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'GTA for girls' causes controversy, sky is blue, Piplup still adorable


Nov 26
// Earnest Cavalli
In a completely unshocking turn of events, a game billed as the "Grand Theft Auto for girls" has pissed off people who we're all beginning to assume earn a living being outraged and screaming "Won't someone ple...
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Japan puts the 'rampant consumerism' back in Christmas with Pokemon decorations


Nov 26
// Earnest Cavalli
Courtesy of Siliconera we bring you that picture above from (where else?) the Land of the Rising Sun.Yes, it's funny that Pokémon are so famous, and Piplup is adorable, but I think the real point here is how utterly ir...
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Destructoid's games of the week for 11/25/2007: Is this a cop out edition?


Nov 25
// Earnest Cavalli
It's a video. Watch it.Why?First, because I'm utterly fascinated with both foreign girls AND spunky indie girls; Superbus lead Jennifer Ayache is the epitome of everything I love about women, and as soon as I'm done with th...
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As if gold farming couldn't get any worse, now it funds pederasty


Nov 25
// Earnest Cavalli
As an amateur Internet historian and a professional whatever-I-do-here, most of my skills are completely underwhelming. As often as I tell women in bars that I'm really very hilarious (on the Internet), few seem to offer me i...
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SUBOTRON seeks electronic culture artists for Viennese salon, adoring groupies


Nov 25
// Earnest Cavalli
Every once in a while, in between the e-mails demonstrating all the inventive ways in which women conceal their naughty bits behind gaming appliances, and pictures of Brian Crecente's head pasted on a centaur, we receive miss...
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Turok Achievements unveiled: they're promoting team-killing now?


Nov 20
// Earnest Cavalli
After the jump you'll find the just-released list of Achievements for the Xbox 360 version of the upcoming blood, guts n' dinos FPS Turok. Normally this wouldn't even blip on our radar of actual, useful news but something abo...
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Halo novel becomes NYT best seller, just like my novel Jurassic Park


Nov 20
// Earnest Cavalli
There's been a lot of petty sniping towards Halo from both the anti-Microsoft crowd and the contrarian, anti-mainstream crowd ever since the pre-release hype for Halo 3 began building up, but absolutely no one, regardless of ...
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Destructoid's games of the week for 11/18/2007: Mixed messages edition!


Nov 18
// Earnest Cavalli
Guys, I'd love to spend an hour crafting a deep, engaging story about why my hair hurts this week, but honestly I'm too absorbed in Assassin's Creed to give this whole thing much thought. One of the true joys of a gig like th...
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New Soul Calibur: Legends trailer: Lloyd sold me cigarettes this morning


Nov 17
// Earnest Cavalli
Aerox continues his streak as my favorite tipper for today by sending in a link to the above trailer. I've been following the progress of Soul Calibur: Legends for a while now, mostly as I think it's an interesting experime...
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Game Center CX: the coolest game I hadn't heard about until yesterday


Nov 17
// Earnest Cavalli
Ever since it was revealed to me (yesterday), Game Center CX: Arino's Challenge has become my own personal video game equivalent of the Mo-dettes: absolutely no one's heard of it, it's amazing and bringing it up in casual con...
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EA loses nearly $200 million, begins ushering women and children to lifeboats


Nov 17
// Earnest Cavalli
Earlier today (yesterday?) reader-cum-tipper Aerox sent us a link to this Associated Press piece discussing EA's second quarter earnings. Or, more specifically, EA's second quarter losses. It seems that the gaming behemoth lo...
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Live-action Assassin's Creed: They couldn't find a koala to play with?


Nov 15
// Earnest Cavalli
Assassin's Creed has been a debacle for days now. Between the less-than-stellar response and the childish vagina worship surrounding its producer, one gets the feeling that Ubisoft would rather just forget about the game an...

