Reviews by niniendowarrior
This is a cheap product!niniendowarrior | April 8, 2012 | Review of Golden Age of Racing
Golden Age of Racing is Midas Interactive's attempt at catering to fans of the 1960s Grand Prix racing age. Having always been curious about this period of Grand Prix racing, I was naturally attracted to this old budget title. You can tell from the main menu alone that they try to capture the style of John Frankenheimer's Grand Prix film with the split screen. Unfortunately, this isn't what most players will notice once the game starts.
That's because the graphics are pretty appalling. Everything looks incredibly cheap, from the cars down to the barely populated tracks. I suppose that should not be surprising given the budget nature of the game. Although there are some interestingly designed cars in this game, all of them have very low polygon count and the textures are very simple. The tracks themselves are static and feel very dead. It is a great shame because there are some interesting track layouts here. If you are the kind of player that enjoys some pretty eye candy, you might as well stick forks into your eyes.
The music department does not fare any better in this game as the tune that plays on the main menu will no doubt simply put you to sleep. It may carry that same 60s vibe, but it sure does its best to convince you to put the game down. Fortunately, a racing game is about the driving so the only real sound you need is from the engines. The game delivers somewhat, but it is not distinct enough for each of the slim selection of cars available.
How do you extend the lifespan of the game with a paltry list of cars and tracks? Midas Interactive commits a great sin by padding the same tracks over and over to different 'championships'. You might get a few new trophies... ahem... reskinned trinkets in your trophy room, but the process of attaining them is exactly the same. Even worse, the races get longer and longer, amplifying the repetitive nature of the title. Each track comes with subtle changes in configurations giving you a false sense of getting a new track. It's freaking cheap. Oh, I said that already? Sorry, but I can't help it.
From a technical standpoint, there is indeed plenty to hate in this game. You would not be at fault for blacklisting Midas for such a cheap product. It screams this sort of quality from the get go, but is there truly no good thing about this game?
There is! It's the actual driving. Make no mistake though, this isn't the game where you can just sit and go crazy. The game is very, very unforgiving with your treatment of the car. Each of them demands a certain respect and once you try to bully it, you'll soon be hitting the gravel traps and hay stacks. Pushing requires a certain level of sensibility from you because there is a lot of understeer and lack of grip in these vehicles. I suppose the same could be said for cars in the 1960s. Whether or not the physics feel realistic is one thing, but it certainly makes the attempt to keep you honest. It's a bit floaty, but it's certainly not a game breaker. After all if you've made it this far into the title, you've had forgiven the developers over its myriad of atrocities.
I can understand the hate this game gets. In a way, I hate it too because they clearly didn't even life a finger to do a genuine effort to impress. If you're not one to put your head down and learn how the driving works, you're really going to wish you had set the disc on fire. On the other hand, you probably already did.
Decent shooter marred by glaring flawsniniendowarrior | Jan. 8, 2012 | Review of Sniper: Ghost Warrior PRE
Sniper - Ghost Warrior is a military first person shooter powered by Chrome Engine 4, the very same engine that brought us Call of Juarez. The game attempts to present a unique spin in the shooter genre by emphasizing the sniper role. For the most part, City Interactive succeeds yet the game stumbles way too often to really shine.
First person shooters hardly innovate and Sniper is no exception. Where the picture changes is the attention City Interactive pays to realism of the actual act of sniping. You can feel the difference of its shooting mechanic when compared to other shooters. Wind, range and your hearbeat all affects how easily you can line up your shots. When you move around, it makes great sense that it affects your heartbeat and how accurate your aim is. To assist players with the trajectory of the shot, the game displays a red marker on the sniper scope to tell players where the bullet is really going to go. It works really well and feels very natural.
Visually, the game looks very impressive. There's plenty of green foliage in this game and they look very real. As one of the primary means of hiding, it's imperative to get it right. You can tell that the developers worked extremely hard with their environments, it's a shame that they didn't pour as much effort on the people. The face models look stiff and very basic. Nevertheless, the excellent use of ray tracing, depth of field and other modern graphical touches masks the little visual faults of this game.
