Monday, December 31, 2007

The Return of the Great



After a long holiday, The Game Critic will be back and better than ever.

We have a lot of reviews to catch up on for this season, but with the possible addition of a couple reviewers, The Game Critic shall return!~

Friday, November 16, 2007

RSS Feed and Whatnots


Just added an RSS feed to the site for anyone that is interested in subscribing to The Game Critic.

Also, some upcoming reviews: Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties, and Super Mario Galaxy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Times@$t


Okay, so maybe it's not as bad as the title gives off, but it was still one of the most frustrating game experiences I've had.

Timeshift has excellent gameplay mechanics but lacks the luster of a well-made game. The graphics are sub-par and the gameplay lacks the proper flow that games require.

The time control gameplay mechanics are an excellent step in the right direction for possible future game technology and features, but Timeshift just didn't take them far enough to make a very enthralling experience. Many of the game moments really required a previous playthrough of the game in order to progress through the game knowing what you are doing. At one point in a mission you have to use timed explosives to destroy a metal door that is blocking the path for a train to move forward. You take out all the guards guarding the conveniently placed explosive device and head back to the door with the intention of destroying it. You place the explosive, and turn around to move away from the blast. Two seconds later you die. How were you supposed to anticipate the need for a time stop/slow to get far enough away from the explosive without someone next to you telling you that will happen? Good game Sierra. This same formula of events happened all too often within Timeshift.

The singleplayer campaign was also lacking considerably. From the somewhat sad storyline that didn't capture me enough, to the incredibly short gamespan. A game beaten in one sitting!? And not even an obsurdly long sitting, like some 10-12 hour gameplay binges that gamers have? One night after a full 8-hour day, game beaten, and yet, still a good nights sleep to be had. Could it be that my experience had something to do with it? Sure, but I'm certain that other gamers had the same experience. I'm not the cream of the crop, but I'm not terrible. The storyline even left me wondering who my character was within the game, and right when I was about to find out, they excluded that information from the game. Normally I would be angry and far too determined to discover the identity of my alter-ego, but this game didn't capture my emotion like many others, and left me with no desire to find out who I was.

The multiplayer is decent. It seems to have a nice control over the time aspect, but the multiplayer itself is lacking. With revolutionary multiplayer experiences such as Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 out around the same time, Timeshift didn't stand a chance. Is this Timeshift's fault? Probably not, but keeping up with the competition is all part of the game.

Timeshift gets a 6.4/10.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blizzard's Next-Gen MMO

After a perusal of the Blizzard jobs page, I noticed a few new openings for a "Top Secret" project.

Blizzard is apparently working on a secret Next-Gen MMO game for future development and are hiring for the positions on the project.

To see what I am referring to, head to their job opportunity website at...
http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: The Review!

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

The metroid series has always fascinated me. Super Metroid was my absolute favorite video game on the SNES system so I decided to check out the Metroid Prime series.

One thing that immediately caught my attention was the control scheme. Wii is a tricky system to adequately manipulate control systems to better suit the game at hand. The Metroid Prime series has worked well with the Wii-mote. The first Metroid Prime game controls seemed somewhat irksome and had an awkward touch to them. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has mastered the first person controls for the Wii system. The controls respond quicker and are much more accurate than its predecessors.

The story to Corruption was fantastic. The interaction with the NPC’s in the game lead to a enthralling and unique gaming experience. Samus always serves as an calm and collected female main character for all of these games.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption gets a 9.1/10.

Although the controls were much improved from the previous Prime games, they still seemed to bother me. The viewport from Samus’s helmet bothered me at times because I felt as though I couldn’t see enough of the surrounding area to effectively battle. For a Wii game, however, the graphics were fantastic and immersive. The controls were the best they could be for a Wii-mote and nun-chaku, and the story was my favorite so far of any Metroid game. Wii owners… This is a title to purchase.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guitar Hero 3: Hyperspeed Cheat

You heard it here first, the Hyperspeed cheat for Guitar Hero 3. I'm giving it out before IGN and GameFAQs accept my cheat submission.

Go to the cheat menu under the options in Guitar Hero 3. Hit "Enter Cheat" and press...

ORANGE, BLUE, ORANGE, YELLOW, ORANGE, BLUE, ORANGE, YELLOW.

Enjoy trying Through the Fire and the Flames with Hyperspeed on Expert with Lefty Flip.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's Been Ten Days and Time for a Review

Beautiful Katamari!

