Category Archives: Video Game Review

The Simpsons Arcade Game Review: Revisit an Arcade Classic

One of the things I remember from my youth is Chucky Cheeses. It wasn’t for it’s pizza, however, but the arcade games you could play. One of the games I would play was The Simpsons Arcade Game. I’d spend all my tokens playing it every time we were at Chucky Cheeses. What pleasant surprise I got when the game was re-released on Xbox Live Marketplace earlier this year. Despite it’s age, The Simpsons Arcade Game’s is still fun after all these years.

The Simpsons Arcade Game begins with the Simpsons family walking through Springfield as Waylon Smithers and a couple of his goons steal a diamond from the Jewelry store. While running from the cops, Waylon bumps into Homer, and the diamond is knocked out of his hands. Homer’s daughter Maggie snatches the diamond in her mouth, which prompts Smithers to kidnap Maggie. The Simpson family then sets out on a wild goose chase to rescue Maggie; ready to fight whatever stands in their way.

In the game, 4 players take control of one of the 4 remaining Simpson family members; Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa. Each family member fights with a unique weapon; Marge fights with a vacuum, Bart attacks with his skateboard, Lisa wields her jump rope like a whip, and Homer fights with his fists. As the player, you must fight your way through several levels to get to Maggie; facing various enemies along the way. At the end of every level , there is a boss that must be defeated before you van progress to the next level. There are a variety items in which you can find and use to attack enemies and even regain health. Naturally you lose a life when you run out of health and face a game over when you run out of lives unless you use a continue. The number of continues you have depends on which game mode you are playing.

There are a variety of game modes and features in the re-release of The Simpsons Arcade Game. The game features both online and offline co-op for players to play with each other. After beating the American version of the game, players can unlock and play the Japanese version; which features more items and allows players to gain more health. Both versions feature 3 different modes which alters the game difficulty a bit. Quarters mode recreates the arcade experience by giving you a limited number of continues, while Free-Play mode gives you an unlimited amount of continues for a more casual experience. If you’re looking for a challenge, Survival mode gives you only one life and no continues. In addition to the game modes, there are unlockable rewards the player can earn for beating the game; such as game-related art and sound tests.

I hadn’t played The Simsposns Arcade Game in years, so it was nice to be able to play it again. It was quite a surprise though, because the game was quite different than I remember it to be. I was able to beat the game in less than two hours thanks to the game’s Free-Play mode. Back when I was a kid, I could never beat the game thanks to the limit number of quarters I had and my lack of skill (I was much younger after all). Boy have things changed since then. The game’s short length may seem like a let down, but it makes sense when you think about it. After all, it’s an arcade game that comes from a time in which video games didn’t last forever with their endless quests and exploration. Besides, the re-release features unlockables and other extras that make the game worth playing more than once.

If you enjoyed The Simpsons Arcade Game back in the day, or if you enjoy beat-em up style games, then this downloadable re-release is worth the $10 you’ll pay for it. Those who enjoy big, adventurous games may want to pass on it though. The Simpsons Arcade Game is rather short after all and the $10 might be better spent on game add-ons or other downloadable games. Despite this, it is still a fun game that is filled with nostalgia. As somebody who enjoyed playing The Simpsons Arcade Game in his youth, I was definitely happy to get my hands on it again after all these years.


The Sims Medieval Review: A Medieval Letdown

I have been the biggest fan of The Sims series for as long as I can remember. It should be no surprise then that I got excited when the spin-off game, The Sims Medieval, was announced. I mean, it’s a Sims game set in the medieval times; how cool is that?!? I went ahead, preordered the game, and impatiently waited for its arrival.  When The Sims Medieval finally came in the mail, I frantically ripped open the box, open the game case, popped the game right into my PC, and started playing. Unfortunately, the game ended up disappointing me. While I did find The Sims Medieval fun, it was not as good as I hoped it would be.

