Posts Tagged ‘EA’

I think I can say that I’m a little obsessed when it comes to the original Plants vs Zombies game. I became so addicted to the garden defense gameplay to the point that I had to own the game on every platform in my possession including my iPhone, iPad, and Xbox 360. I almost purchased it on PlayStation 3, but I was able to calm my gardening urges. With that said it looked like my obsession would finally calm down, but all of that would soon change when a certain sequel would arrive on my iPad and iPhone. Plants vs Zombies 2. The Crazy Dave in me has once again resurfaced as my obsession to defend my lawn against the endless zombie horde is back. Why? Because I’m crazy!

Plants vs Zombies 2, from PopCap Games, is a free-to-play game available exclusively on iOS devices. Wait a minute! A game published by EA is free? Did I just step in to the Twilight Zone? EA and free are two words that never go together. There’s got to be a catch. Well believe it or not there is no catch, no pop-up screens demanding money, or lite version of the game. Plants vs Zombies 2 is considered a “freemium” title where I can play the entire zombie defense game without spending a dime, but there are options available in the store for me to spend my hard earned money for some new plants or upgrades if I choose to, however it’s not required.

Just like the original game, Plants vs Zombies 2 still had me eliminating the zombie horde by using my army of plants and endless sunshine against them. Basically, it’s the same addicting game that I’ve been playing for the past couple of years. Just like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While the original game had me defending my home, the sequel had me going back in time to destroy the zombies in places including Ancient Egypt and The Old West. Each of these new stages looks colorful and fun, and I also like the Super Mario Bros. style overworld map for stage selection.

With a new game comes new plants to choose from. I did have some favorites to mix things up on my battlefield with my peashooters and sunflowers. I had a blast with the Bloomerang allowing me to hit zombies with boomerangs, the Bonkchoy which threw punches, and the Coconut Cannon shot coconuts for some big damage. While those plants were fun to use, the one I enjoyed the most was the Snapdragon. Any plant that can shoot fire across three rows is awesome in my book. Also added to the game was plant food which is obtained from killing the glowing zombies. Using plant food on one of my plants granted them momentary beefed up abilities to help take down a large wave of zombies.

While the gameplay is addicting and fun, there was one thing I didn’t like and that had to do with the store. One of things I noticed in the store was some plants that can be used in the game for a fee. These old favorites in including the Snow Pea, Jalapeño, and Squash would be really useful but they’re costly. I guess losing some helpful plants is the trade off between having a free game, and one that would cost a bit of money. Then again I do like some of the new plants so I probably won’t miss them that much. I can always play the original game.

Plants vs Zombies 2 is more of the same, but this same is still addicting and fun with tons of replay value. It’s a game where it doesn’t matter what skill level you are, because it’s casual enough for anyone to pick up and play, and have a good time. I didn’t care about the story, but I still love Crazy Dave and his antics. The zombies are also humorous and at times can put up quite a challenge. The best part about the game is that it’s free, so there’s no reason for anybody to not download this game.

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Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: iPad, iPhone
Players: 1
Price: Free

Fairhaven…mobile sized. Not only do I have the latest Need For Speed game on my Xbox 360 I also made the purchase of Most Wanted on my iPad and iPhone. It may be a bit downscaled, but this version of the hit game still packs an amazing punch. On the go and running from the law…what could be better? Doing it in real life maybe. I do have the car for it, but for now I’ll be a good samaritan and just stick with the games. So is this smaller version of the game just as good as the console? Absolutely!

PROS:

Traditional Racing Formula
Like many racing games on the past, this version of Most Wanted sticks to what works best. Racing and unlocking cars with my speed points. Everything is kept right to the point as I can move around the map of the open city of Fairhaven and pick races.The cop chases are fast and frantic and are just as relentless as the console versions.

