<![CDATA[Arcade Wednesday - Xbox Live Arcade]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 11:32:16 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[The Wolf Among Us : Episode 1 - Faith Review]]>Sun, 27 Oct 2013 22:05:54 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/the-wolf-among-us-episode-1-faith-review
Developer : Telltale Games Publisher : Telltale Games Format Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Telltale, the studio behind point-and-click adventure games, such as Sam And Max and last year's  "The Walking Dead", are back. The Wolf Among Us : Episode One, is the beginning of a new five part series, which tells a dark, fantasy tale, based on the Fables comics by Bill Willingham. The game takes place twenty year's before the comics, which gives Telltale a chance to do what they do best, tell their own stories. For newcomers, it's easy to picking up the premise. Telltale do a wonderful job setting the tone, and introducing you to the characters. It's well written, and there's enough here to drag both, fans and newcomers to the series.

The game takes place in Fabletown, a small district within Manhattan. A verity of well known fairy-tale characters live their, such as Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the beast, and even the drunk flying monkey from "The Wizard of Oz". An enchantment, known as Glamour, is used to hide their original identity. It's an expensive spell, but those who can afford it are able to blend in with the real humans, known as mundies. It may sound silly and childish, but The Wolf Among Us is surprisingly gritty and mature. There's lots of foul language and gore, which proves this is no kids fairy-tale.

You play as the town's sheriff, Bigby, aka - The Big Bad Wolf. He lives in an apartment with Colin, one of the three little piggy's. Bigby's job is to enforce the laws, and making sure the existence of the town's fables remains a secret from the outer world. It's not long before things turn ghastly, with Fabletown suddenly struck by a murder. Throughout the episode, Bigby is left trying to unravel the mystery, which sees him solving puzzles and confronting suspects. The puzzles here are very light, and work similar to Telltale's previous work, such as "The Walking Dead". You'll find yourself examining objects, completing timed dialogue sequences, and performing quick-time events.
"The Wolf Among Us" follows in the same veins as Telltale's previous work. If you've played last year's "The Walking Dead" you will be immediately familiar with the controls. It's pretty much the same setup, with you moving around linier environments, hovering a  cross-hair over objects to interact with them.  The quick-time events work as you'd expect, but they seem much more fun and varied than before. There's lots more freedom in how you approach them. For example, the opening fight sequence provides you with various ways of tackling the fight. You can interact with various objects in any order, which makes quick-time events much more fun. It's still scripted, but it's nice to have that extra bit of freedom. 
On a visual standpoint, the game looks striking. It's Telltale's most attractive game yet, with it's neon-glow and bold comic-style outline. It seems much sharper than in past titles. Unforchanatly, there's still issues that crawl on over from The Walking Dead. This is mostly freezing, which can break up the immersion slightly. However, these instances are brief, and it shouldn't stop you enjoying the game any less.

The Wolf Among Us : Episode One - Faith, is a spellbinding opening act to Telltale's new five-part series. I'm not sure whether it will have the same emotional impacted as The Walking Dead  , but it's certainly the most enjoyable episode I've experienced from Telltale yet.


<![CDATA[Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons Review]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2013 12:46:30 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/brothers-a-tale-of-two-sons-review
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: 505 Games

8.5 "Great"

Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons, kicks off this year's Summer of Arcade line-up. Developed by Starbreeze Studios, Brothers is a twin-stick adventure game, telling an emotional story of two brothers. Although it's an attractive looking game, it's poring with heartfelt moments. Starbreeze Studios don't hang around either, as the opening sequence begins with the younger brother knelt beside his mothers graveside. The siblings farther is also on his last legs, and this is what leads both brothers on a journey. They both set out to find a miracle cure, tackling many puzzles and dangerous obstacles along the way.  It's a simple story, but one that handles emotion, humour and scares wonderfully.

