Those Games We Play

Game Reviews
3 Star Games / 2 Star Games / 1 Star Games


Rarely does a new intellectual property arrive in such a fleshed out package. The intoxicating new spin on stealth gameplay, the brilliantly fluid platforming, and the rich, immersive environments brew together to create a wondrous game to behold. The character animations alone exceed most games' ambition.
It does grow a bit repetitive and overlong, but it's a fun, beautiful franchise launcher that everyone should experience.
Recommended for all action-platformer fans, and for everyone else to at least give it a try.

 


Bioshock is a first-person shooter with enhanced abilities, set in a fantastical underground society gone awry.
This is an excellent looking game, with superior graphic & sound designs which immerses the player in a rich atmosphere. Fights are swift and violent (and extremely brutal if a Big Daddy gets too close to you). Enemies are plentiful and creepy. Controls are tight and the gameplay is very enjoyable.
There are faults with the game, but they are relatively minor; The game does not break much new ground. But what Bioshock does, it does quite well.
Recommended for everyone prepared for a moody, violent afternoon of polished gameplay.

 


Crackdown is a third-person shooter that places an emphasis on gravity-defying leaps and crazy-big explosions.
You level up key abilities by killing gang members, completing races & stunts and by grabbing orbs. It is quite rewarding seeing your noticeable improvement in your abilities.
What's not so rewarding is actually completing tasks. Are there any prizes for cleansing crime from an entire section of city? Nope. Just makes it a dull part of town to patrol around.
Aside from stuttering framerates during fancy explosions, and a target-lock system that prefers passing cars to actual enemies, this game delivers lots of fun: just running around and dishing out justice.
Recommended for those who must collect orbs!

 


Just Cause 2 is a great example of a franchise taking a look at the potential in its own game and focusing on improving the fun.
The voice acting and the close-up character models are even worse than the original game, but who cares? It is so enjoyable zipping around with the grappling hook and making things explode that you don't care too much that other stuff.
The storyline is over-the-top, fun and forgettable. And there are so many things to collect and destroy, good luck finding it all in under 100 hours.
Recommended for fans of explosions and base jumping.

 


Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a four-player beat-em up with a slew of super-powered characters: a terrific combination.
Expanding on the X-Men Legends games, Ultimate Alliance is a flashy comic book brought to life.
With dozens of playable characters, each with a range of powers which grow more and more powerful, the biggest complaint may be that you only get to use four at a time.
Traditionally over-the-top voice acting and visually exciting super-powers heighten this comic book romp. While not perfect, this game will keep players enjoyably occupied for hours on end: Leveling up characters, unlocking new costumes, or just throwing endless baddies off a cliff.
Recommended for comic book fans and gamers who like to beat up thousands of bad guys with flair!

 


Mass Effect is the possibly the buggiest game on the Xbox 360, with nary a cutscene that doesn't have jarring texture pop-ins or empty spaces where a character should have loaded. But who cares? It's all about the excellent choice-based narrative and flashy powers. There's also decent gunplay and a rewarding RPG leveling system.
But what's with that stupid bouncy tank?
Recommended for fans of Shooters who want something delicious added to their normal gameplay.

 


Wow. This is how you tweak a franchise. The shooting mechanics, the inventory system, the crew interactions… what didn't get an overhaul? I didn't even think the game needed so much departure from the foundation of the original, but I'm so glad it happened. A lot of things have been streamlined and polished, and the entire game is a much more inviting experience for newcomers. But not in a bad way, at all.
The narrative has been punched up as well, offering more choices, more interactions, and even more replay value. The story doesn't have the epic scope of the first, but it works much better on the personal level.
Recommend for everyone. Give Mass Effect 2 a try!

 



Pinball FX 2 is video pinball done right! With an ever-growing roster of tables, the fun never stops! Many of these newly-designed tables, particularly the ones bacsed on Marvel comics, deliver an exciting and creative mix of classic pinball standards and new-fangled gimmicks that can only be accomplished in the digital world.
The original Pinball FX selections are basic throwbacks to real-world tables, but you don't have to buy them if you don't want them with the all DLC pricing model.
Online multiplayer and fantastic friend-list integration put this excellent downloadable title over the top.
Recommended for anyone with time to kill!

 


Rock Band came roaring out of the gate an amazing experience, and this sequel tweaks it all to even greater heights. More of a polishing than a new direction, Rock Band 2 simply gets it right.
Gone are the individual single-player careers. Now you can just focus on the Band World Tour mode, alone, in a room full of friends, or even online! Improved technical responsiveness and a whole slew of challenges also keep the party entertaining for weeks.
Recommended for all fans of rhythm games, casual and expert alike.