The basic premise of The Sims Medieval is to build a kingdom and meet your kingdom’s ambition. An ambition is basically the ultimate goal you want your kingdom to achieve. These goals range from maximizing your kingdom’s renown (reputation), to annexing as many foreign territories as possible. You work to achieve this goal by doing quests and expanding your kingdom. While most of the quests have you playing just as one hero, some of them require you to play multiple heroes at one. Some quests require you to use a particular hero, so you’ll have to unlock that hero first before you can do the quest. When you complete a quest, you receive a medal and resource points based on your performance. Resource points are used to build things in your kingdom, such as a knight’s barracks, a town square or a marketplace. Expanding your kingdom not only improves its status but also unlocks other heroes for you to play as.

When you first build your kingdom, the only hero you can play as is the Monarch, but as I said before, expanding your kingdom gives you more heroes to choose from. Besides the Monarch, you can play as a Knight, a Spy, a Wizard, a Priest, a Bard, a Blacksmith, a Doctor, and a Merchant. Each hero has their own unique abilities and interactions. The Sims Medieval features an experience system in which heroes gain experience and level up as they complete quests and duties throughout the game.  Leveling up improves a heroes abilities and makes it easier to complete certain tasks. Some of these tasks include crafting items from ingredients found in the kingdom, or sparring with other heroes in a sword fight. While these things don’t make The Sims Medieval a fully-fledged roleplaying game, they do help add a little sustenance to the game’s medieval setting.

Aside from its roleplaying elements, The Sims Medieval sports the simulation aspects that The Sims series is known for. Heroes can develop relationships with the Kingdom’s NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) and end up becoming friends, enemies, or even lovers with them. They can even get married and have children if you so desire. The needs system also makes a return; requiring you to make sure your Hero’s daily needs are met. The only difference in The Sims Medieval is that your Heroes must fulfill their needs using medieval technology. The game is set in the medieval times after all. Finally, The Sims Medieval has a Create-a-Hero mode that let’s’ you make your own Heroes to use in the game. With this, you can put yourself in the game or just about anybody else you can imagine. Of course if you’re not in the mood, you can just use the pre-made heroes the game offers.

Despite its attempt at offering the “official” medieval experience, The Sims Medieval ends up falling short. Rather than offering you the tools to build the kingdom of your dreams, the game takes the reins and places buildings for you in the exact same place every time you play. You don’t even get to choose how the buildings look like either. The only thing the game lets you customize is the interior of the buildings. Another problem I had with The Sims Medieval is that the game kind of cheats you out of the action. Let me give you an example. Rather than get to fight a dragon yourself, the game will show you a “slideshow” of your hero killing the dragon. That’s right; you see a picture of somebody fighting a dragon instead of fighting it yourself. Kind of a rip off if you ask me.

In the end, The Sims Medieval is fun to play, but doesn’t offer you the full medieval experience. The game also has a hard time appealing to its target audience. It doesn’t have enough RPG elements to satisfy the RPG fan and it doesn’t have the simulation aspects that The Sims series is known for. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the game a try. The Sims Medieval is still fun despite its flaws and there’s defiantly plenty of humor as well. If you’re expecting a game that features in-depth customization and action-packed adventure, however, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Saints Row 3 Review: Mayhem, Perversion, Fun

Every once in a while, you just want to play a video game that lets you do a bunch of crazy thing. When I say crazy things, I mean causing a whole lot of nonsense in the digital world. Saints Row: the Third knows that’s what you want and caters to it. It’s a game that deliberately throws all kinds of perverted humor in your face and allows you cause uncanny mayhem just for the sake of fun. But enough about that; let me explain why Saints Row 3 is fun.

Saints Row 3 puts you in the shoes of the Boss, the leader (who is male or female, depending on your choice) of a gang called the 3rd Street Saints. The Saints are big celebrities; having their own merchandise and a movie deal in the works. This all changes, however, when the gang attempts to rob a bank owned by a crime organization called the Syndicate. After escaping the clutches of the Syndicate, the boss and his friends find themselves in the Syndicate controlled city of Steelport. Not willing to be pushed around the Syndicate, the Saints decide to takeover Steelport and bring the Syndicate down.

