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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

Titanfall Review (Xbox One)

 Leave it to Beaver was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Everyday I’d sit and stare at black and white reruns of a show that had been off the air for decades yet still managed to spark a laugh and speak the truth. My favorite character wasn’t it’s namesake, Beaver Cleaver, and it wasn't his stoic older brother, Wally. My favorite was Eddie Haskell, Wally’s near delinquent friend. Eddie Haskell was the catalyst for a lot of the problems that the Cleaver boys would get into. Cheat on a test? It was Eddie’s idea. Cut school and go fishing? Eddie was behind it.My favorite was Eddie Haskell, Wally’s near delinquent friend Go to a party instead of the library to study? All Eddie. It wasn’t his bad deeds that drew me to the miscreant Eddie Haskell. I was fascinated by the fact that he never got into trouble. Whenever the boys would do something wrong, they would, of course, inevitably get caught. Back then, parents were always right and were never outsmarted by kids. But still, Eddie would slide away unscathed and slither back into the house the next week, none the worse for wear.

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The mom on the show, June Cleaver, must have known this kid was doing his best to put her sons on a short path to jail or a long life filled with bad choices. The patriarch, Ward Cleaver, had to have known that every word from Eddie Haskell’s mouth was at best a bold face lie. But still they welcomed him into their home. Why? The answer was simple. Because Eddie Haskell was charming.

He never missed a chance to remind Mrs Cleaver how lovely she looked in her pearls. He would be polite to a fault, something that must have been sorely lacking in her day to day interactions with the male-centric world of the 50’s. He made her feel beautiful, respected, and appreciated. He would make a point to congratulate Mr. Cleaver on raising 2 fine boys. And at a time where there was no higher goal than to provide for and build a strong family, Ward Cleaver had to have enjoyed the recognition given to him. Both Ward and June Cleaver were more than willing to overlook the shortcomings of Eddie Haskell, as long as he stroked their egos and made them feel good about themselves.

Titanfall is the Eddie Haskell of next gen games.

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Titanfall is pretty straightforward, taking the well worn genre of futuristic first person shooters and adding giant robots to the mix. You can fight on the ground with assault rifles and grenades, using parkour skills and jetpacks to run up walls and perch on buildings or you can call in a Titan mech to stomp grunts, let missiles fly, and even self destruct in an atomic mushroom cloud. Titanfall is mostly a multiplayer affair with the campaign seemingly only there to tick off a box on the back of the case. The core of the title is made up of 6 vs 6 online game modes. While 12 players may seem like it would make for a sparse battle in a world where 64 player skirmishes aren’t out of the norm, don’t worry because space on the field is taken up by AI grunts who do their best to get shot instead of you.

Titanfall looks great on the Xbox One. The levels are filled with detail and the Titans inspire the appropriate amount of awe when they drop into the fray. While the levels look fantastic, they quickly reveal how lifeless and static they are.Titanfall looks great on the Xbox One. You would expect that a huge battle taking place within a few city blocks would leave some type of impression on the environment, especially with giant robots lobbing missiles at one another. But after a battle, you would be hard pressed to point out any evidence that a war was going on, much less one involving 30 foot tall robots. Trees survive megaton explosions without losing a leaf. Structures that look like they’re barely holding themselves upright manage to survive multiple rocket impacts without the paint getting chipped. For all the power you wield on the field, you have surprising little effect on it. The titans are epic and the transition from scurrying along the ground to being placed inside of one is seamless. It would be nice to have more variety in the types of mech you can pilot. Aside from the 3 main body types, your customization options consist mostly of switching out the types of guns they carry. If you had dreams of dropping into battle with a customized battlebot, then you will need to scale back your expectations.

The 6 vs 6 player limit is frustratingly low, especially when you realize that MechAssault on the original Xbox was 4 v 4, and that was one of the first Xbox Live games ever. All of the advancements over the past decade have led to just 2 more players per team.Titanfall is the best last gen game you can play on a next gen system The upside to the low number of players is that you’re almost always in the middle of the action, mainly because the levels themselves are so small. Each map is roughly the size of just a few city blocks. These are limitations that you would have expected to be a thing of the past on a next gen system as powerful as the Xbox One. Instead of plowing through an entire metropolitan area, you will be battling over a small patch of land that quickly becomes repetitive. These limitations are ones that I expected to be a thing of the past. And being so early in the life of the Xbox One, maybe it’s understandable that Titanfall feels like it would be just as much at home on the Xbox 360. The more time you spend with it, the more obvious it is that Titanfall is the best last gen game you can play on a next gen system.

