Whats up everyone. I'm Steve if you haven't already guessed. And I do a lot of crap with gaming apparently. I used to host over at XBL Radio but I decided to start my own show up as well as my own site. So I started up a new podcast called, "The Gamers Pub." This show is about beer and games because thats what I know and enjoy best. The show comes out once a week on Monday mornings, you really should check it out, www.thegamerspub.com. The best thing you can do is just let us know what you think about the show, because after all, it is for you gamers out there. Besides that I also run the website, Platform Nation. Now this site is a little bit different then others. Platform Nation is a collaboration of several gaming podcasts who decided it would be best for our gamers, the podcasters and the rest of the gaming community if they came together to share efforts. Together we have a larger voice in the community for the gamers that we strive to speak for. We share the same forums and for the most part, share the same listeners. After all, we are a community, not a network. We have a shared set for forums for all the sites, forums.platformnation.com where we might not all have the same listeners for all the shows but the forums provide us with a place to bs with gamers from all different prospectives or ways of life. We seem to always have contests going on over there as well as weekly Saturday Night Gaming Nights where the community gets together for some friendly fragging or whatever else we are playing that day.
Here are some pics for you all to see what I'm about
Our gaming night pre-reqs
Me with the D-toid Robot
World of Conflict girl
Sword of the New World girl with the guys from XBL Radio
Husky Hog with us on some Halo action
I was invited to the Crackdown Community Event at Microsoft
And lets finish it of with my sexy wife
So thats me, I guess. I'm just a regular gamer who records myself talking and puts it out as a show.
That will be the live feed of Platform Nation's Playapalooza '08. Now right now you probably wont see anything on the video, but on August 14 at 2pm Pacific time you will see our live stream.
Now let me give you guys a little info about just what is going on. We, several of the staff members of Platform Nation and some of our gaming community, are going to be gaming for 50 hours straight, that's right, 50 hours. Right now your probably thinking to yourself, why? Well I'll tell you, we're gaming to help out those that can't. What is going on is we have teamed up with several developers and publishers to play their games during those 50 hours and in return, everything that they have donated for Playapalooza '08, will then be turned around and given directly to those at the Child's Play Charity which is dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 40 hospitals worldwide, during this years Penny Arcade Expo. So if you to want to help out with Playapalooza '08, you to can donate to our cause.
Rest assured, 100% of what you donate will go directly to Child's Play. And if you have any games that you want to donate (they must be new and unopened for Child's Play) please contact myself at Steve@platformnation.com. I'll be happy to talk with you about this. For more info on Playapalooza '08 please check out our press release here.
If you would like to try to game with us, on the Xbox 360 we will be gaming under the gamertag of Steve519 and while on the Playstation 3 our PSN ID is Steve519
Here we have some great gameplay video for the next version of Motor Storm Pacific Rift. Trust me, you want to see this one, the amount of improvements that have been made in this will really make me want to pick this up as soon as it comes out. Come watch some single player and even some split screen play.
Game Review: Ninja Gaiden 2 Release: June 03, 2008 Genre: Action Developer: Tecmo Available Platforms: Xbox 360 Players: 1 MSRP: $59.99 ESRB Rating: Mature Website: xbox.com/en-US/games/n/ninjagaiden2
(The game itself does not look like the screenshots I'm using for this write-up. All of these images have been beautified from the team at Tecmo and Microsoft.)
How should I sum up Ninja Gaiden 2? I guess the easiest way to sum it up is to tell you about it. Here is a little description of the game that is taken directly from Xbox.com
[quote]Ninja Gaiden II makes its long-awaited debut on Xbox 360 as the blockbuster action-packed sequel to Ninja Gaiden. Ninja Gaiden II features a new and improved game engine, developed from the ground up exclusively for Microsoft and Xbox 360 by Team Ninja and legendary game developer Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of the famed Dead or Alive franchise.
