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Review of Avengers: Battle for Earth for Kinect

If there’s one thing that can convince me to re-buy Microsoft’s motion controlled peripheral Kinect, it’s the promise of a fully-fleshed out Avengers game. I’m proud to announce that Ubisoft succeeded in this endeavor, and if you were on the fence about getting a Kinect and/or Avengers B4E, it’s definitely worth the investment.imagesCAEE1GQY

After my relatively fun time with Injustice and the DC universe, I decided to see what Marvel had in store for my fighting game itch. In return, I got a fighting game package that housed as much content as Injustice, just forgoing the superfluous S.T.A.R. missions and instead providing a wide assortment of interesting challenges with subtle modifiers. The other modes such as arcade and story all provided equally meaningful content to the game, all of which was twice as fun in B4E’s fantastic co-op.

The story mode has a pretty interesting story that doesn’t feel like a bunch of superhero multiverse cliches (… Injustice), but instead makes use of Marvel’s villains to provide a serviceable and relevant comic book plotline that you can actually get swept up in. It all begins when the Skrulls begin using their morphing powers to impersonate earth’s favorite heroes, which means the Avengers need to put these imposters in their place. Like I said, serviceable and perfect for the source material.

Once you get through the fourty one fights in story mode, there’s still a large amount of content to explore. The challenges and character missions are a blast, either helping you to explore a character’s move set or take on increasingly difficult modifiers to hone your battle skills. They feel nothing like a tutorial, however, and fit the game’s short-but-intense fighting mentality. Lastly, there’s arcade, a relatively standard fighting game component that pits your team of characters against increasingly difficult teams of AI. The challenge increases at a good pace, never leaving you blown away by enemies’ sudden ability to pummel you to pieces.

While all of that provides a hefty single player experience, the multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to an already superb amount of content. Campaign and arcade can be played in glorious co-op, and the Kinect tracks two people simultaneously surprisingly well. On top of that, there are offline and online competitive matches, and they’re both fantastic. Offline competitive fighting provides the same level of precision motion-tracking and fun as any other offline multiplayer mode, and online I encountered no lag whatsoever. Actually finding a match took a little bit of time (two or three minutes), but that’s to be expected with any Kinect game with online multiplayer. As an added incentive to play online, there are even player cards and collectable titles you can use to represent yourself online, and while it may seem standard for most fighters, it was a really nice touch in a Kinect fighter which most would wrongly assume to have less depth.

Being a Kinect only game, none of this content would amount to scratch if the controls weren’t solid. Luckily, the actual controls and the tracking of movements are both superb, easily the best I’ve encountered on the Kinect to date. All of the moves feel authentic to their character, such as holding your hands up high and raising one leg to have Spider-Man sling into and then kick an opponent, or open your arms and then slam them shut to have Hulk chuck a slab of rock at an enemy. All of the motions tie together perfectly for combos and juggles, providing a combat experience with depth and strategy. The dodging mechanic is especially well incorporated, being a simple shoulder lean to the left or the right to dodge incoming attacks. It’s fluid, fast and fun, simple as that. I occasionally ran into some weird screen freezes (about four times over the course of my play time) and the occasional framerate drop, but these were isolated enough that it didn’t rupture the experience.

-Cohesive story with nice comic-book presentation
-Huge roster of 20 characters from all over the Marvel universe, ranging from Iron Man to Super Skrull
-Lots of meaty content, modes and unlockables
-Phenomenal co-op component
-Graphics don’t try to be gritty and realistic, instead having a nice, colorful and comic-y HD approach
-Controls and motion tracking are the best currently available with Kinect
-Online matches are a lag free and sensational full-body experience

-A few graphical hiccups and crashes
-Matchmaking can take a while

On a sheer basis of good-to-bad, Avengers: Battle for Earth succeeds in being a great game. It has enough content to actually warrant a full-price purchase (I haven’t said that for a game in months), and allows for the best co-op Kinect experience you’ll ever have. Even without a dedicated tag team partner, Battle for Earth is still the best game in Kinect’s library and is worth checking out whether you’re a fan of Marvel or just want a fun, adrenaline-fueled and action-packed time.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown Tip Guide

Not quite ready to do a full-blown XCOM review, but a tip guide is definitely in order. What important tips for this turn-based alien invasion simulation have I discovered, you ask? Read on to find out.468px-Situation

Gameplay tip: This applies throughout the entire game. If you have a guy who’s behind weak cover and you want to put him out in the open for a chance at finishing off an enemy, be sure to save first. Now, this might sound like a dummy tip, but it allows you to try different positions multiple times over until you finally get one that finishes off the alien. After all, there’s nothing more rage-inducing than when you forget to save and your only colonel-rank troop gets his head shot off during a wannabe bad-ass moment. It’s just not fun. Not one bit.

Gameplay tip: Build as many freakin’ satellite uplinks and satellites as you can, and do this early on. Initially you might see no reason to, but they are literally the only thing stopping you from losing the entire game after your second hour of play. So the minute you can start constructing buildings, those are what you need to build—and be smart about which countries you send the satellites to, as each has a different set of perks they’ll give you. I personally found Africa and South America to have the best perks, both of which granted large scientist/engineer bonuses.

