Here it is, my first death in Destiny. Steven will be so proud.
R-Type Dimensions (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Publisher: Tozai, IREM
Developer: Southend Interactive
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Parent Talk: R-Type Dimensions is rated E for everyone by the ESRB, and it’s a fitting rating. Neither R-Type nor R-Type II are overly violent by today’s standards. The games are entirely sprite-based, and colorful. There’s virtually nothing children should find frightening about an old arcade shmup, except for the difficulty.
Plays Like: Both games in this compilation play as you’d expect from the legendary series. You pilot the infamous Arrowhead and try to take out and alien life form. You have control over a force pod which can be thrown out in front of the ship to offer extra protection or firepower. It can also be attached to the rear of the ship. There are a wide assortment of power-ups and weapons, and the famous charge-shot. There’s one thing everyone needs to know about R-Type, it remains one of the most difficult videogames ever created, usually only offering one way to complete each stage.
Review Basis: Played through the Xbox Live Arcade version, and the PSN version.
This reworking of the first two R-Type games is an incredible value. For only $10 you get the two original arcade ports, plus a complete reworking of the two games. This includes an entirely new 3D overhaul and an entirely new audio soundtrack, based on the original tracks of course. To make things even more interesting you can switch back and forth from the originals to the remastered version whenever you want with a simple press of a button. There’s even a ‘slow mo’ button for when the action really heats up and you want to take a little breather. This makes the two legendary arcade games much more approachable to newcomers who would otherwise be put off by the immense difficulty.
+ Accessibility is important, and Southend Interactive, the developer behind this compilation title realized that. Not only can you select to play through the original games in ‘Classic Mode’ with only a handful of lives and having to restart a level upon death, or a new mode which grants infinite lives and the ability to restart exactly where you perished from. If you actually want to complete both games, this is pretty much the only mode you’re likely going to succeed at doing that.
+ Core gameplay has aged perfectly. You have a charge shot, which is extremely powerful, but takes time to charge up, a wide assortment of power-ups such as missiles and different laser cannons and more. The biggest innovation upon its original release was the force pod. This orb-like pod can be attached to either the front or back of your ship, and can be shot out to attack enemies further away from your ship. It also acts as a very important shield.
+ Insanely high difficulty remains in check. The infinite lives mode is likely how most will play through the game, but if you really want a challenge, play through the Classic Mode. It forces you to figure out the one way through each of the levels, and believe me, it’ll take years of practice.
+ The very best way to experience R-Type is with a buddy, and thankfully online and offline modes are supported. If you really have a pair of brass balls, you can actually activate hit detection between the two ships. It makes an already impossible shmup that much harder.
– The only negative comment I can say about Dimensions is that if you only play through the infinite lives mode you can play through both games in about 45 minutes. $10 for 45 might be asking for a lot.
The awesome ability to switch between the original arcade versions and the redux versions are absolutely superb. I can’t tell you how often I found myself flipping back and forth. While I love shooters myself, this one is extremely challenging unless you play on the infinite lives mode, but then there’s no challenge at all. Whether you purchase this one on Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network, it’s certainly a legendary shooter that’s worth checking out.
Final Score: 8/10
SoulCalibur II HD Online (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Project Soul
Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Parent Talk: SoulCalibur II HD Online is rated T for teen because of violence, suggestive themes, and mild language. One look at Taki and you’ll understand why the game’s rated T. She’s wearing a skin tight spandex outfit with no bra. Yup, 13-year old men made this game. Seriously though, it’s rated T because of some of the skimpy outfits, and also because it’s a weapon-based fighter, but there’s no blood or anything like that.
Plays Like: This complex weapon-based fighter is the follow-up to the Dreamcast launch title, SoulCalibur. Prior to this naming convention the series was known as Soul Edge, and wasn’t anywhere near as popular. The game features a killer single-player story mode, as well as the usual assortment of arcade and versus modes. New to this HD remastered version is a competitive online multiplayer mode, but the game retains the same excellent gameplay from the 2003 version.
Review Basis: Namco Bandai sent us a PSN review code, and having played the living hell out of this game upon its initial release in 2003, I simply went through the motions of testing the single player portion, and then headed online and proceeded to get my butt handed to me several times over.
An all-around fantastic remaster. Textures are crisper than ever before, character models look extremely detailed, and to be perfectly honest, if it weren’t for hair physics being improved so much during the PS3/360 era I’m sure a lot of people would have assumed the game was made for those consoles. That’s how much care and attention went into this port. Level design and overall graphic quality has always been one of the strong points of the series, and it’s amazing how well the overall look of the game holds up some ten years after its original release. It’s pretty damn impressive, and when you see it in motion it makes you wonder why more companies don’t invest in HD remakes like this. The audio is equally impressive as the soundtrack and audio effects have all been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sound wonderful.
+ All the superb gameplay modes you remember from the original make their way back. Arcade, versus, training, team battle, time attack, and the phenomenal Weapon Master mode all return. Weapon Master Mode is where you spend the majority of your time in single player and features what would equate to a deep story mode in a modern fighter. You select your character and tackle various objective-based missions. Sometimes it’s beat three characters, sometimes it’s complete a round without blocking, and so on. As you progress you earn points which can then be used to unlock a wide assortment of goodies from additional characters and weapons to costume colors.
+ Gameplay remains as tight as ever. Not much else to say about it.
+ Great touch adding Spawn and Heihachi to the mix, but it would have been great to see Link make an appearance. Obviously that was never going to happen, and no one should have expected it, but it would have made a killer Wii U exclusive had they made a version of the game for that platform.
+/- I appreciate the inclusion of an online mode for die-hard fighting fans, but it’s about as barebones as you can imagine. Featuring only a Ranked and Player match mode, there’s really not much to see. Player match is far too basic to be useful, as if you create a private match, or even a public one, as soon as the fight is over with you are kicked out and placed back on the menu screen. You can’t create a fight list and slowly work your way through it facing multiple friends, one after another. There’s also no spectator mode allowing you to watch other fights. As I said, it’s extremely basic, but at least there’s a way to play online.
+/- Speaking of online play, fighters live and die based on their net code and it’s kind of lukewarm in SC II HD Online. All the online matches I played featured input lag, making parrying impossible, and blocking a real pain. If you’re a casual fan the input lag won’t likely be bothersome, but to the hardcore it could be a deal-breaker.
SoulCalibur II HD Online is a fantastic game for those who loved the original, or are just looking into getting into the series. While I wish the online mode was improved, the core gameplay and overall package remains highly impressive. If you’re into fighting games, this is certainly one to check out for $20.
Final Score: 8/10
Parent Talk: I’ve got no idea how this game scored an E10+ rating as it’s a spaceship shooter based on Defender. Children have been playing 2D arcade shooters since the creation of the genre way back in the early 70s. I would easily allow my children to play this game.
Plays Like: Resogun takes its inspiration from the classic Williams Electronics hit from 1980, Defender. You fly left or right around a cylindrical world, trying to rescue the last humans while taking out all the aliens around you. Simple as that…if only it were simple.
Review Basis: Finished all levels, and played through the game a second time in co-op mode.
Ridiculously simple gameplay that’s insanely challenging to master. Based on the arcade hit Defender, players move their craft around a large cylinder trying to take out the alien armada. Once keepers drop, destroying them will free a human. Your goal is to “save the last humans,” while trying to stay alive yourself. Each stage is broken up into three phases, ending with a boss fight. Rescuing the humans is essential if you want a high score, or if you plan to make it to the end of the stage. When you defeat the keepers a human is released from their cell and you only have a limited amount of time to pick them up before an enemy will take them out. Returning a human to the base nets you either points or an upgrade, such as an extra life, a shield bonus, etc.
Chasing high scores is a large part of the fun and the risk and reward system is always on your mind. If you activate a bomb, which clears the entire screen of enemies you take a good chance at losing your score multiplier since you need to continuously shoot down enemy ships in order to keep the multiplier going. So often bombs are only used as a last resort.
Overdrive is a special blast attack that consumes a tiny green meter located around your ship. As you defeat enemies they explode into hundreds of tiny cubes, and if you collect enough of them you’ll fill your Overdrive meter. The trade-off is that you can’t control the length of the overdrive, in other words once you activate it it’s gone until you fill the meter back up. Another move, the boost is far more important to master as it uses a similar meter, although you can control how long you wish to boost for. While technically a defensive move used for when you’re about to get overrun, the boost actually releases a small explosion once you stop. A good technique is to boost right into oncoming enemies, and watch as they all explode.
