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Reviews Round-up

The best and worst games of 2013: May Returns

Jun 03 // Jordan Devore
[embed]255225:48921:0[/embed] Zeno Clash II (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) The world of the original Zeno Clash was genuinely interesting, and certainly an example of less is more, but this time around it merely seems interesting, before revealing itself to be a bit shallow under the veneer of zaniness, though the veneer is certainly impressive and did succeed in keeping me eager for more. Zeno Clash II might be bigger than its predecessor, but it fails to be truly better. It's worth experiencing for those who loved the original, because it still contains a lot of what made that title unique, and the combat -- when not descending into huge brawls -- is wonderful. But in an attempt to spin a meaty, almost Argonautica-style epic, ACE Team might have gotten a wee bit lost, just as I did when I tried to use that good-for-nothing, half-arsed map. Read the full Zeno Clash II review Haunted Hollow (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Haunted Hollow is a surprising little game. It manages to rise above the status of a throwaway mictoransaction-begging App by providing a deep and compelling system at the core of the experience. With a few more tweaks, it would be worth spending more time with, but as it stands, depending on your ability to play with others it may be a more fleeting experience. Read the full Haunted Hollow review Anodyne (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Anodyne’s weaknesses would’ve been greatly justified by a solid narrative. Instead, we’re left with a semi-decent dungeon crawler featuring some rather attractive sprite art and great soundtrack. So while Anodyne’s minimalistic riff on Zelda is definitely unique enough to warrant a purchase, it unfortunately never comes close to inheriting the legacy of its father, too lost in its odd pretentiousness to ever arrive at the point. Read the full Anodyne review Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PS3) The foundation of Deadly Premonition, the stuff that matters, is still absolutely perfect as far as I am concerned. It is true, of course, that this perfection has been scarred somewhat by the faults found in The Director's Cut, and there's no denying that longtime fans may not be getting what they hoped for in this package. To newcomers or the severely dedicated, however, this is still a bloody great time, and remains one of those games that truly, desperately, must be experienced to be believed. Read the full Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut review Way of the Dogg (Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Way of the Dogg is a wasted opportunity. As someone who consumes pretty much all the media on offer in this game it doesn't even appeal to me, which should tell you that something's wrong. It's a shame, because with an "M" rating and a little more plot tweaking, this could have been something special. Someone call the popo -- this game just did a 187 on your wallet, foo. Read the full Way of the Dogg review Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo (3DS eShop) Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is just what it advertises itself to be: a fun little portable game experience built for quick play sessions. It's not overly difficult, but does add challenging goals for those who wish to have them. There's a decent amount of content for such a little game, and I defy you to not have fun with it. Simple, addictive, and easy-to-control gameplay, coupled with the goofy looking cartoon-y characters make for great bite-sized fun. Read the full Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo review Jack Lumber (iPad, iPhone, PC [reviewed]) All in all, Jack Lumber is pretty straight-forward with what it's offering you. While it could have stood to include a bit more content with the PC re-release and a few enhanced tweaks, it's still an incredibly fun time-waster that happens to challenge you from time to time. You'll cut wood, you'll freeze time, repeat, and somehow it remains compelling. Read the full Jack Lumber review Poker Night at the Inventory 2 (Mac, PC (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) If you are looking for a good poker game, then this is a no-brainer, but even if you aren't a huge poker player don't overlook this. The witty conversations and fleshed-out characters make this a fantastic little game, with very little holding it back. While it would be nice to not hear repetitive dialog, minor faults don't ruin Poker Night 2 as a whole. For five bucks (on PC) I highly recommend this gathering of fictional celebrities -- and I'm not bluffing. Read the full Poker Night at the Inventory 2 review Mars: War Logs (PC) Mars: War Logs is the kind of experience one can only call serviceable. It exists, it does what it does, and it performs its job suitably. It doesn't do anything terrible, but it never once goes above a basic standard of acceptability. It's very clear that it wants to ape the best action-RPGs of the genre, but its too basal and hurried to pull off a single remarkable thing. It's a shame because Spiders' last attempt -- Of Orcs and Men -- was genuinely great, a game that similarly failed to be all it wanted to be, but at least had an interesting story and some wonderful presentation.  War Logs, by contrast, simply exists. Read the full Mars: War Logs review Star Command (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Star Command is an addictive sci-fi simulation experience, provided you're willing to stick it out until the second playthrough to get to the real meat of the game. There just isn't enough there the first time around to captivate the majority of potential buyers, as most of the initial gameplay boils down to a few repetitive, shallow actions. Still, good things come to those who wait, and if you're looking for a fun, cheap sci-fi game on the go, this is it. If you go in expecting a more zen garden-like experience than a real space sim, you shouldn't come out disappointed. Read the full Star Command review Gears of War: Judgment Call to Arms DLC (Xbox 360) Even with the VIP Pass, what you get is only total of six maps and two game modes, and the ability to play for double XP. For a game that is already light on multiplayer content, this really feels like a lazy, half-hearted effort to generate a quick buck from the fans of a dedicated franchise. While the Master at Arms game mode is fun and injects a certain level of enjoyable chaos to your standard free-for-all game type, and Blood Drive is a nice throwback to Gears of War 2, three maps and one new game type simply isn't enough for the price. Read the full Call to Arms review Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS eShop) A part of me misses the classic arcade action that seemed poised to make a comeback at the start of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, but I'm still glad Nintendo decided to explore new avenues for the Minis. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move retains some of the Lemming-like quality of the more recent MvsDK titles, but the drastic changes to the gameplay have resulted in a faster, more free-form experience. It can be as simple or as mind-bending as you want it to be; either way, you'll be satisfied for many hours on end. Read the full Minis on the Move review [embed]255225:48924:0[/embed] Game Dev Tycoon (PC, Mac) When Game Dev Story introduced the idea of a game development sim to Japan in '97 and then the West in 2010, it was a novel concept that made overlooking its flaws easier. While Game Dev Tycoon is a superior experience with a better interface for its platform, it still suffers from the same pitfalls of monotony and lack of player feedback that Game Dev Story suffered from. While I appreciate the perspective Game Dev Tycoon has given me on game development, from indie studios in debt to huge studios juggling multiple projects, it was never the game's sim elements that had me returning. It offers a pleasant walk down memory lane of past consoles and technology, but that's about it. Read the full Game Dev Tycoon review Victoria II: Heart of Darkness (PC) Heart of Darkness still contains many of the issues that hampered the core game, with the frequency of rebellions making the late game frustrating, as populations become extremely liberal and demanding, and the tutorials are still insufficient when it comes to explaining the game beyond the most basic principles. Put in the work, however, and Heart of Darkness will reward you for the effort. It's still huge and uncompromising, but there's no better way to experience Victoria II. The improved combat and naval mechanics were oft-requested, and Paradox followed through, while the new features make the studio's vision of Victorian war, politics, and economics all the more believable and grand. Read the full Heart of Darkness review Color Commando (DSiWare) Color Commando has initial shades of fun, but it's basically over before it starts. Despite the cheap-looking enemy designs, there is a decent amount of charm here -- the game just doesn't get an opportunity to develop it. If you're itching for a platform puzzle title and have exhausted all of your choices on both the DS and 3DS, Color Commando is a decent way to spend a couple of bucks, but otherwise, it's skippable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Read the full Color Commando review [embed]255225:48925:0[/embed] Metro: Last Light (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Metro: Last Light is a disappointment in several respects. That simply has to be said. Its design painstakingly addresses criticisms of Metro 2033 to such an overzealous degree that it actually undoes many of the things 2033 was praised for. The fact you have to pre-order or pay to access a game closer to the original's heart is also damn near inexcusable, and again I emphasize that I will not review a mode that has been tacked on in such a fashion. However -- and it's a big however -- Last Light is also a fine game on its own, and if we're to judge it without the shadow of 2033 looming overhead, we can say it's a game packed with structurally sound combat, a rewardingly fluid narrative, and an atmosphere that runs the gamut from intriguing to chilling. Read the full Metro: Last Light review Reef Shot (PC) Reef Shot could have been much, much more than what is offered. As a first-person adventure game, it does little to stimulate the player to keep pressing on, except perhaps to hopefully see more fish variety. If you're like me and want to just meander about the ocean floor and take some photographs of virtual fish to relax and enjoy yourself, Reef Shot offers very little. Read the full Reef Shot review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Blade Wolf (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Blade Wolf rides on the coattails of an interesting character, but suffers from some of the same issues as the Jetstream DLC in that it doesn't do enough. With all new environments and maybe some more of the aforementioned old-school VR mission action, this would be a must-buy. As it stands, only the most hardcore should apply here, but at least it offers up some good old-fashioned robotic chainsaw-hacking fun. Read the full Blade Wolf review [embed]255225:48926:0[/embed] Anomaly 2 builds upon the original in every way, leaving me to wonder if this is as good as the concept of a deconstructed tower defense game can get. Anomaly 2 is an immediate and exciting strategy game unlike any other, but over time the repetition and lack of depth leaves something to be desired. It’s a welcome distraction on a phone or tablet, but the limits of the game are quickly noticed when played in long bursts on PC. For fans of the first that looked past these shortcomings, Anomaly 2 is a bigger, smarter, and better looking game. Read the full Anomaly 2 review Eador: Masters of the Broken World (PC) Eador: Masters of the Broken World is laden with good ideas and myriad reasons for strategy nuts to go... well, nuts, but for every compliment I could pay it, there's a caveat. Strange design choices and a serious lack of polish mars the things it does so very well. For a while, I couldn't even play the damn thing it was so unstable. Crashes every few minutes, and a bug around every corner made it not worth my time. After a few patches, I finally managed to play it without fearing that I'd be dealing with a freeze or a crash every time I moved my hero, and I'm glad I stuck it out. It manages to capture what makes titles like HoMM or Kings Bounty so gripping without simply treading the same old ground. Yet it's still really quite flawed. Read the full Eador: Masters of the Broken World review Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS) Truthfully, as a retro gamer, while I never found the core game to be that challenging, attempting to get everything (including the extra mirror mode that restricts you to one heart and no power-ups) is one of the hardest quests you can ever embark upon in gaming. While I gave up in the original due to some motion frustration, I'm well on my way to utterly completing the 3DS version (I only have mirror mode left), and I'm loving every minute. If you missed out on Donkey Kong Country Returns the first time around, or you disliked the motion-heavy controls of the original, pick up this version. With solid tactile feedback, the 3DS edition of the game has cemented itself as one of my favorite platformers of all time without question. Read the full Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D review Dust 514 (PlayStation 3) Dust 514 has promises of greatness. It reaches high and attempts to accomplish something not many games have even tried to this day, which should be commended. But right now, it needs a few more major updates before it gets there. With a hefty amount of microtransactions that border on offensive, there is a very ambitious, competitive game underneath the sloppy veneer. Read the full Dust 514 review The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop) Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations. Read the full Starship Damrey review Resident Evil Revelations (PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U [reviewed], Xbox 360) Resident Evil Revelations isn't as good on consoles as it is on the 3DS. It clearly wasn't designed for larger machines, and the somewhat clunky, rudimentary controls indicate that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up to prove a superior alternative. However, it's still a fine game and still the best Resident Evil game available right now, and if you've not played it already, you truly ought to. If you've already tried it on 3DS, there's not a lot to bring you back, but any other Resident Evil fan would be best served giving it a go. Read the full Resident Evil Revelations review Plants vs. Zombies Adventures (Facebook) Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is fairly inoffensive fun, and serves as the appetizer to PvZ 2's main course. The implementation of sprays makes combat a bit more interactive, and there's a decent variety of plants to keep your strategy liquid. It could stand to implement a more forgiving energy mechanic, but unlike many other social games, it at least gives you something to do while you wait. Read the full Plants vs. Zombies Adventures review Reus (PC) The pace of Reus, starting players off with tutorials and then short games, ultimately growing into two hour sessions where all of human history plays out, off-sets the game's complexity. Its simple controls and clean interface also makes something that could have been an obstinate chore pleasant to get to grips with. At first I bemoaned the lack of more detailed menus and alternative control options, but I miss them not at all now. Reus is a game of logical, organic systems presented as simply as possible. It's a delight to play at every turn, and it strikes the perfect balance between providing new content and not overloading players. Beneath its unassuming appearance exists a challenging experience that will last a good long time. Maybe not as long as it took for humanity to grow from nomadic tribes to city-dwelling go-getters, but who the hell has time for that?   Read the full Reus review Sanctum 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) As a whole, Sanctum 2 feels confused. It isn't quite as much tower defense as fans of the first game would probably hope for, since more of the emphasis this time around is placed on the first-person shooting element. It also hides way too much information from the player, leading to a lot of guess-and-check strategies. The game remains a refreshing hybrid of genres, however, and many of the frustrations temporarily wash away as you lay witness to the last enemy in the last wave die, proving that your strategic planning and accurate shooting have paid off. Read the full Sanctum 2 review Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC [reviewed], PSN, XBLA) Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a funny game and a satisfying romp, with clearly influenced ideas that all have their own unique little spins. I'll fully admit that I went into it expecting another damp squib, but came away thoroughly impressed. While it sadly won't get much attention, given the fact it launched quieter than a church mouse with its mouth stapled shut, I wholly recommend it to fans, newcomers, and those who felt burned by the last awful game in the series. Not only is Gunslinger the best Call of Juarez game, it's a damn fine and worthy shooter in its own right. Read the full Gunslinger review Might & Magic Heroes VI: Shades of Darkness (PC) There are many games that will only appeal to "fans of the genre," but this goes farther than that and becomes a game that appeals to "fans of the series." It's not really a terrible thing, but it's not a great thing, either. If you like Might & Magic, you should definitely play Shades of Darkness. It's a solid expansion with an insane amount of new content; you'll be giddy for dozens of hours. If you don't play the series, however, this doesn't provide a great reason to check it out. There need to be more tool-tips with information and an introduction to the factions, lore, units, and abilities -- none of that happens here. Read the full Shades of Darkness review Leviathan: Warships (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed]) Leviathan is best enjoyed if you already have friends playing. It's a game that offers little to the solo player, despite the single-player campaign. With pals, it's an entirely different, much more entertaining experience. If you do have a tablet, then I recommend picking it up for that rather than PC, purely because of the much lower price. All versions are completely identical, so you won't be missing out unless you desperately want to play it on a larger screen.  Read the full Leviathan review Best Park In the Universe - Regular Show (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Best Park is spread over 15 levels, all of which feel roughly the same. Once again, the repetition begins to set in mostly as you face similar foes across levels that actually are quite different looking. More updates are planned for the game which will add extra levels, but for now, you'll have to deal with the ones you've got. It's a better attempt than prior efforts but Best Park in the Universe doesn't really aim all that high. As long as you're not expecting much, it's a decent beat-'em-up that somehow manages to produce a solid control scheme. If you're a diehard Regular Show fan, you may enjoy it. Read the full Best Park in the Universe review StarDrive (PC) For a one-man effort, StarDrive is impressive. It's huge, looks great, and it has a nice balance between automation and micromanagement. Lamentably it's also buggy, with crashes and glitches raising their head frequently -- though admittedly less now, since it's been out for almost a month -- explains its systems poorly, and it becomes extremely boring only a couple of hours into a game.  It doesn't add anything drastically new to the genre, and thus there isn't much reason why you should get it when titles like Galactic Civilization II are better and cheaper, or the contemporary Endless Space -- for all its flaws -- offers a more unique take on the 4X experience. Read the full StarDrive review Fuse (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The most troubling thing about this review is that I am possessed of self awareness enough to know it's going to look like a punishment. It's going to look like I'm one of the many disappointed gamers who saw the changes from Overstrike to Fuse and was prepared, from the outset, to hate it. I cannot disprove such a perception, if that is the perception you wish to have. All I can say is that I, a fan of Insomniac, had faith when I was assured Fuse would be just as good as Overstrike promised to be, and I was looking forward to playing it. To have my residual doubts about the game brought miserably to light was not pleasant, and certainly not desired.  Whether it's true or not, Fuse does feel every bit like another victim of the heavily focus-tested, leader following, perpetually terrified mainstream game industry. It's every cloying and desperate element of the retail console market, brought together -- fused, if you will -- to create a factory standard example of a game that tries to be everything the hypothetical mainstream consumer drools over, and ends up as nothing remarkable. Read the full Fuse review Dragon Fantasy Book 1 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [reviewed]) In staying true to its roots, Dragon Fantasy Book 1 is a bit of a drag. I like the main characters well enough, but I'm not particularly interested in the glibly presented story or world, and some of the retro JRPG systems are super aggravating or simply mind-numbing. That being said, the game did grow on me in the last three sections, and I think the bridging of storylines -- and mechanics -- in Book 2 could prove a bit more fruitful. Read the full Dragon Fantasy review The Night of the Rabbit (Mac, PC [reviewed]) What got me through those instances was the menagerie of woodland critters (and an Alan Moore-inspired forest guardian), the sumptuous art, and the mystery that is slowly teased, but ultimately unravels in a quickly wrapped-up, anti-climactic ending that I could definitely have done without. Yet for all its flaws, The Night of the Rabbit may still be Daedalic's best adventure game. The issues are numerous, but the significant size of the game also offers up a lot of opportunities for it to redeem itself, which it does manage. The Night of the Rabbit still contains all of those classic "ah ha!" moments when you, at long last, cease to be dumbfounded, and the novelty of the magic spells surprisingly doesn't wear off, continuing to be implemented cleverly throughout the long experience. With a lot of patience, you could find yourself having a bloody good time. Read the full Night of the Rabbit review The Swapper (PC) I came away from The Swapper with nothing but amazement. From the first time you see the literally hand-crafted visuals until the final moment in the game, which is sure to give you pause for thought, you will be in complete awe. Brilliant puzzles with even more brilliant solutions compliment the philosophical plotline, leaving an unforgettable experience unlike any other. Read the full The Swapper review
May 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of May 2013
May was largely a quiet month for new game releases. Despite what felt like a slower schedule, especially coming off of a rather absurd April, here on Destructoid we did have a pair of 10s with the portable Donkey Kong Countr...

