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Review Round-Up: The Games of August

1:00 PM on 09.02.2010 // Matthew Razak

Sweet crap, is it September already? What the hell happened to all those months between January and now? There are a billion games I still need to play and as it turns out August didn't help my back pile situation any. Plenty of awesome landed for us to enjoy, and some disappointment as well.

In fact, if you go by when our reviews landed, StarCarft II and a new Metroid are August games. That's enough right there to get any gamer behind in their gaming. And yet there was a whole bunch more (a plethora, even) that August delivered. A new addicting multiplayer game, the successful return of a buxom heroine, the biggest sports game out there and... books? August went pretty well, and Tony Ponce used the word dandy to boot.

Thankfully for our backlogs there is one game we can all skip. I'll let you guess which it is. (Hint: It starts with Kane and Lynch and ends with Dog Days.)

Art this month (featuring plenty of Dtoid editors!) was done by the ever talented and ridiculously dashing Monodi. If you see him at some point tell him he draws purdy.

 

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox Live Arcade)

Harmony of Despair is fun enough and the grinding can become strangely addictive, but this is a shadow of a Castlevania game. The only thing it truly excels at is making one want to play the DS titles again.

Score: 6.0 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Guilty Party (Wii)

Despite some sticking points in the mini-game department, its quirky personality and replay value make Guilty Party one of the best multiplayer party games to hit the Wii.  If you regularly play games with your family or friends, Wideload’s “whodunit” shouldn’t be missed.

Score: 8.5 - Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Hydro Thunder Hurricane (Xbox Live Arcade)

It only has a few shortcomings, one of them, being in the over-saturated racing genre, but new comers and veterans alike will enjoy themselves.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, it is worth your time and cash.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC)

There is only one thing that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days succeeds at. It makes Kane & Lynch: Dead Men look really, really good.

Score: 1.0 -- Epic Fail (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no skill, no depth and no talent. These games have nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.)

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PC)

Easily one of the best titles this summer -- digital or otherwise ... I feel comfortable saying that Guardian of Light may be the most fun I’ve had with Miss Croft in 14 years; it’s that good.

Score: 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Madden NFL 11 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, iOS)

This is the best-playing Madden I’ve ever seen, and it’s a big step up from last year ... Dancing on the fine line of making an eminently accessible game that’s still deep enough for the hardcore fanbase is a tightrope-balancing act that often sinks lesser developers. But EA Tiburon has demonstrated that they’re clearly up to the challenge.

Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Mafia II (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)

Folks who love a decent mafia tale -- one of family ties, betrayal, and revenge -- will want to experience the world of Mafia II. Its competent game mechanics and absorbing narrative are enough to warrant a playthrough.

Score (Xbox 360, PC): 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Score (PlayStation 3): 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Metroid: Other M (Wii)

Many fans will be able to look past Other M’s many issues to find a pleasurable adventure, and I’d encourage them to, if only to experience what may be the best-told tale in the Metroid universe ... But to put it bluntly, Other M simply doesn’t meet the high-quality standards fans have come to expect.

Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Monday Night Combat (Xbox Live Arcade)

It's truly a fine little game, but one that requires you to do a little bit of work up front ... ultimately it's a game that looks great, has a lot of heart, and provides a fun, unique, and undeniably addictive multiplayer experience that's well worth the fifteen bucks.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)

At its core, the game is an unsanctioned sequel to River City Ransom ... Scott Pilgrim is a buggy mess. Screen tearing; game freezes; character freezes; unresponsive menus; music drop-outs -- you name it; it's all in there ... I love this game.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Shank (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network)

Shank is yet another in a long line of quality digital download titles, a violent and cathartic end to summer. Its sometimes aggravating difficulty might not be for everyone, but anyone looking to bring back that warm, pit of your stomach feeling of playing Double Dragon for the first time needn’t look any further.

Score8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

StarCraft II (PC)


Simply put, StarCraft II takes everything that was great about the first game, gives it a wonderful new upgrade, and tacks on some extra features that serve as a bonus to an already-solid product. If you are completely unfamiliar with StarCraft, I don't know if there's any hope for you.

Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Ufouria: The Saga (Wii Virtual Console)

I had a lot of fun with the game. Everyone who likes old-fashioned videogame weirdness and 2D exploration will get their money's worth.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Viral Survival (WiiWare)

In a nutshell, Viral Survival is Snake with some extra goodies ... pure arcade score attack action. What you put into it is what you get out ... It's challenging, addictive, and just plain ol' dandy.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

PORTABLE

BlayzBloo: Super Melee Brawlers Battle Royale (DSiWare)

The problem is that the content here is generally uninspired. With a better gameplay hook and some more interesting variables, BlayzBloo could have been a contender.

Score: 6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

G.G Series Ninja Karakuri Den (DSiWare)

Ninja Karakuri Den is too short and suffers from a dearth of content, yet it's enjoyable and cheap enough to just barely, barely, squeak by with a recommendation.

Score: 6.0 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Monster Dash (iPhone)

All told, Monster Dash is a great title and well worth the meager asking price. You'll get your money's worth, and with Halfbrick promising to update the game with new monsters and levels, you can't go wrong!

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Shining Force (iPhone)

The iPhone's touchscreen is ideal for RPGs ... It's not like Sega did a lot of work to put this out on the iPhone, but that doesn't change the fact that Shining Force was a fantastic game. It still is, and for only $2.99, it's a no-brainer.

Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, it is worth your time and cash.

Star Wars: The Battle For Hoth (iPhone)

Even taking into account some control issues and a lack of strategic depth compared to other games in the genre, Star Wars: The Battle For Hoth succeeds in being both a good tower defense game and a great licensed Star Wars game.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP)

Valkyria Chronicles II is one of those so-good-you'll-lose-all-track-of-time games. It's a big, shiny, AAA-class game in a tiny little package, and despite its small size it still does a fair bit of justice to the franchise name.

Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Ys Seven (PSP)

don't expect Ys Seven to blow your mind. It won't. But you may be surprised at just how pleasing it is to play. I couldn't put it down after I got started.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, it is worth your time and cash.)

ACCESORIES

MLG Legend (Chrome, amber lens)

They're doing something cool to your eyesight, though I'm not sure I could tell you what exactly without regurgitating some of the marketing speak that has been thrown our way. There's a marked difference when looking through them, especially if you play a lot of high-action games.

Phenom Graphite 3D glasses


In the end I think you're paying to not look stupid in the theater in 3D movies. And you're getting comfort as a bonus, as the glasses are nice and light, and have nice nose pieces and padding over the ears.

MOVIES

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

It may be snarky, but this is still the first true videogame movie.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

BOOKS

The Art of Resident Evil 5

The Art of Resident Evil 5 delivers. I can't imagine a more complete and compelling look into the process behind the creation of this monumental blockbuster title.

Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Street Fighter World Warrior Encyclopedia

Other than a typo or two, and the previously mentioned omissions of a few games from the Street Fighter Universe, this book is pretty much perfect. The only other complaint I have is that unlike the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe series that I grew up with, there's no specific mention of how much these Street Fighters can bench press.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Udon's Art of Capcom 2

The new stuff here is amazing, some of my favorite Udon work to date. New fans and old fans of Udon alike would do well to pick it up. And don't go looking for scans from this book on the internet.

Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)



Matthew Razak, Contributor
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Monday reviews aren't on Monday. It's old school, trust me. OK, so I've been and editor for a while now. I probably should fill this part in a bit more fully. I've been here a while. In most a... more   |   staff directory

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