An Unbiased Review: Tomb Raider

A year ago Square Enix showed us the new Lara Croft on the Xbox 360’s showcase at E3.  When I had first seen the demo I was surprised and it was one of my most anticipated games from E3.  However I noticed that Tomb Raider had apparently upset some people since it was more similar to Uncharted now.  Now that it is here how does it stand to Uncharted though?  In ways it is better, and in other ways they cannot be compared. Just keep reading and you will learn why.

The story starts off With Lara Croft and other archeologists who are on a boat (Endurance) for the search of the lost kingdom of Yamatai which once existed.  This leads them to the horrific world that changes her life forever, the Dragon’s Triangle.   The story is very personal, graphic, menacing, dark, gory, and touching all at the same time.  This is where you cannot compare Uncharted with Tomb Raider.  While Uncharted is a light hearted story with laughs throughout the game Tomb Raider is a dark story that will have you on the edge of your seat at times with this very mature title.  The island is almost human but as you learn that the Yamatai still exists and that there is no escape of the Dragon’s Triangle there is a feeling of desperation and sorrow for Lara Croft and the other characters.  The atmosphere and tempo is nothing less than perfection.  There is many times throughout this game when Lara is put in a dark menacing situation that I will not spoil for you, but it will strike fear upon you at times. The voice actor of Lara Croft who is now Camilla Huddington also was nothing less than superb.  The story it’s self is nothing to miss out on.  Days after the completion of this game still had me thinking about the horrific island and the dark feelings that had risen in me during this game.

The gameplay is a little more comparable to Uncharted but much expanded on.  There is more options in Tomb Raider and even an expansion over being completely linear.  The world is actually an open world and you can journey through the world at any time to do side challenges, find relics, hidden tombs, or even to hunt animals for food.  However there will always be a sense of linear gameplay through the story even though it is open world.   To me I find this to be brilliant and it is the first shooter that I have seen take this approach and successfully do so.  Lara unlocks many new abilities throughout the game as she becomes more experienced and new items to keep the game from being repetitive.  You will also be able to upgrade her equipment by finding the material to do so.  This brings me to the bow you see Lara Croft using.  The bow is one of the most fun weapons to use on any game whether you want to set someone on fire or silently take out a yamatai by either shooting him or stabbing him with an arrow.  All of the weapons feels great in fact and you will be learning new abilities for all of them throughout the game with exp.  The game will never feel repetitive with this RPG like element.  The platforming was also done with great ability from sliding down ziplines to climbing up mountains with your hiking axe.  There will be puzzles throughout the game and at times you will have to think without any kind of guidance other than your own brain.  All of this said this is where Tomb Raider has advanced over Uncharted.  Having more option and great shooting mechanics has made this shooter and action/adventure the best of the market in todays time.

The graphics just pop out with beautiful atmosphere, textures, and scenery.  The dark island would not have been near as menacing without these beautiful graphics.  To this day I’d say Tomb Raider is one of the most beautiful games that I have ever played.  It really almost shocked me at how good it looked.  We have talked about in the past how 1st party games like Halo 4, Killzone, and Uncharted has all been the graphic kings of this generation but with recent releases like Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, and Tomb Raider I think it can be heavily questioned that 3rd parties has outdone first parties.  This isn’t even mentioning how good they look on PC.

I have to be honest with this, Tomb Raider completely blindsided me with how good it actually was.  I know it gets criticized by Uncharted fans, but coming from a big Uncharted fan, Tomb Raider should not be over looked.  It has surpassed Uncharted in many ways.  Now if you like a light-hearted story more than a mature personal story I can see you saying you like Uncharted more but other wise Tomb Raider wins in many categories and opinions will change with stories of course due to preferences.  This has been an absolute joy to play and one of the best games I have played this generation.

 Story – 9
Gameplay -9.5
Graphics – 10
Action/Adventure Genre – 9
Overall – 9.4

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An Unbiased Review: Battleblock Theater

Way back in 2008 Xbox Live Arcade got a little game by the name of Castle Crashers.  Since then it has become one of the most successful arcade games with 3 million people purchasing it on Xbox Live Arcade alone.  Not only has it been successful but it is also one of the most fun games you will play with it’s beat em up style and co-op gameplay.  In 2009 Behemoth revealed that their next project would be BattleBlock Theater which had a similar art style.  5 years and we finally get this game but was the 5 years of anticipation worth it at all, or would there next game be a letdown for this long anticipated wait?  Or did it live up to the name that is “Castle Crashers?”

  His voice acting sets the mood of this hilarious game and the dialogue is over the top and witty in every remark.  The first cut scene had me dyeing of laughter and immediately hooked to this story of “Hatty Hattington.”  “See Hatty was the like King of friendship Kingdom.  Friends to one and all!  But then Wizoo, wizooo!  A storm came and BOOOM thunder!” (Watch the opening monologue, you won’t be disappointed)  From the opening monologue you learn all about Hatty and how they have crashed onto this island filled with “Hideous adorable abominations” (Cats).  These cats have taken Hatty the best friend of the wrecked “SS. Friend Ship”.  They have taken him and now have control of his mind with an evil hat.  All of your other friends have been captured and thrown into prison where you are forced to perform dangerous stages for a crowd of cats.  Not only that but they force you to eat prison food!  “You must be really brave to eat that!  I mean it tastes like doodoo casserole!  With a side of butt salad!”  These are just a few of the many hilarious quotes in the game as you try to save the best friend to one and all Hatty Hattington.


