Review | 7/31/2009 at 3:39 PM

Beyond Co-Op Reviews: July 2009


Battlefield 1943................................................................Page 2 by Jim McLaughlin
Band of Bugs................................................... .................Page 3 by Katrina Pawlowski
Tales of Monkey Island Episode One.................................Page 4 by Mike Katsufrakis
Red Faction: Guerrilla......................................................Page 5 by Nicholas Puleo
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor................................Page 6 by Jason Love
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen...........................Page 7 by Marc Allie Widgets

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


Battlefield 1943
Jim "txshurricane" McLaughlin
DICE- 360, PS3

To gauge a game's entertainment value by its price seems like an unfair thing to do. Yet we as gamers seem to have a knack for justifying the enjoyment of a game by mentioning its price tag. Battlefield 1943 is a victim of this justification system - is the game really worth playing, or is its review score contingent on an attractive price tag?

Fifteen dollars (or the foreign or Microsoft equivalent) is by no means that attractive of a price. Surely we've all found a bargain bin game that was once a day-one purchase for many other gamers...suppose that game only had four maps, two game modes, and was online-only? That's the case with Battlefield 1943.

Thankfully, the game's enjoyment wins out, and it is my firm opinion that fifteen dollars (or the equivalent thereof) is money well spent on this game. The core gameplay is time-tested and solid. In my experience, lag has been pretty much non-existent, with the exception of plane crashes, wherein it appears that the host server takes an extra half second to determine whether or not a plummeting 14,000-lb machine and pilot could possibly plunge into a hillside and survive.

The class system is reduced to three options for simplicity's sake. Regenerating health and ammo follow suit, and you can literally sprint the entire map a hundred times without faltering (at which point the batteries on your controller die). Friendly fire is "off", so griefers have no ground to stand on. The radar is easy to read, even more so now that the "Enemy Sighted!" tags have carried over from Battlfield Bad Company. The draw distance is decent, but the Frostbite engine seems to have trouble rendering destructible objects at a great distance, making sniping and high-speed plane piloting a bit troublesome at times. This is a minor gripe, as most of the combat takes place at shorter range anyway.

Slain soldiers and destroyed vehicles respawn fairly quickly; breathe a sigh of relief. Unless your team is comprised of super-soldiers that can last the entire match in a vehicle without chance of death, you'll get your desired jeep, plane, or boat within a reasonable amount of time. Likewise, you can jump straight back into the action, either alongside your squad leader (provided you voluntarily join a squad in-game) or at a friendly base or flag.

Battlefield 1943 isn't perfect, but it's great fun. The best part about it being a downloadable title is that you get a demo, and it's a beefy one: downloading the trial grants you full access for 30 minutes, which is plenty of time to sort out whether or not you like the price tag. (We're pretty sure you'll like it.)


Band of Bugs
Katrina "Shadokat Regn" Pawlowski
Ninja Bee - XBLA

Band of Bugs puts you in the shoes of a young royal bug named Maal, who is off to join the army as many other young bugs do. As a military leader, Maal has enlisted different types of bugs, each with different classes to help him out. You'll have an archer, a mage, flying bugs, and big powerful bugs by your side. As a turn based tactics game, you have to plan each attack very carefully according to each bugs strength - or, you'll likely end up pushed off a map or squashed like a bug.

Think of Band of Bugs as a chess game with bugs. Each bug can move a different number of squares, and over different types of terrain. For instance, a mosquito, while not very powerful, can "stand" on water or quicksand without any ill effects. While a beetle is much more powerful, but will drown if they tread over water. Likewise, bugs can attack at different ranges, with different effects. Keep your archers clear of danger by attacking from a distance with a risk to your accuracy, or sneak behind an enemy to deliver a devestating blow.

Band of Bugs is relatively forgiving for a tactics game, with simple controls and detailed walkthroughs - perfect for inexperienced gamers. There are also a fair amount of challenges for those that find the main quests a bit too simple. Each mission will give you a set task to move on, and optional objectives for that added challenge.

Brilliantly written dialog, as well as quirky bug characters gives Band of Bugs the type of personality that only NinjaBee Games can deliver. Check out the Soundtrack from NinjaBee for a preliminary taste of Bug. Band of Bugs is full of content and ongoing developer support - so, extend those gameplay hours with some DLC campaigns, or turn your Xbox avatar into a bug warrior!


Tales of Monkey Island Episode One: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
Mike "pheriannath" Katsufrakis
Telltale Games - PC/Wiiware

When I first got into PC gaming in a way other than the school-required Oregon Trail and Number Munchers sessions, I was loaned the disks for The Secret of Monkey Island, and I fell in love instantly. Along with the Monkey Island games, I became quite an avid adventure gamer, playing everything from Quest for Glory to Grim Fandango. Unfortunately, my favorite genre suffered a painful drought over the past decade or so, and it wasn't until Telltale Games came along and almost single-handedly resurrected the style that I began to hope for Lucasarts to wise up and make a new Monkey Island game. Well, it just happened, though not exactly as I would have expected.

The story picks up at the climactic showdown of an adventure Guybrush and company were having in the ten years since the previous game, and acts as a quick tutorial for the series. Without spoiling too much, you "defeat" series archnemesis LeChuck, and manage to split the principal cast up. Guybrush ends up stranded on Flotsam island, where the winds all blow inward, thus making escape impossible. Madcap pirate comedy ensues.

