Review: Xbox 360: Binary Domain

I’m going to get right to the point… Binary Domain really does have the crappiest looking box art that I’ve seen for a good while, very generic for a first person shooter. The whole strutting guy thing got old a while back too and I over looked it for that one fact alone. I then however saw a couple of comments on twitter basically saying it was a bit of alright.

I picked a copy up and began to play and realised the controls worked pretty well, the environment was rather impressive and character roster in a cliche way was fun and familiar. Binary Domain revolves around a two sided struggle between humans and A.I. It’s up to you to start pushing back against these metal menaces!

You proceed through various parts of the city taking out various squads of robots to reach objectives and goals to ultimately uncover the fate of humanity. This is simply great fun when you first begin as you can blow various parts off the robots in various ways. There are various characters that accompany you though the game, all having different strengths and styles of combat. The classes don’t create a huge amount of difference and your buddies can be a bit clumsy. They’ll start to dislike you as well if you clip them with fire. A blue bar will appear that indicates whether you’re on their good side or their bad side. If you stay on their good-side characters fight harder or by answering their questions right, they’ll try and be that harder to kill when push comes to shove. This is a feature that runs through the game and often links into button prompted scenes too which gives Binary Domain enough action and pace to carry the slightly predictable story of man vs. machine.

As you progress through the levels you’ll hit the boss. They normally require you to hit certain weak spots and dodge there series of tactical advances. These parts of BD are especially rewarding as you get to hammer the bosses with everything you have in your arsenal and with what’s scattered throughout the area around you. The designs of the bosses look really cool too, you get to see exo- skeletons while you’re ripping parts right off them. They’ll usually go rampant after a few good hits, which ups the pace and will have you ducking and diving. However your ally’s seem to think this is the best time to try spark up a face to face conversation with you, they really aren’t the sharpest bunch when it comes to fighting a giant, armed to the teeth, rampant robot. When you suffer too much damage you’ll hit the dirt and require medical assistance. You and your ally’s can carry medi-packs and can administer them to each other but you will have to shout for help before an allay will heal you on the ground. Your allays can also die, which will end the game. This can become a bit of a drag especially when bosses are concerned, your allays can pretty much end the game for you if you can’t get to them in time.

The best part of Binary Domain is the robots! You’ll take your time picking them apart, watching them crawl across the rubble with their glowing red eyes. The special effects from the sparks to the smoke are well done for such a quiet game, you really will get engrossed in shooting them. A lot of enjoyment is in the detail, having panels blow right off to reveal more underneath is strangely addictive and will draw you in. There are some car chase scenes (which are good) and a couple of spots where you can interact with the figures around you… But that’s it! The game would have benefited greatly from more additions like these and maybe a couple of other idea, it’s just such a shame that there isn’t necessarily anything worth going back for

You can upgrade your weapon and your ally’s but not much else after that. It lack in the upgrade department but does offer a nano booster feature where you can add several ability boosting nano chips within a 6/2 grid. Sadly the game does lack badly in some areas, leaving parts of the game too thin or bare which is a total shame as I think the game would have benefited hugely from some mini-games or a more interactive areas in the game.

The story isn’t too bad and not too badly told either, it even holds a little bit of romance too! The characters expressions do portray the urgency of some of the scenes rather well and the character designs make them come across like a right rough rabble… I just can’t completely escape the repetitiveness and the game gets too thin too quickly in places and shows that it’s in need of more detail to fill it out.

Binary Domain is a good game and has potential but lacks the diversity other bigger more expensive titles have right now, however if you like your robots and you like your action don’t walk past it next time in store. Maybe take a look at the back of the box!

Review: Android: Music Hero

Think you have rythm? Music Hero is a free app you can pick up on the Andriod market that lets you upload your own music to play along to.

Music Hero is really easy to use and play and has three difficulty settings to test you; Simple, Standard and Expert. You can choose from the preloaded songs or get stuck into its upload feature, the pre – loaded tracks are good and will have you rocking out in no time but the most interesting part of this app is the fact you can play with your own music.

The user interface is easy to grasp and even easier to see which notes are coming. For a free app Music Hero is balanced well when you play and becomes a great way to enjoy pockets of time thanks to the medium of music and technology, together.

Music Hero will pick up any MP3 formated file locally on your device, you can also manually check through your phone’s files yourself just in case. After you’ve played one of your songs there’ll be a record of the score within the Preloaded Songs menu section, you can return and check these out if you wish or have another good pop at a certain favourite tune.

Overall it is a tiny bit addictive but a little on the small side, however it is free. You can upload and play your own tracks, so while you’re on the way home you could play and listen to your favourite songs! Why not mix the two mediums and pick up Music Hero today!

 Score: 2.5 / 5

Music Hero Google Play Link 

Music Hero Trailer 

Requires Android 2.0 and up

By corporalkitty Posted in Uncategorized

Review: Android: Devil Ninja

Run and jump over cliffs and obstacles as you slice your way through levels of monsters with an awesome array of ninja weaponry in Driod Studios action game Devil Ninja!

Devil Ninja is definitely an addictive little time gobbler and is also quite the challenge to complete. The main goal of the game is to destroy as many enemies in front of you as possible while missing the various hurdles and trying to get as far as you can into the level without dying. Your character runs through the level automatically so it’s a speedy game to play and along with the weapon pickups means the game gathers a good pace and rhythm which will have you coming back to beat your previous score.

