Review | 1/12/2009 at 4:07 PM

Beyond Co-Op Reviews: January 09 - Fallout 3, Persona 4, Prince of Persia and More!


It's our second month of Beyond Co-Op Reviews and we've got some great games on tap for you.  This months reviews are written by Nick Puleo, Marc Allie, Mike Katsufrakis and Jason Love!



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Explanation of Scores:

 - Golden Billy - This is a must buy title.  Truly excellent in almost everyway.

 - Silver Billy - A solid title with a few flaws.

 - Bronze Billy - An ok title.  You might not want to pay full price for this game


360, PS3, PC


After imposing what I like to refer to as “The Darkening” upon the Sands of Time trilogy, Ubisoft rightfully decided that the series needed a reboot, and what a glorious job they have done! Taking visual cues from the works of Hayao Miyazaki and control philosophy from Assassin’s Creed, as well as liberal doses of Ico and Okami, the game is a joy to explore. Graphically, especially from an artistic standpoint, this game stands alone. Vibrant, painterly colors explode from your screen as you explore the fantasy kingdom of the Auhra.

Gone is the time reversal of the Sands trilogy. In its place is Elika, your partner throughout the adventure. Whenever you are in mortal danger, Elika will step in and save you, the animation of which you will quickly realize is replacing your standard “reload from checkpoint” mechanic. As you effortlessly maneuver from platform to platform, you will often use Elika’s magic to increase the length of your jumps or make use of magical plates to traverse great distances.

Combat is most definitely not the star of the show in Prince of Persia, nor should it be. All of the fights are one-on-one affairs, and usually boil down to recognizing your enemy’s pattern of attack, and dialing in a combo of attacks that, while laced with visual flair, can become quite repetitive.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of this title will come from how much you buy into the world, your desire to explore every nook and cranny of the environments, and your attachment to the Prince and Elika. Theirs is one of the best videogame relationships I’ve seen in a long while, and I look forward to seeing where this series takes them.


 Rating: Widgets



I've always been a fan of the senseless action that Metal Slug games provide. The beautiful 2D sidescrolling games have always had a place in my heart. The latest game in the series for the Nintendo DS is no exception to the rule.

Like previous game, Metal Slug allows you to a choose a character and take him or her through the MS world. These worlds feature richly detailed backdrops loaded with enemies. Little intricate objects made up of only a few pixels are everywhere, and while that might sound like a distraction, it really adds a ton of personality to the game. The animation are crisp and smooth, and the gameplay is tense.

With 7 stages and a ton of "Combat School" modes MS7 will keep you busy for quite some time, but we can't help but feel something is missing. Oh right, multiplayer co-op. Yup this game has absolutely none whatsoever. We simply can't believe they ommitted this.

This Metal Slug may possibly be the best one to date, just don't expect to have any friends join in on the fun.


 Rating: Widgets

360, PC, PS3


Bethesda is a company that seems to specialize in the open world RPG genre. With Morrowind and Oblivion under their belt they moved on to a franchise they recently acquired in Fallout 3. While fans of the series hoped for a more tried and true sequel with an isometric view game, instead they got something that Bethesda already does well; which holds true for Fallout 3.

Starting the game as a survivor of the nuclear war in a vault, you make your way to a the giant outside world in the area around and in Washington D.C. While the game is loaded with grays and browns, everything shows a lot of style as humans attempt to make due in theradioactive wasteland. Shacks built from scrap metal, forts built in radio stations, and towns built on highway overpasses all add to the game's personality.

The battle system in Fallout 3 is a hybrid of real time and/or V.A.T.S. The latter allows players to pause the action and focus on specific enemies and specific parts of enemies to do some truly massive damage. Fallout 3 isbrutal with blood and gore exploding just about everywhere, combined with the physics systems make for some truly sickly hilarious moments. My personal favorite is seeing how far I can make certain body parts fly.

There are flaws to be had, namely the story is fairly short without any particularly high or low points. There's plenty of side quests to complete thankfully. The other problem is the game is a bit of an exercise in inventory management, with constant healing of your character as well asmanaging your weapon states and weight.

With the freedom to play the game however you want, and four different endings there's a ton of meat here for your sixty dollars. Bethesda once again proves they are the masters of the open world RPG.


