MEMBER PROFILE FOR Master Gracey

Total Reviews: 6
Average Overall Score Given: 5.83333 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 2016

Reviews
Totaled!

Overall: I decided to purchase Totalled a couple days ago based on the number of good reviews and the first few levels I played at a friend's house. This was one of the worst game purchases I've ever made. It may be fairly nice to look at, and soundtrack support is a good thing, but there's no substance. None whatsoever. This is nothing but a frustrating game that's needlessly difficult. After only 6 days in my collection, I sold it.

Gameplay: How many times do you see cars drive sideways to avoid your oncoming car? How many times can you line someone up for a hit, turn on your nitros for a speed boost, then have another car take your target away at the last nanosecond? How many times can you be stuck in a pile of cars for up to 30 seconds, unable to move while the lead is taken from you? How many times can you be slaughtered because the computer reacts instantly to the buttons you push, making it impossible to avoid taking a hit? Those are only a few of the questions I was shouting at my TV while playing Totalled. The only reason this game is difficult is because it takes cheap shots at you. Whether it's your car flipping out at an inopportune moment, being pinned in a traffic jam with only seconds left so you can't defend your lead, or being ambushed by 11 other cars in a so-called "free for all," this game cheats. Even the "every man for themselves" events become the destruction derby equivalent of a gang bang on your car. One would hope that playing out a career would give you something special, but it doesn't. There are no hidden cars, no hidden tracks to unlock, no hidden movies... so what do you get for finishing a career? THE CREDITS!!! And that's it! The pathetic excuse for a career mode is only about 30 events long, and most of those are under two minutes (at least three of them are under half a minute.) The load times are unforgiveable in a game of this nature. Some events require delicate driving (almost impossible with the physics in this game) and you'll probably end up doing the first few seconds at least 15 times. Doing five seconds of driving and then 45 seconds of load time is frustrating enough, but do it 20 times and it really tries your patience. Just to retry a level requires it to reload! Didn't the game's programmers know the Xbox has a memory cache? Totalled has absolutely no single-player appeal, and that's a mistake that too many companies are making these days.

Graphics: The destruction is nice, the explosions are nice, and the cars have decent paint jobs to choose from. The actual arenas are a little bland and could have used more work. You would expect fantastic, living levels for the length of the load times, but you get nothing more than a couple cars in an unimaginative setting.

Audio: The game's soundtrack is the typical punk, rap and metal combo that's in every extreme sporting game these days (isn't anyone else getting bored with it?) Believe it or not, it even lifts a few songs from Tony Hawk 2. Yawn!!! But that's why the Xbox has a soundtrack feature, and this game makes use of it. It was really nice to smash up cars to the Clockwork Orange soundtrack, or race to obscure '60s French pop. The only problem is that it didn't randomize songs very well. I have nearly 500 songs in my Xbox (almost 2000 minutes,) and in the course of an hour I'd hear certain songs three or four times. I once heard the same song three events in a row! Not good considering there are almost 500 to choose from. The car sounds and the crashes were pretty standard... boring stuff.

Suggestions: There's a very fine line between being challenging and just ripping the player off, and this game crosses it. Simply making the cars you're trying to hit go the opposite direction of the button you press is NOT AI, it's just cheating. I'd suggest firing the whole team that worked on this project and starting from scratch (it's not unheard of... VR-1 did that with the Nightcaster team.) Fix the load times, fix the soundtrack, and start over with the whole AI system. Add some substance for those of us who aren't big multiplayer fans.

Overall Score: 3.0 / 10 Taz: Wanted

Overall: As a huge fan of the first two Infogrames Looney Toons games ("Bugs Bunny Lost In Time" and "Bugs & Taz: Time Busters",) I couldn't wait for Taz Wanted to hit the shelves. While the game was definitely fun, it's hard to say it was worth the wait. I'm still playing the first two games after nearly five years, but I'm debating whether Taz Wanted will stay in my collection for long.

