That first year I owned an Xbox 360, I probably downloaded every game trailer and demo that was posted to the Xbox Live Marketplace. I purchased the Xbox 360 just before Halloween 2006, after saving a couple weeks worth of earnings from my first job, and I found myself buying into the prerelease marketing for just about every high profile release. Among them, was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas.Continue reading Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas [Xbox 360] – Review
If anything has stuck with me from my high school driver’s ed class, it was a tip from one of the two teachers. While out on a drive, the football coach teacher (as opposed to the softball coach teacher) stated that people tend to focus so closely on the rear of the car in front of them, that they lose consciousness regarding their surroundings. Well, my stupid ass tends to do that with enemy bullets in shoot ‘em ups. I pay such close attention to them – in order to avoid them – that I inevitably and unintentionally lose track of where I am in relation, and wind up right in their path!Continue reading Raiden IV [Xbox 360] – Review
Stylistically, I’m not as smitten with Deathsmiles as I am with Akai Katana. What can I say, I’m just not into sexualized preteens and teenage girls! Honestly though, across the dozen or so unique half-hour playthroughs, there were only one or two skeezy scenes, but hey, one is too many, right?Continue reading Deathsmiles [Xbox 360] – Review
As a kid of the 1990s, games like those included in the Raiden Fighters Aces compilation are what come to mind when I think of shoot ‘em ups. The three games included display an adherence to 2D pixel graphics, when in the mid to late 1990s, at the time of their release, 3D polygonal visuals were becoming the norm. The vehicles I piloted, those I destroyed, the villages and other locales I flew over all appeared to be grounded in reality, save for the sci-fi weaponry blotting the screen at all times. And the ludicrously high scores, now those I remember. Yep, stepping up to arcade cabinets at the bowling alley and having to count out the high score in chunks of three to see how many million points I attained, that I remember.Continue reading Raiden Fighters Aces [Xbox 360] – Review
It’s amazing what comes into your mind when you just stop and think, huh? For instance, just a few nights ago I was thinking about Akai Katana, the bullet hell shoot ‘em up I’d been playing on the Xbox 360. I first dabbled with it back in September, after thrilling sessions with Mars Matrix caused me to reevaluate the intimidating subgenre of shoot ‘em ups. That first session was a euphoric experience, full of lights, sounds, and unconscious reflexes, and I wasn’t even doing very well. It was a lot like losing my virginity! And like that pivotal event, once it was over, I knew I wanted to experience it again.Continue reading Akai Katana [Xbox 360] – Review
After cleaning up the trophies in Tokyo Jungle and Blue Toad Murder Files, I went back through my partially played PlayStation 3 history to see if there were any other trophy lists I could mop up somewhat quickly. I was on a roll and figured I would keep trophy hunting before devoting serious time to something else, like Suikoden III. After all, whether my friends realize it or not, we’re in a never-ending competition to obtain trophies, achievements, etc. I eventually decided upon Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. The prospects of unlocking the platinum trophy didn’t seem too daunting, and to boot, it’d give me an excuse to purchase one of the Retro-Bit 2.5 GHz Genesis controllers I’d been salivating over.Continue reading Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection & Retro-Bit’s Wireless Genesis Controller – Review
When Jeff and I started Kirby’s Epic Yarn a few months ago, we were just looking for something to play cooperatively. Little did we know then, that would set us on a path of playing the game’s spiritual successors: Yoshi’s Woolly World and Yoshi’s Crafted World. Since we enjoyed that first game so thoroughly, it just made sense to hop into the follow-ups. They offered us hours of inventive platforming and charming visuals, in addition to a sense of relief of knowing what we’d play next. Like figuring out what’s for dinner, deciding what to play next can be tough, especially when the deliberations include multiple individuals. With the completion of Yoshi’s Crafted World, the most recent of Good-Feel’s oeuvre, we were once again hemming and hawing about what to play next. We’d been on a kick of playing games with full-on cooperative campaigns and decided that was the only criteria a candidate needed to fulfill. Scanning the shelves of games before us, we vetoed proposals and backlogged others, agreeing that “yeah, this one is good, but maybe later,” before striking on one that was tailor-made for our situation: Army of Two.Continue reading Army of Two [Xbox 360] – Review
A couple of months after starting F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon in an effort to play something spooky around Halloween, my experience with the series is now complete. Although I’d always wanted to play that game, I didn’t think finally doing so would take me down the rabbit hole of playing every entry. But here we are. F.E.A.R. 3 brought the series to a close with the return of the Point Man, his evil brother Paxton Fettel, and their strained relationship with Alma Wade. The shifting trend of the series, to a more action-orientated horror affair reached its culmination with new gameplay mechanics, which made this the most enjoyable entry.
With F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I thought Monolith Productions developed a sequel that was more focused on action than horror. It was a fine game, and enjoyable for many reasons, but I still found it somewhat disappointing compared to the original. Unsurprisingly, the expansion F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn continued down this path. Released on September 3, 2009, roughly seven months after the base game, Reborn had a novel premise but was too brief to serve as anything other than a narrative introduction to F.E.A.R. 3.
Instead of controlling the Point Man, or another member of F.E.A.R., I was actually put in the shoes of Foxtrot 813, a Replica soldier. This offered a unique perspective since the Replica soldiers were one of a few groups of “bad guys” I had faced off against. With a runtime of about an hour though, there wasn’t much time to explore this role reversal. On a routine mission, Foxtrot 813 was telepathically coerced by Paxton Fettel to turn on his squad. Fettel, of course, was one of Alma’s offspring and an antagonist from the first game. He didn’t really feature in the second game, but following his commands, Foxtrot 813 eventually made it to his puppet master. Fettel then assumed Foxtrot’s body and was, ahem, reborn.
There were many differences between the first and second entries in the series, but one I failed to mention in my previous review is the way gunplay was handled. It was an FPS released in the wake of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and it showed, specifically when aiming down a gun’s sights. Pulling the right trigger to look down the sights with an enemy in the vicinity locked me onto that enemy, quickly and efficiently. This allowed for more precise gunplay, but offset with limited aiming speed adjustments and the plodding movement speed of my avatar, I couldn’t fine tune the controls to find a sweet spot that felt “right.” I made due, continuing to fiddle with the controls every now and then, but to no avail.
Between F.E.A.R. 2’s insane ending, Fettel’s appearance, and Alma’s attempts to prevent his return, I’m interested to see what happens in F.E.A.R. 3, the final installment in the series. Reborn, while offering a novel role reversal, brought little else of note to the series. The brief campaign had new environments and some exciting gunfights but was merely a proper explanation of Fettel’s return. At ten bucks, it’s hard to recommend to anyone other than zealous fans or achievement hunters.
As I engaged with allies, enemies, and explored the first few missions of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I couldn’t get over how good it looked. The visual detail present in character models and environments floored me. It was a remarkable improvement over F.E.A.R. and its two expansions, which released upwards of three-and-a-half years prior. Monolith Productions developed the first game during a transition period between console generations, while this entry was put together firmly within one, and it showed. That further familiarity with development tools and the platforms of release resulted in visual improvements isn’t surprising, however. But, personally it was a reminder of how good games of the previous generation could look, and how much improvement had been made in just a few years. Continue reading F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin [Xbox 360]- Review