Family Game Night 3 Review

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It’s time to look at an old party game I have for the PS3. Oddly enough, even though I played the games back in the day I never bothered to actually upload it to the site or anything. Well, it was a good excuse to go back and replay the game for the review, but unfortunately it isn’t as good as I remembered it and I already knew that it was a bad game. I dare say that this could be the worst party game of them all and that’s saying something. At the very least it gives the bottom tier ones some competition.

There are 5 minigames total. That’s already a pretty sad number when you consider that this is a PS3 game. I mean, you could have a little excuse for this if it was for an older system, but for the PS3 I expect more. There is nothing else to do in this game so if you’re looking for some good replay value look elsewhere. I mean, I suppose you could go after the Platinum trophy, but you’ll have to sink in a decent amount of hours for that and with how many luck based trophies there are it could be a while. I think you can cheese most of them through two player mode if it helps. You will also be gathering some Potato Head costumes along the way which I guess should be interesting.

Lets look at the actual games though as a party title lives or dies on those. We’ll start with 2 of the good ones. The first is Twister. It’s pretty self explanatory except they misspelled Dance Dance Revolution. After all this Twister game is nothing like Twister. You hit the right buttons as they pass the screen. It’s the exact gameplay of a DDR game, but without having to actually dance and hit the buttons yourself. It’s an easier way of doing it, but less engaging. Still, on its own I actually like this minigame. There was a reasonable amount of effort put behind it and the core gameplay is just fun. Not to mention that there is less waiting on this one since I believe each player tries to match the notes simultaneously.

The next minigame is Yahtzee. This one must be easy to develop or something since it seems to be the old standby for pretty much all of the party games on the block. Well, that’s not a bad thing I suppose since the gameplay isn’t half bad. The problem is that they add a Hands Down! mechanic where you have to get a certain combo and then fight someone with the same one. I don’t get the point of this and it just takes away some of the fun. It drags the games out more than they should be since it forces everyone to keep going until 2 people have the exact card combination. Of course dragging things out is exactly what this game likes to do as you’ll see in the next 3 games.

Next up we have got Mouse Trap which is basically a movie. You roll the dice and move through the board that has no ending. The goal is to pick up a lot of cheese which you get by landing on a cheese spot. Thing is, you can’t control anything except for dodging some traps by pressing x at the right time. Beyond that, you just follow the dice and keep on rolling until you get your cheese. This can take over 15 minutes, likely longer if you play multiplayer. The problem is that the cheese traps take your cheese away and the odds of getting a lucky roll to land on the cheese 6 times is quite low. At least, it’s low if you want to finish at a reasonable time. I think my problem with this is that you aren’t really doing anything so is it really a game at that point? It’s 100% luck and that’s not cool. There is absolutely no point to the game and it takes too long to finish. Making it more interactive would have helped a lot.

Life falls into the same traps. This one has you on a long, straight board without any real mixups or elements to make it interesting. You want to retire and whoever does so first wins. So, to do that you spin the dice and watch where the road takes you. You do get some slight options like choosing 3 cards out of 9 but they are all random so you can’t see what it is anyway and then you pick your favorite card which will give you some effects. You won’t know which effect you’ll be getting though since you have to wait until you roll the dice for that. Everything is just so random and nothing is explained properly. It’s another really boring auto game where nothing is happening.

Finally we have Clue. This one is a slight improvement over the last 2 but not by much. At least you are trying to solve a case and you can choose in what direction you move. On the other hand, a lot of time is wasted for the many special effects that happen every turn. Whenever someone turns on the lights we get a cutscene and either a suspect is eliminated or one of the players will lose a turn. Either way it takes up time and if someone rolls a house party effect then everyone is reset back to their original positions. This is the longest cutscene by far as it’s almost a full minute and the computer activated it multiple times during our encounter. The minigame is pretty faithful to the board game, but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Family Game Night just didn’t realize how to make the board games fun in video game format and that is the big problem here. The game could and should have been a lot of fun, but instead it is just too drawn out. There are also loading times between every game that take up a lot of time. It’s the same cutscene for each loading time as well which doesn’t help matters. Each game also gets an unskippable intro that isn’t as amusing as it seems to think it is. The game is definitely not optimized.

As far as the graphics go, it’s certainly not PS3 level. I doubt that a lot of serious effort was put into this game. It was probably slapped together very quickly and rushed out to stores for the $$$. Hopefully it didn’t work as I can’t imagine buying it for full price and then realizing how terrible it was. At least Game Night 4 heavily improved upon this game but there is still no excuse for starting out this badly. At least give us a good soundtrack!