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Dishonored Tip Guide

A quick tip guide to help you in Dishonored:

Achievement Tip: “Hornet’s Nest” is a tricky achievement to get. Not hard, but tricky. You need level 2 Bend Time and a lot of crossbow bolts, but it can be done. The best place to do this, I found, is in the part of the Golden Cat mission (before you actually get to the Golden Cat) where there’s the first Wall of Light you encounter in-game. Climb on top of the train car inches in front of it, and wait until four enemies appear on-screen. Then, freeze time, auto-aim for the guards’ heads, and shoot at least two bolts at each. By that point time will have unfrozen itself, and four freshly killed bodies will drop to the ground simultaneously. Oh, and an achievement will pop.

***Ultimate Dishonored Easter Egg/Jack-ass Moment***: This isn’t necessarily an easter egg, but a really amusing thing that Arkane Studios slipped into the game. Alright, so right after the Kaldwin’s bridge mission, roam around the Hounds Pit Pub until you run across the bathing room. You’ll spot Pierro, your tech-guy, peeping on Callista, the maid who is taking a bath. He pleads to you not to tell her, and you can respond however you want. But after that, you can actually walk in to the bathroom, tell her about Pierro, and even flirt with her. It’s hilarious. But here’s the best part: If you hop into the tub with her (by crouching and vaulting yourself in) she’ll scream, hop out, and you’ll get a game over screen that reads something to the tune of “The loyalist conspiracy has been disbanded due to irreconcilable hostilities”. <—- Dishonored is now my GOTY.

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Sonic CD Tip Guide

This is gonna be a tip guide (as if you didn’t know already) for Sonic CD on Xbox Live Arcade!

Achievement Tip: To get the “Statue Saviour” and “Ring King” achievements, follow these steps. In Wacky Workbench, make your way across the first set of platforms. Then, when you come to the freeze jet, continue forward just a little bit until you come to a slope. Slowly go down that slope, then hop up it. If you do it just right, you’ll fall into a secret room that has the statue. That’s the “Statue Saviour” achievement. Once the statue is done spewing rings, hop out and then hop right back in. The statue will continuously spew rings however many times you do this. Once you reach the 200 ring mark, bam! The “Ring King” achievement is yours as well.

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Review of Sonic CD (Xbox Live Arcade)

Sonic CD. The one Sonic game no one has ever played. Some called it an overglorified Sega CD game, some called it the best Sonic title to ever be released. Which one will it be? Read on to find out!

Sound: Classic Sonic games knew how to make music, that’s for sure. Epic soundtrack, especially the song in the intro with what I think is the first to have vocals in the series! Of course, the 8-bit (or 16-bit, I don’t know) music is some of the best in Sonic history. And to top it off, this version comes with both the USA and Japanese soundtracks! Sound: 9.5/10

Presentation: It’s pretty much the perfection of the Sonic 1 graphics. It looks great, although I prefer Sonic 2 and 3’s graphical style. Special stages, on the other hand, have aged pretty badly and look sort of tacky as just sprites in comparison to modern day visuals. Presentation: 7/10

Gameplay: Thought you knew the classic Sonics? Well, think again! This game feels practically nothing like it’s brethren, being a bouncy cluster of springs, obstacles and countless enemies, all placed in levels that are packed to the top with platforms. Because of these numberous obstructions, the game focuses more on precision platforming than speed, which is quite a change of pace from other Sonic games. The platforming is fun, but with Sonic’s new figure 8 move, it’s a bit of a shame we couldn’t see more of it due to the inability to ever build up enough speed. Aside from that, there’s also the ability to time travel, which gives the game infinite replayability. The future stages are the easiest to blaze through, the present have the most standard feel to them, and the past are the ones where you can destroy generators and fix the future, thus giving the game a good ending (and yes there are multiple endings). I have to talk about the annoying special stages, though. These things make me want to yell at puppies. They are the most aggravating special stages I’ve ever encountered in a Sonic game, due to the fact that all of the obstacles are so flat and graphically outdated that you can’t even tell what they are until they’ve hit you. The dumb little UFO’s you have to hit are extremely mobile and all in all it’s just a ridiculous goose chase trying to get the Time Stones these stages unlock (Getting all of the Time Stones through special stages is another way to reach the good ending). Lastly, once you beat the game you unlock Tails as a playable character, a cool new addition in this port. Only problem is that you have no incentive to play as him because he can’t unlock achievements. Gameplay: 7.5/10

Multiplayer: N/A

Length: If you rocket through the game, totally ignoring time travel and special stages, you can probably rap the adventure up in under an hour. But if you dedicate enough effort to finding all of the generators in the past and getting all of the Time Stones, this game can last countless hours of intricate exploration and platforming. For the standard gamer though, the latter will be disregarded and the game will be over in under sixty minutes. Length: 7.5/10

Overall: Sonic CD gets a well deserved 7.9/10! Although it’s not standard speedy Sonic action, and is based more around careful exploration and the time travel gimmick, I say go out and get it if you’re even mildly interested. It’s only 400 microsoft points, to boot!