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The SuperB Show Episode 3- Can gaming become stale?

Hey Guys! Let me start off this episode of the SuperB Show by extending my apologies to anyone who may have been looking for episode three this friday, only to realize that it wasn't posted until now. I've had a lot on my plate lately, and I completely forgot about posting this friday. However, there's no need to dwell on past mistakes, so let's just get into this week's topic of discussion: can gaming become a stale hobby, or a better question, has it become stale?

The answer, depends on personal preference, but I can say without a doubt, that, yes, gaming can, and has become a stale hobby for me as of late. While I enjoy gaming, and I enjoy writing reviews and blogs for everyone to read about games, I can't help but feel that gaming has become a chore. I guess you could say that it's not so much gaming itself, as it is the lack in variety that many games offer. Nothing really feels overly different or unique any more, and most of the games I've played for the past two years fall under two categories "Violent First/Third Person Shooter with little to no story" or "Extremely story-focused game with little focus on gameplay". Then, you can take that a step further, by saying "Open-world" or "Linear" and "Game about revenge" or "Emotional thrillride".

I've come to ask myself as of late...what's going on? I mean, there was a time when games didn't always have to be "emotional" or "unnecessarily violent", look at Super Mario Bros, a classic game, that is not emotional in any way, and it isn't "violent", unless you feel that a fat plumber stomping on poorly rendered pixels of turtles and mushrooms is violent, and yet it just was a great game. Many games as of late fall at these two points of the spectrum, where they either focus too much on a story, that the lines between interactive movie and game become blurred, or they focus on having an extremely violent experience, one that involves constant vulgarity, immaturity, and utter brutality, that is added on only to attract gamers who enjoy violence in video games, rather than just releasing worthy of a purchase.

Now, that's not to say that I haven't enjoyed any games for two years, simply because there are many games that I have enjoyed that fall under this category, such as Heavy Rain and the latest Devil May Cry fall on both sides of the spectrum. DmC, while a good game, became somewhat stale simply because of the lack of variety. It was a hack n' slash game that's been done before, and that same formula has been repeated. Look, here's Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, another great game, that's not necessarily anything that's not been done before. The games are both senslessly violent sometimes, and they just offer the same experience overall. Heavy Rain was a fantastic experience, there's no doubting that, but look at what's happened since it's been released, The Walking Dead Telltale Series, Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect, so many games have dived into the same gameplay as Heavy Rain, and it's just like, "why?" Heavy Rain was good, but I don't want feel like I'm playing the same game again and again, which is exactly how I felt when I was playing The Walking Dead. I felt like I was playing a mix between Alpha Protocol and Heavy Rain, and it's just that I don't want that. I enjoy it when games take the good and not only try to improve, but also add and innovate. That's why I appreciate games like Splinter Cell Conviction, Double Agent even, and Hitman Absolution, and I understand why they do what they do. They try to change things because they don't want their experience to become stale.

And yet, there are people who expect a sequel to be a carbon copy of the previous game, you've probably heard this used in a sentence before "Hitman Blood Money 2", a term which I hate for a few simple reasons. One, Blood Money is not the only Hitman game, so it's quite obvious that IO Interactive would try to bring some aspects of the other games to the table as well. Two, Silent Assassin, in my opinion, was much better than Blood Money. Blood Money was good, but it just didn't "wow" me like Silent Assassin did, and to be quite honest, Blood Money just didn't feel right to me when it came to a lot of key elements, it had clunky controls, horrible animations, and less stellar gameplay than the past games, even the graphics and character designs looked off to me, oh yeah, and the soundtrack too. It was too easy, you're free to do almost anything in the right disguise, and it just drives me nuts, because it's the only Hitman game that allowed that, and everyone acts like that is the norm. If you haven't played Silent Assassin, Codename 47, or Contracts, you should, because those are the reasons why I gave Absolution a 9, simply because it wasn't a cut and paste of Blood Money, thank goodness, it tried to take the good from the past games and put it into one and it still manages to innovate and change things, and it wasn't afraid to experiment and try new things.

I can't wrap my mind around it, why make a sequel if it isn't allowed to change? If everything has to stay the same, then everyone would complain that it was too similar to previous games. Look at Call of Duty, the exact same thing with a different title. Assassin's Creed, same exact thing with a different location. Splinter Cell 1-3, same exact thing, with a few minor changes here and there, although those are actually good games, unlike AC. It's stupid. Look at Halo 4, it tries way too hard to be Halo 1, 2, and 3, that it just doesn't fit in with today's games like it should. It's a good game, but it just lacks originality. Quick-time event final boss battle, this is almost expected nowadays, same goes for Tomb Raider. Come on people, no one likes that nonsense, unless the whole game is a cinematic experience, and even then no one will like it!

I appreicate games as a whole, it's mainly why I'm doing this in the first place, if I didn't feel that games should be something special and unique, and memorable, I wouldn't be here typing this right now. The day that I stop speaking up is also the day that I'll quit gaming as a hobby. It's just that seeing the same generic fps game, the same generic action game, the same generic hack n' slash, fighting, racing, and sports games, being released over and over again is starting to get on my nerves. That's why I've been trying to get back into the groove with some retro games, or some games that might have less hype than others. Last week, I beat Beyond Good and Evil HD, and while it wasn't completely unique, it managed to do things that I didn't expect. For one thing, from playing the demo, I expected this to be pretty similar to The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, think about, in LoZ, you start off at home, and then you need to go to the kingdom to start your adventure, here, you start off at home, and need to leave to start your adventure. The combat is almost copied and pasted from LoZ, but it still has a lot of unique content, including actiony segments and stealth moments, it manages to be unique, and yet it isn't always completely original. That's how games should be. They should be able to stand out in a crowd, but always offer a familiar experience.

My message to the devs: Make something new. I'm tired of playing Call of Duty rip-offs.

My message to gamers: Accept change once in a while, even when it isn't always welcome, you might end up liking a game if you open up to some change. Accept games for what they are.

So can gaming become stale? Yes it can. I sometimes feel like I'm playing the same game over and over again, and I thank the heavens whenever a game that strives to be something new is made, simply because it beats playing the same nonsense over and over again.

Next time, we'll talk about the science of reviews. Thanks for reading.

The SuperB Show Episode 2- The Trouble with Stealth Games

Two weeks have come and gone and it is now time for the brand new episode of The SuperB Show. I'm really excited for this episode, because, first, it won't be three parts long, and second, it will cover more subject matter than the first episode. Stuff that really isn't covered that much anyway. Before I start, If anyone hasn't checked out the first episode of The SuperB Show, go back a few weeks in my blog to find parts 1, 2, and 3 of SuperB Show-A Nation Divided. Also, if you haven't checked out my recent reviews, do that too. I wrote up a really nice review of Hitman Absolution last week, so if you're interested in the game or in a review to read, take a gander and enjoy! The review is also here in my blog, although it's edited down a little bit so that it would fit within the blog length requirements, so enjoy!

Now, in this episode, we'll cover the following topic...The Stealth Genre of Games...where's it going and where has it been?

Stealth Games!

Okay guys, let me talk a little bit about a genre of games that I grew up with. It's a genre of games that is considered by some to be extinct, while others believe that it is at the the apex of it's entertainment value. I'm mostly in the middle at this point, I take the good with the bad, and try to root out what this genre has really become today. However, I've discovered that you cannot know much about the direction and detail involved in stealth games until you study the history of stealth games.

Stealth games mainly came into the picture in the late 90's, I know this, because this is when I played my very first stealth game known as Metal Gear Solid 1. This time was really where stealth games started to come around more. Stealth games were pretty unpopular until this game came out. It just seemed like the perfect fit for me at the time, Metal Gear Solid appeared on Playstation in 1998, and that was really when I started gaming. However, I never had the opportunity to beat MGS1 when it came out sadly, I didn't actually own the game and I had a lot on my plate at the time, so I just didn't get to beat the game when I had the chance to. It did, however, give me my first taste of the stealth genre, which definitely built up to later years when I really started gaming more than ever before. When the original xbox was released, and I got my hands on it, I got to play Splinter Cell and Hitman, two games that relied heavily on remaining unseen and unnoticed.

When I look back, and see this time. Those were two of the games that really defined the 2000's for me, and they sorta still define my gaming career to this day. I remember playing Hitman and trying to get past the first level, Anathema, and since I was basically a newbie to stealth games, I was terrible. I didn't really know that much about them at first, and it took some time for me to adjust to stealth games. At the beginning of my days with stealth games, I would always try to silently kill everybody and hide their bodies rather than finding alternate ways of beating the level, without racking up a body count.