It’s a hard game to master and complete but the controls are easy enough to pick up on. There’s a virtual jump button and a virtual attack button, nothing else as your character runs under his own steam through this demon infested world anyway. You can double jump which has to be timed right or you’ll end up off over a cliff or smack bang in front of an enemy, you can also hold down the attack button for a more powerful attack. You can pick up snippets of life and more powerful weapons along the way to the occasional end of level boss fight too.

Devil Ninja’s Leaderboards are also very hard to get your name up onto, some of the scores already posted are very impressive. After around twenty minutes of play Devil Ninja will have drawn you into its side-scrolling ways and you’ll have learnt to give it some time to get better at but once you’ve gotten over the initial level of difficulty you’ll enjoy it simply for what it is, and that’s a solid and challenging side-scrolling action game.

Score: 3 / 5

Devil Ninja Google Play Link

Devil Ninja Trailer

There’s also now a sequel to Devil Ninja, Devil Ninja 2! (Requires 2.0 and up)

Devil Ninja 2 Google Play Link

Devil Ninja 2 Trailer

Review: Android: Inotia 4

Welcome to the world of Inotia. Which side will you choose when the two epic forces of good and evil rise again?

Once you begin and create a new game you’ll get to choose from the six different classes Inotia has for you to begin with; Black Knight, Assassin, Warlock, Priest, Ranger and Warrior. Each has their own strengths and weakness and preferred weapon type and magic type and each has a different pixelated design to run around in. Changing class doesn’t mean you’ll get a different story line or missions, it is just your class and what skill base you’d like to have throughout the game as you solely play as Kiyan. Once you’ve picked your character your journey will begin and you can start to put together Inotas’ traditional story of an evil empire trying to dominate, kidnap and deceive while your protagonist is trying to make his way through it.

You can start to get to grips with the controls when you hit the Smokey Village where you’ll set off on your adventure trying to guard Channel from the Fray Shin and unravelling the mysteries of this world as you proceed. To get around the maps and areas you use the virtual d-pad control on the left hand side of the screen, this is a slightly fiddly feature and controls your little pixelated friend around the different areas well enough, give or take the odd pause or slip. There’s also a set of circular slots along the bottom of your screen which hold your hotkeys, these are for super useful items, ability’s and attacks so you can quickly have access to them in the heat of battle.

Fighting in Inotia is quick, easy. To begin fighting you simply walk up to a monster that’ll be wandering around the map and tap your action button which is bigger than the rest so it’s easy to spot on your screen. You can then use your hotkeys, switch between characters or heal up with a potion or two. There’s a damage counter to help you keep tabs on how much of a hammering your characters take, this is very useful as it can be hard to check out how much health and MP you have left with the small circular icons at the top right. There’s also your passive abilities to take into account, these can be checked in the menu along with your characters other statistics. You can level up pretty quick in Intotia so you end up with points to upgrade your character with quicker but the enemy’s levels do change as soon as you move further into the game so expecting to grind against tougher foes more often than not.

The enemy’s themselves look really cute due to the detailed 2D sprite work, they all have good animations when they move round the maps and there’s a ton of different baddies to find at fight. Even your character is dinky and when the fighting begins it’s seriously addictive and will have you more often than not, fighting away for loot. Your characters appearance also changes with the armour you throw on, helmets come in different designs and this reflects right onto your character which holds your attention for longer and gives you a fun sense of customisation.

There’s also icons in the top right of the screen which holds information on your characters current health, magic status though they can be really hard to see at times. You can switch between your characters by tapping these circular icons, you can then use their different hotkeys to overpower enemies. This is a brilliant little feature as you can manually heal your party if you haven’t got a Priest available, you can also summon monsters to fight for you using Warlocks or start using the other classes different strengths to proceed further.

At this point you might already be a tiny bit hooked as the game is built for heaps of grinding, even when you explore and re-train over certain areas stock piling items becomes really helpful so you’ll end up doing more. The game’s currency doesn’t come too quick either, leaving you to count every penny so you can buy bigger Backpacks or a few extra bits of armour for your party.

Loot mostly drops from monsters, crates, pots and chests and the items found can vary from gold pieces to potions to unique combination items. Loot is easy enough picked up too by walking over it and in the beginning of the game you’ll start with an empty bag but ten minutes in you’ll be sorting through it for more inventory space. When fighting monsters there’s a chance you could pick up armour or weaponry that has been blessed with extra benefits such as +Strength or +Dexterity. These are the items you’ll end up hunting high and low for in Inotia 4 and some more of the better items come from the Fusion Machine where you combine materials to create items you find the blueprints for too. There’s plenty of ways to grab equipment and plenty ways of making it but sadly you do pick up a lot of basic equipment before you get to anything good, the basics sell for next to nothing as well so expect to run back and forth or destroy your gear before retreaving inventory space.

The first city you’ll visit is the Berkel capital. Here’s where you can find your usual buildings; An Inn to rest up in and various shops to sell your old equipment and take on some new. There’s the villagers and more important NPC’s to chat to as well, never forget this golden rule for RPG’s as you could end up leaving side quests or special weapons behind. You can find Soul Healers too, these guys fully restore any fallen party members and you can also find the Fusion Machine and start creating potions, jewel enhancements, jewel sockets, chaos items and unique items. Creating items from the loot you accumulate will save you currency and as it’s quite hard to stay rich in Inotia for long this becomes a great way of saving up for higher classed items in stores.

Further into Inotia you’ll get the chance to find a Mercenary Emblems, these hold a tiny little fighting friend for you to use. They come in a few different classes like Warlock, Warrior, Priest and Ranger and all come with their own set of skills to utilize in battle. These guys also level up along with you but you don’t place any skill points on those characters just your main, however you can still level up their abilities the way you see fit.

