Tag Archives: video game review

‘Dead Space 2′ Improves on Series Foundation

By Michael Torelli

Dead Space 2 is the second installment in the horror/survival series focusing on engineer Isaac Clarke on his mission to learn more about the mysterious Marker. Taking place in the Sprawl, a massive space city, Clarke has to battle the monsters called necromorphs, surviving both reality and the hallucinations that now haunt him.

After Isaac made his escape from the USG Ishimura, a mining vessel in space, he thought his run in with the Unitologist Marker, a device created by man with negative effects, was over when he crashed the Ishimura into a neighboring planet.

Developed by EA, Dead Space 2 is a vamped up version of its predecessor. Waking up in an insanity ward, Clarke had tests run on him for the past three years after the Ishimura was abandoned and Clarke was found in space. Players will instantly realize that Clarke is stronger, faster and knows more about the situation at hand. He takes control of issues, whereas in the original he was the messenger boy for the other characters of the game. Clarke now has a voice, showing the player what he’s thinking and giving some actual human emotion to Dead Space 2. Clarke is also unsure of what is real and what is a hallucination due to the close contact with the Marker and is haunted by his past, which gives the players a new dilemma to face.

The graphics themselves have become smoother than the original, but still contains the eerie feeling that the player cannot really see farther ahead. Items are easier to see on the screen and players will be able to comprehend a lot of the tools on the screen. Players will be able to pick up brooms, poles and anything else at their disposal to throw at the necromorphs. Clarke has an upgraded kinesis module, allowing him to do more damage with the environment.

The soundtrack to Dead Space 2 is what makes or breaks the deal in regards to the scare factor. Just like the original, players will have music increasing in noise as the player nears a door, readies to turn a corner, and players will not be sure if a necromorph will appear or not. The music does not always imply that an enemy will appear, but it’s certain to keep players on the edge of their seats.

New necromorphs have also shown up in the game. One is called the pack, which are mutated children that, hence the name, hunt in a pack. One of the pack will confront Clarke, while the others sneak up from behind to attack him where the player cannot see. They are quick but take only a couple of shots to kill per child, which can quickly drain the player’s ammo if they aren’t careful.

New weapons have also made an appearance. One is called the javelin, which is a heavy duty gun that projects javelins that can impale necromorphs to the wall. The secondary fire that the javelin has electrocutes the impaled necromorph with the last javelin shot.

The game consists of fifteen chapters, each having a difficulty increase. Players are still able to upgrade their weapons, armor and stasis module. Stasis allows the player to freeze oncoming necromorphs, giving Clarke the upper hand. Stasis also recharges over time in Dead Space 2, a nice improvement from the first game.

There is also a multiplayer, which pits players against necromorphs. Players can either be humans or necromorphs, which keeps the fighting interesting. As players get better, they will level up and be able to receive new upgrades to their disposal.

This game doesn’t have too much wrong with it, but there are a few things that could be fixed. One is when Clarke is in zero gravity. The new “zero-g” concept is that players have complete control over Isaac while he is floating in space. However, Clarke is very quick to flip upside down and disorient the player at some points. Players can easily fix this by pressing a button on their controller, but it’s a nuisance when fighting necromorphs.

Another thing that was noticed was trouble understanding some of the players, namely Clarke’s dead ex-girlfriend, Nicole. She makes reappearances in the game, and when she does, it’s hard to understand her at some points without subtitles helping out. If her voice was a little clearer, this game would be near flawless.

If someone is interested in horror games, then they should pick up Dead Space 2 on either their Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. It’s very driven on story, so it’s recommended to play the original Dead Space first.

Real-time Physics Engine Makes ‘NHL 11′ A Revamped Experience

By Michael Walsh

It’s another year and another round of applause for developer EA Canada as their award-winning NHL series hits 2011.

Sports games have often fallen prey to the perceived image of each installment simply being a roster update and a shallow feature or two on top. EA Sports’ NHL series has long defied this rightfully deserved label.