Looks Amazing
Need For Speed: Most Wanted is clearly the best looking racing game on the iPad and iPhone. I shit you not. The first thing that hit me was how awesome Fairhaven looks. At times it can be a bit hard to notice especially when I’m in the middle of an intense race or cop chase. I also have to comment on the sense of speed when I hit the nitrous and blast past the competition while praying that I don’t hit the wall in the process.

Excellent Controls
Most racing games never seem to get the controls down right. Well I didn’t need to worry about that with Most Wanted. Picking up my iPad and using it as a steering wheel while in a third person view was really cool. Swiping upward activated my nitrous and swiping down braked. The controls are kept simplistic mailing it easy for pick up and play for me. Casual gamers will also enjoy this, and hardcore gamers will use the options to the fullest to fulfill the toughest challenges.

CONS:

Multiplayer?
While Most Wanted features a great single player campaign with tons of cars and options to unlock the multiplayer however is a bit lacking. The only competition I had was beating times on races. Sadly , there is no head-to-head multiplayer action which hurts the game just a bit. To me racing is all about competition. Who has the faster car. Who can take turns better. Winning by an inch or a mile. I want multiplayer! Oh well. At least I have the Xbox 360 version for that.

I Want To Play As The Cops!
I know it’s not Hot Pursuit, but once again I’m jumping on the bandwagon to EA about some sort of update that would allow me to play as the cops. This game would be even greater to put me in the role of the enemy and take out the Most Wanted. I can only dream.

IN CONCLUSION

Need For Speed: Most Wanted is clearly the best racing game that I have played on the iPad. I also like it on the iPhone as well especially when I’m out and about. It’s easy for anybody to pick up and play, yet difficult to master which is great for gamers like myself. Whether I’m playing on my Xbox 360 or my mobile devices, Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a winner and a must buy for anyone who likes racing games.

Developer: Electronic Arts, Firemonkeys
Platform: iPad, iPhone
Players: 1
Price: $6.99

Welcome to Paradise City…whoops I mean Fairhaven. Sorry, for a second there I thought I was playing Burnout Paradise 2. Well in a way it does feel like Burnout Paradise except this time it’s with real world cars. That pretty much sums up Need For Speed: Most Wanted from Criterion Games (the team behind the awesome Burnout series). Make no mistake. This game is not a remake of the 2005 racer filled with all those cheesy dialog cutscenes. This Most Wanted is all about racing while also avoiding the law, and it’s a lot of fun.

PROS:

Open World Racing Action
Fairhaven is the setting for this new installment of the Need For Speed series. Here yoI found plenty of action tearing through the streets with tons of ramps to jump, billboards and gates to smash, cameras to speed past, and so much more acquiring speed points all with the goal to become the “most wanted” driver. A variety of races are also available to choose from at various intersections so that I could upgrade my ride to take on tougher opponents, or avoiding the fuzz. Fairhaven is a city which begs to be explored meaning hours of time just driving around doing nothing or finding a secret location or two or even three. Just a reminder: The GPS is very helpful here so take advantage of it.

Lots Of Cars Available From The Get Go
Littered amongst the big city is a wide selection of cars to drive. These cars were highly noticeable with their manufacturer logo above them allowing me to jack them. Muscle cars, sports cars, exotics, and even daily drivers. Nearly all the cars are available right away except for the cars owned by the drivers on the Most Wanted list. I get those by beating them. Having these jack spots is great for when I want to change rides for more races , and avoiding the cops so they lose my trail or when I took too much damage.

The Relentless Cop Pursuit
Getting chased by the cops in Most Wanted reminded me of the pursuits I had in the Grand Theft Auto games. Both had open world maps, large circular area on the map of coverage to chase you, and cool down periods when I avoided them where I would find a service station for repairs and a change of paint or just jack a new vehicle. The boys in blue in Most Wanted are relentless, and they have a variety of ways to take me down from road blocks and spike strips. The higher up I was on the most wanted list, or the more chaos I cause only draws more attention to myself means even more cops in pursuit and bigger ways to take me down. When I was able to avoid them I had a big sigh of relief in the accomplishment, however I know the next time will get much tougher.

