Dale Dietrich
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Left 4 Dead

Categories: reviewsvideo games
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image 3.5 rating  (3.5/5) – shooter – zombie – survival horror

Reviews: Metacritic 89% | Game Rankings 89.17% | zero punctuation 
Reference: wikipedia12 | Achievements
Walkthrus: Mahalo | WikiCheats | GameFAQs
Developer: Valve Corporation, Engine: Source 

This is not my normal style of game. I hate zombies. I hate zombie games. I fully expected to hate this game. However, given its stellar reputation, I rented it, expecting to play it for an hour, and toss it. That almost happened.

At first I played the single player campaign. I didn’t know what was going on. I was frustrated. I kept dying  repeatedly. The game provides no in-game save option. Consequently I kept getting sent back 20 minutes to the last (rare) check point – a game construct that annoys me to no end.

After a couple hours of futility I was about to return it to the rental store. But, I had heard that it must be played online to be enjoyed. Having no friends with the game I loathed the thought of going online with unruly 13 year olds running off in every direction telling me how much I suck at it. But an amazing thing happened. I had fun.

left 4 dead - hordes of zombies

I was into a game within 30 seconds. At first, I didn’t put my headset on. I expected to hate it and didn’t want to hear others berate my ineptitude. Strangely, 30 minutes later I noticed I was having fun – a lot of fun. At one point I was about to die and then someone came by and healed me. What? That never happens? Where did this sudden benevolence come from?

CONTINUE READING →

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50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

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50 cent - blood in the sand cover art 2.5 rating  (2.5/5) – shooter

Reviews: Metacritic 71% | Game Rankings 72.47%   | zero punctuation
Reference: wikipedia12 | Achievements
Walkthrus: Couldn’t find any – you won’t need it! 
Developer: Swordfish Studios Engine: Unreal Engine 3

In 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand, rapper Curtis Jackson (aka ‘50 Cent’) was to be paid for an African concert with a diamond encrusted skull. The skull was stolen. 50 Cent and his G-unit side-kick become a two man army, rampaging through Africa killing anyone that stands between them and their skull.

This game can be aptly described as a shooter with training wheels meets Lego star wars. If there was any game worthy of a zero punctuation lampoon, this one is it!

General Observations

50 cent - blood on the sand - diamond skull I knew going in that this was going to be a poor game. I tried it, nonetheless, because someone on the Listen Up podcast mentioned that the game was a lot better than it was given credit for. While I agree that it was better than expected (I expected a 1.5 out of 5) I certainly cannot recommend it beyond a $5 rental.

After playing through on ‘normal’ I was set to give this game a 2 out of 5. However, my score was bumped up to 2.5 after playing it through on hard and playing online co-op. 

The game is ridiculously easy on both normal and hard. It does get a bit (and I mean just a ‘bit’) more challenging towards the end of the game but only on hard mode. Having leveled-up all my weapons, taunts and counter kills (lame melee attacks) before playing co-op, I admit that I had some fun running and gunning through the game, co-operatively with strangers over Xbox-live, with super-pimped out weapons and characters cussing up a storm.

CONTINUE READING →

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Prince of Persia (2008)

Categories: reviewsvideo games
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prince of persia (2008) - the so-called prince

3 rating

(3/5) – action – adventure Reviews: Metacritic 81%| Game Rankings 80.68% | zero punctuation
Reference: wikipedia12 | Achievements
Walkthrus: Mahalo | WikiCheats | GameFAQs
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Engine: Scimitar / Anvil

Game Synopsis

In Prince of Persia (“PoP”), an unnamed prince, who isn’t really a prince, travels with Princess Elika to each of the 24 regions, jumping, climbing dodging, fighting enemies to get to the region’s ‘fertile ground". He defeats a bad guy, Elika ‘heals’ the fertile ground, then they retrace their steps on either side to collect light ‘seeds’ (Crackdown-style) to level up. THEN HE DOES IT ALL AGAIN – TWENTY-FOUR TIMES. That’s the game.

It’s gorgeous and somewhat fun, but left me wanting. I preferred the the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time on the original Xbox – especially the fighting elements and the ability to rewind time.

General Observations

Tomb Raider Meets God of War : The game style can best be described as a cell-shaded combination of God of War, Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider without GoW’s terrific combo-leveling up system. I note that PoP uses the same game engine as Assassin’s Creed (Scimitar) which explains a lot.

prince of persia (2008) - grand scale Grander in Scale: This Prince of Persia is much grander in scale than the original Prince of Persia: Sands of Time  and similar in scope to Assassin’s Creed.

