Reviews by sonicchaos
You have made your decision.sonicchaos | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of Postmortem: One must Die
Postmortem is a brave take on the story driven adventure genre. The player take control of practically Death itself, although we're never properly introduced to our protagonist, but it's still basically obvious. We start the game within the walls of a mansion (with strangely thick walls) where many chracters are gathered together for a fancy charity event. The game starts to play out like a role playing game, as we'll interact with any character in order to find the best suited one that needs to die, and yes, one has to die. That's the premise of the game, sorry! The one you'll pick, depending on whatever reasons you seem fit or because your judgement has never failed you, will prove to have an impact on things to come, maybe even on the future if the entire Nation. Or not, whatever... To be blunt, the game is short, and it can as short as you want it to be, but it's the soul of it that matters. You'll be dealing with puzzling conversations, trying to create one outcome could lead to another, totally unexpected challenge that you must confront, making this game at least 2 or 3 more playthroughs worth of value. For an indie title, it seems to be a bit too pretentious, but it delivers through ingenious puzzle mechanics and interesting setting.
World War 2 was extremely boringsonicchaos | Feb. 3, 2014 | Review of World War II: Panzer Claws
WWII Panzer Claws is a game brought ot you by TopWare Interactive, which you might think it's a company that makes frying pans and cooking ware, but the "Interactive" descriptive that comes right after TopWare clearly shows their involvement in the industry of entertainment. Interestingly enough, WWII Panzer Claws was the first game in the series, because it has a sequel aptly named WWIII Black Gold, because obviously after 2 comes the number 3. The game is a strategy game in very much the same style as their other strategy game series, Earth 21X0, except this one is set in the historical war from the title. Apparently the multiplayer was eons better than playing by yourself, but I don't know about that. The player takes control of an army of ground troops, tanks and airplanes to obliterate the enemy and win... the war, what else? No, but unfortunately for TopWare, they oddly publish only mediocre games, not too bad, but neither above decent. X-blades, Two Worlds and Jagged Alliance 2 are probably their best accomplishments, and keeping that in mind, you might probably find something completely better to play from the same year that this came out. If you're a gameplay collector, you're not going to have a completely bad time as you can't possibly have high expectation. From my experience, I give it 5 out of 10.
It's not StarCraftsonicchaos | Feb. 2, 2014 | Review of Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising
I remember this generic thing. The game was heavily inspired by Carrier Command and Battle Command, but it's so totally Ground Control. Basically there's some boring story set in "the future" about some alliance of dictators who plan to take over the world (OF COURSE! says Raul Julia as Bison... His last name was Julia, did you guys knew that?) by inventing an alien threat and thus receiving help in creating a bada** carrier with which they obviously turned and waged war against the whole world. They won, and after a bunch of years, the governments unite and plan a retaliation. You are the retaliation. Yes, you... the player. It's a strategy game. You must build all kinds of tanks and other vehicles in order to take over various islands until you win the game. That's it.
So, the game looks good, even after so many years, has a good presentation and a clean hud. I can't remember much about the sound, voices and stuff, unless I watch videos to remember and that would be like cheating. Overall, I'd rather get Ground Control over this, but as a score, it's still a 6 out of 10.
My psychic powers tell me you'll love this gamesonicchaos | Jan. 31, 2014 | Review of Psychonauts
What is it about? Our hero is Raz (short for Razputin), a psychic little boy who runs from his carnival life and his strict father to join a camp for psychic children. Within the camp we find an amazing cast of charming little characters and their teachers, but we also find adventure. There's something about Tim Schafer's games that always draw me in, and this game being one of the first that I played from him, I have to say I might be a bit too biased. I just love Taz and I love his friends. The story is interesting, you have the feeling that you move the plot forward, you have total control of what you do in the game and the world is just fantastic. It's simply a beautiful game.
How does it look? It's cartoony to the core. It's like playing through a tv cartoon in which you are the main character of the show. The world is beautiful and complex, yet simple enough to make you feel familiar with every corner very quickly. The single drawback are the cutscenes, which are very different rendered as the in-game engine and they completely remove the immersion from the rest of the game. However, the game looks like it never ages, it still has nice graphics at every resolution and it will probably always remain as timeless as the first day it came out.
How does it sound? The soundtrack shines at every tune, the music might not be as catchy or memorable as other classics, but when you're in the game, everything sounds perfect. From the menacing tone that alerts the incoming of a giant monster to the rhythms of Spanish tango, every level has its own theme. And the voices are just fantastic.