Inotia 4 doesn’t have the best dialogue I’ve ever read for a game that really needs dialogue to story tell, some of it comes across as accidently humorous and some words are just simply misplaced for this type of game. This makes the story telling comes across as flaky and dull at best so it won’t hold many gamers in for long if you’re not a die hard fan. It also takes a lot from what you have already saw from many RPG’s and creates smaller and shorter versions of those features, it’s not completely stereotypical but you will find these vibes creeping in often when grinding. If you can forgive Inotia for these misgivings you can start to get to the better features like swapping between the different characters you can take with you. The health bar is also really hard to spot when the going gets rough which can lead to premature deaths and this never goes down well either and can leave you feeling a bit let down by a detail so small. Inotia 4 has it’s problems but if you’re an obsessive gamer or a big fan of the series and you like your party building and messing around with details like equipment then Inotia will suck you right into it’s teensy ways for hours.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Check out Inotia 4’s miniature KRPG adventure on android created by Com2uS, filled with monsters, items and quests all for free today!

Inotia 4 Google Play Link

Inotia 4 Trailer

Review: Android: Dinosaur War

It’s the age of dinosaur and man but all is not well in this seemingly small Jurassic universe. The harmony of your tribe has been destroyed and it’s up to you and your dinosaur rearing skills to create a new tribe filled with a variety of prehistoric friends with DroidHen’s marvellous little dinosaur park game.

You’ll start with a small plot of Jurassic land and a central base. The tutorial will whisk you through the basics of collecting resources like Fodder (hay) and Stone. With these you can start to harvest and mine resources in sections of time; 1 minute, 30 minutes, 2 hours and 8 hours. These different times carry different amounts of resources, if you’re out for a while just knock it up to 8 hours or a smaller amount if you fancy getting stuck right in for a while. You can also harvest meat, these are the three main resources you can harvest and you can create multiple buildings for better production when you hit the right level.

After your finger has had a little wander around your plot of land you’ll get to work on the best bit about Dinosaur Wars and that’s the dinosaurs! The first hatchery you’ll build is the Colossal Egg Nest which spits out little beaky Gastornis’s, like resources you can hatch them on those four different time slots, 1 minute, 6 minutes, 30 minute and 1 hour. These buildings can be upgraded to produce more dinosaurs but cost resources to do so, so spend them wisely.

Once you’ve created a few dinosaurs you can send them into battle either offline or online using the Arena building or tapping the little red sword icon. There’s some extra areas and bosses to unlock in the offline mode and it becomes a great way of earning extra XP and even equipment by defeating the bosses again when they become available. Online fighting is a little different, you can buy a Stonehenge building which lowers the amount of casualties you receive so you’ll always have some dinosaurs back at base.

Unlocking buildings and extra dinosaurs is easy just keep plugging away at your XP bar and they will steadily become available. The only drawback to that is there can be quite a wait until you unlock your next dinosaur or be able to take advantage of a new building. This does hamper the fun slightly and it makes the gameplay a bit lengthier without any clear reward for doing so but if you keep revisiting your park you can almost side step this issue. You are also given quests/challenges by three tribe members that will appear on the left hand side of the screen. These will require certain objectives to be completed to collect the XP and/or some resources, you might have to make several hundred of the same dinosaur or build certain buildings. These are a great way of unlocking all that extra stuff just that little bit quicker.

You can also equip armour once you find it either in shops or in battle. Some pieces of armour come with special abilities that can add stats to certain dinosaurs or just adds extra stats to your life or strength. These slight statistical additions can change the tide of battle so think carefully about what you want to equip and what the negatives and positives would be to create that perfect fighting balance.

Dinosaur Wars is seriously addictive and you can play it offline without being connected to a server! If you aren’t creating an assortment of dinosaurs to fight for you, you’ll be organising your park and expanding it. You can play with your friends too through Facebook and fight against players online so really, it has a bit of everything and the best thing of all it’s free. Download it today!

 

Score: 3/5

Dinosaur War Google Play Link

Dinosaur War Trailer

Review: Xbox 360: Dirt Showdown

Codemasters have unleashed another Dirt upon us but this time it’s damaging, hurtful and more about destruction and chaos compared to its cleaner and sharper predecessors. Dirt Showdown takes itself in a different direction, it’s less about traditional racing and more about putting on a show! Showdown is a fabulous balance between racing and destruction sporting a variety of vehicles that look more at home on an American scrap yard than on our British roads. You end up trashing most vehicles making them unrecognisable against other drivers across new and exciting race modes and you get rewarded for doing so, Dirt is definitely all about the confrontation this time!

You have the usual Tour Mode to burn through, Joyride and the Multiplayer world to nose dive right into. The only weak aspect about Showdown is the Tour Mode as it has no background story, so it doesn’t necessarily have a great way of delivering it’s different race modes and other features initially but when you get over that tiny hump you’ll be in for a concentrated dose of brutal annihilation!

The biggest difference in Showdowns overall control scheme is it’s manipulated to be extra easy on those wheels and more forgiving so you’re able to pull of some huge drifts and bonkers doughnuts. You also get deeper and wider cornering which means if you don’t hit curves at the right time and angle you can end up all over the joint, this new perspective and feel of the game works really well the the fireworks, ramps, obstacles and even the A.I have a bit more of bite with their new attitudes on the race track. You even have access to a Boost feature which gives your vehicle a heck more momentum, this also causes bundles more damage to the opposition. It’s really quite different from the faster paced ‘grit your teeth’ racing we’ve seen from Dirt 1 & 2. Showdown really feels a lot more inviting as it requires less super rigid skill for more creative and flexible reactions instead. Alongside showdowns slightly altered gritty attitude is the new set of excitable tracks, which brings heaps of glorified mayhem to each race. There’s tracks that cross over one another, ones that box racers in with each other and much more to burn through.