Guide Ryu Hayabusa on a mission to avenge his clan and prevent the destruction of the human race. Armed with an assortment of ninja weaponry, help Ryu to skillfully maneuver through a world fraught with peril and danger. Ninja Gaiden II features an all-new gameplay engine, new auto-health regeneration system, levels, adventures, enemies, and thrilling combat with an extensive assortment of ninja weaponry, representing a true evolution of the highly popular franchise.[/quote]
Now why did I just tell you what they said? Well, that's because I feel that it isn't worth my time and effort to come up with something new. Kind of what Team Ninja did when they released Ninja Gaiden 2. Now, I'm not doing a full review of this games because the game just got old and, like I said before, this isn't anything really new. I've been there, done that and, for that reason, this game was a major turn off for me. Let me go ahead and get right into the scores.
Graphics: B The cut scenes in Ninja Gaiden 2 look extremely nice, its essentially like watching a CGI movie right on your big screen TV (for those of you that own big screen TVs). And remember the way the first Ninja Gaiden stunned you when it came out for the original Xbox? Well I'm sorry to tell you but your not going to get that feeling again, at least not from this sequel of the franchise. Except for more blood and more decapitation animations there isn't really anything new in the visual department. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing because of how great the first version looked, but when you realize that Ninja Gaiden 1 came out in February of 2004, it really does leave a lot to be desired. With 4 years and 2 remakes later I guess I just wanted to see that step up that I was hoping for out of Ninja Gaiden 2. Even with all this, that graphics still really are not that bad, just don't expect to be blown away with them.
Sound: B- Nothing in Ninja Gaiden 2 as far as sound goes will really impress you. Everything is done pretty well but this seems to take after the graphics category where nothing is really original. Everything kind of sounds a lot like the first iteration of the game, so that really means one of two things. Either the first Ninja Gaiden 1 did everything right, or just Ninja Gaiden 2 seems to have nothing new to the table. The throwing stars sound like throwing stars (at least the way I would imagine), the jumping sounds like jumping and the blades clanking when the hit against each other sound like blades clanking against each other. I do have one issue with the audio, and this is why I gave it a B- instead of a B: the character dialog. It just seems really dry to me, not just the lines but the way the characters are saying the lines.
Gameplay: B As gameplay is one of the most important things that I look for in my games, this is also one of the things that I judge the hardest. Lets all be upfront with each other about what Ninja Gaiden has always been, a hack and slash game. It is nothing more than that right there. Now there are several different combos that you can do and you can master. And speaking of mastering combos, Ninja Gaiden 2 does a pretty decent job rewarding you in doing so. For pretty much every combo in the game, when done correctly you will earn an Xbox Achievement. I actually felt that this is kind of nice because the game is rewarding you for learning and mastering the proper way to go about it. Besides that though, you can actually beat most of the levels with just the A and Y button, trust me, it isn't that difficult to do. Add in your blocking and timing and you will, for the most part, breeze right though the game, that is, until you get to the boss battles. Luckily right before each big battle there is a save point, the reason for this is because as the game goes on, you will end up using that save point more and more as you die. This is where Ninja Gaiden wore on me in the past and it will in this one too. For some gamers, the bosses will get so frustrating that they will drive you to the point where the game isn't enjoyable for you anymore. This type of gameplay doesn't mean that your not good at games, it just means that the developer doesn't seem to care about reaching the gaming audience as a whole. That instead they seem to care only about those that enjoy these extremely annoying battles, and if you are one of those types of gamers, the type that wants those long hard fought out battles, then Ninja Gaiden 2 is the game for you. That is why even though I seemed to trash the gameplay of Ninja Gaiden 2, I still game it a B, because if you are the target audience, you will surly enjoy this game.
Controls: B While overly complex at times, you will get the hang of it. Your pretty much use the block, hard strike, jump and the thumbstick the most. As the game goes on your need to start mastering the controller more and more if you want to be successful at the game but you will learn it over time. Still though, Ninja Gaiden 2 isn't your pick up and play type of game. It definitely has a learning curve.
