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Heavy Rain – Quantic Dream – PS3

Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Interactive Drama
Release Date: PS3 Exclusive
NA – February 23, 2010
EU – February 24, 2010
AU – February 25, 2010
UK – February 26, 2010
Rating: ESRB M
MSRP: $59.99
Console Played On: PS3

Heavy Rain is one of those games that is not easily forgotten. The game stars four main characters, whose stories start separate, but gradually intertwine within each other to create a compelling, and emotionally driven storyline. The Origami Killer, a deranged lunatic who abducts children, murders them, and leaves behind a small origami figure within the child’s hand is the main antagonist of the game. The main character is Ethan, a distraught man who is struggling to keep his family together, and is pushed to the brink of insanity when his only son is kidnapped by the Origami Killer. His story, along with Madison, a photojournalist who suffers from insomnia; Norman, a profiler detective from the FBI covering the Origami Killer case; and Scott Shelby, a retired detective turned private investigator, become deeply woven in a powerfully emotional story.

Interactive dramas are not widely known as a popular style, so to pick one up and play it was an experience in and of itself. The game is played not on a scale of “beat the game or it is game over,” but rather an “every choice has a consequence.” Every action that is taken throughout the game influences what sort of ending is received and those consequences could cause any or all of the said main characters to die. The mystery of the Origami Killer could remain a mystery, and the kidnapping could end in murder, just as all the rest have. There are so many possibilities within the game; it is almost too complex to think about simply through words.

How far would you go to save your loved ones?
Graphically, the game is breathtaking. Within the game, the developers show how they modeled real people to achieve the facial expressions, which are so real it is as if a movie was being played. There are no animations where arms glitch funny, or a leg mysteriously falls through the floor. The motions were all captured using tiny cameras on real human bodies. Therefore, if an arm can bend in a certain way, then it can in the game. This plays in well with the trials that Ethan will have to face to save his son from the killer. Everything was rendered from the same images and polygons, so the cutscene characters are the same ones being used to play through the game.

The gameplay mechanics are simple, and yet quite complex at the same time. On a very basic level, Heavy Rain is played with a series of well timed button presses, tapping and holding, with a mixture of joystick rotating and controller shaking. Combining some or all of these actions together will allow the character currently being used to interact with his or her environment or surroundings. This can be as simple as pressing X, or as complex as holding X first, until square shows up, holding that and X, and then shaking the controller to allow the character to climb a fence. Quantic Dream really did a wonderful job integrating a simple control scheme to feel more involved than it really is. During the course of the game, R2 will allow the player to listen to the thoughts of your character at any given moment. This not only allows insight of what the character is thinking, but allows greater depth and understanding of the characters within the game.

Listen to the thoughts of your characters, they’ll help you through the game.
The story speaks volumes for itself. I personally got emotional through various parts of the game, and was involved from beginning to end. At the very beginning, it can be a little slow at first, but the game really uses that introduction to teach players the functionality of the controls, and how your actions change the outcomes. The player will also be presented with moral choices to make through the game that make the player question whether or not the decision that was made was actually right. The game, as spoken by the producer, is only meant to be played through once though, as you get the best experience making all of the choices the first time around, and reaping those consequences (both good and bad) the entire way through. At any point in time, the decisions and actions can be costly, even going as far as to killing off all of the main story characters, allowing the Origami Killer to remain free.

I can honestly say the only flaw within the game is the fact that it is really only meant to be played once through. The decisions that are made the first time around are spontaneous and, therefore, are the staple of how the game is meant to be played. Afterwards, obtaining trophies is all that is really left, and that is simply a matter of replaying chapters in a different fashion to earn them. Do not get me wrong, the first play through will be glorious in and of itself. However, like a good book, once the ending has been revealed, re-reading that book does not have the same luster as it did prior.

The player’s actions can cause a character to die at any moment.
Overall, Heavy Rain is a must have for anyone looking for the reason why gaming is an art form, and not just a hobby. With a compelling storyline, a gripping plot, beautiful surroundings, and one of the most unique ways of playing a game that I have ever experienced, Heavy Rain is a game that in and of itself makes having a PS3 worthwhile.

Liked:
+Incredible story and realism.
+Highly fleshed out characters
+Unique gameplay (enhanced with Playstation Move)

Disliked:
-Limited replayability

Innovative:
~Gripping story from beginning to end
~Interactive drama is brand new for PS3, and is a unique genre overall
~Listening to the thoughts of the characters

Rating: 10 of 10

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Castle Crashers – The Behemoth/Microsoft – 360

Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date
X-Box 360 – August 27, 2008
PS3 – August 31, 2010 (NA), November 3, 2010 (EU)
Rating: ESRB T
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points
Console Played On: Microsoft Xbox 360

Castle Crashers is a typical side-scrolling beat-em-up that’s not so… well… typical. The Behemoth has taken this old formula, added a little spice to it (some role playing elements), and stuck it in the oven to reheat, and when it came out, it was a smoldering hot dish with a bit of flair added in. The objective of Castle Crashers is to rescue the four princesses that have been abducted by the evil dark wizard, who just so happens to wreck the town while he is at it. The game starts off with four unlocked characters: a fire knight, an ice knight, an electric knight, and a poison knight. The Behemoth does a fantastic job recreating this age old formula into something new, exciting, and quite frankly, a blast to play.

The story starts out in a little party that the knights and civilian are all enjoying. A little bit of music, some good food and dancing for everyone! That is, until the day is completely and utterly ruined by the dark wizard, who selfishly takes the kings crystal and all four princesses. Thus begins the journey of the Castle Crashers! There are over 30 stages to play through, and the story is rather entertaining. The humor is very sarcastic, with a strange affinity with stool. I know this sounds foul, but I promise upon playing the game, the stool fits into the storyline perfectly. While it is difficult to really establish a story when the majority of the game is meant to be a series of button mashing, Castle Crashers does a really nice job keeping everything flowing in a neat and orderly fashion, despite the chaos.

With that being said, while being a beat-em-up style, the game doesn’t require severe cramping of thumbs to get the job done. They offer various combos in the form of mixing light attacks with heavy attacks, culminating various results from it. These attacks are unlocked as you progress through your levels. Each level up grants a knight stat points to place into attack, magic, defense and agility. The knights are also equipped with various types of magic, depending on the knight you use. There is also a slight variation between the looks of each magic, with many types of ways to use the magic (wide area, focused bullet, etc.). Castle Crashers also offers various sub weapons, from a bow and arrows, to a sandwich to turn the knights into giant, muscle headed rage machines.

The multiplayer feature is nothing new in terms of this style of game. Where The Behemoth has taken things a step further is by allowing knights to battle it out in various arenas and mini games within the game. The two mini games available are called “All You Can Quaff” in which the player presses buttons alternatively to eat food as fast as possible, and “Arena” where the player may partake in five different events. Also, at the end of any level where a princess may be rescued, the knights are forced to battle it out to the death, as only the strongest knight may stand victorious and receive the kiss from the princess. The mixture of cooperative and competitive game play adds for a surprising twist during the stages.

Castle Crashers has a plethora of different things that make it fun in terms of replayability. There are several pets (called animal orbs) that can be collected throughout the stages that give you various bonuses or perks. Some are as simple as allowing a knight to jump higher, while others give more experience for each enemy defeated. There are a slew of weapons that are both well designed, and hilarious. The knights can wield anything from an ice sword to the leg of a skeleton. I even fought with a giant piece of sausage at one point. After completing the game, there is an insane mode that becomes available, which grants the ability to play through the game one more time on a much harder difficulty, but allowing more experience points to be earned. With four characters to start, and 23 total playable characters (not including downloadable/secret unlocks), 64 available weapons (not counting DLC, for PS3 there are 69), and 26 animal orbs, there is plenty to do within Castle Crashers. There are also mini games that can be played outside of the original adventure.

Graphically, Castle Crashers is a 2D side scroller, so there isn’t anything that stands out. However, everything is illustrated vibrantly, and nothing looks like anything seen in another game. It reminded me of the kind of art that we are seeing in Flash powered games now. That being said, the graphics really didn’t do anything for me. It is different, but nothing is over the top. Musically, however, the game is impressive. The soundtrack isn’t doesn’t always fit with the game, but it’s really unique in that aspect.

All in all, Castle Crashers proved that games using old formulas can still bring something new to the table and be exciting and original. The Behemoth team has done an excellent job redefining what it means for a game to be a side scrolling beat-em-up. There are many facets to this game that make it an enjoyable experience for anyone to pick up and play, and have a good time doing so. As with any game of its kind, the feeling of repetitiveness will loom overhead as the formula is constructed to only go so far. Do not take that as a fault though, as I still feel this is a solid game to have in any gamers’ collection.

Liked:
+Tired formula born anew.
+Tons of characters, weapons and collectables.
+Extremely replayable.
+Music was catchy.

Disliked:
-Repetitive
-PvP is a little one sided

Innovative:
~Weapons, Knights and Magic is all fresh and new
~Pet System
~Catchy, upbeat music

Unknown Gamer gives Castle Crashers an 8 /10.

Costume Quest – Double Fine Productions/THQ – 360

This was the review I wrote to get my job at UnknownGamer, hence the difference in style. This is probably how most of them are going to look from now on.

Game: Costume Quest
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: THQ
Genre: RPG
Release Date (NA and EU):
NA: October 19, 2010 (PS3)
EU: October 20, 2010 (PS3)
NA: October 20, 2010 (360)
Rating: ESRB E10+
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points
Console Played On: Microsoft Xbox 360

Costume Quest begins with the role of young Reynold (male) or Wren (female), who just moved into a new town around Halloween. On Halloween night, their parents insist that they should go out with each other to make new friends, but their actual goal is to ditch the sibling and come home with as much candy as possible. Either sibling (depending on your choice) is then abducted by creatures called Grubbins, who are there to take all of the candy from the unsuspecting town. Costume Quest is one of the most innovative twists on an RPG that I have seen in quite some time.

From the moment the game is turned on; the player will immediately notice that this game is unlike any normal RPG tale: the sense of humor is subtle, but it is hilarious within the story. The relationship between the main character and the sibling is easy to relate to (assuming one has a sibling to relate to) and makes for some interesting dialog and snarky remarks. The objective of Costume Quest is simple: find the sibling, while raiding the neighborhood of as much candy as possible in a door-to-door trick or treat fashion.

Throughout the course of the game, there are many side quests to obtain that have many rewards, including various objects from battle stamps to Creepy Treat Cards. The battle stamps can be equipped to each of the party members to give them different abilities in battle. These range from added HP and attack power to paralyzing an enemy for a few turns with toilet paper. Creepy Treat Cards are simply a collection that must be filled in order to complete an achievement during the game’s progression. There are also various costume parts hidden throughout the town, which are one of the games main premises and carry with them many abilities both inside and out of battle.

Battles take place by either smacking a Grubbin with your candy pail, or by fighting random Grubbins who have invaded the houses around town. It is a typical turn-based RPG in the sense that each side takes turns fighing, with the heroes generally taking the first turns. When attacking, the game prompts the player to enter a certain button or perform some action (such as rotating the joystick) to allow for more damage. Likewise, when being attacked the player can press a button accordingly and reduce the damage to the characters. This usually is the difference between life or death, so a player cannot mindlessly jam the A button like some other RPG’s allow. One of the most unique aspects of the game is that the abilities that each costume offers are incredibly well thought out for each. The player is offered the option to use the ability after three turns have passed, and every one does something different from normal damage with fire damage over time, to healing and resurrecting party members. This is usually accompanied by an amusing animation that works to highlight the characters ‘superpower-like’ ways.

The music and visuals are very fitting for the game. Musically, the game’s eerie soundtrack is soft, but powerful enough to set the tone for what’s going on within the game’s story. There are haunting soundtracks that add just a touch of suspense (but not much, compared to the cutesy graphics). The art is very clean and well manipulated, and while I noticed a little slow down during the graphically intense parts, there was nothing so overbearing that absolutely could not be overlooked. The shadows and atmosphere are key to providing this game with the Halloween-ish feel through and through.

Overall, the game was a very solid game to play, giving a new take on the traditional RPG, with elements fun enough to keep the player engaged. There is a very low level cap, so there is never a feeling of grinding out levels to beat bosses. As long as the player keeps in mind the elements of pressing a button during battle, chances are the game will not be challenging to the point where it cannot be completed. My only peeve with the game was that it felt incredibly short, with only a few areas the player was able to explore). They have recently added DLC, however, which I have not had a chance to experience yet. With over 20 quests, nine costumes, and enough dialog to keep the player from ever getting bored, this game is a must have for any gamers who love RPG’s and are looking for something that brings a new element of game play to the table. After all, how many times can anyone say they saved their sister/brother AND brought home more candy than their pillow case can hold in a single Halloween night?

Liked:
+Originality and story.
+Creative costumes/abilities.
+Refreshing RPG elements.

Disliked:
-Too short.
-Repetitive.
-Difficulty wasn’t consistent.

Innovative:
~A holiday meets an RPG.
~Amusing dialog.
~Costume utilization.

Unknown Gamer gives Costume Quest an 8/10.

Assassin’s Creed – Ubisoft – 360

(This review was written for RPGamer in an attempt to apply for their open reviewer position. This is the reason for the odd format that is clearly different than the rest of this blog.)

Title of Review: Assassin’s Creed
By: Peter XXXXXX

REVIEW
Intro:

Assassin’s Creed (AC) is one of those games that when you first pick up and play it, you know you’ve got yourself a piece of history in your hands. When it comes to originality in the gaming world, it’s very hard to find something that is so completely new and refreshing, that it simply knocks your socks off and puts a brand new pair back on. AC does just that. You are Desmond Miles, a seemingly captive individual inside a facility by the name of Abstergo. Inside, Warren Vidic and Lucy are standing next to a large table, beckoning you to lie down inside the machine. The machine extracts memory glitches from your DNA of a past life you once were. Basically, it allows the individual to relive memories of one’s earlier descendents. Enter the game’s main protagonist, and who you will be playing as 95% of the time, Altiar, a used-to-be high ranked assassin within the Hashshashin living in Masyaf. His master, Al Mualim, has stripped Altiar of all of his high ranked privileges, and it is up to you to earn them back. This is done by assassinating a few powerful officials amongst the land whose motives in life can be questioned greatly. With the ground rules set, and your objective in mind, you pick up your blade, and off you go, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, blending in with the crowd to perform your duties as promised.

Battle System:
While nothing to be completely ‘wowed’ about, AC takes a decent system and implements it well. Breaking the system down into two modes is probably the easiest way to go about it: stealth and open conflict.

While stealthy, controls are fluid. You have complete control over where Altiar’s blade goes, and with good reason. You can assassinate anyone moving and quickly move away without ever being detected. The assassinations can be done in a number of ways, from various angles and distances. The choice is yours. While fun to do, there’s not too much that can be said in the way of excitement. You’ll come to find that while the real challenge lies in trying to remain undetected, you may end up having an easier time just beating your enemies to death with swords. You’ll tend to find the main set of missions (and even some of the side missions) get really repetitive as time goes on.

In open conflict, the camera conveniently moves up to a ¾ view and gives you a very good look at what is going on. Nine times out of ten, you will be out numbered, and in the beginning of the game, this can be tedious and frustrating until you learn a specific move later in the game. You can easily switch your target simply by moving your controller stick towards the opponent you wish to fight. It’s simple, but it works really well for what you’re doing

Music and Visuals:
One of the things I noticed right off the bat was how awesome your locale looked. You felt like you were in the Middle East. I played this game on a 32” (1080p) with HDMI and the visuals were breathtaking. From every building to the people roaming around, each tree and face was taken into consideration. To put short, the location is believable.

The music was something that when you first start playing, you don’t notice it right away. In fact, it rarely plays a part in the game. However, if you listen closely you’ll notice that all of the music does fit in well with the rest of the game. The snake-charming flutes and the drums go well with the bustling town that you’re walking through. The only time I ever noticed the music getting loud was when there was absolutely nothing going on, and you were roaming the city.

Difficulty and Completion Time:
The game has its own variable difficulty, starting off relatively easy, and gradually getting harder as you progress through the game and unlock more ways to assassinate your targets. I never felt so overwhelmed while playing that I wanted to quit. On my first play through, while achievement hunting and the like, I got through the game in about 25 to 30 hours of game play. That isn’t bad, considering how many achievements I got. The game does get tedious at points, especially if you’re looking to complete all of the memory strands, and you can feel yourself grow weary of the formula. Taking it for what it is (the first entry in a continuing series), you can find it’s enough to push through. Give me this game before the sequels were out, however, and I may have become a bit bored with it.

Interface and Localization:
The interface is very clean, and fitting for the setting of the game. Your health bar is located neatly in the top left of the screen, your current weapon selection in the bottom left (this vanishes away when you aren’t utilizing it), and a mini-radar in the lower right, showing you all of your destinations and such. At any point you may hit the back button to bring up the large map and set ‘waypoints’ for yourself, which will appear on the mini-map as well. Overall, the integration of the interface is well done, providing you with the information you need, when you need it, without interference to your playability.

Originality and Story:
Hands down, the game is unique in every sense of the word. I’ve never played a game quite like it, and you’ll not find a game much like it. The story is well done, giving you a well etched timeline of Altiar’s life from the assassin’s side of things, while leaving you confounded throughout most of the game as to what role Lucy and Warren play in the story. This unfolds as you progress further into what becomes one of the most engrossing games you’ve ever played. The worst part about it all is that you don’t even get the entire story when you beat it! You’re left dazed and confused, trying to sort through the puzzle you’ve just opened up for yourself. To me, that’s what makes it all the more wonderful. A game that can leave off with such an awesome cliffhanger, and still be good, is truly an amazing feat, and one you don’t see often anymore, if much at all. Best of all, is that it isn’t a cookie cutter story of hero saves the day, or rescue the princess, but a true-blue once told story.

Conclusion:
While you may find that the game can get repetitive after the third or fourth memory glitch, that doesn’t stop Assassin’s Creed from being a great addition to your game library. Little peeves like not being able to swim, and not having much variety in your assassination missions are just small under sights to the big picture. This game ultimately sets up the story for one of the most epic story’s I’ve seen in a game since the last solid Final Fantasy game. Assassin’s Creed opened up a can of worms, and finished them all. For the first go around in the series, you cannot put Ubisoft Montreal’s efforts down the drain just yet. This game is definitely worth borrowing from a friend, if not owning your own copy.

FAST FACTS
Platform: X-Box 360
Battlesystem: 4/5
Interaction: 3.5/5
Originality:5/5
Story: 3.5/5
Music and Sound: 5/5
Visuals: 5/5
Challenge: Moderate to Hard
Completion Time: Roughly 25 to 30 hours

Overall
3.5 / 5

Highlights and Lowlights
+Original and refreshing storyline.
+Life the live of an assassin? Yes please!
+Fluid movement and battle mechanics.
-Lots of collecting little things.
-Repetitive after the fourth mission.
-You can’t swim… really?

(Rating: 7.0 / 10.0)

Kirby’s Epic Yarn – Nintendo – Nintendo Wii

When E3 aired online last year, I know Nintendo fanboys like myself went nuts over some of the titles that were being previewed. This excitement only got stronger when we saw that a lot of the titles were coming out before the year’s end (Zelda didn’t though… boo.) This was one of those games. My first impression of it just watching the video: awesome. After beating it, I feel no less.

The game stars our wonderful pink pile of puff in yet another adventure where he is helping out his friends from impending doom. This time, however, it is not King Dedede that is terrorizing Dream Land, but a new threat by the name of Yin-Yarn, an evil sorcerer of sorts from the world of Patch Land. Frustrated with Kirby’s attempt to eat his Max Tomato, Yin Yarn sucks Kirby up into a sock… and turns him to yarn!

I know, epic right? The storyline is absolutely adorable though. It is narrated like a children’s storybook, and you cannot help but grin every time the narrator tries to get angry. He uses his own voice to make the voices of all the characters while telling the story, and it brings you back to the days when your teachers read the books for you. The story does not lack though. It has, albeit a simple, beginning, middle and end as it should, and it is not broken in the least.

With Kirby’s new look comes so many opportunities for Nintendo to make Kirby look adorable, and boy, did they nail it on the head. From turning into a mini-submarine while swimming, to changing into a parachute while gliding, each and every form that Kirby possesses is absolutely squee-worthy. But enough with the aesthetics. Onward to the nitty gritty!

The game itself is solid. I couldn’t find a single fault in how it is laid out and played whatsoever. The objective of each stage is simple: run through the stage, collecting as many beads as possible, find two hidden patches, and a music CD in each stage (assuming you’re looking to get 100%). You don’t ever die in the game. Jumping off a cliff, however will force a fairy to come pick you up out of the hole, dropping all of your hard earned beads back into it. Receiving ‘damage’ will also make your beads explode all over the place. You can pick them back up for a limited time, but they fade away rather quickly. Kirby cannot fly in this game, but it adds a new level of difficulty to the game. Gone are the days when you can simply coast in the sky from beginning to end and complete a stage. Besides, you’ll be too busy collecting beads on the ground, swinging your yarn around like a whip to worry about flying.

Musically, the game impresses me on every level. Each stage has it’s own track (that can be collected, as mentioned above) to listen to at any time in the game, and it is one of the most beautiful OSTs I’ve heard in such a long time. Each song is perfect for the stage your playing, completely setting the mood for how the stage is supposed to feel. Music is very important to me in a game, for an annoying soundtrack can cause you to lose your patience quickly. I can assure you that the only time you notice the music is when you realise just how awesome it is, and continue to sing the songs well after you stop playing. It feels like old SNES music in terms of likability, but with today’s technology, if that makes sense.

Graphically, the game looks exactly how it should. The colors are vibrant, and the stage interaction with the whole ‘yarn’ feel is awesome. Some of the points in the game (like when you unzip the background) just leave you with your mouth open at how cool it looks. Moments like that make you have to think of things on a new level.

The multi player feature is actually a step above what it has been in the previous games. Multi player does consist of you playing as Prince Fluff, the Prince of Patch Land as you would with any other Kirby game. The Prince has all the same moves and abilities as Kirby does, and functions exactly the same. Where they took the step above is when you obtain the patches to transform Kirby into the super transformations. For example, in single player, Tank Kirby can move his head up and down, and shoot missiles from his mouth. With a second player, you can now swing the tank arm around, allowing for extra damage at melee range. There are nine total transformations all together (if I remember correctly) and each one has a little quirk like that between single and multi player.

The re-playability of the game is sort of non-existent if you received 100%. I haven’t really found a reason to pick it back up other than to show people the cuteness, or if they were interested in seeing it. I don’t know if it will live up to Kirby Superstar in that aspect, at least in my own opinion. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pick it up though.

