Thursday, November 26, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Review

Though it should've been impossible, Modern Warfare 2 lives up to and exceeds the hype, setting a new benchmark for all FPS games to be judged against.

Nothing about Modern Warfare 2 feels underwhelming, with all modes delivering in spades exactly what you'd want and more. The single-player campaign has a ton of variety in the locations and objectives, so it's unpredictable and exciting throughout. It's obvious how much care and scrutiny went into the campaign to ensure that every moment would have your heart pounding and jaw dropping to the point that the story suffers. It tries so hard to create "oh shit!" moments to raise the stakes that by the end, the whole thing's a bit of a mess. It's still a compelling tale that set the stage for some incredible gameplay moments, but would've benefited from a more logical story that explained its characters' motivations better.

Probably the most impressive thing about Modern Warfare 2's competitive multiplayer is that it finally makes Call of Duty 4's multiplayer obsolete, even archaic. There's just so much more freedom to customize your experience and so many new features and improvements that it's tough to go back. Infinity Ward set the standard with CoD4, making other games feel too rigid and basic, but now they've set the bar a lot higher. The new cooperative Spec Ops mode almost steals the show, though. Every scenario is vastly different from the last and offers a fantastic challenge. It's the kind of mode you can replay over and over with your friends, brainstorming new strategies to shave seconds off your time, and it's always a blast.

The biggest surprise with Modern Warfare 2 is that it takes the unrealistically high expectations people had for it and goes beyond it all. In the FPS genre, this game has no equal.

Modern Warfare 2 / $59.99 / Reviewed on 360

Monday, November 16, 2009

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand Review

Against all odds, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand takes a premise so ridiculous and silly that it seemed doomed from the start and turns it into a genuinely enjoyable action game.

Let's be frank: the plot here is outlandish, illogical, and just plain stupid. It's impossible to take seriously and doesn't have a shred of plausibility. But that's what makes it totally awesome. Controlling 50 Cent as he runs around the Middle East, snapping necks and gunning down hundreds of people without a hint of remorse in search of a diamond-encrusted skull, is as unintentionally hilarious and gratifying as you'd hope. But the surprising part is that the rest of the game is actually really good.

Blood on the Sand does some very interesting things with its standard shooting mechanics to add substance to the novelty of playing as 50 Cent. There's a very old-school arcade mentality at work here that rewards you for everything from combo kills to forgoing cover to taunting while you murder. As well, there are hidden targets to shoot and posters to collect in every level, and the game constantly throws quick challenges at you that have you scrambling to kill a specific set of enemies within a very short time limit. It's all strangely fresh and addictive, propelling you from one encounter to the next without the experience getting stale.

Considering that you can find it for dirt cheap now, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is shockingly easy to recommend. It's dumb and absurd, but it's a lot of fun, too.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand / $59.99 / Reviewed on PS3

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brütal Legend Review

After a genuinely impressive first hour, Brütal Legend stops trying to be fun or funny and instead opts to be bland, boring, and a complete waste of time.

Brütal Legend knows how to make a fantastic first impression. The menus are incomprehensibly awesome, the intro is hilarious, and the game's art direction is amazing. But that part is available in the free demo. Almost immediately after the demo section ends, the entire game goes on a downward spiral that it never recovers from. It starts adding layers of complexity that it simply didn't need and don't work, the story becomes predictable and uninteresting, and worst of all, it just isn't funny anymore.

All aspects of Brütal Legend's gameplay are frustratingly underdeveloped. The melee combat is dull and lacking, with new moves and upgrades feeling totally useless. The exploration is pointless thanks to poor car handling, an awful waypoint system, and offensively repetitive side-missions. The stage battles suffer from so many design oversights that the only thing more baffling than why Brütal Legend even tries to be an RTS is why it tries to be an RTS with online multiplayer. Had it at least maintained the humor from the beginning of the game, all of these problems might have been bearable, but instead it tries to be serious and dramatic. Yet it fails at that, too.

Despite starting off incredibly strong, Brütal Legend turns out to be nothing more than a disappointing, unimaginative game that you should absolutely avoid. Instead, get the demo and imagine what could've been.

Brütal Legend / $59.99 / Reviewed on PS3