State of Decay (2013) – A Bad Movie Studios Video Game (Not) Review

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State of Decay (2013)

Developed by Undead Labs Released on XBLA, Windows.

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review.

I haven’t put out anything in a few weeks, “Tis’ the Season” after all, but I’m back and writing reviews again. I’ve been doing a lot of video game reviews and I’ll be getting back into movies shortly. Well, I decided to get one more game review in before I focus on movies just so I could get SOMETHING out. So this time around I will be talking about State of Decay. State of Decay is an Xbox Live Arcade title that launched in June of this year (the Windows version coming about 2 months later). It’s an Action Survival game that centers around, what else, the zombie apocalypse. It’s loosely a survival horror game, but centers less around the horror part and more around the survival aspect. I won’t be using my usual scoring system to rate this game (I didn’t get a massive amount of play time with it) but will instead raise some points and determine if I recommend it or not.

The first thing I notice about this game is the presentation. Considering the low quality of some of the Xbox’s Arcade games, this is like a shot of adrenaline to the chest (Pulp Fiction reference). It actually looks like a game that would have been given a full release. It’s pretty fleshed out is put together fairly well. The game centers around the player…well…surviving the zombie apocalypse (OH MY GOD THE ORIGINALITY!). You travel the in game world, which is larger than I expected, fighting zombies while gathering supplies in the hopes of maintaining your survival. You meet and interact with other characters, and even gain new members of your party to play with. While fighting zombies and finding weapons, food, ammo, etc., you improve aspects of your characters that impact gameplay. It’s a basic stat system really. This game is similar to TellTales Walking Dead game series, only with more emphasis on action than pacing and storytelling.

State of Decay visually looks good if compared to game from back in 2008 or so. The visuals aren’t bad at all, and I’m no graphics junky, but I can’t help notice that it looks dated. Again though, this must be taken with the mindset that it’s an XBLA title. Putting that perspective on it, it’s one of the better looking Arcade game’s I’ve ever seen on Microsoft’s second console. But all is not perfect. Some iffy animations, graphical glitches and low resolution textures can all be found in this game. You’ll also find more than a few of the undead horde half passing through the occasional wall or door. There’s a bit of a blocky look to some structures and things in the game as well. The lighting looks good however and the shadowing of objects doesn’t look bad either. The character models look decent, perfectly serviceable, and the zombies don’t look too bad. Nothing really catching about their design, but they’re fine none-the-less. Of course there are only so many different looking zombies that you’ll encounter in the game, but I don’t remember it being too bad. No rooms of 5 identical twin zombies that all got turned on a family vacation where they wore the same outfit.

The voice acting in the game isn’t too bad but it’s not really stand out. At least, there are no characters that you really wanna sit and listen too for more than 30 seconds. The groans, gurgles and overall ghoulish noise of the zombies is decent though, and doesn’t get too annoying after you’ve heard it the hundredth time. Gun sound effects are alright, and although the hitting sound effects can be a bit weird at times, most of the action noises will satiate the ears. The sound department is handled well, but there’s really just not much to say about it. It’s pulled off okay but there;s no reason you couldn’t replace it all with stock sound clips and noises and really been able to tell the difference.

The controls in the game are decent as well. I don’t recall having any difficulty getting used to them. I will say that there really isn’t much strategy to the whole game. You sneak around trying to avoid zombies while looking for gear you can loot. Crouching, hiding behind walls or in bushes, and creeping along at a slow pace is about as deep as the stealth mechanic gets. To be honest, controlling your character in stealth situations doesn’t feel really intuitive. You don’t have to be stealthy thought, and when the situation arises, you can attack the infected with hand held and ranged weapons. There’s a pretty decent (albeit standard at this point) variety of weapons at your disposal, ranging from sticks, to pistols, to rifles, to knives to shotguns and more. It makes an alright 3rd person shooter when it has to, but it definitely doesn’t feel up to snuff when compared to Resident Evil or Gears of War. The control just isn’t as smooth nor feel as responsive. And when you’re using melee weapons, it just boils down to a hack n’ slash experience who;s only twist is your stamina meter at the bottom of the screen telling you how much more motion you can do. A cool addition to add a little realism and keep the survival theme, but when approached by 5 zombies( they run by the way) and there’s no choice but to fight, it can get annoying. This is both a positive and a negative to the experience. It helps emphasize the fact that the zombies are a threat, but the stealth is just too unintuitive to be such a major component to the game. At least to me.

