Total Reviews: 6
Average Overall Score Given: 7.23333 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 2437

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06

EA came out of the gate swinging for the Xbox360 with a few launch titles. Here we take a look into the latest installment of their golf franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ?06. Back for 2006 is ?create a player? that any Tiger Woods PGA Tour fan has come to love. I mean who doesn?t love trying to make their golfer look like themselves, someone they know, or a celebrity, it?s just plain fun. Looking further however, there is a real letdown, as many of the game modes have been stripped down. In addition to that, they?ve also reduced the number of pro golfers you can choose from and the number of courses that are available. All totaled, there are 10 licensed golfers, and 6 different courses to choose from. My question is, ?what were you thinking EA?? I mean seriously, here?s an entry into the market that has been un-contended for 2 years. EA has the golf market at their beck and call and they release, to a brand spanking new console, a scaled down version of a game it has been recycling for like 5 years.

The game-play is really focused on the career mode and brings back the same challenges that we?ve all played before in order to build up your character and unlock content. The controls are familiar, except for the addition of the shoulder buttons on the Xbox360 controller, which now makes it very difficult to add boost to your swing. There is still that ?Arcady? feel to the game, which I don?t think they?ll ever shake, but I suppose it serves the title well as it gives it universal appeal. Play as Tiger, and you can pretty much do anything on the golf course and score well, and well, I suppose that?s somewhat true to life.

The graphics in this game are what really surprised me, as they are extremely unimpressive. Compared with what I?ve become accustomed to from the other launch titles for the Xbox360 this seems completely flat. The trees and sky are really well done - even the ocean, but the grass doesn?t really feel like it has texture and some of the greens look like they were colored by my 6 year old; it really just doesn?t look and feel like an Xbox360 game. It?s like they ported it, tried to pretty a few things up, shrink wrapped it, threw it on the shelves and new that it would be bought because it?s a successful franchise. It?s like they rested on their laurels with this title.

This is a golf game, and the sound is very golfy, however, I find it interesting that the timing of a lot of the announcer?s comments is off, and often wrong. They will say the wrong things in the wrong situations. Even some of the actions are like that. Now, if this were a shooter, or some high action game, it would be called a glitchy mess, and people would be up in arms, but because it?s this laid back golf title where stuff like that doesn?t matter, they get away with it.

Overall, I think this title is a disaster. It would be one thing if this were the first of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise, but this franchise has been around for a long time, and there is no excuse to take things away from the game, throw in a few catchy animations to ?wow? people, and then wrap it up and charge more than previous installments.

Suggestions: I would suggest to EA that if they are going to develop for the Xbox360, that they seriously spend time to complete the title, and that if they want to compete in the video golf market, they only need to look back two years to a competing title that puts their current efforts to shame.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 Call of Duty 2

You know when you have really big expectations for a game? It?s all you think about and you have no reservation whatsoever about buying it and being first in line for it? Well I do, but oddly enough, it wasn?t for this game. I never played the original Call of Duty so I had no real hunger for Call of Duty 2. I picked it up mainly because a friend of mine said he heard that you could campaign co-operatively over Xbox Live with it, and because he doesn?t like to play traditional multiplayer games I thought this would be a good way to get some gaming time in together. I was really waiting for another Xbox360 launch title, and that was the game that I had the big expectations for.

I got my Xbox360 on launch day and had to work all day. When I finally got home I had to wait to set it up because I have 3 young kids that needed to get to bed and we have that ?no playing violent games in front of the children? rule in our house (pffft). Anyways, I finally got them off to bed and popped in that eagerly anticipated launch title that I had picked up in addition to Call of Duty 2. I had decided that I would play through the training missions of both games, but most likely end up playing the other title, and save Call of Duty 2 for another time. After I completed the training mission of the first game, I popped in Call of Duty 2, and was immediately taken with the opening scene before the menus (I never went back to the other title).

