March 2008

2K Sports has just released the official box art for their upcoming boxing title, Don King Presents: Prizefighter. Prizefighter is slated for release this June for the Xbox 360. READ MORE

EA announced today that the expansion pack to last year’s award-winning RTS title, Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars, Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath has shipped to retail.

Kane’s Wrath introduces a new campaign spanning two decades of Tiberium lore, six sub-factions, and game changing epic units to the C&C universe.

Gamers who purchase Kane’s Wrath or the Command & Conquer 3 Limited Collection will receive a key to this summer’s beta for Red Alert 3.

Read the full press release after the jump. READ MORE

Before Kratos took on the gods, he served them as a pawn hoping to be rid of his nightmares caused from his past deeds. When the god Helios is taken from the sky and the world is plunged in to night, the gods implore Kratos to track down his captor Atlas and free the sun before eternal slumber consumes gods and man alike. Set before the events in the original God of War, Chains of Olympus takes all the successful elements of the series and ports them to the PSP to create an excellent addition to this thrilling trilogy.

Right from the first mission, you see that the developers wasted no resources on ensuring a smooth, playable game that will become an instant classic.
It’s essentially a gloried hack-n-slash, but oh man, what an adventure it is. Kratos is as fluid as ever as he creates spectacular combos that shred opponents and dice up the screen. The fighting is so intuitive and inviting that you will be sucked into this visceral melee right from the first level. You are rewarded for creating combos with more orbs that are used to upgrade weapons and attacks into even more deadly and visually stunning combos.

When you are not slashing your way through waves of enemies, you will be solving puzzles and exploring to further the story. Here the puzzles usually represent object placement/manipulation to trigger the next linear path forward, and while the puzzles do get slightly complicated, they don’t really get beyond the difficult level. Exploration rewards you with hidden chests that contain extra orbs or items to improve health or magic and with new scenery.

The controls are easy to pick up and you will be quickly chaining combinations together, but as the game progresses you gain more and more abilities that strain the limits of the PSP’s controls. Noticeably missing is the right analog stick from the PS2 which was used for dodging attacks. Now this same feat is achieved by holding both shoulder buttons while moving the analog control in the direction you wish to roll. The problem with this is that each shoulder button is already tied with a face button combination to use special attacks, so if I wanted to do a roll (L+R+analog) followed by a magic attack (R+Triangle) followed by a Cyclone of Chaos (L+Square) the finger manipulation in the midst of battle starts to become cumbersome.

The graphics and sound are almost movie quality and push the PSP to the limit. The stellar cut-scenes and fluid non-clipped fighting show the best the PSP is capable of. The voice acting is awesome, parcticularly as Kratos and the narrator return to help solidify this game in the trilogy, and the orchestral scores and sound effects round out this epic endeavor. While the game is on the short side (around 6 hours), there is ample incentive to replay the game on the increased difficulty modes to unlock extra treasures, which includes concept art.

I can’t even use “scaled downA


March 25, 2008

Were I stocking a game store Patapon would be sitting all alone in the realtime rhythm strategy RPG section. That sounds like a lot, and it is. Patapon is deceptively deep. Its Loco Roco-esque graphics imply a simple, soothing game that is stored on the UMD. Patapon is anything but simple. It’s deep, strategy-focused, and rewarding.

If one genre shines a bit brighter than the others in Patapon it’s rhythm. Without rhythm your warriors cannot walk, they cannot fight, and the game cannot progress. Everything in Patapon requires the player to keep a beat. This is easy enough for simple movement (pon pon pata pon or square square circle square as it’s entered on the PSP), but in the heat of battle it’s easy to rush things and completely miss an attack, have a warrior eaten by a dragon, finally regain the beat, and retreat only to try it all again.

In addition to keeping a beat Patapon is a game of strategy. Squad composition and positioning are important – archers go in the back, for example. Boss fights require specific tactics to complete, and even in normal fights it is important to know when to run away versus when to push through and attack. In this regard Patapon is just as much a two-dimensional realtime strategy game as it is a rhythm game.

As with any game that tries new things there are a few nits to be picked with Patapon. It’s short, it requires a bit of grinding for materials to create new warriors and weapons, and at times it is frustratingly difficult. All three of these nits, however, are nullified by the New Game+ feature which allows you to replay the game with the same squad that just vanquished the final boss.

I’m not sure this is a con so much as a warning. Despite being released for the PlayStation Portable, Patapon is not a portable game. The timing required is so precise that ambient noise or the jostling of a bus ride is certain to throw you off. Stages that are easy while sitting on your couch will result in nothing but piles of dead patapons on the bus.

Patapon is charming, the art style is great, and the soundtrack melds into the gameplay superbly. The patapons themselves are so cute that not only will you want to win the stage but you’ll want to keep as many warriors alive as possible. It’s not that you can’t make more; it’s that it’s depressing when the cute things die. The whole experience is light-hearted and smile-inducing – particularly the patapons’ singing while they work, hunt, and take down giant bosses. If you like rhythm games then picking up Patapon is a no-brainer. Just watch out; once that song is stuck in your head it may never leave.

2K Sports dropped us a quite note this afternoon to let us know that they were working to address some of the recent issues with MLB 2K8. They are currently testing downloadable updates for both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners. The Xbox 360 update will increase the frames per second to help improve the overall gameplay experience. Another update for both 360 and PS3 will correct the issue in Franchise mode while playing as the San Diego Padres while attempting to move players to and from the minor league roster.

The Wii and PS2 versions of the games also have some gameplay issues. 2K is working on an alternate method for updating these versions of the game.

No updates were mentioned for the PSP version of the game.