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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Preview: Devil May Cry 4


Devil May Cry 4 (2008)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 3
Purchase Date: 02/11/2008

The DMC series has its ups and downs. Its strength has always been the maniacal fast-paced action that should be considered as nothing less than epic, mostly involving the game's hero Dante swinging his big sword and blasting his guns at a plethora of demonic creatures. As manic as the action gets, the games have never been a button masher. It takes a lot of skill to get stylish points and to successfully venture through the games' highly demanding difficulties - something that Capcom apparently treated as a problem that needed to be fixed since this one is relatively easy.


The installation screen: nice and naughty at the same time.

When you first start the game, you have to install some 4.9GB of game files into your HDD. With PC game installation being extremely fast these days, it is still disappointing that you have to wait around 20 minutes just to get those measly amount of data into the console. Capcom added a nice slideshow of the game's history during the installation but it only lasted for a short time before repeating itself. A nice try to make the long wait somewhat more bearable. What is more baffling is that even though you have the data installed, there are still loading screens everywhere in the game. I heard overall the game loads faster than the X-Box 360 version but come on, justify that wait time with something more impressive.


The game looks hot!

Though Dante is in the game, the real hero here is Nero who can be described as the angst-ridden, still witty but less cheesy version of Dante. He is a part of an organization called "Order of the Swords" and the game begins with a brutal demonic invasion against the order while introducing a shameless love story amidst the chaos. It is Nero's duty to find the source of the attack and stop it for good. Nero brings a different tone to the game: so far it feels a bit more like a teenage drama than the tongue-in-cheek cheese that the previous games were before. The character models are stunning across the board and I love their real time use in the gorgeously choreographed cinemas. At a time when every video game wants to have that open ended feel - this even infected the new Burnout Paradise - it is nice to see DMC4 sticks to its roots and the game is still segmented by missions that can be replayed at your leisure. It is a shame that Sony lost this as an exclusive because it could have been a major system seller for them.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Version Note: Played both downloadable demos and I found
this version to have noticeably sharper textures than the X-Box 360.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Preview: Burnout Paradise


Burnout Paradise (2008)
Developer: Criterion Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Purchase Date: 02/11/2008

The Burnout games have been my favorite racing series of all time with its trademark spectacular crashes and high speed arcade action. When I downloaded the demo, I was shocked to see it move to the free roaming format. Gone are the select screens where you choose which race you want to partake in. Instead, you have to roam an entire virtual city to trigger the different racing options available.


Paradise City is huge and beautiful.

The free roaming gameplay works well because there are always something for you to do at every turn of each street: You enter the races and a variation of events by stopping by the traffic lights scattered around town and pressing the brakes and accelerate buttons at the same time. There are also secret jumps to find and things to crash into all over the place. The graphics are what you would expect from a Burnout game - bright, beautiful, and shiny at all the right places. Gone though are the more exotic locations you could find in the predecessors since you are stuck in one big city. The varying themes between the different segments of the map are just too familiar and lack originality.


With more flying parts than ever before!

I found the crashes here somewhat disappointing compared to the rest of the series... At the very moment of impact, the camera changes to a different angle instantly as it focuses on the immediate area of damage in dramatic slow-mo. You can now see detailed, miniscule crunches on the doomed vehicles' bodies, which is of course morbidly exciting, but this sudden camera change actually detracts from the experience because it makes you feel like you are just watching instead of partaking in the crash. In the previous games, panning effects were used to keep the player's perspective intact and I only experience a few of those here. The same happens when you jump a gap - the camera would cut to a more dramatic perspective and the sense of playing is replaced with the passiveness of watching the game.

At least the arcade thrills and the authentic sense of speed are still here. As an added depth, memorizing the big map's layout is rewarding since you can use your knowledge of shortcuts to gain advantage over your opponents. In between the game's many goals, I have found myself distracted by the city's allure as I found myself mostly driving along the road, enjoying the breathtaking view surrounding me.

FIRST IMPRESSION - 3 out of 5

Version Note: Played both dowloadable demos and I found this
version to have slightly better lighting effects than the X-Box 360.

