December 31, 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks | Review

Troy Benedict Says The Legend of Zelda series has always had a special place in my heart. It began with the Legend of Zelda on the NES. I even remember the thrill and excitement when I opened a package containing Zelda II: The Adventures of Link for Christmas back in 1988, despite it looking and playing differently from the original game.


I've played through most of the iterations of the Zelda franchise, and have found each of them to be enjoyable in their own right.

I did, however, have a problem with The Legend of Zelda: Spirits Tracks, and it didn't just start with this release. I began recognizing my issues with the Zelda series with its past few releases: Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Phantom Hourglass.

I'll be honest and upfront here: I was disappointed with Spirit Tracks.

When I worked on my first impressions, I had a feeling that this game wouldn't sit well with me, and I was right. When it came to playing this game for review, I couldn't help but feel that it was more of a chore than something that should have been fun and enjoyable.

I recognize that Spirit Tracks is a good game, and I can respect the other gaming media and understand the positive review scores that they've given it. It's charming and whimsical in that typical Zelda fashion. But to me, it's also the same game that I've played several times over.

One criticism I have is that the Zelda series seems to have no connection with one another. It's almost as if each game is a remake/re-imagining of the one before it. For a game that's somewhat story-driven, with each new Zelda game it feels like I'm reading the same story over and over, with a new and different setting each time.
Another criticism I have is that, to me, the Zelda series is also becoming predictable and repetitive. Princess Zelda is always in peril, and the only person who can save the world is the innocent and world-wary "Link" character. In order to proceed through the game, you have to work your way through a series of dungeons. Each one contains an item that is the key to defeating the dungeon's boss, and each new item allows access to the next dungeon. Somewhere in there are the oft-familiar bow and arrow, bombs, and boomerang.

Lastly, Spirit Tracks, much like Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, is a bit misleading with its visual stylings. It looks and feels like a game marketed towards children; there are many "slapsticky" moments, characters are overly exaggerated and melodramatic, and the Link character is child-like and innocent. Even at its darkest moments, the game still feels like a Saturday morning cartoon that my kids would enjoy. I wouldn't say that I felt embarrassed playing though a "kiddie" game, but I think I would have preferred something a bit more serious. Hidden beneath a candy-coated exterior, is a challenging experience, that may turn away some new or younger gamers who were expecting a more casually-accessible experience. Maybe I'm underestimating today's young/casual gamers, but this was an observance that I felt was worth mentioning.

While I was disappointed with Spirit Tracks, I did enjoy some of the DS's unique gameplay elements, like the Spirit Flute and Whirlwind item. Both of these require you to blow on the DS's microphone, as if you were really playing a pan flute or blowing on a giant pinwheel. I also liked that Princess Zelda was something of a co-op character, instead of just a game-ending quest, and that working your way through certain areas of the dungeon required you to switch between controlling Link and Zelda to accomplish your goals.

The game, much like it's predecessor Phantom Hourglass, has an online multiplayer component. Personally, I've never been interested in a multiplayer Zelda game, and after not really enjoying the Phantom Hourglass's multiplayer modes years ago, I didn't try Spirit Tracks' multiplayer mode. I can see its appeal to some gamers, but it's not something that interests me.

It is my opinion that something drastically needs to change with the Zelda series to keep the Zelda name fresh and interesting. I consider myself to be an old-school gamer, but I'm certainly not interested in playing the same game over and over again. As much as I enjoy some classic Zelda, I want new and unique takes. Nintendo needs to change the formula for this series or risk releasing some really stale Zelda games in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, I can understand and respect other reviews as to why they considered it to be a good game, but from my perspective, someone who has played nearly every Zelda game, the formula has officially become outdated and needs a fresh and new take. Nintendo, I hope you’re listening.


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December 30, 2009

DS Review: Might & Magic Clash of Heroes

Chris Nitz Says Match three puzzle games are as rampant as ragweed in a bad lawn. A match three puzzle game in a strategy-game shell: now that is some sweet manicured lawn action. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes does just this melding. One might be turned off by the fantasy setting and the match three puzzle game, but this is one game you want to look into!

Clash of Heroes does a great job of blending two genres together. The match three puzzle crowd can get their fix by matching units horizontally and vertically to form attacks and walls. Strategy fans will get a bit of strategy as different fights require different methods of battle to win. There are times when the two blend together so well that you will forget you’re playing a simple match three puzzle game.

This game looks pretty darn good for an NDS game. There are lots of colors for the eyes to enjoy. Each unit looks unique. The animations are solid and the spells have a nice display that makes them look powerful.

What would a pretty sprite archer be without some fun looking backdrops? Clash of Heroes has some great areas to play in. From forests to crypts, it is all rendered very well on the DS. Each area feels unique from one another; and just as one area wears out its welcome, the story for that character draws to a close and moves on to a new area and a new character.

The storyline here is nothing ground breaking. When will we really see a storyline that really does feel unique anyway? The story here is that demon's are looking to take over the world...again. It is up to the forces of good to stop this. Unfortunately, the demon's have a plan that causes a bit of turmoil for the creatures of the surface.

The story is delivered through various in-game character interactions, as well as small storyboards that illustrate a major event in the story line. It all works pretty well and keeps the general feeling of the game flowing. The character portraits even change depending on the mood of the conversation. This is all really icing on the cake though. The real blast comes in the gameplay itself.

Where the game really takes off is its approach to the battle system. Not only is there the strategy of unit movement and how to best the enemy, but a small puzzle game takes front stage as well. The basics are to match three units of the same color to form an attack. These units will attack whatever is right above them on the enemy screen. The units will run directly at the enemy if the path is clear.

Of course, there is more to this than just a match three and win. Each unit has a different attack counter. This is how many turns it takes before the unit actually fights. This plays a role when you fight bosses that move around the board or you have to meet certain objectives in a timely fashion.

Stack three matching units on top of one another to form a normal attack. Matching six units of the same color forms a stronger attack, which is also called a fusion attack. Stacking three units of the same color sideways forms a protective wall. This is just the beginning.

Elite units are the normal unit times two. Elite units attack after two normal units of the same color are stacked on top of them. Elite units have special abilities like increasing enemy attack timers or jumping enemy walls. Champions are the strongest unit available. Champions take four normal units to attack. Champions have bigger special abilities and do a whole lot more damage.

If two units get ready to attack during the same turn, they form a chain attack. The more chains that get stacked together, the bigger the damage multiplier. This really takes off when units can be called to and from battle. The only units that cannot be summoned to battle are the elite and champion units that have been defeated in battle. Lose these units and it is time to spend some money, and resources, restocking them for the next boss fight.

After so many attacks have hit you, or landed on your foe, a magical ability becomes available. This magical ability gets stronger as the main character levels up. This magical ability varies by hero. One hero might have a magical arrow that you can use to hit the enemy directly; while another hero might grant you life at the cost of units on the field.

Not all fights are as simple as just attacking the opponent. One fight might have you attacking some specific enemies that would shift from side to side every turn. Another fight could have you trying to fight down a boss who moves around and blasts you from different positions. This makes for some very interesting battles that are enjoyable to play through a second time.

This might sound complex, but the game has good tutorials to introduce you to these fighting techniques. There is a lot of depth here, but it is very nicely spoon fed so that it does not overburden the player.

One of the best parts about the game play is how well it scales as the game is played. Starting a new hero means starting back at level one. The nice part to this is that each progressive hero feels a little more badass than the hero before them. There is even a nice little break-in period to learn what each new unit does. It might seem like a small thing, but this helped tremendously while playing through the game.

