In this month's entertainment section we have 3 new reviews. Doddsy1992 has an exclusive review of the enigma of a game that is Assassin's Creed. Adam? has written a review and explanation of the anime Death Note which may change your opinion of anime itself. And lastly, but at no point least, Scary Applesauce has written a review for the game Super Mario Strikers: Charged!
Assassin's Creed - By: Doddsy1992
For well over a year now the game Assassin's Creed has barely left the pages of Gaming magazines. This Game was set to be a true test of what the PS3's capabilities were up to. The hype surrounding this game was huge. The in game footage was incredible, every NPC looked individual, the scenery was beautiful and Altaïr looked so human, and emotional. You could see each individual expression and understood exactly what it meant. The only problem when I game receives so much hype is that it can really only disappoint. Which is, unfortunately, what seems to be happening to Assassin's Creed.
The first playable demo was sent out to certain magazines and companies and I was lucky enough to get a go at this game. I am not allowed to say too much about plot but from what I have seen I am worried. The first thing that came to mind was how complicated this game is. The controls were tricky, maybe even infuriating, at the start but once you got used to it was fine, most of the time! The mission I got was to assassinate Talal. He's a slave trader who is profiting from the Crusaders being in Jerusalem. The mission was incredibly fun and delivering the final blow was fantastic to see. After I had dealt the blow, then came the chase! The chase is the thing I was looking forward to the most!
The idea behind the chase is to initially get away. This can be hard in such a small town and it seemed to take forever to ‘lower the heat' as it is known. You have to get away from the Crusaders and guards so that the chase dissipates. The theory is that you can blend in to the crowd, escape via the rooftops or fight your way out of trouble. Blending into the crowd was hard as I seemed to always be in shot of a guard so I was never able to blend in. This may be down to the fact that this is just a demo. In the demo I was able to do a few side-missions which made some of the locals more likely to help me, this meant that they would 'accidentally' block pursuers or even point them in the wrong direction. This rarely worked in the demo, mainly because I had so little allies, as they went very effective. Hopefully in the full game there will be more ally missions and hopefully the allies will be more helpful. Another annoyance was that if I shoved a bystander out of the way during 'heat' it would instantly gain me a lot of attention, which isn't helpful during a perilous escape!
Combat? Combat was an incredibly odd experience. In most action games combat is based on aggressive moves, in Assassin's Creed combat is reliant on defensive, counter-attacks. This is an odd experience but once you get the hang of it seems the obvious way combat should be. The reason it is based around counter-attacks is due to the extreme realism in the combat. Assassin's Creed has no Health Points system or Life Points, instead it is based on the location of the blow and which weapon. For Example, using my sword I swung at a guard. The blow hit his side and he collapsed but he wasn't dead, until I swung at his head. Against another guard I lunged towards him and it entered his chest. He collapsed immediately, dead! You cannot punch someone to death, but instead it can temporarily stun them. The developers have really gone for realism over excitement, but due to the impending, and what seems inevitable death, the battles our incredibly thrilling. Anyway, this system is fun to use but it's not always the most effective. When I was swarmed by a group of guards, waiting for them all to attack was tense and it was easy to slip up. It also failed when I was lunged at, made an attempted to defence and was them stabbed in the back. Lovely!
When I finally made it to the rooftops I was astounded. The rooftops created a beautiful view of the city and finally a handy way to escape. Once on the roof I was free to find a handy way to escape and somewhere to hide. The rooftops are complicated to navigate as the controls aren't as simple as I assumed they would. It was great once I had the controls. I enjoyed running around, cat-leaping from house to house and pushing rangers off wall edges, which might I add is brilliant fun. The best thing I saw in the game was I find some doves resting on the edge of Gargoyle-like structure. I ran over in an attempt to shoo them away, upon reaching the edge you are launched into a huge swan dive. Gameplay goes into a semi-cinematic as you fly with the doves for a few seconds before plummeting into a haystack. That was what this game as about. Amazing visuals mixed great gameplay. To see it at last what I have wanted to see all demo was a relief but it's not the best of news.
My last query was with the end of the demo as I gallivanted off into the wild lands. As I got further from the mission area the frame rate dropped and the camera went a bit shaky and you could see a small gap in each frame. I hope this was purely a fault within the demo's script and that in the final game this is fixed, otherwise this game will plummet into the Bargain Bin.
