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1:20 PM on 01.14.2012

Must Have Exclusive Games (DS)

Due to a lack of games that I really want to play with a review in mind, I’ve decided to do a different kind of blog post. This will be a list of all the games that I think you must have if you own a certain console, (which is kind of like a review, right?) I’ll be covering all of this generation’s game consoles, with the 3DS replaced with your good ol’ friendly normal DS, because the 3DS has yet to get even 5 okay games yet. Also, while I’m interested in what games you think a gamer must have, if it’s not on this list, its most likely because I haven’t played that game, (so no hate, please). Due to time constraints, I’m going to have to do these in single console lists, and so, let’s start with everyone’s favourite handheld, the DS.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – 999 is a game that takes the idea of the visual novel style of storytelling and takes it to the next level. With a host of likable characters, a good and deep storyline, (which only gets deeper on subsequent playthroughs), and masses of detail that you may only realise exists if you go onto a site like TVTropes, (after which your mind will equal blown). This is a definite must have for anyone who even remotely cares about story or enjoys the room escape/puzzle genre.

New Super Mario Bros – NSMB is easily one of the top games released by Nintendo in recent years, and surpasses Super Mario 3D Land in pretty much every way. It has a difficulty curve that it challenging yet never really frustrates. It brings the mind back to the good 2D Mario games of old, and with hidden secrets, will keep bringing you back for more. A must have for any platformer fan.

Pokemon White/Black – What can I say about a Pokemon game that everyone doesn’t know already? The latest generation brings back the feel of the first with ease because not only do we get to explore a completely new land, we also get a whole new set of Pokemon to explore it with, with nary a Pikachu or Rattata in sight. This feeling of exploration will bring many back to their childhood days and will bring a smile to your face, and with the use of internet trading, catching them all has never been simpler.

Professor Layton – I cannot single out any particular Prof Layton game, because they’re all so great. While you should feel that you should start with the first, you won’t feel out of place if you don’t. The puzzles are loads of fun, the story is easily worth your time, and you won’t get bored with the characters and their English ways. A must have for any puzzler out there.

The World Ends With You – TWEWY is simply the best RPG for the DS, which should instantly bring this game into anyone’s want list. With a fun story that won’t stop twisting, characters that you wish you could hang out with and a look that never goes out of style this is one of the most complete games out there. The gameplay may take a little while to get used to, but with the ability to customise how you fight, you’ll always find a way to play. The only problem that I can think of about this game is that not enough people have it which means you may have to miss out on stuff in it, but there’s so much there already, you won’t feel like you missed anything.   read

4:11 PM on 11.28.2011

Review: Assassin's Creed: Revelations

So for my third review, I have been playing the 3rd game, (on the 360, I know he appears in others), to feature Ezio Auditore da Firenze, which is Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. I have been playing the Assassin’s Creed games ever since the first one came out. I loved the fact that it was a game about sneaky killing, not just sneaking or killing, so it felt very much to me like a breath of fresh air, and have been pre-ordering ever since, ending in me getting the collector’s edition for AC:R, (due partly to continued love of the series, partly due to my getting a job…). So, the question this time is whether a great game will be revealed to me, or whether I wish I was back with my brother’s hood, (wait, I think I spelt that wrong…).

The game begins where the last one left off, with Desmond, (who is Ezio’s descendant), having stabbed his friend/lover/what have you, Lucy whilst under the control of an ancient artefact, called ‘The Apple’. The shock that he did this causes Desmond to go into a coma, after which he is placed into a machine call the Animus in an attempt to wake him. The Animus has another effect, which allows Desmond to see the memories of ancestors through his DNA, which brings us to Ezio. When starting as Ezio, you find him on a trip to Masyaf, (the hometown of another ancestor, AltaΪr), so that Ezio can learn the secrets left behind by those who came before. Finding it overrun by the assassins’ mortal enemy, the Templars, Ezio is forced to flee and find another way to get what he wants. Also, during the game, you will have the ability to go through AltaΪr’s story after the end of the first game, which is quite interesting and a very fun bit on the side.