I am skeptical no longer! I used to be very anti-Katamari when I was in the naive mindset of any game that's not mature rated is terrible. However, this has changed for the greater good! I took the risk of playing Beautiful Katamari not knowing what to expect from this crazy game where you supposedly just roll things into large balls. Beautiful Katamari dons the storyline of having the "King of All Cosmos" playing tennis and hitting a tennis ball so hard into the sky, that it creates a black hole that you have to plug up with a supergiant star to save the cosmos. Ridiculous storyline? I know.

Katamari boasts some decent graphics, but not far off from the Playstation 2 Katamari games. It's somewhat ironic that the game is called "Beautiful Katamari" while the graphics aren't that much prettier. The high definition 720p and 1080i compatibility do make it look better though, but that is the case with any game in high def.

The gameplay is fantastic. While the gameplay is relatively simple, it serves to be a very addicting play type for any gamer that gets their hands on a controller. I somehow never got sick of rolling people into a large ball of various objects.

The game also has interesting loading and failure game enhancements, as well as a mini-game when you complete the game during the credits. This makes for goofy fun during all aspects of the game.

Overall this game receives a 8.2/10.

The graphics aren't fantastic, and the downloadable levels are just too expensive for a game that is well made, but won't hit the attention of a large enough audience to make the content that desirable. The single player is fun but perhaps too short. Always look for getting the full value of a game purchase out of the gameplay itself. The multiplayer is fantastic and even though the graphics aren't great, you really couldn't do much more to make it look like authentic Katamari.

Next up, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gamers are different from Game Developers

My professor wrote a very articulate blog describing the stigma around video game developers and I would just like to link to it here.

Simeon Peebler refers to how hard game developers work and how they still consistently get a negative opinion about their lives.

Anyone that's somewhat naive of the video game development world, or those that have just always associated negative connotations with "gamers" should read this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oblivion: Battlehorn Castle

Recently Bethesda Softworks released the Fighter's Stronghold of Battlehorn Castle. After a simple skirmish with a couple marauders you gain the deed to the castle after having defended it. Now it's time to do what you do best in the little house expansions. Gold spending time. So after upgrading your castle significantly, you think you are finished. However, you are not!

In addition to owning a sweet new castle, you get a couple new features. You get a vintner to create special wines that buff you on the battlefield. You can hire a taxidermist to place life-like protrayals of the enemies you face within your castle. You can hire a trained swordsman to duel you and help you increase your battle skills. There are a couple hidden passages. There is one leading from the basement to a false wall in the guard's quarters, then another in your private quarters leading to a table on the roof. Apparently there is a secret treasure vault, but I have not found this yet~

Nice little free add-on for those that own Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for either PC or Xbox 360. I recommend downloading it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Guitar Hero 3 Downloadable Content and Drum Hero

Gamespot released a little Q&A with Red Octane's cofounder about Guitar Hero 3's downloadable content, the acquisition of licenses and a little Drum Hero information!

It's interesting that they have been trying to get the licenses for AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Van Halen for some time. To a low-on-the-totem-pole consumer like me, I was unaware that they were even trying, although I was hopeful. So to all the nay sayers, they're working on it, and the co-founder states that they have been trying for a long long time.

Check it out on EBgames.com

Thursday, October 11, 2007

EA's $860 million deal

Apparently Electronic Arts has bought VG Holdings Corp. from the private equity firm Elevation Partners for a mere $860 million.

Just when I was starting to believe that EA had bought out enough corporations!

VG Holdings Corp. started such studios as Bioware and Pandemic. This could lead to possibly more funding for Mass Effect! Hopefully this buyout will bear fruit for us consumers out there.

I still have my skepticisms about Electronic Arts. I feel like they do not give 110% in their game making and strive for a timely release instead of a perfected one. I hope this is not the case with Mass Effect when it releases. I have been watching the progress of this game with many other interested gamers.

Do me proud EA!

The Orange Box Review

Before I start my review, I recommend anyone intending on playing through all the features of The Orange Box should play through Portal first for reasons that shall remain untold!

Half-life 2: Episode 2 is a spectacular segue into the final installment in the Half-life 2 epic saga! Episode 2 continues the story of Gordon Freeman in his quest to save the world from the Combine. Episode 2 keeps a good balance of continuing the story while still providing intense gameplay moments that will be remembered even after finishing the episode. From car chases to alien invasions, Episode 2 has it covered.

