MLB 2K12 is (Almost) My Fantasy Baseball Game [Review]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 10:00 am
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Brrrrruuuuuucccceeeee.

Unlike that Other Baseball Game, MLB 2K12 offers pristine graphics but leaves some realism in the clubhouse, lacking motion sensor controls and sharp, broadcast cameras. It's not a deal breaker for baseball fanatics, though, especially if you like season and "player" modes and Home Run Derby, as well as up-to-date MLB rosters. It just doesn't mirror a program like Sunday Night Baseball and all its personalities, complexities and excitement. It's just a good baseball video game.

In other words, 2K12 isn't amazing, but it's not forgettable. I guess it's confusing me, so much so that I've had trouble assessing it. Here's a try.
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Tags: MLB, reds

Review: 'The Splatters' Charmingly Explodes

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

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The Splatters is a game that encourages you to maneuver happy little blobs of goo around little courses. The goal of maneuvering said little happy blobs around is to make them land on little landmines and watch the mines blow up. The happy little blobs explode into fountains of goo when this happens and they often emit tiny squeals of joy when they do so.

This is an addictive physics puzzle game, with simple controls, and basic, but creative and colorful environments - comprising the obstacle courses for the blobs. Using the basic controls of A, left stick, and the left and right triggers, players essentially slingshot the blobs around small obstacle courses. The left stick aims the blob, holding A down extends the launch distance, and the triggers eventually allow the blob to rotate and flip. The levels are separated into two or three rounds, each one upping the challenge of detonating bombs with blobs, with every three levels giving you a new ability or stunt, allowing you to go back to older levels to practice with it, and up your score.

Score is determined based upon stunts, which your abilities give you. The better your stunt combos, the higher your score, and the more creatively you string combos together (bashing blobs into other blogs, or rebounding them off of spikes embedded in the walls), the happier the blobs seem to get. They are happy little creatures, it seems, and after a few rounds, an amusing t-shirt for my Xbox Live avatar was earned, stating 'Die With Style'. Clearly, that is the motto of these little guys; they live to die in spectacular, Technicolor fashion.


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You Say You Want An Evolution [Anomaly: Warzone Earth Review]

Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

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Militaristic video games have enjoyed a phenomenal amount of success despite seeing iterations built more on the incremental physical improvement of a current engine, rather than actual innovation within the genre. The oft-picked on Call of Duty franchise is the flagship example of this -- a Madden NFL with guns, watery stories, and the occasional gruff Brit. A series of updates, fine-tunings, and circular narratives. Those games are yearly remakes. That formula sells dozens of millions of copies to eager fans who adore the formula for being nothing more sophisticated than what it is inherently. That is why it will never change. It is stuck in its own joyous, rich, repetitive circle of Hell for all eternity. A black hole of non-progress. And with the competitive nature of the industry, market-sharers like Battlefield and Medal of Honor, and even Resident Evil, are at Event Horizon.

To inject any sort of freshness into the genre, it takes a development team without a determined formula, or the ultimate desire of cash, or distinct competitors to keep it honest. 11 Bit is exactly this, and their newest independent creation is an amalgamation of cutting-edge genre-bending and absolute respect for - surprisingly - the foundational tales of video gaming itself. Anomaly: Warzone Earth is about the tension of war. It is about using and developing tactics to stave off an alien invasion. And most importantly, in its smallness, it delivers a monumental experience.



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South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is Killer-Weak-Sweet [Review]

Friday, March 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm
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South Park: Tenorman's Revenge -- it's, as Cartman might say, "pretty coo [sic]."

Let's get this out of the way -- the gameplay in South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is fine. If you're looking for a platformer that hearkens back to its old-school roots while incorporating the smooth animation and online functionality of modern gaming, it's a great fit. It has interesting, if not revolutionary elements like unique characters moves and a stage timer that can be rewound. The physics feel a little "floaty," and things get repetitive (as is common in platformers), but these aren't huge issues.

However, if you're looking for a groundbreaking game that discovers totally new possibilities for the genre, like Limbo or Braid, this will not meet your requirements. But you didn't expect a South Park XBLA game to play like Limbo. There's really only one reasonable explanation for why someone would want to buy a South Park game: they love South Park and are hoping some of the profane magic of the series can be captured in game form. As long as the gameplay is not downright bad, if the spirit of the series is intact, the developers have been successful.

