The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review (PS4/PS3/360/X1/WiiU): “Losing some of its webbing”

ASM2_Spider-Man

“With great power comes great responsibility”, or in this case, with a new movie comes a new game. Activision and developer Beenox had released a movie tie-in release for the Amazing Spider-Man back in 2012, which not only was a great movie-based game, but a great game in itself. With the sequel to Amazing Spider-Man now in theaters, Beenox put out a sequel to their predecessor, aiming to improve on various elements. Is this installment worth swinging a web at or should your spider-sense be warning you to avoid it?

Story: 3/5

Taking place after the events of the first Amazing Spider-Man game, regarding the cross-species incident, we find Peter Parker reliving his past and witnessing his Uncle Ben’s death. It’s from this point where we fast forward to present day and Peter is trying to make amends for his uncle’s death by tracking down the killer as his priority. Throughout the story, Peter will soon find out that there’s more going on that’s connected to Uncle Ben’s death. Peter will face his greatest threat yet as he comes across Wilson Fisk (aka “The Kingpin)”, Green Goblin, Electro, Shocker, Kraven, Black Cat and Carnage. The story is pretty solid and engaging enough to keep you interested. However, there are times where cutscenes feel rushed, showing Spider-Man in one location and transitioning to gameplay completely elsewhere. There are also moments where you’ll be given dialogue options to choose what Spider-Man can say during cutscenes. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have any alternate effect on the storyline. Ultimately, while the story wasn’t as strong as its predecessor’s, what’s here is still fun, especially for Spider-Man fans to see the villains in place. Oh, and be sure to watch the cutscene after the end credits of the game (much like the Marvel films themselves).

ASM2-PeterParker

Gameplay: 3/5

When playing as Spider-Man, one loves to have the feel of what it would be like to web swing through New York City. The first Amazing Spider-Man game was Beenox’s first attempt at bringing the open-world aspect in and did a great job of doing it. In this sequel, Beenox wanted to bring out a more fleshed out, lively city. Additionally, the main core mechanics they aimed to touch on was the web swinging. In the predecessor, Spidey would stick his webs to anything in the air, no matter where he was. In the sequel, you use the L2 and R2 buttons to swing with the left and right hands respectively as the webs attach to the buildings now. He can even swing faster holding down both the L2 and R2 buttons together once latching a web onto a building. Physics-wise, this changes the swinging mechanic a good amount and actually feels reminiscent to Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 back in 2003. There’s even a neat slingshot move where Spidey can attach webs between buildings and pull himself back to launch through the city. The web rush mechanic is still in place and has been refined a bit, allowing for a smoother flow and momentum by hold up on the analog stick. The issue with this new web swinging mechanic is that you’ll find yourself swinging into building corners that stick out and you’ll get stuck transitioning to a crawling animation. This tends to get frustrating when Spidey has a bomb he needs to toss in the river and time is of the essence.

ASM2_WallSlinging

Additional in this installment is the Hero or Menace feature. Now there will be a variety of side-missions that appears on the map where civilians or cops are in need of assistance. Choosing to save them will increase your “heroic” meter, with the press and civilians standing up for Spider-Man in the streets. Ignoring the missions over a period of time will decrease your hero meter and continuing to do so will progressively shift over to the “menace” side of the meter. At this point, civilians will trash talk Spider-Man, the Daily Bugle will badger Spidey and the task force around the city will be on you like white-on-rice trying to dispose of you. Beenox also focused on an increase in suits you can switch between. Each suit contains specific traits that pertain to various scenarios, whether it be for defensive purposes, stronger attacks or better stealth. The more you use a suit, the more it will level up (can reach up to level 10 as the max). Also, depending on your hero or menace rank, the attributes will either increase or decrease respectively. This time around, Spider-Man has a health bar again (as opposed to the no HUD, flashing red screen warning you of death). However, to regenerate health, you’ll hold down on the D-Pad and he’ll patch himself up with webbing within 3-5 seconds. Careful though, as enemies will find this opportunity to gang up on you.

Throughout the game’s 14 story missions, Spidey will mix up missions between outdoors and indoors. The first game focused more on indoor locations but this installment tries to flesh out the environment a bit more. Like the predecessor, the game blends a variety of protection, combat and stealth mechanics, while also throwing in a slew of boss battles. Boss battles were a highlight in the first game, in particular with the mammoth-sized mechs or flying mechs that terrorized the city. In this one, epic scale boss battles are completely removed unfortunately and we’re left with more “traditional” battles. Each boss fight tries to change up the method/strategy of approaching it, whether it be trying to sneak up on Black Cat, tricking Kingpin into stunning himself, or webbing Electro so that you can safely attack him. The bosses are pretty well done for what they are, but rarely had a “wow” factor like its predecessor.

ASM2_BlackCat2

Combat and stealth have been tinkered with a bit as well. Combat is built upon the rhythm formula found in the predecessor that’s akin to the Batman Arkham series. However, it feels like the combat isn’t as polished as it was originally. Dodging multiple attacks is frustrating as you have less than a split-second to dodge those, as opposed to single attacks giving you about half-a-second to react. Also, pulling off signature moves seems less common to do than the predecessor, leaving you pummeling an enemy a bit longer than necessary. Webbing takes more of the front seat now with Ionic Webs and Seismic Blast. Ionic Webs deteriorate heavy armor and metal brittle enough to break, while Seismic Blast lets you charge up your webs and blast people back. Stealth has been tinkered a bit, where you can now rappel from ledges and do a stealth takedown from a distance without enemies noticing as quickly. Enemies will notice if a comrade is webbed on the ground, which can lead to you going in for another takedown as well. Also, Spider-Sense has been enhanced this time around. Now, Spider-Man can see the visibility angle (with the proper upgrade) of an enemy on patrol, as well as highlights all items and objects in an environment.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a good amount to do upon completing the story (which takes roughly 4-6 hours). There are races you can take on in the city, photos to be taken, 300 comic book pages to be found, hideouts to sneak into and acquire new suits, and an endless amount of crime to stop. You can even revisit all the missions to go back and find audio logs, or just replay them for fun. Then there’s also the fact that you can replay missions with alternate suits to level those up. You will even play certain segments as Peter Parker himself, which is a nice touch. The game’s pacing felt a bit off though, with the first half of missions being nothing more than “ok”, and then the second half consisting of building on the villains and facing off against each one at the end of a chapter. When it reaches this point, it feels like the enemies are rushed into the story to make an appearance, face off against them and move on. Overall, the gameplay is still solid and enjoyable, but couldn’t help but feel like it was less polished than its predecessor.

ASM2_Carnage1

Graphics: 3/5

There’s no question that the team over at Beenox has shown off some impressive visuals throughout their history of handling Spider-Man titles. It’s unfortunate to say though that this installment was barely touched-up for the next-gen platforms. Reviewed on the PS4, the visuals looked exactly the same as its predecessor on the PS3 in 2012. The only difference in the next-gen version is that instead of running at 720p, it runs at 1080p (which is nice). However, aside from that, the visuals were still a bit uneven. Spider-Man himself, as well as all the main villains, are very well detailed (especially Spider-Man who appears very photorealistic). On the flipside, NPCs in the environment look very dated and lack any of the fine details, making conversations between NPCs and Spider-Man look…well, like Spider-Man is from another console generation. Also, textures in the environment tended to load up during action on-screen or during cutscenes. Spider-Man’s animations were mostly fluid and detailed (even when web swinging alongside a building and he runs along it while still in mid-swing) but during cutscenes, some of his movements seemed wonky and awkward. One of the cutscenes early on made me think Spider-Man was the “UPS Guy” from MadTV back in the day (90s reference), just constantly moving around and flailing his arms around while talking.

Hiccups aside, the game’s frame rate ran at 30 fps without issue and occasionally hit a higher rate during indoor scenes. Also, the city has been redesigned to be properly scaled and given more “life”. Buildings are more detailed and less blocky, while there are more cars on the streets as you swing by. However, the draw distance isn’t very strong and objects tend to fade in at a viewable range. The visuals are mixed overall, some things look quite good, with the city more detailed and Spider-Man himself looking impressive, while oddity issues arise that hurt it. It doesn’t help that for the PS4 version of the game, it barely improved the performance of the issues.

