Mega games get mega reviews in a megaly disordered fashion.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Dragon's Dogma: Skyrim but...challenging

Capcom can boast a wide variety of games for all consoles since their founding almost 20 years ago and in that time have created some of the more enduring multi platform franchises that are around today. From Street Fighter to Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, they have shown that they know what they're doing when it comes to sequels. It's interesting to note that one of their most marketed games of this year is actually not part of any of these franchises and is instead a game all on it's own: Dragon's Dogma, an in depth, challenging and yet simple RPG.

You can even clamber on cows. Hell yeah.

The crux of this game's story is that your heart has been eaten by a recently revived/summoned Dragon, branding you as an "Arisen" and causing most of the area to deem you as a super dragon hunter (even though you are a fisherman). You proceed to work your way up the monster food chain with your trusty sidekick until you are powerful enough to go and kill the aforementioned dragon. At which point shit gets fucking weird, and you end up becoming some sort of god after half of the city is destroyed. I'm not really sure what happened at the end to be honest, I was tired and it made little sense and after killing a giant dragon I just didn't really care. Kind of like the post game stuff for the recent Pokemon games.

It's this big....and yet there's post game stuff? Spoilers: The post game boss is one guy. One guy.

Now, most of the missions in the game are just "Kill X amount of Y monsters" and don't have any effect on the main storyline other than giving you the experience needed to level up. This is kind of frustrating, because if you play games like me and try to 100% them, then it requires you to constantly run backwards and forwards between towns to check noticeboards for decidedly pointless quests. That you still try and fucking do anyway. The highlight being "kill 40 rabbits". >:( 40 fucking rabbits. Tiny little balls of fur. Why could they possibly need killing, and why don't they just buy some fucking ferrets. The main story quests are actually quite exciting in contrast, having you fight a griffin and then hunt it down to it's nest or butcher your way through a wraith filled swamp. The only problem lies in the fact that there's barely any quick travel, and the only quick travel gems you have only spawn in one place, making it unfeasible. This requires you to spend most of the game running from ONE FUCKING END OF THE MAP TO THE OTHER. You do get to experience a brilliantly varied landscape and fight interesting battle against goblins, chimeras, saurians and dragons, but it's so fucking long! 

Beautiful as fuck, but now you need to run to the centre of town. And this is short, in comparison to the rest.

Repetition is the key in this game, with your sidekicks learning how to fight monsters by finding and killing them. This comes in very handy towards the end of the game where when you come across a troll, you can stand back and watch your allies take him down, whereas before they would flail around like idiots. It makes it feel much more like a multiplayer game even though it's just you playing, by having your team-mates shout out advice they have learnt through playing in other peoples games. That's right: your sidekick can be hired by another player to fill his group of four and then learn from the battles that he fights there, making him even more useful in your game, and vice versa. Soon you'll also learn the best way for you to take down monsters and will be scaling them to get to their weak points like a mini Shadow Of The Colossus. And it feels good. Very good.

Standard enemy. Climb snake and kill, climb goat and kill, batter legs, then smack lion's face in. Easier with 4 of you.

The level up system is decent, with you not only gaining level ups, but also proficiency levels in roles. The higher the proficiency level, the higher ranked moves you can learn which may be key for taking down later bosses. If you then want to swap to a different profession then there are some transferable skills to aid you, instead of you starting as a n00b all over again. Likewise, your sidekick also levels up this way, letting you pick and choose what sort of team you want and allowing you to swap roles accordingly. 

The magic archer fires multiple homing arrows. TOTALLY BADASS.

It's not all good news, though. NPCs sometimes don't spawn causing you real trouble in completing quests, and monsters wander, making you have to run everywhere to find them. Quest explanations cause difficulty as well by being cryptic and frustrating. You do get to explore, but I swear there's an area that I've never been to, even though I tried to do all the quests. In the end, you have to do the old RPG thing of running everywhere, talking to everyone and killing everything. And believe me, there is a lot of running. Fucking loads. And your team-mates shout things out that are really fucking pointless. After the 25th time running through the same canyon, I don't want my team-mates shouting "GOBLINS! GOBLINS! WATCH OUT!". By that point you've killed dragons and griffins. Goblins barely survive you breathing on them.

