Hello gamers! Welcome to the 5th installment of the Buy it/Avoid it Report! A lot exciting stuff has been happening here on Destructoid recently. A few of our fellow community members got black and white avatars and real names! Who would have thought that a dude who's name was synonymous with the word "boner" would have been promoted to the US Community Manager position!? Huge congratulations to Mr Andy Dixon
(mrandydixon), Sean Daisy
(CaptainBus), Alasdair Duncan
(Ali D) and any others that I may have missed! I couldn't be happier for all of you and I can't wait to see your future contributions!
Now allow me to focus the spotlight on another wonderful gentleman for a moment, if I may. AlphaDeus
, our local musical genius, has dreamed up an amazing project. He has put it upon himself to create the Destructoid Community Soundtrack, comprised of individual theme songs for over 35 different community members, all by request! Check out his blog if you haven't already to get a sampling of a few "completed" tracks. They'll blow your fucking mind!!
Anyway, hi. Let's focus on me now. I've played a few games recently and I would like to share my thoughts with you. I've pared down my usual offering of six games to four in the hopes that I can get these out on a more consistent basis.
Let's do this!
>> L.A. Noire
follows the law enforcement career of WWII veteran Cole Phelps as he works his way through the ranks of a corrupt LAPD. As expected, you’ll spend your time searching crime scenes for evidence, interrogating suspects and getting into the occasional shootout and car chase as you inch closer to solving each case. All of this takes place on the streets of a painstakingly recreated version of 1940s Los Angeles, with tons of actual consumer products and vehicles from the time period. An impressive amount of variety and detail went into the little things, like store fronts and furniture, helping to make the city feel like a natural, livable place. Speaking of detail, the much lauded MotionScan technology used by Team Bondi does not disappoint. The best thing about it is that it feels very natural to have an actor’s voice and facial performance presented together. There are still some kinks to iron out (look at the mouth!) but it could be argued that some of the hiccups are due to the limitations of our current console hardware. Now they just need to expand this technology to capture their entire body because....yikes, mannequin bodies all up in this.
Unexpectedly, L.A. Noire
feels like it was built with the casual gamer in mind. Regardless of how diligent or lazy your police work is, promotions will fall in your lap as the story proceeds along its predetermined path. This is great news for those who love TV shows like C.S.I.
and Mad Men
but might leave a more serious gamer feeling gypped out of what could have been a more unique experience. When collecting evidence, your controller will vibrate to let you know there is something to pick up and Phelps will straight up tell you whether it’s worth noting or not. Driving segments can be completely skipped, if you wish, by instructing your partner to take the wheel. I feel the interrogations, more than anything else, suffered due to this casual approach however. After each statement from a suspect, you’re always left with the same three options to further the conversation: truth, doubt or lie. This overly simplistic approach can be somewhat counterintuitive at times because you often have no idea what direction Phelps will take the accusation. It doesn’t sour the whole experience, but I found it extremely
frustrating at times.
BUY IT if you live a somewhat solitary life and just need someone convincingly lifelike to talk to once in a while.
AVOID IT if you're bothered by the fact that you can't whip out your gun and "get some real answers" during interrogations.
Alice: Madness Returns
I’m not sure if I have ever complained that a game was too damn long. More often than not, games are too short these days, right? Just as you begin to get immersed in something, the credits roll and you’re stuck with a 2 year wait until you can continue the story. That is most definitely not
the case with American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns
. Each of the six chapters can take up to 4 hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend searching for hidden items. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t found myself praying for each chapter to end just so I could get a change of scenery. The main issue with Madness
is repetition. The gameplay falls into a rut somewhere towards the beginning of the second chapter and then spends the rest of the game digging that rut deeper and deeper. Even though unique enemies populate each new chapter, the combat relies on the same tactics throughout. The repeated, lengthy platforming segments fail to evolve whether you're in a frozen wasteland or an Asian themed mountainside. In a way, Madness Returns
kind of feels like a re-skin of a game from the N64 era, with annoying issues left in for the sake of nostalgia.
In all fairness, the combat works pretty well. The classic Vorpal Blade serves as the light attack and the Hobby Horse (which is basically a big ass hammer) is the heavy attack. Ranged weapons come in the form of a Pepper Grinder (machine gun) and a Tea Pot (grenade launcher). As you upgrade their power they’ll take on different color schemes but essentially stay the same. A handy dodge mechanic is included and is necessary for avoiding many of the attacks thrown your way. Alice also has a crazy triple jump and float mechanic that you’ll become very intimate with as it’s the only way you’ll traverse the endless stream of floating platforms. The ability to grab the edges of platforms (which was present in the first game) is painfully absent here, for unknown reasons. Lord knows I could have used it the hundred or so times I almost
made a jump and was left screaming at my TV screen as I slowly floated to my death. With all the emphasis on jumping, I found it strange that they failed to include a jump attack, though I enventually learned to live without it. Alice: Madness Returns
nearly drove me to madness at times but perhaps that was part of their evil plan all along.
