Reviews by jojot
Buy it, right now!jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of VVVVVV
there are very few games that I would recommend to anyone. This is one of those games. It has a good aesthetic, excellent music, simple gameplay yet it's difficult to master and above all, it's just plain fun.
The game revolves around one simple mechanic, the ability to invert gravity. The trick is that you can only do this while you are on ground/ceiling. There is no jumping or any other trickery, just moving left and right and flipping gravity. This seems very simple at first, but when the game frequently puts you under pressure to navigate through complex environments with lots of pointy death spikes it can be quite challenging. The hardest challenge, the one the game is named after (Veni, Vidi, Vici) involves flipping gravity and then navigating through 4 screens of complex maze while "falling" and having nowhere to land and take a breather until you get to the end. What happens when you get to the end? You land on a platform that collapses in less than a second, forcing you to reverse gravity again and go all the way back down again with no break in between, navigating the same path but in reverse and landing back where you started, but a few feet tot he right. Why would you go through such torture you ask? Why, to get over that knee high wall and collect the entirely optional shiny trinket on the other side of course!
The music in this game is also phenomenal. Even though the thing is entirely chiptunes stuff, with all that extra fidelity Techno/Electronica has still doesn't help it come close to being this awesome. It's one of the only games where I would actually put the soundtrack in my normal music playlist and listen to it (metro 2033 being another one). The soundtrack also fits very well with the retro inspired graphics of the game, which is largely limited in it's color pallet and distinctly lacking in detail. This in no way detracts from the experience though.
What can I say.jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition DNS
Deus Ex (as in day-oos, not duce) is one of, if not the greatest game ever made. At a time when shooters were all action and no substance (with the rare exception like the comparatively shallow Half Life and the excellent System Shock 2) this game decided to completely break the mold. Even today few games have the incredible depth, dialog and openness that made this game so excellent.
The game is set in the semi-near future around 2050. China is a dominant superpower in the world, a virulent plague known as the gray death is weeping the globe, with only the rich and elite getting access to the limited supplies of vaccine, terrorists have blown up the statue of liberty and the United States are no longer so united. You play as JC Denton, a nano-augmented super soldier in the employ of UNATCO, the United nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition. The game is awash with conspiracy and philosophy that almost scarily parallels the real world at times, from the corporate corruption influencing governments to secret societies controlling the destiny of mankind, the game is like a conspiracy theorists wet dream.
In terms of gameplay you have wide open level design with multiple paths to objectives, every building has a dozen entry points that require different skills to access. Keys can be found in lockers or draws, pin numbers on data pads, information can come from overhearing conversations or hacking into peoples computers and reading their emails, door locks can be picked, electronic locks can be decrypted using multi tools, air vents can be crawled through, guards can be stunned or tranquilized or shot with silenced weapons and their bodies hidden. You can stalk in the shadows or on roofs out of sight, you can go in guns blazing, you can turn invisible, you can stand around and discuss philosophy, you can pretty much do anything in this game. Another feature is that it uses a skill system to oversee how well you can do at various tasks. Skills with different weapon classes control how well you can manage the respective weapons recoil and aim effectively, skill with electronics and locks control how well you can decrypt or pick locks and how many picks/tools it will use, computer skills make you better at hacking, you get the idea. On top of that you have various Augmentations that pretty much give you super powers, strength, durability, speed, jumping height, invisability, the list goes on. The tricky part is that you only have so many augs, and many will conflict with their placement. Finding an aug for say, your torso slot, means you have to decide if you really want it or if you want to leave that slot open for a potentially better aug. Aug selection is best reserved for the kind of game you want to play. If you like to go in guns blazing then dermal armour and strength might suit you better, if you like stealth then inviability and silent movement might be more suited. The game is all about choice, so you have to make your choices wisely.
Even at launch the graphics were a bit lack luster, and the certainly aren't great by todays standards. There are various mods to make it look better these days, but to be honest it doesn't improve much. Graphics should be no deterrence to playing this game though, they may be lo-fi, but you can just use your imagination to get the fidelity you crave. There is a meme that every time you mention Deus Ex, someone, somewhere re-installs it and starts playing it again. There is a reason for that.
Balconies, the silent killerjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money [Playfire]
Blood money is by far the best game in the series to date. Everything that could be improved upon was. It is not possible to have pretty much every target die from an "accident", the most entertaining of these is to simply push them off a balcony. There is also a part where you get to knock out one of those annoying yippy toy dogs by feeding it a hot dog laced with sedatives. Another stand out was replacing a fake gun for a stage production with a real gun and having one of the actors shoot the target for real on stage. This game is by far the most free roam of all the series so far and it greatly increases the entertainment factor, creative assassinations are bar far more rewarding.
