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New GTA IV Teaser Video

Band of Bugs Review

So Far Band of Bugs has been slammed by critics and has an average review score of 69/100. DO NOT be swayed by this without trying the game. The basic problem in a lot of these reviews is that they view Band of Bugs as too easy for tactic/strategy game fans and too hard for casual players. My problem with so many of the reviews is that they seem to be reviewing and critiquing the concept of Band of Bugs (create a simplistic and more casual tactics experience) than the actual game itself. Why such glowing reviews when Ninjabee simplified RTS genre in Outpost Kaloki? Aren't RTS fans as hardcore and particular as Tactics/Strategy fans? Apparently not.

In the end, a review is just a person's opinion. Typically, I think that all the critics reviews average out correctly, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Band of Bugs. At least, that's not the direction the reviews are heading. I can only hope that I fairly review the game and voice some opinion or perspective that is worthwhile.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Phenomenal 2D art..Gigantic HD handdrawn depictions of all the bugs look great! 3D engine looks good for a Live release and all the different types of units and teams are easily discerned. The animation of all the critters is stellar.
Cons: The different color line shading does detract from the graphics somewhat...taking this option off is usually not worth doing in multiplayer, but it does improve the 3D graphics.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Fully Featured game with an enjoyable campaign, a multitute of online modes, and a level editor. This is where Band of Bugs has really been critiqued and while I found the campaign somewhat easy, I was very entertained and it was all over too quickly. I was actually left with questions about Maal's origin and hope that DLC will fill in these holes. The campaign dialogue is absolutely brilliant and quite witty and funny. While strategy/tactics fans may find the game easy or simplistic, the point of the game was to make this genre of games more approachable and casual. Outpost Kaloki certainly simplified RTS games, and I loved that it did (not being the biggest RTS fan) even though I struggle to beat certain levels. While I agree that Band of Bugs is no Tactics Ogre, Fire Emblem, etc. is it fair to compare it to these full retail games? I don't think would be like comparing Outpost Kaloki to Command & Conquer 3.
Cons: I did miss the rock-paper-scissors weapon element that is present in the fire emblems, but this game is supposed to be simplistic. I do agree with some of the other reviews about the RPG elements and stat-tracking. Adding in some character customization would have been great...from naming them, to picking 2-3 skills/abilities/spells. I think it could have been added while still staying simplistic and casual.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: The bug voices/gibberish is absolutely great and works perfectly with the game's sense of humor and tone. The sound FX as a whole are well thought out and distinctive to certain units, actions, etc. The Music is good and fits with the theme...
Cons: ..but some of the music misses and feels a little repetetive...ok only 1 particular song, but still a con.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: I find it hard for anyone to argue over the feature set in this game. It offers a variety of multiplayer modes: Spider Hunter, Elimination, Capture, etc. both online and locally. There is also the great addition of a Level Editor plus a full 20 mission campaign story mode with additional stand alone missions. It's a game chock-full-to the brim with features for $10.
Cons: My complaint is squarely on the online multiplayer... I have found it very hard to find ranked games and virtually all the games I have played have been Spider Hunter. I really love elimination and find a human opponent very fun to compete with Band of Bug players stop playing Spider Hunter.

Average: 90.00%
Tilt: +2.00%

Don't get me wrong, Band of Bugs has it's issue and may not be a homerun for Strategy Fans, but it delivers on a ton of features. While RPG elements and custom Bug armies would have been great, this game's purpose was to offer a simplified and more casual Tactics gameplay experience. Ninjabee certainly delivered on this goal and exceeded their previous titles in the story mode and dialogue category if you ask me. My biggest issue with the game is that I wanted more of the campaign, more Maal, and that I find it incredibly hard and time consuming to find online ranked elimination/capture matches. Everyone plays Spider Hunter! I don't think I've mentioned that the turn system works FANTASTIC for online matches and keeps them action packed. Great design decision! All in all Band of Bugs offers a lot of game for $10. Perhaps the reason for all the low reviews is that people are comparing it to $50-60 titles, since the quality of the game and features resemble those full priced titles over the typical offerings of Xbox Live. Give Band of Bugs a chance, you probably will find yourself smiling and chuckling along with Maal and his gang.

Verdict: 92%

Halo 3 Online Reality Game - Video

Remember that countdown timer...well it revealed this video

Any ideas?

