Reviews by Durandir

100

A true gem

Durandir | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Thief II: The Metal Age

Thief 2: The Metal Age was the game that made me love stealth. For some reason I ended up playing this before the first one, and to this day I view the Thief series as one of the greatest series of games. From the very first level you are presented with a quite large map, with a myriad of rooms, hidden treasures and other secrets to discover. The clever way of making you have to get more loot on the higher difficulties, while not killing or harming more than a set amount of enemies, makes the game highly replayable. You are also very rarely stuck with only one way to do a mission, with a lot of paths to use and items to help you on the way. The rope-arrow especially is always fun to use. While the graphics are obviously dated, the sound design, aesthetics, story and voice work are still top notch. I cannot recommend this enough!

88

Eat their hearts!

Durandir | March 2, 2012 | Review of The Darkness II dns

The Darkness 2 does what it set out to do quite brilliantly I think. Instead of being an "ok" shooter with some decent demonic powers and a great story as the first one was, this is a great shooter with brilliant demonic powers and a great story.

You still play Jackie Estacado, and you still use The Darkness to plot your revenge. This time however you have lot more control over your demonic arms, making the fighting pretty damn awesome. You usually run around with two guns out, and with your demon arms and imp-like Darkling, you can do things like this: You enter a room, see five guys. You headshot one guy with your Desert Eagle, while picking up a pool cue with your demon arm. As you move your aim towards another enemy your Darkling buddy jumps on the head of third one, making him occupied with other stuff than you.

As you fill the second enemy with lead from your Uzi, you send a swarm of Darkness… bugs to distract the two remaining enemies. The one with the Darkling on his head is already distracted, so he is easily dispatched by throwing your pool cue at him, then you quickly snatch the last one with your now free arm and rip him in half. This only took a few seconds, and it is cool as hell when you can pull it off!

The graphics are pretty well done, making everything seem you live in a comic-book world, without being to unreal. The blood and gore helps making you feel like an evil demon badass, which you are in a way. Sometimes I almost felt sorry for the enemy henchmen as my demonic snakes pulled spines out by the bottom end.

The best part of the game however is the story. You seldom see a good story in a shooter like this, but this actually manages to have not only a great story, but also a great love story in it. I can count games on one hand and still have fingers left if I where to mention games with good love stories in them.

All in all, I can heartily recommend this game. It is a bit short, but with a New Game + option it doesn't really need to be longer. You also have a quite interesting Co-op mode, which seems to work in parallel with the main story.

95

"This is going to take a while getting used to"

Durandir | Feb. 9, 2012 | Review of Bastion Cap

I believe that is what would go through your mind if you woke up to what the Kid woke up to. His world destroyed, reduced to floating bits and pieces up in the sky. This initial mystery of what has happened drags you into a colorful, vibrant living world. Your actions are narrated by an ever present soothing voice, a mechanic which you would think would overstay its welcome. But instead of ties the game perfectly together.

Gameplay consists of combat in an isometric perspective. You use two weapons at a time, which get its own button, and you can dodge and block. Combat is fast paced and oddly tactical, and it changes dramatically considering what weapon loadout you use. There are enough weapons in there to really change up the way you play if you so desire.

You also have special moves, which you can use as long as you have enough charges. Some of these are tied to weapons, others are more universal. With the upgrade system on weapons and tonics to equip in order to gain special bonuses, the game gives more than enough customization options making it fun to replay several times.

And that is something you really will want to do, as the story is brilliantly told. Somehow they managed to make a game more engaging, touching and downright masterful than most games I have ever played, using what is essentially the voice acting of the narrator and the limited animations you can put on models that size in that perspective. The music also compliments the goings-on perfectly, and there where moments that more or less brought me to tears. This is art, simply put.

Being an indie game it isn't the longest game ever, but it is longer than some shooters these days. You also get the incentive to replay it at least once, and things the narrator say the second time around is in some cases different. With all the possible weapon combinations, tonics, idols to put on to make it harder etc. this game gives more than enough content for the price they ask for it.

100

You will scream at the screen, yet come back for more!

Durandir | Feb. 8, 2012 | Review of Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy is a strange game. Usually games where you die over and over again ends up on the pile of «games I will never play again» pile. But for some reason SMB just keeps you coming back for more.

The premise is simple. You are Meat Boy, and boy which has been turned inside out it seems. You girlfriend, Bandage Girl, has been kidnapped by the sinister Dr. Fetus. This means you have to traverse 2D platforming levels from Hell. At least you do so in the section of the game called «Hell»...

Controls are very simple. You can run, walljump, holding jump longer gives you higher jumps, and you can sprint. That's it. The thing that makes the controls so genius however is how tight they feel. You instantly feel completely in control of Meat Boy, and as you play more you eventually learn how to dodge things extremely well. Once you have beaten the game you can easily impress people who are new to the game by playing the first parts of the game over again. This is using a gamepad however, and I have not dared to try to play it on a keyboard. This is mostly because I started playing this on the 360, and those are the controls I am familiar with.

Graphically the game is great. Different styles break up what could have been a monotony of levels, excellent and hilarious cutscenes starts and ends each section of the game, and small touches like bloodsplatter on every surface you touch gives the game a great style. The throwback retro levels are especially neat.

When it comes to sounds you have the needed «splat-y» sounds you would expect to hear when a slab of meat hit a wall. Where it truly shines however us the music. Some of the best music made for the past years in games, without question. And I would say it is better than a lot of other music that came out last year as well. They also made sure that songs did not start over every time you die, which really helps.