I highly recommend this entry in the series to any fans who have yet to pick it up, or as an entry point to new fans if they are unsure about investing in the early entries.
No rest for the wickedjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin [Playfire]
After retiring at the end of the first game, 47 moved to Sicily and took up being a gardener for the local Church in an attempt to atone for all the murdering he had done. He was happy growing tomatoes etc. but then some mean men had to come and ruin his fun by kidnapping his priest. So as any self respecting man with his newfound religion would do, he pulls out all his old gear, gets in contact with agency and asks them to help track down his priest so he can murder the people that kidnapped them. The whole thing turns out to have been an elaborate ploy to manipulate 47 and get him out of retirement. After all is said and done 47 decides to leave being the church in Sicily and go back to murderin folks cause there ain't no rest for people like him.
The second game in the series, it improves on the first quite a bit by adding extra stat tracking so you get a very detailed breakdown of how well you did, as well as giving different ranks ranging from "psychopath" for killing everything in sight to "Silent Assassin" for not alerting a single person. The level design is also much improved. In the first game you could get by sneaking pretty much everywhere, but the new game forces you to be more creative and take alternative paths often. It also introduced alternative assassination methods to a bullet to the head. You can do do sneaky stuff like poison drinks to get targets indirectly.
An excellent improvement on an already great game and worthy of the hitman name.
A classic that should not be forgottenjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Codename 47 [Playfire]
The Hitman series is one of few games of it's type out there. In Hitman you need to think. Running and gunning will just get you killed. You need to carefully plan out your operations, avoid detection and get your target without anyone knowing. It might seem tedious and overly hard to start with but perseverance and careful observation can get you a long way in this game.
The gameplay of Codename 47 involves many aspects. You can sneak around to avoid detection, you can knock out NPCs and steal their clothes to avoid notice or even better, get you access to areas that might be restricted. You can snipe enemies from afar with the iconic Walther WA2000, blast them away with shotguns/smg's, pop them from behind with a silenced custom Hardballer belonging to 47 or even garotte(the good old piano wire round the neck) them up close. How you take out your target is up to you, as long as you fulfill the contract and every level is desinged with multiple ways into buildings and paths to take to assassinate your target. It's non-linear level design at it's finest.
The games story revolves around 47 working as a contract killer of the highest caliber for a group known as the Agency taking out contracts. After a few of these some connections are noticed and it turns out all the contracts were from a single man, and that he and all 47s targets were related to 47s past in some way.
While the game is pretty old by todays standards it is still a great game and highly recommended to anyone who wants to try a thinking mans shooter.
A strong followup to Legendjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Tomb Raider: Underworld DNS
Following on from Legend, Underworld follows Lara as she continues searching for her mother and a way to save her. This time it moves into the rehlm of Norse Mythology and follows the idea of the Norse Underworld, Thor and his hammer, and the mythical serpent Jormungandr. While the game initially portrays it's self as being darker and grittier than previous games, it doesn't really turn out to be any darker. It still has a lot of the cheesy jokes and over the top action the previous games had apart from one or two more serious points in the game.
Some familiar faces are back, Amanda from Legend and Natla from Anniversary are again acting as the chief antagonists, although Amanda is a bit friendlier and more of a rival this time than an enemy. The same acrobatics, athletics and shooting are all still there, although you spend more time doing all of that at once now. The game has built excellently upon the framework Crystal Dynamics made in the other two games and is their best entry in the series to date. Now hopefully they can put the same love and care into bringing back the Soul Reaver/Legacy of Kain series from the dead.
3rd in the series that pretty much defined stealth action gamesjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Thief: Deadly Shadows [Playfire]
The thief games are one of the older series out there and a genre defining one, and this is the most recent entry in the series.
In the game you play Garret, a professional thief and former member of the keepers, a secretive organization of historical observers and recorders. Following the layout of the first two games, you start off just sneaking into places and stealing stuff to make an 'Honest" living, but soon you end up getting dragged into some conspiracies stuff and the keepers start claiming more stuff about prophecies that you have to fullfill etc. It starts small and ends quite epically.
The environments are nice and varied, if a little small and claustrophobic, the sound design is great and the gameplay is the same excellent sneaking and stealing you would expect from the thief series. It has the same array of interesting weapons like the moss arrow which makes patches of moss appear where it strikes so you can move quietly across paved surfaces, theres a water arrow that lets you put out torches from afar to create darkness and the good old blackjack with which you can knock out unsuspecting guards. Other arrows like the rope arrow and the noisemaker arrow also help spice up the gameplay a bit.
