Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MONDAY....NIGHT....COMBAAAAATTTT!!!

I have been waiting for Monday Night Combat to finally be released since I first caught wind of the game at PAX East. The mere description of the game as "Team Fortress 2 meets Defense of the Ancients" was enough to sell me. Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), is a Warcraft 3 mod that ranks in my Top Ten all time games. Well until League of Legends came out, but my point still stands.

Basically DOTA has two teams of 5 battling to see who can destroy the others HQ first. You're aided by a constant stream of minions, some ranged, some melee and a series of towers along three possible paths. Each side attempts to "push" their way through the towers into the other's base. Monday Night Combat's Crossfire mode is *exactly* like this, except that anyone on the team can spend cash to build and upgrade towers. You can also spend cash and get a slightly stronger wave of minions to spawn on that side.

The big difference is of course, that Monday Night Combat is a third person shooter. The cash you earn by killing enemies can be spent to upgrade one of 4 skills, 3 actives and one passive. The classes are all fairly interesting, though as of now, the Gunner is pretty Over-powered with Support right behind him.

The Gunner is like a Team Fortress 2 Heavy, complete with a minigun that has to keep spinning for full potential. Support is a Medic/Engineer hybrid that can lay down unique turrets called "firebases" which lay down a WORLD OF PAIN. Support can heal turrets, minions or teammates, the only class which can do so...oh, and he can call in an air strike. It's more like a direct bomb drop then a carpet bomb.

Assault is the token average character. Yes, I did do that on purpose.

Sniper is a sniper with a point'n'shoot style instead of worrying about wind like in CoD. Aim, and the bullet goes there. Headshots can one shot everything except a tank.

The Tank is a dude in an ugly egg shaped suit. With a blowtorch like weapon that's barely better then using a melee attack (especially since melee attacks do CRAZY damage.) The Tank can take damage, but he has issues dishing it out.

The Assassin can stealth and pull off one hit backstab kills. Fairly standard, but also a bit gimped as she can not handle enemy turrets at all and struggles against larger minions, such as the Jackbot or Brute.

I only played for a little over an hour today but it was a blast. Going to take awhile to get used to it and find which class/skills work for me. For those that care, the achievements are very easy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

(TrueAchievements Repost) Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper Review

In order to write this review I first had to find the address for a computer technician to fix my keyboard. I needed to go old school and use an actual phone book as my computer was out of order of course. Sadly, the only phone book in the area was up on the balcony of a third floor apartment. No one was home, so I had to mug a fireman and take his ladder. In order to mug this fireman, I had to first secure a hefty wooden tree branch for use as a makeshift club. This meant I had to distract the squirrel on the branch since I did not want to hurt him. To do this, I had to find my nuts.

Okay, so I did not actually have to do any of that, but if that was tough for you to read just stop right now and do not play this game. Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is an old school adventure game. I am talking Myst adventure games here. Originally a PC Game in the U.K., now a 360 game here in the States (as well as the U.K.), Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is an acquired taste.

Plot

You play as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, attempting to solve the infamous Jack the Ripper murders that took London by storm in 1888. The world's first sensationalized serial killer (Jack the Ripper stirred up media interest like no one's business) was never actually caught, making this an excellent case for Sherlock Holmes. The game, surprisingly, uses the actual timeline, locations and suspects of the Jack the Ripper murders. By playing this game, you will know the actual history of the Jack the Ripper murders.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED - LEARNED SOMETHING FROM A VIDEO GAME

Gameplay

Unlike the PC version, you can play in either a first or third person perspective. Third is easier to get around the drab rooms and corridors of 19th century London, but first makes it much easier to grab clues and items. Which you will be doing. A lot. The same scenario plays out over and over again. Sherlock and Watson will be in the office and then will get a clue. You rush off as one of the Dynamic Duo to investigate the clue but in doing so, must go on the sort of subquest hell not seen since Breath of Fire 2.

The solutions to most of the puzzles are quite logical. So logical in fact that I found myself missing an important clue right in front of my face. A few will most likely, require a guide, despite having one by my side I actually enjoyed figuring some of them out on my own. I know! this day and age, someone taking the time to figure out logic puzzles! Go figure.

Control

The controls will make a few of those puzzles significantly harder then they should be as this was originally a PC game, a mouse and keyboard is clearly the control scheme this was designed to use in the first place. Finding the right pixel can reach annoyance levels akin to finding the loose brick in the dungeon of Maniac Mansion.

Combining items in your inventory and flipping between menu screens is a bit convoluted, but you get used to it. There is a term for control schemes like this...Stockholm Syndrome.

Graphics

Horrible. Good thing you are not playing this for them.

Sound and Music

The voice acting is spot on and did not drive me to the brink of insanity. With the amount of British accents present, you would think it would be incredible grating and over the top, but no, the voice work actually enhances the story. Nuances can be picked up if you actually stop and listen to the plot advancing, one suspect at a time.

Music is nearly non-existent but the ambient noise is not intrusive either, so given the excellent voice work, we will just call this one a wash.

Achievements

With a guide, this is one of the fastest 1k's available. Only 4 achievements are miss-able and the rest you will earn naturally by finishing the story.

Conclusion

Well, the graphics are horrendous and the control will make you scream before you submit and accept it as your master, but to be brutally honest?

I found the game to actually be fairly amusing.

Granted, that is almost entirely because of the historical accuracy on display throughout the entire game and my own background in History. The old-school adventure gameplay is also charming once you realize exactly what it is you are getting yourself into with this game. Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is such an acquired taste that I can not recommend this for everyone.

If the thought of old school adventure in a historical setting sounds remotely appealing to you, then grab this one on the cheap and have a fun weekend.

If the thought of having to read while playing a game confuses you, then stay away.

(TrueAchievements Repost): Alan Wake Review

Alan Wake is a very tough game to review. The major draw for this game is the storyline, which stands head and shoulders above most other 360 games. The influences of Stephen King and David Lynch are felt all throughout the game, in particular, the closing music of Episode 1 which is straight out of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, starring the late, great Dennis Hopper. Ultimately, as with the work of David Lynch, everyone will walk away with a different experience from Alan Wake.

Gameplay

The theme of light and dark is taken quite literally when it comes time to actually play the game. Using a flashlight, you have to remove protective layers of darkness before opening fire with a trusty sidearm. I for one, never got bored of this, not once environmental hazards such as loose power lines and red exploding barrels were introduced. The cast of enemies is very, very small and the constant need to shine light first, shoot second could get old for some people very, very quickly.

When you are not shining light on the denizens of darkness you are engaging in some very light puzzle solving. This is basic "hit a switch" puzzling and only serves to break up the gunplay. Vehicle sections also break up the action but they work nicely into the plot and when they do pop up, are a welcome diversion.

A major problem with the puzzle solving, running and gunning gameplay however is that at all times you are reminded Alan Wake is a video game. The ever present HUD always shows you where to go and as a result, the tension level is not as high as it could be had the game been HUDless. The option to turn it off does not exist.

Graphics

It is painfully obvious that the majority of the graphical horsepower went to the lighting effects. The lighting is amazing, easily the best I have ever seen. The character models on the other hand would not be out of place in a PS2 game. Do yourself a favor, and when characters are talking, try not to look at their mouths.

They did manage to make Alan's wife appear to be wearing painted on jeans, so that is a plus.

Controls

Clunky is a nice way to put it. The game demands tight control while playing on Nightmare difficulty but it will fight you. Alan turns slowly and the aiming can be very awkward, both with your flashlight and a gun. Alan is not a space marine, he is a writer, but moving *that* slow is just annoying.

Sound and Music

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick is the soundtrack for this game amazing. Every chapter ends just as television episode would, with a closing song that accurately captures the mood. The song choice at the end of Chapter 1 is what hooked me, but it was one sequence during Chapter 4 that had the best dichotomy of music to in game action that I have witnessed in years. In fact, that moment gets its very own call out.

The Moment

Every game, no matter what genre or platform, has The Moment. That One Thing which happens and makes you sit up and go "DAMN!" Final Fantasy 7, with the murder of Aeris, is perhaps the easiest example to recognize. Alan Wake, towards the end of Chapter 4 as you're approaching an old, decrepit stage in the middle of a field....it has one of those moments. Gameplay and music meld and make you feel like you are an unstoppable force of destruction.

Achievements

Some of the collectibles in this game, such as the manuscript pages, tv shows and radio shows reveal bits about the world of Alan Wake and are worth your time to collect. TV shows, especially those that are showing "Night Springs", think The Twilight Zone, are really cool. A guide is recommended if you want all the achievements, and a second play through is mandatory, but if you skip the story completely it is a quick game.

Conclusion

Gameplay is fun and different but not for everyone as it can get old quick if the plot does not grab you around the neck like Andre the Giant. Music is amazing and an example of the right way to work it into a game. The abundance of collectibles can be daunting for achievement seekers but the real issue comes from the horrible character models and clunky controls.

The very best part of the game can not be mentioned, as that is the plot. If you are looking for something different, Alan Wake is an unique experience. It may just last you a weekend, but like a good book, you will go cover to cover.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Transformers Multiplayer: How I Learned To Sneak Up and Insta-Gib

Transformers: War for Cybertron has an actual, Call of Duty influenced online mode that shockingly, is quite good. It is class based with each class having its own abilities, weapons and vehicle mode. The Scout can cloak, use both a shotgun and the sniper rifle. They transform into very quick moving, machine gun packing cars. Oh, and if you sneeze on them, they die. Yup, each class has different health bars. The Scout only has 4 bars of health.

