Oct 31, 2009
Ask any geek on the face of the Earth and they will be able to tell you the best and brightest way to kill a zombie no questions asked, by removing the head or destroying the brain. Really, it is just that simple and nothing to bat an eyelash about. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if you actually had to dismember the enemy that was trying to turn you into at the very least mince meat and at the very worst one of them? That was what you faced in Dead Space and they still stand up as far as I’m concerned against the Horde of Infected in Left 4 Dead easily because as scary as Left 4 Dead was, the idea of being pulled into a vent by a Necromorph and having the sense of mind to eviscerate them was somehow easily forgotten when they were trying to get their claws into you. On top of the sheer amount of fear they instilled in the player, the game designers based many of the creatures off accident victims and people who suffered amputations at the hand of infections as they tried to tap into the most primal of instincts in order to instill a sense of terror in the player. I love this game for the very reason I hate it, those things scare the hell out of me.
9. General RAAM – Gears of War
Yeah, the Queen is alright and Skorge seemed to wuss out on us later in Gears of War 2, but General RAAM was out to completely mess the Gears up in a way that you wouldn’t believe. The man had a swarm of Krill surrounding him for the love of God. Creatures that lived in darkness and would annihilate anything that got in their way to shreds and they were too scared to mess with General RAAM, they hung out with him. From the first time that we seem the good General, he kills the then leader of Delta Squad, Lieutenant Kim with a giant knife through the body. For all intents and purposes, RAAM can carry a troika machine gun, a crew-served weapon, unassisted and operate it totally on his own which he will use to make you wish you were dead a hundred different ways before he gets his hands on you. No, RAAM didn’t need to be like Skorge with some fancy blades, he was a Locust who wanted to destroy humanity so badly, that he rose above the rest of the Horde to become a General. Call him what you will, but I think badass was definitely somewhere on his resume right along with human exterminator.
8. Imran Zakhaev – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Hans Gruber was a good villain, but he only had to mess with John McClane. Zakhaev had to survive operatives like then Lieutenant Price, who if you remember correctly shot his arm off with a giant damn sniper rifle, and then came back for more. It takes a hardcore sort to lead a nationalistic movement let alone have a son who would rather kill himself than fall into the hands of the enemy, so it’s not like he’s gunning for father of the year. But not only is the man responsible for a nuclear weapon going off in the Middle East, he tried to devastate the Eastern Seaboard of the United States with two other nuclear devices. I’m pretty sure that Zakhaev would probably shoot Hans Gruber in the face if given the few seconds needed to pull the trigger.
7. Alma Wade – F.E.A.R
I’m aware she’s a little girl, but she’s a little girl that can get inside of your head and make it worse than any other place you’ve ever been. Surreal in its design, F.E.A.R always drew me in because of the story as opposed to the slick gameplay. But what was the driving point was Alma, from the first few minutes of the game she is doing anything and everything to get inside your head. Granted, everything that Armacham did to her throughout the course of her life kinda meant that everyone connected to Project Origin had it coming, but excuse me if I don’t want to have my flesh psychically melted from my skin. Simply said, if there was one character I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark anywhere, it’s Alma freakin’ Wade.
6. Colonel Autumn – Fallout 3
So, after playing through the majority of Fallout 3, you discover than John Henry Eden is the President of the United States, however he isn’t so much a man as he is a computer. That’s ultimately okay because a computer can be outsmarted (if your speech is high enough, anyway), but a human with severe entitlement and superiority issues, that’s a problem. Colonel Autumn gives military leaders who believe they know what’s best a bad name. Personally, as far as people who believe they know what’s best for the United States following an atomic holocaust go, I think the only person who might be worse, if not scarier is Glenn Beck. But Colonel Autumn will kill just about any single person who gets in the way of trying to restore the United States he loves and believes in, including your father. Even after you make it to the Enclave and head to meet the President, the good Colonel tries to have you wasted on the way there. Call me crazy, but when finally confronting him, regardless of having high enough speech, I still had the urge to go all Inigo Montoya on him. He killed my father, prepare to die.
