Review Xbox 360: Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman is back and looking darker and stronger than ever in this amazing dark comic fight between good and evil.

The joker has been captured again and is on his way down to Arkham Asylum, Batman arrives to oversee the joker’s containment into his cell. All is well until the joker is lead to his holding area, he escapes knocking out the guard that was with him and with help from his deadly female assistant in the security room (Harley Quinn) he gains control of the asylum and takes no time in telling Batman it is a trap and he has wandered right into it…. it’s going to be a long night…

The joker will send a few thugs at this point and the tutorial begins. There isn’t much to learn from the basics of combat like striking (x) counter attacks (y) and running (A) and after that you will be introduced to Batman’s ability’s and combos. After this the game starts to get into full swing with fighting action and minor puzzles, but you do (to an extent) get to free roam round the map finding secrets and collectables along the way and also background information on the characters like audio files and bio’s, which is interesting for once, no pointless information and this adds depth and interest to the game and its characters.

Batman has a couple of tricks up his sleeve in the form of gadgets and ability’s. Your gadgets come in very handy in reaching places you can’t normally reach, the grapnel gun helps Batman move to higher areas and the Explosive gel breaks down weak walls, these two things alone help you make better use of the detailed and challenging areas you will come across. You also have your Batarang which acts like a stun weapon, you can also upgrade these gadgets in the menu by pressing select but you must have enough points to do so, you gain points from finding collectables, combat and completing objectives. There are some pretty cool and varied upgrades as well, no simple upgrade to the power or effectiveness you instead gain extra ability’s like for example your Batarang there’s an upgrade called multi batarang which lets you hit two foes instead of one.

Not only is there collectables and upgrades but there are Riddler challenges to complete. If you stray close to one or enter a room with a Riddler challenge, a cryptic message will appear in green at the top of the screen and you must figure it out and scan (left bumper button) the area or thing you think the Riddler is talking about. Some are very easy, some are on the way to objectives, some aren’t, and these challenges are everywhere and vary in difficulty and are a great challenge and also are fun and rewarding as some of the achievements are linked round this. Some of the collectables and riddles are only available with a certain upgrades, so revisiting areas is a must and it doesn’t feel boring going back for them as you will find enemies randomly on the way to areas.

The in game menu (select/back button) is also something I must mention as it’s very well thought out. You have you blue print style map that shows your Riddler challenges and your current objectives. If you scroll along with the right or left bumper button you can look at your upgrades (Waynetech), Riddler’s challenges list and character bio’s. Then after that to scroll through various parts of the tiers you press the X button, makes looking at your growing collection even better.

There are many hidden things in this game like the many references to the batman universe for example there’s a statue in the big plant area and it’s a monument of Amadeus’s wife but with her head missing, deep into the batman universe Amadeus’ wife was beheaded by the Maddog also other characters like Clayface don’t make an appearance in the game as fightable enemy’s but at one point you’ll see a cell that has Commissioner Gordon in it, go do something and come back and he’s changed the Main guy who’s running Arkham check him in bat vision and he doesn’t have any bones because he is Clayface. Huge fans of Batman will be doing back flips when you see what I’m talking about and there is a lot to flip about with the game being as good as it is anyway without these hidden gems.

Apart from the immense campaign Batman Arkham Asylum offers you a challenge mode. You need to unlock the levels first in campaign by finding one of Riddler’s trophies normally,then after that on the start menu you can select the first one, they vary in what you have to do, from rounds of combat to sneaking around taking out enemy’s stealthily and being timed along the way. To get a Bat like award you must work hard, the word “challenge” is actually the perfect word for this feature and will have you practising a while before going for gold, again achievements are linked into this mode.

The game its self looks gorgeous, water effects look top notch, lighting effects create heaps of drama and everything else is just as good. Batman and the other characters are fantastically portrayed in the more preferred darker style and the detail is incredible. The normal enemy’s are just as high quality also, I couldn’t out anything that is wrong and I can’t find anything I don’t like either, it will have all audiences wowing at the quality on everything including the asylum it’s self. Voice over’s suit the dark portrayal of the characters and hold depth and emotion well, the story scenes are just as enjoyable as the kick ass bat combat and are a joy to watch.