Level Intricacies: The intricacies of the 24  regions are quite amazing – especially given their three dimensional nature. You explore every nook and cranny, but, unfortunately, you must explore each nook at least three times to fully complete the game. This is the poster-child for games that extend play by forcing you to retrace your steps, over and over.

CONTINUE READING →

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Silent Hill Homecoming is Unplayable – No Y-Axis Inversion

Categories: reviewsvideo games
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buy-from-amazon.ca

Reviews: Metacritic 73%| Game Rankings 77%
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
WalkthrusWikiCheats | GameFAQ   | Mahalo
Developers: Konami | Double Helix Games
Genre: survivor – horror
Status: Abandoned after escaping hospital

As explained in my “Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches” post, I had to abandon Silent Hill Homecoming due to nausea caused by the inability to invert the Y-axis.

It came as a shock to me that, while there is an option to invert the Y-axis when shooting, Silent Hill Homecoming does not give you the player the option to invert the Y-axis when walking around, fighting or doing anything else in the game. This is extremely rare in modern video games.

silent hill homecoming nurse killingA quick Google search to see if there is a patch, cheat code or some other way  to rectify the situation yields posts like this one and flame wars like this one. It seems that Konami is aware of the issue and just doesn’t care. No patch is available and none is in the works. It’s truly bizarre that Konami does not provide an across-the-board option to invert the Y-axis in a major title such as Silent Hill. This is a standard option in virtually every console game that comes out these days.

The upshot for me – the game was unplayable. I tried. I killed some nurses and critters, got a couple achievements and made it out of the hospital. But 25 minutes of playing without inversion made me too dizzy and nauseous to continue. FYI, the game also suffers from reliance on quick time events – which I detest.

Thank goodness this was a rental. Back it goes.

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Mercenaries 2: World in Flames – Abandoned Due to Nausea

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Reviews: Metacritic 73%| Game Rankings 72% | zero punctuation
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
Walkthrus: MahaloWikiCheats | GameFAQ  
Developers: Pandemic Studios | Pi Studios
Genre: Third person shooter
Status: Abandoned after first level

As a shooter fan, I was looking forward to Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Unfortunately, I had to abandon it after the first level due to nausea. 

jennifer mui - mercenaries 2Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was fun – as far as I got. Nothing spectacular, but some good old-fashioned sand-boxy, shooter fun.

I unintentionally ended up playing the hottie female character, Jennifer Mui, pictured to the right. I’m not sure how that happened because I didn’t necessarily intend to pick her. But she was fun to play nonetheless

The weapons were fun, the controls were responsive, the vehicles were enjoyable. I liked the tracer-bullet effects (would like to see that in more shooters). The sounds were realistic. The collecting cash bit was a bit cheeky. It looked like it was going to be a fun romp.

But, within minutes of starting, that old-familiar dizziness, headachy feeling that, in me, leads to nausea, reared its ugly head, forcing me to stop playing an otherwise enjoyable game.

It’s been awhile since nausea (in this case for the x-factor reason) forced me to stop playing a game. Having also been forced to also stop playing Silent Hill Homecoming due to nausea (caused for a different reason), I decided to write this “Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches” post.

I hope those with stronger stomachs/heads enjoy Merc 2. :)

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Star Wars: Force Unleashed

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3.5 rating  (3.5/5) 
Reviews: Metacritic 72%| Game Rankings 72%  | zero punctuation
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
Walkthrus: MahaloWikiCheats | GameFAQ  
Developer: Lucas Arts Genre: Action-Adventure
Engine: Ronin, DMM, Havok and Euphoria

Pros:
engaging story – music – excellent auto-save points – genuinely fun – first rate physics – achievable achievements – fair

Cons: some camera issues – use of quick-time controls – boss battles – no co-op or online modes – corridor corralling

Fun

Simply put, for action-adventure fans, Star Wars: Force Unleashed (SWFU) is a fun game, with a nice difficulty ramp, good auto-save points and challenging for players at all skill levels.  The primary gaming mechanic are force powers similar to the telekinesis powers in Deus Ex: Invisible War  While a tad glitchy, the game was generally solid. Unlike so many other games, (except for the star destroyer boss battle discussed below) I didn’t feel cheated by silly gimmicks to prolong game-play or artificially make the game more challenging. It was generally all-round good fun.

