To some people, integrating a game into Live so deeply that it feels like you have to have it to play is a bad thing. As far as [i]Project Gotham Racing 2[/i] goes, however, this is far from the case. [i]Project Gotham Racing 2[/i](henceforth known as [i]PGR2[/i]) is one of the best games I have seen as far as integrating itself into Live as a way to make it a better game while still keeping it perfectly playable without having a Live account. I’ll get to the details of that in a moment though. I’m not generally a big racing fan. When I think of a fun racing title, it usually involves throwing turtle shells at Nintendo characters. Beyond that, I’m really not big on racing. Because of that, I went into [i]PGR2[/i] expecting the worst, but I was dead wrong. I got what is pretty much the best right from the beginning. I was blown away by this game, and it helped draw my interest back into the racing genre.

Like most racing titles, [i]Project Gotham Racing 2[/i] has quite a large selection of vehicles and tracks. The best part about the cars though is that they are real cars. These aren’t mockups of real cars and then given a different name for trademark reasons. These are real cars with their real names that were licensed by Microsoft for the game. The cars are such a big part of what makes up this game. A seasoned gamer can use a lower classed car and outrace the newbie, but yet a master of faster vehicles will be nearly unstoppable to anyone else. Thankfully, when playing online, there are ways to keep the playing field even.

One of the better features of [i]PGR2[/i] is the Kudos point system. Originally I thought, “How good can a racing game be if it keeps track of your score.?” This however did not take long to figure out. The Kudos point system is very well done, and in many races, your success is actually determined by points and not so much your ranking. Of course like any racing game, the purpose is to get first place, but depending on how well you drive, you can actually beat the first place guy by points while being in third.

The scoring is done in a variety of ways. You get a certain number of points for ranking in certain places, for doing tricks on the track like sliding, two wheels, or doughnuts, but at the same time you can get points simply for driving well. If you don’t touch any of the sides of the tracks, you get bonus points at the end. You also get bonus points for getting through certain sections of track without hitting the sides. Of course with other players, this can be hard to do even on the easy tracks, and that is why you deserve such a bonus when the time comes.

Speaking of not touching the sides, depending on how you feel about racing games, you may or may not like this. While playing this game, I thought I was playing Operation, but on wheels instead of as a board game. With the exception of the Nurburgring track, there is no grass. It’s nothing but pavement and guardrails which is good or bad depending on your view of things. If you touch the sides, the game makes a noise to let you know it, and of course you lose your bonus. You also lose any combo points that way as well.

On the subject of combo points, you can get a lot of points by stringing together tricks. Clean sections, 180’s, sliding, drafting, etc. can all be used to chain together a nice combo. A combo is when you do successive moves within 2 seconds of receiving points for the previous move. Because of this, you can get some mad combo points, spefically in the Cone Challenge.

This brings me to the game’s variety. There are many different types of gameplay. There’s the Kudos World Series, which is basically a class by class championship mode. Once you win on one class, you get to try it on the faster car class. You keep doing this while earning Kudos points and Kudos tokens to unlock more tracks, cars, etc.

In the Arcade Racing, you have a few selections. You can either do the timed runs, the street races, or the cone challenges. In the timed runs, you simply race against time. In the street races, tracks, cars, and weather are pre-selected and you simply have to beat the race. In the cone challenge, there are cone setups you have to pass through as you race. You get so many points per setup, and it’s very little, but if you can string enough moves and cones together to get a good combo, you can get some crazy scores. You have to become quite skillful to accomplish much on the cone challenge levels though.

On the topic of levels, the levels in this game go from country to country in major cities in the world. You are basically taking part in legal street races where sections of the cities are barricaded off for the races. Because of this, some races will get you thinking you are on one track when you are on another because some of the tracks share the same section of the cities. Still, there are a good number of cities, and each city has a fair number of tracks, so even though they may share some similar sections, there is enough variety in the game to really keep things going in that respect.

