JAM is a music game that tries its absolute best to avoid doing anything similar to other music games in the genre. As a result its become very much a purists music game but also one that if it takes you, you’ll be spending a lot of time playing.
JAM is made for the Rock Band / Guitar Hero guitar peripheral in mind. You have five coloured notes on the guitar (you can also use a PS3 controller too). On screen you those five coloured notes transposed into five different instrument boxes – inside which the five colours again are assigned to different loops or riffs. By strumming the guitar or pressing up on the D-Pad with the instrument buttons pressed you turn these instruments on for you to the then strum down again to set off individual riffs and loops in time with the beat. As the loops are on, you’ll see them spin around in their own time signature. To start with everything runs for say 4, 8 or 16 bars of music. Later on as more songs are unlocked you’ll get one hit moves that only take up one bar while everything continues on, some aren’t for repeated riffing, some are but take half the time. JAM has a steep learning curve if you are not musically minded.
To help aid this the songs, most of which are from lesser known artists but actually are all pretty much spectacular, are divided into groups which you unlock in a DJ mode where you can remix the songs anyway you want as you get used to the controls. Do that enough and you’ll unlock the Arcade mode where the commands fly up the screen and you’ve got to perfect each change as the remix requires. Each wrong move means your hit marks move closer to the bottom of screen, eventually meaning game over when it hits where the notes arrive at the bottom of the screen. Arcade mode is very hard with a PS3 controller and still hard with a guitar controller. Do not expect 100%’s or gold medals first time out.
From a musician stand point, the DJ remixing stuff is actually quite ingenious. All the riffs and one shot effects can really make a decent remix and later on in the game you switch between banksets which can give you up to 75 samples for those songs to mess with. You can do an awful lot with that if you’ve the imagination and patience to get it right. Once you’ve made a track you can save it to listen back to or you can then send it to a friend as an Arcade JAM so they can try and copy your moves for points.
~Genuinely hard to master
~Some unique game mechanics for remixing tracks as you go
~New use for your guitar controllers
~Steep learning curve will put some off
JAM goes out of its way to be different and that essentially makes it a unique purchase for music genre fans looking for something to sink their teeth into. What it also does is make it difficult to get into for the more casual audience. There’s a lot of fun to be had here – you just have to have the patience to scratch beneath the surface.
Tekken 6 felt unrealised for me. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Tekken series but number six was my second least favourite only beating four. I’m so pleased to announce things are very much back to the top of their game with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – possibly my new favourite fighter of this generation!
TTT2′s roster is massive. Pretty much every main character ever in a Tekken game is there and as alluded to by the bizarre opening CGI made up only by them, there’s more free characters on the way that were initially unlocked if you bought the game at certain stores. Free DLC is the way to do it. Well done Namco.
The beauty in TTT2 is in the balancing of its roster and the fluidity of the moves. Take Asuka and Jun. Two very similar fighters. They can string together a wonderfully complex collection of hits effortlessly. Law however can do tons of quick low power jabs and knock them flat. Then you’ve got Jack power sitting on your face. Slow, cumbersome – but oh so powerful. This isn’t anything new to fighters as its what the good ones do so well – it’s just with the massive 50+ character base, you’ve got such a choice to set your team up with. You can just play 1 on 1 if you want to but the tag mechanic is fantastic. You can use throws to get in a cheeky tag move and cause some major damage in. The controls are expertly responsive and the inclusion of breakable walls and floors in some stages also throws up some new ways to cause carnage. It’s been a pleasure finding out how I can be beaten up.
Juggling takes a real centre stage in this edition – more so than usual. Being able to keep your opponent in the air is paramount to your success. The tutorials in the form of the tongue in cheek Combot mode where you’re programming moves into the character really helps you out. You can then take the lessons learnt into Arcade mode to unlock each characters ending, survival mode to see how long you last, team battle with up an 8v8 on each team or go online.
Online features easily the most lag free fighting I’ve experienced. The net code is tighter than Tiger’s afro. You play in a VR mode while it pairs you up with an opponent, you have a very quick sync up before each round that lasts about 2 seconds and then its perfect for the bout – even when people are rated 3/5 for connection. I just wish I could win!
