Total Reviews: 9
Average Overall Score Given: 7.66667 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 5340

Metal Arms: Glitch In The System

Robot Town is the last bastion of hope for the race of bots that inhabit it. Seems General Corrosive and his hordes of Mil bots are out to take over the world. You are Glitch, a bot that has spent an indeterminable amount of time lying about as a junkheap. However, thanks to the observant duo Screwed and Hosed, you are brought back to Robot Town and reactivated just in time to throw a wrench into the plans of the Mil army and it's terrible leader....

Wow. Talk about fun. From the getgo you will be impressed. Everything here has been done before, but never quite so smoothly and never quite so adorably, either. This game is as cute as it is sinister, as tough at is is smooth, as good as it gets in nearly all respects. Gameplay varies from the standard 3rd person blastorama to armored vehicle races, manning a cannon to fend off waves of assault vehicles, bot domination scenarios where a Mil bot is key to moving on, etc. etc. etc.
The controls are easy to use, and your inventory menus are a cinch to handle. Weapons come in all shapes and sizes, and are for the most part all upgradeable (you collect washers for use in trading at certain spots in the game). Enemies are not the brightest, but bring a lot of firepower and numbers to the table in their defense. I've read of control issues (sloppy aiming) and have yet to really notice this. The game runs at a solid 60 FPS and has some very large, very impressive levels. With 'special' chips and other items hidden on nearly each level, the replayability factor of the single player game alone is greatly enhanced. Mutliplayer is also great (even w/o system link or Live) and runs just as well as the main game. Many of the MP maps are unlockable only through the main game, so be sure to get all the chips you can find.
Metal Arms delivers on all fronts as far as gameplay. I found myself comparing it to Halo many, many a time, especially when hijacking a Loader or a RAT vehicle.

For a cross platform release, this game shines graphically. Glitch is rendered very nicely, and is animated very well. Bots will end up getting bits and pieces of them shot off as you blast away, and watching them explode into a burning patch of parts is a joy to see. The Mils will often be left as only a pair of legs, haplessly running about like a ... well, a bot w/ it's head blasted off. Levels look great, and the color palette is wide and lovely. While not necessarily pushing the X to its limits, Metal Arms does have some impressive graphics. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, from the small and frail to the big, bad and ugly. There is little if any recycling of textures, so each level looks and feels different then the last. Great, great job here by the Swingin' Ape boys.

Another fantastic job done. Weapons all sound great. Robots scream in terror or holler announcing your arrival. They taunt and tease when you die a stupid death, and they say things such as "Wish there were more like him around" when you - presumably at least - do well. I can't really remember off the top of my head how the music is, but I do know it's not so noticeable as to detract from play. Voiceovers are done very well (I love that Sergeant Alloy sounds like Rip Torn) and there is actually a surprising amount of profanity (all bleeped out, of course) for such a cutesy looking title, certain to get a giggle out of most gamers. Altogether, sound is good, although I did notice a time or two where in the heat of battle, a transmission from an ally would become muted and flat, almost cutting out. This only seemed to happen at most twice, but was still noticeable.

Suggestions: A sequel, system link (at least) and Live capability. And build it for the Xbox first, then dumb the graphics down for the competition.... Fantastic job, otherwise.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Gladius

In a time long passed, a war was waged that so traumatized the land that in the wake of the destruction, society decided that in remembrance of the slaughter and bloodshed......THEY'D HAVE GLADITORIAL GAMES!!!! And as such, you must decide: "Will I be Valens of Imperia, or Ursula the Barbarian?" Whomever you choose, an epic tale awaits you, full of strange creatures, terrible foes, and perhaps even glory....

Tantamount to a chess game, Gladius is a turn-based strategy RPG. As such, it requires much more thought than twitch, which provides for an interesting diversion from the usual controller mangling FPSes and action games in your collection. Gladius' controls are intuitive and responsive, and the menus are easy to navigate, although somewhat cumbersome. Instead of a static combat system, you get one of a variety of meters depending on the attack. The hit/critical/miss areas of the meter make for a more interactive experience, and if you simply suck w/ the meters, you can turn them off (although you will get fewer criticals).The magic system - magic being referred to as Affinity - is a little strange at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll discover it is central to developing a balanced, efficient school of gladiators. This is, of course, the mainstay of the game. Your school is built - for the most part - by you. Want to have a school of thieves and wolves? Go for it. But be warned, the various leagues and tournaments in the various lands require a well balanced school. With hundreds of weapons, armors, accessories, shields, special attacks, Gladius offers one of the more complex RPG systems on the X. You can easily get 80 hours out of this game, and if you decide to play both stories through, you're looking at an easy 150 hours. And if tournament fighting (which is just about all the combat you will be in consists of) sounds boring to you, rest assured that there is PLENTY of diversity in both rules, requirements, and enemies. Still, at times, the game does suffer from bouts of monotony, but usually by the time you start getting bored with it, you'll be whisked off to a new land and a fresh batch of obstacles and environments.

