RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 24th 2007 at 05:23:51 AM by (Tondog)
Posted under Modern Gaming, EA, Skate, Sony, Game Republic, Folklore, Underrated and Overlooked Games Of The Year

2007 was the year of hype in gaming. Between Halo 3, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, this year has seen the release of some of the most talked up games of all-time. While some of them fell far short of the hype, there were plenty of other far superior games that came out, but received little to no attention from mainstream gamers. So, continuing now and on every Wednesday (or Thursday) (or sometime) until the end of the year, I will be giving you a look at two games released this year that deserve your hard-earned cash and attention. At the end of this five-part series (ending the day after Christmas), I will list them in order of the most overlooked/underrated.

This inclusion might be a little controversial since it is a fairly well known game and will be getting a sequel, but nonetheless, I think it's been overlooked by many gamers. This game would be Skate by EA Black Box and published by EA. The game has only sold less than half a million copies across both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, most likely because the 360 version came out a week before Halo 3 and the PS3 version came out on the same day as Halo 3. Damn you Halo 3 for sabotaging the sales of a great game! Halo bashing aside, Skate may look like a typical skateboarding game like the Tony Hawk series on the surface, but the game takes a completely opposite approach to the sport than the Tony Hawk games. With Skate, EA strived to make the most realistic skateboarding game ever, a goal that was met. In Skate, you can not land a 540 going off a little kicker like you can in Tony Hawk, nor can you easily land a 900 going off a half pipe. It's much more realistic compared to the crazy combos and tricks seen in the Tony Hawk games.

The best part about the game is its extremely innovative control scheme. You can kick with your right foot by pressing the A/X button, kick with your left foot by pressing X/Square (this is a first in any game, at least to my knowledge), and move around with the left analog stick. However, where Skate truly shines is in its trick controls, dubbed by EA as Flickit. With Flickit controls, all of the ollie-based (for you non skaters, an ollie is jumping into the air with your board) tricks to get you into the air are controlled by flicking the right analog sticks in various directions. For example, to do a regular ollie, pull down on the stick then flick it up. A kickflip is done by moving the right stick down then flicking it to the upper left corner. Some of them get very complicated, such as a 360 inward heelflip, which you do by moving the stick slightly below the right position, moving to the downward position, then flicking to the upper right corner. This control scheme is preferable to the typical Tony Hawk press X then press Square and a direction to do the flip because it takes a whole lot more time to master and learn and replicates how the tricks are done in real life. You can apply the same Flickit concept to tweak and setup grabs and setup grinds and transition from one grind into another without leaving the rail. This is the real beauty of Skate, its enormous attention to detail and respect for the art of skateboarding. However, like other skateboarding sims (see Thrasher Skate and Destroy on Playstation), the vert aspect of the game is flawed. The vert skating just feels very clunky at times, however you are able to get used to it with time. I just hope EA improves vert skating in Skate 2. Moving on, the music in the game is actually a pretty damn good cross section of music from artists ranging from Slayer to Sex Pistols to Nirvana to Eric B and Rakim to David Bowie to Rick Ross (EVERYDAY I'M HUSTLIN!). Still doesn't beat the classic rap soundtrack from Thrasher Skate and Destroy, but it's close. 

One thing you should be aware of is that the PS3 version of the game is nowhere near as good as the Xbox 360 version. The 360 version runs much more smoothly than the PS3 version, which stutters very often. So, do yourself a favor and buy Skate because it is by far the most realistic skateboarding game ever made.

Next up on the list is Folklore (known as Folksoul in Japan), developed by Game Republic and published by Sony. Folklore is the second Japanese RPG to see release on the Playstation 3 here in the United States, and it's one of the finest RPGs I have ever played. What I like the most about the game is that it foregoes the typical turn-based menu simulation of Final Fantasy and other games of its ilk for more action-based combat. That and the story isn't about some brooding emo kid who gets pissed off and threatens to destroy the world and you're some androgynous emo kid who has to stop him. Instead the game is a mystery story revolving around two people, one named Keats, the other named Ellen (both of which are playable). Keats writes for an occult magazine named Unknown Realms, and Ellen is looking for her mother. They end up in the middle of figuring out a murder mystery and who, or what, did it. In order to solve this mystery, they must travel to the Netherworld, a place where the dead roam. In the Netherworld, they must destroy monsters and capture their souls. I won't say too much else because the story is easily one of the best I've seen in an RPG, especially a Japanese one.

