Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Gaming Report, Q1 2008

A Look at the First Quarter of Gaming in 2008

It’s official, 2008 is 25% done. Two slices of the pizza pie gone with six left to consume. Just how tasty has 2008 been so far for gamers, lets take a look at each system, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS and PSP and see how each has fared, just who is delivereing the goods to gamers … and no comments on PC gaming, that’s a whole other bag that I just don’t have the knowledge to get into. Some games are good, others just worht commenting on. Please keep in mind that I’m looking at recent, new and original titles. Some of these are sequels, continuations in a series of games, but you won’t see games like Burnout, Need for Speed, Dynasty Warrior … games we’ve seen many, many times on every system possible. One or two sequels, ok, seven or eight, we know what we’re getting.

Games are listed in order of their release. If you want to know the Top 5 games, no matter the sytsem, you must play … scroll to the bottom of the list.

Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – I’m grouping these two together as they’ve had quite a few nice multi-platform titles. I’ll specify which hit both systems and be a general as I can for each.

Grade A – These are games you’ll want to buy, keep in yoru collection and play again years from now for the same joy the first go around gave you.

  • Devil May Cry 4 – Capcom – Multi – Yes the story is not going to win any Oscars but the gameplay, the characters, graphics, levels, boss fights, combos … the whole package and a decent difficulty level make this one hell of an early season release. This was also one of the first games I budgeted for in 2008.

  • Lost Odyssey – Microsoft Game Studios – Xbox 360 – The best RPG on 360. I know, not much competition but even stacked up against the deep RPG library on PS2 in recent years Lost Odyssey holds it’s own. Great music, beautiful graphics, standard cookie-cutter story and an evolving main charcter hook gamers from start to finish. You won’t be converted to an RPG fan by Lost Odyssey, but if you’re already into the genre you want this game.

  • Condemned 2: Bloodshot – SEGA – Multi – As scary as any survival horror game has been in recent years. I spent just a bit of time with Condemned 2 (rental) and it made that much of an impression on me. The game is bloody, and based on my playtime and what I’ve read and heard around the net I’m giving this a passing grade.

Grade B – Good games with a few holes that just don’t quite make the grade when it comes that legandary status which makes you remember them for years.

  • Army of Two – EA – Multi – Delay and worth the wait? A little of both as AoT delviers on very unique co-op gameplay, much better with a live body, but serviable with the CPU AI. Yes the dialogue can get cheesy at times, but the graphics deliver the goods and there is some good level design to be had. Solid is what Army of Two is, I just felt something was lacking … story maybe, we shall see in Army of Two … 2.

  • Frontlines: Fuel of War – THQ – Xbox 360 – Just not enough her to make this war title stand out, not with the likes of Call of Duty 4 in it’s way. You will enjoy the online component, but won’t remember too much about single-player.

  • Turok – Touchstone – Multi – A really good FPS with the added third party apsect of how to use dinos against foes mixed with top notch voice acting and a very Sci-Fi made for TV story. Fans of the series should enjoy, but why not go with Turok’s comic roots?

  • Viking: Battle for Asgard – SEGA – Multi – Still playing this puppy, but so far it is mesuring up quite well to the God of War it feels so similar too. Before I’m done here we may, MAY, move this puppy up in grade.

  • Dark Sector – D3 – Multi – Another title I’m still mixing it up with and so far so good on this third party action game that just makes me want to watch Krull over and over. References aside Dark Sector offers up an interesting story of a virus gone bad that mutates people in different ways. Now that I think about it Dark Sector is the love child of Krull and Resident Evil … good times.

Back of the Class – These titles are not bad, they just appeal to a specific gaming audience is all.

  • Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom – Microsoft Game Studios – Xbox 360 – Fans of Kingdom Under Fire need apply, all others, rent first. You get to learn more about the KUF world and the humor is great.

  • Culdcept SAGA – Namco Bandai – Xbox 360 – A solid card game without a real life componet … interesting, but this card/board title is great fun, especially when played with friends.

  • Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – Capcom – PS3 – What you got on the 360 you get on the PS3 with downloadable content included. If this released on both systems at the same time it’s much higher on the list, but hey, PS3 owners get a hot game none the less.

Nintendo Wii Is it a casual machine … yes, but it’s also not to be overlooked by serious gamers. Just take a look at the sweetness to hit in Q1 as well as a few borderline titles.

