Friday, February 25

March Xbox Live Mixed Bag

Like most of you, I too trawl through the new and old releases available on Xbox Live. Sometimes I’m rewarded with gems such as Trials HD, while other times I search for a dull instrument to stab myself with (thanks Bionic Commando 2). Earlier this month I picked up a few demo’s to pass the time and this is what I thought of them.

Super Meat Boy

From the moment I saw this arrive I thought to myself, “This is going to be dodgy. Don’t waste the bandwidth”. Then, as time passed by, I heard a number of positive reviews and I was convinced to at least give it a crack.

I was right all along. This game is horrible.

Essentially you are a blob of meat living your life doing meat things. Suddenly your girlfriend is kidnapped by a guy named Dr Foetus (alarm bells start ringing), you get beaten up and decide to rescue her. It’s a very basic single screen platformer where you aim to beat the clock when getting from your starting position to a bandage on the screen. You can jump up walls (leaving a bloody trail behind you) with the main goal not to be viciously killed by a buzz saw or long falls.

2/10. I was bored within minutes, with the only enjoyable feature being the games’ introduction – it has a cool 80’s retro feel, complete with an over the top voice over of the title.


One of the newest releases from Brisbane’s Halfbrick Studios, Raskulls is a side scrolling platformer with a number of cute characters, which for some reason remind me of Sonic. The plot is simple: alien rats have crash landed on your planet and are looking to steal a powerful gem to fuel their ship. Local authorities intercept the gem and you are summoned by the King to deliver it to the Knight, who is destined to save the kingdom.

The game design is quite refreshing; it combines the action of a traditional side scroller with elements of Tetris, creating interesting and addictive game play. Furthermore, the goal of many levels differs, reducing repetition for players. While some levels require the player to get from point A to point B, others are a race against AI characters or are a special quest to unlock new characters and tricks.

8/10. I actually ended up playing Raskulls for much longer than I intended, only stopping because I wanted to get through some other games during the night. It is well animated and addictive, with my only criticisms being towards the script and the way the characters communicate.

Bionic Commando 2

A retro style side scroller, BC2 is a total and utter waste of time. I found the game design insulting due to pointless little notes such as ‘Press A to jump’ or ‘To fire your weapon press B’ well into the first level. Thanks for telling me what I figured out as the game started. These notes tell you everything from when to open doors to picking up keys and where to put them. I can think of a place to put this game...

1/10. As the design hurts your brain, the soundtrack hurts your ears. The horrible bass and beats will haunt your dreams. Don’t bother.

Dead Space 2

Although I never played the first Dead Space, I did watch the animated movie (although that doesn’t help me because I fell asleep during). I won’t go into much detail of the game considering Dutch has already looked into it (Inertia Creeps – will Dutch be able to make it through for a review?) however I must say it did manage to start to freak me out. Why? Because nothing happened for the first three rooms I meekly entered and I was anticipating some massive alien monster zombie thing to jump out of nowhere, making me soil myself while it ate the character on-screen.

Unfortunately the wait was scarier than the result. Once I got through that first attack, I knew what to expect and it just turned into another horror based shoot ‘em up.

6/10. This score is mainly due to the scared-by-anticipation factor. Not many games or media in general create this sensation for me so credit where credit is due. Also, I feel like this game could be good, it’s just not my cup of tea. Resident Evil (PS1) was my last successful venture into horror and that’s how it’ll stay.

Fight Night Champion

As a fan of the Fight Night series, this is a game I’ve been keen to try for a while. I’m yet to give it a good crack (hence no score below) but I did dabble with a number of the features and a have a quick fight.

Firstly, from a marketing perspective, I find this demo amazing purely because it’s trying to sell itself. The menu is (what I can only imagine) recreated to incorporate videos on how the game was made, what to expect, new features and much more. I haven’t seen this in many demos before and I’ve always wondered why it’s not a common feature.

Visually, the game is aesthetically appealing, with many improvements since FN4 including reactions to hits, fighter animation and overall style of the game.

Fighter control is similar to previous instalments but slightly improved. While you still use both analogue sticks to fight (you can use the buttons if you prefer), the movement for each punch is more fluid than in FN4. By moving each stick in a specific direction you are able to easily dictate the type of punch you want to throw. This allows careless button mashers such as myself to be more tactical and throw more of the punches I want to throw because the movements are much more organic.

The soundtrack is full of hip ho p and urban beats; not my choice but I found it uplifting and a pleasure to listen to when it was on.

I’m currently undecided about this game. I’m keen to play it again to get a better feel for it and to try the career but after EA Sports MMA I’m not sure if I can happily give up my hard earned dollars for another EA fight simulator. Whilst I really enjoyed FN4, Fight Night Championship might take a bit of time to come around.

Have you picked up anything good of late from Xbox Live or PSN? What are your all time favourite downloads?

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