Blog · Video Games

Team Sonic Racing Review/End of the Weekly Cycle

Well, I managed it for a few months, but at this point, it’s time for me to come to terms with the fact that the weekly posting schedule ain’t happening. Alas. Besides, there’s not enough worthwhile news for me to keep up a good output of parody articles like the Batwoman one. The world is simultaneously too cringe inducing and, yet, not cringe-inducing enough!

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As I cope with these shocking revelations, enjoy this fantastic review of Team Sonic Racing, which happens to closely align with my views on the game. Hell, the reviewer even mentioned the Babylon Rogues. Funny, I thought I was the only one who remembered them.

Anywho, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter for more hot-off-the-press blogging and game coverage.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Aliens: Colonial Marines for Xbox 360 —– Not the Worst Game Ever

As the title states, I definitely don’t think Colonial Marines deserves the heaps of hate it has been so abundantly receiving; far from it. While the game definitely isn’t good enough to win any awards come GOTY time, it’s a solid enough cooperative first person shooter to at least warrant a rental, contrary to what everyone else has been saying.images

Aliens CM picks up right where Aliens 3 left off, to my knowledge. The plot is shallow at best, maintaining a run-of-the-mill superficial narrative throughout. But let’s get real, the Aliens movies were never about their amazing plot lines and beautifully crafted characters. They were about seeing aliens with mouths inside of mouths eat the guts out of space marines who thought they were tough. In that respect, Colonial Marines delivers.

There’s enough action to keep any trigger-happy marines happy, and there’s a lot more marines vs. aliens content than other reviews had previously lead me to believe. You only spend a fourth of your time versing rival Weyland Yutani troops, with the emphasis being on the aliens and a darkly lit survival horror atmosphere. While it’s never actually scary, I definitely got more chills within minutes of Colonial Marines than I got in all of Metro 2033. There are moments where you’ll gingerly shine your headlight at a corner of the room, only to see a yard long tail scurry out of view and leave you nervous to tread onwards. With that said, the actual gunplay eliminates all possible tension and previous suspense in favor of a more arcade-y shooter experience. Once the aliens show themselves, they stand on two feet and just start slashing wildly, leaving themselves wide open for your insanely huge arsenal of firearms to penetrate every inch of their black-shelled bodies. It’s mindless shooting that requires no ammo conservation whatsoever, as the minute you run out of bullets for one primary weapon you can swap off to any of the other seven which renders you an overpowered beast on the battlefield.

The previous description of the gunplay is extremely prevalent in co-op. With a full squad consisting of four half-decent players, you can level any alien or Yutani threat in your way without so much as breaking a sweat on soldier difficulty or lower. I experimented on Ultimate Badass difficulty for three missions, and even then there was little challenge with a full squad of kick-ass teammates. The fact that there wasn’t much challenge didn’t make things boring, it just allowed me to experiment with some of my lesser-used guns and gave me an opportunity to go all-out Rambo instead of smart, conservative marine. If you can play in co-op, it’s definitely the way to play. The online community isn’t exactly bustling, but I managed to have a minimum of two teammates with me at all times in my campaign playthrough. 

While the cooperative multiplayer faired well, the competitive didn’t soar quite to the same heights. In the very first round of team deathmatch I played, I glitched through a wall texture and sat in a green, enclosed space unable to move until the round was over. Things did get better after that and I didn’t experience any other glitches, but it was a seriously bad introduction to Colonial Marines’ competitive aspect. The multiplayer modes themselves aren’t anything special, with the usual team deathmatch, base defense, survivor being present along with a neat mode where you have to advance through a stage as a marine without getting killed off by an enemy player’s alien. The issue is that no one plays any mode other than team deathmatch and survivor, so I rarely got to enjoy a match of the other two modes which were surprisingly fun in the short windows I had to experience them. Playing as an alien is a fun diversion, and although the controls are clunky and are seriously underpowered when versing an alert marine, it still allows for some fun tactical espionage when you and your alien compatriots team up on an unsuspecting soldier and take him out with a brutal tail mauling.

Overall, I actually had a fun time with Aliens: Colonial Marines. I don’t know if it’s because I went in with zero expectations because of all the bad press surrounding it, or because I watched Aliens 2 and Prometheus over the weekend. I just enjoyed it in the way that a young kid enjoys running through a sprinkler. Sure, it feels stupid and inferior to the vastly superior pool, but it’s great for what it is. That, combined with all of the cool references to the Aliens films, made for a game that I think everyone should at least give the benefit of a doubt and rent.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Crysis 3 for Xbox 360

I really didn’t like Crysis 2. To put it bluntly, I thought the story was drab and the core gameplay didn’t fare much better. Honestly, Crysis 2 only really struck my fancy online, and even then I only kept the game for a few days. So how does this third installment pan out? In a time of game development where sequels of sequels (ACIII, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3) tend to suck and reflect poorly on their franchises, does Crysis 3 break the trend? I’m here to report no, not really.Crysis-3_2012_05-03-12_003

