Reviews by FhexSans

87

An underrated "antiparody" of the modern military shooter

FhexSans | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Spec Ops: The Line

Now, before I start, I must say that Spec Ops' gameplay is really... average. It's not really anything revolutionary in the gameplay department at all. Just shoot, walk to the next area, shoot, so on so forth. The multiplayer, too, isn't really that exciting. In that way it's pretty much like your typical military shooter.

But...

What this game does have is atmosphere. By that I mean... well... let's start with the environment. The game is set in what could be described as post-apocolyptic Dubai where the luxurious decor of old clashes with the sand and debris that brought it to its downfall. Indeed, the setting is just absolutely unique and brings much much draw into the game.

Even stronger than this is the narrative of the story. At the beginning the whole story seems as a very simple rescue mission. Find the soldiers and civilians and get out. But as the game draws on, you find that the story begins to become more and more complex. Simple actions and decisions end up blowing back into your face, you find yourself slowly becoming an antihero from catastrophe after catastrophe. The protagonist and your squad will show this change from their outward appearance and their mannerisms. The characters and their development throughout the story is just impeccable. At the beginning they seem childish and playful, joking around, but near the end... they become hardened. And so do you, in a way. In the end, you'll find yourself wanting to play the game a second time, maybe to understand the story a bit more, maybe because you feel compelled to make it right all over again. I'm not sure if you can do it right...

The game is very heavy about decisions and although they don't really affect the way the game ends in any way, they still feel like they hold a lot of weight, morally. Especially if you're the type that likes to immerse themselves in a game, this is the right game for it. And its that immersion that makes the game not some tacky shooter, but an absolute adventure, and that's what Spec Ops does the best.

In the end, I must explain why this is an "antiparody" of your run of the mill modern military shooter. Your typical modern military shooter is shallow. It tries to act all gritty, and even though it tries to make you do dark things... you don't really "feel" like it matters. It's just what you do. You don't really care all that much about the people you're shooting or why you're doing it, you're just... doing it. Why? Because the game tells you to, of course! Sure, the game might try to be deep, but it's shallower than a kitty pool.

Spec Ops: The Line completely turns that on its head. The game is so deep, gritty, and just absolutely fantastic at giving you that dark feeling in the pit of your stomach, it pretty much mocks other military shooters like it. It doesn't mock it with comedy like a regular parody, it mocks it with tragedy, and that's what Spec Ops really is... a classic tragedy. And that's why it's an "antiparody".

Don't be fooled by its generic sounding name. I was fooled, but... I'm glad that I've played this game. It's an absolute underrated gem and its narrative is probably one of the best seen in a shooter, and I'd definitely recommend it.

86

Weaker atmosphere than the original, but better gameplay

FhexSans | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of BioShock® 2

To start, it should be noted that I was a huge BioShock fan back in the day. I played through the original around 7 or so times and I never got sick of it for one moment. That said, when I saw that there was a BioShock 2 coming out, I already had a feeling it couldn't live up to its predecessor. BioShock's story, although very weak, felt like it tied up everything with a pretty bow and there wasn't much more room for another narrative in Rapture. And to that part I was partially correct. I stress "partially".

The narrative wasn't really as strong as the original, but felt a little bit more straightforward; it felt like a lot of the political and social undertones in the original were put more to the side in BioShock 2 in favor of a story that deals more with the personal aspect of Rapture's demise, which isn't bad but is a marked turn in narrative. The general atmosphere of the game doesn't feel like it changed a lot from the original, but it does not feel as captivating as the original in quite a few aspects, but that might only be because it's not nearly as unfamiliar to veterans of the series as it was when we first stepped out of the bathysphere in the original, so newcomers of the series might disagree with me entirely.