Review: Mass Effect

Mass Effect (2007)
Developer: BioWare Corp.
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 11/21/2007

Let me start off by saying that when you are reading reviews about highly-anticipated games like Mass Effect, you have to be selective about how you proceed with such an activity. When looking up game reviews, I often skip paragraphs and pay attention mostly to the categorized final scores to get a general sense of how a game is evaluated. This is especially true for big releases because they often get the reviewers a bit hyped, mentioning big revelations in the process to really entice your interest in the games. The reason why I mentioned this is because late last year, after I completed Mass Effect, I picked up my December issue of Play Magazine and found out that the review within contained a huge number of plot elements that are best discovered by the players on their own. Knowing these things will take away a lot of the actual freshness of the players' experience. With that said, I am a believer that a review should really focus on the overall experience of playing the game instead of dissecting everything that is needed to be known about the game. Thus, you will not find spoilers here.


An adventure that will take you to the farthest reaches of the galaxy!

Mass Effect is completely engrossing. It's the year 2183 and you play as an Alliance Commander summoned to assist with a seemingly routine mission on board the Normandy, a prototype ship, to collect an object from a human inhabited planet. From that point forward, the storyline expands into a sci-fi epic of galactic proportions. In your adventure, you will meet interesting characters, humans and aliens. You will learn the historical and current state of the galaxy and where humanity stands within its hierarchy. Mass Effect contains a mature storyline and it presents a number of interesting concepts about how life is perceived when analyzed in a scope grander than the constraints of Earth. Throughout your adventure, you may also be quite attached to your playable crew members because they are well fleshed out in terms of their unique personalities.


Decisions, decisions...

The game is fully voice-acted and the main characters are voiced to perfection with Raphael Sbarge and Seth Green being the bests out of the crowd. The variety of voices used for the supporting casts have made the game immune to the generic feel that plagued the characters found in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I just love RPGs that do not require you to read conversations and this should be something that other RPGs need to strive for. The game contains a great soundtrack that fits the varying moods of the game as well. The decisions you have to make during the interactive conversations determine your alignment between "Paragon" and "Renegade". They can be translated as "lawful" and "unlawful". As mesmerizing as the conversations are, BioWare could have made the decisions more complex, subtle, and less obvious in their intentions. There are some genuinely cringe-inducing moments where you will be torn in making your decisions - it is unfortunate that there are not many of these moments in the game.



I'd play the game again just to drool over the graphics.

The one major thing that will immediately grab your attention when you first start your game is the graphics. To date, this is the best looking game I have ever seen. The film grain filter really helps - it is like you are watching a movie, though this effect can be disabled. The polygon count on each character is insane. The game captures the futuristic feel perfectly with modern looking internal and external structures from the expected flying traffic to the floating monitor screens scattered all over the place. Things are not so flattering when you land on non-civilized planets even though there is no pop-up in the draw distance and you can see clearly as far as the eyes can see. Little details like grass and jagged terrains do help make these occasions less flat and more inspired. The pristine graphical fidelity does come with a price: when the game loads a new area or even when the camera angles change, often time the polygons are left un-textured for a few seconds while the information is completely uploaded. This happens even during important cut scenes and can make the game look a bit ugly for a brief moment of time. There is also a bit of a slowdown though this is not as bad as I have heard others said it was. It doesn't bother me and it is hardly noticeable when you are looking at something this pretty right in front of you.


Each planet has its own descriptive analysis and history.

Mass Effect is a role playing game with the elements of a third person shooter and this combination works really well. It primarily uses the dodge shoot gameplay mechanics as seen in the popular Gears of War. Though it is a lot of fun to experiment with, it's also a little too easy. You can bring only 2 team members with you at a time and they are AI controlled. Throughout the game, I only provided them directions on the special moves to use and that seemed to be enough. Most of the time, they would often die suddenly because they were not very smart about leaving their cover at the appropriate time. You gain experience from fighting, discovering items, and completing quests. When you level up, you can have access to a multitude of customizable options for your characters ranging from damage resistance to the increase of damages dealt. When you completed the game, you can use the same character to play through it again with your current level intact. This is a nice little option to have but I am sure that many would prefer creating another unique Commander Shepard to start the game anew.


Exploring planets on the Mako is cool but the control is a bit loose.

