Posts Tagged ‘Backlog Barrage’

Backlog Barrage! Lets Do A Little Role Playing

March 18, 2011

White Knight Chronicles Publisher: SonyDeveloper: Level-5
Platform: PS3  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: February 2, 2010

White Knight Chronicles (WKC) wasn’t what most expected, or maybe even wanted from Level-5’s first PS3 JRPG. However, I think it was overly criticized and was overall a good title.

Sure the story didn’t pick up till the end, but seeing as the game is just the first in a planned trilogy I can be a little forgiving of that. I think most of the characters weren’t deep enough, and they didn’t grow with the story. This is probably why most people decided to harp on the standard save the princess story. Even if similar tropes are the basis of many other games, which are generally given a pass.

As for the actual gameplay, it plays much like a simplified MMO. You key up actions (spells, attacks, items, etc) and use them when your gauge fills. You are able to stack abilities and actions to create your own combos. During these you will have to complete timed button presses to keep the combo going. It might not be my favorite combat system, but it worked rather well for what they wanted to do.

Besides creating your own combos there is also a very exhaustive crafting system in WKC. You can create a plethora of gear and items. You can also upgrade these. But more unique to WKC is the Georama system, where each player gets to create their own home space. These spaces can be filled with buildings, crops, mineral deposits, shops, filled with workers, and so on. It is a huge addition to the game, and can be fairly addictive. My main complaint would be the amount of time required to grind your way through most of the crafting and Georama systems. I think it would’ve been much better if it were easier to obtain weapons, armor, or new furnishings for your Georama. Instead I eventually succumbed to the realization that the game demanded way too much of my time to really progress. Instead of pushing forward, it made me want to take WKC out of my PS3 and move on to another game.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I really enjoyed WKC. There is a fun and uniquely deep base here that I hope Level-5 can build on for the sequel. The Georama and online aspects added a lot to the game. In fact, if WKC lacked these components I would have scored it lower. Hopefully we will see some needed tweaks in the upcoming sequel.

SCORE: 7/10

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Final Fantasy XIII Publisher: Square EnixDeveloper: Square Enix
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: March 9, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII) is yet another game that I struggled with assigning a score to. If I look at piecemeal it seems like a great game, but when it is all put together I feel like it falls short.

Overall the graphics are very good. During battles the spell and combat effects look really good. For the most part, the character models looks really good. However, whenever there is a close up you can see where they cut some corners. I count myself among the crowd that thinks the game suffered from becoming multiplatform. There are a lot of low resolution textures, and even the way the game is designed feels like it was compromised to work with the 360’s DVD limitations.

Which brings me to the worse part of this game. It is incredibly linear. You are forced to run down one long corridor after another. It is designed like a shooter. However that style of game design only works for fast paced action games or shooters. Where you are constantly fighting enemies in real time and are usually met with dramatic set-pieces. In FFXIII you run down mostly empty  and confined pathways. You engage enemies, and are then warped into a battle mode. After defeating the enemies you are warped back to the map. This is standard for a lot of RPGs, but the fact that there are no side-quests until much later in the game (waits until the second disc for the 360… convenient?) makes most of the game feel like one long corridor. If this was more of an action-RPG, this may have worked better. Or maybe even if it was a shorter game, as it really drags at times.

The battle system is more about managing your roles (think job classes) than actually controlling any one character. It is fast paced and flashy, but most of the time ends up feeling like I was just pressing “x” to win. You do need to juggle your roles a lot more later on in the game, but I still think it was lacking.

The characters are decent, and the story is good. Both of which are very important when it comes to RPG’s, especially when they are fairly long. They both had me interested enough to make me want to complete the game. Even after I became bored of the combat or fatigued by the seemingly endless amount of linear maps.

There were times when I completely loved FFXIII, but they a minute later I would be met by something that made me loathe it. It feels like the game could have been something much better and has left me wanting. If it hadn’t been so linear and felt like it was artificially extended just to make it seem like a longer game (which fans of the serious usually expect), I think it would have been a better game. Maybe we will see some serious revisions in the sequel, FFXIII-2.

