Recent Sony PS2 Posts

July 3, 2008

Last Chance to win PS2, PS3 from Blogcritics

Hey everyone out there in Internet Land listen up! Blogcritics is giving away a PS2 and a PS3. All you have to do is enter the drawing. This wonderful opportunity will cease to be wonderful come July 5, so hop to it!

March 11, 2008

Shadow of the Colossus' controls are an exercise in art

Thanks to Jason for sending this link in. Geared squarely at Matt of course, who is not a Shadow of the Colossus fan at all.

We laud innovative game designers for forcing us to make morally ambiguous choices about ourselves and the characters around us. Unfortunately for us in the post-post-pre-metamodern crowd, games as a medium fall short in one crucial, yet easily overlooked, way: They only go half of the distance. 

Good read, be sure and check it out. 

January 29, 2007

HDAdvance & USBeXtreme

My friend was telling me about this. It is software that will load PS2 games from the PS2 HDD or a connected USB HDD. No mod chip required, it says.

November 14, 2006

Guitar Hero II Arrives


RedOctane sent us a nice preview build with 24 songs a month before the launch, but our retail copy got lost in the mail, apparently USPS.

An overnight UPS shipment made it to my apartment this morning though!

What was the first thing I did? Unlocked Trogdor of course! Let me tell you, this is one hard some to play!

Now, did you go out and buy Guitar Hero II yet? I would have, but... you know... they gave it to me.

Well, actually Aaron gets it, he has been pining to review this thing.

May 18, 2006

PS2 Review: Rebel Raiders - Operation Nighthawk

Rebel Raiders doesn't try to be anything more than what it is: a budget title. This small $20 flight game makes up its own physics, gameplay mechanics, and cheap story to provide quick, tight arcade action. Unfortunately, its budget gets in the way of forcing out the repetitiveness, unavoidable bland graphics, and total lack of multi-player.

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May 14, 2006

PS2 Review: Ace Combat Zero - The Belkan War

For the fans of the Ace Combat series, it's best that the game doesn't change radically from one edition to the next. Any actual game play tweaks are buried inside changes made elsewhere in the game, and it's hard to find fault in this approach. It's been successful for years, and that's a streak that The Belkan War continues.

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April 8, 2006

PS2 Review: Onimusha - Dawn of Dreams

If Mega Man were to die tomorrow, Capcom would figure out a way to revive him. If the Street Fighters all succumbed to some obscure international plague, Capcom would find a way to make sure the tournament continued. And if Capcom decided to end a series themselves, we're guaranteed a sequel. That's what happened with Onimusha, and Dawn of Dreams proves why the promised ending after Onimusha 3 was the right way to go.

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March 22, 2006

PS2 Review: Psychonauts

Most of America is psychotic for not buying this most majestic of platformers.

Psychonauts, the latest adventure from the bizarre brain of Tim Schafer (Monkey Island series, Grim Fandango), is the story of a young boy with phenomenal psychic powers. Unlike many platformer games, the story is quite integral and very entertaining.

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March 18, 2006

PS2 Review: 24 - The Game

24: The Game has everything. Generally, that's a compliment, at least outside the realm of video games. Inside, it usually means that with production spread thin, it fails to do any segment of the game properly, and that's exactly what happened here. There's a strong story core here, and that's the only aspect that's worth playing this one for.

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March 8, 2006

Accessory Review: PS2 ShadowBlade Arcade Stick

The ShadowBlade is one of those arcade sticks that does such a fine job of presenting itself, you almost want to overlook the fact that it barely works. Fans of charge-based characters will do fine; anyone looking to try and spurt out some fireball motions or dragon punches will be sorely disappointed. The ample frame of the ShadowBlade is nothing but a cover.

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March 3, 2006

PS2 Review: NBA Jam

People can discuss the merits and difficulties with sequels, but the real challenge is with a remake or update. The further the gap grows between hardware generations, the tougher it is to keep the core mechanics of the original while adding in expected features of the day. Without a new NBA Jam title since the N64 (and those were hardly NBA Jam titles as we expect them), this revision has quite a bit to live up to.

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February 27, 2006

PS2 Review: Marc Ecko's Getting Up

The great games are rarely the unexpected ones anymore. In an industry of hype, commercialism, and sequels, no one would expect a game slapped with Marc Ecko's name on it to be a success. In fact, no one did, including the mainstream gaming media, the mayor of New York (who wanted it banned), or the gamers themselves. Welcome to Getting Up, a game that has a single purpose: to slap everyone one of its detractor's in the face.

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February 26, 2006

PS2 Review: Outlaw Tennis

Even if the gameplay in one of the Outlaw titles doesn't hold up, the sheer variety and innovative nature of its gameplay modes will hold it all together. That's the only reason to deal with aggravations of Outlaw Tennis, a weakly strung together sports title with superb multi-player. That's the only aspect worth recommending.

