shooter

Link's Crossbow Training

First Hour Review

Links Crossbow Training CoverRemember when Nintendo gave Link a gun? I did when I found this baby at the media exchange shop. I wish I could say I just scored a Zelda game for a dollar, but there’s actually no “Legend of Zelda” in Link's Crossbow Training, so that would be incorrect. Also, it was two dollars.

It seems blasphemous to send Link on an adventure without his trusty sword and shield, but is it outrageous that I’m kind of excited about the idea? Zooming the Wii remote’s infrared pointer around is my favorite aspect of playing Wii games, and my best memories of Twilight Princess involved loosing arrows at goblins from horseback. Seriously, if this game lets me shoot Ganon in the face with some crossbow bolts, I may have to give it a perfect score.

I guess that seems unlikely, as any confrontation with the ultimate evil is unlikely to happen during crossbow “training.” I’ll probably just shoot targets and maybe a goblin or two. But maybe someday I’ll get my sequel, my Link’s Crossbow Conquest...

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Half-Hour Handheld

kid Icarus Uprising CoverEarlier this month, I played through the original Kid Icarus for the first time. It's a golden-age Nintendo oddity with a novel mishmash of action and RPG (novel in 1986, anyway) that provides more frustration than fun. It's okay, I guess.

But through the years, enough fans yearned for a revival of Kid Icarus that an online petition could always be found on any sizable video game forum. Unfortunately for these die-hards, Nintendo never gives its fans exactly what they want: it instead creates something new that resembles fan demands. Besides, Kid Icarus was a strange game. The only aspect of it I could see living on was the oddball Cupid Versus Eggplants theme.

Apparently Nintendo saw that too, because the new Kid Icarus: Uprising celebrates its strange heritage in a game style closer to Star Fox than a return to the original's platforming-action formula. Lifetime Kid Icarus fans are no doubt disappointed, but I couldn't be happier: the rail-shooting half of Uprising bears a strong resemblance to my 2010 Game of the Year, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, and the on-foot arena melees look no less enjoyable. Could Kid Icarus: Uprising be the 3DS's first worthy purchase of 2012?

Killzone 2

First Hour Review

Killzone 2 CoverBack at E3 2005, Sony showed off two minutes of "in-engine footage" of a highly detailed military shooter. The visuals were unmatched by anything previously seen in a video game, and PlayStation fans went nuts. In the comings days, Sony eventually backpedaled from their initial claim and admitted that the footage wasn't pulled from any gameplay architecture, and was instead a target render "done to PS3 spec." In a matter of weeks, Killzone 2 went from the new standard of visuals to a fraud.

Sony knew there was some damage control to be done here, and a few years later, the same footage was shown with in-engine graphics. Amazingly, few could tell the difference between the CG target render and the real deal, and the hype train left the station for good. At its launch in early 2009, many media outlets were calling Killzone 2's graphics unparalleled.

My interest in the game had always been lukewarm, considering my waning affinity for military-style first person shooters. Several Call of Duty titles had already come and gone, and none had left a lasting impression upon completion. I hadn't played either of the two previous Killzone games -- who has? -- but I decided to give Killzone 2 a shot anyway. After all, I've got access to a pretty amazing HDTV and surround-sound system, so I might as well put them to use.

Half-Life 2

Full Review

Half Life 2 CoverIt's hard to find a gamer who doesn't have some experience with the Half-Life franchise. A champion of PC software when things started shifting heavily in the favor of consoles, the original Half-Life wowed critics with its pulse-pounding scripted sequences and seamless stitching of narrative and gameplay in first-person. The long-awaited full sequel, Half-Life 2, received just as many accolades, if not more, for its advances in artificial intelligence, character animation, and especially the robust physics engine powering the game's many objects.

And yet, it was only two weeks ago that I first experienced a game in Valve's flagship franchise myself. I've never been much of a PC gamer: I can count the number of games I've played on a computer monitor on one hand, and four of them begin with the words "Star Wars." I've had many consoles in my life, but rarely a PC with the power to play current games. I'm actually typing this on a Macbook right now, and as we all know, Macs just aren't for gamers.

That said, Valve has made an effort to bite into the Apple market with Mac versions of Steam and many of its own big games offered therein, just in time for the annual 4th of July sales on the incredible digital distribution service. And if Valve is willing to create a Mac version of Half-Life 2 and price it at an outrageously fair $3.39 just for me, then I guess I owe it to them to try the game that millions have gone headcrab-crazy for.

But for all its fame and glory, the bottom line is that Half-Life 2 is a six-year-old PC game in a genre I'm not terribly enthralled by. Did I hate it? Hit the jump, smash that caps lock key and ready your profane comments, PC fanboys, because I'm about to tear into your beloved Half-Life 2 like a shotgun into an antlion.

Bad Cube

Full Review

bad Cube CoverThe iPhone App Store is flooded with games, some of them very good, most of them bad, but there's just an oversaturation of everything.  Only the lowest common denominator crap rises to the top (unless it's Plants vs. Zombies, that game is awesome) and tons of gems are drowned by a sea of Sally Spa clones.

One of my close friends, Rory Johnson, is an iPhone game developer, and he just released his second game: Bad Cube.  Early last year he released Circle Challenge, more of a personal challenge than anything else, and I finally got the chance to talk about it at the end of last year.  It's a fun, free time waster where the object is to just draw circles.  A simple concept, but it helped Rory learn the ropes of Objective C and the App Store.

Bad Cube is definitely a game, and a fun, challenging one at that.  It's in 3D, features the shooting of hexahedron objects, and kicked my butt many times.  I had the pleasure of watching the game mature from the "look! a 3D cube!" stage to the "look! a 3D cube that I can shoot!" stage, and it was entertaining to say the least.

Armada

First Hour Review

Armada CoverTime for a first hour review/chance to test out my capture card abilities. Today I'll be playing Armada, a Dreamcast game semi-randomly selected from those in my possession that have not been previously played through. Well, I think I actually played a few minutes of it when I got it, but nothing I particularly remember and certainly nothing particularly substantial. All I really recall is that it seemed to be received fairly positively and was supposedly a fine multiplayer game. So anyway, let's try it out. If you want to follow along with the video playthrough, you can find it at my YouTube playlist.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Full Review

Geometry Wars Galaxies CoverGeometry Wars: Galaxies is a multi-directional shooter and in my opinion, the ultimate descendant of the classic arcade game, Asteroids. This is a full retail game that expands on Geometry Wars and Retro Evolved that appeared as bonus games and on Xbox Live Arcade. It was released on the Nintendo DS and the Wii, and I played it for the DS. There are a ton of levels and there is so much more variety than just the familiar giant box with enemies appearing from the corner. I was really impressed when I encountered my first really small level and was forced to basically hole up in a corner and defend myself for a few minutes.

For those unfamiliar with the series or the concept of an Asteroids clone/descendant, it's basically you against the universe in increasingly overwhelming odds. You pilot one small ship and more and more bad guys appear constantly. The enemies are color-coded and distinctly shaped, so you always have an idea how some will act and react to you. Some just float around aimlessly, others rocket at you at incredible speed kamikaze style. There are a lot of new additions from the original that make this a worthwhile playing experience.

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