Sonic 4: Episode 2 – Review

Sonic 4 Episode 1 was a pleasant surprise when it came out. Does Episode 2 live up to the expectations set by the first? Not exactly. 

It’s not entirely bad however, the gameplay refinements are nicely done, it does feel a lot more like Sonic 2 in terms of the momentum and feel. The graphics are appealing, nothing too fancy, but it’s nice. The tag team moves are fun, destroying stuff rolling in a ball was sweet, swimming and flying were alright, definitely makes it easier to navigate. Some of the boss battles start off by making you believe they are just rehashed old battles, but then reveal something entirely new, which was a cool touch. The chaos emeralds make a return to the classic half pipe style, Sonic 2 special stages. Honestly, these are the only good parts of the game I have to talk about, let’s move on to why I think the game is not great.

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Hockey Nations 2010 Review

The iPhone’s been out for awhile and there has been hockey games on the system, however none have been a full 6 on 6 game like this one. Developed by Distinctive Games this is their shot at the first full game of hockey on the app store, does it succeed as a great game? Not exactly, while the foundation of hockey is here, it lacks that special something while also suffering from problems.

The graphics are the best part of the game, when you get up close to the players, they don’t look great, but when the game is moving and you’re playing, it does the job fantastically. There’s only 1 arena, it doesn’t look great but it does the job, my only real problem with it is there’s no animation in the crowd. Menus look good, excellent in-game presentation with replays and text overlays for penalties and offsides and the such.

The sound is where it starts to fall apart. It’s not bad, it’s just pretty much non-existent. The menu music is generic guitar rock, the crowd murmurs through-out the game, only cheering for goals, nothing else. There’s no skate noises sadly, no hit noises and the only stick noise is on shots. You do hear the post when you hit it as well, but it doesn’t seem like anyone notices in the crowd.

The gameplay is a great first step. What’s there for $4 will entertain you for a good long time. I like scoring goals, playing is fun however there’s plenty of problems with it. Take that picture for example, if you ever see a goalie in this position, it’s going in the net, nothing’s going stop it. The goaltenders are bad, and I mean bad. They might as well be a brick barricade, those are as smart.

There’s 2 main modes, exhibition and tournament. Exhibition has play now, practice and shootout, while tourney has go for gold in which you have to seed a position before going into the brackets, or you can choose to skip the round robin seeding games. The faceoff is the first thing you’ll do either way, it’s a simple mini-game that a puck appears and you must touch it quickly. It does the job, nothing too fancy here, but faceoffs have never been a focus of hockey video games. The shootouts also has a similar mini-game for the goalie side of things, but either way that mode isn’t great, like I said the goalies are bad and it’s pretty much impossible to not stop the puck.

The controls are simple, you have an on-screen movement stick and 3 buttons. One will always be boost which you have a stamina meter for, and the other 2 will depend on the situation. On offense you have shoot and pass, both of which you can hold to perform stronger and on defense you have poke-check and body-check. You have very little control over the shots though, sometimes you’re left with a wide open net only to shoot it right on the goalie.

The first time you’ll play this, you might think the AI overall is cheap and does stuff you cannot. For example it catches up to you very quickly and takes the puck away fast as well. Their passes also seem awfully accurate when compared to yours. But as you play you’ll noticed you have similar skills. The hitting pretty much floats you to your closest opponent without wasting any stamina and then once you’re there, you can poke-check the puck away quite easily.

The rules are also another place this title needs work. The offsides work when you pass the puck, however if you skate it into the zone with a delayed offside, nothing happens. The icings are also wrong, they only call them when the team that dumps the puck in, touches it up. Another thing when I had a delayed penalty, I was able to touch the puck and and roam around, which shouldn’t happen. Also the opposing team scored while I had a delayed penalty, which would normally cancel out the infraction, but that didn’t happen.

