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Sometimes, publishers will release a large amount of games in a short amount of time, sometimes within the same week or within a week or two of their last release. For this week’s column, we’re taking a look at a few releases by one such company (and one of my favorites), Capcom, who in the past three weeks has released three stellar games. Also up for review are releases from Sega and Konami. Fun times indeed.

GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE

dmc4_1.jpgUp first is the release of DEVIL MAY CRY 4, out now on PS3 and Xbox 360. Taking place after DMC1 (but before the atrocious DMC2) we follow the exploits of NOT the demon hunter Dante that the series is known for, but a young upstart with a Devil Arm (literally) named Nero. This Dante wannabe slightly resembles the big D with his choice in hair color and general bad-assery, but the similarities end there. Nero has been ‘blessed” with a demon hand known as the Devil Bringer…an attack that pulls enemies close and slams them to the ground, tears them apart, or other fo0rms of kicking demonic butt.

Through weird events that apparently I’m not to spoil for you all (despite them happening within the first 5 seconds of booting the game) Nero must track down Dante for…crimes. This all gives way to the real plot at hand, but suffice to say, once you start whooping butt as Nero, you won’t miss ol’ Crimson Coat. Nero can certainly hold his own, and is an excellent fill-in for this game. Don’t despair either, all you hardcore Dante fans…just as you’re getting used to Nero’s kick ass combos, they pull a switcheroo on you and you take the reigns of Dante for 7 levels in the game…only to get Nero back once you’ve gotten used to him!

The visuals for this game are truly outstanding…the cutscenes in particular shine in Hi Def and the whole look is definitely one that benefits from the next gen tech. However, the gameplay mechanic is strictly old school. Slice and shoot (and slam) your way through hordes of enemies as you progress level by level to stop the unholy evils around town. Of course, if you’re a fan of the series, that’s all you WANT to do, right? In that case, DMC4 doesn’t disappoint, as you get all the button-mashing, combo spilling, smokin’ style fun you can handle.

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If there’s one complaint to be had with the game, it’s how it handles the character switch. After battling your way through 11 levels as Nero, you’re sent as Dante BACK THROUGH the majority of where you just came from. This kind of backtracking is needless and sloppy level design. Plus, you have to fight the same bosses again on your way through…and once AGAIN at the end all at once (in typical Capcom fashion). Still, when compared to the whole picture of the game, this is a minor gripe.

The two versions of the game are practically identical, graphically and control wise. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the PS3 version has an edge and a disadvantage all in the same breath with its 30-minute mandatory harddrive install. Sure, this decreases load times by a fraction of a few seconds in the long run, but it’s a bit of a hassle when on Xbox 360 you can just, oh, I don’t know, play the game RIGHT AWAY by putting the disc in. The install idea isn’t a bad one…I just wish it wasn’t mandatory. The Xbox 30 version ekes out the win for me…mainly because I’m an achievement whore.

For old school button thumping fun, it doesn’t get any greater than this. Good story, fun visuals and a whole lot of baddies and boobage. Good times all around.

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One Gamer’s Opinion:
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YOU’LL FND ME IN DA CLUB

club.jpgFor developer Bizarre Creations’ first new title outside of the PROJECT GOTHAM RACING series, they’ve brought us THE CLUB, a score based shooter…that oddly enough, is very reminiscent of old school arcade games…and racing titles too, and is available now on PS3 and Xbox 360

You take on the role of one of six characters (plus two unlockable), each with varying abilities in strength, speed and stamina and fight your way through several arenas, fulfilling score and kill quantities for an exit. In THE CLUB it’s not just how you kill, but how FAST…headshots are gravy, but running through an abandoned prison gunning down lackeys brings you combo multipliers. The better the kill, the higher your score. IF your “kill meter” is draining, shoot an icon around the level called a skullshot to extend your combo. Busting through doors, rolling on the ground, or leaping over railings add bonuses too. Get to the exit in the allotted time, or the micro explosives implanted in your body will detonate. Very arcade style.

When it comes down to it, it really is a race game with guns…and guys running instead of driving. There are actually a few levels where you have to COMPLETE LAPS around the arena, killing all the while. It’s ridiculous, but it’s a lot of fun.

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Well…for a short while, that is. After a few times through THE CLUB’s different levels, all the action will feel a bit “same-y”. Still there’s a good bit of online action to be had, and the variety of the characters is cool enough. There’s very little story though, and unless you’re the hardest of the hardcore, the scoring mechanic won’t drive you wild.

For the old school fans, this is a breath of fresh air for the stagnant shooter genre, while still offering up some familiar fun. For shooter fans of today, it may not be new enough. People are fickle like that. Go figure.

