Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Impressions Round Up 31/08/10 - 360 Fest

Another new month is around the corner and with it another batch of new(ish) games. I spent a bit of time over the bank holiday weekend checking out some recent Xbox 360 titles. The poor old PS3 and Wii aren’t getting much of a look in at the moment, mostly because the allure of my shiny new black 360 hasn’t worn off yet. I do have a couple of Wii games that I need to check out soon though. Without further ado let’s get to it…

Just Cause 2
I was a big fan of the original Just Cause and its blend of crazy stunts, free roaming game play and destruction, but there wasn’t really enough variety to it. The setting pretty much looked the same from one side of the archipelago to the other, and the liberation missions were extremely samey. This time though there is a much wider array of environments – from snowy mountainous areas, through tropical rainforests and deserts. There’s lots of fun to be had just exploring the world, discovering and completing all the challenges and mucking about with the physics engine. Try connecting one end of your grappling hook to a gas canister and the other to the a bad guy before shooting said canister, and watch as hilarity ensues!

Mafia 2
On the surface, both Mafia 2 and Just Cause 2 appear to be free roaming action games in the template of Grand Theft Auto, but once you actually spend a bit of time with Mafia 2 it becomes clear that it is actually a much more linear affair than the games publicity would have you believe. The city of Empire Bay is beautiful and the game is incredibly cinematic, but there is actually very little scope to go off and explore at your leisure. Even if you were to do so, you would find very few distractions throughout the city other than the odd garage where you can upgrade your car or a bar where you can get drunk. I also have concerns over the length of the game because I’ve only been playing for a couple of hours and I’m already as far as chapter 4. Let’s hope the storyline slows down a little as you get further in.

Brutal Legend
I actually picked this one up about a month ago but it’s taken this long to put it in my 360 and give it a spin, mainly because I had already played the demo and that was a fairly decent sized chunk of the game in itself. I’ve now got a bit further than that and rescued the head bangers, and I’m enjoying it so far even though the vast majority of the metal references are going straight over my head. Roaming around the over world a bit was fun, and I’ve yet to encounter the allegedly broken RTS sections.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
Played through the first level of this Live Arcade tie in with the Edgar Wright film. It’s a retro style scrolling beat ‘em up in the same vein as Final Fight or Streets of Rage, and it follows the plot of the film/graphic novels pretty faithfully. The levels do seem to be a little on the lengthy side so I was starting to get a little fatigued by the time I encountered the first boss, but the game does support up to 4 players in local co-op play which would be great fun. Alas though, I was playing it on my own which feels a little dull.

Puzzle Quest 2
The extremely addictive puzzle/RPG hybrid game returns with even stronger RPG elements than before. There are lengthy dungeons to explore and many side quests to be found, as well as new treasure looting and door bashing mini games which add a little variety to the main puzzle mechanics. Equipable weapons have been added as another way of doing damage to your adversaries in addition to the skulls and spells that were present in the first game, and there is plenty of game to be found here for your 800 points.

That’s it for this round up – the promised Alan Wake and DeathSpank reviews are on the way, and one for Dragon Quest IX may not be too far behind. I'm also waiting for another trio of GameSpite books so I may have a thing or two to say about them once they arrive and I have consumed them.