Back on the topic of skill, the single player mode has several skill levels for you to play at as your skill increases. Steel medals are awarded for winning races on the easiest difficulty. When I first picked this game up, I could barely even get steels because I was so bad. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe I was ever that bad. Steels are nothing now. Then there are Bronze medals, which would be the next difficulty up. From there you have silver, gold, and the hardest(and I mean this is Viewtiful Joe/Ikaruga/Contra: Shattered Soldier hard). Perhaps for experienced players these harder modes are not too tough, but for me, the average racer, they are quite difficult. I have gotten silver medals on everything, which makes me feel like less of a loser because that’s the average difficulty. The goal is to eventually get all platinums, but given that at this point most golds are even too much of a challenge for me, I don’t see this happening.

Now onto Live play. This game plays well on Live, with or without headset. Aside from the occasional jackasses who boot you for not using the car they want you to use even though they can change the race settings accordingly, it’s a very enjoyable experience. When not playng on Live, all your stats are automatically uploaded to Live. You can upload and download ghosts of certain races, and you can use those ghosts to improve upon your own skill in the game.

Live though is where you will really get your skills. When playing against computer opponents offline, they all follow the same basic strategy. Slow down for turns, draft behind opponents, and occasionally bump into you around corners to help you lose control. Online though it’s completely different. When I thought I was getting good at the game, I found out I wasn’t. I was still driving as if I was playing offline, but when getting bounced around like I was playing bumper cars, I couldn’t do a thing about it. After spending some time on Live though, things got much better, and it became an overall enjoyable experience.

I could probably go on and on about the levels, cars, features, Live support, etc. etc. but I’m not going to. Quite simply, this is one of the best racers out there, and the close integration with Live really makes you want to get Live, even if you don’t feel like playing the game online. At less than $4 a month, why not? Live is cheaper than most people realize.

In conclusion, I think [i]Project Gotham Racing 2[/i] is a very solid racer. The graphics and sounds are well done, the music is good and has variety, and the draw distance is more than good in this game. Being able to play split screen multiplayer on Live is just sweet, and makes up for the poor draw distances in offline 3 or 4 player games. Overall this is a very well done racing title and a great reason to buy a Live kit if you don’t already own one. I couldn’t be happier with a racing game that was designed to be realistic, yet still fun to play. Sorry Mario, but as much as I love hurling fireballs at other karts, I still can’t help but love [i]PGR2[/i].

[i]Mortal Kombat[/i] is back with a vengeance. Any fighting junkie from the early days of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis remembers the first two iterations of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] as two of the best fighting titles ever. However, after the second outing, the [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] series stumbled over itself and took a toll on the entire series. [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], released in 2002, brought the game back to the top though. Now, Midway has released [i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i], the follow up to the 2002 revival of the series. Gory and blood-soaked as ever, [i]Deception[/i] does a good job of capturing [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] nostalgia, fixing what needs fixed, improving on the good stuff, and overall, presents a very formidable fighting game.

In reality, you may find very few differences between [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] and [i]Deception[/i] as far the fighting mechanics go. Many of the things that [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] brought to the table returns, such as the three different fighting styles. And of course, the infamous fatalities return. The real differences in [i]Deception[/i] lie in the new game modes added in, as well as a few minor changes to the fighting system. Of course, one of the other huge factors is the amount of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] nostalgia, bringing back old favorites from the classic titles.

The main differing factors that set [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] apart from most other fighters were the three fighting styles each character possessed, which again, returns in [i]Deception[/i]. Little has changed from the system. Each character has two different fighting stances (such as judo or moi fah) and one weapon stance. Aside from the combos though, most of the fighting will feel the same. Although there is a new breaker option, where you can counter an opponents attack at any time, although you are limited to three in one match. The characters make up a bundle of new and old faces, although for the most part, you will see many old faces from the earlier incarnations of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i]. The sword-arm freak Baraka returns, as well as crowd favorites like Mileena and Ermac. And of course, the trademarks return as well, including the rival mascots Scorpion and Sub-Zero and the electric Raiden.