5. Sovereign – Mass Effect
I’m not sure how kindly other species of the galaxy might take someone trying to wipe out every sentient being in the known universe, humanity though as far as I was concerned didn’t seem too keen on the idea. But that is exactly what Sovereign was setting out to do. Sure, the Geth were on board because they worshipped him as though he was a God, but in the end they’d probably get wiped out too. On top of that, all throughout Mass Effect you hear about the lack of symmetry on Sovereign and how it weakens the resolve and constitution of those who are on board too long. Well if you were inside a ship that was more powerful than you could possibly comprehend and older than time itself, then I would take a guess that it could amply mess you up without too much trouble. Swaying both a veteran Specter and a Matriarch under its power, it is clear to see why Sovereign was left behind by the Reapers. Unfortunately for him though, it seems that he couldn’t survive the combination of a human-led coalition fleet intent on kicking ass and taking a single name. Whoever said peace couldn’t be secured by superior firepower?
4. Prophet of Truth – Halo 3
As a Prophet, you already have a significant amount of pressure to be something incredible. However, based on that whole caste thing in the Covenant, you really don’t have to worry since you’re guaranteed a position of power. But what if you accidentally stumbled upon a little piece of information that revealed the species you were currently committing galactic genocide against were the true descendants of the people you revere as Gods instead of you? Cover it up of course and pursue every last human to the edge of the universe hoping that know one ever discovers what you know. The problem is though, these humans are kind of resourceful and aren’t really all that willing to lie down and just die. Then you had to go and piss off the Elites, who are a warrior race that could give the Klingons a run for their money. Oh, and bravo on all those times the Flood were released, really way to go. In the end, I suppose it was an appropriate end that Truth fell to the Arbiter, a poetically twisted end.
3. Atlas – Bioshock
“Would you kindly go ahead and grab that radio?” starts Atlas as you begin your trek into the dark underbelly of the one scientific Mecca that was Rapture. It was a place of such high ideals that ran wild and eventually consumed and destroyed itself. In the meantime, you have Atlas leading you around by the collar, his soothing voice keeping you going from point A to B and on to point C. His narrative voice spur you forward in the face of Splicers, Big Daddies and Little Sisters, oh my. Then you fight out he is actually Frank Fontaine, villain extraordinaire and he has been leading you around by a code-phrase the entire game. Every single time you heard “Would you kindly?” guess what, you kindly did. Isn’t psychology fun? After realizing that you’ve essentially been a means to an end for Atlas/Fontaine, the only real option is to put him back in his place, and by that, I mean kill him with grim efficiency. At this point, he’s got it coming. So, while you can either be good or evil throughout the story, regardless of morality, there is something immeasurably fun about slapping down a villain like Fontaine.
2. Wallace Wellesley – Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
I bet you’re wondering why Wallace Wellesley is pretty close to the top of my list. Well, it isn’t because he has created a game that’s sole purpose is to kill the illustrious Matt Hazard, nor is it because he is just a jerk extraordinaire. It isn’t because he sets out to do whatever he can to kill you throughout the course of the game by any means necessary even going so far as killing the person helping you along the way. Yeah, he’s kind of a dick, but what sets him apart is the undeniable fact that he is voice by Neil Patrick Harris. Having that voice egging you on is just something that sets the villain apart by leagues and bounds from other games that have been released on the sole fact that every person who grew up in the 1980s remembers him. It’s a shot at nostalgia and while I normally wouldn’t be such a fan of pandering on the part of the game creators, I can’t stop smiling when I envision NPH as a villain; it just works on so many levels. So, while he is a truly evil villain, I confess that his voice bumped him just a bit higher on the list than due process deserved. But in all fairness, when you look at all the bad things that Wellesley does in the game there is one simple undeniable fact: NPH wouldn’t do that.
1. Everyone Else – Civilization Revolution
I’m going to clear the air very quickly on this one; I love Civ Revolution because it reminds me of the time I lose as a kid playing the original Civilization. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours of sleep I lost and how many times I thought I might get a failing grade in a class because I had to play just one more round before calling it a night and next thing you know, it was time to shower and go to class. But for all the gameplay that was available, I will never be able to tell you how much I hated every other character be they AI or Human controlled. Not because they were there, but because alliances could fall apart at the drop of a hat and the first notice you usually got was when an army had stampeded through your border claiming to be on the way to fight a mutual enemy. Mutual enemy my butt, you stay away from my capital lest you feel the power of my nuclear bomb! For all the insane amount of fun I have had while playing Civ or any Sid Meier game for that matter, I have irrepressibly been unable to maintain the alliances any normal player should be able to out of the suspiciousness that keeps many real world leaders awake at night with paranoia. Call it whatever you want, but I just don’t like the idea of there being any fighting in my war room.