NHL 11 won’t fool gamers with it’s looks, as graphics, presentation and style have stayed relatively similar to NHL 10‘s. But like previous years, the true changes will only be identifiable to the fan base of hardcore gamers the series has picked up ever since it became a full-on simulation experience a few years ago.

Where NHL 11 excels is in it’s gameplay, thanks to a complete overhaul of the physics engine. This year the team at EA Canada has developed a completely new and realistic “real-time physics engine” that truly changes the way the game is played. Every year the game pushes the sports simulation bar one step higher with something new, and this year it’s the upgraded physics engine. Never has a body check felt so authentic, unique and fun as it does in NHL 11. Many wow moments develop from hits that send players crushing into the boards or flipping head-over-heels over a defenseman. EA Sports has expertly captured what the intense pace of hockey means to fans.

The new real-time physics engine doesn’t stop at checking. Player to puck detection is improved, making for more authentic bounces than you might hope for. The control that one has over their player is at its highest in NHL 11; the game feels more authentic than ever, with disallowed goals from high sticks and kicked in pucks. Players can have their sticks broken in a number of ways, and if the puck happens to go in the direction of the snapped equipment, it will take a diverted course.

EA didn’t stop at just creating a new game on the ice. Stepping up their mission the team put together the new Hockey Ultimate Team, an on and offline mode where the owner builds a fantasy team from packs of cards purchased after earning reward points. The game starts you off a lot of young, bottom of the barrel players from the game’s newly featured Canadian Hockey League teams, with a few mid-level pros thrown in to the mix. As you progress in tournaments both online and offline, owners earn more points allowing them to buy more packs of cards, which in turn will give them the chance to get the rare superstars of the league. It’s a league full of possibilities with the number of professional hockey players from all over the world available to throw into your lineup. Owners control contracts and salary caps, as well as the training their players receive.

Returning for another year is the acclaimed EA Sports Hockey League. EASHL, where you control one position player on a team of up to six human players, is revamped in some ways, with new practice modes allowing teams to fine-tune their skills and customizable jerseys so no two teams have to look alike. This mode is by far the most fun in the game, as it’s still the most true to real hockey, where you control just yourself. It’s also the most rewarding, as the mode takes on a sort of RPG-type outlook and is the closest thing you’ll get to haven clans in a sports game.

Destroying the notion that sports games are for casual gamers only and that they aren’t worth purchasing every year, NHL 11 is the type of game you won’t put down. It’s rough on beginners, but a little practice will reward in an outstanding and authentic experience. The team at EA Canada keeps going above and beyond the call, topping their previous product on a yearly basis.

Not Without Flaws, ‘Metroid Other M’ Is A Worthy Entry Into Series

By Michael Torelli

Metroid: Other M, released on August 31, 2010 and exclusively on the Nintendo Wii, is the second Metroid installment to come to the Wii (with the first being Metroid Prime: Corruption). Other M takes place right after Planet Zebes was destroyed in Super Metroid (SNES).

Samus Aran, space bounty hunter, made a narrow escape off the Planet Zebes after her newly-found baby metroid died saving her life from her final enemy, Mother Brain. The thought of the metroid still haunts Samus as she goes back to the Galactic Federation for her next mission.

Developed by Team Ninja, Other M takes a whole new style of the Metroid series. Whereas the Prime series was a first-person shooter and other games like Metroid Fusion and Super Metroid were two-dimensional side-scrollers, Other M has a three-dimensional twist, but a very linear path. The straight forward game play that Other M carries can be a flaw of the game, but a very unnoticeable one. Samus is finally vocal in the game, with full voice acting. She talks just the right amount to not overdo the new vocal cords and to not make her voice random either.

The story of the game dives deep into Samus’ past from when she was a Galactic Federation soldier. Young and naïve, Samus went against everything her superiors told her to do. Now in the same boat, she must follow orders and work together with the same crew she once considered a team.