Band of Bugs Preview & First Impressions

So Band of Bugs was released yesterday and I of course immediately downloaded and starting playing this Xbox Live game since after all it's been one that I've been looking forward to and was featured in my top 5 Arcade games to look out for, plus I have mentioned it quite a bit in other posts. I have not had enough time to try out all the features: Level Editor, Online Multiplayer, etc., but I have started the campaign and have some general impressions of gameplay, graphics, etc.

Graphics: The Graphics are VERY good for Xbox Live Arcade and very clean. I think they pop a little bit more when the colored team shading is not on, but the convenience of identifying the different teams was not worth leaving off for me. The bugs all move differently and are well animated...Maal walks along, Grasshopper's hop, etc. The thing that really pops about the graphics and presentation are the large 2D pictures of each bug when they talk in the campaign. It's fabulous. I love the 2D style in this game.

Gameplay: So far, the campaign story is pretty's amazing that this game is only $10. You can instantly see the time/effort that went into the game and it's a full-fledged game and not just a flimsy little Arcade title. The gameplay is instantly reminiscent of Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, etc. I wish there was some sort of weapon triangle like Fire Emblem (Sword beats Axe beats Spear beats Sword) but if there is, it was not explained in the Tutorial and Training missions. I guess that's where the casual steps in. I have to admit that I love the back and forth of the rounds instead of entire turns where you move all your characters. It's very Action/RPG and works really well to keep the game moving. Surely it will be a blessing in Multiplayer (when I get around to playing it).

Sound/Music: Don't have much to say about this except that the voices/gibberish that each bug speaks in is so great. If you don't have voicework, this is an absolute must and just livens up the whole story presentation and 1 player campaign. Sound effects are very good, and I like the hop sounds of the Grasshopper as he bounds around. Haven't really taken a moment to listen to the music, but it fit the theme of the game and didn't overtly stand out as bad, quirky or weird.

Lasting Appeal: Haven't been playing it that long, but I can already tell that there is a lot to do in the game. Ultimately if multiplayer delivers this game will have incredible lasting appeal with the level editor and all. I'm a huge fan of multiplayer, but want to learn as much of the rope as possible before I delve in and get my ass whooped. I hope to run into the Ninja Bee in the game very soon and congratulations to Ninjabee the development team on another great game for the Xbox Live Arcade.

Full Review will arrive soon, but Band of Bugs is living up to the (my) hype.

Halo 3 Achievement List

This isn't confirmed or final since the game is not out, but probably give a good idea of what to expect. Enjoy

1. Landfall
Finish the first mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
20 Points
2. Holdout
Finish the second mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
20 Points
3. The Road
Finish the third mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
20 Points
4. Assault
Finish the fourth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
30 Points
5. Cleansing
Finish the fifth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
30 Points
6. Refuge
Finish the sixth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
30 Points
7. Last Stand
Finish the seventh mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
40 Points
8. The Key
Finish the eighth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
40 Points
9. Return
Finish the final mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
50 Points
10. Campaign Complete: Normal
Finish the Campaign on Normal.
125 Points
11. Campaign Complete: Heroic
Finish the Campaign on Heroic (unlocks achievement for Normal, if not earned).
125 Points
12. Campaign Complete: Legendary
Finish the Campaign on Legendary (unlocks achievements for Normal and Heroic, if not earned).
125 Points
13. Iron
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
14. Black Eye
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
15. Tough Luck
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
16. Catch
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
17. Fog
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
18. Famine
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
19. Thunderstorm
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
20. Tilt
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
21. Mythic
Finish the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary, then find and claim this skull.
10 Points
22. Spartan Program Recruit
Win your first game in matchmaking to sign up for the Spartan Program (Online).
10 Points
23. UNSC Spartan
Earn your Sergeant rating to be recognized as a true Spartan (Online).
15 Points
24. Spartan Officer
Advance to the Spartan Officer ranks (Online).
25 Points
25. Two for One
Score a Double Kill with a single spartan laser shot in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
26. Too Close to the Sun
Destroy an enemy banshee with the spartan laser or missile pod in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
5 Points
27. Triple Kill
Kill 3 enemies within 4 seconds of one another in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
28. Overkill
Kill 4 enemies within 4 seconds of one another in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
29. Lee R Wilson Memorial
Score 5 grenade sticks in any ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
30. We're in for some Chop
Destroy an enemy vehicle with equipment in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
5 Points
31. Killing Frenzy
Kill 10 enemies without dying in any ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
32. Steppin' Razor
Score a Triple Kill with the sword in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
33. Mongoose Mowdown
Splatter an enemy with the mongoose in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
34. Up Close and Personal
Kill 5 enemies by melee or assassination in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
35. Fear the Pink Mist
Kill 5 enemies with the needler in a ranked free for all playlist or in campaign.
5 Points
36. Headshot Honcho
Kill 10 enemies with headshots in a ranked free for all playlist or in campaign.
5 Points
37. Used Car Salesman
Destroy a vehicle that has three enemies in it in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
5 Points
38. Marathon Man
Locate and access all Terminals in the Campaign.
40 Points
39. MVP
Earn the MVP in any ranked playlist (Online).
5 Points
40. Maybe Next Time Buddy
Board the same vehicle within 10 seconds after being boarded in any free for all playlist (Online).
5 Points
41. Demon
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the second mission.
10 Points
42. Guerilla
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the first mission.
10 Points
43. Cavalier
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the third mission.
10 Points
44. Askar
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the fourth mission.
10 Points
45. Exterminator
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the fifth mission.
10 Points
46. Ranger
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the sixth mission.
10 Points
47. Vanguard
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the seventh mission.
10 Points
48. Orpheus
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on eighth mission.
10 Points
49. Reclaimer
Score over Points in the Campaign meta-game on the final mission.
10 Points

