Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plants vs Zombies Review

You would be forgiven for saying you've had your fill of tower defense games. The past couple years has seen a flood of these strategy clones filling casual portals like the iPhone and PC. But you know who might be able to bring you back: the people that brought you Peggle. PopCap, one of the best casual developers and publishers around, has delivered Plants vs. Zombies, its first tower defense game. While it uses the basic mechanics of all efforts in this genre, it boasts charm, personality, and gobs of gameplay variety. The result is another addictive experience that will appeal to all walks of gamers.

Zombies are creeping on your lawn, and your garden is your last line of defense against these brain-crazy cannibals. You have some pretty peculiar (but useful) plants at your disposal, including pea shooters that spit green balls at the undead, hot tamales that burn everything in their path, and Venus zombie traps. By planting various seeds in strategic locations around your lawn you may be able to hold off the onslaught and keep them from entering your house and eating your brain.

Unlike many tower defense games there isn't a winding path the zombies follow towards your home. The yard is divided into six rows and zombies shuffle in fairly orderly. They won't cross over into other lanes but you will find multiple bodies coming in on one row. It's a very simple concept and, in fact, when you first playPlants vs. Zombies you may find it to be too laid back; too easy. But the real draw here is the incredible variety of plants (towers) and zombies. There are 48 kinds of plants with numerous offensive, defensive, and production capabilities, and 26 different zombies. Completing each level in the game will unlock a new plant or item to add to your arsenal. These constant rewards really keep you involved and will have you saying "just one more level" long after you initially thought there wasn't much to the game.

At the start of each round you can pick which seeds to take into battle. You only have a limited amount of slots in your inventory, although you can increase your stash over time. With such an assortment of abilities and resource demands, half the battle is in picking effective weapons. The array of choices means you can customize your strategy and confront the undead on your own terms.

There is also a wide variety of gameplay styles. Some levels take place during the day and some at night, which has a large effect on what plants are available to you, how you harvest sunlight (your resources), and what environmental obstacles you encounter. Interspersed among the regular levels are more arcade-like variations on the tower defense formula. You may lose the ability to select plants and instead deal with pre-selected weapons that come down a conveyor belt. Or you may be presented with a lawn full of vases waiting to be smashed – some hiding treasure, some zombies. There are even fun mini-games, a survival mode, and puzzles that let you play as the zombies. You can't go more than a few minutes with this game without discovering something new and delightful.

Adding to the game's charm is the cast of zombies, ranging from dancing Michael Jackson types straight out of the Thriller music video to aquatic zombies that ride dolphins (you have a pool in the backyard). The undead are amusingly animated and the game looks great in action. These aren't your gruesome Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil zombies. This is a zombie game for the whole family (never thought I'd say that).

Plants vs. Zombies also has a catchy, organic soundtrack that becomes more intense as your yard is flooded with enemies. The light voice acting gives the undead character as they lurch toward your house grunting and moaning for brains.
CLOSING COMMENTS
From the moment I saw the bizarre music video for Plants vs. Zombies we knew we wanted to play this game. The end product is really fantastic and stands right up there with PopCap's other hits like Peggle and Bejewelled. It has that elusive "special something" that gets its hooks in you and convinces you to forego food, sleep, and other essentials just to see what the next level has in store. If you've never played a tower defense game before, this is the one you should try. And if you're sick to death of tower defense games, this one's gonna bring you back into the fold.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some more Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim images have hit the net, courtesy of a German PC site.

The new shots show beasts and dragons from around the mountainous land of Skyrim, as well as a bit of lush green foliage. We love a bit of lush green foliage. 

There's also an archer ready to take down some wildlife, a local giant and some scary-looking undead types. It's getting needless to say with this game, but they all look stunning.

The pics join yesterday's batch of gorgeous screens from OXM UK, which has a full 16-page special preview of Bethesda's RPG in its new issue.

The mag's massive 16-page preview of the game also reveals that Skyrim's Greybeards will act as its 'Jedi Masters' - passing on wisdom to your character.

Skyrim is set two centuries after predecessor Oblivion. The land of Skyrim has erupted into civil war after the assassination of its King, whilst god Alduin arises to destroy the world.

