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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:34:33     -    Knights of the Old Republic 2 (XBX)



    Upon further investigation into KOTOR 2’s gameplay one cannot help but notice the “Party Influence System”. Sometimes, when a character is presented with a conversation or situation that is relevant to a given character’s personal beliefs or relationship with the Exile, the player is able to raise or lower the given character’s level of influence. What this means is that if you do things that your party members like, they will like you more. If you do things they don’t like, they will begin to loathe you. The influence system has very interesting effects on your characters. If you persuade them to turn to the dark side, their skin will begin to turn pale and their presence will become darker and more menacing, if you turn them onto the path of the light, their features will become angelic. Gaining influence with all the characters also allowed the player to find out more about their back stories, thus increasing the desire to replay the game and find out each character’s history.

    KOTOR 2’s endings were somewhat disappointing. The reason is that you are given many choices at the end of the game, but there is only one ending cinematic. This cinematic is very vague in its depiction of what is going on and leaves the player gasping for more and unfortunately does not deliver a proper amount of closure. On a brighter note, the music in KOTOR 2 sets the mood fantastically for each world you are on. MY favorite music was when you traveled to the sith home planet, Korriban. The music here was a slow retro-sounding sci-fi instrumental piece that sent shivers down my spine. I felt that the soundtrack of the game helped add to the hustle and bustle of cities Onderon and the emptiness of the barren wastes of Korriban.


    I found KOTOR 2 to be a very incomplete game. This fact is confirmed by many postings on the official obsidian website directing the PC-version owners to a site where an independent company is trying to fill in the gaps. There is evidence of the games incompleteness in many forms, one of which is a conversation option which requires a certain amount of influence for the NPC to give a satisfactory answer. No matter how much influence you have the given NPC, the game will always tell you that your influence is not high enough and to try back later. After checking on multiple forums, I found out that this was indeed a precursor to a side quest that was not added. I found this somewhat frustrating that the developers left the option in, almost as if to taunt the players.

    The character customization in KOTOR 2 was also somewhat disappointing. In the beginning you have a very limited number of male and female faces to choose from. You can however, customize your melee and ranged weapons with certain “upgrade items” you can find and purchase along the way. The lightsaber customization feature allows the player to customize their lightsaber to do more damage, to do certain types of extra damage, to deflect bullets, and change the color of their lightsaber. I found that the ability to “trick-out” my lightsaber added greatly to the interactivity of the game. Overall, I found KOTOR 2 to be a fun game despite the holes in the design. I feel that the game really immerses the player into the Star Wars universe and allows the player to live out their jedi fantasy and to truly feel the force.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 01:52:01     -    Knights of the Old Republic 2 (XBX)



    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR 2 for short) begins aboard a battle-damaged ship called the Ebon Hawk. Aboard the ship are the main character, referred to as the Exile, an old woman named Kreia and a droid. After completing a short tutorial and repairing the Ebon Hawk, the characters find themselves aboard a mining facility. The facility is completely deserted except for one unlucky man named Atton, who was locked in a holding cell. After some investigation, the characters realize that foul play has been committed aboard the mining outpost. The characters then narrowly escape a sith lord who vows to rid the galaxy of all jedi. After a hasty exit and a heart-pounding space fight, the Exile and company blast off to find the remaining jedi in the galaxy. After confronting the remaining jedi masters, we learn more about the Exile’s spotted history and why the Exile cannot remember how to feel the force as he or she (you can choose your gender) once did.


    KOTOR 2’s gameplay uses a “Final Fantasy 11-like” system of combat. You can select the moves your character will perform and when your character’s attack turn comes up, they will perform the given action. The only drawback about this style of combat is that the character’s motions seem rigid and not fluid. The combat is also highly based toward melee weapons. After playing the game through seven times I have noticed that in order to have characters that are proficient with ranged weapons such as blasters and rifles, the player needs to purposely build their character for that specific task. The additions of various energy shields which offer protection from blasters also coax the player into using melee weapons to defeat their foes.

    KOTOR 2 also uses a wonderful system of interacting with NPC’s via conversation trees. I found this very enjoyable because I felt I had more control over what my character said. For instance, when confronted by a thug in a cantina I was given the choice to persuade him to leave peacefully, convince him that he no match for me and scare him away, pay him the credits he wants to get him to leave, or to fight him and cut him up with my lightsaber. I felt the system of moral choices added to the interactivity of the character building in a big way. Another great addition to the game was that all dialogue (except for the Exile’s) was voiced beautifully.

