December 31, 2008

Review of Call of Duty World at War

kube00 Says: The next stop in the Call of Duty franchise is none other than Call of Duty World at War, which takes gamers back to World War II. Treyarch, the developer of Call of Duty 3, takes another shot at the franchise. My first impression of the game reminded me of Call of Duty 4, except I time traveled back to the 1940’s. Feeling and playing like Call of Duty 4 is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s nothing new and neither is World War II.
The game starts off with the Americans in the Pacific. This is a good thing as there has not been a recent attempt at a Pacific World War II game. This part of the game has a lot more variety than expected. Gamers have the opportunity to go for a plane ride and rescue downed pilots while blasting through the flames and smoke to take down Japanese Zeros. Most of the campaign here is based around island hopping and taking control of allied outposts.

The second part of the game features the Eastern European front, or as I like to call it, the Soviets- Outmanned-and-Outgunned- vs-better-equipped-Nazis-with-Tanks. Developer Treyarch does a good job of capturing the Soviet feel for this part of the game. Everything is run-and-gun against overwhelming odds set in crumbling Soviet Factories and Cities. To me, this felt like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty 2, etc.; all the WWII games have done this before and for the most part there is nothing new. There are a few spots where gamers enjoy bits of sniper action similar to the movie Enemy at the Gates. But the sniping parts are nothing like Call of Duty 4’s sneaking, sniping, and escaping mission. In addition, players have the opportunity to take a tank with a front mounted flame thrower for a joyride.

Graphically, Europe and the Pacific look really good, as Treyarch used the same engine as COD4. Although the color pallet is limited, there are lots of greens and browns; the texture detail of objects and buildings are well done. The well-detailed characters, settings and the lighting help to create a tense, warlike mood. The cut screens added to the game’s story, part newsreel, part mission briefing, and part history lesson: it all flowed together nicely. Besides the great music score, the noises of battle were overwhelming at sometimes, the pounding of artillery, the screaming men crying out for help, all of these sounds make COD WaW a more realistic war.

There are a few new editions to this World War II theme. The Soviets have Molotov cocktails, which is a feature I felt was hit and miss. But the second part of the game has a few new items that I could not get enough of. There are bayonets. Stabbing the charging enemy in the chest and watching them gurgle and gasp never gets old. But what would be a WWII game without the flamethrower? Burning the brush, trees, and the enemies is a great way to pass the time and to keep gamers interested. It has to be the most useful and underused weapon in the game.

The multiplayer is fun and feels similar, if the not the same, as COD4. As before, multiplayer is all about getting experience, utilizing different weapons and classes for different maps, unlocking perks, and working as a team. Furthermore, there is split screen, and LAN co-op, both featuring competitive campaign play. Little features like these help to give COD WaW longevity. When the game is finished, gamers unlock Nazi Zombies, a fast paced survival game, which can be played Co-op as well.

There were a few things I did not like. Europe WWII theme is overused. It has been used so many times in FPS games, how about something new and original? Your teammates AI seem a little dull at times, while the enemy AI seems a little too smart once in a while. The single player campaign on easy can be completed in less than 6 hours. But overall, Activision and Treyarch did a good job, and most reviews seem to like the game. So if you liked COD4, I'm sure you'll like this game, and with the multiplayer the game longevity is decent. I'll give it an 9.5 outta 10. It is 1000 Goozex points right now for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, less for the PC and Wii versions. The bad news is that there are very few gamers who are letting their copies go.

Sign up for Goozex now and receive 100 points and a trade credit.


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The Most Disappointing Games of 2008

Jimmy James 70 Says: MrWeymes told me he was going to write an article on the most disappointing game of the year. I immediately thought of NHL—up and down the ice, back and forth—what the heck is that? This game gets glowing reviews left and right and all you do is skate around the ice flicking a puck around. Worst sports game Eva. And then there was GRiD. Overall, it’s a great game, but what’s with racing Le Mans at the end of every season? Talk about a chore. At least you can skip it.

Then I started thinking about the most unexpectedly good game of the year. Viking: Battle for Asgard was panned by the critics and loved by me. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the critics and I got a game that I wanted to play. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s a good game. The critics also panned Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, but after playing the first mission, I really liked it. Yes, it has frustrating game play mechanics, but as a causal SW fan, I'm liking it.

And now, here’s MrWeymes…

MrWeymes Says: For every anticipated game that lives up to the hype, there is one that disappoints. The promises a company makes to build hype around their game often leaves gamers saddened when they realize they just paid full price for a game that fulfills only some of the promises. On Christmas day, several gamers opened games that they wouldn't wish on anybody. Of course, these people had to put on their fake smiles, and attempt to play through a few minutes of the mentioned game. As with any year, 2008 had a solid amount of disappointing games. The disappointment of the year award isn't the worst game of the year. It's the game that disappointed anticipatory gamers the most.

While it's true that 2008 had it's fair share of disappointing games such as Haze, and Too Human, the biggest disappointment of the year is a game that loyal Sonic the Hedgehog fans were dreaming about ever since they saw the first video of Sonic in a semi-2D plane. That game is the Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of Sonic Unleashed. Apparently, Sonic Unleashed for the Playstation 2, and Wii are decent, but for those that bought Sonic Unleashed for the PS3, and 360, their world is no doubt upside down with despair, hate and rage. Sonic Unleashed is one of the most frustrating Sonic games released in recent years. At least with Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, there were no shining moments that made you think it was a good game. However, in Sonic Unleashed, there is a ton of fun to be had, especially for a veteran Sonic fan. The majorities of Sonic’s daytime levels are very fun, and well put together. This would be great if the rest of the game wasn't a huge, uninspired chore to play. As anyone reading this article probably knows, Sonic turns into a werewolf at night, which is dubbed the "werehog." From terrible concept to terrible execution, the werehog portions of this game will haunt you for many nights. You will be forced to battle the same 5-6 enemies from start to finish throughout the entirety of the werehog levels, and on top of that you will be subjected to some of the worst, most archaic platforming to grace your television in years. It's literally shocking that the werehog portion of this game wasn't scrapped to make room for a few more day time Sonic levels. The enemies you encounter as the werehog look like rejects from a Kingdom Hearts sequel, and the ones that don't are just as uninspired. The bottom line is that if you're having fun playing as the werehog, you either haven't played a lot of games in your life, or you're such a blind Sonic fan that you refuse to acknowledge the horror that is unfolding right in front of your eyes. This is one of the few cases where less content would have made for a better game. If you were to go through the hub worlds that piece each level together, and play all of the daytime levels, you would probably have a 4-6 hour game. That would be absolutely fine, because there is a huge amount of replayability in the daytime levels. This game would have scored much better among critics if it were to just cut out one dastardly character; the werehog. That's not to say that the daytime levels are perfect, but they show that SEGA is getting back on track with the Sonic series. Honestly, Sonic doesn't even need to have 3D portions to his daytime levels.

Another problem with Sonic Unleashed is the lack of familiar characters involved with the story. Throughout your adventure with Sonic, you will come across Dr. Eggman, Tails, and Amy. That's it. Where is Knuckles, Rouge the Bat, Blaze the Cat, Cream the Rabbit, Shadow, or Silver? None of these characters had to be playable, but it would be nice to see them in cutscenes, or at least hanging around in the many towns.

It's when the camera pans to show a sidescrolling perspective that the game truly shines. SEGA needs to listen to critics, as well as Sonic fans, and release a game that only has levels similar to the daytime levels in Sonic Unleashed. Fans do not need, or want to find emeralds with Knuckles, perform telekinesis with Silver, nor do they need to trudge through the abomination that is the werehog levels of Sonic Unleashed.