The best and worst games of 2013: Hyperdimension April

May 02 // Jordan Devore
The Organ Trail: Director's Cut (PC) Organ Trail: Director's Cut has a few things going against it. It's a parody game, which is always a risk, and it involves zombies; an increasingly tiresome creative crutch. But through wit, ingenuity, and good old fashioned sadism, it manages to succeed against the odds and provide a truly rewarding spin on a number of classic ideas. For the price, you really couldn't ask for more. Read the full Organ Trail: Director's Cut review Ms. Splosion Man (iPhone [reviewed with iPhone 5], iPad) When you add it all up, buying all three worlds solely through in-app-purchasing amounts to less than the asking price of the original XBLA game (less than $10). But there's something really wrong with the way the system is presented here. Simply put, if it's a paid app, the game should be fully unlocked -- especially if there are microtransactions already in place -- and especially since there is no warning of this withholding of content before you purchase the game. It's a shame that there's such a weird barrier between the player and actually playing the levels they want. With a bit more tweaking of how many coins it takes to unlock each stage, or the elimination of the system entirely, Ms. Splosion Man would be one of the finest games on the entire App Store. Read the full Ms. Splosion Man review BattleBlock Theater (Xbox Live Arcade) If you absolutely positively hate platformers, I'm not so sure you'll enjoy BattleBlock Theater. UnlikeCastle Crashers which had the benefit of the simplistic, pick up and play beat 'em up genre, you get more out of BattleBlock the more you're willing to put into it. Positive reinforcement is gained through skill and triumph rather than simply bashing things in mindlessly, so in that regard, the universal appeal is a bit lower than most of Behemoth's older titles. But as long as you're willing to give it a chance, you'll reap the rewards of a fairly deep, interesting game that was built with a lot of heart. I can't wait to see how Behemoth follows this up, and I hope it doesn't take five years to do it. Read the full BattleBlock Theater review Toki Tori 2 (PC, Wii U [reviewed]) Although charming and admirable, Toki Tori 2 at times is almost too minimal. Puzzles never really reach maddeningly difficult levels until more than halfway in, but often times it's hard to feel inspired to move to the next area -- or bother discovering it -- if there's no real incentive for doing so outside of general completion. Read the full Toki Tori 2 review Evoland (PC) Evoland makes for a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, and I'd recommend it to any Zelda or Final Fantasy fan in a heartbeat. While a few of the referential jokes cross over into cringe territory, most of them hit the mark, and there are a few little gags that really encourage a smirk, if not a real-life, out-loud chuckle. It's incredibly difficult to fault what's on offer, but it's quite easy to lament what isn't there -- chiefly a lot more of what's on offer. Read the full Evoland review Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above (iOS) Athyr Above comes across predominantly as a game on the wrong system. With some design tweaks, it may have enjoyed a far better time on something like the PlayStation Vita, which can handle a game clearly more suited to physical buttons. I've got nothing against the touch interface, and enjoy quite a few iOS games, but Edge of Twilight clearly has no place using it, not if this is the best it can do.  Read the full Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above review Dungeon Hearts (PC [reviewed], iPad) Once a game of Dungeon Hearts is won, new soundtracks unlock (five total). This would a stick instead of a carrot if it weren't for how great of a musical score it is. Along with the graphics, the music is a clever homage to the days of SquareSoft but manages to have an identity of its own. I can extend that statement to the entire game. Dungeon Hearts takes the Final Fantasy worship that has inspired many a RPG Maker indie and does something far more inspired and enjoyable with it. On a positive note, Cube Roots has been very active on listening to feedback on social networks and even provided a noteworthy update four days after release. Whether you are a fan of fast-paced, challenging puzzle games or an old-school RPG fan, Dungeon Hearts' charm will rub off on you. And if you are a fan of both of those things, you won't even mind its shortcomings, in time. Read the full Dungeon Hearts review BADLAND (iPhone, iPad [reviewed]) Much of the fun that comes from BADLAND is from the anxiety it will cause you in narrowly avoiding an insane deathtrap with your last fuzzy after watching a whole mess of clones explode throughout a rough patch of poisonous plants. LocoRoco this game ain't, as it's nearly impossible to save ALL of your community and so it becomes quickly necessary to focus on the ones that you just might be able to save and let the stragglers fall by the wayside or get burst into pieces by razors blades, gears, or javelin spikes. Read the full BADLAND review Tactical Intervention (PC) For those of us who remember the days of hostages falling down canyons and giant APCs glitching through walls in Counter-Strike, Le has made a game for you. It's unfortunate then that the game is buried under a myriad of problems, from dated, ugly presentation to shooting that feels clumsy. With how Le has talked up the game over the years, it's not a surprise that it's so ambitious. And with the many delays and last minute open beta, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's a total mess. Read the full Tactical Intervention review Receiver (Windows [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Just like the skate. and Monster Hunter franchises, Receiver focuses on the player's mastery of the game's unique mechanics. It will take some time and dedication to truly "master" the game, especially considering that each pistol demands the player to spend a lot of time with it just to understand how to reload the damn thing. By the same token, Receiver is one of those games that feels so incredibly satisfying once it is finally understood and everything clicks. Then you remember that a group of talented people made it in a week and you question what exactly you're doing with your life.  Read the full Receiver review Slayin' (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Slayin' is one of the best games I've played on iOS in some time. I'm really glad that it keeps In-App-Purchasing down to a minimum, and delivers enough thrills (retro or otherwise) to justify the meager price tag. If you're a fan of retro games and prefer gaming in small chunks, give this a shot immediately. Read the full Slayin' review Guacamelee! (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita) The game fully supports PS3/PS Vita crossplay, and you can use the Vita to control Tostada in 2P co-op on the PS3. The perks don't stop there either. Collectibles, a horde mode-style dungeon, side quests, a new difficulty mode upon completion, and plenty of other secrets help with the replay value. None of those bonuses would mean squat if the Guacamelee! didn't provide a fun world to mess around in, which it does. Right from the start, Guacamelee! offers up a sugar skull-covered playground to delight in and devour with mucho gusto. It's a game I'll be playing and replaying again for some time to come. Read the full Guacamelee! review Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PlayStation 3) It reeks of laziness, but that pales in comparison to what is easily the worst part of the entire experience. The quest system. Ugh! Poorly implemented and only there to waste your time, a seemingly endless number of errands awaits just to artificially lengthen the game. Rarely challenging, never interesting, these fetch quests exist only as arbitrary roadblocks that will need to be surmounted before the story is allowed to advance. Dwelling somewhere between mediocrity and greatness, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn't a very good one either. A nuanced, rhythmic, and generally entertaining combat system awaits alongside a nascent story for those that can endure more than their fair share of suffering. Read the full Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory review Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition (PC) InSanity was never going to be a great game. It would have struggled to be considered a good one. It did, however, have that certain special something, possessed of enough charisma to at least make me debate whether or not it was a bad game. That is, until the gear shift and rapid decline, at which point I gave up trying to be nice and settled in for an absolutely terrible time. It's a shame, because it had its hands all the tools necessary for underground success, but failed to prove itself consistent enough to stand out from all the other obscure, low-budget, bottom-feeding action games on the market. Read the full Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Jetstream DLC (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Hardcore fans will most likely want to experience Jetstream because it's more Revengeance, but if you were lukewarm with the core experience, more of the same probably won't wow you in any way. Platinum Games doesn't really do DLC all that often, and the studio really need to up its game if it wants to dive into add-ons in the future. Read the full Jetstream review Tekken Card Tournament (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on iPhone 5], PC) If you're actually interested despite the constant paywalls, the good news is there will be physical cards this Summer with QR codes to add to your digital deck. If you're a card game fan like myself, finding a group of people to play this with in a social gathering and getting free digital cards may be more enticing than ponying up for microtransactions. But again, that isn't available yet. In many ways, Tekken Card Tournament is a shame, because it's actually a decent, simple little card game. If someone laid a real-life starter deck in front of me, I'd actually play it for an extended period of time, but as it stands, it's not worth slogging through the mictrotransaction and "energy" nonsense to do it. Read the full Tekken Card Tournament review Sonic Dash (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Sonic Dash isn't a bad game, but it could stand to be much better than it is in its current state. With more zones and less weighty in-app-purchases by way of an update, Dash could be one of the more enticing endless runners on the market. As it stands, you might find yourself picking this up, and running right past it after a fleeting sense of enjoyment. But said time with it will undoubtedly be enjoyable, nonetheless. Read the full Sonic Dash review Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS) Soul Hackers is not a full-on remake, and more of a re-release. But you know what? Considering how well the game holds up even today, that's ok. Soul Hackers may have a number of antiquated principles and mechanics, but none of them are unprecedented or that difficult to deal with. So long as you're willing to put up with a bit of age, you'll be diving into one of the most accessible and enjoyable Shin Megami Tensei games in the series. Read the full Soul Hackers review Pandora's Tower (Wii) I previously called this title a "middle," but maybe that's doing it a disservice. Curious gameplay issues abound, only some of which I touched upon, in addition to the visual and voice acting mishaps. Still, it's bursting with so much content that you are bound to find a morsel that tickles your taste buds. There are even shades of that infamous NES-era challenge, though the difficulty thankfully stops shy of being completely overwhelming. It's just a damn fine videogame. Pandora's Tower is a bittersweet end to the Wii's life: a taste of the kind of software that could have carried the console during those slow months. As it stands, it won't be anything more that an engaging action RPG with a clever hook. But I suppose I can live with that. Read the full Pandora's Tower review Age of Empires II HD Edition (PC) Yeah, it actually took me longer than I’d like to admit to notice and fully grasp the importance of that inclusion. It’s only been a few days since the game dropped and there are already a pretty decent set of HD texture packs, gameplay tweaks, and tons and tons of other goodies. In the same way that Skyrim took my initial investment of 75 hours and magically extended that to something in the neighborhood of 500, the Workshop for AoE II is an amazing bonus. And, combined with access to multiplayer via Steam, it's really the only addition the game needs. All told, while a little frustrating if you’re not into tons of micro-management, Age of Empires II HD with the Workshop and updated multiplayer features is an excellent title. The brilliance of the game’s design is still there, you just might need to look past its age to see it. Read the full Age of Empires II HD Edition review Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Uprising DLC (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) One arena withstanding, Treyarch had a lot of fun with this map pack, and it really shows. From the joke-ridden Studio and Magma, to the surprisingly refreshing Mob of the Dead, there's a lot of solid content on offer here in Uprising. In terms of raw layouts, pretty much every map on offer here delivers solid FPS action, and there wasn't one arena in particular that I outright disliked. I feel like at this point in Call of Duty's history, the design needs to be a little bit more out there to really sway new users, but for fans and enthusiasts alike, you really can't go wrong with these maps. Read the full Uprising review Terraria (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed]) Terraria is an incredible experience, and no game has filled me with the same sense of wonder and drive to explore in a very long time. In this port to consoles, those feelings are preserved, but perhaps not as elegantly as they could have been. The control scheme turned out better than expected, but the multiplayer functionality is far from ideal. Still, I cannot recommend this enough to anybody with a heart for exploring the unknown and an inherent passion for discovery. Read the full Terraria review Cities in Motion 2 (PC) Though these issues hamper the overall experience, Cities in Motion 2 is a jump in the right direction, and is a significant improvement over its forebearer. It's more polished, though the occasional minor bug cropped up from time to time, and Colossal Order cut the chaff while adding in new, oft requested features such as the timetable system, which allows players to tailor the departure times of vehicles to cater to demand -- or lack of demand -- during certain times of the day, like the morning or evening rush hour. I didn't expect the game to grip me in the way it did, and I certainly couldn't have predicted how excited I would become at the prospect of getting people to their jobs in time. Cities in Motion 2takes a mundane and, frankly, boring subject matter, and makes it genuinely compelling. It has made my dreary real-life bus journeys a tiny bit more interesting. Read the full Cities in Motion 2 review ShootMania Storm (PC) Shootmania Storm is a community-centered first-person shooter with next to no community. It's an unfortunate situation, but one that the game finds itself in nonetheless. Though the menus are clunky and the game doesn't do much to welcome new players, the core game of Shootmania Storm is so wonderful to play that I can't help but want to always improve. It has a remarkably high skill ceiling, even if the basic controls seem simple at first. I believe the phrase is "easy to understand, difficult to master." Yeah, that fits this game perfectly. Read the full ShootMania Storm review Sacred Citadel (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) A nice presentation helps make things a little more interesting, but there's still no escaping the fact that Sacred Citadel fails to inspire much passion. It's an okay game, a solid arcade throwback, but it's a mere face in a crowd and doesn't stand out very much. It'll give you five or so hours of satisfactory action, dishing out amusement and annoyance at varying points, and while I think it's worth checking out for Sacred fans, most brawler connoisseurs would be better off sticking with the classics.  