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Titanfall may have it’s shortcomings, but still, it’s fun. Charming. When you’re running past the near brain dead AI, you don’t care because they yell encouraging phrases to inflate your ego as you dash by.Titanfall may have it’s shortcomings, but still, it’s fun. You won’t get frustrated after being blown up repeatedly by another player because you can always go mow down a few squads of enemy AI, replenishing any feeling of power you may have lost. Eject from your doomed Titan and look in awe at the magnificent landscape below you. The leveling system is so forgiving and generous that your rank will soar up faster than you can say ‘Prestige’. Despite everything else, the bottom line is that playing Titanfall makes you feel good. Good enough to make you overlook it’s faults. Eddie Haskell would have been proud.

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Score 8/10

766 Dead Pixel Live 6.20.13

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Dead Pixel Live goes down an alley in this episode. Derrick rants about how E3 reports have ignored the majority of the show and how news about WeTheForce, Hyperkin, USO, etc goes unreported. Hect and Tedakin join in as we discuss the Ouya and why Derrick will probably buy one

Supergirl Recap - Episode 6 Seeing Red

The episode opens with Supergirl flying over the city in a shot so nice it almost makes up for some of the extra wire-y flying scenes in the past. The tranquil moment is interrupted when Supergirl hears a couple of cars battling in a road rage duel. I would think that traffic skirmishes aren’t really the most effective way to use super powers, but it seems every episode has her being a glorified traffic cop.

Two guys are banging their cars together like extras in a Mad Max movie as they drive down the street while yelling PG approved near obscenities at each other. Supergirl flies in and stops both cars right before they careen into a bunch of school kids crossing the street.

First of all, this crossing guard needs to be fired immediately. There’s no way he didn’t see 2 cars playing destruction derby for nearly a mile heading directly for him. In fact, I’m sure he saw them because instead of being in the middle of the street holding up a stop sign as the kids crossed, he was on the opposite sidewalk, watching the ensuing carnage unfold. As a crossing guard, you had one job, to guard the crossing.

With both cars stopped, the kids are seemingly nonplussed that they were mere inches away from the end of their lives. They all cheer ‘YAY!’ But I’m sure more than a few will spend a years in therapy because they wake up screaming from a nightmare of two 4,000 pound vehicles hurtling directly at them.

Supergirl is soaking in the cheers as one of the drivers gets out of the car to yell at her for wrecking his car. This makes no sense. None. Unless this guy is a psychopath, he should be happy that he didn't just become a mass murderer over a traffic violation. Instead he throws a punch at Supergirl. What? Yep, he throws a punch at Supergirl. Who does that? It would take me 4 pages to analyze what could possibly be behind this action. Maybe he’s under the influence of some rage toxin. Supergirl catches the punch of course, but now everyone looks like they’re afraid of her? What? She just saved a bunch of kids and protected herself from a maniac assaulting her, but now -she’s- the bad guy? My head is spinning.

Cut to Gruff But Lovable watching a tv news report titled ‘Supergirl scares schoolchildren’. That's a headline so skewed, even Fox News wouldn’t run it. Supergirl comes in complaining how it’s always men getting road rage. That's a weird generalization. But there's so much wonky stuff happening in this episode I don't even have time to dive into it. Gruff but Lovable says that Supergirl needs to learn how to control her anger. What? Did I miss something, because we’re 6 eps in and I don't think I’ve seen her even raise her voice. Now she’s supposed to be an out of control rage monster? There has to be a rage toxin infecting everyone. Has to be.

Now some government worker runs up to show Supergirl another video, this one is Maxwell Lord calling her dangerous. Good time to pile it on there, Betty. You know that friend that loves to call you up when your car is broken down in the shop to remind you they ‘oh yeah, I heard your Grandma is sick, too. And I want to let you know that i clogged your toilet last night. Plus, your dog died. Have a great day pal!.’ That's Betty.

