Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DmC Game Review

DmC is the fifth installment in Capcom’s Devil May Cry series and the first of several reboots coming out this year (others being Metal Gear Rising, Tomb Raider, and Bioshock Infinite). Since 2001, Devil May Cry’s lead character Dante has become known as one of the most badass characters in gaming with his white hair, cocking attitude, gun slinging and sword fighting skills, and being part demon. For the series reboot, Capcom gave the honor to the development studio Ninja Theory and what they produced has made many hardcore Devil May Cry fans pretty angry starting with Dante’s new look. Gone are the white hair and red coat and cocky attitude. Instead now he looks like the lead singer for My Chemical Romance. Now fans of the series have been hating on this game solely because of the new art direction while mainstream critics have been praising it for the gameplay and combat. I’m going to have to disagree with both here. I can’t say my experience with this game was a good one but a lot of this is opinion so let’s take a closer look.

STORY: The game takes place in Limbo City in a world that is secretly ruled by demons. Dante is just some punk who spends most of his time bar hopping, clubbing, getting in fights, and having casual sex. He is contacted by a young girl named Kat who explains to him about how the demons rule the world and he must help his long lost brother Virgil who is head of a mysterious group called The Order. Virgil reveals to Dante that they are Nephilim, half demon half angel, and needs his help to kill Mundus, the demon over lord who killed their parents and rules the world secretly through the unseen world of Limbo that exists between heaven and hell. The story has a more contemporary feel than the previous games as it deals with shadowy internet groups, mass media, and evil corporations. It even has a parody of Fox News complete with a Bill O’Riley type anchorman who becomes a boss later. The story has never really been a story point in Devil May Cry games but here I think they did a good enough job explaining the setting and having it make sense. It makes more sense than the setting of some of the other DMC games. This feels like an Americanized version of Devil May Cry. Take that as a good or bad thing.

But that’s not what all the fuss is about. The fuss is over ‘OMG WHAT DID THEY DO TO MY DANTE?!’ I’ll admit I was not keen on the new art direction but after watching some gameplay in trailers, I wanted to go into this with an open mind but Dante and Virgil are very different in this game. Aside from physical appearance, Dante is no longer a loud mouth wise cracker or nearly as cocky as he once was. He’s still cocky but it’s more subtle. Virgil is a good guy in this game and is nicer; I guess is the way to put it. He’s not a cold hearted, bitter about humanity, villain like he has been in the past, though he isn’t all that he appears to be. Mundus is in human form most of the game as an overweight, asshole, Wall Street Tycoon which is actually rather fitting. Kat is the main female character of the game that is a medium that can interact with Limbo. She’s cute but she’s nowhere near as awesome as Trish or Lady (Mary) from the previous games. A lot of people have complained about Dante’s hair. Ninja Theory seems to have taken note of this. There is a scene where a white wig blows by and lands on Dante’s head. He looks in a mirror and says ‘Not in a million years.’ Some might find this funny; others will see it as a slap in the face to fans. I will say if you’re really that bent out of shape about the hair, you should play it all the way through. I’ll leave it at that. The game is fairly short at around 10 hours with 20 missions that vary in length. Other than unlockable difficulties and items to collect, DmC doesn’t offer much in terms of replay value but is worth at least two play throughs.

GAMEPLAY: This is where I really draw some issues with this game. Previous DMC games focused mainly on fighting demons and making your way through tight corridors with some awesome boss battles to look forward to. While combat is still a major focus, there is a lot of focus on the level designs and plat forming. Many of the levels require you to jump from platform to platform over huge empty voids. You do get lots of tools and moves to help you maneuver such as the angel and demon grapples that can help Dante swing around or pull objects to him and the angel boost that lets Dante fly forward briefly. It is essential that you master using these as navigating these levels get more challenging throughout the game. At times, it feels more like Bionic Commando more than Devil May Cry. Sometimes it’s a little too challenging as it will force you into situations that you probably won’t be able to react to fast enough and just end up falling. This doesn’t kill you but it does take some of your life away which leads to another issue: this game is pretty stingy with health item drops. In previous games, I could get through most of the levels without having to use any health items. Here I found myself stocking up and health items as much as I could and using them more than I wanted. You will die multiple times before reaching the end of the game. Actual in game health drops are rare so you need to do your best to avoid taking damage with is not nearly as easy as it sounds. I’ve heard people say that the dodge mechanic in combat makes it super easy to get through fights without a scratch. That is not what I experienced. I found myself getting hit even after making a dodge depending on the enemies.

