Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going to be a Busy Year: Reviewed

Portal 2

Could I have ever imagined that this game could live up to the hype that was created by the first one, probably not seeing as how most games do not ever live up to the hype. That being said, Portal 2 is not like most games. This game lives up to the hype and then some. The game is exactly what one would expect from Valve after the outburst of fans created from the first game. The humor is spot on, and the voice-acting is superb. I am not sure that I've laughed much more from a video game than this one, except back in Halo 2 when I would live to play in the "No Shots Fired" clan and still win every match. The puzzles are very imaginative, but not so overwhelming that the game becomes very difficult. It makes you think, but doesn't mind-numbingly force you to replay an area again and again and again until you've memorized it, like some other games that came out recently (cough) Ms. Splosion Man (cough). Portal 2 is an excellent game and the co-op specific puzzles make the game loads more fun than being only single player.

The cons: This is the first game that have ever purchased that after beating it the first time, I know 100% that I will never play the game ever again. Once you beat a puzzle, it instantly becomes stale and you have no enjoyment playing it again. Putting a puzzle together is fun, but you don't want to do it again for a while, or maybe not ever. In Portal 2's case, once completed, I never wanted to play the puzzles again, both co-op and single player. Co-op, after going through it once, ruins it for any more of your friends who want to play. You sit there patiently while your friend tries to figure out the puzzle by him/herself, yay, waiting.


BLACK, created by Stewart Black for the Xbox Original, was perhaps the best sounding, looking, and most fun shooter I have ever played, all wrapped up in a single game. There is a very good review on Youtube for the PS2 version of the game, and I couldn't agree more with the person doing the review. Bodycount was deemed the sequel to BLACK, after the idea for BLACK 2 was dumped by Ea. I have been anticipating this game for many years, and was ecstatic when they released a demo a couple weeks before the release date.

I was 3 minutes into the demo when I was more-than-convinced to cancel my pre-order. I continued to play the demo to the end, just to give Bodycount it's fair chance, but it only caused me to immediately drive to the mall and cancel my pre-order. Bodycount looks a lot like Brink, cartoon-like instead of BLACK which was very realistic looking. Bodycount implements a "lock" system which eliminates the need for cover to lock to the ground and lean. Bodycount you can lock yourself anywhere at any time, and lean in any direction, which would be a great system if IT DIDN'T DO IT EVERY TIME YOU TRIED TO ZOOM IN! If you zoom in, you become immobile, and cannot even strafe. You're a sitting duck while you try to move the unintuitive controls around and find your enemies. The environment isn't nearly as destructible as I was hoping, and most of the walls that you try to destroy will leave little fragments that don't allow you to pass until you meticulously aim at every little nail.

The aiming system is okay, where it brings the gun to the middle of the screen and you stare down the barrel. This would have been a good system if the explosion of the bullet leaving the gun wasn't so big that you lose site of the enemy that you're aiming at. If you try to lay into an enemy with a barrage of bullets from a semi-auto, the screen lights up so much that you absolutely cannot see who or what you're shooting at, and this obviously is a big problem in an FPS.

Ms. Splosion Man

I hadn't even mentioned this in the games I wanted to purchase in that original post, but once I found out about this being released I was very excited. Splosion Man was an incredibly addictive, super fun game for single and multiplayer.

I won't go into very much detail, but unless you like a game that forces you to play the same part over and over again until you've memorized that you're supposed to press a button at exactly the correct pixel while being hurtled through the air at Mach 1, you won't like this game. The game will zoom in to your character to the point that even if you have godlike reflexes like I have (from playing on 10 sensitivity in all the Halo games), you can't react to something so random as a barrel flying past you randomly at that specific part. So the game forces you to play again and again until you know that the barrel is coming.

Don't buy this game, play the first one instead.

Gears of War 3

There is hope, however, in the vast world of gaming, and it's name is Epic. Epic Games' Gears of War that is to say. Gears of War has always been a very enjoyable game, with hordes of Locust to plow your way through with overly muscular, weapon toting bad-asses. What's not to love, there's guns, explosions, manly-ness oozing from every orifice, witty humor, and head shots... Oh those sweet, adrenaline thumping head shots, how I live for that sound.