I think this game will please every person it touches as the quality running through is of a new Standard for 360 titles. The campaign is structured so you will have a high quality of play from start to finish and with its puzzles and collectables to boot, all of which you will be rewarded for. It also holds a place in fans hearts with hidden messages which we all franticly search for in our favourite comic to game titles and even if you’re not a fan or a huge fan of batman you will still enjoy it for what it is, a nearly perfect 360 title for this period of time, best game I’ve played all year id recommend it personally to most gamers.

Gamer Rating: 9.4

Buy, Rent or Pass: BUY

Published by: Eidos Interactive
Developed by: Rocksteady Studios

 

Xbox 360: Twitter and Facebook, how will they be received?

 

So we all know they are coming now but will they be as bigger hit as everyone thinks?

Remember when MSN came out on the 360’s dashboard, it was brilliant at first being able to chat to your MSN friends but however it got very old for me and for a good number of my friends, as constantly trying to use the chat pad to type back is quiet hard and a challenge when you’re in game and want to get back to play. I ended up taking of my MSN account as it was just getting to crazy and I never got to play anything and at the time my pc was broken so I didn’t have MSN other than on the 360.

I can see this being a hit with people who don’t use their laptop/tower a great deal, it is a easy and simple way of accessing the social networking sites but for people who go on those sites regularly with a browser I don’t think they will use it much as it can be such a pain to use while you’re trying to do other things on the dashboard. I think we can all enjoy it but at different levels and it is nice to see new features coming to the dashboard, but as someone who won’t exactly use them much after the initial shine has worn off I would have rather had the avatar rewards up and running properly and a faster service all together but even I still think it’s a step in the right direction.

Another worry I have is how much these features are going to slow down the overall service after all the team say they have just upgraded the speed and a few problems with the menu sticking, it would be a shame to do this and for the service to go back a few steps in the way of speed and ease to use. Remember these features are accessible from the dashboard only and not in game or while you’re watching a movie, so use of them will be held back while you’re doing other things, which is a great idea.

One thing I must say it does make the 360 seem capable of more, these extra features show what the 360 is capable of and the new features have been created with a very classy look that fits in with the 360 dashboards overall design. The avatars incorporated also give a Microsoft slant on the features so you can relate to them visually and is overall user friendly. These features are important to a degree, they give the 360’s CV a boost in the way off selling more consoles and appealing to the general public, just please don’t forget about us more serious gamers Microsoft.

Review Xbox 360: Ghostbusters the video game.

Terminal Reality developed this title and with many of the old cast from the movies gives this title a sense of excitement with what it could have to offer for 360 gamers and also fans of the series in general. It’s basically the third movie but it has been docked and shaped to fit this third person action video game.

Many of the original cast members from the films were involved in the game’s production. Each of the actors who portrayed the Ghostbusters in the films, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson have their film characters in this game and have lent their voices and likeness to the game, which brings a good whole original feel for the games story to be built upon. I’m not going to get into the story too much but its solid and believable from the movies prospective, which again helps this title have that big heart and humour the films had. The humour is very original and works very well, had me laughing and smiling a lot which makes a nice change from brutal humour or serious drama, it hits that friendly funny comedic genre which is defiantly what a game like this, with the background it has, should be aiming for. You are portrayed as the newbie, a recruit in the Ghostbusters ghost fighting team, which helps bring your character into the story so you’re not left out and frees the other four for dialogue and humour.

When you start you’re introduced to the gang as the rookie, after the initial starting cut scene you have your first taste of ghost hunting. You have a third person view where you can use your proton pack, and a first person view where you can look for signs of ghost and paranormal activity using your goggles and PKE meter. In the first person mode you can find signs of ghosts which get saved in the pause menu but you can also look for artefacts, random haunted objects famous through time, these are also saved in the pause menu. This view also helps to spice up game play by giving you a usable different view point, so it is basically a 3rd and 1st person game as it pulls both views off well.