One of the most challenging aspects of this game came in the form of the puzzle side quests. Each new area nets a new puzzle quest giver. These puzzles entail defeating all of the enemy foes in one move. It sounds simple, but the game doesn't let that be the case. Some puzzles require you to look for dropping links and chains to help keep that move counter from dropping to zero right away. These little side quests provide a good distraction from the main game as they don't require any specific character level to be enjoyed.

Along with puzzle side missions, there are missions to hunt down specific persons who have done some sort of wrong. These can be fun, but taken on to early often leads to frustration. This leads to a big complaint of the game in that these side missions have no levels associated with them. Finding the bad guy and engaging them in a fight was most often met with a two to three level difference. This was terribly frustrating as it often meant a reboot of the DS so I could come back to these missions later. It is recommended to play these missions near the end of the character’s story line rather than doing them as they are found.

Die hard fans of hero point allocation will need to turn away here. Even though the hero and battle units all gain levels, there is no specialization to be had here. There are no points to dump into skill trees or constitution points to increase. This does take a bit away from replay as the heroes play out the same way they did the previous time. It would have been nice to maybe see a small skill tree introduced to keep things a bit different from one play through to the next.

One of the bigger areas of strategy are what to use for an army. Each unit takes up space on the board. People who enjoy building walls for defense will find that loss of space could hamper them from using champion units. The other item to concern one’s self with is how many units it takes before the special units will become active. While champions do a metric ton of damage, they take four normal units to activate. Elites take two units to activate. There is also the makeup of normal units. Whole chapters can be played only using one unit type. So there is quite a bit of room here to build an army that fits your play style.

This is a fantastic game. I have enjoyed this game more than I ever anticipated. The story was good enough to keep me wanting to play more. The presentation was top notch. Most importantly, the fun factor was at the top of the charts. Hell, even my wife couldn't put this game down. It is just that fun. Give it a try, you might just be pleasantly sucked away for a few days while you play!


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Case Closed

Cole Burton Says Case Closed has and always will be my favorite anime. It ran on Adult swim for a short time from 2004 to January of 2005. In Japan, it is known as Detective Conan. It is known as Case Closed in America instead of Detective Conan because of "unspecified legal considerations" of the name Detective Conan.

The anime adaptation has been well received, ranking in the top twenty in Animage’s polls between 1996 until 2000 when it dropped below the top twenty. In the Japanese TV anime ranking, Case Closed often ranked in the top six.

In Japan, there are 13 movies with a 14th in production, 561 episodes, and 9 OVA’s with no end in sight. In America, there are 3 movies with 3 more coming out in the next 2 months, 130 episodes, and 0 OVA’s. It is unknown if the series will continue much longer in America.

The series is about a 17-year-old detective named Jimmy Kudo. He and his childhood friend Rachel go on a date to an amusement park called “Tropical Land” because Rachel won a karate championship. While there, Jimmy solves a murder case that takes place on a rollercoaster. Afterwards, Jimmy saw 1 of the 2 suspected men in black go to a dark alley. He leaves Rachel to investigate and he witnesses a shady deal go down. Before he can leave to report it, the second man in black sneaks up behind him and knocks him out. Rather than leave a bullet trail, they give him an experimental poison from their “Wonderful organization.” It was meant to kill Jimmy, but, instead it shrinks his body to the size of a child while leaving his mind intact. Later that night, Rachel discovers Jimmy in his house. He invents the name Conan Edogawa on the spot thanks to the books behind him. His neighbor, Dr. Agasa gets Rachel to let Conan move in with her and her father for a while, claiming that his house isn’t the best place for a child, due to the dangerous experiments. The plan is for Conan to help Rachel’s father solve cases to bring him closer to finding the men in Black, and thus, getting an antidote.

There are many brilliant cases with amazing twists, later in the series, The creator of the poison is captured by the men in black and she takes the poison, expecting to die. However, she too shrinks and later finds Jimmy. They team up to take down the Black Organization along with three other young grade school students who are completely clueless about everything. All they know is that they want to solve mysteries as “The Junior Detective League.”

This is hands-down my favorite anime. I hope that I have convinced you guys to watch at least some of the episodes. I have nearly every dvd, but, you can just as easily watch almost every episode on the Internet, including YouTube.


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December 29, 2009

Christmas and Gaming

Erik Kubik asks, what is your best/most memorable Christmas gaming memory?

Was it the year as a kid you received both a Sega Genesis and a SNES for Xmas? Was it the year you got your first mature game for PSX?

What about your most awkward Xmas gaming moment?

Was it the year Grandma got you Mario’s Time Machine when you were 12? Was it the year your Dad didn’t listen to you when you begged for a Neo-Geo or a SNES and instead you got the overpriced Phillips CD-I?

Gaming in the last 10 years has been a big part of my life. But before 1999 I was just a lowly PC gamer whose parents thought gifts such as a new bike, clothes, fishing poles, and board games were better uses of my time than software for the aging family PC. Although, looking back, at least my relatives never gave me the awkward learning game or the game that was meant for the opposite sex. No, it was my brother who had to settle for that.

2001 was the Xmas I would remember and it still sticks in my mind as one of the best “gaming” Christmas’ I’ve had. This was the year I picked up the Sega Dreamcast. I was about to finish High School and at the time the console war between Sega, Sony, and Nintendo had heated up. I was still a PC gamer at heart and in passing I had mentioned it to my younger brother in the fall that I was interested in a few PC games that were coming out.

Christmas Day came and I opened gifts for my upcoming trip to college. I opened up gift cards and cash. By the end of the gifts there were two smallish rectangular packages under the tree in the back that were addressed to me.

Low and behold after tearing open the tightly wrapped gifts, my jaw dropped. The soft golden and blue hued box of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn beckoned to me. While in the other box the fiery red and back of Diablo II Lord of Destruction promised me many late nights. Both games were outstanding and led to many sleepless nights. To this day I still have both games, granted I haven’t played either of them in a few years, maybe it’s time to fire one of them back up.

Here at the Goozex Report we’re wishing all of you Happy Holidays!


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December 27, 2009

Holiday Memories of Yesteryear

Troy Benedict Says December and Christmas always has a special place in my heart, not just because it was a time for my family to come together, but because I had a lot of fond memories of gaming during the holidays.

These games will certainly date me as an "old gamer." I promise to try and avoid using the phrases "when times were simpler," "back in the day" and any semblance of walking anywhere regardless of the distance walked, whether or not it there was any uphill walking, and/or if there was any treacherous snow-like conditions involved.

My most memorable day was when I picked up Phantasy Star II for the Sega Genesis from the local Toys R Us, the day after Christmas using the extra money I received from my parents and grandparents. The grand total, I believe, was $89! I remember my mother telling me not to mention the cost to my grandmother, who had come along on the trip, because it was so outrageously high. Granted, this was nearly 20 years ago, in December of 1990. Even today, $89 for a video game is insanely high. In contrast, one can purchase Phantasy Star II in a bundle of classic Sega Genesis games today, and it can also be downloaded via Xbox Live for as little as $5. Between that and Golden Axe (also for the Genesis), those were the two most expensive stand-alone games I remember purchasing.

That same Christmas, I received Strider, also for the Sega Genesis, as a Christmas gift. As much as I loved the game, I remember being slightly disappointed as the game was easy to finish and over way too quickly.