Holding the Wiimote horizontally, players control Samus with ease. All the buttons are easily accessible, allowing the player to get a full experience of being on the ship Samus explores. Most of her mandatory skills make reappearances for Other M, such as the missiles, super missiles and morph ball, along with some of the other obligatory skills like the grapple beam. Her cannon receives a couple of new improvements as well, but that’s for the player to find out. Melee attacks and slow motion finishers are samples of what Team Ninja put into Other M, but it all comes down to hitting the action button over and over.

The game doesn’t come without a few flaws. In some scenes of the game, players are forced into a first-person view until they locate a hidden piece of information on the screen, which can take a good chunk of time away from enjoying the game. Some scenes are also forced into over-the-shoulder view while Samus walks slowly through rooms. This view is not needed in the game as it just delays time, but it can easily be overlooked. Samus has remarkable lock-on skills, which allows the player to easily run through rooms while repetitively pressing the one button, decimating everything in his or her path. Also, all the moves can easily be dodged by charging Samus’ cannon and tapping any direction on the d-pad, which will render Samus invincible until her action is over. These minor flaws in the game stood out and may have an effect on how some people enjoy the game.

Other than the few flaws, Other M should be picked up if not only for nostalgia purposes, but for the fact that it’s another excellent Metroid game. The graphics are up to date and will leave the player feeling satisfied knowing how much they learned about Samus as a person.

‘Final Fantasy XIII’ Beautiful But Flawed

By Matt Kiernan

The latest installment in the Final Fantasy video game series provides gamers with an all new gameplay system, amazing graphics and an intriguing storyline that aims to make players feel connected to the characters they’re in control of.

The game’s setting takes place in the paradisaical city of Cocoon, years after the city was in a war with the underground race of Pulse. Now, the people of Cocoon live in fear of the Pulse, being told not to come in contact with them or else face the consequence of exile. The main characters are part of a rebel group, fighting against the government that forces its people into exile after coming in contact with the Pulse.

The game has a much wider storyline than is common with all of the other Final Fantasy games, revealing character motives and pasts along the way. Humor is used here and there in the game, but for the most part the game takes a serious tone by making characters emotionally vulnerable.

Beautiful graphics, the Final Fantasy series’ bread and butter, once again holds up to past games by using highly descriptive scenery shots, fast-paced action and ability to convey the facial emotions of characters. This is perhaps the game’s strongest suit.

While the cinematic scenes in the game are great, the beginning may seem a little slow to take off, mostly because of the too-easy-to-handle battle system.

In the previous Final Fantasy games, players were always able to control all of the characters in their party, allowing them to chose which spells and actions they would take in battle. Final Fantasy XIII scraps all of the conventional gameplay by having players only take control of one character, and designate the jobs of other characters during battles.

This isn’t to say battles are easy throughout the game. After the first few areas, the difficulty begins to pick up and players are forced to be more tactical in their battles, providing a challenge that’s different from all previous games.

There is no designated main character in the game, a first in the series, making all of the characters in the player’s party equally important to the storyline. All of the characters are given their fair share of story time, with the producers making sure not to give one character more of the spotlight than another.

Personally being a little less than a third through the game, it’s safe to say that there are no towns or regular sets of armor to purchase throughout the game, instead you can only buy weapons and accessories or find them on adventures. This is a major drawback to the game, considering it leaves out possible side quests, explorations and breaks between new areas.

Adventures are for the most part straightforward paths, with only minor side roads to take to find items. Players walk a straight line between destinations and are forced to fight the monsters they see along the way.

In opposition to all other Final Fantasy games, the leveling system is gotten rid of for a system that enforces points that are determined by the difficulty and how fast a player wins a battle. These points are used to learn new abilities that fall under spells and melee fighting, which allows a player to determine which areas they would want the character to improve upon.

While battles and gameplay may seem repetitive at times, Final Fantasy XIII is like a movie that unfolds its depth with each succeeding scene, making it a game that is challenging and rewarding for every battle that is won.

MLB 10: The Show‎ Review

By Kenny Barto

With the 2010 baseball season on the horizon, Sony Computer Entertainment has released a masterpiece with MLB 10: The Show‎. This game is, in fact the most realistic baseball video game ever made.

