Also known as Indigo Prophecy, this game surprised me as having one of the most interesting and intruiging storylines of any game I've played all year, in addition to some interesting and innovative gameplay.
Lucas Kane is a fugitive on the run for commiting a murder in the men's room of a local diner. The thing is, Kane had no control over himself during the crime, and since then, he's been having nightmares. So now Kane is on a search for the truth of what happened (and what is happening) to him. Clara Valenti and Tyler Miles are the detectives on the case hunting down Kane, but Detective Valenti will find out more than she bargains for as things progress. And the whole city is seemingly freezing up to due a severe winter storm.
The game plays out like an interactive movie, and you play as all three of these main characters, with the decisions you make for one character influencing the storyline for the others!
The game also features an innovative and interesting control scheme. You use the left analog stick to move the characters around, and when you interact with something, you use the right analog stick to make your choices of what you want to do or what you want to say during conversations. Remember that what you do and what you say effects the main story of the game, so if your investigating the crime scene and you miss a piece of evidence, you might lose out on some of the story.
And if you think the game is just a standard whodunit murder mystery game, than your sadly mistaken, as the storyline takes a big twist later in the game and turns into more of a Matrix type storyline, with some awesome action sequences and hand-to-hand combat scenes. This here again brings in another gameplay innovation as you play out the action sequences by tapping the analog sticks in the directions shown on the screen, much like those rhythm dancing games you see in the arcades! The downside to this of course is that your more likely to miss the action on screen cause you'll be concentrating on hitting the right button directions, but it still brings up the level of excitement of the game.
And the only other small control problem I have is the camera angles, which you can control thankfully, but sudden camera cuts can cause your movement controls to get screwed up, which is something you don't need when your trying to beat the clock on some of your objectives.
On the graphics side, the game looks great. The characters were all motion captured to add realism to their movements, and their facial expressions are nicely detailed.
The audio is excellent as well, with some of the best voice acting I've heard all year, and a great soundtrack with music from rock group Theory of a Dead Man, as well as some groovy tunes and techno bits, all used well to match the story of the game.
Overall, this is a GREAT game. A great story that keeps you hooked, innovative game play that keeps you on your toes, interesting puzzles that aren't too complicated to solve, and even a bit of nudity and a love scene! I definately rate this as one of the most original games of the year, and highly recommend checking it out!

Game Ratings:
Graphics - 8
Sound - 8
Gameplay - 8
Lifespan - 7
Overall - 8


Magna Carta - Tears of Blood

A Korean made RPG game.
The world is divided into two dominant races: Humans and the Yason, and a war for dominance between the two sides continues to rage on. Our hero is Calintz, leader of a mercenary group called the Tears of Blood, who specialize in secret and sometimes suicidal missions for the human side.
The main story of the game is really interesting, and good enough to keep you hooked to play through, but it's the playing through it part that might make things hard on players.
For instance, during battles, you have 3 people from your party active, but only ONE of them can attack. You have to wait for this timer to count down and only than can you attack your enemies, who have to go through the same process. What this leads to is some unnescessarily long battles since it's more like a one-on-one fight, only your one guy has to take out all the bad guys with your only switching attacking characters when you run out of chi or the elemental the other character represents does more damage.
And when not in battles, running around the huge areas, they actually give you bad camera angles! The battles in the game are optional as you can see the enemies on the screen, and choose to engage them in battle to level up your characters, or just skip by them and run when they look the other way. However, you have no control over the camera, so at times you can't even see what's in front of you as you traverse the environment.
I will give this game points for an interesting storyline, and some good graphics. But it loses out on the voice acting as it's really bad in places, sounding very robotic and scripted.
Overall: This is a passable RPG, and the first I've gotten into since Shadow Hearts: Covenant last year, so you can tell there are some good points to it. If you can stand the bad cameras and bad voices, as well as the battles, you could probably get into this one.

Game Rating:
Graphics - 7
Sound - 6
Gameplay - 6
Lifespan - 6
Overall - 6


Quick Reviews

Falling behind on my game reviews due to the old "too many games, too little time to play them all" excuse, here are some quick reviews of what I have been playing in the past months.

Ultimate Spiderman
If you loved Spider-Man 2, you’ll definitely love this one! Much of the gameplay is retained, but the game is given a major graphic overhaul as everything is now cell-shaded and looks more like a cartoon/comic. Plus, you get to control Venom and eat civilians!
The only drawback I guess is the amount of redundant mini-games you have to play and stuff to find in order to advance the main story, but still a fun romp none the less.
Graphics – 10
Sound – 8
Gameplay – 8
Lifespan – 8
Overall – 8

Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance
Here’s the problem with this game: You got 5 different characters to choose from with their own backstory and move sets, but they all play through the same missions in the game. It would have been more interesting if they added some variety to the story mode where the characters get more specific missions so you don’t have to play through the same game 5 times just to see the stories for all the characters. And there are also some bad camera angles to boot even if you can control the direction of the main camera, enemies always come up from behind you where you can’t see them to get their shots in.
Audio is ok, but voice acting can be horrid as usual. I especially hate the really REALLY bad accent they gave Raven, which sounds just so horribly fake and scripted, or like the voice actor couldn’t even read properly.
Sure it starts out good enough, but loses it’s appeal quickly.
Graphics – 7
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 6
Lifespan – 5
Overall – 5

