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4:46 PM on 11.30.2008

Blast From The Past Reviews: Psychonauts

I'm sure you've all heard of Psychonauts, a game released in 2005 for the Xbox, PS2, and PC. I want to start off by saying that if you haven't already, BUY THIS GAME. It's a crime that this game has only sold about 100,000 copies (according to Wikipedia). The original setting and mission context is worth much more attention than that.

In Psychonauts you play as a runaway child named Rasputin (nicknamed “Raz”), a former circus performer who was born with psychic powers. His parents punished him for using his powers, so he ran away from the circus (notice the irony?). He runs away to a summer camp called Whispering Rock, a secret government facility used to train “Psychonauts” (people gifted with psychic powers, like Raz). As much as I want to tell the whole story, I'll leave it to you to play the game and experience it for yourself.

Psychonauts is a true puzzle platformer with very few twists on the formula. One very important twist, however, are the game's missions and setting. Most of the missions consist of entering the minds of NPC's to sort out their mental problems. You have to do this so that they will help you progress through the game. Each character's mind has a different theme and a different style. Psychonauts's basic gameplay is pretty good, but the powers make it way better. Throughout the whole game you are constantly using each of your powers: none of them are left untouched for long. Raz's powers are clairvoyance (which lets you see through other characters' eyes), telekinesis, pyrokinesis, invisibility, levitation, shield, and marksmanship (a projectile-like blast of energy). My favorite power by far is clairvoyance. When I used it on the mission “The Milkman Conspiracy” I laughed my ass off. The little girls you use it on see you as a milk bandit, stealing their milk. The lack of innovation in the basic gameplay and the sub-par platforming keep this game from perfection.

Despite the gameplay shortcomings, the story and characters more than make up for it. There are 8 main characters: Raz, Dogen, Lili, Bobby Zilch, Agent Nien, Agent Vodello, and Coach Oleander. Lili has been going to Whispering Rock Training Academy for a few years, she has passed every exam and is convinced that nothing new ever happens at camp, her power is telekinesis. Dogen (my favorite character) is frickin' crazy. His power is exploding animals and people's heads, he also hears voices in his head. Agent Nien is a world famous super agent who is extremely organized, which is why his brain is portrayed as a cube when you enter it. Agent Vodello is a master of levitation and is also pretty funny. On one part you enter her mind and it's just a big disco party. Last but not least Coach Oleander. I don't know what to say about him except that he is a major asshole. When you enter his mind all he does is insult you! The first thing he said was, “My bowels move more than you cadet!”. Each character has at least one unforgettable line.

At first I thought that the controls would be bad for the PS2 but they were actually very good. Switching between powers was a breeze and the platforming was painless. This game is great for either system, the only real difference is the graphics (higher framerate on the Xbox version). I highly recommend Psychonauts to any gamer who is interested in platformers, interesting characters, or humorous writing in their games. You can buy it at most videogame retailers for PS2 or Xbox for 5 bucks nowadays. It's also available as an Xbox Original on the Xbox 360 marketplace for $15.
Rating: 7.75/10   read

2:44 PM on 11.30.2008

GoW vs. GoW

I have been thinking about this for a while: which is the better GoW, God of War or Gears of War? I know that these games are completely different genres and each plays completely differently, but I can't help thinking about this problem. So I pose to you the question, and I will break down the different areas where these two titles differ so that you can decide which one is more deserving of the GoW acronym.

Area 1: Story

Gears of War and god of War couldn't be more different in terms of their plots. One is about a gruff soldier on an Earth-like planet who is fighting off hordes of mole people, and the other is about a former Spartan general who sold his soul to Ares and is now fighting to get it back. I'm not asking you which one you like better, I'm asking you which one is higher quality. So when you answer in the comments include which one has the best writing, more interesting characters, better scenarios, and which one is more original.

Area 2: Main characters

The main characters of these two games are both tragic characters. In God of War, you play as Kratos, the aforementioned Spartan general. Anyways, after Kratos sold his soul so he could win a particularly fierce battle with some crazy ass barbarian dudes, Ares instructs him to kill his wife and child and slaughter the people in his village so that he will have complete loyalty to him. Kratos does this and after a few years of service to Ares, he kinda regrets it (duh). Well, Kratos starts having these nightmares because of all his guilt, so he consults Athena and asks if she can take away his guilt. Athena tells him that if he kills Ares (who has gone rogue) that she will take the bad dreams away. Now, on to Gears. In Gears you play as Marcus Fenix, a soldier who was imprisoned for leaving his post during the Locust (Mole People) invasion. Well, it turns out that the Locust are killing lots of human soldiers, so they take Marcus out of prison so he can help fight off the encroaching enemy forces. Marcus is very rough and he talks a lot about killing those bad guys during battles. Kratos is very ruthless and he only cares about himself, as he is fit to kill innocent civilians to get what he wants. Kratos also screws about any willing woman he can get his hands on. Marcus curb stomps and chainsaws enemies in half with his Lancer, while Kratos rips their heads off with his bare hands and stabs them in the throat with his Blades of Chaos. I can't even describe how crazy some of the things Kratos does during boss battles are. Marcus is a semi-realistic main character who happens to hang around some testosterone-filled steroids junkies (birds of a feather...), while Kratos is merciless, self-centered, and not very forward-thinking, as he is used as a pawn by almost everyone who he thinks is an ally (that's what you get for dealing with Greek Gods). When you answer, remember to take into account which character has better dialogue, is more likeable, more realistic (for their setting), and more well-drawn.

