Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spider-man: Friend or Foe (360) Review

We just got finished talking about some of the overlooked games in the 360's catalog. We're going to save a retro review til tomorrow as today we're going to look at one of the many games in the 360's library. This game, too, was overlooked, but perhaps for the better. It's Spider-man: Friend or Foe.

Friend or foe? More like Play or No?

Activision appears to not be phased by how Spider-man 3 was torn to shreds by reviewers. Critical success aside, the Spider-man franchise still sells, and that's the rationale that the series has turned into unfortunately. With that notion in mind, Spider-man swings onto multiple platforms with his latest video game installment, Spider-man: Friend or Foe. This title was developed by Next Level Games. You might know them as the development house behind the superb Mario Strikers series. ...Maybe they should stick to soccer.

Ah... it's a lovely night for a battle.

Everyone's favorite webhead, Spider-man, is swinging nonchalantly through the city streets of New York City when he's suddenly attacked by not one-- not two-- not three-- but for supervillains all in succession in the forms of Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Venom, and the Sandman. He's saved by the New Goblin, but the victory is cut short as a horde of symbiote invaders known as the Phantoms surround Spidey and friends (er... foes). One by one Spidey's enemies vanish, and the webhead himself is transported aboard a flying citadel owned by none other than Nick Fury. To make a long story short, these Phantoms have the highest activity where five meteor shards fell. It's up to Spidey to go to these locations around the world, exterminate the Phantom menace, and destroy the meteor shards.

Spider-man: Friend or Foe is essentially a beat-em-up at its most basic. You beat down a bunch of Phantoms? Great. Now the door blocking your progress is open. Move on. Then beat down a bunch of Phantoms all over again to open another door. Oops. Spoke too soon. Now you can step on a switch to activate yet another bridge to cross. Don't worry about falling either-- there's invisible walls all over the place. Sure, you can still jump to your death, but you won't be walking off accidentally. This game is full of repetition, and unfortunately for Friend or Foe, most won't be having fun while doing it.

Spidey himself has three different web abilities-- web line, web shoot, and web stun. Web line grabs an enemy with his web to chuck elsewhere. Web shoot is like a web gun that shoots web bullets only without the gun. Finally, web stun can freeze foes in their tracks just enough to get a few hits in on a paralyzed enemy. Then there's also several crates, rocks, whatever, to chuck at enemies.

Take that, evil-doer!

Spidey isn't alone in his struggle, and as the name suggests you'll team up with many friends as well as foes along the way. You can either go it alone in one player and have the CPU be your partner, or you can choose to play cooperatively with a friend. Unfortunately, there is no Xbox Live capability with this game which is a letdown initially, but the game really isn't that interesting to warrant such a function. At anytime you can hold the Y button to switch between playing as Spidey and his partner of which there are fifteen ranging from Venom to the Scorpion. Teamwork will serve you well, but you can always take out your opposition alone. There's a special team-up move that you can perform by pressing up on the control pad. This move will eliminate all Phantoms on the screen in one blow. It's cool seeing how Spidey and whatever partner you have with you team up in one of fifteen different team-up animations. You'll receive new allies as you progress through the main mode. Some will join your side without a fight, but others will need some "friendly" persuasion. This is where the coolest part of the game-- the boss battles-- come in, but even then they really aren't anything to write home about unless you're doing your own review of this game... The boss battles aren't anything "wow" worthy as you'll often ask yourself why Green Goblin keeps giving you pumpkins which can be used against him. These battles are quite easy anyway as you have not but the life of Spidey to use but that of your partner as well.

I don't even want to know what he does
with all those arms when we're not looking.

The game's lack of difficulty doesn't end there either. It doesn't help that the enemy AI is pretty much brain-dead. You can easily run circles around them without much gaming experience. Also, there's NO way to get a game over. There's no credits, amount of lives-- nothing. You can keep dying as much as you want, and you'll just be transported to the place you lost your life with a loss of some of your points. That's all. Points can be spent on character upgrades such as more strength, health, or even new moves.

Littered throughout the levels (there's five worlds each with four levels) are special data helices. These unlock new content in the rewards menu, but considering that the levels are so incredibly linear and that the game practically tells you when there's a hidden room to explore, they're easily found. There's also secret rooms which unlock maps to battle a friend on in Versus Mode. However, this mode will probably be something only to keep kids with ADD busy, and few others.

