Video Game Reviews – August 2010

You'd probably better run.

Activision/Bizarre Creations
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PS3, PC
Street: 05.25
This game’s title is appropriate for its content: throughout the single-player career mode and multiplayer carnage, the game’s racing tracks will fly by you in a blurry haze––mostly because you’re going to be paying more attention to snatching up much-needed power-ups and focusing on taking down other cars to move yourself to the first position. That same fact gives the game’s entertainment and replay value a high score, because even though you may have raced the same track dozens of times, the strong AI in offline play is never predictable and the high degree of difficulty during online play (which can get quite brutal and nasty) is a welcome challenge and a hefty dosage of fun. I consider myself a racing game junkie and when I find a title that sticks out in an over-saturated genre of mostly boring generic racers, it’s quite pleasing. While Blur does have an original feel, it seems like a super-hybrid of the Burnout franchise, Mario Kart, Twisted Metal and Need for Speed. There are no achievements or trophies in Blur for racing clean—it’s a mass carnage of shunting, shocking, nitro-induced mayhem with plenty of different styles of gaming that will keep you on your toes for hours on end. –Bryer Wharton

Monster Hunter Tri
Reviewed on: Wii (Exclusive)
Street: 04.20
Largely, games are garbage these days––at least by my estimation they are. Companies cater to middle-aged FPS fans and angsty teenage boys. As I narrowly escape categorization into either of these demographics, what’s the point of keeping up on new releases for me? This has been my attitude recently and thus, games simply didn’t exist to me anymore. Then Monster Hunter Tri came along and ruined my apathetic perspective. I’m going to be honest with you, though: Monster Hunter is hard to get into. Actually, it’s just hard, period. This stands out when you consider that you can beat most games these days by mashing the controller with your foot. Monster Hunter hearkens back to a time when success in a game took real skill and persistence, and it’s probably worth mentioning that Monster Hunter Tri is a step down in difficulty from previous games in the series. Monster Hunter Tri is a fairly typical RPG/action adventure game: you go on quests and complete them by fulfilling certain requirements, whether that means killing a monster that dwarfs you hundreds of times over, or gathering a couple plants or whatever. Unlike other games in the RPG/action adventure genre, there is no level system. Sure, you gradually get better equipment, and there are items that temporarily raise certain stats, but as far as your character itself is concerned, it’s as strong at the beginning as it will ever be. Even with decent armor, some monsters will be able to finish you off in a few hits. Since there are no levels, this means you can’t go out and grind when you can’t beat something. Success in Monster Hunter Tri comes with heavy strategizing and calculation before each battle. Sure, it’s really hard, but it’s also extremely satisfying. –Aaron Day

Transformers: War For Cybertron
Activision/High Moon Studios
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PC, DS, Wii, PS3
Street: 06.22
If all you know of the Transformers are those films where Michael Bay fixates on the vacant smoothness of Megan Fox’s visage while stroking a big, explosive, robotic phallus for two-and-a-half hours, then you are not geeky enough to read the rest of this paragraph—sorry.  If, even in spite of Hollywood’s big-budget meddling, Optimus’ transformation sound still gives you a guilty little spike of nostalgia, then you should know War For Cybertron is the best thing that’s happened to the Transformers IP since Beast Wars.  Set on the Transformers’ homeworld, WFC tells the story of the civil war and the events leading up to the Autobots and Decepticons being stranded on Earth at the beginning of the 1980s TV show.  The game plays a lot like Unreal, with no cover mechanics and plenty of bounding and strafe-firing, but the ability to transform your character at any time takes the gameplay from solid to glorious.  With different weapons mapped to humanoid- and vehicle-mode, switching back and forth frequently is a necessity.  Once you get the hang of it, the action sequences you’ll be playing out are the stuff nerd wet dreams are made of.  I felt like a little kid again, running my Transformer toys through the house in my pjs making all manner of explode-y robotic noises.   Another way to put it: WFC is the Arkham Asylum of the Transformers IP.  Although not quite as amazing as Batman’s recent redux, the game boasts two long (co-op optional) campaigns with proper voice acting and a decent story, a Horde/endless waves mode, and a deep, challenging multiplayer component.  Provided you enjoy third-person combat, you don’t actually have to care one way or the other about the Transformers themselves.  The game’s a well-built, smoothly controlled shooter about big ol’ robots that turn into cars with cannons on them.  What more do you need to know? –Jesse Hawlish

You'd probably better run. Soundwave was my childhood hero.