Meanwhile, James and HotExGirlfriend are at a coffee shop when Kara walks in. Hot Ex invites herself to ‘game night’ which I have no idea what it is. I guess we’ll all find out later.

Prada is her office talking to her mom who is just crapping on everything. Wow. This lady is just toxic. Her daughter is a super rich, award winning, head of a communications empire and still, she’s crapping on her job choices like Prada just got fired from mopping up at Hooters. No one is this mean...unless they were infected by a rage toxin. Mommy Dearest spends the next few minutes continuing to degrade Prada and ends up comparing Supergirl to Superman by saying ‘I still prefer a male doctor’. Is she expecting to get an xray vision mammogram from one of the Kryptonians soon? Does Obamacare cover that?

Kara’s sister shows up so they can ask Friendzone to hack into the government to get info about their dad. He says no. I’d assume because, 1) There no evidence that as a low level I.T. guy for a magazine, that he has anywhere near the skills to pull off anything like that. and 2) It’s super illegal. But Friendzone ends up saying yes. Why? Well, because he’s Friendzone, that's why. This is basically the superhero version of ‘Can you come over and fix my computer while I talk to my boyfriend on the phone?’

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Now we’re out in the desert and the gang’s all here. Supergirl, Gruff But Lovable, the Sister, General, and... Hot Ex Girlfriend? Yep, she’s also an army lawyer. Ok. Sure. Why not. This episode is already super confusing to me so I can’t bring myself to analyze this. The General is here to get Supergirl to fight their new robot as a test. And she has to do it, because the president said so! (btw, they tossed in a throwaway line that the president is a woman. I’m assuming it’s Diana Prince).

The bot she’s fighting is called ‘Red Tornado’. If you’re a comic book geek you’re doing cartwheels right now, if not, i’ll give you time to go look it up…. Cool eh?

Kara goes and tells FriendZone and Jimmy Olsen about the fight. Jimmy gets in real close and breathes on Kara as he talks. He lets her know she can say no. Is he mansplaining her civil rights to her? I think he is. Kara breathes in deep and is so dizzied by the amount of CK for Men she’s inhaling that she stumbles over her words. She wants to prove to everyone that she can be a team player for the government.

I’m skipping this scene with Mommy Dearest and Prada. I’m assuming it’s here to demonstrate the effects of the rage toxin that I’m sure will show up at some point to explain why everyone is acting so out of character.

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Game night time! Im expecting a room full of people playing some Wii U games. But nope. It’s just Kara, Jimmy, Friendzone, and Hot Ex playing charades. What? So before Hot Ex showed up, game night was just 3 people sitting around playing lame party games? You’re kidding me. That sounds extremely boring. So boring that the only people who’d show up to that is someone trying hard to sleep with you, or someone so madly in love with you that they’re happy to just be close by. Hmm, so yeah, that does explain why Jimmy and Friendzone would show up for this.

Hot Ex and Jimmy win at charades. Friendzone causes his team to lose and is heartbroken yet again.

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Superfight time! Supergirl and Red Tornado fight and to be honest, it’s not even close. Supergirl wipes the floor with the robot. Even rips off its own arm to beat it with it. The General is very upset about this, yelling at Supergirl. Even though she just did what he asked. But now he says she’s unleashed an uncontrollable killing machine on the city. What? I must’ve missed something. Because it sounds like he’s saying the government just made an uncontrollable killing machine programmed to destroy the city. And it’s Supergirl’s fault? I rewatched this part a few times and I still can’t follow the logic trail. Unless the General is under the influence of...a rage toxin! The General wants the robot destroyed but the android’s creator, Dr. T. O. Morrow (look it up) doesnt want to see all of his work going to waste. I think I know where this is going.

Kara goes back to the office. Which is odd because I could’ve sworn there was an uncontrollable killing machine out to destroy the city and maybe that should be her priority. Prada yells at her about something and this time Kara yells right back at her. My rage virus idea is making a lot of sense now, isn't it?