How does it play? Many complained that it's not that original, that it's a action-adventure puzzle platformer that doesn't reinvent the formula and that it's not challenging. I completely disagree with all of the above. The gameplay might not be as original or as challenging as other games, but in its own way it feels natural, it feels like it's supposed to be and there are some instances when challenge becomes frustration, mostly because the camera keeps changing the way it wants. If you want my advice, go for completing all the achievements and you'll get plenty of challenge.
Classic strategy game with a lighthearted soulsonicchaos | Jan. 31, 2014 | Review of Settlers 5 Heritage of Kings
What is it about? About the story, as I usually pay less attention to that than a monkey in home school, I barely made it through the first cutscene. There's a narrator talking about something and then there's this guy who loses his mother, from whom he learns that he might be the rightful king of something and that's our motivation. As the player, we use a set of heroes, each with different skills, to settle towns, grow armies and beat the bad guy's army so we can avenge the deaths of our protagonist's mother and crown his gentle head. The trouble with the game is that it's trying too hard to mix a whimsical sort of start and silly characters with a serious plot, but it sort of fails. It might have worked for the Fable games (which I must agree have nothing to do with this game) and they kind of found a good balance in the sequels, but this one just falls flat. However, the presentation, the visuals and sound are still nice, thanks to the guy who had the bright idea to make everything look so cartoony. So yeah, points for that.
How does it play? At its core, the game is a classic real time strategy, and I really see a huge resemblance to Age of Empires 3 in particular. You have your usual buildings management, you create small armies formed of various troops like swordsmen, spearmen, archers and such, and it's all color-coded for your convenience. From that perspective, the game is great. It plays out exactly like you'd think it would, although today it might seem old and overused, back then this was still fresh and enjoyable, so I can't judge the game based on that. However, the gameplay is slow and the campaign isn't really that intriguing. You won't get any StarCraft here, but if you want a good ol' fashioned RTS, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
A grand tribute to heavy metalsonicchaos | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of Brutal Legend
What is it about? Heavy metal. That's what it's about. The whole game revolves around rock music and everything related. We control Eddie Riggs (obviously Jack Black), a roadie who has a stage accident and is transported in a heavy metal fantasy world where he meets Ophelia and her friends Lars and Lita, who rebel against tyrant General Lionwhyte. Eddie gladly helps them by building an army and rages war against Lionwhyte, not knowing that behind the scene hides an even dangerous presence.
How does it look? The game's world is composed of heavy metal elements everywhere, from rock guitars sticking out of the ground to metal trees and motorcycle boars. The contents of the inspirations are so many, it would take me days to enumerate. It's like Jack Black in particular took the time and, with his known passion, created a list of everything that must be created in order to make the perfect heavy metal world. And Tim Schafer just gave the okay, as he's also a big heavy metal fan. I don't know if I'm correct, but it sure sounds about right. It's not supposed to be that photorealistic world we see in many triple A games, but it is a visual artistic marvel, with cartoony characters and caricature monsters and enemies, great animation that syncs with the graphics and a detailed, fairly big world.
How does it sound? Are you kidding? It's heavy metal Heaven? What do you think it sounds like? Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Dimmu Borgir, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Megadeth, Manowar, Rob frikin Zombie and so much many more, totalling 107 tracks from 75 different bands, plus over 70 minutes of originals score by Peter McConnell. And with a cast like Jack Black, Tim Curry, Rob Halford, Jennifer Hale, Lemmy Kilmister, Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne himself playing as the Guardian of Metal you can only expect pure awesomeness.
What does it play like? The game plays like a hack-n-slash action-adventure game from a third person perspective. We drive around in The Deuce, half enemies with the double-bladed axe aptly named "The Separator" and melt people faces with his trusty guitar Clementine, with which the player has to perform a short minigame similar to the Rock Band gameplay. Everything is perfect and all, until we get to the strategy part of the game. Boy, what a piece of uninspired mess! You suddenly grow wings and have to command small troops while at the same time must intervene personally, otherwise you'll just lose. I personally hate this feature of the gameplay and hoped I could somehow skip it or just do all that from the ground, but once you get to the later boss fight (because that's what these basically are), there's just no way in avoiding failing over and over again until you find that exact specific strategy you have to perform. It's awfully stupid and I hope that, if they ever give a try for another instalment, and I hope they will, just hold the onion, please! Overall, it's a great game, dragged only by a small gameplay feature that doesn't even fit well with the rest of the game. Oh, and there's also multiplayer.
