Gears of War Judgement Review

Platform: X360 Publisher:  Microsoft Developer:  People can Fly, EPIC Games
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: Third Person Shooter Rating: M

During the launch of Gears of War back in November of 2006 I had bought the Limited Edition of Gears of War on launch day.  I had no clue what it was but the commercial with Mad World had enticed me and had immediately received a fan for its art and mystery.  Since then I have read the books, played the original trilogy, and logged over a thousand hours into this franchise. However Gears of War: Judgement did not get the same attention from me as I was not interested. EPIC Games was no longer the developer, Marcus Fenix was no longer a character, and the game seemed to be going in a completely new direction.  Now I bring to you “An Unbiased Review” of Gears of War: Judgement.

This is a story about Baird, the mouthy intelligent mechanical genius and COG Soldier that has partnered with Marcus Fenix for three games.  Baird is accompanied by the familiar (Now not so familiar) face that is Cole Agustus the Thrashball star, Paduk, and Sofia.  The game takes place years before Delta Squad and at this time Baird’s story tells exactly how he was demoted from Lieutenant by a recollection of flashbacks from all four characters in a court room.   It baffles me that a world as big as Sera, and a 15 year span of the Locust from E-Day, why this topic exactly?  Not only does the fans not care about this particular story, but we would have much preferred a story that could have told so much more.  Not to say the story is bad because at times it can be interesting.  And with the newest enemy, “General Karn” it adds an element of fear that the original General RAAM had shown.  Or at least until the end. It does allow for some funny dialogue and gives you a greater view of Baird’s sarcastic character.  Not that you really learn anything knew about him, because you really don’t.  It is exactly how I explained previously.  You learn about his demotion.  No more, no less.  The story became uninteresting and uninspired.  Luckily EPIC Games also made an extra story for Judgement.  The story about Baird and Cole’s adventure that takes place during Gears of War 3.  Not only was it more interesting but overall the campaign was setup better in Aftermath as well.  So for the hardcore Gears fans out there, if you really are interested in Baird give the game a shot, but don’t expect to be blown away like you was with the previous Gears trilogy.

Like the Gears of War trilogy Judgement is a third person shooter, and a great one at that.  The cover is nice and fluid, running, shooting, and everything you want from a Third person shooter is there.  They did make a few changes like the Tac Com is now down on the D-Pad, switching weapons is the Y button, and you can now throw grenades with LB.  This was all out of bad decisions.  Because of these 3 decisions you lose your 3rd weapon, the pistol.  The tac com is now in an odd location instead of useful and because grenades can be thrown at any time now, they become spammed in multiplayer (Since you start with them).  Though I will admit the grenades were at great use in the campaign.  People can Fly also made a few changes with the overall layout of Gears of War’s campaign.  Instead of going corridor to corridor attacking grubs and locusts from flanking directions, you now have tactical missions you can do.  Each mission is optional but brings different strategies to each battle.  Some may want you to finish a mission in a specific time frame while others may want you to beat a mission with only a pistol.  This brings a great variety to the game while also bringing out the competitive side to you.  Why?  Because with each mission you get a score that you can compete with your friends.  Oddly enough they also brought horde mode to the campaign.  Plenty of missions makes you setup a base and defend against waves of locusts.  Some of these are quite hard.  The added guns like Breach Shot, Markza, and grenade launcher also made for a nice addition to the game.  Even though they may have went a little overboard on precision weapons and made a few changes that could possibly have been the wrong decision, at Gears of War’s core it is still the best 3rd person shooter.  The only problem is, it isn’t the best Gears of War game or Gears shooter.

Gears of War has been known to be the full package with both a great single player and a good multiplayer so People can Fly has had to fill some pretty big shoes.  Coop of course is a blast with up to five members being able to play at once during the story line.  This game is made for coop gameplay and really adds a new element of gameplay with it.

On the other side Judgement made so many mistakes on the competitive side.  They have completely changed the format of Gears of War’s multiplayer that had made it so popular.  You now have your reticule on screen the entire time, start out with grenades, able to pick out your starting weapons which includes the Markza (completely useless), and they got rid of the locust.  So now instead of easily being able to tell the difference from each team you have to really focus to tell the difference from friend or foe.  Not to mention they got rid of downs, so no more reviving.  Meleeing is super-fast, but weaker.  Still welcome back two piecing.  The shield can be paired with any weapon making for an over-powered combo.  The lancer is back to being under-powered with no slow down damage.  Just rush with your gnasher now.   And now you have random spawns for a chaotic game rather than a game that is built around strategy and map control. The multiplayer competitively can be fun, but is also a mess.  This can also be the reason that less than 1000 people was playing today at a given time.

On the positive side the brand new overrun mode is a fantastic game mode.  This allows the Locust go against the COG soldiers in a tower defense like game.  If you are the locust you will need to manage your points intelligently to buy new locusts to tear down their defenses.  You can be a Kantus, Grub, wretch, Mauler, and even a Rager which is a new enemy.  The Rager is similar to a berserker but is Male.  It also is able to use a gun but when he gets mad he transforms into a savage beast. The COG on the other hand has different classes much like Team Fortress 2.  You can be a grenadier and spawn your team ammo, a Mechanic expert to restore defenses, or even a sniper.  This game is great over all and aids horde mode.  Instead the horde is real life enemies.

