Articles in the Impressions Category

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!

GamerSushi Asks: Arkham Asylum Thoughts?

13 Aug 2009 | Posted by | 6 Comments

batmanThe typical fall slew of games starts dropping in just a few weeks, with Batman: Arkham Asylum officially ushering in the new onslaught. As I’m sure many of you know, the game’s demo just hit the Web this weekend, allowing thousands (perhaps millions) to play as the Caped Crusader, Splinter Cell or MGS style.

While I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this game, I have to say that playing the demo totally pulled me into its web of immersion. I haven’t been that sucked into a video game in awhile, and I was literally on the edge of my seat as I played through what the demo had to offer of Arkham’s dark and brooding hallway interiors. The opening cutscenes for the game are fantastic, and hearing Mark Hamill reprise his role as the Joker was so much fun.

The game is gorgeous and moody, and really fits Batman’s world. I also have to say that the challenge room where you have to take down the guards was bloody fun, and I can’t wait to try more diverse ones. My only worry right now is that combat felt like it could grow old quick. Right now, it just seems like a mashing of the X button (or square for you PS3 friends).

So what about you guys? What were your thoughts on Arkham Asylum?

Review: 1 vs 100, Season 1

8 Aug 2009 | Posted by | 8 Comments

1 vs. 100 FailHi folks. Just a quick introduction here… I’m Jeff, sometimes known as JJ, sometimes known as Unsquare. I’m the webmaster of the Smooth Few Films and Gamersushi sites. I’ve been getting back into gaming over the past year ever since I purchased myself an XBox 360, and I’ve been feeling the desire to contribute to this site a bit more now that I actually have opinions on games and such. Hopefully you’ll start seeing posts from me every once in a while. Can’t promise they’ll be as hilarious as Anthony’s Phantasy Star adventures, however.

Anyways, enough about me. Recently, Eddy, Nick and I have been playing a lot of 1 vs. 100 on Xbox Live. It’s a surprisingly addictive game, and if you haven’t already checked it out, it’s a great way to spend a few hours with some friends and seems ideally designed for the party system.

None of us have played it enough to make it into the Mob, let alone the hallowed position of The One, but considering the people who do make it to that top position, I have to wonder what exactly we’re doing wrong. In some ways, The One has been the only really disappointing part of the 1 vs. 100 experience.

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Battlefield 1943 is Good Old Fashioned Fun

9 Jul 2009 | Posted by | 16 Comments

bf1943As many of you know, Battlefield 1943 released yesterday over PSN and XBox Live. While the game launched with some issues (namely, server capacities), those issues are being dealt with and the game is slowly but surely becoming playable again.

After some difficulty joining a server, I finally was able to land inside, and I have to say, I had a blast. It really is good to be playing Battlefield again, especially in the WWII setting, with bombers, aircraft carriers, boats and jeeps all at your disposal. The game works with squads and squad spawns, which was such brilliant addition to the series with BF 2. So, if you’ve got either a PS3 or XBox 360, this game is a ton of fun and a definite steal at only $15 for the whole deal.

So, who’s gotten to play this game yet? What did you think?

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing, July 4th Edition

3 Jul 2009 | Posted by | 22 Comments

wolverineSo it’s a great big awesome holiday weekend for us Americanos, and I know that I for one will be hitting up the gaming in a major way. I really don’t get a whole lot of free time these days, and I’m really looking forward to playing my fill of some very good games.

Right now I’m working my way through Fight Night Round 4, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which is surprisingly very fun), Star Ocean and hopefully some Metal Gear Solid via PSN. In particular Wolverine has really shocked me with just how good it is. It’s the exact kind of Wolverine game that should have been made years ago, and proof that licensed games are getting better and better as gaming has been taken more seriously as a medium.

So what about you guys? What are you playing this weekend?