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CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

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Posted January 12, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly




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CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

One of the video game highlights of CES was the Xbox Live Arcade House Party kickoff event that introduced us to the titles Beyond Good & Evil HD, Bejeweled Blitz, Torchlight, Full House Poker, and Hard Corps: Uprising that will be occupying our spring this year. Like the Summer of Arcade before it, House Party stands poised to dominate the XBLA charts this coming spring. 

All five games were on-hand for hands-on at the House of Blues with actresses Shannon Elizabeth hosting the evening. I admit, it was a headscratcher for me as well until I found out she's a mainstay on the Celebrity Poker Tour. While I did go up against her in Full House Poker, there was no head to head action. Ultimately, I placed out sixth out of twenty which means one thing: no money. 

But we did play all of the XBLA House Party titles, and you can read what we thought about them down below. House Party launches February 16 with Hard Corps: Uprising kicking things off.

CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

Hard Corps: Uprising

What they say: Thrilling, retro, run-and-gun action is back with a vengeance in Hard Corps: Uprising, a new 2-D side scroller, developed by ARC System Works Company Ltd., that pays homage to the classic Konami action series. Play as the soldier Bahamut as he begins to write his legend in this spiritual prequel to “Contra: Hard Corps.” Battle in the grueling trenches of Arcade mode or the all-new RISING mode, where a life bar and point system allow you to purchase items and upgrades to build your soldier up and achieve ultimate victory. Need help? Partner with a friend in online co-op mode to lay down some serious carnage. 

What we say: The co-op is fun both online and offline, but it wears thing quickly. Plus, they really should have just called this game Hard Corps: Contra, because that's exactly what it feels like. Analog sticks get a lot of love here.
 
CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising


Bejeweled Blitz Live

What they say: Take on friends in the brilliant gem-matching action of Bejeweled Blitz Live. You’ve got just 60 seconds to strategize, match and detonate as many gems as you can. Choose your favorite playing style — Classic or Twist — and rocket up the leaderboards. Battle your way to the top in the all-new 16-player Party mode over Xbox LIVE. Conquer the boards as you compete for score, style and speed. Create cascades of fun with Flame gems, Lightning gems and Hypercubes. You can even combine scores with friends for the highest weekly and all-time Friendscores. The challenge is irresistible. 

What we say: Yes, it's Bejeweled, which shocks nobody, but the 16 player Party mode is a lot of fun, and you'll be climbing the leaderboards obsessively just like you do on Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. However, this game also gives you Bejeweled Twist built in, where you twist four gems instead of flip-flopping them. To me, Twist is just a much better game. A gem, if you will.

CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

Beyond Good & Evil HD

What they say: Now you can experience the thrill of the fan favorite Beyond Good & Evil on Xbox LIVE in full HD. Enter the futuristic world of the year 2435, a world full of deception, where nothing is as it seems, and exposing the truth is the only hope of restoring freedom. Play as action-reporter Jade and capture the truth using stealth, force and wits against a government that deceived you in this action-adventure with elements of puzzle-solving and stealth-based games. Battle against the forces of conspiracy, and master amazing tag-team fighting combos with allied resistance fighters. 

What we say: This game was both a joy and a burden to play. It was a joy, because I'm getting to experience Beyond Good & Evil all over again, and a burden because it just makes me wants Beyond Good & Evil 2, for real. Seriously, the game looks extremely pretty in HD, and it's the same BG&E that you know and love, or are ready to experience for the first time. You lucky sucker.

CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

Full House Poker

What they say: Bet your way to fame by playing Texas Hold ’Em anytime, anywhere. Compete against your friends and thousands of players around the world. Play a quick two-player game for some lightning action; join a big 30-player tournament; or play a round of Texas Heat, a live poker game show that gives you 30 minutes to bluff, bet and raise your way to the final table. Show off your personality and keep your opponents guessing with unique tells, flashy avatar costumes, entertaining unlockables and awesome chip tricks. Build your bankroll and your poker skills while on the go with Windows Phone 7 and share your stats across platforms as you make your mark as a Full House Poker pro. 

What we say: Yes, poker is nothing new to Xbox Live, but Full House Poker is a fun, avatar-based experience that makes the game thoroughly enjoyable. You can learn chip tricks for your avatar, level up, unlock outfits and venus (over 150 unlockables total) and play tournament-style where a loss bumps you down to a table with a smaller pot. There are rumors that the 1 vs 100 style of live gameplay might come to Full House Poker, and based on our time with it, that would be a welcome addition. If you're serious about poker but want a casual environment to play it in, this is right up your alley.

CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising

Torchlight

What they say: A highly regarded PC game with more than 800,000 units sold to date, Torchlight is now coming to Xbox LIVE. Combat is more exciting with revamped controls and mechanics, new armor and quests. There’s even an exclusive new pet for your character. Send a select goodie or two to your friends on Xbox LIVE to share the fun for the first time. 

What we say: HELLLLLLL YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! Seriously, I have sung my love for Torchlight so much that people are going to suspect that I work for Runic Games. Rest assured, I don't. The remapped controls take some getting used to, but they do a fine job of emulating the PC/Mac experience on the Xbox. Plus, you'll get an exclusive new third pet to choose from. It's Torchlight on your Xbox. Really, do I need to say any more? The only thing I wish is that this could have come out sooner. It won't sync up with your existing PC or Mac version, obviously, but it will offer up some achievements. I'll gladly retrace my steps to pick those up.


So what do you think? Planning on checking any of these out? If you pop into poker, come throw down a hand or two with me.

Have something to share? Have an idea for a feature you'd like to see on G4? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

CES 2011: Hands-on Full House Poker, Beyond Good & Evil, Torchlight, Bejeweled Blitz, and Hard Corps: Uprising
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