Captain Buttbeard's Gaming Corner

Currently playing
PlayStation 2: SkyGunner
Xbox: Phantom Crash; Serious Sam
Xbox 360: Earth Defense Force 2025; Ninety-Nine Nights

Fable II (Xbox 360)

Developer: Lionhead Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Released: 2008

Genre: Action role-playing
Fable II

Alter Echo (Xbox)

Developer: Outrage Games

Publisher: THQ

Released: 2003

Genre: Action-adventure
Alter Echo
I had no idea this game exists, I found it when I was looking through a list of games from 2003. It looked so cool and interesting in this weird alien world so I had to try it out. Apparently some new material called plast was discovered on a planet, and some people (shapers) have the power to create new things out of it with their minds or something like that, it was really confusing and didn't make much sense anyway. One of this shaper turns evil and creates a new material out of it called echoplast which gains consciousness and asks the main protagonist Nevin to help him defeat the bad guy. As I said it takes place in a weird as fuck alien world, where the whole planet is covered by this echoplast, with its weird shapes and colors, the graphics aren't that great but still it's visually impressive. Levels can be a bit samey looking, even when you are underground or inside some building, and they are usually really short, just a few minutes long but there are a lot of them and they are grouped together in different chapters. I almost dropped the game immediately when I started playing because it has an inverted camera which you can't change! Seriously fuck every single developer who does this shit, what the fuck were they thinking? I stopped playing games before because of this, the only reason I continued this one is because the game automatically locks on to enemies, so even if I can't see shit I will still hit them. Doesn't matter how much I played I couldn't adapt to it. But combat was pretty meh anyway. Nevin has a sword he can fight with and use combos but his suit can morph into 2 other forms, a huge but very slow gun form where you can shoot enemies and a frog looking thing where you can use stealth and walk on platforms on walls just like in Prey lol, this form had the best attack where you can just jump on to some enemies and hit them because they can't damage you this way. Some enemies are immune to certain forms so you have to keep switching between them and that just made everything harder, especially when these nodes covered by a shield spams them, and you can't destroy it until a certain number of enemies are killed. You get green orbs from defeating enemies and you can use those to purchase new combos or more health at the end of chapters, but I just focused on improving the attack power and the health because it's just hard to execute elaborate combos with all those enemies around you. Sometimes there is an AI ally with you and that helps a little bit. There is also this time dilation thing, which is a minigame where you need to navigate an arrow that goes faster and faster to hit enemies, but it was so hard to do. You need to do the same thing to activate switches but it's harder there because you can hit walls, I just hate shitty minigames like that. And the shitty camera and combat just makes boss fights insanely hard, I don't even know how many times I retried that one with the clones. There are some couple extras you don't even need to unlock, trailers, making of videos, the most interesting was the music one. The game has this cool I guess industrial alien sounding music, and it was nice to see how they made it, plus they gave you two tracks with visualizer you can listen to. Anyway even if the camera wasn't inverted it would have been just a mediocre game, but I guess it still looks pretty interesting visually.
Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2)

Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan

Publisher: Konami

Released: 2001

Genre: Third-person shooter, hack and slash
Zone of the Enders
I didn't really know about this game until I was looking for Xbox 360 games to play, as it came out later on the system as part of an HD Collection. It didn't look that interesting to waste a DVD, but when I was going through lists of PlayStation 2 games I decided to play it, mostly because the gameplay looked like the final boss battle from Lost Planet: Extreme Condition lmao which I loved. And I was right, it's a cool mech game. It's also the first Kojima game I've played, though I'm not sure how much he actually worked on it. The manual has a lot of history of the game's world, I guess that's pretty cool but it was so much I could barely remember any details, the only thing that important is that there is a conflict between Earth and the other colonies in the Solar System. The story takes place on a space colony near Jupiter, where I guess Mars' military attacks the colony to find an advanced mech (they call them orbital frames in this game). You are playing as Leo, a kid who witnesses his friends killed by the enemy, and as he tries to escape he accidentally falls into the mech they were looking for and activates the AI called Ada. The goal is basically to fight through the colony to deliver the mech to the good guys who will transport it away. The kid really doesn't want to fight and kill people so he is constantly arguing with the AI, but by the end he is ready to sacrifice himself. The graphics are pretty good, the colony is an awesome cyberpunk looking place, and the characters have this anime styled 3D look. The music in the main menu is playing backwards and it makes it so mysterious sounding. It's not your usual mech game, the focus is more on melee combat than on your guns, so it's more like a hack and slash game. You are basically hovering and flying through a map of the colony, where you can enter an area to fight enemy mechs. The controls were a bit weird and it took some time to get used to them, but there is a nice tutorial that explains everything. Besides the combat you can collect passcodes from defeated enemies (along with health and ammo for weapons) and you can use those on computers to obtain a new program or a new weapon. There are a lot of secondary weapons you can use, like javelin, sniper, machine gun or a repair "gun", but I very rarely used them, mostly just during boss fights. There are also these porter shits you need to shot down to reveal hidden things, but this is where you notice the biggest problem of the game: the camera is just so fucking awful. It doesn't make a difference during combat because you lock on to enemies, but you can't do that with porters and it keeps moving back when you try to look to another direction, so you have to face the target which was also not easy to do in a game with fast movements, it was so frustrating. Sometimes you get these optional missions where you can travel to an area to save civilians, and you get a rating based on how many of them you saved and how much buildings you destroyed or damaged. I had a hard time saving everyone and everything lol but I got better at it by the end. I also struggled with the first boss, but the rest of them were easier - the key is to keep moving, but this also applies to normal enemies. The final boss fight had an interesting concept, basically you can't damage him as he is more powerful than you, all you have to do is to survive until the final cutscene happens. And the way they said you are not ready to face him yet implies that he is gonna be the main antagonist of the sequel. It's a short game but it was pretty much what I expected, so I'm looking forward to play the next one. 2021/05/21
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter (Xbox)

