Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[REVIEW] Last batch of mini reviews!

What went from a daunting task became something I could easily achieve, thanks to the new job where most of the mini reviews were written. I do enjoy the format, but I believe there's definite room for improvement, something I'll be looking into. In the meantime, enjoy!

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day
Release Date: April 27, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: A fantastic recreation of the Walking Dead universe, all in on-rails, decision making. While some were quick to give the game shit, I'm on it's defense, saying simply this: the show is far less like Left 4 Dead and much more Heavy Rain. You are not running around, shooting zombies. In the series, it is heavily emphasized on stealth, no loud noises (read: guns), and establishing that foundation with other survivors you meet. This is recreated in the game greatly, and our decision now will alter the story, Mass Effect style.

What's (Not So) Great: Some choices you are presented with in conversations don't necessarily match my thought process. It's been a while since I've played episode 1, but I remember the conversation with Herschel in the barn just before the attack had a question that I was dumbfounded with the choices. I'm sorry I can't make a direct reference, but some choices just don't match with what's going on in the game.

Bottom Line: I'll be very honest: I didn't get into The Walking Dead until I watched the season 2 finale at my parents house when it aired (no, I have not read the comics; I don't want to spoil the show, despite the differences in canon). It took a few months, but I ended up watching both seasons in about a week's time, and I was hooked. This game does so much service to the franchise, it's retarded. The decision making you're forced with is exactly what you see happen in the show or comics: do we do this? Are we going to help this person? Do we seek shelter here or later? Those dynamic conversations, despite their impact not visible by the end of episode 1, could drastically alter the game's story by the time episode 5 hits, presumably right before season 3 of the show begins. There is so much potential with the story, and I eagerly await the next installments.


Max Payne 3
Release Date: May 15, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: A great return to the world of Max Payne, after all these years. The bullet time itself doesn't appear to be just another gimmick, as this series pioneered the aspect. The damage done to enemies, and Max, is absolutely ridiculous, as it show a painstaking effort on Rockstar's part. Watching the slow-motion kill cams when killing anyone with any gun is fun, but if used in moderation, you'll be holding the A button more often than you think.

What's (Not So) Great: Max's bald head. I understand Max's reasoning behind it, but I don't think it belongs with his character. I wish environments were a little bit more open, as you don't have too much room to flex Max's bullet time diving muscles. 

Bottom Line: The core aspects of the franchise remain intact: bullet time, slow motion dives, non-regenerating health, graphic novel inspired cutscenes have evolved (for better or worse, many have yet to figure out which side of the fence to be on) into cinematics with graphic flair. It is a triumphant return to the series, but unless Rockstar does something else to push the franchise beyond it's limits, nostalgia can't hold it up forever.


Diablo III
Release Date: May 15, 2012
System Reviewed: Mac

Ed. Note: I've only scratched the surface of Nightmare difficulty playing as a Barbarian, so I'm unaware if new levels of complexities are introduced beyond that.

What's Great: Dungeon crawling at it's finest.

What's (Not So) Great: The loss of complexity from Diablo II. I miss being able to slap runes in my weapons. I hate the fact that gems no longer provide elemental properties anymore, with just Weapons and Helms offering something else other than "Strength" or "Dexterity". They've streamlined gems into four categories - Ruby, Topaz, Emerald, and Amethyst - which help when trying to figure out what to place in your sockets, but lose yet another level of complexity. Beyond  beating the game on multiple difficulty levels, there's not much more to do in the game rather than kill, maim, and loot. The remainder here is spoilerific, so if you still haven't beaten the story, then don't highlight: Watching Decard Cain and Leah fall to the hands of Diablo is pretty upsetting; Decard Cain is a staple, but we knew he would die sooner or later, but Leah? Come on, she was adorable! My mindset was that she would be the "New Decard Cain", becoming the old scholar in future installments, but no, she's the vessel for Diablo to exist. [end spoiler]

Bottom Line: Want to guess the keyword to take away from this review? Did you guess "complexity"? You, sire, have been reading my reviews, then! Diablo III is still a fantastic dungeon crawler, but I hope with the flurry of updates that Blizzard is pumping out, they add those intricacies back in, because, at this point, the elaborateness that prior games once displayed has been lost. Regardless, this game is an absolute time suck, and there is enough to keep you going in here until the infamous "end-game" that happens once you beat Inferno.


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Release Date: May 22, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: An attempt to take the technology and soldiers from Advanced Warfighter - a game that was a pivotal example of next-gen systems - and bring them further into the future. There are improvements to the GRAW formula from 5-6 years ago.

What's (Not So) Great: Everything falls flat fast. First and foremost, for a game that's been in development for years and hit delays, I'm not sure why the game handles this way, but the first annoyance I ran into was the second mission - after the prologue on the cliff side - where you are put through the quasi-tutorial. Why the fuck can't I jump over the barricade to shoot the guy hiding behind a wall until he decides to run out from behind, I kill him, and the game then tells me how to jump over the barricade, as if this is the first game with waist-high cover to jump over. Visuals, especially those cutscenes, are absolutely abysmal, and make this game look like a huge step back in terms of quality from Advanced Warfighter. From the fluidity in the first game, this game does not run as smoothly as the predecessor.

Bottom Line: Unless your life depends on more Tom Clancy games, I would avoid this game. There's very few redeeming qualities about this game, and I could not recommend this game unless Ubisoft put out a huge patch to fix most of the issues.