Archive for Reviews

Capsule Reviews – 2018 Part One

2018 is over blah blah everyone’s getting older and who gives a crap. Talk about games already.

Have not done one of these posts for some time – Q3 2010 in fact. We could probably pick up there and keep going, but why not attack 2018 first? To rejig your memories, Green means play it, Red means don’t. No sissy orange scores or fence sitting here.

In this one, we’ll cover things that came out this year that I played.

Subnautica
Farcical aquaitic ceremony Survival game where one is stuck on a planet that’s pretty much entirely water. Standard survival game stuff with limited resources early on, but the environment is what sells it for me. I’ve heard it becomes a bit of a wallbanger with whatever “progressive” message it’s trying to deliver later on, but I haven’t encountered anything thus far.

Shadow of the Colossus
Fantastic game but arguably unnecessary remake. At least they did a pretty good job – 60fps (mostly) in the performance mode on a PS4 Pro makes it nearly a different game. Also fun hearing the bleating of nitwits who played the ludicrously easy NTSC-U PS2 version whinge about the grip mechanics again.

Dynasty Warriors 9
I like Dynasty Warriors. I even like Dynasty Warriors 9. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else play it without knowing what they’re getting into. It’s an attempt at heavily changing up the Dynasty Warriors formula by making it open world. It tends not to work out much for Omega Force when they do that, see Dynasty Warriors 6. But hey, those other games still exist so no need to be a bitch about it.

Metal Gear Survive
Personally like this one, but wouldn’t recommend you play it without knowing what you’re getting into. Ignore the bitchy babies who can’t accept the fact Kojima isn’t involved and dismiss the fact that Metal Gear is in the title. Still plays like Metal Gear Solid V, just with some bloody annoying busy work which steadily becomes routine.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Remastered
Do you like Assassin’s Creed, but think the Assassins are a bunch of punk bitches that needed their throats slit? This one’s for you. Plays a lot like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which while arguably the best one does turn into a bit of a grind, so don’t play it without like 2 years of playing that. Standard Ubisoft collect-a-thon, but you get to be the “bad guy”. Probably better off getting the original PC release since it costs less and runs at 60FPS and higher resolutions than this one.

Far Cry 5
It’s basically Far Cry 3/4 but set in America, and while the antagonists are all shitty people, they’re less shitty people than the support cast of Far Cry 4. Main antagonist is good, but not as good as Pagan Min.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Dynasty Warriors in Hyrule with all the DLC. If you don’t like those, you won’t like this. Also probably means that I won’t like you.

FAR: Lone Sails
Drive a slapped together vehicle across a desolate, presumably post-apocalyptic landscape, scringing together parts and fuel as you go. Linear and short, but fun while it lasts and not heavy handed with the messaging that a lot of these artsy wank some indies like to put in their games.

Red Faction Guerrilla
Fucking Smash Things Remastered. Hasn’t aged great, but remaster performs well enough, and you can still smash everything. Still boggles the mind to think that they thought Red Faction Armageddon was a good direction to pursue. No wonder THQ went broke.

Sonic Mania Plus
Sonic Team finally admits they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, and got some people who do.

No Man’s Sky (Next Update)
Admirable post-launch support which turned this into a new game. Gives a strong impression. Dare to say I actually enjoyed it for 15 hours. Then it turns into a bit of a trudging grind of find MacGuffin X so that you can create Device Y to take a few steps forward in your journey, and repeat.

WarioWare Gold
Greatest hits version of Nintendo’s madcap mini-game collection. Maybe a little light on the Nintendo themed stuff.

Shenmue I & II HD
Kind of minimal remastering, not particularly well done, but the underlying games are two of my all-time favourites, and had more fun playing the original Shenmue now than I did in 2001. Should have done a bit more in terms of QOL improvements. If you’re going to bitch about dated mechanics, it’s a red (and you suck).

Marvel’s Spider-Man
You know how some games look and feel like they cost a shitload of money? Spider-Man is one of those. Helps that the underlying game is a fun open world superhero romp. Combat is a bit naff early on. Manage your expectations with story.

SuperHot VR
This is a slightly different game to the original Superhot (one of my favourites of 2016), but is an exemplary demonstration of modern VR. Power fantasy at its finest – makes you feel unstoppable. Bit light on content like most VR stuff.

Super Mario Party
Mario Party goes back to what works, so set expectations accordingly. Should allow me to use the pro controller, regardless of the fact it only needs a few buttons. Comfort, people!