My only real complaint was that it came from that awkward phase where the original Xbox was suddenly all the rage, and has that horrible overdone bloom that was systemic in that time period for no obvious reason. (Invisible War was another culprit). The game was otherwise great, the Shalebridge Cradle level especially was particularly memorable (you'll know why when you get there).
If there was no bioshock...jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of BioShock® 2 DNS
This is a game that suffered somewhat for being second in line to the first game. The first game was fully self contained and had no need of a sequel at all. This game isn't even so much of a sequel as it is an entirely new game set in the same universe (albeit chronologically after the first game).
In the sequel that nobody ever asked for you play as a prototype big daddy, making you smaller, weaker and a bit more agile that the ones you see around. You also have the benefit of being able to use plasmids which makes life a bit more interesting. For the most part everything is as you remember it, but the situation in Rapture has changed a bit since Fontaine and Ryan bit the dust. Being a big daddy you are trying to find your little sister (although that doesn't stop you killing other big daddies and taking there little sisters too) but the new power in rapture is trying to stop you. On top of that Tenenbaum from the first game has you rescuing the other little sisters (or you can harvest them if you want to). Theres also a new big baddie, the Big Sister, who is quite powerful and very agile and frequently shows up when you don't want her to.
All in all the game is easily as good as the first Bioshock, but doesn't add an awful lot on top, so unless you were a fan then just playing the first game will be good enough probably. If you loved the first game and want more of rapture however, this game is definitely worth getting.
It's not system shock, but it'll dojojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of BioShock DNS
The original System Shock, and even more so it's sequel were true masterpieces that merged RPG's and FPS's together, not to mention having all the atmosphere of a good survival horror game. You can't blame 2K for wanting to cash in on that legacy.
Bioshock is a spiritual successor to System Shock in that it is basically trying to be the same game, but with biological modification instead of technological augmentation. They also replaced the Insane AI Shodan with the big players in Rapture, Atlus and Andrew Ryan.
To start with the good, Bioshock has excellent atmosphere and design in pretty much all areas. The setting of Rapture, the wannabe utopia under the sea was expertly realized in every way and is rich with good design and back story. The Big Daddies were also an excellent addition to the game, and added a little extra on top of the excellent setting.
The down side to this new game was that it disregarded one of the most important part to atmosphere building in System Shock, the screaming Psychic Monkeys. Also there was the extreme feeling of isolation you had in System Shock. You truly felt like the only person left alive on the ship and that there was nobody else there except for the odd monster. Bioshock chose to ignore this design by filling Rapture to the brim with splicers. Splicers were everywhere and as a result they were expected to be around the next corner, so it was never a surprise when there were and it wasn't very foreboding. Even worse was that it would spawn them behind you, even if you were in a room with only one way in and you were facing it.
Another problem it had was it's "moral choice" idea it had with the little sisters. It basically came down to are you a goody two-shoes save all the things guy or are you a horrible baby eating monster with no soul. There was no in between ground.
With all the deep philosophical discussion that goes on through out the game and the generally excellent atmosphere these problems can easily be overlooked, and an excellent game can be found and enjoyed.
Wizards in the Veitnam war, makes sense...jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Magicka: Vietnam DLC
Anyone who played Vanilla Magicka will be familiar with that moment where they first found the M60 and though, "It looks so wrong, but it feels so right" while mowing down packs of goblins. This DLC pack for Magicka looks to capitalize on that feeling by making a whole campaign out of it. It's much shorter than the proper campaign, but it so hilariously incongruous that length is hardly an issue. Put on your wizard robes and hat and cast that napalm strike today!
Every now and then a game comes along out of nowherejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Magicka
Magicka is one of those games. This is sillyness and mayhem of the highest degree, nicely presented as an isometric adventure game that doesn't even come close to ever taking it's self seriously. One warning is that the game is designed to be played with friends, and without them is actually quite challenging as you frequently get knocked of ledges or one hit KO'd in the game, and obviously if you are solo theres no one to resurrect you.
The central mechanic of the game revolves around being a wizard, taking orders from Vlad, who totally isn't a vampire, and combining the various magical elements in the hopes you will create a spell of epic proportions with which to crush your enemies, and not simply explode and kill yourself. There are some spells which are obviously overpowered and you will likely fall back on frequently, but over all the mechanic works great and creates for some hilarious moments when you or friends accidentally press the wrong combination and end up healing your enemies or exploding your allies etc. The game also contains a lot of pop-culture and gaming references and even goes as far as to actively promote trolling your co-op partners.
This game is a blast with friends and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants som good dumb social fun.
