Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Beat Hazard Review

The best way to describe Beat Hazard is that it would be the result of Audiosurf and Geometry Wars having a baby and then that baby taking LSD. It combines the gameplay-based-around-your-own-music of Audiosurf and the multi-directional shooter and crazy visuals of Geometry Wars. These screenshots honestly don't do the game justice.
In Beat Hazard, your music is the weapon. As your music gets louder, so do your bullets. Enemy waves are supposedly linked to the music as well, but you can't really notice it. You can get power-ups that increase both the volume of the music and the power of your weapon and when both are at maximum you become a "Beat Hazard", shooting an extra powerful beam of bullets out of your ship. You also have a score multiplier that increases from +1 power-ups or completing "Daredevil" (don't shoot for 5 seconds) or Survivor (stay alive for 60 seconds) as many times as you want.
As you gain points from playing Beat Hazard, you level up. As you level up you get extras, such as starting with a higher multiplier or power-ups. You also unlock higher difficulty modes, which increase the amount of enemies, as well as make the visuals even more insane and eye-straining. This keeps you coming back to play songs you've already played before, because with all these unlockable extras it's much easier to beat the high-score you made when you were Rank 2 when you've leveled up to Rank 10. Reaching the highest rank even makes you start the song with Beat Hazard already acquired.
Beat Hazard also includes a few modes. The normal mode, where you play through a song to get the highest score possible, survival mode, where you play as far as you can through a playlist of songs until you die, two player mode, which is the same as normal mode, but with two-players (one player must use an Xbox 360 gamepad on the PC version), and Chill-Out Mode, where you let the game play itself, basically making the game serve as an amazing visualizer.
Beat Hazard is great for what it is, a $10 indie game for short bursts of adrenaline-filled fun. Instead of just relaxing and listening to your music like normal, you can fire up Beat Hazard and PLAY your music, or just leave it on Chill-Out Mode for the crazy visual effects. If you can, wait for it to go back on sale for $5.

Final Verdict:
The good:
- Choose your own music to play
- Fun Geometry Wars-inspired gameplay
- Intense visuals
- Rank system keeps you coming back for more
The bad:
- Gets repetitive
- Missing some features that would make it amazing (no online play)

Beat Hazard is available on Xbox Live Arcade or Steam for 400 Microsoft points or $10 respectively.

I left the score out of this review, as it feels arbitrary to me. If you REALLY need a score to go off, I'd say it would be an 8 or an 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

"Most Anticipated Games of 2011" Poll Results

My "Most anticipated games of 2011" poll is finished, and I'm not sure if I'll have another since it's so easy to vote multiple times. Anyway, these are the results:

Most Anticipated Game:
Diablo III (13 votes)
The Rest (In Order):
Portal 2 (10 votes)

Battlefield 3 (9 votes)

Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (8 votes)

Mass Effect 3 (6 votes)

Batman: Arkham City (5 votes)

Bioshock: Infinite (3 votes)

Brink (2 votes)

Crysis 2 (2 votes)

L.A. Noire (2 votes)

Metal Gear Solid: Rising (1 vote)

Prototype 2 (1 vote)

RAGE (0 votes)

Red Orchestra 2 (0 votes)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Favourite Recent Games (Post Yours in the Comments!)

So, while I hunt through my Steam account for games that will actually run on this machine (which barely runs Minecraft, mind you) until I get my new computer, I thought I'd make a new post talking about my favourite games as well as asking YOU guys what yours are. My favourite games (from the last decade or so) are as follows:

This game may have essentially just been Grand Theft Auto set in the Wild West, but that is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, I think I prefer this game to GTA IV and I hope GTA V lives up to the awesome standard that this game has set for future Rockstar games. Everything about this game was great, the story, the gameplay, the incredible music and the spectacular graphics. That's why Red Dead Redemption is one of my all-time favourite games.

Possibly my favourite game of all time, Bioshock has it all. A fantastic engrossing setting, an engaging story with a few stunning twists along the way, beautiful graphics, smooth gunplay, combined with the amazing plasmid system. I really loved this game when it came out, and rushed to get Bioshock 2 when it was released. Unfortunately, the sequel didn't quite live up to Bioshock 1, but Bioshock: Infinite is being made by the original team and looks amazing from the trailers released so far.