Read the full Sacred Citadel review Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger (3DS eShop) Like a lot of country music, The Last Ranger suffers from being repetitive and overly simplistic at times. Thankfully, it's very well performed, infectious, and packed with plenty of personality. If you play in occasional 20-30 minutes burst, you may never grow tired of this composition, but if you try to marathon through this album of outlaw armadillo hits, you'll be tempted to put the thing down for good. Read the full The Last Ranger review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) As mindless as it is, Injustice iOS is a very easy way to get reacquainted with your favorite DC Comics characters. It would have been a much better experience as a straight $4.99 download, with the ability to unlock every character in the game through straight progress, but despite that wasted opportunity, you really can't go wrong with at least trying out this free game. Read the full Injustice mobile review Fish out of Water (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) If you're looking for a new time waster, Fish Out of Water is a decent experience, despite its lack of depth. If you require something with a little more meat on its bones, feel free to wait, because in all likelihood, just like Jetpack Joyride, this will go free at some point given the fact that in-app-purchases are already featured. Read the full Fish out of Water review [embed]252288:48312:0[/embed] Dead Island Riptide (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Is Dead Island Riptide a fun game? At times, yes. In terms of raw combat and power fantasy, it's just as good as Dead Island ... and it's just as bad at the same time. The bottom line is that there's no excuse for it not being superior. Being "just as good" isn't good enough, especially not whenDead Island had things on its side that Riptide doesn't. Those new to the series entirely will likely not notice the problems quite so much, and be as forgiving to it as newcomers were to Dead Island. While Riptide banks on you having loved the first, in actuality you have a lot more to gain if you've never touched it.  If you played the first game, however, I'd recommend waiting for a real sequel, because Riptidefails to get away with pulling the same trick twice. Read the full Riptide review God Mode (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) As mentioned earlier, God Mode is the type of game that grows on you. The biggest complaint I have is a lack of variety, which is to be expected of a budget title. What Old School Games did include in this straightforward, arcade-centric shooter shows promise of a more fleshed-out project. There's also a hint of personality with a goofy narrator, but the execution isn't quite there.God Mode is an easy recommendation to make for those who want relatively mindless entertainment -- just don't go in expecting much more than that. Read the full God Mode review Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) While The Knife of Dunwall's missions may not reach the heights of the Boyle's masquerade or the Golden Cat, the first mission -- which sheds more light on Dunwall's grisly whaling industry -- is undoubtedly one of the best designed game-spaces in both the DLC and game proper. It both encapsulates what makes Dishonored such a delight to play and introduces a few new things, including the horrific Butchers -- a particularly nasty enemy who requires a wee bit more thought that most to dispatch. The new protagonist and plot may have been underwhelming -- and completely unfinished until Arkane releases the next piece of DLC -- but I'm less disappointed due to the polished gameplay. Daud has less tricks than Corvo, and damn do I miss the talking heart, but it all goes towards making The Knife of Dunwall a more focused package. Read the full Knife of Dunwall review LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS) The long load times from the Wii U version are also back, but with a vengeance! I'm talking load times that will trump even the earliest of PSOne Classics, sometimes dipping into the two minute mark. In addition to serving as an overall nuisance, it also makes going into buildings and loading new areas a chore -- and when load times impede exploration, you know it's really bad. Considering how other 3DS developers have done more visually with their titles, it's a bit odd to see a game like LEGO City suffer on the 3DS, especially given the aforementioned aesthetic sacrifices. If you're a diehard LEGO fan, odds are you'll get some form of enjoyment out of The Chase Begins. For everyone else, you're better off skipping it entirely, or picking up the superior Wii U version of the game. It's one thing to pare down an experience on a portable: it's another to sacrifice its integrity in the process. Read the full The Chase Begins review Monster Loves You (PC) If you go into Monster Loves You with the knowledge that this is really an interactive story for children, then you can get plenty out of it. It's quick to get through and packs the same kind of charm and sweetness as a good kids book but it really is a game designed for younger gamers. If you're looking for in-depth mechanics, then there's really not much on offer here but given the target audience, that is understandable. Read the full Monster Loves You review Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) Monaco: What's Yours is Mine truly is a game for anyone and everyone. It is simple enough to pick up and immediately understand how things work, while at the same time offers the complexity to have multiple players spend a few minutes sitting still, devising a self-titled "Best Plan Ever" complete with tracing the plan on the screen with fingers, saying “Ready? GO!”, only to see it backfire in seconds. Regardless of whether you plan on flying solo or with some buddies, do yourself a favor and go play Monaco. I know I'll be doing the same for a long time into the future. Read the full Monaco review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Redemption (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Across all three parts, it took me a little over four hours to complete the content in total (with a few more hours tacked on for 100% collection/completion). But however you choose to buy this DLC, whether it's by way of the Season Pass or piecemeal, I'm not so sure the two first halves are worth putting up with to get to this. In fact, despite my enjoyment of the final chapter it's probably best to just wait until a proper Game of the Year Edition hits and play the side story that way. Ubisoft had major potential with King Washington, and sadly, there were a few missteps that prevent me from recommending the package as a whole. If you've already picked up the first two parts and are on the fence about Redemption though, it's probably a good idea to just bite. Read the full The Redemption review The Sims 3: University Life (Mac, PC [reviewed]) University Life is decent on its own as an expansion, but when you stack it up against the other eight for The Sims 3 it really doesn't jump out as being that special. It's better than Seasons, but it's not game-changing. If anything, this just serves as a sign that the series is getting long in the tooth, and EA needs to think about releasing a complete edition to make all of this stuff more accessible to more players. Read the full University Life review Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S]) Every added element invites you back into the core game, where you lose yourself to the sights and sounds, literally chasing your dreams. And with the incorporation of community events, you feel a pleasant connection, touching the lives of others as they are touching yours. It's a heartwarming thought to know that, rather than trying to eclipse someone else's high score for your own self-satisfaction, you are working together for the benefit of the whole. Nothing about this game can bring me down. Not even the curiously long load times when you open the customization menu -- which I'm sure will be improved via update later down the road. Simply put, it lifts me like few other games have. And you too can be as content as I am right this very moment. Read the full Robot Unicorn Attack 2 review Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R (PlayStation Vita) If it wasn't for the major omission of new features, the lack of online play, and the fact that Plus R is coming to consoles for free, I would have enjoyed Guilty Gear on the Vita a whole lot more. The fact of the matter is, the game still holds up even today, and the series is still relevant, tight, and competitive. So long as you aren't bothered by an utter fumbling of features in this port, you're still getting a solid fighting game that should at the very least, function as a portable training simulation for the console version. I'm pretty torn on the review given the omission of such a major function, but ultimately Guilty Gear is a great game, and that core was preserved here. Read the full Accent Core Plus R review Signal Ops (PC) Signal Ops is far from the game it could have been. The concept is great and for the most part delivers, but the Bolt character class and his job of carrying a radio does a lot of damage to the overall design. It feels incredibly restrictive, refusing to let the player go where they please and take their time getting there. It definitely has some moments of brilliance, but they are often quickly forgotten.  Read the full Signal Ops review Strike Suit Infinity (PC) Strike Suit Infinity is a solid deal, given its lower price point. It doesn't claim to be anything but a wave-based, score-centric space-arcade game, and that works in its favor. The simple design allows the game to focus on its wonderfully satisfying mechanics, even if they aren't communicated very well through the poor tutorial. If the crashes can be ironed out, what will be left behind is an absolutely great way to marvel at space and its beauty while blowing the crap out of some big, hunking space ships for that ever-so-tasty high score. Read the full Strike Suit Infinity review Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) In an odd move, the game is only available currently in its fully priced form -- so if you own the original, you need to purchase the $39.99 disc or full digital game with no option to purchase a discounted DLC package. As a result, it's really tough to recommend the game to anyone who felt lukewarm with the original given the fact that it's essentially the same experience, just with a new island. The small extras almost feel like a bribe of sorts, and Capcom could have done much better than this. Then again, it works both ways as you could rent the original, save a file, and then reap these benefits with Dark Arisen as your first experience. While I can't wholly recommend Dark Arisen to anyone but the most hardcore of Dragon's Dogma fans, if you haven't touched the franchise yet, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Despite the issues, the series is an intriguing prospect that does many things right, and shouldn't be missed by action or RPG fans alike. While Capcom could have done a whole lot more with this expansion, the fact of the matter is the solid game underneath is still faithfully preserved. Read the full Dark Arisen review [embed]252531:48411:0[/embed] Don't Starve (PC) Playing Don't Starve can be infuriating. There's absolutely no guidance, and the initial punishing difficulty only increases. It demands that players figure things out for themselves and progress through exploration and experimentation rather than being spoonfed hints and tips. Its uncompromising nature will undoubtedly leave some unsatisfied and irritated, but for those who are willing to work and take risks, it pays off. The feeling of accomplishment when you manage to fend off countless cruel beasties, survive unrelenting foul weather, and fill your belly is potent. Mastering the wilderness is a difficult road, but from it comes a sense of empowerment. Of course, you could still lose it all in an instant. Such is the fickle nature of Don't Starve.   Read the full Don't Starve review Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita) Soul Sacrifice, true to its driving idea, is a game of compromises. There's a staggering wealth of content, but it can be tiring in its repetition. Battles are frantic and fun, but can be exhaustingly annoying if you choose the wrong friends. Very much like the game's Lacrima system, however, many of the sacrifices one must make to enjoy the game are negligible in the long run, and there's nothing that should stop one having a damn good laugh and getting utterly hooked on an adventure that really can be played until the Vita's batteries run dry.  Read the full Soul Sacrifice review [embed]251865:48405:0[/embed] Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The result of all this is a deep and well crafted premise in a somewhat shallow game. Blood Dragon is well made, and thoroughly entertaining to lovers of the eighties, but in many ways, it becomes a victim of its own success -- the core ideas are so fun, so lavishly crafted, one aches to see them in a game equal to their quality. Blood Dragon is a good little game, and I highly recommend checking it out, with the caveat that it's one of those games that does a few things well enough to inadvertently highlight its own flaws.  As critical as I may be, however, I'd rather have Blood Dragon exist as it does than not exist at all. A game this delightfully stupid can only make the world a better place, and I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of Rex Colt.  Read the full Blood Dragon review Star Trek: The Video Game (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) As predicted, this is yet another movie tie-in game that feels rushed and incomplete. Oddly, it has nothing to do with the plot of the upcoming film, so why it was rushed to coincide only proves it was made merely to cash-in on the popularity right at the film's release. With as many mechanics that it borrows from other titles, and how poorly it implements them, it should be beamed directly into the trash compactor. Sloppy, glitchy controls and graphics, tedious gameplay, and spotty co-op makes for one adventure you'll wish would boldly go away. It's dumb, Jim. Read the full Star Trek review Witch and Hero (3DS eShop) Outside of an interesting final battle, a decent twist ending, and an unlockable hard mode, there isn't that much substance here. You'll keep bumping over and over until you've bumped your way to the final boss (really, the only good part of the game) -- then if you want, you can bump some more. Variety could have really done wonders here. Even with a small budget, tiny nuances like sword animations, items in the shop, and mini-boss depth could have gone a long way. Witch and Herotakes a simple, charming concept and somehow manages to make it repetitive, dry, and unfun. Given the price, you're better off skipping this retro-centric experience in favor of the endless sea of classics on the 3DS eShop. Read the full Witch and Hero review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U) When DC Comics’ most popular heroes and villains appeared in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Aquaman was nowhere to be found. Thought of as a laughing stock with a shaky history in videogames -- the less said about Battle for Atlantis, the better -- Aquaman was tossed aside. Now, Aquaman is a total badass. Injustice shows a lot has changed in the world of DC since 2008. It also shows there is a lot that can still be changed in fighting games.For a game weighted down by genre conventions that are further imposed by fictional characters that have been around longer than most of our lifetimes, Injustice is full of the type of grand ideas we stopped seeing in fighting games since the late '90s. Whether it becomes embraced by EVO players or not, it's a nice shot in the arm for a genre that often feels niche to a fault. Read the full Injustice: Gods Among Us review
April 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of April 2013
This review recap is brought to you by Daft Punk's Alive 2007, which fueled the incessant copying and pasting efforts needed to put one of these together. I don't feel like I've blinked since I started working on this, but it...

