Entries in xbox 360 (113)
This week’s review has a continuing theme from my review of Kameo: Elements of Power. It is a theme of great companies that have fallen. This week, we focus on a company that was popular back in the day, but is now a just a laughing stock amongst gamers, Silicon Knights! Once again, for those who don’t know, they were famous for their horror survival game, Eternal Darkness. It was one of the biggest cult classics back then, even though it doesn’t particularly age well today. After that, they stayed rather quiet, and in 2008 released a game that they have been trying to get out for 10 years, Too Human. The result of this was one of the most disappointing and worst games of 2008. The game was so bad that they had to fire 24 employees. I would like to say they actually got back on their feet and made something good, but NOPE! THEY DIDN’T! They released one of the worst games of 2011 simply called X-Men: Destiny. What is it with Marvel recently having terrible games? Their movie-tie-in games were garbage, Spiderman: Edge of Time was almost as bad as their movie-tie-in games, and now this critical flop? What could have gone wrong? It had a promising setting where you could make your own mutant, but this game is just incompetently made. Bland story, bland characters, bland powers, bland boss fights, bland enemy and level design, and whatever else is bland that I didn’t mention. I swear this is one of the worst games I have ever played and might even beat Alice: Madness Returns and Call of Juarez: The Cartel as the worst game of 2011 for me. I really don’t feel like getting started with this review, but here we go. Oh, and spoiler alert, I’m going to point out bad things throughout this review.
The story revolves around the choice of playing as 3 different, but overall bland and terribly developed characters. You can choose from two scumbag boys or one just not developed at all girl who are all part of the crowd in a rally to bring mutants and humans to a peace agreement. As usual for these rallies, hell drops by and decides to start destroying everything and trying to kill everyone. This results in the X-Men starting to protect everyone, and the bland character you choose to unlock his or her hidden potential mutant powers. Throughout the game while developing your powers, you meet up with some familiar and not so familiar mutants from the X-Men and The Brotherhood and learn what the heck is going on. What can I say that I already didn’t spoil in the opening paragraph? The story is bland, boring, clichéd, terrible, and no thought was put into it. There is nothing you will care about throughout this entire story when you get to the end.
The gameplay featured in this game is your typical cut-and-paste action game where you fight against bland and boring enemies that you would see in a movie licensed game like Thor or Green Lantern from 2011. The real gimmick though is you get to choose from 3 separate, but bland powers and one power will be your main focus for a lot of your attacks. The other major gimmick, which might be this game’s only high point, is the option to add special abilities from other mutants like Wolverine, Cyclops, Northstar, and others that will give you special boosts like better defense, better attack, and the usual stuff. It gives you a huge amount of customizing, and since you have 3 main powers to choose from, you can do a whole lot with these two gimmicks. You will also be doing little challenge areas where you will usually be teamed up with a different mutants like Pyro, Toad, or Surge to beat up on the cookie cutter enemies. From time to time, you will be going through platforming sections that usually have you grabbing onto rails and running across walls while hanging onto the rails to get to higher areas that lead you to more enemies or mini-bosses. There are major bosses in this game, but they are usually few and far between. You can gain mutant points or whatever the upgrade points are called to upgrade your powers that you gain throughout the game and make your characters stronger. That is pretty much it for gameplay since for some dumb reason, there is no multiplayer…yeah, figure that reasoning out for yourself. An X-Men game with no multiplayer or co-op mode.
The graphics are um…uh…BAD! This looks like a PS2 from 2005 and even then games like the first God of War game look better than this game. The only thing I really liked were the character designs for both Nightcrawler and the giant sentinel that you fight later in the game. Everything looks like garbage, and even HD remakes for games like Resident Evil 4 and Beyond Good and Evil look better than this game. The voice acting fares better, but not by much. Nolan North does a decent job with Cyclops, and Steve Blum, who is now the go-to voice actor for anything Wolverine, does a great job. I think I enjoy Magneto’s voice actor the most, Bill Graves. Everyone else is just forgettable and bland. The music is also not that bad giving an epic feel to otherwise forgettable moments in the game.