Area 3: Enemies

Gears of War and God of War both have lots of enemies, so this section will be a little harder to answer. God of War contains a plethora of enemies from Greek Mythology. From Harpies to Gorgons, this game has 'em all. Each enemy is pretty well detailed for a PS2 game, and each enemy type has a different fighting style. The Gorgons stay a medium distance from you and try to turn you to stone with their Stare. The harpies circle above you and occasionally swoop down and peck your head. The Undead Soldiers are very aggressive as they charge you and use their big-ass swords to rip you a new one. There are too many enemies to list here, but lets just say that there are a bunch of them. Gears of War features a smaller amount of enemy types than God of War, but there are plenty of them. You got your plain Locust, which are the humanoid mole people Then you got the Berserkers, which are these 15 foot tall humanoid mole people who can't see and therefore use sound to locate you. You got Wretches, which are these little creatures who run at you and swipe you with their claws. You got Reavers, which are these flying octopus things. And finally you got Krill (not the plankton), which are these bats that eat you until you explode (what?). Remember, when deciding which one has the best enemies take their design, enjoyability of combat, and how naturally they fit into their environment into account. Post the image of your favorite character in the comments section for +2 gold pieces.

Area 4 (final area): Gameplay

Ah finally! The big one, the clincher, the deciding factor: gameplay. I know you're mentally exhausted by all the debate going on in your brain over which one's better, but just hang with me for a few more seconds. I'll just lay down the basic gameplay for each: God of War is an action/puzzle/platformer (emphasis on action, not so much on platforming or puzzle solving) and Gears of War is a tactical 3rd person shooter (emphasis on the 3rd person, not so much on the tactical). For this one, I can't really say “make your decision based on which one is higher quality, not which one you like more” because this is about gameplay, and different people enjoy different types of gameplay, even if it's bad (See: Dynasty Warriors).

Now, off to the comments to decide on which one is better! Just say which one is better in each area, and then your overall pick.   read

9:16 AM on 11.30.2008

Blast From The Past Reviews: Manhunt

I'm sure ALL of you have heard of this game. If you bought this game full price I just want to say I feel bad for you. If you bought this game at all I want to say I feel your pain.
You Play as James Cash (Rockstar got a little creative with the name). The game opens up with a female journalist reporting on Cash, who is a criminal on death row who was supposedly executed by lethal injection. He wakes up to the voice of a man who refers to himself as “The Director.” The Director tells James to do whatever he says and by the end of the night he will be free. The catch is that what he makes you do is kill gang members in the most brutal ways possible. You'd think it would be endless fun but you'd be wrong.

First, I'd like to say this game is so repetitive it's not even funny. It's fun for the first two hours but then there's about 8 hours to go. You have to fight four gangs: “The Hoods”, “The Skinz”, “The Innocentz”, “The War Dogs”, and “The Smileys.” Every gang is the same besides the way they look. The only part I liked was using the bat's lethal kill. The only good thing about this game is the blood and guts (shut up I'm not crazy). I mean one part you get a gun and I shot a guy in the face 5 times but some how he managed to call me a pussy. The A.I in this game is horrible. I mean, they run up to the shadow you're hiding in and sit there yelling at you. Overall it's fun to play for an hour or two.

One good thing I can say about this game is that it's pretty creepy. Rockstar did a pretty good job of making a really unpleasant setting. The environments are the most disgusting city streets and dilapidated housing projects I have ever seen. I mean, it looks like you could get AIDs just by looking at it. The only other game setting I could compare it to is Silent Hill 2. The enemy design can also be creepy as hell sometimes. The Smileys wear these weird yellow smiley face masks. I don't know how to explain it, but they are the creepiest enemies by far in this game (besides the infamous Pigsy). That was my favorite gang to kill. The Hoodz aren't as scary, they just wear hoods or pantie hoes on their heads. The Innocentz normally have paint on their face. Yup, that's about it for them. The Skinz weren't that scary because I was too busy laughing when I saw them. They're just a bunch of white supremacists who live in trailer parks. The War Dogs were the hardest because they used guns all the time. Some how these criminals got a hold of M16s, Shotguns, Handguns, Revolvers, and sniper rifles.Oh yeah did I mention that there perfect with them.

This game has a great story which is part of the reason why I beat it. All of the criminals who were “lethally injected" are sent to Carcer city(*cough* “Escape From New York” *cough*). The Director set up cameras all over Carcer city to make snuff films. After the criminals were isolated for so long they made there own gangs. They eventually went crazy and started killing each other. No one finds out about it until one brave journalist stops listening to the police and looks deeper into James Cash's story.

I don't recommend this game to anyone. Well actually I recommend it to people who play Ninja Gaiden. If you get pissed at the bosses on Ninja Gaiden, play manhunt and lethal kill a few people with a bat.
If you have any questions feel free to contact to me at [email protected]   read

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