Monday, March 21, 2011

Legendary Review (Xbox 360)

Sorry for not posting for awhile. I've been busy with the personal life, but here I am back with another review. Expect another post this week whether it is a review or something special because I feel I need to make it up to you all. Anyways, here is my review of a game called Legendary. I hope you all enjoy it, even though I went on more of a rant than just being a proper critic. As I've stated before, I want to test all different ways of writing a review before settling on one specific way. Well, as always, thank you for reading!

Legendary Review

I hope your spring break went well because it isn’t too good on my side since I just finished a game on the Xbox 360 that goes by the name of Legendary. It was developed by Spark Unlimited; never heard of them before. The reason why? They apparently have only made two other console games consisting of Call of Duty: Finest Hour and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. This explains why Legendary feels like a pigeon dumpling to my face.

“Wait a minute Mr. Geek, you can’t say the game sucks just because the company hasn’t released a solid amount of games,” says the random child that will force an explanation out of me.

You are right, little confused child. I can’t say that, but I can say it for the reason that I’ve wasted six to eight hours of my existence playing this game when I would have had a better time trying to figure how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

So where to start this review? Oh, I know! The story (or lack of)! Plain and simple, Pandora’s Box is found and then opened releasing creatures into the world that destroy everything and guess who has to save the day? You! You play Charles Deckard, the mute idiot who claims to be a professional thief, but apparently he can’t even get his keypad decoder to work and ends up opening the box. Now, why did he open the Pandora’s Box you ask? Deckard was hired by Lefey, leader of the Black Order. We all should know anyone who runs an organization with a name like the Black Order is bound to have all sorts of evil in him. This soon turns out to be true as Lefey wanted the artifact to rule the world. He has his blonde, sub-par attractive employee, Vivian, to help you with the job. Once Deckard and Vivian find out what Lefey is up to, they try to stop him along with the help of the Council, a military group that works against the Black Order. And that’s it. There is nothing else in this weak narrative. It is good versus evil and we all know what happens. There is a twist—one falling under the category of lame—at the end but I will not ruin it for you. If you really desire to know what happens, check it out on Youtube. I’m pretty sure it’s up there somewhere and you will be saving around seven hours of your life for something worth doing.

There is a little something I omitted from my cliff notes version of the story I stated, and that is Deckard’s left hand. Other than him keeping silent for the whole game Pandora’s Box imprinted his hand (a.k.a. impaling it) with…wait for it… power! The Council labels his left hand the Signet and feels it is a necessity in closing the box and stopping Lefey. This feature would be cool if the damn thing had more than two different uses! With your impaled limb you can absorb the fairy dust left behind by the creatures’ corpses. This is called Animus. As you vacuum the fairy droppings, all of it is stored into the Animus tank displayed by the sphere in the bottom left corner of the screen. With Animus you can use the Signet to heal yourself or send out a shockwave of energy. And there you have it. You use the Signet to power up some machines but who cares about that? What’s the point of giving us some light up masturbation hand if we are not given any other powers for it? Talk about being ripped off. It would have been neat to have the ability to control some enemies, or freeze them where they stand. But alas, Legendary does not grant the player to do so.

The first person shooter (FPS) side of the game isn’t that great either. First off, Deckard has to be the whitest man alive because he can not even jump two feet in the air. Some professional thief he is. Controls for the most part are ok. All your basic FPS elements are there: crouch, reload, aim, shoot, and grenade toss. The problems are with the weapons. There are actually a total of only eleven weapons in the game which include Molotov cocktails and grenades. This would be decent if the nine weapons were somewhat memorable, but they are not. They are just present day guns that are in almost every other FPS. You are allowed to carry two heavy weapons, one small arms weapon and your axe. The problem is that most of the guns will pose no threat to the enemies charging at you. These enemies will soak up entire magazines! Later on in the game this is not too much of a problem since some stronger artillery is given but for most of the game I found myself using my axe more than my assault rifle and pistol. When playing a first person “shooter” does it really make sense to use an axe more than guns? No, it doesn’t.

