Nexuiz was developed by Illfonic and published by THQ. It was released on February 29, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Arena shooters are something of a lost art. To find a newly developed one is like finding money on the sidewalk: no matter how much is there you’re just happy to see it. But sometimes they miss the mark. The controls can be tight, the maps can be solid, the graphics can even be impressive, yet you turn delete the game from your drive and go back to one of your old staples.
Nexuiz is one of those. It’ll seem really enticing by its screenshots, but in the end there’s not much to keep you playing.
Warp was developed by Trapdoor and published by Electronic Arts. It was released February 15, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Kicking off Microsoft’s House Party event, Trapdoor’s Warp is a stealth/ puzzle game that draws from some of the most celebrated franchises in the gaming library (Portal and Metal Gear Solid come to mind). Players take control of Zero; an ostensibly adorable alien held captive by human scientists in an underwater labyrinth of labs and curious mechanical contraptions. The dastardly men of science are performing all manner of foul experiments on the little fella, but it’s not long before Zero’s harnessed the power of his titular talent and is embarking on a violent quest through the belly of the science facility in a bid to retrieve his lost abilities and unite with an enigmatic alien life form that contacts him telepathically (and acts as a handy guide).
While he looks all cuddles and kisses on the outside, Zero’s a bit of a barbarian; capable of teleporting inside of his human captors, causing them to burst in a crimson shower and just about everything in Warp is anchored by Zero’s natty teleporting ability.
Happy Action Theater was developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released February 1, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Double Fine Productions is a household name when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade games. Stacking, Trenched/Iron Brigade and Costume Quest are all titles that everyone should have on their machine. They’re all original properties; they were risks for both Double Fine and their publishers to put out, but each has succeeded. Now Double Fine wants to go out on a limb with their new Kinect title, Happy Action Theater.
The game itself is a collection of 18 minigames. Most involve players viewing themselves on screen with other digitized elements added such as snow, lava, or water. Players interact with objects in the environment such as balloons or fish to have them in turn react. There is no winning the game. It’s just you and the environment and acting like a fool. To some that sounds like fun. To others, well…
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition was developed and published by Electronic Arts. It was released October 15, 2011 and retails for 1200 MSP.
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is the rebirth of perhaps the most influential arcade sports title of the early 1990’s. It brings two-on-two, run-and-gun basketball back to the forefront and we couldn’t be happier. For the uninitiated the game is an over-the-top arcade style basketball game. It includes famous NBA players, unlockable teams and characters, jovial commentary and insane slam dunks. While NBA Jam saw a reboot to the series with its 2010 retail release, On Fire Edition brings back all the things that made the series fun, then adds in a slew of extra content, all for 1200 MSP. It’s everything that you would expect from a reboot of a classic game series and more. Boomshakalaka!!!
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare was developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released February 22, 2012 for 1200 MSP. A code was provided for review purposes.
This time around, Emma wasn’t going to allow things to play out the way they had the previous two. She wouldn’t just sit idly by playing the damsel-in-distress role while Alan did his hero thing, hiding away in a supposed bastion of light from the Taken. No, she’d had quite enough of that already, thank you very much.
This time they’d play things her way. This time, she had already collected all of the pieces of the oil rig puzzle and even had the motel keys. However, she wasn’t about to just hand it all over to the Champion of Light and help him along in his quest to put a halt to this perverted little desecration of reality, one in which the two remained imprisoned. That is to say, not unless he would first do his part to protect her from the Taken, at least.
Most readers are probably wondering what the heck all of that means. How would you feel if a game inspired those same sensations of confusion by seemingly starting in the middle rather than the beginning? This is the reality of playing through Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. It’s a reality that will become all too familiar to players as they relive the three same sections of the game over and over again, with the events altered just enough to keep things interesting. Don’t expect to jump right into this spin-off of the original Alan Wake and have a grasp on what is going on out in its quiet little stretch of the Arizona desert: you’re not meant to. Though the plot will of course clear up as players progress, the onset leaves one feeling as if they’re reading a library book from which the first chapter has been ripped out by some juvenile miscreant.
