Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

First, let me wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy holiday, etc.

Second, my familial troubles have settled down somewhat, allowing me more time to do some reviews.

Third, even though programming takes precedence over blog posts, I'm trying to do more of both over the next few months.

So, without further ado, I'm going to do a bunch of mini-reviews of the games I've played recently.

P.S. I was also going to review: Unreal World (PC, v3.17), Empire:Total War (PC, 2009), Shadowrun Returns (PC, 2013), Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup Redux Review (PC, v0.10.2) Part2 and Final Fantasy 13 (PS3, 2010). I have run out of time, hopefully my next post will contain some of the above.



Heavy Rain (PS3, 2010)

Heavy Rain is a new breed adventure game involving a murder mystery. Players take control of the four main characters, at different points along the story, eventually leading to one of many story conclusions.

Gameplay is simple and laden with QTEs, players who loathe QTEs should stay clear. Graphics are crisp, even though character animations can be a bit dopey at times. Character voice acting and design are thoughtful and well directed. The story itself is an engaging ride, with a lot of thrills, explosions, games and close escapes.

The major flaws of Heavy Rain are the bugs. Load screen bugs, graphical bugs and game freezing; this is not what you expect from a console game and it does detract from the overall experience. One bug had me looking at a non-existent ticket (texture glitch), forcing me to restart the level.

Overall, Heavy Rain is a unique experience that will keep you entertained throughout. Re-play value is provided by different endings and achievements. If adventure games are not your cup of tea, I'd definitely recommend renting it, or borrowing it from a friend.

7.8/10

- The butler did it?

Bayonetta (PS3, 2010)

Bayonetta is sex and guns, well not exactly. Catsuit wearing women with guns will always get a lot of male attention, and Bayonetta is no exception. You play as the long-legged, gun-for-high-heels-toting, witch - Bayonetta - as she blasts her way through a bunch of angelic malefactors, or maybe Bayonetta is the malefactor - I never could tell who were the good guys.

The story revolves around a lost witches sect and Bayonetta's role during its collapse. Grotesque angels seek to thwart, the seemingly cursed Bayonetta, as she fights to regain her forgotten memories. As with all fighting games, enemies begin weak and steadily increase in difficulty, forcing players to adapt their fighting patterns, or learn new tricks to beat opponents into angel dust (pcp?).

Gameplay involves combos between guns and weaves(magic), as Bayonetta's spell focus is her long black hair. As you can expect from a Japanese action game: over the top boss battles, with multiple stages; large amounts of oddball humor and sexual innuendo; decent difficulty; a load of unlocks and collectables; mini-games; etc.

Graphics are adequate, but the highlight for me was the detail and variety of angel designs. A number of annoying graphical glitches are apparent in the PS3 version. It's reported that the Xbox 360 version of the game is technically superior and the PS3 version was lazily ported, which is a shame.

Bayonetta can't help but exploit it's fetishistic elements and mix in some pretty decent arcade beat'em up action. If you need an action fix with some quirky design and some cool moves, Bayonetta should fit the bill.

6.8/10

-Fly me to the moon, and let me sail upon the stars.


Lollipop Chainsaw (PS3,  2012)

Ach, Zombie! Lollipop Chainsaw is a very interesting game. It's like an exploitation movie, but it's an exploitation video game. I can tell straight away that people who "professionally" review games for the first 10-20 minutes of gameplay, would hate this game. It does start slowly, it's very rude, it's linear, and the characters and storyline aren't very compelling, BUT if you stick with the game it's best features will shine through.

The player is introduced to Juliet Starling, a ditzy cliche blonde cheerleader in love with a jock, and today is her birthday. Late for her date, Juliet finds her school under siege by a zombie horde and it's up to her secret zombie slaying (Buffy?) abilities to save the day.

Juliet favours a pink, rainbow and hearts themed chainsaw to behead and sever zombie limbs mixed with dazing pom-pom attacks. Gameplay consists of chaining pom-pom and chainsaw combos for the best zombie multi-kills, earning large rewards of coins - unlocking new skills, powerups, and collectables. Of course lollipops, scattered throughout the levels, are used for healing Juliet.

So what makes this game good? It's linear; the combat is pretty bland, until you unlock more moves; zombies have been done to death; it's a short game; has a mediocre story; yada, yada. Now with any Suda51 game there is always more than meets the eye. People should really approach Lollipop Chainsaw more like a 90s arcade game than a modern console game.

The music is fantastic, Little Jimmy Urine (MSI) and Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) have really nailed a good cross-section of genres and styles. You'll hear 80s pop, 90s rock, metal, electronica, dubstep remixes, and much more. Of all the elements of Lollipop Chainsaw the music alone is probably the most memorable.

Another highlight of the game are the boss designs. Bosses have a lot of personality and come in different levels of weird and obnoxious. Encountering bosses is really fun as they use a mix of musical-zombie themed theatrical attacks on Juliet. Of course, being a Japanese action game, bosses have many different forms - magical zombies tend to be pretty tough to kill.

The last feature that should grab your attention is the overall game design. The themes are both cliched and wild; the humor is overboard, with a lot of pop references and vulgarity; levels are distinctly themed; and the difficulty was never overwhelming (playing on hard). Lollipop mixes violence and comedy with a cheerleader thrown in. Personally, I think Lollipop chainsaw is an allegory for the American Halloween holiday - you have girls running around in sexy costumes, while everyone else is dressed as monsters or pop references.

Suda51 makes games for the outsiders: unapologetic, dirty, bucking the trend and embracing the niche. People who like action arcade games, mixed with a glorious soundtrack, filled with zombies, should check out Lollipop Chainsaw.

7.5/10

-Oh Mickey, your so fine, your so fine, you blow my mind!

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