Friday, February 27, 2009

Gamezelot Ratings Explained

So, you're reading through a Gamezelot review and you reach the Score at the end. So, you think, "What's this score thing all about?" That's what this article intends to explain.

A review is enough to discuss the good and the bad of a game. But, as most review sites offer, I've also decided to use a scoring system. Note, scores are subjective things that really don't encapsulate the total good/bad of a game. It's a numeric value that someone can see at-a-glance to know if they might like it. However, that said, you should probably read each review fully to find out if a specific game is something you might want to own or play before you jump to the score.

Scoring breakdown

No, the scores aren't broken. This section is intended to discuss what's in the scoring section of a Gamezelot review.

So, here's a typical score:

  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 8/10
  • Bugginess: 10/10 (Amazingly, no bugs or crashes)
  • Controls: 7/10
  • Bang-To-Buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $15
  • Overall: 8/10 (no special gameplay, story was best part)
Let's break it all down.


Sound describes sound effects and musical elements. Basically, anything where the game makes any audible noises. The scale is from 1 to 10 points. A 10 indicates perfection in sound quality within the game. The minimum score is 1. A 1 indicates poor quality sound or sound effects. Everything in above 1 is better than 1, but not perfect. It is rare to find any Gamezelot game approaching a 10 in sound quality.

Most games overuse samples, audio clips and music. Since games tend to run long (days into weeks), sound can be come very tedious and unlistenable after a while. Game developers need to work on minimizing ear fatigue by producing more dynamic sounds.


The graphics category has a minimum point value of 1 and a maximum of 10. This category encompasses anything to do with graphics including texture map quality, 3D mesh quality, graphics motion, fludity and may include controller to graphics synchronization. A 1 encompases such things as low quality graphics, clunky motion, lags, breakup, low res textures and bad 3D models. A 10 would be perfect graphics with perfect motion. A perfect 10 is very rare.


With the expansiveness of today's 3D RPG and Shooter games combined with the complexities of making it all work with licensed technologies, bugs tend to creep in whether developers like it or not. Some developers work hard to remove bugs from games. Others, work hard to get the game out the door at all costs.

So, a 1 indicates major bugs that lock the game up, lose game progress or otherwise cause the gamer time to catch-up with areas that have been played due to a crash. A 10 indicates completion of a game without any lockups, bugs, crashes or other glitchy or problematic behavior.


The controls score defines how the controller and the game interact. A 1 indicates the game loses sync to the controller, has major lags between the controller and when something appears on the screen or if the game just doesn't respond well enough. A 10 indicates a perfect control system free from lag and provides a completely fluid and seemless control system... this is rare.


This score indicates how much bang you get for each dollar you spend. A 1 indicates that the gameplay (and other factors) don't warrant a high price for this game. A 10 indicates that this game is worth every buck you spend. This goes hand-in-hand with Play Value.

Play Value

This score is based on a dollar amount. This dollar amount is what the game is actually worth in dollars vs what it cost you to purchase it. While a game may cost you $60 in the store, this value is what this game is actually worth based on game play (time, bugginess, story, controls, etc).


The overall score is a semi-averaged and semi-subjective numerical value from 1 to 10. A 1 indicates a poor game with little play value and you should probably avoid it. A 10 indicates a perfect game in all aspects including every category above. A game will never get a 10 if any of the sub-categories above are less than perfect.


After some scores, you may see a (subnote) in parentheses. These subnotes are indicators to describe the key reasons how the score was derived. You should refer to the whole review to determine the context of the subnotes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Xbox 360 - F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin by Warner Games

F.E.A.R. 2 is the sequel to F.E.A.R. The campaign mode is a straightforward first person shooter with some niceties. There is no way to change to third person mode. So, you never get to see your character. Note that there are no mirrors in this game (they're all broken), so you can't even see a reflection.


This story appears to be a prequel type of sequel to F.E.A.R. This game, Project Origin, attempts to explain how F.E.A.R. all started. This wasn't done in the first game. The story to this game is reasonably long for a campaign based game (took me the better part of a week to get through it).  So, the length was about the same as Gears of War 2.  For a lot of reasons, it has similarities to The Darkness in the way the story unfolds... not so much the main character's abilities.

Game Play

This is a straight first person shooter. It doesn't do anything special when compared to most other shooters like Halo 3, The Darkness and BioShock. The niceties I mention earlier are primarily the weapons and mech vehicle you get to use in parts of the game. What's compelling about this game, though, is not the gameplay. It's the story.


This game appears to be a prequel to the original F.E.A.R. The game appears to explain where Alma (the girl) game from and how she got to be where she is. While I generally like how the story unfolds, the ending is not satisfying as neither was F.E.A.R. If Warner Games decides to back another one of these titles, I hope that it's an actual sequel. One that finally ends the story of Alma.

The one thing I will say about F.E.A.R. is that even though the title implies something about fear, it is not terrifying or scary. Both games were suspenseful, yes, but not scary. So, don't go into this game expecting something to scare the pants off you. Gore, yes. Violence, yes. Suspense, Yes. Terror, no.

As you progress, you will find out that your character has a connection to Alma and also has some Telesthetic (whatever that is) abilities. But, the game never exploits this. You're stuck with standard projectile or technological weapons throughout the game. Instead, it seems that since you have this ability, you should be able to harness it for use towards the end of the game. Perhaps that the ability might be used to confuse the enemy or similar. Whatever the end result, it makes sense that they should let you use it on your enemies as you learn how to harness the power.


When you first begin playing this game, a warning screen pops up claiming that depending on the screen, the controls may not be able to keep up with the graphics on the screen. So, things may get out of sync.