 Rating: Widgets



Skate It! brings the Skate franchise to the Wii. As the game begins, you learn that a meteor has hit the city, for some reason, and thus it's empty, wrecked, and ripe for the skating. You are joined by a radical and truly EXTREME camera guy, who comments on all your moves. No one else is to be found, which leaves you alone to skate all over the place.

As you'd expect for a Wii title, there are several control schemes. You can use a Wiimote alone, pair a Wiimote and nunchuck, or even dust off your Wii Balance Board. In theory, there should be something for everyone here. However, in practice, that's not the case. Using the Balance Board sounds fun, but the level of precision required to activate one of six different areas on the board is quite frustrating. Using just a Wiimote is nifty at first, as you tilt it to control your own board, and flick it to perform tricks. However, as with most motion controls, the consistency is suspect. We found ourselves using the Wiimote and nunchuck control scheme almost all the time. It's unfortunate that the other schemes just don't hold up.

Graphically, the game is adequate, but nothing earth-shattering. The levels are designed fairly well. Gameplay gets repetitive, with far too little variety tossed in. The fact that you never interact with or even see other skaters contributes to the sense of sameness. All in all, if you can get past the control issues, there's a fair game here, but I can't recommend it at full price unless you are a real fan of skateboarding games and only own a Wii.


 Rating: Widgets



Aquaria was a game I had heard about close to a year ago, but I passed it by because there was so many other games to play. With its recent release on Steam I thought I’d finally play it, and man I wish I had picked it up sooner. Everything about this indie title is simply beautiful. From the music, to the scenery, to the story and characters, Aquaria is one of those games that manages to completely draw you into its world. The premise of Aquaria is that you are Naija, a sea dweller that lives happily in a serene corner of the ocean and has no recollection of her past. Her idyllic life is suddenly disturbed by an odd event and she discovers that a dark mystery waits for her in the world beyond her small corner of paradise.

While the story and setting are both refreshing, Aquaria’s gameplay is fairly familiar and can best be compared to Metroid. You’ll swim from one area of the world to the next earning abilities that grant access to new areas while the mystery behind what happened to Naija’s world and her past starts to unravel. While I’m a fan of Metroidvania-type games, all that traveling can get a bit tedious at times. Some of that tedium is abated thanks to a warp system and the interesting way Naija activates her abilities. In Naija’s world there is a force that runs throughout known as “The Verse”. Naija is so attuned to this force that she can manipulate it through songs that allow her to lift objects, transform, and summon aid. Fortunately, all the songs can be accessed from the menu so there’s no need to memorize or write them all down somewhere. While it might sound silly to get your powers through a little ditty, it fits perfectly into the game and gives it a more unique feel.

Aquaria delivers an engaging and interesting story with some fantastic visuals, a great soundtrack, and a unique ability mechanic. I definitely recommend giving it a playthrough.


 Rating: Widgets



Do you like Japanese RPGs? Do you like Scooby-Doo? Have you ever wished you were a Japanese teenager? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, boy do I have the game for you! The world of Persona 4 centers around a group of teenagers trying to solve a series of mysterious disappearances and murders in their rural Japanese town. What sets Persona apart from other standard JRPGs is the fact that you live out every day of the main character's life, day by day.

On any given day, you might attend class, explore a dungeon, go fishing, go on a date, show up to soccer practice, or even plan a day trip with your family. Hanging out with different people regularly helps boost your stats or in some cases, allows you to form a strong bond with a character, called an S-Link. S-Links determine your ability to use/create summoned Personas, which are the proxies by which your characters' abilities are determined. The dungeon crawling is fairly straightforward, as you're given a set amount of game days to defeat all of the content, but the battles are a rarity in modern JRPGs: they're tough but fair, and ultimately very rewarding. The action is fast-paced and rewards exploration of the battle mechanics in creative ways.

The absolute best part of Persona 4, however, is the stellar localization that Atlus USA has given the title. The game takes place in Japan, and such things as honorifics are not censored in favor of "dumbing down" the content for a non-Japanese audience. If nothing else, through playing this game you'll gain a much deeper insight into some aspects of Japanese culture, and the quirky, likeable characters will entertain you for the 60-80 hours of goodness contained within.


 Rating: Widgets