Overall, the game is a great game, and they took the old formula, added a little jazz to it, and reinvented the wheel with a bigger, stronger tire. This is how these games should be done, honestly: preserving the old style by adding new-age game play twists with it. If you’re a fan at all of Nintendo, or even own a Wii, I would highly recommend adding this game to anyone’s collection.

Rating:
9.5 / 10.0

Metroid: Other M – Nintendo/Team Ninja – Nintendo Wii

Seeing previews for this game brought along a lot of mixed reactions. I was happy and scared at the same time. Here they were making a game that was side scrolling again, just as I have always loved them, but I saw elements of FPS and the only thing I could think was “Oh God, I hope they don’t screw this up.” The franchise isn’t bad anymore, but it certainly isn’t what it used to be. I guess for the kind of gamer I am, this could be said about a lot of different game franchises. This game didn’t completely disappoint, but it certainly was no Super Metroid like I was hoping it was to be. As a matter of fact, when I first beat the game I was 100% satisfied, but in retrospect, I realise the more I think about it, the more disappointed I was.

The game takes place directly after Super Metroid. There are a lot of references in the story from Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, so if you haven’t played one or both, please jump off a brid- .. that is get yourself copies of each and play them. They’ll be worth your time alone. Unfortunately, after you have played them I’m afraid that this game will simply not live up to them at all.

You play the game about 90% in a third person view. This way, the controls are fluid, and simple. There’s really nothing you can say bad about them, because they are as easy as the NES. Running, jumping and shooting all done on the D-pad and two buttons (the wiimote is held sideways). Where things get a little fishy is the FPS part of the game. To access it, you must turn the wiimote and point it at the screen. This usually causes issues, because you point it and Samus immediately starts looking up, or to the side, or whichever way she feels like it while your wiimote figures out where it is on the screen. You’ll find that you have to get into this mode to shoot missiles too, because you can’t do it any other way. A bit of a downer, but what can you do?

Throughout the game, you gain access to your abilities not by finding them, but by being given permission to use them by a certain character in the game. Really? Samus is supposed to be this extremely awesome bounty hunter who works on her own will, doing as she pleases, and in this game she has to ask permission to use her weapons? Kinda weak if you ask me. At least you still have to find energy tanks and missile upgrades. Speaking of, each missile upgrade only gives you one extra missile, but in return, you practically get infinite missiles. They added a feature called ‘focus’ where if you hold your wiimote in the air and press A, you regain all of your missiles. You can do this too when your health is red to regain a small chunk of health. It sounds cheap, but it’s a lot harder to do than you think.

The exploration is relatively linear, and you follow a guided path almost the entire time. This takes away from the Super Metroid feel of it, and shortens play time immensely. Add this in with the fact that everything you are ordered to do is almost identical, and you’ll find yourself getting slightly bored with it.

The one strong suit of the game is the visuals. Team Ninja did a wonderful job rendering the CG animations, and even owners of PS3’s and 360’s have to stop and ‘wow’ at what they made the Wii put out. They gave a new twist on the way the different beams look as well, so that was a nice surprise. Visually, the game is quite appealing to look at, and never once was I disappointed.

Aside from one small element in the story, the overall scope of the story was excellent. They gave Samus a full fledged personality, which for most of it, I can definitely see her having. There were one or two things that I would have changed personally, or to be quite frank, not put in at all, but I was able to overlook those flaws until the end of the game.

Overall, the game was fun to play, and I was glad to see it move out of the FPS era. However, I think the programmers forgot how to make a decent third person game, and half heartedly put this together. I’m afraid to say this, but had I known what this game was going to produce, I would have just rented it and beat it then. I definitely believe it’s worth playing, but if a friend has a copy, just borrow theirs.

I’m starting to lose faith in the Metroid franchise. It truly is a shame that the games from the 80’s and 90’s are still worth replaying, while the others will probably sit on my shelf for the rest of time to come (until my kids play them, anyways).

