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Entries in Previews (512)


Quickie: Chester (XBLIG)

The Xbox LIVE Indie Games coverage has been severely lacking as of late. When I say, "severely lacking," I mean non-existent. This has been due to many reasons—none greater than my own laziness—but I hope to change this and return to my once pseudo-glory. This here post is just the beginning and while going through dozens of XBLI games as August turned into September, one game stood out. The game capable of standing on its hind legs would be Chester, and while I haven't played it for hours, my brief time with the game has left an impression.

Chester is beautiful, if a little rough, and has a great style, a style that seems to change from level to level and can be manually controlled by the player. The ability to switch styles/characters—once unlocked, of course—breathes a certain life into the game and keeps it fresh like an icebox—I'm old. As someone who tends to be more critical when it comes to visuals, it's nice to see an indie game appease my four eyes. Along with lovely visuals, Chester's presentation and way of delivering information is well-implemented and  something a lot of smaller developers tend to ignore.

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Quickie: Dead Island (Multi)

Dead Island is one of my favorite games this year, which is funny when it comes from the same developers [Techland] of one of my most hated games all year: Call of Juarez: The Cartel. I would rather smuggle drugs for the cartel by placing countless bags of coke in an extremely uncomfortable place—no, not a Volkswagen—than play The Cartel. Dead Island could, without question, use some polish, but it has the kind of hooks capable of addicting me in the same way coke hooks a cokehead.

The hooks I speak of are a leveling system with numerous upgrades and an open-world that actually feels open. A well-implemented leveling system—which The Cartel does not have—is enough for me to play the absolute worst games, but that's not to say Dead Island is a bad game. The leveling system featured in Dead Island is similar to games like Borderlands, with three columns of differing themes, leaving many choices, many hard choices. Each level feels earned and I was addicted to getting experience points in whatever way possible. The game also manages to have a environment that feels completely open despite that being false. It may be due to the island setting, but for the most part, I never felt like I wasn't free, except the moment I was being warned about leaving the game area.

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Impressions: Madden 12

Having just played the Madden 12 demo, I am surprised by my ability to successfully run the ball on a consistent basis. In fact, I am surprised by the overall quality of Madden's gameplay in general this year. The tackling, physics, and ability to play a more balanced game are all improved and this is the first time I have been excited about a Madden game in years, possibly the first time since NFL 2K's murder. There are many tweaks that all come together to deliver an experience where no single aspect is always the way to go—i.e. always blitzing or running slot routes.

The improved gameplay is accompanied by much needed improvements to presentation—such as team-specific intros and an overall look more reminiscent to an actual football game. The most impressive improvement, however, is the detail put into Jay Cutler's massive eye-bags. That being said, the visuals are very much the same and I really wish there would be a jump in quality at any point in time. By any point in time, I mean why is the series still unable to blow my mind visually?

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There's a reason they didn't call her Mrs. 'Splosion Man

Ms. 'Splosion Man has plenty of game, but her charm is almost non-existent. Everything I loved about 'Splosion Man—the gameplay, style, music, and charm—found its way into Ms. 'Splosion Man except for the charm. This lack of charm is due to an abundance of dialogue from the title character and her "nails on a blackboard" voice. Quoting 90's female pop songs is a great idea, but saying them over and over again every thirty seconds is a horrible idea, especially when there isn't much variety. There was a point when she threw out three separate quotes in about fifteen seconds and I just wanted to slap her.

I relieved this annoyance by muting the vocal-specific audio, but this only managed to remove an irritation and did nothing to add charm. Getting past my distaste for the choices made specifically with the character, the game is still fun for the most part. The gameplay is basically identical with new aspects added on a fairly regular basis and some really well thought out level design; however, the camera can force multiple attempts due to cheapness and not user error. The visuals are improved and my favorite part of the game is without question, the music. I eventually stopped playing because a charmless game is not as enjoyable as a "charmless man" and I ceased having any fun.

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Immediate Impressions: Child of Eden

Child of Eden may be the only game capable of ever honestly saying, "Better with Kinect." I have only just begun playing the game, but the feeling I obtain from playing Child of Eden with Kinect is genuinely a new experience. The music is a key component, but playing with my hands—take this time to say your dirty jokes—delivers a sense of immersion and excitement I haven't felt in a long time—more time for dirty jokes. I can't help my lack of originally in the coming statement, but Child of Eden justifies my purchase of Kinect.

With all that said, playing with Kinect—while making it a more enjoyable experience—does not make it easier. Success is much more obtainable with the use of a controller, but the blissful joy takes a hit when controls get physical. There is just something exhilarating about using the Kinect to play this game. The controls are simple—either use one hand for lock-on and one for tracers, or clap to change between the two—and most importantly, the controls work. At no time do I feel as if I'm moving unnaturally to appease the game and I quickly find myself lost in what is currently—from my limited experience—the reason to buy a Kinect.

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