From what I’ve found so far, I’m utterly rubbish at this game. The AI kicks my butt. Everyone online kicks it too. Winning helps improve your online rank and there’s tons of stats per character for you to work out whom your best playing with. You also constantly earn coins to buy clothing and you can customise your characters constantly to the point where they barely look like themselves. During time attack/arcade modes you’ll battle other peoples online creations. Some of them are very comical!
~Fluid responsive controls that are second to none
~An absolutely massive roster
~Best lag free fighting I’ve had online in a game
~I’m not winning as much as I’d like!!!
When you suck at a game and still absolutely love it, salute it, recommend it and shout about it from the houses – you know you’ve found a classic winner. If this game doesn’t go down as one of the top 3 brawlers of the current generation then there’s been a mis-justice in the world.
Creating a game for such a split market is no easy task and you have to feel for Codemasters – they’ll be slammed for making an ingenious genre defining sim , they’ll be slammed for making an arcade gem. F1 2012, like the previous outings falls firmly in the middle, although it does feel this time round things have moved slightly towards the sim end more than 2011′s version.
The first biggest change is the vastly improved graphics and smoother frame rate. This was my biggest problem with last year and its happily far better this time round. The graphics top 2010′s glossiness too. Also improved are the fibres, damage pieces and general grubbiness throughout. It really does enhance the experience ten fold when you’ve not got to think “those buildings are moving slower than my eye can notice”.
The second big change is the handling. Unlike previous versions, here I’m finding set ups and trigger button pressures really matter more than ever now. If you’re used to flooring the accelerator you’ll be spinning off at the first turn. The emphasis, as shown in the new New Drivers Test day (a tutorial of sorts), is now on smoothness of the steering and pedals. This then in turn brings set up to the fore a bit more. I found this was where the tutorial was really lacking. Maybe for future updates if this stays it’d be great to show exactly what each function does in a side-by-side comparison. Quick set up’s normally gear you towards a lower downforce set up to keep up with the AI down the straights. I found leaving the set up as default would see me up to 2 seconds off the pace on Legend difficulty yet moving it up the scale just one notch suddenly had me on the pace.
The third change is the extra modes for the single player. Champions mode is a six event scenario mode to challenge each champion in increasingly difficult missions. This is a nice extra to sit alongside time trials and single lap leader boards. Also here is season challenge which targets you to pick off rivals and move to their seats over an arcade style championship base. It harks right the way back to Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP in its set up and is a very welcome addition. It also forces a one-shot qualifying system like F1 had in 2003-5. Of course the 5 year career mode is still there with some minor tweaks.
As a whole the single player mode is massively improved. The AI is much better this time round, having their own accidents, the occasional engine blow up and the tyre simulations mean you’ll often find yourself on a real balancing act as everyone strategy comes alive. This is exactly what we want. Props too for the new weather mechanics that really do shake races up.
So what on earth has happened currently to the online events? It’s here currently where F1 2012 absolutely falls down. When building a custom race as soon as more than 8 players have joined, the game freezes upon entry. When the host leaves or the players drop to 8 or below, the race kicks off. This doesn’t happen on quick race strangely. The AI also suddenly reverts back to an old style of driving through you and causing stupid incidents online too – yet works wonderfully offline. I’ve also had several occasions where races start with drivers getting penalties, the game getting stuck in the pitstop and a lot of crashes in the in game menu system. Everything but the latter is online only. Hopefully a patch can sort out the issues but until then a custom race, or custom online championship is utterly out of the question. If you follow the predetermined modes, be prepared for penalties galore as I’ve yet to find a decent set of racers by picking random’s that doesn’t include someone driving like its destruction derby all over again. The game will disqualify repeat offenders but its unavoidable that you’ll probably get a penalty for being whacked in the process.
It’s a shame as you can clearly see a lot of labour has gone firmly into this version and it really shows but the online section at the moment is half broken.
~Vastly improved frame rate and graphics
~Single player modes now make it a joy to play on your own
~Much more grounded driving experience
~Custom online modes are currently broken (as of version 1.01)
Best of the three F1 games by far but the online modes require some serious patches, as does the general front end of the game too. There’s no use making an absolutely stonking single player experience if the game likes to crash when you invite your mates along.
Possibly one of the biggest travesties in gaming this generation is the strange way that Project Diva has been given its PS3 releases. You always have to have the original PSP game and then effectively buy the game again for the Dreamy Theatre version. Sadly, with Extend, none of this changes. If you’re here though I feel like I’m preaching to the converted and you’ll know you’re going to plump for the game anyway. So what are we getting?