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February 20, 2006

PS2 Review: MVP 06 NCAA Baseball

Not one to let any game engine go unused, leave it to EA Sports to give NCAA Baseball a go after losing the third-party Major League Baseball license to 2K Games. Given the relative obscurity of the game when compared to college basketball and football, it's nice to see a niche audience serviced. It's a double bonus that the game is a near classic even though it's been given a new dressing.

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February 15, 2006

PS2/Xbox Accessory Review: Street Fighter Anniversary Control Pad

For those not inclined to purchase an arcade stick nearing the triple digit dollar amount, there's a line of controllers that should suit them nicely. Back in the 16-bit era, Capcom offered up a 6-button controller for the 3DO, Genesis, and SNES. Up until this point, that would remain the most accurate d-pad ever produced. The Street Fighter Anniversary controllers come awfully close to matching them, somewhat gaudy design or not.

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February 10, 2006

Xbox/PS2 Accessory Review: NubyTech's Street Fighter Anniversary Arcade Stick

What better way to celebrate a 15th anniversary of a fighting game than with a limited edition arcade stick? Of the ludicrous amounts of commercially available arcade sticks, NubyTech's Street Fighter Anniversary Joystick is unmatched. It's a fine piece to show off, and even more spectacular to use.

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February 6, 2006

PS2 Review: .hack//MUTATION

.hack//Mutation is the second game in the of .hack saga, a direct continuation of the events portrayed in .hack//INFECTION and a building block for the future segments. Also included with the game is the second disc of .hack//Liminality, a short anime OVA that parallels the game events of Mutation by depicting a separate real-life saga in the same timeframe.

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January 22, 2006

PS2 Review: Gauntlet - Seven Sorrows

Going into any game titled Gauntlet, you should know what to expect. Assuming you've played any of the five entries prior to Seven Shadows, you'll be ready for a repetitive hack n' slash created solely for its multi-player aspects. Unsurprisingly, that's exactly what this update provides.

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January 3, 2006

PS2 Review: Metal Slug 4/5

Guns. Grenades. Armored vehicles. You. And enemies. Lots of enemies. Sounds fun if you're the sort that enjoys blowing crap up. In fact, you would think that any old-school Contra fan would be in guns-blazing bliss. Unfortunately, Metal Slug 4/5 does not live up to its promise.

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December 19, 2005

PS2 Review: Smackdown! vs. Raw 2006

Adding more floors to a decrepit building doesn't fix the floors below, so why hasn't THQ/Yuke's learned that more isn't always better?

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December 12, 2005

PS2 Review: Kill.Switch

While it probably would have worked as a straight action game, Kill.Switch is a unique title in that everything is based around taking cover. It grows old after a while, and years of run and gun video game conditioning can make it tempting, but it's handled intuitively. There's also an interesting backstory that unfolds that makes each stage worth playing through.

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November 28, 2005

PS2 Review: Resident Evil 4

Already an almost guaranteed lock for game of the year, Resident Evil 4 has found its way onto the Playstation 2. Aside from a small graphical drop, this is the same game it was on the Gamecube, now with extra features. With that little boost, it's not hard to consider this a video game that truly earns the praise of "perfection."

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PS2 Review: Shadow of the Colossus

Presenting a feeling of isolation like no game before it, Shadow of the Colossus is a strange, odd, and artful piece of game design. Sadly, the art seems to take over the game portion. What it does to keep itself engaging is offer spectacle and a unique experience, even if it's a frustrating one.

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November 13, 2005

The Warriors PS2 Review

Just by picking up the controller and playing The Warriors, you can tell this is a Rockstar developed title. The feel is there, along with the gritty, unflinching, and brutal style that has become their trademark. It's a beat-em-up based on a cult 1979 film, and in Rockstar's hands, they can turn and entirely new set of people onto the movie.

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November 7, 2005

SSX On Tour PS2 Review

SSX saved the Playstation 2 at launch. Littered with forgettable software, the first EA Big title made the console worth owning, and later, so did SSX Tricky/SSX 3. With SSX On Tour, the series has become lost. It's a mixture of various concepts stolen from other EA games. Its still plays fine, but it's lost what made SSX "SSX" in the first place.

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November 2, 2005

Urban Reign PS2 Review

It's taken a countless number of years for a developer to fully understand what it is about beat-em-ups that make them so addictive. That's what happened to Urban Reign, a brutal, unrelenting, and nearly classic take on the genre. It works when the basic combat engine is in full, and fails when you look at what's surrounding it.

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October 27, 2005

We Love Katamari PS2 Review

Defeating any and all odds in the US market, Katamari Damacy raised itself above the usual expectations for such a quirky title. It gained far more fanfare than most games of its type with little or nothing from the marketing department. It did so based on an absurd concept that had to sound even worse in a design meeting.