NBA 2K Playground 2
Do you like NBA Jam? Would you like NBA Jam if it had its soul ripped out and replaced with a grind of microtransactions before you could play as any of the ballers you’d actually want to play as? If so, this might be for you.

Red Dead Redemption II
Refer to comments re: Spider-Man and expensive looking games. Nails the “dying days of the West” feel like the original. Half-decent plot for a video game. Morgan is a very likable character. Only thing that irks me, which applied to GTAV as well, as that there’s not a whole lot to do with money when you finally have some.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
It’s Smash again, you probably know where you stand on that by now. Almost a red for removing the trophies and events, my favourite things from Melee & Brawl, and no announcements in classic mode seems a bit odd. Fuckload of content and characters.

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Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

*gagging sounds*

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Q2 and Q3 Capsule Reviews

Some lazy sod didn’t update his site for 5 months because he was too busy studying and playing those games he spends his hard earned on. Rather than just post capsules on new releases from the quarter, I thought it might be better to look at everything I played in that time. Then we might be able to do something with all of the capsules one day.

A Boy & His Blob: Rescue of Princess Blobbette
Charming shrunk down version of the NES game that’s not nearly as hard, and thus over in under 10 minutes. You can live without it.

Alan Wake
Once ambitious project gets released in what is essentially corridor shooter form with a dumb plot masquerading as something with deeper meaning, accompanied by shallow, lightweight shooting mechanics and some pointless collection. High production values and a lovely collector’s edition, though.

Alone in the Dark: Inferno
Highly flawed game gets second chance, but still has major problems where it counts and now looks worse due to poor upscaling and washed out colours.

Alpha Protocol
Entertaining light RPG with a somewhat compelling plot, let down by half-baked implementation of otherwise great ideas, absence of polish, glitches out the wahoo and poor combat.

Armored Core 4
Rock solid mech simulator is highly inaccessible. Stiff learning curve, but a deep customisation system will reward those who stick with it. Unfortunately that requires more patience than most will have.

Bangai-O Spirits
Simply crazy puzzle game masquerading as a shooter. Might disappoint fans of the original with its more puzzle oriented gameplay, but still a class act.

Blitz: The League II
Over the top sports effort goes a little too far with figurative “ball-busting” injuries, illegal steriods and off-field fraternising. Game is moderately enjoyable once you break the Midway Arcade AI™, but easily skippable.

Burnout Revenge
Sullies the good name of the series with cheating AI, never-ending challenges with low variety and an over-reliance on online antics over solo play.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Third GBA outing of long-running series eliminates problems with second game, though the result is absolutely fantastic thanks to some creative gameplay systems and a great departure in plot, it ends up being somewhat brief. All the more reason to play more than once.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Inspired but problematic. Gets caught up with that whole light world/dark world thing that nobody likes. Game is still enjoyable in spite of this artificial padding and by-numbers design.

Contra 4
A return to form for troubled series. Challenging gameplay without the needlessly cheap difficulty spikes of other games that inspire to be tough. Lovely sprite based art and a really detailed series history section are icing on the cake.

Crime Fighters
Side-scrolling brawler briefly amuses with bosses paying homage to slasher film villains, yet lacks the gusto and depth of its contemporaries.

Crush
Perspective-based puzzle initially amazes with its plane-crushing system, then grows increasingly annoying and imprecise to the point of depression induction.

Dante’s Inferno
Match God of War’s braindead, piss-easy combat system with some really messed up character design. Easily missable. Should have been called something else.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
Verbose but brief teaser whets one’s appetite for upcoming mass zombie slaughtering sequel.

Dirt 2
Varied rally game messes it up with grotesque extreme sports-inspired presentation. Not nearly enough point-to-point racing.

Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce
Monster Hunter x Romance of the Three Kingdoms will eat you alive if you don’t have three dedicated compatriots. Finding three other people who like Dynasty Warriors is impossible.

Excite Truck
Adrenaline-pumping racer is a little rough, but succeeds where others fail by remembering that video games are fun.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
Fails to scare, but succeeds in boring.

Fight Night Round 2
Left in the dust by its successors, but still gives you everything you need in a boxing game, plus a free copy of Super Punch Out!! on the GameCube version.

Global Defence Force
Middle entry in the series blows others away with ridiculous number of varied missions, monstrous armory, jet-pack laden secondary character and the ridiculous over-the-top monster busting action you’ve come to enjoy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Well executed handheld iteration gives players plenty to do without compromising the vision of the series. Late game frustration is delivered by the truckload, though.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Revisits series’ best setting with a bunch of new ideas. A little repetitive in mission design at times, but otherwise a strong entry.

