Rhythm Heaven - PAX Writeup

I was a huge fan of the import only GBA original Rhythm Tengoku, and was thrilled to hear about the DS sequel, even more so when I heard it was getting localised for at PAL release under the name Rhythm Heaven.

If you never played the original, the easiest way to describe it is somewhere inbetween Elite Beat Agents and Warioware (and indeed is from the same team as Warioware). There are a bunch of microgames thrown at you at an incredible pace, and they all rely on you using your ears, and rhythm skills to play along.

You probably need to play it to fully understand, but it's a really original and entertaining game, and this new entry makes great use of the DS touch screen.

A convention floor is probably the worst setting to play this kind of game, where the sound is the most important feedback you get from the game, but I still really enjoyed it.

Rhythm Heaven, DS - £24.99 delivered

Fallout 3 - PAX Writeup

Did you like oblivion?
Do you like the idea of a witty, post-apocalyptic setting?
Do you like guns?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, then you will no doubt love Fallout 3, since from what I have seen it is basically Oblivion, in a witty, post-apocalyptic setting, with guns.

Not that this is a bad thing by any means, it looks a hell of a lot of fun. I didn't get to play it myself, but I watched Bethesda show it off for about an hour.

It is a pretty cool mash up of realtime and turn based combat, called "Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System" or VATS. There is pretty standard realtime first/third person combat, but within limit, you can cut to a turnbased combat, with really satisfying targeting of specific body parts, and some incredible looking critical hits.

All in all, looking great.

Fallout 3, Xbox 360 - £37.99 delivered
Fallout 3, PS3 - £37.99 delivered
Fallout 3, PC - £21.99 delivered

Yakuza 2, PS2 - £14.99

Yakuza 2, PS2 - £14.99 delivered

Thanks to The Yugunator for the tip off

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, PS3 - £24.99

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, PS3 - £24.99 delivered

Mushroom Men, Wii - £24.99

Mushroom Men, Wii - £24.99 delivered

Theme Park, DS - £10.99

Theme Park, DS - £10.99 delivered

Wario Land: The Shake Dimension - PAX Writeup

I've been a big fan of the Wario platformers ever since Mario Land 3 on the original Gameboy, so the horrific result of Nintendo farming out the DS game "Wario - Master of Disguise" but me pretty deep.

But Nintendo seem really determined to make up for that with "The Shake Dimension" of the Wii.

It's a 2D platformer very much in the vein of Warioland 4, which can only be a good thing. It controls and feels very similarly to Warioland 4, except with added waggle. The Waggle is somewhat redundant for the most part, but certainly not harmful.

This game has some of the best spritework I have ever seen in a platformer, wario's animation is silky smooth, and the backdrops to the levels are beautiful.

I'm mostly just shocked to see a full price 2D platformer coming out of Nintendo in 2008, and I am really excited about playing the final game.

Wario Land: The Shake Dimension, Wii - £26 delivered

P.R.O.J.E.C.T. O.R.I.G.I.N. - PAX Writeup

Ok, the backronym is my doing, but I couldn't help the friendly jab at the stupidly titled first game in this series F.E.A.R. or First Encounter Assault Recon.

Project Origin seems to do everything right that F.E.A.R. did. You get to shoot guys with a nail gun, in slow motion.

You also get to climb into a giant mech, and shoot guys.

The controls aren't bad either.

It's nice and atmospheric. By atmospheric I mean there's a creepy girl, that always follows you, and the music is nice and eerie.

The FPS market is pretty crowded at the moment, and I can't really point anything out about Project Origin that really makes it stand out. But it is certainly not bad.

Project Origin, Xbox 360 - £39.99
Project Origin, PS3 - £39.99
Project Origin, PC - £24.99

Guild Wars - Review

Guild Wars - PC

Review by LewieP

I have never played Guild Wars, or any other NCsoft/ArenaNet game in my entire life.

The nice lady from ArenaNet let me in the PAX party early with the VIPs, and then gave me 8 free drink vouchers.


Legendary - PAX Writeup

Here is a list with problems that have populated first person shooters for a long time:

Invisible Walls
Unskipable cut scenes
Bad cut scenes
Disparity between what happens in cut scenes and what happens in game
Bad voice acting
Invincible enemies that don't even respond to being attacked
Weird animation
Ugly human models
Awful pedestrian intro sections, where you cannot die or interact with anything in any meaningful way
Long load times
Bits where you have to hold a button for 6/7 seconds to turn a dial

These are all present in Legendary.

Maybe the rest of the game is fantastic, but my time with the first 20 minutes of the game was a waste of my life, and I will never get that time back.

Soundtrack is pretty rocking though.

Legendary, Xbox 360 - £34.98 delivered
Legendary, PS3 - £34.98 delivered
Legendary, PC - £24.98 delivered

Defence Grid: The Awakening - PAX Writeup

My experience with the tower defence genre is limited to a few wasted hours with the odd flash based tower defence game, and some time with Pixeljunk Monsters, but I had a great deal of fun with Defence Grid.

This is the second release from Hidden Path, they put out Wits and Wagers on Xbox live a while back, and are now releasing this tower defence game on the PC.

I was playing the game with Mark Terrano (ex-Ensemble Studios) and Dave McCoy (ex-FASA), who were founders of Hidden Path, and they really love their games, and a really nice guys. Hidden Path are doing a bunch of things differently with this game, and it really shows.

It's the first Tower Defence game, to my (and their) knowledge that has any narrative. A Sci-Fi story, told through short cut scenes before levels and in game audio. It's being made by a relatively small team, about 20, and it's been in development for around a year.

Tower Defence games have you trying to defend a point from waves of enemies by managing gun turrets.

Typically of the genre, it's very simple to play, but complicated to master. There are 10 different types of tower, unlocking as you progress through the game, and three tiers of upgrades for each tower, each tier colour coded. There is also an interest system that means not spending money can lead to having increased resources in the future, but at the cost of reduced capability in the meantime.

There is a really clever AI pathfinding system, whereby enemies will seek out the path of least resistance in regards to the number of force fields (which are generated by two turrets positioned next to each other), but they do not consider the time they are under fire. So by intelligently placing turrets, you can massively increase the total damage they receive, adding another layer of depth to the game.

The controls are really simple, you can play it with just the mouse. The interface is pretty clever, and nicely minimalist, and there are lots of visual indicators in game giving you hints as to what is going on, the three tiers of colour coding are consistent through everything, enemy strength, turret upgrade level, core status.

It's planned for a downloadable PC release, with no distribution service planned as of yet, but I think it would be a perfect fit for consoles in the future too. Currently single player only, but there's support for leaderboards.

Overall I am pretty impressed, and it's not the type of game I would have expected to enjoy. It's lined up for a November release, and I can't wait for the final release.