Review: Dead Space

Platforms: xbox 360 (Reviewed), ps3

Every now and then there comes a game that’s sum is more than the total of it’s individual parts. Dead Space is one of those gems. I had a sense there was something special about this title when EA decided to release animated short films several months prior on XBL and PSN (which are still available and free). These shorts were creepy and you didn’t quite know what the heck was going on until maybe the 2nd or 3rd issue. Speaking of issues, these stories I was delightfully surprised to see also released as an actual mini series in my local comic book shop! Again, at this point I knew EA knew they had something special here and were pulling out all the stops. Next up, the DVD companion movie that was released right as the game dropped. Mind you I don’t know why they didn’t center around someone other than the obnoxious female lead. Regardless, it was still the perfect set up to a rather interesting and in-depth storyline.

Halloween ’08, enter Dead Space finally. Without giving out any spoilers here, you’re a lone science engineer, Isaac, sent to this space colony to see why communications were lost, access the damage, and possibly fix it, etc. Little do you know that the communications lost were due to some space marker found that turned people stone cold crazy, then mutated them into these creatures that are so terrifyingly real looking, it’s hard to play this game without the lights on. Seriously.

Graphically, I love how EA took their time on this one. It shows, right down to not having any map screen or inventory screen, but rather everything is instead on-screen in real time! Things like your ammo count you can see over Issac’s shoulder in the actual guns ammo count monitor, etc. Brilliant!

Sound quality is incredible. Think the entire Aliens series, where you hearing the dripping of water, creaks, screams, you name it. If you have a set up where you can enjoy 5.1 splendor, then you’re in for a treat. The soundtrack picks up when you encounter creatures and i found it almost freaking me out more than the actually battle did with whomever I was trying to dismember at the moment. The combination of both at times was too much and I had to stop playing to catch my breath. Yes, it’s that intense and I don’t scare easily! Again, brilliant.

The controls are decent. I found myself at times overwhelmed by mutated creatures though and just running for dear life. Maybe that’s the right thing to do in those situations. Just the same, you have limited ammo and findings are scarce if you don’t remember to check every locker, kick/crush every box, etc. A good balance of the rarity of ammo found made it even more terrifying as you have to plan carefully what to use and when. It could literally be a life or death decision. Let me not forget the fact that EA threw in some 0 gravity levels that completely nail down the physics of weightless adventure to a T. Love it.

I’m still enjoying this game as I can only play it in short chunks due to it’s scare the bejesus-out-of-me nature. I’ve played it enough though to review and say, if you’re into space horror, or horror in general it’s a gotta have. Especially since these days you can pick up a copy well below it’s original price in some shops.

Bring on the sequel EA. Please (hint).

Pros

– Graphics, sound, and plot are all top notch.
– Space horror at it’s best.- Enough prequel fodder to make you believe it’s real.
– Downloads a’plenty for extra weapons, skins, etc.
– It WILL scare the bejesus out of you.
– Announcement from EA of a prequel of sorts on the Wii out fall ’09

Cons:

– It will scare the bejesus out of you!- Not enough ammo about. Get trapped and it’s game over man.
– The weapons management and upgrade system can get confusing at times (it’s still better than most).

Feed Your Console gives Dead Space: 8.5 out of 10

Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Redwood Shores

Review: Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X

Platforms: xbox 360, ps3 (Reviewed)

H.A.W.X is a decent game, let’s start there. The plot’s simple, you’re an ex-pilot who served in a few wars then retired only to be offered a gig with some private organization. The organization is paid for air support and protection by various counties for various reasons. Not rocket science, but believable.

I played this on the ps3 and it was gorgeous. I think this is the first actual flight sim game I didn’t chuck after the first mission. Solely in part to the fact that the demo allowed the ‘assistance OFF’ mode which is far better to play this game with if you ask me…so I knew that ability was coming in later missions (in the full version of the game you cannot play this way until the 4th or 5th mission). I’ve read on some sites how people complained that you don’t see the jets actually take off, etc. Really, does that matter? The game otherwise makes sense. I like how it cuts to the chase and starts you out flying toward your next mission after a debriefing (debriefings are skipable). The ability to play online co-op is there also, something I haven’t seen before in a flight game..and it’s actually done really well. Impressive.

