Review: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

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Remember what Yogi Berra said about the feeling of “deja vu all over again?”

Check this out: Capcom released Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds in February. The game appeared in stores after a long wait for a retail MvC release, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: A New of Heroes, came out for the Sega Dreamcast (!) in 2000, with the game later being ported over to other consoles.

But it’s Capcom’s style to release multiple hard copy versions of the same game, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a November release adding twelve new fighters, eight new stages and at least in this reviewer’s experience, an improved online mode. While playing the “Ultimate” version, I didn’t have to wait as long to lose.

Tech-Out liked the the first version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for being a game that is for newcomers to pick up and enjoy, but complicated enough for fighting game connoisseurs to appreciate. And of course, the quick, colorful ADD-like gameplay and comic art inspired visuals are also points in Ultimate’s favor.

Capcom’s practice of releasing multiple versions of the same game is starting to get weird, however. Capcom waited more than a full year between retail versions of Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV and finally, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. But with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there’s only a nine month wait and the game hit stores in the middle of a very competitive holiday release period. Despite its merits, this is a game that could easily be lost in the shuffle.

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Review: Starfox 64: 3D

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Star Fox 64 3D is a decent remake that like Nintendo’s remake of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, offers cleaner graphics and few tweaked controls to a popular Nintendo 64 title.

In the case of Star Fox 64, the new Nintendo 3DS version features gyroscopic controls that let players control their star fighter by moving their 3DS handheld itself instead of using traditional controls. Otherwise, the game is basically the same as the original version, and ace pilot Star Fox is still teamed up with a rabbit, falcon and toad who fly at his side in an interplanetary war.

And yes, Slippy Toad will still advise Fox to “do a barrel roll.” The Internet is eternally grateful for that line.

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Review: Mario Kart 7

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Mario Kart 7 may not be the most essential release of the year, but it’s a fun diversion that carries on the ridiculous traditions of the Mario Kart franchise to the Nintendo 3DS handheld.

For anyone who has somehow avoided the first six games in the Mario Kart franchise, the game places characters in the role of Super Mario characters (I like Donkey Kong) who race against each other in absurdly cute vehicles on silly tracks inspired by levels in various Mario games as well as other Nintendo games.

And, of course, everybody cheats. Mario Kart has always combined cuteness with anarchy, as competition means attacking your opponents with turtle shells, fireballs, ink-shooting squids and more weapons. The arsenal still includes the notorious blue shell, an advanced Mario Kart weapon that targets and hits whoever is in first place. Is it fair? Of course not, but what is?

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Review, Part One: The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Nintendo Wii is a worthy addition to the beloved Zelda franchise. In some in some ways, especially its emphasis on motion controls, release is one of 2011′s most ambitious games, although other elements of the title show Nintendo is not keeping up with current trends in game design.

The game’s positive aspects far outweigh its minor disappointments. At its best, Skyward Sword is a triumph of visual design and a game that delivers the most visceral combat experiences of any Zelda title. What causes the game to fall just short of greatness, at least in its early parts, are moments of outdated gameplay and occasional frustrations with the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls.

This review covers the experience of playing the opening stages of Skyward Sword. This reviewer will write a second review after completing the storyline.

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Review: Battlefield 3

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By Neil Nisperos

I don’t think there’s any shooter out right now that can surpass the
detail and depth of gameplay delivered by DICE’s new Battlefield 3.

While the solo-mode suffers from a rather boring and
uninvolving plot, the graphics and play are truly stunning and keep you
coming back for more.
But it’s the multi-player mode that serves the real meat and potatoes of this game and it’s well worth the price of admission.

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Review: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

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“Ace Combat: Assault Horizon” is an enjoyable title, but one that feels as if it could have been much better.

Project Aces, the development team behind previous Ace Combat titles,
achieved mixed results in their attempt to reinvent the Ace Combat series. At its best, Assault Horizon offers an arcade-style flight game with just enough simulator-esque touches to let aircraft enthusiasts imagine they are piloting one of several military jets.

