Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Game reviews: 2 PSP games with bent on past



This is my first journey into the world of the Dynasty Warrior, even though the title has been around for quite some time. Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce from Koei reminds me of the old martial arts films of the 70s that featured magical characters with amazing powers harnessed from nature or presented from some deity of Asian lore.

The setting takes us to China s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.), when the country was in a tug-of-war. The kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu each controlled different regions and were battling to unite the country under their own rule. This was a special time when complex military strategies and power grabs dominated the landscape and mythology was more than a story in a children s book.

Each game has a different story, goal, and personality, and features characters with various skills, weapons, and powers.

As with most role-playing games, we start out in a city where we purchase and store items we find in our quests. At the start we can find those quests on the community bulletin board. Generally you are thrown in with a bunch of bad guys and expected to start fighting. Now that I think about it, that seems to happen a lot in this game. But, hey, you re a Dynasty Warrior, that s what you do.

Combat is fairly simple. You ll be mashing a lot of buttons, stringing together some combos for dramatic effect. As you defeat the enemy you can absorb his life force or chi and use it later. You will also collect different minerals and elements which you can keep in the storehouse until you get enough for, let s say, a special weapon with magical powers.

During combat, the combo moves were well put together and offered some very satisfying results, inflicting massive damage to multiple bad guys with a single move. You ll need to do that often because you will find yourself in a swarm of foes unable to focus on a single one long enough to get any work done.

There generally is a boss on every level, and he is a worthy adversary. Once he gets in a good blow he will continue to pummel unless you flee for a second and recover. You can do the same to him, but be careful, he recovers quickly and will strike immediately. I found the best place for the battle was in the air. With a simple jump you can sort of hover and fire off several attacks before gravity takes you.

The environments are appealing and the music sounds like it comes straight out of those old movies. The characters move with fluidity and precision and the load times are really minimal for an RPG. It was enjoyable and challenging, but not too difficult, a well-done RPG for a handheld console.

Simulation games on a handheld console are a rare thing. That s why I thought I d like to see how Graffiti Entertainment s Air Conflict: Aces of World War II adds up. With a good bit of playtime (and a bit of frustration) I have ended up with very ambiguous feelings about this game.

On the one hand:

Air Conflicts is based on actual missions, dog fights, and raids from World War II and the history is pretty accurate. As the game progresses so does the war, and you will take part in many of the great battles.

You can choose to fly for four different countries in the war: The United States, Germany, Great Britain, or Russia. Sometimes you will take part in the same conflicts, but the missions will change to reflect that particular nation s involvement. In effect you can get a lot of play time with this game and experience history from several perspectives. Nice feature.

The graphics are food. The planes are rendered well and the environments are good for a handheld simulator. Grasslands, mountains, and oceans all had a realistic feel and sported a very wide range. In fact, one problem you may have is running out of fuel because you ve chased a bogie too far out of your range for way too long.

For me, flying the plane was the best aspect of the game. The controls were simple and any beginner will be up and flying in no time. At the start you ll be doing a lot of playing around, soaring up and down and weaving left and right, and may be surprised at the ease. It just feels right. Flying through or over a target is never a problem. In a word, the controls are solid.

On the other hand:

You would think that when creating a simulation game you would want to make sure that your gun sights are fairly visible. It should stand out on the screen and be very clear. It should also turn red when over the target. In Air Conflicts, the target is way too thin and tiny for any real use. It also turned red when I was way above my target, which may be accurate for the period but is problematic for a combat game.

Shooting enemy planes in a dogfight was extremely hard and you are outnumbered in your first battle by about 8 to 1. For the first several times you play you ll be lucky to shoot down even one enemy plane. Certain targets on the bombing raids are too difficult to see at a distance, and you are forced to waste gas on too many fly-bys, finding the target. The combat in this game will never be described as too easy, that s for sure.

The biggest downside to the game was the atrocious load times. Every time the screen changed you were forced to wait for what seemed liked an eternity for the next screen to load. For the total time I spent with the game, it felt like I spent more time waiting for reloads than I did in actual game play.

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