Friday, July 29, 2011

Review - Bastion


I've blogged a bit about Supergiant Games' Bastion previously, and discussed most of its most prominent features; for those who still don't know much about this Xbox Live Arcade downloadable, well, let's just say it's an action RPG infused with style, atmosphere, and just enough poignancy to make the trip feel worth both your time and your hard-earned dollar. If there is only one XBLA downloadable game you get this year, you can bet Bastion should be one of your top choices.


The game is set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, brought to its knees by what's referred to as "the Calamity." Your character, "the Kid" must navigate through a world filled with crumbling infrastructure and hostile humans and monsters alike. Along the way, you pick up remnants of the old world and unlock levels that provide you with a backstory to the Calamity's survivors. Between each level, you return to your home base, called the Bastion, a sanctuary of sorts that houses its own unique mystery.

Hope the kid doesn't roll around while he sleeps...
The story isn't told through cutscenes or cinematic movies; rather, your tale is told through the haunting baritone of a mysterious narrator that you meet within the game. It's a unique concept, and while there was a potential for this gimmick to become annoying rather than enlightening, Supergiant Games has done a truly stellar job in its implementation of the narration. The narrator will comment on almost everything you do, much of it to sarcastic and witty effect. Falling off ledges, slaughtering enemies, just pounding the destructible environment, and main plot events are all told to you with dramatic bravado. Even better, the story is integrated almost seamlessly into the gameplay; you'll never be forced to slog through long-winded paragraphs of tiny text.


Bastion is an action-RPG, a rarity on the XBLA market. You control the "Kid" throughout the entire game, stabbing, shooting, flame-throwering, or blasting the multitude of enemies that appear to impede your path. You're also equipped with a shield that -if timed correctly- allows you to counter attacks. When you're surrounded, the Kid can perform a handy somersault to leap out of harm's way, or use a special skill activated by the right trigger that generally does damage in a wide radius. The controls are smooth for the most part (though some of the ranged attacks are hard to target and the auto-lock on feature leaves a little to be desired). Along the way, you'll gain experience and collect spirits with which you can upgrade your arsenal of weapons. Level ups provide passive bonuses that afford you such improvements as additional potion slots, or increase your critical chance or damage.

Dogs may be man's best friend, but this shield is definitely the Kid's.
Your weapon selection is one of the best parts of Bastion. The game features around a dozen unique weapons - each that plays distinctly from the others. Unfortunately, you can only hold two weapons at a time, and when you discover a new weapon, one of your selections is automatically overridden with the new item. Still, this is a minor annoyance at worst. It's fun to experiment with all the different types of weapons. On top of that, as you progress through the game, unlockable challenges for each weapon also become available, rewarding you with different bonuses depending on your performance with said weapon.

I found the game to host just the right amount of challenge - not so hard that you feel frustrated for dying, but not so easy that your accomplishments don't feel satisfying either. When you successfully clear a mission or attain the high score on one of the weapon challenge levels, you'll know that it was your skill and perseverance that paid off, rather than simple button mashing. If this level of challenge is still too easy for your liking, however, you'll find that the game integrates additional difficulties smoothly into the actual game. During the story mode you'll eventually gain access to a Shrine within the Bastion, and by invoking the collectible totems of different deities, you can ease or ramp up the difficulty to your liking. Different totems have different effects (such as increased health for enemies, enemies that do more damage, or causing enemies to explode upon death). With each invocation, you also increase your XP rewards; just be careful you don't kill yourself. I learned it the hard way not to invoke too many totems at the same time.

Slash people to ribbons with the Kid's machete ...

There's also a treat for players who beat the game; completing the final mission gives you access to the coveted "New Game+" mode, allowing you to carryover experience, weapon upgrades, and unlocked items, easily making the game quite replayable.

Graphics & Sound

Despite its cartoonish theme, Bastion features some of the most gorgeously drawn sprites and backdrops I've seen. Style permeates the entire game, and the environments feel organic thanks to some nice particle effects and just a generally high level of detail and polish. The animations are not always the most sophisticated, but that doesn't prevent the gameplay from being fun, and in no way detracts from the astounding level of atmosphere.

... or blast them to smithereens with his shotgun!