The characters all play major parts in the game, and quite a few of them are based on historical figures, (loosely, might I add). The characters are split into those that you work with, and those that you will end up stabbing in the face, (because I’m sure you’ll be wanting to, otherwise, what’s the point?) The characters that you’ll team up with will be fun to be around and all add a little bit extra to the world around them, especially Yusuf, who I found quite hilarious and helped make the game a much more fun place to be. The enemy range from the major to the minor, with the major being almost game long problems, (major problems, that you’ll hate), and the minor being some guys that you need to get rid of to accomplish your goals. All in all, the characters are done well enough so that you either love or hate them, (hopefully the right way around), without overstaying their welcome.

The main part of gameplay in this is the ability to free-run, which continues the trend from the last few games as being very good and flowing, but with the slightest nudge of the analogue stick tending to knock you off track, which can be very annoying, especially if it keeps happening, (unless I just suck…). There are some new additions to the free-running, which include the zip-wire and the hookblade, which both add quite a bit to how you think about getting around. The zip-wire allows you to speed around the map quicker and allow the ability to do air assassinations when you’re zipping above some unsuspecting guy. The hookblade means that you jump further and climb higher, which makes scaling buildings, usually an annoyance a much easier thing to do as you don’t have to find the one bit of the building low enough to reach as much.

Another main part, (or to many), the main part is the combat and assassinations, or as I call it, the ‘blade to the face!’ part. Ezio is able to silently assassinate enemy guards and the like from a myriad of positions, from a ledge and from a haybale being only a couple of them. And if this fails, there are also Ezio’s weapons to use during combat which is still mostly about countering an enemy’s attack, and then doing flowing into killing all of his friends, which can really stack up after a while. Apart from the new zip-wire assassination mentioned above, there is a major addition to Ezio tools of murder and disorientation, being the new ability to craft various types of bombs. These bombs’ effect range from causing instant death to blinding and distracting, and can be changed to use in different situations, from a trip wire to a sticky bomb, and even the area of effect of these bombs can be changed, which really adds to your ability to both mess about and get the job done.

Two totally new additions to the gameplay are the Desmond’s memory’s sections and the base defense mini-game. The Desmond’s memory section is in first person, and play similar to Portal’s puzzles, but with the ability to place platforms instead of portals. The only real reason you’d play through this is for Desmond’s backstory, (which is fun to listen to), because the puzzles aren’t all that challenging, and to me, distract from what the game is all about. The base defense mini-game comes from the fact that instead of there only being one Assassin’s den, there are multiple, (which are unlocked by destroying Templar towers). This plays very much like any other castle defense game, and if you’re good at hiding, you’re very unlikely to come across this more than once, (I came across it twice), so this does feel a little tacked on.

I really enjoyed this game, and whilst suffering from ‘sequel sickness’, a term I shall now use to describe a game that plays very much like the prequel, but with enough new stuff to keep you interested and with it being what you wanted it to be. I was saddened by the loss of the Subject 16 side quests in favour of Desmond’s memories, but that’s probably just me enjoying the riddles and history stuff that happened in them. If you loved or even liked the prequels to this game, then this is a must get, and if you’re new to the series, the only reason I wouldn’t recommend this to you is because you’d be coming in at the end of a story, which will kinda ruin it.

I’m gonna give this game an 8/10, which I know is less than my Arkham City review, and whilst I believe these games to be very similar in quality, I love Batman soooo much more than old man Ezio. Also, I have not been able to give the multiplayer a try just yet, for my time has been taken up with other things, (Skyrim, its awesome). I may write an addition to this about the multiplayer in the future, but if it’s anything like the one in Brotherhood, it’ll be one of my favorites.   read

4:35 AM on 11.12.2011

Review: Batman: Arkham City

So, this is going to be my second review, and for it, I’ll be looking at Batman: Arkham CITY, not Asylum, like I keep on accidentally calling it… After getting Asylum as part of the Square-Enix pack deal on Steam a while back, I played it and really, really enjoyed it, thinking that the pack was worth it just for that, so when I heard of a sequel, I instantly looked to pre-order it ASAP, and then waited for it arrive, (a wait 3 weeks longer than it should have been, goddamn post office losing my mail). So, the question this time is whether or not I’ll be living it large in the city, or wishing I was back in the Asylum.

