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Light and Dark Face Off in Metroid Prime 2 (Preview)

On Nov. 15, our favorite female bounty hunter Samus Aran returns to a GameCube console near you in “Metroid Prime 2: Echoes”. In her latest adventure, Samus crash lands on the planet Aether, a world torn between light and darkness. Samus will face-off against characters from both sides of the light and dark rifts creating a truly unique experience.

From what I’ve played of the title, the core graphics for Metroid Prime 2 are very similar to those of the original Prime, which is still to this day one of the best looking GameCube titles on the market. For the latest iteration, Retro Studios has improved the already stellar graphics engine by adding more detailed environments and features superior lighting effects. Technically you’re getting the same Metroid Prime visual quality enhanced by some modern improvements.

What sets Metroid Prime 2 apart from the original are its multiplayer capabilities. Now up to four people will be able to duke it out against each other in classic first person action. The finished product will include two multiplayer modes, deathmatch and bounty. The deathmatch portion is your straight forward shoot’em-up where the goal of the game is to rack-up the highest kill count. While in Bounty mode your goal is to collect the biggest possible purse before the counter runs out. Sadly, the multiplayer aspect will be limited to split screen gameplay as no LAN or online play is featured in the game. Still a multiplayer Metroid Prime will definitely be a party favourite.

Metroid Prime 2 is definitely worth picking-up for GameCube owners. Lets just hope the that the title doesn’t get overshadowed by the other powerhouse games coming out in November (Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and Need for Speed Underground 2). For one thing, Metroid Prime 2 looks like one of the year’s best GameCube titles.

André Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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X-Men Legends… A different kind of superhero title (X-men Legends Review)

Brace yourselves, as one of Marvel comics’ most unusual fighting teams of all time returns to a gaming console near you. Published by Activision and developed by Raven Software, the X-Men return in a new interactive tale dubbed “X-Men Legends”, which appears on the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PS2 and Microsoft Xbox. This time around, instead of your typical comic book brawler, the folks at Raven Software have cast our favourite group of mutants in a different kind of adventure, a role-playing game (RPG) where you get to build-up your characters’ abilities and strengths while dishing-out some comic book mayhem in the process.

You start off by controlling Wolverine, who must rescue the young Allison Crestmere from the clutches of the evil Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants. As you progress, you’ll get to control a team composed of up to four heroes, choosing their skills and powers as they advance in their respective missions. Each character has his or her own skill set, including distinct combat styles, special powers, and even combination attacks. Combo attacks can be accomplished in tandem with other X-Men characters on your team resulting in devastating assault on whoever chooses to block your path.

The game features a strong RPG element where you’ll get to level-up your character by gaining experience points through successful battles. When enough experience points have been accumulated, your character graduates to the next level. The level-up will allow you to upgrade your mutant skills. The game sports a nifty auto-upgrade feature that will automatically upgrade your player’s attributes and skills by simply pressing the “Y” button on your characters menu screen.

One of the most unique features of the game is actually its multiplayer aspect. Up to three friends can join your quest at any time during a single player escapade by simply tapping one of the buttons on an extra controller. Each player will have his or her own heads up display, which features such items as your health and power meters. The only restriction in the co-op mode is that you need to have enough X-Men on your party to accommodate the number of players willing to participate. The neat thing about this aspect of the game is the fact that players can join the game (and also leave at any time) without disrupting the single-player story mode.

It would have been interesting to see an Xbox Live or PS2 online mode to the game. An extra challenge would have arisen with the fact that you would have been able to play cooperatively with people from across the globe. Still, the current multiplayer aspect is more than satisfactory.

Graphically, the game sports a comic book feel thanks to its cel-shaded feel. The characters and environments look like they’ve been taken directly from the pages of a comic. The game looks like no other title on the market. X-Men Legends might not be the best looking game out there, but it bolsters some interesting visuals that surely won’t disappoint.

X-Men Legends features a slight learning curve, but even the casual gamer will be playing the game comfortably in no time thanks to the game’s easy control system. Overall, X-Men Legends is a very interesting title that will satisfy comic book and RPG fanatics with its captivating storyline and immersive gameplay. A must-have for action/RPG fans who want to stray away from the traditional medieval scenarios that are prominently featured in the genre. A definitive 4 out of 5 star title.

X-Men Legends features a Teen ESRB rating. For more information on the game, visit its official website at www.x-men-legends.com.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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Nyko’s Air Flo Mouse, a PC gaming novelty?

Following the release of the Air Flo controller for the PC, Nyko delivered another PC peripheral, the Nyko Air Flo Mouse. With the popularity of PC gaming, one would think such a device makes sense. Does the device deliver on its promise of a sweat-free gaming experience, or is the mouse just an expensive novelty?

Like the Air Flo joystick, the mouse works by dispensing cool air through four sets of systematically designed pores on the outer shell of the device. Two of those sets of pores are situated under your palm to disperse a maximum amount of airflow. The mouse also features two ventilated side grips that are designed to help eliminate fatigue and perspiration during usage.

The mouse has two ventilation settings, a high and low. Sadly, both settings don’t seem to disperse enough air to actually make a difference. An even higher ventilation setting would have probably done the trick. The switch itself, which is found underneath the device, could have been better positioned. Having to turn the mouse upside down in order to switch fan settings is quite bothersome.

