The Nintendo 3DS

I've never been much of a Nintendo Fan, as I've found their games to be too gimmicky. Now, there's the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS slated to be released in spring-summer of this year in Japan. Here's what it promises to be like:

I applaud Nintendo for taking steps towards new and innovative things, but is this just going to lead to more Mario games being made? Nintendo takes all these risks to make something different and fantastic, and then dredge out Mario or Link instead of something...unique. Don't get me wrong, the DS has some great games developed by other companies like Rondo of Swords, but it's starting to feel like all the innovation and technology is used to simply "Make another Mario game".


Assassin's Creed 2 review

Assassin's Creed 2 is a continuation of the first game, picking up exactly where it ended: Desmond Miles finding secret writings on his wall that are a foreboding of what's to come. Instead of Altair, Desmond now takes control of another ancestor, Ezio Auditore, and now roams through the streets and over the rooftops of famous Italian cities.
The good: the improvement in graphics is well-noted, as faces are given more characteristic, animated movement with expressions that make you want to empathize with the characters a little. The control is also a bit better, but suffers a little with the camera moving on its own at some points.
Story-wise, it's a lot more cryptic than the original, almost Dan Brown-esque with how things play out.
The introduction of puzzles when glyphs are found pulls the game away from the slightly monotonous tasks Ezio has to go through and gives the brain something else to do, not to mention reveals another piece of "The Truth".
Treasure chests and feathers have replaced the flag "adventure" from the first game, but have other purposes, like uplifting your uncle's villa, buying better armour to protect yourself with, and help your mother out of the funk she's fallen into.
Assassination contracts are also a great addition, as each one requires something different to be done. Some aren't all that easy and require a bit of thinking.
Races, beat up events and courier assignments: these also keep the game interesting, and there aren't that many of them to do so each assignment doesn't bore easily.
The not so great: monotony. Once you get the hang of what all of the symbols on your map mean, you'll more than likely follow whatever pattern you've set yourself to ensure you've gotten everything: climb a tower to a viewpoint, seek out the treasures and feathers, do other misc. tasks. Rinse, repeat. If you meet a guard, run away or kill him, loot corpse and hide it. Repetitiveness can make even the once-fun things become a chore.


"Name a feature that you would like to see implemented into your console of choice"

For the XBox 360, I would have a d-bag detector installed. It would detect if a player in an online game is wearing Axe Body Spray, measure the height of hair to ensure it's not gelled into douche-spikes, detect the keypoints of facial muscles to ensure that a douche-pout is not being made, and sense whether any music is being played in the background. If all of these criteria are met, a jet of pepper spray would be emitted directly into the player's eyes and the disc tray would melt shut.


Dead Space

I know I'm about 2-3 years late on playing this game, but it took that long to convince myself to take up this survival horror.
The famed "Planet Cracker" USG Ishimura has been incommunicado after sending out a distress signal. That's where Isaac Clarke enters the picture, having an interest in not beginning repairs, but also in saving his girlfriend Nicole from the large and seemingly dead ship. However, things aren't as dead as they appear to be.
The good: Firstly, the scare factor. This being my first horror game, it scared the pants off of me a lot of times. It wasn't only the necromorphs pretending to be dead or babies jumping off ceilings to stab you in the neck. The game got into my head and played on my fears through little atmospheric sounds: a crew member you meet banging his head against a metal pipe, or the constant, small whispers of "Isaac" that can be heard throughout the ship. The use of ammo also left me feeling truly alone, as killing enemies has to be done precisely and effectively. No bullet spraying here!
Secondly, the graphics. Despite the age of the game, the graphics don't seem to be dated at all, and move quite fluidly.
Thirdly, the story. I knew from the beginning that things weren't what I expected them to be, but holy plot twists. What you thought was the cause of all your problems ends up being what was preventing everything to begin with.
Fourthly, the slight RPG-style system. One can buy power nodes to modify one's suit, weapons and modules to take out enemies a lot faster.
The not-so-bad: the controls. I was never a big fan of 3rd person shooters, as it places the camera too close to the back of the person's head and leaves less than the full screen for shooting at targets.
The vast array of weapons. There's really no reason to buy anything else besides the plasma cutter, as a meager inventory only allows for an insufficient amount of ammo to be carried for each weapon, not to mention air tanks and med packs. If you play your cards right, selling most of the ammo you find will generate enough money to keep your suit and cutter well modified.
The characters. I felt like Hammond's and Daniels' bitch, running around doing everything they asked me to do. At least with Bioshock, there was a plot point to doing it, but with this, it just felt like the NPCs had nothing else better to do than sit in their little confined safe room, ordering me around the ship.
All in all, a great game that I could play over and over again.


Will OnLive kill consoles?

The console wars might be over a lot sooner than we think. OnLive is a gaming service, going live on June 17, that allows for a PC or Mac user or anyone with just a regular television to play just about any game through the use of a broadband connection. All that is required is a month-to-month fee of $14.95 and the purchase/rental price of each game. The OnLive system would allow for cross-platform playing with your friends, regardless if they're PC or Mac users. If you wish to play on your television, one would have to purchase the MicroConsole TV Adapter and some cables. One doesn't even need a really great high-end laptop with an expensive graphics card to play even the most heavy graphic game. Still not sure OnLive would work? The website states that "As part of the registration process for OnLive, you will be sent a performance test to run to see if your computer and network configuration are sufficient to run OnLive".
This is probably one of the greatest ideas I've ever heard of other than Steam. It gets rid of the need to have specific hardware to play certain games. There would no longer be any console-specific games and the idea of trading in to stores like GameStop would become a memory (and the money would stay in the hands of people who worked so damn hard for it).
It's probably not something I would sign up for, as I prefer having a hard copy of the game gracing my shelves in my collection, but it's certainly a step forward in the right direction of using the great technology that's already developed and getting gamers closer together without the need of buying an entirely different console.


Dante's Inferno Demo

When I had first heard that a game was being made graced with the name of the epic poem written by Alighieri, I thought game production companies had finally run out of original ideas. It was when I heard about the marketing ploys they pulled at cons that I thought that the companies' leaders had completely lost their mind. Now, all I feel is a little bored with the whole thing.
The good: the high frame rate allows for smooth movement and a certain amount of "pretty" in an otherwise disgustingly gory game. 3D cinematics are well done visually and aurally, especially with the voice work. I could see blood and sweat in Dante's pores, which was a nice contrast to the soft feel of Beatrice (naked boob aside).
Another thing I liked is the option to condemn your enemies or send them up to heaven, but seemed less of a moral choice and more of "which button do I feel like pressing?"
The bad: most everything else. It's a button-smasher (my least favourite genre), so the learning curve remains at a constant: smash this button to swing your large scythe, or smash this button to kill everything with laser crosses.
The 2D cinematics looked like something that would be on MTV from the 80s or, as a good friend of mine put it, doodles from a metal-head teenager's book margins. It looked like it came from an artist that was just beginning in the field and really had no idea what he was doing.
Camera centring is extremely annoying and tedious to work around, especially when fighting Death. The inability to move the camera led to difficulty in depth-perception, and forced me to randomly flail around and button-smash to get the job done.
Neat idea, but poorly executed.