Reviews by Azrael360


A worthy entry in the Castlevania series

Azrael360 | March 27, 2014 | Review of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD

Originally, Mirror Of Fate was a game developed for the Nintendo 3DS by MercurySteam as a direct sequel to the events seen in Lords Of Shadow (a reboot for the Castlevania series), and later released with improved graphics in HD on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, and now on the PC platform.

For this game, the levels designed in 3-D are played in a 2-D perspective (a "2.5-D" game), very much like the classic old titles in the series, especially using the standard set by the game Symphony Of The Night but with the combat style seen in Lords Of Shadow, and as expected for the PC version, this version in HD looks really good with gorgeous details and with soft and fluent animations, although sometimes you can still notice the handheld origins in the textures, and the cinematics have a cel-shading style. The sound is also good and the soundtrack is like always in the series, great. Although sometimes there's no music or a very subtle melody when the situation is calmed. But when there's action involved, the music shines with it. The control is also good and the game supports a gamepad. With an Xbox 360 controller, the control is very accurate.

You will be in the Dracula Castle during the entire game, with very long levels with beautiful backgrounds and plenty of checkpoints in between. And as always, you will have the chance to return to a previous point and use a different ability to reach some items or new places with more secrets to find.

Set around 25 years later after Lords Of Shadow, we play with 4 different characters in different periods of time: Gabriel Belmont, his son Trevor, his grandson and Trevor's son Simon, and Alucard. The story can be a little hard to follow for some people, because it's set during different periods, and only after completing these acts we can understand the whole story completely. We can also witness the origin of Alucard and the events that happened before the -already released- sequel Lords Of Shadow 2, where this character has a very important part in its story.

If you are a fan of the Castlevania series from a long time, you shouldn't miss this game. It's practically the Castlevania you ever wanted to play since Symphony Of The Night. And if you don't, but enjoyed Lords Of Shadow, this is a worthy game in the series as part of the new cannon established by Lords Of Shadow and using the old gameplay. Although the game is a little easy compared with the classic titles, is not a short experience and you'll need around 10-12 hours just to complete the main campaign, and much more if you'll also plan to look for the secrets in the castle.

It's one of the best Castlevania games I have ever played, and I've played almost all of them since the Nintendo NES era. Totally recommended. MercurySteam did a great job, again.


The Classic Flashback Modernized

Azrael360 | March 25, 2014 | Review of Flash back (NA)

Note: For this review, I won't compare the original Flashback with this new version, and it will be based purely in the experience offered from this re-imagined game.

After reading some reviews, I wasn't expecting something great but, I'm very happy that it's much better than expected. The game uses the Unreal engine and it looks good, and the sound is also good. The story is not original, but it keeps you interested in it. And the control is also good, and using a gamepad (Xbox 360 controller), the control is very accurate and not bad as I had previously read, probably because of the patches (or maybe not).

It has that 2-D perspective of those old games like the original Flashback or the earliest Prince Of Persia games from the 90s. The basic controls include: Jumping with (A), aiming and shooting with the right stick and [RT] respectively. You can also look around with the right stick, so you always can see and look for safe places to land or jump below you, or for hidden items. There's also a map that helps you if you don't know where to go. Obviously later in the game you can do more.

If you look back to back with the original game, this version is like an upgrade of the old game using the current modern systems if it was made today and not in the 90s. Although, just like the original, it is a little short (around 5-6 hours). The difficulty is not really high, and probably you will prefer to play it on Normal or above.

As a free Uplay Reward (for 0 Uplay points), the game also includes the original Flashback (1993 Edition).

Recommended for fans of 2-D action platformers looking for something old, but modern at the same time.


Don't be fooled by this little girl

Azrael360 | Feb. 8, 2014 | Review of Borderlands 2: Mechromancer Pack

Gaige The Mechromancer, the 5th new playable character, is a great add-on for Borderlands 2. With this dangerous girl with bad attitude, you will have the chance to try three new skill trees: "Little Big Trouble", which focuses in elemental damage and effects, like burning electrocution, especially effective against shielded enemies; "Ordered Chaos" (a.k.a. Anarchy), which focuses in increasing the damage done by your weapons, incredible effective to any enemy, but the higher the damage level, the accuracy will be affected as well although negatively. And the third skill is "Best Friends Forever", which focuses in her robot friend: Deathtrap, an extremely useful robot who can fight for Gaige with some helpful abilities.