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October 17, 2005

Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness - Playstation 2 review

Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness is like a striptease act in which the stripper starts off attractive and interesting but grows steadily revolting and boring as the clothing is shed and the same dance moves are used over and over.

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Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice - Playstation 2 Review

Three kingdoms awash in turmoil. One mysterious mercenary bent on carving out a fourth kingdom. Beautiful maidens in need of rescue. Enter Wein Cruz, hero-in-the-making. Shake, stir and relax to the classic elements of a strategy RPG.

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October 10, 2005

Capcom Classics Collection PS2 Review

With an amazing backlog of games, arguably one of the largest in terms of high quality, its no surprise that Capcom's compilation, Capcom Classics Collection, is one of the best to date. This is a set of the company's best (and a few of their lesser titles just for historical sake), almost all memorable and instantly recognizable. The variety is amazing, and for $20, this is a steal.

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September 21, 2005

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne Playstation 2 Review

In most RPGs, you must gather a dewy-eyed group of heroes to save the world from impending doom, an evil corporation, nasty demons, or the wicked witch of the west. In Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, the world blows up after twenty minutes of gameplay, and you promptly get turned into a demon.

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September 3, 2005

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown PS2 Review

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown features Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on its cover. It's obviously a shot from the action film sequel, and it gives fans of the movie false hope. There is nothing here that has anything to do with the movies, including the actors.

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August 31, 2005

.hack//INFECTION PS2 review

Remember the good old days when hackers simply wanted fame or fortune? Or even hacked simply for kicks? Unfortunately viruses and hacking have taken a turn for the worse – much worse – in the .hack saga.

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August 29, 2005

Metal Slug 4 & 5 Playstation 2 Review

The Neo Geo hardware may be gone, but Metal Slug will be with us a long time. Ending the series on the long standing hardware, Metal Slug 4 and 5 are both great ways to go out, though 4 does feel a little forced in spots. These Playstation 2 ports are as accurate as they can be, retaining the feel this series became famous for.

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August 27, 2005

Samurai Western Playstation 2 Review

Following the rather disappointing Way of the Samurai 2, Samurai Western enters the series with a new developer and publisher. Out of Capcom's hands, the series has turned into nothing but a hack and slash title, fun in short bursts. Its lasting value depends on your patience for the genre and how much repetitiveness you can handle.

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August 20, 2005

King of Fighters Maximum Impact PS2 Review

Celebrating 10 years of brutal battles against rival Capcom's fighters, King of Fighters has been tossed into 3-D. Street Fighters move was less than stellar even after three attempts, but KOF works surprisingly well. This is a deep, complex fighter for die-hards, yet on the surface, it's easy to understand and grasping the perfect combo system isn't as intimidating as it usually is.

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August 16, 2005

Flatout PS2 Review

Flatout suffers from something called "Super Monkey Ball Syndrome." What is this new disease? The unlockable mini-games are far more entertaining than the main game itself. If Flatout didn't offer its side games, then it would have little redeeming value.

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August 11, 2005

Silpheed PS2 Review

Silpheed is probably familiar to most gamers on the Sega CD. The intense faux polygon backdrops, simply shocking at the time, covered up some rather generic gameplay. While still a nice shooter, it hardly did anything to change or move the genre ahead. This latest edition on the PS2 does pretty much the same thing, this time with impressive results.

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June 30, 2005

Katamari Damacy PS2 review

It's so rare for a game to just sneak out anymore. The internet made sure that was all but impossible. That's part of the reason Katamari Damacy is such a joy. It may not be perfect, but it's so simple, enjoyable, and strange, you can't help yourself. It's title you would never expect to see here in the US, let alone be succesful.

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June 21, 2005

Shining Tears PS2 Review

Call it what you want, but Shining Tears is gorgeous. It's a flawless example of how beautiful 2-D graphics can be on such powerful hardware, and it doesn't look outdated in the least. While it may look like something fans of the series would find enjoyable, the gameplay is a complete turn around, and that takes the game in a direction that may not be what you're looking for.

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June 17, 2005

Capcom Fighting Evolution PS2 review

False advertising laws prevent companies from stating something that is a blatant lie while trying to sell you something. It's an excellent law, one that needs to be in place. Somehow, Capcom has managed to find a way around this. Capcom Fighting Evolution is the furthest thing from an evolution you'll ever see in the video game world. It's actually a product that de-evolves all the right moves they made with Capcom vs. SNK 2.

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April 16, 2005

Sega Classics Collection Playstation 2 Review

The idea of remaking a game is nothing new. Taking the same basic gameplay and just updating the graphics engine with a major facelift is. That's what Sega did over in Japan with the "Sega Ages" series. Each one of the 10 games included in this compilation was released individually overseas. We're lucky enough to have it all in one pack for a measly $20. Not all of them are worthwhile, but a few are actually better than their original counterparts.

