Xbox LIVE Wrap-Up for June 9th, 2010

It’s 1AM on Thursday morning. Let’s get this shit on the road.

Corrections

Before I begin with this week’s material, I have to issue a correction in regards to last week’s piece. I said when I profiled Snoopy Flying Ace that the demo was pretty weak, only showing one tutorial stage, and that I wouldn’t recommend the game due to some stiff controls. I was corrected by reader Daniel McConnell, who stated that there was a very robust multiplayer mode which made the game an easy purchase, and that a thirty minute multiplayer was featured in the demo. I went and confirmed this and sure enough, I was mistaken. I did play around with the demo’s multiplayer – it pitted new players against established players in Dog Fight mode – and I have to admit, it was a load of fun. I still have the same issues I did with the controls – it’s still kinda stiff, and the “homing” missiles don’t “home” very well – but I was able to ignore that and concentrate on the fact that the game was very fun to play with other people. It’s a bit vapid, and not exactly imaginative – “$10 Crimson Skies” has been used to describe the game, and that’s about right – but just for what seems to be a booming online community? Yes, I think I can now give this a recommendation. Apologies to the developers and my readers for boning that one last week, and a big thanks to Daniel McConnell for the correction!

Xbox LIVE Arcade

We have two releases this week. The big one is Earthworm Jim HD. From my look at the demo, this seems like a remake of the original Genesis title, though I notice it’s quite a bit easier than the original. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the demo – they did a good job of putting the first level in the demo, as well as a bonus stage – and while it still doesn’t address a lot of the issues I’ve had with Earthworm Jim as a game, this is definitely worth it for fans – especially of the cartoon – and absolutely worth a $10 asking price, considering the Virtual Console version of the original is $8. I recommend this purchase, because while I don’t really care for the actual gameplay or platforming, I’m in the minority.

The second XBLA title is NeoGeo Battle Coliseum. I have to admit: I wasn’t a huge fan, mainly because it broke outside the SNK norm for me and I’m pretty vanilla when it comes to fighting games. However, Lucard isn’t, and he LOVED the game. While this is a review of the PS2 version, SNK’s 360 ports tend to be pretty faithful, if Garou: Mark of the Wolves is any indication. This is $10, and well worth the purchase price for fighting game fans, though I would tell someone who’s just getting the system to pick up Garou first. With that said? I reiterate something I said in November: we need to see more of The Last Blade!

Demos

We have one new demo this week, for LEGO Harry Potter. I’ve been a fan of most of the LEGO style of games for awhile now – the Batman game was outstanding – but I couldn’t get into this one. I stopped playing before the end of the demo, because I couldn’t really tell what the hell I was supposed to accomplish, and even the act of choosing what I was supposed to use magic on was clunky; I always focused on anything I DIDN’T want to focus on. Then again, this could be taken with a grain of salt, because I’m decidedly not into Harry Potter. As a Harry Potter game, it’s got a lot of the personality and charm that the books and movies had, but as a game, unless I’m getting something mixed up – which is possible – it’s sorely lacking.

Games on Demand

Microsoft has put out two games on its On Demand service, both for $20. The first one is Red Faction: Guerilla. So, funny story: I actually received this game as a very generous gift from our own Branden Chowen, who had a code he’d received from preordering Metro 2033 that he didn’t need since he already owned the game. I redeemed the code, and after a long wait, the game showed up at my door. Now, here’s the fun part: it’s still sealed. It’s not because I hate the game, or hate Branden, or anything else… I just haven’t had the time to play the game. Every time I turn around, I have to devote time to a game I have to review (don’t let anyone tell you this business is glamourous), so a stunning number of games – everything from classics like Sakura Wars: So Long My Love to niche titles like Record of Agarest War – are either unplayed or flat-out unopened. I mean, I’m JUST getting into Persona 4! So though I own this game, I can’t tell anyone anything about it. I CAN go on hearsay, which says it’s Saints Row 2 with a giant hammer. That’s good enough for me, since Saints Row 2 might be the best open-sandbox game I’ve ever played in terms of pure fun. For $20, this is worth it, especially on the console, since I’ve heard some reports about instability regarding the PC version, though this is normal for Volition games. AJ Hess reviewed the game back when it came out, and gave it a definite stamp of approval.

The second game to be released is Need for Speed: Underground. Though this is also only $20, I’m going to vote skip on this one. Remember how EA had to make a big deal out of “rebooting” the NFS franchise? This is why. ProStreet – which is also on the service – isn’t very good, and Underground is a worse game than that one. I would save the money and put it toward NFS: Shift instead, as that’s better in every conceivable way. If you don’t like “realistic” racing, buy a Burnout game instead.

Deal of the Week

For Gold customers, there are some VERY good deals going on for the rest of the week, taken directly from Major Nelson’s site:

  Normal Price DOTW Price Savings
Worms 2: Armageddon 800 400 50%
Serious Sam HD 1200 800 33%
Peggle 800 400 50%
Duke Nukem 3D 800 400 50%
Battlefield 1943 1200 800 33%
Call of Duty Classic 1200 800 33%

I can absolutely recommend Worms 2; that’s a great game, especially at a $5 price. Duke Nukem 3D is also a very good purchase for $5. If you like online play, Battlefield 1943 is a good buy for $10. Two other games – Serious Sam HD and Peggle – are only good buys if you don’t own a PC. They’re good games, don’t get me wrong, but you want the PC versions if available.

That’s it for this week. The highlight of this week is the LIVE Arcade, with two great releases. Red Faction is a good deal as well, for those who can eat up 6GB of space on their hard drives. Until next time, this is Christopher Bowen, who forgot just how much he sucked at SNK fighting games, apparently. What the hell happened!? I used to be so good at these, once upon a time…

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