Guess they didn't get the hint the first time.jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
When IO interactive brought out the first Kayne and Lynch it was derided as one of the worst games ever made. Personally I think this was somewhat overblown, it was decent enough B-Movie action material mixed with average cover based shooting gameplay, nothing too horrible (but then again, they should have been working on the new Hitman game which people actually wanted).
While not many people would admit to having bought the first game (let along the second), I think that again, the problems with the game are overplayed. The main issue here is that the story is pointless, there isn't really any character development and nothing really gets sorted by the end of it, that and it's about 3 hours long (seriously, I woke up early because of daylight savings once so I decided to try it, finished it and was having breakfast on time that day). A lot of people gave the 'shaky cam' a poor review, but to be honest I think it actually added some decent atmosphere to the game, even if it did make life hard at times.
The ideas for the multiplayer also sounded like they weren't half bad, but as with most unpopular games, you will be hard pressed to find people to play with online. Could be good to buy cheap and play with a friend, but otherwise this one is entirely missable.
Epilepsy, the gamejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Beat Hazard
Beat Hazard is probably my favorite music game out there. At it's heart it's the Basic Asteroids like SHMUP where you fly around the space given to you and shoot everything that isn't you or a power up. The twist is the level is generated based on the musical track you play (you can even use your own mp3's) and so is the power of your weapon. The other twist is that your weapon and everything that explodes on screen is made up of bright flashing particles that change color and brightness in time with the music. This creates an unprecedented amount of visual noise and makes it almost impossible to see what is going on, not to mention giving you photosensitive seizures if you aren't careful. The game is still a tonne of fun to play (as long as you aren't epileptic) and works especially well with dance/techno music and fast metal I have found.
Oh how far the mighy have fallenjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Aliens vs Predator Pre
AVP, the reboot of the excellent game series that was based off a comic series that also spawned a movie series. Take the most badass hunters in the galaxy, mix that with the most badass monsters in the galaxy, mix in some scared little humans as fodder and how can you go wrong? Anyone that watched the movies could tell you exactly how, as can anyone that played the game.
By far the most compelling aspect of the game is playing as the marines, the predators are just icing on the cake, but really it's just about a bunch of silly humans getting in way over their heads and runny scared from monsters in the dark with only a machine that goes bleep, bleep, bleep to tell them that they are about to die. They did an alright job of capturing this feeling during the human campaign in this game, but it was far too short and the other two campaigns failed to live up to their potential. Playing as a xenomorph was fun, if a little hard to master due to the ability to crawl on pretty much every surface including the roof, but it failed to give you that feeling of power that accompanies hunting down pitiful little fleshy pink things. You never quite attain the feeling you are a natural killing machine hunting down prey like you should. The predator campaign had a similar problem, you are supposed to be hunting down one of the most feared creatures in the galaxy, but then it trows tonnes of them at you and you feel way too powerful. Killing one of those things is supposed to be an achievement, I didn't bother counting how many you killed as a predator.
The multiplayer holds more promise, with gameplay being pretty much the same as previous entries in the series but with much improved graphics. The lighting in particular should make hiding in shadows as an alien MUCH more effective. From what I understand however, MP is pretty much dead, so good luck finding a game.
The game is some dumb fun and not awful, but it certainly missused the potential of the IP seriously and was vastly inferior to what it should have been.
Yay shooting stuff! Also loot.jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Borderlands
Borderlands is like Diablo, but an FPS instead of a hack n' slash adventure. Just like Diablo, there is some story and stuff happens to some characters, but none of thats important. What is important is the randomly generated loot. Borderlands has a lot of said loot nd it's all about collecting said loot and comparing the stats to see if it's worth keeping or selling. Theres a lot of variety in the loot, theres all sorts of different weapon classes, Assault Rifles, SMG's, Pistols, Shotguns, Rocket Launchers, Sniper Rifles and more, each can have wildly different specs and elemental effects like fire and acid. Sometimes you can even get odd combinations like a shotgun that fires rockets, or a rocket launcher with near automatic burst fire.
Like I said, Borderlands is all about the loot. Sometimes people will try and stop you from achieving your ultimate goal of getting all the loot, ranging from bandits to spec ops soldiers and even sometimes the local wild life. You just blow them up into tiny little pieces and then take their loot and get back to work collecting loot. In every "town" there are noticeboards with jobs for you to do, doing these gets you even more loot, as well as exp, which gives you skill points when you level up. You can then spend these points on skills that make killing things for loot or getting loot easier. Theres also some lady talking directly into your head and telling you where to go, normal you should ignore voices in your head, but this one comes with a picture, so we should trust it. It might lead us to more loot.