Destructoid Review: Call of Duty 4

Nov 15 // Earnest Cavalli
Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Windows)Developed by Infinity WardPublished by ActivisionRelease Date: November 6, 2007  If there's one thing the first two Call of Duty games did extremely well it's that they set up an engaging story as a backdrop for their explosive action. The stories have never been as philosophically deep as something like BioShock, and they never challenged your own perceptions of morality like Portal recently did, but they do manage to tap into that same visceral feeling as Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan that gives a real sensation of meaning to the chaotic violence all around you.Call of Duty 4 succeeds in exactly this same way. It's story is exactly the sort of thing you've seen in hundreds of summer blockbusters since the 1980s: madman acquires nuclear weapons, madman uses nuclear weapons, the good guys form a team of badasses whose only tools are bravado, bullets and explosions, and through the might of jingoism and hyper-masculine guns-as-phalli fantasies the ragtag team of heroes saves the world. While the title has an illusion of depth, the in-game choices all boil down to where you'd prefer to stand when you blow the heads off of incoming Jihadists entirely secular gentlemen of vaguely Persian ancestry. That's not to say the game is unengaging, however. This is the sort of title that through the magic of intense pacing and clever audio/visual tricks can easily make a 6 or 7 hour play session seem as if it were only 20 minutes. It's a backhanded compliment to say this makes the game's story blow by in a strikingly short amount of time, but compared to other FPS titles, CoD4's sub-15 hour run-time is (unfortunately) pretty standard -- and often much more enjoyable. In fact, if Infinity Ward's main goal was "engaging gameplay" they utterly nailed it. It's easy enough to create a title where you kill people or blow up machinery, but adding a sense of tension to the proceedings is apparently quite difficult, at least based on the number of FPS titles available on PCs and home consoles that are strikingly generic. CoD4 succeeds in this area for two main reasons: first, many subtle tweaks have been added to create almost primal reasons to murder your opponents. From a storyline with an innate psychology that creates a strong illusion of the same us-vs-them philosophy politicians have been using for years to justify the battles CoD4 mirrors, to tiny gameplay nuances such as the ability to return thrown grenades to enemies with a toss of your own, the entire thing feels like you're in the middle of a battle in the dusty streets of some Arabic town. Adding to that enemies that take cover, shout at you in appropriate dialects and wear the same dirty, scavenged military gear their real-world counterparts are known for, and the game immerses you in a way that few other titles ever have. Secondly, and most importantly, the game never lingers too long on any particular playstyle. In the middle of the campaign, there's a stretch of three missions where you'll go from dropping heavy explosive rounds on Russian soldiers from the TV-assisted gunner's station of an AC-130 gunship, to slogging through the Russian countryside in the middle of the night, to a 15-years-prior flashback where you and another soldier are tasked with crawling through the ruins of Chernobyl with only a sniper rifle and a pistol in a quest to assassinate a local warlord. That last mission in particular, rachets up the tension present in the entire thing to previously unseen levels -- lying prone in a field while Russian troops patrol literally two feet from you is an experience that anyone with even a passing fetish for military ops absolutely must experience.One of the most interesting points of the whole thing, whether it was intentional or not, is that this video game demonstrates a breed of warfare that has, in effect, become a video game. This is most striking in the AC-130 mission, which is much easier than either of the ones that come before or after it. It seems that as the layers of obfuscating technology between a soldier and the people he's killing grows, the connection with reality blurs. As I said, the AC-130 mission is strikingly simple, almost a point-and-click affair, and while it does give you an interesting respite from the rest of the game, it also loses a lot of the visceral intensity of being shot at and seeing your bullet split a man's face in two.  Call of Duty 2 became a darling of the multiplayer set due to its realism that contrasted sharply with the bouncy, fictional reality of the big FPS of its time, Halo 2. Call of Duty 4 manages to beat out even CoD2's stunning experience by adding an RPG-lite experience system similar to that found in the latter-day Battlefield titles. Simply stated: the more you play, the more you'll unlock useful perks for use in game. Whether they be bigger guns or a more resilient soldier, each perk is useful and desirable in its own way. Sadly this also leads to one of the title's biggest flaws: new players have to contend with gamers who have attained perks that make them almost god-like. While it's never impossible to kill an opponent, the difference in abilities is extremely palpable and will turn off many new gamers immediately. I don't know why they couldn't stratify the multiplayer games based on character level as they have in Halo 3, if only to keep players with similar perk levels competing on even ground. Then again, CoD4 probably can't hope for the kind of online presence a Halo draws, so had they split the playerbase in this way, it might be difficult to find games in which to play. Still, having to make the choice between having no one to play with, or having people to play with who can shoot you through walls from 4 miles away, you can see the kind of issue Infinity Ward had to contend with. The graphics in Call of Duty 4 are quite good. While I wouldn't go so far as to say they're the new high water mark for the systems it appears on, they definitely convey the environment convincingly. The developers seemingly spent a lot of time adding tiny flourishes like the vague flickering of the green LED night vision goggles or the imprinting of one's own capillaries on one's vision after staring down a flashbang. There are never any jaw-dropping moments, but the entire thing subtly provides further enhancement to the engaging plot by visually convincing you that you're actually there.As a special aside, I would like to highlight the "death effects". It's typical for these titles to give enemies ragdoll reactions to being shot or exploded, but there's something truly striking (and depending on your slant, either extremely satisfying or disturbing) about the massive splatter and violent spasm following an opponent catching a round from an AK-47 in the eye. It never approaches cartoonish, but it definitely conveys the damage a high-caliber round can do to a person's soft tissue.As much as I'd love to be able to say this title is an absolute must-buy there are issues that mar its surface. As stated above, the game is short. While that may be an illusionary side effect of the intense plot, you'll be wishing for more when it finally comes to its thrilling conclusion. Also, the title is incredibly linear. It offers the spectre of choice in some missions, but when compared to the recent BioShock, you realize you will have seen the entire thing in one play through. Combine these with the multiplayer system's well-meaning but ultimately poorly implemented experience system, and you have a solid title that would serve better as a rental for anyone who wasn't already excited about it enough to buy it at launch.Score: 8.0 
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The first two Call of Duty games were widely praised as the next step in the first-person shooter genre. They had bombastic action sequences, gripping storylines and enough Nazi-bashing to make George Patton squeal like a you...