    The non-linear play-style was also a big factor in the game’s interactivity. In KOTOR 2, you can choose which planets you want to go to first. After you complete the story on that planet you can move onto the next planet and uncover more of the KOTOR 2’s gripping story. Usually, a non-linear play style can be indicative of a poorly-structured story. Fortunately, for KOTOR 2, this was not the case. KOTOR 2’s story was very well-structured and the pieces of the story that were divided amongst the planets fit together nicely in whatever order you put them in.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 05:47:23     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)



    During my second play session, I noticed that there were very few flaws that I could find in such a large, emergent game. One thing I found somewhat annoying was the AI of the other drivers on the road. Many times was I chasing after someone for an important mission, only to be hindered by crashing into some poorly placed car. While I realize that this might be an element of challenge in the game, I still found it aggravating when I would be flung from my motorcycle and fail the mission because I lost the person I had been chasing.

    On a brighter note, a very nice touch to the game was the ability to listen to radio. Not only was the music from that time period (The Early 90’s), but it also made missions as well as driving long distances from place to place much easier and realistic. The implementation of a pseudo-talk radio was also very funny to listen to and helped greatly to ease the tension after the failure of a mission. The voice acting was also very convincing, the fact that they hired professional actors to work on the cast was also an interesting bit of trivia. I found that Samuel Jackson’s portrayal of Officer Tenpenny was so in depth that I found myself talking back to the game in response to some of Officer Tenpenny’s orders.

    All the Grand Theft Auto games have been the subjects of a lot of criticism and scrutiny. Their violent content and course language have gained them M-ratings and shunning from the parents of gamers. Truth be told: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas never makes the player commit violent acts on innocent people. I have played through the game and there was no instance where I was forced to harm a completely innocent person. While the game did let you run over innocent people in the street, it never made you run people over. However, despite the fact that the people you are made to kill are gang members or drug dealers, they are still people and I found the fact Rockstar did not put a disclaimer that violence is always wrong.


    The design of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was truly something that could have only been attained after years of experience of making games. I found the game’s ability to keep me occupied was something to truly marvel at. When I would want to do something other than the story (or was stuck on a mission) there were plenty of other things I could do instead of progressing with the story. The graphics used were also very detailed and the designs of some of the cars and bikes were very original and pleasing.

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was clearly designed for extreme and casual gamers in mind. With the built-in codes that allows less patient players some “help” with difficult game obstacles. The addition of side-missions and the ability to purchase various pieces of real estate, residential and business was a great element in the game’s reality factor. The ability to pick and choose what houses and businesses to spend your “hard-earned” money on really made you fell like a full-blown gangster. Overall, I found Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to be a really well-rounded game with very few flaws or bugs that I could find. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as had many elements that appealed to gamers from nearly every category, whether it was driving, shooting or dating Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has it all.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 04:26:21     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)


    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas begins with the main character, CJ, returning home after many years to attend his mother’s funeral. CJ reunites with all his childhood friends and family-members and sees that things are not as he left them. CJ notices that his neighborhood is full of drug-dealers and that the gang-unit of the police, lead by a corrupt cop named Officer Tenpenny, turn a blind eye to all the gang violence in the area. The beginning of the game involves doing some missions to help clean up the surrounding neighborhoods and restore the respect of the gang that he used to run with, The Grove Street Families. The game continues on with CJ finding out that he is being betrayed by once close friends and takes action to stop them. CJ’s journey takes him through a huge map of a pseudo-California landscape where CJ meets a colorful cast of characters that in the end help him take back the city of Los Santos for the Grove Street Families and take revenge on his back-stabbing friends.


    The gameplay in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is identical to is PS2 predecessors with the new swimming feature lacked by Rockstar’s previous titles. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas introduces the characters so wonderfully so that you feel sympathetic to their cause and develop an emotional connection with the characters. Not only does the swimming feature add more realism to the game, but now your main character has variable statistics that can make the game easier or more difficult depending on their level. CJ’s skill in driving cars, riding bikes and riding motorcycles will rise the more you use the certain vehicles. Adding to the driving skill feature was the ability to modify your character’s stats. By increasing your character’s strength, you could do more damage in fist fights, by making your character really fat, you could decrease your running speed. Not only did these changes have gameplay effects, but you could also see the changes in CJ’s appearance.

    I found the somewhat non-linear mission-based gameplay to be very efficient in telling the story. It gave the game a very real, emerssive feeling to it. I could do some missions for this person, and then some for another, then go back to the first guy and finish his missions. The only time when you were limited to one series of missions were in the parts of the game where it was crucial to the progression of the storyline that you complete the missions. There were also side-missions where you could play as an ambulance driver, fireman or vigilante cop that when completed would give your character bonuses, such as extra health or immunity to damage from fire.

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    1Digimon World 2 (PS)Playing
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