Alan went missing for a couple years after the events back in Bright Falls, and he know finds himself in a version of the Twilight Zone-inspired program he once wrote for: Night Springs. Only this iteration of it has been twisted into a disgusting apparition of a Night Springs episode. Mr. Scratch, who plays the role of a sort of “Nega-Alan,” is pulling the strings here, thinking Wake nothing but a puppet in his little game.
Al, being the crafty little scribe he is, has built in a backdoor to get out of this nightmare, though. Trouble is, he’s not really sure how the narrative goes — and neither is the player. Cue a frantic “fight with light” struggle against Scratch that can’t live up to the excellence of its predecessor, but still offers a fun excursion on a scale that is rarely seen on XBLA.
Gotham City Impostors was developed by Monolith and was published by WB Games. It was released February 8, 2012 for 1200 MSP.
The Dark Knight has finally hit his stride in video games with the award-winning hits Arkham Asylum and, more recently, Arkham City. While these games offered amazing single-player experiences, both through revolutionary gameplay and engaging stories, they have also steered away from any multiplayer experience.
While Batman and Joker have been fighting in retail games, their crazed followers in Gotham City have brought the battle to XBLA. Gotham City Impostors trades Batarangs and dark atmosphere for guns and crazy humor. It’s easily comparable to Call of Duty or Team Fortress 2, but it has unique features that doesn’t make it feel like a copy. While matchmaking can be a pain, this six-on-six comedy shooter has some of the best action on XBLA.
Pinball FX 2: Epic Quest was developed by Zen Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released February 15, 2012 for 240 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Werewolves, vampires and goblins, oh my! These are just a few of the monsters you’ll encounter in Pinball FX 2‘s new table, Epic Quest. In this new table we take a knight on his journey against evil to rescue his kidnapped princess. What separates this new installment from other tables is the addition of RPG-like elements. The adventure carries on from game to game, giving you the ability to level up your character, pick armor and even your weapon. It this enough to make pinball feel fresh and revitalized, or will this be another one of those things that should have never been?
Shank 2 was developed by Klei Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was released February 8, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
In 2010, the original Shank was released under a curious industry eye. Side scrolling brawlers are a well-worn genre, but for some reason Klei Entertainment had piqued the interest of the XBLA community. Shank was fairly well received, but stumbled in areas where it counts most, mainly in gameplay. The aptly named main character, Shank, traverses shipyards, jungles, and ancient ruins in search of his enemies, in hopes that killing them will ensure the safety of the people that are important to him. He slices, dices, and shreds enemies to bits with many different types of weapons and kills them in the goriest of ways possible. It seems Klei has upped the ante with this sequel, but does it deliver?
The Simpsons Arcade was developed by Konami and Backbone Entertainment and published by Konami. It was released February 3, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
The year was 1991, Bryan Adams’ hit song “(Everything I Do) I Do it for You” was #1 on the charts and The Simpsons were slowly becoming a household name. Only premiering Christmas 1989 and now on Season 23, it shows no stopping in sight. But one of the best parts of when it first came out was the merchandising, and video games were part of that sweet donut. Most of them were NES and SNES games but one game that never came out on any other consoles was The Simpsons Arcade and now, it’s finally upon us on XBLA.
The plot of the game involves Smithers and Mr. Burns stealing a diamond when they run into The Simpsons on the street, causing the diamond to fall out of Smithers’ hand and into Maggie’s mouth. They steal the baby and it’s up to the rest of the Simpson family to get Maggie back. You’ll punch, vacuum, jump rope and skateboard across 8 levels against Burns’s goons. Does it stay true to its yellow roots or is it as bad as a Chutney Squishee?
Iron Brigade: Rise of the Martian Bear was developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Microsoft. It was released February 1, 2012 for 400 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Iron Brigade is a game with a rich history. That history involves a plethora of fun, customization, shots fired, explosions, lawsuits, name changes, and now, a chapter about bears in outer space. Rise of the Martian Bear is the first downloadable content to be released for Iron Brigade, Double Fine Productions’ take on tower defense originally released in June of last year. The add-on expands upon Iron Brigade in almost every way imaginable, giving fans more of what they loved, and plenty of new toys to boot. By now you’ve certainly heard that two-handed salutes have made their way into the game, but let’s dive into the rest of what awaits us on Mars.