CONS:

No Consequences For Getting Busted
This bothered me a lot. For a game that prides itself on avoiding the law you would think that there would be some sort of penalty for getting caught. Well there isn’t which kinda sucks. What would a game of Monopoly be like if you “Go to Jail” and still collect $200 because you passed “Go?” Criterion should’ve added some sort of consequence for getting busted like a loss of speed points for example. Some sort of “risk vs reward” option surely makes things more interesting when in the adrenaline rush of getting chased by the law.

No Way To Play As The Cops
Ok, I know this isn’t Hot Pursuit, but a game mode in multiplayer where you have racers vs cops would have been really cool in this game. In Hot Pursuit it was a blast. With the open world here in Most Wanted it would really change things up as players can find some creative ways to take opponents down in a race. C’mon man. I know I’m not the only person out there suggesting this. DLC add-on perhaps?

SO HOW DOES MY 2012 CHEVY CAMARO ZL1 HANDLE?

Considering that this is more of an arcade style racer my 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is nothing different than practically any other car in the game except for overall speed and drifting through turns. I do have the options of available upgrades that I win through the races making my ride more than just a “stock” model. I will say that seeing the flames coming out of my quad tailpipes looks awesome.

IN CONCLUSION

Need For Speed: Most Wanted looks and plays like a sequel to Burnout Paradise, except for the cops of course, but Burnout this is not. Maybe this is an idea Criterion is toying with when it comes to a new Burnout game in the future. With this game, along with Forza Motorsport 4 and Forza Horizon, my racing game needs for speed are pretty much taken car of for a very long time. This game is a must buy fur racing fans who crave going fast and like to break the law in the process.

Developer: EA, Criterion Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (online multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

Here I go again. Another year and another review of Madden. Since the Sega Genesis days I’ve spent my hard earned money every year for the new Madden (except for the one year where I bought the greatness that was NFL 2K5). Why? Well that’s because I’m a huge fan of the NFL, and now Madden is the only video game in town where the league still exists. Once I start playing a game I shut out the world around me,  and my mind focuses in only on the action on the screen. Nothing is going to stop me from making that big touchdown pass, getting the all important sack or game changing interception, or winning the Super Bowl. Yes, Madden is that big of a deal.

Now coming into this season something came over me. For the first time in over a decade I wasn’t interested in purchasing the new Madden. Call it blasphemy, but I’m really serious. In last year’s review I was a little disappointed with the game due to shitty commentary and a lack of new features to make the game more “real!” Basically I once again felt like I had a $60 roster update. At E3 I was disappointed with the terrible lag with the Joe Montana check collecting play calling Kinect presentation. I was ready to give up, but part of me said not to, so I bought the game and I’m glad that I did. So let me term this as “EA Sports: Better Than Any Madden Game!”

So where do I begin? Well let’s start with the presentation and commentary. Gone is the boring and broken play by play call of Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth who are replaced by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms from CBS Sports. The number one commentary crew on CBS bring more than just new blood. Their calling style is fun and fresh and their interaction works so well with the action taking place on the screen. The CBS style of presentation is also noticed throughout the game with the scoreboard, opening intro, camera angles, and starting lineups presented by Papa John’s who keep telling me about a free pizza, but never seem to send me one. What’s up with that?

The biggest change comes with what was once known as Franchise mode. Well, it no longer exists. Then again neither does Superstar mode either. They’ve now been combined to form Connected Careers. Playing either online or offline I created my own player with Kinect and went through the grueling season gaining wotking mu way up the depth chart and gaining valuable XP. I really enjoyed this mode even though I could only control myself. Of course I can also choose an existing player as well. Coaching was also an available option allowing me to call the shots as well as control the players on the field which makes this option as close to the old Franchise mode as I can get. Honestly, I like the changes here because the old way was getting a little boring.

