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  • RedXIV

    by Published on March 2nd, 2010 15:18

    There are certain qualities that one comes to expect in a good light-gun game.
    1.It should be easy to just pick up and play
    2.It should be just as, if not more, fun to play with a friend.
    3.There should be a good selection of unlockables, to keep you coming back.

    Darkside Chronicles ticks all of these boxes, and yet it still falls short of gaming perfection in the light gun genre. Annoyingly, this is due primarily to technical flaws which could very easily be avoided, and drags down what should have been a top notch game.

    Darkside Chronicles is very similar to the Wii title that came before it, the Umbrella Chronicles. This game focused on the events of Resident Evil Zero, One and Three. Darkside Chronicles takes what’s left and focuses on the events in Resident Evil Two, and Code Veronica. The two scenarios are tied together by introducing a new original story that depicts Leon Kennedy working for the U.S. government. Sent on a mission in South America, he encounters strange zombie-like creatures and this causes him to recall his last encounter with the undead, in Raccoon City.

    As mentioned already, light-gun games are wonderful to just pick up and play, without getting into the right frame of mind, or getting yourself seriously involved with the plot. For those who like a bit of narrative, Darkside does offer a loosely structured plot that will give you a general idea of what went on in Raccoon City and also on the island off the coast of France in Code Veronica. It doesn’t go into as much detail as the original games, but obviously that’s a plus in this case. If you’re a fan of the series, you already know what happened. You want to get to where it’s at. And where it’s at is blasting through hordes of zombies!

    All the freaks you came to fear and loathe are present in this game, with an extra monster or two thrown in for good measure. The game starts you off with just your handgun and a handful of zombies to mutilate. However, as things progress, you’ll find a wider variety of monsters, as well as different weapons to blow them up with. At no point in the game do you find yourself shooting the same kinds of enemies for too long, which really keeps you on your toes.

    Darkside should be commended for this, but it comes at a horrible price. As you load up the opening level, you will notice that, rather than having a fixed point of view, the camera moves to mimic your characters perspective. While this may seem intriguing at first, the novelty wears off in roughly the space of time it takes you to read this sentence. It’s an interesting premise, having the nerves of your character affect your aim, making things more difficult. Instead, it becomes hugely frustrating, making headshots close to impossible and will almost certainly cause motion sickness after any length of time.

    It takes the majority of the game to come to grips with this shaky camera style (I didn’t get my first headshot until the end of the Resi Evil 2 chapter). If you can overcome this particular aspect though, the rest of the game delivers in nearly every respect.

    In terms of graphics, Darkside utilizes the power of the Wii to its fullest, making it very visually pleasing to look at. The South America sections of the game are a little over ambitious, and try to fit too much onto the screen at once, giving it a somewhat flat and lifeless feel. However, the other sections, Raccoon City in particular, boast a terrifically moody atmosphere, making the creatures that jump out at you (with some excellent animation) all the more terrifying.

    To aid this glum setting, we’re treated to an ominous soundtrack, which is occasionally penetrated by the sounds of evil lurking in the shadows. The voice acting is impressive too, although the dialogue has reached a new low in terms of cheesiness. Again, this doesn’t necessarily detract from the game, as there isn’t nearly as much emphasis on story as there is on action (In fact, if you’re like me, you’ll find the cheesy lines make things all the more entertaining!).

    In conclusion, Darkside has its flaws. The dialogue is cheesy, but we can forgive that. The camera is more difficult to excuse. I like the fact that Capcom is trying new things, but this backfired in a bad way. You’ll find yourself swearing at the screen more than once as you play through.
    Despite this, you’ll almost certainly come back again. There’s a decent amount of unlockable content to keep you blasting away at the Umbrella Corporations grisly creatures (including a very amusing mini-game once you’ve seen the end credits). Minor grievances aside, this is a solid game, great fun to play, and even better with a buddy. Fans of the series will lap it up.

    + T-virus creations are a lot ...
    by Published on March 1st, 2010 20:58

    Platform: XBLA
    Developer: Regolith Games
    Publisher: Konami



    KrissX: The Verbose Vocabulary Vendor

    KrissX, pronounced “Criss Cross”, is an Xbox Live game with its central focal point being the manipulation of letters to form words. It’s simple, basic, and yet it proves to be quite an engrossing, addictive and surprisingly educational game.

    As said above, the aim of the game is to complete puzzles, these puzzles resemble crosswords filled in with anagrams. While the game doesn’t get much more sophisticated or complicated, it still is rather difficult to put down. The game is broken into a few different modes, Quest, Time Trial, Survival, Categorised and a Free Play mode, but they are all pretty similar. The quest mode has 150 stages to beat before you’ve “cleared” the game and after beating the game, this actually seems too short. Each stage has about 8 or 9 words connected like a crossword and as you hover over each word a clue will pop up to make things that bit easier. In general, a basic knowledge of English will be enough to get you through this game but throughout it, I encountered a few words that left me confounded. “Macabre” was one, as was “Zenith” and this brings me to the educational part of this game. I always thought I had a good grasp of the English language but of course after playing KrissX, I had to put dictionary.com in my bookmarks.

