I’ve been playing the Walking Dead game from Telltale Games and I’ve decided that not only is this a pretty good game but I’m also learning life lessons. A big part of the game is making decisions about what to do. It is a strongly story based game.
I’m hot and cold on the game. Sometimes it is really fun and the story is gripping, but at other times the mechanics feel cumbersome and I get frustrated.
I am learning thought the game that some decisions are the right decision outside the game also.
At one point I decided to remain loyal to a little girl who saved my life. It seems to be the right thing in the game, but the fact of the matter is that in real life being loyal to someone because they saved your life ends up not always being the right thing to do. This is the kind of decision that the player has to make. These aren’t simple decisions that don’t matter. These are decisions that have to be made, mostly in a certain order, and they affect the game as it plays out.
The last thing we need is drama out there…
Reviewed for Xbox 360
Rating: 7 out of 10
Dragon’s Dogma is a pretty good game. I’ll cut right to the chase – the game is good, not great, the open world is fun to explore, characters are fun to level up and build out inventories, but overall the game just doesn’t feel quite polished. Yes, it’s fun to fight wolves. And yes, it annoys the hell out of me to hear one of my pawns yell “Master, wolves travel in packs” after we’ve killed them all.
The story begins with your character being naught but a humble fisherman, or fisherwoman. A big dragon comes and kills an awful lot of people. You attack it. For some reason the dragon knocks you down to the ground and stands over you saying something in Latin – and then plucks your heart out. When you wake up, it is explained to you that you are now an Arisen and your job is to combat evil since you’re by far the most powerful human in the land.
One innovative aspect to Dragon’s Dogma is the use of the “pawn” system. Essentially, the world is full of AI partners for you to command to join your party. They pawns fight independently – it’s true, just watch them charge past you to engage an enemy you’re trying to avoid – and also respond, albeit somewhat loosely, to your commands. Commands, accessed by pressing the d-pad, consist of “go”, “come”, and “help me”. I personally found “go” to be the best command so I could send the fodder forward while I hung back and shot the enemy with my bow. Supposedly the pawns learn from you, but in my 20 hours of game play I didn’t really see any behavior from the pawns that I could refer to as learned. What they are very good at is filling the world (and the screen, of which the readout can be turned off) with insipid statements like “Duh, that castle looks so big from afar” and “Many a citizen has met an unfortunate death by falling from a great height”. There is no end to how many times they’ll repeat the same thing; annoyingly many times it is a useless color comment. This can’t be turned off. The closest you can get to turning it off is to turn off all voices and then turn off pawn transcripts.
The pawns are pretty helpful and it is a cool idea to be able to swap them in and out depending on your mission. Players utilizing Xbox LIVE® or PlayStation®Network, can rent out their main Pawn companion to friends as temporary secondary Pawns in those parties. Whatever experience is gained by the rented Pawn on these excursions is brought back in the form of strategic knowledge and even loot. Conversely, players can borrow friends’ Pawns with the specific skills or experience beneficial to tackling a particular quest. A Facebook and Twitter compatible photo share feature allows players to capture in-game screens in order to promote the use of their main Pawn by others. Additionally, Dragon’s Dogma will ship with thousands of ready-made Pawns for players to pick their allies offline.
I’m not sure that I approve of Dragon’s Dogma’s graphics. Admittedly, this game is not pretending to be visually stunning. And there are some vistas that are quite pretty, especially if you’re watching the sun rise or set. But this game does not have good graphics, collision detection is way off (I like walking through trees and walls), and items mysteriously appear on screen. I find the last aspect particularly distressing. I turn a corner and look down a hall. There’s nothing there. And yet, when I walk down the hall the air shimmers and baddah-bing baddah-boom there’s a big pile of crates that look like they were there the whole time.
In some ways playing Dragon’s Dogma was a little tedious, but to be fair I do find most of these RPGs a bit tedious. The fetch quests and the stupid annoying enemies sometimes made me want to just put down the controller and walk away. For now I think the fun outweighs the tedium, but that might change at some point. It always feels like the game is just about to get good, like all the elements are almost in place, but it’s a tease, at least up until now which is about 15 hours into the game.
I mean, does the average gamer really want to run around and pick flowers while fighting spiders and seagulls? I would rather fight something that I don’t get to fight in my daily life.
This is one area where Dragon’s Dogma doesn’t disappoint; the bigger, badder enemies and the bosses are pretty fun to fight. In some ways I’m reminded of Shadows of the Colossus as the monsters are big and require a number of steps to defeat. For example, I fought a hydra where I had to defeat each head instead of simply whacking away at the enemy wherever I pleased. It is very cool that I can jump up on an enemy and hang on it, like to jump up on an ogre’s shoulders to stab and it in the head. Or my personal favorite, mounting a cow and then slitting its throat to get its steak for nourishment.
