All Games Blogs

Saturday, 18 April 2009 00:00

Review: Midnight Club Los Angeles Xbox 360

One of the worst feelings in the world is when you realize you're number two. The 'Backup Plan', the 'Just in Case', the 'If All Else Fails', 'Second'. Because even when you do get to step up to the plate, its only a matter of time before you're back on the bench. It doesn't matter how good you are or how well you perform. You're only there because the first choice wasn't available. It was you or boredom.


That's Midnight Club L.A. It likes to pretend it's a glitzy blinged out arcade racer. It tries hard to impress with a lot of licensed cars and a pseudo representation of L.A.'s streets and highways. But as soon as you load it up and the poorly scripted 'story' starts, it's true nature shines through. Its really just a slightly ramped up version of the driving sections in GTA IV. And you're only playing it because you've already played through Nico's storyline twice.


Sitting across from the table from someone while they wait for their cell phone to ring is not the best way to enjoy a meal. It doesn't matter if you're funny or smart or know how to order the wine in French. Because you're the second choice. They'd happily trade you in for a cold sandwich with someone else. The pasta is bland and dry as you swallow because you know that all it takes is one phone call, and you're eating alone again. Look at those eyes. They're looking through you.
Being second sucks. You're always waiting for the hammer to fall when number one decides that they're ready to take over again. You can never get too comfortable because there's nothing stopping the door from slamming on you. What will happen when the first choice stops showing up at all? It doesn't really matter, because no matter what, you're number two. Someone else will go to the top of the list while you brush up on witty reparte.


Burnout Paradise is what Midnight Club wants to be. It wishes it could have Burnout's style and graphics and falls short imitating its gameplay options. MCLA's modes consist of 'Race from A to B', and 'Race from A to B to C'. Sure, you can plow through traffic like a madman, but it lacks Burnout's wild stunts or crashes. Adding in motorcycles and a race editor don't make up for the yawn inducing treks through the city. It wants to be more, but it falls short.


Being second sucks. Your phone only rings because someone else didn't pick up. You only get invited because someone else dropped out. You're only on the speed dial until they need the room. Midnight Club L.A. is only in the Xbox because Need For Speed Undercover wasn't on the shelves. You'd rather be playing EA's version of cops and robbers than Rockstar's. The cops that roam the streets in MC:LA act like after thoughts. The car customization tool looks like it was pulled directly from old versions of NFS. Nothing is terrible, its just 'okay'. But 'okay' is only good enough until the real deal is available.


Being second sucks. You wonder how it would feel to not get dismissed. No more sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you hear the click of call waiting. What would you do if every call didn't end with 'my other line is ringing, I gotta go'. It must be staggering to have someone's full attention. Being first would be great. Intoxicating.


Midnight Club:LA doesn't do a lot wrong. The rubber band AI, uninspired gameplay, and lax graphics aren't it's biggest flaws. Its biggest flaw is that it's a second choice. And being second sucks.
Score 5/10

Published in Xbox 360

Bobby King, VP and Lead Designer of Pinball Arcade joined Ms. H for a riveting interview on the Mom’s Minute podcast. He discussed the current kickstarted campaign to license the legendary Addams Family pinball table and also dropped more than a few gems of info about what lies ahead for the Pinball Arcade. A deal with Sony Entertainment will bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back to pinball with The Last Action Hero table and also, for the first time Farsignt will design a completely original pinball table based on a Sony film property. That leaves a lot of room for speculation, although it’s slated to be released in time for Halloween, so that could narrow down the prospects.

Mr. King also let us know that the long awaited Xbox 360 release is nearing completion with all of the current tables in the mix. Even more exciting is the Xbox One version of The Pinball arcade is in final testing and may be out as soon as next month.

You’ll find a lot more information in the 30+ minute interview as Ms. H gets answers about upcoming tables, leaderboard hacks, Farsights new non-pinball titles, and exactly why Christopher Lloyd’s face won’t be on the Addams Family artwork.

