Monster Jam (2007, Monster Truck Racer, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew
Producer: Kevin McIntosh
Game Designer: Ben Evans
Lead Level Designer: Van Ricketts
Lead Programmer: Stuart Cameron

Monster Jam (2007)

Race some of the world’s most famous monster trucks around fictional locations causing spectacular carnage and performing fantastic stunts. Unlock more events, trucks and videos as you progress through the championship mode which includes races around large outdoor fantasy tracks, indoor (more realistics) stadium tracks and freestyle stunt events.

3/10

Technically deficiency (on 360, a hopeless frame-rate, embarrassing texture work and a physics engine that is untuned for the mass carnage and obstacles caused by the gameplay) mean that what should be a fun, spectacular, unusual racing experience is something you want to end as quickly as possible. The game design is largely fine (with the exception of the unexplained scoring and stunt system in Freestyle events) with races rewarding both finishing position and chained carnage caused. Freestyle events concentrate on stunts (such as crushing cars) and help add some variation. Sadly, the physics are simply incapable of allowing the player to have fun because it almost always is taking control away from you. You never have any idea where your monster truck is going to go when you turn the wheel or hit an obstacle or touch the boost or drive along a clean bit of road in a straight line (hint, you probably won’t). This is a technically half-hearted (or half-budgeted?) effort and a missed opportunity to add another regular franchise to the racing game oeuvre.

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Need for Speed: Shift (2009, Nearly Undrivable Circuit Racing Game, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew

Need for Speed 13 Need for Speed: Shift (2009)

Track-based circuit racing.

3/10

This is unquestionably the worst gamepad driving experience ever delivered by a major console driving game, simulation-biased or not (the demos seem to drive differently to the full game). What is truly amazing about this is that none of the contemporary reviews ever highlighted it. IGN’s walkthrough for the game tells you but the review (a mind-boggling 8.7-9.0) does not (it does contain a passing remark that it is a ‘none-too-small task just keeping the car on the road’; 9.0 I remind you). The game is almost unplayable with the default settings and the menu that allows you to manhandle the controller into actually giving you a degree of control is easy to miss. Because the core driving experience with a gamepad is so atrocious, it doesn’t matter that the game looks good (aside from horrid texture filtering most apparent, sadly, on vinyl-laden cars), sounds good, features an excellent cockpit view, a ferocious sense of danger, an enticing badge reward system, a few unusual circuits and some tenacious AI opponents who even move over when being lapped. All-in-all then, a worthy successor to Need for Speed: PooStreet. If only there was some such pun for Shift.

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Meet the Robinsons (2007, Third-Person Action Platform Puzzle, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

3/10

If you’re playing for gamerscore, this is a notably joyless experience. If you’re just playing the game, it’s not much better as the makers mess up straight-forward design decisions. The most notable example is that things you need to readily recognise change colour and texture in different areas (the transport tubes, particularly) and items you need to target with your varied selection of, sadly, awkward-to-juggle gadgets can sometimes not be seen. The auto-target system is also nearly completely broken and sometimes the directions on the left stick makes you character or the auto-target move in a different direction to that which you used. It doesn’t even look nice thanks to bland, unappealing CG character design inherited from the movie. Avalanche Software’s next Disney game, Bolt, is much, much better.

This game contains fantasy violence.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

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Crash: Mind Over Mutant (2008, Platform Action, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew
Art Director: Yousuf Mapara
Technical Director: Ryan Ridout
Lead Game Designer: Joe McGinn
Technical Project Manager: Katrina Archer
Game Project Manager: Angie Schick
Lead Programmer: Ian Gipson

Crash: Mind Over Mutant (2008)

3/10

This is an endlessly irritating game which thinks that having a bouncy ditty playing in the background means fun. The game has been redesigned to be more of an open-world environment but it takes forever to get anywhere (you will lose the will the live first) and there is no clue as to how to get to places you want to reach (for completing achievements in the end-game). Each area of the game is unlocked by playing individual missions but these are way too long with a surprisingly large number of loading screens breaking them into several parts making them feel even longer. It’s also bizarre that there’s no auto-save (even though there was on Crash of the Titans). There is some decently challenging though, sadly (thanks to the controls and camera), irritating platforming in here and the enemy creature design, but not the charmless Crash himself, is fun.

This game contains innuendo and fantasy violence.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.

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Iron Man (2008, Third-Person Action Movie Game, 360) – 3/10 review

Iron Man Iron Man (2008)

Weapons-inventing genius Tony Stark has a change of heart and decides to rid the world of weapons he believes are in the wrong hands by not telling anyone he’s invented a perfect AI, building the most brilliant and destructive battle suit (i.e., weapon) of all time and going on a genocidal rampage across the world. No, hang on, that didn’t come out right.

3/10

Well, at least it’s easy to determine what’s wrong with this movie game: the flying controls are near unusable. Remarkably, the camera, aiming and movement controls are different when doing just about anything. Therefore, the only people who will ever play this game and get something out of it are those after a big lump of gamerscore. Add to that the unspeakable ugliness of the game and "movies," and the lazy difficulty and you have a legitimately worthless entertainment product. That sold nearly three million copies worldwide.

This Iron Man game contains violence.

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

LEGO Bionicle Heroes (2006, Game, 360) – 3/10 review

Director: Jon Burton

LEGO Bionicle Heroes (2006)

Stop the island of Voya Nui succumbing to the evils of Piraka who has used the Mask of Life to transform the wildlife into aggressive creatures. Use the masks of the Toa Inika and harness their powers to put Piraka and his minions back in their place.

3/10

Strangely, no-one seems to have told Traveller’s Tales that you can’t see what you’re doing. Which is something of a problem in a video (from the Latin "to see") game. The game design is identical to the companies’ highly successful LEGO Star Wars and one suspects that the over-the-shoulder view was introduced to make it look different and appeal to slightly older children (that is, it looks like a shooter instead of a platformer). Unfortunately, in conjunction with the already unappealing characters and pig-ugly graphics, this has made the game very unfriendly to use and not fun to play despite the strong and addictive game design buried within.

This game contains extended projectile violence.