Replay/Multiplayer: C Probably the weakest point in this game is the replay. Now Ninja Gaiden 2 is a single player game, it does this in a era when almost every other major game has some type of online multiplayer. Now I won't mark Ninja Gaiden 2 down for this, but at the same time I refuse to overlook the fact. Other then online leaderboards, there really is no way in interact with your friends. And, unless your the type of player that will go back and beat this game over again after you did it the first time, there really isn't any replay value either. Now, if you are that type, I guess you're in luck because there are many difficulties that you can play this on as well as online Master Ninja Tournament that will be happening at later dates. This, however, for the majority of gamers, isn't something that we will be participating in nor would we play it again after beating it the first time.
Value: B- With the lack of a replay value and the cost of 59.99 I am really not a fan of the value. Yes the game looks pretty, but in the end its just a beautified single player hack and slash that doesn't seem worth 59.99.
Overall: B- As I said before, Ninja Gaiden 2 really doesn't seem to bring that much new to the table. Maybe it was because of the two releases between this version and the original but everything thing seems to have been done that this seems nothing more then like an add-on pack or map-pack to a game like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Now you might say that just shows how well the first one was made. I'll give you that but, nevertheless, I wanted more and that is something that I didn't get from this title. But, with all that being said, the game still has its good points at times and can be enjoyable. Just don't count on anything new.
Steve's Bottom Line If you liked the first 3 entries in this franchise (Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden Sigma) then you'll surely want to pick this up. If not, stay away as this will not be the game for you.
Game Review: Race Driver: GRID Release: June 03, 2008 Genre: Racing Developer: Codemasters Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3,PC Players: 1-12 MSRP: $59.99(Xbox 360 and PS3) $39.99(PC) ESRB Rating: Everyone Website: racedrivergrid.com
Let me start off by letting you all know that I'm really not a racing genre fan. Driving around in souped up cars is not something that really "drives" my interest. Games like Forza or Grand Turismo seem to bore me after a couple hours because, to me, they are lacking something. That something is called fun. But, on the other side of the spectrum, there are games like Burnout, which is extremely exciting and fun, but after a while becomes monotonous and starts to tire and wear on you. Codemasters has found the sweet spot between fun, excitement and realism. With games like Dirt, Colin McRae's series having been developed by Codemasters, I kind of knew what I was getting into: racing that was fast, sort of realistic, a tad bit of over the top, and a whole lot of fun. Once again Codemasters pulled through with GRID. I knew what I was getting into and I love it.
Graphics: A- You're not going to get a Grand Turismo level of graphics with GRID, but you will get something that is very good. The tracks in the game are very beautiful and I really wouldn't expect anything less. The cars in the game are sometimes amazing and other times lacking. I've noticed that this really depends on the value of the car itself. Some of the lower end cars almost look last gen, it doesn't seem like the team really put time into these cars, instead they seemed to focus on the high end, expensive cars. And these cars look extremely good, especially when looking around your car or while driving in the cockpit view, which looks so nice in certain cars that even if it is harder to drive in this view you will tend to want to, just because of how well it looks on your television. While we are talking about the cars, I have to tell you that one thing that's extremely important in GRID is the crashes and destructible cars and this is another area where the game excels in. The visuals on the car damage is excellent, several areas of each car is destructible and when you crash into walls or other cars you will see it and it looks great. Even though most racing games tend to spend most of the time tweaking the visuals on just the tracks and cars, you can tell that Codemasters spent quite a bit of time working on car damage and for that I'm extremely grateful because this is something that I notice the most and this is what I love the most about the visuals. The only thing that doesn't really appeal to me in this game is the visual effect that you see when you are driving extremely fast, the motion blur. Now I understand that when you are driving at around 150 mph things won't be completely clear, but in the game it seems like a distraction more then anything else. Other then this, the game is very visually appealing.
