Corporal Kitty’s Cracking Top 5 Xbox 360 Games of 2009

The Five 360 games that have been so awesome they have ruined my personal life in 2009

 

5: Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope was my Favourite RPG of 2009, it has just about everything you would need for a fun and in depth adventure into an RPG. The characters and their surroundings were beautifully crafted and cared for, most of the wide open areas you explore are mystical and epic and help create such a detailed and colourful universe. With an array of exciting weapons and monsters to fight and you have that strong EXP system, the combat is balanced perfectly between strategy and real time fighting. The story telling was a little cheesy at times, with some major cheese love plots and seriously fashion deprived bad guys left the game ticking most true RPG fans boxes’ and is a fantastic game to get consumed by.

 

4: Forza 3

I absolutely adore racing games and I wasn’t really spoilt for choice when it came to a hardcore racing games this year with the likes of Fuel, Need for Speed Shift and Dirt 2 being exciting but too easy (Dirt 2 being my second best racing title) but Forza 3 came and wiped the floor with all of these and the other racing titles of 2009. Its clean, smooth and solid, it offers a true consistent racing experience, no huge jumps, no silly physics, just hardcore racing. There is a gigantic stack of cars to choose from with many of the big named car manufactures available and some more of the exotic cars to race, leaves petrol heads like myself in heaven. You can also pimp out your rides by creating some liveries for your car, tune it to perfection or just tint the windows, the customisation is incredible. Not only do you get all this but you also have the Storefront at your disposal, full of videos, cool pictures, other players liveries, leaderboards… it just goes on, defiantly my best racing title of 2009 by a long shot.

 

3: Modern Warfare 2

Obviously this was going to get a mention, I was very hesitant in buying Modern Warfare 2 as I played COD 4 to death with clan matches and seven hour straight sessions for about a year, I wasn’t sure if they could improve this or deliver another exciting single player campaign I also had doubts about the stability of the multiplayer as COD 4 had some serious connection problems for the first two months of release. I’m very glad I bought it now, though it has some irritating glitches, Modern Warfare 2 does deliver an exciting thrilling experience and even Veteran difficulty is still as challenging as always. Everything is improved with added extras and a bit of tinkering with what weapons are available online, perks are better thought out and chosen more wisely, not all are totally balanced but most are help create a fairer online experience. One of my favourite features is the Special Ops, I love sitting down and getting stuck into them with my wingman, we are getting good working together and cover each other without even having to say where that sniper is, this is a unique thing, this level of team bonding is hard to achieve but with a regular team on Modern Warfare 2 (Whatever you play) You can achieve it and create a nicely oiled killing machine.

 

2: Borderlands

After the first ten minutes of play this game had my full attention, I played it for days straight it really took me by surprise how polished the visuals where, all that little cell shaded detail I didn’t think was possible was possible, and with that groovy mad max theme just added heaps of character to Borderlands. There’s a crazy amount of weapons, CRAZY amount, and with the same insane amount of everything else  just leaves you exploring for hours and getting yourself into all sorts of mercenary trouble. There’s a lot of blood and chunks which makes me very happy, the splat from headshots is especially enjoyable along with the elements on weapons like acid and indencary to create more carnage. One of the bigger selling points for me and one of the most fun experiences I’ve had for a while is the co-op, you can enjoy all of this but with friends, just creates so much fun and opens up the game to its full potential, defiantly a must buy in the new year sales.

 

1: Batman Arkham Asylum

A super hero game that wasn’t a PG and wasn’t lame, it was in-fact beautiful in my eyes, Batman is portrayed how he is supposed to be, dark, strong and tainted. The moves you can pull off in this game are seriously cool, cracks, crunches and hard kicks just sound and look painful, which is great as evil must pay in pain. The story is incredible with many hidden links to the true Batman universe scattered throughout the game, exploring as a fan of all this made me very happy. The game was also designed well, the joker’s riddles being a lot of fun to hunt out and collect but incorporated into the levels themselves just bringing the whole game together. There’s a lot of characters you will recognise but some will be hidden for the hardcore fans, which is what I love about the game in general it gives the mainstream audience a great experience but to the hardcore fan it’s like speaking to the games developers themselves about all of this, that’s why Batman Arkham Asylum is my number one Xbox 360 title in 2009, god bless you Batman.

 I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, CK

Review Xbox 360 Arcade: 0 Day Attack on Earth

You will battle through the seven final days that will determine earth’s fate and fight over futuristic metropolitan city’s as you take on the alien scourge in this joystick arcade shooter.