Nothing out of this world. All the character models are detailed and animated well. Colors run the gamut depending on the locale. Crowd animations are laughable, but you will hardly even notice them. Not a whole lot in the FX dept. when it comes to special attacks or magic, which is a slight let down. Also, your gladiators will not change that much as you gain better equipment. Weapons all look different, as well as shields and helmets, but your armor always, always looks the same. You can customize your school's colors, too. From individual skin color and armor/cloth colors and hair, you can create characters that look just how you want them. While graphics are not Gladius' strongpoint, they are neither a great weakness. It's really about the gameplay.

Nothing stellar here, either. Weapons sound decent, the crowd cheers and boos dependent on how you perform in the arena (might as well be canned laughter, no real emotion), characters cry out in battle, music swells and changes to fit the action...altogether adequate, really. The sound never gets on your nerves or anything, but it doesn't get you on your feet in celebration, either.

Suggestions: Give us more than three save game slots!!! I mean, really... Also, spruce up everything, gimme more options to fight and explore outside the arena, throw in sytem link and live multiplayer capabilities, and get to making a sequel. You've got the formula down, now it just needs a little tweaking and you'll have a classic on your hands.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Deus Ex: Invisible War

It's 20 years after the Collapse. Bioengineering is at the center of a dispute amongst the powers of the day. You're Alex D, a foster kid from Chicago enrolled with the Taurus program. You are a cyborg, host to the powers of nanite powered biomodifications. You're an elite weapon, and after the destruction of Chicago and your quick relocation to Seattle, there are some questions that need to be answered. Seems like you're one of the few who capable of the job. An invisible weapon in an invisible war...

The physics in this game are some of the coolest I've encountered. The ragdoll effects make for nice death animations, and tossing bodies around like they weigh nothing more than a pillow is great fun. You can spend a good deal of time just trying to get that SSC guards unconscious body to hang off that ledge just right. Shooting can be lackluster, and the auto-aim function is just clunky. I never turned it off, either, but in hindsight imagine it would have been a good idea. Sniping w/ either of the sniper weapons is great fun. Your inventory isn't huge, but that makes for some real decision making when picking up items and weapons, as you will want to compliment you biomods w/ items that decrease your handicaps. With no real system of reward and punishment for your actions, Deus Ex allows for a rather wide open experience as far as choices you make (not a lot of free roaming, but KOTOR didn't really have that, either). This is both welcome and frustrating, as certain actions seem like they should carry more consequence. The AI is also pretty stupid at the normal level, but will come for you if you start popping off caps. By far the most impressive element of the gameplay, if it can be considered a part of it, is the story. Deeply tied into the first Deus Ex, Invisible War's plot and storyline will keep you riveted. If the story alone made or broke a game, then this game is one of the best ever. I'm still a bit confused by it, and having beat it, wonder if I did the right thing. I think that says it all right there.

Not a lot of work went into making any of the spaces feel 'open'. Claustrophobic environments (which I suppose fit the general mood of the game) and some sub-par textures dull a rather nice game. Character models are nice and detailed, while the faces seem a bit off. Lighting is great, and you will find yourself using some means of light amplification to find items in some rather dark, oppressive environments. No cutscenes between major areas seems like a glaring mistake, and really do nothing more than hamper a game already needing a little CPR in the graphics dept. A lot of hit and miss here.

By far the most interesting part of the game (right alongside the story), IMHO. Every line of dialogue, even yours, is spoken. NPC's will walk about talking to themselves, greeting or even warning others, and you will come across numerous interesting conversations along the way, from guards mumbling about hating their jobs to a wannabe poet chatting up a rather disinterested woman at the bar. Music and sound effects run the gamut of decent to awesome. I still need to spend a little extra time w/ the holo-jukebox to give a good listen to the songs, a number of which are done by the appropriately named Kidney Thieves. Ambient sounds are done very well, and you can tell a lot about what's around the corner by just giving a good listen. Bots and NPCs react when you bump them, sometimes hilariously. Lots of nice touches throughout.