Is the game perfect? No, it is not. I wish it was longer - I finished the game in about 40 hours, completing what I think is all of the available missions. I wish there were more impacts and alterations caused by the player's actions. I hate to think that it is a part of a trilogy because I hate waiting to play through a series this promising. Several places in the game feel rushed and inconsistent in the way the minimal loading time is handled - for an example, you would normally ride an elevator seamlessly as it takes you from one floor to another but there are instances when the game fades out, loads, then fades back in to the new location. Overall, this is best game on the X-Box 360 for 2007 and I enjoyed every minute I spent on it. I ended up being a full "Paragon" so I want to play the game again and experience how it feels to be a "Renegade". The fact that I am excited about going through the game again is a testament to Mass Effect's success.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time

"Video Games", as many call it, is a progressive, abstract, and interactive kind of art. It is interesting to see where this experience is going to lead us in the future. These thoughts brought me to examine my video game experiences thus far. It's been expansive, eye opening, and entertaining to say the least. Has it always been about the graphics or the gameplay? A combination of both maybe? Perhaps it is deeper than those two factors, an antithesis, a self-referentiality? I asked myself, what would be the ten greatest games I have ever played? This list will be updated as I encounter worthy titles through my continuing video gaming journey... [Latest Update: 05/03/2015]


---10---
IKARUGA (2002)
Developer: Treasure
Platform: Dreamcast/Personal Computer/X-Box 360
Induction Dates: 2002 (DC) - 02/18/2014 (PC) - 04/09/2008 (X360)


Director Hiroshi Iuchi has crafted many masterpieces - don't be surprised if another one of his creations pops up later on this list - and Ikaruga deserves a spot as one of the best shooters ever. The game focuses on one simple gameplay mechanic - the ship's ability to switch colors between black and white where it is only susceptible to destruction when it comes in contact with the opposite colored enemy shots. The game is designed around this concept as it is expanded and stretched from all the different angles and corners of the imagination. Some of the later stages require the player to enter a state of total gaming nirvana to survive unscathed between the dual-polarity patterns. Story-wise (omitted from the U.S. Gamecube version), the game explored the notion of freedom and sacrifice with such heart-wrenching gusto that it is promised to shock you during its fatal ending. Hiroshi Iuchi also showed his musical creativity with a harrowing orchestral soundtrack he beautifully composed for the game that never lets up from start to finish. This will be a worthy repurchase when it comes to X-Box Live just for the fact that you don't have to rotate your screen to get the game to run in its full resolution! [Note 04/09/2008: It was a worthy repurchase!]


---9---
CULDCEPT SAGA (2008)
Developer: Omiya Soft
Platform: X-Box 360
Induction Date: 02/15/2008


Culdept Saga is a deep magic card battle game that is further elevated by its clever usage of a Monopoly-ish board game setup. There are so many beautiful cards to collect and they are randomly awarded after the end of each match based on their rarity. The combination of both strategy from customizing a deck filled with limited amount of cards to bring to battle combined with luck from the draw of cards at the beginning of each round as well as sheer experimentation guarantees a highly involving experience every time the game is played. There is no ultimate strategy when it comes to deck management and after seeing the high variation of card combinations while playing the story mode, playing the game online revealed some deviously clever deck builds from some of the more experienced players. If you have to own one Culdcept, Saga is the definitive version to pick up but why limit the fun when you can also pick up the U.S. PlayStation 2 release?


---8---
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS (2005)
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 2
Induction Date: 10/20/2005



Here we have a game that is going to be remembered for trying to achieve something new, bold, as well as different and succeeded in its overall delivery. It starts off with a simple set up - the hero is trying to revive his dead damsel and the only way he can cheat death is to take her to a ancient, magical land and kill off 16 colossi that inhabit the area. They must individually be located within the vast landscape - without any loading time between travels! The game is a marvelous accomplishment both in its uncompromising, artistic direction and technical wizardry. I can still remember the sense of awe and amazement I felt when I first saw the first colossus with its majestic, overwhelming presence and the flock of birds flying above its head. The battles are epic yet the story is minimalist in its approach and ambiguous in its moral, creating a mystical, mysterious tone to the experience. It is ironic how the soundtrack changes into an adventurous tone when you're able to stab a colossus' weak spot but then its death is greeted with somber and regret.