Anyways it’s a great game when you consider that it’s on your phone. Comparing it to a console game brings nothing and it’s about time we get this! It can only get better from here, not only am I looking forward for 2011’s version, but Distinctive have already announced plans to update this year’s title with improvements and additions. I would easily suggest this to anyone looking for a hockey game for their phone. You can get it on the app store page.

Gangstar: West Coast Hustle (iPhone) – Mini-Review

So looking at the screen above, yes before you even ask, this is pretty much a GTA knock-off. It’s released by Gameloft, who keep pumping out a stream of pretty good games for the iPhone, is this one worth getting? So first of all the graphics are really nice, just looking at them is stunning, but they’re not prefect. The major problem with them is clipping happens often, and sometimes I just teleport at higher levels when I walk. If you don’t know what I mean sometimes when I walk up to a building, instead of getting stopped, I go on top of it. The physics are also a little wacky, especially with cars hitting jumps is awkward, turning is loose and you can drive through small objects like trees and light posts. Outside these minor problems however, these are some good looking graphics.

The sound leaves alot to be desired. The only real thing you can hear from the car sounds are the engine, there’s no skidding sounds. Then there’s the radio, which is basically just midi music, some might sound like popular songs you know. The only real thing of substance here is the radio commercials, that try to rip-off the funny GTA ones but for the most part fail.

The gameplay is where it’s at. There are many annoyances with it, but considering it’s running on your cell phone is amazing. The cops are brutally stupid, same thing with the enemies. They pretty much are programmed to only run towards you and shoot or punch, which means if there’s an obstacle in their way, they’ll just keep running in it and be stuck there.

So you can get a 3 badge rating and as long as you’re driving the cops are hard on you. The way you clear your wanted level is to stay out of sight for a bit or pick up badge power-ups.

The missions aren’t that varied, you get the basic drive here, do this and drive back missions, although you do get some pretty sweet moments in it. Some of these include sniping missions, photography missions, interrogation missions, these are truly to best ones in the game.

The controls and aiming systems are well done. When you’re on foot you have a virtual analog stick and an attack button, and in-car it varies. You can use tilt steering, on-screen wheel or a bar then for the throttle it’s either gas and brake icons or a bar. I preferred using the bars only because it’s more analog, with the gas and brake it’s basically full speed ahead!

The aiming’s an auto-lock system where you click touch who you want to shoot at, you can rotate your camera angle how ever you want by sliding your finger or thumb.

Story is not this game’s strong point, I loved the opening chapter but the rest felt stale and didn’t engage me at all. So you’re freshly out of jail from Mexico and now in the states with your hommie trying to build up rep.

I would recommend this game, but don’t go in expecting GTA 3 or anything. If you really want that, I’d say wait for Chinatown Wars which Rockstar has announced it’s coming to the iPhone in the near future.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour (iPhone) Mini-Review

Tiger Woods is EA’s yearly golfing game and this marks the first attempt at bringing it to the iDevices. They have introduced an amazing swing mechanic, truly this is the best reason to get this game. So you swipe your finger down for your power, and upwards for your accuracy. The subtleties is what makes this awesome, for example to fade or draw your shot, you need to draw a curve.

Where the many, many problems of Tiger Woods begins is it’s difficulty, it’s just too easy. Even with the fantastic controls here, you’d think from here on out, it’s smooth sailings, but it isn’t. The putting may as well just be automatically done every time, regardless of whether you’re 5 feet or 50 feet away, odds are you’ll nail the putt. The physics are a little weird I find, the ball rolls a bit much, sand traps could be stickier, but worst of all the flag stick has zero affect on your ball.

In terms of graphics, I only really have 1 game to compare it with and that’s Let’s Golf. This doesn’t even come close, it doesn’t look good and has many issues with clipping. One time, I saw a golfer walk out of a bunker by walking through a hill. The golfers always acknowledge the crowd after a good shot, even though there is no one there. You love the camera angles? Great, because you’ll keep seeing the same ones over and over.