The title is due for release on 11/11/11 across the globe, on PS3, 360 and PC. 

Top 5 Games That Flopped


Remember back when Killzone first launched on the Playstation 2? It was supposed to be the 'Halo Killer'; the title to challenge the King of First Person Shooters. While the game wasn't terrible, it fell way short of expectations. Guerrilla Games has redeemed themselves with Killzone 2, and Killzone 3 will probably be the closest thing to a Halo Killer they have made. There have been numerous other games that claim they will be the next best thing, but in reality they don't deliver at all. Let's take a look at the top 5 anticipated titles that flopped:

  1. Killzone: While it was still a great game, it was hyped to a level beyond belief. Claiming to dethrone Halo is one thing, but actually doing it is another. No game was able to dominate multiplayer like Halo until the release of Modern Warfare.

  1. Advent Rising: A sci fi game that was planned as a trilogy, Majesco dropped the idea of a sequel after the first game hit with mixed reviews. The use of a new aiming device, flick targeting, proved to be a problem for many gamers. Bugs were a problem too, although not as bad as in Fallout: New Vegas. While it did bring some new ideas to the table, its overall execution didn't bring these elements together in a cohesive fashion, making the game a mixed bag of interesting gameplay and poor presentation.

  1. Alpha Protocol: There was no reason for this game to be bad. Espionage, explosions, dynamic dialogue, RPG elements, various gameplay styles... The list goes go. Somehow, it managed to do all of these things totally wrong. It's an strange game to play, because you can tell that there is a gem hidden through all of the mediocrity and its just waiting to come out. Sadly, it never does
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  1. Too Human: So much was said about this game. Like Advent Rising, it was planned as a trilogy but its sequel never saw the light of day. Poor camera angles, awkward controls, and bad voice acting helped this game disappoint players across the world.

  1. APB (All Points Bulletin): It shut down it's developer, Realtime Worlds, what else is there to say? The gameplay was extremely repetitive, environments were empty, and it seemed unpolished. The game did allow for tons of customization, but it wasn't enough to save the company from going under.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WHATS UP

I love to rant about video games and i am pretty much a gamer in general. Ill keep you guys posted on the most recent gaming news
Betcha didn't think this day would come, but it finally has. Sony has just come clean with its next-generation PlayStation Portable. It's actually codenamed NGP and will revolve around five key concepts: Revolutionary User Interface, Social Connectivity, Location-based Entertainment, Converging Real and Virtual (augmented) Reality. It will be compatible with the PlayStation Suite and is backwards-compatible with downloadable PSP games and content from Sony's PlayStation Store.

Specs include a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 5-inch touchscreen OLED display with 960 x 544 resolution, dual analog sticks (not nubs as on the current generation), 3G, WiFi, GPS, a rear-mounted touchpad, the same accelerometer / gyroscope motion sensing as in the PlayStation Move, an electronic compass, and cameras on both the front and back. Available this holiday season. Wait... what?!


Games will come on "new media," not UMD anymore, but we're unclear on what sort of flash memory is being used. Sony's rather proud of the fact it's offering the world's first dual analog stick combo on a portable device, though we're more geeked about the quadrupling of pixel count from the original PSP.

Sony's live event has been graced by demos of some pretty popular games, including Killzone,Resistance, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted -- with the latter serving as a demo platform to show off how the NGP's rear touchpad can be used to more intuitively climb up some vines. That touch panel on the back is the same size and positioned directly under the front OLED touchscreen, which allows for some pretty sophisticated controls when using the two simultaneously.

The new console's UI will be called LiveArea, which has a bunch of vertically navigable home screens and built-in social networking through PlayStation Network. You can jump between games and the LiveArea without losing your progress and comment on your buddies' great feats of mobile gaming.

In closing its presentation, Sony trotted out Hideo Kojima to show off a cutscene from MGS 4 rendered in real time on the NGP. It was pulled directly from the PS3 version of the game and ran at 20fps, which looked very smooth indeed to our liveblogging eyes. Videos and Sony's full PR are now available below.