Well those head shots are back, along with many new enemies, some new weapons, and a bunch of new characters. I won't go into the gameplay itself, because it plays just like the older gears. Take cover or get your head taken off, run with a partner and go guns blazing, or hop into horde and fight wave upon wave of Locust and Lambent alike.

That's right, horde mode is back and better than ever. Now, instead of scrambling to find the best place to camp, or quickly grabbing the Boom Shield before a round starts, each player is able to purchase items before a round begins. You get in game money for every kill or assist that you get during the round, and that can be put towards purchasing items. Each item has multiple "unlocks" which you unlock after spending predetermined amounts of in game money. Each unlock either lowers the overall cost of purchasing the item or repairing it, or it unlocks a new upgraded version of the item, making it much more useful. The items, and they're upgrades, for purchase are:

Barriers (Small spikes to red impassible lasers).

Decoys (Cardboard cutout of Cole to somewhat lifelike dummy with a bomb in his chest that kills enemies when it is shot at).

Turrets (Retro Lancer turret to powerful Troika with a shield).

Sentries (Weak Retro Lancer spray to immobilizing gatling gun).

Silverback (No upgrades, only 33% price reduction).

This adds a wonderful element to horde, and makes it somewhat competitive because you want those kills so you can upgrade more stuff. Horde is definitely better than in Gears 2, but it was already amazing in Gears 2 so they did a wonderful job.

Beast mode is a new option in the playlist that is quite the unique idea. Instead of fighting as the COG army against waves of Locust, YOU ARE the Locust trying to exterminate the COG. The objective is simple, until the COG start to build their own fortifications, turrets, and silverbacks. You begin by fighting some unarmored Stranded, but end up fighting the whole squad of COG elite, and boy do they have good shots. Just like in horde mode, killing and getting points gets you in game money, but this isn't spent on fortifications, it's spent on more Horde! The more money you gain, the more tiers of monsters you unlock. There are 4 tiers, and each one has more devastating locust to pick from. You go from being a Ticker or a Wretch to a Berzerker or a Savage Boomer. Yeah that's right, you can PLAY AS A Berzerker!

All in all the campaign was fantastic, horde has some great improvements, the new maps are mostly very fun, beast mode is a great new addition, but the online multiplayer still sucks. They decided that instead of toning down the overly powerful shotgun, let's put an even stronger, more insane shotgun in and let people battle it out. What they forgot is that no one wants to battle it out, they all take the low road and pick the new and improved "kill anything that comes near me" weapon. I stay away from versus, but at least they let you get the achievements and ribbons in private matches with bots of your choosing, that's a huge step up from a lot of games which force you to play kids online.

Gears 3 I think is a Must-Buy for anyone who liked the first 2, or anyone into hardcore action shooters. There are 4 difficulty settings, ranging from Casual, to my personal favorite "Insane."

Serious Sam BFE is apparently only being released for Steam, and this is fairly aggravating. Looks like I won't be playing any super-crazy out-of-control madness of an awesome FPS this year.

As for Skyrim, I've put more hours into the game than I want to mention. I have maxed out my main character's stats legitimately, and I have completed a digusting amount of quests. My second character has done most of the game, and everything that my main character was unable to do due. Things that unable to do because of glitches that prevented certain quests/items/NPCs/etc to perform their required tasks or "trigger" appropriately.

I have put so many hours into Skyrim that I fear it can be described as an addiction, but I still enjoy every moment of the game. There are still times where I perch myself high atop a mountain peak, after straining for what seems to be hours to strategically climb my way up every crevice and cliff, and I stare at the world around me, or the aurora high above my head in the night sky.

In a short summary, I have played Skyrim for many hours, and I will continue to play for many more because, like its predecessor Oblivion, the game is never ending, and always satisfying to relax and play.