"Game" and "hard" are not two words
that go together when discussing this game.

Spider-man: Friend or Foe isn't looking too good on the presentation-side. Sure, the voice work is good, and Spidey himself is voiced by Tidus and Ratchet, but his lines repeat so often that you'll be muting the television within hours. Yeah... "Spider-man, your bad guys are ready." Shut up. Graphically, this game does not pass as a 360 game. It could honestly run without problem on the original Xbox. The models are full of jaggies, and the levels are dull and lifeless. The cartoony art style was done much better on the excellent Ultimate Spider-man video game. Why does Friend or Foe look worse than a game from 2005 on a last-gen console?

Overall, Spider-man: Friend or Foe isn't a very intriguing game. If you're a parent looking for a family-friendly 360 game that isn't too challenging, you should at least give it a try. However, for the rest of us, there's so many better games, and so many better Spider-man titles from the past to play other than this one. You won't make any friends giving this game as a gift to an older Spider-man fan-- only foes.

[SuperPhillip Says: 4.75/10]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Most Overlooked Xbox 360 Games - Part One

Welcome to the end of the work week on SuperPhillip Central! Up until now, we haven't covered every platform in our Most Overlooked series. That ends tonight as we take a look at the Xbox 360's series of overlooked games. This is just one of many parts that will be featured in the future, so sit back, relax, and get ready for the Xbox 360's most overlooked titles. You may notice funnily enough that all of the following games have one thing in common: they all have color!

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

A game that was overlooked despite being cheaper than usual 360 games, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts failed to light up the charts despite its rewarding gameplay. Perhaps because it wasn't the Banjo-Threeie everyone was expecting is why. I'll look back fondly on exploring Showdown Town in search of music notes and new vehicle parts, tackling the same challenge in multiple ways, and laughing at the series' trademark humor. Even so, the cartoon visuals and vehicle-building mechanic failed to entice most Xbox 360 gamers more interested in the next shooter of the month to grace the console.

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

The aim of Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is to entice as many new pinata into your gardens as possible. Yep, this time I said gardens. Certain pinatas will only show up in different gardens from the traditional grassy plains to the ice cold arctic winter wonderland. New gardens also mean new pinatas, and Trouble in Paradise included a flurry of new ones to collect. Once again, perhaps the colorful visuals turned off a lot of would-be buyers, but if you get the chance to track this sequel down for cheap, please do so. It's a charming game with plenty of content to explore, pinatas to raise, and secrets to unlock.

Kameo: Elements of Power

It seems developer Rare is a theme on the Xbox 360 side of overlooked games, no? While their other launch title sold well in Perfect Dark Zero, their other game, Kameo: Elements of Power didn't move as many units as expected. Kameo is Zelda-like in structure. You solve puzzles, beat down baddies, and progress through the game's areas and dungeons. Kameo has the power to transform herself into one of many monsters, each with their own unique abilities from fire-breathing dragons to ocean-diving fish. The game's visuals still hold up quite well unlike the plastic-looking characters of Perfect Dark Zero.

Eternal Sonata

Eternal Sonata is an action-RPG loosely based on the life of famous composer Chopin. The story takes place as he dreams. With lush visuals, an engaging story, and an excellent soundtrack inked by veteran composer, Motoi Sakuraba, Eternal Sonata was a game that many 360 owners didn't give a second glance to. The sales were so low that the game was later ported to the Playstation 3 with new characters and quests. Despite what system you get the game on (the 360 version offers achievements while the PS3 version lacks trophy support), Eternal Sonata is an RPG for any fan of the genre.

Beautiful Katamari

Roll with it with Beautiful Katamari. Featuring new levels, downloadable content already on the disc (jerks), and multiple materials and objects for the Prince of All Cosmos to roll up, Beautiful Katamari may not innovate as much as past entries in the series, but it is definitely a competent game all around. For the first time ever, you can compete online against friends, family, and foes alike in multiple modes of multiple varying degrees of fun. You can pick up Beautiful Katamari on the cheap, so now's the perfect time to strike and roll yourself up a copy.

