The 10 Minute Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

October 22, 2010

Overall, I found Enslaved to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  The physical performances by the digital actors were really impressive and the voice acting was top notch.  Andy Serkis delivers a good performance as Monkey and Lindsey Shaw shows great chemistry with him as Trip.  The game play was basic albiet mindelss fun.  While there are some upgradable moves via the game’s upgrade system, it’s fairly bare bones for this style of game and doesn’t hold a candle to games in the same genre such as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and God of War III in that department.

Where the game does shine is in its presentation and story telling, which was all top notch.  Ninja Theory did a good job of making you care about the characters and how their story was going to progress.  I thought the ending was pretty good and wasn’t what I expected, which I suppose is a good thing.

I would like to see Ninja Theory create DLC to flesh out the world they created here and perhaps give more insight into what happened in the Epilogue.

I don’t know if it would be worth paying full price simply because the game play is fairly simple and you can blow through it in 8 hours or so but it’s most definitely worth playing.  I say wait until a price drop or perhaps rent it.  Either way you’ll definitely have an entertaining and enjoyable experience with it.


The 10 Minute Review: Assassin’s Creed II

April 24, 2010

If there was a “Most Improved Series” award, this game would get it.  I’m a total completionist when it come sto games so I ended up getting all the feathers, codec pages, and viewpoints and 1000/1000 in achievements. My total playtime was just under 40 hours. Such an epic game that spanned over 20 years (game time). To me this is what I wanted out of Fable II. I liked Fable II, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. By the time I got to the crucible, I wanted the game to be over. I never had that feeling with AC II.

I liked the story although it got a little nutty at the end. With that said, thats part of the reason why I like the game so much. It’s a fairly unconventional story, and I’m glad they are taking risks with it.

Ezio as a character is more fleshed out compared to Altair.  I really enjoyed his hint of arrogance mixed with humor, just subtle enough to give him a personality of his own without coming off too strong.  I think part of the problem with Altair’s character is that he was so straightforward that he came off a bit vanilla.  There’s no such problem with Ezio.

Overall, the only real complaint I have is that the controls can get a little unwieldy at times. Considering how much control the game gives you as far as movement is concerned, I don’t give the game too much crap over it though. Sometimes it won’t jump where you want Ezio to jump and you’ll fall to your death a few times by accident, but it’s nothing major.

More than anything I’m really curious to see where the game is headed next. I thought that Italy would be a boring place to base a game before I played AC II but I ended up loving it. The mix of real life people and locales with Ubisoft’s fiction really made the game interesting and it was cool to see these real life buildings and be able to scale them and climb on them.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

May 12, 2009

It’s no mystery that licensed video games have gotten a bad rap over the years.  There have been a few games that have not lived up to the stereotype of licensed games being bad (such as Spider-Man 2, The Punisher, KOTOR, etc) but it always seems like these games are often overshadowed by games “products” that are rushed out the door to tie into a movie.  So what happens when you base a game on something that’s based on a movie that’s based on a comic book character?  A pretty damn fun time, that’s what.

I make no concessions for the game, outside of a few gameplay wrinkles, it’s essentially God of War with Wolverine instead of Kratos.  I’ll save you the hassle of reading a review that talks about frame rates and counting pixels to see if a game is actually 720p, all you really need to know is that this game is a lot of fun.  So if that’s all you wanted to know then you are set, have fun playing the game!  If you need a little bit more substance to back up my claims then read on.

You start out with a basic set of moves that can be leveled up as you go along by gaining experience for every kill you make.   After you gather a certain amount of experience and level your character up, you are awarded skill points that allow you to make Wolverine even more powerful.  This is something that Raven Software has obviously borrowed from their previous games (X-Men Legends 1 & 2, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance) and it’s certainly welcome.

This is one of the few times that blood and gore will genuinely enhance your enjoyment of a game.  Wolverine has been in plenty of crappy games in his day, none of which did justice to the brutality and violent rage the character possesses.  It never did make sense to me why a character that is based around having razor sharp claws and a violent disposition couldn’t have a game that reflected that.  Bravo to both Marvel and Raven Software for making an M-rated Wolverine game happen.  With that said, as Wolverine you will decapitate people, dismember them all the while making them shed copious amounts of blood (in style of course).  He will take real time damage with bullet holes damaging his clothes and you will even see muscle and bone exposed due to explosions (he’ll even heal back up in real time which makes for a cool effect).

Seeing such an iconic character doing all of these things is a trip because it really taps into every comic book nerd’s boy hood fantasy of seeing Wolverine completely flip out an dismember everyone in the room.   It all works in the game’s favor from all the brutal looking quick kills, to going into berserker rage and tearing into enemies.  This game does a great job of empowering the player and making you feel like a complete bad ass .

The reason why all of this blood and gore works without it all falling flat or seeming completely superfluous is because Raven Software actually developed a solid game around it.  Although the game is strongly based around gameplay found in the God of War series and other games like it, it adds enough elements of its own to make it stand out.  I think the most important of which is the lunge maneuver.  One problem I’ve always had with actions of this type is that you’ll be locked into combat with three or four enemies, while two or three other enemies are off screen shooting at you (I’m giving you the stink eye Ninja Gaiden).  This makes for a cheap and frustrating experience that artificially increases the difficulty.

Well now you have a move in your arsenal that can combat against this cheap tactic.  By locking on and hitting the lunge button, Wolverine will jump towards an enemy and pounce on them, giving you the advantage.  It sounds minor, but this move really added a lot to the gameplay in my opinion and made it more fun.  Not only is it a good offensive/deffensive move, but it also keeps the action flowing at a brisk pace since it decreases the amount of combat moments where you are running after an enemy to kill them.

Outside of the blood and gore, another thing that surprised me about this game is the Tomb Raider like elements that were included.   I will admit that the TR-style areas aren’t as strong as the rest of the gameplay and most of the environmental puzzles are sort of mindless.  Personally, I didn’t mind these parts because I enjoy the Tomb Raider series .  They went a long way in breaking things up and keeping things fresh.  Speaking of which, the game does a good job of keeping things fresh by having you play between two time periods at the same time throughout the game.  So essentially you are playing through a huge jungle level throughout the game while you are playing in other locales all at the same time. Just when you felt you were getting bored of the level you were in, the game switches back to another locale.   I don’t recall another game doing that before but it was something I felt needed to be pointed out because it kept things going.

The last thing I want to mention is the boss fights.  Although some of them are a bit on the simplistic side, most of them are fun because they force you to use the game’s more advanced move set and gameplay features to defeat them. This turned out to be great because there are quite a few tactics I honed while fighting the bosses that came in handy while playing the rest of the game.  There is one boss fight in particular that I wish I could speak about freely without spoiling anything.  Let’s just say that fans of Wolverine and more specifically X-Men comics are in for a treat.

To sum things up, I had a blast playing through Wolverine and see myself playing through it again.  Some may find the gameplay a bit on the repetitive side but fans of the source material will get a kick out of playing as Wolverine and slaying enemies left and right.  Like any game, it has its defecits (like a weak overall story, and a few non game breaking bugs that creep up from time to time), but none of which detracted from the fun I had.  This is highly recommended for fans of Wolverine and comic book fans alike and is a great rental for everyone else.

WARNING: If you are playing this game for achievements, don’t start a new game once you beat it.  Doing so will erase your previous progress!  The thing to do is simply choose a level under the level select option.  The game still keeps track of your stats after you beat  and saves after every checkpoint so you can continue your progress.

My overall score: 8.0