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Game Reviews: LittleBigPlanet (PSP), Mass Effect 2, etc. and the Ubisoft DRM
black_mammoth

Back once again for more game reviews. One or two of the games were released a couple months back, but still well within a time to call them new. I hope my reviews will be both informative and entertaining. I also hope to start doing some videos for Youtube, but first I have to get off my ass and actually work at making them...

My first batch of reviews will be for PSP games. I have a DS lite as well, but I like the PSP for it's ability to play PS2 games ported to it, with nearly the same level of graphics and gameplay.

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First game up: LittleBigPlanet (PSP).

LittleBigPlanet (PSP), like it's PS3 counterpart, focuses on you, the player, exploring this glued-and-stapled-together world of imagination as a Sackboy, enjoying the VAST amount of music and levels as you try and get another group of Creator Curators together for a Creator Carnival, helping each of them so that they may join the celebration.

This version of the game features the same kind of Sackboy customization, although you can only put random decorations on your character during a level creation... You have lots of new things for your character, and a few old things as well, and a variety of new materials to use for your Sackboy. Gone is the ability to move your arms about, as there's only two shoulder buttons and one needs to grab, but you get to do some emotion actions based on which emotion you have your Sackboy set to. As stated, you can still change the expression on your Sackboy, HOWEVER, it doesn't go into a wacky-tongue happy or sobbing, crying sad, you just go from light emotion to major; unfortunately, this means that something like a level 3 smile turns into a creepy "I'm gonna fuck out your eyeballs!" look of joy on your character...

The levels of the game are quite varied in both their styles AND their puzzles, and the puzzles are well thought out and entertaining, yet simple enough for nearly anyone to figure out. The new Creator Curators are an odd bunch of personalities, as always, and the story works about as well as a world of imagination can put out. There's no longer the option to play through levels with other people, even if they've got their own copies of LBP for PSP, which takes out a bit of the fun of the original game, but on the plus side you don't have to worry about having friends playing a level with you just to solve a 2x, 3x or 4x player puzzle for a few goodies.

The game still features the ability to make custom levels, with new materials as well as old ones, and new background styles and songs. The system is a little different, of course, being ported to a smaller and weaker system, and there's only two depth levels instead of three like with the PS3 version. You can't just go and make random shapes and cut away at parts of them, you have to choose if it's going to be static or mobile, then make a shape as big as you want, THEN use the corner editor to start doing some editing. I've not gotten into the system myself, as it seems rather limited, but seeing as the story mode is made from it, there has to be some tricks to it...

With it's interesting and entertaining levels, Sackboy customization, entertaining puzzles, and the continued ability to make your own levels, LittleBigPlanet (PSP) is one game any fan of the PS3 version, or anyone with a PSP, should buy for their collection immediately.

I give LittleBigPlanet (PSP) a 9 out of 10.

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Next game is: Final Fantasy Dissida for PSP.

When I first heard about Square-Enix making a fighting game for the PSP, the SAME company that always uses that turn-based bullshit for each and every game, I was expecting the worst. I expected something like their usual combat system, as they've no experience doing anything outside of turn-based combat. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they thought up a unique and fun combat system that feels more like watching Advent Children than playing a Final Fantasy game.

The combat system it uses is quite unique, and is focused on three-dimensional movement including soaring through the air, running up walls, sliding down rails, etc. You have your health which as you level up, can go all the way to 9999 HP if you have the proper equipment set up, and you have a number that shows your "HP Attack." Basically, you have two types of attacks: those which build up the HP Attack counter, and those which do HP damage. As you build levels you gain more attacks, up/down/none with circle for standard strikes, and up/down/none with square for HP attacks. You can have a maximum of six different attacks, and some standard strikes can be made to BRANCH into HP attacks.

The game features the ten villains and ten heroes from FFI-X, and one character each from FFXI and FFXII. A total of 22 different characters, and at least a dozen different levels to play, each with normal and insane modes (insane having the level do odd things during a battle, changing itself up or having gears spin quickly to cause damage, etc.). There's a few story modes in the game, one for the heroes to get their crystals (like solidified icons of their inner light), then you can go through the final battle against the god Chaos using one of the characters you beat the crystal hunt with. After that, there's also the origin story mode for both heroes AND villains. When in story modes, the game goes into a kind of checkered board, and you have to get to the area's boss and defeat them before you go over the allotted turns so you can get the prize for keeping under the goal.

