The New Guy on the Block

2009-02-05 - 14:44 | Uncategorized | No comments

Hey everybody, my name is Ben Goertz and I am the newest blogger on the Gamers Unite! blog for the Colorado School of Mines’ Oredigger newspaper. Robby and I are roommates at Mines Park and we had the brilliant idea of having myself join the staff and write some of my gaming opinions. As you may have noticed, Robby focuses more towards the “hardcore” gaming audience and beat-’em-up games the majority of students like to play. I, on the other hand, own a Wii and like the more casual games anybody can enjoy. It is because of this that Robby and I believe this new arrangement of casual and hardcore games will allow for more to enjoy the blog and help some of those “non-gamers” see the other side of video games that make the genre a little more family friendly. So sit back, relax, and get ready for some new and classic games that will calm you down after a long day of school and get you ready for the challenges ahead.

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Gears of War 2

2008-11-17 - 14:25 | Uncategorized | No comments

As you probably all know by now, I love the Xbox 360. Hence, it was only a matter of time before I would do a Gears of War 2 review. Remember, I’ve only rated arcade games before. I expect a lot less out of them. Also, this review will have spoilers for the ending.

GoW2 begins after the Lightmass Bomb was dropped in the first game. Of course, the bomb didn’t kill the entire Locust Horde and now they are angrier than ever. Thus, COG only has one option: to go on the offensive. As Marcus Fenix, you get to venture underground again to see what the Locust Stronghold truly looks like.

Fans of the series will notice that there is a much greater emphasis on storyline in this game. Epic Games attempted to answer many questions raised during the first game such as who Dom is looking for or what happens to people who are captured by the Horde. GoW2 keeps the dark, desperate theme that the series thrives on. Best of all, all the characters from the first game have come back for a second helping (even Carmine’s brother).

Epic made very subtle changes to the cover system. One that I’ve been enjoying to its fullest is the faster mantling (when your character reaches the exposed point, he moves faster and you don’t take nearly as much damage). I have to complain about the snapping system, though. They made it a lot easier to move off of cover. Unfortunately, they made it way too easy and I’ll end up exposing myself to a machine gun at the worst possible moment.

There are many more vehicles in the game. You get to fight on a transport, drive a tank, and even pilot Locust vehicles (such as a Reaver). You even get to ride a Brumak for the last level. The game does lag a bit on that level due to the amount of enemies on the screen, but the lag is well worth the awesomeness of the ride.

I haven’t had a chance to see much of the multiplayer yet, but I can say this: the co-op modes are awesome and the competitive modes are a bit sketchy. There is a new co-op mode called the Horde where you and up to four (no, that is not a typo) other friends fight to hold off wave after wave of Locust on any multiplayer map. This mode adds hours and hours of enjoyment to the game play.

From what I have seen of the standard multiplayer, Epic should never have put in proximity mines. There may be a way to diffuse them, but it is definitely way too frustrating for new players. Give me my chainsaw any day! Also, you cannot take guests into random battles, meaning you better know eight other people playing at one time if you want to take a guest online.

Overall, GoW2 is an awesome game. With a few touch-and-go problems, I give this game a 9/10.

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Call of Duty: World At War

2008-11-07 - 14:21 | Uncategorized | No comments

I’ve been watching Gametrailers TV recently, and they did a special on Call of Duty: World at War. Following the success of Call of Duty 4, World at War carries many similar traits (such as the online experience system). For those of you who haven’t played CoD4 before, every kill and accomplishment you complete gives you experience points in the system. Like an RPG, you gain levels based off of your experience points. New levels unlock new challenges, abilities, and weapons. World at War makes a few improvements to the system, but there is one change that really makes me angry.

Looking at the positive new features, World at War will feature another perk slot. Perk slots are modifiers to your character such as stronger bullets or being able to sustain more damage. The new slot will be perks for vehicles since the game will be reintroducing vehicular combat. Another positive change is that the new coop campaign mode allows you to gain experience besides in competitive mode. This is perfect for those who join in the fight later. It also adds replay value to the main game (something that CoD4 lacked even with its innovative story).