Analysis

Gears of War: Judgement ends up being a good experience overall but has too many mistakes in it for Gears of War fans.  While Overun is a great game mode paired off with great gameplay, coop, horde mode, and an overall great looking game.  It lacks in both story and competitive multiplayer.  Something the Gears fans has grown to love.  The story came off as tacked on and the competitive multiplayer is a complete mess and I would recommend any of the other Gears of War games before buying Judgement.

Story 6.5
Gameplay 8.5
Third Person Shooter Genre 8.5
Graphics 8.5
Multiplayer 7.5
Overall 7.9

 

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Thomas was Alone Review

Platform: PC/PS3 Publisher: Mike Bithell Developers: Bossa Studios, Curve Studios
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: Puzzle Platformer Rating: E

Never would I have thought that I would be reviewing a game about blocks that jump up and down in the year of 2013, let alone playing such a game.  Not only that, but how shockingly engaging this title is.

In “Thomas was Alone” you are literally a block that can jump platform to platform.  It is such an interesting take on games because the block named Thomas has a personality.  See Thomas was a block that was not too tall, not to short, he could jump an average distance, but not too far.  Thomas was lonely and wished for friends.  Then came along Chris, a block that was short and could not jump high.  Thomas needed to help Chris achieve higher locations and Thomas felt he was holding him back, he did not like Chris.  This is how the story is told.  With a great dialogue that not only gives each block in the game a personality, but it actually pushes you through every level and chapter of the game.  You want to know what happens to Thomas, Chris, John, and all of the other characters in the game. Whether it is the witty humor or the unfolding of the story this game proves that you can make a great character out of anything whether it be a few pixels or one million pixels.  Oddly the dialogue is engaging, artistic, and a one of a kind.  We talk about Journey and Flower but move over because Thomas was Alone joins these highly praised games.  The only problem came near the end of the game as you learn more about Thomas’s world.  As things start to change it loses a sense of development that you grew to love in the game.  Not that you won’t like what happens in the ending sequences of the game, it just was not near as engaging as what lead to it but also wrapped up the story for an overall great story told as if in a children’s storybook.

Each character in the game has different abilities and different shapes so you will need to use the whole team of blocks to complete each level.  Chris is short so he can slide into locations to press buttons that others couldn’t reach where as John is tall and athletic and can reach the highest locations.  The other blocks will climb on each other and assist each other to make it up each stair on a specific level to reach the end where each block has to fit in their own unique finish.  Some blocks can jump high, some low, some can swim, and some can be used as trampolines. The jumping can be a little stiff at time with your odd sliding squares and it can be annoying at times with the wonky physics or the aggravating way to switch back and forth from character to character, but the game isn’t hard either so it isn’t as if you will be back tracking much.  As I just stated the game is not really challenging in the sense of a platformer, but the puzzles will at least give you room to think in the game, even if not for long.  While the gameplay is not revolutionary or superb, the unique attributes of each block and the puzzles still leave something to be desired.  And the dialogue makes up for every flaw this game has.  Even the graphics which is simple is not by any means ugly either.

Analysis

This was a shockingly great game and the experience cannot be explained.  Much like Journey this is something that I believe you need to play on your own.  It may not be a game that you go bragging to your friends about for the gameplay or graphics but the story and the character progression is better than a lot of AAA games that we are given today. With 100 levels and a great story I would recommend this to anybody.  If you are lucky you may even be able to pick this game up on the Steam sale for less than $5.

Gameplay 7.5
Dialogue/Story 9.5
Presentation 7
Puzzle Platformer 8
Overall 8
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Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Platform: 3DS Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Monster Games
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: 2D Platformer Rating: E

In 1994 Rare released one of the greatest platformers not only of the current time, but all time, Donkey Kong Country.  16 years later Retro Studios has taken over the Donkey Kong Country license and has released the much anticipated Donkey Kong Country Returns.  It was both appraised and flawed for its motion controls and now in 2013 Monster Games rereleased this game on the 3DS without the motion controls.  Does it truly help this game or does the original hold its head high?

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D starts off with a volcano eruption which awakens the Tiki Tak Tribe.  These are new enemies unlike the Kremlins that Rare had made popular back in 1994.  The new enemies hypnotize animals to fight for them and steal all of DK and Diddy Kong’s bananas in the process.  Somehow DK is immune to being hypnotized and decides to go for revenge on the Tiki Tak Tribe.

Donkey Kong revolves around four mechanics.  Rolls, jump, blow, and ground & pound.  Ground & pound can be used to shatter the ground below you, blow is used to blow flowers, fans, etc, and roll & jump can be combined for a lengthy jump that the more core gamers will become accustomed to.  The controls are tight, fluid, and asks for some great precision throughout the game.  Especially on some of the harder maps.  And there is a lot of these. I will say that before the game starts it asks for you two chose between two different modes.  Original or New.  Original offers two hearts while new offers three.  I played on original as I wanted the more challenging mode.  The superb map design is really what makes this game what it is.  You may be riding on whale while pirates are shooting at you, running through an open sunset while a volcanic eruption is behind you, or swinging through vines in a jungle landing on platforms that shatter below your feet.  Diddy Kong also aids you in your journey and has a few custom abilities his self which I will mostly explain in the multiplayer section.  In the single player he rides on DK’s back and uses his jetpack to help you time your jumps a little more precisely, or making it that extra inch for a long jump.