The combat is the other major mechanic in the game and the one that most of the fans have come to love the games for. It has been retooled and works differently from the previous DMC games. At first, it takes some getting a hang of but once you have more moves, weapons, skills and such unlocked you can deliver some awesome combos in fights. You have angel arms and demon arms that you access by simply holding down the L or R trigger in combat and works better than switching between individual weapons like in previous titles. The weapons you get throughout the game are pretty cool and fun to use once you learn how. The grapple maneuvers are very helpful with the problem of engaging enemies that are too far away.  It feels good to pull them over to you and beat the hell out of them. When you finish off a wave of enemies it slows down for a moment as you kill the last one and it looks pretty awesome. The shotgun is also extremely powerful in this game. Activating Devil Trigger is not as easy as it used to be. You have to mash down on both joy sticks to make it work and this isn’t always easy to do in the middle of combat. Also Dante’s hair turns white and he coat turns red when you do this. Ha. Cute. The boss fights in DmC are few but awesome. The fight with the Bill O’Riley wannabe and the witch in the night club make for some awesome battles and levels. Some of the other boss battles are not quite as good but respectable.

 Sadly, there is one fatal flaw in the combat: NO LOCK SYSTEM. Unlike the previous games and other similar hack and slash games, there is no lock on feature when engaging enemies. This causes huge problems in fights especially when facing multiple enemies. Some enemies can only be attacked with certain weapons or at certain times. Without being able to lock on, I find myself missing or hitting the wrong enemy that I wanted. Plus the camera will often get turned a wrong way as you fight and you’ll end up taking a hit from something off screen. If I could lock on, the camera would be focused better and I wouldn’t have these issues. I don’t know what they were thinking. It doesn’t break the combat but it definitely doesn’t make it better than previous DMC games like the critics have been saying. I never noticed how much I used the lock system till playing this game.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Visually, a lot of care went into the characters and environments of DmC. The levels are nicely designed and it’s cool to see them get twisted and distorted by demons as you progress through them. Despite the changes in characters, all the character models look good and are nicely animated. Only visual complaint I have really is the menu screens. They’re ugly. Other than that, it’s all good. The demons and bosses look horrifically disgusting and awesome. The voice acting is very well done as well. Actually, it’s better than in previous DMC games. Instead of sounding like an anime, the voice actors in DmC actually sound like real people talking… for the most part. The script the VAs have to work with is really hit and miss. The F word is peppered all over the dialogue along with other profanities you usually didn’t hear in the past games. Sometimes the over swearing works, other times it doesn’t. There are some funny lines in the game but it’s mainly because how cheesy or over the top they sound. The music is kicks ass in this game. It’s a mix of screamo metal and dub step fusion that works really well in getting you pumped for fights and makes you want to kick as much ass as possible. Softer tracks, however, barely standout and are just there.

Overall, DmC is an interesting reboot to a well loved franchise and naturally it made hardcore fans angry or disappointed. While I don’t think it’s an abomination like some fanboys call it, I will say I was over all disappointed in the game. Honestly, I just didn’t really have much fun playing it. The combat system did not feel as free flowing as in DMC3 or 4. The lack of a lock-on system seriously hurt the combat for me as it made what should have been easy fights frustrating. I can forgive the new experimentation with art-style but when the core gameplay suffers, I can’t be as happy to as I was hoping to be about this game. If you’re a hardcore fan of Devil May Cry, you’ve probably already played it and have your own opinions. If not, I highly recommend renting DmC. It’s not worth the $60 price tag. There is fan outcry for Platinum Games to take over for the next Devil May Cry game as the creator of the franchise is now with them (he made Bayonetta which put Platinum on the map). Ironically, Platinum’s next game is the Metal Gear Solid spin off. I’ll be reviewing that later next month.


-Visually Good
-New combat system is interesting
-Kickass music

-Not everyone will be pleased with the new art direction
-The grappling platforming gets repetitive 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mass Effect Trilogy Overview

Bioware’s Mass Effect series has become one of the biggest and most respected game franchises in recent years with legions of fans and influences on the gaming world. For the longest time I did not understand why. I remember playing the first game around when it was originally released in 2007 and I wasn’t very impressed by it at all. As a result I didn’t really pay attention to the rest of the series until Mass Effect 3 came out last year and sparked controversy with its fans over the ending. I saw this as more reason to avoid the series. After my Top 5 Games of 2012 article, I got many requests for Mass Effect 3 and that it should be on there. Naturally, my lack of interest in the series kept me from playing it but I ultimately decided to give the series another look. I found the three games on Amazon for fairly cheap and bought them. And I gotta say, sometimes it’s good to be wrong! For the past 3 weeks I’ve been playing the Mass Effect trilogy back to back and it was damn near life changing. This isn’t really going to be a review as more of just going over my experience with these games. They’ve been out long enough to where there isn’t much new I can say about them that has not already been said. My ultimate goal for this would be for those who doubted the series, like I did, to maybe give it a second look.  I’m not going to go too much into the stories in detail but there may be some spoilers here and there.


The first game of the series aimed to be a sci-fi RPG with many ways to go about the story. To me felt like a more gritty kind of Star Trek. I played this game back when it came out in 2007 and I wasn’t very impressed by it. So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to playing this one in my Mass Effect-a-thon. I will admit that I had very different tastes in games back when I first played ME1. I was a huge FPS gamer and was all into Call of Duty at the time so I was used to my games moving at a much faster pace. Ironically, Call of Duty has killed my love for most FPS games that are found on the market these days. However, my taste in games has changed since then and I was more open-minded about it this time around and Mass Effect was better than I thought it would be but still doesn’t hold a candle to the sequels.

In case you don’t know, you play as Commander Shepard, a war hero and the new commander of the SSV Normandy, the Earth Alliance’s most advanced star ship. Shepard is one of the most interesting game heroes out there as you can customize him or her (I went with female Shepard) to look however you want and act however you want throughout the course of the game. As a result, everyone will look at this character differently and like their own version of Shepard. Anyway, after discovering that a Turian Spectre has betrayed the galactic council, Shepard is promoted to being the first Human Spectre to track the rouge Turian down and bring him in dead or alive. Of course, this leads to some unusual alliances and some shocking discoveries that could lead to the fate of the entire galaxy. The big thing that sets Mass Effect apart from other similar games is that all the decisions you make in the game really matter and effect the rest of the game and the following games. In addition to that, the size of the game is huge, having an entire galaxy to explore, and a morality system that can ultimately define your character. Mass Effect was very ambitious for its time.

However, there were quite a few technical problems. The overall game play feels and acts very clunky. There  were many times where the frame rate would drop suddenly (in combat) and one time I found  the frame rate was so bad I thought I was going to have to restart the game as it took me 4 minutes to walk a short distance because the frame rate had dropped so violently causing the game to slow down insanely. This happens in the combat more and more as you progress through the game. However, it never caused any cheap deaths or anything. Mainly because the game’s combat is stupid easy. The combat acts like an average third person shooter, aim the cursor at the enemy and shoot. You have a variety of weapons but the only one you really need is the assault rifle. I found myself using the assault rifle about 90% of the time and it got the job done. Being that you technically have unlimited ammo for your weapons (only governed by an overheat gauge) you will probably never really feel the need to use your other guns. Also becoming stuck on geometry in the game was a problem to the point where I had to restart a mission because I couldn’t get unstuck.

Aside from its technical issues, Mass Effect just starts off at a snail’s pace. It takes a good 7 to 8 hours of game play before things start really picking up. The first few hours of the game are spent on exposition and setting up the universe this game is set in and there is a lot to set up. In the menu screen when you pause the game, there is a codex with a library of information on the alien races, planets, technology ect of Mass Effect and I found myself spending a good deal of time listening and reading information from it to better understand the characters, worlds and such. I doubt every gamer will have the patience to do the same. There is a lot of time explaining how the galactic council works, how the politics of other alien governments work, how their cultures work, and, of course, character development  with lots and lots of talking ahhhhhhh… Yeah, it gets pretty boring at times. I was seriously considering skipping this game and moving onto the sequel even though the decisions you make in this game directly affect ME2.   However, I stuck with it and I will say that it got better in the second half of the game. I feel the characters are the strongest part of this game and the series. I came to love the characters of the Mass Effect games and naturally it started here. I actually rather enjoyed the conversations that you direct throughout the game which leads to many of the major decisions and the relationships you built with your crew (especially the romantic ones). The planetary exploration was also pretty fun. As someone who finds astronomy fascinating, it was neat to be able to explore the Milky Way and the many worlds in it. Many lead to little side missions where you land on an uncharted planet and explore it in this rover tank thing. Yeah, it was annoying to travel over miles of nothing to get from way point to way point but it made me think of what it would really be like exploring an alien world for the first time.
In the end, ME1 does a good job for setting up the ground work for the next two games but it’s hard to recommend for everyone. The clunky game play and slow story makes this one a chore to sit through at times and I could see why I didn’t care for it back when it first came out. However, I am ensured by other Mass Effect fans that they feel the same about the game. If you want the full experience of the trilogy, then you should play this game, especially if you are going to carry the same character throughout all three games. However, if you’re not, you might want to consider finding some kind of abridgement on internet or something and jump into Mass Effect 2 instead.

MASS EFFECT 2 (2010)

Wow! What a difference! This is how you do a sequel. Keep everything good from previous game and greatly improve everything else. I went into ME2 knowing very little about the game other than friends telling me it is amazing and they weren’t lying. ME2 has significant improvements in game play, graphics, and story. It starts off with a bang with Shepard dying as the Normandy is destroyed. Her body is then recovered and is rebuilt by the fringe human rights group Cerberus which is headed by the mysterious Illusive Man voiced by Martin Sheen.  With a new Normandy built and Shepard given a crew to put together, she sets out to find out why human colonies have been disappearing around the Terminus system and being taken by the mysterious and frightening alien race known as the Collectors. Unlike the first game that took forever to get started, ME2 throws you right into the action in within the first 10 minutes. This is where you discover the combat system has been completely retooled. Now instead of feeling like a mediocre third person shooter in an RPG, it feels like a really good third person shooter in a really good RPG. Having finished ME1 a couple hours earlier, this new combat system was a bit jarring at first but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and liked it far more than the combat in ME1. Having limited ammo was a good way to ensure that you find a use for your other weapons instead of relying on just one gun the whole time. It adds a more tactical element to the game which was missing from the first. Planetary exploration in this game is also more fun. You need to scan planets to harvest for resources for weapon upgrades and other skills. You also discover side missions this way.

Visually the game is beautiful with improvements in the character models with showing more emotion and detail. The alien models look especially impressive and live up to even the most current game graphics today. I was sad to see that my character’s romantic interest, Liara T’Soni, was not part of the Normandy crew in this game. I found my emotions running high in this game and really didn’t want it to end. It’s been a long time since I’ve played a video game has been able to do that for me. Much like the first game, the characters are easy to get attached to and this time there are even more characters that join your crew including some even more unlikely alliances. The Collectors make for more terrifying enemies than the Geth made in the first game. The final part of the game is just plain epic and I liked how you got to make use of all your crew members on the assault on the Collector base.

Overall, there isn’t much more I can say about this game. I was extremely impressed and loved it. There were a couple minor things that I ran into. It froze on me once and the loading screens are a little on the long side at times. Also while the in game cut scenes are improved, the pre-rendered cut scenes appear to have less image quality and can cut away too fast sometimes. It’s hard to explain without seeing it for yourself but it’s really a minor issue. I didn’t like that there were no grenades this time though but once again, a minor complaint. Mass Effect 2 is an amazing game and a favorite among many fans. If you didn’t like ME1, I highly recommend giving Mass Effect 2 a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.

MASS EFFECT 3 (2012)

And so we come to the final and most controversial game in the Mass Effect trilogy. The fan outrage over the ending was heard around the world and, at the time, I found it kind of amusing. I did watch the ending at the time to see what all the anger was all about so when I went into playing the game I already knew what the ending would be but we’ll get to that later. As for the rest of the game, it’s freaking amazing. This is my favorite in the trilogy. This time the stakes are higher than ever as the inevitable Reaper invasion has started and Earth is the first world to fall. Commander Shepard must head out into the rest of the galaxy to try and unite all of the alien races to defeat the Reapers as this time all live in the galaxy is at risk of being eradicated and harvested. Now you’re engaged in full scale war and obtaining war assets is a major part of the game. The battlefields with Reapers walking around in the distance make for some terrifying but awesome set pieces and the combat in this game is top notch and exhilarating.

The combat system is more or less the same from the previous game only with a dodging mechanic added in. While it is useful, I found myself clinging to walls for cover by accident more than in ME2. I really liked that the Omi-tool into a melee weapon. It was fun to use. The mission list is a bit of a mess in this game. They decided to combine the primary and secondary missions all into one list instead of having two separate lists in the previous games. It makes the mission list cluttered and confusing as tasks to complete will quickly pile up. Also the galaxy map only high lights primary missions now which can make hunting down side missions a real chore.  Planetary exploration is down played in this game as well. You still have to explore the systems in the galaxy to recover war assets scattered by the Reaper attacks but they have a new risk/reward system for exploring planets. You use a sensor to scan for abnormalities in space to ping an asset however this also attracts local Reapers to come after you. If they catch you, it’s game over. While it adds an element of danger to what was something that had no risk before, it gets kind of annoying when you’re trying to find a well hidden asset in the middle of nowhere and you have no choice but to keep hitting the sensor button over and over getting the attention of Reapers in no time.   

The music on the hand is the best in the series. In the previous games, the music was fitting but just there. ME2 had better musical scores but it was only a couple parts, not through out. ME3 has a beautiful and epic score that really gets you pumped for the battles and tugs at the heart strings when it comes to the emotionally heavy scenes. The slow piano score by Clint Mansell is especially heavy on the feels. Listening to that at the beginning of the game as you fly away from Earth watching it burn is one of the most powerful openings to a game or movie I’ve seen in a long time. This game is filled with heavy emotion and it weighs down on Shepard and the player. I’ve played many games where the fate of humanity hangs in the balance but this is the first game to truly make me feel the weight and gravity of the situation. So be ready for an emotional rollercoaster, especially if you’ve played the previous games.

It’s a powerful ride up until the ending… Oh boy, the ending… While the ending itself isn’t terrible, all the build up over the game and previous games make it a tremendous let down. The supposed three different endings is bullshit. You just get a different colored explosion. That’s pretty lame and lazy. Even then the end is pretty vague and short like 90% of game endings these days. There was such a big fan outcry from this and demanded a new ending which Bioware actually made as a DLC. I have not seen it but I’m told it’s really no better. I could tell how it would be disappointing when I first saw the ending but now having seen it with full context, I feel that disappointment. If there was more to the choices you make at the end and some explanation to what happens next or at least show what happens to your comrades. I care more about them than what happens to civilization. There isn’t even really a cliff hanger ending for the upcoming Mass Effect 4 to work off of.

Outside the massive let down of an ending, this game is amazing and I loved it up until the last 5 minutes. I highly recommend this game and I am going to actually amend my Top 5 Games of 2012 to include ME3. However, I will say that I only recommend ME3 after you have played Mass Effect 2. They go hand in hand more so than the first game. As for the trilogy as a whole, it’s hard to recommend ME1 unless you want to full experience of making all the critical choices and keeping the same character throughout the trilogy. If not, definitely start with ME2. I’m very glad I gave this series a second chance and it has definitely made me into a hardcore Mass Effect fan. Now I know that there is a Mass Effect 4 in the works and from the rumors I heard, it might be an FPS game. I really hope that’s not true. BioWare, we don’t need another Halo or Call of Duty wannabe. Just find an amazing way to keep the story and characters going somehow. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


It’s that time of year again! Time for you to read my picks for top 5 games of the year and tell me how I’m wrong! Just kidding, it’s my opinion and opinions are fun. Instead of just doing a simple 5-1 count down, I’m going to spice things up and throw in some fun little categories and silly awards before getting down to the Top 5. Some of these I took more seriously than others and you should do the same so enjoy!


Though she had a rather small role in Borderlands 2, every word out of Tiny Tina was just comedy gold. I can’t exactly put my finger on it but Tina made me laugh the most out of all the characters in Blands 2. Go on youtube and listen to all the white ghetto rap speech she has mixed in with her insane personality. Borderlands 2 could honestly fill the list with awesome NCPs like Claptrap who was also hilarious but Tina amused me a bit more. I hope to see more of her in the future.
Runners Up: Claptrap (Borderlands 2), Nick (Lollipop Chainsaw)


Man I tell ya what. Dang ol’ Scooter man, he hilarious and dang ol’ crazy trying to get into crazy love with them ladies and hoo boy howdy! He all over the place makin’ cars and catch a ride stuffs, man. Dang ol’ funny man.
Runners Up: Wei Shen (Sleeping Dogs), Conner (Assassin’s Creed 3)


Spoilers: Cortana dies in Halo 4 or whatever the equivalent to an AI dying is. My favorite aspect of Halo 4 was the exploration of Master Chief and Cortana’s relationship together. While it didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked, there was enough subtext to go on to get that Cortana does love Master Chief and he loves her though he isn’t exactly an emotional guy. It’s really sad to see her go as she has pretty much been the only friend the Chief has ever really had. You will be missed Cortana.
Runners Up: Lilith (Borderlands 2), Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw)


Now you could fill a title like this with any of the female DOA characters but I feel new comer Mia is best suited for it. With that red and black hair, long legs and vicious fighting moves, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the ring and in looks. She also has a fun little Rocky Balboa style story arch that gives you a nice feeling for this character. She’s one of my favorite fighters in DOA5 for looks and skills.


Wei Shen is one tough undercover cop and he looks good doing it. With a chiseled body that would make Bruce Lee blush and Sun On Yee dragon tattoos, Wei is one sexy Asian bad ass.


Jason Brody made for an interesting protagonist. He starts out as your rather typical rich white college student from California thrown into a situation he is completely unskilled or equipped for dealing with, scared for his life and fearing for his friends and ends up becoming a Rambo like badass in a fairly realistic manor. I was surprised. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t like him much at the start of the game but you come to real like him over time. Half way through the game his objectives seem to change but in the end it’s ultimately up to the player to decide if Jason becomes a real hero to save his friends or follow through with his seemingly new purpose in life.
Runners Up: Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw), Wei Shen (Sleeping Dogs)


That’s just the best villain name I’ve ever heard. From beginning to end, Jack is verbally and physically harassing you, making you really hate him but at the same time always wanting to hear what he’s going to say next because he’s just such a hilariously smug asshole. Like many characters in Blands 2, he has so many great lines. Look them up on youtube. I should also mention that Vaas from Far Cry 3 was VERY close to taking this title. If Vaas was in the game longer than he was, I would have named him best villain of the year.
Runners Up: Vaas (Far Cry 3), Haytham Kenway (Assassin’s Creed 3)


I only just remember that this game came out and that I played it and even own it. While this direct sequel is considered a step up from the previous game, it was sadly something that only hardcore Final Fantasy fans could enjoy. I am not one. I did like it’s time travel aspect of the game, it wasn’t enough to make me love it or keep going with it. The golden days of J-RPGs are well behind us I’m afraid.


This award is for a game I played this year but was not released this year. I’ve been trying to catch up on games I may have missed out in the past because I either didn’t have the system or just flat out didn’t know about it. Splatterhouse is one of those games. This is a title that is definitely not for everyone and has its fair share of flaws but if you want a horror game where you get to beat the shit out of everything and just take out your angry and frustration, nothing does it quite like playing this game. Splatterhouse holds the title of being one of the bloodiest and goriest games ever made. But it’s not all shock value. It does have a simple but well done story, great voice acting, and a twisted sense of humor. Plus it has all three original Splatterhouse games on the disc to unlock. I highly recommend looking up the Happy Video Game Nerd review of the game on youtube. If you like what you see, consider picking it up as you can find it really cheap online these days.