Working in tandem with the art style, the sound quality is undeniably impressive. The narrator was well cast, his voice work some of the best I have heard in any game, let alone on XBLA. Ambient sound and music all serve to further draw you into the game's post-apocalyptic realm, simultaneously bringing you a sense of wonder and danger. The soundtrack is phenomenal. If Supergiant Games releases it, I would not hesitate to pick it up. The three tracks with vocals are particularly poignant.

Final Thoughts

Bastion is Supergiant Games' first release ever, but if its any indication of this fledgling developer's work quality, we can expect some great things in the future. Bastion is an action-RPG that does not disappoint in any sense, and the 10+ hours you can spend on the game is well worth its pricetag of 1200 Microsoft Points. Get it! Play it! Love it!

Recommended For:
+ Action RPG fans
+ Fans of games with style
+ Fans of immersive, story-based games
+ Anybody with an Xbox360

Not Recommended For:
- People with no souls.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preview - Futurama "All The Presidents' Heads" 7-28-2011

Good news everyone! Futurama has been renewed by Comedy Central for an additional 2 seasons. That means we'll be seeing Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the gang through at least 2013. As the Professor would say, "huzzah!"

Check out what I can only assume is a preview of tonight's episode, which apparently sends our characters back to the American Revolutionary War. Should we expect some ribbing at Sarah Palin's notorious statements concerning Paul Revere? Tune in tonight and find out!

FuturamaThursdays 10/9c
Sneak Peek - Inside-Out Bender
Comedy CentralFunny TV ShowsRoast of Charlie Sheen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spotlight - From Dust

Found this interesting XBLA downloadable game recently, and I think it deserves a look. In the vein of Black & White and Populous, From Dust puts the player in the role of a terraforming deity. The world is still primitive and relatively untouched by civilization. Your worshipers are beset by natural disasters: floods, volcanos and rampant wildfires threaten their very existence. It's up to you - using your ability to mold the world around you - to lead them to safety.

For being a downloadable arcade game, From Dust displays some impressive technical muscles; I've never seen an arcade game with such fluid 3D animations and physics engine. As a deity, your main tasks will be absorbing elements of the earth around you (water, dirt, and lava are among your basic options), and then combine them with the natural world to allow your worshipers safe passage. For example, if your tribal devotees are blocked by a river, you can drop a mass of dirt onto the water, making a natural bridge for your people to cross. Pour lava onto a mountain and you can watch it roll down in terrifying waves, even as it hardens to form solid rock. Creating floods and even parting the seas a la Moses are evidently all possible through the game as well.

From Dust is available today, July 27, 2011 on the Xbox360. A PC version is in the works for later this year. Early reviews have praised the game's graphics and concept, while criticizing somewhat clunky controls and the AI pathfinding. Still, it seems like the game continues a streak of impressive Live Arcade additions to the 360 repertoire.

Check out the trailer, after the jump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review - Captain America: The First Avenger (Warning: Spoilers)

Beware: the following review contains spoilers.

Captain America: The First Avenger succeeds more as a two-hour prequel for things to come than it does as a standalone film. It features an abundance of over-the-top action sequences, a series of convoluted plans that test the limits of your disbelief suspension, and a tacked-on romance that very much feels like it was added just so the producers of the film could claim to potential female movie-goers "hey, we have smoochies along with the punches!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

WTWOF - The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra

Legend of Korra, the spinoff to the 2005 nickelodeon hit Avatar: the Last Airbender has arrived at Comic-Con with a brand new trailer. So far, this new show seems to capture the essence of its predecessor tv-show, something M. Night Shyamalan's movie adaptation unfortunately failed to do. It looks like we can expect all the fluidly animated combat, flashy elemental "bending" and that special touch of quirky humor fans of the original show have come to expect.

Check out the trailer below! Legend of Korra is due out in 2012, so there's still a ways to go before we can immerse ourselves in this wonderful world.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Get More: Avatar Episodes,Avatar,Avatar Games

Friday, July 22, 2011

What To Watch Out For - Ringer

So, remember Sarah Michelle Gellar? She was Buffy the Vampire Slayer until she went on to star in a bunch of generally ill-received horror movies and indie films that no one knew about? Well, she's making a return to TV this fall on the CW's Ringer.