The biggest problem the game has that keeps it from shining is its woefully inconsistent AI. The AI tends to be either extremely dumb or psychic with nothing inbetween. There are moments when you can peek around and take them out one by one. Unfortunately, there are moments when your brief presence is enough to get enemies from miles away to open fire at you. At times, you're not even sure how they manage to find you. They just know where you are and start shooting. Everything the game worked so hard to achieve is completely undone at that point as the game degenerates into save/load thus making the entire ordeal a case of trial and error.
Equally disappointing are the times when the game departs from its sniper-based mechanics turning the game into a watered down jungle shooter. Without its stealth and sniper rifle, it's hard to see any significant merits to it.
At the end of it, what you have is a mixed bag. Sniper - Ghost Warrior is a game that is easy to like as it is to hate. It's got many things going for it, but you'll have to overlook its glaring faults. Can you? That is the question.
Solid effort by Seganiniendowarrior | July 1, 2011 | Review of Virtua Tennis 4 DNS
Virtua Tennis 4 is Sega's port from the internally developed console versions, taking control of development from Sumo Digital's Virtua Tennis 2009. For the most part, Virtua Tennis 4 is straight forward to play, making the game very easy to pick up and play. Anyone who had played Virtua Tennis before will slip right in easily with this new iteration as everything seems very familiar, gameplay-wise.
What is revamped is the career mode which uses a board game style approach in contrast to the globe map style of 2009. I found this a much welcome change as it gives me an idea of what events are available as well as allow me to plan the travel and training schedule effectively. During the course of the career mode, you will get to unlock new styles of play for your character as well as clothes while playing through silly mini-games.
The different styles of play entices you to adhere to that style (e.g. playing as hardhitter means being aggressive and using powershots often, etc). Doing so will fill up a gauge meter allowing you to use special shots on your opponent.
Online play is handled through Games For Windows Live and though it is serviceable, there have been people complaining about save corruption issues that possibly stem from it. The list of players is a little thin also, but it should not detract from the solid tennis play, making this a solid entry in the series.
Polished and betterniniendowarrior | June 15, 2011 | Review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin [Playfire]
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is IO Interactive's follow up to the cult hit Hitman: Codename 47. Following the successful formula of an open solution based stealth action, the sequel hopes to improve over the faults of the original.
For the most part, Hitman Silent Assassin is a major improvement, featuring more sophisticated visuals, better designed levels, and a memorable orchestra soundtrack to augment the experience. The mission structure is carefully laid out and the environments are much better this time around, from the calm peaceful church sanctuary to the snowy St. Peter's Square all the way to the Japanese alps and Malaysian skyrise buildings.
Much of the gameplay mechanics has also improved, giving 47 more abilities such as peeking through door locks and knocking people out without having to kill them. AI has also received improvements and the suspicion system is better implemented here. The difficulty of the game had also been relaxed to give the game a wider appeal, adding markers on the map and a limited number of saves.
Story telling is much better this time around though story had never been the Hitman series' strongest suit. The premise is sound, though it is evidently not the focus of the game.
Silent Assassin eschews the old cash system in favour of the weapon collection that is somewhat of a misstep. It is strange for 47 to not have the ability to choose the weapons load out for any mission.
Taken as a whole, Hitman Silent Assassin takes the original game and gives it a polishing touch that elevates the series from cult status to certified hit. Unlike the first game, this game ages gracefully and lays out the foundation that many of the other Hitman games have drawn from.
Good creative start to the Hitman seriesniniendowarrior | June 15, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Codename 47 [Playfire]
Hitman Codename: 47 is a unique stealth action game by IO Interactive that spawned the popular Hitman series. You play as an contract killer taken through different and sometimes, strange locales to take out targets as specified by the International Contract Agency.
Each mission is structured with a briefing section where the game details you environments and clues as to how to do carry on the objectives. How you do it is entirely up to you as you go through the list of weapons to purchase. Several of the levels are large and complicated and this is where the game challenges you to think about the method of killing to take. You can take on disguises, sneak and kill just about anyone you please, but your performance affects the pay off you receive.