One Christmas Eve of 1998, my brother and I played through one of the levels in the Myth II: Soulblighter PC demo, which we referred to as "the Baron level" over and over and over! We had our computers networked together (probably via an ancient serial cable) and played a co-op multiplayer game, dividing an army between the two of us. Myth II was an amazing real-time strategy game made by Bungie, many years before they became well known for their First-Person Shooter genre goodness! It had an awesome physics engine -- and gore galore! When you tossed grenade-like explosives at the enemies (or accidentally at your own men!), their body parts would riddle the ground with trails of blood and gore! My brother and I took turns trying to paste the castle library's floors and walls with the Baron's blood!

I remember playing through Space Quest III for the PC during the month of December, and somehow working my way through the entire game in a span of a couple of days -- without a hint guide! An accomplishment that I was particularly proud of, considering the degree of difficultly with some of Sierra's prior graphic/text adventure games.

I received the game Auto Duel for the Apple //c for Christmas, probably in 1985, the year it came out. I remember playing it on my Grandmother's computer, thinking that the graphics were amazing and enjoying vehicular violence! Gaming back then was kind of like reading a book - you really had to use your imagination to make the extremely low-resolution objects (sometimes they were nothing more than simple dots) to fill in the details!

While the gaming memories during the month of December aren't quite as memorable during the recent years -- being a husband and father to three makes me a very busy person during the entire month of December, especially on Christmas Eve -- I still try to find time to sit down and relax with a good game and work on some modern gaming memories! Perhaps, in 15 years when my (now) 2-year old son asks for "Borderlands 10" for Christmas I'll sit down with him and reminisce about my days -- back in 2009 -- when I played through the original and back when "the graphics sucked" and we had to use a "controller" to play games.

Who knows! Maybe I'll be right!

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December 22, 2009

2009 Game of the Year

Mike Rohde says It was a pretty good year for new games. Last year at this time, I lamented that almost all the new games were sequels, and many of them were not innovative or all that new. This year, all that has changed. Sure, there were plenty of sequels, but those sequels came off as fresh, unique, and most importantly: fun. As the Executive Editor, my qualifications for a game to be nominated for Game of the Year are based solely on one factor: how much fun did you have playing that game through the course of the year, regardless of when it was released?

Based on that criteria, my runners up for Game of the Year include: Halo Wars, The Godfather II, Gears of War 2, FEAR 2 and 50 cent: Blood on the Sand.The final nominees are: Dead Space, Fable II, Forza 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Assassin's Creed II. All of these games are fantastic, innovative, and fun. The shortcomings include occasionally frustrating game play, feelings of the game turning into a grind, or lack of features. All-in-all though, each of these games rate at least a B+ if not an A. I wholly recommend that everyone play these games.

The grand winner, in this gamer's opinion, is Modern Warfare 2. It offers everything a game can and should offer: an adrenaline-packed single player campaign that's just as fun the second time through; a multiplayer experience that's addictive and challenging; and coop missions that are a complete blast while playing with your buddy. You really couldn't ask for more out of a game.

Chris Nitz says 2009 Game of the Year: inFamous

2009 was a year full of great games. We finally saw a comic book game worthy of a GoTY nomination in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Uncharted 2 graced us with amazing visuals and great story line. Music games saw the Beatles and Grandmaster Flash put out some new ways to enjoy our music. Atlus proved that we are not worthy of gaming godliness with its punishing game Demon's Souls. With all these great games, my game of the year would have to be inFamous.

inFamous is the one game I had the urge to play through a second time just to get both sides of its story line. The story was that engaging to me. I am looking forward to seeing where the storyline goes in the sequel.

I felt like a powerhouse when I nuked enemies with my super lightning powers. The game looked great, ran well, and the controls were spot on. inFamous was just the right length and did not wear out its welcome. Overall, the package was very polished and highly enjoyable. It is the one game I still throw in from time to time. The amount of time I have put in and the enjoyable experiences I have had make this my 2009 console game of the year.

Troy Benedict’s GOTY 2009

I found myself having a really hard time picking a Game of the Year for 2009. In past years, choosing the best game of the year was an easier task. At least it felt that way in retrospect, where one title shone brightly amongst a sea of not-quite-as-great games. This year, nearly everybody stepped up their game (literally) and released some really top-tier titles! I had a good time working my way through the haunted daylights of Capcom's Resident Evil 5. Batman Arkham Asylum was a surprise hit that almost nobody saw coming until the high praise hit the Internet. Harmonix showed us what it would be like to be a member of the Fab Four with The Beatles: Rock Band. Naughty Dog made an amazingly stellar sequel with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, demonstrating some of the PlayStation 3's true power! The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition was a faithful and updated remake of one of my favorite games of all time! Scribblenauts and its nearly infinite if-you-can-write-it-you-can-use-it library of tools and objects was an innovative spin on the puzzle-platform genre. Shadow Complex showed us that good things come in small (or digital) packages at VERY reasonable prices ($15)! BioWare created a new franchise with Dragon Age: Origins proving that a fantastic RPG can exist today without the Dungeons & Dragons or Star Wars licenses. I was one of the 90-gazillion people who picked up Modern Warfare 2 on launch date, and loved every minute of the campaign! Borderlands proved that an RPG/FPS hybrid can exist -- and be tons fun (especially 4-player co-op) -- and that people still love Diablo-style loot drops! Finally, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, a fun and enjoyable game that can be played without EVER pressing a button!

While I enjoyed all of those games, my choice of game of the year was none of those excellent titles. In fact, my choice for 2009 is a re-release of a three-year old PlayStation 2 game. It doesn't have awesome, high-resolution textures. It has no online multiplayer. It's not even a console-based release. My choice for 2009 Game of the Year was Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days by NIS America for the PSP. The choice for me was actually pretty simple: Disgaea 2: DHD was the 2009 release that I spent the most time to playing, and I enjoyed every second playing it! Being a father to three children (one of whom was born in September), it is sometimes hard to sit down and play a game without interruption, and a game like Disgaea 2 on a portable system like the PSP was the perfect combination to a busy life. I could take it on the road with me or I could play it when the TV was occupied. When family life called, I could suspend the game immediately and resume it later on. I never had to worry about not getting to a save point and losing my progress, or having to bail out in the middle of an online multiplayer game. It's situations like this that prove that it's still possible to be a gamer even when you're also a parent. Happy holiday to all of The Goozex Report readers! I can't wait to see how the gaming in 2010 can possibly top the greatness of 2009!

Cole Burton Says The VGAs are a big part of the year for every gamer. This was a great year. We saw Batman: Arkham Asylum, the first trailer for spec ops and Halo Reach and some of our most favorite games got the attention they deserved.

Two things at the VGAs stood out to me this year:

1. Jack Black beat Nathan Drake and The Joker for best voice award (crazy) and he was last year’s host for the VGAs. Was that award fixed?

2. Uncharted 2 beat Modern Warfare 2 for Game of the Year. I am glad for Uncharted 2, I always said that if it weren't for Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2 would win; boy was I shocked.

Either way, a great game won GotY and many other deserving games and actors were awarded as well. It looks like 2010 will be a strong year for gaming.