The three new skills can be a little challenging to handle and manage for newcomers, so this is most recommendable for fans looking for some new way to play. Although, it's still recommendable for any fan of Borderlands 2. The important thing is to get the balance that works for you. A very enjoyable DLC.


Mafia II DLC Pack: A better deal

Azrael360 | Feb. 6, 2014 | Review of Mafia II DLC Pack

The DLCs for Mafia II are better to get in a pack like this with a lower price. Buying them separately is not recommended, since they do not add much content to the main game by themselves and it would be expensive.

In this pack, starting from the lowest value delivered by its DLCs, you will find some nice clothes that you can use from the beginning of the game, with an unique designs that you won't find in the base game, like the military suits or the more "modern" Vegas style suits, but these are just cosmetics and not really useful. Then there are the cars. These also are unique and not found in the game, like the Hot Rods. And just like the clothes, you will have access to them once you get access to your garage for the first time from the start, which by the way is extremely useful, especially with the fastest cars, like the great cars found in the Renegade DLC.

But new content to play is always more preferable, and this can be found in the Jimmy's Vendetta DLC and Joe's Adventure DLC. Jimmy's Vendetta offers a more "arcade" approach to Mafia II following the story of Jimmy, the mercenary from The Betrayal Of Jimmy DLC, with missions through the city against time and earning points, doing some generic missions, like killing someone or transporting something in the fastest way possible. Jimmy is not a likeable character and some missions can be really frustrating, so once you finish that DLC you will probably not play Jimmy's Vendetta again. But the star of the pack is Joe's Adventure, the DLC starring the best friend of Vito: Joe. Offering a similar approach like its predecessor, Joe's Adventure is filled with missions around the city and some of them has also a timer, but Joe is Joe, and you will have fun playing as him.

Although, both story DLCs share similar aspects and gameplay, including the classic sandbox gameplay of reaching a point to activate a mission, the main difference between them is while Jimmy's Vendetta is not connected at all with the main story of Mafia II, Joe's Adventure is, and it's set during an special time in the main game and after an important event in Vito's life in the late 40's and early 50's, starting with a great mission that fills a gap in the story of Mafia II.

If you really enjoyed Mafia II, you should consider this pack. It will be worth it, for the right price.


Good selection of new planes

Azrael360 | Nov. 11, 2013 | Review of SkyDrift: Extreme Fighters Premium DLC

So you want more new planes and with better stats to play from the beginning? Well then, this is for you. For a low price, you can have these three nice planes to play anytime you want, even from the beginning if you can't wait to unlock the others.

What these planes really offer, besides the great looking designs and more variety in planes, is a chance to pilot 3 extra planes with better stats overall, but they're not that different from the planes you will find later in the game, except from one stat that it's maxed out:

  • Vanguard: Max armor.
  • Sparrow X1: Max speed.
  • Triwing Vintage: Max boost power.

But don't think that they will guarantee an easy victory, your abilities are still needed to win with these planes. But still, if you really liked SkyDrift, you should think in getting this DLC. Adding these 3 new extra planes to the base 8 planes is not bad at all. If you're not sure, you can always wait for a sale.


Intense racing action... in the skies!

Azrael360 | Nov. 11, 2013 | Review of SkyDrift

SkyDrift, a game developed by Digital Reality, it's a racing game where you pilot an airplane and face intense combats against your opponents while racing against them. There's no place here for the faint of heart: the races are fast, the combat frenetic and the routes full of obstacles. What makes SkyDrift great, is the fun you'll get while playing it and its amazing moments where you'll be screaming "oh my god!" or "holy...!". With tight controls, you will be able to do some great stunts easily in these planes, especially with a gamepad.

Like any other "Kart" game, you will able to get items (weapons or bonuses) during the races to use against your opponents or for yourself, but also, you can convert these items in extra boost for more boost speed. The more you win or get to a podium position, more planes or skins are unlocked for you.

The closest game I could think to SkyDrift, is the flying segments of "Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed", but SkyDrift in 10x more intense, faster and open. The graphics are very similar to that game too, everything is very colorful, nice and well designed, but not everything can be good, right? Exactly as "Bang Bang Racing", another game made by the same developers, you may find some graphical glitches or corruption from time to time that can be a little annoying, but luckily they are really fast, so they're not game breaking.