Guitar Hero 5
Over-the-hill series doesn’t know when to quit.

Kirby Super Star
Ensemble cast of Kirby-inspired games is a treat. Cute, challenging and well-presented.

Klonoa (Wii)
Remake of fixed plane platformer proves that original was remembered more for its rarity than its quality.

Klonoa Beach Volleyball
Sickeningly cutesy volleyball game suffers from absence of difficulty and anything resembling depth.

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
The best Zelda outing on handhelds gives players a substantially different setting while maintaining the best of the series’ tropes. Playing for the first time provided indisputable proof that a love of retro games is not positively correlated with strength of nostalgic feelings.

LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues
Revisiting of classic Indy movies abandons adventure style stages of original for some puzzle and combat-oriented stages which just prove outright annoying. Half the package dedicated to fourth movie, which nobody really likes, making it even worse.

LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
Handheld outing of beloved PS3 game proves ridiculously frustrating due to more-prounounced control inaccuracy.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Multi-event sports fest will exhaust your patience before your body due to unwieldy controls.

Mega Man & Bass
Best 16-bit outing if played as Bass. By-numbers game if played as Mega Man. The choice is easy.

Mega Man 2
Far better stage design and an amazing soundtrack make this the best classic Mega Man game. Only goes downhill from here.

Mega Man ZX
Heavy reliance on backtracking and multitude of frustrating sections overshadow an otherwise competent platformer with high production values.

Mega Man ZX Advent
Corrects the problems of its predecessor while improving upon its strengths. A much neater and therefore more enjoyable experience.

Metal Gear Solid GBC
The best handheld MGS game without a doubt. Brings gameplay lessons learned from the 3D games back to the 2D style, and adds an intriguing story without the wallbangers the series later became famous for.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Strong MGS outing takes a few too many lessons from Monster Hunter. Will have you battling controls more than battling the enemy. Should have come with DualShock support.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops +
Multiplayer mission pack provides more of the same. Should have been used to retcon awful story of original.

Metroid Fusion
A game which excels in virtually every aspect. May seem overbearing compared to previous 2D outings, but it’s for the best.

Metroid: Other M
Cinematic approach is a drastic departure from classic series style, but accomplishes what it needed to. Seems a little fiddly at first, but ultimately proves to be an adventure worth experiencing.

Metroid Prime Pinball
Non-sensical pinball outing has great production values and sound, but just isn’t any fun.

Metroid Prime Trilogy
Three class acts on one disc. Implementation of new control style into older games is well-executed and the cohesion between the three games in the package was a neat surprise.

Metroid: Zero Mission
This is how you breathe new life into an old-fossil. Not only a classy remake through and through, but the additional sections are of an astonishing quality.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
The real desperate struggle is to stay awake during the over-the-top story scenes which were already played out by the end of the first game. Corrects mistakes made in the first game, but doesn’t really go far enough.

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad
Chicks in hot outfits slashing up zombies. Somehow manages to become boring quickly.

Pokemon Sapphire
Even the weakest Pokemon outing is still far better than most games. Seems like the cut out more than they added in, but the core gameplay is still fantastic.

Punch Out!!
Not all that different gameplay wise, but all that proves is that the original’s gameplay is timeless. A layer of new paint is all this baby needed, and the visual and aural upgrade here is simply amazing.

Red Dead Redemption
The sheer attention to detail made when creating the game world is what separates this from its ilk. Throw in a fantastic story and high quality gameplay, and you’ll soon see why this was 70 million well spent.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
It’s the ultimate version of one of the greatest games ever made. All of the extras from the PS2 version with an amazing control system and a true anamorphic widescreen display mode.

Saboteur
Artistically and conceptually strong game fails to deliver where it counts.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS
Somehwat complicated card battle game does very poor job of explaining itself. Better once you’ve come to grips with it, but that might take longer than you are willing to give it.

Sonic Rush
Pretty typical Dimps Sonic outing – none of the momentum based platforming that made the originals classics. Too fast, too many bottomless pits and crappy boss fights. Nice music, though.

Splinter Cell Conviction
Typical flavour of the month outing from Ubisoft. Really dumb story and the stealth/tactical gameplay that made the series what it was is abandoned in favour of straight up gunplay.