Shawn Lebert says While I admit that I haven’t experienced each and every amazing game currently on the market, I will nominate the ones that I have played! That means, unfortunately, I can’t really nominate any first-party titles for the PlayStation 3 since I don’t have one – sorry Uncharted 2, inFamous, and Killzone 2. To me, getting the Game of the Year award means it has to be original in its own light – even if it’s a sequel – a modern innovation, and, of course, fun. It has to stand out and make the year unique. The three most outstanding game nominations for 2009 to go: Assassin’s Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Assassin’s Creed II – This is, by far, a phenomenal sequel to the original. In fact, it’s so good that I consider it 100% better than the first. Yes, the first game has the same exact mechanics that you experience in its sequel, but Ubisoft surely listened to the fans and perfected AC2 to the best of their abilities. The fighting and climbing remain the same, albeit there are new animations from time to time. The arsenal for weapons, treasure hunting, glyph discovering, and the unparalleled, epic narrative are to the 110th power. The game will take at least 40 hours for those who wish to complete at 100%. Not only does it provide great insight to the “matrix”-like connections between modern day and the character’s ancestors, but also you’ll learn a plethora of history during the Renaissance.

Batman: Arkham Asylum – It’s heaven: a video game mixed with the best comic book hero: Batman. Not only does it stand out to be the best Batman game ever made, but it’s accurate to the mythos, as it was penned and developed by creators of the comics, along with top notch voice work that made The Animated Series so superb. Arkham Asylum caters to addicting gameplay that includes the brutal fighting styles of the Bat, but also balances itself with a great detective mode that makes Batman more than just a beat-em-up; making it smart, investigative, and fun. There are more than enough goodies throughout the game, and you will want to complete it, because the Riddler will never stump Batman!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Amazing, amazing campaign that will give you goosebumps. Just like the first game, Modern Warfare 2 is complete with an adrenalin-rushing campaign that surpasses the first. The great thing about the recent Modern Warfare series is that Infinity Ward creates a world that feels so naturally well-developed not only through their characters, but even the locations feel like a dynamic character in itself when things explode, buildings crumble, etc., just to see it in a different light from when you entered it. It’s one big destructive – although scripted – playground. The multiplayer is just as addicting as the first. On top of all that, along comes a new Spec Ops mode that will keep you playing until your eyes bleed.

Game of the Year Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum

It goes to Arkham Aslyum because it definitely stands out as a standalone game. Developed by scratch, this game is ideal for anyone who wants to get into gaming on any system, wants to be Batman the right way, or just loves a balanced and dynamic gameplay system. It’s got something for everyone, and everyone should enjoy it!

Erik Kubik says as a member of Goozex and a writer for The Goozex Report, I’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of newer games this year. Some of the games were great, some were okay, and a few were beyond terrible.

Candidates for game of the year include a lot of AAA titles. For starters, there is inFamous, for me this was the super hero game I had wanted to play for years. Free roaming game play with a decent story, two sides with two different paths, and an excellent narrative.

Second game on my list is Modern Warfare 2. I have to admit this game is awesome. It's easily one of the best fps I've played in the last three years. Once again Activision has a made a game that says “Wow!” Although the single player is short, the added “spec ops” mode and the multi player make this a game that everyone can enjoy for months.

Uncharted 2, showed off what the ps3 can do in the way of graphics and game play. Nathan Drake is back and taking charge. The game moved from cinematic to game and back again without effort. After the in-depth single player campaign, gamers were treated to an outstanding multiplayer that includes a team based co-op. I cannot stop playing this game, every week I fire it up for a few hours or more.

Batman Arkham Asylum is third. This game which I knew nothing about until I tried the demo, sucked me in for a few weeks. Fluid combat and gadgets combined with a great story narrated by the people who voiced the animated series. This is the Batman game that all gamers have been waiting for since Batman Returns popped out on the Sega Genesis back in the 90s.

My last candidate may be one which has just seen a recent revival in its multiplayer, Red Faction Guerrilla Warfare from THQ. The single player story and characters are marginally interesting. But who cares about the plot in a game where the gung ho, destroy all environments attitude is first. Mix in some fun and crazy weapons, and more multiplayer modes than I can count and it’s a wrap. These elements make it a candidate for GOTY.

Between the four it comes down to Red Faction, Uncharted 2, and Batman AA. I love the comics and everything that is Batman. Red Faction has a lot of fun multiplayer. But then look at Uncharted 2, it has everything and it looks great. I am sure Naughty Dog has long term plans for the game with DLC.



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December 19, 2009

Reflections on 2009

Mike Rohde Says Faithful members of Goozex, who don't always have the opportunity to rush out and buy new titles on release date, have to rely on trading with other Goozers to play the latest and greatest. So, when November rolls around and all the future classics start hitting the store shelves, the Goozex faithful might not play those titles until the following year. They might have to wait an extra month or two, but who cares, they still get to play the same great titles, and save a boatload of money in the meantime.

I added up all the titles I got through Goozex in 2009, multiplied that by $60, and realized that I saved approximately $2000! And I think I'm considered a fairly light trader. I'm sure there are Goozers out there who saved much, much more. My point is, I'll gladly wait a month or two if it means saving some bucks.

Due to the Goozex-wait factor, that means when it comes time for The Goozex Report's Game of the Year awards, you might see some titles from the previous year, which is all fine and good. That's also how CoD4 won GotY last year, alongside Metal Gear Solid, Left 4 Dead, and Fallout 3 (each writer got to choose their own pick).

As the Executive Editor, my qualifications for a game to be nominated is based solely on one factor: how much fun did you have playing that game through the course of the year, regardless of when it was released? On Tuesday, The Goozex Report will publish the 2009 Game of the Year awards. Each writer will contribute their nominations and picks. Which games would you like to see listed? As for me, the contenders include: Halo Wars, The Godfather II, Gears of War 2, FEAR 2, 50 cent: Blood on the Sand, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution, Dead Space, Fable II, Forza 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin's Creed II and Modern Warfare 2.


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December 16, 2009

Rogue Warrior: Stay away!

Erik Kubik tries to blast his way through Rogue Warrior and this is what he thought.

There are good games and there are so-so games. Most of the average or so-so games move to the budget-game price very quickly. Once in awhile, gamers come across a truly bad game that eventually makes its way to one of the gaming sites’ lists for the top-20 worst games. Rogue Warrior will be on that list.
Rogue Warrior is not a good game. The lackluster plot is based on the life of Richard Marcink, a Navy Seal who in the 1980’s infiltrated a few communist countries such as North Korea to kill some guys all in the name of the “U.S.A.!”

Plain and simple, Rogue Warrior is easily one of the worst games I have played in the last five years. There is a lot wrong with this game, but to start, I’ll focus on the few things that keep me from throwing my ps3 through a window.

To some, the swearing in GTA IV is a little much! If that’s you, then stay away from Rogue Warrior: Richard, whose voice is handled by Mickey Rourke, swears far more then Niko in GTA IV. In fact, I think its at least 80% of his dialogue After awhile, the swearing grows on you, making this amusement one of the game’s few selling points.

Initially, the melee kills are fun. Then, they rapidly become repetitive. To add to the fun, Richard can run into a room guns blazing and still melee kill the guy around the next corner who must be deaf because he didn’t hear the alarms, the gunshots, swearing, or painful gasps of his dying comrades. Most of the melee kills involve something with your knife or hands and the occasional push-over-the-rail. I actually spent more time in the game melee killing people than shooting them. For those gamers who love blood, melee kills do produce a nice spray of blood.

There are also tons of “easy-to-get” trophies. Gamers receive trophies at every level of completion. For those who have to go and track down every trophy, going Platinum will be quick and easy, but not painless.

That said, the graphics are bad; they are very last gen. There is little facial animation or character detail. For the most part, all the levels look the same and are sparsely detailed. The gun details are about as well done as the fire arms in Goldeneye.