My personal favorite game mode is still Madden Ultimate Team. The card collecting mode that feels like an RPG hasn’t changed much, but it’s still a blast to play. MUT is more than just a mode to play against friends or the computer. In a way really feels like a Franchise Mode where I can trade buy, sell, and trade off players to help build my team. Rewards are also aplenty here where I had a superstar player to start building my team around (I chose Aaron Rodgers) and there’s multiple challenges to compete for other legendary card bonuses. MUT is where all the fun is, and where I’ll once again spend the majority of my time.

Other than some of the new features, playing Madden is still pretty much the same game. Gameflow is still a good option to utilize although the full playbook is still available. The hit stick function has been slightly improved and still kicks ass. Online play is still fantastic even in co-op, but they still need to find a way to deal with the annoying rage quitters. There are some new animations like “Tebowing” that made it’s way into the game. Sadly, Chad Johnson‘s “head butting” didn’t make the cut.

EA Sports and Tiburon made some key changes making this year’s edition of Madden the best and most authentic version of the NFL experience ever. Then again this is also the biggest overhaul to the gameplay they’ve ever done since gaining exclusivity to the NFL license. Hopefully they don’t decide to slack off after this and go back to the usual $60 roster update. Overall, Madden NFL 13 is must buy for all fans of football in general looking for the most authentic experience.

Developer: EA, Tiburon
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-6 (Online Multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

GAME STATUS: Quest Completed
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 45 out of 61 (875 Gamerscore)

For my original review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Click HERE.

The realm is safe once again. Tirnoch has been destroyed (quite easily I might add), Dead Kel is no longer a threat, and the Kollossae are free. The people can rest easy once again. Well not too easy considering the fact that there are plenty of baddies still in the woods, and there’s that part where I’m not in the good graces of the Warsworn. So I killed all the heads of the guild. You would think they would’ve forgiven me by now. Besides, the townspeople all forgiven me after constant looting, pickpocketing, and the occasional mass murder. Just another day in Amalur.

Resurrected from the depths of the dead sure worked out for me in this game. Throughout my adventure I felt like a death dealer as I destroyed everything in my path sort of like Kratos from God of War or even Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. No enemy was safe from my hack and slash combo attacks along with some badass magic to boot. This was my favorite part of playing the game. No matter how tough an enemy was (couldn’t find one four levels higher than me to get that achievement) they still met the end of my blade or the blunt of my hammer making for some satisfying moments.

While I really enjoyed kicking ass on the screen, I did have a few problems. One has to do with all the bland dialog. Maybe I’m not too big on the whole fantasy angle, but the storyline at times really had me bored which led to me falling asleep for short periods only to wake up hoping that the dialog ended and the combat begun. Amalur is a loooong game, and when sleepiness started setting in between all the constant grinding that led to a big negative in the overall picture. Good thing I could press the “X” button to skip through the boredom faster.

I also had a problem with the game’s literally easy difficulty. I never met an RPG that was so light on the difficulty, and no I wasn’t playing on “easy” if your thinking that. Sure disposing a group of six to seven enemies at one time led to frustrating moments of being hit in all directions before using my “Reckoning” ability making everything super simple along with lots of XP. Even the bosses like the super-screen sized slug Balor met his end pretty quickly with no challenge whatsoever. That was really disappointing when all you have to do is hack the long nails when he sticks them into the ground. Even the final boss Tirnoch was no challenge. Sad.