 


In nearly every way, Assassin's Creed 2 polishes the core concepts of the first game. The first two-thirds of the game delivers tutorials, action, and story at a terrific pace. It all looks better, plays even more fluidly, and contributes a more engrossing saga than its predecessor.
Unfortunately, the excellent pacing slams head-first into a brick wall when the protagonist reaches the city of Venice. Suddenly, the brisk affair is deluged with unnecessary tasks to drag out the game, the most annoying of which is an escort mission where you must carry your client across town. And the game ends with a final interior mission that is contrary to the central gameplay. So close to getting it all right, the game really stumbles at the finish line. Plus, the gee-whiz spectacle of the new platforming mechanics isn't so new anymore.
Recommended for action gamers and fans of the first game.

 



After a terribly uninspired style revamp in Bomberman: Act Zero, classic Bomberman gameplay has returned with the XBLA title Bomberman Live.
Featuring customizable outfits and online play, this game is excellently priced at 800 Microsoft Points (10 dollars).
This game's strong point is in its options: It's got several stages, gameplay modes and power-ups to choose from. This makes it one of the best games in the Bomberman series.
The game's shortcomings fall in the single-player category. Other than playing to unlock costumes, most players will prefer interacting with human opponents. Luckily, it has both online and local multiplayer.
Bomberman Live is recommended for fans of the franchise, and for those who like their gameplay in small doses. It’s a great game to pick-up for ten minutes at a time.

 


Developers at Twisted Pixel Studios (Splosion Man) are really carving out a name for themselves with their unique brand of hilarious games. Comic Jumper helps cement that reputation.
The game's protagonist, Captain Smiley, has a sidekick, Star, who is attached to his chest and offers nothing but a constant barrage of insults. Nevertheless, the duo jump around in different comic book eras (via the Timecop transport) in attempt to recapture their popularity.
The gameplay is pretty much a one-note shoot-em-up, but it's the humor that compelling enough to play through the game.
Recommended for comic book enthusiasts with a sense of humor.

 



Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream has delivered a polished narrative-based gameplay experience with its latest title, but perhaps it was not ambitious enough to fully succeed.
As you begin the story, the game introduces you to the basic control elements by having you perform brief mundane exercises such as brushing your teeth and setting the kitchen table. While such activities may sound like tedious labor, they do deliver an intriguing level of satisfaction.
Where the game falters is in the small details… walking, for instance.
The other big stumbling block is the plot itself. Once you discover the identity of the killer, replay value disappears, as you no longer have the mystery compelling you to play through the boring parts.
Recommended for fans of narrative-driven gaming, and those looking for a different experience.

 


I love pinball. These faithful creations of classic machines like Black Knight and Taxi sure bring a lot of nostalgic joy. And a marathon session (with local multiplayer) of all the tables is a fun challenge.
The presentation is a bit underwhelming, though. The bland arcade backdrop never changes. Credits you earn quickly become useless after you unlock a handful of tables. And the leaderboards are about as basic as you can get.
With only a couple "newer" (1990s) tables, younger players may not be too impressed with this collection, but for most, there is an undeniable addiction waiting to happen.
Recommended for pinball lovers of all ages!

 


I wasn't a big fan of the previous game in the franchise, Red Faction Guerilla. It was fun, but I never felt compelled by the narrative, and apart from the ability to destroy just about everything, I never felt there was all that much to do. This entry takes away the open-world and puts you on a linear storyline.
And that really works for me.
The game is paced well, not really bogged down on story, just enough to get you to go places and kill giant bugs. The destruction is still top-notch, and everything looks so pretty, especially the blue glowy effects. There are few weapons that deliver the giddy thrills of that magnet gun. There may be less content than the previous entry, but the game works as an enjoyable playthrough experience.
Recommended for gamers who like to tear things down and throw bugs around.

 


Rebounding from their first disastrous attempt at a fully open-world Tony Hawk game, Neversoft delivers a more toned-down attempt that works well. Tony Hawk's Project Eight brings a couple minor new tricks, but nothing earth-shaking. It's just a refinement of what works.
The graphics are a bit mucky, and the overall look to the world is somewhat depressingly muted, but the game itself captures the tried-and-true gameplay of previous titles.
Recommended for longtime fans of the series, and for those looking for a current gen jumping-on point.

 

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