The controls are terrible. I feel like I am trying to steer a drunken elephant in a pool of tar. Everything is stiff and sluggish. Too bad Richard cannot swear at his own game. The A.I. is terrible. The enemies have no idea where the cover is. They stand there looking stupidly in your direction or run past you to the end of the hall before turning around and shooting. There are countless bugs and glitches. Enemies have clipping issues and get stuck in walls. I melee killed someone and the game showed his death animation surrounded by a shower of blood, only to also show me and the enemy still standing, caught in limbo. Enemies keep running after I empty an entire clip of bullets into their chests. Yet their bullets always hit me in the head. Furthermore, on multiple occasions I got stuck in doors.

I was hoping the multiplayer might redeem the game a little. I tried to play three different times, once on Saturday evening, once on Sunday midday, and once on a Tuesday early evening. All three times, no one was on. Big surprise there! Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch are the only two game modes that limit your choices. Modern Warfare 2 offers a much better multiplayer experience and it doesn’t look like it was made 10 years ago.

Even if you are a trophy-whore, wait until this game hits $10. I could recommend 5 different $10 ps3 games that are well worth their money instead of this game. This POS game is worth about as much as a wooden nickel. Do yourself a favor and stay away.


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December 14, 2009

Now it can be told: The horrible truth about Pokémon and the occult

Dale Culp says: It's true -- all of it. Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan Claus, and Pokémon is his wicked, wicked tool. This subversive game, designed by the devil himself, is a gateway to the dark side. Video games are trying to steal your childrens' souls. And how do I know this? Because we were in on it. All of us.


My dance with the devil started, as most full-blown cases of devil worship do, with some very small steps. I cut my teeth on titles like Haunted House on the Atari 2600, and nursed a healthy addiction to horror games such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th on the Nintendo Entertainment System, but that was just kids' stuff. It wasn't until I played Doom on my buddy's Super Nintendo that I realized I was a real, honest to God, Satanist. We were so young then, only having just mastered the basics of spell casting and demon summoning through the use of a Ouija board my friend was given, coincidentally, for Christmas. We'd come a long way from Bloody Mary and "Light as a feather, stiff as a board," but we were just getting started. We knew in our hearts there was no going back.


The late 90s were a special time for me. I was growing in strength and had nearly mastered many of the "forgotten," more arkane dark magicks. I'd not only learned to hone my 6th sense, but my 7th and 8th, as well. I was quite a popular guy at parties. I could read minds, make objects disappear at will and "possess" the minds of young women with a hypnotic gaze. Forget roofies (aka floories, rapies), man -- the hypnotic gaze is where it's at. But the coven I was a part of at the time were looking for something more, something harder. Something more harder. That's when we discovered Pokémon.


There was a rumor going around that some cat from Japan had found a way to control the minds of children through a video game. We didn't think it was possible, but I decided to look into it. Before long, I had discovered for myself that it was true. Satoshi Tajiri, an ancient mystic, had found a way to digitize actual monsters and store them on Game Boy cartridges. Pokémon was then released in the United States and the youth of America were forever damned. The rest, as they say, is history.


Was it all just a coincidence? Look closer and notice what most of these games all have in common: Nintendo. Even Shin Megami Tensei got its start on Nintendo's Super Famicom. Makes you wonder what they've got under the hoods of those things, and why modern hardware like the Xbox 360 red rings if you look at it wrong but the ol' NES just keeps on truckin'.


In fact, as it turns out, the unique architecture of Nintendo's hardware is designed around specific eternal elements that not only gives their consoles long life, but also makes each one a perfect rift/portal generator to The Elder Worlds and the realms of the Ancient Ones. These long standing cults have been manipulating eternal forces for aeons, biding their time and building generations of followers; waiting for The Day of Eternal Night, when they usher forth The Beast to conquer the world and overthrow the forces of good. Makes you wonder about the Wii, too, doesn't it? Sure did catch on like wildfire, here in the States, didn't it? I'm sure that's a coincidence... I'm sure the popularity of all of Nintendo's consoles is just some strange, unexplainable phenomenon. Except for the Virtual Boy; that thing was failure personified. But then, of course, you have Super Mario's godless, communist ties. Oh, the evidence is overwhelming! I'm just the only one who's willing to tell you the truth.


I've taken enough peeks behind the curtain to know how this stuff works, and I fear I may have said too much. Even so, those who could harm me have either long since lost their minds to madness or fulfilled their suicide pacts with the Lord of Darkness. I myself agreed to no such bargain, but I paid the price by watching my powers dwindle. Ten years on, and I wonder, where did the time go? Still, I do get, like, 0.05% of each soul that is cast into the lake of fire as a result of my writings, so there's always that. I mean, it doesn't pay the bills, but once I start building a network of affiliate links and really get the Google juice flowing, I'll be sitting pretty in Hell! And now you know. Of course, if you believe ANY of this, tune in next week when I reveal the shocking truth about Donkey Kong and the JFK assassination!


December 11, 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks | First Impressions

Troy Benedict Says I really want to hate The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (but I don't).

I've spent an hour with the game and there are so many things about it that annoy me.

The style and presentation of Spirit Tracks is extremely deceptive. The game plays out like a Saturday Morning cartoon full of wildly stereotypical caricatures within the game's cast.

The Link protagonist is childlike, innocent, and naive. He is young, inexperienced, and yet is destined to save the world from an evil so powerful that it wasn't able to be conquered, in the past, by armies of the world's best warriors.

The guards who protect Prince Zelda within Hyrule Castle are pompous, lazy, bumblingly idiotic, or a combination of all three. Whoever thought these gentlemen were fit to serve as royal protectors was an even bigger idiot. It's no wonder that Princess Zelda is always in trouble.

The storyline is so predictably simple. If you know one Zelda game, you know them all. I spotted the game's evil character as soon as he appeared, yet he was somehow welcomed within Zelda's inner circle of trust for a long time.

All of these things had me doing one face palm after another. I felt like I was playing a game designed for my kids and not a man in his thirties.

However, after you look past the kid-friendly appearance of the game, what lies beneath is a rather deep and challenging experience.

Many of Nintendo's games, like the Mario and Zelda series, have a very kid and family friendly quality to them, but when it comes to actually mastering the game's later levels it requires a lot of skill and (sometimes) a lot of patience.

As much as I want to dislike it... I can't.

It's charming and so far entertaining.

It's similar to other Zelda games, but still has enough differences to make it feel new and worthwhile. I'm sure there will be eight dungeons, each with an item that will defeat the boss, and can be used to reach areas of the overworld, as well as the next dungeon. It's different enough that it doesn't quite feel like the previous game with a new coat of paint (although instead of Phantom Hourglass's boat you ride a spirit train).

The game starts off like all Zelda games with an unarmed Link, who must learn the basic ropes before earning his traditional sword and green garb.

Having played Phantom Hourglass years ago, I was instantly familiar with the controls of the game. Everything is controlled with the touch screen, and thankfully controlling with the stylus is quite responsive.

The one thing I liked about Spirit Tracks is that after the action ramps up, is that Zelda is actually your partner in this game. You're still rescuing her, but she's also your teammate. Confused? Spoiler Alert: Zelda's body is stolen, but her spirit remains with you. Because of this, there are segments of the game where you will switch between Zelda and Link in order to solve puzzles or out-maneuver enemies.

So far, I've enjoyed my time revisiting the land of Hyrule, despite wanting to roll my eyes from the game's familiar cutesy-ness. I am looking forward to working my way through this game.

Look for my full review of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks later this month!

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December 10, 2009

Let's Party Like It's 1999!

