|YaK:: WebLog #535 Topic : 2008-01-28 17.38.50 matt : xbox game reviews for 2007
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Right now (January 2008), we are playing a game called Prisoner of War . The reviews are somewhat accurate -- the graphics are definitely below par for the XBox, the sounds and voice acting are great, but it isn't a short game by any means. You play a prisoner in a Nazi war camp, and you have to escape. It's a stealth/adventure game, but unlike other stealth games this is almost completely non-violent. Usually in a stealth game, you sneak up on people to snap their necks. Not in Prisoner Of War. Here, you just have to stay out of sight *and* be quiet. (Or, be noisy out of ear shot.) The music and atmosphere are well-done, other than the fact the surround sound isn't really used at all. It can be very tense at times, but it did take us a few days to get fully drawn in. The graphics aren't the best -- they aren't bad, either -- but don't let that put you off. It's a solid stealth-adventure game, with pretty good AI. I give it a rating of 4/5.
Before that, we played a short action-adventure game called Advent Rising . The reviews for it were also basically correct: the music is amazing, the graphics are good, the voice acting is awesome, and the story is decent. It has a neat feature they call "flick targeting", which basically means you get to shoot things without having to play the irritating "line up the pixels" game. The game also had some bugs: framerate drops in strange places, getting stuck in the world, etc. None of them were so bad that it detracted from the game, but the cohesion of the story unraveled as the game progressed. X-Men Legends 2 and Baldur's Gate had this same issue, where it seemed like the development was rushed at the end and the last half the of the game just wasn't polished. (Note that unlike those games, Advent Rising is single player.) Cut scenes and voiceovers didn't seen to align very well with the game's events after a certain point. My game industry sources tell me that this was, in fact, the case with Advent Rising as well. Advent Rising was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy, but the other games haven't even begun development. It's too bad, because the flick targeting and the "special powers" would make for an awesome motion-controlled Wii game. Great graphics, sound, and controls as well as the short duration make it an easy recommendation. Rating: 4/5.
The Warriors is a really fun, extremely violent, mission-based open-world game. It also allows for 2-player co-op and supports 720p HDTV, so it was great for Geoff and I. An extension of the movie by the same name, and featuring voice acting by several of the original actors, it does a great job of setting up atmosphere and keeping it consistent throughout the game. The flashback missions where you learn how each member joined the gang was a smart move to draw us even deeper into the main story line (and help us remember which character was who). The violence may be a put-off for some, though. At one point, Geoff needed drugs to get his health back up but was short by 1 dollar. So, he killed a bum to get the drugs. The Non-Playable Characters, like the bums, are hilarious to listen to and I love that attention to detail. Rating: 5/5.
Time Splitters 3 was also really fun. It's a 1-player first-person shooter with funny and well-acted dialog, amazing graphics, and detailed environments. Because of the time period changes, the look of the levels can change dramatically and that really helps keep things interesting and fun. Rating: 5/5.
We tried Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, because it supported 4-player co-op. The reviews were basically correct: You can mostly just run through levels, and the bugs and awkward camera angles make the game extremely frustrating. We gave up after a week of trying really hard to find something to like. Rating: 2/5.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a great departure from the previous Harry Potter games. This one supported 3 player co-op, and while it didn't follow the movie or book particularly closely, it did fill in some gaps from the book that the movie left open. That being said, it also deviates from both the book and movie wildly for some of the levels and it's so well-done that it doesn't matter. The one thing that was confusing to us was that you have to revisit previous levels in order to proceed in later levels. This wasn't explained in the manual and we were stuck for some time before we read a bit of a walk through to help us out. The graphics, voice acting, and controls are all great. My only real complaint (aside from the manual not making things clear enough) was that the game seemed more and more hacked together as the game progressed, especially at the ending. Rating : 4/5.
We also started playing a party game called Fuzion Frenzy which is just perfect for what it is -- a shitload of mini-games that are all 4-player and easy to pick up and play. Our friends 7-year-old, Ethan, loves it and became a little obsessed with it. Highly recommended with a rating of 5/5.
We also played ObsCure, but I already reviewed that in an earlier post. Since I didn't apply a rating to that, I'll say now that it was 4/5. The sequel is out for the PC and is coming soon for the Wii; I hope it makes incremental improvements over the already enjoyable experience.
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