Reviews by Shrykeabyss

90

An Action-Stealth Game Without Compromise

Shrykeabyss | Dec. 25, 2012 | Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year -

Arkham Asylum does what very few games have done before. It manages to merge great stealth sections with an innovative brawling system without making either one feel forced.

The most enjoyable sections in Arkham Asylum were, I found, the times where you are swinging around a room with half a dozen of the Jokers armed henchmen looking for you, and getting more and more nervous as you take down their allies one by one. The combat is also incredibly enjoyable, where you chain together combos and counter attacks to most effectively take down your opponents.

The amazing thing is that these two opposing styles work so well together, where getting detected during a stealth section never results in an immediate game over, always giving you a chance to retreat to the shadows after knocking some sense into your pursuer, while not making you feel like you've done something wrong.

Of course, the game does have a serious downside, which is the absolutely atrocious boss fights. The game tries to find ways to raise the stakes above fighting regular henchmen, but ultimately fails. The best, if still quite bad boss fights, just involve beating up legions of goons until Batman defeats the main enemy in a cutscene, while the worst ones usually introduce a mechanic solely for that one fight, and then never using it again. The worst offender has to be Killer Croc, where you beat him by walking around very slowly. I feel the boss fights would have been much better off if they had attempted to focus them around the initial mechanics for combat and stealth.

But none of that is enough to stop me from recommending Arkham Asylum, with it's great cast of villains led by an excellent Mark Hamill as the Joker, to anyone, even if you've never been interested in the Batman franchise before.

80

Best Of Times, Worst Of Times

Shrykeabyss | Dec. 24, 2012 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution Augmented Edition

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was responsible for some of my favorite gaming moments in 2011. Unfortunately, it was also responsible for some of the worst. Beneath it all, however, is an enjoyably Action-RPG that is definitely worth your time.

The high point of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was, for me, the incredibly well implemented conversation mechanic, where you attempt to gain information from your adversaries by choosing one of three responses to continue the conversation. This may not sound revolutionary, but it's the way the game makes you feel like you have an actual influence on the outcome, and not based on any arbitrary number of conversation points you may have, such as in Mass Effect. Of course, there are augmentations that help you in conversation, but they generally help you pick from the existing list of options, rather than adding new ones, which just adds to the sense of pleasure you get when you finally manage to draw out that crucial piece of information.

Another noteworthy point is the games distinctive black & gold aesthetic, which does a very good job of highlighting collectibles as well as interesting locations, while still maintaining the worlds clean and futuristic feel.

However, all of this is offset by my two biggest gripes. The leveling system, and the boss fights, both of which do their best to ruin the thing that made Deus Ex so highly rated in the first place - choice.

In a game that supposedly promotes players finding their own solution to problems, the boss fights turn this idea completely on it's head. You can't sneak around to silently take out your enemy, you can't hack a turret system and turn it against them, the only thing you can do is hide behind cover and fire a conveniently placed rocket launcher at them while they are reloading. And if you're playing a stealth focused character then you'll be quick-saving quite a bit because, unless you've invested in the armor augmentations, you'll find yourself dying whenever you pop your head out of cover.

Not that it matters that much because the augmentation system more or less removes player choice by around half way through the game. There are simply too many upgrade kits available for the number of augmentations you have to choose from, so you'll quickly activate the ones unnecessary to your chosen style, and be left upgrading augmentations you otherwise wouldn't use. This creates the scenario where you end up mastering just about every ability, turning the game into going one route through an encounter, then going back through all the other paths to pick up any loot you may have missed.

Overall though, Deus Ex: Human Revolution does most things right, and I would recommend the game to anyone who likes the original game, and action games in general.

70

A Soulless Journey Through A Vibrant City

Shrykeabyss | Dec. 23, 2012 | Review of Dishonored Nexway

Upon finishing Dishonored, I felt nothing. Not happy. Not Sad. Nothing. Despite the excellent (if not very challenging) stealth, the sheer number of creative kills, or the painstakingly created city itself, Dishonored utterly failed to draw me in.

The reason behind this is, I feel, a complete lack of personality in any of the main Protagonists or Antagonists. They only seem to exist to give details on the next assassination target, while never showing any hint of a personal motive. This lead to me feeling completely un-invested in the story, and consequentially, the potentially great world which contains it.

It's a shame, really, because Dishonored had the potential to be a great game. The sub-narrative about how people act when within reach of power has the potential to be very interesting, but falls flat due to the characters lack of personality. As it stands, the game is merely good. It's well worth a look if you find the creative stealth aspects appealing, just don't expect a memorable experience.