Now, I actually went into this game with a positive outlook. Sure, I didn’t like Crysis 2, but this one had a Katniss Everdeen bow and giant dams that you could blow up! So it must be better, right? Well, as far as setpieces go, it’s definitely an upgrade from its predecessor. Hell, in presentation as a whole it’s better than Crysis 2. The main characters, Prophet and Psycho, actually have a somewhat real bond with each other and we get to see personalities of these characters that were previously unknown to the player. Their journey actually means something to us this time around, which is a good change of pace from the series’ reputation of barebones plots consisting of “some aliens invaded, go shoot the mothership” and nothing else. From a graphics standpoint, Crysis 3 is also a major improvement. It’s taken the Xbox as far as it can go, and honestly makes me question why we even need a new generation of consoles with new tech specs when we already have games like Crysis 3 around.

Further improvements in the presentation of Crysis are most obvious in the musical score. The first two hours of the campaign have some of the best sci-fi shooter music I’ve ever heard, and it REALLY got me sucked into the experience. The only thing that pulled me out of said experience is when I encountered a couple of odd audio bugs, like voices becoming obnoxiously tinny/static-y and the rare instance where a character would say two voice clips over each other.

Where Crysis 2 failed me was in the campaign and the core gameplay, and I can say without a doubt I had more fun in Crysis 3’s campaign, even if that’s not saying much. The gameplay is only marginally better, and about ninety percent of that is due to the abundance of cool environments to traverse and the Predator Bow. Roaming around the urban jungle (literally a jungle) of a destroyed New York City hunting paramilitary “CELL” units with your extremely lethal folding bow is literally the definition of bliss, and taking out enemies by the dozens in the shadows is a blast. And, when the enemies ramp up in difficulty later in the campaign, you still have the option from Crysis 2 to cloak yourself and just run past everything. The only difference between running past everything here and in Crysis 2 is that unlike in 2, here it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Crysis 3’s campaign only lasts about four hours, give or take a couple minutes. For a game where you could hypothetically run past everything right to the end, four hours seems like a more appropriate runtime than Crysis 2’s nine to ten hours.

When you wrap up the campaign, there’s the online multiplayer, which is just an extension of Crysis 2’s multiplayer, with the addition of the fantastic new “hunter” mode and a mode that lets you play the multiplayer maps Call of Duty style. All this does is infuse campaign gameplay into competitive multiplayer, and if you want any further detail than that go check out my Crysis 2 review. Long story short, it’s a fun destraction for people sick of generic FPS multiplayer, but on the other hand, it’s nothing more than that: a distraction. It’s a time passer, and I can firsthand say that within a month or two the online community will have dwindled to almost nothing.

Overall, I liked Crysis 3 a lot more than Crysis 2. The overall package just felt slicker, grander and more competitive online, leaving me with a sense of pleasure that was absent at the end of Crysis 2. From an objective standpoint, Crysis 2 is by far the superior game, but if you like big setpieces, wicked music, state-of-the-art graphics and a currently bustling online community, Crysis 3 is the game for you. And when I say Crysis 3 is the game for you, I mean it’s the game to RENT for you. DO NOT GO OUT AND BUY THIS GAME. It’s fun for the scares and giggles, but you can experience everything this game has to offer in under seven hours. It’s worth a five dollar rental, but sure as hell not sixty bucks.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Escape Plan for PS Vita

I’ve had this game for, like, a year now.escape-plan-ps vita

Escape Plan is a puzzle platformer that uses touchscreen controls only. Initially, that sounds like a really scary premise: Precise puzzle movements that are controlled solely by twitchy fingertip recognitions. In reality, the final product is actually pretty great and does a good job utilizing its control scheme.

The motions you’ll play Escape Plan with are finger taps, swipes, swirls and rear touchpad bumps. It’s all utilized extremely well, and rarely do levels require awkward combinations of the previously mentioned movements. On the best of levels, you actually start to think touchscreen controls are a good thing in gaming. It’s a combination of the clever level design and quirky gimmicks that make the touchscreen gameplay work, as levels and gimmicks allow you enough processing time to figure out the puzzles and keep your fingers moving. I think that’s the key to touchscreen gaming, allowing you enough time to do your motions on-screen correctly, which Fun Bits Interactive (the developer) nails.