Developer: Warthog Games

Publisher: Black Label Games

Released: 2003

Genre: First-person shooter
Mace Griffin:
Bounty Hunter
I remember seeing news and screenshots of this game in the magazine I bought and I thought wow a bounty hunting space game that sounds cool as fuck. So I always wanted to play this, it was one the first games I wanted to try when I modded my Xbox, but it couldn't fit in the stock hard drive. The story is about this wrongfully convicted soldier (voiced by Henry Rollins) who is finally free after 10 years in prison, and becomes a bounty hunter and wants revenge on the people who set him up or something. It was a bit hard to follow, there are no subtitles of course and the radio is quieter, thank god for the last cutscene though for explaining what the fuck was happening because I wasn't really sure lmao. So the unique thing about this game is how you can just enter your ship and fly out of the space station, all without a loading screen, you can even walk inside your ship (there isn't much to do there besides picking up ammo), it's pretty impressive. Shame that space combat fucking sucks, it's just waves and waves of ships you need to shot down, and the default controls were awful but you can change it in the settings. You can adjust the speed, you can even stop and hover or reverse, but it's still kinda weird to control. Luckily they are usually small parts of missions and most of the time you are on foot. The gunplay isn't the best, aiming is slow as fuck and enemies are bullet sponges. The guns are fucking cool though, and for some reason they all look really good graphically (not that the game looks ugly, but it can be a bit bland and the characters aren't the best looking). They have secondary fire too, and you can lock onto enemies, which kinda works like a slight auto aim. Also this game has the best sniper rifle I've ever seen, you can smoothly zoom in all the way through, it was so easy to use. But the trend of godawful shotguns continue in this game too, I don't know why the fuck was this happening in the early 2000s. Sometimes during heavy firefights the HUD starts moving and shaking too, it was really cool. Besides your health you have a regenerating shield (on your ship too), and you can pick up medkits and ammo from wooden crates or from some rooms. Missions start with you flying your spaceship, then either fighting your way through or just docking to space stations, asteriod colonies or giant ships. Some of the enemies are interesting, like those cultists who wear a screen on their head with a smiley face lmao, but most of them were kinda boring, and as I said they take a lot of bullets. Those fuckers hiding with their rocket launchers are the worst, you can't save manually and sometimes there is a lot happening between checkpoints. At least you have those and don't have to restart, because missions are just so fucking tideously long, like over an hour long, they just go on and on and on and the game itself is pretty long too, and not easy at all, especially when there is a timer or you have to escort or defend an NPC. It's very linear, like mostly you can only go one way, but there are things you wouldn't expect normally so sometimes it's hard to find where to go next, like where you have to do some platforming (which wasn't very good), ride in carts and shit, or jump to the water from a cliff. This kinda reminded me of Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, which I absolutely loved. And it's a bit buggy too, one time I fell out of the map lol, or enemies just didn't see or react to me. The last mission was really weird, you go through a portal to some trippy ghost alien race's ship, and those fuckers can kill you really fast, I died there the most. Honestly it's not a great game or anything, but I really appreciated it and its kinda old school (well to me at least) level design. So fuck it, I liked it.
Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox 360)