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April 8, 2005

Free Cold Winter PS2 Demo disc

Get them now while they still have some!

April 1, 2005

God of War PS2 Review

There has never been a video game character like Kratos. Sure, there have been numerous anti-heroes over the years, but none have come anywhere near the frightening brutality of this "God of War" hero. He slaughters innocent people for his own benefit, has sex with two women in the midst of a war, and provides more decapitations than any "Mortal Kombat" game. This is the backdrop that develops one of the few "real" characters in a game, and it does so better than most major films.

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December 3, 2004

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 PS2 Review

Hitting the early 90's, arcades found resurgence after a huge slump, almost entirely due to Capcom's classic "Street Fighter II." Midway dove in right next to them, popping out hits like the "Mortal Kombat" series and "Total Carnage." This PS2 compilation, "Midway Arcade Treasures 2," is an almost perfect visit back to those glorious cabinets, but that does not mean these are great games.

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December 1, 2004

Metal Gear Solid 3 PS2 Review

There will be a time when movies finally collide with video games, creating an invisible line between the two, clashing for survival. That fight has just started. "Metal Gear Solid 3" will likely go down in history as one of the most exhilarating, well produced, intelligent, and flat out fun video games this industry will ever see. Director Hideo Kojima is nothing short of a genius.

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November 21, 2004

Killzone PS2 Review

There's an easy way to analyze a game like this. Simply put, this is the right game on the wrong system. "Killzone" tries so hard to be an epic game experience, but the hardware limitations drag it right back down. It's certainly not a complete failure, but a title that could have been so much more.

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November 4, 2004

Dynasty Warriors 2 Playstation 2 Review

The original "Dynasty Warriors" was a good but lacking one-on-one fighter for the PS One. The sequel approaches itself from an entirely different perspective and takes the "Final Fight" genre to new heights, and a few new lows. It's a solid entry, especially considering some of the other games when this system launched.

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Contra Shattered Soldier Playstation 2 Review

For close to 20 years now, Contra has been a part of our gaming lives. >From it's humble roots on the classic NES, to the pitiful attempts at reviving the beloved franchise on the PlayStation and Saturn, Contra has always been there for us. Now (for the lack of a more creative tag line), Contra is BACK and it's better than it's ever been on the PlayStation 2. While not a perfect revival, most fans will find enough to like about this version that they'll fully accept it as part of the Contra legacy.

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BMX XXX Playstation 2 Review

Can a game get anymore controversial than this? Multiple companies have refused to carry the game, some say the "M" rating isn't enough, and others think it's exactly what the industry needed. Very few games have ever succeeded when so much attention has been given to the, uh, other "aspects" of the game. BMX XXX performs admirably considering the pressure, but hardly breaks any major ground as far as the genre is concerned.

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War of the Monsters Playstation 2 Review

There's just something special about giant monsters from 1950's. Maybe they're quirky, maybe they're cheesy, but maybe it's just that they provide a load of entertainment value, something missing from so many of the more recent entries in the genre. "War of the Monsters" developer Incog Inc. obviously has fond memories of the various films of the era and took it all to heart for a nice title on the Playstation 2. It's a real shame it misfires a lot.

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October 10, 2004

Street Fighter Anniversary Collection PS2 Review

Nothing beats a company celebrating the games that made them famous. How they celebrate makes all the difference. In this case, Capcom should really know better. Die-hard fans really get shut out here, though the more mainstream crowd should be happy.