There’s a lot to explore in Dragon’s Dogma and there’s a lot to like. Unfortunately, there’s also some (not a lot) to not like. It’s also important to remember that I’m typically bored by these RPGs. And bored by Dragon’s Dogma I am. However, if you’re an RPG-lover, and maybe you are or you wouldn’t be reading this, then there’s enough here for you to have fun with for hours and hours.
And yes, I know this is a mixed review.
Title: Heavy Rain
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Format: PS3 BluRay Disc
HD Format: 720p
ESRB Rating: M
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
In a city somewhere on the US east coast (at times it reminds me of NYC, other times of Boston), young boys are kidnapped, only to be found three days later, drowned in rain water, with an origami figure on their chests. Such shenanigans have been going on for over a year. Twelve boys have been taken. Creepy clowns and kooky carousels abound. What can a father do to keep his son safe? Or as the mysterious killer says, “How far would you go to save your son?”
Such is the premise of Quantic Dream’s newest PS3 title, Heavy Rain. There is some history here as this is the krackerjack developer that brought us Indigo Prophecy roughly five years ago. So we’re talking about a development house with a strong reputation for high production values and compelling story lines. In those respects, Heavy Rain does not disappoint. Playing this game is like stepping into a movie where you can pick what happens. It’s sort of like a choose your own adventure for PS3.
The story is complex and it sucked me in. It was like I started to play and thought it was boring and then all of a sudden it was four hours later and time for bed. The emotion of the game comes along and sweeps you away. Which is a good thing, but it’s important to understand that this game is not for everyone. If you’re looking for a thrill-a-minute romp then look elsewhere. If you are looking for a deep dark emotional and frightening story, then this is it.
This is a psychological crime thriller that has its moments where it is simply beautiful and purely gripping. You play as four separate characters: Ethan Mars, an architect whose sone has been kidnapped; Scott Shelby, a private investigator; Jayden Norman, and FBI Agent, and some really hot chick who ends up being more important than you think she’ll be named Madison Paige. The only thing you’ll remember about this last woman is that when playing as her you get to soap up your breasts in the shower, take a tinkle in the toidy, and strip for a pimp. These are mature themes that will definitely grab your attention. The four story-lines intertwine and play off of each other which is very cool.
The game starts in a sort of happy and almost mundane level. You’re Ethan Mars and you work from home. The fun includes getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and walking down stairs. It’s really a tutorial level just to learn how to control the game. The highlight of the first level is setting the table. I’m not kidding. And, for some odd reason, you are using your mother-in-law’s china to set the table for your 8 year old’s birthday party. Who in their right mind would do that? So these plates are being used at a kiddie party but if you set the table too fast your wife freaks out.
Then next level involves the family going to the mall. This is where I have to be critical of the game, very critical. In order to keep the story on track, you are forced to navigate through a finite set of choices in a heavily scripted sequence. And bang, your son gets hit by a car and dies.
The screen fades to black. The world is bleak, sad, miserable. You, Ethan, are miserable. The world is gray. It’s two years later and no one wants to talk to you, especially your son Shaun. Your wife left you. Apparently you are too stupid to take care of yourself or anyone. And frustration creeps in when you realize that the character is a moron. One son has died and this guy can’t even watch his other son when he plays. And then I realized that this is not an open world. This is not freedom of choice. This is very far from something like Grand Theft Auto. The game is on rails with the illusion of being open. It seems to me that forcing me to do some things and giving me 2 choices for something mundane is not an “interactive story”. This is very much like a graphical Zork, an old-style text game that presented you with some choices and was written as a bunch of if-then statements. Same thing but with more graphics. I also want to know why everyone has called this game beautiful when it is a paltry 720p. What is the point of the PS3 being 1080p if first party titles can’t even be high def?
As you play through the game it gets better. It gets better in terms of controls and choices along with the story roping you in emotionally and psychologically. Choices start to matter. During a liquor store robbery I tried to sneak up behind the felon but I couldn’t so I had to reason with him. Some things in this game outright pissed me off. For example, while you are playing the FBI agent, a suspect pulls a gun on the local cop who is your partner. You have the suspect dead to rights. I warned him three times to drop the weapon and then I shot him. That is how I would handle the situation. If I had to repeat the level 100 times I would do that 100 times. No way I would warn someone to put his gun down and then let him continue to point it at my partner. And then Heavy Rain tells me I’ve done it wrong. Very frustrating.
Yet I kept getting sucked back in. The story is that good. I have to hand it to writer, director, and studio head David Cage at Quantic Dream. Frustrated as I was, I needed to find out who the origami killer was. I really did. I kept playing until the end and I enjoyed it.
Heavy Rain is a solid game of this genre. It is an emotional roller coaster, not a thrill a minute romp.