The gameplay is a 2D platformer but would you say that 2D platforming has gotten a little stale because many platformers try to copy the style of Mario?  This is not the case with BattleBlock Theater.  This game is original in every possible way.  You may go side to side in a level or top to bottom, maybe even back, and forth.  The thing that really sets this game a part though is that each block that you step on does something different.  Some blocks you can walk across, others have spikes, iceblocks, treadmills, jump pads, climbing bars, shooting cannons, hover pads, movable blocks, bridge blocks, and this list goes on and on.  You will at times need items to make it across the stage.  Maybe you will need wings to fly, jetpacks, a pig that you can ride, etc I will say one thing, the creative minds of Behemoth just doesn’t seem to end. The thing I liked most about each stage is that they introduce you to new blocks and items throughout the game slowly like they would do in a Mario game.  It keeps the game going at a steady pace and is never repetitive.  As far as the mechanics of your characters goes you have a double jump, punch, kick, slide, duck, and a weapon you can use at any time.  The double jump is done to perfection and it shocked me at times on where I could actually get to with the double jump.  Some of the most fun missions to me was when you needed to use climbing bars on ceilings or on sides of walls above water or spikes never able to touch the ground.  You would have to maneuver through taps and cannons to reach each climbing bar.  Your character can not swim by the way.  Don’t worry though, you can find paper boat items at times to put in the water.  Getting the boat into water will be a little tricky at times though.  This game is filled with puzzles throughout this game and at times you will need to think about how you will reach your destination.  This isn’t a platformer that you mindlessly go through one side of the level to the other.  You need precision and strategy at times.  On normal mode you can get checkpoints throughout the level to make your journey easier, but on insane mode you only have one life to make it across each stage.  And this game does get hard so if you think you are good at platformers and you want a challenge then look no further.  Now they did add a ton of unlockables like weapons and prisoner heads so you can change your character.  There is about 10 weapons and 500 heads! To unlock these you need to collect gems and yarn balls in each level of the game.  Some of these are tricky to get but if you collect all of them and complete the level at a quick time with no deaths you will receive an A+ and double the gems you unlocked during that level.  For completionists it will be mighty hard to get an A+ on each level but you are more than welcome to try.  The only complaint I have about the entire gameplay of BattleBlock Theater is that you have to press start to change weapons.  You can change at any time throughout the level so they should have just let you press a button at any time.  Very minor but at every other point this game is superb.

The fun doesn’t end there though!  The multiplayer will give you tons more playtime.  It took me roughly 5-8 hours to beat BattleBlock on normal, but since then I have put another 10 hours of gameplay by playing through insane and multiplayer.  You can play co-op, capture the pig, territories, soul capture, and even basketball.  Every game is chaotic and reminds you a bit of Super Smash Bros but with different objectives.  My favorite would be capture the pig where you have to get across the obstacles to the enemies base and ride there pig back to your base.  This is easier said than done!  They may have grenades or other weapons waiting for you so don’t expect it to come easy.  You can trade prisoners, weapons, gems and yarn balls so the multiplayer is never ending with this game so even if you stop playing the story, the multiplayer will have tons more hours of gameplay waiting for you. Oh and did I mention that you can create your own levels!?  Yeah it truly never ends!

The style of the game is much like Castle Crashers and even has a few of the same enemies and characters as Castle Crashers.  It’s almost like it is in the same world.  I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest.  The colors are vibrant and the characters stand out as being unique just like the rest of the game.  I will say that most of the characters are not as likeable as Castle Crashers though.  Even though many of the characters are great you are only able to choose from a few different colors.   Don’t wprry though, if you own Castel Crashers or Alien Hominid you can play as an Alien Hominid or a Castle Crasher. I think they should have let you choose from multiple colors for each item to give you a little more customization but once again this is a very small complain.

This game is superb in every way and joins the top tier arcade games of this generation.  We talk about Castle Crashers, Journey, Trials, Limbo, Minecraft, and Braid but move over because BattleBlock Theater has joined this prestigious group.  This game is unique and possibly one of the best if not the best platormer I’ve ever played with a hilarious story to go along with it.  This is a must buy if you like chaotic fun, platformers, or a funny story. If I gave you an opinion I would give this a game a perfect 10 but because I need to be objective this is what I think people will think of it.

Artstyle – 8.5
Gameplay – 9.5
Story – 9.0
Platforming genre – 9.5
Multiplayer – 9.0

Overall – 9.1

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An Unbiased Review: Deadlight

I’m not going to lie I was pretty excited about Deadlight when I first had seen it.  It had this atmosphere and close enough in relation of The Walking Dead’s famous graphic novels that I just had to play this game.  When I finally got around to playing this 2.5D  side scrolling platformer I knew why I was reminded of The Walking Dead.

Deadlight’s story has a very similar feel to The Walking Dead.   It is told through comic book like cut scenes and it is about man by the name of Randal Wayne (The protagonist) who is searching for his wife and daughter in a Zombie Apocalypse after he somehow got separated from them.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Anybody ever heard of Lori and Carl?  But in all honesty it doesn’t matter that the story is similar as long as it is good.  That is the thing though, it really isn’t in every way possible and had me rolling my eyes time after time. There is other things in the game that happens to Randall that makes you think of The Walking Dead and in one part even has a part where they obviously copied The Walking Dead’s episode where Rick was stuck in a tank and Glenn saves him by saying he was an idiot on the rooftops etc.  They so blatantly copied this part that it made me roll my eyes yet you never really feel for this character or Randall.  Although I will say that you do want to find Randall’s daughter and wife as the story progresses until about half way through the game it starts to unfold to where you can predict the ending entirely.  However I actually predicted the ending completely wrong because even though I was right it had to be the worst ending I’ve seen in a while.  Have you ever watched a movie and asked yourself “Why didn’t he/she just do this?  Wouldn’t that have made more sense?”  The problem with the ending is Randall has options but because of the poor writing it ends on the worst possible note.  On a final note, just don’t expect to be thrilled about Deadlight’s story what so ever.

