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5:33 PM on 06.03.2012

Syndicate Review

Publisher: EA
Developer Starbreeze Studios
Platforms: PS3, 360, Windows
Release Date: February 2012

Set in 2069, Syndicate comes as a futuristic FPS shooter. This future is a sleek and refine one, but only on the surface. The world is controlled by powerful and corrupt corporations known as syndicates who employ special Agents. These Agents are the best and most advanced assassins that money can buy.

You play as Miles Kilo, an up and coming Agent for Eurocorp. What makes him
different from the next guy? He is a bio-engineered and chip-augmented assassin like all Agents. But it gets better, he is the first to be outfitted with the newest DART 6 bio-chip.

His DART chip allows him to move faster, heal quicker, and be stronger. He also has the ability to hack into nearby machines, terminals, and other humans with chips. With the humans, he can force them to commit suicide, have their weapon backfire, or fight for Kilo for a short period of time. They kill themselves when they arenít needed.

When you get thrown into the fray, you will learn you have a slide forward feature and a slow-down-time ability. This comes in handy. Kilo is a very elite and powerful Agent, but bullets do hurt. This will force you to be creative with slowing down time, hacking into human implanted chips, and that slide feature. With the insta-kill melee button, you will be killing in style if not dying a lot.

The story behind this FPS is very shallow. There isnít a lot behind the warring syndicates who are fighting for supremacy in some market that is never explored. Of course there is a resistance of good men and women fighting the power and Kilo is sometimes sent to kill a few. What are they fighting for besides corruption?

But apparently, Lily Drawl the scientist is secretly apart of the resistance. Jules Merit and Kilo are sent to capture her because there is ďsecret informationĒ in her DART chip, but we are never told what those would be. After you kill some resistance members and track down Lily, its quite obvious you will have to go after Jack Denham, the CEO of Eurocorp.

Music is short-lived and chimes in at appropriate times. All the big tracks are very enjoyable and do compliment the cyberpunk aesthetics of Syndicate very well. Its ashamed they arenít used more frequently.

The missions are very linear, but well designed and thought-out. The combat for a shooter makes or breaks a game. Here in Syndicate, its done so well. You will need to optimize all your abilities to survive a lot of the time. There is no simple hide behind cover and pop-up and shoot. There is no simple trick to easily dispatch each squad of enemy combatants Also, they shoot to kill with great accuracy.

Along the way, you will extract chips from dead bodies to upgrade your system for more health, slow down time longer, etc. There are a number of weapons but most only become available later in the game. You will also run into unarmed civilians hiding, standing around, or running for their lives. You can shoot them or leave them alone, its your choice.

Syndicate is an FPS that doesnít use pre-rendered cutscenes. Everything is shown with the in-game engine. There are small preludes and interludes along the way with you speaking with Lily, Denham, and Merit. It is a nice change. Donít be expecting to set the controller down in-between missions or in mid way into the mission.

There is a 4-player co-op mode. But, you canít play 2-4 player offline on the same 360 or PS3 console. It is only online through SEN(PSN) or Xbox Live. Its a good thing you donít require an online pass. But the co-op mode itself is a lot of fun nonetheless. It does require each Agent to be a serious team-player. So, round up a crew of your best gamer friends and have at it.

SYNDICATE scores: 8.0

Overall, it is a generic FPS, but a damn good one. This is a kind of game that knows what its trying to do and does it well. It shatters trendy conventions that plague games today with cutscenes, forced storyline, and lame cover-and-shoot action. However, it does fall short in story and the campaign, leaving something to be desired. Hopefully, there will be a Synidcate 2 to make up for the shortcomings in this entry.   read

12:31 PM on 05.27.2012

Halo: Combat Evolved Review

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios, Macsoft
Developer: Bungie, Gearbox Software, Westlake Interactive
Platforms: Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac OS X
Release Date: November 2001

This is the best first-person sci-fi shooter on the original Xbox. Bungie and Microsoft Game Studios really hit it big when they released Halo: Combat Evolved. In November of 2001, we were introduced to an armoued-clad SPARTAN-II supersoldier, John-117 the Master Chief. For console gamers who were fans of the FPS genre found an amazing title. To this day, it remains to be the standard for console shooters.

