Review: Back to the Future (PS3)

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Back in 1985, Universal Studios released what would turn out to be one of the most classic films of our time–Back to the Future. It spawned into a trilogy, where the audience was truly able to connect to the characters in the movie and become somewhat attached to them. The trilogy is known as one of the greatest of all time, right up with The Godfather, Star Wars, and the original Indiana Jones trilogy. From trips to the past, to the future, to the far past in the old west, the trilogy took moviegoers where they had not yet gone before. It then spawned an animated series, a theme park attraction (which currently only exists in Japan, but was prior open at Universal Studios parks in Orlando and Hollywood, and closed to create The Simpsons Ride), a card game, fan sites, and much more. The series just celebrated it’s 25th anniversary last November, which sparked new interest in the series for a new generation.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2010, Telltale Games, creators of the hit episodic game series Sam and Max, announced a partnership with Universal to create new episodic games based on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, with the former being the first to release. The game released it’s first episode in December 2010 on PC, with a console release in February. Every month, new episodes released, leading to the season finale late last month. Instead of trying to retell the tale from the trilogy, the game puts you in a new adventure that takes place several months after Marty returned to Hill Valley in 1985. Marty has not seen Doc since his return, and neither has Doc’s bank, leading them to auction off all of his belongings.

And then the DeLorean returns. Doc Brown is in trouble, and you end up on an epic time traveling adventure in order to save him and make things right with the timeline. In this episodic journey, you’ll travel to the Great Depression-era Hill Valley, to new versions of 1986, and straight back to the old west. You’ll meet new characters. You’ll catch up with characters from the movies. In reality, this game could be considered Back to the Future 4, which fans of the series have long been awaiting.

Story wise, this game lives up to the Back to the Future name and provides a good one. The game really focuses on Doc this time around, where previous versions had Marty in the spotlight. You learn a lot about Doc Brown’s past as he was growing up in his high school days. In the majority of the five episodes, you are tailing “young Emmett,” who has a fear of his family and begins to develop his passion for science. In the game, your goal is to alter Doc’s timeline, which you inadvertently altered in your first trip to the 1930s in episode 1. There are conflicts. There are challenges. But in the end, everything ends up okay…or so you think. There are also, however, several boring moments that just seem like fluff. With knowing what you’re supposed to do, however, you can easily avoid any of that.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. It’s got a very cartoony feeling to it, which feels similar to that of what you would find in a Sam and Max game. Environments contain those small little details from the films that make them stand out. It feels like a Back to the Future game. And that’s a good thing.

The sound in the game is extremely familiar, though a bit overused. It’s practically all of the sound effects and music from the films, extracted straight from the soundtrack. The voiceovers, however, are where the game shines–Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown. Michael J. Fox could not do the entire game, yet the guy they got to fill the role of Marty sounds just like him. A welcomed cameo from Mr. Fox appears in the final episode of the series, and is much welcomed. It’s definitely good to have Fox and Lloyd working together again, even if it was only for a brief appearance.

The game is extremely easy, which is good and bad at the same time. It’s a point and click adventure, something that Telltale Games specializes in. Can’t complain there, the game is supposed to be more about the story. The game’s puzzles are extremely easy, to the point where it takes extremely little thought to complete them. This is good and bad at the same time. Good, because again, the game is supposed to be about the story. Bad, because each episode is extremely short, and the easy puzzles only make it shorter. If there is going to be a Season 2 (and the finale sequence really makes me think there will be), then I would really like to see a slightly more challenging game. There is also trophy support in each of the five episodes, which may cause you to replay it if you can’t get 100% the first time around.

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Controlling the game is not hard either–though, there were some issues throughout the five episodes of the controls not adjusting properly when you would switch to a different area. It’s not too hard to figure out how to fix it when that happens, but it’s slightly annoying anyway. That’s my only gripe about it, everything else seems to be in check.

Overall, the game is good, but could be better. The storytelling aspect of it is absolutely perfect, and the finale answered almost all of the questions I had about the story, while leaving it completely open for a second season. The graphics are good, and so are the voice overs but the overuse of some of the same audio tracks and the lack of challenge brings it down a bit. If you’re really looking to get back into the Back to the Future franchise, play this game. You’ll really feel like you’re in the middle of Back to the Future 4. I give BTTF 4 out of 5 stars, and a Digital Lust Silver Award.

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Review: Beyond Good and Evil HD (PS3)

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Beyond Good and Evil was last generation’s most underrated game. The game, which came out in late 2003, had an amazing, futuristic plot of war and devastation. It featured some of the most unforgettable characters in the gaming world, and could have been an instant success. It did not, however, live up to expectations set forth by it’s developer, and therefore, not a lot of people played it. Fast forward to 2009, when Ubi Soft teased that it was making a sequel to the game. Not much has been heard about that sequel, yet it has not been officially cancelled yet.

