Game reviews and editorials. Simple, and clear.

Posts tagged ‘microsoft’

Castle Crashers – The Behemoth/Microsoft – 360

Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date
X-Box 360 – August 27, 2008
PS3 – August 31, 2010 (NA), November 3, 2010 (EU)
Rating: ESRB T
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points
Console Played On: Microsoft Xbox 360

Castle Crashers is a typical side-scrolling beat-em-up that’s not so… well… typical. The Behemoth has taken this old formula, added a little spice to it (some role playing elements), and stuck it in the oven to reheat, and when it came out, it was a smoldering hot dish with a bit of flair added in. The objective of Castle Crashers is to rescue the four princesses that have been abducted by the evil dark wizard, who just so happens to wreck the town while he is at it. The game starts off with four unlocked characters: a fire knight, an ice knight, an electric knight, and a poison knight. The Behemoth does a fantastic job recreating this age old formula into something new, exciting, and quite frankly, a blast to play.

The story starts out in a little party that the knights and civilian are all enjoying. A little bit of music, some good food and dancing for everyone! That is, until the day is completely and utterly ruined by the dark wizard, who selfishly takes the kings crystal and all four princesses. Thus begins the journey of the Castle Crashers! There are over 30 stages to play through, and the story is rather entertaining. The humor is very sarcastic, with a strange affinity with stool. I know this sounds foul, but I promise upon playing the game, the stool fits into the storyline perfectly. While it is difficult to really establish a story when the majority of the game is meant to be a series of button mashing, Castle Crashers does a really nice job keeping everything flowing in a neat and orderly fashion, despite the chaos.

With that being said, while being a beat-em-up style, the game doesn’t require severe cramping of thumbs to get the job done. They offer various combos in the form of mixing light attacks with heavy attacks, culminating various results from it. These attacks are unlocked as you progress through your levels. Each level up grants a knight stat points to place into attack, magic, defense and agility. The knights are also equipped with various types of magic, depending on the knight you use. There is also a slight variation between the looks of each magic, with many types of ways to use the magic (wide area, focused bullet, etc.). Castle Crashers also offers various sub weapons, from a bow and arrows, to a sandwich to turn the knights into giant, muscle headed rage machines.

The multiplayer feature is nothing new in terms of this style of game. Where The Behemoth has taken things a step further is by allowing knights to battle it out in various arenas and mini games within the game. The two mini games available are called “All You Can Quaff” in which the player presses buttons alternatively to eat food as fast as possible, and “Arena” where the player may partake in five different events. Also, at the end of any level where a princess may be rescued, the knights are forced to battle it out to the death, as only the strongest knight may stand victorious and receive the kiss from the princess. The mixture of cooperative and competitive game play adds for a surprising twist during the stages.

Castle Crashers has a plethora of different things that make it fun in terms of replayability. There are several pets (called animal orbs) that can be collected throughout the stages that give you various bonuses or perks. Some are as simple as allowing a knight to jump higher, while others give more experience for each enemy defeated. There are a slew of weapons that are both well designed, and hilarious. The knights can wield anything from an ice sword to the leg of a skeleton. I even fought with a giant piece of sausage at one point. After completing the game, there is an insane mode that becomes available, which grants the ability to play through the game one more time on a much harder difficulty, but allowing more experience points to be earned. With four characters to start, and 23 total playable characters (not including downloadable/secret unlocks), 64 available weapons (not counting DLC, for PS3 there are 69), and 26 animal orbs, there is plenty to do within Castle Crashers. There are also mini games that can be played outside of the original adventure.

Graphically, Castle Crashers is a 2D side scroller, so there isn’t anything that stands out. However, everything is illustrated vibrantly, and nothing looks like anything seen in another game. It reminded me of the kind of art that we are seeing in Flash powered games now. That being said, the graphics really didn’t do anything for me. It is different, but nothing is over the top. Musically, however, the game is impressive. The soundtrack isn’t doesn’t always fit with the game, but it’s really unique in that aspect.

All in all, Castle Crashers proved that games using old formulas can still bring something new to the table and be exciting and original. The Behemoth team has done an excellent job redefining what it means for a game to be a side scrolling beat-em-up. There are many facets to this game that make it an enjoyable experience for anyone to pick up and play, and have a good time doing so. As with any game of its kind, the feeling of repetitiveness will loom overhead as the formula is constructed to only go so far. Do not take that as a fault though, as I still feel this is a solid game to have in any gamers’ collection.

Liked:
+Tired formula born anew.
+Tons of characters, weapons and collectables.
+Extremely replayable.
+Music was catchy.

Disliked:
-Repetitive
-PvP is a little one sided

Innovative:
~Weapons, Knights and Magic is all fresh and new
~Pet System
~Catchy, upbeat music

Unknown Gamer gives Castle Crashers an 8 /10.

Costume Quest – Double Fine Productions/THQ – 360

This was the review I wrote to get my job at UnknownGamer, hence the difference in style. This is probably how most of them are going to look from now on.

