<![CDATA[Arcade Wednesday - XBOX 360]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 00:16:00 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[South Park - The Stick of Truth Review (Xbox 360)]]>Mon, 17 Mar 2014 09:03:43 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/south-park-the-stick-of-truth-review-xbox-360
Developer: Obsidion Entertainment Publisher: Ubisoft Genre: RPG Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
How the animated series, "South Park",  has remained strong for over twenty year's is impressive. It's an achievement even creators Tray Parker and Matt Stone couldn't have predicted. Within that time, a few video game adaptations have released, along with some arcade titles. Yet, none have truly captured the essence of the show. The Stick of Truth, on the other hand, does just that. After multiple delays and changes is developers, TSOT proves to be the ultimate South Park video game that fans have been waiting for.

South Park: TSOT is a two-dimensional role playing game. But when I say role play, I mean it in the lightest sense. This isn't as deep or lengthy as most RPG's entail. Exploration is limited, combat is simplistic, and there's little replay value once the journey ends. However, it certainly doesn't disappoint. Think of TSOT as a 10 -14 hour long episode, craming just about every character in the series. You can expect lots of crude humour, references to past episodes, and well written stories . It's the most ambitious South Park game ever, making it one truly memorable adventure.  
Your the new kid in town - a customizable hero - who's moved into a house with very strange parents. After exploring your new home, your strictly told to go out and make some friends. This is your first quest, which helps you get a feel for the controls and overall layout. From steeping outside, your soon acquainted with some familiar faces, such as Cartman, Butters and Kenny. Before you know it, your choosing side between a battle against humans and elves. A powerful stick, capable of altering the universe, is at the centre. Of course, none of this is really happening. It's just dressed up kids with a bazar imagination.

Early on, you must decide your hero's fate. There's four classes, Thief, Mage, Warrior and Jew. Each one has it's own special traits. For example, choosing the Thief will allow you to sneak and steal objects better. Choose the Mage, and you can unleash mystical powers in battle. Each class can equipped the same weapons, though. This makes them feel rather samey, and it leaves little enticement to replay the game as a different class.

Most of your time will be spent exploring various areas of the town . As you discover new places, you can fast travel to them promtly, using Timmy's traveling service. The map isn't huge, but it's still a satisfying scale with plenty to see and do. You could easily get distracted from your main objective. Whether it's ransacking a building for loot, fighting a group of enemies, or completing a side quest. Locked doors and chests also see you searching for keys.  These are nice little distractions, and they provide a great incentive to backtrack parts of the town.
Along the way, you'll bump into many different enemies. They begin as small kids, but soon escalade into groups, wild animals, and Boss Battles. Once you head down a path filled with foes, your forced into battle. The combat is strictly turn-based. You choose a tactical approach, then simply watch it unfold. There's a bit more skill to it than that, though. All attacks can produce greater damage by performing a perfectly timed button tap. It's merely a quick-time event, but it's still a nice way to keep you engaged in battle.

A friend also aids you in battle. These can alter, as you add more friends to your in-game Facebook-like account. Your friends can attack foes and provide health boosts. There's a nice array of tactical approaches, such as standard and heavy melee attacks. There's also magic spells, with more unlocking as you progress. These provide some great humour in the game. For instance, fart magic sees you farting on your enemies, yes, farting.

The visuals are incredibly authentic to the show. The crappy paper cut art style translates into live-action extremely well. It looks like a real episode, and the sound is just as impressive. The only down side is it's performance on Xbox 360. There's some frequent frame rate stutter, along with the occasional bugs. Yet, it's only slight, and shouldn't detract you from exploring Colorado.

Obsidion have wonderfully crafted a South Park game that's true to the animated sit com. The simplistic turn-based combat may not appeal to everyone, but those after a casual RPG shouldn't be left disappointed. The attention to detail, from the visuals, sound and story-telling is incredibly authentic. It's the best South Park game ever made, and it may well be the only one.
<![CDATA[Assassin's Creed IV : Black Flag Review]]>Thu, 07 Nov 2013 13:03:29 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/assassins-creed-iv-black-flag-review1
Genre: Action-Adventure
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

8.5 "GREAT"

Xbox 360,  PS3,  PC,  Xbox One,  PS4


Assassin's Creed III was a worthy but inconsistent entry to the historical adventure series. It was
so ambitious that the overall experience felt disjointed. From it's prolonged opening act, to it's linear mission structure, AC III seemed like it had far too many boots to fill. Despite this, Ubisoft managed to introduce some great elements. The hunting mechanic was one of them, allowing you to stalk and kill wildlife for resources. Naval Battles, however, where the main attraction. These provided scripted side quests, letting you helm your own ship. You could command a crew, and plunder enemy ships in intense sea battles.