The game plays like a third person action game crossed with an RPG. The combat system is really unique. At any time, you may equip up to four folks, which are souls that you have captured and can use to attack enemies. You are then able to carry out each attack by simply pressing one of the face buttons on the controller. You are able to gain more Folks by defeating enemies and capturing their soul. One of the unique things about this game are the online features. You are able to create your own custom dungeons and share them with people online. In addition to that, there are also two add-on packs up on the Playstation Store as of this writing that add 3-4 hours of gameplay with 4 quests and a new Folk in each pack. Downloadable content is not something I'm a big fan of, but it's nice to get a little bit more out of the game for $4 (or $6 for both packs on the store right now). I hope this explanation made sense because I don't know that it did. Regardless, be sure to check out Folklore if you ever get a Playstation 3.

[Skate PS3 Cover Art from PSU.com/Xbox 360 Cover Art from Wikipedia]
[Folklore Cover Art from PSU.com]



Posted on Dec 17th 2007 at 04:24:35 PM by (Tondog)
Posted under Modern Gaming, Sony, Factor 5, Lair, Apple, Harmonix, Phase, iPod, Underrated and Overlooked Games Of The Year

2007 was the year of hype in gaming. Between Halo 3, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, this year has seen the release of some of the most talked up games of all-time. While some of them fell far short of the hype, there were plenty of other far superior games that came out, but received little to no attention from mainstream gamers. So, continuing now and on every Wednesday (or Thursday) (or sometime) until the end of the year, I will be giving you a look at two games released this year that deserve your hard-earned cash and attention. At the end of this five-part series (ending the day after Christmas), I will list them in order of the most overlooked/underrated.

If you followed the video game world at all this year, you'll likely know that Lair for the Playstation 3 was a massively hyped game that was often touted as one of saviors of Sony's big black monolith of a gaming console known as the Playstation 3, but that did not happen as Lair was a critical bomb. All the hype that was generated by the game blew up in Sony's face as the game got largely horrible reviews and become the butt of all video game related jokes. Did it deserve all the negative reviews? Is it really that bad of a game? The answer to that question is quite simply, no. Lair is perhaps one of the most underrated games of the year (not overlooked, mind you, underrated).

The game's story revolves around two kingdoms, Asilya and Mokai, former allies now torn apart due to their land being ravaged by volcanoes. Now the Mokai's land is depleted of resources, and the Mokai live on a resource rich land. As time goes on, the two become enemies due to religion coming in and teaching them that they are enemies and should not tolerate each other. So, the Mokai decide to launch a surprise attack against the Asylians, this is where you come in as Rohn, a member of the Asylian Sky Guard who fights off the invading Mokai using dragons. It's a good plot, especially for an action game involving dragons and burning things up and is definitely better than stuff like Eragon.

But on to the game itself. As stated, most of the game revolves around you flying around on a dragon burning things and defending your people from attack. The game's graphics are quite good and really capture a world in ruin quite well. The game does support 1080p high definition, however, I have only seen at 1080i and 720p. Both modes look incredible. The only problem is that there are some slowdowns at time, but nothing too distracting. Even more amazing than the graphics is the sound, which is among the best I've ever heard in a video game. Presented in UNCOMPRESSED 7.1 SOUND (!!!) with THX Certification, the game completely envelopes you in sound. Now, I've only played it in compressed Dolby Digital 5.1, but even in that situation, dragons swooping overhead, flames flying in all directions, and exploding ships all sounded awesome. However, what really shines in the game is the soundtrack composed John Debney, who also did the music for The Passion of the Christ and Sin City. The soundtrack is definitely the best of 2007 and rivals most film soundtracks. The music is so good that Sony is selling the whole soundtrack for the game on iTunes.

But enough about the technical side of the game, let's move onto what gets trashed the most, the gameplay. The team at Factor 5 decided to take advantage of what the PS3 offers them in graphical capability, sound, and capacity with the Blu-ray Disc, however, they also decided to take advantage of the PS3's new Sixaxis controller with motion sensing capability. This is what caused the most criticism over the game. The tilt controls were viewed as hard to use and unresponsive. To those people I say, "Pfft, spend some more time with it." Yes, it is kind of tough to get the hang of, but you must remember that you are controlling a gigantic dragon, and not an airplane which can turn on a dime. If you think of it in the sense that you are at the reins of a gigantic beast, then the controls might be a little easier to work, since it basically is like you're at the reins. Slap the reins down and you'll get a speed boost, pull them up quickly and the dragon will do a 180 and face the other way. Once you get used to the controls, you'll be burning those Mokai bastards quickly. Or, take a look at the instructional video included in the bonus material, it's a like a video version of the Lair Review Guide.

However, despite all this, I would only give the game a 7.5 at the maximum because it's slow at times, it's rather short, and the controls don't always work right. It is definitely worth checking out when it gets down to $15 or so.

This might be an odd inclusion since it never had a retail release, but this is something that I'm sure none of you have heard of by a developer you've definitely heard of. Did you know that Harmonix, the same company behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band released an iPod game this year? No, really, AN iPOD GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The game is called Phase, and it's basically just like Amplitude or Guitar Hero, but on your iPod.

