MEMBER PROFILE FOR StudioAlex

Total Reviews: 18
Average Overall Score Given: 7.68889 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 2689

Reviews
Star Wars: Battlefront 2

In gaming, there are few exercises quite as thrilling as mowing down a group of stormtroopers with Luke Skywalker and his trademark green light saber. Hell, video games might as well have been invented for the clear purpose of letting us realize our Jedi fantasies beyond swinging around a flashlight in the privacy, and secret shame, of our own homes. What's really amazing is that so few games baring the Star Wars license have been worth playing, given the purpose of video games is to let me play as a Jedi and chop dudes' arms off, inexplicably not cauterizing the wound, and to convince girls that they do indeed want to come home with me. Wait. You didn't read that. You forgot that last part and these are not the droids you're looking for. So how does Star Wars: Battlefront II fare in the boyhood fantasy department? Well, you do get to kill a bunch of guys with lightsabers, but there's no manipulating females with your force abilities. Regrettably. Battlefront 2 manages to improve on many aspects of its predecessor and introduces two new major elements to gameplay: Heroes and Space Battles. The bad news is it doesn't develop either concept to its true fruition and much of the game's content and graphics are recycled from last year's game. I think maybe we should spend longer than a year developing a game you want people to spend their hard earned money on. But that's just me.

As I said earlier, there are two major additions to gameplay: heroes and space battles. Many complaints about the first game centered on not being able to play as a Jedi. Assumedly, they weren't in the original because of balance issues, but Pandemic has found a way to make it work by limiting Jedi respawn rates and by limiting it to one player per team. While they work pretty well in standard conquest mode, capture the flag is completely unbalanced by the Jedi who can literally run from side of a map to the other in one burst. But you're likely not going to play much capture the flag in this game because it doesn't work very well, to say the least. But I'll get to that later. The real problem with the heroes is that not all of them are particularly of equal use. For example, the most devastating force weapon in this game is without a doubt the saber throw. Well, some of the Jedi don't have it. Yoda has a force push and a force pull. Both of which are pretty useless, especially when they don't work half of the time. (Yoda can lift a tie fighter from a swamp but can't knock Droidekas over?) Even more bizarre is that the most powerful hero in the game isn't even a Jedi: Han Solo. Now I love Han, and I especially loved killing Bobba with ease, imagining the cries of every star wars fan boy that won't let a minor, pointless character die in the Sarlaac's belly. Sporting a triple shot blaster with precise accuracy, Han is the most useful and deadliest hero in the game. He evens routes all of the other characters in the heroes & villains mode, which let's everyone play as any of the hero characters but, inexplicable, only on the Mos Eisley rehash map. I guess hokey religions and ancient weapons truly are no match for a good blaster at your side.

The second gameplay addition, space battles, are great but also infuriating because they show far more potential than what was actually achieved. Aside from the obvious aspect of piloting tie fighters in epic space battles against the Empire, the game also allows you to dock onto enemy ships and to sabotage critical systems from the inside. What's annoying is all you get are points. Space battles are determined by which team gets to a certain number of points the fastest. You're not destroying that super star destroyer, you're earning points. Minor efforts, like downing enemy bombers earns a handful of points while taking out critical systems or enemy support frigates earns you considerably more. The problem is that taking out life support or other things on enemy ships don't have a real, concrete feeling to them because they don't actually affect the enemy's ability to do battle. It just gets you more points. The main ship doesn't explode under the weight of your awesome skills, you just get to 180 points and the game is over. Epic, eh? I love the fact that this mode is objective based, with actual goals instead of just holding spawn points. But it just doesn't live up to it potential.

Another new addition is capture the flag. You'll play this once or twice and realize it's not very fun, single flag especially. I think the problem lies in the fact that most of your team can't communicate as they are just stupid bots. Unless you somehow are running a game smoothly with 24 players, then I envy you, but take comfort in the fact that you're probably a fibber. Single flag is especially annoying because there is no indicator when it is dropped so if an AI buddy kills the flag carrier and grabs it, you have no idea where he is. So you basically camp around your home base until the enemy brings the flag to you.

The basic gameplay has undergone general improvements. Rate of fire is faster, thankfully, but not fast enough for me. The troops are smarter but still do enough heroic juades maneuvers, wandur-blaster-fire tactics and investigating-the-time-delayed-bdestroy-enemy-auto turrets strategies to assure you that they road the short bus to the death star. Having them back you up in battle works much more smoothly. Also, enemy AI no longer has the ability to sense your reticule is on them from long distances, like in the last game where they start doing little dances even though they shouldn't be aware of your presence.

