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Corduroy Turtle avatar 2:28 PM on 01.13.2011
The Buy It/Avoid It Report :: Issue #001



Without making too big of a deal about it, I've been at Destructoid for over a year now! I've made a bunch of new gaming buddies (the illustrious 360 FNF Crew), twiddled my writing fingers a bit and enjoyed the hell out of every minute. It's said all the time but perhaps not enough: this site is amazing! Thanks for doing your part to make Destructoid what it is today.

I have changed a lot over the past year. I finally got glasses which I resisted for a long time but enjoy very much now. Seeing clearly is a beautiful thing. Also, since my hairline decided to recede ever so slightly, I immediately grew a mustache to compensate. It's working out pretty well so far except for the fact that when I look in a mirror my father looks back at me.

These things are not important to you, dear reader. What is important, is what exactly is causing my vision to deteriorate and hair to fall out? The short answer: videogames. Allow me to explain. Whether or not you decide to follow me down this dark path or avoid it all together is up to you. From the looks of it, 2011 is just another insane year full of great titles! I've recently completed the home console trifecta so I won't be missing a beat.

Let's go!

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Ilomilo
Xbox LIVE Arcade

>> Here's a cynical jerk-off synopsis of Ilomilo: "Two cutesy pillow friends get separated in a world of blocks and you have to walk their little gay asses around until they find each other." Well jerk-off, you're right. However, there is a subtle genius to this game that deserves to be explored. I wasn't convinced of this at first because, like most games, the tutorial is built into the early stages. Since you can switch control between the two characters at anytime, you'll have to use teamwork to get through the labyrinth of cubes and obstacles. You'll pass blocks back and forth, hit switches for each other, and even grab collectables strewn throughout the worlds.

Speaking of the worlds themselves, they're incredibly cute and polished. Hopefully the bright, colorful graphics will distract you from some of the inevitable frustration you'll no doubt experience because this game can get pretty tough. The evil twist to this whole equation is that there is no "up" in the world of Ilomilo and you'll have to explore every surface before you can ultimately complete your happy pillow quest.

BUY IT if you can handle a tough challenge slathered from head-to-toe with DAAAWWWW.

AVOID IT if you've ever been described by friends and family as a cynical jerk-off.


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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Playstation 3

>> Uncharted 2 was a game that I quietly envied from across the fence, knowing that someday I would get around to it. So, now that I have a PS3, it's time to see what all the fuss is about! With the crazy amount of attention it got when it was released at the end of 2009, it was impossible for me to not have any expectations going in. What's impressive is that some of those lofty expectations were exceeded, by a lot. For instance, this game looks simply magnificent. The vistas and set pieces are breathtaking. I often stood still, nitpicking the scenery, trying to find the "trick". How did they fool me into thinking the game looked this good? Well, I never figured it out so case closed; the game is fucking pretty. On top of that, it has a decent (if not painfully predictable) story. It's not terrible and it stands up next to any other comedy/action script out there.

The only stain on what was an overall completely enjoyable experience was the gunplay. It's tough to put my finger on it but something just wasn't overly satisfying about it. In the end, I enjoyed my journey with Uncharted 2. It was a wild ride speckled with plenty of WTF moments and cheesy dialog, just as I suspected.

BUY IT if you really hated the last Indiana Jones movie and need a pallet cleanser.

AVOID IT if you're sick of seeing the charismatic hero stumble through impossible situations over...and over.

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Infinity Blade
iPhone

>> I originally scoffed at the idea of owning an iPhone. I scoffed. Eventually though, I caved. I signed the two year contract, but was I going to play games on it? Hell no. I had a DS and multiple consoles at home. What did I need another gaming platform? The answer is: THIS. Infinity Blade blew my stubborn close-mind wide open. It's nothing short of a quantum leap forward in mobile gaming as far as I'm concerned. It's basically a fantasy game told through a series of boss battles. The combat is simple and works perfectly on the touch screen. There is a ton of equipment to unlock and best of all, you're encouraged to use every item since the leveling system hinges off maxing each of them out. It's an elegant system built to make sure that the player uses everything they come across and I loved it.

The most common negative thing I hear about Infinity Blade is that it's short, which is only half true. You can get from beginning to end in less than a half an hour. The truth of the matter is that I went through this game over 15 times. When you reach the God King at the top of the tower for the first time, you will most likely die. However, all is not lost. You start back at the beginning, after 20 or so years have passed, playing as your son. Thankfully, you get to keep all your experience and equipment. Out for vengeance, you battle your way back to the God King all over again.

BUY IT if you still need to be convinced the iPhone is a real gaming machine.