Controls can be tricky, but let’s keep in mind we’re flying multi-million dollar aeriel war machines here. With assistance OFF mode I DON’T recommend choosing the ‘Expert’ control type which gives you absolute control over the crafts’ movement. Trust me, you will throw your controller across yonder. It borders on impossible to fly in any which direction much less lock on a target.

Sound wise, no complaints other than at times it gets difficult to hear what your wingmen/mission-control’s saying to you during a mission due to rockets firings, target locking sounds and your jet’s thrusts thrusting. Yup, even on the loudest voice setting. Minor though.

Pros:

– Realistic flight patterns and maneuverability.
– Massive amount of fighters at the palm of your hands and use in online co-op modes.
– Locking on to 4 targets at once and hitting the missile launch button. Satisfying.
– Believable plot.
– Re-playability factor is up there. Free flight mode available.

Cons:

– Can get repetitive after a while on solo campaign mode.
– Expert control type instantly turns the game into a must trade-in ASAP.
– Difficult to hear NPC characters talking due to outer sound effects.
– To ps3 owners, it takes 15-20 mins for some game-data loading to take place the first time you play this disc…I’m still baffled at why. Be warned.

Feed Your Console gives H.A.W.X: 7 out of 10

Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Romania
Release Date: March 3, 2009

Review: Obulis

Review: ObulisWhat do you get when you add Balls, Pots, Chains, Rope, Catapults and Physics? You guessed it you get Obulis a Puzzle based games using gravity, chain reactions and cannon fire to move the coloured balls across each board in to the corresponding coloured pot.

When I first installed Obulis I sat down intending to play a few boards before dinner and ended up playing for over half an hour. Quickly I found this game to be both addictive and challenging. Game play consists of selecting a rope (right click) and cutting it (left click), thus stating the events that will drive the rest of the board forward.

Starting off with some simple and easy boards – drop here, role there – and steadily progressing to to significantly harder boards as you move into the later ends of the boards. Boards requiring multiple roles, cascades and timed swings to get your balls from their start point to their final destination. Obulis also lacks any story or reasoning for all this rolling, swinging and transfer of motion but if your looking for puzzles without reason you in luck.

Casual puzzle gamers are going to love Obulis because it offers interesting and interactive backgrounds, over 150 boards and realistic physics. But be warned that you will spend a lot of time repeating the advanced boards as you have to time putting the balls in motion or firing them out of the catapults to start the proper chain reactions. One small misstep or early/late click and your going to find your balls rolling into the wrong pot or off the bottom of the map.

Pros:

  • Puzzle Lovers Dreams
  • Tons of levels
  • Addictive Gameplay

Cons:

  • Aggravation with timing – too early/late
  • Lack of story line

Feed Your Console gives Obulis: 7 out of 10

Obulis is available from Steam for $9.99.
Published by: Meridian4
Developed by: IonFX

Review: Fallout 3: The Pitt

Recently Bethesda released the newest expansion chapter to their multiple awards winning game Fallout 3. As a veteran of Fallout 3 (PS3 version) and labeling it as Game of the Year last December (I will be posting a new review shortly for this site), I just had to play through these levels even if it meant picking up a 2nd copy of the game for the 360.

Weighing in at almost 500MB and only 800 Microsoft points, you get an extra 3-4 hours of gameplay which, in my opinion, is pretty damn good especially when you consider that some games can be finished in that amount of time for a heck of alot more money.

The Pitt has you helping out a runaway slave named Werhner who tells you that he needs help obtaining a cure to the mutations that plagues his people. From here he takes you to what is left of Pittsburgh. When you get to Pittsburgh, you’re tasked with infiltrating the slave camp and finding a fellow slave and engaging in the quest to meet The Pitts Raider Boss, Ashur.