A new feature to hit the arenas in [i]Deception[/i] are traps, which, if you or your opponent gets caught in one, ends you life in an incredibly gruesome fashion. Some traps include a dragonhead that chomps down on the pathetic bait. Another is the smelter, which throws the person onto a bed of red-hot plates just before sandwiching him. And of course, like the copious amounts of blood spewing from the fighters, these are just as gruesome, if not worse than the infamous fatalities.

The fatalities have made a change as well this time around. This time, each character has two different fatalities that end the life of their opponent in a horrible, but admittedly devilish way. Ermac uses his psychic powers to tear his opponent in two, while Scorpion, in an almost too-gruesome-for-television kind of way, literally rips the head off of his opponent, spinal cord and all (and parades it like a trophy to boot). The fatalities clearly state that this game isn’t for the faint of heart, if those people didn’t know better already. Another new twist on the fatalities are the Hara Kiris, which is basically a suicidal way of killing yourself, robbing your opposing victor the satisfaction of killing you himself.

The Krypt returns as well. Many who played [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] will remember the nearly overwhelming graveyard full of secrets, and [i]Deception[/i] continues with another round of graves. However, like [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], while The Krypt does have an overwhelming amount of “kontent,” most of it probably will not interest many people. Most of what you’ll find will be still pictures of developers, concept art, and rendered models of characters and arenas, and almost makes collecting the large amount of koins futile. Very few of The Krypt’s tombs contain anything worthwhile actually, and most of the good stuff (such as hidden characters, alternate costumes, and puzzle fighters) remain under locked tombstones, which require you to play though the game’s konquest mode in order to unlock.

Speaking of konquest mode, it has been revamped in [i]Deception[/i]. Unfortunately, it is for the worse. The developers decided to package the usual fighting konquest mode into an all out third person adventure. I won’t go into huge detail about the story, although it is fairly mystical and at times, a little bland. The main character goes by Shujinko, who starts out as a young man who is granted power by a mystical force, which allows him to copy other fighters attack styles. In return, he is to set out and retrieve relics for the force that granted him power. The majority of konquest mode has Shujinko traveling to different realms to retrieve these relics, as well as copy the various techniques of fights like Scorpion and Sindel.

The majority of konquest mode is incredibly flawed though. It is really more of a chore to work through the story, which comprises of very badly voiced characters and a plot that is inane to say the least. Most of the time, you will be forced to walk from point A to point B in the third person adventure perspective, and most of the fighting involved is actually training in the different character workings, which gets old after the first couple training sessions. The worst part about konquest mode though is that in order to unlock most of the things in the krypt, it is absolutely necessary to play through it. Most of the koins you receive will be from konquest mode, and to top things off, most of the secret characters and other goodies are hidden throughout the konquest world, most of the time in very obscure places.

So far, this may sound like [i]Deception[/i] is a fairly bland rehash of [i]Deadly Alliance[/i]. This is not so, as there are other significant additions to [i]Deception[/i] that make it a worthy update. The most notable of the upgrades is the ability to play against other people over Xbox Live, which is actually very enjoyable. The game plays very smoothly over the network. There are very few complaints to be had with the online mode, except that it could have had a couple more options to what you can do. Overall though, the online play in [i]Deception[/i] is a great new feature.

[i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i] also adds the game of chess into itself, with a quirky and gory twist. The same rules of chess apply as always, with pawns guarding the major pieces and the king acting as the backbone of your army. You select your army of chess pieces from the roster of characters, and each piece has a specific advantages, such as the knight’s ability to cast spells. The biggest point of chess though is that when two pieces meet on the board, they go into kombat, usually receiving bonuses depending on the situation. Chess kombat is a great and inventive mode of play, although it can feel sluggish in the beginning and can actually take a long while to pick up in any real action.

The other mode of play, puzzle kombat, shares this setback as well. Puzzle kombat is essentially the game Tetris Attack we all played years ago, only with a [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] twist. There are no real changes in core gameplay mechanics from the original Tetris Attack, although as you stack up the blocks, your bobble-head character will battle it out with the opposing character, and at times, each character will build up enough power to execute a special attack. Other than that, it is a fairly simple game, but interesting nonetheless. Like mentioned though, puzzle kombat can take a while to really heat up, and the first few matches will actually feel a little dull.