Some caveats to the general gameplay. Why have air vehicle been removed fro mt the land battles? Why repeat some of the old maps but not all of them? Why does Leia look like a troll?

Graphically, this game is a loser. It betrays its PS2 roots, though I hear it looks a lot worse on that system. A lot has happened since the first Battlefront: Halo 2, Doom 3, Chaos Theory. These little action figures aren't going to dazzle anyone anytime soon. Most of the textures are dull, especially inside the ships. You'd think the inside of a space ship was the most boring place in the world according to this game. But it's gameplay over graphics, right? I think Lucas Arts has more than enough resources to give us the best looking games possible even if they don't know how exactly to make the most playable game they can.

In the sound department; this is a Star Wars game. What else is there to say? You've heard the music before. It's great stuff, but we all have it memorized by now. The sound effects are the same as the movies. The heroes even shout stuff out during battle, though few of them actually sound like the real actors. There is little original going on here, aside from the narration on the single player campaign, which is pretty much forgettable to be honest. Some new tunes would have been nice but LucasArts and Pandemic knew it was unnecessary to move this product off of the shelves.

Suggestions: Let's spend longer than a year developing the next one. After the thrill of wielding the light saber wore off, its faults were all too clear.

Overall Score: 7.6 / 10 Psychonauts

Tim Schafer and his talented colleagues at Double Fine have created the finest platformer available not only for the Xbox, but for all current generation consoles. How lucky you Xboxers are that you get to play it first. Psychonauts is a unique, fully realized world complemented with beautiful, artistically-minded aesthetics, addictive gameplay, and a touching regard for the humanity of its characters.

You are Raz, a psychonaut wannabe at camp Whispering Rock, a psychic training ground. Counted among your peers are fellow adolescent campers, each embodying a specific personality type (the lothario, the bully, the bully's henchman, etc). Guiding you on your path are the counselors who, when not attending to the delicate young minds, are usually saving the world with their own fantastic powers.

All is well at the tranquil little summer camp, that is, until someone starts stealing people's brains! As Raz you will adventure through not only ten separate, distinct mindscapes, but also through a number of real world locations.

Each mind you enter has its own story to tell. Some are silly, like helping a descendant of Napoleon defeat his great-great-gre(the one inside his mind, anyway) at a table top strategy game, while others are deeply touching, like uncovering the torments of a fallen s these mental abnormalities takes an impressive amount of time for a platformer. Depending on how much you get into uncovering all of the game's secrets it could take you from about fifteen to twenty hours to complete.

As Raz, you have all the typical abilities of a platforming hero: jumping, punching, climbing, sliding etc. What makes our little psychonaut different is his psychic abilities, earned by obtaining merit badges, which allow him to levitate, turn invisible, see through the eyes of others, confuse enemies, and set them on fire via pyrokinesis. Yes, you can set the cute little fuzzies around camp on fire. But why would you want to do that? Sicko.

Your merit badges are either earned through story events, or as rewards for increasing Raz's psychonaut level. His level is increased by collecting various items throughout the real and psychic worlds. After earning your powers, they will subsequently be powered up by increasing your level, affecting their damage, duration, or area. It may seem like powering up Raz by way of collecting is optional, but many of the levels require you to be stronger in order to get past its puzzles.

Each mind you play through has a different gameplay mechanic comprising it. Every time you open a new world you'll be amazed at how fresh the gameplay is because you'll be doing something different from what you did before. I'd love to describe more but I think it's be a crime to not let you discover each world for your self.

I have two small caveats. First, the figment collectibles border on ridiculous. On one level in particular they blend in with the background so well I almost had a migraine looking for that one of 187 that I had yet to find.

My second complaint is that the game is too easy. I don't remember ever losing to a boss, and if I did I certainly didn't lose a second time. This is perplexing because this game, despite it's cartoon like appearance, is not for little kids. Perhaps DF wanted this to be more accessible to casual gamers. I guess it worked because my girl friend, who won't play anything that isn't Dr. Mario, likes this game. But from an enthusiast's perspective it's a detriment.

I'd have to describe the look of Psychonauts as reminiscent of those Nick Toons back in the nineties. The characters and world are beautifully realized, but ugly in an appealing, purposeful way. Skin tones range into blues, greens, and other odd color choices. It's very much a cartoon world, though it's geared toward adults.

Every location is unique from its counterparts. Some even have retooled color palettes that affect the look of Raz and his psi-powers.

I am somewhat disappointed in a few aspects of the graphics. First, I wish that the other campers were payed the same loving attention that Raz was. Also, some levels could have used more detail in the landscape. Lastly, the movies looked exactly like the game, so why not just render them in game? They would look better without the slight grain of using FMV.