This was before I understood stealth games, and once I finally grasped the technology of shadows and disguises and the game mechanics in general, I really dived into the genre, and played hordes of stealth games like there wasn't a tomorrow. I've played classic stealth games from the likes of Hitman, Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, and Thief, to games that require stealth mechanics...such as Commandos Strike Force and The Great Escape.

I've really taken to playing stealth games, as they just appeal to me. The whole concept behind a stealth game, the idea of sneaking around and not killing every last soul is something that has always intrigued me. Simply because, it's different. The idea of a game not revolving around constant platforming or shooting or action-packed sequences has always made me smile, it's a welcomed branch of games that I really don't believe has always shown off it's full potential.

The concepts of stealth that have been explored within the genre are also varied and different as well. I mean, just to look at how games use stealth. Some games rely on light and shadow, others on disguises, and some more around just staying out of sight and using distractions, and some may even rely on all three of these concepts which I like to call, the three styles of stealth.

The first style of stealth is just avoiding detection. It's the most basic and generalized form of stealth out there. The interesting thing about this style of stealth gameplay is that it is also a building block of the stealth game, as all stealth games and mechanics are built around the simple idea of remaining undetected and unnoticed. Every stealth game uses this type of stealth, but the games that use this game in their most basic form, without the use of outside interference, such as disguises and shadows, would have to be the first few Metal Gear Solid games. Games like this mostly rely on attracting the attention of games to sneak past, by throwing things or knocking on a surface to attract them to your position for you to sneak around them, or the classically comical system of hiding in an old oil drum or cardboard box. I've noticed that in recent years, this style of stealth is slowly deteriorating, and I think Metal Gear Solid is one of the last remaining true stealth games that uses this style of gameplay, however, I'd even argue that Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4 were massive departures from the previous games, especially in this form of stealth, due to the inclusion of camouflage. While the basic idea of remaining undetected is still the main idea behind the stealth genre, this style is losing ground in favor of disguises and shadows. Sniper Elite V2 focuses heavily on this style of stealth. The truth is, games with this style are the rawest and most focused stealth games out there, simply because it hasn't really relied on anything else but remaining unseen and unheard.

The second style of stealth is light and shadow based stealth. This was a growing style that was gaining large popularity in the 00's, simply because of a game called Splinter Cell, although Thief can be widely credited for really giving birth to the style, Splinter Cell exceeded Thief in popularity overall, for it's focus on realism and difficulty. If you got spotted in the first Splinter Cell, you'll most likely wind up with a mission failure. Many games adopted this style of stealth during the 2000's, including Cold War and Mission Impossible: Operation Surma, but most of them never really captured the magnificent lighting of Splinter Cell, except for sequels to the original Splinter Cell as well as the Thief Franchise. The interesting aspect to Splinter Cell and Thief is that there were other elements to the game as well, even though the game demanded a strict focus on light and shadow stealth, you can notice that the generalized idea of the first style is there, giving the player the ability to throw bottles to create distractions, as well as the ability to sneak around silently so as not to draw attention to yourself through noises.

Finally, there is the disguise style of stealth gameplay, which was originally created in the Hitman Codename 47 in 2000. This style of stealth gaming has seen some growth within the past 13 years, since it's inception in Hitman in 2000, appearing in games like Commandos Strike Force, The Great Escape, and The Saboteur. However, the concept hasn't been perfected yet, although Hitman has come very close to perfecting it, and many of the games that use the disguise mechanic fail to utilize it correctly. It is usually riddled with certain AI issues and a strange detection system, which will either cause the disguise system in most games to be worthless or pointless to use. Whereas light and shadow stealth has been integrated into becoming a main component for many games, disguises have not, no games require players to disguise themselves for the entire game, just as it never should be. Instead, many games that use this style, tend to give players many options as to how they want to play the game. They are allowed to never use disguises and sneak in and out unseen, and in some, they are even allowed to take action oriented approaches to completing objectives, which can be sited as a very discouraging feature in games that are supposed to be about staying unnoticed.

There are many different ways in which disguises are used in games. In The Great Escape, disguises are way too powerful, and there isn't any actual challenge involved in wearing disguises. You just have to find one and start completing objectives. However, in Commandos Strike Force allows you disguise yourself as an assortment of Nazis, each with a different rank, a soldier, sub-officer, officer and gestapo officer. If you disguise yourself as a sub-officer, for example, you will not be detected by soldiers unless you're acting suspiciously or doing something you're not supposed to do, other sub-officers will only become suspicious of you, and if they watch you for too long, they will eventually see through the disguise, and any rank higher than a sub-officer, such as an Officer or a Gestpo Police Officer will immediately see through your disguise. It's actually put to good use, but it ultimately fails to make sense. How can't sub-officers notice me when I'm dressed as a sub-officer, but not as an officer? It's weird. The Saboteur and Hitman really depicted the true power of disguises, by relying on distance from your enemies. The closer you get, the more you'll be noticed. Also, Hitman has moved on and become more involved from it's previous stealth formula, especially in the way this mechanic is used. Sadly, not too many games tread into this form of stealth, but it is interesting to see in action, especially when it is done in a way that works properly and fairly.

Whereas yesterday, a stealth game was a stealth game, you didn't have a choice between action and stealth and you were penalized for not being silent and hidden, today you are not, in most regards. When I look at recent stealth games such as Splinter Cell, The Saboteur, Uncharted, and Dishonored, the lines between stealth and action are really blurry, and many games have started to allow differing playstyles a la Hitman. You can be silent and unnoticed if you want to be, or you can destroy everything at will. Many people believe that full-on stealth is dead for this reason. However, while I feel that the full-on stealth game is indeed extinct, or at least dormant, the stealth game is far from it. You can play through Dishonored without touching a hair on anyone's head, even your targets, and you can play through Hitman Absolution without killing anyone but your targets. The stealth game is still alive, but the full-on stealth game is probably extinct and I will be surprised if it ever resurfaces. Games like Splinter Cell have moved on from constant yet delightfully entertaining light and shadow gameplay, to a large focus on fast paced action and skillful execution, and Dishonored was not designed to always be a stealth game, it was designed to cater to everyone, which is the key to the death of full-on stealth games. If you look closely, you can even notice that some games that appear to be full-on action games are not always action packed at every second, some of those games also require stealth at some points, or even allow it to be used for portions of levels. Look at Killzone 3, which bases an entire portion of a level off of remaining hidden and in the shadows. It's not the death of stealth, but the death of full-on in favor of games that cater to every gamer. The question is, do games need variety in order to be entertaining? The answer is yes. Even full blown stealth games needed variety in order to thrive. This can be sited in Splinter Cell Double Agent, which employs an element of choice that wasn't really present in the previous games. It's needed, but another thing that needs to be speculated is how much does one need to change something in order to give a game variety? How much variety do you need to make a game appealing to play, while managing to give the game it's classic look and familiarity? It is impossible to determine, in Hitman Absolution for instance, there were a few key changes to the formula. While many say that this game is a departure from the previous games, it really isn't, and I would even go as far as to argue that it isn't enough of a departure from the past games. It's the same thing as it was in every other Hitman game, go in, kill the target, and get out. The choices that have always been present in Hitman games still remain, and yet people still openly hate the game, even when the game is probably the truest sequel to a popular stealth game that has ever been released on this generation of platforms, simply because it doesn't stray from it's roots too much at all, and yet it is still criticized for it's minor changes with the disguise system which works fine, and the checkpoint system, which I completely understand and agree with. The checkpoint system was lousy, but the stealth was there.

Looking at stealth games, then and now, I can see that one thing has changed....the difficulty of past games has sorta gone away. While some of the new stealth games here are challenging, such as Hitman Absolution and Sniper Elite V2, they just don't have the same challenge as they used to...why? The AI has been neutralized and toned down in many games to make the game more accessible to new players and a wider audience. Hitman can be sited as a game that did this. While the game is quite challenging when compared to today's ideal stealth action game, it is not as hard as past Hitman games. Sniper Elite V2, however, is almost exactly what you could expect in older games in terms of stealth. You didn't have this thing pop up on the screen to tell you that you'd been spotted or were about to be spotted, and you could be caught almost instantly in past games.

