God of War III Remastered Review

GoW3God of War III Remastered (Exclusively available on PlayStation 4)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sony Santa Monica Studios, and Wholesale Algorithms
Release Date: July 14th, 2015

Parent Talk: I think it goes without saying that the ESRB rates God of War III Remastered M for mature. There’s gratuitous violence and gore at every turn, there’s nudity, and strong sexual themes. Honestly, there’s no way this game should be played by anyone other than an adult.

Plays Like: There have been a lot of God of War games over the years, and they all share the same theme of destroying everything that moves, and solving puzzles to progress to your next killing spree. The same is true here. Along the way you earn powerful weapons and spells that can be upgraded to make Kratos a more efficient killing machine.

Review Basis: I played through the original God of War III back in 2010, wow I can’t believe it has already been five years since the original version was released. Sony provided us a physical copy of the game to review, which I played through in order to see all the changes.

God of War 3 was a phenomenal game. The opening alone is one of the absolute best openings in a videogame ever. Yes, I found it even more impressive than the colossus battle from God of War II’s opening, or the beginning of the original God of War where Kratos battles a Hydra. Here you ride Gaia, a titan, who’s climbing Mount Olympus, as you face off against the Water God himself, Poseidon. I mean really, how can you possibly top that? The scale, the sheer ferocity, it’s absolutely fantastic, and while the rest of the game is fun, it’s never able to surpass this moment of pure gaming bliss. Being able to relive that moment in 1080p, 60 frames-per-second is amazing, but I did find myself asking if this was worth the $40 asking price, especially considering the PS3 version is still readily available, and remains technically impressive to this very day.

GoW3_1The Great:

Reliving all your favorite God of War III moments. Let’s be honest, God of War III has a lot of great scenes, excellent combat and a conclusion to a story that was originally spun on the PlayStation 2. It’s an all-around great game, and having another chance to play through it in all its 1080p HD glory is great. Not only do you get 1080p resolution and 60 frames-per-second, but you also get some get character skins and arenas thrown in for good measure, and a new camera mode to take pictures of you dominating the forces of Zeus.

GoW3_2The Good:

  • Combat is just as you remember it.  With the previous entries in the series there were only a few great weapons, but this time around Kratos’ arsenal is perfect.  Just about every weapon has a purpose, and some enemies require switching between them to be eliminated.  Simply use the D-pad to transition between your trusty blades, power gloves, and others.  Certain weapons even have an influence on the environment.  Even the magic system has been overhauled, so arcane attacks completely change depending on the current active weapon.  There are four primary attacking weapons, and a slew of secondary toys and abilities.  These range from Apollo’s bow to Hermes’ boots.  No matter what’s equipped though, a good time is guaranteed.
  • All of the classic clichés return.  There are tons of quick-time events, a sex scene, and about everything else you expect from the series, both good and bad.  The big difference lies in the slight modifications, which amount to a lot.  No longer does a random button icon appear on screen.  They instead appear in the order they appear on the controller.  Even the sex scene has been refined, but I won’t spoil it.  All I’ll say is play through twice.  Even the puzzles, which many complained about in God of War II, are more logical in the scope of the game.
  • This remastered version features better graphics to be sure, but it’s the audio that really surprised me. Something about the PS4’s audio output always floors me, and the same is true here. The game sounds absolutely incredible, from the amazing music and themes that play out during combat and exploration, to the power behind each and every swing Kratos makes of his awesome blades. If you have a powerful surround sound system, you’re going to be in audio bliss with this one.

GoW3_5The Bad:

+/- Sadly the pre-rendered cutscenes have not been upscaled to 1080p, and there are very little other additions to the game, making the $40 price tag a little steep.

GoW3_3The Lowdown:

Who is the target audience? I still can’t answer that question. It’s true that a lot of people who own a PS4 didn’t own a PS3, but then wouldn’t it make more sense to have packaged God of War 1 to 3 together, in order to get the whole story? Longtime fans of the series likely won’t be interested as they’ve already played the game on the PS3 and there’s very little incentive to pick this version up especially if you still have a PS3 lying around. For newcomers though, this is a superb action game that is well worth looking into, although it does feel somewhat incomplete without the first two parts.

Final Score: 8/10

Batman: Arkham Knight – Batgirl: A Matter of Family DLC Review

BatgirlBatman: Arkham Knight – Batgirl: A Matter of Family DLC (Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal
Release Date: July 14th, 2015

ESRB Rating: The DLC itself has not been rated by the ESRB, however Arkham Knight was rated M for mature because of mature themes, violence, and blood. The same is true for this downloadable content.

Plays Like: The core gameplay stays true to Arkham Knight, except this time around you play as Batgirl on her mission to rescue her father from the Joker. There is more emphasis on hacking various objects in order to take down enemies or solve puzzles, but the combat feels exactly the same as when Batman engages enemies. The game doesn’t take place in the same area as Arkham Knight, which is both interesting and refreshing.

Review Basis: I downloaded the DLC as part of the Season Pass on July 14th, and finished it an hour later. I spent another hour locating all of the hidden chattering teeth, jack-in-the-box, and balloons.

For the first time ever players can experience the breathtaking environments and tight combat system of the Arkham series as Batgirl. She’s joined by Robin as they try and rescue Jim Gordon from the Joker. It’s surprisingly fresh to play as Batgirl, even though her move-set and skills mimic those of Batman. The new location is interesting and fits the Joker’s personality perfectly. The ultimate question isn’t whether the DLC pack is fun, but rather is it worth the asking price.

Batgirl1The Great:

Being Batgirl. It might sound cheesy, but Batgirl was and remains one of the more interesting characters in the Batman family. She’s intelligent, powerful, and has a fantastic backstory. Just being able to play as Barbara Gordon is special, and the setup here allows her to shine. You get to see glimpses of the character she’ll become as Oracle after the Joker paralyzes her during the events of The Killing Joke. It’s just a shame we don’t have more time with Babs as there’s a lot more to her character, and an additional hour or two of content could have really bridged the gap between the DLC and the character she would eventually become. Either way, it’s still great being able to play as Batgirl.

Batgirl5The Good:

  • The setting is fantastic. An old abandoned amusement park makes this DLC feel distinctly different than Arkham Knight and is the absolute perfect setting for a Joker tale. It might not be the largest location set piece in the Arkham universe, but it feels self-contained and special, which is what you want from a DLC pack. Once the story progresses to the point where Batgirl has to rescue a series of hostages, it’s left up to the player which of the three locations to tackle first. While not fully open-world, it doesn’t break up the linearity of the DLC pack.
  • The same excellent combat you’ve come to expect from the series is featured here. While Batgirl has all unique animations, which look incredibly bad ass, the core gameplay is exactly the same as what you’ve experienced with Arkham Knight and the previous games in the series.

  • Barbara’s hacking skills are put to the test here, and her remote hacking device can be used from much farther away compared to Batman’s, but ultimately it does the exact same thing. To spice things up, the developers introduce several new elements that can be hacked so Babs can take down several enemies at once via an electrified floor panel, or maybe she can lure several enemies into a trap by hacking a terminal which will make lots of noise.

  • Harley Quinn in her Animated Series costume. That’s all sorts of win!

Batgirl2The So-So:

+/- If there’s one element that kind of disappointed me, more so than the length of the DLC, it’s the fact that there were so many missed opportunities. First off Tim Drake is Robin, I think it would have been really special to have had Jason Todd as Robin in this DLC because it would have allowed us to explore the character a little more. It could have also been interesting to have Dick Grayson as Robin, but alas no. I’m ok with Tim Drake, but they could have fleshed out the story of Babs and his budding romance. Instead we get awkward dialogue that doesn’t come through well at all. The other big missed opportunity is not being able to take the excellent looking Batgirl model out in any other portion of the game. There is no replay value here whatsoever so once you’re done locating the few collectables and max out all the easy-to-acquire trophies, you will never use Batgirl again, and that’s a real shame. If you could at least use her in the AR challenges that would be something, but sadly you can’t.

Batgirl3The Bad:

  • I’ll be honest with you all, seven dollars for 45 minutes to an hour of gameplay is a hefty asking price. Considering the Season Pass is a staggering $40, and only comes with three story packs, some AR challenges and a few skins, and we know that one of the story packs is only 45-minutes, it sure seems to me like the Season Pass will be outrageously overpriced. To make matters worse the Red Hood and Harley Quinn DLC packs which were included as retailer pre-order exclusives are not included in the Season Pass and are about the same length as A Matter of Family. That makes this feel DLC even harder to swallow since the others were free.

Batgirl4The Lowdown:

I’m not a huge fan of DLC packs when they’re done like this. When a free pre-order incentive is as long as a $7 piece of DLC there’s something wrong. It’s a real shame as this could have been so much more if it were twice as long and if Batgirl could have been used elsewhere in the game. As it is now, as much as I enjoyed playing as Batgirl, I cannot in good faith recommend this until the price drops.

Final Score: 5/10  

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

Arkham KnightBatman: Arkham Knight (Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: June 23, 2015

Parent Talk: Arkham Knight is rated M for mature because of blood, suggestive themes, strong language, and violence. Like the previous games in the series, Batman doesn’t use lethal force, however his enemies do. This isn’t an overlay graphic videogame, however it does indeed deal with mature subject matter and young kids would be advised against playing this.