The game sounds perfect for co-op. Surprisingly, though, Brothers is entirely a single-player experience. This is what makes the game so unique. Both brothers are controlled solo, using each of the analogue sticks. The left stick controls the older brother, and the right stick controls the younger one. Trying to compete with both brothers simultaneously can be a tricky task. There's times when you may send one brothers in the opposite direction. It can make your brain spin at time, but it's this control scheme what makes it so uniquely engaging. 
The fable styled visuals are beautiful.
Cleverly, the narrative contains not one single piece of English dialogue. It's all gibberish, like The Sims, and there's no subtitles either. The special thing is, Starbreeze Studios have done a magnificent job in illustrating the characters thoughts with actions. As the saying goes, Actions speak louder than words, and this is the case with Brothers. Their personalities are instantly shown on-screen. For example, It could be one of the Brothers holding up a map to a nearby villager, with them quickly pointed in the right direction. It's a simple, but effective touch, and one that never leaves you confused to what's going on.

The level design is fairly linear, so getting lost is never a concern. The environments never seem lonely as well. There's always plenty to see and do. Most of it can be missed if you rush through, so taking your time is the best way to experience the game in full. There's many interactions that can add a lot more emotion to the journey. One great example is when you stumble upon a field of playful black bunnies. If you wish, you could simply call a blind eye and carry along the path. If you decide to have a closer look, you will notice something. One of the rabbits is white, and left out from the fun. You could then pick up the rabbit and smother him in coal, allowing him to blend in with the rest. Discovering these small moments add a lot to the experience, and their always a delight to complete.
Trolls do appear along your journey
It's the connection between the two brothers what makes the game special. Not just in narrative, but in gameplay mechanics as well. Most of the obstacles you face requires aid from the older or younger brother. For example, Early on, you come across a lake that must be swum across. As you begin to stroll along the lake, you realize the younger brother cannot swim. You must then go back for him, holding down RT, so he can be pulled along. I began to feel sorry for the younger brother, and I was more concerned about him drowning, rather than having to go back and complete the section again. Not many games have me this emotionally connected, and it's one of the reasons why Brothers is worth experiencing. 

A lot of time is spent climbing, leaping and shimmying. Along the way, you'll come across many puzzles that will stop you in your tracks. They're fairly lite, and never too taxing on the brain. One of the earlier puzzles requires you to pick up a sheep, then place him on a platform to lower a bridge. As you reach the caves, the puzzles become slightly more interesting. You'll be faced with levers to pull and moving platforms. This is when things can turn a little confusing. It's like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Even a few hours in, it's hard to control both brothers with separate tasks, but it does keep you immersed in the game.

The visuals are beautifully presented. It's very reminiscent of the Fable series, and it compliments the game very well. Some of the cinematic cutscenes are less than attractive, but at a distance, Brothers is a visual treat.


The only downside to Brothers may be it's lifespan. It's only a 3-4 hour journey, but it's certainly short and sweet. With it's unique control scheme, beautiful visuals and creative puzzles, Brothers is a journey you wouldn't want to miss. 

8.5 "Great"

<![CDATA[Cloudberry Kindgom Review]]>Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:19:15 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/cloudberry-kindgom-review
Genre: Platformer
Developer Pwnee Studios
Publisher: Ubisoft

7.5 "Good"

Endless platforming fun
Cloudberry Kingdom sound like some childish kids game, rather than what it actually is. If it's adorable name and colorful visuals deceive you, expect a big surprise. Much like the formidable retro platformer, Super Meat Boy, CK is one tough cookie. Pwnee Studios don't exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes to gameplay, but they do with the procedurally generated levels. You may be wondering what that means. Well, using the AI, the game randomly generates levels to your current player skill and level. It's a smart mechanic, providing an endless array of platforming goodness. 