To summarize, Sonic Unleashed is another failed attempt to revive the Sonic the Hedgehog series back to it's former glory. The daytime levels are nostalgic, and fun, but the rest of the game makes a grown man weep. Perhaps SEGA will incorporate the good from this game, and release a better Sonic the Hedgehog game in a couple of years. In the meantime, Sonic fans are treated to The Goozex Report's Disappointment of the Year.


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GOTY Reader Poll Results

An amazing 56 people, out of the 1032 people who visited in the past week, actually voted in the Game of the Year Poll. Maybe the lack of voting was due to the fact that you're favorite game wasn't listed? Who knows? Who cares. Anyway, Metal Gear Solid 4 solidly won, followed by a tie for second place with Left 4 Dead and a game that was released in 2007, which beat out Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Sad, sad, sad.

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December 23, 2008

The Year in Review and Game(s) of the Year

The Goozex Report launched in late August of this year. The blog started with me writing posts about not wanting to pay for video games to an audience of maybe a dozen readers (if I was lucky). After some time, The Goozex Report caught the eye of Goozex, Inc., and is now listed on their Supporters page. A Goozex member even contributed a logo and some artwork. As time went on, The Goozex Report started attracting fellow gamer-writers. We now have six contributors who volunteer their time writing brilliant articles. We’ve also made some great new friends with game sites of their own and we owe a lot of our success to them!

Since August, The Goozex Report was featured on the front page of N4G dozens of times, other blogs and forums have posted links to our articles, and we can proudly say we’ve had over 40,000 visitors in four months time from 127 different countries. We realize that some game sites get that kind of traffic in just a few hours, but we’re still new and still growing. We just might continue on through 2009. After all, where else are you going to learn when Gears of War 2 starts dropping in value?

As for gaming in 2008, it wasn’t a bright year for unique and new titles. Using Metacritic as a scale, of the top 10 highest rated games, only two Xbox 360 titles were not sequels. And only three of the top 10 PS3 games were not sequels. Kudos to Sony for LittleBigPlanet: a unique and original game that received positive reviews. On the other hand, while Left 4 Dead and Dead Space are receiving favorable reactions, they do not exactly represent unique genres or ideas; but at least the titles are not followed by a 2, a 3, or in the case of Grand Theft Auto, a 4.

Has the video game industry run out of ideas? Or are they following Hollywood’s lead and simply pumping cash cows? In any case, it does not speak highly for today’s creative talent. 2008 desperately missed 2007’s BioShock (yes, I realize that BioShock released on the PS3 in 2008). I’m really hoping that for 2009, the big publishers reach out to some new, independent developers who are creating unique, and dare I say—intelligent—games of the future.

The emphasis developers have placed on creating a great story has killed the focus on improving game mechanics, which seriously hampered the playability of such games as Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. Can anyone out there please tell me what the heck the storyline in the cutscenes
had to do with the actual game play? I shook my head in disbelief at the end of that game. To regain some credibility, game developers really need to prioritize game mechanics first, story second, and graphics third.

In choosing a Game of the Year, several factors must be considered: game mechanics, graphics, sound, characters, single player campaigns, multiplayer online game play, and yes, story. What games of 2008 fully delivered? What fell flat?

When I was first asked what my GOTY pick was, my gut reaction was to say, “Call of Duty 4.” (Before you start screaming, I fully realize the game released in 2007.) That’s the game I played and had the most fun with for the majority of the year. It certainly trumped Halo 3 in my opinion. As for a 2008 release, Grand Theft Auto IV certainly did not live up to the hype. If that game starts winning GOTY nods from around the web, I’m gonna puke, a lot. Over and over. Lots of puke.

With that said, as a devoted Goozex member, I’ve only played eight 2008 releases (I’m still waiting for GoW 2, Fallout 3, Fable II, CoD: WaW, Dead Space, and several others to show up in my mailbox). And only one of the eight games that I’ve played is in the Top 10 (yeah, GTA IV). Of the 2008 games I’ve played (GRiD, Soulcalibur IV, Madden NFL 09, Battlefield: Bad Company, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Viking: Battle for Asgard, and Mercenaries 2), the only game I’d want to revisit and finish is Mercs 2. Does that make Mercs 2 my GOTY? No. Not really.

So, what is my GOTY pick? Judging by the game that I played the most, and had the most fun playing, I’d still pick CoD4 as the reigning champ two years running. Maybe my pick for 2009 will be GoW 2 or Fallout 3.

Maybe, just maybe, Goozex fans have to stretch the calendar year when deciding GOTY. After all, you can’t really pick a game until you’ve played them all.

For those of you feeling let down that I did not pick a true GOTY, here’s MrWeymes, who has a
solid lock on his PS3 pick. After you read his review, Grundy the Man has a solid lock on his pick for the Xbox 360.

The Goozex Report PS3 Game of the Year
Andrew Weymes (MrWeymes) Says: With 2008 coming to a close, it's time to reflect upon an excellent year in the video game industry. There are so many games eligible for Game of the Year that it's almost too difficult to choose. Every genre, for every kind of gamer, had a few excellent games to play over the past year.

However, every excellent game has its shortcomings. For instance, Metal Gear Solid 4 has an amazing single player experience, with a slightly above average multiplayer component; while Left 4 Dead is an absolute joy online but lacks an enthralling single player experience. There were so many excellent games this year, each with their own flaws, it is hard to compare them
directly with one another. Of course, Game of the Year should come down to a few questions. Which game will you remember long past the year it was named Game of the Year? Which game will still be better than the majority of games in upcoming years? Finally, which game figuratively made your jaw hit the floor?

That game (for me) is the Playstation 3 exclusive, Metal Gear Solid 4. Whether you are a fan of the stealth/action genre or not, there is no denying the beauty of Metal Gear Solid 4. For those unfamiliar with Solid Snake, and the rest of the Metal Gear Solid universe, the story may be a bit confusing, but with the help of the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database available for download on PSN, people new to the series can follow the story with relative ease.

The cutscenes that bring this excellent story to life are easily the best of all time. They help immerse you in the experience, because as soon as the cutscene ends, and the gameplay begins, everything looks the same: excellent. The cutscenes would mean nothing if the gameplay wasn't as amazing as the story, but that is simply not the case.

The gameplay is tense, addictive, and simply fun. Apart from a few key scenes, you can approach the game in a number of ways. For example, you can kill every soldier in the area in a very blunt manner, such as shooting them all in the head with a pistol. In that same area, you can find a way to proceed without killing one soldier. Finally, in that exact same area, you could kill a few soldiers, hide until they are no longer looking for you, and proceed through the rest of the area stealthily. That's what puts Metal Gear Solid 4's replayability through the ceiling. You can play it as a pure action game, or a pure stealth game, or a mix of both.

The chase scenes are among the best of all time. One chase scene in particular is probably the most memorable gaming segment of the year.

In addition to everything mentioned above are some excellent, and memorable, boss fights. Bosses are totally unique and it may take you a few minutes to figure out how to kill them. As fun as it would be to describe each boss battle in detail, The Goozex Report doesn't believe in spoilers, therefore this will be a spoiler-free article. What can be said is that there are definitely some "what the expletive" moments in some of the boss fights, making them very memorable.