There is also a wide array of enemies.  Tiki Taks, chickens, jumping balls of fire, and much more.  It seems they introduce you to a few new types of enemies in each world.  Bosses at the end of each world also will have you in for a treat as each one needs to be defeated differently.  And with eight worlds ranging from a beach, jungle, volcano, factory, and more you will never feel as if the game is being repetitive.  You can also collect the KONG letters for an added dimension of the game but you never feel like you have to go out of your way for them for the game to be difficult either.  They do unlock a secret world at the end of the game making for a 9th world to continue this great game.

There is also maps that include a rail cart which gave me more difficulty than any other type of map due to the trial and error type of gameplay that these add.  They are still a joy but they tend to be a lot of things that pop out of nowhere leading to your death for you to have to restart.  Just note that you need to jump there next time.  Also the levels with a barrel rocket probably was my least favorite levels.  They also add enjoyment but they didn’t seem to hold up compared to the rest of the game.  A fan favorite Rambi the rhino also makes a return in this game in a few levels.  This definitely will take the old-school fans on a nostalgic ride.  It would have been nice if they also would have added a few other of the old group back such as Winky the Frog or Sqauwks the parrot (who was in the game as a non-playable character).

In general the game is an overall great game thanks to the brilliant level design, great character design, and tight controls.  It could fix a few things here and there but nothing that hinders the game from being great either.

The multiplayer adds to the game by letting you and one other friend play together.  One player can be Donkey Kong and the other can be Diddy Kong.  Diddy offers different abilities than DK so it does offer a different side of the game for player 2 than it does for player 1.  Diddy can shoot his pop gun (Peanut Shooter), glid through the air, and does cartwheels instead of rolls.  This is actually really cool but the multiplayer does really do anything else to actually want you to play it.  It is great if you have one other friend who wants to play but it also appears to be a better single player game as you don’t have to wait for your partner and vice versa.  Nintendo did add online multiplayer for this game though so this can only be a plus and very happy to see this.  It may not be the best ever but fun can be had in this mode as well.

The first thing you will notice about this game is the beautiful art style that it boasts.  The worlds range and variety gives your eyes a treat over and over again.  The 3D also was used in a phenomenal way with the background having a lot of great animations like cannonballs shooting at you or a tidal wave clashing against the rocks.  The only game that beats this game is possibly Kid Icarus: Uprising.  This game is beautiful in every way from the lush colors to the great character designs. The audio is also superb and offers that nostalgic feel to the old school fans.  It also is recognized as some of the best all time game music so it can still be considered just that even 19 years from the original release.

Analysis

Overall the game is challenging, fun, and beautiful.  The only flaws that I can truly point out is that the game sometimes offers cheap deaths through trial and error, the barrel rocket wasn’t particularly the best it could have been, and it could have used more of the old characters for even more variety.  Considering that the game was already vastly ranged this is only a minor hope for the future instalment and I can truly say that this was a fantastic reboot to the franchise.  The multiplayer is not something I would buy this game for but the single player is a joy through and through.

Single-Player 9
Multi-Player 7.5
2D platformer 9
Artstyle/Audio 9.5
Overall 8.8
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New Super Mario Bros U Review

Platform: WiiU Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo EAD
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: 2D Platformer Rating: E

Back in November 2012 I decided to purchase the WiiU along with New Super Mario Bros U.  Now here I am eight months later finally writing my review so either this game is like the longest 2D platformer in the world or something else happened.  In this review I will try to paint you a better picture to explain this or just skip to the analysis.

New Super Mario Bros launched on the Nintendo DS seven years ago and since then we have received New Super Mario Bros (Wii), New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS), and now New Super Mario Bros U (WiiU).  And while these games are a beast when it comes to software sold, does the game actually improve from the previous installments in the series?  In New Super Mario Bros U once again Peach gets kidnapped by apparently the wizardly Bowser who somehow manages to steal away the flamboyant Peach from the Mushroom Kingdom yet again.  And once again Mario has to set out on a journey to smash goombas, eat mushroom and other assorted powerups, and defeat the eight koopa kids in eight different worlds to reach Bowser at his castle to rescue Peach. Mario does find a new power-up this time around, the Acorn Mushroom.  This powerup is very similar to the Tanooki Tail but instead of tapping a button to float around now Mario can glide just by holding a button, grab on to walls without failure, and by shaking the gamepad Mario can reach the highest points in the game.  While it is a neat addition to the game it also makes New Super Mario Bros U relatively easy when in fact the game was already easy in the first place.  I kept waiting for one of the eight worlds that I went to give me some kind of challenge, any kind of challenge!  It never happened.  I finished the game with a solid 90+ lives.  With having no challenge I never got engaged in this game.  Instead I basically breezed through each world waiting for something better in the next when it just never happened.  But wait Mario does have bosses.  The same bosses that we met decades ago where you jump on a mini koopa’s head three times to kill them.  They did however throw a few different bosses at you for some kind of variation but unfortunately they all followed the same formula of jumping on their heads three times without much challenge. At the end of the day it is the same Mario games that you have grown to love with tight controls and quick jumps but without challenges or even an attempt to mix up things a bit it becomes a bit repetitive and uninspiring.

The multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros once again is the main draw of the game.  The co-op is a lot of fun with 2-5 players playing at once on the same screen.  You can either play as Mario, Luigi, or a Toad to smash goombas or kill each other clumsily in the process. You will get laughs, fun, and at times people may even get angry at each other in the process of all the chaos amidst the screen.  They give you a new character as well that I like to consider as “Game God”.  The 5th person is able to use the gamepad to build blocks for you by tapping the gamepad’s screen to either help you achieve your goal or spam the screen killing you before you make the next jump.  Sadly the co-op makes the game more challenging which is what the game needs most in the first place.  The thing that really hurts the multiplayer side of things is the fact that you cannot play online.  This game was released in 2012 and somehow Nintendo leaves out online multiplayer?  Not everybody constantly has people over to play co-op so this can only be a fault for not giving you an option.  Xbox Live released in 2002 so Nintendo has had 10 years to implement a proper online service and catch up so there is no more excuses for these type of things.

The art style of Mario is crisper than ever but it is nothing groundbreaking either.  Something that will appeal to almost anybody and everybody with the catchy music that we grew up to love in the 90s is back whether it be Mario’s voice, music, or even a 1up.  The game brings back nostalgia.  Unfortunately we have already had our nostalgia kick back in 2006, 2009, and again in 2012 so this turned out to just be another Mario rather than something that took me back to when I was a kid.

Analysis

I bought the WiiU for this game and many others so of course I really wanted to like this game.  It just didn’t come out that way.  It isn’t creative, it is uninspiring,  and with a low difficulty level.  Nothing draws me to this game other than the fact that it is Mario sidescroller that always performs at a high level.  So for 2D Mario fans this is great but don’t expect a challenge for you more experienced players.  There is fun to be had in co-op or in short bursts but I can’t say that this is something that I thoroughly enjoyed either.  With the market being over saturated with these Mario platformers in the previous years I vote for them to give him a 2D break.

Single-Player 7
Multi-Player 7.5
2D Platformer 8.5
Art Style 8
Overall 7.8
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Bioshock Infinite Review

Platform: X360/PS3/PC Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Irrational Games
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: First-Person Shooter Rating: Mature

Six years ago we received a game by the name of Bioshock that would take you through the memorable underwater world that is Rapture. Now in the world of Bioshock Infinite we will be taking another adventure through Columbia the flying city.

In Bioshock Infinite is set in 1912 and you are a man by the name of Booker Dewitt.  The only thing you know is that you are going to this flying city to rescue a girl named Elizabeth to wipe your debt.  You don’t know Booker’s backstory or what debt he is talking about.  Much of this is told throughout the game of Bioshock Infinite but unlike most games there is no cut scenes what so ever.  It is all told by conversations with characters, collectables and recordings you find, and even the city it’s self.  You can view posters and even learn about the characters and world.  Which oddly the world plays a huge role in the character’s as well.  Another thing that should be noted is the character of Elizabeth.  The game would not even be half as good if it wasn’t for the life like character of Elizabeth.  Whether she is sad, angry, or happy you can tell just from how she is reacting whether it be voice or animations.  She will even relax against walls or sit on benches if you are standing still.    With all this said I actually figured out what was going on about half way to two thirds of the game.  I was expecting some huge twist in the game to happen somewhere but it never surprised me in anyway.  The story was told well enough and gave you enough clues and hints to what was really going on well before the final scenes of the game.  This left me underwhelmed and confused at the same time.  The confusing part is that Elizabeth has some super natural power to tear new dimensions into the world.  They never really explained how she got this power and a few other loose ends in the game but it will have you thinking throughout the game and use your mind.  Even after the credits are rolling you will look back on the story trying to figure out certain things.  The story didn’t exactly blow me away but the original take on Bioshock Infinite was also refreshing in a way that I cannot explain.

As much as Colombia the Flying City is interesting and beautiful.  The characters pop and the story is told through the city, the gameplay falls short in so many ways and throws new spins to a genre that desperately needs new takes.  Bioshock Infinite is a First Person Shooter but brings some unique gameplay styles to separate its self from other FPS games.  Elizabeth not only can open new dimensions for the story but she can also create objects for you in the midst of a battle.  She can give you cover, maneuvering abilities with hooks, a turret, or even spawn you a crate full of weapons.  She also helps in other ways like throwing you ammunition, med kits, or salt packs to regain vigor.  While this allows you to not have to search for ammo and such things as much, it can also be exploited easily.  Just find a powerful weapon and use it nonstop.  Don’t worry, Elizabeth will find you more missiles randomly.  Speaking of vigors previously, vigors are back from Bioshock 1&2.  This time however, you do not have to stab yourself with a needle and shoot up.  Now you just drink the vigor for new powers.  There is eight different vigors that ranges from Crows to lightning.  This adds a new dynamic to the game and can be a lot of fun at times.  Unfortunately the shooting mechanics and guns was not near as fun.  While it was certainly not bad the artificial intelligence in the enemies was dull and boring giving you no real challenges.  They basically did one of two things.  Either run straight at you and try to melee you or run shortly and then stop and shoot.  This made things extremely easy without much strategy, something that FPS games needs to have.  They do have more than one enemy though and some of them can offer a decent challenge for you.  However when you do die, you just respawn immediately by either walking through a door or Elizabeth reviving you.  All the enemies you previously killed are still dead, the ones you didn’t just gets a little more health.  You also get more ammo and basically just run and gun again. The iron sites are also worthless.  You might as well just shoot from the hip the entire game because this guy is like a marksman.  I can kill a man across the map with a pistol in 3 shots easily.  When things are said and done Bioshock Infinite did bring some new things to the table but it didn’t really pefect the things that makes for a great FPS game either.