Story mode introduces you to Bob, a middle-aged hero with a big head. The brief introduction sees him on a quest, trying to save a ridiculous princess from a mean King, known as Kobbler. After a failed rescue attempt, Bob is left washed up, and this is where the game begins. Across seven chapters, you'll leap, bounce, dodge, roll and fly across hundreds of levels. The goal is simple, traverse along the screen, avoiding obstacles, and reach the exit. It begins very straight forward, with some simple platforming jumps. As you dig deeper in, you'll be faced with spikes that pop-up through the ground, hovering bugs, spinning fireball trails, and more. Pwnee Studios do a great job with the pacing. The difficulty ramps up at a steady pace, so you never feel thrown in at the deep end too soon.
Levels are bursting with goofy and deadly traps
Something you'll quickly notice is how short the levels are. Most of them are over in a flash, lasting one minute, or even less. Soon as you reach the exit, the next level is waiting instantly. It all joins together perfectly, and your constantly challenged with new mechanics. For example, one level may require you to bounce along on a pogo stick. Another may have Bob strapped to a spinning wheel or jet pack. These sections occur randomly, but do provide something fresh along the way. 

The later levels can turn overly crazy. It can be intimidating to find traps cramping the screen, providing little space to move. Thankfully, there's a well placed checkpoint system, which makes most levels seem beatable. If you are finding a section too difficult, you can always use a selection of aids. Collecting blue gems throughout the levels will allow you to swap them for power-ups. With a simple tap on Y, you can purchase three different abilities. The first one allows the AI to complete the level, mocking you and proving it can be accomplished. The next one brings up an outline, marking the best route. Finally, the last one allows you to slow down time. Each of these aids are handy, and it makes collecting the gems worth while. With that said, racking up a high gem count isn't hard, as levels are constantly littered with them.
Once of the toughest levels
The randomized levels can feel a bit stale after a while. Mostly due to traps and platforms having a samey appearance. You can almost predict what form of hazards you'll be facing. With that said, you never feel like the AI is cheating on you. The more complex levels may seem impossible, but they are always possible to beat. 

With Story mode aside, CK also features an Arcade mode. This is a similar set up to in story, but instead, your given a set time and limited amount of lives. There's also a Free play mode, which allows you to customize levels to your own taste. There's some nice setting to tweak, such as changing the levels length span, enemy count, and so on. When your done, you can then save it, allowing you or your friends to beat it. I also forgot to mention, CK supports up to four players locally. 


Cloudberry Kingdom is an attractive and challenging platformer. The platforming doesn't exactly amaze, but it's random level generator is impressive. If your someone who's looking for a tough 2D platformer, it would be silly to miss out on Cloudberry Kingdom.

7.5 "good"

<![CDATA[Pacific Rim : The Video Game Review]]>Thu, 25 Jul 2013 22:14:04 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/pacific-rim-the-video-game-review
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Yukes    
Publisher: Yukes

3.5 "Bad"

Pacific Rim the video game doesn't pack much punch
Pacific Rim is one of this years biggest blockbusters, featuring giant monsters that live beneath the Pacific, and it's up to human built robots to flush them out. It's my kind of film, so when I noticed a tie-in game was coinciding with it, I had to check it out. The game is developed by Yukes, who are well known for their fighting games, such as WWE. Pacific Rim is also about fighting, so there is some potential here. However, this is a movie game where talking about, so the end result is a very clumsy rush job. Despite some nice detail to the robots and creatures, the combat is tedious, and the environments are few and very dull. 

The single-player offering sends you straight into battle. You begin as a Jaegar, going head-to-head with a Kaiju in the Pacific Ocean. This is the tutorial section, with you introduced to the control layout. You have two basic attacks, allowing you to throw punches left and right. There's also a charge attack and the ability to dodge and block. It's very basic, but that's not why the game fails. It's mainly due to it's sluggish performance, with each attack reacting heavy and slow. I understand these supposed to be large heavy machines, but the slow combat does little to excite. Trying to circle your enemy and line up a shot is awkward to say the least. It's hit and miss, and just lacks any real sense of power and impact. 
This slow attacks make it hard to pull off any form of combo. So anyone who enjoys frantic button mashing brawlers, such as Street Fighter, will find Pacific Rim rather dull. This is more about going in for the one attack, dodging and then repeating. You can, if you wish, change your attack patterns, but it's never necessary to defeat your enemy. You could simply use one main attack and dodge to win a fight. With enough energy, you can perform a deadly special attack. This nearly always knocks out your enemy, taking away a big chunk of their health. It can be amusing to watch, especially when stood near one of the destructible environment. Such as sending them plummeting into an iceberg, or crashing into a high road in Shanghai. However, after doing it a few times, it grows old quick, and feels very cheap.