Let’s see here, how do I continue through this part when I have basically torn this game apart throughout this review instead of saving it all here? Let’s do a quick checklist of what I already listed as bad. Bad story, bad characters, bad level design, bad combat, and bad boss fights. Well, what else could I say? This is really a cookie cutter action game that has an X-Men paint job. The most embarrassing thing that I had to do while playing this game is I had to keep checking to see if this was ACTUALLY made by Silicon Knights. It only made me more upset that such a high profiled company from the Gamecube era could make such a mediocre action game. I thought it was made by the guys who did that terrible Spiderman: Edge of Time game, Beenox or the Thor movie game tie in. Sadly, it’s true that Silicon Knights haven’t learned from their experience with Too Human, their first major bomb ever for the company. I also felt like the controls weren’t fully polished because I have gotten hit many times because I couldn’t fully defend myself since you can only attack a couple of times before you have to pause for a second. The controls also make platforming clunky since your character, even if you choose the girl, feels like she has weights strapped to her feet. I also feel like the whole customization option and the choice of what mission you undertake in the game doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. There is no consequence if you choose more X-Men or more Brotherhood missions over the other and vice versa. This whole game just feels rushed. I mean, I can understand if they ran out of money or they were under schedule constraints, but that shouldn’t be excusable here since the Canadian Government keeps bailing these hacks out! They keep getting money to hire new talent and such, but nope! They aren’t going to hire anyone new until this game sells 1 million copies. Yeah, that isn’t going to happen, guys. Either hire new help and make a better game like the rumored Eternal Darkness 2 for the Wii U, or just close up because this game won’t sell a million copies.
I am not usually the one to go into these angry review styles, but man, this game is Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Oh, did I mention this game is pure GARBAGE?! I haven’t played such a terrible game ever since Alice Madness Returns, but give that action game some credit, it had some fun action gameplay and a couple of interesting ideas. THIS GAME however, does not. I can’t believe people are giving this game a 6 out of 10 when that is being too kind. I change my mind with Alice: Madness Returns being the worst game of 2011. Now introducing the worst game of 2011, X-MEN: DESTINY!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, you could save much more money buying Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and downloading X-Men: The Arcade Game for your PS3 or 360 (literally total cost would be 50 dollars). Silicon Knights, I know you are trying to get back up on top again, but this game isn’t making your case look good with the only decent thing about this game being two character designs I liked and two boss fights with Magneto and the Sentinel, and the somewhat decent mutant power gene system. There is just no soul, and no thought put into this game. They take cues from more popular action games and put no effort into giving this game an identity. How about we review X-Men: The Arcade game next week? It would definitely get rid of the rotten smell and vibe of this terrible game. There are worse games out there, but this game, along with Mindjack and Call of Juarez: The Cartel, are the worst games of 2011.
This game gets a 1 out of 10 and an honored place on my games to blacklist.
Let us talk about Capcom here for a moment before we get to the actual game. Yes, they are a great company that has come out with some amazing games over the past 25 or more years they have been around. They have or had amazing franchises like Bionic Commando, Ghost and Goblin, Street Fighter, the multiple of other fighting franchises, Resident Evil, and most importantly, Megaman. They do know how to make awesome games and make new ones with some help, like Okami, Viewtiful Joe, and to some people, depending on who you ask, Godhand. However, Capcom does have its downside and it can be a turn-off to some gamers including me. Once they know they have a hit game, they milk it and squeeze the life out of it to make sequels or psuedo updates and sell them on the retail market. They are also not very good at keeping up with their franchises, resulting in some strange business moves, like Megaman Legends 3, a game that was shut down before its time, not making Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 downloadable, and other things that make you kind of scratch your head. It is nice we are going to see a new and rather cool-looking Devil May Cry and that Dragon’s Dogma looks great also. This review however, tackles a rather unique action game. For this game, you will need to curve your thought process around it and know that it doesn’t fully play like God of War or Bayonetta. Today’s review will be of Asura’s Wrath.