The one thing that draws people in for Bioshock is the beautiful world that Irrational Games crafts and once again Irrational Games pulled it off.  The world is beautiful, original, and you will want to view it.  From the people, the posters, and the way the City floats in the sky.  It is a stylized game so not everybody will enjoy this specific art style but I will say that there is one specific part of the game that just looked beautiful.  This involves a lighthouse if anybody knows what I am talking about.  The graphics may not viewed as the world’s best graphics, but the design of the city, Elizabeth, and the art style does set it’s self apart from every other game as its own.

Bioshock Infinite is a well-crafted game when it comes to story.  It is confusing at times and without viewing all the collectables you may even miss much of the story.  If you pay attention you may figure out what is going on before the final scenes but for such an original take I have to applaud Irrational games.  The gameplay could have been improved but either way I’d recommend this game simply off the beautiful world of Columbia.

Graphics/Artstryle 9
Story 9
Gameplay 8
FPS Genre 8
Overall 8.5
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The Last of Us Review

Platform: PS3 Publisher: Sony Developer: Naughty Dog
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: Survival/Horror Rating: Mature

Back in 2012 at Spike’s VGA we got a surprise reveal of Naughty Dog’s hidden little secret for over 2 years by the name if “The Last of Us.”  Immediately fans was going crazy over this stunning looking title and really who can blame them?  We are talking about possibly the best developer in the gaming industry.  The same developers that brought you Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, and Uncharted.  This title however separates it’s self from anything Naughty Dog has ever done before.  In fact it may have separated it’s self from what any game has ever done before.

The story is about a young girl at the age of 14 and a 40-50 year old man (Ellie and Joel) who are in a worldwide zombie apocalypse.  I will not tell you why they are together to avoid spoilers but the bond that these two characters hold is in my opinion the best thing in the entire game.  As the story opens up you are immediately drawn to the characters from the amazing intro of the game and you are glued to them until the final scene that leaves you utterly amazed from this game.  It sets the tone of this world in terror and despair.  Joel was maybe in his late 20’s, early 30’s when the infection first broke out but Ellie on the other hand was born into this world so it’s all she knows.  Some of the best conversations in the game is from her not knowing what the world was like before zombies have infected the world. And on one side you have Joel who is not a very likable character for the world around him has made him into a guy that you would not necessarily say is a good guy per say.  Then you have Ellie who seems to be care free and isn’t bothered by the world at all.  The mix of the two personalities plays out beautifully throughout the game.  They also act like real people with real emotions rather than people who are superheroes or godlike.  Throughout Joel and Ellie’s adventure you do meet many other characters, some likable, some not so much.  The thing about this game is your biggest threat is not Zombies, but it is other humans that have some interesting tactics to say the least to survive.  Because of this the mood is always tense when you first meet characters and you don’t necessarily trust anybody throughout the entire game.  “The Last of Us” is written out beautifully but unfortunately it suffers from a little predictability from many movies or shows you have seen.  I predicted probably about 70% of the key plot points from beginning to end and even when a guy is going to suddenly pop around a corner to grab you.  The one plot point that did shock me however was the ending.  To avoid spoilers though we will leave it at the story is amazing, brilliantly written, but unfortunately much of it is predictable.

Much like the story, the voice acting is brilliant.  There is nothing more that grabs my attention than great acting, and in “The Last of Us” I can honestly say that the voice acting blew me away.  To add to that the animations fit it perfectly and I don’t believe there is a game that has both better acting and voice acting from every single character in a game.  We are not only talking video game impressive, but Hollywood impressive.