That pretty much covers the single player aspect of Metal Gear Solid 4. With, or without multiplayer, Metal Gear Solid 4 is Game of the Year. Single player gaming is the essence of video games, and without a doubt, Metal Gear Solid 4 had the best single player experience of the year. However, Metal Gear Solid 4 did come with Metal Gear Online on the same disk. Metal Gear Online is a separate game, so it shouldn't affect the score of Metal Gear Solid 4 in a negative, or positive way. That's not to say that Metal Gear Online is bad. For fans of the stealthier portions of Metal Gear Solid 4, Metal Gear Online probably won't disappoint. It's multiplayer isn't comparable to the likes of Gears of War 2, or Resistance 2. It's more of a slow pace. Many of the players of Metal Gear Online will quick snipe you if you are too out in the open, or if you are taking cover in obvious places. The multiplayer is very competitive, and will probably turn off more casual players.

To summarize, there is no other game more worthy of Game of the Year than Metal Gear Solid 4. The story is too compelling, the cutscenes are too well done, and the gameplay is too enjoyable for any other game to win this year. Metal Gear Solid 4 didn't need to include Metal Gear Online on the same disk to win Game of the Year. It would have won regardless, but the inclusion just means that you are getting an even better deal. 2008 was an excellent year for video games, and while there were many games considered for Game of the Year, The Goozex Report felt that Metal Gear Solid 4 deserved it the most for the PS3.

The Goozex Report Xbox 360 Game of the Year
Grundy the Man Says:
My Top 5 List

5. Super Smash Brothers Melee (Wii)

4. Mega Man 9 (WiiWare)

3. Braid (XBLA)

2. Left 4 Dead (PC)

1. Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)

This year, many stellar games were released. I was hard pressed to shorten my list down to a top 5, but I did my best. It was almost a dead heat between Left 4 Dead on PC and Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360. In the end it came down to the immersive nature of Fallout 3’s storyline that gave it the winning edge.

Fallout 3 is the kind of RPG that Bethesda prides themselves on making. They resuscitated a franchise that was in stasis for over a decade and managed to make it more vibrant and alive than its predecessors. Not to say that it replaces the classic Fallout games, but it is very much a worthy heir to the throne of Vault 101.

A barren wasteland isolates the player in the middle of nowhere, with very little handholding. You are left to comb the wasteland in search of items, friends, and storyline. Bethesda even took huge risks by writing a branching story that is monumentally influenced by key decisions throughout the course of the game. One choice can wipe out an entire city worth of story progression and questing. That is the very definition of ‘ballsy’ and makes this one of the most amazing games of 2008.

With over 30 hours in and many more to come, I couldn’t imagine a title being more worthy of Game of the Year.

Monmin Says: The only 2008 games I've played are Left 4 Dead, Viking: Battle for Asgard, Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise, and GTA IV. That excludes a lot of major releases this year, but anyway, my game of the year is: Left 4 Dead.

Kube00 Says: Okay I would say my top picks are:

Metal Gear Solid 4—It has so much to offer, a great story with amazing cutscenes, it’s a PS3 exclusive, and has great multiplayer.

GTA IV—It re-invented the series. The game itself is long, at least 40 hours; and the multiplayer, although not too deep, is fun for quick games.

Editor's Note: Yeah, Kube00 just made me puke. But we still like him and look forward to reading more of his articles.

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December 22, 2008

GOTY to be Announced Soon

Jimmy James 70 Says: The year is winding down and the contributors for The Goozex Report are busy writing up their nominees for the TGR GOTY. Who will win? What interesting and insightful commentary will come from yours truly? Only time will tell. Stay tuned faitfhul readers. Stay tuned. Your patience will be rewarded. In the meantime, feel free to mention your favorite picks in the comments.

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December 19, 2008

Cheap Games Make Great Stocking Stuffers

kube00 Says: There’s nothing wrong with giving cheap games as holiday gifts. There are plenty of old games available on Goozex, which are still a blast, and perfect as stocking stuffers. Here are my top 3 games valued at 150 points or less.

Psi-Ops., a classic by Midway that all gamers should play at least once. It’s what I like to call a single player action game with an over-the-shoulder camera. Sure it came out in 2004 and it looks dated and the storyline is a familiar one. But who cares? You get to blast your way through several levels using a fair variety of weapons, solve a few puzzles, and the selling point is the telekinesis and pyrokinesis psychic abilities. These are the two that are the most fun. Here are a few examples of how I used them: light enemies on fire and fling them; Ride crates around levels; Toss enemies and shoot them. My list could go on and on, as using your abilities are only limited by your imagination. It’s a great game, relatively short, but the strong replay value is what makes it a must have, and at only 100 Goozex points for Playstation 2 and Xbox who can say no?

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, the first of many in the Lego game franchise. It’s available for every system of the last generation. Who can deny that Legos are fun? When most of us were 7 and 8 they let our imaginations run wild. Why not put them in a video game? Lego Star Wars takes the most recent movies, Episodes 1-3, and lets you traverse them with or without a human partner. The AI can be funky sometimes but at least it goes where you go. Having someone else play with you makes for disastrous fun, as it’s easy to shoot one another while trying to solve puzzles. The games are decent length; I’d say it takes over 20 hours to complete each one. You can even create your own characters. And free-play is a blast as you can go back to a level you previously completed and play through it with any unlocked characters. My favorite part is that Jar-Jar is silent most of the game. This game can appeal to everyone: young, old, gamer, and non-gamer. Lego Star Wars The Video Games is available in a plentiful supply for 100 Goozex points on Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. Who wouldn’t want to play this game for the holidays?

Burnout Revenge. Most racing games are boring races that take you from point A to point B, with some Nitro thrown in to keep it fresh. Or most racing games fall into this genre: how about I take my car to the shop and upgrade my shocks or my spoiler. Who cares what the car looks like? In my experience, I just want to smash things while I race; welcome to the Burnout series. Now a boxed collection for the Playstation 2, the third one, Burnout Revenge is still king. The race modes are many, including the usual races through checkpoints, a career mode, and there are even crash and road rage modes. Crash mode is simple: hit the nitro off the jumps and cause immense car piles ups with earth-shattering explosions, all for the simple goal of receiving points and medals, like the Olympics. Road Rage mode is all about aggression. To win, gamers must smash more cars than their opponents before the end of the race. It’s a great game to play alone or as multiplayer. It has a fairly long single-player mode, ringing in at around 20 hours. Burnout Revenge is only 150 Goozex points for the Xbox or Playstation 2. It is a great stocking stuffer for kids and adults.

Sign up for Goozex now and receive 100 points and a trade credit.

kube00 is the newest writer here at The Goozex Report and he welcomes your feedback. He's a 25-year-old avid gamer that one day hopes to make his living by writing. He's a big supporter and user of Goozex.


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December 18, 2008

Getting the Untouchables Achievement

Monmin says: Last night me and some '360 friends' played until 2am trying to get the Untouchables achievement in Left 4 Dead. To earn this achievement, you have to complete the 'Finale' without any of the survivors taking damage.

The finale concept is the same in each campaign—after you reach the rendezvous point, a rescue vehicle picks you up and takes you to safety. The only problem is that you have to wait for the rescue vehicle to show up. Needless to say an incredible onslaught of zombies do everything they can to kill you while you wait.

If you ever play one of these finale's you will know that surviving at all is hard, but surviving with no one taking damage is impossible. It requires a well laid out plan and it requires everyone on the team to work together and to stick to the plan, but improvising when necessary. We were determined to do it.

We leveraged every advantage we possibly could. We set the difficulty to easy, and we found a rock out in the ocean that for some glitchy reason zombies can't seem to climb but we can (its a known bug that someday will get fixed I'm sure). The only danger is the 'tank' zombies that throw rocks at us and the 'smoker' zombies that try to yank us off the rock with their incredibly long tongues that they use as a lasso rope.