Overall, This game is brutal. I’m not going to mince words here, the game is terrible! There’s no heart behind the game and the actual game selection is bizarre. You shouldn’t have 3/5 of the games be all about rolling the dice and hoping that you get the right number. It probably saves on production costs since the games are so similar, but it’s not great from a player perspective. There won’t be any point where you are actually enjoying this game enough to justify buying it. I highly recommend avoiding it and if you want a decent party game check out the Mario Party series. That one gets in a proper balance of skill and luck while also making sure that no minigame overstays its welcome. That’s how you make a party game.

Overall 3/10

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Split Second Review

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It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan Review

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It’s been a while since I played a Ninja Turtles game. Platinum has been doing a good job with their titles and they are well known for their combat mechanics so this definitely looked like a fun adventure. Reviews have not been kind to it, but this is definitely a solid game. It may not be quite as polished as their Transformers title or Bayonetta, but it’s definitely still a solid game. Platinum leaves their signature combat mechanics and level of difficulty on this title so don’t expect it to be a walk in the park.

The Turtles are called back into action when their old villains start to make some moves. Alien Invasions, Bank Robberies, and more things occur as the villains continue their onslaught of attacks. What is their goal and are these just distractions? The turtles will have to stay on their toes if they don’t want to be caught off guard, but can they really hope to defeat the Shredder? The plot is fairly standard for the TMNT and it doesn’t go for anything grand, but it’s possible that it’s meant to feel like a normal episode. To an extent, that’s what Platinum seems to do for their retro games.

While the gameplay is fairly intricate, I don’t think it’s all that good. The way that the buttons are configured does take quite a bit of time to get used to. You may have beaten the game by then so I suppose it could be useful for the second run through. R2 is to block and evade while attacking is with the SQ button. You can also throw shruiken with L1 although that is really never necessary. It is good for getting some trophies like blowing up cameras though. It’s just very difficult to utilize the blocking button on instinct with how quick the villains strike and how odd of a button it is. I’d prefer for blocking to be R1, but you can possibly switch that somewhere.

You do have quite a few options for attacking though and a lot of ninjutsu can be purchased. I personally liked Stealth Mode, Combo Attack, Super Shruiken, and Healing Circle for my set. You can have 4 at a time. Charms can also be equipped, but they didn’t make much of a noticeable difference. I may just need to buy better ones. You can switch between turtles at any time and you only lose a level if all 4 of them are defeated at once. In that case, you are taken back to the lair to eat some pizza and recharge your strength before going back to the level. For most levels, you are taken back to the exact point of time in which you died, but some bosses regain their full health. It seems to depend on the level.

There are a lot of collectibles and trophies so obtain so there is a solid amount of replay value here. That’s definitely a good thing because the campaign isn’t all that long. It’s around 4 hours, which is quickly becoming the average for games nowadays. That, or maybe games were always that short and I never noticed. Maybe that’s why people love RPGs so much. If nothing else, they’re always long, but I gotta admit that turn based gameplay can also be a real blast as well. Seriously, I love grinding those level ups. There are over 50 trophies so it should take you a while to collect them all. I only got 11 of them while beating the game. Most of them aren’t hard though, but simply rely on repetition. Play the levels again and again enough times and you’ll earn most of them. For example, one of them is saving 10 pizza trucks. I maybe saved one during the whole game. It’s partially chance that you end up getting that mission which is what makes it a little tricky. I’m not a huge fan of that and some trophies are tricky and may require online help from other players. It’s a doable Platinum, but not an easy one by any means.

As per usual, Platinum hits us with a great soundtrack. The rock themes are always a blast to have even if it seemed like the game started to reuse them a little after a while. It’s fine, I’ll still take this over 70% of boss fights in the average games. A good theme can go a long way. That being said, the actual boss fights could be a little annoying at times. I feel like the bosses had too much health and our attacks didn’t deal enough damage. It could take quite a while to take some bosses down and I can only imagine what it’s like on Hard Mode since they gain even more health on that difficulty. Each level isn’t all that long with the boss taking the most time, but it does hurt the replay value of the level a little. Especially with the annoying bosses like Wingnut.

Graphically the game looks good. There is only 1-2 day-time levels though so the graphics usually have it a little easy in the dark. It’s not as impressive as Transformers Devastation by any means, but it certainly doesn’t look bad. The graphics will suffice. Whether it was a glitch or not, a funny thing occurred during the final level though. The game actually replayed an old cutscene in its entirety. For a second there I thought I had clicked on the wrong level, but nope, it still ended up being in the right place. So…what’s up with that? It wasn’t a particularly good cutscene either which was unfortunate.

They reuse a lot of gags in the story mode even though it’s fairly short. For example, Michelangelo always wanting pizza. The turtles should be used to it, but they still act a little surprised and reprimand him each time. I mean, the Turtles are known for this and it’s supposed to be nostalgic I suppose, but this definitely wasn’t my favorite portrayal of them. Leonardo definitely looked the best as he was down to business and had a plan each time. Splinter isn’t quite as good as he seems rather nervous the whole time and subtly recommends retreating for a little while. Seeing Shredder actually be a lackey for once was also rather interesting. Krang’s the boss this time eh? He’s certainly moving up the ranks and if he also calls the shots in the new live action film, maybe he will eventually replace Shredder in that role completely.