When it works, Hitman is very engrossing in its environment and missions. This especially holds true on urban settings where 47 fits naturally. When the game deviates from it, the game ends up being a drag especially when the stages are large.
At the end of each mission, how cleanly you performed the kill is rewarded with cash that you use to purchase your equipments for your next kill. Hopefully, you had saved some money as any weapons you may have bought is discarded completely at the end of each mission, making it important to determine how well you spend your money.
Graphically, the game has aged and the cracks do show. It's not as sharp as its successors are. Body animations are weird and there's not a lot of nifty visual effects on display. The story of 47 is also incredibly difficult to follow, demanding you to pay attention to in-game details as well as its awkward story cutscenes. This game also demands a trial-and-error style of play as you tinker your solutions and figure out the logic as to how to kill your targets efficiently. Some people will definitely get turned off by the game's unforgiving nature, yet at the same time fulfilling the missions give a very satisfying feeling.
Hitman Codename 47 lays down the foundations to what has become a much beloved series. It also misses out on refinements that have gone down with each sequel. If you're looking for a refined version, you're best option would be to turn to Hitman Contracts. Those curious about how the series started will find this game good, if not really old.
Bigger and betterniniendowarrior | June 13, 2011 | Review of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 [Playfire]
With the success of the first Sonic game, it's obvious to see that Sega had struck gold with a unique formula for the platformer. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 takes the formula and expands on it, giving a richer and better experience than the first game.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the sequel is the addition of the invulnerable companion Tails that a second player can use to assist Sonic in his quest to stop Dr. Robotnik who once again had turned animals into robots. With the addition of Tails, Sonic 2 gives a cooperative dynamic to the game and it's certainly breathes new life into the formula. Sonic gains a few new tricks in the sequel upgrade but they are merely fine tunes to the successful formula of the game.
Much of Sonic 2 is structured similarly to the first game. There are more stages in this game and all of them are split up into acts. Each stage has diverse designs and really catchy tunes that suits the games style. Also returning is the collection of Chaos Emeralds although this time, players are given an added incentive to complete it as it allows players to access the invulnerable Super Sonic. Fortunately gone is the pinball game levels and in its stead are half-pipe stages that Sonic blitzes through to collect coins and take the Chaos Emerald.
Sonic 2 in essence follows the bigger is better mantra. It takes the first game and gives the graphics a slight upgrade, adds more stages, and expands the gameplay department. For the most part, it works but it's also tough as nails. If you loved Sonic 1, Sonic 2 is where you should put your next investment. If Sonic wasn't your cup of tea however, Sonic 2 won't convince you otherwise.
Indeed the fast and the furious!niniendowarrior | June 13, 2011 | Review of Sonic the Hedgehog [Playfire]
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Sega classic that appeared on the Mega Drive/Genesis platform years back. Though it's a side-scrolling platformer at heart, it stands out from other titles by its emphasis on pure, sheer speed. Sonic accelerates really fast and goes through spiraling routes that are meant to dazzle players and give levels its distinct flavour.
To add to its allure, this game thrives with very simple and easy to grasp mechanics while presenting incredibly tricky situations. Anyone can play it, but mastering this game is a different nature. Like a lot of the games of its time, Sonic the Hedgehog rewards the 'keep trying' mentality while the game continues to beat your head with a bat. The difficulty ramps up very quickly and it's very unforgiving. Equally frustrating is the consequence of running of lives as you'll be forced right back into square one.
Sonic is split up to six stages with each one taking place in three acts. Each stage tune is very catchy and unique while the level themes are very creative and interesting. The game may seem very old at this point, but its visuals remain striking in a very retro way. Through each stage, Sonic also has the added burden of catching six chaos emeralds through this maddening pinball-esque stage that is a total contrast to the style of the rest of the game. You might have enjoyed the change of pace, but this one is equally difficult and frustrating. The rewards for getting them also don't necessarily feel all that special.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a game that serves as a reminder of what the franchise once was. It's fast, it's dazzling, and it's bloody difficult. If you like all of that, then line up for one hell of a ride.
