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Game Reviews

Mario Tennis Open [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Mario Tennis Open is one of those things that might be a hard sell to your friends, but for those that give it the chance, it will utterly consume you. The game play is some simple and addictive that it’s easy to lose days completing the game’s tournaments and mini-game challenges under the guise of short form gaming that continually has you bargaining for ‘just one more round’.  

The Pros: 

+Simple, addictive gaming.

+The bright, colourful cast of Mario characters that we’ve all come to know and love.

+Plenty of options for modifying your character, unlockables to collect/buy and challenges to pit yourself against.

The Cons: 

-The traditional character-specific ‘super shots’ have been removed in favour of reaction-based skill-shots.

-3D really doesn’t add much, and its generally better kept to off (if you want to make a real go of things in the later levels). 

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

 

Trials Evolution [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Trials Evolution takes the simple concept of riding a motorcycle though a series of obstacles and elevates it to frustrating and satisfying new heights. There’s a great wealth of content here, from a lengthy single player career, to online multiplayer and one of the most robust track editors ever. Aside from some minor issues with gated progress and an overdramatic camera, Trials Evolution stands as one of the most addicting games available on the Xbox Live marketplace.

The Pros: 

+ Great locales and level design

+ Track editor provides infinite content

+ Simple, addictive gameplay is easy to learn, hard to master

The Cons: 

- Extremely frustrating at times

- Learning curve is solid up through Medium difficulty, but rises sharply thereafter

- Gated progress means replaying tracks for better times and fault counts 

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

According to the best times posted for Way of the Ninja, one of the Extreme difficulty tracks in RedLynx’s Trials Evolution, the ride should only take about two minutes. It’s just a trip around a short racetrack with some obstacles scattered between the goal and I. Fifteen minutes later, I’m given the warning that I can only fault 250 more times before I automatically fail. That means I’ve faulted about as many times already, and I’m still only on the second jump.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

Overall Feeling: 

CD Projekt Red brings their savage, gritty, and mature title: The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings to the 360 in their console debut.  All the amazing and intricate things that made this fantasy RPG one of the best games last year on the PC are here on the 360 in full stride.  Controls feel very fluid and combat is more fun than ever. The intriguing political story will have RPG fans new to the series invested right from the start, and will give players who are revisiting it satisfaction with the new elements that were added in the Enhanced Edition.  The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings is one of the best titles I have played so far this year.

The Pros: 

+Fantastic story with intriguing plotlines and characters

+Terrific and rewarding combat system

+The use of the 360 controller feels even smoother than when you could use it on the PC version

+New cut scenes are very cool and help guide the story

+Holds nothing back on its mature rating.

+Years into the 360’s lifespan it takes advantage of both discs and the visuals are great

The Cons: 

-Clunky menu navigation that they should have fixed when moving to a console

-Some long loading times (when installed on your hard drive it helps a lot)

-Some voice actors are not on par with other terrific ones

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

I was a big fan of CD Projekt Red and their game The Witcher back in 2007.  So when the sequel was announced a couple of years ago for PC’s I was very excited.  Then I heard about how amazing the brand new engine was they made themselves, and that it would take a powerful PC to run it.  I was less thrilled then, since at the time I had not updated my PC for a few years and knew it was not going to work by any means. 

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Porting a title is no easy task... especially if it’s coming from PC. There are certain variables that often don’t work on consoles as they do on its computer counterpart. 4J Studios, Mojang and Notch had their hands full when they positioned the idea of moving Minecraft to the Xbox 360. While a few features didn’t make the cross over, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a near flawless transition.

The Pros: 

+ The essence of Minecraft wasn't lost in transition

+ An innovative crafting experience is introduced

+ Split screen co-operative play

The Cons: 

- Movement can be a bit iffy at times

- Inventory cursor lacks the accuracy of a mouse

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

Oh Minecraft... how I resented playing you for the longest time, for fear that I would be absorbed into your blocky world. Coming into the Xbox edition I was slightly worried as to how 4J Studios and Mojang would tackle some of the challenges Minecraft brings with it. For example, gaming with a mouse and keyboard often brings its share of bonuses.  Minecraft is also very user friendly as it allows gamers to enhance their play with the addition of mods. A personalized touch can go a long way.

Fable Heroes [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Lionhead Studios put in a valiant effort towards breathing new life into their RPG series Fable. While its charm shines through in character design, it’s overshadowed by repetitive and simple minded gameplay.  This is defiantly made for the gaming impaired... namely kids. Hardcore Fable fans tread lightly.

The Pros: 

+Lionhead succefully crafted both charming characters and a vibrant world

The Cons: 

-Repetitive gameplay leaves this title dead in the water

-Difficulty progression is none existent 

-Player customization is long and exhausting

-Good and evil decision should have been left on the sidelines

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
4

 

Fable Heroes is a step back from the RPG roots it’s garnered its fame from. Now a 4-player beat ‘em up, players cross the universe of Fable hacking and slashing through familiar enemies and new ones.  You take the role of a puppet hero from a library of 12 characters. As you finish each world, you’re able to customize your stats, and character appearance. 

SSX - Mount Eddie DLC [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

As a somewhat minimal add-on to the core SSX experience the Mount Eddie DLC succeeds in giving some exciting content to gamers as well as providing a much desired return to the classic SSX formula.  Mount Eddie may not be bursting at the seams with content as it only has a couple of events, but at the end of the day it’s still an amazing addition to SSX since it captures the same fun energy that the series had back in the PS2 era.

