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The Play it/Avoid it Report - 002 // Wind Waker HD, GTA V and more

Hello, Destructoid. Believe it or not, The Play it/Avoid it Report is back after an extended hiatus. I'm going to skip my traditional intro and dive right in. Let's do this.


>> On paper, Dishonored may not seem like an entirely new concept. †Itís a revenge tale about a bodyguard-turned-assassin (yep) who must rescue a kidnapped princess (sounds familiar) while taking down a cast of evil tyrants (been there) by sneaking across rooftops (uh huh) and stabbing them in the neck (totally saw that coming). †What sets it apart and gives it a unique charm, however, is the decaying city of Dunwall. †Its streets are wrought with plague infested rats, an oppressive police force and scheming gangsters lurking in the shadows. †Hidden safely behind walls of light (bug zappers for poor people) lie the wealthiest of Dunwallís inhabitants. †Rich off of whale oil and drunk with corruption, these socialites get dressed up and throw extravagant parties in their mansions to keep their minds off the horrors that exist outside. †As for the middle class, well, there is no middle class.

Though not technically an open world game, Dishonored does set you loose in large, interesting environments where youíre free to explore and traverse as you see fit. †Ledges, rooftops, balconies, windows, ducts and poorly lit corners are everywhere, and a teleportation ability you acquire early in the game (called Blink) gives you the power to jump between safe points without being detected. †For someone who enjoys sneaking, itís an empowering feeling. †Youíll never be stuck searching for a ladder again. †If youíre not so sneaky, youíve got plenty of more violent options too. †On top of a some fairly standard weapons and gadgets, you can summon a bunch of bloodthirsty rats, blast people off ledges with wind and even freeze time so you can carefully line up the perfect headshot. †Youíre basically a god.

The first handful of missions in Dishonored are a treat. †Youíre often informed of a terrible person and then dropped off in their backyard with nothing more than a waypoint and your equipment. †Whether you choose to kill them or find a much more devious way of removing them from power is up to you. †Though it is tempting to sink your knife blade into their eye the moment you see them, the non-lethal options are immensely satisfying and often far worse a fate than simply dying. †Unfortunately, the story (and subsequent gameplay) takes an uninspired turn and the game ends with kind of a fart. †That being said, I enjoyed this game enough to play it to completion twice (back to back) which, for me, is very rare.

PLAY IT if you love games that encourage experimentation and respect you enough to let you make mistakes.

AVOID IT if hearing the screams of someone being eaten alive by a pack of diseased rats might possibly haunt your dreams for all eternity.


>> This sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns brings back the Kong family to battle a horde of vikings who have used a magical ice dragon to freeze Donkey Kong Island and steal all their bananas, I think. I have no idea why a bunch of owls, walruses and penguins are interested in large amounts of fruit but, like any Nintendo platformer, the story doesnít matter. What does matter is that Tropical Freeze takes everything that was great about its predecessor (imaginative level design, interesting enemies and satisfying platforming) and kicks it up a notch. With no more motion controls to sour the experience, and no GamePad functionality shoehorned in, Tropical Freeze is pure, unadulterated platforming bliss.

This time around, Dixie and Cranky join the cast of playable characters and each have their own unique abilities. Dixie retains her floating ability from Donkey Kong Country 2, while Cranky can bounce on his cane (ŗ la Duck Tales) to negate spike damage. Though their assistance is never necessary for completing a level, it does effectively double DKís health and make certain challenges and secret areas much easier to reach. Swimming is also brought back, but vastly improved. DK and his buds glide through the water with a grace that would have been impossible to express on the SNES hardware. Itís little details like the way DK naturally twists through the water that make this game truly stunning to see in motion. And the music...oh god, the music. David Wise has completely outdone himself once again.

Speaking of details, Tropical Freeze is bursting with them. From the burning fields of an African savanna to a bustling juice factory full of dangerous machinery, each and every level feels totally fresh and exciting. And new concepts are thrown at the player constantly. In one stage, I went on a crazy minecart ride through a lumber mill which became a log flume mid-way through, then seamlessly transitioned back to rails. Another had me riding Rambi through an active tornado while avoiding lighting strikes and flying debris. On top of that, I found the boss fights to actually be challenging, which surprised me. I couldnít stop playing this until I had collected every single ďKONGĒ letter and puzzle piece, and now that Iíve unlocked Hard Mode, I canít wait to jump back in.

