Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit REVIEWED!

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit

Platform: Playstation 3, X-BOX 360, Nintendo Wii, iPhone and PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Criterion Games
Genre: Racing
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10+


Going back to its roots, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit puts you behind the most beautiful and exotic cars to become the amazing street racer, OR the most fearsome cop in Seacrest County!


You get the true source of what makes the Need For Speed (NFS) series as famous as it is! I mean MAN, it's about time we get back to NFS being NFS. After going through SO MANY BAD games that held the series' name hostage I'm so glad I can go back to being a crazed street racer, avoiding cop blockades and spike strips, then being able to be a maniac cop hunting down a set of racers tearing down the highway.

So if you ever had a chance to play the Burnout racing series, understand that the same team behind that is the very same one who made this gem. So your car now takes some real serious DAMAGE. It's pretty insane to see your car flying down the street against oncoming traffic either avoiding cops or taking someone down and suddenly... BOOM, you just kissed a van head-on! But unlike Burnout: Paradise (the latest of the Burnout series), you get to drive licensed vehicles, and you are not driving around [forever] in a free-roaming city waiting for something to happen.

When it comes to the graphics, I guarantee you will be shocked at how clean and polished this game looks, especially (for the detail oriented gamers) since it doesn't run at 60 frames, but at 30! This game downright excites me! So much fun to play and to look at. The scenery is just beautiful. You can see the that when it rained in an area that the street is actually wet and the physics of the game changes with the climate change. So expect to adjust your turns and controlling your speed so you don't collide into a wall, guardrail, truck, or a divide. The music is top notch. They get the rights to share some really good popular music that really put you into the mood to race your butt off. 30 Seconds To Mars has a song on here that made me REALLY want to get more of their music just because I now associate "AWESOME" and "FAST" with their sound. It's also kind of funny hearing the police force get flustered when you get past one of there many obstacles.

Speaking of obstacles, you get weapons for both your cop car and for your street car. YUP! Weapons! With the cop cars you get to call for a blockade, drop spike strips right behind you while driving, a helicopter (to hunt and slow down racers that are getting away) and an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to temporarily immobilize targets right in front of you. BANANAS! As an illegal street racer you get a turbo so you can blast right through roadblocks, jammers (shuts down all radar/maps and EMPs they were about to shoot), spike strips, and EMPs!! SUPER BANANAS!!

The coolest thing they added was the AUTOLOG. This is a way to combine multiplayer with your single player career mode. It will post online any of your accomplishments and you can compete against your friends' career mode skills without having to play each other right then and there. If someone tops your time the game will let you know the next time you start the game up, which if you get as competitive as I do will lead to you replaying certain races just to stay on top. Also with Autolog you can post on the WALL with a message with it, so you can brag hard.

Online gameplay is very important and they did a great job with this game. You can enter a room and play against 7 other people. What is interesting is the way the system picks half of you to be racers while the other half plays as the cops trying to stop the racers from reaching the finish line. It seems that NFS tries to keep it even by not making you a racer every time you play so that your stats can expand evenly. You also get to use the weapons that are in the career mode to help you succeed.


Okay, now I can't really say that this game comes with many cons, but they exist. One of the things that bother me is that there's no split screen multiplayer, which is kind of a bummer. I really want to send a friend sitting next to me crashing into a wall or other cars. The difficulty is weird because the first set of races are so easy that sometimes I purposely tried to lose but when you come to a certain spot in the race the AI cars seem to slow down. Later you get challenge races where you have to use a specific car for some type of time trial and it seems that it's almost impossible to get the gold. Frustration ensues.


When I played the limited time only demo, I knew this was going to be an excellent game. I bought it and I am MORE than pleased with it. If you are looking for a fun arcade style racing game that is truly the love-child of classic Need For Speed with the graphics and physics of Burnout, then do yourself a big favor and pick this game up!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

- Jason

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010) Review

Platform(s): Nintendo WII
Developer(s): Retro Studios
Genre(s): Action-Adventure/Platformer
Rating: E for Everyone on the Wii


“Something shifty is going down on Donkey Kong Island… A tribe of mysterious marauders are putting some kind of musical voodoo spell on the island wildlife, and using them to make off with every banana in sight! Naturally, this doesn’t sit too well with Donkey Kong, whose personal banana horde has been ransacked. With pint-sized pad Diddy Kong on his shoulders, Donkey Kong sets out to get to the bottom of this banana burglary brouhaha.” (This is straight from Nintendo’s site)


Everything J I fully admit to loving this game from childhood but it is a great game and continues to impress on the Wii. The games consists of eight worlds and 40 levels. There are multiple features that are bound to amuse, entrance and enjoy. I’ll list a few of my favorites: What was quite amazing and lots o’ fun was barrel shooting. This feature existed back when the original came out (on SNES in 1994) yet there it is even more thorough as you can do so from a foreground to a background. (Although this is true, this is a 3D rendered game yet with 2D playing) You can then proceed forward in the background (with Donkey’s size still small - reflecting the adjustment for depth) - so absolutely neat! Amidst this barrel shooting, you can also break through walls. This has no functional purpose but is another detail-oriented visual that makes you appreciate all the work put into this game.

What makes having it on the Wii an advantage (besides the vibrant and sharp coloring, of course) is what you can do as a result of the motion sensitive controller. For Donkey Kong to pound the ground you shake the Wii-mote up and down. In addition, he can blow by holding the down arrow and shaking the Wii mote up and down. (This is needed for those Tiki monsters that are ablaze or to blow on flowers that reveal hidden treasures)

Another new and fabulous feature is Kong’s ability to hold onto any grass that covers ceilings, boulders etc. This allows for many new ways to travel (and avoid enemies) along with a newly learned, bit-of-skill-requiring boss battle.

What we all look for in games besides the fun factor, is replay value. After hours of working on a game run, what makes you want to pick it back up and play again? Donkey Kong Country features the collection of letters to spell out KONG (as was true of the first one) and puzzle pieces throughout each level you have to collect (New). Once you’ve collected each piece and reached the end of the level, all the pieces fit together to create one puzzle piece. Not certain yet what picture this puzzle is creating but I can’t wait to go back and find out! This video seems to imply that if you finish the whole level without dying, you’ll obtain both the KONG pieces and the puzzle piece yet maybe this is an interpretation issue:

I’m pretty certain that attempting to obtain all these items is enough to keep you busy for quite some time.

To add to the replay appeal, is the option to have two players. As was the case in the New Super Mario Brothers game, also on the Wii, this was a struggle as you had to pick a leader and a follower from the outset. Yet it provided many laughs and I know as a gamer, a healthy challenge is always what our pride desires. A quite helpful addition is Diddy’s stuttering jetpack. Although he cannot last long, the few seconds longer of flight time has saved my keister more than a few times

The game is not easy or hard but certainly challenging especially new the end. A helpful feature for those who may get stuck is an “auto play” feature that appears if you’ve died enough times in a level. It gives you the option to have the system play through the level for you. It will complete it and you’ll be able to move on but the world view will still show that level as if it were incomplete (hinting at you to finish it yourself!).


I have none! The only complaint I’ve heard was the inability to play with Diddy unless you are in co-op mode. If this is all there is to whine about, I’d say you have a winner!


BEST INVESTMENT OF THE YEAR (even over Christmas gift ;)) Seriously though, there seem to be no downsides with the exception of the number of hours of sleep you will not get as a result of playing.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

sources: http://donkeykong.nintendo.com; www.youtube.com