The sound in this game is well done. The voice acting is top notch and often funny and witty. While some of the jokes just fall flat, much of it is spot on. While it's not as good as Armed & Dangerous in this department, it's certainly leaps and bounds beyond other games.

The music is good, if forgettable. While everything is certainly appropriate for the level, I just can't seem to recall a melody or anything of the sort. It's all background music; it's not meant to distract the player from what's going on, I guess. They did a good job, however, of using the gameplay to dictate the tone and pace of the music.

Overall Score: 9.8 / 10 Deus Ex: Invisible War

Overall: Deus Ex isn't so much a first person shooter as it is a first person adventure. Aside from shootin' dudes, you take on a multitude of tasks like gambling, gathering intelligence, getting poor little girls admitted to selective private schools, or helping one coffee chain beat another cofee chain. Did I mention you also decide the fate of humanity? Anyway, it's all executed quite well with engaging gameplay, story, and characters. You play Alex D, a hot shot graduate of the Tarsus Academy, an institution training the new elite of Deus Ex's broken world. How broken? Well, you see places like Chicago and Seattle, but there is no mention of the United States. If you're familiar with the first game, you know what to expect. If not, just count on that nothing is at it first appears.

My only true bone of contention is with the different endings. None of them really satisfied me, which may have been the point of the developers. Well, that was a mistake. But at least they went through the trouble of giving us four (plus one secret, joke ending) to choose from.

Gameplay: If you're familiar with the first game, expect more of the same but more streamlined. You no longer need to purchase skills and only worry about what type of biomods, cybernetic augmentations that either improve an attribute of your character or afford him a new ability, to buy. When you choose a certain biomod, like regeneration, you give up the ability to use another biomod from the same category. Some say the game is dumbed down. It may be but I don't believe the gameplay suffers from it. I think it actually works better because they aren't any & skills you might spend points on only to find they suck so much a--- well, you get my point.

The true beauty of this game is the freedom it allows you in completing a task. Near the start of the game you are ordered to report to the WTO office. Assuming you do it, you need to get transport there. At the transport, you find you can board without paying the new 500 pass fee. There are at least three possibilities for you to get passed this obstacle. One, pay like a dummy. Two, wipe out the jerks and ride for free. Or three, take control of a clean bot and use it block the beams blocking the transport entrance that would otherwise mean instant death for you.
You can even take on jobs that are contrary to one another asnd find ways to finish them. A club owner hires you to kill a man. Said man hires you to kill another man hiding out at club. You kill second man, return to first mark for reward. Kill him, then find club owner for the original bounty.
That, in essence, is this game. Giving the player optional tasks and allowing him to solve said tasks how he chooses. Want to be boy scout? Go right ahead. Want to be a psycho who blows the head off the little girls, callously laughing as you're chastised for your immoral acts? That's you're decision. Want to be something in between? It's entirely up to you.

One caveat. The amount of side quests drops significantly with each new locale you visit. The first city took several hours to adequately explore. Trier took all of a half an hour.

Graphics: Solid but not top of the line. Certainly an improvement over the first game, whose character designs made me want to cry. The use of light is quite good as well. What lags is the quality of the textures. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the scenes from Halo 2 but what's here is not as good as it should be this late in the game.

What is truly impressive is the physics. They are hard to explain. They aren't always life-like (a trash can, for instance, moves as if its weight is equally distributed, not as if it would have more weight at its base)but they are loads of fun to mess with. I spent a good hour throwing the dead bodies around the see what they would do. Pretty neat stuff.

Audio: Excellent voice acting and sound effects. Can't really remember the music except for the NG Resonance tunes which were mostly annoying. I did like the tune at her AI kiosk, however. Anyway, characters often have conversations with others that are funny and clue you in to key information. Every bit of dialogue is recorded, even your responses, which I feel is significant in that it increases the feeling of immersion.

Suggestions: Hmmm. A more satisfying ending for one. Second, more side quests. I'm talking Morrowind here. I think next time the game should take place in one huge, coherent, gameplay zone as opposed to four or five smaller ones.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Beyond Good and Evil

Overall: I have to admit, I wasn't exactly plussed about playing this game. It was mostly because I was ignorant of what it true nature was. All I knew was what little was reported from E3: Micheal Ancel, the genius behind the Rayman series, was making a game about a girl who saved her planet from despicable invaders by... taking pictures? That's the French for ya!

