April 2009

After an uncertain fate, the Ghostbusters game has had it’s box art finalized. The new box features the original logo and all 4 of the Ghostbusters. Not huge news, but it’s good to see any little step that this game takes to being on retail shelves.

You can check out the box art here.

Ubisoft announced today that Ubisoft Montreal was working on a follow up title to 2007’s Assassin’s Creed, aptly named Assassin’s Creed 2. The title is currently slated for a Holiday 2009 release on all current generation consoles. READ MORE

MTV, Harmonix, and EA revealed a few more details about the upcoming Beatles themed music game, The Beatles: Rock Band. The game is slated to be released as a stand alone game disc as well as a Limited Edition Premium Bundle. The Premium Bundle will include the following accessories: READ MORE

X Blades

April 16, 2009

X-Blades is a collection of poor choices pushed together into one big mistake of a game. It is a poor Devil May Cry clone with boring gameplay, an annoying main character, bad acting all around, and atrocious level design. You control Ayumi, a horribly voiced warrior, playing through a game from the early 1990s thrust into the third dimension. 

X-Blades’ story is almost non-existent. What little story you do get doesn’t make any sense anyhow. Besides, nobody played Streets of Rage II or Golden Axe for the narrative – they played those games to control a neato character and beat the tar out of pixelated gang members or monsters. X-Blades works much the same way except the monsters are three-dimensional and instead of approaching from off screen they appear out of conveniently opened portals every time you walk forward a bit. 

What made classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade and The Simpsons arcade classics was tight gameplay mechanics and well-implemented multiplayer. Good cooperative multiplayer can make mediocre games good and good games great. X-Blades’ mechanics are good. It is initially fun to slaughter monsters with swords, guns, and magic, but the lack of multiplayer kills the experience by shining a light on the repetitive mechanics,  lackluster level design, and game length padded with too many enemies per area. 

X-Blades exemplifies bad video game design. Locations serve no purpose. The main character is designed around attracting young males rather than fitting in within the context of the game world. It is a brawler with no cooperative multiplayer. Games have advanced past the point of “beat those guys up because they are bad,” and X-Blades makes a point of sitting in the corner saying loudly “lalala I can’t hear you”, hoping that if it ignores how outdated it is then everybody else will, too. 

Pros: decent mechanics

Cons: no cooperative multiplayer, outdated design, wave after wave after wave of baddies

Plays like: Golden Axe, Devil May Cry

ESRB: M for Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence


Burn Zombie Burn

April 16, 2009

Geometry Wars + Left 4 Dead = Burn Zombie Burn! Really. You are a 50s era greaser armed with a pistol. Depending on the game mode it is your mission to last as long as possible against the zombie hoard, last until time runs out against the zombie hoard, or protect your girlfriend Daisy from the zombie hoard while she sits terrified in a convertible with the top down (I know it’s not smart, but I didn’t pick her). The fun comes from striking a balance between settings zombies on fire and ending their unlives with your trusty pistol or whatever random weapon you picked up from the grass.

You start any game type with two weapons – a pistol and a torch. Other weapons like shotguns, uzis, chainsaws, and lawnmowers can be picked up and used until they are out of ammo or fuel, but the torch is a constant and you can always go back to the pistol (this is handy if you picked up a lawnmower right before a load of explosive zombies spawned).

Burn Zombie Burn! is played from a top-down perspective like Geometry Wars, is score driven like Geometry Wars, and allows the player to increase the score multiplier like Geometry Wars. In order to get a high score you’ll need a high multiplier. In order to get a high multiplier you’ll need to set zombies on fire. So far this seems easy. The catch is that non-flaming zombies shamble around and only attack if you’re in range like you’d expect of the undead. Flaming zombies are faster, inflict more damage, and are pissed enough at you to follow you around the map. BZB differs from Geometry Wars in one other key way – it is not a dual stick shooter. The left stick moves your character, but you either aim in the direction you’re moving or lock on to the nearest enemy.

At first Burn Zombie Burn! seems exceedingly difficult. You’ll set too many zombies on fire and lose all your lives or you’ll survive as long as possible without setting any on fire and fall short of attaining even a bronze medal for the level. Give the game another chance, though, and you’ll start to see the balance that must exist between setting zombies on fire and shooting them in the head. You’ll end up lighting up the entire hoard just to throw some TNT at them, wipe them out, and do it all over again. And once you get the hang of it, Burn Zombie Burn! reveals itself as a wonderfully designed arcade game that recaptures the arcade mantra of “just one more round” better than any other in recent memory.

Pros: you get to light zombies on fire, rewarding skill-based gameplay 

Cons: is maddeningly difficult until you get it 

Plays like: Geometry Wars 

ESRB: M for blood and gore, violence