The game has a very original but plain feel, music and menus brings back memories of arcade games on actual arcade machines I used to play and these types of games where, and still are released on the Dreamcast to this day as it’s something I’m interested in, so the market is competitive. The games layout is also very original and plays original, with your tiny band of mini attack craft flying round your screen while large groups of random alien scum try scupper your fight for freedom.. ok, so yeah I like these games a lot and think arcade games are still important in developing original and unique ideas on a small-scale to visualise bigger ideas, but in reality it still has to offer a purpose and entertainment value, especially these days when money is still tight.

You have four different ships to choose from at the beginning and all have various unlock able looks and a bigger meaner looking model, normally named Type-B. Your ships are displayed in the Customise menu option, all eight different models are shown here but locked ships with be blacked out. The chart your ships are displayed in makes it easy to choose your desired vehicle as five different liveries can be unlocked for all of the eight ships and one will have to be selected for use, this also has an addictive quality as the vehicles look like tiny cool Thunderbird Esq toys with a 64 bit vibe. The four different styles of ships ( not counting the Type-B models ) have four different ammo types and these are shown underneath the floating model, they vary well from the Helicopters back and front flamethrowers, to the WW2 Fighter Planes machine gun spray fire (The Jet is slightly weaker than the rest as it has a very slow fire rate) Most vehicles are balanced well enough and have two upgradable attack levels in-game, you get three bombs that can also be triggered  causing extreme damage to everything in a 360 degree radius, adding more action to the battlefield.

The aim of each level is to wipe out the larger alien creatures that have invaded earth within the time limit, these appear on your radar at the bottom left of your screen in red and the other secondary enemies appear in green on your radar, the view-point you have does make it a little hard to find enemies so using your radar to save vital time is necessary but easy. You have a shield which is the green bar at the bottom of the screen, you can refill this by killing enemies and picking up the green crystals they drop, helping you not to die so much. Controls are simple and effective, you fire with the Right Analogue stick as you can fire in a 360 degree radius, bombs are deployed with RB button and Boost is used using the LB button, fighting can get hectic sometimes so the simpler control scheme helps you navigate through the chaos more effectively but does come at a price, it will become very painfully repetitive after a couple of hours, which I find is stupidly addictive but others may find  too much or not interesting enough to hold their interest. I was pleasantly surprised at the enemies you fight as they do have some challenging attacks, like exploding pods firing tiny floating… creatures? Things maybe? I’m not sure but they were tricky, keep your eyes peeled as you progress as different units will be introduced to you ( Larger enemy ground units stay the same each stage )

The levels themselves are designed and polished off very well, very clear and detailed in places. The overall look of the maps adds so much arcade flavour to the fighting, adding more of a quality feel. The different city’s/stages you visit also have different looks, the enemies and units are different for each stage too helping to create that “next stage” feeling as some joystick shooters I’ve played can feel like one long level.  

The levels do get much harder as you progress, normally giving you more of the larger enemies to kill before the times runs out, this gets more and more tricky as sometimes the game will just throw more of the smaller enemies at you, the smaller ones are normally the most dangerous annoyingly. These games are normally frustratingly hard but this title has four player co-op, making it a little bit more accessible to gamers who haven’t spent most of the early hours of the morning listening to repetitive music and playing the same level of PacMan over and over. It is online co-op only though and the connection to the host can be unstable at times unless you have a signal above three bars, which leads to lag if you don’t have a good connection, which inevitably causes death. There is also the Capture the Flag and Control Point multiplayer modes you can take part in, again the same problems arise with lag but there are some players online playing an arcade title for once. You can unlock liveries in most of the modes giving them all a reason to be played but there isn’t enough incentive to keep you playing other than collecting the ships, so the co-op mode is much-needed for this game to be enjoyable for long.

Though the game looks good and is, I guess, developed well with no problems or glitches it doesn’t exactly have much to offer apart from what I’ve already stated which is a run of the mill joystick shooter but with a few perks. After a couple of hours here and there it can become a bit of a chore to play, to me it’s something I will beat myself up with and enjoy for a while but I can see gamers getting rather bored with it and left feeling unchallenged. It’s 1200 MSP which is a big ask and though it is good, it’s not good for long enough to constitute 1200 MSP, for people who love this sort of thing it’s practically perfect but I think this formula of game needs tinkering with for the gamers of today.

Gamer Rating: 6.3

Developer: Gulti CO.LTD.

Publlisher: Square Enix.

Review Xbox 360: Divinity 2 Ego Draconis

This is a tale of a broken land, the people of this world are fighting for peace and prosperity, fighting against evil to free Rivellon of the evil that has risen once again. You are a dragon slayer a highly trained individual spliced with dragon memories to bring you closer to your foe, you are born to slay dragons! This direction is original and Divinity II has an extra dimension, not only are you born to fight dragons you can posses dragons to control and fight with them, making this RPG very tempting for Role playing fans, and fans of mystic creatures and magic.