There is a small strategic element to the game. Everything you do, whether it's throwing a punch, dodging, or simply walking, will drain energy. If the gauge bar falls short, you are left in a vulnerable state, unable to perform attacks. This leaves you standing still, trying to build up enough energy to defend yourself. It's a nice idea and does make sense, but it makes the game even more dull and slow than it already is. The combat is just very repetitive. It doesn't help matters that you have to rapidly tap buttons when downed. Doing it over and over feels like a chore, and turns tiresome extremely quickly. 
Customization is on offer, which is probably the most redeemable feature. Before you begin each battle, you are given a selection of robots, or monsters to choose from, depending on how far you've advanced. There's a few variations of each, providing different stats such as stamina, etc. They also come with a selection of perks. But if you don't like any of the load-outs, you can build your own. This allows you to customize a Jaeger to your own taste. You can add a variety of parts, such as the head, left and right arm, body and legs. Parts are earned by completing single-player matches and purchasing them with currency. It can be fun to see your own version of a Jaeger in action. Some may find it appealing, but it doesn't make the combat anymore enjoyable. 

It does lack replay-value, and with only two environmental battlegrounds, things turn boring fast. The most fun that came out of it was in multiplayer. This is because you are less aware of your opponents attack pattern. In single-player, the AI is very poor and far too easy to defeat. 


Pacific Rim contains everything you'd expect from a movie game tie-in.  It lacks any redeemable features. Along with it's slow and tedious combat and few environments, it's best to forget this one exists, Go watch the film instead. 

3.5 "Bad"

<![CDATA[R.I.P.D. The Video Game Review]]>Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:31:43 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/ripd-the-video-game-review
Genre: Third person shooter
Developer: Old School Games
Publisher: Atlus

5.5 "Mediocre"

There's not much of a soul here.
Rest In Piece Department, (R.I.P.D.) for short, is a third person co-operative shooter, coinciding with the new supernatural movie. Much like the recently released God Mode, published by Atlus, R.I.P.D. is strictly focused on attacking waves of horde, rather than following the films narrative. Whilst a story mode seem like a missed opportunity, developer, Old School Games, still provide one of the better movie-tie in games to release on the Xbox Live Marketplace. 

The game promptly sets up the back-story, presented in a comic book style. It opens with Nick Walker, one of the finest Police Officers in Boston.  Unfortunately, he died in a fire-fight, and his soul drifted peacefully to the ever after. Although dead, Nick's work wasn't complete, as he was given a chance to work for the R.I.P.D. A department where dead police officers take out lifeless criminals, also known as Deados. They refuse to pass over to the other side, and live between the living. It's up to Nick to take them out, along with his new partner, a tough old Cowboy named Roy. 

