Reviews by vjk

82

A Decent Game

vjk | Dec. 15, 2012 | Review of Sniper: Ghost Warrior PRE

I bought this for $2.

I think I got my $2 worth.

The title is mislabeled. I had thought the series to be a pretty stupid gimmick shooter, since it has the word "sniper" in the title.

Yes, you do snipe. But you also sneak. There's a decent amount of stealth-action here and that keeps the game fun.

The guns are really well done. What I like is that the sniper rifle simulates "bullet drop", though the handgun not so much. Unfortunately, there's no real guide to how the bullet drop formula works. You never really get a chance to learn it. Instead, the real trajectory of the bullet (on medium) is displayed, which will always be slightly off from the crosshairs. On hard this goes away. But there's no wind meter so you can't really know.

Also, sniper rifles and silenced pistols are my favorite FPS loadouts.

The graphics are surprisingly good. Better than the screenshots suggest. Much better. The game is about the same level of detail as Crysis 1.

I do have a few complaints though.

First of all, levels are fairly small and linear.

Secondly, its sometimes hard to see enemies. This is especially bad while sneaking around, because you won't even notice a guy and then he'll see you and start shooting. In other stealth action games, they make it easier to see the enemy and his FOV.

Otherwise, it's a very enjoyable little shooter, one that I recommend, especially at this price.

80

Good mechanics, extremely repetitive

vjk | Dec. 10, 2012 | Review of F.E.A.R -

FEAR is at its core about first person shooting in tight spaces using "bullet time"

It does this extremely well.

The issue I had with the game is that it is extremely repetitive. Pretty much the same environments the entire game. Also pretty easy to get lost.

Towards the end I just turned on cheats and blasted forward. I recommend you do the same.

90

Excellent

vjk | Dec. 9, 2012 | Review of Tomb Raider: Anniversary DNS

This is my first tomb raider game. I have played the prince of persia and uncharted series quite a bit.

So far (I haven't finished it) I'm quite impressed with this one. What impresses me the most is the movement. It is very precise, more precise than either prince of persia or uncharted. The least precise movement goes to the rebooted Prince of Persia, then Uncharted, then the "classic" prince of persia" then this game.

The grappling hook helps since the momentum and angle are real, so it doesn't feel like you're hitting check points, if feels like you're really swinging.

Story is skippable and age of the environment show. It doesn't have the mystical greatness of prince of persia or the sheer awesomeness of uncharted.

93

Fantastic

vjk | Dec. 6, 2012 | Review of Grand Ages: Rome DNS

I've been looking for a city-building sim for a while. I played the original sim city as well as the caesar games, but lately nothign really clicked. I have tried Tropico 4, but it just didn't seem to click for me.

This game clicks.

The reason is the circles. Each building has a "radius". So you have to be smart about where you place them in order to get the maximum "synergy"

As a result, I end up really thinking about where I'm placing buildings. I actually think, "I'd like a good oceanside view" for these guys.

That's a big improvement. Because in Sim city, I'd basically try to make the most population in the least amount of space. Ambience didn't matter.

Here it does. Great city-building game. Best I've played.

97

The Best Narrative Game This Generation

vjk | Nov. 24, 2012 | Review of Mafia II dns

Mafia II was a complete surprise to me.

I had basically expected a poor man's GTA IV. Instead, I think it as the best game this generation.

To start off, the graphics are very good. Better than GTA. Not quite as cluttered, but more detailed. PhysX acceleration is also nicely used for flying debris and flowing skirts.

Facial animations are very good also. Basically, it's all top-notch with good attention to detail.

Game mechanics are quite good. Fighting is good considering the limitations of using a control pad. Gun play is very good. The guns have a good punch to them and the animations are good when shot.

Better than anything I've seen from Call of Duty or Battlefield 3 actually.

AI is phenomenal. the AI will duck if you shoot at them. They will check open doors during stealth sequences. It is very smart.

And the narrative. The narrative had some genuinely clever moments. I'm typically bored by most game narratives, but this one worked very well. I found myself surprised time and time again.

And the characters. They're lovable. You see the character trying to help his family out for altruistic reasons. You see friendship with a major NPC.

What I like the most about the game is that there's a sense of restraint. Most games basically have you hit the fire button to the max or the accelerator to the max. This game, you have to moderate how fast you go or else the police pull you over. And if you go too fast, you will inevitably wreck your car.

And then pay for repairs.

So I try to keep my car in good condition by driving safely.

All of this adds to immersion.

One final thing. Lots of people complain about how compared to GTA 4 there's not much to do in the world. That's not really true. You can still rob stores scattered around the city.

The only difference really is that GTA will present you with like 3 mission spots at a time and you can blow off some. Here, you only have one mission objective at a time and you have to go through with it.

That's not really a big deal, really, since the side missions in GTA 4 just end up being petty busywork with a fair amount of tedium.

Meanwhile, driving to mission locations in Mafia II also takes time, but it immerses you in the world, and you can listen to the really cool retro radio while driving. GTA in contrast, well, the radio isn't as interesting. It's the same thing as the radio in GTA 3, only not near as funny.

And compared to your typical narrative game, since you travel to the mission spot, that adds immersion.

Really, it's a perfect game, and I hear that the DLC Jimmy's Revenge allows for more arcadey (read: GTA) style chaos.

The only real downside in my book is the GPS Map.

Yes, I'm serious. The GPS map basically results in you watching it for turn-by-turn directions instead of watching the game world and getting to know the streets for yourself. TOo many games have GPS maps which distract from the game world.