As a big fan of the series, Tales hits almost all the right notes for me- the subtle in-jokes got a lot of laughs, and the new story is just as entertaining. While the puzzle design is mostly solid, there is one in particular that is unnecessarily repeated, and though it's not a particularly difficult one, a camera issue can render the solution a little frustrating. The control system eschews the traditional point and click manner of (most) of the previous games for a sort of hybrid system- you can click on Guybrush and "pull" him in a certain direction with the mouse, use WASD/Arrow Keys or even a gamepad to maneuver about while interacting with items/menus with the mouse. It takes some getting used to, but with a static camera, it's a bit of an odd decision to remove such a series staple.

While I, as a fan, was thoroughly entertained throughout the episode, people new to the series will probably feel like it's finding its sea legs. With four more episodes to come, Telltale (as with all of their series thus far) will definitely hit their stride. Personally, I can't wait.


Red Faction Guerrilla
Nicholas "bapenguin" Puleo
Volition- PC, 360, PS3

The original Red Faction on the PC was a game that wowed people with its technology. It promised the destruction of any piece of environment - and it almost delivered. I spent many long hours digging holes into the caverns of mars with my rocket launcher just to see how far I could really deform the terrain, it was a magical moment in gaming for me. Red Faction Guerrilla is a reboot of the franchise, though the original game is mentioned at times through the story. It drops the first person viewpoint for a stronger story based open world shooter.

You'll be dropped into the action rather quickly in guerrilla, trusty sledgehammer in hand. With this you'll be able to bust your way through any building or wall - sadly the terrain isn't very deformable. As you smash buildings and objects you'll pick up salvage which is used to acquire and upgrade weapons. While the game is open world, you will be required to do enough side tasks to be able to unlock the final mission of each section. These side missions range from exploding key structures, rescuing trapped people, and defending fortifications. They are fun at first but do end up getting a bit repetitive. Early on only a few missions are required to progress, but as you dig deeper into the game you'll find more and more are required to unlock the tools needed to complete a mission.

The beauty in Red Faction Guerrilla comes in the game's pacing. You start the missions where and when you want, and there's just an overall build up throughout the entire game. There's plenty of vehicle action to keep things tense, and thanks to some crazy physics there's plenty of "oh my god" moments.

The game extends itself well to a handful of multi player modes which should keep you busy for a while. While the game isn't perfect, and it never quite brought back the magic of the original - it does stand on its own right.


Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Jason "OrigamiPanther" Love
Atlus- DS

Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series has come to envelop an array of games, each with its own RPG-style and story setting, that all manage to feel part of a larger whole. The most recent game in the series, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor on the DS, continues with this legacy by shifting to a RTS/RPG hybrid play style set in modern day Tokyo while retaining the best parts of the MegaTen series.

What stands out about Devil Survivor is its unique blend of RPG turn-based and RTS mechanics. When you engage a group of demons, you move parties (a human and two demons) one at a time across a grid until you’re within attack range of a demon. Combat then switches to a first person, turn-based style with each side getting one turn of attacks. Hitting an enemy with an attack they’re weak against means you may take away an enemy’s extra turn and gain an extra turn of your own, and vice versa. These extra turns could mean the difference between victory and defeat, and add a unique strategy element to the game.

While Devil Survivor still contains the demon recruiting/fusion of others in the series, it changes things up a bit here too. Demons are recruited through an auction house, which is constantly updated with new demons of varying types. These demons can then be leveled and fused as usual; however, there’s no Igor around to save all the demons you recruit so any you use to fuse are gone. While you can recruit the same demon via the auction house, you have to level them all over again.

Devil Survivor’s unique combat system alone would make it worth checking out, but the combat system mixed with the MegaTen flare and polish makes it a must have for the RPG fan on the go.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Marc "DjinniMan" Allie
Activision- 360, PS3

First things first: I am a big Transformers fan from way back. I loved the first movie, but hated the game. This time around, its the opposite. The second movie is a real dog (pun intended), but the tie in game is quite satisfying, and fixes most if not all of the first game's flaws.

Revenge of the Fallen consists of a story veryloosely based on the movie. The roster of playable characters includes mostly robots from the first film, with just a few newcomers. Autobot and Decepticon campaigns are both selectable from the beginning. These campaigns consist of a series of two or three level romps through different locations ranging from Shanghai to Cairo. Objectives for each level vary, but usually consist of blowing the other guys up, and often a good portion of the environment as well.

Each Transformer feels unique, with different weapons, stats, and special abilities that have a real effect on gameplay. Optimus Prime is extremely tough in close combat, and with his invulnerability power up, he can really cause some trouble. Bumblebee, on the other hand, lacks in melee, but his paralyzing EMP pulse, good speed, and impressive ranged weapons make him the perfect hit and run robot. For most missions, you can choose whichever robot you prefer, a definite improvement.

Every time you play through a level, you earn medals based on your time. In addition, you collect Energon from fallen foes, which can be used to upgrade your own squad in various ways. This adds quite a bit of replay value to the game. Both campaigns are on the short side, but being able to try to improve your time, earn energon, and fiddle with different characters will keep you coming back,

Adding to the value is the addition of online multiplayer over Xbox Live. A handful of different skirmish types are available. The Live experience makes for some fast paced, action packed, but "lite" class based competitive multiplayer.

Revenge of the Fallen is a surprisingly good game. It is quite polished and light years beyond the original. Fans of the Transformers will definitely find lots to enjoy here. For everyone else, it's a quick, casual game that still manages to be fun. Blowing stuff up as a giant robot has never felt so good.