Reviews by comicnabster

100

Amazing

comicnabster | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of The Walking Dead: Season 2

I loved the first Walking Dead. Telltale gave believable, sympathetic, non-stereotypical characters. All the protagonists were easy to connect with in some manner. The emotional impact was unlike that of any game I've played in the past. We finally have a "zombie game" that manages to feel like it's more than just gore!

I really don't know how to review Season 2 without giving a lot of spoilers about the plot. Suffice to say, my experience has left me waiting in agony for the next episode. Hurry up Telltale! Anyone who likes point-and-click storytelling games will be right at home with this game.

P.S. If you own the first Walking Dead but not 400 Days, buy 400 Days first and finish it, and keep the save file. Like Mass Effect, this game imports the saves from the previous ones and it's really not a complete experience to start anew.

55

Regret preordering

comicnabster | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of Hitman: Absolution - Professional Edition (NA)

It was only $33.74 USD, so I figured, I loved the previous games, why not!

Turned out to be a mistake. It's not a terrible game in its own right, but it feels more like a dumbed down Splinter Cell than a Hitman game. It's as if IO Interactive totally misunderstood what made Blood Money a great game.

There's a genuine effort to preserve the core elements somewhat. You can hide bodies, wear disguises, and trigger "accidents" for your targets. However, the hateful Instinct system and the disappointing level design means that all these parts fail to come together in the way that defined the previous games.

The Instinct system honestly needs to go. I know that disguises should not be foolproof, but the suspicion meters are excessively sensitive, to the point that it tends to be easier to just hide around a corner and KO/kill enemies silently one-by-one. I like doing that in Splinter Cell. Not in Hitman, where silent assassin means hiding in plain sight, harming no one but key targets. It's technically possible to do that in Absolution, but not with the broken disguise system.

The level designer for this game needs to be fired. The sandbox nature that defined Hitman levels is completely gone here. The lack of save-anywhere areas (those "checkpoints" DO NOT COUNT because they DO NOT SAVE THE COMPLETE STATE) discourages experimentation. The limited selection of routes often means the developers make the accident choices way too obvious. Tip for you, IO - go back to Blood Money and play the Curtains Down and Flatline missions. Those missions were highly replayable for two very important reasons.

No Hitman plot has ever been memorable. That's fine - I play the game for the kill, not the story. But in Absolution, the story is given high priority to drive the ways the levels play out, and it starts becoming rather annoying. Simply put, the characters are terrible and so is the dialogue.

If there's one place IO has succeeded with this game, it's with the "PC ness". The game is superbly optimized, as are all recent Square Enix titles. The graphics look great without being particularly demanding. The controls are fluid and tight, much improved over previous games. It's a well made game engine that went to waste on a bad game.

If IO were to remake one of the older games using the Absolution engine, I'd easily pay $30 or more for that. But Absolution itself is hard to recommend for Hitman fans. Fans of Splinter Cell Conviction (my least favourite game in that series) may enjoy it, though!

85

GTA meets Arkham

comicnabster | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of Sleeping Dogs Digital Edition

When the live action trailer starring Brian Ho first aired, I KNEW I had to get this game. I enjoyed the first True Crime Streets of LA on Xbox despite its flaws (I didn't play True Crime NYC because of bad reviews though). I love GTA-style games, but too many of them end up feeling like clones. Sleeping Dogs on the other hand manages to distinguish itself fairly well, a feat only Saints Row has accomplished (in my opinion) before.

From the start, it's clear that unlike GTA or Saints Row, gunplay takes a backseat to Hong Kong martial arts. Guns are only given to you in linear sequences and are immediately lost by the next cutscene. Most combat sequences instead have you facing off triads Arkham-style, but with a few "bonuses" like the ability to snap limbs and use the environment to kill in hilarious ways. Impaling on swordfish? Check. Slamming head with car door? Check. BBQing face in oven? Check. Bashing with a public phone receiver? Check. The list goes on... and I almost forgot to mention the random pick-up weapons, including tire irons, handbags, and umbrellas!

Driving also feels unique, mostly because it's on the wrong side of the road (kidding!). The action hijack maneuver is pure win. I like how the Rico Rodriguez outfit buffs that move - very appropriate. Also, I personally drive on the right every time I play this game, just because I can :P

If I have criticisms, it's with regards to the replay value. While technically open world, Sleeping Dogs feels as linear as Mafia 2 much of the time. There are few random events or side missions. There aren't GTA-style 911/taxi missions to kill boredom for 5 minutes. Once you find all the collectibles to buff your police/martial arts moves, there is little reason to revisit the game.

