February 15, 2010

We've Moved

We have moved to a new server, and for those who watched us through feeds or used this link directly please make your way over to www.recreationalgamers.com

February 11, 2010

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Xbox 360/PS3

Overall Rating: 9.6

Author: JohnnyXeo
Genre: Action/Adventure
ESRB Rating: M for Mature

Assassin’s Creed 2 is the much anticipated second title in the Assassin’s Creed trilogy that has had me anxiously awaiting its release since shortly after I finished the first instalment. Assassin’s Creed did have its flaws, but Assassin’s Creed 2 appears to have made up for those flaws with some tweaked gameplay, new mission types and a lot more cohesion to give the game a nice glossy polish.

Presentation (9.3)

The attention to detail in this game is remarkable and the game could easily be an armchair traveller’s delight as you follow Ezio through the streets of some of Italy’s most famous locations including: Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Romagna, and Rome during the 1400’s. Everything from the masonry on the buildings, the multitude of characters including peasants, citizens, thieves, guards, doctors and even courtesans that make the streets of these cities come to life, the changing weather, the visible currents in the water and even the detailed use of shadows cast by not only the characters but the buildings and even the smallest flag hanging from above, absolutely nothing seems to have been forgotten.

However, there is not a whole lot of improvement in the graphics from AC1 that I expected with this title, released two years later. The graphics appear to have a bit more polish and any kinks that appeared in AC1 have been ironed out and there is a graphical flow through the game that works really well. As I said there was little improvement from AC1, which in a way is a great testament to how awesome the graphics were in the first game. With some of the promotional videos that were released for AC2 I was expecting some amazing in game movies/cut scenes to be viewed throughout the game, but I was left a bit disappointed when I viewed the typical graphics for this game.

One of the crowning achievements of AC2 is the overall sound presentation right down to the tiniest sound effects and the amazing voice acting. The depth of the voice cast is extensive and is full of veterans from video games and the animation industry. The experience of the cast shone through with how well their voices alone enhanced the atmosphere of the Italian communities. The voice cast is not just limited to the main characters, but to the citizens of each city or town making remarks as you bump into them, merchants selling their goods from their booths or the guards yelling at you when you scale the rooftops.

Along with the excellent voice cast comes the expansive sound effects that filled the game from the dirty side alleys to the guard covered rooftops. It is the little things like bird calls, the fluttering of sheets, the trickling of water, the steady hammer blows from the blacksmith that completed the truly Italian feel. Combat sound effects are also top notch as the clang of two swords smashing into each other or a mace thudding into the face of a guard are all very prominent when in combat and will more than likely make you cringe as you hear bones break.

Filling out the sound department is the light instrumental music along with some chanting, almost like church music that plays in the background depending on the area of the game you are. The audibility of the music depends on what is going on around you, if you are in the busy market you will hear the sounds of the market over the music and if you are sneaking around an empty church the music is more prominent.

Overall, this was one of the best developed portions of the game and really added to the depth of Assassin’s Creed 2.

Gameplay (9.5)

The story of Assassin’s Creed continues shortly after the ending of the first Assassin’s Creed where Desmond Miles, an ancestor of an assassin named Altair who lived during the times of the Holy Wars in Jerusalem uses a machine called the Animus to relive memories of his ancestors. In Assassin’s Creed you learn about an ancient and ongoing battle between the Templar’s and the Assassin’s. The Templar’s fight to bring order to the world by any means possible. The Assassin’s Order fights to keep the freedom of the people intact and out of the thumb of oppression. In Assassin’s Creed 2 Desmond is reliving the memories of another ancestor named Ezio Auditore to learn the trade of an Assassin and to solve the mysteries that have been hidden throughout the memories of Ezio by someone only known as Subject 16.

The game controls build on the excellent controls that were created for AC1 and have been tweaked to become even better. Essentially there are non-combat controls and combat controls and they are split into high and low profile manoeuvres. High profile moves draw more attention to Ezio, such as shoving, tackling and your attacks/assassinations. Low profile is the exact opposite with gentle touching, walking, jumping, etc. these moves draw less attention to Ezio.

In Assassin’s Creed you were able to blend in with a group of monks by grouping up with them and walking a pre-determined route that the monks followed. Blending has been expanded to where you can drop in and out of almost any gathering that you see from monks, two chaps sitting on a bench or a group of people chatting in a circle. Don’t forget that you can also blend into an area by hiding in a haystack, a well or a covered area on the rooftops. Courtesans are also available for hire and they will walk through the streets with you providing the perfect cover, they will even distract any guards that approach the group so that you may continue along to your intended destination.

