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What I played on the Xbox 360 in 2010 (Part 3)

by on Jan.12, 2011, under Xbox 360 Commentary

Here is the final installment of the Xbox 360 titles I played last year. Once again this article’s focus is aimed mainly at some particularly dated games that I thought I’d play before I got around to their sequels. Of course, I still haven’t touched Halo Reach, Just Cause 2 or Lost Planet 2 yet.

Let’s hope I complete these games before more successors are published!

Castle Crashers
A button mashing, side-scrolling fantasy beat-em up from the makers of Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers sticks to their standard off-beat cartoon graphics style and features bizarre monsters, challenging boss fights and plenty of maidens to rescue. The final boss fight was particularly impressive; just when you think the game is over, the battle re-commences with even more fury and mayhem! Great co-operative game-play gives players a perfect excuse to play either online or on the same console. I didn’t bother with the multi-player game (dueling a friend repeatedly seemed a rather pointless exercise) and neither of the mini-games generated any interest either. In fact the All You Can Quaff mini-game requires so much button mashing, its addition was obviously requested by Microsoft to allow them to sell off their surplus stock of game controllers. A worthwhile XBLA experience made all the more fun if you have a friend to play it with.

Just Cause
Within the game you take on the role of Rico Rodriguez, a CIA officer tasked with the overthrow of the dictator of San Esperito (a fictional Caribbean nation). Thrown into a massive open world environment, you’ll run, shoot, drive and fly in third person across the various regions of the country, taking on Drug Cartels, liberating villages from the oppressive government forces or invading military bases in search of updated equipment. The showcased feature within the game is the grapnel gun and parachute which allow Rico to skydive, hijack and para-sail from the wide variety of in-game vehicles. Although realism has obviously taken a back-seat to some James Bond style action, it cannot be denied that the game mechanics are a lot of fun. There are some rather irritating issues with the mission implementation however. All of the side-quests are boring/repetitive and most of the vehicle hijack missions are broken (in fact, it got to the stage that I refused to accept any of those missions and would wait for an alternative to be offered instead.) To date, no patch has been implemented to fix this (and the many other bugs within the game); and given that Just Cause 2 is already out, most players would be well advised to head straight to the sequel for any sky diving and para-sailing fixes that they need addressed.

Lost Planet
Another third person action game that has a grapnel, Lost Planet (2006) is another of those Japanese Mecha- inspired games that features a story focusing on environmental change, totally incomprehensible dialogue and child like voice-acting. Set on the icy world of EDN III, you’ll spend your days eternally looking for thermal energy (T-ENG), a vital commodity necessary to ensure that you can survive on this arctic world. Of course, you’re always reminded of the fact that this planet is cold by the consistent rendering of vapour particle effects every time a character talks in a cut-scene. Squatting in your way are the Akrid, an array of insecticidal aliens that quite conveniently contain T-ENG, thus giving you perfect justification for some serious Insect-icide! The grapnel implementation can be a bit touchy at times, with its limited range and the necessity of careful aiming. The mechs (called Vital Suits) have the ability to deploy into high speed vehicular form (a la Transformers) but I don’t believe I ever felt the need to use that mode due to weapon-fire limitations. I also never managed to successfully hijack a Vital Suit despite trying to follow the manual’s instructions to the letter.  The multiplayer mode didn’t get a look in either, mainly because no-one else is playing the game online any more. Four years after it was released, Lost Planet still offers a dozen or so hours of worthwhile gaming that you can now probably pick up for the price of a decent coffee.

Halo 3
Chances are that if you own a Xbox 360, you’ve probably heard of the Halo franchise. Halo 3 is the first game of the series released for the Xbox 360 (the first two were for the original Xbox) and offers a much improved set of visuals and some impressive online multiplayer gaming. The story is playable both as a single player and co-operative experience however it must be said that following the story in-game is particularly difficult given the muted dialogue volume that cannot be adjusted independently of the main volume control. Throw in some heavy action sequences and I rapidly started to lose the plot (both literally and figuratively). It doesn’t look as sexy as Gears of War 2 does (or Gears of War for that matter) but still offers plenty of bang for your gaming buck. If you are into multiplayer online gaming, the game probably rates an extra llama based purely on the PVP game-play I’ve witnessed but not participated in.

Well that’s 2010 wrapped up from an Xbox 360 perspective. Next article will be on the PC games played last year; a considerably longer (and more up-to-date) catalogue of titles.

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