Of the many things that did not live up to the hype in this game, the promised naval battles did and they were awesome! They made for really fun and epic side missions and main missions. The ships were a lot of fun to control and maneuver in combat. All the orders being yelled, the cannons blazing, shots flying over the bow, and all happening in real time game play, no QTEs or anything, made for some truly epic battles and easily the best parts of the game. This mechanic was so good that I would love to see an entire game built around this naval battle system.


Assassin’s Creed 3 has the dubious honor of also having the worst sequence of the year. The final chase for Charles Lee resulted in me almost breaking my PS3 controller in rage out how insultingly hard, staged, and confusing this last chase is. If you’ve played it, you know. OH you know. I won’t go into anymore about it but I can tell you that Kotaku wrote up an article about how bad this sequence is. I suggest reading it.


Want to kill your enemies in a horrific way? Why not conjure up a horde of rats to devour them alive. Of all the ways to kill foes in Dishonored, rat swarm is the most satisfying and most disgusting way to do it. Just make sure they don’t turn on you when their done feeding.


A game with a music theme has to have great music right? Lollipop Chainsaw delivers with a very ecliptic soundtrack with lots of license music by bands like Five Finger Death Punch,  Toy Dolls, Dragonforce, Children of Bodom, The Chordettes, Dead or Alive, and Joan Jett just to name a few. Plus some great original music by Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence and famed video game composer Akira Yamaoka with some great pop punk type music which strangely gives me nostalgic feels for the music that was popular during my high school days. You can tell music was a bigger theme in this game than zombies.


Right from the opening cut scene, where it took me a minute to realize I was watched something game render and not live action, I realized this was going to be a beautiful game and it did not fail. Halo 4 is not just the best looking game of 2012, it is the best looking game on the Xbox 360 I’ve ever seen period. Bravo, 343 Industries!
Runners up: Mass Effect 3, Dead or Alive 5


RE 6 got a shellacking from the critics when it came out, some going as far to call it the death of the franchise. While it’s no game of the year by any means, it wasn’t THAT bad. With its four campaigns having their own feel, I think there is enough in this game for everyone to like some part of it and that’s what Capcom was going for I think. Problem is that means most people will probably not like the game as a whole, just parts of it. This is what happens when you try to please everyone at the same time. In the end though, I found myself enjoying this game more than RE5. Not too bad, Capcom but you need to step up your game.



This one honestly makes me sad. I was really, really looking forward to this game all year. The American Revolution was an excellent setting and had so much potential. But sadly, this game was a massive let down. The tons of hype building up to this game only amplified the disappointment. While not all bad, there were just too many little things that added up to ruining this game for me. The glitches, frame rate drops and slow down, the new combat system with a frustrating camera, the misuse and missed opportunities with the time period setting, boring and usually pointless side missions, an uninteresting main character, a horrible chase sequence (mentioned above), and a disappointing and weak ending all added up to make AC3 one of the most disappointing games of the year. I have no idea how this game got the 9.5 scores it received from mainstream critics.


This is a game I felt needed and deserved a sequel. What we got was more or less a remake, a very poor excuse for a remake. They stripped away everything good about the original game just to improve the graphics and the bullet kill camera. The interesting story, characters, and stealth system were all taken away. Do not play this game, find the original Sniper Elite and play that instead.

This is another game in a growing library that proves that the Xbox Kinect is only useful for dancing games. This game has been delayed over and over again since the announcement and release of the Kinect and those who were actually looking forward to this game must felt like getting a kick in the balls from Lucas Arts after buying and playing this piece of crap. You’d think that standing there pretending to use a light saber with your hands would be fun in a video game but due to the extremely poor recognition and sensing of the Kinect, it just ends up being unresponsive and frustrating. Vehicle levels also provide the same amount of frustration. The Racor level was actually pretty fun where you stomp around like Godzilla and destroy Mos Eisley but its fun for like five minutes. Sadly, the most entertaining mode in the game is the dancing game mode and that’s because you’ll be laughing so hard at how stupid it is. Seeing Darth Vader and the Emperor dancing to Deadmau5 makes it somewhat worth it and hearing the reworked licensed song lyrics to make them Star Wars related. You’ll be laughing your ass off but the Star Wars fan inside you will be hanging itself seeing that this is what the franchise has degraded to. You are better off going to the toy store, buying a toy light saber and running around swinging that around. Do not play this game or buy a Kinect. 



  This game is a must play if you’re a fan of GTA style games and cannot wait till GTA5. Part of what makes this game work is the Hong Kong setting and dealing with Chinese Triads. Wei Shen makes for an interesting protagonist as he deals with gaining the trust of the Chinese mafia as an undercover cop. While not the greatest sandbox crime game ever, it’s one of the best GRA style games this year.