Blending however is not guaranteed to keep you hidden from the guards as there is a new type of guard that is smarter and better at seeking you out when you are blending into the environment. How hard they search is determined by how Notorious/Incognito you are. Notoriety is determined by your actions and there are a few determining factors. If you assassinate someone in front of witnesses your notoriety will rise much faster, or if you take your time and assassinate someone inconspicuously your notoriety will still rise, but not as much. Keep in mind that the more high profile your actions are the more notoriety you will gain. However, there are ways to lower your notoriety and become more incognito by removing wanted posters, paying off heralds or killing off prominent officials.

Two other groups you can hire to help you are thieves and mercenaries. Thieves can be used to target a group of guards that they will steal from, pulling them away from their post. Mercenaries will also distract guards, but by fighting them to the death. More often than not I used the mercenaries to attack a group of guards while I walked in behind them and used my hidden blades to finish off the guards quickly. As an Assassin I often didn’t want to leave any witnesses to my nefarious deeds.

Combat has been greatly improved and upgraded from the previous Assassin’s Creed with the addition of armour, multiple weapons and more fluid controls. In AC1 you were introduced to a hidden blade, a weapon designed in a wrist guard to be hidden from view until activated. Ezio continues on with this weapon, but also gains another blade that he uses on his opposite hand to have double the killing power. The twin blades opens up some different assassination options, and are really versatile as melee weapons if used properly.

Other new weapons available include swords, hammers, small weapons (knives, daggers, and a metal cestus) and are not just limited to type but to make as well. Added into small weapons is an additional missile weapon, a pistol, which becomes available later on in the game. Each make has three attributes of damage, speed and deflect. The attributes don’t seem to make any major differences when it comes to using your weapons, but you do notice a huge difference between the weapon types. Small weapons like your daggers and throwing knives are the fastest weapons but do less damage, swords sit in the middle and hammers are the slowest but pack the biggest wallop.

Counter attacks are still one of the best offensive moves when in close combat and depending on the weapon you are using will yield different results. A natural extension to the counter attacks is unarmed combat which has received a bit more attention this time around. Unarmed combat opens the ability to disarm an opponent which I found quite useful to use when combating guards who use pole arms/spears. The timing is a bit more crucial when you want to disarm a target as the window is much smaller than counter attacks.

Along with new weapons is the four armour pieces of pauldrons, chest guards, vambraces and greaves. There are five different armour types with leather, metal, helmschmied and missaaglias available to purchase throughout the game. There is also the armor of Altair which is unlockable through collecting seals that have been hidden at the graves of the best of the best of the Assassin’s Order. Armor serves two purposes in adding damage resistance and extra health, with the extra health being the most noticeable advantage of the two. Trust me when I say it is nice to have the extra health when you make the wrong turn off the rooftop of a church and plummet to the streets.

There are several new accessories available in AC2 with medicine, poisons and smoke bombs. Medicine, as well as poison can be purchased at any of the apothecaries, or doctors that are scattered throughout the realms. Medicine is stored in a medicine pouch which can be upgraded to store more medicine as you progress through the game. Poison can be applied to your twin blades and applied gently to a target which will slowly drive them insane and they will start attacking any nearby people. This is quite useful when you have a group of guards and you want to wreak some havoc on the group.

The game is broken down into the main storyline is composed of core memories, and quite a variety of side missions that include assassination contracts, races, beat up events, and courier assignments that are secondary memories. The core memories always start at a memory start and move Ezio through the story of Assassin’s Creed 2. You are not forced to do any of the memories in any particular order and can choose the order you complete the memories. Secondary memories are indicated by the appropriate icon that is indicated on your map.

A prominent secondary memory that I enjoyed following through on is the Assassin’s Seals quest, where you have to collect five seals from the tombs of reknowned assassin’s to unlock Altiar’s armor which is locked away in the catacombs of your villa. This armor is the best in the game and is worthwhile to spend the time it takes to solve each of the puzzles that encompass each Assassin’s Tomb.