The story of Asura’s Wrath has you play the role of Asura, voiced by Liam O’Brian, in the middle of a proper way to introduce gamers to this game’s world, by making the players fight off a horde of huge rock-like demons called the Gohma in outer space. Before I continue, let me just say this first level is an amazing opening and is one of the game’s best features, because of its epic proportions. After the huge invasion and sealing away the main leader of the Gohma, Asura goes back to his loving wife, who is played by Tara Strong, and his daughter. Sadly, after he gets back, he goes see the emperor, and finds out he was set into a trap by the other demigods, who you battled alongside with. They made it look like you killed the emperor, while they killed your wife, and kidnapped your daughter to be used how the new leader, Deus, sees fit. You are then cast off onto the earth and have been in hell for 12,000 years. After escaping hell, you then go on a path of revenge to take down the other demigods, who are now the 7 Deities, and get back your daughter while saving the world from the Gohma. When I first saw this game and its story, I thought it was going to be entertaining and fun since most of the action of the game is extremely over the top and awesome. The story is actually one of the strongest things this game has going for it. It is well developed and is actually more touching and emotion-filled than I ever thought it would be. It is like a very well done dramatic anime. This is surprising since a lot of action games in the past, besides God of War 3 and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, have had terrible or corny stories. Cyber Connect 2, who you all know made the popular Naruto fighting games and other hidden gems, developed this game.
The gameplay is also a bit different. It does use a lot of the mechanics that their Naruto fighting games use, like the B or circle button being heavy attacks, triangle or Y button being smaller attacks, and the X or square button being fast projectiles. The combat is very simple, and I know this might be a turn-off to a lot of people, but I personally enjoy it. The second gimmick is that some levels are set up like shooter sections where you constantly shoot at hordes of enemies while going on a certain path. The third mechanic is the QTE fest called Synchronic Action where you, of course, go through quick time events and see some incredible action set pieces. There are also different bars that you can use, like ones that will give you more defense against attacks, and other things that will affect the game play and gives the game some extra replay value. There is no multiplayer mode, but there are a huge number of things to unlock, like concept art and even a secret ending that is the actual ending of the game. The level itself isn’t that different, but the ending set itself up for DLC. Overall, Asura’s Wrath is a rather unique experience that is a much more story-driven action game and is more cinematic than gameplay oriented. I will say this warning because of it. It is very VERY different from action games like Bayonetta. Steer clear if you are more game play-oriented, but try it out if you want something way different with your action game.
Graphically, this is where the game shines again. The Unreal 3 engine is handled well, which is funny since this is Cyber Connect’s first time using it. Everything runs smoothly and only rarely, if ever, have I encountered graphical glitches. The art style is amazing with a Buddhist art style to everyone and the rough drawn style of manga. The music is also very well done, with one of the best themes in my opinion being the game’s theme song. The voice acting is over the top and well done. You have great voice actors like Liam O’Brian, Steve Blum, Robin Atkin Downes, Bob Carter, and many others who do a great job with their roles, and it’s a game where you can play it with either the Japanese voice cast or English voice cast. This is an area where Cyber Connect has shined before and it shines here also.
So, what could be wrong with this cinematic driven action game? The major complaint I have is that its cinematic style is its greatest feature, but is also its greatest problem. Sometimes, it can be a bit too cinematic QTE driven and I would have liked to have had the ability to just put down my controller for a bit. I mean, I love it also because a lot of the QTE’s are handled very well and are extremely fun to go through, but the actual gameplay sections where you beat the tar out of enemies can be rather short, and the cinematic style of gameplay takes up like 70 percent of the game. It is a mixed opinion that I have with this kind of situation because I really love it, but I also hate it at times. I also think the music is a bit too loud at times and I can’t hear the voice actors when that happens. This however is not as big of a deal because the subtitles are huge and you can see what the characters are saying. Other than that, I don’t mind the repetition this time, and while I can see some people not picking this game up due to how many QTE moments there are, I would rather them be there than watching one huge and long cut scene. Then again, I love games like Heavy Rain where it has its QTE moments all over the place.
