Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland Xbox360 Review

Tony Hawk’s skateboarding games are by now a classic style of gameplay. The XBox 360 should have kicked up the graphics to a new level. It didn’t quite make it.

The game really annoyed me right from the start. You’re a country yokel heading off to the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles. Apparently according to this game, LA is the one dream destination of every skater.

You get to choose your character from all the “stereotype races” – i.e. white, black, hispanic, oriental. But they are ALL MALE. What’s up with this?? Other games let you customize your character to the Nth degree. Here you can’t even change your GENDER.

OK you choose your guy, get dropped off in a relatively tiny map area where you can change your hairstyle and shirt/pants through a few choices. Then you get little mini-missions to do – earn cash, learn tricks, meet challenges, and so on. There’s some wry humor in here, such as throwing darts at the oh-so-easy-to-harass Ben Affleck. Does the guy really deserve this much harassment? Sexy girls are around to flirt with you, and save-the-sheep protesters chant monotonously.

The moves are fun and easy to master – hopping on rails, spinning in circles, taking advantage of pretty much everything you can see. You can smash glass and tag the walls with your mark.

That being said, it got old pretty quickly for us. The graphics just weren’t stellar. The dialogue got redundant. The missions were often very vague and you had to retry them a few times to figure out exactly what they wanted out of you. It’s a great game to rent first. If you really love it, by all means buy it! But if you play it for a week and have finished the game, then it might be time to move on to something new.

Condemned: Criminal Origins Xbox360 Review

Some games are mature because they have swearing. Others are mature because they are really scary and nasty. Condemned – Criminal Origins falls clearly into the latter category.

Condemned – Criminal Origins has you in the part of FBI Agent Ethan Thomas, tracking down a serial murder. Don’t think that this is like Law & Order or Criminal Intent. This is about the nastiest, grittiest, scariest areas of a city that you can imagine.

Somehow it’s as if a maximum security prison was turned into an area of town. You go walking through buildings that are covered with gang signs, crawling with addicts who kill police offers on sight. Most of these insane bad guys lurk in the dark and call out profanities before bashing you with 2x4s or other weapons of convenience.

Of course a wise police officer might call for backup. But in the first “situation”, you’re told backup will take 10 minutes to show up. Instead of hanging tight for 10 minutes, you go trekking through the building on your own with only a gun and a flashlight to keep you safe. It’s not long before the gun is in the hands of the bad guy and it’s you and your flashlight against numerous enemies. This is wise?? Where’s your radio?

You have a helpful friend – Lt. Rosa – who helps to talk you through using your forensic equipment. However, she waits until a madman almost kills you before chiming in with some information about how all the madmen on the streets are insane and worthy of slaying. Thanks for the help, Rosa.

The game is definitely very scary. The screens are quite dark, the flashlight only lights up small areas, and there are a ton of corners for the madmen to hide out in. You see them run across the screen, take cover, lurk in the corners. You never know when they’ll launch an assault. Again, it really makes me ask why a lone FBI guy is roaming around in here without any real weapons. I realize it’s for plot reasons, but I want a better plot 🙂 Surely if I was really tracking down a serial murderer, I’d have more backup and more weapons than this.

That being said, if you’re looking for a scary game that isn’t all-and-all out combat a la Quake 4, this might fit the bill exactly. It’s you against the enemy – and the enemy is truly insane. It’s not about tons of ammo here – you’re lucky if you even have a gun sometimes. You have to find crowbars, planks of wood and whatever you can to stay alive. If you play this at night, with the house quiet around you, the HD TV showing you the full detail and the 5.1 surround sound tuning you in to the slightest noise, it really can get to you.

Well recommended for the mature set that enjoys being scared! 80/100

Mutant Storm Reloaded Xbox 360 Review

This is the game Geometry Wars Evolved and Crystal Quest wish they could be. 89 levels, 2 different gameplay modes (Adventure and Tally), 1-player and 2-player co-op modes, numerous powerups, many difficulty levels, incredible boss battles, outstanding electronic soundtrack… what more could you want? Just go get it now!