Oct 13, 2009
I’m not going to mince words, by the time you hit the number one in this list, odds are you will have hit at least one or more spoilers to some of the greatest games available on the Xbox 360. Now, while these may not be the best possible games for the system, these are all however exceptional experiences in and of themselves in the sense that were I able to purchase just the level, I would. But I will also ask you to bear in mind and consider how they fit into the overall experience that is offered as well. So, observe how it stands out not only as a level, but also how it fits into the larger picture as a whole.
10. Mass Effect – Assaulting Sovereign
You’ve gone through the real brunt of the main quest and if you were lucky had a minute sex scene thrown in there as well, but when Sovereign the evil Reaper from beyond the intergalactic ring comes knocking on the Citadel’s front door, the fleet stationed there wasn’t really prepared to answer. Evacuating the Citadel as Shepard and his squad land on the damaged station, it is sort of a rude awakening for the player. The location that always seemed the cleanest, most-streamlined and safest in the game has suddenly begun falling apart and never really looks like it’ll hold together for more than a few minutes. When trying to get to Saren via elevator, it stalls and your team is forced to make your assault on the outside of the station. Moving along a somewhat linear path, you fight your way through Geth and mercenary Krogans while wreckage and explosions shutter the station. However, the two standout moments during this experience are incredible to not just play, but sit back and behold. Coming across an incoming Geth ship, you have to run to multiple Citadel defense turrets, and if your skill is high enough, you can activate all of them in your effort to destroy the ship all while Geth shock troopers are attempting to counter-assault you and your squad. Upon destroying the ship, you move forward further to discover a series of Geth heavy turrets. Having fought them in the Mako, it was a moment of reckoning fighting them on foot as at least one death sent me back to the start of the section since I had forgotten to save. However, I ultimately realized I could easily avoid the entire section of turrets and move around them. Thus, Mass Effect succeeded in a roundabout way of making me feel like a complete idiot for at least a few seconds. After making it through the section, you have yet another dialogue with Saren. However, as memorable as the ending of the game was, fighting my way across the exterior hull of the Citadel will always compel me to play Mass Effect at least one more time.
9. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – Fighting Green Eye
I was one of the few people who loved Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Not for the multiplayer, but because the single-player reminded me of older, classic titles like Contra or Kid Icarus. The game pitted the player against, what seemed at times, to be insurmountable odds so that when you came out on top, it felt all the greater. No moment is better to sum this up than the boss battle against Green Eye. The Akrid creature essentially responsible for killing your father, it is rather apropos that you face off against the creature once more. Equipped in a Vital Suit, which for the uninitiated is essentially a set of power armor with utilitarian compunction, Green Eye seems to come out of nowhere while you’re inside an impressively large building. Echoing back to the introductory level in which Green Eye makes his first appearance, the player however has come along way at this point, having trekked across endless mounds of snows, crossed through numerous destroyed building and slaughtered entire nests worth of Akrid throughout the course of the game. Primarily, what makes it so fun is that it pits you in the VS against this monstrously large creature and if that doesn’t take you back to the 8-bit days of video game difficulty, I don’t know what will. While able to be handily beaten on Normal, the real challenge bleeds through on Hard and I have a feeling that at least one controller may become damaged as a result of this level. As the release of the sequel pushes ever forward, I can’t help but recommend picking the game up on the cheap if you can and maybe you’ll see the fun in it where a good deal of people didn’t.
