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Castlevania: Harmony of Despair [Review] [Summer of Arcade]

Overall Feeling: 

It feels like a Gameboy Advance title that got lost somewhere in Konami's vault and then was thrown on Xbox Live Arcade without anyone bothering to check if it worked, or was worth paying money for.

The Pros: 

6-person multiplayer, that's rare for any title. The core gameplay works alright. Collecting gear for your character could definitely be addictive with the right group of people.

The Cons: 

Terrible graphics. Eye-hurting menu systems. Ridiculous decisions for playing from a map-view, which when zoomed in upon feels like you just blew up a thumbnail (and distorted the image). Single-player experience feels almost broken. Loading pages are annoying.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
4

The third entry in Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade series has now come and gone, and honestly this one has been the hardest for me to try and formulate an opinion on. You see the problem is that I’m a pretty big fan of the Castlevania series, and the road to the title had me all kinds of hyped for the game… unfortunately it turned out to be… well not so great. Castlevania Harmony of Despair feels like a cheeky little ploy to throw “HD” in the title, and in the menus on the Xbox they actually do abbreviate it down to just “Castlevania HD” which in the end becomes ironic.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane [Review] [Summer of Arcade]

Overall Feeling: 

A slick upgrade on the classic arcade franchise, Hurricane offers the return of everything that drew people into the original along with some sexy graphical updates and plenty of new gameplay.

The Pros: 

Classic arcade racing action, modernized. Split-screen multiplayer, that can go online! Sleek new models for the classic boats. Tons of new play types. Original arcade/fun feel to everything.

The Cons: 

Not the original voice over for announcer. Unable to smash boats into the air with boost. Control of some boats changed to much for them to be used in the same fashion as the previous title.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

One of my favourite things about the Xbox Live Arcade platform is the ability to resurrect old arcade/console classics and bring in modern graphics and features (especially online play). This week’s Summer of Arcade release returns one of my all-time favourite arcade classics, and allows me the opportunity to jump online and really test my skills behind the wheel… of a power boat.

Limbo XBLA [Summer of Arcade]

Overall Feeling: 

Dark, creepy, atmospheric puzzle/platformer that hits all the right notes and creates a truly unique experience, but the price may be a little too much for what's provided.

The Pros: 

Dark, simple, attractive art-style. Creative puzzles that will give you a head-scratch. Fun, simplistic gaming and controls.

The Cons: 

Very short. No additional play modes. $15 price tag, with little to no replay value.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

Finally summer has arrived; beaches, warm weather, sun, and blockbuster films… But for a gamer there’s really one event that trumps them all: Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade. Each year we receive a collection of new arcade titles featured on the Xbox Live Marketplace that offer a variety of gaming experiences; a sort of video-game-buffet for those of us who are easily offended by the sun. This year’s first entry into the Summer-time fun is Limbo.

Crackdown 2 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Crackdown 2 is pure and un-adulterated fun. From start to finish the game is all about creating your own experience. Whether you want to spend hours roaming rooftops for agility orbs, or pound the pavement to clean up the streets with up to three friends, there's a little something for everyone that makes this a must-have for any Xbox owner.

The Pros: 

Plenty of fun to be had. Multiple options of gameplay/style. One of the best multiplayer experiences to date. A focus on gameplay rather then trying to make an amazing story, or re-inviting competitive multiplayer.

The Cons: 

Cars no longer transform when you level up. The graphics don't seem to have improved all that much. The campaign is rather short, especially if you have help.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

The original Crackdown is a game that not a lot of people got to appreciate, until the end of the Halo 3 beta. While the title received plenty of attention, and garnered plenty of purchases, the main draw originally was to Halo fans looking to obtain copies of the Beta key for early entry into the world of Halo 3 multiplayer. To people that actually played the game; this was a bit of a disappointment, considering that Crackdown turned out to be a whole lot of fun.

Alpha Protocol [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

A great story, cast, and choice system that highlights an amazingly well put together RPG. The replay value in the title is through the roof, but there are some technical and gameplay draw-backs that people should be aware of before they buy.

The Pros: 

Solid voice acting. Compelling story. Unparalleled levels of choice, and story divergence. Massive replay value.

The Cons: 

Terrible shooting. Horrible mini-games. Game-breaking boss fights (depending on the character class you pick).