SCORE: 8/10

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Fallout: New Vegas Publisher: BethesdaDeveloper: Obsidian
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC  /  Genre: WRPG  /  Release Date: October 21, 2010

Where do I begin… Fallout: New Vegas had a lot to prove to me after playing Fallout 3. I could tell there was an idea of a good game in both of these games, but I was also horribly burned by maybe the worst high-profile game engine in the industry. The bug ridden, low performance, and flat out broken Gamebryo engine. It was completely frustrating in Fallout 3 and when I heard they were still using that engine for New Vegas my heart sunk. I was really hoping they’d do the right thing and release an actually functional game. Turns out, they may have released an even more broken game than Fallout 3.

I know, why am I focusing on the engine and not the game so far in this review? Well, that’s because you have to be able to totally look past the massive amount of problems the engine contributes to the game in-order to find anything redeeming about New Vegas. There are the small issues, like poor lip-synching, late loading textures, and clipping. These are generally forgivable in an open world game if they aren’t too frequent. That is not the case with New Vegas. I would enter buildings or areas to be met with large portions (sometimes whole buildings, the ground, etc) of the world not being textured. It abruptly reminds you that you’re playing a game, and a poorly made on at that.

Then there are the larger problems. Hell, you can’t even run in the game without dropping frames like a tree drops leaves in the fall. I would have to stop moving so the game wouldn’t freeze on me. Even trying to move around the world cautiously to avoid these problems it would still regularly freeze on me (even after the patches that supposedly fixed that problem). Then you have broken missions, characters getting stuck inside each other, or maybe even you getting stuck in the worlds geometry. It’s like the real enemy of the game is the Gamebryo engine… and it usually wins.

As for the actual game, it’s ok. I enjoyed the setting and story more than I did in Fallout 3. Roaming the wastelands going where you please is still immensely gratifying. This is why you play these games. FInding new areas, new enemies, and new stories hidden away in documents, new NPC’s, or computers you get to hack. All of this is satisfying, and what I want out of a new Fallout game.

It is such a shame that a good game was ruined for me due to all the technical problems.  I really wanted to be able to look past this, but since the game wants to constantly remind that it can’t run properly I can’t. Maybe the game just wants you to take a break, for your health, so it freezes which then requires you to get up and shut down your PS3. Or maybe it is time to kill off the Gamebryo engine and move on to a new one (which I believe they are with their next game). If you are able to stomach all the technical problems (a.k.a. a broken game) there is a fun game to be found in there.

SCORE: 4/10


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Backlog Barrage! Shootin’ Dudes In The Face Edition

December 19, 2010

MAG Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Zipper
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: January 26, 2010

MAG is easily my biggest surprise this generation. Until this generation, I had pretty much no interest in FPS games and even less interest in playing them online. Heck, I wasn’t even interested in MAG until the week leading up to release where I decided to pre-order this online only game at the last possible moment. I am really glad I did, as I have spent an ungodly amount of time with this tactical squad based shooter.

Yes, you are basically running around shooting people the whole time like any other shooter. However, since it is all objective based it feels totally different. People fall into roles, medics, snipers, engineers, and so on. You can mix and match these abilities, weapons, and equipment to make load-outs that suit different situations and your play style. This customization is great and being able to re-spec relatively cheaply makes it so you can always try out new gear or revise your character if you ended up not liking your build.

The main draw to MAG is the sheer number of players. It depends on the mode you are playing, but in Domination the game supports 256 players. You won’t see all of these players on screen at once, unless everyone swarms one area, but they are there and it really feels like a massive battle is taking place. Even in the smaller game modes there is a large number of players, so the game never feels empty. And like I said before, since it is objective based you are able to gain experience points by doing more than just killing enemies. Actually, healing and other objective based goals usually yield more points so it encourages players to help each other as opposed to just run off all lone wolf style.

If there was only one shooter I could have played this year, it would have been MAG. The sheer amount of players, tactical gameplay, customization, and feel of the game have made it one of my favorite games of 2010.

SCORE: 9/10

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Medal of Honor Publisher: EADeveloper: Danger Close, DICE
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: October 12, 2010

Once again I find myself scratching my head and coming to a different conclusion then most “reviewers” of a game I played. Medal of Honor got a lot of mixed reviews, and a lot of the negatives came from being compared to other games. I can see why one would compare a FPS to the other FPS’s on the market, but to mark it down for not being those games is just stupid. Let Medal of Honor be its own game. That is why it doesn’t play like the two main shooters it was compared to. It’s like they want every game to be the same. Anyway, that is a whole other topic so let me get back on topic.

