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Posts Tagged ‘microsoft studios’

Microsoft Finds Some Success With "Happy Wars" F2P

After Sony found some success in the free-to-play model (EVE Online: Dust 514, the plethora of games in PlayStation Home) it would seem like a no-brainer that Microsoft would dip their feet into this popular form of gaming. Teaming up with Toylogic (who helped out on Super Smash Bros. Brawl) the big M’s first foray into F2P-modeled gaming has come to fruition in Happy Wars.

The basis of Happy Wars is fairly simply: a tower-defense war between two parties of fifteen online gamers takes place on a field. The first one to infiltrate the enemies’ castle and smash apart their totem-poled Big Tower wins the battle. Of course it’s not that easy; you simply cannot just mosey into the castle and take the win.

Click here to read the full review!

"Trials" Sequel Lives Up To Its "Evolution" Namesake

Oooohhhh yeaaahhh!!! It’s a beautiful thing when you can conquer a world with only two wheels, especially after Redlynx upped the graphics and the level of difficulty in the latest incarnation of the Trials series.

MAIN GAME:

As it says in the video above Trials Evolution features a “massive single player,” which is a largely correct statement. The levels range from beginner to extreme, making this game as ultimate as it can get for a third-person/side-scrolling motocross game. The regular levels give you a ton of different options from dirt tracks and planks of wood to metal and everything else you can find under the sun (or a junkyard). They tossed in everything from racing the clock mode to what they call the Skill Game Circus.

Racing the clock deals with getting four different licenses ranging from D through A. Each License Test teaches you how to take care of the certain parts on the maps after obtaining the licenses. The levels then go from Walk in the Park, Fuel for the Flames, Terminal Velocity, Collateral Damage, Cutting Edge, Death Valley, Flatliner, and Tournaments, with the difficulty going from beginner to the extremely hard. I have to say that you can enjoy the game from Walk in the Park up to about Cutting Edge, but once you get to Death Valley and Flatliner, you get to the point where you OCD on the level or you rage quit and toss your controller through the TV because it’s so incredible hard. It’s like the saying goes: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” where it’s just one of those things where you think you’ve made it to the end and then suddenly the character makes a move and falls off his bike. Trials Evolution can and will make you very very angry!!!

The Skill Game Circus features many mini-game challenges. The first is Gas Problem, where you got to see how far you can go when your bike is running low on gas. Next is Freestyler, in which you hit the slopes on skis and see how long you can go before crashing. Icarus Factor has you launching yourself off the motorcycle and flying high with boards tied to your character’s arms. S.P.H.E.R.E. (Super Powered High-Speed Electoballistic Rolling Experience) puts you in a big shiny ball and into a maze of obstacles in vein of Ninja Warrior. One interesting one is UFO, where your motocross bike is hooked up to a UFO and you have to fly it onto specific spots and get to the end in the shortest amount of time.

Balance of Power will have you use your throttle to balance yourself on the obstacles without leaning, so if you touch the stick on your controller you fall off. Cruise Control takes your brakes away as you try to see how long you can last before crashing. Ball of Steel deals with your bike carrying a big shiny metal ball, creating a balance act from hell as you go through the level’s obstacles. Mr. Vertigo lets your character revisit his childhood days of swinging on monkey bars, except these ones are hugs and are attached to a swinging point that launches you even further. Last, but not least, is Exploding Man, made in honor of the video game ‘Spolsion Man, where you explode your character off the bike and have to get him through these tightly-knit places while bouncing off the walls and avoiding water and buzz saws.

The controls in this game have gotten better since Trials HD. They are a bit more responsive, and it makes the game a bit easier to play. I do have to say I have had issue where I have landed down properly in certain points, and it seemed to grave the wheel of the bike and flip it over. However I think they have been able to fix the issues like that by now with their recent updates. The game itself is a great challenge, but I swear if you OCD this may not be the title for you. If you’re dealing with friends that have played it you could be trying to beat their best score on the map, and all you see is a dot with their name on it fly by you if you’re not fast enough. It’s awesome that they added this to the game to make it more challenging.

