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Review Round-Up: The games of September

7:00 AM on 10.04.2010 // Matthew Razak

Did September fly by for anyone else? It was here and then it was frickin' gone.

Despite the fact that the month flew by a plethora of games came out in almost every category imaginable. I think we're warming up for that holiday season rolling in. It's quite possible the biggest game of the year landed this month in Halo: Reach and meanwhile Enslaved: Odyssey to the West shined for those avoiding the franchise. In fact I'd wager that September has some of the highest scores in the most varied amount of genres as any month.

Not to say that everything was great. There are definitely some duds down there, but no matter what genre you love it looks like September had a game for you.

Thanks this month to the great Skribble, whose name doesn't quite live up to the awesome artwork he did for the header image. Best Spartan ever? Yes.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC, Mac, Linux)


Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developed on a shoestring budget by five Swedes, is a rare game that outshines (or rather, out-scares) the high-end, high-budget, triple-A titles that so often lay claim to the horror game mantle.

Pick it up, but you should know that you might be so scared that you'll have to put it down.

And Yet It Moves (WiiWare)

"(The game's) mechanic makes for some of the most creative and innovative level designs around and even more impressively never gets old as the game never tires out a puzzle style or creative mechanic ... The game is flat out breathtaking visually."

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.)

Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Wii)

Batman: The Brave and the Bold doesn’t do anything "bold" in terms of game design, but it doesn’t try to; instead, it delivers a solid and enjoyable experience from beginning to end ... super sharp visuals and clever writing make this a collection of Batman adventures you won’t want to miss.

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.)

Civilization V (PC)

Civilization V makes huge advances to the series that do nothing but enhance the essential experience ... It trims all the fat, leaving only decision-making, strategic planning, and the sheer joy of crushing your enemies. Civ V is the pinnacle of the franchise to date.

Score: 9.5 -- 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.)

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has its flaws, and those flaws are worn on the sleeve at all times. However, none of them tarnish what is, overall, one of the very best experiences released on a console in a long, long time.

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.)

F1 2010 (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)


Codemasters had a significant task in front of them. They wanted to re-create the F1 experience in a way that almost no F1 game had done so before. In the end, they got it pretty close to it on their first try in some areas but fell flat on their faces in others.

Score: 7.0 -- 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.)

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)

Warriors of Rock is a solid Guitar Hero offering for sure, and perhaps one of Neversoft’s best, despite the weird creative decision to include monsters in its primary experience ... Outside of the rockers turning into demons in the game’s oddball “Quest” mode, this is largely the same experience as Guitar Hero 5.

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.)

Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)

Halo: Reach is everything a Halo fan has ever dreamed for. All that was lacking from previous Halo games is here and then some. This is Bungie's love letter to their fans and they've definitely gone out with a bang.

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.)

Hydrophobia (XBLA)

Hydrophobia isn't straight-up, unforgivably dreadful. It's mostly just boring, uninspired, and vapid.

Note: Our reviewer may have been playing this game wrong.

Score: 3.5 -- 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.)

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess (PSP Minis/Xbox Live Indie Games [reviewed])

If you enjoy a good platform game with a considerable but worthy challenge and a lot of charm, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess will certainly deliver that for you. It is addictive, occasionally frustrating and constantly fun. Your money would be wisely invested in this one.

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.)

NHL 11 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

NHL 11 doesn’t have any competition to blow out of the (frozen) water this year, but that didn’t stop the hockey nuts at EA Canada from being as bold as ever with the improvements and additions they brought to the franchise’s twentieth iteration.

Score: 9.5 -- 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.)

Plants vs. Zombies (XBLA)

For all its humor, endless replay value and subtle, accessible strategy, it's no wonder that Plants vs. Zombies remains one of the best games to come out of the casual gaming market. The Xbox Live Arcade version is a capable port which carries across the fun of the title brilliantly.

Score: 9.5 -- 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.)

Sonic Adventure (Xbox Live Arcade (Reviewed), PlayStation Network)

This is a great game for the fanatics who like having all their Sonic games on a next generation console. However, if you're a casual fan looking for a masterpiece, all you'll find is a relic that was once considered greatness.

Score: 6.0 -- 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.)

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

There’s so much amazing fan service here, that enthusiasts simply shouldn’t miss it. Despite its extremely obvious and repetitive nature, it’s also a decent amount of fun, provided you play it in small doses.

Score: 6 -- 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.)

Tales of Elastic Boy - Mission 1 (WiiWare)

Tales of Elastic Boy - Mission 1 requires that you contort your wrist in ways it wasn't meant to bend. Maybe the blistering tendinosis you'd likely develop is a sign that this game isn't meant to be played...

Score: 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.)

PORTABLE

Etrian Odyssey III (DS)

I'd call it a thinker's dungeon crawler. If you're up to the challenge, there's a lot of fun to be had with Etrian Odyssey III.

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.)

Gladiator Begins (PSP)

This isn't a game that will be talked about for ages. It's a game that will drift from our memories and work its way into bargain bins worldwide.

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.)

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)


Even with its flaws, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep finally manages to deliver the highly polished sequel that fans deserve ...  For anyone who enjoys fun action games, it will stay in your UMD drive for weeks to come. Savor it - because you won't get anything like it for a while.

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.)

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (DS)

 

Overall, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a wonderful title, and my personal favorite of the series ... Unwound Future isn't innovative or groundbreaking, and what few changes exist are mostly just new puzzle types, but the game and overall story are polished, interesting, and just simply fun.

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.)

Shoot to Kill (iPhone)

Shoot to Kill is a fun and simple game that’s a steal of a deal at free and certainly worth picking up, if only to take it out for a spin.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, it is worth your time and cash.

DLC

Borderlands: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution (PC/PS3/Xbox 360 [reviewed])

This is a disgrace and fans should let Gearbox know that it's very easy to perceive this as a lazy cash-grab. Small comfort comes from the knowledge that they outsourced its development to a company I can't remember the name of and won't check because it would require me to play through that fucking thing again.

Score: 3.0 -- 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.)

Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker (PC, Xbox 360)

Your lips are improved
And you are kind of a bitch
Still you don't suck bad

Score: 9.5 -- 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.)

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Matthew Razak, Contributor
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