ASM2 - Aerial Shot 2

Sound: 3/5

Spider-Man games have genuinely had some strong audio, whether it be the soundtrack, sound effects and voice acting. In terms of voice acting, Sam Riegel returns to reprise his role as Spider-Man and does a great job much like he did in the first game. All the other characters are also brought to life from a mostly solid voice cast. Sound effects are also quite strong, with webbing sounding precisely as it should, combat sounding effective and the ambiance of the city (in particular when swinging at street level with the cars) drawing you into the experience. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is the weakest element here. The music found in the game (aside from maybe one or two tracks) is completely unmemorable. Unlike the first game which had catchy and memorable tracks to swing around the city to, this one’s soundtrack was on the verge of me having to breakdown and use a custom soundtrack. It’s unfortunate because I always look forward to a game’s soundtrack (especially Spider-Man games) and this one was just very underwhelming. Thankfully, the sound effects and voice acting are what redeemed the audio overall.

ASM2-Night Aerial Shot

Overall Score: 12/20 = 6.0 out of 10

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is far from a bad game, but as a sequel to a great game, it’s nowhere near as impressive as its predecessor. Visuals are a mixed bag, the story (while interesting) feels like it cuts corners a bit, the soundtrack is underwhelming and the mechanics aren’t as polished as they should be. The enhanced swinging mechanic is certainly a highlight here, but it feels like that was the only main element they focused on improving. What is here is still an enjoyable experience for Spider-Man fans, but it’s less imaginative and inventive than the first game.

Pros:

+ Swinging through the city is a lot of fun
+ The roster of villains is solid
+ Some boss fights are pretty cool
+ Story is decent
+ Great voice acting and sound effect

Cons:

– Combat mechanics feel less polished
– Most boss battles lack “wow” factor
– Soundtrack is very unmemorable
– Visuals are completely mixed

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for The Amazing Spider-Man 2! Copy reviewed on PlayStation 4.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.

Wipeout: Create & Crash Review (Wii U/Wii/3DS/360): “Not a Total Wipeout”

Wipeout Create & Crash Logo

Wipeout has become quite the reality show on ABC over the past few years. Essentially being an Americanized version of the cult-hit “MXC” on Spike TV years ago, Wipeout brings together contestants to tackle absolutely insane obstacle courses with completely unexpected traps to dodge. Naturally, with a mixture like this, it was only a matter of time before the gaming industry tried to formulate this into game form. Wipeout: Create & Crash is the fourth installment in the Wipeout game series, but is it an obstacle course worth tackling or should you just avoid this “big balls” of a game?

Gameplay: 3/5

Wipeout’s gameplay is simple: you’ll run along a set path on the obstacle course, jumping and sliding past the traps that await you. You’ll take part in 12 episodes all based on specific themes, such as pirates, halloween, wintery scenes, prehistoric times and even your traditional classic Wipeout theme. Each episode has you running the gauntlet in four levels, the first and third being always being a specific course, the second being a mini-game (which I’ll explain in a bit) and the fourth being the Wipeout Zone, where you’ll face the most brutal of obstacles in the biggest spectacle possible. Controls are incredibly simple and straightforward that practically anyone will be able to pickup the controller and play. The camera is fixated behind the character’s back, always facing forward. You’ll move forward by pushing up on the analog stick and can take steps backward pushing the stick down. You never adjust the direction you’ll be facing and only push the stick left and right to change spots on a specific obstacle or when zip-lining to avoid obstacles on the sides. You’ll also be able to jump with the A button, duck with the B button and slide with the Y button.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 4

Before tackling an episode, you’ll be asked if you’d like to partake in a Daily Course Bonus Challenge. Once a day, you can participate in a single run through a randomly generated course for a few extra Ballsy Bucks. During episodes, I mentioned that there are four levels. The first level is a Qualifier Round, where you’ll be sprinting your way through a course as fast as possible. The second level is a mini-game where you’ll either have to shift lanes on the tracks to avoid incoming obstacles, or bounce on angled trampolines while avoiding getting nailed by an airborne obstacle. The third level is just like the Qualifier Round, only with less people in the standings. The fourth and final level of an episode is the Wipeout Zone, which is the grand finale. Here, you’ll be tested with the most challenging obstacles and start by being launched into the water and swimming your way to the start point. The course itself is always over-the-top with fireworks, flames and spectacles around. There are two difficulties you can play the game on: Normal and Black & Blue. Normal mode is basically “easy” mode, where if you fail an obstacle at a certain checkpoint 3 times, it’ll automatically advance you to the next checkpoint (but you do add 10 seconds to your timer every time you fall in the water). Black & Blue mode removes the “3 try” rule and makes you keep repeating an obstacle until you successfully pass it, no matter how much time you accrue on the clock. I highly recommend playing on Black & Blue mode off the bat as it gives the game a bit more challenge. Speaking of challenge, while the game is pretty easy, this year’s edition of Wipeout brings a huge improvement over last year’s “Wipeout 3”. The course designs are more demanding and imaginative than ever before, with some pretty crazy obstacles to dodge. When you get knocked into the water, you can press the B button to see an instant replay of your “wipeout”, with a few cinematic camera angles that try to replicate the feel of the show. These are ok, but often times the camera does a poor job of showing the “pain” of your mistake.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 3

Aside from the main episodes you’ll complete, there are a few more modes to explore. Wipeout Max is new this installment, where you’ll play through an endless amount of randomly generated levels that increase in difficulty. This is basically an endurance of how far you can get before a course becomes too challenging for you to beat. It’s a fun little mode that helps keep things interesting. However, the biggest addition to the game that’s the main selling point is the Course Creation system. For the first time in a Wipeout game, you’ll be able to become the mastermind of some truly devious courses. You’ll use your Ballsy Bucks to purchase themes based on the episodes you complete, at which point you can purchase and choose the layout of your choice to customize. Once selected, you will enter the course creator, where you can select between 6-12 adjustable obstacles depending on the layout you chose. Creating a course is incredibly simple to use that anyone can easily jump into and create something in literally minutes. You’ll use the D-Pad to scroll to each adjustable obstacle, at which point you can cycle through the variety of pieces to place, as well as the difficulty of each set of obstacles. There are 3 difficulties to cycle between, each with their own unique obstacles. Depending on how big the obstacle section is determines the type of obstacle you can place, such as a catapult, a straightaway with 8 wrecking balls, a spiral spinning cylinder, a zip-line trail and more. You can also test out each obstacle at their specific locations or just test run the entire course without any load times at all. The bummer with the obstacles of choice is that no matter which theme you choose, you can’t use the theme specific obstacles. So if you choose to make a course with a snow theme or a pirate theme, the obstacles will always be the same default choices.

Wipeout wouldn’t be Wipeout without a multiplayer mode (which is completely omitted on the 3DS version oddly). I mean, it is based on the TV show where contestants are competing against each other. The game’s multiplayer provides two modes: Party Mode and Trap Attack. Trap Attack gives players with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk the chance to run the gauntlet on the TV screen, while the player with the GamePad will see fixed camera angles of the course from the GamePad screen directly. The GamePad player can launch balls at the opposing player, as well as trigger specific traps to mess up the opponent and make them fall off the course. Party Mode is more the traditional multiplayer where players take turns running the course and competing for the #1 spot for the fastest time and of course, the Wipeout winner. It’s nothing great or overly engaging, but can provide for some solid fun with friends and some laughs as well.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 2

Graphics: 3/5

Wipeout: Create & Crash has a basic, fun art style to it, that’s certainly passable and pleasing on the eyes most of the time. However, there are some seriously wonky physics issues. Whenever your character gets knocked backwards, you’ll see them cycle through a variety of animations stuck in place, hovering over the ground. Get hit by a wrecking ball and you’ll see the character clip completely through the ball in slo-mo, then launch to the side. Then there are the balls being shot at you outside the course…except they literally appear out of nowhere in the distance when shot towards you. Another weird design are the water effects. When swimming in water, there’s almost no effect shown that your character is swimming in the water. Even when you fall in the water, the splash is incredibly minimal and is essentially flat textures layered over each other. Some unpolished issues aside, the level designs are pretty solid, with a decent amount of detail given to the obstacles. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but an average one that’s hindered a bit by some wonky animations and visual effects.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 1

