Puzzle games and Online games

Posts Tagged ‘Arcade

Midnight club has dragged itself out of the shadows and in doing so has instantly disassociated itself with the slightly teenage Fast and Furious aesthetic. This is an older, wiser, classier racer than before, with slick, HDR-lit visuals and a genuine sense of power in its engines. As its core, though, Midnight Club remains faithful to its original premise. The open world is used to stage races with no boundaries point-to-point challenges where having a taxi-driver like knowledge of the streets pays dividends.

You can follow the flaming checkpoints, of course, but savvy drivers will use back alleys, subtly disguised ramps and corner-shaving petrol stations to gain an advantage. Nothing new of course, but rarely has it looked and left so coherent and substantial. The RAGE engine has been created not just to shift polygons but also to emote, to allow Rockstar’s development teams to suck us further into their games.

A good example of such immersive techniques is Los Angeles Turbo mode. The camera slides in behind the car when you hit the NOS, the screen fades to sepia and the bass begins to thud. The sense of danger is dramatically increased: the motion blur combined with a narrowed viewing angle makes dodging through the traffic a harrowing experience. Just as it should be, and when you crash, the impact is terrifying. Whereas other racing titles may revel in the pornographic glory of a traffic accident, Los Angeles has gone for a raw, gritty, nasty feel.

Adding to this notion of gritty reality, Los Angeles is a stringently streaming gaming experience, while the arcade handling and ridiculous speed disregard any notion of genuine realism, this is still a world that wants you to believe its real. So, after flagging a rival driver for a race, you drive to the start line, race your wheels into the axles, and then finish, straight back into the city. No loading times, no menus, everything has been crafted so you feel connected to the Los Angeles streets. Immersion is Rockstar’s ethos this generation.

Functionally Open Warfare 2 is flawless: connections are mostly solid and reliable with little slowdown. In terms of features, Worms is far in advance of any other PSP game too. As well as regular deathmatches, it is also possible to take part in ‘Fort’ games, where each side protects a base, and ‘Races’ where teams compete to Ninja Rope from one end of level to another. Each mode is bolstered by a healthy set of leaderboards that rival even the best Xbox Live games for comprehensiveness.

If the game judged on these merits alone then it would surely achieve the highest possible score, if only for the fact that it is that much more advanced than any other PSP title. Sadly Open Warfare 2 features a slight variation to the rules that will infuriate Worms purists for the way that it unbalances the game. Play a ranked match in any other version of Worms and the weapon scheme will be limited to the low powered weapons in order to force players to adopt strategic tactics, which ultimately makes the game fair. In Open Warfare 2, though, every ranked game is assigned a random weapon scheme that could potentially allow a player to win a game in just one turn with a Concrete Donkey, the most powerful weapon, and send them flying up the leaderboards.

That such an oversight has crept into series that always prides itself on balance in both astonishing and shameful. What is genuinely the best Worms game in years in reduced to one of the worst when playing online, which is even more of a shame, considering the potential offered by the wealthy set of options? Anyone who cares about ranking should therefore stick to Live Arcade for now.