The best and worst games of 2013: Infinite March

Apr 06 // Jordan Devore
Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS) Etrian Odyssey IV the best series title yet, and an excellent place to start if you've never played one before. It is, by far, the most accessible series game yet, with its Casual mode and its wide-open, free-exploration gameplay. And for the first time, despite being a dungeon crawler at heart, an Etrian Odyssey title feels like a sprawling adventure.  For series fans, everything you love about Etrian Odyssey is here, and then some -- better music, art, monsters, and mapping. You will not be disappointed. For everyone else: fans of classic dungeon crawling, fans of planning and plotting, or fans of a sizable challenge, I cannot recommend Etrian Odyssey IV enough. Read the full Etrian Odyssey IV review Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PlayStation Vita) On top of the technical issues, there's barely anything new that's been added here to justify another purchase. It's a shame, because I really enjoyed the original Ninja Gaiden 2 and Sigma 2. Team Ninja really missed the opportunity to add a killer feature like the ability to replay Time Attack missions with extra characters or enhance Ninja Race, which would have justified a double/triple-dip. With the removal of content like Japanese audio and online co-op, this game doesn't offer enough to truly justify the "Plus" in its name. Team Ninja really needs to get its act together going forward, or the Ninja Gaiden series will be beyond repair. Read the full Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus review March of the Eagles (PC) There still remains some obstacles to an enjoyable evening of name-calling and war-declaring, unfortunately. Throughout my multiplayer matches, there's been players dropping, a shoddy "metaserver" that simply didn't work, the need to connect directly via IP as if we were still in the '90s, and the weirdest issue so far: the checksum of half the players changing, stopping us from being able to play together for about 30 minutes. Get past that nonsense and it's bloody marvelous. If you have the patience.  I'd happily recommend March of the Eagles based exclusively on the multiplayer, but if you prefer your gaming to be a solo venture, then it might not really offer quite as much. Those looking to get stuck into a historical war and not a lot else may still find conquering Europe and giving ol' Bonaparte what for entertaining, though, and as a game doesn't tend to go on for longer than eight hours in single-player, it won't devour your life.  Read the full March of the Eagles review Driftmoon (PC) [...] diehard RPG fans like myself will find things like the lack of party controls and the basic skill tree a bit too simple when compared to games like Baldur's Gate orThe Witcher. Driftmoon is, in its own right, an adventure worth having though, largely thanks to its witty writing and absolutely splendid humor. It’s a bit of salvation in a genre that seems to be limping by these days. Driftmoon is very obviously a labor of love. A lot of time and dedication went into creating it, and it shows. Though it may fall short in some areas, this is a classic RPG through and through. Beginners and veterans alike should take note and try out the demo at the very least. Read the full Driftmoon review Alien vs. Predator: Evolution (Android, iPhone, iPad) In fact, as I think about it, I have to give the devil his due. AvP: Evolution is actually worse than Colonial Marines -- ever so slightly worse. At least getting from A to B in Gearbox's insulting mess was relatively stress-free and didn't cause me to want to break something. For that roaring triumph, Colonial Marines now gets to enjoy not being the worst Aliens game to be released this year.  Congratulations to AvP: Evolution! You've managed to be marginally worse than an unfinished, buggy, outsourced piece of trash. You must be very proud.  Read the full Alien vs. Predator: Evolution review Tomb Raider (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Tomb Raider could so easily have gone wrong, and its opening gambit looks like it's heading down a most erroneous path. It starts off with some ambushing QTEs and absolutely pummels Lara Croft into the dirt to such a degree, you'd almost suspect the developers were getting off on it. This first impression is an awkward obfuscation, however, one that soon erodes to reveal a savvy, thoughtful, and above all, immensely enjoyable game. In fact, I'm happy to go on record as saying this is the best Tomb Raider game I've played. Tightly produced, competent in both its puzzling and its combat, this is one reboot that manages to be unequivocally superior to its predecessors. Read the full Tomb Raider review Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires (PlayStation 3) The Empires series is generally considered the best type of Dynasty Warriors spin-off, but with Koei's latest efforts smacking of no effort at all, this particular release comes across as unnecessary and pointless, especially with Dynasty Warriors 8 already out in Japan and inevitably preparing for a Western launch in a matter of months. This is still a decent enough game if you literally cannot get your fill of Warriors games, but for this lifelong fan of the series, Koei's been delivering too much of too little for a while now, and I'm about at the end of my tether. Read the full Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires review Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman (iOS, PC [Reviewed]) As a first episode, The Hangman does more right than it does wrong. The influence of Jane Jensen, and Phoenix Online's previous work on its labor of love, The Silver Lining -- itself inspired by the hey-day of adventure gaming -- makes Cognition feel very much like what I suspect Sierra Online would have been putting out now if they were still around. Most importantly, I'm eager to get stuck into the second episode.  Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman review Dollar Dash (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Dollar Dash is a serviceable game, even if it doesn't aim very high. If you're bored of constant deathmatches in Spelunky's multiplayer versus mode, or you've saturated every last round of Bomberman and the many clones it spawned over the years, Dollar Dash will give you a few evenings of enjoyment. Read the full Dollar Dash review Mass Effect 3: Citadel (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC) For those of us who are heavily invested in the series, for whatever reason, it means putting away something special. This was a modern sci-fi epic that attempted, at least, to give the player a voice. I don’t think this trip quite took the path that anyone thought it would, but it’s been an interesting ride. If this is how BioWare wants to close Shepard’s chapter, I can live with this. It’s not a perfect finale, but it’s one that highlights the best we’ve seen from the series so far, and it’s not without its own set of endearing idiosyncrasies.  Read the full Mass Effect 3: Citadel review DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) In a way, Vergil's Downfall represents the game DmC might have been -- less fluff, more style. But at the same time, like many areas of DmC, it lacks substance. You'll fight very samey enemies across five areas that also bear a resemblance to stages from the core game, which at the end of the day, just isn't quite enough to justify DLC pricing for everyone. If you loved DmC, you really can't go wrong here. But if it wasn't everything you had hoped for, Vergil's Downfall will do little than give you a glimpse into the stylish Devil May Cry of old, at least from an aesthetic perspective. Read the full DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall review God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3) Ascension had challenges coming from every direction from early on. Some of the franchise's core mechanics have grown a bit tired over the past years, which had gamers questioning the need for another title. Beyond this, some questioned the need for a prequel story. Most of all, the idea of a multiplayer addition was initially off-putting to vocal series fans. But, like Kratos, Sony Santa Monica ripped through every one of these challenges with their bare hands to bring us a game that is so fantastic that it should make anyone that ever questioned them feel bad for doing so. God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They've set the bar so high that I have no idea how they'll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud.  Read the full God of War: Ascension review Kersploosh! (3DS eShop) With a bit more content and some tweaking, Kersploosh! could have been one of the best games on the 3DS eShop, because as it stands, it's a hard sell for people who like their experiences padded with more content. If you're okay with a short, enjoyable journey to the bottom of a well though, it's more than enough. Read the full Kersploosh! review The Bridge (PC) The Bridge surprised me multiple times during the eight or so hours I played it. It surprised me with the devious simplicity of the level design, the dark theme that permeates the entirety of the game, and I was especially surprised by how satisfying the game was as a whole. Some of the puzzles are a bit of trial-and-error since the more complicated mechanics take a certain amount of experience to fully understand. The difficulty can also be a bit wonky at times, alternating back and forth between "hard as a five star Sudoku" and "easy as a word search." Read the full The Bridge review SimCity (PC [reviewed], Mac) There is some promise for this to be a good game, but promise alone isn't enough. Even if they do manage to get their servers back online and functioning, I still know that if something goes wrong on their end I will lose all of my saved games. My cities are at the mercy of EA's servers and my Internet connection, and while there are some nice things to be found in SimCity, the need to always be online and feeling forced to play with other people ruins the experience.  I wanted to like this game, I really did. At first I started to enjoy it, but soon all I found was frustration. I can't recommend this game to anyone, and I don't want to play it anymore myself because I am afraid of seeing all my efforts lost due to server issues. It's a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it.  Read the full SimCity review The Banner Saga: Factions (PC, Mac) Consider Factions for what it is: A testing ground and potential cash cow for Stoic's upcoming commercial release, and a fun sample of what's to come. If I were not in the middle of Fire Emblem, I may continue to play Factions -- hell, I may play a random match here and there, anyway. This unorthodox release that has Kickstarter backers in a frenzy is not worth getting so worked up over, as it suggests the single-player Banner Saga may be a gem -- a gem that some will have Factions users to thank for helping make it what it is. Read the full The Banner Saga: Factions review ATV Wild Ride 3D  (3DS eShop) In many ways, ATV Wild Ride 3D is stuck in the 90s, but that isn't wholly a bad thing. It does everything that it advertises -- it allows you to ride ATV vehicles on some pretty neat courses, in 3D. Just don't expect much more than that. Read the full ATV Wild Ride 3D review Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (Xbox Live Arcade) With its colorful characters, gorgeous sprite graphics, 8-bit tracks, and multiple game modes, there's a lot to love here. I must admit, while I wasn't familiar with the fighting game on which it's based, I'm seriously hoping it passes through localization, as I'd love to play that title as well. Whether playing couch co-op or online, it's a great way to spend an afternoon with friends, though hopefully they'll patch for having a more stable connection for the latter. Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a simple game that anyone can pick up and play, but belies a deeper feel for combos like a traditional fighting game would, while adding a minimal skill tree for damage and speed boosts like an RPG. It's deep without being too deep, which makes it just the right amount of fun. Read the full Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds review Richard & Alice (PC) There is a lot of text to get through, but Richard & Alice is a well-paced adventure. Dialogue-heavy moments between the titular characters are broken up by Richard, under player control, interacting with his room, emailing the prison staff, attempting to fix the AC, all the time still chatting to Alice, and then there are the flashbacks which are evenly paced throughout.  Despite being a short tale, there are multiple endings and subtle, easy-to-miss pieces of information that make Richard & Alice worth at least a second playthrough, something I just did this afternoon. It isn't required, however, as this is a complete story, and all the endings have something to offer both in terms of the closure they provide and their emotional weight. Read the full Richard & Alice review LEGO City Undercover (Wii U) For all its faults, charming is absolutely the word best describing LEGO City Undercover. While more could have been done to exploit the sandbox scenario, and while it sticks a bit too nervously to formula than it could have, Undercover is nonetheless a frequently pleasurable, occasionally hilarious little romp in a new LEGO world full of potential. Should TT Games get another chance to revisit this idea, I hope for -- and expect -- a lot more of an expansion on the concept, and a lot more focus on the fresh elements that provide Undercover's highest points. As for this first try, we have a pretty damn good effort that I'd love to see more of.  Read the full LEGO City Undercover review Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (3DS) Your mileage may vary; from various impressions around the net, a lot of folks have already voiced their approval. And that's fine. I'm happy if you are able to look past the complete exclusion of any of the traditional Castlevania values and appreciate the Western-focused approach, even if it isn't original in the least. I simply cannot share in your enthusiasm. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is not the fusion of old and new Castlevania designs that was teased; it merely cements MercurySteam's ambition to keep the Lords of Shadow sub-series as distant from the main branch as possible. Not the worst thing in the world, but still quite disappointing. Read the full Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate review Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3) In short, Gust definitely seems to be straddling the line with Atelier Ayesha, showing that they have the talent to construct a plot which doesn’t rely on swimsuit competitions, yet aren’t quite ready to dedicate themselves to the taxing demands of a full RPG adventure. What we’ve left with then is a game without an audience. Fans of traditional RPGs will be turned off by the minimal exploration elements; fans of anime babes in skimpy costumes are unable to get their fix, while fans of generic cutesy anime nonsense really don’t command the buying power to make Atelier Ayesha anything more than a niche title. Read the full Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk review Naruto Powerful Shippuden (3DS) It may not be a perfect brawler, but it's certainly a fun one, and one that any Naruto fan would enjoy. Don't let the art style dissuade you from enjoying the action here, as the RPG-esque elements of stat boosting and defense increases add a special something that future games in the genre should take note of. The humor may also not be for everyone, but if you're like me, you'll love the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously. It fits the art style as well as the general goofy nature of the characters and situations. Plus, with it being based on Rock Lee's spin-off, you're already getting a unique experience gamers haven't yet tapped into. It's the ideal mix of fun and funny, without being too over-the-top. Read the full Naruto Powerful Shippuden review Super House of Dead Ninjas (PC) This is one game that I know I'll be playing long after this review is finished with. The instant challenge and frantic pace makes it perfect to just pick up and play for 15 minutes, while the tight controls and potentially limitless number of floors makes it easy to pour hours into. If you're not convinced, then check out the free version and see if it floats your boat. I do have one caveat, however. Whatever you do, don't play this with a keyboard. It's possible, but you'll just be giving yourself another unnecessary and fairly unpleasant challenge. Thankfully,Super House of Dead Ninjas comes with native controller support, and after a few initial hiccups, it seems to work perfectly now. Read the full Super House of Dead Ninjas review The Showdown Effect (PC) The Showdown Effect's success will ultimately be dictated by the number of players that stick around. They need to host the games, and they need to provide the challenge for other players. Unlike Magicka, it's a multiplayer, online-only experience, and that's something of a risky endeavor for a small studio. It's a game that deserves to be played, however, and it's one that's a hilarious spectacle to watch too -- something that Arrowhead clearly realizes and is keen to exploit with its Twitch.tv integration. Maybe I should make one of those video thingymabobs? Nah, I don't need any more people laughing at how awful I am.  Read the full The Showdown Effect review Dead Space 3: Awakened (PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3) Speaking as a fan of Dead Space, I feel I could skip Awakened and miss absolutely nothing of value. While some of the new ideas are nice, the sense of disappointment that none of them are capitalized upon offsets any good they do, while the story is nothing you couldn't explain in a single Tweet. While the gameplay is as solid as anything found in Dead Space 3, it could also be acquired simply by replaying chapters of Dead Space 3.  Dead Space 3: Awakened is a whole lot of not much at all. Read the full Dead Space 3: Awakened review Darkstalkers Resurrection  (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) If you're opting to play online, the netcode is extremely solid, and I had a chance to play around 50 games with little to no interruptions or issues. The GGPO-powered online system works just as advertised, and with eight-player lobby support, YouTube upload functionality, and an online tournament mode, Resurrection really shines online. Although the visuals deserved a much larger upgrade than a lazy filter, the fact of the matter is, the engine still holds up amazingly well, and the netcode is near perfect. If you've always been curious about this franchise, now is the time to take the plunge -- if you're a fan of old-school 2D fighters, you won't be disappointed. Read the full Darkstalkers Resurrection review Vampire Crystals (WiiWare) After beating the final boss, the story pulls a Ghosts 'n Goblins and forces you to replay the entire campaign for the true ending, only now the levels take place at night and enemies are unfathomably more aggressive. I died three times during the revamped first stage before dropping the controller and saying, "No more." Clearing the three worlds once only requires a handful of hours, but the tedium that sets in early on makes it feel like far more time has elapsed. There was no way I was suffering through all that again. I can appreciate the classic arcade spirit of Vampire Crystals, but it does little to mask the shortcomings of old-school design while adding its own set of issues. Playing it single-player is chore, but convincing a group to play with you might be even more laborious. There just isn't enough meat on these dusty old bones. Read the full Vampire Crystals review Ridiculous Fishing (iPad, iPhone [reviewed]) Yes, perfect is the word for Ridiculous Fishing. Everything comes together to deliver a cohesive whole that works to alternate between making you smile, making you wonder, and most of all, making you want more. Thankfully, the game is quick to offer more. Just when you think you've seen the end, there's a new area, new item, a new kick in the storyline, or new fish to savor.  Ingeniously designed, continuously compelling, painstakingly crafted, dripping with personality, packed with content -- I like everything about Ridiculous Fishing. Read the full Ridiculous Fishing review Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Gears of War 3 was still a great little game, but represented the kind of step down indicative of a series that's running out of steam. Gears of War: Judgment puts paid to that impression, proving there's plenty of vitality in Epic's flagship yet; provided it's willing to try some new spins on its established formula. OverRun alone is worthy of praise, but there's just so much stuff going on in this package, there's something for all followers of the series. A few of Judgment's experiments may not be as fondly received as others, but overall it's hard to complain about a game that tries so much, and succeeds in almost all its endeavors.  Read the full Gears of War: Judgment review StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC) Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic addition to the StarCraft series, and quite frankly feels on par with a $60 game. It brings almost nothing new to the table, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula you know works well. If you enjoyed Wings of Liberty, or just like RTS games in general, there's no reason not to pick this one up.  Read the full StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm review Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS, Wii U [reviewed]) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate definitely isn't for everybody. It requires a lot of time and dedication that some people simply can't put forth. It will take a while to get used to the controls, to determine which weapon is best for you, and to discover the tiny nuances to the gameplay. After all is said and done and the big monster is slain, however, nothing is more rewarding. Encountering monsters in Monster Hunter isn't like most other games. Monsters will take your breath away shortly before they take your life away. This is a game that will force you to learn from your mistakes, lest you repeat them and achieve the same failure as before.  While the visuals are far from stunning and the online lacks any sort of host migration, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in a long time, and will certainly keep you busy for a while. Read the full Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The Betrayal tries to offer more variety than The Infamy did thanks to its high flying antics, but it never truly transcends those ideas on a base level. If it offered a full sandbox with ridiculous spirit powers, it could have made for a pretty amazing superhero sideshow. Instead, the powers feel fairly limiting, as do the worlds they take place in; which feels like a wasted opportunity. Perhaps if the third part can bring the craziness up to 11, this "what if" story will pack a little more punch. Until then, you may want to hold off on going all in, or even partly in, at this point. Read the full Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal review Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) In many ways, Dark Moon's ScareScraper is one of the best multiplayer modes I've ever played. There's so much variety to it, and the formula of combining the cooperative nature with competitive, playful elements is genius. My wife and I couldn't stop playing, and every time I had friends over who owned a 3DS, I beamed a download play version to their portables for a quick few rounds. If Dark Moon was just a single-player experience, it would have been a fleeting, yet enjoyable adventure. But with the addition of an infectious multiplayer element that can't be replicated anywhere else, it makes Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon even better than its predecessor, and one of the clear-cut best games on the 3DS. Read the full Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon review Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360, PS3) There is an enjoyable camp quality to the script, which is full of nonsensical twists and tough guy talk ("We've got a major shit sandwich!") that takes itself way too seriously. I can see some appeal in getting together friends and having some drinks while playing. The constant waypoints and enemy icons make me think that being inebriated would make for an acceptable challenge. Nevermind online, which is composed of 2 maps, 1 mode (Team Deathmatch), and 0 active servers. The task set before Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is not a hard one: make sniping fun. Apparently, City Interactive didn't get the memo, filling the game with a never-ending sequence of following an NPC guide through uneventful, recycled, and ugly environments. Even at four hours, Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 requires a level of patience and commitment that even the best snipers won't be capable of. Read the full Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 review Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360) While the game isn't a genuine sea change from its predecessors, it stays true to the franchise's foundations, and makes up for any lack of innovation with the grand, beautiful spectacle that is its hallmark. The iterative refinements Cyberconnect2 have implemented over the series' history have helped to deepen the gameplay as well, bringing a more satisfying competitive experience while still maintaining accessibility. Though it stumbles somewhat due to unfortunate narrative placement, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a must-play for any Naruto fan, as well as anyone looking to have a good time wallowing in fun anime ridiculousness. Read the full Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 review The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii U) It's easy to believe Terminal Reality had the skeleton in place for a unique and enthralling take on the Walking Dead franchise, but with a deadline looming, added absolutely nothing to the bones and tossed out something woefully undercooked. Survival Instinct clearly isn't finished, and has no business expecting money from any paying customer. It's the kind of hurried, jury-rigged game that risks dealing damage to a property -- an especially sour note considering all the excellent work achieved by Telltale's The Walking Dead. By contrast to 2012's adventure game, Survival Instinct cashes in all the property's goodwill to churn out a botched, incomplete, hideous little waste of time and energy.  Read the full The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct review Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS) It's always tough to judge whether or not a game should be commended or punished for streamlining a series that previously catered to a niche audience. In this case, it simplifies the experience a bit too much, but given that this is the most accessible game yet, it could lead to more potential fans, which is always a good thing. Although it may not be the best game in the franchise, Gates to Infinity is still an enjoyable dungeon crawl, and a beautiful-looking game to boot. So long as you can deal with an easier adventure, this is another mystery worth solving. Read the full Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity review BioShock Infinite (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) As a game, BioShock Infinite has its successes and its falterings consistent with any suitably complex piece of interactive entertainment. As a story, as an exercise in drawing the player into a believable and relevant world, as proof of exactly what a videogame can mean to a person ...  Well, I already said it. BioShock Infinite is damn near perfect. Read the full BioShock Infinite review HarmoKnight (3DS eShop) [...] HarmoKnight is a wonderful bundle of charm and joy that doesn't really punish failure but rather encourages perseverance and dedication. There isn't even a "Game Over" when you die! Instead, the screen reads, "Oh Dear..." Reminds me of a mother who picks up a child who fell off the jungle gym, dusts him off, and gently urges him to try again. It's such a minor touch, but it's nonetheless uplifting. Maybe I'm sentimental like that. It's been seven years since Game Freak last made a non-Pokémon title. HarmoKnight feels like the promising start of many wonderful new experiences to come, so I can only hope we don't have to wait another seven years for a follow-up. Read the full HarmoKnight review Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360) Satisfying gameplay is the crux of the Tiger Woods franchise. All the new modes in the world wouldn't matter if it didn't feel so amazing to actually play. Luckily, Tiger Woods PGA 14 stays true to the core gameplay, and adds a very worthwhile mode with Legends of the Majors. All of the other new bells and whistles are either mediocre or long overdue. The game is hard to recommend to someone who picked up last year's outing, except perhaps to the big golf enthusiasts among you who would appreciate the Legends of the Masters mode more than anyone else. If you're like me, though, and haven't picked up a Tiger Woods game in a while, PGA 14 has the classic gameplay that made the series stand out from its competitors, even if it is starting to show its age graphically. Read the full Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 review Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey (iOS, PC [Reviewed]) Though The Wise Monkey is not all it could have been, it's a strong second episode. Much of it, however, felt almost like filler. The murder of Erica's brother and The Hangman case remain effectively untouched throughout most of this installment, and it does worry me that it has now set up even more mysteries while answering absolutely nothing. I don't doubt that it will all tie together somehow, but Cognition throws so few bones to the player that even the enjoyment of speculation is fruitless.  Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey review Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The core of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is still decent. It's a serviceable game, and provides the kind of no-frills, unimaginative action that can at least provide cathartic fantasy violence. If that's what you want, however, you're better off getting the last game -- one that felt more refined, offered more compelling interaction, and will likely be available to purchase for peanuts these days. The Devil's Cartel, by contrast, is buggy, unnecessary, and outstays its welcome before the credits close.  Army of Two has never been an especially bad series, it's just never been an especially good one.The Devil's Cartel is the ultimate example of this. Is it bad? Not especially. But it's a far, far cry from good. Read the full Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel review Sword of the Stars: The Pit (PC) The Pit is very difficult and has that same feeling of "okay, just one more run" that both Binding of Isaac or FTL: Faster Than Light have, but it still feels a bit "been there, done that." The Easy difficulty setting in conjunction with being able to save at any time are great boons for new players, while both the Hard and Insane difficulties are present for you crazy masochists who enjoy that kind of punishment. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Sword of the Stars: The Pit, there just isn't anything that is really mind-blowing. It is a well-polished roguelike that doesn't stray far from expectations, but instead stays in a rather comfortable zone from a game design perspective. Read the full Sword of the Stars: The Pit review Dead or Alive 5 Plus (PSVita) When it comes right down to it, one of last year's best fighting games on home consoles has become one of this year's best handheld fighters. Play control is never hampered by the more cramped constraints of the small button layout, graphics aren't sacrificed on the smaller screen, and just about everything from the feature-rich home version is included here, with a few noticeable exceptions. While not all the extra modes are fantastic, there's something to be said for extra content at all in a port, and the cross-save and cross-play functionality is a welcome addition to any Vita game. Read the full Dead or Alive 5 Plus review DLC Quest (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Indie Games) Still, for less than five dollars, there's enough charm to justify the entry fee. The game's dialog induces anything from smirks to cringes, while the retro-themed graphics and music are joyful in their simplicity. It's a cheap game, with a rudimentary premise, that does enough to keep its joke fresh and feels inherently validating for a player who's grown weary of the game industry's less savory practices.  At the very least, you'll get your money's worth, which often cannot be said for the many games DLC Quest owes its creation to. Read the full DLC Quest review
March 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of March 2013
What a month! Now that March is well behind us (and we remembered to take a look back to ponder), I feel confident in saying that between BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, and yet another Gears of War, we are well into ...

