Posts Tagged ‘action’

Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles should look somewhat familiar to you. It was released in 2008 on the Nintendo DS and in 2009 for iPhone. And now Gameloft has ported the adventure to Android.

If you were a fan of Ubisoft’s ambitious Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 production, you know the set-up. An assassin named Altair is scouring the Holy Land for the means to bring down the Templar knights, an organization with sinister designs on the world in this narrative. The iPhone game serves as a prequel to the console game. Altair is in search of a specific artifact called “The Chalice,” which possibly has the power to bring the ugly Crusades to an early, merciful end. But seeking this relic raises more questions than it answers, setting up the console game, which I consider to have one of the best fictions in videogames in quite some time despite its uneven game mechanics.

As Altair, you must use your stealth abilities to seek the Chalice. The rooftops, awning, and beams that stretch across the grand cities of the medieval Holy Land are your playground. Careful movement above the sandy streets will keep you out of harm’s way for the most part, although occasionally you must descend to the avenues below and draw blood. Altair has a sword that can be upgraded, but there are other devices and items he uses in his quest, such as a grappling hook and bombs. Altair’s signature weapon, though, is his hidden dagger that is used to silently execute enemies and not raise the alarm of dozens of guards and Templar reinforcements.

As you explore the Holy Land, you will pick up hundreds of blue orbs that can be traded in for upgrades, such as expanding Altair’s health bar or the aforementioned sword. Personally, I tended to lean on sword upgrades because I wanted to make sure I could overpower enemies in any combat situation. I would accidentally blow a stealth situation by walking through a crowd too fast or stumble off a rooftop and land on the street below, just within striking distance of a Templar.

Naturally, this raises the issue of control. I think the control stick here is a little looser which does prevent absolute precision and will cause occasional mishaps, but for the most part, I really don’t have any major problems with how the game handles. The combat buttons work great, although the shield button placement over by the control stick is awkward. While there are some automated actions, like scrambling up a wall, I do wish that some small jumps were also self-propelled. The jump button works without a problem, but an auto-jump would help casual gamers by taking one less button out of the mix.

One feature in Assassin’s Creed I do not care for, though, are the minigames. I think they are pointless holdovers from the DS version. They felt tacked-on back then, like Gameloft was trying to integrate the DS touchscreen some way… any way. They don’t fare much better here. They function, but add nothing to the overall game. They feel gimmicky in a game that needs no gimmicks.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Assassin’s Creed looks fantastic. Everything — from the textures on Altair’s robes to the crackling fire effects — is brighter, crisper, and more detailed in this edition of the game versus the DS. However, Assassin’s Creed is not necessarily the smoothest play on a Droid. There is some framerate chugging here and there that mars the experience. However, some users have mentioned that Creed runs better on newer handsets. (ign)

Published by: Gameloft
Developed by: Gameloft
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: September 13, 2010
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC,Wireless, iPhone, Android
Also known as: Assassin’s Creed


Shark or Die (Android)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: , ,

As you might imagine, you are the titular shark in Shark or Die – and you’re on a single-minded mission: eat people. But though you have a simple goal, things are never that easy for a ravenous killer of the deep. You must make sure you don’t cause too many waves by quickly jetting between meals, for example. Let your food settle a little, or else you send those innocent appetizers swimming away in a panic. And if you don’t eat enough on a regular basis, well, expect to go belly up.

There is a little bit of shark management to busy yourself with, too. The more humans you inhale, the more upgrades you can buy for your shark, such as increased speed. And you should always be on the lookout for VIP swimmers (noted by celeb-shark names such as Sharkira). If you eat one of those, you get a little fuller…. which inches you closer to the next stage.

I expected Shark or Die to become repetitive after a while and was not necessarily let down when it indeed happened. But there really are enough secondary gameplay wrinkles in here – such as swimming directly at a human may cause them to scream, which alerts nearby swimmers to flee – to keep things interesting for far longer than expected. And I liked to colorful, crisp art as well as the good sound effects. Shark or Die’s music tip-toes right up to the line of copying the Jaws theme within stepping over it. (ign)

Published by: Handy Games
Developed by: Handy Games
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: August 26, 2010
Also Available On: iPhone

Grand Theft Auto, one of the biggest franchises in videogames, now rides shotgun on iPad. A port of the PlayStation Portable edition of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (which was in turn a port of a Nintendo DS game), the iPad version is a phenomenal play.

