Hello gamers! Welcome to the 6th installment of the Buy it/Avoid it Report!
PAX Prime is exactly a week away and some of the recent decisions I've made are becoming all too real. I'll be rooming with a few of my closest Dtoid buddies in Seattle and meeting many more of them at the convention itself. It's so exciting! These are people that I've developed close friendships with and many others that are still merely caricatures in my mind. Luckily I'll have my lovely girlfriend with me so that'll hopefully ease some of my nervousness. I literally can't wait!
In other news, holy shit
there are a lot of games coming out soon. For me, it starts next week with Deus Ex Human Revolution
and continues on to Gears of War 3
, Dead Island
, Batman Arkham City
, Battlefield 3
, Mario Kart 7
, Uncharted 3
, Dark Souls
, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
and a few others that aren't coming to mind at the moment. This happens every damn year and it's so hard to keep up with everything. On top of it all, I'm the store manager of a video game retailer so things get incredibly busy when all the good stuff is coming out. This is starting to sound like I'm complaining but I'm really not. For lack of a better phrase, I'll just say that my body is ready.
Let's do this!
Itís tough for me to get excited about remakes and re-releases these days. Maybe my nostalgia gland has dried up or maybe Iíd just rather let those fond memories pile up in the back of my mind while I move on to new experiences. It was for this reason that I passed on GoldenEye 007
for the Wii when it came out last year. I thought to myself, ďMan, I had some of the best times of my young gaming life with the Nintendo 64 version of GoldenEye
those guys at Activision for trying to use that against me!Ē After all, those dicks replaced Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig and changed the story around to fit their needs. It sounded awful. I pretty much ignored the reviews and spent my time playing the other 87 games that came out last holiday instead. However, when the new copy was marked down to $10 during a recent sale, I pushed aside my pointless hatred and took a chance.
As the game dropped me into the first stage, everything looked all too familiar. I snuck up to the sniper tower, took out the idiot guard and prepared to super-spy my way down the tunnel like I had down countless times before. However, moments later I was barrelling down the tunnel in a stolen truck, smashing into barricades and firing my automatic weapon through the shattered windshield at any guard that got in my way. This was all new to me. What I was playing was clearly inspired
by, but not a remake of, the game I knew and loved. Even better, it was packed with solid gunplay, amazing set pieces and fantastic pacing - all presented with a decidedly cinematic flair. My favorite feature? The automatic takedowns. If you can get within melee range of an enemy, all you have to do is tap the melee button and Bond will punch throats, snap elbows and break necks on command. It sure beats the hell out of that awkward (and largely ineffective) pistol whip from the original game.
BUY IT if your poor Wii hasn't gotten any FPS love since your unfortunate experience with The Conduit.
AVOID IT if you think single player campaigns are for lonely douche bags without an internet connection.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Xbox LIVE Arcade
I fucking love games like this. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
takes the core mechanics of a dual-stick shooter and melds them with the sensibilities of a Metroidvania type game. As expected, you start the game on an unknown planet with only basic armor and weaponry for your little flying saucer character. As you explore this intricate and creepy world, youíll come across various pickups ranging from shield and blaster upgrades to new tools that allow access to unexplored parts of the map. One of the earliest tools you acquire is a mechanical claw arm that allows you to do many interesting things. It can clear out debris from a crumbling wall, drag keys to their respective locks or even grab enemies to use as makeshift shields. Another great item is the missile launcher. Once fired, the speedy little warhead is completely under the control of the right analog stick. You can steer it around corners and even take out specific enemy types that are vulnerable from the rear. Like most items in ITSP
, the missile launcher has puzzle and environmental applications as well. That's just a small sampling of the nine total items you'll have by the end of the game.
Those things are all well and good but Iíve yet to touch on my favorite aspect of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
- the art direction. Although the screenshots had me drooling long before this game came out, they failed to capture the sheer amount of attention given to every inch of the environment. The walls literally pulse with ornate components and tiny mechanical objects. The black silhouettes over pastel backgrounds are a theme throughout the game but the six different areas of the game all have a distinct feel. Basically, the game looks exactly
like the gorgeous concept art only it wiggles, pulses and writhes with insane amounts of detail. Although Iíd love for this game to last forever, the reports of it being fairly short are true. In all honesty though, Iíd much rather a game amaze me for a few hours than drag itself out and overstay its welcome.
BUY IT if you're looking for a slower paced game that will massage your eye sockets like no other.
AVOID IT if you like your games like you like your men - long and hard.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
>> Assassinís Creed Brotherhood
is a strange animal. There are aspects of the game that have a ton of polish and rank up there with some of the best games in recent memory. For instance, the environments are second to none. From the historically accurate buildings, bustling city squares and rolling fields of grass, everything in this virtually created Rome feels cohesive and, more importantly, alive. The streets and alleys are filled with tons of citizens all going about their daily business. Like the other Assassinís Creed
games, guards are stationed on nearly every street corner and rooftop ready to gang-bang you with authority the moment you act out. This leads me to my favorite activity - fucking with them. The developers at Ubisoft have given players nearly limitless options for not only stealth and combat, but distraction as well. On top of poison darts, smoke bombs and ranged weapons, you also have your own team of assassinís who lurk in the shadows waiting for your command. Few things feel as powerful as calling in a silent arrow strike on four unsuspecting guards with nothing more than a whistle and a casual hand motion.
Unfortunately, for every wonderful thing there seems to be just as many niggling issues. With such a vibrant world and lovely characters, why are some of the missions in this game so goddamn boring? I can understand a couple ďfollow meĒ segments in the beginning areas of the game to get a new player up to speed on the mechanics, but why am I doing them near the end of the game too? Theyíre slow and ultimately destroy whatever pace the game had going. Another issue I have (and this goes for all AC
games) are the rigid checkpoints. Instead of showing your final destination and letting you find your own way, they insist on holding your hand every step of the way. Itís like, ďHere you go pal, get up to that roof. Okay, now lets hop across to this building. Good job! Now lets climb this tower a bit. You did it!Ē I found it slightly annoying at first but it quickly felt like an insult to my intelligence. And donít even get me started on the parts of the game set in modern time which end up being nothing more than an email reading simulator. Wow, I think Iíll just hop back in the Animus, thanks.
BUY IT if you'd like a demented history lesson told through the eyes of a trained killer.
AVOID IT if the thought of swan diving from a 30 story tower into a pile of hay sounds fucking ridiculous.
Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP
Iíve never really been a fan of point-and-click adventure games. I prefer to have direct control over the protagonist rather than suggesting where they should go and watching them do it. In recent years however, the Professor Layton
series and Trace Memory
on the DS have opened my eyes a little to the strengths of the slower, more story driven gameplay. I can now add Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP
to that list as well. When this game was released on the iPad a while back, I was pretty jealous. Iím a sucker for unique art styles and the clips of music I had heard were absolutely lovely. After a little more research, I found out that an iPhone version of Superbrothers S&S EP
was in the works and was coming out soon. Hey, I have one of those! Needless to say, I happily plopped my $3 down on the day of release without hesitation.
First of all, headphones are a must. The audio in the game should be your main priority and it deserves that level of respect without a doubt. Itís haunting, intense, slow, powerful, foreboding, triumphant, beautiful, and most of all, fucking brilliant. At this very moment Iím listening to a track called ďUnknowable GeometryĒ and the hair is standing up on the back of my neck. Itís that good. Whether youíre walking through the woods or battling an ancient force, the music matches the mood perfectly and is by far the highlight of the whole experience. The story, on the other hand, walks the thin line between cryptic and confusing. Partly to blame for that is the bizarrely poetic (but not necessarily informative) text that is found throughout the game. While at times hilarious, it rarely clarifies anything at all. Unfortunately, some of the puzzles rely on random experimentation to complete. Itís probably more of a personal gripe but I wish there had been more ďAh HA!Ē moments rather than a bunch of ďoh, I guess I poked that thing correctlyĒ moments.
BUY IT if you've got $3, a decent set of headphones and a few hours to spare.
AVOID IT if you're turned off by the fact that this game is 90% walking.
Xbox LIVE Arcade
It wasnít long ago that Double Fine announced they would be getting serious about digital downloads and here I am already talking about the third one! Trenched
is Tim Schaferís take on the ever-popular genre of tower defense. Itís also 4-player co-op. Itís also a third-person shooter with a major focus on mech customization. Yeah, it's awesome. Though it can be played single player, doing so can lead to unnecessary frustration. Trenched
is at its best when you and three buddies are all communicating and shouting orders at each other, desperately fending off the waves of Tubes any way you can. Like any tower defense game, you can set up emplacements like turrets, mines and anti-air guns to help you out. Of course, you can also outfit your trench with weapons of its own too but at the expense of being able to carry more emplacements. Itís a delicate balancing act that must be tailored to each missionís individual needs.
After each mission, you are sent back to the S.S. McKinley in order to fine tune your trench and ready yourself for the next battle. Though not really a complaint, I must say that there are almost too many options. Every successful mission leaves you with a bunch of new items and a lot of tough decisions to make. Do you go with a slow, massive beast stacked to the brim with machine guns and grenade launchers? Maybe a speedy little bugger loaded with tons of offensive and defensive emplacements? Itís almost heart breaking because, if youíre like me, you want to use them all! Having too many options is hardly a problem but I do take issue with the complicated menu system. When shopping for new items, the in-game store doesnít tell you if you already have a specific item or not. It also takes far to many button presses just to get around which is a real shame because itís the only blot on an otherwise glistening experience.
BUY IT if you'd be damned if you're gonna let some dirty Tubes take away your freedom!
AVOID IT if you're a lonely douche bag without an internet connection.
That's it for issue #006! Thanks for taking the time to check it out and if this is your first time, feel free to check out the back issues located on my side bar. For those going to PAX, I'll see you there! For those not going, make sure to pump out an adoption blog! Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys next issue!