The first title Divine Divinity was released on CD-ROM in 2002 developed by Larian Studios, Divine Divinity also had a spin off called Beyond Divinity which was released in 2004 on PC , and the difference being with this title is the player could control two characters with full equipment, an interesting direction for Larian to take. Finally Divinity 2: Ego Draconis was released in 2009 on Windows and Xbox 360 platforms after extra time had to be spent to create a full and intriguing game for fans that had patiently waited. I’m relieved to say in the introduction to the game you can feel the mystical RPG vibes even at the start menu, and the game does have an epic ancient feel, the story and voice acting is implemented well and helps bring this long awaited sequel to life. There is however only so much a studio like this can accomplish, even though it’s an incredible feat to release a charming RPG like this it does have drawbacks and problems.

As you begin there is a quite beautiful cut scene with a strange old man on some hovering ship, then it takes you to a warrior chasing a dragon down at ground level, not the most informational cut scene ever created and not the longest either but I’m guessing it’s trying to tell you there is pending danger in the sky’s. After this slight wobbly start you will create and customize your slayer, there isn’t much to customize at the beginning and more work here would have been appreciated, it does feel awfully plain and you may start to doubt if this is a game worth investing time into. Not soon after this your worries should be calmed a little as the game starts to unravel its charm, after leaving your epic flying battle ship you will be introduced to Rhode. Conversations in Divinity 2 take place in boxes, voice acting is great but the constant “over acting” from the characters will make you laugh, it is pretty extreme.

After this unsteady start the game will pretty much let you do what you want, you don’t even have to take the tutorial as it’s optional and tucked in a corner of the first village you will visit, leaving you with a whole world at your finger tips. Camera position is good and camera views aren’t much a problem but not always effective, leaving most of your adventuring a nice and smooth experience as well as general movement being easy to master. Sadly right from the word go there is some rather bad frame rate issues, no doubt because of the amount of detail that has been packed into this title, you can learn to live with it but obviously no frame rate issues would have been better, there are also some sharpness issues which cuts into the quality of the world around you, objects standout because they look sharp and untidy, these two problems don’t spoil the game play just takes away from the whole visual experience.

The beginning of the game is challenging and will make you hunt for anything you can sell to get better gear and you will have to train for long periods of time before you take on any quests as they are a challenge. It’s not objective of the quest that’s the challenge its fighting groups of enemies, its basically suicidal and you will have to plan your attacks carefully as it gets very tricky to execute plans as the combat is better for fighting one enemy at a time not groups, and enemies will just mob you making death inevitable, It is irritating at times but other times it just seems like more of a challenge, saving often helped me progress quicker and overcome this. The game does get a little easier when you get above level 5, skills and stats can be improved slightly also by now you should have some half decent equipment for your level of character from caves and quests and more visual customisation options are available as you come across different styles of equipment.

The aim of the game is basically to proceed through the story improving your character and your skills along the way, you can also collect random things running around on your adventures with the obligatory crate searching which is what adventuring is all about. There isn’t a great deal of items to collect off the ground compared to other games I’ve played in its genre but there’s enough to keep you content, also variety of armour and weapons is rather slow at first and trying to proceed through the first parts of the game is a challenge so expect to invest a lot of hours to see some cool equipment. The enemies you fight aren’t the best looking enemies you’ve ever fought and don’t show a great deal of creativity in design compared to the incredible beings I’ve seen in other games which makes running around training a little stale at times. The problem for me with the combat is camps of enemies don’t respawn bringing gameplay to an uncomfortable crawl when training, this means if you don’t find new same level training areas you can’t proceed as you will be killed by higher levels of enemies very quickly, this isn’t making the game more of a challenge it’s creating a problem for gamers to proceed enjoyably through the game.

Just as you get proficient at what you’re given so far the gameplay takes a slight twist and you will be shown how to control a dragon but only for a short period. You can only fly and attack with the dragon you can’t run around with it so you are directed through these parts when they’re triggered, it’s really quite fun and makes a unexpected and exciting change compared to working hard on improving your character. There are more CG story scenes too throughout the game but because they’re short they don’t help explain what you’re doing or help build the story up, watching dragons fighting is cool but a bit more story telling wouldn’t go a miss. It takes a long time to get to these more exciting parts but it is definitely worth it, it’s such a great direction to take in a game where you invest a lot of time.

