Capsule Reviews 2: A Few More Games? Okay, Let’s Go

More bite-sized review bits? Sure, why not?

Onechanbara Z2 gals 

Onechanbara ZII Chaos (PS4, $49.99) – Budget game developer Tamsoft gets its sexy ladies onto the PS4 in a game that’s going to be loved and hated by gamers for a few reasons. While it has a super smooth 60fps frame rate, the cheesy music rocks somewhat firecely and the action is nearly non-stop (and supremely gory), it’s easy to see the easily ticked off whiny westerners losing their minds over the skimpy costumes and all-out fan service on display. Bikini, schoolgirl outfit and other fantasy femme tropes get trotted out (and that optional Banana Split pack bonus costume is too racy to show here), but the ladies are far from the helpless princess stereotype at all. Aya, Saki and the rest of the crew have been zombie killing for about a decade since their introduction on the PlayStation 2 and later Xbox 360 and Wii Onechanbara titles, so this one’s just their best looking adventure to date. While the game seems a tad on the short side, the reply value comes from unlocking outfits and having at stages again so you can better your score jut like arcade games of old. Then again, every Onechanbara game is pretty much the same: kill plenty of zombies before they kill your gal of choice and have a BIG grin on your face while doing so. Score: B (80%) 

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DiRT Rally: Codemasters Kicks It Old School In Its Early Access Racer


 

Awesome. I haven’t even played DiRT Rally yet but I already know it’s going to make a LOT of rally fans very happy. No crazy Gymkhana mode, no “celebrity” drivers, ALL rally all the time and with more realistic controls and car damage? Sign me up, stat! I checked out the Steam page for the game just now and the overwhelming positive response to the game even in its early access state is so positive that it seems Codemasters has gone and made people who are completely new to rally games appreciate the intensity and high difficulty curve (pun intended) not seen in years from the series.

Of course, Codemasters surprised plenty of folks by announcing the game was out now (again, as a work in progress). So I’m betting they’re using all that early feedback to make it a lot better before (hopefully) announcing some console versions. As long as the final version is pure rally and isn’t packing any X-Games style nonsense, I’m in for the long haul.

F1 2014: A Little Heat For A Slow, Cool Friday…


 

You’re looking a wee bit tired on this slightly chilly Friday, friend. How about a hot lap around Sochi to perk things up a bit? Based on user feedback, Codemasters Racing Studio is making F1 2014 an even more accessible game this year with a few changes to the formula including a new driver evaluation system to adjust the game to your level, shorter career options and a new Very Easy mode. While I know some purists will complain about these inclusions, it opens up the game (and the actual sport) to an even larger user base with the hope that those newbies learn the ropes, dial up the difficulty at some point and enjoy the sport as it’s meant to be. Unforgiving and heavily reliant on one’s skill as a driver, not just jamming on the accelerator and knocking AI cars around in an all-out bumper car match. This one’s out on October 17, 2017 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Yes, Codemasters is working on an all-new F1 game for PS4 and Xbox One, so you next-gen owners will need to hold that breath for a bit until 2015 rolls around…

Codemasters Gets Me Rally Longing For The Good Old Days…

I think someone at Codemasters is psychic. Last week, I broke out both Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 just to dive in for a bit and see if they still held up today and yes indeed, they do. While the series went through some big changes as the series moved to new platforms, there was always a solid sense of fun and challenge that made each installment thrilling to blaze through. When the series changed its name to DiRT and its direction to a “cooler” racer in order to rope in younger fans of the X Games or other extreme sports, things definitely slid a bit sideways. The last few installments are all great looking games, but to me, there’s something missing… a certain spirit, if you will. Granted, Colin McRae is no longer with us, so that’s probably the missing element those later games haven’t been able to capture. Seeing that intro video above and playing the game for a little while made me hope Codemasters will go back to the drawing board and deliver a rally game that’s as fun and wickedly addictive as the first few in the series. Strip it down, but make it rich with detail, lose the big social focus (or make it completely optional) and maybe even bring back the goofy bonuses from the older titles just because it’s great to see a surprise ride or three after a ton of hard work.

GRID Autosport Launch Trailer – You’ll Be Driven Wild And Love Every Minute…

 
Well, well, well… my review copy of GRID Autosport arrived earlier today and as I didn’t expect it until later in the week, I ended up NOT getting any work done because I’ve been “out” driving for most of this afternoon. So far, it’s quite lovely, the inside the car views are back, the AI is pretty fierce and the hours will FLY by once you pop this game into your PS3, Xbox 360 or PC. I’ll try and get a more comprehensive review up this weekend, but for now you need this game if you’re a car nut and fan of Codemasters’ Racing Studio’s very solid outings.