The game only has 3 characters but allows you to “create” one. I say that in quotes because you get 1 male face, 1 female face, a short and long sleeve shirt and then your choice of pants or shorts. That’s it, plus you can’t remove the hat. There’s zero unlockables, although you can edit stats with the money you earn in PGA tour mode. For whatever reason however, it’s not in the PGA tour menu, you have to go to options and edit them there. You can spend all your money and then have no money left over for tournaments, but that’s o.k., that play now option also earns you money, which the game just totally ignores and doesn’t tell you.

I don’t want to be all bad about it but seriously, I can’t be too positive about it, even the sound sucks. The damn irons make the ping noise the drivers make, what the fuck!?

Anyways there’s a great game lying under here but right now, the only way to have fun with this game is with friends, up to 4 as a matter of fact. It has 7 courses to play on which is great, but for the price tag of $9.99, this is not worth it.

Payback (iPhone / iPod Touch) – Mobile Review

Payback

So this is my first review with a new format ever since I started writing, back in 2002. I will try to highlight the best of the best parts, and the worst of the worst and garble all that info up and give you a score out of 5.

Payback is a GTA-style top down game for the iPhone. You get 3 modes of play, story which strangely contains barely no story and it’s missions through 6 chapters. It starts off slow however it does ramp up near the end, moving on to the next mode, Challenge. This mode give you a mission at a time and you play them till you die. Rampage is essentially a mode stolen from GTA, you just kill and cause as much wrath as possible. There’s 11 maps total maps.

Controls are spot on for this title. You have a punch/shoot/attack button, a enter/leave vehicle button and a left and right direction button. Left and right are controlled with the accelerometer, which means you tilt it. There’s even a mini on-screen steering wheel that let’s you know how much you’re tilting.

Paypack Image 2

The graphics are pretty great except for the few exceptions. The cop cars look like shit, quite frankly, I can’t believe how shitty it is compared to the other cars. Some buildings look strange, the landscape at some spots overlap each other. Fences are near invisible at spots and so are light posts at times. There’s no animation what-so-ever besides for walking so, opening a car door? Punching a cop? Standing next to a light pole? I don’t know, they all look the same. Entering vehicles is also problematic, sometimes it doesn’t look like you make it in, but you do anyways, They’re just small nagging things that overall, still makes a fine looking game. For example, explosions look fantastic as does, smacking a pedestrian with your car.

The gameplay is a mixed bag. Driving feels good however crashing isn’t, there’s no excitement behind hitting a cop car, unless your using a tank of course. The big letdown with driving is… driving fast, is damn near impossible. I’ll just quickly mention there’s a helicopter, tank and boat, they all control fine.

The on-foot controls aren’t bad when you’re moving around, and shooting isn’t terrible either, it’s just hard. It all depends where you are in the game, in the Rampage mode you mostly always have shit to roll up people with. In the Story mode the beginning is rather slow, but it picks up near the end.

Payback 3

Getting away from the cops is pretty easy, as the actual police AI is bad. If you ram a cop car, they won’t do anything, it just seems weird. The only thing they do is, they sorta chase you around and set up road blocks. At times they get aggressive, but that happens less often then I’d like it to.

The sound is lackluster, what’s there is excellent, beside some dialog like “here’s 20,000 points” but there’s not enough of it there. The music is hit-or-miss, but there isn’t enough here nor is there enough variety. I really enjoyed “Headlights”, which is in the video, but no other stand outs.

Overall this game is a get’er. 4/5 for version 1.02, if they end up fixing the nagging visual problems and minor gameplay hitches, you can bet I will update the score.

Top 3 PROS:
– Graphics overall are great
– Full soundtrack
– Intriguing missions, especially near the end

Top 3 CONS:
– Not enough music
– Cops are kind of stupid
– DRIVING FAST IS IMPOSSIBLE!

So to repeat myself 4/5!

You can get this game via the appstore on iTunes right here for $6.99!