PLAY IT if you consider yourself a fan of difficult 2D platformers -- it literally doesnít get any better than this.

AVOID IT if it bothers you that the only non-pantless member of the DK family wears denim cutoffs.


>> I can already tell this is going to be more negative than positive, but stick with me. Grand Theft Auto is a hugely popular franchise, made by a company who has a ridiculous amount of talent. In the eyes of most gamers, they can do no wrong. After all, what other game lets you steal cool cars, do drugs, bang hookers, run people over, rob banks, skydive, get tattoos, punch everyone, play a round of golf, get drunk, cross-dress and play the stock market? With such a giant world and so many things to do, whatís not to love? Well, for starters, itís pretty boring.

GTA V tries something new by letting you play three different protagonists. There's a crazy one, a cool one and a depressed one. They each have a different special ability and have their own story arcs, but to be honest, the story is uneventful, packed with pointless filler missions and ends on a real low note. A huge disappointment when compared to Red Dead Redemption or even Max Payne 3. The most touted feature -- switching between characters mid-mission -- is not only used sparingly (only a handful involve all three characters working together) but implemented in a way that doesn't allow you to experiment at all. Every mission feels very scripted, and if you don't switch to the right character at the right time, you'll typically fail and have to start over from the last checkpoint. In typical GTA fashion, most (if not all) of the supporting characters are horrible stereotypes or wacky parodies. Maybe I'm just getting older but they're not nearly as funny as they think they are and it's all starting to feel really stale. Like I said, they can do better.

My gripes with the campaign aside, there is fun to be had. The driving feels really tight and satisfying. The world itself is incredibly large, gorgeous and feels very real. There are distinct locales and enough square footage to really keep you entertained for a long time. One feature I really appreciate is the ability to actually hide from the police. Once you break their line of sight, you can hide in bushes or in alleys until your wanted level fades (which takes a weirdly long time). I tried the multiplayer once but was immediately kicked from the game. After all the negative things I read about lost character saves and questionable pricing of online items, I never bothered going back to it. Although the gun play is an improvement over the previous versions of the game, it still lags far, far behind other games in the genre. Say it with me now: They can do better.

PLAY IT if you'll kill or steal anything a game tells you to as long as they slap a waypoint on the mini map, put a gun in your hand and promise you a monetary award.

AVOID IT if you're tired of playing better-looking versions of creatively bankrupt game franchises.


>> Iíve made my feelings of the original Wind Waker no secret; itís a brilliant game. Not only is it undoubtedly my favorite Zelda, but one of my favorite games of all time. So it should come as no surprise that when Nintendo announced it was getting an HD remake for the Wii U, I jumped for joy. I already knew the game would look absolutely stunning in HD, but the fact that Nintendo was going the extra step to fix some of the gameís faults made me even more excited. The end result doesnít feel like a re-release of a decade old game; itís a polished, tighter version of a near-perfect game that serves as a love letter to fans of the original, as well as a great entry point for those who never got the chance to play it the first time around.

The graphics in Wind Waker have aged incredibly well. The unique cel shaded look and Pixar-like animations translated beautifully to HD. Words like ďsharpĒ and ďcrispĒ donít do it justice at all; it looks alive. Fabric flaps in the wind, colors burst off the screen and the improved lighting engine made my heart swell. But there are many other improvements beyond the cosmetic overhaul. MiiVerse (the social aspect of the Wii U) is integrated into the game in the form of Tingle Bottles. While traversing the oceanic world, youíll come across these glowing green bottles drifting in the water and washed up on shores which contain messages from others players. These can be anything from written requests for assistance with puzzles to humorous selfies of Link in interesting situations. Their inclusion breaks up the seclusion of this single player game, and gives veterans an opportunity to help struggling players. I loved it.

The world in Wind Waker is quite large, but since most of that area is covered in water, sailing is your primary means of transportation. Personally, I loved feeling the mix of curiosity and anticipation when I saw uncharted islands appear on the horizon, but a lot of players complained that the sailing became tedious over extended periods of time. Thankfully, Nintendo addressed this issue by introducing the Swift Sail, an item that doubles the boat's speed as well as removes the need to play a repetitive song to change the direction of the wind. Itís an intuitive solution to one of the gameís only nagging problems. Well done, Nintendo.

PLAY IT if you cherish games that truly capture the feeling of exploration and discovery.

AVOID IT if you prefer the type of sailing that involves excessive amounts of pillaging, questionable prosthetics and scurvey-induced diarrhea.