The best and worst games of 2013: February Rising

Mar 04 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Cart Life (Windows) Hofmeier gives the player the freedom to trap themselves in the rat maze of low-income retail, but surrounds this with a world of distant figures for whom jobs don't exist and success has been tamed. While in shellshock from the burn of menial work and poverty, only the character and short term problems seem to exist. The figurative and literal connections Hofmeier makes between physical input and character action are profound and immediate, creating emotions that bleed into reality and beg for contemplation. Eventually, the worker must look past their own problems and become a part of society. In Cart Life, there is no world to connect to. After personal discoveries are made through the game's mechanics -- which are unfortunately paired with a multitude of game crashes -- the player is left to repeat a virtual life of monotony and zero-sum progress. The most reasonable action is to do the thing that real life cart vendors can't: Turn your back on the job and go do something else. Read the full Cart Life review  Croixleur (PC) Drawing inspiration from Devil May Cry's Bloody Palace mode, the game's story mode takes place in a tower filled with monsters. Players are placed in a series of arenas and must defeat a set number of enemies in order to progress to the next floor.  It's pretty simple and there aren't a whole lot of frills to the package, but what Croixleur does (combat), it does very well. Slashing, dashing, move canceling, the mechanics of everything seem incredibly refined and well tuned. Standard attacks are complemented by a sizable arsenal of unlockable weapons, each with their own properties and special moves. Nuanced systems help flesh out an otherwise unadorned game, as players will need to learn how everything works together to see it through to the end. Read the full Croixleur review  Tokyo Crash Mobs (3DS eShop) Tokyo Crash Mobs is a match three puzzle game where you play as one or two young women who throw or roll human beings at other human beings wearing the same colored clothes. This makes the human beings form "cliques," then disintegrate. At first, the two women appear to have different motivations for taking action in this way. Grace wants to have a fun time at the club, but she's at the back of the line. Only the first ten people of the line will get in. Her solution to this problem is to kill everyone in front of her using her mysterious disintegration magic until she gets to the front.  Read the full Tokyo Crash Mobs review  Omerta: City of Gangsters (PC, Xbox 360) If you're really into mafia movies and other cosa nostra flavored dealings, you might get some pure novelty enjoyment out of it on a Steam sale, provided you can put up with the repetitive nature of the game. For everyone else, it's probably best to "forgettaboutit". Read the full Omerta: City of Gangsters review Aero Porter (3DS eShop) Yoot Saito is most famous for creating the Dreamcast classic Seaman, arguably the strangest game ever made. It is a game where you take care of a fish man. That's it. Do a marginally good job, and you may have a few interesting conversations with it about existentialism and the possibility that The Beatles weren't real. Then he'll leave. Game Over.  Knowing this about Yoot Saito, I went into Aero Porter expecting something surreal. Shame on me for thinking I know what to expect from Yoot Saito. While Aero Porter does delve into a few playfully strange moments, it's a fairly straightforward game about sorting luggage. What's strange about the game is that it's compelling. Sorting luggage sounds boring as hell. You'd have to pay me to do it in real life. In videogame form, it's something that I'm paying Yoot Saito and Level-5 for the permission to do.  Read the full Aero Porter review Dungeonland (PC) Let me start off immediately by confirming the challenging nature of the game: indeed, this is a "hardcore" dungeon crawler in every sense of the word. Exemplified by the fact that Dungeonland's lowest difficulty setting is "Hard," this game will throw the kitchen sink at you, go to a hardware store and put every other appliance on credit, then throw more at you, while sticking you with the exorbitant bill. Read the full Dungeonland review Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, Xbox 360) When Warriors games get a sequel, it typically gives all its characters a complete overhaul, with new looks and movesets to justify a fresh purchase. Not so in Ken's Rage 2, where any aesthetic alterations are minimal at best, and playable characters boast the exact same moves they had in the last game. None of the existing content seems to have been updated at all, and in some areas, even appear stripped down and inferior. Read the full Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 review Dead Space 3 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Dead Space 3 could have been the best entry in the series, and in many ways, it still does provide some of the franchise's most energetic, thrilling, entertaining moments. The changes thrown into the game inevitably damage its charm, though, and make this a step down from its predecessors. A step down from Dead Space's high standards don't necessarily make for a bad game -- far from it, in fact, for this is still a bloody great game and well worth any fans' time. It's sad that market pressure and industry fear tried so hard to ruin things, but one can at least savor the victory of Dead Space 3's creative success in spite of commercial encroachment.  Try as they might, ain't nobody killing Dead Space yet.  Read the full Dead Space 3 review Proteus (PC, Mac) As mentioned, there is a beginning and end to Proteus. It won't take long, either -- I finished in under an hour. Since it is entirely about exploring an unknown, randomly-generated island, there are more things to see and do than can be accomplished in a single playthrough. You can make also "postcards" of a specific moment during the journey that act as save points and can be revisited at any time. It may prove difficult to tear yourself away from the game in the first place, since exploring the island becomes such a memorable experience. Do you remember your first night cycle in Minecraft? The terror and fright that struck as soon as that first monster approached from out of nowhere? There is a similar feeling in Proteus, except the feelings of terror and fright are replaced with beauty and splendor, gazing into the night sky and marveling at the stars. Read the full Proteus review Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC, PlayStation 3,  Wii U, Xbox 360) Aliens: Colonial Marines is more than a disappointment. It's downright depressing. I can't say if it's the result of a lacking budget, rushed development, or sheer carelessness, but having the nerve to present this as a full retail game is inexcusable. It's simply not finished, and it certainly isn't worthy of being considered a legitimate followup to Aliens. As a story, it's inconclusive, riddled with cliches, and underwhelming. As a game, it's incoherent, insubstantial, and blatantly unconsummated. It took over five years for me to finally play this game, and less than five hours to feel nothing but a shocked emptiness at the thing I'd first downloaded with feverish anticipation. Read the full Aliens: Colonial Marines review Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita) In fact, "inoffensive" is probably the word that best describes Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time from the perspective of a fan. It fits right in with its predecessors, offering a rather lengthy campaign and a fair quantity of optional content that's fun to play, though not particularly challenging most of the time. While there may be an expectation that a series' arrival in a console generation outshine all that came before, Sanzaru has made a perfectly acceptable game that may not advance the genre, but feels comfortable with right where it is. Read the full Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time review Special Forces: Team X (PC, Xbox Live Arcade) I would hope that no one is so desperate for a third-person cover-based shooter on PC that they have to resort to playing Special Forces: Team X. It's bland, uninspired, unpolished, and borderline unfinished. The already paltry amount of players is sure to dwindle in the coming weeks and months, leaving Special Forces: Team X nothing more than a line in some unfortunate fans' Steam library.  Special Forces: Team X offers nothing unique to the genre and is likely to leave players unfulfilled. What could have been an interesting, inoffensive multiplayer game turned out to be a buggy mess without so much as a hint of something fresh.  Read the full Special Forces: Team X review Bentley's Hack Pack (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita) If you're a retro gamer, you've already played other titles that present the core precepts these mini-games provide, but Bentley's Hack Pack has an interesting enough framework to actually compel you to keep going, with a bit of the ol' Sly charm to boot. For a few bucks, it's worth taking the plunge. Read the full Bentley's Hack Pack review Serious Sam Double D XXL (Xbox Live Arcade)  The aesthetic of Serious Sam Double D XXL isn't anything great, bordering on generic. All of the classic enemies from the core games are present, which really makes it feel like a Serious Sam game. Even the new enemies are absurd enough to fit right in with the existing world. The music is also generic, with background music that does its best to sound as epic as possible to accompany the chaotic action on-screen. Serious Sam Double D XXL isn't going to blow anyone away, but it can make for an entertaining afternoon, with or without a buddy. It does a good job of capturing what the Serious Sam games are all about while at the same time changing the type of gameplay typical of the series. Read the full Serious Sam Double D XXL review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Metal Gear Rising is not Solid but still, unmistakably Metal Gear. Despite its lack of seeming significance to the larger scope of the franchise and less complex plot, it does no harm to the setting and features enough action-packed combat that nobody should really give a toss about the story anyway. Seasoned fans should be aware all the same that this is a wholly different series, taking a different approach with a team that has a wildly different set of skills and experience. The work they do well is stunning and overwhelms the shortcomings to mild grievances at worst. Very challenging difficulty settings and hidden unlocks await the enamored, while those seeking something a little less demanding of their time should appreciate the brisk pace. Players who don't expect they will return for a second round might consider making Revengeance a rental, however, if they have concerns that its short length won't measure up to the full retail price tag. Read the full Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance review Capcom Arcade Cabinet (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) If you don't mind waiting until late May, Arcade Cabinet represents a decent value for the discounted $29.99 asking price over the $45 you'd pay for the five packs. I'm certain I spent over $50 in quarters in playing these titles for this review, if you'd like to look at it that way.  Of course, if you already have some of Capcom's other collections, you'll need to decide for yourself if the online and social features make these re-releases worth the outlay. As far as titles go, there's nothing that could be considered new in the collection, though the new online features and presentation should not be glossed over.  Read the full Capcom Arcade Cabinet review Crysis 3 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Crysis 3 attempts to strike a balance between Crysis and Crysis 2, but in doing so manages to lose a little bit of what made each game appealing. The result is a title that doesn't truly match the open-ended excitement of the first game nor the revelatory empowerment of the second, yet manages to provide enough of both to at least tantalize, even if it doesn't completely satisfy. Solo play is shorter than previous installments and not as enjoyable, but multiplayer goes some way toward apologizing for it by stepping up its game and providing a gripping new experience in Hunter mode. This is a game that feels like the very essence of a "third installment" -- Familiar to the point of looking overplayed, but nonetheless refined and suffering no lack of quality.  Read the full Crysis 3 review Urban Trial Freestyle (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita) The setup for Urban Trial Freestyle is pretty simple. You play as a generic motorcycle rider who has to get from point A to point B, with no context given as to why the trip has to be made.  Your only job is to utilize your bike's acceleration, brakes, and directional capabilities to get there -- it's kind of like Excitebike, but a little more puzzle-like in nature. It's a lot harder than it sounds, as the slightest mistake can send you crashing into a wall or cracking your skull open on the hard pavement.   Read the full Urban Trial Freestyle review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) As previously mentioned the main change in gameplay is the power of the wolf. Utilizing the ancient powers of one badass cup of tea, Connor will be able to summon a pack of three wolves to chow down on enemies, and cloak himself at will (using his health as "MP" essentially). Using the cloaking power is pretty fun at first. Basically, as long as an enemy doesn't bump into you, or you have a solid amount of health, you can stay cloaked. What this means is that you can stealth kill enemies right in front of other people and remain a deadly shadowy visage so long as you can pay the MP for it. This leads to a ton of cool stealth puzzle opportunities that force you to figure out what the best course of action is in terms of moving between hidden bushes and buildings, using the cloak to fill in the blanks. Read the full Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy review Star Wars Pinball (Google Play, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Each table is chock full of beautiful art, character cameos, and tracks pulled straight from the films' soundtracks. These first three tables are a bold and equally stellar introduction to Star Wars Pinball, and they'll keep you more than busy until Zen Studios drops the next batch. At about $10, this is a bit more expensive per table compared to the usual $10 for four tables, but the package is certainly worth the asking price. If you're not a fan of Star Wars, but love pinball (or vice versa), Star Wars Pinball will make you a fan. Zen Studios has created the most interesting and content-rich tables yet, with their obvious love of the source material piercing through each of the fantastically crafted tables. Read the full Star Wars Pinball review Impire (PC) All of a sudden I was getting crashes every single mission, and to make matters worse, my saves were being corrupted. Most of the game is filled with "been there, done that" moments, but for me I literally had been there, playing that very mission, and I had to do it all over again. These aren't levels I wanted to do once, let alone twice. At this point, I should add, for the sake of transparency, that I failed to finish Impire's final mission. It crashed the first time I attempted it, then the second time it crashed and corrupted my save file. I packed it in at that point.  Read the full Impire review Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Mac, PC, PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS) Runner2 feels like a very natural progression for the series. The team at Gaijin Games has crafted a more nuanced and impressive follow-up to what was great title in its own right. Avant-garde but with a healthy respect for the past, Runner2 is a marvelous rhythmic platformer that just about anyone should be able to enjoy. Read the full Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien review Everything else Destructoid reviewed: Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad All in all, I don't see myself using the Orbweaver for absolutely every game I own, but I keep it hooked up to my PC all the same, next to my keyboard. I've found that for basic image editing required for my writing career, and my frequent MMO habits, it suits my needs fairly frequently. I've created a number of profiles for a few MMOs I play, and one for a few image touch-ups that I'll be using for the foreseeable future. If you don't play a lot of PC games I don't see a need for splurging here given the high price point, but for everyone else, it's a decent investment. Read the full Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad review Razer Taipan Gaming Mouse The Razer Taipan is a great middle ground for those who like to play competitively, regardless of whether or no they're playing in actual tournaments. It's simple enough as to not be overwhelming, while at the same time having plenty of features that the more hardcore players want to see, such as quickly adjustable dpi settings and macros. Read the full Razer Taipan Gaming Mouse review The History of Sonic The Hedgehog There is a delightfully optimistic tone throughout the book, even while discussing the less-than-stellar chapters in the Sonic saga -- I'm looking at you, Sonic 2006! I find that to be quite reflective of the Sonic fanbase, but in a good way. We know the series isn't the most consistent in quality, but ol' Mr. Needlemouse was once on top of the world, so there's no reason why he can't make a comeback as long as the passion remains.  The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is must-read for the diehards and lapsed fans. We may be unsure of where Sonic is heading, but I think we can all admire his storied journey.  Read the full The History of Sonic The Hedgehog review
February 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of February 2013
Our monthly reviews recap continues on from the series return last month. January was packed full of great games, to the point of sensory overload. Thankfully February didn't have as many new titles, giving us a chance to cat...