For as far as movie games go, R.I.P.D. is rather impressive. The visuals are pretty, the gameplay is fun, and there's a decent amount of maps and unlocks. A few problems that God Mode suffered from drift on over to this game. The controls are rather clunky, and aiming at enemies can seem difficult. I found, with a few adjustments, such as turning on auto aim, R.I.P.D. was much more enjoyable. With out it, lining up shots and killing seem like a chore. Not just because the AI are unpredictable and agile, but because of slight frame rate drops and occasional hit detection issues. It's a shame, because I wanted these problems to go away, but unfortunately, they do take away a chunk of the enjoyment. 
Will you please die one last time
In R.I.P.D. you can play locally, solo, or team up with a buddy online. Both, Nick and Roy are playable, but neither of them have distinct abilities, so there's no reason to choose one from the other. Before jumping into a quick match, your given a load-out to customize to your taste. You can select a pistol or shogun as a primary weapon,  along with a secondary weapon, such as an assault rifle. There's a nice array of weapons to choose, and some unlock by completing a certain map. Consumables can also be purchased, which are another term for perks. These range from a bulletproof vest, boosting your kill steaks faster, replenishing your partners health by shooting him, and more. All perks and weaponry come with a price, so you need to save cash first.

You earn cash by simply taking out the Deados. Set goals can also be completed to receive a bonus. One goal, for example, requires you to arrest one of the larger Deados, which has you standing near him for a set amount of time. Completing objectives not only earns you cash, but also gives you a time boost. As you play, you and your partners health gauge will being to deplete. Thankfully, there's just enough time to keep things moving. Even on solo, I never seemed to find the time limit much of a problem. The combat is constantly frantic, and there's always enough enemies to find and kill. Running out of ammo, though, can become tedious. You may find yourself having to chase down foes to beat them up. There's no real combat system, so trying to punch and kick them is very hit and miss. 
Some Deados even heal their own.
Roy and Nick, both come with five special powers. They each have the same abilities, but unleashing them are useful and fun.  As you rack up kills, you can eventually trigger one of the abilities. They are easy to access, with you switching between them with the LB and RB button. Your first power allows you to regenerate health by standing within the healing area. But saving up for a later ability allows you to place down a turret gun, or even trap enemies with chains momentarily.  These special abilities are nicely varied and useful, and their always fun to work towards whilst you play.

What surprised me was the array of maps. As an arcade title and movie game, I wasn't expecting many map variations. However, there are a total of seven maps which are inspired from the movie. The level design is nothing to write home about, but they all look great. They all have a slight cel-shaded look to them, and even the character models stand out. They certainly won't amaze, but are decent for a tie-in game.


R.I.P.D. is much better than most movie-tie in games that have received the digital treatment. Despite it's lack of polish, R.I.P.D. can be enjoyable with a buddy.  That's not something you can say for most movie-games, so you should give it credit for that. Just don't expecting it lasting very long. 

5.5 "Mediocre"

<![CDATA[The Walking Dead : 400 Days Review]]>Mon, 08 Jul 2013 11:10:53 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/the-walking-dead-400-days-review
Genre: Adventure 
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher:  Telltale Games

7.5 "good"

A short but satisfying expansion to Telltale's TWD series.  
Telltale's The Walking Dead was one of last year's most successful video games. It provided an emotional, intense and gripping story, right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Throughout five episodes, we had chance to bond with many different characters, mostly with Clementine and Lee. The narrative was well-written, and provided plenty of opportunists to change the fate of various survivors. Now that series one is over, and it becoming a great success, Telltale have a series two on the way. For those patiently waiting for the second installment, Telltale have released a short, but satisfying fix to ease the wait. It's called 400 Days, which simply has you taking the role of five new survivors, each with their own short survival story.

TWD : 400 Days is an add-on, but takes place long after series one. You will hear from some familiar faces, but the playable characters are brand new.  The main hub is used as a notice board, placed near a gas station. On it are photos of five missing survivors. From here, you can choose which order you want to play the game. The survivors are Shel, a protective big sister, Bonnie, an ex junkie, Russel, a tough kid, Wyatt, a Hippie, and finally, Vince, who is a convict. Each one are interesting characters to play. The only problem is, they each only have around 10-15  minutes screen time. This is a bit of a risk for Telltale, as it doesn't seem long enough to care for the characters. Surprisingly, though, Telltale have done a magnificent job in developing each survivor, despite their short time period. I did come attached rather quickly to a few of them, and I think Shel's story was the most emotional. It reminded me of Lee, and his protection over Clementine.