AMALUR’S FINAL FATE

While my character had no fate, this game certainly did. After spending what felt like a few hundred hours traveling, discovering, committing crimes in front of a small audience, and easily dispatching foes in the heat of battle I felt that my time was done. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fun, but I can’t see myself going through another quest. I might end up sleeping all day. My copy of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will now lie on the used game shelf for someone else to play. The ending was left open for further expansion, but due to the layoffs of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games (now a part of Epic Baltimore) we may never get to see a sequel.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Big Huge Games, 38 Studios
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Pros:
Fantastic presentation
Excellent combat system
So much to do and explore

Cons:
Storyline is a little bland
Voice acting is pretty bad at times
Not really an open world

Now before I get deep into this review let me just state that I’m not a big role-playing junkie. I don’t gather around a bunch of nerds who have no life and play Magic: The Gathering or even Dungeons and Dragons. However, I’ve been known to partake in some good addictive experiences like Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Skyrim has been my big RPG as of late, and I’m still trying to finish Fallout: New Vegas. Now it looks like I have another addiction to add to the growing collection, and it’s name is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

So here’s the story…abridged of course so that I keep it as spoiler free as possible. You’re dead! No really…you died. The game starts with your death as your carried off by a pair of gnomes discussing exactly who and what you are. This is where you begin character customization with race, basic looks, and your name. Then your body is dumped into the Well of Souls where all of a sudden you are miraculously brought back to life, fight your way out for the well filled with corpses, and begin your quest. What exactly is your quest? Well that is all up to you because you’ll begin to find out that you have no fate. Your fate is all up to you. Know thyself. It’s what you choose to do that determines your ultimate destiny. I really like that about a game.

For your typical Western RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features a fantastic presentation of role-playing goodness. However, I will tell you that the storyline is quite bland. After he opening moments and my eventual rebirth I found it hard to concentrate on the story because I was really focusing on the gameplay (which I’ll talk about later). Rest assured that most casual RPG players aren’t really going to care. The story is mostly told in text format as you talk to various NPC characters, and your given a bevy of responses to choose from which can determine whether your character is a do-gooder, or in fact an evil badass. Remember, you have ultimate fate. You can choose your own damn destiny.

Speaking of the NPC characters, some of the voice acting actually sounds pretty good. The other characters however sound terrible which will have you quickly pressing the skip button. Although, I do have go admit that one character in the opening village that was supposedly ill actually had me contemplating what was wrong. During an NPC conversation, I couldn’t tell of she was dying or about to have an orgasm right in front if me. I definitely had a good laugh on that one.

Now just like any RPG, your first thought other than combat has to do with exploration. Getting to know the lay of the land opens up what the genre does best. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features some amazing looking scenery along with the various castles and villages filled with tons of  vibrant colors bringing the world to life. I love to explore to find new places as well as a few secrets sprinkled around the world. The world in Amalur is huge which might take you a long time to get around. The world map also allows for quick travel to previous locations you visited. While the world map is huge, the bad news is that it’s not as open like any of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. Rest assured this is not a deal breaker whatsoever, because the scenery is well done even if there is not much land to tread through.

Ok, so I might have sounded a little negative with a couple of things, but these small nitpickings pale on comparison to how great this game really is. So what makes it great. It’s the gameplay. Anyone who loves third person action games like God of War, Darksiders, and Devil May Cry will fall in love with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The fast paced, hack and slash, combo driven, real-time combat featuring plenty of swords, daggers, magic staffs, bow and arrows and more makes killing enemies and earning valuable XP is a lot of fun. By the way the finishing moves are also a sight to see. Magic also plays a role as you use fire, ice, lightning and more to destroy enemies. By the way magic works great when you mix it in combos. The combat system is great and found myself addicted into wanting to kill everything in sight. Sometimes I got so addicted that I would forget to heal myself if my health got too low and I ended up dying. The combat is that good.

With all the killing and questing that your completing, the XP will come in bunches. As you level up the customization of your character rises to new heights. Now if your familiar with games like a Borderlands and Dead Island, you will find the level up menu system easy to navigate and work as you spend points to use for upgrades. These class specific upgrades include extra damage with specific weapons, defense, and magic abilities. The usual RPG stuff. As I’ve leveled up I could really tell the difference my attacks were making along with the damage I took. Not many games can display that as well as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning can.