Lost, starring Lara Croft.sonicchaos | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of Tomb Raider
What is it about? Well, there are some tombs and there is a bit of raiding, kinda. So yeah, we can still call it Tomb Raider, although if this was a completely new IP we might not even know that it's related to the popular franchise. Which is a good thing. That only means that it's a game with a strong backbone on its own. On the other hand, they could of named the game after the main character, Lara Croft, and no one would question that decision. Lara has a memorable name and she's an iconic emblem of gaming everywhere. But Tomb Raider is kinda stretching it. It's more like Island Survivor without raptors. You know, much like the Max Payne games would have been called Noir-ish Shooter or Party Pooper. Ok, those are bad examples. Anyway, it's a game set in the Tomb Raider series and tells the origins of Lara Croft, a young archeologist (I think) who has a hard time figuring out if she's "that kind" of Croft. She is and we're the ones to prove it to her. Also, there are samurai people.
How does it look? Gorgeous. Purely astounding. I don't know if I've ever seen so much attention to detail in a game. The island is superb, the new Lara looks beautiful, and mostly everything looks amazing, there's no denying that. I just add anything that hasn't been said before about the graphics. One thing though, if you use clothing DLCs, some things that are supposed to happen to her appearance doesn't happen, for example a scene where she's supposed to be covered in blood. The supporting cast is a bit on the weaker side, if hardly supporting at all. Seriously, they hardly do anything. Even the enemies are completely forgettable. I think the main villain is a stranded guy who got mad and now wears a hood. In the end we're kinda showed how he's right about stuff, but I don't know.
How does it sound? Camilla Luddington does an amazing job as young Lara Croft and I think her beauty has also inspired the designers for her look in the game. She also provides motion capture and it shows, because the acting is really visible, proof that we don't have to worry for robotic character in the future of gaming. Music is also great and one of the best when the game came out, thanks to Jason Graves who was also responsible for Dead Space's eerie tunes and soundtrack.
How does it play? It's a third-person action adventure with cover-based shooting here and there. You can't play throughout the game without killing people or standing around questioning what you've just done, except if you count the camp fire moments and her journal entries that many missed to notice. She's faced with danger, people are coming to kill her and she has a gun. What would you do? How is she so familiar with guns? Apparently, "she's a Croft", whatever that means, but she clearly has training, especially with a bow. No seriously, people are whining about "well, if this is her origin story, why isn't she falling to her knees and starts crying every time she kills someone?" If that's the main problem of this game (and if you can't think outside of what's in front of you), then this game deserves the perfect score. Unfortunately, I wish there was more to the story. I enjoyed the climbing, the tomb puzzles and platforming sequences, even the shooting, but the plot felt a bit underwhelming given the situation. And the tacked on multiplayer just for the sake of having multiplayer isn't helping at all. But it is a beautiful title, a must for every action adventure fan and a classic on its own rights. I gladly recommend Tomb Raider and can barely wait for a sequel.
Gentlemen, welcome to Dubaisonicchaos | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of Spec Ops: The Line
What is it about? Spec Ops are the three main characters sent into the ruins of former Dubai, now ravaged by sandstorms, to find out what happened with the squad of american soldiers and Colonel John Konrad, voiced by Bruce Boxleitner. Our playable protagonist is Walker, the Captain of the three-man team, voiced by none other than Nolan North, and then there's Adams and Lugo, both great guys. The Line? I don't know. It's probably a subtle wink to the events that unravel during the story, when after a few unsettling choices, once at the end you may find the thin line between right and wrong, between madness and sanity. Or it may be just referring to the linear nature of the game.
How does it look? Very good actually. The visuals are amazing, the textures are truly high def, and there's quite the level of details. I also enjoyed the palette of colours mainly used in the lighting. In a game filled with sand you'd be right to assume the blandness of brown and yellow. But no, this game is very colorful, and probably the best blue vanilla sky I have ever seen, before Bioshock Infinite that is. I also love how the characters change not only mentally, but also physically, burns and wounds that affect them, and in the end we see the scars. Literally.
How does it sound? Not only does this game have a good voice cast, but there are some songs throughout some levels that are played on speakers by a radio guy that we have to find at some point. Shoot the speakers, get the achievement. Also, the soundtrack does a great job highlighting the gunfights and the danger some enemies pose.
How does it play? It plays like a cover-based shooter from a third person perspective. There's also a reticule in the center of the screen. You point that at the guy who threatens your character and press the shoot button until it moves no more. I hate to be that guy, but that's the most I can do. Yeah, you have some choices to make, but those don't really matter as only your character will live with the consequences, and as I said, you only have two choices at a time and both are equally awful. Except for the ending. There's a set of choices that will affect how your story ends. You can also give commands to your squad mates, much like in Mass Effect, except all in real time, but you'll hardly use them, unless you hunt for achievements. There's also a multiplayer. Never tried it, so I don't know how that is except from what I've head, and I haven't heard good thing about it. All in all, the story campaign is a must play. It's a great shooter and the ending alone makes up for all its generic features.