The gameplay has improved quite a bit, though, in contrast to the former game in the series. Plasmids feel more integrated with use with guns this time around for example as you don't need to switch between plasmids and guns; one hand holds a gun while the other is a plasmid. This makes it really easy to do things like the classic "1-2 Punch" from the original BioShock, even in larger groups. The plasmids in general also got quite a bit stronger, so you'll find yourself using them much more often based on their own merits. The guns, although different from the original game's, don't feel much different from their counterparts (e.g. the drill and the wrench, the minigun and the machine gun, etc). Research, too, also feels more integrated. Instead of having to take out your camera to take pictures, one after the other, in hopes you don't die taking them, you now just have to switch to your research camera once, select the target, and let your camera roll, which allows you to combat the enemy and get points based on how "original" the way you dispatch it is to how you did it in the past. This also gives you an incentive to change up the way you play the game quite often, as the more you do "original research" the better bonuses you can receive.

The enemies are mostly the same ones from the original BioShock, but with a few notable inclusions like the explosive-carrying Daddies (whose name escapes me right now, but I think they were called Boomers), the Alpha Daddies, and Brute Splicers. I won't spoil the latter two, but they do make the gameplay even more varied.

On the note of the multiplayer, it felt very unoriginal although there were some good ideas. The loadout customization, the new guns (like the Elephant Gun, for example), the masks, and the visual degradation of your player-character as you rank up (to give you the impression that your character is becoming more spliced up over time) were all incredibly good ideas. Protect the sister, too, felt quite nice for a time. But at the end, it just did not feel like it was enough and, in my own personal opinion, it got stale after a while. I haven't picked up the multiplayer since but I've heard it has all but died on us. It's sad, but not all that unforeseen.

To summarize, the narrative has its good parts, but it didn't feel as strong as the originals. Newer players might find the atmosphere quite refreshing from other games, but veterans of the series will find its the same Rapture as before, not much different. However, I believe the more streamlined gameplay really adds a lot to the BioShock experienced, as well as the new additions to enemies and so forth, but the multiplayer really leaves something to be desired.

89

A great game, but has its drawbacks

FhexSans | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto IV

I like Grand Theft Auto IV quite a bit, but it always felt like something was missing. Sure, I loved the newer shiner graphics, the radio stations were fairly good too, the gunplay felt vastly improved from the other GTAs by far, the vehicles handled much better than the games that came before it, and so forth.

But it felt like there was a lot missing, especially after San Andreas which absolutely knocked out socks off in terms of content. Indeed, that's what felt was lacking. Car customization was nixed, as well as RPG elements, the vehicle roster was scaled back a bit in terms of variety, the map was much smaller (but I understand why, still seems sad), and a lot of the whackier things that GTA is known for got scaled back too quite a bit in exchange for a more serious atmosphere. Not that I mind it too much, I actually like the change of pace, but I just felt like there could be more.

That said, Rockstar really did hit the nail on the head on the rest of the content they made GTA IV to be (except friends and activities, man those are dull). I wish there was more, but I can be happy with what they gave us. In addition, there is a modding community around this game so there's always new content to explore as well. In the end, I played it and enjoyed it (although the campaign does tend to draw out for a while), why haven't you!

89

A wonderful and memorable experience, but not for gameplay

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of BioShock (NA)

BioShock has to be one of my top favorite games that I have ever played. The reason for this isn't necessarily the gamplay. The gunplay is a bit clunky, but passable; the AI is a bit dull at times; Big Daddies can be incredibly easy to dispatch if you know how to deal with them; the graphics can be quite dated at time especially when it comes to some of the models; and the ending was really much to be desired.

However, regardless of all those, I still found myself replaying it... 7 times to be exact. The question is why? The atmosphere is just perfect, for starters! The main story is a bit simplistic, but the backstory to Rapture and to many of the events surrounding it... I just loved it! The city of Rapture itself was beautifully designed as well, and I must applaud them for that. Not to mention, it can be quite fun to replay the game with different strategies, like only using the original wrench for the rest of the game or using Security Beacon or Enrage for the whole game... it can make it quite fun!

I'd love to give it a perfect score just because of the love I have for this game, but I can't in good faith give it that due to some of its numerous flaws. Still, I have to recommend this highly!

83

Not very scary, but a good game

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of F.E.A.R

FEAR is a classic, yet somehow the game has aged so well for being out almost 8 years. It shows its age graphically at some points, like the level geometry and the models, but yet somehow the gunfights are just absolutely mindblowing for such an old game. And I'm not just talking graphically! The AI in the game is actually quite good, you'll find them talking to each other and acting like a team; it feels almost lifelike sometimes. Not to mention gunfights actually feel like gunfights, it's kind of difficult to explain but the guns feel like they have weight and the sparks from the impact of the bullets on surfaces and stuff... it just feels awesome!