I started off my campaign on the normal setting, just to get a feel for it. It was great because it?s the kind of game you can just pick up and play. The controls are easy and familiar and everything just feels so natural. You start off with basic training from the General (I think the most fun I?ve had so far was going through the training and throwing potatoes at the General. If you throw it just right, you can make one stick to his shoulder and watch him walk around with a potato on his shoulder?ahhh, fun times). The battle heats up pretty quickly, as training is interrupted by an attack. It?s a fairly light attack, but it really gives you a feel for how this game is going to go, and believe me, there is no letdown in the campaign (except for the fact that I would have loved to play as the Canadians storming Juno Beach on D-Day at Normandy).

The campaign is very intense, and has you playing in many different capacities, from sniping, to anti tank opps, to explosives and so on. It also places you in many different locales from frozen Russia to sunny Egypt. The battles are very detailed as you experience wave after wave of enemy forces. After my initial training and a couple of missions, I knocked it up to the Hardened difficulty setting, and started my campaign again. The difference is subtle at first, but gets noticeable as you see your enemies get smarter and greater in numbers. The support you get from your troops is impressive, but in certain situations you really need to watch your back, as you?re expected to do a lot in addition to looking out for number one. Axis troops are smart, and they?ll get to you any way they can. They will also barrage you with verbal taunts which you most likely won?t be able to understand, but you?ll definitely catch their meaning. Listen to your troops, they will tell you a lot of things that will help you get by. Work with them as a team and you?ll increase your chances for success, stray from them, and you quickly become a sitting duck. This game gets so intense at times that you need to stop, take a breather, and unhook your hands from the controller. I?ve had trouble finding flaws in the campaign and haven?t experienced any thus far, although I?ve heard from a few people that once you get to a certain point in the campaign, the game will reset itself and none of your missions will be available to you, like you?ve never played them. I?m sure Activision will patch that quickly, as this game is destined for serious consideration for Game of the Year for the Xbox360. The game is not perfect though, and unfortunately this is where I get to the imperfections.

The lack of co-operative play is a complete and total disappointment, this game would be so much better with it as it would send the replay factor sky-high; add online co-op, and I would probably lose my job and my wife for the mere fact that I wouldn?t get off the couch. I was secretly hoping that when I finished the campaign in single player that it would miraculously unlock this feature, and although I?m not finished, I?m assured that it won?t. Multiplayer has been somewhat of a letdown thus far. The game modes are good, and fairly typical, ranging from Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, to Capture the Flag and Territories type games. The letdown comes in the servers and the lack of apparent control of game-play. It is very laggy at times. I myself have only experienced lag once, but became the innocent victim of lag in that in many a game I would end up alone because people had lost connection or had a really laggy experience and just left. That is frustrating, because it doesn?t tell you that you?re the only person left; you kind of just run around and then discover that no one else is there and you?re left with these horrible feelings of un-fulfillment and inadequacy. Playing Saturday morning I probably only finished about 2 out of 15 matches. Again, I?m hoping for a patch, either from Xbox Live or from Activision to fix this problem because the Xbox Live multiplayer component to this game is fun and intense when it works. Anyone who was big into Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six 3 back in the day will know what I?m talking about, except this is way more beautiful and the maps are unbelievable.

The gameplay for this title is great. It?s one of those games you can just pick up and go ? no fuss, no muss. The controls are well laid out, and the addition of the shoulder buttons to the Xbox 360 controller is a dream come true. This is THE BEST controller ever made, and the addition of wireless is the icing on the cake. On the hardened level, it is definitely challenging, and the A.I. is frustrating, but in a good way. They are always on the move, and when they?re not, they are fairly well hidden, which means you either have to be a pretty good shot, or have pretty big ***** to meet them face to face in close combat. The Xbox Live gameplay is well done also (when it works), and the radar is a thing of beauty. The fact that it only lights up when you shoot means that you need to be smart in your gameplay. It discourages camping and really forces you to be tactical. When you see an opposing player show up on radar, you can head for that location and perhaps find him camping because he thinks he?s found a ?sweet spot?, but if he?s smart, he?s got himself out of there, and set himself up somewhere where he has a clear shot at you coming to find him.