[i]Deception[/i] looks and sounds pretty good, although there seems to be little difference between [i]Deception[/i]’s graphic quality and those seen in [i]Deadly Alliance[/i]. The music is set in a fairly dark tone, but to tell the truth, you’ll usually be too busy fighting to really even take notice of the music. Characters spew out blood by the buckets as per usual, and the gore factor is out of control. In fact, sometimes it may seem a little too bloody, making [i]Deception[/i] seem a little laughable really. Even so, the blood graphics are done fairly well, and even if you are skittish around the red stuff, you can turn it down or completely off, although I question why you purchased [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] in the first place if that’s the case.

In the end, while much of it seems rehashed, [i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i] is a worthy follow-up to [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] and a formidable part of the series whole. [i]Deception[/i] does have its flat moments, such as in the cases of konquest mode and the unbearable amount of useless “kontent” that fills the krypt. Even so, the new additions like puzzle and chess kombat somewhat make up for the poor decision of konquest mode, and online play with Xbox Live makes konquest seem forgettable off the bat. And even if the fighting is what we all saw in 2002’s [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], the magic and gruesome qualities of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] just cannot be overlooked.

Far Cry Instincts

February 7, 2006

I never really got into the [i]Far Cry[/i] game for the PC, so I can’t really tell the difference between the two versions, and I only know a few things. For starters, [i]Instincts[/i] was developed by Ubisoft Montreal-not Crytek like the PC version-and the story is also a little different, along with some new features.

Let me be honest with you guys. I used to love FPS games about two years ago. I would eat, dream, drink and bleed FPS games. I loved the graphics (because FPS games are games that truly show graphics), and I loved blowing people away (mainly Germans in WWII games and zombies in everything else). But over the years, I realized one thing: I’m getting bored of them. So why did I pick up [i]Far Cry Instincts[/i]? Well, mainly because I trust Ubisoft (although I’m starting to lose faith), and I heard a lot of good things about the game. I don’t know what’s up with FPS games, but it’s pretty rare that you don’t kill: a) Germans; b) zombies/mutants; and c) aliens. I was honestly hoping for an exception with [i]Far Cry Instincts[/i]-I really was. So how did [i]Far Cry Instincts[/i] go?

The story isn’t that extraordinary, so I am not really going to get into it. You are Jack Carver, bla bla bla, and you are against 600 million evil dudes, with a lot weapons, and some people help you progress … you get it, it’s the usual.

The graphics are stunning. The game feels almost like a next-generation title. I find it hard to understand that a game like this boasts one of the best water effects, but a game that came out around the same time, [i]King Kong[/i], looked awful. The fire effects are jaw-dropping, the light effects are almost real (it hurts your eyes!) and shadows are just awesome. However, graphics don’t make a game. For all I care, the game could look like it’s on the N64 if the gameplay kicks major ass (oh, hello there, [i]Goldeneye[/i]).

The first half, or two-thirds, of the game is awesome. At first, the game is just your regular FPS set in a beautiful jungle island. You use your guns, dual wield (and does it better than [i]Halo 2[/i]) and you can also lay traps (more on that later). I was really enjoying the game until the zombies, the mutants and the dark, [i]Doom 3[/i]-like environments started appearing. I hate this, and I’m a bit angry/disappointed, and this was the factor that disallowed me to give it the rating it would’ve otherwise deserved. Why couldn’t Ubi just stick to the freaking sunny jungle environment and work the story differently, huh? Oh, because everyone loves to shoot zombies and mutants, because we love dark environments, because these are brand new ideas, and we’ve never seen them, right? Bah!