Now when you take the story and the voice acting it automatically makes this game a must buy, but with every game you need good gameplay.  And this game brings it.  For the first time ever I can say I truly enjoyed a zombie game.  I have never been able to say that up until now.  Humans are the most dangerous things in the game and story, however for once zombies are in fact a threat as well and killed me dozens upon dozens of times.  There is different types of zombies that makes it interesting.  I won’t tell you all the types but I will tell you the two main ones.  Clickers and Runners.  Runners are the first stage of the infection.  They can see you from a distance and they will run straight at you to kill you.  They aren’t really difficult taking down when they are alone but in hordes they are highly dangerous and pretty scary.  Clickers is the 3rd stage of infected.  They have a fungus that has grown over there head to where they can no longer see.  However they can hear you and sense you nearby.  They are highly dangerous even by themselves due to the fact that one bite kills you.  You should be able to easily sneak by them though, however when clickers and runners are together then it is no longer easy because the runners will alert the clickers.  This leads to the most interesting dynamics of the gameplay, to where you need to sneak, kill silently, while also conserving ammo.  Ammo is extremely low on the game so always be on the looks out for supplies.  Speaking of supplies you can upgrade your weapons with supplies, craft med kit bandages, and even make bombs out of supplies you find.  Every time you are crafting though it is all in real time so make sure there is no enemies around or you may die.  Unfortunately “The Last of Us” isn’t always so thrilling and fun with the gameplay.  Humans are uninteresting at times because it becomes repetitive.  Sneak up behind somebody, choke them out, and move on.  On the other hand they are big threats so make sure to be smart before engaging an enemy.  The hand to hand combat is also pretty stunning looking.  And you can take bottles and bricks that you find on the ground to use as a weapon or throw to distract an enemy. Even though it can be fun at times, it also gets boring before the final scene of the game.  Also the numerous amount of puzzles can get a little derivative as well.  See Ellie can’t swim, however she is small so this adds a team mate ability in puzzles that I must stress is literally always the same puzzle, just in different environments.  If there is ever water there is always miraculously a wooden pallet to help Ellie swim that you need to retrieve or high ledges that you need to throw Ellie up so she can get you a ladder or a board.  These parts of the game gives you a nice mix of gameplay but were not necessarily the most fun or clever things in the world.  There is also a few glitches like doors not opening or unable to pick up ladders which you will have to restart checkpoints on these occasions to advance forward in the game.  Also your partners are practically invisible to enemies.  Dead serious I have had Ellie walk right in front of Zombies and humans and they act like she doesn’t even exist.   I’m talking two feet in front of them by the way. It takes you out of the immersion of the game in these occasions. None the less over all the gameplay is rather good at many moments in the game and conserving ammo while looking for supplies makes the gameplay immediately one of its own.

The Graphics in this game actually shows the PS3’s age.  As soon as I played “The Last Of Us” I noticed that the animations and character models was probably the best in any game for consoles to date.  On the other hand the world its self was not as beautiful.  It was still great looking, but not the best we have seen either. And the multiplayer is pretty dry in comparioson to the singleplayer. It is a stunning game still and the art-style is superb and how they captured nature taking over the world we once knew as civilization.  There is many moments in the game that will have you stop and stare at some of the scenery but it feels like most of the polygons was focused on the character models rather than the scenery which I will say paid off, but the scenery has been better in other games.

The multiplayer is a nice distraction for maybe a week or two but it was far from anything amazing.  It has a unique style to it by trying to throw in a survival/horror mix into a third person shooter multiplayer game.  Unfortunately the maps are rather dull and the multiplayer is also ugly compared to the single player.  The biggest flaw was the map designs.  My favorite playlist is “Survivor” where you have two teams pitted against each other 4vs4 with one life.  The problem was that when you first start the game off you pretty much only have two options, go left or right to a hallway that everybody ends up meeting at.  Personally my favorite class was the bow and arrow and I did enjoy myself, but I can’t brag about it either.  As you level up you get new gear and can customize your soldier.  “The Last of Us” also suffers from a few glitches as an example would be your character freezing up in multiplayer.  Not sure what was going on but I had to look up online to see if anybody else was having this problem and a few has.  I had to actually change routers completely to fix the problem.  My internet is fast enough for multiplayer and I have never had issues in any other game so this is a problem somewhere on Naughty Dog’s end.  To pari this off the weapons have little customization adn are rather weak.  The melee is broken paired off with a smoke-shiv combo you will be over-powered.  YOur choice is either use a shotty for the only reliable weapon due to the playstyle or shoot people over and over with weak weapons. Either way the multiplayer can be fun but it is anything from being the best out there.

In the end Naughty Dog delivered an amazing game that could very well possibly be the game of the year.  If Naughty Dog hasn’t already proven they are one of the best game developers this game will show you why they are considered one of the best if not the best game developers in the industry.  It is a must buy game for the superb story, Hollywood voice-acting, great gameplay, and a multiplayer that you can enjoy for a while.

Story 10
Voice-Acting 10
Gameplay 9
Multiplayer 7.5
Graphics 9
Survival Horror 9.5
Overall 9.2
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God of War Ascension Review

Platform: PS3 Publisher: Sony Developer: Santa Monica Studios
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: Action/Adventure Rating: Mature

Back in 2005 Sony and Santa Monica released one of the biggest and most epic beat em up games of all time with the original God of War.  Since then Sony has released many more in the series including God of War 2, God of War 3, Ghost of Sparta, Chains of Olympus, and multiple God of War collections.  Now Sony and Santa Monica is going to take one last crack at God of War on the PS3 with the much anticipated prequel God of War: Ascension.  Seeing as the series has been dubbed amazing, fantastic, epic, and other words to show praise does this prequel continue God of War’s dominance with great gameplay and graphics?