All the original 36 tracks from Extend are here for you to play “Simon Says” with through all the four difficulty levels but as before, you can only play what you’ve already unlocked on the original game. The same can be said with the modules (costumes) but I like the fact that now each get up can be saved per song quite nicely and easily. Load times are also much quicker this time round too. The graphical enhancements really push to the fore this time round too as the music videos for each song are so much more complex and better put together. You do not get previous games songs this time round, and DLC does not have a separate section so I’ve yet to play about with it but I assume you can import songs in as per usual.
Elsewhere though there’s a few other changes. This includes a “live” mode which features 11 songs that are performed move for move as they are from the “Final 39 ‘s Giving Day” concert. You can interact with all the camera’s as the set list steams through. A nice extra although its got somewhat of a limited lifespan. The trophies are just about difficulty clearing this time – no strange play for 3939 minute ones!
As a rule of thumb, with a bigger screen and no slowdown, I find the Dreamy Theatre versions always far superior and easier to get through than the original game – it’s just a shame you’ve got to buy the game twice to get it.
~Still some of the most catchiest songs ever made
~One of best rhythm action series I’ve ever played and it’s still not getting old
~Still no PS3 Edit mode
Still one of the best rhythm action games out there, but you’ll only need to get the PSP version to know that. This is really a big HD yummy package to ardent fans. Between this and the new Project Diva f that’s out for Vita – I’d go for the latter. This is fan service and at premium price (and I’ve happily gobbled it up)
Again, this is purely so you can see if this is something you’d enjoy taking part in! It’s pretty neat as my review stated:
I’m so much of a fan of this game I had to show you just how awesome it is (on medium difficulty of course, so its not the full challenge) so that you can all go and buy it!
Harmonix have a rich history of Rhythm Action games and with their new download only version of Rock Band things have almost come full circle.
Rock Band Blitz brings things back to the controller. Instead of pressing lots of buttons to create riffs each instrument only requires two buttons. I used down and X for left and right buttons. As those buttons cross the path of your button line, you press the buttons to play each instrument. You swap between each instrument with the shoulder buttons. This is very similar to original Harmonix games Frequency and Amplitude. To help along the way you now also have power ups to help improve your score or blast blocks out the way during busy sections to help you. Things really have come full circle.
Where things are completely different is the scoring for each song. Hitting several notes for each instrument lets you increase the score multiplier on that instrument (drums, bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards). Each song is also divided into sections and you can raise each track a maximum of three multipliers per song section. If you do this, it’ll let you raise the multiplier a further three for the next section but if say you only get the drums up by a single multiplier, you’re then limited to only one additional multiplier for everything in the next section. Suddenly strategy in now involved because you must work out which is the easiest times to get the multipliers for each track. It’s a nifty little change in the mechanics of the game that really changes things up.
As such there’s no multiplayer but there’s online scoreboards and a song wats mode where you can send challenges to your rivals and they have just over 2 hours playtime to beat you and send the challenge back again.
~25 tracks and any DLC from before all count
~Very easy to pick up but hard to master the score modes
~Great overall production
~No difficulty adjustments but then you can’t technically fail a song either
A great entry point to the series but also a great game in its own right. I still think I prefer Frequency & Amplitude but this is still a fantastic controller based experience for Rock Band fans.
We’re back after our prolonged break with our multplayer special! Ben quite likes a bit of split screen, Simon just wants it to have a rhythm action mini game involved. We also discuss the console market and how we think there could be a rejuvenation coming in the forms of Steam & Ouja!
(Apologies for a couple of sound problems – this was due to a connection issue)
Any game that allows me innovative use of my music has me hooked. Following on from where Beat Hazard effectively left off, Symphony takes music generated shooters and gives it one hell of a polishing.
Symphony comes with a collection of music to play through to get you going via its story mode where you are stopping a virus from taking over your music. He’s been turning the music into enemies that’ll swarm, fire bullets and generally try to take down your ship. Your ship is customisable. Initially with forward facing guns, you’ll be trying to complete the tracks and collecting big notes left behind from each fleet of enemies disposed of. These notes dramatically improve both your score and your weapons arsenal. You see the crux is at the songs end, if you’ve done well, you’ll be unlocking all kinds of upgrades or new weapons that seem to be generated from the song itself. That weapon then is attributed to that song and stays open for equipping once you’ve bought it with your note currency.