There are 4 classes of loot gatherer to choose from in this game. Theres the Soldier (Roland) who likes machine guns and turrets and support role stuff, and loot too, theres the Berserker (Brick) who likes to punch things while laughing maniacally and blow things up (and loot), theres the Hunter (Mordekai) who likes bondage and shooting things from afar with sniper rifles (and loot) and finally theres the Siren (Lilith) who likes tight leather pants, turning invisible and environmental effects on SMG's. Oh, and she likes loot too, but what chick doesn't?
Over all it is an excellent loot gathering simulator with slick and stylish presentation and it's a tone of fun, especially when played co-op with friends. Did I mention the loot yet?
But wait, it gets better!jojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Assassin's Creed 2 Deluxe Edition
The first game in the series followed the exploits of Master assassin Altair through crusades torn holy lands fighting the Templars. This new entry follows Ladies man Ezio Auditore as he gallivants through 1400's Italy and eventually gets caught up in the plotting and fighting between the Templars and the Assassins (of which his father is a member). Eventually Ezio becomes a badass assassin in his own right, but he also is much more of a character that Altiar, who was very serious and didn't have that much personality or dialog.
The game is basically more of the same in a new setting, but with vastly improved combat. Opponents still tend to hang back a little, but there is a lot more variety in offensive weapons and ways to break through opponents defense. The controls can still be a little frustrating, leading to Ezio leaping of ledges in the wrong direction from time to time, but it's not much of a problem most of the time. The second game also introduces a lot more variety in the side missions and main mission structure, which is now much less systematic and follows the story a lot better. Desmond also has a larger role in this game as it tries to expand on the modern time line story more, although it doesn't do too much in this department.
Over all it takes the already winning formula of the first game and makes it better in it's weaker areas, the story is just as good, the characters are more interesting, it has all the conspiracy and intrigue of the first game and then some and it even increases in scope a little. Plus nothing feels more awesome than jumping from rooftop to rooftop like an urban ninja.
A great startjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Assassins Creed
Assassins creed is the first entry in a new series for Ubisoft that aims to combine the awesome pakour-y-ness of the Prince of Persia games with the conspiracy and intrigue of Deus Ex. They did a damn fine job of it too. The story follows the exploits of master assassin Altiar as he leaps and bounds through the ancient holy lands during the crusades chasing down the templar to try and stop their plans of taking over the world. Having botched a mission right at the start Altiar is stripped of his rank and toys and forced to earn it all back again. All this comes from the memories of one of Altiar's descendants, Desmond. Desmond was kidnapped by a company called Abstergo and plugged into a machine they call the Animus, which allows the to view memories encoded into peoples DNA (geneticists will need to exercise some suspension of disbelief). Through Desmonds genetic memories of Altiar they hope to discover something, which all becomes apparent as Altiar assassinates the various templar leaders and slowly pieces together their plot.
The game its self largely consists of afore mentioned pakour-y goodness as Altair jumps from roof top to roof top and scales the tallest buildings to view his surroundings. The game also has an interesting view on 'stealth'. Instead of being sneaky and avoiding being seen by hiding in shadows and stalking, Altiar is so badass he can just hide in plain sight by mingling with crowds and slipping in with wandering groups of similarly dressed priests. With all these skill sets at your disposal it feels particularly rewarding climbing over the walls of a compound, walking up to your target disguised in plain sight and assassinating them without anyone even knowing and then just walking away. Except if you mess up that is. Thats when the games sword fighting comes into play. This is probably the weakest aspect of the game, as it generally devolves into a stand around and wait for the enemy to attack, then counter and repeat while everyone else just stands around and watches their buddy get slaughtered. Taking out a dozen guards cans till be fun, but it is a bit silly watching them do nothing. Initiating conflicts with a leaping stab from Altairs hidden blade is always fun though.
One of the other drawbacks of the first game was that each mission basically follows the exact same structure, gather intel on the target by doing a few different tasks like pickpocketing a target or beating info out of someone, then go stab the target in the face. The directors cut the PC got made this a little better by adding in a few extra mini games like races and flag gathering, but it cans till feel a tad repetitive overall. The good storyline and general awesomeness and style make up for this though.
Definitely a worthy purchase, especially given there are several other good games in the series (so far).
Good, bad, definately not uglyjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 was the result of Ubisoft having a name for a game and no studio making the game (they had the IP, but Crytek, makers of the first Far Cry jumped ship to EA). They basically looked at what was good about the first game (huge open environments and game play, and awesome graphics) and tried to build a game out of it. They certainly got the graphics part right, it's a lovely looking game that manages to make the brown desert environs of Africa look colorful and interesting. The rest was hit and miss.