Now, fast forward to today. Earlier this year, Ubi Soft released Beyond Good and Evil HD for the Xbox 360, and more recently, the Playstation 3. The release saw the addition of new, beautiful HD graphics, which are a total plus to those who played the original (I was lucky enough to have played the original, and it is one of my favorite games of last generation). Does the plot hold up to today’s cinematic standards for gaming? In one word–yes.

The game revolves around Jade, a photographer who becomes involved in a government conspiracy. Her planet, Hillys, is at war with the Dom’Z, a fearless group who will stop at nothing to take over the planet, which is a rich mining planet. With the help of her man-pig uncle Pey’j, as well as other characters that you’ll meet throughout the journey, and her trusty camera, you set off through various areas within Hillys, snapping pictures of the conspiracy unfolding, defeating bad guys, and driving bad ass vehicles. The concept of this game is great.

The game also allows you to participate in various side quests that are essential to your survival through the game. There are hovercraft races, games, and photo sessions, for example. There are several collectibles to obtain throughout the journey as well. The new version also adds trophy/achievement support too, giving you even more to do in the game. You’ll be busy with this one for a while.

Controlling the game is pretty straight forward–since the Xbox and Playstation 2 controllers are not much different than their current generational counterparts, it allowed for smooth transition of the control schemes from those previous versions. The only issue that I have, and it’s kinda a big one, is the game’s camera. It was a problem with the original release, and not much was done to fix it here. The camera will occasionally get stuck, forcing you to go the wrong way or do something you’re not intending on doing. It also makes the visuals get a little wonky. I would have loved to see better support here. You use the Square button to attack your enemies, which is incredibly easy. You’ll also earn different moves, such as a disk that you can shoot at your foes, as the game progresses.

Graphically, the game looks just as much beautiful now as it did back in 2003. On the last generation consoles, this one really stood out. It doesn’t necessarily stand out by today’s standards, but the addition of HD graphics make it look great. The game has a very cartoony feel to it in some places, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but, it might cause confusion if the sequel is made (the trailer showed very realistic environments). Character models look fantastic here for a game that is almost a decade old, too.

Difficulty wise, this game is actually pretty easy to complete. If you’re the type that just likes to go straight through without really worrying about the collectibles that you can obtain, the game itself is not that difficult. If you are aiming to get all of the trophies in the game, you’ll have to collect all 88 pearls, all of the M-Disks, and take pictures of every single animal in the game. It doesn’t seem all that hard, but it could be time consuming. Please don’t get me wrong, there is some challenge to the game, specifically when hiding from enemies, but overall, the game is not that difficult.

Overall, I was very impressed with the game back in 2003, and with this re-release, I have even more reason to be impressed. At a price point of $9.99, it’s very hard to turn down, whether you are a fan of the game or someone who has never heard of it. Despite the problems with the camera, it’s a fun game with plenty to do, and if it sells well enough, we might just see that sequel. I give Beyond Good and Evil HD a 4 out of 5 stars, and with that, a Digital Lust Silver Award.

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 7, 2011

Slow news day today! No breaking news or anything like that. Heres just a couple of quick stories that we saw today:

Wii U Will Launch After April 1, 2012
Nintendo spokesman Reggie Fils-Aime said today that the Wii U will not launch any earlier than April 1, 2012. He did not specify any other details about the new console, which features new HD graphics and a touch screen controller. He did mention, however, that the console will sell alongside the DSi, the Wii, and the 3DS.

Google Docs Gets Refresh, New YouTube in Testing
Ever since the launch of Google+ last week, Google has been working to give it’s different services a new, uniform look that matches the new social network. Gmail got the refresh a few days ago, and now, Google Docs has gotten the treatment, making it easier and cleaner than ever. It’s also been reported that a new interface for YouTube is currently in testing. More details as they become available!

Google+ Giveaway Sees Biggest Day Ever!
Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s Google+ Giveaway. Anyone who posted a comment today received a shared story, which will get you an invite. The giveaway will continue tomorrow, but as I will be away from my computer all day tomorrow, I will not send those until late tomorrow night. Again, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog(make sure that your Gmail account is in your profile before submitting!), and I will send you one!

Honestly, thats it for today. I will be taking tomorrow off for the (hopeful) launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, maybe returning tomorrow night for a couple of quick things. Enjoy your Friday!