You are Huang Lee, the spoiled son of a Triad ganglord. After your father was murdered, you must deliver an ancient sword to your uncle so as to keep the empire in your family’s name. Ambushed at the Liberty City airport and left to die, you now find yourself drawn into the underworld with thoughts of vengeance. But what starts out as a simple revenge tale grows in scope, with a criminal world about to explode as gangs (and cops) square off for control. The Chinatown Wars narrative is strong, full of both humor and real drama, and benefits from excellent writing.

Instead of a 3D behind-the-shoulder view, Chinatown Wars returns to the top-down roots of the pre-PlayStation 2 GTA games. The art style is cartoonish and looks fantastic. The camera gives you a good view of the city around you, and unlike the iPhone version which allowed you to get too far ahead of yourself if you started going really fast, the iPad provides ample space around Lee. It’s great to see one of the few problems with the iPhone edition solved by making smart use of the benefits of the iPad.

Chinatown Wars uses a virtual stick for on-foot movement that is just about as good as you’ll find on the iDevices. Combat controls would benefit from some sort of targeting system, but I experienced few problems with digging into a violent crew and trading bullets or putting shoe prints on their faces. When driving, though, you default to a pair of arrows for turning left and right, which you use in conjunction with gas and brake pedal buttons. All of the virtual buttons (gas, shoot, kick, carjack) are also now just the right size. (They were too small on the iPhone.) However, until you get the hang of things, you often must look at the buttons to make sure you are hitting the right one. In the middle of a big fight or a high-speed pursuit, this is troublesome until you are 100-percent comfortable with the controls. The menus have also been cleaned up a little for the iPad.

The mission variety in Chinatown Wars is one of its strongest features. You are not just driving to a location, shooting somebody, and then returning to home base. You perform in a parade, hijack fuel tankers to turn into giant bombs, run interference during a race, and put out fires. And on top of the main story, there is a plethora of side jobs and races, including the extra content that was included with the PSP port. But most surprising is the drug dealing. I’m not just shocked that Apple was cool with heroin (other games have been rejected for drug- and alcohol-related content), but just how vital it is to the overall game. If you want to make money, you have to juggle this resource management game-within-a-game where you buy low, sell high, and watch out for busts.

Another Chinatown Wars high point: the GPS system. Tapping locations on a map to set a course is intuitive and makes finding your way around town easy. Of course, getting there isn’t necessarily a cakewalk, as you must watch for cops on the lookout for the new kid with the high wanted level. All of the touch screen elements from the DS original are pulled into the iPhone Chinatown Wars, too, such as kicking out the back window of a car in the water, interacting with computers, scratching lotto tickets, or hot wiring a car.

Finally, Chinatown Wars does not have the same kind of licensed music as other GTA games. Instead, it has a series of five stations that play genre instrumentals, like hip-hop and dance. I actually like this quite a bit; over time, I found the licensed music in the GTA games almost look-at-me distracting. You can also create a custom station with your own music, which is cool if you want to shoot up Chinatown while listening to Dean Martin.

I already mentioned that the raised camera and extra screen size of the iPad makes it easier to play Chinatown Wars on iPad. But I must also stress just how insanely good this HD edition looks, too. Rockstar refreshed almost everything for this port, cleaning things up so they look sharp on the large, higher-resolution screen. The attention to detail combined with the cel shaded-esque art direction makes Chinatown Wars one of the best-looking iPad games to date. (ign)

Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar Games
Genre: Third-Person Action
Release Date: US: September 9, 2010
Also Available On: PSP, iPhone,Nintendo DS, iPad
Also known as: GTA: Chinatown Wars

Super Mega Worm (iPhone)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

There are two types of WTF games. The first is a wonderfully weird game that ultimately reveals itself to be pointless and shallow because the developer expended all of its energy on getting the weird part right. (I could name a few here that would send the fanboys into lower orbit.) The second is a game likeSuper Mega Worm, which proudly flies its freak flag, but has the gameplay to back it up.