Medal of Honor comes at the FPS genre in a much less arcady and more realistic direction. You can’t dual wield shotguns, you can’t really run and gun your way through a level. You are meant to be more cautious and more precise. The atmosphere of the game lends itself to this style. I’m not going to say it is actually realistic, but in comparison to the other shooters on the market it sure does feel more real. Hell, even with all the jumping around between characters I still ended up caring for them throughout their trials.

The multiplayer aspect feels a little more fast paced than the single player, but over all it isn’t your typical run and gun (unless you only play the deathmatch modes). The most popular mode, and one I played the most is Combat Mission. This is a team objective based mode. You have to defend strategic spots, or attack them. These are played on larger maps and include limited vehicles. I really enjoyed this mode in particular a lot, and the overall multiplayer experience in general. You level up one of three classes as you play (able to switch load outs and class during your re-spawn), and unlock weapons and mods as you do so. I wish there were more unlocks and more customization, but that is a minor complaint.

So despite some of the poor reviews I really hope EA plans to keep Medal of Honor heading in this direction. If they are able to work out some of the flaws I think they could make a modern FPS that can hang with the other big FPS franchises on the market right now. If you are tired of some of the other shooters I’d easily recommend getting this game.

SCORE: 8/10

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Publisher: EADeveloper: DICE
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: FPS  /  Release Date: March 2, 2010

I ended up getting Battlefield: Bad Company 2 much later than its initial release date, but I’m glad I finally got around to playing it. There are some noticeable changes form the first game which may change how you feel about the game overall. I personally didn’t mind the change to a more linear format in the single-player. You are not as free to pick a path in a level, but there is still a lot of room to maneuver and choose your path through the environments.

The other notable change is the interaction of the characters during the story. There is a more serious tone to this game than the previous one. It isn’t as serious as the most recent Medal of Honor game, but the characters aren’t cracking the same jokes during cut scenes as they did in the first game. They do still have their more personal and usually amusing conversations as you move through a level. The down side is that if they start talking during a firefight you may not be able to really hear them with all the gun fire, explosions, and crumbling buildings. Which is a shame as I really enjoyed the joking conversations these characters had. It’s still there, but you have to pay attention to catch most of them.

Even with these changes the single-player is still a lot of fun, but that will only last you several hours. After that, you’ll want to turn your attention to the multiplayer. Here you can spend a ton of time ranking up your different classes and unlocking a ton of gear. I was once again drawn into the more team oriented multiplayer modes. Which have you either attacking or defending positions.

If you play FPS’s you’ll feel right at home, but the destructible buildings really change up how you approach taking or defending a position. This along with the different classes and characters found in the single-player are what makes it feel different from the other major FPS on the market. Which is a very good thing in my opinion.

SCORE: 8/10

Backlog Barrage! Review Edition: 1

November 17, 2010

Well, due to a multitude of reasons I have fallen severely behind in both keeping up with all the games I have and my reviews. So in order to remedy this I’ve decided to go ahead and make some quick and dirty versions of reviews I haven’t finished and are now sorely overdue. This way, if you’re interested, you can still see what I thought about the games I’ve been playing.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: TPS, Action Adventure  /  Release Date: October 13, 2009

Ok, I don’t think you really need to a review of this game. By now you should have bought this game, beat it, and come to realize how great it is. Unlike some games, Uncharted 2 lives up to all these accolades and all the praise it got. Once again Naughty Dog has crafted a great character driven story that really pulls you into its world. You will visit some truly stunning environments and engage in incredible action sequences. It is impressive just how good this game looks. I think it is the best looking console game to date. Thankfully it isn’t just good looking, but has the gameplay to back it up. The refinements in shooting, traversal, stealth attacks, and melee add up to what is my favorite controlling TPS.  All of the single-player is enough for this game to be one of the best games on the PS3, but then add a really fun and uniquely vertical competitive multiplayer as well as co-op and it takes it to another level. Go out and get this game now if you haven’t played it yet.