The game’s core mechanics are based around being challenging but fun. Pitching is difficult, and I’m sure Sony made it this way for a reason. It’s not like past versions of the 2K Sports baseball franchise where you could retire the side on three pitches, and have a pitch count of 60 after throwing a complete game shutout. Despite being challenging, it’s also very fun, and is what makes this game addicting. Batters will foul away pitches, and it’s extremely hard to throw consecutive pitches in the same exact place. This causes realistic pitch counts, and will also make you pay more attention so you don’t make a mistake. Pitches also have realistic flight paths. You have to start the pitch and anticipate where the pitch will end up. You will also notice that umpires will squeeze you on occasions, and will also call strikes on pitches just outside of the zone, which adds more realism into the game.

Just like pitching, batting is also challenging while still being fun. The pitching intelligence is smart and will definitely challenge you with everything in that pitcher’s arsenal. One thing that has stayed constant in this franchise since the beginning is the “Guess the Pitch” feature. You can guess where the pitch is going to go and you can also get the location. Even if you get one out of the two correct, the game will let you know so you know at least half of what is coming your way.

Another improvement in the gameplay is the feature where you place your bat within the zone. This is yet another feature that makes this game so realistic. Using your left stick, you aim where you think the pitch is going. If you get this wrong, you will either end up hitting the ball off of the inside part of the bat, causing a slow dribbler, or one off of the end of the bat, causing a pop-up. You also have your choice of a regular, contact or power swing. They are both self-explanatory, but one common misconception is that you can’t hit home runs with a contact swing. In my time playing this game, I hit at least three home runs using the contact swing simply because I knew where the ball was going and placed my bat perfectly.

There really isn’t much you can say about graphics, because they are simply amazing. Using a 37-inch 1080p HDTV, I was simply blown away at how realistic they made this game look. Everything is extremely smooth, and I could not pick out anything about the graphics that I did not like. Even small moments stand out, like when a ground ball is hit foul near the crowd, you will see them leaning over the wall to try to grab the ball, just like in real life.

The “Road to the Show”  feature is what makes this game so unique. You create a player and take him through the minor league ranks and into the majors. I find that being a pitcher is much more entertaining, but you can create yourself as a position player as well. When you do well in a game, you earn training points, and you use those points to make yourself better by choosing what training you want to do. You can simply spend the points by bettering your attributes or by participating in actual events like simulated games to better your player’s ratings.

I strongly recommend any baseball fan who owns a Playstation 3 to buy this game. From the smooth gameplay to the incredible graphics, everything was done correctly with little to no blemishes. Even though MLB 10: The Show‎ might not break any sales records (mostly because it’s exclusive to the PS3) it is definitely in the early running for the top sports game of the year. Sony did not disappoint with this game.

Game review: ‘MAG’ is Refreshing New Release for PS3

By Kenny Barto

MAG, otherwise known as Massive Action Game, is the latest and greatest video game released exclusively for the Playstation 3. It has broken all boundaries in terms of online gameplay, being the first to feature a 256-player battlefield.

With this game, first impressions are everything, and I must say I wasn’t too happy that I had to sit there and run through a required training. However, once that is done, you can jump right into 64 player battlefields that will get you ready for the real thing. Once you get into the battlefields, you notice one important thing, and that is absolutely zero lag, and completely smooth gameplay.

Now, if you’re a Call of Duty fan, this game will take some getting used to. Switching weapons is different, you don’t have to “cook” your frag grenades, and you definitely can’t run around and just kill people. This game requires large amounts of strategy, and it’s definitely recommended that you have a microphone to work with your teammates. In all cases, you have an objective that varies depending on the gameplay.

The game is set in 2025, when defense expenses have become so high, countries have cut their military to the bare minimum, and each country in the world is required to stay within their own borders, forcing everyone to be at peace. However, three private military companies Valor, Raven, and S.V.E.R. are fighting for defense contracts so they can help countries still fight their wars without breaking international rules.

