Saturday, January 23, 2010

Level Up: Freedom Force

Those of you who also listen to my Podcast versions might notice that there is a lot more writen here then what I say. It ends up that I like this game so much, I wrote an entire paragraph that goes over my time frame. So, enjoy an extended script this week!

Narrator: Once again, we join our hero, Leo Melanson, currently in the process of picking out the game for this weeks review. However, this week, he searches for the perfect game, one special enough to mark the anniversary of his birth. He looks around and finds that none of them quite do it. Then, he sees it, his shelf of PC games. Few, but mighty, he sees the perfect game to review. And so, he reaches up for it.

Leo: Almost… got it…

Narrator: and with one final stretch our reviewer holds in his hands this week’s game: FREEDOM FORCE!

Freedom Force is a super hero game probably unlike any you’ve played. It’s described as a “Real-Time Strategy RPG”, which means you’ll have a team of heroes adventuring around a map and attacking in “real-time”, but you also get strength, weaknesses, stats, and leveling like those you’ll find in RPGs. It’s a great mix because people who aren’t necessarily good at Real-time strategies, but good at RPGs (like I am) can be good at this game, and vice versa. (It also helps that you can actually pause and chose what you want to do). Each level has a certain amount of missions and objectives you have to complete before moving on, most of them being “defeat blank”. Completing your missions and making sure a maximum amount of bad guys are defeated with a minimum of casualties, makes you earn prestige to recruit new Super Heroes.

You interact with objects by clicking around. And when I say “objects” I mean EVERYTHING. You can talk with civilians, pick-up telephone poles to use as clubs and even destroy buildings. We can’t forget attacking the bad guys too. Attacking uses energy, which it refills over time. Usually, the more useful or stronger the attack, the more energy it’ll use. You can also chose to make the attack all around better by using more energy on it. Don’t forget, all attacks have a certain element behind it (going back to strengths and weaknesses) and some have certain effects. Learning how to use all of this to your advantage will make you an expert at this game.

The story is… Super Heroes. An alien race gives an energy X to human and… Super Heroes. That’s the best way I can explain it. Random villains start popping up at the same time super heroes do and our heroes do their best to stop them. They all have their own plans and ways to what they want to do, mostly take over the world (clip: M. Bison: Of course!). Really, if you’ve ever read a comic book or seen Super Heroes cartoons then you know what I’m talking about. They even go all out in the cut scenes and artwork to invite that comparison. Sure, there is this underlying plot with the alien race and someone quote pulling the strings unquote, but like everyone else, he just has his moment. So yeah, the story is Super Heroes. Admittedly its nothing too original, the heroes themselves seem like knock offs: MinuteMan is Captain America, El Diablo is the Human Torch, The Ant is Spider-man, etc… But the story is still really fun to play through if you like Super Heroes. And I lauve Super Heroes.

Now, one thing that is probably the most enjoyed from this game for most of the fans is this game’s ability to customize it. First off, you have the ability to make your own Super Heroes and bring them into the game. But it’s not just that: The game makers actually encourage Moding this game, so much so they released a program to let you do it! You want your own Super Hero design in the game? You can do it. You want to play your own story? You can make that happen too! Even if you don’t have the patience for it yourself, you can go online and look at the fan community and see what they have to offer. Encouraging a game to be this customizable defiantly earns some props in my books.

I just barely glazed over everything I love Freedom Force. I could keep going on about the story details, or the game play factors, or all of that stuff that makes this game just fun, but that would take hours since I love this game so much. This game was developed by Irrational Games, also known for making the well-received System Shock and BioShock games. It was published by Crave Entertainment and Electronic Arts (who once again managed to earn a mention in my reviews), but I believe the true credit does go to Irrational Games, especially since they later self-published the sequel; Freedom Force vs the Third Riech. But that’s a review for another day. To finish off, I would just like to say that I am honored to make Freedom Force the first game I give a full 10 out of 10 levels to.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Level Up: Dr.Mario & Yoshi

(Interestingly enough, I don't own either of these games. My roommate does however, so I borrowed them for this review.)

Let’s talk about a classic; Dr. Mario for the NES. I’m more then certain that everyone has heard of this game before, and if you haven’t *deep effect* SHAME! It’s been ported directly onto a few consoles, been put on a couple compilation games and has had a remake or two. Heck, Dr. Mario was even a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Melee. And here’s why you should know about this game if you don’t.

Dr. Mario is a puzzle game, but probably the best puzzle game of all time. You play as Mario who, for no reason other than Nintendo told him to, became a doctor. He’s developed pills called “Megavitamins” which are composed of two parts of three possible colors (red, blue or yellow). He throws these pills in a giant bottle with static viruses of the same color inside. All you have to do is match 4 of the same color sections in a straight line (either horizontally or vertically) by rotating the vitamins 90 degrees and moving them left and right. But don’t forget, you’re megavitamins fall downwards and if you they clog up the entrance point, you lose, so act carefully, but quickly.

The graphics and coloring in this game are amazing for the NES. Dr. Mario came out in 1990, which was pretty late in the NES’ life, meaning the graphics were pretty much reaching its full potential. In this game, you got a nice vibrant variety of colors and well detailed objects. This is especially good for puzzle games, since you’ll most likely be staring at similar objects for addicted hours on end. The music in this game is some of the most recognizable ones in the world of video games. There’s of course “Fever” (which is often mistakenly just called “Dr.Mario”), one of the most popular scores from the game, but I personally enjoy every song heard in it. Even the menu songs are great! It’s amazing to see and hear that they put this much quality into the game.