With AC IV : Black Flag, Ubisoft really pushes the boat out. Not just with it's presentation, but with the amount of variety. This is the largest AC yet, with a surprisingly vast and diverse world. The Caribbean is filled with lots of side activities, and there's plenty of reasons given to you for exploring every nook and cranny. It's easy to forget the main story, and simply venture off into the unknown. Whether it's exploring an underwater wreckage for loot, demolishing a Fort with your ship's cannons, or simply dropping anchor and swimming to a tropical island. You create your own fun, and with it's less restrictive environment, exploring has never felt so gratifying.
Black Flag is stunning, even on current-gen.
Set in 1715, a time known as the "Golden Age of Piracy" a conflict is brewing between the Assassin's and Templar's. You take the role of Edward Kenway, a  British privateer-turned pirate. Edward is the grandfather to Connor from AC III, but despite his relation, Edward is far less serious. He's a more charismatic character when compared to past protagonists. It brings a more light-hearted tone to the series, and it blends well with it's pirate-y theme. Edward is a true pirate, a ruthless, untrustworthy and greedy one at that. He simply want's a life of fortune, and will take anything that doesn't belong to him. Edward's quickly becomes raveled in the on-going conflict, but he only seems to help when it benefits himself. Living the rich life is always his main priority. 
Your first introduced to Edward in an explosive Naval Battle. Your quickly thrown into action, with you taking the helm of Captain Edward's' ship. Your objective is simple, sink the enemy ships and survive at all costs. But Edward soon becomes shipwrecked, left washed up on shore a tropical island. From this moment, your given a small tutorial before let loose in it's open-world. It's obvious that Ubisoft listened to the criticism from AC III, as your no longer waiting hours upon end before given freedom to explore. Restricted paths are no longer a concern, which makes exploration far more engrossing than ever before.
Edward soon forms a crew and acquires a new ship, called the "Jackdaw". You can then sail the vast ocean at your own leisure. A lot of your time will be spent at sea, traveling to various ports, islands and Districts, etc. The ocean's scale can seem rather daunting when in map-view, but a fast-travel feature means your never required to traverse across the same stretches of water. However, sailing the sea is where most of the memorable and enthralling experiences lie. It could be from harpooning a giant whale, tackling the ship against an aggressive storm, wrestling with a shark, or simply diving into an underwater wreckage in search of loot.

The Naval Battles are the most spectacular events. They work much like they did in AC III, but are no longer scripted events. The ocean is filled with plenty of small and large ships for you to battle against. Simply viewing one through your spyglass gives you details on their strength and resources. Opening-fire on any ship is entirely up to you, and doing so can be a thrilling experience. Small ships can be easily sunk with one or two rounds of cannons. Yet, the larger ships can be far more challenging. There's a neat array of weapons, which you can purchase from collecting resources by plundering ships. You could increase the Hull's armour, improve the damage of your cannons, or even add a Mortar. It can be extremely addictive trying to improve your ship, and it makes challenging other ships so enticing.

Large ships are the most exciting to battle, mostly due to the ability to climb on board. Swinging to your foes burning ship, then assassinating the captain from above is an instant joy. It's these instances when your reminded it's very much an AC game, as much as a pirate one. Aerial assassination, stealth kills and free-running works seamlessly, but on slight occasions I found Edward hopping to a structure I didn't intend to. Combat is also fluid and responsive. It's pretty much unchanged from it's predecessors, with you given a standard and heavy attack, along with dodge and counter attacks. It's just as fun as it's ever been, and there's some nice pirate weaponry to spice things up, such as swords and duel-pistols.
Open-ended Assassination's make a welcoming return, which gives players more freedom in how they execute. Whether it's sneaking up behind your target, executing them discreetly with your hidden blade, luring them into a haystack , or simply dropping down from above. The environments are well designed, making it easy for you to accomplish your desired assassinations. There are, however, the return of  eavesdropping missions, which require you to pursue targets, listening in on their conversations. These are the most uninteresting sections of the game. They are the weakest addition to the series, and it's surprising that they return in AC IV.

The visuals shouldn't go unmentioned. Even though this is the current-gen version, it looks nothing less than fantastic. The amount of detail is impressive, especially when considering it's scale. It all looks beautifully crisp, from the buildings, lush tropical islands, to the ocean waves. There's hardly any loading times either, and it all runs very smooth. Occasionally, you may find some citizens popping into view, but I only noticed this on a few occasions.

Along with single-player, also comes multiplayer. Online has been a big focus since it was first introduced in Brotherhood. In Black Flag, Ubisoft don't just add the same modes and provide new map designs. There's still your traditional modes, such as Manhunt and Wolfpack mode. Yet, the new Game Lab tool is what may have you returning. This allows you to personalize game modes to your taste. There's tons of options, such as the ability to choose what abilities can be performed. You can also change the score rewarded for kills, and much more. It's a great new addition, and one that keeps the multiplayer fresh.
AC : Black Flag is a great step up from it's predecessors. There's enough here to keep the series at an interesting level. The main highlight's are with it's large open world. Then there's the Naval Battles and a more enjoyable single-player offering than in AC III. Overall, this is one of the best, if not the best AC game yet. It's a refreshing entry, and certainly one of 2013's biggest highlights.
8.5 "GREAT"
Review by Gareth Smith
<![CDATA[Grand Theft Auto Online Review]]>Sat, 12 Oct 2013 00:29:37 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/grand-theft-auto-online-review
Genre: Sandbox
Developer Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

8.0 "GREAT"

Xbox 360, PS3


Grand Theft Auto V
is one of the greatest video games this generation. It's Rockstar's hallmark, and one that's already made a name for itself in the Guinness World Records. But it's fair to say, the Online component hasn't receive the same amount of praise. Although GTA Online was released two weeks after the launch of GTA V, Online still suffered from an overall polish. With it's major server issues aside, (which are now stable), I encountered numerous glitches over the past few days. Whether it was placing a mask on my avatar's face, then removing it to find him completely bald, or simply finding him vanished from the screen. The strangest one yet had me sunk to the depths of the ocean, allowing me to freely run around as if I was on ground level. 