8. Crackdown – Climbing the Agency Tower
Crackdown was a really fun game and not just because it came with the Halo 3 multiplayer beta, but because it actually had something unique to offer. Sure, we had all played Grand Theft Auto or were at least aware of it as a game and franchise, but Crackdown set itself apart by its unique art style and letting you play as a good guy. Sincerely though, the best achievement and some of the most fun I had with a 360 controller in my hand was hunting for agility orb after agility orb on my quest to scale the Agency Tower. Once I had 5-star agility, the climb was easy in a way, but more than anything it was enjoyably memorable and in hindsight, felt like climbing a tower should feel in a game. If you’ve never picked up Crackdown, all I’m going to say is that you’re missing out.
7. Grand Theft Auto IV – Introduction
I personally love how this game opens because the game wasn’t poised to strike me as yet another dramatic crime opera of Mafioso proportions; it struck me as a game that conveyed the message about achieving the American Dream by any means available to you. Sure, the game was immeasurably popular due to the sheer weight that has been put behind the franchise in the past, but this was the next-gen Grand Theft Auto and Rockstar was determined to show us a thing or two that we may have never seen before. So they set it perfect by illustrating that the character we will be playing as is in fact fresh off the boat in the United States and we’re going to be learning something about how Liberty City works.
6. Left 4 Dead – Any Part
Really, how many times did this game many people jump or scream like a little girl as they sprayed as much ammo in the direction of the infected? I’ll tell you this from personal experience, a lot. I can’t even begin to recall how many times this game left me feeling put off to the bumps in the night. Show me a part of the game that isn’t memorable and it’s probably because the difficulty is too low or its seconds before a new horde of infected descends on you in fury.
5. Fallout 3 – Tranquility Lane
Yes, the entire game is one long, epic journey through the Capital Wasteland and never once really lets up being a damn good time, but along the main quest being trapped in Tranquility Lane stood out as particularly disturbing to me. It was like Leave it to Beaver meets the Twilight Zone complete with your father being a virtual dog, a house that no one is meant to go into, a little girl with a deep manly voice and a Red China invasion which when combined with the tasks to murder people all rolls together to make one outstanding experience. It’s a crucial moment of choice and strikes me as a 1950’s version of the Matrix, but in the end, your choice leads to what happens next. I was a big fan of being good, hence the fail safe was activated.
4. Bioshock – Becoming a Big Daddy
You spent the entire game either avoiding them out of fear or going toe to toe with these leviathans of Rapture. They are as much iconic as they are badass and in the world of Bioshock, they rule the ocean floor and protect little sisters with grim prejudice. So, it was all the more shocking when you finally begin the processes to become one. Not because the end result would ultimately prove to be extremely awesome, but through the process of becoming a Big Daddy, you expressly learn what people had to undergo to do so. Proving to be a harsh form of indoctrination, it turns you into the walking tank that patrols the hallways and corridors acting as guardians to the little girls who would otherwise be defenseless.
3. Halo 3 – Tsavo Highway
ODST made me remember one grinding flaw and that it was the Halo, Halo 2 or Halo 3 that I had come to know and love, but Halo 3 is definitely worth receiving some love on this list as far as I’m concerned. Following crashing out of the sky and fighting through the forest and a Marine base, the Master Chief finds himself on Tsavo Highway. I found this to be extremely fun, not just for the levels ability to show off a massive landscape that looks graphically beautiful, but because this is one of the best co-op experiences that any gamers can share. I don’t know what rock you might have been living under, but if you haven’t had a chance to check this out, round up three other friends and have a go at Halo 3.
2. Call of Duty 4 - All Ghillied Up
Call of Duty 4 is a great first person shooter. It has everything a summer blockbuster film as well as gamer could ever possibly want in there. Fast, hard action that drives the point home and cinematic moments that leave you staring at the screen for a minute longer than you should because you’re still realizing that what you just saw was so awesome your brain may still be shaking off the momentary shock and awe you just experienced. So in my opinion, the level that takes the cake for COD4 has to be All Ghillied Up. That’s right, the level where you step into the youthful shoes of one certifiably awesome operator Lieutenant Price and sneak from shadow to shadow killing who you need to in order to move onward towards the objective. Two moments distinctly stick out in my mind consistently. The first is the moment in which an entire column of troops and tanks are advancing on you and you must hit the dirt while still crawling forward hoping to avoid detection. I can’t think of any other moment that gripped my heart so tightly in any video game in recent memory. The second and significantly more impressive moment is towards the end of the level prior towards making your escape. I won’t spoil that one; however, I will say it involves a target, shooting down a helicopter and a very high caliber sniper rifle. I can’t even fathom someone having not played COD 4, but on the off chance, check it out or even just this level and that’ll be enough to get you excited for Modern Warfare 2.