This guy isn't great, but it sums up how much running is done...Just watch the first few minutes.


Cliff Notes: Simple battle system that still provides excitement by giving increasingly fun monsters to fight. Even more fun when you become a L337 monster hunter and can take down Chimeras in less than a minute using your learned tactics. Just wish there wasn't so much FUCKING RUNNING.
Rating: 7/10. Because of the running.
Friend Recommend: Yeah, if you like RPGs then this is a good playthrough, and interesting. Definitely buy if you are a runner.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Shadow Complex: Proving There Is Nothing Wrong With Copying

By this point in your lives, I imagine that you've at least had a passing glance at Metroid and Castlevania. If you haven't, then that's fine, but I reserve the right to judge you. But whether you have or haven't I suggest you pick this game up ASAP. Why, I hear you say? WELL, LET ME TELL YOU:

Shadow Complex follows cheeky Jason (voiced by Nolan North, no less!) as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend who disappeared while they were backpacking through some caves somewhere (unimportant). He quickly finds out she is being held captive in a massive underground facility full of soldiers, experimental weapons, old mines, underground lakes and giant robots. Before you get all iffy about the fact that a Johnny Normalface is able to take down hundreds of enemies and not die, I should mention: he's the son of a top-tier army guy and was been trained in the ways of secret spydom before turning his back on said profession. There's a touching (read: hilarious) moment when he has a flashback to a chat with his dad before saying "You were right, I guess. Thanks dad". So yeah. without spoiling too much of the story: ex-secret spy trying to save Princess Peach from a faceless enemy in a giant Metroidvania underground complex while also saving the world. Standard gaming stuff, really, but that shit never gets old.

See, it's huge. Each tiny square is a screen. And that entire top area is explorable, too. HUGE.

Now, the game itself is incredibly easy to get used to. The buttons are only run, jump, shoot, and use item/melee. You could probably play this game with a Mega-Drive controller. But that's not a bad thing. This game isn't trying to be complex (despite it's name), it's trying to be enjoyable and you don't need complicated control schemes to do that, you just need A GOOD GAME.While exploring the facility you come across gold bars, security keys, better guns and parts of a super suit, much like Metroid. To find these, you are given a flashlight which highlights doors and vents and colour codes them to the relevant destroy method for your ease of opening. With the upgrades and super suit you're given new abilities to help you unlock more areas, until you're essentially Samus (minus the weird squashed up rolling. That makes no sense). This constant upgrade system stops the game from becoming stale and really makes the game fun. At one point you get gloves that let you super-punch people. Trust me, it's good. There's even a running count on how many people you have made scream. For real, they proper "AEEEIIIIGH!" when they get knocked off drops.

As I said: never fucking get's old. THIS. IS. ACCEPTABLE!

Apart from that, the game is played in 2.5D with you exploring in a standard sidescroller style, but having to sometimes shoot into the background. This is actually rather easy and I haven't had a single bit of trouble with shooting into the back. But if you do, you have unlimited bullets. So no biggee. There are a variety of different areas to explore, and some of them actually change as the game progresses (such as flooding an entire office area). Backtracking is on the most part easy, but there are a couple of nags in that a couple of areas become confusing later on, even with such a simplistic map. But there are guides online everywhere to help you find all the little secrets if you are having trouble. 

Pretty sure spy training doesn't cover this...

For those who complete the game quickly: there's a challenge mode that is genuinely challenging, with multiple different types of challenges and time limits. They're actually pretty fun and give you a hand in the main game by teaching you how to more effectively use your super suit to help you in your journey. The achievements are a hodge-podge of easy and hard, with an achievement for completing the game with no more than 12% of the items (which is ridiculously hard. I suggest New Game +ing it a couple of times first). The graphics are also sweet as, using Unreal 3 and being made by Chair/Epic, and the voice acting is perfect, with a script by a comic book writer.