However, glitches are inevitable in a game at this scale, and I'm sure Rockstar will fix most of them rather promptly. GTA Online has already received some major updates, preventing freezing, character and money loss. It's now at a stable level, and when everything runs smoothly it can be an amazing experience. Exploring the whole of Los Santos and Blaine County with friends is a never ending joy. Whether it's going sightseeing, listening to the same radio station, or taking part in missions and activities. There's lots to see and do, but it requires a fair share of dedication to experience everything on offer. The first few hours can be a drag. There's enough content to keep you amused, but most of the fun modes don't appear till late on.  

When heading into GTA Online for the first time, you must create a personal avatar. Interestingly, your characters appearance, whether that be male of female,  is determined on their grandparents. It's a neat touch, but it doesn't pan out as well as you may like. The tools are limiting, making it hard to create your dream avatar. Yet, it does the job, and there's a nice catalogue of clothing, accessories and hair styles to purchase for your character at a later date.  When ready, you will see your avatar glancing through the plane window, as he or she lands into Los Santos. Franklin's buddy, Lamar, is waiting for you at the airport.  He quickly shows you the ropes, equipping you with a pistol, along with your own personal vehicle. Before you know it, your joined by numerous players, left to defend by yourself. What you do in the world is entirely  up to you.
Most of online is structured around the in-game cell phone.  From here, you can access incoming jobs, missions, and even invites from random players. It's also used for surfing the virtual internet, allowing you to purchase vehicles. But what's most impressive, is that you can purchase property. With enough cash, you can buy small and large luxury apartments, allowing you and your friends to hang out in. It's not something that's going to happen over night, though. The price range is around 250,000, so you will need plenty of dedication if your willing to have your own place. If you do manage to own property, you can store your vehicles within it's garage.  Property also seems to be factor of Rockstar's upcoming heists, as most of them come with a planning board. But it's still unclear how Heists will work for the time being.
"Lamar is one of many story-driven characters that appear online"
As you complete jobs, missions and other activities, you'll receive reputation points (RP). This levels up your character, as well as unlocking new content. Whether it's new jobs, missions or activities, or new clothing and parts for your vehicles. The first few hours can be a drag, but as you progress, new opportunities will become available. From sports, such as Darts, Tennis and Arm Wrestling, to races and death-matches. There's also many perks to unlock, such as ammo drops, and even the ability to lower your wanted level. The amount of content to unlock is impressive, but the long dedication my put some people off. 

Money also plays a major role online, as it's needed for purchasing your ammo, weapons etc. Rather than weapons and ammo left dotted around the map, like in GTA IV, you have to earn everything yourself. It's a more realistic approach, and something that will have you returning.  Cash is dished out from completed jobs, missions and actives, as well as killing. Anyone can steal your hard earned money, but Rockstar have designed a neat feature. Anytime, you can transfer your money to your bank, via the cell-phone. You can also use ATM machines, which are placed thorough Los Santos. It's a neat touch, and one that gives a sense of realism.
One of the fastest and most thrilling ways to earn cash is by robbing a convenience store. Simply entering the store allows you to intimidate the shopkeeper by aiming at him with your weapon. A small gauge bar indicates the time taken for him to empty the cash register. A neat trick allows you to shout into your console's headset, which speeds up the process. Running out with the cash, entering your friends getaway vehicle and driving away is always a thrilling moment. The police response times are fast, so you'll find yourself in a high speed chase most of the time.

Despite it's troubles at launch, GTAO is gradually turning into an amazing online experience. It has the potential to be even better, but it will just take time. Rockstar are set to add more content over the coming months, so GTAO should remain strong for a very long time. It's one of the most ambitious online experiences ever made, and one that certainly shouldn't be missed this generation.

8.0 "GREAT"

<![CDATA[Grand Theft Auto V Review]]>Sun, 22 Sep 2013 19:01:53 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/grand-theft-auto-v-review
Genre: Sandbox
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games


Xbox 360 , PS3


GTA V exceeds the same way San Andreas did back in 2004. Not only does it push the boundaries of current-gen, it becomes one of the greatest video games of all time. GTA V, which sees the return of Los Santos - a reimagining of Los Angeles, is the most ambitious undertaking from Rockstar yet. The scope, attention to detail and variety is simply staggering, especially when considering it's running off eight year old hardware. Your first step into sunny Los Santos is awe-inspiring. It's this generations biggest technical achievement , and even next-gen titles could have an hard time matching GTA V's presentation.

The prologue takes a more grounded approach, rather than letting you immediately run wild in Los Santos. A flashback heist starts the ball rolling, with you taking the role of Michael, along with his buddy, Trevor. Control is limited at first, with only a few adjustments to the left trigger as you aim at some hostages. It's not the most attractive way to represent the sun-soaked city, Los Santos. However, it's certainly the most gripping and memorable introduction from the series yet. It serves as a backstory, but also provides a great tutorial for it's various mechanics. Within the first twenty minutes, you'll be shooting, taking cover, using the characters switching ability, and taking a ride behind the wheel. It's a frantic opening act, but soon as the prologue ends, GTA V's pacing slows down for a while.
Gradually, you are introduced to the three main protagonists, Michael, Franklin and Trevor, which are all playable throughout the game. Michael is a retired middle-aged thief, living at the Hollywood side of Los Santos. He lives in a huge mansion with his wife, daughter and son. It sounds like the perfect retirement, but it's far from it. Michael is under witness protection, his family hate him, and he's just miserable. He wants the good life, but its not long before he's back to his criminal antics.
The first visit to Los Santos is truly awe-inspiring.
Franklin lives in a run-down neighbourhood with his aunt. He's a drug dealer and repo-man, currently working for a car dealership owner. Then there's Trevor, who is the craziest of the bunch. He's a psychopathic drugs dealer, who comes across as very unpredictable and ruthless. Most people will find him the highlight of GTA V's narrative, mostly due to his insane antics. He also provides some of the most action packed and memorable missions in GTA V. There's some great explosive set pieces. One of them, for example, sees you pouring gasoline throughout a building, setting it alight, then watching it's fiery trail before the big explosion. 

It takes a while before GTA V fully opens up. You wont be able to play as all three characters straight away. When available, you can switch between them on the fly whilst roaming Los Santos. Doing so pans out into a Birds-eye view, then focuses back in on your chosen character. They all have their own separate lives, which Rockstar do a wonderful job in making it feel believable. For example, you may switch to Michael, only to find himself sat watching a movie. Switch to Trevor, and he might be currently chased by cops. They even change their clothes as the days go on. It's all a neat illusion, making each character feel like their living their lives, even when your not around to see it. 
The amount of detail Rockstar have achieved is mind-blowing. From it's sharp draw distance, to it's realistic ocean waves.
Michael, Franklin and Trevor each have their own set of missions. They all interweave, providing an interesting approach to story-telling. Some missions only require one protagonist, whilst another may contain two or all three. It can feel fairly scripted at times, forcing you to switch character. However, there's always some sense of freedom. One example is when Michael is rappelling a building. You then switch to Franklin to provide sniper support. Trevor is hovering by in his getaway chopper, with you eventually given the ability to switch between all three at will. It provides a nice array of angles for you to approach, and it all works seemingly well.  
GTA V stands out the most with it's series of heists. These crop up throughout the main story, and they take some lengthy planning. Before a big heist goes down, each of the anti-heroes must do their bit to pull it off. Whether it's Michael stealing a specific vehicle, Trevor stashing a getaway vehicle, or Franklin acquiring some face masks. Once everything is in place, you are usually given two ways of executing the heist. From a notice board, you can choose the stealth and smart routine , or simply go in guns blazing. Crew members can also be hired to help you, and they all have unique qualities. Choosing someone greatly skilled for the job is always the best approach. However, they take a larger cut when the cash is divided.

Freedom in how a heist is executed provides a whole new depth to the series. There's lots of replay value, with sections you cannot witness the first time around. For example, choosing the sneaky approach on the jewellery store will have Franklin throwing sleeping gas into air vents. Going in loud will simply miss this section. The variety and depth is impressive, and it's an addictive way to replay the story to see what you missed.
With the story aside, most of GTA V's immersion comes from Los Santos itself. Instead of unlocking areas of the map - like in past GTA titles, the whole of Los Santos is open straight away. Describing how vast it is comes off tricky. It's something you have to see with your own eyes to believe. The city area alone is big, but when you reach the outskirts, you realise it was only a small section. You can travel to Blaine County, go sightseeing in the country side and mountain tops, visit beaches and even a desert. If that wasn't enough, you can even explore the depths of Los Santos. See an ocean ?, then you can swim and dive in it whenever you wish.
It's surprisingly vast, and none of the space is wasted either. There's a huge array of things to see and do. From activities, such as Tennis, Golf, Yoga, and Triathlons. There's also hunting, side missions and random events, which appear as blue dots throughout the world. Completing these mostly have you saving someone from danger, or driving them to a location. Cloth shops, Tattoo Parlours and Hairdressers make a welcoming return, providing a lot more depth to customization than in GTA IV. Weapons can also be customized this time, providing plenty of attachments to tweak your guns. The verity given to you all at once is astonishing, and can be very overwhelming.
The amount of lively activity and detail on-screen is staggering
Some of the criticism GTA IV received was with the vehicle  handling, which felt like you was driving across thin ice. In GTA V, Rockstar have refined the steering, which now makes exploring even more thrilling. Vehicles now grip much easier, making it a joy to dodge incoming traffic or take sharp turns. The cover system and weapon system has also been improved. Moving into cover feels more realistic, and items are now equipped with a weapon wheel. This is the same for the radio channels, which makes navigating everything much more easy. 
There's a larger emphasis on money this time. Earning heaps of cash for completed missions now makes more sense, rather than just a fancy way to show your accomplishment. From your in-game phone, you can browse the net to spend your cash. Whether it's purchasing a plane for your newly owned hanger, or a fast car for your garage. You can even invest in the stock market, allowing you to earn income.

GTA V also provides a lite RPG element. Franklin, Trevor and Michael each have separate stats, which increase depending on how you perform. These skills are divided into various categories, such as Strength, Stamina, Lung capacity and driving. The more you drive, the better the handling will become. The more you swim underwater, the longer you can hold your breath. It's nothing ground breaking, but it's a nice little element that rewards you for exploring.

GTA V deserves all the praise and hype it received. With a stunning and immersive world, varied missions and thrilling heists, GTA V is the best in it's series. Not just that, GTA V is one of the greatest achievements in gaming history. 


Review by Gareth Smith
<![CDATA[Rayman Legends Review]]>Mon, 02 Sep 2013 13:25:13 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/rayman-legends-review
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Ubisoft 
Publisher: Ubisfot

9.5  "SUPERB"

Xbox 360, PS3 , Wii U


Limbless hero, Rayman, wasn't around much when those Raving Rabbids turned up. But he made a surprising comeback with the 2011 game, Origins. Not only did it reintroduce the traditional 2D platforming, it became one of the most creative and charming platformer this generation. It was Rayman's best outing, and topping it would be hard. But it's sequel, Legends, does just that. It constantly boasts new ideas, refines it's mechanics, amazes with it's visuals, and wraps it all up with an excellent soundtrack. The amount of variety and detail poured into Legends is staggering. It's not only Rayman's best adventure, it's arguably the best side-scrolling platformer to date.

Legends continues where Origins ended. The opening sees Rayman, Globox and the Teensies snoozing in the Glade of Dreams. They've been asleep for a centaury, and in that time, the Bubbles Dreamer's nightmares have grown in strength and quantities. But things turn horribly wrong when five dark Teensies kidnap the ten princesses. Murpy awakes Rayman to the living nightmare. Once again, Rayman must be the hero, traveling across strange worlds, defeating the evil and rescuing his friends. Yes, the plot is wafer-thin, but a strong story is never needed in a game like this. It's silliness produces some bazar, but wonderful levels. There's no game quite like it, and wall-jumping as a duck is a great example.
Much like Origins, Legends consists of various worlds, with each one having a series of levels. From a picture gallery - the main hub world, large framed painting stand on display, representing each world. Leaping into a painting opens up a series of levels. You begin by traversing across a lush forest, jumping and punching your way to the end. It's fairly simple platforming at first, but it's not long before new inventive ideas are thrown at you. Before you know it, Rayman is wall-jumping, dodging obstacles, swimming, swinging, and fighting huge bosses. Just when you get used to a level, another once comes along and replaces it with something even fresher.

This is where Legends surprises. It's platforming is so charming and creative throughout it's 11-12 hours journey, you wont want to put down the controller. Every level is a joy, and they're all stunning to look at. Each one has crisp visuals, bursting with vibrant colours. It transitions 2D and 3D effects wonderfully, providing some very eye-catching set pieces. The background score is also top notch, each with it's own distinct sounds to suit the atmosphere. A great example is the underwater stealth sections, which provide a James Bond-like musical score. It sounds great, and helps immerse you in the level.
Each level contains ten Teensies for you to rescue. Most of them are easily spotted, but the Queen and King Teensie are much harder to find. They remain hidden throughout secret passageways, which only a sharp eye can spot. If you listen carefully, though, you can hear their small cry for help, giving you an idea of their whereabouts. You can chose to leave them, but saving them can dramatically change the length of a level, providing more platforming and puzzles. Rescuing them is always a delightful moment, and it offers some great replay-value for those you left behind.  

Lums - yellow glowing orbs with wings, completely litter the levels. Pocketing these not only rewards you with a score at the end of each level, but it also unlocks tons of costumes. Snatching them all on a level earns you a Lucky Ticket, which is a slight pun to the Wii U version. These tickets are manually scratched, and doing so can unlock more Lums, new levels, and creatures. These creatures don't do anything in-game, but do provide you with Lums every day you visit them. Scratching these tickets are a delightful little distraction, and it's a charming way to unlock content along the way. 
The 3D Boss Battles look great
There's a great mix of pacing throughout the game. Some levels are slow-paced, whilst others are a frantic rush to the exit. The Invasion levels are extremely fast, which are speed runs with set times to beat. Then there's the music levels, which have you moving along the screen, matching your jumps and other movements to the rhythm of the music. It's great fun, and much easier than it sounds. If the single-player levels weren't enough, you can also play Back to Origins, which is a recreation of levels from Origins. It's a nice little dose of nostalgia, but also a great taste for those who never played it's predecessor. 

If all that wasn't enough, there's also daily and weekly challenges. These have you competing with other players online ghost times. One level could be simple collecting Lums in the fastest time, or racing to the end of a level.  If no one beats your score within the day or week, Lums will be awarded to you when you turn on the. game It's a great system, and the real competitive players may find it very addictive. 


Rayman Legends is a genius work of art. You will immediately fall in love with it's creative, charming gameplay. It's a visually stunning game, and there's enough content to keep you comes back for weeks. If you adore the limbless hero, or simply enjoy platformers, Rayman Legends shouldn't be missed.

9.5 "Superb"
<![CDATA[Splinter Cell Blacklist Review]]>Tue, 27 Aug 2013 00:24:08 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/splinter-cell-blacklist-review
Genre: Stealth
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft

8.0 "GREAT"

Xbox 360 , PS3, PC


Superspy, Sam Fisher, steps back into the shadows. This time, he's faced with a global terrorist unit, known as "The Engineers".  They have demands, and broadcast a bold statement that if their not met, they will attack the United States of America every seven days. The clock is slowly ticking, and it's up to Sam and his newly formed team, Fourth Echelon, to stop the threat before the countdown reaches zero. Blacklist takes place after events of Conviction, so you do see some familiar faces, such as Grim and Victor Coste. It's a gripping Tom Clancy espionage plot,  filled with explosions, twist and turns.  However, it's not quite as consistent as Sam's personal vendetta in Conviction.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist certainly has all the goodies you'd want from a Splinter Cell game. It's got the brutal stealth takedowns, the high-end equipment and weapons, but something is missing. That something is Sam's voice, who is no longer voiced by actor Michael Ironside. It does seem rather odd to not hear Fisher's famous gruff voice. It feels like it's lost a spark, but it's something you get used too over the games course. Blacklist still feels like a Splinter Cell game, however. In fact, Blacklist brings back memories of the older games in the series. It's like a rebirth of Chaos Theory, reintroducing some gadgets, and bringing back the freedom to moving dead bodies. Blacklist is a solid entry, and one that proves it's shadowy roots are resurfacing.
Ubisoft tries to please both crowds in Blacklist. The game is built with player choice in mind, allowing you to choose how a mission is executed. If you like playing it the old fashioned way, sticking to the shadows, eliminating foes discreetly, then you can. If going in guns blazing is more your scene, then you can do that too. It's entirely up to you how you approach the game. It blends stealth and action surprisingly well, and works similar to Conviction. It's almost a clone, bringing along some of the same mechanics. The cover system is back, allowing Sam to swiftly slide into cover, then dart across to nearby structure with a simple button tap. The "Mark and Execute" ability also returns, allowing you to mark distant targets, then trigger a slo-mo execution, taking them out in quick succession. A new tweak, called "Killing in Motion" now allows you to execute whilst running. It's fluid, responsive, and a thrill to use, no matter how many times you do it.

You are greatly rewarded in Blacklist, regardless on how you play. Whether you choose stealth or not, you are given a score and cash based on your performance. Each mission ends with an overall score, which is split into three play areas: Ghost, Panther and Assault. Ghost is for those who enjoy silently taking down enemies with non-lethal force. Panther is the same, but for those who prefer lethal takedowns. Then finally, there's Assault, which is for those with a happy trigger finger, going in loud. Your never punished for combining the stealth and assault route. Once a mission is complete, the scores are totalled in each area, then the cash is dished out.
Blacklist takes freedom even further with it's custom-load outs. Before each mission, you are briefed, then given  a recommendation to which weapons and gadgets best suite the objective. You can, however, choose your own equipment to take with you. It's fairly limited to begin with, but as you earn some serious cash, you can purchase from a large verity of items. From Sonar Pulse goggles, grenades, tear gas, and even a Tri-Rotor, which is a remote controlled flying drone, capable of stunning foes with shock darks. There's also a wide selection of weapons, such as an AK47, FAMUS, and more. Surprisingly, all these items can be upgraded. Whether it's adding sonar scanning to your tri-rotor, or placing a red dot sight to your assault rifle.

Fisher is customizable too, allowing you to equip him with various clothing. From suits, gloves, boots, and even the colour of his goggle lights. It's not just a visual treat either, as dressing up Sam can dramatically improve gameplay. For example, placing gloves can increase weapon handling, whilst boots can reduce the noise from waking or sprinting. It's a surprisingly deep system, and it's addictively fun to work your way through the unlocks. Even after one play-through, it's fun to replay a mission with a different load-out.

The Paladin plays a key role in Blacklist. This is a military aircraft, used as Fourth Echelon's headquarters. Smartly done, the plane is your interactive menu, allowing you to freely move around it at your leisure. You can talk to your team, and even phone Sarah, which each have something new to say between missions. From the SMI - Interactive Map, you can select single-player levels, co-op missions and multiplayer modes. It's a clever way to showcase the various game types, and it blends in very well. The plane can also be upgraded, allowing you to gain access to custom-built prototype weapons, faster health regeneration and more custom loadouts. It's a nice little distraction, but cash is received a bit too easily, and fully upgrading the plane doesn't take that long.
Sam and Grim using the SMI to plan their attack.
Singleplayer is satisfying , lasting a good 8-10 hours. The levels are varied, and presented with the same projected text seen in Conviction. The environments are well detailed, but seem slightly dated. However, everything runs fluidly, and the voice acting is sold throughout.  It's the cinematic cutscenes where the game truly suffers. It may be different on PC, but the 360 version is hurt by aggressive screen tearing. It can be distracting at times, but it shouldn't stop you immersed in it's beautiful set pieces.

The weakest part of the game has to be it's singleplayer. It's by no means bad, but the multiplayer offering is far more creative. Co-op missions are varied, providing a nice verity of objectives and team work. One mission could have you surviving a wave of foes, whilst another may force you to be stealthy. One of the best mission has you taking control of a UAV, defending your friend whilst he reaches the objective. Working together is thoroughly enjoyable, and If found it more enjoyable than most of it's solo campaign.

Fans will be most excited for the return of Spies VS Mercs, which was first introduced in 2004's Pandora Tomorrow. It's back, and better than ever. If you are new to the game mode, then it's as simple as the title. One team are the spies, and the other side are the Mercs, which play in a first person perspective.  Each side has a verity of gadgets to aid them, and you can set your own custom load-out, just like in singleplayer. The maps are very well designed, making it a blast to sneak around as a Spy. There's plenty of climbable structure, meaning you have to keep a keen eye on death from above takedowns. As a Merc, it's rather creepy, especially in the low light environments. It's extremely intense, and probably the best multiplayer offering the series has seen for a long time.

Splinter Cell : Blacklist is a solid entry that perfectly balances it's stealth mechanics, and those introduced in Conviction. It may not be the ultimate Splinter Cell game, but it's not far away. With some cool gadgets, thrilling co-op and the comeback of Spies VS Merc, Blacklist is a return to form, and shouldn't be missed by fans of the series. 

8.0 "GREAT"

<![CDATA[Saints Row IV Review]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2013 23:30:40 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/saints-row-iv-review
Genre: Sandbox
Developer: Volition
Publisher: Deep Silver

8.5 "GREAT"

Xbox 360, PS3, PC


After the crazy behavior thrown into Saints Row The Third, it's hard to imagine the series turning anymore insane. But the latest return to Steelport proves that developer Volition can go the extra mile of ridiculous. Saints Row IV is still packed with all the crazy missions, humor and activities you'd expect from the series. As well, there's plenty new elements that will keep the series at an interesting level. This time, supernatural powers come to play. Anyone who's played games such as Prototype 2 or Crackdown will have an idea what to expect in SR IV. It may be stepping away from the series roots, and some may not like it. But it's hard not to enjoy what's on offer. It's the biggest and most ridiculously fun outing yet. I haven't a clue how they could top this. 

When we last saw the Third Street Saints, they became celebrities. Now, they have achieved the highest rank possible, presidential status. Once again, you play as the Saints leader, and you've been elected as president of the United States. Without warning, Steelport is suddenly attacked by an alien race, known as the Zin. You are soon abducted by the leader, Zinyak, who is extremely telepathic. He's hilarious, and provides some of the humor throughout the game. The strangest part comes when you realize Zinyak has constructed an artificial world of Steelport. A Matrix-style simulation, which you get thrown straight in the middle of for Zinyak's amusement.

As you begin to roam around the re-imagined Steelport, you'll notice some big changes. Not only does Steelport look darker, but most of the infrastructure has vanished. There's no Syndicate Tower, no shops owned by the Saints, and no cribs to customize or lay low in. The Saints are not even here, and the only real connection you have with the Third Street Saints is Kinzie. She's the computer geek that will guide you throughout the game. She uses her hacking abilities to break you out of the simulation. This leaves you battling on Zinyak's space station, which you eventually destroy and lead your own ship, acting as a hub. From here, you can fast travel between reality and the simulation world at any given time. Yes, like The Matrix. 
Once again, Steelport is your playground. You choose what to do, whether it's completing story missions, side quests, competing in activities, finding collectibles, etc. Many well known activities make a return, such as Insurance Fraud. There's also some new additions. One of them is Mech Suite Mayhem, which is simply a spin on Tank Mayhem. Professor Genki also makes an appearance, bringing along some new games. Mind over Murder is one of them, and this requires you to pick up objects and fling them through coloured hoops using your Telekinesis ability. You can once again earn Bronze, Silver and Gold medals, and trying to achieve the high score is always addictively fun. 

Superpowers are the main highlight. They can drastically change how you play SR IV. For one, stealing cars is no longer necessary to quickly traverse the city of Steelport. Although you can still hijack vehicles, I found myself using the supernatural sprint ability far more often. Before, I would hop in a vehicle and race around with Nitrous. Although this can still be achieved, I never felt that compelled to doing it. The only time I really used vehicles was when a mission required me to do so. Soon as your able to sprint and leap across rooftops like the Hulk, you won;t want to drive again, as it's so much fun. 
Sprinting is extremely powerful.
As you progress, new abilities are introduced. Each one is mapped to the D-pad, and they all come with a mandatory training ground, designed by Kinzie. The abilities can range from, freezing enemies with ice, stunning foes with a powerful stomp, and picking up objects with telekinesis. They're all a blast to use, and each on has it's own cool-down rate, so they never seem too overpowering. 