Yes, I know this is sort of cheating. The Orange Box may not be a game, but it contains 5 of the greatest games ever in one box for the price of one game. I'm sure everybody reading (hopefully) knows and loves the Half-Life series already, and Team Fortress 2 and Portal really shined in this package as well. Portal was an amazing puzzle game, although it wasn't very long, which was good since it made it a bite-sized game that even the most casual gamer could enjoy. Team Fortress 2 is still getting regular updates after all this time, but I fear that some of them (hats and the Mann Co store) and starting to make the game worse and worse as time goes on. Still, at the time of release, this was the biggest and best deal of all time.

Finally, a comic book game done right. This game was truly surprising, seeing that the only game developer Rocksteady Studios had made was an unknown PS2 game 4 years before Arkham Asylum was released. The game is just astounding, especially the graphics and the free-flow combat system. It even kept me interested enough to collect all the hidden Riddler easter eggs, although I never did beat all the Combat challenge maps. Batman: Arkham City is one of my most highly anticipated games of 2011.

New Vegas improved on it's predecessor, Fallout 3, in almost every way possible. Almost all of my nuances with Fallout 3 were fixed, and a lot of things from the original Fallout games were brought back (a lot of the people who worked on this game also worked on Fallout 1 and 2). My one problem with the game was the countless bugs. Thankfully, I was playing the PC version, so most were easily fixed. I believe this game took me around 40 hours to complete, which is amazing seeing that you could probably rush through in about 10-15. Side missions pretty much didn't interest me at all in Fallout 3, but in New Vegas I was stuck in areas for hours just trying to finish all the side missions before I moved on to the next big and exciting place. Possibly my favourite WRPG, I hope Fallout 4 is being made by Obsidian as well.

So, that's just a few of my favourite games (I'm sure I forgot some), now my question is, what are YOUR favourite games? Post in the comments section with a few of your all-time favourite games and WHY you love them.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Censorship in Australia

As you may or may not know, I live in Australia. What you probably do know is that our government doesn't exactly love violent video games. As is constantly ridiculed by the rest of the world, quite a few games have either been banned or censored here in the last decade or two. In wake of the recent outrage over the banning of the new Mortal Kombat in Australia, I've decided to talk about our video game laws and why we don't have an R18+ rating. These are the ratings used for television shows and movies here in Australia:

Suitable for all audiences.

Parental guidance recommended for young audiences.

Recommended for mature audiences.

Restricted to ages 15 and over.

Restricted to ages 18 and over.

The problem is that we don't actually HAVE an R18+ rating for video games, because back when squishing goombas was as violent as it got, who would've thought we'd need one? If a video game is violent enough to be rated R18, it is banned in Australia. Of course, this issue has garnered a lot of debate over the years, but nothing has been done about it yet.
Unfortunately, the Attorney-General for every state has to vote yes on issues like these, and the Attorney-General for NSW, Michael Atkinson, decided to vote no, thereby denying us the chance to finally grow up. His reason was basically "violent video games are bad for children". Remind you of anyone? What he and is clueless colleagues don't seem to realize is that a lot of games that SHOULD be rated R18 are being rated MA15 and are therefore accessible to children under the age of 18. An adult is way more likely to buy a child Grand Theft Auto IV if they see it has an MA15 classification rather than a R18 classification (as it does in every other country). Most adults here either decide to import their games from other countries or simply pirate them from the internet.
Perhaps the worst part is the Classification Board's terrible inconsistencies in how they rate games. Gears of War 2, a game in which you can chainsaw people in half, and in one part of the game swim through a pool of blood, was given an MA15+ rating, whereas Left 4 Dead 2 was banned (and later censored) for far less. GTA IV was originally supposed to be censored, but when Rockstar sent the Classification Board an uncensored version of the PC version it was given the all clear. Taking this as a sign that the original game was fine after all, they then released a patch allowing both console versions to be completely uncensored. Aliens vs Predators was another game that faced being banned, until Sega simply appealed the ban, causing the board to change their minds for apparently no reason at all.
EB Games even started a nation-wide petition for the approval of an R18+ rating, called "Grow Up Australia", which gained over 16,000 petitions, contributing to the 58,487 total petitions to the government. Even with all that support it's still not decided whether we WILL get an R18+ rating for video games or not. The deadline has been set for July this year and the politician who replaced Michael Atkinson seems to support the vote. Thankfully, our Home Affairs minister, Brendan O'Connor, is also pro-R18 rating and had this to say about the issue: “We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we’re the only country that doesn’t have an R18 classification level for video games." Unfortunately, even if the Attorney-General's DO unanimously decide to support the new rating, it will be too late for games like Left 4 Dead 2, Manhunt and Mortal Kombat.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Games I've been playing lately