As you would expect from Telltale, each story ends with a big decision. It's classic Telltale stuff, but choosing isn't as hard as it was in the original series. This is mainly due to the characters not so fleshed out. If 400 Days was a while longer, it would make these decisions much tougher. It also feels like the survivors fate is still unclear, but maybe things will come to light in series two. 
TWD : 400 Days plays identical to the previous episodes. This is no bad thing, however, as it works well enough, and the visuals and sound are just as consistent. With that said, a few familiar bugs drag along for the ride, but it's nothing that will damage your overall experience. There's not as much emotion here as before, but fans should still enjoy what Telltale have on offer. With plenty of timed dialogue sequences, quick-time events and occasional shooting, 400 Days is a short, but fun rush of adrenaline.


400 Days is a great example to how clever Telltale are. Despite it's length, you are introduced to
well-written characters, placed in a set of interesting stories. It's packed with the Telltale goodness you'd expect. The ending is a bit anti-climax, with you hungry for more. However, it's still a satisfying addition to Telltale's 

7.5 "good"

Review by Gareth Smith
<![CDATA[Capsized Review]]>Sat, 06 Jul 2013 23:36:07 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/capsized-review
Genre : Side-scroller
Developer: Alientrap Games
Publisher Indiepub

8.0 "Great"

One small step for greatness
Capsized is a frantic 2D shooter, combined with a physics based puzzle element. You step into the boots of an unnamed astronaut, who unfortunately crash lands on an inhabited alien planet. This leaves you on a search for your crew members, whilst doing all means possible to stay alive. To begin with, the planet seems a peaceful and lush place. Before you know it, you'll soon realise it's looks are deceiving. Blood thirsty creatures will begin to chase you,  craving for your blood. They are very fast and deadly, and these encounters always keep you on your toes.  It's very fast-paced, and it can be tricky to move and shoot at the same time. Thankfully, there's a neat auto-aim feature, which you can trigger by simply holding down the LB button. This allows you to auto-lock on enemies, offering a more precise shot. 

There's a decent variety of space-like weaponry and gadgets to aid you. Your first begin with a pulse rifle, which fires laser projectiles, along with a blast carbine that fires one projectile at a time. There's roughly, over a dozen weapon types throughout the game. Some have alternate fire modes, and most are required to defeat the tougher critters. Along with your weaponry, you have a few gadgets to help you traverse the environments. From the get go, you come equipped with a jet-pack, useful for reaching high surfaces and chasing off foes.  You also contain a grappling hook, capable of pulling blocked structure, such as rocks. You can also use it to latch onto high surfaces, allowing you to swing around like Tarzan.  It's a joy to use, and works similar to the rope mechanic in Worms.
Capsized isn't a walk in the park. It's a very tough game, and although you receive a satisfying amount of lives, losing them can be very quick. Enemies become more fierce, and some contain magic and very deadly projectiles.  You need your wits about you, and without them, you wont last long. The levels them self are incredibly well designed, each providing stunning hand-painted visuals. Exploring each environment is thoroughly enjoyable, and they all make great use of the gadgetry. 

The game is a little on the short side. There's around 12 levels in total, which shouldn't take more than 3 to 4 hours for your first run through. However, hidden secrets and unlocks may have your attention a while longer.  Along with the campaign, there's an arcade feature, providing a bunch of modes.  First on the list is Bot match. This has you competing in a death-match against an enemy AI. Second on the list is Time trial, which is a frantic race for oxygen to survive.  Survival is next, and this requires you to try survive endless waves of horde. Finally, there's Armless mode, which removes all your weapons.  All these modes require a certain amount of stars unlocked through campaign,  but it's a great incentive to replay the levels. 


For the asking price, Capsized is an affordable and fun little game. Anyone who enjoys fast-paced 2D games should enjoy Capsized for what it is.  It may be on the short side, but the gameplay and attention to detail is incredibly well made.  