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July 6, 2004

Mega Man Anniversary Collection Playstation 2 Review

Created in 1987 by Keiji Inafune, Mega Man has truly become one of video gaming's true icons. His image has spawned a cartoon series, action figures, and of course a series of video games that have lasted for 15 years. To celebrate this occasion, Capcom has produced the "Mega Man Anniversary Collection." Holding the 8 games from the original series and 2 bonus games, this is a must own disc for any classic gaming fan and anyone who may not have had the chance to experience these titles before. The entire idea of Mega Man was completely unique upon its launch on the NES. Taking the blue hero into action to combat 6 bosses, players gained their powers once they were defeated. Using one of the other bosses weapons that you earned also easily defeated certain bosses if used correctly. Playing the stages in the correct order was always the key to conquering the games quickly. Once everyone was defeated, players needed to conquer Dr. Wily by playing through his stronghold. Mega Man 2 is widely considered the highlight of the series. Bumping the number of bosses up to eight (where it would stay for the rest of the series), players continued their quest to eradicate Dr. Wily and end his reign of terror. The stage design here is the textbook that every game after it would follow and the challenge for a newcomer is set perfectly. The rest of the series was solid, though many the games hardly differ from each other. Mega Man 3 introduced the slide maneuver; MM4 has the distinction of being the first with the mega-buster, while MM5 and MM6 just coasted along (the sixth sequel was released on the NES by Nintendo themselves as Capcom thought the console was no longer profitable). Mega Man 7 was the only 16-bit entry to get a stateside release and it upgrades everything wonderfully. Some of the robots are a stretch (Spring Man?) but the solid gameplay and challenge the series is known for is still intact. Mega Man 8 was released for both the Saturn and Playstation and was the final game of the series (so far). The version included here is the Playstation rendition (the Saturn had a few extras that were not included on the PS One). Again, this is a solid entry that takes advantage of the hardware but does little separate itself from the rest of the series. The 2 extra games are "The Power Battles" and "The Power Fighters." These are unique arcade titles never before available in the US. Taking a cue from Capcom's hugely popular Street Fighter series, the game drops Mega Man, Bass, and Proto Man into 1-on-1 conflicts with just the bosses. These are a fun ride, but they are probably the weakest games on the disc. The most important aspect of any emulated game disc is how close these games play to the originals. In this case, almost flawlessly. There are a few odd glitches, but these are usually minor graphic hiccups and nothing that will not hinder gameplay. The controls are occasionally spotty (probably due to the pressure sensitive buttons), but a small adjustment period and you'll be on your way. All the little tricks are still intact as well. You can still make the chickens appear in Mega Man 2 and the select trick still does extra damage in Mega Man 1. A save system now replaces the passwords of old, but you can still use the passwords if you want to. All the old ones you remember will still work as well. Adding to the value of the game is the navi mode. This requires players to beat all the games in order. Once you have started the first game in this mode, you cannot play any of the other games in the series until it is beaten. As a bonus, you will have help to guide you through the stages (though the text clues are very poorly translated). Also while playing in this mode, die-hard fans will be pleased to hear re-mixed music for almost every game. Oddly, the first two games have the new music, but only certain stages. Beating specific bosses in the games will reveal loads of extras from a full episode of the original cartoon series (which is also available on DVD), new music, picture sets, and of course the two extra arcade games mention above. For those interested, the Gamecube version contains an interview with the series creator that is not on the PS2 version but not the cartoon. The Gamecube did not get the remixed music either. There has been no graphical upgrade to any of the games to preserve them properly (the navi mode does upgrade the menus and life bars, but that's it). The 8-bit games will look archaic to those who are used to millions of polygons, but the games still have their charm and for the hardware they ran on, they look spectacular in most cases. The 16 and 32-bit entries of course feature an upgrade in this department, re-drawing the title hero both times. The superb animation and luscious backgrounds are a sight to behold still today. This is a series that has long been known for it's spectacular music and this disc proves why. Though you'll always hear it debated, I've always felt that Mega Man 4 produced the best tunes (check out Dive Man and Skull Man's stages). The remixed music brings these games up to new levels (these are the same remixes from a Japanese collection of these games). It is a shame you just can't pop in the game and play with the music since you have to be in navi mode to hear them, but rest assured the challenge of playing the games in order is well worth it. This is a collection of games that every true gamer should own. These are not only some of the most famous games in the industry, but some of the best as well. Even if you own the original carts and either of the CD versions, the meager $29.99 retail on this set is worth it. This is a game that should require an immediate purchase. Note: The Gamecube version has been getting panned due to reversing the A and B buttons. If you have played this series for years with the original controller set, adjusting may very well be impossible. There is no controller config. If you have never played the games previously, you won't even notice the change.