I tried going to the online mode, but nobody was online. That’s not a good sign considering how new the game is, but I may have just missed everyone. The online mode is basically a way to play the game co-op, so I imagine there is not a whole lot of incentive for people to do that besides the trophies. Local Co-Op should have been a thing. This isn’t bad if you have a friend who is far away, but it’s definitely not optimal. I suppose TMNT fans will still be thrilled that the series finally has a new game. Granted, it wasn’t amazing, but this game is still a big improvement from games like De Blob and maybe it’ll get a sequel at some point. Platinum doesn’t really do sequels very often, but you never know.

Honestly, I’d probably say that this game does lose to the rest of the TMNT games that I’ve played except for the PSP title. They’re all fairly close, but the Gamecube game was just a little more fun and the plot was certainly a lot more intense. Being related to the 2003 show helped quite a bit as well. It just shows that the series sets the bar rather high though. Transformers is also held at a high level, but each game tends to be roughly equivalent to the rest. Likewise with TMNT, but in the end its weak plot and less likable characters hurt it a bit.

Overall, This is a solid TMNT game, but not one that I’d really recommend for 60 dollars. There’s not enough content here to justify the price, but once it goes down then I’d definitely recommend snagging it. It’s essentially a beat em up with today’s graphics and that’s always fun. In the end, the plot may not have been great, but the most important part is still the gameplay and that’s solid. There are a lot of attacks to mess around with and for those who like difficult games, you’ll get a kick out of this. I lost quite a few times, but luckily the other turtles would revive me. I only had my full team lose twice, but if you don’t adapt and block a lot, prepare for that total to go up quite a bit.

Overall 7/10

Ratchet and Clank A Crack in Time Review

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Ratchet and Clank is finally back with their next installment! The time trilogy effectively ended here, but little did we know that another one would come out soon. No worries, I’ll certainly be buying that one soon. I do own Ratchet and Clank All 4 One so you can expect me to start that one at some point, but I shall be switching consoles to work on another game for now. Ratchet and Clank is one of those franchises that has never had a bad game. My least favorite would be Secret Agent Clank and that was still a solid title. The series has been getting better and better as it consistently gets 8 stars from me nowadays.

The last game ended with Clank being kidnapped and Ratchet vowing to find his little sidekick. Ratchet is forced to work alongside Captain Qwark and he also meets a fellow Lombax who still lives. The Lombax wants to use the legendary clock of time to alter the past and save Ratchet’s family. Meanwhile, Clank is now the ruler of the clock and he learns how to manipulate time. The problem is that the clock is not meant to alter past or future events so Clank needs to make sure that nobody uses it to affect the past or future. That includes Dr. Nefarious, who wants to spread destruction and chaos throughout the timestream. All of the players are getting ready to make their moves so there is a lot on the line this time.

As always, Ratchet and Clank is a blast and a half to play. One of the main reasons why it is an all star title is because you can simply plug and play at any time. The plot is engaging enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, but also simple enough that you can take a 6 month break and still understand what is happening. The only part of the game that can be considered a little dull is the Clank segments, but we still get some witty burns from the side characters. Manipulating time is also really fun and that never gets old.

The graphics look very good and you can immediately tell that this is a PS3 level game. The developers really put in their best effort as the gameplay and cutscenes easily hold up well. Everything is colorful and vibrant, which is great since you are typically in high tech areas or in space. It’s like Sony’s version of the Mario Galaxy titles. The soundtrack is a little more on the forgetful side. I can’t say that any of the themes really stood out to me and you’ll likely forget them very quickly. That’s probably the game’s only real weak point and at least none of the tracks are actually bad.

Ratchet is still a great main character. He’s heroic with a good personality as he doesn’t back down for any opponent. I expected him to be a little more upset at the guy who tried to destroy him, but Ratchet really didn’t want to have to destroy the fellow. I wonder if Ratchet’s father will ever appear or if he is truly lost to the cosmos. Only time will tell I suppose. Clank’s a nice sidekick and he’s a good character. I’ve never been crazy about him compared to the other sidekicks, but I’ve grown to like his sense of humor a little more and he made the right decision at the end of the game. You certainly couldn’t ask for a more loyal partner and seeing as how he beats Bentley, Murray, and Daxter, he really is the best sidekick in this area. I wouldn’t mind if Clank got another game to himself.