For your garage they have many great ways to customize your bike (along with your rider) to make him your own. The bikes you have are the Rattler 125 cc, Piranha 250 cc, Scorpion 450 cc, and Phoenix Evo 250 cc. They also brought back the very small and hilarious Micro Donkey 60 cc, which really can only be used in the beginning and a few of the easy maps. You can only unlock if you have obtained the Unyielding Achievement in Trials HD. For the regular bikes you have the lower-end ones for beginner and easy levels (Rattler and Piranha). They have low horsepower, so they can’t get you anywhere on the extreme. When you get to the Scorpion it’s like Heaven on earth, where it gives you the proper power to get through the courses. With the Phoenix you wonder why it has a 250 cc. That’s because the design of the bike is for trials riding, where it has a longer, sleeker frame that contours to the objects that you have to jump across. This also makes this game strategic for using which motocross bike where.

Track Central is absolutely amazing. You can create your own tracks, and then share them online for other people to play. Doing this is great for community play of this game. It’s the way games should be done, where your creativity can run rampant!

MULTIPLAYER:

The multiplayer aspect gives you three options. The first is Super Cross, a fast side-by-side race where you have to score points from several tracks and heats to win the match. Trials is a fast single-lane ghost bike race on the easier tracks, in which you score points from several tracks to win the match. Finally there’s Hardcore Trials. You have the single-land trials but in the hardcore tracks, scoring points from the several tracks to win the match. If you’re up for the challenge, go right ahead and do the Hardcore mode. I have been on it, and there are some douchebags out there wanting to make your life miserable. Believe me: they will make fun of you if you can’t get up certain things that they can get up in two seconds. That’s how to really rage quit: hearing someone on the other end saying you suck!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Trials Evolution is a great game to play and compete with your friends. I’m not saying there is a lot of replay value, but if you’re hooked on the OCD concept of trying to beat the clock or your friends, you can play this game till your blue in the face or dead. The graphics are a great improvement from the last game, and the physics of the game are done very well. However the music is one of the biggest drawbacks of the game because there is maybe two official songs, along with the weird ones that change at the startup of every game. You can always set up a music list on Windows Media Player and just play it off your Xbox that way. All in all Redlynx did a job well-done, and I can’t wait for the next installment of Trials!

PROS:

  • Massive single player!!!
  • Great mixture of tracks (especially the roller coaster-styled ones)
  • Play against your friends on the track when they are not even on it
  • When you reach the end, and your character dies hilariously

CONS:

  • Music can be repetitive
  • Ground mechanics after landing might cause frustration
  • Douchebags on the multiplayer
  • Game may cause rage quitting and Tourette’s

FINAL GRADE: 9.3 (out of ten)

GAME: Trials Evolution
DEVELOPER: RedLynx
PLATFORM: Xbox Live Arcade

Klei Entertainment Releases New "Mark of the Ninja" Trailer, Screenshots

The creators of Shank are ready to reveal more info on their next title.

A stealth-based game Mark of the Ninja will have you controlling a ninja with a cursed tattoo, one that will give you great power but will probably kill you as your journey reaches its end. Check out the new trailer below, along with some new screenshots:

Mark of the Ninja, an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, will be available later this summer.

"Fez" Will Give You Goosebumps

 

There comes a time when a game not only embraces artistic integrity, it puts it front and center in the gaming experience. Titles such as Flower and Journey have done this well in the past, in which gameplay, storytelling, and visual beauty combine to create a unique experience. Newcomers Polytron Corporation (with some assistance from Trapdoor, the makers of the violently brilliant Warp) have done just that with its Xbox Live Arcade exclusive Fez, a game that not only gives nods to old-school gaming, but also successfully meshes it with new-school style.

Gomez lives in a world where cubes claim to be nonexistent, until one day he is given the adventurous task of saving his beloved world when shards of 32 gold cubes and 32 anti-cubes are scattered across the land. With the power of switching perceptions thanks to his new hat Gomez can now reach bigger heights and solve puzzles. Along with his not-so-helpful friend Dot, Gomez races against time to save his planet from being sucked into a black hole.

The game is constantly played from a 2D-aspect, with the ability to flip the view of each world 90 degrees at a time. Throughout the game players will have to find doors that lead to different rooms and areas that contain shards of the golden cubes, as well as figure out the solution to various puzzles. You will also collect maps that lead to hints for four hidden artifacts, though these maps can be quite confusing to figure out. There are no power-ups, there are no villains, and there are no penalties for death. This game is about an average character who is given an extraordinary task, something that should hit home to gamers everywhere.