4. FAR CRY 3

Ubisoft snuck this one end at the end of the year but it should not be over looked. Being the first Far Cry game with a strong story and characters and having a hunting and gathering survival system that really matters, Far Cry 3 is a lot of fun to explore and experiment with. The beautiful island setting is both beautiful and dangerous at the same time with both human and natural dangers. The game also has one of the best villains I’ve seen in a long time with Vaas who is just creepy yet mesmerizing to watch. Far Cry 3 is a must play for FPS fans who love realistic shooters but are tired of all the military shooters out there.


Technically this game out last year, however, the version I am talking about specifically wasn’t released till this year. One of the grittiest RPGs I’ve ever played, The Witcher 2 is a lot of fun and has a very immersive world. A great cast of characters, an interesting and fun action combat system, a complex and very adult storyline make for a must own RPG title. CD Projekt did an excellent job porting this game to the 360. While it looks a lot better on PC, it plays better with a controller as that’s what it was originally designed for. If you’re a fan of Euro-RPGs and you haven’t played Witcher 2, you’re missing out.


I really wish I had gotten into Mass Effect sooner.  This game was amazing and one of the most powerful gaming experiences I’ve had in years. This game was so good; I had to amend my picks for 2012 as it definitely deserved a spot. I’ve played many games where the fate of humanity is at stake but this was the first game to make me truly feel the weight of the situation at hand. With the amazing cast of character that fans have come to know and love, multiple story paths and decisions, and epic battles and missions, this is an excellent finish to what is known as the Mass Effect Trilogy... Except for the ending… The massive let down of an ending and a few other little problems keeps this from earning my game of the year award but it comes damn close.  I did recently view the DLC ending and I did like it better than the game’s default endings but why couldn’t they just go with that in the first place? Regardless, this game is a must play but only after playing Mass Effect 2. I can’t say this game stands as well on its own without experiencing the previous titles (or at least ME2) before playing to get the full effect. 


This game surprised me with how addicting, funny, and entertaining it is. The nearly perfect mix of an FPS game and an RPG with a great story, even better characters, hilarious and witty writing, huge areas to explore, it’s sci-fi western setting, and tons of guns to experiment and play with, Borderlands 2 is a gaming experience you should not miss. A must play if you are tired of all the Call of Duty wannabe shooters that have flooded the market over the past few years and the best co-op experience since Left 4 Dead. I proclaim Borderlands 2 as the best game of 2012.

Thank you for reading! There are a lot of games coming out in 2013 that I am really looking forward to, even more so than in 2012. Be on the lookout for my upcoming reviews of DmC (Devil May Cry 5), Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, Rainbow Six: Patriots, The Last of Us, the Tomb Raider reboot, and more!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dishonored Game Review

I finally got around to playing and beating Dishonored, a game many people where telling me I should play. The same amount of people also told me the game was just ‘okay.’ After playing it, I find it to between the ‘MUST PLAY’ and ‘OKAY’ recommendations I was hearing. The game play makes the game worth it but it falls flat in several other areas. The game was published by Bethesda Games, who if you know me, I am not a fan of theirs. However, it was developed by Arkane Studios who had worked on Bioshock 2 previously and it shows because this game feels a lot like a Bioshock. Dishonored is a first person super natural stealth action game that gives the player freedom of how to go about the game’s missions. Honestly, I did not like this game at first however, after figuring out ‘how to play it’ exactly, it suddenly turned to a lot of fun. But the game is still weak in certain areas. Let’s take a closer look.

STORY: In Dishonored, you play as Corvo returning to the island city of Dunwall. The city is being ravaged by a plague, Corvo, the head royal protector of Empress Kaldwin, was sent to neighboring islands to find a cure. Returning with no cure, things go bad when they are suddenly ambushed by assassins killing the Empress. Corvo appears to be the killer when the rest of her guards show up and there are no witnesses. Framed with the empress’s murder, Corvo must escape prison and set out with a resistance movement to restore order to the city and clear his name. The story is cliché and nothing new we haven’t seen before. The big plot twist in the middle of the game is predictable and I could see it coming from a mile away. I was underwhelmed by the story. The game does have multiple endings that vary on how you play the game. You get the best ending if you get through the game without getting noticed much or not killing very many people. The worst ending happens if you kill lots of people and can cause lots of chaos. I’m not really sure which ending I got. I watched both on youtube and neither one was very good to me. Both seemed like standard 2 minite game endings that quickly wrap up everything like in 90% of games these days.

The game’s characters do not help much with the story. I found almost all of them rather uninteresting and like the plot, cliché. Corvo could have been an interesting character if he wasn’t a silent protagonist. I’m not too big a fan of these types of main characters that you usually see in first person games. I understand if the character you play as has no background, establishments or a face as they are supposed to be a role you, the player, can step into and make your own. This works for some games, not for others. Here, it didn’t work for me.