The interview starts 37 minutes in and you can listen to the 9/22/14 episode of Mom's Minute below.

Share selected track on FacebookShare selected track on TwitterShare selected track on Google Plus

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Friday, 15 July 2011 02:05

605 Dead Pixel Live 7.14.11

Dead Pixel Live gives up on chat in this episode. Derrick is under the weather. The DPL Old School Battle Royale contest is announced. More E3 interview from Inversion , Payday: The Heist, and the Videogame History Museum. Mayor Young from the Fantastic Forum podcast pops in to talk about his latest gaming choices.
Share selected track on FacebookShare selected track on TwitterShare selected track on Google Plus
Published in Dead Pixel Live
Sunday, 05 January 2014 13:26

Ten Best Consoles of 2013

 

tenbestconsolesof2013 

2013 was a big year for gaming consoles. We were on the brink of a new generation of systems, but the current gen wasn't showing any signs of going away. Huge games like GTA V and Call of Duty Ghosts proved that you didn't need to drop hundreds on new hardware to experience the best gaming had to offer. The influx of Android based platforms finally hit store shelves in a big way. Now low priced, HD games were were available to anyone with $100 and an HDMI cable. But would games that were fun on a phone translate to the big screen? You can't forget the impact that portable gaming made on the industry because when you talk of the best games released this year, a good chunk of them will fit in your pocket. 

AllGames has taken a hard look back on this epic year and come up with a definitive list of the Top Ten Consoles for 2013. If you disagree with some of the placements, additions, or ommisions (let's be honest, you -will- disagree), leave a comment and let us know how you would have ranked the best gaming consoles of 2013.

 


 

 #10 Ouya

nga ouya

 

The Ouya started off with a bang, but a dearth of AAA titles and lack of graphical punch really hurt it. Hopefully the upcoming Ouya 2.0 will solve some of the problems, but it’s not the only android system on the block anymore and other consoles are already nipping at it’s heels.

 


 #9 NVidia Shield

nga nvidia-shield

 


NVidia’s Shield hit late in the year, and it still managed to make a splash. Packing a lot more power then it’s android based brethren, it also added to ability to stream games from your PC. At $250, It’s high price is it’s biggest drawback in getting gamers to take the leap although the NVidia name will go a long way in gaining clout with the hardcore crowd.

 


#8 Nintendo Wii U

tt Nintendo-Wii-U

 


The WiiU makes the list by just being itself. Nintendo wasn’t fooling anyone with it’s claims of ‘hardcore’ gaming at the console’s launch. Once the WiiU realized that halfhearted ports of Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed cutting it, Nintendo went back to it’s family based roots, and the system finally started to shine. New Mario, Luigi and Zelda releases marked an immediate and strong return to form.

 

 


#7 Sony Playstation Vita

tt PlaystationVita

 


Sony isn’t giving up on portable. Not by a long shot. By adding a number of CrossPlay titles, and pairing it heavily with the new PS4, the Vita has received a renewed lease on life. The jury is still out on how many Vita based titles will be worth getting, but if you have a PS4, this portable is the perfect companion.

 


#6 Neo Geo X

nga neo-geo-x-gold

 


The Neo Geo X may not have been a big hit (it may not even survive through 2014), but it has a pedigree that outshines a lot of other consoles. Near perfect arcade ports of near perfect arcade games means that this is one retro console that still looks good on the big screen. And if you’re a fan of fighting games, then you really have no excuse not to own one.

 


#5 Microsoft Xbox One

tt xbox-one

 


The Xbox One had a hard road to its release date with a number of PR missteps. On launch day, none of that mattered because the multifaceted console was able to silence any doubters with one of the strongest line up of titles seen on a system’s release day. With a ton of options including music, skype, movies, and tv, the Xbox One has made a solid argument to being the only entertainment box you’ll need. Time will tell if the lack of focus on purely gaming will be a liability.