Why don't you have a Pork Bun in your hand?sonicchaos | Jan. 27, 2014 | Review of Sleeping Dogs Digital Edition
I simply love open-world games and I had tremendous fun with a lot of games that others didn't seem to enjoy. For example, I always like to admit that I genuinely enjoyed The Godfather 2. Don't get me wrong, that alters not my perception of the quality of a game. Godfather 2 was pure awfulness, but still I enjoyed it for what it was. Sleeping Dogs is however amazing to its core. Sure we lacked planes and helicopters, sure we needed more varied and longer missions, but for a brand new IP it completely delivers. I know it was originally a True Crime game, but now it's not. Let's get over it. True Crime was a bust, still not a complete bust, given the impressive voice cast. Even so it had no chance. Setting this game in the same universe would of only hurt it, and Sleeping Dogs really doesn't deserve that. So here you go, there are open-world games that I do hate, including Urban Chaos. Wow, was that a mess or what!?
In Sleeping Dogs we play as Wei Shen, a cop specialized in undercover assignments who's transfered from LA to infiltrate a Triad gang. He meets and old friend and things slowly become personal parallel to the war between rival gangs. Wei Shen is a great character, has a ton of personality, the voice actor is fantastic and the supporting cast of characters and voice actors are doing a splendid job in creating a believable, yet over the top violent world full of intrigue, betrayal and honor. And another downside comes from the fact that you get the feeling throughout the story that you (the player) might be confronted with the choice between your sworn duty as a policeman or dedicate yourself to a life as a Triad mobster. Well, there's no spoiler when I say that there's no choice whatsoever, but that's just how the story is. You might call it linear, but it's still a good story, and fairly long I must add.
Make no mistake, this is no role-playing game, but I wouldn't call it shooter either. Yes it's in a third person perspective and yes you shoot enemies occasionally, but you'll be amazed to find out how little time you do spend time shooting and instead kicking all kinds of a... Wei Shen is simply a martial arts expert. Many see a huge resemblance between the combat in Sleeping Dogs and the Batman Arkham series, with the added effect of kung-fu, but that can only be a good thing. Visceral, quick and flowing. I would also compare the gunfights, the jumping over tables in slow motion, disarming and knocking out enemies with the amazing work of John Woo, Stranglehold. Too bad the rest of it was soo derivative and poor, I'm still in shock that Stranglehold failed so hard. Anyway, car physics are obviously arcardey, but the best kind. I mean, you get slick, fast cars with amazing grip and a sense of speed only seen in games like Need for Speed. Shooting out of the window and bailing out from cars in slo-mo while shooting the car, watching it explode in a huge ball of fire that engulf your foes never gets old. There's even an achievement for that. Reminds me of another decent-ish open-world game, Wheelman, featuring none other than Vin Diesel. What else? Boats? Check! Customizable clothing and safe houses? Check! Romance? Ehh...Check! Karaoke? Oh boy, do check! Racing? Auto and moto, clearly have to check! Get rough with your police brethrens? Check! Pork Buns? Definitely check!
I've praised the voice acting enough. The music is perfect. The score is terrific and the radios are immersive and superb as they can get. You find yourself driving around this gorgeous Hong Kong island city just listening to music and testing out the horses under the hood. The graphics are simply astounding, even on consoles it has been praised for the clean and beautiful textures, especially the vehicles, but the game shines on PC with the HD textures installed.
And once the main campaign is done, you'll have a hard time parting ways with it. Fortunately you can continue the free roaming, finding all collectibles, hunting achievements or try the amazing story DLCs. To me, United Fronts show how to make a good value DLC that you won't be sorry for buying, but there are "sad" DLCs too, that I really discourage. Nighmare in North Point, Year of the Snake and Zodiac Island offer a good expansion to the main game, but stuff like car packs, clothing, money and experience boosters are simply shamefull. Anyway, I hope United Fronts learned from their mistakes, however small and bring us a worthy sequel. Seriously, we want more Wei Shen.