The General is at dinner with Jimmy and Hot Ex Girlfriend. Which is odd because I could’ve sworn there was an uncontrollable killing machine out to destroy the city and maybe that should be his priority. Jimmy orders club soda and we find out that the General doesn’t trust a man who doesn't drink. Which makes him the only father in the world who is upset that his daughter isn't dating a fall down drunk. What could be the cause of all of this animosity. Could it be that the General is super racist? Maybe. Or maybe he’s infected...by a rage inducing toxin!

Prada gives Kara a long boring talk about how women aren't allowed to get angry at work. Which is news to me because I’m getting yelled at by women I work with almost daily. Hmm, maybe I should be better at my job so they won't get so angry at me. Nah, that can’t be it.

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Red Tornado shows up and immediately knocks Hot Ex Girlfriend into a table. Obviously it analyzed everyone and determined she was the biggest threat. The Red Tornado’s biggest weapon is that is can spin it’s legs and make a tornado. (the tornado isn’t red, so it loses a couple of cool points, but still, not a bad effect). The robot sends a tornado down the street and Supergirl dissipates it by flying really fast in a circle. I shouldn't mention that Flash did this last year. I shouldn’t, but I will. Flash did this last year.

The General is still yelling at Supergirl, even though she just saved his daughter. This guy.

Kara and Jimmy meetup to talk about their feelings while working out. They both lament how because of their gender and race they aren’t encouraged to show anger. Look, I know this is a deep and complex issue with a lot of societal and cultural implications to be explored. That being said, this show is doing a very poor job of delving into it. This episode is like a suburban kid from Ohio writing a 2 page report on apartheid (double spaced, wide margins). Somehow I don't think the subject will be done justice. Also, this is basically a workout date. And it’s very cool seeing Kara use a hanging car for a punching bag.

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Kara has a breakthrough while beating on the car and starts crying when she realizes she really wants a boyfriend. Which seems to really undermine literally everything this show has been about so far. The only thing that could save this episode is...wait for it...a rage toxin that messes with your emotions.

Back at the DEO, Supergirl says she isn't afraid of her anger and will use it to work for her, and not against her. What? I thought the purpose of this entire episode was to underline that there’s nothing wrong with women showing anger. But I guess the moral of the story is that girls better learn how to keep those silly female emotions in check and learn how to channel them into something useful..like knitting, or gardening.

Red Tornado shows up and Supergirl...shoots him with a gun. WTF!? A gun? She shoots him with a gun? Supergirl. A Gun. I give up. I’m speed recapping the rest of this ep before my brain explodes (from a rage toxin!).

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The Sister tracks down Dr. T.O. Morrow and kills him. Supergirl beats up the robot and kills it. Hot ExGirlFriend quits her career to hangout with her boyfriend. And Prada kills what's left of the relationship with Mommy Dearest.

Show ends. And there was no rage toxin at all. Next week lets just pretend none of this happened, ok? Oh yeah, at the end of the episode, Supergirl cuts herself on a piece of broken glass, so there’s that.

Free Comic Book Day Gallery 2014

 The first saturday in May means one thing, Free Comic Book Day! This year Lawrence Young from the Fantastic Forum, Chip Cella from the B-Team, and Derrick Hopkins from Dead Pixel Live visited two of the best comic shops in Los Angeles to chronical the event. Geoffrey's Comics and Comic Bug were both filled with comic lovers of all ages. Geoffrey's added to the fun with a sale of 25% off of everything in the store and while Comic Bug gave you the chance to meet and greet some comic book royalty. Check out some images from the day below and feel free to share how you spent Free Comic Book Day 2014.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review (PS3)

 

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The best part about video game conventions aren’t the games on the show floor, it’s the parties afterward where a bunch of geeks can hang out and be themselves. Its not like going to the neighborhood bar where the smell of cigarettes and alcohol is outmatched by the cheap cologne of men talking to women with cheaper perfume.

An industry party is different. Mostly you’re just standing around with a drink in your hand talking to someone about how the big name actors like Patrick Stewart are showing up more and more in games. There’s not a lot of cheesy lines or male bravado because to be honest, there’s not a lot of reason for it. The women at a gamer party don’t have a lot to fear from guys who spend a good chunk of time retracing levels to find that one last health gem.

