Articles in the Impressions Category

PAX 2010 Round Up

5 Sep 2010 | Posted by | 8 Comments

pax2010 So, PAX 2010 has come and gone, and I’m glad that I finally took this year to go down and experience it. I saw a lot of games before their release and some cosplay that I could have gone without. Of course, such a big event deserves a bigger write up, so steel yourselves and jump into my PAX 2010 Round-Up Spectacular! In this post I’m going to be covering the games that I saw with the pictures going up in a separate post once I sort out and re-size the photos.

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StarCraft 2 Impressions: It’s Not Just WarCraft in Space!

3 Aug 2010 | Posted by | One Comment

StarCraft 2So, StarCraft 2 is finally out as of last week. You’ve been playing it, I’ve been playing it, and Eddy wishes he’s been playing it. Now that we’ve had a good amount of time to digest Blizzard’s long-in-the-making sci-fi RTS follow up, I thought I’d start a little topic where we could discuss our thoughts on the single and multiplayer portions and maybe start a little Battle.net group so you can wail on me as often as you like.

Starting with the single player, I have to say that the game is very, very solid in its design. Blizzard has been tweaking and polishing the balance on all of their games for a long time, and it really shows in the tightness of the units and how they counter-act against each other. While you do get access to a wider variety of troops in the single player game, they’ve all been assigned a specific role much like their multiplayer counter-parts. There are no “god-units” here, just one that might happen to do better in a given mission. While so far the designs of the missions themselves haven’t really stood out, I’ve been able to do fairly well and I haven’t become frustrated with impossible goals or cheap AI tactics.

Between missions, you can explore Jim Raynor’s battlecruiser The Hyperion. Along the way, you’ll stock the ship with various characters who will aid you in your quest or provide you with missions and upgrades. Exploring your ship is a cross between Mass Effect and an old-school point and click adventure game in that you can talk to or click on anyone and anything, but it’s all done without ever taking direct control of Jim. I liked this part of the game a lot as it added a lot of personality to characters we’re used to seeing from a top-down view. The ability to augment units with Protoss and Zerg tech is also a welcome addition because of how it changes the dynamic of the units. Again, it won’t make any one unit over-powered but the upgrades do give you a nice edge. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m finding the mission design a little samey, but it is improving the farther I get into the game. Once the story starts rolling, you get hooked pretty easily.

Now, I’m going to let you guys go to town on multiplayer, because StarCraft has always had a steep learning curve. I’m not exactly terrible at the game, but a competent player could wipe the floor with me easily. I’ve been doing a few comp stomps with a buddy, and those have been great fun in addition to letting me practice my build orders and hotkey commands. So what do you guys think of StarCraft 2?

GamerSushi Asks: Reviewing Free Games?

26 Jul 2010 | Posted by | 7 Comments

Alien SwarmAs you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.

Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?

Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?

GamerSushi Asks: Engrossing Gaming?

25 Jul 2010 | Posted by | 11 Comments

ArnoldMy goal this weekend was to play lots of Alan Wake. And until today, I had not achieved it. As I am wont to do, I was distracted by any number of things over the weekend. You know how it goes: wives, martial arts, fantasy books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bike rides, saving the world… That kind of stuff tends to get in the way of the most well intentioned gaming.

However, today I finally sat down with Alan Wake and managed to knock out 3 and a half chapters (out of six) in one 4 hour sitting. While I’m not going to rave about the game and say it was the greatest thing anyone has ever played ever, there’s certainly something to be said about how engrossed and entertained I was. The fact that I sat there for 4 hours straight is a pretty big deal.

The more I thought about it, I’ve actually done that a handful of times in the last year, thanks to other great single player stories like Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain and of course Red Dead Redemption. It made me curious to ask you guys what some of the most engrossing single player games you’ve played in recent memory? What really captured your attention and kept you glued to your seat? Go!

Who’s Playing Red Dead Redemption?

7 Jun 2010 | Posted by | 7 Comments

Red Dead RedemptionNormally, I would just ask this as a straight up “What Are You Playing” question, but I decided to do things a little differently this time. You see, lately, nearly 80 percent of my friends list on XBox Live is playing through the newest Rockstar outing, Red Dead Redemption.