Since Saints Row 3 is a sandbox game, you will spend most of their time roaming the city of Steelport. To advance the story, players must complete missions which involve them doing different tasks to take down the Syndicate. Doing missions not only advances the story, but gives you rewards as well; such as new weapons, vehicles, or activities to participate in. Speaking of activities, there are a wide variety of things you can do in addition to missions. Some of these things involve committing insurance fraud, doing some drug trafficking , and even rescuing hookers from pimps. Completing activities rewards you with cash and respect, which is used to buy upgrades and perks for your character (such as extra health or unlimited ammo).

In addition to letting you cause great amounts of mayhem, Saints Row 3 offers a nice deal of customization. Players can create their character; choosing not only their gender and looks, but their voice and animations as well. You can purchase apparel in various shops in Steelport and even get plastic surgery if you want to change your character’s look. Saints Row 3 allows you to share your character online and download characters other players have created. Aside from customizing your character, you can customize your vehicles, your hideouts, and even the look of your gang.

Roaming the streets of Steelport can be fun, but it can be even more fun with a friend! Saints Row 3 features a co-op mode that allows you to play with another friend. Players can team up and cause all kinds of commotion in the game. Activities can be completed by working together, and you both will earn rewards for doing so. Mission can also be done together, but only the host progresses in the story. If the players want to, they can split up and do their own thing the game world. The downside to co-op mode is that only two people can play with each other at a time, but at least it’s better than nothing.

Despite the outrageous fun it has to offer, Saints Row 3 does have its flaws. The story is rather disappointing compared to previous installments in the Saints Row franchise. It starts out strong but ends up falling really short. There is a real lack of build up to the climax, which itself is somewhat of a letdown. The missions can be repetitive too; but they’re still fun thankfully.

In the end, Saints Row 3 is a fun game that mix outrageous gameplay with wild, perverted humor. You’ll have a blast causing all sorts of mayhem and destruction across Steelport. This may not be the best narrative you‘ll experience, but it will certainly take you for a ride if you let it. If you’re looking to unwind and let off some steam, Saints Row 3 may be the game for you.

Full House Poker Review: Win Big

One of the things my siblings and I like to do together is play poker. We’ll get the cards out and start playing Texas hold ’em, using pretzels as our chips (because we don’t have any actual poker chips to play with). While there would be the occasional quarrel between us (what else do you expect from siblings?), in the end it was all good fun. Now I have seen poker featured in some video games, but only as a extra activity that the player can participate. That changed last year, however, when the downloadable game Full House Poker was released on the Xbox 360.

Those who know how to play poker, or the Texas hold ’em variation, shouldn’t have much trouble playing Full House Poker. If you’re new to poker, or just don’t know how to play the Texas hold ’em variation, there are tutorials in the game that can teach you how to play. Full House Poker offers both single and multi-player modes for you to play, with the latter being available online only. In single player mode, players play against computer-controlled characters in either a standard game of Texas hold ’em, or in a Tournament. Multi-player mode allows players to play with other players online. There is no local multi-player mode, however, due to the fact that players would be able to see each other cards. You’d probably be better off playing poker with real cards when your friends are over anyway.

While game modes are the main focus of Full House Poker; there are many other features included that enhance the experience. When playing the game, players use their Xbox Avatar as their character; which is nice considering there are not many games that utilize them. Full House Poker features an leveling system in which players gain experience points and level up as they play. You are rewarded with several bonuses when you level up; such as titles (nicknames), abilities, and customization items.

That brings me to another cool aspect of Full House Poker; the customization system. While Xbox Avatars are customized outside of games, you can customize your avatar’s attire in the game using outfits you have unlocked. Not only can you customize your avatar, you can customize the environment in which you play in as well. You can change the venue, the appearance of the poker table, the chairs, and even the deck of cards used to play. It may not seem like much but it certainly adds a nice touch to the game.