People like shooting guns. People like wearing space armor. People like being a supersoldier known as the SPARTAN-II. We are getting Halo 4 this holiday season and the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition came out awhile ago. But lets think back to where it all started. On the Original Xbox, you got this magnificent sci-fi shooter. It didn't take long till gamers were lugging their xbox to their friends house for a night of system link.

Taking place shortly after the Fall of Reach, the Pillar of Autumn drops out of a slipspace jump. It isnít long until a Covenant fleet attacks the human starship. The game begins with Master Chief coming out of a cryogenic sleep. The spartan makes his way to the main deck to speak with Captain Keyes and Cortana. The Covenant begins to board the Pillar of Autumn leaving Keyes with no choice. It is there, the captain initiates The Cole Protocol to prevent the Covenant from learning the whereabouts of planet Earth.

Master Chief arms himself as he must fight his way to the escape pods with a band of marine soldiers. He is a spartan. Hence, making it to the escape pod and being the sole survivor of the rough landing on the Halo ring is expected. From that point on, his mission is to find marine soldiers, form a resistance, and rescue Captain Keyes held on the Truth and Reconciliation.

With the captain back, they set their sights on the finding the silent cartographer before the Covenant does. They find the control room and Cortana enters the system to learn what she can. Somehow, Keyes gets captured again and Master Chief sets out to rescue him again. On his search, he finds an ancient evil known as The Flood and the Haloís AI monitor 343 Guilty Spark.

Story aside, the gameplay and campaign is amazing. Many FPS games before were rigid and had their own distinct feel. That changed when Halo: Combat Evolved came along. The game felt so smooth on that xbox controller. The missions were filling and so well thought out. It is sad that it should end, but only to begin again in the inevitable sequel, Halo 2.

This first-person shooter plays unbelieveably well on a console, not to mention a gamepad. Although the jumping mechanics were overly exaggerated, the game plays smoothly whether you are on foot, in a vehicle, or banshee. You simply felt as though you were Master Chief himself. They are that tight.

Pull out your Magnum and zoom into the scope to pop a few grunts in the head is so satisfying. Yes, the collision detection is spot on here. Elites and their energy shields are helpless against a well-placed S2 AM sniper rifle shell or the Hunters with their exposed pink tissue. But somehow, it felt as though the Elites energy shield was better than the Chief's. Who doesn't like sneaking up on an Elite and throwing a plasma grenade on them or melee them from behind? It is the little things that make a game solid.

The music to this game is very iconic. No game is complete without a great original soundtrack. To the opening choir piece at the select screen to the opening cutscenes to The Cartographer mission, it is fantastic. It is no surprise that music in the Halo series has grown in past titles.

Where the game really shines is the Multiplayer mode. Every multiplayer map featured on this video game is iconic to the die hard fans of the series. It is one of the few games that took advantage of the Xboxís system link feature. It is where you can connect 2 to 4 Xbox systems together for massive 16-player bouts on Halo: Combat Evolved.

Halo: Combat Evolved scores: 10 out of 10

It is a perfect sci-fi first-person shooter. It is a decade old and holds up today. The controls, the campaign, the music, and multiplayer are timeless. If you donít agree with the last gen graphics, the anniversary edition features a new updated graphical look on the Xbox 360. Its only weakness, it didnít have the online multiplayer on the Xbox version. That is what the Windows and Mac versions are for! You can thank Bungie for bringing us this masterpiece.   read

6:28 PM on 05.26.2012

Rocket Knight Adventures Review

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Platforms: Sega Genesis
Release date: June 1993 in NA

In the 16-bit wars, titles on the Super Nintendo werenít particularly solid when ported over to the Sega Genesis. This leaves gamers to believe the SNES was superior. It is true Segaís 16-bit console was first released in Japan in 1988 while Nintendoís 16-bit console came out 2 years later. The truth is, which ever console the developer decides to develop for first will have the superior version.

Take a great game developer like Konami to develop a game first on the Sega Genesis. You get the man behind Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: The Hard Corps, Nobuya Nazakato to design it. The end result is an amazing sidescrolling platformer on the Sega Genesis, Rocket Knight Adventures.