I always found Beat Hazards stumbling block was its complete lack of variety with enemies and while Symphony isn’t teeming with different types there’s more here than its rivals and it has boss songs too that give things extra drama. As you progress and level up your ship you’ll also be unlocking new difficulty levels too which seem to give you more to shoot at along the way. The graphics are sumptuous and there’s a general retro neon glow that exudes over the whole thing making it warm and inviting. There’s no slow down when things get busy either.
Like Audiosurf, Rhythm Zone and Beat Hazard there’s leader boards for each song and hopefully over time these will populate happily to make things more competitive from that edge. I have only come across one problem so far stability wise and that’s when it scans my music library, mine is quite large and it crashes the game to desktop each time and so I recommend going album by album just to be safe.
~The sole forward facing music generated shooter so auto-leads the genre
~Potentially limitless replay value if you have a big music collection
~Hours of fun customising your ship for your own playing style
~Online leader boards galore
~Keep your importing of your own mp3′s down to small manageable chunks (although its far quicker than Rhythm Zone!)
I hope the community take to Symphony as well as I have. This is certainly up there with Audiosurf, Rhythm Zone and I feel is a step higher than Beat Hazard to make it as part of the big trio of music generated games on the PC. Awesome from start to never end!
Those whom know me, know I love a one man band game. Thirty Flights of Loving is Brendon Chung’s ode to story telling by ripping out almost any gameplay mechanics and presenting you with an utterly linear, whirlwind tour of a short story.
It takes about 10-15 minutes tops to get through. It has no narrative, no voice over, no real text to speak of – its just the occasional music and what you see on screen. I imagine that it’s here to remind people that actually we can tell a story through the medium of gaming in a variety of ways but whilst I enjoyed it, it felt a bit like someone had also ripped the heart out of it too. There’s some genuine comedy to be had and that’s a bold statement. Comedy in gaming? A rarity that! I will say though that it didn’t strike an emotional level with me as say Dear Esther did, nor intrigue like Trauma. I certainly found it more interesting and invigorating that Dinner Date however!
~Excellent use of jump cuts and film making camera techniques
~Genuine tongue in cheek humour goes down well
~Overpriced for the experience it provides
Essentially a ten minute tech demo/story hybrid that’s trying to show new ways of borrowing from the film industry to improve games. It’s difficult to recommend this because for the majority of people, the point will be utterly missed. Perhaps that really is the point.
The wonders of Retro/Grade fall into two categories. The first is the effortlessly original rhythm twist on the music genre. The second is the full chip tune commitment to delivering a full experience. Combined they make an impressive game that everyone should try, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Retro/Grade is a Rhythm Action game set inside a 2D shooter. You play as a ship that needs to shoot bullets, missiles and lasers to the beat or melody of the current song. You’ll also be dodging the bullets as they come from your enemies. The twist is that you’re doing it all in reverse! You’ll be surprised at how much this changes how you see things. Your bullets are timed to hit your ship like notes of a staff coming right to left, you’ll be avoiding anything flying in from behind too. The highscore becomes a low score as you’ll be taking points off it with the end goal being getting as close to zero as possible. Missing bullets reduces your score multiplier to zero and thus effects the end score and there are score doublers which give you a tactical element to try to make the most of them when the tracks at its busiest.
Where Retro/Grade shines is in its learning curve. The ten levels are originally only playable with just two note rows. Once completed the next difficulty gives you three, then four, then five and then just crazy busy. You’ll be kept well on your toes. It’s also got a fantastic original soundtrack that hits somewhere between synth rock and chiptune. It’s a joy to play to. You’ll be playing a lot too for the score boards for the lowest scores and the extremely difficult 100% trophies on offer. Even when things get tough you know it’s been your errors and not the games because the controls are responsive and immediate with no delay at all – crucial for a game of this sort.
~Utterly unique twist and feel to the shooter and rhythm action genre
~Occasionally the visuals aren’t clear as to what’s coming
Retro/Grade is a fantastic game. Any rhythm action fan will lap this up over and over and it’s such a great twist on the genre, I’d firmly recommend this to anyone whose prepared to give some challenging games a good go and take their eyes of FPS’s for five seconds. There be buckets of fun to be had here!