Now you;re not alone in this adventure. You meet other survivors that you can play as that can also tag along on your adventures. They actually do fight and kill things, even going so far as to hold zombies so you can kill them with one blow/shot, but what hinders this experience is the A.I. Both your partners and the zombies tend to show the occasional intelligence of a lobotomized lab rat. Sometimes it’s WAY too easy to sneak past the zombies, and more than once I found them unable to get out of a tent that was open on two sides to attack me. They went into attack mode (usually just milling around slow and incoherently, but when they spot you they flip and sprint towards you) but just couldn’t realize that the open spot was just to their side. I also noticed a few times that party members I was with would get attacked and just stand there doing nothing. They would react, maybe even raise their weapon, but then just lower it again just to be attacked some more. There’s definitely some things that need to be worked out in this system.

Overall, I recommend giving State of Decay a try, but only if you play the demo version first. I know there’s a trial on Xbox live, and I’ll assume you can find on Steam. It IS a fun game, even though is have a few marring issues. It also helps to try not to compare it to bigger titles. It doesn’t quite stand up. But when looked at in a lesser light, it’s a big fish in a little pond. State of Decay is $20 on XBLA (I don’t know how much on Steam), which is just a smidge too much for my taste. It would be better at $15. But either way, if you like zombie games or things like the Walking Dead TV show, I think you should check out this game. It’s far from perfect, but still a pretty good time.

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Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review – Might & Magic: Clach od Heroes (2009)

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Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (2009)

Developed by Capybara Games/Tag Games (iOS) Released on Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, iOS, Android

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review

I really felt the need to write something so, I decided to bat out another game review. I know I haven’t given a good movie review in a while, but these are just more time saving and I’ve had a lot too do as of late. I promise to get back to film soon though. Well anyway, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a puzzle role-playing game that was originally released on the DS back in 2009. It got an HD re-release in 2011 on the PS3 and Xbox 360. I’m playing it on the 360 as a downloadable title.

Graphics: This game looks good. It has a nicely hand drawn, animated style that I like. It’s bright and colorful, and looks as if a Saturday morning cartoon jumped into your Xbox (or DS). The environments throughout the game look nice as well, even if they are pretty basic for fantasy fare. The in game battle field looks nice as well, still maintaining that animated feel, but also resembling a game board, a fitting design. There’s also an anime feel to the whole thing, which again works. Overall, a pretty descent looking game (8).

Gameplay:This is an area of the game that’s tricky to place. I’ll start with the navigation because that will be much simpler to brand. Frankly, I hate it. This game has a bird’s eye view of the land that works fine for me. It lets you see more of the area around you, and as this game is a bit of an adventure game, that’s cool. What I hate about the navigation is that you don’t actually get to…navigate. You guide your character along marked out, predetermined paths. Don’t get me wrong, it controls just fine, there’s no hindrance at all to getting from point A to point B. I just hate having myself restricted in moving across the overworld. Now onto the combat (since that’s about as deep as you get from this game, combat & movement). It’s really a mixed bag. Basically, you control a platoon of varying soldier that different depending on what character you play as. If you play as the elf, you get more nature based forces. If you’re an evil death based character (that I was sure was a guy until I read that their name was Fiona), you get things like skeletons, witches, vampires, zombies and the like. Basically, you get X amount of movements per turn, color coordinating your crew into attack formations. These formations then take a certain amount of turns to prepare themselves, and after the time is done, they attack. Your goal is to destroy the enemy forces and attack them directly. If this seems like a weird version of YuGiOh, that’s because it is. Essentially that’s what you’ve got going on here, you even have special creatures that you summon by sacrificing your regular ones. And wouldn’t you now it, the special ones have special powers. This game is harder to describe than it is to understand, and after playing it for a little bit, you pick it up pretty well. As you go along in the game you gain more and different kinds of soldiers and monsters and things to take into battle. You can also arrange your groups in to walls and blockades to help defend yourself. It’s pretty fun honestly, and I found it rather addicting. The gameplay is solid in it’s execution. But that’s more to be said for the Quick Battle mode (one that thrusts you into a battle with a random character against you) than the Campaign. See, your experience in battle depends on how well you pick up the mechanics of it, and also your creativity in moving your soldiers. You can have a fairly long game that goes back and forth, or you might have a complete blitz and demolish the opposition in 2 or 3 moves. The computer A.I. However, far likes the latter. There were more than a few times I thought I was doing well, and then the game completely obliterated me in one unstoppable onslaught that reduced my health from 100 to 17 in an instant. Why it didn’t kill me outright really makes me think it just wanted to mock me some more. Now the reason that this unbalanced experience is so key to my criticism, is that the Campaign essentially uses this FAR too many times in order to get you to level up and progress. Your mission will be to take out a single target for example, and you’ll find that because they’re 2 levels above you, no amount or creativity or battle strategy will save you from the fact that they’re just much more powerful than you. And ultimately that is this games greatest downfall. It’s very fun to play in quick battle, and I love coming back to it. But in the Campaign, there’s so many times I got my ass kicked, especially early on, that I had to level grind far beyond the point of enjoyment and right into the lap of boredom. Hence why this game is such a mixed bag. It’s either really fun, or really REALLY tedious. (6.5).

