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Nov 9, 2007

Viva Pinata

Genre Simulation Styles Life Development Sim Publisher Microsoft Game Studios Title: Viva Pinata

PC game
/ The world encompassing the piñata community is slowly dying, and to keep these creatures from going extinct, players must create a world where the piñata can thrive. Viva Piñata offers a place for gamers to create a lush green environment where all kinds of piñatas can live and prosper. Players have complete creative control over the neighborhoods they create, and can add grass, flowers, trees, fences, ponds, and other objects that will lure in the piñatas. Each type of piñata has different needs, such as a worm piñata's need for good earth to burrow in, and a rabbit piñata's need for long grass and carrots.

Piñatas can come in the form of customizable horses, sheep, raccoons, worms, crocodiles, or wolves, and just like in nature, some of them will not get along. Players can build fences to keep rival piñatas away from one another, and also to keep predator piñatas away from prey. Wild piñatas are red with black stripes and can cause general disorder in a garden. They are filled with bad candy that is poisonous to other piñatas, but they can be handled by asking helpers to beat them with a stick, taming them, or sending them off to pollute another player's garden.

Nov 8, 2007

1914 Shells of Fury Overview

A submarine simulation set in WWI, 1914 Shells of Fury puts players at the helm of four different German U-boats. Gamers can pilot detailed models of the Armada-Petrolboat, the Armada-Dieselboat, the UB-I, and the UC-II, as they navigate waters filled with warships. There are 50 individual missions based on historical data, a campaign mode set from 1914-1918, adjustable levels of difficulty, and a random mission generator.

Pilot detailed model of four WWI-era submarines for the German navy
Navigate the treacherous depths in more than 50 individual missions
Adjustable difficulty provides a continuous challenge

FEAR: Perseus Mandate (Expansion Pack)

Genre Shooter Styles First-Person Shooter Publisher Sierra Entertainment, Inc. Flags Expansion Pack

PC game
/ Unfortunately, the new enemies aren't that much different from the original ones, and the additional weapons don't add much to the game. Veteran players will have a persistent "been there, done that" feeling throughout the adventure, while newcomers may feel a little lost, since Perseus Mandate makes so many direct references to the previous games.

Empire Earth III

Genre Strategy Styles 3D Real-Time Strategy Publisher Sierra Entertainment, Inc.

PC game
/ Empire Earth III puts the EARTH into Empire Earth by introducing a spectacular global perspective to conquering the world. The globe serves as the battleground between the 3 unique factions (Western, Middle-Eastern, and Eastern) that have been created with a stunning new artistic vision. All of human history and beyond - Across the entire globe - Empire Earth III commands all. Empire Earth III
lets players battle across the entire globe as they make their bid for world domination. Gameplay unfolds in a richly detailed Earth made up of 60 skirmish maps (provinces) representing real locations on the globe or create a randomly generated globe to conquer. Players can choose both the starting location and starting era. Unique Customizable Civilizations - Civilizations are divided into three factions Western, Middle-Eastern, and Eastern. Each faction has its own unique tech tree, units, structures, and game play style. Each faction's tech tree allows players to create completely custom civilizations of their own choosing. Fully Persistent World - Unlike any other RTS, Empire Earth III will let players keep their spoils of war. As the player builds their empire across the globe their cities and outposts will grow and improve. Their units and structures will evolve over time. You keep what you create, so long as someone else doesn't take it from you.

Clive Barker's Jericho Review (Linear, linear, linear)

Jericho sports wonderful graphics, a decent storyline and some sick, sick thinking, all of which I like. This is offset by the horrible linearity of the game, which destroys suspension of disbelief and the ability to lose myself in the story.

If I want linearity, I can read a novel. Video games are supposed to offer choices - that is why people play them. A video game should not herd you from location to location, but Jericho does. I found the feature where you switch between characters fun for about two minutes, and then it became irritating as I was herded into doing so multiple times. Again - the game was making the choices instead of me. That's bad design, in my opinion.

Finally, I was extremely disgusted to see the reemergence of a horrible programming technique from the SuperNintendo days - being forced to play little games where you tap a series of buttons and die over and over in a loop until you get them right. For instance, a corpse suddenly rises out of the ground and grabs you. Tap A to punch it in the face. Now Tap B to push it away. Tap Y to kick it in the crotch. Quick! Tap B again to smash its head with your hammer. You get the idea. Boring.

Bottom line - I cannot stomach being herded from point to point despite the interesting storyline. I'll never finish this game. Four hours into it, I've grown bored of tapping various button combinations in response to prompts on the screen and running down pathways that don't branch at all.
Verdict: 40/100       

Nov 6, 2007

Gears of War

Gears of War is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was initially released as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 in November 2006 in North America, Australia, and most of Europe and included a "Limited Collector's Edition" with added content and an art book titled Destroyed Beauty that detailed much of the game's back-story. Despite the initial statements of Xbox 360 exclusivity, a Microsoft Windows version of the game was developed in conjunction with People Can Fly and released a year later, featuring new content including additional campaign levels, a new multiplayer game mode, and Games for Windows Live functionality.

The game focuses on the troops of Delta Squad as they fight a desperate, last ditch attempt to save the remaining human inhabitants of the fictional planet Sera from a relentless and virtually unstoppable subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. The player assumes the role of Marcus Fenix, a former prisoner and war-hardened soldier. The game is based on the use of cover and strategic fire for the player to advance through the scenarios; a second player can play cooperatively through the main campaign to assist. The game also features several online multiplayer game modes for up to eight players.

Nov 4, 2007

Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition

Genre Traditional Styles Board Game Publisher Ubisoft Entertainment
title:Chessmaster: The Art of Learning - Grandmaster Edition

PC game / Eight-time National Chess Champion Josh Waitzkin headlines this chess title from Ubisoft. Multiple tutorials taken from Waitzkin's book, "The Art of Learning," are designed to teach new players the game's fundamentals, while experienced players can view 900 historical chess matches to learn and analyze tactics from the professionals. Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition also includes a library of 600,000 games and support for head-to-head competition via the Internet.
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