To you the truth, I don’t really have many complaints about Full House Poker. I did have a problem with the lack of local multi-player at first, but I got over that quickly. After all, you just need a pack of cards to play poker with your friends. That doesn’t render Full House Poker useless of course. It’s perfect for the player who doesn’t have anybody to play with, or wants to play with their friends when they’re not around. The ability to customize your poker experience is really nice too and the leveling/reward system keeps wanting to play more.

In the end, I find Full House Poker to be an enjoyable game. It takes Texas hold em’ and makes it even more enjoyable by adding fun incentives to the game. After all, what poker fan doesn’t like being rewarded for playing a good hand or two? While it doesn’t beat playing poker with a real deck, it’s sure to quench the thirst of any poker addict. I may not always be there to play poker with my siblings, but with Full House Poker, I can play with them even when I’m far away.

Bully Review: It’s Fun Being Juvenile

For most people, the teenage years were some of the best years of their lives. Who doesn’t reminisce about the good old days of their youth? Of course, being a teenage does have its share of problems. Bullies, cliques, acme and raging hormones are just some of troubles we went through when we were kids. It’s these exact problems in which the video game Bully revolves around.

Bully puts you in control of Jimmy Hopkins; a 15 year-old delinquent who attends a boarding school called Bullworth Academy. He was forced to attend Bullworth Academy after his mother dumped him at the school so she could go on a year-long honeymoon cruise with her newlywed husband. The game follows Jimmy’s escapades at the school. He stands up to the various bullies, cliques, and the occasional disgruntled faculty member while getting into all sorts of mischief.

The story of Bully is divided by 5 chapters; each one focusing on a clique that Jimmy faces. You advance the plot by doing various missions throughout the game world. The game doesn’t force you to do missions, however. Bully is a free roaming game so you can ignore the missions, explore the game environment, and make your own fun if you like. As you play the game, more areas become available to you.

Unfortunately, Jimmy doesn’t have the ability to roam freely all the time. He has classes that he must attend to during the game. Jimmy is in school, after all. Each class has a mini-game that must be completed and completing them earns you rewards. You can try to skip class if you like but you have to avoid the authorities or you’ll get caught. The good new is that you don’t have to go to classes any more once you completed them all.

Eventually you’re going to run into trouble and Jimmy is going to have to be prepared for a fight. Luckily for you, Jimmy has a lot of tools at his disposal. Aside from his fists, Jimmy uses a slingshot, bags of marbles, stink bombs, fire crackers, eggs, itching powder, a bottle rocket launcher, and a even a spud cannon to vanquish his foes and wreck havoc. While you can get around Bullworth on foot, sometimes you need a faster form of transportation; especially if you’re running away from the jocks or authority figures. If that is the case, just hop on Jimmy’s skateboard or acquire yourself a bike. You might even get your hands on a go-kart if you play your cards right.

Probably the best part of Bully is its open world in which you can explore. It’s quite fun running around the town making mischief or discover what secrets lie within the city. There are plenty of things to do around Bullworth besides completing missions and attending classes. There are jobs and errands you can do for money, races you can compete in, mini games you can play, and even a carnival you can visit. You can even help out with the school yearbook by taking pictures of everybody around the academy. If that wasn’t enough, there are a butt load of collectibles you can find throughout the game. There will plenty of things left to do once you complete the game‘s story.

There are a few problems with Bully unfortunately. The game can get a little buggy and you might find Jimmy stuck in some items from time to time. The animations are not the best either, but this game is from 2006 after all. As for gameplay, the only problem I have with Bully is the “rules system” players have to follow. Basically, the game tries to punish you for causing mischief; such as staying up past curfew or hitting other students. You have to run away from teachers, prefects, and policemen if you’re spotted being a delinquent. Getting caught causes you to get detention, where you‘ll be forced to play a tedious lawn mowing mini-game. It’s annoying, but it won’t ruin the experience thankfully.

Bully’s witty humor and fun gameplay makes the experience quite enjoyable. Sure, the game has a few quirks here and there, but that shouldn’t stop you from having fun. In the end, Bully manages to make the teen years worth revisiting ; even if it takes it all over the top sometimes. If you’re looking for a chance to relive your youth, look no further.