Finally, when the rescue boat comes to pick us up we have to leave our rock and run to the dock, where a nasty 'hunter' zombie is always waiting for us. These guys leap through the air and tackle you. You can melee them while they are leaping to block them, but the timing and angle has to be precise.

Well, at 2am last night we finally got the achievement!

You may think it was a hollow victory as we did it on 'easy' and we exploited a known bug, but at 2am in the morning when we all jumped onto the getaway tugboat with our hearts beating fast and dreadful concerns that someone took friendly fire at the last moment, we were all elated when we got the achievement.

Next, we will attempt to make it through an entire campaign with out any 'boomer' zombies vomiting on us.

This game only has 4 campaigns, but when you can get a good group of people to play with, it never gets old.

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December 16, 2008

Give the Gift of Goozex

Jimmy James 70 Says: If you’re like me, you do like the idea of giving, especially near the Holidays. But you’re probably also a little lazy and you probably have no idea what to get other people. That’s why gift cards are such a fantastical, crazy-good idea. And now you don’t have to settle for some lame mega-store gift card. You can give the gift of Goozex. How awesome is that? Pretty awesome if you ask me (are you listening Lucky Duck 21?).

Goozex Says: Goozex Launches New Electronic Gift Cards for the Holiday Season
Goozex, Inc., the leading online video game trading community, announced today the company’s release of new electronic gift cards for the Holiday season. The Goozex Gift Cards are sold exclusively on the website and are aimed for game players that may have missed out on great games released in the past year or two. With over 9,500 unique titles available on Goozex, gift card recipients have instant access to one of the largest libraries of video games in the world. The Goozex Gift Cards make an excellent last minute Holiday shopping gift for the video game enthusiast.

Video game consumers are burdened with the high price of games and many cannot budget to play every newly released title in a given year. A gamer that receives the Goozex Gift Card can catch-up and play many of the great titles they might have missed and are hard to find in local retail stores. Goozex has a great supply of these games because many video game consumers agree to trade them on Goozex.com versus local game stores because of the fair market trade values they will receive. For example, someone that trades Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii will receive $35.00 worth of Goozex points versus the $10-$15 trade-in value they would otherwise receive at a local used game shop.

Goozex Gift Cards are sold in several different Goozex points and trade credit combinations. Goozex points are the virtual currency used on the game trading site and trade credits are the fees paid to receive games. The cards are given to recipients either electronically via email or can be printed. Gift card values range from $5.00 to $270.00 to satisfy the different types of gamers. To view all available gift card value options please visit the Goozex Gift Card page.

“Our members are passionate about gaming and one of the things they love to do is find and play great titles that they may have missed,” said Jonathan Dugan, co-founder of Goozex. Jonathan continued, “In some months there are three or more games released that a consumer wants, but can only afford to buy one of them. We’ve seen that once the gamer plays through that one game they’ll trade it back out on Goozex, and request the other games they missed out on. For those looking for a last minute gift idea, the Goozex Gift Cards are a great way to share that catch-up and play experience so many of our members do on a regular basis.”

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December 14, 2008

The Forgotten Games of 2008

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: With 2008 coming to a close, it's easy to forget about all of the excellent games that were released earlier in the year that you have yet to play. This holiday season is packed with games competing for your hard earned cash. Games like Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Dead Space, Valkyria Chronicles, and Prince of Persia are probably some of the latest games that are on gamer’s minds. This holiday rush of games is going to overshadow the majority of excellent games made in 2008, primarily because they are fresh in people’s minds. However, a lot of great games were made in 2008, and shouldn't be overlooked. Many of the games listed below are on sale for a discounted price to compete with recent games.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Condemned 2 is the sequel to Condemned: Criminal Origins, which was an Xbox 360 exclusive. Condemned 2 is unlike many of the first person games released in 2008, because it's not primarily a shooter. Although you acquire a few guns in the game, most of the combat is done with your fists, or melee weapons such as pipes, and bricks. The combat is rather enjoyable, as well as brutal, the graphics are very nice, the story is well told, and there is a strong horror vibe to the game, so fans of horror should enjoy this game.

Dark Sector (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
It's a bit of a mystery as to why this game didn't receive more attention from gamers. Dark Sector features a very similar control scheme to Gears of War, or Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. You press a button to run to cover, use the analog stick to pop around the corner, etc. The main difference between this game and Gears of War is the glaive. The main character in Dark Sector is a man named Hayden, and his primary weapon is the glaive, which you acquire early in the game. The glaive is like a three-sided boomerang with blades on it. You're able to throw the glaive at your enemies, cutting off any limbs in your path. You're even able to control the glaive itself in slow motion as you guide it towards the specific limb of your enemy that you would like to amputate. While the story in Dark Sector isn't the best told in the world, neither is Gears of War. The action in Dark Sector is very fun, and if you're a gore hound, Dark Sector certainly won't disappoint. This is actually one of the cheapest games on this list. It's being sold for an insulting $19.99 new in many video game stores.

Eternal Sonata (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Although Eternal Sonata has been out since 2007 on the Xbox 360, it has recently been ported to the Playstation 3, therefore it qualifies for this list. Eternal Sonata is an action-RPG set in the mind of Frederick Chopin. It features an enjoyable combat system, an interesting story for the most part, and an amazing art style. The graphics are technically well done, but the art style is absolutely gorgeous. If you absolutely despise anime as an art style, then you will hate looking at Eternal Sonata, but if you're one of the many anime fans out there, there is no better game than Eternal Sonata when it comes to replicating the anime art style. The combat is relatively easy, and there aren't many side quests to speak of, so it's a rather short game. Despite this, Eternal Sonata is a worthwhile RPG, and can be found at a discount for the Xbox 360. The Playstation 3 version is still at full price, but it comes with many bonus features such as new characters available for your party.

Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
Lost Odyssey has to be one of the most under rated games of the year. It's a classic turn based, Japanese RPG. The story of Lost Odyssey is a rather interesting one. It starts off great, and lulls a bit at the end, but overall it's very engaging. The characters suffer from some RPG standards such as having a quiet tough guy, a comedian, the big breasted woman, the annoying kids, etc, but if you give the game time, the characters are actually well developed over the course of the journey. As stated above, the combat is strictly turn based. If you don't like taking turns with your enemies in JRPGs, then you won't like Lost Odyssey. However, if turn based combat is your thing, there isn't much to dislike. Character, and enemy design is top notch, and the graphics as a whole are impressive. There are many side quests in this game, so if you're the hardcore type, expect to play upwards of 80 hours. Lost Odyssey is an excellent JRPG, and it's a pity that it didn't get the attention it deserved.

Sega Superstars Tennis (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, Wii)
As the name bluntly points out, Sega Superstars Tennis is all about various Sega characters playing tennis, as well as participating in tennis themed mini games. It features a respectable amount of characters to choose from: ranging from the beloved Sonic to the lesser known Beat from Jet Grind Radio. While the tennis itself is enjoyable for a while, it's the mini games that really make the game. All of the mini games are inspired by classic Sega games. For example, instead of killing zombies with a gun in the House of the Dead mini game, you repel them back to the grave with tennis balls. This may sound lame, but it's not. It's a good time. The Puyo Pop mini game is worth the purchase alone. In addition, there is a lot of multiplayer fun to have with this game.

