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Review Round-Up: The games of May

2:00 PM on 06.03.2010 // Matthew Razak

May kind of snuck up on us, but man was it a kick-ass month for gaming. We reviewed a bunch of great games, and had a few surprises (a few failures too). There were so many great reviews you could have read throughout the month and tons of games to learn about. I bet you spent all month enjoying our reviews on multiple gam... who am I kidding? As the artwork for this month shows, all anyone wanted to read was our Red Dead Redemption review. We did it already, alright!? Find it below.

For serious, though. Plenty of great other games came out this month and some that possibly slipped past your radar. If you're interested in how great Mario Galaxy 2 is or how not so good Lost Planet 2 is or how godawful Alpha Protocol is then dive right into the reviews below.

In case you were wondering where that striking bit of art came from, it's from one of my favorite Dtoid artists, SuitcoatAvenger. Not only did he rock that Red Dead art up there (and below in full) for the header, but he also made the Alan Wake piece you see below. Check out more of his work on his blog.

Alan Wake (Xbox 360)

As far as the gameplay itself goes, things are slightly patchy. There's more hit than miss, to be fair, but a few glaring errors snatch Wake away from perfection ... In short, it's a must-have Xbox 360 title that provides a freshness and dynamism that horror games have been achingly lacking for the past several years.

Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Alpha Protocol (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Alpha Protocol isn't very good ... It's disgusting that a game in this forsaken a state is asking for a single thin dime, let alone sixty bucks. Even if it was free I wouldn't recommend it.

2.0 -- Bad (2s are a disaster. Any good they might have had are quickly swallowed up by glitches, poor design choices or a plethora of other issues. The desperate or the gullible may find a glimmer of fun hidden somewhere in the pit.)

Art Style: light trax (WiiWare)

Light trax lacks any multiplayer to speak of, split-screen or otherwise. Because of that, the game doesn't have much replay value ... light trax effectively turns the racing genre on its head, something I haven't seen done since Road Rash on the Genesis.

Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Bit.Trip RUNNER (WiiWare)

Though the game doesn't have realistic graphics, the thrill you'll feel while playing it is as real as it gets ... The game is so encouraging and visually engaging that you don't need to be a card-carrying "retro fan" to truly understand its appeal.  Bit.Trip virgins and Bit.Trip veterans alike: buy this game.

Score: 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Dead to Rights: Retribution (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Retribution is rarely fancy, but it’s quite competent, and there’s depth to be found in Jack’s arsenal of combos, disarms, and take downs as well as the tactical possibilities presented by Shadow. Dead to Rights: Retribution is Volatile Games’ first current-gen project and while the game is rough around the edges, they’ve laid a solid foundation.

Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Dementium II (DS)

Dementium II is the best FPS game I've played on the DS to date ... Easy to use, fun to play, and sometimes almost scary, Dementium II is worth picking up for horror fans and FPS players alike, or just somebody who feels their DS library could use something a little darker.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Kick-Ass (PlayStation Network)

Games of this style are understandably plagued with button-mashing repetitive gameplay, but Kick-Ass is particularly offensive in that truly nothing different happens from the first mission through the last ... It's unfortunate that the potential of Kick-Ass to be a solid RPG beat 'em up is never fulfilled ... As it stands, you're better off spending your cash on the graphic novel collection or popcorn and the movie.

Score: 3 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)

Lost Planet 2 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC)

The unfortunate reality of Lost Planet 2 is that it's a title so cluttered by poor and dated design choices that even the simple "kill some crap with your buddies" formula can't save it from itself ... all-in-all, Lost Planet 2 seems like a missed opportunity, with the developers ignoring many of the staples of so many great shooters that are already flooding the market.

Score: 4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)

ModNation Racers (PlayStation 3)

Taken as an experience, ModNation Racers is pretty damn decent. The sheer fun of character customization and indulging the online community aspects should never be downplayed ...  Unfortunately, the racing half of ModNation Racers is a bit of a let-down and the frustrating nature of the game's technical faults, most of which have no excuse for existing, really encroaches on the overall fun of the experience.

Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)

Fans of Japanese-style sandbox games need to buy Monster Hunter Tri. The only bad thing about it I can think of is that it really doesn't do anything to try to win over today's lazy, lock-on/healing factor-reliant action gamer.

Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Nier (PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Nier's story is, to put it bluntly, one of the best videogame narratives I've had the pleasure to experience ...  Every time I started falling in love with Nier, it swiftly and violently battered that love out of me, seeming to do its utmost to be as unlikable and exhausting as possible. Nier is not a love/hate thing. It's a forgive/hate thing, and it does too much that is simply unforgivable.

Score: 5.5 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.)

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Windows PC)

In many ways The Forgotten Sands feels like an apology for 2008's Prince of a Persia, a "back to the roots" title that borrows heavily from the original The Sands of Time in a number of ways that will most certainly please fans ... The Forgotten Sands is a solid action-platforming title that comes rather close to re-capturing the feel of 2003’s The Sands of Time.

Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Red Dead Redemption (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

All told, Red Dead Redemption is a stellar title. While I have some issues with the story and characters, the simple joy of interacting with this world more than makes up for those complaints. Add in a compelling multiplayer component and you have one hell of a game.

Score: 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

 Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse episode 2: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak (PC [reviewed], Mac, PSN, iPad )

...one of the more entertaining chapters in the Sam & Max series. Everything is pretty clearly laid out for you and none of the puzzles are excessively challenging or logically obtuse, leaving you free to enjoy the humor and absurdity. Were it not for the astral projection ... The Tomb of Sammun-Mak would be a grand slam.

Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Skate 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)

...custom content is really where Skate 3 shines ... But for all of Skate 3’s tweaks and additions, it doesn’t feel like EA nailed the game’s career mode ... The create and share features offer up so much potential that EA may have presented a problem for itself. There’s really no need for a new Skate game next year... you’re going to be playing this one for a long, long time.

Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Split/Second (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Windows PC)

There's nothing more rewarding than witnessing your opponents fall victim to a well timed power-play that cues a spiraling bulldozer or freighter into the racetrack -- fans of anarchy will be most satisfied ... Disney Interactive Studios has published what is undoubtedly just the beginning of what is sure to be an outgoing series.

Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Best Mario Game Ever.

 

Score: 10 -- Flawless Victory (10s are as close to perfect as you will get in a genre or on a platform. Pure, untarnished videogame ecstasy.)

The Whispered World (PC)

The Whispered World is a good game. While it has its problems here and there, many of which stem from the fact that it's produced by a small publisher, it is in fact a good point-and-click adventure at a very solid price ... This isn't game of the year material here, but it is an enjoyable and solid little game.

Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

PERIPHERALS

VD-W3 Upscaler for Wii

This double-edged sword can help make some titles more palatable, but you will notice a detrimental effect on others, which makes it really hard to recommend from that standpoint. If you need a way to connect your Wii to an HDMI or DV-I display, this is an affordable and capable solution.

MOVIES

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Forced characters and crappy plot aside, the action has to please, right? Not if you've played the game, watched parkour on YouTube or seen any decent kung-fu movies ever. Every action sequence just feels sub-par to something you've seen before, and director Mike Newell simply seems overwhelmed by whatever is going on on screen.

3 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the movie has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)

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Matthew Razak, Contributor
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Monday reviews aren't on Monday. It's old school, trust me. OK, so I've been and editor for a while now. I probably should fill this part in a bit more fully. I've been here a while. In most a... more   |   staff directory



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