Gameplay: Don't let the use of Looney Toons characters fool you... this is not a kids' game. There are three modes of difficulty, which I'll describe as standard, hard and insane. Even the lowest level is needlessly difficult, and you'll be forced to make jumps and strategic moves that would elude most kids (some maneuvers were difficult for me, and I'm a 25-year old experienced gamer!) If you're spotted by a zoo keeper, evasion is nearly impossible as they bring their nets down fast and accurate... it's tough to dispatch them when you have to get in close because you have no time to react if they turn around. My enjoyment of this game diminished for about two hours when I thought I wouldn't be able to complete a mini game because of a bug, but it wasn't a bug. It turns out that even though the game tells you to press B to move (like in all the other mini games where you have to spin to win,) it fails to mention that you need to mash it over and over. Despite the hardships and frustration, you'll find it only takes about 10 hours to beat the game. Replay value is low because of the linearity and the fact that you always have to be on your toes when you're in a level. In the first two games, you could start throwing snowballs or apples at Daffy in the middle of a level, or let an anvil fall on Witch Hazel's head and kick her in the derrière while it was pointed to the sky. It worked brilliantly as stress reduction... but such distractions don't exist in Taz Wanted, and it suffers greatly for it.

Graphics: I'm not a big fan of cel shading, but games like this are the reason it was invented! The 2D/3D worlds really enhance the Looney Toons environment. Colorful, imaginative worlds are the only real strongpoint of this game, but I would've liked to have seen more familiar locations from the cartoons. The only one that comes to mind is Wile E. Coyote's den, but it was disappointingly small.

Audio: The sound was garbage! The looping songs lasted about a minute and a half, and they start to drive you crazy when it takes over an hour to finish a level. While I'm on the subject of music, let me take this opportunity to say that screeching, wailing guitars do NOT mesh well with Looney Toons!!! I don't like to hear that trash anywhere, but it absolutely ruined some of the levels of this game. The dialog was compressed to pieces... I've heard better quality Real Audio streams on a 56K modem! Perhaps this was done because of the number of spoken languages available. You can choose from English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. But with today's MP3 and WMA technology, you no longer need to trash out the quality of WAV files to make them small enough to fit on a disc... ESPECIALLY a DVD disc.

Suggestions: Look to your previous Looney Toons titles and recapture the spirit of those games. Taz Wanted was too short, too difficult and not very funny in comparison. Make the sound comparable to other games on a next-gen system. This is no longer PSX, so it shouldn't sound like it. And please, I IMPLORE you, make the music more like the classic Looney Toons!

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Nightcaster: Defeat The Darkness

Overall: Let me start this review by giving you all a little back story of how I came to play this game. It'll help you to understand why I'm rating it so low... which is something I rarely do.

I went to school with a few people who got jobs at VR-1 when we were all still in college. As soon as these people got their jobs, they changed from nice people into stuck-up snobs who wouldn't talk to anyone because they were "in the industry" and we were just students. Well, the aformentioned people worked on Nightcaster. My friends (who were in the school at the same time) rented the game and then called me up for a night of laughs at the expense of the people we once knew. We all knew this game had received some bad ratings, but nothing could prepare us for how bad it really was. Instead of a night of laughs, we were groaning and making comments about wanting those hours of our lives back.

Gameplay: There is, quite simply, nothing appealing about the gameplay. My five-year old niece could easily follow the linear path the game makes you adhere to. Of course, she wouldn't be able to get very far because the terrible camera angles make this game needlessly difficult. The storyline is uninspired, AI is nonexistant, and fighting is a chore. If you enjoy getting attacked every two steps, then this is the game for you.

In a nutshell, this game seems to be nothing more than a platform jumper where you (literally) can't jump.

Graphics: I'm giving the visuals a 2 because the color palette is nice... but that's about it. Textures are bland and there is no distant scenery. The spells are also below average. Anybody who knows how to use particle systems could have set them up in five minutes. In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a reach to say that the programmers had more say on this game than the art department. The only other explanation would be that the art department was just lazy.

