Monday, 26 September 2011

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 - DS review

An edited version of this review can be found at BeefJack

The human collecting instinct does not recognise borders. We will catch them all, even if it means jumping to another franchise to do so. Dragon Quest is that franchise as Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 comes in for BeefJack scrutiny.

The Dragon Quest canon is very dear to the hearts of Japanese gamers, its legacy spans twenty-five years with thirty-five official DQ titles released on ten consoles. A Dragon Quest game in Japan is preceded by months of hype during which pre-order sales will out-strip the worth of the remainder of the game charts. In the days leading up to release, videogame retailers will hire extra staff in anticipation of the imminent, monumental sales uplift. Those staff members will step over the sleeping bags and sidle around the tents set up on the pavement by Dragon Quest otaku, eager to be first on their block to play the latest instalment.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Spider-Man: The Edge of Time preview

An edited version of this preview can be found at BeefJack

With the 50th anniversary of everybody's favourite neighbourhood web-slinger approaching, not to mention pressure from a certain Dark Knight, developer Beenox have a lot to prove with their second stab at a well-loved franchise. Will Marvel's brightest star be dazzling enough to extinguish the looming shadow of DC's Batman: Arkham City, or will SPIDER-MAN: THE EDGE OF TIME merely be a superhero stop-gap until Rocksteady roll out the big gun?

Beenox had a hit on their hands with their previous game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. So much so that Activision officially announced that the New York-based hero's future outings would thereafter be handled exclusively by the Quebec studio. But with Spider-Man comes a 50-year timeline more convoluted and confusing than the United Kingdom's Royal Family and Sonic the Hedgehog's family trees combined: there have been, to date, 21 different 'versions' of Spidey ranging from red and blue suited reboots, to a black suited noir interpretation (not to mention the best forgotten Spectacular Spider-Ham of the 1980's).

From Dust - XBLA review

An edited version of this review can be found at Gamer-UK

From Dust is not the game the previews would have you believe it is. Hailed in its inception and during production as a ‘God’ game, From Dust gives the player very little control over much but the, admittedly impressive, landscape. You are constantly at the mercy of the (for the most part) unpredictable and (always) brutal weather/natural disaster combo and as a result are rendered almost as hapless as the minions you are charged with shepherding from one ‘totem’ to the next.

OK, so let me spread this out for you. From Dust is a landscape sculpting game. A JCB simulator, if you like. Once the initial Godly novelty of moving mountains wears off – it doesn’t take long – what you are left with is a whole heap of dirt that has to be moved from one place to another. The reason for this mass excavation? To populate an increasingly hostile world with Tribes-people. Acting as The Breath, it is your job care for these mindless settlers as they wander, somewhat aimlessly (I'll come back to the AI soon), across the sand and soil until they are shepherded by your Almighty excavations to a previously placed Totem. These totems mark safe ground for your little people to settle and populate.