However, personally I could not find FEAR scary at all. It's atmospheric and I really did like all the alma moments and so forth, but they never felt really scary. They did catch me off guard quite a bit and make me fire wildly at the hallucinations, but usually I just shrugged it off. Maybe it's just me. Also, the game didn't really feel incredibly difficult even on the highest difficulty. Usually when I died it's because I didn't bother to use my health kits because I'm ultra conservative with them.

All in all though, this is a game you should definitely consider picking up, especially if you're into shooters.

94

Wonderful, complex, and it aged well over the years

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (NA)

SimCity 4 is quite possibly the best city simulator game you can get. It's complex and in-depth, so the learning curve is quite high. It's easy to start though if you take it slow and don't try to develop your city too fast. Once you get how the game works, though, it's quite easy to develop a fairly large metropolis although you'll always find room for improvement. City planning in this game is no laughing matter! All the decisions you'll make will either make or break your city; sometimes something as small as a road loaded with traffic can have awful consequences. At the end of the day, you'll always feel accomplished when your city comes together!

What can make the game even better is the fact that there is still a pretty active modding community that surrounds the game with new buildings, new roads, and new lots of things. It's definitely worth checking out! And if that's not enough, even though the game is single player, you can jury rig it to act like a multiplayer game using Dropbox or another similar program if you know how, allowing you to play with your friends real time on the same region! It really can get quite fun, but sometimes you might need to troubleshoot issues as they come up since it's not designed to work as a multiplayer game.

Sadly, the graphics are a quite a bit dated, but they still hold up fairly well. U-Drive-It missions are a bit bland, but they can offer easy ways to get reward buildings without filling in the normal requirements, and the My Sims tab is a bit gimmicky and superficial and you'll likely use it a few times and forget about it.

However, even with its bad points, the game still holds up after over a decade, even dwarfing modern games like City XL and even the new SimCity in a lot of ways. For anyone looking for a good challenge or a fun time or really anything, SimCity 4 is a sure choice!

89

Simple, fun, and funny!

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Tropico 4

Tropico 4 is a game I thought I'd end up picking up and not finding very spectacular, but for some reason something about this game has been drawn in like a fish. One of the strangest appeals of the game is its lovable cast of characters and its story, two things you wouldn't really think a city simulator would be very good at. But yet, your advisors and the other characters in the game somehow find their way to be actually quite enjoyable to have as opposed to games like SimCity 4 and Civilization V where your advisors aren't much more than pictures. The story, too, somehow resonates quite well with the game, with its comical takes on the Cold War, politics, bureaucracy, and the like. It makes the story actually quite enjoyable to go through.

The gameplay is a bit simple and easy to pick up, although some of its finer points are a bit difficult to pick up on. That said, it's not very challenging, but there's always room for improvement no matter how long you've been playing. The music fits with the world, but it does get tiring listening to the same song over and over again with no way to add custom tracks to the playlist. It's not the best graphically in the market, but it's still pretty to look at.

That said, there's some things that kind of get on my nerves about the game. For one, it seems like the game does become a bit too easy after a while once you have a lot of imports or decent tourism and sometimes you'll find yourself not even knowing what to spend all your money on because you have so much of it. Disasters become a bit tiresome, especially tsunamis after the tenth millionth time, and later in the game they do very little to hurt your island. Indeed, in the late game, there's really not much challenge. Also, even though you're supposed to be the dictator and you have a lot of very fun options like executing people in the streets and forcing conscription on your denizens, you don't really have much of a use for them much of the time simply because your citizens rarely ever become that unhappy to the point where you need to use them. I only found use in using them when I purposely try to keep down my citizens for the fun of it or during the storyline when I needed to.

Otherwise, I absolutely loved this game and I would wholeheartedly recommend this game to pretty much anyone.

85

Simply put, one of the best games of the franchise!

