Gears of War 2


Oh lord they did it again!

I could just probably leave this review at that; GW2 is an enthralling, masterfully built, piece of art – you’ll regret every time you’re forced to put the controller down.

Again you go into battle as the, target eyed, directly forward, Marcus Fenix – the leader of Delta squad. I’m not gonna get into too many details because I don’t want to spoil one tiny bit for you. What I can tell you is that GW2 picks up right where GW1 laid off (unlike the cryptic Halo 2 and 3 😉 ). There’s even a tutorial at the beginning of the game (if you wish) to pick up your skills again. Then its back to the nearly impossible war, against the nearly unstoppable enemy. Good luck!

The steel clashing on steel aura of GW1 is preserved in GW2 as forces of destruction (exploding cars, shattering bodies, and bullets rip above your head…) are always around you. Epic has done a great job of staying true to the originals strengths and refining the battle process and environment to an insanely good precision.

Not really known for in video games but GW2’s plot is extremely good. Often cut scene dialogs in games are either overdone, boring, or take me out of the action. But the cut scenes, voice acting, characters… are all meaningful and fun to watch.

Don’t think GW2 is just a remake because clearly the guys at Epic built to create the next towering tier of the series. The environments of GW2 are all new, custom built, masterpieces. The cratered buildings, unstable earth, locust ruins, are never seen before relics. And the story just gets better and better as the game goes on.

There are also plenty of surprises in GW2 that keep pulling you forward and leave you gasping with breath when you’re done.

If you haven’t got the chance, join Delta squad and help save the earth from the locust horde. “We need you and expect you at the recruiting station, son.” If not, you’re missing something absolutely absolutely amazing.


January 24, 2009 at 3:55 am Leave a comment

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia Logo

It’s been several years since the last Prince of Persia – Dark something or other. To tell you the truth I can’t remember it. It was a mediocre game at best full of redundancy, lack of story, oh and did I say dark? But the fabled original Price of Persia Sands of Time has gone down as one of my favorite games of all time.

The new Prince of Persia was intriguing to me as I didn’t know what to expect from it but I decided to give it a try and well, I like it. Prince of Persia won’t go down as one of my all time great games but it’s worth a try to the gamer.

The story and how it connects to the original is not really known, in fact, it may not at all but I suspect that it does. In the new Prince of Persia you’ll revisit the Prince’s acrobatic acts like in the original. The Princes moves in the second title became a bit too awkward and buggy but Ubisoft Montreal simplified down some of the Princes moves and for the most part it works really good.

The story in the new title is good and the characters and character acting are top notch. The story though is a parallel story and doesn’t develop quite as fast as you’d like it to. The Prince and a discovered Princess from another region have to visit four areas to rid the corruption (a black invading bile that controls those left behind). Without spoiling too much of the plot the story does advance well (considering it’s told in parallel) and the fighting improves as you go through the game. Each region has a protector and you’ll enjoy all the battles you have with them.

Prince of Persia Lugshot

The most amazing aspect of Prince of Persia is the panoramic views of an entire region being viewable. Taken from Assassin Creed where entire cities with people moving could be viewed and explored is amazing to watch. I wonder though if Prince of Persia creators though forsook a more developing story line because of it. The beauty of the original Prince of Persia was the magnetism of always wondering what was around the next corner.

Graphics and artwork are good and sometimes great, but a few were rehashed – the mechanical works of the second title are evident, the workings in the vale of the pseudo-technology of the middle ages… The level design is good but Prince of Persia only has about a handful of good puzzles to solve. Also I felt the levels didn’t match the necessity of the surroundings – a royal palace without an entrance hall? City of Lights with no homes?… Also some of the most intriguing places to visit are inaccessible as you find yourself 200 feet above ground most of the time.

If you’ve played the first two Prince of Persias the actions get familiar quickly but there is always a new little bit added that keeps Prince of Persia alluring. And if the gamer finds any deficit for the game it’s all but made up for with it’s ending.