 


#4 Sony Playstation 4

tt sony-playstation-4

 


The Sony PS4 was one of the biggest launches in the history of consoles, but it was marred with hardware failures and network outages. Fortunately, it was able to rise up from the ashes with the help of excellent titles like Resogun and Killzone that showed off the fourth Playstation’s strengths. Allowing users to stream gameplay directly from the console went a long way to making the PS4 a popular next gen choice. Now it just needs more games.

 


#3 Microsoft Xbox 360

tt Xbox360

 


The Xbox 360 stood strong in 2013. With hit after hit, the console proved that it still had the power to deliver a great gaming experience. Although Kinect add-on was ignored by both gamers and developers, price drops on the core system helped keep the 360 at the top of the charts all year long. Xbox Live continues to be one of the best online services around and the biggest reason the 360 had stayed viable for so long.

 


#2 Nintendo 3DS/2DS

tt 3ds 2ds

 


Nintendo knows portable gaming.They’ve dominated the space since the original Gameboy and haven’t missed a step. A lower price on the 3DS and the release of the 2DS may have gotten the system into more pockets, but the constant stream of excellent games kept those systems turned on. New Pokemon titles, Animal Crossing, and the best Zelda game released in years made the 3DS a must own platform in 2013

 


#1 Sony Playstation 3

tt Sony-Playstation-3

 


Sony came strong in 2013 with the PS3. The Instant Game Collection promotion that gave PS+ members free AAA titles every month blew away other online services. Sony managed to deliver some jaw dropping exclusive titles like The Last of Us and Beyond Two Souls, along with a number of award winning Indie games. Even with the release of the next gen consoles looming, the PS4 was able to show that it’s not going away anytime soon.

 

Published in All Games Blog
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 07:03

GH101 Xbox 360 and PS3 Restrospectives

gh101 lastgenretrospectives 450

 

 

Fred is joined by an all star list of guests as Gaming History 101 looks back on the longest, most successful, and most diverse generation of consoles. Steve (R9cast) and Norma (Knuckleballer Radio and Zombiecast) come on board to discuss the beloved Xbox 360. They take a deep look at the console launch, launch titles, significant advances, hardware setbacks, and a bunch of other ups and downs in Microsoft's second, and currently most notable, console.

Then Fred is joined by 42 Level One host Andy and Video Game Outsiders own Matt (@MattoMcFly) to reminisce on the Playstation 3. They look back on the launch, early titles, and myriad of ups and downs that Sony struggled with on its third console

 

Click Here for the GH101 XBOX 360 Episode  

Click Here for the GH101  PlayStation 3 Episode

 

Friday, 30 May 2014 00:00

The Little Pawn Shop That Could

Royal PawnRoyal Pawn

 When garbage collectors are called sanitation engineers, and used cars are referred to as certified pre-owned vehicles, it's refreshing to notice a place, though small in size, that goes simply by the name of Royal Pawn.  Why?  Because it is an actual pawn shop.  Unlike another establishment I visited during my video game field trip that was called "Cash Converters" when it was in essence a  pawn shop, the store I visited for my video game field trip was a bona fide pawn shop.  It's a place where you can pawn items it you want, or if you prefer, you can just shop around like I did, and find out what they have to offer in the way of video games.

Before visiting Royal Pawn, I went to their website and saw lots of pictures on the walls, as well as musical instruments and other merchandise displayed in glass cases.  I have visited similar looking places, and would more often than not be told that they do not sell or trade video games.  When I visited Royal Pawn and walked closer to the glass door opening of this store, I saw the sign  "We Buy Gold” -- which heightened my doubts that video games would be sold in this pawn shop.

When I walked in the store, I was greeted by a salesperson.  I was going to ask a leading question such as, "You all do not have video games or video game systems here, do you?" -- when I decided to take a more positive approach and just ask if they had any video games. I was surprised when the salesperson said that they not only sold video games but had video game consoles as well --  which were located in an area behind where I was standing.