8.0 "Great"

<![CDATA[Spartacus Legends Review]]>Thu, 04 Jul 2013 23:23:41 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/spartacus-legends-review
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Ubisoft

4.5 "Poor"

The bad way to make a Free-to-play game
Spartacus Legends is a free-of-charge brawler for Xbox Live Arcade.  Set in Ancient Rome, you take the role of a Gladiator, working your way through the arenas, battling against various types of deadly warriors. After a short tutorial on combat, with you playing as the powerful Spartacus himself, your taken control of a new recruit. You'll begin by entering small areas, fighting against not so challenging foes. As you win fights, you'll earn experience and level up. Gold coins are also obtained in the process, allowing you to purchase gear and weaponry. Changing the gladiator's appearance to your taste can be addictive. There's a nice selection of armour and weapons to kit out your warrior, but if your not willing to spend real cash,  it can take some time to earn the more expensive items. 

Like most FTP games, you are constantly reminded that real cash is on offer. For example. You may find yourself entering a match that requires a certain weapon. If you don't have it, you are given the option to buy coins with real cash. Constantly bumping into these menus is tedious. To get far without emptying your pocket, you will be forced in replaying the same arena's to build up your
in-game currency. All the arena's are divided into districts and when you complete a battle, you are punished with a two minute waiting time before you can revisit the same match. However, you can jump into an online match whenever you wish. This seems like a more satisfying choice. I found myself re-entering online matches, which also adds to your current level. It's where I found the game most enjoyable, and it's a great way to show off your kitted out Spartans and level.
A slow-mo effect is triggered when two Spartans attack at the same time.
The fighting itself is rather shallow . Watching your gladiator pull of gruesome finishers can be enjoyable to watch, but performing the same moves over and over feels like a chore. You have your basic attack, a block and dodge ability, along with a slower but more powerful attack.  You will occasionally need to combined attacks to change your opponents pattern. However, most of the time, all it takes is a basic attack and dodge.  Watching the same moves does become tiresome, however, playing as other Spartans provide new moves. Despite this, they all have the same effect, just with a different animation.

On to the visuals, and they are dated. This is one of the worst looking XBLA titles I've seen in a long time.  It's expected with most F2P games, but some more work could have been done to the environments. They look very murky, with low bland textures. The animations are not that impressive either, which seems like something from the previous console generation.


It's understandable how Spartacus Legends lacks polish and replay value. Most free games result in the same way. Still, free games are always worth trying, and Spartacus Legends is the same. You may even enjoy this free experience, but just don't expect it lasting long.

4.5 "Poor"

<![CDATA[Magic 2014 : Review]]>Wed, 03 Jul 2013 20:29:38 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/magic-2014-review
Genre : Strategy
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher:  Microsoft Studios

8.5  "Great"

The popular card game returns with more magic up it's sleeve. 
Magic : 2014 : Duels of the Planeswalkers is a very complex card game. So are the previous titles in the series, but if you spend enough time with it, you may find yourself completely hooked. I have to admit, I am still on a learning curve, but I can see how addictive the series can be. Most of you will know that DOTPW is based off a real 1993 card game, known as Magic : The Gathering.  Over one year ago, I knew nothing about the game. It wasn't till I played and reviewed last year's digital title that I was introduced to it. Bringing the card game to digital form was a perfect choice. Not only does in help introduce new crowds to the genre, but it's a great way to learn the rules. Just like last year's installment, a well illustrated tutorial is on hand to help newcomers to the series. 

