Tag Archives: thq

In the Hunt [PlayStation] – Review

I think it’s safe to say that when Metal Slug launched in 1996 it put recently minted developer Nazca Corporation on the map in a big way. It wasn’t their first effort as a team though, more like their major label debut. And like your favorite band’s major label debut, it was an effort produced after years of honing their craft. In their case, that was with games developed for Irem like Undercover Cops, GunForce II, and In the Hunt.

Continue reading In the Hunt [PlayStation] – Review

The Box Art of Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

I learn something new everyday. Sometimes the information is useful, other times its video game trivia like the fact that Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars was originally released as Circle of Blood in America.

Thanks to MobyGames for having the only moderate box art for the original American release. Too bad it has their watermark on it.
Thanks to MobyGames for having the only moderate box art for the original American release. Too bad it has their watermark on it.

The first time the game was released at all, it was released as Circle of Blood in America. I don’t care much for the stained glass box art. It doesn’t hint at the mystery as well as the European box art does. One could ascertain the game takes place in Europe thanks to the stained glass visage and the gargoyle, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Although, I would like to win a trip to Paris…

The most commonly used box art for the game.
The most commonly used box art for the game.

This box art was used for the European releases of the original PC version and the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance ports. As I mentioned earlier, I feel the collage used and the menacing man on the cover hint at the mystery of the narrative quite well.

The first good American box art for the game.
The first good American box art for the game.

For the American release of the PlayStation port, THQ (R.I.P.) chose to utilize a crucial in-game item. The Templar manuscript that George and Nicole locate fuels their journeys for the latter half of the game and uncovering what each section symbolizes was a major narrative driver.

Undoubtedly similar to the European box art.
Undoubtedly similar to the European box art.

When BAM! (R.I.P.) published the GBA version in America, they opted for a cover that had more in common with the European cover. And yes, I’m only saying that because of the leering eyes. Although, this is the only box art that features a broken sword. Not that it’s important or anything; it didn’t really factor into the narrative until very late in the game, and even then, in a minor way.

Umbrella Corporation?
Umbrella Corporation?

The first director’s cut of the game appeared on the Nintendo Wii and DS. The American releases of the games shared the same box art and featured an ancient looking symbol of the Knights Templar. I’ve always had a soft spot for this box art; perhaps because it was a notable “exclusive” for the Wii back in the day.

The more modern European box art.
The more modern European box art.

Finally, the European release of the director’s cut for the Wii and DS ventured away from the traditional European box art. Like it’s American counterpart, it uses color tones that hint at age, but in general it hints at the mystery of the game as it’s European predecessor had.

And of course, the game has since been released on countless digital since the director’s cut was debuted on the Wii and DS. There’s not really a suitable image to show for these as they lack proper box art. The icons they use generally seem to include a head shot of Nicole since she is featured more prominently in the director’s cut release. I like all of the covers well enough with the exception of Circle of Blood. The original European cover is my favorite at this point.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine – Demo Impressions

Does anyone remember The Outfit? Relic developed that game too. I kind of liked it...

The tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 is a well known property when it comes to video game culture. I believe it has had a major impact on many games, and the property has spawned a few itself. But I have had no exposure with the property outside of reading previews and reviews for past Warhammer 40,000 games. But the demo for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine just released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and I thought I’d try it out. It combines third-person shooting with brutal hack and slash gameplay and does so well, but it just wasn’t for me.

There were two missions to undertake in the Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine demo. The first was titled The Inquisitor. I fought a lot of orks in a battle-ridden industrial area as I made my way to a crane, and eventually to an elevator out of the area. There were a ton of enemies and I wasn’t sure if I should use melee attacks or fire my weapons. Using my melee attacks did a lot of damage, but I lost health very quickly and died a few times. On the other hand my weapons were fairly strong, but the orks advanced so fast it seemed like I was always walking or jumping backwards as I fought them.

The second mission was titled Battlements. I very quickly found a jet pack that my character equipped. With it I could launch myself into the air and then come crashing back to earth by doing a ground pound. If any enemies were immediately nearby they would explode in a gory mess, any stragglers that were close enough to be affected were stunned and easy prey; I could perform absolutely brutal executions on stunned enemies.

Orks always seemed to be lurking around the corner, in large groups no less.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine from the outset played like a very familiar game. In the wake of Gears of War, the third-person shooter genre has come to life. But there are many games that can’t compare and Space Marine is one of them. The characters had a great sense of weight. They were bulky and wore these huge suits of armor, and they moved like it, which is a great quality, but not for me. The design of the game is consistent with the Warhammer 40,000 universe: a blend of futuristic and industrial aesthetics, but it looks like many other video games and didn’t pique my interest. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine seems like an adequate third-person action game, but it didn’t strike a chord with me. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is developed by Relic Entertainment and is being published by THQ, scheduled to release September 6, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Truth or Lies – Review

What nerdy activity do you secretly enjoy?

The past couple of times I’ve browsed through the game departments of Best Buy and Target, I’ve noticed a plethora of copies of Truth or Lies, and to my surprise Target had a pile of them on clearance for five dollars. I decided to take a shot in the dark with the game and pick it up after seeing if a friend would be interested in playing it as well. Truth or Lies was developed by Australian based Big Ant Studios, known for some Rugby and World of Outlaws games as well as a few ports. Truth or Lies is a party game that asks players questions that they then must answer truthfully to score the most points possible. A microphone is required to play the game but one was not packed in.