That was only a fraction of how frustrating combat is. I know I said earlier you get the help of the military organization, the Council, but they are no help at all. It’s not entirely the A.I.’s fault—although that is terrible in and of itself as most teammates will blatantly run into an enemy’s kill zone—as it is more the fact that everyone dies. If you have some troops following you (or if you have anyone in proximity of you), they are most likely going to die in some scripted. For most of the time you, and only you, will have to take out every living thing in the vicinity. Combat also becomes really monotonous as you end up feeling like you are fighting the same enemies over and over. This takes out any enjoyment because you do not feel like you are doing much for the world after you destroyed your five hundred seventy-sixth werewolf. There are times when you fight human enemies, courtesy of the Black Order, yet it is obvious the soldiers are rehashes of the same character design. This is the same for the members in the Council. If you take a second to look, every soldier is only a variant from the same three models. The same goes for the creatures that have emerged from Pandora’s Box. As great as Griffiths and werewolves are there is not a multitude of beasts to fight against. It is saddening that they had such few creatures in the game when the source material has countless.

Another frustrating element is how often enemies will attack from all angles. Soldiers and monsters will constantly charge your front and rear to try and cut Deckard’s life short and this sometimes includes the room you had just cleared. This situation increases largely when the Black Order can get the creatures to fight on their side later on in the game. But that only proves this one statement: Enemies are very obnoxious in this game.

The Black Order soldiers are not what drove me crazy because a headshot, for the most part, will put them down. It is the creatures who escaped form the box that will drive you into the mouth of madness for one reason and one reason only: respawn. That’s right. These creatures will respawn over and over again until you either leave the area or find someway to shut down where they are coming from. This can really get under your skin when you are working on one of the games few puzzles while a surprise fireball hits you from behind every couple of moments. And if this game succeeded at anything it would be creating some annoying enemies. The worst enemies are these little fairies called Nari. When they are in pixie mode they are invulnerable. You can only kill them if when they transform into their half lizard, half little boy mode. This forces you to wait as they fly in circles around you only becoming vulnerable the moment they attack. Adding to the Nari are the werewolves. They are not as annoying as the Nari but they make no sense. The game tells you that a werewolf isn’t permanently killed until it is decapitated. If this is not done the werewolf will regenerate in a short period. This is where a paradox occurs because if you do end the beast’s life another werewolf will respawn in a couple moments. There soon becomes no point in killing the werewolves because either way they will return to torment the player some more.

I tried to see if online could redeem this title at all but that, not surprisingly, did not go over well. My entire experience with online only added to the theory that this feature was rushed into the package. I played on the Xbox 360 and to my sad, sad surprise; there was only one online mode. There is no deathmatch, team deathmatch, or capture the flag. This is surprising because these three modes appear in almost every online shooter. What you have to do is kill werewolves with your teammates and fill up your Animus Tank—an actual machine that holds Animus—before the other team while stopping them from doing the same. Many players will lose interest after the first round (if there is even anyone still playing this game).

I would like to say the music in the game will make your ears bleed but I can’t because there is hardly any music. Throughout the game, out of the six times I heard music playing it was the same tune three times. When the songs did play it was only for about thirty seconds at a time. The soundtrack does nothing for you so I suggest you play some music from your hard drive. The rest of the sound in this game consists of up and downs. The creatures sound pretty good with their roaring and hissing and crawling, but the guns sound weak adding to their uselessness (with exception for the rocket launcher although a little more boom would have been nice). The graphics did not help the feel of the game either. They seem unpolished and uninspired. They are passable for a next-gen game but I would expect more coming from the Unreal Engine. Environments are boring, minus the opening scene of New York getting destroyed by Griffiths. Both the character and (most of) the creature designs are awful; one example being the Fire Drakes which happen to be bland stone textures on fire. As much work as the graphics needed I would have rather Spark Unlimited work on gameplay to make the experience somewhat enjoyable.

However, after all of this the game reaches its biggest flaw: it’s boring. I never got into the story or cared about any of the characters and the creatures do not awe players in any way, shape or form. The game did nothing to stand out. Not even halfway into the game I realized Legendary, like many other FPS games in the market, will be long forgotten. The game is also really easy and most hardcore gamers shouldn’t have a problem plowing through this. There is a hint at the end of the game of an impending sequel but I doubt that we will never see that arise due to this game’s flaws nor will many even care. I do not recommend this game in the slightest. If you really need to try this, rent it. But, I’m warning everyone! Let your curiosity go and learn from Pandora’s mistake by leaving this unopened.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ninja Theory's DmC

