Game of the Year 2015

That’s right, there’s only one game I’ve got to celebrate this year; it’s been a dry one. Though, I do have an honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Duetmaxresdefault
It’s a smart game. Very smart. Clever, witty, addictive, rage-inducing, fun, thought-provoking, etc. All of that wrapped up in a neat little mobile package.

My Game of the Year: Life Is Strangemaxresdefault
Is it campy? You bet. At the same time, is it chock-full of more meaningful branching paths and choices in a story-driven game than any Telltale or Bioware product? Yes. Plus, I was playing that one episode with the terminally sick girl intro at two a.m. one morning and I cried for, like, a half hour. No other game has gotten me to do that or ever will. Sure, the first episode has some issues with teenage-lingo and the final episode stumbles a bit in the villain department, but otherwise, it’s just the best thing to come out of a dev studio this year.

Review of “Duet” for Android

It’s awesome. Basically, it’s a muscle-memory driven circle spinning game. But it’s got this really nice philosophical overtone running through it, as each chapter is named after one of the seven stages of grief, and you find yourself experiencing all seven of them within nanoseconds of each death (of which you’ll have thousands). It’s subtle mind-trickery, and it’s really cool. Not to mention every level kicks off with a little quote. My personal two favorites are back to back, and perfectly encapsulate why I love this game so much.maxresdefault.jpg

When you get to the depression chapter (6 of 8), the final act starts off with the quote “I don’t want you to keep going…” and you believe it, as it’s the hardest act so far. Yet when you finally conquer it, the first act of hope unlocks and it kicks off with “… I want you to want to keep going.” And it just renews your sense of, fittingly enough, hope that you’ll be able to conquer the game. Duet just really manages to get in your head and it’s so good that I just couldn’t not kick off my Android review section with it, even though I’ve been playing plenty of time-killer mobile games lately.

Review of Mortal Kombat X (iPad Version)

While I wait for the Steam version, the full-fledged version of MKX, to download via the shitty new system Steam has decided to implement, I took a look at the mobile companion game to see if it was decent. Surprise, it’s the same crappy fighter that the mobile Injustice app was, that the WWE Immortals game was, and that even the Batman: Arkham Origins mobile game was (even though that wasn’t by NR. Or was it?). They’re all the same shitty game for mobile, this one just has a hell of a lot more grinding involved.maxresdefault

You climb ladders, figuratively speaking, to progress. Each rung has a new fight on it where you have to beat opponents, who almost always have INSANELY better stats than you, solely to drive you into buying better fighters with real cash or to go grinding for an eternity. Both options suck, majorly.

If you were expecting a well put-together review with gorgeous syntax and proper grammar, sorry to disappoint, this is just me rambling off the cuff about how “meh” this game is. It looks mad pretty, but underneath that initial facade is a deceitfully lacking mobile game. Lacking by mobile standards. Think about that.

Fun fact: you can count the number of fatalities allowed for the duration of the entire game on one hand. You can only execute them on bosses, who only pop up once out of every couple hundred fights. Other than that, no fatalities whatsoever. Lame.

Ode to a Hedgehog

Blue hedgehog, blazing past.
Running swift, running fast.
How I loved you, in Secret Rings.
Even when the controls denied me of nice things.

Then came Unleashed, on the 360.
My favorite title, so visually nifty.
Then came Colors, a solid successor.
In between, there was Black Knight, which made the good games look even better.

Then came Boom, ’twas not happy.
Now he lives on iPhone for good, which is downright crappy.

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(this ode was written by my tears as I watched the trailer for Sonic Runners)

Iron Man 3: The Official Game Review

iron-man-3-14-700x525Having received an iPad against my will for the purpose of work, naturally my first instinct would be to start playing all of the stupid iOS games I’d never had the opportunity to play before. If I was forced to house an Apple product in my previously pure home, I’d make good use of it damnit!

I kicked off with downloading Batman Arkham Origins, Sonic Jump Fever, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Iron Man 3. The other three games aren’t really good enough or notable enough to even do a write up on, so here is my review of the one that didn’t justify my hatred for mobile gamers.