Sound: 3/5

Wipeout’s audio consists of an entirely appropriate soundtrack that provides the vibe of the TV show and themes of each episode. Commentary is provided by John Anderson and John Henson, with Jill Wagner providing additional lines. While they are the commentators of the show, they’re just not very entertaining or funny to listen to. John Henson’s lines in particular always fall flat and are just plain bad…almost like he’s trying too hard to be comical. Lame jokes aside, the sound effects are exactly what you’d expect of Wipeout nature, with over-the-top effects kicking in when being nailed by an object. The audio isn’t too bad and is solid overall, just don’t expect anything great here.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 6

Replay Value: 4/5

Wipeout: Create & Crash offers a solid amount of replay value, especially compared to the previous installments. While completing all 12 episodes will only take 2-3 hours to complete, there’s plenty of characters and gear to unlock. Additionally, each of the episodes has you aiming for bronze, silver and gold Ballsy Trophies, as well as additional objectives in each level. However, this year’s installment introduces the new Course Creation mode, which is where players will spend most of their time on. Using the Ballsy Bucks you earn in the game, you’ll unlock numerous obstacles and themes to build your own crazy courses with. Add in the new Wipeout Max mode that has you doing an endless endurance run of randomly generated levels until you fail and there’s some really good replay value. There’s no online mode to find here and sharing level creations is done in a very archaic method of swapping 14-digit generating codes.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 5

Overall Score: 13/20 = 6.5 out of 10

Wipeout: Create & Crash is without question, much better than last year’s Wipeout 3. It brings more content, more ideas and more creativity to the table. If you enjoy Wipeout games, you’d do quite well to give Wipeout: Create & Crash a look, especially with the Course Creation system that opens up a solid amount of game time. While it’s nothing great or memorable, what’s here is still an entertaining game.

PROS:

+ Fun gameplay

+ Course Creator is simple to use

+ Interesting course designs

+ Good amount of unlockables

CONS:

– Wonky physics

– Sharing created courses is dealt in an archaic method

– Commentary isn’t funny at all

– Some technical bugs

A special thank you to Activision for providing us a review copy for “Wipeout: Create & Crash”! Copy tested on the Wii U.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review (Wii/360/3DS): “Ahh…Shell Shock”

TMNT 2013 Wallpaper

Over time, we’ve seen some stellar media franchises progress over the years. One particular franchise that’s had numerous changes has been the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Between it’s dark toned comic, chipper late 80s/early 90s cartoon, to the comic-based 2003 cartoon and now, Nickelodeon’s rendition that started in 2012, there’s no question we’ve seen the turtles in a variety of ways. However, if there’s one thing that fans of the franchise will remain fond of, it’s the video games that released in the early 90s. Whether it be TMNT: Turtles in Time, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, TMNT: Hyperstone Heist, TMNT III: Manhattan Project or even the 2003 TMNT game for the PS2/GC/Xbox, they’ve always been known for their downright fun, beat-em-up gameplay. Well, with a new media rendition comes a new game based on the latest cartoon. Developed by Magic Pockets and published by Activision, is the turtle’s latest return a radical one or should it stay in the sewers?

Story: 2/5

There’s one thing for sure: TMNT games are never really known for their story. However, if you plan on incorporating one, make sure it’s somewhat coherent. Unfortunately, TMNT’s story here mainly falls flat. The turtles are thrown into mischief as there’s a mutagen bomb that Stockman plans on detonating in NYC that will turn all its inhabitants into vile creatures. Fans of the show will instantly recognize characters such as Fishface, Dogpound, the blob known as “Justin”, Krang bots, Foot Ninja, Karai, and naturally, Shredder. The story is told through very brief cutscenes with minimal dialogue just to remind you there’s something to connect the player to the scenario. However, as opposed to the story being somewhat engaging, it’s very shoddily pieced together. It doesn’t help that the presentation of the story is downright poor and incredibly rushed. Even though it’s nice to see familiar faces return, the story is minimal and very subpar.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 1

Gameplay: 2/5

“Well, that was incredibly mediocre.“ Leonardo states this numerous times throughout the game, and it pretty much sums up the gameplay of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game is designed as an old-school style brawler where you can choose between all four turtles on the fly, which is nice since you don’t have to wait to lose a life before choosing another character as had been done in previous TMNT games. This option gives you the chance to try out any of the characters during any point in the game. Yet while each turtle has their different variation of moves, they are very limited and the game becomes more of a continuous button masher. Each turtle has a basic attack move, a special attack, and a throw feature (along with jumping). The problem is that the moves and gameplay are incredibly repetitive. Each level is a series of areas where you need to defeat a horde of foot ninjas and Krang bots. Once destroyed, you continue on your path until you do it all over again. This continues until you complete the level.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 5

There are 5 levels in TMNT and each level contains 3-4 sub-levels. Yet with the exception of the last sub-level on each level, you are basically attacking enemies until you complete the level. There are some minor collectibles that you can locate in order to gain more points, and pickup items such as throwing stars and smoke bombs, but they are pretty much useless in the game as you can just slash your way through everything. At certain moments, you can access your camera device to locate hidden doors. If you locate them, you can find additional mutagen canisters needed to unlock a mini-game (which is essentially the classic arcade game “Defender”, TMNT style) in the Extras area. The last sub-level is a boss battle that pits you against some of the main enemies from the TV show, such as Dogpound, Baxter Stockman and the Shredder. These boss battles deliver a change of pace and strategy, which was refreshing, but not enough to help ease the boredom that the game delivers. The game is also extremely short, taking only about 2-3 hours to complete, and in a way, I’m glad it was short because of how tedious it is. While you can co-op your way through the game on the Wii and 360, the 3DS is mysteriously missing this option, which is strange. I did enjoy the ability to upgrade each turtle by collecting orbs from defeated enemies and then using them to update your characters strength and move set, but most of the upgrades aren’t even needed to complete the story mode.

Once you do finish the game, other options become available to you, such as Time Attack and Survival Mode, but they are more of the same and offer nothing new to the experience. You can tell that the game is geared towards a younger audience based on the easy difficulty, and that Nickelodeon wanted to quickly put out a product that aligned with the popular show.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 3

Graphics: 2/5

Let me start off by saying, the versions I am reviewing are the Wii and 3DS version, not the Xbox 360 (which is already an odd assortment of consoles they chose to develop for…omitting the PS3, Vita and Wii U). However, even for a Wii game 7 years into the console’s lifecycle, the visuals here are less than average. Washed out textures, incredibly blocky character models, stiff animations and lifeless, mundane environments round TMNT to be one of the most inexcusable visual games for 2013. The TMNT game that released in 2003 for the PS2/GC/Xbox looked next-gen compared to this…and that was 10 years ago! When I look at a 10 year old game and am immediately blown away by the comparison, it’s just plain sad. On the 3DS, it’s a bit more excusable and less ugly due to the condensed resolution. The only benefit visually is that the game runs quite smooth, with only a few rare instances of slowdown.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 2

Sound: 2/5

Turtles games have relied heavily on energetic soundtracks to really engage the player during the beat-em-up fun, with the pinnacle soundtracks being Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist. What we have here is something that matches the tone of the show a bit, which is fine. Although there’s nothing memorable to leave the game humming too, it’s still serviceable background music that neither adds or detracts from the experience. The voice actors from the TV show reprise their roles, but they all fail to deliver any excitement to the game. Some of the line deliveries just don’t match the tone of certain scenarios and just feel stiff. For example, there’s a boss battle where April will keep shouting “keep it up guys, you’ve almost got him!” but I didn’t even hit the boss once yet. The boss battle lasts for about 5 minutes and she repeats it every 20 seconds…so do the math and it’s pretty nonsensical. Worse yet, occasionally some voices will be blown out while others will be much lower. Sound effects are pretty poor overall as well, feeling like stock sound effects for an amateur game development program.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 4

Overall Score: 8/20 = 4.0 out of 10

When I heard there was a new TMNT game coming out, it was easy for me to get excited. Being a die-hard turtles fan, I’m always eager to play a new game in the series. However, what I was left with was an immensely rushed and pale imitation of the SNES/Genesis beat-em-ups from years past. What the game lacks is soul. It feels lifeless, generic and doesn’t have anything that the older TMNT games didn’t do better…in 1992 or even 2003. While I had the slightest mild enjoyment playing this game for the fact that it was a TMNT game, the game itself is just incredibly dull and unimaginative. The only thing going through my head as I played it was, “Ahh…Shell Shock”.