Halo 3 Cryptic Email leads to more Box Cover

Above is the Halo 3 box cover...sweet...and by far superior to Halo 1...and on par with Halo 2. The cover doesn't reveal much and actually makes sense and is pretty similar in theme and overall look to the original CG sequence at E3 when Halo 3 was announced and the poster art. The end concept art is also better than a lot of the fakes and concepts that were circling around..

So Bungie sent out this really cryptic email about history repeating and all which led some fans to discovering this new bungie webpage which features a Halo Comic.

While the Comic is pretty interesting...reordering the panels gives you a sequence of numbers that leads to this site which prominently features the symbol that was drawn in the comic. Then there's an alien countdown what? we'll find out in a day or so, but many fans are speculating that a new video or vidoc will emerge. Finally this all leads to this hello kitty site, which references a different picture that you can see below:

So what does all this stuff mean? Well for one, Bungie is at it again with viral online advertising. They did the infamous "ihatebees" website which was a sort of online game, puzzle and marketing campaign for Halo 2. I think the most information is revealed in the comic, even though it's not much and is pretty straight forward and in line with all the other promotional materials, videos, posters and that is that....surprise!...the Ark is definitely on Earth right in the middle of Africa...the Cradle of Life. I was actually of the opinion earlier that humans were forerunners and that we emerged from the ark and began again after the cleansing of the flood. While this is still a possibility, the fact that humanity existed and witnessed the building of the Ark and the arrival of the sentinels, seems to dispell this popular theory. What else does all of this cryptic information mean for Halo 3? I have no idea and am not even going to start reaching and theorizing. The wait for September is going to be a miserable one.

Halo 3 Figurines by McFarlane Toys

Not really much to say about this except that they look good since McFarlane toys is taking over designing the halo line of action figures. The Halo tie-ins seem to be at an all time high for the release of this game. Supposedly there will be some die-cast vehicles as well. If I was 10, I'd definitely be into these, but for now I just like looking at them.

Band of Bugs is coming! This WEDNESDAY! totally faked me out! Over the weekend they had Bomberman listed in the Arcade marketplace (probably coming out next week) but that spot has been replaced by Band of Bugs! Hooray! This is one of those Arcade games I've been waiting for. Get ready for one helluva game for $10. Review will be out by the end of the week for this Live Title and you can check out the trailer below or here. Game looks sweet huh? I would like to go on the record and say: Ninjabee, don't make us wait so long for the next title.

Bomberman Live hits Xbox this Wednesday (I think)

Based on all previous live titles...when it shows up on marketplace it's coming soon...thus Bomberman is almost definitely coming out this wednesday. A nostalgic release yes, but if they get the multiplayer right this game could be a major winner. Check it out this wednesday.

Soul Calibur IV Announced with Teaser Trailer

That's right...Soul Calibur 4 is coming next year. I expect it will have a large E3 presence where a lot more will be shown. I have to admit that I haven't gotten much time in with Soul Calibur 2&3 but Soul Edge and the original Soul Calibur were both quite good (The Dreamcast Soul Calibur had one of the best 1player modes for a fighting game ever). This title should be a AAA experience for both PS3 and Xbox 360. Hopefully, Online will work out for both. Enjoy the trailer!