Basically, the game is played by clicking the left button, the center button, or the right button in time to your music. Sometimes there will also be a wave of dots that comes up, known as a flowing sweep. When one of these flowing sweeps come up, you have to scroll the click wheel left and right, following the pattern of the dots. The game has it's own small soundtrack of seven songs (Bang Camaro - Nightlife Commando, Dealership - Dots And Dashes, Freezepop - Pop Music Is Not A Crime (YES!!! FREEZEPOP!!!), Inter:sect - Midnight Gamma, Kodomo - Spira Mirabilis, Speck - The Theme Of The Awesome, Universal Hall Pass - Dragonfly Remix), but the big feature here is that you can import ANY song you have on your iPod into the game and it will make it into a level for you to play, with different difficulties. Want to play on insane (Video is on the default difficulty, by the way)? You can do that! Want to play along to Run DMC? Sure, you can do that too. Want to play along to the I Have A Dream Speech? Uh...yeah, you can do that too. Want to play along to static? No you don't. Of course you don't. But you technically could do that in Phase!

It's a $5 download from the iTunes store, and has been described by many as the only iPod game worth having. The game requires a third-generation iPod nano or better, iPod classic, or fifth-generation iPod or better.

Check back on Wednesday or Thursday when I actually deliver this feature on-time...(at least I hope).



Posted on Dec 7th 2007 at 05:39:32 AM by (Tondog)
Posted under Modern Gaming, Microsoft, Crackdown, Halo 3, Nintendo, Picross DS, Underrated and Overlooked Games Of The Year

2007 was the year of hype in gaming. Between Halo 3, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, this year has seen the release of some of the most talked up games of all-time. While some of them fell far short of the hype, there were plenty of other far superior games that came out, but received little to no attention from mainstream gamers. So, continuing now and on every Wednesday (or Thursday) until the end of the year, I will be giving you a look at two games released this year that deserve your hard-earned cash and attention. At the end of this five-part series (ending the day after Christmas), I will list them in order of the most overlooked/underrated.

First up this week is the Halo 3 Beta Crackdown by RealTime Worlds and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 (I know, Ctrl-Alt-Del sucks, B^U, etc etc, but this one isn't half bad.). Before I talk about it, I want to confess that I have never actually played the game, but I'm just going based off of what Tynstar has said about the game on our forums and what I have heard from elsewhere on the web. Crackdown is an example of when something with not much anticipation rides the coattails of another more popular thing (like The Decemberists riding Stephen Colbert's coattails). Some previous examples of this in gaming include Zone of the Enders (Came with the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo) and Dragon Quest 8 (came with the Final Fantasy 12 demo). In Crackdown's case, RealTime Worlds' corporate overlords (in the publishing sense) at Microsoft thought, "Hey, why don't we give people who  buy Crackdown access to a time-limited beta version of Halo 3! It will increase sales for us because Halo fans will buy anything related to the game..." Okay, maybe they didn't say that exactly, but that seems to be the logic. Include a demo for the most anticipated game of all-time with a game that wouldn't sell very well on its own in order to boost sales. Makes sense. Well, the plan worked, as Crackdown went on to sell 1.35 million copies. Now why, would I include such a successful game on this list? Simple. It only sold that many for the Halo 3 beta. Just go to any used game store and you'll see a boatload of copies of Crackdown available for sale. It's a damned shame too because it's actually a great game and got very good reviews and response from those who actually played it. In the game, you play as a genetically enhanced cop with superhuman, comic book esque abilities. The game revolves around you taking down three gangs that control the city. The game has been described by many people (including our very own Tynstar) as very addictive, and definitely worth picking up. So, those of you with a 360, definitely look into getting this game.

Next game I'd like to feature is one of my favorite games of the year, Picross DS by Jupiter and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. Now, as many of you on this site have discovered, Picross DS is a very addictive DS puzzler which is controlled entirely by the stylus (or the dpad if you please) and is a followup of sorts to Mario's Picross released here in the US 10 years ago on the original Game Boy. Now, many Picross games came out in Japan after Mario's Picross, but they never were released here because Mario's Picross was a commercial failure here, but 12 years later, Nintendo has tried out Picross in the US and Europe again. However, the DS iteration did not do extraordinarily well over here as well. But, for $20 it's a damn good value that will have you hooked for months. Picross DS is kind of like Sudoku, but with pictures. The numbers across the top of the puzzle tell you how many squares to fill in going down (and how many in a row there are), and the numbers going down the side of the puzzle do the same thing, but for going across. It's kind of hard to explain, but if you try out a few puzzles online, you'll understand it. Check out Wikipedia article about Nonograms in order to learn how to play them. You can also try your hand at a few nonogram puzzles by going here. Back to Picross DS, the game includes over 135 puzzles, a Daily Picross feature with five different unlockable minigames to test your puzzle solving skills, a puzzle creator, and online play. The coolest feature about this game are the free downloadable puzzle packs Nintendo has been releasing biweekly. Right now, you can download over 120 additional puzzles to your Picross DS cart (which can hold up to 100 puzzles). The puzzles are mostly from Mario's Picross on the Game Boy, but Nintendo has been having contests to make puzzles and some of those will be posted in a pack. Another online feature the game has is that you can send puzzles you created to your friends and have them solve them. All that for only $20. You really can't go wrong with Picross DS.