AVOID IT if seeing the words "LEVEL UP!" makes you want to "THROW UP!"

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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Xbox LIVE Arcade

>> What is the best way to re-imagine a classic, tired franchise that just celebrated it's 30th birthday? Jazz it up with neon visuals and lower the difficulty considerably! For me, this is exactly what Pac-Man needed. In fact, some of Pac's arcade brethren could learn a lot from this. The folks at Namco have taken the core gameplay elements of this series and blended them with some modern day amenities like the oh-shit-bomb and bullet-time. No longer are you dodging random ghosts in a vacant sprawl of corridors. As you zip past sleeping ghosts, they'll wake up and join the angry horde. This trail of followers can get quite long and eventually becomes a hazard in and of itself. Like Snake, it forces you to carefully choose your path as to not run into your procession. The payoff to all this is that once you grab the power pellet you can spin around and devour the entire lot of them. It's incredibly satisfying and more importantly, addictive.

There are multiple boards to play on and the graphic style and music can all be customized to suit your personal taste. One board in particular is especially interesting due to it's constantly changing layout. Clearly inspired by Gauntlet and the original Legend of Zelda, "Dungeon" forces you to think on your feet and make quick decisions because you're never truly comfortable with your surroundings. Pretty neat.

BUY IT if you just can't get enough of everyone's favorite pill-popping ghostbuster.

AVOID IT if you spent all your arcade years collecting tickets from the skee ball machine.

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Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam
Xbox 360 - DLC

>> The Battlefield Bad Company 2 multiplayer experience was an eye-opener for me. I didn't think a realistic military shooter could grab me but BFBC2 did just that, holding my attention for a better part of last year. Thanks to this expansion, I've rekindled my love for this game and added it back in my personal playlist of nightly entertainments. Great teamwork mechanics and objective-based gameplay are the meat and potatoes here. If you've shied away from these types of games because you couldn't keep up with the K/D fanatics, don't worry; there's something for everyone. The go-getters can pick the Assault, campers can chill with the Recon, vehicle enthusiasts can roll with the Engineer, and passive supportive types can fall back on the Medic.

What Vietnam does for $15 is pretty stunning. Instead of just tossing you a few extra maps like COD, you get a whole package. New vehicles, weapons, and character skins all wrapped in a great new setting. DICE really nailed the time period by adding a news reel effect to the overview maps, complete with war footage and a narrator to explain each one. Music is another huge addition. When you hop in a vehicle now you'll hear some great 70s tunes coming from the radio like CCR, The Kinks and Jefferson Airplane. You can even change the channel if the current song playing doesn't suit your mood. Players in your general vicinity will hear the music blaring out of the speakers too as you fly past them in a Jeep. It's a great effect that perfectly accents the feeling of the time period. Bravo.

BUY IT to support full-featured, immersive DLC that is truly worth the asking price.

AVOID IT if the original Bad Company 2's focus on teamwork left a bad taste of cooperation in your mouth.

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PixelJunk Shooter
Playstation Network

>> As silly as it may seem, PixelJunk Shooter was a big reason I got myself a PS3. Playing as a rescue ship, you are tasked with delving into a dangerous cavern to save stranded scientists. What you find, as you go deeper and deeper, are various creatures and defense systems that will do whatever they can to keep you from completing your objective -- typical dual-stick shooter stuff. Keeping your ship cool replaces a life bar so environmental hazards are often more dangerous than the enemies that confront you. It also has a co-op mode that I've yet to try for lack of a second controller.

Things get interesting when they introduce the various liquids that will become both your ally and your enemy as you progress. Initially, you only have to deal with water and lava. Water can cool your ship and is used to solidify pools of lava. The lava, on the other hand, will kill you in an instant but has some interesting uses of it's own. Eventually ice, toxic fumes, and a strange magnetic liquid (or ferrofluid) are introduced, which pose new threats and opportunities. Though it's on the short side, the quality of the content more than makes up for it. I'm (literally) frothing at the mouth for PixelJunk Shooter 2, which should release later this year. Yes please!

BUY IT if seeing simulated chemical reactions and liquid physics cause blood to flow to your happy parts.

AVOID IT if the lack of difficulty or graphical detail can sour what would normally be an awe-inspiring experience.

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That's it for the first issue of the Buy it/Avoid it Report in 2011! I was encouraged by your kind words last year and I have decided to put these out more frequently. It won't necessarily follow a strict time schedule but more of one based on quantity. Once I play around 5-7 new games, I'll throw out another issue. These are really fun to write and I appreciate you taking the time to check them out! See you next time.

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