Now the Soldier, the bulky longest health bar in the game minigun packing tank (no really, they turn into tanks) is my least favorite class. They move soooo slow and with the exception of the minigun, their weapons are horrible.

The Leader is front line support with heavy, explosive weapons. Buff allies, shield allies and blow the crap out of things with grenades and a high powered ion cannon. Like Optimus Prime, they turn into trucks. I also hate this class. Again, slow, unwieldy and my aim is horrible with that Ion Cannon.

The Scientist, widely considered to be the weakest class with a health bar of 3 blocks, can be killed by being looked at funny. They turn into Jets, can fly (or hover really), heal allies, spawn a defensive sentry or, my personal favorite, disguise themselves as a Scientist on the enemy team. In a great touch, the Autobot/Deception emblem does NOT change. Easily the best part of multiplayer is disguising yourself, weaseling your way in close to an enemy, and blowing them away in one shot with the EMP shotgun. Your not invisible, so you have to play the part and "hide in plain sight" in order to succeed. The playstyle required is unlike anything, outside of course of the Spy in Team Fortress 2. Even then, the spy had to backstab someone, the Scientist?

Shotgun to the face. Much more satisfying.

Sadly Tranformers uses the Gears of War 2 ranking system. Halfway to level 25 is level 18. Yup. I'm going to spend a very long time playing this game in order to max out each class.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dante's Inferno: From AWESOME to BLAH in 3 Levels

I have tried a few times now to put my thoughts regarding Dante's Inferno into writing. An essay on how the level design is a great strength for the first two levels, and a major weakness through the backend of the game. Starting off with the very first soul you can punish or absolve is Pontius Pilate really sets the mood. By the end, you're encountering such legendary historical figures as "Merchant from Florence." If you're going to adhere to the actual epic poem, well, don't. You already have Dante wandering through Hell using Death's Scythe to cleave demons in half. "Faithfulness to source material" is a Charon that has already sailed.

Again, after writing that paragraph, I had to pause for a few minutes and do something else (reading a WWE Money in the Bank PPV recap) before continuing. I am THAT ANGRY over what a WASTED OPPORTUNITY this game is! The great moments just...run out...and by the time you get Heresy, which has no boss....at all....it's like the designers gave up. Anger is another circle that is just dull. No boss, just a series of fights while dealing with a giant demon that in turn, leads to a fairly cool moment. For five seconds. Then poor design brings it right back down to earth again.

I can not fault the graphics or the control, which is tight like the backside of Emma Watson. (She's 18 right?) The music, well that I can fault. There is not much music to be found in the depths of Hell. What little is used, serves to highlight the action on screen which is cool and all but the ambient sounds gave the Wife of Thunder (WoT) a headache.

In fact, the ambient sounds are perhaps more annoying than the seagulls from Deadliest Catch. Climbable surfaces are made of screaming souls that DO NOT SHUT UP. Some of them shout things specific to that circle, such as "I'll slit your throat and feed it to you" in the Circle of Violence. Most though, are just moanings and wailings. Nevermind the disturbing noises of the evil demonic babies with razorblade arms.

This is a game that for the first two levels, I thought was amazing. Then merely good for the next two (Gluttony and Greed), but once it hit the fifth level, Anger, I just wanted to get it over with as soon as I could. The final boss fight against Lucifer was satisfying at least. The ending? Not so much.

Is Visceral really, honestly planning on a sequel for Purgatory? I've read that poem too, and unlike the Inferno which lends itself quite well to a video game translation actually, Purgatory does not. The essence of Purgatory is that it is a place of...well...waiting. Not good, not bad, just boring.

Which sounds an awful lot like a game they already made.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write Like....


I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




So I plugged in one of my reviews from 360voice, Dog Reviews The Internet, into the site I Write Like/ and Chuck Palhniuk came out. Who's Chuck you ask?

He wrote the book Fight Club.

Not at all who I was expecting (I would have loved oh, say, Kurt Vonnegut or even Chuck Klosterman myself) but hey, writing in the spirit of one of the oddest authors of the last 30 years? I will take that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blizzard's RealID System Removed Before It Went In

In case you haven't heard, Blizzard was planning, with the launch of Starcraft 2
later this month, to have your actual, legal name show up in all of your postings on their official forum. All of the internetz lost their minds with this news. Showing your real name was supposed to lead to decreased trolling and generally bring down people acting like douchebags.

Tuesday night, I asked the Wife of Thunder about this, as she is a female gamer and has a very different outlook on things then I do. For example, when she first saw the Tzeentch Lord of Change model for Warhammer, she commented that it looked like he was wearing one of Elvis' jumpsuits:



Her first thought was that now women would stay away from World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2 out of fear of being targeted. Both online and offline, it's a major issue for female gamers. Exactly how much of an issue was unknown to me then, but after a few more days of uproar, oh boy do I see how much it means for a female gamer to be anonymous. Stalking, both on and offline, is a major issue that well how to put this nicely....ummm....hmmm...well the sort of World of Warcraft player that gets REALLY REALLY into it is exactly the sort of guy that would stalk a female. See Guild, The. Episode 1.

Penny Arcade today brought to light a connection, just hours before Blizzard pulled the plug on RealID, of a business deal with Blizzard and Facebook: Well, from May, but I never noticed it...which is what Blizzard wanted!

No wonder they wanted to use real names for their games.

Considering I do everything under the name "Dog of Thunder" I'm not exactly on board with the whole "real name" concept, though it's not a huge secret either (just "like" me on Facebook!). ARGH! See what I did there? Facebook has wormed its way into every aspect of the internet, but for now, its evil tentacles are leaving our internet forums alone.

Give it time. This issue will come up again, and again and again. In a few generations, the whole concept of anonymity will be a historical relic. Like the Wii or the 8 track.

What's Next?

For the last 2 years and 2 months, I have been an active member and contributor to 360voice.com, an amazing 360 site. On my year anniversary of joining, I was raised to become a 360voice Community Expert (Mod basically). Even dealing with a death threat, well three, when reworking the way that Genre Badges worked on the site did not chase me away. So what finally did?

At first I thought it was my annoyance over dealing with people all the time through the veil of anonymity that is the non-Blizzard internet. Little support issues here and there, whining about updates not happening fast enough, all these minor things were adding up. Once I realized I could not handle one more posting that looked like it was written by a lemur, I knew I was at a breaking point. Thankfully there was a waiting idiot to push me over the edge where I needed to go in the first place.

It is not that I want to abandon 360voice, it is just that I want to take the time I devoted to others and use it for myself. I am removing all those time sinks that stopped me from updating my own little piece of the internet like I wanted. Instead of dealing with an existing community and helping it function on a daily basis, I want to build my own community. Carve out a little piece of the internet for myself and see what grows. Who knows, it could be nothing, it could be something.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WANTED: Weapons of Fate - The Perfect Movie-Tie In

I just finished up Wanted: Weapons of Fate earlier today and it was incredibly satisfying. Wanted had spent a long time on my "wish list" of games that I really wanted to play for one reason or another. The list includes such luminaries as 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, WET and The Wheelman. Not exactly the top of the metacritic or anything. Wanted, with very low expectations, managed to meet each and every one of them. Sadly, this makes it one of the best movie games I've ever played.

While Wanted may actually be based off of the comic series by Mark Millar, it's well, very loosely based. VERY. The comic series, released in 2003, answers the question "What would have happened if the Legion of Doom had defeated the Justice League?" The universe of Wanted is a dark parody of the DC Universe with no heroes and only villains. Wesley in the comics goes through training, but it's to become a straight up EVIL~! super villain that can "rape an A list celebrity and get away with it." The Wanted comic book series is not for the faint of heart, but at least the movie made an attempt to capture the spirit of the series.

The movie introduced curving bullets, which did not exist in the comics, and thank Jabootu that they did because that one mechanic is done so well in the video game, I did not mind playing it twice and then another 3 runs of the last level. I LOVE picking off fools that think their safe hiding behind cover with a gorgeous slo-mo curving shot to the head. The cover system sucks, aiming is rough sometimes, but the mere existence of the easy to use curving bullets raise this game to a higher level.

Why is that? One thing, just one gameplay mechanic makes me overlook the monotonous enemies, drab locales, horrendous color choices and hysterically poor plot with some of the worst voice acting since Transformers 2. Curving bullets is just pure fun. The slo mo sequences? Also just fun. Once you get a rhythm, you can actually move like The Killer, flowing from cover to cover, popping off curving headshots and just generally being an unhittable avatar of death.

It's short, the last achievement is really annoying, but for just balls out action, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a great game.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Record of Agarest War Unboxing

Unboxing video guest starring the Wife of Thunder. I would've bet money on her response being that it was a Hentai game.

I'll hopefully start playing and recording on Monday, but due to the sheer amount of other games coming in the mail, that'll be pushed back to Wednesday. I've got to run through CSI: Hard Evidence, provided by the 360voice Free Rental program, first and then LEGO Batman....and then WANTED....and THEN I can really get going on my own games.

It's going to be a busy summer of gaming, but with my new Dazzle HD Pro, everyone will get to enjoy it with me!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Never Judge A Game By Its Cover

Again, trying this out for submission to TA, I'm taking another stab at the RPG's influence across other genres next week, especially after a lively debate about Borderlands on 360voice.

By day I may be an avid gamer, but by night I work as a college librarian. Part of my job is suggesting books for the students which is a lot harder then going for "Grand Pearl Poo-bah" in Hexic HD. A major problem I have is getting students to even look at a book without the book jacket. It is disturbing how many college students will read a book if it "looks good." It's a book! It looks like someone was writing on paper!