PROs:

+ Has the show’s intro

+ Turtles can be upgraded

+ 4-player co-op on Wii/360

CONs:

– Ugly visuals

– Awful audio mixing

– Subpar, rushed storytelling

– Unimaginative, bland levels

– Very spotty hit detection

– Too easy

– 3DS version omitted co-op completely

A special thank you to Activision for providing us a review copy for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”! Copy tested on the Wii and 3DS.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.

Hang in There Wii U Owners, The Drought is Over!

wiiu

The past seven and a half months has not exactly been a high point for Team Nintendo. However, I think the tide is turning finally. Looking at the lineup for Wii U exclusives coming this fall and early next year is impressive. Coupled with third-party developers, it is safe to say that the Wii U has the largest lineup of all current and next-gen consoles for the next six months. It was recently reported that Nintendo has filed for a renewal of the “Eternal Darkness” trademark. There are two possibilities here for this: The first being that they are ensuring no other company can ever touch their beloved GameCube classic, or use the title for a future iteration. The second possibility is the more hopeful one, and that Nintendo is supporting the possible sequel “Shadow of the Eternals”. If this comes to be true, then Nintendo will have one mature-rated exclusive that needs no publicity due to its already cult following. Or on the other hand, needs as much publicity as possible showing Nintendo is trying to cater to a “core” market.

If that wasn’t inspiring enough for Wii U owners, Activison announced last week that Call of Duty: Ghosts will be shooting its way to the Wii U this fall. This was a shock to many after the “lackluster” sales figures of Black Ops 2 on the Wii U. Regardless, it is a much welcomed turn of events. Aside from this, check out the list below at Nintendo’s line up for fall of 2013 and early 2014 titles. If you are a Wii U owner, this is quite an impressive list to say the least.

2013

  • August 4th – Pikmin 3  (Exclusive)
  • August 13th – Angry Birds Trilogy
  • August 13th – Duck Tales Remastered
  • August 20th – Splinter Cell: Blacklist (rumored to be the optimal version)
  • August 25th – New Super Luigi U – Retail Edition (Limited Rare Quantity Exclusive)
  • September 3rd – Rayman Legends
  • September 15th – The Wonderful 101  (Exclusive)
  • September 24th – Scribblenauts Unmasked: DC Comics Adventure  (Exclusive)
  • September 30th – Deus Ex: Human Revolution- Director’s Cut
  • October 2013 – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD  (Exclusive)
  • October 2013 – Sonic: Lost World  (Exclusive)
  • October 8th – Just Dance 2014
  • October 25th – Batman: Arkham Origins
  • October 29th – Assassins Creed: Black Flag
  • November 2013 – Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze  (Exclusive)
  • November 5th – Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • November 19th – Watch Dogs
  • December 2013 – Super Mario 3D World  (Exclusive)
  • December 2013 – Wii Fit U (Exclusive)

2014

  • Mario Kart 8  (Exclusive)
  • Super Smash Bros.  (Exclusive)
  • Bayonetta 2 (Exclusive)
  • Shadow of The Eternals (TBA)

Fast & Furious: Showdown Review (PS3/360/Wii U): “More Like ‘Slow & Infuriating: Boretown'”

Fast & Furious Showdown Wallpaper

Fast & Furious has become quite the film franchise, starting off as a focus on street racing and small truck heists, to taking on drifting in Tokyo, to full-blown warzone material that would make Michael Bay a little jealous that he wasn’t behind it. Naturally, with a movie comes a movie tie-in game, and since Fast & Furious 6 came out the end of May, Activision and Firebrand Games have brought us Fast & Furious: Showdown for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS and PC. However, is this a solid movie tie-in game that evades the curse of movie-based games, or does this ride crash-and-burn to pieces?

Story: 1/5

The game’s story opens up with Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes’ character from “2 Fast 2 Furious”) entering her office and seeing Agent Riley (Gina Carano’s character from “Fast & Furious 6”) studying information based on the variety of chaotic scenes Shaw and his crew have caused worldwide. They’ll bring up events that occurred throughout the entire movie series’ saga, but as minimalistic as possible. This is about the extent of the story to be quite honest. At the beginning of each chapter, you’ll see a cutscene with these two characters talking, exchanging literally a sentence each, and then you’ll go into gameplay. The story is told as flashbacks of missions, and each mission has an opening showing the main characters chatting with each other. However, it’s unbelievably non-sensical and downright lame dialogue, that there’s absolutely zero motivation to play the game for the story. Not to mention, the game’s ending is just awful. It serves as a way to connect into the latest movie’s intro, but it’s done so in such an amateurish way.

Fast & Furious Showdown Gameplay 5

Gameplay: 1/5

Normally, I would think that Fast & Furious would be an awesome property to make a game out of. Intense street races, in-depth car customization, adrenaline-fueled action scenes where you’re jumping out of your car onto others, and flipping cars like in the newest movie all make the soundings of what could be this great game. Everything I just mentioned is actually found here…just replace “intense” with “boring”, “in-depth” with “basic”, “adrenaline-fueled” with “ultra lame”…well, you get the point. Fast & Furious: Showdown brings a good amount of variety and ideas to the table, but unfortunately, none of them work well. As stated, you’ll partake in races, shooting and car jumping throughout the game’s 30 stages that await in the campaign. You don’t have to tackle the campaign solo, and can bring a friend in to help your through the game. For the record, playing in co-op is the way to go if you plan on getting through the game…this way you can share the laughs with a friend.

Races are done in either a checkpoint fashion or through traditional laps around the course. Problem number one here is that the vehicle handling is very shoddy to say in the least. The main reason for this issue is due to the absolutely erratic physics. You may be turning fine one moment, and the next the car will completely loose control and slam into the wall/barrier. Also, the AI is absolutely ridiculous during some races, at times making you feel like ejecting the disc and flinging it out the window. Then there are times where the AI is so freakin’ dumb, that they’ll all just veer right into a wall at the very start of a race while you take the lead, then all of a sudden they’ll be right behind you. It’s not even like the game ramps up progressively in difficulty, it’s just scattered all over throughout the campaign. Luckily, if playing in co-op, as long as either player places first, that’s all that matters. On the flipside, should either one of you wreck your car entirely, then expect to restart the race. The other biggest problem is the FF points system. FF points are earned from drifting, drafting, driving recklessly, etc. These points are not only your XP, but will fill up your meter to use NOS. Well, good luck getting this meter filled up more than a few times during an event, if even once. You can do everything possible to earn FF points and that meter will barely even fill up, making it feel much more like a chore than a reward to earn.

20130720-132956.jpg

Then we have missions where you’ll be riding shotgun, shooting at pretty much anything that has a health bar floating above their vehicle. You’ll use Uzis, EMP Pulse Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Turrets, Grappling Hooks, and Rocket Launchers…all with infinite ammo. You’ll look with the right analog stick, while holding down the aim button will slow down the action, giving you a chance to place your shots carefully and even try to pop their tires. Slow-mo aiming will deplete your FF meter, so knowing when to use it is key. Occasionally, you will have to get on top of your car and jump onto another vehicle. This basically turns into rapidly pressing a button to fill up your balance meter, quickly aim your jump and try jumping without falling to your death. If you don’t jump within a couple of seconds, you’ll have to rebalance again before jumping. Now imagine that you’re about to jump and your AI or co-op partner crashes into a wall or traffic. The targeted car is now way ahead and you’ll be stuck just constantly pressing the balance button to no end until you finally reach your target and jump. There’s no “cancel” button in case the situation arises and really is a frustration. Once you jump onto the target, you’ll…anyone? Anyone? Don’t be shy, that’s right. You’ll be rapidly pressing the balance button again. After balancing and balancing, you’ll have to shimmy your way to the driver or passenger seat, and hi-jack the vehicle. Or, at other times, you may have to arm or disarm a C4 charge from the vehicle. This is stuff that actually makes sense and has the makings of some intense moments in the game…but unfortunately just isn’t done right or engaging by any means.

