By Steven Rondina
You know when you’re bored, but you’re just not bored enough to want to play one of your old games that you’ve already beaten four times? Well, thanks to the Xbox 360’s ability to download demos over Xbox Live, you almost never have to be bored again. But which demos are the best wastes of time? Well, this article will help you choose which five demos will best help you squander away your day the effectively (Demos were chosen as of November 28, 2006).
5) Prey– Prey is one of your standard, alien invasion, great escape combos where you’re abducted from your bar by aliens and are constantly haunted by your old, mystical, DEFINITELY NOT A RACIAL STEREOTYPE Native-American grandfather in a desperate attempt to somehow escape from an in-orbit alien ship. The demo features lots of intricate puzzles, a notable array of weapons, loads of opponents, and lots of especially surprising moments (In one scene, two children are impaled and dismembered). You can milk a few fun hours out of the Prey demo, and the modestly annoying resurrection tasks (where you die only to be sent to some kind of spirit desert, go through a short series of puzzles which, when completed, return you to your body) add some length to the demo despite feeling tacked-on. The gameplay is standard FPS fodder, but the unique weapons and surprises can set it apart from the rest. Overall, the demo will last you anywhere from 90 to 150 minutes. There’s definitely a lot of game to be had here.
4) Condemned: Criminal Origins– Condemned is the second FPS on this list, but it is like no other game on the market. This long-in-development project from Monolith (the crew behind F.E.A.R. and the No One Lives Forever, not to be confused with Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos’ Monolith Soft) takes the number four spot for best 360 demo. Condemned is almost definitely one of the most unique games available on the 360, and was arguably the best game in the 360’s launch lineup. The game features one of the best melee combat systems, where you can pull things like pipes and boards off the walls of the dilapidated buildings you need to muddle your way through. The graphics and lighting effects make this one of the creepiest games around, and the savage enemies and constant little scares force you to stop and regain your bearings. The demo is kind of short, though, clocking in at around an hour, tops. However, it is worth playing a few times through, and there’s some fun stuff to discover.
3) Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII– While Blazing Angels didn’t get the greatest reception when it dropped, for people looking to screw around for a few hours with part of the flight simulation genre, this is probably worth checking out. The game handles pretty intuitively (left stick moves, right stick looks, right trigger shoots, etc.), leaving a minimal learning curve, and the graphics are very nicely done (though the voice acting needs a lot of work). But when it’s WWII simulation, it’s all about the dogfights, which are somewhat iffy in Blazing Angels. Between the somewhat drawn-out intervals between the massive platoons meeting and getting wiped out, the long treks between battles can feel drawn out. And to boot, the difficulty goes randomly from Wind Waker to Ninja Gaiden in seconds. What makes this demo fun is how it has three different levels addressing three different kinds of combat, with a tutorial leading into a rescue mission, a high-flying assault and a defense mission that takes place over the Atlantic. With this, you can waste probably two to three hours killing Nazis (who speak English…poorly).
2) Dead Rising– This one is definitely one of the best games on the 360 thus far, and the demo is great as well. Capcom’s well-crafted zombie survival horror title features dozens of weapons that you can throw, chop smash and bludgeon enemies that each handle differently. The game ended up being surprisingly good. The demo starts with a short cut-scene, which has no real relevance, and then abruptly drops our reporter hero right in the middle of the zombie-infested mall. The entire demo takes place a massive part of the mall, with access to numerous shops that have all sorts of loot-able objects that can be used as weapons (including gallon bottles of frying oil from fast food restaurants, electric guitars from a music store, and shopping carts). The disappointing part is that as soon as this area is exited, a cut scene begins, and the demo ends, leaving ladies to save, hostages to rescue and oddly-placed military vehicles being used to terrorize people by escaped convicts to destroy. There are loads of stores to explore and lots of weapons to be found (jump out the window of the restaurant on the second floor to find a katana). There’s an infinite flow of zombies as well, and the sheer effort put into this game lets it avoid the button-mashing, hack-and-slash feel that can be felt in lesser games. The demo offers a lot of places to look through, and checking out all the different cut scenes will probably offer an exceedingly bored gamer a solid four to six hours of great fun. This is certainly worth checking out.
1) Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Online)- There are two different versions of GRAW available on the Marketplace, the Online and the Campaign. The Online version is the one to download. This one allows for the full GRAW multiplayer experience (but only on one map, Boneyard) and allows for full eight-on-eight online versus mode. GRAW’s overall gameplay is remarkably solid, with standard shooter controles, many multiplayer options and a wide array of guns to use. There are a few problems with the demo, though, as it doesn’t allow for custom match searching, leaving gamers at the mercy of the Russian Roulette that is the “Join Now” feature. However, the map offers loads of different play styles to emerge, and tweaking the weapon set completely changes the pace of the match. The demo offers as much online combat as anybody can handle, with no time limit or closing date. The strong gameplay and just general fun of the GRAW demo makes this the best demo available on Live. Definitely worth downloading for everyone who doesn’t own the game
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