Hello gamers! Welcome to the 7th installment of the Buy it/Avoid it Report!
I'm sorry guys, I would have gotten this issue out a lot sooner but I've been forfeiting precious video game time to watch this amazing show called Breaking Bad
. Yeah, I know it's been on TV for like 4 years but I'm just now getting into it and OH MY GOD IT'S SO GOOD! The first 3 seasons are on Netflix instant streaming now so if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend you do so. In fact, I'm willing to give it the highest recommendation I can muster - the Punch-Me-in-the-Stomach-Guarantee. If you happen to watch the show and don't like it, you can find me and punch me in the stomach. Just realize that I'm going to kick you in the shins. It's in the contract.
Please, sign here ______________.
In what little free time I do have, I've been playing some pretty fantastic games. Would you like to read some of my thoughts? Hey, where are you going?! Oh well, forget him.
Let's do this!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Set in the year 2027, Deus Ex Human Revolution
tells the tale of a future that feels entirely plausable. Cybernetic body modifications have gone commercial, allowing any regular person off the street to get themselves a shiny new set of robotic limbs assuming they have the cash to pay for it. These augmentations can drastically improve physical performance and even enhance basic senses. Naturally, a group of purists think this is a terrible idea and have taken it upon themselves to jab a stick into the proverbial spokes of this growing enterprise. And thus, the story is set for one of this yearís best games and hands down the best cyberpunk game Iíve ever played.
Itís hard to say what makes Deus Ex Human Revolution
so awesome because it does so many things incredibly well. Though itís primarily an FPS, it switches to a third-person perspective when you take cover. I thought this transition would be jarring at first but really, itís quite smooth. Thatís a good thing because youíll be hopping in and out of cover constantly as you sneak around futuristic buildings and rooftops as you attempt to complete the various quests thrown your way. Also, this is not a linear affair. While the main story clearly follows a designated path, how you travel down that path is entirely up to you. This goes for traversal as well as character customization.
Itís all the little things that make Deus Ex Human Revolution
so special to me. The cities that serve as Adam Jensenís playground are more than just streets and buildings. They are plastered with huge neon advertisements and littered with the everyday trash. They feel gritty and lived in. Iím a huge fan of the Resident Evil 4
inspired inventory system as well as the focus on stealthy gameplay. Few things are more satisfying to me than sneaking up behind a patrolling guard, silently knocking him out and then dragging his lifeless body into a ventilation shaft or bathroom stall. The mini-game used for hacking the various security systems in the world of Deus Ex HR
is intense as hell but elegant at the same time.
BUY IT if you wish you had retractable sunglasses implanted in your face like Adam Jensen.
AVOID IT if the future scares you.
Barry Steakfries, the protagonist in Jetpack Joyride
, needs to get the fuck out of the laboratory. Is he a prisoner? Is he being experimented on? Who knows, but more importantly, who cares? All I know is that Barry begins each stage by busting through a brick wall and grabbing the first thing he sees: a jetpack. From that point on, itís all about survival and seeing how far he can make it before getting killed by one of the many hazards. Touching the screen anywhere activates the jetpack and causes our poorly named hero to fly up towards the ceiling. Likewise, releasing your finger from the touchscreen turns the jetpack off causing Mr. Steakfries to fall to the ground. It is this simple mechanic that defines Jetpack Joyride
and to be honest, Iím surprised Iím still playing it.
For a $1 game there's actually a lot of replayability here. Besides a kick-ass theme song and lovely sprites, Jetpack Joyride
sports a ton of unlockables. During each run there are coins placed throughout the levels and those collected are thrown into your ďstashĒ. Once you have a decent pile of money saved up, you can purchase new outfits, heads and jetpacks for Barry, all of which are purely cosmetic. You can also use your money to upgrade some of the vehicles that are randomly placed throughout the lab. These include a reverse gravity suit, a motorcycle, a teleporter and, yes, a DRAGON.
When you inevitably die, youíre taken to a slot machine for one last chance at some extra distance and prizes. Jackpots range from extra cash to an explosion that will hurl your lifeless body just a little bit further, increasing your high score that much more. Jetpack Joyride
is from the guys at Halfbrick Studios who brought us the ever-popular Fruit Ninja
. As far as Iím concerned, these fellows have the $1 iPhone game down to a science and I canít wait to see what they come up with next.
BUY IT if youíve ever caught yourself daydreaming about strapping a machine gun to your back and just flying away from it all.
AVOID IT if these tough economic times have left you with less than 100 extra pennies in your modest gaming budget.
Gears of War 3
I know the world canít always see things the same way as I do. Our infinitely complex and varied perceptions and values are what makes us all individuals. Things that make my heart sing with ectasy could make the next guy cringe with disgust. Basically what Iím trying to say is that Gears of War 3
is the perfect video game.