Developer: EA DICE

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Released: 2008

Genre: First-person shooter, tactical shooter
Battlefield: Bad
This is the first Battlefield game I've played. I remember seeing Battlefield 2: Modern Combat in stores and I wanted to play it so badly, it looked so cool but I couldn't afford the game (I'm gonna play it at some point on Xbox though). I wasn't sure if I should play this one though, I knew it was made for consoles with a proper campaign but these kind of FPS games are always so fucking short. But it looked fun so I decided to play it. You are part of the Bad Company, a military unit where the lowest of the low are assigned to. Basically the US Army is using your unit as cannon fodder in a war with Russia. Your teammates are kinda crazy but funny too, I thought the story and the characters were a lot of fun (it sucks there aren't any subtitles, sometimes it's hard to follow the conversations, on default the sounds were really quiet too). The graphics are pretty good with a film grain to make it more cinematic looking I guess. There are only a few missions, but they are really long. You play on a huge map with a lot of objectives you need to complete and it opens up more and more of the map. They are usually about going from town to town and from building to building, killing enemies or blowing shit up. The game has awesome destruction physics, you can destroy so many buildings, trees and shit like that. You can only carry one weapon, but you also have a knife and you can pick up an extra item, that can be a drill to repair vehicles, an RPG, explosives, or my favorite a little device you can use to call artillery strikes lmao, deytroying fucking everything with it was so much fun. You also have an item to restore your health, which you can use as much as you want but it has a time limit. If you somehow still die, you teleport back to the last savepoint, but with all your progress so technically there is no penalty for dying. There are also vehicles you can use, like tanks or armored cars, boats, helicopters etc., and you can listen to the radio in them lol. Vehicle controls were a bit weird and it took some time to get used to them (especially the helicopter), but sometimes they got stuck on tiny obstacles (especially tanks) which was really annoying. Most of the time your squadmates are fighting with you, but there is a mission where you are alone and you are trying to find them. It was kinda weird how they just teleported right in the vehicle when you entered one, even if they were far away. After the first mission you find out a mercenary unit, which is famous for getting paid in gold bars, is also there. So naturally you say fuck this war, and start chasing the mercenaries to find their gold stash, and in the process you manage to invade a neutral country lmao. The gold bars are one of the collectibles, the other ones are weapons which I guess you unlock for multiplayer after you find them. It's weird that I found almost every weapon but for some reason I barely found any gold. One thing that I really didn't like was the aiming, for some reason left and right were more sensitive than up or down and there wasn't any option to change sensitivity, luckily there is a slight auto aim and that helped a bit. So yeah it was a good game and a lot of fun, but it was really short, unfortunately that became a problem during that time as these games were more about the multiplayer. 2021/04/28
Rez (PlayStation 2)

Developer: United Game Artists

Publisher: Sega

Released: 2002

Genre: Rail shooter, music
I have no idea if I knew about this game or not, but I read about it in a local magazine recently. It was reviewed twice, for some reason they gave it to the sport game dudebro who gave it 1 point, said it's a shame that something like this could come out and that it has no values. Then in the next issue this guy who wrote incredible reviews of Japanese games gave it a 9, explaining how it's an artistic game and an incredible experience. I guess I could compare the entire game to the computer level of Panzer Dragoon Orta, which probably was my favorite part of that game. I absolutely love the visuals, it has this 80s cyberspace look with some of that Y2K aesthetics, and then those digital ancient Egyptian or Babylonian buildings, it's fucking awesome. It's a pretty short game, you have 5 levels with 10 layers, each with different enemies, music and visuals. As you shoot down enemies you create the electronic music of the game and your controller vibrates to the beat, in an attempt to achieve synesthesia. It's an interesting idea, but all it could achieve was hurting my hand lol (seriously what's up with this controller, it vibrates so hard). Sometimes enemies drop these blue and red orbs you can target and pick up, blue is basically XP, when you collect enough you level up, but just one hit takes down an entire level so you gotta be fast, and the red ones are for the overdrive attack, where you auto target the enemies and just spam lasers. I love how ridiculously simple the controls are, there are only 3 buttons you can use lol, left stick for aiming, X for laser and O overdrive, that's it lmao. Every level ends with a boss fight, they are all really unique but they can be really hard. If you continue playing after completing a level you can keep all your experience, but quitting means you lose all of it and that makes the game really hard. I should talk about the story too, which really doesn't come up until the last level. There is this supercomputer with an AI which gains consciousness then shuts itself down. You are trying to hack into the system to restart it, and your avatar goes through these viruses and security systems to reach the AI. The last level is really different, instead of the ancient buildings and city like cyberspace it's all nature themed, and you are going through the phases of creation and life. After the usual layers you have to fight the previous bosses again, but it's not that hard this time - unlike the final boss where you are trying to restart the AI, it's fucking brutal. I couldn't do it but turned out failing is also an ending, knowing myself there is no way I could get the good ending so I just accepted it. Still it was an incredible visual experience, I'm really liking these artistic games the PlayStation 2 has to offer.
Monster Attack (PlayStation 2)