In the near future, the planet is poisoned by pollution caused by humans. The mega worms that lurk beneath the surface can no longer abide our carelessness, and so they rise to the surface to wipe us out. None of this is presented with an ounce of seriousness, from the opening crawl to the sound effects of humans as your worm gleefully gobbles them up. And with its delightful 16-bit graphics, Super Mega Worm successfully coaxes grins and giggles.

But like I said, there’s a great game here, too. Your worm is always moving – you can only steer it with a slider bar. Digging deep and then shooting for the surface arcs the worm through the air, hopefully mouth-first on a fleeing human. But if you repeatedly tap the “gas” button or bounce off a vehicle, you can send your worm high into the air to blast choppers and jets with its venomous spittle. Or you can unleash an EMP blast from the worm’s core that shuts down all machines in the immediate area. Going on a real bender, bounding from one human to the next (and chowing down on livestock, too) starts a bonus chain that greatly improves your score. (ign)

  • Published by: Deceased Pixel
  • Developed by: Deceased Pixel
  • Genre: Action
  • Release Date: US: August 26, 2010

It’s been just two weeks since Mafia II stormed stores across the nation, but it’s already time for its first batch of multiplatform downloadable content. Mafia II: Jimmy’s Vendetta picks up the story of — you guessed it — Jimmy, a wise guy who used to be a go-to guy but was double crossed and tossed into jail. If you played the PlayStation 3 exclusive “Betrayal of Jimmy,” this picks up where that left off. If you didn’t, you don’t have to sweat it as the missions you’re about to embark on aren’t really story-driven.

Whereas the game you know from the Mafia II disc follows the story of Vito and his best friend Joe, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a $9.99 download that packs 30 arcade-style missions for you to jump into from the game’s main menu. What’s an arcade mission in the Mafia world? Well, you’ll roll up to a floating icon, accept the mission, and a timer starts. You have to finish the job before the timer ends, and as you fly around Empire Bay blowing dudes away, you’ll bank points for headshots, kills, speeding, and more. Complete the quest, and all that action is boiled down into a score and letter ranking.

There’s a bit of story to this — an opening cutscene recaps the basics of who Jimmy is and each mission begins with a paragraph about why you’re about to do what you’re doing, but for the most part these tasks are bite-sized versions of the Mafia II gameplay. That’s all you need to know. Drive over there and kill a bunch of fur thieves, steal this certain car and get it to the docks, and blow up these marked gas trucks.

This focus on gameplay is a nice change of pace as the missions in Vito’s Mafia II story almost seemed like filler between cutscenes. When I was playing as Vito, I was trying to polish off a section of his life and get to the next bit of story. In Jimmy’s world, the missions are the sole focus and I found myself fooling around a bit more — I run from police rather than trying to play it straight, I fire my guns into crowds of people, and I crash rides just for the hell of it. This feels more sandboxy than the “real” Mafia II game because the missions are so short here you don’t have to worry about screwing something up late in the game and getting stuck with a terrible checkpoint.

I just play here.

That’s not to say Jimmy’s Vendetta is perfect. The majority of the issues I had with Mafia II are still here: it’s a run-of-the-mill third-person shooter. The animations are wooden, the fist fighting is way too simple, the aiming with weapons isn’t satisfying, and you only have one or two missions available on your map at anytime so it isn’t really a world where you can do whatever you want. Making matters worse is that I usually found the two available missions spread out on opposite sides of the map. I’d finish one and then have to drive across the whole of the map to get another. If you ask me, this is a cheap way to make the missions longer and make it seem like you’re getting more out of this download. It makes some of the quests boring or frustrating (there’s nothing worse than driving three-fourths of the way there and killing yourself in a car accident).

Get out.

Get out.