That's where the old stealth games got it right, they made you keep on your toes and pay attention. Whereas today, the vast majority of stealth games do that stuff for you. It's not a good trend, and I think in the future, there'll be much more than that, until developers finally realize what made stealth games so appealing in the first place, it wasn't the appearance of stealth that made these games great, it was the challenge that they offered and the uniqueness that these games offered, in a time where a lot of people were only focused on pure violence and brutality that games like Halo Combat Evolved offered. While I loved Halo, it just didn't have the same appeal as a good stealth game had. The games back then didn't hold your hand like they do now, and the sooner that the devs realize that hand-holding isn't a good thing for fans of classic stealth games, the better.

Anyways guys, that's it for now. I'd like to do a special on this topic, but I'll save that for a later date, so that way I can really go into detail about stealth games, I haven't really had the chance lately, but I'll probably make that special random blog eventually....hopefully sooner than later.

I beat Metal Gear Rising Revengeance the other day, I liked it a lot. It took a little while for me to learn how the game worked, but when I understand the mechanics it's very fun and good, the boss battles are challenging and well designed. I'll definitely write up a review for this game in the near future.

Okay well, that's it for this episode of The SuperB Show, the next episode will air around April 26, and I'll be talking about whether or not gaming can become a stale hobby without variety and after that blog, the next will cover the science behind video game reviews. See you then, I'll probably have up another review by then. Have an awesome weekend!

Update: My apologizes to everyone who read this blog, I have not completed Metal Gear Rising Revengeance yet. I wrote this blog assuming that I would beat the game by the time I posted this blog, and it turns out that it's harder than I expected. I'll probably work on beating the game sometime next week or the week after. Sorry for any confusion.

Hitman Absolution Reviewed

Reviewed

Hitman Absolution is a strange game. Besides the quirky and sometimes sinister characters that players will discover as they play, and the unique story, as well as the great locations that the story unfolds around, the game is strange because it can be so difficult to describe at times, especially for this review.

Hitman Absolution is like every other game that has been released in the past, it will be loved by some and absolutely hated by others, all for different reasons, at first glance to be a shameful attempt to usher in new fans by dumbing down what Hitman was and should be.

Fortunately, I'm pleased to tell you that this game has not been made into a third person shooter, void of any stealth mechanics. Absolution still offers the same amount of choice and challenge that fans of the previous games will be glad to see, while attempting to improve on a few mechanics of the game without actually dumbing the game down. Actually, there are five difficulty settings that will allow you to choose a suitable difficulty. If you're a fan of the games, Expert and Purist difficulties are perfect for you, they're challenging and punishing. Purist difficulty doesn't offer the player any assistance whatsoever. It's great.

Hitman Absolution occurs after the events of the previous Hitman game, Blood Money, in which gamers once again return to play as the mysterious Agent 47, the genetically engineered assassin, who, after many events that I won't mention here, is given an assignment that leads into a tale of deception, vengeance, and ultimately, absolution.

The game's story is a unique experience that players won't see in any other video game out there today, it's similarities to movies can be very noticeable at times, as the game definitely draws inspiration from the works of film director, Quentin Tarantino. The game gives you this very serious subject matter, such as going about killing targets, in the ultimate goal of getting away with murder, while managing to include these many gritty and humorous locations and characters into the mix. Absolution manages to capture much of the humor that was present in the previous games, but it is more pronounced, while still remaining subtle, and it succeeds. In a portion of the story, 47 is being hunted down by a group of assassins dressed as nuns, which is very outlandish and yet it is never so outlandish that it feels tacked onto the story for the sake of making players laugh. The humor here mostly seems to fit with what the game tries to accomplish, without becoming overdone, just as the previous games managed to do. It will try to make the player smile sometimes, but it never draws the player's attention away from the story at hand and it usually maintains subtlety, which only works in this game's favor. There are just those few points in which you'll sometimes see that the game tries way too hard to crack a joke, making some jokes so blatantly twisted that they lose their subtlety. Even if these few jokes do retain some humor, the novelty of the joke seems lost when the game goes a little too far to make somebody crack up. Also, in a portion of the game, you are given access to the bird costume like the one present in Blood Money, which while it is quite funny to wear, it also has no connection to the locations in which you're granted use of this disguise, unlike when the disguise was used in Blood Money, where it managed to work as a disguise in the area that it was used, simply because other people were dressed as birds in the level, and it gave players an advantage in the process of eliminating all of your targets, Absolution just has a bird disguise, for the sake of having one.

This game, just like with every other Hitman game before it, is one that is appreciated with time. The odds are very high that many won't enjoy Hitman Absolution's campaign the first time that they play through it, it becomes more enjoyable the third or fourth time they play it. The first time that one plays through the campaign, they may become confused by the plot, as it can feel severely poorly designed at first, just as the previous games did, in which it almost appears random and it doesn't appear to make any sense as to why you are in certain locations and doing certain things at certain points in the campaign.

However, I found that the story felt more fluid and better explained as I played the game a second time, in which many questions that I had from my initial play through were answered. The plot felt much more complete and satisfying when I was willing to sit through the decently sized, 15 hour campaign again. The game's story is also excellently told through delicately designed cutscenes which are just as dramatic and dark as they are beautiful and epic. The cutscenes depict a very gritty theme that remains present through out the game, and it's cutscenes never interrupt the gameplay and end up being extremely satisfying and well placed, without becoming a nuisance.

Most of the game's visuals also offer an epic and gritty outlook to the world Hitman revolves around. The world and characters in this game are extremely detailed, down to the smallest detail. The level of detail here is amazing, thanks to the new engine created specifically for this game, Glacier 2, everything from explosions to character models and clouds of smoke spewing from smokestacks all have a distinct cinematic and artistic style, and it all has a stylish and aesthetic feel to it. Each place has a meaning and pronounced style that really makes each location a joy to travel through, and the plus side is that with the game's focus on visuals and detail, the game plays very smoothly with very few hiccups at all. Although there are a few points where the frame rate noticeably drops during gameplay, but I haven't found anything that has become game breaking yet, and these visual issues have never reached the point in which I've needed to restart the game or system as I'm playing through a level.

The voice-acting here is also top-notch, this comment is especially directed towards David Bateson's work as 47, whom he has perfectly portrayed since the first game of the series which was released in 2000, and this is no different in Hitman Absolution. All of his lines are delivered with excellence and deepness, and that not only makes the campaign's story much more riveting to see unfold, but it also makes 47 a more appealing character that is worth following along in the game's story. The voice-acting for the rest of the cast is also well done, relying on a cast of notable actors such as Keith Carradine and Powers Boothe. While the acting itself is excellent from the supporting cast, the script may rely a little too strongly on profanity to make a point, and while that's not a bad thing, there are certainly many other ways that the developers could have proven to the player that there are these vcruel people that Agent 47 is up against, rather than deciding to give every bad guy an overactive potty mouth.

The soundtrack is excellent, and while it isn't as fantastic and noticeable as Jesper Kyd's work with the previous Hitman games, the soundtrack here works for what game is designed for. The game's soundtrack alters based upon the play style that one chooses. If the player decides to take the stealthy route through the game, the game's soundtrack will focus more on ambience and suspense, whereas players who choose the action-packed route will find that the soundtrack centers on loud, booming guitar riffs. The tracks as a whole are excellent and they work well with the game's distinct sense of identity. Exploring the many different play styles that the game offers seems much more valuable just for the sake of hearing the many different sounds that the game has to offer.

The gameplay itself is also excellent, it doesn't differ that much from the gameplay that the previous games offered and it stays true to what the games have always been about, but there are a couple differences here and there that can either be seen as massive improvements or major setbacks from what the previous games offered, based upon personal preference of course.

For one thing, the checkpoint system is a serious issue which feels out of place and poorly used. When you play through this game, you'll notice that the game allows you to switch your play style in between each level. For example, say I start off the level as a mass murderer, shooting everybody down with machine guns, once I've done all I've wanted to in that checkpoint, you then move onto a door that will take you to the next checkpoint. Once you enter that next checkpoint, you'll notice that no one was disturbed by the constant gunfire happening just next door, it's a small problem, but it just feels strange and it ultimately prevents you from immersing yourself in the game as much as you should have been able to.