>> Games like Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac have already shown me how much roguelike elements can breath new life into well-worn concepts, so when I heard the name Rogue Legacy, I knew I was in for a treat. In spirit, Rogue Legacy is like Castlevania. Players choose from a pool of playable characters with different classes, spells and genetic quirks, and must traverse a dungeon full of evil knights, wizards and undead horrors in their quest for glory. Not only is the dungeon layout completely different every time you embark on a new quest, but things like items and enemies are randomized as well, meaning you never quite know what will be behind the next door. Itís an exciting but sometimes brutal experience that encourages experimentation and vigilance.

Death is very common in Rogue Legacy, especially when youíre first starting out, but the upgrade system in the game ensures that no run is a total loss. Any gold you collect is passed down to your next of kin and can be used to purchase skill upgrades (which affect all future characters), better classes, and even new equipment. Slowly but surely, youíll increase your players health, magic and attack power, which increases your chance of survival, which lets you collect more gold, which of course allows you to purchase more upgrades. Itís a pretty satisfying gameplay loop that cuts down on a lot of the frustrations of permadeath, but itís not without some problems of itís own. These become less of an issue the longer you play, but early on it can feel like youíre taking baby steps towards an unreachable goal.

There were a few other niggling issues that became increasingly more annoying the longer I played. Being forced to re-equip every single new character with armor and runes to suit their class before each run was a chore. I would have loved the option to save a loadout for each class. I also think they could have added more game-changing genetic quirks to the mix. Baldness and IBS are funny to see the first time around, but since they donít have any real affect on gameplay, they quickly become uninteresting. And since thereís a fairly small pool of quirks to begin with, they show up pretty frequently. Iím having a lot of fun with Rogue Legacy (currently playing NG++++++++) but I think Iím more excited about how much further they could take this concept with a sequel.

PLAY IT if youíre looking for something to satisfy your hunger for roguelikes while you wait for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth to drop and make all your dreams come true.

AVOID IT if you donít have the patience for games that force you to fail repeatedly before they get ďfunĒ.


Thanks for reading, guys. I wish I had the patience to write a better outro but struggling with the Dtoid blog editor has nearly ruined my weekend. See ya next time!
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About Phoustone of us since 2:05 AM on 02.11.2010

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My name is Eric. I'm 34.
Here are some random things I'm into:

The Buy it/Avoid it Report - back issues
#001 - Ilomilo, Uncharted 2, Infinity Blade, Pac-Man CE DX, Battlefield BC2: Vietnam, PixelJunk Shooter
#002 - Batman: Brave & Bold, DJ Hero 2, Dead Space 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Bulletstorm
#003 - Pokemon Black/White, PixelJunk Shooter 2, Monster Tale, God of War III, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Torchlight
#004 - Portal 2, Steel Diver, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, Pilotwings Resort, Crysis 2, Blocks That Matter
#005 - L.A. Noire, Alice Madness Returns, Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D, Shadows of the Damned
#006 - GoldenEye 007, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, AC: Brotherhood, Sword & Sworcery EP, Trenched
#007 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Jetpack Joyride, Gears of War 3, The Binding of Isaac, Renegade Ops
#008 - Dark Souls, League of Evil, Uncharted 3, Batman: Arkham City, Super Mario 3D Land
#009 - The Buy it/Avoid it Report's Awards - 2011
#010 - Spelunky, Max Payne 3, Trials Evolution, Mario Kart 7, Escape Goat
#011 - Super Hexagon, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Mark of the Ninja

The Play it/Avoid it Report - back issues
#001 - Bioshock Infinite, Darksiders II, Dead Space 3, Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider
#002 - Dishonored, DKC: Tropical Freeze, Grand Theft Auto V, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Rogue Legacy
#003 - The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Mario Kart 8, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Sunset Overdrive

Secret Moon Base - episodes
Subscribe on iTunes - a podcast about video games and other stuff with my pals knutaf and Occam

Spelunky HD - blogs
Mega Guide - part one
Mega Guide - part two

The Binding of Isaac - blogs
Blood, Shit and Tears - a love letter
Instruction Manual - w/ tips and tricks for beginners
Unlocking Godhead - tips for playing as The Lost

Social Network(s) - ugh
Twitter - @corduroyturtle
Xbox LIVE:Corduroy Turtle
PSN ID:Corduroy_Turtle
Steam ID:17wizards
3DS Code:4639-8962-6190


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