Friday, July 27, 2012

[SITE NEWS] Happenin's

It's been a while since I've given a site update, and with that spree of reviews I threw out, I want to let people know what's going on behind the scenes, and that this is more than just a hub of reviews...

For the "tl;dr" kids, skip to the bottom.

First and foremost:

Reviews
For starters, you may have noticed a huge influx of review posts, strangely appearing after a large absence of those posts. My review process has been streamlined, and I would like to state that the style of reviews will be staying the same for the time being, however, when I write the review, I will be adding exactly what portions of the game I played, how far (if I did not finish, which is a rare circumstance), length, etc.. Going forward (with the exception of a few drafted reviews I have here that may have been posted while I was creating this), reviews will be posted in a sense of "lasting impressions", hopefully within 24 hours - upwards of a week - of completing the game's campaign (keyword: hopefully). I forbid myself from multiplayer games except in very rare, extreme circumstances (read: Halo).

With that in mind, I will only be reviewing the campaign mode of the game. Most multiplayer I have been exposed to has been horrendous, and the communities built around the services - be it Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network - are no where near forgiving. I have met a few fortunate souls that have not been tainted by the aspect of anonymity, and I remain in contact with a few of them. Outside of those contacts, online gaming communities are fucking abysmal, and I refuse to take part in any of them.

Additionally, I will be adding a new "Plays Like" section at the beginning, giving you an idea of what other games this closely resembles; if you read Alternative Press, this will seem very familiar. If there is an available review for that game, I will link to the review for the game (or for the most recent entry in the series).

All of these changes are taking effect as of my Lollipop Chainsaw review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

[REVIEW] Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw
Release Date: June 12, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays LikeBayonetta, MadWorld, Devil May Cry

What's Great: Suda 51 doesn't censor himself, and his crude humor shines through. With lines like "I'd never thought I'd be rescued by someone with such great tits", or "I'm going to go home and masturbate to you", Suda's mind is at all times present. The combat, while sometimes unresponsive, is addicting. I'm not sure what makes it so, but I first walked into this very skeptically, and each time I put it down, I hesitated to pick it back up. Each successive time I did, I found myself playing longer and longer. Health, while non-regenerative (thankfully), is in the form of lollipops, and they are in an abundant supply.

What's (Not So) Great: Where to start? Combat is unresponsive (as stated above), with combos not registering fully. You'll get the hang of the timing, but it's not like you'd expect: rather than press X 4 times then Y twice, you press X until you memorize each pom-pom attack, and once you see her do her jump/dive and roll, you know to cram on the Y button until the super combo hits. The upgrade system/store is incredibly annoying, especially hearing that goddamned lollipop song; I learned to hit Mute on my remote once I came to a shop. There are no previews for combos, nor do they give you more information than a one-liner in the shop (there really should have been a training hub that would allow you to practice combos). One gripe I do have is that, while you can exchange 500 Gold zombie medals for 1 Platinum, there's no way of reversing that exchange; why can't I trade in my one Platinum coin for even 100 Gold medals? Successive upgrades, such as for health or strength, shoot up drastically in price, making you grind your way through Sparkle Mode and plan your attacks accordingly, lining up zombies for multiple take-downs in one swipe. Grinding is not fun, especially for money.

Bottom Line: I'm a huge Suda 51 fan, so when I first heard he was doing a zombie hack-n-slash, I was pretty ecstatic. When it was succeeded by "starring a voluptuous cheerleader with a chainsaw", my heart sank, then rose. The game itself is one of those games that, if you live with your significant other, be prepared to be judged, as I was. Despite the story being utter horseshit (compared to Shadows or No More Heroes), the game can be surprisingly addicting. There are many flaws in the combat, and with a genre that has many forefathers that have nailed the execution, the sequel - if there is one - should take some major cues from games such as Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. I feel that, if Suda 51 does create a sequel (a rarity in his studio) for this game, I feel there is so much more room for improvement, and I do welcome a sequel that fixes those issues. Despite my rampant negativity towards the game, it is a game that can be fun, but only to a very small niche.