---7---
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY'S REQUIEM (2002)
Developer: Silicon Knights
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Induction Date: 06/25/2002



The fact that it is the first fully matured psychological horror fest for a Nintendo console should place it on any top ten lists. Of course, this masterpiece is more than a showcase of disgusting gore and disturbing concepts. Through some truly clever writing and artsy execution, the game is a story of the manipulation of humanity by the ancient Gods. Spanning across multiple locations and timelines, we see the lives and deaths of those unfortunate enough to cross the paths of these beings. Dramatic in its scope, the story unfolds with shocking discoveries and revelations, further exemplifying the desperation of humanity despite its valiant martyrdoms. To further heighten the feeling of dread throughout the game, a "sanity system" was implemented into the gameplay. When the sanity meter of the player drops, unexplainable and creepy things begin to happen on the screen, guaranteed to disturb and startle anyone because they are so visually inventive and deceptive.


---6---
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MAJORA'S MASK (2000)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 64
Induction Date: 2000


No top 10 list would be complete without a game from the talented people at Nintendo. Though many would disagree, Majora's Mask is better than Ocarina of Time because of its ability to manipulate the contents of the original into a whole new different creature. Sporting a much more mature storyline involving the end of the world where a menacing moon is on a collision course for Hyrule, Majora's Mask gains the benefit of perverse nostalgia for its self-references to the previous game. The game's structure involves Link having to repeatedly travel back in time and relive the 3 last days leading towards the catastrophe. All of Hyrule's inhabitants go about their separate lives progressively over the timeline and figuring out their secrets and patterns becomes part of the solution to the epic mystery. Adding to the tense and brooding atmosphere, Link discovers different masks that he can wear that transform him into different creatures. For that final touch of classic Nintendo moment, each transformation is preceded with Link screaming in horrific agony as his physical being is altered - interesting.


---5---
NIGHTS: INTO DREAMS... (1996)
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: Personal Computer/SegaSaturn
Induction Date: 08/18/1996



Before they committed the sins against humanity with the recent 3D offerings of the Sonic Adventure series and the sequel to this classic, Sonic Team used to know how to create masterpieces. The original Nights is their grand opus, featuring addictive rail-based "free" flying gameplay mechanics, Freudian sensibility, mesmerizing "Cybersound" technology that remixes soundtracks with every play, a mini "pet" game where dream dwellers can be uniquely altered through clever gameplay tweaks, and some of the most unique boss battles in gaming history. Oh, it also contains a theme song that actually doesn't suck! The focus of the game is to find the best ways to manipulate the time spent as "Nights" on each section of the dream stages and collect as many orbs as possible to beat previous score performances. The boss battles are also timed to fit the overall theme. Nights was bundled with the first analogue controller, which is still one of the best controllers ever made, and the first console game ever to utilize such technology. I remember playing this one constantly over a period of two years.


---4---
VALKYRIE PROFILE (2000)
Developer: Enix
Platform: PlayStation
Induction Date: 08/31/2000



Valkyrie Profile is memorable for containing the saddest, most bleakly depressing story ever told in a video game. Throughout the game, I sometimes wonder if such an extreme was necessary to evoke the desired connection to the adventure. The player takes the role of Lenneth, a Valkyrie sent down to earth to recruit souls of brave warriors to be sent to Valhalla in preparation for the battle of the Gods while trying the figure out the mystery of her own existence. The only catch is, these warriors have to die first and yes, they all died some terribly tragic deaths. The player gets to experience lengthy introductions to each of the many, many characters that can be recruited and learn about their lives' desires and struggles, and the detailed ongoing leading towards their lurid fate - no one deserves to die the deaths prescribed here. In addition to the mature, challenging storyline, the mix of platforming elements, strategy, and elimination of random battles further pushed the final product forward as one of the most polished games ever made. The opening scenario itself had scarred me for life - I am still very perturbed that it got a "T" rating.


---3---
HEROES OF THE STORM (2015)
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: Personal Computer
Induction Date: 02/19/2015


It may have taken Blizzard too long of a time to officially enter the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre but the wait has been worth it. Instead of a mere mimic to the original Dota formula, which in itself was a mod of their own Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Blizzard has meticulously designed Heroes of the Storm with original elements to make it THE ultimate of all past and future MOBAs. There may not be that many champions in the game yet but even at this time but what's there are varied and some are well known characters taken from Blizzy's game franchises. But what has truly made this the best MOBA to date is its modernization of character leveling and progression. You don't have to worry about "buying items" from a store to illogically attach to your heroes (boots on serpentine heroes?) and instead, you choose talents on the fly. Then, there are also the varied maps, each with their own objectives and themes. I plan to play this for a very long time and I can only see continued greatness as the game receives even more heroes and maps.