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

(Then again they're all absolutely fantastic but...)

I could go on and on about Vice City, but to summarize it: the atmosphere is phenomenal, the story is great, and the soundtrack is just absolutely amazing if you like music from the 80s. Additionally, the character progression is quite spectacular as you start as a foot soldier and end up controlling your own criminal empire! The characters, too, are memorable and lovable (well, if druglord psychopaths, porn directors, and henchmen with abandonment issues are what you'd consider lovable) The gameplay shows its obvious age, but it still hasn't aged so much that it is overly cumbersome. All in all, just a great open world game and a purchase you'd likely not regret, especially if you're a fan of GTA.

72

Good, but hasn't aged well

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto III was a really fun game. I got it on the PS2 way back in the day, and it was just absolutely spectacular for a young me. In fact, it was the first sandbox game I ever played as a child, and it was absolutely revolutionary for the time. For the modern gamer, however, it's kind of difficult to recommend GTA III today, only because it really hasn't aged well especially when compared to slightly more modern additions to the GTA series like Vice City. The aiming is a bit coarse, the radio stations aren't as good as the rest of the games in my opinion, the map is a bit smaller than the next step up in the series, the story is fairly good but in my opinion not as good as the later games in the series, and it's not much to look at graphically. Still, the game still plays fairly well and for any long time fan of the series, I'd recommend it if you haven't played it. For newcomers, you might want to consider getting Vice City or San Andreas instead, but if you're feeling adventurous go ahead and grab this game!

95

A great part of the series for newcomers and older fans alike!

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Fallout: New Vegas DNS

Fallout New Vegas is simply a great combination of an RPG and a shooter. The story is pretty fantastic, but has its holes, but fans of the original isometric games will be pleased to know its a direct continuation of that storyline and not, as like Fallout 3, a completely new story. The game itself plays a lot like Fallout 3 but a lot more refined, with better gunplay and better RPG elements. Traits are back from the original games as well. In fact, many of the locations are very unique and memorable, the quests very enjoyable, music very fun to listen to, and so forth.

Most of the game's problems stem from technical issues, like the engine's dated graphics and its tendency to glitch and crash a lot, plus the game's many bugs. At the core, it is a very good game though.

However, what makes the game shine even more is the absolute plethora of mods that you can get for it. There's basically anything and everything you may want! And if there isn't, modding the game itself is fairly simplistic and straightforward compared to many other games, making it easy to help create more content even for your own personal needs!

All in all, it's a great game at its core, but it's kinda rocked by its technical problems. Nevertheless, the modding community makes this game so much better. You won't regret getting it.

87

Pure fun, but it could be better

FhexSans | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Just Cause 2

Like a lot of the other reviewers, I just found the game plain and pure fun. The game revolves around taking down a dictator that doesn't "want to play ball" with the United States, so naturally you're tasked with destabilizing the government and overthrowing the current president. I would like to summarize the gameplay as being a mix between Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and a Spiderman game (this will become very, very clear if you decide to play the game).

The story is short, simple, and not very incredible, but it works. The gameplay is solid and fun, but it does become slightly tiresome after a while if you try to go for 100% completion, but there's always ways you can shake up gameplay. Completing bases and settlements can be done by destroying key structures and/or collecting crates scattered around, but I usually felt like the crate collection really screwed with the pacing of gameplay. For example, I would almost complete a base (which would cause enemies to stop spawning), but I would always miss one crate which would cause me to have to roam around the base several times until I finally found it, which I just disliked a lot.

There are some very cool, unique locations scattered around Panau (the country you're tasked to overthrow), but most of the locations are a bit dull and unremarkable, but considering the scale of Just Cause 2's map, it does make a lot of sense that not every town is going to be memorable. Cars handle a bit meh and it's easy to spin out sometimes, but other than that vehicles are quite fun to drive and pilot about.

What really makes this game shine is a mod that is set to come out called Just Cause 2 Multiplayer, which basically just adds multiplayer to Just Cause 2. It has public betas with thousands of people on at any one time, and it makes Just Cause 2 that much better. There are other mods you can use for this game as well, too, so that is also a huge boon.

I would definitely recommend this game.