One thing I noticed with the mouse after using it for a few weeks is that it now produces an annoying sound when initially started. The sound emanating from the device is similar to that of a defective fan. Luckily, the noise eventually goes away after a few seconds, but it’s still unacceptable for a retail product.

Another disappointing aspect of the mouse is its cord length. Out of curiosity, I measured the mouse’s cord with other mice that I had at home. Surprisingly, the Air Flo Mouse’s cord was exactly 1’2” shorter than your average mouse, which usually comes equipped with a 6’ foot cord. Perhaps Nyko should have thought of releasing a wireless version of the mouse instead.

Aesthetically, the mouse looks great. With its rubberized palm cushion and side grips, the Air Flo Mouse looks like a sleek and modern device. It’s actually a nice-looking mouse that would look great with a custom PC setup.

The designers of the mouse actually sacrificed comfort in order to obtain a modernized look. The mouse’s ergonomics just don’t feel right. The button positioning feels pretty awkward, the button setup should have been stretched to fit the mouse’s width. The side vents can also be quite bothersome and are utterly uncomfortable.

Negativity aside, the Nyko Air Flo Mouse is an interesting concept that has a lot of potential. I am actually anxious to see the next rev of the device to see whether or not Nyko improved the concept. The next iteration could greatly benefit from having some improvements such as wireless support, a better airflow dispersement system and a more comfortable feel. For now, save your hard earned cash for either a Logitech MX510 or the latest Microsoft Microsoft Intelli Explorer mouse. The Nyko Air Flo mouse retails for approximately $30.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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The Halo 2 wait is almost over… (Halo 2 Xbox Preview)

In a-little over than a month, Xbox owners will have the opportunity to return to the world of the immensely popular first person shooter “Halo 2”. Developed by Bungie Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios, the eagerly anticipated title will be hitting store shelves on Nov. 9. The game has already broken a record as it’s been the most requested pre-order of 2004.

The sequel to the 2001 critically acclaimed Xbox launch title “Halo: Combat Evolved”, the game kicks off where the original left off. Instead of duelling against the evil Covenant on alien soil, this time the battle lines have been drawn on Earth and our only hope is the legendary soldier, Master Chief. As Master Chief, your goal will be to save humanity and free our home world from the Covenant.

Halo 2 will sport an enhanced look over it predecessor, as the graphics engine has been rebuilt from the ground-up delivering superior graphics and gorgeous cinematics. The game will feature highly detailed character designs and animations coupled with realistic lighting effects and elaborately designed environments.
Both the NPC (non-playable characters) and enemy AI have been bumped-up a notch. Your enemies will duck to take cover, clamber over obstacles or smash their way through debris to in order to annihilate you and your mates, while human NPC will react accordingly to the events and circumstances taking place.

Like the former Halo, you’ll be able to play the game as either a solo marine in single player action or accompanied by a friend through cooperative play. Both single player and coop are played through the game’s story mode.

This time around, gamers will have the opportunity to bring Halo 2 online via Xbox Live. Up to 16 players will be able to dual it out against others from around the globe in intense multiplayer showdowns. You’ll be able to create teams in order to duke it out against other clans. Gamers will also be able to view their game stats and worldwide ranking through Bungie.net.

Upon launch, Halo 2 will be available in two editions. The “Standard Edition”, which will retail for $59.99, features the customary disc and instruction booklet. Also available will be the limited “Collector’s Edition” ($64.99) two DVD set which will come bundled in metal DVD incasing. The bonus disc in the set will feature extras such as the making of Halo 2, special featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes, an art gallery and commentary from the development team.

If Halo 2 delivers as promised, the game will indeed be the ultimate Xbox title. The game will feature a Mature ESRB rating. Halo 2 can currently be preordered at your favourite retailer.

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Previous News

Peggle on iPhone OS Available for $0.99

The iPhone OS version PopCap Games‘ highly addictive “Peggle” is available for $0.99 through the iTunes App Store. The catch is that you have until midnight on June 14 to make the purchase. Be warned though, you might have a hard time doing anything else but play Peggle on your iPhone/iPod Touch.

All Your Entertainment in One… Xbox

On June 1, 2009, Microsoft announced several entertainment focused add-ons to its Xbox Live Service during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California. Following the keynote, one thing seemed clear, the Redmond Software giant is poised to push its Xbox 360 platform as the media-centric device for your living room. “Our goal has been […]

Zune Marketplace Post on Decabled.com

Visit Decabled.com to view a post of mine that was published pertaining to the recent Xbox Live Entertainment announcements. Click here to go directly to the article.

E3 2009

E3 kicks off in a few days. I’m interested in seeing what will be brought to the table. Surely there will be alot to talk about in the next few days.

Fallout 3: The Pitt Now Available

This one’s for those looking for some extra “Fallout 3” playtime. The Xbox only downloadable content, “The Pitt” is available for purchase through the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft points and weighs in at 492MB . Below is a blurb taken from the XBLA Marketplace: “Pittsburgh was once the industrial center of the pre-war […]

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