Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yeah I give up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

No review this week. I'm going to stop the "once a week" thing and it'll be more "whenever I feel like it". Just haven't had the time lately.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

One Paragraph Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

This is by far the best game on XBLA. Originally for the PlayStation, it revamps the Castlevania formula into an action-RPG system that involves different weapons, armor and items you can use, and experience that you gain from killing enemies to level your guy up. It controls well, there is a lot of area to explore, and although it can be tough early on, once you’re leveled up you can kick some undead butt. It’s just a shame that Konami has copied this formula for every handheld Castlevania game since then.

Verdict: Buy

Fable 2 Pub Games

In case you really liked the pub games in Fable 2, this is your game. Personally, I thought they were terrible – fortune’s tower is impossible to make money off of, spinnerbox is boring, and keystone is mediocre at best. The promise of fabulous prizes you can transfer to your Fable 2 character is kind of flimsy when it takes you more time to earn them than it’s worth.

Verdict: Don’t Buy

Battlestar Galactica

The Cylons were created by man. So was this game. I’m not sure which was the worse decision. It’s a 2d space shooter with 3d graphics, mediocre controls and pointless gameplay. Not much else to say about it, it’s just lame.

Verdict: Don’t Buy

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heavenly Sword (PS3)

Hey kids, are you tired of games that are good? Want to play a mediocre action game with ridiculous characters? Then Heavenly Sword is the game for you! Not only will you be piling up the doctor bills will the carpal tunnel that all the brainless button-mashing will give you, you'll also curse the awkward controls when you have to shoot arrows at distant targets that are a slightly different shade of brown from the background!

And for lovers of the "quicktime events boss battle", boy oh boy are you going to have fun. No pedestrian method of having to defeat a boss with your regular attacks, you'll have to do the same long sequence of button presses with split-second margin for error, then when you fail you'll have to whittle the boss's health down for the nth time and do it all over again! I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love this collection of modern gaming cliches! Buy it now, unless you like innovative gameplay!

2 out of 5

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Resident Evil (PS1)

Going a little old-school this week. Resident Evil was the game that launched a thousand survival horror titles. Of course, being the first (or at least the first widely successful) game, it's not perfect. One of the hardest things to survive is the so-called "tank" controls, in which pressing up moves you forward, pressing back moves you backward, and left and right turns you around. Which makes combat a challenge, especially since aiming from a third-person perspective is more of a guessing game than anything. (Seriously, crows should not be harder to kill than zombies.)

This is not to say that the game is unplayable, it's just that you'll be running around like a drunken sailor most of the time. Otherwise it's still a pretty fun play. You'll be doing a lot of backtracking thanks to the limited inventory system, but there are a number of creepy locales you'll visit (mansion, garden, mine, laboratory) and several different varietals of deadly creature to fight. And both the live-action beginning and voice acting are still so hilariously bad they're good. I'm not sure about the surfeit of other RE games released in the intervening years -- Code Veronica X sure was horrible -- but this one is still worth a play.

3 out of 5

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

The Ratchet and Clank series consists of a number of platforming action games which involve a space cat and his robot pal fighting their way through hordes of robots and such to… do something. I don’t know what, exactly, because I was too bored to care.

People love this series, but I don’t know why. I mean, the combat is awkward, the platforming is uninspired, and the gameplay is ultra-linear. There’s a great variety of weapons and a lot of silly humor, but that just doesn’t do enough to interest me. I liked a few of the segments, such as using the Sixaxis controls to navigate one’s freefall descent, but for the most part I was just uninspired by this game. I’ll admit I didn’t play very far, but the problem here is the fact that I don’t want to play any more. That, to me, is the biggest indication that you’ve got a problem.

Some people might think I rate everything badly just so I maintain my cynical façade, but I really don’t care for the games that I pan. That’s why I don’t review, say, sports games, because I hate sports. Or racing games, because I’m absolutely terrible at them. But action games I can do, just as long as they’re not messed up gameplay-wise, or as uninteresting as this game was.

2 out of 5

Saturday, January 10, 2009

One Paragraph Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade

Here’s a fun new feature for the games that aren’t complex enough to warrant their own reviews and was not just thrown together because I have no other reviews in the hopper. Instead of a rating I’ll give a “buy”/”don’t buy” recommendation.

Missile Command

The annoying trend with XBLA is to take a moldy game from the early 80s, give it some whiz-bang 3d graphics and sell it for $10. You know, the reason we don’t play Atari anymore is their games weren’t very sophisticated. It might have been impressive during Reagan’s first term to simulate nuclear warfare with blocky four-color graphics, but we’re over that. Pac-man Championship Edition updated the simplistic gameplay; this one just updates the graphics. And it’s not worth playing for more than five minutes.

Verdict: Don’t Buy


The great thing, from a publisher’s standpoint, about casual games is that they’re cheap to make and people love to play them. Zuma is case in point: you have balls rolling down a spirally track and you have to shoot balls in between the balls to match up three or more balls of the same color, and they disappear. Do this to get enough points to stop the balls before the balls fall into a hole in the middle of the screen (and then finish off the rest of the balls) and you win the level. It’s simple, but fun. It’s a little quirky to use the thumbstick to aim your little frog guy’s ball-shooting mouth, but it otherwise works well.

Verdict: Buy

Saturday, January 03, 2009

No review this week, but exciting news: due to an unexpected insurance windfall, my boyfriend nagged me into buying a PS3, so now I'll have two seventh-generation consoles to bitch about. Happy new year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

No review this week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dead Rising (Xbox 360)

This is “Dawn of the Dead: The Video Game”, so much so that they had to include a disclaimer on the front disavowing any connection to George Romero or his iconic zombie movie. In it, you play Frank, a photographer who goes to Willamette Mall (the apocalypse starts in Oregon, I guess?) to investigate the strange goings-on. And what’s going on? Zombies, of course.

So, here you are in survival horror as only the 7th generation of video game consoles can produce. Once the game starts going, you basically have to use whatever items (and there are a lot of them) you can find in the mall to slog through hordes of zombies, rescue survivors in the mall, and advance the plot. And it’s pretty darn fun… Although not at first. You see, you have to level up in order to walk faster than a geriatric candidate for hip replacement, to have more than four measly bars of health (getting grabbed by a zombie will more often than not drain at least two of them), and to have kickin’ hand-to-hand combat skills so you won’t immediately die when your only weapon breaks.

Oh yes, your weapons break. That’s kind of annoying, but I guess that’s what happens when the American manufacturing base gets shipped over to China. There also are a lot of weapons you can pick up that are pretty much useless. Unless you find the idea of killing zombies with an electric guitar amusing (which, since they squeal guitar riffs when you connect, it is, kind of), you’ll be pretty much sticking with stuff like knives, chainsaws, mannequin torsos (they’re deadly, don’t ask me why) and, in the later parts of the game, machine guns. The good news is if you die – and in the early stages of the game, you will die a lot – you can start the game over with all of your experience intact.

As with all good monster movies, you will find out that the real monster is man. From time to time, you’ll have to take down various psychopathic non-zombified humans that are up to no good. Again, early on this is annoying as hell, because you’ll probably be stuck with a peashooter of a pistol that takes maybe one pixel of health off with each shot. And the game, depending on how much of the main story tasks you complete, has a multitude of different endings to enjoy.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention – the game is 72 in-game hours long, or 6 hours of gameplay. At night, the zombies become more dangerous, and all of your main and side quests occur at certain points of said 72 hours. It’s an interesting way to present the game, but it’s kind of a shame that there isn’t a sandbox mode (not counting the infinite survival mode where your health constantly ticks down) where you can just mess around.

So there you have it. It’s survival horror with not-so-bad controls and interesting gameplay. I’m kind of annoyed that the mall is somewhat unrealistic – how many malls have a big park in the middle? And where are the department stores? But the rest of the game is good, although you have to be patient at first. Also, if you’re into that kind of thing, you can run around in a dress and Mega Man helmet.

4 out of 5