While gameplay alone is a big plus for Escape Plan, its real charm lies in its presentation and audio. The game chooses to diversify itself from other platformers by being completely black and white, like something out of a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon. Not only that, but every character hosts an inky, blobby physique, one that complements the two color color scheme perfectly. As simplistic as the visuals are, the graphics maintain cutting edge status for Vita standards, the lighting/shading effects being a perfect example of Escape Plan’s graphical capabilities. With that said, things still have an innocent factor to them that the game’s decidely classical soundtrack only helps to exemplify. Beethoven’s 5th playing as two black and white inky blobs scuttle and bumble their way through obstacles such as razor blades and giant hammers has a certain appeal that not many games have, being both perilous and humorous at the same time.psv-escape-plan-ss4

In conclusion, Escape Plan is both a poster child of intuitivity (new words ftw) and proper touchscreen controls, two things gaming as a medium is in desperate need of. Even if there’s only three to four hours worth of content in the actual package, Escape Plan’s unique allure alone is enough to justify the fifteen dollar price tag.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Resident Evil 6 for Xbox 360

Since the world ended today, what better a game to review than one with worldwide pandemics and zombie apocalypses? My thoughts exactly. Now on to the review!resident-evil-6

Story: Chris Redfield returns from military retirement to run around like a jackass with big guns and an expendable partner. Leon S. Kennedy gets framed for murders and uncovers conspiracy. Jake Muller has a cool plot regarding a new virus that’s broken out and the hunt for his antibodies to it.

Sound: The music is eerie as sh*t. It’s something pulled straight out of a classic 1980’s horror movie, what with the psycho-keys and all those other shenanigans. There’s some pretty great orchestrated stuff mixed in their too, but nothing o-m-g inducing. The voice acting is great, and dramatic to a silly degree as it should be. The sound effects are well done, and the pop of a zombie head flying off its socket is seriously satisfying. Sound: 9/10

Presentation: The graphics are cutting edge, as far as third person shooters go. Everything is crisp and slick, and every texture has a nice glossy touch about it. The water animations in peticular are phenomenal, and overall Capcom should give themselves one big pat on the back for the overall prettiness of this package. Presentation: 9.5/10

Gameplay: People can move. While shooting. It’s f&%$ing insane.

But seriously, this stacks up pretty well against current third person shooters. The cover system, like many other reviewers have stated, is complete nonsense and isn’t worth using, but otherwise RE6 does a pretty above average job. The menu systems are great, allowing you to swap guns and herbs (health potions) in the blink of an eye, and the gameplay has a nice rhythm to it. Every so often there’ll be a quick-time event which feels surprisingly organic in this game, unlike others where it feels completely out of place. The best segments have to be the bits of Jake’s story where you get to drive vehicles, like motorcycles and snowmobiles. During those scenes, the adrenaline is pumping and the speed is on par with Sonic. It’s really cool, to put it bluntly. And there’s enough of these to really keep the mojo going when things seem to be taking a boring turn in the category of level design, which happens occasionally. Other than the absurd amount of firefights in this game, the level design, gameplay elements and gimmicks are really well done and provide a really hefty gaming experience, a nice change of pace from less intriguing TPS titles such as Mass Effect 3. Gameplay: 8.5/10resident_evil_6_51

Multiplayer: So much multiplayer, so few words to review it in. To kick off RE6’s multiplayer, there is the bad-ass co-op feature for EVERY campaign in the game (at the time of my reviewing this, a patch has been released that makes Ada’s campaign co-op). This feature is a blast and allows you to join either a friend’s game via XBL or a random person’s game. My only issues with the online gameplay are the amounts of lag at times and the fact that you need to join a person’s lobby from the start to get credit for completing a chapter.
The split-screen co-op feature is a nifty addition, but the kind of splitscreen Capcom went for pisses me off. It’s two mini-screens and a LOT of blank space on your TV, instead of a vertical line dividing the screen in two. So in other words, two people have to share min-screens the size of a PS Vita’s. It’s not horrendous if you have a big enough TV, but you get the idea.
Agent Hunt mode is freakin’ fantastic, allowing you to play as the zombies and creatures that tormented you during your playthrough of the campaigns. Not only can you ruin another player’s game, but you can make them rage quit AS THE INTENDED PURPOSE OF THE MODE. Capcom has had a few strokes of genius in their history, and allowing those of us who love to troll do it fairly in an entire game mode devoted to it is one of them.
Mercenaries is a fun horde-mode diversion, but getting a partner good enough to get an A rank with is a bit of a rarity. It’s all worth it though when you achieve that A rank and get Helena’s alternate cop costume… sooo worth it…
Multiplayer: 9.5/10

Length: The campaigns are seriously thick in terms of length, even if you’re just running through levels. Each chapter clocks up to about two hours, and there are twenty of these. That’s fourty hours for the story alone. Then, there’s the SERIOUSLY fun multiplayer modes that are good enough to keep me playing RE6 non-stop for hours, unlike some other games in this genre. Mass Effect 3 (and to be fair, Gears of War 3 too). Length: 10/10

Overall: This kick-ass survival horror action game gets a solid 9.3 zombie heads out of 10. I really don’t get why people hate on this game so much, it’s awesome. If you took out the title “Resident Evil” and swapped it with ANYTHING else people would drool over this game. It’s that good.