The weapons used depends on which of the three companies you choose. According to GamersGuideToLife.com, S.V.E.R. has the most variety at 17 total, then Raven at 10 and Valor at 6. When you are first positioned against players in MAG, you will definitely notice that the game is utilizing somewhat realistic kill-zones. Basically, if you shoot someone in the leg, they will not die, but if you shoot someone in the chest or head, they will go down much easier. Recoil is extremely realistic, and takes some practice to control it. One downside that I noticed was the lack of camoflauge while sniping. Even if you don’t move, and are not shooting, people will still find you somehow and pick you off.

The large-scale battlefields that hold 128 or 256 players are absolutely insane. Personally, I don’t recommend trying them until you’ve gotten practice on the 64-player scale, or you will not have fun.

All in all, this game is fun to play, but is not the perfect game by any means. It needs some work, which will hopefully be solved now that the game has been released for a few weeks. That being said, I encourage anyone who likes first person shooters, or massive multiplayer games to give MAG a try. I would give this game an overall score of 8.2/10.

More Zombies, New Friends for a Better Apocalypse

By Melissa Traynor

If you enjoy a good zombie apocalypse movie every now and then (and who doesn’t?), you’ve probably wondered how long you would survive among hordes of the undead.

Given the circumstances of survival missions, and convenient amounts of both weapons and ammunition, Left 4 Dead 2 allows players to shoot, bludgeon, hack, bomb and batter their way through a pretty interesting trip.

Much like the first game, L4D2 uses the same post-apocalyptic storyline with four survivors, hordes of common zombies, “boss” zombies with abnormal abilities, safe houses check-ins and rendezvous points. This time, maker Valve waves goodbye to the previous characters Bill, Lewis, Zoey and Francis and introduce us to Coach, literally a high school football coach, Nick the gambler, Ellis, a townie mechanic and Rochelle, a low-level TV news producer.

The game’s makers have also relocated the original setting to Savannah, Ga. and provided for five campaigns in the South; the levels are interconnected, with each one beginning where the last ended. Ultimately, the characters have to fight their way west to reach New Orleans where military evacuation is their last chance to escape the infected.

But on to the good stuff. Within minutes of gameplay, it’s obvious that the sequel is far superior to the first. It seems the makers took the approach, “crazier zombies, crazier weapons.”

L4D2 not only employs abilities of the original special or “boss” zombies – the ensnaring and strangling tongue of the Smoker; zombie-attracting bile of the Boomer; pounce action of the Hunter; the Tank’s rabid strength and size; Witch’s shrieks and claws – the game has three new foul creatures to threaten the survivors. The best of these are the Charger, an infected creature with an oversized arm that can run out of nowhere and beat a survivor into the ground repeatedly, and the Jockey, which latches onto a survivor’s back and steers them into other common infected.

More important, however, is the game’s arsenal of unusual and deadly weapons. L4D2 makes very good use of new melee objects. Take, for example, the frying pan. It makes a “fwing” noise when it collides with the skulls of approaching infected. You can easily knock away two or three infected at a time. Other notable melee weapons for you to check out on your own include chainsaw, electric guitar, axe, sword, cricket paddle (a la Shawn of the Dead), baseball bat and crowbar.

Power weapons are another staple of the game, but L4D2 brings in a few new concepts, such as “fire bullets” – yes, bullets that ignite fires that engulf their targets – and rocket launchers.

The element of the game that really sets it apart from the first is the difficulty of play. That doesn’t just mean adjusting from “easy” to “expert” level and running through a campaign with only pistols, but the obstacles are much more extreme. In the “Hard Rain” campaign, the survivors must move through two safe houses and the notorious cornfields to retrieve gasoline for the getaway boat, but in the meantime must fend off the common infected, as well as an unusually high amount of roaming Witches. They must also battle through extreme downpour, slowly wade through murky water and creep around something that looks like an abandoned refinery maze.