A Modern Classicniniendowarrior | June 5, 2011 | Review of Sid Meier's Pirates! [Playfire]
Sid Meier's Pirates is a game about plundering the seas, chasing down pirates and finding romance all wrapped up in a colourful and entertaining package. The music is simple but lively. Each character exudes a certain charm that captures the hearts of young and old from the art direction down to the very Sim-lish grunts they bark.
This is a game that rewards players the more they sail away, whether that's hearing news of the next treasure, or chasing down the next notorious pirate. There is always a target and the game never fails to give you a new one to chase once you complete it. While in the cities, governors may also give you quests to fulfill, or you may also end up whisking away the governor's daughter in dancing mini-games that the game effortlessly slips in without losing its charms. It also has a strategy game that is a welcome diversion from the strategic ship combat, its treasure hunting mode and its other modes.
Sid Meier's Pirates takes the essence of the original and makes it a modern masterpiece. It has that rare quality of rewarding players at every turn, showing enough surprises to keep them interested to see just what's waiting in the corner.
Clumsy Crime Adventureniniendowarrior | May 24, 2011 | Review of Still Life
Still-Life uses the same existing technology that made Syberia a success to create a moody crime tale about Victoria McPherson and her travails to solve the mystery of a serial killer that targets sex trade workers. In addition to her tale, players are also treated to very similar serial killings in 1920s through the eyes of Victoria's grandfather, Gustav McPherson.
Still-Life is the sequel to Post Mortem though it is not necessary to play the first to understand this game. For the most part, the game operates similarly to any point and click adventure games, showing impressive computer generated cutscenes and plenty of pixel hunting. This game also employs a dual mousebutton dialog style where players can determine how they want to push interrogations and conversations.
Unfortunately however, the game never really lures you in. A lot of the plot details are very easy to predict as you gather initial clues. Many of the puzzles are ones you can see coming from a mile away. There are also some puzzles that simply have no logic whatsoever. The conversation branching also fails to give any real consequence as you can pick and choose the responses without any rewards nor penalties. Victoria being an incredibly repulsive lead character, does not help in giving the story something to hold on to. The story stumbles to its climax and leaves you hanging without any satisfactory conclusion.
Adventure games are often very slow paced and Still-Life follows suit. But its poor writing and annoying puzzles keeps the title from living up to the intriguing scenes and environments that it shows. Some players may appreciate bits and pieces but many will simply loathe it.
Could have been better...niniendowarrior | April 19, 2011 | Review of Tomb Raider: Underworld DNS
Tomb Raider Underworld continues Lara's search for her mother in a story that has turned for a convoluted turn as Crystal Dynamics attempts to tie in their previous efforts, Legends and Anniversary. The end result from a plot stand point is a strange story, never finding a momentum to build up to a satisfying conclusion.
From the game stand point, Crystal Dynamics builds from their work on Anniversary, giving Lara more moves and revamped motion animations. Some of these improvements work, some of them don't. Lara is supposed to move more realistic but at times looks a lot clumsier. The wall scaling controls also don't particularly add much to what she's capable of doing already. Adrenaline dodge from Anniversary is also replaced with Adrenaline headshot though I feel it's not exactly intuitive nor easy to pull off.
At the end of it, Tomb Raider Underworld is not necessarily a bad game, but it certainly does not live up to the first two. The environments and graphics are still top notch and music helps build the atmosphere of the game. Yet, it's hard not to shake off its flaws. Fans of the first two games will certainly enjoy this one, but the game isn't all it can be.
Impressive effort, but something is missing...niniendowarrior | April 19, 2011 | Review of World of Goo
World of Goo is small game with a very simple goal. That is to get the little goo balls into the pipe by interlocking them to form a bridge of goo. What makes this very tricky is the physics model it employs to simulate gravity and weight, providing players with puzzles and tasks ranging from the most simple stages to very devious and mind-teasing ones.
The presentation as well as the music are very well done and keeps the game looking very sharp and impressive. There's also quite a number of stages to keep you plenty busy, if you're into that sort of game.