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Gods of Zul'Aman trailer: Take THAT Joss Whedon!


Nov 14
// Earnest Cavalli
That clip is the cinematic teaser for a just-released 10-person raid dungeon, Zul'Aman. Like previous dungeons sporting the "Zul" prefix, it's home to trolls and their pseudo-Rastafarian, tribal society. You see, w...
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Microsoft allows Rare to develop on the DS, possibly to fund Moonraker laser


Nov 13
// Earnest Cavalli
Ever since Rare announced they'd be making a handheld Viva Piñata title for the Nintendo DS, gamers have been scratching their heads and furrowing their brows wondering how exactly that came to pass. "After all,&q...
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Persona 3 cell phone prequel coming (to a faraway country)


Nov 13
// Earnest Cavalli
Siliconera has word that Japan will be seeing a Persona 3 prequel in the form of a cell phone game that doesn't look entirely terrible. Here's the rundown:Without delving into too much some events happen pre-Persona 3 Playsta...
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CoD4 FUBAR on Valve's service, gamers Steamed (I can't believe I typed that)


Nov 13
// Earnest Cavalli
For those of you old enough to recall Half-Life 2's original release, you'll remember how Steam -- Valve's downloadable content system -- absolutely ruined the entire thing for many thousands of people for almost a month afte...

