Saturday, June 25, 2011

Xbox 360 - The First Templar

The First Templar by Kalypso

Type: Third Person Sword Combat
Save Type: Checkpoint

I've been torn about writing a review for this game. I tend to write reviews based on at least some redeeming quality. Unfortunately, I haven't really been able to find many redeeming qualities in The First Templar. I will say that based on the title, this game may appear related to Assassin's Creed. It has nothing to do with Assassin's Creed in any form at all. That said, here's the review.


Actually, I'm really pretty lost with the story here. Basically, you're two Templar Knights (at least in the beginning) wandering the countryside in search of something. I haven't yet determined what that 'something' is nor am I curious enough to really go find out.

As a story author, you really need to make it clear what your player characters are all about and what their motivations are. Just as any good story, this setup is crucial to making a compelling story and a compelling game. Otherwise, the gamer will simply skip all of the setup just to jump into the gaming (as I did with this game).


You're a team of two. You can switch between the characters at will (bumper button). Each character has his/her own health bar, experience, armor, weapons and power ups. So, you get to level up your characters separately.

The game tries to be a dungeon crawler, but doesn't really do much of this. Most of the game is pointless little diversions. For example, you have to mount a trebuchet and lob rocks at the enemy. You do this several times. In fact, this part gets a little tedious after the third time. It was actually kind of fun the first time. But, not after the third time. Or, you might be tasked to break down doors and rescue the inhabitants from being burned to death.


Mostly, however, this is a fighting game. You just go in with your sword and use combos to kick butt and take names later. The game likes to throw wave after wave of enemy soldiers at you, so you need to make sure to spend those eXPerience points to expand your health capacity and get better combos.

Leveling Up

To level up, you click the back button and this opens up the level up screen. You can level up your player character right from this screen. There is a very large amount of things you can buy to level up your characters. So, there was a fair amount of thought put into this part of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn't really support this level up detail. It's rare that a game company can get all of the pieces of a game to work together cohesively. So far, Bethesda is about the only company who has been able to accomplish it with both Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.


The controls are a bit on the overly sensitive side (specifically the camera). However, this doesn't really hamper the game from working once you're used to it. The control mapping is okay, but I would have preferred something a little more standard.


The audio works, but not outstanding. The voiceovers aren't bad, but the facial animation is rather weak. The music works, but isn't enough that I would run out and buy the soundtrack. At times, the music can be a little repetitive.


Average. The designers decided to use in-game rather than pre-rendered cinematics (by moving the camera close to the game characters) for the transition scenes. While this can sometimes work, it doesn't work for this game. And, unfortunately, it doesn't help make this game any better. The oddness here, additionally, is that the designers decided to overuse the left and right sound effects. So, the voices come out almost entirely left or right when the characters are speaking. Again, while this can sometimes work, it's just odd here.

The textures, lighting and environments are mostly underwhelming. The only exception to this are the Templar outfits. They are actually well done and very detailed. Some of the environments look good, but even as good as they look in places there's so few things that you can interact with in-world that it's mostly a waste.


Some of this game can be fun. However, most of it is tedious. After you've done the Trebuchet twice, you're kind of tired of it. So, you really don't relish the thought of doing it again. Yet, you do. This game could have been far better if it had tried to do more with the characters and turned it more into an exploring game rather than a fighting game. Rent this one.

  • Sound: 7/10
  • Graphics: 5/10
  • Gameplay: 5/10
  • Story: 4/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $5
  • Overall: 4.5/10

Monday, June 13, 2011

Coming Holiday 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? Without further ado...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Xbox 360 - Hunted: The Demon's Forge

Hunted: The Demon's Forge by Bethesda

Type: Third Person Co-Op Shooter
Save Type: Checkpoint

Hunted: The Demon's Forge is a third person co-op campaign shooter with the second player character played by AI. You can switch between the characters only when you reach certain portals. This is a checkpoint save based game. The trouble with this game isn't the AI or the game itself, it's the graphics. In a word, horrible. If you like game throwbacks to the late 90's (ala Xbox original quality), then you'll probably like this game. If not, you should probably rent this first.


You are a team of two (a human man and an elf.. at least, I think she's an elf). Anyway, you're roaming the countryside when you come upon a woman who appears out of a time distortion portal. She tells you you need to collect death stones and give them to her to gain the power to defeat the enemy. Well, you can see where this is heading. So, you give her the stones and you're taken to a level up menu to equip yourself better (both in spells and in combat).


The controls are a bit overly sensitive, so the tiniest camera movement moves the screen around almost instantly. Other than the sensitivity issue, HDF plays pretty much like any other action third person shooter. You roam the level, kill lots of creatures (skeletons and other dead-ish looking creatures) and collect gold and crystals to buy upgrades. In addition to the standard fare of killing the undead, you are given a bow to shoot at ropes and chains to free people or smash things. As you smash things, like doors, you can enter rooms to gain new weapons or other goodies.

The downside to this game is there's very little to do other than kill, smash and collect. So, don't go into this game thinking you're going to get a very deep gaming experience. No, treat this game as it is, light gaming fare.


This is where this game gets its absolute lowest marks. The graphics look no better than a Wii game (and, in some cases) worse. Specifically, the environments look okay, but the characters look amazingly bad. The textures are low res, the movements are strange and the mouths might as well not move at all. The weapons work well enough, but there's just not much here to brag about with the graphics. If you want a much higher res gaming experience, then get Gears of War, Halo 2 or Modern Warfare. These are high quality games given the professional graphics touch. Hunted: The Demon's Forge is so poorly done graphically, I'm surprised Bethesda would even want to release this thing.


Even though one of the main voice overs is Lucy Lawless, this game doesn't benefit from her work here. The graphics rendering quality is so bad on the characters, even the voice overs don't help.


This game needs a lot more development time to polish the graphics. In fact, this game looks even worse than Two Worlds and Two Worlds II. Yes, it looks that bad. The game plays better than Two Worlds, though.

Again, this is another disappointing title from Bethesda. It's unusual for Bethesda Softworks to release such underwhelming titles as Brink and now Hunted: The Demon's Forge. However, if you like throwbacks to the 90's, you might enjoy this style of game (ignoring the poor quality graphics, of course). I'm personally not thrilled with AI based forced co-op play. So, this play style doesn't get high marks from me.

This is not a title you're going to play for a long time anyway. So, I'd recommend renting over buying this one. Stick with Redbox or Gamefly to find this game. Don't spend full price.

  • Sound: 6/10
  • Graphics: 3.5/10 (amazingly bad character graphics)
  • Gameplay: 7/10
  • Story: 6/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 8.5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $5 (rent this one)
  • Overall: 4/10 (too much of a throwback, game too straightforward, poor graphics)