  • + Great characters, voice acting
  • + 3D engine – wow
  • + Excellent Fighting
  • – a bit repetitive
  • – controls a bit too friendly (made for kids?)

4.3 X’x


January 10, 2009 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Ninja Gaiden II

I am ninja.

Ninja Gaiden II is the sequel to the original XBOX game. The Ninja Gaiden was well praised for it’s excellent arcade action, top-notch response times, devastating combo’s and brilliant story. Sequels to me almost almost always fall short. Alot of times sequels become too ambitious and add parts the don’t feel complete. NOT this one. Team Ninja not only stayed true to all the above categories but have added improved graphics, weapons and techniques, has a consistent frame rate, and provides another solid story line.

Ryu Hayabusa is back to protect the demon statue and he’s more lethal than ever. If you’ve played the original you can jump right in – it feels and plays like NG I. Ninja Gaiden isn’t an open-ended adventure but rather a linear action game. Though this may not sound excited (as most games become more open-ended) Team Ninja does a good job of staying focused. Ninja Gaiden I and II are all about action. I can’t emphasize enough about action.

As soon as I picked-up the Lunar Staff and mashed the enemy thirty times, I knew I was in for something great. Through the course of the journey, you’ll visit New York, an Italian-like place, and Amazon forest in sevel huge levels. I worried that I would just cruise though the game – not because it was too easy – but becuase I enjoyed it too much. That’s where I was mislead. Ninja Gaiden II is a challenge all the way through. To add flavor the the game you mess with six different weapons that change how the game is played altogether. Also these weapons are upgradeable as well as the Ninpo magic attack.

All in all, I can’t tell you how great Ninja Gaiden II is, it has to be played to be believed. NG II isn’t perfect. Particularly the same dumb camera as NG I had that rubs against walls and makes you vulnerable to hidden backside attacks. But the camera can almost be overlooked as everything else in NG II is rock solid. Team Ninja has again shown the art of programming a game that is parred my none. Now I’m going to do it all again on a specially designed mentor level that opens up after finishing regular difficulty.

I am ninja.

  • + Great graphics
  • + Large levels
  • + Weapons and enemies galore
  • + Total focus on action
  • – A camera a bit more intuitive would be nice
  • ? Hard mode too difficult?

4.9 X’s

August 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

Call of Duty 4

The sea is crashing the night is black, the cargo freighter comes underneath and we rappelled down the roap. The boat sways, and the waves throw water on the deck. In five minutes we’re out – a quick smash and grab job. And I’m thinking this is so !@#$ cool. So cool, so James Bondish, and one of the best intros to a video game I’ve ever seen.

I’ve been lucky to get some good games lately and CD4 fits right in. The last couple weeks I’ve been playing Call of Duty 4, and its everything I heard it was. FPS’s have become my favorite genre in video games – just before good RPG’s (good ones – which I haven’t seen in awhile). The best way to describe Call of Duty 4? Heavy. CD4 has the best “heavy” feeling of any game I’ve played before.

When I talked about the physics of Half Life 2 review, it was really cool to see a barrel go flying and bounce off of walls and hurt people. But as I thought about it, the “heaviness” of HL2 was lacking. HL2 has little response when bullets hit enemies and the object sometimes just felt like tinker toys. Call of Duty 4 doesn’t have the physics of Half Life 2 but it does have something closer to the character – heaviness.

As “Soap” sits in the chopper door as the raiding marines fly in from the coast, the chopper shakes, terrorists on building fire rpgs. The storming party all arrive at once and rappel to earth. Thunk! Then we’re in for a ride. Quickly pushing thorough the city to find our lead terrorist we feel the weight of all Soaps gear – swoosh swoosh. Soap moves, breathes and is hit like a real marine (well not quite) but as good as any as I have ever seen. But it gets even better.