Once inside, you’ll instantly get the feeling that you’re not in Kansas anymore. The Pitt is as beautifully drawn out as the rest of the game even under all the grit, soot and dirt that seems to cover every inch of the level. It looks simply amazing. Once inside, you’ll get to experience a variety of things such as new weapons, a new kind of enemy threat in the form of the mutated slaves (not your average Ghouls this time folks) and a few new locales.

Without going into too much detail on what you encounter story wise, I will tell you that as in all the other quests within the game, you’re faced with a variety of moral choices and as the saying goes “Who will you become?”

It’s nice to see that the production value and standards from the rest of the game translate to the DLC. There’s plenty to do and see for such a small amount of money and in this day and age you want value for your dollar. This is truly an awesome addition to an already epic tale. I can’t wait to get into Operation Anchorage and the next chapter, Broken Steel, which is slated to come out sometime this April-May.

Feed Your Console gives Fallout 3: the Pitt: 10 out of 10

Review: MLB ’09: The Show

Platforms: PS3, PS2 (reviewed), PSP (reviewed)

Welcome to the big league Ladies and Gentleman, it is that time of year again and by that I mean its the return to America`s favourite past time, Baseball. Along with the grapefruit league you`ll find Sony`s latest installment of the Majors, MLB 09: The Show.

The visuals on this game are simply superb, Stadiums so real you can easily imagine you are sitting next to the guy with the body odor sitting at behind the plate. Player profiles and in play graphics that would rival the best of TSN’s game producers, real time instant replays and in-game player stats. Both the PSP and PS2 versions of this game offer fantastic visuals, even on the 2.5″ screen nothing is lost visually.

With so many options your going to find more value in this game then you can shake a bat at… (rim shot). This game brings a little something for everyone offering six different game play options; ranging from the quick play Exhibition game, Manager Mode – an Armchair Coaches dream, Rivalry Mode, Franchise Mode – manage everything from concessions to the roster, to a full 162 games in Season Mode. But it doesn’t stop there… If you think you got what it takes “The Road to the show” is for you, build a custom player, make the team at spring training and set your sites on the Pennant.

Spending most of my review time in the exhibition and manager modes, where after several full games, I`m still trying to get the much needed finesse of the pitching and batting controls down, the AI never seems to have an issue knowing what your going to throw or what your likely to swing at. Finding the right pitch, while keeping them in the strike zone but not in the batters sweet spot, or alternatively connecting at just the right time while watching that fastball buzz on bye. It is not as easy as you would think. Controlling runners on the base is easy enough – tell them to take the big lead and steal the next base or prep them for the sacrifice bunt to move into scoring position.

The MLB online system is fantastic offering several great features:

  • Player Card – Track your career online match play stats
  • Leagues – Be the Commissioner of your own league
  • Leader Boards – real time statical tracking of the players on the MLB network
  • Community Center – Mail and message boards, and Sliders (user generated game settings).
  • Headline News – Current events in the MLB on actual games happening around the Majors

Be prepared for long gaming sessions when firing up MLB ’09: The Show, as these virtual games can take just as long as the real thing. I can honestly say I have enjoyed my time and I look forward to the many hours in the future. The seventh inning stretch is coming to and end and it’s time to get back in the game. I’ll see you at the ball park.

Pros:

  • Realistic announcers and commentary
  • Fantastic replicas of stadiums
  • Online services are packed with good stuff
  • Updated real time roster and news
  • Equally good on the PSP and PS2

Cons:

  • Controls are a bit sensitive
  • Scheduling time is important due to potential length of game

Feed Your Console gives MLB ’09: The Show: 8 out of 10

Review: House of the Dead: Overkill

About a month ago my counterpart here at Feedyourconsole.com, Matt, told me about House of the Dead: Overkill. I’m not too sure how I missed this one from the get go. I was a fan of the series back in the arcade days and am what you could call an avid Zombie junkie. He insisted that I should get this game because he knew about my love for all things zombie. I somehow forgot.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and House of the Dead makes headlines because it was awarded a title of “Most Profane Game” by The Guinness Book of World Records. Being a potty mouth, I felt even more compelled to get this game and immediately rush out to pick it up. When I got it home my wife and I sat down and immediately I was pretty sure I would like this game.