The Elder Scrolls Skyrim Review: Just Plain Epic

There are many games out there that fail to offer any adventure or excitement to those that play them. But there are some games that are so well made that they just suck you in. The Elder Scroll 5: Skyrim is one of these games. After playing Skyrim for hours, I have to save that people will lose themselves in the game’s world. Today, I’m going to tell you why that is.

In Skyrim, players take the role of the “Dovahkiin/Dragonborn”, a person born with the soul of a dragon. This gives them the ability to absorb the souls of dragons and gain great power. It is prophesied that a dragon god named Alduin will return and destroy the world unless the Dragonborn destroys him. Naturally, the Dragonborn sets off to gain power so he/she can defeat Alduin and save the world. Of course, there are many other adventures to be had in Skyrim, but it’s all up to the player in the end.

The world of Skyrim is quite large, and there’s many places for the player to explore. In fact, there are about 9 capitals to visit, along with numerous towns, dungeons, caves, forts, and other locations. Interesting characters inhabit Skyrim and they can be interacted with in various ways. Some sell items to you, give the you quests, act as a companion, or just exist to populate the world. Monsters also roam the land and can be a threat to you if you’re not efficiently prepared.

With all the monsters lurking about in the game, you’re bound to have to defend yourself at some point. You can use a variety of weapons in the game; swords, daggers, bows, axes, hammers, greatswords, mace, battleaxes, and even magic. There are shields available too for those who want extra defense. Skyrim allows you to dual wield weapons, so you could fight with two swords or fight with an axe in one hand and a fireball spell in the other. Some monsters in the game are weak to certain weapons so it pays to carry more than on with you. As you fight monsters, your character will become stronger and gain more abilities.

Leveling in Skyrim is different than most role playing games. The player’s overall level is governed by the level of his skills. Skill experience is gained by performing task related to the skill; sneaking around increases your sneak skill, brewing potions increases your alchemy skill, ect. When your skills have increased enough, then your overall level will increase and you’ll get to raise either your magic, health, or stamina. You’ll also earn perks points which are used to purchase perks. Perks are special abilities and bonuses that enhance your skills; such as having better aim with your bow or being able to pickpocket people more easily.

There are many things to do in Skyrim besides saving the world from dragons. You can join the Companions and become a mercenary, or join the Thieves Guild and become a master thief. If you like to use magic, then you can join the Mages Guild and learn powerful spells. Those who like to assassinate people can join the Dark Brotherhood and become a professional assassin. Finally, there is a Civil War going on in Skyrim and you’ll have the choice of siding with either the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Legions. Aside from joining the guilds, you can do side quests for the various citizens in Skyrim.

Skyrim does exceptionally well when it comes to graphics and sound. Not only do people look attractive, there is great diversity in their appearance as well. The voice acting for these characters is superb, which helps bring them to life. The world is beautiful too and much detail was put into it. Some places are blanketed in snow, while flora flourishes in others. There are mountainous areas, wide open plains, and even some forests too. Best of all, Skyrim’s music fit’s the game’s atmosphere perfectly; with adrenaline pumping tracks for fights or adventurous tunes for exploration. Fans of The Elder Scrolls series will recognize a few of the music tracks are from Oblivion and Morrowind.

In the end, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim takes everything you know about epic adventure and makes it even more epic. The world is just brimming with interesting characters to meet and a variety of activities to participate in. With tons of quests to complete, monsters to fight, places to explore, and rewards to discover, you’ll end up spending hours playing Skyrim. If you’re looking for great adventure in a fantastic world, look no further.

Super Mario RPG Review: One of Mario’s Greatest Adventures!

Most people know Mario from the famous video game, Super Mario Brothers. It is the game that started the Italian plumber’s career, after all. Since then, Mario has had tons of crazy adventures, dabbled in sports, and even thrown a couple of parties. Growing up, I played many of Mario’s games and enjoyed them all. My favorite Mario game, however, would have to be Super Mario RPG. Back in 2008, it was re-released on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console. Since people can now get their hands on Super Mario RPG again, I thought it would be a good idea to do a review for the game.

