Saturday, July 11, 2009

Xbox 360 - Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters by Atari

I had been waiting for this game for over a year. When it got postponed last year, I was disappointed. It almost seemed like it wasn't going to be released. However, it has since been released (in June 2009) and upon release I high hopes for this game, but alas the balloon has burst.


I was hoping for a brand new story with brand new things. Instead,
Ghostbusters gives a rehash of everything that's been done in the films already. Basically, the game takes off with the lore set up in the films and tries to expand on that. Specifically, the Gozer mythos. I was hoping to get away from this, but I guess it fits with what they are trying to do.

Unfortunately, there is a severe disconnect between the story and the gameplay. So, what you're doing in the game seems distant to the story line. Basically, you play as a new recruit to the Ghostbusters team. So, in addition to Egon, Ray, Peter, Winston and Janine, you are now a new young recruit to the team.

Because you are new (and in the game's driver's seat), you are expected to do everything. All the while, the team gives you praise after you finish off a ghost.


You carry a backpack and traps. You have to trap ghosts that appear. In much of the beginning of the game, you do this. Later on in the game, there's far less ghost trapping. In fact, there are some things that appear to be ghosts, but the game won't let you trap them. So, you just have to eliminate them with your protonic stream.

Each level is prefaced by a cinematic that leads you into the gameplay. Unfortunately, the cinematic is disconnected from the gameplay. So, while it's kind of cool to watch, they get boring really fast when you just want to get to playing. In many cases, I found myself often skipping them just to get the level going.

Note that the cinematics are rendered and not actual footage. So, they are sometimes tedious to watch.


The controls are reasonably intuitive. There's nothing overly strange about the way your character handles. The one thing that is annoying is that there is no health gauge to speak of. So, you really don't know when your character is about to die. The other annoying thing is that the proton pack overheats and you have to release the heat before you can use it again.


There are upgrades in the game, but they are mostly useless.


The bosses in this game are reasonably easy to defeat. The exception to this are the flying cherubs. These things are actually the hardest enemy to deal with. Because the pack is so imprecise, you can't easly target these flying cherubs. And, even when you do, another one swoops in and knocks you down. There is no defense against these things. Even on the easiest level of this game, these cherubs are difficult to defeat. Even the final boss wasnt nearly as hard as the flying cherubs.

Perfect Aim

This is another in the ever growing numbers of shooters where you have sucky aim and every enemy has perfect aim even when they are but one pixel in size. Game designers MUST stop doing this in games. They must give some level of random probability of miss to enemies.


The game is way way too short. The hardness levels go up exponentially. Unless you really like your frustration level high, don't play this game on anything other than easy. The story is far too familiar and not enough different from the first film to really say this has a great story. The gameplay is medicre for a shooter and, at times, tedious. The proton stream weapon is cool, but you don't really get to use it enough in the way it should be used.

  • Sound: 8/10 (average)
  • Graphics: 9.5/10 (looks great at times)
  • Gameplay: 5/10 (fair, but hard a times)
  • Story: 5/10 (too much the same as the films)
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 9/10 (well done)
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10 (too short, no replay value)
  • Play Value: $10 (rent it)
  • Overall: 5/10 (needed a lot more work)

Xbox 360 - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter (and the Half-Blood Prince) by Warner/EA

Preface this by saying I've liked most of the Harry
Potter games. I specifically liked Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix game. Order of the Phoenix took advantage of some things that HBP doesn't. Let's explore Half-Blood Prince.


The game's story pretty much follows the book, but does leave out a lot of elements. For a movie game, the games have always been light on the story side. Even lighter than the movie, unfortunately. So, this basically leaves the game elements to pick up for what the story lacks. The game does put in most of the major story points, but leaves out a lot of nuances that makes Harry Potter stories intriguing. This is unfortunate because a game has a lot more time to give the player to explore Hogwarts, Harry and his friends. But, in every HP game, they've always ignored what can be done with the length of a video game... and Half-Blood Prince is no exception.


You play as Harry most of the game. You do change to play as other characters twice in the game... first Ron, then Ginny.


Quidditch is a big part of this game, but unfortunately it fails completely in gameplay. The Quidditch sections force you to practice each time before a 'real' game and you cannot skip the practice. The practice course has nothing in common with the 'real' course when you play the game. Worse, your sole goal is to chase the snitch by flying through star shaped rings. You can't fly faster or slower, you simply have to follow the course laid out for you. You have a limited amount of time to get through all of the rings and if you miss enough rings, you run out of time as flying through the rings extends the time. There is no timer on the screen, only the color the rings guides you. Green, you're ok, red you're running out of time. Of all of the sections of Half-Blood Prince, the Quidditch is the most annoying as you can't skip it.


