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    Shadow Complex

    There's nothing "complex" about being awesome...

    Wow, first off let me say that this game is fantastic, easily the best Downloadable game that I have ever played. It is such a throw back to classic Metroid that I almost feel like I'm holding an SNES controller instead of a 360. The great thing about this game is that it isn't like some hidden gem or anything. People know about this game, it won 9 E3 awards, unheard of for a Downloadable game.

    So the game starts off with some crazy group attacking Washington, DC and you play a short sequence as some throw-away character that you never see again. Then we meet our main character Jason. He is on a date with a chick named Claire and they are going hiking. The girl goes down the pit and when she doesnt come back our hero follows her of course. First you find her backpack, then the game doesn't stop rollin from there.

    The story, suprisingly is one that is very deep if you are a fan of Orson Scott Card's series of Empire books, because that is the universe where the game is set. I watched a few of the developer diaries and they had one with Card. He talked about how the game was a prequel to the novels and how impressed he was with the writers to create a story within the story. So much so that you don't need any type of familiartity with the series to enjoy the game to its fullest extent. That being said, the story is actually very rich and you will find yourself getting into it more and more as the game goes along.

    The team at Chair has really outdone themselves, the gameplay is so smooth there is almost zero learning curve, well if you have some experiance with the side scroller. If not, in 5 minutes most people could probably have the controls down to a comfortable level. The game starts you off slow and you work your way up to doing crazy things like swinging with a grappel chord, and before you even reach the wall jumping off and doing a triple jump. The controls just feel right and they work. There is really nothing else to say about it.

    In the classic Metroid style you start off with no outstanding skills to your name. You gradually acquire more and more weapons to your arsenal and become quite the force within the game. Starting small with a pistol all the way up to some crazy particle accelerator thing. Of course this type of game wouldn't be complete without awsome exploring gear. You start with simple climbing gear that allows you to grip ledges and do wall jumps. From humble beginnings to awesome Jetpack-ness that lets you do the fan favorite double-, and even triple-jump. Not to mention that the armor looks pretty darn sweet. Oh and it takes some of the pain out of those bullets that enemies seem to insist on shooting you with.

    Alright well the big story with this game is the visuals. When it was first shown people were blown away at the thought of it being a downloadable game. I personally couldn't belive it. The development team has pushed the Unreal 3 Engine, and the genre of 2-D Side Scrollers beyond what was thought possible. So much so that the game at times feels more like 2.5-D because the game is drawn in 3-D allowing enemies to come up corridors and shoot at you. It may sound like a drawback since you cant shoot in 3 dimensions. That is where you would be wrong my friend. The game has an interesting way of dealing with this conundrum. Just press the right stick in the direction of your enemy and there you go. It does get frustrating, especially when you die, but for the most part it works.

    There is an issue with some glitching items and what not, things popping through eachother and whatnot. Also, the AI might as well be non exsistant at times. I swear I have run right into the back of an enemy and he doesn't even turn to shoot. Giving me more than ample time to do the awesome melee moves, (thats right melee in a side scroller) that never seem to get old. Those however are 2 very minor gripes that really don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. Well other than the fact that if you finish the game with 100% the final cutscene doesn't load. Patch anyone?

    Does anyone like boss battles? Well you will once you get your hands on this game. These huge, mech-like, metal gear esque, could be an AT-ST things that you have to fight are huge, not to mention the blow up reeeel good. Of course they also are good at killing you as you will find out for yourself when you play this game.

    The most subtle thing about this game though, is the music. Its not over-bearing, nor is it music you can easily cast aside. There is one moment in the game where the music shifts to a piano sonata while you swim through a now flooded cafeteria. Its things like that, not to mention overall stellar sound design that pulls a game like this togeather and makes it something that people remember playing and will want to play over, and over again.

    Ok well the kicker for this game is that if you are like me, you do a quick run through to see how fast you can finish the game. My first playthrough, and be aware that I just finished it about 30 minutes before writing this. It took 4:36.32 for me to finish the game. You should know that I only collected 55% of the game's stuff. I even left out a peice of the armor so I did a quick speed run. Not as speedy as I would have liked, but enough for a Gold ranking.

    There is also a neat little set of challenges for the game that has you do some crazy stuff to get to the finish line. Alot like the ones from Bionic Commando: Rearmed. So that adds some more game to it. Also there are leaderboards to help you make sure you actually are better than your friends.

    That being said you will not play this game once, or twice, or even three times. This is one of those games that you will keep playing despite the fact that it is an Arcade game. Its one that you won't be able to get enough of. I just wish it had come out sooner in the summer. But hey we've got untill October when the good games start to roll out.

    There is something in the Complex for everyone. Those side scroller vets, the ones who want to see what all the fuss is about, and anyone in general who likes to think of themself as a gamer. So seriously, pony up the $15, it is a small price to pay for awesomeness.

    Concept: Up the anty of 2-D shooters
    Gameplay: Fun, fast, awesome, some very minor glitches.
    Graphics: Umm... are you sure this is an XBLA game?
    Replay: You will play this game multiple times. It hurts just to stop playing to write this.
    Overall: 5 stars

    ~Ride Hard, Game On


    XBOX Update

    So, they started making a big deal about this new update a while ago and today it finally came out. Let me ask this, what was all the hype about?
    The big thing they wanted to push was the new "Games on Demand" and basically its a service that lets you download full 360 titles onto your hard drive. The concept is good but the execution, not so much. I'm not saying the titles that they have released are bad, but the prices are crazy and not to mention they aren't using Mystical Microsoft points for this, no they are using real word dollars. That I think was the first mistake that they made with this service. I will take the most insane example from the list of games.

