Reviews by albeenox
Its not just a game... its an EXPERIENCE.albeenox | May 21, 2012 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (NA)
This is one of those rare games where the journey is quite possibly more fun than the destination. I lost count of the number of times I would get distracted from a quest or task, because I saw something new that looked interesting - begging for exploration. This game has such an amazingly rich world, full of life. It genuinely feels like a real adventure, not just a walk through a cardboard world.
The visuals are magnificent. Sure, it doesn't have the sharpest textures or the highest quality models, but the overall presentation is breathtaking. There's just so much creativity and detail in the game world.
There is also plenty of depth that allows you to play the game YOUR way - building up your character how you want to play it, and the gameplay rewards experimentation, customization and tactics. There is no right/wrong way to play this game, which just makes for an even more enriching and exciting experience.
The writing is also fantastic. The core story is interesting, but what I found to be really amazing, is the amount of thought and creativity that has been put into the world. The world has a consistent background story - everything is connected and feels grounded in a single story world. The richness of the lore is indescribable.
This really is more than just a game... its a full on rich open-world adventure, without boundaries. You could quite easily clock up 90+ hours just traveling and exploring the game world, without even finishing the main story, and STILL not be bored or have run out of things to do!
Wonderful experiencealbeenox | May 21, 2012 | Review of Bastion [Playfire]
This really is a neat little game. The story, as well as your actions, are all narrated dynamically as you play, by one of the most fantastic voices to grace videogaming, making for a really unique gameplay experience. The visuals are charming and colourful and rich with detail, creating a seamless cartoon/art world, that feels almost like a beautiful painting.
The gameplay as fun, challenging and rewarding, especially when using a gamepad.. all in all, its a very charming game that I can heartily recommend.
A game thats ALWAYS worth your time.albeenox | May 19, 2012 | Review of Max Payne II: The Fall of Max Payne DNS
Even another decade from now, this will still be a fantastic game.
Sure, by today's standards, it doesn't match up visually, but this game has HEART... it has SOUL. its an utterly powerful and moving experience, that hits at an emotional level that few books, movies and certainly other games, can connect at.
The characters are brilliantly fleshed out and brought to life by stellar writing and voice acting (especially the bleak, gravelly voice of James McCaffrey as Payne), and the story... especially the presentation (graphic-novel cut-scenes with narration)... wow.. its really something unique, and it needs to be seen... experienced... to be believed. Explanation just doesn't do it justice. Its THAT classy. THAT solid.
It must be said, that Max Payne 2 is a pretty short game - especially if you rush it... but that just makes for an all the more solidly crafted experience. To many games run out of ideas and pad their play length out with "samey" locations and repetitive scenarios, but this is a very tightly guided game - everything it needs is in there, without any fluff... and its a game you'll certainly want to play again after you've finished it.
Sure, combat is a blast, and the level design (and location progression is fantastic), and even the visuals (while dated), still hold up pretty well, but it really is the atmosphere, story and characters that shine brightest... it doesn't matter how old the game is, those things are as important and brilliant back then, as they are now... and come to think of it, they're something that's pretty rare in games these days.
Enjoyable and rich experience... but with one issue...albeenox | May 18, 2012 | Review of L.A. Noire [Playfire]
How could I start a review without mentioning the big "thing" about this game... The facial animation. WOW. Never before have I seen such impressively emotive faces - It really is stunning to watch, and really brings the characters to life, along with the fantastic voice work.
Visually, the game overall is pretty impressive. The game really manages to capture its time period and bring it all to life; and makes it feel so immersive as well. The game as a whole, really makes you FEEL a part of a living breathing world, rich in atmosphere and emotion.
The game was easy to pick up and play, especially if you've ever played a sandbox game before (especially a gta game or similar), with responsive controls that aren't overly complicated.
The story is interesting, but quite long and can get a bit 'samey' in places, but the interesting world and characters, make it easy to keep playing.