If you listened to our awesome podcast, then you would know that a handful of us here at GamerSushi are deeply enthralled in this game’s clutches. I know that for me, personally, the game is head-and-shoulders above its spiritual brethren, the GTA series. It plays more like an Oblivion or Assassin’s Creed 2 in terms of its structure, and allows you to explore a rich open world with gorgeous western vistas and plenty of fun distractions. I’ve written additional thoughts over on my blog, but I wanted to raise this question here as well.

Who’s playing Red Dead Redemption, and what are your thoughts on the game? It’s looking like it could be a front runner for game of the year, and I’m nowhere near being finished. Where do you rank it? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: What Are YOUR E3 2010 Predictions?

3 Jun 2010 | Posted by | 9 Comments

E3 2010E3 2010 is a mere two weeks away, and the excitement for gaming’s annual gala is building to a fevered pitch. If you listened to our first podcast from a few weeks ago, then you’ll know that we’re all pretty excited about this year’s E3. We offered up a few predictions about what the Big Three are going to be bringing to the table, but we’d love to hear what you guys are thinking about.

Predicting reveals or big surprises is always fun, and once E3 rolls around we’ll collect them in one big post and see who was right on the money and who was way, way off (PS4?). Since you already know what we’ve put our money on, we thought that we’d make a post to let you guys sound off on what you think this year’s big news will be at E3. Gears of War, Move, Natal, a new Zelda? Let us know!

Before you get to speculating, we would just like to mention that the weeks leading up to E3 are usually plagued by rumors, half-truths and damn lies, so don’t expect us to post on every single piece of news that comes out. Most of them are unsubstantiated rumors, but if something huge comes up, we’ll probably let you know about it. Alright, with that out of the way, get to your predicting!

Killzone 3 Details are Live and in 3D

28 May 2010 | Posted by | 4 Comments

killzoneI’ll admit that I didn’t play the original Killzone or Killzone 2 (mostly on account of not owning a PlayStation at the time), but the series has always intrigued me. While it may be describe derisively as “World War 2 in space”, that sort of thematic setting is right up my alley. Sony and Guerrilla Studios dropped a bit of a shocker on us last week, revealing the third entry in the series before E3 even started. What’s more, the game is going to be in 3D! A lot of people say that the third time is the charm, but will that ring true for Killzone? Quite a few websites got to go hands-on with the game this week (our invitation got lost in the mail), and Kotaku has a nice write-up detailing all the new changes.

What stood out to me most, besides the 3D, is how crisp this game looks. Perhaps you don’t remember the infamous E3 2005 trailer for Killzone which painted an image in everyone’s mind that the sequel couldn’t quite match. While it seems quaint now, the lasting impressions of the video have given Killzone a lot to live up to, and the third game seems to come the closest to reaching those lofty heights.

Besides looking like the most tasty of eye candies, Killzone 3 is getting some neat gameplay improvements like a revamped melee system and jet packs. Before you go off claiming that Killzone is ripping off Halo: Reach, let me remind you that someone will bring up Tribes, and we’d all like to avoid that scene. The close-combat promises to be more brutal than your average first-person-shooter, which mostly deals with that via a gun stock to head, or maybe a quick stab. While the build being presented was a little early, it did promise face-kicks, back-stabs, and knives through the Helghast’s iconic eye-piece.

For those of you wondering about the 3D, it appears to be well integrated with the head’s up display smoothing nicely, and aiming down the sight offering a nice differentiation of depth. Unfortunately, the preview does mention that the 3D got nauseating at one point. This will differ for everyone, but I got a little sick during Avatar, so I think I might skip on this option.

What do you guys think? How is Killzone 3 looking to you so far? Sure-fire purchase, rental, or are you passing altogether?

Source: Kotaku

GamerSushi Asks: Last Gaming Obsession?

26 May 2010 | Posted by | 8 Comments

Red Dead RedemptionOh video games, how I miss thee. I’m going on about a week now with no video gaming of any kind to speak of. This is partly from just being busy with regular old life things, but also because my wife and I went to Florida over the weekend for a nice break with some old friends. While the trip was awesome, I didn’t get to play any video games, so that was just a bit bogus.

So, now that I’m going through my withdrawals and the hallucinations are starting to settle in, I’ve been reminding myself how awesome it is to “go into the light” so to speak, and play video games until it’s completely unhealthy to do so. That’s right, I’m craving a mega gaming binge. Really, while I’ve had a few binges in recent months, it’s been a long time since I’ve been truly obsessed with a game. I think the last one for me was sadly, Halo Wars. I played the game every single night for months without stopping. The funny thing is, it wasn’t even that good of a game.