---2---
RADIANT SILVERGUN (1998)
Developer: Treasure
Platform: SegaSaturn /X-Box 360
Induction Date: 07/26/2002 (SS) - 09/14/2011 (X360)



Utilizing what seems to be the maxed-out power of the SegaSaturn that Sega themselves could never dream of, director Hiroshi Iuchi created the most brilliant, technical, thought-provoking, and beautiful space shooter that is light years ahead of its competition even to this date. The core of the game is its emphasis in mastering 6 available weapons the ship is equipped with to successfully navigate through the game's genuinely ingenious enemy patterns and events. The game is constructed around boss battles after boss battles. Each boss is amazingly complex and the battle with "Penta" is easily the most epic boss battle in the history of the genre not only due to its nostalgic storyline revelation but also due to the artistic direction of having the entire screen rotating 360-degrees over a devastated landscape and somber-looking grey skies as it showers the player's ship mercilessly with bullets. The sound effects are beefy and the background music screams out with brilliant, organic tension. To complete the experience, a philosophical storyline that involves the desperation of family and friendship, humanity's ignorance, and one ultimate time travel. It starts out rather comedic but it gets pitch black and apocalyptical as the story unfolds. Radiant Silvergun is a pure masterpiece to be treasured forever. [Note: 09/14/2011 - The X-Box 360 re-release is the best version of the game. No need to find the original SegaSaturn version anymore.]


---1---
XENOGEARS (1998)
Developer: Squaresoft
Platform: PlayStation
Induction Date: 1998



Because of the linearity of its design, here's a video game that uses the basic RPG gameplay progression and changes it into an extreme art. The human/robot turn based battle mechanic is fun but what drives this one into the number one slot is its perfectly directed presentation and high philosophy. The narrative follows the story of a conflicted man named Fei as he delves deeper and deeper into his past as the world around him collapses into the devastation of an escalating war. The game in itself is a long ride, clocking way into the 80+ hours, and it is packed with story details that could easily make those unprepared for the journey lost in its heavy literary references that are biblical, Freudian, and philosophical in nature. The story explores what it means to be human and the flaws in our "design" as we keep repeating our past tragedies. It explores the notion of reincarnation by genes passed through previous generations and the prevalence of memory. It dwells into the secrets behind human's obsessions with religions and the origin of such programming. It's very, very deep stuff that can easily offend those with a closed mind - It's a miracle that it made it to the United States against all odds. Xenogears is art in its highest form and it is tragic that the sequels - the Xenosaga series - are just pale in comparison.


---10 Honorable Mentions---
Banjo-Kazooie (1998) - Nintendo 64
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2003) - PlayStation 2
Gunstar Heroes (1993) - Genesis, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) - Nintendo 64
Silent Hill 2 - PlayStation 2
Sonic & Knuckles - Genesis, Personal Computer
Suikoden III (2002) - PlayStation 2
Super Mario Galaxy (2007) - Nintendo Wii
Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) - Nintendo GameCube
Thunder Force V (1997) - SegaSaturn

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Power Up!

Ever since I installed the ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition on my motherboard about 2 years ago, I started experiencing an irritating yet inconsistent problem of the PC shutting down in the middle of a game, especially when some wicked special effects were filling up the screen. Though maddening, it never really bothered me at all. About a month ago, the problem had worsened where my PC would just restart almost every 15 minutes while I was playing World of Warcraft. I had to reduce the graphics setting to make the PC stabilize a bit more but this solution really did not make much sense the fact that WoW is not that graphically demanding of a game. I consulted a couple of friends who agreed that I should change the power supply for my PC for it was probably struggling to keep up with the now outdated graphics card all this time. After browsing through several websites, I ordered one from Tigerdirect.com and it arrived on Monday.


It came in a really big box!

My old power supply claims to be 380W but I really doubt that it was even that juiced up. I decided to go with 600W so that I can be as future-proof as possible without having to worry about spending too much cash: as if that is even possible in the realm of PC gaming... I got the Ultra XFinity 2G that has an "after spin" technology that I thought was pretty cool - it allows your PC fans to still run for a couple of minutes after your PC is turned off to ensure that everything is properly cooled off.