Developer: Sandlot

Publisher: Agetec

Released: 2004

Genre: Third-person shooter
Monster Attack
Aka the first Earth Defense Force game. Earth Defense Force 2025 is the reason I started using my Xbox 360 again. I was watching videos on a gaming channel and they played that game and I loved it so much, I found out it's also on the console so I had to get a DVD. Now I'm still playing that game years later, because it's not something I would play every day for an hour, just when I'm bored and want some mindless fun, and also because I want to play with all the classes first before I feel like I'm done with it. This is the game I used to test OPL when I got my PlayStation 2, then I decided might as well just play through it cause it's only 25 missions. It's hilarious how little changed since this game though, I mean it's simple as fuck (it's part of the Simple Series after all lol) but you are still killing giant ants and UFOs (in cheap looking green and purple colors lol) and picking up armor, weapons and health (they are like JPG sprites lol), and even have some of the same weapons and sounds lmao. The music is pretty cool 50s sci fi inspired and there is also a letterbox to add to that movie feeling, but there is no radio chatter in this so it feels emptier. You got the same destruction where you can destroy any building so that's impressive, but the framerate drops and slowdowns can be so bad. There is only one class in this one (the soldier) but almost every map has vehicles you can drive too, like tanks and helicopters (which somehow don't have crosshairs so they are kinda useless). But the default controls are so fucking bad holy shit, thank god you can change it to modern controls but I just don't understand why they would use something similar to mid 90s 3D game controls as the default. The missions are very basic and simple, of course almost always your goal is to kill every enemy to complete them, and some of them were almost the same as in Earth Defense Force 2025 lmao, like when you are at the beach or in a destroyed city and killing waves of ants. I love how ridiculous the boss fights are too, you are fighting fucking Godzilla lmao, then next time there are two Godzillas, then a fucking armored mega Godzilla lol. Of course the final boss is a mothership. I swear they just keep remaking the same game with some changes and more missions. But is that a bad thing? Not for a small and fun budget game like this. Cause it's just mindless, dumb fun and a perfect timewaster, and that's all that matters. I just wish half of every mission wouldn't be about collecting pickups, cause it takes ages to run around the map. 2021/04/19
Burnout 2: Point of Impact (Xbox)

Developer: Criterion Games

Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment

Released: 2003

Genre: Racing
Burnout 2: Point
of Impact
Now this is how you make a sequel. Not only they improved everything and added more stuff, they also perfected the concept of the first game. The game starts with Offensive Driving 101, which basically the turorial you need to finish before you can do anything. Some of the new stuff you can already see in the tutorial: you earn medals now (bronze, silver, gold) and have more ways to earn boost (jumps, perfect laps without crashes). The Championship mode works a bit differently now, instead of required places you earn medals and points after every race, so in theory you don't have to win all of them, you just gotta make sure to have the most points in the end. It still looks like the first game, but they improved the graphics and there are more things happening on the map (like planes flying on the airport track). Also the race tracks feel less generic now and more unique, the first game was more European based, but this takes place on the US West Coast, with deserts, mountains, ski resorts, a huge dam and of course Californian cities. The music is a lot better, more rock themed and guitar heavy, and it gets louder and heavier when you boost. There are still no car brands just generic models, but there are a lot more of them with some cooler skins. They also have 3 stats now (acceleration, control, top speed) instead of just how difficult it is to drive them (my favorite was the Supercar, it had the most balanced stats). You unlock more cars with the Face/Off mode and a new mode called Pursuit, where you are a cop and you need to crash into the other vehicle to lower its health bar and destroy it (this one was really hard because the AI is cheating like crazy). The difference is these new modes are integrated into the Championship mode, and you unlock them by earning gold medals in all races. Once you finish these modes there you unlock them separately and you can play them on any of the tracks you finished (there is also a Time Attack mode, which I forgot to mention was in the previous game too, where you drive alone and are just trying to beat the time limit, I didn't care for it). You still race with only 3 other cars, but they improved the driving a lot. It just feels so much better and faster with more opportunities to boost, jump and drift, and it's easier to avoid crashes as you don't crash from bumping into cars. Sometimes it gets really chaotic when you chain your boosts together but it's just so much fun lol. It feels like there are less checkpoints with more time between them, and you can see how many seconds the next car is ahead or behind you when you drive through it, that was a really helpful addition. Beating the Championship mode unlocks the Custom Championship, where I guess you race with the unlocked faster cars on mostly reversed tracks against the traffic, so it should be harder (honestly I got gold medals on most of the races first try, I don't know if I have some hidden talent for these kind of games or if it's just that easy). One thing that didn't make sense to me in the first game was how you earn money for crashes when they should be avoided. This is the best change in the game, they added a new Crash mode where your goal is to cause huge crashes with multiple vehicles. They only take like a minute and you need at least a bronze medal to complete them and unlock the next couple ones. Crashes look more detailed now and it can be really fun to see a shitton of cars and buses crash into each other when you cause an accident. The multiplayer also includes this, along with the Pursuit mode. As always the Xbox version is the best with more skins and twice as many crashes you can complete. I feel like they perfected the formula introduced in the first game, the next one looks really different from what I've seen so I expect big changes there.
The Saboteur (Xbox 360)