So what about you guys? With Red Dead Redemption, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Alan Wake and Super Mario Galaxy 2 dropping on us this week, it seems like the time is ripe for more gaming obsessions to begin anew. What was your last or most recent one? Go!

Also, I leave you all with a gchat conversation Mitch and I had about Red Dead Redemption today. After the jump.

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The Freedom of Movement

3 Apr 2010 | Posted by | 8 Comments

just cause 2Well, we all had a lot of laughs on Thursday, didn’t we? We fooled a few of you, but it was all in good fun. With that out of the way, I had some time yesterday to really sink my teeth into Just Cause 2. While the demo did give me some pause, I was willing to look past my reservations and give the game a go. It turns out that second guessing myself in this instance was a good call, because so far the game has been excellent. While the story is non-existent and the voice acting borders on offensive, the freedom that the game allows you is nothing short of revolutionary.

For those of you who haven’t picked the game up yet, you’re basically dropped into a massive island playground after a couple of requisite missions and you’re left to your own devices. When I say this island is huge, I’m not exaggerating. I stole a helicopter from a mountain top military base and flew it all the way into the capital city; all told, the trip took me twenty minutes. So, with a sandbox on such a massive scale, how does the game allow you to move around so easily?

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GamerSushi Asks: Are Games Pissing You Off?

22 Mar 2010 | Posted by | 9 Comments

conviction
One thing I’ve been noticing a lot recently is that it takes fewer and fewer annoyances to make me give up a game in frustration. In my youth, I used to be able to look past repeated cheap deaths or terrible voice acting, but now that I’m older and my time has become increasingly more valuable I’m throwing aside games that rub me the wrong way very quickly.

A couple examples of this have come from two demos I’ve played recently: Splinter Cell: Conviction and Just Cause 2. While they both have the makings of two very fun titles, there are certain aspects of both that make me doubt whether or not I even want to bother with them. I’m going to sound a little petty here, but just hear me out. For Splinter Cell: Conviction, I was having a decent time tagging guys and doing silent take-downs, even if I did find the actions a little repetitious after a while. Once I got detected by the guards, that’s when I started to get agitated. While they’re searching for you, the various henchmen populating the level will spout phrases like: “Target lost, requesting update!”, or, “Continuing search for the target!” over and over until you put several bullets through their skulls. While this may not be enough to set most people off, having to listen to a dozen automatons bark their dialogue while waving their flashlights around really did the game in for me.

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Gaming Needs More Genre Busters

15 Feb 2010 | Posted by | 14 Comments

Brutal LegendI had a rather unique experience over the last week. Or at least, unique for me. These days, as I’ve lamented quite often and obnoxiously, I’m met with a schedule that doesn’t allow me to play and finish too many video games. However, in this last week, I’ve managed to complete two titles. And not just any two titles, but two fun and individual titles: Brutal Legend and Mass Effect 2.

While for the most part, these just seem like regular old video games on the surface, there’s something special about them. Something that struck me. You see, both of these games are genre busters. Games that come along and buck genre tropes, straddling the line between two or several different styles of play, combining them all in a way that doesn’t play awkwardly. Sure, there are several games that try to shove mechanics of multiple games together (Grand Theft Auto for one), but it’s more like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Very rarely do these games actually succeed at what they set out to do. Which makes it pretty cool when the developers actually pull it off.

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Impressions: Mass Effect 2

27 Jan 2010 | Posted by | 18 Comments

We don’t always write impressions of games that we’re currently playing, but I figured since 15 people on my friends list last night were playing Mass Effect 2, I’d start a little thread about it.

As you all know, I’m a pretty big Bioware fan. I don’t know what it is, but something about their games just grab me in a way other games don’t. With most games, I have to take a break every couple of hours or so. With Mass Effect 2, I played it for 7 hours straight without a break once I got home from work…

So I guess that means I like the game. A lot. I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, story wise. Perhaps that’s because I spent over an hour scanning planets for raw materials and looking for sidequests, maybe. I hesitate to gush over the game too much, because admittedly, for the first hour or two I was terribly confused. Gone were many of the RPG elements I loved from the first game. But with them, the awful item management system, confusing menus and cumbersome weapon/armor load-outs. The game is an extremely simplified version of the first, and my worry when I loaded it up and got into the action was that it was much too simple.