How the Gaming Industry Has Changed in the Last Ten Years

Troy Benedict Says 2010 is almost upon us! The gaming industry and the technology behind the latest consoles has come such a long way over the past decade. It's not always easy to see how far games have progressed without some perspective.


Let's all jump into the Way Back Machine and go back 10 years to 1999 and see just how different the gaming industry was back then!

Ah, 1999. It was the year of Napster's birth, and John F. Kennedy, Jr’s unfortunate death off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, and Keanu Reeves was making theater goers go "Woah!" with The Matrix and its, still-to-this-day, impressive special effects. Many people watched the year 2000 with nervous anticipation thanks to the rumors of how the world would end thanks to the Y2K Bug.

The Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation were the popular consoles of the year. Sega introduced it's final piece of gaming hardware with the Dreamcast in September of 1999. Gamers on the go were enjoying their GameBoy Colors - more hardcore gamers may have been enjoying the Neo Geo Pocket.

Here are some highlights for video games in 1999:

Team Fortress 2 is announced -- but is delayed until 2007. It goes through a drastic change in visual style ending up with a cartoonish look reminiscent of Pixar's animated movie "The Incredibles.”

Popular Half-Life 3rd-party mod Counter-Strike is born and immediately becomes an astounding success. It would later become a commercial modification, as well as a standalone game.

Halo: Combat Evolved is publically announced during 1999's Macworld. Steve Jobs unveils that it will be released simultaneously on Mac OS and Windows. Halo was also originally going to be a real-time strategy game. It is later released in 2001 on the Microsoft Xbox, as a first-person shooter. Today, the Halo franchise is one of Microsoft's biggest cash cows for the Xbox, featuring 2 direct sequels (Halo 2 and 3), a spin-off sequel (Halo 3: ODST), and a real-time strategy title (Halo Wars). 2010 will see the release of the next game in the series, Halo: Reach.

PlayStation gamers get their first glimpse of the creepy, sleepy town of Silent Hill. Since 1999 there have been numerous console releases, including a feature length film.

Online gaming becomes an addiction in 1999 thanks to EverQuest. It was even lovingly nicknamed EverSmack and EverCrack to demonstrate its addictive properties. Today, EverQuest is still around but is hardly the mainstream success it was 10 years ago. World of WarCraft is now the reigning champ in the MMORPG genre, and has been for the last 5 years.

Ever wanted to punch Mario in his stupid, plumber/princess-saving face? N64 owners were earning that privilege with Super Smash Bros on the N64, Nintendo's last cartridge-based console. Sequels were released for the GameCube in 2001 and again in 2008 for the Wii.

PC gamers will forever remember the name SHODAN thanks to the creepy techno-thriller System Shock 2. While System Shock 3 never saw the light of day, gamers today are anticipating the sequel to System Shock's spiritual successor, BioShock, in early 2010.

The final Ultima, Ultima IX: Ascension is released to generally negative reception thanks to a ton of bugs. 1997's Ultima Online still continues to exist today, but the Ultima name will never hold the weight and greatness that it once did. Richard Garriott, aka Lord British, and other Ultima Online developers created a new online game, Tabula Rasa, but in February 2009, its severs were closed.

The world of 2009 might not be ready for a game controlled by a skateboard peripheral, but without 1999's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, we wouldn't have anything to complain about today.

How many final fantasies can a game have? Well, at the time, eight was the magic number. Final Fantasy VIII had a lot of shoes to fill after the much-beloved 1997's Final Fantasy VII.

Ten years later, we're expected to be graced by both parts XIII and XIV in 2010, with Final Fantasy XIII being the first official Final Fantasy console game to receive an Xbox 360 version, as well.

If you told a Sega fan back in 1999 that in 10 years his beloved Sega mascot, Sonic, would be on a Nintendo console you would have been accused of blasphemy. Sega released Sonic Adventure in September of 1999 for the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast was for all intents and purposes, a failure and limped along for about two years before Sega pulled the plug on it and focused on software development. In 2002, the first Sonic Team game was released on the Nintendo GameCube, a port of the 2001 Dreamcast sequel: Sonic Adventure 2. Critically, the Sonic games have been poorly received since 1999's Sonic Adventure, with many people calling for a complete reboot of the series.

Medal of Honor is released for the PlayStation by Electronic Arts. It will later spawn an entire line of World War II themed First-Person Shooters, which also helped pave the way for Activision's Call of Duty/Modern Warfare series that is so insanely popular.

A lot has happened in the last 10 years, and these were just some of highlights from 1999. Microsoft has built quite an impressive reputation with it's Xbox and Xbox 360 systems. Sega is now focused solely on software, which can be prominently found on Nintendo's consoles--something that would have made Sega fanboys cry for your blood in 1999.

What kind of changes will take place in the gaming industry over the next 10 years? Could we see Nintendo games on the Xbox or PlayStation? Or Xbox games on the PlayStation, or vice versa?

I'd call you crazy today for making such claims, but as history has shown: nothing is impossible.


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Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Mike Rohde Says I had a tough time trying to describe the reasons why I don't like Left 4 Dead 2. I understand it's a popular game, it's received a lot of hype and attention and it's a game that you're *supposed* to like; after all, the game involves zombies, guns, coop play and it's hip. But for some reason, I just don't have fun playing the game and I've been having a hard time understanding why it's not fun. And then it dawned on me: the game is cheap.

Left 4 Dead 2 has cheap gameplay, cheap weapons, cheap graphics, and a cheap premise. The game doesn't offer a true single player campaign and doesn't even pretend to have a story (except that zombies are taking over and you have to escape). This is a $30 game with a $60 price point (at the time of this writing you can buy it new from Amazon for $50).

To really enjoy this game you need at least four good friends who want to play at the same time you do. After you play through the maps once, you can replay on the different variations and set the difficultly higher, but *yawn* who cares? If you play it once, you've played it a hundred times, which apparently some people do. I was working through this game the other day and I heard someone say, I could play this game all day long. I thought to myself, Whhaa?? You find shooting stupid AI zombies more compelling than the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2?

L4D2 offers no ranking, no leveling up, no upgrades…it's just a cheap game.

I realize there are probably two camps here: the MW2 fans and the L4D2 fans and may the two never meet. I'm clearly in the MW2 camp. Although, I have to say, I tried very hard to like L4D2. And there were some times I had some fun with it. But that was only when I synched up with some cool people who played in the spirit of teamwork. In those brief moments I witnessed what this game is supposed to be about. But those moments were rare. More often than I not, I was put into a game where no one cared about nuthin. If I was being strangled then no one came back to help. If I was low on health, no one offered a health pack. So be it.

But the worst, the absolute worst, was when I played with the same person from start to finish: we experienced the highs and lows of the game, and somehow, someway, we managed to reach the rescue vehicle. But just as the boat came in to rescue the team, at the last minute I get jacked up by a special infected. What did my comrade do? Did he come back to help me on my feet like I did for him so many times in the past hour? No. He didn't. He just left me for dead…

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December 8, 2009

The Saboteur: First Impressions

Dale Culp says: When the first thing I see upon opening a game's box is a code to download a patch that unlocks virtual boobies in the game, I know I'm off to a good start. When the first thing I see upon starting a new game is a dancing girl and some virtual boobies, well, that's like 11/10 - and I don't even score games. Pandemic Studios sure knew how to get a gamer's attention.