Destructoid Review: Wordjong

Nov 12 // Earnest Cavalli
Wordjong (DS)Developed by Magellan InteractiveRelease Date: November 13, 2007 Wordjong is a simple game that proves itself shockingly difficult to master. It combines Scrabble -- an American board game where the objective is to create words using lettered tiles -- with Mahjong -- a Chinese tile-based game where the objective is to match alike tiles. Actually, the only thing the game takes from Mahjong (other than its suffix) is the fact that the entirety of the gameplay takes place on a board covered in stacks of tiles. By plucking tiles from these stacks and combining them to form words, you both score points based on the size and complexity of the word spelled, and uncover the tiles below in an effort to completely clear the board of tiles. Upon clearing the board, your score is tallied and you either win or lose depending mainly on the quality of your vocabulary.One would assume that in a game whose mechanics are so simple there would be a very finite cap to the gameplay, but the creators of Wordjong made sure to give ample reason for continued play. The tiny cart contains a vocabulary of more than 100,000 words (including certain swears, teehee), so most any word you could imagine is available for your use. Of course, this also leads to some bizarre inclusions such as "Quid" (a British pound sterling), "Undine" (the proper name of a water spirit who marries a knight in a French novella of the same name in order to gain a soul), "Rood" (an archaic Anglo-Saxon term for "pole") and "Massy" (a commune near Paris). Perhaps the game has certain Gallic proclivities, but those first two words were my attempts to confuse the title, and that last one was a random assortment of letters that just happened to mean something completely obscure. It would be more infuriating if the game refused words than if it accepted them, so including words unknown to 99.9% of humanity is preferable to leaving them out. The game also includes several modes that prolong the seemingly simple gameplay. The main thrust of Wordjong is a story mode called Temple Challenge. During Temple Challenge, you complete Wordjong puzzles of increasing difficulty in a quest to ... do something. I'm sure there's some kind of zen message here about the journey being the quest's reward -- which would tie in nicely with the game's Asiatic motif -- but honestly there seems to be no goal in Temple Challenge aside from accumulating a higher score and earning new medals with ever more adorable animals etched into them. That's not to say the journey isn't interesting, if vaguely bizarre. The puzzles themselves are always brain-twisting, and even in the earlier levels of the Temple, you'll have to restart each puzzle a few times before you succeed. This is a game that you play for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, become frustrated with, come back a day later, and feel a sense of extreme satisfaction over having become better than you were before. It may be cliché to say that these sorts of tests improve your brain power, but I'd be shocked if anyone could complete this game and not get a gig writing for The New Yorker.Aside from Temple Challenge, Wordjong also offers players a Daily Puzzle mode which presents you with a new puzzle every day for 365 days. It's an ingenious way to prolong the life of a game like Wordjong, which as I mentioned above, is best played in short bursts, but with that much effort put into a gimmick to give the game more longevity, would it have been so difficult for the developers to create a Random Puzzle mode? If Blizzard could code random dungeons into the original Diablo in 1996, it shouldn't be too difficult to add randomized tile configurations to a puzzle game more than a decade later. Surprisingly, the game includes online play via the DS' WFC. Since the title wasn't even remotely near release during my review, I haven't been able to compete via WFC yet, so while I'd like to tell you I crushed both the hopes and the dreams of every foe I encountered you're just going to have to continue imagining that. While you're at it, give me some bitchin' sideburns and a belt buckle with an alligator on it. I'll get you back later.Like I said at the beginning, Wordjong is not the sort of game that's going to blow your mind or have you rushing to the Internet to tell the assembled masses about how wicked sweet it was, but it is the sort of game that will occupy your life for months on end. Combine that with the title's sub-$20 price point, and I almost have to recommend it just based on sheer entertainment-hour-per-dollar efficiency. If you've ever enjoyed a puzzle game, you'll dig it, and when it makes you smarter, just consider that a nice bonus.Score: 8.5Verdict: Buy it! It's only $20!
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Sometimes a game comes along that utterly blows your mind and leaves you on the side of the road holding your panties in one hand, and a crumpled $20 bill in the other. You know it's just a one night stand, but still you wait...

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Destructoid's games of the week for 11/11/2007: I love egg, hate kids edition!


Nov 11
// Earnest Cavalli
After last night's drinking/Guitar-Heroing/Ground-Kontrolling escapades, I have absolutely no energy to entertain you people. So in my stead, I'm going to rely on those kindly Koreans to do it for me. After showing this video...
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Assassin's Creed launch trailer: white was the old black


Nov 09
// Earnest Cavalli
That video? It's the Assassin's Creed launch trailer. Apparently this thing comes out rather soon.We're impressed by the subtle, understated tone they've been taking with this thing throughout the pre-release hype. There wa...
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Gaming periphery as filler: videogame look-alikes


Nov 09
// Earnest Cavalli
Hollywood steals ideas constantly, authors have been lifting plotlines for millennia, and Glengarry Glen Ross was directly stolen from a dream I once I had via David Mamet's brain-draining dark magic. Since every other creati...
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Mass Effect metaporn: Strip clubs in the future will still be poorly lit


Nov 09
// Earnest Cavalli
The above clip demonstrates Mass Effect's stunning slutty-aliens-designed-to-pander-to-teens rendering system. Then again, maybe we're being too cynical. After all, it would be unrealistic to think the future wouldn't also ...