Xbox 360's at Royal PawnXbox 360's at Royal Pawn

 I asked the salesperson if there were any PS4 or Xbox Ones in stock, and his reply was that it was too soon to have the new systems. However, he mentioned that about two weeks ago, this store had a PS4, which was bought within a few minutes after it was put on the shelf.  Of course, this could have been a fabrication; however, judging from the busyness of this store, this was a possible true story. When I asked about the prices of the video games, he said that most of their video games sold for $10.00, unlike the "Game Box" down the street that sells games for $50 and up.  When I questioned "Game Box," he said that he meant to say "GameStop."  Having visited GameStop the previous week, I can attest to the fact that the used video game prices at Royal Pawn were more reasonable. An added plus was, from what I saw -- the video games included some recent titles.

Here are some of the video games displayed in the locked glass case.Here are some of the video games displayed in the locked glass case.

 When I asked to look at a game in the glass case that caught my attention, he went to another area in the store and brought a key back with him to open the case.  The video game that caught my eye was Gears of War for the Xbox 360, which  was in a new-looking metal case.  When he opened the metal case, the game along with the external and internal packaging were intact.  I was expecting this game to sell higher than $10.00 -- but when I asked, he told me the price was $10.00.  I was tempted to purchase this game; however, I did not particularly like that there was a red skull on the front of the packaging, similar to the skull that's on Call of Duty Ghosts. The salesperson jokingly said that he would remove the skull if I liked, and I knew obviously,  he was just kidding.

To make a long story short, after much contemplation, I passed on the Gears of War game and did not purchase it.

I would describe this video game field trip as an enjoyable one.  Not only was I looking around for video games in a pawn shop that was also known as a pawn shop,  but I was being assisted by a salesperson who was very helpful as well.

If you want to look for your favorite older video games in a place that seems like it's not out to take your money, I recommend you visit a similar type establishment  in your area. If there are no video games in the pawn shop that you are interested in, there may be other type merchandise that you may want to check out.  It is likely that should you decide to look for video games, consoles, or other merchandise,  there is a pawn shop waiting for you to frequent.  Hopefully the salespeople are just as friendly as the merchandise is inexpensive.

 

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 00:00

Forza Motorsport 4 (X360)

 

Forza4 LogoEvery year, a couple of the local Mercedes dealerships get together and rent out the Richmond International Speedway. They then spend a full day attempting to convince ‘VIPs’ to buy a new overpriced luxury car. They do this by letting you speed around in an assortment of Mercs on an assortment of courses specifically designed to make you want one right now. And being a VIP just means that they’ve sold you a car in the past or they’re pretty sure they’re gonna sell you one on the next week or so. Today, I was a VIP. So that there’s no suspense, I’ll jump to the end. I didn’t leave that day with a new Mercedes. I’m very happy with my Crown Vic, thank you very much. But I did leave with the knowledge of what it means to love driving.

Published in Xbox 360
Saturday, 19 November 2011 00:00

NASCAR 2011: The Game - Review

 

nascar-2011-the-game

I’ve driven on two NASCAR tracks in my life. And by driven, I mean  I’ve sat in a car, pressed my foot to the ground, and went around those ovals as fast as my nerves would let me. The first time was at Richmond Raceway, a high banked oval designed for the fastest race cars in the world,  and I was driving a high powered AMG Mercedes coupe capable of 155 mph, courtesy of the local dealership. The second NASCAR track I drove on was Langley Speedway. A small quarter-mile oval that looks like it was paved in someones backyard. And I was driving my own car, a bone stock Crown Victoria LX Sport. Guess which time was more fun.


To call Langley Speedway a ‘Speedway’ is kind of like calling Snookie an ‘actress’. That’s being a little unfair to Langley, but not by much. Unlike it’s heyday in the 70’s and 80’s, where the track was a haven for short track racers on their way to the ‘big leagues’, now it’s mostly used for Late Model and ‘Legends’ races. The term ‘stepping stone’ would be a fitting caption for most of the divisions that run at Langley now. A few times during the summer though, they open the track to anyone with a license and a helmet for what’s called ‘Wacky Wednsday’. That’s where me and the Crown Vic come in. 