While I admire the game in its individual parts, the sum of it all seems rather lacking. Passing through challenges seem like a chore rather than engrossing and while I can understand it to be addicting for others, it simply wasn't for me. I'd advise watching the videos and trying the demo. It has the production values that will impress you. Whether it captures you for the long haul is another question.
Brutal action titleniniendowarrior | April 17, 2011 | Review of Shadow Dancer
At its most basic, Shadow Dancer is an arcade action game where your objective aside from slaughtering hordes of ninjas and monsters in America is to rescue people scattered through each level. Aiding Shinobi is his attack dog and its fairly clear early on that you will need all the help you can get. Shadow Dancer is an exercise of frustration as you die way too easily and the game really stacks up the odds on you, especially later in the game. It's certainly a game from an older era that aims to chomp as much tokens out of you as it possibly could.
The fights normally involve Shinobi throwing shuriken stars, or using his sword to cut through his foes with the action taking place either on the foreground or the background as he's capable of jumping between the two planes. He also has a one use magic that clears up a screen worth of enemies, though it's clearly better to use them on the boss fights that gets incremently more frustrating the closer you get to the game.
Much of the technical aspects of the game are dated, but most retro gamers likely understand that already. Still it's a solid action game through and through.
Shadow Dancer isn't a long game, but it's one that makes you work for it. If you like challenge, this game will hammer you till you perfected it.
Not perfect, but good platformerniniendowarrior | April 17, 2011 | Review of Trine
Trine is a classic platformer that aims to tease your mind as you go through its fairly lengthy dungeons. In the game, you are provided with three different characters: a mage, a thief, and a warrior. Each of them have different skills and you need to utilize all their specialties to beat through the game's obstacles. While the warrior is mostly about simple straightforward combat, the mage is almost always involved when it comes to the games tricky moments involving revolving planks and other platform-based puzzles. The thief by design, seems a little bit of a mixture of the two opposite ends of the spectrum.
The game's visuals are very pleasing and the audio is well-crafted. Its story is supremely basic but it's fairly evident early on that you're not going to be focusing too much on it. There's a level-up-based progression, allowing each character to gain and improve upon their skills that will assist you through the stages. Speaking of stages, if there's a downside to the game is that its stages are way too long and certainly can wear out player patience.
In closing, Trine strips away the overly complicated and flashy aspects of modern video games and takes a more back to basics approach in video games. Putting the focus on gameplay and quirky level design puts players back to the point of simply playing the game and having fun, without the extra burdens and other bells and whistles. For the most part, the game has a charm of its own and is a commendable effort.
Solid beat 'em up game for the nostalgic...niniendowarrior | April 15, 2011 | Review of Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage is a very straightforward beat 'em up game from the Genesis' golden years, featuring catchy tunes and a very solid fighting system. Each of the three characters has a combination attack and a few grapple moves at their disposal to dispatch the hordes upon hordes of thugs the game pours at you throughout the game. Weapons are dropped in the levels to aid you in dishing out punishment though the amount of attacks you can do with them are rather limited. The plot is also fairly simple, its only purpose is to supply you some thugs to beat up. It may not be the fanciest title in the market at this point in time, but its the perfect platform to indulge yourself in some retrogaming.
A great classicniniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Mafia
Mafia tells the story of Tommy Angelo and his rise from a lowly cab driver to being a made man. It's a very straightforward story that is told exceptionally well with very well executed scenes that build up as each key moment unravels. Much of the game is dated at this point, but the core shooting mechanics and driving sequences still hold together. In addition Lost Heaven still looks good and instantly slides you into the 1930s with ease. The music from the likes of Django Reinhardt are perfect addition as the game's city tunes, while the orchestral soundtrack add tension when the game presents its more dramatic moments. Mafia is a rare gem and deserves your consideration.