As I got out of the first building and into the alleyway the marines are in a bad pinch, getting attacked from the left and the right alleys. I had one of those slow-motion: look-left look-right moments, and bullets whizzed by me. I realized I was in a bad position. A couple terrorists jumped over a car in the right alley and since my men were focused on the left I considered it my responsibility. I put off a couple quick shots because I didn’t have cover and they weren’t that good. I hit the terrorist on the left in the right leg, and He dropped to one knee!! Stunned. In fact, this is Call of Duty’s saving grace cause no longer do shots on outside of the ribcage do much anymore. Yes! I kneeled for a second and watched as enemies stumbled, hid and crawled about.

My concern that with such a popular title that this game might get a bit gimmicky. And it does – but not real bad. As good as the real shots and body reactions and hard character physics are it lost alot for me in the occasional too powerful weapons department and the unlimited enemies aspect.

A couple of the weapons are just way too overpowered and too easy to use. Like I said, I’m not gonna give no spoilers. But it left me at times saying, “Thats it?” Also, maybe my newest, biggest pet peeve is unlimited enemies. I expected in a military tactical shooter that we would clear an area before advancing as is often the case in real military tactics. Sure I accept that urban fighting and ranger technique’s are to push through an area as quickly as possible. But too often I was put in areas just to have to plow through them – no fun.

Thankfully CD4 had more to it than this and I got over it. Call of Duty 4’s graphics are top notch and the sound effects are very good. I found the story good too.

Call of Duty 4 is an excellent game that every person that loves FPS’s needs to give a shot.

  • + Well polished, graphics, sound, story.
  • + Stick Controls best ever for a FPS
  • + Enough variety to keep it interesting.
  • – Grenades that can’t be seen. Plasma grenades anyone?
  • – Terrorist ad infinitum.

4.6 X’s

March 2, 2008 at 6:10 am 1 comment

Mass Effect

I love RPGs and with the addition of Knights of the Old Republic in 2003 a new dimension to how RPGs was made – multiple landscapes, detailed interaction with characters, choices that actually effect game play. Bioware’s tattoo is doing an incredibly good job of capturing the Universe they intend to portray and making the user feel part of the environment and again they’ve done it with Mass Effect – but even better.

Right from the git go the most stunning effect of Mass Effect is seen, the characters. Not only are their details incredible (from freckles) but you can create a character yourself. For those that have seen Oblivions character creator it’s similar but with smoother looking characters and details. All characters features are realistic from emotions to eye blinking, from feigning to concentration to… you name it. As well, these thoughts and emotions are realistically shadowed in interaction with other characters – B E a utiful. The cut-scenes dialogs in the game blend almost perfectly with game play. The quality and excitement of personal dialogs has never been better in a game before. The voice acting is well done but the real genius of the game is that real choices have real outcomes. If you want to blow off that fan that keeps annoying you – do it ( he’s a jerk anyhow ); don’t have time to save a bunch of colonists in Artemis Tau – bahhh.

Mass Effect Environment

If you remember the incredible details of walking through republic space and getting immersed in them in KOTOR you’ll enjoy the environments here just as much. Mass Effect has a dozen different worlds you can visited and explored. The environments of the main quests will make you stop and say, “Woah.” They are incredible and a beauty to look at. There is also the custom manicured worlds you get to drive the Mako through and the Prothean Ruins at Feros – ahhh love.

The fighting system has also significantly improved over KOTOR. KOTOR used a turn based system, in Mass Effect real time fighting is employed. Don’t expect Halo but the fighting can be entertaining with some challenging bits. Though fighting is arcade-ish (FPS novices will find themselves turning the settings to veteran soon enough) you will find yourself challenged time to time. Mass Effect includes physics built into the characters so you’ll see characters collapse clumsily as they die – not too shabby.

One word: Mass Effect is amazing. The best game I’ve played to date on any console on any platform – no boss fights which would have put it over the top but everything else in Mass Effect makes up for it. It has the most interaction of any video game, the story is very good, the hard science fiction in the game is well researched and will have you reading about the details of the game, and the fighting is alot better.

A few caveats would be the side quests are repetitive and in the authors opinion and take away from the overall experience of the game and driving the Mako off a 300 foot cliff incurs no damage – what fun is that? Overall though Mass Effect is something most gamers will need to get their hands on.