    Call of Duty 2, a good game no doubt but the price is outrageous, there is no way that I am going to pay $29.99 + tax for a game that is over 3 years old when I can get my butt into my truck, go to GameStop and pay $12.99 -10%. I mean lets just take a minute and re-evaluate our strategy Microsoft. The list of games you have is good but I can't see anyone wanting to pay those prices. If anything you should have stayed with the Mystical Microsoft points. That way some people would still be confused as to the prices of the games.

    The next thing they wanted to get people excited about was the new Avatar store, for your little cartoon character thingy. Ok I'll admit, i had some MS points on my account and got a lightsaber and Jedi Armor. Don't judge me! I think that the avatar thing is take it or leave it. Another way to score some cash I guess.

    Ok the thing that made me the most sad about the update was now when you go to look at your achievements on the dashboard the first panel is an overview of your total progress. Well I have a lot of missing achievements and points from my profile, for shame... There is also a new thing that shows how long you have been a gold member on XboxLive and what I don't get is why they decided that all of a sudden because you didn't renew right away or let your membership lapse for a month that you are restarted on your membership. I've had XboxLive since it was on the original Xbox but apparently I've only had it for a year, but whatever.

    Biggest thing is for Netflix people who can now browse the OnDemand catalog direct from the console instead of having to go to their computer to do it. Very handy.

    So good job with the hype, and there wasn't any issue downloading the update like I have had in the past. I just have to ask it, at E3 we were all teased with Twitter, Facebook, and Last FM coming to the 360, where is it? Holding off until the inevitable update in November? Who knows, all I care about is when the games are coming out, I am ready for MW:2 and Splinter Cell.

    ~Ride Hard, Game On


    Summer of Arcade

    So we all the economy has gone to crap and that hurts when you are as addicted to games as I am. So aside from my summer staple that I HAVE to get, that game being the yearly installment of NCAA Football. Yes I know I haven't reviewed it and there is a reason for that. I won't go into it here but its kinda awkward. At any rate, back to the economy. So the basic point I was trying to make is with the economy falling faster and harder than a fat boy off a van That being said there is a way to get your gaming fix and that is with another edition of...


    So Xbox owners you know that the XboxLive Arcade is the main platform for digital releases that you can install on your hard drive. Every summer it seems that they make a big deal out of the games that they are releasing, and up until now I haven't realized not only is it good business sense to do so (because Microsoft takes a cut of profits) The best part is that there are actually some good games coming out! Yea I know, not some crappy rehash of Missile Commander either.

    This summer some really great games have come out, here are a few. With not only how many mystical Microsoft points they cost, but also in Real World Dollars.

    Marvel vs Capcom 2: 1200 MS Points = $15 Real World Dollars
    So yea, this one doesn't really need much explanation. One of the most storied 2D fighters of the decade. The games graphics have been bumped up to full 1080p so it looks fantastic and smooth. The great Tag Team mechanic is back in full force. Of course the best part... Online Multiplayer. There isn't really much here but a warm feeling of nostalgia. But that feeling is good. If you liked the game when it first came out, or are a die hard 2D fighter fan then this is for you. If not... well then it might not be your cup of tea.

    King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match: 800 MS points = $10 RWD
    Ok so everyone knows about Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. But during the heyday of 2D fighters back in the SNES/Genesis era, when coin-op arcades were still big everywhere there was a franchise that really solidified its place in the world of fighters for the hardcore, twitch players. That franchise was King of Fighters. '98 was by far the crowning Jewel of the series, the controls are so fluid, the game looks great and it is just darn fun to play. Much like Marvel vs Capcom however, not much here for new people looking to see what the deal is. Nostalgia reigns supreme, and even nostalgia might not be enough for some fans, because the game is still brutally hard.

    Magic: The Gathering, Duels of the Plainswalkers: 800 MS Points = $1o RWD
    So you may say "I'm not a Magic card game nerd so I don't want this game." Maybe so but I'm not a Magic card game nerd either (i'm personally waiting on the PokeMon card game to come onto Xbox live, but since that wont happen we move on) So I am a nOOb to Magic, but after playing the demo I was hooked and really wanted to play more. So I ponied up the $10 and haven't regretted it. The strategy is deep and gameplay is fast, and you don't have to spend hundreds on the cards.

    Battlefeild 1943: 1200 MS points = $15 RWD
    Meh, that's really all I have to say. Played it and wasn't impressed, some people will be but in all honesty if I want to get some 1st person action I will just pop in my CoD:4 disc, or better yet hold on to the $15 and save it for Modern Warfare 2 when it comes out in November. None the less the game has been popular despite only having 3 maps.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time; Re-Shelled: 800 MS Points = $10 RWD
    Yea the classic Arcade and SNES beat'em-up is back and better looking than ever. The graphics have been streamlined and updated and the music has been amped a bit. The best part though, it plays the same and will wrap you in nostalgia and never let you go. I've played through a few times and the on-line co-op is classic to say the least. Just like being in the arcade except you aren't trying to squeeze 4 people in at an arcade cabinet. That's always nice.

    So there you have it 5 new arcade titles that are sure to appeal to your good sense of money, and take the edge off of your desire to game until the holidays when good, non-movie, games come out. Before I leave I will put a short, SHORT, I cannot emphasize the shortness of this list. Of other Arcade titles that have come out, with their prices. Along with a Yes, No or Meh, detailing their goodness

    Splosion Man: $10 RWD: MEH
    Secret of Monkey Island $10 RWD: NO (Get it on PC like it is supposed to be played)
    Worms 2: Armageddon $10 RWD: YES

    Also be on the lookout for Shadow Complex, coming out later this month from EPIC games, its gonna be $15 but well worth it. As With all arcade titles, play the demo before you buy, its just good sense.

    This went much longer than I anticipated, and I didn't even talk about the Fallout 3 DLC! Well that's it for me.

    ~Ride Hard, Game On!