Inside your villa you will also find a wall filled with some codex pages that you will collect throughout the game, at first the codex pages provide a weapon design for your hidden blades and for every four pages you collect you gain more health. However, the codex pages are more than a means to get new weapons and health. At first you learn some of the secrets of the codex pages by bringing one to the famous artist Leonardo Davinci, who aids you in deciphering the codex’s. However, you will learn that each codex page is part of a larger puzzle and only by collecting them and posting them to the codex wall will you have a chance of solving that puzzle.

As you can see there are quite a few ways to keep your self busy besides the main memories; another fun option is to scour the cities in the search of treasure. There are many scattered treasure chests in each of the areas around Italy that are just begging to be looted. Treasure maps can be purchased from art merchants and will indicate where treasure is, but won’t really help you find where they are hidden.

Speaking of earning money, there is an additional feature to the game that I found added a nice touch to the depth of the game which is your own personal villa in Monteriggioni. As owner of the villa you can build up your city by renovating any of the following buildings: Art merchant, bank, blacksmith, doctor, tailor, brothel, mines, church, military barracks, thieves’ guild and a well (water). All of these buildings once renovated will start producing florins to add to your coffers and will become your main source of income to upgrade your equipment, restock your inventory and purchase paintings. Once renovated some of the buildings can be upgraded to produce more income or a discount off purchases at the art merchant, blacksmith, doctor and tailor.

Recreational Rating (10)

Overall, this game offered a gaming experience that allowed the player to choose the direction the game took, not only in regards to the variety of puzzles and missions that could be completed in no particular order, but also the way in which Ezio completed these missions, particularly the assassination and the courier contracts. The excellent controls really allowed you to step into the character of Ezio and along with the intriguing and in depth storyline, the gameplay experience in Assassins Creed 2 is definitely one of the best I have experienced this year.

Buy It –Try It – Forget It

In addition to the fantastic graphics found within this game, Assassins Creed 2 combines both a strong focal story mode with a vast variety of puzzles, challenges and side quests that will keep you entertained for quite some time. The graphical attention to detail and the interesting story mode really makes this game appealing. However, it is the variety of gameplay options that is truly the best feature of the game. Knowing that you can pick and choose what you complete and in what sequence gives you a large amount of freedom, makes it possible to play this game if you only have a short period of time to play and allows you not to become frustrated if you are having difficulty completing an objective because you can always move onto another challenge within the game.

January 26, 2010

We're Back

We have taken some time to get used to our new addition to the family and as a result have not been able to review any games in the meantime. Our little one is finally getting into somewhat of a schedule and we will be able to start posting some more reviews in the future.

We have a little bit of a back log in games that we have received or purchased and we will be reviewing those immediately. GamerWifeV is also going to start up a new section of the site where she will be reviewing arcade games, old and new. Arcade games are the easiest to pick up, have fun with immediately and often are much easier to play with your family. Included in the mix will be Indie Games as well, as we have found a few great family or children focused games for bargain bin prices that we feel gamers should check out.

We are still renovating our new home for Recreational Gamers, and hope to have it up and running in the second half of the year, gearing up for the holiday gaming season. In the meantime, check out all the news and reviews we find here on our blog.

December 2, 2009

New Member to the Family

Lately we haven't been posting as much content as we hoped, and it is due to our newest addition to the family with a baby boy named Hunter Logan. We have settled in with our additional duties and will be slowly be posting a couple outstanding reviews, as well as some new ones we are excited to post. Hopefully, by next weekend we will also have a Holiday Guide to help out some desperate shoppers find the right game to gift their loved ones.

Thanks for the support to all who have helped us get Recreational Gamers to where it is today, and thanks for the continued support so that we can grow even more in the next year.

New Split Second Trailer


SANTA MONICA, CA – December 1, 2009 – Clubgoers, music lovers and living room legends around the world have already started the party with DJ Hero™ and now beat chemists who have been clamoring to invite their friends to join the party can spin in harmony with a standalone turntable controller, available today from the Guitar Hero Store. With DJ competitions playing a large role in DJ culture, the inclusion of a DJ vs. DJ competitive mode in DJ Hero was a natural fit.

In the game’s multiplayer modes, two DJs can mix and scratch together on multiple turntable controllers; or using a Guitar Hero guitar controller along with a turntable controller, gamers can perform a series of infamous DJ-guitar exclusive mixes, just as many of the artists in DJ Hero have. Additionally, another player can join in at any time with a mic to emcee over any track in the game.