The one disappointment (and quite frankly, it was a BIG one for me) that NEEDS pointing out, is that the game is capped at 30fps. Now for some, that will be a non-issue - but for me, it was immediately noticeable and really impacted on my enjoyment for what is otherwise a pretty cool game. Supposedly, Rockstar claim this is to preserve the integrity of the film-like "feel" they were trying to bring to the game, but to me its irrelevant - a 30fps game, is just uncomfortable - especially if you are used to games running much smoother. Games and films aren't interchangeable anyway, so a 30fps running game will never look "film-like", so its most likely a lie because all the animation was done at 30fps for the consoles, and they didn't want to change it for the port.
Like I said... a totally irrelevant gripe for some, but I feel its definately something that people should be aware of. There are ways around the cap, but new problems are introduced with it, as Its not a perfect solution.
Overall, a very ambitious, enjoyable and satisfying game to play - just a pity about that damn 30-FPS cap!! :(
They just dont make FPS games like this anymore...albeenox | May 18, 2012 | Review of BioShock DNS
Well, I mean yeah ok I guess they do... just not ENOUGH of them, and certainly not frequently enough...
This is exactly what a great game should be.
Atmospherically (something I value highly in a game), its pitch-perfect. Its gloomy, its scary, it has a sense of style that defines it and roots it in a consistent and believable "space", and everything is designed wonderfully to create a feast for your senses. This is backed up visually, by an impressive technically powerful side, as well as fantastic artistic design all the way through.
The game also strives to bring a bit more to the FPS genre, but throwing in customisation, and a bit of moral choice, and an intriguing story that fits in brilliantly with the gameplay and level design to create a rich, lived in and "full" world.
This really is the standard of what can be accomplished with a FPS game. Bioshock stands head and shoulders above most games of its type, and its easy to recommend it to anyone that loves games with a bit of depth, and a LOT of creativity.
More of the same...albeenox | May 18, 2012 | Review of Call of Duty: Black Ops
From the score I've given it, it should be pretty clear that I didnt hate it - far from it, It was pretty decent... Its just that its the same old game that keeps getting released every year by Activision (regardless of developer or the games sub-franchise)
I mean this is text-book what you expect (and may want?) from a call of duty game. The gameplay/combat all work just fine, the aiming and movement feel just like they always have (which is to say it all works nicely), but at this point its just getting incredibly samey.
The storyline does get bonus points for being interesting AT TIMES (something it cant keep up the entire time, sadly), and there are some interesting setpieces, but it really does nothing to stand out or go in a new direction.
...actually, if anything, perhaps it even takes a step back in the area of pacing. Its just too frantic, to the point where things become a blur, and you find yourself just mindlessly going from point to point, without even really paying much attention, sadly... which isnt a great thing if you're after a good single player experience.
I also found the visuals to be lacking a bit... they weren't terrible, but nothing really stand-out either.
And the ending. Oh the ending... I know it was, apparently, voted the best video-game ending of all time, but thats just rubbish... it was just silly and pretty embarassingly cheesy and poorly handled.
So to sum up... a typical call of duty game. If you've ever played one before, you'll know what to expect here. It looks ok, and it plays very well, and while its pacing is rubbish, the story has brief moments of creativity that sparks a bit of interest.
Multiplayer was ok as well - I didn't play it much, but it was adequate, if nothing special.
Great mix of strategy and action wrapped up in a classy game.albeenox | May 18, 2012 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II: Retribution THQ
Wow, what an intense game.
First up, this game does require more from the gamer than the average game. At any given time, there can be a lot happening on the screen that you need to keep track of. Having said that, its not OVERLY complex, and any gamer should be able to pick up and play this game pretty comfortably. It has the scope to be a very strategically involving game, without being so overbearing so as to exclude gamers who may not usually be drawn to the strategy genre.
That said, that scale and strategic nature, makes for some incredibly rewarding gameplay. Its just fun and intense as hell to see the battles that take place, and the impressive graphical quality and artistic design, really bring so much life, power and beauty to everything you see.
The story is interesting, and theres an amazing sense of story 'history' behind it all, that really immerses you into the games world.. it really is impressive... and its all presented so wonderfully, both in terms of the story, progression, dialog and overall presentation - its a really high class production.