The graphics in Call of Duty 2 are nothing short of stunning. If you?re playing this game on a standard television, you?re probably having a lot of fun with a great game; if you?re playing this game using HDTV, then you are playing arguably the most visually stunning shooter ever made and experiencing this game to its fullest.

It might not be fair for me to judge the audio of this game because I never hooked my old Xbox up to my home theatre system, now that I have, I am completely amazed. I can hear what?s going on behind me now. I can tell when an enemy is flanking me. I know the position of my troops without having to look around. I?m a better player on Xbox Live because of it. I LOVE SURROUND SOUND!!!!!!!!!! The music is your typical WWII background music, and it?s good. The sound of the weapons is incredible, you can pretty much tell what gun someone is shooting. The best part though, is the fact that you can put your own music into the game, this totally blows my mind.

Suggestions: Overall, I have to say that I have a love/hate relationship with Call of Duty 2. I love the campaign; I love the look, the sound, the feel. The Xbox Live component is great ? again ? when it works, but I just feel like Activision could (and should) have waited another month or so to fine tune things to make them near flawless. This is the best game on the Xbox 360 right now in my humble opinion, but I fear that another game might quickly take its place that offers some of the things that this game is lacking, i.e. co-op, both online and split-screen, in addition to a more controllable Xbox Live experience through the ability to host your own games and invite only your chums. Hopefully we?ll see some patches or some added functionality through downloads, which would make this the best tactical shooter I?ve ever played. Only time will tell.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Bicycle Casino Includes: Texas Hold'em

You can practically feel the oxygen being pumped into your living room as you sit in your designated Xbox chair in a trance - eyes glazed over - staring at the screen wondering if the river card will be kind. Bicycle Casino from Activision and Leaping Lizard Production has that sort of effect on you. It?s gambling, and it?s fun.

I enjoy going to the casino every now and then and making a deposit as much as the next guy, but my wife seems to have a problem with that?go figure; well now, I can get the same thrill and excitement in my own home, and don?t have to worry about spending the grocery money. This game is fun, and it has so many games in it, that it?s hard to decide which one is my favourite; but of course, at the end of the day, I?m a Texas Hold?em guy. Yes, I?m a slave to the masses, and hop on the bandwagon of the latest fads, but its fun. The anticipation of the cards coming down is a rush, and I?m hooked. Of course there are other games included (and I?ve even played most of them), it is called Casino, and it?s got something for everybody. There are many different poker variations, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Slots, all the usual suspects, and then some. And with each game, there are different gametypes, different limits, and lots of ways to make your mark.

In single player mode, you play against the AI. Everyone has their own personality, and style to them. When creating your player, you can choose different looks and clothing for him or her. This interface is acceptable, but after being spoiled by a certain golf game, it?s hard to get excited about anything else, but they?re on the right track with this feature, to be sure. They also have animated emotions that you can use, which is very interesting, but could/should have been easier to use, and could also play a bigger role (more on that later). When playing cards, one thing I noticed was that the dealer sounds like Hank Hill (King of the Hill), I?m just waiting for him to say, ?Bets in now, oh, and by the way, at my day job, I sell propane and propane accessories? - I just thought it was funny. The play is good, and everything is laid out really well, but one thing I would like to see, is a little more creativity in the construction of the atmosphere. I think it would have been cool if crowds would gather when a table got hot, if drinks were served and wives came in to drag their husbands out, you know, all the things that make a casino so great. Hey, they could even have a guy come up to you and offer you a High Roller suite if you won over a certain amount. Well, for all I know, they do, because I suck at gambling and haven?t exactly amassed a fortune thus far (and I wonder why my wife doesn?t like me going to Casinos).