Add extremely powerful bosses into the mix, especially in the later levels, and you have one of the very best arcade shooters released in a long time. There’s always a constant risk and reward factor to each element of the gameplay. Do you sacrifice a human so you don’t lose an extra life, or do you take the chance and perhaps get a weapon upgrade in the process?
Things only get more intense when you add a co-op partner to the mix, which I highly recommend you do.
+ By using voxel (also known as 3D cubes) graphics gives the game its own unique look. When you destroy an enemy ship it explodes into millions of tiny cubes. On top of that the particle effects are spectacular whenever enemy ships fire at you, which is all the time. When you combine everything together, from the enemy ships exploding, to bombs being set off, to the particular effects, you’re left with the nicest looking arcade game I’ve ever played.
+ The soundtrack is techno-infused, and fits the setting perfectly. All voice samples play out through the DualShock 4’s internal microphone for a little extra flare. Ship explosions also sound great and there’s lots of bass for those with a good surround sound system.
+ Fun trophy list. Can you rescue two humans within a second of one another? Can you kill 50 enemies using only one boost? I love when developers put time and effort into their trophies because it gives you an incentive to actually try and collect them.
+/- Having only five levels, and three different ships might grate on some people’s nerves. The three ships play quite differently from one another in terms of the weapons they have available, but the limited levels will eventually start to feel similar to one another after a while.
Resogun is my favorite PlayStation 4 game right now. When I purchased my PS4 at launch Resogun, like Contrast was free for PlayStation Plus members. This is an outstanding game for free, and a great game for the asking price of $10. If you own a PS4, this is one you really need to play.
Final Score: 9/10
Parent Talk: rain is touching, sad, yet beautiful all at the same time. Children might be put off by some of the enemies that chase after you while, but there’s nothing overly violent or gory about the game as a whole. Young children will most likely not enjoy the feeling of isolation, and anyone over 10 should be perfectly fine.
Plays Like: rain is an action adventure game that tries to do something new. For the first few stages you’re trying to make your way to a little girl, always one step away from you no matter how close you get. While in the rain your playable character (a little boy) is visible, to both you the player, and to the various creatures that roam the land. If they touch you, it’s game over. The trick is to make use of your environments wisely. If an enemy can see you in the rain, then be sure to hide under sections of the street that have an awning so the rain doesn’t touch you. The goal is to make your way to the next section of the stage without being swallowed by the darkness. It sounds easy, but it gets complex fast. After the third level the game switches gears and plays more like ICO, where you have to work together with the little girl in order to overcome enemies, and other obstacles as you make your way to the stage’s exit.
Review Basis: Sony sent us a review code, and I completed the game.
An incredibly unique world. It often feels like a mixture of ICO and Limbo, because of the setting and overall gameplay. rain takes place in a world that is constantly raining. The only way to see yourself is to walk into the open, and let the rain fall down on you. The problem is monsters can also see you when you’re standing in the rain. In order to bypass them, you need to walk underneath awnings, roofs, or any other area where the rain can’t hit you. Throw in puzzles based around this gameplay mechanic, and a stunning visual style and you have yourself one heck of a creative videogame.
The feeling the game puts off is also impressive. Do you remember being extremely young and walking into a dark basement? Remember that feeling of isolation or dread that slowly crept up inside you? That’s exactly what this game does, it makes you feel like a child who’s trapped in a familiar setting, that’s teeming with dark and strange creatures.
+ Excellent difficulty progression. While the first few stages are extremely simple, mainly acting as a large tutorial, eventually you’re forced to use quick thinking, and multiple skills at the same time. That includes making sure you don’t step in mud, hiding from the rain, pushing blocks so you can reach safe zones and much, much more. Oh and you need to do this all while being chased by the Unknown, a large hulking beast that shares a few resemblances to a teacher, which ties into the feeling of making players feel like children.
+ Gameplay really shines once you hit the forth stage. That’s when you have access to a second character, and much like ICO before it, you have to help each other in order to solve puzzles, and escape enemies. This can include moving a ladder so one character can climb to a higher level, or waiting for your partner to sneak by enemies so you can quietly get by afterwards. Things get really interesting when several mechanics are thrown into the mix while enemies are chasing you both down.
+ Nerve-wracking at times. You might not believe it, but this game can be more creepy than even the scariest Resident Evil game, and that’s because there are several monsters that will follow you wherever you go, and you only have a finite amount of time to solve the puzzle before you and your partner get consumed by darkness.
+ While the eight levels can be completed in around three to four hours, maybe less if you use the hint system, upon finishing the game you can revisit each chapter to try and locate memories.
+ Level and art design are excellent. The way the rain interacts with both kids is wonderful to look at. Rain drips from their silhouettes, there are wet footprints which show which direction you’re walking in when not in the rain, and the overall environments are extremely polished. The way the narrative is presented is superbly stylized. This is one fine-looking videogame.
+ The audio is also very impressive. While there’s no spoken dialogue, the ambient noise is enough to calm you down during thought-provoking puzzles, or drive you up the wall when a giant monster is right on your tail. Composer Yugo Kanno and singer Connie Talbot have crafted an excellent soundtrack to accompany the sound effects. The tracks are somber, sad, and delightful, which fit the mood of each scene perfectly. There’s a lot of piano work here that’s especially memorable.
+/- It can be a little hard to see exactly where you’re going when multiple mechanics are thrown at you at once. For example there are sections of the game where you need to use moving cover in order to hide from enemies all around you. One false step and it’s game over because you’ll be spotted within a second. The problem is that the moving cover doesn’t highlight your wet prints making it extremely difficult to tell if you’re going to overshoot your cover or not. It’s not mechanic that’s used too often, but when it is, it can be problematic.
+/- Some really intelligent gameplay mechanics like the one mentioned above are only featured in one stage in the entire game. While most will be further expanded as the game progress, there are a few puzzle elements that are slowly introduced just for the sake of having them at one particular point in time, and then never used again.
+/- Fixed camera angles are also problematic over time. 90% of the time they work perfectly and offer some stunning views of the action, but the other 10% twist and turn or cut too soon and will cause you to either run off a roof, or walk directly into an enemy you didn’t even know was there.
– Hand-holding to the extreme. Die three times and the solution is presented to you. Wait around for a few minutes and the same thing happens. Sure you don’t have to hit the ‘Select’ button, but the fact that the solution shows up so quickly is annoying. It encourages people to simply ‘cheat’ their way through the game instead of using their brain to try and figure out the solutions for themselves. Sadly the hints cannot be turned off.
You will learn to hate the Unknown monster. He clearly represents a teacher, as he sticks his finger out scanning for your footsteps, and it reminds me of a teacher scolding a kid in class with their finger. If he spots you he’s almost impossible to lose, and will surely catch up to you. It makes for some truly intense moments, and if someone like Steven were to play this, you’d hear his screams miles away.
rain is a very refreshing game. While it has a few problems that keep it from achieving the same milestones that some of the other big heavy hitters on the PSN have, it’s originality help make it a title you should check out. The biggest problem is clearly the hint system, and the fact certain gameplay elements don’t seem to evolve over time, but the environments, the soundtrack, and feeling of isolation all come together to make rain a truly unique experience. If you enjoyed ICO or are simply looking for something a bit different, you can’t go wrong with rain.
Final Score: 7.5/10
Parent Talk: Like all the games in the series, this one has been rated M (17+) for mature because of blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, and sexual content. It’s one of the most gory and adult-themed games on the market and shouldn’t be played by anyone under the recommended age group.
Plays Like: God of War Ascension marks Kratos’ sixth adventure (seven if you include the mobile-only Betrayal) and it’s safe to say that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. The series features a mix of intense action, focused on a variety of simple button combinations and clever puzzles. The epic scale and fury is what keeps players constantly coming back for more.
Review Basis: Finished the single player campaign and tried my hand at the new multiplayer mode.
Let’s all admit one thing right here and now. The God of War series is an incredible franchise, only problem is that it had a very clear path. Kratos wanted revenge for the death of his family, and he got his revenge by killing off countless gods of Olympus. So what’s a world renown publisher to do with their multimillion selling series when it’s run its course? Figure out a way to squeeze more milk out of it. The end result is a game that while technically impressive and a joy to play through simply isn’t as exciting or invigorating as the previous entries in the series.
As is almost always the case with this series, the absolute best element in Ascension is the incredible sense of scale. Kratos is only a man, a man in a world of stunningly impressive structures. From statues the size of mountains to enemies that can destroy cities, there’s nothing this game won’t throw at you. Traversing vast environments are always the biggest highlight this series provides, and this one is no different.
+ The same excellent combat returns, including the super violence beheadings, dismemberments and more. The classic quick time button events are also back, although they aren’t used quite as often as before.
+ Quick time events aren’t the only means to obliterate your foes. A new system allows players the freedom to go to town as they see fit, only focusing on dodging instead of a series of button presses. By dodging an attack enough time and keeping up your constant flurry of attack, you can perform a super move which rips your enemy in half, or some other pleasant way of dealing with them.
+ As players progress through the game more difficult battles will challenge their ability to keep up a steady combo rotation, as well as master dodging. Some enemies will force players to use different elemental attacks, such as to stun an enemy before their weak-spot opens up for attack.
+ New secondary weapon system allows Kratos to use weapons he finds scattered all over the world. These weapons change his play style dramatically and allow players to mix and match different techniques to the standard Blades of Chaos.
+ Puzzles return, and while they start off relatively easy, they eventually become true brain teasers. The ratio of puzzles to action set pieces feels much more refined this time around, and I never felt the pacing was suffering as a result of trying to solve a puzzle.
+ The audio visual presentation is absolutely outstanding. From an incredible soundtrack, to killer voice acting and great special effects to one of the best visual experiences you can have on the PS3, Ascension is a joy to the senses.
+/- The story takes place 10 years before the events of the original God of War, and provides a change of pace for the Ghost of Sparta. The problem with that is his rage has yet to be fueled and as such just isn’t as interesting a character as you remember him to be.
+/- The multiplayer mode is largely forgettable, but long-time fans may appreciate the diversion. While there are a variety of different modes, most play out in a arena where eight players or fewer try to destroy each other, open treasure chests, and more. Action is greatly slowed down from the single player campaign to allow others to dodge attacks and to try and balance the action. In the end I found the multiplayer nothing more than a neat little extra.
– Platforming sections, while not plentiful, are annoying because of cumbersome camera angles. Often I felt they were going on far longer than they should, and that I was falling to my death for no reason whatsoever.
The bodies of all of Kratos’ victims over the years. In this game alone he mercilessly kills thousands, all thanks to you, sicko!
The God of War series is going through series fatigue right now. It’s to be expected. A new entry in the series has come out more or less every two years since the original game was released back in 2005. The formula has proven extremely successful for Sony and no doubt the series will continue for many years to come. That being said, it’s time to let Kratos go on a nice four year vacation. Let the developers build up anticipation, and let some new ideas come to the surface. Ascension is an excellent game that’s worth playing for fans of the series, but it fails to capture the essence of what makes this series so awesome, the rage of Kratos and what it’s like to go up against all the Olympian gods.
Final Score: 8/10
The title says it all folks, Insomniac and Sony’s latest Ratchet and Clank game will hit the PlayStation Network on November 27th for $19.99. For those that don’t know, this isn’t your typical R&C game, it’s actually a tower defense game. Full Frontal Assault is also cross-buy and cross-save compatible, meaning if you purchase the PS3 version you get the Vita version for no additional cost. The cross-save feature allows you play start the game on your PS3 and continue on your Vita, or vice-versa.
I can’t speak for everyone else here, but I’m in.
Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, which collects Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, will be available to download in North America on PlayStation Network on September 25th for $14.99 and on Xbox LIVE Arcade on September 26th for 1200 Microsoft Points. I already informed you all of this game a while back, but at least now we have a release date :) Here’s a little tidbit Capcom wanted me to pass along.
These two classic games are kept arcade-perfect, while adding a host of features sure to tap into arcade nostalgia while meeting today’s online needs. MARVEL VS. CAPCOM ORIGINS is jam-packed with Marvel and Capcom fan-favorite characters and crazy, beloved gameplay that throws a powerful punch.
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM ORIGINS offers both the one-on-one gameplay of Marvel Super Heroes with its unique Infinity Gem system and the two-on-two carnage of the original Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, featuring a tag system, assists, and the wild Duo Team Attack. Bringing forth a host of features never before seen in these games, MARVEL VS. CAPCOM ORIGINS adds GGPO-enhanced online play with 8-player lobbies and spectator mode, HD graphical upgrades, dynamic challenges and replay saving.
How many of you are looking forward to capcom’s latest brawler?
For longtime fans of the original Saturn classic, this is a very special day. Check out the debut trailer, and then read on for more info.
Two of my favourite fighting games of all time are getting the HD remaster treatment and will arrive on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade this September for $14.99/1,200 MS Points. Which two games? Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom! The compilation will see both games remastered in 1080p, feature online gameplay and a wealth of new gameplay modes and unlockables.
Who else is interested in this one out there?
Just when you thought you’d seen the last of Insomniac, the company announces they’re working on a very special game for the tenth anniversary of Ratchet & Clank. It will be released exclusively on the PlayStation Network, and it’s a return to the series roots. Titled Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, the download-only title will play similar to the Future titles, but will also incorporate some form of online multiplayer. Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games said the following:
We’ve been hard at work on Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault and now we’re giving you a sneak peek at this first piece of art to give you a taste of what we have in store for you when the game launches later this year. In the meantime, we hope you pick up the Ratchet & Clank Collection when it comes out this summer. We’ll have some more news on the Collection’s release date and a special surprise for North American fans coming in the next couple of weeks.
This is extremely exciting, and it’s nice to see that Insomniac hasn’t completely ditched Sony. This series has been a staple for years and personally I’d love to see it continue as such for many more years to come. I’ll update this story once we learn more information, for now, let us know what you think of the series, and this game in particular.
Starhawk (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Genre: Third-person shooter
Developer: LightBox Interactive
Release Date: May 8, 2012
PSN: Online Multiplayer
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Starhawk T for teen because of blood, language and violence. That about matches the content in the single player campaign, but multiplayer is certainly an M-rated experience. Within five minutes of playing, f-bombs are dropped at an alarming rate. The ESRB doesn’t rate the online portions of videogames because developers can’t control how other players act online.
Plays Like: If you’ve ever played Warhawk, you know only a fraction of the story here. Starhawk ships with the same core gameplay for its multiplayer, while introducing tower defense elements, and fast-paced third-person shooter action. The package actually seems to be three separate games in one, and therefore very unique.
Review Basis: Finished the five hour campaign, and tried all the online multiplayer modes.
Warhawk was one of the first PS3 games unveiled. It fully supported the Sixaxis controller, and promised a lush single-player with the most hardcore online multiplayer for the PlayStation Network. The final product ditched the solo stuff, focusing solely on multiplayer. It was one of the first games to support trophies and be available for digital download. Warhawk quickly became a cult hit. Fast forward, and LightBox Interactive (Warhawk’s creators), have created a spiritual sequel.
Starhawk features the best online multiplayer experience available on the PS3. A few nuances make the game a little disjointed at times, but the myriad of options like fortifications to all the vehicles increase the epic nature of the battles. A cooperative team can push hard and reclaim lost territory; while another match might see your opponents make one key decision to achieve victory. Regardless of your strategy, fun is all but assured.
+ Short campaign eases you into the combat. It boasts fast-paced action, a beautiful presentation, excellent voice work and a decent challenge.
+ Tower defense. Players can summon walls, turrets and more to reinforce their position. Knowing when and where enemies will spawn next helps greatly.
+ Strategy is rewarded. Simply building a watchtower provides rudimentary cover, but connecting walls with gun-mounted turrets would do more of the job you want. Players are constantly encouraged to ponder new ways to fortify their position.
+ Wealth of vehicles. Hover bikes focus on get-in, get-out killing sprees, then you have jeeps, tanks, mech-suits, jetpacks and hawks…there’s no shortage of ways to bring the fight to your enemies.
+ Play as you wish. Prefer the sky to eliminate enemies? Veteran players will develop a balance between building strong positions, and employing a mix of land-based attacks and hawks for dominating the battlefield.
+ Horde mode. Grab a few friends to take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult AI enemies.
+ Dual log-in splitscreen action. Two players, one couch, dual PSN sign-in. ’nuff said.
+/- Huge disparity between each mode. The strategies you use for single-player must drastically change in multiplayer. Fortifications don’t last as long, turrets are less powerful, and vehicles can either provide an incredible advantage or major burden. Horde mode requires different tactics too, since defense is just as important as offense.
+/- Don’t play online without a headset. Since the PS3 doesn’t ship with a headset, most of the people I played with couldn’t communicate with me. Trying to formulate a plan without that is impossible and hurts the experience.
– Only two-player splitscreen. Some will be disappointed about the lack of four-player splitscreen. At least two-player uses the screen space efficiently and creatively.