All in all I foresee Assassin's Creed as a huge success. Even with its faults it's still an amazing game. All gamers are sitting with their fingers crossed that all the problems will be tweaked before the release on 9th November, 2007.
[ Back to top ]
Anime Review: Death Note: First Arc - By: Adam?
Please note: Before I came to this anime, my opinion on anime was that it was: stupid, all fighting crap, and for little kids. This anime is so different than anything I have ever seen before, and has actually converted many people to anime. Don't be hatin'.
Most of you know that I consider "Death Note", the dark, psychological thriller, to be my favorite anime. It's a show that will make you think. It's a show about what's good and evil and if anyone can truly distinguish between the two. It's a detective game that feels almost like the Mafia Game. It's a show displaying what power can do to people. It is completely story and character driven, as there are no fight scenes and sparse comedy relief. It's a show where you can decide for yourself who the protagonist is.
Basic rules of the Death Note:
-The human whose name is written in the Death Note, and whose face is known to the writer, shall die.
-If the type of death is not specified, the person will simply die of a heart attack in 40 seconds.
The art in this series is not particularly inspiring, but it looks pretty high-budget. Every flows well and looks very nice.
The music is a great aspect of this anime. Any show that has all of its opening and endings in rock sounds good to me, and season two even busts out some metal. The ops and eds are not the only good music. There is a lot of chanting in Death Note, and whenever something big is happening, you can sometimes hear a heavy guitar coming in. It adds a lot to the anime.
It is based around Yagami Light, a high-achieving high school student who notes the world he lives in and deems it to be rotting. On the same day he makes the observation, he comes across a black notebook labeled "Death Note" on the ground. Curious, he picks it up and read the so called "rules" to it. The notebook claims that any persons' name written in it, whose face is known to the writer, shall die. Disgusted, he puts it down, but intrigued, he takes it home. Upon taking it home, he tests it and realizes its terrible power. At first, he is shocked by what he had done, but then realizes he could use the power to rid the world of evil, immoral people. After filling up a few pages of the Death Note, he is visited by a "shinigami" (Ryuuk), a Death God who tells him that the notebook is Light's now. Light declares he shall rid the world of all evil and will rule over as god. This all happens in episode one.
Note: Only people who have touched the Death Note can see the shinigami who owns it.
Episode two introduces the series antagonist/protagonist, depending on your view, L. The police are beginning to suspect that someone is behind the recent rise in death by cardiac arrest of inmates. L shows interest in this case, and decides to pursue it. He has never shown his face before, and when he speaks, a screen with a large "L" pops up and a computer voice speaks. L manages to trick Light in the second episode to revealing his location, that some people cannot be killed with the Death Note, and that Light will kill those in his way. If you want to find out how, watch the series dammit!
Note: Kira is the name the people of Japan have given Light.
Note: In the third episode Ryuuk asks Light if he wishes to do an eye deal, meaning, trade half of his remaining lifespan to have eyes that will show the person's name and lifespan he is looking at.
Themes: What is good and what is evil? The power of corruption.
One of the great things about this arc was that there wasn't a true protagonist/antagonist. Light is the main character of the series, and what he is doing is truly what he deems justice, but he is also killing people. L is the enemy of the main character, but is exceedingly like able and is just trying to catch a mass-murderer. This clash brings about the question "what is good and evil and can one person truly distinguish between the two?" This is the theme of the series, but not the main attraction. The most exciting part of this series are the "mental battles" that Light and L have throughout. They are constantly reading, predicting, and interpreting each other's movements. In one memorable scene, L and Light are having a tennis match, and when the ball is batted into their side, they are trying to read each other just from a simple game of tennis. Light thinks "does trying to win make me more like Kira? But, would losing on purpose make me seem suspicious?" Or, L's constant deductions of how likely Light is to be Kira. "Chance of being Kira, 6%."
The other thing that makes this first arc so amazing is L himself. The way he crouches instead of sits because sitting "lowers his reasoning ability by 70%", to how he is constantly eating sugary food, but claims he uses his brain so much that he is underweight. L is the most likeable character in this series, which makes it difficult to imagine him as an antagonist. L comes up to Light and plain out says "I'm L" causing Light to flip out.