BICYCLE CASINO IS LIVE ENABLED!!!!!!!!! Did you hear that?? This is why this game is so cool. When you play the AI, it?s pretty average, because you can?t really bluff against them, but when you get a poor sucker like me at the same table on Xbox Live, that?s when it gets interesting. When you first get into a room, it?s like every game that you play amongst strangers, you know, sort of awkward, a little intimidating, and there?s always that kid, you know, that spam talker who just loves to hear his own voice. After a short while, it loosens up and it?s cool and relaxed, and such a different atmosphere than shooters or sports games, and a really different crowd too. One of the drawbacks, and this is no fault of the creators, is that you?re playing with fake money, and it?s not a real representation of gambling. People are far more frivolous with their fake money, and therefore the lack of risk translates into most people playing a hand out when they might normally fold, but I suppose that comes with any virtual casino; heck, it happens with my buddies and I when we?re playing for quarters.

This game doesn?t have to be spectacular graphically, and it isn?t. It?s smooth, there?s nothing bad about it, but there?s nothing really good about it either. I know some of these games are not looked at as big money makers, and perhaps sometimes the budgets aren?t there, but I?d just like to see a company go out on a limb with these things sometimes. Like what if, instead of having an overview of the table, you could have a player?s view of the table, and as you looked around, you could see the other players expressions and animated emotions, and you could use them yourself to play the game or just have fun. There?s really a lot that could be done with this game, and I hope that someday, someone will get around to it.

The sounds of this game are good and realistic. They?ve captured the sounds of each game very well, and the comments that other players make are quite humorous at times. I guess it would be a little difficult to put ambient sound in, but that is the one thing that is kind of missing, it just seems so quiet at times. And the Hank Hill thing still makes me laugh.

Suggestions: All in all, it?s a good game. I know it sounds like I?m cutting it up a bit, but the reason I have so many suggestions, is because I like this game and I?d like to see it improve. A few of these improvements would make it more fun to play and with a little more detail brought into it, would really enhance the atmosphere. But it is a nice entry into the market for these games, and Xbox Live enabled play is a more than welcome feature.

Good gaming, and keep your stick on the ice,


Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Rocky Legends

I remember 1979 when Rocky II came out. I was on a family vacation in Florida and I came out of the movie theatre after seeing it, full of excitement and bravado, like I could take on the world!! I climbed up onto a bellman?s luggage cart at the hotel we were staying at with my arms raised in the air and humming the theme to Rocky, the wheels shifted, and I ended up on my rear, but my spirit was not broken, just like my new hero Rocky Balboa.

But Rocky II was just a precursor to the ?Star Wars Kid? like fascination I would have with the third installation of the series (which should have been the last), aptly named Rocky III. Clubber Lang (Mr. T) was like the baddest dude I had ever seen!! I mean, who could beat this boxing machine who was more of a street fighter than a boxer? And what was Rocky doing kerfuffling around with Thunderlips: The Ultimate Male (a.k.a. Hulk Hogan) when he had the match of his life ahead of him? The angst I felt was immeasurable!!

Now, I know at this point you?re probably thinking, ?c?mon Salmy this is a game review, get to the game?, but I must tell you, I don?t feel that I could properly put this game into perspective without relaying to you my passion for the Rocky movies.

There are a few different game modes, Knockdown Tournament, Survival Mode (which is an unlockable feature), and Career Mode. I played career mode. The game starts out with a few possibilities of play, which I believe, gives this game more legs than others in its genre. You have the opportunities to play as Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago. Each choice brings its own video sequence and life story. I played as everyone, except for Ivan Drago, and the stories are ok - you know, the general background, and a bit thrown in. Each personality has their own unique climb up the ladder of contention, with a training session in between fights.