Because die you will. Some levels you will lose count of how many times you die in the first few seconds of the level. Then you will get past that part, and die on the next. But you have no lives, and you instantly return to the start, making dying less of a hassle.

As hard platformers go, this is one of the best ones out there. It is so good I not only own one copy, but two. One on Xbox and one on PC. PC is the way to go however, since you can make your own levels and play other levels much easier. Just make sure you have an easy, «get aggression out» game on hand, because this will really test your limits on rage quitting.

60

Not quite there.

Durandir | Feb. 8, 2012 | Review of Saints Row The Third - Genkibowl VII

While the base game is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have had in years, this DLC is far from what I would want from DLC. I still had fun with it though.

Genkibowl VII adds four new Activities. Three of which are more like variants of existing Activities, while the last one is all new. The thing here is that some people did not enjoy those Activities that much in the main game, making this DLC add more of what they avoided in the first place, and less what kept people playing.

There is precious little dialog, but what is there is as fun as ever. The hosts of Prof. Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax get more time, and you get a bit more insight into how completely crazy Professor Genki really is.

The few things you unlock playing this also doesn't cut it. A few vehicles, costume pieces and homies to call.

Bottom line is, if you only mildly enjoyed the Genki Activity in the main game, and what you really want is more story-driven DLC, it looks like you should wait for the next packs. If you enjoyed that Activity, and would like some more stuff to do no matter what it is, then this is a fine purchase. And hey, at least it gives you a new reason to get back into Steelport. And you get to run around rooftops wearing a panda costume while killing mascots with a chainsaw. So this DLC is not that good, but also not that bad.

95

"Hey, that panda is on fire!"

Durandir | Feb. 7, 2012 | Review of Saints Row: The Third

Have you ever wanted to drive a pimped-out electric car dressed in nothing but a kitty-cat-backpack? Walk down the street in a steampunk suit, punching everyone that looks at you funny in the crotch? What about jumping off the roof of a building, basejump, throw a fart-in-a-jar at a group of people then do the vogue?

All of those things are more or less normal in Steelport, the city you wreak havoc in during the course of the game. And boy, what a game! And what havoc!

After what happened in Saints Row 2, you (the Boss) now run the Third Street Saints as a business. You and your crew are celebrities, just as likely to be stopped by the cops to be sent to jail as to sign their badges with your autographs. But there is another coalition of gangs that does not like this. The Syndicate, consisting of the Morningstars, Deckers and Luchadores. This leads to you being kidnapped, escaping from a plane (such an explosive way to start a game) ending up in Steelport with no money and no influence. No guns as well, so your first real mission is to raid the armory of the Military base. Where you get Predator Missiles you can steer from the sky to blow up whatever you want.

So you understand right from the start that this is not your usual game. Things you usually get at the end of a game, you get right off the bat. And they still manage to "up" what you get several times over. This style of crazy makes the game really enjoyable to play. You constantly want to push forward to see what other crazy things you can get your hands on.

It doesn't hurt that the dialog and writing is pretty funny. The downright insane Boss you play as, to the oddly intellectual lieutenants in your gang, there is usually something you at least have to smile at when it happens. But I did miss the more down-to-earth , and even sad, moments you had a few of in Saints Row 2.

While not the best graphics around these days, they are more than good enough for this style of game. The character creator is decently powerful, but I feel they could have taken it one step further. Been a while since I played Saints Row 2, but I vaguely recall it having more options. Still, you can make more or less whatever you want, from a normal looking person to some monstrosity never meant for this world. Seeing your character in the cutscenes is half the fun, and since you have seven voices in total you could play through the game seven times and still hear new things. You can also upload and download characters from THQ's website dedicated to the game, so if you don't feel like making your own copy of The Hulk, Buffy or Breaking Bad's Heisenberg, then you can just check that out and probably find what you are looking for. It also helps that you can change everything about your characters looks, voice and personality whenever you want.

Sound and music wise; the developers did a great job. Not only do you have a great and varied selection of tracks for your in-game radio-stations, but the DJ's and radioshow hosts are top notch. You also get a few really well thought out music played during missions, like the now famous "Power" helicopter jump near the start. Such a perfect way to frame a mission. There is also an oddly endearing karaoke section while driving with your buddy to a location near the start. Little touches like that is what makes this game more than just a fun and good game.

This time you also have a way to upgrade your character. With your hard earned cash you can buy upgrades to sprint longer, endure more shots, carry more ammo etc. You can only buy upgrades corresponding to your level though, which is dictated by your respect. You can end up with a character that takes no damage, never need to reload and never runs out of ammo. Somehow the game keeps being fun after that as well, and you really need to work at it to get to that point.

You also have a co-op mode, where you can play through the game with a friend or a random stranger, and a horde mode. Which they have, in true Saints Row fashion, called Wh**ed Mode. Classy. Playing the game co-op with a friend, or in my case a sibling, is really fun. But I would recommend to play through it alone first.

To end this, Saints Row: The Third is some of the most fun I have had with a game in a long time. With more and more games coming out, more and more real life things eating up gaming time, it has become less and less time to play through games as they deserve to be played through. Saints Row: The Third however is something I am still coming back to after finishing every little thing I can do. Yes, I have done every little side-mission and task. And I still enjoy the heck out of it.