I was wrong to doubt. During the course of this game, I got to beat the snot out of alien baddies with a remarkabley intuitive set of bo moves, solve puzzles that were well thought and implemented, sneak around like Sam Fisher, compete in hovercraft races that put many dedicated racing games to shame, experience the wonder of space flight, interact with unique and interesting characters, and take part in scavenger quests that were more fun than tedious. Oh yeah, taking pictures was one of the most enjoyable parts of the game.

The feelings of immersion, adventure, and excitement this game creates are truly remarkable and rare. Every part of it is fun, interesting, and delivered in a way that is so cinematically beautiful, you'll wish it laster longer. Which is this game's only fault. It's so despicably short at ten to fifteen hours it seems criminal. I wish every part were exagerated or lengthened. I wish there were ten cities instead of one. Forty races instead of four. A hundred hours of gameplay rather than fifteen.

Of course, most games are just fine at ten to fifteen hours, any longer and their annoying qualities would ruin the entire the games as a whole. So maybe my discontent at its length is merely a reflection of the sheer quality of the product. Or maybe they should've given us another five hours of gameplay.

Gameplay: As I described before, you'll perform a multitude of different activities while guiding Jade on her quest to free her idealic planet from the alien conquerors. The main style of play is reminiscent of the latest incarnations of Zelda. You guide Jade through the world getting into battles and finding your way through various fantasy locations. The fighting, however, is done sans a lock on and I believe is more fun because of it. Along the way you'll upgrade different aspects of your character as well as her hovercraft which controls perfectly. There are a quite a few mini games, including one that resembles air hockey and is quite fun. Square could learn of few things about emjoyable mini games from Ubisoft.

Graphics: The unfortunate fact of the matter is this game's graphics betrays is playstation 2 roots. The fortunate fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter. A truly gifted game designer overcomes technical weaknesses with truly inspired visual design. You'll encounter things in this game that will be hard to forget. I know I'll never forget the first time I entered the main canals of the city, watching as airships busily floating by and their reflections in the perfectly rendered water gluided with them.

The visual flaw with this game is that some of the characters don't match up to the visual bar set by the creation of Jade and some of her companions. If some of the uglier inhabitants had been rendered so beautifully, I'd give this a five easily.

Audio: First of all, the music is excellent. Never intrusive, it always seem to cue at the right moment and always fits in theme of the present visuals. There isn't a whole lot of it but is is of substantial quality.

The sound effects are likewise of high caliber. A good comparison would be to about any Star Wars game. I particularly enjoyed the sound of the hovercrafts laser cannons.

The voice acting is strong, but does sound wooden at times. Still, a valiant effort.

Suggestions: Make it longer, please. I'm sure a sequel is in the works, so please, give us more!

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee

Overall: I was blown away by this game. So much so, I sorely regret not having played the first two in the oddworld series. From the moment I watched Abe hold his hand up to match the shape indented on his moon to the very last crate of labor eggs I saved I was entranced by the sheer wit and imagination of the world (surely a mighty blow to the hackneyed and generic settings and environments of most games {cough, Brute Force} and the brilliance of the gameplay.

Alas, I could tell that there was much more meant for this game and it must have been rushed to meet the Xbox launch date. This is a clear cut example of the faulted masterpiece.

Gameplay: Excellent. While there were some cruddy jumping exercises, this game handles 3D smoothly. Much of what go's on is puzzle solving, but there are other elements like strategy and good old run and jump gameplay in the mix. The game isn't too hard to beat, and you can make it harder by trying to save each and every laborer, fuzzle, and egg. My problems have mostly to do with Munch's limited movement. Why can't he swim down into the water. I'm sure the designers wanted to implement such a feature but were forced to abandon the idea. Also, the puzzles could have been a lot harder.

Graphics: Ok, this game's graphics are not the best. While the textures are pretty good for their time, their just isn't a lot of variety in what you see. Classic moment, Abe and Much are leading a group of Mudokons through the vykkers lab. Suddenly you walk into an open area where a beautiful sunset bathes the group in warm orange light. You think to yourself, "this is more like it." And then the game ends, d'oh!

But I give visual a higher score because, as I said before, the only way to describe the artistic design of the world and characters is wildly imaginative. I am quickly growing tired of games that look like they were drawn by guys who make saturday morning cartoons. Brute Force, I'm talking about you.

Audio: While I can't think of anything particularly wrong, I don't think sound was perfect.
The voice acting is great. I especially love the option to make characters you possess goad other characters into attacking them. The sound effects work well enough, though they lean on the cartoony side. The music is kind of there. It's not bad, but it is probably the weakest aural component and pulls down the overall score.

