Tag Archives: ubisoft

Collecting the Evolution Series

Evolution North American Box Arts

While I wouldn’t consider myself a massive fan of the short-lived Evolution series, I have managed to accumulate a respectable collection of related products, perhaps everything released in North America, as a matter of fact. Continue reading Collecting the Evolution Series

Evolution Worlds [GameCube] – Review

evolution worlds - gamecube - north american box art

My memories of the experience are faint, but I can still recall renting Evolution Worlds from the local Blockbuster in the final months of junior high. Although I spent hours dungeon crawling, I never managed to complete the game. Even after purchasing a copy and replaying it a few years later, I failed to reach the finale. Since these playthroughs, I’ve viewed the game through a nostalgic lens, joyously recalling days gone by, and looking forward to that point in the indeterminate future when I set aside time to play it again. Well, last year was supposed to be the year I replayed it, as I was cherry-picking those games I always wanted to play or return to. I wound up not getting around to it then, but it was top of my list this year. After fifteen years, I’ve finally beaten Evolution Worlds! Continue reading Evolution Worlds [GameCube] – Review

Far Cry 4 [PlayStation 4] – Snapshot Review

Far Cry 4

On a Friday night, just after Christmas 2014, I was surrounded by the usual gang – Jenny, Erika, and Jeff. The pangs to acquire a PS4 were getting to Jenny, and with much coercion from Jeff, I was finally dogged into taking the leap. That week, Best Buy was running a significant deal on the console, one that included a digital game. Jeff, a team member (ugh) at Target coerced me with the temptations of his substantial discounts, on top of their price matching. Needless to say, we walked away with the system and a couple of games. With Jenny and I being massive fans of Far Cry 3, the choice of a digital game was easy as there was no choice – it was Far Cry 4 all the way.

Once again developed by Ubisoft Montreal, this game is strikingly similar to its predecessor. That didn’t make it a bad game; it was just a less surprising one. As usual, the setting was a lush, sprawling, wide-open game world that offered many distractions. All together it took me about twenty hours to get its platinum trophy, so yeah it was expansive as far as single-player first-person shooters are considered and… there were multiplayer modes – enough said. Finally, the story and cast were anchored by an outrageous villain that gave Vaas a run for his money. The developers took the formula from the previous game, changed the superficial portions, got it running on the new generation of consoles and probably thought “that’ll do.” And it does.

Random Game #34 – Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu [GameCube]

Batman Rise of Sin Tzu

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.

I played a little bit of, and wrote about this game a couple of years ago. I think my introductory paragraph sums up my thoughts on the game perfectly. “The most notable aspect of Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is that it marked a first for the Batman franchise: the first time a major character was debuted in a video game. It has been nine years since the game’s release though, and I’m not aware of the villain Sin Tzu gaining much traction; I mean, I’ve only ever heard of him in the context of this video game, albeit, I’m not especially well versed in the Batman universe. Debuting in a mediocre beat ‘em up probably didn’t help his chances at stardom though.”

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. The studio is massive (over 2,600 employees!) and has remained incredibly prolific in the wake of the release of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell in 2002. This game was, naturally, published by Ubisoft. It original released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox on October 16, 2003 in North America. The Game Boy Advance and GameCube versions subsequently launched on October 27, 2003 and November 11, 2003, respectively. The game also had special editions on the home consoles. The PS2 and Xbox versions came with an action figure while the GameCube release had a lithograph (read: small poster), which I have.

JohnTheGamer and Tridrakious Play Street Racer and Super Bust-a-Move


Watch the splendor of Street Racer for the PlayStation and Super Bust-a-Move for the Playstation 2 in low-fidelity splendor! Played by none other than JohnTheGamer and Tridrakious, courtesy of just1morelevel.com!

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.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu [GameCube] – First Impressions

Where’s Gotham City’s ethics?

The most notable aspect of Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is that it marked a first for the Batman franchise: the first time a major character was debuted in a video game. It has been nine years since the game’s release though, and I’m not aware of the villain Sin Tzu gaining much traction; I mean, I’ve only ever heard of him in the context of this video game, albeit, I’m not especially well versed in the Batman universe. Debuting in a mediocre beat ‘em up probably didn’t help his chances at stardom though.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is an Ubisoft Montreal developed, Ubisoft published beat ‘em up from 2003. It was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance, and while I only played the GameCube version, I’m sure the PS2 and Xbox versions are identical. My friend and I played through what I believe constitutes the first quarter of the game, and I speak for both us when I say Rise of Sin Tzu was underwhelming.