Regardless of a good story, every game needs good gameplay.  After all, the gameplay is what makes us play games most of the time.  Deadlight is a 2.5D platformer that you will need to jump across gaps or run through enemies.  In this case your enemies is zombies and they are beautifully done in this game.  Well that is until you have to kill them.  Since when does it take like 10 hits to kill a zombie with your axe!?  Not sure if Randall just can’t swing an axe or not but there is no way it should take that many hits to kill a zombie.  The good news is if you get them on the ground you can execute them in one blow.  The annoying part is getting them to the ground in a big group.  The really good news is there is other weapons like a shotgun, Pistol, and a slingshot.  Well the slingshot is useless against zombies but it does help out in puzzles which is the one highlight out of this game.  The pistols works great as well as the shotgun.  You will scavenge for ammo because this will mean life or death to you in certain situations.  If you are left without ammo your only option is to run past the zombies or to tackle a zombie and hope to make it to the next safe point.  They do have some few exciting points where you have to move through zombie hordes quickly but unfortunately this may be the most unresponsive game I’ve played yet.  Randall just seems like he doesn’t want to climb anything at all. For someone who is in a zombie apocalypse he sure isn’t in a hurry.  To get to something above you better stand perfectly still for like 2 seconds and then jump because otherwise he refuses to reach the platform above him.  I found myself get annoyed by this numerous times because that two seconds is important.  I don’t want to just stand there while zombies are feasting on my limbs. However the puzzles was nicely done and actually made you think from time to time.  This was the one highlight in gameplay especially when you needed to solve a puzzle while a zombie horde was after you.  You may need to shoot a lock above you to knock down a crate or use your slingshot to knock out a window to have the glass fall on zombie.  Maybe you just want to whistle the zombies towards you so they can fall to their death or step on electric wire.  These was the few moments of the game that I genuinely enjoyed.

There is some good news about Deadlight though. It has wonderful style in graphics.  The way the zombies look like shadows in the background and the gloomy atmospheres really makes this game standout and makes you want to compare it to the masterpiece that is Limbo.  When I first saw this game I had to have it and it I really wanted to like it.  Sadly I just did not like it.  The Gameplay is average, the story was horrible, and the unresponsive controls just killed this game for me.  Even though it is pretty I would recommend staying away from this game unless you want to have a few highlights here and there and just really want to play a zombie game.

Story – 5
Gameplay – 7
Platformer Genre – 6
Graphics – 8.5

Overall – 6.6

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An Unbiased Review: Kameo: Elements of Power

I have to admit when I first played Kameo eight years ago I only played it for about 30 minutes and in that 30 minutes I could not stand it.  However since we are heading into the next generation of consoles here soon I thought it would be interesting to revisit a launch title for the HD twin that started it all way back in 2005.  And I have to say I do not regret it at all.

As I finally picked up Kameo once again I just had this mindset that this was not a great game.  I remember my original experience of it and the constant bashing of Rare ltd for not releasing a great game this generation for Xbox 360.  And I have to say for the first hour of Kameo I did not like this game once again.  The problem with the introduction of the game is they just throw you into the game without any kind of tutorial and you are using advanced techniques that you actually learn much later in the game.  It was frustrating that the first level felt so rushed.  It appears that they wanted to introduce the new character Kameo with a high note in action but failed greatly seeing as it was the only part of the game that I did not enjoy.  In fact the rest of the game is a pleasure to play and at times even reminded me of Banjo Kazooie and Zelda.

The story is very lackluster without much going on and the voice acting isn’t that much better.  It is all centered on a Troll War and Kameo’s evil sister capturing her family and holding them captive.  A witch will quickly let you know that you are the only one that can save them and the world from this troll war by capturing the Elements of power.  These elements are the main focus of the game.  To capture the elements of power you must hunt down shadows and free the elements of power to allow Kameo to turn into a different character.  It is a thrill to find and become a new Kameo.  You will turn into a dragon, a Venus flytrap, and even a termite.  There is 11 characters that you will play as including Kameo.  They all have different personalities, names, abilities, and all react and act differently.  It is exciting to unlock a new Kameo and learn new abilities with each and every one of them.  Yes you can even learn new attacks and abilities with them.  The only downfall with unlocking them was the pacing was too fast.  They really needed to slow this down a bit because instead of unlocking a new ability and slowly learning  about your new character you will unlock one and then immediately go on to unlock another within the next hour of gameplay.  Besides that it was superb in every other area as far as characters and design is concerned.

The gameplay is once again based around your characters.  This can turn into a puzzle game, platformer, and a hack n slash game.  Kameo herself is kind of weak but she is super-fast as she can hover off the ground to quickly maneuver around her enemies.  Even though she is fast you likely wont be using her very often.  You may use Pummelweed to fight trolls by bowing them or to go underground and get below sealed areas, Ash to activate bombs or burn grass type enemies, or maybe you will use Flex to grab enemies shields or to reach far away locations.  The enemies are varied and all of your characters will be needed.  The thing is that instead of Rare ltd creating puzzles based around pushing blocks most of the puzzles are actually created through combat.  The bosses are great and even regular enemies can be a struggle to figure out.  On top of that the world it’s self will turn into a puzzle along with your enemies coming at you at the same time.  The action puzzles was top notch and exciting.  There is 6 worlds in Kameo Including a swamp, sea, lava, and grasslands.  The entire world it’s self is an open world game.  The lands or levels are were most of the puzzles and game will take place but the world it’s self is in a huge war which you can choose to go in and help for points or to move on.  At times you will be forced to do some kind of task in the huge troll war but for the most part you will be traveling land to land.  Don’t worry though, even though the world can be big you have a horse much like Epona from Zelda to help you along your journey.

