Sunday, April 29, 2007

Review: Gun (Xbox 360)

Platform: Xbox 360 (also on: Xbox, PS2, GC, and PSP)
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Release: November 2005

Sure, unexceptional visuals and the brief main-story won’t blow you away, but the well-done missions, impressive voice-acting and incredibly enjoyable game play make it worth a weekend play-through, especially for its new bargain price

When Gun was initially released at the Xbox 360 launch, it received both positive and negative reception, both honestly warranted. Praised for its fantastic story and fun game play but put down for being a lazy straight from last generation to 360 port and for being an incredibly brief play-through., Gun is still worthy of your time. However, it never quite reaches the level of potential that could have made it an amazing experience.

Set in the 1880’s Wild West, you play as Colton White, a gunslinger who sticks close to his father, Ned. After building an emotional bond with his pop and hunting with him for years, you soon learn in the story that Ned is not really White’s father. You will continue following the story and meeting many new characters. However, even though the characters found in this game are great, you probably won’t even remember most of their names after finishing this game. Unlike action games like Metal Gear Solid where the characters are memorable, Gun instead focuses on moving along the story instead of fully fleshing out the characters in this game, so don’t expect to really grow attached to any of them here.

And that brings us to Gun’s chief flaw: It speeds along way too quickly. While you’ll enjoy every minute of the story and the game play is supremely enjoyable, had the developers polished and lengthened up the story a bit it would have definitely benefited this title in the long run. You can tell Gun was a wee-bit rushed to make it out for the holiday season, and if you’re an experienced game player you’ll probably only clock in a mere seven hours for the main story mode. Fortunately, there’s an open-world to experience as well, and by completing side missions (such as hunting down wanted fugitives) you’ll upgrade your stats.

Even though Gun is a brief experience, there were many moments where I felt incredibly immersed into the game. The missions are well-planned and the game as a whole is incredibly well-done. You’ll stay glued to your controller from the beginning of the title until the credits roll. Then again, it won’t take that long to do so…

Unfortunately, Gun was obviously not developed with the Xbox 360’s power in mind. The visuals, while not abysmal, are just slightly touched up from the last-gen versions. When running this game on an HD-TV the visual flaws stick out greatly, and it seems like an HD-TV will only give this title a slight “shine” and not a large upgrade like most 360 titles. The achievements are not particularly well-thought out, either, as you’ll earn the vast majority of achievements by simply plodding through the title. However, the sound is fantastic and the voice acting is top-notch.

While Gun is definitely a flawed title (more so on the Xbox 360 due to its hardware strengths and higher expectations over last-gen consoles), the good definitely outweighs the bad. Sure, unexceptional visuals and the brief main-story won’t blow you away, but the well-done missions, impressive voice-acting and incredibly enjoyable game play make it worth a weekend play-through, especially for its new bargain price. After all, it’s not often that the Wild West gets justice in the video game world, and when it’s as spectacular as Gun you oughta really give it a try.

Rating: 8.6 (out of 10).

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sega Serves Up Some Fan Service with Two New Announced Titles

Since my last post was about the upcoming House of the Dead-inspired DS action game ‘Touch the Dead’, I figured that this would be a rather appropriate time to write about another similar title. Titled ‘The Typing of the Dead’, the game saw release on both the ill-fated Dreamcast and on PC (the PC version seems a bit more obscure, however, as I’ve yet to actually see a physical copy of it…). Set in the House of the Dead II universe, instead of gunning down hordes of zombies with a light gun you typed out fraises via a keyboard to kill the undead. Although this highly unique title failed to create much of a buzz when it was originally released seven years ago (time really flies, eh?), it is now considered something of a cult-classic, enough so for Sega to justify another entry in the series.

Yup, that’s right – a sequel to the Sega cult-classic is in the works and planned for a PC-exclusive release. Although this quirky title hasn’t been confirmed for release outside of Japan yet, I’m sure it’ll make its way around the world shortly after it hits the Land of the Rising Sun. And even though the popular House of the Dead Series has seen four entries thus far, the Typing of the Dead 2’s environments, characters and story will be based on the third game originally released in 2002 (maybe signifying a possible third entry to be based on the House of the Dead 4? That seems like a long shot right now though…).

Also confirmed by Sega is a wacky new golf title. Titled Sega Splash! Golf, think Hot Shots Golf but with a zany Sega twist. Let’s just hope the game play can match Sony’s sublime arcade-style golf series…


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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Would you dare Touch the Dead?

Judging by the name of this title, the game play-premise, and the screen shots, you’d think this is another entry in Sega’s once-popular House of the Dead series. However, despite the many similarities between the two titles, Sega has nothing to do this intriguing-looking House of the Dead-esque title.