Developer: Raven Software
Publisher: Activision Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: May 2009
$59.99 (PLAYSTATION 3, Xbox 360)
$39.99 (Games for Windows PC, PSP, PLAYSTATION 2)
ESRB Ratings: “M” for Mature for intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I have to admit that most of the time I feel that as a rule movie games are uninspired. Face it, the emphasis is more on generating a supporting upsell for a successful movie. But every once in a while, someone actually tries to make a good movie game. X-Men Origins Wolverine is one of those games.
It is downright fun to play. The battles are lightning fast and more than frenetic. I found myself lunging, diving, blocking, countering with ease once I got the hang of the controls. You fall into a rhythm of targeting, evading, and attacking in a natural pattern. So it feels good to slice foes heads off, throw them off bridges or cliffs where they plummet to their deaths, or my personal favorite which was to dive towards an enemy, grab him, and throw him onto some sharp part of the environment. It is very cool that your kill stats are saved in your profile. I always love seeing a chronicle of my killing.
The game is inspired by the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine that came out in May 2009. The story is written by the same Marvel Wolverine comic book writer, Mark Guggenheim, who has told the tale of Wolverine for years. The games is the story of Logan’s transformation from human to Wolverine. There are almost two intertwining stories, like a flash forward and a flash backward, that you play through.
Sony Computer Entertainment
“E” for Everyone
Rating: 8 out of 10.
When Sony first showed me Patapon in December, I didn’t know what to make of it. Firstly, it’s rhythmic, and I love rhythmic games. It’s a side scroller, not a plus in my book. But it is cute, very cute. If you’re not a lover of cute, then maybe you’ll find the art interesting – it was designed by the popular French graphic artist, Rolito and the 2D art involves catchy abstract shapes, and colorful environments.
The principle of game play is that you have to lead the Patapons through a series of epic battles against opposing armies and gigantic monsters. You control the Patapons by pushing buttons that make drumbeats and send commands like march, attack, and defend. There are six different drumbeats that are combinations of X, O, box, and triangle. For example, circle, circle, box, circle might mean charge. You have to push the buttons in time to the background music, which is also in time to the action. If you chain a bunch of commands together, then you unlock a special mode where your attacks do more damage.
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Irrational Games
Rated M for Mature
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review by Matt Congdon
There are a few rare games out there that force you to play them; once you lay down that cash, you’re sucked in until you finish. Sure, many games have great stories (Final Fantasy X), and some have great game play (God of War), but few combine both into something so special that you just can’t quit. One such title this year that shouldn’t be missed any adult gamer looking for a bit of adventure.. The game creates an intriguing story, but it’s the gameplay that makes the story come alive. Too many games these days have stories that aren’t connected with the actual gameplay, but rather just feature boring cut scene movies–which the typical ADD gamer (such as myself) doesn’t really like to sit through. Bioshock’s story is delivered mostly through audio, which is transmitted to you via radio, so you’re listening to the story while shooting, dismembering and electrocuting baddies through Bioshock’s Levels.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Here’s an interesting debate. Matt C. feels that Halo 3 should not be judged harshly just because it is a sequel. In his words, “If it weren’t a sequel and were a free standing game, then it would definitely get a 5.” In some ways, he’s right. But, looking at it the other way, I (Matt S.) think that Halo the first really kicked ass, then Halo 2 was really good but still just more of the same, and now Halo 3 is literally just more of the same and very short. I was disappointed. Sure, it’s a great game, but there isn’t really any innovation.
What do you think? Is Halo 3 everything it was cracked up to be? Or is it just a few more maps that should be downloaded for free for Halo 2 owners?
Leave a comment and let us know.
Review by Matt Congdon
What is perhaps the most anticipated game ever was finally released. After a staggering 1.7 million presales, Halo 3 is finally in the consumer’s hands. If I had to review this game in one word, it would be “solid.”
Halo 3 is very much a sequel, which you should expect when first playing it. I was so full of anticipation that I was almost disappointed with my first Xbox Live match. But I grew to love Halo 3. The guns are sick, the environments are beautiful, and the game play is even more addicting than before.
For this sequel, Bungie has included new gadgets called “equipment.” It’s is a blast to fool around with, and can actually can come in handy once in a while. Gravity Lifts are great for sniper games, giving you a better vantage point. Trip mines are work well in levels with a lot of vehicles–Vahalla, for example–and Bubble Shields can help you out in a pinch;,they are spherical shield which surrounds you, where neither gunfire nor grenades can enter or leave but people and vehicles can. This allows you to get creative with your killing[s] and try out a few new things.. A clever man could turn a flamethrower and a bubble shield into a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie BBQ, just set it and forget it! Some equipment is pretty pointless, though–for example, the Regenerator (your shields regenerate regardless). But mostly, these gadgets make every online game unique.