Iron Man 3: The Official Game’s story picks up right after the movie with a fun plot that finally allows me to face my favorite Marvel villain of all time: The Living Laser. In all seriousness, it’s a cute story told completely through dialogue exposition and none of the villains are anything to gawk at, but the final plot twist is actually pretty cool (“better than the goddamned movie’s twist at least” *angry fans rabbling*). But this is an iOS game, so you’re not here for the story. You’re here to find out if it’s worth mindlessly playing while you take a dump.

Featuring about half of Iron Man 3’s forty-two different Iron Man suits, there is enough fan service here to keep the most dedicated Iron Man nerds happy, such as myself. Being a free-to-play game, however, only about a third of these suits come cheaply, while another third can be unlocked through dedication, and the final third require five human sacrifices and an Illuminati membership card to gain access to. Or, you know, you could just buy them with real money. Pfffffft. In short, some of the coolest suits are cheap and only take a few hours to unlock, such as the briefcase suit from Iron Man 2 or the Mk25 “Thumper” suit from Iron Man 3. But then there are the ones that require either real world money to unlock or more play time than any sane person should invest in a f*cking phone game, like the Iron Patriot armor or the Suborbital Suit. In short, once you get to the Mk 32 Romeo or Mk40 Shotgun armors, your days of progression are pretty much over.Photo(189)

The actual game play is pretty fun, consisting of you flying forward extremely fast as obstacles and enemies come towards you, which you either need to dodge or take down with your repulsor beams. The level continuously generates “new” areas by reusing the same patterns every five or six cycles, meaning that you’ll eventually learn everything that could possibly come at you. But some things can still fuck you over no matter how good you think you are, such as those horrible rockets. Oh, those horrible, horrible rockets. But what’s more scary than the rockets is the fact that I, a “hardcore” gamer, found myself having more fun flying as Iron Man on a crappy little iPad than I’ve had playing any other game this year. Seriously, I would choose this over Watch_Dogs.

So, in conclusion, this game effectively marked the day I realized Triple A gaming had gone stale and all those insufferable PR guys claiming that “mobile is the future” were actually right. If I’m more addicted to playing a godamn endless-flyer than I am to busting out my gaming PC for some hardcore Battlefield 4, then something is seriously wrong with this industry.

But really, play the Iron Man 3 game. It has fun suits and junk.

Gamestop Expo 2013 Post-Expo News and Opinions

While all of the mainstream kids were at PAX Prime, us cool cats in Vegas were checking out Gamestop’s annual Expo, featuring everything at PAX and then some. From next-gen consoles to Sonic in a Mario display, almost anything imaginable was there (except for a hands-on Watch Dogs demo).SonicMarioDisplay

First off, good news. Current generation games that were on display are looking great, such as Batman: Arkham Origins, Sonic Lost World and Titanfall (yes Xbox One fanboys, it’s coming to 360 and PC as well!).

The Arkham Origins demo was great fun, but some of Batman’s new gadgets made him extremely overpowered in the demo (remote batclaw, anyone?). Hopefully the full game still manages to challenge players.

Sonic Lost World was fun too, but primarily on the 3DS. My earlier analysis of the boring Wii U trailers was, in fact, correct, as Sonic doesn’t feel fast and/or exciting on Nintendo’s quirky console. Luckily, Sonic retains his trademark speed and FUN on the 3DS version, featuring faster paced levels and better Wisp usage. In short, if you own a 3DS you might just be getting the best version of the game.

Titanfall was the biggest surprise, as up until Gamescon a few weeks ago no one had gotten a chance to play it hands-on. Well, it’s flipping amazing. There was an hour+ long line to get into the multiplayer demo, but it was well worth it. Two teams of six rocket booted and quick-scoped their way around the map in what I assume would be Iron Man’s version of Call of Duty, but that all changed with the Titans. Once the giant robots got involved, conventional FPS mechanics hit the fan and the game really showed its true colors (which were amazing amber and f*cking awesome indigo). Even better, everyone got a Titan at one point or another, meaning that no one was left out of the Gundam robot fun.

Two of Ubisoft’s biggest and most anticipated games, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Watch Dogs, were present but not hands-on. There was a special screening for each, showing content not currently on the internet. While it was cute, there should’ve been a hands-on demo this close to both games’ launches, and the Watch Dogs demo sparked some serious concerns over the PS4 version being better than current gen versions graphically, but more on that later.