Dude, where's my Just Cause 3?sonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Just Cause 2
This game is fun. It's weird that it keeps reminding me of Mercenaries 2, which was also a fun game until it got awfully repetitive, but this game is so huge and so fun that you just can't get enough of. Sadly, there isn't much to the story, and that sucks because the devs could have easily pulled a Saints Row and go all crazy with it. But they just tried and it all falls flat. There are some nifty jests here and there, but they don't follow up on the idea. For example, there a joke where the villain introduces his ninjas, Rico says he hates ninjas and you beat up ninjas and never see ninjas ever again. That would have been a great introduction to a challenging new enemy in the game, but unfortunately that happens very late in the game and I don't think the sandbox nature of the game would allow it. But that's okay, there's a lot to be had with this game outside the main story. But to conclude the story section of the review, it's awfully short. I finished the game on normal difficulty and to get the highest difficulty achievement, I went at it again, doing practically a speed run. It took me about a couple of hours or so, at the highest difficulty. But the story is only a small part of what makes this game great. There aren't notable boss fight except for the ending, there isn't much variety in the main missions, but the main course of this game is " his wire thingy" as the locals call it, or the grappling hook, and of course the destruction and mayhem. Stealing helicopters, doing insane stunts, shooting stuff, causing chaos, provoking the authorities to come after you in a better chopper to steal and doing it all over again, never gets old. What upset me the most is that I actually went after all those collectibles the factions were looking for and I got literally nothing in return, not even an achievement. That really blows, so don't make the same mistake. See a drug drop or a money suitcase, just ignore them. Visually amazing, won awards for best graphics and shows it. The voice acting and character animations in the cutscenes fall into the "so bad is good" category. Also, I don't really know what is up with the cutscene quality in this game, but it's technically awful. Rico is iconic as ever. His one-liners are funny as hell, although they become really repetitive after a while. Start blowing stuff off from a chopper and he'll start singing "Flight of the bumblebees." The world is amazing, the map is so huge I promise you'll never discover all the locations. Now then ever is the chance to buy the game if you haven't done so yet and after finishing the game, try immersing yourself in the community-made multiplayer mod. It's probably one of the most fun multiplayers ever, with amazing players and all set in the same world as the single player with thousands of players at once and still working seamlessly. In a nutshell, Just Cause 2 is a great experience.
Alternate routes sometimes are bettersonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Hitman: Absolution
I'll get the big stone off of my chest by saying that the one and only bad thing this game had in comparison to Hitman Blood Money is just the limited environment of a few level. That's it. Many of the people who complain about the game either haven't played the previous games or just like to dismiss games just for the sake of it. I honestly haven't seen one bad detailed argument regarding this game. The levels being wide corridors? I don't remember the previous games having open world. Yes, some levels are a bit confined, but that only adds to the variety. The hotel level alone makes up a complex design. And because people lack the patience and attention to look for alternate ways, that doesn't mean they're not there. Some say it's linear, but it's not much more linear than the previous games. You have a mission, you have a huge amount of stuff at your disposal to accomplish that mission and then the story goes on, just like in the previous games. You don't change the plot. One other issue people like to complain about is that you don't take the weapons from previous missions with you. What's the point of that? You unlock the weapons for the Contracts mode and that's enough. One awesome challenge is to find hidden weapons inside the levels, which can be tricky. Of course, you can shoot yourself a path through the missions, but that;s hardly the main course of the game. Trying to hunt all achievements is how you discover its immense potential. And I honestly loved the story and I enjoyed the quirky characters. Agent 47 is presented amazingly and this game made me want to see more of his adventures. If the devs can outdo this game with the next instalment and open up the levels in complexity and challenges, if only a bit, it would be awesome. But I really wish they don't dumb it down because people really don't know what they want. And they don't. One says you should only buy this game if you're a fan of the Hitman franchise, which conflicts with his statements that this game sucks by comparison, and another guy says it's a great introductions to the series. I completely agree with both. Everyone should enjoy this game.
Best GTA ever, unfortunatelysonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Why is it so unfortunate that San Andreas is the best GTA game ever made? Because the support for this game sucks and makes me seriously question Rockstar's good intentions. Evidently, they make quality titles. Even their worst game is still good, not just average or decent, but good or beyond good. I love Rockstar for the mature content they aren't afraid to provide, even if that means a harsh rating or even controversy. San Andreas is a mature game for immature adults. That's why we love the series so much. I was impressed by the 80s feeling of Vice City and I was impressed by the 90s vibe of San Andeas. The game nails a torn city between gang wars and the aggressive police that rule over it. CJ starts out as a generic protagonist and slowly becomes loveable, he becomes part of our crazy shenanigans. One might argue that he's a criminal and we shouldn't root for him, but I'm not rooting for his actions, that are in fact my actions, or his decisions in the cutscenes, I just like playing with him in this crazy amazing world. Let's face it, who cares for the missions? We just like playing outside to box. The story is just a means to drive our curiosity, nothing more. In this game, we are what we play. I wish I wouldn't compare it to other instalments, but setting it next to GTA IV and V, it might seems small in scale, but it's somehow the most diverse of them all. It's probably just as weird as it sounds, but it's true. Unfortunately, I have to talk about the unfortunate part. The graphics were amazing for its time, but it hasn't aged well. Nevertheless, it's still has good visuals overall and knows how to make the player exactly like in a 90s gansta movie. But the lack of support for widescreen resolution is rather upsetting. Keeping in mind that the Steam version is a complete hassle to mod, if even to get a mod working without the game crashing, looks to me like Rockstar simple wants to give up on its older games. They're too much of a bother? Apparently not, seeing how they released an Android version of San Andreas, Max Payne and Vice City that even runs ad looks better than on PC. So whatever brings more cash gets the most attention. Still, that doesn't mean the game is bad. I would replay this game whenever I just feel like. Because it's that good and immersive. Do I even have to mention the voice cast?