After a few moments of this distasteful exploitation of the female figure -- which I dutifully skipped past as fast as I could, like a true gentleman -- you meet The Saboteur himself, Sean Devlin. Sean Devlin is an Irish-born mechanic turned driver who hangs out among the racing groups of Paris, France. He likes fast cars and fast women, but not always in that order. His impetus for becoming as big a headache as possible for the Nazis who are occupying France is that they killed his best friend. Also, they're a bunch of jerks. In one of the first missions, you break up a bunch of Nazis harassing some locals. Of course, I chose to do this by driving through them at a high rate of speed -- which may or may not have resulted in the Parisians' deaths, but at least those nasty Nazis are gone. Hey, don't judge... if the game says I completed the mission than what's a little collateral damage between friends and innocent bystanders? Either way, we moved on and never spoke of it again.


After blowing up a few things, the game takes you back 3 months, back to when things were nicer, back to that day when you were in the big race and your best friend got killed. Remember that? And that senior trip to Paris? And that cafe with that waiter... What was his name? Jean-Luc! Ahh, good times. Good times. Killing Nazis and racing cars, that's how Sean Devlin celebrates the moments of his life!


Hopefully, by now, you've figured out how to play the game and are ready to start doing this stuff for real. That is, unless you're still at the beginning of the game, staring at topless dancers. It's OK to move on, really. You come back. You're going to be seeing those virtual boobs again, I promise. You should really see more of the game because it's pretty good.


The Saboteur is probably most notable for its graphics scheme, which has the world in black-and-white with splashes of red and yellow. The lack of color is meant to represent the oppression of the Nazi regime and the hopeless, bleak despair of the citizens of Paris. As The Saboteur, your job is to bring back their hope by throwing a few monkey wrenches into the Nazis' plans, spitting directly into Der Fuhrer's face. Bringing back hope and inspiration to the people of Paris returns the colors of the world. You can actually see how different areas of Paris have color and the other areas that are still under oppression are in black-and-white. Of course, it's more personal for Devlin than simply liberating France. Also, it's a lot of fun. There are plenty of other details, however, that come off as some really nice touches. Like the way music sounds after getting into a car, as though it's being broadcast over AM airwaves and coming out of a tinny, low-fi car speaker, and then it slowly becomes clearer and part of the background. It's an interesting effect that might be easily missed if you're just running and gunning constantly.


Another nice touch is the automatic cover system that plants you square against a wall, or crouching behind a solid surface, simply by running into it. You can vault over obstacles just as quickly and easily by pressing a button, as well. The gunplay could be a little better as the lock-on doesn't always lock-on, but it's pretty easy to kill bad guys while avoiding fire -- as long as you aren't playing on "Feckin' Hard" which is, honest to God, the actual name of the hardest difficulty level.


Now, you might be thinking, "Oh, boy... Here come those pesky Nationalsozialists we all love to hate -- the greatest whipping boys anyone could have ever asked for. Who would we possibly have to shoot at in modern, 21st Century video games if it weren't for Germany's biggest screw-up of the 20th Century?" And, sure, there's plenty of room to make the argument that this is simply Grand Theft Auto with Nazis and a novel graphical style, but I like it. The story and setting is interesting and the gameplay is fun. For once, I'm not playing a criminal, clawing his way to the top, or an immigrant whose only chance at the American Dream is to steal as much as he can. I'm playing a genuinely interesting character with a real motivating factor for the terrible things he's doing. I like that you can either sneak in and out, quiet as a mouse, or throw some gasoline on the hornet's nest and really stir shit up, depending on how you want to play. Plus, the guy voicing Sean Devlin sounds a lot like Chief O'Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I'm getting a real kick out of that. That all said, based on my first impressions, I'm totally digging The Saboteur. So far, good game.


First Impressions: Might & Magic Clash of Heroes

Chris Nitz Says Might & Magic has finally landed on the DS! Fans of the series take note, this is not what you are used to. The game is still engaging, but there is a departure from the existing history already set forth by the PC games. This is not a bad thing as Ubisoft did a great job of creating an interesting game for those on the go.

The story so far is ok. Demons are breaking into the world, as they have done many times before. They have a plan this time though. They are going to pit the humans against the elves. It is up to you to stop this madness and restore peace to the land.

Where the game really takes off is it's approach to the battle system. No only is there the strategy of unit movement and how to best the enemy, but a small puzzle game takes front stage as well. The basics are to match three units of the same color to form an attack. These units will attack whatever is right above them on the enemy screen. The units will run directly at the enemy if the path is clear.

Of course, there is more to this than just a match three and win. Each unit has a different attack counter. This is how many turns it takes before the unit will actually fight. This comes into play when trying to counter an attacking enemy, or fighting a moving target.

Match six units of the same color to form a stronger attack, which is also called a fusion attack. Stack three units of the same color sideways to form walls. This is done with just the normal units.

Elite units attack after two normal units of the same color stack are stacked on them. Elite units have special abilities like increasing enemy attack timers, or jumping enemy walls. Champions take four normal units to attack. Champions have bigger special abilities, and do a whole lot more damage.

If two units get ready to attack during the same turn, they form a chain attack. The more chains that get stacked together, the bigger the damage multiplier. This really takes off when units can be called to and from battle. The only units that cannot do this are the elite and champion units that have been defeated in battle. Lose these and it is time to spend some money and resources to restock them for the next boss fight.

After so many attacks, a magic ability becomes available. This magical ability gets stronger as the main character levels up. Use this ability to destroy units, or directly attack the opponent. This is mighty handy for taking out an enemies elite unit or ending a battle quickly.

This might sound complex, but the game does a good job on the tutorials and introducing you to these fighting techniques. There is even a tutorial option on the main screen.

Not all fights are as simple as just attacking the opponent. Some specific enemies shift from side to side every turn. Other battles include beating the enemy while a good guy moved amongst the enemy ranks and could not get hit by your attack. It was nice to see a mixture of battles so early in the game.

Unit selection starts to get obnoxious right away though. Pixies, archers, deer, druids, bears, and trents are usable before ever leaving the first area. This sounds great until one realizes that only three normal units and two elite or champion units can be used in the constructed army. All of these units have their positives and negatives. The one plus is whatever units end up in the army, they can be assigned to specific colors. This way, a pixie can be used soley for building walls or triggering the higher end units for battle.

This game is colorful. The sprites in the armies are well detailed and fit the bill for looks. Having a dragon on the screen will dwarf a pixie. The stylus is not necessary for the game, but can be used to help speed things along. The top screen is where the enemy resides and the bottom screen is for your army.

The one complaint I have is there is no way to tell what level baddie you're engaging until you engage it. This is terribly annoying when you take on a side mission to attack this or that foe. I often would get into a fight with an enemy that was three levels higher than me. It was a bit annoying and forced me to play the main quest line first and come back for the secondary quests.

This game got very addictive very quickly. It does a good job blending the strategy genre with the puzzle genre. You might even forget you're playing a match-three puzzle game. I have yet to see if there is a way to run around and level up, but so far the fights have been fun and not terribly frustrating. Look for the full review in the upcoming weeks.

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December 7, 2009

Demo Impressions: God of War 3

Chris Nitz Says People who pick up the God of War collection will get a code to download the God of War 3 demo. This is the demo that the lucky people at E3 2009 got to play. This demo clocks in at just shy of 3 Gigs. I can say the time it takes to download this demo is well worth it. The demo runs roughly 15 minutes in length and includes some awesome battles.

The demo shows that some thought was put into the small details. When Kratos jumps onto a cyclops, there are noticeable cuts that appear in the cyclops's skin. The same is true when Kratos fights a minotaur. Another noticeable touch is Kratos's armor glows in the light of a fire. These small details help in making the game feel much more engaging.

