Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Season XBL Arcade Titles to Buy

If you've got Microsoft points to burn, there are titles on the marketplace you don't want to miss. Some are old school but just as fun as they were 20 years ago. Others are part of the newer Indie games, and have great graphics. Either way, storylines are usually lacking. That doesn't take away from the games though. These games are usually meant to be a a few hours of fun, for a much cheaper price than a full title. They are not in order of best to worst, it's just how I put them on my list. Here are my Top Picks for this season.

1) Shadow Complex - Chair Games (1200 MSP)

A good old-fashioned side scroller, this game offers high tech weaponry and some very devious corridors. You will find yourself going through the same part of the map over and over trying to find hidden power-ups, not to mention sometimes just getting lost. The story is a little bland. Girlfriend gets kidnapped by fanatical terrorists bent on taking over the United States by destroying whole cities. They have advanced weaponry including prototype super suits that increase strength and speed as well as containing multiple built-in guns. Rocket launchers? Yes please.

It's a good game and a lot of fun. Completing it is a colossal pain though, since you have to get 100% of the items in one playthrough. It's very troll because if you get to the end boss, you can't turn around and leave the area. All in all this game is definitely one of the best Arcade title out there.

2) Limbo - Playdead (1200 MSP)

There is only one way to describe this game. Extremely morbid. I've played some pretty gruesome games before, but this one may take the cake. Death, dismemberment, and overwhelming odds make this game both intriguing and miserable. Let me warn you now. You will die. A lot. There is no escaping it.

The story is basic. Your sister is lost and you have to travel Limbo to find her. You will have to use your wits to solve puzzles that make you want to just hang yourself and get it over with. I admit, I actually had to use Google to get past one extremely problematic area, and it's a good thing I did. I never would have figured it out. It's definitely a fun game, but it's very dark, both in color scheme which is black and white with many parts of the world where the camera is unfocused, and the tone which requires you to avoid death and sometimes kill others. If you want a puzzle platformer that involves lots of dying, this is the game for you.

3) Minecraft - 4J Studios/Mojang (1600 MSP)

The most ridiculous time consuming game in the world, it beats both the Sims and The Elder Scrolls. You can spend hundreds of hours doing nothing but mining the world before you even consider building anything. Minecraft is essentially Mine items and Craft structures (obviously). The game is better played against monsters, since you are under time constraints to build your house before nightfall. A temporary house is useful and will protect you through the night. Make sure you have torches. Monsters can come through the wall if you don't.

If freedom to create is your style, there is now a creative mode, where you are given unlimited blocks and the ability to fly. The game is addictive and you will spend hours where you might be doing absolutely nothing except random digging to find natural caves. This game is well worth the money and will keep you entertained for months. Just remember the first two rules of Minecraft. 1) Never dig straight down. 2) Never dig straight up. Falling in lava or being buried in blocks ain't exactly a picnic.

4) Braid - Number None, Inc. (800 MSP)

Braid is essentially an upgraded Irish version of Super Mario Brothers. You side scroll through different areas, jump on top of round goombas (which give you a jump boost), collect puzzle pieces in lieu of coins, and there's even a nice Dinosaur that tells you the Princess is in another castle. You know what Dinosaur, I'm gonna give you a name. How does "Toad" sound?

The greatest part about this game is it doesn't use a life system. Instead, when you die, you reverse time to the point before you die, or even further back than that. It's also handy if you miss a jump, since you can rewind again and again. The music is good and the graphics are pretty decent. I'd definitely give this a go, or at least give the trial a run through to see if you like it.

5) Orcs Must Die - Robot Entertainment (1200 MSP)

Orcs have overrun the, well I'm unsure what they've overrun. The story isn't exactly clear. You are a novice War Mage who never paid attention to his training. You're more of a rock star than someone who deals in sorcery. This doesn't mean you are weak, since you have a large amount of spells and weapons you have at your disposal, as well as dozens of traps and sentries you can build and hire.

The first few levels are a straight away corridor setting. Stop them from getting to the portal (I think it's a portal. It's a big glowing magical crystal or something) by any means necessary. The next levels have multiple paths and require you to run back and forth shooting and looting health and magic potions. The enemies get bigger and more difficult as time goes on. Headshots are your friend so make sure you practice with your crossbow since it will be your main weapon through most of the game. If you have time to kill while you are waiting for friends to play with, this game is an excellent way to spend it.

6) Doom - id Software (400 MSP)

This game is a classic from the old PC days. I first played it as a very young child and it was actually a very scary game. The graphics at that time were great. Nowadays they suck, but this game feels more like a nostalgia title more than anything. But what a game it is.

You have to face off against the armies of Hell, including your own marines who have become undead slaves. Creepy fireball throwing monsters are also in abundance and they pop out of hidden panels all the time. Giant pig-headed creatures also have infested the base, and while these are easy to take down, they have invisible versions as well. They are easy to see if you know what you're looking for, but they also can hit you from behind doing a large amount of damage. If you like nostalgia, this is a great game.

7) Duke Nukem 3D -3D Realms (800 MSP)

Ah the infamous Duke. This guy has been a staple of video game history for years. While the recent "Duke Nukem Forever" was not a huge success, this older title is still a great game. I missed the PC version, but I played the N64 version almost every day after school. The enemies, the weapons, the strip clubs... All of these were a great experience (although the strip clubs left a lot to be desired if you know what I mean).

Pipe bombs, freeze guns, shrink rays, jetpacks. Duke has em all. The rewindable death system is a nice touch and doesn't make it seem like you wasted the last twenty minutes of your life. Clip recording and sharing is a great new feature, but the biggest addition is the XBL multiplayer. Whether it's co-op or DukeMatch, this game is more fun with friends. It's a steal at only 800 MSP, and still enjoyable 15 years later.

8) Wolfenstein 3D - id Software (400 MSP)

Another PC classic, this game lets you beat up and destroy Nazis. You wont find Nazi Zombies, so I apologize for some of you COD fans. This game practically launched the FPS genre, and for good reason. It's still a great game even as old as it is. As a super agent, you must escape Castle Wolfenstein after learning Nazi secrets. They aren't gonna let you just walk out the door, so killing it is.

You can find special weapons, health packs, and treasure in hidden areas, usually a panel in the wall, or behind large posters. These also may provide shortcuts, bypassing troops and popping out behind enemies for an easy kill. The game's graphics are about what you would figure for something this old, but they really don't matter when it comes to enjoyment. If you have 400 MSP, it's a great pick-up.

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