This got me thinking about Onechanabra: Bikini Samurai Squad. Not only is this game cursed with an obnoxious title (or a great one depending on your point of view), but it also has some of the worst cover art. All that is depicted is Aya, one of the main characters, standing there in her cowboy hat and bikini. Normally a cover would not dissuade people from picking up a game but this particular cover of a scantily clad Japanese woman can, and most likely has, turned people away from what is actually a really good game.

Here's a linkie to the cover art so you can see this for yourself: http://www.forevergeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/onechanbara.jpg

Now, how many people would lump that in with other scantily clad covers such as X-Blades and even Dead or Alive Extreme 2? I will hazard a guess and say most of you did just that. Well don't, because what this cover is concealing, beside a pair of legs that go for miles, is some of the best hack and slash gameplay on the 360. No really, do not be fooled by the bikini or the school girl outfit, the timing based combo system of Onechanabra takes serious skill to reach the full potential.

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad is the perfect storm of a bad title and a bad cover masking great gameplay. Even if the cover was changed to show Aya fighting off a horde of zombies, it would be a more accurate representation of the game. I mean come on, zombies! Every gamer's favorite mindless cannon fodder! I know people that buy games specifically because it has zombies! The back of the Onechanbara box does mention the zombies, but to reach that, you have to pick up the bikini clad cover and turn it over.

The dilemma Onechanbara faces is akin to a Playboy with a really good article inside. Do not be embarrassed to pick it up. Just like I tell male students, there is nothing wrong with picking up a "girly" looking book such as Pride and Prejudice....the version without the zombies....or even Emma, another great work by Jane Austen. Along those lines, I also enjoyed Vanity Fair. You already have an image in your mind about those books based off of society but those books are also some of the greatest of all time.

Do not play a game simply because it might be embarrassing to walk up to the cash register with it, you might be missing out on a great experience.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Preview Image

So I've been really busy wrapping up course work for the semester, grad school applications and the such. Here to tide you over is the title screen of...well...see for yourself...Jabootu knows it's large enough to get your attention...


Monday, March 15, 2010

Know Your History: The RPG

Test running this for eventual submission at TrueAchievements as a running series

My first exposure to Role Playing Games was with Dragon Warrior 3 for the NES back in 1991. My uncle brought it over when he watched my brother and I for the weekend, so I had a first row seat for his fight against the Orochi. On screen, all I could see where the enemies sprites, which would flash when successfully hit by your invisible party, but in my mind, it was a swirling melee with the fighter and soldier characters at the front lines, the wizard behind them flinging ice spells and the hero, decked out in blue and green armor, plunging his sword into the neck of the Orochi and bringing it down. From that moment, I became a fan of Role Playing Games forever.

What appealed the most to a young Dog of Thunder, was leveling up my characters, finding new weapons and armor, that constant forward progress. Even in the fourth grade I was hooked on getting to that next level. I did not even need anything major, just an extra 10 HP, some more STR and maybe some LUCK (always the most useless stat, always.) Character progression was, to me, more important then the story or the graphics. Video games were simpler back then, where if you wanted persistent character progression, you would only be able to play an RPG.

Take a look around today then and find me a game that does not use elements of the early RPGS. Modern Warfare took the concept of leveling and experience to a whole new genre, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a straight up hack and slash title with an XP bar and a skills system. Even Sports games, such as MLB 2k10 and even Madden have begun using leveling systems for their characters. What happened?


When did the defining feature of the RPGs of my youth become so commonplace as to be cliche? Where was the tipping point? Was there one moment when the industry sat up and took notice of all the things that RPGs were doing right? Just how much do modern games owe to the classic RPGs of the 80s and early 90s?

Modern RPGs are understandably influenced by the classics. If you hate the segmented story telling of Final Fantasy 13, then you need to go back to 1990 and Dragon Warrior 4, the first RPG to introduce the concept of separate chapters for separate characters alongside a combat system where you controlled just the main character and set "Battle Options" for your allies. Choosing from "Offensive", "Defensive", "Converse MP", "No MP" and the like, Dragon Warrior 4 has more in common with a RPG released 20 years later then it did with Dragon Warrior 3.

Join me then as I take a modern game, and go backwards to the origin point. Learning along the way where all these features and concepts originated. By knowing and understanding the history of what came before, can we truly appreciate where we are now, and where we are going.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

King Arthur And The Knights of Justice - Complete Series on DVD!

King Arthur and the Knights of Justice

Oh how I loved this series as a kid. Okay, maybe not the series per se, but that bitchin' theme song. Yes, I just used the term "bitchin" and yes, this is a perfectly apt time to use it. The song starts off with Merlin explaining in about 3 seconds the entire plot of the series, and then the killer guitar riff starts up. All the best cartoons can be summed up in 3 seconds. For example:

King Arthur and the Knights of Justice: "From the field of the future, they come to save the kingdom of the past." Done.

Transformers: Giant robots transform into vehicles and shoot each other.

Pinky and the Brain: One is a genius, the other's insane, together they try to take over the world.

Coyote and Roadrunner: Coyote tries to catch Roadrunner.

See? It works! Try explaining something like Yu-Gi-Oh! in 3 seconds and see what happens. Can't do it. Because Yu-Gi-Oh sucks. I'm onto something with this 3 second theory. Anyways, King Arthur and the Knights of Jsutice, come for the amazing introduction, stay for the way cartoons used to be. None of this anime in everything crap, just classic saturday morning cartoon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Transformers: War for Cybertron Gameplay Trailer is teh Awesome

Transformers: War for Cybertron Video Game, Exclusive Gameplay Reveal Trailer | Game Trailers & Videos | GameTrailers.com

Deadspin's Dead Wrestler of the Week

Classy Deadspin tribute to the Classy Miss Elizabeth

Stumbled across an interesting series of articles over at Deadspin.com (the anti-ESPN). Weekly tributes to dead wrestlers, most of whom were the ones I grew up watching. Take this week's entry for example: Miss Elizabeth.

The long time manager for Macho Man Randy Savage, Liz eventually left him and was replaced by Sensational Sherri whom then turned on Savage once he lost a retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 7. What? Are you shocked to learn that I love wrestling? Anyways, Liz enters the ring, chases off Sherri, and reunites with the Macho Man. As a kid, I ate this up, I was 10 when I first watched this on VHS from the local Blockbuster.

Check out the reunion clip here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So Many Games, So Little Time

I haven't forgotten to play lately, just haven't had much time, making X-Men Origins: Wolverine the perfect game for me the last two weeks. There's a multitude of projects I'm trying to get done within the next two weeks that demand most of my attention.

Come March 15th, I'll finally be able to have a regular update schedule with routine DoAX2 time. The joys of graduating and being done with regular classes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What to Buy Dog For His Graduation


http://www.gamestop.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?product_id=76979

The "Really Naughty Edition" of an Aksys strategy RPG. Ah Aksys, I sure do mention them a lot don't I? So I know I'll enjoy the actual game itself, but how can I resist THAT mousepad? Just the look on Mrs. Dog's face alone would make it worthwhile, nevermind the "Yearning Ellis" pillowcase, or the um, suggestive artwork on the case *and* the game CDs. Now that's fan-service dedication that I can respect.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What I Played This Week: Larry, Logan, RPG Maker 2003

Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, as you learned from this week's vlog, got my DoAX2 playing time. It's a horrible, horrible game but I'm at the second dreamscape now which I'll be tackling Monday. It's the Horror dreamscape and after the insanity that was the Wild West, I can only guess how bad this ones going to get. Oh don't worry, you'll hear about it.

When not punishing myself, I started work on X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This game has such a one-track mind on slaughtering hundreds of enemies that you can't help but love it. The kills are bloody and brutal, the controls are solid, graphics are good (not great, but pretty good). I'm having pure fun playing this game and destroying my enemies in all sorts of styles, including impalement, fire, electrocution and good old fashioned, lunge + claws to the face.

Of course I can't play those while at work, and when it's really slow, that's time to bust out the RPG Maker 2003 on my flashdrive! Oh lord, the games you can find through this are unbelievable. Most are of course, "epic, episodic adventures!" with "grand, epic sweeping storylines!" but then, you come across something like this little series:

Generica: The Generic NES RPG


It's an amazing throwback to the real old-school console RPGs. For starters, the story is to retrieve the Generica Gladius which is the only weapon that can kill the Dark Lord. That's it. THAT'S IT. The gameplay is just as bare bones as the story, but it's oddly...addictive. It appeals to the dungeon grinder in me from Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior 3. Generica is easily at the top rung of RPG Maker 2003 titles.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Surfing YouTube At 4 AM

Stumbled arcoss this, the official Mirror's Edge music video. I will say that the Mirror's Edge theme got stuck in my head while playing that game and accidently catching this got it stuck all over again.

Best Shows You Didn't Watch: Defying Gravity


Okay, "best" may be stretching it in this case, but for all my trepidation going into the series, Defying Gravity ended up defying (HA!) my expectations. Created by Shonda Rhimes, whom also created Gray's Anatomy, Defying Gravity follows a team of astronauts in the near-future (2052) on a grand tour of the solar system. The narration duties are handled by Maddox Donner (Ron Livingston, yes, the Office Space guy) an astronaut that 10 years prior had to leave his lover to die on the surface of Mars. He's haunted and damaged, which is pounded into your head.