So, what are my final thoughts about this game? I really love it. It is one of my favorite action games because it is so unique and different from what I was expecting. Sure, I would like to have fought and killed the guy who killed Asura’s wife and taken down the Gohma Striker, but I think they have a very solid original IP here that I could see a sequel being made from it. I know people might be on the fence about buying this game, but I say either rent it to try it out yourself or wait for the price to drop to check it out. It is one of my favorites. I really enjoy Cyber Connect 2’s recent games and I hope they come back to this unique world of Asura’s Wrath.
This game gets a solid 9 out of 10
Action RPG games can be fun, can’t they? Of course, it all depends on the people making the games to result in them being good or not. For example, the Tales team always puts out a high quality action RPG like Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Graces F. On the other hand, Lionhead Studios, who makes the Fable games, keeps hyping them to no end, resulting in them being terrible games with some decent ideas, but just nothing creative or innovative. You would think they would learn from their mistakes, but they don’t. The game might have a fun art style and the help of one of the Monty Python people, but man, the Fable franchise just needs to be buried deep within the Ark and put away by top men never be seen again. Unless Fable: The Journey is good, I will change my mind about them. Now, we have two companies who are working on the game in today’s review, BIG HUGE Games and 38 Studio. One of these companies is famous for the popular Rise of Nation games, and for the other company, this is their first project. It does have some nice visuals and has the back-up of lead designer Ken Rolston who also worked on Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, and fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore writing about the game and its lore. Do all of these people make this a good game? Or is it just another average action RPG that was overly hyped and disappointing like Dragon Age 2? Let us find out in today’s review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
The story speaks of this mystical land of Amalur and its inhabitants that are bound by fates. Their destinies are already determined as to when they are born and how they will die. Currently, the people of Amalur are in a never-ending conflict with a race of beings called the Tuatha Deohn, a race of dark elf-like beings who do not follow the threads of fate, and keep coming back to life after they are killed. A small group of Gnomes, one of them delightly voiced by Jim Cummings, are building a device called the Well of Souls. This little project they have is meant to bring back people from the dead. You play as the first being they bring back to life. Shortly after you get out of the Well of Souls and are out into the beautiful artistically styled world of Amalur, you set off on a journey to find your own fate and destroy the villains that roam this incredibly massive world. The story is pretty much set up like the Elder Scrolls to where there is a good amount of themes going on with the world, but it isn’t a linear story with a huge free-roaming world and your choice to follow the story or not. If you choose to explore, you can find an interesting lore that blends it self with a somewhat familiar, but rather interesting world filled with different characters that you can meet on your merry way. I guess a shorter summary of the story is that if you like RPG stories like Skyrim, you will like this game’s story.
When you get started in the game, you get to choose what kind of being you would like to be out of four different races. They are basically two different kinds of humans and two different kinds of elf-like beings. You get to choose what they look like to a certain extent, due to a rather simple, but not terrible character creator. A fun little addition though is that you get different perks depending on what race you choose to be. The gameplay is a free-roaming action RPG with a huge and I really mean HUGE world to travel across. I haven’t seen a game world be this big since Just Cause 2. It is nuts how big it is. You basically traverse this huge land on foot or by fast traveling if you have found a town or some kind of cave. The combat that people will compare it to is a lot like God of War or if the Fable series actually cared about having a unique combat system. There are a huge number of weapons to use, 9 in total, and you can upgrade them with better weapons and have special moves. This game does go by a simple class system like a warrior, thief, and a magic user. However, there is a very cool system where you can mix the three classes together. You want to be a rogue who uses magic? You bet! You want to be a magic user who uses huge swords and giant hammers? You bet! You want to be a jack-of-all-trades and have expertise in all of the classes? YOU BET YOU @#$%ING CAN!!! This is really cool. It is like a simple version of Blue Dragon or Final Fantasy 5’s class system. There is a fun super mode called Reckoning Mode where you can kill a horde of enemies faster and then go after the boss of the group to pull off a super finisher ala Mortal Kombat style. The finishers are epic since there is a quick-time event in each one, and if you press the button fast enough, you gain more and more experience points. I have to agree with some reviewer saying that quick-time events should be implemented like this if you put them in action RPG’s. There are even ways to get a house to put your stuff in, have a good source of income, and persuade different situations to your liking that is pretty cool. Just like Mass Effect 3 and Witcher 2, you can change what happens in the quest. You want to help a giant sealed demon become free instead of sealing it back in? You bet! You want to kill the villager that you were protecting from a horde of spiders and the leader of said spiders? You bet! You want to keep an item that you went to give someone because you had to kill a troll and not her? YOU BET! I love this. This gives an already huge game even more replay value because it can take you up to 100 or more hours to beat if you want to take on all side quests and the main quest. This is great, but how good is this massive amount of playtime? Well, let us talk about the presentation next.