Grade A

  • No More Heroes – Ubisoft – Some say good, others say bad. Me, I’m in the good court. See what Ubisoft has done here is create a Wii game for gamers, one that’s mature, looks great and plays fun, yes fun, without using all kinds of gimmicky controls. I mention Ubisoft because they are really the first company to hook the Wii up wiht a grade A title not named Nintendo.

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Nintendo – Let the brawling begin. So many characters, best graphics on the Wii … just … too … much fun! Another game I’ve rented a few times but trust me I will be buying soon enough and so should you.

Grade B

  • One Piece: Unlimited Adventure – Namco Bandai – I wrote about One Piece before, and yes I did not have much good to say, but fans of the series will enjoy this game. I just wish the graphics were better and the stupid costumes would not have been used. Having played more since I last wrote I will say I enjoy this puppy more now than then.

  • Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors – Square Enix – Big time fan bias here. I love Dragon Quest, and this short, simple on rails sword swinging game just made me giddy.

  • House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return – SEGA – Do you like light-gun games? If yes, buy this dual pack of zombie shooting fun. It’s what you played in the arcade in your home, on the Wii, and really it’s a part of the ever fading arcade era you need to remember.

Back of the Class

  • Furu Furu Park – Majesco Games – Another mini-game collection, but one with a more Japanese feel. Titles worth mentioning are ... well it’s a good rental.

  • Samurai Warriors: Katana – KOEI – Bad, bad KOEI. A sword based game set in the Samurai Warriors rich world shoudl not feel this much like a chore with bad control and early-gen GameCube graphics.

Nintendo DS Ah, the system I spend the most time with, thanks in huge part to Square Enix.

Grade A

  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – Nintendo – The first Advance Wars on DS was great with outstanding gameplay and solid graphics. The sequel offers up more of the same, makes the DS a must own system and also gets dark and moody with it’s story-telling. Right up there with Revenant Wings for me.

  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village – Nintendo – Out of left field, that’s where Professor Layton hits gamers from. I’ve been that impressed with what I’ve read about this title that I’m telling you to buy it, even when I’ve yet to make the plunge.

Grade B

  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates – Square Enix – The game that promoted me to buy a GameCube gets new life on DS, cleans up some of the issues, offers up a new story and delivers a solid RPG. I still have trouble grasping the graphics, but Revenant Wings took over 30 of my time, and that was cartoony.

  • Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword – Tecmo – Reputation alone title here. Story is the same as big brother, but gotta give props the control scheme. Now if only I can find someone to borrow this from …

Back of the Class

  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney – Capcom – More of the same, but not a port of a Game Boy title, this one was made for the DS, but it’s more of the same. Go get Harvey Birdman.

  • Naruto: Ninja Destiny – D3 – Getting updated and tweaked games that have been out in Japan for a while just sucks for us anime gaming fans. While I like what is being done here, it just is lacking. Naruto on the DS just does not measure up.

PSP Gaining steam with some top notch, original tiles, some of which are getting ported to PS2.

Grade A

  • God of War: Chains of Olympus – SCEA – Not as long as it’s older brothers, but this is God of War done right, in all its glory on the PSP. It’s the best, plain and simple the best.

  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Square Enix – Ok, what did I just say about God of War … well apply it to Crisis Core, another franchise I have a huge bias towards, but this time it’s not needed. Besides being the best looking PSP title I’ve played, FFVII fans finally get a good game in the franchise.

Grade B

  • Patapon – SCEA – There are few games on this list that I’ve not played. I made a point of renting, borrowing or buying all here, with a couple exceptions. Patapon is one of those, and the more I read the more I’m tempted to purchase. Grade B just on reputation thus far, maybe a higher level at the end of the year if and when I play.

  • Wild ARMs XF – Xseed – Love the gameplay, strategy goodness, and the character design is rock solid anime fare, my favorite. I’m a few hours in and really enjoying it, but Disgaea is still taking so much of my on the go gaming time.

  • Wipeout Pulse – SCEA – The franchise that keeps on keeping on. A great on the go racer with trippy music, nostalgia for older gamers and a great intro for newbie’s to a form of racing that really needs to be revived.

Back of the Class

  • Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice – SCEA – It’s ok I guess, if you liked the first game.

Top 5 Games of Q1 2008 – And the winners are …
5 – Lost Odyssey – Microsoft Game Studios – Xbox 360
4 – Devil May Cry 4 – Capcom – Multi
3 – Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Nintendo – Wii
2 – God of War: Chains of Olympus – SCEA – PSP
1 – Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Square Enix – PSP

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