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Cross-Contaminated Media: Star Wars

9 Nov 2009 | Posted by | 5 Comments

Star WarsWelcome back to Cross-Contaminated Media, a series in which I explore successful franchises that have made the transition to video games from other media, and vice versa. I know that in my previous article I promised that I would look at Blizzard’s franchises, but I felt that it would be appropriate, given the recent release of the Ultimate Sith Edition of The Force Unleashed, to take a look at George Lucas’ eminent sci-fi empire.

When the original Star Wars movie was released back in 1977, few predicted that it would become the massive entertainment juggernaut that it is today. For good or ill, George Lucas had the foresight to retain international merchandising rights, and once video games were beginning to enter prominence as an accepted form of entertainment media, LucasArts was founded to capitalize upon this new venture.

LucasArts didn’t find its early success with Star Wars titles, though; in its beginning days it was well known for its clever and inventive adventure games ranging from Maniac Mansion to Monkey Island. The first Star Wars title produced in house was X-Wing in 1993, a fairly deep space-combat simulator made for the DOS operating systems. Though the graphics and game-play appear dated now, the game is still highly regarded in fan circles with the TIE Fighter game being declared the favorite of the series.

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GamerSushi Asks: Beating the Game?

18 Sep 2009 | Posted by | 17 Comments

prototypeOne thing that I’ve gotten really bad at in recent years is beating a game. I used to beat nearly every game I played, no matter its quality or length, including all the crazy JRPGs that I used to power through in college. Part of the reason I don’t seem to do this anymore is that as I get busier, my free time is a lot more valuable, and I don’t want to spend it playing a game that starts to feel like a chore.

That being said, I’ve made it a point to beat a few games that have been sitting on my docket recently, such as finishing Halo Wars on co-op mode, Shadow Complex and the Secret of Monkey Island. I have to say, I was really surprised at how satisfied I felt to beat a few games in a row, and it made me realize just how few games I seem to beat these days. Just this week I gave up on Prototype after getting tired of the repetitive missions.

So it made me wonder, do you guys do this too? What’s the last game that you guys have beaten, and what games have you given up on lately? Go!

GamerSushi Taste Test: Tropico 3 Demo

12 Sep 2009 | Posted by | 6 Comments

tropico3
With the glut of shooters, brawlers, and generally anything being associated with action set for release this holiday season, it’s sometimes easy to let a game that doesn’t focus primarily on racking up a huge body count escape your notice. However, amidst all the big tent-pole titles, there’s usually a few that deserve at least some of your time, if only to cleanse the pallet from all the shootery-goodness.

Enter Tropico 3. Developed by Haemimont Games for the PC and X-Box 360, Tropico 3 is a building and management simulation that puts you in the boots of “El Presidente”, iron-fisted dictator of a small banana republic in the Caribbean. The time period is the 1950s and onward, so you have to play the US and the USSR carefully against each other, managing all your resources wisely if you don’t want to be invaded by one of the super-powers.

In the demo, you’re given a tutorial and two separate campaigns to play around in: one focusing on building a successful banana-fuelled dictatorship, and the other features a scenario where you’re deposed by your twin brother, taking your former government’s treasury and a few loyal supports onto a new, less hospitable island to start anew.

So, how does the demo stack up? Does this tropical city management sim have what it takes to stand against the deluge of holiday titles, or is it a few bananas short of a republic? Read on.

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PAX 2009 Report

10 Sep 2009 | Posted by | 8 Comments

pax-penny-arcade-expo1

My brother, Evan, lives in the Seattle area, so of course he attended PAX. Nick, Eddy and I might have gone, except we were busily working on a Smooth Few Films mystery project. Maybe next year? Anyways, enjoy his extremely detailed report on the con! He only had to fight off a bit of the flu to bring it our way.

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I think I understand what a journalist must feel like at times: There was so much going on that I just want the chance to tell people about it all, because you could go through the entire show for all three days and still not run out of things to see.

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Cross-Contaminated Media: Expanding Universes Outside Games

9 Sep 2009 | Posted by | 13 Comments

halo2

Hello and welcome to Cross-Contaminated Media, a short series on video game franchises that have taken their fictional settings and expanded them into books, comics, and film. As the video game industry becomes even more wide-spread, we’re seeing a lot of companies try their hand at developing their intellectual properties by taking them off of a game disk and put them into forms of media that are less graphically intensive, but require more attention on the story and characters.