Developer: Pandemic Studios

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Released: 2009

Genre: Action-adventure
The Saboteur
The last game made by Pandemic Studios. They made my favorite game of all time (Star Wars: Battlefront) so I always liked them. I remember one of my cousin's relative told me he is playing this game and it's so cool so I installed it on PC. I don't think I played it much, I remember doing the race at the beginning and some missions but it felt so boring and uninteresting to me. I'm not sure if I would have played it now if it didn't come with my Xbox 360 when I bought it. You are playing an Irish racer called Sean, who finds himself trapped in Paris when the war breaks out after the Aryan posterboy nazi racer wins by cheating and kills your friend. You join the resistance to have revenge on him after a long as fuck prologue. This game is basically Assassin's Creed in WW2 lol, you can climb up to the top of the buildings and jump from roof to roof, or slide down. As you can guess most of the game is sabotaging and bombing stuff. You can destroy so many things, propaganda radios, sniper towers, fuel depots, tanks, zeppelins etc. and they don't respawn. You get contraband for it, and that's basically the money in this game, you can find them in crates too, or when you find postcards or the eagle tower equivalent of this game lol. You can use them to buy new weapons, ammo, cars or upgrades from the black market. You can also spawn partisans to help you fight nazis. You can only carry two guns and two explosives, you can choose from snipers, pistols, machine guns, shotguns etc., later you get some really powerful ones from the terror nazis (those fuckers are tough). The gunplay is alright, but there is not much weight to it, just like to melee combat, jumping and climbing, or driving, it felt really weird. Most of the time you need to use stealth to complete missions or to make them easier, because once the nazis are alerted they swarm you and can fuck you up easily, luckily your health regenerates. You can wear nazi uniforms so that was cool, but they can still recognize you if you go too close so most of the times you can only rely on stealth for the first half of the missions. There are perks you can unlock, they all have requirements and they either improve your stats, unlock new attacks or weapons, and cars. For example sniping was awful but unlocking a perk by sniping a few nazis reduces the recoil. It's kinda like Grand Theft Auto in a way, sometimes you have more than one mission to choose from, and there are also secondary missions. They are mostly the same as you usually sabotage something or assassinate someone, but the locations are cool so it doesn't feel always the same. You can go outside of Paris to villages, but they are supposed to be other French regions lol. And there are some side activities you can do like bird hunting, or racing. What makes this game really unique is the visuals: the world is in black and white with dark clouds and only a few colors like red (representing the nazis), blue (the partisans) and yellow for the light. It looked awesome and combined with the jazz music it gives a game a special athmosphere. As you progress through the missions and blow up something big you liberate areas (well sort of, they still have nazis) and the color returns to that place with an explosion and a clear sky, representing how hope returns, it was really cool. The final mission is basically a huge uprising in Paris, with fighting and destroyed zeppelins and vehicles everywhere, and you get ready for the ultimate battle on the top of the Eiffel Tower, but you just walk there and kill the main villian with a headshot, normally I would say it's really underwhelming but it felt satisfying here, it was very cinematic. The game was a bit short, and I guess all those things you can blow up are there to extend the gameplay but there is really not much of a reason to destroy them other than a few ones when you run out of contrabands. And the game is kinda glitchy and felt unfinished and a bit empty, and I'm pretty sure it's because Pandemic Studios closed a few months before the game was released. Seriously fuck EA for killing them. 2021/04/10

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