There is some small weather effects and conditions, though this is for Dirts track conditions so they don’t end up too samey, there’s some weather that obstructs your view but it’s not majorly menacing to your races. Licensed cars aren’t available but expect some creatively designed machines to have the pleasure of destroying instead. In fact, I can’t actually begin to remember how many of my own vehicles I’ve totalled or how many I’ve denied the A.I of. Different vehicles can be unlocked and then bought with your hard earned cash from those races and the statistics of your vehicles can be improved before races too; Power, Strength and Handling can be improved to raise the grade of the vehicle. You can also select different liveries before you jump right into the action, they’re designed by company’s that each have there own unique theme or particular design they follow.

Dirt Showdowns Tour mode is pretty standard, within it is the different race types you’ll get running through Showdowns different difficulties. The race types carry a lot of destructive type races where you’re either trying to aniline as many opponents as possible to score points in a giant raised platform or boxed right in with a few bends to swing round and hold on to be the last wreck standing. The roaring crowds gives these events a nice buzz, a good sharp edge to get you right into these scrums. It’s as much fun as it sounds and failing a few races wont have you retching with shame, you’ll just want to have another bash at it. As exciting as the destruction is, it is a step back from your incredibly sharp blind bends and terrain that’s strict to navigate through, it wont push you even nearly as hard as the other two but offers up a more than suitable alternative direction if you like your action orientated racing games.

If you’re more of a trickster, those tricky obstacle courses are back from Dirt 2 when you start to progress into the other tier of difficulty’s; Pro, Allstar, Champion and Legend. Smash hunter is a particularly enjoyable test of handling, precision and hand eye co-ordination. The courses and objectives are also well laid out and creates some wonderful opportunities to utilize the built in YouTube recorder to upload your best runs to impress your community! You have to drive around the course and hit the coloured bricks as you’re prompted to on screen, the blocks are coloured and are easy enough to see but there’s some slants and angles that blind you to just keep you on your toes. You can use the Flashback feature if you fail to hit the required amount of blocks so you don’t screw up your near perfect run with that one annoying mishap, though upping your difficulty will limit the number of Flashbacks you will have to begin in each event.

After you’ve had a good thrash around the Tour mode, Dirt offers up a fun, open and challenging mode apply named Joyride. Here’s where you get to drift around two open locations with other unlockable areas while completing certain challenges in or around your environment. Joyride is definitely a more balanced aspect to Dirt Showdown and Dirt 2, it’s not so much the destroying or maintaining elements like your velocity that you utilize here but simply just thinking, reacting and then finishing with some amazing balancing acts and tricks combined together. You’ll drift under lorry’s near perfectly or Salem round the narrowest gaps and then pull off two jumps and a donut just to get right down to the last missions on your list. Dirt has some very rewarding unlockable and challenging elements scattered through it modes which brings you further into Dirts experience as a whole but it also lacks in a nice sharp competitive edge which the last two titles did have due to their rallying nature. What you’re looking at is a straight swap from a sharp nimble racing game to destructible high octane one and the transition between the two comes across very well in Dirt Showdown.

Alongside Dirts online aspects it also has a Challenges section you can find on the main menu screen. After each race you can send invitations to your friends to beat your time or score and you can check any expired or pending submissions in the Challenges menu tab. You can also see how many challenges you’ve beaten and kept and who with, in a clear and efficient online menu system. There’s an Options and Extras section just below Challenges which has all of your bits and bobs to tinker with including your Driver Details where you can edit your name, audio name, horn, difficulty and your YouTube setting so you can upload your best smashes.

Xbox Live mode has a handy tier’d menu system to help you into Multiplayer matches. You can set up your playlist first by selecting which types of matches you’d like to compete in, these being, Everything, Demolition, Hoonigan, Racing and Party and all these have a neat little descriptions and bar that lights up all the relevant info. There’s also different Bonus’s to aim for while playing the Multiplayer mode like the Underdog Bonus where you can grab extra fans for beating the higher level players. You can also organise party’s to run around online with, if you can get the players together you should definitely give it a good bash as the fun is only amplified with friends and that good ol’ banter you can find in a good group of gamers.

Racenet Events is part of Dirts extensive online experience. Sign up to Racenet to access this feature, go to extras & options and check the Racenet tab there and you’ll find all the instructions you’ll need including the website you sign up to. It even comes with a little gift as you’re a new comer and some in game cash!

Overall Dirt Showdown has a had a good crack at the action orientated side of the racing genre but has also kept its distinguishable features from the past titles at the same time. It’s also given the games’ new direction a place to shine and really draw you in with it’s bendy tracks and jumps and along with the whole destructible side of the game only brings it to life online and off. The only thing it lacks is a podium or background structure to show it’s Tour mode off with, it’s really quite enjoyable but lets the rest of the game down with it’s lack of enthusiasm. It’s one to add to your collection if you’re a Dirt fan or you favour your brutal action.

Score: 7.5/10

Review: Xbox 360: Ridge Racer Unbounded

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the name Ridge Racer surface, and when it did I bet a lot of gamers, including myself had some fond memories to whizz through before we sat down to play it. As soon as you’ve completed just one race you’ll start to recognize some similarities to the style of racing from other next-gen titles; the fact you can smash through most of the environments round the track to fill your action bar reflects the spirit of Split Second and even a bit of Burnout, but that’s not Ridge Racers defining quality.