Published in Playstation 3
Thursday, 05 November 2009 00:00

Forza Motorsport 3 (X360)

The Nurburgring is a 13-mile-long race track in located Nurburg, Germany. Nicknamed the "Green Hell", it was built in 1927, has 72 corners, constant elevation changes and is considered one of the most dangerous race tracks ever constructed. And for about $15, anyone can drive on it.

A lot of games have included the Nurburgring on their list of locales to simulate. The latest is "Forza Motorsport 3," which claims to be the most "realistic racing experience ever." "Forza 3" gives Xbox 360 owners the option of taking on the Nurburgring and dozens of other tracks in a collection of SUVs, exotic sportscars and purpose-built racers.

My brother and I had flown to Germany for the express purpose of driving on the legendary track. And we'd do it in a rented Mercedes C230 sedan.

Once you arrive at the public section of the Nurburgring, also called the Nordscliefe, there's an unassuming booth that stands between you and the track. I walked up and handed the attendant 75 euros and received a license that allowed me four laps on the track.

That was it. No lengthy safety lecture. No car inspection. It would have been harder to get on a roller coaster at Universal Studios.

Safety lessons weren't needed, though. On the drive up to the track, we crossed paths with a tow truck carrying the remains of a Porsche 911. The front end was nonexistant, and the roof was crushed from an obvious rollover. While Turn 10 Studios has improved the collision model in "Forza 3" over the previous installments, even on the highest setting, a rollover won't result in the carnage featured on the back of that tow truck. That's the sort of damage Forza 3 doesn't simulate.

I drove to the entrance of the Green Hell and waited for the yellow-clad track worker to give the "go" signal. The gate lifted and I headed down the first straight. This was it. I was on the 'Ring. My brother sat in the passenger seat as we sped by the series of cones that guide the cars down the first part of the track. After I left the coned area, I was tentative about speeding up. Part of me didn't believe I was actually driving on my dream course, and another part kept picturing the metal carcass or the Porsche.

When I got to the top of the first incline and headed into the initial collection of twists and turns, I began to feel at home. I knew the corners well. Games like "Forza 3" take pride in how closely they can recreate real-world tracks. A long downhill straight opened up in front of me and I pressed the accelerator to the floor. The 2.3 liter engine of the Mercedes pulled the car up the hill, gaining speed. The curve at the top looks a lot less severe than it actually is, a lesson learned from "Forza." I lifted off the throttle and eased the car into the corner. It hugged the road perfectly, the body rolling to the outside while the tires stayed planted on the tarmac.

"Nice," my brother said. I agreed. That gave me the confidence to launch into the next corner, a sweeping right-hand 90-degree curve, at full speed.

I aimed for the inside of the turn. What happened next was a sharp reminder of the difference between a game and real life. "Forza 3" gives you the option of putting a colored line on the road, telling you when to hit the brakes. There's even an option to let the game apply the brakes for you, making it accessible to just about anyone who can hold a gamepad.

I didn't have those helpful lines here. Nothing was going to step on the brake pedal for me as I hurtled towards the trees that bordered the turn. I heard the screeching of the rear tires as they struggled for grip. I heard the sound fade away as they lost that struggle and began to slide toward the outside of the corner. The sensation of unexpectantly facing one direction while your body travels in another is eye-opening. Thankfully, the C230 regained its composure quickly. While it doesn't have all the driving assists of "Forza 3," it does have traction control, and that stepped in to cut power to the rear tires, ending the slide.

The sequence only lasted a split second. But for a split second I was drifting on the Nurburgring. For a split second I was out of control on the Nurburging. For a split second -- I was terrified on the Nurburgring.