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

For some time now I’ve been following the development of Alpha Protocol. The early stages sounded like it was going to be a return to Mass Effect’s earlier RPG elements, plus spies. I, of course, was sold as soon as I heard there were spies involved. The bigger hook for me though was bringing in active dialog trees and the RPG inspired game-play. Unfortunately the game did a good job of emulating most of Bioware’s original space-RPG, right down to a lot of the issues that people had with the first instalment in the franchise.

Alan Wake [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

A dark, unnerving setting back-lighting an intense, powerful horror survival game with a fantastic story and immersive game-play.

The Pros: 

Strong story. Interesting characters. Powerful narrative. Amazing scenery. Unique game-play. Fantastic presentation. Solid soundtrack. Subtle queues to evoke eerie atmosphere and a drive to plow straight through the campaign.

The Cons: 

Left-side-loving camera. Blatant product placement.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

For a while there I was having discussions with fellow gamers and friends about the death of single-player gaming. It seems that every title that releases these days has multiplayer associated. In most modern cases the story-mode of the game does little more than introduce you to the ideals of the multiplayer. I was afraid that the cinematic, story-driven games of my past may have gone the way of the Dodo. 

[Review] Perfect Dark XBLA

Overall Feeling: 

It's very much like putting on rose-tinted sunglasses and looking back at your childhood. The game is just as much fun as I remembered it, but with the graphics and game-play tweaks there's no real downside to going back to the days of the N64.

The Pros: 

Tons of customization options.
Plenty of maps.
Fun and interesting challenges.
Great multi-player.
Some amazing weapons.
Nostalgia overload.

The Cons: 

Outdated controls.
Outdated story.
Single player experience not what I remembered.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

Perfect Dark is a classic N64 game that a lot of people will debate was even better than retro fan-fave Golden Eye. While both played similarly and offered some highly addictive multiplayer action, a lot of people believe Perfect Dark to be the gold standard based on one key factor: variety. It’s absolutely true that Rare was light-years ahead of the rest of the developers out there when this game originally launched. There are insane amounts of customization, game modes, weapons, and challenges. But how does it stack up 10 years later?

[Review] Toy Soldiers

Overall Feeling: 

Toy Soldiers is a fun, polished, action oriented tower defence game that has interesting elements not generally seen in a tower defence. If you're into this genre, defeneitly check it out.

The Pros: 

It's not based in WWII. A good entry to the TD genre. Action is fast paced and varied and flying a bomber around the map raining scale model death is good times.

The Cons: 

The could be more variety in the amount of towers and the addition of some more advanced TD concepts like controlling enemy paths.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

Tower defence games are a pretty niche genre and Army Men... a non-existent one. Both of which I’m big fans of, though on Army Men I liked the idea better than the games. Toy Soldiers takes place on a basement Ping-Pong turned model war table. You’ll experience World War I in a way you never have before: in a game. It’s good to see another historical war used as the backdrop other than WWII.

[Review] Assassin's Creed II

Overall Feeling: 

For the most part it's a fun game jumping from rooftop to rooftop assassinating fools that could've used a lot more polish.

The Pros: 

Parkour actions are pretty solid. Duel wrist blades are rad. A lot of detail went into the look of the cities.

The Cons: 

Story which tries its best to not let you in on it. Really poor level design in some places.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

This review of AC2 was made by a multi-matter state team of various faiths, beliefs and are neither Mac¹ nor PC (..politically correct).

[Review] Dragon Age Origins

Overall Feeling: 

Despite its dull and dated visuals, Dragon Age Origins still manages to offer a terrific experience. With deep gameplay, an epic plot and host of interesting characters to meet, the world of Ferelden will suck you in and you won't want to leave.

The Pros: 

Deep gameplay forces you to think before you act. The main plot has great length, before you even consider all the little extras available to you. Multiple playthroughs are actively encouraged, extending the game's life even further.

The Cons: 

A host of visual problems, from dull and dated environments, to some clipping and frame rate issues. Lack of player voice-over is a disappointment.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

1998 saw the release of Baldur's Gate, an RPG which is still heralded by many as one of best. Several years on, a few expansions later, and BioWare have finally released what they refer to as the "spiritual successor" to Baldur's Gate; Dragon Age Origins. The game takes the traditional style of Western RPG, which is based heavily around the Dungeons and Dragons rules, and brings the whole niche to a "next-gen" level. And whilst there are a couple problems, the experience offered in Dragon Age Origins is unlike anything you'll have played this year.

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