1. Gears of War 2 – Riding the Brumak
We all know how to play Gears of War, its run to cover, shoot, and for the most part repeat with a few cinematic moments in between to break up the formula. The final act in which you get to hijack a Brumak and take the fight into the Hollow against the Locust Horde is not only fun to play but ingenious in its execution. A game has the ability to lay down a significant amount of rules for the player to follow, which will eventually become second nature. In GoW 2, when you’re in open ground, you know quickly to peel off and get into cover as soon as the rounds start coming in so that you can return fire down range as fast as possible. There are a few rare instances where combat becomes close, hectic and a chainsaw on the end of a rifle gets utilized. But for the most part, this is the standard fair and the gameplay you can expect. When you mount the Brumak and start leveling an entire horde of Locust with machine gun and missile fire, you go from feeling like badass COG soldier Marcus Fenix to, for lack of any better terms, a God of the battlefield. Nothing can stand in your way and cover becomes irrelevant as you either trample over it or just outright annihilate it on your quest to clear the way into the hollow. I’m sure there are certain games that may have more memorable moments, but this is the level I could happily go back and play again and again until the day my 360 red ringed on me.
Bonus Round: Portal - Meeting Glados
Anyone who ever had the opportunity to pick up the Orange Box knows that if there is one thing Valve loves developing for besides the PC, it’s the Xbox 360. The Orange Box, which contains Half Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2, is a good deal. I’m not even going to spin it, because without a doubt it is one of the best games I believe I have in my collection. Originally picking it up just for Portal, I wasn’t disappointed despite how short the experience was because at the end of it, I was satisfied and pleased with the experience I had been given. To this day, Portal still stands out as an incredibly enjoyable title, but if there is one moment besides hearing about how the cake is not a lie that is fun, it had to be finally meeting Glados in the proverbial flesh. Not only is it unsettling in some ways, but ultimately, it turns out to be a great ending because for everything you’ve learned throughout the game, you still don’t know everything and killing that incarnation of Glados surely doesn’t get you any closer.
Oct 9, 2009
Playstation Home has had an incredibly rocky start and while Sony has progressed leaps and bounds over the first beta, there are subsistent problems that continue to plague the online space to this day. First and foremost, it is still arguable that Sony isn’t exactly sure what it wants Home to be. It was first touted as a space for online social interactivity and on some level this has been released. However, asking many gamers if they ever genuinely use the service, despite it being free, and many will say that they rarely use it, if ever. Additionally, Sony has touted the marketability of Home in the sense that it can generate financial revenue via micro-transactions in the form of clothing for a player’s avatar as well as furniture for said avatar’s virtual house. But there have proven to be multiple issues with this in the eyes of gamers. But ultimately, what it boils down to is the capacity of usage and why. If something is fun, more often that not, it will sift to the top of the pile and be noticed and regardless of the hidden jewels in the haystack, it is therefore arguable that Home still hasn’t proved the overall viability necessary to suck gamers into the virtual world.
Admittedly, when Home was first put on displayed it struck me as a very cheap knockoff of Second Life. While it doesn’t have the overall usability or communication that Second Life possesses, Home really hasn’t shown any ability to capitalize on what made Home so famous. While casual gaming has come into its own over the past several years on the PC and has thereby expanded to the major home consoles, it is that which seems to set Home so far apart. A digital game space of sorts where avatars can interact with each other isn’t a new concept. World of Warcraft and Second Life are the two largest worlds that have both illustrated the epitome of online social interactivity. On the other hand, Home allows for the most simplistic of social interactivity. Yes, it is a doorway of sorts to online play as games can be accessed from the space, but it ultimately ends up feeling like a longwinded environmental menu. The problem breaks down to Sony’s inability to decide what exactly they want Home to be. It was initially said to be an MMO-like space that would enable users to do just about anything, with anyone who owned a PS3 at any given time. It would streamline the PS3 experience and no user would ever want to leave. When it was finally released in beta to an anxious public, it was vastly underwhelming, leaving many curious as to whether or not this is what the final build would appear to be. The final build proved even more disappointing in the minds of many gamers because it wasn’t an MMO, it wasn’t streamlined; it really wasn’t anything worth visiting when there were actual games to play on the system.