Valve also included features that make for slightly frustrating, but more enjoyable gameplay once players learn to take advantage of them as training grounds. I remember playing through campaigns from the first game specifically to reach the finale where endless waves of the “boss” and common infected rush the survivors and the Tank appears three or four times to destroy our chances of escape. The new game has a level that is strictly dedicated to these ultimate “survival scenes” – though without an escape. The level is purely set up just to measure how long it takes for the survivors to perish among the hordes.

The new features make for a significant improvement on and already stellar game, especially with the complete “movie” feel (did I mention that the game is directed by an AI to alter paths, infected populations and create tension with music?).

Replay-ability for Left 4 Dead was high originally, but with more options than players know what to do with, the sequel is destined to provide infinite ways to slaughter masses of zombies. Perfect to put thumb-twiddling to use over winter break.

First There Was Rock, Then There Was ‘DJ Hero’

By Michael Walsh

Just when you thought your home was safe from more plastic musical instruments for at least a little while, here comes Activision’s DJ Hero, a new spin on the rhythm game genre.

Destined to make you a king of the turntable, something Grandmaster Flash first used as a musical instrument (Flash reminds you constantly throughout the game in case you forget), DJ Hero combines the now old concept of hitting notes rolling down a floating path with an infectious new way of pretending to be a musical genius.

In its most basic moments, DJ Hero is a rather simple game. There’s really only three colored buttons, a crossfader and the actual spinning of the turntable to stay focused on as notes fly past you. But turn up that difficulty from medium to hard or expert and the learning curve grows to the height of a giant.

But just like when Guitar Hero introduced plastic guitars and Rock Band introduced plastic drums, DJ Hero has a learning curve based on precise timing and focus, as well the ability to do a few things at once. While less people might consider them familiar with a turntable than a guitar or a set of drums, DJ Hero is something that at its most basic moments can be learned with a little practice.

The most brilliant thing DJ Hero has done for me is given me the ability to enjoy music I normally would never want to hear. The game includes 94 mixes, most of which are entertaining mashups of two unlikely songs. A bit misleading is the fact that there aren’t 94 songs in the game, as a few tracks are used multiple times in different mixes. Would I ever want to hear Rihanna mixed with The Killers? No. But I did have lots of fun pretending to mix them.

But even if your musical tastes stretch about as far away from the style of music normally spun by a DJ at a house party (and trust me, my taste does, you don’t see many turntable pros spinning Phish, Primus or King Crimson), you’ll be able to find something you enjoy here, if not because of the artist themselves, but because of the absurdity of the mix itself. Beastie Boys and Queen? I can get behind that. Marvin Gaye and Davie Bowie? Well, okay. Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer? Now that’s funny.

I think the learning point from all this is that you know a game is good when it has the ability to make you not want to regurgitate at the thought of having to play a mix involving multiple artists you wish didn’t exist. And DJ Hero’s infectious, absorbing and challenging gameplay does just that. Much like its plastic instrument predecessors, it doesn’t matter what the song is as long as the song itself is a blast to play.

The game’s play modes are rather simple as you play through setlists that have been pre-created in what is usually a thematic way. You’ve got different DJs and artists presenting their own work, such as the Daft Punk Record Bag and the Jay-Z Mixtape setlists. And then you also have setlists such as Thrashed and Mashed, where the game allows a partner to play along on guitar (not included) as the mixes there include at least one rock based track, such as a mix between Third Eye Blind and The Jackson 5. Also included are the standard cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes available in both online and local form.

My gripes, which are far and few between, mostly touch on the difficulty and absolute precision of the gameplay. I found the gap between medium and hard to be awkwardly large. One might find themselves five-starring every song on medium before struggling to even get three on certain songs on hard. Now, this isn’t to say that the game is too hard, but when you have five levels of difficulty available, a little tweaking might suffice to give players the best possible challenge to suit their needs.

Unlike Guitar Hero, you can’t fail songs in DJ Hero. Because of this, the precision needed to amp up your score and keep streaks alive isn’t that big of a deal, just slightly annoying. I felt the quality of the crossfader switch, which you hit when needed to change tracks, doesn’t match the precise level they ask you to do it at. It’s easy to lose your place with it. But while I’m still early in the learning to become a DJ process, it’s probably something that becomes second nature at some point. Again, these are small gripes, none of which that get in the way of the enjoyment to be had here.