Silent Hill: Homecoming (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
When Silent Hill fans heard that Team Silent wasn`t developing Silent Hill: Homecoming, expectations for the game dropped dramatically. It was met with generally positive reviews from critics, with most scores ranging from a 6 out of 10, all the way up to a 9 out of 10. The main problem for fans of the series with Silent Hill: Homecoming is that it shares more in common with the theatrical film than the previous games in the series. For those that enjoyed the film, this may not be a problem. Much like the film, the game focuses on a cult. It`s obvious that Silent Hill: Homecoming was based off of the film in many ways, because many of the effects such as transitioning between the foggy Silent Hill, and the hellish Silent Hill look as though they were ripped straight from the film. The combat system is entirely different than it was in previous games. You are able to dodge, and perform finishers. This may be a bit of a turn off for long time fans, but others may find the new combat system to be a breath of fresh air. The graphics are above average, and the enemy and boss design, are particularly impressive. It may not be the best survivor horror ever made, but it’s certainly worth a play through for fans of the genre.

Siren: Blood Curse (Playstation 3)
Siren: Blood Curse, or Siren: New Translation in Asia is a rather dated survival horror game available for download on PSN, or available on Blu Ray disk if you import. Although the game is rather dated by 2008 standards when it comes to the controls, it’s an enjoyable game for survival horror fans. If you still enjoy games like the original Resident Evil games, or Silent Hill games, then you will probably find something to like about Siren: Blood Curse. Besides the sight jacking mechanic, which allows you to view surroundings through the eyes of your enemies, and others, the control scheme is very similar to classic survival horror games mentioned above. The story is interesting, although a little confusing, and despite the archaic controls, the graphics are actually pretty good. Character, and enemy design is among the top in the genre, and if you can get past the controls, there are a good amount of scares to be had in Siren: Blood Curse.

Turok (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
If you`re the type of person that fantasizes about killing dinosaurs in a first person perspective, then you can`t really go wrong with Turok. It would have been nice if Turok received a little more polish from the developers. Some of the texturing is down right sad, and there are some clipping issues, but it`s an above average looking game overall. If you`re not experienced in playing first person shooters, some of the enemies may drive you over the edge. You fight a lot of humans in Turok, and they all seem to possess amazing accuracy. If you`re a more experienced player, you shouldn`t have too much trouble. There are quite a few dinosaurs to slay throughout your journey including raptors, and a t rex. For each dinosaur, you have a different execution animation that you can trigger with your knife. These are all quite gory. Overall, nothing really separates Turok from every other first person shooter out there when you`re combating humans, but the dinosaurs really give the game a unique feel. Turok sells for relatively cheap on both consoles, and is the perfect game for someone who has always dreamt of slaughtering a helpless herbivore as they graze.

These are just a few of the games released in 2008 that are well worth your time. Many of these games are sold for a discounted price. It`s easy to get excited about new games, and to look ahead to the 2009 lineup, but just because a game is more recent than another doesn`t mean it`s better. Many of these games are among the top in their genre, and if you haven`t picked them up yet, now would be a good time.


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December 4, 2008

Sony Needs to Advertise Killzone 2

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: At times it seems Sony doesn't care much for advertising. It would be lovely if everyone was a hardcore gamer, everyone browsed the Internet for multiple reviews on various games, and that everyone engaged in text battles about their console of choice on forums. The truth is that most "gamers" see a commercial, see about 10 seconds of gameplay footage, and quickly run to their local Wal-Mart to pick up said game.

Microsoft’s advertisement campaigns border on harassment at times. Master Chief was around every corner during the Halo 3 launch. He was in commercials (30 times a day), he was on soda labels, and he was on underpants. This ad campaign was clearly directed towards the 12 people that weren't aware of the Halo 3 launch. Sony on the other hand likes to keep their games discreet. They don't want to make too much of a fuss. At least that's how it was until a few months ago.

Sony now advertises their games a little more, but they’re not shoving games down peoples throats, and that's what Sony needs to do. Go ahead, and ask some random "gamers" at your school, or work place what the following games are: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Little Big Planet, Folklore, Resistance 1 & 2, Heavenly Sword, and Metal Gear Solid 4. Chances are that the average gamer has never heard of these games due to a lack of advertising. Sony makes gamers sick with how little they advertise Killzone 2. Killzone 2 needs commercials on par with the frequency of Halo 3 and Gears of War at the time of their releases: they need ads on billboards, boxer shorts, soda labels, puppies, etc.

Killzone 2 already has one strike against it, and that's Killzone 1. What is Killzone 1? More casual gamers aren't quite as emphatic about upcoming releases and previous games in a series. Hopefully, Sony can craft such an impressive commercial for Killzone 2 that these same gamers that have never heard of Killzone 1 quickly start paying attention and realize that Killzone 2 is a zone in which you kill people in fantastic looking environments with fantastic looking weapons, characters, and effects; and that they need to play it.

Anyone who’s seen gameplay footage of Killzone 2 would have to be a bitter fanboy to not be impressed with the graphics. Not much can be said about the gameplay at this point, but a sure fact is that the graphics are stellar. Great graphics makes for a great commercial. Hopefully, Sony realizes this and spams television sets, as well as the Internet with Killzone 2 propaganda. It's the smart thing to do. There is no doubt that Sony is involved with some very high quality games, but these games don't always get the respect they deserve from more casual gamers because of the lack of advertising.

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December 1, 2008

Wounded Troops Donation Drive

From Goozex: Goozex is excited to announce that starting today they are running a two month donation drive for our wounded troops recuperating in military hospitals! To help get this done, Goozex partnered with a great non-profit organization that works with our wounded on a daily basis: Cause (Comfort for America's Uniformed Services)

Your Support Matters!
You can help support the young men & women who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries. These soldiers are recovering from serious battlefield wounds in military hospitals across the country, often undergoing grueling daily rehabilitation routines. Video games and DVDs are a source of entertainment and relaxation for them during their long periods of rehabilitation. That’s where you can help out! More Details


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Nostalgia Makes Gamers Crazy

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: Nostalgia is a formidable beast in the video game industry. Current video games look better, play better, and have more narrative than video games on previous consoles.

However, most older gamers in their late 20s, or 30s are very quick to tell you that Final Fantasy 3 is the best RPG of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the best action adventure game of all time, and that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the best platformer of all time. Slightly younger gamers in their late teens or early 20s, who started playing video games on the Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64, are likely to tell you that Final Fantasy 7 is the best RPG of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time holds the action adventure crown, and that Super Mario 64 is still the best platformer they ever played.

People who proclaim things such as this need to take their nostalgia glasses off, enjoy games on the current consoles, and remind themselves that they have been playing video games for either 10, or 20 years, and that of course they are a little jaded when it comes to video games.

After years of playing video games, it becomes apparent to a gamer that in a JRPG, the lead character is probably going to be a young male, he's going to have a love interest who will also be in your party, she's going to be cute, and he's going to have to save the world from a villain. In an action adventure game, there is a good chance that you’ll need a new item before you can get to an area that is out of reach, and in a platformer it's fairly obvious that you will need to jump at some point.

These are the formulas that most games in their individual genres follow. New gamers probably don't notice these formulas for a while, but video game veterans are always quick to point them out. Being formulaic shouldn't lower your opinion of a video game.

Is the game nice to look at? Is the story interesting? Are the characters interesting? Is the game fun? Does the game have good controls? These are some of the questions that veteran gamers need to ask themselves. In your heart, no game is ever going to replace the first few amazing games you played, but that doesn't mean that those games are as good as you remember.

For example, there is probably a young gamer somewhere in the world playing his or her first JRPG, Blue Dragon. That gamer is probably going to remember that game for the rest of his or her life as an amazing gaming experience that got him or her more interested in the video game universe. Does this mean that Blue Dragon is better than a highly rated JRPG that will eventually come out on the Playstation 5? No, it just means that people remember things a lot better than they actually were. Blue Dragon may have been uninspired and average to many JRPG fans, but for relatively new gamers, it's likely that the turn based combat system was addictive, and the story was enthralling.