Suggestions: Ok, I could tell this wasn't all you had wanted it to be, but I'll say my peace anyway. Let Munch really swim, in all directions. Expand on the strategy elements when using armed mudokons. I thinking switching to an over head view and letting Abe yell out commands would be really fun.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Max Payne

Overall: This is a simply excellent title. It captures the feel of movies like Hard Boiled and The Killer very well. It's obvious this is what the developers wanted. My only complaints are that the over the top story was too over the top and that it was far too linear.

Gameplay: Consists mostly of running around and shooting guys in the most stylish way possible. It's hard to grap how fun this game is from watching it because it seems that all you do is dive around corners and shoot goons in the head. Somehow, the formula holds very well for the eight hours or so you play it. I can't forget to mention the bullet time, which slows down gameplay buit allows you to aim your gun in realtime, mimicking the crackshot heroics of Chow Yun Fat. There is an awesome collection of weaponry, ranging from a lead pipe to a grenade launcher. Strangely, my favorite was the two barettas; it just made me feel like a man!
All isn't perfect, however. The sniper rifle is a tad annoying as you can't zoom out. Also, the design of the levels is extrememly linear. While this keeps the game moving--you shouldn't get lost more than once or twice--it also means that there is very little exploration. Example, you bring your one man army into a huge office building, but luckily your guided through it all by a series of locked and unlocked doors.

Graphics: Very pretty. Nice, gritty look. I'm surprised the game wasn't more graphic with the violence but that doesn't matter because that doesn't make the game any more fun. My only complaint is that there seems to be too many load screens. I have feeling this game was lifted from the ps2 version so the developers had to make concessions for that systems small britches, as it were. The xbox should've been able to handle all a lot more considering the many load screens.

Audio: The music is fitting, but not memorable. The sound effects are well done. A strong point is the voice acting, which was mostly good. Apart from requisite story modes, you can listen to the goons go on about different subjects, from job perks to what makes a good action movie. Much better than the random string of statements you overhear NPCs go on about in games like GTA:VC.

Suggestions: Keep it coming. Tone down the cheese. I felt like Max was actually just trying out some exercises he learned at a prose workshop. Also, more exploration.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Robotech: Battlecry

Overall: Well, it does have a cool stetting, and the graphics are pretty, but this game is frustrating. That's not challenging, but frustrating.

Gameplay: Choosing between three forms of your veritech on fly, you take on your giant oppressors in mostly fun missions set all over the world and in space. The problem, this game is stupidly difficult.

Graphics: Almost perfect. The problems, well, this is a ps2 game and it shows in that respect. Also, The cities do not look distinct at all.

Audio: Good music, sound effects and better voice acting make this a treat. But I don't play games for the sound.

Suggestions: This could have been awesome, but you tried to fake a lasting gameplay experience by making it frustratingly hard. Heck, we even sunk so low as to use cheat codes and the game was still hard.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Shenmue 2

Overall: I have this fond memory of watching the Karate Kid as a little boy and getting really excited by the finale and going around punching and kicking random things (the wall, the sofa, my dad)and this game makes me feel very much the same way. It's like a kung fu movie, with the action and melodrama you could want.

Gameplay: There a lot of reasons to give this game a perfect like the superb fighting engine, the easy to grasp mini games, the awesome, I repeat, awesome emulated games. But !&%$@#* it, Ryo is so meandering when he is just walking around. I think they were more worried with his animation than with egress. Also, the qte's get pretty hard in this game, and it is absolutely no fun to have to do entire battles over multiple times because the developer throws a qte in at the very end.

Graphics: I have a lot of trouble believing this was originally on the DC. The textures actually like they have texture. The faces are gorgeous too. Not all is perfect, however. The natural landscapes don't quite match up to the artificials. The horizons also seemed at a level lower than the rest of the game.

Audio: Well, there is nothing really wrong with the sound, it just doesn't blow you away. But this isn't a star wars game, so there isn't much reason for a sonic orgasm in your face. The music is very good, but stays ion the background. Some of the sound effects are questionable, such as the the skin stretching noise. Also, the voice acting ranges from sedated to zombie. They really need to direct the actors to be more lively. The only lively guy was Don-whatever his name was.

Suggestions: Please bring Shenmue 3 here. More fighting. Bring back the forklifts, they were way more fun than this left, left, right crap.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Enclave

Overall: This is a great game that would be in the same realm as Halo if not for the one, single design flaw. This is a hard game. It's not bad for a game to be challenging, unless, of course, you review games for Extended Play or OXM. It is bad for a game to be frustrating because you have to replay levels for hours because there are rarely second chances given. And those second chances often come at a steep price. Imagine how much you would like Halo if there were no midmission saving or checkpoints. That is this game. Incredibley high quality but so hard, only true gamers need apply.