Ridge Racer Unbounded is a game that stands on its own two feet, sporting its own racing colours and waving its own flag – and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting anything less. Unbounded is definitely not a game to underestimate; even at the beginning of the game It takes time to figure out what Namco are trying to get you to achieve: fluidly working with several driving balances alongside the destructible elements of the game. The game stubbornly doesn’t give everything away to you in the first couple of hours but persevere and eventually it will give you every button and feature you need. You will need to get to know Ridge Racer inside out once again if you want to master it and utilize the multiplayer aspects.

Boot up the game and there’s a nice, clean menu design to greet you but no tutorial in sight, anywhere! It makes for a peachy change if you’ve been playing video games for longer than you can remember but for everyone else – just take your time, it’s not going to drive away without you. And in the long run tutorials don’t make a huge amount of difference, only helping you in the short term to initially grasp the control scheme so you don’t seem like such a novice when you begin a game.

The single player mode has you racing through Shatter Bay and inside this racy city you’ll experience the games various race types. The first handful of vehicles are a little on the slow side but you’ll unlock more as you earn XP. There are no models of actual licensed cars though you can still pick out certain influences from their real life counterparts – that’s if you want to stop to take in detail like that. If not, don’t despair! There’s a plethora of different vehicles to unlock and use across all race types alongside other odds and ends to unlock through the XP bar to keep your mind on the road.

There are several modes to enjoy including Domination Race, Drift Attack, Shindo Racing, Time Attack and Frag Attack. All of these differ greatly from each other which makes a sizable change from the usual types of tournament or exhibition races you see in other games. Domination is the standard race set up for Unbounded: you’ll use your action bar quite a bit to frag and create shortcuts while you race. Drift Attack will need some mastering as you will need to use the drift button (B button) nailing the art of entering drifts at the right speed. Anything below or above this speed will cost you drift points and maybe even a place as you mess up a bend and slam straight into a wall.

Shindo Racing just has the nitro boost, with no short cuts, no anything, just a clean race set-up. The A.I will still test you but it’s a much fairer race for those who deal more in sportsmanship than huge amounts of car-crashing catastrophe. Time Attack and Frag Attack sell themselves and are massive bundles of fun. Time Attacks are set on levels with some interesting hurdles and designs. You’ll need to pick up the blue floating tokens for extra time and plot right through to the end. With this type of assault course in front of you the Time Attacks don’t get heavily repetitive, in fact you’ll be much more inclined to complete them even if you’re not a fan of this type of race. Frag Attack is super destructive so just be prepared to take a hammering while you’re handing them out yourself. The A.I. are stupid brutes too which is bad news for you, but it does makes it easier to take them out and you can have heaps of devastating fun in this race type.

When you’ve raced through a good few streets and courses you’re much more able to hold your own especially when you make friends with that drift button, learning to not brake but drift. Namco have tried to bring this drift element out, they really did well to incorporate more of this against the other overdone dimensions you can usually find in action orientated racing games. You can smash right through some walls and buildings, these are Rider Racers short cuts – try and find as many as you can to be in a better standing to beat your rivals. The short cuts are placed all around the tracks and you will be notified of them when your full action bar is ready but there are one or two that are craftily placed so you can’t really become too complacent.

It’s not a particularly easy game to complete either, often you’ll end up in fragging fights almost deadly sure you’re in the clear just to get taken out by some plucky A.I with a grudge. As I mentioned the A.I can be a right pain and is either bashing the life out of you or getting stuck on various things but most times this brings the game to life by creating possibilities you can’t really plan for; chaos ensues but you still have fun. That’s the awesome thing about Ridge Racer, it starts to put other elements in front of you while you play like fragging, drifting, smashing into shortcuts and other XP and point related objectives till you’re not just racing – you’re also trying to hit all these targets.

The experience bar will hold a lot of the items, cars and extra bits of track for you. You can gain experience in several ways too; event placing, event goal bonus, frags, collateral damage (damage to the environment), and target awards (smashing through certain target buildings). As you progress through the game most unlockables come free and easy, you just have to keep wrecking your way through anything and everything you can get your rubber on. Everything breaks apart rather effectively in Unbounded bar the odd physics mishap; objects can sometimes get stuck on or around your vehicle but this doesn’t reduce your speed or affect your view point. The streets are designed relatively well, there aren’t loads of edges you can crash into or get caught on. They’re generally interesting too and have plenty of colour and points of interest which also help you mind map the tracks better.

Multiplayer mode ‘The World’ is a well balanced online experience offering a rounded off structure that keeps the multiplayer action bubbling away. Basic multiplayer play consists of Quick Match, Domination Match and Create Friend Match. In Quick Match you play in Shatter Bay tracks while Domination Match is played in user created cities. Both are enjoyable and it’s easy enough to get into matches online. Gameplay can be a bit harder to handle with the A.I players replaced with human players as they can kick a lot harder than the A.I. You can get into some right fights too; once you have a rival to revenge you pretty much revenge everyone else till you get that one racer back. It’s a rather lively one to tame online but worth it for just for the japes.

World Cities allows you to play on user created cities. Scroll through thousands of published cities and have a good root around for the best challenges, there are some very smart designs but some are, frankly broken. You can get some terrible tracks where users have thrown all sorts together and these can clutter your experience and dampen those good multiplayer vibes. Unbounded will also offer up 1, 6 and 24 hour challenges, these changing once the timer runs out with the winner receiving XP.

