Reviews by DashKrimson
Gorgeous shmup with a dark story and stiff challengeDashKrimson | Dec. 6, 2013 | Review of Sine Mora
I'm always up for a new arcade-style shoot-'em-up - Jamestown and Raiden Legacy, as well as far too many MAME games, in my backlog can attest to that. So, when Sine Mora was announced, I decided to take a close look at the PC version when it released. What I found was a really pretty game with a forgiving difficulty curve on Normal difficulty, a weirdly dark and gritty war story populated by furry (but the good kind of furry - don't worry, you'll understand when you play it) characters cussing each other out in Hungarian, and unfortunately, an uninspired weapon upgrade system, enlivened somewhat by the ability to control the flow of time in-game - you can slow down the rest of the game, including bullet movement, while leaving your ship at normal speed, allowing you to dodge almost anything with ease, but only for a limited time.
Also of note is the way that the story mode progresses - it doesn't follow a linear path through the story's timeline, instead joining different pilots and their missions at different points in the story, presumably as a way to get you to use all of the ships rather than just a hastily-chosen default all the way through. However, most of the ships have similar firing patterns and upgrade paths, with only their limited-quantity secondary weapons distinguishing them from each other, and it can be hard to see their hitboxes in the fiery midst of combat. Furthermore, the way that the graphics have been done, lovely though they are, tend to blend the foreground and background too much - especially bad when foreground elements can kill you - and enemy bullets can get lost in all the chaos, leading to some unfair deaths. Also, power-ups and bonus tokens that appear when certain enemies are killed can and will just as easily disappear before they can be collected, which is troublesome because you lose weapons powerups when you get hit, and have to re-collect it before it vanishes off the screen edge, often leading to you getting hit again, or colliding with the foreground obstacles, causing you to lose more powerups, making you chase them again...sometimes, it becomes a loop of death that you can't escape from, leading to some cheap deaths at the worst times (like, during boss fights).
I don't mean to be overly negative here, though - whatever the game does wrong, it does a variety of things right, like those graphics - yup, they really are that yummy. The gameplay is satisfying, with even your intital peashooter feeling powerful, some loud and flashy explosions, and secondary weapons that don't just look good, but do lots of that good damage. Plus, slowing down time makes the game look even more beautiful, as enemy bullets fan out in gorgeous danmaku patterns - we ain't talking Touhou standards here, more like Cave, but it's still a sight to behold sometimes.
Yeah, the game is (sometimes unfairly) punishing. Yeah, the loveliness of the graphics sometimes makes the game more difficult. But, when put aside the game's positive qualities - its involved, surprisingly emotional story of ethnic cleansing and revenge, its smoothness and satisfyingly bombastic effects and sounds, its sheer graphical fidelity and stunning set-pieces - these are mere trifles that shouldn't deter you from spending good money on this game and blowing everything away with glee!
Still crazy after all these yearsDashKrimson | Dec. 6, 2013 | Review of Devil May Cry 4
A lot was made over the stylistic changes, PR mistakes and resultant fan backlash over this year's Devil May Cry reboot. As such, I decided to try out the previous iteration of the original series, the then equally reviled Devil May Cry 4. Why? Because once again, the familiar form of debonaire dandy-man demon-hunter Dante was not the main character. No, this time we had to take on the role of a younger white-haired, sword-and-gun-wielding hell-raiser calling himself Nero (obviously referencing antagonist Nelo Angelo from the original DMC, to which extent you'll find out later), who's out to protect his girlfriend Kyrie and the Sparda-worshipping Order Of The Sword from Dante, demon attacks and the Order's own conspiracies. To this end, he is cursed/blessed with a demonically-possessed arm called the Devil Bringer, which can be used to grapple with and stun enemies in concert with his turbo-charged blade and super-charged revolver, all of which gives the Yongster a different, more measured flavour of fighting style to Dante's style-switching craziness.
The game is hardly perfect - although Nero isn't nearly as bad a lead as many said at the time of release, he's still a bit plain and single-minded compared to Dante's almost Vaudevillian showmanship and practiced swagger, qualities which originally endeared him to the fanbase. Also, as mentioned before, Nero fights differently to Dante - a slower, more methodical style, dependent on judicious use of the Devil Bringer for the best results, both damage and grade-wise. Also, he lacks the multiple styles and weapons that Dante brought to the table. In his favour, though, his Devil Bringer does gain new abilities throughout the adventure through shop upgrades, and he does gain the Devil Trigger at a certain point in the game, boosting his DB powers immensely. Even before this awakening to his true power, he is never less than fun to play as, so I would consider him a worthy addition to the DMC roster - had that roster lasted.
Now, this is a review of the PC version, available for direct download on steam for a ridiculously low price, and regarded by most as the very best version of the game, eclipsing the console versions by miles. What sets the PC version apart from the console versions, you ask? Well, how about a rock-solid 60 FPS framerate, even on the most modest of PC setups? Or the Legendary Dark Knight difficulty mode, which throws hundreds of enemies per fight at you in an almost Dynasty Warriors level of excess? What about Turbo Mode, which speeds up gameplay? All these modes and other additions besides serve to make the PC version of DMC4 a cut above the rest, and it looks better to boot! The only caveat to that is that it is designed for use with gamepads only, so all you keyboard warriors out there are out of luck, I'm afraid.
Overall, I'd say that this game is well worth the lunch money it costs to buy, since it will run on any dual-core notebook or school PC, and look and play great in the process. As for whether it's better than the reboot? I haven't played enough of the reboot to judge that fairly, but I'll tell you this - DMC4 certainly looks more appealing!