At its worst, however, Assault Horizon suffers from an all-too-obvious attempt to abandon the franchise’s identity in order to imitate Michael Bay-style movie making. In other words, explosions, flashy visuals and loud noises take too much precedence over suspense, drama and personality.

The upshot is that Assault Horizon may please gamers who are hungry for a flight-themed title, but is unlikely to emerge as a must-have during a highly-competitive holiday release season.

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Review: NBA 2K12

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NBA 2K12 is a testament, in video game form, to America’s love of professional basketball. Perhaps more than any other sports video game*, 2K Sports’ latest offering shows a respect and love for its source material that most other titles do not match.

And given the labor troubles afflicting the NBA this season, NBA 2K12 may be the only way basketball fans will be able to enjoy the professional game for a long time. That makes it a little harder to decide if NBA 2K12 is a “must buy” for the fan and his or her hard-earned $60.

On the “pro” side, NBA 2K12 offers a quality single-player experience and by featuring a dozens of NBA legends in its “NBA’s Greatest” mode, 2K Sports offers a worthy successor to 2K11′s “Jordan Challenge” feature and thus has probably done more than any other developer to make annual sports titles feel like a worthwhile experience.

On the “con” side, real-life business issues mean consumers may not be able to use this year’s game as a mirror for the real-life NBA for several weeks, if at all.

A die-hard NBA fan who is most interested in the opportunity to play as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or any of the other all-time greats featured in the game will probably get his or her money’s worth from NBA 2K12. But someone who wants to play online matchups with current NBA rosters will be disappointed. It may not be fair that a real-life labor dispute between NBA players and owners may reduce the game’s value, but that’s life.

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Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

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(This version of the review is edited from the initial version posted on July 5.)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D recaptures everything that was so great about the game’s original 1998 release, making its 3D version a healthy dose of nostalgia for those who first enjoyed the game 13 years ago.

Nintendo first released Ocarina of Time in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. Its new Nintendo 3DS version features not only 3D visuals, but improved character models, more detailed environments and refined controls that add freshness to a nearly 13-year-old title.

The new release also includes the more difficult “Master Quest” and a new feature allowing players to replay boss battles.

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L.A. Noire reviewed

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“If you think the atmosphere is thick in here, wait until you try the gas chamber.”
Det. Rusty Galloway, LAPD

L.A. Noire, in some of its best and most grim moments, is a title that reminds players that homicide is a part of American life.

Crime scene after crime scene, L.A. Noire forces players to confront the consequences of violence. In the role of Los Angeles Police Department detective Cole Phelps, players must examine the bodies of the dead and pursue their killers. The investigations can be a slow and deliberate process, and in playing Phelps’ part, players must try to think like a detective as they sift through clues and interview witnesses and suspects.

In this writer’s opinion, the question of whether games can be art is not a matter of if, but how. In L.A. Noire, developers and publishers Team Bondi and Rockstar Games, have put together an attractive game with top-notch voice acting and story that usually hits the right marks. All that can be achieved in cinema, and L.A. Noire’s storyline could have easily been written as a solid detective drama.

But despite being screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, L.A. Noire is not a movie and its merits as a work of art must be considered as a function of its merits as a video game. As such, if a work of art can be assessed in its ability to make its audience feel an emotional response or fire their own imaginations, L.A. Noire succeeds as a game and art by giving its players an opportunity to imagine what it is like to investigate a murder.


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Review: Thor – God of Thunder (X360)

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Movie tie-in games are a staple of the industry along with the notoriety that they often bear as quick cash-ins. Not every movie gets one, though whenever one is made, it’s usually greeted with a mixture of dread and fear by those that know their reputation. Exceptions to the rule are rare. The hope that the next project might break the curse also often disappears almost as quickly as the game does into the bargain bin.

Thor: God of Thunder from Liquid Entertainment tries to shatter that reputation, building on the excitement surrounding the film. Yet even for the mighty Nordic godling empowered by Marvel heroism, it proves to be a fight even he can’t win.
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