Archive for the Xbox360 Category

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2

Posted in Xbox360 with tags on August 26, 2008 by madcow17

It did a great job dodging my radar but suddenly Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 is out. Being a big fan of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved (GWRE for short,) I picked it up and would like to go over my impressions of the game.

To any who don’t know, GWRE is a game of pure chaos where you maneuver your little ship-thing as you blast through waves and waves of brightly colored, evil shapes. the right analog stick moves you in the direction you tilt it while the left stick shoots in any direction you tilt it. It’s non-stop and makes your heart pound. I have to concentrate so hard when I play this that I think I actually make a “guitar face.”

I consider this game a vast improvement over its predecessor. While the first one only had one mode that had a sluggish start, this new iteration has six total modes, and all of them are creative, fun, and offer tons of replay ability. They made this version much more accessible and player friendly with little features like lenient scoring (death doesn’t kill your multiplier) and making it so enemies don’t instantly destroy you if they spawn on you. Throw in multiplayer (which I have yet to try) and you have a solid game for 10 dollars.

The first GWRE sucked me in even though I wasn’t that good at it. I was never able to break 460k points. This version has a mostly-new scoring system. In the previous version you racked up a score multiplier by killing enemies. death would either kill your multiplier or significantly lower it. In GWRE2 you instead collect ‘geoms’ left floating by enemies you’ve destroyed. Each geom adds 1x to your multiplier, and these things often flood the screen allowing for some outrageous high multipliers (I had 719x at one point.) Death seems to have no penalty on you multiplier in this version, making losing a life not feel so hopeless. In the first GWRE, for me, one death usually meant I should just start over.

Visually, this game definitely sets a standard on “colorful chaos.” When I first played GWRE, It was almost frustrating with everything going on, I couldn’t even keep sight of where I was. But after some playing you get use to it and it becomes VERY fun. Colors seem more vibrant in this version, showing off greater ‘fireworks’ every time you destroy an enemy. The grid that aligns the background is more defined and reflects colors a lot better, and also fluctuates and reacts to the various explosions and gravity-effecting events that commonly occur during game play. Enemies have more of a visual flair as well, with flashy colors and 3d characteristics. There are also some new enemies to deal with and some returning enemies from the previous version.

Of the new enemies, the first is an orange rocket that zips back and forth in a straight line from its starting point. The second is a barbell looking enemy that has friendly benefits. The two ends hurt you, but if you can fly through the middle, you’re awarded extra points and it also triggers an explosion which destroys nearby enemies. Another type of enemy I saw looked like an eye guarded by many blue orbs huddled against it, which required heavy fire from one direction to weaken its defenses. The last type I remember seeing might be a remake of the “pac-man” enemies present in the first version, though I can’t be sure. I’ve only seen them in a later sequence that was much too chaotic to soak anything in.

The music in this game is astounding! The music will often change depending on what’s going on. In “king” mode, for example, the music gets muffled when you aren’t in a bubble. It seems like the crazier the action gets, the more intense the music gets. Plus the music in “sequence” mode is amazing. I really want that song.

Last but not least, the new modes. There are six modes you can play here, and each one feels incredibly inventive and fresh. In the first GWRE, I would have a good game, then inevitably die and not feel like starting over again. In this version I have trouble quitting. Whenever I’m done with a mode and intend to quit, the alure of another mode always entices me and I keep playing. Here’s a breif description of the new modes:

Deadline – This mode is the basic GWRE2 experience, only you have a 3 minute deadline. When the music stops, everything stops and It’s over.

King – In this mode you cannot shoot unless you enter bubbles that appear. The enemy cannot enter the bubbles, but they decay shortly after you enter them, forcing you to make a mad dash to the next bubble before the enemies swell in on you.

Evolved – Same as the first GWRE, except the new game play mechanics are intact. Go until you die, collect bombs and extra lives with points, good luck!