The little templar that couldsonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of The First Templar
The first templar ever? This must be the guy who inspired Abstergo. No but he's not really the first templar, as we are introduced to the french Templar Order and not in its earliest of days. And also forget all the history lessons ever, as this game seems almost set in an alternate universe. I won't get into the details of how the crusades are amongst the worst things to happen to any religion ever. I have to note that our main characters might be the first templars (plural) to rebel against the Order. Well, at least that's what I got from the story. I will admit that i couldn't follow the plot, in my shame, but not because it's so convoluted (it probably is, but I don't know). The voice acting is sub par, with a few notable exceptions, like the girl whom's name I forgot. In fact, I don't remember any of their names either. The sound is simply too awkward to pay attention to the things that are happening on screen, as such many will just skip the cutscene and will end up fighting apparently random bosses. The graphics are poor, although there is a bit of variety, textures on characters and environments are just weak. The combat is okay, upgradable and seamless, but nothing noteworthy. The puzzles are clever, although they get too repetitive and boring in the later levels. What got me intrigued are the stealth missions, but probably because I just simply love everything stealth. The game however shines when you're playing co-op, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has local co-op, meaning two people can play on the same screen and even interchange their characters with a simple button combination. That's a game seller right there. Overall, a good waste of time, not a bad one.
Sheer metal mayhem with tin canssonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Binary Domain
There's a ton to be said about this game and at the same time there's not much beyond its surface. The story features a cast of mostly cookie cutter characters within a plot that's been done before, although not exactly like this. I don't know if I can explain what I just wrote, but I'll try to expand.
The plot start with an android that look perfectly human. Well, in the future, after some big companies made robots, a convention of suits declared that a robot who looks and behaves like humans is a huge no-no. And through all that, someone decided to call them... hollow children? Seriously, don't ask. The thing is, these things somehow differ very much from their everyday mech brethren's by genuinely believing they are humans. I don't know how that can work out, but apparently it does. Time is not wasted as we quickly find out who the culprit company is that made these... abominations, and we're off to Japan with out main protagonist Dan Marshall and his stereotypical friend Ray Boateng. We find out we're part of a division names Rust Crew, comprised of a diverse multicultural team of special ops, as we meet the beautiful and the most likeable character Faye Lee, who is Chinese, a charismatic robot named Cain and is apparently french for some reason, and two british blokes, one of which is a female, but I think se was supposed to be a russian dude, then the devs couldn't find a voice actor and just said "hell with it, she's a british female." I don't know, it's just a hunch. Anyway, the characters aren't completely unlikable, nor very likeable. I couldn't seem to care much about any of them, with the exception of Faye, which plays a huge role late in the story, for some weird reason. So our Rust Crew is set to find the culprit and arrest him, that being the founder of the company mentioned earlier. The gameplay is basically: see robot, shoot robot. That's kind of it. The robots are interesting, but not that much diverse. They are cool though. If you've seen the movie "I, Robot" it's most likely that you'll be reminded of that. The robots are eerily natural in movement and destruction. I mean, we haven't really seen how these things move outside of fiction, but if you pay attention to this game you kinda assume that it's pretty natural. And the way the metal blasts off of them when shot, it's completely amazing. As such, I can only say great things about the visuals and combat. Graphics are simply outstanding and shooting tin cans never felt so satisfying. However, pump up the difficulty and challenge becomes frustration. Playing tag with huge robots and naming it boss fights? Yeah, that's not fun at all. And those on rails shooting mission from the back of the car? That isn't fun either. There is variety though in level design though, I'll give 'em that. So, the story gets very interesting at the very last part of the game, but the best part comes after the credits. Seriously, the best scene in this game is after the end credits.