May 31, 2004

Disaster Report PS2 Review

Survival horror has proved to be a major innovation for game makers. It's an ingenious mix that has worked so well for companies like Capcom that a countless copycat games have slammed the market. But, what happens when you remove the "horror" from a game like this and just make it about survival? Welcome to the wholly original Disaster Report on the PS2. The game puts players in control of Keith Helm, an inspiring news reporter heading to Stiver Island for work on their newspaper. Stiver Island is unique in that it was entirely man-made. Even the ground that you walk on was supplied by the government. While Keith was heading into the mainland, a massive earthquake struck leaving him stranded on a suspension bridge that could fall at any moment. That's exactly where your start the beginnings of a six-hour adventure. Completely stranded without any food or water, you must traverse across the bridge, onto the mainland, and hopefully figure out a way to get rescued. Along the way you'll learn plenty about the doomed island and uncover a nice plot that surrounds the disaster. Disaster Report firmly separates itself from other games in numerous ways. You will never handle a real weapon, you never fight, and you only meet people a few times in the game. It's all about figuring out a way to get off the island and possibly helping another character with the same quest as well. Water is extremely important, so carrying a fresh supply is critical. Below his health bar is a "thirst gauge." Let it go down too far and not only will Keith slowdown, but also his health will deteriorate as well. Everything is stored in your backpack for quick access and finding a new pack generally means you can carry more items. Saving the game means finding a source of water, whether it is a sink or a fountain in a park. Here you can fill your water bottles, drink, or just save and move on. These are always placed in convenient locations, almost always before a challenging segment. Your backpack will almost always be full with items and creating some primitive ones can be a necessity. For instance, you can create a makeshift torch using lighter fluid, gauze, and a crowbar. Also scattered about are items used for protection like gloves and construction helmets. These are worn on your character until you remove them. The game doesn't suffer from one major flaw, just a lot of small ones. First and most obviously are the graphics. Though I'm not sure, this one looks like it started development on the Nintendo 64 and crept it's way over to the PS2. Massive slowdown brings an already slow moving game to a near halt, everything has a washed out, colorless look, and some of the special effects (like fire) are laughable in this generation. There are some nice touches like the characters clothes tearing as the game moves on, but these are minor compared to the problems this game suffers from in this department. Likewise, the sound is pretty bad too. The voiced dialogue is just hilarious, bringing a campy feel to a game that's trying to be real and serious. Some of the sound effects are simply annoying, especially the rain effect about halfway through the game. Music is sparse (for effect) and only kicks in late in the adventure to accentuate some of the action sequences. The aesthetics are not the only segment of the game with trouble. Keith has to be the thirstiest man on the planet. I have never dealt with anyone who needs to drink this much water. Some items you can pick up prove to be worthless (like the water filter system) since you never need them. Unsure, you'll carry them with you the entire game wasting precious backpack space (repeat: don't keep the water filtration system). A few segments of this one are downright unfair, including a "Tomb Raider" style escape from the subway system. This section is so difficult, be prepared to take a lot of falls into a firey death caused by a fallen tanker truck. As a final mistake, the designers have included multiple compasses to find as a sort of mini-game that will help determine which ending youíll receive. No matter how great some of them are (check out the R-Type one), it just seems completely out of place in a game like this. As mentioned before, the game only lasts about 6 (maybe less) hours which is pretty short. However, there are a few branching paths that add an entirely new dimension to the game and make it worth playing through again. These segments introduce new characters, challenges, and may very well give you an extra ending out of the five available. Disaster Report is not a game for everybody. It's very slow moving and will take a lot of patience. There is almost no action except for a brief segment in a mall very late in the game and the only real enemy are falling buildings. However, if youíre sick of killing the undead with a wild array of weaponry, this one is well worth a look.