In fact, each character is a walking cliche. There's the religious hispanic, the horny Russian incapable of lasting emotion, long range Indian tech support, the big goofy white guy and the stern, no-nonsense boss that's a little sinister. Besides Donner, the majority of screen time goes to Geologist Zoe Barnes (played by Laura Harris, might recognize her as Daisy Adair from Dead Like Me, or the hot, creepy photography teacher one of the most disturbing CSI episodes ever), see, Zoe and Maddox had a one night stand. Feel the sexual tension! It's not at all like Meredith and McDreamy's character arcs on Gray's Anatomy, no, not at all!

Okay, despite the cliche characters, the show actually grew on me. It's just so hokey, so dramatic, that I got sucked in. Stick with it, get it on DVD so you can see the unaired episodes (5 of them), which take the series in a new direction. They add some very classical sci-fi elements towards the end and get into some Battlestar-lite philosopy.

All in all, it's available through Netflix and while it starts slow, it gets better. For an overly dramatic network series, it gets better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

DoAX2 - Day 70 - WHAMMIE! Edition

Remember that old game show, Press Your Luck? The one with the video board that had squares for money, BIG money and the turn ending, money stealing Whammies? Well today I got a little overconfident and ended up landing on a Whammie. See, I got into a really good roll gifting to Christie. 2 million dollar suits down, Ptarmigian and Grekle, with just the Thrush left to go. So of course, what did I do? I tried to gift her the Thrush. WHAMMIE~!

It didn't work, and since I was on Day 12 of my vacation already, I spent the rest of the time just playing volleyball. Down to $9 million after today's spending binge, my mad volleyball skillz are only helping to stem the bleeding. Ohwell, at least I have Christie down to 3 more suits! THREE! That's it!

Hitomi on the other hand is still annoying me. Hitomi now has 26 of 32 suits, I marked off two on my spreadsheet that she apparently, does not actually have. I hate when that happens. I will say that I started playing at quarter of 2 today and did not stop until quarter of 3. I only wanted to run through a 15-20 minute session but I got sucked in against my will.

Friday, January 22, 2010

16 Reasons To Get A PSP









All these are shots from the upcoming Dead or Alive Paradise for the PSP. The red head that is not Kasumi in the above shot is the new character, Rio. As much as I love Dead or Alive Extreme 2, I would kill for Dead or Alive Extreme 3!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Best Shows You Failed To Watch: Dollhouse




Debuting last January on FOX, Dollhouse was the latest show from Joss Whedon, the genius behind Firefly, Serenity, Buffy, Angel and Astonishing X-Men (issues 1-25, catch the motion comics off of Hulu!) I've tried a few times to properly write this and explain just what the Dollhouse is, since while it starts out simple it quickly gets much deeper. See, the Dollhouse is a business which sends out people that have been imprinted with buyer-specific personalities. As the perfect companion for the rich and famous, since Dolls would honestly, truly love back without ulterior motives.

The first few episodes of the series, thanks to the expected bungling of FOX management, stick to that bland premise of dolls being sent out on engagements without much of a larger picture. If you gave up on Dollhouse back when it aired the second, third or even fourth episode, I would not blame you.

You did however, rob yourself of what became an amazing sci-fi show. Netflix the series on DVD, watch it from disc one all the way through the second season to the final episode. Unlike Firefly, Whedon was given enough time to wrap up the story and tie it off with a neat little bow. Firefly alumni Summer Glau (River Tam) and Alan Tudyk (Wash, and Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball) make cameos as the series goes on. While I want to say more about this, I'm worried about mentioning spoilers. Just trust me on this, everyone that I have convinced to keep watching has ended up thanking me later, and make absolute certain to see episode 13 from season one. Unaired by FOX, episode 13 is the "Days of Future Past" for the Dollhouse universe, starring the Felicia Day. Oh, and that episode gets referred to during season 2. Watch Dollhouse. You missed it the first time, but thanks to the magic of seasons on DVD, you can fix that mistake.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tekken - THE MOVIE



The fact that I could pick out most of the characters is only due to playing Tekken 6 recently. No King shown but he's so iconic I'm sure he'll appear in a cameo. Highly doubt Kuma/Panda/Roger will be shown since those three are a little, well, out-there. Even for Tekken.

At the very least, this should be better then Legend of Chun-Li, DoA or the King of Fighters movie.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dead or Alive Extreme 2 - Day 69 (Teehee)

Oh Day 69, how I have been looking forward to this moment. Too bad the reality is nothing like what my fantasy looked like, especially since today did not involve Kasumi at all. Instead Hitomi continued to hate me, Tina had my back (and a pair of 375,000 swimsuits) and Christie is, at this rate, going to be the first girl with 2 friends. Now that would be an upset.

Ideally I'd get Christie's achievement and then Hitomi's right after, but I have yet to successfully gift to Hitomi. I had a GREAT rhythm going before for gifting to her but now, like my skill at the piano, it is gone. Gone and never to return.

On the bright side I figured out the Pool Hopping mini game. Yeah, it's an easy game, just tapping the colors that correspond with the floats that the girls are walking over, but I could never get the right combination of "quick tap"/"hold" to successfully pull it off. Well today I did! And it was not worth it!

Waiter! More Volleyball!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dead or Alive Extreme 2 - Day 68

Started a new vacation fresh with Lei Fang. Tina as my partner yet again and the goal is to gift more expensive suits to Hitomi and Christie (whom already has 2 of Lei Fang's million dollar suits). That was the plan at least, what ended up happening was far more frustrating.

I got Christie to like me easily enough. Considering she can ONLY be gifted during the morning, Christie takes longer then all the other girls. Which makes it odd that it's been Hitomi giving me problems. I waited until Day 6 to gift her a suit, after buttering her up throughout the previous days, and sure enough, she rejected me. got her back up to maximum love notes on day 8, and again, total rejection. The second time she ended up hating me.

I called it a day after that debacle. Final tally: 2 more suits for Christie, 2 more suits for Tina. So I got SOMETHING done at least.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dead Or Alive Extreme 2 - The Saga Begins For The Second Time

The quest: To find the Holy Grail. No, not the Holy Grail from Castle Anthrax, rather the Holy Grail of Completed Xbox 360 Games. 100% in Dead or Alive Extreme 2. Without using the casino glitch for money. That's right, nothing but tons of volleyball and jetskis to buy all the suits that I need. It's painful, especially the music. When a game includes Hillary Duff AND the Baha Men in its soundtrack, you know it's going to hurt.

That being said, after 67 days of playing, over 200 hours, I finished Ayane's suits. Every girl has all 33 suits of Ayane, in theory, since when I played today and cleaned out Hitomi's inventory she was missing two of Ayane's suits. Thankfully, I also noticed she has 2/3rds of Lei-Fang's collection. A faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

As my schedule settles down, I'll be playing this on a regular basis, updating every day I play. So (re)join me for this exercise in futility.

Tomorrow I'll be recording another video entry, discussing Guilty Gear 2's assault on the English language, the film Daybreakers and yelling at you all to check out Dollhouse on DVD.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What I Bought This Week

Perhaps the most boring title ever. I should liven it up a little, perhaps "What I Bought This Week With Money I Stole From A Luchador." I ended up buying my second copy of Dead or Alive Extreme 2, and then THAT copy was bad so it was back to Gamestop to get it replaced. I've been shopping at this one Gamestop for long enough that the staff pretty much know what to expect from me. Turning in DoAX2 and asking for another copy though, sent this one girl over the edge. I've explained to her my gaming style before, and now I believe, she really gets it. Took an extreme (HA!) example, but she now understands.

I also picked up Project Slypheed, another game you've never heard of, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. I've talked about that one before, I'll re-post that particular review tomorrow. What else...oh right, the pre-orders. I pre-ordered Super Street Fighter 4 (a good game) and Dante's Inferno (An amazing, absolutely stellar game with an equally great story that is remarkably true to the source material....amusing that Dante's epic poem was about his quest to rescue his smokin' hot wife from the Devil....armed with Death's Scythe which he gained by beating the unliving snot out of Death himself.)

That's what's coming down the pipeline starting tomorrow, with the (re)debut of the DoAX2 Diary!

Video Blog - January 11th

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coming Soon!

Take special note of the very first line of the song.


Guilty Gear 2: Overture





Forget everything you know about the Guilty Gear series. What once was an incredible 2D Fighting game series, the fore bearer of Battle Fantasia and BlazBlue's fighting systems, is here, in it's next-gen debut a bizarre mixture of hack'n'slash action and a RTS. The only thing more bizarre then the actual gameplay is the story, which for the life of me, I could not understand. I understood the plot of Final Fantasy Tactics in one go, and even more impressively, I was able to catch the subtle undertones that James Cameron worked into Avatar. Yet I'm still unsure as to what exactly was going on with this game. First though, some background information.

BACKGROUND
Developed by Arc System Works, Guilty Gear: Overture is a bad joke that got carried a wee bit too far. Sammy Software, the same Sammy that merged with SEGA, ended up with the Guilty Gear license, how? Well, I'm not sure since any and all information on this has been removed from the internet, but I'll wager it has to do with sake and betting on pro wrestling. So what does Arc System Works do with their next gen Guilty Gear? They sabotage the license and purposely make a very different game in an attempt to get full control of their creation.