Here are five games that are touted as the best in their genre by legions of fans. Beside them will be current games that are just as good, or better if you were to take your nostalgia glasses off.








NostalgiaCurrent
Final Fantasy 7 (Playstation 1)Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintedo Wii)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo)Little Big Planet (Playstation 3)
Silent Hill (Playstation 1)Silent Hill: Homecoming (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Golden Eye 007 (Nintendo 64)Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)

Current video games are technically better than older video games in every way. People refuse to acknowledge this because of their memories of these past games, but the reality is that if you were to get an unbiased opinion on which is better between an old game like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and a more recent game like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, more likely than not, the more recent game would win.

Nostalgia is a dangerous beast. It's the reason why people still play the SEGA Dreamcast.

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November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of you celebrating Turkey Day, have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, and don't forget to get some gaming in between helpings of sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie!


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The Future of Video Games?

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: Nintendo obviously went in another direction, deviating from what gamers expect from a next generation console. I'm sure most gamers assumed that every 5 or 6 years, we would get an upgrade of our current console with a slightly reworked controller, better graphics, and more features such as online capabilities, and Blu Ray. Sony, and Microsoft knew what was expected of them, and delivered. I don't think that many people thought that the Nintendo "Revolution"(as was the Wii's code name) wouldn't have a standard controller, but in fact make use of motion controls, and that it would have a small emphasis on graphics.

Technically, both the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3 are superior machines. Both support HD resolutions up to 1080p, both have a more robust online community, both are able to rip music off of CDs, both are able to play DVDs, and the Playstation 3 is able to play Blu Rays. From a core gamer’s perspective, the PS3 and 360 should be head to head, fighting for the top position, while the Nintendo Wii sits in third place. This obviously isn't the case, though. There are many places around the world where it is still very difficult to find a Nintendo Wii, and with titles like Wii Music, and Wii Fit high on casual gamers lists, this Christmas will no doubt be another huge success for Nintendo.

Of course, most core gamers could care less about Wii Music, or Wii Fit and will be stuffing their stockings with the likes of Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, and Call of Duty: World at War; but the reality is that Wii Music will probably sell more than all of these games individually. This current console war should be worrisome to core gamers. With the success of the Nintendo Wii, and the high sales of games such as Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, it is clear that there is an enormous casual market in the video game industry. This current surge of casual gamers has prompted Microsoft and Sony to advertise their casual titles much more than they used to, such as the above mention Guitar Hero, and Rock Band. It is clear that Sony is also trying to appeal to the casual crowd with the recent game Little Big Planet, but it is still unclear as to how that will work out until the holiday season is over.

The Nintendo Wii has changed the video game industry forever. It has proven that the game with the better graphics won't always sell more, and that the console with the most high quality games won't always be number one. The Nintendo Wii has the most games that have received a low score, as well as the least amount of exclusives that appeal to the core gamer, yet the Nintendo Wii is still outselling both the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3 easily each month.

Sony and Microsoft may have done what was expected of them this generation by releasing an obviously superior console to their predecessors, but what about their next consoles? Will Sony and Microsoft be confident in releasing another console geared towards the core gamer that will be over $500 at launch? It's entirely possible that Sony, and Microsoft will try to make their consoles appeal more towards the casual crowd. Core gamers often forget that Sony and Microsoft are companies. Companies want to make money. If the video game industry has shifted towards casual gamers, then more games will be developed for the casual crowd. It's the game developers that want you to experience games like Shadow of the Colossus, for example. Game developers want you to interpret their games as art, however the Corporate Heads of companies such as Microsoft and Sony couldn't care less about how amazing a video game experience is.

If a game like Wii Fit sells more than a game like Shadow of the Colossus, then it is going to be promoted a lot more. Developers are going to be encouraged to make games to appeal to the largest crowd. Don't be surprised if the next consoles are geared more towards the casual crowd. This may be the worst possible news for the core gamer, but it also may be a harsh reality.

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November 24, 2008

Don't Let Madden Intimidate You

Goozer (aka Jimmy James 70) Says: If you’re like me, you probably like football, and you turn the games on Sunday morning and keep them on till Sunday night. When Monday night rolls around, I at least check to see who’s playing and more often than not, I’ll turn the game on regardless of who’s on. But watching the game is really the extent of it. I don’t paint my face when I go to a game, I don’t scream and yell while in the sports bar, and if I miss a game I really don’t care much. I’m a sofa-fan.

When EA releases their latest iteration of Madden NFL, it might pique the interest of sofa-fans enough to check the reviews and to see who’s on the cover, but football sofa-fans are more likely to purchase an FPS or an RPG over a sports game.

And plus, isn’t Madden NFL an extremely complicated game that requires the smarts of a professional coach? The idea of choosing formations, routes, and knowing the difference between a pitch and sweep versus a trap play can makes me want to curl up on the couch with a bag of chips and check to see if the Vikings are on (being born and raised in MN gave me purple blood).

A little over a year ago, I was browsing through Target’s game department, and I see a rack of books with a title something like, Madden NFL 08 Strategy Guide. I picked this weighty tome up, must have been 500 pages, and I started flipping through the pages. The book contained the most in-depth descriptions of more plays and more options than I could ever want to know. I quickly put the book down and walked away slowly, thinking, I’ll never play Madden NFL. Ever. Way too complicated.

Recently, I had a couple thousand points burning a hole in my Goozex pocket, and I thought to myself, you have to at least try the game. If it’s too far over your head, then just trade it back and get your points back. No problem.

After playing Madden NFL 09, let me just say right now, I’m partially addicted to this game. I also recently received Mercenaries 2, and the two games are competing for game time. I really kind of thought Mercs 2 would make me forget all about Madden, but it didn’t. I can’t wait to get back on the field. It’s tough to beat the feeling of completing a 20-yard pass and running another 30 yards for the touchdown, and then topping it off with a dunk over the goal post. It’s fun. It’s thrilling. And at the intermediate level, the play calling is exactly at my level of football intelligence. I’m recommending this one.

It’s value on Goozex dropped to 950 points the day I received it. So, I might be taking a loss on this one. But hopefully as the playoffs approach, interest in the game might revive and the point value will go back up to the full 1000 points. But I’m not too worried about it. I might even hold on to this one for a while. You can get it off of eBay for under $40.

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Multiplayer or Single Player?

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: The Playstation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube era was primarily focused on single player gaming. Of course, Socom and Halo had many online players, but the majority of gamers were still playing games for the single player experience. However, it is apparent that multiplayer gaming is on the rise over the past few years and much has changed within the current generation.

Many games that have a solid single player experience—but no multiplayer—are often slammed for this alleged short coming; and even have points deducted in their review on gaming websites. An example of this is Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. While Uncharted didn't receive terrible scores, the inclusion of a multiplayer experience akin to Gears of War would probably have helped.

There are many gamers who don't enjoy multiplayer, and are concerned with this growing trend in the industry. Single player campaigns are getting shorter and shorter. While the quality of the campaigns is high, it's hard for a single player gamer to spend $60 on a six-hour experience; especially when developers focus their efforts on making the online run smoothly, having a good amount of maps, as well as weapons, and having a good selection of game modes. It's almost as if the single player experience has become secondary, which is backwards compared to previous consoles. Treyarch provided a prime example of this trend by releasing a Beta version of the multiplayer for Call of Duty: World at War as compared to a demo of the single player.