Sound Design: The effects in this game (monster cries, battle sounds etc) are all pretty well done. But what really stands out, is the music. It’s grandiose and epic. Quite frankly, it sounds like something that you’d hear in Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Very fitting, and very cool. There isn’t any spoken dialogue that I can recall, but fantasy games tend to be filled with over-the-top and hokey acting anyway so that’s a good thing in my opinion. (8)

Story: Now, from what I can gather, this is a prequel to some other games in this series. But I really have no idea what’s going on. There is a story somewhere in here, but it’s such a been-done, basic fantasy tale that I really paid no attention to it. The Story Mode in a game is important to me because it’s the thing that houses all of the elements that build the game and gives it to you in a total package. To me the Campaign should come first, forever and always. This one, well it’s not bad, not it’s just so very I’ve-seen-this-before that I just can’t pay attention to it. If you like The Hobbit, or Lord of the Rings, or whatever other countless fairy, sword and sorcery, fantasy stories there are out there, than I suppose you’ll like the one this game gives you. But if you don’t, you wont. (5).

Overall Score – 6.8 out of 10

Final Thoughts:While this is not my “type” of game per-say (personally not being one for fantasy RPG’s or puzzle games) I have to say that I enjoyed this game more than I would have expected to. The fact that I got it for free for Microsoft’s Free Games With Gold deal, I would have to recommend it. But since the game is no longer free and is instead $14.99 over XBLA (you CAN find a copy of this game across platforms for around $9.99) I can’t say it’s worth it. If it was a third of the price, I’d say go for it. You’re getting a pretty well functioning puzzle-combat RPG for that price. But at $15 bucks, I could recommend a bunch of other games for Xbox, PS3 or the DS that are much more worth your time. So give it a rent, or play the trial on consoles.

Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review – Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (2002)

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Dragon ball Z: Budokai (2002)

Developed by Dimps Released on GameCube, PS2

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review

When I was growing up, I was a big fan of Cartoon Networks television block, Toonami. It was awesome. It was full of action packed T.V. Shows and anime. Personally, this was the Golden Age of anime in the U.S. To me. You have Pokemon, Yugioh, Yu Yu Hakusho, Inuyasha, Tenchi Muyo, Mobil Suit Gundam, and many many more Japanese epics that we as young adults and children sank out teeth into like crazy. Indeed you couldn’t escape the bright, flashy visuals of anime shows and characters. Now during this Golden Age, the show that pretty much captured EVERYONE’S (and by that I mean people from the ages of 5 – 25) was Dragon Ball Z. The show was epic. Super powered characters, fights for the fate of whole planets, super high speed martial arts, and laser beams that would make Godzilla blush. God it was a fun show. And easily my favorite anime to date. Dragon Ball Z was just cool. So when they made a fighting game out of it, I went nuts. I couldn’t wait to control Goku or Vegeta and beat the hell out of all my other favorite DBZ characters. The answer to my anticipation was Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. I should mention that I’ve owned this game on both the PlayStation 2 and GameCube, so what I write will apply to both versions.

Graphics: At the time, this game looked good. It wasn’t the best looking game around, but the visuals mirrored the anime very well, and they are bright and colorful. Some of the animations aren’t perfect though, but the combat looks good. Something really cool is the between fight cut scenes that helps explain the story of the show. They’re really good, although there is NO lip sync with the dialogue. But overall, at the time, I enjoyed the aesthetics the game brought to the plate. Now however, I have to admit that it hasn’t aged as well as I would hope. It isn’t any worse of course, but those little things that I didn’t pay too much attention to as a kid because I was having too much fun, well those are things that stare me in the face like a giant sun. I just can’t help but pay attention to them. So with that in mind, I have to dock it a few points. (7).