The game and story is presented much like a 70s Grindhouse flick complete with missing sections, hisses and pops in he audio and over the top profanity and sexual innuendos. The base premise of the game pits you as series alum Agent G and his partner Washington as you traverse multiple locales in the relentless pursuit of the game’s antagonist Papa Cesar, the mad scientist responsible for the zombie outbreak.

The gameplay is your typical light gun fare. Point the wii-mote, aim shoot and collect points and items along to way to open up extras found in the main menu. There’s really nothing special to point out with regards to the gameplay outside of the combo system that racks up as you generate multiple kills without missing a shot. It’s quite hard to pull off while engaging in the 2 player action, which is still lots of fun.

The graphics are ok and rather blocky on the largely underpowered Wii system and the frame rate appears to be inconsistent but the presentation of the game kind of makes you forget about that.

By the end of the game, you’ll have laughed plenty (“can I have a lollipop?”), enjoyed a Grindhouse style story line, seen some awfully crazy story points, splattered plenty of brains on the ceiling and walls and heard a whole bunch of F-Bombs.

It’s really too bad that this game has done so poorly as of press time. I really think that Sega should look at it as a stepping stone to a re-launching of the series. If an arcade-y shoot ‘em up games is something you like and you really just want to brush up on your zombie killing skills in preparation of the zombie invasion, you’ll have fun with this game.

So go and get the F..K out of here and pick this title up. You’ll enjoy it.

Pros:

  • Game Presentation: Lines and dirt on the “game film” looked great
  • Sound: Voice actors were extremely cheeseball and I loved it
  • Accessibility: Anyone and I mean anyone can play this. My wife is a zombie killing machine

Cons:

  • Combo system: A little annoying to pull off when playing 2 player
  • Graphics: I wish the graphics were a little more polished looking as I am a graphics junkie.

Feed Your Console gives House of the Dead: Overkill 8.0 out of 10

Published by: SEGA
Developed by: Headstrong Games
ESRB: Mature

Review: Street Fighter IV

Platforms: xbox 360 (Reviewed), ps3

Finally, divine intervention has set in and the next installment of the Street Fighter franchise is here!! I have to admit, I have been watching this game in development for close to 2 years now, and I had very high expectations. Let me say this, this game is on FIRE! Hot. Hot. Hot. Capcom must have made a deal with the devil or something because there last few games of late and forthcoming seem just flawless and literally too good to be true (ex. Resident Evil 5, Dark Void, etc.).

Visually stunning. The intro runs maybe close to 5 minutes long and you don’t even notice because you’re just hypnotized and in disbelief that humans actually created this masterpiece (the alt’ being cylons of course)! Gameplay graphics stay true to the watercolor styling at some points we’ve seen in the promos, and at others times the characters can seem “blocky/polygonal” (think ol’ school Virtua Fighter) during character intros right before a match begins. Most of the characters when playing in Arcade mode have an additional animated mini movie clip before the match even starts. This mini clip sets up why your chosen fighter decided to enter the tournament. This was a pleasant surprise and fans of the SF anime movies will eat it up. It seems as if there will be a some other SF anime movie coming out soon separate than the one included in the collectors edition (for example, you’ll notice Abel’s movie clip is not taken from the dvd in the collector’s edition). All in all, when you look at the character designs, the new backgrounds, even the drawn in animated facial expressions as fighters get knocked around, I can’t fault this game at all on anything graphically.

It’s a fighting game. I personally don’t care too much if fighting games have plots or not, but I guess when playing through the Arcade mode it has to have “something” per character. As mentioned above, it appears each warrior was given a mini-clip of background story bringing them back to fight once more. I like it. Short, to the point, and I was able to turn off the subtitles (I loathe subtitles in games). It’s good enough, we’ll leave it at that.

Spot on controls. Somehow I found it difficult to perform certain basic moves like Ken’s fireball when they released the HD ReMix, but here with SFIV it seems the controls are a bit more forgiving. Hurricane kicks, no problem. Abel’s Ultra Super, piece of cake. In short, yes even if you were never able to pull off some of the special moves in other iterations of the SF series..you probably be able to here.

