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I've recently upgraded my Xbox 360 hard drive to allow a greater amount of storage space, and I'm making the most of it by downloading some arcade games. Arcade games are often an independent release available to purchase exclusively through Microsoft's Marketplace on Xbox Live. I spotted From Dust when it was previously featured as a Game of the Week deal, and was reduced from its usual "cost" of 1,200 Microsoft points, right down to just 480 Microsoft points. To give you an idea of value, Microsoft points are purchased using real cash, at a standard "exchange rate" of 500 points = £4.25, 1,000 points = £8.50, and so on. Description: "A modern God game where nature is the star. Immerse yourself in a world as exotically beautiful as it is dangerous! You control the destiny of a primitive tribe against the backdrop of a world in constant evolution, a universe where mighty Nature reclaims what is hers and your mastery of the elements is your people's only chance of survival..." My first experience of "God" games was through my dad who, years ago, used to spend endless evenings playing Populous on my brother's Sega Master System II and recording all the level passwords for us! I never had quite the same level of dedication but I think they're a fun way to pass the time and it makes a nice change from the usual sort of video games I play that are character driven. From Dust is an excellent example of a modern God game and I have been addicted to playing it since I first downloaded it. It has a classic approach giving you a top-down view, but the camera manoeuvring is very fast and advanced, so you can scan over the whole area quickly and keep an eye on all that is going on. You are also able to zoom in and get a close-up view if you need to see something in detail, rather than just having an overview. The story mode is made up of a series of levels that introduce new elements and threats for you to overcome. As the overseeing God figure, you are leading a lost tribe through different lands and helping them to set up villages and keep them safe, making the area suitable for them to settle in and stay protected from the natural disasters that seem to be commonplace here. This lost tribe is seeking to rediscover memories of their tribe, and you help them along in their search to uncover information about their past and their culture. You control a power known as "the breath" which gives you the ability to restructure the land as you see fit. You can move the earth and water, with varying results. Some areas may need to be drained of water before your people can pass over them, and some areas may need more soil to allow plants to spread and grow. You can only perform one action at a time, and unlike a lot of strategy based games, there is no complicated menu of commands, so it's quick and easy to get started with playing the game. You're also given little pop-ups at various stages to help inform you about the worlds and give you hints about what you need to do. The levels progress at a steady pace, with the landscape constantly making small adjustments that you will need to observe and handle. You'll also have to deal with the natural disasters that occur frequently, ensuring that the tribe is able to protect their village and giving them a helping hand to do so. The levels build in difficulty and there are extras to aim for if you want to obtain 100% completion. I find that the best way to play a level is to get a full overview of the land to begin with and get a good idea of what strategy I should use in progressing to build the required villages and complete the extra objectives. Sometimes the timing is really crucial and if I have not planned well then my whole village can be destroyed and I'll effectively have to start back at square one again. It can be very challenging when there are multiple things going on across the same level and you have to balance and prioritise in order to get everything to come together in the right time. The only downside is that once you have figured out the best way to handle that level, it makes it a bit boring to play again and I feel that this limits the replay value. It's not much fun playing the exact same levels repeatedly and there are no variable difficulty settings to choose from. Some of the levels give you the opportunity to earn extra powers which can assist you in handling the different environments, which adds further interest and also makes the game feel pretty cool. Who wouldn't want the power to turn water into jelly?! There are a few quirky touches which keep the game fresh as you're playing through and I really enjoyed it. The game is really nicely presented, with a sharp and artistic graphic style and realistic responses to changes made in the environment. I liked the theme of the game and appreciated the effort that has gone into creating the history of the tribe, giving a detailed appearance to the settings, and even the speech is given in a native language with English subtitles, which all helps to draw you into the game and give you the all-round experience of watching over a real tribe. Sound effects and music are an important part of the game, and they fit in seamlessly with clear and dramatic effect. Some of the visual effects are stunning, for example when you have protected a village against an incoming tsunami tidal wave, and you see the water flooding in across the rest of the land with just a tiny refuge in the centre where your village stands strong and unaffected. The interactive environment features seem to be really accurate, with soil eroding away as water washes over it, and trees catching fire if they grow too close to a flow of volcanic lava. Most of the time I've found that Arcade download games are quite simplistic, and in theory this is a simple game - escort villagers to safe zones then move on to next level - but when you look a little closer you can see how advanced some of the development work is, and the game flows perfectly with attention given to even the finest detail. As well as the regular story mode there is also a challenge mode featuring 30 individual challenges. These are all short and sweet, but require some precision planning to be successful. Each challenge has one objective and you are given a strict time limit to achieve the desired outcome. These are a really nice addition to the main game and I like to try my hand at a few of the challenges in between completing levels on the story mode, just to break it up a bit, as the fast and furious style contrasts nicely against the more drawn out large levels where there are multiple goals. To unlock all of the challenges you will need to reach various stages of completion throughout the story mode, so the two aspects of the game work well together, and it encourages you to get the most out of the whole experience. By playing through both sections then you get the maximum possible gameplay and this makes it good value for money. This is a perfect title for complete-ists, as there are not only levels to complete and challenges to unlock, but also a collection of memories to recover and 12 achievements offering a total of 400 Gamerscore points in return for reaching full game completion in all aspects. From Dust is an addictive game that is fun to play although it is frustrating at times, but that's all part of the enjoyment from being so immersed in their little world. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of established titles with a similar style, such as Populous, Black & White, Sim City, etc. I think I got a real bargain for less than £4.00, and am glad that I spotted this while it was on offer. Alternatively, From Dust is also available to purchase through PSN for PlayStation3, or Steam for PC gaming.
This game was one of the 2011 summer of arcade games for the Xbox live market place. it takes place in the past and is based around a tribe of people who are searching for the people who came before them. the aim is to create a set number of villages around the map and make it to the gate without losing all of your people. you play the breath an element controlling being who must use the resources around the village to protect the villagers. this game really does build on the idea of the lemmings but adds a modern update in that you must use the elements to protect you people think of it as a RTS lemmings game. the way that you use the elements is that you can pick up mud, sand, water and lava and put it somewhere else. lava makes more land and or walls, sand and mud can be moved to make paths and walls and water can be moved to slow the progression of lava. during the course of the game you must defend your village from the elements by using the elements. re-diverting lava and water and collect the knowlege of their predecessors to protect them for natural disasters such as tsunami's and volcano eruptions. this game has two modes which is the standard campaign and the challenge mode each of which consists of a good amount of levels and can give up to a weeks worth of playing the first time round. the challenge mode itself consist of around 50 short missions. there is not real online mode but it dose contain a leaderboard. i would recommend this game to fans of RTS and the lemmings purely because they have the same principles.