This is a part of the game that I really like. As you climb up the ranks, you have the opportunity to jump up a little faster by being able to fight a better boxer. So, if you?re ranked 22nd, you have the opportunity to fight either the 21st, 20th, or 19th ranked boxers. However, things to keep in mind are amount of time before your fight, and your current skill level. If you jump too fast, then boxers ahead of you can have significantly better skill sets than you, and the fight can be an uphill battle. Sure you might get out of the gate pretty quick, but you?ll tire soon, and the fight can change hands quickly. So, in between fights, is the game within the game. You can train to improve your skills through several different training activities, some of which, are unique to the boxer you?ve chosen. Like for Clubber Lang, you can do chin-ups, or with Apollo, you can spar, or with Rocky, you can chase a chicken. Each of these training activities increases your skills in certain areas; so if you lacked the stamina in a previous bout, train in the area that increases your stamina. Now, me being as uncoordinated as I am, I had a tough time with some of the training exercises, so for the hopelessly ungifted such as myself, there is a handy little button called ?AUTOTRAIN?, which helps you through. You won?t score bonus points with it, but often helped me score higher than I would have. I?ve often thought that game reviewers should get the ?teacher?s edition?, so that everything is unlocked, and we can see what happens in the end, but my countless letters and phone calls have fallen on deaf ears (and given me an FBI file, or as we say in Canada C.S.I.S.).

Fighting is relatively easy, the buttons are straight forward, and once you get a few bouts under your belt, you can develop your own strategy. I found it easiest to stay put for the most part with the gloves up, take a few blows while covered up, then jab, jab, jab till your opponent is back on his heels a bit, then move in for the big uppercut. Usually in sticking with that tactic, you can run up your punch count on him, and win each round by points. There are times in a fight when you get like a super punch power, but I found it unclear how to get it. In addition, every once in a while the FURY feature comes up (again, I?m not sure why), and if you press the fury button, your punches mean a whole lot more.

I?m not terribly wowed by the graphics in this game, but I?m not put off either. It?s hard to make video game people look like real people, especially when they?re as famous as the characters from Rocky but they did a pretty good job. Remember Captain Keyes from Halo? The characters are rendered pretty much like that. Where they lacked, was in the general feel of the game. It feels sort of dirty, you know? There?s nothing at all crisp about it. Movement is good, and they really seemed to mimic the styles of each boxer well. Clubber Lang has that ferocious roundhouse flurry, Rocky Balboa has that distinct body twinge as he gets hit in the kidney, and every now and then there is blood splattered on the camera for an extra gruesome effect.

An aspect of this game that really could have used some improvement is the sound. It seems almost as though it was an afterthought. The worst part is the ring announcer, old kung-fu movies were dubbed better than this. In addition the cut scenes are poorly dubbed. The voices of the character aren?t a great match either, Rocky is pretty good, but then again, a 3 year old with a cold can do Rocky, but the rest are just off, they don?t capture the feel from the movies?especially Clubber Lang. I pity da po foo who did da voice of Mista T!!! The music isn?t there either, I guess Survivor was charging too much on the royalties for Eye of the Tiger (with Rocky III being my favourite, I was looking forward to rocking out to it). The normal boxing sounds are there, and the crowd and so on, but it just wasn?t put together well, and an increased effort needs to be there, should they decide to make this a video game trilogy (by the way, that was not a suggestion).

Suggestions: Over all this is a good play. I had a lot of fun with it, especially because I?m such a huge Rocky fan. Had this game been a little crisper visually and lit a little differently, and some serious time been spent on sound, it would have fetched a far better rating from me. The problem is there are just too many loose ends with this title, and with it not being the biggest selling genre, it?s hard to blame them for not going that extra mile. However, with that being said, if you like boxing games, and especially if you like Rocky, give this a look, it?s a lot of fun, there?s a little strategy involved, and with the different character stories to follow, and a few unlockable features, it has more life than other games in it?s genre. This is definitely one of the better boxing games I?ve played.