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 6, 2011

Interesting news day today–not too many stories to share tonight, but definitely a couple of big ones in the social media world. Lets get right to it:

Facebook Announces Chat Revamp
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that beginning today, a new partnership between the social powerhouse and Skype has formed, giving Facebook an all new video chatting service in-browser. Zuckerberg also announced a new group chatting feature, as well as an easier to use chat interface. The changes went into effect today.

Google+ Goes Live For All With a Gmail Account
As long as you are the proud owner of a Gmail account, Google+ is now open for you. Various media are reporting tonight that the site has opened it’s hypothetical doors to everyone. Of course, we’ve been covering the launch of Google+ all week, and even kicked off a new Google+ Giveaway. With this new level of operation of the new social network, however, the contest has become irrelevant, and has been discontinued. Be sure to check out Digital Lust tomorrow for a rundown of the Google+ Android app.

And Speaking of Google+, No Privacy for You!
Google announced today that at the end of this month, any private Google+ pages will be deleted. The purpose of Google+ is to provide users complete access. You should still be able to hide some aspects of your profile, however, and any content that you do not want shown to the public can just be shared with specific people.

Angry Birds Movie in Development for 2014
David Meisel, the former head of Marvel Studios before the company was bought out by The Disney Corporation, will begin developing a new project based on the epic mobile game of the same name. This is pretty significant for the mobile world–this is the first time that a movie will be developed based on a mobile game. Should the project get the green light and proceed with development, it will release in 2014. Hopefully the Angry Birds franchise will have enough lasting power to make it still relevant in 3 years. Perhaps a Alfred Hitchcock style “Birds” plot will be appropriate for this movie?

Sony Announces PSN Pass
Sony has announced that starting this fall, in order to gain online access to new games, a PSN Pass will be required to be input before playing. This appears to be a new security feature that the company is putting into place following the recent hackings that kept the Playstation Network offline for a month. It was mentioned that if you buy the game preowned, you would have to purchase a Pass on the Playstation Store in order to gain access.

iPhone 5 to Launch in Q3, On Sprint too??
Sources indicate that the next iteration of the iPhone, reportedly titled the iPhone 5, will release sometime in Q3 (which is this quarter, by the way). Other rumors indicate that the phone will also launch on Sprint on the same time as Verizon and AT&T. This could get interesting, seeing as how Sprint is now the only major carrier left with an unlimited data plan. Will the AT&T faithful flock away from the network and head towards Sprint for the cheaper plans and unlimited data? Only time will tell…

And that about wraps it up for tonight’s edition of Digital Lust Daily Feed. Tomorrow on Digital Lust, I’ll be going in depth with the Google+ Android App in an all new App Attack. I’ll also be talking about the increasing popularity of net casting, specifically with Twit.TV. We’ll see you tomorrow!

Quick Impressions: Dead Space (iPad)

As I reported last night, EA Games started their biggest sale ever of their iPad library, with games such as Monopoly, Need for Speed, and Dead Space being cut down 90% in their cost on the App Store. The latter of those games, Dead Space, is quite possibly the best bargain of them all, and here’s why:

The whole gaming craze is nothing new for mobile devices. Developers are beginning to focus a lot of their effort on their mobile games, giving them more polish and better visuals than ever before. With the iPad, it’s possible for developers to take a console game and recreate the experience in a way that even rivals the console counterparts.

Dead Space released for the iPad in January of this year, and with the price seeing a major decline, it may be incredibly enticing to purchase it. The game features visuals that rival any other experience on the iPad, and a control scheme that may not be revolutionary…but it works.

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Controlling the game is simple–you move your character on the left side of the screen and control the camera on the right side of the screen. Your weapons will vary, with options such as swiping, tilting the screen, or firing by clicking the middle of the screen. Again, nothing too revolutionary here, but it works. The entire experience feels very fluid, and I did not find any problems controlling it in my 15 minutes of playing so far.

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Sound wise, the game sounds fantastic. Sound effects are incredibly loud, and the music is dramatic and fits in perfectly with your surroundings. It really helps add to that horror game sense of reality that I am catching from the game.

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This is a very dark game in some places. Players may wish to turn their brightness up quite a bit to be able to see. This seems to be the one area that I am not too impressed with, as higher brightness settings lead to battery life becoming shorter. Definitely play this one indoors, kids. Aside from this, however, the game is absolutely beautiful–the best that I have played on the iPad so far. It is incredibly detailed and really adds to the value and truth that publishers are putting a lot of effort into these mobile games.

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I will likely be giving a full review of the game in the near future, but, in case you were wondering if you should get it while it’s on sale–the answer is yes. At $0.99 currently in the App Store, Dead Space is truly worth the download.