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Darth Vadar on the Wookie Planet of Kashyyk

Star Wars Story Between Episodes III and IV

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Juno kisses Starkiller Star Wars fans will enjoy the story. It is a reasonably immersive, entertaining and well told story about Darth Vader’s apprentice, Starkiller and his love interest Juno Eclipse. The story takes place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars series. However, it wasn’t a ‘bridge’ between the two episodes as I had been lead to believe. It was more or less an irrelevant side-story (much in the way the Enter the Matrix game was an engaging side story to the Matrix Trilogy) involving some of the familiar Star Wars characters (Darth Vader, Princess Leia (using Carrie Fisher’s likeness but not her voice), Senator Organa (using Jimmy Smits likeness and his voice), Senator Organa (briefly using Ewan McGregor’s likeness) , R2D2, Emperor Palpatine, among others).

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and Starkiller Star Wars - Force Unleashed - starkiller and princess leia

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Too Human

Categories: reviewsvideo games
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buy-from-amazon.ca

Reviews: Metacritic 65%| Game Rankings 68% | zero punctuation
Reference: GameFAQ | wikipedia12
Developer: Silicon Knights, Engine: Proprietary Genre: Action-RPG
Status: Abandoned after 3 hours

Pros: beautiful, well-rendered environments – user selectable save points – good graphics/character models – solid cinematic production values – good death/penalty system – online co-op (though oddly without story elements)

Cons: no camera control – nausea inducing – story didn’t grab me – too complex for little pay off – too much button mashing – ballistic aiming was poor – too much HUD – no story/direction screen

As a Canadian, with the Silicon Knights development studio just a few miles across Lake Ontario from me in St. Catherine’s Ontario, I felt obligated to give Too Human a try. Plus, after listening to dozens of interviews by Denis Dyack and with all the controversy swirling around this game, I was curious.

I made it just past the point where you have to choose to go the human or cyborg paths (about 3 hours in) where I abandoned the game. I’m generally not an RPG-playing, leveling-up, inventory-managing, kind of guy though I enjoyed both KOTOR and Mass Effect enough to finish them (I similarly abandoned Oblivion after a few hours, though I made it through a good 10 hours or so of Morrowind).

Too Human Fighting Sequence

Camera Control Issue

Lack of camera-control is one of my bigger video game pet-peeves. Too Human is one such game. I listened to Dyack go on and on about the cinematic advantageous of allowing the game to control the camera – analogizing that movie viewers don’t control the camera. Sorry Denise, movie-goers are passive by definition. While your game was among the better games without camera I’ve played, every game like this is a loser for two big reasons:

  1. they always make me nauseous (Too Human was no exception); and
  2. I need/want to control my view to fight the battles the way I want to fight them – not the way a game designer intends.

I’ve only played a few games to the end that did not allow me to manage the camera: God of War 1, God of War 2 and Munch’s Odyssey. Most others I won’t even try. I’ve never managed any in the Resident Evil series for more than 10 to 15 minutes without needing to toss my cookies.

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Resistance Fall of Man Mini-review

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resistance fall of man cover art4 rating  (4/5) – shooter

Reviews: Metacritic 86%| Game Rankings 87% 
Reference: Trophies – none| wikipedia12
Walkthrus: WikiCheats | GameFAQ | IGN
Developer: Insomniac Games
Engine: Insomniac Engine

Note: The pros and cons portion of this post was written in  April 2008. I am posting this entry on November 4, 2008 – the day I purchased Resistance 2. I have back-dated this post to April of 2008 to reflect the time period when I played the game.

Initial Experience – Pre Rumble

I picked up Resistance Fall of Man (RFoM) the day I purchased my PS3 in August of 2007). However, my initial experience wasn’t good. After years of playing console-based shooters on my Xbox 360, RFoM didn’t feel right without rumble – regardless of its merits. After a level or two, the game was set aside … until …

Resistance Fall of Man – Post Rumble – Ummm…. Good!

In mid April, 2008, Sony finally released the Dual Shock 3 controller with rumble. After figuring out how to get rumble to work (details here), I gave the game another try.  I’m glad I did. I liked it so much I played through the entire game and then played 50% of it through again on the hardest level.

I was surprised and delighted with how much I enjoyed the game. It took me awhile to get into it but was really enjoying it once I figured it out (especially the unique weaponry).

resistance fall of man picture 1

CONTINUE READING →

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Orange Box – Mini Review

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orange box cover art3.5 rating    (3.5/5) – shooter – platformer

Reviews: Metacritic 96%
Reference: wikipedia12
Developer: Valve Corporation Engine: Valve’s Source Engine

[Note: This mini-review predates the founding of the Daleisphere. It was culled from an email I wrote to friends about the game in early December 2007.]