Players are not allowed to go back to previous checkpoints either, which you are able to do in games similar to this one, such as Dishonored, which is honestly a shame, as the checkpoints in Absolution, while decently sized for their purpose, make the levels appear much smaller than they did in previous games, and if targets were able to travel freely through different checkpoints rather than remaining in one checkpoint, the game could have had much more depth in what you could do in the game. However, this does not harm the game for what it does accomplish, as there are still plenty of options to explore in most of the checkpoints of the game, but larger environments focused less on checkpoint progression definitely would have given the player much higher levels of choice and variety. The checkpoints also may detract from the initial challenge that fans remember from past games, as you aren't forced to start an entire level over from the beginning if you fail or die without saving your game, instead you start from the previous checkpoint, which can sort of ruin some of the tension that the old games relied so heavily on.

Now that the majority of the bad things about the gameplay are out of the way....

That lost tension is somewhat regained when dealing with the difficult yet realistic disguise mechanic. The mechanic here relies on a new addition to the Hitman world known as instinct. It's basically this bar that is filled as you complete certain actions, such as hiding bodies and taking out enemies silently. By filling this meter, you're able to blend in while in disguise, which will allow you to hide your face from NPCs who are about to become suspicious of your disguise. You can also hide yourself by performing other tasks, especially if you're running out of instinct. If you're disguised as a janitor for example, you are able to grab a mop and mop the floors, or if you're dressed as a guard you can pretend to observe and study control panels, so that you can observe your environment without bringing any attention to yourself.

disguises

The system works differently than it does in previous games, if you steal a guard disguise for example, you will need to avoid NPCs that are wearing the same disguise as you are, so you need to avoid guards at all costs in order to remain undetected. So rather than allowing the player to seamlessly drift through levels using one overpowered disguise like you could in Blood Money, and rather than making disguises almost impossible to use like in Silent Assassin, the game really finds the middle ground here, where it is very challenging and relies and proper planning and timing at some points, rather than randomness and simplicity. After my time with the game, I found the disguise mechanic to be much better than it was previously, simply because the game always warns you when you are about to be noticed, whereas in previous games, there was usually no warning as to when your cover would be blown whatsoever, and it just was annoying. Here, it is a very challenging system that is also reasonable and fair. It will penalize you for being careless while in disguise, but it doesn't make it impossible to wear disguises in the first place. The system retains the style of the previous games, even though it could have been balanced a little bit better for higher difficulties.


The game's combat is much more refined and fluid than it was in previous games also, thanks in part to the improved AI of the enemies, as they will try and flank you and outsmart you, whereas in previous games guards would just run at you from all directions and try to kill you, usually failing miserably. The gun combat is visceral and intense, and it still offers a very tough challenge, especially on higher difficulties The game also supports a variety of moves in hand-to-hand combat using quick time events that are actually quite fluid, fast paced, and yet fun to use and they are used very well here. The game has tons of environmental weapons that you can use to kill enemies, from fire extinguishers to baseball bats and everything is extremely violent. The combat system works fine in this game, and it definitely worth some time playing through the game without using stealth, just to see the drastic difference as compared to the previous games, however, the AI isn't perfect, and minor problems such as guards shooting at walls and charging you for no reason still occur sometimes, and you also will find yourself missing a lot of things playing through the game from an action focused perspective, the odds are high that you'll miss out on vital information and comical conversations if you start shooting at everybody at first sight, so the stealth option still seems like it's the best way to play through Hitman Absolution, but it is still really a quite enjoyable and viable play style to use regardless of these flaws.

Hitman combatThe stealth game play is also really fun to use, and the inclusion of a cover mechanic helps make the experience much better than before. The game is much more rewarding when you're unseen, and it is quite rewarding when you find out how to complete a level without being spotted.

Fans may not like about this new game's gameplay is that many of the areas that Agent 47 heads through during the campaign are focused too much on advancing to the next checkpoint rather than killing targets. There are some points in the game where you will feel as if you are playing a Splinter Cell game rather than Hitman, and these somewhat linear levels that lack targets feel like missed opportunities in the campaign where a great sandbox styled level could have been placed. That was my one main problem with the campaign overall, the lack of targets, it felt as if there weren't as many as there should have been, and the gameplay felt dull at some points of the game without a dedicated target to kill, however, the amount of choice in how to go about completing a checkpoint or level is satisfying in it's own way. The one plus of the campaign that really makes it special is it's emphasis on completing challenges, which adds to the replayability of every level in the game, and it makes the game that much more special, as you can see how many different possible ways there are to complete each level. However, I recommend that fans of the old games avoid the challenges page altogether as the challenges really prevent you from discovering inventive ways of taking out your targets all by yourself. While the levels offer a lot of variety in how to complete them, certain levels feel too straightforward and focused on moving forward, rather than studying your target's movements and striking at the perfect moment are gone from these levels during the story which is a shame, even though, if you accept this game as it is and not of think of it only as a Hitman game, these linear levels will not be as bad as you'd think, even compared to really linear stealth games like Splinter Cell, these linear portions of the game are fun and unique, and they still offer plenty of choice and variety in how you complete them.

train stationThe let downs of the campaign are really changed with the brilliant Contracts mode, which is an online mode within the game that allows you to create your own custom hits on any NPC that appears within the story mode. This mode is really addictive, and it's the biggest and best attraction for hardcore fans of the previous games, as it is the ultimate test of challenge and creativeness, as you're completing contracts created by other Hitman players and you get to create your own cool contracts. It's really fleshed out and it offers creativity and variety in levels that sort of appear extremely linear within the campaign. It's the mode that was made for the hardcore fans of the franchise and it seems like it is the better mode of the game when compared to the campaign. If there is any facet of the game that will keep you coming back for more when you get finished with the campaign, it is most likely this mode. However, it would have been nice to include an offline component for Contracts mode so that we could just challenge our own scores, but regardless, this is the most fun that I've had with any game since Blood Money, and Contracts mode is just fun.it isn't the perfect Hitman game, and it's flaws are covered up by everything that the game does right, from it's amazing visual style, interesting story and characters, smooth intelligent gameplay that stealth gamers will enjoy, the improved AI, the strong emphasis on choice, and Contracts mode, as well as it's minor improvements to how the game works, such as the tweaks made to the disguise system. There are points in which it's slight flaws with the AI, it's excessive use of profanity, shallow attempts at humor, slightly linear level design, visual and graphical flaws, and it's checkpoint system all shine through the good and simply make this game a little less than perfect. It's close to perfection, and it feels like everything done in this game was done right, it's a shame that these small issues didn't allow it to become the perfect Hitman game. However, I can say that this is an enjoyable game compared to other games currently on the market, it's stealth gameplay is rare. Hitman Absolution is one of those games that you can tell that a lot of effort was put into making, and it's one of the best games on this generation of consoles.

Pros

+Great voice acting, story, and characters

+Outstanding visuals with a focused art direction.

+Fluid, and diverse gameplay with a strong emphasis on choice.

+Vastly improved AI

+Contracts mode and a wide variety of difficulty settings.


Cons

-Small checkpoints

-Some small AI issues

- Some freezes and glitches, frame rate issues

-Somewhat linear level design for some levels

Worth playing? Absolutely.

Thief Reboot Trailer

Here's a trailer which was leaked for the upcoming entry into the Thief franchise, which apparently is a reboot.

It looks sorta Assassin's Creedish, but a lot of these trailers emphasize action over stealth just to look cool, and I won't say anything until some gameplay footage has been released.

[video=6406258]

What's yours is mine.

Stay tuned for a special blog about my thoughts concerning stealth games, and also keep an eye out for the next set of games that deserve sequels.

The SuperB Show Episode 1 - A Nation Divided

A Nation Divded

Hey all, It's been 2 weeks since my last blog, so here's the next one as promised, right on schedule. In this blog, I'll talk a little bit about some of the latest games that I've had the pleasure...and for some games, the displeasure of playing.

As you can tell, I've given a more formal name for all of my future blog updates, simply because I was running out of random names to call the blog, so I decided to start this episodic series to make things simple and easy.

From this point forward my blogs will be titled The SuperB Series, and this is episode 1, the previous blogs won't be counted because they don't have the name of the series attached to them. Anyways, let's start off by talking about some Indie Games....

Indie Games

Escape The Car

I'm going to be serious for a moment and say this right off the bat, Escape The Car seemed like it could be an interesting game to play, and you can immediately tell that I didn't think it was a good game, due to my really low rating for the game in the Recent Ratings section of my profile. When I sat down and played the demo a few months ago, it seemed like there would be a lot more content than there actually was in this 1 dollar indie game. All I have to say is....I am grateful that this game didn't cost me more than 1 dollar, even though these are 80 Microsoft points that I will never get back, which I could have spent on a much better arcade game.