Suggestions: Bigger, more open spaces. More NPCs, a slightly larger inventory, more balanced biomod choices, some sort of good/evil scale or more concerned guards/citizens. Consequences for your actions would give the game more meat. Oh, and MULTIPLAYER! Something where you chose biomods at the beginning, and could go head to head or do custom co-op missions. Altogether a great ride.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes

Baldur's Gate has long been a thriving port city... Oh, wait, this isn't Baldur's Gate! Or is it? It feels like BG, it looks kinda like BG. I'm confused.

Okay, so it's essentially a clone of BG:DA - itself a fine romp if not a decent rental. The story serves it's purpose, but it's a been there, done that purpose. I'm not entirely bashing the game, it might be a clone, but it's got a facelift and some new tricks up it's sleeve. Much deeper in the RPG dept., but that's not saying a whole lot.

Single player game? Hardly. This is an action game built around co-op play, and it shows in the one-player experience. The levels seem overly large and open (not bad, mind you) but entirely vaccuous. Too much emptiness meant to be filled w/ other players. I had twice as much fun playing along w/ my roommate, but after a good 100% addict sessions over a weekend, the game is over and you're left feeling, well, like you just played BG:DA's big brother. The interfaces are all nice, and the ability to slow down time to change your spells/attacks/weapons is great. Characters seem evenly balanced, and each have a diverse set of abilities and characteristics that will make a second go at it much more likely than in BG:DA. Again, fun (but myopic and full of deja-vu for those who've played BG:DA).

As much as it looks like it's little brother, D&D Heroes ups the ante w/ a zoomable camera and wonderfully fluid animations. Effects abound, and spells and attacks look unique and are fun to pull off just for the purty colors. Enemies range in all sorts of sizes, from tiny to gigantic. Bosses are interesting, and old school paper and pen RPGers will recognize some old faves from their dusty Monster Manuals. The cut-scenes are sweet, although somewhat few and far between. Very good looking game, even though I found it funy that all the quests you take are pretty much given to you by buxom femme fatales. (I'm embarrassed to say, but the blue elf chick in the Ice level is SMOKING!)

"Bawoosh! Clink/clank/strongbad!(I swear!) Clink/clank/bawooosh!"... you get the picture. It's got just what you expect - cut-and-paste sounding mythical soundtrack, fireball and sword slashing FX, smug NPC voice-overs...the works. Nothing special, but again serves it's purpose(see above).

Suggestions: I want a real RPG, boys. I would personally like to see this weak trend of action/RPG's die a quiet death. A 'real' D&D game is what I'm left wanting after playing Heroes. Please, instead of a sequel, dig up some inspiration and get innovative. You guys are just lucky you got this title out before BG:DA II. I'll be trading this soon enough.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

It's never a good sign when you wake up, hungover, w/ a Cajun whacko holding a gun to your head, claiming you lost everything but the clothes on the floor in a card game the night before. However, when you're name is Nathan Zachary, and you're the hottest air-jockey in all of the South Pacific - if not the Western Hemisphere - you have more than the pre-requisite bravado and machismo to turn it all around. So, get off your back, excuse yourself to the lady who shared your bed, and get your plane back before it's too late. Then you can worry about trying to track down your Zeppelin, The Pandora, and liberating it from the greasy clutches of the Ragin' Cajuns. From there, the sky is the limit...

The tutorial level at the beginning makes the gameplay seem all too easy. Thrust, brake, Snap Turn, Barrel Roll, etc. No problem, right? Absolutely. However, it is mastering the various combinations of these maneuvers, while retaining a bead on the bad guy and managing your 'special fuel' reserve, that separates the barn-stormers from the Red Barons. Extremely intuitive gameplay, and while slim in the special maneuver department, combo's allow for a large number of both attack moves as well as evasive maneuvers. The black button can be used to discern whether that red dot closing on you on your radar is coming from below or screaming down on top of you. The ability to man an AA gun, whether it's a high caliber machine gun or a manually guided rocket launcher (ground based, mounted on a Zep or a boat) provides for a nice alternative to the swooping and dizzying flying portions of the game. And you can jump into an AA gun and back out w/o any loading screens or hiccups whatsoever. This fluidity in the gameplay mixed w/ a generous "you-can-ct-a-lot" physics model makes for the best dogfighting experience this gamer has had in quite some time. One player and multi-player both have a lot to offer, and w/ downloadable content and Live multi-player support, Crimson Skies will spend many hours spinning in your Xbox.