When gamers refer to the 8-bit and 16-bit era as the golden age, Rocket Knight Adventure shows us why gamers call it that. The valiant hero is an armour-clad opossum with a rocket pack on his back and equipped with a double-edged sword. He is named Sparkster. The story behind our hero is a touching one. He was a war orphan raised to be a great Rocket Knight.

In his youth, his father figure Mifune Sanjulo was slain by the leader of the Rocket Knights gone rogue, Axel Gear. Naturally, Sparkster sought revenge and soon became leader of the Rocket Knights. 10 years have passed since then, Sparkster acts as an outlaw all the while searching for Axel Gear.

The game begins as Sparkster returns to his homeland, Zebulos. Axel Gear has returned. He is aligned with Emperor Devilgus Devotindos to acquire the ancient and powerful ship, The Pig Star. Sparkster will have to fight through an army of armoured pig warriors, bosses, and fly through the sky to save country and princess.

Sparkster rushes through the fields of Zebulos. Stage 1 will give you the opportunity to learn how to work your rocket pack and power attacks by charging the power gauge while you fire projectiles at armoured pig warriors. One thing you will notice, Rocket Knight Adventure plays smoothly and Sparkster is nicely animated. But donít think it will be a cake walk. In stage 2, the difficulty will ramp up and will only get tougher in later stages.

The music in this 16-bit gem is everywhere in this video game. It will easily immerse you in the adventures of Sparkster as he platforms his way to battle Axel Gear. In each new stage and occasion, the music will be there and will hum a very appropriate tune. Who said the Sega Genesis games had terrible music?

Rocket Knight Adventures scores: 9.0

It is such an excellent game on the Sega Genesis by Konami. The music, the gameplay, and the level design with a surprisingly good backstory make this game a great experience. The only flaw would be that the progression through the levels are broken up into sequences rather than being a straight forward platformer. But how else do you bring to life a badass armour-clad opossum with a rocket pack wielding a mystical sword?   read

4:45 PM on 05.24.2012

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D Review

Published by Konami
Developed by KCEJ
Platforms: PS2, Xbox 360, PS3, Vita (Coming Soon), 3DS
Released Feb 2012 in NA

It is the prequel to one of the most innovative video game franchises on your Nintendo 3DS with full 3D. It was such an amazing video game first released on the PS2. It showed us the history behind the Metal Gear series, before Solid Snake. Here we had the opportunity to learn of the events leading into Les Enfants Terribles project. But how does it fair on Nintendoís new 3D handheld?

Set in 1964, you play as CIA operative Naked Snake. It is the cold war. Russia has developed stealth nuclear missiles. So naturally, Jack will need to prove himself as he is the only man for the job. His name being Jack coupled with the start of the game might have had fans of the series raging until the Raikov mask is removed to reveal it is Snake, but not the Snake everyone knows and loves.

In the Tselinoyarsk jungle of Russia, Snake begins the Virtuous Mission to rescue Solokov, a russia scientist who is solely responsible for developing the Shagohod, the precursor to Metal Gear Rex. You learn fast that this Snake isnít wearing a bandana. This can only mean, Jack is very inexperienced. Especially when you run into his mentor who betrays the US, The Boss. His mentor is much more skilled with CQC(Close-Quarters Combat) and Jack is schooled and thrown off a bridge and plummets into a river, left for dead.

Enter Operation: Snake Eater and drop back into the Tselinoyarsk jungle. Naked Snake has only had a few weeks to recover from the Virtuous Mission. With the new game mechanics of the stamina bar and fixing your own injuries makes Snake very human and vulnerable, unlike in past games. Camouflage also becomes more important which will effect how well guards can detect you. Crouching and the prone position with cover behind trees and in tall grass goes a long ways. But this means, you will be running into your inventory a whole lot more. It can be annoying in pressing times.

This is why for adult gamers, its best to begin this Metal Gear game with a Circle Pad Pro. The docking bay the 3DS came with does the job as well. It will feel cumbersome at times with the 3DS design and the small screen. But after you come to get comfortable with the controls and the feel of the 3DS on this massive game in that small cartridge, it will become enjoyable.