Now for the graphics, this one was a shocker to me.  I was not expecting a launch game to look near as good as this game did.  The water and grass was spectacular and most characters was done with a fine polish to it.  The designs of the characters was attractive and the animations was fluid.  I’d say the biggest complaint in this area is that Kameo herself was not the greatest of characters and her fairy look likely turned a lot of people away from this game.  None the less this is one of the best looking cartoony games that I have yet to see.

Overall this game is both beautiful and fun.  Not only did I fall in love with this game as I played through it but I would say it is one of the best games that I’ve played from Rare and I’d love to see a Kameo 2 as long as they can iron out the few flaws.

story – 7
Graphics/Art design – 8.5
Gameplay – 9
Action Adventure Genre – 8.5

Overall – 8.3

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An Unbiased Review: Alan Wake

After debating on whether I should get this game for the last two years I finally went out and played Alan Wake.  For some reason I just never could get excited about this game although the story sounded really interesting.  Now that I have finally played it with little expectations what did I think about the game?

As soon as I started Alan Wake you are on a boat with your wife Alice.  You two are going on vacation on a small island and hope that Alan can possibly get away from his writer’s block. See the thing is Alan use to be a great writer but he hasn’t written a book in years so he is a little moody at the beginning.  You go on to meet a few people on the island who all have their own personalities and own animations.  I have to say that the animations in Alan Wake are top notch.   Another cool thing that you notice in the beginning is the atmosphere is amazing.  It is rich and beautiful, but at the same time eerie and startling.  You really do feel like you are in a small town and that is not something that is easy to pull off, making both the town feels populated with great atmosphere but actually give a realistic approach of a small town.  This is aided by radio stations that you can listen to throughout the game which in return gives more personality to this small town.  As Alan and Alice find there cabin to stay in things take a twist and this wonderful peaceful story quickly turns into a psychological thriller.  This is where things get interesting.  While at the cabin Alice falls or gets pushed into the lake and disappears.  You really don’t know what happens to her.  All you know is that the next morning you wake up in a crash with a head injury. When did you get in a car?  Why are you in the woods alone?  Where is Alice?  The questions are crazy and interesting.  As you start walking around in the dark questioning things you start noticing pages that has been dropped on the ground.  The weird and haunting thing is that these papers were all written by Alan Wake but he has no recollection of ever writing them. Not only that, but the story that he has written is now coming to life.  It is a psychological thriller that has Alice drowning in a lake and now darkness is everywhere.  The darkness that is inside people who now wants to kill you which I will get to in a moment.  The rest of the game will have you meeting other memorable characters like your agent best friend Berri and trying to find the missing Alice who fell in the lake or went missing after the wreck.  To make things even more exciting I will just say that the police are heavily involved in this game and that because of his head injury things are possibly a little too unbelievable for them.  The story plays out much like a movie and in ways is a movie.  I could easily say that as cinematic as this game with its superb story this could easily be turned into a movie for the big screen with no issues.

Continuing on with the darkness inside of people, this is what the gameplay is centered around.  These enemies will come out at night or in any dark place to kill your or other people.  This Psychological thriller turns into a horror quickly as the darkness gets stronger.  You are no longer in danger just at night but also the day because the darkness can completely take over.  Now even though there are a lot of different enemies to keep things at different paces the gameplay is Alan Wake’s biggest flaw.  While it is fun, it is a little repetitive with not much substance.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is still very enjoyable and over all solid.  Mostly you just point a flashlight at an enemy to release the darkness and then finish them off with your gun whether it be a revolver, shotgun, or hunting rifle.  Other more powerful weapons include Flash bangs and the amazing flare gun.  These items are rarer to find but when you do save your ammo for big groups of these dark seekers to kill multiple enemies at once.  You also get to drive on a few occasions which shows how big this island can be but the driving is a little strange.  The driving is overall boring and shows little substance but does bring great variety.  Overall the gameplay is solid but not the main draw of this game.

The voice acting and characters was also done with great measures.  You will try and get into people’s heads and figure out a mystery in Psychological thrillers so it is important to have a great cast with great voice acting.  The voice acting is nothing less than top notch and as I’ve said before the animations really aids this.

Lastly the atmosphere and graphics are superb.  Whether it be the phenomenal animations that may very well be some of the best animations I’ve seen on any game.  Even kissing that I can barely stand on other games came out as not being weird and cheesy on Alan Wake.  The graphics are good but not amazing but the atmosphere is original, haunting, and beautiful which puts it in a one of a kind game.  Not only is the atmosphere original but their story is as well and I can say that it is one of the most cinematic games I have played.

Final thoughts is that this game is superb in most categories and if you want a great story this is a must have game. If you are more about gameplay though this is a good game but with little substance.  After playing this game I can’t wait to see what Remedy has in store for us next generation.

Gameplay – 8.0
Story – 9.5
Graphics/Atmosphere – 8.5
Voice Acting – 9.0

Overall – 8.8

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An Unbiased Review: Banjo Tooie XBLA

When first playing Banjo Tooie the first thing that you realize is the memorable tunes from Banjo.  You guys may know exactly what I’m talking about but the sound tracks in Banjo is catchy will be stuck in your head for days.  The menu is also done with crude noises like burps and animal noises.  The game is actually crude in many ways which I will get to in a bit but first I want to talk about the graphics.  For a 13 year old game Banjo Tooie actually looks pretty good and doesn’tmake me want to gouge my eyes out.  The colors are nice and vibrant with a good artistic style.  They also added HD in this version and polished it up a bit so it does look relatively better.