Destructoid Review: Virtua Fighter 5 Online

Nov 08 // Earnest Cavalli
Virtua Fighter 5 Online (Xbox 360)Developed by Sega-AM2Released on October 30, 2007  Virtua Fighter 5 has never been the sort of fighting game that creates some deep, dramatic backstory for each of its characters to preface the fighting action. Sure, there's some snippets in the handbook about a corporation creating a tournament, and pieces here and there about why each character has entered. It's your standard fighting game pabulum: Kage wants to save his mother, Akira wants to prove he's the greatest fighter alive, and Jeffry wants to rescue a shark. Now that I mention it, that last one is kind of bizarre, but it's in keeping with his "wacky Jamaican fisherman" motif, and what would a Sega game be without colorful, eccentric characters?The story is actually so lacking that unless you go searching for it -- if you happen to need motivation for punching others -- you'll never encounter it during the game. Thankfully, it's almost completely unnecessary. Virtua Fighter 5 exists for one reason: quick, technical hand-to-hand combat.On that front it's miles ahead of its competitors. The entire game is controlled with a stick and three buttons (punch, kick, and guard), and while that scheme may seem simple compared to Capcom's six-button fighters or Tekken's one-button-per-limb approach, the simplicity of the control scheme belies the most complex fighting engine ever created. Each character comes equipped with literally hundreds of moves, and in the time it would take to master every character in Tekken, a person playing VF5 will have maybe learned a single character's moveset. On top of that, half the gameplay relies on situational awareness -- Lei Fei, a shaolin monk, has an entire series of moves that can only be pulled off when standing with your back to your foe and being within two or three feet of a wall. Obviously such depth could come off as horribly inapproachable to the casual gamer (or hardcore fighting fans even), but VF5 goes further than any of its predecessors in making the title accessible to people of all skill levels. The aforementioned monk, and a Vale Tudo fighter named Vanessa, for instance, allow for long chains of attacks using only what is commonly referred to as "button mashing" tactics. In that way new players can learn to compete at a reasonable level without having to spend years of their life devoted to mastering Virtual Monkey Kung-Fu.Some of you might be thinking the presence of characters who can win simply by rolling your fingers across the attack buttons would unbalance the game, and in a way it does. If a beginner player chooses one of the more complex fighters and attempts to fight another beginner playing as either of the two above virtual combatants, odds are they'll lose quickly and horribly. But Virtua Fighter 5 always provides a rock to your opponents scissors: more experienced players, when facing a button masher have a wealth of options from ridiculously fast sidesteps to defensive counters to the sort of offensive counters that Dead or Alive fans are so fond of. Unlike that game though, the defensive tactics are different for each character, so figuring out how to best counter kicks with Aoi is completely different from how a Jacky player would counter the same. The end result of this complex system is a game in which you can spend years mastering a single character, and in fact specialization in one or two fighters is almost required even to beat the standard Arcade mode. I spent four hours practicing the sidestep and learning to mix up throws and sweeps before I was able to beat the entirety of the basic Arcade game, and I still failed to beat the bonus end boss, Dural. The game is much more than just a home version of the arcade title though. It also includes a pseudo-RPG-esque Quest mode, which is where the bulk of a player's time will be spent. Quest mode mimics the life of a professional VF5 player within a Sega-centric meta-universe; you travel to different Sega themed arcades challenging players -- with play and character styles based on real professional VF5 players -- and earning cash and items to customize your chosen character. If it sounds familiar to the recent Tekken games, it is. Customization pieces range from hats to eye colors, but unlike Tekken, the amount of customization you can put into each character is utterly ridiculous. It's not only possible, but it's quite easy to completely change the way a character looks. Often in these arcades you'll encounter an Eileen that looks like Natalie Portman's violent