Enough of what's wrong, let me go over what is right. The gameplay works. The characters each have their own uses, exceptiong, maybe, the bombadier type. The graphics are stunning. The music fitting for the genre. The story, well, who cares.

Gameplay: One of the coolest things about this game is that you can't just walk up to the bosses and cut them in half. Each has its gimmick, and must be destroyed in a certain way. This can be a problem because, as I said before, the game makes you play nearly all the levels with one life, with a couple of levels actually having a checkpoint that costs you gold to use. Still, I appreciate the old school approach to the boss battles.

Now, allow me to argue some points certain morons in the media use as faults for this game. First; no lock-on makes this game unplayable. What idiots. This game handles hand-to-hand melee superbly. It's pretty much about timing. Attack, block and pull back. Attack. Not rocket science. But I can't expect people who give dance games 4 out of 5's to have any real weighted opinion on the matter.
Second; the ranged characters are useless. Did you button-mashers even play this game? Certain levels are basically unbeatable without them. How did you get past the first lava stage? With a knight? Imay be using harsh language but this game deserves much better marks.

Anyway. Another cool aspect is that you get to outfit your chosen character however you choose. As you go deeper into the game, you gain better, and more expensive, gear. Each character has thier own list of gear they may use, but their is a lot of sharing between classes. Don't expect you Knight to use the bow and arrow, but he is quite handy with the crossbow.
I would give this category a perfect if it weren't for, let's all say it togethor now, no midmission saving.

Graphics: Simply gorgeous. It looks like a PC game. I haven't had the opportunity to see this game running on anything better than a normal tube, but I can only imagine how beautiful it must be. From the impossibley realized characters to the uncanny wall textures to the fluidity of the frame rate; these are the best graphics on the Xbox since Jet Set Radio.

Audio: The sound effects were well done, as was the soundtrack. While I wouldn't neccesarily buy it, it fit the game perfectly.

Suggestions: I think you know what I going to say so I'll make it quick. Saving.

Also, why not give the characters names instead of just classes.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind

Overall: All I can do is shutter. This is closest anyone has ever come to replicating the pen and paper experience. The only thing lacking is a lan connection to play with a party of buddies.

Gameplay: Do you like RPGs? If so, you will like this game. This game offers more freedom than any before it. The controls are prefectly attuned to the Xbox controller. Ingenious really. The game sets a new benchmark in interactivity. See that guy standing over the hill. Let's go talk to him. While we chat him up, we could check his pockets for gold. Maybe we should just sneak behind him and stab him in the back. How about we summon a fearsome demon and send him to kill the traveler, or we could snipe him with our lightening enchanted arrows? If we do decide to just talk to him he may have a job for us. Hey look, there is some floating squid thing in the sky! Take this and multyply it by a thousand and you can start to get a feeling how exspansive this game is.

Graphics: While much of what is here is quite good, some sacrifices were made to keep this game as big as it is. Namely, the humanoid models. Let's face it, these aren't Shenmue caliber faces, but everything else in the game is extrememly well done. The water affects are mind bending.

Audio: The sound effects seem realistic. While I don't know what it actually sounds like to seperate bone form flesh wish a claymore, I imagine it to be something like what you hear ion the game. The music is good, but drifts in and out at such a low level you pretty much forget about its existence.

Suggestions: Hmmm. I'm more akin to just wait and see what you guys come up with next. See how they try to one up you with Project Ego, and then one up them.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Hunter: The Reckoning

Overall: To put it simply: this is a fun game. Nothing matters as a much as gameplay, and this game excells in that arena. Sadly, the presentation isn't as good as the gameplay, but that is forgivable considering the overall quality of the game. I have to admit I went into this one weary, but after a couple of minutes of clobberin' zombies all over the pavement with a buddy, I was hooked.

Gameplay: Nearly perfect. After selecting from four initial characters, you basically just run around killing stuff. It's like guantlet but it's actually fun. There are plenty of weapons to choose from as well as various magics to spice up the gameplay. The main drawback is that there isn't a whope lot of variety to what you're doing. The game largely consists of cutting things in half until you find the one thing that has the key to the next area. It only loses a half a point for this because the game is just that much fun to play. The difficulty curve is spot on also. Just when you think you can't handle anymore, this game forcing to tap into that warrior-gamer spirit lying dormant within you.