Guitar Hero Store / Standalone DJ Hero Turntable Controllers: http://www.guitarherostore.com/Game-Controllers/Turntable-Controllers

Expanding upon the revolutionary easy to pick up/challenging to master gameplay mechanics developed and refined in Guitar Hero®, DJ Hero delivers an all-new interactive music experience that allows players to start the party and not only experience, but to hear music in an all-new way. Featuring mixes created by DJ AM, Cut Chemist, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, J. Period, DJ Shadow, DJ Z-Trip and more, spinning over 100 individual songs, highlighted in 93 unique never-before-released mixes that blend genres of music, including hip-hop, pop, rock and dance, DJ Hero delivers the most diverse and international collection of music ever assembled in a music game by incorporating anthems from legendary artists. Created exclusively for DJ Hero, the turntable controller immerses fans into DJ culture and a sea of music as they utilize and master various DJ techniques including scratching, crossfading and sampling, while leaving room for creative expression with a variety of effects and player chosen samples and scratches, transforming a face in the crowd into the life of the party.

The DJ Hero Renegade Edition includes a copy of the game, a premium Renegade turntable controller, hardshell turntable carrying case that converts to a performance-ready DJ stand, and an exclusive JAY-Z and EMINEM 2-CD pack featuring “best of” and new, unreleased material.

Press Release

November 19, 2009

“1 vs 100” Season 2 Premieres Today! Things are About to Heat up - News

The doors to Sprint Theater open, your Avatar begins to amp, Season 2 of the hit show “1 vs 100” on Xbox LIVE premieres today! Are you ready to win?

This week, join tens of thousands of Xbox LIVE members on the largest interactive game show stage in the world, where you’ll once again be pitted against “the One,” "the Mob” or “the Crowd. ” Do you have a competitive streak? We know people love to compete and most importantly, win, so we’ve added new features that will have you jumping off the couch to answer the next trivia question.

Get the scoop by answering the following:

Question 1: You know you’re good at “1 vs 100” and you’ve got the Achievements to prove it! In Season 2, what other bragging rights will you receive?
A: You will be able to notify the people in your Xbox LIVE Party of your success by pressing a button on your controller.
B: Your Avatar will grow taller or shorter depending on how well you play.
C: You will receive Badges based on your accomplishments to show as a sign of pride.

Question 2: In “1 vs 100” Season 2, you’ll be able to keep track of how well you’ve played throughout the season by:
A: The number of golden eggs that appear at your front door.
B: A scoring ladder that illuminates when your Avatar takes the stage.
C: Which level you’re on – One through 50 – based on your score throughout the season.

Question 3: At the end of each round, how will you know how you stack up against others in your Xbox LIVE party?
A: The Avatars of everyone in your party will stand on a podium – if you’re the best, you’ll be on top!
B: The Avatar of the highest scoring player does a belly dance at the end of the round.
C: The Avatar of the highest scoring player will jump up and down in celebration.

Question 4: Avatars like to celebrate too! What will you be able to unlock for your Avatar throughout “1 vs 100” Season 2?
A: “1 vs 100” Avatar emotes – now you can really tell the crowd what you’re thinking.
B: “1 vs 100” Avatar dances – among the smooth moves, “the Carlton” and “the Elaine.”
C: New “1 vs 100” hairdos – the fohawk, the beehive and the bowl cut.

The answer to question 1 is…. C: You will receive Badges based on your accomplishments to show as a sign of pride. We love Achievements! In “1 vs 100” Season 2, Xbox LIVE will award Badges that will appear in your personal stats for outstanding accomplishments, including if your accuracy is 90% or higher.

The answer to question 2 is…. C: Which level you’re on – one through 50 – based on your score throughout the season. Want to know how well you’ve played this season? Your cumulative score determines what level you’re on from one through 50 – you know a level 50 contestant is on fire!

The answer to question 3 is…. A: The Avatars of everyone in your party will stand on a podium – if you’re the best, you’ll be on top! For instant bragging rights, if you’ve got the best score in your Xbox LIVE party at the end of the round, your Avatar will stand triumphant at the very top of a podium.

The answer to question 4 is…. B: “1 vs 100” Avatar dances – among the smooth moves, “the Carlton” and “the Elaine.” And yes, get ready to dance. Your Avatar will be breaking it down on the “1 vs 100” dance floor, with classic moves from pop-culture.

Get your game face on because the competition is going to be hot! See you at the “1 vs 100” Season 2 premiere on Xbox LIVE, today, November 19 at 5:00 pm PT.

Courtesy of Microsoft