Monkey Paw Games have been an utter saviour for me on the PS1/Ps2 import front. I wish a few more would make their way over and I didn’t have to have accounts for when I’m in other parts of the world to get stuff. One of their own titles however is a re-imagining of the 80′s classic Burgertime. With its new lease of life, has it recaptured the originals fun but sadistic game play? In a word – yes!
Burgertime World Tour takes all the good and all the bad of a game with a simple premise and runs with it. Cute playful graphics can only mask a few things but if the gameplay isn’t right it’ll fail regardless. Burgertime World Tour is hard as nails and unforgiving. Not to say Super Meat Boy standards, but with so many enemies chasing you around as you try to navigate the levels you’ll get caught out often. The aim is to make burgers by running over each ingredient and thus dropping it down to the next level of these giant tower structures. You’ll spend as much time hop, skipping and jumping as you will climbing ladders while being chased by chilli’s, sausages, pickles and the like. Each enemy has its own weakness to be navigated round and if you’re in a bind a limited supply pepper pot or spatula can get you out of certain death. Death will be seen all too often though.
You can fudge through the main game but some of the trophy challenges are for high score rankings which are based on time and no lives lost so speed running is essential for 100%’ers. There is also multiplayer action to be had with up to 4 players battling it out over the burgers and this is seriously great fun. Having three other people trying to tactically outwit each other while avoiding everyone else to collect the big points for burger completion is certainly an undervalued gem.
~Improves on the original concept
~Addictive and frustrating in equal measure but you’ll always be back for more
~Cute style graphics and music
~Multiplayer mode is a blast
~Some cheap deaths
Burgetime World Tour will sadly go down as a hidden gem. I’ll advocate to anyone to give them fantastic game a go. It’s like someone picked up an 80′s arcade and through it through a magical shower of late 90′s cuteness. What more could you possibly want?
(Also on XBL and WiiWare)
Music has always been an integral part of the game for me hence my love for VGM, so much so part of the site is dedicated to it. Music as part of the gameplay however can take things to a whole new level and this is where Sound Shapes comes in.
Five artists have given a collection of tracks across to the game and the music has been broken down into short repeated riffs that play almost as if a bar is going across the screen behind you ala Lumines, Chime and the like. This time however its a 2D platformer not a puzzler. You collect notes that will then develop and add to the song as you go and although you don’t have to do this, missing these notes will result in an incomplete song and there’s a certain buzz about turning all the instruments on. It’s not just that however. Enemies, obstacles, killer lazers and giant bombs, everything moves to the beat and therefore you’ve got to time the jumps right, dodge things on the dot and so on. Its fluid, intuitive and damn right fun.
The fun is enhanced by the fact each world has a very different visual style and a very different set of things to negotiate. Add to that the different artists’ music and you have a great cross-section of things to do within the premise. The main game itself is short and can be completed in a couple of hours but in a trend which I’m enjoying, that will only give you a single gold trophy. You then have Death Mode which are vastly more difficult timed challenges to complete. Think the trophy challenges on PixelJunk Monsters and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Some require absolutely blinding precision. That’s part of the fun though as the main game has unlimited lives and plenty of resets. Beat School is a Simon Says beat repetition mode which is also challenging especially if you’ve no sense of rhythm! There is also a great level maker tool and an online community that should fill up with lots of user levels and so on making the initial game a great platform to leap from. I’d expect maybe some DLC songs added at a later date too.
~Utterly entrancing gaming experience that does not compromise its vision once
~Solid controls makes platforming an ease
~ Longevity with trophy challenges and community fun
~PS3 and PS Vita version come in one purchase
~Maybe one or two more artists would have made this utterly stunning
A perfect combination of gaming art, sublime playing mechanics and some genuine moments of pure joy and awesomeness. Sound Shapes should be a game that is on everyone’s playlist as it crosses all the boarders and should intrigue, appeal and challenge every player it meets. Mesmerizing.
Be Jesus my head hurts! English Country Tune is one of the toughest puzzlers I’ve come across in ages! Why it’s called English Country Tune I’ve no idea but it just adds to the whole mystery of the thing which is as abstract a puzzler as it comes.