PLOT
As I mentioned above, the nuances of Avatar are easier to figure out then this game. It takes place 5 years after Guilty Gear, Sol Badguy (the hero, which is Ironic. Incidentally, a thousand forks when all you need is a spoon is NOT Ironic), is traveling with  Sin, the Robin to Sol's Batman. Ky Kiske needs their help to combat an invasion of dolls armed with giant wrenches that speak in a very flat monotone controlled by the evil Valentine (Basically BlazBlue's Rachel is a direct copy of this character).  Eventually, it becomes clear...clearish... that the insidious THAT MAN (No really, that's his actual name) is somehow tied up in all this and his name is spoken in the same tones as He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Exactly how Rachel ends up becoming a giant mechanized Emo witch that shoots lasers is never fully explained. Yeah. Don't skip the cut scenes or anything that way you too can try and decipher this plot. The Da Vinci Code is simpler to understand. Not the actual code, no, try and understand how it made over $200 million.

GAMEPLAY
This is why Guilty Gear: Overture is such a bad game. The first 6 levels are basically tutorials of all the many, many different controls you need to master. You control your "Master" directly, hacking and slashing enemy troops using combos straight out of the previous Gear titles. The goal is to use your master to help push your servants forward across the battlefield, taking over control nodes which give you more resources to get more servants and thus, push even further across the battlefield until you get the chance to take down your enemies "Master Ghost", which is explained as being a physical representation of their soul.

To complicate things further, your servants come in multiple varieties creating a Rock/Paper/Scissors match up that in the heat of battle, you will pay no attention to whatsoever. There's servants that buff, servants that have ranged attacks, those that are fast, totally average, tanks and those that I still can not figure out why anyone would use them. You can organize them into squads and direct them around to different points on the map which in later levels, you have to do in order to overpower the AI or get around the mosh pit that always forms in the middle of the map.

There's even items you can use in battle to give you an edge. Area buff items, personal buff items, direct damage items, health potions, mana potions, it's amazing the sheer amount of things you need to keep track of in order to make it through a level.



CONTROLS
 Gah! Trying to aim at a specific enemy, juggle your inventory, manage your servants and block when needed is a pain and will cramp your fingers. While the individual control really isn't that bad, it's certainly right along with lines of the Dynasty Warriors games, it's trying to jump from all the different actions that makes you get all jumbled up. Very similar to the classic console RTS control issue come to think of it.


GRAPHICS
For a Xbox game, it looks pretty good. For a Xbox 360 game, it's full of graphical glitches, drab environments, bad, jaggy polygons that make up the enemies and far too much lens flare. In fact, the enemies resemble characters from Tobal No. 1, the Square fighting game from the PS1 era. I kept flashing back to that game for some reason. It could be the jaggies, or it could be acid flashbacks. One or the other.

MUSIC
Best part of the Xbox 360? You can burn your CDs to it and play your own music.

ACHIEVEMENTS
There's some easy ones for going through the campaign, then some easily boostable ones for playing online (which NO ONE is playing at the moment. I wonder why?) and then you get the big ones. The Free Mission achievements. What these are is a whole mode where you can take any character through the campaign missions, instead of being stuck with whomever the plot dictates. You have to beat every Free Mission with every Master, including the totally useless Dr. Paradigm, the lizard-scholar floating in a bubble. Yes. Lizard-scholar that floats in a bubble.Meghan Fox has more range then this guy.

You're still not done. Nope, then you need to beat the Campaign on Hard, which yes, is actually hard. If you can get all "S" ranks on the missions then well, good for you! But you won't. Which means another playthrough on medium going for all S ranks.

If you can find this game, I implore you to buy it, bring it with you to the parking lot, drop it behind your rear tires, and then run it over as you pull out. Go back into the parking spot, running it over one more time to be sure (Rule#2: Double-Tap), bring it back inside and throw it at the stupid clerk that sold it to you in the first place.

And finally, because I can do this now, here's a gameplay vid of Guilty Gear 2 in action:



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review Repost: Overlord (Contains FF7 Spoiler!)


Overlord




Reviewing good games, with my style, is actually rather difficult. I live off of ridicule, scorn, and the whole "Why did you play this" attitude. That makes reviewing the bad games really easy. Why else would I have even touched Dash of Destruction or Deadliest Catch? Those games are so easy to mock, it's like playing hide and seek with Helen Keller.

What can I do if the game isn't good...or bad...but instead, is downright evil? After much soul searching with my buddy Jack, I figured that who better to discuss Overlord then well, the Overlord himself?

It might amaze you to know that the Overlord actually hails from the Netherlands, which is an actual country and not what a Catholic schoolgirl calls her oh hey! And here's the Overlord!

Overlord:Do you realize how early it is over here?

Dog:It's 3 PM here....so your on the other side of London...which means it would be...9 PM. At night. That's not early you liar.

Overlord:That's just one example of how downright EVIL~! I am.

Dog:....that wasn't evil. In fact, it was really lame and annoying. Your game is supposed to showcase what it's like to be evil so why the...well it's insulting to call that a half-baked attempt...

Overlord:Once you've done all the evil things that I've done, it's the small things that really stick out. In fact, there is nothing that can shock me anymore, not since I burned down the elven Sacred Grove, the source of their immortality and doomed the entire race. A moment you can relive in my game for yourself.

Dog:I'm sure I can find an evil act that will shock even you. That though is pretty mean. How can you doom a race and yet also have the option to give stolen food back to the halflings...or to give the elves their stolen statue back?

Overlord:Well Triumph Studios, the firm that were programming my biography for you to play through, decide to have the options for both good and evil, as opposed to strict evil. This is a mistake that is going to corrected for the sequel, Overlord 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Dog:Will the controls still be as awkward in the sequel? I can't tell you how many times one of my minions got stuck on a tiny piece of the landscape.

Overlord:That simply gets across how hard it is to be the Overlord. You try maintaining strict control of a legion of underlings, with 4 different varieties no less. How can I easily organize fighters, rogues, ranged attackers and healers all in real time? Life doesn't have a pause button you know, and what stupid person really expects your enemies to just stand and wait for you to take your turn and attack?

You send the minions around with one stick, move me around with the other. How is that hard? Are you just stupid? Your stupid aren't you?

Dog:I think you meant *you're* stupid...

Overlord:SILENCE PLEBIAN BEFORE I INCINERATE YOU WITH MY BALLS OF FIRE!

Dog:But your magic sucks.

Overlord: Well yes, level 4 Wizard and all that, but what few spells I have are incredibly helpful and they add a whole new dimension to the gameplay. And you can incinerate sheep. Or elves. That never gets old. I like to imagine I'm causing Orlando Bloom to go Boom! Every evil Overlord in an RPG hates twinks.

Dog:Okay, now how is your game an RPG?

Overlord:I have stats, you buy weapons and armor, take a mistress, buy upgrades for my castle and view it through an isometric perspective. That and I say it's an RPG. I'm bigger then you so I'm right.

Dog: So your game is Fable starring the Gremlins?

Overlord:NO! My game has real choices you can make, with much more interesting puzzles and dungeons to get through! PEter Molyneaux is a hack that just can't cut it as evil in this business!

Dog:He did charge people extra for a mini game collection to earn fake money for his not even released yet game.

Overlord:Ohhhhh. That's evil. I like that. Still doesn't shock me or anything, nothing can be that evil.

Dog:What about the horrible graphics in your game? Is that some sort of assault on our good taste?

Overlord:Listen point dexter, my graphics are fine, especially for an older title. This was before "Glitches" of War remember, and the focus here is on the gameplay, not just being good looking that Solid Snake guy.

Dog:But music is timeless, so why does yours suck...oh...that's a large axe you have there...did I say suck? Why is it so awesome!? I can listen to that same few notes being played in your tower day after day! In fact, I will!

Overlord:I'm glad we understand each other. So gameplay, graphics, music, is there anything you have yet to praise me on yet?

Dog:The achievements for your game, who came up with them?

Overlord:Willy the Mailboy. He figured rewarding people for crushing the opposing heroes was a good way to get them hooked, before they realize that they have to play the game twice *and* hunt down every upgrade for the tower, while making their mistress happy, slaughtering thousands and thousands of sheep for days on end and then destroying the townfolk of Spree! With this training as obedient slaves, I can then muster an army of gamers to take over the world! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Dog:....is helping you take over the world necessary for an achievement?

Overlord:...no.

Dog:Then no one's interested. Oh, and before you go, I found an act so evil, so vile, that it will reduce you to tears.

Overlord:Try me mortal.

Dog:suit yourself. Here you go:



Overlord:WHY!? WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DIE!? THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!

Dog:Going to cry now?

Overlord:SHE CAN BE REZZED! I NEED A PHOENIX DOWN!

Who I Am And What I Do

I am Dog of Thunder, a mild mannered college librarian by night and a gamer by day. I have been playing games of all kinds since my aunt first had me sit down and play her NES. A while later, one of my uncles showed me Dragon Warrior 3 on the NES (the Orochi dungeon sequence) and I was hooked for good. Other games have drifted in and out, CCGs such as Magic the Gathering and Warlord, table top games like Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Mordheim and the ilk, and even good old pen and paper RPGS, Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade, Fallen and for one unforgettable weekend, Tales from the Floating Vagabond.

I especially enjoy horrible games. The reviews I've posted so far, X-Blades, Dash of Destruction, Pimp My Ride, Deadliest Catch, are all for games so bad that most people don't spend more then 10 minutes on them. These games give me strength. I find them much more amusing then say, Fallout 3, an AAA title that is still sitting on my shelf, waiting to be played. Whenever I play a good game, I get a message over Xbox LIVE from someone that is in shock over the mere sight of me playing a good game. Usually it's a sarcastic message asking if I'm alright.