Unfortunately, my computer broke a while ago, and I haven't really been playing my Xbox 360 all that much, so the amount of time I've spent gaming recently has been quite small. Most of my gaming time has been spent playing either Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999), The World Ends With You or Pokemon Black on my DS.

I already reviewed Pokemon Black (see below this post), and the thought of trying to review Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors hurts my brain. It's a mix of a choose-your-own-adventure visual novel plus an escape-the-room game for the DS, with an amazing story which has 7 mindfuck endings. All I can say is try it out. It may sound strange, but you should follow a walkthrough, because getting the right order of endings is crucial to your understanding of the overall story (you'll understand if you play it). I'm nowhere near finished The World Ends With You, plus it is 4 years old, so I probably won't be posting any reviews for a few weeks until I get my new computer or some new 360 games.

Until then, I'll probably be posting about gaming news and maybe some opinion-piece sort of articles. Topics may include Australia's retarded censorship laws and Nintendo America's choice to not release the Mother/Earthbound series in English. Feel free to support me by commenting and following!

Also, I added a poll on the side of the page, just to see what everyone's most anticipated games are this year. There was too many for me to choose from, so I ended up making it multi-choice. Vote away!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Pokemon: Black & White Review

Today, for my first real blog post, I'm going to be doing a mini-review on the new Pokemon games, Black and White. I've been playing Pokemon Black recently on my DS, and I thought this was probably the best place for me to share my opinion.

Black and White are the 5th generation of the Pokemon series, and they bring quite a few new features. Some are great, like the new seasons system, the semi-3D visuals, the animations in battle, the new multiplayer options and of course, the 155 completely new Pokemon to catch. Other small features like poison not affecting Pokemon out of battle and the fact that TM's now have unlimited uses seem small, but they really are great new additions. On the other hand, some features like Triple Battles, Rotational Battles, Pokemon Musicals really just didn't interest me at all.

To be honest, I only just beat the 8th gym leader, and my play time is starting to wane. Why? Because even with all the new features, it's still the same Pokemon game we've played many times before. It really just hasn't changed enough, which isn't to say it's a bad game, just that I'm nowhere near as addicted as I was to the originals.

Two bad things that stuck out to me were the annoying trainer AI and the curiously high encounter rate. I can't stress enough how frustrating it is when a trainer keeps making their Pokemon use a healing move over and over, meaning neither of you are getting anywhere. The AI trainers in this game seem more focused on drawing the battle out as long as possible instead of trying to actually win. The encounter rate also seems higher than ever in this generation, a lot of times I'll finish a battle then take a step forward and be attacked by another Pokemon. It makes it very necessary to carry around a large pile of Max Repels.

Thankfully, and surprisingly, the new set of Pokemon are great, especially bro-tier Pokemon like Herdier and Scrafty: 

Herdier's moustache turns into an untamed beast after evolving, but he's still a massive bro:
Conclusion: This game is fun. It's the same Pokemon that everyone knows and loves. Unfortunately, that's also a bad thing. Even though I say now that it's getting boring, I know that I'll be back for more in a day or two.

Wasn't planning on giving a score, but I guess I better:
The good:
- Battle system is as good as ever
- Great new cast of Pokemon
- Great new visual style
- Interesting story
The bad:
- Not different enough from the last games
- Annoying trainer AI
- Unnecessarily high encounter rate

Welcome to my blog!

So this is going to be the place where I just talk about video games out of sheer boredom. Probably just games I'm playing at the moment, maybe some reviews or I might talk about recent video game news. So, if you're into that sort of thing, help me out by following me and commenting on my posts!