Exclusive to the Nintendo DS, Touch the Dead will make heavy use the touch screen (well, judging by the title, that should come obvious… unless, of course, you happened to ride the short bus home…). In this bizarre title you play as Rob Steiner, an inmate who is the only human in a jail overflowing with zombies. You have to escape alive by killing every zombie in your path via the DS stylus.

Sure, the premise is absolutely ridiculous, the visuals aren’t exactly mind-blowing, and, in terms of depth, won’t shatter the world, but this arcade-like, light gun-type title should provide excellent st00pid fun when it’s released this June.

In the mean time check out these screen shots:

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Monday, April 09, 2007


Although this only happens once in a blue moon, game publishers will sometimes change the covers of games that were already released. Sometimes it’s necessary – legal rights might prevent a certain athlete from appearing on the cover of a sports title, but in most cases it’s a total mystery. Here are some games that received unique covers after already being released for awhile (note: the original release is on the left, while later releases are on the right):

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox)

NHL 2004 (multi platform - pictured: PC)

Street Fighter Collection (PSX)

Sly Cooper (PS2)

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Nintendo DS)

And there are plenty more that exist, but they are not pictured because I either don't know about them or pictures of them were excruciatingly tough to come by.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Great Games for Great New Prices

It always feels good to pick up a stellar title for a reasonable price, and several decent-to-great titles have recently dropped as much as half price. Titles include the enjoyable Xbox 360 cult hit Viva Piñata (which you can read my review of it here) and the adequate Xbox 360 party game Fuzion Frenzy 2 (which I’ve played a demo of, and, while it’s not an utterly amazing game, it seemed better than the poor reviews would suggest). Both can now be had for a mere $30 each.

Two of the most highly regarded PSP games have now received the ‘Greatest Hit’s’ treatment as well. In addition to the new standard Greatest Hits packaging that everyone seems to hate, the games (Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Daxter) will also see a new popular price - $19.99. Kingdom Hearts II, quite possibly the most popular Playstation 2 game in the last year, is now also available for the bargain-basement price of $20 (too bad the ‘Greatest Hits’ version lacks the shiny cover that original prints had). You might want to hold off purchasing it, however, as Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix will eventually make its way to the U.S. (possibly by the end of the year).

Since these are universal price drops you’ll be able to walk into any major store that sells games and score ‘em for these low prices.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Nintendo DS Broswer Set to Hit U.S. Shores this June

The Nintendo DS web browser, which was released in Japan nearly a year ago, will finally be hitting the U.S. in two short months. Set to retail for a rather costly $34.99, this browser will be supported strictly by Opera and will be light on the extra features. Disappointingly, video won’t be supported (PDF support), and forget listening to any tunes on your DS – this baby won’t support sound either (then again, sound quality on the DS isn’t exactly top-notch).

Nintendo is once again really milking gamers with the release of their mediocre DS web browser. Not only is it lacking several key features, but it’s overpriced and, according to my friend (who imported the Japanese version awhile back), runs rather slow, too. Although it’s a noble idea and an interesting device (that I might pick up once it inevitably hits the bargain bin), the small list of features supported combined with a sluggish speed make something that anyone should be weary of purchasing.


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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Grand Theft Auto: IV Part II: Thoughts From the Mind of Ross

So you’ve probably seen the trailer for Grand Theft Auto: IV by now (if not, don’t fret – I’ve included it in this post). I and millions of other gamers across the land of the internet have been eagerly awaiting this trailer for awhile now. In fact, for me, it was my most anticipated game trailer of all time. So did it live up to the hype?

Well, to be honest, I was a bit let down. Although New York City is a fantastic location and should make a very interesting playground for the next GTA, part of the fun of playing a new Grand Theft Auto game is to experience a new location (that is why the mediocre ‘Stories’ side games didn’t intrigue me at all). Also, the game play found in the 3D Grand Theft Auto games were fine for last generation, but they’re beyond outdated now (True Crime: New York City had a far superior combat system – let’s hope Rockstar “borrows” some key elements from that superb title…). And while the visuals certainly looked snazzy in the trailer, those were just mere cinematic – how will Grand Theft Auto IV look on my HD-TV when I’m actually playing it?

Still, not all was bad. Although I’ve mentioned that the game play was outdated in past titles, you’d have to be very foolish to assume Rockstar would just rest on their laurels and give us the same ol’ antiquated combat and aiming systems from years ago. Also, maybe this whole realistic New York City thing will work out (especially with the impressive power of the next-gen consoles). And, as a Russian-American, it’s nice to see that the main character found in the new Grand Theft Auto is of Russian-descent. I’m betting that Rockstar will prove us skeptics wrong and deliver a top-quality product when Grand Theft Auto: IV hits this fall. Despite my skepticism, I still can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The trailer

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