Review – Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption
I’m not one for Westerns, nor did I have any interest in playing Red Dead Revolver the original title in the series. This one did kind of catch my interest knowing that it was basically GTA in the Wild West but I still wasn’t so sure. I knew I was interested, but not to the degree that I was about to drop $60 on it on day 1 – No I would probably have waited until I could get it used in a few months. Then the game hit shelves and a huge majority of my buddies online were playing it and telling me that I was a fool to not get the game so I checked into it more. Now I had to get this game. Fast forward more than 30hrs and here I am reviewing the game.

The game puts you in the shoes of retired Outlaw John Marston who is trying to track down some of his old gang mates in an effort to save his wife and child who are being held by corrupt government officials (who knew right? Gov employees…Corrupt? That’s impossible). As far as the story goes, that’s as much as I’ll tell you to avoid spoilers.

The gameplay mechanics are almost identical to those found in the Grand Theft Auto Series. As the protagonist, you have certain goals and rely on the help of others to get you the information required to meet said goals. They in turn use the main character as a very efficient errand boy who gets things done. Much like GTA, if you do something wrong the police come after you but now they place bounties on your head which can be paid off by a simple visit to the telegraph office or with a pardon letter or just completely avoiding the town for a prolonged period of time.

During the course of the game, it’s easy to get distracted by the myriad of mini missions and side quests that jump out at you as you and your trusted steed trail blaze across the Wild West. Some of the missions include proving your prowess with firearms in an old fashioned duel, saving the damsel in distress or returning hijacked horses and carriages.

The world in RDR is massive and I wonder if it’s possibly bigger than the wastelands of Fallout 3 and GTA because it sure seems to take a long time to get from point A to B at times…There’s even an achievement that requires you to get from Blackwater, USA to Escalera, Mexico before sundown. Racing across the countryside can wear on one’s nerves though, if all you want to do is see what’s coming next in the story (you’ll find that the story is rather engrossing) then the sheer size can seem daunting and rather annoying at times – Luckily there is fast travel available via stagecoaches but even then sometimes it can mean travelling in the opposite direction before getting to one.

The online aspect of the game is quite entertaining and though I only had minimal time playing it due to internet issues as of late, I can see myself playing this for months to come. Free roaming gives you the ability to just randomly traverse the world on your own in MMOG fashion having to fend for yourself against other players or join up with friends and create a posse and take on the world together. Free Roam could use more missions but the real meat and potatoes of the game come from the gang or free for all matches where you engage in team or free for all matches.

Rockstar has just turned this series into a triple A title and with more DLC coming in the future, this game is potentially a contender for Game of the Year on many lists. Now git on lil doggy – I have a damsel to rescue.

Pros:

  • Great story – as good as the best Western movies (so I’ve been told…I don’t like Westerns)
  • Incredible voice acting – Memorable characters
  • Replayability – There’s so much to do and see
  • Online – Online game modes are insanely fun

Cons:

  • Size – The world may be a little too big sometimes with too little going on during the long travels

Feed Your Console give Red Dead Redemption 10 out of 10

Review – Alan Wake

Alan WakeAs one of the first titles announced for the Xbox 360, some began to wonder if the title would ever see the light of day. After 5 long years, Alan Wake has finally made his way home.

As usual, there are no spoilers in this review so feel free to read on.

The game is set in a small sleepy rural town in the mid North Western USA, Bright Falls. Complete with vibrant landscapes and wildlife, the town features some very quirky characters and unapologetically takes its cue right out of the cult classic TV series of the early 90s, Twin Peaks. You play the part of title character Alan Wake a best-selling author suffering from writer’s block who’s on vacation with his wife. When his wife Alice goes missing, it’s up to Alan to find her through the pages scattered throughout Bright Falls of a manuscript he doesn’t remember writing. He comes to the realization that a dark presence is at work and it’s up to him to save the woman he loves.

