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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 18:03:48     -    BioShock (360)


    Upon playing the game for a second time, I found that the expanse of the graphics (primarily in regards to character and level design) as well as the immersive storyline surpassed by previous amazement even further. I consider myself an avid horror movie fan, and even this game was frightening and rather disturbing to me. I found the storyline disturbing and extremely interesting. As it progressed, I found myself feeling sorry for the inhabits of Rapture who had been overtaken by greed and gluttony.

    One aspect of the game that made it unique among the genre was its use of weapon and plasmid upgrades. I found the enemies becoming progressively harder (for example there was a new bomb throwing enemy), and as they became harder I found myself needing more powerful weaponry and plasmids. The game accurately answered this concern by allowing my main character to obtain new upgrades at various dispensers. As opposed to most FPSs where you simply obtain new weapons and rarely use your old ones, Bioshock allowed for multiple types of ammunition for each gun, making them extremely important based on the situation I was in.

    Making it even more interesting, my character obtain the currency ("Adam") necessary to purchase upgrades by following the storyline and confronting the "Big Daddy's" (protectors of the demonic little sisters). This idea greatly helped to make me more inclined to continue the game rather than simply get frustrated and quit. Also, this gave me a choice of whether or not I would spend my money or save it for upgrades later. I found this aspect of the game to increase not only the enjoyability but the replayability as well.


    One thing I found interesting about the game was the control scheme. At first I found it clunky and hard to aim, causing me to die rather frequently. However, once I got a tolerable control of the movement, I was able to focus more on strategies involving the other buttons. For example, the two back buttons made you shoot (the left = plasmid / the right=guns). I found this particularly important and interesting in that it was a very intuitive control scheme, which isn't often seen in first person shooters. This was also good in that the game often required me to quickly change guns and plasmids depending on the situations, and the control configuration allowed me to quickly change, rather than having to think about it for several minutes while being constantly attacked.

    The one drawback I would say, though it is not exclusive to this FPS, was the difficulty of movement. Like I mentioned previously, the control scheme was intuitive and unique as far as weapon and plasmid usage, however, I found the difficulty of actually moving and aiming to be a drawback (though minor) to the overall game. Even though I didn't mind continually playing certain parts of the game as a result of dying, I felt that the movement controls made this almost an inevitability.

    In addition, the difficulty to control the character made it difficult to use health and evo packs, particularly during intense battles. I found my necessity to use both hands for controlling the character made it very hard to stop movement in order to press one of the buttons necessary for accessing my med kits. This, in addition to the difficult movement, made me die more frequently than if perhaps there were a more intuitive way to perform these actions.

    It goes without saying, however, that these minor drawbacks barely made the game any less enjoyable. They were only minor concerns that I expressed while playing the more difficult segments of this amazing game.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 9th, 2008 at 21:35:28.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 16:05:51     -    BioShock (360)


    BioShock is an immersive first person shooter taking place in the past of an alternate reality (around the 1960's). After surviving a plane crash into the ocean near the "abandoned" city of Rapture, the main character, Jack, must survive amongst "Adam" hungry, deranged monsters and Big Daddys (tough mechanical body guards of demonic "little sisters").


    When I first picked up Bioshock, I assumed I'd be playing through another formulaic first person shooter that merely involves exploring and killing anything that I see. However, even within the first 10 minutes of play, I was happily surprised to find out my previous assumption was completely wrong.

    The game throws you (literally) into the ocean requiring you to swim to the forsaken looking city, Rapture. I thought that was well done in that it made you realize you had no choice but go to the city, which helped create the overall tone of fear and despair early on in the game. The inevitably of your soon to be realized challenges creates a unique environment and really set up the game well for me, putting me in the mood to become immersed in the game.

    Once in the city, I was amazed by the unique graphics, whether it was the dynamic lighting effects, or the weapon designs, I found them to be superior to any other first person shooter I have played. The level designs were large and open, creating a unique and extremely believable environment. At the beginning of the game I was taken via a transportation device to what appeared to be the lower city area. I appreciated this in that it gave me a larger view of the area I was about to explore. It gave me a taste of the overall environment of the game, and made me feel as though I was really being thrust into this spooky city.