That wraps it up for this edition of Most Overlooked. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more cool features, articles, and editorials right here on SuperPhillip Central!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best of the Best - HD

Welcome back to the second of three Best of the Best features right here on SuperPhillip Central! This time we're taking a glance at the HD consoles. Why both combined? Well, plenty of games are shared by the two, so I'm killing two birds with one frag grenade with this look at the Xbox 360's and Playstation 3's best games. These are my personal favorites, so don't cry if your favorites aren't listed. Actually, cry in the comments section. There's some Kleenex. Certain games on the list can be clicked on to check out my review for them. With that, let's roll!

Halo 3 (360)

Master Chief finishes off the Halo trilogy with Halo 3. Whether you're playing the multiple chapter campaign solo or with three other friends, fragging the bejeezus out of friends and foes alike online, or creating your own level scenarios with Forge, Halo 3 is a blockbuster that fans of the FPS genre should not miss. Finish the fight... again!

Gears of War (360)

What do guns, steroids, and Unreal have in common? Why, Gears of War. You may notice that the sequel to this game isn't listed. Well, unlike Gears of War 2, the original Gears had netcode that actually worked, fixed glitches, and a campaign that was fun and didn't take itself overly seriously. Rev that chainsaw into the flesh of hundreds of the Locust horde in this fantastic single and multi-player game.

Perfect Dark Zero (360)

The name's Dark. Joanna Dark. While Perfect Dark Zero was by no means a worthy successor to the original Perfect Dark, PDZ did have a lot going for it beyond the plastic characters and poor plot. The arsenal of weaponry was wide and varied, and while the single-player was enjoyable for the most part with enough variety to keep the player going, it's the multi-player that truly shined in Perfect Dark Zero with massive maps, awesome modes, and plenty of players to blast away.

Crackdown (360)

Climbing up buildings, scaling huge walls, leaping across the skyline, and hoisting cars up into the air as if they made from foam, Crackdown is a sandbox-styled game that absolutely rocks the house. One part climbing, two parts gun-toting fun, Crackdown features an extremely gorgeous aesthetic style with visuals that aim to please just like the many guns your agent will be using. Just one gripe: if you have to use a walk-through to track down 500 orbs, the designer is doing it wrong.

Dead Rising (360)

Zombies. I figured you guys would show up. Take control of Frank West as he rummages through blue light specials and rotting decaying zombies alike in Willamette Mall. Rescue citizens from impending danger, slay thousands upon thousands of the undead, play dress up, use one of a hundred unique weapons and objects, and stop psychopaths from wandering the mall's halls. Dead Rising, with all of its problems, still remains one of my favorite Xbox 360 games. It's not for everyone, so take heed!

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (360)

While not the triumphant return many were expecting from the bear and bird, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a great game in its own right. Instead of journeying the six worlds looking for lost jiggies, you venture around the worlds completing missions, GTA-style. The sheer amount of ways to complete missions was something I really dug, and while most of the platforming is gone, the game retains all of the charm and hilarity of past games. You can pick this game up for cheap now, so get on it!

Viva Pinata and Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (360)

The goal of Viva Pinata is to entice as many different varieties of pinata to your garden as possible. Certain pinatas will only visit your garden under certain conditions such as having most of your garden made up of grass, having a certain species of pinata in your garden, and so forth. With Viva Pinata, you can easily lose thirty hours playing these addictive games.

LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

The world is yours to create and design your own intricate, detailed levels. Sure, the process takes awhile to create fantastic levels, but the rewards are worth it. Even if you don't have a creative bone in your body you can play the levels that come with the game that are a joy to play, or you can hop online and play levels from total strangers. The possibilities are endless in LittleBigPlanet.

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (PS3)

Race in four unique quadrants of Motorstorm: Pacific Rift's island: fire, water, air, and earth. As you complete races and earn medals, you'll unlock even more races and challenges from whoever is last place when time runs out is eliminated races to checkpoint-style events. Then there's the actual races with sixteen vehicles (trucks, rally cars, bikes, etc) all gunning to cross that finish line as number one. Add in online play and custom soundtracks, and you have a great racing package.

