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Who knew wrecking cars with explosions was so much fun?

8.5

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Innovative"

Summary

My god... Split Second is amazing! This game is innovative, destructive, and addictive, What more could you ask of a game? Now power plays are basically events that are designed to uberpwn your opponents! It's interesting to check out the massive variety of power plays, ranging from gas stations exploding to airplane crashes and they're all fun to trigger! I was also impressed by the power awarding system, you can get power by drifting, jumping, or drafting. Most power plays are simple explosions but some, the ones i'm really fond of, are the ones that take one hell of a lot of power to activate! These ones are HUGE like destroying cooling towers and breaking a dam. With some of these you can sometimes take out every opponent and trust me, there's nothing more satisfying than wrecking everyone in the race! The online races are fun but they take a long time to get into. The tracks are all well designed and are visually stunning! So to me split second is a great racing game that definitely deserves a place in your game library!





I just started playing this game, but already I can tell it's going to be great!

10

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Worth the wait"

Summary

I'm an artist, so this review is going to focus more on cosmetics than actual game play. Don't get me wrong, the gameplay is absolutely great. In fact, I would go as far to say that this could be the best action RPG to hit the DS so far.

At first I was a little disappointed at the limited options in editing your character. I wanted to create an outfit and customize a sword, but as I continued on in the game, I realized that your equipment changes all that stuff. So in other words, your character becomes entirely customizable.

Another great thing about this game is that you have 8 different angles you can see from in almost every place you visit. This means that town become fully 3D. If you can't see a door, just rotate the camera angle and all is well.

How about the story? I was instantly engaged in the story as a giant mystery encompasses the main character (the one you designed). What are his/her origins? What happened to people's shadows?

If you are anything like myself, you may read reviews and do research before purchasing a game. After all, dropping $35 on something you may not enjoy is a big waste of money. But I can reassure you, this is everything you would want in an action RPG game. Plus it's portable! Immerse yourself in the wonderful world found in Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadows.




Be the dragon and amass as much gold as possible through pillaging and burning.

7.0

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Great multiplayer"

Summary

Gameplay 7- The controls are simple: left stick to fly around, right stick to burn things, and other buttons are mapped well. What each does is explained in a simple tutorial. The game itself is fun, and has a great multiplayer. You fly around, burning things to collect its gold value, and take it back to your hoard to deposit it. You can make towns your 'ally' by destorying buildings other than the town center. Once you have achieved this, the town will send you regular gold tributes which helps your final score.

Towns also have minor defenses in the form of archers and knights. Their attacks are easy to avoid with enough quickness. If your dragon does get to zero life, it will automatically go back to your lair to heal, dropping any gold you were carrying.

With enough gold, dragon upgrades are available, and reset down to the minimum after each level, while this seems a strange decision, it adds to the strategy. Also in multiplayer matches everyone starts at the same strength. Medals are awarded at the end of the game depending on how much gold you have collected, and give the player something to shoot for if they like to have gold medals on every stage.

Graphics 8- Simple yet colorful isometric view of basic landscapes. It looks great on an HDTV, and even with a lot moving around the framerate stays steady. The one problem I see from this is that the text could be quite hard to read on a regular TV because of how small it is.

Sound 7- Gentle arcade tunes play in the background as you do what dragons do best. Effects are basic, they arent spectacular, but they fit the game.

Fun Factor 8- Hoard is the style of game that can be more fun when enjoyed with others. Alone it is fun, but since you are always doing the same thing and due to how simple and basic it is, might not be a game that can be played for too long in one sitting.

Replay Value 7- After a while there wont seem like much to do, unless shooting for gold medals on every level is your thing. Overall, Hoard is a simple, yet fun pick up and play game that anyone could enjoy.

Final Score - 7.4 (37/50)




Hoard is a highly addictive game where you are the dragon burning down villages, collecting gold, and much more!

8.5

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Highly addictive"

Summary

Ever since I bought Hoard for the PS3, I have been playing it for long periods of time. Like 2 hours at a time because of how addictive it is. You are a dragon that has to collect gold by burning down villages, and capturing princesses. I love how there are power-ups so you can become more fierce and I like how you can choose when to use the power-up. It doesn't start when you first get it because you have to press a button first. The maps are varied and have great detail and burning your opponents dragon so that they have to go back to their base is so fun! Online play is so awesome in Hoard. There are so many maps to choose from and I have never got bored from it. Back to single player, I love defeating the huge giant because you get so much money from him that you have to take 3 to 4 trips just to get all of the gold. I love how you can also steal gold from the other dragon when they burn a building/person down and you just fly and steel it away from them! Overall, Hoard is an addictive game that you will be sucked into for hours and hours on end!




Burn baby, burn.

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Worth playing"

Summary

When you think of dragons what comes to mind? Burning castles, knights and princesses? What about the fat stash of gold they sit on and never have the opportunity to spend? Well, if all of these images came to mind then Big Sandwich's latest downloadable helping might be down your shady back alley.

