The Scrap Yard

Review of Pacific Rim: The Video Game for Xbox 360

Buying a movie tie-in game is kind of like eating a large clump of cow manure. 99% of the time, you’ll want to vomit, but that other 1% you’ll end up eating some essential nutrients and come out of the experience better for it. Pacific Rim is not that 1%.91

Pacific Rim isn’t the worst movie tie-in game of all time, far from it. It just sticks with too many annoying tie-in tropes to be worth your time. Micro transactions? Check. Half of the game’s content sanctioned off to DLC? Check. Can’t customize the color of your f*cking character unless you pay three bucks? Check. Oh, and it just so happens that the three DLC characters are unbalanced and completely wreck the game in the DLC buyer’s favor. Keep in mind, this game is by Yuke’s Media Creations, the same neo-nazi developers responsible for Real Steel’s movie adaptation, so these tactics aren’t new.

With all of that said, if you’re a sucker for giant robot fighting video games and are content with two maps and five characters, the base game might just be worth it to you. The gameplay isn’t perfect, but has a satisfying feeling to it with lots of the heft that you’d expect from giant robot fights. The attacks, dodging mechanics and super moves all flow well together, and if you’re playing against the computer, the game is pretty great. When you play online against humans, however, you’ll notice the “ranked match” system sucks complete ass and pits you against people who’ve won thirty seven thousand matches and who’ve poured thirty five dollars worth of DLC into this game, giving them the ability to destroy you in one button press. It’s not fun. If you manage to find someone who’s as good as you and wasn’t enough of an asshole to buy the DLC, you can have a pretty good time. There’s also local multiplayer, and that’s always a fun and balanced time.

Pros:
-Solid fighting mechanics, hefty physics
-The characters that are included are bad-ass
-Online AND offline multiplayer
-Character customization

Cons:
-Yuke’s Media Creations made this
-Literally 60% of the game’s content (custom character paint jobs, levels, characters, experience point boosts) is locked behind a DLC wall
-Online multiplayer matchmaking is extremely unbalanced and has a horrible match-up determination system

In conclusion, if you just NEEEED your fix of giant robot fighting and are okay with having a disadvantage with just the base game, this is the arcade title for you. If you’re an asshole who wants to put fifty bucks into this game for all the DLC, this is the arcade title for you. If you don’t want your wallet raped for content that should already be in the game, this is NOT the arcade title for you.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Trials Evolution (Xbox Live Arcade)

You know how many times I’ve yelled JFC at my screen playing this game? To give you an idea, my vocabulary has evolved more than the Trials, if you get my drift. This game can literally give you high blood pressure, I’m sure of it.images

Trials Evolution takes the ridiculously unsafe fun of extreme motorsports and fuses it with controls more twitchy than Parkinsons itself, a combo that can be really fun and really frustrating… and occasionally both at the same time. There are hundreds of courses that revolve around sky-diving physics, bumpy terrain, backflips and all other sorts of shennanigans that BMX riders do. In an average course, there are dozens of checkpoints and the odds are you’ll use every one of them, as Trials Evolution is ball-bustingly hard. You will sit with the utmost concentration for minutes on end, doing death-defying flips and uphill zips without a single slip up, and you’ll feel like God. But then, then comes that one triple tire obstacle you just can’t maneuver over and *BAM* your perfect run is gone, and you have to restart at your nearest checkpoint. Grrr.

Trials Evolution sports three different modes to cry yourself to sleep over: Single player, multiplayer and custom track building. Single player is just that; a bunch of courses you play individually that span from beginner to extreme difficulty (spoiler alert: everything from medium upwards will damage you  mentally). Multiplayer is a pretty fun diversion, and allows for ghost racing and my personal favorite, realtime races with other players. They tend to make me feel better about my Trials skills. The last mode is track editor, which lets you build some freaking insane tracks and download those made by others. This is by far the most enjoyable part of the game, as users have created everything from Tron courses to the Endor battle from Star Wars, all in a nice Trials-ish format. It’s pretty crazy to say the least, and when single player becomes stale, there’ll always be a new user created track to try.

