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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 03:41:07     -    Gears of War (360)

    Gameplay:
    There is no greater feeling then chainsawing a Locust with the Lancer. Okay let me start over. Upon the start of the second mission you meet up with your commander, anger is revealed, he hates you, etc. Then you get your new standard gun. An Assault Rifle called the Lancer. Nothing really special about it, its your standard Sci-fi Laser Automatic Rifle... except it's got a chainsaw bayonet!
    Let me Repeat that: A CHAINSAW BAYONET!
    while the game still retained its original difficulty, killing me at least 20 times while I attempted to adjust for the learning curve the pure joy of cutting the Aliens in half made this game worth playing. One thing that got to me was the levels length, with the first level taking 45 minutes if that, and the second level still seemingly far from complete. The only thing that is noticeably is one of my troops has had the necessity to be replaced due to sniper fire and I got a satellite beam called the Hammer of Dawn to shoot huge six-legged alien radio jammers called "Seeders." On the outside it appears to be nothing more then a xenocide, on the inside its nothing more then pure glee.

    Summary:
    What seems innovative about the game is the sheer amount of violence, and speed of fighting involved in each area. At the difficulty I'm playing the gap between 3rd-person and 1st-person shooting must be crossed in several circumstances, the run command upon holding A is a unique aspect that adds to the necessary speed and as far as I know is unheard of. Also the reloading mechanic has a timing system, which for the first time is player controlled and makes a difference. The design does have a feel of "playing it safe" in testing what gamers want, however the sheer amount of violence and (from what I hear) good multi-player make this game focused around a specific type of gamer. The level design, though spaced well seems like a large jump, with too much happening in some levels and too few happening in others. The challenges and layout is completely different even while crossing a single level, but the background similarity occasionally gives off a repetitive feel. The game creates conflict via narrative and xenophobia, the enemy seemingly has no reason to attack you at this point and the only thing I really know about the character is he is somehow a soldier directly out of prison who hates these things. Not very moving, but a reason none-the-less. The game keeps the player interested by providing constantly challenging enemies, changing up the allies, and giving the player a generous reward system...Also the chainsaws. The game keeps players on a very linear path with a couple side paths which can be used to adjust tactics. Despite this they give the background a lush , large feel in most cases, making the world appear larger then it actually is. one thing that is a unique challenge to any player is the AI seems to do things differently on every play through. From attempting to snipe to charging you to walking somewhere they shouldn't be when you try to flank them they always appears to be moving differently each time I die. The tone of the game-world is created by this, and really everything about the game. From the cover art tot eh title screen tot eh first few minutes of game-play it gives the feel of a Army 3rd person shooter, with some serious Sci-fi influence. This tone made it so that I couldn't help but feel like I was one of the Sardaukar from the famous DUNE novels. This created a masculine "Manly man" bad-ass tone within the game, and the game seemed to keep this tone by re-enforcing it at every point, from shootouts and violent dialog to killing off characters who don't fulfill the archetype this game preserves it's tone. The gmae does require a teamwork to meet it's objectives, or a hatred towards your enemies, so yes through either conversation, working together, or shooting each other's face off social relations are formed. One thing I would definitely improve upon is the levels length, it felt like an endless burden and I'm still not done! Another possible course of action would be to simply space out the levels differently, and perhaps give a level complete objective at earlier points. This game gave very few ideas for our game, other then some dialog, and perhaps sound FX. The emergent game-play comes from enemy spawn and tactics, while there is a set enemy number, the player can drastically reduce this depending on their actions, making the amount of enemies you face in any circumstance a constant unknown. The games reward structure gave me an overabundance of ammo to hold off a small army, and a hard choice from a variety of weapons, still these rewards didn't really decrease the difficulty and always made me happy, I would call this system a slight success. The cut-scenes were the one thing that made me understand exactly why the protagonist and his allies were doing what they were doing, so far each one has been very important, though occasionally badly worded. The narrative is above-average at best, still I hear the multi-player is the best part, and I can only hope that I get a chance to play that soon.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:59:22     -    Gears of War (360)

    Summary:
    A 3rd-person shooter in which you play as a prisoner/soldier/traitor Marcos and fight in the "War of the Locusts." While the story doesn't explain anything in the beginning even the initial levels are difficult, then again that might be because I cranked it up to the highest difficulty on the first play through.

    Gameplay:
    The game Gears of War takes a pretty fast-paced look at the world of 3rd-person shooters. Requiring quick movements, above-average shooting, and the ability to accept the fact that the main character knows everything about the plot already. The game seems like an improvement upon Unreal Tournament, which is nice considering how it is also designed by Cliff Bleszinski. So far the enemies seemed difficult and accurate, and I have already died at least four times due to two enemies getting headshots simultaneously. The action is intense, and leaves you yelling at the opponents in a fairly xenophobic fashion, especially when you die. The cut-scenes are all very thrilling, however the voice acting might need some work as the tone of voice seems off in select scenes. While having the audience as per usual I actually managed to make them silent cussing at the screen after dying. Stupid Xenos.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 05:00:48     -    Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

