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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gaming Report, Q2 2008

Like the NBA draft this year after the first two picks it’s really a toss-up of who will be drafted next. Ok, so maybe for most gamers an NBA reference is a stretch, but the point remains. After Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 there are some solid games, but really nothing in the same stratosphere are these two titles. This is supposed to be the slow time for gaming, but from what we’ve got below there are some great gaming options with more news to hit from E3 and Comic-Con. Good times, now onto the games (and yes, I’m one guy, this is my list influenced by my playing and research).

Grand Theft Auto IV CoverMulti-platform – These titles rule the day. More and more games are hitting multiple platforms, which is a good thing for gamers. While we have our licensed titles we are getting more unique offerings. Let the fun begin.
Grade A
Grand Theft Auto IV – All they hype and it lived up to it, period. No lawyers or politicians on the radar yet, but there is still time. Oh, downloadable content is also on the way so prepare to miss work, family and more.
Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy – I wrote this game off when first heard about it, then I played it. Worthy of the movies this game is just solid, innovative and full of action. A true sleeper hit.
GRID – Ah, the first title on the list I’ve not yet played, but I bet, 100% this will be the next great racing franchise to step up with GT and PGR.
Battlefield: Bad Company – From the first game I have not played to the next. Based on reviews I’ve read and a 30 min demo I played (ok, I have played a bit, usually like to spend 1-2 hours) read the reviews, this is a good war game.
Grade B
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit – Yes we’ve played this game before, but for me, for fans of Dragon Ball you need to play this game. Why not an A you say? It ends at the Cell Games, what the hell!
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures – We’ve played this game before, and a bit better, with Star Wars but fans of Indie will dig it and it’s a formula that works. I love the Star Wars references, but their inclusion shows you a bit of Indie’s shortcomings.
Hellboy: Science of Evil – I like me some Hellboy and this title plays solid, delivers the atmosphere you expect from the franchise and it gives great service to fans of the comic.
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith – This is more like a large add-on pack that any Aerosmith fan will dig, and that I picked up for just the Stone Temple Pilots.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 – Under the radar. RSV2, like its predecessor is hot and one of the few titles, sequels I’ll cover.
Back of the Class
Alone in the Dark – A next-gen, oft-delayed title that is fun, but just misses the mark on a few levels. It’s not bad, just that plain looking girl at the dance nobody really pays attention too.
Iron Man

Ninja Gaiden II CoverXbox 360 – Exclusives are few and far between for both 360 and PS3. What we have below is one solid titles, one decent re-release (see section below for more on these) and one so-so. The multi-platform ruled the quarter.
Grade A
Ninja Gaiden II – Not as hard (if you want) as the first game(s) and the controls need a bit of tweaking, but damn Ninja are cool and this game looks outstanding, and, well it does play sweet also.
Grade B
Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath – It’s C&C, with more story, units, missions and that great, great live-action acting we love. Fans of the series need apply.
Back of the Class
Operation Darkness – Love, just love the art style, but why does a 3rd, 4th gen title look just dated? This is what you like about SRPG’s but the graphics just need a bit of work. Did I miss something? Is this a new title or a port? Anyone?

Metal Gear Solid 4 CoverPlayStation 3 – What was said for 360 carries water here. We’ve got one teaser, one major disappointment and one of the greatest games ever.
Grade A
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Perfection. Every question is answered; the game is beautiful and game play perfect. Its perfection and the proper ending to MGS. Now when do we get to watch every cut scene in a theatre in a row?
Grade B
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue – Looks beautiful, plays real … yeah that’s all I got. I’m sure my kids will love GT5, the full version, when it hits during their senior year of college (btw, they are 7 months old right now).
Back of the Class
Haze – Damn. My biggest sadness of the quarter. The concept behind haze is so cool, and I really dug the promo vids and game play, but losing your juiced up powers during the game just sets it back. What a cool feature just to lose into the game.

Mario Kart Wii Cover

Nintendo Wii – Tons, I mean tons of games have hit the Wii, but only a handful are original, no crap that is worth the purchase.
Grade A
Mario Kart Wii – You’ve played this game before, but like Madden it’s polished to near perfection and just dang fun. The online could use some work but still great racing fun.
Wii Fit – Good way to get some exercise in while gaming. Both serious and fun this type of use of the Wii is nice to see, when it works of course.
Grade B
Boom Blox – Yup, another I’ve not played but based on what I’ve read it’s on the list and could move up once I take it for a spin. Google it and read some reviews, that’s what I’ve done so far.
Back of the Class
We Ski – Great idea just feels like a mini-game, not a full title.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2 CoverNintendo DS – Fan of role-playing then the DS hooked you up. Like the Wii there are a ton of niche, kiddie and crap titles out on the DS, but these ones do indeed shine, and yes there is a lean towards my type of gaming.
Grade A
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift – Yes, this is excellent. Classic strategy role-playing following Square Enix’s plan of re-releases and updates to old titles. FFTA2 is going to get a lot of playing time and is a must buy for any SRPG fan, period.
The World Ends With You – Like so many one-hit titles from Square Enix before it TWEwY is great. It oozes style and the action is unique and fun. On par with some of my favourite Castlevania DS titles.
Guitar Hero: On Tour – Here based on reputation. I’ve not yet played this puppy, but when you mix in great music and a new game play feature that works it’s a worthy title on any system. Will be interesting to see if any other publisher makes use of the attachment.
Grade B
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness – A new, non-traditional Pokemon, sequel actually, that comes in two flavours. Pokemon is an easy sell and fun title for both kids and adults, but this title flows more towards the kiddies.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time – Re-read what I wrote above.
Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard – Another follow-up title with that old-school RPG grid action we love.
Summon Night: Twin Age – Here because I felt like putting it on the list, period.
Back of the Class
Almost every other title on the DS – Yup, there is a lot of poo out there, but it’s getting sorted out, just check out the discount bins.

Secret Agent Clank CoverPSP – It was a slim quarter for the PSP. Just when the system was looking hot with the Q1 releases it really regressed. I can’t really call out any stinkers this quarter due to the lack of releases.
Grade A
Secret Agent Clank – Like Daxter before him Clank heads out and delivers one solid PSP adventure worthy of a port to the PS2.
R-Type Command – Who know? A strategy game based on a side-scrolling franchise what just worked … and the model you get when pre-ordering was sweet swag.
Grade B
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress – Kinda sad, I really wanted to dig this title but it just did not deliver enough newness. I still love me some Naruto.

Devil May Cry 4Re-release – I’m more calling these titles out as opposed to grading them. This is a good thing for video gamers are there are not many exclusives left, and when there are they have limited timeframes for exclusivity. For good or bad (usually good) these titles have made there way into new systems for all to enjoy, usually with added content. The Wii received Okami and Rock Band, much needed titles, PC received Assassin’s Creed, Devil May Cry, Mass Effect, Turok and Lost Planet, PS2 got an update for Persona 3 called FES (I LOVE Persona), Xbox 360 received a sub-par Supreme Commander and the previously mentioned C&C3: Kane’s Wrath and the PS3 received … well nada of mention.

Overall the quarter was ok. There were indeed a few legendary games released but this is like a football team with a top 5 quarterback and running back, Hall of Fame type players, but a so-so rest of the team. GTA4 and MGS4 must have sore backs from carrying this quarter.

Top 5 Games of Q2 2008 – And the winners are …
5 – Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
4 – Mario Kart Wii
3 – Ninja Gaiden II
2 – Grand Theft Auto IV
1 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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