Never allow some crazy looking wires to intimidate you!

Component installations on the PC are really all plug and play but many people still treat them like rocket science. Still, I am very particular about making sure that everything is installed perfectly thus I normally send for my IT Technician friend to do all the dirty work for me. This time, I got a bit impatient. Just the previous night, the PC started to shut down as soon as I logged into WoW, which was beyond ridiculous and I just wanted to get the whole thing taken care of. So I pried open the case and after about half an hour, it was all done.


Before...


After!

When I finally turned the PC back on, it wouldn't start! The PC would boot up but nothing was showing on the screen. It was also beeping, which I found a bit disturbing. That lead into an hour of me plugging and unplugging cables without a hint of success. I thought that I had accidentally ruined my motherboard and it scared me a little. When my IT friend came over and looked at it, he discovered that my RAMs where not properly plugged in. I remembered dislocating them while I was positioniong the power supply in but I thought I already inserted them back into their respective slots. I had a good laugh out of that.

So how is my PC doing so far? Well, since Monday I have not encountered any problems whatsoever. I tried several games at maximum settings and the PC didn't even flinch. One game that I know for certain would normally kill it is a maxed out Heroes of Might and Magic V and the PC even survived that. All is well! Now if only I could afford a couple of the latest Nvidia cards since I am powered up and all...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Preview: Endless Ocean


Endless Ocean (2008)
Developer: Arika
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Purchase Date: 02/08/2008

It is strange what the Wii can do to a "casual experience" game like Endless Ocean. It has gotten great reviews from the press when its previous incarnation Everblue 2 for the PlayStation 2 was a complete flop in the eyes of many industry critics. It is in its core the same game. Since the Wii is so mainstream now, even something as uniquely oddball as this game becomes synonymous with that expectation. Since this is a good sign that people are more adventurous and accepting of different video gaming genres, who am I to complain?


Swim freely in the ocean without getting eaten by a great white!

With Hayley Westenra's Prayer as the theme song of the game, you know that Arika is very serious about making this game a relaxing experience. There is a languid, lazy feel to the game where all you really do is jump into the ocean to view the sea life below and go back to your boat to gather yourself before the next dive. You get quests from the email messages retrieved from the boat but you can choose to complete them at your own leisure. There seems to be a catch to this though as the more you complete these quests, the more additional features are unlocked in the game.


You can stay under the water as long as your oxygen supply allows.

The game can be played online. Too bad Wii's friend code system really makes it hard for you to jump in at anytime you want and swim with someone who happens to be online at the moment. On the deck, there is an option to listen to mp3 files that are saved into the SD card, a brilliant addition to the game. Graphically, this is a great show of what the Wii is capable of. The underwater environment is realistic; I cannot wait to encounter the larger creatures on my future visits. The game hints that the sea life that can be found changes depending on the in-game time and seasons. A promising title that has a subtle way of getting you to play more, especially if you like to discover things for yourself.


The best description of the game.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Preview: No More Heroes


No More Heroes (2008)
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Purchase Date: 02/03/2008

Played it for a number of hours and it is pretty fun. I heard the European version is going to be stripped of all the gallons and gallons of blood spurts and spatters and that would suck big time. The greatness of the volcanic blood explosions when you mercilessly cut up your enemies have to be seen to be believed! This is of course a cheesy yet delicious common sight in many Japanese movies and games. No More has a weird premise where you play a perverted guy who wants to be the number 1 top assassin of the world. It's like Kill Bill on crack but with less self-absorbed philosophical ramblings, a punk sensibility, and a more demented edge.


I wish there was more freedom to move in real time around the room...

The first half hour puts you straight into the action as you fight your way through a mansion full of goons to kill and a very cool boss battle at the end. As you are fighting this boss, you hear the character's rationale in a resonating, lengthy monologue - Genius! Then... It is Grand Theft Auto-lite as you travel around the city on your bike and play mini games and assassination missions to gain enough money to gain access to the next big target. This portion of the game bores me a bit. I hope it kicks into high gear again soon.


Why is it that almost every game has to have a GTA-vibe these days?

FIRST IMPRESSION: 3 out of 5