Fortunately, there is good that balances the bad. Other than having phenomenal graphics, [i]Far Cry Instincts[/i] has a few really good gameplay bits. After a few hours of play, you start to get your feral powers (as you progress, you ‘unlock’ a new one). The feral powers consist of the punch, jump, run and the (night/ thermal) vision. Feral punch is basically a ‘mega punch,’ and I love this. Creep up behind a guy (or even during combat), press B and send the sucker flying. This is quite humorous when you are on a huge cliff, and you punch someone down. You can just see them fall to their demise. Feral running and jumping are combined. Press Y, and you enter feral running, which makes you run extremely fast. To jump, just hold down A and then release, watching yourself jump as if gravity was non-existent. Feral vision lets your see/smell enemies in the dark, and also lets your find your way across dark areas (hold down Y). Sadly, this comes to much use later in the games.

Laying traps is a really good idea, but it almost never works. In fact, I was probably able to use it about twice in the whole game. You lay your trap far away from the enemy so they don’t spot you. However, when you try to lure them close with throwing a rock, the enemy usually spots you and starts shooting you. Of course, while trying to get away from the bullets, you run back, but often you’ll run into your own trap (oh, the irony) and die.

A variety of vehicles are at your disposal: quads, boats, jet skis, jeeps, hand gliders, and more. They work well and are well implemented into the game. I love using the handglider-it’s pretty realistically controlled and quite fun too.

Another thing that really pissed me off is the inability to skip the intro at the start of the game … no matter whenever you load it. I mean, if you can’t skip the company logo, whatever, but an intro that is minutes long is stupid. Also, loading times are horrible. I found sometimes that the game loaded for more than a minute, and almost two at times! Maybe it was just my version, but it’s really annoying.

Lasting appeal can be increased with playing multiplayer. Sadly, I can’t talk about that since I don’t have XBL. You can also replay levels, and the levels tend to be non-linear at times, especially in the beginning. The story will take quite some time too-probably around 10 hours. If you have the chance, or want to, online gaming can increase the replay value greatly, but single-player isn’t worth full price.

I can tell you, if all this clichA

Madden NFL 06

February 5, 2006

The [i]Madden[/i] series for more than a decade has been one of the biggest games every year, not only in sports but in all of gaming. Hardcore and casual gamers alike flock to stores every August 9th to spend their hard earned cash on what is arguably one of the greatest series in gaming history. While this year’s incarnation is not the pick up and play title it once was, it is still stunningly addictive.

This new version brings us into a new era of [i]Madden[/i]; the exclusivity era. EA sports has bought the NFL license, so there will be no competition in the sim football realm. Despite this monopoly EA has continued to bring new elements and to change the game to make it the best it can be.

Some of the controls in this year’s game have been changed as well as some new controls being added. Ball carriers no longer control their nearest blocker with the right analog, but can now truck stick defenders by pressing up on the right analog. While this helps break free of most tackles it also increases your chance to fumble. Pressing down on the right analog now performs a back juke, or a quick stop for defenders who over pursue.

There are a few new animations this year but they are few and far between. Franchise play is essentially the same, other than a few presentation changes, and the new interviews and dialogue on the Tony Bruno Show. John Madden and Al Michaels supply the commentary as always, although it is virtually unchanged from last years. One great addition to this year’s edition is the NFL Films tracks that have been added to the soundtrack.

[i]Madden 06[/i] brings some revolutionary elements to the table in both the Q.B. Vision and precision passing systems. In an attempt to bring more realism to the game a quarterback’s vision is limited to a highlighted A


January 29, 2006

Take Cover. Take Aim. Take Over. This is the slogan for [i]Kill Switch[/i]. It’s amazing how six simple words can pretty much tell you the basis of the game. The only problem is, you need more than six words to really describe all the good and bad in this game. In [i]Kill Switch[/i] you are a soldier named Nick Bishop. Inside your head you have some amazing technology that keeps you in contact with your superiors a la Splinter Cell, but it also appears to be one of the big reasons you are such a good soldier. While not clear in the game, it apparently gives you an edge on the competition. From a storyline perspective, it probably gives you better aiming ability and such. The only problem with sticking technology in your head though is that it can be corrupted. This is exactly what happens, and that’s how you start out in the game.

Little do you know that you are working for your enemy. They have tapped into your tech and taken control of you. One of the men is basically controlling you as if he was playing a video game. The other is simply intent on creating chaos and wants to use you for it. The reason he wants to use you is more of a personal thing that I will leave out. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story.