The game begins with our titular character being taken into Arkham City, (as his alter-ego), which is now being used as a much expanded Arkham Asylum, (probably because they knew that the inmates would escape eventually, so they might as give them somewhere to mess up during their incarceration…). This new city is being controlled by Dr. Strange, who Batman fans may know as the man who ran the Asylum in the comic books. This leaves the scene set for Batman to do what he does best, beating down thugs, taking out the bosses of the world of villainy and just being awesome.

The main story sees you taking on the main villains in the Batman universe while the lesser villains are taken on during the games many, many side missions, which are both interesting and fun to take part in. The game has a very good story, with many twists and turn, which follows on from where Asylum leaves us. All of the characters are well done, with their characterisation exactly as you would expect. Their voices are all excellent, except one, which, while not bad, was particularly confusing, (you’ll likely know which one when you play it.)

The first thing you notice when you start the game is that it is much more open-world, as you might be able to guess considering that the game is set in a city instead of a building. This has the unfortunate effect of making the game feel looser, but this is made up for by giving you a much bigger world in which you can mess about in. It does also change the game from ‘what route should I take?’ to get around all of these guards to ‘which rooftop should I jump to next?’, which is good fun, especially when you listen to all the guards talking and think about which one you’re going to take out next. Sadly, the game mostly does away with the stealthy, stealthy things you had to do to get around people that took pride of place in Asylum, and is mostly kept to when you’re inside a building, (which does happen a lot when you’re not just messing about, which is good.)

The world is filled with lots of things to do, ranging from its many side missions to the Riddler trophies and riddles that are scattered around, which will make you think about how to get them all, (some of the answers may make you think that you were playing a Professor Layton game). There are special enemies spread around the map that, when interrogated place icons on the map to show you where all of the various Riddler challenges are at, to help you not waste time spending ages searching through the massive city. The side missions, as I mentioned, mostly deal with the side villains from the Batman universe and take up quite a bit of time, and help to spread out the main story, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being pushed to do it, which, while not in keeping with the story, is a great way for helping you to enjoy it. These side missions are also spread out throughout the story, so you get the feeling that they are happening parallel to it.

The combat is exactly how you would imagine it, flowing and dramatic, (with all of the slow-motion you could ever want). There are a variety of moves that you can perform, (and for some enemies, need to perform). You also use all of Batman gadgets during combat to switch it up, with effects varying from disabling to disorientating. Outside of combat, you can do a range of special takedown moves, which completely disable an enemy, if you are undetected and these can done from a load of different areas to be used in a myriad of ways.

The boss battles are well done, each having their own strategies required to beat them, and the game will help you in telling you what those strategies may be, and if you fail, then it’ll be more upfront with what you need to do to win. They provide the necessary amount of challenge without being so difficult that you cannot proceed with the story.

The Catwoman bonus pack is a nice addition to the game, but not absolutely necessary to enjoy it. She plays like a somewhat weaker Batman, but the gameplay remains mostly unchanged, with the main change being that you have to jump up buildings instead of using a zip wire and the lack of all of his gadgety goodness. It provides a nice distraction from the main game, and means that you have to think of new ways to complete the challenges put before you.

All in all, the game is thoroughly enjoyable, and whilst being more of the same of what we got in Asylum, that’s exactly what I wanted, and having more space to do it in only helps improve the experience. It may not be able to stack up to the heights of Asylum, this is a very well done sequel is worthy of bearing the torch being passed down by its predecessor.