twin, or a Kage made up to look like Joe Musashi from Sega's own Shinobi series. Collecting all of your character's costume options is also a time-consuming affair, as between the various visual tweaks and emblems present for collection, each character's pieces easily number above 1000.As much fun as it is to play dress-up with fictional entities, the goal of Quest mode is actually to attain higher ranks of mastery. As you defeat opponents of similar skill levels, you'll be granted experience which is applied to your current ranking. In total there are 27 ranks to attain, and while you can easily get through the first 20 in 200 or so fights, the last 7 take some real skill. On top of that, there are three separate paths of 7 final ranks to attain based on your win percentage. While it would be disingenuous to say that there are 41 possible ranks, it's not entirely untrue either. Ultimately, to attain the highest rank, you're going to have to have a win percentage better than 80%, and just based on my rough estimate, you're looking at around 1500-2000 fights, for each character. That's a lot of game. VF5 also includes a Dojo mode, which serves as the game's training feature. While it's easily as useful and fleshed out as those found in Tekken 5 or Soul Calibur 3, it lacks the AI mode that the home version of Virtua Fighter 4 introduced. In short, the AI mode was a training option where you could "train" the computer character to perform as you would in a real fight. You could then use that AI as a sparring partner, or unleash your pugilistic HAL 9000 on the competition in the other game modes. It would have been a nice addition had VF5 kept it, but even without the AI mode, the Dojo is quite good at teaching newer players the ins and outs of their character. While Sega ditched the AI mode that I was so affectionate about, it also added two new characters to the fight: Eileen, an adorable Monkey Style Kung-Fu practitioner from China and El Blaze, a bouncy Mexican luchador. Never one to overwhelm players with the number of characters present, Sega added these two while maintaining a perfect balance with their older, more established pugilists. Neither character manages to break the game, and both fit in very well with the roster of combatants. The biggest addition to the Xbox 360 version of VF5 is the online multiplayer. It allows players from around the world to beat each other senseless, and it does a much better job of it than Dead or Alive 4's similar attempt. VF5's version is quite barebones (only offering Ranked or Player Matches, and completely lacking an online lobby), but when entering a game you notice a distinct lack of network lag. In the few hundred matches I've logged so far, I've encountered one match with noticeable lag, and I think it was a result of my opponent having a terrible connection, as he vanished seconds later. The online mode uses the same ranking system as the Quest mode, allowing for a realistic skill-based stratification of the player-base. Sadly, I can't advise new players to jump right into it, as they will be destroyed, but if they're realistic about the fact that they're going to lose often and quickly to begin with, it's the best way to become more proficient in the title.I've saved this section for last because I think it's going to garner a lot of controversy: even without taking the online multiplayer into account, Virtua Fighter 5 Online looks and plays better than the earlier PlayStation 3 release. While the PS3 might be the more powerful system, Sega made the graphics on the Xbox 360 identical to those found in the arcade version, and the entire thing runs at a constant 60 frames per second. While the PS3 version looked good, it wasn't quite perfect, and it had occasional framerate issues. That said, the PS3 version is still a phenomenal game, but if any of you were looking for a reason other than the online multiplayer to buy the Xbox 360 release over the PlayStation 3 one, this is a pretty big one. I can't possibly recommend this game any higher. Assuming you don't have some unnatural slant against fighting games, VF5 Online is neck and neck with The Orange Box in the race for finest game on the system. If you have ever enjoyed a fighting title, punching someone, or ninjas in general, you'll be a fan. Score: 9.5
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When Virtua Fighter 5 hit the PlayStation 3 earlier this year, everyone loved it. On a system lacking in quality software, it was hailed as the second coming of Christ (albeit, Christ with a wicked left hook and lightning fas...

