Video Game Reviews – November 2010

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Dead Rising 2
Blue Castle Games/Capcom
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PC, Playstation 3
Street: 09.28
I’ll be honest: The undead apocalypse just gives me a big stiffie.  Naturally, I don’t like to read into it all that much.  There’s just something about a fantasy wherein it might actually be necessary for your very survival that you stick a shotgun in the mouth of what was once your hated high school math teacher and say something like “School’s out” before making an instant Jackson Pollock painting out of the wall behind him.  Glorious.  Now, Resident Evil 5 is probably still my favorite zombie videogame, but what Dead Rising 2 lacks in dramatic tension, it makes up for with a playful sense of humor and approximately one quintillion ways to rain re-death upon the zombie hordes.  If you played the first Dead Rising, then you know exactly what you’re getting here, almost to a fault.  The psychos are crazy and overly-challenging, the zombies are easy and numerous, and outside of boss battles, the only way the game becomes challenging is through the time-limit-based mission structure.  But who am I trying to fool—this game doesn’t exist to be challenging. It exists so I can cut a zombie into fourths with a broadsword.  It exists so I can duct tape two chainsaws to a kayak paddle and run screaming through the courtyard of a mall like a goddamn lunatic.  For these reasons and many, many more like them, DR2 is a resounding success, but, if it isn’t already screamingly obvious, you have to really love killing zombies to get any enjoyment out of this title.  Also, for whatever backwards reason, Capcom decided to include two-player co-op online, but declined to provide a local split-screen option.  Okay, I realize most nerds don’t have friends in RL, but come on, do you have to base entire game structures around the assumption?  –Jesse Hawlish

Halo: Reach
Bungie Software/Microsoft
Reviewed On: Xbox 360 (Exclusive)
Street: 09.14
This latest and greatest installment of the Halo series takes gamers to the beginning of the franchise’s dramatic saga and traces the battles and missions of six Spartan super-soldiers known as the Noble Team. Players are first introduced to the war-torn planet of Reach as fire engulfs its rocky surface but are then transported to a time before Covenant forces spread destruction and chaos across its skies. As Noble 6, players must endure alien encounters in both surface and aerial (a first for the title) warfare and recover an ancient artifact buried beneath the planet’s surface before it’s too late. Bungie has developed a storyline that will resonate well with loyal followers of the series, but newcomers will certainly become lost in the lengthy lingo. Does it matter? Not at all. Where the company slightly slip up in plot structure, they smash all other competitors in gameplay and environmental design. The breathtaking visuals incorporated within Reach’s vast landscapes and deserted building structures envelope players in a mystical and foreign world that’s as eerie as it is mesmerizing. As for multiplayer gaming, Bungie has been listening to the demands of their customers, as they have integrated a plethora of modifiable options and settings allowing gamers to customize their online experience with endless possibilities, guaranteeing their return to the title well after the completion of the campaign. –Jimmy Martin

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
Reviewed on: Xbox Live Arcade
Also on: Playstation Network
Street: 08.25
As a fairly accurate reflection of all of the stupid little things that can happen in those awkward post-high-school-pre-adult years (but with more robots, ninjas and video game references), the Scott Pilgrim universe is well suited to an old-school beat ‘em up video game adaptation. Taking cues from the likes of River City Ransom and Double Dragon, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a fairly faithful re-telling of the comics, but with much more fighting of nameless bad guys. Up to four players can battle the never-ending waves of slightly differing enemies (but not online), unlocking new special moves as they gain experience and level up. You can also visit various shops and buy their wares, but there really isn’t anything too useful. The game mostly works because it is such a great homage to the long-gone beat ‘em up genre and because it is so ingrained in the Scott Pilgrim universe. If you haven’t read the books, you might not understand what’s going on and you won’t recognize a lot of the background characters, but the game is still fun to play with friends. Also notable: This game is hard as fuck. It can be pretty frustrating if you’re playing alone, but at least the awesome soundtrack (by chiptune greats Anamanaguchi) will keep you entertained while your ass is being handed to you. –Ricky Vigil