The biggest change to the campaign is that itís now 4-player co-op instead of just 2, which gives Gears of War 3
a very different feel from the previous two games. The environments are bigger, enemies attack in greater numbers and taking them down requires more cooperation and coordination than ever before. The cast of playable characters is easily doubled too, with newcomers and old coming together to put a stop of the Locust/Lambent menace once and for all. New weapons and enemy types help keep things feeling fresh but those whoíve played the previous entries in the series should know what to expect - cover based combat and truckloads of yummy gore. A stark contrast to the violent gameplay is a surprisingly touching story penned by Gears of War novelist Karen Traviss. You can see her influence in the main story but also in newspaper clippings and notes you find along the way. She did a fantastic job bringing the story to a close and fleshing out some of the one-dimensional characters (ex: Cole Train) without stripping them of their charm.
My favorite aspect of Gears
has always been the competitive multiplayer. Let me tell you, the last three years have been rough. Though Gears 2
finally works pretty well, it was not
a smooth road getting there. Gears of War 3
, Iím happy to say, makes up for all the previous faults and then some. Silky smooth online play and a serious lack of host advantage (thanks to dedicated servers) make this the best game in the series without question. Without gushing too much, Iím ecstatic. The game looks fantastic, plays great and features enough modes to ensure that I wonít grow tired of it for years to come.
BUY IT buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it.
AVOID IT if you think this series is about a muscular gay couple and their mutual chainsaw obsession.
The Binding of Isaac
I have willingly injected a virus into my bloodstream which has caused my skin to become lumpy with poisonous sores. Iíve developed a third eye that cries blood. The friendly ghost of a miscarried pregnancy mimics my movements and attacks. By sacrificing part of life to a demon, Iíve grown stronger and am sporting a set of black horns. I carry with me a unicorn horn that grants temporary invincibility. Iím also wearing my momís high heels, underwear and lipstick.
The Binding of Isaac
is a roguelike inspired by the original Legend of Zelda
, mixed with a fair amount of religious themes and a dabble of child abuse on top for good measure. It actually sounds kind of awful when described that way but I assure you the game is great fun...most of the time. Since the game is completely random, there's always the danger of getting screwed over. Youíll come across a door but have no keys in your inventory. You see money behind some boulders but have no bombs. Failure is rarely a good thing but itís especially heartbreaking when you can firmly place the blame on random chance.
Thatís only one side of the coin, however. The other half of the time you are an overpowered beast of a child, as described in the first paragraph. Most of the items and abilities in Isaac
can stack on top of each other, creating some of the most ridiculous things Iíve seen in a game to date. With the threat of permadeath constantly looming overhead as you battle your way through room after room of bloodthirsty creatures and traps, youíll need all the upgrades you can pack onto your small, naked body.
BUY IT if you ever fantasized about killing your psycho-religious mother but were too worried about what grandma might think to go through with it.
AVOID IT if you have a problem with rooms splattered with tears, blood and fecal matter.
Xbox LIVE Arcade
>> Just Cause 2
was one of my favorite games of last year. I loved the huge, detailed world and itís unapologetic focus on crazy action and fun. When I loaded up the Renegade Ops
demo, I immediately noticed a similarity. After a little research, I came to find that these two games are actually made by the same studio and share the same engine. That bit of knowledge and the strength of the demo were enough to solidify my purchase. No regrets here.
In terms of gameplay and controls, Renegade Ops
keeps it simple. The left stick controls smushing enemy soldiers, doing donuts and ramping off cliffs. The right stick controls flesh perforation, shrapnel distribution and general destruction. Thatís basically all you need to know. Each of the 4 playable characters has a unique vehicle with itís own special weapon and upgrade tree but overall theyíre pretty similar. Oh, and the A button is turbo. Thatís important because you canít have an awesome vehicle based shooter without the option to shoot flames out of your ass and go faster.
At itís core, Renegade Ops
is a top down dual-stick shooter sporting some surprisingly gorgeous tropical and desert locales. Iím not going to mince words here: the game is pretty fucking badass. It features everything you love from those terrible 80ís action movies - tons of explosions, cheesy one-liners, enough bullets to choke a volcano and somehow even more explosions. The story plays out as comic strip panels but Iíll admit that Iím not paying a lot of attention. I think I rescued the President of Africa at one point and Iím pretty sure the villainís name is ďInfernoĒ. Riveting stuff, I know. On a side note, I want to apologize in advance to any innocent civilians walking down the road or in any of the buildings I come across because I blow EVERYTHING up without remorse.
BUY IT if you're the type of renegade that hijacks nukes and asks questions later.
AVOID IT if youíve been searching for a game that questions the morality of war by highlighting the horrific consequences of collateral damage.
That's it for issue #007! If you missed any of the previous issues you can find links to them in my sidebar, underneath the pangolin. As always, comments and suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys next issue!