Home truly was a victim of its own ambition as it tried to shoot for the stars; it seemingly became more ominously steeped in its own overblown potential. Sony had very big plans for their premier online hub for social interaction. People were going to pay to buy new clothes for their avatar, fill their homes with furniture to compliment their trophies and get people to interact there. But on my last visit to Home, it seemed like a very dismal, if not soulless placed that lacked a significant amount of real personality or imagination. I’m very much aware that Sony has done their best to keep their online free, however, if Home is the result, then what has the company then really gained as far as standing out in the online market? Moreover, speaking as a gamer, I’ve never been interested in purchasing clothes for a digital equivalent of me. Never have, never will, no matter what system I’m playing on regardless of how cool or awesome it might be. Also, buying furniture for a digital house doesn’t strike me as all that fun. Sure, it’s fun in The Sims, but that’s because you’ve already paid the premium required to purchase the package that offers you the ability to put that SimCouch in that SimHouse for that Sim. My avatar does not need me to buy them a pretty piece of furniture to plant their soft, digital bottom on and if they don’t like it, they can rob the digital Home bank for money to purchase the furniture.
Besides, I’m not going to hang out on my console in a digital space when I could be playing a game with the same people who might be hanging out with me. Warhawk and Socom are both exceptional online titles, not to mention Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Resistance 1 and 2 as well as Killzone 2. Why would I want to hang out in a digital space that looks like the areas I’ll find in these games when I can actually be playing them single or multiplayer and enjoying the real thing as opposed to some sort of digital doppelganger? I’m not saying that the few people I have truly been able to interact with via Home have lacked personality, because if the John Gabriel Internet Dickwad Theory has taught us anything, it’s that online interaction will never be boring as long as anonymity exists. What I am saying however is that I shouldn’t have to rely on the statistical possibility that the people I’ll meet online will be complete idiots when it comes to Home. The game space needs to be as fun and interesting as the people or no one will want to spend their time there. The Playstation 3 is a hardcore piece of gaming hardware, it isn’t a casual toy. It is meant to play fun games for people who actually consider gaming to require a minute sort of skill set, not people who want to flair their arms around like idiots or scream and sing into the microphone at the first available chance that they have a captive audience.
Sony, I will grant that Home has come a very, very long way since it was first introduced to the gaming public. But, it still strikes me as a disappointment that people don’t feel is worth the effort. I’m not calling you out because I have no faith Sony, I’m calling you out because you should either decide that Home is worth your time and put some genuine effort into it, such as maybe charging and offering expanded content for those who subscribe or you should let it die and do what you did in the previous two console generations and focus on giving the gaming faithful some of the greatest games we can still imagine to this day. But please don’t jump back and forth on the topic, it’ll only lead to the ultimate stagnation of the product and will end up collecting proverbial dust on the Playstation Network until the Playstation 4 is announced side-by-side to the new and improved Home. But give me and all of the Playstation 3 owners out there some incentive to use the product, sell us on the fact that it can make our experience all the more fulfilling and leave us with the idea that maybe our time wasn’t wasted by wondering around and checking a few things out. After all, this isn’t the network adapter we had with the PS2, now many of us have broadband and virtually limitless digital possibilities. But, I guarantee that if you can prove the space is a lot more fun than what I saw in my last several visits, I’ll be the first to put leave my game disc in the slot and check out Home again for hours on end, just to explore and see what I’ll find. But if it isn’t fun, no one is going to use it and after all the time Sony has invested in it, it’d be a shame to see all that effort go to waste.