The object of the game is basically play through each level dispensing of ghosts and getting to the bottom of this disturbance in your reality, which can lead you to parts of the plot and the more famous enemy characters from the movies. When you fight ghosts there are a couple of stages you must put them through to capture them but it isn’t that difficult. You must first sap the ghosts health away with your proton pack then, when your ghost is on low health you must lasso it and slam it off walls to stun it, then drop a trap with the X button and move your ghost over to the trap and wrestle with it until it is sucked in, it’s not that hard and you can become rather good at it capturing many ghosts quickly but after a while does become a bit old constantly capturing ghosts, but the fact you can collect information on them if you can scan them helps keep you focused on collecting information than constant ghost bashing.

The levels are nicely layered out some with limited space to fight and some levels in the street with a lot of space to fight in, you can also damage everything around you and the damage you do is totalled up in the pause menu when you look through your stats, it’s always nice to see how much or little destruction and havoc you cause in a game. The game has a lot of fun detail as well from funny banter not just between the four famous characters but they also joke with you as well, you rookie character become one of the team and you do see it and feel it. Levels have a good lot of detail especial when you can destroy just about everything you can also pick objects up and move them with your proton pack, adding a small puzzle element.

The bosses are epic but either are seriously hard or pathetically easy, which gives the game inconsistent level endings, which is a big shame that the levels flow well and are consistent, to then have a hit or miss boss. The bosses are entertaining especially when you encounter one from the movies and there is a lot of good humour between the bunch. There are also a good variety of enemies to capture and kill as not all enemies are ghosts, which is a must as you collect data and helps keep the game entertaining.

Your proton pack come with a few perks as well, you can upgrade your proton pack with points you collects from artefacts, ghost data and just from capturing ghosts (with your trap not a team mates). You also unlock other types of steams with your proton pack, from slime (which is brilliant for covering your friends with) to stasis streams. These different streams do a number of things, a stasis stream is made up of dark matter and can slow down or even freeze enemies, which is good for super fast ghouls. You also have slime tethers which are exactly what they sound like, slime string, which they use in game very well. You must use a variety of weapons not just on ghosts but in your surroundings too, adding depth to the levels, and you have a secondary attack for all four different streams, which again helps to keep it fresh and take out multiple enemies when over whelmed. The only problem I have with this whole system is it can get very confusing having four characters in one level with proton packs, especially in smaller areas. You can often knock yourself down or hurt others, so you have to run over and save there Ghostbusters rump from peril… again… and again. Also your main proto stream is very bright, again especially when you cross a friends stream but Iam not entirely sure how they could have got past this problem except for all levels to be huge, which wouldn’t have worked with the story. No game is perfect unless you love it to bits but this problem will become more apparent when you progress through the game, big shame.

The game looks better than I was expecting it to be, I was expecting some quality to be cut somewhere but all is above the normal 360 standard. In fact the faces of all characters including your rookie character have great emotion detail, making the jokes even funnier! This makes all the characters feel real and almost movie like which adds a good overall quality to characters and the story line. The level quality is good but you can tell a lot more work has been put into the more important story and character detail, which is nice to see as game play and feel should always come before anything else, I game is supposed to be enjoyable overall not a chore to play.

Voice acting is brilliant, and I’d like to say as someone who has enjoyed this title, thank you. The humour really does add a lot of Ghostbusters heart to the game which fills me full of joy as I loved Ghostbusters when I was younger and was a little hesitant to buy this as it’s a game of a movie and that genre hasn’t particularly held up its side of the deal with rushed and empty games, but with your favourite loved characters making (maybe) a last appearance on our screens just makes you glad you bought/rented it. To go out in style in a computer game is a brilliant way to say thanks to all the fans, which you will pick up on playing this title even if you weren’t a fan or haven’t seen the films.

Like most 360 games sadly Ghostbusters doesn’t really take that long to complete on normal so it doesn’t have a long life a head of it, but that doesn’t mean I will be trading it in, I won’t be. I was really hesitant with this title and was very hard on it but it has given me so much joy and fun I have seen what it truly offers, fun, laughs and some good action. The fact it has four play co –op over Xbox live gives it an even better twist, Xbox live its self breathes community like life into all 360 titles and shouldn’t be underestimated. Story is very enjoyable and is the backbone of this game (makes a change) but along with steady and challenging combat and bosses, leaves you satisfied, not ecstatic but happy. It has a lot to offer to a lot of people but doesn’t come without its flaws, Ghostbusters however could please a much bigger child friendly market, I can see groups of kids enjoying this over Xbox live with four player co – op and with no hint of violence, which the 360 need more off as not all its customers are over 18. Ghostbusters shouldn’t be missed even with its flaws as it offers something that people have been asking for, entertainment!

