Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) Review

Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) Review

What’s Different With Dance Central 3?

The Harmonix development team behind each of the Dance Central’s knows what it’s doing. The two previous titles have been nothing short of superb critical successes. With the third instalment of the game, Harmonix has added some new content which creates an entirely new experience for single player users. One of the first, and foremost, changes Dance Central veterans can expect to see is the single player story mode. The story is set against an extremely innovative backdrop. You play as a member of the, “Dance Central Intelligence,” whose primary goal is to eradicate horrible dancing. You must travel through different decades and learn the hottest moves of each, making your mark on the world during that specific time. While it can come off as childish, corny, and clichéd, it provides a decent diversion for players who aren’t hosting a dance party. The other new addition I was immensely impressed with was the, “Crew Throwdown,” mode. In this segment, multiple players are split up into groups. Once split up, they take part in a dance version of a battle royale. Not only does this addition get the heart pumping, it’s the exact type of party fun Dance Central fans have come to know. Battle your friends and let the loving trash talk begin.

How Fun Can A Dance Game Be After Hours Of Playing?

Dance Central 3 was the first dance game I had played on the Kinect. I was worried when I first started playing, because I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it very much. I come from an era when the arcade dance queens and kings could move their feet faster than the on screen arrows in Dance Dance Revolution. Being a newcomer to both the Kinect and Dance Central just increased those nerves. After playing for about half an hour, however, those aforementioned nerves disappeared and instead, I had one of the best game playing experiences of my life.

What’s great about Dance Central 3 is it works for both rookies and veterans. Newcomers to the new age dancing scene can put themselves through step-by-step tutorials of the dance moves they need to learn to secure a high enough score to move on. Not only are these tutorials in-depth, they’re also narrated by Usher, which is pretty fun within itself. If you’re a long time fan of the series, don’t worry. After playing for a couple of days, I thought I had the hang of it and pushed myself to the hardest dancing level. Needless to say, both my body and spirit were pulverized. The most difficult level is rapidly paced and combines almost all of the dance moves you’ll need to know in order to pass the level. It’s incredibly challenging, and when you finally complete it, it’s incredibly rewarding.

Final verdict?

Dance Central 3 has wormed its way into my heart and has become one of the best games I’ve played all year. It’s instructional, it’s fun, and it provides a work out I can’t get with many of the other games I’m playing. With a track list spanning over five decades, anybody in the family can jump in and enjoy the best songs of each generation. I can finally say I’ve given up on disliking the modern day rhythm based dancing games, hanging onto nostalgic memories of times spent playing DDR because of Dance Central 3. For $49.99 this game should have a permanent spot on your game shelf.

Doom 3: BFG Edition (PS3) Review

Doom 3: BFG Edition (PS3) Review

What’s Doom 3 And Where Are The First Two?

Before I started writing this review, I thought everyone (who played videogames) knew what Doom 3 was. Even if they hadn’t played it, I was sure they the title had come up in conversation. This is why I was perplexed when I asked some friends if they wanted to play Doom 3, and they had never heard of it. Granted these friends aren’t the biggest video game fanatics, but they play a variety of games. I was not prepared for the lack of knowledge as to what the game was, or that it even existed. Doom 3 was a big part of my childhood and a gateway into games without adorable Italian plumbers running around, saving princesses.

All that surprise about the ignorance of an iconic series has led me to the actual review for Doom 3: BFG Edition. There isn’t much to say about the game if you’ve played the original PC version. It’s the same storyline, same weaponry for the most part, and the same characters. If you haven’t played the game, here’s a really quick introduction. You play as a new recruit aboard a military transport bound for a Martian research outpost. On arrival, you’re sent to go oversee some of the workers, and encourage them to leave the base. Before you can get your warning out, however, something goes terribly wrong and you’re left to fight off an army of monstrous enemies. It all may sound like a game you’ve played before; Dead Space or Mass Effect. The original Doom series inspired them all, paving the way for modern day survival based horror shooters and the FPS genre itself.

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What’s Different About Doom 3 This Time?

Fans of the original game can rejoice knowing players will be able to use a flashlight with a weapon. This may not come across as gigantic news for newcomers who haven’t played the Doom 3 before, but the either/or nature of flashlight use in the original was such a controversial topic, id decided to tweak it for the rerelease. Other than the flashlight though, those in possession of a 3D monitor or television can play the game in 3D. While I played it in the standard 2D mode and can’t comment on how well the game plays in 3D, it’s certainly one of the few games to incorporate the latest technology. This version of the game is also one of the first—if not the first—game to be compatible with the Occulus Rift VR headset. This is one of the first games you can play without a monitor or television set. Instead, you can wear the headgear and play the game in virtual reality.

How’s The Switch From PC To A Console?

As stated, I played this game on the PS3. I’ve heard the graphics are superb on the latest PC version, and a little better than the PS3 on the Xbox 360. I was disappointed with the graphics I had to endure in mission after mission. I understand the difficulty in trying to reinvent a beloved game by proclaiming it’ll play like new and look modern. Again, I can’t comment on how the graphics looked with other versions available, but with the Playstation it just fell flat. I was hoping for crisper edges and slightly updated styles in features like faces and movements. Instead, it felt like a brighter version of the original game which wasn’t particularly needed.

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The gameplay mechanics, on the other hand, were quite good. I won’t say they were perfect as there was room for some improvement in a couple of areas. The actual movement was still a little sloppy. It doesn’t impact the gameplay all that much, but it was something in the original version which carried over to the rerelease. The lighting was also an issue, and not because it was too dark. The original game was phenomenal because of the terrifying, paranoid ambience while sneaking through empty—or are they?—hallways. In this instalment, not only have you been given a gun mounted flashlight, but the entire game is much brighter. You can manually go into the settings and fiddle around with the lighting, but there doesn’t seem to be a great balance between outrageously dark and extremely bright.

Here’s what makes the game enjoyable for hours; the shooting. Back when the original game was released in 2004, the shooting mechanics were what set the game apart from almost every other PC title available. There was a precise shooting style which to the combat which made killing evil zombie-aliens that much better. It didn’t necessarily make the game easier to play, but allowed the player to not have to worry so much about perfect aim in the darkest corners of the hallways you investigated. This has been changed slightly to work well with the mechanics involved while using a console based controller, like on the PS3 or the Xbox 360. For any fan of first person shooters, the controls come easy and you can play almost immediately without having to worry about dedicated buttons for various controls. One of my favourite features this game kept from the original PC version, was the lack of a load out. I am a big fan of first person shooters, but I reminisce sometimes about the good old days where your protagonist had one gun and a knife to survive. Doom 3 delivers that nostalgic feeling of desperation, and creates a unique environment in the realm of modern day shooters.

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Is it fun? Is it worth picking up?

If you haven’t played any of the Dooms prior to hearing about this reissue, I would strongly urge you to go out and purchase it. You get Doom: Ultimate Edition and Doom 2 in addition to the more recent, polygonal sequel. This franchise is one of the forefathers for modern day first person shooters and continues to hold up as a heavyweight contender in today’s industry. If you know this series, then for $39.99 on console and $29.99 on PC, you know you can’t go wrong with the pricing. This game will be utterly nostalgic, and may be the game you decide to stop playing Call of Duty for. Well, at least until the next one is released. I had too much fun playing this game, and I’m still playing it right now. I would definitely recommend this game to almost anyone who likes horror or shooting games in general.

Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) Review

Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) Review

Here’s the thing about racing games; I’m not the biggest fan. Sure, I’ll take Need for Speed for a drive and test out the latest arcade racers available on the Playstation Network, but I’m not an aficionado. Even more so, if I were to play a racing game, it would have always been a title where there was a distinct ending after completing a certain number of objectives. When I was first handed Forza Horizon, I was concerned I would spend hours in front of my television begging to play anything else. I did spend hours in front of my television, but it was due to the utter enthralment I had when playing. Forza Horizon might seem like another racing title, but in reality, it is so much more.

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The greatest aspect the Forza series is the attention to detail the developers include, as well as the breathtakingly stunning graphics. In past games, the circuits appeared on screen and you felt as if you actually were behind the wheel of the car you were driving. In Forza Horizon, the graphics are amped up to a whole new level. In the newest title from the development team behind Turn 10, the race leaves the circuit and immerses the player in a new open world experience. While I may not be a gigantic fan of driving video games, I am a big driver. Horizon allowed me to fulfil some of the drives I have yearned for. The only reason this is allowed to occur is because of the in-game graphics.The game takes drivers to the middle of Western America, in the heart of Colorado. The surroundings differ quite heavily based on the race you are partaking in. At night, the lighting is taken down to promote a darker ambience. It’s at this point where some of my favourite parts to the game came into play. When driving through the back mountains of Colorado, you can see fireworks appear overhead as you race. This is all a part of the Horizon Festival, the campaign you embark on. During the day, the lighting is nothing less than stunning. The individual rays of the sun ghost over the hood of your car as you corner beyond your competitor. One of the biggest facets a racing game must have is a realistic feel to the driving experience. While my favourite arcade racing games don’t allow me to feel like I’m behind the wheel of a car, Forza Horizon most certainly does.

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With the newest addition to the Forza family comes a whole new set of achievements to be unlocked and an entirely new single player campaign experience. In Horizon, your goal is to become the Horizon Champion. Horizon Champion is the equivalent to becoming the Motorsport champion in previous versions of the franchise. This version will take you through the various locales of Colorado, from mountains to desert and beyond. Like in previous games, you’ll be set up in official races against a vast medley of racers from various cities. It’s in the single player campaign where you can almost compare Forza Horizon to street racing games like Need for Speed. It’s the attention to microscopic detail, however, which makes this game one of the best racing games I have ever come across. Everything from the individual dashboard lighting which comes with certain vehicles to the way an individual car handles just increases the pleasure you’ll have playing this game.

While visuals are important to a game like Forza Horizon, the accompanying audio is also especially interesting. This game provides the standard racing game playlist that can be found in other racing games. Top 40 artists remixed by some DJ take form throughout the entire game. While I am a fan of electronic synth and exasperatingly long remixes of songs, the music didn’t quite fit the atmosphere the game had set. This game still comes across as a professional racing game even though it’s been taken out of i’s standard element and thrown into a street race setting. I would expect this music to appear in games like Need for Speed and the Club, but in a game like this the music aspect to the audio provided does not fit in with the rest of the game in the slightest.

The actual audio in relation to the sounds the cars make is supreme. Every growl can be heard as you tap lightly on the accelerator, and the screech of the tires burning as you drift around a corner roars through the speakers. Convincing audio and visual elements are components a game like this must have to succeed, and Forza Horizon hits the nail square on the head. I was playing this game on my 360 and with my headphones plugged in, I felt immediately transported to the race I was competing in. While it didn’t help my never ending losing streak, I was able to enjoy the race so much more because of it.

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The biggest question of course is how the different cars handled in the game. What’s really interesting about Forza Horizon is each individual car has a unique handling style which you have to grow accustomed to before you can even think about winning any races. The Mercedes I took out had extremely high traction and so drifting was more difficult with this car then with some of the other cars I took out for a spin. The variety of cars made every race seem like an entirely new experience. This was one of the key elements which allowed the game to remain fun even after playing for a couple of hours. With the majority of racing games I’ve played, I’ve gotten bored rather quickly because of the repetitiveness. With Horizon I couldn’t get bored because I felt like I was playing a new game each time I unlocked a new car. The actual gameplay aspect actually blew me away and has redesigned the way racing games should now be played.

I was disappointed with the lack of varying weather conditions which would have made the game a little more interesting. A thunderous rain storm would have made the driving an edgier experience. With the cars provided, ranging from Audi’s to Aston Martin’s and more, it would have been an entirely new experience to try the different handling forms in certain weather. Considering the game takes place in Colorado, known for its western landforms and South Park, some snow would have also been fun to drive around in. Obviously, this would have taken away from the reality of the game they were trying to present, but in the open world concept provided, I feel like it would have worked tremendously.

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The multiplayer provided for the game works extremely well with the open world concept. You can go online and challenge any one of your friends through LIVE on a variety of courses. One of the newest aspects to the game is being able to drive through a course which hasn’t necessarily been predetermined. You can drive through the city streets of Colorado and take numerous paths to your destination point. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect to the game and wished Turn 10 had invested some more into this form of gameplay.

The most important question which gets overlooked in reviews is how fun the game is for you, the buyer. Is it worth your $60? If you are a racing game fan in the slightest, you cannot go wrong with the latest Microsoft title. If, however, you don’t particularly like racing games and find yourself a fan of action or shooter related games, you may just want to pass on this one. While the game exceeds expectations in a variety of categories, this game won’t appease anyone who is not interested in racing. While I had fun playing through the game, I personally would not have spent the $60 on this title, when I could have spent the same amount on a game like FIFA or Halo. If you are the least bit interested, though, and have fun playing racing games, then this game is exactly what you’re looking for.