My favorite message was when I was playing Operation Darkness and one of my friends sent this for a message: "I was thinking of picking that game up, but now that I see you're playing it, I'm nervous." Operation Darkness, which I'll cover at some point, really isn't *that* bad, but I can understand his trepidation. As the 33rd person in the world to finish X-Blades, I think my taste can be questioned. :-)

My taste, what I like in gaming, movies, and TV, is the reason for this blog. Sharing with all of you my slanted perspective on things. I'm not overly cynical or jaded, just someone that enjoys unintentional comedy much more then intentional comedy. So check back from time to time as I embark on an epic odyssey, exploring the truly wretched in the world of the Xbox 360.

Review: Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm

Dog's Dumpster Diving Review

Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm

or

The Cure For Insomnia




For starters, I need to address that cover art. First off, any game involving seamen in any way, should not be rated "Teen." Secondly, notice the two guys clinging on for dear life as the waves are tossing them around? Awesome right? Just screams "I am a man!" doesn't it? Well the game is nothing like that.

Background

To fully appreciate this putrid piece of [Gamespot] I need to explain the awesomeness that is the show, The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. To be honest, anything involving Mike Rowe is automatically awesome. He's like Bruce Campbell in that regard. Oh come on, you know it's true. Don't lie. You've got a man-crush on Mike Rowe.

Rawr.

Mike narrates the episodes which follow the crews of various crab fishing boats in the Bering Sea, perhaps the deadliest patch of water on Earth-2. For you non-Geography minded people, like Ms. Teen USA candidates, the Bering Sea is the body of water in the northern pacific that lies between Alaska and Russia. All those funny little islands that stretch off Alaska like a tail? Those are the Aleutian islands and they mark the region that the show(and the game) take place.

Each of the ships, there's about 5 main ones the show follows, are big on familial connections. The main ship, with regards to the game, is that of the Northwestern, captained by Sig Hansen, another manly man of a man.
Studly.

What makes men like Sig so impressive, is that crab fishing for the Alaskan King crab is the most dangerous form of fishing in the world. As of 2005, for every 100,000 fishermen that head out, 300 don't make it back. 80% of those 300 died of hypothermia or drowning. None of them died by clinging onto a space shuttle.

The design team at Liquid Dragon Studios actually spent some time out on the Bering Sea with Sig Hansen aboard the Northwesternto learn what conditions had to be created for the game and how they are girly men with no hair on their chests.

When I told my wife that I got the Deadliest Catch game from Gamefly, she perked up a bit and asked if it was like the show, fighting off killer 20 foot swells, decks as slippery as an AIG executive, the worst weather in the world and a freezing, biting cold that would make a lesser man curl up in a ball and cry for his mommy.

I told her, "No, you just sail around, drop crab traps, pick them up, and then go back to harbor to sell them."

She asked why I play this crap.

I told her that some men are fit to face the worst Mother Nature has to offer, stare Death in the face and laugh. Then there's dorks like me that sneeze in direct sunlight and start to burn.

Did I put off talking about the actual game enough yet? Yes? Alright, onto the actual game!

The Menu Screen
Gets a special call out for the truly epic profile shot of the main ship captains, featuring Sig Hansen, the pinnacle of manhood, above a ship being tossed around in the sea to the tune of "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. Best. Menu screen. Ever. In fact, keep it on this screen, because if you don't, it means you're actually experiencing the

Gameplay
Oh boy. For starters, there's a mandatory tutorial (like the one ZeroDesolation played for Command&Conquer 3) that introduces you to the basic controls and various gameplay situations. Lesson 1: The boat is slow. Lesson 2: Your crew works slow. Lesson 3: Whenever Sig pops up on the screen, he's going to verbally smack you for being a stupid girly man.

Get through the tutorial and you get to be the crab boat captain of your own vessel! Wo0t! Select a crew, buy supplies and head out into the open sea where you spend an hour laying crab traps, simming forward 2 days, then picking them up! AWESOME! Did I mention you have to wait for your crew to prep each and every trap!? No?! Well they do! No wonder the Russian boats are so much more productive, your crew needs the threat of the gulag to get motivated or something.

Sometimes, to mix things up, the weather gets bad and choppy. That's when the "seasick cam" (Named by the same guys the Medal of Honor team uses apparently), is in full effect. Your ship gets tougher to control, but that's um, about it. On harder difficulties, some crew *can* be washed overboard, but it kinda loses any dramatic effect because of:

Graphics
They suck.

Sound
What little music the game has, is actually really cool and rather mood setting. No really, it is. I know, as shocked as you are.

What really grinds my gears about the audio is the stupid seagulls. Your ship, quire realistically, is being followed at all times by a flock of seagulls, no matter how far you run away, there they are. Squawking. Constantly. It will drive you insane.

Achievements

Very do able achievement list actually, despite the fact that you have to upgrade your ship with all the...upgrades...hmm..awkward...and finish a season with your entire crew having high morale. Oh, and play an online game with 8 people in it (counting yourself). Besides those three, the list really isn't that bad. Long, boring and soul crushing, but not bad.

Don't let that fool you into thinking your man enough to tackle this game though, these rough waters? Only real men need apply. If you think have the guts and the testicular fortitude to hang with beer guzzling, cussing, roughneck bastiches, then by all means, pick this game up. Grab a copy with your man card. The one you had to turn in after Bambi's mom got shot. Wuss.

The Ninja Gaiden 2 Rap



Dog's Dumpster Diving Rap

Ninja Gaiden 2

or

Ninja > Half Breed Demon






Yo! Let's kick it

Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Stars baby
All right stop collaborate and stew
Dog is back with my brand new review
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Flows like the Dragon Sword through me and nightly
Will it ever stop yo I gotta play
Turn off the lights and I'll pray
To the extreme Ryu rocks a combo like a camel
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle
Dance go rush to the combat that booms
I'm killing your brain like a hundred hit combos
Deadly when I dash a Flying Swallow
Anything less than the best and you're on the gallow
Love it or leave it you better start practicin'
You better know this game ain't playin'
If there's a problem yo you betta solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Ninja Stars baby

Now that the party is jumping
With the bosses kicked in and the blood is flowin'
Quick to the point to the point no faking
That camera beats you like a pound of bacon
Screwing you if you ain't quick and nimble
I go crazy when that sucka kills me
And forced to bust out with a souped up ninpo
I'm on a roll and it's time to go solo
Rollin' like Clint in Gran Turino
With my reflxes old so my game can blow
The girlies need not apply
Did you stop no I just drove by
Kept on pursuing to the next stop
I busted a left and I'm heading to the next boss
Genshin is dead, he ain't a hoss
Yo so I continued to the next level
Girl came by, lookin' fly
those polygons make a man die
Jealous 'cause I'm out cutting heads
Ninja reflexes sharp, can't mess my threads
Leavin the chumps all over the walls
Because they're AI so tight you be hurtin' in the balls
Sword be stolen opening hell
I grabbed my new Talons and all I heard were yells
Splittin' spleens like Wolverine
Graphics are whack
Except for when the level's packed
Ain't no way unless I counter attack
Confronted all the dope Greater demons
Whacked them with a crowbar just like Gordon Freeman
Yo, Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it!

Ninja Stars Baby
Ninja Ninja Stars Baby
Ninja Stars Baby
Ninja Ninja Stars Baby

Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet
Gamplay is sweet don't you know it?
Crank up the audio, enjoy the sound
Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground
'Cause my style's like Hanzo's and Leo's
Control is slick with moves like Neo's
Conducted and formed
This is a hell of a concept
Listen to the hype and you want to step with this
Play on the fade 'n' slice like a ninja
Cut like a razor blade so fast, hit like Bob Orton's Cast
If my rhyme was a drug I'd sell it by the gram
Keep my composure when it's time to slam
Mad ninja skills get me the key
Open the door cause I gotta flee
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Ninja Stars baby (oh-oh!)
Ninja Stars baby
Ninja Ninja stars baby (Wave your arms!)
Yo man let's get back to the game
Word to your mother
Ninja Stars baby (Make some noise 360voice!)
Ninja Ninja Stars baby
Windmill stars baby


We ain't done yet, stay in that chair and enjoy the chorus


YO! It's the ninja machine -- Gonna rock the town without bein' seen
Have you ever seen a ninja Get Down? -- Slammin' Jammin' to the new swing sound
Yeah, everybody let's move -- Dog is here with the New Jack Groove
Gonna rock, and roll this place -- With the power of the ninja bass
Doggie, ya know I'm not playin' -- Devistate the show while the ninjas are sayin:


Ninja, Ninja, RAP! Ninja, Ninja, RAP!
GO GO GO
Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO; Go Ninja, Go ninja, GO!
Go Ninja, Go Ninja. GO; Go Ninja, Go ninja, GO!
GO GO GO GO



Lyrics, fill in the gap -- Drop that bass and get the NINJA RAP
Feel it, if you know what I mean -- Give it up for those heroes
Just flowin, smooth with the power -- Kickin' it up, hour after hour
Cause in this life there's only one winner -- You better aim good so you can hit the center
In it to win it, with an army of one -- Ninja that you gotta adore it's the:

Ninja, Ninja, RAP! Ninja, Ninja, RAP!
GO GO GO
Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO; Go Ninja, Go ninja, GO!
Go Ninja, Go Ninja. GO; Go Ninja, Go ninja, GO!
GO GO GO GO



Villains, you better run and hide -- Because one day you might not slide
Choose your weapon but don't slip --Dog's in control with the flex of the mic grip
Rockin' the crowd the way it should be rocked -- With the Miami drop that you like alot
Hittin like a Ninja when the bass kicks in -- You better check your level
The power of the Ninja is strong -- Fightin' all the crooks until they're all out cold


Go Ninja Go Ninja Go!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pimp My Ride Review

After a long hiatus, Dog of Thunder is back in the hood to share with you his thoughts on a title available for $20 or less at Gamestop.

