I’m not much of a Snoop Dogg/Lion fan, but I do like a good rhythm game, so I was fully prepared to enjoy this one. Despite the horribly cheesy presentation, I actually was having fun in the beginning. It reminded me of Elite Beat Agents on the DS. I kept thinking how much cooler this would be played with a touchscreen instead of a controller. So maybe iOS/Android would be the better place to pick it up if you’re at all interested. Pass on the XBLA version, though. It quickly falls apart. The game attempts to increase the difficulty by mixing button presses with directional movements, but this is either broken or just harder to pull off than you’d think. Missing a “note” will sometimes cross out the rest of the commands in a chain, thus adding to the frustration and setting you up to fail. If you retry a particular song too many times, the game will start glitching by rendering blank notes or leaving text on the screen that obscures your view. Considering how the background fighting is already a huge distraction, these glitches pretty much ruin it. I’d still like to see how it plays out on a mobile device, but I’m done with the console game.
If you’re like me, then you’re generally not a fan of card-based games, because they just feel boring most of the time. Well, Poker Night 2 not only makes Poker fun, but it manages to give it a really enthralling setup by including a bunch of characters from properties I adore. Who could possibly dislike a game where you can listen to Brock Samson, Ash Williams, Claptrap, Sam (and Max), and GLaDOS shoot the breeze? All of the voice acting is superb and, despite him not being Bruce Campbell, Ash’s voice actor does a fantastic job. The gameplay is good, but it can get seriously difficult at times. Gameplay aside, I did experience an extremely large amount of glitches in the Xbox 360 version, including slowdown and freezing. If you’re interested at all in this game, I suggest buying it for PC if you are able, as it doesn’t have as many glitches, and the dialogue seems to repeat much less frequently than on the 360 version. The 360 version is still a fantastic game, though, despite the glitches. Whichever version you decide to pick up, you’ll for sure be in for hours of fun thanks to the fun characters and mountain of unlockables.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is one of those games that only comes around every great once in a while to prove there is a merciful god of awesome somewhere. It takes the greatness of Far Cry 3 and coats it all in a sexy, neon-fueled, 80s inspired gift wrap. Everything you loved about Far Cry 3 is turned up to 11. The characters are ridiculous, the weapons are awesome (the pistol is slightly modeled after Robocop’s), and IT HAS DRAGONS! Not just dragons, though… laser dragons! The absolute best part is that they kept the amazingly tight controls and all of the other great gameplay bits from the console game, like the hunting and assassination missions. The story is a lot less serious, of course, but if you’re a fan of less than A quality action movies, then you’ll adore it for the fact that it oozes cheese and pop culture references at every chance. Saying it’s a must-buy would probably be overselling it a little, but it’s definitely at least a must-try for anyone that loves the FPS genre.
Normally, I don’t care for stealth games, and Monaco is a harder stealth game than most. It’s also done really well, which has helped me put aside my distaste for the genre and get totally consumed by it. There are two things that make Monaco work: the non-linear levels rife with multiple ways to tackle them and the large roster of characters, each with their own special skills. That’s why co-op is so important here. You can tell this was meant to be played with others, though the difficulty of it almost makes me favor the single-player mode. At least then, I don’t have to worry about keeping a teammate alive or watching him/her walk right into a guard’s line of sight. Alas, you kind of need multiple players to take advantage of all the skills. It’s worth having someone who can knock down walls, someone who can hack computers, and someone who can see where the guards are. Monaco is too stylized for its own good, though, making it hard to follow the action or know what you can hide behind. Nonetheless, alone or with friends, this is probably the best 2D stealth game I’ve ever played.
Motocross Madness is like a combination of Joy Ride Turbo and Mad Riders but doesn’t really do anything better than these previous XBLA offerings. While I like the trick system, the avatar support, the weekly challenges, and the mix of races and exploration playgrounds, I don’t like the way it controls. The button layout isn’t great, and I wish they had included a way to customize it. Your bike also switches between feeling too slippery and too stiff. Whenever I tried to line myself up to go off a ramp, my bike would slide all over the place. On the other hand, just about every corner required jamming on the drift and brake buttons. And then something I couldn’t even see would knock me off my bike. It never made sense what terrain I could or couldn’t drive on. Sometimes, a ramp would send me into a mountain that looked like I could land on, but it would cause me to crash instead. It’s nice that you can unlock skills to help with this like being able to brake or steer in mid-air, but these skills don’t come soon enough. Sure, if you stick with the game, you will be rewarded eventually. Me, I’d rather not work towards having fun.
If you lined up all of these modern, 2D platformers according to their level of greatness, BattleBlock Theater would lie somewhere between N+ and LittleBigPlanet. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing Xbox owners will get to an LBP game. I say that, because the platforming “rules” are actually quite simple, but you’re essentially given the keys to the kingdom in terms of building your own levels, and it’s easy to share and download these creations. Combined with the story mode levels (a good amount on their own), there’s no shortage of content here. As for the gameplay, it feels like The Behemoth took the PDA mini-game from Alien Hominid and pumped it full of steroids, like this was their original vision for that game’s side mode. It’s got bigger levels, more enemies, power-ups, weapons, and a vast assortment of “blocks” that are continually rearranged in creative ways (and hopefully spark your own level design ideas). While the long wait for this game’s release may bring about some disappointment, platformer and Behemoth fans are still going to love it.