This generation is also seeing a rise in multiplayer-only games such as Warhawk, Socom: Confrontation, and to a lesser extent Left 4 Dead. While you can play Left 4 Dead by yourself, it's clearly made for cooperative play. If games like this become top games in the industry, developers will start to look at single player games differently. There is no sense in making an epic single player experience if it's not going to played by 1/3 as many people as this months multiplayer game.

There are pros to playing single player games, as well as multiplayer games.

Single Player Pros:

  • Storylines can draw you in, and make you feel for the character.
  • A good amount of single player games have a solid frame rate throughout the game.
  • Texturing and lighting effects are always better in single player campaigns.
  • Scripted moments that are shocking during your first playthrough.
  • The feeling of beating a boss by yourself.
  • Exploration.
  • A good soundtrack.

Multiplayer Pros:

  • Playing with people you know is usually fun. For people that live far way from each other, it's nice to socialize again.
  • If there is no lag, competing fairly against people from all around the world, or just competing against your friends can be thrilling.
  • Talking to real people during cooperative gaming brings a new level of strategy to the table when compared to AI team members.
  • Replayability. Many people only play the single player experience of a game once. Multiplayer gives you a lot more hours for the money you spent on a game.
  • Winning. It's always fun to beat someone else.

It's obvious that multiplayer is now a vital part of the video game industry. If you were to ask the average male, age 10-25 what Call of Duty is, he would probably know the answer, regardless of whether or not he plays that particular game, or video games in general. If you were to ask that same man what Lost Odyssey is, or Dead Space, or Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, he probably wouldn't know. The question is, what do gamers that spend their days playing video games, and talking about them on message boards think? Which kind of games brings you more satisfaction, single player or multiplayer? Which is more fun to play? Most importantly, where is the video game industry heading? Will single player campaigns become secondary to their multiplayer? Have they already?

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November 20, 2008

SEGA Shows Signs of Life

Andrew Weymes Says: The last generation of consoles wasn't very kind to SEGA. When the SEGA Dreamcast launched in 1999 in North America, it's only competitors were the Nintendo 64, and the Playstation 1. While the Dreamcast launch was a failure in Japan the year prior because of a small library of games at launch, and the looming shadow of the Playstation 2's launch, the North American launch was a huge success. The Dreamcast had an impressive lineup of games, and had an obvious technological edge over the current competition. The Dreamcast had some amazing launch titles such as Powerstone, Soul Calibur, the classic Sonic Adventure, the forgotten Blue Stinger, Trickstyle, Hydro Thunder, House of the Dead 2, NFL2K, and Ready to Rumble among others.

The Dreamcast sold an impressive 500,000 units its first week in North America. SEGA continued this momentum all the way until the launch of the Playstation 2 in 2000. Despite releasing critically acclaimed titles such as Shenmue (an incredibly deep action adventure game for it's time), Jet Grind Radio (the first cell shaded video game), and Sonic Adventure 2, the interest in the Dreamcast dwindled after the Playstation 2 entered the scene. Debt, fierce competition, and some clever marketing on the part of Sony put an end to the glorious era of SEGA video game consoles.

By 2002, the mighty SEGA had fallen, and became a third party developer releasing games on the Playstation 2, the Gamecube, and the Xbox. This came as a shock to many SEGA loyalists that never imagined Sonic would be on a Nintendo console. SEGA had minor success with games such as Virtua Fighter 4, Super Monkey Ball, as well as critical success with Jet Set Radio Future, but the majority of SEGA titles released on either the Playstion 2, Gamecube or Xbox such as Sonic Adventure DX, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Sonic Heroes were met with mediocre reviews. Sonic Heroes was the most successful of these titles, selling over 2 million copies.

The current generation of consoles started off a little rough for SEGA with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Sonic the Hedgehog was met with less than stellar sales and mediocre reviews. However, SEGA is showing an upward trend since then. SEGA published Condemned 2, which was met with mostly positive reviews. Golden Axe: Beast Rider received some rather poor reviews, which was upsetting to many fans of the series, but SEGA's more recent games such as Valkyria Chronicles—a Playstation 3 exclusive—and Sonic Unleashed, a multiplatform game were met with generally positive reviews.

Many people have lost faith in SEGA after the slew of average Sonic games that plagued the previous generation, but they shouldn't abandon hope just yet. With an unexpectedly deep strategy roleplaying game—Valkyria Chronicles—and a true next generation Sonic title, faith in the resurgence of SEGA is at an all time high. Before the fanboys start clamouring for a Dreamcast 2, they should realize that SEGA's place is in third party development. If SEGA entered the console market again, they would most assuredly be crushed by the intense marketing of Microsoft, the excellent quality of Sony, and the innovation of Nintendo.

An interesting idea for SEGA is to align themselves with either Sony or Microsoft and make exclusive games. This could attract more attention to SEGA, as well as help the console of their choosing. An exclusive Sonic title may not sound like much right now, but if the next Sonic game were to get a 9, or higher, exclusivity could definitely help move a few consoles, and get SEGA back in the limelight. SEGA is trying to succeed this generation, and for the most part they are. SEGA fans should be very pleased this holiday season. With SEGA showing signs of its former self, one can only hope that this trend continues.

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November 19, 2008

3 Months Later, Too Human is 50% Cheaper

Goozer Says: The woes for Too Human aren’t over yet. Everyone knows the background story and how it took forever to release, and how the critics slammed it. The latest story is the plummeting price point…

On September 2, The Goozex Report ran an article detailing how Too Human hit the Most Offered list 15 days after the game was released. Now, three months later, Too Human can be bought from eBay for $24.99. The Goozex point value has dropped to 950 points and I expect it to keep dropping.

Goozex traders have bought and sold Too Human 173 times since August 23. That’s a lot of trades. The frenzy began four days after the game released. That doesn’t bode well for the game. It’s one thing if the critics pan it, but if gamers grow tired of something brand new after four days, well, that’s a whole other story.

Thoughts of a Random Gamer reviewed this game back when it was still relevant. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

I’m sure I’ll still check it out one day, when it’s worth 150 points…

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November 17, 2008

The Goozex Report Reviews Little Big Planet

Andrew Weymes Says: Little Big Planet is a Playstation 3 exclusive developed by Media Molecule. It's clear that Sony wants to propel sackboy onto the same platform as Kratos, Drake, and Sergeant Hail when it comes to character recognition. While it's still unclear as to whether or not this will happen, it is clear that Little Big Planet is a very good game. Gameplay in Little Big Planet is simple, much like old 2D platformers. You can jump with the X button, and grab objects with R1. While this may sound too simplistic to many core gamers, it is anything but. Levels created by the developers, and user created levels test the patience of even the most loyal 2D platformer fan. That's not to say that all of the levels are difficult. Some levels are very simplistic, while others will challenge even the most adept gamer.

This is what makes Little Big Planet shine. It appeals to almost anyone. People can pick this game up for young children who will love the simple control scheme and warm art style, while the adults can enjoy the nostalgia of a 2D platformer and challenge themselves to acquire every trophy, and get the high score in some of the more challenging levels.

If you're the creative type, making your own level from the ground up can be a very rewarding experience. You aren't just limited to the objects given to you. You are able to create almost any object, or enemy that you can think of. The interface for creating a level is rather simple as well, and there are tutorials for everything, so if you're truly interested in making a level, the interface shouldn't put you off. Little Big Planet has only been out for a few weeks, and there are already too many user created levels to play, many of which are well done. The replayability is through the roof because of this, and with the inclusion of trophy support, many gamers will be playing Little Big Planet for quite some time.

