The Video Game Reviews Thread

Revan 11-17-2006 09:19 AM
Medieval II: Total War
By The Creative Assembly and Sega. Pegi rating: 16+

Right here we go. This is an indirect sequel of the original Medieval Total War released in 2002, drawing on from their experience gained from the successful Rome Total War, The Creative Assembly have created another historical strategy gaming masterpiece. On a glance it appears to be a beefed up version of Rome but below the surface there has been many changes made. Firstly, units in battle are no longer clones of each other. Each soldier is composed from a set of different heads, bodies and arms which goes a long way in making battles look more convincing. Secondly the combat has been enhanced. Units no longer use single repeated attack animations, in a fight soldiers have scripted moves that link up. This may sound simple but watching a knight block a sword with their shield before parrying the attack and stabbing the enemy square in the chest is so entertaining that you might actually forget you have a battle to win!

The campaign map is more detailed than ever, with each faction's agents and armies having their own voice responses when you click on them. Depending on your diplomatic status, they will either greet you or tell you where to shove it! e.g. enemy Scottish armies:"I'll rip off yer 'ead 'n spit down yer neck!". Big Grin The AI has improved only slightly since Rome, instead of being at war with everyone after turn number five, in M2TW you become at war with everyone after turn number ten! There are still issues with suicidal cavalry attacks, slow responses and other factions being silly (especially in sieges) but these are relatively small problems compared to the bigger picture.

A few things have been noticed after extended play. Firstly if your faction is anywhere near eastern Europe, the Mongols will come and knock at your castle/city doors. Secondly, other factions still have a baffling habit of attacking you even if you are three times bigger and powerful. This aside the Grand Campaign mode is still very engrossing as you build up an empire and gradually start training troops like Feudal Knights instead of standard weak Levy Spearmen. Plus the nature of the enemy can make for tense, unexpected battles, which can be both challenging and frustrating.

Graphics
9/10- More detailed than ever before but needs a true monster of a PC to run on high settings with (in theory) up to 10000 men on screen. My computer can run things on large scale with 3000 or so men with some slowdown.
Sound
10/10- Great epic music and voice acting. The best was a pre battle speech by my English general:
quote:
"Now men, after we are victorious, we shall drown ourselves in ale!...Oh and if you happen to find a suitable maiden along the way who needs rescuing, send her to my tent! For war gives me two things: a raging thirst...and the horn!" *Army cheers*

Gameplay
9/10- Fairly easy to learn, hard to master. It will provide many many months of challenges. Oozes with strategy.
Originality
7.5/10- More features than Rome but not as groundbreaking as its earlier incarnation. Still it is the best medieval themed game yet and a good history lesson too!

To sum up it is a worthy game, that needs a decent PC to be most enjoyable. Not without faults but lives up to the Total War series's reputation. You have not lived until you have spammed an enemy army with a 36 barrel monster ribault cannon! Currently I'm trying to conquer the world before tea time as the good 'ol English with plenty of longbows! Cool
Edit: Though recently this has become kind of hard. Bloody Mongols and Timmurids... Mad

PS: If anyone else has this, I'd love to play it online!
Mike 02-25-2007 02:35 PM
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sega, for Nintendo Wii.
Rating: E.

The best parts of the recent 3D Sonic games are always the Sonic/Shadow levels where you just run. This game takes that and adds the Wii remote. Sonic runs constantly, and you move the Wiimote left and right like a steering wheel to control him.

Story: 6/10
Sonic is sucked by a genie into the pages of Arabian Nights, where the evil genie Erazor Djinn is destroying the book. It's kind of weird, and doesn't really flow very well, but it's still interesting.

Graphics: 9/10.
Looks REALLY good, up there with Twilight Princess in the graphics department, especially with component video cables. Everything is well-detailed, although the enemies are really repetitive.

Sound: 7/10.
The sound effects are the same as the past few Sonic games, so they're pretty good. The music is similar to the Sonic Adventure games, meaning it's OK, but makes me long for the 16-bit music. Voice acting is, like the Sonic Adventure games, embarassingly overacted in places.

Gameplay: 8/10.
Guiding Sonic through the stages is huge fun, especially the longer ones where he can really build up some speed. Some stages, though, are HARD. The game also doesn't give you a whole lot of clues on what the hell to do in certain places. Also, the controls are sometimes wonky, such as when you have to walk backwards, and certain jumping segments. You will die. A lot. But there are no game over screens, if you die you just go back a little bit or start the level over.

You can also level Sonic up, and gain new abilities. Aside from the time stop and ludicrous speed abilities, they don't seem to make much of a difference to gameplay.

The multiplayer party games are pretty good, some of them are really tricky and it's difficult to get the Wiimote to translate your intentions to the screen.

Originality: 9/10.
Great idea to hold the Wiimote like an old NES controller and move it left and right. The story, if thin, is original. I don't think I've seen many games outside of Prince of Persia use Arabian Nights. The party games are a nice little bonus, too, multiplayer is always nice to have. All in all, a good, fun game, with a few frustratingly difficult parts.
Asirt 03-30-2007 05:08 PM
Cooking Mama: Cook Off
Platform: Wii
Rating: Everyone
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Developer: Taito
Available at: Major Retailers



So one day I was going to the store to check out what new Wii game was in store for me. I was looking for Wii Play so that I can get that extra Wii Remote for my family members to play Wii Sports. However, one title got me interested. I looked at the front and back covers, and thought "What the heck is this?! A cooking game for Wii? Count me out."

