15 May 2009 Posted by STELLA


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Immense, over-the-top combos flow from the fingertips, unleashing all manner of visually enticing carnage with a precise, fluid feel. So entertaining is the combat, in fact, that it's easy to overlook what a wonderful achievement DmC is as a whole. ROTT's production values are about what you would expect from a budget game. The visual style is an unsettling hybrid of 1994 and 2013. Most of the levels merge together in a gray concrete blur permeated by overwhelming bloom and lens flare effects. The enemies are an unattractive hodgepodge of monks, tracked robots, and troops wearing surplus WWII uniforms. However, there are some bright spots. For example, the soundtrack rocks and really sets the mood for fast-paced FPS action. Additionally, there are some attractive levels that ditch underground military facilities for settings like monasteries with vibrant gardens. Whether you fight online or offline, and in all but the offline versus mode, you're rewarded with coins for your victories. They are used to buy your way up the Challenge Tower if you're stuck on any particular challenge, or purchase new content in the Krypt, which is a virtual graveyard-cum-shopping-mall. There's so much to discover in the mall, that you can end up spending a lot of time in there. Items such as concept art, character costumes, and music tracks can all be unlocked, as well as more practical things such as new fatalities and Kombat Kodes, which unlock new game modes such as Headless Kombat and No Blood. Not that firing weapons is that much more entertaining. The selection on offer mirrors what you'd find in Gears of War, but is styled like the futuristic fare from the Mass Effect series. There's a standard rifle, an enemy rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, and a few wild cards like a Gatling gun. The trouble is, not one of them is at all satisfying to use. The spray from each weapon is so imprecise, particularly the shotgun, that even at close range you're lucky to land one bullet, let alone enough to take down an enemy. Plus, the paltry weapon sounds and complete lack of heft and power to each shot make matters worse. Delve a little deeper, however, and you soon find that you need to devote serious time to learning all that this intricate example of modern warfare in a box has to offer. For instance, the game features hundreds of different units, each of which has been loaded up with detailed weapon modeling, armor ratings, firing ranges, and all sorts of other stats that are extremely helpful when you want to roll your T-72 tanks through the Swedish countryside. Units run the full gamut of, well, just about everything you would find on the air or land, with infantry, tanks, jets, choppers, bombers, AA guns, recon trucks, and so on. And ratchet up the complexity it does. After successfully creating a modest market, a rapidly growing town may try its hand at building a blast furnace, which has considerably loftier requirements. To help humans succeed at these more advanced endeavors, you need to create more advanced resources, which you do with the help of ambassadors the humans reward you with as thanks for helping them complete projects. When your giants have ambassadors riding on their shoulders, they gain access to a wider variety of abilities called aspects, which allow plants, animals, and minerals to be transmuted into more advanced sources. To make matters worse, the combat that ties the whole thing together remains largely unchanged from that of Dead Island, which is to say it's massively frustrating. The focus is on melee weapons, ranging from blunt objects like baseball bats and shovels, through to blades like carving knives and sickles. Most can be upgraded using items scavenged from around the island, with hidden blueprints giving you access to wilder designs. And initially

In South Park: Tenorman's Revenge, the foul-mouthed quartet (Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle) chase after Scott through time and space to snag the Xbox 360 hard drive he stole from them. Losing your saved games is certainly annoying, but the only people who are truly punished are those who play through this wretched ordeal. Amid the run-of-the-mill zombies who constantly block your path are more powerful mutants of various types. Cry babies have screams that can bring other zombies flocking to the area; monkey boys are quick and nimble; and hermits are encased in a thick layer of rock. But these mutants and the other sorts you encounter don't bring a sense of dread with them. Combat can be frustrating and tedious, but it never feels scary and rarely even feels dangerous. As a result, the appearance of mutants carries with it not excitement, but the apprehension that accompanies knowing you have to pump a lot more bullets into these particular zombies to get them out of your way. As you win battles, you earn experience points and periodically level up, which lets you upgrade your suit, gadgets, and combat skills. These upgrades have a real impact on gameplay and create a rewarding sense of growth as you advance through the game. Purchasing the batclaw disarm move, for instance, lets you yank weapons from enemies' hands, while the critical strikes upgrade rewards precise timing in battle with more powerful attacks that let you build up to special combo moves more rapidly. There are an impressive number of upgrade options to choose from, and you'll probably still be leveling up and unlocking upgrades well after finishing the main story. Frayed Knights does do a couple of things, besides humor, that are interesting. It has a minigame for disarming traps and opening locks. Dirk, your thief, can use 10-foot poles, acid, lock picks, and other items to solve traps. The minigame isn't very involved; you pick the items you want to use and apply them to the lock or trap. But it's more interesting than most lock-picking systems, if not as fun or challenging as the system in Two Worlds II. When picking a lock, you use a combination of items rather than just a lock pick. Some of these objects work better than others, and the fun comes from experimenting with them and seeing what works and what doesn't. Unlike in most of Telltale's previous adventures, you don't have an inventory here, and if your character picks up an object, he or she typically knows what to do with it. For instance, in an early scene in which Nima is hunting for the Barbasol canister, if you pick up a soda can, she automatically drops it down a slope and uses its trajectory to attempt to discern where the canister might have fallen. This keeps the action moving, but also makes you feel more like an actor hitting a predetermined mark than like a character in an unfolding adventure, and it means that Jurassic Park rarely offers the satisfaction that comes with untangling a tricky conundrum. All of these different modes and gameplay types look phenomenal, thanks to impressive technology and strong artistic design. A stirring soundtrack beautifully complements your journey, drifting between hard-edged riffs and delicate acoustics, depending on the situation. Best Smart Tools V3.03.00 that Drake's Deception attempts, it pulls off with flying colors. This is a beautiful, cohesive, and, most importantly, fun adventure that cements the Uncharted franchise as one of the best around. More of a good thing is welcome here. You'll laugh with joy, yelp with excitement, and, above all else, be thankful that you're playing something as expertly crafted as Drake's Deception. There are glimmers of entertainment here, though--moments of legitimate fun when things come together. Picking off one zombie after another in a series of headshots is a hoot thanks to the copious splatters of blood that erupt. Freeing a teammate from the grasp of a licker's snapping tongue instills a sense of camaraderie, as does healing multiple victims at once with a health spray. Then there are special abilities, like planting a mine and blasting an undead horde into smithereens, that give you brief moments of joy. And don't forget the brutal melee kills, which finish off zombies in fine fashion, even if the