Pacifism – You cannot shoot at all. Instead, you must avoid enemies while trying to pass through those barbell enemies mentioned above. The resulting explosion when you pass through one of these is the only way to hurt enemies. One life only.

Waves – One of my favorites. This mode will send throngs of enemies at you, non stop. You’ll mostly see those straight-line rockets zipping around side by side in rows, which is fun because you have to shoot through and create paths. Extremely exciting, this mode is worth the price of the game alone.

Sequence – My other favorite mode. This mode offers 20 stages, which you have 30 seconds each to completely kill all of the enemies on the board. You have a short breather between sequences, but don’t get comfortable because they throw insane stuff at you. If you die, you lose a life and move on to the next level. I have yet to complete all sequences, but I got close, and 17 million points trying (which probably isn’t anything compared to what other players are getting.)

So there’s GWRE2. It literally snuck up on me. It was there when I went to download Bionic Commando: Rearmed so I went ahead and bought it. Worth 10 dollars? Well as I already mentioned, Waves alone is worth 10 dollars! I would gladly pay 59.99$ for this game. Highly recommended!

If you’d like to see what the game looks like, check here!


Bionic Commando: Rearmed impressions.

Posted in Xbox360 with tags , on August 23, 2008 by madcow17

I’m amazingly happy to announce (though it’s not exactly new news) that Bionic Commando: Rearmed is out on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 10$ (It is also out on the Playstation Network and PC.) Since I was anticipating the hell out of this game, I wanted to say a few things about it. Firstly, the original Bionic Commando on Nintendo was one of my favorite games in concept. I never, at any point, considered myself good at it. I even thought it was impossible. Maybe it’s that I have a thing for hooks. Back in the day I would play HalfLife (OZdm) and Quake (lithium) mods that added hooks to the game, and I felt it added SO much more to the experience, rather than just running and jumping. I also like games that, while they require skill, you can have your own style and tackle things in your own way.

Before I really get into it, I’d like to applaud them on the demo for this game. It was very clever and actually¬† made me laugh out loud. Dialogue between the characters would go along the lines of “Sir, The enemy is attacking!” “Calm down soldier! It’s just a demo! The enemy can’t reach us!” not exact quotes but it’s stuff like that, sort of making fun of it’s self in a fun way. When you get to the first boss, he exclaims “Pi… pi… pi… End of demo, shutting system down” and the main character is saying “No I want to kick your ass!” This clever writing in the demo was a good idea on their part, as it made me more interested in the full game.

I really like this game. It plays SO well. I can actually say that I’m good at this one now. Maybe they somehow made it easier (to be honest, it’s been SO long since I played the original that I cannot make a fair comparison) but I find this to be an incredibly fun experience. For anyone who doesn’t know, this game is a remake from a classic nintendo game made many many years ago. It is a side scrolling platformer that contains no jumping, at all. Instead, you get around by shooting your bionic hook arm either above you, diagonal left and right, or straight left and right, to latch on to various objects and then swing yourself or pull yourself up (or if you’re latching on to something ground level, you can slide along the ground.)

The premise is that you’re pretty much a super soldier dropped behind enemy lines going from mission to mission looking for your captured comrade, Joe, I believe his name was. So you embark on your journey through the use of a tactical map, showing where you can go. The map contains missions, friendly outposts, and roaming enemy encounters. Should you hit one of these roaming enemy encounters, you’re thrown into a top-down, rambo-to-the-end shooter, which shares a resemblance with the likes of SmashTV and the overhead bits from Contra games. So far these are so simple they’re pretty much a pointless waste of time, but I have yet to scale up the difficulty, so that might not be fair to say.

While you can attack missions in almost any order you want, you’ll see instances like in Zelda: You can’t go to this dungeon until you have the power glove to lift the abnormally heavy rock blocking it. It isn’t anything annoying, I choose a pretty random pattern for attacking the missions and I was still awarded all the items necessary to move on with minimal backtracking. Also if you try a mission and can’t get past due to one of these obstacles, when you extract from the mission your pilot will chime in and let you know why and what you need to do about it. So there are no moments of “Where do I go?”