The game’s narrative is much like a book. As Alan completes certain tasks or reaches checkpoints, Alan narrates certain aspects to the gamer allowing for the story to progress much like a living book.
The graphics are beautiful. The town and environments are just as beautiful in the dark(sometimes more so) as they are in the light and the character models look incredible – Hey Alice, can I give you my phone number? (the actress is seriously hot and her model looks just like her). The only thing that’s not quite right is the lip syncing and this weird grimace that Alan Wake has that says “I just got kicked in the pills”. Apparently they’re working on a fix for that. When walking through the town or the forest at night, the baddies (known as “The Taken”) come at you in various forms and they are ‘effin creepy man, especially the sound that accompanies them which bring me to my next point.

The sound in this game is AMAZING! The sound directors and writers deserve huge props for some of the more intense and gripping soundtracks and sound effects I’ve experienced in a game for a in a long time. Whenever the music started to pick up the pace, my heart raced along with it – couple that with the ambient sounds of the game and the noises/voice of the Taken and you’re likely to find yourself sitting slightly higher in your seat and perhaps even turning the lights on.

This game has something I’ve been missing from all my so called “Horror survival games” – The scares. Truly feeling like the situation is dire or that feeling of dread as you round a corner to thematic music, second guessing the wind in the bushes or the silhouette in the distance is what made games like Resident Evil 1-3 so near and dear to me (sadly they lost that dynamic). The game had moments that made me jump and feel great moments of relief when it was all over.

Any avid book reader will tell you there’s nothing like a page turner which is exactly what Alan Wake is. Great Job Remedy – This game shall never leave my game collection and will go down as a classic title from this generation of consoles.

Feed Your Console gives Alan Wake 10 out of 10

Pros:

  • Graphics – Simply put, beautiful
  • Engaging Story – Keeps you wanting more(please make more)
  • Sound Effects and soundtrack – Both of which will raise your heart rate
  • Scare moments – this felt more like survival horror than anything in recent years

Cons:

  • It ended – Seriously, why is the game over?
  • Lip Synching and strange mouth movements by Alan – Reportedly a fix is forthcoming
** Thanks to Xbox for for supplying a review copy to Feed Your Console,/h6>

NPD sales for March 2010

Industry Sales March 2010
Video Games: $1.52B
Video Game Hardware: $440.5M
Video Game Software: $875.3M
Video Game Accessories: $206.8M

Top 10 VG Console/Portable SKUs March 2010

Title Platform Publisher Units Rank Last Month
GOD OF WAR III* PS3 SONY 1.10M **
POKEMON SOULSILVER VERSION NDS NINTENDO OF AMERICA 1.02M **
FINAL FANTASY XIII PS3 SQUARE ENIX 828.2K **
BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY 2 360 ELECTRONIC ARTS 825.5K **
POKEMON HEARTGOLD VERSION NDS NINTENDO OF AMERICA 761.2K **
FINAL FANTASY XIII 360 SQUARE ENIX 493.9K **
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. WII WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA 457.4K 2
BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY 2 PS3 ELECTRONIC ARTS 451.2K **
WII FIT PLUS W/ BALANCE BOARD* WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA 429.6K 9
MLB 10: THE SHOW PS3 SONY 349.2K **

Top 10 PC Game SKUs / March 2010

Title Publisher Rank Last Month
PC The Sims 3: High-End Loft Stuff Electronic Arts 1
PC The Sims 3 Electronic Arts 3
PC Dragon Age: Origins Awakening Expansion Pack Electronic Arts **
PC Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight Electronic Arts **
PC World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Expansion Pack Blizzard Entertainment (Activision Blizzard) 8
PC Supreme Commander 2 Square Enix, Inc. **
PC The Sims 2 Double Deluxe Electronic Arts 9
PC Napoleon: Total War Limited Ed Sega of America **
PC Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War II: Chaos Rising Expansion Pack THQ **
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service

May’s Most Wanted

May's Most Wanted

Nope I didn’t stutter when writing this – Nintendo fans know what they want and it’s the same as last month… Not one new title in the most wanted list this month, it’s the same – the EXACT same as April’s list.