For the long time fans of the series, it is the same Metal Gear you remember. The long cutscenes are there, everyone likes to talk like you remember, and Naked Snake canít help checking out EVA on every occasion. But it wonít be a breeze, this is one of the more difficult Metal Gear games in the series.

You will run into a young Ocelot multiple times. These encounters can be comical. The bosses in this Metal Gear game are known as the Cobra unit who fought in WWII with The Boss. There is The End, The Fury, The Fear, The Pain, and The Sorrow. They arenít easy. Some easier than others. This is where you will be fighting with the 3DS and its controls.

This game is 8 years old. On Nintendoís handheld, the seams to this cold war era set game will peel, graphical wise. However, this does not hurt the game. You will be too occupied with the gripping gameplay, the amazing story, and the crouch grabbing going on.

The biggest changes to come to this port are the touch screen and the 3D. The 3D is quite excellent and well integrated. The touch screen introduces a HUD with all the options, a map, and your vitals at your finger tips. The touch screen is the new feature you will be clinging to more than youíd like.

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D scores: 8.0

This 3DS title definitely showcases the depth of the handheldís capabilities. It might be 8 years old, but the story and gameplay still stand strong. It is an excuse to relive the events of the Virtuous Mission and Operation: Snake Eater on Nintendo hardware. How many yoshi dolls can you find? For newcomers to the series, it is a good place to start as it is the earliest in the storyline. Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D is a solid game.   read

4:57 PM on 05.22.2012

Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee Review

Published by Atari
Developed by Pipeworks Software
Platforms: Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox
Released October 2002 in NA

Godzillaís venture into video games hasnít been a kind one outside of Japan. That could not bring down the King of the Monsters for his roar is still loud and heard by all. The new century has brought out the best of the atom-breathing giant. The franchise has seen a resurgence with the popularity of the films and a handful of new video games on the sixth generation consoles. So dust off your Nintendo Gamecube and try this amazing fighter out.

Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee on the Nintendo Gamecube destroys all the terrible video games before it that tarnished his image. This fighting game is the Godzilla game fans have asked for. Any fan of the films will recognize each of monster featured in this fighter. You get to play as 90ís Godzilla, Godzilla 2000, Megalon, Angurius, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Destroyah, Gigan, Mecha-King Ghidorah, and Mecha-Godzilla. Take your pick.

On the surface, its your standard fighting game with special moves, health bar, and energy bar with a timer. In Adventure Mode, you fight your way through familiar foes until you reach Mecha-Godzilla. It is not easy for newcomers with only 3 continues. But, once you know the inís and outís of the video game, you will be able to breeze through Adventure Mode with ease.

Once you beat Adventure Mode with one monster, you will unlock a new monster. This becomes very important since you only begin the game with 90ís Godzilla and Angurius to start with. Donít forget, each monster has a new style and new set of moves to master. Its a nice incentive for gamers who want to play as each monster in the roster. With all the time you spend in Adventure Mode and Survival Mode, you will be a master. It will be tough to convince friends to a few matches in Versus Mode.

The real fun to be had with friends is in Melee Mode, Team Battle Mode, and Destruction Mode. In Melee Mode, it is a 2-4 player free-for-all in a set of rounds to rack up the points accumulated from KOís, knockdowns, successful combos, and health bonus. The player at the end of the rounds with the most points becomes the Melee Champ.

Team Battle Mode is your more straight forward team set fighting mode. Round up 3-4 of your friends to be teamed up in either blue team or red team. Pick your favourite monster, donít hit your teammate, and work together to get the highest score! The end result should be either a lot of fun or loss of friends.

In case you are tired of pwning your friends in versus, team versus, and free-for-all versus modes, try Destruction Mode! Here, it is 2-4 players and the goal isnít to beat on each other, but rather destroy everything on the map. Is there anything better than playing as Godzilla and destroying Tokyo faster than your friends?

Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee scores: 8.5

It is a solid fighting game featuring your favourite monster, Godzilla. The only problem, defeating your old foes will get old. There is nothing beyond unlocking all the monsters and getting together with 3 friends with all the 4-player modes. When all is said and done, Godzilla will swim off into the ocean to raid again another day and so will you.

This video game does give good reason to hookup that old Gamecube. If you are trying to find good games to add to your Gamecube collection, this would make a great addition. In any case, definitely give this video game a try, it is published by Atari after all.   read

10:22 AM on 05.22.2012

The month of April is the month of Metal Gear Solid

The month of April. It has been tough. It was cold. It was a struggle. It was a test of spirit. I was taken to the brink. But I fought back from the edge of time in my mission. I was sent to Shadow Moses Island, a remote location in Alaska. And things have never been the same since... They have just been getting worse ever since.

War... War has changed. Genetic clones. Foxdie. Nanomachines. Rex. Genome Soldiers. VR Training. Ray. CQC. The Bandana. FOX-HOUND. Les Enfants Terribles. GW. Outer Haven. SOP. PMC. War has
changed. It is the Metal Gear Solid series...

Metal Gear Solid:†The Twin Snakes

In the month of April, I found myself with nothing but time and MGS 1-4 in my possession. One day, I turned on my Nintendo Wii and popped in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. I figured Iíd start a file and play for an hour or two. 11 hours later, yeah, I beat Twin Snakes. Crocodile.
It's hard to be mad at yourself when you promised yourself just a few hours and ended up beating the game. Canít complain because that play through was so sweet and this time Meryl lived! No stupid ride
into the sun filled horizon with Otacon.

Metal Gear Solid 2:†Sons of Liberty

Later that same night, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was calling me. I couldnít help myself. I was hooked. However, this was some uncharted waters in my experience. In MGS: The Twin Snakes, I beat the Playstation version a month prior. So, it was a second playthrough.

Why was I so psyched to dig into MGS2? I wanted to learn about Raiden and the whole canon of Metal Gear Solid. So it was easy for me. Better yet, the game hadnít changed much from MGS1. Basically, furthering the story, new villains, The Big Shell, and new playable character, Raiden. From the two playthroughs of MGS1, I felt confident and very seasoned. Went on Hard, No Radar, Discovery means Game Over, because that is how I roll.

This was a totally different experience from MGS1. The first MGS game established the Tactical Espionage Action genre, the story of Metal Gear and the background of Solid Snake and FOX-HOUND. Now we have MGS2, this one was totally a trip in a half. Seriously, by the end of the game, my head was spinning with the wild final climax of it all.

Naked Raiden. President Johnson going around grabbing crotches. GW glitching out from EEís worm. Fission Mailed. Countless Metal Gear Rays. Jack the Ripper. Solidus Snake a perfect clone of Big Boss. The Patriots. My brain went haywire from all the awesome MGS2 had flooding out in the final bits of the game. What a ride. I loved it all. Crocodile again.

Metal Gear Solid:† Snake Eater 3D

So what did I do later that night? You guessed it, I jumped into Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. I am Naked Snake this time around. Thatís right, I have MGS3 on the 3DS. But, Iíll tell you, that was a mistake (Laugh). The 3DS felt very uncomfortable with a game of this quality until I started playing the 3DS with the docking bay attached at all times. It was easier on my hands. No more cramps! Better yet, get the Circle Pad Pro.

I got the game in March. And I played a bit of it when I first got it. But I thought it best to stop because I knew nothing of the Metal Gear canon. Yes, blame the 3DS for causing me to explore the Metal Gear canon. Making me dig up MGS on Playstation and buying MGS2 on PS2 and MGS4 on PS3.
This one had a different twist on the Metal Gear series. You had to hunt for food to keep your stamina bar up. If you got injured, you had to treat all your wounds, burns, lacerations, broken bones, and gunshots. It forced you to rely on camouflage a lot. Yes, in this game, camouflage, silencers on your weapons, and your tranquilizer gun are more important than ever. But you did have infinite regenerating health depending how full your stamina bar is.

For myself, this one was the most annoying with the constant bringing up the menu for items, injuries, cameo, weapons, or codec. On the 3DS, it took me awhile to learn to actually equip weapons. No one told me I had to hold down the button to choose switch weapons to equip! Or it did and I wasnít paying attention. But after that, it got better, but it still wasnít a cake walk.

