Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting caught up with mini reviews

Things have been a little hectic lately, but even I was kind of surprised when I realized that I hadn't posted anything in two months. Did this mean I wasn't playing games or doing anything else worth reviewing? Nope... it just means that when I haven't been working, I've been trying to play games.

At this point, I feel like it'd be a waste of time to write full reviews for everything, but I'd like to at least give you my basic feelings in case you were actually counting on me for such reviews. So here goes...


God of War III (PS3): If you've played God of War or GoWII, you should know by now what you're getting into. Not a lot has changed... you start of the game all bad ass, something happens to de-power you, you run around getting powered up for a final boss fight. Considering that the final boss fight that you're preparing for is the same final boss fight you were preparing for in GoWII, the whole setup feels a little contrived. Another thing I didn't care for was how most of the weapons you collect in the game are essentially variations on the chain blades you've been lugging around for the whole series. It's almost as if the developers have come to accept that we don't really care to use a sword when we've got knives attached to chains to swing around. Thing is, giving us more weapons attached to chains doesn't make us any more likely to use them instead of the one we've started with, so just to make sure we have to use the new weapons, the developers threw in obstacles and enemies that can only be overcome with one type of weapon. Despite these minor quibbles, God of War III is both visually impressive and the combat is as fun as it ever was. Final Score: A

Gundam Assault Survive (PSP): Essentially, GAS is a sequel to the well-regarded Gundam Battle series. The controls are the same, the game engine is the same, and the game is still divided into eras. As you might expect by now, another campaign era is added in the form of the next Gundam series in the UC timeline (F91, for those of you keeping score at home). A bit more surprising is the addition of campaigns for Gundam SEED and Gundam 00. Then there are a few minor changes to the game's formula. The most welcome change is that you don't have to pick a side for a campaign. Once you've created your pilots, you can play both the Federation and the Zeon sides of the 0079 campaign, for example. This makes it easier to unlock all the mobile suits on one save file. Another change I like is that you earn credits for doing missions, and the credits can be used to buy new units, buy special parts, or buy tune points. You no longer earn tune points for playing with a suit, so when you get a new one you can start tuning it right away. Less-liked changes are the fact that everything's been re-balanced. Most enemies take more shots to kill, even after you've tuned your mobile suits. Likewise, the most kick-ass suits are not the killing machines they were before. Getting new suits is a pain as well. You don't unlock suits, you unlock the ability to buy them. However, most mobile suits will need to be developed before you can buy them. For example, after you have the Zaku II S-type, you'll need to find or buy a part to equip on it, then buy the development plan for Char's Zaku II just to unlock the ability to buy Char's Zaku II. This can make unlocking many of the game's suits an expensive chore.

But the biggest change in the game, and one I'm on the fence over, is the addition of multi-map missions. The first missions in a campaign may only have one or two areas, but later missions in the game will have up to nine. Finishing a mission now isn't about simply completing an objective; you will have to try to control different areas and defend your ship while trying to complete an objective. Sometime an objective might be to destroy a certain mobile suit, but that mobile suit won't appear until conditions are met like destroying enemy ships or controlling certain areas. The result is that many missions are longer and less-suited toward the bite-size gameplay the PSP is best for, and there are fewer missions. Indeed, missions like the War in the Pocket mission in previous Gundam Battle games are now a number of areas in just one mission. So while the new tactical elements are a plus, the way it's implemented can often be a minus. If push came to shove, I'd have to say that Gundam Battle Universe is still the better game. Final Score: B-

Pokemon SoulSilver (DS): I admit to having a certain weakness for core Pokemon games. There's a part of my brain that likes collecting stuff (it's the same part that compelled me to find all the Riddler Challenges in Arkham Asylum, or to unlock all the costumes in a Dead or Alive game). And when you get down to it, Pokemon is a basic, but fun, turn-based JRPG. Back in the days of the Gameboy, I liked the original, and I thought that Gold/Silver/Crystal were better. In recent times, I've enjoyed the newer ones but always felt that they were a step down from Gold/Silver/Crystal. SoulSilver is basically a DS remake of Silver. While newer moves and secondary types have rebalanced the game since the days when the Gameboy Color was king, SoulSilver (or HeartGold, if you prefer) is still probably the best of the Pokemon games. Final Score: A-

Battlefield Bad Company 2: I enjoyed Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when it came out. When Modern Warfare 2 came out, it was a huge letdown. The characters in the game are unlikeable and possibly insane. The plot is convoluted and at times doesn't even make sense. Infinity Ward more or less jumped the shark, and I've pretty much lost any interest I had in the Call of Duty franchise. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the new modern-military FPS hotness. All of characters in Bad Company 2 have their own unique (if sometimes stereotypical) personalities. This makes for likeable characters, humorous dialogue, and the occasional dig at Modern Warfare. While the plot is a little ridiculous, you can actually follow it without going "WTF?!" after every mission. And the combat is pretty much what you can expect from modern FPSes. My only real complaint is the amount of smoke in the game. Grenades will kick up dirt, wood will splinter, brick will crumble, and buildings will collapse. All of it kicks up dirt and dust that obscures your vision, but never really seems to bother the enemy AI. If you like FPS games, you owe it to yourself to pick up BFBC2, as it's better than Modern Warfare 2 in pretty much every way. Final Score: A

Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360): Since the advent of Gran Turismo, racing games have been divided into two catagories. On the one hand, you've got your arcade racers, which range from Ridge Racer to Need for Speed to Burnout. On the realistic side, there's been a few games like TOCA Race Driver, but only Forza Motorsport ever really seemed to compete with Gran Turismo. The physics were better, and you didn't spend a ton of time screwing around in used 1989 Honda Civics. Forza 3 is hands down the best of the Forza series. Even though I thought Forza is better than Gran Turismo, Forza and Forza 2 were still too tedious for me to really get into. Forza 3 had me completely hooked, though. The career mode spans six seasons. Each season has a championship series, and you pass the time between championship events by racing in other evens. Different events will have you racing different cars in different classes. Forza 3 makes it easy to figure out what class you car is, and provides ways of automatically upgrading it to the top of one class without going over into the next one. For example, you might have a car that's an E class, and you might want to race it in a D-class event. You can choose to automatically take it up to D without accidentally going into C. As such, you don't spend too much time tuning, and you spend more of your time driving. The only (and I do mean only) complain I have about Forza 3 is that the game sometimes doesn't know when you've got too much of a good thing. Most races early in the game are two or three laps on a short track, but championship races in later seasons can be several laps on extremely long tracks. It's not uncommon for one race event to take a half-hour to complete. While it's sometimes fun to try to beat your best lap time on such a race, it can also be a little dull when you've actually lapped mos to of the competition and start to zone out. Final Score: A.

Silent Hill: Homecoming (Xbox 360): This was the first Silent Hill game I'd played since the original back on the first PlayStation. I remember really liking the first one, and I'd picked up Homecoming on clearance at a Best Buy. It's been sitting on my shelf for probably over a year now, unplayed. I decided to give it a whirl, and I'm actually sorry that I did. The game is complete rubbish, and it's really the fault of the combat system. People have complained that the combat in previous Silent Hill games have been the game's weakest points. In attempting to fix it, the developers actually made it worse. Homecoming is frustrating to the point of unplayable. Final Score: F.

Halo: ODST (Xbox 360): I have no clue why Halo is still so popular. Sure, the original was fun in its time. I didn't particularly care for Halo 2, but I could see people still being into it. But by the time Halo 3 came out, there were plenty of better FPS games, both for single-player and multi-player. I guess Bungie knows that the Halo fans will pretty much buy a sack full of turds if they put the Halo brand on it, and that's pretty much what they did with ODST. The gameplay, which has gotten worse with each new Halo game, is just awful in ODST, so I'm finding myself not caring about any of the characters. The story's kind of pointless, too, since by now most fans would know how Master Chief wins the war. The only positive thing I can say about ODST is that a lot of the voice cast are from Firefly (Nathan "Malcom" Fillion, Alan "Wash" Tudyk, and Adam "Jayne" Baldwin). Final Score: D-.


Hot Tub Time Machine: Probably one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. What I really like about it is that it makes no excuses and attempts no explanations for how over-the-top ridiculous it really is. Final Score: A+

The Bounty Hunter: You'd think a movie about a bounty hunter trying to collect on a bounty that's on his ex-wife would be funny. The previews certainly make it look funny. But it's one of those movies where all the funny stuff is in the previous, and the rest of the movie is a predictable and dull romantic comedy. Final Score: D+

Clash of the Titans: It's a movie about a guy sets off on a quest to save a city from Hades. Not because he really cares about the city, mind you... mostly because he's pissed at Hades for killing his family. As he goes about his quest, he fights a lot of monsters. All-in-all, Clash of the Titans doesn't offer a lot in the way of plot or surprises, but watching a pissed-off dude fight monsters makes for a decent popcorn flick. Final Score: B

Iron Man 2: It picks up where the first one left off. Tony's dealing with being both the rock-star head of a huge corporation AND a superhero in the spotlight. Iron Man 2 is a little busy at times, though. We're dealing with the government wanting Stark to give them Iron Man, we're dealing with Ivan Vanko wanting revenge of Stark, we're dealing with Justin Hammer wanting his company to one-up Stark for military contracts, we're dealing with Stark's friendship with James Rhodes, we're dealing with Stark's daddy issues, and we're dealing Stark confronting his own mortality. It's all played brilliantly by the cast, but it feels rushed, especially the few brief fight scenes. It's a solid movie, just not as good as the first one. Final Score: A-.

1 comment:

science412 said...

I'm glad that you mini-reviewed and liked GoW 3, because I just bought it for a really good price. Now I can finally see what all of the GoW hype is all about. And "Hot Tub Time Machine" sucked... although I did see it with some really awesome people.