Gamer Rating: 8

Buy, Rent or Pass: Rent

Published by: Atari
Developed by: Terminal Reality

Originally posted at www.xboxliveaddicts.co.uk

Review Xbox 360: Wolfenstien

You are Allied agent B.J. Blazkowicz, you’ve been sent into the city of Isenstadt deep behind enemy lines to stop the Third Reich from developing mysterious powerful artefacts. These artefacts hold huge power and use Black sun energy which unveil secrets and hidden paths that you will need to use to become successful in stopping the Third Reich from global domination. Agent Blazkowicz will need to work with the resistance in this city to stop the Third Reich; pockets of resistance will be found throughout the city and will be marked on the city map. This structure helps support the incredibly farfetched story and gives a free play element with the games story’s detail as you can talk to members of the resistance for information on several different things, but most is dialogue filler to add depth to other characters in game. 

There are little story events as you play through in certain areas along with more pointless dialogue. The script is structured well but is too heavy for the average shooter fan. The story is often overpowered by the constant action and violence but is interesting and necessary to move the game along to its ending.

The controls are just like COD 4 making the game very easy to play from the start. You don’t get much of a tutorial apart from certain points in the game where certain artefact powers are explained to you. Your thrust into the city and your soon on your feet as the compass at the top of the screen is easy to follow and movement is quick and smooth. You will notice straight away it has a lot of shooting action, Nazis are killed very easily but there are plenty of them, it’s the stranger more powerful possessed enemies you should worry about as they have weaknesses that need to be exploited to kill them, giving two different experiences in combat which is everywhere on the streets.

You also get a puzzle vibe from Wolfenstien as you have an artefact yourself which gives you a unique insight into another dark dimension. You have various powers giving the levels more depth and gives it another side other than the fantastic bloody gore, it also helps introduce a collection side to the game as you can collect large amounts of gold and intelligence round the city and in individual levels and even more so by using your powers. There is a lot of gold to collect in the whole game bit too much and you have to read the intelligence you get which gets very old very quickly but your are rewarded with the chance to upgrade your ability’s or buy weapons whenever you are back in the city. Some of wolfenstien’s puzzle elements work really well like the Viel Sight, look for a sun like symbol on painted onto walls then activate the viel power (Down on D-Pad) and the wall will disappear, this gives the game a good twist and is very useful. You also have the Mire power which slows down time allowing you to overcome obstacles and creates good puzzle sequences and outcomes. The Shield power is also used in different ways to progress through the game, protecting you from dangers or multiple enemies.

The guns are somewhat varied from traditional WW2 weapons to strange high tech but large crude weaponry like the Particle cannon, can change the feel of the combat completely from WW2 shooter to rampaging violence. There are also the regular mounted weapons and explosive barrels to use and good old smash boxes for ammo trick, though grenades are disappointing as the explosions and special effects aren’t great and leave a lot to be desired as most 360 titles are up to a certain standard.

The look of the levels are good but that’s it…. just good, but level design does fit well with the WW2/alien artefacts style that is Wolfenstien and it does portray a dark gothic style. There is a lot of gore, there is a lot of body dismemberment but the blood effects aren’t great either which is acceptable but slightly irritating as it wouldn’t have taken much to polish of a few sides of Wolfenstien to give you more simple pleasures like bloody headshots.

The fact that secrets could be hidden round you constantly keeps you on your toes looking for gold and has the 1st person shoot side, feeding you gore and action when tired of robbing Nazi gold. You can also upgrade your weapons sometimes making them look strange…. this helps to keep you interested and rewarded but finding every piece of gold? Good luck. The game itself is incredibly easy, a small amount of enemy’s are challenging but the puzzles aren’t challenging just different and your objectives aren’t hard either but you can still get a lot of fun out of the split personality wolfenstien has.