Run super fast and the background blurs. AND YOU CAN RUN ON WATER AND DISINTEGRATE PEOPLE.

Apart from that, I can't mention too much as it would detract from the game and ruin it. As for downsides: there aren't really any. I mean, it is frustrating collecting all the items for a good 100% completion, but if an item is in the game, then the in game map mentions it. It's just a bit time consuming is all. And that doesn't matter when you are zooming around and rocket punching everyone...


Cliff Notes: Metroidvania in the modern age: sweet graphics, voices, gameplay, exploration...everything is sweet. Genius.
Rating: 9/10 I dropped one because sometimes items on the map are covered by other symbols :<
Friend Recommender: Yes. Of course. Buy it, you tool.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Prototype 2: The Amazing Infamous Crackodown

Prototype 2 is the charming story of a young, naive man searching for his daughter in a Finding Nemo-esque way while gaining powers to casually flit around a city and enjoy the sights. Obviously that's bullshit, but to be honest it'd probably make a better game than what it actually is. I didn't like this game. It was shit. Truly bad. It makes The Room look like Good Will fucking Hunting.

"Alt? There is no alt! I got a fucking squiggly line key, and a fucking key with a blue triangle on it! What kind of fucking keyboard is this anyway?!"

The game itself is a pretty standard open-city experience. You run around completing missions/side quests and collecting evidence. The problem lies in the fact that it's basically Crackdown 2 but melee based. It suffers from the same problems as Crackdown: boredom, repetition and iffy storyline. You pretty much have to play the same half hour over and over again for the entire game. They throw in some stealth missions, but to be fair all you do is scan for people who are out of sight of others, eat them and then repeat. And when the people in the room have gone from 15 to 4, you would think someone would pull the fucking alarm. But no. Everyone in the game is a retard.

"emo mutherfucker"

The AI has even more problems than just that, though. Considering you're the protagonist of the game and EVERYONE is looking for you, almost all the enemies are completely useless. You can sweep through the sky and fall far enough to kill a normal person into the middle of an army base and it only registers mild surprise. You get a "watch it!" and then are allowed to fuck off an hack their system. Which makes no sense. Or if you go on a killing spree all you need to do to lose the tail is run round a corner, transform, and then it's fine. You can be halfway up a fucking skyscraper but as long as you transform off camera, the helicopters won't even care that you are king-konging it around as a ninety year old woman. It ruins any kind of stealthiness you need or any of the challenge.

"Fuck off. I fucking hate computers."

The enemies are...weak. There's no challenge and the only reason I ever died was through fucking about. Fuck, they give you an ability which makes you impervious to bullets. There's no challenge with that kind of power-upping. The only slight challenge comes from the super mutants, and even they just need the right type of attack at the right time to kill them, no biggee. And even if you do have trouble with the enemies, everyone's a health pack. Or you can run away at the speed of sound. Even the last boss is a joke. Considering he's been running around cities for ages at this point he's barely any harder than your standard enemy, and is even less as memorable.

"Oh man, and I thought my balls were big!"

The achievements are worth a quick mention. Because they're quick. It's one of those games where you get the majority of them BY ACCIDENT WHEN PLAYING. They should not be achievements. There is no achievement in doing easy fucking things. Seriously, look it up, most of them are like a tutorial. Fucking pointless.

"Lance Bertram...Blackwatch APC driver. Doesn't sound important. Fuck it, I'll kill him anyway."

Now, I never played the first one so I don't have that to compare it to, but when compared to Crackdown this game does have it's merits. Because it's a melee based game the combat is more fun than Crackdown's primarily shooting based combat. Attacks feel meaty and satisfying and each "weapon" has a special move which devastates humans or allows openings in mutants. The dialogue is hilarious in a bad/good kind of way, with the main character swearing like a beast (as can be seen from the quotes dotted around) and often it's the swearing which stops the game becoming a joke. Or makes it one. Not sure, don't care. There's a decent upgrade system which will have you searching areas (albeit for a tiny amount of time) to allow you to level up all your abilities to their fullest. Running around the city is okay, no fiddly climbing like Crackdown. But meh. That's it on the good side, I'm afraid. From what I've seen, inFamous is way better. But then again, most things are...
"I'm going to skull fuck you & suck the memories out the hole"