However I did pickup a Pokémon DS title (SoulSilver) – stay tuned for my review.

WII:

  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • Wii Sports Resort
  • Mario Kart Wii
  • Wii Fit Plus
  • Endless Ocean: Blue World
  • Punch-Out!!
  • New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis
  • Excitebots: Trick Racing
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk

NINTENDO DS:

  • Pokémon HeartGold Version
  • Pokémon SoulSilver Version
  • Glory of Heracles
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
  • Style Savvy
  • Fossil Fighters
  • WarioWare: D.I.Y

Splinter Cell: Toronto

Ubisoft

Today Ubisoft announced the first title to be produced right here in Toronto will be the next instalment of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. With the success of Splinter Cell Conviction Ubisoft is eager to get working on the next iteration of the series.
Jade Raymond, managing director of Ubisoft Toronto had this to say:

“Building our studio around both AAA brands and original IP has allowed us to attract an all-star team to Ubisoft Toronto. We’re really happy to be able to tell the world that the Toronto studio’s first big franchise title is the next Splinter Cell game. Splinter Cell has become synonymous with innovative gameplay, great design, and one of the most beloved characters in games,”

With an ambitious development schedule Ubisoft is looking to fill a number of positions here – find out more at creatorsofemotion.com.

EA and Insomniac Games team up

Insomniac EAToday Insomniac Games announced a new strategic alliance with Electronic Arts where a new unannounced property would be developed for on the Xbox 360 (and the PS3 of course).

The creators of Ratchet and Clank, Spryro the Dragon and Resistance are excited to be looking at a multi-platform deal (the first) for future titles along side EA.

Here is what Insomniac’s had to say:

“Working with EA Partners allows us to extend the reach of our games to a multiplatform audience while retaining ownership of the intellectual property,” said Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games. “We are excited and eager to introduce Insomniac to a new group of gamers while reinforcing to our loyal fans what makes our games special.”

All Day on Twitter the Insomniac team was busily accepting praise and reassuring fans that their beloved PS3 exclusives would remain untouched by this new partnership with comments like: “Best of both worlds. Still exclusive content for Sony and bringing new content to both PS3 and 360.

Honestly this sound like a fantastic partnership for Insomniac and EA – both organizations should benefit gratly from this – Insomniac getting access in to the world of Xbox and EA, while maintaining the exclusive content already developed in partnership with Sony. While EA gets access to the minds, writers and developers behind some of the best exclusives on the PS3.

Bring it on Insomniac!

Full Release

Mario Galaxy 2 Launch Event

Today Mario Galaxy 2 launched and we are on hand  see to the public and media get there hands on time with Mario Galaxy 2. I didn’t get to much hands on time with the game because the weather in Toronto is ridiculously hot and I couldn’t stand the heat. So stayed tuned to Feed Your Console for our review coming shortly.

Photo’s from today’s even
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Preview: ModNation Racers

I had stayed away from most of the promotional materials for ModNation Racers before playing it at the PlayStation media event event at Mini-Indy Go Karts; I really had no idea what to expect when I picked up the controller and played a few rounds with Dillon from CultureGET. Before I get into the thick of it, I should let you all know that racing games aren’t my cup of tea. I played a lot of Mario Kart with my brother as a kid, but since then I’ve moved on to other genres.

On the surface, the racing plays just like a furry-free, cars-only Diddy Kong Racing: the tracks have multiple paths and shortcuts and are littered with power ups and traps. The 3-level powerup system is also borrowed from DKR: you hit an item box, and you’re given a random level 1 item. Hitting up to 2 more item boxes without using the item will increase it’s power.

Where ModNation’s racing differs from DKR is it’s depth. United Front games has packed in a complex racing game underneath the skin of a simple kart racer. There is a boost meter that is filled by getting air time or by attacking enemy cars. The boost meter can be used up on a temporary shield or in the titular action of forward propulsion. As I played, I slowly learned some of the advanced tactics, but tricks like double-jumping and the side swipe attack are still a mystery to me.