The story in Banjo Tooie is very humorus and never really takes it’s self too seriosly.  It will have you laughing at times from the whitty humor between Banjo and Kazooie.  Banjo seems to be the friendly Bear that is a bit of a cluts who likes to joke, but Kazooie is a complete smartass.  Kazooie will tell any crreature, monster, or person what is on his mind.  For example some huge fish accused Banjo and Kazooie of trying to steal his jiggy and leave him to dry up and die.  Kazooie didn’t really help the matter and just comes right out and says “Yeah pretty much the plan”.  See always getting them into trouble.  They also reference how they are just in a game on multiple occasions like “Hey, didn’t we kill you in the last game?”  Or things similar to that.  The game is filled with crude and humoruous dialogue all the way throguh the game and really helps you laugh and just enjoy the game.  The story isn’t really deep though so if you are looking for a deep platforming story this wouldn’t be the case, and honestly it wouldn’t be Banjo if it was.  However Banjo’s friend Bottles dies in the first scene of the game by Grunty.  After dieing in the first game and being stuck under a rock her two sisters comes and revives her where she then seeks revenge on Banjo.  This will setup the story nicely.  But since Bottles is no longer with them, who helps you learn new moves?  A new character by the name og JamJars helps you learn 40 new moves!  JamJars is a nice addition of the game being a military mole.  He will be your drill sergeant through out Banjo Tooie with advice and new moves.

Now for the gameplay which is why this game truly shines.  The game is relatively easy when it comes to combat and because of this you don’t really ever feel like you are in any danger but the platforming and puzzles is abolutely brilliant. In fact most enemies can be killed in one hit.  The bosses make up for this greatly though.The puzzles will also make up for this because you learn one new move at a time new puzzles  will be thrown your way that keep you thinking.  Your main goal is to collect Jiggies (Puzzle Pieces) and music notes to help you advance in your adventure.  Jiggies is what is needed to advance to the next world while Music Notes are needed to learn new moves.  It quickly becomes an addiction to collect all of these gold shiny collectables across the world.  One move that turned out to bring clever puzzles is the Split move.  Kazooie will hop out of Banjos backpack and they will have to complete goals seperately to help you with puzzles.  This often times made puzzles very fun and enjoyable.  Banjo Tooie also has many mini games through ut the game to change the pace up a bit like jumping through hoops, kickball, or using Kazooie as a gun like a FPS shooter.  To make things even better they also change up the pace by transforming you into different creatures.  You play as a number of different creatures from an Ancient Mayan, a van, and a submarine.  These will add to different puzzles and new gameplay elements. There is one new creature in every world and you are always curious in what is next.  However Mumbo Jumbo isn’t the one who is tranforming you this time around.  He leaves that up to a character by Mumba Wumba a new character.  She like him requires you to find a little creature by the name of Glowbo.  You will need to give each a glowbo to use there special powers.  Mumba Wumba as someone who will transform you and Mumbo Jumbo for using magic outside of his hut.  You get to play as him by the way, so if you like him that is a big plus. Swimming under water has also been improved due to dual analog sticks but one thing that was not improved was th FPS parts.  I can’t even explain how annoying those parts are but god thing you don’t have to deal with it often.  Overall the puzzle and platforming elements is what makes this game shine so don’t worry about the FPS parts too much.

Overall the game is nothing short of being a true classic that stands the test of time.  It still holds up today as being one of the greatest 3D platformers of all time for it’s brilliant gameplay.  The story is humorus and the gameplay is great so if you haven’t played this classic yet pick it up on Xbox Live Arcade.

Story Dialogue – 8
Gameplay – 9
Platforming genre – 9
Graphics – 8

Overall – 8.5


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An Unbiased Review: Ni No Kuni

The long awaited Ni No Kuni has finally made its way to PS3 in America with its beautiful artsyle and the perfect touch of Studio Ghibli.  It has been dubbed to be the savior of Japanese Role Play gaming by many but does this really hold up?

To Start things off what is the first thing you notice about Ni No Kuni?  Of course the artstyle.  The Cell Shaded artstyle is gorgeuos and because of this, the game will never age.  It is nothing less than brilliant.  It actually reminds me of Skyward Sword if it looked really good. There has been too many times that I just stop to look at the lush surroundings.  The characters, buildings, water, is all stunning.  Even when you enter a town you actually feel like the town is inhabitated because the buildings can look huge with a great sense of style to them.  At times it looks like you are coming straight from Pixar or Anime.  Some cutscenes are done by Studio Ghibli as well which is one of the highlights in this game.

Beyond the graphics how does Ni No Kuni fair though?  What about the story and gameplay?  The story is about a young boy who sets off on an adventure to capture poket sized monsters to fight off other pocket sized monsters where you will level them up, learn new moves, and even metamorphise your monsters (Familiars).  Does this ring any kind of bell?  Why yes, sounds a lot like Pokemon doesn’t it?  That is because this game is very similar to pokemon but also distinguishes it’s self in being different.  I will get into all of this in just a moment but first liet me explain the story.

The story of Ni No Kuni is about a Young Boy who just lost his mom.  She dies early in the game and shortly afterwards the boy (Oliver AKA Ollie)  is crying in one of his friends houses and brings a stuffed animal that his mom made him to life.  This little creature goes by the name of Drippy.  He explains that he is a fairy and that he needs Ollie to save his world and in the process may even be able to bring his mom back to life.  The thing is Drippy has a heavy welsche accent.  Drippy brings the story alive with his witty humor and heavy accent.  The game just has this charm about it and Drippy would be the comedian.  Ollie and Drippy goes to this parallel world to set on in this beautiful Journey to defeat the one by the name of Shadar who has wrecked the world with something called Broken Heartedness.  This is a central point in the game.  People who are broken Hearted has something mentally wrong with them wether they have lost confidence, will power, or courage.  Ollie becomes a Wizard so helping people with there broken hearts is something only he can fix.  They also did a great job at adding simple puns in dialogue throughout the game that adds the charm.  For example in the first town you go to, the king is a Cat so when he speaks he may say something like “purrrfect”.  just simple little things like this really adds to the over all charm.  The voice acting along with the story is both good but it doesn’t come without annoyances.  The first thing is even though the voice acting is excellent you will actually very rarely hear characters talk.  Sometimes they have a quick conversation and then immediately switch back to dialogue.  Something that is annoying but nothing game breaking.  And even though the game has a charm to it with an emotional beginning to the game the game quickly loses much of the story.  You never really get into the characters heads and just feel for them other than a few points in the game.  It just doesn’t seem to be deep enough but the charm does help the story carry out through the game.  Wether it be Shadar or Ollie, you just don’t get much story out of anybody.  The story is more of the adventure unfolding before you which is perfect for this world in ways.