New Game Plussonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Batman Arkham City: Game of the Year
Batman Arkham City retains pretty much everything that made its predecessor a great title, adds many other stuff in there and mixes all up in a open world environment. Yeah, Asylum was kinda open-world-ish, but it was only an asylum, still big, but not as big as a whole city. Some might say it's too similar to Asylum, but not as sombre and gloomy. Well, like in real life, some things kinda stay the same and some stuff change. I take it as it is, and for what it is, Arkham City is a great game on its own.
Visually, I can't say anything that hasn't been said before... about the first game. But it's the same Unreal Engine 3 and this little engine does impressive jobs. The level of detail are astounding. You don't feel like something is derivative, well except for some enemies, but even those were diversified a bit more since the first game. So yeah, graphics are amazing, and even if any other engine could have done a better job, it's probably best as it it for achieving the best atmosphere.
The story is set after the events of Asylum. All criminals are set loose in Arkham City and trapped in there by huge walls, left in there to take care of themselves, away from civilized society. Honestly, I find it a bit of a stretch and a huge expense for all the trouble, but it sets a great premise. Everything is apparently coordinated by Hugo Strange, a very smart and interesting villain from Batman's universe. However, Hugo doesn't stop here, but captures Bruce Wayne and throws him in with the criminals, obviously knowing his secret identity. And so Batman must clear his way past Joker's and all other familiar villain henchmen to find out what's hugo grand scheme and how he fits in it. But things escalate even more in the city when Joker makes his presence, very ill, following the events of Asylum, poisoning Batman and thus pushing him to find a cure. The story is amazing, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively, which that alone makes this game a delight. The plot is much more complex and Batman plays an even bigger role than we'd initially think.
Gameplay is basically the same as in Asylum, with apparently more moves and more gadgets than the previous game had. And given that there are a few instances where we can play as Catwoman with a completely different play style and completely different agenda, which makes the game even more complex and intriguing. Boss fights have been nerfed a lot, notably the all favorite Mr. Freeze boss fight. Sadly, near the end, after you acquire some of the best gadgets and abilities, the story rushes and there's nothing to be done but wrap it up. Fortunately, there's a New Game+ mode where you can start a new campaign, but keep all your upgrades and gadgets, find all the collectibles and see how that work out. Also, the game of the year edition adds a good amount of content like Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman characters to use in the challenge maps and the appraised mini campaign featuring Harley Quinn.
In the end, all I can say is that this game is a must in any collection, especially if you've played and enjoyed the first game, or Assassin's Creed or GTA. Gliding above a city, under the bright pale moon has never felt so amazing.
Batman got nailedsonicchaos | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year
I remember the days when every Batman game had a range between pure awful and decent enough. But than came these guys at Rocksteady and took upon themselves to prove that a good Batman game is not that of a miracle. All you need is a dark atmosphere, a great voice cast, amazing graphics and seamless gameplay. And boy did they make it right!
The challenge with Batman as with most superhero characters is his complex traits and abilities, the story behind him and the world that needs protected. That's why many developers fail to showcase all of those elements, mainly because it really takes a lot of work and time and resources and mostly passion. That's the secret: passion. And this game is showing a lot of love from the devs that worked on it.
Let's start with the graphics. Arkham Asylum is fuelled by Unreal Engine 3, just like its sequels Arkham City and Origins, which amazes me how much power and vitality this engine still has. In 20 years from now, gamers will still play it as a "retro throwback" and still be amazed of how great it holds. I don't know if it's the best looking series that make use of UE3, along with Gears of War of course, but there's no doubt that it showcases its wonderful potential. Beautiful textures, detailed characters, a lot of detail in every level and even Gotham in the background just fills everything up with a great sense of immersion.
The story starts with Batman bringing Joker to Arkham Asylum and things go awry from there. We don't know how they clashed, we don't get to see what happened before they get here, but that doesn't matter. It's probably a good plot for a future game set between the events of Origin and Asylum maybe? We can only hope. Anyway, we quickly discover how everything was planned by Joker in the most minute detail. So we set ourselves to catch Joker and his merry band of bad guys, while discovering some other distractions and meeting familiar characters, which all thicken the plot with intelligent pace.
The voice acting is formidable. I'll only mention Kevin Conroy with his great and incomparable performance as Batman/ Bruce Wayne (oops, spoiler!) and master Mark Hamill with his amazing, original and unforgettable performance as the Joker, which is in my opinion the best Joker ever. Most will disagree, but I will say that it's not all Mark Hamill contribution, but the design team that created the character as well. The music and soundtrack are amazing. Although nothing noteworthy or as memorable as Danny Elfman's iconic tune that was born in Burton's Batman from 1989, the music here is much darker and tries to accentuate the mood of the game, and with great success I'd might add.