Good gaming, and keep your sticks on the ice,


Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Shark Tale

There has to be something about making a movie into a video game that just throws developers for a loop. I mean it?s hard to blame them if it turns out to be a dog (or, as in this case, a fish), because you can never really tell how much creative control they have, and in this case it looks like very little. How can I tell you ask? Well, with this game, it starts in the very beginning, with the DreamWorks ?splash?, and never really stops the whole way through. DreamWorks is plastered all the way throughout this game. The game starts off with a great shot of the DreamWorks kid fishing from the moon with the splash in the water like we?ve seen so many times before; it then follows the line underwater down to the depths of the ocean where we meet our cast of characters. The chapters are cleverly broken up by newspaper articles, which personally, I found to be a nice touch (if you don?t get this little ?morsel? of subliminal humor, just stop by your local fish and chips shop), but this game quickly lost its charm after that.

It starts out strong with an exciting first level. A shark chases you through obstacles, as you dodge his ferocious attacks. It?s quite suspenseful at times, and I really enjoyed it. You get extra points if you finish the journey unscathed, which is difficult to do the first go round. I found myself thinking, ?heck, this might be a good little game?, but then I got to the next level, and the level after that and that annoying little crab guy and?well, the game took a turn for the worse. One thing that I can?t stand about this game is that it can?t decide if it wants to be a movie, or a game. The other thing is that it?s just the same thing over and over, only with more stuff in your way, and it?s not really clear what to do next, or what your actual objective is on some of the levels.

So, at this point I?m a little frustrated, and don?t really get the game, so I decided to bring in the experts. I mean, maybe I?m just not looking at this like a kid, maybe my grown-up goggles are clouding my vision. So in come my 5 year old, and my 3 year old to save the day. These are 2 kids who can play some Xbox?well, the 5 year old can anyways. So she sits down with controller in hand. The beginning bit comes on with the shark chase and she?s pretty excited, and a little bit scared as the shark comes nipping at her fins, and she says:

?Wait, Dad, can we stop this for a sec??
(Dad pauses game),
?what happens if he eats me, will the game be over? Can I come back? I will be sad if he eats the fish.?
(Awwwwww, isn?t that sweet?), ?no sweetie, it?s just like he bonks you in the head, and you get a little dizzy, and have to start all over?.
?Ok, then I?ll keep going?
(Dad unpauses game)
She gets ?bonked in the head? a few times, but eventually finishes the level. She seemed to really like it, as did I, so we went on to the next level.

So, off to the next level we go, which is slightly more confusing, but still, not very difficult. I guess the story goes that this fish get evicted from his apartment, and his land lady tosses his stuff out the window. You have to save the stuff before it falls to the ground and breaks by circling around the object (circling around things seems to be the premise of this game). This isn?t terribly difficult, but the controls are awkward, and so is the play. At this point my daughter is getting a little frustrated, and starting to lose interest, so I finished the level for her and off we went to level three, which, is where the breakdown really happened.

My daughter has a pretty good attention span, she can play a game for a pretty long time, and even figure out some stuff on her own without having to call me to get her out of a pickle, but this 3rd level really perplexed both of us. I?m not going to go into details, because frankly, I?m still trying to sort them out for myself, but apparently, they just wanted to throw in the worst level in gaming history (with more circling tasks) out there because, well, let?s face it, this isn?t a video game, it?s movie merchandise.

Now there are some cool aspects to the game, and the one I like most, is the play on those dancing games you see in the arcade these days (forgive me for being ever so un-hip and not knowing the name), which, by the way, you wouldn?t catch this crotchety old man on in a million years. Cheesy music from the 80?s comes on and you have to press the buttons in sequence, which is a little frustrating, but laugh out loud funny sometimes, especially when you?re as uncoordinated as I.

They did a pretty good job at the graphics and the movie and game play blend very nicely. I like the fact that you can skip past the movie parts whenever you want, in case it?s the 3rd or 4th time you?re playing the level. Everything seems very crisp and clear, and there is not much to complain about, especially compared to some of the other movie turned video game attempts out there where you just wonder why there?s any move clip in it to begin with, as it only serves to make the graphics department look bad. Sound? Well, I didn?t really notice game sound so much. There are some hit songs scattered throughout, and of course, the movie dialog bits, but actual game sounds I found more irritating than anything.

