Pick 5: Favorite Open World Games

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It has been several years since this Pick 5 feature has been seen around, but here it is. As the title states this one will be about my favorite open world games. The games in this genre include whole franchises and single titles of other series. We’ll be seeing a little of both in this Pick 5. Time to get this started.

ASSASSIN’S CREED II
The initial game in the series was a bit basic, but the concept was solid. Despite being a bit repetitive and, yes, sadly boring at times, there was potential. This was realized in the sequel–this game–Assassin’s Creed II. With a much better story and an excellent protagonist in Ezio, ACII became an instant favorite to many gamers. Once I got around to playing it a few years ago, it was almost overwhelming how many different things there’s to do in the game. I’ve since played through its sequels Brotherhood, Revelations, and I’m currently at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed III. I can easily say that Assassin’s Creed II is still my favorite. Obtaining a platinum trophy doesn’t hurt my fondness for the game either.

BURNOUT PARADISE
Ah, yes. The racing series to end all racing series for me. When Acclaim was publishing the first two games I didn’t even know Burnout existed. Granted this was at a time when I was exclusively playing the Smackdown series of wrestling games. It wasn’t until EA published the amazing entry Burnout 3: Takedown that I got my first taste of the high octane action of Criterion Games’ pedigree. The idea of all of this awesomeness in an open world sounded too good to be true. Thankfully sometimes the “too good” does become a reality. Burnout Paradise was this reality. It’s easily my most played game of the 7th generation of gaming consoles. At around 500 hours of total gameplay time with everything absolutely completed (including the platinum trophy), this game comes highly recommended to arcade-style racing game fans.

RED FACTION: GUERRILLA
A series that started on the PC as a first-person shooter with destructible walls. It was pretty unique for the time. The initial two games eventually saw releases on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. I did play the demo of the first game and was impressed, but I never did bother with the whole thing. It wasn’t until Red Faction went to a third-person perspective in the open world genre with Guerrilla. They took the destructibility to a whole new level with entire structures being able to be brought down with a simple melee weapon knocking out the support beams. Overall a worth while and fun time I’d say.

SLEEPING DOGS
Originally a True Crime game subtitled Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs eventually saw the light of day when it was released after delays and even a cancellation. I was never a fan of the True Crime games and I might have never given this middle-of-the-road title a chance if it hadn’t been renamed. I’m glad it was giving a second life as I enjoyed its open world action quite a bit. The hand-to-hand combat was well done and the context sensitive executions were a great way to spice things up. Think of Sleeping Dogs as Grand Theft Auto in the far east and you’ll get the picture.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION
A majority of Incredible Hulk games don’t let you truly rampage as Bruce Banner’s alter ego like so many Spider-Man games allow you to be Spidey. This release on the 6th generation of gaming consoles does let you do exactly that. You get to HULK SMASH as much as you want with tons of moves able to be unlocked. The graphics aren’t the best even by PS2 and Xbox standards, but they’re serviceable. And besides you won’t care all that much when you’re having a blast throwing cars at enemies and toppling destructible buildings. Nothing feels as good as dropping a huge green elbow from the top of a skyscraper down upon a helpless military tank!

The Stories of Vice City

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Back in Decemeber of 2010 I thought I had bought my last PlayStation 2 games in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and Power Rangers: Super Legends. All that I really wanted I had. However this was not to be the case. I ended up purchasing Burnout 2: Point of Impact the next February and God Hand (plus two others) in May.

I guess it was as Usagi704 say to me: “You are not ever really finished getting PS2 games.” He must know what he is talking about Because I had been thinking of getting Grand Theft Auto: Vice City mainly for the fantastic ’80s soundtrack. When I found the PS2 port of the PSP title Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, I figured that will do just as good.

Seeing a good cheap price on these other two titles made for an easy decision to buy. I do own the Gamecube version of Power Rangers Dino Thunder, but who wants to actually use that system’s controller for third party games? (Joking, but serious, but still joking.)

Spyro: A Hero’s Tail was one I picked up to see if this entry in that series can be more entertaining than I felt Year of the Dragon was on the original PlayStation.

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Complete In Box Fridays: The Perils of Having Standards

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Axelay, Castlevania Double Pack, and Lords of Thunder were the subjects of the last three Complete In Box Fridays articles. This week, however, I’ll be throwing out a theme instead. The theme is, oh how do I word it, complete in a somewhat crushed box? Yes, I do believe that will do. :D

The examples I have of this crushed box theme are the following three Game Boy Advance titles: Metal Slug Advance, Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend, and Dead to Rights.

My interest in Metal Slug Advance was solely because I didn’t realize the GBA had an entry from the Metal Slug series on it. It also had at least one new character who hasn’t appeared in any of the other games. I ended up purchasing it back in May of 2009 and played/finished it a year ago last January. Currently a complete copy goes for $20.50.

METAL SLUG ADVANCE: (click to enlarge)
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Because it had fairly high scores from those who reviewed it, namely IGN and Nintendo Power, I chose to buy Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend in October 2008. I played and finished the game in December 2010 where I talked at length about how my experience with the game went. Hint: better than expected. It’s difficult to find information on the price of this rare game, but it seems to go for no more than about $15 at the moment.

BRUCE LEE: RETURN OF THE LEGEND: (click to enlarge)
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Dead to Rights is a series I’ve never played despite owning the original game and its sequel on the PlayStation 2. They’re decent playing games from what I’ve read over the years. Of course I didn’t purchase Dead to Rights for the Game Boy Advance expecting anything other than the 33% rating it has received. I think it was more about me feeling sorry for the crushed GBA box I saw in Toys-R-Us in 2010. It was only $3 and I felt a need to rescue it. Needless to say I haven’t played this version yet. It’s current price is $11.