Game: Costume Quest
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: THQ
Genre: RPG
Release Date (NA and EU):
NA: October 19, 2010 (PS3)
EU: October 20, 2010 (PS3)
NA: October 20, 2010 (360)
Rating: ESRB E10+
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points
Console Played On: Microsoft Xbox 360

Costume Quest begins with the role of young Reynold (male) or Wren (female), who just moved into a new town around Halloween. On Halloween night, their parents insist that they should go out with each other to make new friends, but their actual goal is to ditch the sibling and come home with as much candy as possible. Either sibling (depending on your choice) is then abducted by creatures called Grubbins, who are there to take all of the candy from the unsuspecting town. Costume Quest is one of the most innovative twists on an RPG that I have seen in quite some time.

From the moment the game is turned on; the player will immediately notice that this game is unlike any normal RPG tale: the sense of humor is subtle, but it is hilarious within the story. The relationship between the main character and the sibling is easy to relate to (assuming one has a sibling to relate to) and makes for some interesting dialog and snarky remarks. The objective of Costume Quest is simple: find the sibling, while raiding the neighborhood of as much candy as possible in a door-to-door trick or treat fashion.

Throughout the course of the game, there are many side quests to obtain that have many rewards, including various objects from battle stamps to Creepy Treat Cards. The battle stamps can be equipped to each of the party members to give them different abilities in battle. These range from added HP and attack power to paralyzing an enemy for a few turns with toilet paper. Creepy Treat Cards are simply a collection that must be filled in order to complete an achievement during the game’s progression. There are also various costume parts hidden throughout the town, which are one of the games main premises and carry with them many abilities both inside and out of battle.

Battles take place by either smacking a Grubbin with your candy pail, or by fighting random Grubbins who have invaded the houses around town. It is a typical turn-based RPG in the sense that each side takes turns fighing, with the heroes generally taking the first turns. When attacking, the game prompts the player to enter a certain button or perform some action (such as rotating the joystick) to allow for more damage. Likewise, when being attacked the player can press a button accordingly and reduce the damage to the characters. This usually is the difference between life or death, so a player cannot mindlessly jam the A button like some other RPG’s allow. One of the most unique aspects of the game is that the abilities that each costume offers are incredibly well thought out for each. The player is offered the option to use the ability after three turns have passed, and every one does something different from normal damage with fire damage over time, to healing and resurrecting party members. This is usually accompanied by an amusing animation that works to highlight the characters ‘superpower-like’ ways.

The music and visuals are very fitting for the game. Musically, the game’s eerie soundtrack is soft, but powerful enough to set the tone for what’s going on within the game’s story. There are haunting soundtracks that add just a touch of suspense (but not much, compared to the cutesy graphics). The art is very clean and well manipulated, and while I noticed a little slow down during the graphically intense parts, there was nothing so overbearing that absolutely could not be overlooked. The shadows and atmosphere are key to providing this game with the Halloween-ish feel through and through.

Overall, the game was a very solid game to play, giving a new take on the traditional RPG, with elements fun enough to keep the player engaged. There is a very low level cap, so there is never a feeling of grinding out levels to beat bosses. As long as the player keeps in mind the elements of pressing a button during battle, chances are the game will not be challenging to the point where it cannot be completed. My only peeve with the game was that it felt incredibly short, with only a few areas the player was able to explore). They have recently added DLC, however, which I have not had a chance to experience yet. With over 20 quests, nine costumes, and enough dialog to keep the player from ever getting bored, this game is a must have for any gamers who love RPG’s and are looking for something that brings a new element of game play to the table. After all, how many times can anyone say they saved their sister/brother AND brought home more candy than their pillow case can hold in a single Halloween night?

Liked:
+Originality and story.
+Creative costumes/abilities.
+Refreshing RPG elements.

Disliked:
-Too short.
-Repetitive.
-Difficulty wasn’t consistent.

Innovative:
~A holiday meets an RPG.
~Amusing dialog.
~Costume utilization.

Unknown Gamer gives Costume Quest an 8/10.

Assassin’s Creed – Ubisoft – 360

(This review was written for RPGamer in an attempt to apply for their open reviewer position. This is the reason for the odd format that is clearly different than the rest of this blog.)

Title of Review: Assassin’s Creed
By: Peter XXXXXX

REVIEW
Intro:

Assassin’s Creed (AC) is one of those games that when you first pick up and play it, you know you’ve got yourself a piece of history in your hands. When it comes to originality in the gaming world, it’s very hard to find something that is so completely new and refreshing, that it simply knocks your socks off and puts a brand new pair back on. AC does just that. You are Desmond Miles, a seemingly captive individual inside a facility by the name of Abstergo. Inside, Warren Vidic and Lucy are standing next to a large table, beckoning you to lie down inside the machine. The machine extracts memory glitches from your DNA of a past life you once were. Basically, it allows the individual to relive memories of one’s earlier descendents. Enter the game’s main protagonist, and who you will be playing as 95% of the time, Altiar, a used-to-be high ranked assassin within the Hashshashin living in Masyaf. His master, Al Mualim, has stripped Altiar of all of his high ranked privileges, and it is up to you to earn them back. This is done by assassinating a few powerful officials amongst the land whose motives in life can be questioned greatly. With the ground rules set, and your objective in mind, you pick up your blade, and off you go, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, blending in with the crowd to perform your duties as promised.