Ringer tells the story of ... well, the tComic-Con trailer can probably summarize the plot better than I can. Check it out below!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Preview - Futurama "Yo Leela Leela" 7/21/2011

Tonight's Futurama: Leela becomes a Hollywood bigshot after creating a successful new TV series. Check out the preview below!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Impressions - Bastion

I've played through the first few minutes of Bastion and the game - so far - does not disappoint. This XBLA downloadable plays smoothly, offers a fair amount of customization, and has been decently challenging. Beyond those gameplay elements, the game boasts a mesmerizing atmosphere that is rooted upon a beautiful aesthetic style, and the mysterious narrator who comments on almost everything you do - at least when you do it the first time. The first time I fell over the side, he jibed, "and then, he fell to his death. Just kidding." Thankfully, he doesn't say it every time I fall to a gravity-based death, or I might find his presence grating rather than atmospheric.

I am impressed. Expect a full review once I have completed the game. See the launch trailer released a few days ago, and check out a nice wallpaper provided by Supergiant Games on their website, after the jump.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review - A Dance with Dragons (No Spoilers)

It's been six long years since George R.R. Martin's last entry in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Since that time, he has been the subject of much speculation, both positive and negative. The HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones certainly helped to thrust the author into the limelight and most certainly helped to broaden his already large readership. It's probably no coincidence that his publisher chose to release the novel soon after the conclusion of the first season of the show. However, through all of this success there have been whispers of uncertainty; people began to suspect that Martin was losing steam, growing tired of writing the series. Doubt was forming - doubt that Martin would be able to wrap up his truly tangled web of intricate storylines.

A Dance with Dragons will not alleviate any of that doubt.

What the fifth novel in the series will do, however, is to continue Martin's tradition of rich prose and stylized writing. Martin weaves a truly breath-taking and vivid world, complete with social, political, economic, and religious undertones that has carried over from his first four books. Westeros and its world are a truly captivating canvas, and Martin paints details to life with the artistry of a master. Fan-favorite characters have returned after an extended wait: we see Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow, and Bran all pick up their stories where we last them, almost 10 years ago. It's good to see these characters back in the novel, especially after A Feast for Crows introduced a slew of new ones that were difficult to relate to.

In terms of pacing, however, A Dance with Dragons seems to fumble in comparison to its predecessors. A lot of time is spent traveling by many different characters, all of them trying to reach places that they inevitably fail to reach. As I read chapter after chapter, I began to wonder - as I did in A Feast for Crows - if perhaps all of these chapters were really necessary. It seemed at times that page after page would pass by without either progression of the plot, or any significant character revelations. Instead, characters would march towards Mereen, or sail towards Mereen. And yet barely anybody actually reaches Mereen. In between all the marching, characters spend a lot of time composing inner monologues commenting on how they're reminded of other places, and new places, or old tales that seem like they ultimately have no bearing on the actual story; while some of these are interesting, they do seem to fluff out a book that seems too long to begin with.

Dance - similar to Feast - is also overly burdened with too many POV characters. For those of you familiar with Martin's series, POV is Point of View. Basically, each chapter is written from one out of as many as 16 perspectives. It's a necessary evil, I suppose, that Martin has been continuously adding perspectives; it's necessary because major POV characters are killed off in almost every novel. However, in A Dance with Dragons, it has become increasingly difficult to care about these new characters' perspectives, and I wonder - again - if they are truly necessary. 

Most stories do encounter a lull at some point, where progression and pacing seem to taper off for a bit. Perhaps A Dance with Dragons is just that - a necessary tedium that sets up the final two novels in the series. Ironically, Dance left me both wanting more and wishing Martin's editors had done a more generous job with their edits. The novel is not as strong as the first three novels, but for any fans of Martin's previous works, it is still a must-read.

Recommended For:
- George R.R. Martin Fans
- Readers invested into the Song of Ice and Fire series
- Historical Fantasy Fans
- Fans of San Guo (Romance of the Three Kingdoms - you know who you are)

Not Recommended For:
- Readers who have given up on the series - Dance will not change your mind.
- Impatient readers - you will most likely not be able to speed read through this novel
- People who think George R.R. Martin is going to die before he can finish the series.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spotlight - The part you all missed after Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Ever wondered what happened in those 19 years between Harry defeating Voldemort and him sending his kids off to Hogwarts?

Take a look. It's disturbingly hilarious.