This is a great game to pick up, its very impressive and satisfying to play - but just be prepared to have to think and co-ordinate a bit, to really get the most out of it.
Very rough around the edges, but give it a chance!albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Alpha Protocol
Poor poor Obsidian. These guys know how to make great games, but they're always so buggy! This game is no different, it really is a great experience, that is so constantly hampered by some frustrating issues. I never found them gamebreaking, but I always found myself wishing that just a little more polish could have elevated this game to the next level.
Therefore, TOLERANCE is the word of the day. You really need to look past the mechanics and control issues in the game, and you'll be rewarded with a very enjoyable gaming experience. There's some great ideas in here, and the characters, story, gameplay and game progression are all quite enjoyable
If you go into it with an open mind, and can look past its flaws AND stick with it, you'll end up with a very memorable and entertaining experience, that you WILL want to come back to and play again. Many games out there are certainly more polished and refined, but few can match the experience and enjoyment to be found in here, if you'll only give it the chance.
Not THAT terrible... but not that great either.albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
I didn't hate this game as much as others seem to. Its just nothing special, just a standard cover-based shooter. I found the combat pretty satisfying, the visuals were adequate but nothing special... I mean really, that's all you can say about it - its just... OK. nothing stands out, really.
The story was pretty pointless - an afterthought, design to get you from point A to B to C etc..., and the characters were pretty irrelevant and unlikeable; lets face it, the only reason to play this game, is if you feel your life is missing another cover-based third person action game.
It'll kill time, and if the price is right, pick it up and give it a try.
Fresh, Fun and Exciting! A great adventure game.albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light
Crystal Dynamics really hit it out of the park with this one. I LOVED IT!
After doing nothing but rehashing old Tomb Raider ideas, they've FINALLY given the franchise something unique and fresh - and its fantastic!
The game looks great, for a start... visuals may be somewhat basic, but theyre full of great artistic design. The game handles great if you play it with a gamepad, and the combat is genuinely fun - it really is! Its some of the most enjoyable combat ive experienced in a game in a long time, it all just flows beautifully - as does the exploration and puzzle solving.
...the story... yeah its nothing much, but what little there is, is delivered with some great cutscenes and voice acting. Theres items and powerups to collect, and unlockable costumes as well.
The game isnt overly long or challenging, so it makes for a really fun little adventure game if you're in the mood for something light, visually pretty, and fun to play - both by yourself OR with a friend. HIGHLY recommended.
Bland, Uninspired.. it just really isn't fun.albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Duke Nukem Forever
There are brief moments in the game, where I can see a glimmer of what I really wanted out of this game... Some of the big boss fights are enjoyable, some of Dukes quips hit the mark, but overall, the levels and the gameplay are just nothing special - and to be honest, I found myself getting bored. BORED! in a DUKE NUKEM GAME!! Something has clearly gone wrong!
Visually, its not a very pretty game - either in design or technical quality. The levels are dull, and the set-pieces are generally forgettable.
Tonally, the game seems to be all over the place as well, going from cheesy (old duke), to serious (cod) to surprisingly dark and mean-spirited at one point in the story. It doesn't make for a consistent or enjoyable gaming experience.
The best I can say about DNF, is that (at least for however long you can stomach playing it), its functional. You point your generic gun, you fire it, and things fall down dead. Rinse and repeat.
This is a game that was too busy trying to capture the heart and soul of other popular games, that it ended up forgetting to develop one of its own.
Surprisingly great!albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Space Marine (THQ)
Initially i expected this game to be nothing but an enemy-spam action game, where you just go from area to area, and just mindlessly kill wave upon wave of enemies. And as it turns out, it is... but damn if it isnt fun! I was expecting to get tired of that type of gameplay very quickly, but its handled in such a fun and entertaining way, I never got bored of it. First of all, its viscerally satisfying like no other. The weapons are massive, and their effect on the hordes you mow down, is just brutally enjoyable. It really is a cathartic game. Visually, its hit and miss. the underlying STYLE of the game, is wonderful, but some of the textures and models are a little low quality, but overall its never a deal-breaking issue. Controls handle well, and are generally responsive... the story... well... its nothing deep, but the sense of underlying lore and atmosphere, is something that i felt was deeply compelling, and definately helped maintain the interest in the game to see it through to the end. Overall, its a satisfying and fun game, with some great gameplay and design behind it.