God of War: Ascension is about Kratos’s tormented mind after the fact that he killed his family from the betrayal of Ares “The God of War.”  At this specific point in time Kratos is a mere mortal but is noticeably just as powerful as he was in every other installment, if not even more powerful at times.  It wouldn’t be a God of War game if Kratos wasn’t seeking some kind of revenge and yes in a way he is doing such things.  Instead of going after the gods though, in this greek mythology Kratos is after “The Furies.”  And while they made for nice opponents in the game they were neither interesting nor mind blowing.  In fact they were rather predictable with their green rings that would set off illusions in Kratos’s mind.  At the same time though, Kratos at least tried to show a more sensitive side to him……..Well kind of.  If that was the attempt I believe they failed at showing more than one emotion in Kratos as in Ascension he is blinded by rage more than anything.  This continues his one sided character of rage and fury (Interesting since he is after “The Furies”).  I’m glad that they tried to show some emotion with him at small parts in the game but at the end of the day he was still angry, let many innocent soldiers die horrifically, and was selfish by only focusing on his own goals. Even though his character continued to be one sided the story it’s self did not really add any depth to his character nor told us things we didn’t really already know.  It touched up on a few things but nothing really ground breaking.  I think the story could have been much better overall but for a God of War nut I could see this being great as well.  Depends on how big of a fan you are of Kratos.

The gameplay is pretty similar to any other God of War with a few new elements thrown in including a time shifting item.  You also can choose from different element blades to change your attacks up a bit.  The thing about this is that God of War III having different weapons entirely resulted in more ways to attack which resulted in better gameplay.  In God of War: Ascension while the elements add different elemental attacks and magic, it also was a step back from having different weapons.  None the less the gameplay was superb at times.  At other times it did nothing but aggravate me by changing the camera angles in awkward positions that would result in me getting lost in my foes or resulting in death.  The entire first 2 hours was filled with bad camera angles.  It does get better but it can be annoying at times. Also the platforming also has problems with the unkown of what to climb since for some odd reason Kratos can grab on to some things but others he just refuses to grab.  Just jump at invisible walls a times is what I ended up doing until I found what to climb. The puzzles in the game can be complicated and had me scratching my head at times but I did enjoy the change in pace of the game at times.  However I was not a huge fan of the time shifting puzzles.  While at times they did well with it, other times it just felt like filler by repairing a broken bridge or stairs.  The thing that aggravated me the most about this game was the increased difficulty.  I played it on normal and I swear it feels like it is on hard.  And no not in a good way.  There was points in this game that I just felt like quitting because the way they throw enemies at you just feels cheap at times.  At one point in the game I had to go against 4 enemies that has invincibility for short periods of time while fire is on one side and shifts while the middle panel falls below you while also having to kill 50 plus enemies.  I did stick with it hoping that would be the most annoying part but within the next hour there was an even tougher part.  When I heard other reviewers complaining about the difficulty and cheap gameplay I didn’t believe it because I’m good at games, so why would it annoy me……..Yeah I was wrong, I got annoyed.  Other than those occasions though the game is actually superb for short sprints in the game.  The consistency is just a little off.

The graphics is absolutely stunning.  It easily goes up to being one of the, if not the best looking console game to date.  Everything from Kratos’s skin, the character designs, the bosses, scenery, and the scale of the game is absolutely stunning.  I honestly have no complaints about the graphics in God of War: Ascension.  It is the best of the best, simple as that.

Overall the game has its moments where it shows glimpses of being great but in the end I found myself being irritated more than actually having fun whether it be because of the hords of enemies that they send at you or the horrible camera angles.  The graphics is stunning and at times it really does have great moments, I just wish they had more of them.  I feel that God of War: Ascension not only was a step back in the past for Kratos but also a step back for God of War.  I think if you want a stunning game or you are a huge God of War fan then definitely get this title but I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody new to the series.

Story 7.5
Gameplay 7.5
Beat Em Up 8
Graphics 10
Overall 8.3

 

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Dishonored Review

Platform:  X360/PS3/PC Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: Arkane Studios
Reviewer: JayWood2010 Genre: Action/Adventure/Stealth Rating: Mature


When you talk about some of the more supreme developers and publishers it seems that Bethesda makes the list almost every time and because of this Bethesda’s new game Dishonored from 2012 immediately hit many gamers radar.  But does it hit that prestigious mark that we have seen from Bethesda this generation like Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim?

Dishonored is about a man name Corvo Attono who has been framed of an assassination of the empress. After the assassination of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin Corvo is sentenced to death to finding himself escape prison with a little help by The Outsider who is a supernatural being.   The outsider gives Corvo supernatural powers to help him assassinate many leaders who has tried to overturn the kingdom.  The game is set in a futuristic world of what “The Plague” in London would be like.  And to jouney through different mansions and buildings to assassinate each and every character was an absolute thrill.  However the story it’s self was very lacking.  The story never really got me interested in any of the characters.  At one point in the game there was a bit of a twist which at least made the story somewhat interesting but in the end I could really care less about the characters or the story.  The story is interesting as we can take this alternate setting of “The Plague” and while the intro set the game up very nicely, after that the story was almost absent. Now while the story was not necessarily superb it is far from the reason on why this game is good.