One thing they hit dead on was the openness of the game play and environments. In the game you can go anywhere and do anything, and some of the new additions like setting the dry grass alight and starting raging savanna fires that get blown about by changing wind patterns is incredibly awesome to behold, and really adds a huge level of dynamics to combat. The breaking down of weapons as they age is also an interesting mechanic that makes fire fights much more interesting, although it happens far too often for my tastes.
One of the annoying features with the game is that the mercenary checkpoints always respawn as soon as they go out of sight, which makes traveling around the environment tedious as you are constantly having to stop and clear out checkpoints that you just cleared out 5 mins ago or they chase you to the ends of the earth. The story was also pretty average, it tries to be all philosophical about the impacts of western intervention on civil wars in Africa and the horrible affects it has on civilians out there, but in the end to the player everyone is an enemy, whether freedom fighting rebel or oppressive dictators forces and you never see the civilians or how affects them past some people sitting around waiting for fake passports so they can skip town.
Overall, as a sandbox game it can be good fun to play, but something like GTA or Just Cause 2 might fit the bill better, as an open world shooter it's average with some awesome mechanics that can lead to some awesome emergent game play, but when it's not doing that it can be a drag.
More of the samejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Mafia II dns
Mafia II was the perfect opportunity to take an already great game and improve on it's few flaws to make it a masterpiece. Unfortunately they didn't do that, or at least didn't do a very good job of it. There was some small attempt to make the game world more interactive by providing clothing stores, gas stations and food places, as well as a few other places to find side quests like stealing cars etc. but ultimately there was no drive to do any of that and you could quite happily ignore them. The main story was pretty much more of the same as the original, but with nicer graphics and a new cover system for the gun fights.
One thing I will give them credit for however was the throwback to the first game they put in near the end. I won't go into to much detail because of spoilers, but suffice to say they handled it very, very well. The story it's self is over all pretty similar tot eh first, young man down on his luck gets into mob stuff, likes the money/women and takes it too far. Then finds out it's a harsh world and everyone is out to get him. It was about on par with the first game in this regard, and also had similarly interesting characters and story telling. Another thing the did well was showing the progress of time. The game starts off in the 40's following on from WWII and goes on into the 50's, and over the course of the 10 or so years the game follows it shows the progression of fashions and technology in quite an interesting manner. Every time the time line skips ahead you notice everyone is driving slightly more modern cars around and listening to slightly more modern music and wearing slightly more modern clothes. This is especially noticeable half way through the game where there is a large time skip.
While it wasn't as good a game as it should have been and probably could have been a little longer, It is stll a pretty good game that I would recommend to everyone interested in mob stories.
An offer you can't refusejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Mafia
Mafia is one of those games a lot of people pass off as a bad GTA clone. Superficially it does appear to be a very similar game, but in reality it's a much more linear story driven game than GTA is. The driving segments are mostly there to pad out the length of the game and give you some downtime, there isn't actually very much to do outside of the storyline missions.
The story follows the exploits of Tommy Angelo, and is told retrospectively by him as he informs the police of Mafia dealings in the hopes of getting excused from his own misdeeds. He starts off as a cab driver around what I believe is a recreation of Chicago during the 30's and 40's. One night he gets pulled into a car chase by some fleeing mafia types, and upon receiving a phenomenal pay check for his services and an invite to work for them in the future, decides it's the only way hes ever going to get ahead in life. What flows is a compelling story of how he got everything and then lost it all, it's one of those 'crime never pays' stories.
The atmosphere of the game is excellent, everything looks and sounds like it belongs in the setting, there is a proper licensed soundtrack and even the cars fit right in. The game is set during the height of the gangsters reign and it really feels like you are there. The characters are believable and the voice acting is all excellent and fits the setting. The driving sequences can be a little bit of a challenge as the cars handle quite poorly and I get the feeling they were designed with a game pad in mind, but the gun play works fine. My one complaint is that the game can be brutally hard on you. The last mission in particular was extremely difficult.
Overall the game still plays great and is highly entertaining, for the great story if nothing else.
A fairly unique and memorable gamejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is somewhat of a cult classic game the horribly underperformed original, despite getting decent reception by critics. It was generally loved for it's good art style, sense of humor, atmospheric setting and lovable characters. The game centers around Jade, A journalist who also works at an orphanage with her "uncle" Pay'j, an anthropomorphic pig. One day after an attack by an alien race known as the Domz (a fairly regular occurrence in the game world) she ends up getting drawn into conspiracy and adventure as she uses her journalistic skills to help uncover the truth behind the Domz invasion.