What is going to suck is that the game will have a flamethrower. The flamethrower will be an extraordinary weapon in that not only will you deal heavy short range damage, anything on fire will remain on fire for a period of time. The concept is awesome, but the implementation sucks. In order to unlock the weapon, you have to get very close to the end of the experience levels. Thus, only dedicated players will be able to spawn with the weapon. This is a horrible idea. New players are going to be devastated by the weapon and will get discouraged quickly. While it is possible to pick up weapons from killed players, they still have to jump through hoops to get the weapon. If it could be unlocked sooner (for instance, in the middle of the experience levels), then there wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

Maybe the problem will work itself out somehow. I won’t know because I don’t plan on getting the game until at least winter break. For those of you planning on playing sooner, the game will be released next Tuesday. Good luck, and to those of you who are hardcore gamers: happy cooking!

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Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

2008-11-05 - 14:20 | Uncategorized | No comments

I am a huge fan of Xbox Live Arcade. These games are perfect for those days when you don’t have enough time to play a big game but still want to play something. This week, I’m reviewing Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (or squared, if you want to get technical).

GW2 is an addictive overhead shooter based off of classic games, such as asteroids. What makes the game unique is the omni-directional gun on your ship and the numerous unique enemies. The goal of the game is to shoot as many enemies as possible without dying. The enemies are different geometry shapes that exhibit different behaviors. They range from pink squares that barely randomly move around, to the green crossed-squares that chase your ship and avoid your bullets. Some game modes offer a bomb that kills everything on the screen.

GW2 offers significant improvements over its predecessor. The multiplier system has been changed to a collection system where green diamonds (called geoms) are dropped whenever an enemy dies. Your multiplier does not disappear when you die (which happens often in the game). There are six different game modes in GW2, versus two in the first release (ranging from a basic game to completing 30 second scenarios in quick succession). One long awaited addition is the multiplayer mode. Up to four people can play cooperatively or competitively on all of the game modes. On every mode except Pacifism, two players can pilot one ship if they so desire, adding to the variety of the game.

At first glance, GW2 looks like just another trippy Xbox arcade game. However, for those who are up to the challenge, GW2 offers hours and hours of game play. At only 800 Microsoft Points ($10), this game earns my seal of approval and a cool 10/10 (I was tempted to give it a 9 or a 9.5 for the screen sometimes being hard to focus on, but after playing Space Giraffe, it really isn’t a problem).

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When Consoles Fail

2008-11-03 - 14:18 | Uncategorized | No comments

Well, seeing as I can’t seem to get MechAssault 2 out of my classic Xbox, I think this would be a good time to rant about hardware failures in gaming systems. We’ve all had some kind of problem. From a cracked disk to the red ring of death, you know you’re screwed when the hardware fails.

In the old days of non-Internet gaming (a.k.a. anything fifth generation or back), a gamer’s worst fear was a software failure. A designer would fail to catch a glitch in their game and we could not fully enjoy their game. Thanks to the Internet, this problem rarely happens now. Designers release patches to fix anything that is wrong with the game as well as to add new content.

However, there is very little the Internet can do when the hardware fails. I remember the days when blowing into the cartridge would fix everything. Nowadays, if you want to keep your warranty, you can’t do anything other than scream.

I had an interesting problem last year that taught me a lot about gaming systems. There was a gas leak at home, and after an odd chain of events, we had a new ventilation system installed. The intake passed through the basement before reaching the filter, so I got the brunt of any crap that came into the house. I found out after exposing three disk readers to the basement that this very fine rock matter from drilling the ventilation holes was coming into the basement. I lost a CD player and a friend’s GameCube to the incident. However, while the CD player had a fatal error, the GameCube displayed the same error message that happens when you remove a disk during a game. Thus, I could keep cleaning the disk and the eye and keep going. This was nice, but my Xbox 360 seemed to do more. While the GameCube no longer functioned normally anywhere, the Xbox made an almost full recovery without me having to do anything. I don’t know how this worked, but why didn’t the GameCube have a similar feature rather than “the disk is unreadable, try again” crap I was getting?

It is impossible to prevent all hardware failures. However, manufacturers must do more to anticipate these problems. Otherwise, we’ll have another version of the Red Ring of Death epidemic occur.

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Sonic The Hedgehog

2008-10-31 - 14:24 | Uncategorized | No comments

I am a huge fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. The series has made quite a few breakthroughs in gaming; yet, has really gone downhill the last few years. Today, I am going to analyze what went wrong and how they can correct their course.

The first 2D Sonic games were amazing. Before this, nobody even imagined creating a game based off of speed, due to the limitations of computers. Sonic Team found a way, and made an awesome game in the process. They also made a very successful transition into 3D. The Sonic Adventure series on the Dreamcast console is one of my favorite sets of games of all time. The gameplay was pretty smooth and the story was interesting. I even enjoyed playing as other characters. While they weren’t as fast as Sonic, they maintained an element of speed that kept their roles interesting.