The gameplay is phenominal, featuring many moments where you sit back and say “Wow, that was cool!” I have -SO- much fun trying to get from place to place, seeing if i can do it without touching the ground, looking for interesting ways to take down enemies. I found myself just having fun, like I was in a sandbox that had a goal. You’re given armor and weapon upgrades that add a great deal of variety to combat. You have your shotgun for close range, your basic blaster for infantry, laser rifle for mechanical enemies, rocket launcher for certain walls and enemies (This seems to make incredibly short work of bosses) and a few other things that are unknown to me (I’m on mission 10 or so, I still have a few things to get.) Each weapon has a unique look and feel.

You’ll essentially get around missions by hunting down computer terminals and communicating with your allies, having them open secure doors ahead of you. You can also choose to hack the computer via a fun (but hard to describe) mini game where you have to maneuver an orb into a goal by rotating a cube and firing it in different directions. Once hacked, you get to see a snippet of dialogue between the enemy that often offers insight on the story, or tips for the upcoming boss fight.

The boss fights vary. I had a few boss fights that were enjoyable, but so far i’ve seen two bosses rehashed later in the game, and you can dispatch them with the same tactics and seemingly same difficulty as the first time through. There was one boss fight that had me scratching my head for a minute, and when I figured it out, it was a very creative idea for a boss fight. I feel it’s been so long since i’ve played a game that consists of stages ending in boss fights, so I had a good time, and it was refreshing to me.

Now onto the graphics. I don’t think people reinvent 2d games with 3d graphics enough. I think there is a huge market for it, but few companies are bold enough to try it. Castlevania Symphony of the Night is EASILY my favorite game, and IMO, the best game of all time. So I have a passion for 2d games looking pretty, and this game sits very well with me. It plays so smooth and it’s so beautiful. The explosions from grenades and rockets are VERY impressive. The levels vary with terrain, and they did a great job on each type. So far the game hasn’t come close to feeling dull or tired for me, and if it did, I could hit up a friendly outpost and check out the games VR-esque missions, which are pretty much timed obstacle courses that resemble the VR missions from Metal Gear Solid. I’ve only played a few of these but i see great potential in them being fun.

The last thing i’ll mention is the music. When you start the first level, you parachute in and the music starts. It reminds me of a song from a war movie where they’re in the desert (wish I could remember more) and it gave me this excellent feeling that I was behind enemy lines in a war. There are songs that seem more rock-oriented, while some of the factory themed areas have a more techno sound. I found myself tapping my foot to a few of the tunes, so that’s always good. I wish I could remember enough from the original game to be able to say with any certainty whether or not the songs are remixes from the originals, but I can’t. Very catchy, fitting music though.

So to wrap it up. This game is for the most part (about 95%) very awesome. I highly recommend it. There are a few concerns I had when playing, and they’re pretty minmal. One was loading screens. They seemed a little long for what the game was. Every building you go into, every mission you start, every time you leave a map, there’s a 5-10 second loading screen. It’s not TERRIBLE by any means, but I did let out a sigh a few times when I accidently went somewhere I didn’t mean to. Another small issue was the VR missions. The few I played seemed to have ridiculous standards to 5-star them. I was going through them SO fast, not seeing anywhere I could possibly improve speed, and I would still get 4 stars. This was only on the first few so my conern is for the more advanced ones later on. I guess I just have issues with games demanding I be perfect at it (I hope to write an entry about this soon.) But in the end, this game comes highly recommended. It’s the best game i’ve purchased for 10 dollars in a very long time.

Edit: I forgot to mention that this game boasts multiplay, but sadly not over live. I haven’t tried this yet, so your guess is as good as mine on it.

I hope to also discuss Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 very soon, so keep an eye out for that. I need to peel myself away from bionic commando and unlock more modes first.