The game has a good mix of Platforming, basic combat, mini-games and a fairly unique "photography" system where you go out and take pictures of the various creatures in the world on contracts for money. The game has a somewhat similar feel to it as the Zelda games which certainly isn't a bad thing.
While it's not the most amazing game ever made, it is unique enough to stand on it's own and be one of the few games out there that you will likely enjoy coming back to every now and again, just to relive the experience.
Brutality at it's fnestjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Condemned: Criminal Origins [Playfire]
Condemned is a good game with an almost adventure game like feeling too it. It also has some pretty well done horror aspects too it as well. There is a decent plot to follow there, but that part that really stands out is the meele combat. If theres one thing games have often tried to do and failed miserably it's get the feeling of swinging a weighty object like a sword or club and crushing someones skull with it. Condemned did an excellent job of conveying the weight and brutality of the combat. Whether using a 2x4 with rusty nails in it or your fists no game comes close to conveying the feeling like Condemned does.
Another thing Condemned did a great job of was atmosphere. The game is dark, gritty and oppressing and it really conveys that feeling. The scene with the mannequins in the old store in particular was excellently well done. The story was pretty well paced in it's delivery and the detective minigame helped to break up things and provide some downtime.
Over all a great game, and one that makes me sad the sequel was console exclusive.
Good game, bad Rainbow 6 gamejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
This is a decent enough cover based shooter, think gears of war with realistic weapons and setting, and some stuff about terrorists. This is an awful Rainbow Six game though. Rainbow Six is all about careful planning tactics and equipment selection to infiltrate a site, capture or neutralize all hostiles and if needed rescue hostages, all with no casualties, no alarms, no terrorists escaping and serious consequences if you or any of your team get shot (ya know, like in real life), proper SAS kinda stuff. Instead this is a game about hiding behind some blocks with one other team mate and shooting at the bad guys till they all go down. Alarms? bah, more bad guys to shoot. Getting shot? just behind for cover for a few seconds while your health magically regenerates, she'll be right. Tactics are for people with attention spans. This is fine in some games, but not in Rainbow Six. As far as story goes this is the usual Tom Clancy Affair, conspiracies and military talk etc.
A good example of how a bad port can ruin a good gamejojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
Double Agent is a decent entry into the Splinter Cell series. It follows the exploits of Super Secret Spy dude Sam Fisher after he goes off the deep end due to some possibly spoilery stuff. In typical self-destructive manner he starts taking all sorts of crazy dangerous assignments, the game focusing on one in particular where he is tasked with infiltrating a terrorist group and finding out their plans to blow up America and stuff. The story line was pretty cliche, although the 'moral choice' moments were interesting, as was the fact that you were constantly getting objectives from both sides, often causing conflicts and forcing you to choose who you were going to appease to gain/keep trust. This brought a certain tension to even menial tasks like setting up bombs for the terrorists, what was essentially a menial task instead left you thinking, should I give them the shaft and not set up the bombs and risk loosing trust? Can I finish this quickly enough to go spy on them? There was always an element of planning out how to do everything that was nice. This was all between missions though, the actual missions themselves were usually less interesting, being sneak to objective A, complete and do something for agency, go to B etc.
One thing that really let down this game though was the port quality. The controls were awful, as was the UI. The lack of effort really shows, especially when you fire up the game and the window Icon is the default icon from Unreal Tournament (it's a UE2 game I believe). It's a shame too because it makes it very difficult to get into what is otherwise a decent game. Constantly having to look up illogical keybinds and things being in unintuitive places is a real downer. It could be overlooked in a superb game where it is the only flaw, but Double Agent is only an OK game, it really detracts from what should be a fun experience you just want to drop into.
More fun than a barrel of monkeys, where the monkeys are made ofjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Super Meat Boy
There isn't much to say about Super Meat Boy, one has to play it to truly appreciate how much of a masterpiece of game design it is. The art design is cute and endearing, the music is top notch and great to listen to and the controls are so tight they would suffocate you if you accidentally got your head stuck inside them. The controls are so good that when something goes wrong in that game you know it was entirely your fault. Theres no blaming the controls lagging our or not doing what you told them. You failed because you held that button for 10ms too long, or pressed jump 3ms too late and you know it. For that reason I seriously recommend using a controller with a good d-pad. It might hurt your fingers, but the optimal precision is worth it. The difficulty curve is also pretty much perfect. It starts off introducing a few movement techniques like jumping and wall jumping and being so easy you are almost wondering what all the fuss is about, but it slowly and gradually gets harder and harder untill you are curled up in the corner weeping softly and telling it you're sorry and you'll never doubt it again. The transition between these two states is so gradual though you don't even notice it happening untill it's too late, but by that stage you are pretty much at the end of the game.