There's also a standard battle mode against bots, immediate-area wi-fi against buddies, and a kind of survival mode with three levels of difficulty chosen by the level-range, where you can choose (long as you don't get defeated) one card among three, to either fight against that character or to select up to three different abilities to help you continue your survival. You get coins to buy items for characters, items to make better items for your characters, and to buy special things like extra outfits for your characters. It can be quite fun just going for a while against tough bots, trying to beat each and every one of them to set a new survival record.

Another interesting tidbit about the game is the ability to really customize how your character plays; they have basic styles, of course, but then you have three pieces of gear for head, chest, and hands to select from (not visible on your character, of course), and then you have up to ten different rings you can equip to your character to build up multiplier to increase the HP attack counter. You can have boosts like 1.5x damage while in air, 1.2x damage in long-range attacks, etc. You can make a character wholly your own, and have two of the same character play completely different with the different mods the players have given them.

All in all, a damn good fighting game that plays as active and mobile as a Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children action sequence. The story is pretty good for a fighting game, and the gameplay is great, though the crystal-gathering story quests can get a bit repetitive. This is one of the rare times, but I'd say that Final Fantasy Dissidia earns a 10 out of 10.

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The next game on my list is Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron.

What can I say about it? The game features the same kind of battles you could get from the console originals, with more new levels and missing a few of the old levels. The controls and graphics could be better, honestly, but to be fair in regards to the controls, it IS a PS2 series ported to a PSP. Just no way of really getting good FPS controls on a PSP. That being said, the controls work for the system that it's on.

That all being said, this is the kind of game that any fan of the console games SHOULD own for their PSP. This game implements all sorts of new features, mostly good. The game now features less ships, which is a bit disappointing, and there's only an attack ship and a dropship. With this game, you now have the ability to transition from ground to space, and back to ground again, meaning that there's no more simple space-only or ground-only battles, that you have to dominate both ground AND space to win!

The character selection during battles is gone now, featuring the ability to customize one character for EACH SIDE, choosing a main and secondary color, one of three body types per army and three different heads to choose from for each body type. After that, you get to decide what you want your equipment to be; you get to choose from a variety of main and secondary weapons, special equipment that's worn on your back (like recon droids or health/ammo packs), and bonuses to your base stats of health, stamina, and capture speed. You can make a character for each army look exactly how you want, then choose on the battlefield one of several base weapon sets, or make three unique weapon sets yourself.

The controls for the game work for the system, using the joystick to move forward/back/turn left/turn right, X to fire/melee, Square to use grenade/special item, Circle to roll, Triangle tap to zoom/hold to block melee, right shoulder button to lock-on, left shoulder button to jump, D-pad has up to use/enter vehicle, down to cycle targets, left to cycle secondary weapon, and right to cycle primary weapon. The game plays well with these controls, though I'd prefer to use proper FPS controls instead of this...

The graphics aren't bad for a PSP game, though they COULD be better, and I notice one or two character models being designed a little glitchy with the upper torso being a little separated from the lower torso. The maps are well designed and each quite unique, though the standard conquest battles can get a bit repetitive with holding and using the ion cannon to take out the enemy's shields, then going to space to destroy the enemy spaceship.

The story itself is decent, though others might call it rather weak. I thought it put an interesting couple characters into the Star Wars legacy, started out in a time (the clone wars) where new characters could be placed just as easily as later periods in the Star Wars time-line. I would have liked to have heard more about the character, had more character development, but as it's mostly just something to link battles and have an excuse to only use ONE character during it all (instead of SWB2's system of just switching to a new guy when your current one died)... well, what can I say?

This game is pretty good for being a portable version of the Battlefront series, and a nice game to keep your skills up if you're still waiting for the next official sequel. I enjoy the way that you actually customize your own character and their weapon layout, and I hope it goes into the next real sequel. I give Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron an 8 out of 10.

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Now onto the Xbox 360 games. First of the two is Mass Effect 2.

I didn't play the first game until the second one came out, surprisingly enough. Honestly, the way the advertisements were made for the first game, it sounded like you constantly had to make sacrificial decisions, choosing which planets fell to invasion and which survived. Fortunately, that's not the case, though the game DOES have you choose how to complete missions and they have a visible effect on the world around you.