Captain Qwark is also a fun guy to have around. He’s a superhero and he is legitimately tough as he destroys many opponents with his physical strength. He just has a bad habit of overrating himself and Qwark loves to be in the spotlight. Deep down, he’s a good guy and his joking just masks that. He’s still one of the best characters in the series and I would really miss his banter if he was gone. Qwark may not always be on the side of justice, but he helped save the universe in this game and we won’t be forgetting that anytime soon.

Azimuth is a new character for the game and he really hits it off with Ratchet. The lombax’s design is very similar to Kratos, which is cool. He even acts a little like the guy as he is always ready for a fight and is a fierce general. The game implies that he is almost as skilled as Ratchet and maybe even a little more. I like to think that Ratchet would win in a fight though. You will likely find this guy suspicious from the start, but his team ups with Ratchet were a lot of fun. Finally, we had another fighter on our side!

The main villain was Lord Nefarious and his butler was around as well. Nefarious seems to be one of the more popular Ratchet and Clank villains. I can’t say that he’s one of the better ones for me, but he is a robot so at least he can fight on his own without throwing minions at you or hiding. Nefarious can fire energy blasts and he does come very close to destroying the universe. He even captures Ratchet and the others at one point, which is no small feat. He has a habit of shorting out and then a video will play, but that’s why Nefarious has his butler! The butler can be a little defiant at times, but he still seems loyal in the long run.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard third person shooter. The series has a lot of experience with it so it runs very smoothly. There aren’t many games that can hold a candle to it in this style. You get a large variety of guns that you can use by the end and each one works a little differently. I mostly loved the rockets, mini bombs, and my trusty blaster. You can also use your wrench to fight. It’s a little riskier, but it does a lot of damage as a result. If you have faith in your speed, I say go for it! The gameplay is very fast paced and exciting so you should certainly enjoy it a lot.

As for replay value, the game has a lot of that. There are the trophies to unlock of course and there are many collectibles to conquer along the way. There are multiple tournaments to complete and even a Challenge Mode to conquer once you have wrapped up the game once. The story mode will likely take you around 5-6 hours to complete, but the replay value should at least triple that although I’d expect around 20-25 hours unless you manage to take everything down on your first shot. That’s a reasonable length and the game is so fun that it would be worth the purchase even without the replay value.

It’s safe to say that Ratchet and Clank is probably the best shooter that Sony’s got. This series has always been top of the line and I look forward to getting caught up with the franchise in time for the film. It’s lightly possible at any rate. While Kingdom Hearts may still take the title of “best ongoing series with Sony” Ratchet and Clank would be right behind them at second. This isn’t really counting fighting games, but just platformers, shooters, and the other genres. I’m hoping that Ratchet and Clank has another big game coming up aside from the remake of the first title. That will be cool as well of course, but a big one to continue the plot would be a lot of fun. (Unless they really are rebooting the games. In which case, it shall be missed!)

Finally, another big reason as to why Ratchet and Clank is so good is due to the writing. We’re talking 5 stars here as the writing is dynamite. The characters are all rather clever. They don’t talk constantly during gameplay like in the Spider Man games, but they really get to shine in the cutscenes. I think it’s safe to say that the video game series wouldn’t be nearly as legendary without the great script that is always present.

Overall, I highly recommend purchasing this game. Whether you are new to the franchise or already own the other games, this is a title that you do not want to miss. It is a complete video game that has everything that you could possibly want. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is some of the best in the video game world. I could easily play the game over again given how much fun it is. Someday, I will to get the Platinum trophy in this game, but it’ll likely be a long while until then. The next game is going to have a very tough time beating this title, but we should never underestimate Ratchet and Clank.

Overall 8/10

Madden 2013 Stats and Records

My stats in the game!

12/42 Trophies
PS3 Trophy% 17%

The rest of the stats only cover my online appearances.

Online Record 5-4
Points Scored vs Against 150-195
H2h Skill Points 506
Skill Level 1
Avg Off TDs 1.75
Avg FG 1.62
Avg Def TD .25
Offensive Ypg vs Allowed 216.12-289.38
Avg Off Plays vs Defensive Plays 35.50-32.62
Passing Ypg vs Allowed 170.38-167.38
Rushing Ypg vs Allowed 45.75-51.12
3rd Down% 33
Avg Punts 1.38
Avg Giveaways vs Takeaways 2.38-2.88
Average Sacks vs Allowed 1.75-1.62
Avg Interceptions vs Thrown 2.38-2.00
Turnover Diff 1.21
Avg Time of Possession 60.08

Online Match Record 5-4 (One of the Ls on the list I technically won because my opponent disconnected or quit the match)

W 14-9 Cowboys vs Ravens
W 9-0 Cowboys vs Titans
L 22-35 Patriots vs Panthers
L 12-27 Patriots vs Broncos
L 16-20 Patriots vs Seahawks
L 13-38 Giants vs Eagles
W 17-24 Patriots vs Saints
W 47-42 Patriots vs Ravens