Audio: Some of the people we knew not only helped design the game, but also did voices. In fact, one of them came to school one day bragging about how he was the best voice-over person at the company. For this reason, we paid close attention to the sound... and there wasn't much to pay attention to.

The music is par for the course in a game of this nature. I'd say it's only slightly more complex than MIDI music. The voice acting, on the other hand, is atrocious. Whenever you cast a spell or get hit, the character makes some really obnoxious sounds... which are repeated over and over and over and over and over and over... after about two hours, we turned off the sound and put on a CD.

Suggestions: Suggestion to developers: Please don't soil the Xbox lineup with any more games. Stick to developing games for PS2. Nightcaster is not the type of game that sells consoles... it's the type of game that makes people sell their consoles.

Suggestion to anyone looking to play this game: Don't. Don't buy it, don't rent it. Play Azurik! Play Bloodwake! I'll even go so far as to say Play Kabuki Warriors! Just don't play Nightcaster. This game will make you want to sue the company for emotional distress.

Overall Score: 2.0 / 10 Pirates: Legend of Black Kat

Overall: Looking back at my original eXcitement review for this game (the Hype score), I'm happy to announce that I'll have to eat my words. This is easily the most enjoyable pirate adventure since Monkey Island 3 (sorry to all who liked MI4... the whole monkey combat thing spoiled that game for me.) More intuitive than the awful Redjack, but not as refined as Sid Meyer's Pirates, this might be the most underrated and overlooked title released on the Xbox to date. Typically, I don't enjoy pirate adventures if they're not historically accurate (unless they're over-the-top funny like the Monkey Island series.) This is why I was hesitant to buy this game... it didn't look funny and I was thinking to myself, "pirates didn't use magic, nor did they battle the undead and giant crabs!" As it turns out, the magic used is the Caribbean voodoo that was a big factor in pirate mythology... something that has never been employed this thoroughly in a pirate game. In fact, the use of voodoo only helped to enhance both the atmosphere and the gameplay. To top it all off, there's a great storyline that leaves infinite possibilities for a sequel (and I hope there is one.) While there are some technical issues that arise from this being a port, the game will have you so captivated they won't bother you too much. Take my advice and the advice of other reviewers... don't bother renting this title. Just buy it. It's as close to flawless as games get.

Gameplay: This is where Black Kat really shines. I was expecting about 20 hours of gameplay, but it soon became obvious that there would be much more. There are so many islands and so many quests that if you try to do it all (like I did) you'll clock in nearly 50 hours trying to reach the finish. However, this game is so much fun that you won't mind spending that much time doing everything. The controls on land are very simple. The controls during sailing and ship combat take a tiny bit of time getting used to, but once you've mastered them you'll find that they're quite ingenious. This is not only one of the longest games in the Xbox lineup, but the most open-ended. You can leave islands and go to other islands at will. If you want to spend hours sailing around doing ship combat, you can. So while the quests themselves are linear in nature (you don't get one until you complete another), you can play this game at your own pace. And since blocks of islands open up all at once, the way in which you complete the quests is up to you. If one island looks too imposing at first, try one of the other 9 that just opened up! But be prepared... this game can be tough in some spots, even on easy mode. The good news is, you'll hardly ever find yourself screaming "that's not fair," because the camera and the controls are so good you'll be blocking and slashing with ease. Gunners' shots can be reflected into other people, even the gunners themselves; and if there's a bad guy between you and them, they'll kill the bad guy. Everything that can hurt you can hurt your enemy, except for some obvious exceptions (banshees instill the fear of the undead, so they don't hurt the other undead.) There are even times when people with swords try slashing you and accidently kill their nearby comrades. That's what I call fair!

