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The Dude's blog

5:10 PM on 12.02.2007

GBA / DS games: what are your favorites?

I'm taking a semester abroad soon, and since its been so long since I've given my GBA a real work out, I'm going to brink that along. I might pick up a DS as well. The question is: What are the MUST HAVE games for both systems?

I'm a fan of RPGs, action/adventure (zelda and the like) and anything thats simply a great game.

So, destructoid community: what are your favorites?

[EDIT] Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I think I have a good start here, but feel free to keep them coming.   read

1:46 PM on 09.27.2007

Just what you always wanted: Another Halo 3 review.

I'm going to post this up because I can, and while I agree with some points of Linde's review, I rated it a little better. Here goes.


It's here.

After three years of waiting, "Halo 3" has come to give closure to millions of gamers world-wide.

The days leading up to the game's Tuesday release witnessed an unprecedented media frenzy over the conclusion to the immensely popular trilogy.

But does the highly anticipated title live up to the hype?

Yes and no.

The campaign touts four-player cooperative play and the conclusion of the tale of the Master Chief, the trilogy's super soldier protagonist, and his struggle to defend humanity against the alien coalition known as the Covenant and the parasitic flood.

The multiplayer side of "Halo 3" offers gamers a chance to get online and compete against each other in massive frag fests with new weapons, new vehicles and the new Forge, where players can create their own multiplayer game variants.

The campaign combines the best aspects from "Halo: Combat Evolved" and "Halo 2," including engaging combat and a wide variety of levels, which is a welcome relief after some tedious and repetitive stages in the previous games. (Library, anyone?)

There are a few levels that drag on into frustrating slaughter because of vague mission objectives and unclear directions on how to get from point A to point B, but overall the levels are well designed and keep things fresh.

Combat is fast and furious, and the Covenant forces never go down without a struggle, making players earn every foot of ground. The artificial intelligence is significantly improved over the last game, as foes will frequently flank, snipe and generally harass the Master Chief and his allies.

Running and gunning won't work on the higher difficulty levels, which means encounters require a bit more strategy and, frequently, fighting from a distance.

The tragedy in this is that some of the inventive new weapons aren't worthwhile, as short-range weapons are useless against enemies who can easily kill the Master Chief long before he gets close enough to use them.

The inclusion of large groups of units on both sides of the battle makes the fire fights feel more like full-scale war, with Banshees buzzing overhead and Warthogs fish-tailing back and forth across the battlefield under the heavy thump of plasma barrages from Covenant Wraith tanks. There are plenty of large-scale vehicle battles, and these provide some of the most intense and visceral conflicts in the game.

Gamers left with lingering questions after the end of "Halo 2" will have their questions answered through the course of the campaign, but the story's delivery is a bit lackluster and several pivotal plot moments occur anticlimactically, which is a shame, considering how much the Halo universe has developed since the first game.

Despite the plot disappointments, the campaign is an adrenaline-fueled adventure through numerous theaters of war, making the campaign worth playing through again and again to experience those unforgettable moments.

And if the campaign does get old, there is always multiplayer.

The few minor failings of the single-player experience are outweighed by the spectacular new multiplayer offerings.

The basic frag fests of "Halo 2" return, with new, and newly balanced, weapons (the needler in particular has been given a new lease on life) and a respectable selection of new vehicles and maps.

The multiplayer community, consisting of millions of players, is going to be the seat of creation for the next chapter in the Halo history by way of a new customization feature known as the Forge.

The Forge allows players to tweak maps by placing weapons, vehicles and spawn points at will, as well as changing game objectives and rules. The options for customized multiplayer mayhem are limitless, and the Halo community is sure to come up with some fantastic game variants that will keep it fresh for a long time.

Or perhaps until "Halo 4."

Because let's be honest, it's inevitable. And after "Halo 3," I, for one, am already looking forward to the day it's here.


Bottom line: Halo 3 earns a 9.5 for a fun, action packed campaign, sweet new multiplayer maps and features, but loses points for a poorly executed narrative.   read

5:33 PM on 08.12.2007

A great week: I get a Wii and Sephiroth gets pwnd.

Ah, the joys of gaming. Spending hours detached from the worries of the world to indulge in some of the best entertainment on the planet. And this week has been particularly plentiful in terms of gaming bliss.