DEAD TO RIGHTS: (click to enlarge)
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Thanks for reading and please look forward to episode 36 of the Hart and Usagi Podcast which should be available sometime this weekend at the earliest.

#CIBfridays

Now Playing: December 2010

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As promised in my holiday update here’s my final Now Playing entry for 2010.

Right off the top I wanted to give a mention to Geometry Wars: Galaxies. I played this game on the DS and even though I included it in my finished games list for this year, I forgot to talk about it. I found the best way to control where I was shooting was to use the four face buttons over using the stylus on the touchscreen. I guess I’m too used to Smash TV on the SNES. I played until I maxed out the levels on the drones and got at least the bronze medal on all levels. My best score was 524,479,400.

I also forgot to quickly mention my final stats on Metroid: Other M. After finishing the main story you are allowed to go back and collect the rest of the items which were unreachable or simply not found before. For my game it added on roughly two hours and during that time you fight another game ending boss and race to get off the ship in traditional Metroid fashion. Check out last month’s Now Playing for more of my thoughts on this game.

Metroid: Other M final gaming stats – 10h27m; 100%; 80 missiles; 9 Energy Tanks

I played a few beat-’em-ups. With the help of Usagi704 we managed to get to the final stage of The Combatribes before all of the credits were used up. I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of this game. It was ported to the SNES from it’s initial showing in the arcade and as such was subjected to being censored at the time by Nintendo.

We also played Final Fight 3 together on the Expert difficulty setting. It didn’t seem as hard as one would expect from such a name. Usagi704 played as the newcomer Lucia and I stuck with series mainstay Haggar. He’s my favorite of the four characters because of his long range and powerful moveset. You could say I cleared it on one credit even though Usagi had to use one on the final boss, Black.

For single player action I went back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I hadn’t played it since back in January and finally wanted to get to the end. I’m still not there yet, but it’s as fun as I remember it being. It’s a fairly lengthly game and rewards you with a lot of experience points for finding hidden collectibles. It also has brief nods to World of Warcraft and Portal.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine trophies – 32 / 51 (63%)

You can check out my thoughts on other beat-’em-ups I played in previous blog posts including Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend (from Dec. 6th) and X-Men (from Dec. 21st).

I’ll leave you now with a quote from my complaints with the DS version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from December 9th.

The AI, as one review put it, was like it was in the original Doom just without them moving forward. Yes, they literally move into their scripted position and do not move once there.

Happy holidays!

X-Men & The Devil Inside

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Since my last blog post of almost a week ago I partook in playing quite the number of quick pick up and play games.

First up was the pinball game Devil’s Crush via the Virtual Console. It’s a bit more difficult to score high when you don’t know the exact rules of the game, but I’m slowly understanding them. My current best score is 11,436,200.

After a quick game of NBA Jam Tournament Edition on the SNES against Usagi704, who easily won, we played a number of matches over the last few days in Street Fighter II Turbo and Super SFII on the same system. I used an old ASCII controller which still works great except for the Start button. I get around that by flicking the slow switch on and off quickly. I thought our best matches were Usagi using Sagat vs. my Guile. He also gave me some excellent tips for using Vega which I was able to put to use right away.

However my favorite game of the week has to be when I bought the newly released X-Men arcade game from the PlayStation Store. This 6-player 1992 Konami beat-’em-up classic is a bit shallow when compared to other games at the time within the same genre, but it’s a bunch of fun when playing it with friends!

The X-Men game also comes with trophy support of which I was able to get all 12 in the matter of the first 24 hours. It’s easily finished (making for my 42nd game this year – full list) in around 25 minutes, but the whole playing with friends thing really makes the $10 price tag money well spent. If Konami plans to release more of their arcade games this way, I’m hopeful they’ll eventually make their 4-player G.I. Joe arcade game available.

Lastly I bought two games meant as gifts for my niece and nephew. The former will get Spyro: Season of Ice for GBA since I don’t know what games you get for girls. A collect-a-thon seems good enough.

The latter chose nothing over Sonic Rush last year, which was fine by me, but he didn’t need to whine about it like he did. Hopefully the GBA game Justice League Heroes: The Flash will go over better this time. However I will have my revenge. I’m planning on making him think he’s getting Sonic Rush again and inside will be this game instead. A hearty laugh it shall be indeed. I’m evil, I know.

Happy holidays!

I Played A Good Bruce Lee Game

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On the contrary to probably what most thought about the Game Boy Advance game Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend. It’s actually quite a good beat-’em-up. As you might have expected I do enjoy myself a quality beat-’em-up. The array of moves are somewhat impressive with additions like a block, wall jump, and several weapons at your disposal.

There are some stereotypes that one thinks of when thinking about what a game with Bruce Lee might have. I can confirm that they’re in here, but it’s still quite hilarious at times. The music and sound effects are appropriate and the levels are well designed and fun to traverse.

The stages do have some variety to them. There’s your typical normal beat-’em-up level, stealth, and hostage rescue. The stealth missions are the weakest and were a bit longer than I’d like, but were still very doable.

The game’s not very lengthy, but it does keep you busy with nine total Acts of various numbers of levels. The difficulty levels consist of Easy and Normal. I beat the game on Normal which unlocked a harder mode called Director’s Cut. Finishing that, which I also did, nets you Time Challenge. This mode requires a speed run like approach to each of the game’s levels by moving fast and skipping over killing most enemies. I’m playing this mode currently. Outfits like the iconic one from Game of Death are also available as unlockables.

I put together a gameplay video of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 7 for your viewing pleasure.

Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend brings the number of games finished for 2010 up to 40.

A quick mention of two new GBA game purchases. I found both Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age at my local game store It’s About Games a week ago last Monday. They were about $20 for both.

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Thanks for reading and make it a great holiday season!