Anything in the first game you did, especially major choices during the main story, are all reflected upon in the second game. Even a pair of people you talked to for all of just one mission are back in the second game. It's already apparent that anyone who actually WANTS to save the galaxy is gonna be going Paragon... whereas players who just want to cause trouble for people and kill mercilessly are looking to be on a path that actually ends in destruction, surprising as that is. I don't mean that last part as sarcasm, well, not COMPLETELY; it seems being Paragon is actually uniting the galaxy and strengthening the people, getting them ready to fight the Reapers, while going Renegade seems to divide the universe, weaken the unity of the races, and ultimately aid in the destruction of the galaxy.

The game has been changed to open it further to average gamers; the inventory system is gone, the only things you actually hold with your character being bio-gel, coolant clips, and heavy weapon ammo. You find a few new weapons on your path to saving the galaxy, but it's not like you find all sorts of different guns with slightly better stats than the last, like the inventory system before; it's more like a normal shooter like Gears of War or Halo, where you have a few types of guns, a couple of which are different versions/have different focuses than previous guns, but they all do good damage against enemies. Along the way, you can buy/find weapon/health/shield upgrades, and increase your own strength with them.

The combat system is spot-on, playing a lot like Gears, staying behind cover and unleashing attacks both gun-based and skill-based against enemies. There are still several classes, all the original classes there were in the first game, and the same skill-use system as before, but now there's only 30 levels, and the skill-growth system has been greatly simplified so that you have four levels of each skill/ability, the level denoting the skill points needed to build that skill. Instead of being mindful of your heat bar, there are now coolant clips that are switched out when the clip runs out of shots it can cool the gun for. The grenades have been switched out with several different heavy weapons, with their own type of general heavy ammunition. There is also the ability to gain one crew-member's special ability after doing their loyalty mission.

The story is great, and the characters are all so unique and interesting. There's a lot of cinemas and dialogue scenes where you have characters you brought with you put in their own two cents, and that makes for some GREAT one-liners. You start out getting killed by these bug-like cyborgs called the Collectors, and with two years and several billion credits of work, the secretive organization seen in ME1 called 'Cerberus' has brought you back to life, albeit with a few facial scars.

Suddenly you wake up and all hell has broken loose; Defense robots are shooting up the place, and everyone in it, and you've gotta get up and get the hell out, saving a couple folks along the way. After that chaos, you go and contact the guy who paid all that money, used all those resources to revive you: The Illusive man. You talk with this asshole to find out that a bunch of human colonies have been emptied out, and he revived you to find out why and stop them. You meet people, old and new, and build up a small army of specialists to fight the threat to humanity.

A couple other changes in the game are longer load times in exchange for none of the long texture-loading during gameplay. No more is there waiting on slow elevators, there's now just loading and then area; in exchange for not getting news on elevators, you now have stations throughout each area you visit regularly to get the current news. Another change is the armor; You don't get different sets to upgrade your defense, instead you can customize the colors and patterns on the armor, and you can buy different armor parts to customize your armor with, each part having some boost to your character like -10% shield regen time, or +10% heavy weapon ammo, etc. You can get an armor set that works well for you, and have it look good too.

With a solid combat system, customizable armor, great graphics, and a damn good story that I can't wait to finish in the next game, the only suggestion I could give to this game would be to have changed the coolant-cartridge system they replaced the overheat meter, with a way to do a rapid cool-down like with the Ghostbusters game. Beyond that one little suggestion, I have decided that Mass Effect 2 deserves a 10 out of 10.

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Final game for the day, is Aliens VS Predator (Xbox 360).

Where to start? Apparently this game has been vaporware for a while, folks not sure if/when it would come out, and when it put out the multi-player deathmatch demo online, it was met with many "mehs." One of the two co-leaders of my clan bought several copies for the group, and I got one, so here I am making a review on it.

The story mode is played from the perspective of each race, playing from the start of everything to the (commonly, when Xenomorphs are involved) explosive ending. Depending on race, the story goes from epic (human story) to quite pathetic (aliens), and that goes for ease of gameplay as well... I found the Human the easiest to play with, just having to worry about tossing flares and keeping distance from the enemies. The Predator controls were alright, though I don't like the idea of melee combat in an FPS... when I got my hands on some long-range attacks, it was going okay with the Predator, and long as you were a bit careful you could kill things at close or long range. Now then, the Aliens were annoying to play as... Having to stay stealthy, having NO long-range attacks, and crawling around on all surfaces can get very disorienting very quickly...