Create mode eases the hardship for a bit of customization. You’ll get to build your own tracks here in your own customized city. Name your city first, place some blocks on the grid and browse through the different pieces of track that you have accumulated. As long as your track loops you can publish it; there’s a tutorial that will guide you through all of this and some extras when you unlock highway blocks or elevated sections for bigger, more impressive tracks. The Advanced Editor section enables you to add jumps or other smaller obstacles for some sweet tweaks – all these elements adding up into a rather enjoyable track creator giving you time to steady your nerves before the next round of wasting begins. Create Mode also ties in with the online multiplayer side of the game as you can choose to visit other players cities to challenge them on their own turf or have them challenge you on yours.

Overall Ridge Racer is a bit deceptive, you think it’s not going to work before you grasp that drift button but when you do the game just shines right through. Features work well along with the friendly menu system and opens up the multiplayer cities element really well, maps circulate and players have fun. There are a couple of issues to watch out for: hitting walls and corners can be devastating, especially when you were screaming along in first place. There isn’t too much you can do about this apart from improve your game but I feel that’s still not fully acceptable and this is Ridge Racers true weakness. Otherwise it clears the way for a much cleaner and fuller action orientated racing game.

Score: 7/10

Xbox 360 Review: Dodonpachi Resurrection Deluxe Edition

Dodonpatchi Resurrection is the fifth title in the DonPachi series originally created by Cave a Japanese video games developer. Cave have a bit of a thing for side scrolling shooters as they have extensive experience in the arcade games industry back when amusement centres where hubs of activity for gamers around the world. The studio consists of mostly Toaplan employees who were successful with their ventures, producing games like Batsugun and Truxton. Cave now also produce similar games for ISO platforms which have often over-shadowed efforts from other Japanese studios, they are a damn reliable bet when it comes to scoring with this shrinking niche as they’ve also had success with their more newer titles Progear and Nin2-Jump.

This installment comes with several modes along with the arcade original for you to enjoy in the Play menu section. It also includes Score Attack mode which makes use of the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live feature so you can compete with the world, Training mode for the rookie flyers and even an option to reel over your Replay Data. There’s also the added benefit of additional content in the Downloadable Content menu section which gives the game a lot more relevance to be picked up today. This is what a lot of the ports extra features stem from along with an intertwined arcade design and feel which overall creates a well rounded experience.

Dodonpatchi Resurrection is a rather lively side scrolling shooter game with tons of sounds, animations and action stuffed in. The story revolves round the past wars that the human race had got themselves into with the A.I in the DonPachi universe. Something surfaces and is creating a war in the past as the humans won the war in the future, this thing is a virus. This virus is a left over bit of the program which the humans destroyed and has infected human technology in the future to send huge amounts of materials and resources back to certain points to create these gigantic robotic space dolls that you end up fighting. The aim of the game is to cut right through the onslaught of enemy waves while you crank up the points till you get to the end of level boss which will be one of five dolls that were originally created to serve mankind. There’s for modes within the Arcade mode and there’s the Score Attack mode to try and master, both with have you upping your game often as Dodonpatchi one of the easier side scrollers to get into thanks to its fluid layout and structure.

When you’ve chosen a mode to play you’ll select a ship and power and/or even bring in a friend for more military strength! There’s three to choose from; Type A is a light faster fighter, Type B is your mid-range ship and Type C is your heavy option, all have changeable Shot Styles which have unique abilities and strengths associated with them. These options can help you set up strategies to overcome the harder waves of the game you might have trouble with, also enemy ships and units do attack differently and in different patterns on every level to try throw you off balance. The game plays very well this way, very smooth but also lively enough to keep you focused and enjoying the bit trip. You also have the Hyper Counter System and the Counter Lazer attacks to utilize along the way once you’ve filled you Hyper Meter. Basically the Counter system takes care of the spray and pray the A.I. can sometimes throw at you, it’s normally the smaller units on the ground and is very effective against them. Your Lazer attack is much stronger though and can stop the bigger harder hitters from firing at you and you can change between these two firing modes anyway to distinguish patterns that work against ones that don’t. The controls are incredibly simple and there’s the Training mode anyway just incase your not feeling your usual kickass self.  Obviously Dodonpatchi is really fun and stratifying to just play this way, it gives you enough of that itch to scratch without screwing up its original rhythm. This is a great strength for a game to have and it also has these accessible learning curves to do with the A.I. patterns and new attack options, this opens up other variations of play for gamers when they start to improve which is actually admirable for such an old port.

All of these details and structure change in each of the arcade mode creating different obstacles to overcome; plotting you way through or all out destruction. The game also has a built in Invisible Multiplier and rises in level once you’ve brought all of the basics together to get those higher combo chains. This is when the competition will heat up and is a really good way of nailing some amazing scores to challenge other gamers with around the world, it also can be very rewarding when you whiz right through a stage you’ve already excelled in and have created strategies for. Dodonpatchi has hours of play assembled around this and all it takes is a bit of time invested with its old and the new features… and then heaps of practice! That’s the thing about side scrollers, someone always has a better score that you. It’s quite a hard feeling or urge to describe if you haven’t felt challenged by someone online; to put all of your skills together to get that amazing run through can just feel so simply rewarding.