At times, you will have special missions that may pertain to a moment from one of the movies, such as the infamous bank vault scene from Fast Five, the flip car from Fast & Furious 6, or drifting down a mountain in…Hong Kong? Wasn’t the drifting scene in Tokyo? Moving on. The bank vault scene from Fast Five is the second mission in the game, and interesting enough, there are a couple of things wrong here. Number one: Vin Diesel is replaced by Ludicrous’s character, Tej. Come to think of it, Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto, doesn’t even make any appearance in the game. Guess Vin Diesel knew better than to allow his likeness in this game. Number two: the physics for the vault is like having a beach ball attached to string, making it incredibly floaty and weightless. Nothing adds to the immersion than a vault flinging in front of your car and you ramming it to only see it weightlessly roll off your car. The flip car scenes in the game…well, remember those weightless physics I just mentioned? Yeah, the cars you ram into just weightlessly move up along your car until you press the launch button, in which then you’ll fling the car up a ridiculous height. Then there’s the drifting scene, which would be awesome if the game’s drifting mechanics were actually somewhat decent. Naturally though, it’s far from decent and just downright unreliable. Any time you try to drift, you just never know how the physics are going to act up. There are even missions where you have to tail someone as close as possible, but somehow the person you’re tailing has a more hooked up ride than you, despite the fact that you’re driving a tuned up car and they’re driving a convoy truck.

Remember that time where Brian O'Connor used an EMP Pulse Rifle in the movie? Neither do I...

Remember that time where Brian O’Connor used an EMP Pulse Rifle in the movie? Neither do I…

Aside from the campaign, there’s a Challenge mode. This contains 21 additional challenges where you’ll have to try to cause the most mayhem, control a variety of vehicles (such as a wrecking ball truck), etc. These can also be played in co-op but interestingly, these missions showed a bit more creativity than the campaign’s. The problem? Do you remember the time in the movies where they drove a wrecking ball truck in circles to take out cop cars? It just doesn’t fit in this game. Nothing about these missions made me go, “yeah, this has a Fast & Furious feel to it”. There’s car customization and perks that you can utilize for both the campaign and challenge mode. Car customization is incredibly barebones, feeling like a poor man’s Need for Speed Underground (which by the way, had an insane amount of customization and that game came out about 8 years ago). You can equip mods (up to three at once) for your vehicle, such as increased speed, double health, speed boost while drifting, double damage with guns, etc. The problem with the game though is that none of it is actually “fun”. On top of that, there are a brevity of technical issues and the game actually locked up my system numerous times during my playthrough, which was quite frustrating when I’d complete a mission and then it’d freeze, to only replay the mission again. The overall gameplay contains variety within missions, but fundamentally, it’s an absolute buggy and boring mess.

No joke, this car is attached to mine, going in reverse at the same exact speed I'm going while driving forward! Wow...

No joke, this car is attached to mine, going in reverse at the same exact speed I’m going while driving forward! Wow…

Graphics: 1/5

Firebrand Games develops their own game engines in-house, which is something I very much admire. However, when the last game I played of theirs, Trackmania: Build to Race for the Wii, has a better visual design than this, there’s a big problem. Nothing in this game looks remotely attractive or even equates to the bare minimum of anything we’ve seen this current generation. Car models look passable, but have ultra basic detail to them. While there is damage modeling, ugliness rears its head more when you see the completely flat, single-texture design of a car’s engine. Character models look absolutely horrid and stiff to a whole new level. Characters drive like hunched over gorillas driving a car, and those that are riding shotgun while shooting are like stiff stick-figures where their legs are holding them in the window and they seem to be sitting in the air. Even when they reload guns, they all reload the same and doesn’t even look like they’re reloading properly at all. Fire effects are also some of the worst in a game to date, looking as dated as a PS1 game from 15 years ago. Environmental textures look bland and the draw distance isn’t exactly too great either, with mountains forming as you’re driving and power lines that form parallel to your car. The frame rate is also erratic, running from somewhat smooth to a pretty rigid…and the funniest part is, there’s nothing impressive that the game is showing off, so the frame rate should not be taking a hit at all.

Fast & Furious Showdown Gameplay 2

Sound: 2/5

A Fast & Furious game featuring characters from the movie should surely have their voice actors at the very least, right? WRONG! What we get are shoed-in actors that sound very slightly like them, but offer zero emotion or care into the roles. They sound as bored delivering lines as the players will feel playing the game. Sound effects are awfully generic with car engines sounding dull and unexciting. The soundtrack ranges from godawful rap music that I can’t imagine even the most devout rap enthusiast to enjoy, to somewhat catchier tunes that play in the second half of the game (which actually helped garner that extra point for this department). Oh, and the main menu music…well that just spells generic to the max.

"It's gonna blow!" Basically the C4 charge that I should be planting on this game.

“It’s gonna blow!” Basically the C4 charge that I should be planting on this game.

Overall Score: 5/20 = 2.5 out of 10

When I heard Firebrand Games was behind this game, I was actually somewhat excited. I mean, Trackmania: Build to Race for the Wii and DS was a very under-appreciated game that introduced me to what the studio is capable of. Unfortunately, I was severely letdown with a game that had me shaking my head at how absurdly unpolished it was. Fast & Furious: Showdown is a horrid game that looks so outdated and is near unacceptable for games this far into the console generation. It reeks of low budget from the moment you’re introduced to the title screen and main menu, all the way through to the credits (if you even last that long with it). If you do plan on playing this, it’s to mainly see how to make the Fast & Furious franchise as dull as possible. Fast & Furious: Showdown? More like “Slow & Infuriating: Boretown”.

PROS:

+ The box art is pretty cool

+ Co-op = Twice the laughs

CONS:

– Graphics are more outdated than a launch PS2 game

– Gameplay is as unpolished as it gets

– AI is downright atrocious

– Voice acting and characters are a whole new level of “stiff”

– $40 price tag is as much of a laugh as the game

Copy rented by author for review purposes. Wii U version used for review.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.

“Call Of Duty: Ghosts” Gets Some Concrete Facts

CallOfDutyGhostsConf610

The next generation start of “Call of Duty” is now official. The franchise that has shaped a generation of gaming is set to raise the bar once again with the all new title, Call of Duty: Ghosts. It will be published by Activision, and developed by Infinity Ward, the studio responsible for creating the original Call of Duty and the Modern Warfare series. The new title is set to deliver new gameplay, created on an entirely new storyline, setting and cast of characters. And finally, the best news, is that it will all be powered by a new, next generation Call of Duty engine that hopefully will reinvigorate the series.

“Infinity Ward set the gold standard for first-person action for a generation, and they’re going to do it again with Call of Duty: Ghosts,” stated by Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. “Ghosts delivers an all-new story, all-new characters, an all-new Call of Duty world, all powered by a next generation Call of Duty engine, which is a leap forward for the franchise. Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans. Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do. But we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Mark Rubin, executive producer of developer Infinity Ward. “We saw the console transition as the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter for Call of Duty. So we’re building a new sub-brand, a new engine, and a lot of new ideas and experiences for our players. We can’t wait to share them with our community.”

The first exclusive look at Call of Duty: Ghosts will be on May 21st at the Xbox Next Generation Event. Beginning today, fans can start pre-ordering their copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts at retail stores. Call of Duty: Ghosts is set for release on November 5th of this year for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox 720, and possibly Wii U. For more news on anything COD: Ghosts, stay tuned!

007 Legends Review (PS3/360/Wii U): “A Legendary Mess”

007 Legendswallpaper

“James Bond Will Return…” It’s a line we’ve seen at the end of the credits roll over the course of the film series’ 50 year history. Ever since GoldenEye 007 graced the video game market for the N64, we’ve seen numerous Bond games get released over the last decade and a half. Developer Eurocom was on board to celebrate the “Bond 50” anniversary by working on 007 Legends for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. Eurocom is no stranger to the 007 license either. Their first entry, The World is Not Enough for the N64 was a great title (PS1 version wasn’t so good) that gave fans hope that a non-Rare developed Bond game can work. From there, we’ve seen Eurocom develop Agent Under Fire and Nightfire for the PS2, GC and Xbox. Agent Under Fire was a pretty solid entry, while Nightfire stands as one of the best 007 games released (alongside GoldenEye and Everything or Nothing). Recently, with Activision owning the rights to the Bond license, they decided to bring GoldenEye back as a re-imagining, with Eurocom behind the project. The game scored very well amongst fans and critics alike, both the Wii version from 2010 and PS3/360 version from 2011. With Eurocom having a solid stature on the franchise’s history of games, they surely would know how to celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary…right?

