Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[LATE REVIEW] Gravity Rush


Release Date: June 12, 2012
System Reviewed: Vita
Plays Like: Nothing else, really.

What's Great: The gravity controls are somewhat difficult to master, but once you do, you end up flipping and flying throughout the game, and that feeling of just going anywhere you want - literally, anywhere - is remarkable. Despite being able to just fucking fly everywhere, the level design is very intricate, even thought the main job (that I've been able to discern) is to hide the power gems and warp points. The various nooks and crannies, combined with tunnels, underground passages, hidden areas reachable only by gravity manipulation, the seemingly random staircases, the world itself has an interesting high level of detail, with all things considered

What's (Not So) Great: The camera can be wonky, especially when following Kat on a rough surface, such as the side of a building with jagged levels of windows. Combat isn't friendly early on, as once you start learning new moves (Gravity slide kick and the spin drill attack) it becomes confusing on how to properly implement them, but you will eventually get the hang of it. Unfortunately, until get the hang of combat, the clunky camera can make combat fucking horrendous.

Bottom Line: Gravity Rush is a game you should play on your Vita. It's on par with Uncharted: Golden Abyss in terms of execution of a new game on new hardware, as these are, quite possibly, the best games on the system to-date. That may change come this holiday season, but if you want a game that's going to make you regret buying the system less and less, you have to play this game.

GradeB-

(Played the game to it's completion, story wise. Earned a 58% of Trophies collected (2 being Gold), going out of my way on various occasions to grab those shiny fuckers known as Power Gems. Killed only one Rare Nevi and earned 'Top Cat' Trophy; that's the full respect of the townsfolk.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

[REVIEW] Dishonored

Release Date: October 9, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Deus Ex, Thief, BioShock

What's Great: First and foremost, the one thing I loved the most was the art direction. Thanks to art director Sebastien Mitton (BioShock 2) and designer Harvey Smith (the original System Shock, as well as the first two Deus Ex games), working with Viktor Antonov - the lead director on the game, who also helped create Half-Life 2 - you have this wondrous world, built on parts from steampunk, crossed with gothic architecture, and a little BioShock Infinite, as well. Fame isn't what I'm getting at here, it's the history these gentlemen have. With wondrous games under their belt, out on store shelves and praised by critics, you have this amalgamation of brilliant ideas that culminate in a blend of fantastic art direction and level design.

Going with said level design, the multiple ways to achieve your goal is splendid, being given various ways to complete objectives. You may start out with "kill this guy" as your objective, but on your way to the boat to depart, you are given a side mission to "spare this fellow", and by doing so, you open up another method of taking out your target. Hell, you may even befriend a particular shopkeep who offers to take care of a hit, but requires the combination to an aristocrat's safe in his abandoned home as payment. Furthermore, and it must be said, the absolute beauty in the game design is that you can go through your game and not kill one...fucking...soul.

Finally, there's the Chaos system, which doesn't act as a morality system, but more of how stable the game world is. With the rampant rat plague in the world, it turns our victims into "weepers", who spew the plague forth from their mouth, and attack anything but their own kind. The more dead bodies you leave in your wake, the more food the infested rats have, and with a food supply, their numbers grow, infecting more people. Further in the game, a higher Chaos in the world means more rats, more weepers, and more, well, chaos in the game, making it more difficult (or easy, depending on how you look at it) to make your marks. The Chaos system - combined with some key choices throughout the game - will eventually tell the end-tale to your story.

What's (Not So) Great: Unfortunately, when you spend more time to the gameplay, level design, and art direction, some things get put to the wayside. Key point: the story. Not only is it convolulted, it's burdened with many sub-plot-points. I can see it as a way to help build this new fictional world, but you have (let's count): Orwellian government control on the rise, plague-infested rats, whale oil, magic, kidnapped princess, and prohibition...there is a lot going on in the game world. Just let Penny Arcade take the lead on this one.

The controls can be difficult to learn, as a few things - such as trying to subdue an enemy from behind - may not be as clear to the game as they are to you; there have been many a time where I have hit [RB] to choke a guy out, and I just bring my sword up to block. The lack of a map is the one thing that absolutely bugged the shit out of me. There are even maps you find in the game of the layout, but for some reason, you can't bring it with you and reference it. I can see in areas where a map may end up breaking the game, but if you are the former Empress' bodyguard, who is in a seemingly not-so rag-tag group of misfits, who have access to armaments and a hideout the government has yet to find, you'd think you could carry a piece of parchment with a map on it.

Mission history isn't great. I wish we had something along the lines of Skyrim, at least, where the dialogue in the mission history menu would update itself when you perform a major milestone in your current mission. Instead, we get a "Kill this guy" line, and the blurb off to the right is just about the main target, and not about the currently selected (sub)mission.

Bottom Line: With a bevy of developers with a hell of a repertoire to boot, Dishonored has shaped up to be a hell of a fantastic new IP. The ending doesn't necessarily hint at future installments, but considering Dunwal is the capitol of just one of the four islands that make up the Isles (and that Corvo had been sent away to those islands prior the beginning of the game), there is, no doubt, more to explore in this world.

Grade: A

(Completed the game on Normal difficulty, earning 24 out of 50 Achievements, totaling 430 GamerScore. To avoid spoilers, I earned the "Just Dark Enough" Achievement, which indicates I had a low Chaos level when beating the game. If you want to see what that means, highlight the following text: a successful rescue of Emily put her on the throne, and rescuing Piero and Sokolov helped create a cure for the plague. Corvo, himself, played out his duty as bodyguard to Emily, and upon his passing, was buried in the same tomb that the Empress herself was buried.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner


Release Date: October 10, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The other Walking Dead chapters; The Secret of Monkey Island

(Ed. Note: It goes without saying, but some may find spoilers in here, despite them not being blatant. You have been warned.)

What's Great: It's really hard to say great things about this, as I don't want to spoil anything here. The episode starts strong, plays strong, and ends very well. This episode doesn't see too many people die this time around (as opposed to the rack of people that were offed last episode), but you do get your hand at killing a shitload more walkers.

What's (Not So) Great: Everything to date that's been questionable still applies: odd controls, strangely worded decisions, outcomes that don't necessarily fit. It may be the downfall of point-and-click adventure games.

Bottom Line: This episode has probably been the best one so far, as it contains some pretty heavy twists and turns within the group, and not to mention it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Having your group with you is probably the most satisfying while venturing into a barricaded town. There was a slight emotional event towards the end, which may end up being a bit of foreshadowing for the final episode.

Grade: A-

(Played the entirety of the story, being lumped into the majority of the rest of players with all decisions, except for the first one.)