Plays Like: If you have played Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, or Arkham Origins you have a very good idea of what to expect with Arkham Knight. You take on the role of Batman, and have all of Gotham City to explore. Your mission is to stop Scarecrow and figure out who the Arkham Knight is. You’ll use stealth, some fantastic gadgets, and Batman’s brute force to bring justice back to Gotham City.

Review Basis: I finished the PS4 version of the game with 96% overall completion rating, and if I have the time I plan to go back and collect all of the Riddler trophies so that I can see the game’s true ending.

Batman: Arkham Knight is the final chapter in Rocksteady’s incredible Arkham Trilogy. While I have very little doubt Warner Bros. will continue the series moving forward, this was an incredible way for Rocksteady to say good-bye to the series they popularized. After having completed the game, I sat back for a few moments to take it all in. This really is the end, and what an incredible journey it has been. Comic book videogames aren’t supposed to be this good.

This is MY city!
This is MY city!

The Great:

This is the end. With those words begins one of the most dramatic and best ending sequences I have ever seen in a videogame. What started with Arkham Asylum is now truly over. Arkham Knight takes everything I loved about that game, its incredible combo system, great detective mode, and deep story, and expands upon it in such a way that makes you feel as though Batman couldn’t possibly get any more powerful, and that his tale has finally reached its climax. The open world city from Arkham City is here, but it has been greatly fleshed out, and Batman’s rogue gallery has never been more interesting. Add in a wide assortment of new moves, expanded gadgets, and the Batmobile, and you have yourself the best comic book videogame I have ever had the honor of playing. It all comes together perfectly.

Just look at all the special effects.
Just look at all the special effects.

The Good:

  • The story manages to recognize what came before in both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and expands on the mythos by introducing a new element, the Arkham Knight. A mysterious figure that seems to know an awful lot about Batman. Throw in a masterplan of the Scarecrow, and the return of an old enemy, and you have a tale woven so perfectly that it will be hard for another action game to top this for a long time to come. I wish I could go on and on about the story, but I truly want you all to experience it for yourself.
  • Gadgets galore. While most of the gadgets return from the previous games, you can put them to great use here in new and interesting ways. All gadgets can be upgraded as well making something that was once an ok solution to taking out certain enemies or elements in the battlefield like the Disruptor to a gadget that you will whip out every chance you get because of how powerful and diverse it can become.
  • Detective Mode. Scan bodies for clues, look through walls to see how best to take out certain enemies, everything that makes Batman the world’s greatest detective is at your fingertips. There is one series of missions in particular that really nails the detective in Batman. During story missions Batman will frequently have to put clues together by looking at recorded footage, or and locating key items. I felt Rocksteady did a wonderful job of really making the player feel as though Batman isn’t just all muscle.
Races are challenging, but a blast.
Races are challenging, but a blast.
  • Speaking of muscle, Batman has a wide assortment of new moves, and all of them can be upgraded via the level system. As you complete each side mission or story mission Batman acquires skill points which can be allocated to several key areas, combat being one of them. With enough practice you’ll get good at the counter and attack system and with upgrades, you’ll become an unstoppable Dark Knight. The combo system is just as fresh and fluid as it has ever been.
  • The Batmobile! I was a little afraid it may be overused when I first started learning how to use it, as it appeared every new mission type revealed would make use of the Batmobile, but very soon afterwards the game starts spicing things up and breaks the game down into two sections, Batmobile and combat. The Batmobile has two modes, a standard card mode which allows you to zip around Gotham’s streets with ease, and then the tank mode which you’ll be using a lot during combat sections. Here you face off against unmanned drones and you take them out with your 6MM cannon and machine guns. The Batmobile takes only a few minutes to get the hang of, and after that you’ll be blasting away even the most challenging foes. It too can be upgraded much like the gadgets and your combat skills.

­+ The City. I’ve got to hand it to Rocksteady, they really nailed the city this time. There are three islands you get to explore, but you never feel overwhelmed. Traversing from one area to the next is quick and easy either through the air, via grappling or on-ground with the Batmobile. Each area is distinct with color and flavor, such as Wayne Tower, ACE Chemicals, and more. I also enjoyed that you didn’t have to go to the Batcave in this game, considering we spent so much time there in the previous games.

  • Riddler’s trophies and challenges return, but thanks to the inclusion of the Batmobile, you really have to think outside the box. There are over 240 items to collect in the game, which will take a very long time to complete, and will put your brain to the test as some of these challenges are extremely complicated to figure out.
  • The voice cast is back. One of the biggest disappointments from Origins was some of the key missing voice actors like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, but they’re here. The entire voice cast is phenomenal and brings these characters to life, but I’ve got to single out John Noble as Scarecrow, wow what a fantastic job he did. This is by far the creepiest Scarecrow we’ve ever received, and I can’t ever go back to someone else voicing him again. The soundtrack is equally as powerful and rich.
  • Graphically Arkham Knight is a gorgeous game and Gotham City has never looked so detailed. The framerate remains constant for the vast majority of the game, only slowing down a bit when too much action is going on, typically during tank battle portions of the game. I was extremely impressed by the sheer size of the city, the amount of enemies on the streets, and the fact that there is always some sort of particle effect going on either rain or something else. It all comes together to make one impressive package.
The combat is just as excellent as in all the other games.
The combat is just as excellent as in all the other games.

The Ugly:

Since I can’t be sure everyone reading this will have the chance to play through the PlayStation 4 version of the game, I need to mention that the PC version was wrought with problems and Warner Bros. did the unthinkable, they pulled it from retail until the game can be fixed. It was riddled with bugs, glitches, and was barely unplayable. I experienced no such problems with the PS4 version.

The excellent detective mode makes you truly feel like the world's best detective.
The excellent detective mode makes you truly feel like the world’s best detective.

The Lowdown:

Sometimes a game will come along that strikes a chord with me, and this is one such game. I absolutely loved it from the first cinematic to the last mission. It may have been a little obvious who the Arkham Knight was, and yes it might seem a little odd that a man who doesn’t kill anyone would even own a tank capable to demolishing an entire city block, but at the end of the day I felt like Batman playing this game. I felt like I was the world’s greatest detective that I had the best and most colorful enemies in comic book history, and that at the end of it all, this is a very special chapter in the life of Batman that has come to a close. This is one you need to experience.

Final Score: 9.8/10

Batman: Arkham Knight Initial Impressions

I haven’t updated the site in quite some time because we’ve been focusing on videos on YouTube, however I think I’m going to post a story or two here from time to time just to keep things interesting.

Last night I got Batman: Arkham Knight and have been enjoying the heck out of it.  It’s one of those games where I put in three hours without even realizing it.  I meant to play for around an hour or so, but before you knew it, bam, three hours had passed.

Thus far I’m rally enjoying the Batmobile and the huge city.  I like how the missions aren’t overwhelming.  You can easily select a mission, get to the objective point and have fun.  I’m not sure why some people said they were overwhelmed or that the Batmobile wasn’t fun to use.  Thus far I’m extremely impressed!

Have you purchased Arkham Knight, and if so, what do you think of it?

LittleBigPlanet 3 Review

LBP3LittleBigPlanet 3 (Available exclusively on PlayStation 4)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sumo Entertainment
Release Date: November 18th, 2014

Parent Talk: LittleBigPlanet 3 has been rated E for everyone, meaning absolutely anyone can play this charming game. There’s really not much here anyone could find offensive, although there are a few cutscene that the really young might be frightened to see. Characters are all made out of cloth, or other real-world materials, but the action is so charming and harmless that I think this makes a perfect game for both children, and the young at heart.

Plays Like: Much like the rest of the series, the game is a platformer at heart. You move between three distinct plains, running and jumping all over the place. To make things even more interesting, you also have access to a wide assortment of powerful editing tools where you can create your own levels.

Review Basis: Finished the game, and tried my hand at creating a masterpiece of a level. That last part didn’t turn out so well.

When LittleBigPlanet first hit the PlayStation 3 it ushered in Sony’s unique marketing strategy of Play, Create, and Share. This simple concept applied to quite a few games over the years, but it all started with LittleBigPlanet. You could make your own levels, share them with others, and play through a wonderfully crafted campaign. The same holds true with LBP3, except everything has been enhanced and tweaked to a near pitch perfect level. If only a few nasty bugs would have been squashed prior to release, and some of the gameplay choices been a little different, this likely would have been one of the best games on the PS4, but as it is now, it’s just a damn fun one.

LBP3_4The Great:

The three new characters introduced in LittleBigPlanet 3 are a sheer delight to use. Oddsock is quick, and can be used to wall-jump, which makes him particularly useful. Toggle can switch between large and tiny versions of himself, which make him perfect for getting to hard to reach places, and finally Swoop can fly and carry objects. You have full access to all three new characters in the creation mode, however a major omission is that they’re not all playable in the main campaign for some reason. Instead you’re limited to where and how you can use the characters, but outside that limitation I love all of their new abilities and how they allow you to get truly creative when creating or trying to create your own masterpiece.

LBP3_1The Good:

  • I really enjoyed the cheerful story in LBP3. Sure it’s the similar to what we’ve seen before, but it’s still charming. You can on the role of Sackboy, who has been whisked away to Bunkum by a lightbulb named Newton. Newton tells the story of ancient Titans who sucked all the creativity out of Bunkum, but were thwarted by three unlikely heroes, Oddsock, Toggle, and Swoop. Sure enough, the Titans returns, and Sackboy has to locate these three heroes and save the kingdom. It’s simple, cute, and charming, which is perfect for this kind of game.
  • The campaign is divided into four main areas, one for the prologue, and then one for each of the three hero characters. Each new area has a series of levels, and then a boss fight in the last. There are countless hours of platforming goodness is each level, and once special items are introduced you’re rewarded for revisiting previously completed levels. There are secret challenges which require two or more players to attain, and you’ll almost always have a reason to come back and play because of missed stickers or other goodies you skipped on your first play through.
  • Speaking of creativity, as with all the other LittleBigPlanet games, this one features an incredibly robust level editor. I say level editor, but it’s so much more than that. You can build your own levels, an entire map, mini-games, and just about everything else you can possibly imagine, and then share those creations with the rest of the community.
  • Popit Puzzles are featured on their own planet, and act as a giant tutorial. Each level introduces one new tool, and forces you to understand how said tool works within the context of creation. So while technically you’re being challenged to overcome puzzles, in the back of your mind you’re also learning how and where to place traps, the best way to conceal a certain danger, and more. For lack of a better term, it’s brilliant.
  • There’s so much to do in this game that you feel like you’re truly getting your money’s worth. There are tons of NPCs in every hub world that offer mini-games, stickers for you to collect, and so much more. Then there are all the community aspects, such as playing through levels other players have built, of which there are literally hundreds if not thousands.
  • Coop has always been one of the game’s strengths and that holds true here. While most levels have two-player areas to them, only a fraction were designed for up to four players. That said, every level can be completed with four players, and it’s a blast doing so.
  • Environments are all extremely creative. One minute you’re in a Hollywood-inspired world filled with the frights, and excitement that come with the movies these levels are based upon, and the next you’re underwater in an area that doesn’t look anything like where you just were. That’s the creative genius of this series, and it’s still impressive. Everything is made up of real world materials such as wool, wood, or steel, yet everything is overly cute and cuddly. It’s a beautiful game to look at.

LBP3_2The Bad:

  • I really was sad to learn that you can’t switch characters at a moment’s notice during the campaign. You’re only allowed to do so at key spots, and even then you’re typically only allowed to switch to one of the characters, whichever one you happened to unlock in that area’s hub world. That’s very disappointing as it could have unlocked a wealth of options, almost making the game have a Metroid-like essence to it. Technically it already does with the in-game items you acquire such as a weapon that allows you to push certain items out of the way, or a teleporter that only works at certain spots.

The Ugly:

  • As with just about every modern videogame, LittleBigPlanet 3 is littered with bugs. Thankfully most of these have been patched, however while I played through the game I had frequent issues whereby I would fall through the floor of a level, would appear in the background, or would get stuck unable to explode myself or restart at the desired checkpoint.

LBP3_3The Lowdown:

LittleBigPlanet 3 is a really fun game, although it would have been so much better had the new characters been utilized a little better. I would have loved to have been able to switch to whichever character I wanted, whenever I wanted within the stages. This would have increased the replay factor by about a hundred percent, and really would have helped make this feel like the ultimate LittleBigPlanet. I loved all the new creation tools, the Popit Puzzles, but the bugs were annoying. Overall this is a fun game and fans of the series should most certainly check it out. It’s also a good jump on point for those curious to see what the series is all about.

Final Score: 7/10

The Order: 1886 Review

The Order 1886The Order: 1886 (Available exclusively on PlayStation 4)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SECA
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Release Date: February 20th, 2015

Parent Talk: The Order 1886 is rated M for mature because of blood and gore, intense violence, nudity sexual content, and strong language. There’s lots of very mature content featured in the game, making it a no-brainer that children should not be allowed to play. You visit a brothel and see full frontal male nudity, there are half-breeds that rip people apart, and then there’s the action, which has you cutting down enemies, setting them on fire, or otherwise killing them in very graphic ways.

Plays Like: The Order 1886 is a game that hand holds you through most of the adventure. It’s filled with quick-time events, cover-based action like you’d find in Gears of War, and third-person shoot outs as in many other games. The game is closed off and very linear, meaning the replay factor is quite limited since there’s also no multiplayer. It’s a graphically rich game, which falls a tad short when it comes to gameplay.

Review Basis: Sony sent us a review copy, and I polished off the campaign.

The Order 1886 is without a doubt the nicest looking game currently available on the PlayStation 4. It often feels like a glorified tech demo because of little touches like being able to zoom in on certain objects, and turn them around to look at all sides. It adds to the overall realism, and you’ll be floored by the game’s beauty, but when you’re given control, things don’t shine nearly as bright.

The Order 1886_1The Great:

Victorian London never looked so good. Honestly, this is a beautiful game, and it’s kind of a shame Ready at Dawn felt the need to remind players of that every few seconds. It’s gorgeous, and anyone with eyes can easily see that. Personally I loved how everything from the way the characters look to the environments all fit together perfectly. You’ve got zeppelins, beautiful iron bridge, carriages and just about everything else you can imagine. When I saw the old bar in one of the early characters I just couldn’t believe how much attention to detail went into the creation of the environments. They’re absolutely spectacular. If there’s one element Ready at Dawn can be proud of it’s that their game engine is amazing, and will hopefully be put to use in a more interactive game later on.

The Order 1886_2The Good:

  • The music, sound effects and voice acting are all superb. The actors do a phenomenal job with their dialogue, and the sweeping soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and acts as a perfect balance to the incredible setting and graphics.
  • When action segments do break out, they’re fun to experience and play. Most of these areas play out similar to Gears of War, whereby you use cover to protect yourself, take out enemies, and then move on to the next cover. Weapons are creative, although you don’t get to use them nearly as often as I would have liked.

The Order 1886_3The So-So:

+/- The story somehow mixes steampunk, King Arthur, and 1886 London into a cohesive and highly interesting setting. Players take on the role of Grayson, A.K.A. Galahad, one of the Knights of the Round Table. You’re trying to figure out why rebels have sided with half-breeds or Lycans (werewolves), and what the Order has to do with everything that’s going on. Are the rebels truly sided with the half-breeds or is there more going on here than you know of. I was hooked from the very beginning, however like most of the game, you never really get to explore much of the backstory of the game. Where do the Lycans come from, what’s the focus of the supernatural elements? You’ve never told, and it’s a shame. Instead the majority of the story focuses on the Round Table Knights and everything that’s going on within the political side of the story, which admittingly isn’t anywhere near as interesting as the world in which these Knights exist.

The Order 1886_4The Bad:

  • While some might enjoy the overall experience, I found the pacing to be extremely tedious at times. The game is essentially broken down into four segments, cutscenes, quick-time events, extremely slow walk and talk sequences, and action set-pieces. Entire chapters may be nothing more than lengthy cutscenes, and yet others will feature a handful of action segments, and lots and lots of walking. More often than not, I simply wanted to break free of the constraints and explore the world, but was never given the chance to do so. Instead I was handheld over the course of the entire game.
  • An incredible amount of filler is featured that easily could have been cut. While I enjoyed being able to pick up and look at certain objects in the environment, I really started to dislike being forced to do so. What ends up happening is you spend a good 20 minutes or so just walking around an area doing nothing but picking up and looking at three of four objects, and flipping them around, only to have to press the triangle afterwards to trigger a brief dialogue scene. These could have all been cut out, or left up to the player to discover on their own.

The Ugly:

I can’t recall being teased as often in a videogame as I felt with this one. From being given an excellent weapon, only to have it get ripped away moments later, to the thought of facing off against menacing half-breeds, just to polish them off with a few rolls and some QTEs, this game promised so much excitement and adventure and ultimately falls short because it simply does not deliver on those promises.

The Order 1886_5The Lowdown:

The Order 1886 is a game I think all PS4 owners should play. You might not believe it from what I’ve said in this review, but it’s the truth. I feel this is an exclusive that people who own a PS4 would do well in experiencing. It’s beautiful and I think with some major changes the sequel could actually be great. I’d suggest two or three friends purchase one copy, play through the seven hour game, share it amongst the group and then do what you want with the game after that. I have a feeling this is going to be a game that people will fall in love with for its cinematic qualities, and others will feel as I did, as if the game promises me the world, and simply didn’t deliver.

Final Score: 6/10

Citizens of Earth Review

medium_coverCitizens of Earth (Available on PC, PS4, PS Vita, 3DS, and Wii U)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Eden Industries
Release Date: January 20th, 2015

Parent Talk: Citizens of Earth has been rated E10+ for everyone ten and up. It features animated violence, tobacco references, and simulated gambling. If you’ve ever played Earthbound you know what to expect here. The game’s world is animated with cartoony flare, and the setting is a modern day, over the top city. It’s very goofy, which means that even players who are ten shouldn’t have a problem with any of the material showcased in the game.

Plays Like: At first glance one might be inclined to say this is the next entry in the Earthbound series. Citizens of Earth features many elements inspired by that classic SNES game, however it has a few other elements that separate it. Gameplay is broken down into typical RPG fair, where you move around an overworld, get new quests by talking to people you see, complete quests to get more members on your team, and battles take place via turn-based gameplay.

Review Basis: Finished the PC version of the game, which Atlus sent us.

Earthbound is considered a lost classic. For whatever reason the game bombed upon its original release, however it has developed a massive cult following since then. There was something special about it, the modern setting, the charm and awesome characters were also so unlike everything else on the market. Citizens of Earth tries so desperately to be the unofficial sequel, but never manages to capture the same spirits.

COE1The Great:

If there’s one elements that I absolutely loved with Citizens of Earth it has to be the presentation. I loved how all the characters looked, and the game’s setting. This often felt like a modern day Earthbound. The art style is beautiful and also very humorous. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. The voice acting of the character is also another area that I really enjoyed because each has their own unique charm to them.

The Good:

  • The story can also be quite humorous at times. You take on the role of…you. You’ve just become the Vice President of the World, and after a day on the job you’re tired and decide to go on a much deserved vacation. The game picks up with you waking up at your mother’s house, and as soon as you leave said house you see protestors everywhere. Eventually the plot takes a turn to the bizarre with some strange brewed coffee affecting the citizens, and well, there’s much more going on behind the scenes. Sadly the story does get a little jumbled with the abundant amount of side-quests thrown in.
  • Characters galore. There are over a dozen recruits you can find in the game, and each one has their own unique ability. Your brother can allow you to acquire items from anywhere, a mascot character can change the game’s difficulty on the fly, and so on. These abilities also transfer over into battle, where your mother might be able to heal an ally, and another character might be able to protect other characters. Mixing and matching your team is a powerful strategy to ensure you’re always ready for whatever lies ahead.

COE2The So-So:

+/- Most of the game’s objectives are a little too vague for their own good. I understand this was done to be humorous, but in the end it means you have to play through the game in a few sittings or you might have trouble remembering exactly what it was you were supposed to do. A very simple case from the beginning of the game is you try and recruit the conspiracy guy. He requires three pieces of evidence, but you’re not told what the evidence is. The log simply tells you to ‘Collect the Evidence’. What does that mean? It’s simple enough if you play right away, and explore, but if you put the game down for any lengthy period of time you may wonder what it is you’re supposed to do next. This issue pops up constantly throughout the game.

+/- The battle system starts off quite enjoyable, but after a while it becomes tiresome and repetitive. The concept works like this. Every attack either gains or depletes an energy orb. There are also items you can use to restore energy, as you would imagine. That sounds simple enough right, well good because it is. The thing is that after a while you find yourself always cycling through the exact same attacks. You’ll use two physical attacks to build energy, one powerful attack which depletes said energy, another to heal your party, etc. Repeat this countless times and there you have it. Over time it almost feels like you’re not playing at all. Thankfully the auto-defeat feature from Earthbound is featured here so when you visit older areas with weaker enemies you can easily navigate the area without having to defeat countless enemies.

The Bad:

  • At first you won’t mind all the new characters being added to the game, but in time you start to realize that none of these characters has any soul. There’s just nothing special about them. I really enjoyed the banter from a handful, but the rest felt almost like cut and paste clichés. I would have much rather had a solid group of say six or eight characters, but with more fleshed out and humorous storylines than what we got.

COE3The Lowdown:

I think with some tweaking this could have been something special. It’s not a bad game by any means, it’s just that it needed some more time in the oven and the battle system needed some more diversity. I also would have really loved to have seen less characters, but more of a focused backstory on some of these wacky people. As is right now, Citizens of Earth is a decent game that might tickle your fancy if you’ve enjoyed seeing the footage in the video review.

Final Score: 6.5/10

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review

Halo MCCHalo: The Master Chief Collection (Available exclusively on Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 16
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: 343 Industries
Release Date: November 11th, 2014

Parent Talk: The Master Chief Collection has been rated M for mature by the ESRB because of blood and gore, language, and violence. Unlike something like Call of Duty, the blood isn’t over-the-top realistic. Yes this is definitely not a game for the really young because of scary enemies like the Flood, but honestly it’s not the worst FPS out there, not even by a longshot. Halo is Halo, it has its own distinct style and flare, and by now you should know exactly what you’re getting into if you’re considering purchasing this game.

Plays Like: The Halo series has evolved from a fun single player experience to a worldwide online phenomenon. The original Halo set the bar for single player first-person shooters on home consoles, and the Live-enabled sequel raised it exponentially higher. Today players all over the world know what they’re getting with Halo, a top tier campaign, and addictive multiplayer. Since this is a compilation game, naturally the games progressed with each iteration, but at its heart and core it was always this balance of an awesome campaign and killer online multiplayer that put Halo where it is today, as one of the world’s leading FPS franchises.

Review Basis: I tried my hand at all four Halo games to see how they compared to the originals, and tried my hardest to play a wide assortment of online multiplayer matches, but I’ll touch on that later on in the review.

Note: Microsoft has promised and delivered updates almost non-stop since the game’s release to fix the broken multiplayer, and the company will even be giving ODST’s campaign away for free as an apology to fans.

I was extremely excited to get my hands on The Master Chief Collection. I’m a big fan of the Halo series after all, and the thought of having beautiful 1080p 60 fps versions of all four games in the core series was incredibly exciting. Sure I was a little disappointed that Halo: Reach wasn’t included, as that’s actually my second favorite Halo game ever, after the original, but I figured I could live without it as I would be so busy checking out all the other games. What I didn’t expect was for this compilation to be a really great campaign compilation, and a complete disaster when it comes to the multiplayer. To understand how huge of a deal this is, it would be like making it to world 8-4 in Super Mario Bros. only to have a black screen pop up saying ‘sorry…err..hay_98*’ Yup, that makes no sense whatsoever, and to be quite honest, neither does the incredibly broken multiplayer.

Halo MCC1The Great:

The campaigns are absolutely incredible. If there’s one aspect that really floored me it’s with the four core campaigns. The original Halo is based on the Anniversary Edition, but has been upscaled and looks extremely sexy. Halo 2 has been completely reworked and looks amazing, and Halo 3 and 4 have also been upscaled. The four games run so silky smooth that you’ll be immediately impressed. What I especially appreciated was that you can select any chapter you want right from the get-go. This allows you to enjoy these games any way you want, from beginning to end, or that one level you remember so fondly from way back when. It’s all incredibly fun, so long as you always enjoyed these campaigns, if not well then this most likely isn’t the compilation for you.

It’s also really fun to be able to turn on and off the alterations of the original two Halo games, because you can appreciate just how much work went into these remasters. For Halo 2, it’s especially amazing to see the drastic improvements Blur Studios made to the cutscenes. The whole world feels so much more fleshed out now. The new lighting system also makes Halo 2 on the Xbox One look so much better than it did on the original Xbox. There’s even new musical arrangements and sound effects, although some of the sound effects sounded better in the original in my opinion.

Halo 3 and 4 are not Anniversary editions, and it’s obvious, however both have been updated to run at 1080p 60fps, so they’re the best versions to play. The gameplay in both games is also top notch, and help round out this superb package of excellent campaigns. Playing through Halo 4 after playing the others shows this is a clear new beginning for Master Chief. The gameplay is radically altered from giving Master Chief the ability to run, to new enemies and a story which paints Master Chief in a totally different light. No longer is he the warrior god that everyone looks up to, and it’s quite jarring to play all four games back to back and see this. It’s a sign that the series is changing, and it’s clear that when Halo 5 hits next year the evolution of the series that started in 4 will continue.

Halo MCC2The Good:

  • One aspect that I was really worried about that turned out quite well is the user interface. It’s quite easy going through each game, selecting the chapter, mode, or gameplay alterations you want. It takes a little getting used to, but after a very short time you’ll be playing through whatever chapter you want in any way you want.

Halo MCC3The So-So:

+/- I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for saying this, but while it’s really awesome that you can select a playlist that’s made up of multiplayer maps from all four Halo games, your memory of each game will heavily determine your enjoyment for the first few hours with the game. Here’s why. If you don’t remember that you can’t run or dual wield in the original Halo and you try to, odds are you’re going to get killed by those that do remember, and the same is true for all the other games. You really need to relearn your Halo history because gameplay changes with each new map you play. This can be highly frustrating at first, but you will overcome it in time.

Halo MCC4The Ugly:

By far the worst aspect, and one that completely ruins the package, is the matchmaking. To say it’s broken would be an understatement. When I played Halo 2 on the original Xbox I could get into a match within seconds. Here, you can wait for minutes, hours, or forever and never get into a match. Even worse once you finally do manage to get into a match, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to during the next session. Considering so many people buy this franchise for the multiplayer, I consider this a huge disservice to the fans. 343 Industries promises fixes will be coming, but as of launch the online component is severely lacking and that’s inexcusable for a game of this caliber.

Halo MCC5The Lowdown:

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a brilliant collection of four excellent games, however it feels only half complete as of launch. Will patches get released to fix the problems, I have no doubt, and the odds are that by the time you watch or read this review those changes may already be here, but I can only review what I had access to and during that time it’s clear this game needed far more time in the oven. It was rushed to market for the holiday shopping season, and that’s a real unacceptable. If you’re in this for the online component, you’re better off waiting until the game has been patched to perfection. If you want to experience the four campaigns again, then go ahead and give this one a purchase as it’s an easy recommend for the campaigns alone. As a complete package though, I can’t help but feel highly let down. I can’t believe this game was allowed to go out the door in the state it did.

Final Score: 6.5/10

 

Sunset Overdrive Review

Sunset OverdriveSunset Overdrive (Available exclusively on Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: October 28th, 2014

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Sunset Overdrive M for mature because of blood and gore, sexual themes, strong language, and drug and alcohol use. I know what you’re thinking, this is another one of those Grand Theft Auto clones that is super realistic, but it’s actually not at all. Sure it’s a bit vulgar, but the blood is cartoonish, and the whole game doesn’t take itself seriously whatsoever. In fact this is a game that looks like it would have come from SEGA back when they were still in the hardware race. It’s a mix of GTA meets Jet Grind Radio. It’s silly, insane, and damn fun, but it also features enough mature content that I can easily recommend you don’t allow children near the game, no matter how colorful its exterior might be.

Plays Like: Imagine an open world that’s bright and colorful like a Mario or Sonic game, features the maturity of a Ratchet and Clank game, and is just about as fun as you can imagine, and you have yourself Sunset Overdrive. The game is broken up like GTA, so you can expect a wide assortment of missions, however the world in which the game takes place is completely silly and ridiculous. You can grind on rails all over the city, scale buildings with ease, and perform all kinds of insane acrobatic maneuvers which almost always propel you into the air, or keep you moving. That’s what makes Sunset Overdrive so unique, it wants you to always stay moving, and will do everything in its power to ensure you do just that. It’s a hell of a good time.

Review Basis: Finished the single player campaign, and tried my hand at the cooperative online multiplayer mode.

When Insomniac Games first announced Sunset Overdrive I didn’t really know what to expect. These are the guys behind the now legendary Ratchet and Clank series, but haven’t worked on a brand new IP in a long time. Would this be another game people would flock to, or would it end up being like Resistance, a good game that just never really took off for whatever reason. Looking back I can firmly say this is going to be one of those Xbox One titles that people are going to talk about ten years from now because of just how much fun it is to play. The humor the studio is known for remains razor sharp, and the incredible weapons Insomniac developed for the Ratchet and Clank series are actually improved upon in some fashion here. I never expected to enjoy Sunset Overdrive as much as I did, and because of that it has ended up becoming one of my absolute best games of 2014, and a very good reason why you should own an Xbox One.

Sunset Overdrive1The Great:

Sunset City rules! One of the biggest problems I have with most open world videogames is that they’re far too realistic. The colors are almost always muted, or shades of browns and greys, but here everything is brimming with color. The graphics are also exceptional, making Sunset Overdrive one of the absolute best looking games currently available on the Xbox One. The fact that the city is so interactive is also a blessing because you can use the city as a massive jungle gym, taking out hundreds of thousands of monsters, all while grinding, flipping, and jumping to and from buildings, cars, electrical wires, and everything else you can imagine. All of this while rocking a constant framerate. The city is so inviting that you’ll be coming back to play another hour whenever you have a chance.

Sunset Overdrive2The Good:

  • The upgrade system is also enjoyable to mess around with. There are these special Amps which allow you to grant special powers to not only your body, but weapons as well. The more stylish you zip around the city, the quicker you’ll increase your special meter. This is what allows you to use those powerful Amp attacks. If you want to find new ones, you’ll have to head out into the open city and locate a wide assortment of goodies which can then be used to create new Amps. This is made much easier if you purchase in-game maps which show you where all the items are hidden.
  • Speaking of weapons, they’re awesome. Think Ratchet and Clank awesome! These things are completely ridiculous. You have access to a wide assortment of makeshift weapons like the bowling ball cannon, or the explosive teddy bear launcher, and so much more. This is insomniac so you know you’re in for a real treat in the weapons department.
  • The boss fights are great, and offer up some of the best moments in the entire game, but you’ll have to discover those for yourself.
  • Chaos Squad is an 8-player cooperative horde-like mode that offers up hours of fun because you all have the freedom offered in the single player version. The one downside, and it’s quite a big one, is that this mode doesn’t scale with the number of players in your group. So if you’re only four, you’ll find the challenges almost impossible.
  • What holds this wild and crazy universe together, is an equally ridiculous story, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fizzco, an energy drink maker, has accidently poisoned all the citizens of Sunset City with their latest beverage. One minute you’re taking out the trash, being totally disrespected, the next you’re a one-man war-machine destroying everything in your path.
  • One of the best features that I didn’t even think I would like is having the ability to recreate your character whenever you want. Normally the character you create when the game begins is the one you finish the game with, but here you can customize your sex, size, and features whenever you feel like a change. It works perfectly with the theme that anything goes in this open world.
  • Cast of characters are fantastic. While you make your escape from the city, you stumble onto a wide assortment of support characters who are all part of factions. Each faction has a specific theme, like the preps, the nerds, etc. Sure these groups are stereotypical, however key characters will often call out these stereotypes during cutscenes, which I found absolutely hilarious. The voice actors who voice all these support characters clearly had a fun time with the dialogue as they’re all immediately likeable.

Sunset Overdrive3The So-So:

+/- While Sunset City beckons you to scale its largest buildings, and to jump on every single car and object you can see, when you do stand still you’re punished for it. You see enemies are all over the place and so long as you keep moving you’ll easily be able to pick them off one at a time, or a dozen at a time. The thing is, sometimes you’re ‘regular game’ instincts kick in, where you’re surrounded by enemies and you feel you should stand your ground and fight. Doing so will cut your life short, as the whole game was built around the concept of action in motion. Some might not enjoy being forced to keep moving, although to be fair I’d be really surprised to hear that because of how much fun it is to use the city as a mean’s of transportation.

+/- When you first start the game out, don’t be put off by the limited mission variety. As you progress the missions start to get diverse, but it does take time. Be warned!

Sunset Overdrive4The Bad:

  • One of the only gripes I have with Sunset Overdrive is that there isn’t a standard co-op mode. I know at least one friend that would have had an absolute blast playing through this game with me, but sadly only Chaos Squad is open for cooperative play.

Sunset Overdrive5The Lowdown:

Sunset Overdrive is a fantastic game, one of the best of 2014, and probably the best on the Xbox One right now. It’s an exclusive to be proud of, it’s a brand new IP, features great single player action, has an addictive cooperative horde mode, and isn’t afraid to be over the top. If you enjoy ridiculous games, great weapons, and clever stage design, I would highly recommend you give this one a go.

Final Score: 9/10

Disney Infinity 2.0 Giveaway!

Update (December 26th, 2014 – SegaCDUniverse was the lucky winner!

If you want to be entered in the contest, just let us know what your favorite thing Disney is, and you’ll automatically have a chance to win this stunning Disney Infinity 2.0 Toy Box Starter Pack, which was kindly sent to us from Disney Interactive.

Good luck everyone!

Deadly Odds Book Review

Deadly OddsDeadly Odds

Author: Allen Wyler
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Formats Available: Paperback, Digital, and Digital Audio
Release Date: November 7th, 2014

It’s not every day I get asked to review a novel, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped on it. I frequently sit down and enjoy a good book when I’m not working on reviews or features for the site. The book in question, Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler, was offered up for review, and the least I could do was write a few words about what I thought about this suspense thriller.

Arnold Gold is a young computer genius out buying a pizza, he comes home, hears his best friend scream RUN, a gun-shot rings out, and his life is changed forever. It wasn’t always like this for Arnold, a short time ago he wanted nothing more than to learn the secrets to what women want in a man. His friend suggested he take a trip to Vegas, hire an escort, and learn everything he could about both the physical and mental desires of women that Arnold so desperately struggled to communicate with. Only one slight problem, along the way Arnold slips up and tells his beautiful escort that he just so happens to have a program that can analyze all sorts of data and predict outcomes. Under normal circumstances that might not be a problem, only this escort isn’t your ordinary escort, she has terrorist ties, and what follows is an incredible game of cat and mouse, as you try and piece together how Arnold can possibly make it out of this horrible situation with not only his live, but without causing irreparable damage to the country he loves.

The characterization is absolutely top notch, and the book is very well written, with the one exception being some repetition in the form of the technical explanation. Often times Wyler feels the need to repeatedly explain why Arnold is using Darknet or other programs like T.O.R. It’s interesting the first time, but a little annoying afterwards. Outside that though, the book is well paced, well written, and absolutely entertaining. If you enjoy a nice read that will keep you glued to the page until the very end, give Dead Odds a glance.

Deadly Odds is currently available on Amazon.com

Far Cry 4 Review

Far Cry 4 ReviewFar Cry 4 (Available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 10
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 18th, 2014

Parent Talk: This is a viscous game, both in its narrative and in the acts of violence depicted. From slicing someone’s throat, to seeing people get tortured at every turn, this isn’t a game for the faint of heart. It features drug use, alcohol, and strong language and is most certainly the type of game that deserves its M rating. Keep the kids away from this one at all costs.

Plays Like: If you were a fan of Far Cry 3, there’s a good chance you’re going to love this one. You take on the role of Ajay Ghale, and are put to the task of essentially taking on open-world missions for the two co-leaders of the Golden Path, a separatist group that is trying to overthrow the current dictator, Pagan Min. The story takes itself very seriously, but once the more traditional open-world side missions open up, things become far sillier. Most open world games these days follow a specific path, you can tackle a wide assortment of crazy and wild side quests, or focus on the main storyline. The same is true in this first-person action romp.

Review Basis: Finished the main storyline, and tried my hand at all the various side quests and activities offered.

Far Cry 4 is wild, it’s crazy, it takes itself too seriously at times, but above all else, it is a really enjoyable game to play, so long as you enjoy open-world games. There’s nothing quite like barging into an enemy camp, on top of an elephant, and throwing grenades all over the place. It’s sheer chaos, and yes it’s often hard to take anything the game throws at you too seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the fictitious Himalayan province of Kyrat.

FC1The Great:

If I had to say what I enjoyed the most with Far Cry 4, it would have to be the co-op mode. This game is crazy enough playing by yourself, but grab a friend, or a complete stranger and prepare to go all out bat shit crazy. You can have one player fly the gyrocopter, while the other swings off it with a grabbling hook picking off enemies. You can purposely rush enemies while both players are riding elephants, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. To say you feel like a total bad ass would be an understatement. It’s completely ridiculous, and that’s most likely why it’s just so much fun to play.

FC2The Good:

  • While the narrative takes itself too serious, I did find the tale to be a solid one. You play as Ajay Ghale, on a quest to scatter your mother’s ashes in some unknown area of Kyrat, a fictitious Himalayan province. Once you arrive things go downhill quickly as you’re forced to watch a madman named Pagan Min do unspeakable things.   As the story progresses Ajay finds himself choosing between two co-leaders of The Golden Path, a separatist group trying to bring balance to Kyrat. Do you go the more technical route and support Amita, or do you always put out fires by supporting Sabal? While these elements were great, sadly the antagonist was severely underused and that’s a crying shame because he had so much potential.
  • Great activities and mission variety. One moment you’re trying to get to the top of a giant radio tower, which acts almost like a platforming puzzle game, and the next you’re taking down wave after wave of enemies trying to liberate an outpost. There are racing activities, you can attempt to escort munitions to The Golden Path, and then there are the actual story missions which vary just as much as the side missions do.
  • Everything about Far Cry 4 is about causing chaos to ensue, and this couldn’t be more evident by the animal luring and elephant riding. If you’re sneaking up on a group of enemies, you can lob what amounts to animal guts at your enemies, which will lure in a vicious bear, tiger, or some other predator to make short work of Pagan’s forces. If that’s not really your style, why not hop on an elephant and ram the outpost to hell, all while spraying enemies with bullets.
  • The player progression system in place is deep and rewarding. As you complete more and more missions and activities you earn experience which will eventually grant you skill points which can be used to upgrade your core abilities. Things like having an extra life bar, being able to reload while running, and standard FPS-fair are all featured here, and act as an excuse to tackle just one more mission before bed.
  • 5v5 competitive multiplayer is a blast to play because it features so many aspects of what makes the open world gameplay in the main campaign so much fun to play. The two opposing factions are quite different, one featuring supernatural elements such as invisibility, and the other using the more traditional guns, explosives, etc. Combining these two groups with the open world elements from the main campaign was surprisingly fresh and exciting, no matter which objective the game throws at you.
  • The audio visual presentation is certainly worthy of the next-gen moniker. The environments are beautiful, and well-populated, and the character animations are great. At times there are a few scenes that are a little rough around the edges, but for the most part this is a great looking first-year title for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Naturally if you have a powerful PC you can really make this game look stunningly beautiful. The audio fits the bill perfectly, although I absolutely detested the radio announcer. I didn’t find he added anything to the narrative, and wasn’t funny at all. The soundtrack matched the setting perfectly, feeling majestic and mysterious at times, and pulse pounding and energetic at others.

FC3The So-So:

+/- Is there such a thing as too many things to do in a game? Picture thing, a giant map with about two dozen radio towers on it. You know that if you liberate those towers you’ll unlock new activities, and new areas to explore. So you start to do that, you manage to liberate one of the towers and purchase several maps which show the locations of treasure troves, posters, and much, much more. Suddenly your map has about 100 different icons on it, and that’s all from just one tower. Now imagine what happens when you start unlocking more towers. Before too long I found myself a little overwhelmed by how much stuff there is to do in the game. This is all on top of the interesting story missions, the hunting missions that you’ll set yourself on in order to craft items of great use such as a much larger bag for holding skins, loot, and ammo. It’s very easy to get distracted, and it feels like Ubisoft was purposely going out of their way to jam as much as they possibly could in the limited real-estate available. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on you.

FC4The Bad:

  • Far Cry 4 feels an awful lot like many of Ubisoft’s other big games such as the Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs franchises. It’s all starting to blend together into one big giant ‘been there, done that’ mess. This is still a fun game, but Ubisoft is going to have to be careful not to overdo it. I can very easily see all of their big franchises collapse under the mighty weight of each other if each of these series receives yearly iterations.

FC5The Lowdown:

Far Cry 4 borrows a lot from Far Cry 3, and like I mentioned just above, Ubisoft will have to be careful how to proceed from here. It’s one thing to have three great franchises, but something else entirely when all three start becoming a bit too alike. Right now Far Cry 4 is a ridiculous game that is so much fun to play, however it can also be a bit daunting when you realize just how much stuff there is to do in this massive open world. If you’re looking for a videogame that you can invest dozens of hours into, this will most certainly scratch that particular itch. If you’re hoping for next innovative franchise that breaks the mold, this isn’t going to shock or amaze you. What it does it does well, it just doesn’t do anything particularly new.

Final Score: 8/10

Freedom Wars Review

Freedom WarsFreedom Wars (Available exclusively for the PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Action
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: SCE Japan Studio, Shift, and Dimps
Release Date: October 28th, 2014

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Freedom Wars T for teen because of blood, mild suggestive themes, and violence. It’s not overly gory, but you’re challenged with taking down giant robot-like enemies with all manner of weapons.   The story also touches on some mature themes so the teen rating is just about spot on.

Plays Like: Freedom Wars is an interesting game, it plays similarly to Monster Hunter in that you have a wide array of weapons at your disposal, there are tons of resource gathering, and how you complete each mission is entirely up to you. You can charge in using nothing but projectile weapons, or you can get up close and personal and deliver striking melee attacks. The freedom offered is extremely impressive, and over time you will develop your own play style. Missions take typical shooter fair and mix things up just enough to give the game its own distinct flare. You typically have to rescue captives from giant Abductors (mech-like robots), but sometimes you’re pitted against another team which plays out more like a team deathmatch. There’s a ton of mission variety, but we’ll discuss that in further below.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign using both the AI and real-life cooperative teammates.

Freedom Wars is one of the best PlayStation Vita games to come along in a while. The fact it’s an original game makes it even more impressive. It’s a perfect pick-up and play game, but also has the chops to keep you glued to your Vita for hours on end. If you’re a fan of Monster Hunter or Soul Sacrifice, you’ll love this game. From the incredible game world that pulls you in with each and every aspect of the game, to the great weapon and combat system, Freedom Wars absolutely shocked me with how much fun it is to play. If you haven’t played a Vita game in a while, this is one to look into.

The Great:

I’ve played a lot of games over the years, but very few have pulled me into their game world like Freedom Wars did. Everything about the game makes you want to know more about this unique world. First off, you play as a Sinner, basically someone that has been imprisoned for being a worthless drain on society. Because you’re so useless, you’re sentence is a small one, a million years of forced voluntary military service. I love the way the game continuously reminds you of just how useless you really are, and how you’re ‘volunteering’ for everything, even though you have absolutely no choice. Completing missions will slowly decrease your sentence, but until you’ve earned enough money the restrictions placed upon you are hilarious. You’re not allowed to pace more than five steps in your cell or else you’ll be charged with another decade of imprisonment. Want to go to sleep, no problem, but you can’t lie down. These seemingly ridiculous restrictions play into this insane world perfectly, and help flesh out the Entitlement system which eventually allows you to fast-travel, change your characters clothes, and more. You will eventually your stay more habitual, but it’ll take a while before you’re truly free.

The core gameplay also plays into this unique theme perfectly. Each Panopticon, which is essentially a city, is represented by a group of Sinners. I selected Los Angeles because Montreal wasn’t an option. For shame! The more missions you complete, you not only reduce your imprisonment, but you gain notoriety for your Panopticon. There are 50 in the game, and these act almost like leaderboards. The higher your placement, the better rewards you get for in-game events. It gives a true sense of belonging to this messed up world. One important way to improve your Panopticon is to steal citizens and resources from rival cities. There are giant mech-like machines all over the place called Abductors, and you’re constantly charged with bringing these giants down in order to snatch the civilian inside. Once you have the person, you make a break for the closest transport tube. Securing these people will raise your Panopticon’s rating, lower your rivals, and again, lower your sentence.