Gorgeous. Plain and simple. A great use of color palletes define the overall feeling and mood of each of the levels, from the blues and grays of Sea Haven to the earth-tones of Arixo and the dark blues and steely hues found in Chicago. Textures are fantastic, and the generous use of the special FX Xbox gamers expect make for a really pretty game. You'd be hard pressed to not want to just fly around and take in the scenery.

Okay, now I can gripe. What is with the music? I don't know how many times while I've been playing that the music has left me feeling like playing KOTOR. The soundtrack, while beautiful and original at points, will change into this almost blatant Star Wars theme rip-off. I almost expect at times for some Tie Fighters to come screaming in at me. Also, I have noticed that sometimes, however infrequently, the sound FX seem to dip and almost mute. Guns will suddenly fire super-quiet, and your engine sounds muffled. It seems to happen more in multiplayer. Either way, this is a small thing, but a disappointment nonetheless in what stacks up to be an extremely enjoyable, highly addictive dogfighter. Guns, rockets, and voice-overs are all done top-notch and play seamlessly between various transitions (ie: if Betty is chewing you a new one for shooting her up *oops hehehe* as you land to man an AA gun, her voice doesn't skip a beat).

Suggestions: The option to go First Person would be nice. I don't mind seeing my plane and all, but the option to go w/o would be a nice addition. A different approach to saving would also be nice. I've got three save-games going in the one player just because I'm anal about getting every last token, mission and plane. It's frustrating to take a mission and realize that you've just left a level that you didn't explore fully. And avoid the Star Wars sounding combat music. It's eerily similar. Other than that, just make w/ a sequel. And to whoever said 'add Zeps to multiplayer', I agree wholeheartedly. That, and bots in multiplayer so those w/o Live can get a good bit of split-screen teamplay.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Enter the Matrix

Overall: [This review is in response to the news that Atari has managed to foist over a million copies of this Max Payne rip-off on geeks wordwide, as well as the fact that there is another game (supposedly) that follows The Matrix: Revolutions.]

The movie, the game, the HYPE!

Sadly, I fell for it. And the laughter over at Shiny and Atari is still ringing in my ears.

I may be in the minority here, but the game AND the movie just left me scratching my head. I missed something, I guess, but I'm not sure what it was.

Now, instead of ranting, let me just say that Enter the Matrix is a waste of $50. If you're a die-hard matrix fan, then nothing I say is gonna matter. If you're a casual fan, and an avid gamer, then you should heed my warning.

ETM is crap!

Gameplay: Shoot, dodge, karate kick, shoot, dodge, karate kick. Focus. Focus. Focus.

And that's the good part. The driving/shooting sequences are garbage and the final level is so terrible I'm still slack-jawed in disbelief.

Sub-par gameplay, to say the least. Gets boring after about the first hour.

I mistook the hacking option for a suggestion and took a machete to my copy of the game. (Most fun I had with it, too, I have to say!)

Graphics: Gaaaawd...I don't know about you, but I'm sick of ports.

I want more Xbox Only material. The visuals are PS2 all the way. Focus/bullet-time is done better than in Max Payne, but still - been there, done that. Running looks stupid and climbing a ladder is so comical you want to cry.

The movie footage is 'eh' also.

Audio: Nothing here. The music is infrequent and weak, and the sound-fx are forgettable. Just more garbage. Crapcrapcrap.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 Blood Wake

Overall: A 3rd Person Shooter on the water. You zip around in one of a number of different boats, shooting and blasting and ....... err, fell asleep just thinking about it.

Gameplay: This game was a jaw-dropping experience from the get-go. That is, my jaw was in my lap at just how terrible the game was. Silly intro, silly concept, silly characters, just silly silly silly. The boats handle terribly, and the only real saving grace is ramping off of waves or other boats' wakes. Multiplay is alright, but why even go that route when you got Halo, Brute Force, or any other shooter sitting next to your Xbox?

Graphics: Oooh! Just what I've always wanted, PS2 graphics on my Xbox. At least I know the graphics processor isn't being overworked. Playing games like Bloodwake all the time could make your Xbox last a million years. Nothing in this game, and I mean nothing, is striking, or new, or even slightly admirable visually.

Audio: Again, nothing special. All the sounds you'd expect, and all done about as well as you could expect from this title.