May 4, 2004

Onimusha 3 Review

Onimusha started life as a PS One game. Eventually, the game progressed onto the PS2 and became an oustanding addition to Capcoms survival horror line. The sequel continued the storyline and fight against the evil Nobunaga. The supposed final game in the Onimusha trilogy began life as PS2 game from the start and became an epic that rivals even the the best movies in Hollywood. As with all good vs. evil stories, the demon overlord Nobunaga once again tries to take over the world with his demon horde, but ancient Japan just wasn't enough. Thanks to his right hand man, he now has the ability to send his troops through time into the present day. Where else to send them but France? The entire scenic city is overrun by the time the game begins and were introduced to Jaquce Blanc (voiced at times and played by Jean Reno) who gets immediately sucked into the story. Samanouske returns from the previous game and ends up in present day France while Jaquce gets sent back to ancient Japan. If you have played either of the previous games, you'll feel right at home here. The basic combat remains the same and puzzles remain close to the predeccesor. New combos have been added and the critical hits are spectacular. If your lost as to how to perform any of these manuevers, training zones are available at any save point (which are numerous and always placed within reason from difficult areas). New to the game are cloaks which are found at various points during the game. These give the characters various strengths such as regenerating life, faster soul absorbition, and other powers to make the game easier. With the time travel aspects firmly in place, it becomes neccesary to solve puzzles across time. Something that may be accesible in one era may not be available in other. Pieces are sent through time at warps (usually next to save points) with with your "tengu" named Ako, a mildly annoying fairy creature who actually plays a large role in the game and storyline. You'll need to think about what items are needed where and know when to send things over. It's an ingenious twist that really pulls the time travel aspect together. This is a much more action oriented entry to the series, even with the puzzles. Towards the end, you'll find segments of the game that resemble the Dynasty Warrior series from Koei. You'll be in the midst of a huge war zone, battling along other troops and sapping souls at a rate never before seen in the series. Other scenes have another character battling alongside you, slaughtering the evil forces intelligently. They'll occasionaly get in your way and prevent you from moving, but you can push them slowly if your really stuck. As with any time travel storyline, there are obvious problems that make little sense (there are actually 2 Samanouske's), but ingoring these minor problems doesn't hinder the entire picture. Returning characters from previous games are back to try and stop you in your tracks. Fans of the series will be pleased with the new additions to the roster as well. Throughout the adventure, you'll control more than just the two main characters. You'll take control of Jacques fiance', Michelle, and take on the demons with some gunplay. This causes some control problems as targeting is mostly automatic and she never seems to be aiming where you want her too. Still, the segements are short compared to the rest of the game and getting through them isn't overly difficult. Otherwise, the controls are tight and pulling off the super-cool 10 hit combos will be instantaneous with practice. If your a fanboy looking to make a point about the PS2's graphical prowess, you've got your game right here. This is the most impressive, gorgeous, and single greatest looking game to ever appear the console. The pre-rendered backgrounds have been ditched in favor of fully polygonal backdrops that simply must be viewed in motion to be appreciated. The camera is a minor problem only in a few minor segments of the game and does remain stationary for the most part. The infamous "jaggy" graphics that the PS2 is so famous for are certainly a part of the game, but hardly detract from the sightseeing this game provides. Even with the polygonal backgrounds, the character models look just as sharp as they did before. It's a technological feat on every level. Famous Paris landmarks appear throughout the game and modeled with no detail left out. Notre Dame proves to be a key location and you can almost say you visited even if you've never stepped foot inside. Even better are the game cinematics. The opening CG is jaw-dropping and light-years ahead of anything you'll see in a theater. Most of the cinematics during play use the games graphics engine and are stunning. The animation here makes it look like the characters are actually acting throughout. Games like this prove there is no need for another generation of game consoles next year. Likewise, the sound is explosive and just as awesome. The Pro-Logic II support is outstanding and this is the best I've ever heard the format used. It's been a long time since I've said this, but the sound effects are just unbelieveable. The lifelike sounds of gunfire, swat teams moving in (all around the player with the proper equipment), and swords clashing are just flawless. Voice acting is only so-so and unlike the previous games, there is no option for Japanese language. Stranger still, Jean Reno delivers all of his French lines, but someone else does his english talking (Ako has the power to make everyone speak the same language). Can't forget to mention the epic soundtrack either which all recored by an orchestra. The entire experience will sap about 12 hours of your life the first time around. It could easily be done in about 8 with a guide, maybe sooner. The difficulty level is extremely low, mostly due to the addition of the cloaks. Simply finding an open area and standing still will let you regain life. All the med kits you need will be readily available for the big boss fights. Beating the game unlocks tons of neat stuff including a sort of "deleted scene." You'll play through a short segment of the game as a 4th character which adds a bit to the story. Added difficulty levels, alternate costumes, making of features, and new weapons all become available as you play through the game more than once. There is a real nice shooting gallery-type mini game as well. Oh, did I mention multiple endings (make sure to watch after the credits)? Die-hard fans may be dissapointed by the easier difficulty level (I died twice through the entire game and that was within the first two hours), but this could very well be attributed to the near perfect camera as much as it can be blamed on the cloaks. This is the only real detractor the game has, but same may feel it's highly repetive just like beat-em-ups of the past. Those of us who grew up throwing the same four hit combo to the same enemy time and time again will have no problem relating here. This is an epic trilogy, the video game equivalent to the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. An entire series is rarely this solid and the 3rd game should never be the best in the series. Here, it happens. The combination of flawless graphics, intense good and evil storytelling, along with the already classic gameplay of the first two games makes this a must play and early contender for game of the year.

November 23, 2003

Final Fantasy X-2 First Look

ffx2box.jpgI watched the video review over at IGN PS2, and they said not to get caught up in the "poppy" "bubble gummy" sugar coating, I will try not to. But that is a lot to ask. The opening CGI is as breathtaking as any of the CGIs from FFX. We get to see Yuna singing? Yep, She has gone from High Summoner to pop icon. Well, no, not really. We (that would be Rikku and Paine) are presented with their first fight, against "Yuna." We find out shortly after that it is really LaBlank using the Songstress Garment Grid. I like that we are thrown into a number of battles right off the bat. Needless to say, I am frothing at the mouth over the story of FFX-2. I really enjoyed the story line of FFX. I have been waiting to play this game since the extra movie from FFX International hit the internet. X-2 is already getting interesting, and I am only on the first mission. The battle system is a lot faster paced. It is still turn based, but is a little more real time, I do not know how to exactly describe it. I am not sure I like the new faster battles, it is different. You can hit enemies while they are attacking your party, that is nice. The Garment Grid thing is interesting, allowing Yuna to play Piane's Warrior role, for example. You can go to the Cabin portion of the Air Ship and go talk to a bar keep, named "barkeep" and buy/sell items. How convenient that is. Having the Air Ship at the beginning of the journey makes this game quite a bit different from FFX. It is no longer linear, there are a couple different things to accomplish at any given time. IGN was right when they said the music was lacking. The lead music directors for FFX moved on to FFXI and what we are given for music in FFX-2 is lucklaster. The Fanfare music, is not very Fanfare-ish. The overall music is more techno then in FFX. It will take a little getting used to. I bought the 4 disc soundtrack for FFX because I liked it so much, I do not think I will be paying to import this soundtrack. The vocal tracks in FFX-2 don't even compare to Suteki da ne (Isn't it Beautiful). The music is such a big part of the Final Fantasy experience, I think it is a shame they do not have the same director for FFX-2 as they did for FFX. The "platforming" elements consist of nothing more hitting the Circle button. If you do not do it fast enough you might drop into a chasm, or you might fall off balance and have to back up and try the jump again. Nothing revolutionary here, but it is a really nice breakup of the flat landscape. It adds more of a 3rd dimensional feel to the environments. I was hoping to get something for my FFX save file. I did all that could be done in FFX, including finding all the legendary weapons. I think a nice touch would have been to start FFX-2 with all the Albed Primers, if you took the time to locate all of them in FFX. Something like that, something for the people who did more then just play the game for 40 hrs. to beat the final boss. This game, like FFX, will most likely be my favorite game of the year. OK, I have to get back to playing, I have to go find Wakka in some cave now.