When you begin to play if you’re new to this niche you’ll probably find Dodonpatchi confusing or disorientating to play as there’s a barrages of bullets and lazers heading for you and of course the enemy units on and off the ground to watch out for. Don’t worry! We’ve all been there and the way to play these games anyway is to keep your eyes focused mainly to the middle of the screen and gauge the gaps in the bullets, ships and lazers to get your ship through them. You can only take so many hits as well until you pop your little space ship and use a life up to respawn with full equipment but no Hyper Attack bar, you’ll pick these little rules and tricks up in your first few attempts but be prepared to stick some effort in to really squeeze all combos and points you possibly can. Dodonpatchi is a really competitive game too due to the nature of it, it’s fast paced, unpredictable and fun which all together can get you hooked for a good few hours in one sitting – if you can stomach it that is. That’s the deal with arcade games, they just suck you in and then… BANG! An hour has just vanished before your eyes! But because they’re so simple and ultimately fun from any angle it can get most gamers itching to stick a high score up, Dodonpatchi is no different and has Xbox Live Leaderboard functionality for extra arcade excitement.  

After you completed a full run and have stopped the rewiring of time, you’ll get some small story boards to look over. They aren’t anything incredible just some tail ends of storylines to do with alternate or parallel outcomes. In the Xbox 360 version you also get a soundtrack CD which is great to stick on while you play, you can get some very calming and nostalgic vibes coming through all 23 tracks. There’s also different versions of Arrange A, B, Black Label and version 1.51 available for download which adds more paths and modes to voyage through. Dodonpatchi is limited when it comes to any bigger features, the downloads themselves are different versions of the modes you already have and it ultimately doesn’t bring anything super new and exciting to you for your MSP. This is really the only disappointment in Dodonpatchi, it’s really hard to expect so much from a port that’s had success and changing it too much could have be fatal. The fifth installment offer players a great experience with added features that tie in with Xbox Live, it also offers alternative modes amongst its original modes which is a great comparison to play with it just doesn’t offer anything more, nor does it lie about what it is.

If you like a challenge, Dodonpatchi has it. It’s one of the better organized side scrollers, offering better customization options than most other titles which gives the gameplay a good stir whenever you need it. It’s many mode ensures hours and hours of play and the Leaderboard functionality give the player something to aim for while firing lazers like its no body’s business. The pace is fast enough and it’s hard enough to get the pros sweating too, additional items and attacks also have you learning and executing patterns and tactics with ease. Overall it’s one for your arcade collection (If you have one) and will keep any side scrolling urges under control, no problem.

Review: Xbox 360: SSX

Think wide open spaces, feel freshly laid snow and experience some dizzying heights in the brand spanking new instalment in the SSX series!

The Rockies… The extreme begins here with you and your board at the top of your first run. Right at the beginning of the game you’ll be thrown into a tutorial just so you can pick up the basics and then into a race. SSX won’t take up too much of your time this way, it is just the speed and velocity you need to get used to especially if you’re going hurtle down runs at silly speeds. You’ll start out with some basic equipment, SSX does allow for some interesting additions in equipment as you progress and it’s all unlocked at certain times keeping the game nicely balanced.

There’s three modes to explore all together but if you work on the World Tour mode to get warmed up then onto exploration and online world it sets you up much better for a freer experience of the game. It’s because it’s structured really well, more runs and equipment are unlocked as you progress and the online challenges become harder. This natural escalation in the difficulty will give you a clear indicator of where you need to be to keep beating the game, SSX has some neat balances if you simply enjoy what’s infront of you but it doesn’t pay off as much as you might initially have thought.

SSX also comes with a cool set of online functions to do with the RiderNet feature, these will keep you sharp if you have an Xbox Live connection. The feature will recommend challenges to you that your friends have set or completed so you can have a good crack at their times, there’s a varied amount of rewards to gain from completing them too. There’s a ton of ranges to unlock all over the globe when you play the single player mode and with these come the different missions you’ll get to compete in; Race It!, Trick It! And Survive It! All three are challenging and create different styles of play so you’ll just simply enjoy them for what they are.

The differences in strategy between the three helps create different tactics; like Race It! Gets you to find the fastest path through the course and you start cutting jumps or missing them all together. As the difficulty rises you will adapt to win more and also discover secret areas and extra Geotags along the way; or you’ll be looking for the best ramps and the best line connecting them for the Trick It! Stages. Completing some blazing combos and getting to the bottom of the run in one piece is basically your challenge.

Survive It! Is one of the trickiest love/hate stages I’ve played in a while, it will test you but not with your actual SSX skills but instead your hand eye co-ordination. Prepare to eat tree once, twice or even thrice before mastering this mode itself.

There’s a catalogue of moves to pull off while riding and then there’s the even more extensive pairing of moves you can do in mid-air to get a higher combo multiplier. If you get it high enough you can activate TRICKY mode. You’ll start glowing and the music will start picking up pace to urge you to use that unlimited boost to get some sick air. You can also pull off special combos and get bundles of points while you’re in TRICKY mode anyway, the trick is to keep it going through the whole level and score into the millions. You pull off tricks by holding the A button when approaching a slope then release to get some air, press X,Y or B to start making some shapes! Watch the points collect as you do, watch how they double or triple when you put other tricks alongside as this will get you to the top of the leaderboards (which are incredibly competitive).

There’s also new bits of equipment to gain when you complete ranges and unlock more, they come in the forms of pick axes, oxygen tanks and wingsuits amongst other things. You’re really going to need these and the best versions you can buy as the Survive It! Mode does demand skill but if you’re the daredevil type, then go right ahead and knock yourself out as the environment will probably do it to you anyway.