Unlike Order of the Phoenix, this game has no quests to speak of. There
are a few side quests, but not near the quality of what was in OOTP. This game basically removed most of the side elements that made OOTP fun. So, there's no Wizard Chess, no Gobstones and none of the other little things that made OOTP a better game then HBP. This game is fairly light on anything but the main storyline. So, pretty much everything leads you back to the main story. The exception to this is dueling and potion making.


The passageways remain from OOTP, but there are fewer and you get the passwords to them far easier than OOTP. In fact, most times you just happen upon them by some character telling you the password after you've completed some part of the game.

Crests and mini-crests

The game offers both Crests (large medalions) and mini-crests. Most other games offered collecting jelly beans to give you things. In HBP, the jelly beans were replaced with mini-crests. Certain things like lights, bushes and suits of armor can be touched to give you mini-crests. Once you collect enough mini-crests, you will be awarded a full crest. There are 150 full crests in the game.


Because HBP is mostly about the HBP's potion manual, this game focuses on potion making as a big part of the mini-games. You do potion making through the potions club. So, you are tasked with making various potions. The most annoying part of this is that the potions have a timer so that you must complete the potion in a specific amount of time. The problem with the timer, for example, is that this doesn't follow with Rowling's canon. For example, Polyjuice potion supposedly takes a month to brew. Yet you have only a few seconds to make it in the potions club. In fact, I don't even see why there is a timer on potion making. It should take as long as it takes. I understand the gaming aspect to adding a timer, it's just not realistic with the actual canon of Harry Potter.


The second mini-game aspect to HBP is dueling. This was present, somewhat, in OOTP, but it becomes a mini-game in Half-Blood Prince. In dueling, you have to try to get the most points by using the most unique spells. The problem is, it's far too easy once you know the trick. Basically, if you stand a few inches away from the other person, you can hit them with any spell every time. Expelliarmus knocks down the opponent and then you can hammer them with smaller spells to whittle down their health. This works in any duel (whether in the dueling club or outside it).


Considering the release date extension from November 2008 to July 2009 for the film release, this game is not nearly as good Order of the Phoenix and is overly short. The questing system is incomplete. The lack of quests is annoying and the linear nature of the game basically forces you to stay on track. Quidditch should have been fun, but was completely botched. Overall, as a family game for kids, they might like it. For adults, this one is much weaker than the previous games... but at the same time, it's also much much easier than OOTP. I liked some of the challenges in OOTP because they were challenging. Especially the chess. Unfortunately, that was taken away in this game and what's left is far too easy.

  • Sound: 7.5/10 (reasonable, but could have been better)
  • Graphics: 7.5/10 (textures are done well enough)
  • Gameplay: 6/10 (too linear, too easy)
  • Story: 5/10 (not enough detail)
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 9/10 (same controls as OOTP)
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10 (too short, too linear)
  • Play Value: $7 (rent it)
  • Overall: 5/10 (needs a lot more work)

Xbox 360 - Prototype

Prototype by Activision

I get a lot of people asking me about Prototype and if it's a good game.
As this is a no-holds-barred review site, suffice it to say that this game is an almost exact rip-off of Spiderman: Web of Shadows right down to the story. The only thing that's substantially different from Spiderman is the character and his abilities. His abilities lead to only minor differences in play between Spiderman and Prototype.


As I stated, Prototype rips off Spiderman: Web of Shadows near completely. From the pods on the side of the buildings that you have to defeat, to the city-wide infection, to the people on the street trying to attack you. Everything is nearly identical.


Instead of webs to hurl you through the air, in Prototype your character can run up the sides of buildings (although, even Spiderman could do this). You can then jump off and glide between buildings.

They've added a few new things to this game that Spiderman didn't have (i.e. consuming your enemy and disguises), but that's really not enough to warrant calling this a brand new game.


The controls on this game are fair. They work about as well as Spiderman, but not always.


I understand the need to recoup monies from the investment in game development. But to take an existing game, give it a slight facelift, new graphics and slight story changes is not enough to warrant this game as new. This game is really not worth the money considering its revamped ties to Spiderman: Web of Shadows.

Ultimately, I would lump this in as a sequel to Spiderman even though it's not of the Spiderman genre. The game and story is just too close to Spiderman for comfort.

Spiderman was a better game only because of the Spiderman lore. Prototype, on the other hand, isn't nearly as good primarily because you have to ask who is this guy and why should I care?

  • Sound: 7/10
  • Graphics: 8/10 (reasonable)
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 7/10 (control works well enough, but could be better)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 1/10 (played it already)
  • Play Value: $5
  • Overall: 4/10 (unoriginal)