The missions themselves run the gamut from being an enjoyable breeze to being a complete bitch. It is cool to drive up, climb out, shotgun two guys, and complete the mission, but things can get tough. The difficulty spikes are rare, but I found myself shouting obscenities at the TV more than once as seven Irishmen would surround me out of the blue or my car would get flipped just as I saw the finish line in a mission. Then, there are the missions where the game’s own bonehead AI steps up. In one, I had to destroy a couple of gas stations. As I pulled up to both of these places, the enemies began firing from the other side of the gas pumps, blew the place up on their own, and I got the credit. (ign)

  • Published by: 2K Games

  • Developed by: 2K Czech

  • Genre: Action

  • Release Date: US: September 7, 2010

  • MSRP: $9.99

  • M for Mature: Blood, Intense Violence Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol

  • Also Available On: Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3

Ace Combat: Joint Assault (PSP)

Posted: September 11, 2010 in PSP
Tags: , ,
There is a stretch of time during which every adolescent male is obsessed with posters. I have vivid memories of being dropped off at the mall with my friends, where we would scour the two or three stores with the best selections. We argued endlessly about which comic book characters, rock stars and supermodels were worth putting on our bedroom walls, but we all agreed on two things. First, the Lamborghini Countach was f**cking awesome, and anyone who didn’t have a poster of it was a total loser. Second, we all wanted to be military pilots. And we came to the conclusion that the easiest way to get started was to buy totally sweet posters of F-15s, F-16s and F/A-18s and stare at them while pretending to do our homework.Videogames like Ace Combat: Joint Assault exist because that sort of jet craziness never really goes away. If you think airplanes are just big hunks of boring metal, you’ll probably never change your mind. But if you think they’re cool as hell, you always will. The problem is, it’s tough to bring the excitement, complexity and drama of piloting military aircraft to the masses. Games that attempt to simulate the experience risk jettisoning the fun. Those that focus squarely on fun often lose the sense of realism that makes these planes interesting in the first place.

Bring a friend.

The Ace Combat series has always been more about exciting, accessible and sometimes over-the-top aerial action than strict realism, although the latest installment, Ace Combat: Joint Assault, tries to paint a coat of authenticity over its whimsy by using actual cities such as Tokyo, San Francisco and London as settings. It’s a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t add much to the typical Ace Combat experience. They serve mainly as backdrops and have no real ties to the individual missions. At one point I was assured London was burning, which, although tragic, sounded like a cool thing to see. Unfortunately, it just looked like a pile of brownish blocks that were not on fire.

“Real world” settings are one of the big selling points for Joint Assault, the follow-up to 2006’s Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. The others are an “enhanced combat” view that zooms in on your plane when you accelerate and a host of co-operative and competitive online multiplayer modes. For me, the latter is the only real reason to pick up Ace Combat: Joint Assault. The campaign missions are repetitive and rather dull, the voice acting is hilariously bad, and the storyline is nonsensical. If you can believe it, the main story revolves around insurance. That’s right, insurance. If there’s a more boring subject for a game about multi-million-dollar attack aircraft, please let me know in advance so I can bring a pillow.

This guy knows what I’m talking about.

The multiplayer is where Joint Assault comes to life. Gather a group of friends over via ad-hoc or infrastructure mode and choose to co-operate in the campaign missions (up to four players) or face off in the competitive mode (up to eight players). Joint Assault’s campaign missions have multiple branches that can be tackled simultaneously with other players. What’s more, in many missions, the outcome of one player’s objective will have an effect on another’s. Cool, right?

The multiplayer options in Joint Assault are plentiful. You can limit invitees by rank, share career data back and forth, set mission parameters and create teams in Vs. modes. If you get a solid group of friends together with multiple copies of Joint Assault, you’re in for some serious stick time.

But if you’re going to be playing solo, there’s just not that much to get excited about in Ace Combat: Joint Assault. Sure, you can unlock dozens of planes, emblems, weapons and paint jobs as you make your way through the missions. But most of the missions are uninspired and cheap. “Oh, no! The giant flying fortress that’s firing Electro Laser Cannons also has 12 anti-aircraft guns on it! Let’s take them all out! Awesome, we took them all out! Wait, why did they all come back again? Let’s destroy them again and hope they don’t come back! Shoot, they came back again!” You get the idea.