The Good:

  • Weapons are a joy to use and you’re gameplay style will directly alter the way you play the game. Let’s say you want to focus on melee combat, well that’s an option, select all the weapons that fit your fighting style and you’re all set. The same is true for projectile attacks. Each weapon feels genuinely unique, and no two players will play the game exactly the same.
  • The Thorn, is a grabbling beam of sorts, which you can use to propel yourself to high up platforms, but can also be used as a weapon. You can latch on to the Abductors to slash away at their armor, you can pull them to the group for a team attack, and more. What’s interesting with the Thorn is that there are three distinct types, one for healing, one for traps and barricades, and one for grabbles. Yet again your play style will determine which variation you use most often. The Thorn also gives the game an incredibly fast-paced feel because at any moment you can zip along the side of a building, you can pull enemies off platforms, propel yourself to a specific target, and so much more.
  • There’s also a great variety of missions. While the bulk are about you rescuing captured civilians, you will also experience unique takes on capture the flag, king of the hill, and more, but all wrapped around the citizen rescue theme. For example there might be a mission where you and an Abductor are racing towards a runaway civilian. Your goal is to grab the person, and race towards the rescue tube before the Abductor can stop you, therein lies your capture the flag game. I adored the way the game played on this classic gaming conventions.
  • Team-based gameplay rocks whether or not you have real friends in your party. Every mission you go on is a group affair. Your teammates will typically follow your lead, so if you bring down an Abductor, they’ll do all in their power to finish it off. You’ll have a great time if you decide to bring some friends into the mix because only by working together can you effectively take down three or four Abductors at once. Doing so is a huge reward too.
  • Full PlayStation TV support. Being the very first Vita game I’ve played from beginning to end on my new PS TV was a delight. Using a DualShock 4 proved a perfect way to play the game. It controlled flawlessly, and looked beautiful upscaled to 720p.
  • While on the subject of graphics, the game looks extremely detailed. It’s amazing how much juice the Vita actually has under the hood. There’s great use of color, the environments look wonderful, and the action is always rock-solid, with the frame-rate being constant throughout.
  • The soundtrack is fast-paced to match the action, and die-hards will be happy to hear that the original Japanese voice acting remains in-tact. Some serious production values went into the development of this game.

The So-So:

+/- The story is alright. It’s a shame too because the game world is so perfectly tied to the gameplay and overall theme that you would think the story would fit just as well, but it doesn’t. It ends up slowing things down, forcing you to walk around and listen to dialogue. There’s a ton of lore here too, but I found myself constantly skipping the dialogue sequences just to get on to the next mission because the gameplay is so much more entertaining.

+/- The camera lock-on mechanic takes a little getting used to. You can tap it on or off, but that’s not the issue, the issue comes in when you’re locked on a target and move too close to said enemy. Suddenly the camera is turning and spinning out of control all over the place.

+/- There’s an overly complex crafting system here that yields random results. Over the course of the game you’ll acquire massive amounts of supplies, however you’re only ever going to use a handful of weapons so there’s very little need for all the resources at your disposal. I think a reworked crafting system would have added even more to an already impressive package.

The Lowdown:

Being Japan’s number one selling new IP on the Vita, and a Monster Hunter clone Vita owners can be proud to call their own, it’s a sure bet Freedom Wars will get a sequel sometime next year. With any luck the developers can fix some of the minor complaints I raised here and deliver the Vita’s true killer app. I also hope that game reaches Western shores as well because this is a game that truly surprised me by how deep and genuinely enjoyable it is. If you own a PlayStation Vita, do yourself a huge favor and check out Freedom Wars.

Final Score: 8.8/10

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

SSBSuper Smash Bros. for Wii U (Available exclusively on Wii U)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Sora Ltd, Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: November 21st, 2014

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Super Smash Bros. for Wii U E10+ for everyone ten and up. The game features cartoon violence, and that’s about it. It’s a bright, colorful, and fun fighter. There are no realistic depictions violence in the traditional sense. Here you can bash your opponents with a giant mallet, you can throw them off a massive arena, or you can blast them with a wide assortment of wacky power-ups. Imagine if Super Mario Bros., Zelda, and all the other classic Nintendo franchises got together and asked one simple question, which one of us is the best fighter out there? That’s what you can expect from this wonderful game.

Plays Like: Normally I would say it plays like all the other Smash Bros. games, but the truth is that I have virtually no experience with the series outside the 3DS version. So what I will say is that the game features a wide assortment of side modes, a robust single player offering, great Amiibo integration, and a kick ass online mode. The core gameplay requires you to throw your opponent off the screen, by any means necessary.

Review Basis: I played all the various modes available, spent far too much time training Amiibo characters, and got my butt handed to me in more online matches than I would care to admit. I am by no means a master player, but I will proudly say that I’ve come to appreciate the series in a whole new way thanks to this excellent fighter.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a fantastic game that features a wealth of side modes, Amiibo integration, and great single and multiplayer modes. If you have to purchase one Wii U game this holiday season, this is the one you want to pick up. There are so many different modes available that it often feels like you’re purchasing more than one game. Couple that with the great Amiibo figures and you could very well spend the next year with no other game than this one. The fighting system in place is great, and over time you can master each characters’ move set, and attain pitch perfect timing.

SSB4The Great:

Value. That’s the one word that comes to mind when I look back at all the different gameplay modes available. From the classic mode, to the online ranked mode, and everything in-between there is something here for literally everyone. There are now 8-player battles, there’s a cool spin on Mario Party, and then there’s the Smash mode where most of you will be spending the bulk of your time. That’s where you and your friends can learn to master each of the dozens of characters available. When you combine all of these elements together, it’s incredible just how much value there is in this one game.

SSB2The Good:

  • The Perfect example of easy to pick-up and play, but tough to master. Each character has the exact same button commands. Don’t expect circular fireball moves here, no instead the moves are incredibly simplistic. Press a direction and a button, and that’s it. You have two primary attacks, a block and a grapple. That’s all she wrote. What changes with each character are their unique abilities. While up and A might be an uppercut for one character, it might be something completely different for another, perhaps an up-strike for Link, or a cape sweep for Mario. Then there are projectile-based characters which use the same basic commands, but control completely different than everyone else. The timing is also slightly different for each character. What ends up happening is, you’ll find a character you enjoy using, and spend the next few weeks mastering all their finer details, and that’s what makes this game so bloody special.
  • Respecting your heritage. One of the absolute best aspects of Smash for Wii U is how the game pays homage to all the franchises that came before it. From Duck Hunt to Sonic the Hedgehog every stage, theme song, bonus item, and character move set is inspired by some legendary game, series, or franchise. I absolutely loved that. It was amazing to hear so many classic songs with modern twists to them. If you’ve been playing on Nintendo-made consoles since you were little, this is going to tickle your nostalgia bone.

  • Options galore. First off, you can play the game any way you want. From using the GameCube controller with the newly released adapter, the GamePad or the Wii U Classic Controller, the choice is yours. Then there’s the fights themselves. Do you go one-on-one with items off to test your skill, or do you go item on and 8-players for complete chaos? I adored how every aspect of the game has tons of choices available for you to tweak.

  • Event, classic, special orders, All-Star, and the board-game like Smash Tour all offer up their unique takes on the classic action. Some give you specific challenges, whereas others drop random elements into the fights and have you duke it out. Whatever you decide to play, each gameplay mode offers fun in short bursts. If you want to play for hours on end, odds are you’ll find yourself going between the different gameplay modes, while spending the bulk of your time refining your skills online.

  • Speaking of online, there are a nice set of online modes. From ranked modes that keep tally on your wins and losses, to the free-for-all, you can select between one-on-one matches, team matches, and more. The awesome eight-player matches are local only though, which is a bit unfortunate because those matches are completely insane.

  • Beautiful at 60 fps. This is a technical showpiece for the Wii U. During all of the different gameplay modes and matches I played, I never noticed any dip in the framerate. Keep in mind it’s entirely possible that I haven’t experienced every single aspect of the game, and I actually believe I haven’t as there’s just so much. That said, the attention to detail in the environments, and the stunning framerate make this a silky smooth experience you’ll want to come back to time and time again.

  • The audio is also fantastic. While some of these music scores might be recycled from previous games, they all sound amazing. I absolutely loved going to each new stage to hear familiar tunes from the Zelda franchise. That’s my favorite after all, so it holds a special place in my heart. The others were equally as impressive though.

  • I didn’t expect to enjoy the Amiibo integration as much as I did. From spending time to level my figures to 50, to using them against my opponents, I’d say the Amiibo figures are going to sell quite well. I love that I can bring them over to a friend’s house and tackle his team with mine. It’s excellent. There are several ways you can train and customize your Amiibo fighters too, which adds some much needed depth to an otherwise simple concept.

SSB3The So-So:

+/- The arena builder isn’t as intuitive as it should be for being on a system with a touch screen controller. Simple omissions like not being able to create a platform and then move it without having to erase and start over are major oversights. I also found the whole system to be overly cumbersome. It’s a shame too because that really could have been a huge time sink for some, but now I see it being more of a novelty.

+/- I played quite a few matches online and if I knew who I was playing the matches were always spot-on with no lag, however if I played random matches they were a hit and miss. Most, I’d say around 85% were fantastic, however every now and then I would disconnect. Since there is no way to see the connection strength of your opponents, I can foresee this being a problem moving forward. The fact most of the game runs smoothly is a great sign, but hopefully some tweaks will be made to inch that number closer to 100%.