SCORE: 10/10

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Lost Planet 2 Publisher: Capcom  /  Developer: Capcom
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: TPS  /  Release Date: May 11, 2010

Lost Planet 2 (LP2) may have underwhelmed many a reviewer or gamer, but if you knew what to expect from it I think it turned out pretty darn good. After spending a large amount of time with both the campaign and multiplayer I have to admit I really enjoy what LP2 has to offer. If you are looking for a Gears of War style game, or a cover based third-person shooter you will be very disappointed. However, if you come to LP2 expecting an experience similar to the original, just with more of an emphasis on online co-op and competitive multiplayer then you will be rather happy.

The game looks  a lot better than the first game, with nice and varied environments and great creature designs. You will get to play as several different factions that inhabit the once frozen world of E.D.N. III. Eventually these opposing come together to work towards one goal. The story is ok, but the ending is kind of just crazy and to be honest I lost track of what it was trying to tell me. But that doesn’t really detract from the fun I had killing large monsters (even more fun with friends in co-op) and unlocking new gear and weapons. Hopefully there will be a Lost Planet 3, and they will refine the systems present in the sequel as well as add a better single player campaign.

SCORE: 8/10

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Assassin’s Creed 2 Publisher: Ubisoft  /  Developer: Ubisoft
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: Action  /  Release Date: November 17, 2009

Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoyed the first Assassin’s Creed. I understood peoples’ complaints, but I thought it was just such a different type of game that took place in a very interesting setting that I could get over some of its short comings. So when they announced a sequel with a lot of fixes, another great location, and set in an interesting time I was really excited about it. Thankfully Assassin’s Creed 2 (AC2) mostly lived up to my initial excitement.

It plays very similar to the first game, but with several needed changes. There is more variety in this game, especially in the weapons and how they are used in combat. In AC2 you can use your trusty throwing knives, different swords and daggers, a simple gun, and even disarm enemies and then use their weapons against them. The simple timing based combat is still present, and rewards you for being observant of your enemies. BEing able to parry, disarm, and attack when there is an opening will make you feel like a real assassin and get you out of sticky situations much faster.

In AC2 you continue the story of Desmond Miles as you access memories through an animus (!!!!). You will spend most of your timing climbing and killing your way around renaissance italy. It is splendid location that is beautifully realized in the game. You will learn more about the truth about the Templars, Assassins, and more. It sets up for an interesting next installment in the series. I do however, have some small gripes with the AC2. First of all, the graphics. Don’t get me wrong it is a good looking game when you are running around and in combat, but any time you are in cut scenes and close ups you can see some of the blocky geometry and lower res textures. It is disappointing to say the least. For the most part, the controls for climbing feel great. However, sometimes they are too automated or it can’t figure out what you are trying to do. This can lead to accidents of either jumping the wrong direction, jumping off of something you didn’t meant to, or not being able to navigate up something that you should be able to. It would have also been nice if your upgradable vila would have been deeper or had more importance. These small problems aren’t enough to bring the game down and was easily one of my favorite games of 2009.

SCORE: 9/10

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Heavy Rain Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Quantic Dream
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: Adventure /  Release Date: February 23, 2010

I wasn’t really sure if I was ever going to review this game but I figured with this new format I could at least give it a try. The main reason I wasn’t sure if I was going to review Heavy Rain was pretty simple, I don’t really know how to or what I want to say about it. THis may come down to the simple fact that I can’t find an adequate way to explain how it plays, without it sounding like one large quick-time event or point and click adventure type of game. It isn’t either of these things, but it does have things in common with these types of gameplay. You do directly control the four main characters of the game, as you work your way through a mystery about a serial killer. You will get to play as a distraught father, private detective, FBI agent, and a reporter. The stories of each individual bleed into one main story line, and no matter how you play through the game you will get an ending that should wrap things up. Which is very important, as there are many different endings available for the story of Heavy Rain, and that is because there is a lot of choice, different outcomes of events, and even character death. That’s right, you are able to kill of the main characters and the story will adapt and form an ending around how you experience the game. Speaking of which, I think this game is an interactive drama that is best experienced by playing it and not just watching it. You will connect with the characters and if you are like me, try your hardest to get through the game with all four characters alive. If you are somewhat skeptical of this game, due to the unique gameplay style I would say try to get past that and give it a shot. You will be treated to an  engaging drama, great graphics, and unique gaming experience.

SCORE: 9/10