The story begins with Princess Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser (surprised?), and Mario running off to save her. He enters Bowser’s castle and confronts the villain, but is interrupted when a giant sword crashes into the castle. The crash ends up sending Mario, Bowser and Princess Peach flying in different directions. When Mario comes to, he rushes off to the Mushroom Kingdom to tell the chancellor the bad news. The chancellor asks Mario to go to find Peach and discover the purpose of the giant sword. So once again, Mario sets out on a epic journey; not sure who to meet or what to expect.

Super Mario RPG features Mario and his allies battling enemies in turn based combat. There are a variety of moves and items that Mario and his friends can use to defeat them. The game uses a timed button press system, in which moves and abilities are enhanced if you press the button at the right time. Unlike in most role playing games, battles do not occur randomly when you are moving around in the game. Instead, enemies appear in the games environments and only battle Mario and the gang if they come in contact with them. Thus, it is possible for you to avoid a battle if you avoid the enemy. When you’re not busy saving the world, you’ll be spending your time in towns either resting, chatting with the locals, or buying much needed supplies. There are also various mini-games you’ll end up playing throughout the course of the game; which are fun and mix things up a little.

The only complaint I have about Super Mario RPG is that Mario’s brother, Luigi, is not in the game. I found that kind of odd because he usually is in most Mario games. Other than that, this game is quite enjoyable to say the least. Battles are fun and challenging, but never really frustrating if you know what you’re doing. The graphics are colorful and the music is very catchy too. Super Mario RPG’s is also filled with all the charm and humor that you can expect from a Mario game. When it comes down to it, this game does well in all aspects.

Even after all these years, Super Mario RPG is still an amazing game; filled with the nostalgia of old school video games. Not only is it one of the best games in the Mario series, it’s one of the best Nintendo games out there! I loved it as a kid and still do to this day. It’s definitely a game worth revisiting; and the fact that it’s on the Wii’s Virtual Console makes it easy to do so. Whether you like role playing games or are a fan of Mario, you are sure to enjoy this classic.

Red Dead Redemption Review: The West at its Best

Recently, my brother started wanting to play Red Dead Redemption again. Having played it myself, I thought it would be a good idea to do a review for the game. Red Dead: Redemption was marketed as an action-adventure game set in the famous Old West, with cowboys and the like. Does it manage to replicate the Western experience or does it fall short? Well, let’s take a look.

The story takes place in the American Old West in the year 1911, and follows a former outlaw called John Marston. John is face with a dilemma when his wife Abigail and his son Jack are taken away by the government. All though Mr. Marston’s days of crime are over, his former gang members are still at large. In order to see his wife and son again, John must bring his old friends to justice. Having no choice, John agrees to help the government in order to save his family.

Red Dead Redemption features a big, open world which captures the “West” feeling very well. You’ll feel like you’re in one of those old Western movies, if you know what I mean. Players can move around in the world on foot, but there are many other means of transportation available as well. You can buy a horse (or tame wild ones, if that’s your style) to ride around, or you can ride the train or a stage coach. Swimming is not an option, however, because John cannot swim; and he will drown if you try to make him. I was a little disappointed by this, but it doesn’t really

Like many action-adventure games, combat plays a heavy role in Red Dead Redemption. John’s has many types of guns at his disposal and he can even use his knife if things get up close and personal. If in danger, John can take cover behind objects, where he can blind fire or target his enemies. There is even a special ability called Dead Eye, which slows down time and allows John to shoot specific parts of the body. It’s similar to bullet time in other games, such as Max Payne. Gun fights also takes place on horseback and stage coach; adding a bit of variety to the game. Overall the combat is fun, but it also captures the feel of Western shootouts.

While his main focus is to rescue his family, John can participate in other activities as well. There are challenges that can be completed, strangers to help out, and even a cinema where John can watch some funny films. He can also hunt animals, collect bounties, gamble, compete in duels, race horses, arm wrestling, and even cause mischief if you so desire. By participating in these events, John can earn money to spend on helpful items; such as powerful weapons and curatives. With the wide variety of activities, players will experience John’s adventure for days.