With the games new equipment editions comes the new SSX team, these special types of equipment are unlocked when team members become available. They also have different stat balances depending on which character you’re looking at, these help create a small amount of strategy but only small. SSX doesn’t really need a plot but the story revolves around Griff and his money-hogging ways. He basically runs off with the team’s cash and challenges team SSX to conquer the 9 most deadly descents. So it’s up to you to start gaining levels, earning credits and ultimately beating your rivals to all that glory, then you can shove right in Griff’s face!

There’s some new characters to enjoy like Tane Mumea and Ty Thorsen who hold their own against the old SSX crew but it is always good to see old faces make a return in a series as these little things have a tendency of making you smiling. The funky design of the players brings new vibes and a visually attractive edge to the group and it also works very well alongside the soundtrack to the game and the bonus equipment (some even glow!). So you’ll be starting right from the bottom of the run compared to the other riders and teams, it’s time to push back and climb… Just as much as you drop!

In game credits unlock most of the content you can equip to you character, you can earn them several ways too and some ways are even quite ingenious. Geotag’s which you place in Explore mode, can become good earners if they’re not picked up by another rider. This adds a 3D element to the game which keeps refreshing itself whenever you return to the online mode, you can also earn medals, beat times to earn those credits. There isn’t a particular reason or pull to earn credit really fast as the game revolves around the game play but it offers enough tit bits to keep you chomping away merrily.

The environment is something to behold once you first set your peepers onto it; when you start at the top of a run you can basically see into the course and plot the best line down through it. There are hardly any changes to the climate though I could see that becoming a nuisance anyway but some runs are very dark and laden with trees. This makes the speed of your rider seem so much faster than it actually is and these levels are normally the more dangerous Survive It! Stages. This takes the difficulty up a notch but when you’re familiar with SSX and in the zone you’ll put together some awesome moves and combos without even noticing the technical side of the game play, it is actually that fluid.

While your earning crazy leaderboard crushing scores you can slide off hidden slopes, drop from fallen trees, grind wires and poles while you break these records which is incredibly good fun. The developers have also taken care to place slopes and objects correctly around the runs to create multiple paths that don’t conflict with each other. Sometimes I wished I could have jumped off my board and had a good explore but Griff and his mates where to busy provoking me into another Survive It! for me to stay on that thought too long. SSX will leave a funky impression on you thanks to the way the game was generated and built, the maps are generated using NASA scans of these mountains, the developers then stepped in and created the playground of snow-like delights. The soundtrack to SSX will have you bouncing and you can create your own custom playlists and SSX also features a dynamic music remix tool that will automatically remix licensed tracks and custom music based on the player’s actions and performance in-game.

Compared to the past four SSX titles the fifth does follow the overall design of the series and desires of the gamer to a higher degree but seems to think that’s all it needs to do, open up a path and let you fly, roll or jump to create game play. It’s a good job, there’s a strong online support available as SSX could have sank like the stone it seems to be at a distance, however bring everything together and it plays, moves and entertains very well, just not well enough or long enough to be a massive hitter.


End of Nations Preview

End of Nations is a MMORTS created by the Petroglyph studio which is mostly made up of Westwood Studio employees (Responsible for the C&C series) and published by Trion, creators of Rift. End of Nations is a massive game which allows up to 56 players to face off against each other. Players choose 3 companies to sponsor their forces, which define your abilities and playstyle; with several companies and many possible combinations to explore, this keeps the matches varied with plenty of action.

I’m going to start with: It’s definitely a game that will have you investing. It’s a persistent game with various regions to fight for control of; these sections are fought over on maps that are scattered across the EoN world map. Factions are able to flip these territories into their control 24 hours a day, so there’s no telling what will have happened when you get back online again. This is a great way of keeping the factions on their toes by shifting the posts, not changing the actual goal but the distance to it, and will have gamers enjoying the time they invest into the game.

The aim of the game is to control as many points of interest on the map and/or destroy the opposing side’s base to win. EoN does throw some unique challenges into the matches such as having to disable an enemy’s shield by holding points of interest in order to damage their base. These ideas will keep your attention pinned to the game and they don’t conflict with the other modes; you can make strategies and expand your skill tree but also Petroglyph want to control the pace of progression so you get the most out of every match and ultimately the game.

If you can dare to imagine so many persistent gamers or gamers looking to nest again, you can see EoN’s huge potential for growth which Petroglyph have incorporated into the game and ensured it rolls along with the rhythm and constant feed of activity. This is then woven into parts of the game so you’re basically acting like a tree yourself when you play, spreading out your skills and traits and then re-organising and re-engineering your army to create bigger and better strategies.

Nestled in the middle of all this strategic tinkering is the core of the game, the progression and customisation when you’re out of combat. You can check out the companies that build certain types of technology, take a look at your Hero Units, explore your Skill Tree and then there’s the extensive customisation which affects a lot of aspects of the game and helps you achieve a greater sense of control.

Did I mention that End of Nations is free? FREE?!

You pay no real money into the game but you can earn the in game currency to purchase additional in game content. You also earn your unlocks as you progress so play is as fair as possible, balance like this is a necessity with so many players and End of Nations’ complete game plan covers these bases. You can’t sell parts of the game off either, like map packs, so everyone can continue to play together without being broken up into the haves and have-nots. These are the type of balances End of Nations has an abundance of because of the bigger picture Petroglyph have in mind while building the game. Which ultimately can make so much sense my head hurts…

I can’t wait to play more myself, I was a very successful commander when I had a chance to play and I look forward to its Beta testing phases and ultimately the release as there’s a million and one reasons why we should support this game design ethos.