Second Opinion: Silent Hill: Downpour

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Illustration by Pat Henzy

I read a lot of bad reviews about Silent Hill: Downpour… but every now and then I would run into a review that mentioned how much better than Silent Hill: Homecoming it was. Well, I loved Homecoming so when the game finally went down to under $20.00 at Gamestop I picked up a copy for Xbox 360. I’m only about halfway through the game right now so I can’t really review it, but I can say that I am totally enjoying the game. The game itself feels like a movie to me. Wandering around on the streets reminds me a lot of the original game. The camera angles bring back the “good old days” for me and remind me of what the Resident Evil games where trying to do back then. So far I have run into a ton of fun stuff. At two points so far I have fallen and found myself riding a deadly water slide where spikes and all kinds of things are trying to kill me, it is very reminiscent of the scene in Goonies when they have pretty much the exact same thing happen to them. There are a good amount of “Esher” like disorienting effects as well, look up and see endless staircases that twist and turn and wait…what’s that? Another room on the ceiling complete with a TV couch and table. Wow! The camera sways and pulsates during certain scenes and gives the game a very Nightmare on Elm Street fell. Exploartion is fun but can get a little slow at points, but every time the game feels like it is about to slow down you can except a chase scene in which a glowing orb (a portal to the afterlife?) chases you and tries to suck you in. Yes… the monsters aren’t as cool as in previous games, sometimes the load times are brutal and there are a few frame rate issues when too many enemies are on screen but the game is pretty damn fun other than those few issues. Combat feels about the same as in previous Silent Hill games, but then again combat isn’t really the main focus of the game. I am having a ton of fun playing the game right now and for under $20.00 I can’t help but recommend the game to anyone that prefers their games to contain a bit of old school fun and a couple of scares along the way.

Xbox 360 Dashboard update 2011 to include Facebook Update!


Illustration by Pat Henzy

 

On December 6th Xbox Live finally gets a Facebook update. Sure the Xbox itself gets an entire dashboard update on that date, but the thing I’ve been waiting for is the Facebook update. Now I can finally automatically have my achievements posted to Facebook just like all my PS3 friends(trophies). There has been a huge population of Xbox gamers that have been asking for this feature for a fairly long time. A few of the other things that the update will add are quite cool as well. One of the additions is a feature called Beacons (a way to let your friends know what you’d like to play in the near future). They are also adding Cloud Storage, this should allow you to access your Gamertag and game saves from any Xbox and it should be a quick process (as opposed to the current Gamertag migration). Microsoft will also be bringing Bing search to the Xbox. Unfortunately you will only be able to search a limited number of sites (Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace). This number may become larger over time. The new dashboard is also supposed to work much better with Kinect as well. The future is looking bright.December 6th

Just Dance 3

So about a month ago I signed up to preview Just Dance 3. It was through Ubisoft and a program called House Party. Well today I got my Free copy of Just Dance 3, Just Dance Kids 2 and a ton of coupons for $25.00 off when you buy Kinect and Just Dance 3. I also got a Kinect poster as seen in the picture below. Part of the program is that I will review the game and show it to others (that’s why they sent the coupons). I am very excited to try the games out and post a review, I also can’t wait to find out if there are any other games in the program I’ll be able to try out.
Expect a full review within the next week or two.

Kinect (One step closer to Skynet)

This past weekend I purchased a Xbox 360 S with a 250gb HDD and Kinect. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Kinect. I had seen people trying the Kinect out at Best Buy and I also saw a few commercials for the Kinect, but I had no experience with it myself. The bundle that I picked up came with the 250gb HDD and Kinect Adventures (why Microsoft didn’t bundle this with Kinect Sports is anyone’s guess). The first thing that I want to mention is that I already had an Xbox 360 with a 20gb HDD that I had later upgraded to a 250gb HDD. From the first moment I turned on my new 360 S I noticed that it had less space on the HDD than my older 250gb HD. The weird thing about it is my old drive has numerous arcade games as well as full disc games installed on it. The HDD seems to be missing about 30gb of space, which I could attribute to the space that the Kinect software needs to run if Microsoft didn’t also sell a 4gb version (how could Kinect take up 30gb of space and be bundled with a 4gb HDD?). I checked to see what was installed on the HDD under the memory section of the dashboard. Nothing that took up much space (Not much, about 1gb for system settings and my profile). It would seem that the new Xbox HDD’s just simply cheat the consumer out of some space (that’s my best guess anyway). No problem as I’ll still never fill the remaining space on the HDD anyway.

When you first turn on the Xbox 360 you will notice that the Kinect scans the room (it actually moves around looking at the room). My wife was very creeped out by this. I have to give it to her though, it is a little creepy.What it is actually doing though is determining how much space there is in the room. It is easy to imagine that it is actually Skynet scanning how many lifeforms in each household it needs to terminate come judgment day.

The Kinect came with a surprise that I didn’t know about, it can be used as a microphone while playing games on Xbox Live. I popped in Call of Duty:Black Ops to test this feature. It works superbly. Even with the game volume cranked up the Kinect only picks up voice. I played a few rounds with friends and they told me that my voice was even clearer than with my headset! Using the headset there were often times that I found myself talking very loudly so that my friends could here me. With the Kinect, even with the volume turned up on my TV I could just speak at my regular volume and the Kinect picked up my voice (and I sit more that 6ft away from the Kinect).

The one thing that I think needs to be addressed is the fact that there is no controller for the Kinect. The Kinect seems like a step up from the Wii/Move until you realize that buttons are sometimes necessary. Games like Red Steel 2 would be a blast for the Kinect if Microsoft releases a wand/analog stick of some sort in the future. It would only need a button or two since most everything else could be handled with gestures/movements.

Kinect Adventures is a very fun game, although it seems a bit short. There is an adventure mode, as well as a free play mode. I have owned a Wii since the day it launched and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, being as used to playing Wii as I am really hampered my experience at first. I’ve noticed that most people playing the Wii for the first time will use exatuarated movements. Later on, when they realize they don’t need to use such exaturated movements they begin to just casually flick the Wiimote. With the Kinect you need to move as much as you would like your character on screen to move! When I first started playing Kinect Adventures I was only moving slightly, as I assumed slight movements would account for bigger movements on screen. This is not the case, you really need to dive, duck, jump, and reach all within seconds to avoid everything that would hit you and to collect the coins (I was playing the obstacle course level). After playing one level I was sweating and knew that I would need a shower right after I was done playing. The Kinect seems like it would be fun for all ages, but in order to do really well in the games it seems that you need to be young and fit. Remember when the Wii first came out and on the news there where tons of stories about senior citizens playing Wii, you won’t see the same stories about Kinect. Senior Citizens will drop dead from heart attacks if they attempt to play these games!

All in all I would suggest picking up a Kinect if you are on the fence about getting one. I am Loving it.