Orange Box consists of several games in one package:

  • Half Life 2 and the mini-sequels Episodes 1 and 2,
  • Portal (there will be cake :) )
  • Team Fortress

Certainly worth a rental if you’ve never played Half-Life 2 – or even for Portal. Unfortunately, as was the case on the PC, Half-Life is a game that gives me headaches and makes me nauseous after 30 minutes of play. I cannot sit with it long enough to play it through. If whatever does this doesn’t affect you, its quite a nice shooter. Though I wouldn’t give it the kudos its getting in the press. 

The game “Portal” also makes the Orange Box worth a rental. It’s playable all the way through in just a few hours. I enjoyed it quite a bit. 

I didn’t try Team Fortress (which is getting terrific reviews) – it is an online only game and nobody I know has the game.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Mini Review

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call of duty 4 - modern warfare box art3.5 rating    (4.5/5) – shooter

Reviews: Metacritic 94%| Game Rankings 94% 
Reference:
 wikipedia12
Developer: Infinity Ward Engine: Infinity Ward proprietary

[Note: This mini-review predates the founding of the Daleisphere. It was culled from an email I wrote to friends about the game in early December 2007.]

Wow, did Infinity Ward EVER out-do themselves here.

This is the shortest shooter I have ever played. I finished it in about 6 hours. But oh, what a sweet 6 hours they were. 

In a way it was a bit like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in that they brought a few cinematic elements to the game that I’ve never quite experienced in a shooter before.  The part where you are the gunner in AC 130 gunship looked like it was taken from actual footage of the Iraq war. Very, very compelling.  I have NO complaints about the game except it was too short.

Infinity Ward made COD2 and 4. Activision farmed out COD3 to Treyarch. They should NEVER do that again as Call of Duty 3 was really quite bad. Infinity Ward has made this more than a respectable franchise again.

Because I had nobody to play this game with online, I can’t say much about the online play (which I tried a few times). It’s getting very good online reviews though.

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Mini Review

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uncharted - drake's fortune - box art 5 rating  (5/5) – action – adventure

Reviews: Metacritic 88%| Game Rankings 89.69%
Reference: wikipedia12
Developer: Naughty Dog Engine: Naughty Dog proprietary

[Note: This mini-review predates the founding of the Daleisphere. It was culled from an email I wrote to friends about the game in early December 2007.]

Just finished the PS3 exclusive ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’.  Prior to this game, the most fun I had on the PS3 was playing the PS2 titles God of War 1 and 2.  Finally, a PS3 exclusive that is top notch.

image This is an THE BEST action adventure game I have ever played. Very much in the tradition of Laura Croft, Indiana Jones, Prince of Persia and many others, but with much, much more. I’ve never quite played anything like it.

Naughty Dog really took advantage of the PS3. It has more “realism, and is more cinematic than any video game I’ve played. The story is terrific – the most “adult” (in the sense of mature, developed characters – not simplistic and juvenile) video game story I’ve experienced. They hired real actors to play the characters and the actors participated in both the motion capture and voice work – simultaneously. A rarity in video games. The result was wonderful.

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Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock – Mini Review

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image2 rating    (2/5) – music simulation

Reviews: Metacritic 92%| Game Rankings 86.32% 
Reference: wikipedia12
Developer: Neversoft

[Note: This mini-review predates the founding of the Daleisphere. It was culled from an email I wrote to friends about the game in early December 2007.]

I really enjoyed Guitar Hero 2 and was hoping for more guitar fun.

Combat Mode Ruined the Game: Unfortunately, Red Octane decided to include a new “combat” mode that pretty much ruined the game for me. They took a fun premise and turned it into a chore.  What were they thinking? Most of GH3 is the same as GH2 except for the ridiculous combat mode that they FORCE you to play every 10th song to advance. I was unable to “beat” the final “boss”. After 10 tries I just gave up and returned the game to the video rental store.  

Achievements: The Achievements for this game are THE most ridiculous Achievements I’ve seen on any 360 game. If you finish the game I believe they give you less than 100 of the available 1000 points.  I don’t recall what the achievements were any more but I do recall being astonished at how silly they were when I read through the list.

If you don’t have either GH2 or GH3 and want one, Guitar Hero 2 is the better game.

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