The music is not excluded from this attention to detail either. The demo packed a great orchestral soundtrack that fits the mood and action of the game. The whole presentation is top notch.

Beating the minotaur will leave his intestines spewing forth. Kratos will rip the eye from the cyclops and will come out a blood soaked badass. The blood flows like a river in this game. Kratos can put down an ordinary enemy, punch them a few times, and rip their head off and throw it to the ground. I hope you like crimson because you will see a lot of it.

While most of the game looks superb, there are some odd textures in places, like the shields of statues are pixelated. With so much attention to detail put into so many areas of the game, this is a bit off putting. Hopefully, the final version of this game fixes more of these oddities.

Quicktime events make their triumphant return. The issue is that instead of the quicktime buttons showing up in the center of the screen, they appear at the edge of the screen. This is a bit annoying on a larger TV as you have to watch the sides for what button to press. It does take away from the action.

Transitional animinations also have a bit of weirdness to them. Jumping on the cyclops is awesome. But, when Kratos jumps onto the cyclops with his hand weapons it will quickly switch to his blades. It's an odd transition.

The biggest issue with the demo is that just as the action gets going, the demo ends. This demo does a great job of getting its hooks into you and making you crave more. As a God of War fan I crave more. If the demo is any indication of the final game, this is going to be one awesome game. When will March get here?

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Rogue Warrior | First Impression

Erik Kubik Says I’m crying as I write this. They are not tears of happiness nor tears of sadness. I’m crying tears of rage. I don’t think in my time as a gamer I have played a more unpolished POS FPS game such as Rogue Warrior. Before I got the game, I literally knew nothing about it except that it is based on the true events of Richard Marcinko, a veteran Navy Seal. It is published by Bethseda, which led me to believe as I scanned the manual that the game would be of the highest quality and not some shovel ware better left to the PS2.

The first few hours of game play were torture. The graphics are so bad they look very last gen. The plot is sort of there, I’m chasing after terrorists? The enemy A.I. is terrible: half the time they get stuck in walls. I can run around and perform “kill” attacks, which are supposed to be stealthy instant melee kills even after I’ve entered the room with guns blazing. I can also empty an entire clip into an enemy and they are still standing. It must be the super secret body armor they are wearing. Although after dying several times in a 10-minute period I can see Richard does not have access to this armor, which is probably why he swears more than I do.

The game sort of reminded me the ps2/Xbox game “Black.” Except that Black had decent graphics for the time, a diverse weapon selection, and interesting levels containing tons of big explosions. I do seem to be getting a lot of trophies, but if the single player is this bad, that probably means the multiplayer is going to hit a new low.

Stay tuned for the full review very soon.


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December 6, 2009

Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles video review

Dale Culp says: For your viewing pleasure, Shawn Lebert, The Goozex Report's Lead Video Editor, and Amanda Kay of GamingAngels.com bring you this video review of Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles.

December 4, 2009

Penny Arcade’s Child Play Charity

Erik Kubik Says Most of us have long Christmas lists that include a number of the latest games. We have to remember though, it’s not only the season to be getting, it’s also the season to be giving. So, why not give a little something back? Why not donate a few bucks so sick kids can have something to do while they are in the hospital? Cheapassgamer.com (CAG) is a big supporter of the Penny Arcade’s Child Play Charity. In 2007, Cheapassgamer raised $27,000; in 2008, the site raised $32,000. This year the site is hoping to raise $40,000.

So, what is Child’s Play Charity? The charity’s website states “Since 2003, over 100,000 gamers worldwide have banded together through Child’s Play, a community based charity grown and nurtured from the game culture and industry. Over 5 million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception. You can choose to purchase requested items from their online retailer wish lists, or make a cash donation that helps out Child’s Play hospitals everywhere.”

Based on this information, I could order something from Amazon.com and have it sent to one of the charity’s participating hospitals. Or, I could donate some cash.

To make it even more interesting and to provide some motivation for you to help this worthwhile charity, Cheapassgamer.com is having a contest! For every $5 you donate to Penny Arcade’s Child Play Charity, you will receive an entry into a contest with tons of prizes. You do not have to be a member of the site since the donations are linked to your PayPal account. Some of the prizes include a $500 Amazon gift card, and $300 to Play Asia. Some of the members of CAG are even donating prizes--DS bundles, games, gift cards, Wii points cards, as well as other cool prizes.

I strongly urge gamers and non-gamers to donate. I know the members of Goozex will find it in their hearts to donate to sick kids. Learn more about the contest in this thread on CheapAssGamer.com and more about the charity.

And have yourself a very happy holiday season!


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December 3, 2009

The Elite Trading Circle and Thanks for the 200 Point Bonus

Mike Rohde Says So, this is what I want to do: I want to go to Goozex.com, click My Preferences, and then click a button that says, “I want to make trades only with people who actually mail their games on time and also don’t claim a game I sent is broke when it ain’t.” Or more succinctly, that button could be labeled, “I don’t want to trade with douche bags.” Or, if you want to put a positive spin on it, the button could say, “I want to create my own personal elite trading group that consists of non-douche bags.” (I'm being critical of Goozex members because I care, I really, really care. If I didn't care, I wouldn't be so critical.)

Yes, I am asking for a Goozex Feature Request that allows you to select criteria that determines who you trade with. I’ve been an upstanding Goozex citizen for quite some time now and I believe I’ve earned the right to not trade with douche bags. There, I said it.

How would Goozex go about doing this? It’s simple really. Just have the ability to filter out anyone who has given or has received negative feedback in the past six months. The button you click for that filter could read, “Only trade with cool people.”

Or how about this? What about a feature that allows you to create your own elite trading circle? The feature would allow you to create user defined lists of those people you prefer to trade with. And they in turn would select you as someone they prefer to trade with. So, if I bought Left 4 Dead 2, and then a week later decided the game blows monkey balls I could put it up for trade. One of my elite friends, who doesn’t realize Left 4 Dead 2 blows monkey balls wants it real quick. Boom-O! I can send it to my elite friend within a day or two and in turn he’ll provide positive feedback. He gets a game quick and I don’t have to worry about a douche bag working the system by saying they got a bum game. Sounds good, huh? The only problem is that eventually you’d have to go outside your circle to get new games; or you’d have to keep inviting new people into your circle to enhance the library of games within your circle. Sure, this idea has some flaws and drawbacks, but it beats out having someone accept your request for Tiger Woods 09 and then not send a confirmation until a week later…

This all might sound very negative and my apologies to the fine folks at Goozex if it does. But my brother recently got the shaft by two different gamers who promised to send Batman, who never did send the game, and I am still waiting on Tiger Woods to show up (there are 5 days left before I can vent out with negative feedback). So, there is some relevancy behind my Feature Request of wanting to only trade with cool people. Maybe perhaps we need a button to click that reads, “No douche bags allowed.”

Now for some praise.
I am very much in favor of this 200 point bonus system that is in effect if you trade a game within a month of its release. I am guessing this is spurring gamers to trade games sooner than they might normally do. I recently received a confirmation for Assassin’s Creed II. This is a very recent release and I’m already getting it. I’m very happy about that and I have a feeling that this 200 point bonus has something to do with it. However, it’s not doing much for me getting Borderlands, cause I’ve been stuck at a Long Wait for a long, long time. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

All in all though, Goozex is doing the best they can. It’s not their fault some gamers are douche bags. Not everyone can be as cool as the people I would put in my elite trading circle.


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