Photo by Tehflakes

Photo by Tehflakes

ModNation Racers is more than a racing game. It’s essentially the LittleBigPlanet of racing games, with fully customizable characters, karts, and levels. While the kart and character customization is purely cosmetic, the track creation is the strongest feature in the game.

The track creation tool is amazing in that it’s so simple to create a fully fleshed out track that’s ready to race on in a matter of minutes (no exaggeration). It’s the same feeling of glee you experienced in Spore when your masterpiece/intentional abomination was walking/barely able to hobble. In ModNation Racers, there is an auto-populate tool that will add all the props, traps and boosts necessary for a track. The player has the liberty of placing these entities themselves, but the auto-populate brush does an amazing job of it, most people will be satisfied with the results.

I wasn’t able to test out these features, but you should know they exist: campaign mode, online multiplayer, sharing tracks, sharing “mods” (avatars), sharing karts, and online leaderboards for track creation and race times.

ModNation Racers is the kind of game that will make memories for kids. While adult or teen players might tire of the track creation after creating a few ridiculous levels, kids will love every facet of the game, and best of all, they’ll have the time to invest in it. The creation tools, like LittleBigPlanet’s, are essentially digital Lego: they’re great ways to foster creativity in kids. Getting this game for a younger gamer also reveals an unexpected bonus: you’ll get to play something more substantial than the latest movie tie-in game.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Event

Just a quick reminder of the Super Mario Galaxy 2 Launch event this weekend (May 23rd) in downtown Toronto, at Young and Dundas Square.

To get you all geared up here is the launch commercial, uploaded by Nintendo earlier today:

The official Wii YouTube has a number of other Super Mario Galaxy 2 commercials to check out.

See you on Sunday!

Review – No More Heros 2: Desperate Struggle

No More Heroes 2When I first heard about the original No More Heros, I just kinda said “Meh”. Then I saw a review for it on G4TV and despite their shining review, I thought…”Meh” and quickly forgot about. I did the same thing when I heard about the sequel No More Heros 2: Desperate Struggle I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that the game actually sold enough to warrant a sequel. When I was asked if I wanted to review I figured that it couldn’t hurt to have something new, I was after-all, feeling rather bored with my current selection of games.

From the moment I fired it up for the first time I suddenly became intrigued with the presentation. It struck me as grindhouse style kitsch which I’m actually a fan of. It has copious amounts of unrealistic gore, massive jugs on the game’s narrator (who I might add is also dressed as a nurse and the camera is fixed to her chest) and some rather blatant penis and poo jokes. No really…He sits down in the crapper to with a magazine to save, he also shakes his beam katana to recharge it and it looks like he’s flogging the bishop.

The game take place 3 years after the original as Travis Touchdown in the city of Santa Destroy California. Travis is told that he’s no longer ranked #1 in the UAA (United Assassins Associations – I count the word “Ass” in there 3 times…coincidence? I think not) and must now rise through the ranks to get revenge for his best friends murder.

If you’re familiar with the original game, then you already have a pretty good idea of how the controls work but, if you’re not a veteran of the series then, Travis wields a “Beam Katana” as his weapon of choice and he strings together combos using wrestling moves and Katana attacks to dispatch his enemies. During the game Travis is tasked with various remedial jobs that play out like old school 8 bit Nintendo games of yore complete with frustratingly inaccurate controls (I’ll assume that was done on purpose) which earns him money for weapon upgrades, and allows him to improve his strength, health and combos.

The graphics are as sharp on the Wii as anything else on the system. The voice acting and dialogue is suitably cheesy as it fits in well with the title.

All in all I would say that despite my original thoughts on the game and the low expectations I had, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had playing this game. I even just may go and hunt down the original so I can see what transpired the 1st time around.

Pros:

  • Grind House style presentation
  • Unapologetic sense of humor
  • Graphics

Cons:

  • Frustrating controls in 8 bit mini games
  • Little reason to replay

Feed Your Console gives No More Heros 2: Desperate Struggle an 8 out of 10.

** Thanks to Ubisoft for Supplying the review copy