Hoard gives you complete top-down control over a dragon and sets you loose to burn havoc into the nearby farms and villages. The game's main objective is to collect as much gold as dragonly possible, return it to your lair and increase the size of your mountain of gold in ten minutes. Sounds simple enough but throw in the fact villagers fear you, knight's hunt you and fellow dragons want to turn you into a charred piece of meat, and you have yourself the closest representation of what a dragon's life would actually be like. Maybe I'm being a little too liberal with that last statement, but unless the Discovery Channel does a documentary on it I don't think it's really up for debate.

The gameplay is fun and addicting. Even though the concept is simple, it's made deep with RPG-lite elements and strategic decision-making. Dragons can upgrade their speed, damage output, gold carrying capacity or defense as they collect more gold. Each stat has its own benefits and strategies to go a long with it. Knowing when to upgrade a specific stat can vary depending on what mode you're playing or how many people you're playing with.

The strategy continues in the way the game progresses. Everything on the map has a monetary value that you can burn down and collect. Farms produce carts that travel to villages, which then produce a wagon that is worth even more. Allowing farms and villages to grow will increase the amount carts and wagons are worth. Burning them down resets that amount. Allowing a castle to evolve produces a princess that can be ransomed off for large sums of coin. Sometimes you will have to play it safe, while others you will need to get in there, burn everything down and take your weight in gold before your competitors can.

As time passes, you will be rewarded with a multiplier, which maxes out at three. Keeping the multiplier active is a huge help when racking in the cash, so you may not always want to go in to situations mouths blazing. With that in mind, taking too much damage will cause you to drop what you're carrying and lose your multiplier. Don't worry, after a set amount of time the multiplier will make its way back up. If you're feeling extra sinister, dragons can harass and terrorize a village in hopes of scaring them into sending regular tributes to your liar. The dragon with the most damage done to a village, without completely destroying it, will receive carts filled with cash at regular intervals as long as they remain in control of it. Not only that, any defenses surrounding the town will no longer attack your dragon. Not a bad deal for a few seconds of terror.

The game is broken into four different game modes, each with its own set of maps and objectives. On last count, there are roughly 36 maps to conquer. The most common game mode, however, is Treasure, which pits you against up to four other dragons in a race for the highest score. Co-op changes things up a bit by giving players a single liar and asks them to collectively accumulate as much treasure as possible. Mentioning that there's co-op should have perked up a few ears. It doesn't stop there folks. Even though Hoard is a downloadable game, Big Sandwich made sure to pack it with the thickest of multiplayer meats to increase its gaming life span on and offline. Hoard comes equipped with four player local multiplayer. Not only can you take your gaming online, those friends sitting beside you on the couch can tag along too.

Unfortunately, multiplayer isn't without its faults. Having more than one dragon on the same console causes the camera to zoom out to keep all players on the screen, making it difficult to see what's really happening. Although this is a minor issue, there have been plenty of times where I've died because I couldn't see what I was about to fly into. A few other issues I ran into were the lack of players online. I'm sure they are out there but there's no way to tell. What ever happened to the lobby systems of old? Low budget games tend to have a small player base, making it hard to set these games up, but a lobby system would most likely remedy that. However, the few games I have managed to get in on have ran smoothly. No hiccups, drops in frame rate or random booting of players.

The overall package of the game is fairly solid. The art direction is mostly taken from pre-existing sources, with nothing overly original added in, but how many times can you recreate what an archer looks like from the 1500's? As for technical issues, there have been a few. I've lost control of my dragon a couple of times where it would try and fly off the screen, forcing me to restart. The game has also randomly restarted itself after completing a map. I'm sure these glitches are temporary and will soon be patched out.

The graphics aren't anything that's going to push the limits of the Playstation, but what you're given is fairly adequate for a downloadable game. The game is made to look like a tabletop board game with castles, mountains and rivers strung through it. However, the bland graphics and top down view take away from any sort of depth. Even though you're flying, everything still looks like it is taking place on the ground. When things get a little chaotic, you will find yourself scrambling to escape from being mowed down by charging knights and balls of magic.

The sound is perhaps the weakest part of the game. The musical score is a strange beast. At times it fits the era the game is taking place in, while other times the bards slip their dancing shoes on and rock a synthesizer. The songs are relatively short and on repeat as well. After a while you might want to shut the music off entirely to save yourself the trouble of being haunted by that pan flute riff you've heard for the last hour. The sound effects do their job, although, can be a little too loud at times. There have been a few moments where I've been blown out of my seat from an unexpected explosion of sound. Beware.

Perhaps my favourite part of the game is when you're making a deposit at your hoard and it sounds like a slot machine paying out. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing that. You could be filling your car with outrageously priced gas and as long as the pump plays that sound, you would drive away feeling like you beat the odds.

Conclusion:
Hoard is a great game to just sit down and play alone or with friends. Its main drawback is the price. Clocking in at $14.99, it's a little overpriced for what it is. There's no doubt it will provide hours of game play but with a $9.99 price tag, this package would become the perfect balance. Hoard is unique, easy to grasp and a lot of fun in the right hands. No game is without its flaws but Big Sandwich Games has definitely come up with something any casual to hardcore gamer can enjoy.
7.5

Great
7.5
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