Graphics: When I saw videos of this game I thought it was ugly, but now that I have actually seen the real thing, it is quite pretty. The graphics are nice. The zombies fall apart and explode convincingly. Not surprisingly, the game does falter when the camera is zoomed in because the characters are really only detailed enough for the general, bird's-eye view.

The visual appeal outside of the game graphics are disapointing. I couldn't imagine a lamer character design set, excepting, of course, the padre as there is nothing cooler than a priest with a shotgun in his hands. Honestly, I don't want play as a redneck or a dumb raver chick. And what is with the Defender's pantleg? Does she not make enough money as a Hunter to buy some new levi's when a zombie eats half of the ones she has on?

Audio: Good, but not great. The sound effects are well done but the music leaves a lot to be desired. I admit that I liked the music fading in and out as the action got more intense, but that got old after the first level and I usually just put something on in the stereo as it makes the game more fun to play with music. The music there isnb't to great and that Coma band is laughable.

This game would get a higher score but again, a developer has refused to allow players to use their own soundtracks. This game would've been perfect for it. I could certyasinly find something better than some cookie cutter gothic-electronic crap.

Suggestions: Let's see. More choosable characters. Hire a new character designer as I don't like playing as a guy named "Deuce." Hire Yo !&%$@#* aka Amano. He's good. Try to include more variety in the gameplay for the sequel, as I imagine by that time I just may be tired of simply cutting rots in half. Let me put this last one in type, as this is addressed to all of the game developer's out there: QUIT BEING SOUND NAZIS AND LET US USE OUR OWN SOUNDTR

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Jet Set Radio Future

Overall: There are times when games actually live up to the hype. Improving nearly every aspect of the original, this game offers fun, challenging gameplay for both one and multi-player gaming, a superb and fully realized visual style, and an overall hipness factor that will make anyone smile.

Gameplay: Whereas I was cautious of the changes they made to this game, it turns out they were all for the better. This is a super streamlined action/exploration game. Gameplay pretty much consists of grinding, skating, spray painting, and fightin' pigs. What more could you want?

Graphics: If you don't "get" why this game has the most original ans best overall presentaion of any game yet, we are just too different to even be legally allowed to exist on the same planet. If all you want is realistic looking things, go watch a movie.

Audio: Wow, another knockout. While there are way too many rehashes from the last game, and not enough new stuff by the awesome, Nirvana-esque Guitar Vader, this game still blows any other soundtracks away. Unless you actually like having to listen to the Offspring. Anyway, the american additions arenb't nearly as painful as the ones in Jet Grind, so that is also an improvement.

Suggestions: Just bring us more.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Batman Vengeance

Overall: This is one of those games that could've been great. Obviously, the license is incredibley popular, which is amazing considering how old it is. The setting is well done, as well as the voice acting. While I thought there was too much emphasis on getting every villain in this game, the story was kind of interesting. The gameplay, you know, the part that matters, is pretty poor.

Gameplay: The gameplay divides itself up in sequences of exploring/fighting and driving/flying. The former plays pretty well while the latter is reminiscent of those terrible FMV games that were released for the Sega CD. I won't even go into how bad they were but will focus on what was wrong with the exploring/fighting segment.

First, what's with the limited use of the bat grapple. Tenchu had a similar item and you could use it basically anywhere. I realise Gotham City is many times larger and more complex than a Japanese village, but then so is the Xbox when compared with the original Playstation.

Also, why no detective elements? Batman is a detective. He has a brain, as well as the toned physique.

LAstly, what is up with those jumping sequences? Do you not have play testers? THat jump in the mushroom room was, flat out, poorly thought through.

Graphics: Kind of a mixed bag. The backgrounds look good. THe models don't, yet they animate very well. Still, I expect more.

Audio: Well done. Voice acting was very good, as was the music. All of the sound effects from the show were in.

Suggestions: Remember that 3D isn't good for jumping exercises, unless you're Miyamoto or Naka. Revamp those horrid driving/flying sequences. Use a story that is more focused. Allow more freedom. Incorporate detective elements. Hire play testers, or fire the ones you have and hire me.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 The Simpsons Road Rage

Overall: Well, it IS the Simpsons. Unfortunately, that is absolutely the only thing this game has to offer. But they did include tons of visual and audio jokes from the show. Everything else: sub par.

Gameplay: Don't let people tell you this plays like Crazy Taxi. This plays more like a pale imitation of Runabout, which was a pale imitation Crazy Taxi. Playing this makes me realise just how refined Crazy Taxi was. The physics are terrible, there is absolutely no drifting and the car stops on a dime which leaves no challenge at all, only two of the five maps seem to have been given any thought, and don't get me started on all of the instances that show off a general lack of polish. Your car constantly snags on walls for no reason, sometimes it flips over and there's nothing you can do but wait the timer out, and the bigger, etc...

