July 2008

Frontlines: Fuel of War is a first person shooter with a single player campaign and multiplayer mode that supports up to 50 players. Campaign play begins in 2024 after the world has long lived the effects of oil shortages, global depression, nuclear war, and pandemic outbreaks. Just as the game title and the game quote that appears on the loading screen suggests, A

Don King tends to raise expectations. Unfortunately, Don King Presents: Prizefighter just doesn’t meet them. What it does, though, is provide a solid career mode and a couple hours of multiplayer fun.

Prizefighter uses the now-standard controller layout for boxing, punching with all four face buttons using the shoulder triggers for various modifiers. This is supposed to bring in some variety, but it really only adds a rock-paper-scissors element to the game, where countering the opponent’s lean or step brings a slight advantage. Controls are a bit clunky and occasionally unresponsive.

Presentation is where Prizefighter shines. The menus are attractive and intuitive, and the soundtrack is top-notch. The arenas look great, and the fighters themselves are pretty detailed. Of course, the true centerpiece of the game is its Career Mode. The story is told through a sequence of documentary segments, and while it is obvious at times that people are reading off a script, the experience is still refreshing and different.

In Career Mode, players increase their boxers’ skills through various training minigames, such as jump rope and speed bag. It’s the type of standard boxing fare depicted in movies to sweeping soundtracks, and it’s executed as a series of simplistic minigames.

The roster is certainly adequate, with champions in various divisions, but there are very few flashy, well-known fighters. However, classic fighters like Rocky Marciano and James A

Originally released on the Xbox 360 and PC, Overlord quickly drew attention to itself for its tongue-in-cheek wit, and outside of the box gameplay similar to Pikmin. After a successful career and an expansion later, the PS3 is lucky enough to get the complete package and extra dungeons in one game that features a few tweaks to presentation.

Raised from the dead, you are the Overlord, a Sauron wannabe who finds his tower in ruins and his peasants less than respectful. What you do have is the undying affection of your faithful minions who will die for you while making you laugh all the while. These imp-like creatures follow your commands like a flock of cockroaches, enabling you to take down your enemies, drive fear into the locals hearts’ and help you rebuild your tower to your suiting.

From your dark tower you start out with a minimal set of brown minions and teleport about the countryside gaining life-force for more minions, power-ups, tower upgrades, and eventually the use of different types of minions. Each minion type represents a tactical combat strategy and a puzzle element in one. For example the blue minions serve as healers during combat and are the only minion type that can go through water while reds use fire-based attacks and can walk through the same unscathed. As you progress, your tower goes from ruins to luxury with your dungeon for refighting past enemies and an armory for upgrading weapons; just toss more than a couple of your willing minions into the smelting pot and you can upgrade your helmet.

Overlord’s controls are unique in that it has you controlling your group of minions to solve puzzles, ransack villages, collect loot and generally destroy everything in your path. Mostly a hack-and-slash with a small dose of strategy involved, you move your minions around using the right analog stick while moving yourself with the left. Not having the right analog to move the camera around was my biggest issue to get past as I had to effectively use the L1 to maintain an over-the-shoulder view. As you gain more types of minions the controls begin to get complicated, as you order one group to stay, one group to advance and others to try to sweep around behind the enemies to climb on their backs, your fingers definitely get a workout trying to maintain all of that at once, but it is more than gratifying seeing a swarm of minions widdle down an enemy effectively.

Like a twisted version of Tolkien, Overlord is teeming with humor and quick-wit that pokes fun at nearly everything available to it. Crass comments are always available from your trusty mentor-minion Gnarl or your mistress of the tower that encourage you to be as evil as you can be. Similarly the visuals take an almost cartoonish feel that begs not to be taken seriously, with absurd looking peasants and colorful environments that make it pleasing to look and listen to. The graphics mostly hit the mark, but it is almost blaringly apparent that the polish from a year-old 360 title doesn’t quite clear the bar set by games designed with the PS3 in mind.

Multiplayer similarly seems like an after thought. It is nice to have head-to-head, co-op Survival and contests available, but the online play doesn’t really take off and offer anything new to die-hard online gamers. The true reason to play is the single-player mode, hands down.

Despite my nits against the game, it is a solid, seriously fun and blatantly funny game that works on so many levels. Where else are you going to find this style of gameplay? If you already own the game on the 360/PC with the expansions you don’t need to upgrade to Raising Hell. Even with the addition of a mini-map and a smattering of new areas, the core game is essentially the same. But if you haven’t played it before, the PS3 version is now the best one available and should be checked out.

Most games that have “extreme” or such derivations in their titles are almost invariably not. This latest entry into classic territory actually is. Space Invaders Extreme starts off as the classic game does, with a space craft darting left to right. New alien types of different colors and sizes have been thrown into the mix to vary the gameplay a bit. Alien colors come in a variety of colors; defeating four of any color alien other than white nets a power up: red turns the player’s shots into bombs that hurt enemies in proximity to the blast, blue enables a devastating beam that tears through entire columns, green changes shots into a wide-area type that can hit multiple enemies at once, and black enables a shield to guard the player from damage.

This might all seem relatively basic, but defeating 4 aliens of one color followed by 4 aliens of another color, not including whites, makes a flashing saucer glide across the top of the screen. Shooting this saucer enables Round mode, a mini-game where the player is given an objective, i.e. shoot down 8 saucers, destroy 15 invaders, etc, in a certain time frame. If the player fails, the gameplay reverts to normal. If the player clears the Round, then game enters Fever mode. During Fever mode, the player is given temporary use of one of the three subweapons and is instructed to destroy as many aliens as possible. The more aliens shot down, the higher the Fever bonus.

The saucers mentioned earlier that enable Round mode also come in different colors: white which act as normal, blue which fire a laser beam, green which drop more aliens on the field, red which immediately begin Round mode much like flashing saucers, and yellow which start the roulette minigame. During the roulette, several color aliens spin around. Depending on which color is hit, the player gets different awards.

Each stage consists of a number of waves of aliens followed by an encounter with a boss. Bosses range from simply being larger versions of other aliens to multiple aliens that can combine together to make an STILL larger one with very specific weak points. It’s fair to say, for being a 30-year-old concept, the variety of enemy types is quite staggering in this game.

The multiplayer experience is unfortunately limited only to local wi-fi, unlike the game’s DS counterpart. Battles are fought by clearing as many waves of enemies as possible. The game ends when one player loses all their lives. Simple, yet very fun. The game experience itself cam be likened to being like the classic Space Invaders with more enemy types, and a dynamic that one might expect from a Lumines game insofar that the game action matches up with the rhythm of the music and makes it very trance-like. The game is fast, frantic, and certainly worth adding to your collection.

Harmonix and MTV Games have announced the Rock Band DLC for the week of July 29, 2008. There are four new downloads which include three single debuts.

Scars on Broadway’s “They Say” will be the bands first single which will be exclusively released on Rock Band. Scars on Broadway includes 2 band members from System of a Down: Daron Malakian (vocals/guitar) and John Dolmayan (drums). Staind’s “This Is It” is the first single from their forthcoming sixth studio album, The Illusion of Progress. Closing up the single debuts, The New No2’s “Yomp” is also their first single in their forthcoming album, You Are Here. Last but not least, “Electric Clown” from Testament’s 1992 studio album will be released.

The New No2’s “Yomp” will sell for $0.99 (80 MS points) and the other three tracks will be priced standard at $1.99 (160 MS points). All four tracks utilize the original master recordings. READ MORE