The Pros: 

+ The price point is perfect for what’s offered.

+ Combining the tone of the new SSX with the classic era doesn’t feel too odd as both are evenly represented.

+ Mount Eddie itself has a balanced design which results in some amazing trick opportunities.

The Cons: 

- Not having a Deadly Descent does feel a bit odd and like a missed opportunity.

- Half pipes are slightly under-utilized which is a shame.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

Taking an already fun game and making it more fun is sometimes a tough thing to do, especially when it comes in the form of DLC.  We’ve seen dozens of games go the DLC route this generation with add-on content that in some cases has been terrible in what it provided to the player. There’s honestly nothing worse than paying an additional $5 or $10 for some add-on content after you spend $60 on a game only to think about how you would’ve been better off buying a sub from Subway with that money.

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

The game itself is determined to creep the player out, but falls flat due to its dependance on the included AR book. Many (myself included) would argue that survival-horror is a genre best played in the dark, but being forced to play in the daylight or under intensely bright lamps strips the atmosphere and left me playing simply to get through the storyline. The integration of the 3DS' camera is clumsy at best and it's difficult to play in 3D when you have to constantly wave your system around.

The Pros: 

+ Interesting story

+ Battling with ghosts in your living room can at times be seamless and engaging

The Cons: 

- Dependance on included AR book means if you lose sight, the game is interrupted

- Playing with the 3D enabled means you see a lot of blur when moving your system around

- Scary atmosphere is non-existant when playing in bright light 

- Very short title

- Constant static when book view is obscured is incredibly irritating and breaks the illusion

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
5

Were or are you a fan of the Fatal Frame series? I am, a huge one. The idea that you couldn't simply beat what was attacking you with a crowbar until it went away, but rather face it head-on and take a freaking picture, staring right into a ghoulish face, in order to defeat an enemy was the source of many a restless night in the dark. And as a spin-off of such a fantastic series, I wanted to love Spirit Camera so badly. I tried, really I did. But, like math homework, sometimes you miss the common denominator and the formula doesn't work out.

Fez [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Fez bends the platforming genre to its will by allowing players to rotate a 3D world and traverse across it as if it were a 2D structure. Along with some relaxing, low-stakes platforming and a focus on collection, Fez features some incredibly complex and demanding puzzles that require some serious attention to detail to solve. This is a game that rewards players according to how deep they want to go, and stands as an example of the level of quality indie games should aspire to.

The Pros: 

+ Perspective-shifting gimmick never gets old

+ Hidden puzzles are challenging and intelligently designed

+ Atmospheric, calm environments are accompanied by a wonderful 8-bit soundtrack

The Cons: 

- Platforming isn’t overly challenging

- Puzzle clues can be impossibly subtle at times

- Occasional slowdown can be a bit disruptive

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

Fez, from indie developer Polytron, isn’t an easy game to review. That’s not because it’s bad, disappointing, or polarizing. Fez is a remarkable achievement, and a new touchstone for what indie games can aspire to. It’s difficult to talk about Fez because the less said about the game and its mysteries, the better.

Skullgirls [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Skullgirls is a quirky, fun, and deep 2D fighter with a particularly distinct aesthetic style. With its roots in respected fighters, like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 and BlazBlue, Skullgirls offers a deliberately paced fighting that rewards high-level combo execution and adaptability. The content offered is a little sparse, and the game is a bit unfriendly to new players, but as far as sprite-based 2D fighters go, Skullgirls is a knockout.

The Pros: 

+ All-female cast may seem scarce, but each fighter is unique and fully realized

+ Visual style is daring and evocative

+ Combat system developed and refined by tournament player Mike Z, resulting in some great balance

The Cons: 

- Lacking in content. Most notable omission is a move list for each fighter, a genre standard

- AI is brutal, even on lower settings

- Steep learning curve for new players, even compared to other modern fighters

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

Creating a fighting game isn’t easy. All it takes is one balance issue or design flaw to turn an entire community against your best efforts. This goes double for indie fighters, which generally lack the tuning and quality control necessary to be accepted by one of the most rabid and hard-to-please fan bases in the industry.

Xenoblade Chronicles [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Xenoblade has some big shoes to fill, and it does a fair enough job keeping pace with its popular predecessors. While some elements seemed a little too one-dimensional for me, overall it has some really interesting gameplay concepts and a fairly solid battle flow. The ways in which it attempts to incorporate MMO gameplay, however, are what left me feeling a little disenchanted with the title.

The Pros: 

+ Great combat use of "Arts"

+ For Wii-level, has great visuals

+ Has a pretty great storyline 

+ MMO-style fetch quests not tedious at all

The Cons: 

- Characters are very flat and cliché

- Map is a little hard to navigate sometimes around expansive areas

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

Xenoblade , as a successor to the venerable series for the Playstation 1 and 2, is a game that does not give the impression at all of trying to live up to its predecessors. Monolith did a commendable job at building an RPG that incorporates the series' popular themes while letting it stand on its own as a new title. I will have to admit that going into writing this review took a lot of reflection and a sizeable attempt to remain objective, and in the end the conclusion was reached that this really is a pretty great game.

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