Graphically, to be honest, is fine. It gets the job done and it is a pretty amazing world artistically. I love the art style that went into this game. I mean, amazing graphics are a plus, but they are just icing on the cake for me when I write up these reviews. I care more about story and gameplay. I will say though when you are in a very open area and the light of day is just right, the colors look amazing! I also love some of the designs of the monsters, especially the trolls, which have a fun unique look to them. The overall graphic engine might be flawed slightly, but it looks good with a huge number of bright colors. The music, composed by Grant Kirkhope is rather nice and soothing with some epic tunes when needed. The voice acting is a bit of a mixed bag, but is pretty good. They do not use a huge number of voice actors with a few big names like Jim Cummings, Jim Ward, and Liam O’Brian playing multiple roles in the game and Cummings taking the role of one of the main villains. Overall, there is a really cool-looking world here.
So, you get a huge world to venture through, some memorable bosses and characters, and great combat and leveling up system. What could be wrong with this grand and mostly epic RPG? First off, it might be a bit too big and have maybe a bit too much to do. A lot of quests are pretty much the same throughout some areas, with some unique ones popping up every now and then. There could have been more happening in the overworld, like much larger monsters than trolls or those huge fat red monster guys roaming around like giants or dragons like in Skyrim. I just think this game was originally supposed to be like an MMO since there are little things that make it feel like an MMO-turned-single-player-offline-RPG. I mean, imagine your character on a quest to find a hive of trolls and a gigantic troll queen or something producing the trolls instead of another elf-like character wanting to rule the world? What about fighting a giant three-headed ogre ala Shadow of the Colossus? The music doesn’t really play as loudly as it should, all the characters look the same, and some of them sound the same. There isn’t a lot going on in the overworld, you can’t jump up mountains to find alternate paths to dungeons, and the graphics look more akin to if World of Warcraft ever decided to care about updating its graphics engine up a notch. It would also be kind of cool if there were underwater fights like in Monster Hunter Tri.
Overall, this is one of my favorite games of 2011 and it helps that I was not as big of a fan of Skyrim as everyone else was. Not that Skyrim was the worst game of all time, but I don’t think it was worth all the 9’s and 10’s people keep giving it. Plus, for a new IP and the first game for a new company, it is pretty successful in my opinion. I know a lot of people were overly upset about the day 1 free DLC code if you bought a new copy of the game, but I think people are overreacting to it. They could have asked us to download the code and pay for it, but maybe instead using the term, “online pass” in this kind of situation is not right. Maybe, they should have said DLC pass instead of online pass. However, I highly recommend you go out and buy this game. It is really worth it. You get some of the best combat in American-made action RPG history, a huge world, some interesting lore, and a wonderful new RPG hopefully turning into a franchise with more single player offline RPG sequels. I just hope they don’t turn this into an MMO since I am not into those as much. If you are looking for a great RPG to hold you over until Dragon Age 3 or Witcher 2 for your 360, then I say go pick up Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning!
This game gets an 8 out of 10
Killatia may have been a bit late to the midnight release of Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City but there was still plenty of zombies waiting at the local Gamestop. PLus it finally gave him a reason to use his Flip camera.