Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (X360)

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Suda 51 doesn’t just design games. He and his crew at Grasshopper Manufacture lovingly drip the paint from their imaginations onto a digital drop cloth to create some of the most unusual settings, characters, and storylines to be pressed onto plastic. In as much as their ideas ooze crazy atmospherics, the gameplay has also lived up to the technicolor rain around it.

Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest from the eclectic designer and features everything that you might expect from a high school cheerleader ripping through hordes of zombies with the decapititated head of her boyfriend talking occasional smack. Most everything, anyway, but I’ll get to that later.
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Review: Asura’s Wrath (X360)

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Asura’s Wrath is an unusual game. It’s short, at around five or six hours, and heavily scripted with Quick Time Events telling you what to do. It’s a wash of chaos, blinding colors, and cosmic explosions interrupted only by a little story daring to pause the relentless face punching it delivers.

In some ways, it’s also like a series of anime episodes complete with “to be continued” in between each act as its Unreal Engine powered leads ponder their next step before launching into even more over-the-top madness. But with as much hand holding as there is, there’s fun to be found here.
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Review: Tron – Evolution

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Tron: Evolution is the “prequel” to Tron: Legacy, Disney’s big sequel to the eighties movie that stunned crowds with its stylized idea of a world within your computer.

Evolution preps fans for the film by explaining a little of what happened since the eighties in the Tronverse making it something of a spoiler for what it reveals, but not so much that it lessens your enjoyment of the film. I still got a kick out of it and as a fan, the extra lore was great stuff.
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Review: Call of Duty – Black Ops

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If there’s one thing Call of Duty: Black Ops keeps trying to tell me, I think it’s this: War is awesome.

Real war, of course, is far from that, but Treyarch’s latest work isn’t interested in painting any solemn pictures of the realities of battle. Instead, it uses American war history as the canvas for a wild experience that warms itself in the fires of explosive action-movie theatrics.

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Review: Dead Rising 2

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By Brittany Vincent
Contributing Writer

The boys are back in town. By boys, I mean ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. And by town, I mean Fortune City. Luckily Chuck Greene, motocross superstar, is on the case.

In Dead Rising 2, the sequel to the cult hit zombie apocalypse simulator Dead Rising, Greene replaces Frank West as the Average Joe on the run from the starving undead. Yes, there are plenty of zombies, but there’s a cure floating around that can stave off the effects of zombification. It’s called Zombrex, and Katey, Chuck’s tiny daughter, is in dire need of a dose every 24 hours lest she degrade into a shambling monstrosity herself.

In a world where zombie rights groups advocate fair treatment of zombies and pharmaceutical companies are profiting off the suffering of the people, this isn’t exactly an easy feat. It’s up to players to keep Katey fully dosed with Zombrex as the poignant father-daughter team anxiously tries to withstand, you guessed it, a 72-hour period before help arrives.
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Review: Enslaved – Odyssey to the West

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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West feels like something I’d have seen in a movie theater and enjoyed. Perhaps that’s the point Ninja Theory, its creator, is trying to make.

The fusion of techniques from the movie world into the creation of games has been a long-pursued subject. Gamemakers have always sought ways to make their works feel more epic or artistic. Some games offer cinematic treatment to their cutscenes, while others blast your ears with high-end sound engineering or dramatic musical scores. Some use their characters as the engine for the whole experience.

Enslaved attempts to do all of the above, using a blend of glorious visuals, exquisite voicework/character development and action, hoping the player will be too busy enjoying the ride to notice any shortcomings.
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Review: Medal of Honor (X360)

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When Call of Duty first set out to take on EA’s Medal of Honor series in 2003, few would have guessed at the time that the ‘me too’ WW2 shooter would not only go on to trounce its rival but evolve expectations on what an FPS can deliver – especially online. Reinventing itself as Modern Warfare, the series then became something of a benchmark by which any contender to the throne purchased with the pixelized blood of countless Nazis and enemy mercenaries would be graded against.

But that didn’t stop EA from resurrecting the Medal of Honor series with a reboot, one that ripped its content from today’s headlines by taking players to Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda as a Tier 1 Operator. For longtime fans, that’s not so far from when it had started out as Allied Assault on PCs years ago before devolving its formula into boss characters and floating icons.
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Review: Metroid – Other M

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Samus Aran isn’t supposed to need anyone. Ever since she let her hair down decades ago in one of gaming’s watershed moments (“what? Samus is a girl?”), she has been the quiet and revered standard-bearer for strong, female lead characters. She needed no rescuing and wasn’t prone to inner monologues about stars, life or making people happy. She didn’t wish for love or try to counter her femininity by acting macho.

Basically, she was just damn good in that awesome, alien-killing armor of hers.

At least, that’s what I and others want to believe — some of this imagery, in a way, is our fault. With other female lead characters grunting, bouncing their chests and splattering bits of sex appeal on everyone’s screens, many fans who’ve known Samus since the original Metroid have crafted a mental ideal around her minimalist nature. With her cloudy past, abundance of weapons and gadgets and her reputation as a bonafide ass kicker, she’s almost like an intergalactic Batman.

And this is where Metroid: Other M becomes both a satisfying and confusing experience. The gameplay says one thing about this legendary heroine, while the storytelling says something completely different — and sad. Team Ninja succeeds in taking Samus to new action heights, but I can’t shake the feeling that the mystique that made Samus so appealing in the past has been damaged.
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Review: Mafia II

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By Brittany Vincent
Contributing Writer

I’ve spent plenty of time with Grand Theft Auto, inFAMOUS, and other similar excursions — except I’ve done nothing but harm innocent pedestrians and wreck countless cars while racking up an indeterminable amount of property damage. As a result, I didn’t bother to finish them.

The reason Mafia II works for me was because it was nothing like the go-anywhere-and-do-anything romp I assumed it would be. Like its predecessor, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven (one of the few similar games I did complete and a fantastic play), it’s a scathing, disturbing, and at times decidedly stereotypical look at the lengths one man will go to make money, build a better life, and most importantly, a name for himself.

It’s not perfect. Many may call its refusal to stray from its central narrative a weak point. But it spins one of the most gripping dramas I’ve seen in quite a while.
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Review: Shank

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Shank is a game you play with beer, chips and a dumb grin on your face, the kind of grin you get when the hero’s sole responsibility is leaving a trail of kicked asses in his wake.

Such is the simple, barbaric pleasure in Klei Entertainment’s short offering to the beat-em-up genre.

It’s an artistic, bloody and whimsical exploration of the art of thug killing, carrying hints of films like “Desperado” or “Kill Bill” and merging them with the essence of side-scrolling attack-a-thons like the 8-bit Ninja Gaiden. It’s simple, brutal and joyfully un-epic fun.
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