Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Assassin's Creed (360)
I remember the first time I saw video of the gameplay in Assassin's Creed, and I thought this would be a definite 2007 Game of the Year contender. Jade Raymond's presentation made it look like a perfect blend of Prince of Persia-esque platforming and incredibly cool stealth kills. Unfortunately, this demonstration didn't show off the ignorant A.I., various glitches, shoddy combat engine, or the copious amount of repetition you'll encounter in the game. Sure, it's a blast scaling the various towers of ancient cities, but it's not quite as fun to have to go through your 300th "rescue the hapless citizen" sidemission. Despite its numerous flaws, the game has the occasional inspired moment. Leaps of Faith are great, and are activated when you dive off a high building onto a safe landing space like a pile of hay. It's accompanied by a great sound and camera effect, and is always an exciting way to evade your pursuers. There are some great animations, and many of the environments are very realistic. However, the clunky gameplay and entirely unnecessary "twist" to the story are disappointments in what could have been a AAA title.
Cooking Mama (Wii) and Cooking Mama 2 (DS)
Both of these titles are incredibly similar, even with the fact that they're on completely different platforms. The original and it's sequel ("Cooking With Friends") utilize their respective system's unique control methods to simulate the preparation of a variety of meals. On the Wii, you'll peel potatoes with the remote, chop onions and vegetables, stir your concoction together, as well as many other motion controls. The DS has you assembling pizza toppings with the stylus, pouring the right amount of ingredients into bowls, and of course, stirring. It's a novel idea, but neither title really feels like a complete gaming experience. The super-casual Wii crowd might have some fun with it, however.
Atari Classics Evolved (PSP)
I'm kind of a sucker for compilations of classic games. I still love playing quarter-munchers from the 80s, and making them available on modern systems is generally a good idea. These usually come at a low price and introduce some gaming history to a new generation of kids. Unfortunately, Atari Classics Evolved is a good example of what not to do with a classic compilation. The box boasts that dozens of Atari 2600 classics are included on the disc, but it fails to mention that they must be unlocked by earning awards on the much-inferior "evolved" versions of the games. Every once in a while, updating a classic with new graphics is an alright idea (Prince of Persia on Xbox Live Arcade, for example). Most of the time, however, it's not. Many of the Evolved versions on this disc are just muddied up versions of the original with flashy (read: distracting and annoying) new effects. Not to mention, the PSP analog stick isn't nearly as responsive as it needs to be for the more action-packed games. Would be worth picking up if all the original games were immediately accessible, but unfortunately you'll have to suffer through their uglier cousins to get to them.
My Horse & Me (Wii)
It's games like these that make my job hilarious sometimes. I'm a 23 year old male college graduate, and where do I find myself after this year's Super Bowl party? Eight cans into a Milwaukee's Best 12-pack and mock-brushing a virtual horse with my Wii remote. It's safe to say that I'm not the target demographic for this game, but there's enough flaw within it to disappoint even 12-year old girls that happen to love horses. Namely, the motion controls can be difficult on many occasions, causing your horse to slow down when you don't want it to, turn slightly at inopportune times, etc. Who knows, maybe that's how real horses act and Atari purposely included that for realism. I don't know anything about riding a damn horse, but I know I found it difficult to make it go where I wanted on many occasions. This is not a broken game by any means, it just doesn't feature enough variety or content to warrant a purchase unless you're a huge fan of horses.
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