The Friday before last I was finally able to acquire a Wii, after scouring the area with numerous phone calls to any store that might have a Nintendo in stock, a friend of mine agreed to bring one back from a trip home. The local Wal-Mart in his small hometown is, by multiple accounts, never out of stock of the exceedingly popular system and as my luck would have it he managed to snag the last one they had available and even delivered it right to my door. Words cannot describe my relief and jubilation upon finally holding that white box in my hands. (The night before he dropped it off, he told me his dad dropped it and broke it. He had me on the verge of insanity for 20 minutes before I called him and heard him laughing at my gullibility.)

I'm a Zelda fanatic, I'll be the first to admit it. It is my favorite series of all time. And the chance to finally dig into the newest iteration in the series filled me with utter childish glee. Its a feeling I haven't felt in a while. That new console smell, the prospect of an epic adventure with brain busting puzzles and lots of Wii-mote flailing filled me with such joy that I was almost afraid to open the box.


To add to an already spectacular week, I was finally able to finish Final Fantasy VII.

Yes, thats right. I finished Final Fantasy VII, for the first time. Yesterday. I Omnislashed the One-Winged angle to pieces and I am finally able to say, "Why yes, I've played Final Fantasy VII."

As most people accomplished the same thing TEN YEARS AGO, I'm a bit late to the post-meteor party. But I've arrived. I never had a PlayStation growing up, and two attempts at playing the PC version failed after crash glitches stymied me early in the game both times.

My failure to bring about the death of Sephiroth, or even to see the famous death of Aries, was a black mark on my gaming record. It was something I felt shame in admitting in proper gaming company. But now I've done it. It took me nearly a year of on-and-off playing to come to the conclusion, and I must say, it was worth it. Final Fantasy VII was indeed a great game. I've heard people debating the merits of FFVI vs. FFVII for years, and I (having completed FFVI multiple times on SNES) can finally weigh in on the debate. But that a story for another... paragraph.

Ok, I still feel like FFVI was better, but that could easily be nostalgia for the bygone era of 2D sprite RPGs which dominated my childhood. I'm gonna have to let FFVII sink in a bit before I make any final judgements. I will say this though: FFVII had an excellent story, but I did like Espers and magicite better than materia in terms of combat application.

Really, both are among my favorite games of all time. I like them both for separate reasons. Perhaps its possible to like them both equally at the same.

Either way, its been a good week in gaming. Now I have to try and finish Twilight Princess before BioShock, so I can finish that before Metroid Prime 3 and that before Halo 3 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Assassins Creed, and maybe Final Fantasy XII...


The work of a gamer is never done.

And thank god for that.   read

12:07 PM on 07.31.2007

Overlord: Evil is as evil does.

Combine the moral choices and artistic style of "Fable" with the creature commanding of "Pikmin," throw in a healthy dose of "Lord of the Rings" influence, and you've got "Overlord," a game that shows just how fun evil can be.

"Overlord" gives players the chance to step into the spiked metal boots of a nameless, ancient evil to wreck havoc on the surrounding lands and take revenge on the group of heroes who struck down his predecessor.

It seems the tower the Overlord calls home has recently been sacked along with its master. Now it's up to players to step up and restore the tower and its master to their former glory.

But a good evil overlord doesn't dirty his heads with the actual havoc-wreaking. That's what minions are for.

Minions are impish creatures with slave-like devotion to "the master," zero regard for self-preservation and little in the way of brains - perfect for carrying out the player's every destructive whim.

Minions come in four types, each with different purpose and abilities. They can also be powered up by equipping whatever junk they find lying around, be it weapons and armor or pumpkins and rat carcasses.

While the Overlord himself has some weapons and armor, the minions do the vast majority of fighting, which is just as well because for an ancient evil the Overlord is a pretty inept at combat.

But the minions are darn good at it. When used correctly, the minions can dispose of foes large and small without difficulty. But using them correctly can sometimes be difficult, especially when trying to combine different orders for different groups of minions.

There are a lot of buttons involved, and it can make strategizing on the fly a problem that leads to unnecessary minions deaths.

Having large groups of minions all die at the same time because they didn't do what I wanted them to do caused several moments of frustration and checkpoint restarts.

Preparation seems to be the key here, setting up the minions and drawing foes into a trap works better than sending them charging into the fray.

The game is about being "evil," but it gives players a choice between being "evil" and "corrupt," which is pretty much the same as being cruel or kind to the varius NPCs that populate the game.