Suggestions: Now, for the record, I just don?t like this game, and this had been a tough experience for me to write this review. I don?t like to blatantly slag anything, especially when I can?t give entirely valid reasons for doing it. I tried to like it, I tried to get my kids to like it (and believe me, it?s sad when you kids ask you if they can stop playing video games and go do something else), but it?s just so hard for me to warm up to this game for some reason. Maybe it?s the sloppy game play, lack of understandable plot, unlikable characters, or probably a combination of those things and more. I also haven?t seen the movie, so it?s very possible that I?m missing a lot here. But with all that said, I?m sure that there are people out there that will really get a kick out of this, and if you think you?re one of them, then ignore everything I?ve just said.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 Star Wars: Battlefront

Ok, so I was asked to do this review (well, actually, I begged, because I?ve been looking forward to this game for quite some time), and to tell you the truth, I felt a little pressure as the date approached. What if my expectations of this game are set too high? What if I?m completely biased towards this game? What if this is just another mediocre attempt to capitalize on the Star Wars franchise that hasn?t been able to find a balance between pleasing Star Wars fans, and serious gamers? I mean that?s the key, isn?t it? In order to further this franchise, it needs a game that can be played and enjoyed by everyone, and not just Star Wars fans.

As I began to delve into this game, it became clear what LucasArts had done here, and to tell you the truth, it ain?t a bad strategy. Realizing, that there are indeed two audiences to please (i.e. one group who are Star Wars heads, and will accept anything, as long as it is true to the story, and the other, the ?gamer?, who just wants a great gaming experience), LucasArts has blended their target audience for Star Wars: Battlefront with amazing grace. On one hand, you have this intense, action-packed, (albeit somewhat repetitive) Star Wars, battle through the ages, where you can put yourself in the throws of the historic Star Wars battles in two different single-player game modes, which, I think will keep any hardcore Star Wars fan entertained for hours (especially the Galactic conquest mode); and on the other hand, you have this MASSIVE online multiplayer mode, that will overwhelm even the most seasoned XBL junkie. So it?s the best of both worlds right?

Well, if not, it?s pretty close. Game-play for Star Wars: Battlefront, although not quite as polished as I?d like to see it, is a gaming experience that is rivaled by few in its genre, especially when it comes to Xbox Live. There is just so much to do in this game, it?s hard to know where to start. I?ll begin by revealing a few of its weaknesses as I see them, but it?s a short list. Weapons are the weakest link in this game. Weapons fire is odd, and not an exact science; there are times when your shots look like they?re being ?lobbed? at your target and fall a little short, even though your sites are clearly on the intended victim, however, your site turns a different colour when you get a lock on your victim, so that is easily compensated for. Flying?well, that?s a whole other story, some of the boards are just a little too small to fly in, it?s like having a dog fight in a puppy mill, there just ain?t enough room! It does take a little getting used to but with a little practice, some of these maneuverable aircraft will decide the outcome of battles for sure. I found it difficult to switch from player view (where up, is up, and down, is down) to pilot view (which, is reversed), but that?s easily changed in the options menu, and I?m a little slow to begin with.

In keeping with the theme of vehicles, I have to say, there are some pretty kick butt modes of transport in this game. Any vehicle you see, you can drive or fly, with the exception of a few limitations based on which faction you?re playing for. Different vehicles have different attributes, but ALL are useful. Whether it?s for transportation, massive destruction, or just for the fun of running people over, this game has some of the coolest vehicles I?ve seen. But be forewarned, if you hop in an AT AT, make sure it?s pointing in the direction you want to go, because the game will most likely be over before you get that bad boy turned around. It?s like trying to do a u-turn in your grandfathers Lincoln Towncar.