Now this isn't exactly new news persay, but I have to express my disappointment in Ninja Theory's character design for their reboot of the Devil May Cry series (not that the series needed a reboot in the first place). Dante (originally created by Hideki Kamiya), the famous half-human, half-demon savior of the world is one of the most popular characters to date in the world of video games. He was placed 19th in ScrewAttack's Manliest Men countdown as well as being placed at 28th in the Guiness Book of World Records' Top 50 Video Game Characters of All Time. Dante is hailed as a great video game character for several reasons which include his combat style, his attitude, his jokes but most of all, his look. The Western world isn't very fond of Eastern created video game characters, with their crazy colored hair and boyish looks but Dante was something different. Immediately the Western world accepted Dante and he became a global success.

However, returning to my original point, this is all going to change due to Ninja Theory's new take on the DmC franchise. Instead, they believe Dante should look like a cross between Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and Edward of Twilight. Fans have, of course, expressed their dislike of this new character design but both Ninja Theory and Capcom have refused to turn back and are determined to move forward proudly. I'm not saying the game will turn out poorly and I know I will make sure to try the Devil May Cry before I pass final judgement; Ninja Theory's previous productions, Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: An Odyssey to the West, are well made video games (they weren't anything special but they are a good bit of fun). It's just disappointing to see a fan favorite video game character receive treatment not supported by fans. It also strikes me odd (as well as saddens me) that Ninja Theory and Capcom have scrapped fans request to return to the old Dante, completely ignoring what the majority of their consumers desire.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Review (Xbox 360)

Here we are once again with the weekly review. This week: "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2" Check it out and spread the word that the Super Game Geek knows his stuff ;) well, hopefully it comes off that way. Enjoy and, as always, thank you for reading!

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Review

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Review

There was a time when X-Men video games were not a top priority for gamers. Almost every single game featuring these mutants was shunned because of poor design, poor controls or they just were not enjoyable. That all changed when developer Raven Software, along with publisher Activision, created X-Men Legends. A fun, action-adventure game with RPG elements that gave the mutants a new name in the video game industry. Allowing gamers for the first time to assemble their own team of X-Men, boosting the stats they wished to increase and finally taking on Magneto in the end. Well, with the sales this game made, a sequel was quickly spawned granting players a larger playable cast and more powers. It wasn’t long until Marvel and developers realized this formula would work perfectly with an entire cast of Marvel superheroes and they leaped for the idea. In the year 2006, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was released. It featured a cast of over twenty superheroes from the franchise, each with their own unique and individual powers. The game received positive reviews around the board. And now, a couple years later, developer Vicarious Visions has taken the reigns releasing Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 for gamers around the world to eat up and enjoy. But is this a sequel that will satisfy our superpower hunger?


Instead of creating an original storyline like the previous entry, Ultimate Alliance 2 follows the widespread Marvel comic event, Civil War. Due to large amounts of catastrophes and deaths caused by powerful men in capes and masks (mostly the young ones who have no idea what they are doing), the government has passed the Superhero Registration Act. This act forces all superheroes to register with the government so their identity and powers can be known, they can be trained to fight crime properly, and their activity can be monitored. Thus, the heroes are split down the middle with the heroes who are for the act following Iron Man and the ones against it following Captain America. This was a major event in the Marvel universe when it was first released yet it doesn’t really stand firm in a video game. Due to the fact that the game has so many characters, the story can never truly focus on one waypoint except for the standoffs between Captain America and Iron Man. There also isn’t much back story given by the game, so players who haven’t read the series may get confused at some points but this won’t shield any players from following the overall story. Even though the game is based upon Marvel’s Civil War, it does branch off the guide rails and takes liberty of the story towards the end of the game.


The gameplay is reminiscent of the first Ultimate Alliance, featuring a team of four heroes who punch, kick, pound, zap, shoot or claw up the countless waves of enemies. Players are able to decide which hero will be a part of that team. Just beware that not every character from the first game will be available this second time around. Nonetheless, combat and choosing your team are easily the greatest parts of the game. Choosing your favorite superhero (as long as he is a playable character) and then going out into the world to beat down some enemies is awesome. Plus, you get to use their unique powers to add to the final licking of your enemies. This isn’t anything new though because it’s all been introduced in the previous game. What is new are the “fusion” moves. During combat, two players or a player and a NPC (non-playable character) can trigger a destructive combination of powers that either wipes out every enemy on screen or deals a large amount of damage to a particular enemy (usually a boss). If you choose to go solo for this adventure, you should have some fun but this game truly excels when you play with some friends. Four player multiplayer is back and is available for local play and online play. This is the way the game was meant to be played. Busting up cyborgs and thugs with some friends can bring a lot of enjoyment.