I seem to remember that a DS cooking game came out a while ago, too. It was a smash hit, to say the least. After minutes of thinking, I decided, "Why not? Maybe it'll be fun to cook with someone."

And so, Cooking Mama was added to my game collection.

Story:

You are an amateur cook who wants to cook like the famous Cooking Mama. She helps you make over 55 different dishes from all over the world. Your goal is to become "better than Mama". Not much of a story, but then again, this game isn't really an epic adventure or anything like that.

Graphics:

The graphics themselves are good. Nothing breathtaking, but it's good enough that you won't really care. The food and ingredients have the most attention to detail. The kitchen is very cute looking as are the characters in the game.

Gameplay:

This game takes advantage of the Wii Remote's movements. You first start with five dishes from different places around the world. You will then have to complete a number of steps in order to make the prefect dish. A lot of the movements involve moving the remote a certain way. These vary from cutting vegetables to peeling off the skin of carrots and potatoes.

There are times where I had trouble trying to get some of the movements to work. One example was when I tried to stir the pasta on the pot. It does take some practice and skill to master the game, but it's not too difficult. All in all, this game has great gameplay.

Sound:

The music is upbeat and fun, but nothing worth writing home about. The sounds match the action well for the most part. Some people may also enjoy Mama's Japanese accent when she talks. It's quite cute.

Replay Value:

What makes the game more fun is the 2-player cook off. Here you cook with a friend to see who makes the better dish. It is quite entertaining to see two people try to make some tacos or sushi. Once you unlock all 55 recipes, though, there isn't really a lot of things left to do in Cooking Mama. The replay value comes from the multiplayer aspect of the game.

Originality:

Tell me, when was the last time a cooking game got this popular?

Overall Review:

Cooking Mama: Cook Off does bring in some fun for the Wii console. It's even better when you have a friend to cook with or against you. This game isn't for everyone, due to its nature, but it's worth a rental at the very least. Who knows, maybe you'll be "better than Mama".

Overall Rating: 7.5/10
The Question 05-20-2007 03:06 PM
Steambot Chronicles
Playstation 2
12+

Gameplay: 8/10
Steambot Chronicles mostly plays in a "mecha" called a trotmobile, it's fully customizeable and can be attached with many different weapons, extensions, headlights etc. (see the book called "pimp my trot") The controls for the trotmobile are quite hard at first but once you get used to it, it gets alot easier. Another aspect is playing instruments, you start off with a harmonica and you get many other intsruments, each with a unique way of the playing them. Some are easier than others, which can make it slightly imbalanced when you want to busk or play in one of the bands in the game.

The game not violent, no blood or anything. You fight using trotmobiles and it's all non lethal (as far as I've encountered) so if your the kinda guy(or lass) that likes snap small animals in half and make people's heads explode in a shower of blood, then you may not like this it all. But it's like harvest moon (in fact you can ship goods like milk or silk to different shops for profit) in that you can still enjoy a game without being ultra violent. The game is sandbox style so you're not really forced into anything and there are many different quests (archeology, farmer, bandit, band member etc.).

The game is quite slow, which seems to prove it's self proclaimed title of a "relaxing sandbox adventure".


Story: 8/10
The game has been described by some as "Miyazaki's sandbox". There are several stories in the game, from curing the main character (Vanilla) of his amnesia to helping a gang of bandits get to the moon, in fact none of them feel very unoriginal, no "LET'S SAVE TEH WORLD FROM DARK ELVES!" they actually feel quite normal, it's kinda like living a second life.

All of them are quite well told albeit a little light way, no Max Payne style noir story lines and none of them feel forced (you can refuse most quests). The story is shaped by your actions by being a nice or nasty person as well as other things. Your reputation changes and gives you a title, for example if you don't wear shoes ( Confused ) and play the smooth operator with the ladies, you'll be called Barefoot Cassanova etc. this doesn't affect gameplay it's just a frill really.

Although it seems to be quite a kiddy game, there are some parts that older people might find slightly (very slightly) ammusing, such as reference to "pink" movies and a parody of the infamous "hot coffee" from GTA: San Andreas refferred to by some as "Hot Cocoa".

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics are cel-shaded giving them an animeish feel to them, most things look good in this game, with minimum of lag and clunkiness.

Voice Overs: 6/10
Ah. Many games have failed horribly in this aspect, this one is a mixed bag, some are unbeliveably dry and dreary, some sound quite normal, other a quite eccentric. Overall, it's quite mediocre.

Music: 7/10
The ambient music is quite relaxing, nothing too boisterous or exciting. The music of the bands in the game is alright, slightly engrish (but it's hard to tell with pop songs anyway) but alright in general, nothing too cringe worthy or ear murdering.

Difficulty: 5/10
Like a challenge? This game doesn't give alot of that, it's supposed to be more relaxing than a big brawl. Some parts are hard (especially if you suck at controlling a trotmobile) but most of the game is a breeze.

Overall: 9/10
I reccommend this game to most people, it's quite fun but a little ditzy and cute. It's nice to play when you don't want to have an adrenaline rush or suddenly feel remorse for mowing down those innocents in GTA but it's fun whenever. Buy this game, you probbably won't regret it.