Aside from a few cool moments like unlocking the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber, and, oddly, flying a persnickety executive around in an unarmed jumbo jet, there was nothing about this pocket pilot game that got me all that excited about flying. Given the choice between buying Ace Combat: Joint Assault (to play alone) and an equally priced bundle of airplane posters, I’d probably choose the latter. (ign)

  • Published by: Namco Bandai
  • Developed by: Project Aces
  • Genre: Flight Action
  • Number of Players: 1-8
  • Release Date: US: August 31, 2010 , Japan: TBA 2010
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • T for Teen: Mild Language, Violence

If you’re like a lot of us in the IGN office, your commutes to work and free time in general are dominated by Valkyria Chronicles IIgameplay sessions, and even if the massive single-player/co-op campaign wasn’t enough to already keep you playing for months to come, SEGA’s sweetening the pot by giving you free content this week and batch of downloadable content this month.

News broke on the SEGA blog today that fans will be able to pick up a downloadable mission pack this month. A price and specific date weren’t announced, although it was revealed one of the missions will take place in Mellvere, home of the main character Avan.

“We’ve mentioned in the past that there was DLC planned here in the west, but today we’re happy to specify that DLC will actually be arriving this month,” the blog post reads. “All of it will be coming together in one huge pack, and we’ll have details on how many missions that pack will give you, as well as the cost next week!”

The post also gives away a free character and sticker for the game. By entering “37LRK5D214VQVFYH” in the in-game “Extras” section off of the main menu, players will unlock Isara Gunther and the “Isara’s Dream” sticker. (ign)

Published by: SEGA
Developed by: SEGA
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: US: August 31, 2010 , Japan: January 21, 2010
MSRP: $39.99
T for Teen: Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also known as: Valkyria Chronicles 2

PlayStation Move hits store shelves on September 19th, and Sony has announced an eclectic collection of internally produced launch titles to go along with it. But non-Sony developers are working on Move experiences, too, and they’ll begin trickling in soon after launch. One of the higher profile Move applications is an upcoming patch for Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition that adds a motion control option for Capcom’s action shooter on the Move’s launch day.

I reviewed Resident Evil 5 when it was released in 2009, and I had a blast doing it. I appreciated it as an action game, but I understood the complaints from hardcore Resident Evil fans that it took the series away from its highly staged, claustrophobic, survival-horror roots. But that’s what I liked about it. It was different. It was frantic and intense, and I loved the fact that I could use a dual-analog controller with a Resident Evil game.

Despite my stubborn affinity for the standard Resident Evil 5 control scheme, I was optimistic that PlayStation Move would suck me back into a game I’ve already completed multiple times.

A quick word of warning: I’m about to unload a string of nerdy button nomenclature on you. If you’re not quite sure how the Move system works and what it includes, check out this handyPlayStation Move Guide to get caught up on the tech.

Getting started with Move in RE5 is a relatively simple process. Just sync up the Move wand and Navigation controller, and you’ll see two new control schemes available in the Options menu: ‘Motion A’ and ‘Motion B’. Both are actually quite similar, with one main difference: quick-turning. My experience with this small but crucial function using the PlayStation Move was a crash course in the sometimes confounding layout of the two controllers. For some reason, both units (wand and Navigation) have both an X and a Circle button, which can be confusing at first. All of the shape buttons on the Move controllers are also incredibly tiny, which can make them hard to find by feel, at least when you’re first getting used to the system.

Resident Evil 5’s default ‘Motion A’ scheme maps the quick-turn to the wand’s X button, which makes zero sense to me because it puts the directional movement (left stick) and the actual quick-turn button (X) on two different hands. The ‘Motion B’ scheme maps the quick-turn button to L2, putting both actions on the Navigation controller. After using the ‘B’ scheme for a few minutes, I never went back to ‘A’. Unfortunately, that nitpick isn’t my only issue with Resident Evil 5’s Move controls. The larger problem is with the camera system.

Resident Evil 5 (Gold Edition) Picture

To move your character with the Move system, you use the left stick. To move the camera, well, you really don’t. In order to look somewhere other than straight ahead, you’ll have to hold down the T button (trigger) on the Move wand and then wave the wand around while standing still. But when your reticule reaches the edges of the screen, it stops, and you can’t rotate your view any further. In order to do that, you need to move the left stick (the one you were just using to move your character around a second ago). It’s an utterly strange and unintuitive setup.