The combat is flawlessly executed, though the boss fight are kinda hit and miss, but it's the type of combat that's always brought into discussion when it comes to how other games are doing it. You'd think the devs would resume to that, the batarangs and the batclaw, but no. They thought about so much more it would take me entire pages to describe. As such, I can only say that this game deserves a place in your library, notably now that there's no more GFWL to be a nuisance. Also, because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. I had to do that. Sorry...
Overall a great experiencesonicchaos | Jan. 25, 2014 | Review of Mafia II
While Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven had a natural protagonist, a good man with his own flaws and fears that becomes engulfed in a life of crime without knowing how far it can go, I never could care about him. Of course criminals aren't people we should root for, but in a game at least we should care about what we're doing to this poor fellow. But Mafia 2 fixed that by introducing us to Vito Scaletta. There's a lot to say about this guy that we couldn't say about former protagonist Thomas Angelo (who had a memorable name, but no family, and was a cab driver). Vito has a backstory, from his child life when he came to US from Sicily with his family to find a good life and instead found more hopes and poverty, to the days of his juvenile delinquency days and war, ironically back in his native home town. He comes back on leave (after getting shot) to visit his mother and sister, but his old pal Joe Barbaro (now in cahoots with the mafia) convinces him to leave war behind and dedicate his time in helping his family. There's more to that, as his father tragically and suspiciously dies drowning and apparently under influence, and many other characters we meet down the road.
Gameplay is very familiar, a good action-adventure game set in an open-world city much like the first game was, in fact set in the kinda same city, only now named Empire Bay instead of Lost Heaven. There's a lot of space to explore, but sadly there's nothing much to do if you want to roam around between missions, except for collecting magazines and hunting achievements. But the city still is amazing, and even if this is one huge level, there's variety to it, as the story branches between the winter of 1945 and the colorful 1951. Much like how Driver Parallel Lines handles it and many players tend to compare the to games a lot. The missions are varied, even a couple of interesting stealth missions and brawling. There are even a few throwbacks to the first game. Surprisingly enough, players will find out at some point that they're playing the role of one minor character in the first game.
Obviously, there are downsides to this game. Fans complained about the lack of the Freeride mode, but honestly I didn't see a point to it as driving around the city is enough of a freeride as it is. Despite the characters being memorable and interesting and the story superb, the game is a just a bit too generic and forgettable, except maybe for the last mission and the ending which alone make up for every drag. The soundtrack is comfortable and nice, but nothing as glorious as the music was in the first Mafia.
As I need to wrap up with many details left out, I have to praise the beautiful visuals, the voice acting, the character acting, the rich Jimmy's Vendetta and Joe's Adventures DLCs (and I rarely endorse DLCs) and i have to wholeheartedly encourage you to give this game a chance.
A must have for stealth enthusiastssonicchaos | Jan. 25, 2014 | Review of Hitman: Contracts
I am glad to finally see Hitman Contracts finally released for digital purchase. I've been waiting a lot to see this happen. It may not be my favorite Himan game, but it definitely is the most interesting, at least plot-wise. The story follows Agent 47 as always and starts off with a strange cutscene that beautifully unveils as we play through our main protagonist's flashbacks featuring the events of the first game. In many ways, this means Hitman Contracts can be considered a reboot of the first game, although I disagree. Yes, we have the same locations, some of the enemies we've already encountered, all nicely improved with the new engine, but Contracts stands on its own with the original plot that engulfs all those events. It's gritty and even presents a much darker side of Agent 47, but at the same time the tragic faith he cannot escape. Visually, it's much prettier then the earlier instalments, but not noticeably beautiful, and certainly not the most graphically advanced when it came out in 2004. But it still has nicely detailed textures and elements and it's gorgeous enough to give it another chance at any time in the future, without having headaches watching edgy graphics. Technically, Contracts retains most of Silent Assassin's gameplay features, but clearly improved. The AI is better, although not by today's standards. The stealth mechanics are very intuitive, even with the inconsistent AI. Shooting, aiming, peeking around corners, garrotting enemies with the fiber wire, dragging them and taking their clothes, it's all there and it really absorbs the player in. The missions take place in huge and varied sandbox levels in which you can get lost, make use of clever environmental assassinations or do it your own way, find weapons to use in future missions or try them out in the training (tutorial) mode. Gameplay wise, this is truly a good example of how not to hold players' hands. The soundtrack is fantastic. It features award-winning music by Jesper Kid and highlights the mood of the story and gameplay in meaningful and immersive ways. Hitman Contracts has replayability, has a strong atmosphere and is one of the best stealth games of its time. A must have for any stealth enthusiast.