As charming as it is FRUSTRATING!!albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Super Meat Boy
This game will simultaneously have you tearing your your hair, while eagerly constantly wanting to play 'just one more level...'
This is a very easy to pick up and play game. There are no weapons to shoot, nothing to aim at, or complicated items or equipment to utilise... its just move, run, jump, jump, jump and jump again! Its all about reflexes and accuracy. The controls are responsive (especially with a gamepad), and are simple, but can be oh-so-tricky to master. But that just makes getting through to the end of each level that much more satisfying.
The cartoonish and simplistic visuals are striking and work really well for the quirky light-hearted (yet surreal and a bit creepy!!) atmosphere.
All in all, a highly enjoyable sidescrolling action game, that is as charming as it is challenging.
Big 'ol sandbox of FUN!albeenox | May 16, 2012 | Review of Saints Row: The Third dns
I just loved this game. After so many dull and serious games, its fantastically refreshing to come across one thats all just about zany over the top fun... and Saints Row The Third definately delivers.
All the characters are larger than life, and its a blast to have them along in your crew, or watching and listening to them during cutscenes.
The game is pretty easy, but really... we're just along for the crazy situations - and damn if this game doesnt have those! The visuals are nice, the controls work fantastically well for the most part, and theres a hell of a lot of content in the game to enjoy (kept me entertained for over 60 hours)
If you like your games to be a bit on the crazy side - and arent easily offended... and if you want your games to be about FUN rather than depth and complexity, then I can highly recommend you give the game a try!
Theres some great stuff here.albeenox | May 12, 2012 | Review of Alan Wake: Collector's Upgrade
I wouldn't really say that its worth the 10 bucks UNLESS you really have it to spare (the collectors edition is well worth the extra 5 to get this content included, however), but there is some fantastic stuff here. Anyone who is familiar with Poets of the Fall from the max payne 2 ending credits, will want this for the three songs in the soundtrack; War is a powerful/emotional rock song and (using the old gods of asgard stage name) children of the elder god is a great rock/metal track. The poet and the muse is a sad and haunting track that ties in wonderfully with the games mythology about what happened to Thomas Zane (the diver, who helps Alan). Its quite a sad and emotional track, but wonderful if you enjoy that kind of music.
The Alan Wake files are a great accompaniment that helps deepen the main stories mythology - and if you're like me, you just cant get enough of the rich world and atmosphere that Remedy have crafted, so its well worth a look. Finally, the commentary is fun, just to hear what goes on behind the scenes and in the minds of the developers... something to enjoy in subsequent play-throughs (but NOT for your first one!!)
A diamond in the rough.albeenox | May 12, 2012 | Review of Alan Wake
I had written this game off before I had played it. From it originally being a sprawling open world horror/thriller experience on the pc, the developer updates instead told of a game gradually changing into a linear console-based dumbed down experience. I went into it, expecting to hate it. Long story short, by the end of it, I WANTED MORE! I wanted to return to Alans dark world, I wanted to continue his characters journey.. this game kept me thinking about it for days... weeks.. after I finished it.
One thing that blew me away, was the artistic design. The models are kinda low quality, the mouth-sync on the characters when they spoke was terrible, and the textures were the traditional low resolution you expect on most ports... but wow did the attention to detail and the richness of the design put into the world make up for it! The game is... theres no other way to put it, its BEAUTIFUL. The combat is a bit repetitive and there is a really silly gimmick that the game employs to really ruin the immersion, wherein the game pulls back and slows down showing you where all the enemies are when they show up (im not kidding, it really can be a flow/immersion breaker!), but its a minor issue in what is otherwise a very strong game atmospherically. The story (especially in the first half) is gripping, and Alan is a fantastic character to join along for his journey.