Truth or Lies asks players questions and the object is answer each question truthfully. The object is to ultimately win, after all this is a video game, and answering questions truthfully will net you more points. But what if an embarrassing question comes up? Then one would lie, but do so convincingly enough to trick the game.

Before my friend and I began, we each created a profile for the game. The game gave us a few questions and asked us to answer them truthfully or dishonestly, presumably to hear what we sound like in each scenario. Once our profiles were set up we jumped into the game proper. We picked a two person match and the game then asked how long the match should be; seeking the largest amount of achievements possible, we chose the longest match and it then asked us who was playing, kids, adults, etc.

All the necessary information is easy to understand, except each players score, which is revealed after each round.

Okay, now we were into the match. The questions we were asked were dumb. Even after selecting questions for adults, a lot of the questions seemed naïve. And most of the questions seemed uninspired, I mean on the front of the box one of the example questions asked what you would do if you had twenty-four hours to live? How would the game really know if someone was telling the truth anyways, it only gives you ten seconds to answer, and even then, my friend and I could’ve just horsed around when we were setting up our profiles? That said, we didn’t horse around when we set up our profiles and the game seemed to be fairly accurate when judging whether we were truthful or not.

The match we played was very long, about a half hour, and ultimately very boring. The format was similar throughout, all I remember is a lot of dull questions. Neither of us had any interest to play more of the game afterwards. We did check out the Hot Seat mode where we got to take turns asking each other questions, and that was pretty cool, but not enough to make us want to play more.

Truth or Lies boasts that it has over three thousand questions, thought-provoking ones no less, but the majority of the ones I saw were either naïve or just uninspired. After a match, I’d seen all of Truth or Lies that I needed to see. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun with the game, no, but the fun I garnered from the experience came from the dumb answers my friend and I gave, which became more absurd as the match continued. I would not recommend Truth or Lies.

Bonus: Check out the video tab on the Truth or Lies website (hyperlink) and watch some of the worst promotional videos for a video game ever. It seems like they were going for a sitcom vibe but they gave me serious wahjah.

You Don’t Know Jack – Review

You Don't Know Jack returns to consoles after a long absence.

For a series that was at one point as prominent as You Don’t Know Jack was, I’ve had little experience with it. The series debuted in 1995 and there have been many releases since then. Of the games released, I’ve only played the PlayStation version of the first game. I bought the PlayStation version a couple years back and a friend and I play it every now and then. It’s a great game to turn to when we’re in the mood for some trivia, or just something to laugh at. The newly released You Don’t Know Jack, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and DS, and of course the PC, has brought  the experience back to consoles, and it’s a welcome return, although not much has changed.

You Don’t Know Jack is broken down into episodes, with each episode containing ten questions. The questions are often humorously written while maintaining a clear enough tone to know what’s being asked, mostly. Occasionally, it’s confusing to figure out what the question is asking for, as if the writer got too caught up in attempting to make a joke, instead of maintaining a balance between humor and understandability. The topics vary greatly, from scientific lingo to questions about recent pop culture; throughout our play session my friend and I were equally knowledgeable and lucky in our answers and saw a wide variety of topics.

The episodes contain ten questions along with a minigame or two and each episode ends with a Jack Attack. Episodes are not randomly put together so once an episode is completed, there isn’t much point in returning to it. Each episode begins with the host mentioning the sponsored wrong answer; as the episode proceeds, if you find an answer that relates to the sponsor somehow, pick it, you’ll get the question wrong, but for finding the sponsored wrong answer, you’ll receive a prize and some bonus cash. Before playing each person must create a profile, each person’s profile shows their stats and the prizes they’ve found, the prizes are something to replay older episodes for, but collecting them seems like pretty minor bragging rights.

Besides the sponsored wrong answer, there are a few other unique aspects to the game flow. At some point, the person with the lowest score will get to attempt a Dis or Dat. In Dis or Dat, the player with lowest score is given keywords and picks whether that keyword falls into one of the two categories, or occasionally both. The Dis or Dat that sticks out in my mind was the first one my friend and I got. We had to pick whether the words given were the names of Popes, or the names of Britney Spears songs, this example shows what the developers mean when they call You Don’t Know Jack a blend of high culture and pop culture.

The Jack Attacks play out similarly. The host gives a clue as to what the players are looking for, and they must match the two words that fit the best. In the center of the screen is one large keyword that is coming towards the players. While it’s onscreen, smaller keywords are flashing around, and if the connection between these two keywords is what was asked for, the players buzz in. The person who gets it the fastest gets four thousand dollars, but, if you buzz in on the wrong answer, you lose four thousand dollars. The Jack Attacks gave a chance for those who didn’t do well throughout the course of the game to have a final chance, but in my experience with the game so far, if you did well throughout the game, you’d likely do well during the Jack Attack.

You Don’t Know Jack is a blast, especially for thirty dollars. I haven’t tried the online, and the single player is a quick way to experience the game’s humor but for me, local multiplayer is the only way to play You Don’t Know Jack. With seventy-three episodes, it’ll be a while before I’ve experienced everything You Don’t Know Jack has to offer, and if I’m still left wanting more at that point, I’ll pick up one of the downloadable content packs, not that that’ll happen anytime soon.