Star Fox Command
Really weak attempt to give Star Fox a bit of strategic depth. Unfortunately, that’s not what any Star Fox player wants.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
12 years in the making, this sequel pretty much does everything you ask of it. Production values are insane, the Battle.Net system is great, and its friendly to less-talented players.

Super Dodgeball Brawlers
Sequel to classic GBA game just doesn’t have the same level of depth or variety.

Super Street Fighter IV
New characters, balance tweaks, better netcode and all the usual stuff. Still a high quality product.

Tekken 6
Too much focus given to an ill-thought out single player campaign at the expense of everything else.

Tokyo Beat Down
Amusing parody of American cop movies suffers from shockingly shallow gameplay, even by beat ’em up standards.

UFC 2009 Undisputed
Excellent first outing for the reborn UFC franchise. Learning curve is a little step, but players prepared to spend the time learning the ropes are rewarded.

Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble
Smash Bros inspired brawler is fun, but let down by some really frustrating missions and questionable design decisions.

Wario Land II
Wario’s no Mario, but the game gives you everything you want in a platformer, and rewards players who are prepared to look in every nook and cranny.

Wario Ware DIY
Nintendo’s micro game maker gives you the tools to make some ridiculous stuff, but the real stars are the in-depth tutorials that teach you everything you need to know about making these tiny games.

Wheelman
Another one of those me-too open-world games with no substance. Some of the car stunts are cool, but the game is totally forgettable.

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Q1 2010 Capsule Reviews

Haven’t done much with this blog as I’ve been focused on Retro Gaming Australia, which needs a whole lot more work, and my substantial gaming backlog. However, in order to scratch that reviewing itch, I thought I’d continue to do capsule reviews every three months with a nice binary scoring system – green means play it, red means don’t worry about it.

Darksiders
Darksiders is a shameless ripoff of the best bits of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, God of War and Devil May Cry. While it actually plays well, nothing it does is original and the games it derives its mechanics from are far better, so play those instead.

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 sheds the vast majority of the RPG elements and depth of the original game in order to deliver a more streamlined experience. The gunplay is better, the story and dialogue are much more gripping, but there are middling elements like mining that drag the experience down. Still good, but I hope the third game strikes a better balance between the two schools of thought exhibited in the first two games.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
The Versus series returns with an unlikely clash between the Tatsunoko universe and Capcom’s usual suspects. Not as deep as previous entries, which is saying something, but highly accessible and enjoyable, and licenses are handled delicately.

BioShock 2
Unnecessary sequel explores virtually nothing new about the world of Rapture, tacks on ill-conceived multiplayer mode, and generally does little to justify its existence beyond improving the gunplay of the original.

Alien vs. Predator
Rebellion’s return to the franchise that brought them to glory reminds us that they’ve done little to grow as a developer in the last ten years. Wretchedly short, cliche-ridden story mode with baffling level design and poorly thought out progression overshadows mildly enjoyable multiplayer mode.

Heavy Rain
Third time’s a charm for Quantic Dreams’ odd excursions into games development. Strong story grips the player early on and never lets go, and the quick time events that drive the game are handled better than ever before. Allows for a lot of variation in how the story plays out, but replaying the game shatters some of the illusion of its perceived flexibility.

Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver
Second of the remakes reminds us that the second generation was the best. Mechanically, the game is showing its age, but the concept and gameplay are timeless.

God of War III
Sony’s third (technically fourth) pillage of Greek Mythology is technically accomplished but repeats the existing formula with less freedom than previous outings. You’d get just as much from the game watching someone else play.

Red Steel 2
Ubisoft’s second sword wielding FPS outing is so much better than the original that they should have called it something else so people would actually want to buy it. Fantastic sword mechanics, sound gameplay structure and an accomplished visual style make it one of the Wii’s better action games.

Just Cause 2
Avalanche’s super agent sim gets it right the second time, replacing the endearing-yet-clunky gameplay of the first with something that you’d actually want to admit to playing and enjoying. Huge gorgeous world with spectacular, explosive action that abandons any sembalence of realism in the name of unadulterated fun.

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Big Bangs, Small Blasts

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MA15+)
BY MATTHEW KELLER / November 24, 2009
(Single Player Only Review)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the gaming industry equivalent of the summer tentpole film. It carries a huge budget, it’s destined to sell millions of copies and it’s full of big explosions and screaming military men. Yet like many summer sequels, Modern Warfare 2 is bogged down by the need to always one up its predecessor, losing sight of plausibility, basic storytelling and gameplay innovation in the quest to shock its audience.

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