While I did not find much interest in the story and characters, I did find the setting really interesting. Dunwall is a grim and depressing city to say the least. There is death all around with plague victims dead and dying in the streets, rats are everywhere, and the oppressive government raping its people. If you could smell this game, it would smell of death. The game has this early 19th century look to it but has some advances like War of the Worlds like walkers and other futuristic security devices. It’s kind of like steam punk but everything runs on whale oil so I guess you’d call it… Whale... Punk? I don’t know but it is definitely one of the more unique things about the game.

GAMEPLAY: Here is where the game shines most. While the levels seem linier, they are filled with all sorts of paths to take to complete your objectives if you explore the areas. Like I said, the style in which you play effects the ending and knowing that really bugged me and hindered me from really enjoying the game at first. Sneaking around or rather the way I was trying to sneak around was not working and, more often than not, I would get spotted and have to kill everyone in the area before I could move on. I was still using the stay low and hide behind things method of stealth from Far Cry 3 though. Making use of the magic powers you get is the most important aspect in this game. I usually tend to be conservative in using magic powers like these in most games and usually save it for bosses or whatever so in the beginning I kept forgetting I even had magic and was not using it. But I should have been using and experimenting with the powers the whole time. Once I got this down, I started having much more fun. Your magic powers include dark sight which lets you look through walls to spot enemies and objects, brink which lets you teleport and is the most used power so best to master it, rat swarm which conjures a swarm of rats to attack and devour someone (by the way, if you have a fear of rats, you will not like this game), the ability to slow down time, possession which lets you enter the body of animals or other people to gain access to places you usually wouldn’t, and tornados you can shoot at people. In addition to this magic, Corvo also has a variety of conventional weapons to use like his neat switch blade short sword, pistols, cross bow, grenades, traps, and can even turn the enemy’s weapons against them by reprogramming devices.

Experimenting with all of this is fun once you get the hang of it. Since the game has multiple endings and different ways that parts of the game can play out, the game warrants multiple playthroughs. There is a level set at a masquerade party that has lots of possibilities. I really enjoyed that level. However, most people will tell you that trying to get through the game unseen is ultimately a very frustrating experience. I don’t doubt it can be done but you’re a more hardcore gamer than I if you can. Sneaking up and killing people unseen is more exciting than sneaking around and not killing anyone to me. But I guess that’s the beauty of the game play.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Another game that I’m sure looks a lot better on PC but as for the consoles, Dishonored is nothing too special to look at in terms of visuals. I like the look of Dunwall but the textures have nothing too eye popping about them and there is some texture pop-in. During some fights, I encounter some fairly dramatic frame rate slow down but this wasn’t often. Much like with Far Cry 3, if graphics really matter to you, play this on the PC. The character designs look like something from a graphic novel which is fitting but it doesn’t translate too well into 3D. Main thing that stood out to me was how big men’s hands were compared to their heads. I didn’t really care of it. Also one of the characters looks like a caricature of Hugo Weaving. Corvo looks alright though with and without the mask on. The mask he wears kind of creeps me out but is really cool at the same time. Some people might like the character design; I didn’t really care for it.

In terms of sound effects the game generally sounds great. I noticed some reused sounds from Bioshock like the sound of eating food and collecting items. The sounds of combat and killing people sound brutally great especially when stabbing someone from behind. The sounds of rats devouring bodies are degusting and great at the same time. The unsettling ambient sounds of random screams in Dunwall add to the dark feeling of the game. The game’s music is another story. It’s hardly there. When it is, it’s fitting but nothing special. There is a song over the game’s end credits that is pretty good but it cuts out half way through the credits just leaving us with silence. Usually another song would kick in. I find this rather lazy. The voice acting sadly does not help the already uninteresting characters at all plus poor dialogue writing. Most of the characters just sound monotone and barely trying. I was surprised to find out that there were quite a few Hollywood actors cast for rolls in this game like Susan Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Carrie Fisher, John Slattery, and Chloe Grace Moretz to name a few. Moretz is the only voice actor worth mentioning as she plays the daughter of the Empress and it’s her first time voice acting in a video game and she does a good job. No one else seems to give a damn and that’s kinda sad. Also I feel it would have helped if the characters had European accents. They all sound American in this setting that has a very European feel to it. It’s kinda off putting.

Overall, Dishonor’s core game mechanic is solid. The ability to make use of some really cool magic to sneak around and assassinate people or not is a lot of fun. All the multiple paths to take in a stage to reach your objectives add a lot of replay value to the game. Dunwall is a really dark yet cool setting that makes for an excellent atmosphere. However, the story and characters are weak and fall flat. If that really matters to you, you will be pretty disappointed in most of this game. Some have complained that this game is very short, especially for something from Bethesda but considering the multiple endings and replay value, I think that it works in its favor. It’s definitely not for everyone and I would wait for it to come down a little more in price to play it if you haven’t already. This is still a better assassin game than Assassin’s Creed 3.


Now that that is out of the way, I will start writing up my Top 5 Games of 2012 list. Look out for it within the next week!