Think you’re an expert? Spending five hours with the campaign, and a few more with a buddy in Horde mode can make you think you know how to play. Once online, you basically have a new game to learn.
Starhawk is essentially three games in one. Once you learn the ropes, it offers some of the best PS3 multiplayer. If you enjoy online gaming, I can’t recommend this enough. Those who prefer meaty campaigns might be disappointed here. Everyone else should at least try Starhawk because the many modes and features. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting!
Final Score: 8/10
If you’ve been on the PlayStation Network for any amount of time you know it’s a platform where creativity thrives. Studios like thatgamecompany have created some of the most breathtaking digital experiences of the entire generation. Just recently I was blown away by the superb Journey. Now it looks like a new company, Giant Sparrow is set to continue the tradition of making original games that leave your jaw on the floor.
Similar to the deal Sony has with thatgamecompany, Giant Sparrow is part of Sony’s new incubation project. In essence that means the company receives funding by Sony, office space and additional assistance, but the studio is left to create and think over original ideas for the PSN. The original idea behind this game predates this deal though. As a matter of fact back in 2008 the guys behind The Unfinished Swan released the following tech demo to highlight the unique nature of the game.
I vaguely remember seeing the tech demo back in 2008, but I’m very glad someone was able to sign a deal with this studio to bring this title to the masses. I’ve also been tremendously impressed with Sony’s PSN policy. The incubation project has created some incredible software and this just might be what helps separate Sony from the rest of the pack come next-gen. I’m hoping this policy thrives moving forward because all good ideas should be given a chance.
So what do you all think of this bizarre looking game?
The Walking Dead Episode 1 (Available on PC, Mac, iPad, PS3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Price: $5/400 MS Points
Parent Talk: The Walking Dead is rated M, and for good reason. It contains gory scenes and plenty of F-bombs.
Plays Like: An adventure game set in The Walking Dead universe.
Review Basis: Completed Episode 1.
I’m not ashamed to be a huge fan of The Walking Dead comic series. It’s my favorite in fact. Think it’s just another zombie apocalypse story? Wrong. Instead of banking on every cliché known of the genre, TWD actually deals with the issues at stake if such a tragedy would ever occur. Zombies are second to character development. The writers aren’t afraid to kill characters either, even major ones left and right. It’d be foolish to think that everyone should survive during such an adventure. Further shocking; I had no clue a game was coming out for my beloved series. As soon as I saw the reviews, I knew I had to play. Here’s what I think.
Perfectly represents The Walking Dead. The game takes place in the same universe as the comics, but the cast is brand-new. You bump into familiar faces, but this is a fresh experience that retains the series’ charm. It’s classic adventure: you find items, talk to people, and solve puzzles. Like the comics, the character interactions steal the show. Nobody deals with the disaster the same. Some characters clash. In horror movies, it never makes sense why they don’t cooperate, and instead spend as much time fighting each other as they do the monsters. Here (just like in the books… again repeating myself but it’s an honest take on the series) you come to understand why people behave that way.
+ Simple, but quality controls. You walk around exploring, interacting with different items or people. The combat functions basically the same, but feels tense thanks to the clever targeting system.
+ Decisions count. Your choices impact every character. This is the first of five episodes, but Telltale promises that everything you do will carry over. A simple lie might seem harmless, but destroy a relationship in a future episode. Plus, two instances force you to save a character, but not another. This guarantees tons of replay. With three save files to boot, you’ll want to finish the game over and over just to witness the different outcomes.
+ New details. We finally understand better how the epidemic started, but don’t know the cause. (I hope we never do; it shouldn’t matter). TWD starts at a time when the events are just unfolding. It’s always entertaining to see someone’s first reaction to a zombie.
+ The episodic setting. I think the pacing will be perfect with these episodes. Plus, the price is right. Buying each individually will cost $25 in the end, which isn’t shabby for a 12-hour console experience.
+ Sweet visuals. It’s just what I imagined TWD would look like in game form.
+ As fun as the comics. The story has the potential to be even better because of the branching paths. There will probably be dozens of endings and thousands of possibilities. You can stick to your original choice for an authentic adventure, or try to experience it in many different ways.
+ Time limits. To emphasize the survival-horror feel, you don’t have forever to think about your decisions. This fits the game like a glove. Just like in real life, the wrong words might come out in a tense, “under pressure” situation.
