Friday, April 30, 2010

'Splosion Man Review

So innocent. So Sploderrific.

I can remember a time when I thought of the Xbox Live Arcade as merely a portal for retro games. You could count on one hand the number of original games and better still you were lucky if you found one worth playing. This is not a review of a service but I feel, as do others, that this service provides me with more games - as of late - that I love than traditional retail.

That being said, Splosion Man is the stuff of legend. You and I both wish that there was this kind of passion for creating games everywhere in the industry. Twisted Pixel splodes their way into your heart and here is why:

Splosion Man is the two-hour old product of Big Science's ridiculous experiments - other experiments often come in the form baddies that you encounter throughout the game - and he is not happy. His is happy, however, to turn all of the scientists into big chunks of meat. It never gets old. The "story" is really that simple and technically there is no real ending (Splosion Man 2 please?).

The biggest achievement for this game is the level design. It is brilliant and naturally the best - and most prominent - part of the game. The levels are always at a level of impossible adding in just a glint of being able to beat them; it keeps you going and makes you feel like a king when you pass one of the levels.

What brings those levels to life? The fact that the game is rendered in the beautifully stylized Third Dimension; can you believe it? It looks similar if not identical to the graphical style of The Maw and it is just as charming - if not more so.

Though you cannot put a price on charm and the fact that price does not usually factor into a review (as well as it should not) let us just look at this game from a value standpoint: it is is 800 Points (ten bucks) and for that you not only get 50 levels of single player but 50 different levels just for co-op multiplayer (couch co-op or LIVE). Extra goodies also make their way in there in the way of gamerpics, a premium theme, and avatar clothing. If you end up liking the game, of course if you do not you should be sploded into steaks, this a splodin' sweet value.

I remember that when this game was announced on April Fool's Day of 2009 I rolled my eyes. On April second they confirmed that Splosion Man was a real game. I was still not impressed, excited, or at all interested. Then folks got their hands on it, started talking about it, and I had to have it. Splosion Man never disappoints and is always coming out with clever quips and hilarious random sayings that border on catch phrases. The three bosses in the single-player mode are equally as funny and the animations for all characters in the game are amazing. I cannot say enough good things about this game so please, if you haven't already, liberate your wallet of ten dollars that desperately wants to be spent on Splosion Man.

Editor's Note: Only this single player portion of this game was played for this review. The multiplayer was sampled but not completed. Not that it matters - obviously - but the game was paid for by the reviewer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Split/Second Demo Impressions

Split/Second is still a game I have mixed feelings on. I had the opportunity to check out the demo and I played through the solitary race (the only one included in the demo) 4 or 5 times in a row. Based on the demo and my previous hands-on time with the game I feel like I am not seeing a large enough sample of this game (perhaps the much touted Survival mode would sell me?) - at the very least, not enough to merit a purchase. This game will be a word of mouth purchase if it ends up purchased at all.

Alas, I am jumping to my own conclusions too soon; at the very least these demo impressions will be a comparison (hopefully a stark one) to my previous hands-on time.

To start I will say that the same events, both large and small, still feel copy and pasted though I did get to experience two course alterations whereas previously I had only noticed one major one per track. One of the course alterations was a large tower falling and thus changing the course of the race but it felt extraordinarily reminiscent of the Space Needle falling on the track (and from other trailers there look to be a lot of falling tall structures).

In my five races I only lost once, and just barely, and I found that I was just trying to get a better time (my best being '4"24). I experienced every event that this track had to offer and by the end (except for trying to get a better time) I was tiring of the sameness. I even had earning Power Play juice down to an exact science.

I also noticed this time around different Power Play levels (1 & 2). The first are simple things such as blowing up a parked car as an opponent drives by and having explosive barrels dropped from helicopters. Level 2 Power Plays require the full PP Meter (course alterations require this as well) but with good reason - buildings blow up and can take out upwards of 5 opponents at a time. It is fun a few times but perhaps it would be more satisfying if I were playing this demo online.

The major thing that I noticed that was a stark comparison from my hands-on time with the game was that there seems to be little or no slowdown at all (one of my previous major worries).

I may be one of this games only critics but Split/Second is still on my list of wait-and-see games. Perhaps I should check out this Blur Multiplayer Beta I have been hearing a lot about.