X-Men Legends II - Rise of Apocalypse

I can't remember why, but I lost interest quickly when I played the first X-Men Legends game. But this sequel from last year is definately more enjoyable as I been hooked on it for the past few days since I started playing it. Maybe because my favorite X-Man, Juggernaut, is in it as a playable character?
Anyways, the story of the game is that super-mutant Apocalypse has more or less taken over, having devastated the island of Genosha and the Xavier Institute, leaving Prof. Xavier's X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood no choice but to work together the vanquish a common enemy.
This action RPG game sees you play as up to four mutants in your party, with a handful of mutant characters from both the X-Men and the Brotherhood to choose from, as well as unlockable characters. You can opt to control any of the four members in your party at any time, and you can switch members in your party either by finding designated extraction points or by summoning Blink to use her mutant ability to teleport you back to your home base.
The good thing about your CPU controlled party members is that they can fend for themselves in battles, so you won't have to worry too much about them, only you'll be racing against them to score kills to level up your controlled character. But another good thing is you can set the game to automatically distribute experiance points and abilities as you level up, so if your not in to distributing points and controlling the stats of your characters ability, it's all covered for you by the game.
You also won't have to worry too much about keeping your character levels balanced, cause even if you use the same four characters for every mission, the characters that you don't use will also get leveled up not too far behind your currently used party members.
Overall, I would easilly recommend this game if you haven't got it already, as it's a really enjoyable action RPG with a good story to go with it. However, there really is only one drawback: a hideously long loading time! The loading times in this game is really long, and can sort of take away from the action when you have to wait a really long time for the game to load just so you can enter a new area. Loading between levels is one thing, but when you have to wait so long just to get to the screen to change your characters, and than wait again to get back to the game just kills your buzz.
Despite the drawback of the long loading, I think I would still recommend this if your a fan of the X-Men, or love action RPGs in the vein of Legend of Zelda etc.

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


PSM Top 10 of 2005

Picking up the latest issue of PSM magazine, they had their top 10 picks of the best PS2 games of 2005, so here they are from 10 to 1:

10. Guitar Hero

9. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening

8. Burnout Revenge

7. Peter Jackson's King Kong

6. Soul Calibur III

5. Psychonauts

4. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

3. Shadow of the Colossus

2. Resident Evil 4

1. God of War

I get the feeling they'll vote Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence as No.1 next year no matter how crappy it is.


Devil Kings

Capcom takes a page from the hugely successfull Dynasty Warriors game franchise. Now while the game does the series it steals from some justice by emulating it well, but it comes up just a bit short in the end.
You start off with a hand full of larger than life characters to choose from with more to be unlocked as you play the game. So pick you character, watch a nicely done CG movie scene, than it's off to battle as you tear through hordes of enemies as a one man/woman wrecking crew.
The only problem is the insane difficulty of the game, where you can thrash enemy soldiers easilly enough, but it only takes a few odd hits to kill you, or in the case of the bosses, just one combo can all but wipe out your life meter with you not even able to get a hit on the guy.
The characters you get to choose from are also a weird bunch. Ranging from your standard hero, to a femme fetale, to a guy wieldinf a HUGE axe! Some other oddities I found in the game is why the heck a feudal-Japan era warlord would be speaking with a TEXAS accent? Bizzare indeed, but than again most of the voices sound really out of place anyway.
If you really like an uphill challenge, or are a sucker for punishment, than you just might want to check this out. This really would have been a fun game if not for the difficulty of it, as playing on Easy setting is almost TOO EASY.

Game Ratings:
Graphics - 8
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 6
Lifespan - 5
Overall - 5


Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

If your into midevil fantasy hack'n'slashers where you get to mindlessly slash away at waves of enemies, than this is probably the game for your.
You play as one of four selectable warriors and your on a quest to rid the land of the Seven Sorrows of the King, or something like that as I wasn't paying much attention to the boring storyline cut scenes. Up to four players can go at it simulatinously, just like in the classic arcade game.
But the whole thing just comes off as rather redundant: Clear an area of enemies to find the key, move to the next area and repeat till you reach the boss and complete the level.
They'll be a lot of enemies coming at you at once and regenerate until you destroy the generators in the level that regenerate them. You don't get big waves of enemies like in the Dynasty Warriors games, but they all go down rather easilly.
You also have magic spells and can buy new moves before the start of each level with the gold you pick up during battles from smashing crates and such, but you'll easilly find that slashing away with the same one-button 3-slash combo is enough to get the job done. Boss battles can be tough, but again, there's almost no strategy involved in those either.
Overall, if you like spending your afternoons hacking away mindlessly at waves of enemies, this might be the game for you, but there are games available that do a better job like say Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Devil Kings. So Try before you Buy.

