The first thing you need to know about Bakugan: Defenders of the Core is that these guys are humongous, sometimes as tall as skyscrapers. And when they get to brawling, all bets are off. Godzilla has nothing on Bakugan.
|BAKUGAN: DEFENDERS OF THE CORE
Activision for PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS, PSP
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 7.5
Official Web Site
Pros: Really feels like Bakugan; vivid, colorful battles; customizable characters
Cons: No online multiplayer; graphics have jaggies; story needs focus
Bakugan has always been a fascinating strategy game. The cards fire your imagination and with a toy, you play them as if you were one of the big beasts yourself. Last year’s video game was like the card game, even though it had a lot of variations. Remember that battle arena filled with tornadoes?
But the changes with Defenders of the Core are significant and generally cool. Sure, as the game starts, you’ll wish you had more than five options on eyes or outfits to customize your character. But the customizing is quick and easy.
ON TO STORY MODE
In Story Mode, you find some animation scenes. The story isn’t that clear at first. Soon, though, you’re told that Earth is under attack by the scheming Spectra and the wicked Vexos.
Your job? To join The Resistance and travel from city to city with Mira, Baron and Ace. You’ll take on the Vexos and break the mammoth crystals that are sucking up Earth’s energy. You also have to protect certain landmarks from being destroyed.
The first couple of levels include tutorials, which you need since every button and trigger on the controller does something important. What’s good about the tutorial is that it doesn’t seem like learning. Instead, it is woven into the story. So when Interspace starts shaking and breaking, you’re moved right into the tale and the first mission.
The first battles are pretty easy to win. Before each of them, you travel around the city avoiding traps and getting Core Energy to help you when you get hit in battle. You also retrieve Vexos Passes, which let you go free if you’re captured.
Occasionally, you’ll find a chest with a battle card with a special ability to help you in your fight. Be careful how you used them; they only work once.
One cool aspect of the story is that you start out unsure of yourself. But as you progress and prove yourself, you become more confident in your abilities. Just like real life.
Additionally, you can brawl in Battle Arenas, a holdover from last year’s game. Here, you can move around and battle freely, almost anywhere you want to go.
You can pull off hits in the air. You can smash nearby buildings. You’ll also have fun pressing the X and Y buttons to pull off combos.
At first, you’ll just want to button mash. But if your opponent knows Bakugan well, that’s not going to help for very long. Aim carefully and block frequently.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re a stickler for detail, you’ll wish the graphics were better. You just shouldn’t see jagged edges on an Xbox 360 game. Also, there’s a half second of lag between the time you talk to a non-playable character and when you can move your character again. With last year’s game, you could play with friends if they were at your house, but you couldn’t go online for multiplayer. Unfortunately, you still can’t go online for multiplayer, a big mistake.
Even so, the crazy abilities of the battlers, their sheer size and the brilliant colors emitted from weapons and hits are always exciting. But for the next version, the game makers need to tighten the story to make it flow more naturally. They certainly have to add online multiplayer. And wouldn’t it be great if there was some Kinect functionality, so you could feel like you’re really brawling without a controller in your hands?
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