You are mostly a flipping board that flips from square face to square face around increasingly complex shapes pushing various things into its rightful place on the board. The flipping becomes vital however as gravity acts strangely in English Country Tune and is entirely directional. This means pushing something over an edge will then throw spheres (at the beginning) down long corridors and to impossible to solve situations. Thank goodness for the undo button and a restart button too so you can retrace as much as you need.
The difficulty curve is steep as you discover all the quirky world mechanics and each 10 levels or so the focus shifts to a new mechanic to solve. The result is a game that constantly evolves and has you utterly flummoxed at times. I’ve yet to complete it as I need to have breaks away while I ponder it. It does bring me back for more each time though and that’s the sure fire sign you’ve made a winner.
~Quirky gravity mechanics keep you on your toes
~100 levels for you to burst your brain on
~No Steam Achievements
For the companies first pay game, English Country Tune is a fine example of how to fry your audiences brain and get them coming back for more. *pop*
Longer review. It’s been a while since I’ve been utterly charmed by a game from start to finish. Possibly El Shaddai on the PS3 being the previous recent game. This is a point n click adventure utterly like no other.
Botanicula is part puzzle game and part interactive story book. Telling the tale of five friends living in a tree, you are introduced to some wonderfully imaginative imagery as each screen they trundle through (wohooing on the way) invites you to click on every pixel possible. Without giving too much away, the plot involves the tree you live in having its life sucked out of it. You must interact with all the other animals and beings in the tree to guard the tree and make it a safe place again. The animals are wondrous bunch and quite frankly barmy. The art style and musical cues and soundtrack absolutely sell the world you’re in. What’s even better is that some of the animals are just there to be clicked on for no reason other than just being there.
The game can be completed in just a couple of hours but that would be utterly missing the point. From just little squeals and funny dream sequences so much is gained from the five characters you really do feel connected and want to help them in their plight. Their plight always has a tongue-in-cheek humour to it and it’s not afraid of making fun of itself. The puzzles themselves are a real mix from item collecting to dexterity puzzles. Nothing will stump you for too long as long as you pay attention.
~Utterly unique world to interact
~More character than most games in just the first ten minutes
~Sublime soundtrack from DVA
~Fantastically well pitched to cater for all
Botanicula resonates with me on every level. It’s fun, interactive, beautiful, quirky, very European in its humour, slightly dark and foreboding and carries an overall bigger message about friendship and pollution. I fell completely in love with it from start to finish, it doesn’t out stay its welcome and never retreads old ground. A piece of video gaming heaven. I urge everyone to try it.
Sometimes the most silly of things is what makes a game and that’s exactly what happened with Winter Stars when it included a story mode about a group of athletes trying to win their cups with some truly nutty cut-scenes that made little sense. Summer Stars 2012 is 49 Games’s latest Olympic sports game and while it takes the story mode on as a fully fleshed out career mode, the story isn’t nearly as stupidly good.
18 events are on offer although the running and swimming all handle exactly the same. Gone are the long distance events this time, obviously not getting much last time. Fencing gets a massive overhaul and now far more slicker and less wooden. It’s still a reaction time button game but there’s far more going on than the terribly stilted version last time out. Archery too has been tightened up with a better wind effect system. Diving however has taken a bit of a turn for the worse with a difficult Simon Says game that wants everything so exact it’s very difficult to get right. Pole Vault too suffers from awkward controls. Clearly ported over from Winter Stars is the BMX event which plays like a Snowcross event from the winter games with a basic trick system.
It’s all pinned together in a nice career which 49 Games always do well. Each tier has lots of hexagons in, each representing a challenge to accomplish. The results then level up your athlete and give you skill points to unlock upgrades. It’s then well worth going back and getting gold standard on the earlier challenges if you’re on the hunt for trophies. It’s all wrapped up in a story mode where the main characters this time aren’t so offbeat silly and its left to our Get Sports rowing commentary team to provide the “laughs”. Again, it’s so bad its good. Sadly there’s no online modes but 4 players locally is a good call as these games are more enjoyable locally. It doesn’t shy away from a good waggle of the stick and move controllers are catered for and well looked after.
~The return of so-bad-its-awesome story mode (including the Mascot Bunnies!!!)
~Much tighter controls and graphics than previous entries
~Some creative trophies
~Full move support
~Doesn’t have as many events as London 2012
~Doesn’t support online multiplayer
I’ve always had a soft spot for this series. I prefer Winter Stars’ career mode but this gives London 2012 a decent run for its money. You can pick it up at less than half the price already and while yes, London 2012 is the better game, this goes more for the old skool style of Olympic games and therefore a slightly different audience. I feel there’s room for both in your collection if you enjoy these types of games.