In the 30 years I've been gaming, I've never seen a warning such as this. So, what was the point in it? That said, I will say that this game does appear to have some controller issues. But, it appears to be a programming issue and not a lag issue. By that I mean that the controller is unresponsive in places. So, you aim, pull the trigger, but the lag between when you pull the trigger is enough for the enemy to shoot you. This is quite frustrating. It almost seems that the game reacts to the trigger pull and forces a robot character to kill you instead of you killing it.


Tutorials are provided in the beginning to help get you to use the features you have available. So, the early levels force you to learn how to play the game. I'm mixed when it comes to tutorials, though. I find that they are usually too restrictive to be helpful and don't really help you learn the features. Just give me the gun (or whatever) and and let's move on. I'll learn as I go.


This game is the type that uses checkpoint saves. You cannot save your place wherever you want. Instead, you have to rely on getting to a checkpoint. So. if your character dies, it will start up there. In some games, I find this can be a problem as sometimes checkpoints are too far apart. In this game, the checkpoints are close enough together that it wasn't overly problematic. There were a few places where I would have preferred closer checkpoints, but that was perhaps one or two places in the hundreds of checkpoints throughout the game.

Yes, I prefer to be able to save anywhere.. and I prefer that the game save full state information for full recovery, but that can also be an issue. When you restart the game from a checkpoint, it fills your health bar fully so this is at least one benefit of this system.

Health Pickups

This game basically requires you to find and apply health manually yourself which I am not a big fan of. There are two types of health pickups in this game: Immediate health replenish and med packs you can use at any time.

As you progress with this game, you will find less and less health (of any kind) throughout the levels. You also find, at most, one med pack per level at the end levels. This makes the game frustrating to complete because you end up with so little health your character is forever dying and restarting. This style of gaming is not challenging, it's just stupid.

Note that even though you may be carrying the maximum of 3 med packs, you must remember to apply the med packs yourself. The game won't do this for you. So, if you run out of health, your character dies (even though you carry 3 med packs). I found this part of the game the most stupid part. Just give me a feature to auto-apply health if it's there.


Weapons are found plentifully throughout most levels as you eliminate enemies. So, you'll have plenty of ammo throughout the game, with the exception of one level. There is one level about 2/3 through the game where you will end completely out of ammo (because the enemies drop nothing). Head shots are your friend on this level.


The graphics are reasonably well done. The texture maps on the environments are excellent. So, the terrain makes this game quite believable. There wasn't too much in way of glitching or slowdowns. Many of the later levels require strategic thinking (to conserve health and ammo) and still get to the next checkpoint. So, you don't go running into the level on a rampage and expect to get through the level. In most cases, you need to locate the enemies and use an attack plan to get rid of them one at a time. The best gun for this is the sniper rifle.


The audio sets a suspenseful mood. The music swells when enemies are near, so you can tell. It also subsides when you've cleared the level.


I liked the game reasonably well. The story was compelling enough, but the gameplay was a bit too standard for my tastes. If they had explored the mental abilities of the character and let him harness these powers as a weapon, I would have felt the game was much more complete. But, it didn't happen.

I also felt that the first F.E.A.R. game was slightly better than this one. This one seemed not as well done, even though the graphics looked good. In some ways, I felt that this game was a bit too much like The Darkness (without the creature powers). In the same way as you switched back and forth between real life and a dream realm, so does F.E.A.R. 2 in places. Unfortunately, you didn't get to play much in that realm. There was, in fact, only one level that played out in the dream realm. The rest of the game was played out in the game's real-life.

While the story was the best part, it didn't congeal the game fully and it also didn't end in a satisfactory way.. it was quite predictable.


  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 8/10
  • Bugginess: 10/10 (Amazingly, no bugs or crashes)
  • Controls: 7/10
  • Bang-To-Buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $15
  • Overall: 8/10 (no special gameplay, story was best part)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Xbox 360 - Quake Wars: Enemy Territory

Quake Wars: Enemy Territory by id

What's to say about this game? It's a straightforward level based shooter. It doesn't do anything special. Really!


There are two teams. The aliens and the soldiers. You are tasked to choose a class (type of soldier) to complete the campaign. You either win or lose.

Think of Quake Wars as a Capture The Flag style objective multiplayer gaming style. So, that means that you need to be the right class, then get to the objective spot to do whatever. So, you might be tasked to drive a vehicle to a specific location, place charges or hack something. In order to do this, you have to switch between classes.

On the other hand, the enemy doesn't seem to do that. All they do is run around trying to prevent you from that task. So, there's lots of dying.

The Good

If you like multi-player objective and team based play, you'll like Quake Wars. Other than that, there's not much else.

The Bad

Far too simplistic and too expensive for what it is. Each level has objectives, but your soldier character is constantly killed by the enemy. It takes too long waiting around for medics to fix you and even longer to respawn with a new wave of troops. The game's battling and running around is just like Wolfenstein (old school). The graphics aren't particularly spectacular and the movement is, again, old school.

When you win, all it does is say, GDF Wins. Not particularly thrilling. There's actually more hurrah when you lose than when you win.


I was expecting more from this game. It's very simplistic in its design. It does what it does well, but still very simplistic. For me, this style of gaming has limited appeal and limited play value. This means that after a short while, I'll get bored and want to play something else. Note that I am not a big fan of multiplayer level based combat play. I'm just not up for running around on a play field hunted and killing. It's mindless gaming at its best... not my thing.


  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 6/10 (way too old school and simplistic)
  • Bugginess: ??/10 (N/A)
  • Controls: 9/10 (control works well enough)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 4/10 (limited replay value)
  • Play Value: $15
  • Overall: 5.5/10 (simplistic, not enough to it, limited play value)