Yes, the game is linear, but thats not necessarily a bad thing here. It definately keeps the pace going, and keeps the tension high; exactly what you want for a game like this... and it delivers. Check it out, especially if you love dark and atmospheric thrillers. This could very well be my game of the year, even with the flaws it has.
Very enjoyable action game, but a bit shallow.albeenox | May 12, 2012 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I really am a sucker for the whole sci-fi future genre, so i found this game to really scratch that itch. The game exudes that dark noire-like sci-fi future wonderfully, and makes for a fantastic world to move through and explore - the vibe it gives off is so evocative. I found the gameworld to feel a little dead and empty for my tastes however (a bit too 'synthetic'). Combat is where the game really shines for me... no matter how you want to play it; rushing in with guns blazing, or playing a more sneaky and stealthy game, you're sure to find the game rewarding. Sadly the boss fights are a bit of a letdown, because the game tends to push you more towards gun combat for those scenarios, which lessens the freedom a bit to play the game entirely how you want... And it must be said, the game really does fall apart right at the ending, but overall its a very worthwhile game to play through, with plenty of great environments and situations to play through. Its visually good looking, and the story/setpieces/locations/scenarios and characters make it hard to put down... just a pity that the experience isn't as deep as it could have been.
A rich treat for gamers.albeenox | May 12, 2012 | Review of Batman: Arkham City
I gave the first game, Arkham Asylum, a 95/100 - and to me, its still the better game - but only by a very slim margin. This game manages in many ways to improve upon the original. The combat has been expanded upon in a magnificent way (without sacrificing the ease in which it can be picked up and utilised), the boss fights are more entertaining and creative, and there really is a wealth of things to do. This time around, the game uses a huge sandbox environment to move through to reach goals and look for trophies and mini-quests (or just look for wondering gangs to beat the heck out of). The sandbox environment is both a curse and a blessing - at first it can be quite overwhelming, but eventually as you get more used to moving through it and get your bearings as to where everything is, it makes for a really enjoyable new addition to the game. The visuals are stunning, voice acting amazing, and it all makes for a very immersive and atmospheric experience.
The only Negative I have, is that in its attempt to be sprawling and grand in its sandbox environment and its villain roster, It loses a bit of the tight focus that made the original connect (at least, with me) on a more emotional and and narrative level.
Still, the overall fantastic quality of the game, makes this an easy game to recommend, and you will definately never regret picking this up. A high quality game, that's incredibly enjoyable from start to finish.
Virtually Flawless. Action gaming DONE RIGHT.albeenox | May 12, 2012 | Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum
For me, this really is a prime example of how to do a game right. I should end the review there - just go buy the thing already!! But fine, I can keep going. For a start, visually its a treat. Not only is it graphically great, but the artistic design just shines beautifully. The game just oozes in dark and surreal visual atmosphere, rich in detail. The gameplay is fantastic - the journey is fulfilling and the combat has never been so easy to pick up and yet so utterly satisfying to pull off; from start to finish, you'll be looking forward to each and every encounter. The voice work is stellar, with fantastic performances (especially from Conroy and Hamil), and the story (both in content and presentation) will keep you hooked til the end. Im actually quite disappointed that you've read this far... You really should have bought it already when I told you to at the start of the review. Go on. This is one purchase you WILL not regret.
flawed port but a solid and entertaining game.albeenox | May 9, 2012 | Review of Binary Domain
An insanely fun and addictive game - the core gameplay mechanic is being able to strategically damage your enemies (robots), and it is a lot of fun to do - especially later in the game. The game is unfortunately a very straight forward and lacklustre port, meaning its very basic and far from perfect, but at least the core game behind it makes it worth sticking to. The story is interesting, but somewhat mismanaged at the end, though the great characters and dialog go a long way to make up for it. Its overall a fun game, with a not-so-great pc port, but still well worth a look.