Battle System:
While nothing to be completely ‘wowed’ about, AC takes a decent system and implements it well. Breaking the system down into two modes is probably the easiest way to go about it: stealth and open conflict.

While stealthy, controls are fluid. You have complete control over where Altiar’s blade goes, and with good reason. You can assassinate anyone moving and quickly move away without ever being detected. The assassinations can be done in a number of ways, from various angles and distances. The choice is yours. While fun to do, there’s not too much that can be said in the way of excitement. You’ll come to find that while the real challenge lies in trying to remain undetected, you may end up having an easier time just beating your enemies to death with swords. You’ll tend to find the main set of missions (and even some of the side missions) get really repetitive as time goes on.

In open conflict, the camera conveniently moves up to a ¾ view and gives you a very good look at what is going on. Nine times out of ten, you will be out numbered, and in the beginning of the game, this can be tedious and frustrating until you learn a specific move later in the game. You can easily switch your target simply by moving your controller stick towards the opponent you wish to fight. It’s simple, but it works really well for what you’re doing

Music and Visuals:
One of the things I noticed right off the bat was how awesome your locale looked. You felt like you were in the Middle East. I played this game on a 32” (1080p) with HDMI and the visuals were breathtaking. From every building to the people roaming around, each tree and face was taken into consideration. To put short, the location is believable.

The music was something that when you first start playing, you don’t notice it right away. In fact, it rarely plays a part in the game. However, if you listen closely you’ll notice that all of the music does fit in well with the rest of the game. The snake-charming flutes and the drums go well with the bustling town that you’re walking through. The only time I ever noticed the music getting loud was when there was absolutely nothing going on, and you were roaming the city.

Difficulty and Completion Time:
The game has its own variable difficulty, starting off relatively easy, and gradually getting harder as you progress through the game and unlock more ways to assassinate your targets. I never felt so overwhelmed while playing that I wanted to quit. On my first play through, while achievement hunting and the like, I got through the game in about 25 to 30 hours of game play. That isn’t bad, considering how many achievements I got. The game does get tedious at points, especially if you’re looking to complete all of the memory strands, and you can feel yourself grow weary of the formula. Taking it for what it is (the first entry in a continuing series), you can find it’s enough to push through. Give me this game before the sequels were out, however, and I may have become a bit bored with it.

Interface and Localization:
The interface is very clean, and fitting for the setting of the game. Your health bar is located neatly in the top left of the screen, your current weapon selection in the bottom left (this vanishes away when you aren’t utilizing it), and a mini-radar in the lower right, showing you all of your destinations and such. At any point you may hit the back button to bring up the large map and set ‘waypoints’ for yourself, which will appear on the mini-map as well. Overall, the integration of the interface is well done, providing you with the information you need, when you need it, without interference to your playability.

Originality and Story:
Hands down, the game is unique in every sense of the word. I’ve never played a game quite like it, and you’ll not find a game much like it. The story is well done, giving you a well etched timeline of Altiar’s life from the assassin’s side of things, while leaving you confounded throughout most of the game as to what role Lucy and Warren play in the story. This unfolds as you progress further into what becomes one of the most engrossing games you’ve ever played. The worst part about it all is that you don’t even get the entire story when you beat it! You’re left dazed and confused, trying to sort through the puzzle you’ve just opened up for yourself. To me, that’s what makes it all the more wonderful. A game that can leave off with such an awesome cliffhanger, and still be good, is truly an amazing feat, and one you don’t see often anymore, if much at all. Best of all, is that it isn’t a cookie cutter story of hero saves the day, or rescue the princess, but a true-blue once told story.

Conclusion:
While you may find that the game can get repetitive after the third or fourth memory glitch, that doesn’t stop Assassin’s Creed from being a great addition to your game library. Little peeves like not being able to swim, and not having much variety in your assassination missions are just small under sights to the big picture. This game ultimately sets up the story for one of the most epic story’s I’ve seen in a game since the last solid Final Fantasy game. Assassin’s Creed opened up a can of worms, and finished them all. For the first go around in the series, you cannot put Ubisoft Montreal’s efforts down the drain just yet. This game is definitely worth borrowing from a friend, if not owning your own copy.

FAST FACTS
Platform: X-Box 360
Battlesystem: 4/5
Interaction: 3.5/5
Originality:5/5
Story: 3.5/5
Music and Sound: 5/5
Visuals: 5/5
Challenge: Moderate to Hard
Completion Time: Roughly 25 to 30 hours

Overall
3.5 / 5

Highlights and Lowlights
+Original and refreshing storyline.
+Life the live of an assassin? Yes please!
+Fluid movement and battle mechanics.
-Lots of collecting little things.
-Repetitive after the fourth mission.
-You can’t swim… really?

(Rating: 7.0 / 10.0)