I maintained my speed down the decline and back up into a set of 'S' turns that I looked forward to tossing the car into. A motorcycle was ahead of me, and I had to rethink attacking the corners. I was right up on his tail as we entered the turn and there was little room to manuever around him. Instead of risking an incident, I decided to just follow his slow lead into the section. When we exited, I pulled out beside him and passed. At anytime, there can be dozens of other vehicles on the Ring. Even though "Forza 3" excels in allowing diversity in its multiplayer offerings, the fact that a maximum of eight racers can share the road is disapointing. Add to that the fact that unless you have enough people to create a private match, your multiplayer experience will be limited to the scant few modes available in the game's matchmaking system.

I sped around the cyclist and headed into the next set of curves. I glanced to the left and was greeted by a bright blue sky. It was a beautiful scene. "Forza 3" has some of the best graphics ever seen on the Xbox 360, but even they wouldn't have compared to the vista that spread out from the edge of the mountain. Then it dawned on me that I wasn't just driving on a road or a track. Beside me was a cliff. A cliff elevated a few hundred feet into the air. And there wasn't a lot to stop me from going over the side of that cliff.

I checked the rental car's rear-view mirror and saw an A-Class Mercedes storming up behind me. I figured I'd just need to stay in front of the minuscule vehicle for the next few turns, and once we hit the upcoming straight, I'd easily pull away. I was wrong. The nimble car was on my bumper before I reached the final turn entering the next straight. My ego tried to convince me that the tiny A-Class had more than the standard 100hp that it's born with. Maybe the owner had taken a page from the "Forza 3" book and modified the engine with a large turbo, added racing tires, and tuned suspension parts, transforming what was once a normal automobile into a fire-breathing racing machine. But it was more likely that the Mercedes A160 was simply being driven by a better, more experienced driver. I clicked on my right turn signal and moved over to let him pass.

Up next was the Karussell, a banked section of the track that almost begs you dip into it. It's a turn that can do one of two thinggs: Help you traverse it's hairpin radius at an insane speed aided by centrifugal force, or launch you up and over the guardrail like a ramp.

I knew this turn was coming, and I knew how dangerous it was. I told myself earlier that if I didn't feel comfortable, I could always stay on the outer, non-banked section of the turn. I didn't feel comfortable. Still, I dove into the banked section of the Karussell. I could feel the suspension compressing and pushing the car into the road as it was cradled around the curve. My brother and I both let out a scream of joy. "That was awesome!"

Again I checked the rearview mirror. In the distance, I was able to make out the distinctive white silhouette of the "Ring Taxi." The Ring Taxi is a service run by BMW, where for 200 euros, you can be a passenger in a 500hp V10 BMW M5 driven by a professional race driver. Currently, the Taxi was far behind me, but the race-prepped M5 would be on top of my borrowed C-Class grocery hauler soon. I concentrated on the sharp corners ahead, hitting the apexes and accelerating out of each one. The motions were smooth and fast. I checked the position of the Ring Taxi again, expecting him to be a few corners behind me. Instead, the shark-like grill of the BMW loomed impossibly large in the mirror. It was right behind me. How fast was that car? I knew I had to get out of the way as soon as possible.

The next turn was a narrow left-hander and afterwards was a fairly straight section that would make it easy for the Taxi to get around me. I planned on taking the corner as fast as I dared, staying wide, setting myself up to end the turn on the outside edge and thus, giving the fierce BMW a lot of room to pass. But halfway through the maneuver, I looked to my left. There, I was surprised to see the white and blue markings of the BMW M5, taking the inside of turn at twice my speed. I didn't see the driver, or the passengers. I was looking at the rear of the M5.

It was going through the corner sideways.

I can't explain the feeling that went through me. What I can do is describe how my brother and I both yelled as we saw the BMW beside us. I can explain how the instant rush of adrenaline felt and how my accelerated heart rate made time seem to slow to a crawl. But the feeling itself? I was in Germany, on the Nurburging, in a Mercedes, on the edge of traction, and less than 3 feet beside me was a roaring BMW M5 with the combined power of 500 horses harnessed by a professional driver going double my speed, sideways.

It felt ... incredible.

And we still had 5 miles left to go in the lap.