Oct 5, 2009
Rockstar Games brings us their latest rhythmic offering on the Playstation Portable in the form of Beaterator. While it isn’t what I would call a game so much as a music creation tool, it is remarkably simple yet still powerful for people who have the patience to create various tracks. The three modes are Live Play, Studio and Song Crafter, all of which offer something unique and fun for the musically-inclined. Over the years, Rockstar has developed an expectation in the industry for offering superb musical scores with titles such as Grand Theft Auto and Bully. In conjunction with sounds created by Timbaland, the game offers a significant amount of content for those who have the interest to continue using Beaterator long after others will have set it aside.
As previously stated, this is not a typical game by any stretch of the imagination, so if you’re looking for another handheld equivalent of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you’re going to be significantly disappointed. The easiest comparison that can be drawn between Beaterator is eJay Clubworld on the Playstation 2 or Korg DS-10 Music Synthesizer on the Nintendo DS. This isn’t something that is meant to be played so much as played around with to develop a skill set according to what is offered as well as create music that you want to hear or think others would want to hear. While the title is accessible to just about anyone who would pick it up, the amount of time spent with Beaterator will definitely vary from person to person. That being said, there is a lot of deep content and activity available via the various modes and those shouldn’t be glossed over.
Live Play is essentially a quick start mode for people who want to jump in immediately and get an initial taste of what the rest of the title stands to show off. Upon loading up this mode from the main screen, you are given a screen with various music elements such as bass, lead, etc. Using the d-pad to hover over them and pressing the square, triangle, circle or square button will each give you a different loop that plays continuously until stopped allowing you to sample how various sounds mesh together. This gives way to vast options that will allow for an almost infinite amount of musical permutations. However, to the uninitiated these loops will sound very simplistic, repetitive and lacking any real substance, which is where the major separation will be drawn between those who check out the rest of the types of music creation as opposed to those who stop playing. Conversely, those players who enter Live Play expecting it to be the introduction to the rest of title won’t be disappointed. Players are able to change loop types to such genres as pop, hip hop and house, just to name a few. Anyone who allows the game to suck them in, and enjoys watching Timbaland dance in Live Play mode, would see potential in this title, and would explore the rest of what Beaterator has to put forward.
Studio mode is the relative half-way point between Live Play and Song Crafter in which you are given a more technical view than Live Play has to offer, but are not granted all of the elements contained in Song Crafter to do anything truly creative. While at times it felt very cookie cutter and a bit like a musical paint by numbers, it was impressive to see the underlying potential that Studio possessed. Taking it a step further than just adding, removing or overwriting loops in the song you wish to craft, you have the opportunity to actually add vocals into the track by using the Playstation Portables built-in microphone or by utilizing an attachable microphone. While song elements such as master volume and beats per minute can be modified for superior beaterating, Song Crafter is where the tool becomes most accessible, but also where it poses the greatest risk for losing inexperienced users.
Speaking as someone who has large hands, it isn’t exactly a stretch of the imagination when complaining about the size of a controller or handheld in regards to the playability of a game. To quickly illustrate, the original Xbox Controller fit perfectly in my hands. While all the controls in Beaterator are slow and deliberate, it makes me wonder if releasing this for a portable system was the best move. All of the previous music creation softwares I have ever used were either on the PC, which offered an extreme amount of flexibility or at the very least in the console world, the Playstation 2. During my time with Beaterator, I needed to remind myself that Rockstar was not attempting to reinvent the music genre necessarily; they were merely putting creative tools in the hands of those who would use them. For instance, if you have access to Garage Band or Sony’s Acid on the Mac or PC respectively, and you have dreams of producing songs or being a true to life DJ, then I would recommend swallowing the immense costs of those pieces of software and purchasing them. However, if you are looking for something to keep your creative juices flowing while you’re on the go, then Beaterator is for you.
Looking back, I still boot up eJay Clubworld every so often because I enjoy seeing what I’ll come up with in a certain span of time and the same thing goes for Beaterator. I like creating music and seeing what exactly I’ll come up with in a short bit of time simply because if I create something that keeps me interested, I’m going to see what I can do to make my straightforward creation more interesting and multifarious until I discover that several hours have passed without putting the title down. As I said, if all you want is something that will give you a Rock Band like thrill, then you’re definitely not on the same sheet of music and you’ll be set up for disappointment. But those who genuinely have an interest in creating music will definitely enjoy Beaterator.
Final Score: C (7 / 10)