Pros
-HARD gameplay
-Simple to play yet impossible to master physics
-Great level designs
-Lengthy singleplayer content and track editor
-Decent online racing community
-Insane track editor tools
-User created tracks are insanely fun to try out

Cons
-HARD gameplay
-Sharp difficulty spikes to complete singleplayer levels
-Some noticeable lag online
-Track editor isn’t exactly user friendly

If you want a fun time, Trials Evolution isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you want a game you can REALLY sink your teeth into and invest some serious gaming in, Trials Evolution is right up your alley. For fifteen dollars, this game packs some serious bang for the buck, and is as addicting as it is frustrating.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Sonic the Fighters HD for Xbox Live Arcade

This game is boss.

Sound: Not much of a soundtrack, just a couple of mega-catchy tunes. Wonky, bonky sound effects as well. Sound: 7/10

Presentation: The graphics have a nice HD remake feel to them, but nothing extraordinary. They’re still the nice, polygonal arcade images we remember so fondly from the original Sonic the Fighters. Presentation: 7/10

Gameplay: The fighting mechanics aren’t super advanced, and there’s only a couple of combos in the game. With that said, the gameplay is fun, fast and every character has unique attacks, so it’s always fun to mix and match tactics. It feels a lot like Soul Calibur, what with the rotating arena mechanic which works surprisingly well. The best part is being able to play as some not-so-well known Sonic characters such as Fang the Sniper and Bark the Polar Bear, characters that have only seen the light of day in the Archie comics. Gameplay: 7/10

Multiplayer: I played two matches, as that’s all I could find. Sonic the Fighters does NOT have a very large online community, I’d estimate less than five hundred players total. It’s fun and far more challenging than arcade mode, but cheap characters are abused and finding matches takes a minute or two. Multiplayer: 5.5/10

Length: For a five dollar game it definitely packs enough bang for the buck, considering it was originally meant for an arcade machine. As far as value for money compared to the other five dollar Sonic games available, it’s not that great a deal. Length: 7/10

Overall: Sonic the Fighters gets 6.1 rings out of 10. It’s definitely filled with fun, fast fighting action and is a nice departure from platforming. Get it if you’re in the mood for some cheap, light-hearted Sonic action.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Xbox Live Arcade

My second and last classic Sonic review, for the time being.

Sound: THIS is where the series started making the most memorable of video game soundtracks, with chemical plant and death egg still being two of my all-time favorites. Sound: 9/10

Presentation: Sonic’s received a digital makeover, and is better for it. His new style is slightly glossier and more visually pleasing. Stages themselves are extremely varied and all-around awesome (still looking at chemical plant). Presentation: 9/10

Gameplay: THE SPINDASH! The most important skill in all of Sonic’s history has finally arrived, and boy does it make a difference! Levels are twelve times faster than the original Sonic the Hedgehog as it is, but the spindash makes things mach 5. Like I just mentioned, level layouts are far better built for speed and enjoyable platforming as well, with certain sections having Sonic run so fast he’s almost completely off-screen. As far as difficulty goes, it’s exponentially harder than the original Sonic, but thanks to the XBLA’s save feature (which I abused to the utmost degree, mind you) the game is just plain fun throughout. Good, classic gaming fun at its finest. Then there are the special stages… again, save state abuse is recommended, as these special stages made me cuss at my screen like no other game has in months. They require absolute memorization and are a pain in the neck to complete (especially with the delayed reaction of Tails, if you have him as a sidekick). Luckily, when you beat them all you get another new addition to the Sonic series, Super Sonic! And he pretty much makes any visible challenges left in the game completely irrelevant, so again, all is fun and enjoyable. Gameplay: 8.5/10

Multiplayer: Thanks to Tails, there’s both competitive multiplayer and the ability to play through the story cooperatively. The cooperative gameplay is only helpful during special stages, and there are only four pre-set tracks for competitive, but it’s a nice addition to round out the game. Multiplayer: 6.5/10

Length: The main levels are much longer than the original Sonic, nearly doubling the previous game’s length. Couple that with the special stages, multiplayer and achievements, and there’s enough gameplay here to keep you busy for a while. Length: 8.5/10

Overall: Sonic 2 is a fantastic classic that earns an 8.3 out of 10. It’s the first classic Sonic I really enjoyed, and set in place the formula for my personal favorite, Sonic 3 and Knuckles (go check out the re-reviews through the links).