The game revolves around on the eponymous hero defending Gotham City from the eponymous villain. Sin Tzu has formed an alliance with Scarecrow, Clayface, and Bane and they’re wreaking havoc. With the assistance of Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing, Batman sets out to defend Gotham City from these baddies. Although there are four heroes, the game only supports co-operative play for two, a glaring omission. On the bright side, those two extra players won’t be subjected to the tepid gameplay.

This screenshot is cognizant of the game’s quality.


Each hero had slightly different stats and had a wealth of combos to execute, yet I was content to just mash the punch or kick button. The combos were differentiated by timed button presses, although they weren’t starkly different. Special moves could be unlocked using earned points which could also be spent on bonus features like toys or comic book covers. My friend and I played through the first quarter of the game, toppling Scarecrow, and besides the lame combat, the bland level design and poor camera left us unfulfilled.

Stages lasted about ten minutes and tasked us with fighting through groups of Scarecrow’s henchmen. Opposition was light early on but they eventually began using Scarecrow’s gas on us. It affected the camera, making it very wavy, but not problematic like the occasional event of the camera getting hung up on a corner. Still the biggest detriment to our enjoyment was the bland level design. We’d plod down unchanging Gotham City streets, encountering groups of henchmen, but no real excitement. This was compounded by the weak combat and the drab graphics.

Challenges attempted to keep gameplay fresh, although they weren’t too varied and the gameplay was lackluster in the first place.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is a mediocre beat ‘em up that will likely only be remembered for debuting a character into the franchise.

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.

Driver: San Francisco – Demo Impressions

The game boasts a large soundtrack, and if the demo is any indication, it should be pretty good.

The demo for Driver: San Francisco was just released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and I had the chance to play through it today. It’s not my first exposure to the series though; I played some of Driver 2 way back when on the PlayStation. Driver: San Francisco had me resuming the role of Tanner, but this time with a bizarre ability.

Tanner and his partner Jones have pursued long-time bad guy Jericho to San Francisco. While attempting to catch him Tanner gets in a wreck and enters a coma. Upon waking from this coma Tanner realizes he has the ability to shift into other people’s bodies. So even though everything else in the game is attempting to purvey something similar to the real world, Tanner has this unrealistic, albeit fun, ability.

The demo has three missions, the first titled Prove It. In it Tanner explains to Jones his ability. Rightfully so Jones thinks he’s full of it, so, Tanner proves it. As Tanner I had to get close enough to someone driving and shift into them. After pressing the shift button the game slowed down and I moved a cursor to select the car I wished to shift to. I then did a few stunts that Tanner told his Jones he would do.

The second mission was Team Colors. Tanner was assisting a father-daughter racing team, helping them to finish in first and second place. Early on it seemed like it would be difficult to get a one-two finish because the person I wasn’t controlling drove noticeably slower. However, in the back half of the race, my opposition had wrecked, each at least once, making it easier than I thought.

There are a lot of nice cars in this game. From American muscle to modern European, Tanner has a lot of options.

The final mission, I believe Escapist, had me possessing a driver working for Jericho. Tanner’s plan was to have this driver progress up Jericho’s chain of drivers, aiming to gain knowledge from the passengers this driver was transporting. I pretty much had to outrun the police and get to a rendezvous point within a time limit here. I failed the first time I attempted it, but found a few cheap methods of losing the police the second time around. During the mission Tanner chatted up the passenger, who wasn’t interested. The dialogue between the two became annoying since Tanner kept prodding, and the passenger kept getting annoyed.

While I have no knowledge of the streets of San Francisco, I can attest that the city and the game for that matter looked fantastic. The different vehicles I drove seemed to handle differently, and they were all modeled nicely, and for the first time in the series, after real vehicles. I thought the concept of shifting was ridiculous especially in a game attempting to recreate the real world, but it was fun and could be put good use when Driver: San Francisco comes out on September 6, 2011.