The game’s simple control scheme allows gamers of all ages to jump into Fez. Clicking the left trigger or right trigger flips the area, the d-pad or left control stick moves Gomez around, A jumps, B lets you talk or read signs, and X grabs objects used to solve key mysteries throughout the game. At times players will find themselves thinking outside the box to discover hidden cubes and pieces, with some puzzles literally requiring gamers to use something outside their Xbox. In a couple instances I came across some wall imagery that looked conspicuously like QR codes. Turns out by whipping out your smartphone and scanning the image you will find a hidden button code that — when put in — will grab you another cube for you to use on your journey.

It is very easy to get lost in the world of Fez, though, with its beautiful map causing more confusion than help. At the same time, however, I feel that this game encourages games to lose themselves in it. The worlds you travel within Fez are nothing short of breathtaking, with each pixel pulling you in closer and closer as the game progresses. It may look like something you’ve played on your NES back in the day, but here the game’s ambiance helps to make the visuals seem fresh and something you’ve never seen before. Each area I discovered made me gaze at its beauty, something that not even a game made using the Unreal engine has ever made me do. My face almost starting hurting from smiling so much during gameplay because I was so enthralled by its world.

A special nod must be given to Disasterpeace’s musical score. It is the icing of this game’s delicious cake, with each song creating the perfect emotional companion piece to what is happening on the screen. (If I were you, I’d at least take a listen to it on his Bandcamp page, with the option of buying it if you like all things gaming.)

What works, too, about Fez is its tongue-in-cheek humor. For one thing your new friend Dot, who is supposed to be your guide in this game, really doesn’t do much except tell you how to control the game. When it comes to the knowings of what’s going on, he has just as much of a clue as you. Polytron also made some “glitchy” gags when Gomez first gains the power of the fez, going so far as to “rebooting” the game in classic Windows 3.1 fashion.

Fez will take you roughly six hours to complete during your first playthrough, as you need just 32 cubes of any kind to access the final door. The ending you will bear witness to is very Kubrick, only instead you’re given a much happier ending than what he would’ve done. The option of New Game+ will also appear as soon as you beat it, with all the cubes and artifacts you’ve collected from your first go-around in your possession; and believe me: you’ll have to learn a new made-up language to find the other 32 cubes in the game. (No, seriously, you will.) There’s also one tiny little bonus you’ll be able to do in New Game+, but I will not spoil it for anyone here.

PROS:

  • Unique twist on classic gaming
  • Beautiful visuals and soundtrack
  • Puzzles will work your brain in various great ways

CONS:

  • Can get lost in the worlds easily

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Fez is a love letter to games and gamers alike. It has so much character and beauty that it’s impossible to ignore. What Polytron has done here with 8-bit gaming is the same thing electronica artists have done with chiptune music: made it fresh and exciting for a whole new generation. Fez isn’t just an amazing game, it’s also a work of digital art. When 2012 draws to a close, it might even be my pick for Game of the Year.

FINAL GRADE: 10 (out of ten)

Klei Entertainment Leaves Its "Mark" At PAX East

Klei Entertainment, the folks that brought us the Shank series, brought its latest bloody baby to PAX East this weekend: Mark of the Ninja.

Unlike in Shank this game features more of the dark shadow element that the ninjas use to their advantage. The darkness acts as both a solid offense and a good defense when it comes to hiding and taking out their enemies. In Shank you were the gun-ho run-in with daggers, swords, and chainsaw that really caused a lot of havoc. In this game you’re able to hug the wall a bit more and actually do more stealth kills. The idea of the game now is try to get through the level with either killing all the enemies, or you can even choose to get through the level with out killing people.

The main part of Mark of the Ninja is that your ninja clan hasn’t been doing well, so your ninja bears this tattoo that gives these heightened senses. However the draw back to the heightened sense is that it will drive you freakin’ nuts, and that you must end your life at the end of the mission before you get sucked into the madness. This is definitely the part of the story that intrigued me. With me I believe it can only mean that one thing isn’t true, which could either be what the masters say to the ninjas, or the ninja you play as seems to be immune to it. I can see this game going for another round because it just looks that good.

Klei Entertainment has created yet another great game, which you can look out for exclusively on the Xbox Live Arcade mid-2012.

Check out our interview with Klei Entertainment here!