To put it simply, Escape The Car is not a good game. It is downright insulting, actually. The game just has so much potential too, and instead of actually channeling that potential into something interesting, exciting, and enjoyable, every last bit of potential was strapped to a stick of dynamite and blown into microscopic pieces. Before I continue, I'd like to talk a little bit about what Escape The Car really is.

Escape The Car is just as simple as the title. You are placed inside of a car, the windows are thickly reinforced, and the car doors are locked, and for some odd reason, they can't be unlocked from inside the car. Your goal, is to escape from the car as quickly as you can. That is it, there isn't any conceivable story or plot involved in the game. There is just a locked car and a timer. That's it.

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's mainly in the way that they set the system up. The thing is, once you escape from the car once, it is a cinch to escape from it again, and massively improve on your time. My first escape attempt took me 32 minutes to complete. 32 MINUTES, and guess what?! My second try took me 2 minutes. And that's the end of the game, so you might think that there is some sort of incentive to play this game right? Wrong! There is none, unless you want to improve on your previous score, there isn't even an online leaderboard to test your time against other players. Seriously? Why would you play an Indie game to try and beat people on online leaderboards? Hmmm....maybe because it could be better than trying to best your own score. I mean, the addition of leaderboards wouldn't matter much either way, because no one would play this game constantly to make that facet even remotely close to entertaining anyways, but still, it could have been done. It's just stupid either way, considering that I can't see anyone investing hours and hours into this game, which consists of you doing the same exact thing over and over again, just to beat someone's score in a game that nobody plays anyway. It's just not a realistic idea, so the key feature of the game is basically worthless, simply because it just doesn't have enough players to focus on any sort of online compatibility, and trying to best your time, becomes dull and boring really fast. I'd rather escape from this game, than the car itself.

The other opportunities that the game had to be something special were squandered and wasted. The developers weren't interested in giving the game any sort of variety or reasonable challenge, so it seems, as this game is very easy. The puzzles are very easy to figure out and there is next to no challenge whatsoever. The answers are almost obvious for the vast majority of this ridiculously short game. And another thing, you don't even need to buy this game to beat it. You could easily play the demo and probably beat the game. It's that easy. The demo is the whole game, if you download the demo and play it a few times, you might be able to beat this game. I played the majority of the game in the demo, so when I finally got the full game, I had to do one thing that I didn't do in the demo, find a key. That's it! So I wasted 80 MS points, on a game that I hated and could have beaten for free, which would have made me appreciate the game more, if the game were actually free.

This isn't to say that the game doesn't have some good qualities, which are the reasons why this game didn't get the lowest score I could possibly give it. For one thing, the game has an interesting atmosphere. Your car is in the woods, and it is nighttime, and while there isn't any story in this game, it definitely does leave some speculation as to why you are sitting in a locked car in the woods, late at night. You can hear woodland animals in the background, crickets among them. It just seems strange, and this is why there could be tons of potential for a better game. The game makes you want to escape the car at first, just to see what happens next, but that lore is lost once you win, and you realize that this game had a huge bit of potential for an interesting story, that has been wasted.

There are also a few times in the game where you can really get caught up on the puzzles, as there are some things that are hidden in plain sight. Everything is very obvious and easy to find, but there are some things that you might miss while playing. That's why I took so long on my first try, the answer was right in front of me, and I missed it. If I had seen it though, I could have beaten the game in a very fast 5 minutes, but this key was very tricky to find at first. Sadly, all of the challenge is lost after you play the game.

As for my final thoughts on Escape The Car, I've got a few suggestions to anyone out there who is interested in making any more games like this....firsts thing first, this game needs some variety. I think that letting the players choose a vehicle to escape could work in the game's favor. If the game let you have multiple cars to escape from, each with more puzzles to solve, then maybe this game could be much better than it was. It's this lack of variety that ultimately made the game uninteresting and very, very short. I also feel that the game could benefit from some sort of story and some better more complicated puzzles, that don't necessarily rely on keen eyesight. There's always been this thing that slightly annoys me about most point and click adventures, as the majority of the tools that you can find can be found by moving your mouse around the screen, and clicking on random things, which doesn't make the game challenging at all. I feel like point and click games should not focus so much on finding tools, but the puzzles themselves. The puzzles should be challenging and finding the tools and clues should come second, as the tools and clues can help you solve puzzles, so basically the substance of the point and click genre is built upon puzzle solving, if there aren't any challenging puzzles to solve, it's lost it's appeal. Anyways, had you given the game harder puzzles with more variety and depth, Escape The Car could have been a fun game. Sadly, it's focus on beating your previous time, and it's lack of content make it a horrible game, that had a great atmospheric presence that was made shallow due to it's lack of storytelling. It's a shame too, considering many 1 indie games are great, like Try Not To Fart or Bird Assassin.

Recommendation: Don't buy the game. If you're really interested, try and beat the demo. I can guarantee gamers that they will be ripped off if they decide to purchase this game, as you can beat the game for free.

My Rating: 2/10

Arcadecraft

Now, when you hear the name Arcadecraft, you probably think that this is some sort of Minecraft ripoff game right? Well, it really isn't. I mean, in Minecraft, you can build anything you want, from a gigantic castle to a very small house, but in Arcadecraft, you specialize in building an Arcade.

Believe it or not, Arcadecraft plays a lot like Rollercoaster Tycoon, or any of the games in the Tycoon series for that matter. You start the game with a building, with the ultimate goal being that you build the greatest arcade store known to man. The game takes place in 1980, which many would call the prime time for arcades all across the country, as home consoles hadn't revolutionized the industry yet. You get to name your Arcade, and basically manage every facet of the facility. You get to purchase a large variety of arcade machines from many video game companies, which parody arcade classics such as Space Invaders. Then, you can adjust the difficulty setting of each machine, as well as the price to play games on the machines. Both of these settings will effect the machines overall popularity which will in turn, effect your arcade's overall popularity. Another cool aspect of the game's many features is that your avatar stands behind the counter of your arcade, and from time to time, you'll see your friends avatars coming in to play games on your arcade machines.

I have only played the demo so far, but I plan on playing the full game very soon to get a complete taste of all the game's features, but I'd have to say that the game is very great. It seems to have the addictive flavor of Rollercoaster Tycoon, while having a unique idea of building an arcade, which is pretty awesome.

Recommendation: I say try the game, it's fun. If you're still not sure, there's a demo that you can try. I personally recommend this game to fans of Rollercoaster Tycoon or Simcity. If money management is what you want to see in games, or if you're interested in the rich history of the gaming industry, Arcadecraft might be for you.

My Rating: Based on the demo, 8.5/10

Demos

Deadlight

This game really, really intrigued me, not only because of the game's very focused art style and dramatic narrative, or it's focus on solving puzzles and using the environment to your advantage, rather than relying on weapons like guns and baseball bats to kill zombies. No, what intrigued me about Deadlight, was it's focus on the slow and methodical. Whereas most side-scrolling adventures or platformers, such as Sonic, Super Mario Bros, Outland all focus more on speed and timing rather than planning. The thing about Deadlight is that, while the gameplay is more methodical and more oriented towards the thinker than the doer, the game still forces you to act fast at times. Once you move into a dangerous area, there might not be time to do anything else but move forward and be quick about it. In one part of the demo, you are being chased by zombies as you run through some sort of pipeline underground, almost like a sewage system, it doesn't really matter, but anyways, as the zombies are chasing you, the pipe is filling up with water, which won't rise high enough to drown you, but it will rise high enough to slow your movement considerably. I found myself begging for a quick boost of speed as the zombies came closer and closer, until they were right on top of me. Fortunately, just as they reached me, I was able to pull myself up to a high ledge and escape. It's moments like that that really stood out for me in the demo. Whereas most games focus on the simple aspect of being chased by zombies, Deadlight, attempted to make things interesting and unexpected. By adding to the frantic situation with the water, they ultimately make the situation feel much more desperate than it would have been if the zombies were chasing you.

The game also doesn't make your character out to be some macho man either, you seem like you're very vulnerable at all times. You don't have a vast amount of weapons to use, and it seems as if you wouldn't stand a chance against a large amount of zombies. Odds are almost certain that I would have died if I had tried to fight the zombies head on in the underground pipe.

The game's atmosphere is also brilliant. The game's environments are all very beautifully designed and moody. The game takes place in the fictional apocalyptic 1980's, and it's a fresh and interesting take on a concept ( the Zombie outbreak story) that has been overused as it is.