– No inverting? Why can’t I invert the controls? My mind learned the controls after an hour or so, but there’s no reason not to allow such a simple option. For some, TWD could prove unplayable. Fix this soon please…. or include it in future episodes.
Here’s a few reasons why TWD should be your next purchase:
* You’re a fan of [classic] adventure games.
* You adore zombie movies/books/stories etc.
* You like The Walking Dead series in either the comic or TV show format.
* You like video games.
* You have $5 lying around.
Only gamers who insist on constant action or can’t stand adventures wouldn’t like The Walking Dead. It’s worth playing, and for such a cheap price, The Walking Dead deserves your attention. While you’re at it, check out the comic books too. They’re awesome. A must-buy!
Final Score: 9.5/10
Skullgirls (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: Autumn Games
Developer: Reverge Labs
Release Date: April 11th, 2012
Price: 1,200 MS Points / $14.99
PSN/Live: Online Multiplayer
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Skullgirls T for Teen because of violence, partial nudity, use of tobacco and blood. Skullgirls is a highly stylized animated fighter that’s perfectly geared towards the teenage and adult crowd. Young kids need not apply.
Plays Like: A 6-button fighter.
Review Basis: Completed most character stories, played through a large portion of the tutorial, and got my ass handed to me multiple times online.
The Great: The prettiest and most entertaining fighting game I’ve ever seen. If there’s one thing Skullgirls doesn’t lack, it’s style. The screens don’t do it justice; the game is simply sexy as hell. All these characters have original drawings that you won’t find anywhere else. It kind of reminds me of Gal Fighters a bit since it’s an all-female cast, but pumped up to the extreme.
+ A story mode worth playing. Skullgirls knows how to handle a plot. Usually, fighters do one of two things wrong. They either have no storyline whatsoever, or the game bombards you with line after line of dialogue until you finally fall asleep. This one lets the visuals do all the talking while incorporating just the right amount of text. It’s told mostly with still drawings, but they’re such a wonder to look at. You’ll want to complete all the stories because the premise is so interesting. Each character also has a unique ending too. Well done.
+ Very simple, yet deep tutorial. It starts off slow but isn’t afraid to go in depth as you approach the ending. It makes the learning experience fun, but doesn’t expect you to learn everything all at once. I personally couldn’t complete the entirety of it as I write this review because of the sheer difficulty. I always wondered why fighters felt the need to have difficult tutorials near the end, why not leave this to a separate mode where inputting complicated and well-timed combos reward you with goodies and whatnot. Nonetheless, there’s a quick way to learn the ins and outs of Skullgirls and the tutorial does a great job at that.
+ How do you spell F-U-N? Like all fighters, this one is meant to be enjoyed with friends. Button mashers will be impressed with all the moves and characters that they won’t care about the tedious million button combos you see in tournaments. However, hardcore fighters designed this game and it shows. If you fall into that category, this is your game!
+ Flawless online gameplay. Nuff said.
+/- Extremely difficult. Unless you’re a pro, this is one bloody hard game. Even at the easiest difficulty setting, Skullgirls offers no mercy. It’s really mostly aimed at hardcore fighting fans. Casuals will have fun playing against other casual fighters, but will probably get extremely frustrated at the story and arcade mode. Take consideration of this if you’re mainly looking for a single-player fighter.
– Lack of options. Plus the only way to learn the move-sets of the characters is to head to developer’s website. There should have been an in-game option included to make this all accessible. Also, only featuring eight characters might turn some people off.
– Some of the combos require the press of three buttons at the same time. On a controller (heck even on most arcade sticks), this proves very uncomfortable.
Which version should you pick?
Skullgirls saw a simultaneous release on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Feel free to purchase it for whatever system you own. However, if you have the luxury of owning both consoles, unless you possess an arcade stick, go with the PS3 version. The 360’s d-pad is an abomination. End of story.
While extremely difficult, Skullgirls is a match made in heaven for hardcore fighting fans. I completely suck at fighters, yet I find myself going back for more. Just for the visuals I’d recommend this game to any gamer. It’s so much fun. This is probably one of (if not THE) best looking 2D videogames ever released. The art style is unique and screams of originality. Add to all this, a fantastic story mode and you’ve got yourself a winner. Just be prepared for one heck of a challenge.
Final Score: 9.0/10