June 30, 2003

Splinter Cell for PS2

The one game that I had for XBOX that I did not want to give up was Splinter Cell. Well I sure was happy when they announced it would ship for the PS2. I was presently suprised to see the movie at the beginning of the game is different. The cut scenes are also somewhat different. Even more interesting to note is that the levels are changed around a bit. The objectives are the same but the way you complete the objectives, and the strategy used is different. I cannot believe it! I wonder if they made things different for the Game Cube version of the game, or the PC version. I figured it would be a direct port from the XBOX version. It is nice that they changed things up a bit because I had finished the first 3 levels of the XBOX version. Things are not exactly as they were, which is nice. Splinter Cell does really push the hardware of the PS2. I know when they developed it first for the XBOX they spacifcly made it for the XBOX capabilities. The PS2 does not handle the night vision goggles effect as nice. Also the loading times are killer long in comparison to the XBOX version. The lighting doesn't seem as crisp either. This is the first time I have seen a game on both the PS2 and XBOX and noticibly seen the PS2 get its but whooped in graphics and performance. On the other side of the coin though: The PS2 handles particles in Splinter Cell better. The fog effects through the game are much nicer. The XBOX doesn't do fog and rain well and I don't know why. Every play the Tanker Mission in Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance on the XBOX. When you are outside on the ships deck there is a rain effect on the "camera" that the XBOX just chuggs at (That was the main reason I waited for Substance to be released for the PS2, I might review that in the future). This is such a well put together game thought the loading times don't subtract from the fact that this is one of the best games I have played in years. It also seems harder on the PS2. I am in the second mission right now and because of the changes made to the level design it makes the game a bit harder. But thats OK with me. This game is so much fun.

May 27, 2003

Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance

Disclaimer: If you have not played MGS2 Sons of Liberty and don't want me to ruin the story line, then don't read this. MGS2 has been out for a while now, so I do not think that anyone will care if I spill the beans about a plot point or two. There are a select few games for the PS2 that should really be put on a pedestal as the best of the best for the console. There are also those few that came out and were a real disappointment to all the fans. Ironicly Metal Gear Solid 2 (MGS2) fits into both of these categories very well. The only reason (for the most part) people bought Zone of the Enders (ZEO) was for the MGS2 demo disc. It just so happened that ZEO was a very cool game as well. So by the time that MGS2 shipped we had all played the Tanker mission over and over and over again. That made the Tanker mission a piece of cake for most people, even on the hard difficulty. Then you get to the Big Shell mission which is most of the game, and you do not get to play as Solid Snake! Snake is only a NPC. When i found this out (by playing, not by message boards etc.) I was pretty pissed, as was most every other MGS fan out there. What a crock of shit! I think this backlash from the gaming community is the only reason that Substance was released. Konami might have been thinking about doing another VR Missions release ala MGS1, but I think they must have got it that their fans were ticked. I really enjoyed Sons of Liberty even if I could not play as Solid Snake for most the game. It was a good game, the hard and hidden harder difficulty settings made it a great game to play over again. I have played Substance for two weeks now and I can honestly say it was worth buying again. The VR missions are really great. There are somewhere over 100 alternative missions. The "Snakes Tales" are cool and hard. The one oddball thing about the game is the skateboarding. You can skateboard as either Snake or Raiden, this is kinda cool and a brake from the normal MGS game play. It was also a ploy for Konami's skateboarding title. They sure packed in the extras into Substance to keep gamers happy. From the looks of the movie at E3 for MGS3 I cannot wait! It is going to have (mostly i guess) outdoor environments. That has got to be an annoying challenge to code for. The only thing I was bummed about was the fact that having a Sons of Liberty save file on my memory card did not give me anything extra. Maybe it did but I cannot tell. I hear that If you have the Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 that unlocks all the VR missions for you. That would be pretty cool. The VR missions are hard! But that is a good thing. I checked out the Xbox version of Substance and my buddy Maury was right - the Xbox cannot handle the rain on the camera effect at all. It chugs. I would suggest the PS2 version. Substance.... what a great name. "We really put a lot into this one" must have been a good joke around the office.

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