Hasbro have had a lovely little run going with their game nights series. However Game Night 4 certainly drops the ball across the board (boom-boom) with their swap to smaller motion based titles and rehashing previous entries.
The biggest disappointment choice wise is that 3 and 4 player modes have been dropped. It’s hardly a family game night now if only two can play! Similarly whilst the optional motion control is well implemented, the games themselves are uninspired. Connect 4 is now a basketball game which is fun but over in 30 seconds. Bop It! becomes a Simon Says game where the AI team fail straight away. Sorry Sliders returns in a much smaller, poorer version from the original game night with less modes and only two sliders per team. Yahtzee is a bowling game and is utterly random. Boggle continues to be the same word game as usual – entertaining but again over very quickly.
There is however a massive game play flaw and that’s Mr Monopoly Cash Machine. Each game wins you a ticket to feed into the machine at the end. You then get credits based given to you per win. The problem? These credits are utterly random and one is usual a massive amount. Several times I’ve won all five games and the credits do not add up to the amount you get from the freebie ticket given at the start of the game! It renders who wins each game utterly pointless and redundant. Well done there game developers…
~Good motion controls
~Awful sound quality
~A much poor cousin of the rest of the series
~No longer 3/4 player modes available
~Monopoly Cash Prizes ruin the entire experience
What a step back. Poorer conceived, stupid game mechanics and frankly not enough to do. What is there you can only play in pairs with now too. When you look at the series as a whole, this is by far the black sheep of the group. I have not seen such a blatant downgrade in a game series in a while. Avoid.
Also available for Wii/Xbox360
I’ve purposely let a bit of time slip over from my initial reaction to Dirt Showdown in order to review this properly. The title itself really appears to have divided the Dirt franchise fans. I think the easiest way to deal with it is pretend it’s not a Dirt game and that it just borrows heavily from some of its influences. Initially I found this and Showdown as a whole to be a fantastic product. I was raving about it. The longer I’ve spent with it though, the sheen has very quickly worn off and now I feel like it’s a bit of a half way house.
Marketed as an absolute smashfest, I was expecting Destruction Derby. Instead we get a game that feels like the heaviest Dirt 3 vehicles left to ram each other with a boost button round several bland circuits. We have normal races which infuriate due to the fact that the rubber banding on the AI means no matter how good or bad a job you’re doing, you’ll get rammed regardless. It eventually means that you get no real rewards for doing a great job and on single player, just rev it like mad at the end and ta-daaa – 1st place. The same goes for 8-Ball events which are tracks with tons of cross over sections. These are more interesting and infuriating in equal measure depending on your view on luck. Domination (winning points on getting the fastest sector) is hampered by the rubber banding. Do really well, they’ll suddenly boost and catch up and you’ll be last! Also marvel at the bland circuits that you race forwards, backwards and between day and night. The track choice is decidedly uninspiring and limited. We then move onto the crashing events which form about a 20% section of the game. Getting in a bowl and smashing into each other is great fun, however the collision detection for scoring appears to not register quite often and sometimes a massive hit gets little points and the smallest tap gets a huge points haul.
Taking the game online with friends does iron out some of the kinks as effectively the rubber banding is effectively gone and the crash detection is the same for everyone. There’s also some great party games including the return of transporter and some great checkpoint finding modes or holding onto the parcel games. In this area Showdown absolutely excels and I’ve nothing but praise for it. As soon as it comes back to the core racing however, because it doesn’t commit to its smash-up vision properly and feels like a clunky sim – the two elements don’t mix particularly well. I felt like it needed to go completely arcade in driving physics and style.
~Fantastic online modes which run perfectly smoothly
~Can be genuinely fun if it clicks
~Collision detection is slightly off
~Rubber banding is so bad it ruins the single player experience
~Dull and uninspired cars and tracks
~The most cheesiest, annoying voice over commentary committed to this gen
I’ve spent the vast majority of the review pointing out my misgivings with Showdown. It is still fun to play. It’s got the usual Codemaster’s sheen all over it. It just feels a bit of an empty experience unless you’re with friends online and it also feels like it’s not fully committed to what it’s trying to be either.