    Another aspect I found unique to this game was the well done voice acting. In many first person shooters, the voice acting is either terrible or non existent. I found this game's narration, guided primarily by Atlas (who initially tells you where to go and what to do) to be not only helpful but very interesting to listen to. As opposed to some games, I found my self stopping what I was doing in the game to listen to Atlas as the story developed. I felt this to be a great plus for the game as well as an aspect that separates it from many of the other FPSs I have played in the past.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Feb 8th, 2008 at 16:31:09.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 00:28:27     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)


    After playing the game for a second time I began to appreciate the expanse of the game as the story began to unfold. I found that, even after beating galaxies, you can still go back and do various challenges to obtain new stars. For example, when a comet is present in a galaxy, I was allowed to do a timed race through a planet. Also, many levels have "hungry stars" that require an arbitrary amount of star bits in order to become a planet. I thought this greatly added to the overall replay value of the game, making it even harder to put down.

    In addition to this, I was also amazed by the level design of some of the planets. What I found particularly impressive was how the planets explored the 3D aspects of the environments to solve puzzles and progress. Many of the levels forced me to "think outside the box" in order to move on, and in ways that I haven't had to think in previous games. One level in particular caught my attention. It was a space junk level that required me to use all the junk surrounding me as platforms to move around. I thought this aspect was very unique and was something that I haven't seen in any other game I have played.


    One design aspect that I found intriguing was the use of the Wii controllers (both the Wiimote and the Nunchuck). At first it was troublesome trying to move Mario with essentially two hands, but the simplicity of the first planets you play on really helped me to get used to it and give me a taste of the moves I would have to be doing in the future (for example you learn how to wall jump early on which I ended up using on almost every level later in the game.

    In addition, I felt the controls helped to make me feel even more immersed in the game. I had to pay attention all the time (which I didn't mind doing) and eventually the controls became very natural and intuitive. Many levels required that I point the Wiimote at the screen to pull Mario around (like the blue stars that acted as intergalactic monkey bars), which I found to add to the overall difficulty of the game.

    The controls helped me enjoy the game more especially in relation to the various boss battles. I found that all the boss battles require that I use a combination of various moves that I had learned through the the galaxy that the boss pertains to. (For example, later Mario becomes "spring Mario" and, in that galaxy, the boss requires you battle in that form of Mario). I thought that this allowed for a very smooth learning curve, and the bosses never seemed too difficult, (though they were often not very easy either).

    The one drawback I found was that often the camera angles were frustrating and difficult to control. And though this didn't greatly detract from the overall game play, I found that it sometimes got annoying and was hard to adjust. Even though the camera angles were adjustable (using the D-Pad) I found that the situations when I needed to change the angles were too intense to deter my concentration enough to use the D-pad.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 23:49:23     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)


    Mario Galaxy is an immersive action game utilizing classic Mario moves and story lines. Mario's quest in this installment of the series is to, as always, rescue the princess from the clutches of the evil Bowser. The levels are unique in that they play out in the forms of various galaxies and planets, as you search for your beloved Princess Peach.


    As soon as I began to play this game, I found it very difficult to put it down. The levels begin very easily (with a tutorial exploring the basic moves and methods in which you can explore the planets you're on) and they progress to higher difficulties. Even at the start, the levels are engaging and the storyline progresses in a very easy to follow method. You are guided through the levels with the help of various smaller stars (some which become planets).

    Upon completing my first "galaxy" within the game (which consists of about 4 planets including a "bowser" planet) I was afraid the linear format (beat one world move on to the next with 4 planets and a boss planet) would get old. However, I found that in the next galaxy, the levels were even more interesting and graphically pleasing then the previous.

    Something about the game that made me particularly drawn to it was the different "Mario forms" you could obtain depending on the planet you were on. For example, on the honeycomb planet, Mario becomes a bee and has special powers until he is hit or touches water. I felt this aspect was particularly unique and really helped prevent me from getting bored with the level designs.

    Another fear I had going into the game was that it might be too easy. I easily conquered the first galaxy as well as the second, but I found that my fear was proven wrong by the difficulty of the following galaxies. Not only this, but the story soon reveals your ability to feed your star bits to smaller stars making them turn into planets, or levels.

    Another aspect of the game that I really enjoyed (and didn't notice at the start) was the music. Many of the levels use "remastered" versions of older Mario music, even dating back to the original Mario for NES. I thought this was very clever, and it was something that I haven't seen in any of the previous Mario installments.

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