Suggestions: Get jobs in the restaraunt industry, maybe a government job. Now, I know I've been nasty in this review, but I was really disappointed in this game. I didn't expect anything stellar, but I didn't expect what I got, either. $20 is a stretch. Knowing what I know now, I would've been hard pressed to trade an OXM demo disc for Bloodwake. Sorry guys, better luck next time.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Otogi: Myth of Demons

Overall: You awaken in a void, a silky angelic voice calling you forth. A man whose face meant death in life, you have seeimingly been brought back to a shade of life in order to save humanity from a demonic invasion. From the void you are transported into a bamboo thicket filled with gigantic cawing bird-beasts. The magic of the Princess flows through you as you draw your battered sword Soul Shrine. With a superhuman leap into the air, your one-warrior assault is on...

Gameplay: One word: fluid. Otogi offers up a simple, yet varied control scheme that makes use of the button setup quite well. The learning curve is rather smooth, and before you know it, you are playing more as a mid-air combatant than a running, slashing earthbound warrior. The camera is decent, however during some large battles it can be cumbersome to try and utilize attack buttons, camera (R thumbstick), and targeting/dash moves. With very little slowdown at all, the game runs extremely smooth, whether you are bashing through walls or racking up combos on multiple foes.

Graphics: Beautiful game. Otogi is Xbox Only, and it shows. There are tons of gorgeous effects and surroundings. On one of the first levels you must battle a 'flock' of flying Yasha Ravens near a large building. When bashing through the walls and staircase of the building, the dust effects, mixed with the fireballs being hurled at you, make for some really awe inspiring eye-candy. The color pallette is very next-gen. Although pinks and purples abound, there are some great golden, airy effects as well as some dark, brooding levels. Screenshots do not do Otogi much credit, as in play the game is simply amazing. While some may say Smilebit's Panzer Dragoon Orta is better graphically, I'm much more fascinated with the strange creatures and wonderful effects of Otogi.

Audio: Nothing spectacular here. The sound is slim, and very, very Japanese. Otogi does a good job of letting you know aurally that you best get to cracking demon skulls to beef up your magic when it's low. When your health drops, you are also greeted by a distinct, glass-breaking sound. Swords clang, birds squawk, and the environment moans in its surreal, string oriented undertones. As minimal as the game is on story, so it is on sound. The only reason I didn't give it a '4' can be summed up in these few words: "NO ONE SHALL PASS!" Don't worry, you'll understand.

Suggestions: Make a sequel. Add armor and more items. Beef up the RPG elements from 'lite' to 'hefty'. Provide an in-game 'unlockables' screen for levels once they have been beaten. It is infuriating not knowing what to do to unlock the special weapons and items.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Panzer Dragoon Orta

Overall: You're a pale young woman who has been locked up in a tower for your whole life.

One day, a group of Dragonmares (suped up Dragons) fly into town to blast you to pieces.

Just as you're about to eat hot, green death, a fragile-looking, bone-white dragon comes barrelling in to save you.

And off you go, into a non-stop blastorama, wherein you will discover your part in the world of Panzer Dragoon.

Gameplay: Railshooters. Once upon a time they were cool. Nowadays they are more than a bit outdated. That didn't stop Smilebit, however, from making PDO. And, I'm glad they did. While extremely confining, the gameplay is not terrible. In fact, it's very intuitive and incredibly fluid. But, it is still pretty claustrophobic. Like taking a tour where the bus driver simply refuses to stop and let you get out to really soak up the scenery.
Lotsa badguys and a handful of weapon modes, all played in a variety of environments, makes for a very solid chunk of gaming fun. And the extra modes you unlock, along with the grading of each mission, add a smattering of replay value.

Graphics: Very pretty game. The cutscenes are great. There is a lot of eyecandy in this game. I wouldn't say it as stellar as Splinter Cell or Halo, or even Brute Force for that matter, but they are super nice nonetheless. One complaint I had after playing PDO....more evil dragons!

Audio: Sound never really grabs me. I mean it does, but not usually. I like to game with the stereo blaring Sinatra, so unless I'm not jamming out to Old Blue Eyes, I don't take in a lot of the sound. Still, PDO has some good sound-fx and the music is nice. Anyone happen to know, are they speaking Japanese in the game?

Suggestions: Not really. I realize that the Panzer Dragoon series, should it live on, will retain its railshooter roots. It would be fantastic, however, to see a version of the game 'de-railed'. That is, PDO with freedom of THAT would be a kick in the pants.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10

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