Cliff Notes: Cut rate city exploration game with a repetitive mission system. Just play the first half an hour...
Rating: 4/10, and I'm being generous.
Friend Recommender: Fuck no. I'd recommend them to stay the fuck away.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013: A Magical Gathering

Most of you reading this probably haven't played any Magic the Gathering, either because it's beyond nerdy or just because it looks confusing as fuck. Well, this game is the perfect place to start if you want to see what's involved. For those of you who do play: this game is invaluable in fixing up your gameplans and actually being a good player, unlike me who just throws cards around like a kid on crack.

Firstly, this game tries everything in it's power to help you learn how to play. With a tutorial, three campaign modes and a challenge mode it quickly establishes an easy learning curve. It pretty much holds a tissue to your face and sternly says "spit." every few minutes, but you'll be grateful for it. Battles range from flat out monster swarms (Krenko's goblins) to a race against time (Jace's mill deck) and back to single attacking monsters (Nefarox's exalted deck from M13). Each of these not only show you how to play, but also let you experience what different decks and play styles have to offer. For the ultimate challenge, it also has the Challenge campaign: 10 or so halfway complete matches with a goal of finishing the match in a couple of moves. I'm not going to lie, I had to look up a couple of the solutions...but they show you some of the most technically awkward yet amazing moves in Magic.

For the Pros, the game has been properly programmed with all of the rules of MTG, allowing you to play through scenarios without having to wonder what exactly happens when you play certain combos of cards. This allows you to finesse your game by using odd rulings to get the upper hand in real life (such as what happens when a mix of monsters attack, some with first strike some without). This is invaluable as I've seen friends who know rules like the back of their hand realise they've been playing wrong, or finding out new ways to be a dick and ruining the game for everyone.

As you play through the matches you also unlock cards to add to your deck. In the deck manager you can make a deck of minimum 60 cards, all you need to do is add or remove cards to your deck that you've unlocked for that deck and then the game takes care of how many land are in your deck for you. Each deck is contained to only it's own cards, no mix ups with other decks, which makes it easier for n00bs, and also helps intermediates with learning to deck build efficiently. Deck.

Now, I haven't really talked about the game itself much but to be honest it'd be fairly pointless. If you haven't played it before I would recommend just downloading the trial on Steam for free because otherwise I'll confuse you, and for people who know how it's played: download it anyway, I don't need to explain the mechanics. There's a 90% chance you'll like it. The graphics and artwork is good, flying cards actually fly, and attacks have animations depending on the style of monster (flame elementals shoot fire from the card to the enemy player).

The best thing about the game is the multiplayer mode though. It allows you to play free-for-all matches as standard but there's also a 2v2 match, which is excellent fun and often hilarious. Especially if the right combination of decks come up. There's also a Planechase mode, which has a card in the centre which effects everything in the game and adds a ridiculous amount of randomness to the games, for better or (far more fucking often :< ) worse. There are problems with the match making though, and often the games will bug out and refuse to work halfway through which is frustrating but happens not too often. The only major drawback is people rage quitting. Which is fucking annoying. Don't do it. It makes you a dick.


P.s. Deck

Cliff Notes: Magic being Magic. Great for newcomers AND returning players alike.
Rating: 8/10 (for nerds), possibly 5/10 if not.
Friend Recommender: If they're nerds, then yes. If they aren't then I probably would try not to talk about Magic around them. Not going to lie. Once you mention mana, card draw or declaring blockers they kind of tune out.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Max Payne 3: Return of the Bullet Time

It's been about a decade or something since I last uploaded a review, but to be fair there's been pretty much nothing good out to play or I've had no money. It's either blank spaces when that happens or just me going "I played Mario on a SNES emulator again. That was...jumpy?", so get used to it. But yeah, review time.