Dog's Dumpster Dive Presents

Pimp My Ride

or

No b*tches or 'Hos Were Slapped In The Making Of This Review




First off, as of today, we are 15 days away from the 1 year anniversary of my first review: Saint's Row. Just felt like mentioning that since today's game is similar to Saint's Row. It has driving in a free roam environment...and uh, "bling" and well, it's about Pimping, so I'm sure it also has pornstars, fluffers, 'hos, big purple hats, and things going on in the backseat of a car. Right?

No? Pimp My Ride has NONE of that but Saint's Row does? Alright, so what do they have in common?

Cars. That's it. Saint's Row has a more authentic "street" experience then this game. When a game that allows you to make a pasty white guy with asthma and a poor complexion join an inner-city street gang has more of a "street" experience then you, there's something wrong. Like Red Dwarf: Back to Earth sort of wrong.

The "wrong" in this case is that Pimp My Ride does not involve actually pimping. That might actually have been an interesting game. Nope, instead this is a game based directly off of Pimp My Ride, the MTV show that features Xzibit taking crappy rides of photogenic, average kids in LA and taking them to the garage to get PIMPED! This process usually involves a new paint job, a new engine, custom details based off of the kids interest, a sharp spike in their insurance rate and then their ride gets stolen because they live in LA, driving a PIMPED out ride. I really want to see a Pimp My Ride follow up special.

The Studio That Is RESPONSIBLE THIS
Eutechnyx, a European game developer. That's ironic because "bling" in Europe is straight teeth. I keed, I keed. I love Europe. They gave us X-Blades. No, what makes Eutechnyx special is that their specialty is racing games. Big Mutha Truckers, Fast and Furious, and another 360 title they are responsible for: Hot Wheels: Beat That! This falls under "facts Dog wishes he knew before playing this game."

For your personal amusement, a direct quote from the Eutechnyx website, I suggest you don't take that sip of coffee just yet, wait until after you read this so you don't spit it over your keyboard:

quote:
Our driving and racing game technology is respected throughout the gaming industry. We have particular expertise in high level mathematics and physics, essential in recreating the complex dynamics of vehicle movement.


Just keep this quote in mind. I'll refer back to it in about 500 words.

The Plot

I've put off the actual game discussion long enough, so here's the plot. You're a "Pimp in the Making" in Pimp City that has to Pimp Out rides for photogenic, generic teenagers in Pimp City. Xzibit is on hand to guide you through the process, because when you think Pimp, you think Xzibit and not, say, Snoop Dogg, or Ice-T, both of whom really were Pimps.

Anyone else find it ironic that Ice-T plays a cop on Law and Order: SVU now? Just me? The guy that rapped "F*ck the police" and all? No? Alright, moving on then before I really start dating myself.

For the record, this is a Pimp:



This is a Pimp:


And this is even a Pimp:


This is NOT a Pimp:


Gameplay

In order to Pimp Rides, you have two game phases. The Cash Roam, and the Pimping Phase. In Cash Roam, you get to drive around Pimp City, breaking billboards, parking meters, collecting cash tokens and Ghost Riding Your Whip.

Ahem. For the white boys in the audience, or those that don't watch Girls Next Door like I do and missed the episode with Kendra (the Hood Bunny) explaining what "Ghost Ride Your Whip" is, here's a definition from UrbanDictionary:

quote:
Ghost Ride The Whip - To "ghost ride" or "ghost riding" is when a driver places his car in neutral, or cruises at a low speed approx. 5-10 mph everyone in the vehicle opens all the doors and walks along side the car, steps on the hood or the roof of the car while dancing to heart pounding rap music.

"Ghost riding" was invented in the Country Club Crest of Vallejo, Ca by rap artist: J Diggs, then was popularized by E 40 in his hit video "Tell me when to go". The "REAL" Ghost ridn' can be seen on "Treal Tv #2", J Diggs shows where it came from and how to "ghost ride your whip.

Ghost riding started off as a neighborhood expression, then later a city thing, to a Bay Area thing, now a worldwide expression of having fun and has become the culture of many youth in today's world starting from the Bay Area in Northern California


In the game? You have two variations of Ghost Ride. One is called "Ghost Ride Your Whip" and you have to follow a series of button presses on the screen. It gets more complicated as you go, but not by much. The best part is seeing your character actually dance. When that's the best part, you know I'm really stretching for a compliment.

The other Ghost Ride variation is called Hot Steppin'. You press the A button when it passes through the bar at the bottom of the screen. That's it. Moving on!

So once you finish the Cash Roam, which is boring as all get out, you get to PIMP that Ride! In 2 minutes! There's a two minute timer that is merciless. Jabootu help you if you want to get a perfect pimp. That involves finding the "Secret" supplier during the cash roam, finding his shop in the Pimp phase, succeeding in all of Xzibit's challenges (which are "Get to this spot in 30 secs" events, transporter times in Red Faction Guerrilla are more merciful then these events!) AND getting to the supply shops in time. HAVE FUN!

Oh crap. I forgot to mention the "Please the Crowd" event in Cash Roam. You press buttons that appear on screen. See a pattern?

Of course the real crime with this gameplay, beyond the brutal time limit for Pimping, is that it NEVER changes. You always do the same things, for every car. This game repeats itself more then Andrew Dice Clay and his one joke.

Controls

As promised, remember that Eutechnyx quote referring to their specialty in driving physics and control? I really wonder what game they were talking about because in this one, the control sucks. You drive so fast that you feel out of control. Your car can not go over the smallest of bumps. This will get annoying. I promise. In fact, this one little control issue almost brings the whole game down, but when you're already in the lowest circle of hell, that doesn't mean much.

Sound

YO! I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE BLACKS AND THE BROWNS!
WHY THE HATE? YOU REMEMBER THE END OF THAT MOVIE SAW, WHERE THOSE TWO DUDES WERE DYING AND THE MAASTERMIND WAS LYIN' THERE THE WHOLE TIME?

We get it. Kill Whitey. Now shut up and switch to the othe...oh. my. god. There's one song? Per section? And each section has...three cars to Pimp...oh god....hey wait a minute, the song restarted once I got done with the event and...NO I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE BLACK AND THE BROWN! I'M A WHITE DUDE FROM SUBURBIA! BOW BEFORE ME AND MY LACK OF ATHLETIC ABILITY!

Achievements

Knock off all signs/parking meters/coins, finish all levels, complete all Cruisin' events, Perfect Pimp all Cars.

What? PERFECT PIMP ALL CARS!?

^#$&^%#$#$

Dash of Destruction Review

Dog's Dumpster Diving Review

Doritos Dash of Destruction

or

The Best Things In Life Are Free....Right? RIGHT?

See? I've already put this game in perspective! Doritos Dash of Destruction: More Fun Then Being Stomped On The Nuts! Thankfully, this game is 10 lbs. of awesome in a 5 liter bag, so really, you'll enjoy yourself anyways! Before I dig into the substantial meat of this game, some background information on the years of blood and sweat that went into making this masterpiece, this shining pinnacle of gameplay that shall stand as an avatar of the XBLA for all to worship.

Background
Doritos had a contest in 2007 called "Unlock Xbox" in which gamers could submit ideas to Doritos and the finalist would be made into demos courtesy of Ninja Bee (The Cloning Clyde, Kingdoms for Keflings, Band of Bugs people). From October 29th 2007 to November 18th 2007, gamers could play the demos and vote on their favorites. The winner? A game submitted by Mike Borland: Dash of Destruction.

Mike's prize was getting to work with Ninja Bee to get a full fledged XBLA game out of his concept. Originally supposed to be released in the summer of 2008, it was pushed back to December 18th, 2008. Reasons for this delay range from Jonathan Blow complaining that Dash of destruction would overshadow the release of his opus (which is Latin for "only quality game one will produce in their lifetime"), Braid but others speculate that Capcom pushed for the delay so that its release of Bionic Commando: Re-Armed would not go unnoticed beneath 20 tons of steel jawed T-Rex.

Plot
You have two separate stories to choose from, which is one more then games such as Lost Odyssey or Final Fantasy X. You can choose to be a delivery truck driver tasked with collecting Doritos from points around the city, not unlike the quest system in World of Warcraft. Or even better, you can be a twenty ton Tyrannosaurus Rex who's only job is to eat the delivery truck and presumably, the delivery truck driver. For the record, that's a more substantial plot then WarTech: Senko No Ronde. More choices then Lost Odyssey and more logic then WarTech? Score 2 for Dash of Destruction!

Gameplay
As the truck, you just zip around the city, dodging the T-Rex, beating your rivals to Doritos and surviving. It's simple, it's addictive, and by the time the game finally ends, you'll be wanting more. Admit it. 5 levels is just not enough. You really could've gone for 10 more levels right? Now compare that to X-Blades, which is a game that I could've gone with 10 *less* levels. A minimalist approach to game design is truly being ahead of the times. Bravo Ninja Bee. Bravo.

Oh but wait! There is more! You get to BE the T-Rex! Hunt down the delivery truck once it gets hung up on the pond/lake/blue graphic thingie and you get a point. Eat enough trucks before your rival T-Rex and you move on to the next level. Word on the internets is that you can unlock a secret cow level in this campaign. Not that you need it, since after each level your T-Rex gets upgraded so you go from this:


To This:


Now that's one bad muthatrucka.