And… that’s all I really have to say about Dr.Mario. So, how about now I talk about another puzzle game staring a Mario character on the NES? If you don’t what I’m talking about, I’m talking about Yoshi, and this time, I won’t hold it against you.

Yoshi works in a similar “blocks dropping down” where if the objects reach the top, you lose styled puzzle game which became popular after tetris. However in this game, you don’t control the blocks falling, you controls the ones they land on. The playing field is composed of 4 columns, and you can switch two at a time. If you can make a block land on a matching one, it disappears. But what does Yoshi himself bring to this game? Eggs. They drop down as halfs, bottoms and tops. If a top lands with no bottom underneath, it disappears and nothing happens. But, if a bottom landed and a top lands above it, they will close together, taking away all blocks in between them. Unlike Dr.Mario, this game has two modes of play, one “endless” style, where the blocks just keep coming, and another mode where you start with blocks already and you just have to make them all go away.

This game has a few weaknesses that make it far from the puzzle greatness of Dr.Mario. First off, it’s too easy and too basic. Sure in puzzle game it’s expected that things will get repetitive, but this one feels like it was made for younger kids. The next problem is the graphics. This game looks as if they took the Super Mario World sprites and downgraded them for the NES, and just made things look weird. Far from the great looking wonder of Dr.Mario.

There you have it, two puzzle games based off of Mario characters; one a true classic and another somewhat average. Dr. Mario is a must play for probably anyone who’s played video games, while Yoshi is more just for the puzzle fanatic. By the way, if you do want to check either of them out, they’re currently available on the Wii Virtual Console. I give Dr.Mario a 9.5 and Yoshi a 6.5 out of 10 Level.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Level Up: B.O.B.

I hope you’re all having happy holidays. To celebrate the times, I’m going to review one of my favorite gift games, Bob. (Audio clip: Becker: Bob? BOB?) Yeah, you know, BOB! *Music changes* (Voice clip: Reggie: OH! BOB!) He may not be the most recognizable game character, but he defiantly deserves to be remembered. So, let’s talk about Bob for the Super Nintendo.

Now, the first thing I noticed when I played this game for the first time was the music, and I have to say, I love the music in this game. I think it has one of, if not THE, most underrated sound tracks on the SNES. The music sets the mood perfectly and just makes you want to kick butt. It’s just so bad. But sadly, as I’ve said, I don’t think enough people have had a chance to hear much of it. That’s why, instead of the usual one song playing in the back of my review, I’ve put together a medley of some of the scores heard in Bob. Oh, and just so you know the sounds in this game are wacky, but fitting, and rock just as much.

At this point you’re probably asking “Who is Bob?” Well, Bob is a teenager that lives in outer space. He isn’t human, but I don’t quite know what he is (he kind of looks like an insectoid robot to me). He also speaks the way the late 80’s and early 90’s depicted teenagers, much like Bill and Ted and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You know; lots of “radical” lingo. I wonder what Linkara’s 90’s kid would have to say about him. (Clip: 90’s Kid starts, but gets cut off) But of course, that’s not my character. Interestingly enough, his name is spelt B dot O dot B dot, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it stands for.

The story goes that Bob has a date, so he borrows his dad’s car. However, while on route, he ends up hitting an asteroid field and crashing on an inhibited meteor type thing. So now he needs to search the area, defend himself, find another car and get to his date on time. I’m serious, that’s the plot of the game: he needs a car to get to a date. That’s just so awesome that I couldn’t make it up!

The game play is similar to many Adventure shooting games, like Mega Man, Earthworm Jim and Metroid. Bob has a gun which he can load with different types of ammo, all awesome and useful for different scenarios. He also gets other gadgets called “remotes” in this game, which can do things like launch him upwards, make him invincible or destroy all enemies on screen (more or less the usual stuff). But most awesome of all, Bob can punch enemies with his fist, and if you could see it, you would crap yourself! His fist is about the size of his head! If I were facing Bob, I would be more scared of his hand then his gun. Mix all of this with excellent controls and you get a game that is F dot U dot N dot to play.

If I had to say I had one problem with Bob its that it doesn’t have a save feature. Like many games of that generation without the ability to save, it has a password feature. Sadly, in this game, the levels you continue from seem few and far between. Still, it wouldn’t be that bad, but some of the levels are so long and hard and when you lose all your lives 4 levels after your last continue point, it kind of deters you from playing again. Speaking of lives, I have an issue with that too. Every time you die, all your ammo and remotes get reset back to what you had at the start of the game. This means that, in harder levels where you’ll need a lot of bullets, you pretty much have to do it in one life. It definatly presents a challenge, but one that I’m sure many gamers will be willing to face in a game that’s this enjoyable.

Bob is awesome! Though he isn’t the most popular guy ever, everyone who’s played the game say they really like it. All the comments online about it go along the lines of “I remember playing Bob, he’s awesome!” It plays well, looks great, it’s really fun and we can’t forget about the music. If you want to play this game, it’s available for the SNES, the Sega Genesis and has been put on compilation called EA Replay for the PSP. Wait, did I say EA? That might explain why this game never saw a sequel... Well, I give Bob 9 out of 10 Levels.