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
Easily one of the worse games of the year with bad graphics, bad audio, bad camera angles, and horrible controls. Sure you get a whole lot of Marvel super heroes to choose from, some of them I never even heard of before, but the whole thing is redundant and uninspiring and you get bored with it really quickly and even the die-hard Marvel fans will be severely disappointed. Give it a big pass.
Graphics – 5
Sound – 3
Gameplay – 4
Lifespan – 4
Overall – 3

Michigan: Report From Hell
A voyeuristic take on the survival horror genre as you control a news camera man and film your reporter covering the story of a strange fog covering Michigan, with monsters running around the streets. The game plays with a point-and-click style where you aim your camera and click on objects to get your reporter to do things like open doors, pick up objects, solve puzzles and attack enemies. The main premise of every mission is to get your reporter through safely, and the game immediately jumps to the next mission should she die. The game ends if you die, but those situations are very rare in the game and can be avoided all together if you know where they are. And the game can go by really quickly since you have to option to skip a lot of the story parts.
The get points based on 3 criterias of things you film throughout the game, and the ending you get at the end of the game is based on the total amount of points for each criteria and number of reporters you managed to save, which will unlock things like new costumes for the reporters to wear. But a lot of things, like the bonus Yin Ling stage, was cut out of the English version of the game, so in some aspects, I would recommend tracking down the Japanese version.
Overall, the game is really short and there isn’t a lot of replay value once you unlock everything.
Graphics – 7
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 6
Lifespan – 5
Overall – 6

Soul Calibur 3
For some reason, the more I played this game, the more annoyed I got. Much like I hated Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater despite all the wild praise it gets all over the place, I kinda feel the same about Soul Calibur 3 which is also getting rave reviews and perfect scores all over the place. I don’t hate the game as much as MSG3, it’s just that despite new characters, game modes and the usual tons of unlockables, it still has that “been there, done that” feel to it, and I’m not as inspired to unlock everything here like I was in Soul Calibur 2 when it came out years ago.
Graphics – 9
Sound – 8
Gameplay – 7
Lifespan – 7
Overall – 7


Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

One of the longest running and best pro-wrestling game series returns to PS2! The latest installment (and hopefully not the last) in the series brings back more of the same fun 2D wrestling action of the series, with a huge roster spanning every major organization in Japan as well as a hand full of indy promotions.
Available this time around are wrestlers from NJPW, NOAH, AJPW, Zero-1 MAX, Dragon Gate, Osaka Pro, DDT, BJW, Kaientai Dojo, MPro, Riki-Pro, as well as joshi, freelancers and legends. And of course a collection of PRIDE, K-1 and other MMA fighters. There are even more mediocre promotions involved like Apache-Pro, as well as factions like K-Dojo’s RAVE and GET. The only small complaint I have is that I even though you can CAW about 500 wrestlers, I would have preferred the rosters be more complete (just 5 guys for K-Dojo?).
The game still looks like its classic 2D style. Its easy to tell who is who in the game, but things get pixilated rather easily if you have a big TV, and sometimes the color schemes for the wrestlers look like a total mess. Audio is passable, but nothing remarkable. The voices for the wrestlers are fun to hear though.
Gameplay wise you got a ton of different game options to choose from. From standard singles matches to big eight man elimination tags to death matches! It might not have the variety of the WWE games, but this is as good as any authentic Japanese show will have.
The controls are still the same as every other title in the series. It might take awhile to get used to the timing again, but once that’s down, you’ll be having a lot of fun beating up CPU or player controlled opponents.
And then there’s the Edit mode, which is what put the game series on the map. None of the wrestlers or promotions in the game are officially licensed, but you can easily change all the wrestler and promotion names, as well as re-color certain wrestlers so they look like their real life counterparts. You can also create your own wrestlers, promotions, referees, and title belts. I really wish we could make more title belts, as seven belts for the dozen promotions in the game is way too little.
Since there isn’t a US version planned, it will take some time to understand all the Japanese options in the game so you know what your doing. I also feel the game really could have used somekind of career mode instead of the “book a show” option in the game. Still, this retains all the fun of the series and many puroresu fans will be playing and simulating matches in this game for a LONG time (or at least until the next game comes out!).

Graphics – 6
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 8
Lifespan – 8
Overall – 8


We Love Katamari!

The sequel to one of my favorite games from last year, while bringing back many of the fun elements of the original just seems to get tired rather quickly for me.
While the main story of the first game involved putting the stars back into the sky, the second game is a direct follow up, whereas you have to please the millions of Katamari fans on Earth by rolling up katamaris of things they ask for. So instead of just rolling up the biggest Katamari you can in the time limit given, some missions will require you to be specific, like rolling up the biggest of a certain object, like say a cow, but you have to make your Katamari big enough without tagging any other cows so you can tag the biggest one.
The game still retains its trademark cartoonish look and humor, as well as a really excellent soundtrack to which you can now choose which track you want to hear before the mission starts. Your also not just stuck with the tiny prince as a playable character, but other characters can also be unlocked for play in the game if you can find them and snatch them in your Katamari during the various missions.
Another thing is that the game never really seems to end. Once you finish the main story and the ending credits go by, the game continues on replaying the same missions, but with different objectives than previously, so you’ll probably be playing the game longer if you are that big of a Katamari nut.
Overall, even if they did retain the fun of the original, I found myself getting past this one rather quickly and moving on to whatever was next. It’s probably something to play for a laugh when you have friends over, but gets rather tired and redundant easily when on it’s own.

Graphics – 8
Sound – 10
Gameplay – 7
Lifespan – 6
Overall – 7