Control

This game must take place in Canada, or given the creator, the frozen tundra of Pennsylvania, since the roads are ice slick. You'll slip and slide, but thankfully the controls accurately recreate this dangerous, hard to manage situations. The drama is only heightened as you can stop on a dime, provided that dime is 12 feet ahead of you and slightly to the right, no, the other right.

The Bad MuthaTrucka controls much the same, since it is made up of wrecked Doritos Delivery trucks. Everything moves along these icy, hazardous roads, so the playing field is level and it takes all your skill to out maneuver your target. Or get them pinned against the frozen lake/pond/blue graphic thingie representing one of the four natural elements and eat them that way. It's strategy really, more then that involved in Star Trek: Legacy. Score more for Dash of Destruction!

Achievements

You need a second controller for all of them, since there is only local multiplayer. Mike was going to include online multiplayer, but Cliffy B threw a hissy fit, saying something about how now no one would play GlitchsGears of War 2 once this Quadruple A title hit XBLA like Bangkok Dangerous.

You get achievements simply for story progression, which makes this game better then The Last Remnant.

Wrap Up
It's free, it has more choice then Lost Odyssey, better achievements then The Last Remnant, and you get to relive all the greatest delivery truck moments from The King of Queens.

And finally, you get to get to play as one bad muthatrucka.

X-Blades Review

Every so often, when a butterfly beats its wings in Tibet and Nicholas Cage readies another crappy movie, Dog of Thunder sits back and reflects on why someone would name their son Trapper. And when he is done with that, he composes a soliloquy on a budget title from his collection
X-Blades

or

From Russia With Thong




Oh boy. Where to start with this one? You know that game you and your friends came up with in 2nd grade over your juice boxes and shark shaped fruit snacks? The one that would be so wicked awesome? With all sorts of enemies to slash, magic spells and those super special forms you can turn into to? And then a spike trap or two like in Indiana Jones? Remember that game?

This is that game.

Let's have some background info on just what, exactly, gave birth to X-Blades before we talk about the game itself, believe me, this makes the game all the more hilarious. And no, as far as I know, it was not put together by a bunch of 8 year olds.

The Developer: Gaijin Entertainment

Gaijin Entertainment is obviously not a Japanese developer, oh no, they belong to that other land famous for creating anime based games: Russia. Here, in all its unaltered glory (I swear to Jabootu I did not touch this) is the origin of the company:


2001 - In this year three persons, Anton Yudintsev (president), Kirill Yudintsev (creative director), and Alexey Volinskov (technical director) have established the company Gaijin Entertainment. A little bit earlier, these talented people had the time to get experience in development of computer games; we shall specifically note one of their many creations - Doom 2D, which became most known among old gamers.


Glad to see we're in good hands! Doom was a great game! Oh wait...Doom 2D? What the hell is that? The Most Informative Article I Could Find in 2 Minutes of Searching
At least this game was lovingly sent over by an experienced publisher:

The Publisher: SouthPeak Games

The same guys that blessed us with Two Worlds, which is actually a cult classic at this point, Roogoo for the XBLA, Monster Madness....Legendary...hmmm...and the forthcoming, Velvet Assassin. I would make fun of them as I planned to, but this was released today: They made a huge profit in 2008

Now that we have a little bit of background established, which frankly, doesn't need me poking fun at it, since you too can google Gaijin Entertainment and enjoy, let's break down the run away Game of The Year!

Plot

Straight from the main X-Blades site:

"Long, long ago, in an age that only the gods can now remember, the universe was ruled by two powerful beings that were revered and worshipped by all races - but the ‘brotherly’ relationship between these two creatures was always in question from the beginning of time, simply because no one knew who the real number 1 was. While the Enlightened was on the side of good, helping his people how and when he could, the Dark One was quite the opposite, full of hate and devilish works - and so the never-ending battle between the Enlightened and the Dark One persisted for centuries. Humans suffered terribly thanks to this constant combat between the two – combat which shook the universe to its very core. Finally, thanks to a trick, the Enlightened succeeded in banishing the divine power of the Dark One, imprisoning it in an Artifact - but in doing so, the Enlightened lost his own divine powers, because the two divine beings were inseparably linked to one another. This is how two Artifacts came to be hidden in a huge Temple - and how the Enlightened prevented the downfall of the entire universe. However, these two artifacts contain total, absolute power - both good and evil. Any human being who comes in contact with the powerful stones will be horribly cursed - and the power of darkness will once again be awakened.

The game begins when a map which has been lost for countless years suddenly turns up - and it shows the location of the artifacts. The adventurer Ayumi starts searching for the immensely valuable stones. Powerful forces against which she is helpless threaten to awake in her body. Now it's up to her to discover what the secret of the curse is - and at last defeat the darkness."

In the opening, Ayumi informs us that she's a treasure hunter, following an ancient map to a lost artifact and that she works alone, otherwise she'd have to split the loot. That rings a bell....what does it remind me of...Tombs....Raiding of said Tombs...dual wielding pistols...nope, can't think of anything that's a blatant rip off of.


After a few levels there's a confrontation with a large wolfman, after which Ayumi is either infected by darkness, or her entire body is going through the menstrual cycle like that chick on House three weeks ago. Once that happens, periodically a bloody egg gets loose....errr...the "curse" takes effect and it's all dramatic and why am I talking about the plot? Have you seen that thong?

Graphics

They suck. Remember the old Tomb Raider joke about how 80% of the game's polygons went to her boobies? All the care and design went to Ayumi. The environments all look the same, you even backtrack through them! The enemies have very little variety (oh wait, we're getting to that!) and look like they're from Vagrant Story. No wait, that had some decent graphics, let's say Granstream Saga (Has nothing to do with Unlimited SaGa). You can almost count the polygons that make them up, which is really sad since the main characters all look like hand drawn anime characters.

The spell effects are equally atrocious, with zero dynamic lighting, zero variety, and they blend in with the smoke trails left by certain enemies. This is the same system that powers Gears of War!?

Control

Actually, not bad at all. Unless your trying to do a combo....or a precision jump....in which case you need to get used to the controls a little bit since it's a case of being perhaps *too* tight. Much like the side of Ayumi you're forced to watch all game. Once you get used to them, you too can execute the highest sword combo, "the dancing swords all-round strike!"

Burning Finger doesn't sound like such a bad name now..

Gameplay

Do you like Hacking and Slashing? I mean, do you REALLY like Hacking and Slashing? Do you REALLY, REALLY like Hacking and Slashing with LESS VARIETY THEN DYNASTY WARRIORS? Seriously, at least Cao Cao has different combos, a musou move and if you get bored of him, you can use one of 49 other characters. Ayumi has no real combos, no real variety to her attacks since the "Fireball" and "Ice Blast" look nearly the same, function the same except that the Ice Blast freezes, and in order to use Magic, you have to build up rage by hitting all the peons. Over and over.

The prices for some of her more powerful skills are so exorbitantly high that you'll be nearly done with the game before you can afford them. At least the very first skill she learns, Earthquake, is useful. Since you'll be relying on it, a lot.

See, the whole point of the game is to explore the Ruins. Each "room" is its own separate level. You get trapped inside with enemies that respawn until you kill enough, which is helpfully shown by a health bar. That's um, it. Really. Every now and then you get a boss fight, some of which are a complete pain since you have to kill all the minions, hit the boss before the minions respawn, and repeat. One of them took me 22 minutes. Of doing the same thing. Over and over and over and over and over. All because of the ridiculous health pool of the boss! We've progressed since Perfect Weapon.

Innovation

I have to cite this...this is just too good...straight from X-Blades.com, which yes, has a separate section titled "Innovations":

"X-Blades" is an opulent action spectacle in Anime style for fans of short-duration combat games. Two gun blades are the trusty companions of the heroine Ayumi - and she uses them as an effective sword in hand-to-hand combat and to shoot various projectiles. Her attack potential can be increased by a wide range of spells which are progress-activated. This is where the RPG character side of the game comes in: when Ayumi has collected enough experience points, she can activate various skills which will decide whether she becomes a good or a bad character. This development leads to two different game endings.
The Anime-style level design gives "X-Blades" its unique atmosphere and flair and around 40 fantastic Indoor and Outdoor Worlds gleam resplendently in a lavish maelstrom of color. The optical effects of the action and magic are really striking, thanks to the use of modern cinematic stylistic devices like Bullet-Time and Motion Blur.
The opponents in "X-Blades" leave nothing to be desired - also designed in Anime style, around 30 classes of them await the heroine - and apart from that, she also has to destroy nine Boss opponents (including a gigantic Wolf Entity and a Giant Spider) with the help of various combat strategies.

....

Does your intelligence feel insulted?

Gun Blades as innovation? Anime-style? Fighting a Giant Spider and a gigantic "Wolf Entity" are NEW!? Motion blur is new!?

BULLET TIME IS A NEW INNOVATION!!??

AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Achievements

Simple achievement list. Really, the full 1k can be done in perhaps a weekend. Grinding is required for some of them, and the complete a level without being hit is easy, but 6 levels? That gets annoying. I fully intend to get the full 1k in this, but then again, I hate myself.

The Wrap Up
Stay away from this game, unless you like completely derivative games with the depth of the kiddie pool.

Unless you get the Russian PC version. Cause then, well, Ayumi is nekkid. After all, this whole game was just an excuse to stare at a painted on thong for 8 hours.