This party was no different. I had come with my friend who just happened to  fit the role of a stunningly attractive woman. She may not have officially been my date, but that didn’t stop me from feeling just a little bit good about the approving nod I got from the bouncer at the door. As the night progressed we slowly drifted to opposite sides of the room. Every so often I’d see her out of the cornier of my eye hanging out by a Mrs Pacman machine. Even though I’m deep into a discussion about whether the migration from 2D to 3D in classic remakes is a natural evolution or a just money grab, I can still pick out her laugh across the room amongst the background noise. I looked past the blogger blocking my view and see  that she’s talking to a guy we had interviewed  earlier that day on the show floor .I also notice that he had ditched the lanyard and controller based accessories he was sporting at the show and swapped them  for a shiny dress shirt and jacket topped by a gold chain that would be more at home on an MTV reality show than a bar filled with podcasters. I knew the look on his face from experience. He was on the prowl.

Retro City Rampage (PS3)

 

retro city rampage 01When I saw her, the first thing that went through my mind was that she doesn’t belong in a place like this. She’s leaning up against the bar, drink in hand and facing the crowd, oblivious to the mass of people. Her blood red dress contrasts against the dull woodgrain of the world around her.

Her curves. Every line on her body forms a flowing curve. Her shape forces your eyes to make the journey from floor to ceiling. My eyes take note of each destination. Legs. Hips. Chest. Face. It’s as if she was created from the molds of the women I’ve known in the past. The best parts of them sculpted into the work of art thats taking inventory of the room from the bar.

It’s a methodology shared by Brian Provinciano, who has taken iconic traits from legendary games and managed to form them into a fun, expansive title that can be as deep or as straightforward as the player wants. There are the obvious nods to well known classics like Duck Hunt, Contra, and Frogger. But there are just as many influences from lesser known but just as deserving games like Bionic Commando and Top Gunner. From the moment the opening title screen appears, Retro City Rampage makes it clear that its about to take you on a ride into the past.

Her legs. The thin red fabric of the the dress outlines the long supple shape of her legs. Her pose accentuates their tone, creating an angle that allows the slit in the dress to do it’s job, exposing a single, tanned thigh to the world. Exposed is the wrong word. Revealed is better. The cloth separates and is replaced by flesh. It’s an immediate and yet barely noticeable transition. It’s revealing.

retro city rampage 02Hidden in each section of Retro City Rampage are layers of reasons to replay each level. Not so that you can get extra power ups or max out your point total. Instead you want to make sure that you’ve seen every little in-joke and bit of pop culture that was crafted into the area. Provinciano has taken his time in dotting the game’s landscape with layers of memories from gaming history.

The dress. It was from a different era. A vintage relic from the past that made me question why things had to change. Sheer skirts, low cut blouses, tight jeans, they are all just pretenders to the throne that this dress reigns over. Its fabric hugs her body without being greedy. Instead of being skin tight and trying too hard, the cloth just kisses her skin, tracing the form that nature sculpted for her. The neckline dives down her chest, just barely promising a glimpse at the arc of her breasts.

Like that dress, Retro City Rampage is a piece of the past that has been forced into the modern era. It calls itself ‘retro’ and proclaims that it’s a parody, but thats not true. It’s not a mockup of what people think gaming used to be like. It actually is a game from those times. Its nonsensical story, exacting controls and multiple gameplay styles have created a game that doesn’t parody gaming history, it celebrates it.

Her face. Everything else was just a prelude. Her hair cascades over her shoulders, catching what little light that was in the room and framing her cheekbones. Her pursed lips show only a hint of a smile. It’s a sly expression that lets you know that whatever she’s about to say, it will be about you. Long lashes cast shade over her eyes, and yet their sharp, silver tone still flashes through. She’s scanning the room, like a predator bored with the hunt.

retro city rampage 03The seconds that I’ve been mesmerized by her feel like hours. It’s as if I’ve been standing in a museum, examining the brush strokes of a Matisse, with more details uncovered every moment. She wasn’t perfection. But she stood there with a smoldering confidence that dared you to notice any perceived flaw.