Of course, players can’t go around doing whatever they want without consequence. There’s a morality and wanted system which will encourage players to think about the things they do. Depending on his actions, John can either gain or lose honor, which will effect how people will react to him. Committing crimes can put a bounty on John’s head and send the law after him. Even if he escapes, there is still a chance that bounty hunters will come after him. The crime and reputation system defiantly adds to the Western atmosphere of Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption is an excellent game, and I am quite impressed with it. Rockstar Games did a very good job at recreating the Wild West; putting some incredible detail into the world. The game has an amazing story with a terrific cast of characters; many of which never fail to amuse me. There are so many things to do in John’s world that you’ll find your self left with plenty to even after you’ve beaten the game! The music fit’s the Western atmosphere perfectly and the graphics are appealing as well. Red Dead Redemption is certainly worth playing and definitely deserves to be apart of your collection.

Soul Calibur 5 Review: Souls and Swords Collide

Soul Calibur 5 is the most recent entry in the popular weapon-based fighting game franchise. It hopes to reinvent the series by introducing a new story while revamping the gameplay. While it’s story lacks in comparison to previous Soul Calibur games, Soul Calibur 5 manages to be a great fighting game with fun, competitive gameplay.

The story is set 17 years after the events of Soul Calibur 4 and focuses on two new characters, Patroklos and Phyrra. The two are the children of Sophita, who played a prominent role in the past Soul games. Phyrra is inflicted with malfestation, a curse inflicted on her by the evil sword known as Soul Edge. She and her brother travel Europe in hopes of finding a cure and defeating Soul Edge.

Unfortunately, Soul Calibur 5’s story fails to impress; especially when compared to previous Soul Calibur games. Many of the new characters lack personality and are boring (not all are thankfully). Most of them barely appear in the story anyway; which makes you wonder whether they put much thought into the writing. To makes matters worse, all of the new characters were made to replace characters from earlier Soul Calibur  games, who are a lot more interesting than the new ones. There are also plot holes that make the story confusing at some moments. Some events don’t make sense, and I was frequently left wondering what happened to certain characters. It isn’t the worse story present in a video game, but it certainly doesn’t have the quality previous Soul Calibur games had.

Thankfully, while Soul Calibur 5’s story fails, it’s gameplay excels. Combat is fun, fast, and competitive; making it perfect for hardcore gamers. It is also easy for newcomers to pick up a controller and start playing as well. The game’s online mode allows players from all around the world to fight, and even chat while watching other people play. For those who are not interested in online play, V.S. mode allows two people to play against each other. If you’re the type that likes to play alone, there’s arcade mode which let’s you play against the computer. Finally, there’s a character creation mode that allows you to create your own character to use in the game. With the addition of a leveling system that rewards you with unlockables as you play, Soul Calibur 5 will keep you coming back for more.

Gameplay aside, Soul Calibur 5 also has great graphics and sound. The music is top notch, with a variety of tracks that perfectly fit the game‘s fast paced action. Voice acting is also well done; despite the fact some of the characters are a bit dull. As for the graphics, Soul Calibur 5 happens to be one of the most visually appealing fighting games to date; featuring beautiful stages and characters.

Despite having a lackluster story, Soul Calibur 5 is a great game that features fun, competitive gameplay, great visuals, and a nice soundtrack to boot. With online multiplayer, character creation, and a variety of unlockables, you’ll keep yourself occupied for a while. If you enjoy fighting games, and don’t mind one with a bad story, Soul Calibur 5 may be the game for you.

Dragon’s Dogma Review: East Meets West

Dragon’s Dogma is the latest game from Capcom that attempts to mix elements from both Western and Eastern RPGs to make a great game full of action and adventure. The question is, “does this combination work well or is the game an utter disaster?” After playing Dragon’s Dogma, I am happy to say that it is one of the best games I have played this year.