Portal incorporates an awesome puzzle game in which you can create portals on walls to accomplish little puzzles that start out simple, but take some critical thinking. Portal also has a story element that I will leave to be discovered by the player.

Team Fortress 2 is also included in the Orange Box package and is a fantastic multiplayer adventure. TF2 uses an excellent lighting system that gives the illusion of hand-drawn animation in a video game. The different classes in Team Fortress 2 give hours upon hours of replayability for players if they become tired of a certain class. A wide variety of options always makes for an enjoyable multiplayer experience.

The Orange Box gets 9.6/10. It already contains one of the best games of all time, plus several other fantastic Valve-owned creations. One thing it lacks however is the ability to play with the PC users and the accessibility of user-created material.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Demoman Video out for Orange Box release.

video

Valve released one final character portrayal for it's Orange Box release. The Orange Box features Half-life 2, with Episode 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2, and an astounding new game called Portal. One of the coolest marketing ploys that they released were the short character videos shown on the Team Fortress 2 tab of their website. They planned on releasing this one short clip right before release to make consumers all the more eager to purchase it.

I've been playing a bit of Team Fortress 2 and it's everything a TF fan would desire and more. With a fantastic new graphics system using astonishing lighting effects that give the characters a more hand-drawn look, TF2 exceeds other class based multiplayer experiences. I'm looking forward to sharing my first-hand experience with TF2 and the new Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Portal will be an insane gaming experience as well, although I do not know what to say about it yet. It's style for multiplayer has never been seen before. We'll see how it does!

Note: Due to the long upload/processing times for the video, and so on and so forth, this post was meant for yesterday, but I have my humanly limitations and I required rest. So the publish date will be the day after the intended date.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bladestorm Preview


For everyone that wished Dynasty Warriors would merge with RTS elements, Bladestorm is the answer to your prayers. Koei decides to add a fresh twist to their hack-n-slash gameplay redundancy in this upcoming game, Bladestorm. The reviews about the demo has been a rollercoaster of ratings. Some sites automatically dismissed it because they hate Dynasty Warriors and they see too many similarities between the two. Others chose to be open-minded and encounter this experience with an intention to discover the possibility of a new kind of game. I did the latter.

My first encounter with Bladestorm was just one to check out the cool new features in a game type that really hasn't been done before. Bladestorm starts you out talking to a one-eyed barkeep about the conflict between France and England. During the dialogue you decide the look of your character from a list of customization options and then choose your name. The customization options are nice, while not giving you too much flexibility to make your character unrealistic to the time period. After a brief introduction into your main goals of the game from the barkeep, he gives you your first contract. I embarked on my first contract to find a brief tutorial during a skirmish between the two warring countries and got introduced to the features of combat.

To get into the technicalities, you begin by walking up to a squad of soldiers with swords and shields. You're given three skills that you can command the squad to perform synchronized with your movements. One move is a shield bash where your whole squad hits the enemies with their shields and stuns them for a bit. Another move is where you put your shields up to defend from attacks and arrows. The last move is a heavy swing with your swords that hits really hard, but makes your infantry a little more vulnerable to attacks.

The next squad you deal with is cavalry. You walk up to them and select them effortlessly, your character automatically assumes a position on horseback to join the cavalry. Cavalry are only effective if moving for a short period before they engage in battle. It makes sense, cavalry usually need to be charging into battle. Your first ability is a ride-by slashing. Just a simple sword slash as your riding to take down enemies. This ability is followed by another defensive protection ability. The last ability is your charge. Activate charge for a small period of time to mow down squads of infantry and archers.

The last squad is archers. You can fire at random enemies, protect yourself, or pinpoint an area for the archers to fire.

During my second playthrough, I noticed the barkeep changes some dialogue depending on which look you choose. Another incredible thing I only noticed after messing around with it more a second time were the variety of squad types you can command. With upgrades and improved armor and weapon and skills, Bladestorm boasts great character upgrades and squad upgrades to give you the edge on the battlefield. It differs from Dynasty Warriors in the sense that you cannot charge into thousands of enemies by yourself. It WILL lead to your demise. You need to base your combat on your squad and you need to command your squad well. If you're commanding infantry, do your best to dodge the cavalry units as to not get destroyed and etc. etc.

Bladestorm is a nice twist on the Dynasty Warriors epic war games. I'm looking forward to it.