I thoroughly recommend this game, but with the warning that one shouldn't expect the super-addictive random replayability of GTA.

80

Too much of the same - but only a "first offence"

comicnabster | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of Batman Arkham Origins

As we all know, Call of Duty comes under fire every year for being the same game over and over again.

To be fair, if I like something, I logically want more of the same - but only to a certain extent. Arkham Origins delivers on that. However, it doesn't give me the feeling that I'm getting something super cool and new that the previous game didn't give me. In comparison, Arkham City was giving me the same basic formula but adding on a ton of cool stuff I didn't get in Arkham Asylum.

I was also disappointed that the game had to fall back to using the Joker as the primary villain again. I love the Joker and all, but Batman's rogues gallery is enormous! Yes, Bane, Deathstroke, etc do make appearances but only as supporting villains. I can't say I wasn't hoping to take on Black Mask himself in some epic duel.

Nevertheless, I love the Arkham formula enough that I did have loads of fun playing this game from start to finish. I also appreciated how I got more gadgets from the start than I did in Arkham City. The Batwing was also a welcome addition (and massive time saver).

I would recommend buying this game on a <$10 sale. At full price, you might as well just play Arkham City again (and maybe its DLC). I will give WB Montreal the benefit of the doubt since this is the "first offence". But I will definitely not preorder the next Arkham game, and will wait for reviews.

95

Steampunk meets Deus Ex Human Revolution

comicnabster | Feb. 3, 2014 | Review of Dishonored

I absolutely loved DXHR. I've played it at least 6 times. My biggest complaint is that the game ends.

Dishonored helps to satiate my desire for more DXHR-style gameplay, in fact improving upon the formula in the process. I get an even stronger feeling of multiple-route access than I did in DXHR, thanks to the Blink power (it is kind of OP, more on that later). I'm encouraged to KO guards silently rather than murder them (though it's sometimes fun to kill them by rewiring defenses). I can take out all main targets silently and non-lethally - if I mess up and get noticed, then it becomes a "boss fight". I can use a wide variety of steampunk weapons and gadgets for near-infinite possibilities. I can jump and peek confidently despite the FPS perspective because the controls are so well refined!

I've also sunk 75 hours into the game (including DLCs), because it's that good. I've seen all three endings. I particularly appreciate how chaos level drastically affects how the later levels play out, e.g. Weepers in the sewer on high chaos, Pendleton and Martin duelling, etc.

Any stealth fan would be committing a sin by missing out on this awesome game. Nevertheless, it is not without its flaws. As I mentioned, Blink is way too overpowered, making even the hardest difficulty a cakewalk if you remain stealthy. The Bend Time power is also too OP and too tempting to use. A mode to actively disable or tone down either of those powers would be much appreciated. Oh, add a mode to disable/tone down X-ray vision too - that is even cheaper than Batman's detective mode. Still, I'm having loads of fun, and that's what matters!

75

(SP Only) Fun but makes the typical modern sequel mistake...

comicnabster | Feb. 3, 2014 | Review of Tomb Raider

Before playing this game, I played another SE title, Hitman Absolution. It wasn't a terrible game, but it just didn't feel like the Hitman I knew and loved. I had the same feeling with this new TR game, not as much as with Absolution, but enough.

The shooting mechanics have been massively overhauled, which is a good and a bad thing. On one hand, headshots are possible, aiming feels natural and not cheap (unlike the lock-on in previous games), and upgrading weapons can be fun. On the other hand, it shifts the focus of the game towards shooting more often than I'd like. The shooting sections are entertaining, but aren't Tomb Raider to me.

Tomb Raider is about the platforming, and that's where I was disappointed with this game. Platforming isn't absent, but it's been seriously dumbed down. I still remember having to read GameFAQs at least twice when playing Underworld, and being impressed at how clever some of the puzzles were. In this new game, puzzles are non-existent outside of the side missions, and the platforming is even more linear and obvious than Assassin's Creed. Not good.

Nevertheless, the game has potential. The keyboard/mouse controls are vastly improved over previous games (no more plugging in my 360 pad, yay!) and the technical performance is well optimized - I'm getting all the eye candy minus TressFX at 1080p on max on my GTX560 without a single hiccup. If same the engine can be reused in a future game that actually stays true to the TR formula, I'm definitely buying that.