Graphics: Visuals are the game's only real weak point, but only because this is a port. The sea meets the land in a low-poly line that's far below what the Xbox is capable of. Land textures and trees are nice, but also a bit off. Lighting is decent, but sub-par for the Xbox's capabilities. Some of the movie sequences (including the very first one) are extremely blurry due to some bad compression. However, the graphics are an improvement over the PS2 version and with a game that's this huge, it'd be nearly impossible to update everything perfectly without a good 7 or 8 months of work. At sea, everything is perfect. The ship models and textures are incredible. The water is unspeakably beautiful, and the islands fit right in. You can see ocean life splashing up to the surface of the water, and sunken ships underneath. Don't even get me started on the sky... it's rendered very well, with real clouds casting real shadows on the land and sea. When an enemy ship explodes, you can see their crew get blown into the sky. Zoom in on your own ship and turn in all different directions... you can see the guy steering the ship turn the wheel in the right direction as other men are swabbing the decks. Zoom in close to Kat when she's on land and she winks at you then poses. So while there are some downfalls in the quality of the graphics, there are so many neat things thrown in that you won't dwell on the shortcomings.

Audio: The sound department did a wonderful job on this game. Other people have mentioned that the music stops and starts, which is true. However, when the music isn't playing, you can hear the sounds of the sea with the playful ocean life splashing around. When you're inland, you hear the insects and wildlife of the Caribbean jungles. When the music starts, it starts for a reason... and it's usually not good. In other words, they don't make the music a background feature, but a psychological feature. It's amazing how well this works, and I wish more games employed this tactic. The environmental sounds are also spectacular, like the sound of clanging swords, cannon blasts, and the wood creaking as you turn your brand new galleon around to slaughter your foe. For the movie sequences, the characters are voiced well. They sound like real people engaged in real dialogue... not real people reading scripts. The only reason I don't give the audio a perfect score has to do with the way the enemies are voiced. They sit around, silently biding their time until you dispatch them into the next life. When they notice you, they make a remark like "die!" or "aha!" or "ooga booga." And it never changes. Men with keg grenades all say the same thing, voodoo priests all say the same thing, ship captains all say the same thing... there's no variety. However, that's the ONLY bad point.

Suggestions: Please make a sequel!!! Perhaps for the next one, you can have the option of sending a boarding party to loot your enemy's ships instead of just blowing them up... it can culminate in a duel with the enemy captain for the contents of his ship's hold. Or you can make towns that you can dock in, loot, take over or just walk around buying things. I'd check out Sid Meyer's Pirates for ideas on what to do. Make the hordes of enemies more vocal... or at least put some variation in what they say when they spot you. And please make the graphics more up to what the Xbox can do. This should be easy because the next game can be developed with Xbox in mind, which was probably not the case with this one. This could be an incredible franchise... I'm already psyched about the possibility of a sequel!

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Jet Set Radio Future

Overall: I think this game could have been much greater than it was. While it wasn't a total no-hoper, too many things became far too frustrating way too fast. Where was the action? Trying to avoid the cars? All this game seemed to be about was skating around chasing people, spraying people, and doing bad graffiti on walls. And while I'm talking about graffiti, I'd like to know what's up with the kiddys in this game. They're supposedly rave kids, but they're doing gangsta graffiti. PICK A STYLE!!! Overall, this game was just maddening, but had enough things working for it to get an average overall score.

Gameplay: Skate, spray, skate, spray, skate, chase, skate, spray... yawn! The controls were VERY easy to get used to, tricks were very easy to perform, and jumps were made with ease. But all in all, this game lacked content. The story was moderately interesting, but got bogged down with unimaginative gameplay and a graphic style that made objects difficult to find (though the graphics were beautiful in their own quirky way.) I'm starting to notice that a lot of games are weak in single-player mode, but strong in multiplayer. However, to someone who doesn't really enjoy multiplayer, the additions are scarcely a replacement for a good, solid game. This game fell into that deep hole and never even thought about climbing out.

