Release Date: February 9
Platform: Xbox 360
BioShock holds a special place in my heart, purely because the story was so engrossing, that the WYK Effect had me thinking. It really had my mind in a tizzy. With the ending (I rescued all sisters), it didn't give the player any insight of a potential sequel. I figured, the Little Sisters you saved became his "daughters" and stayed with him until his death later in life.
Nope. Thanks to 2K and their intention to "milk it for all it's worth," we get a sequel to game that didn't need one. The first one was great in it's own, and the story didn't need to be fleshed out; if you collected the vast majority of the audio logs, you would get a sense of the back story. Nonetheless, we get more plasmids, better hacking, badder Big Daddies, kick-ass Big Sisters, and you yourself are the OG Big Daddy. As Yahtzee put it, why the hell is the prototype Big Daddy (you) the most powerful, most badass of them all, and all the others are hunkering piles of shit?
Regardless, BioShock 2 was a good game to play, and dare I say, the sequel creates more opportunities for them to continue with the story. Only because the sequel adds more bullshit to the story that we didn't need.
The Upgrades Not the weapon upgrades, but the upgrades to the game's gusto. The streamlined hacking process, plasmid organization, everything. Much better, and I feel that if this is how the original was, the boycotters wouldn't be bashing in Gabe Newell's front door.
Didn't Need It We truly didn't need a sequel, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the game. The story on the other hand...
Release Date: February 9
Platform: Xbox 360
We've all heard the references made between this and God of War. Visceral did a bang up job, but this hack-n-slash clone does distance itself from the mainstays of genre - mainly the aforementioned, and the father of the genre, Devil May Cry - but not intentionally. There are some hiccups, and many unpolished elements, however, Dante's Inferno, despite being a horrible rendition of Alighieri's original epic poem, was executed to a respectable level of game design. Look at this interpretation of the first chapter of the Divine Comedy as if Hollywood got a hold of it; it's over-the-top action in said interpretation that doesn't need to exist. It's a blatant whoring of the genre, purely because it's young with little entries, with little room to screw up.
God of War With a Twist The way Visceral distances it's game from God of War is the Holy/Unholy leveling tree, with the use of Beatrice's Cross and Death's Scythe. It's an odd flair, and earning either Holy/Unholy souls to use as your "currency" can only come from killing enemies in a particular method.
The Fact They Will Probably Make A Sequel Of all things in the game that bugged me, the one that will continue to bug me is that, considering Inferno was the first part of the DC, with Purgatorio and Paradiso following after, they can squeeze whatever they can out of the story arc. Catch my theory on the potential sequels over at X360A.org.
Resident Evil 5 DLC: Lost in Nightmares / Desperate Escape
Release Date: February 17 / March 3
Platform: Xbox 360 / Marketplace
Another DLC review, and after the first few, don't get your hopes up that "third times the charm." The pair of DLC that comes with the Gold Edition, which can be bought on the Marketplace separately, or together. This package comes with the two chapters, as well as two costume packs. I'm reviewing the chapters, purely because the costume packs are pretty much for shit, except Sheva in the school teacher outfit.
The chapters fill in two plot holes - the mansion incident with Jill's supposed death, and how the Eff Jill and Josh got to the choppa' and helped out Chris and Sheva in the volcano - which weren't really plot holes that were that "in need" of explanation. I didn't mind going back to a mansion, which the foyer was a carbon copy of the Spencer Estate in Arklay Mountains outside of Raccoon City (there are canonical reasons for this), and the history behind the possible inclusion of the Lost in Nightmares is intriguing, no less.
The Mansion Oh dear sweet, merciful baby jesus, the mansion. So many good memories of the first game, and there are many references only fans since the beginning would pick up on. Kudos, Capcom.
Everything Else Asides from the above, the pair of chapters did nothing to alleviate questions. Hell, there were no questions that needed answers, but Capcom found a way. Yes, you could ponder how Jill and Josh got the helicopter, but did you really need to know how Chris and Jill made it through the Spencer Estate? I sure as shit didn't.
Final Fantasy XIII
Release Date: March 9
Platform: Xbox 360
Here we go again. Another Final Fantasy. Many would dread another entry in the series, but I see it as a reminder for Square that without Final Fantasy, they wouldn't be standing here today. Hell, if it weren't for Nintendo, they wouldn't be standing here today. Final Fantasy XIII has gotten a lot of slack - too easy of a combat system, linear gameplay, unorthodox gameplay mechanics in a Final Fantasy title, too goddamned long of a tutorial - and I can attest, there are some very questionable design decisions that I don't agree with. After logging in over 32 hours of gameplay and getting to Gran Pulse (I did do a few Cieth Stone missions, up to, I believe, the seventh or the eighth), I believe I can grasp a well-minded criticism of the game and give you what I think of the game.
Simpler Yes, I called out the easier combat system as a point of concern, but just focusing your attention to one person at a time (even though you can't change your party leader until everyone in the story is together again, which is some 18 hours into the game) does help. The Paradigm Shifts do allow you to give general commands to your party (what kind of attacks/magics (black or white) to dish out), which allows you to get into the brain of each character separately.
Vanille I know I said in the first set of reviews I would only do one each of the LOVE/HATE part, but I'm sorry, Vanille is this close to replacing Rikku as my favorite Final Fantasy vixen. This close! But, Vanille is - SPOILER - 519 years old, chronologically (19 not counting the quasi-cryo sleep). Too far out there. Then again, I'm a sucker for red heads. And Asians.
Too. Fucking. Long. Yes, I know, that's what I get for putting myself into another Final Fantasy world, but by 32+ hours of gameplay, I would expect to be near the end of the game. But with most gamers saying they didn't complete the game until the 50th hour, I think I'll cut my losses and move on (possibly coming back later; hell, I made it about 15 hours into FFXII before stopping). I'm pretty damned sure that the last Final Fantasy I completed - FFX - didn't take that fucking long.
All Other Characters Since I didn't a double for LOVED, I'll throw a double towards HATED. Asides from Vanille, I hated every other character you play as and encounter. Especially Hope. Especially Hope.