Metal Gear Soild 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

War has changed, but you know, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There's still the stealth-action the series is known for, and (unfortunately) also the dense amount of B-level Hollywood cut-scenes for players to make sandwiches to. The game spans across five acts each taking place at different locations. If the extremely polished single-player isn't doing it for you, you can hop online and take down foes in Metal Gear Online where your real enemy is your Konami ID!

inFamous (PS3)

Hero or villain. Which will you choose? This all depends on the actions you take at specific missions in inFamous from the team that brought you the superb Sly Cooper series. inFamous plays like a darker Sly Cooper with some of the same gameplay included from balancing on beams to leaping from pole to pole. It's very reminiscent of the old raccoon. To get the most out of inFamous you'll want to play through the game twice-- once a hero and once a villain. This sandbox action game is definitely worth your time and money.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)

From Naughty Dog, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is three different gameplay experiences in one. First, you have your wall-climbing, ledge-shimmying, chasm-crossing gameplay. Second, you have your gun-toting, Gears of War-esque third-person shooting segments. Finally, you have your vehicle segments that make up a small portion of the game. It's all in a day's work for Nathan Drake who will be back at it again October 15th.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

From one returning franchise to another, Tools of Destruction marks the fifth major game in the series. The action-platforming hybrid you know and love is present and accounted for with players upgrading their weapons with repeated use, multiple planets to explore and collect bolts in, and massive baddies to bash down with Ratchet's wrench. Pick up Tools of Destruction as you await A Crack in Time coming out at the end of next month.

Resistance 2 (PS3)

As I said in my review, Resistance isn't futile; it's essential! The single-player campaign features numerous awe-inducing set pieces, gigantic titans of bosses to take down, and wonderful level design. The multi-player is where the game truly shines with cooperative and competitive based gameplay. Cooperative has you playing with a team of up to eight as you complete various objectives while competitive has you facing off with up to sixty-four players online in the game's well-designed maps. One of my favorite FPSes, Resistance 2 definitely delivered.

Resident Evil 5 (PS3, 360)

Resident Evil returns, but this time with cooperative-based gameplay. Play as Chris or Sheva as they work together to defeat hordes of zombie-like aggressors. The single-player is more thrills than chills this time around, but what adrenaline-inducing moments there are-are fantastic. With multiple chapters to play through, multiple guns to equip and use, and multiple madmen to mutilate, Resident Evil 5 is one impressive game even with an occasional dopey AI partner.

Dead Space (PS3, 360)

While Resident Evil 5 focused more on thrills, Dead Space is definitely more on chills. Trapped on a space freighter infested with macabre creatures, Issac must find a way to get off the Ishimura and stay alive in the process. With chilling music, ambiance, and grotesque monsters, Dead Space surely one-ups Resident Evil 5 in the horror department. The game is played in a third-person perspective, and hey! This game you can move and shoot! Not that-that will help in the silence of space. No one can hear you scream...

The Orange Box (PS3, 360)

Five games in one, The Orange Box is one collection any FPS-fan should fall in love with. With three Half-Life 2 scenarios, a multi-player focused game in Team Fortress 2, and a puzzle and physics-based shooter in Portal, The Orange Box is one package worth opening, regardless of whether or not it's Christmas yet.

Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, 360)

The world is yours in Grand Theft Auto IV for all HD systems. Would you like to cruise around the city and throw caution to the wind? You can do that. Would you like to shoot down the Liberty City police force? You can do that, too. Would you like to see titties with your cousin? You can do that as well. The city itself is a character with plenty to see and marvel at. Throw in a series of competent multi-player modes, and you have a sandbox city that's hard to beat.

Saints Row 2 (PS3, 360)

Until now. Sure, it's a blatant copycat of the Grand Theft Auto series, but damn, if it isn't a blast to play. There's just so much more in the way of side missions and variety in Stilwater. You can also customize your character to your liking: male/female, tall/short, fat/skinny, sharp-dresser/scuzzy-dresser, etc. While GTA IV focused on more realism, Saints Row 2 focuses more on fun and crazy missions that aren't just "go here, do this, drive back".

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3, 360)

Like Metal Gear Solid 4, war has changed for the Call of Duty franchise as well. No longer relegated to shooting down Nazis, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is present-day with present-day problems and present-day weaponry. With many moments that will rock your world and leave you breathless, CoD 4 manages to be one of the more intense shooters available. Yes, even more than Halo. I await your hate mail.

That wraps up this installment of Best of the Best! Stay tuned for the finale sometime in the coming weeks! Did your game not get mentioned? Let me know in the comments.