Story: 2/5

With the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, that released in November, Eurocom decided to build a story lightly around one of the key moments that happens early in that film. As it is no surprise as this was shown in the movie and game’s trailers, Bond is caught in a chase after an operative who obtained a disk drive that contains all of MI6’s secret agents’ covers. While in a fight on top of a train, Bond’s partner for the mission tries to provide aid by reaching a clear location to snipe the enemy Bond is after. His partner is told to “take the shot” by M and she misses, hitting Bond instead. Bond is then pushed off the top of a train, off the overpass and free-falls to what is presumably his death. As he hits the water, the developers decided to use this as a way of Bond recollecting memories of previous missions from previous 007 films: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker. It’s an interesting plot device to explore some of Bond’s history but it’s here where any “cool” factor gets thrown out the window. When celebrating an iconic character’s history, it’s essential to make sure the source material is close. Since the game isn’t intended to be a re-imagining like GoldenEye was, it’s strange how detached the game feels from the movies it’s based on. Remember the war-like scene in Goldfinger outside of Fort Knox with helicopters crashing and a million soldiers? How about the the scene in License to Kill where Bond destroys other vehicles while on top of a racing oil tanker with a single bullet from his pistol? Or the scene in Die Another Day where you’re driving on ice and the car isn’t invisible (not to mention Jynx doesn’t even look anything like she did in the movie)? Remember how Patrice had a rocket launcher with infinite rockets in the beginning of Skyfall? Yeah…I don’t remember those happening that way in the films either. While I don’t mind so much that the developers try to change it up a bit from the movie counterpart, none of the missions within those movies tie into each other coherently by any means. It’s a disjointed structure and a real shame as the story starts off with potential.

007 Legends Gameplay 5

Look carefully and you’ll notice how many character models are duplicated…true story.

Gameplay: 2/5

007 Legends is an FPS at heart, while trying to incorporate some stealth elements, on-rail vehicle segments and driving sequences. Eurocom has done all these things before in previous Bond titles, so it would seem like a safe bet to stick with it in 007 Legends. Unfortunately, everything here just doesn’t work as smoothly as it has in the developer’s past with the franchise, which is incredibly odd. You’ll control Bond with standard FPS controls, although, for some reason the sensitivity is either way too slow or too fast, no matter how much tweaking you do in the options menu. What’s even more odd is that when you try to aim vertically, it seems always slower than the horizontal speed, making aiming more of a chore at times. As you progress through the game, Eurocom does incorporate MI6 stations where you can upgrade your weapons, equipment and abilities. This is actually a nice addition that helps give you more freedom with what you can equip. You’ll earn XP by completing certain tasks in game and with those points, you can spend them on upgrades. Bond can purchase and equip up to three perks, such as increased health, increased stamina, quicker reload, quicker weapon swap, etc. As for the guns, you can purchase red dot sights, faster rate of fire, grenade launcher attachments, laser pointers, etc. While this is a nice feature, the attachments don’t “attach” to every weapon. For example, you may be using Bond’s signature P99 pistol and buy a laser pointer for it, but that attachment won’t go onto the pistol…making you waste a purchase. The same goes with a few other weapons…which makes you scratch your head wondering why it’s here in the first place.

As mentioned in the story section, the game revolves around six of the Bond films, each containing two to three levels per film. They sometimes throw you into an on-rails vehicle sequence such as the skiing scene from On Our Majesty’s Secret Service or the motorcycle chase from Skyfall. The skiing scene is ok, and reminded me a bit of Eurocom’s skiing scene from The World is Not Enough on the N64. The problem with this was the awkward steering controls, which felt like moving a tank and led to plenty of frustrating “Mission Failed” screens when smacking into three consecutive trees. Then there’s the Skyfall motorcycle chase…and this one I have no words for. This chase sequence had to be one of the sloppiest segments in the entire game. First off, again, the controls are awkward, and feels like you’re handling anything but a motorcycle. Second, the scenario design of where and when certain “on-coming” vehicles appear are just questionable beyond belief, not to mention how poor they look. Honestly, I found myself laughing hysterically at how abysmal the whole scene was handled. Then there are the free driving vehicle scenes (which I mean allows you to fully control the vehicle), which thankfully handle much better. While the scenes aren’t anything too memorable, they’re enjoyable while they last. The controls are responsive but the physics can be pretty wonky when hitting a barrier or object.

007 Legends Gameplay 6

There are times where you can tackle a scenario without getting yourself into a heavy firefight through stealth. After all, it wouldn’t be a Bond game if there was no stealth. Stealth mechanics aren’t too bad, where sticking to the shadows and behind objects to stay out of sight is key. Enemies that notice you will have an indicator on the screen showing how much suspicion they see in the presence. The indicator will start off white, meaning they’re slightly noticing something (that “something” being you), however it’ll quickly switch to orange, meaning they’ve noticed suspicious activity. If the indicator hits red, well, stuff is about to go down. There will be cameras in the vicinity at times as well, but you’re given a few seconds for the camera to fully notice you before the alarm triggers. If a camera scans an area where there’s a body on the ground, expect the alarms to sound. Occasionally, there will be “Critical Stealth” points where getting caught once will result in “Mission Failure” and send you back to the nearest checkpoint. The stealth segments aren’t too bad and can be somewhat enjoyable. A new mechanic that’s introduced in 007 Legends are the quick-time, “Punch-Out” style fight scenes. At times, whether with an ordinary thug or a specific villain, you’ll resort to having to use the analog sticks to throw left and right punches, while swinging high and low. This is interesting when it’s first introduced to you, but wears off very quickly as the enemy you’re brawling with just stands there like a fool, leaving a clearly specific spot open for attack. It’s like they’re saying “hit me…here!” Plus, every time you hit them, it shows the hit in slow motion. Cool at first to show the effect, not so cool after the fifth enemy and 30th punch. However, when caught in hand-to-hand combat with Gustav Graves in Die Another Day’s sequence, you’ll be followed by a quick-time dodging event that gives you literally a tenth of a second to react to multiple different dodges. Missing the button once results in death and having to repeat the hand-to-hand fight again, which is prior to the quick-time dodging event. This particular scene is just plain frustrating for the worst reason.

Aside from the game’s 5-7 hour campaign, there are also Challenge missions. These are akin to the MI6 Challenges that were in GoldenEye Reloaded back in 2011. These handful of missions will put you behind a variety of different scenarios, such as stealth, defense, assault, etc. You will be scored based on your performance and to make things more interesting, you can modify each scenario to your liking. Tweaking things such as enemy health, their accuracy, Bond’s health and paintball mode all affect the points multiplier for your overall score of a mission. These are fun little missions to tackle, but wish they had a co-op element to them.

007 Legends Gameplay 1

Playing through the Wii U version of the game, I was hoping the GamePad would be utilized decently. Well, it is and isn’t. The GamePad shows your inventory and you can switch between weapons and gadgets by tapping the appropriate icon. While you could just press a button to switch between them, I actually did find myself using the touch screen more. The screen also displays a mini-radar, which is also shown on the bottom right corner of your HUD on the TV. The radar is minuscule on the GamePad and pretty much just fluff since it’s easier to just pay attention to the radar on the TV instead. There are times where you’ll have a keypad to enter a code or hack into a safe using your watch. While you can use the standard controls, Eurocom has incorporated them to be utilized through the GamePad’s touch screen. It’s nothing great and the visual representations are incredibly choppy and low-res, but it’s a nice touch. Unfortunately, there’s no off-TV play allowed unless you play local multiplayer…which is a real bummer.

Naturally, multiplayer is a huge portion of the Bond experience ever since the days of GoldenEye on the N64. Eurocom has brought us some great multiplayer experiences in their Bond games in the past as well, whether it be The World is Not Enough, Agent Under Fire, Nightfire, or the GoldenEye remake. Unfortunately, 007 Legends’ multiplayer is poorly put together…and this doesn’t make sense either. GoldenEye’s remake had a terrific multiplayer that brought back a classic feel of gathering friends around a couch to shoot it out, as well as taking it online. 007 Legends has the mechanics in place, but has forgotten to incorporate the “fun” aspect to it. First thing was that the online doesn’t feel smooth at all, with movement feeling somewhat stilted. The next element missing (and this is a big one for me personally) was that there was no in-game music during matches. Now many may not be thrown off by that, but when all of Eurocom’s previous Bond efforts had music for multiplayer and then omit that here, that’s a mistake. There are several different game modes that stand out from the typical “Team Deathmatch” such as “Golden Gun” and “Legends” mode. Unfortunately, trying to find a match in anything but “Team Conflict” was near impossible. You can play locally with friends, but I recommend just sticking to the GoldenEye remake. Better yet, fire up the original N64 GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough (N64), Agent Under Fire, or Nightfire if you have any of these accessible. Overall, 007 Legends’ gameplay is functional and can be very mildly entertaining, but it’s incredibly buggy and unpolished.

Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?"Goldfinger: "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to sit through this game!"

Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?”
Goldfinger: “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to sit through this game!”

Graphics: 2/5

Ok, so this is probably one of the more laughably infuriating elements I came across in the game. 007 Legends is an ugly game to look at and incredibly rough around the edges. The strange thing is that GoldenEye 007 (the Wii version, not even the enhanced PS3/360 version) looks better than 007 Legends. Honestly, 007 Nightfire, a game that Eurocom developed a decade ago for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, looks better than this game at times. Now that’s just sad. Character models look somewhat decent, with a very good job done with the facial scans of iconic Bond villains. However, the enemy death animations and physics are just jarring. Killing an enemy behind cover usually resorts to them leaning against that cover in a weird forward position that looks…well, awkward to say in the least. Shooting an enemy with a shotgun or explosive has them fly backwards and flip, but in a slow animation that seems just plain poor. Environmental textures are incredibly inconsistent as well. Some areas look solid, such as the Ice Palace from Die Another Day and the Space Station from Moonraker. Then there are other areas that are subpar to today’s standards. The frame rate holds up alright during intense action sequences…but that’s about it. Sometimes it shoots up to 60 fps in closed-in, non-action areas, but is very rare. The thing is, the engine they built for GoldenEye Reloaded for PS3/360 rans at a rock solid 60 fps and looked significantly better than Legends…so what went wrong here? Visually, it’s serviceable…but that’s about the extent of it.

007 Legends Gameplay 3

Sound: 3/5

The audio department is easily the better designed element to the game…but nothing overly impressive. The game may portray Daniel Craig as Bond (even though he wasn’t in most of the movies incorporated here) but it sure isn’t him voice acting the role. Timothy Watson has stepped in to take on the role of Craig’s Bond and honestly, it’s not bad at all. The other voice actors that take on of the roles of classic villains and Bond girls do a decent job as well, except for the times where you’re investigating a scene and they say the same line over and over again. An example of this would be “James, I bet you can use your scanner to find clues”, with only seconds until it’s followed by “James, I bet you can use your scanner to find clues” followed by…well, you should get the pattern by now. The sound effects for the guns and explosives are adequate, but never heightens the scale of shootouts. In terms of soundtrack, while it’s nothing too memorable, the music here is effective and helps capture the game’s moments pretty well thankfully. The overall audio isn’t poor by any means, but far from great.

007 Legends Gameplay 2

Overall Score: 7/20 = 4.5 out of 10

007 Legends is a prime example of a product that sounds great on paper and falls apart miserably in execution. For a well established license such as this, and a grand sense of accomplishing 50 years in cinema, this is not a great game to signify it. We’ve seen some stunning Bond games in the past, from GoldenEye 007 (N64), The World is Not Enough (N64), Nightfire and Everything or Nothing. The biggest shame is how Eurocom, a talented developer that’s had a great track record with Bond games, has been shut down right as soon as this game released, making them go out on a thud rather than a bang. Activision should be ashamed for rushing the developer to release the game within a year of GoldenEye Reloaded’s release just for sales sake. If you’re a Bond fan and want to relive some of these iconic moments, you’re better off buying the “Bond 50” DVD/Blu-Ray Collection. If you still have interest in the game, I advise you only get this in a bargain bin…and even then, you may be disappointed. I did have some mild enjoyment while playing the game, but the amount of issues and inconsistency lying within 007 Legends is inexcusable.

PROs:

+ Decent soundtrack

+ It’s got Bond

CONs:

– Severely outdated visuals

– Poor storytelling

– Skyfall’s missions are hilariously abysmal, including the Motorcycle chase

– AI and physics is questionable

– Multiplayer isn’t nearly as smooth as GoldenEye (Wii) or GoldenEye Reloaded (PS3/360)

– Aiming controls are inconsistent

– Feels incredibly rushed

Copy purchased by reviewer for review purposes. Game was played through on the Wii U.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Cowabunga! The Ninja Turtles are “Out of the Shadows” This Summer

TMNT-tmnt-22587793-1344-1056

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans will finally be getting a new game soon. Aptly named “TMNT: Out of the Shadows”, it will be a digital only affair for the PSN, XBLA and PC. Out of the Shadows will be published by Activision. This is a follow up to last year’s annoucement of Activision purchasing the rights of the series. It has been confirmed that Activison intends to release at least three titles in the next three years. This would make a TMNT trilogy for fans missing the series in recent years. It was also stated that these three titles are based on the newly released Nickelodeon cartoon.

In the game, players take on the role of one of the ninja turtles and fight criminals using famed moves and melee weapons. The highlight of the game is promised to be the four player online co-op. Red Fly Studios will be developing the game for the PSN, XBLA, and STEAM. The developer’s not a stranger to licensed games, as they released the Wii versions of “Thor: God of Thunder” and “Ghostbusters: The Video Game”. The game will be due out this summer for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. For more news on this or any other topic, be sure to keep it locked onto Gamers Xtreme, and as always “Game On!”

Radio Xtreme – Episode 29: “PlayStation 4 Recap and Thoughts”

DualShock 4

In this special episode of Radio Xtreme, Glacier928 and special guest, K20NY, recap the Sony event and discuss all the latest info for the PlayStation 4. Sit back and enjoy as we condense the 2 hour conference into 20+ minutes!

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Review (PS3/360/Wii U): “Death, Deceit and War Returns”

Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a first-person shooter developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. The majority of this game was played on the Xbox 360, with a portion also played on the Wii U. Sure, it’s another Call of Duty, but this time, it is quintessentially different from prior COD titles of the past. Activision and Treyarch have tried to create a game with more character and depth than any of the previous entries in the series. However, does it succeed?

Story: 4/5

The story of Black Ops II spans over three decades, with half the game taking place in the late 1980s, while the other half takes place in 2025. Alex Mason, the protagonist from the original Black Ops, returns in the 80’s Cold War missions, and his son, David Mason, is the main character for the 2025 missions. For the first time in COD history, the developers have created a well fleshed out villain. Raul Menendez will become the central figure-head of the story, the most vile of villains. Without giving away anything, I can say that this storyline fares better than most of the Call of Duty’s and is a true credit to what the writers have crafted. Call of Duty campaigns are usually very straightforward, and the campaign here shares a lot of the fundamentals that the majority of the games in the franchise have had. Huge explosions and exciting set pieces are once again a part of your world, making you feel like the action hero in a blockbuster movie.

If you’re a fan of COD storylines, then you will be quite happy with the tightly scripted story for the most part. Looking to make some changes to a traditional formula, Treyarch has added some crucial choices in the game that will affect your story’s outcome. Some of these choices are things that may seem minor on the surface, but are actually quite monumental to the ending of the game. There are more than five endings to the game, which is certainly another change to the traditional Call of Duty’s. By the time I had completed my single player playthrough, I was amazed at how thrilling the storyline was. The final mission’s tension was simply outstanding.

Overall, I was more than surprised that Treyarch was able to make some vital changes in the traditional story elements, which enhanced the plot a great a deal. Bringing in David Goyer, the script writer from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, was hands down the smartest move Treyarch did. For the first time ever, this was a story with deep characterization and feeling. I did have some minor gripes with the plot itself. While it was stronger than most Call of Duty’s due to the characterization I mentioned, the sequence of events just never felt as consequential for the characters in the beginning. The fact that the writing was exceptional for the character, made the central plot kind of fall into the background significantly. Playing through the first three or four levels was a slow and boring start for me due to the intro of the story. It finally kicks into gear towards the middle of the game, but I felt it should have had a motivating plot from start to finish, not just halfway through.