    Gameplay:
    When I started playing the second session my sickness started to make me feel...crappy to say the least. Unfortuantely this probably influenced my unfounded hatred for the character Mallow. "A Tadpole who look nothing like a frog!" Already infuriates me for some reason. The fact that Mallow is your second character and can't throw a punch to save he...she...it's life made me defend with the creature until Mario's glorious turn came around. He attacked and one shotted enemies that Mallow was dealing nearly nothing too. Now I know what you are gonna say, yes Mallow is the Healer/Wizard and the Thudershock spell is very useful especially versus your first "Smithy" the boss was called my companions inform me, but the damage is less then half of Mario's normal attack! Granted for a player who didn't master the defense A button mashing right off the bat that has to be a life-saver, yet I doubt my hatred for Mallow is unique.
    The story thus far had Mallow lose his Green Coin which his uncle gave him to buy a very specific "Cricket Pie" at the Shop in Mushroom Kingdom. Upon getting to the kingdom he is promptly robbed by an alligator and cries up a storm (Literally) then proceeds to forget why he was crying.
    Directly after crying he forgot why originally had his masculine shower fest. (it was defined in the game as a he... but I'm not risking it.) This feat actually made me want the crocodile on my team for the entire chase and eventual fight with him... that is until he actually was intimidated by Mallow.
    Anyways upon returning it seems Mushroom Kingdom was invaded by Shyguys again whilst you were away. So after promptly killing over 9000 of these little cretins you end up fighting a gigantic bouncing spring key with magical fire powers. Just call him Smithy. The demeaning part of this battle was his small horde of bouncing Shyguys which made Mallows Lightning attack useful.
    After his defeat the plot moves on and Mario gets his first star! But wait what's this? Mario needs to visit Mallow's uncle? See it on the next Episode of Ogre-Knight's game reviews whilst sick and feeling like chucking Mallow out the window!

    Design:
    The innovative A button pressing to actually improve your defense and attack sore is a nice addition to get players more involved in the moment of the game, it got me involved, but I can see someone getting slightly tired of it later. The simple Mario RPG aspect throws the player for a loop in terms of game design. Although Square keeps to their RPG legacy and innovations with the out of world and in world systems that fit with Mario so well. Still some fans must have been hurt since their favorite Italian has fallen to the turn-based way. All in all however I still rate this game a 5.
    Out of the few levels I've seen thus far each one ha a very different means of completion. While the first level was overly short and "Plot heavy" the following two were each very similar in appearance, but very different in actual completion. Where in the second level the goal was simple "Fight and Grind!" The second was an actual chase scene with the boss where you must use a bit of speed and trickery just to fight him. The third level came as a surprise, as fights within the town are always a bit strange and unexpected, though it was another "Grinding" level it played too the character's expected strengths, making it a slightly different experience.
    Each level provides a new story-driven challenge for Mario. While the earliest stage has a connection to the previous games the concurrent levels seem to each have a personal connection to at least one of the characters other than "save the princess." The fact that each level provides a new challenge and new necessary information to reach it's completion provides a desire for the player to find out exactly how to get through each level. The fact that two major companies combined to make this project is another huge claim to fame.
    The use of space seems like that of a traditional Mario level select followed by a game room much like an overworld map where Mario can react as he sees fit. The tone of the game succeeds in being simple and cartoony. Having a similar feeling to it as all successful Mario games. It does this by simply playing on whats already been created in the Mario universe and adding anything that they think would be useful to their game. They managed to pull it off! This game is not that useful at creating social interactions between players. Although an audience did appear for a short time, and this game seems much more plausible to hand over the controller for each individual character. The only thing frustrating to me so far is my head... and Mallow. It is surprisingly difficulty in catching the second Crocodile boss, because of this I would have him steadily progress his AI instead of being that hard to catch from Room 1. This game did give a certain cartoony feel that we may hope to emulate slightly in our game. The game has very little emergent complexity. The entire game seems rather progressive. The reward system always seemed to be right on the money for the payer simply breezing through the game, it was actually nearly dead on in every case thus far in order to get me through my challenges. The cutscenes play an important role in the fact that all the gameplay is generated through their use, as well as Mario's grand mimicry since he is a silent hero.
    In short the footsteps of both companies make an impressive mark in every core mechanic and graphic in this game's development. They managed to combine them in such a unique game-play experience that would be insulted if this was not on the classics list.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 03:19:52     -    Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

    Summary:
    An attempt to mix the very different, yet unique RPG-style of Square with the most popular game character ever to walk the earth. Mario shines as the nearly silent plumber that once again must save the princess. The unique RPG battle system allows for a split second blocking and increased attack system unlike any I've seen before, or even after this games creation. The story has taken on a fun, yet cliche narrative, and a new character has entered the Mario universe named Mallow. I've heard a lot of hype about this game and I don't believe 45 minutes is an adequate amount of time to spend playing. To quote a fan on my hallway "The two companies have made a classic that has high demand for a sequel from gamers everywhere." -Tim

    Gameplay:
    Even while sick this game appeared to be a nice combination of two types of franchises. I actually enjoyed myself beyond the hazy vision and headache occurring whilst playing. Though 45 minutes is not enough to give this game justice it set up major features. Take for example the "Smithy Gang" who apeared right after you defeated Bowser a the start of the game.
    Thats right DEFEATED BOWSER AT THE START OF THE GAME! -Spoiler Warning-
    Their plot seems to be less derived towards kidnapping the princess for once and more involved with total world domination, a goal we can all relate to and get behind. The enemies attack animations actually have a point since the A button timing for your attacks and defense is all relative to how the spite reacts. This new system keeps the RPG gamer on their toes for once, actually edgy about the enemies timing, and requiring a bit more skill and thought to get past even simple levels. The social interaction, like all RPGs is sub-par when compared to other genres of game. This game manages to be so popular it drew a one-man audience until I shooed him out due to my illness.

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    1BioShock (360)Playing
    2Chrono Trigger (SNES)Playing
    3Civilization IV (PC)Playing
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