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So, it’s kinda funny how whenever I mention a game I’m planning on reviewing…it doesn’t show up. Well, it doesn’t happen that often, mind, but yeah…I should stop that. I end up jinxing myself and don’t post a column for a few weeks while I wait. So, I’m not going to do that anymore, thank you very much FRONTLINES. However, I do have a good amount of stuff for you all this time around, so maybe it’s for the best.

NO, THIS IS VEGAS

r6v2_1.jpgI may not have reviewed it, but I was a big fan of the first RAINBOW SIX: VEGAS…so much so that me and friends from work still play it online every Thursday. Well, we would, but now RAINBOW SIX: VEGAS 2 is out for Xbox 360 and PS3, and that will take up more time. The direct sequel to the previous game, this new title has you picking up where the Rainbow squad left off with terrorists taking over the Vegas strip. This time out, however, your character is one you create, and how you look (as well as how your stats increase) caries through both the single and multiplayer experiences.

With an updated version of the Persistent Elite Creation system, combined with the new A.C.E.S. (Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization) system, players can gain experience points across both modes. Even if you don’t play multiplayer (or don’t play the single player game, as the case may be) you’ll still increase you skill, and the A.C.E.S. system does it beautifully, depending on how you dispatch your foes. Enough shots from up close, long range, or even while they (or you) are descending fast ropes build your skill, and you level up much faster here than in the previous game. The character creation also allows for quite a lot of customization, but once again, all the good stuff is unlocked after gaining a few levels.

The story mode is where the meat and potatoes of the experience lies, with your team going in to bail Keller and his squad out of the cliffhanger of the last game. While this clears up a good amount of the plot points from the last game, there’s honestly not much new here, content wise. It’s still the same kind of tactical squad based combat, and while the graphics are polished a bit and the maps are new, it’s basically just an update more than a sequel. Still, the last game was so strong, this isn’t really much of hindrance.

If the story is the meat and potatoes, the multiplayer is the cherries jubilee. Terrorist Hunt is back with some excellent maps, as are two new adversarial modes. Hostage Rescue is just how it sounds (rescue them before the opposing team kills them) and Team Leader (which has you escorting your team’s leader to the extraction point, as well as stopping the other team from doing the same) round out the typical deathmatch, item extraction and demolition. A new addition for this sequel (and any RAINBOW SIX game period) is the addition of a sprint button, and while it seems like a small feature, it’s certainly a welcome one. You never know how much you want to catch up to team mates until you realize all your equipment weighs you down and running would really help you not get your ass shot.

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Co-op is good and bad all in the same breath, however. Finally, we get all the cut scenes and story elements in the co-op game, so that we can actually follow along with what’s happening. However, the number of friends you can play with now has been dropped from 4 to 2, with you controlling your two AI squadmates while your buddy is basically a gun-for-hire. If you bite it, they have no one to give them orders until you respawn. What’s the point in that? Still, if you can’t beat RAINBOW’s notoriously difficult storyline by yourself, a buddy is a welcome addition that won’t skimp on the story part of the story mode.

For most, R6V2 won’t be too different from the previous title, but for others still that isn’t such a bad thing. It still has the great squad tactics, excellent maps, killer multiplayer modes and tons of fun. A few more improvements over the last title would have been nice, but when that close to greatness, it’s hard to improve. At least we have something new to keep us busy on Thursdays.

One Gamer’s Opinion:

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OOH OOH, SMASH IT UP

ssbb.jpgI’ll be honest with you…I’m not a big SUPER SMAHS BROS. fan. When MELEE came out on Gamecube, I picked it up and had fun playing the game myself, but frankly, with friends (especially if four of us are playing) I can’t really tell what the fuck is happening…I just know I’m getting my ass kicked. Now with the release of SUPER SMASH BROS. BRAWL on the Wii, I feel the same way…but it comes in such a pretty package with so many extras, I may not care as much.

The standard game is here, with you choosing one of your favorite Nintendo characters and beating the snot out of any on-comers. With the addition of third party character such as Solid Snake from the METAL GEAR series, as well as long time Nintendo (and Mario) rival Sonic the Hedgehog, this game aims to be every fanboys wet dream. The multiplayer franticism is the game’s selling point, and the hardest of the hardcore can beat it out with one of four controller set-ups (wii-mote, wii-mote and nunchuck, classic controller or Gamecube controller) so the core hasn’t changed.

Now, however, there’s the addition of the Smash ball. This little icon floats in only occasionally, and whichever fighter cracks it gets the ability to perform a “final smash” a screen filling move that usually (though not always) annihilates all opponents. These are great to watch and most matches have the players stop wailing on each other as they all try to grab the icon and close in for that final win.

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So what else is new? Well, the single player adventure mode has now become the (slightly) story driven SUBSPACE EMMISARY game, complete with fan service cut scenes and unlockables galore. This where most will spend their time as it not only unlocks the majority of the characters for the game, but also features some of the best scenes in the game. Sadly, this not just the longest mode, but also the weakest, as the story mode (for me anyway) was just a bit on the tedious side. A lot of the side scrolling missions just wouldn’t control right, and the repetition was a bit to drag out for the mode’s 8 to 10 hours. Still, if you want to unlock R.O.B., Mr. Game and Watch, and even Sonic, this is the way to go. At least you can play this co-op with a friend online and off.