On the Average setting (in Arcade Mode), it’s pretty tough to beat some characters. I found the most frustrating to beat, C.Viper and Sagat. There were times I couldn’t even get one hit off these guys and I’m an experienced SF player. With that said, I’m going to go off on a limb here and say most likely I will never choose the Hard setting..for I have already flung my controller across the room just on the Average setting alone. So long the days of Chun Li being the cheese queen, the throne is now bestowed by Ms. Crimson Viper. Take your bow Ms. Viper, take_your_bow…

Sound wise, incredible…sometimes too loud, but depends on your surround system possibly [grin].

So far, this may be the only fault I find with this otherwise stellar game. In every attempt where I purposely try to find others to play with, I can’t. I’m constantly rejected due to a party being full or for some random reason where the reason given is rather vague. However, if I turn on the network mode..then try to play the regular Arcade mode, I’m constantly interrupted with requests!! Where were these people just a few minutes ago?!! I don’t particularly remember being able to reject a match during Arcade Network mode either. Weird, as it seems unbalanced in that sense to me.

Pros

  • Flawless gameplay and graphics.
  • Stays true to the Street Fighter legacy.
  • Love the new characters, it all fits.

Cons

  • Level of difficulty can be inconsistent at times which can lead utter frustration.
  • Online random match ups are hard to come by (in my opinion).

Feed Your Console gives Street Fighter IV: 9/10

Developer: Capcom
Genre: 2D, 3D Fighting
ESRB:Teen

Review: Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Available on PS3 and Xbox 360 (reviewed)

Resident Evil is without a doubt one of the most storied franchises ever to grace the TV. It single-handedly re-launched the “Survival Horror” genre (Alone in the Dark series was the previous game du jour) with its moody atmosphere and feelings of uneasiness when opening the iconic doors not knowing what to expect around the next corner. From the first time I booted the original Resident Evil game and watched the cheesy Full Motion Video intro I was hooked and instantly drawn in.

In the last 13 years, Resident Evil has spanned across 19 games for various gaming platforms, 3 Live-action movies, and 2 CG animated films, comic books and even paperback novels. With that much media related to the Resident Evil brand it’s easy to see this is a winning series. Without divulging too much information to save you from any spoilers, I can say that Capcom might want to look at a bit of a shakeup. Even though there’s a lot of good to say about the game, there’s equally a lot of bad.

In 2005 the powers that be changed up the series to a great deal of critical acclaim. I for one wasn’t so optimistic and actually didn’t particularly like the game. It felt too much like a baby sitting mission having to contend with the president kidnapped daughter and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a “parasite” infecting people with a level of mind control.

Resident Evil 5 looked to build on the critical successes of Resident Evil 4 and takes the series to a new locale in Africa. You take on the role of series Alum Chris Redfield and embark on the journey with his partner and newcomer Sheva Alomar, an AI or second player controlled character who’s both deadly with a gun and a damn fine looking woman. Her AI is well programmed a she always seemed to provide the right amount of cover fire, and healing when required. I never had to get angry with the game because of her or myself dying due to poor AI. Usually it was due to my own carelessness and not Sheva’s.

The game play is your basic Resident Evil fare. Aim, shoot, run, kill, survive with some minor puzzles tossed in. One of the new additions to the game is the timed action sequences. They don’t really add much to the game other than a small level of frustration when you don’t expect it and have to do it over again.

Another puzzling decision to the game was have the enemies melt away after you’ve killed them revealing either money, treasures or ammo. The treasures can be sold for money and the money can be used in a store to buy new items likes weapons, armor or even health spray. Seems like someone at Capcom was a fan of Metal Gear Solid 4s Drebin? Ammo isn’t in complete abundance, but there’s enough around to keep you relatively well armed right to the end
The graphics are spectacular. From the dusty dry towns to the wetlands and everything in between is painstakingly realistic. This truly was a labor of love on the parts of the games artists. The music and sound is what you would come to expect from the Resident Evile series. It’s moody and adds a level of intensity to the game

While I can say that I really enjoyed this game, something was missing for me. After much consideration, my best explanation is that Resident Evil 5, while it is a very good game, just didn’t feel like Resident Evil to me. The game is too bright during the day, the bad guys aren’t creepy and I just wasn’t scared once during this game. What hooked me into the series were the mass zombie hordes coming after me, the lack of ammo, the claustrophobia of the locales and the overall feeling that something was lurking around the next corner waiting to dismember me.