At announcement of DJ Hero there was skepticism of the industry trying to milk the idea a little too much. But I found that once you get your hands on it all and give it a run, you find yourself really enjoying the ingenuity put into the entire concept. While the package might seem a bit on the pricey side, it’s most certainly worth it for those that enjoy the entire scene.

The addictive gameplay that comes out of DJ Hero is enough to call it a success. I wouldn’t call it a perfect experience, but it certainly is an example of a neat concept turned into something substantially fresh and fun. The newest plastic instrument on the streets is enough to make you put aside the typical guitar, bass, drum or microphone for at least a little while. I’m just wondering when Flute Hero featuring Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is going to be released.

‘Modern Warfare 2′ A Robust, Immersive Experience

By Michael Walsh

The mammoth release that Modern Warfare 2 truly is deserves more than just words to help describe how staggering Infinity Ward’s efforts are.

In what is one of the biggest video game releases of the year, Infinity Ward follows up their hugely successful 2007 game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with a sequel that not only continues to uphold the same strong core gameplay value but expand on it at the same time.

Beginning with the single player campaign, the game drops you right into the action picking up right where the previous game left off. Characters return to the action and storytelling remains the same. The player jumps from location to location, switching bodies and regiments constantly, in a crisscross pattern allowing the game to tell its story in cut-up fashion.

And while that somewhat convoluted story might not be the richest of storytelling or the highest of quality, it sure is a great deal of fun playing through it. In the most sincere meaning, the campaign of Modern Warfare 2 is like a Michael Bay film that takes itself seriously. The action picks up and never lets go, successfully engaging the player in just about every possible interactive element, whether it be climbing up the side of an icy mountain or running for your life without any weapons to help fend off enemies.

The sights and sounds of the game’s campaign leave nothing to be desired. That first view of Washington, D.C. being invaded by Russian troops is one of the more wowing and memorable moments in gaming this year. Time after time the campaign relays these types of outstanding cinematic-like moments leaving a lasting impression.

Enemy AI, a problem for the more mediocre of first-person shooters, is a strong point for Modern Warfare 2. Never too stupid, the enemies will at times give you fits with their godly ability to snipe you down with their on the spot aiming. Hardened and veteran, the more difficult levels of play, might have you wanting to throw your controller at certain points, but finally beating them after sessions of trial and error is absolutely satisfying.

If there is one downfall to the campaign aspect of the game, it’s the rather brief time you’ll spend playing it. Taking my time and playing through on the regular difficulty only took me about five and a half hours. While every one of those minutes is packed to the brink, the rather abrupt ending leaves a near sour taste in your mouth, wishing there was more.

But luckily, there is more, just not in the form of a campaign. A new worthy addition to the game is the single player and cooperative modes of Special Ops, a series of challenges that range from wave attacks on a sub base to runs of stealth through wintry forest. These can be a great deal of fun when played with a friend both online and split-screen, as well as on your own.

And you probably aren’t buying this game if you don’t plan on playing the addictive multiplayer that made the first Modern Warfare as long lasting and successful as it was. Infinity Ward keeps a lot the same, but also tweaks enough to give players a new experience that feels very familiar.

With new perks, weapons and game types, Modern Warfare 2 really promises to give an equally long lasting multiplayer offering. It’s something that anyone can casually play and get a few kills at, but deep enough for the more hardcore players to love and master.

One of the more important tweaks to the online play is the addition of the death streak perk, something you get after suffering a series of deaths. This helps equal the play, giving struggling players something to help, but more importantly, Infinity Ward included the martyrdom perk as a part of this. So yes, there won’t be nearly as many dropped grenades unfortunately killing you after you melee an opponent.

And one of the more interesting features is the new third person online modes offered. In a Ghost Recon-like way, the game switches to a third person view. It works, but it’s somewhat awkward at the same time. For example, it’s hard to get a good judgment on where exactly you’re throwing a grenade in this mode. At the same time, it’s oddly refreshing and enjoyable, but you’ll probably find yourself switching back to the beloved and standard first-person mode.