Check back next week when we look at something I haven't decided yet. Oddly enough I have no clue what I want to feature the next two times, but I know what the final part of the series will be. Oh well, check back and we'll see what I do. Cheesy



Posted on Nov 29th 2007 at 05:56:55 AM by (Tondog)
Posted under Modern Gaming, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, The Darkness, Dewys Adventure, Underrated and Overlooked Games Of The Year

2007 was the year of hype in gaming. Between Halo 3, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, this year has seen the release of some of the most talked up games of all-time. While some of them fell far short of the hype, there were plenty of other far superior games that came out, but received little to no attention from mainstream gamers. So, starting today and on every Wednesday (or Thursday) until the end of the year, I will be giving you a look at two games released this year that deserve your hard-earned cash and attention. At the end of this five-part series (ending the day after Christmas), I will list them in order of the most overlooked/underrated.

First up Dewy's Adventure for the Nintendo Wii. Developed by the same team at Konami that created last year's sleeper hit Elebits, Dewy's Adventure is a platformer with a very distinct twist. In the game, you play as a cute little drop of water named Dewy, and what you do is tilt the level and change the temperature. Very simple yes, but it provides many challenges. By changing the temperature, you change the form Dewy takes on. If you raise it, he will become mist and a cloud, and will be able to hit enemies with lightning. If you lower the temperature, he will become ice and slide across large pools of water. The game is also like its cousin, Elebits, in that it grades you based on your performance in each stage, so that adds some replay value. Also featured in that game is a multiplayer mode, and the ability to create levels and send them to your friends using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. If you own a Wii and don't mind a cute, somewhat childish looking game with a pro-environment message and odd loading screen advertisement messages for Nestle bottled water, by all means, give this one a look. I have a feeling that you will be seeing this profiled in some magazine in three years for a "best games you've never played" feature. But don't take my word for it, here's a cool little video explaining one guy's opinion on why the game is so awesome.
Or if a cute platformer isn't mature enough for you, then check out The Darkness (for both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3), developed by Starbreeze, the same studio behind the underrated Xbox/PC game, Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (look for the remake on PS3 and Xbox 360 in the near future!). The Darkness is a game based on the comic book of the same name in which you play as Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman blamed for double crossing Uncle Paulie, the New York mob boss. Oddly enough, on the same day this happens, Jackie is posessed by an alien creature named The Darkness, which gives him superpowers, but takes over his will. The main game plays as a standard modern day console FPS, complete with regenerating health and dual weilding, but when you summon The Darkness, the game changes completely. When summoned, The Darkness will appear as two tentacles which come out of Jackie's shoulder, giving him strength and four special powers. The first power will make The Darkness extend one of its tentacles, allowing you to look ahead, pick up guns, and kill enemies using it. The second power will give you two super powered guns. The third power will give you a sharp tentacle, which can pierce through enemies and obstacles. And the fourth power will create a black hole which sucks in EVERYTHING in its vicinity. Also, when you have The Darkness summoned, you are able to call Darklings, which are little critters that comes in different varities (Kamakazie, Gunner, Light Killer) to aid you in destroying your enemies and creating darkness for The Darkness to feed off off, since light is its only weakness. No overview of The Darkness would be complete without praising its superb voice acting. Mike Patton's (vocalist for the bands Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantomas, and some others) vocal performance, which was unedited and has no studio effects applied to it, is one of the best ever heard in a video game. However, the coolest part about the game is the sheer amount of content one can watch on the in-game television sets. Instead of having generic stock footage like in most games, The Darkness opted for public domain films, cartoons, and one full-length licensed movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. Yes, that's right. You can watch the entire, unedited version of the 1962 classic right in the game. Or if Popeye, The Three Stooges, or Flash Gordon is more you style, you can always watch some of those. However, it should be mentioned that the PS3 version has much much more in-game television content due to the increased disc size that Blu-ray offers (most notable: five additional Popeye cartoons), however, both versions have plenty to watch. A complete listing of the movies and animated shorts that can be found in the game is located here (I think this list covers the PS3 version).

Check back next week where we take a look at a game that's as addictive as crack (and a great stocking stuffer to boot), and a game that many cared about only for the bonus it had.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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