"Forza 3" has a lot to offer driving enthusiasts. It's as close to a simulation that you can find on the Xbox 360. It goes to great lengths to welcome players in with numerous assists and customization options. Theres still something missing that I don't believe any game will be able to capture -- the visceral look and sounds of driving on the edge. I doesn't convey the fear of knowing that you cant lose concentration for a second. For many people, that's probably a good thing. But I remember the feeling of losing control for a moment while heading toward a tree, glancing over the side of a cliff and knowing only a quarter-inch thick guardrail was protecting me, and seeing that BMW sliding past me close enough to touch. You can't simulate that.

We drove a total of four laps during the trip. We had flown 4000 miles, and driven another 150 miles on the autobahn, just to go around a 90-year-old stretch of road four times.

I would do it again.

Score 8/10

Published in Xbox 360
Sunday, 20 October 2013 00:00

Rayman Legends Review (Xbox 360)

Before this year, I was never really a fan of the Rayman games. I couldn't really tell you why, but there was just something about them that didn't feel right to me. But then Rayman Origins came out and I was completely turned around. The game had a fantastic art style, amazing atmosphere, and really tight gameplay. So when I heard that a sequel was being made in the same style as Origins, I was fucking excited, and the game did not disappoint, carrying over most of the things that made the first game great but still changing it up enough that it wasn't just Origins again.

Continuing on from the "story" of Origins, the game starts with a fully voiced (in proper English, no less) narration, explaining how a group of evil Teensies are kidnapping the rest of the Teensies. Rayman and his friends, who are still hip-hop sleeping in that tree, are summoned to stop them. Much like Origins the story is barely there and serves as an excuse for you to be doing all the things you do in the game. It's like the platformers from the gaming days of yore where a single cutscene or a block of text is all the story you get then you just have to jump on things until the game says stop.

The basic gameplay of Legends is largely unchanged from Origins. Your movement speed, the way you punch, the way you jump, it all works like it did in Origins, which is a very good thing. The gameplay was great and didn't need any major changes to it. Running, jumping, and punching dudes and things still feel incredible and pulling off some of the more complicated sections of the game is extremely satisfying. The game does start off a little on the easy side, though. In the first few worlds I was breezing through levels, collecting everything there was to find and getting the highest rating possible. But as the game progressed, the challenge really ramped up to the point where I was pulling my hair out and screaming in frustration, and I was loving every second of it. On these levels the relief after beating it was even more satisfying, especially with the really upbeat music that plays on the scoring screen. There was confetti and people cheering and it all felt fantastic.

The one thing that wasn't so great about the gameplay, and this was also in Origins, is the punching. Not the regular punch, though. I'm talking about the running punch and the air punch. With the running punch, no matter how fast you're moving you always punch at the same speed which is a bit faster than your full speed sprint. Because of this (and my own boundless stupidity), I would keep launching myself off the edge of a platform or straight into a wall, completely fucking up any kind of flow I had going for me. The air punch is the exact opposite, sucking away all of your momentum. You could be going at top speed when you jump into the air but one punch cuts that speed in half. Neither of these things are particularly awful, they can just be very annoying.

While the movement and everything stayed the same, three of the main elements of the game were changed, the first being the enemies and the combat (shut up, I count them as one). In Origins, every basic enemy took two hits. The first hit made them expand into a bubble and the second one finished them off. They would eventually die with just the one hit, but you wanted both hits to get all the Lums (the Mario coin equivalent). In Legends, the enemies get taken out in one hit and they give you a bunch of Lums. I much prefer this method of dealing with enemies. Before, if you were running at a good clip through a level but wanted to collect all of the Lums to get the highest rating at the end you would have to stop and jump on every twice and it could really kill your momentum. Now you can keep going at the pace you want (assuming you have the skill) and deal with enemies without losing your momentum.