I’m going to award this game with an 8.5/10 and I hope you enjoyed what is only part of the iterative process that learning how to write reviews.   read

3:18 PM on 10.20.2011

Review: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

For my first review, I’ve decided to take on the ‘what if’ adventures of Frank West in Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. After really enjoying Dead Rising and then Dead Rising 2 and its prequel and sequel games, I was really pumped, (read: waited for another one, with a pre-order placed as early as I could), for this game. So, the question is whether this will be another tense as all hell story of survival and slaughter or another one of the run of the mill zombie games that we seem to be flooded with as of late.

When you start the game, you see that story has been tweaked from Dead Rising 2 to incorporate a new main character, even including a (sort-of) tutorial of photography. However, you soon realise that the story is pretty much a carbon copy of that in DR2 with only a few major plot points changed to make sense. The story revolves around Frank’s attempt to regain his credibility after losing it over the years since the prequel instead of Chuck’s desire to save his child. This selfishness on Frank’s part comes through during the game’s cutscenes and it does become a bit hard to really care for his plight, as opposed to really caring for Chuck’s story.

However, Frank’s dickish qualities do lend themselves very well the gameplay what with all the mass slaughter with comedy weapons that the series is famous for. There are new weapons that can be found as well as created, all of which add a little something extra. Also, with a new character comes new skills, some of which play perfectly for Frank, (see the picture above). The new area doesn’t add too much to the game, but it is fun to run around an amusement park full of zombies and see how they react to all the rides. Sadly, I found the game was plagued with glitches, some worse than others. The worst one is where one of the survivors glitched and wouldn’t let me rescue them, (what made it even worse is that it was a survivor I really, I mean REALLY, wanted to save). The others ranged from the game stopping for a few seconds, one after the other, or feeling that the character was being pushed to the right, but does also include a cutscene that didn’t have any sound and kept stopping so that I had to bring up the Xbox guide to unstop it.

The new sandbox mode adds the ability to have an infinite amount of time to spend on doing what Frank does best. It also adds challenges for you to complete, which can range from killing as many zombies as you can in a set time limit to a foot and climbing race. One of the best bits of the sandbox mode is the ability to earn money and experience in it and then transfer it across to the story mode, (which is very useful if you ever need to get loads o’ money). It plays very much like the infinity mode in Dead Rising, just without the health depletion, so beware other survivors for they may not take too nicely to your attempts to have fun…

All in all, Off the Record is good addition to the series, but lacks both the emotion and excitement of Dead Rising 2 and has too many problems to justify getting it instead of it. If you have played the other games in the series and want more of it, or even just the sandbox mode, then this game is for you, but if you want it for the story, it is too similar to 2 to make it worthwhile. However, if you’re unsure of the series, this won’t be as good at selling it to you as Dead Rising 2 would be.

I’m going to give this game a 7/10 and I want to thank you for reading my first attempt at a full length review and hope you’ll want me to write more.   read

10:44 AM on 03.31.2010

My Top Ten Games of all Time

It's pretty damn hard to make a top ten list of anything, esp games, with their many genres and styles. What makes it even harder is the number of games that I've played throughout my life, (which must now number in the thousands by now, and that's bloody scary). Over the coming months I hope to be able to write about why each of the games is in my top ten, and I may do other top tens of the various genres as time goes by as well.

So, to start it off, I thought that I should put my list up for all to see:

Persona 4 (PS2)
Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2)
Final Fantasy IX (PS1)
Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
The World Ends With You (DS)
Star Ocean: The Last Hope (Xbox 360)
Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Metal Gear Solid (PS1)

As you can see, most of the games above are JRPG's, and that's mostly to do with the fact that I love a good story, and it all started with watching my friend play, subsequently helping, and being better at FF7 about 14 years ago. When I started watching him play it, he had only just started playing it, he was going through the first mako reactor). At this point in my life, the only games I had played were ones based on shows, or other such "children's" games, and it was my first time even hearing of Final Fantasy, and from then I was hooked, and have been playing them ever since.   read

7:32 AM on 03.31.2010


It took a while and a lot of hard work, (read "trouble"), but my first podcast is now up and running, and will take any questions that people have for the next recording which will be on Sunday. You can listen to it here:

or you can download it off of iTunes.

Thank you for listening.   read

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