Throughout the course of my adventures with Kingdoms of Amalur I found myself immersed in it’s unique world of adventure and fantasy. It was so hard to put down the controller, because I kept telling myself that I wanted to finish one more quest, gain one more level, or just make if to the next town just to say that I was there. From small basic enemies, to boss-like juggernauts, to making potions and forging weapons, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will hold you in it’s grip for long gameplay sessions making questing fun and entertaining (even if the storyline qualifies as “meh”) for all no matter how much of a fan of RPGs you are.

Let’s face it Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is clearly no Skyrim, but it’s solid gameplay and role-playing mechanics make it a worthy game that everyone should play. In my honest opinion, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is better than all three Fable games combined. After the first weekend I played the game I was hooked, and it’s hard to take me out of it’s fantasy world even if I want to go slay dragons and explore the open world of Skyrim. Role-Playing junkies should definitely give Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a run because your clearly going to like it.

Pros:
All the Jam you love without all the aftertaste
Tougher A.I. makes for better games
The announcer is still awesome

Cons:
It’s still the same Jam you’ve played for over a decade

NBA Jam is back for another season baby, and this time it looks like EA has finally given fans what they wanted. That would be the downloadable version of the hit game. Remember last year when they said that NBA Jam was supposed to be a downloadable game? Instead they gave us a disc version and decided to jack up the price. For some fans that was a huge letdown. Now we finally got what we wanted and it’s “on fire!” Boomshakalaka!

NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, from EA Sports (it’s in the game), is more of the over the top, in your face, arcade style basketball that we’ve been playing since the mid ’90s. No matter what the name is (NBA Jam, Tournament Edition, Showtime, etc…) I’ve always enjoyed the game.  Since it’s early roots the game has evolved yet still kept it’s core value which made it popular with fans. This edition of the Jam is no different. So get ready for some more high flying dunks, big time rejections, and pushing players to the ground all with no rules, no fouls, tons of turbo, and a kick ass announcer calling the play-by-play action.

While last year’s game left a bad taste in player’s mouths due to the overinflated price, there was some promise laid down that helps make this year’s edition amazing. This is more than just a roster update. Remix Tour is out and Road Trip is in. Like the Remix Tour, you go from division to division and take on all the teams in various challenges. From Classic 2v2 to even big heads, mini players, different scoring options and more, the Road Trip makes for the meat and potatoes of the main game. The best part is that you earn Jam Bucks which you can use to level up and purchase items in the Jam Store. The Jam Store features tons of extras like game enhancements, secrets, legendary NBA players, and hidden teams.

One of NBA Jam’s biggest enhancements is the addition of tougher A.I. Throughout my time playing the On Fire Edition I’ve noticed this change in how the AI plays. Unlike previous games, the rubber band A.I. is gone. No longer will you have games where you go on hot and cold streaks. With the On Fire Edition the computer will put up quite a challenge keeping games close and competitive especially on the easiest difficulty. Welcome the addition of R.E.A.L. A.I. These computer controlled bots mimic your skills and use them against you in games making for the most challenging experience possible. Even in the Road Trip mode you can unlock these tough A.I. teams for the ultimate challenge.

Talk to anyone who’s played NBA Jam in the past and they can tell you that they weren’t playing the game for the single player. NBA Jam was all about the multiplayer in the arcades as well as home consoles. NBA Jam On Fire Edition is no different. Multiplayer works with both on a single console as well as online for up to four players. This is where the real fun is. Where the excessive celebrating and trash talking exists. I don’t need to explain how good the multiplayer functions, because we all already know throughout the years. Each game in the Online Arena runs brilliantly with no signs of lag whatsoever making each match fun and entertaining. My one suggestion to online players out there is please no rage quitting.

Overall, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is all the Jam you’ll love without all the frustrating aftertaste of some of the previous versions. Tougher A.I., great arcade entertainment, awesome multiplayer, hidden goodies and the Road Trip mode. This is the best Jam to date and a must download for all NBA fans.