Tomb Raider Anniversary is the perfection of Legendsniniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Tomb Raider: Anniversary DNS
Tomb Raider: Anniversary revisits the first Tomb Raider game many years back with this entry of the series. Taking in the lessons of the previous effort, you will notice immediately just how everything is familiar and yet different. The environments are huge and the interacting with it is still as fun as it was in Legends. From a visual and audio standpoint, the game gets slight upgrades, creating much more engrossing experiences. The core shooting mechanic is back but with the new adrenaline dodge twist which is a good addition that becomes incredibly critical to survival. There's a lot to do in the game and when you're done, the mansion itself serves as an added bonus, giving the game that much more life after completion.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is Crystal Dynamics second entry into the series, taking a lot from Legends and fine tuning things to create an even more robust system. In so doing, they've not only created a well-crafted product, but one that represents the pinnacle of their works in the franchise.
Decent game, but regresses from the original.niniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Syberia 2
Benoit Sokal's Syberia invited players to his wonderful surreal world full of interesting characters. Syberia 2 rides those waves of interest and wraps the story with a wimper.
Visually, Syberia 2 delivers the same impressive work that fans of the first will have gotten used to. Unlike the original game however, character design quality are fairly uneven. As usual, the CGI movies are well created and serve to further the story to its unsavory conclusion.
Syberia 2's soundtrack is great when it's played. The problem seems to be that they are not played that much at all. Most of the time you'll get ambient sounds, which is fine for the most part.
The game carefully retains the formula of the first game, but somehow misses the mark. There is an unshakeable feeling that something was lost in the transition from the first game to the second. The title clearly isn't as compelling could have improved over the first one. The game is slow to pick up, even for adventure gamers but if you stick through it, the game does have its moments.
Very Impressive Adventureniniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Syberia
Syberia is a very well crafted point-and-click adventure games that was created way back in 2002. Syberia's story revolves around a lawyer, Kate Walker, with a seemingly mundane task of completing a take over of a toy company. Like any great adventure, you soon find out that this acquisition is anything but straight forward.
The game's visuals and backdrops are simply stunning and the CG movies are very well crafted. Character models need a little bit of work, but thankfully they are never zoomed too close to jar you.
The soundtrack though sparse is very well crafted. Dialogues can get repetitive and more often than not, the game is too quiet.
The story is well-written and the characters are very well developed, with the puzzles very much intertwinted into the story. Sadly though, the slow pace may turn some players away. It's certainly not perfect, but what it has is well-executed.
A Shadow of its Predecessorniniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Mafia II dns
Mafia II is the much awaited follow up, this time taking place in Empire Bay instead of Lost Heaven. While the first game produces memorable characters and powerful stories, this game seems to be extremely cluttered, never figuring out what it really wants to talk about. There are many plot threads in this game, all of them possessing very good potential to build strong premises. All of them delivered with extremely well written lines and powerful scenes. Unfortunately, all of that brilliance falls flat when the game fails to follow through on them.
The production values are extremely impressive. Character models are well done and Empire Bay is rendered with attention to detail. The soundtrack is a huge improvement from the original though it lacks the atmospheric music.
Mafia II's strongest achievement is its cover/shooting mechanic that certainly is nothing new, but still deserves mention for getting the core basics right. There is much more to do in Empire Bay compared to the first game, though that isn't saying much either.
If you ignore all the flaws, the game is a nice distraction. Nothing more, nothing less.
A good adventure that certainly deserves a lookniniendowarrior | April 14, 2011 | Review of Tomb Raider: Legend DNS
Lara Croft finds herself intertwined in a journey that links her dark past to the threat that looms in her near future. Tomb Raider: Legends takes you to Lara's past and how her immediate travails links back to her long lost mother. It is a sound plot premise and the game delivers strong dialogue banter, though the story is a little uneven in the end, with some plot points never completely resolved satisfactorily. Tapping into artifacts that date to Arthurian Legends don't exactly help in treating this story any more seriously either.
Where Tomb Raider shines however is with the environment where scaling mountains, peering through crevices and leaping through ruins is an absolute joy. The game employs assisted jumping that tracks where she jumps really gives you a great sensation for Lara's physical ability and nimbleness. The shooting controls need some getting used to with all of Lara's acrobatic moves, but they are certainly serviceable.
Tomb Raider: Legends is the first effort by Crystal Dynamics to inject some new life into the struggling franchise. In so doing, they put out a commendable effort, producing a game that still holds up to the test of time and manages to provide a compelling adventure.