27 January 2013

Review: Eternal Darkness (Gamecube)

Get Eternal Darkness they said. A teriffic horror game for the Gamecube they promised. Well, I can not resist a good horror game since it is one of my all time favourite genres - and so I purchased Eternal Darkness a few years ago. But I did not really got around to playing it until just recently.

In all honesty the game did not really click with me. It definitely had its moments but I would not recommend it to neither horror fan nor the average gamer. But I still think it is a worthy game to keep non the less. I will try to explain. Eternal Darkness is by far the most original horror game of its time I'd say. It has got the traditional third person view with a lot of puzzles, maps and the twist which in this instance would be the magic. Yes, you are able to cast spells in this game. We'll get to this in a bit.

The game centers around a huge mansion where your grandfather lived. Your whole family tree is a mishmash of historically important persons to this fight against the eternal darkness that threatens the world, and you get to read about your relatives adventures in pages you find scattered all over the mansion. When you read about something, you re-live it and have to fight your way through riddles and labyrinth until you reach the end of that particular journal and return to the mansion, which acts as sort of a hub between these adventures.

Since there is a lot of magic going on there is also a lot of fiddling around with the menus, because there is only so many spells you can assign to the buttons. The map is constantly being brought up because every site you visit is immense and there is even more reasons to go into the menus that I will not go into detail about here due to slight spoilers. Needless to say, there is a lot of poking around in the menus which will get somewhat tiresome in the long run.

One of the game's absolute peaks for me as an experience is the way it plays with that it in fact is a game. From out of nowhere, it seemingly restarts. You get the boot up sequence thrown in your face, you get blue screens, your limbs fall off... And then it jumps back to normal and your character screams "this... is not... really... happening!". It all adds up to a special experience that is interesting, but in the end not all that interesting to actually play. Stiff controls, never ending fiddling with the menus and a lot of backtracking takes a huge chunk of the atmosphere away. So yeah. it is definitely worth a look but do not pay too much for it.

25 January 2013

Review: Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (Xbox)

Big Red One is a spin off on Call of Duty 2, exclusive for the home consoles. Instead of the regular mish mash of storyline telling it focuses on one single company, namely Big Red One. Is it Call of Duty? Yes it is. Is the gameplay intact? Yes it is. Is it one of those generic World War II-shooters? Yes it is.

I for one did not get all that in to the "WW2-games" that ruled the earth a few years ago. This is probably why I found this particular game to be very intriguing. It has a lot of intense action, it is very fast paced, it has engaging and believable interactions between the characters and it is over all a very polished and fun experience. Like most of the Call of Duty installments, that is. I am not what you would call an Call of Duty-fan but I do think the series have a lot of sweet moments and I still buy the CoD-games coming out for the PS3 and 360 nowadays.

One of the very first things that bothered me though, with this game is the controls. Or the button layout to be more precise. I have to choose between just a select few predetermined setups and of course they all have some irritating faults. There is, for exampe, no way to put the reload on X and the "aim down the sights" on L at the same time. If I choose to have "aim down the sights" on L, then I have to have grenades on X - and reload on one of those fiddly buttons called Black and White - which I never seem to find fast enough with my thumb. That way I throw grenades everytime I try to reload since I am very used to reload with X. If I put reload on X, then L becomes grenade, so naturally I throw a grenade every time I want to aim down the sights. It is a mess.

While the story is not really all that interesting, it is easy to see why Call of Duty became so enormous. It has got tight gameplay, responsive controls and it quite honestly feels pretty up to par with even todays games in ways. Do not get me wrong, there are a few classic older bugs like characters getting stuck and stops the game from progressing, a few minor things like a certain weapon not being able to reload properly and so on... But it has a intense and immersive atmosphere to the point that when I was not playing I only thought about playing. It can be had for dirt cheap, it is a must have!

22 January 2013

Review: Counter-Strike (Xbox)

Counter-Strike for the Xbox had some really nice things going for it. Not only was it, by the time, the most pleasant looking version out there of the popular Half-Life mod, it even sported a few exclusive maps and gave console gamers a great arena to compete on, Xbox Live. How does it compare to todays Counter-Strike games?

Understandably, not too well. The graphics is grainy and way too dark, the controls are a bit stiff and the animations of the players leave a lot to be desired. Other than that it still is a pretty good game. I mean, it is after all Counter-Strike, and not a slimmed down version mind you. It has a lot of maps which all are a bit tweaked and polished, the controls work great for the platform (in other words; with a Xbox controller) and there is almost no loading times what so ever. It loads and runs extremely fast and there is no lag or freak outs in any way. With plenty of options in the menus (such as various difficulty settings, both custom rules and soundtrack) the matches can be set up to give almost everyone a suitable experience.

So for a Xbox game it is packed with intense action and awesome gameplay. If you are down with a controller instead of keyboard and mouse for this type of game I would say it is a must have. Since the Live service for original Xbox games was discontinued on March 11 2010 there is no online matches to be found for this installment of the Counter-Strike series but that is okay. There are bots with a wide range of difficulty levels on the disc and that is enough to have some fun.