Even killing the heroes that overthrew the previous Overlord isn't much of an evil act. The heroes themselves have all become corrupt themselves, and stopping them is more of an act of kindness than one of evil.

Of course, no one said you had to be any better, and there is a kind of guilty pleasure in ransacking an entire town and setting the residents on fire.

It is that kind of guilty pleasure that "Overlord" delivers again and again, proving that it's good to be bad.   read

2:11 PM on 07.30.2007

The Darkness: A review.

Ah, the 21st birthday. When many people take the last step into full legality. However, for Jackie Estacado, the big two-one isn't a time to spend reveling in booze. It's a time to spend reveling in darkness.

Estacado is a mafia hitman in New York City, and on his 21st birthday a demonic parasite called "the Darkness" manifests itself.

And it couldn't come at a better time.

A deal has gone bad, and Jackie's Uncle Paulie, the family Don, has put the blame on his shoulders and a price on his head.

Fortunately for Estacado, the Darkness is more than willing to lend a razor sharp demon arm, and Estacado sets out through the shadows to seek his revenge.

The titular Darkness is clearly the star of the show. There are guns, but only because all the crooked cops and mafia goons standing in Estacado's way have them. Gun combat is basic, the weapons aren't too varied (or accurate) and any situation that forced me to use guns rather than my demonic powers was frustrating, because the Darkness powers are way more fun to use.

Using a demon arm to impale enemies and fling them like rag dolls or taking control of a slithering snake-like tentacle to sneak through vents and around corners to bite unsuspecting enemies is a much more engaging way of clearing the streets than shooting.

Toss in some guns that use Darkness energy for ammo and the ability to summon a small black hole and a Tactical Assault Rifle looks quaint.

Players can also summon Darklings, little foul-mouthed demons, to aid them, but they're difficult to command and, like the guns, not really all that useful. I'd rather do the deed myself.

Now, these Darkness powers need powering. And where might one find sustenance for a shadowy demonic presence?

Why, in the darkness of course.

Which means players will spend plenty of time taking pot-shots at lights or using darkness powers to destroy them. At first it's annoying, but as Estacado's powers grow, they become a minor nuisance. Players can also eat the hearts of fallen foes to recharge, and power up, the demon within.

Graphically, "The Darkness" is as impressive as the powers it provides. Character animation and dialogue are well polished. I just wish I could say the same for the enemy A.I.

There are essentially two types of enemies in the game: thugs and bad cops. The only difference is the uniform. And whether in black or blue, they're all ridiculously stupid. None of them seem to have any inkling towards self-preservation, as they will stand idly by as their partners are devoured, and no one seems to notice or question the fact that Estacado is a walking nightmare.

The game could have used a few more enemy types, maybe a boss fight or two, and generally more chances to kill bad guys in gruesomely awesome ways.

The Darkness has some really spectacular powers, but there are few spectacular moments. Focusing more on the Darkness powers and coming up with creative ways to use them would have made this a great game. As it is, it's just good.

"The Darkness" is an enjoyable twist to the shooter genre, but it's in the shadows that "The Darkness" really shines.   read

4:31 PM on 07.29.2007

There is not a single Wii for sale within 40 miles.

All I want is a Wii. But there aren't any near me anywhere.

I've tried everything I can think of. I've called every store that might possibly have a Wii tucked away in a back room somewhere. I even called Wal-Mart, but I think a little part of my soul died when I did. I checked the Internets and found only overpriced units for sale. I even called small neighboring towns in hopes that they might have an virgin stash of Wiis, but no luck.

Its official: There is not a single Wii for sale within 40 miles of me. And the situation is getting dire. All I want is to play me some Zelda. Is that so much to ask?

Reggie Fils-Aime can offer me no solace. His only advice? Check the Sunday papers.

I've resorted to asking random people if they will sell me their Wii, which has drawn laughter, curses, confused looks, and occasionally a knowing nod.

Seeing as how its the fastest selling console of all time, I'm not too surprised. It does warm my heart a bit to see Nintendo doing well again after everyone laughed at the GameCube, but the bottom line is I want a Wii but so does everyone else.

My question now is, how long will this continue? Will the Wii still be sold out even into the Christmas season? Will they become even more scarce as they are scooped up by holiday shoppers?

My hope is that I can get my hands on one before Smash Bros and Metroid Prime 3 come out.   read

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