Follow that up with this behind the scenes look at the dangers of casting spells!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Ostensibly, a movie review is supposed to provide some input to its readers about whether or not to go see a particular movie. Considering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the finale to a ten-year film franchise, I think I can safely say that most everybody has already decided whether they're going to watch this film or not. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's doubtful that any review would be able to persuade you to or dissuade you from seeing this film at this point.

Happy Friday Everybody!

Seeing Harry Potter in 2 hours. Expect a review this afternoon. Hope you guys have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Preview: Futurama "Silence of the Clamps" 7/14/2011

Catch a preview of tonight's Futurama when Bender is forced to go into a witness relocation program after testifying against the Robot Mafia.

Also, can I just say last week's episode "Law & Oracle" was definitely the season's best yet? The episode spoofed a whole bunch of movies and shows: Law & Order, Minority Report, Tron. Plus, I'm just a sucker for twist endings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Impressions - A Dance With Dragons

While several sources have already released reviews for the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, I'm still slowly chugging away at the monster. This is a busy week for me, so I probably won't get a chance to even finish the book this week, much less review it, but I am slowly tackling it. I can offer a brief first impression of what I've read so far, however. Beware: there are some very light spoilers in terms of the novel's structure below, but I won't reveal any plot points yet.

As most fans of the series probably know already, A Dance with Dragons is kind of an interesting book. Rather than being a direct sequel to the fourth novel A Feast with Crows, the timeline actually runs concurrent to the events in Feast, at least for a major portion of Dance. The decision to set up these two books this way came about when George R R Martin was working on a Feast with Crows and discovered it was rapidly becoming much too large and unwieldy than he intended. He did not wish to simply cut his product in half, however, feeling that would have been a tacky and pandering resolution to his problem.

Thus, he reached a decision to split the book by location - A Feast with Crows would contain mainly the stories of the characters located in the South. The characters in the North and across the sea would have to wait with A Dance with Dragons.This decision was a controversial one, and has resulted in Feast being the lowest rated of all of the books on - undoubtedly due to the fact that Feast with Crows contained mostly the perspectives of new, unfamiliar characters, or characters that simply did not resonate as well as previous ones did.

Well, all the characters that we missed from Feast are back in full force, and they're just where we left them (almost 10 years ago now). Martin's style remains strong; while the novel is not Harry Potter in that you can not read everything at breakneck speed, if you take the time to sit down and absorb the details and appreciate just how much care Martin has put into his words, you'll get that much more out of the experience.

One thing to note: it looks like that the timelines eventually do catch up in the middle of A Dance with Dragons, not at the end. There are certain characters' chapters that appear towards the end of the novel, who also appeared in Feast. I will say that this particular point irks me a little. Why bother separating the books the way he did, if Feast characters are going to appear in Dance? A bit arbitrary, methinks.

I am enjoying the novel so far. Expect a full review towards the end of next week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to Watch Out For: Damages, Season 4 Premiere July 13, 2011

Missed this in last friday's spotlight, but after a long hiatus, the critically acclaimed legal thriller "Damages" starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne returns to television this week. The first season of this show was one of the best things to happen to TV, showcasing the darkest depths of the lawyer's profession, and weaving a convincing plot about what one is willing to do to achieve one's goals. The later seasons waned in quality, in part because of an over-reliance on a now-cumbersome "flashback" gimmick, and ratings slipped so much that this original TNT drama was facing cancellation in 2010. DirecTV came in with a last-minute save though.

Damages tells the story of recent law-graduate Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrnes - she seems to be in everything nowadays) and her ruthless, cut-throat mentor Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), an attorney infamous for getting her way no matter the cost. The first season succeeded in part because it was a fascinating to watch Ellen follow in Patty's footsteps, transforming from a idealistic law student into a frightening "whatever-it-takes" kind of attorney herself. Seasons 2 and 3 retain the strong character portrayals and development, but unfortunately weren't able to capture the same feel of a tightly-knit plot.

Season Four will feature a reduced episode count (10, compared to the 13 episodes from the first three seasons). Hopefully this will help keep the writers on a tight budget, and reduce the amount of filler scenes. The central plot involves private military contractors in Afghanistan. Check out a trailer below, and tune in to DirecTV on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 for the season premiere.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011

Spotlight: Coming Soon to a Media Outlet Near You - July 2011

We're already halfway through 2011 folks ( can you believe it? ) but there doesn't seem to be any shortage of cool new media to entertain yourselves with - at least not in July. We list a few reasons to be look forward to enjoying life this month, after the jump.

