialogue was voice-acted.

I really liked the design in the game, it felt like a cartoon.

I played the demo on normal and it seemed pretty tough, although it just threw me into battle without really explaining much. The menus seemed expansive and I was overwhelmed with information, at least considering I was playing a brief demo. The humor in The Baconing seems similar to that of a cartoon; DeathSpank was loud and boisterous and the dialogue was pretty funny. The world was very colorful and there was a lot of detail to the stages.

The Baconing appears to be a fun action-RPG similar to Diablo, but if it’s your first experience with the series like it was mine, the first game, DeathSpank, might be a better option.

Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon – Demo Impressions

For ten bucks, Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon might be a fun game to play with a co-op partner.

Besides seeing commercials every now and then for the TV show, I have had no exposure to Comedy Central’s adult cartoon Ugly Americans. Not totally aware of the show or its success, I was surprised to see a downloadable game based off of it pop up on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network last week. Considering I’ve been watching Adult Swim on Cartoon Network since its inception, I figured Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon would be right up my alley.

After a brief intro, I was given the choice to play as four characters. Once I picked one, a cutscene began that set up the plot and gave me a feel for the characters and the humor; it’s typical of similar shows, such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Ugly Americans is very much a cartoon, and it’s very much an adult one. In the aforementioned cutscene, one of the characters was hanging around a sex doll hoping to make his girlfriend jealous, while another character was joyous that he just received a gun that uses anything for ammunition, his suggestion: a lamp to shoot into someone’s head.

I figured the game would be a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, surely easy for the developer to churn out, and I was kind of right. The game’s stages do scroll to the right and I fought a bunch of enemies, but the combat is conducted via the analog sticks. The left analog stick moved my character while the right analog stick shot my weapon in the direction I pointed. There were a ton of enemies to kill as I wandered through the city streets, but I knew I would only be interested in the game if I had a co-op buddy.

The graphics are pretty sweet; reminiscent of the show which is a plus.

Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon reminds me a lot of Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am. The use of cel-shading between the games is very similar, as is the humor, and nearly the quality of the game, but Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon has more potential for fun. It seems like an okay game; I can’t imagine it taking too long to complete and leveling up characters could provide an incentive to replay stages. Without a co-op partner or a familiarity with the series however, it’s not recommendable. Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon was released last week for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It was developed by Backbone Entertainment and published by Comedy Central Games/345 Games.