The game does have a few quirks though. For one thing, the main character's voice-acting tries to make him appear like some sort of rugged, tough guy, and while that isn't a bad thing, THAT is also way too common in games and movies. Games and Movies think that they can add in some sort of tough guy with an action hero type vibe and make a game appealing. Many games don't have that, and Deadlight is no different, the character doesn't have to be some macho man, and he really isn't, as he spent the majority of the demo running away from the zombies. The voice-acting for the main character is dull and unappealing to me, but only for the main guy, the rest of the voice-acting seemed like it was top-of-the-line. I also didn't like the cutscenes, they have that comic-book style, and I usually hate that, but that's my problem.

Recommendation: I'd try out the demo and see what you think, some people don't like the slow-methodical paced games, but many others do. I think that Deadlight is a different kind of Zombie game though, it seems like the 3D side-scroller aspect, changed the way the game is played, in a way that many people may find very surprising, it's a very unique platformer. If you like the zombie plot and side-scrolling games, this game is probably worth a test run.

Rating: Based on the demo, 8.5/10

Outland

Hmmm......how can I explain Outland. Well, it's very similar to Deadlight, but it is a lot faster and it still manages to have puzzles involved in the gameplay. It's a platformer that uses specific abilities to damage certain enemies or solve certain puzzles, which is quite similar to the gameplay that can be found in DmC, even though Outland came out first. For example, in the game, you gain certain abilities as you progress through the game, these two abilities allow your character to use either dark or light energy, some enemies and puzzles can only be beaten/solved by using either dark or light energy.

What I found most interesting about Outland is that you are able to switch between these two energies swiftly, so it doesn't really effect the overall speed of the level. The game is fast-paced, so it's interesting to see this huge amount of focus in powers while still maintaining the speed, thus not ruining the overall pacing of the game at all.

The graphics are beautiful and the demo was fun enough. What more could you ask for?

Well, that's about it. What I played of the demo was alright, all that I can truly complain about, comes down to personal preference. I don't really like the save system. The checkpoints just don't feel right to me. It's probably all in my head, but it felt weird. I also didn't really like the cutscenes in this game either, they seem like they're very comic-bookish again, so I didn't like them, just like I didn't in Deadlight, once again...personal preference.

Recommendation: Try the demo, give it a shot. I can only recommend that, because I haven't played the entire game.

Rating: Based on the demo, 8/10

Make sure to check out parts 2 and 3 of this very special premiere of the SuperB Show. To check out parts two and three, read the last two blogs that I posted just before this one. Thanks!

The SuperB Show Episode 1 Part 2

Mark of The Ninja

Alright, think of a brilliant combination between Outland's fast paced gameplay and cutscenes and Deadlight's planning and visual style, and that's Mark of The Ninja. However, Mark of The Ninja, still innovates upon that formula, unlike Deadlight and Outland, Mark of The Ninja is a stealth game, so I guess I should say that it's got some fast paced and slow paced gameplay, so it really is a blend in between Deadlight and Outland, with a more flexible AI. When I say it's a stealth game, I would say that it's not like other stealth games too, like the many stealth games that seem to migrate towards mastering both playstyles, the assault type and the unnoticed silent type, Mark of The Ninja seems like it's a lot closer to past and better stealth games, like Hitman, Splinter Cell, and even Dishonored, which I feel were two games that proved that stealth games still thrive today, the stealthy option is always rewarded far more than the assault option. The game does take a lot from these two games also, you can move and hide bodies, and it has the splinter cell shadow system that works really quite well in this game as well.

However, like I said, Mark of The Ninja is very, very similar to Deadlight and Outland, but it's still unique and stylish, and it's really fun to play. I still don't like the comic bookish cutscenes just like I didn't with Outland and Deadlight, so I'd have to say that Mark of The Ninja is still pretty great.

Recommendation: I'd like to say before I continue, that out of Deadlight, Outland, and Mark of The Ninja, I found Mark of The Ninja to be the best, with Deadlight coming in next. I say get the demo and try it if you're interested, but this game is at the top of my must play list, just because I find games that favor stealth over action to be better than others.

Rating: Based on the demo, 8.5/10

American Mensa Academy

Like I said, I'll play anything and everything to try these games out before you do. Based on the demo, all I can say is that this game isn't great, some might even argue as to whether or not this game is even a good game to play. I say that it's just too easy. The demo didn't leave any lasting impression on me, and I grew disinterested in the game quickly.

Recommendation: I personally wouldn't buy it, but you might find it to be good. Try out the demo, see what you think of it, and go from there. It's not a bad or terrible game, but I wouldn't say it's good or great either.

Rating: Based on the demo, 6.5/10

Real Steel

Think of a decent boxing game, but with robots, and you have Real Steel. The game is good, but it isn't perfect. The system that you have to use in order to stand up after being knocked down is odd, but it isn't broken. The game also suffered for it's simplicity. It's kinda easy, I think it would be a fun game to play with friends if you have some down-time though.

Recommendation: Try the demo and make sure you play against some friends. I'd say it's a good game, but it's real great qualities seem like they can shine in multiplayer, just like with any other fighting game. Mind you, I couldn't play multiplayer at the time, so this rating is based on my single-player experience.

Rating Based on the demo, 7.5/10

Hydrophobia

This game is one that I've been interested in playing for years now, but have just never had any time or need to play it asap, so I was delighted when I finally saw that a demo had been put on xbla, as there wasn't one before hand, at least, that's as far as I know.

Hydrophobia seems like it's going to be a lot like I Am Alive. It's going to be pretty short, but it's going to be pretty decent for the most part and it will deliver on most of what it preaches, don't ask why I'm thinking this way, but this game just gives me that feeling.

The game isn't at the pinnacle of gaming from a graphical prospective, and I'm not really sure as to how the gameplay will be like when I play the full game, what I did play seemed to work okay and it was pretty decent. The voice acting was probably the one thing that annoyed me the most about this game, and that's mainly what bugged me.

I like that there is deep, interesting setting with a very enriched story. There are many notes lying around that give the player insight into what exactly the world is. It gives players a more detailed look at the place where the game takes place.

Recommendation: I'd play the demo first, I'm not sure what to think about Hydrophobia, but it does seem like it is a complete product, based on the demo. Give the demo a shot and see what you think!

Rating based on the demo: 7.5/10

Okay guys that was part one, head to the last blog I uploaded for part 2.

Full Games

Well, this is where things get interesting. March has been an interesting month, that started off as, disappointing to say the least, and then I managed to finally get some good games going. First up...we've got...

The Godfather 2

Now this game isn't bad, and it's definitely not as bad as Gamespot makes this game out to be. The main problem here, in my eyes, is that The Godfather 2 is not an improvement upon the first Godfather game which was made for the previous generation of consoles, even though it also did see an Xbox 360 release, actually, it is a step back from what the first game was.

Now, I'm not saying that the Godfather 2 should have been exactly like the first game, what I'm saying is that the key to sequels is to improve and evolve. This game's problem is that it is stuck in it's old roots. It refuses to shine by itself, and it only uses the greatness of the first game to really sell itself. While it has many great qualities, such as the ever useful Don's view, it just feels like a step backwards. The game is basically the same as the first Godfather, with dated visuals, they aren't great graphics, but they aren't horrible.

The game tries to copy the success that the first game had rather than make it's own, and I see a great game in The Godfather 2, especially with the few innovations that were made, but sadly, it just doesn't have enough innovation. There's nothing ground-breaking in the game, and it's story isn't anywhere near as good as the first game's plot.

The combat is nice, and taking over businesses is fun and all, but it's all just too short and it seems like it's much easier than the first game. The AI also isn't that smart either, and it's kinda needed in a game like this. Especially one where you will have followers that you can select from your family, who will help to take over businesses for you, or defend one from a rival family.

Great ideas---just not enough to make a great game.

Recommendation: I'd rent it first, or maybe play the first game and see what you think of that, if you like the first game, you might like the 2nd. If you then decide to play the second game after beating the first, you may either find yourself disappointed in the simple fact that it isn't really as great as the first game, or you may be satisfied with game, simply because it doesn't deviate that much from the original game's formula. I thought it was a fun and enjoyable game, but it just wasn't as fantastic as it could (and should) have been.

My rating: 7/10

Stuntman Ignition

Okay, trial and error works....alright. It works in many games. It works in stealth games, like Splinter Cell and Hitman, and it works in puzzle games, like Limbo.