The best and worst games of 2013: January May Cry

Feb 01 // Jordan Devore
A New Beginning: Final Cut The German-language version -- which was the original -- is meant to be better, but alas I know about ten words in German so I really cannot confirm or deny this. It does strike me that the worst aspects of the game are due to the terrible effort made by the translation team and English-speaking voice actors, though.  If you are truly desperate for good puzzles and sumptuous art, then you could do worse than play A New Beginning, but I found it impossible to look past the many issues and really enjoy the few things it manages to do right. There are too many superior adventure games to count, and it's not even one of the better games with an environmental message.  Read the full A New Beginning: Final Cut review The Sims 3: Seasons Each of these features adds a nice layer of depth to the game, but they really don't add a lot of new gameplay. There isn't any new career to follow, there aren't any exciting new public lots, and while playing, I pretty much just goofed around waiting for the seasons to change. If you find yourself playing The Sims 3 a lot anyway, then Seasons will add something to the experience. If you are waiting for a new expansion to make you get back into playing The Sims 3, however, skip Seasons and wait for the next one. Read the full The Sims 3: Seasons review Forge All in all, Forge is quite enjoyable. At the same time, I did find myself struggling to want to continue playing. I'm not sure if maybe it's that the game is more of a shooter than I expected, or how it lacks that progression and stat growth, or if it is just because it's incomplete. When I do play, I enjoy Forge, but I wish that I was playing an MMORPG with the same gameplay setup instead. In the end, unless you're someone heavy into shooters who is looking for something different yet familiar, or are into MMOs for the PvP mainly, then it would be worth waiting for the game that will be "forged" a few months down the road. Read the full Forge review Gunman Clive (3DS) Gunman Clive can be pretty tough. In your average oppressive 2D action game, a motivating, beat-driven soundtrack can really help you push through the process of replaying a level for the tenth time. When Gunman Clive's soundtrack goes for old west authenticity instead of platformer euphoria, it can make the more challenging parts of the game feel less like a battle and more like a grind.  That said, the game is still a steal at $2. Fans of 2D action platformers need to check it out. If Hörberg Productions is ever graced with the opportunity to develop a mainline Mega Man game, I'm confident that fans of the series would be happy with the results. Read the full Gunman Clive review Anarchy Reigns Despite some issues, brawler fans should find everything they're looking for with Anarchy Reigns. It's ridiculous, it's fun, and it's packed with enough content to last you a long while, so long as you don't get tired of beating dudes up over and over. The budget pricing of $29.99 makes this decision even easier. Read the full Anarchy Reigns review Joe Danger Touch Like Rayman Jungle Run, Joe Danger Touch really "gets it" when it comes to iOS gaming. You don't need to 100% replicate console experiences, and "simplified" doesn't have to always mean "dumbed down." All in all, Hello Games did a great job bringing the Joe Danger franchise to your pocket, and I highly recommend it to anyone -- former fan or not. Read the full Joe Danger Touch review Seduce Me However, taken simply as it is, as a game where solving puzzles leads to porn, it's near the forefront of its field, particularly among non-Japanese games. It does make an effort to provide more than naughty pictures, including cursory character development and some semblance of a narrative. It's pretty and technically sound. While slightly anemic in content, it's titillating when it needs to be, and is at times even fun to play - I wouldn't mind playing the card games with real-life friends (minus the sex). And frankly, for a porn game, that's sometimes all one needs. Read the full Seduce Me review Fire Pro Wrestling Fire Pro Wrestling on Xbox Live Arcade is the most basic of wrestling games. Flat, featureless, and simplistic, it is devoid of any redeeming qualities found elsewhere such as replay value or fun. What could have been a cool, cartoon-y version of a classic franchise is but a wasted shell of its former self. Read the full Fire Pro Wrestling review Final Fantasy All the Bravest Final Fantasy All the Bravest is not really a game. It's a cash delivery system, with you playing as the courier, your money the cargo, and Square Enix the unpaying recipient. After years of trying to monetize videogames, Square Enix has now moved on to monetizing customers themselves. It's cut out the irritating middle man that is the videogame, and found a way to simply get people to hand over money in exchange for nothing. That is what All the Bravest is. It's nothing. It's air. It's a thought. You're buying a concept in order to keep buying concepts. Read the full Final Fantasy All the Bravest review DmC: Devil May Cry There is an argument to be made that, when judged alongside the rest of the series, DmC is a bad Devil May Cry game. The suggestion may be debatable, but there's a potential case to be made. It's more streamlined, it's not as challenging, and ultimately it has stripped away what a significant portion of the fanbase love most of the series. However, even if one sides with the argument that this is a bad Devil May Cry game, that does not preclude it from being deemed a terrific videogame on its own merits, and in my estimation, that's exactly what DmC: Devil May Cry is. Read the full DmC review Kinect Party Kinect Party is a fantastic game in the right scenario. If you often have guests over your house, especially family or children, then this is definitely something to check out. It’s hard for anyone to dislike a game in which you build a castle and promptly turn into a dragon to destroy it. However, I find that this isn’t the best thing to suit lone gamers like myself. I do love pretending to be trapped inside a jello mold with my dog every once in a while, but that can get old. That’s not to say that it isn’t a good game -- it certainly is for what it aims to achieve -- but Kinect Party is best played with others! Read the full Kinect Party review AirMech (beta) If you're even remotely interested in MOBAs or RTSs, then you'll be doing yourself a great favor by downloading AirMech and firing it up. It succeeds in building on the solid foundation laid by Herzog Zwei over 20 years ago, while simultaneously feeling modern and fresh. Now, I need to get back to the game so I can eventually buy a UFO that transforms into a giant mechanical spider. Abductions here I come!   Read the full AirMech review  Krunch It isn't perfect, as certain level design elements are a bit jarring and the lack of a quick-restart level option can make five seconds feel like forever. That being said, Krunch is a title that is sure to please anyone who stayed up late completing the Skyscraper Warp Zone in Super Meat Boy or ripped their hair out completing the Veni Vidi Vici room in VVVVVV. Fellow masochists, rejoice! Read the full Krunch review Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch If you're a lover of games that require you to put in before you get out, and you recall the glory days of the Eastern RPG, where experience points were the lifeblood and the grind was king, you have literally no decent excuse for not finding a way to play Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. A classic of the modern age, built entirely from classics of the past, it's advised you get comfortable, cancel all your plans, and prepare to enjoy a game that will dominate your life for the next few months.  Read the full Ni no Kuni review The Cave All told, The Cave is a morbid, humorous romp filled with life lessons which should be apparent already to all but the total sociopath. While there are some niggling issues with overall polish, it's a fun time for fans of adventure games that should set you to giggling and, hopefully, feeling just a little bit guilty about that glee. Read the full The Cave review Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt Enjoying Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is about managing expectations, about knowing what you want out of Borderlands 2’s constantly expanding menu -- its strong suits are the subtle twists on combat and enemy behavior, exploration, farming, and a hidden raid boss that costs almost 100 Eridium to spawn. Its narrative and mission structures are too loose and shambolic, though, and implemented with the same lack of care that led the designers to include a tribe of mind-controlled “savages” throwing spears at each other as the campaign’s principle enemy. Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is, like each of the game’s expansions, more Borderlands 2 at its core, but it’s a shallow version of it, without any of the main game’s self-awareness or charm. Read the full Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt review Strike Suit Zero When the final, sadly unsatisfying mission came to a close I was ready to put down SSZ. Replayability is offered in the form of scores, medals, and some unlockable ship bonuses you may not have been able to grab when first attempting the missions, but I'd had my fill. I would be happy to get in a thousand more dogfights, but I'm done with protecting and escorting my UNE chums. It's rare that a game knows when to call it quits, but that's the situation here. It's not so long that it outstays its welcome, but not so short that it fails to show off all its promise. The ending, or at least the one that I got (there are two different ones), implies the possibility of a sequel, and I couldn't be happier with that prospect. With better targeting, and less mentally sub-normal allies, I could very well find myself in Heaven. Until then, Strike Suit Zero will undoubtedly help you scratch that space combat sim itch you must have by now. Read the full Strike Suit Zero review Corpse Party: Book of Shadows Fans of Corpse Party would do well to pick up the second installment. The first game left a lot of unanswered questions and Book of Shadows does an admirable job at answering them. I've enjoyed spending time with these characters, even if it is the worst day of their lives. As for the uninitiated, well, they might want to consider expanding their horizons. But seriously, play the first before tackling this one. It's not like PlayStation Portable or Vita owners have been spoiled for choice when it comes to quality software as of late. Visual novels may be niche, but just about anyone can enjoy a good horror story. If you can get past the insipid gameplay, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows provides a pleasurable and haunting narrative that's well worth experiencing. Read the full Book of Shadows review Westerado The soundtrack goes perfectly with the detailed, sun-soaked pixel art visuals that tap into one's nostalgia, while also creating a surprisingly authentic western look. Westerado's a very animated game, never staying still for a moment. The protagonist's poncho constantly waves away, chickens never stop pecking at invisible seeds, and dried out weeds endlessly dance in the ceaseless wind. Even if you are put off by the plethora of bugs, it's free and accessible at the click of a button. You'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out at least once. No doubt you'll find yourself checking it out again and again, as I have been. Drape that knackered old poncho over your shoulders, roll up that cigarette, and strap on a rusty six-shooter -- it's time to hunt down a real bastard. Read the full Westerado review Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (iOS) Although outsourcing to Tag Games was probably a smart business move, I can't help but think how picture-perfect Clash of Heroes would have turned out if Capybara had done it themselves. With a lot of polish in terms of the controls through a future update, this could be one of the finest games on the App Store. Otherwise, just stick to the other incredible versions if possible. Read the full Clash of Heroes review DJMAX Technika Tune DJMAX Technika Tune offers a smooth, enjoyably frustrating experience rooted in precisely-tuned gameplay fundamentals. It's presented attractively, with a level of engagement that relies on mechanics rather than sentiment and effectively transcends one's taste in music, which in the case of the arguably exotic track listing would present the highest initial barrier to entry. It may not be especially generous with the extras and fluff, but gets it all right where it counts the most, with the added bonus of making the PS Vita's touch gimmicks useful and relevant to play. Read the full DJMAX Technika Tune review Boob Wars: Big Breasts vs. Flat Chests Even playing devil's advocate and writing this from the perspective of somebody who might be into these games, Boob Wars isn't good. By the standards of those who want to masturbate themselves silly over violent cartoon sex, we're looking at something sub-par, lifeless, and cynical. To offend a regular bypasser is one thing, but this feels offensive to even the target audience. Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe this truly is the game fans have been waiting for. I don't claim to speak for them, and nor would I, but all I can say is, if you want to get off with cartoons, there's much better out there. I can give you the links later. You really don't need to waste your time with this brainless, gormless, depressing little exercise in grisly misery.  All that said ... the soundtrack's pretty good. Read the full Boob Wars review Kentucky Route Zero Kentucky Route Zero evokes the feeling of old ghost stories told around a campfire. There's the familiarity of friends and family around a warm, man-made fire, but with it comes the unnerving tale of the strange and unusual. Kentucky Route Zero is beautifully bizarre and perfectly poignant, and most of all, deserves your attention. Read the full Kentucky Route Zero review Fire Emblem: Awakening While Fire Emblem: Awakening may not turn the notch up to 11, it's everything that's right about strategy RPGs. Whatever options you choose to go with at the beginning of the game, it's either one of the most accessible strategy games to date, or one of the most difficult. It's a brilliant design that will pay dividends for Nintendo in the long run, as it will convert plenty of new fans. If you've been itching to get into a Fire Emblem game, this is a great place to start. If you've been playing them all along, you'll feel right at home. Read the full Fire Emblem: Awakening review Skulls of the Shogun While Skulls of the Shogun does a great job of offering a decent amount of units, there's no inherent "wow" factor when it comes to gameplay. Although the traditional grid is tossed in favor of a circular movement shadow, it still feels about the same as the genre always has, minus the game's visual and vocal charm. I wasn't enamored by Skulls of the Shogun, but I enjoyed my time with it. If you can find local friends that enjoy a good asynchronous strategy game (think local Advance Wars), you might get a bit more mileage out of this one. Read the full Skulls of the Shogun review Ikachan (3DS eShop) I appreciate that Nicalis is trying to share more of Pixel's catalog -- such as this, the foundation for his later works -- but asking us to part with $5 for what amounts to a concept project is a little too tough to swallow. Ikachan is a marvelous introduction to a much larger, more ambitious game. But that's all it is: an introduction. If you are willing to accept that, you'll happily enjoy the short time you spend in its watery world. Read the full Ikachan review Puddle Fans of LocoRoco or those hurting for games to play on their Wii U will probably dig it, so long as they have the patience to rev it up a little bit. It's still a neat little puzzler for sure, but it needs a bit more tweaking for me to wholly recommend it. If you've always been on the edge in terms of buying this game, this release should tip you, as it's the definitive version. Read the full Puddle review Antichamber Antichamber is a perfect example of how a player learns to play videogames. There’s no gameplay tutorial, no loading screen tips (or loading screens, for that matter), just good ole' fashioned learn-as-you-play information aided by the in-game advice. There’s never a reference of mouse or keyboard, outside of the main lobby area. Antichamber is a unique and delightful first-person puzzle game that relies a bit too much on the wrong kind of puzzles. The plot is intentionally vague and some players may completely ignore it, but it hardly detracts from the overall experience. Antichamber looks great, is confusing in all the right ways, and may change the way people approach not only videogame puzzles, but real life obstacles as well. Read the full Antichamber review Euro Truck Simulator 2 A far cry from some of the more technical and unforgiving sims on the market, Euro Truck is as welcoming as it is authentic, forgiving while still prepared to reprimand those who fail. It's one of the best jumping points anybody curious about sims could have, and for everybody else, it's still just a damn fine experience in its own right.  It may sound like a joke that so many people are piling glowing praise on a trucking sim, but Euro Truck Simulator 2 is the real deal.  Read the full Euro Truck Simulator 2 review Everything else Destructoid reviewed: Razer Sabertooth The customizability of this controller and the fantastic performance of its buttons and sticks would definitely appeal to professional and competitive gamers, but I fear that the $79.99 MSRP will prevent some from jumping in. That would be a shame as the d-pad and face buttons alone were enough to win me over. I'd love to see a version of this controller that drops the customization and OLED screen for a lower price point.  Read the full Sabertooth review ROCCAT Isku FX Is the FX worth the extra $10 over the Isku (or even other keyboards)? I'm going to have to say no, because the new keys simply aren't worth the additional cost. Even beyond the fact that both keyboards are oddly expensive for not being mechanical, I feel that it might have been smarter to just re-release the Isku to include multicolored key lighting instead of making an even more expensive version. Read the full Isku FX review The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia The book contains so much Skyward Sword that, if you don't like it in some capacity, you may be disappointed. If you have no appreciation of the retro titles as well, the impact may be diminished, especially the portions involving Miyamoto and Aonuma. Even still, Hyrule Historia is a great read. I learned some things both old and new, and I got to enjoy some beautiful art. Read the full Hyrule Historia review
January 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of January 2013
I'm not sure what it's like from the outside looking in, but as someone who's directly involved with covering games and has to be thinking about them on a daily basis, January was one hell of an action-packed month. We kicked...

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Dtoid (the show): Pirates Lego, dragons, Wii and Mega Man


Nov 19
// Jonathan Holmes
Man, I screwed up pretty badly in this episode. That normally makes me miserable. Yet, I still can't help but love today's edition of Destructoid. I think it's the dance party bit. When I look back on the creation of show fr...