The gameplay as I touched upon a little bit previously comes with using little creatures called familiars.  The battle system works like free running but chosing your attacks as you dodge enemies attacks.  It can be sloppy at times but it is fun.  You will start off with just Ollie and one familiar but eventually will be able to capture other familiars which is annoying all on it’s own and I will get to that in just one minute.  You will eventually get Swaine and Esther as partners who can also carry up to 3 familiars themselves.  So by then you will have 3 characters with 3 familars each.  Here is the catch though, all of your and your character shares the same HP and Magic points.  It is a different approach but works.  They also all share the same EXP at the end of each battle which seems a little odd.  Throughout the battles though every once and a while little orbs will hit the ground.  Green, blue, and yellow.  Green is health, blue is magic, and yellow is a special attack.  Each character and familiar has there own special devastating attack but you will rarely get these orbs but are very benificial in boss battles.  The downside to these yellow orbs is once you pick them up you can no longer defend yourself.  A fault in the game that has caused me dieing in tough boss battles at times.  Once you die you have to pay 10% of your total coins to continue.  The way you metamorphise your familiars is a little different as well.  Once you reach a certain level with your familiar you give them a drop for their second evolution  which sets them back to level 1 once again.  It actually makes them weaker than what they was but by the time you reach that level again you will be stronger than before.  Still i find it pointless to go back to level 1.  The last evolution comes from a Jumbo Drop and you then choose between the two evolutions that you want.  One may be stronger in attack while the other is better on defense.  Just small things like that.  Now on to catching familiars.  This is the thing that really got to me the most throughout this game.  You can’t simply just catch a familiar.  No you have to defeat a familiar and hope that it was “impressed” by you. Which happens very rarely.  I looked it up and it was around a 6% chance of being impressed and some familiars even lower.  It is very annoying finding a rare familiar and then beating it and not getting a chance to catch it.  what makes it even worst is that Esther is the only character that can tame them with her music, so if she faints then you are just out of luck which has happened to me.  Why?   Because the AI is pretty dumb.  Swaine and Esther just die non stop due to their stupidity of using every ounce of there magic and then attacking with themselves instead of using there familiars.  You can tell them to not use there magics but then they just smack people with there own characters at times and not even use their familiars.  I’ve literally seen them run around doing nothing at times.  Regardless of all this though the gameplay is actually very fun at times.  The fighting mechanics work and in boss battles they can be brilliant.  Don’t expect your partners to survive but you and Ollie will have a fun battle none the less.

So all in all this game is a great game and if you like games like Pokemon you will probably like this game.  it is humurous, charming, and beautiful.  It can lack at times with gameplay but none the less is one of the best JRPG games I’ve played.  It is not the savior of JRPG games but something that any JRPG fan would love.    Whether you want this game for it’s charming story or fun gameplay this is a great game and highly recomended by me.

Graphics/Artstyle – 10
Gameplay – 7.5
Story – 8.5
Voice Acting/Dialogue – 8.0

Overall – 8.5

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An Unbiased Review: IloMilo

Ilomilo is a game that I would usually not review seeing as I played this game on a mobile device but as I played through this game I was swept away by the charm and relaxing but at times challenging puzzles.   Microsoft has entered the mobile market and Ilomilo is a game to showcase what they have in store for us. Don’t fret though, Ilomilo is available on both Xbox Live Arcade and Windows Phones so even if you don’t have a Windows Phone and you want to try this game out you can hop on your Xbox 360 and play this game.  With that said though how did Microsoft fair in the Mobile gaming market?  Well let’s find out. 

With a lot of games you will see an action packed hero who is brave, heroic, and special in some kind of way defeating every obstacle ahead of him/her self.  In the story of Ilomilo the main characters are nothing more than simple friends trying to find each other so they can enjoy tea together.  Ilomilo is told like you would read it out of a children’s story book. It is a charming approach to this charming little game.  You don’t kill enemies or face the entire world, no, you just want to make your way through each puzzle so you can meet up with your friend. When the two friend Ilona (Ilo) and Milton (Milo) meet up they dance as they find one another.  This is actually how you beat a level, you simply need to find away to each other to complete the puzzle.  This task is much tougher than what it sounds though as I will get to in just one moment.  Even though Ilo and Milo find each other they seem to have trouble keeping up with each other because by the next day they are lost again and trying to find one another once more.  The whole story isn’t something that is amazing but it is charming and cute none the less.