One Gamer’s Opinion:
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THE REVOLUTION IS BEING TELEVISED

krame1.jpgAs long time readers of this column will note, my girlfriend would rather sing than speak. So when they announced that KARAOKE REVOLUTION: AMERICAN IDOL ENCORE wasn’t just coming out for PS2 and the Wii, but that she could get achievements for singing on Xbox 360, she was thrilled. Unfortunately, it seems like she should have stuck with the PS2 version. This review is based on the Xbox 360…and also on HER comments of the title…as I honestly haven’t played it.

Now, visually, the Xbox 360 version is a mixed bag. Sure, it looks more “realistic” in the character model department, and we have great models of the three judges…but, there’s not as many customization options on the 360 version (something she spends most of her time doing…almost more than singing in the damn game). Also, while the game “supports” the Xbox Live vision camera, it’s only in the background of the venues…you can’t map your face like you can with the PS2 Eye Toy.

Speaking of venues, the selection here is pathetic. All are AMERICAN IDOL stage settings, save for two…a stadium and a recording studio. The PS2 version offers quite a few more (including many from the previous games in the series). While this holds no bearing to my playing it, she certainly thinks it’s important to note. Honestly, variety is good, so I agree with her.

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The song selection is good, with 40 songs available on the disc…but once again, the Xbox 360 version gets the short end of the stick on gameplay modes. The One Mic and Two Mic Party modes of the past versions (And PS2 version of this game) are missing from the 360, as well as the options to sing without lyrics or “note tubes” (the indicators on screen to show you where your pitch should be). Usually these are played multiplayer with friends with hilarious results…not so here.

Admittedly, the 360 DOES have some cool points. Despite not being developed by series developer Harmonix (who’ve gone on to do…um…something else) we have Blitz Games (known by me for…The Burger King games?) doing an admirable job copying the style and structure we’ve become familiar with in these titles. There IS online multiplayer as well, and for local, you can compete with friends in an AMERICAN IDOL style competition, with your friends getting voted out and such. Also, just this week, they’ve release 21 new downloadable songs for the game…at $2 bucks a pop. Granted, if you buy them all, that’s $42 bucks (or 3360 Microsoft points)…almost the price of a another game. But hey, if ROCK BAND can do it…

In the long run, she’s happy with the game, but there’s so many options that it feels like the 360 version got the short end of the stick, when it really should have all the features of the PS2 one (there really is no reason it shouldn’t have). Still, it does what it’s supposed to do, so I can’t fault it for that. And neither can she, apparently.

One Gamer’s Girlfriend’s Opinion:
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QUICKSHOTS OF THE WEEK

ajustice1.jpgThe last two games from Capcom that I mentioned at the beginning of this column may be familiar to some. First, there’s APOLLO JUSTICE: ACE ATTORNEY, out for DS. The fourth in the ACE ATTORNEY series, we leave behind Phoenix Wright and take up with a newer defense attorney, still a greenhorn, but with all the charm and luck of his predecessor. For the first in the series developed especially for the DS, it doesn’t change much of the series, and personally, I think that’s a good thing. The same structure of the cases is there, but there are cool new tweaks, such as 3D recreations of the crimes, evidence gathering and observation and such. Apollo even has a variation on Phoenix’s “psyche lock” to tell when witness’ testimony is phoney. A worthy entry into the series. Plus, even if you’ve never played one before, it makes a good jumping on point, as backstory from the other games isn’t necessary for enjoyment of this title(as it is with the past two sequels).

One Gamer’s Opinion:
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lostplanet1.jpgSecondly, LOST PLANET: EXTREME CONDITIONS has just been released for PS3 this week. Virtually identical to the Xbox 360 version released almost a year ago, this version does hold some cool extras worth mentioning. First and foremost, all the downloadable maps for multiplayer from the Xbox 360 version have been included for free on the disc. Also, there are a few extra characters as well, including Frank from DEAD RISING and, of course, MEGA MAN, to be used in the main story as well as online. Beyond that, it’s still the same amazing visuals, the same ho-hum cut scenes, and the same old school shooting fun with level by level objectives and enemy characters with visible weak points. If you enjoyed the 360 version, there’s little new here, but if you missed it the first time around, it’s worth picking up.

One Gamer’s Opinion:
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Another week down, and still more to come, including DRAGON QUEST SWORDS for the Wii, and FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR on Xbox 360. See you next time.

THE GAME ON! RATING SYSTEM

 

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Ratings From Greatest to Least:

Kick Ass, Right On, Okay, Eh, and Stinker (aka CRAPTACULAR)

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