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Forest Whitaker hawks Mountain Dew ... Lola dies tragically


Nov 07
// Earnest Cavalli
Here at the offices we have an elaborate ticker tape system set up that feeds tips through a robotic assistant who then hands them off to us, assuming they're important enough. A few moments ago, the robotic assistant actuall...
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Chavez fears Mercenaries 2 as imperialist psyops ... somewhere, an eagle smiles


Nov 07
// Earnest Cavalli
Even the most Bible-thumping arch-conservatives have by now realized that America is the 800lb gorilla in a global room filled with tiny, angry monkeys. In recent years our stars have developed particularly sharp edges and ou...

Destructoid Review: Timeshift

Nov 07 // Earnest Cavalli
Timeshift (Xbox 360, Windows, PS3 in January 2008)Developed by Saber InteractiveReleased on October 30, 2007 When I was seven years old I read a story in Asimov about a group of scientists (from the future) who have to travel back in time to capture a malfunctioning robot (from the future) who was trying to escape a life of servitude by traveling through time to live amongst dinosaurs (not from the future). Of course, the dinosaurs attack, the robot makes some extremely insightful observations about the human condition, and the scientists realize it is they who are the monsters, not the robot (or the dinosaurs). I think it ended with the Predator blowing up a large portion of the jungle, but I might be misinterpreting the meaning a bit.What does that have to do with Timeshift? Aside from the fact that both have scientists and touch on the extremely overused science fiction convention of time travel, absolutely nothing. I just remembered the story as I was watching Roger Corman's Dinocroc earlier, and I figured I should really get some mileage out of all these horrible movies I'm ingesting. The story propelling Timeshift is almost exactly what you'd expect just based on viewing the boxart and seeing a trailer or two. Basically, a megalithic corporation creates two suits that allow for time travel. Aiden Krone, who represents the Kobra Kai dojo in this story, steals the alpha suit and leaps back in time to mold the world in his image. You, as a nameless, faceless protagonist are tapped to take the beta suit, and via a series of time jumps you must foil his plans. If this sounds at all like a particularly confusing episode of an NBC drama circa 1989, you aren't alone, as I was pretending to be Scott Bakula the entire time. "Al? Are you there?" I'd ask as I fired a rocket launcher, but sadly, no answer was ever given. It was the most depressing episode of Quantum Leap since the one where Sam jumps into the body of Abraham Lincoln moments after he was shot. Assuming you've played a shooter recently, Timeshift will initially confuse the hell out of you. The game is not a run-and-gun shooter. Even on the easiest settings, if you try to sprint through levels, you will be blown into pieces very quickly and even with your ability to reverse time, all the king's horses, men and trained surgeons won't be able to put you back together. Enemies are the toughest bastards this side of Lee Marvin, and armor works even more realistically than it does in reality (somehow). If you shoot a guy in the chest, it's going to take half a clip to drop him, so you'd better aim for the head. Of course, if he's wearing a helmet, you either have to aim for the neck or blow the thing off, and then you have to worry about him having especially attractive eyes that you just can't bring yourself to destroy. In short, the only way to progress is to stalk the levels methodically, making good use of your crouch, zoom, and especially your ability to screw with the laws of time. The developers have given you the ability to slow time (more creative minds once called this "bullet time"), freeze time (just like Zach Morris!) and reverse time for short intervals. While the latter really only helps in solving puzzles and shrugging off the occasional grenade, the first two are absolutely crucial to your survival. There is simply no way to play the game without using these abilities every minute or so, and asking a non-existent Laurence Fishburne if you can dodge bullets.It's awesome that the developers gave you the ability to use their gimmick almost as often as you'd like (it has a recharge time of 10-15 seconds), but it also lends to one of the games huge flaws: visual overkill. Timeshift is a gorgeous game. It's easily on par with BioShock and Halo 3, but the developers of Timeshift seem to have made the conscious decision that more effect always equals more awesomeness. As a result you have standard gameplay that's vibrant, but distracting and when you add the time effects and their visual filters, it becomes difficult to even see the enemies until they fire a shotgun at you, or their cell phone rings. That cell phone thing doesn't actually happen, but if I hadn't told you so, you'd be asking why you never got the Crazy Frog Achievement, and I'd hate my audience even more.Of course, when you can see what's going on, the game does provide some very cool moments. Being fired at from across a room, only to freeze time, sprint over, steal the gun from your enemies' hands and then beat his face in with it is the most satisfying moment I've had in a game since I single-handedly ended apartheid and freed Nelson Mandela in 1997's Black Heat/White Fury: An African Story. On the other hand, the game is incredibly short. Even with the methodical pacing you're forced into, you'll complete it in less than ten hours of gameplay. It's nice that they included a multiplayer component, but the majority of people who would be playing a game like this online are already busy playing Halo 3 or drinking Snapple and selling real estate. The multiplayer system is adequate, but it doesn't compare to Bungie's extensive, full-featured iteration, and you can almost hear it weeping softly as a result. "Nex, get to the damn point! What's the verdict?" I hear you saying as you impatiently tap your fingers on the hood of a car you're leaning against while trying to evoke Richard Grieco's appeal circa 1989. Honestly, it's a bit of a toss up: the game is a solid, creative FPS that brings a lot of new ideas to the genre, despite its minor flaws. Unfortunately, due to the short story, and multiplayer overshadowed by better games, spending more than you'd need to to rent this thing from Blockbuster would just be a waste of money that you'll probably need to purchase food, or paper towels for some reason.Score: 7.0Verdict: Rent it, or steal it from someone you don't like very much
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