This is a great game, I’m just having a lot of trouble thinking about it as a Resident Evil game.

Next time: Scare us. It’s what brings us back time and time again to this series.

Pros

– Graphics and Sound
– Story – Multiplayer
– Sheva’s AI

Cons

– Strange gameplay decisions (Enemies melt into items, can’t walk with a weapons drawn at the ready state)
– Just doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil game
– No real scary moments

Feed Your Console gives Resident Evil 5: 7.5 out of 10

Review: 3 on 3 NHL Arcade

3 on 3 Hockey Arcade
3 on 3 NHL Arcade
Available on PSN $9.99 or Xbox Live! 800MS points (Xbox 360 version reviewed)

As a big NHL fan (Go Sens!), I was a little more than mildly interested in this game when it was announced and immediately tried the demo and purchased it after just 3 quick games. The game features over the top arcade NHL type action with huge hits, fast game play, power-ups and 40 of the league’s top players.

The game starts off with you picking 2 forwards, 1 defenseman and a goalie then thrusts you into the action right from the drop of the puck. The controls are simple enough for a casual gamer using just the old school button pressing controls to the more controlled scheme those familiar with real NHL series using the analog stick. You gain access to a variety of power-ups by performing bone crushing hits and they range from rocket skates to a giant sized goalie.

Bored of playing the computer? Just jump online and get some users from around the world in on the action and play in some ranked matches.

The game might be too simple for some who are used to the dizzying array of options presented in the NHL series but it provides a cure to a rainy spring day itch. With any luck, there will be a sequel allowing online 3 on 3 leagues with more venues and even more crazy power-ups. Maybe this could be included for free with NHL 2010 and available online to the non NHL purchasers for a nominal fee? What do you think EA?

As my first real casual game purchase, I’m not disappointed. I’ve had a lot of fun trash talking my friends on Live! and beating them down while doing it. If a quickie game of outlandish hockey is something you might enjoy, this is a good one for you.

Pros:

– Fast gameplay
– Crazy power-ups
– Accessible controls tailor to everyone’s tastes

Cons:

– No online leagues
– Needs more power-ups and venues

Feed Your Console gives 3 on 3 NHL Arcade: 9 out of 10

Review: Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball

Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball
Well it happened again, more free arcade games on twitter, this time – Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball – courtesy of SouthPeak Games.

The basics of the game are quite simple and very straight forward. Pick a team; Pirates, Ninjas, Robots or the gruesome Zombies. Bash the other team with the bouncing balls while avoiding the balls they throw at you. Seems easy enough right?

The 2v2 matches seemed a little to easy – sailing through with out a hitch first the Zombies pressed my ninja pair as the battled through the tombstones on a grass court. Then facing off against the robots with their slanted ramps and neon world, quickly learning the skills of a dodgeball playing ninja (pass then attack). My story then travels to the booty laden beach where arch nemesis the evil pirates sit taunting. Defeating the pirates quickly I’m rewarded with the unlockable third character and step up for my first 3v3 match, only to start over in the same 4v4 process.

Having only four levels makes this a bit of a repetitive title, but the added team members and quirky story lines provide a much needed dose of humor. This title is one that will be fun to play for a short time or when you have a number of friend over and need to get out your frustrations.

Pros:

– Easy to pick up and just play
– Funny character stories between matches
– Unlockable levels and characters

Cons:

– Repetitive sound effects
– Only four boards

Feed Your Console gives Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball: 6 out of 10

Developer: Blazing Lizard
Publisher: Gamecock
Release Date: 03/09/2008
Platform: Wii and Xbox 360 (Reviewed)