SSB1The Bad:

  • I find it a little silly that in 2014 I still have to text a friend to tell him I want to play a game with him online, since there’s no notification system. Once we’re both online everything else is a breeze, and works perfectly, but the fact I can’t just send an invite and he gets it in whatever game he happens to be playing is kind of sad.

The Lowdown:

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a fantastic game, probably the best currently available on the Wii U considering all the value you get in this one package. Couple that with the prospect of potential downloadable content later on, Amiibo integration, and the robust gameplay modes already available and you can see why the Wii U should have a very successful holiday season. If you own a Wii U, this is one game you should have in your system as of right now, and if you don’t own a Wii U, what the heck are you waiting for? With Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, and now this, plus the awesome Virtual Console offerings, there is something here for gamers of all ages.

Final Score: 9.6/10

The Evil Within Review

Evil Within ReviewThe Evil Within (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Release Date: October 14th, 2014

Parent Talk: The Evil Within is rated M for mature (ages 17+) because of blood, gore, intense violence, and strong language. Often the game feels like something you’d expect if you went to see the latest Saw movie. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is one gruesome game. You can cut off the heads of your enemies, you can burn bodies, and so much more. If you’re even a little squeamish, this isn’t a game for you.

Plays Like: As any good survival horror game, The Evil Within forces players to use their surroundings intelligently, scavenge for supplies, and conserve ammo wherever possible. Some areas force stealth, while others are all out action segments. There’s a great balance of creepy moments, tense cutscenes, and fantastic combat in this third person extravaganza.

Review Basis: Completed the campaign.

When Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami left Capcom I was really saddened by the news. This was the man who gave us Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, and the much beloved Resident Evil 4 and RE Remake on the GameCube. He was also responsible for many other classic Capcom games, but those four set a certain pedigree that Capcom has yet to surpass in the survival horror genre. I had always hoped that maybe one day he would return to the Resident Evil universe and deliver another masterpiece, but when he left Capcom I knew that was never going to happen. Fast forward a short time later and he announced his new game studio, Tango Gameworks, were developing a brand new survival horror game. While it wasn’t Resident Evil, my expectations were extremely high. This is Shinji Mikami we’re talking about here! So was he able to strike gold, or has he been away from the genre for too long? Let’s find out.

The Great:

If I had to pick one aspect where The Evil Within really shines, it would have to be in its atmosphere and tension. While I never found myself sitting in a corner crying for mommy, that honor goes to Alien: Isolation, I did find the sense of tension to be at an all-time high for many parts of the game. The attention to detail in the environments and the settings are ultimately what do it. You always feel uneasy because while you know something is out there, you never know exactly where. The fact the game is a physiological thriller as much as it is an intense action game, only adds to the stress. This is a game where walls disappear before your eyes, where enemies can materialize out of thin air, and where you’re lost more so than you realize.

There’s one section that sums up The Evil Within perfectly, and it’s from fairly early on in the game. There’s a section where you have to pass through a short hallway where a series of hospital beds are lining both sides of the walls. The lights are mostly broken, except for one off in the distance that is flickering, so barely anything is illuminated. You can see there’s something slowly walking back and forth towards the exit. As you slowly make your way towards the enemy, you realize that all of the beds have bodies on them, there’s blood on the floor and ceiling, and you accidently hit something on a table in front of you. You spin the camera around to see that one enemy rushing towards you, so you pull out your gun, which only has three bullets left in it. You take the shot, killing the enemy, but suddenly you hear grumbling, and notice movement. Those bodies on the beds are all moving, and they’re all heading straight towards you!

The Good:

  • The combat system is rock solid. You can tell this is a Mikami-san game. While using the shotgun, sniper rifle, or handgun, you get a real sense of power. The problem is that ammo is so hard to come by. You want to make every shot count, and thankfully you can do just that because the controls are spot on. There’s also a stealth mechanic, where you can sneak up on unsuspecting enemies for an instant kill. The environments can also be used to your advantage, where you can lure enemies into bear traps, explosives, and more. What happens when all of these elements are thrust upon you, choice! There’s nothing like taking out a group of enemies with a well-placed explosive bolt from your crossbow when you only had one bolt left, or getting that perfect stealth kill when you were surrounded by enemies. It’s moments like these that make you feel like a bad ass, and that’s awesome.
  • Much like the Resident Evil remake on the Nintendo GameCube, The Evil Within features enemies that can resurrect themselves after they’ve been downed by the player. The old ‘burn the corpse’ mechanic from that legendary game returns here, and you’ll want to burn all the bodies you come upon, especially later on in the game. Not only does this give you peace of mind, but you also have the chance to gain additional supplies from the burnt corpses.
  • Simple crafting system. While you scour the environment for ammo and syringes to heal yourself, odds are you’ll also stumble onto several parts. These can be used to craft ammo for the Agony Crossbow. You can freeze, explode, electrocute, blind, or craft standard bolts. Not only can you find the parts, but if you dismantle traps you can gain additional crafting supplies. The catch here is that these environmental traps aren’t just there for you to get caught up on, but as I mentioned before you can lure enemies to them. What ends up happening is you start to balance the desire for more ammo for your crossbow, with an easier way to take down enemies. Again, it’s all about the choices you make.
  • Exploration is rewarded. Players who thoroughly explore the various stages will find green ooze which can be used for upgrading your abilities, from extending your health and stamina, to being able to hold more ammo. The progression system in place here is fantastic, and scales perfectly with the rest of the game so you never feel like you’re overpowered. You can also find small statues which, once broken, will reward a small key. These keys can be used to unlock special lockers which grant a wide assortment of awesome goodies.
  • Even though you’re well-armed, don’t expect for this to be a cake walk. You’re going to die, and often, because a simple miscalculation can cause your head to roll. If you want to use stealth, be extremely careful what you bump into. If you want to use more straightforward action, make sure those headshots hit their mark or you’ll find yourself completely surrounded with no ammo to speak of.
  • Speaking of the difficulty, the boss fights are just crazy. Most of these consist of creatures that can down you in one hit, even if you have full health, so you don’t want to screw up! Most fights require you to either use the environments to your advantage, such as when you fight the spider lady, which forces you to use fire against her. Others are more typical fights where you dodge and shoot. Whatever you do, you can expect to die at least a few times, and have an utter blast doing so.
  • The audio visual package is fantastic. I already touched upon how great the tension and atmosphere are, but the graphics and audio go the extra mile and deserve to be singled out. The environments vary quite significantly from a stunningly detailed forest, to a crumbling church, to well…something else entirely. Lighting is superb, especially with the great fire effects. During the night you can see fog in the distance, there are stars twinkling far off in the sky, and there are so many gruesome and disturbing elements from disfigured faces of clowns just hanging on the wall, to bodies ripped apart everywhere. It’s disgustingly beautiful. Audio is used sparingly so as only to give you hints of the trouble ahead, but therein lies the genius. You’ll always hear enemies mumbling, you’ll hear footsteps and other ambient noises, and when trouble comes, the music picks up to keep your adrenaline rushing.

The So-So:

+/- Sadly what starts off kind of intriguing eventually becomes too convoluted for its own good. I found myself not even caring about the story whatsoever towards the end of the game. I just wanted to ‘make it out alive’ as it were. As for the story itself, players take on the role of Sebastian Castellanos, a detective sent in to investigate a series of gruesome murders at a local mental health hospital. From there things go bat-shit crazy as you experience one nightmarish scene after another. What brings the story down is that Sebastian just isn’t an interesting protagonist, and neither are the characters that surround him. I was intrigued to learn about the past residents of the asylum, but never truly cared, and given the constant jumps and flashback sequences, I didn’t feel any remorse over what happened to any of the supporting cast.

+/- The save system is a bit perplexing at times, and perfect at others. Let’s talk about the good first. There is a manual save system where you go back to the main ‘hub’ as I call it. From here you can upgrade your abilities, unlock lockers with the special tiny keys, and save your game. So that works fine, it’s the auto-save feature that leaves something to be desired. For the most part it works just fine, your progress will be saved after lengthy sections of the level, or after key fight scenes. However, there are times where it won’t save your game for what feels like an eternity and should you die, you’ll realize that it really was awhile, thereby forcing you to redo large sections of the level again. It’s bizarre.

+/- Load times aren’t too bad, until you start dying. Once you begin to have to restart over and over, you’ll notice time starts slowing down and load times get longer and longer. The reason for this is that the save system typically places your save directly before a cutscene. Yes you can skip cutscenes, but the fact that you have to go through the process of the cutscene and startup of the battle is what ultimately makes the load times feel longer than what they truly are.

The Bad:

  • There are some anomalies here and there. Some texture pop-in is present, minor clipping issues, and depending on the angle of the camera, shadows can get pixelated to the point they look like early PS2-rendered shadows. These moments don’t occur often, but they’re noticeable when they do.

The Lowdown:

The Evil Within feels like a direct continuation of Resident Evil 4. It shares a lot in common with that masterpiece. It’s tense, atmospheric, and has a great progression and combat system. While the story is mostly forgettable, and I never felt truly scared, overall the experience was an adrenaline ride of disturbing imagery, great survival horror gameplay, and that classic Shinji Mikami formula. If you enjoy more traditional survival horror games with a focus on surviving, The Evil Within won’t disappoint.

Final Score: 8.5/10

 

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