Things started getting bad once Sonic Heroes came out. This blunder in the series can be attributed to one element: creativity. Originally, Sonic was marketed as a punk hedgehog who only wanted to go fast. What added to this image was his sense of justice, but even that element was minor in his overall character. These traits reversed in ‘Heroes.’ I don’t know what Sonic Team was thinking, but Sonic lost his attitude and became a cutesy hero. The only difference in the team I can find is that the voice actors all changed. There was some contract with the American version of the Sonic anime that forces all of the old voice actors out of a job. Perhaps this has something to do with the changes.

I can’t review Shadow the Hedgehog because I haven’t played it, but what really made me angry was the new Sonic the Hedgehog. Let this be a perfect example that naming a catastrophe after something spectacular does not change the fact that it is still a catastrophe. In addition to missing on Sonic’s character, the gameplay just sucks. Sonic Team was trying to make the game more realistic for some reason and completely destroyed the flow. Everything just feels awkward and slow. The game was rushed out of production; so many gameplay elements were missing. It’s fun to read through the manual and see what isn’t in the game. How they managed to forget to put shield orbs in the game still eludes me. Also, there are way too many loading screens in this game. There should not be separate loading screens for words to appear over a character, the level itself, and then for that character to “say” something again. We are on the 7th generation of consoles for crying out loud! So, not only is the gameplay slower, but the entire game is slower.

I can’t believe what has happened to Sonic over the years. If Sonic Team would just go back to Sonic Adventure 2 and work from there, everything would be fine. Bring back the old voice actors, darken the stories, make Sonic cool again, and make the mechanics like a video game (the way it should be). Maybe, just maybe, Sonic can make a comeback.

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Castle Crashers

2008-10-29 - 14:23 | Uncategorized | No comments

For this entry, I’m going to review a game that I’ve been playing for awhile: Castle Crashers. The second title from Newgrounds to be on Xbox Live Arcade, Castle Crashers pays homage to the old button mashers of the 80s and the 90s. The premise of the game is to rescue princesses that have been kidnapped during a raid to steal your castle’s magical…rock thing. The fighting system is very simple: each character has a strong and weak attack that can be strung together in combos. Also, every character has magical attacks based on their element.

Playing alone, the game can become very monotonous. While the jokes are very entertaining, the game play breaks down to staying airborne for as long as possible and then using magic while on the ground. However, the characters ‘level up’ much quicker during single player, since there is only one person to eliminate the baddies, so at least the game isn’t extremely difficult alone.

The multiplayer is a completely different story. Working with up to three friends (either in your room, from around the world, or a combination of the two), there are so many strategies that can be used. The bosses are made tougher to scale with the amount of players in the game, so losing a friend during the level has severe consequences at the end. Also, every time your team rescues a princess, the surviving knights duel to the death for her favor. The multiplayer and the insane mode available after beating the game add to the replay value.

Overall, this is a great game. At 1200 Microsoft Points (or $15), it is one of the most expensive games on the arcade. However, it is well worth the cost. I give this game an 8/10.

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Hey There

2008-10-27 - 14:23 | Uncategorized | No comments

Hello, I’m Robby Gill. You may remember me from the Liberal Blog on this site. I have decided to give up writing that in return for one of my passions: video games. I think the Angry Video Game Nerd summed up my childhood well in this Dick Tracy episode: I was the kid who was doing his schoolwork for the sole purpose of gaining the privilege to play video games.

I’m hoping to bring the news about new developments in the gaming world. However, do not expect me to be unbiased: I am an Xbox supporter to the grave. Xbox Live is truly one of the best multiplayer systems out there. I don’t care if it costs money; it is well worth whatever I have to pay. Yes, I enjoy waving the Wii every once in a while, but nothing beats shooting up my friends around the world. I bring news I may not have a WOW account, but when it comes to Xbox, I will be there.

I also want to review new and old video games. There are some games out there that haven’t gotten a good bashing in a long time (cough…Quest 64). I will deliver judgment to those games that make grown men cry! I am not unreasonable; if there is a legitimate reason something is wrong (albeit rare), I will acknowledge it. Otherwise, do not expect pity from me. I’m always open to suggestions as to what should be reviewed. If you have any ideas, please either e-mail me at rgill@mines.edu or send me a message on Xbox Live (my gamertag is SparkPlug3).

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