    If you look at the bottom left of the screen, you’ll notice a small circle half full of liquid which represents your hint points. When you hit your right trigger, two tiles will flare, and swapping them won’t always give you the word you’re looking for but will bring you that bit closer. To get these hit points, as well as extra time and points, there are small circular symbols which fall from words when you match them up. These symbols, will come down in three different colours corresponding to the X, Y and B buttons on the pad. This seems to be added in to add a sense of competitiveness to the game as trying to get all of them before they float below the bottom of the screen can require extremely dexterous fingers.

    Graphically, the game contains some wonderfully colourful backgrounds and Wordsworth the Owl is ever present (unless a word reaches that corner of the screen in which case he becomes transparent). The tiles are all easy to read but sometimes the clues can be tricky to make out. I had two clues: “fail” and “fall” and I could never tell them apart but in general everything can be made out, even on my abysmal SD TV. The effects when you get a cascade, which is like a domino effect of solving words, is pretty impressive if somewhat overwhelming the first time you see it.

    The audio is actually well suited to the game, with very pleasant, easy on the ears melodies and the victory chime as you solve a word is subtle enough to be ignored in general and yet hugely appreciated when you crack a word you’ve been staring at for five minutes. Although there is a voice that says “Stage Complete” at the end of every stage which is actually quite humorous.

    The achievements for KrissX are actually not too shabby, most of them can be obtained through casual play but a few, like the Extreme Wildfire one actually took some time to pull off. They are doable but not for the casual gamer that KrissX ultimately appeals. And that’s probably the most important thing to note about KrissX. It is a casual game. I turned it on for something to kill 20 minutes. My girlfriend was happy to play it. My mother even tried to give it a shot. It’s a nice game but I’m not sure if it’s worth the 800 points that it’s advertised for. I’d definitely pick it up for 400 but for 800 you would really want to like your word games.

    by Published on January 27th, 2010 11:05

    Platform: PC
    Developer: Telltale Games
    Publisher: LucasArts



    Tales of Monkey Island: Bringing Point-and-Click back.

    Before people read this, I must confess a personal bias. I personally loved all the other Monkey Island games and the prospect of reviewing a game that was to continue such a favoured series was hugely appealing to me. I will try and keep this review unbiased but on a last note before I begin, if you haven’t played the other Monkey Island games and you enjoy this title, it’s definitely worth the purchase.

    Tales of Monkey Island is the newest instalment of the immensely popular Point-and-Click adventure series from Lucas Arts. You play as Guybrush Threepwood, a “mighty pirate”, who prefers to use his head instead of his cutlass to solve any of life’s difficulties. In previous instalments of the series we have learned that he has a steady and persistent cast, for example, his wife Elaine Threepwood, a pirate far more at home with violence, the Voodoo Lady, Guybrush’s guide in this world (and the next) and the fearsome LeChuck, Guybrush’s nemesis. Tales of Monkey Island has entered a new realm of distribution however, offering the game in five chapters, all downloadable straight to your PC. In each of these chapters, Guybrush must face mind stretching puzzles and use whatever is available to him to proceed along his quest.

    The gameplay is simplistic with the cursor lighting up as you roll over interactive objects and their names popping up to identify them and movement is controlled by holding the left mouse button down and dragging it in the direction you want Guybrush to walk in. This takes a little while to get used to but becomes second nature very quickly. Then you have the inventory of the items which you steal, borrow, pillage, earn and find throughout the game to aid you in your quest. The only other interaction you control is how you hold a conversation. This simplistic system is just what the game needs as, with every other game in the series, the best part about Monkey Island is the humour and wit. This is exactly the kind of game that you can use to just whittle away hours from a tough day with little input from you. The series is famed for the classic one-liners that is sprouted by the characters, with Guybrush taking center stage as one of the most likable character to be created in the digital realm. The only thing that worries me about this is that some of the jokes are derived from the previous instalments and this may take away some of the charm for newcomers to the series.

    The graphics are simply beautiful with the world captured in the playful style that the story is portrayed in and they reflect the idea that the game is something to be enjoyed at your pleasure rather than mind-blowing special effects to keep your adrenaline high. The characters all have very definite styles and while the lip synching is nowhere near perfect (or even close for that matter) we can get definite bursts of identifiable emotion when they are portrayed.

    The audio in the game is one of my favourite aspects. The cast have been excellently selected to compliment the physical nature and personality of their respective characters. Dominic Armato (Guybrush) in particular does an amazing job portraying the Caribbean’s most endearing pirate. The music, while sometimes over the top, does the job of getting the scene’s temperament just right. In the frequent scenes of battle between Guybrush and LeChuck, we get ominous tones which still have a playful air to them, cementing the idea that the game is still just out to make you laugh.

    The chapters can be purchased separately or altogether as a pack and from my experience, it took me about 3 hours to complete a chapter, apart from chapter four which, in my mind was the trickiest. Which leads me to the one flaw I found with this game. Once again, alot of the puzzles will make sense when you sit down and really think about it but some of them are simply bizarre and unless you’re somewhat used to the tricks that LucasArts like to use in these games, I can’t see people figuring them out themselves. That said, it did feel slightly easier than the earlier games but I still would expect a newcomer to be searching for a walkthrough by chapter two.

    Finishing up here, I still think the Monkey Island series are a solid gaming experience that everyone should try at least once. I know the humour might not appeal to everyone but for the life of me I can’t think who. Best thing about this game is you can buy the first chapter on it’s own if you want to try it. And I’d recommend you all do that.

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