Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

I really liked Red Faction: Armageddon, the fourth game in the Red Faction series, but it’s largely considered inferior to its predecessor, Red Faction: Guerrilla. I avoided Guerrilla for the longest time because it apparently had troubles with Games For Windows Live, which was only stripped out of the game at the end of 2014. After playing through it for the first time, however, I can’t help but wonder why it’s considered the superior game of the two; Armageddon had a sense of eeriness and progress as you pushed forward, whereas Guerrilla exists solely as a vanilla sandbox explosion simulator with a terrible story and terrible characters tacked on. That’s not even mentioning the low-gravity physics weirdness that makes the entire game feel like one of Mass Effect’s “Mako” sections. The only redeeming aspect of the game is the destructibility of the many buildings you come across, but sometimes they don’t even stay destroyed, and when they do, you never get the sense that they’re lived in or important so much as they exist solely to be shot at, making their destruction somewhat less fulfilling. Add on top of that the less creative arsenal—I seriously missed fun weapons like the magnet gun and many others from Armageddon—and it’s just a vastly inferior game. Read more →

Endless Ocean Review

As I’ve covered in the past few reviews, it’s been too hot to play PC games, so I’ve been making an effort to tackle older console games and fill out some of this site’s more underrepresented platforms while trying to stay cool. The temperatures are starting to normalize into something a bit more reasonable, but I couldn’t end my little marathon without reviewing a Wii game; at the moment, I’ve only reviewed a single Wii game, that being Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, one of my all-time favorites. Since then, I haven’t covered any despite a stack of Wii games sitting right here next to me. The reason is one of cables: to record Wii gameplay with my HDPVR requires a TV with component cables, and all I’m working with at the moment are HDMI inputs and an older TV that only accepts composite. I got around this by using an emulator for Radiant Dawn and transferring my Wii saves into it, but the tradeoff was that it ran like a slideshow, so I only got screenshots of the first map and the one I was at in my then-current game. I only recently found an adapter that downsamples component to composite, so the Wii and Gamecube are now much more viable to review. Unfortunately for me, I chose to begin with Endless Ocean, a game that I had mixed feelings about when it first released. Those feelings have since deteriorated and snowballed into an avalanche of unbridled hatred toward this boring game and all of the endless stupidity it throws your way. Read more →

Valkyria Chronicles Review

Originally released in 2008 exclusively for the Playstation 3, Valkyria Chronicles is one of those games that I really wanted to try, but was nevertheless on the fence about. On the one hand, it looked like an incredibly creative game. On the other, games with an anime aesthetic sometimes go very bad, turning into preachy, screechy, utterly abominable messes. Eternal Sonata is a wonderful example of this, taking one of the greatest classical composers and thrusting a ridiculous, fictionalized anime version of him into a world devoid of meaning or entertainment. Skies of Arcadia is another example, which, while not quite as bad as Eternal Sonata, had a story that made absolutely no sense and saw its characters acting as stupidly as possible in order to hamfistedly stitch together something resembling a plot. Before I had a chance to make up my mind about Valkyria Chronicles, however, my Playstation 3’s disc drive broke and the decision was made for me. Imagine my surprise when an inexpensive PC port came out of nowhere and included the DLC. Needless to say, I finally pulled the trigger, and I’m glad I did—this is an amazing game that deserves all the praised heaped on it and more. Read more →

Final Fantasy XIII Review

I wanted to love Final Fantasy 13, and for the first two dozen or so hours, I succeeded in doing so. However, the completely needless character drama, stunning absence of any kind of logic behind the game’s ending, and painful slogs through too-long parts of the game ensured that I was severely let down. Whereas I originally enjoyed just about everything the game had to offer, I grew to hate it by the end, even going so far as to make excuses to avoid having to play it anymore. This is a game that tells a complicated story involving deities who are never shown or even explained in enough depth to actually understand what’s happening over the course of the story, most notably toward the end, and this is unacceptable. Read more →

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

As much as I love Batman, I can’t bring myself to enjoy Arkham Asylum. Yes, the freeflow combat system is interesting. Yes, it’s nice to go up against an array of Batman villains. Yes, the lighting and graphics are surprisingly solid for a 2009 game. None of that makes up for the game’s poor pacing, weird mechanics, lengthy sections of tedium, trial-and-error mechanics that often only explain how to succeed at a section once you fail, and awkwardly linear design that ensures that you rarely have more than one or two ways to approach a situation. I made sure to install both Arkham Asylum and its sequel Arkham City in order to develop a better understanding of what makes City the superior experience, and the two are truly night and day. It’s amazing how much was improved in the sequel. Read more →

Sacred 2 Gold Review

As I mentioned in my Sacred 1 review, I’m playing through the 3 Sacred games back-to-back-to-back to get an idea of how the series has changed over the years. I hadn’t touched a Sacred game before deciding to play through the whole series, so it’s an interesting opportunity to see the pros and cons of each entry without the burden of rose-colored nostalgia glasses. Sacred 2 is definitely one of the stranger games in the series, being mediocre in just about every way, yet having been built up in fans’ minds as some kind of an underrated classic. It isn’t a classic, though, and it not only retains many of the first game’s flaws, but actually adds in plenty of its own. Put simply, Sacred 2 is an exercise in frustration. Read more →

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