BUT....and I cannot stress this enough...TRIAL AND ERROR SHOULD NEVER...EVER....BE INVOLVED IN ANY DRIVING OR RACING GAME!

It's just annoying when the do things like this....Stuntman was a great game, especially for it's bombastic, explosive levels in which you really feel like you're a stuntman working on stunts for the big screen, and it's decent driving controls, and fun set pieces. I feel like this game was just entertaining and fun to play, but trial and error really just killed the game for me in more ways than one.

When you play this game, you want to do everything perfect, but the simple fact is, you're not going to do that without lots of practice. The inclusion of trial and error just feels out of place in a game that centers around speed and timing like this, and I know, it's almost unavoidable, but it just seems like trial and error work in Hitman and Limbo and Splinter Cell and Dishonored because for the most part, those games offer a slower paced experience that isn't explosive and bombastic like Stuntman does.

I feel as if the inclusion of strikes against you is too intrusive, along with the scoring system. Rather than letting you retry a section of the track as much as you need to, if you mess up 5 times, or sometimes even once, you have to restart the entire level. It's challenging, and I am happy to invite challenge into any game, but still, it's a ridiculous challenge that was added just for the sake of challenge. Rather than creating this epic game, where the driving and performing stunts should be all the matters, all the scoring system does is draw your attention to the stunt that you have the most trouble performing. It gets to the point where you're just satisfied that you beat the level, rather than how well you actually did the stunts. Also, the controls are unresponsive at times, though this didn't happen all too often as I kept playing.

It's a weird setup, and I can't say I like it that much. Stuntman Ignition is a good game, with a brilliant idea that's overshadowed by an imperfect scoring system and the unnecessary addition trial and error to complete levels, two malicious things to add to a driving game.

Recommendation: Rent this game first. No if's, and's, or but's about it. Rent it and try it. If you enjoy putting yourself through hours to finish an agonizing level that won't reward you in any way, here you go. However, I'd recommend playing Limbo or Hitman for a proper trial and error experience, the way that it should be in a game, unless you're a diehard fan of trial and error and driving games, this might be a good game for you.

My rating: 7/10

Risk: Factions

What can I say...Risk: Factions is fun to play. It's basically the same thing as the board game, and it's just as fun to play. The campaign is short and sweet and to-the-point, and while it isn't fantastically written, it can be somewhat humorous and appealing in a cartoonish kind of way.

The game has two main modes to play in, Classic mode and Factions mode, Classic is the mode that is based purely on the board game, it's the way that the game has always been played. Factions is basically the same exact thing as Classic mode, but with the inclusion of different characters as well as their armies from the story mode, and some cinematics that you won't see in Classic mode, and Factions mode is based around completing objectives, rather than capturing territories, although you can do both if you wish.

While they're very similar modes, their entertainment value is still retained, even though some variety would be nice, it still seems like a complete experience. My only quarrel with the game is that certain AI inconsistencies make the game feel weird at times, especially when you would expect the computer players to complete a certain action that would lead them closer to victory. It's hard to explain, actually, but if a computer player has 30 units situated in one territory on the map, next to a territory that I control with only 1 unit guarding it, there are times where the AI will not attack my territory, which is strange. There are also times where the AI won't place a reasonable force in a territory to protect it. For example, let's say that the AI takes over three of my territories in the same turn, all of these territories are next to one another, and I surround him with 15 units assigned to 2 territories, one below the territories he took over, and one above them, and he attacked me with 45 units, rather than placing those more units in the territories that he just invaded to protect what he took over, he will place all of the remaining units in one territory so that only one unit is protecting the other two territories he controls. This makes it way too easy for me to take back the territories that I lost, and it doesn't make sense. I also feel like the die are rigged at times, something's not right there either.

That's why, I can tell right off the bat, that the game is meant to be played with friends, just like the board game. If you want a reasonable and sensible challenge, play this game with people. I've got to try out the multiplayer though, so I can't give the game a legitimate rating just yet. Other than those few issues...I've gotta say that I love this game. It's exactly what I wished for, and I love the board game, so this game is definitely a game that I enjoy immensely.

Recommendation: Risk isn't a game for everyone sure, but I'd have to say that a demo is in order here, and I even recommend a buy for this game, especially if you like playing games with friends at home or online, if you like Real Time Strategy games or if you are a fan of the classic board game, then you'll probably like Risk Factions, but if you're not sure about the game, try the demo on the Xbox marketplace.

My rating based on what I've played so far: 8.5/10

Dirt Showdown

I've played a lot of racing and driving games over the past few years, but Dirt Showdown is just an all around great game. It's easily one of my favorite racing games. Motorstorm Apocalypse and Driver San Francisco were two great racing games that managed to keep me occupied for quite awhile, and honestly, though Forza and Need For Speed look like fantastic driving games, I sometimes think that they miss the point. The fact is, I like the mariokart 64 philosophy. You know, you sit down with some friends and just have fun, through split-screen. Forza and Need For Speed don't have that, but Dirt Showdown does, and it's a great multiplayer game, online and off.

The game really is meant to be played with other people, just like with most racing games out there, and there are lots of different and unique modes to play, mind you, I have never played the previous Dirt games, so I can't speak for them, all I know is that they focused more on the rallycar racing aspect, but what I can say is that the variety here is great, and while it isn't like previous games, it's still a fair game.

You basically have three categories of races. All out demolition derbies to races. Everything is there, and each mode seems unique and different from other racing games. The single player is also really great, it's not as fun to play as it is online, but it's still a fun mode.

I found the game to be quite enjoyable from start to finish and I'm still playing the multiplayer because it's just so great. The only thing wrong with the game is that the scoring seems delayed and inaccurate during online multiplayer, it could be me, there is definitely some lag, but these issues are rather small when in comparison of what the full package has to offer. I also don't like that your vehicle isn't reset after falling off the knock out platform, for those who don't know, knock out is the game's version of sumo wrestling but with cars, it's really cool.

Recommendation: If you like racing games, demolition derbies, a nice variety of events to choose from, and if all of your friends like that stuff. Get Dirt Showdown. It's fun and sometimes it's just insanely fun. The demo doesn't offer that much, but you may be interested after giving that a chance too. I'm not sure if fans of the old games will like this game, but I'd have to say that the demo should help you decide for yourself.

My rating: 8.5/10

Trials: Evolution

Trials Evolution is a great game, and while it can sometimes be tough, it's a welcome and reasonable kind of tough. The game never really gives you more than you can handle, but it seems like it is. All of the stages are designed around some trial and error and experimentation, however, here it actually works, it's not an easy game and it's something when you get into the user-created tracks and games, they're all something else.

The game really has a lot to offer, from the very detailed and well thought out stage creation system, to a campaign that is both funny and challenging and just plain good.

The multiplayer is the only thing that I haven't tried yet, but I'd have to say that it looks fun. I also like how there are other games to play, called skill games, rather than just racing the entire time. It's fun and creative.

Recommendation: Try out the demo and see what the game has to offer. I'm pleased with it and I personally recommend this game to anyone who likes racing bikes or making user-created content via LittleBigPlanet.

My rating based on my first impressions: 8/10

Check out Part 3 of The SuperB Show by checking out the blog I posted before this one. Thanks for reading!

The SuperB Show Episode 1 Part 3

Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2 is a great game with a great setting and interesting gameplay. The killcam is what really made this game stand out for me, simply because every shot was made exceptionally brutal through the killcam, and the graphics really show off the greatness of it.

While the AI is in possession of superhuman senses at times, the game is best played silently, rather than relying on a firefight everytime. The game is a great stealth game that offers a challenge that I have not seen in quite some time. The only actual games that compare to the stealth that this game offers can be found in old and new Hitman games, as well as, maybe, Dishonored. The stealth is ridiculously difficult at times, but the game is only better for it. This game really makes you feel like you're behind enemy lines with a bullseye on your forehead. You really do feel vulnerable out in the open, and you feel much safer once you reach a vantage point and start sniping.

I also really like the addition of certain tools that you can use to help aid you. Such as a trip mine, which you can place across hallways or doorways, so that the enemy is blown up if he sets off the trap. There's also landmines that you can use to rig dead bodies as lethal and explosive bombs that will kill off some enemies. It's all just really cool.