Sound: B Probably one of the weakest points in the game is the audio. The cars sound good, the crashes sound great, the in game music is decent but GRID has nothing that sets it apart from every other game. Now I'm not sure if the team at Codemasters actually captured every different car sound like what's done in Grand Tursimo and to be honest, that's not really necessary in this game. All the cars sound the way you think they would sound, but at the same time, nothing seems to stand out from the pack of the racing games genre. The crashes in the game, do however, sound pretty nice. I love hearing some of the collisions that happen when I was crashing into walls are other cars but at the same time, just like the prior comment, there is still nothing that makes this stand out. There is several other things that you will notice while driving like the crowd noise when you drive next to the stands, the audio that is present when your slip-streaming off of other cars or when there is a engine from a car right behind you in your rear speakers, all of this sounds good but at the same time all of this has been done before at some time.
Gameplay: A For me and for what I enjoy from my games, the gameplay in GRID really seems to make it stand out of the crowd. The game has several different types of races, all ranging from drifts races, destruction derby's, head to head, normal races, and even the Le Mans 24 hour race (which is in an accelerated 24 minute format) among with a few more game types. With all these different types of races and different tracks this is where the game really excels. Just doing the races itself is loads of fun but when you add the instant replay feature (the ability to rewind and replay/redo a part of the race), the team rankings, the individual rankings, earning sponsors and the Xbox 360 Achievements (sorry you PS3 and PC users) you will see how much fun this game is. I find myself always trying to excel over everyone else so I can earn more money, buy new cars, get new sponsors and unlock new events. I am constantly trying to unlock new features. One of the new things that really helps the gameplay in GRID is the rewind feature, a single player only feature that allows you to essentially redo areas of the race where you can either replay the spot where you totaled your car or maybe just a turn that you scrubbed and maybe lost a few spots on the standings. Now at the beginning of the game this really isn't a feature that you use quite often but the further you advance in the game the most useful this feature will be as the races tend to get more and more difficult. Other then that, I have to say that GRID, as a whole, is just a really fun game. While I have at times became extremely frustrated at the game, I have loved every minute of it.
Controls: B The controls are a lot like the graphics. All done in a very nice way but nothing that stands out. Everything is really simple, you have gas and brakes done with the triggers (all on the 360 version), camera view changes down with on the of bumpers, steering with the left thumbstick, panning around your car with the right thumbstick. Its all like almost every other racing game. Nothing special but all really simple and easy to pick up and play
Replay/Multiplayer: B+ There are so many races in this game and so much to do. There are nine (ten if you count the head to head race that you get after you finish all nine races in each section) in each class in each division of the game. Along with that, there is another global division that is opened after you finish a number of events. So running out of new races is something that will not happen any time soon. What you will run short of is different tracks and locations. There is only something like seven different world locations and around 40-50 different tracks. This is what I feels, hurts the replay value of the game. Another feature of this game is the online multiplayer. Its, for the most part, pretty well put together. I did several online player matches playing against people mostly from Europe as they received the game early. I played around ten to fifteen online matches and I was pleasantly surprised to only experience lag in one match, and that was very brief. The lobby system was done in a nice way, the host selects if there is car damage, catch up, race length and a couple other things. After each race instead of the host picking the next race (always to his advantage) everyone in the lobby votes on what the next event is. This was a surprise to me as I really haven't seen any other game implement this into the online the way its done it GRID. Its kind of a good and bad thing I guess. At times when I'm hosting I would like to only pick certain races but you can not do this with the voting system. Everyone as a whole has say in what event is done next and the majority of the vote determines the next race.
Value: B GRID, like every other "next-gen" game has a price of 59.99 on the consoles and 39.99 on the PC. The price is fitting I guess because it does have a pretty good replay value and very good gameplay but on a game where there are several areas that are well done but at the same time, they don't stand out, I would have loved to see it dropped by ten dollars on all consoles.
Overall: A- As someone that really doesn't like racing games, GRID draws me into it and I really have enjoyed almost every minute. As a whole, this game is a great package with almost every aspect of the game having a very solid score from myself, I really want to urge you all to check this game out. With the crashes, the replays and just the amount of events in this game you wont run out of things to do any time soon. And this is something that I can easily see myself going back to a several months from now just like I still do with DiRT.
Steve's Bottom Line If you have enjoyed any of Codemasters games in the past this is a must buy for you, I have no doubt about that. If not, I still think that this is a game that you need to play so you should at least rent this.