Review Round-Up: The games of September

Oct 04 // Matthew Razak
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 improvedAnd you are kind of a bitchStill 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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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 holi...

Review Round-Up: The Games of August

Sep 02 // Matthew Razak
  Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox Live Arcade) Harmony of Despair is fun enough and the grinding can become strangely addictive, but this is a shadow of a Castlevania game. The only thing it truly excels at is making one want to play the DS titles again. 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.) Guilty Party (Wii) Despite some sticking points in the mini-game department, its quirky personality and replay value make Guilty Party one of the best multiplayer party games to hit the Wii.  If you regularly play games with your family or friends, Wideload’s “whodunit” shouldn’t be missed. 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.) Hydro Thunder Hurricane (Xbox Live Arcade) It only has a few shortcomings, one of them, being in the over-saturated racing genre, but new comers and veterans alike will enjoy themselves. 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. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC) There is only one thing that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days succeeds at. It makes Kane & Lynch: Dead Men look really, really good. Score: 1.0 -- Epic Fail (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no skill, no depth and no talent. These games have nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.) Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PC) Easily one of the best titles this summer -- digital or otherwise ... I feel comfortable saying that Guardian of Light may be the most fun I’ve had with Miss Croft in 14 years; it’s that good. 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.) Madden NFL 11 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, iOS) This is the best-playing Madden I’ve ever seen, and it’s a big step up from last year ... Dancing on the fine line of making an eminently accessible game that’s still deep enough for the hardcore fanbase is a tightrope-balancing act that often sinks lesser developers. But EA Tiburon has demonstrated that they’re clearly up to the challenge. 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.) Mafia II (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC) Folks who love a decent mafia tale -- one of family ties, betrayal, and revenge -- will want to experience the world of Mafia II. Its competent game mechanics and absorbing narrative are enough to warrant a playthrough. Score (Xbox 360, PC): 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.) Score (PlayStation 3): 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.) Metroid: Other M (Wii) Many fans will be able to look past Other M’s many issues to find a pleasurable adventure, and I’d encourage them to, if only to experience what may be the best-told tale in the Metroid universe ... But to put it bluntly, Other M simply doesn’t meet the high-quality standards fans have come to expect. 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.) Monday Night Combat (Xbox Live Arcade) It's truly a fine little game, but one that requires you to do a little bit of work up front ... ultimately it's a game that looks great, has a lot of heart, and provides a fun, unique, and undeniably addictive multiplayer experience that's well worth the fifteen bucks. 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.) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) At its core, the game is an unsanctioned sequel to River City Ransom ... Scott Pilgrim is a buggy mess. Screen tearing; game freezes; character freezes; unresponsive menus; music drop-outs -- you name it; it's all in there ... I love this 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.) Shank (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network) Shank is yet another in a long line of quality digital download titles, a violent and cathartic end to summer. Its sometimes aggravating difficulty might not be for everyone, but anyone looking to bring back that warm, pit of your stomach feeling of playing Double Dragon for the first time needn’t look any further. 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.) StarCraft II (PC) Simply put, StarCraft II takes everything that was great about the first game, gives it a wonderful new upgrade, and tacks on some extra features that serve as a bonus to an already-solid product. If you are completely unfamiliar with StarCraft, I don't know if there's any hope for you. 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.) Ufouria: The Saga (Wii Virtual Console) I had a lot of fun with the game. Everyone who likes old-fashioned videogame weirdness and 2D exploration will get their money's worth. 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.) Viral Survival (WiiWare) In a nutshell, Viral Survival is Snake with some extra goodies ... pure arcade score attack action. What you put into it is what you get out ... It's challenging, addictive, and just plain ol' dandy. 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.) PORTABLE BlayzBloo: Super Melee Brawlers Battle Royale (DSiWare) The problem is that the content here is generally uninspired. With a better gameplay hook and some more interesting variables, BlayzBloo could have been a contender. 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.) G.G Series Ninja Karakuri Den (DSiWare) Ninja Karakuri Den is too short and suffers from a dearth of content, yet it's enjoyable and cheap enough to just barely, barely, squeak by with a recommendation. 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.) Monster Dash (iPhone) All told, Monster Dash is a great title and well worth the meager asking price. You'll get your money's worth, and with Halfbrick promising to update the game with new monsters and levels, you can't go wrong! Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Shining Force (iPhone) The iPhone's touchscreen is ideal for RPGs ... It's not like Sega did a lot of work to put this out on the iPhone, but that doesn't change the fact that Shining Force was a fantastic game. It still is, and for only $2.99, it's a no-brainer. Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, it is worth your time and cash. Star Wars: The Battle For Hoth (iPhone) Even taking into account some control issues and a lack of strategic depth compared to other games in the genre, Star Wars: The Battle For Hoth succeeds in being both a good tower defense game and a great licensed Star Wars 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.) Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP) Valkyria Chronicles II is one of those so-good-you'll-lose-all-track-of-time games. It's a big, shiny, AAA-class game in a tiny little package, and despite its small size it still does a fair bit of justice to the franchise name. 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.) Ys Seven (PSP) don't expect Ys Seven to blow your mind. It won't. But you may be surprised at just how pleasing it is to play. I couldn't put it down after I got started. 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.) ACCESORIES MLG Legend (Chrome, amber lens) They're doing something cool to your eyesight, though I'm not sure I could tell you what exactly without regurgitating some of the marketing speak that has been thrown our way. There's a marked difference when looking through them, especially if you play a lot of high-action games. Phenom Graphite 3D glasses In the end I think you're paying to not look stupid in the theater in 3D movies. And you're getting comfort as a bonus, as the glasses are nice and light, and have nice nose pieces and padding over the ears. MOVIES Scott Pilgrim vs. The World It may be snarky, but this is still the first true videogame movie. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) BOOKS The Art of Resident Evil 5 The Art of Resident Evil 5 delivers. I can't imagine a more complete and compelling look into the process behind the creation of this monumental blockbuster title. 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.) Street Fighter World Warrior Encyclopedia Other than a typo or two, and the previously mentioned omissions of a few games from the Street Fighter Universe, this book is pretty much perfect. The only other complaint I have is that unlike the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe series that I grew up with, there's no specific mention of how much these Street Fighters can bench press. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Udon's Art of Capcom 2 The new stuff here is amazing, some of my favorite Udon work to date. New fans and old fans of Udon alike would do well to pick it up. And don't go looking for scans from this book on the internet. 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.)
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Sweet crap, is it September already? What the hell happened to all those months between January and now? There are a billion games I still need to play and as it turns out August didn't help my back pile situation any. Plenty...

Review Round-Up: The games of July

Aug 03 // Matthew Razak
APB (PC) APB has a noble idea at its heart, and could have been something truly special. Unfortunately, the game suffers due to a complete lack of... well, anything ... It's as if the developer had this great concept and felt that the premise alone was all it needed, that making a city and a game that used the bare minimum was "good enough" to sustain such a terrific premise. It's not good enough though. 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.) Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii) As it stands, Arc Rise Fantasia still manages to be pretty good. If you can ignore the acting, then what you have is a solid JRPG that remains enjoyable throughout and has enough to satisfy fans of good old fashioned roleplayers. 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.) Alien Swarm (PC) Despite the issues of repetition and somewhat contrary design choices, Alien Swarm is an enjoyable shooter at an absolute steal at a non-price. Even if you grow bored of it in five minutes, that's five minutes of free entertainment. 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.) Blacklight: Tango Down (PC/PSN/XBLA [reviewed]) With no tangible story, no explanation for anything, and no semblance of coherence, Tango Down is the bad multiplayer aspect of a good single player game, only without the single player part. 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.) BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) As a much more balanced game than the already fantastic original, offering plenty of new side content and insane plot options, I would say this is a risk I would recommend anyone to take. A fantastic and fun fighter this is, anyone looking for a distinctly Japanese and over-the-top fighting game will want to check this out. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Crackdown 2 (Xbox 360) So basically, Crackdown 2 is a stolen game in a stolen setting ... Ultimately, this game is a very sub-par offering that has no real reason to exist. Everything that is good about Crackdown 2 is already in the original Crackdown, and many of the problems in Crackdown 2 are unique entirely to this installment. Score: 4.5 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.) DeathSpank (PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade) As a single-player game, though, DeathSpank really shines. The addictive nature of leveling up and looting treasure chests and fallen enemies is here in spades, not to be missed by fans of the genre. 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.) Limbo (Xbox Live Arcade) Limbo is as close to perfect at what it does as a game can get. It's artistic without being pompous, difficult without being cheap, and violent without being gratuitous ... I'm not going to tell you to buy it. I'm going to ask you to buy it. 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.) Naughty Bear (PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) On paper, it sounds great, but unfortunately the halfhearted attempts at comic violence, grinding repetition and inability to do so much as give us more than five maps despite having thirty-five stages, has made this into a bland and boring affair. Score: 5.0 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.) NCAA Football 11 (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2) To achieve its goal of creating the most realistic college football experience to date, EA has made a few changes to the old NCAA Football formula ... There’s still room for improvement, but for the first time in I can recall, I actually feel like I’m playing a college football game and not just Madden: NCAA Edition. If you like college football, definitely pick this one up, because EA’s scored a touchdown with this year’s installment. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Sin & Punishment: Star Successor (Wii) As it stands, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is the only game of its kind in town (that I know of, anyway), and for fans of the genre, that's reason enough to stand up and take notice ... It's an amazing game, one that I see myself playing for years to come. 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.) Singularity (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) There are a few problems ... throughout the game, but they do little to take away from what is otherwise and overwhelmingly enjoyable experience that should take you about six or so hours to get through ... If you want a great Summer shooter full of violent toys and silly super powers, then you won't get much better than this. Quite possibly the best new FPS of the year so far. 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.) Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Wii, iPhone) Like Tiger before the scandal, the PGA Tour series is a paradigm of consistency. Year in and year out, EA Tiburon delivers reliably solid, if unremarkable, golf games. This year is no different. 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.) Toribash (WiiWare) I really like Toribash, but given that it's a downgraded port of a free game, I'm not sure how to score it. It's a really interesting experience no matter what platform you play it on, but there is no denying that it sucks to pay $10 for game that is arguably better and free of charge on Mac/PC. 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.) Tournament of Legends (Wii) Tournament of Legends reminds me of (the old days) ... Strangely, I don't mean that as a bad thing in the least ... It's no Eternal Champions, but it's easy to get into and provides just the right amount of innocent, unpretentious fun. For under thirty bucks, that ain't too bad! 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.) Toy Story 3: The Video Game (Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) So, yeah, the game is kind of amazing ... Toy Story 3: The Video Game has enough sophisticated design and true challenge that even hardcore gamers (and hardcore Pixar fans) like myself can find stuff to love. The Toy Box alone makes it worth checking out. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) PORTABLE Archetype (iPhone) What could have been (and looked to be) an action-packed, AAA iPhone shooter is, unfortunately, a gloomy and dreary affair, as mediocre as the most vanilla console FPS and about ten times less convenient to play. Score: 5.0 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.) Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night (iPhone) Unless you’re sporting petite elvish Orlando Bloom-like fingers, you will encounter a healthy heaping of frustration when you can’t get a crucial block to drop how you need it to ... Without the issues surrounding the use of screen space and controls, Castlevania Puzzle would have been a phenomenal title. 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.) Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) It's simply the best DS game of the year and one of the finest RPG experiences you could hope to own.  Only the most jaded of gamers could play this game and not smile. 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.) Master of Alchemy (iPad) Just like science class, Master of Alchemy is not easy. But it is quite a bit more rewarding, especially in the later stages, where you'll find yourself frantically swishing your fingers across the iPad screen, trying to figure out what goes where. Score: 8.5 -- (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Persona 3 Portable (PSP) We loved it before and we still love it. This title would have sit very high on our recommendation list just as a straight PS2-to-PSP port, but the new additions make it appealing to both the new gamer and the seasoned Persona fan.  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.) Predators (iPhone) If you like the Predator franchise, then this is recommended. If you've never been a fan, this certainly won't change your mind. 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.) Puzzle Quest 2 (Nintendo DS, Xbox LIVE Arcade) Never underestimate the compulsion to find and match gems ... Puzzle Quest 2 is as fun as the original, and offers enough new content for old hands that they should want to revisit the series. Fair warning, though -- while killing that rat swarm is of the utmost importance, remember: you have people who love you and don’t forget to bathe. 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.) The Red Star (iPhone) With no story to speak of, a shoehorned console experience, and a sizable price tag for the App Store, I am forced to assume that the end-goal of this communist propaganda is simply redistribution of wealth. As much as I wanted to rave about this one, I must begrudgingly admit that those who love freedom would probably be better served hunting down a copy of the PS2 version or downloading it for PSP. 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.) Soul of Darkness (DSiWare) In all honesty, Soul of Darkness is a decent game that adequately captures the gothic spirit of the Castlevania  franchise. Unfortunately, its failure to expand upon promising game mechanics, its criminally short playtime, the absence of any real challenge, and the lack of compelling replay value make it hard to recommend. 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.)   ACCESORIES Sumo Gigantor Giant Bean Bag It's really a question of whether or not you want to add some flavor to your quarters. Just like an entertainment object in The Sims, adding a Gigantor adds +9 fun to any room its in. Your guests will immediately want to check it out, as you simply cannot beat how inviting this to a curious posterior. THINGS I'M HAVING TROUBLE CATERGORIZING PlayOn PlayOn is quite impressive. I really like the no-hassle installation and background running features. Once your computer is on, all you really need to do is turn on your game system to get video going. Yes, some of the systems have dedicated services for specific streaming outlets, but this is everything, all in one place. THE ONLY REVIEW TRULY UNBIASED ENOUGH TO BE AN ACTUAL REVIEW. ALL THE STUFF ABOVE IS JUST CRAP WITH PEOPLE'S OPINION IN IT. FUCK THAT. Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [reviewed]) In conclusion, Final Fantasy XIII is a videogame.   Score: N/A (Since a reviewer would use his judgment to give a game a score, a score cannot be given at this time.)
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While copy-and-pasting this together I attempted to figure out what the "theme" of this month was so I could write about it up here. But July just sort of was. There were good games and bad games. There were definitely some s...

Review Round-Up: The games of June

Jul 02 // Matthew Razak
Backbreaker (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Sadly, those kinds of beautiful demonstrations of the laws of physics are one of the only redeeming qualities of Backbreaker, a frustrating mess of poor design decisions and awful AI ... For all its lifelike hits, Backbreaker simply isn’t fun to play. 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.) Green Day: Rock Band (PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360) Bottom line here is what you'd expect -- Green Day: Rock Band is a must-have for fans of the band and Rock Band.   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.) [Note: Add 2 points if you've ripped a picture of Billie Joe out of SPIN magazine to put up in your locker; remove 7.5 points if you absolutely despise Green Day.] Joe Danger (PSN) Joe Danger is pretty much nothing but balls out fun ... It offers up gameplay for almost any gamer out there, no matter what genre of gaming you like. That might be a bit of hyperbole, but what isn't is that from the very basis of its control scheme and design the game screams that it doesn't want to get in the way of you having fun and it succeeds wonderfully at it. 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.) RISK: Factions (Xbox LIVE Arcade) Much to my delight, Stainless didn't do just a one-to-one translation of the board game to your television. Clearly a lot of time was put into making sure Factions not only overflowed with personality, but was also able to capture the interest of new players. 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.) Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (PlayStation 2, Wii) Your enjoyment of Sakura Wars depends almost entirely on your ability to tolerate anime fluff ... Sakura Wars is a game apart. It is a niche game within a niche genre, and is quite proud of it. The open-minded and unafraid will find a cheerful experience that is happily free of more contemporary obsessions with maturity and grit, content to be silly, fluffy, quirky and madly "anime". 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.) Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse episode 32: They Stole Max's Brain! (PC [reviewed], Mac, PSN, iPad) The episode has all the hallmarks of a mid-season slump. The game always feels like it's holding itself back, saving the really novel stuff for subsequent episodes. Surprising introductory puzzle aside, it does nothing to innovate and barely feels like its moving the plot along. 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.) Transformers: Cybertron Adventures (Wii) Overall, it's a very solid game, although it can get quite repetitive ... Ultimately though, Cybertron Adventures is surprisingly good. It's definitely not as great in the gameplay department as War for Cybertron, with a lot less to do and a far more restricted format, but its superior narrative and decent arcade action is at least enough to make it worth picking up on its own. 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.) Transformers: War for Cybertron (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC, Wii, DS) Transformers: War for Cybertron is a rousing step forward for the franchise as it pertains to videogames. A thoughtfully crafted story mode, an intense multiplayer mode, online co-op and a full on horde addition makes this the most robust, lovingly developed and authentic Transformers experience you could hope to get on a home console. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) PORTABLE Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies II (iPhone) The best that can be said of Zombies II is that it's not bad, but it's not particularly good either. It's alright, and for its comparitively high asking price, alright doesn't quite cut it. 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.) Guitar Hero (iPhone) Guitar Hero is quite possibly the best music game of this nature on the iPhone. With a nice variety of starter songs, a solid interface, and a great aesthetic, not to mention extra challenges and avatar customization, Guitar Hero for the iPhone is a great little music game, and worthy of your attention. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Mega Man Zero Collection (DS) Like the Metroid Prime Trilogy and the God of War Collection, getting this many good games for this price is an unquestionable value. The Mega Man Zero Collection offers more hours of quality 2D action/adventure per dollar than any other game on the DS. 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.) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PlayStation Portable) It's not quite a show-stopper like Metal Gear Solid 4, or the total package like Metal Gear Solid 3, but in many ways, it's the most progressive game in the Metal Gear Solid series since the original. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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Wooooo. What a busy, busy month for reviews. We had so many reviews that you could barely keep a hold of yourself, I'm sure. Reviews coming out of our ass at rates unseen by a review sh*tting ass before. Reviews from all di...