The graphics are technically sound. The art direction is very warm, and inviting. Environments vary dramatically, keeping the game fresh. Hazards such as fire, electricity, poison gas, and explosives all look very nice. The texturing on every object and hazard is very clean. The animations for sackboy/girl are all done well and add to the cute atmosphere of the game. There are no real complaints here besides some odd glitches. If you grab on to a spinning object that is going too fast, sackboys/girls arms and legs will appear elongated. It's quite odd, but not game breaking.

Sound in Little Big Planet is excellent. Everything from the music to the sounds your sackboy/girl makes as they navigate through levels fit the look and feel of the game perfectly. However, there isn't a huge collection of songs, so expect to hear them over, and over again.

Overall, Little Big Planet is a must own for PS3 owners. There is something here for everyone. It's as simple, or as difficult as you want it to be. It may not be difficult for a core gamer to play through the story levels once, but acquiring all of the trophies is a different story. 2D platformer fans don't need to worry, Little Big Planet certainly lives up to the hype.

Score 9 out of 10

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November 14, 2008

Is World at War Worth the Full Price?

Goozer Says: Call of Duty 2 was one of the very first games I played on the 360 and there was no turning back. Call of Duty 3 never made me question whether I should try Rainbow Six Vegas. Call of Duty 4 solidified my stance on the entire series: it is simply the best. And now Call of Duty: World at War is available.

I wanted this release to be a reason for celebration. However, after playing the beta for World at War, I came away feeling like I’ve been there and I’ve done that. This really isn’t anything new except for the maps. Sure, there are attack dogs, and I could see the mortars popping off in the distance; I’m not saying the game wasn’t updated, I’m just saying I feel like I’ve played it before. I’m not so red-hot on picking it up like I was before. But then again, I’m not red-hot on paying full-price for my video games these days.

It’s like someone said in the comments to an earlier post, video games drop faster in value than any other commodity out there. It’s not uncommon for a video game to drop 50% in value after just a few short months. So why pay $60 for a game now that will be worth $30 in a relatively short amount of time?

I’ve heard the arguments that buying games brand new supports the industry and blah and blah. But guess what? It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and my $60 is not going make or break the system. Besides, like another commenter has stated, people buy used homes and used cars all the time, and those industries aren’t exactly going under (whoops, bad examples considering the current state of the economy).

Regardless, despite my ego wanting to join the cool kids playing Gears of War 2 and World at War, I’m simply going to hold out. I really don’t see the need for it. Besides, I’m getting my copy of Madden 09 shipped to me now, and I still need to finish Rainbow Six Vegas. Yeah, I looked into the Tom Clancy titles after seeing CoD 4 helicopters in my nightmares.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, this is a Call of Duty discussion. If you’ve never played the series, it comes highly recommended. And if you start with Call of Duty 2, it’s dirt cheap (just like World at War will be in six months).

For an excellent review of Call of Duty: World at War, read Games Are Evil’s review.
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November 13, 2008

Left 4 Dead Demo Underwhelming

Andrew Weymes Says: It seems no matter which website you go to, they all shower praise on the latest game by Valve entitled Left 4 Dead. As a zombie—and video game enthusiast—I assumed this would become one of my favorite games. It sounded like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, I came away from the demo very underwhelmed. Sub par graphics and average gun play killed my enthusiasm pretty quickly. I did find the gun play enjoyable in Left 4 Dead, but I really wasn't overwhelmed by how good each gun felt. They felt appropriate. The guns sounded average. Nothing praise worthy, but nothing to whine about, either. I don't want to offend anyone, but if you're going to tell me that this game has amazing texturing, lighting effects, environments, character models, and animations then you are probably one of those people that think Turok is a great looking game. The environments themselves looked appropriately drab but they weren't very inspired or pleasing to the eyes. As for looking like a zombie, I better not have messy hair, or a little ketchup on my chin if I'm living in the Left 4 Dead universe, or I might be confused as one of the undead. Yes, it's impressive that Valve managed to cram a massive horde of the undead onto the screen without a dip in frame rate, but I would have preferred 20 less zombies for the sake of the zombies actually looking like zombies—and not very angry people without napkins.

I noticed a couple of graphical glitches as well. I didn't think that in 2008 I would see enemy body parts coming through doors and walls, and various other objects, but I did. The draw distance was a bit of a joke as well. I couldn’t see the other end of a hallway at one point, which was kind of a "silent hill fog" effect that unveils the rest of the hallway as you walk further. I also don't like how you are able to walk through, and in to, each other’s character models. I know this had to be done to accommodate smooth multiplayer, but this is why a solid single player campaign would have been nice so that I don't have to be reminded all the time that I'm "just playing a game." Things like that have always pulled me out of the atmosphere that a game tries to create.

From the moment I heard about this game, I was hoping it would have above average graphics, and an enjoyable single player campaign. The single player campaign is nothing more than the multiplayer levels with AI bots to assist you instead of real people. The AI is good, and doesn't run into the wall or get lost behind you, but I was hoping for more than AI bots. I was hoping for something similar to Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas, or Resistance where there is an epic single player experience as well as some excellent multiplayer. I enjoy a cinematic experience when I play through a campaign, or story mode of a game, and for gamers similar to myself, I don't think Left 4 Dead is going to be very impressive.

That pretty much covers what I didn't like about the Left 4 Dead demo.

As the graphics are only passable, it makes sense that the main emphasis is obviously on multiplayer. I did enjoy the "AI director" that I have heard so much about. Basically, the AI director places enemies in different locations each time you play through a level, so each level has a huge amount of replay ability. This feature is excellent for a multiplayer game, because no matter what difficulty setting you are on, knowing where the enemies are going to be is always an advantage. An advantage that Left 4 Dead doesn't give you. The focus on teamwork is probably very appealing to a lot of people as well. I'm more of an independent gamer, so having to rely on other people to watch my back is a little bothersome. I find the teamwork aspect of the game to be its greatest strength, though. Some enemies will hold your character down and claw them up, and the only way to get them off of you is for another team member to shoot them. In most multiplayer games, letting your team members die is frequent, but in Left 4 Dead, you want to ensure the survival of everyone, because some of the monsters such as the witch—and the tank—are very hard to take down. I can see this game being very fun with a few friends over Xbox Live.

Despite the plain graphics, the sheer number of undead that you will encounter is intimidating at times. Watching 50 zombies flood the screen, and mowing 10 of them down within a few seconds with a shotgun is definitely rewarding. I didn't really care much for the "special" zombies such as the smoker, or witch. I'm a zombie purist, and I had the most fun just gunning down the horde. I'm sure this will be the best part of the game for most people. Another positive thing about Left 4 Dead is the death animations. Every member of the horde that you kill falls in a different way. There is no predetermined death animation, which is nice. I think of games like Turok where you stab a raptor for the 100th time and it gets dull to watch.

Overall, I think the demo for Left 4 Dead was passable. It wasn't what I was hoping for. I knew there was a heavy emphasis on multiplayer, but I was hoping for a decent single player experience that it does not have. Zombies are supposed to be ugly, but in this game the ugliness is mainly due to the lack of detail. Poor graphics really make it hard for me to immerse myself in a video game. I see this game as a gem for the budget gamer. For people that don't buy or rent a lot of games, and absolutely love multiplayer, Left 4 Dead is gold. The AI director and decent amount of levels gives this game near infinite replay ability. Personally, I like multiplayer, but I don't see myself playing for more than 40 hours if that, so to me Left 4 Dead just isn't that great. When I play a game, I'm hoping that it rivals a good film in the same genre such as the Silent Hill Series, Resident Evil, and even the Condemned series. If all you're interested in is killing decent looking zombies with people over Xbox Live rather than a good story and atmosphere, Left 4 Dead is probably the game for you.

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