The gameplay is where this game truly shines.  The freedom you have in this FPS stealth espionage is truly remarkable.  There is many ways you can decide to kill or spare a humans life.  That is right, you can go through the entire game without killing people.  You also don’t even have to assassinate your targets but find another way to neutralize the problem.  I found myself poisoning some victims with drinks, luring a woman to a cellar so I could kill her in cold blood, and completely sabotaging another by stealing an audio tape from his safe.  And the supernatural powers only pushes this even further.  You can slow time down, instantly transmit to one location to the next, possess rats and fish, or even shoot wind out of your hand.   Using these powers is beyond rewarding as there is no one way to do a mission.  There is countless ways.  If you want to go in guns blazing then you can.  If you want to be completely silent, maybe instant transmit to high locations.  What if guards are in the way?  Well posess a fish and swim through the drains to enter the mansion.  There is so many ways of killing or fleeing your enemies. There is also numerous different enemies including guards, dogs, people with the plague, rats, and walking mech like soldiers.  This will add many elements to the enemy sides and allows your cunning self to feel even more rewarded as you outsmart them.  With all that said I did find myself getting annoyed at times with the instant transmission (Blink) power.  It was a little annoying that sometimes you would not end up where you wanted to be and it would cause you an unnecessary death. This game fun, refreshing, and rewarding.

The graphics to Dishonored is a steampunk world that is unique but not necessarily satisfying to everybody who looks at it.  I know some people really like these stylized games but in the end I found it to be rather ugly.  I think the art style is good but at the same time kind of ugly.  This is also not mentioning the bad shading effects and low resolution textures in some places.  This does not mean that is is a bad game with art style or graphics though.  It just means that I don’t believe everybody will be drawn to this art style

Overall the game has it’s ups and downs.  While the story is rather mediocre at best with no real main draw the gameplay saves it in every aspect.  The artstyle is nothing that I would brag about but in the end it is also something that is unique and sets it apart from the rest just like the gameplay.  If you are into Stealth Espionage games I would highly recommend this game from the phenominal Bethesda Softworks.

Story 7
Gameplay 9
Artstyle 8
Action/Adventure/Stealth 9
Overall 8.3
Over

Overall – 8.3

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An Unbiased Review: Assassin’s Creed III

The much anticipated Assassin’s Creed III finally released after the long series of Ezio and Assassin’s Creed II.  Not only has the anticipation for many people been high for this game, but we are taking a journey with a new character by the name of Connor who is a native Indian.  This new title makes one big change for Assassin’s Creed with a completely new setting of early America.  But how exactly does this new setting hold up compared to the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series?


The story of Connor is much shorter lived than Ezio’s story.  Connor’s character is a young boy when you first start playing as him and the way they set up his storyline is the best I’ve seen in the series so far.  Assassin’s Creed III has a nice little plot twist early in the game that really set’s Connor up to being a great character, but the strange thing is that he really isn’t.  Connor’s attitude and blood thirsty personality really hinders him from being a character you care about.  The most interesting and complex character in the game is actually his father Haythan. From his charm to his power hungry mind he will keep you guessing as the game progresses. I will not go into further detail in this but if it was not for Haythan this game’s story would have been a complete bore.  Assassin’s Creed III starts off on a very high note but much of the middle is uninteresting until Haythan pops backup as a main character. It is not a bad story by any means, it is just that Connor is not particularly interesting without a little help from other characters helping him along the way.

The gameplay has added a few new tricks and effects here and there but if you have played any of the other Assassin’s Creed games you know what to expect.  It is a nice change of pace with an early American landscape to travel across.  And by the way, it is massive.  I actually did not know you could quick travel early in the game and it would take me around 20-40 minutes just to get to where I needed to be.  So if you feel like journeying the world you will have plenty to journey.  You can also hunt now.  Anything from Rabbits to bears are in the wild.  You can set traps, stalk them, or shoot them with your new bow and arrow.  There is plenty of ways that you can hunt these creatures down and get new material with their hides.  Another noticeable thing to me was the fact that you can now press a button to jump over fences and posts rather than jumping on them.  This allows for much more fluid running gameplay and was a great addition to the game.  As I said before there is a few new items such as the a rope that you can stab people with and tie them in trees.  Or your new main weapon the axe which replaces your sword.  The newest addition though would have to be sailing ships and having battles in the sea.  This really changed the pace of the game and I have to say while I didn’t find it to be amazing, I definitely did enjoy it as well. All in all the gameplay was nothing less than great.

It seems that every Assassin’s Creed game has good graphics.  Not because it is technically a power house, but because the style and art of Assassin’s Creed is a huge hit.  From the beautiful clothes you wear to the massive landscapes that you will journey.  This game is pretty no matter how you slice it.  None the less there is still plenty of pop-ins, jaggies, Frame rate issues, and low texture counts.  The game is still a pretty game but technically this game could really benefit with next-generation hardware.

Even though the story seems to be lacking at times, and the technical flaws with graphics, the gameplay is still great after all these years.  The new additions works great in Assassin’s Creed III and I found myself enjoying the pace of the game rather than feeling it was repetitive.  The biggest flaws of the game is the main character rather than the gameplay.  It isn’t that Connor is a bad character, it is just that Haythan is a much more interesting character and when he is not in the game this clearly shows.

 Story – 8
Gameplay – 9
Graphics – 8
Action/Adventure – 8
Overall – 8.4

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