On a side note, did you like the blog's background image for June? If so, I've included a 1920 x 1080 wallpaper below - just click on the image and you should get a full-resolution version. I really liked this background because it suggested a lot of action, but still had enough open space so that it wasn't distracting. Find more wallpapers like this one at

Thursday, July 07, 2011

WTWOF: Dragon Age 2 - Legacy DLC (Updated with Trailer)

Bioware has unveiled the first of its story-based DLC, titled "Legacy." The developer has stated that they hope to address at least some of Dragon Age 2's many criticisms with this $10 downloadable content. Given that the engine is probably not going to change for a single DLC, I'm guessing that the camera is not one of the issues that will be addressed. The horribly open-ended way the main game ended will also probably not be resolved, as the DLC can be played through at almost any time during the main storyline.

Possible Characters this could be:
- Bregan from Dragon Age: The Calling
- Papa Hawke (Grandpapa Hawke?)
- A new breed of Darkspawn engineered by the Architect
- Random NPC monster for you to kill

What can be fixed, however, is the annoying "wave" system of enemies and the use of recycled maps. These are the two biggest problems that faced Dragon Age 2, and we'll see if Bioware has been listening to the essentially unanimous condemnation of these two points. It is fitting then, that the Legacy DLC will be the test to see if Bioware can salvage the legacy of the Dragon Age franchise.

Hawke fights an armored Rhino-thingie.
Dragon Age 2: Legacy  features a whole new plotline involving a Grey Warden prison, and a new darkspawn threat. Uncover the secret behind the Hawke legacy along the way. The DLC is due out July 26, 2011 for $10 (and the equivalent amount of Bioware, Microsoft points) on the PC, XBOX360 and PS3. Expect a review shortly after, and see the reveal trailer below.

WTWOF: Digital Ads being Added to ... Reruns?!

You've got to see it to believe it, but apparently networks have stooped to inserting ads into reruns of shows. Check out this link to see for yourself - apparently an advertisement for the Zookeeper was stuck into this rerun of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother."

Some of us may know that Ted is a horribly unreliable narrator, but would he really lie about the contents of his friend's bookstand?

Preview: Futurama "Law & Oracle" 7/7/2011

In tonight's episode, Futurama spoofs TRON.

Last week's "Ghost in the Machines" was definitely a step back towards the Futurama we all know and remember. Let's hope today's episode will continue that!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Spotlight - XBOX 360's Best RPGs, Part 2

It's interesting how the consoles have treated RPGs. Back in the old days, Playstation and Playstation 2 were definite RPG titans, boasting a seemingly limitless number of titles in the genre. Then, an interesting thing happened around 2007 - 2009. The Xbox 360 - which, if you may remember, the original Xbox was more of an action-oriented console - somehow took over the reigns of the RPG kingdom. With most of the big-name spring and summer RPGs on the Xbox 360 already released, I countdown my top ten favorite role-playing games on the system. See my top five below!

5. Final Fantasy XIII

There's no question FFXIII had many faults: the extreme linearity of both the story and the character progression were in stark contrast to almost all of its recent predecessors. The Crystogen leveling system really gave you no room to differentiate your characters beyond their set path, and it wasn't until near the end of the game where you had any area that you could "explore." Still, despite this, FFXIII still was an enjoyable experience, whose strengths ultimately outweighed its weaknesses. Fluid combat, an innovative battle system, stunning graphics and a great soundtrack kept this RPG from completely abandoning its Finally Fantastic legacy.

4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

It's a testament to the quality of this game that even after five years, the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion still ranks in the top five. Despite a rather unremarkable main plot, stunning graphics, a truly wide open world to explore, endless number of quests to complete, and a multitude of interesting factions to join make this Elder Scrolls one of the best in the series and one of the best RPGs on the Xbox 360.

3. Tales of Vesperia

Some might say the JRPG genre has grown stale and repetitive, and honestly, Tales of Vesperia doesn't really do much to disprove that. The battle system isn't revolutionized from it's predecessor series, and the story is at times just as nonsensical as most JRPG plots tend to become when translated to english. Still, there's a reason i sank 80+ hours into this game in one playthrough - it is fun. The combat is fluid, and there's no denying the gaming high you get when you succesfully pull off that chain of dozens upon dozens of combos. Stylistic visuals and a charming soundtrack top off an otherwise superior game.