The first several levels you will be playing will involve you doing things for your enemies because you simply can’t control yourself. The problem with this though is that as a player of the game, you don’t realize this is going on(well, I guess after reading this review you do). It’s far from clear as to what is happening. While it’s nice in the sense that it gives the game a bit of mystery by leaving you out of the loop, it feels like it leaves you so far out of the loop that you have no idea what’s going on.

At first I thought this problem was just me, but my brother played the game and also had no idea what was going on. It really doesn’t become even remotely clear until you get to the end of the game. The only good about this is that the game makes you feel like you need to play it again to really ‘get it.’ I think this is a weak attempt, however, at making the game feel like it has more replay value than it really does.

[i]Kill Switch[/i] has a lot of strong points though. Unlike most shooters, this game actually has pretty good voice acting. At first it threw me off that when I thought Bishop was talking his lips weren’t moving. I immediately thought to myself “How could Namco screw up so bad that his lips don’t move?” A few levels later I realized why once I uncovered a bit more of the story. He wasn’t the one talking. The guy controlling him was.

Along with the voice acting comes the cutscenes. This sort of thing tends to go hand in hand in most games. I loved the cutscenes though. Overall they were all of good quality, and there are a handful of them that are just freaking sweet! Seeing the battle go down in Bishop’s apartment via cutscene is just amazing. I felt like I was watching a great action movie for about a half minute or so. It was quite impressive.

The best part about this game is also the focus of the game… cover fire. This game really does force you to use your surroundings as cover to accomplish your goals. Overall the game is realistic in that if you get shot a few times, you will die. Even though you have typical body armor on, it doesn’t take a lot to kill you. This brings me to the health meter. I think it was very well done. As you get hit, your meter goes down for “permanent damange” for lack of a better term. Initially though the meter gets lighter partway down to signify temporary damage. This means that if you get shot too much too quickly you will die even though you may have nearly full health. If however you take the occasional potshot here or there, you will likely be fine.

Because it is so easy to die on this game, you really can’t go running in like a typical shooter and just blasting the hell out of everything and figuring you will survive. This won’t happen. You have to really take advantage of using cover, and also make use of the variety of weapons available to you. Most weapons are your typical guns you would see with the military, and then of course you have a variety of grenades and such. My favorite of which being the sticky grenade. Hit a person with that and they start running around about to explode, and they tend to take out others with them. There’s also flash grenades which debilitate your enemies for a short while, but don’t set one off too close to yourself or your screen will go white and you won’t be able to see a thing.

In [i]Kill Switch[/i], it doesn’t take too long to learn how to use the cover provided to you. You can shoot around it on the sides, over the top, throw grenades, or what have you. It’s all very well done in that respect. Being able to blindfire is nice as well. You just put your gun around the corner without looking. It’s clearly not as accurate as poking your head out and looking, but if the enemy is directly around the corner, there’s no sense of risking being shot if you probably won’t be able to even miss him.

The problem with blind firing though is you could easily come to rely on it. Since targets at a distance are hard to hit if you don’t aim, you will waste a lot of ammo trying, but even so, it’s not like you will run out. Enemies drop ammo all the time, and you start with plenty as it is, so you really can’t run out. I once ran out of ammo in one gun, so I put it away and grabbed one of the four or so others that I had with me. My other gun was full of ammo again after killing a few guys and I was on my way. Ammo is plentiful, but that still doesn’t make the game easy.

Because it is so easy to die in this game if you’re not taking cover, it can make for some pretty difficult times. While it helps that if you can’t see your enemy who is offscreen the game will put an arrow on your screen telling you where you are being shot from, it still is not easy. There are plenty of areas where there isn’t a lot of cover to work with and you just have to shoot accurately and dive a lot. The problem with shooting accurately is the recoil. While realistic, it prevents you from really just running around and shooting. Thankfully though, your diving will help a lot in not getting shot. You are harder to shoot while you are diving, and on top of that, if a grenade lands at your feet, it is a great way to get away from it.