And this game does a great job of converting the show as it is now into a generally fun, pretty challenging platformer. Any dissatisfaction with what the game is like probably stems from deeper dissatisfaction I have about what the show has become.

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Ninjas Are Not Cool Anymore [REVIEW]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm

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First, let me get this out of the way - I've beaten every Ninja Gaiden game on Master Ninja difficulty. I've also visited Team Ninja in Japan four times. I have a huge amount of reverence for the franchise, and most importantly, for the team behind them. I've held a special place in my gaming heart for Ninja Gaiden since the days of the arcade version, the NES games, and even the handheld games. Bottom line - I'm a huge, huge, huge Ninja Gaiden fan.

But then there's Ninja Gaiden III...

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Is MLB 12: The Show Too Real? [Review, Part 2]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm
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Sliding into reality.
Last week I raised the question about buying the PS3 or Vita editions of MLB 12: The Show, both of which are a few innings away from reality. Seriously, when I play these, I feel like I'm there, in Great American Ballpark, bringing the heat on a hot summer day and swinging for the banks of the Ohio River. The announcers, the "True Ball Physics" (mentioned last week), the batters' stances, the "True Broadcast" cameras  - these features and so much more amount to two outstanding videogames.

It's no longer a question about which edition I like more, though. The PS3 edition rules. Hands down. Still, I have a long way to go before I master its gameplay. Which is code that I once again (and again and again and again) lost to the Cubs, underperforming with the Reds. More on that in a moment.

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Tags: MLB, PS Vita, PS3

Sumioni: Demon Arts Makes a Splash on Vita [Review]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm
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With mechanics that harken back to platforming games of old and an artistic flair akin to that of Okami, Sumioni: Demon Arts brings a unique action experience to the PlayStation Vita's early library.


While Sumioni looks great and controls well, however, a couple of design choices keep this title from jumping to the top of the must-have list for early Vita adopters looking to tackle a fully featured game at a bargain price.


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Sine Mora Is A Shooter For The Ages [Review]

Monday, March 26, 2012 at 10:00 am
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I have to admit that I wan't looking forward to Sine Mora for a couple of reasons. First, I'm not a big fan of Grasshopper Manufacture, who co-developed with Digital Reality. I've always thought that the developer made interesting games, but interesting doesn't necessarily mean "good." A game can have the weirdest, most unique story around, but if the gameplay mechanics don't hold my interest or work properly, I'm not interested.

The second reason has to do with nostalgia. Namely, I'm not interested in it. Michael Bay can turn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into aliens if he wants. I don't care, despite the fact that I loved TMNT growing up. Changing something I grew up with affects neither my past or present.

Past and present are big issues in Sine Mora. Not only does the game revolve around the concept of time, but it is a "shmup," (shoot-'em-up), a genre that was popular when I was young and has evolved very little in the last few decades. Shmups are still being made and gamers are still playing them, but nostalgia for the genre is basically required to enjoy them.

To my surprise, Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality have created a game that honors the past while modernizing the genre. And it is very, very good. 

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MLB 12: THE SHOW - PS Vita or PS3? [Review, Part 1]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm
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Cueto and the Reds crew.

Sony and the minds behind MLB 12: The Show want you to buy the game's PS3 and PS Vita editions, touting their unmatched, super-realistic presentations, mechanics and controls. Both editions, we can say, will juice your baseball fanaticism (Reds, Reds, Reds) well before Opening Day.

Which should you buy? It's a tough call. That's why we're reviewing both editions, starting with the Vita. This one, with its line drive towards reality, has gotten me so worked up, I thought it best to recap a blood-boiling battle between the Reds and the Cubs. It was ugly, ugly, ugly ....
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Tags: MLB, Vita

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

By Jason Helton

First, I have a confession to make: Until now, I've never played an Uncharted game.  As someone who has traditionally hated Tomb Raider and all of its variations, it seemed that the Uncharted series would be something I could skip. If there is anything that Golden Abyss has taught me, it's that I need to go and buy some used copies of past Uncharted games.  

For anyone unfamiliar to the series, the protagonist Nathan Drake, a young wisecracking descendent of Sir Francis Drake and spiritual successor to Indiana Jones, is a treasure hunter and gunslinger, whose adventures often put him at the wrong end of a gun barrel.  While investigating the massacre of a Spanish expedition 400 years ago with friend Jason Dante, he is pulled into a conflict, whose resolution may be at El Dorado, the lost city of gold.  

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