GradeC


(Lollipop Chainsaw was obtained through GameFly, played on Normal, completing the campaign, missing one classmate. Played stage select to rescue the last student and replayed last boss fight to unlock "Happy Ending". Didn't bother with different modes.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help

The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help
Release Date: June 27, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

Ed. Note: There are spoilers in this review, but they have been whited-out. Just highlight to read.

What's Great: A fantastic continuation of the story. I enjoyed how the story began, but now, you're making decisions for the group. The level of "disgusting" is ramped up, as, what I thought was a dream sequence ended up being the real deal (SPOILER!: I seriously thought that Lee was dreaming the situation with Mark being cut in half after being wounded by the bandits, and his legs being the main course dish everyone ate up). The game is starting to turn into that promised "tailored" experience, and I love seeing my changes being recognized by later chapters of this game.

What's (Not So) Great: Some decisions aren't handled the best way. For instance, divvying up rations was partially fucked, in that, why can't the kids share the cheese and crackers? Why can't I split up the beef jerkey between two adults? Haven't you people heard of the leap-frog schedule, where people alternate days of eating; it sucks, but the situation at hand it brutal. Other choices don't appear to have that much of a lasting, such as everything that happens between those on the dairy farm.

Bottom Line: If you've played episode 1, you should continue the story, no doubt. If you have yet to pick up the game because people said episode 1 was dull, you have every reason now to pick it up. The releasing of the episode wasn't exactly what I wanted - it took two months to get episode 2 - but I do appreciate that Tell Tale has acknowledged that, and states that episode 3 will be out in about a months time. This is going to be the longest month of my life.

GradeA-

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[ODDITIES] Things You See Around Town

Driving around town, you see some weird shit. Particularly, it's interesting to know that Virginia has the most personalized vanity plates around. If you have your own personalized plate, you may witness people taking out their cell phone and snapping a picture of your plate. Hell, I've had it happen to me, and in the 3-ish years I've had my plates, I've seen around 10 people take pictures of my plates while driving, or had people remark about my Autobot logo in place of the Honda symbol while in a parking lot.

I know the feeling.

So imagine it when this guy has a license plate that reads "4DEHORD", or, "For the Horde", with the WoW Horde logo on his spare tire cover. The license plate is one thing, but to sell it with the logo is another.

After the break, catch a nice little Adventure nod in Penny Arcade's OtRSPoD: E3, referencing the oh-so-infamous duck/dragon. Sure, it's not while driving, but it's something I've been meaning to share with everyone.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[REVIEW] LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Alrighty, my first review after my spree of mini reviews. I'm still toying with the idea of a new review format, but in the meantime, I'm going with what works for now, but I will be adding

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Release Date: June 19, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: A necessary change to the stagnant LEGO formula, LEGO Batman 2 shows that there is still life left in the idea of mashing LEGOes with [insert favorite intellectual property here]. I was highly skeptical of the first Batman game, but it proved to be fun, as you didn't have to keep up with established plot points from other franchises; you just grabbed a character and let it happen. The open world, similar to Hogwarts in the LEGO Harry Potter games, is a big improvement, as rather a cross section of places like Hogwarts, you have full control of the camera and can view just about everything.

What's (Not So) Great: I'm not completely sold on voice acting in the LEGO games. While the actors did a great job with their respective characters, I feel the miming from all previous games worked very well, and it was a great way to see how they attempted to convey their own speech to others, using props and whatnot throughout it. Despite being subtitled "DC Super Heroes", you don't get to play as Superman until about the 4th mission, and the rest of the Justice League doesn't kick until the second to last mission.

Bottom Line: The game does hold promise for the future of the franchise, especially with LEGO Lord of the Rings when that comes out, but I do fear that, if they don't attempt to bring in new elements to help make each successive game feel fresh, these games will just be re-skins of their predecessors. It's still a fun game, being able to play as the rest of the Justice League - even if it is at the end of the game - is rewarding, and the open world gives you plenty to do in-between missions, as well as after the game, something LEGO games put into each release.