Again I was playing on Hard and Discovery means Game Over. 3DS forced me to use the radar which I didnít like. So with all these odds against me and the design of the 3DS did not make my playthrough a pleasant one. My mind was almost conceiving the idea to snap my 3DS in half or tossing it across the room. But, Iíd never think it.

All in all, I still loved this prequel to the Metal Gear series. I kept asking myself, ďif this takes place in 1964, how old is Snake in MGS1? Is Ocelot, Revolver Ocelot?Ē It all made sense in the end.
Major Zero got hilarious near the end. Double-O-Snake. Always had a good laugh to hear how Snake would comment on what I made him eat. They loved to play up EVAís sex appeal. Naked Snake always staring at her chest or bottom. Disguised as a scientist, the glasses killed me. Naked Snake disguised as a scientist equals Ocaton. Then later, Raikov, Raidenís russian counterpart. ďKovĒ at the end of everything makes you russian. Another crotch grab by Colonel Volgin cupping Naked Snake disguised as Raikov. Later, Raikovís locker has a Raiden sneaking suit and a poster of Metal Gear Solid 2. Awesome.

I spent 8 hours one whole day trying to beat Colonel Volgin. Seriously, I am not lying. A lot of learning about Volginís behaviour, what I canít and cannot do, how I was suppose to actually beat him. Took me that long. But after that, I blew through the game. Next day I beat it. Crocodile.

[size=18]Metal Gear Solid 4:†Guns of the Patriots

It was time for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patroits on the PS3. First thing, 8 minute installation, watching Old Snake smoke and all these messages telling me that smoking is bad, donít play while you are tried, take a break every 15 minutes, etc. But let me tell you, it was very refreshing from the stifling experience of MGS3 and the wild ride of MGS2.

In the beginning I was apprehensive. The opening monologue from Old Snake was a downer. I knew he was old in this one, but I didnít want to accept Solid Snake could be vulnerable by something like age or disease. And I really felt the gravity of the world and what it became. It was a bleak one.

I started on Big Boss hard. I was forced to use radar again and no option for Discovery means Game Over. But now I had dual analog sticks and a fine third person shooter on my hands. So naturally, I didnít care about stealth or Alert Mode. I just M4íd my through stages and using all my credits for ammo.
The twist in this one was they wanted to push the stress gauge on us, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But there was also the octocamo suit you had. Like a chameleon, you can take on the texture and color of whatever you touched. And Old Snakeís health goes down so fast, but it regenerates if you just lie down or crouch like in MGS3. I often forgot about this and relied heavily on the items, until I found regenerating was much better.

War had changed. Everyone has nanomachines in them. War is the life blood on the economy market. Everything is controlled and maintained by the Patriots. But you had Old Snake, you had Ocaton, you had Sunny and they all stayed in the Nomad, a carrier aircraft. You knew Raiden would make an appearance. They kept talking about Naomi Hunter.

So you learn Snake was genetically modified to be unable to reproduce and only live for so long. And when the whole gang gets together, you feel better about yourself. You actually liked that this is the first MGS for the good guys to have a base of operations to rest and regroup in between operations. It was great to have Sunny, Raiden, Ocaton, Naomi, and Old Snake within the Nomad. They need each other. They're family.

The bosses were relatively easy in this one. They werenít overly cryptic or very difficult to deliver damage compared to MGS3. Just get them caught off guard and spray bullets at them. My favourite was Crying Wolf. Iíll leave it at that.

Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4 ties everything together. Everything! The highlight being, Metal Gear Rex vs. Metal Gear Ray. Face camo of Metal Gear Solid 1 Solid Snake! You can go around with MGS1ís blocky 90ís polygon head!

All in all, great freaking game. I got Bear this time. They do over do it with the cutscenes in this one. In some instances, its a complete departure from stealth in this game. But Act 4 does make up for everything.

Its Over!

That does it for this blog. I must end it there. I don't want to start repeating myself. If you stuck with me this long, you are awesome.

No place for hideo. DM out.   read

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