The faults with Retro City Rampage may be there because they’re inherent in the style of game it is. But they’re still there. No matter how detailed the pixel art is, it’s still pixel art. The reduced color palette may be authentic, but after spending a lot of time with this game (and most likely , you will be spending a lot of time with it), it drifts into being gaudy. But those are shortcomings that can be happily tolerated. Because in return you get a rare title that even though it takes pride in being wholly unoriginal, is one of the most original games released in years.

Score 9/10

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review [Xbox One]

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The naked body is one of the most beautiful objects in the world. There’s a reason why the Greeks used it as an analog for the gods in their sculpture and why art students around the world study each muscle and intonation of nude models. It’s because the simple lines and curves that shape the human body conspire together to create the perfect melding of form and function.

Here’s an exercise. Imagine the most attractive person you can. It doesnt matter if it’s a man or woman, take your pick. Imagine that person standing there, void of clothes, makeup, or tattoos. Visualize only their body, proud and confident. Beautiful isn’t it? Hell, it’s downright stunning. Now, keep imagining that person, but add the usual adornments people require. Shoes, a simple shirt or dress, etc. Maybe that person looks slightly better to you now, or maybe a little less. Now, continue adding the accessories that we’re used to seeing draped on the human form. Imagine them with a complicated, in vogue hairstyle, pile on the makeup and gold jewelry. Keep going. Picture them wearing a hat, gloves, designer sunglasses. And just like that, the beautiful work of art that was once there no longer has the simple perfection that they were born into the world with. Instead, this new creation is a gaudy substitute. Hidden somewhere under all of those unneeded additions is the true beauty. Somewhere.
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That’s the path that a lot of modern games have taken. At the core of Call of Duty’s dozens of weapons and myriad of controls may be a solid first person shooter. Deep down beneath The Crew’s needless storyline and layers of special effects could be a decent racer. But like many games today, you’ll be hard pressed to find the beauty of the game underneath all of the extraneous makeup and jewelry that are masquerading as ‘innovations’.

Geometry Wars 3 takes a different route. The simple, straightforward gameplay that dates back to one of the first twin stick shooters, Robotron 2084, is stripped of any pretense. You aren’t inundated with a story that was shoehorned in. The graphics are made up of basic geometric shapes that somehow seem at home even on a powerhouse like the Xbox One. It’s the opposite of the runway model who can barely stand under the weight of the latest in fashion.

The idea of the naked form has become transformed by society. It’s been co-opted by everything from advertising to porn. Sure, there’s a juvenile part of us that wants to laugh and point, mock and ridicule, or reduce it to a base sexual stimulant. But once you look past that, what you’ll see is beauty. Pure, simple beauty without the need to cover it up and over adorn it with needless trinkets and toys.

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The developers at Lucid recognize this. The gameplay modes of Geometry Wars 3 are basic, yet still satisfying. They range from the straightforward ‘Deadline’ where you shoot everything that moves in a set time limit, all the way to Pacifism, where the object is just to survive as long as possible without firing a shot.The adventure mode is a simple progression of level and game types, getting progressively more difficult as your ship equally gains in power via A.I.drones. These power ups are the only really unnecessary piece of bling on the title. Most of them equate to either increasing your firepower, or helping to protect your ship. But with the hectic gameplay, they could have easily been left out without much impact on the experience. Lucid has managed to hone the controls to near perfection, with movement becoming almost instinctive. Your eyes and hands work together in harmony with no middleman to slow them down. 


Some people say that it’s our insecurities that cause us to hide behind layers of makeup or strut around with expensive watches and designer clothes. The theory is that there’s some inherent flaw underneath, real or perceived, that can be covered up. Like an over compensating student at prom wearing too much cologne. Game developers have a tendency to fall into the same trap. It’s as if they know that if you were to strip away the fancy graphics and dense controls from most AAA titles, you’d be left with uninspired, tiresome gameplay thats been repeated for years. Geometry Wars 3 stands defiant and proud, unashamed of the absence of baubles and trinkets. It has grown since it was born as minigame in an Xbox racer. It’s a bit bolder, a bit wilder. The primitives based visuals have matured into a melding of shapes, color and sound that complement the gameplay instead of overpowering it. It doesn’t need nor want to be hidden under a thick blanket of excess. Geometry Wars 3 revels in it’s nakedness. And that’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Score. 9 out of 10

  • Published in Xbox One

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. 

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
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