Now the gameplay is the real draw to this game.  There is different worlds with 9-10 levels each in Ilomilo with different settings and music for each.  They slowly ease you into the more difficult ones and they can be difficult at times.  In all honesty I haven’t played a puzzle game like this that made me feel rewarded when I finished certain puzzles since Portal.  Yes I just compared it to portal.  Not that it is anything like Portal but the puzzles can be brilliant at times.  See tha gameplay works like this.  You can only walk on the cubes pressing forward, back, left, and right.  You can not jump or climb down to cubes below or above you.  Try thinking Mario Galaxy in this situation.   You are on cubes that are 4 dimensional so some cubes that has a red arrow on them will allow you to walk to the other dimension of the cube.  Because of this getting on the same platform as your partner can be difficult at times but rewarding.  Also I need to mention that you control both characters.  By the touch of a button you will navigate between the two who will each need to complete there own tasks so they can reach one another.  The environment has it’s own strict rules so you will definitely need both characters to complete a puzzle.  You can pick up special cubes that will allow you to place them somewhere.  The two main cubes that you can interact with is a single cube that you can place which will cover up small gaps or a cube that can work like a draw bridge.  The thing I found really cool was reaching these devices to the other character where they get stuck so they can use the item to help the other one.  For example let’s say that Ilo needs the extension bridge but doesn’t have one available.  Well Milo has the extension bridge so he will go to a cube and place it down where it will draw up so Ilo can then pick it up.  It is a clever strategy in a clever game.  There is also other active cubes like springs that springs you over gaps, monsters that block your way, apples, and pigs that walk across the tiles.  Each one of these creates brilliant puzzles using different strategies and approaches. The other thing that you will be doing is trying to collect both miniature cubes (like coins in mario) and 3 miniature ilomilos in each level.  This also can add it’s own amount of difficult trying to complete these tasks.  There is also leaderboards if you are more competitive.  It is based off of the fewest steps taken.  Nothing to special or anything.

Lastly the music and artstyle.  There was a reason I bought this game and it is because the artstyle just popped out to me.  It some how looked different than other mobile games and it most certainly was.  This is the first mobile game that I have enjoyed besides Angry Birds and even then I didn’t care much for Angry Birds.  The music is also charming and wonderful but there is a small downside to the music.  Once the song repeats on a level your game will skip for a moment.  Besides that this game didn’t really have any problems.  

Overall the game is charming and a great puzzle game. This was a great game for Microsoft to start things off with in the mobile market.  It didn’t have an amazing story but the gameplay does make up for that.  It looks cute on the surface but can be frustrating at times with some of the more difficult puzzles but for $4.99 I’d say it is easily worth it for hours of entertaining puzzles.

Story – 7.0
Gameplay – 8.5
Music – 8.0
Artstyle – 8.5

Overall – 8.0

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An Unbiased Review: Far Cry 3

This seems long over due but finally here it is, the Far Cry 3 review for PC, and yes it is was in the highest settings possible.  All I can say “Holy sweet mother of batman!”  I will explain in a minute.  So from a fan’s stand point you may be thinking well Far Cry 2 was kind of good but nothing great.  We already have Halo 4, CounterStrike Global Offensive, and Call of Duty Blackops II so do we really need another FPS?  Well if you want to just skip to the final score instead of reading this, then the short answer is yes! Buy it now.

since I’ve already hyped up the graphics a little bit I might as well tell you about them now.  Nah, we will talk about the story instead! Basically the story is about a group of either teenagers or young adults that get stranded on an island after they go skydiving.  They had originally thought the island was deserted but soon enough they find out that it is filled with people that to me and you may look at as mentally unstable.  Right off the bat you are introduced to Vaas which I will go into detail in a bit.  If you do not know who Vaas is I reccomend you watching the video I post below.  He has been the poster boy of this game and is voiced by Michael Mando.  Yes get use to that name because I expect him to get big and not just in the game industry, but the movie industry.  Michael Mando and Vaas is the Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Dark Knight Rises.  That is how good his performance is!  It is unbelievable how good he does.  He plays a man that may or may not be insane.  The way he uses his voice, eyes, and the way he moves is all based off of Michael Mando.  Even his character’s image.  But we will ignore him for a moment because in reality the protagonist is Jason.  Jason is a dare devil that became seperated from his friends after Vaas had captured them.  In the beginning Jason and his brother is in a cage that you will soon escape.  The rest of the story is about finding the rest of his friends and saving them including his girl friend Liza which plays great importance.  Now as I mentioned before though, Vaas is the poster boy of the game.  He basically sold the game at E3 in 2012 with the stage demo they showed using his performance.  He is even the box cover of the game and he was used in the live youtube series to promote the game.  Sadly he only had 18 minutes of airtime in the actual game!  A huge fail on Ubisoft’s part as they didn’t capitilize on his brilliant performance.  On the plus side I do believe they will use him in upcoming DLC which I will not tell you why.  The actual main villain of the game is Hoyt which is insane all on his own.  His performance was good as well just like every other character in this game.  The voice acting to this game is nothing less than superb.  The only other downside to the story would be that the ending is a little dissapointing.  None the less one of the best over all stories I’ve seen in a while.