With all of this thrown in together in a Nazi like blender, the overall game play is interesting and entertaining for long periods of time but I can’t help feel they have brought it down with too much dialogue and too little emotion when the story scenes occur and can leave a bit of a black smudge on the title for its portrayal of its story, it is very boring to sit through. The offline campaign is too short especially with the free play and level style wolfenstien has and could make better use of its overall structure. It does however give you a different shooter to get your teeth into and attention has went into the multiplayer as well the online gives this title a longer life. You have varied modes to choose from and is set out like a simplified version of COD 4’s online but with Bad Company’s soldier classes, however the lag is appalling but you can get a good amount of decent online matches (a lot of the achievements for this game are online)

Overall Wolfenstien gives you two different shooting experiences between Dark dimensions and advanced ancient technology, and the WW2 bolt action rifles and grenades theme, both play well and merge seamlessly to give you instant access to each, creating interesting puzzles and interesting ways of solving them. Sadly it is too short and the great fighting and level structure goes to waste as there isn’t enough to play, along with most of the enemy’s are really easy to kill and a small amount of bosses, leaves the game flat and it has the same feel start to finish but with really good game play elements and ideas. The online multiplayer is much more rewarding with many more interesting modes and features to explore, which is good don’t get me wrong but should not have sacrificed the offline campaign for a better shooter online experience as COD 4 soaks most of the online user base up then followed by Bad Company and others, so it’s only worth a rent even for the online, for the simple fact it’s far too short but great ideas and cross world gaming experience.

Gamer Rating: 7.2

Buy, Rent or Pass: Buy 

Published by: Activision
Developed by: Raven Software

Originally posted at www.xboxliveaddicts.co.uk

Review Xbox 360 Arcade: Bubble Bobble Neo.

 

Bubble bobble is a much loved favourite from the Nes years and holds its adorable dinosaur charm in its new XBLA wrapper.

You play two cute dinosaur brothers who shoot out bubbles to trap their foes and gobble multiple food items like two strange packmen like dinosaurs, which appeals to many with its original challenging feel.

The aim of the game is to defeat waves/levels of various colourful foes by firing bubbles and then in casing your enemy, you then must pop the bubble by head butting it or jumping on it, sounds simple right? Well it is until you reach harder levels, you will then have multiple enemy’s on screen that are free and then ones you have trapped, it becomes quite a challenge to keep your little dinosaur alive but very addictive. A cute feature you will need to use to progress is, if you’re stuck you must blow bubbles to bounce off to get out of hole or to reach unreachable areas, this just helps to fight of the very repetitive feel most arcade games have.

The levels are set out just like packman but with better graphics and a few different layouts, you can fall from the bottom of the screen to the top making it easier to jump on those floating foes but be carefull for free foes! You must also gobble as much fruit and food as possible to climb up those XBLA leader boards and beat your friends! You also have various power ups to munch to help you through the waves like fire balls, bubbles containing lightning bolts and other very random powers which are a life saver in later levels. You can also stumble across munch able objects that look like potions, eat one of these and you will be given a short amount of time to collect as many bonus objects as you can, which when over kills all enemy’s and gives you a nice big point bonus and a even bigger bonus if you collect them all in one go.

There are three modes to choose from, Classic mode, Arrange mode and VS mode. Classic mode is the original arcade game itself with various levels to get through to save your princesses. Arrange mode is the same but with bigger levels as its supports four players in your sitting room, which is rare these days as most full titles don’t support other players/friends on your screen at home but you will find that most XBL Arcade titles support online play and have the option to play with friends on one console, which has always been good fun. Sadly Bubble Bobble doesn’t have online play but has four player co-op or VS; VS mode is battle royal of four different coloured dinosaurs fighting it out with bubbles and other random objects.

Overall its rather addictive with its bright colours and random madness or course keeps most of the fun feel from its Nes days, Bubble Bobble will most likely appeal to fans, girls and family’s as it involves cute dinosaurs that blow bubbles, I’m not being sexist it’s just most men/boys are not really into cute multi coloured dinosaurs that eat lolly’s…. Though it is a lot of fun and challenging in a good way 800 MSP is a little pricey for something that doesn’t have online capabilities and is, well like most arcade titles far too short. The choice is yours as always but if the price is not a problem it will make a welcome addition to your XBL Arcade collection.

Gamer Rating: 7.5 

Buy or Pass: Buy

Published by: Taito
Developed by: Taito

Originally posted at: http://www.xboxliveaddicts.co.uk