What’s more, when you actually decide to shoot something, you realize the fire button isn’t on the trigger button, it’s on the Move button. It works, but it just feels weak. The whole point of putting a wand with a trigger in someone’s hand is to approximate the feel of a virtual weapon, right? So why put the fire button on top of the wand? No, it’s not the end of the world — and it works just fine — but it’s inelegant and clunky, as if the buttons were randomly assigned.

Although the button layout does get in the way of the experience, Resident Evil 5 does work with Move controls. Aiming is responsive, firing is satisfying, and it’s fun to whip the wand around and pull off headshots. Move-based quick-time events like shaking the wand to escape from grasping enemies brings a sense of visceral immediacy to the experience.

With the introduction of Move controls, Capcom and Sony succeeded in pulling me back into a game I’ve already completed multiple times. But mainly my experience with the Move controls made me want to play Resident Evil 5 again with a standard controller. Move is an interesting experiment, and I’m eager to see what happens with it in the months ahead. But it feels tacked onto Resident Evil 5.

In short, Move controls work with RE5, and although they’re not perfect by any means, I welcome the addition. After all, it’s being released as a free patch to everyone who owns Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, so if you already have the game, you really have nothing to lose. Download the update, check it out, and see what you think. The more often developers try out new things with Move, the more useful the tech will become to gamers. (ign)

Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Genre: Third-Person Action
Release Date: US: March 9, 2010 , Japan: Q2 2010
MSRP: $49.99
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Also known as: Resident Evil 5 Gold

There’s going to be a whole lot more to Mega Man Universe than just tough-as-nails side scrolling action. Capcom revealed today that it is giving the game a huge customization component.You’ll be able to create custom Mega Man characters, combining parts as you like. In addition to changing the look of your Mega Man, the parts will affect how the character plays.

The game also has a stage creation tool. This lets you position enemies, items and more. As you might expect, you’ll be able to share your creations with other players.

It looks like Universe really will be a new type of Mega Man experience. We’ll be getting our first hands-on time with the game at the Tokyo Game Show next week, so expect impressions then. (ign)

  • Published by: Capcom
  • Genre: Action
  • Release Date:
  • US: TBA
  • Japan: TBA
  • RP for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Xbox 360, PS 3
Kill Bill’s Chiaki Kuriyama last made headlines in the gaming world as she starred in commercials promoting the Japanese Xbox 360 version of Resident Evil 5. (We’re not making this up!)Her next game-related gig is just a bit more substantial. Sega unveiled the cast of its new PlayStation 3 Yakuza game today, and Chiaki is serving as the heroine!

This is the Yakuza game that Sega Japan has been teasing for over half a year now. It’s the game that follows part 4 (the PSP game, due for Japanese release later this month, is a spinoff). Sega recently gave the game a final Japanese name: Ryu ga Gotoku: Of The End. (Ryu ga Gotoku is what the series is called over there).

Chiaki will portray heroine Misuzu Asaki.

Here’s a look at Chiaki in the recording studio and Misuzu in the game:

Look similar? There’s a good reason for that. Just like it did for Yakuza 4, Sega is using 3D scanning technology to map the voice actors to the in-game characters.

The Misuzu screenshot actually represents our first in-game look at Of the End. Sega also provided screens showing Tetsuo Nikaido, Tomoaki Nagahama, DD, Oya-san and Daigo Dojima. Except for Daigo, these are all new characters. Daigo has been in the series since Yakuza 2.

Strangely, Sega has yet to share screenshots of the game’s playable cast, which includes Goro Majima, Kiryu Kazuma, Shun Akiyama and Ryuji Goda.

Sega also hasn’t shared gameplay or story details. But there should be an information flood next week at the Tokyo Game Show, where the game is expected to see its full debut. (ign)

  • Developed by: SEGA
  • Genre: Action
  • Release Date: US: TBA , Japan: TBA
  • Also Available on : PlayStation 3