Online is a new component here too, but sadly, Nintendo is keeping this mode hindered with obscure friend codes and no way to communicate with opponents. If you happen to have a friend’s code, you can spout some custom taunts, but if you don’t know who you’re playing, you REALLY don’t know who you’re playing. No screen name appears, there’s no way to talk to them…you may as well be playing the computer. I will say, connections are great and there’s no noticeable lag, so…there’s that.

With 32 fighters, an insane number of classic and new stages, a decent if flawed online and single player story modes, and even some challenge modes, BRAWL is the one to beat them all. If you can see past what the heck is happening on screen, that is. I still loose myself in the crowd.

One Gamer’s Opinion:

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QUICKSHOT OF THE WEEK

bully.jpgOne of my favorite games of the past year has been re-released for the Xbox 360 and Wii, and I couldn’t be happier. BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION is out now and features a good many improvements over the original game. While the main story remains the same, there are an additional 8 missions, 4 new classes (math, biology, geography and music) and even a couple of new characters. The same awesome voicework and cut scenes are here and these new missions fit right in, thanks to the stellar writing of the characters. In fact, it almost seems like some of these missions (and especially the classes) were just omitted from the original PS2 version due to space constraints. Hell, the teachers of these classes are seen in some of the existing scenes, and now you actually HAVE Mr. Hattrick’s math class! The Wii version has the usual waggle control with the combat, but the precision in biology class is great when dissecting your experiments. The 360 version has the clear advantage, however, with its much more polished graphics and, of course, achievements. Still, there were some freezing and frame rate issues, but thankfully Rockstar issued a downloadable patch which corrected (most of) the problems. If you missed it on PS2, now is a great time to pick up this “director’s cut”, and even if you played through it before, the story is so great and the characters so well defined, it’s worth hitting Bullworth Academy again.

One Gamer’s Opinion:

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GAMER NEWS

In case you haven’t heard, they’re doing ANOTHER live action STREET FIGHTER movie. As if being the last Raoul Julia film wasn’t enough, the previous film also features some of the most laughable scenes and sequences in a gaming film ever. This new flick aims to erase all those memories (hopefully) by hitting a serious story…and not hiring the Muscles from Brussels. This time the focus is on ol’ Thunder-Thighs herself, Chun Li. Here’s the press release from Capcom:

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STAR-STUDDED CAST ANNOUNCED FOR CAPCOM®’S LIVE-ACTION STREET FIGHTER MOVIE
2008 World-Release In Celebration of Street Fighter’s 20th Anniversary
SAN MATEO, Calif — March 19, 2008 — Capcom®, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, is proud to confirm the main cast for its live-action Street Fighter movie based on the hugely popular video game series.

The story revolves around fan-favorite Chun-Li, who will be portrayed by actress Kristen Kreuk (of Smallville fame). Michael Clark Duncan, Neal McDonough, and Taboo of Black Eyed Peas are also on board to round out this all-star cast. The film will be made in conjunction with Hyde Park Films, and will be distributed by 20th Century Fox for a scheduled 2009 worldwide release.

The Street Fighter movie is only one of many projects Capcom has planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter®. Summer 2008 will see the Japanese arcade release of the much-anticipated Street Fighter® IV.

Street Fighter was first released in 1987 to critical acclaim for its innovative features. This was followed up in 1991 with the smash hit Street Fighter® II, which broke records by being available in 500 thousand arcade cabinets and selling over 25 million units on home systems. These records cemented Street Fighter’s reputation as one of the most popular fighting game series of all time and ensured that the fighting genre would become a staple of the gaming world.

The cast so far includes:
• Chun-Li: Kristin Kreuk. Plays the role of Lana Lang in the WB television series Smallville .

• Balrog: Michael Clarke Duncan. The Island (2005), Sin City (2005), Daredevil (2003), The Scorpion King (2002), Planet of the Apes (2001), See Spot Run (2001), The Whole Nine Yards (2000), The Green Mile (1999), Breakfast of Champions (1999), Armageddon (1998)

• M. Bison: Neal McDonough. The Hitcher (2007), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), The Guardian (2006), Timeline (2003), Minority Report (2002), Band of Brothers (2001)

• Vega: Taboo. Member of popular R&B music group Black Eyed Peas and recipient of three Grammy Awards.

• Charlie Nash: Chris Klein. We Were Soldiers (2002), American Pie (1999)

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Sounds interesting, right? Now if only that rumored TEKKEN movie had such good news.

In portable news, the phenomenon that is GUITAR HERO is hitting the DS later this year with GUITAR HERO: ON TOUR. When I first heard this a few months ago, I was concerned as to how this would work. Now, the first screens have been released, and I have to say, I like the way it looks:

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Still, it does raise some questions. I mean, sure, you can press the buttons like on the normal GH guitar, but…you’ll be strumming in the palm of your hand, right? Didn’t they learn anything from JAM SESSIONS? Still, I’ll reserve judgement until it’s released. If you listen to CABIN FEVER here on QSE, you already know my opinion on GUITAR HERO anyway.

Alright, friends… we’ll see you next week. I feel safe in saying I’ll review CONDEMNED 2 and FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: RUNES OF FATE as I’ve actually received them. ‘Til then…

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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