Published on September 22nd, 2009 | by Greg0
3×360: Halo 3:ODST, Wet, Mini Ninjas
It’s been a pretty great couple of weeks for gamers, as the pre-holiday season kicks off with some major launches. We’ve got three different Xbox 360 titles on hand, though two of them are multi-platform. Two of them are rated M, one is ESRB rated for everyone. It’s been a while since we last looked at 360 games, though we did take a look at a Wii title not long ago- we’re happy that the summer doldrums are over and that our controllers are getting overtime once again.
We’ll start with Mini Ninjas, certainly the cutest of the games on today’s slate. From Eidos and IO Interactive, the folks behind Hitman, it’s a departure to say the least. You control six different characters- you guessed it, ninjas- each with different skills and powers. It’s a single-player game, which is kind of too bad, as we would’ve enjoyed a bit of co-op action. The game is short on plot, but big on character, which makes for an enjoyable, if short, experience. There really aren’t many kid-friendly titles in recent memory that are quite as attention-grabbing as this one, and that offer a good balance of play styles. Sure, it’s easy enough to play aggressively, but we found it pretty fun to play as a non-fighting character as well. It feels, at times, like a more open (and less frustrating) version of Ninja Gaiden, but referencing a bunch of other games and even movies (Kung Fu Panda). Cute, charming, and a pleasure to watch and play, it’s a great title for the younger ones even if it won’t really offer much new to experienced gamers. Mini Ninjas is also available for the DS, PS3, Wii, and PC, and runs about $25-$40 depending on the version.
Of course, it’s it is something a little more hardcore that you want, Wet from Bethesda Softworks has you covered. Again, we tried the Xbox 360 version, which offered moments that blew us away. Sure, there are similarities to a few other games- No More Heroes, for one- but it feels more like Kill Bill or Grindhouse meets Devil May Cry. The heroine here isn’t a Tomb Raider over-sexualized figure; we definitely appreciated the creation of a female character that didn’t offer vast amounts of skin. Wet is a slick, over-the-top game, and when the action works as it often does, it’s a ton of fun- a fun blend of swordplay, gunwork, and acrobatics. We loved the soundtrack, and the voice acting and graphics are pretty good, with a plot and story that are passable. The game does lose appeal a bit quickly though, as you realize that enemies are generally weak, AI mediocre, and again with the fact the game is single-player only. After games like Crackdown and Infamous and Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed, you’d think designers would have figured out how to handle acrobatics, but for a game with such a large component of jumping and climbing, the mechanics don’t work and end up frustrating players quickly. Level design screams boring, and the replay value isn’t really there. Overall, though we loved parts of Wet, and in 15-minute bursts it’s pretty fantastic, it’s hard to recommend to folks beyond fans of the genre though. Wet is also available on the PS3, and costs a bit over $50 at the time of publication.
Finally, Bungie has set the bar high with the previous Halo titles. With only a few departures from the core series, like the RTS Halo Wars that we previously reviewed and the board game Risk: Halo Wars that we’ll be reviewing soon, Halo 3: ODST is a bit of a challenging sell. Offering the same basic multiplayer you’ve already played in Halo 3 with one major addition and a few new maps, this new title changes the hero and some of the gameplay concepts, trading out some of the newer Halo tweaks and adding a bit of nightvision into the mix. While Master Chief might not have been talkative, the Orbital Drop Shock Trooper lead here, Rookie, is harder still to get a handle on- we wished for Red vs Blue to add some levity more than once. And while the visuals are great, and some environments are excellent, a few of the levels are boring and repetitive. It might not be a big deal, except that Halo 3: ODST is only about six hours long for the primary campaign. Thankfully, there is four player co-operative play that really offers a neat experience (and works almost as well with fewer players). We’d be remiss not to mention the four player co-op mode, Firefight, that offers a great challenge that surprised our reviewers- it manages to be quite fun, despite the repetitive nature, with waves of enemies coming and teamwork necessary to have a chance. As an expansion pack, it would have been fantastic. But as a full-priced game, with the bar set as high as Bungie as set it, Halo 3: ODST doesn’t quite deliver. It’s tasty all the same, and a must-buy for Halo fans until the next fully-baked experience, Halo: Reach comes in (hopefully) 2010. $50, 360 exclusive.