Gameplay: This game is fun, but I guess the biggest thing about it is how shallow it is. There’s really no depth in the combat, mostly because the large majority of the characters share what are effectively the same moves. The controls are alright and fairly easy to learn. The block button functions, and there’s a really cool feature where you and the opponent can get caught in this hyper fast hand to hand sequence. It looks cool, but you win by rotating the control stick faster than the other person. And that seems to be the running theme about things, it’s fun and looks cool, but it’s just really basic in it’s execution. A staple of the show as the ability for the characters to unleash over-the-top and ridiculously powerful special attacks, the most famous being the Kamehameha Wave. Everyone who watched this show, want’s to do that move. Period. Well in this game you can do those techniques. You see you gain energy by beating on your enemy, but you also gain energy (more so even) by getting wailed on yourself. You can also charge it as well, but of course you cant defend yourself, so there’s a risk vs reward situation here that’s neat but falls short. More on that in a sec. Well anyway, once you’ve gained enough power, you start a striking combo (4 punches, 2 punches & 2 kicks etc) and hit the energy attack button and unleash hell onto your opponent. The thing that sucks about these though is that A. it’s really easy to spam a lot of these techniques, and B. there’s a tendency in the game for you to successfully perform one of these special moves, and it does absolutely piss all. I don’t know about anyone else, but there weren’t very many characters who could take a full power Kamehameha to the face and just shake it off in the show. Also you can’t preform a beam struggle so it kind of just boils down to who shot first. And on top of that, some of the beams just look underwhelming. I know this is something that I should really have talked about in the Graphics section, but I just though of is so shut up. I remember the attacks in the show being insane. These great beams of energy able to blow holes in a planet. Here, they’re honestly only about twice as big as the characters. They just look so meek in comparison. Now this brings me back to that hit and miss power up mechanic that I mentioned before. See, you’re never guaranteed that you’re going to do a lot of damage with your special attack, some are awesome, and some are bland and ineffective. So because you have to take time to gain the energy for the attack, it’s debatable whether or not it’s worth using half the time. That issue is similar to the one with powering up. Yes, if you get hit while powering up it stops you, but it’s just too easy to hit the opponent when they’re trying to charge their energy because everyone can just shoot one fast energy ball across the map and hit you. These are just dragging issues with the game. The hit and miss nature of some of it’s mechanics and the fact that every character effectively plays the same, greatly reduces the depth of this fighter. But even with that in mind, this game is still really fun to play. Going through the story mode is a blast, and beating your friends in VS Mode is an even better time. Pulling off one of those really powerful, cinematic Ultimate Moves is just too cool (watching your enemy cower before you disintegrate them) and knocking them through the scenery to another section is just rewarding. Besides that you get World Tournament Mode, in which is plays like a traditional arcade tournament fighter with randomized opponents. It’s a decent time but not great. The thing about this game’s extras that honestly truly disappointment, is the capsule system. See, all through the game when you;re playing, you collect capsules. Basically these things are to help you create customized versions of your favorite characters. It’s an interesting concept that was done so much better later on in the series. The main issue with this system of gaining capsules is that you obtain them at random. It’s annoying that your custom character will start off with absolutely no transformations (Super Saiyan forms or what have you) or Super Attacks. They’re just bare bones melee characters. So if you wanted to make a really kick ass Goku, you’re just gonna have to keep playing until you eventually get something that works. It just feels like unnecessary padding. This game is still fun to play even to this day. I occasionally enjoy popping it in just to save the world one or two more times. And of course I can’t help but revel in the feeling of wasting my friends. But still, there are FAR better fighters out there. Not perfect, but since I still come back (7.5).

Sound Design: Great anime styled hand to hand combat sounds? Check. Awesome super powered effects? Check. Cool soundtrack reminiscent of the T.V. Show? Check. English Voice Actors from the T.V. show adding authenticity to an overall well put together audio experience? Check. Might be a little high here, but screw it, (9).

Story: This game covers the first 5 or so seasons of Dragon Ball Z very well. It touches on the main events of each Saga, and lets the player enjoy the plot that they’ve undoubtedly seen 1000 times already with a new sense of interaction. What really makes the story mode is the addition of some “What If” episodes in the game that serve to hand out some great fan service. Something else that;s cool is the fact that every “episode” starts with the recap of the last one to keep you up to speed, just like the show. The story mode is really the stand out feature of this game when it comes to actually playing it. It’s just really fun to relive all those classic DBZ moments, but this time with the ability to whup Cell and Freeza’s asses like there’s no tomorrow. (8).

Overall Score – 7.8

Final Thoughts: this game was made for the fans of Dragon Ball Z. and clearly those fans answered abruptly because I haven’t heard one fan of the show who played this game ever say they hated it. And really it is a fun game. It’s a competent fighter that might not offer up much to the uninitiated of the Dragon Ball universe, but if ill still keep you entertained, at least for a little while anyway. I would however not go into playing this game looking for anything deeper than just brawling out with some interesting characters and beating up your buddies. Like I said a few times now, that depth just isn’t there. Still, this makes a great party game and if you can get a copy to play on the GameCube, Wii or the Ps2, you should definitely put it in the list for your next game night. And now you can get a copy of it really cheap, so there’s no reason to pass if you;re interested.