As you gain experience you can upgrade skills and attributes, all equipment and skills can be found in the pause menu, which becomes tiring quickly as flicking through tidy but slow menu systems isn’t much fun. Skills are presented well with small circle symbols representing the certain skill and all these are in an easy to use table that separates your mage skills from your warrior skills. When you go to upgrade skills and you’re not sure what they do, a small video is available so you can get the best out of your skill points as levelling up is hard work. Your equipment menu system basically does the job but is a little boring, same is to be said about your logbook, your logbook stores important information about quests and conversations but is hard to navigate and read. You can access your map with the select button but you will find missions hard to track as they’re hard to spot on the map, the map does help you navigate and irritates you at times. Thankfully the waypoint system is decent and they are well placed too, easing the pain of epic journeys but the point of Diversity is to explore your world and investigate every nook and cranny. There are a good amount of caves to venture through and tombs to pillage from so exploring is enjoyable, also there’s alot of objects to look into for valuables in caves making them a bit more rewarding, like tombs should be. 

As with most RPG’s when you progress more power is given to you and your skills become wide spread. Wandering around smiting enemies is enjoyable at this point in the game even with the dodgy targeting system, and you will have a lot more loot to sell opening up more things to enjoy and upgrade. Quests become better as you proceed, killing a ghost in a church basement isn’t totally boring but more exciting quests are open to you as you progress. World design in general is reliable, set out well and combat areas can be navigated through without too much irritation but as the game isn’t polished well another minor irritation is you might occasionally fall through the floor old school glitch style, there’s a lot of these minor irritations that bring the game down slowly. Though to help direct those long hours of gameplay and ease the pain of these little problems you will be given a place to come back to after epic quests to use and create items with those ingredients you have collected, and to buy and sell equipment to the various merchants that will be there. This whole home side to the game will give you something to work on while you do side quests and adventuring and is very welcome after hording a lot of loot.

With a game like this it is going to have its problems but as you spend more and more time you might feel more and more disappointed, it has its enjoyable parts but not enough to keep you battling through to the end, even with the cool possessing dragons slant Larian Studios took. It could have been something different for RPG fans, bringing back some of the older more enjoyable PC RPG element’s for console gamers is a great idea but the Xbox 360 console version is too inconsistent leaving you feeling robbed of your time. If you’re really into this type of game and like spending silly amounts of time beating one game id still give it some thought, it would be a lot wiser to invest in a PC version of the game, but as for everybody else, well they will become bored and lost in the game it is too much of a challenge to overcome its problems and enjoy what’s there, which is a shame it shows a lot of hard work but with a couple of more weeks polish up time this could have been enjoyable and not so irritating.

Gamer rating: 6.2

Buy, Rent or Pass: Rent

Publisher: CDV Software
Developer: Larian Studios

Review Xbox 360 Arcade: Call of Duty Classic

Video games have come a long way since I was a little girl, even more so in the past ten years. The visual quality of games has taken a huge leap since the days when Call of Duty was first released by Activision in 2003, and you can truly see how far the Call of Duty series has come over the years especially battling other popular war titles at the time like Medal of Honour, makes the rise of the CoD series even more astounding.

Call of Duty Classic is well as it says on the tin, a classic. This game shows you the very foundations of the series where the great features and dramatics started so to speak. Visually it looks basic with no textures or in fact soldier shadows pointed out by my friend really does take you back to a time where quality of game play really mattered. Over the past ten years game have developed at an incredibly speed visually, look at Modern Warfare 2 now with all of its details like dust, explosions and textures and take a look at early PS2 games and Original Xbox games, even the difference between those and our modern day console titles is quite incredible when you get the chance to take a step back with a port like this.

As I started playing my brother said “That’s your CoD face” I was truly consumed in this original, all of the greatest parts of the CoD series originate with this title and you can experience it right now in 2009. Controls are the same as our modern CoD’s, this is where the standard 1st person shooter button layout came from, I play so many 360 first person shooters that have this button layout it’s interesting to see where it came from. You get the exact same feel playing it, all the excitement is still there but in a more simple form which is just as enjoyable and fierce and intense fighting that we experience now.

You have the story mode to complete consisting of three different sides, Russian, British, and American, the story mode is pretty awesome. You also have Leaderboards to explore and Achievements to hunt, but best of all you have multiplayer. Multiplayer is great fun and you have a decent amount of modes to choose from, it’s such a selling point for this XBLA title as it so much fun, it’s like CoD but made all dinky and small almost compared to our modern CoD multiplayer.

If you enjoy CoD even if you’ve only played the 360 CoD titles you will enjoy this game. The feel you get is purely original even in the multiplayer it shines through, this isn’t a title to miss as you get a great insight into the CoD series and history but you also get so much fun and enjoyment from playing it on your own or with your friends.

Gamer Rating: 8.9/10

Buy or Pass: Buy

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward