Gaming Overload

Posted: 15th September 2008 by Luc "Sandman" G. in Games

Over the last week, 3 games that I’ve been looking forward to were finally released. I’ve managed to play all 3, but that also means that I haven’t been able to dedicate a whole lot of time to 1 specific game. This is the reason why I’m going to give 3 quick reviews of what I think of the games so far.

Spore. The mention of this game has had gamers salivating for years since the game was first announced. DRM notwithstanding, Spore has been worth the wait.

The game itself is separated into 4 stages, and each stage is a completely different game from the last. In the first stage, you start off as a single cell organism swimming in a proverbial primordial ooze. Depending on whether you selected herbivore or carnivore, you go around eating the appropriate food and search for tokens that will give you various abilities, such as tendrils to swim faster and offensive and defensive mechanisms. As you eat and grow, you finally make it to a multi cell organism that turns into a mammal.

The second phase of the game starts off by your creature moving from a water based creature to a land based one. There you hunt, eat and mate. When attacking other species or befriending them, you can gain parts of their DNA which allows you to evolve different aspects; how you look, more offensive and defensive capabilities, etc… Playing this stage is more fun than I’m making it sound. You do this until you evolve into the next stage of the game.

After evolving in the 2nd phase, you finally get to the tribal stage. Your species has developed language and culture and has formed a tribe. This stage of the game plays more like an RTS (Real Time Strategy game), where you have to gather food and supplies. You also attack other tribes or befriend them. Once you’ve conquered and/or befriended the continent you move to being a more advanced civilization, where you create cities, vehicles and weapons. Your goal is similar, as you have to befriend or invade other cities on the planet, until you control it all.

The space stage of the game is completely different from the previous 3 stages. As an intergalactic traveller, you are given quests to follow. You have to befriend other intergalactic species, mine for spice, set up colonies and of course defend yourself against enemies. This part of the game plays like a combination of an RTS and RPG.

Spore is very fun to play and slightly addictive. You can spend hours in the creator portion of the game, creating the look of your creatures, different vehicles and housing. Time also flies by as you set out to first grow your creature, then grow your civilisation. Its been worth the long wait for this game to come out.

I give Spore an 8 out of 10.

Last week also saw the release of 2 of the yearly NHL games, EA’s NHL09 and TakeTwo’s NHL2K9. After trying both demos that had been released a few weeks earlier, I decided on EA’s NHL 09 as my game of choice.

This year’s version of EA’s NHL game includes some new features that intrigued me and the reasons I chose this game over NHL2K9. As a player, you can now lift your opponent’s stick, and as a defensive move you can also sweep your stick in an arc on the ice to try and poke the puck away.

Though those new features are interesting, the one that intrigued me the most was Be A Pro. You start off creating your player and join an AHL team. Game after game, you evolve as a player in the American Hockey League. Once you’ve become good enough, you get the call from the associated NHL team.

I will admit that for me, learning the new controls has been a steep learning curve. I’ve been playing NHL2K7 for the last couple of years, and previous to that I played NHL04 and NHL05 on the original X-Box. All these games use the A/B/X/Y buttons to shoot and pass, whereas NHL09 uses the right thumbstick and the triggers/bumpers to do the same. This feature was first introduced in NHL07, so for those who have been playing the Electronic Arts version for the last couple of years will be familiar with the controls. Regardless, I’m having a great time playing this game.

I give NHL09 a 7 out of 10


This passed Sunday saw the release of the much anticipated sequel to Rock Band. This is not just a disc of new songs (84 of ’em), Rock Band 2 includes features that fans have been asking for. The Band World Tour now allows players to use downloaded songs instead of being limited to songs on the game disc. It also allows users to form a band over X-Box Live instead of being limited to local players. A drum trainer now allows fans of the peripheral to hone in their drumming skills. A new Battle of the Bands feature allows you to compete against other bands. Gamers with families will enjoy the new “no fail” mode, where a player and song will not fail. This is great for gamers with small children and/or significant others who aren’t gamers. It allows families to have fun together without having to worry about failing a song in the middle of it.

I give Rock Band 2 an 8 out of 10

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