2. Mass Effect

The first Mass Effect was truly revolutionary, and thrust Bioware into the forefront of cinematic storytelling. An epic space opera boasting countless worlds to explore, quests where you determine the outcome, and an array of interesting and deep companion characters made this shooter-RPG the most fun I've ever had on the system. Sure, it had its problems too, most notably the horrifying amount of level recycling used in sidequests and the sheer awfulness of its planet-exploring vehicle, but these are nitpicks at worst. This is a game you simply must play if you have not.

1. Mass Effect 2

A lot of people have argued that Mass Effect strayed too far from its RPG roots in its second iteration. Everything from the leveling system to your equipment and even inventory management had been stripped down significantly. Why then, is it at the top of my Best RPGs on the Xbox 360? Simply put, the game sacrifices these elements to make the entire experience that much better. The combat is fluid, visceral, and you still have a wide and varied amount of classes and abilities to choose from. The storytelling is refined, and the effort that went into it is clearly visible, with the ability to import the decisions you made from the first game. The addition of "conversation interrupts" gave you the sense that Shephard is definitely not someone to mess around with. Gone was the horrible planet exploration and recycled areas (though replaced by a similarly annoying planet-scanning minigame). On top of that, Mass Effect 2 came with the bonus of some of the best DLC out there (Lair of the Shadow Broker anyone?). Some truly poignant moments are waiting for you if you haven't yet had a chance to play this game.

What do you think? What are your favorite 360 RPGs?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Spotlight - XBOX 360's Best RPGs, Part 1

It's interesting how the consoles have treated RPGs. Back in the old days, Playstation and Playstation 2 were definite RPG titans, boasting a seemingly limitless number of titles in the genre. Then, an interesting thing happened around 2007 - 2009. The Xbox 360 - which, if you may remember, the original Xbox was more of an action-oriented console - somehow took over the reigns of the RPG kingdom. With most of the big-name spring and summer RPGs on the Xbox 360 already released, I countdown my top ten favorite role-playing games on the system. See the first five below:

10. Fable 3

The original Fable was one of my favorite games on the original Xbox, a game that managed to fit smooth action-combat with an interesting story, adaptive character development, and that wonderfully quirky sense of humor the series has boasted since its inception. While the combat seems to have become overly simplified and the stories seem to have weakened progressively in each game, Fable 3 at least fixed the multiplayer issues from its predecessor.

9. The Last Remnant

Featuring a unique take on tactical combat in RPGs, the Last Remnant was not well-received by most professional critics during its original release. A slew of graphical and technical problems marred an otherwise interesting story and innovative fight system. Some of the graphical problems were solved by installing the game to your 360 harddrive, but texture pop-in and framerate slowdowns were still commonplace. Add to this, the fact that the game actually punishes you when you "level up" made this game a difficult one to enjoy. And yet, somehow I'm still playing through it now.

8. Eternal Sonata

A stereotypical action-RPG, except the story incorporated the life and music of Frederic Chopin. Eternal Sonata also boasted some of the best cel-shaded graphics and art design on the system at the time of its release. The game captured a sort of musical charm that fans of classical music no doubt enjoyed; all the characters besides chopin were named after some aspect of music, including such oddities as "Allegretto" and "Polka."

7. Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Another JRPG, The Last Hope featured an intense, action-packed and fun-driven real-time combat system which was both fluid and addicting. The only things that dragged the game down was the obtuse storyline and the painful character designs. Seriously, your characters looked like a moving collection of porcelain dolls, which I'm sorry, but no. Just no. No.

6. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Marvel Ultimate Alliance was a great culmination of the technology and engine that drove the first two X-Men Legend Action-RPG games. MUA featured a large cast of playable and recognizable characters from the Marvel Universe, all of whom had their classic powers and costumes available for use. The story was competent, and the graphics and sound were just fine. Plus points for being able to telekinetically throw your enemies off ledges. Too bad the sequel to this great game oversimplified the character development options.

Check back tomorrow for my top-five Xbox 360 RPGs!

Monday, July 04, 2011

1000 Hits!

Happy Independence Day, and thanks for visiting the site, loyal readers and occasional perusers!

Friday, July 01, 2011