Microsoft’s massive set up at the Expo included demos for Ryse, Kinect Sports Rivals and even a photo-op with Dead Rising 3’s zombies. My verdict on the new Kinect is that it’s still a door stopper, although it IS better than the current Kinect. Not by much, however, as it still reads movements relatively slowly and still can’t process overlapping body parts, such as putting one arm over your chest. Kinect Sports Rivals wouldn’t have been much fun had the Kinect worked better, however, as the game was boring and felt like a poor imitation of Wii Sports Resort.

Ryse looked really boring, even though expo-ees weren’t allowed to even play the Kinect version. There was a one-on-one showroom where you could watch a Microsoft employee play a demo up close and personal, but that was as close as you got to Ryse: Son of Rome’s Kinect functionality.

Sony had demos of their new PS4 racing game Drive Club and Warframe’s PS4 port, but everything else was PS3 content (Beyond: Two Souls and The Puppeteer). Nothing was impressive and while Sony’s booth was big, it lacked impact.Vegas 2013 021Vegas 2013 020

The one big issue worth mentioning with what gamers saw of the Xbox One and PS4 was that the visuals weren’t impressive, far from it. If anything, most next gen games on demonstration looked just barely on par with some current PS3 titles, and a tad better than current 360 titles. The Watch Dogs PS4 demo looked bleh, and anyone who’s pre-ordered a next gen console would be wise to listen to myself and Adam Sessler and cancel that pre-order as soon as possible. Fanboys will be fanboys, but smart consumers should hold off, as these machines don’t seem to be living up to the hype they’ve generated whatsoever.

Those were the biggest highlights and disappointments of Gamestop Expo 2013, give or take a couple of games (such as Super Mario 3D Land and Bayonetta 2 on Wii U, which both had great demos, and a couple of less pressing games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Elder Scrolls Online). It was well worth the $35 admission price, and I highly recommend avid gamers to go to next year’s expo, as it’s as enlightening as it is fun.

Review of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for PS Vita

This’ll be the last Vita review I do for quite some time, due simply to the fact that I’ve recently sold my Vita. Maybe I’ll do a PS Vita retrospective? Regardless, you’re here for an ACIII: Liberation review, so let’s find out if this portable Assassin’s Creed is worth your money.images

If you’ve ever played a traditional Assassin’s Creed game, you’re pretty much getting the same thing here. Now, I could go further in-depth to explain what a traditional AC game is like, but chances are if you’re reading a review for this game you’re already a serious fan of the series. Colossul open world maps, LOTS of AI citizens (albiet not as many as the game’s console counterparts, but due to processing power that’s understandable), silly sidequests and lots of horrible accents for the French characters. It’s the classic, tried and true AC formula that hasn’t seemed to fail… until now, that is. I’ve never been truly bored playing an AC game up until this one. Sure, there was the novelty of playing it on the Vita for maybe one or two story sequences, but around a quarter of the way through the campaign, things begin to get repetitive. Not even because the game is boring, it’s really not, it’s just that if you’ve played even one AC game before, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

It seems Ubisoft is starting to paint by numbers with this series; if the first game was a hit, why not release fifty more in rapid succession? Not to sound negative, it’s just that Liberation is forgettable. The open world city of New Orleans is impressive no doubt, really stretching the Vita’s limits, but it’s just not enough to absorb you into the game’s story. I mean, heck, there’s nothing new here to pull you in at all. If anything, there’s actually just a list of grievances I have with the game.  For me, the biggest turn off was the voice acting. Every time the game tries to establish the supposedly “intriguing” story with a cutscene, all I hear are some horrible Canadian-French accents. No offense to Canadians, and I understand this was made by Ubisoft MONTREAL, but still. For a plot revolving around slavery and conspiracy, I shouldn’t be giggling constantly at the horrible voice acting.

The gameplay doesn’t feel hefty either, feeling like an overly complex beat ’em up instead of a classic AC game. I think that’s solely because of the lack of a rumble component in the Vita, unlike most controllers which will vibrate during combat. It’s a minor gripe, but worthy of mention.

To be quite honest, there isn’t a lot wrong with this game. The locales are fantastic, the graphics are good, the soundtrack is solid and the controls are top-notch. But it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, doesn’t motivate the player to continue due to lackluster story telling, and isn’t worth anything over twenty dollars.