BUY IT if you have the imagination of a demented child and the patience of a Tibetan monk.
AVOID IT if the promise of a new environment and a matching dress for Alice every 4 hours does little to entice you.
Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D
To be clear, I’m not going to go near the save data situation as the proverbial dead horse has been beaten to a fleshy, shapeless pulp and the topic is stale. I’d prefer to focus on the real tragedy of Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D
: it could have been so much better
. Perhaps I should explain where it all began. My love of Mercenaries
started with its inclusion in one of my favorite games of all time, Resident Evil 4
. It was essentially an arcade-style high score mode that took iconic areas from the campaign, locked you in with an infinite number of enemies, handed you a pistol and started the countdown to extraction. You could pick from a bunch of classic RE characters, all with their own weapon load-outs and unique melee attacks. Although the ultimate goal was survival, it was immensely important to collect the time bonuses dispersed throughout the stage in order to give you ample time to maximize your score. The process of collecting all the medals, characters and stages was gloriously addicting. Of course, once I had it all unlocked, all I wanted to do was keep playing and beat my scores. I was in heaven.
So here I am six and a half years later, with a 3DS in my hands and a tear in my eye, wondering where it all went wrong. Where should I start? None of the maps in this game (of which there are only 8
) are new which is highly disappointing for a dedicated Mercenaries
title. Would it have killed them to create one
new stage? Although there are a couple fresh faces on the character select screen, there is one glaring omission - where the hell is Leon? Heck, where is Ada Wong? Who the fuck
is Rebecca Chambers?! She SUCKS!! Petty fanboy complaints aside, the game could run a lot smoother. The animations leave a lot to be desired and fallen enemies just magically disappear rather than melting away like the previous games. It might sound like I hate the game but I don’t. I’m just disappointed. If this game had spent a little more time in development, it could have been amazing. In its current state however, the best analogy I can think of is a soggy, undercooked biscuit.
BUY IT if you feel that the inclusion of HUNK negates any and all complaints about the character selection and overall game quality.
AVOID IT if you'll have a tough time coughing up $40 for a downgraded version of something you've already played before.
Shadows of the Damned
Fact: Suda51 will never let you forget that you’re playing one of his games. Love him or hate him, his distinctly bizarre style permeates absolutely every aspect of his projects. Take Shadows of the Damned
for example. If you were to strip away all the crazy, it’s a fairly formulaic third person shooter with some light horror elements. You blast your way through enemies and find keys to unlock doors. Along the way, there are shops from which you can purchase weapon and health upgrades. After you defeat the boss, they drop an item that will help power you up for your next battle. The gameplay is solid and plays is similar to Dead Space
and the recent entries of the Resident Evil
series. The basics of the story tread familiar territory as well. The hero’s girlfriend is captured by an evil dude so he and his trusty sidekick follow them back to the evil dude’s lair in order to save her. But describing Shadows of the Damned
in such a way does it absolutely no justice because you’d be ignoring all the best parts. The fucking insane parts
Allow me to share a few examples with you. Locked doors are signified by the heads of hungry infants which demand that you stuff brains, eyes or strawberries into their mouths in order to proceed. Your weapons fire bones, skulls and teeth instead of bullets. Demon pubes are a common obstruction. Your health bar is replenished by chugging bottles of tequila and absinthe. A half demon named Christopher, who runs the in-game shop, eats your money and vomits your purchases onto the ground. At times you wield a gun called the Big Boner, which is acquired by calling a phone sex line and holding your sidekick Johnson up to the reciever. There is a boss that screams nothing but “FUCK YOU!!”. You just can’t play this game without laughing out loud or being completely disgusted. Much to my delight, both Shinji Mikami (the creator of Resident Evil
) and Akira Yamaoka (the sound designer for the Silent Hill
series) leant their unique talents to Shadows of the Damned
. Their contributions went a long way in making what would have already been a great game into something truly special.
BUY IT if having macabre children's stories read to you by a barely literate Mexican demon slayer was already on your to-do list.
AVOID IT if you don't need a video game to give you a reason to start swinging around your Big Boner.
That's all for issue number five! As always, thanks for taking the time to read this and for any feedback you have for me. Try to enjoy this unbearable summer and I'll see you all next time!