Other Information

4.8 X’s

February 10, 2008 at 10:08 pm Leave a comment

Game Controls and What to Try.

GameFly doesn’t ship with game’s manual which is understandable. And I began to look for guides on the internet, and I believe I won’t find any. The guides are copyrighted so I didn’t have any luck, but I did find out that GameFly lists the games basic controls when you click on the games details (usually).

I’ve been thinking about what game I’m going to play next and my choices go from Call of Duty 4 (may not be able to get) to Burnout: Paradise. Hmm… I’ve been thinking that I might just go for a game that’s purely action oriented like CrackDown.

February 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Half Life 2

Nearly seven years later and Half Life is reborn. How good is it on the Xbox?

Remember the opening cut scene of Half Life, it’s almost “operatic quality”, as Dr. Gordon Freeman is escorted into the largely corporate, largely secular, absolutely huge underground scientific facility known as Black Mesa. As we watched, the ten minute escort led us into a new scope that has become a hallmark in games – a scientific dissociative Twilight Zone-ish game that made us stop and say, “What is going on” as much as “I’m curious whats ahead”.

Half Life 2 follows thought. Dr. Gordon Freeman continues on the path started in the New Mexico complex in 1998. Half Life 2 in awesome. It gets better the more and more you go through it. The story is parallel to 1984 and “Brazil” where corporation(s) began to controll the planet. We see this as we start City 17 walking through the dilapidated train system. Xbox’s Half Life 2 has two additional episodes that do more to explain the story than the original. After the train station in the orriginal, the story is mostly back dropped and instead focuses on action, which is unfortunate but it does end well.

Though the story isn’t much in original the characters are the best I have ever seen in a video game. The limited but well expressed characters: you, Dr. Eli Vance, his daughter Alyx, Dr. Isaac Kleiner, and Black Mesa’s Dr. Breen (oh yeah, and “Dog” – a must see ), are so well done it will stop and make you pause and appreciate the subtle gestures they make. We don’t see them enough in the original but thank goodness we get to see them a good bit in the following episodes. Half Life Episode 2 is the best, most involving story I have played yet in a video game.

HL2 Screen

On the FPS front Half Life isn’t top dog and the action scenes are more mechanically exciting than say movie exciting. I found the responsiveness of hitting someone with a rocket or shot to be unresponsive. But it was a pleasure to use the weapons because they were weighted nice. Where Half Life shines is its custom-designed Havok physics engine. This means being able to manipulate objects, all objects, in HL2 as if they were real objects. It puts battles as I have never seen them before – I never operated a crane before and… wooo-weee! This physics though and how characters respond can be kinda creepy -watching characters falling off bridges can make you stop and pause. Half Life 2 really seems to be involved around the physics engine so maybe it shouldn’t be grouped in FPS – don’t expect your standard fire and grenade.

The AI ( my achilles in today’s games ) is dam good. I personally don’t think companies take enough time to great a good AI and often defer the CPU to graphical tasks. I fact, a lot of times I jumped as I didn’t expect a person to be chasing me, or was surprised at how predictive a grenade throw could be.

The detail missed in Half Life 2 that could have brought more to Half Life is the music – there really isn’t any. The ability to connect events and provide importance to events can be a good music clip. Unfortunately the music is filtered to a few occasionaly rock star clips.

Overall though Half Live 2 is a new, innovative, creative and the story gets better and better the further you get into it.

4.5 X’s

  • (+) Characters and scenes set up well.
  • (+) Gameplay is polished.
  • (-) alot of sharp edges to get stuck on.
  • (-) multiple load times – twiddle thumbs.

January 27, 2008 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment

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Xbox Game Quick Review is a non-commercial review site and means to give quick unbiased reviews. I love gaming. A good original game is the best thing. I couldn't find any websites that gave good fast reviews, so I began renting from GameFly and thought this the perfect chance to share my experiences. No spoilers here. :) I am without Xbox Live so none of my reviews will reflect this. Hope you like the site. I'd like to hear your thoughts.