Rating:
6.75 / 10

White Knight Chronicles – Level 5 – PS3

It’s been a while since I’ve done a review on a game that I’ve beaten, let alone a review period. My apologies for that.

This game was sort of a fluke buy. I watched the trailers, and I was really all for it, but as the reviews started coming out, I started becoming more and more skeptical. This is not like me, because I’m the last person who will base my purchase of a game on a review (does that make me a hypocrite for reviewing games for others?).

Anyways, WKC is your typical ‘save the princess’ storyline. You’ve got your heroes, allies, enemies, etc. If you’re a gamer, you’re familiar with all of these aspects, so I’m not going to delve into them too much. There are a few things that stand out in this game, both positively and negatively, which I will emphasize on.

First, your senses. This game is auditorially (made up word?) a very appealing game. All of the music is very fitting, and really gives you a good feel of where you’re at, what’s going on, and so on. I didn’t really pay attention to who composed the music, but they definitely deserve some credit for coming up with an epic track. There are many different instruments used in each song, and if this game had an OST, I would recommend all game music listeners to purchase it. It definitely completes the project, that’s for sure. One thing I noticed about it too is that none of it seems repetitive. In fact, you almost don’t notice it’s there unless you try hard enough to listen. That’s just how good it is.

Also, the graphics in this game are beyond breathtaking. Granted, I played the majority of this game on my 19″ 1080i Asus monitor, but still. Sometimes it really blows me away just how much the PS3 can do. The environments are expansive, the towns seem alive (similar to FFXII), and you really have to sometimes just drop the camera low to suck in all of the surroundings. I feel if you don’t take in some of the sights (and use the Crystal Camera) then you are not truly experiencing this game.

The third was the battle system, and the primary reason this game lost a lot of points with me. You are able to free roam the environment, and pick and choose your battles as you see fit. This was great, because nowadays, I don’t have time to wait as I get into a battle of a traditional RPG anymore, go through the battle, then item and experience distribution, then back to the field, only to get into another battle three steps later. Action RPG’s have slowly grown on me over the years, and I have a feeling it’ll be like that for a while. However, the way the system is set up feels clunky. Original, but clunky.

You set your attacks up based on the weapon you are carrying. For example, the basic attack of a shortsword is slash. If you change your weapon, and forget to change your attack tray, then you are stuck with no attacks. When you engage an enemy, a ring pops up with the name of the attack you’re currently ready to use. When the ring fills, you can press X to initiate the attack, and the ring empties for it to be filled again. This ring fill speed is based on the equipment you have on your player. If you wear clunky, heavy armor, the ring fills anywhere from 6-8 seconds. If you wear light knit armor (or roll nude, which I needed to do a few times), the ring can fill as fast as 1.5 to 2 seconds. So in a sense, you still feel like you’re trapped within a traditional RPG waiting for your ATB gauge to fill or something, and it’s ugly on the screen. I understand their concern for making a button masher, but I can think of a few different ways this could have been handled. Then again, I’m not a game programmer, so who am I to say?

One of the biggest complaints that I saw in most reviews was the lip syncing and yes I agree, it is really badly done. The storyline is pretty cheesy as well, so it only adds to it. The one saving grace that it does have is that come midway through the story, it stops being cheesy and becomes much more drama filled, giving you much information about the characters you’re with, their backgrounds, and why they are where they are. It does get good if you can bear with it, even to the point you almost forget how bad the voice acting is.

The game is relatively simple, and if you didn’t horse around like I did, you can get through it in a few short hours. There is a few things to do outside of the main game, such as going on line and playing with peers (which is a lot of fun) or messing around with your Georama, but the game is pretty cut and dry. All of the trophies are hidden though, so be prepared to do a lot of playing to figure out what they are.

Overall, I don’t regret buying the game, I just think there were some issues they could have (and should have) worked on before a release. I am just hoping WKC2 will address these issues. Oh, and the ending is totally worth playing through the game, if nothing more.

Rating:
7.5 / 10