To quickly sum up the premise of the game, you play as a Planeswalker, one of many elite spellcasters of the multiverse. Your capable of performing spells and summoning creatures, which you will use against a wide variety of opponents. Each game consists of two players, both battling it out for power and glory. You and your opponent always start with 20 lives. To win, you must deplete your opponents health to zero. The goal is simple enough, but there's far more depth to it than that. Not all cards are playable straight away. Each one requires mana, which is the main resource used to perform your attacks.  You generate mana by placing down cards with land, such as a forest. You'll begin with basic cards, requiring only one mana. As your mana increases, you can eventually perform more powerful attacks. There's lots more to get your head around, and newcomers may find it overwhelming at first. It does require a lot of dedication, if you wish to become a good player.
Splashes of blood and slashes are a great way to represent the attacks.
Compared to last year's installment, Magic 2014 boats plenty new content to make it worth the purchase. From new decks, a fresh new design, and a new feature that lets you customize your own decks. To begin with, you'll be prompted with the difficulty. Newcomers can go through a thorough tutorial, whilst core fans can jump straight into the campaign.  Campaign mode is split into five chapters, each with their own distinct planes (parallel universes). There's Zendikar, Shandalar,  Ravnica, Alara and Innistrad. A story is attached to them, providing cinematic cuteness throughout.  The plot is nothing spectacular, but it's still a great edition that brings more life to the card game. 

The new Sealed Play is where Magic 2014 really shines.  This mode allows you to customize your own decks by choosing cards from booster packs. You begin with six booster packs, and must select a card from each, totaling up to a pack of 40. The loyal fans are sure to enjoy customizing and playing their own decks. Newcomers may find it slightly daunting at first, but Stainless Games haven't forgotten those new to the game.  If your not sure what's the best cards to choose, you can use the auto-build feature, with the computer choosing them for you. It's a great way for newbies to enjoy the feature, and also use a variety of strongl cards.  It's a welcoming addition, but it's a shame it didn't arrive sooner. 


Magic 2014 is another great digital version of the 20 year old card game. It truly shines due to it's new Sealed Play mode and campaign story. It's the strongest one so far, making it a worthy replacement from last year's installment. 

8.5 "Great"

<![CDATA[Storm Review]]>Wed, 19 Jun 2013 18:28:00 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-live-arcade/storm-review
Genre: Puzzle
Eko Software
Publisher: indiePub

7.0 "Good"

Weather in your hands
Storm is a physics-based puzzle game developed by Eko Software. The objective to each level is simple.  Using an array of weather elements, you must guide a seed across many environments, leading it to fertile soil so it can grow a tree.  Each level is represented in days, with you starting off in Spring.  The first few levels are straight forward, teaching you how to pan the camera and guide the seed.  You begin with the Wind element, and with a simple tap on A, you can blow the seed across the level.  Each of the elements have their own recharge rate, so timing plays a key role in gameplay.  Eventually, you can double tap on A, producing a more powerful effect of that element.

It's learning curve turns steep very quickly.  Once it's shown you the basics, it doesn't hang around in throwing new elements at you. Soon, you'll be unleashing abilities, such as rain, tornadoes and lightning strikes. It mixes up the gameplay nicely, but the difficulty increases.  As mentioned before, timing is a big part of the challenge. For example, the lightning strike is used for sending a moving seed across a wide gap. If you miss the strike, you will need to start over. Combining each of the elements can take some planning, Mastering many of it's levels will take a while. The hard-core puzzle fans will find it enjoyable, but it may become frustrating to the more casual audience. 
It can take several hours to complete Storm.  Adventure mode is the core of the game, but there's still more to do.  Sprint Mode is a checkpoint race, with you sprinting throughout the levels, collecting spirits along the way.  There's also a free mode, along with a replay ability to increase your score on the leaderboard, if you like that sort of thing.

The visuals are very nicely detailed. There's a strong reminiscence of Braid about it, with it's hand painted art style. It's not as eye-popping, but it's still a nice looking game nevertheless. They are very easy on the eyes, and it blends in well with it's tranquilising background sounds. 
Storm is a challenging puzzle game. It doesn't amaze in the visuals and gameplay department, but it's still a relaxing and fun time waster. If your looking for a simplistic but tough puzzle game, Storm should do the trick. 

7.0 "Good"