GRID Autosport Tuner Trailer: It’s NOT A Horn, So Don’t Blow It…

 
Sure, it may look thrilling power sliding sideways at high speed, but this isn’t Mario Kart 8 at all and the only “death stare” you’ll get if you screw up is the other live players blowing past your wrecked car and laughing at you loudly over their headsets. Anyway, GRID Autosport is coming your way soon (June 24, 2014 in North America), so you’d better do some sideways sliding of your own to your nearest game emporium to place that pre-order or just pop in of the day of and hope they ordered enough copies. They most likely did, but I can’t vouch for smaller indie shops and what happens when a popular game might get a few really nice reviews that bump up traffic as people swing by to pick up a copies that weren’t reserved. If I were psychic, I’d be playing the ponies somewhere and be driven home sideways in a speedy ride of my own…

GRID Autosport Open Wheel Trailer: The Beatings Continue (And You Still Come Back For More)…

 
I see you’re here again, checking out the straps and leather in preparation for your hard ride. GRID Autosport will do you up right as rain as it puts you through your paces in a few racing disciplines where you’ll probably lose a lot until you learn the ropes and can keep your eyes on the road where they belong. Oh, you’ll be spanked and whipped and otherwise punished before you figure out which way is up, but you’ll love every minute of it whether you play along or with others. Figure out that safe word and get your rear in gear down to your nearest game emporium and place that pre-order. That big and special Black Edition isn’t going to buy itself, you know…

GRID Autosport “Endurance” Trailer: How Long Can You Last? Your Reputation Hangs On The Answer!

 
For me, it would be about 18 or so hours. A bunch of years back, I decided to play through an full 24 hour race in the Sega Dreamcast game Test Drive Le Mans and ended up staying up for about 18 hours straight racing in real time, taking breaks every two hours or so just like drivers would in the actual event. I didn’t have a co-driver, so it was all me going for it against that pack through a rather busy race day that started off nice and sunny before growing darker and cloudier as a storm rolled through about a third of the way in. Anyway, it looks as if GRID Autosport is going to go a longer way in reminding me those days of staying up so long might be over to some extent thanks to more realism and what’s looking like some harder courses to tackle. As I noted last week, I like challenging myself with a racing game like this where one’s knowledge of the courses increases as stamina decreases. Just when you’ve hot that stride and the miles fly by, you feel the need for a nap coming on or you have to pee or your stomach starts growling louder than the engine of the car you’re driving. Yeah, good times… until you yawn or sneeze and wreck yourself right out of that race. In other words, I can’t wait for this game to ship!

GRID Autosport Discipline/Focus/Endurance Trailer: You’ll Still Get Spanked, Though…

GRID_Autosport_BlackOh, once again, I couldn’t help myself (*whipcrack!*). Anyway, it looks as if GRID Autosport REALLY means business when it comes to bringing racing fans some of the best action out there. While not a true simulation, the team at Codemasters is striking the balance between simple to pick up and play controls and the need to learn each track and how to survive the AI trying its best to blow your doors off when you dive into the single player part of the game. Online is of course its own crazy bird complete with the usual unpredictability of live players, especially in the longer races.

Now,I happen to like endurance race events, as there’s a fine balance of learning all the ins and outs of a race course lap after lap and your own physical condition slipping a wee bit over the hours as you fight off sleep and assorted body cramps. Granted, couch racing isn’t ANYWHERE as brutal as being in a car bouncing around and rumbling for a few hundred miles, but keeping me OUT of a real race car is probably a really good thing. GRID Autosport is out for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on June 24, 2014 in North America, June 27th in Europe.

GRID Autosport Update: When Discipline Isn’t Punishment, It’s Pure Bliss…

I’ve heard auto racing compared to fighting before, but when the comment pops up in this video, you can see what that means pretty clearly. I tend to like European Touring Car racing a lot better than the mostly oval, turn left and draft stuff that’s popular here, so Codemasters has had me since the TOCA days on the original PlayStation. GRID Autosport looks incredible in this trailer (and the other two that have been released) and I love how user feedback has make the game’s Black Edition a much more palatable product to pre-order thanks to everyone getting that same content and no spitting up DLC based on certain retailers and such.

That’s lame and other publishers need to listen up and quit that nonsense as it means people who like to complete a game can actually complete it and not need to shell out for multiple copies just to get every drip of content. Go, Codemasters!