The game also has a great sense of humor and it comes through in the cutscenes, but the final world, Cotton Alley really hammers this home. Normally you play as Meat Boy, trying to rescue your girlfreind Bandage Girl from the evil Dr. Fetus, only to have here stolen from your clutches again at the very last second. In Cotton Alley though, the roles are reversed and Bandage Girl has to rescue Meat Boy. Sticking with this theme, everything is pink and flowery and the music is light and upbeat. Everything is so happy, it's like it's mocking you as it's ridiculously hard levels crush you mercilessly into the ground over and over again. Despite the constant failure and frustration you experience towards the end of the game however, it never stops being fun. You always want another try, and you always get that tiny bit further as you commit every movement to muscle memory and learn the patterns. It's a blast to play and it never gets old, even going back to beat your par times on each level is fun.
The many retro throwbacks are also nice too see. There are numerous references to old classics like Street Fighter and Castlevania in the intro videos to each world as well as multiple warp zones that take Meat Boy to an alternate 4-16 bit world, complete with matching graphics and music. Tis truly a thing of beauty.
The game I've ben waiting for since Deus Exjojot | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
One of the first games that ever really blew me away was Deus Ex, It's rich world, deep philosophical themes and sheer scope were all well beyond what was being put out at the time. I loved talking to the characters, I loved that I could sneak about and tranq dart soldiers and hide their unconscious bodies to avoid detection, I loved that I could pick locks or hack security pads to open up new routes or find hidden items. I loved that it could let me play the way I wanted to. Then Invisible War came along, tried to retcon all the mutually exclusive endings of the first game into one, removed a lot of the depth and character interaction, shrunk the levels down and just generally failed at everything the first did so well. So when Human Revolution was announced my first though was "Here we go again". Slowly but surely though, with every press release and announcement the Eidos Montreal team managed to relax my fears. Everything I didn't like or wasn't sure of they addressed and fixed during production. I ended up being very excited for the release of this game. The problem with high expectations for a game is that you usually end up being disappointed. Human Revolution was not one of these games, it did not disappoint.
Human Revolution had all of the atmosphere, intrigue, character and excitement that the original held for me, all wrapped up in a shiny new gold coating. Several features have been improved, the hacking has been moved from a automatic "fire the multitool at the thing to hack" to a little minigame that involves some actual thought (although you can usually get by with just hammering at it and trying to beat the clock when you get detected). The gun play is also much tighter this time around. While I like the old "take your time aiming to improve accuracy" mechanic of the first game, given that a special agent/SWAT Officer should already be plenty proficient with most firearms it was perhaps a little overdone. In HR however you can use any weapon proficiently and the only penalties you suffer are for movement. This lets you freely pick up any weapon and use it well and feel like a badass instead of getting something you aren't "trained" in and failing miserably at hitting a target 5 feet in front of you. Having said that, I do miss the skill system in the new game. Instead of things like hacking and lock picking using skill, it is now automatically handled by Augmentations. All locks also seem to be electronic now, where as in the first game (in the future of the game world) many are mechanical. The Augs were another aspect I though was hit and miss. Many seemed to be designed purely to make existing tasks easier, instead of opening up new ways of playing. The CASIE aug was handy for working your way through tough battles of will in some conversations, the punch through walls upgrade was cool for finding new paths and hidden items and the ability to life large objects for moving obstacles to open new paths. Many Augs felt like waste of time though. Most of the radar ones just made it easier to work out if guards could see you, but you could already work that out by the direction they were facing and how far they were. The cloak was too short and used too much power to be that useful I found and the take downs, while useful in some circumstances, also used power, which limited their use. The last problem I had was only one power level will recharge, and the items to charge extra levels were too scarce I found. That coupled with a lack of interest in the augs that drained power meant that I generally only used the take downs, and spent all my time sitting on one power bar.
As for performance, the game looks decent (nothing amazing but not horrible either, it has a very clean look to it, kinda like mirrors edge) and runs great, even on my rusty old 8800 GTS 320 and C2D 3Hz. I get 45-60+ FPS at 1680x1050 and everything set to max (except the Ambient Occlusion which I'm not a fan of and the DX11 features), so the game was perfectly playable in all circumstances, indoors frequently topped 100 fps. The only problem I noticed was that menu items could be unresponsive when clicked, especially with V-Sync turned on. There was also some mouse acceleration present which required registry entries to fix, but hopefully that will be changed in a patch soon.
All up this game is most excellent and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a lengthy, deep RPG/FPS experience similar to the original. Eidos Montreal did a tremendous job creating something worthy of the name Deus Ex and they should be damn well proud of themselves.