First Storked Screens...very subject to change

As promised, I have some initial screens from Storked. Yes, they lack variety but that is primarily due to the degree in which graphics/levels/and animations are complete. Both Screenshots feature, the Rockhopper penguin, who's ability is...Jumping! Shocking, I know. This guy can jump over obstacles and gaps making him the most mobile of the 4 Gwins. He's also the smallest Gwin which allows him to potentially reach areas that the other Gwins cannot.

You may notice that there is the ability to build a lot of slopes...this is a key feature since the egg will roll and react to slopes and much of the game is rolling the egg to the EXIT without breaking it. Once again sorry for the very similar screenshots, but hopefully this early look will start to get people interested in this upcoming title.

Band of Bugs Trailer

Speaking of Band of Bugs (earlier post), Here is their released trailer that came out today. Band of Bugs where are you! I can't wait!

Prince of Persia for Live Arcade this week

Though this game looks decent and has great updated visuals, the original prince of persia is really hard (really is a big understatement) and I am really looking forward to Band of Bugs. Sadly, I will have to go without Halo 3 and without Band of Bugs for the time being. Band of Bugs has to be on the horizon though because Ninja Bee is really picking up their marketing and has a whole ign blog and is releasing a trailer soon, etc. Here's hoping that next week is Band of Bugs...until then I'll just have to play Catan.

Halo 3 Beta Ends today...tear

That's right. Sadly, the Halo 3 Beta comes to a close tonight at midnight. It's been a great ride, so get as much gaming in as you can before Halo 3 vanishes away until September.

Storked Game Update/Info

So if you haven't been over to the newly designed Graduate Games, you should do so now. On our newly designed website, you will notice there are 2 games in development and one of them is really moving along. Storked is about 4 penguins who get stuck protecting an egg that a stork was attempting to deliver. The basic objective of each level is to get the egg from point A to point B (the exit of the level) safely. The Egg can be kicked by the penguins and rolls down slopes, and gains momentum accordingly...think Sonic when he is in a ball, only you can't do loop de loops. That's not the only connection with the 16-bit, Genesis, SNES era though. For those of you who are real old school gamers may remember a puzzle/platformer called "The Lost Vikings." This game wasn't all that exceptional, but did allow you to control 3 different vikings with different abilities, switching between them at any time. This is a key part of Storked since every penguin has a different ability to help get the Egg to the finish line. With the simple press of a button, you can switch between up to 4 different penguins. If all goes according to plan, there should be some screenshots available sometime next week. Keep checking back here for more information about STORKED!

HUGE NEWS....for Graduate Games

Graduate Games has a totally revamped website. It was built from the ground up and we have all that fancy flash animation and everything. We think it's a vast improvement, but you'll have to check it out and let us know if we're delusional. Get ready for some self promoting posts because there is a lot coming down the pipeline. You'll notice that the 2 games we have in development are now featured on the website. Look for a Beta on these titles so we can work out all the kinks and fix them before they are released. Cheers!

Shadowrun Review

Shadowrun is the first dual platform Xbox/Vista game. Poor PC gamers have to purchase the game, a Windows Live account (the PC version of Xbox Live), and probably a gamepad. Luckily for 360 owners, you probably have everything but the game...but you may not even want that.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Magic/Tech elements work well and being able to resurrect fallen teammates is a great addition. Using the 3 mapped abilities is easily done and it all rounds out to be a very different FPS experience with lots of depth and strategies to be worked out.
Cons: Only 3 ability slots sucks because changing abilities leaves you completely vulnerable and is awkward in the middle of a match. Why not use the d-pad to hold 4 more abilities? The game is multiplayer only which is a real shame since the abilities could've made some interesting levels and missions.

Graphics: 7/10
Pros: Magic effects look pretty cool and all the abilities are animated really well. Different character classes, weapons are easily identified. Levels look good. Visuals are decent.
Cons: No climbing animation! Characters just float up ladders! There is a total lack of variety/customization with the races...every RNA human looks the same, every Lineage dwarf looks the same, etc. with only 2 factions this seems ridiculous.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: The training has good voicework, sound effects are very diverse (from magical zaps to machine guns spewing lead) and the music fits the mood of the gameplay and level.
Cons: Music is forgettable and the overall audio experience is on par with other titles.

Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Pros: There are a lot of nuances, weapons, abilities, and characters classes to experiment with and learn how to use. The combinations of abilities, weapons, and classes really affect how you play this unique first person shooter. Online multiplayer with up to 16 people on xbox and Vista is a first.
Cons: Only 9 maps, a handful of modes, multiplayer only, 8 or so abilities, techs, and weapons and 4 races is not worth $60. The gameplay online is tough to get into and there's a steep learning curve.

Average: 67.50%
Tilt: - 3.50%

A $60 pricetag for this game is pretty infuriating. You only get 9 maps and judging from the Xbox Marketplace 4-6 maps go for about $ let's say $20 for 9. $10 buys you a casual Xbox Live Arcade title so since this one has better graphics and all that, lets say $20. That leaves us with a $40 game, now subtract $5-10 for not taking the time to animate climbing or making more modes and you are left with a $30-$35 game. At that price, Shadowrun would be a fair deal and would make the experience enjoyable. At $60, this game is an entire rip-off...and while the game is not's price forces you to compare it with all the other $60 titles out there which feel like much more complete packages in comparison.

Verdict: 64%

God of War 2 Playstation Review

God of War 2 is a superb adventure and probably one of the last great titles for PS2. For me, the appeal of God of War has always been the story and puzzles and I would say that both are superior in this sequel.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Pros: Combat is relatively unchanged from the first title, but the puzzles and locales are all the more fantastic. The new pegasus flying sequences are very good. Boss fights return and are as spectacular as ever.
Cons: I still think Combat is somewhat of a button masher...context stuff is great, but I found myself wanting to get to the next boss, puzzle, or story sequence over mowing down my 1,000th generic spartan looking soldier.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: An exceptional looking Playstation Game. The different locales are amazing and seeing a graphical depiction and interpretation of mythical locales is a real treat.
Cons: It is a PS2 game and switching back from next gen makes you really notice a difference in quality.

Music/Sound: 10/10
Pros: Catchy theme, dramatic music and score, excellent weapon effects, perfect voice acting (and a lot of it at that) makes the audio of this game shine.
Cons: The blood curdling screams of the creatures you slay may haunt you at night.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: The lengthy and intriguing quest will keep you playing till the resolution of the story. Multiple difficulties and bonuses to unlock.
Cons: For me, the lasting appeal of a story driven game is tough...once it's over there's no real need to play it again. However, it does deliver on an excellent story and adventure and that's what it is supposed to do. There's not that over and over again need to play, but it certainly delivers on an excellent adventure.

Average: 96.25%
Tilt: -0.25%

Just a slight detraction to make it an even 96% since it's not quite a 97% since it lacks some appeal during combat and replayability. This is a great game though and if you have a PS2, you absolutely have to play the game. Check out the last great adventure on PS2.

Verdict: 96%

Mad Tracks LIVE Arcade Review

Mad Tracks is an uber casual racing game. As a result, when you first pick up and play's very satisfying, but all the variety and races are very forgettable, and after a couple weeks you probably won't be playing this title unless you have a couple friends over.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Great variety of game modes, easy controls, make a decent little racer
Cons: Many minigames seem to require little to no skill and are easy to master. Not a lot of depth.

Graphics: 7/10
Pros: Decent 3D worlds, decent car models, pretty big levels for a 45Meg download.
Cons: Can't choose car color or model. The sense of being a small toy car isn't quite there...more could have been done with the concept (see Toy Commander, DC).

Sound/Music: 5/10
Pros: There are sound effects and music and they all work together to service the need.
Cons: The music and sounds are all very generic and bargain basement.

Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Pros: 4 player splitscreen, Quite a few different game modes, Online Multiplayer
Cons: Easy to get gold in single player (only 15 events), multiplayer kicks you out of a party after a game, so playing with friends is extra difficult, and game can be beaten in under a couple hours and forgotten.

Average: 65.00%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%

This game is great to purchase if you have 3 friends coming over who are not necessarily gamers. It's a lot of fun splitscreen. There's problems online which will prevent you from coming back and the 1 player experience is brief. The game plays pretty well and is pretty fun, it's just shallow and forgettable. It's your call but the game definitely could have used some more work, options, customization, track selection, car selection, etc. to really make it a recommendable experience.

Verdict: 65%