The second element is the collectibles and the rating system around them. Each level has six trophies you can collect; three for collecting Lums and three for collecting Teensies. But with the Teensies it is really weird. In most levels there are 10 Teensies to collect. Eight of them are your run of the mill Teensies, but two of them are King and Queen Teensies. If you grab the King or Queen, you get the bronze. If you get the King and Queen, you get the silver. If you get the King, Queen, and all eight other Teensies, you get the gold. But if you get all eight Teensies and the King or Queen, you get bronze. I don't know what happens if you only collect the eight regular Teensies, but I'm guessing you would either get bronze or nothing. I know Kings and Queens are important, but why rate it like this? Why not make collecting the eight worth a trophy, the King worth a trophy, and the Queen worth a trophy? This isn't a complaint, I just find it a bit weird.

As for the Lums' trophies, they work the same as they did in Origins. Just collect the right number and win the trophies. But now there's a trophy type thing in between silver and gold, and that's the Lucky Ticket. If you pass the halfway mark between the silver medal amount of Lums and the gold medal amount of Lums, you get a scratch card. This gets you more Lums to unlock character skins (which is what Lums are used for now), creatures for your gallery (which are an entirely different set of collectibles), Teensies, or "Back to Origins" levels (levels based on Origins levels with the new art style and gameplay).

Speaking of art style, the final element changed was the atmosphere of the game in regards to the art style and music. The music still has the same catchy and light-hearted sound to it, but some of the pieces go for a bit more grandiose feel to them, especially in boss fights. It keeps enough the same for it to recognizable in style and changes enough with the new pieces to not feel like it's the just the same music again.

The art style this time around went for a more painted look to it as opposed to Origins' more hand-drawn style. All the characters look like they have more detail to them and almost look polygonal. It's a nice progression of the art style that I really like. The only things I didn't like very much were the characters and enemies that actually were polygonal. These models were mostly bosses and with what they had the bosses doing I can definitely see why they chose to make these guys polygonal, but I didn't think they looked as good as the rest of the game. They looked too disconnected from the rest of the world and the look of the world didn't translate particularly well to 3D. Fortunately for me they didn't show up that often, but when they did they weren't as gorgeous as the rest of the game.

On top of all of the stuff that was changed, new things were added. And by things I mean level types. The first one introduced are the levels with Murfy, a character from an older Rayman game. He was brought back when the game was a Wii U exclusive and was supposed to controlled with the touchscreen on the gamepad. On 360 you just push a button and he moves a platform or cuts a rope or something. Murphy doesn't really add much to the levels he's in. He's just something else you have to think about while platforming.

The second new level type takes out all the enemies and just has you run. There's no hunting for hidden doorways or collectibles, everything is in your path. You just have to avoid obstacles and time your jumps and punches right and you can get everything in the level. But if you die, you'll have to go right back to the beginning of the level. This type of level is where the challenge really starts to ramp up. Playing these levels were the second most infuriating and enjoyable moments in the entire game for me.

After that we have Invasion levels. These levels replace the time trial medal from Origins. At a certain point in the game, stages you've beaten will randomly invaded, creating a sub-level. You have 60 seconds to run through the level and save three Teensies, who are set to explode on fireworks if you don't beat the level in a certain amount of time. 60 seconds is your lowest bronze medal score. Any lower than that is DNQ.

Finally there are the end levels in each world. Here, the rhythmic platforming that this series is built on just goes fucking nuts and you are platforming to a song. These are my absolute favorite levels in the entire game. The music helps make the platforming feel incredibly fluid and rhythmic, and when you're pulling these jumps and such off it almost feels like you're playing Guitar Hero and that your actions are making the song. They are so fun and so awesome, these levels would've sold me on the game alone.

I was originally going to mark this game down for the polygonal models and weird punches, but having spent some time thinking about it those two blemishes barely even register for me anymore. Rayman Legends is an outstanding game. The platforming feels amazing, the music has the same great sound but still amps things up, the art still looks fantastic, and the new levels are fun and add something kind of new to the formula. Legends is a great follow-up to Origins, and one of the best platformers in this generation. Get this goddamn game.

Published in Xbox 360
Page 1 of 2