Shinny blue clusters completely litter Steelpot. Collecting these allow you to upgrade your powers. They're all over the place, glistening on buildings and above tall skyscrapers. Most of them can easily be collected by walking into them. Others are hidden, and require your powers to snatch them. For example, you may discover some inside a large ball, which must be broken using Telekinesis. Whilst others may be buried, requiring you to power stomp and bring them up. You could literally spend hours collecting clusters, and it's a fun way to increase your abilities strengths.

The story section provides a great variety. You'll do lots of crazy stuff, such as controlling a Mech, flying a spaceship, driving a tank, and lots, lots more. And that's just in the story alone. Not many open-world games are this varied, and even ten hours in, it's hard not to return to Steelport. In the open-world, you can also take down Zinyak's strongholds, weakening his defences. Although weaponry isn't always needed, there are some fun guns to take down the Zin with. From laser pistols, to my favorite, the Dub-step gun. 


Saints Row IV is a great open world game. It's completely random and makes no sense, but it's not bothered. Saints Row IV is more about having a fun time, and that's exactly what it achieves. It's packed with lots to do, and it's certainly Volitions best visit to Steelport yet. It's one of the most enjoyable sandbox games in a long time, and I cannot recommend it enough. 

8.5 "GREAT"

<![CDATA[Dark Review]]>Sun, 14 Jul 2013 16:18:28 GMThttp://www.arcadewednesday.com/xbox-360/dark-review
Genre: Stealth 
Developer: Kalypso
Publisher: Kalypso 


Dark has a few  neat tricks up it's sleeve. Unfortunately, it doesn't execute them very well. It's a shame, because the premise is rather cool, and if done right, this could have been a very enjoyable and memorable game. Developed by Kalypso, the same studio behind the Tropico series, Dark introduces you to a cartoonish, action RPG, set in a dark world which contains a small society of vampires. You take the helm of Eric Bane, a youngster who doesn't realise he's a vampire at first. You begin in a nightclub, with Eric orientated and attacked with flashbacks, leaving him confused to what's going on. It's not long before your told what you've become. Your not a fully turned vampire yet, and you require blood from others to stop yourself transforming into a ghoul. Part of the mystery is finding out who turned you. This is most of the narrative in a nut shell, and it's not that interesting. Even Eric is a very underwhelming and bland protagonist to play.  

Stealth is relied on heavily throughout the game, so having a weak mechanic isn't a great start. This is where Dark begins to fall apart. The level design is built with stealth in mind, but it doesn't work as well as you would hope. Firstly, the AI is very unpredictable. They'll either spot you a mile off, or just play dumb, not responding to your actions when close. Some will just stand still in one spot, waiting for you to take them out. It's all very inconsistent, which makes it hard to enjoy taking them out quietly.  Occasionally, the stealth does work, and I found myself getting past some sections without much trouble. However, most of the time, I found the AI very frustrating and problematic. 

There's no guns in DARK. Enemies have them, but Eric never picks up a  gun.  His main weapons are his supernatural abilities. These are unlocked as the game progresses, but you do begin with a few  neat powers. Shadow leap is one of them. This allows you to quickly dart from one area to another. This is great for moving from cover to cover undetected. Unfortunately, using the ability doesn't always work as planned, and you may find yourself unable to move from cover spot, such as a corner. One good point is that each array of powers can be easily accessed, allowing you to quickly equipt your chosen ability. There's also an upgrade system, allowing you to upgrade each power from a skill-tree. This is the only incentive the game offers to replaying Dark, but it's not enough when considering it's troublesome and repetitive stealth mechanics. 
Eric hiding in cover, waiting to perform his same move.
Having no guns in DARK is one thing that interested me. However, it does create some real problems when detected. If you are discovered, you are left scattering to the nearest cover point, or simply running at your enemy, trying to knock them out. You see, there's no real combat system here, other than a single button attack. This can be very frustrating when shot by tons of foes, as you must try to approach them, waiting for the attack prompt to appear on-screen.  There's no real skill to it what so ever, and performing the same attack becomes tiresome fast. Playing stealthy does reward you points, so it does pay off in the end. However, approaching a level without stealth isn't much of a choice. Without stealth, you wont get very far. 

The cel-shaded visuals do fit in very nicely. It works well with the dark and brightened areas throughout the stealth environments, but it's nothing that impressive. They are bland textures, and character models don't look very good.  It's more like an HD remake of an original xbox game, rather than today's cel-shaded visuals, such as Borderlands. There's also problems with dialogue sequences, with plenty of lip sync issues. The voice work is also rather poor, and it just comes off very low budget.


DARK has plenty of neat ideas, but never quite succeeds with them. It's easy to appreciate what Kalypso was trying to achieve. With that said, it's hard to recommend DARK to stealth and RPG fans, despite it's cool ideas. With poor combat, stealth mechanics, and weak story, it's best to avoid DARK as much as a vampire would to garlic.