Game Room: February Roundup
Michael Phelps: Push the Limit
Ever wanted to test your swimming skills against Olympic Champion Michael Phelps? 505 Games is hoping you'll want to jump into the deep end of the pool with a swimming simulation game that will pace you through a career mode en route to trying to become the best in the world. The game is a Kinect exclusive, so if you can imagine doing a breaststroke in front in front of your TV, then this might be just be your game. Push the Limit is expected to be released in June.
OnLive Game System
For folks that don't want to invest in expensive gaming hardware and software, the OnLive Game System ($99) offers an alternative way to play. OnLive is a streaming device that allows gamers to play games without owning any physical game media. Out of the box the system comes with the game device, a wireless controller, HDMI and Ethernet cables, a USB charging cable and an AC adapter. It's easy to connect and get running quickly. OnLive offers a few ways to play a game. There's 44 featured games that you can purchase a 3-day or 5-day rental or buy outright. Rentals range between $4-10 and full purchases $20-40. There's also a monthly program ($10/month) that allows unlimited play and access to a different group of about 40 classic and catalog titles. OnLive users can also demo all available games for free. Demos are usually 15-30 minutes of full access to the title. Featured titles include games like NBA 2K11, Assassins Creed 2 and Mafia 2, while catalog games include the likes of Prince of Persia, FEAR 2 and NBA 2K10. OnLive has announced plans to add more than a dozen Square Enix titles soon to the monthly service. The small size of the library is an issue, but it's encouraging to see the service offerings growing already. The game streaming is very fast in terms of load times, and the service is fairly polished overall when it comes to navigation and menus. The downside of OnLive is that the graphics aren't as sharp as what you'd get from an Xbox 360 or PS3, and there's some input lag as measured between your controller commands and screen response. OnLive recommends 5Mbps connection for 40" and larger TVs for best video quality. The OnLive service allows users to record game clips and post them to profile pages, and it allows you to seamlessly view any live games going as an observer. It's an interesting way to decide if you want to friend someone on the service. Overall the OnLive service is impressive, and is an intriguing alternative to the big bucks you'd otherwise invest in traditional consol
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features eye-popping visuals and slick three-on-three fighting that should appeal to veterans and noobs alike. As usual the goal is to deplete the health bars of the other team while using basic attacks to power up special and team-based attacks. During battles you can tag-in anyone on your team, so management and timing is critical. The buttons in the game are mapped to light, medium and heavy attacks, as well as a special attack. Special attacks are used to launch your opponent into the air, opening the door for a host of combination and special moves where you can do a lot of damage. The game has 36 playable characters, 32 of which you can play right off the bat. The characters are evenly split between Marvel and Capcom franchises and include a nice mix of well-known characters like Spider-man, Captain America, Ryu and Chun-Li, but also a nice sampling of niche characters like Taskmaster, X-23, Arthur and Zero. The game allows you to save favorite team combinations which are easy to access in the character select screen. In terms of gameplay, the characters are varied and generally well balanced such that a fast character like Wolverine won't get pounded down by the powerful but slow Hulk. There's also a cool X-factor mode where your character temporarily becomes stronger and faster. The effect is different for each character, so choosing when to activate the power-up is strategically important. Besides the campaign mode and multiplayer, there's not a lot going on in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. There's a basic training mode and a challenge based mission mode, but it's really just a different spin on training mode. Some features we've seen in other fighting games are missing here. There's no time attack challenges, no spectator mode for online matches and no alternate costumes. All of that could be added eventually, but those are unfortunate omissions from the onset. Score: 8/10
Bulletstorm is a somewhat cheesy first-person sci-fi shooter in which you take on the role of Grayson Hunt, a man fueled by a desire for revenge and a man bent on cracking a lot of juvenile jokes. As Hunt you'll fight your way across a former resort planet that's now overrun by mutants, monsters and other bad things. The good news is that all of those make for good targets. The unique spin on combat in Bullestrom is the inclusion of an energy leash in your arsenal. The leash allows you to grab enemies and hurdle them in your direction or toss them into the air. The counter to the leash is the ability to kick an opponent away. Both actions happen in slow motion allowing you to do combos and add in fire from your traditional weapons to produce some very interesting takedowns. And how you dispatch the opposition is tallied in skillshot points, which ultimately award creativity. Extra points are awarded for using the lush and varied environments, like leashing an enemy into a metal cactus. You use skillshot points to upgrade weapons and abilities. The whole scheme is actually very addictive and satisfying as you progress in the game. Bullestorm features a multiplayer mode where you work in teams to pull off skillshots that are used to advance from one level to the next. It's not the most interesting mode after you play a few times. Unfortunately you can't play the campaign co-op, so in the end this game rests on the strength of single-player campaign. Score: 8/10