Graphics: Visually, this game was stunning. That whole 2D/3D blend made for a game that was nice to look at, but a chore to play. How can you see the circles you have to spray when they're the same saturation level as everything else? It was also boring skating around for over an hour looking for one particular thing in a huge blob of people (and a blob is exactly what it looked like.) So while the graphics were beautiful, they were a hindrance to gameplay, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

Audio: YES!!! This is where the game really shined. While the ambient sounds were merely average (what you'd come to expect) the music was the centerpoint... which is exactly where it should have been. I've been dying to find a new style of music to listen to lately, and this game helped me to find it. In fact, it had such an impact on me that I went out and bought two Cibo Matto albums today. Any game that can compel me to do that gets a perfect score in my audio book.

Suggestions: Find some way to make certain things stick out more, but don't change the graphic style because it worked. Don't make the kids a cross between rave and gangsta again... that did NOT work well. Also, I'd give the player more stuff to do in the single-player mode. Don't just revolve the game around its multiplayer capabilities. Last but not least, keep the music... it was perfect!

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams

Overall: This was a game I was highly anticipating since the first five minutes into Silent Hill 1 on PSX. I could tell that this was going to be a series without equal. Having long ago beaten the first game, and now having beaten the second, I'm happy to report that my suspicions were correct: this is THE premiere fright title on this, or any other system. This second installment in the series far surpasses the first. As a strategy gamer, I was appreciative of the puzzle:shooter ratio, which places more emphasis on thinking than on running around shooting everything that moves (something that can actually get you in trouble in this game.) Unfortunately, the puzzles were very simple and I never really had to think about what to do. I liked the overall number of "things" that you shoot, but I wish there had been more variety (I can't bring myself to call them monsters... that's too Resident Evil.) As for the story, all I can say is wow! There was actual thought involved... something rare in most games these days. There was even humor in the story! And as for the extra scenario, don't believe that "six hours of gameplay" they mention on the box... it takes more like one hour to beat it, but it was still a VERY nice addition. With many different endings, this game will have you playing until you've seen them all (and then what? I'll get to that in the suggestions.) Simply put, if you want a monster shooter with a cut-and-dry, black-and-white, good-vs-evil storyline, go get Resident Evil. If you want an engaging puzzle/shooter game with a psychotic story that plays out like an arthouse cinema flick, get SH2.

Gameplay: I gave this a 3 because it was neither here nor there. For shooting, the controls were ackward at best. For running, they were absolutely atrocious, though the controller itself bears the blame for it's lack of sensitivity in both the D-pad and analog sticks. When you want to run forward, you end up running left/right/left/right/etc. The camera wasn't TOO obstructive; not the best I've seen, but far from the worst. However, the movement of the fingers in doing things was very natural and never became a problem.

Graphics: Again, all I can say is wow! The textures and lights played out in such a fashion to create atmospheres unlike anything ever seen in a video game. Shine that flashlight at something and see it's REAL shadow on the wall behind? Pure brilliance! Even the film grain feature created a depth (or lack thereof) that made the whole game look more cinematic. With the grain turned off, it just looked like something was missing, though giving you the option to turn it off was a nice touch. Since I didn't see any flat plane paintings passing for objects, it was nice to see that the developers took advantage of the type of graphics Xbox is capable of producing.

Audio: Every single sound in this game worked. When it was meant to scare you, it did. When it was meant to calm you, it did. When it was meant to build tension, it did. However, in the two scenes where the monsters look as if they were... um... yeah... (if you've played it you know what I mean) I would have suggested some nice Barry White music. But seeing as this is just a technicality, I can't knock them for it (no pun intended.)

Suggestions: REPLAY! REPLAY! REPLAY!!!! As with the first Silent Hill, once you get all the endings, the fun level drops and there's no need to play the game anymore (especially in the wake of new games continually being released.) Find a way to take this, the best fear franchise in Videogameland, to new heights by creating infinite replay value. Give players a REASON to want to put the disc back in the system long after every goal has been accomplished.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10

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