Added note: I love when you activate Bladestorm... ah yes.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Video Games as an Art form

I don't believe I've ever claimed that this blog would be ALL game reviews, but I will post my opinions involving the game industry here for discussion if the readers feel so inclined!~

There has been some open debate about the validity of video games as an art form and I was hearing about something Robert Ebert said in regards to the art. Here is a link to the article quoting Ebert's criticisms. Through further discussion with peers of mine, we realized how ridiculous it is to think about a critic of a seperate art genre judges a topic that they have no expertise in.

Ebert came in and said,
"There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. "

But how can you really define "Art?" You can't. There are millions upon millions of different types of art, from a little girl making crayon drawings to beautiful photographs of trees to gorgeous songs.

Ebert also states,
"I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic. "

Regardless of these comments being two years old, they are still relevant to touch upon as it is blatantly obvious that the luddites of the old age of "classic art" cannot accept video games as a valid art form. What do you honestly accomplish by looking at a piece of art? You get more cultured? Are video games not a part of today's culture? Would playing them not allow you to be more cultured!? His logic fails me.

Video games have to be a form of art. It may be easier for me to define interactive media as art because I have had more exposure to it than most. Society has had media delivered to them in passive manners through books, music, movies, television, radio, etc. etc. etc. Video games take those art forms, and combine many of them, while allowing the user to have an interactive take on the art form that has presented to them.

Video games have visual art forms in them, being presented in backgrounds, landscapes, character creation, and all characters in general. The visual aspect has required tons of art to be used.

At the same time as the visuals, you have the sound. The music adds a mood/feel to the game as well as the certain sounds that present themselves if the player does certain things within the game.

As a third part of the art aspect for video games, the gameplay plays a large part. The way you use whatever character or object that has been presented to you is an art form in itself. Take the Halo games for instance. They're accessible to all ages and the control scheme is done well, but some people have more skill than most at it. Compare that to some Asian form of sword fighting where certain people have more skill than others and it considered a martial art. It is an art form. So why wouldn't the way you play a video game be an art form?

To everyone out there that claims that video games are not a valid art form, I dare you to open your closed mind and mature your way of thinking one iota.

Interested in watching a little clip about art in video games? Check out The Art of the Game.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The First: Halo 3

Bungie has done it again. After a fantastic Halo followed by a mediocre Halo 2, Bungie got their act together and produced gaming gold. Halo 3 flaunts a fantastic campaign with a satisfying ending and great multiplayer to boot. Gaming Age put it well in their review of Halo 3, "It's a fight worth finishing if you haven't already, get out there and do just that."

Some tend to think that the Arbiter's story was not covered enough in this third installment, but I beg to differ. The Arbiter's story was finished in Halo 2. There was not a lot of content to deal with about the Arbiter in the third game, but the fact that they involved him as fighting by your side the whole way, was fantastic. Correction, IS fantastic.

This game is amazing. With great replayability, using secret skulls that make the game more challenging, to Forge mode, where you edit a large array of things in the multiplayer maps, Halo 3 takes the cake for console shooters. You can even get customizable armor by accomplishing different things for your multiplayer persona.

Saved films are another awesome feature. Did you happen to have a game where you kill nine people in under four seconds and get a "Killapocalypse?" I did, and to rewatch that magic I got to go back to the Theater feature, watch it again, make a clip of the domination, and save the film for later viewing whenever I want. Now instead of claiming you are awesome at Halo 3, you have films to prove it.

I give Halo 3 a 9.8/10 for the reasons stated above and because the multiplayer maps seemed lacking. Although they are fantastic, and seem very balanced, I feel as though there are too many re-makes of Halo/Halo 2 maps. I was hoping for more original content. Other than that, this game is obsurdly fantastic. The HD resolution is also not completely filled. Instead of 720p, it's 640p, and so on and so forth for the 1080 resolutions. You lose 80 pixels in there somewhere!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Beginning

This is the start of my personal game criticizing blog. I'm going to attempt to post here every day with a new game review opinion that was objectively judged or an opinion about the interactive media world. I've gotten sick of certain biased publications that don't accurately review video games. The public needs a review that will not automatically dismiss a certain genre of games or give a game a lackluster review because their 360 crashed while playing the certain game. (Look at the review for Overlord by IGN)

I will do a service for consumers. I am not an exclusive game developer or critic for any noted website or publication.

I hope you all enjoy my posts!~