GradeB-

[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.


GradeB+

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guy Tries to Buy $100 Worth of Digital Content Using my Best Buy Account


We see this? I hope you do.

I (literally) received this order confirmation email not less than 10 minutes ago, saying that some jackass bought $100 worth of iTunes and PlayStation Network monies on my Best Buy account. Worst part is, his email address shows up in the email.

Yes, I was able to cancel the order before it was processed, removed my on-file credit card from my account, and changed my password.

For those who can't see the email - or just want to copy/paste the email - it is beckkumler@writeme.com. Now, I'm aware that writeme domains are notoriously known for being absolute shit, so I'm thinking it's a possible throwaway email for this kid.

Regardless, who wants to deal some damage here? Take it, to what you will with it. I don't care, but it's time to have fun.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nintendo Setting Up Select Club Nintendo Members on a Date with the Wii U


I just got this email in from Club Nintendo, asking me to reserve a spot for a special hands-on with the Wii U later this month in DC on the outskirts of GWU.

From the email:

Club Nintendo is very excited to invite you to get a sneak peek of Nintendo's upcoming Wii U™ console! You've been chosen from amongst our most loyal members to get this exclusive hands-on experience with the revolutionary new touch screen controller, full HD graphics, and innovative games you won't want to miss.
To make your first Wii U experience even more memorable, we want you to invite your friends and family to join you. Upon completion of the registration process, you’ll be provided with 3 invitations you can share with whomever you like. 

Now, there are time slots you have to sign up for across those three dates in the image (July 26-29). I, myself, am signed up for the Saturday time for 1-3pm. They do allow you to bring 2 3 additional guests, but I'm not that privy (yet) to hand out codes to complete strangers, regardless of how much I'd like my readers (the small handful there is) to be able to enjoy it.

They do ask you for access to your Facebook profile so they can post pictures to your Facebook profile of you at the event, when you arrive, and all that. Once there, I'll be posting hands-on impressions and what-not.

[REVIEW] Moar reviews!

I Am Alive

Release Date: March 7, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

Ed. Note: Here's a quasi review of the game once I first finished it back in March.

What's Great: The sense of disparity between you and the others within the city. I absolutely loved the feeling of being afraid of not being comfortable whenever I move outside of my comfort zone, which is about 10 feet in either direction. Once the game was done, I realized that we only explored about 70-80% of the map that we were given (not counting the blocked off areas), but there was that north-western corner we never explored (at least I didn't). I enjoyed the ending very much, as it shows that those intermissions-as-cut-scenes we were watching via the camcorder were, in fact, being watched posthumously by Julie, with Adam's gear strewn across the table, heavily hinting at his death.

What's (Not So) Great: The climbing mechanics can get frustrating, and the shimmering silver accented hand holds don't really stick out all that well across, what can be seen by some, black and white backgrounds. I do wish that the climbing hooks you can place to rest were treated less like a perishable and more like an upgrade that you could retrieve (especially if you accidentally put one in the wall), but that would end up breaking the game. Not all of the map is explored, either (see above). Most confrontations can simply be averted by pointing a gun at people. Now, there is some brevity between raising your gun at someone and them not reacting as quickly as you'd like, or even not reacting at all, which I wish was addressed. There is that likelihood that, if faced at the raw end of a gun barrel, most of us would clam up and GTFO, but I felt that combat system wasn't as refined as Ubisoft had hoped it would be.

Bottom LineThe overall game I enjoyed greatly, and I'm glad the game saw the light of day in at least one form. I wish everyone would enjoy this game, but some people were just shitting on it, simply because their expectations were set too high. Probably because they had a throne in their closet to the few bits and pieces of promo art that were released when the game was first announced with the reveal trailer playing on a loop.

GradeB-