Also, the various modes are pretty pointless. The mission mode is basically the same thing over and over: go knock stuff down. Only one actually required you to reach a point in a specific amount of time and I beat it on my first try.

THe unlocking system is just stupid. Forcing people to earn $100,000 and up just makes it tedious. Crazy Taxi had only one extra item, which I didn't even know about until a cheat was made available to unlock it, and somehow I didn't get bored with that game and I played it for months. I was bored of this thing after a weekend.

Graphics: Yuck.

First question: Why no cell shading?

Second question: What are those things on Marge and Lisa's eyes?


Audio: Remarkabley well done. How could they go wrong with all those voice actors willing to work on the video game? A lot of what is said is funny, but as always in video games, it repeats, repeats, and repeats. So pretty much the best thing about this game becomes tedious.

Also, the music is forgettable.

Suggestions: Uggh. Please quit raping this franchise. I love the show too much to bear another disgusting display. But if you must make a sequel, which I doubt as I can remember no specific Simpsons game ever getting a sequel, pay more attention to what you are Ripping off. Better yet, just let Hitmaker develop it for you.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 Star Wars: Obi-Wan

Overall: It's Star Wars, need I say more? Unfortunately, that seems to be the only thing Lucas Arts sees as what a game needs to be considered a success. But this game is actually very good and a lot of fun to play. It sports some good-to-great graphics, an incredible score, moments a pure-adrenaline-play. And did I mention it's Star Wars?

Gameplay: Ok, I believe that the developers did the best they could in this department. They manage to sneak in a ton of the jedi tricks, but some of them are comepletely useless; time slow down and the saber throw come to mind. The controls are decent, with a stiff learning curve. You won't actually look like you know what you are doing until the third level or so. Even once you have mastered it, there are moments of akwardness. My only big complaint(which wouldn't have even occured to me six months ago, but that's standards for ya), no cooperative two player mode. Really, after Halo, this should be a requirement for every game that willcome out unto eternity.

Graphics: What a criminally mixed bag!!!! Some are absolutely top notch, such as any level taking place on Naboo, while others make you wonder what the heck they were thinking, like poor Obi's face! Luckily you don't have to look at his face much, and his backside is well animated and lit and what not. Definately more good than bad as far as graphics are concerned.

Audio: The soundtrack is, of course, phenominal. The only thing that didn't let me down in any way with Phantom Menace was the music, and that fine tradition continues here. Star Wars will always be worth seeing as long as its soundtrack remains top notch. There are some rough spots in the recorded voices, like how Obi always sounds like he's gonna cry, but the other characters do a very good job sounding like their famous counterparts. Qui Gon in particular.

Suggestions: Hmm. Cooperative play. I would also like to see more adventure game elements like talking to people and collecting clues. And why not make the time slow useful by slowing down the world, but not Obi? That would make a lot more sense to me. The only use I found for what's in the game was to listen to the sound effects in slow mo.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Halo: Combat Evolved

Overall: This game is simply amazing. When you're sitting in awe of the graphics, you'll be dazzled at just how dang good the enemy AI is. One of the rare games that is more fun the harder it is.

Gameplay: I thought this game was plenty fun enough, but then I went out and bought a second controller and began playing co op with my room mate. Wow. The game became even more addicting. The DM games are fun as well. Try playing a sniper game in Blood gulch. Hilarious and fun.

Graphics: While the graphics are nice, many of the textures end up looking bland in their design. MAinly because they use the same ones all over the place. I guess they wanted realism (and a military base will be bland) but this is a video game. Give us some eye candy. Also, the last three levels are nearly identical in appearance to earlier levels. They could have done more here. For example, if the flood had captured the Truth, then it should have reflected it with a cool, organic, Abadox-style scenery replacing the cold steel scenery.

Audio: If i had a better sound set up, perhaps I could have enjoyed this more. AS it goes, the effects are good, the acting good, and the music is really good. My main beef is that I couldn't always hear Cortana. I know there would be explsions for her to compete with, but she's inside your head. She should come through loud and clear.

Suggestions: HArd to say exactly as I believe some of my qualms originate from Bungie having to get the game out by launch time. MAke co op a linkable option. Tone down the accuracy of the hand gun (at least for DM play. I was sniping guys with it from seemingly miles away, even while they were driving jeeps around.) My biggest suggestion, if you are going to let us use alien vehicles and weapons, let us use all of them. Let me use that sword!!!!

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10

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