Right, bit of backstory: Max Payne 1 came out in 2001, Max Payne 2 in 2003 and both are generally regarded as good, solid games. In depth, Noir-style, story and monologuing, decent action, well thought out bosses and also the first games to feature Bullet Time, which was a big deal for games back then. It makes sense that Rockstar would revisit the series on the latest generation console after nearly a decade gap to let people know what happened to Max, even without the lead writer from the previous games (instead they have the writer from Red Dead Redemption, which is good enough for me).

So yeah, the game itself. Well as you might have guessed diving slow motion through the air and nailing a guy across the room in the head with dual-wielded pistols before landing in cover behind a sofa and reloading is TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS. Other things that are TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS: running out of pain pills and diving slow mo over your only cover (through hanging pots and pans) to cap a guy with your shotgun, diving slow mo off a stair set and shooting a grenade with a bullet to kill your enemies, diving slow mo round a blind corner and taking everyone out with an AK before they notice you're there. Pretty much anything can be made better with slow mo diving. Except when you dive too far and kill yourself. No, wait, that's still cool. Obviously there's more to the game, but seeing as bullet time was the original selling point for a lot of people, it's just nice to note that it still hasn't gotten old.

The story is fairly standard and lousy with double crosses and people lieing, but it's all set in brilliant environments that make you want to watch more. I even felt compassion towards some of the characters, which I haven't felt since I saw Jaheira cry of Khalid's corpse at the start of BG2. Admittedly the situations are ridiculous, but even the game pretty much tells you try cry it a river before exploding everything on screen. There are the odd twist or turn that I didn't see coming and actually was fairly new. I would tell you and just label it spoilers, but you should just play through it and find out. If you start to get bored then the last line that Max says is completely worth it, trust me.

It's not perfect though. There are so many bits that are frustrating that it's not funny. In some areas, it's almost impossible to progress due to the enemies flanking system, volume, and lack of cover. The game does compensate by actually giving you more health packs when you die multiple times though, so that's always appreciated. The enemies have uncanny aim, as well, even on normal difficulty, but it makes you try harder instead of treating it like CoD. You also get to set the amount of auto-aim you receive as well, so that you can change things if they get too easy/hard.

As a parting note: I never even touched the multiplayer as I bought the game purely for the single player run through, so bite me. The achievements are a mix between playing the game or pretty difficult, which is nice as you can do a second playthrough and feel proud of what you do, or just playthrough once and snag up at least half if you try hard.

Anyway, I kind of lost interest towards the end, but yeah:: it's worth buying if you liked the others, and is a good place to start if you didn't. And once you finish here, go and buy a Blacksad comic because that is equally as Noir/awesome


Cliff Notes: More of Max being Max, with swearing, drugs, cartels, hookers, booze, bullet-time and shooting. Standard.

Rating: 7/10
Would I recommend it to friends: If they know who Max Payne is, then yes. If not, then maybe. But I would suggest buying it at a discount price just in case.

Return to reviews

I stopped reviewing games after a tiny amount of time actually reviewing shit because basically shit hit a shit fan. Like, as bad as Bioware's reputation in the past 6 months kind of bad. The kind where you know it's coming and you prepare, but the world still throws a Catalyst at you and you're forced to give stuff away for free because you suck.

But anyway, I'm going to make a comeback and try and stick with it seeing as there are some pretty decent games coming out soon as of September, starting with Borderlands 2, which looks delightful and pretty and you should buy it.

To commemorate my comeback, I will be doing a WEEK LONG SPECTACULAR REVIEW FEST, featuring at least 7 games, unless I do more, but I am pretty fucking lazy, so don't count on it.

Starting from Wednesday it shall go like this:

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (Steam)
Prototype 2 (360)
Shadow Complex (Live Arcade)
Dragon's Dogma (360)
Final Fantasy 12 (PS2)
Lollipop Chainsaw (360)
King of Dragons (SNES/arcade cabinet)
I will also be uploading a new pic for the blog from a good friend who I shall maybe link to on here if he wants me to, as it's a pretty awesome pic for something he "just sort of did".

Apart from that, peace out bros, and don't get all butthurt about the lack of sunshine.