There are two single player modes in Star Wars: Battlefront; Galactic Conquest, and Historical Campaigns, both of which will provide a player with a limited amount of entertainment. Now, I say limited, because there?s no real storyline to follow here. It?s called Battlefront, and it?s named that for a reason. This game is all about the epic battles, and the strategies you apply to win them. Sure, as you progress in game modes you collect things on the way, bonus material, and a little help from some familiar faces, but that?s about the extent of the plot. Now, I like it. I think this is just great, because really, we?ve all seen the movies, we all know how they end, just put me in the action, and let me rock and roll. It does get a little repetitive. It does get a little repetitive (having some déjà vu, are we?) after a while, but the strategies that you need to execute to complete a level, vary enough due to different enemies, vehicles, environments, and so on, that every planet and battle has its own challenges.

Now, the biggest issue in this game is with Xbox Live, and the ?LAG? problem. This has been brought up in numerous reviews, and even with people I?ve talked to on Xbox Live. Now, this is my ?official statement? (ahem) ?lag is not an issue with this game, unless the host makes it one?. That?s right folks. I?ve hosted numerous games, and the feedback I?ve got from the clients on my server, is that they were LAG FREE. The secret to this game, is being a smart host, and knowing your limitations. If you try and host a 24 player game with 16 bots, you?re gonna run into some lag. But be careful, because even a game that has a reasonable amount of players in it, and full bots turned on, can experience problems. You?ll just have to experiment with your connection, and see what numbers are best suited to yours. Here is a little guideline for you to follow to get you started (courtesy of my good friend XRayLexx, over at PXL):

Minimum Upstream - Max# you can host.

DSL/Cable (default) - 4
In order to host more players than the default, you need to set your upload speed in the menu, but it?s like Santa, it knows if you?re lying.

I also found the menus somewhat confusing, as it?s difficult to find a game that you want to play without using Optimatch. The Quickmatch feature just plops you in the middle of a game that you may not necessarily want to be in. But being as there is not a whole lot of game types to choose from (well, actually, there?s only one gametype to choose from), all you?re really optimizing is the map and the number of players and bots in the server.

Visually, this game is very appealing. The planet environments are very rich, and you need to utilize your map (which by the way, is very well done) frequently to acquire your next target. They?ve spent a lot of time fine tuning lots of little things, and there?s not much to complain about. The levels are well thought out, and very smooth. Watching your player run around, roll, jump, and even die is a pleasure to watch (even the dying part). One thing I found, and this may have more to do with AI (but was visually hilarious, and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion), is when you have a bot lined up in your scope as a sniper, and you see him move around, it?s very entertaining, if not a little frustrating, because he skips around like he?s doing a hyper-speed moonwalk in a bad puppet show. You just have to lead him, and take your chances on getting lucky, or just give up, ?cause there?s no rhyme or reason to what he?s doing.

Where this game surpasses all expectations, is in its audio. This is just like being in the movie theatre. All the sounds from Star Wars are here, and are as real as ever. From the blast of a pistol, to the guns on an X-wing to the eerily familiar whine of a Tie-Fighter, this game will immerse you in the Star Wars world. I would have liked a little more music, but I wouldn?t want to sacrifice the sounds of the battle for it, although you can, of course fiddle with the audio options to suit your tastes.

Suggestions: The more I play this game, the more I like it. This is a strategically oriented game, and those who work together, and work together well, will win. A few changes I?d like to see in this game are some lag issues resolved, because it?s not easy to host this, unless you have a connection like ?The Godfather?. A better Lobby environment, or rather a Lobby environment, because as it stands now, there?s not one. It?s nice to chill in the lobby of a game with friends, and shoot the breeze for a little bit before the game starts. It?s also nice to see who you?re playing against. I?d also like to see a few more gametypes. The current gametype is good, but variety is the spice of life, and I need my spice!!!

To sum up, this is a great game, and anyone who is in a clan, or likes to play as a team, needs to check this out. There are a lot of people playing this, so if you?re thinking about getting this, don?t wait too long, because I?m honing my skills, and, to paraphrase from an old friend??while you be razin? you guns, I be blazin? your buns?.

Overall Score: 9.4 / 10

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