Of all the companies currently trying their hand at pursuing different avenues of story-telling, Halo is the one that stands out to most people as the current leader of this pack. When we popped Halo: Combat Evolved into our X-Boxes for the first time, we were vaguely aware that there was some history behind this game, at least according to the small preface in the manual. There was some planet named REACH that had been destroyed, Humanity was fighting a losing battle with a genocidal alien hegemony, and the character you were going to be controlling was the last of his kind, a genetically engineered super soldier.

But why had these events come to pass? The story of Halo was preceded by 25 years of brutal warfare and intrigue, and those of us who were engrossed by the game’s universe could only scratch at the surface of the story. Microsoft, perhaps being aware at the great selling power their new IP possessed, had had the foresight to employ Eric Nylund to write The Fall of Reach, which told of the beginnings of Master Chief’s career as a soldier and of the destruction of REACH. The Fall of Reach went on to be a New York Times Bestseller, and the stage was set for a variety of Halo licensed media to continue the story outside of the games.

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GamerSushi Asks: Where’s the Value?

9 Sep 2009 | Posted by | 10 Comments

batman1I’ve had one hell of a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy, tired, and working like crazy on a number of things. But in the middle of it all, I managed to get in a playthrough of Batman: Arkham Asylum, and boy was it worth it. As a few of you know, especially those that read Mitch’s review, the game is a blast, has an excellent story and some quality stealth gameplay. But something about it bothered me: its length.

While I think the game is maybe one of the best of this year, it is just simply too short for the money that people are expected to pay for it. To me, the game is totally worth $30-$40 simply because of its quality, but $60 is just asking too much for a game that only takes about 8 hours or so to beat. Sure, there is replay value in the challenges and Riddler puzzles, but does anyone else see this as an issue in terms of rising game costs?

To me, this is exactly why people tend to gravitate towards sequels and multiplayer games- the $60 price point is just too much for an impulse buy, or for a game that will only take one weekend to finish. So, what do you guys think about this issue? Go!

Champions Online Beta Impressions

24 Aug 2009 | Posted by | 10 Comments

CObeta
I’m a big fan of MMOs. I played Star Wars Galaxies almost every day until Revenge of the Sith came out, and brought with it the Trials of Obi-Wan Expansion, which totally ruined the game with dumbed down controls and even more powerful bugs than before. After that, I started playing World of Warcraft, making first a Mage, then a Paladin, and finally a Death Knight. With Star Wars: The Old Republic and the newly announced World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, looming in the distance, I took it upon myself to try out one of the smaller MMOs on the market.

Cryptic Studio’s Champions Online, based on the pen-and-paper RPG, launched an open beta last week for those of us who had either pre-ordered the game or have a FilePlanet subscription. Not exactly “open” in every sense of the word, but at least it gives people an opportunity to try out the game before they lock into a monthly subscription. (And only for the low, low price of $49.95!)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cryptic Studios, these are the people behind City of Heroes/Villains and the forthcoming Star Trek Online. They have the pedigree of a successful MMO crafter behind them, but does Champions Online have the hooks necessary to combat Blizzard’s juggernaut?

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GamerSushi Asks: Life in the Sandbox?

18 Aug 2009 | Posted by | 10 Comments

prototypeI’ve been playing through some of Prototype this week, and as with most sandbox games, it seems to do a few things really well, but a bunch of other ones in a largely mediocre way. Traversing the city is perhaps the best part of the game. Skyscraper running is so addicting I almost can’t believe it, so moving back and forth between objectives is actually more fun than even doing them.

But it falls short in other ways. I’m not even very far into the game, and the story is a mess. Likewise, all the objectives are already repetitive, and I’m only a few hours in. On top of that, the draw distances and the graphics are pretty laughable, and the city doesn’t feel like a living, breathing world.

It makes me wonder why sandbox games seem to be so hit-or-miss in all of these other areas. To me, to have a good sandbox game, you need a fun way to travel the world, unique diversions, non-repetitive missions and a fully functioning world to make as your playground. In the last couple of years, I feel like Saint’s Row 2 is the closest I’ve gotten to playing something that meets all of those.

What about you guys? What’s your favorite sandbox game, and what do you think is the most important aspect of the genre? Go!