Gameplay: 4/5

The single-player campaign takes you through a variety of missions that are more varied in design than the first Black Ops. You can complete the story in about 7-8 hours on normal difficulty. Regarding changes, I must state a serious con that stuck out to me. Treyarch decided they wanted to add a real-time strategy (RTS) element into the game called “Strike Force” missions. The very first Strike Force mission occurs early in the campaign and inadvertently slows down the action and story. These missions are objective-based. The game makes you see an eagle-eye view of the battlefield from above and allows you to command your squads below. The problem is that it simply does not work, with troops often ignoring your commands. Therefore, you’re only other option is to take control of the squad manually and play as one of them. Essentially, you are now just returning back to the normal COD single-player gameplay, thus rendering the “aerial God view” broken. More of these missions will pop up as you progress. Thankfully, unlike the first mission which was mandatory, the rest are optional. I found it very difficult to even want to play a second RTS mission because the AI was completely broken and incompetent the first time around. Aside from this, the rest of the campaign is where the single-player mode excels. As I stated earlier, the choices you make will affect your ending in the game, whether good or bad, it is entirely up to you. There is a rewind feature that lets you go back and make different choices, which is a nice feature.

The fundamentals of Call of Duty haven’t changed, but it does make some strides to keep it stimulating. The level design has more of an open-world feel than ever before, giving you a grander sense of size. There are also vehicles and even a horseback action sequence that works astonishingly well. Incorporating more of an online feel to the campaign, Treyarch has added challenges for each mission, as well as customizable loadouts. This device lets you choose different weapons, as well as perks, for starting your next mission. If you feel overwhelmed however, you can always choose the default loadout which is aptly titled “Recommended”. Bouncing back between the 80’s weapons and warfare to the 2025 era definitely keeps things interesting.

Of course it would not be a Treyarch Call of Duty without a Zombie mode and this time it is no exception. Zombie mode has certainly become a phenomena on its own. In this third iteration of Zombie Mode, you are given a somewhat ambiguous beginning. You will need to explore your surroundings in order to open up the world around you. You will use a school bus to move between areas. You can still earn money to unlock newer weapons, ammo and of course, new areas. Happily, I can report that it is still a thrill to play and just as enjoyable as when we first played World at War’s Zombies back in 2008. There is a new competitive mode that lets you form two teams. After creating the two teams, the object is to see who can last the longest. However, the twist here is that you can lob raw meat at your adversaries or stun them while they try to heal themselves. Obviously chucking raw steaks at your opponents will grab the attention of zombie hordes looking to feast. Zombies are packaged nicely in its own campaign, almost feeling as it could be a standalone $20-30 game.

If Zombies isn’t your strong suit, than I suggest giving the “holy” multiplayer a try. Treyarch has made some much-needed tweaks, making this certainly the finest online COD game in recent years. First off, they have changed the loadout system, now calling it “Pick 10”. This valiant direction essentially lets players design their loadouts as to how they see fit. If you want an extra perk, add in an extra perk. If you want to carry more frag grenades, then you can. The stipulation is that you will need points. At the beginning, you will receive ten pre-selected points. After that, everything you choose gets a point or points assigned to it. With this system, you can essentially design any loadout you want, no matter the combination. If you want to carry three main weapons, plus a side weapon, that’s fine. On the flip side, you might have to lose some perks in order to splurge on weapons. This makes the multiplayer fresh and exciting once again. Perks will also be character focused now as opposed to weapon based. This means perks for a holding a gun steady or taking more bullets are character based. Gone are perks solely focused on gun specifications. In replace however are a ton of new weapon attachments that will leave you concocting all sorts of deadly creations.

Killstreaks have also been taken out and now replaced with “score streaks”. This was put into place in order to inspire players to focus on objectives, rather than just killing by the droves. Whether longtime fans will enjoy this more than killstreaks is too early to tell at the moment. However, I really enjoyed this change. Besides the standard modes making a return, there are some new ones to keep it fresh and evolving. “Hard Point” zeros in on seizing random areas on the map. You now can have several teams combating at once, which makes the standard modes feel more exciting. Incredibly, Treyarch has added in the ability to stream certain matches via YouTube, with certain restrictions of course. Generally, the online segment of the game is as highly addictive as it has ever been. Treyarch has tweaked just the right amount to keep it fresh, getting players moving on from the original Black Ops and even Modern Warfare 3.

Graphics: 4/5

The Call of Duty franchise has always had a cinematic approach to visuals. In Black Ops II, they sought to continue this tradition with large-scale set pieces and explosive destruction. The designers choreographed the action to make it a thrilling rollercoaster ride. I can say it succeeds in the category of blockbuster action, with the visuals to match. The landscapes of lush jungles, giant naval ships and Downtown Los Angeles looks pretty and pleasing to the eyes. Leaping off of a mountaintop cliff and flying down using a wingsuit is thrilling, mostly because you’re speeding through environments in 60 fps, while still being fully detailed. Black Ops II is full of these moments that stand out.

I must state however, while playing certain sequences on the Wii U and doing split-screen with a friend, the framerate did drop. Playing on the Xbox 360, the framerate stood steady at a solid 60 fps and for the most part, the Wii U did too when playing single player. Occasionally though, it would dip when you would enable the split-screen play between the GamePad and Pro Controller. Overall, I feel the visuals are great, but not stunning. I think it is more than time that we see an end in the reusing of the same modified engines Treyarch and Activision have been utilizing since 2007.

Sound: 5/5

What do you get when you combine an all-star cast with the composer of Mass Effect….give up? You get a stunning sound design from start to finish. Black Ops II, and Treyarch more specifically, has done something very clever. They have decided that the music in their games has to be just as important as the script itself. They brought in David Goyer writer from The Dark Knight Rises, and now they have brought in Jack Wall, composer of Mass Effect 1&2 to score BO2’s soundtrack, while also nabbing Trent Reznor for the game’s theme. These were bold moves for them to take and it clearly paid off. Getting more to the point, the soundtrack is refreshing and crisp. The tracks play like a sci-fi space-esqe, dark undertone that somehow fits perfectly in this covert world of espionage and deceit. The tracks in both the 80’s and 2025 missions work exceptionally well. If this wasn’t a sell on the audio already, the voice acting is top-notch just like in the original Black Ops. Alex Mason, Frank Woods, Raul Menendez all sound fantastic and full of life. They terrifically transcend the voice acting level from games to cinema quality so naturally.

Overall Score: 17/20 = 8.5 out of 10

There is a lot of content being offered to you within Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It is well worth a $60 purchase because you’re getting three different games in one. Whether single-player, zombie, or multiplayer is your thing, there is something here for everyone. Credit must be given to Treyarch for trying to bring innovation to a series that has been very worn-out, and they succeeded in a lot of ways. While the multiplayer is fast and fun in Black Ops II, you can’t help but feel it’s all getting a bit old now. However, the multiple endings for the campaign, significant choices in single-player, and an improved Zombie mode, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a solid and entertaining game.

PROs:

+ Fun and solid gameplay

+ Strong Story and Character development

+ Multiple Story choices encourage replay

+ Refreshing and original soundtrack

CONs:

– Strike Force Missions are broken and do not fit into campaign

– Slow start for story

– Framerate does drop occasionally on the Wii U version

The Wii U Experience:
By: Glacier928

When it comes to Black Ops II, it intrigued me that Activision and Treyarch decided to aim and shoot for the Wii U’s launch. While I won’t get into too many details about the game since R17 covered that in this review, I felt I should just add a bit about how the GamePad integration worked with BO2. First off, the GamePad services mainly as a screen that just showcases the current objective at hand, as well as the ones completed. However, with a simple tap of the Display button on the touch screen, the game will now stream 1:1 on the GamePad. While playing through the campaign, the game ran very smoothly on both the GamePad and TV.

However, playing through the multiplayer I noticed a few inconsistencies. First off, as R17 mentioned, playing online with a buddy split-screen will knock the framerate down a bit. While it’s nothing terrible by any means, it’s certainly noticeable. Regardless, it definitely provides for a fresh and exciting take on split-screen multiplayer. The other thing was the audio mixing on the Wii U version. For some reason, even with all the in-game audio settings at the maximum level, this version sounded very low. I found myself cranking up the volume of my TV to almost the halfway level before the audio sounded solid. To give you a better idea, my TV only needs to be at volume level 5 for the audio to sound great. In COD: BO2, I had the volume at 35 to just equal the sound of volume level 5 in any of my other games. While that may not bother too many people, I found this to be an inconsistency. Other than that though, playing through the online via Nintendo Network was lag-free and a ton of fun. People who were using their headsets were coming in loud and clear as well.

Overall, based on some of the time I spent on the Wii U version, I can say that Treyarch definitely put some time into this to provide an experience that matches the one available on the PS3/360.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.