Online mode isn't exactly a delight... while the humans are the easiest to control, they're also far outclassed by the other two races. The humans are the only ones who can't pull insta-kill attacks, the only ones who can't sneak around, and they have almost no way to counter the other two races' melee attacks. They have a few weapons to choose from, depending on the level, and aren't able to use the flares that you're able to in story mode, which might actually level the playing field... The Predators are okay, and can see humans and aliens on two different vision settings. They have the ability to do insta-kill attacks, and can get long-range weapons around all levels, but their main attacks are melee, and their invisibility only works on humans, whereas aliens can see them even with invisibility and Predators can use heat-vision... Aliens are obviously over-powered, able to see everything and everyone no matter what, the ability to regenerate health instead of needing health kits, able to crawl anywhere to sneak behind someone and use an insta-kill attack, and they can kill anyone in just two or three hits.

I hear there's a four-player co-op survival mode online, four humans against an endless horde of Xenomorphs, so that might be fun... Until they do some kind of balancing update though, I think that online mode is unplayable to anyone who doesn't wanna play aliens. I give Alien VS Predator a 7.5 out of 10.

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Now that the reviews are all done with, I wanted to end this entry by talking about the anti-piracy program that Ubisoft is adding to their newest PC games, the now-infamous Ubisoft DRM. From what I understand, piracy of PC games is a MAJOR issue that is losing these game companies millions, and they have every right to try and prevent the loss to their profits. The thing that makes it worse is I hear just about every single one of these self-worshiping assholes tries to make it out to be like they have the right to pirate these games, that they're not doing anything wrong by STEALING these games.

The deal with the Ubisoft DRM, for those of you who haven't heard or don't do PC gaming (like myself), the whole idea of it is that when you go to play one of their games now, like Assassin's Creed II that's gonna have this program, you have to have a constant internet connection to verify that your copy of the game is valid, while allowing for an infinite amount of installations from one copy of the game. People are complaining that if your internet connection fails, you get booted out because the game can't verify it's authenticity with connection to the Ubisoft server, though you can save from your last checkpoint if that happens. And if you don't HAVE an internet connection at all, then you can't play the games.

The way I see it, it costs quite a bit to have a PC able to play current games, what with the quality of graphics and gameplay, you could spend up to a thousand or more just to get a computer to play the latest stuff. Looking at it like that, people who have the money to build such a powerful PC HAVE the money to pay for a good internet connection, and furthermore it's usually standard for PC gamers to be online with a lot of their games, seeing as it's a big part of lots of PC games.

Video games, including PC games, aren't like the music pirating that took place a decade before when MP3s first became popular; Back then, consumers were asked to pay $15 for a CD that had all of two or three good songs, at most. It was understandable back then for people to download the one good song on a CD, but it was still wrong to go and steal an entire CD; if you want all those songs, then thank the people who made them by paying for the disk. The same can be said for movies and video games, except that when you get either one it's because you want the whole thing; you're not paying all that money for one good scene, or one good level, you're paying for the whole thing, for the experience, and you're thanking the people that made it by giving them the money they deserve and hoping that they go use it to make even more good movies or video games.

Sure, there can be some PC gamers out there who may not have stable internet connections, but I don't expect that to be the case with more than 10-15% of all those gamers out there. Only about 15% of the PC gamers out there have a valid reason to complain, while the other 85% are just loud-mouthed douche-fucks that are just complaining because they planned on pirating the games anyway, and now their ability to do so is fucked.

My final word on this matter is that you PC game pirates that are complaining about this are lucky to have any games on PC at all. If I were in charge of Ubisoft or any other game company, I'd tell you bastards to eat shit while I would go on making games only for the consoles. As for those of you who just don't have stable internet connections, I say please bear with it because you're the good folks who are paying these people for the hard work they put into making these good games, and I thank you for it.



Any thoughts on my reviews, agree or disagree with any points? Anyone have anything to add about the Ubisoft DRM that I haven't talked about, or maybe that you disagree with? Please, leave comments telling me and everyone else what you think. I'm interested in seeing other people's ideas. Also, feel free to recommend games you think I should rent and review for your entertainment.



This is Black Mammoth, signing out.