Overall, [i]Kill Switch[/i] plays quite well, and I really loved the focus on cover fire. This wasn’t just another shooter where you run around and kill people. This game felt like it had actual strategy and skill involved. While the game was an enjoyable experience overall, it doesn’t mean the game is perfect… no… not by any means. This game has a handful of flaws that are just too hard to overlook.

First thing’s first. This camera needs a lot of work. When you are outdoors it is all well and good, but much like a lot of third person shooters, this camera isn’t very good indoors at all. I found that frequently when I was going down hallways I couldn’t see because the camera would pull closer to Bishop so as not to go in the wall. While that is good, an over the shoulder view would be preferred to the ‘Hair Club for Men’ view. I don’t need to be inspecting Bishop to make sure he’s got a full lush head of hair. I need to see past him so I can actually aim. Thankfully there are only a couple of levels where this is an issue, but it certainly didn’t make playing any easier.

As I’ve already talked about, it is quite easy to die in this game. This is both good and bad. It adds to the realism and certainly makes you use some strategy, but the problem is that there are some levels that force you to go about in a run and gun method of gameplay to get past that area, and when it’s so easy to die, this is not good. When a game’s focus is on cover fire, they shouldn’t put in levels that offer very little cover and a lot of enemy fire. Not a good combination.

A big complaint that I have with [i]Kill Switch[/i] is that the story is simply difficult to follow. In the beginning it seems to make no sense at all. You don’t know who is who, who you are fighting, why you are fighting them, what the purposes behind your missions are, etc. None of the story is remotely clear until you start getting towards the end of the game. Then it starts making sense, but we shouldn’t have been left so in the dark early on that it is confusing. Like I said, I thought it was just me, but I wasn’t the only one that had trouble following the story. It’s a great story. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the execution of it could have been a little bit better.

My biggest problem with this game, which is probably worse than all those I’ve already listed is that it is way too short. I played through this game on normal, and from start to finish, it took me approximately six hours to beat the game. I died dozens of times and yet I still managed to beat the game in six hours. Now come on… six hours for a shooter is pretty bad. You guys couldn’t have at least thrown in a few more levels or something? Anything would have been nice. I don’t see $50 for a six hour game being worth it. In fact, I actually felt ripped off once I beat the game. This is not a good feeling to have if Namco wants me to be a repeat customer.

What could have saved this though would have been a multiplayer option. Namco should have hooked up with Microsoft to at least get this game put up on Live for the Xbox version. The other ones would be nice too, but at least with Live, there’s not much to do. Create a few levels, throw in some added content, perhaps have teams or something. The hard stuff is already done thanks to Microsoft. You have the headset, the connection to Live, the hardware(noone has to buy a broadband adapter for the Xbox), and you have a multiplayer gaming experience. I can’t imagine that it would have taken a lot of time to slap together a dozen multiplayer maps for this game. Considering that multiplayer could have really saved this game, they should have made the effort.

[i]Kill Switch[/i] really is a good game, and I hate to give it such a bad score, but it has a handful of flaws, and the total gameplay time is far too short. When a game like this is a multiplayer game calling out to you from a single player game disc, then you know you have failed. Namco, you really should have included multiplayer. I’m sure with that this game would easily be worth a much higher rating. Anyone can look past a short single player experience if there is some multiplayer action thrown it, but without this, the short single player game just stands out too much. [i]Kill Switch[/i] begs to be played on Live, but since it is not, the only thing I can do is say this. Rent this game. It really isn’t bad. It’s just that with the flaws it has, it’s barely above average and not worth buying. I would certainly give this game a “Rental of the Year” award if we had one, but beyond that, I’m sorry to say I can’t do much.

Namco, if you are planning on a sequel to this game, please include multiplayer, or even better, base it around multiplayer. Make the original [i]Kill Switch[/i] a Platinum Hits title, make the new one for playing on Live, and you will have a much better game on your hands as well as increased sales. Seriously…this game needs multiplayer like an anorexic needs food. It desperately needs it.