Frothing Demand

Rabid commentary on video games, movies and television.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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 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.

posted by Matthew Keller at 10:45 am  

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