Game Ratings:
Graphics - 7
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 5
Lifespan - 5
Overall - 5


2005 Extreme PS2 Game Awards

2005 has been a good year for video gaming, with alot of great games on all platforms. This year, I'll limit my awards to just the PS2 since I don't have any other next gen system and I didn't play anything my PC as I generally just use it for downloading stuff now. On to the awards!

Game of the Year: Shadow of the Colossus
- I honestly enjoyed Shadow of the Colossus more than any other game I’ve played in 2005 because it was something different and a unique gaming experience to haunt down these massive creatures. This game had everything you want in a video game: Great graphics and sound, a great storyline, easy to get into controls, and as I mentioned, just a unique gaming experience that no gamer should miss.
Runners Up:
- God of War
- Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy
- Resident Evil 4

Action/Adventure Game of the Year: Shadow of the Colossus
- See above.
Runners Up:
- God of War
- Destroy All Humans
- Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy
- Resident Evil 4

Best Fighting Game: ESPN Fight Night: Round 2
- There were a lot of fighting games to come out in 2005, but if you wanted something that was downright realistic and challenging, this was it! No special moves or combos that required endless hours of training to perfect, just strap on your boxing gloves and pummel your opponent into a bloody mess!
Runners Up:
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves
- Tekken 5
- King of Fighters: Neowave
- The Rumble Fish

Best Survival Horror Game: Resident Evil 4
- This was actually more of an action adventure game than survival horror, but it does maintain some of the original elements of the classic series and revamped the gameplay system to make it stand out on its own.
Runners Up:
- Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2
- Kuon

Best RPG/Strategy Game: Super Robot Wars Alpha 3
This is probably my own bias as I would give it to this series every year. We’re talking about the game series that got me into next generation gaming, people! And they just keep making things better and better with each game!
Runners Up:
- Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
- X-Men Legends 2

Best Sports Game: Outlaw Golf 2
- FORE! I found myself returning to this one time and time again when I needed to relax. If you like the Tiger Woods games, than you need to check this one out cause this is where Tiger’s games stole all it’s ideas from.
Runners Up:
- ESPN Fight Night: Round 2

Best Wrestling Game: WWE Smackdown! VS RAW 2006
- I’m a big Japanese wrestling nut, so why did I pick this over Fire Pro Returns? Simple; While Fire Pro is a great game for simulating dream matches between the various Japanese companies, SVR2K6 was a game I would actually play and not just watch on screen. Despite a less than spectacular roster, the many game modes more than make up for it, and it had a career/story mode, something FPR was severely missing.
Runner Up:
- Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

Best Game Story/Plot: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
- Probably because I played this most recently, but this game had a GREAT storyline. Like I mentioned in my review, it’s like watching an actual movie, and this easily could have been a movie with the great script and story they gave it. It starts as a who done it murder mystery, but ends up something like the Matrix as the main hero discovers he’s a “chosen one” with abilities far superior than normal people. Might be a bit short, but you’ll still want to play through to the end and play it over to see all the possible scenarios in the game.
Runner Up:
- Shadow of Colossus
- God of War

Game Babe of the Year: Carla Valenti (Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy)

- We had all kinds of larger than life female leads in games this year, but Carla Valenti would easily be the most realistic as her character has a personality to go with her looks. Of course it also helps that she was featured in the 2005 Playboy Cybergirls of Gaming pictorial.
Runners Up:
- Fiona (Haunting Ground)
- Danielle (Haunting Ground)
- Nina Williams (Death By Degrees/Tekken 5)

Most Overated Game of the Year: Soul Calibur 3
- What can I say about this game? Much like the Tekken series of games, there’s nothing really new about it. The main storyline of finding the Soul Edge/Calibur is rehashed with a few new faces and random CPU generated enemies to fight, but it also still plays like Soul Calibur 2. You can make your own warrior, but so what? I didn’t find it all that engaging and it didn’t keep my interest to even unlock all the hidden stuff in the game like the last one cause it felt overly redundant.
Runners Up:
- Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
- Devil May Cry 3

Most Anticipated For 2006: Kingdom Hearts 2
- Japanese version is out, so I just need to wait patiently for the US version. I never played the first one, but was easily impressed enough by it to want to check this out.
Runners Up:
- King of Fighters XI
- Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented
- X-Box 360