Now for the graphic’s?  Nope, let’s talk about gameplay.  The gameplay is well you know a FPS.  Point, aim, shoot.  Not much to it really.  I will say that it feels very fluid and one of the best FPS’s to date.  It is setup in a sandbox type environment which to say in short is absolutely stunning.  You can set fire to environment, kill people, drive, parasail, jetski, and hunt animals.  Speaking of animals, their is a lot including bears, tigers, leopards, deer, shark, seaturtles, dingos, pitbulls, pigs, goats, aligators, komodo dragons, and so much more.  You will need to go hunting if you want to craft better equipment.  You use specific leathers to create new pouches so you can carry more ammo, money, guns, etc.  You can also create medicines from plants that you find across the island. I have to say it is a joy hunting too.  Shark was very amusing to kill, just because they were the easiest.  This is not all that realistic and a flaw in the game but when I killed shark it was actually an accident the first time.  I was just driving a jet ski minding my own business you know when all the sudden i hear a huge kathud! My jet ski was all dented, I’m like “What in sweet baby batman was that?!”  I turn around and go back and find out I ran over a shark.  It killed it too.  Twinkle toed, mother *f*c*ing c*ck sucking son of a b*tch thought he was going to eat me!  So this is how I killed the rest of my shark.  While hunting deer I was sneaking up on them when all the sudden I saw tony the tiger pop out of a bush and devour the deer I was hunting.  The rest scattered.  It was actually pretty awesome that they put this in the game.  The bad part is after it killed the deer it just walks away.  They should of allowed it to eat it’s prey but whatever, free deer for me.  Moving on though Far Cry 3 has a great way of using stealth.  Because you can use the whole world you can go into each mission the way you want.  I always seemed to use a silenced Sniper and a silenced sub machine gun.  I would sneak around camps until i eventually picked each and every apponent off.  Sometimes I would sneak into camp disable the alarm and then release their captive animals.  When you do this it will eat people it sees. For example I will release a bear or tiger.  The downside is that the AI is laughably blind.  I can walk right in front of one and a meter will start to show.  They won’t spot you until that meter fills though.  Because of this I can play pika-boo with them with no worries.  A game all on it’s own.  Not to mention you have magical rocks that fools anybody and everybody. The last thing I’ll mention is that you will learn new skills throughout the game which in return gives you tattos.  These tattoos signify what you have learned as a warrior. And I will also state when you first kill somebody Jason was freaked out by it.  By the end of the game he seems to crave killing people. Regardless of everything the guns and gameplay both feels nice.

Now can we talk about the graphics?  Fine, but just because you guys won’t shutup about it.  To say shortly this game looks beyond amazing.  At times I literally didn’t want to leave locations that I was in.  Everything from the trees, mountains, facial expressions, animals, all looks amazing.  This may be the best game I’ve ever seen next to The Witcher 2.  Seriously it is beyond good looking.  

Overall this game is a must buy game.  The graphic’s, gameplay, story, voice acting, is nothing less than superb.  I did not go over multiplayer because I have yet to play it.  I will review that in coming weeks.


Gameplay – 9.0
Story – 9.0
Voice Acting – 10.0
Graphics- 10.0
FPS Genre – 9.0

Overall – 9.4

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Mark of the Ninja An Unbiased Review

Mark of the Ninja, Reviewed January 2nd, 2013

If you guys don’t know I’m a huge fan of Metal Gear Solid and games that use stealth mechanics successfully.  Over the years we have seen a number of games to successfully use stealth in it’s gameplay like Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Deus Ex, ect  However when we look at Mark of the Ninja what comes to mind?  “That’s an arcade game, it can’t possibly compete with the best of the best in the stealth genre.  Not only that, but it is a side scroller….”  I know this was the first things I thought anyways.  How I couldn’t possibly be more wrong about this game, and how I couldn’t possibly be any happier.  The reason this game has been talked about being the best arcade game of the year has been for a reason, so let’s talk about it.

To start things off let’s talk about the bad, the actual story.  The story is about a ninja, yeah I know that is pretty surprising, but stay with me.  The story is pretty generic and uninteresting in a whole.  It is about a ninja who will be assassinating his hits (Like a hitman).   He has one partner who seems to help you throughout the game.  She says very little other than helping you throughout the level.  You also have a boss that says a few things every once and a while.  The cutscenes are pretty nice looking.  I know right, an arcade game with cutsecenes.!  But yes the cutscenes have a cartoonish look to them, very nicely done actually.  However the cutscenes themselves are uninteresting.  Basically your Ninja gets tattoos on his body and more talking that is you guessed it, uninteresting.  I can’t really say too much about the story it’s self because there isn’t much but the main thing I want you to get clear is that this game is not about the story.

Now that we got the bad out of the way, let’s talk about the gameplay and stealth.  The gameplay is purely based off of stealth and getting to point A to point B.  This is a very interesting take on stealth gameplay seeing as it is a 2D sidescroller!  As a ninja you are taught to hide in the shadows and use your surroundings to elude the enemy.  From the beginning of the game I was hooked.  You start the game out with nothing but a grappling hook and ninja darts (stars).  You can use the ninja stars to destory lamps and headlights to either distract an enemy or to completely elude them by hiding in the shadows of the dark.  You can also hide behind pottery and doorways while an enemy walks right pass you.  You have the option to run as well but if you do enemies can hear you.  Not only will you lose points for an enemy spotting you but you will also likely die.  It takes roughly 2 shots to kill you.  This is why it is ideal to stay in vents, shadows, and use your equipment to evade the enemies.  Speaking of equipment, their is a lot of it.  You can unlock equipment through out the game including poison darts, noise makers, smoke bombs, and wait for it……A box to support Metal Gear Solid.   When I saw the box, I couldn’t help from laughing about it.  Hideo Kojima would be proud, in fact if he hasn’t played the game I suggest him to do so. You can also unlcok new suits like the staelth suit that allows you to run without making noise for example. Another interesting take on the game was the fact that you can terrify people.  You can do this in a number of ways including killing someone in front of another enemy without being spotted.  What this does is it freaks out the enemy and he will shoot anything that moves including his partners.  The coolest way to terryify someone in my opinion is to assassinate someone and then hang them on a post by a rope.  This will traumatize any soldier walking around.  This game isn’t easy either.  It can be tough at times.  They will throw a number of soldiers at you including ones you can’t assassinate.  There is dogs that can sniff you out, snipers that can spot you, or elites that you can’t assassinate in a regular fashion.  Enough about the gameplay though, all I can say is if you like stealth this is a must have game.

In the end this is a unique twist on stealth games.  It has everything a stealth game needs and competes with the best of the best and in ways is the best of the best.  The lack of a great story is upsetting but as an arcade game you really can’t get much better than this game.  It is on XBLA and Steam so if you haven’t picked it up yet go out and get it.

Story – 6.5
Gameplay – 9.5
Stealth Genre – 9.5
Presentation – 9.5

Overall – 8.8

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