Not too long after Light has started judging criminals, a second Kira appears, and she makes contact with Light. She is also being followed by a shinigami, and tells Light that she can be of use to him, as she made the eye deal. Light likes the idea, but Misa, the second kira, says that they need to start dating and that Light cannot take anyone else. If Light talks to another girl, Misa will kill her. Light says that he does not agree to this, and that he will kill Misa if she does this. The shinigami who follows Misa interjects and says that he will kill Light if any harm comes to Misa.
Light's master plan:
Very quickly, L suspects Light of being Kira, add that to Misa being arrested, and you can see how Light feels cornered. He pulls out his "master plan" which involves him losing his memories, the second shinigami giving Misa's Death Note to a person in a power full position, and using "fake" death note rules to prove his innocence. After Light loses his memory, he then helps L catch the new Kira who has come out, and one of the greatest ironies is revealed after Light regains his memories. "I knew I would help L out with catching Kira. That's just the kind of person I am." If Light had not been the one to receive the Death Note, he would have viewed Kira as evil. This shows another theme to this anime: the power of corruption and Light's spiral into darkness.
Light's plan came about perfectly, with his memories back and now fake rules in the Death Note that will prove his innocence. L still believes Light to be Kira, but accepts that he has lost. He continues the investigation for a brief period of time, but the second shinigami, acting as if it were the only way to save Misa, kills L. The last thing L sees is Light standing above him, with an evil grin on his face, finally showing us who was the true antagonist from the start: Light.
All in all, this was the anime I have enjoyed the most. Great thriller, great story, great characters, and great openings and endings.
Pros: Fast paced, very interesting, memorable characters, good storyline, underlying themes, nice animation, and a good soundtrack.
Cons: Can seem repetitive at times, but then a curve ball is thrown at you.
Unless you live in Japan or are willing to pay for download able English dubs, chances are you are restricted to viewing over the internet via free subbed episodes. There are many video uploading sites that may have episodes, but finding a good channel is always the best thing to do. Remember: NEVER READ COMMENTS. THEY ALWAYS CONTAIN SPOILERS.
This links to a Veoh channel that has all of the episodes. Scroll down from the menu to the right for the first episode. All of the videos are 18+, but this anime really deserves a rating of 13+. If it asks if you are 18, just say yes.
This is a link to the high-quality alternative. You need to download a plugin to view, and if you don't have a fast internet connection and a good computer, loading takes awhile. Amazing quality.
[ Back to top ]
Review: Super Mario Strikers: Charged! - By: Scary Applesauce
Super Mario Strikers: Charged is a soccer game featuring Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and all of the other popular Nintendo characters. I honestly didn't expect much from the first game because personally, I don't like soccer that much. But the first Mario Strikers was a fun game and the second one was equally good-if not better.
Characters: Super Mario Strikers: Charged, features all the character you would expect from a game that has Super Mario in the title. But, this time Nintendo has added more customizable teams. In the original, you chose your team captain, and one type of sidekick and that was it. But in Charged, you choose from captains with different strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, you can configure your sidekicks however you want, each of them also having their own special skills.
Gameplay: Prepare to re-learn everything you thought you knew about soccer. Charged is a completely different experience from any soccer game you have ever played. You are constantly smashed by hammers, blocked by walls of thorns, electrified, and given a host of other injuries. Although the gameplay lacks in realism, it is fun.
Fields: The original Mario Strikers had a few fields, each varying in scenery but they were all the same experience to play on. In Charged each field is unique. Some fields may be covered in mud, so you are constantly sliding around, others may have lightning strikes that fry you players, and one even takes away 1-2 players from your team!
Multiplayer: Nintendo has done well here. Not only can you play against your family and friends, you can also play random battles online. You are randomly matched up via the internet to a player somewhere else in the world. There is even a leaderboard ranking all of the registered Miis (Which you use to represent yourself online)
Singleplayer: There isn't much more to singleplayer than there was in the last game. You can either do a quick series against a CP, or compete in different cups to win trophies and awards. I don't think there are any unlocks (I haven't played it that much) but if there's not, there needs to be. Singleplayer is probably the worst aspect of the game-mainly because nothing has been changed. It wasn't very good in the original and it's not the best here.
Summary: Overall, this is a great game. I think the online play could be a lot better, but this is Nintendo's first try at something like this and I won't blame them too much for that. Single player isn't very exciting but playing online makes up for that. It's an all around great game and you could easily play for 4 hours straight.
[ Back to top ]