Others negative points are: not being able to change the game language from the in-game options, so it'll always starts in the same language as the one set in the operating system (the only way to start the game in another language is to change this in the control panel); and if you play with a gamepad, the controls on screen will show always keys, not gamepad buttons, even in the tutorial. So if you want to know what the buttons do, you will have to see the control scheme in the options.

But everything else is so good, that you will forgive those issues and just enjoy SkyDrift.


Mafia II: The Real Mafia Experience

Azrael360 | Oct. 18, 2013 | Review of Mafia II

Mafia II is a fantastic sandbox-action-driving game. With an excellent story, superb graphics, sound and music, great gameplay and ambiance, it is highly recommended for anyone looking for a more mature sandbox game.

The level of details that this game has, is sometimes unbelievable. From simple things like pedestrians, houses and cars, up to bigger things, like buildings, streets and roads; and that includes even the smaller of things, like a cup of coffee or a newspaper. And don't forget the "playboys"...

You'll get easily, at least 15 hours out from it, and probably more. I have this game on Xbox 360 and now on PC, and always get at least 25 hours going for everything this game have, and that's just playing the base game without the DLC. And never get tired of it, that's how I really enjoy and love Mafia II.

As for the game itself, the story is amazing and the characters believable. Starting in the '40s and followed by the '50s, you will see that everything will change according to the years: cars, clothes, even the aspect and the climate of the city. The driving is also good, and every type of cars drives differently. Also the action is good and feels right, you can aim properly and also protect yourself behind something, and still be in control of your character to do what you want. And with a great selection of weapons at your disposal, you can always try different types of weapons according to your preferences.

With a big and beautiful city to explore, good cars to drive, and missions to unlock, you can't go wrong with Mafia II. Again, highly recommended.


The Island of Solitude

Azrael360 | June 3, 2013 | Review of Dear Esther

This game is simply beautiful, but maybe saying "game" is too much. Is more like an "interactive experience".

You are a man who’s alone in this solitary island with practically no life to be seen, with the exception of some birds around and maybe some fishes. While you walk your path travelling through this abandoned place, you’ll be hearing what the protagonist has to tell. And that’s the only way to know about the background story of this man and this place.

Graphically, this game is astonishing and the sound incredible realistic, with the sound of the ocean in the distant and the wind blowing. And that’s not all, at some point you’ll have to travel through some caverns with water running through the walls with the echo of the drops… That’s why I prefer to call it experience than a game, because here there aren’t puzzles to solve, or “bad guys” to kill. You just walk, observe, look around taking your time, hear the man and continue. There are many details to look at that are related to the background story, and if you look really closely, maybe you can find something else…

Finally, the soundtrack is exceptional and beautifully performed. I recommend listen it in a dedicated sound system to really enjoy it, if you have the soundtrack (sold separately).

What could be criticized, is the slow pace of the walking without been able to run or walk faster, but strangely, the game already had that function implemented and can be easily added to the configuration files of the game to be able to use them.

The game can be completed in 2 hours, with the possibility to see something different if it is replayed. Maybe is not recommended for everyone, but for the gamers patience enough that are looking for something to explore, without a doubt they will enjoy it the most.


A simple little racing game, and fun... for a while

Azrael360 | May 11, 2013 | Review of Bang Bang Racing

Bang Bang Racing is much better than it seems, but not by much. It is a simple racing game, with nice and colorful graphics and tight controls. I played it with an Xbox 360 controller, and the game is fully compatible with it. At first is very easy, with simple tracks and not too challenging, but don’t be mislead, these cars looks cute but their aggressive AI won’t let you win easily. In fact, once you reach the races with the fastest cars, prepare yourself to curse, because you will be crashed a lot by these pilots, especially in the very tight curves at high speeds, making almost impossible to get in the better positions if you make a few mistakes during the race.

Graphically, the game looks clean. Although sometimes you’ll see some quick glitches, like white polygons appearing on screen while taking a turn, but these are very, very fast, like a flash effect and doesn’t affect the gameplay or the driving. Also, there are zero graphics options to set and only two resolutions to choose: 1024x768 (for 4:3 aspect monitors) and 1366x768 (for 16:9 aspect monitors).

Sound, and especially the music are very generic, so don’t expect something fancy here. Interesting though, the music tracks are in MP3 format, and can be easily replaced.

Overall, is a nice little racing game that surely will bring you a few hours of joy, but once you finish with it, there’s not much else to do.