August 2006

Saints Row

August 31, 2006

Saints Row is the story of three surly gangs who are vying for control of the city of Stilwater, as well as a a fourth up and coming gang hosted by a man named Julius enters the already crowded picture with a plan to clean up the city by any means necessary. As the game begins, Julius saves your life and for the rest of the game, you are inextricably tied to the 3rd Row Saints and their efforts to “clean up The Row.”

The demo for THQ and Volition’s seemingly GTA-inspired Saints Row that debuted initially over Xbox Live was underwhelming, and largely disappointing. It hinted at a clichA

Smash TV

August 31, 2006

[i]Smash TV[/i], just like most games available on the Xbox 360’s Live Arcade, is an old classic for you to either relive the good old times or to play something brand new. For me, it was the latter.

Even though the game is more than a decade old, it is still very fun to play. You kill for your life… and to win fabulous prices such as toasters, VCRs, cars and other stuff, in a TV show set in the not too distant future. [i]Smash TV[/i] is not about the complex story, it’s an arcade game after all.

You go around in three different levels killing people, machines, and monsters for the above mentioned fabulous prices. The environments are varied, as are the enemies. You can pick up weapons that are also different from one another and are useful in different situations. In each of the three levels, there is a boss at the end (you get five achievement points for beating them, plus another five for beating the third mini boss in level three).

I love that you can always continue in the game. Once you run out of lives, you can just start again from where you left off, which I think is great. However, I find it very annoying that you always need to start the game from the beginning if you stop playing. This can be pretty irritating if you are near the end of level three, and for some reason you need to stop… for the third time.

If you like arcade shooters, I highly recommend this game. It’s only a few hundred Microsoft points, and the game will entertain you for quite some time. Not to mention that there are 200 achievement points awaiting to be unlocked.

Metroid Prime Hunters

August 31, 2006

The handheld first person shooter market is decidedly thin. Unless you’re up for a game of [i]SOCOM[/i] with one analog ‘stick’ or are hankering for a 16 player game of [i]Faceball[/i], you’re going to come up short. Nintendo thinks they have found the answer to all of your FPS woes by implementing a touch-screen interface on its wildly popular handheld. The good news is that it absolutely works. The bad news is that it will take you about an hour to realize that.

Most of you who have a DS probably got a demo of this game with it, and the premise remains the same. There are several control options for both right handed people and southpaws. You can use the touch screen pen, the thumb strap, or a strangely intuitive setting that uses only the buttons. For the true experience, you definitely need to play this game with the thumb strap; the problem is that that peripheral no longer comes with your DS. Beat up your brother and steal his DS Phat thumb strap if you have to because it truly makes this game. Find a comfortable way of holding the system, possibly propped up on your leg, and within an hour, it feels as comfortable and accurate as a Keyboard and Mouse combination.

You are going to need that accuracy because this game is hard. The enemy hunters you meet in the Adventure mode are going to really test your skills. The single player mode is surprisingly robust, considering the focus on multiplayer. You travel to a variety of planets, battling enemies and other [i]Hunters[/i] in your search for wildly hard-to-find alien artifacts. The story is weak, but many of the weapons and abilities from the Gamecube releases find their way to the DS, including the Scan-Visor. There is a story to be found in this game, just like in Prime 1 and 2, if you want to look for it.

The graphics manage to push a lot of detail out of the Dual-Screened-Handheld-That-Could. The environments are large and varied. One minute you are in a space ship, the next on a fiery planet. The particle effects manage to make the game look a lot prettier, while never slowing it down. In fact, the game runs at a smooth frame rate all of the time. The Metroid series has always been known for very ambient but good music, and [i]Hunters[/i] delivers in this aspect as well. You’ll notice a lot of familiar themes from the other Prime games.

And then there was Multiplayer. The multiplayer options in this game are just too many to name. It features a slew of characters to choose from, which you must unlock in single player mode before you can use them. Every character has their own ‘morph-ball’ mode, which is distinct for each character. They provide the range of attacks that you would expect from any PC first person shooter. The sniper is a personal favorite. The modes run from standard death match to King of the Hill style. [i]Hunters[/i] supports Wifi-connection, and it is always pretty easy to get a game going. Beware, however, because the online mode is very competitive, and you would be better off to bust your chops in single player first anyway.

[i]Hunters[/i] isn’t just a DS version of [i]Metroid Prime[/i]. It manages to pack a single player campaign that, while it isn’t on the level with the Gamecube releases, is still a very strong product. The multiplayer is really where the meat of this game is, and if you have friends with DSes, there are enough options to keep you busy for months. It might feel a little awkward at first, but give the controls an hour and you will be happy with the result. I’ll see you online! Go easy on me…

Killer Nic

August 31, 2006

If you thought your network card was “just a nic” then think again. Bigfoot Networks is about to launch a product that is going to change all that, allegedly. This new nic is specially designed with gaming in mind and aims to lower pings and increase FPS in online games. The nic has an onboard “NPU” that allows you to upload custom software via the onboard USB port.

I have to say that this seems a little overkill and for $279.99, yes $280 for a nic, it seems even more overkill. I know someone will end up with one out there and it just goes to show what some lengths people go to for that last little bit of performance.

I can’t see this being a big market, but if it works for Bigfoot Networks then more power to them. You can check out the Killer now and pre-order it at [url=][/url]

Microsoft sent us one of the new Forza 2 videos that was debuted at Leipzig. The video is a 360p (the 720p video was HUGE) and has some awesome footage of Forza 2. The physics and damage this game has incorporated are insane. You can check out the video [url=]here[/url].