My only problem with the game is that it doesn't really match up to the current graphics, it's much more comparable to the older xbox 360 games like The Outfit. It looks better than that game, but it doesn't look as good as Far Cry 3 or Halo 4 or Hitman: Absolution. It's trapped in yesterday's xbox 360 graphics and today's xbox 360 graphics, but it doesn't matter much. The graphics aren't bad, they just look slightly dated, and the AI is just ridiculously stupid, and yet they also seem superhuman when being able to detect you.

The soundtrack is good and the overall gameplay is spot-on. So, for the most part, this game is very good, of course, I really wish that the AI had been a little smarter and graphics could have been improved, but it's okay for what it is. My final point is that the inclusion of a co-op mode is brilliant, and that seems like it could be lots of fun to play.

Recommendation: Try the demo, and see what you think. I recommend a buy here, though. It's definitely worth playing.

My rating based on what I've played: 8/10

Tomb Raider

I can't speak for the entire game yet, but I can definitely say that Tomb Raider is quite the experience. I'm currently playing this game, and I can say that it has a lot to offer. This is my first Tomb Raider game, I've only played the first game, and I only got to try it out for about 10 minutes. This new game is a riveting, exciting, and emotional rollercoaster ride so far. It's quite good. I'll have more on Tomb Raider very soon.

I can say that the action is good and tomb raiding can be challenging and inventive. There's also a lot of content to explore and discover in the world, so it seems like a great product. I'm not going to rate or recommend this game at all yet, because I'd rather give my all to the game first, as it did have a sorta slow start and the game needs more time for me to really get into it.

Civil War: A Nation Divided

This game is basically a huge tremendous fail with a nametag. Although the nation was divided during the Civil War, I bet the Confederates and the Union would reunite just to destroy this game which basically is a slow game that attempts to copy Call of Duty and classic Medal of Honor and fails miserably.

Where to start, for one thing, the game's setting and the game's accuracy with how the weapons worked and reloaded turn out to be the best things about this game. The game almost feels uninspired. It's so busy trying to be like Call of Duty that it misses it's mark. Rather than playing through some of the battles of the Civil War, in the way that they should have been played, in a single-lined formation as you charge into a group of enemy soldiers with your bayonets ready and your guns loaded, the game instead makes you out to be this one man army a la Medal of Honor Frontline.

The game also tries to add this emotional vibe to the game, through the death of people that were friends with the main character of each battle. For example, in the first battle as a Union soldier, a friend dies next to you and says Don't forget me. Well, the emotion that the game tries to make you feel fails anyway, simply because you didn't even know who he was to begin with, and B, the game recycles character models over and over and over again, so when you see the guy die, I almost guarantee that you will see him again later on in the campaign, thus killing any sort of emotional impact. The game's graphical power is horrible, textures don't load and when they do, they look atrociously bad. The character models are awful, even by 2006 Xbox 360 standards. The AI is even worse, I can't tell you how many times I saw enemy soldiers just stand still right in front of me and just stare at me, they didn't attack and they just let me shoot them, or the occasional guy who just runs into a wall for 30 minutes. The AI is incredibly stupid, almost beyond belief.

The game tries to have a story within each battle, that ultimately becomes shallow and boring, and the game is based too much around completing objectives rather than actually fighting the battles. The game just fails in almost every regard. However, the game still has elements that make it slightly better. The game does have some cool moments, and there are some fights that seem closer to the reality than in the huge majority of the game and I really enjoyed the History Channel's explanations of what actually happened during each battle, even though there wasn't really much said about them. The soundtrack, for what there is, is also pretty good, although there are many points where music will not be playing at all, which is just awkward. There is dead silence, and it just feels weird and out of place. Also, cover doesn't work most of the time. I was hiding behind cover and somehow I was still being shot through cover. It was weird.

Oh yeah, what else is there? The save system is ridiculous too. Manual Save Systems should only be included in games like Mass Effect and Fallout, not in First Person Shooters like this game, although I'm glad that they didn't add checkpoints, simply because the odds are high that they'd find a way to ruin them too.

Bottom line, this game sucks, and I wouldn't force anyone to play this game, not even my worst enemy. It's a disaster, from start to finish, with very few highlights in between. The sparse redeemable qualities it has, such as the way guns work, the small yet decent soundtrack, and the documentary-like explanations presented by the History Channel, are basically overshadowed by it's bad qualities, the graphics, the loading times, the save system, the recycled character models, the shallow attempts at emotional impact, the AI, the strange way that music is presented in the game, everything works against this game. The game is still playable, but it really comes down to whether or not the game is bearable, and you will be tested to your limits. I almost stopped playing this game twice, simply because it's so bad, and there isn't any huge reward you get for beating the game either, not like some cool extras or something like that, the best reward you get is that you never have to play this game ever again. Once you beat it, there's nothing else to do, which was just fine with me.

If the game tried to be less like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, it would be much better. The sad thing is that the game ultimately kills itself, muskets are not the ideal weapons for games that try to play like Medal of Honor Frontline. Imagine having to reload you gun every minute in Medal of Honor Frontline, it would be the worst game in the history of history. The game's weapons are not suitable for the game that it is apparently trying to be, and that is why they should have tried to portray the battles more than the gung ho one man army idea, it doesn't work in the game, and thus, the game is not good.

Recommendation: Never in a million years. Do not buy this game, it's terrible. It's the worst of the worst. If you're interested in the history aspect, go to Netflix and find a nice little documentary about the Civil War and watch it. The game is playable and beatable, but you'd have to be insane to play this when there are much better FPS games out there. If you're a masochist, play this game, otherwise, don't bother. Skip it.

My rating of this horrible game: 4/10

Here's a little overview of all the games:

Escape The Car...bad.

Arcadecraft...good.

Deadlight...good.

Outland...good.

Mark of The Ninja...good.

American Mensa Academy...so so.

Real Steel....good.

Hydrophobia...good.

Godfather 2...okay.

Stuntman Ignition...okay.

Risk Factions....good

Dirt Showdown....good.

Trials Evolution....good

Sniper Elite V2...good

Tomb Raider...good

Civil War: A Nation Divided....no.

Also, just a quick heads up before I finish this blog, I haven't played Metal Gear Rising Revengeance just yet, but I probably will start that immediately after I beat Tomb Raider. If I've beaten Tomb Raider, by the time that this blog is released, I'm probably playing Revengeance. I'm still working on my second playthrough of Dishonored also, and I've got to say that it's much better the second time around. You learn to appreciate what the game has once you play it again.

One last thing, I've got a nice list of possible reviews coming up for release by April 5th. Like I said, you can now expect to see at least one review a month, sometimes more than one, it really depends on me.

Anyways, here's a list of possible games for me to review, if I'm going to pick a game it will be one from this list:

Hitman Absolution

Far Cry 3

The Walking Dead

Tomb Raider

Sniper Elite V2

Civil War: A Nation Divided

Well, everyone, that's it for now. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. I'll be back with a review in a few days and a blog in 2 weeks. Peace out.

News on blog

Okay guys, I've got a firm release date in mind for my next blog....which has been in the works for 2 weeks now, It's a long one, so keep an eye out for it. I'll make sure to add a good summary of what the entire blog was about also, especially for those who don't like to read that much.

Anyways, back on topic, you can expect this really special blog, in which I talk about the games I've been playing lately, such as Tomb Raider, Sniper Elite V2, The Godfather 2, Dirt Showdown, Civil War: A Nation Divided and more, to be up late this Thursday night-Friday morning right here on my profile...

Also, you can expect to see a brand new review posted very soon, this will be my first official review since mid last year, so I'm pretty excited to really be back and writing reviews again. I'm looking through my list of games that have yet to be reviewed and it's definitely a big list, I'll have much more on this when I post the new blog on Friday. I might even complete two reviews if I'm up to it, but you can expect the review/s to be up by April 5th.

Also, the end of the month is approaching fast, so you can also expect to see which game I've chosen for my game of the month for March. It's looking like it's going to be a tough choice, but I'm definitely going to be ready with a decision by the 31st. The changes may take a few days to pop up, because Gamespot's banner image uploader is bugged, so bare with us.

Otherwise, I hope that you've enjoyed your week so far, and I have some nice footage of the game I completed yesterday...Sniper Elite V2 posted below this blog, courtesy of Gamespot.

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More Amazing Beyond: Two Souls footage

Everytime I see Quantic Dream's new projects, any of them...from Indigo Prophecy to Heavy Rain to Beyond, I am left in disbelief by the sheer detail and beauty that they pour into both gameplay, story, and graphical power. It's beautiful. Spoilers.

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