Similar to the first game, there are numerous heroes to choose from. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of absentees who made appearances in the first game, but they have been replaced with some better and some worse. It’s all up to the player’s preference. As the game progresses, you are given the choice to choose Pro-registration or Anti-Registration. This choice will limit some of the characters you are allowed to play (if you choose Iron Man’s side you won’t be able to play as Captain America or Luke Cage and vice versa) but there are enough to make most gamers happy. Players are also given the ability to choose which stats to increase for each individual hero. This is where the RPG element comes in. Every hero has their own abilities and the more you pound baddies into the ground, the more experience points you receive. You will also level up as progress is made and can increase the damage or effectiveness of a hero’s power.


In between missions, players will be brought to their commanding officer’s (Iron Man or Captain America) headquarters. When in this area, you can run around freely, enjoying the sights or conversing with other heroes. There is also a simulator where you can replay completed missions or try out one of the many challenges to earn medals. Players can also look at dossiers and storyboard art collected throughout the game. Lastly, there is a trivia game that will grant experience points with each correct answer. And for all the comic buffs out there, you know trivia equals fun, fun, fun!


Even with all the entertainment that this game can deliver, it falls flat on its face due to technical problems. First off, the camera is made to ruin you in the heat of battle. There were so many time when I was battling away and the camera would set itself behind an object or wall blocking my vision. This is not a problem when the game gives you slight control of the camera but when it locks itself in place, this can be a real hassle. If the game had allowed the player to zoom in or out this problem could have been easily solved. The other fault this game contains is the bugs. Be ready to have your hero get stuck numerous times whether it is in a wall or in the air. One time I was playing as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and after I jumped to get to an upper platform, he got stuck on the ledge. Another time I was masquerading as Gambit and the next thing I knew he was walking in the air. I couldn’t get back down or jump any higher, I was just stuck walking on enemies foreheads. These problems were solved when I switched the hero out of the team but you shouldn’t have to do that in order to get a video game to work. These are bugs that should have been cleaned out way before release.


The sound is another highpoint in the game. Voice acting works for all of the characters except Thor. In the first Ultimate Alliance, Thor actually sounded like a Norse God which made him seem really cool. In this one he sounds like a whiny Shakespearian actor with raspy voice. The sound effects are great as all the powers all have their unique sounds from Spider-Man’s web attacks to Wolverine’s claw swipes. Each punch and kick is delivered in pure comic book fashion with BAM and POW sounds while characters spew out one-liners. The music does its job as it fits the atmosphere. However, you won’t be hanging out with your friends whistling the tunes. All in all, it is a good but forgettable soundtrack.


From an outside perspective, the graphics look pretty good. This game took a major step up from its cartoonish look in the previous entry. The environments aren’t spectacularly designed but they are far from ugly. Almost all of the character designs are done well but you’ll probably question some alternate costumes. The enemies are monotonous but what can you expect from a genre that forces you to fight wave after wave of them? When you take a closer look at this game however, you will see the rough edges. Graphical problems are a haunting factor in this game. Characters will sometimes run straight through walls or each other. Also, during conversations, half or the characters’ heads will block the screen which isn’t a pretty picture. This begs the question, what made the developers believe they were finished when there were so many errors that needed polishing?

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a fun game that is just unpolished. It seems like a rushed piece of work that needed to be shipped out in order to make some cash. Sure, there are some good points to the game that make it worth the playing time but in the end, players will become annoyed by technical problems. The story is based on a major comic book event that is sure to pull in some gamers and the action packed gameplay is fun, especially with some friends. Yet the bugs just drag the game farther and farther away from the greatness it’s trying to emulate. They may seem minor at first but the continuous occurrences become a major setback halfway through the game. Play this game only if you were a huge fan of the original and you have been eagerly waiting the arrival of a sequel. Otherwise, just let this super powered adventure fly right over your head.