The story begins right after you have created your character. He (or she) is minding their own business when a dragon suddenly swoops down out of nowhere and starts attacking the hero’s hometown. After nearly knocking the hero out, the dragon tells him that he is the “chosen one” just before stealing his heart. Miraculously,  the hero does not die and discovers that he is the “Arisen”; a legendary hero destined to defeat the dragon. Our hero then sets out on a journey to slay the dragon, get his heart back, and save the world.

There are many vocations the player’s character may have in Dragon’s Dogma. They include mage,  fighter, or  rogue as well as a variety of other occupations. All vocations have a unique set of skills that make them play differently than the others. For example, fighters will get into the heat of battle while rangers will shoot arrows from afar. The game lets players change their hero’s vocation thus allowing them to play the game differently if they so desire.

One of the unique features of Dragon’s  Dogma is the pawn system. Pawns are followers who serve the hero and aid him on his journey to slay the dragon. They have vocations just like the hero and will utilize their skills according to the hero’s needs. Players get to create their very own pawn, who acts as the hero’s sidekick. The other pawns you hire are actually pawns that other players have created. You can rate pawns, leave comments, and send the person who created them a gift! Other players can do the same with your pawn, so can see how helpful your pawn is in other player’s games. While in other player’s games,  pawns can gain knowledge of enemies, quests, and locations. This makes them fight better, as well as give you helpful advice in the game. The pawn system offers a unique multiplayer experience that you do not see in most games today.

Combat is probably the best feature of Dragon’s Dogma. It features both high paced action and strategy. Whether you’re bashing enemies with a shield or igniting them with a fire spell, combat is satisfying regardless of your hero’s vocation. Pawns will fight enemies on their own, all though the player can order them to aid the hero or flee if the battle is too difficult. Boss battles are really fun as they are not only challenging but also require strategizing.  When facing a cyclops, for example, you’ll want to attack it’s eye so you can blind it. You can actually climb bosses and attack them in different areas too, which is pretty cool if you ask me. There’s nothing more satisfying than climbing up an ogre and stabbing him in the back.

The world of Dragon’s Dogma is pretty big and it takes a while to see what it has to offer. Woodlands, caves,  beaches are only some of the places for players to discover. It’s not as grand as Skyrim, but it is still pretty interesting. The world is also filled with items for players to collect; like harvesting plants from the ground or mining ore and other minerals. You can combine these items to create new ones or use them to enhance weapons and armor. Pawns can help the hero gather materials in the game, which can make things easier for you.

Dragon’s Dogma does well in the sound and graphics department. Graphically, the game is visually pleasant thanks to the beautiful environment and attractive game characters. Granted, some of the characters look ugly, but thankfully the rest look great. As for sound, Dragon’s Dogma shines in the music department. There are many tunes for different occasions, such as being in town or traveling on the road. The best has to be the combat music, however. When fighting a boss, the music is intense and epic, just as it should be! The voice acting in dragon’s dogma is pretty good. It’s not exactly academy award winning, but it definitely isn’t bad either. Trust me, you won’t be compelled to put your TV on mute.

I do have a couple of complaints about Dragon’s Dogma. For one, I do not like the fact that you only have one save file per Xbox profile. This limits you to only be able to create one character. Thankfully, you can unlock the ability to change your character’s and pawn’s looks whenever you want. You are even able to change their physical attributes such as sex and skin color. It still stinks that you can’t have more than one character for role playing purposes though. Another issue I have is the lack of multiplayer in the game. Sure, I can hire my friend’s pawn in the game, but I can’t actually “play with my friend.” It would have been nice to be able to team up with my friends and kick some butt.

Overall, Dragon’s Dogma is a great game that does a good job at mixing elements from both Western and Eastern RPGs to create an epic experience for players to enjoy. The game is quite long and you’ll spend hours playing thanks to post game content, the inclusion of new game plus, and downloadable content. If you are interested in Dragon’s Dogma, you can try out the demo or rent the game before you buy it. You may end up pleasently surprised just as I was.