Modern Warfare 2 is certainly one of the most satisfying and enjoyable releases this year and a game that proves that video games shouldn’t be ignored. It’s destined to top the charts of Xbox Live and the Playstation Network for months as the online multiplayer is addictive, fast-paced action. Complete with an immersive albeit brief single player campaign and the addition of the new Special Ops mode, Modern Warfare 2 is a no-brainer for first-person shooter fans that plan to give the game the online run it deserves.

Repackaging ‘Resident Evil’ for A Fifth Game

Charles Desrochers / Asst. Lifestyles Editor
There’s been a recent complaint over “Resident Evil 5”, developed by Capcom for the Xbox 360, and how almost all the zombies are dark skinned and how the protagonist shooting them has the appearance of a Backstreet Boy on steroids.

An all American boy who could easily pass as the quarterback for USC shooting brown natives in the name of justice. 

Well, that’s not how it is. As  the character Chris Redfield, you shoot people of all ethnic backgrounds indiscriminately. It just so happens that most of the zombies are African because the game is set in Africa and the developers apparently went to a minstrel show to find out about its culture. This is the “Resident Evil” series we’re talking about and it’s never been known for its political correctness. 

As far as it’s the apparent racism is concerned, I can’t imagine there being malicious intent on the cartoonish portrayal of any people in this game.  As ridiculous as it may be, it still doesn’t hold a candle to the Grand Theft Auto series. Does that make it right? No, it doesn’t. Sadly it’s just how video games are.

It’s hard to believe that “Resident Evil 4” is already three-years-old.  When it came out on the Nintendo Gamecube it revitalized the franchise with two simple things; a movable over the shoulder camera and more action oriented game-play. 

 Capcom’s new addition to the series, Resident Evil 5, is much in this vein.  It’s the first of the series to be on any of the next generation consoles, not counting the Wii’s re-release of RE4.

 It’s also the first of the series to have online or co-operative features. I can’t afford Xbox Live and I’m the only person in my circle of friends who still plays videogames so this review won’t be on either of those. 

But just because you don’t have any friends doesn’t mean you won’t have the pleasure of having to tug along a big breasted, gun toting and more or less useless sidekick for the entire game. While your character will be fighting the hordes of zombies and other stereotypes from Abbot and Costello presents Africa Screams, your partner will be fighting the never-ending battle of “How do I get around the table?”

When she dies in the game you also have to start over from your last checkpoint. At this point that the player starts to wish the game be more realistic by letting your character just get on with his life. Besides this major annoyance, the game plays quite nicely.  

Despite missing a reload button for the weapons, whic would come in handy when a man with a sack on his head brazening a chainsaw is running at you, most of the controls make sense and aren’t very counterintuitive. Another big complaint is that when enemies are shot in the head their reactions seem as if you were flicking staples into their eye, but then again this is a game where green herbs heal bullet wounds so I suppose we take the good with the bad on this one. 

The game is as aesthetically pleasing as every other first person shooter these days because it’s all stunningly brown and grey. Apparently most game developers never get out of their basement to realize that the world doesn’t look like it has been sprinkled with cinnamon whilst in constant overcast. 

“Resident Evil 5” is not a bad game, really it isn’t. For the most part it plays exactly like “Resident Evil 4”. And there’s nothing wrong with being a repackaging of the fourth “Resident Evil”. If there is a game in the zombie genre that is worth copying, that is it. But “RE4” was such a success because it was so different from the first three. 

Really, what makes this new game poor is the possibility of the franchise reverting. “Resident Evil 5” retains what made “Resident Evil 4” good, like the movable camera, but it recalls things that made the previous three games lousy. The item inventory is small and forces the player to unnecessarily prioritize and instead of going for an ironic or campy sense of horror it has fallen into its old habit of trying to scare players. 

If you have ever been scared by a video game please take the time now to go to a mirror and start yelling emasculating things at yourself.