Review Round-Up: The games of May

Jun 03 // Matthew Razak
Alan Wake (Xbox 360) [embed]175209:30274[/embed] 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) [embed]175209:30282[/embed] 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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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 mon...

Review Round-Up: The games of April

May 04 // Matthew Razak
3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3) As it stands, this homage/plagiarism to/of The Legend of Zelda is an enjoyable little adventure that will give PS3 owners the retro fix they need. Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, 3D Dot Game Heroes may have benefited more from being half the length and coming out as a digital title.   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.) 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, PlayStation Portable, iPhone) EA Canada’s FIFA foundation is rock solid, so it’s hard to imagine a world where World Cup could ever be bad; whether or not it’s worth $60 is between you, God, and Daniel Agger who, let me remind you, was recently kicked in the face. 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.) Again (Nintendo DS) Part tiresome graphic novel, part tiresome guessing game.   Score: 5.0 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.) Chaos Rings (iPhone) At $12.99, it's more than worth the cost of downloading, and if you love JRPGs, you really do need to check it out. Simple as that.   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.) Dead or Alive Paradise (PSP) Fap... No.   Score: 1.0 -- Epic Fail (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no skill, no depth and no talent. These games have nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.) Final Fight: Double Impact (PlayStation Network [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) There are no quality concerns I have over the gameplay whatsoever ... Final Fight: Double Impact is an excellent package combining two great arcade classics. 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.) Fruit Ninja (iPhone) If you don't mind shallow portable gaming, however, Fruit Ninja is a recommended purchase. It's cheap, it's undemanding, and it's perfectly suited to the platform it's on. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Max and the Magic Marker (Wii [reviewed], PC] I can only say that the majority of this game does not live up to all it can be ... What can be said about Max and the Magic Marker is that there is potential there, but potential doesn’t make for a game that anyone older than 8 would be very interested in. 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.) Mega Man 10 (WiiWare [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Overall, Mega Man 10 doesn't have as many high-water moments as Mega Man 9, but it is still consistently fun, while providing more overall content than the Mega Man games that preceded it ... The truly amazing moments are fewer and farther between this time around, but this is still a great game. 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.) Resonance of Fate (PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360 Ultimately, Resonance of Fate stands as a great option for JRPG fans who feel like games have been getting a little bit too streamlined ... About the only desire it does not quite satisfy is the one for a heavy, involved plot. 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.) The Scourge Project: Episode 1 & 2 (PC) Isn't it horrible when a game lives up to your low expectations and doesn't provide the pleasant curveball you were secretly hoping for? Score: 2.5 -- 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.) Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (iPhone) At best, it's an alright game, but everything good about it was good in 1992. The iPhone itself has added nothing, and you could get five better games on iTunes for the cost of one mediocre Genesis port. 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.) Splinter Cell: Conviction (PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) [embed]172757:29564[/embed] Overall, the gameplay is consistently terrific ... By the time Conviction finishes, only the most demanding player won't feel like they've been on a rather awesome ride ... I sincerely hope that this latest installment represents the future of the franchise.  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 Street Fighter IV (PlayStation 3 , Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Buy this game.   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.) Trauma Team (Wii) ...the Wii control scheme on all of these fields is fantastic, leaving the only stress to come from operating room pressure. But what really makes this game is the television-style drama that you'll uncover in the episodes from these six characters. 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.) WarioWare D.I.Y. (DS) ...the pros far outweigh the cons in this game. Making your own WarioWare game is even more fun than it looks ... There is a strange sort of "living the dream" joy in creating your own, potentially superior game, and sandwiching it in between the games of these great developers. 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.) What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 (PlayStation Network [reviewed], UMD) Would I have liked to see even more new content? Oh, absolutely. The price is right, though. The game is a great value for those who aren't acquainted with the series. And for returning players, the mutations, tweaks, and other additions make My Lord 2 worth getting. 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.)   DLC Gratuitous Space Battles Expansion Packs: The Order and The Tribe (PC) ...overall, both packs provide everything you might want from this sort of game - a diverse selection of ships and weapons with which to set up epic - nay, gratuitous - space battles. 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.) Mega Man 10: Bass Mode DLC (WiiWare [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network) Just like with the rest of Mega Man 10, I think Mega Man fans will be satisfied with Bass mode, but it will help if they set their expectations to "low." Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid efforts 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.)
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As far as releases go April seems to be the month where 2010 finally starts to slow down a little. While we had some big releases like Super Street Fighter IV and Splinter Cell: Conviction the month was pretty much lacking in...

Reviews Round-up: The games of March

Apr 05 // Matthew Razak
GAMES Age of Zombies (PSP) If you've still got room in your belly for another zombie shooter, then this is most definitely for you. It's simple, it's fun and it's very silly.    Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC) As hyperbolic as this may sound, Bad Company 2 provides some of the best team-based multiplayer around. It's an utter shame that the single-player is only decent at best (even that is being generous) -- otherwise, we'd have a real winner on our hands ... If you are interested, even slightly, absolutely buy this game. 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.) Calling (Wii) The game is mind-numbing in how repetitive and murky and simply uninteresting it is ... A miserable little game that does nothing for anybody.   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.) Cave Story (WiiWare) ...Cave Story on WiiWare is a godsend. The new modes, graphics, and sound, plus the ability to play with a NES-style controller on an HDTV, makes the experience feel totally deluxe. If the original Cave Story was a like VHS rough-cut bootleg, this WiiWare port is the special edition DVD -- an indispensable purchase for any fans of the genre. 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.) Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight (PC) Overall, the game is a complete exercise in frustration ... As it stands, it's a waste of time, far too frustrating, and absolutely not worth $49.99.   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.) Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360, PS3 [Reviewed]) It's the worst main chapter in the Final Fantasy series to date, and if this is the future of the franchise, that future is incredibly bleak indeed.   Score: 4.0 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.) Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii) Is Fragile Dreams worth playing? Absolutely, if you have the sheer willpower and patience to see it through. There is truly nothing quite like this game, on the Wii or anywhere else. However, the game makes so many unfair demands of the player and requires so much forgiveness that most won't want to stick with it. 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.) God of War III (PlayStation 3) [embed]169929:28783[/embed] ...it's a game that redefines scale in action games, one of the few titles that truly hammers home the meaning of "last-gen." God of War III is like nothing you've ever seen or experienced in gaming. The end has begun, and you are not ready. 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.) Mega Man 10 (WiiWare [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Overall, Mega Man 10 doesn't have as many high-water moments as Mega Man 9, but it is still consistently fun, while providing more overall content than the Mega Man games that preceded it. Though they may be disappointed with some of the music and levels, fans of Mega Man can't afford to miss Mega Man 10. 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.) MLB 10 The Show (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2) While MLB 10 The Show remains the best baseball videogame money can buy, it’s no longer light-years ahead of 2K Sports’ effort. Is it better than MLB 09? Definitely, but not by a wide margin. 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.) Patchwork Heroes (PlayStation Portable) This game is clearly a product lovingly crafted for Japan ... Patchwork Heroes is a must-download. The price is oh so right, the presentation is simply marvelous, and the mechanics are interesting and, more importantly, loads of fun. There's not much else like the game out there; it'd be a mistake to pass on something this original and offbeat. 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.) Pokemon HeartGold & Pokemon SoulSilver (Nintendo DS) Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold make a fine addition to the Pokémon franchise and are a must-have for fans of the series ... If you're a hardcore Pokémon fan and you don't own this, you may very well be asked to turn in your badge. 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.) Red Steel 2 (Wii) Despite its flaws, Red Steel 2 is one of the best Wii games on the market. More importantly, however, it stands as proof that first person games can work on the Wii, and work really, really well. The game is more than a waggle gimmick. 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.) Risen (Xbox 360) Risen's not that good, crushed under the weight of its own scope. Taken individually, Risen's mechanics range from mildly offensive to brilliant; taken together, they're an amalgam of poorly executed and often conflicting ideas, each of which draw out the worst of the others. 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.) Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS) Whether this is a game for yourself or for a younger gamer, this offers enough pick-up and playability to be a good, fun and exciting all-round entertainer.   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.) Toy Soldiers (Xbox Live Arcade) Well worth checking out and could easily provide a day's distraction at the very least, with potential to become addictive for those who just love watching plastic army men burn. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)   DLC  Heavy Rain Chronicles, Chapter 1: “The Taxidermist” (PlayStation Network) I felt much the same way about “The Taxidermist” as I did about Heavy Rain as a whole -- the story doesn’t always make sense, but it’s worth playing anyway for the sheer excitement of it all. 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.)   HARDWARE Nintendo DSi XL On its own and with over a year to go before Nintendo launches the 3DS, the DSi XL is the choice handheld on the market right now. It's solid hardware backed by an already solid and ever-growing library of titles.   NOT-REVIEW Metro 2033 (PC, Xbox 360 reviewed) Seriously, what the fuck was I supposed to do?    
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Damn. I am not a game release historian, but I bet there hasn't been a March full of this many quality games in a long, long time. I'm sure someone will take the time to go back and check every March since the dawn of gaming,...

Review Recap: February 2010

Mar 04 // Matthew Razak
Alien vs. Predator (PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC [reviewed]) Fans of the franchise should definitely check it out, but as the game exists right now, it's not worth all your cash. 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.) BioShock 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) BioShock 2's single-player campaign trades in some narrative quality for superior gameplay, and it's a fair trade indeed ... Perhaps the worst that can be said of BioShock 2 is that it lacks the "wow" factor of the original. Overall Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Chime (XBLA) When a game comes along that is this visually, audibly, and mentally pleasing, it's not something to ignore. 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.) Dante's Inferno [PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360 (reviewed)] ...you're going to get the best Dante's Inferno experience when you let go. Let go of the comparisons. Let go of your contempt for what it may or may not do for and to the source material. Just let go and have 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.) Deadly Premontion (Xbox 360) So says Mr. Stewart! 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.) Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (Xbox 360, PS3 [reviewed]) A truly great game, let down only by the fact that the PSP version existed for long enough to steal some of its thunder. 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.) Endless Ocean: Blue World (Wii) The game is harmless, pleasant, relaxing, and just makes you feel really good inside. And compared to the first game, that is a marked improvement ... Also, dolphins! (OMG!) Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Galcon Fusion (PC/Mac/Linux) All in all, Galcon is a tremendously easy game to recommend to anyone with access to an iPhone or iPod touch; Galcon Fusion is slightly harder to vouch for. Score: 5.0 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.) Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3) Heavy Rain is an experiment that both succeeded and failed, when it could easily have been a total success if the brains behind it weren't trying so hard to be smart, and cared more about providing a sensible plot as opposed to a shocking one. 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.) Hustle Kings (PSN) With its robust online options and excellent physics, Hustle Kings is excellent if occasionally frustrating fun. 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.) Last Rebellion (PS3) Last Rebellion is underproduced, underdeveloped, unrefined, unpolished, and ultimately forgettable. Score: 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.) The Magic Obelisk (WiiWare) The Magic Obelisk has so many things going for it. It has really unique light-based puzzle game play, super cute graphics and characters, and a fantastic price tag. 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.) The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (XBLA) The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is like a good pie, the kind mothers used to make. 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.) Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) As far as Nintendo DS role-playing games go, this is my new favorite, hands down. But then again, I'm a huge fan of both dungeon crawling and Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei series games ... You've got to know what you're getting into. If you do, Strange Journey is highly recommended. 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.) Shiren the Wanderer (Wii) Yeah, BITCH! Where you at? Hmm, this game is kinda fun. 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.) White Knight Chronicles (International Edition) (PS3) Short? Yeah. Rough around the edges? Sure. But it's not a bad game. 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.)
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(Review Recap is a monthly feature that recaps all of Destructoid's reviews for a month. It's meant to be a way to give you quick access to our opinions on all the latest games.) So... we reviewed some games last month. While...

Review recap: January 2010

Feb 12 // Matthew Razak
Army of Two: The 40th Day (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Army of Two: The 40th Day is a good, but entirely forgettable experience. It's worth a quick play if you've got nothing else to do, and a weekend rental would serve you very well. However, it's definitely not something you'll want to keep on your gaming shelf for very long. 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.) Bayonetta (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Ultimately, Bayonetta is a great game that fans of hardcore Japanese action games should be incredibly satisfied with ... However, the pace-killing minigames and the frustrating nature of the chaotic combat hold it back from being a truly superb title. Definitely recommended playing for all fans of the genre, despite the few flaws keeping it down. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare) It’s a great game (superb, even) and is sure to satisfy any and all people who like this sort of thing. It also makes for a great $10 jump-off point for people who have never played a Castlevania game before. 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.) Dark Void (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Dark Void is not a good game. Dreary and annoying in equal parts, this is a game best left avoided. 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.) Darksiders (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Darksiders is one of the best action-adventure games of the current generation. Everything in it, you've played before, but never has such a collection of game mechanics been stitched together so well, not to mention feel like part of a coherent game world. 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.) MAG (PS3) Massive Action Game delivers on the promise of its name. It's certainly massive, and there is more than enough action to go around ... Most importantly, however, is the fact that MAG's concept works. It works very well, in fact. What more could you want? Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Mass Effect 2 (PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The fluid systems -- the navigation, the combat, and the quick-fire missions -- combine to make Mass Effect 2 an RPG that challenges the genre conventions. The superb emphasis on character development, the gripping plot elements and big-budget presentation aren't too bad either. 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.) Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond [PSN, XBLA (reviewed)] The game brings nothing new to the table except more of the fourth-wall-breaking humor that Eat Lead managed so well. That it happens to be packaged in a fun, well-designed and challenging shooter is a nice touch that exceeded my expectations. 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.) No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii) It's extremely well crafted from beginning to end, and rarely (if ever) sacrifices fun for delivering a message. No More Heroes 2 still makes me laugh, scream, think, and violently wank, even more so after the first play-through. That's more than I can say for almost any game this generation. 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.) Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter (XBLA, PC [reviewed]) Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a great purchase for both fans of the series and newcomers. Those who have grown up on modern shooters may find the primitive design and simplistic objectives a bit jarring, but the purity of the gameplay simply has to be respected. Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.) Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (Wii) The game pleasantly surprised me with a smart (but difficult to master) control scheme, combat that was fun, engaging and difficult, and some great visuals ... Even for someone who's not really into flight sims, this game is a fun play. 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.) Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii) On the whole, though, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is a better game than its Japanese counterpart, with more characters, improved balance, and online play ... It's the most interesting and exciting fighting game to hit the market in 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.) VVVVVV (PC) I can't say enough good things about VVVVVV. It's Terry Cavanagh's best game to date, and one of the best platformers I've ever played. 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.) That's all they wrote, folks. Hope you enjoyed this walk down recent memory lane. Come back next month and we'll do it again.
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